Archive for 2003

December 30, 2004

Attempted to obfuscate my e-mail address against robots. Cleared some link-rot.

So it’s been a little while… ;^)

Reading (well, listening) as best I can recall (many are ‘the first thing that I recognized or looked interesting’):

How to Speak, How to Listen, by Mortimer J Adler – a work that explains, in part, a phenomena that I’ve become familiar with: there are differences between things made to be read and made to heard.

The Education of Little Tree – not certain if the story itself is old, or if that is just the setting. A boy raised down in the hollar, with cherokee heritage. Some interesting commentary on politics, religion, and even christmas.

The Children of Green Knowe – A very changling children’s story – chimera abound.

Little Women – Apparently written in two parts, with the first being somewhat entertaining (if a morality play), and the second sounding like a soap opera, except that things do conclude in the end. Emphasizes the protastant work ethic, and family loyalty.

Knowledge in a Nutshell – Trivia, in every sense. Occasionally interesting, but only usefull if you are preparing for a game show.

In Progress: Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, The Nature of Order, Book 2, and a long term project: the republican and democratic party platforms.

I was sick a week ago; I turned up the heat and added a few layers to help the fever along, and have just had a lingering cough for the last week.

This didn’t interfere with christmas at all; I spent the day at my parents. My father mostly watched Trading Spaces, and my mother made a good hearted attempt to play the games I brought; I need more two player ones though. We also went out to see Elf, which was exactly the cookie-cutter hollywood trash I expected it to be.

I spent most of the holiday break working on games one in form or another. Mostly a new thrust at Harmony, which first involved printing issues. Realizing that 1. Postscript is an programming language, and 2. It has an arc command, I just gave up on all the other multiple-program multiple-file monkeying around I was doing and wrote my card factory directly in Postscript. With a days worth of effort, I can produce just about any combo of colored ring I want, and I can use Postscript to boot.

A lot of the rest of the weekend was spent examining the effects of the new multi-color cards. Plugging them directly into the last ruleset, I find that I’ve largely solved the spacial complexity, but introduced a lesser, but more infuriating, kind of temporal complexity. This led to the search for more appropriate new rulesets, which have multiplied upon themselves and left me wondering if I wouldn’t be better off publishing basic disks and a various rules, a la Icehouse (which has being supplying pieces for a large group of variants.)

Eventually I needed a break from this (I still see colored rings when i close my eyes) and made an initial sorting of the medications for Pop’n Pills. This was followed by attempts to lay out a new card template in LaTeX, since I would need some paragraph wrapping. A pursuit given up several hours later in the face of roundabout methods and inconsistent syntax – Primarily argument passing, which variously uses {}, [], (), and comma to distinguish parameters, (and often using all of the above in a single invocation.) I’ll take Postscript, thanks, which is actually pleasant to work with, though I’ll have to find some way to pull formatted paragraphs out of LaTeX.

Like-Unlike

From olna_jenn.

For anyone who cares to play:
1. Copy this whole list into your journal.
2. Bold the things that you have in common with me.
3. Whatever you don’t bold, replace with things about you.

01. When I was younger I made some bad decisions.
02. I had a brief affair with music, but I’ve hardly bought anything in past few years and hardly use it.
03. I have lots of craft (mostly games) projects that I started but never finished sitting around my room.
04. I have a very hard time singing a musical part all by myself.
(more to the point, I rarly if ever sing)
05. I find most pop music trite to the point of unlistenability.
06. Sometimes I wonder if anyone understands.
07. I hate when people type in all caps online.
08. I also hate people who TypE LyKe D1s.

09. I have some packrat tendancies, but purge on occasion.
10. I love obscure and strange things.
11. I love obscure and strange people, too.

12. I wish I was brave enough to leave my comfy job and do something more in line with my goals.
13. My memory is very good for some things and appalling for others.
14. With a few exceptions, I love games and game-playing.
15. I wish I were a better artist than I am.

