Friday, December 15, 2006

10 Random Mac OS X Tips

Today I was reading the Slashdot story on 15 Things Apple Should Change in Mac OS X and I came across these excellent hints in the comments:
  1. Hold down on the + window button to fully maximize a window (may not work in some apps)
  2. To find the actual path of a app or file drag it into a terminal window
  3. To rename a file, select it and hit enter
  4. Create a shortcut on the dock for the Apps folder, then click-and-hold for a pop-menu of all your apps
  5. Shift-A will open the Apps folder if you don't want it in the dock
  6. Don't copy and paste, drag and drop everything, including text
  7. To put a widget permanently on the desktop, open a terminal and type:
    defaults write com.apple.dashboard devmode YES
    press F12, and while dragging a widget press F12 to drop it
  8. Use Command-O to launch an App or open a file
  9. To skip the"Are You Sure?" dialog. hold down the option key when choosing to shutdown
  10. Use the dock for temporary storage of files when using the drag-and-drop method of cutting-and-pasting

Saturday, November 04, 2006

A Macs Best Friend

Yesterday Penny Arcade geared up for their 2007 Childs Play Charity and I checked out their newly updated site which includes what looks like Egypt, a huge leap from the original US only hospitals when they started. While scrolling down I saw the sponsors and thought I'd see what kinds of companies were helping them out, which lead me to a page for Bruji, or as the title calls it A Mac's best friend.

I love using my Mac and all, mainly because OS X is awesome, but I haven't found any must have Mac only applications until now. Bruji makes media database software that resembles the look and feel of Apples iLife apps like iTunes and iPhoto. There are four products, DVDpedia, Bookpedia, CDpedia, and Gamepedia, all of which catalog what their name says.

At once I was impressed by the free demo for Bookpedia. Even on my old G3 iBook the app starts almost immediately and in less than five minutes I had cataloged ten books on my bookshelf. It uses a simple keyword search to look up titles and authors on Amazon and other book websites, displaying the full details of each title. It even grabs the cover image and puts all that information into your catalog, very slick.

Once you've completed your library there's all sorts of cool things you can do with it such as tracking books you've lent to people and custom exporting of your library to all sorts of data formats (cvs, webpage, .mac, iPod). It even keeps statistics on your library and will look up a title on listmania to find similar titles.

These apps are why I love using a Mac, everything is exactly as it should be, no surprises just simple power that immediately produces results. I will most likely buy the Bookpedia app (18$), but they have a bundle where you get any three for 39$ and it could be nice to catalog our DVDs and games as well.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

One Month at a Time

Friday I noticed something; the last time I put gas in my car was September 18th, and I still had a quarter tank remaining. Now if you're counting, Friday was the 13th, which means I've almost gone a month without getting gas (I finally did on Oct 16th after a lot of weekend driving). Most people think it's impossible to do without doing some radical lifestyle change and wonder how I do it. In reality, not only is it possible but you'll actually gain more than just saving money by making only a few small changes.

I only fill up my car when it's on E. I know conventional wisdom says you shouldn't do this, although recently I've learned that conventional wisdom is usually useless, but I do it anyway. Because of this I always fill up around 13 gallons (my manual says it has a 14 gallon tank, but I've never seen it go past 13) so I have a good starting benchmark to work with and I can gleam all sorts of interesting data about my car and driving habits.

According to www.fueleconomy.gov my 2002 Subaru Imprezza 2.5RS should get 22 MPG. Now my average mileage per tank is 260 miles which comes out to about 20MPG (I'm using 13 gallons). I'm not that concerned about the below average MPG because I'm good at keeping the car maintained and I know mechanically it's fine. Rather I believe there are two factors that contribute to this. One is where we live, University City, an area that is notorious for horribly timed traffic signals and a high population density, both causing long periods of the car running but not actually going anywhere. The second are my driving habits, which are related to the unfavorable traffic conditions (I jump off the line at one light in order to try and make the next one before it goes into it's five minute cycle).

