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Nov. 15th, 2007

The Writers Win. Dig it.

I haven't written in a while. So what? Do you have a research grant living under your bed making threatening smacking noises with its lips and becomes braver and braver each night in its ultimate goal of eating your very life essence? No? Then piss off.

In other news, the writers win:

Oct. 3rd, 2007

Madness, Greyhound Style

I made a trek to New Hampshire this past weekend to visit my girlfriend. I usually take it upon myself to make such easy trips into a pilgrimage of sorts which means two things: I'll be hitchhiking and riding a bus.

Now, I hate Greyhound (the company) but love taking buses. You meet new friends or new brands of madness which always makes for a unique experience. This time was no exception. During the ride an older woman walked to the back of the bus, from her seat in front, and proceeded to distribute the following treatise to anyone who would accept it (hit the image and see if you can decipher her diatribe):


Goodness! She has quite a bit to say! I have every intention of bringing this, risks be damned, to the next poetry slam my university holds. Don't worry, I'll attribute everything appropriately. It's not like I'm using my Microwave Technology To Abuse Her Wash In The Night.

This time.

Hit the jump for my arduously translated version thanks in great part to my new friend Rachel from the bus.Collapse )

Sep. 11th, 2007

Madeleine L'Engle

She wrote some of the most wonderful books for an awkward young man trying to come to terms with his own, let us say, quirks. In her honor, physicist David Morgan describes the four dimensional tesseract. Thus: A Four-Dimensional Tribute to the Late Madeleine L'Engle.

Sep. 4th, 2007

My College and DMCA

I'll be working, through the workstudy program, at the UMF Computer Center this semester. As such, I've been receiving a number of policy e-mails from the Computer Center's list service. One of which, from a head person in the Computer Center hierarchy, discussed an issue near and dear to my heart:

There has been a bit of misinformation afoot so I wanted to clarify an issue regarding UMF’s stance on downloading. The policy is that students who have been identified as using the network to violate copyright will lose their Resnet access for a semester and will be suspended from UMF in the event of a second offense. The important item here is that we, the Computer Center, do not police student network activity. When we have taken disciplinary action against students it has been a result of an external complaint by an aggrieved party or their representative. These complaints have come in the form of emails with the internet address of the student and the violating content as well as a reminder that under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, we are required to take some sort of action.

It is important that students understand that while we may have to monitor their network traffic in the maintenance of the network, we do not actively examine individual internet transactions. Please help us keep that message clear when it comes up in the course of your duties here.

The DMCA game that certain entities play is frequently abused so I was curious about the ways in which my campus was backing me up. I asked the individual how much scrutiny is exercised when receiving a complaint and what UMF considers the “burden of proof” when threatened with DMCA claims.

Here’s the response:

We’ve never had a legitimate and intentional second offense. We have had multiple complaints against the same person but we’ve looked and found some to be delayed complaints and the actual event took place before the student was even shut down for the first.

Our role as the ISP is to make it stop in a reasonable timeframe. It was the former VP of Student Affairs who cooked the actual disciplinary approach. We are strictest campus in the UM System but we also have the lowest per capita number of complaints. Students frequently claim innocence but they don’t challenge that the files were being transmitted from their computer, just that they were not responsible. Always the roommates, sister etc.

There is not a clear answer as far as establishing burden of proof. We’ve not had any lawsuits brought against our students although the other 6 UMaine campuses have. Were I the student, I would certainly ask the complainant to provide more than just a filename.

This is all very uncomfortable territory and this campus does not wish to be the agents of folks like the RIAA. Our hopes are some of the bigger, wealthier institutions that are pushing back will make them more reasonable.

So, how’s that for not answering your questions? It’s not that I’m holding back, it’s that you’ve raised the obvious problem with the way that the RIAA et al are being permitted to leverage the DMCA.

Obvious? Sure, but the real question, of course, is permitted by whom? Don’t get me wrong, I both appreciate and understand the position in which such school officials are placed; it’s between the rights of a rock and a substantially bigger, better funded hard place with years of legal finesse and experience. And I have no sympathy for the guy that says, “MY SISTER DID IT! MY EVIL SISTER!“ I imagine many institutions adopt the same stance, hoping that one day bigger group will take care of the problem for them. In the meantime, however, no one’s taking charge of championing the students.

Aug. 30th, 2007

Chinese Game Controllers and the Men who Hate Them

I've always wanted a proper USB game controller for when I go to my friend's place for a little emulating. For those unfamiliar with console emulation you can check this out, though the long and short of it is that I dig playing SNES via laptop.

To my surprise, I found a $10 USB converter which can make normal console gaming controllers work on a PC! Booted the sucker up, plugged in my old GameCube controller and then, mistakenly, loaded the drivers. Now, I'm not as talented with computers as I'd like to be (should be?) but my understanding is that a driver is a program that allows hardware and software to work from OS to OS. Typically, I can get away with using USB game controllers on my computer and others sans drivers (the current game controller drivers on the computer usually suffice.) However, I really wanted to play Starfox 64 and Project 64 was rather insistent.