16. I get nearly as much exercise as I should.
17. I was a tempermental child, but it’s been so long since anything found my limit that I don’t know quite what I’m like.
18. I have a lot to learn.
19. I love talking with people, but it can be really exhausting sometimes.
20. I check my email every day to see if I got new email, sometimes I
check more than once a day.
(Mostly true, but more a matter of convience and habit, as usually the most usefull thing to do is clean out the spam)
21. I often have a hard time taking the things in my head and putting
them on paper.
22. I’d rather people shouted at me than froze me out, but I’d prefer
they did neither.

23. My parents got into country-western dancing, so I’m familiar with a great number of the songs. Some are good, but I don’t take any interest in it myself.
24. I have too many hobbies, so I can’t get properly obsessed with any of them.
25. I deal very well with short-term deadlines (I need this done now),
but not with long term deadlines.

26. I’m rarely tense.
27. Sometimes I’m adventurous, and sometimes I’m cautious.
28. I’m a weird person.
29. I often forget to return e-mails because I want to write something
when I’m less rushed and then I get distracted.
30. I love a lot of books intended for older children or young adults.
(or at least the few that I’ve read have been good.)
31. I keep myself too busy to notice my nonexistent love life.
32. I don’t know where I’d like to live (someplace warmer…) but I want to takeabout 8 people scattered around the country with me.
33. I have a pretty normal sleep schedule, but it seems to vary seasonally.
34. If I’m unhappy, I might lay in bed up to 10 hours in a day.
35. I miss being in school.
36. I rarely go shopping.
37. The single most frustrating thing about being single is wondering if it really could get better.
38. When I go to the theater, though I get involved in the story, I also end up watching the lighting and analyzing the set.
39. I think people aren’t as different from others as they think they are.

40. I had a brief affair with the online quizzes, but mostly ignore them now.
41. I really enjoy thoughtful gifts, even if they cost nothing. (though I usually don’t show it.)
42. I like people who are a bit out of the ordinary.
43. I’m rarely in love with anyone.
44. I don’t ‘get’ pets.
45. In some ways I’m a lot more vulnerable than I like to admit.
46. I fit into a lot of stereotypes, but there’s part of me that can’t be defined by any stereotype invented.
47. I am not now, nor have I ever been trendy.
48. I have never tried a “recreational” drug.

49. I feel like I spend too much time online, even though most of my friends would say they never see me there.
50. I think “adulthood” is mostly a fraudulent concept.
51. Silence often makes me uncomfortable.
52. I over-share certain types of information.

53. I never worked on graveyard shift.
54. I often have trouble getting to sleep.
55. I like being alone sometimes.
56. I actually enjoy washing dishes.
(I just think it takes too long)
57. I’m very slowly learning how to cook, at least for myself.
58. I take books on tape almost everywhere I drive.
59. I like when my friends write me letters and emails, it makes me feel special.
60. I can be idealistic and cynical at the same time.

61. I’ve never worn out a book.
62. I cried a lot as child, for which I recieved so much pain that I rarely do it now.
63. I overreact about things sometimes.
64. I often don’t notice when people are interested in me.
(Though I’m getting better: sometimes I notice, instead of never.)
65. In my entire life, I have had dreams I remember upon awaking more than ten times, but not too much, and less than 10 that I could recall now.
66. I wish I could travel more easily.
67. I love spiders in general
and mostly leave them alone.
68. I tend to hate ladders, not because I’m afraid of heights, per se,
but because I always feel unsteady on them.

69. I don’t follow politics as much as perhaps I should.
70. I wouldn’t mind snow mearly as much if it wasn’t intrinsicly related to cold.
71. I have had people insist that I must be both older and younger than
I actually am.
72. People find it difficult to believe how shy I am.
73. I spend too much time online and procrastinating.

74. I don’t know the smell of honeysuckle.
75. I have a big list of LJ entries that I mean to write sometime, but
they rarely get written and the list keeps getting longer.

