I think it is a serious tragedy that small business in Bend (probably everywhere, I've only seen Bend do it first hand) are forced through common custom to provide lines of credit to one another.
I'm not sure how many people are aware of this, but if you do business to business business, you have to invoice the client, and then give them 30 days to pay you.
This doesn't sound so bad, but to be strictly accurate you are extending a line of credit when you do this.
Your service is rendered, and in most cases irretrievable. Your options should the client pay late, or not at all, are very limited.. so most deadbeats end up getting written off, and most late-payers end up getting praised. Their credit is not affected by the fact that they have bad credit, and your books get ruined.
Worse still, if someone pays you religiously on time for a decade there is zero positive reflection on their credit.
Extending credit is a service. A service with risks, overheads, a service that requires expertise.
It is a BUSINESS.
Small businesses shoud not have to engineer their own websites: they may pay experts to do so for them. They should not have to repair their own vehicles - again, proffesionals can do this for you.
They should not have to extend lines of credit.
Where are the experts who will extend credit for you?
It stands to reason to me that Banks and Credit Unions extend credit to people and to businesses. It is just one of the things that they do.
So, why can they not extend credit on behalf of small businesses?
Imagine this scenario: You are a small business. You sign up for an account with Superfied Credit Union. As part of the service related to this account, you proxy all of your financial dealings with most of your clients. When you render and invoice to any of your clients, the Credit Union pays you — perhaps minus a service fee, like 6% or something — the whole of the invoice immediately. The Credit Union then proxy-bills your client. The Credit Union levies financing charges if they pay late. The Credit Union collects the debt, or sells the debt if the client never pays. The Credit Union runs background checks on clients when their accounts with you are created, and determines their credit limit. Clients who don't pay get their credit damaged immediately and consistantly. Clients who do pay build their credit just as fluidly.
Your accounting books remain in perfect harmony with your cash flow for all eternity. You look like a gem to venture capitolists and financiers.
Many of the businesses you do business with would probably be using similar services too.
The credit union could easily make a mint while enforcing and fostering public trust and seriously bolstering the local economy.
No, I do not want to start such a credit union, I don't know the first thing about credit or being in union with anything. I just want someone else to do it so I can sign up; and so that my employers don't have to worry about how they will pay me at the end of the month. A> their cash flow will be pristine, B> if things get dodgy I could always proxy them through the credit union.
My blog needs an About page so I'm writing one now. [Ed note: written 2004 but updated Nov 15 2008]
Drop me a line or comment if you notice I've left any glaring details out :)
I'm a proud geek. I look like a trainwreck and sleep until noon and make no sense to anyone accept sometimes myself, but I can waste you in games that nobody plays, like Portal, Combat Arms and Second Life. :)
I am a child of the 80's. I am the leader of the Flipsiders fan club. I watch
and document the goings on at homestarrunner.com. No matter who you are, I guarantee I can steer the conversation away from topics you feel comfortable with or find in any way interesting.
My wife Darla is my infinite sweetheart. Our son Christian is an adorably precocious 9 year old brat. My other son Jaydon — 2 year old precocious-brat-in-training — is currently too easily distracted by soap bubbles rocking-horses and arbitrary inanimate objects to create much of a nuisance.. but we have faith that he will learn. I live in Central Oregon as one of the 12 or so people who never go outside. For a living I currently administer computer networks, generate web applications, and serve the needs of a few hundred Wireless Internet clients in Central Oregon.
The degree to which I enjoy any given topic is often subject to a number of surprisingly arbitrary modifiers. For example, any topic gains a point of interest on my behalf for involving any of the following:
I inexplicably like any song that invokes any of the following concepts:
Born May 22, 1977
Married to Darla Bottle Aug 1998
Two sons, Christian Lee, born 1999
Jaydon Reiley, born 2006
Generating, verifying, auditing, securing, understanding, and shoveling around information. The 1980's, parodies, geekiness, campiness, cartoons, things that are self contained and things that make full and creative use of their resources. Ruby. Recovering Chat addict. [Ed note: recovery failed -- I'm on Second Life nao D:]
soccer, sleeping, Surfing teh web, FPS, Second Life.
sleeping, eating, being a nuisance. Trying to instruct my children how to not be a nuisance like daddy. Being attaxed bai kitty.