This is where the fun begins. You see, not only does the software which loads with the controller drivers eliminate my computer's "natural" programs which would allow it to calibrate joystick settings (if, for example, my GC controller's joysticks are off center and need software realignment) but it's also chock full of bugs that cause it to freeze up frequently. And how do I know I can't count on proper customer support? Here's why:

I hope I effectively "valid the special motor is okay." That's right, this sucker's native tongue is Engrish. Apparently, Gamemon is a Chinese hardware importer. The entire user manual is full of this foolishness and I'm not sure if there's anything to do about it. I have emailed the company to see if there's any way to troubleshoot the issues with the alignment but I'm not holding my breath.

The moral of the story: when I'm proficient in Chinese/English translation, people should hire me as a babel fish.


It's a reference to The Tick; dig it. It's also the speed at which the entirety of the Simpsons motion picture made its way onto, of all the poor user choices, YouTube.

We're not talking a series of collected clips mangled by fair use philosophers, we're talking the whole bloody movie in a fantastic quality!

Here's the first of the 9 clip series (for the brief period in which those in charge don't know.) Make special note of what Bart's writing on the board:

EDIT: And there you have it. Before it even had a chance to breathe the video's down and someone might be in trouble.

Aug. 23rd, 2007

Korea + Street Fighter = Success!

Sweet zombie jesus! Could this have been directed by Kim Jong-il?

Some noted differences from the original:
-Vega was taller
-Dhalsim could stretch his arms
-Chun-li wasn’t such a wimp
-The original Street Fighter was never this cool

Aug. 22nd, 2007

Dear China,


C'mon, give me a heads up that this is just a poor translation by an over eager journalist!

From MSNBC (link to main article):

In one of history's more absurd acts of totalitarianism, China has banned Buddhist monks in Tibet from reincarnating without government permission.
By barring any Buddhist monk living outside China from seeking reincarnation, the law effectively gives Chinese authorities the power to choose the next Dalai Lama, whose soul, by tradition, is reborn as a new human to continue the work of relieving suffering.

Does Michael Bay Now Hate Blu-ray?

It’s old news, but I was both awed and disappointed by the recent “Transformers” movie. The special effects were mind blowing but, I assume, only because they dropped all of their Plot and Acting budgets into gorgeous robots. There, I said it.

But the reason I said it was because of some cutely coincidental articles that popped up this morning regarding high-resolution entertainment formats Blu-ray and HD-DVD.

First, during a trip to RottenTomatoes.com, there was a quick news clip about useless director extraordinaire Michael Bay:

Up until yesterday, Paramount and Dreamworks had supported both the HD DVD and Blu-Ray formats. The studios' announcement of going cold turkey on Blu Ray has prompted Bay to fire off a message board post (delicately titled "Paramount pisses me off!") in which the director writes:
"I want people to see my movies in the best formats possible. For them to deny people who have Blu-ray sucks! They were progressive by having two formats. No Transformers 2 for me!"

Soon after, noticed an article on the New York Times website titled "Two Studios to Support HD DVD Over Rival":

Last week, the Walt Disney Company said it would release one of its best-known animated movies, “Sleeping Beauty,” on Blu-ray. “There is no longer any doubt that Blu-ray is the clear successor to standard DVDs,” said Bob Chapek, president of Disney’s home entertainment unit.
But money talks: Paramount and DreamWorks Animation together will receive about $150 million in financial incentives for their commitment to HD DVD, according to two Viacom executives with knowledge of the deal but who asked not to be identified.

Finally, to bring this silly story full circle, guess what Bay said, hours after his original post (from his blog):

Last night at dinner I was having dinner with three Blu-Ray owners, they were pissed about no Transformers Blu-Ray and I drank the kool aid hook line and sinker. So at 1:30 in the morning I posted - nothing good ever comes out of early am posts mind you - I over reacted. I heard where Paramount is coming from and the future of HD and players that will be close to the $200 mark which is the magic number. I like what I heard.
As a director, I'm all about people seeing films in the best quality possible, and I saw and heard firsthand people upset about a corporate decision.
So today I saw 300 on HD, it rocks!
So I think I might be back on to do Transformers 2!

It’s nice to see those incentives in action with such a direct link to cause and effect. For my part, I’ve chosen not to participate in the high-definition mess; it requires far too much investment for far less return. Of course Bay enjoyed “300” on HD-DVD: there’s hardly any noticeable difference between the new high-def formats and his seat must have been particularly comfy padded with a fat stack of cash.

I’m certain there will come a time when these new formats don’t seem stupid to me. Their price points will go down dramatically, the hardware required for viewing (including, but not limited to, high-def televisions and the high-def disk player) will do the same, they’ll figure out some tie-in with a video-game company and actually offer something new on their format.

Or, on the other hand, they could just fail. That would be just fine by me.

Aug. 21st, 2007

A Poser

What kind of game couldn't a substantially advanced computer complete more effectively than a human?

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