With such a low MPG, an unfavourable environment, and my impatient self to blame how do I almost go a month without getting gas? Three things:
  1. Taking the bus to work
  2. Walking to the bus stop
  3. Carpool as much as I can
Now it's not as exciting as you may have expected, since everyone knows that if you take the bus of course you'll save on gas. The main point though is that it works and it's easy. I spend just as much time on the bus as I would if I drove to work so there's almost no time incentive to drive. In addition to this instead of sitting in my car cursing at traffic and having to focus on driving, I am completely free to do whatever I want on my commute, giving me a less stress incentive. Also I read, which has increased my book rate to about three a month, adding an "intellectual" incentive. Finally mechanical wear and tear on my car is decreased. Overall not only am I saving money, but I have gained three additional incentives without any increase in time.

The second factor is I usually walk the fifteen minutes to the bus stop, although sometimes I drive if I'm running late. This adds the addition of health benefits as well as time to slow things down and not get so caught up in things.

I also tend to carpool as much as I can, which usually ends up with someone else driving since my car doesn't have a stereo in it (high crime rate is also consistent with where we live).

When you combine all these factors not only am I only filling up once a month, but I also gain more than if I drove, economically it just makes sense. Now I know that everyone's situation is different and I am lucky enough to work for a commuter friendly employer who provides free bus passes that are convenient to where I live. UCSD also provides free hours with a hybrid Flexcar a month so I can go somewhere during work hours if I need to.

If at all possible I would recommend looking into supporting your local public transportation to not just save money but also increase other aspects of your life.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Lessons of the GAIM

I got a new computer at work last week (I mainly wanted it cause of the larger hard drive). So I went through the motions installing all my favorite apps, which included GAIM. A wonderful open source application that I've been using almost as long as I've been using GNU/Linux. A few years ago they released a Windows client that I've also happily enjoyed while working in a windows environment. Unfortunately with this new install I ran into two major problems.
  1. GAIM would not sign onto AOL with any screen name
  2. GAIM eventually didn't even start up when I tried to run it
After a few hours of researched I solved both problems and I'm posting my results here:

If you install Cygwin, go into the folder: C:\Program Files\Gaim\plugins and remove the tcl.dll file. For some reason the Cygwin tcl.dll will take over and cause GAIM not to start up properly. By removing this .dll everything works fine and you won't even notice it's gone.

If the connection status stops at "Connection established, cookie sent" when trying to connect to AOL you must install the version of GTK that comes with GAIM and not a newer version. I installed GTK v2.8 thinking that it was newer than v2.6 that GAIM comes bundled with, but apparently there's some type of bug that prevents it from working correctly. The same issue appears with GAIM 2.0 beta.

So there you go; if you run Cygwin and GAIM remove the tcl.dll and don't install a version of GTK that doesn't come bundled with GAIM on windows.

Monday, August 14, 2006

It's Not a LAPtop, it's a Notebook

Lucky number three.

Today will mark the third time I will send my G3 iBook in for a logic board replacement. Thankfully the computer is still semi-covered under the iBook Expanded Logic Board Repair Extension Program (such a lovely name), but I was warned by the Apple support person that this would be the last time they replace it, and I will either have to buy a new computer for pay for the repair myself. Now that sounds reasonable, if I had mistreated it in any way (little night time browsing in the hot tub...), but I don't. I use it like a normal laptop, I even got a padded form fitting water resistant laptop bag to carry it around in for safeties sake. Sure it travels with me almost everywhere I go, but that's what it's made for. If I wanted a laptop that sat on my desk all day I would have gotten one of those suitcase size extra-wide screen Dells that are meant to be a desktop replacement than a portable.

Now sure, maybe I could be more gentle with it, and I even asked the guy what I could do to prevent it (since it will most likely happen again in 4 months), to which he said(I shit you not):
Don't use it on your lap
Okay...... so apparently I have a LAPtop and I'm not suppose to use it on my LAP.... great. You know, I should have seen this coming. A few months ago Apple even said so themselves, that the Macbook is NOT a Laptop. Almost all the major computer companies are trying to avoid the title "laptop" simply so they can plead ignorance when some dude burns himself by simply using the thing like the title dictates. The correct terminology now is "notebook", safe, simple, and completely avoids the whole reason why most people want a small, portable computer, so they can sit down and chill with it on a couch. Huzzah for newspeak.

