Thursday, September 30, 23:50 CDT
Coolness! I just found a version of Taipan (the definitive Buy Low, Sell High, and Fight Pirates game) for the Palm Pilot over on It could use a little tweaking in terms of layout/interface, but it's a faithful translation, right down to the little ship graphics in battle becoming riddled with holes and sinking...

p1k3 / 1999 / 9 / 30

Tuesday, September 28, 22:33 CDT
Everything in ~/bbearnes should be back to normal.

Finally finished a sort-of review of Ender's Shadow.

Finished The Three Musketeers yesterday. Great stuff. High action, drama, great characters, and (what I didn't expect) really *funny*. Conveying the absurdities of subject matter like this without destroying everything else has to be tough, and it's pulled off beautifully here. I'm definitely going to have to read more by Alexandre Dumas. Oh, and if anyone still doubts that handheld devices and PDA's work for reading long written works, I'm up to around a thousand pages worth of material so far. (Most of it courtesy of Memoware.)

I've been wanting to play some Interactive Fiction lately.

(What, you ask, is Interactive Fiction? Well, it could mean a lot of things, but it's generally applied to what used to be called text adventures. Games in which you read descriptions of locations and objects, and interact with the game world by using various text commands. Back in the day, companies like Infocom thrived on creating text adventures that're still remembered as classics, and which have exerted a huge influence on gaming as a whole. Waaaay back in the day, there was Adventure, which is probably one of the 3 or 4 games that could be credited with starting it all. IF has a long, rich history, and despite popular misconceptions, it's still very much alive today. If this sounds even the least bit interesting, there're a ton of cool resources out there. For example, has a nice section on IF, is a wonderful newsgroup from all I hear, and the Maze of twisty Web pages, all alike has more stuff than you can shake a stick at (I'm not even going to go into why you'd be shaking a stick to begin with).)

I'd seen mentions of using Palm devices to play IF, which sounded like it'd be worth a try, so I grabbed a few games and downloaded Pilot Frotz.

Entering text with Graffiti is quite a bit slower than typing, but a couple of shortcut menus and the ability to use a word already on screen by tapping it with the stylus help considerably. There are a ton of Z-Machine games out there, including the original Zork, and I think I'll take this as an opportunity to play all those classics I missed the first time around.

I've wanted to write some IF, or maybe do something more along the lines of a MUD, for quite a while now. I've made a few false starts, messed around with stuff like AGT and TADS a little... At one point I even got as far as the general outlines of a sort of MUD with a mouse based interface and modem play, in QBasic. Not exactly a project with much of a chance, even if I *had* known what I was doing. Still, who knows... Maybe one of these days, I'll actually do something. Right.

Once I got ahold of a MacOS CD, installing LinuxPPC proved to be fairly easy. So far, I'm quite impressed, although I keep running into small reminders of why I like Debian so much (LinuxPPC is based on Red Hat).

There's a ton of cool software with the installation, and the graphical login manager has a particularly nice feature in letting you select your window manager / desktop environment for a session. Especially nice since I installed both GNOME and KDE, which reminds me...

Having finally tried both of the free software desktop environments, I'm impressed by both, and kind of disgusted at the amount of needless argument and animosity surrounding them. We've actually arrived at the stage where a free operating system can run a free desktop that's as flashy, functional, and full featured as any mainstream desktop OS. For the people still saying it'll never happen, it already has. Sure, there's still progress to be made in a lot of areas, but look around you... Things are lookin' *good*.

I've been giving some thought to interfaces and usability lately, what with learning Unix/Linux, using a PalmOS device, and watching the general cluelessness with which a lot of people seem to interact with computers. I should write something up, even if it would just be rehashing other people's ideas.

Well, that's about it for the moment. Back to attempting a daily update schedule.

p1k3 / 1999 / 9 / 28
tags: topics/reading

Saturday, September 25
Grr. Argh.

Houston, we have had a problem.

Seems Hardlink is (and has been) having hardware troubles, which means (among other things) this page has been down. It still is, mostly, but I'm hoping things will be back to normal shortly.

p1k3 / 1999 / 9 / 25

Monday, September 20, 0:08 CDT
I read a article on "numbers stations" Thursday night, and fell asleep switching through stations on my little Radio Shack world band radio. Not that I found anything, but that static is strangely hypnotic...

I should learn something about radio.

I got the leather belt clip case for my Palm3x Friday. Wrote a bit about it.

My copy of LinuxPPC came Saturday morning. I made a quick scan through the documentation, then tried to install it, and of course made the discovery that I need the MacOS system CD. I could probably do it without, but I will freely confess that I don't know how. Well, that and I'm being too lazy to read more docs. Anyway, I'll get ahold of a MacOS CD tomorrow and try again.

Looking through the access log for this page has been fascinating. For example, the number of hits I get from Germans looking for info on CD burners is pretty impressive. (Babelfish translates my name to "burn".) And then there're the losers who do searches for stuff and send spam telling me they can help my business succeed by profiling my site...

Hmm... Homework I should do. Or sleep I should get. Or something.

p1k3 / 1999 / 9 / 20
tags: topics/radio

Thursday, September 16, 0:41 CDT
I had some time to kill in study hall today, so I started messing around with my counter script. Figured it'd be interesting to log IP addresses, clients, and the referer. Knowing where a given hit comes from, what web browser's being used, and the last page that browser visited is interesting, no question. It's also vaguely creepy the amount of info you could collect like this.