LOTR + Silmarillion. Harry Potter series. Science fiction by Orson Scott Card, Peirs Anthony, Stephen R. Donaldson, and Phillip Hose Farmer. Philosophy by Douglas Hofstadter, Daniel Dennet, Stanislaw Lem, Lem Sportsinterviews. The Perl Camel book, The Ruby Pickaxe book, Nobody Knows Shoes. (Yeah, not a big lit buff :)
TMBG, John Tesh, Sara Maclachlan, Blue Rodeo, Counting Crows (sometimes), Enya, Lemon Demon, Wierd Al, Daft Punk, Restless Heart, The Cartoons, Yoko Kanno.
MacGuyver, Star Trek TNG, Stargate SG1+Atlantis, Aqua Teen Hunger Force, Futurama, Square One TV, Tenchi Muyo, The West Wing, Most Extreme Elimination Challenge, Numb3rs, House MD, Avatar the last Airbender, Firefly, Monk, Doctor Who, Fullmetal Alchemist, Claymore, The Muppet Show, first 2/3 of Deathnote.
Shrek II, The Matrix, Contact, Fight Club, LOTR extended editions, the Harry Potter movies so far (including repaired version of 3), The Neverending Story (1 only), Back to the Future Trilogy, The American President, Bicentenial Man, In the mouth of Madness, South Park BLU, Pirates of the Carribean, The Shawshank Redemption, Amelie, The Princess Bride, Die Hard I-III, Groundhog Day, Happy Feet, The Pirates of the Carribean Trilogy (2 is only good and 3 only makes sense if you think of them as one long film), Twister, Titanic, Steamboy, Gattaca, All Pixar except "Bug's Life" which is ho-hum, Constantine, Super Troopers, The Iron Giant, Babe.
Lasagna and various italian pastas, Mongolian Barbecue and various asian dishes (+ for sweet and sour chicken, minusminus for egg foo yung), burgers, country fried steak, various mexican dishes, I've even recently aquired a taste for very hot spices. ("very" hot being according to consumer labeling; I have no other frame of reference)
Pizza, the better the better
Ice Cream: mint chocolate-chip
I don't like any kind of berries at all.
Crook County High School, Oregon
Central Oregon Community College
Geek of Almost All Trades
Make electronic gadgets go "beep", make network appliances ph43r me, impress people with acts of ubergeekiness.
Ability to program in almost every computer language extant. Extreme skills getting things done using HTML, CSS, and Flash. CSS purist. Extreme skills developing web based applications. Intermediate skills deploying Local and Metropolitan Area Networks for SOHO, small business, and distributed internet service. Extreme technical skills in Adobe: Photoshop, Illustrator, Indesign.
I can edit and layout content, but have little skill generating content. Using these tools I can make any webpage/webapp/network/newspaper designer's dreams come true, but have no skill creatively dreaming up such designs myself.
Them's the breaks :)
Rigorously proving that I am geekier than U, for any given value of 'U'. Especially U (points finger at U ;). Figuring out how to harness teh U tubes for fun and/or profit. Maybe I wanna start up a restaraunt review site. Who knoes? :D
Peer pressure, manipulation, intimidation, ostracism, complex/compound questions, interpersonal politics.
Visceral peeves (stuff that inexplicably pushes yer buttons):
I'm insecure about the location of the smallest of a set of bones — such as my pinky fingers, pinky toes, and floating ribs. For instance, if someone tries to pull my pinky away from my other fingers it takes an average of 351 milliseconds for them to find their own skeletal structures in much higher degrees of danger than mine. It's a phobia, what can I do?
There are specific fibre materials that I cannot stand to touch. Like Velvet or Velvetine. It has short stiff bristles that get up under my fingernails. It give me the Jibblies.
There are certain other fibre materials I can't stand the concept of being moistened under duress. Paper napkins are a good example. If you try to write on a paper napkin with a ball point pen, or worse yet try to EAT a paper napkin, I'll probably do immature things to distract my mind from the unsueing horror like blocking the view, fleeing in desperate panick or perhaps egging you into the stone age with Dane Petersen's patented egg-you-into-the-stone-age-o-matic device.
Angus MacGuyver, Archimedes of Syracuse, Sir Ernest Rutherford, Frank Lloyd Wright, Warren Robinett, Einstien, Edison, Asimov, Seagan, Turing, Nash, Babbage, Ada, Euclid, Gauss, DesCartes, Ghandi, Escher, Magritte, Hofstadter (Robert) and his collegue Richard Hanni who took the time to patiently explain to me the concept of finite, boundless space time. Oh yea, and my great x7 grandpa John Adams.
Who I'd like to meet:
the little person responsible for turning the refrigerator light on when I open the door. That dude knows what up, yo!
Say does anyone remember this show? If it's the show I think it is then I watched it and loved it when I was in early grammar school. But I can't tell.. Google tells me that the SesameWorkshop (yea, one word) has send C&D orders to just about every Fan site, apparently trying to expunge the production from the history books.