Enough rant, back to my logic board issue, thankfully I found out I'm not alone, and almost anyone who bought a iBook G3 or G4 in a specific time frame suffers from the same issues. Reading elsewhere, one of the better way to avoid the 90 degree tilt of death is to not pick the laptop up solely by its left corner, where the video hardware resides. Doing so will break the chip bonds, causing it to freeze on boot. Also, if Apple tech support gives you grief about it, ask for Apple Customer Care, which may give you more options.

As much as I bitch, Apple's support has been more than stellar. I bought this iBook when it's hard drive was failing from my sister for about 100$, and even though it's had it's problems Apple has repaired it twice when it was out the extended warranty period. Both times the technicians have been friendly and helpful and the turn around for the repair is usually only a day (may be faster for me since I live in CA). If they treat a customer who never really bought the product from them this well, they are definitely getting my $ when my next lap^H^H^Hnotebook purchase comes around.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Comic-Con Preview Night Images

While checking out Rotten Tomatoes for how well Clerks II was doing (60-70%) I came across a gallery of images from preview night last night. Looks like the guys who made Shaun of the Dead are making another movie called Hot Fuzz, awesome.

13 Reasons Why Comic-Con 2006 Rocks

  1. Free Stuff
  2. Awesome Panels
  3. Finally people who understand my "Rogues Do It From Behind" shirt
  4. You can legally carry a "weapon" without fear of being tagged as terrorist
  5. Largest concentration of geek girls in the world
  6. Realizing there are people who are exponentially nerdier than you are
  7. Chance to pitch your Star Wars/Star Trek crossover idea
  8. An excellent oppurtunity to stalk your favorite creators and celebrities
  9. Wonder Woman
  10. Snakes on a Plane!
  11. Finding that old back issue of Spiderman you just NEED to have
  12. The only time besides Halloween you can dress up and not get weird looks
  13. Princess Leia

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Comic-Con A Coming

With Comic-Con starting tomorrow I'm getting pretty excited. Last year when I went it was only on Saturday and I really just wanted to see the guys from Penny-Arcade and one or two of the panels. I had no idea what I was in store for and afterwards with a bag of free loot in my hands I slowly developed a taste over the last year for much of what I saw.

The insanity this year will start early, with potentially going to preview night on Wednesday to scope out the con, then heading back on Friday and Saturday for panels and walking around. Currently I'm excited for:

Friday
  • 10:30am-11:30am: Spider-Man: Then and Now
  • 2:00pm-3:00pm: Battlestar Galactica with cast members
  • 4:30pm-5:30pm: Web comics 102: Finding Your Audience panel which the guys from PA are on
  • 5:45pm-7:00: Samuel Jackson promoting Snakes on a Plane
Saturday
  • 10:30am-12:00pm: Lost Season 3 Panel
  • 10:30am-11:30: 300 Movie Panel
  • 12:00pm-1:00pm: Simpsons Panel
  • 1:00pm-2:30pm: Kevin Smith on Clerks II
  • 2:45pm-3:30pm: The Spirit Movie
Comics I'll most likely pick up

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Geeks Guide to San Diego

When I first moved to San Diego the summer of 2004 I stumbled around with what exactly to do in a new city. Now after almost two years of living here I feel I have a solid grasp on where to go for things that I like to do. Of course, if you haven't figured it out yet I'm a geek, so these this is a guide to the geekier things you'll find in America's Finest City.

1. Electronics

After years of reading Penny-Arcade and other tech sites I'd heard about Fry's and it's electronic utopia. With miles of aisles stocked full with everything a geek craves, computers, video games, music, movies, book, etc. With the free time abound due to looking for a new job I looked up the nearest location and found it near Aero Road off the I-15.

Don't Go There. It's crap, absolute rubbish. I mean, it did have all the promised goodies, but I was expecting gleaming halls and a monument of pure techno-utopianism. Instead I was faced with a dreary warehouse looking store that had a shambly and disorganized look about it.

Over a year later, my enthusiasm for Fry's diminished, on our way back from somewhere my girlfriend suggested we stop off at Fry's to get some Christmas gifts. I was confused since we were in North country near San Marcos and not near the Fry's I despise.