76. I can take a lot without flinching, and am not sure what happens when, if, I snap.
77. I love to read, I read as much as I can.
78. Thank the gods for public libraries!
79. I’m not very accepting of the problems I have.

80. I almost never sing.
81. I can be hard to deal with sometimes.
82. I don’t think youth is necessarily any sexier than age.
(true, but it’s kind of moot point since I don’t find much of anything particularly sexy.)
83. I like many children as individuals, but large groups of them drive
me batty.
84. I have a hard time coming up with things to say about myself in
memes like this.

85. I have an extremely strange and twisted relationship with computer games. I enjoy them so much that time slips away, so rarely play them. Yet, I want to design games…
86. I don’t think the phrase “let’s be friends” during a break-up is
always a blow off.

87. I rarely get crushes
88. It’s been an interesting life so far, and it shows no sign of
getting any less interesting.
89. I’d feel better about voting if NONE OF THE ABOVE appeared on the
ballot paper and had some useful effect.
90. I build castles in the air.
91. I’m terrified of relying on other people, because I don’t trust
myself to be (whatever) enough to keep them with me.

92. I think that legalising drugs is worth consideration, but haven’t done enough research believe either side.
93. I hate the help files for most computer programs.
94. If I had my time over again, I’d do a few things the same.
95. I have an addictive personality.
96. I have social anxiety.
97. When I read fiction books I often put myself “in the story”.

98. My hair has never changed color, and I’m too big a fan of natural state to suspect that it ever will.
99. I scored higher than the professor in a standardized programming test.
100. I am done with this survey now. (Yay!)

EULA for a DRE (Digital Recording Electronic) voting machine.

Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction (and really the only interesting bit is at the end.) It is, however, based on very real concerns about voting machines with no audit trails, a rather grave matter to anyone familiar with digital failability and tamperability. If you are interested in this issue, I suggest http://www.blackboxvoting.com

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The VOTING MACHINE is protected by copyright laws and international copyright treaties, as well as other intellectual property laws and treaties.

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This EULA grants you the following rights:

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All title and intellectual property rights in and to the VOTING MACHINE (including but not limited to any images, photographs, animations, video, audio, music, text, and “applets” incorporated into the VOTING MACHINE), the accompanying printed materials, and any copies of the VOTING MACHINE are owned by Big Voting Machine Company or its suppliers. All title and intellectual property rights in and to the content which may be accessed through use of the VOTING MACHINE is the property of the respective content owner and may be protected by applicable copyright or other intellectual property laws and treaties. This EULA grants you no rights to use such content. All rights not expressly granted are reserved by Big Voting Machine Company.

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The VOTING MACHINE and documentation are provided with RESTRICTED RIGHTS. Use, duplication, or disclosure by the Government is subject to restrictions as set forth in subparagraph (c)(1)(ii) of the Rights in Technical Data and Computer Software clause at DFARS 252.227-7013 or subparagraphs (c)(1) and (2) of the Commercial Computer Software–Restricted Rights at 48 CFR 52.227-19, as applicable. Manufacturer is Big Voting Machine Company

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6. NOTE ON JAVA SUPPORT.

THE VOTING MACHINE MAY CONTAIN SUPPORT FOR PROGRAMS WRITTEN IN JAVA. JAVA TECHNOLOGY IS NOT FAULT TOLERANT AND IS NOT DESIGNED, MANUFACTURED, OR INTENDED FOR USE OR RESALE AS ON-LINE CONTROL EQUIPMENT IN HAZARDOUS ENVIRONMENTS REQUIRING FAIL-SAFE PERFORMANCE, SUCH AS IN THE OPERATION OF NUCLEAR FACILITIES, AIRCRAFT NAVIGATION OR COMMUNICATION SYSTEMS, AIR TRAFFIC CONTROL, DIRECT LIFE SUPPORT MACHINES, OR WEAPONS SYSTEMS, IN WHICH THE FAILURE OF JAVA TECHNOLOGY COULD LEAD DIRECTLY TO DEATH, PERSONAL INJURY, OR SEVERE PHYSICAL OR ENVIRONMENTAL DAMAGE.