I was explaining this to a classmate (one Rik Smith), so he opened up a copy of Netscape on another machine in order to test it out. He typed in (which, as you might notice, has an extra "s") and made a fascinating discovery. It's always good to have a URL that's just one easily made typo away from porn. From now on, I think I'll use ;)

I actually managed to talk to the school superintendent today, as well as the guy who teaches shop/tech classes (ok, I know I'm not supposed to call them "shop" classes now, but I've forgotten the right euphemism). It sounds like something may actually happen with my proposal for an independent computer class.

There's also a pretty good chance I'll be setting up a Linux box as a web server for them. Which probably means I should read up on security, among other things.

p1k3 / 1999 / 9 / 16

Wednesday, September 15, 0:42 CDT
If I weren't in need of sleep, I'd try finishing up a review of Ender's Shadow. As is, I think I'll wait until later (much) today.

I ordered LinuxPPC on CD from LinuxPPC, Inc. for $32 US. Quite a bit more than I've paid for Debian CDs in the past, but it should be worth it. Especially since they apparently just released a new version with more hardware support and stuff yesterday.

Actually, I understand Debian's working fairly well on PowerPC these days, so I'll probably give it a try at some point. The PowerPC version, that is, since I'm already running it on x86.

I also ordered a leather case with a belt clip for the Palm. Carrying it around in my pocket is workable, but it gets a little old. And who wants that blue pocket lint collecting on their screen? Not I.

Time for sleep.

p1k3 / 1999 / 9 / 15

Sunday, September 12, 15:16:30 CDT
Ahhh. I love Sunday afternoons.

I should probably mention that I still don't know much about that proposal for my school. I've given copies to several people, and the superintendent seemed willing to discuss it, but I haven't actually been able to talk to him since then. Maybe tomorrow or Tuesday I'll finally catch him between meetings.

I've exchanged a few e-mails with Marty Nelson, who graduated from Laurel back in the Dark Ages (the mid 80's), and helped teach some of the first computer classes here. He seems to think an independent computer class would be a Good Thing, and I've gotten feedback from a number of other people who feel the same. I'll take this as a positive sign.

This Onion article, Columbine Jocks Safely Resume Bullying, says things that *need* to be said, IMO.

Suppose I'll go outside and actually do something for a while now. And then there're those chapters I'm supposed to have outlined for physics...

p1k3 / 1999 / 9 / 12

Saturday, September 11, 15:49 CDT
Updated my software page a little.

Ender's Shadow is good so far.

For the time being, I'm still linking to books on Amazon, but I'd like to set up some kind of simple database and script that'd have an entry for any book I mention here, and spit out a page with a review of the book (if I wrote one), and links to stuff like e-texts, pages devoted to the book, and entries in online bookstore catalogs.

Guess that can go on my list of of stuff to eventually do with Perl. Provided it wouldn't be too ambitious, or require a great deal of maintenance. I'm discovering that lazy as I am, anything that requires continuous upkeep is probably a bad idea.

Bearnes' First Principle of Web Authorship: "Don't matter what it is, you're gonna be too lazy to update it."

Or something like that.

Saturday, September 11, 1:30 CDT
It's been kind of a slow week.

Wow... Judging by that little counter script, people actually read this. Several of them. How'd that ever happen?

My dad and I rented Payback tonight. Not what I'd call a great movie, but a lot of fun to watch.

I bought Ender's Shadow (in hardcover) today. I'm only about 30 pages in, but I'll write something review-like up soon as I finish it.

Wow, do I ever need sleep. I'll pick this up again in the morning.

p1k3 / 1999 / 9 / 11

Wednesday, September 8, 1:38 CDT
I was curious how many hits I was getting here, so I started with an example on this page, and put together an ultra-simple counter script which you might notice at the bottom of the page.

It's the little things in life.

I've got a vague idea of putting together a couple of scripts that would let me automatically add stuff here. For example, all those news articles that I never mention here because, well, I'm not running a news site and it'd take forever. If I could just hit a key while browsing a given article, and have the link added to a list that'd be uploaded daily... Ok, it'd be pointless, but I think I'll do it anyway. Shouldn't be any more difficult than grabbing stuff out of bookmark files and putting it in the right places.

I had my senior pictures taken today. (For those of you who don't know, it's Tradition in these parts that when you're a senior in high school, you pay to have a professional photograph you so that years later, people can look at the picture in old yearbooks and comment on how stupid you looked.) Maybe I'll scan one and post it here when I get the chance.

Just noticed Stephen's Home Page has finally been updated. Nifty.

Yep, it's late. Or early. Or whatever. I do believe I'll go to bed now.

p1k3 / 1999 / 9 / 8

Sunday, September 5, 13:10 CDT
Wasn't able to upload that last update, so, well... Here it is.

p1k3 / 1999 / 9 / 5

Saturday, September 4, 1:30 CDT
I taped an episode of Roughneck: The Starship Troopers Chronicles on the Sci-Fi Channel at 6:30 Tuesday morning. If you haven't heard of it (likely), it's a CGI animated series that appears to be based (mostly) on the movie (*mutter* Verhoeven *mutter*). The bugs look about the same, but there are a few additions. The troopers were wearing some kind of body armor / pressure suits, and there were a few things that looked like miniature battlemechs, which I assume were supposed to be powered battle armor.

The sound was bizarre - a bad techno score, with heavy explosions and gunfire barely audible. And some really bad voice work, which isn't too surprising.

I'll probably tape a few more episodes - the CGI was cool, and there's a chance that it'll develop into something worth watching. Given how badly the writing sucked, it's not likely, but ya never know.

I just submitted a proposal to my school (I've really got to do something with that site, and soon). In short, I suggested sort of an independent-study computer class as a way to improve tech education. I can't honestly imagine much coming of this, but I could be wrong.

p1k3 / 1999 / 9 / 4