We arrived and it was a gift from the Gods themselves. Two giant obelisk towered on each side of the entrance, huge Jacob Ladders inside humming their plasma arcs audibly humming with the electricity providing their life. Inside it has a theme of Atlantis, massive fish tanks filled with huge fish and even sharks. Statues of men in old diving gear gazed upon the pristine aisles of geek marrow and I knew that all the stories were true. Fry's was rock awesome, not only the best presented store I've ever had the pleasure of walking into, but also it's never let me down in my search for some rare connector or piece of hardware.

To make a long story short, don't go to the Fry's in San Diego off Aero road. Spare yourself the agony and spend the extra half hour going up to San Marcos.

The UCSD bookstore also has some good deals on hardware, specifically Apple, since the student discount that's included in the price and you don't have to show a student ID.

The Geek Exit

Occasionally the forces of the universe combine and create a single point multi-disciplinary geekdom. One such example of this is the Clairemont Mesa Blvd exit off the 805 freeway. The next four geek retailers are within a mile of this exit.

2. Comics

The first, on the West side, is Comickaze which sells a variety of major label comics, manga, and assorted collectibles. The store itself isn't impressive in a rational sense, but it appeals to those who enjoy the disorganized and randomness of the comic book geek stereotype. The racks are liad out haphazardly and usually books from labels are kept together, although sometimes you have to dig around until you find what you're looking for.

The store always has some sort of clutter, whether it's the random storage boxes next to the check-out counter or a rack from Free Comic Book Day blocking the way to the collectible section. The employees are generally helpful and occasionally you can catch some authors chatting it up with them or guys who are absurdly into comics boasting about their latest 40,000 book acquisition.

They don't carry much rare or back issues, but you can always find the latest and greatest on the "new" racks near the back left of the store. Their hours vary, usually 11am-9pm, but you'll want to check out the Google local page since their outdated web page doesn't have them.

3. Boardgames

Although I didn't know this till recently geeks love boardgames, and as I expanded my interests here in San Diego I realized that boardgames are something I always liked but never put any energy into. The games now-a-days are a far cry from the simplistic (yet still fun) rules of Monopoly, Operation, Sorry!, and others from my childhood.

The Settlers of Catan started my fascination my senior year of college and I haven't stopped since. Enjoying a variety of new and different types, like Carcassonne, Lost Cities, Captain Treasure Boots, and more. There's even an entire website dedicated to them, with reviews, commentary and alternative modes of play.

Game Empire, East of the highway, has a ton of games, model supplies, a knowledgeable staff, and a large game room that always seems filled with people playing some sort of war or D&D game. Their stock is fleshed out well, although sometimes they're lacking specific titles, all the major ones are there. Almost half their stock is for Warhammer 40k and other wargames, including models, terrain material, paint, and other building supplies.

As much as I like supporting local businesses, Wal-Mart is within walking distance of the store and if you're looking to pick up a more common game and it's too expensive at GE I'd recommend heading there.

4. Music

Although not a whole lot of geeks play guitar, right across from Game Empire is Guitar Trader that specializes in buying and selling used equipment. The store is packed with anything you'll need, and although their music section could stand to have more selection the rest of the store is solid.

Lou's Records
(Not off the Geek Exit) is an awesome used and new music store tucked up in Encinitas along Pacific Coast Highway. There are two buildings, one for used wares and the other for newer stuff. It carries a good selection of vinyl, cds, and cassettes arranged in catagories from Indie, Hardcore, Pop, Trance and other electic genres. Every Saturday is Free Stuff Saturday and you can get demo cds, stickers, posters, and an assorsement of other swag. Look near the front for the top 20 albums of the week and employee picks for new stuff you may not have heard before. They also have their catalog in a database system that you can search. Sign up for their newsletter by email to get a weekly run down on almost every music related events in San Diego.

5. Books

A few storefronts down from Game Empire is the Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore. I went in it once to check it out and it was completely full of fantasy and sci-fi novels of every type. The prices seemed reasonable and for someone trying to track down a less popular series that larger book chains don't carry I'm sure they have it. From their web page they seem to have a lot of events and author signings as well.

There are probably a host of other more geek friendly bookstores in the city but I either use Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or the UCSD Bookstore for the majority of my purchases.