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Big Voting Machine Company warrants that (a) the VOTING MACHINE will perform substantially in accordance with the accompanying written materials for a period not to exceed thirty (30) days after first election held after receipt, and (b) any Support Services provided by Big Voting Machine Company shall be substantially as described in applicable written materials provided to you by Big Voting Machine Company, and Big Voting Machine Company support engineers will make commercially reasonable efforts to solve any problem. To the extent allowed by applicable law, implied warranties on the VOTING MACHINE, if any, are limited to ninety (30) days after the date of election. Some states/jurisdictions do not allow limitations on duration of an implied warranty, so the above limitation may not apply to you.

CUSTOMER REMEDIES.

Big Voting Machine Company’s and its suppliers’ entire liability and your exclusive remedy shall be, at Big Voting Machine Company’s option, either (a) return of the price paid, if any, or (b) repair or replacement of the VOTING MACHINE that does not meet Big Voting Machine Company’s Limited Warranty and that is returned to Big Voting Machine Company with a copy of your receipt. This Limited Warranty is void if failure of the VOTING MACHINE has resulted from accident, abuse, or misapplication. Any replacement VOTING MACHINE will be warranted for the remainder of the original warranty period or thirty (30) days, whichever is longer. Outside the United States, neither these remedies nor any product support services offered by Big Voting Machine Company are available without proof of purchase from an authorized international source.

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TO THE MAXIMUM EXTENT PERMITTED BY APPLICABLE LAW, BIG VOTING MACHINE COMPANY AND ITS SUPPLIERS DISCLAIM ALL OTHER WARRANTIES AND CONDITIONS, EITHER EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, IMPLIED WARRANTIES OR CONDITIONS OF MERCHANTABILITY, FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE, TITLE AND NON-INFRINGEMENT, WITH REGARD TO THE VOTING MACHINE, AND THE PROVISION OF OR FAILURE TO PROVIDE SUPPORT SERVICES. THIS LIMITED WARRANTY GIVES YOU SPECIFIC LEGAL RIGHTS. YOU MAY HAVE OTHERS, WHICH VARY FROM STATE/JURISDICTION TO STATE/JURISDICTION.

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Middlemarch and company.

Middlemarch, George Eliot

Love, and a little politics, in an small old english town. About 32 hours of audio, it took me about two weeks. I don’t exactly recall why this got on my reading list, so I didn’t go in with much in the way of expectations, but even under my superficial reflection, a few themes show up in various characters. (Spoiler warning.)

Caleb Garth may be the author’s highest virtue: He believes that good, honest work (particularly, improving and managing land and houses) is an end of itself. In fact his wife has to remind him that he does have a family to support, and it would be a good idea to get paid for his labor.

Mr. Casorbin is an elderly man who has labored his entire life on a great scholarly work. He dies with it incomplete, casting large amounts of bitterness in his wake.

The other characters probably have their own messages, but I didn’t find them as poignant. It was obvious that the characters were all upper class, however – at one point a person experiencing financial trouble (as most do – perhaps another theme, taken together with Caleb Garth) says “We can get by with only one servant.”

The author concludes with books ‘big message,’ thoughtfully saving the read the trouble of discovering it: While we may all dream of greatness, simply being a person who does right each and every day is still a very good thing to be.

The next couple are only one tape each:

A Book of Five Rings, Miyamoto Musashi

Packaged as guide to modern business that was the secret to Japan’s success, this classic book is superficially about sword fighting, although it does explicitly claim that the concepts behind the moves have broader application.

This is a very dense book – the kind that requires study to really get anything out of it. As such, the audio presentation isn’t that useful – the speaker is going on to the next section before you can appreciate the use the broader use of a concept, let alone the use in sword fighting alone.