6. Beer

Geeks love beer, and fortunately San Diego has a large micro-brewery culture many you can find in stores and specialty brew pubs.

Stone Brewery is probably the best known outside of the city, with Arrogant Bastard Ale making a name for itself across the country. They also produce and excellent IPA and Smoked Porter as well as special one time brews. They are located in North county and provide tours as well as a gift shop.

Karl Strauss
is well known in California but may not have much clout outside the Western United States (I don't know this for sure). They not only sell in stores but they also have their own chain of restaurants throughout the county. My favorite by far is tucked away in Sorrento Valley in the middle of a business park. The building was a Japanese place so the architecture and garden have a very Zen feel to it. They also sponsor various concerts and events throughout the year. Give their Red Trolley, Woodie Pale Ale, and Amber Lager a try.

There are many other local San Diego micro-brews that you'll find in stores throughout the county. Check out the Beer Advocates Guide to San Diego to find more information.

The city has tons of local bars and pubs to enjoy . My particular favorites are, Pizza Port (excellent pizza), The Oul Sod (authentic Irish pub), The Field (another Irish pub but with food too), The Wits End (for the intellectual), PB Bar and Grill (sports and beach), and The USCD Pub (good prices and student atmosphere).

7. Movies

Out of the all of the places to see a movie in the area, four stand out as a cut above the rest.

The first is Edwards Cinemas 16 in Mira Mesa, and is your standard huge megaplex with stadium seating, multiple concession stands and a expensive tickets. I normally go there to see movies I know I don't want to miss on the big screen.

Secondly is the AMC La Jolla 12 mostly because it's close to my house but also they have the added catch of allowing you to bring outside food in. The location of the theatre is in a small mall like complex which gives you a variety of eateries, from burritos, deli sandwiches, pizza, and even sushi. If you have a current or expired ID use it to get a MovieWatcher card to get a discount on your ticket and eventually it'll acquire points and start getting discounts or free coupons for the concession stand.

The La Jolla Landmark is great for independent film lover, and is located right across the street from the AMC La Jolla 12 (there is also one in Hillcrest). The Hillcrest location is a bit nicer, but they both have that gritty personal quality to them. Every Friday at midnight they have a special showing of a cult or popular geek movie, which includes trivia before the show starts, people dressed up, and all sorts of other festivities.

Cinema Under the Stars is a unique open air theatre with "zero-gravity" chairs that suspend you while you watch old or cult films. Right next door is an excellent BBQ place as well.

8. Videogames

Almost any electronic retailer sells videogames so there's not specific place to go to satisfy your addiction, but there is one area in San Diego that happens to have two great stores across the street from each other. They're you're common Gamespot and Electronic Boutique, but the Gamespot seems to have an unusual amount of quality used wares. I normally run there if I'm trying to find a used title and if they don't have it, my chances of obtaining it are increased by quickly checking out the EB across the street.

They are located in opposite shopping plazas at the cross street of Mira Mesa Blvd and Reagen Road.

9. Cons

San Diego is lucky enough to become the geek Mecca every July with Comic-Con International downtown. The convention gets larger every year, originally starting as just a comic show but over the last few years it's morphed into movies, videogames, fantasy, sci-fi, and just about anything geeky you can imagine. It runs for four days near the end of July and always guarantees plenty of panels and speakers. In addition the amount of free swag is plentiful and you definitely get your moneys worth for the cost of admission.

By far one of the most popular convention in the country is the Electronic Entertainment Expo also known as E3. It doesn't take place in San Diego, but in LA which is only an hour or two drive (depending on traffic) North. I've never actually been but you can always find more info on their website.

San Diego like most major metropolitian areas has a yearly Renaissance Faire held in Balboa Park in August. I've never been there myself but I plan to check it out this summer.