I actually bought this one, and it did just was it was supposed to: fill the gap between the end of Middlemarch and my next trip the library. Sadly, the library’s audio collection doesn’t align too well with my list of things to read, and after grabbing everything that I could find, I started browsing through the shelves and grabbing the first few items that looked interesting, just to keep my next visit at a reasonable distance.

How To Talk So Kids Will Listen, & Listen So Kids Will Talk, Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish

Recommended to me as a guide to communication in general, not just to children. Though I doubt your interlocutor would be flattered if you told him that you were treating him like a child ;^)

The recommendation is one which I’ll say it fulfills, although this is another that would really work better in a written format that you could study a bit – it can go by fairly quickly on tape.

The Man Who Planted Trees, Jean Giono

Unlike the dense works above, this, effectively short story, was so light that they had to insert lots of music to get it on both sides of the tape ;^) It’s the sort of story that exists just to present a very simple idea though, and it’s hard to even call it a spoiler to talk about – the title says enough.

A man, living alone in desolate area, starts planting lots of trees. Over the 30 years of the story, the trees gradually change the climate of the area, even revitalizing the human inhabitants nearby. The message is both about nature, and about the effect one person can have – a person already nearly to ‘retirement age’ with the ‘best years of his life behind him.’

New Toy

A week ago I was typing in information from The Pill Book and I thought “What I really need is to have the book hovering over my keyboard so I don’t have to strain my neck to look at it.” I cursory search of the local Office Max wasn’t encouraging, but I did walk away with a basic copy stand to at last get the book upright and hold the pages open, if a bit awkwardly.

A simple internet search for ‘book stand’ turned up just was I was looking for. (warning: page is informative but large. I also noticed that they doctored the photographs – you wouldn’t be able to see the backs of the books on a real device) It actually does a lot more than I had gone looking for (and is priced accordingly) – for instance, you can strap the book in and read laying bed, with the book hovering over you. I was relieved, when it arrived, to find that there is a ledge so that as long as you aren’t turning your book upside down, you can just set it down and let the page holders take care of it. And I probably will find other uses for it – I have on occasion found reading in bed or chairs to be awkward.

Chemistry and Choice

Huh. I guess I did finish the first ‘issue’ tonight after all. (Though the first half was taken from earlier correspondence, and the thoughts may be a little jumbled as a result.)

I’ve never had that romantic chemistry between two people. Oh, sure, I’ve had a spring in my step for an affection, and I’ve even had a few people casting meaningful glances my way. But never have these events coincided. For all that I have, but little, tasted love, I have never seen that fairy-tale state of mutual attraction. Does it really even exist? Or is it just a story the troubadours told to a hungry audience to make a buck?

I haven’t even had all that many one-way admirations. There was an interesting note on LJ a while back. The idea is that the feeling of love was based on what one thought of the other as a provider of offspring. The entry pretty much dismissed the idea, but it is kind of interesting given my worldivew.

There are too many people in the world. Many starve for want of food (and the people who have the food giving a damn) Meanwhile, we are stripping the natural resources bare to provide toys for the better off few, and starting wars to control those scarce resources, or even just land to put all of the people.

So. Subconsciously speaking. I don’t think we need too many children. So I don’t necessarily see the need to produce my own. So I don’t need a mother for them. So I don’t need anything to draw me to a woman.

As I said the theory may not be all that credible, but it’s a thought I had.

So. No chemistry, Does there need to be chemistry? Is love a choice?

An interesting bit in the ’7 Habits’ tapes:

“I don’t love my wife anymore.”
“So love her.”
“But I don’t love her.”
“So love her.’
“But that’s the point, I don’t love her.”
“So just love her.”

Certain points are certainly quite believable: to honor and respect. Arranged marriages were held for some time. I’ve heard of people maintaining a strong family until the kids were gone, and then quietly separating on good terms; all their obligations were met but there wasn’t really any reason to stay together.

Then there are people who, say, take out a personal, and things start going along nicely with the first person he really meets. And you wonder. Did he give up? Decide to just love the one he’s with?