10. Sushi

I'm not a huge fan of raw fish myself (although I'm getting used to it), but a lot of geeks I know love it. In San Diego there is no "best sushi place in the city" since everyone one I know who likes it claims that their favorite place is absolutely the best. I'll have to agree, everyone I've gone to has their own style and menu selection and I've liked them all. Some tend to be pricier and others tend to take a while due to a crowd, but they're everywhere so just find and give it a shot, due to the proximity of the sea your raw fish will be fresh and tasty as the next place.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Thursday Thirteen - Open Source Programs

Thirteen Open Source programs you should check out:
  1. GAIM - Multi-protocol Instant Messenger
  2. Mozilla Firefox - Web Browser
  3. Mozilla Thunderbird - Email Client
  4. ZSNES - Super Nintendo Emulator
  5. Filezilla and Cyberduck - S/FTP Client
  6. VLC - Media Player
  7. Apollon (GNU/Linux Only)- Multi-protocol File Sharing
  8. Grease Monkey - Firefox Extension
  9. TightVNC and Chicken of the VNC - Remote Desktop
  10. OpenOffice.org - Office Suite
  11. 7zip - File de/compression
  12. Nethack - Dynamic Text-mode Dungeon Crawler
  13. ClamAV - Anti-Virus Detection and Removal

Monday, June 26, 2006

My New Laptop Bag

I never really got that excited about the bag I carry my laptop in. For the past year or more I've been using a canvas J. Crew bag I picked up on sale to carry my G3 iBook and Dell around. It served it's use well, holding books, power adapters, keys, pens, all sorts of things. Lately though I've had concerns about the safety and well being of my toys and did some searches for quality bags that didn't cost to much or shouted out "steal me!".

Eventually I stumbled upon Crumpler bags and decided I'd pick up the 12' Skivvy to hold my iBook. It's a little smaller than I would have liked, but it fits the laptop snugly and I feel that it's adequately protected. The usual array of other accessories also fit into it with the subtraction of a few lesser used objects. It has a quality feel to it, with tough stitching and a large velcro piece on the flap that overlaps the bag generously and keeps everything in without the fear of it coming undone. The padding is about a quarter to half inch thick around the main laptop compartment and I have a feeling (not that I'm going to test it) that if it drops form waist/table height minimal damage will occur to contents. The accessory compartment has a nice thick zipper on it that opens/closes easily enough and it doesn't feel like it will get caught on anything. Finally the entire bag is water resistant, and even with the little rain we get in Southern California it seems it will keep everything fairly dry. The only complaint I have about it is the large patch of velcro is quite loud when you open it, but that's not a major issue.

During my search I came across some listings of what people carried in their bags which fascinated me for some bizarre reason. I guess it was some sense of dorky voyerism and I wanted to do the same thing. My old bag has a lot more in it, but most of it I never used and the new crumpler made me minimize some:

  • 800mhz G3 12' iBook with 256mb RAM and 30gb disk space
  • Mead composition Notebook
  • Pilot Gel Pens
  • Moleskine Pocket Notebook
  • UCSD ID and Bus Pass
  • 512 USB Memory Stick
  • Why Orwell Matters by Christopher Hitchens
  • Costco Acid Reducer Pills (boooo heartburn)
Exciting eh? It's not much, but it keeps me entertained on the bus on during lunch.

Monday, June 19, 2006

My Typical Day Online

I spend a lot of time online, some people would say it's excessive, but normally most people just ask what exactly do I spend all that time on? Instead of explaining it to each person I figured I'd write a bit about it. I have an odd way of computing which I'll explain and then follow it up with what resources I use.

The Network is the Computer

I'm a systems administrator by day, and one thing I'm always looking for is a way to make tasks easier. Centralizing systems and resources so I only have to do something once is the key here and I carry it over into my personal computing habits as well. I have three computers I normally us, my G3 iBook, an old Dell laptop, and a 64-bit GNU/Linux Debian server. Why so many computers? Well diversity for one, they represent all three major operating systems and platforms and with the exception of cutting edge games I have all my bases covered. Also if I lose a laptop I'm not completely disabled computing wise. The server also has backups for it so we're safe there as well.

The two laptops are essentially satellites of the Debian server, and they contain little to any non-recoverable data. All music, movies, pictures, documents, everything that is important, is stored on the server. I then access it through the web, encrypted SSH connections, and tunneled VNC desktop sessions. Security has a heavy focus, and any IPs that want to connect must authenticate through a webpage, as well as the use of SSL for sensitive connections. The advantage to this is as long as I have a connection to the internet I'm always at my computer. It also allows other people I trust to connect and use various shared resources.

This fits into my daily routine by logging in via SSH on my laptop or desktop at work, then tunneling VNC to my shared desktop. The shared desktop contains my instant messenger, cd burning app, filesharing app, web browser, and whatever else software debian has installed

Sites

Here's a list of sites I usually have loaded in a tabs or Live Bookmarks:

  1. Slashdot - I've probably learned more from comments here than I did in four years of college
  2. Penny Arcade - Only on Mon/Wed/Fri, but they have excellent commentary on the gaming industry
  3. Gmail - Where all my personal emails are, go figure
  4. Google News - Gives me more mainstream current events tailored to my preferences
That's it, really not a whole lot when you break it down, but it's a good cross section of the rapidly changing webscape and there's hours of things to read and look into

With the combination of the computing approach I described above and the techniques and list of sites is usually how I spend my day online.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Thursday Thirteen

Thirteen Things You Should Read Before You Die:
  1. 1984 (Cause then you'll know who Big Brother is)
  2. We (Cause everyone and their mom has read 1984 but probably not this one)
  3. Adventures of Huck Finn (Cause Mark Twain is a freaking genius)
  4. The Iliad and the Odyssey (Know your roots)
  5. Catcher In The Rye (But only before you hit 18)
  6. Into the Wild (Once again, only before you're 18, although when you're older you'll only just stop shaving for a while)
  7. At least one Orwell Essay or Short Story (trust me)
  8. Any "A Very Short Introduction To...." (condensed knowledge for the intellectual on the go)
  9. Anything written by a non-American author
  10. Any book written by a comedic liberal
  11. Any book written by a conservative to counter the one before
  12. Any amateur magazine, story, or blog
  13. The U.S. Constitution, Bill of Rights, and Declaration of Independence (no explanation needed)

UCSD Summer Reading Program

Working at UCSD has some pretty cool perks, one of them is full use of all the university libraries. Over the last couple months I've been taking advantage of my library privileges, checking availability, reserving books, and renewing renewing them.

Recently on the staff intranet there was a post about the Worship a Good Book program, which students, faculty, and staff are encouraged to check out books from the libraries and then write a short review on them. They give you the choice of answering a few questions, such as "If you could rename the book, what would the new title be? Why?" and "Discuss one new thing you learned reading this book.". You're only required to answer one, and you get various prizes for the more reviews you do.

I plan on getting up to ten reviews by September 4th, when the contest is over, and then I'll be eligible for a book bunje (whatever that is). They also have various awards, and I'm going to shoot for theJust Siskel Award" for most creative and insightful. Below I posted my first review of A Scanner Darkly which is soon to be a movie this summer, enjoy!

Worhsip a Good Book Review of A Scanner Darkly:

Name your favorite character or theme in the book and why:
The theme of constant surveillance. Even though Bob knows that his other personality, Fred, is watching him he still acts as if nothing is happening. Would we in reality do the same if we knew someone was watching us constantly? We already know that to some extend we're being monitored, with surveillance cameras in banks, stores, and even red lights. Does this somehow add pressure on our subconscious, the fact that every move and every thought we make can be monitored and recorded? Technology is becoming so prevalent in our life it's like a the drugs in the book, we don't know where it stops and we begin.
Discuss one new thing you learned reading this book:
At the end of the book there's an Author's Note, in which Dick describes his own drug experiences (the book is a loose autobiography on him) and those around him. He dedicates the book to those he knew whose lives were damaged or destroyed (including his own) because of their addictions and relentless pursuit of their version of happiness. Drug addiction isn't something that someone just decides to get into like a hobby, gradually events in someone's life leads them into it. This is seen in the book with the character of Bob Archer and him starting as a narcotics dealer and eventually dropping so much Substance D that he splits his personality into two.The first a drug addict and the second an undercover agent watching him more and more with the surveillance equipment, both totally unaware of each other.. This is Dicks allegory for the drug addict, one side wants to stop the actions he's doing, and the other continuing to do so cause it's the only way they know happiness. What I've learned from the story and characters is that even though drug addiction starts as a choice, eventually it becomes something uncontrollable and out of the users hands, no matter how much they want to stop.