Maybe I’ve been raised on too many fairy-tales. But it does feel like giving up to me. Sure, I could give my total commitment to someone. But if it was a purely rational choice, there would always be that kernel of doubt down deep. And what if something magic did come along. Well, what if it did? You’ve made the ultimate kind of promise to someone, and all you can think about is this other person.

In Atlas Shrugged, there is an oft repeated principle which goes something like this: “There are no contradictions in nature. If there appears to be contradiction, examine your premises. One of them is surely wrong.”

One of my premises here is that chemistry is an external event. You are walking along minding your own business and then WHAM! the light from above hits you and everthing focuses in on that one person.

The opposite would be internal. Could chemistry really be a switch waiting to be flipped? If it is, what has been flipping it so far?

I’m sure the internal versus external motivation debate has been occupying philosophers for ages. I don’t know if it will ever really be resolved.

Well that’s all fine and good, but what do I think?

I”m afraid to answer that question.

This is the kind of question that gets down deep; yanks at the roots and finds a lot connected. On one hand, I think I’d like to believe in volitional love; I’ve always been a pretty independent person; sometimes the best way to make me not do something is to try and convince me to do it. But it opens up problematic questions. For instance, volitional love might appear to the ultimate expression of reason; evaluating the candidates and dedicating yourself to the best one. Yet it offends reason in the manner of it’s arisal.

I don’t believe that anybody believes that animals go around consciously choosing their mates. Yet we are evolved from animals. At just what point does one go from “WOMAN!” to careful calculated discretion?

Well, that’s not quite right, is it? We are EVOLVED from animals; human beings exercie rational thought all day, a facility not generally attributed to lower life forms. Some humans even make the rational choice to commit suicide. If rational thought can exercise itself over fear of death, why not love of another?

So, it appears that love SHOULD be a matter of choice, if only we realized it. So what about Romeo and Juliet and all the stories like it? For that matter what about war? What about poverty? There are a lot of things that wouldn’t be in the world if every person were exercising rational thought all the time.

So where does that leave me?

That leaves me afraid to answer the question. What am I afraid of?

-Admitting that I have been living a good chunk of my life the wrong way. That a great number of my actions, all that I have to show for myself so far, could now be classified as mistakes.

-The prospect that the theory will at some point be tested. What if I make my rational choice and chemistry doesn’t follow? Is the theory wrong or am I just not strong enough to execute it? (A rather more immediate concern when I first proposed the question to myself.)

-Lost romanticism – ‘being swept off your feet.’ Or, reliance on external events to provide your happiness. And ceding of responsibility to do something about your current situation.

Of these, only the second point seems to be a real concern. And what good is a theory if you don’t test it? Not that I expect a real test any time soon. ;^)

Alarms off.

Well, all the little interpersonal alarms have been switched back into their accustomed position. We have in fact talked things out; I wasn’t entirely wrong, but I wasn’t entirely right. Things are largely back to normal. One difference being a renewed confidence in open communication, in spite of my romantic inexperience (p.s. the poll has been unhidden, now that it wouldn’t render itself moot) The other difference is that I’ve discovered I have a lot of issues to work out before I could really enter into a relationship anyway. Some of those will hopefully be worked out here, over time, to prepare the way for future opportunities.

New Game Pattern Group

There is an interesting article on Gamasutra about Game Taxonomies The references also pointed to a new group doing game design patterns: http://www.gamedesignpatterns.org. They are still hiding their pattern database, but there are some interesting articles in the publications section.

Maybe I should move to northern europe. That seems to be where all the interesting programming and game design research is going on ;^)


Another interesting note is that the the Call To Power II source code has been released.

Some Advice?

Mounting evidence having finally broken the back of doubt, I am fairly certain that a friend has taken a liking to me. Meanwhile, my heart isn’t doing any somersaults. Much as I like to leave possibilities open, distance is involved, so the prospect of change is fairly minimal.