What I can remember about the show that I *think* was the electric company (I could never figure out what the show was called while I was watching it :) is that it had a cartoon about a superhero guy, and a villian wizard who kept trying to mess him up by magicly changing letters used in words describing what the hero was up to. In one episode, the hero was dancing with some important gal, which was apparently a big FEAT. (what the hell is a "feat"? lol) and of course the evil guy magicked the "a" in that description into an "e", so the hero wound up with rather large FEET.
The hero would always fix things by pulling out a letter and repairing the damaged words. In another episode, it was exposited that the hero kept all of his spare letters in this TRUNK. The bad guy came by and transformed it into a pile of JUNK. (Yes, this ruined the whole 90's phrase "junk in the trunk" for me :) This was apparently a catastrophe, since the hero no longer had any letters with which to save the day! but, behold, there was a straggling letter H hidden somewhere.. so the hero used it to transform into a HUNK (?) and beat the bejeesus out of the evil wizard ;)
There were also people who would stand on either sides of the screen and say the beginnings and endings of words, pushing them together into the whole word. I think the two headed monster on Sesame Street did that as well.
But, one thing I liked about this show is something I've mentioned before: aside from geeky 80's camp, it had parody value just like Square One tv did later on.
We like to go down to sawyer park on some weekends, bring bags of in-shell peanuts, and "feed the Chippities".. being the Chipmunks.
They are very cute, they like in-shell peanuts (they like to chew through the shell and get that nut inside, and then come back for more) I've found that they don't like pistachio nuts however.
There is the Golden-mantled Ground-Squirrel, these are the most populous critters down there, and they will come right up to you and politely take your peanut from your hand. They will run away a few feet, or sometimes just sit right there, chew through and stow the peanuts in their cheek, and come back for more. :)
There is also the Merriam's Chipmunk. These are little masked marauders who are excellent at climbing straight vertical up rock faces and whatnot. They are not as brave as the ground squirrels, so you have to throw them a peanut.
The other species of critter out there I can't tell what it is, even with the help of almighty google :) It looks like maybe a sage rat, or prarie dog? But what do I know? They're about the same size as the chipmunks, a little bigger (and quite a bit more garfield-plump). They are greyish all over, not quite as spry as the chipmunks, and don't mind pistachios. They are also very cute, the ones I would feed looked like they were making up excuses to come down to you. I've gotten them to get a few inches away at the closest, I'll always eventually throw the nut to them.
Finally, the very young ground squirrles will come out too. They are so cute, and er.. dumb ;) They can't eat through the shells so I'll throw them some regular peanuts when they come out. They like to scamper around just like their parents, but their parents tend to scamper to useful locations, while the little ones will scamper kind of randomly and illogiocally.. getting themselves into all kinds of mischief. One of them stopped just short of scampering over a 10 foot drop! but they are still very cute :)
I've got one handy, so if you'd like to trade for an orkut invite lemme know. You can comment here or email me at email@example.com. I'll post a comment here when I've given it out; so first come first serve.
I've never tried orkut so I'ma see what it's like :)
Alright, so I now officially don't like Iperf anymore. The romance is over.
I started checking out Iperf a few months ago. It's like a voltometer for network bandwidth. It kind of works like Ping.
You need two copies of it running, on two different computers on a network. You set one up in server mode "iperf -s" and then you set the other up in client mode "iperf -c servercomputer.mynetwork.com" and they saturate the network between themselves and report the amount of bandwidth there.
By default, the client just connects, tests bandwidth silently for ten seconds, and then reports the average speed and quits. The server hangs around waiting for more client requests. With switches you can make it work like ping, where it tests bandwidth continually and gives you running reports every second.
This sounded great for our wireless networking projects, as we could use iperf to very practically test what happens to a wireless connection as you move around antennaes and do site surveys. I mean we have signal strength meters, and little doodads that tell us what speed the connection is negotiated at, 2Mbps vs 11 Mbps etc, but there's nothing as final as really seeing how many bits fit down the pipe.
The problem was that it turned out that iperf behaves very badly in smarmy network conditions. You can run it on a wired network, no problem.. pull your ethernet cable, no problem and it says "0.. 0.. 0..", plug it back in, no sweat.. but there is something swampy about being in the very fringes of a wireless network that makes iperf go bonkers. The client, in a windows dos-box, crashes and sometimes freezes up so bad that "end process" can't even touch it. Sometimes it just gets stuck so that even when you're back in wireless sunshine it won't report anything to you.. but you can kill it and start over and all is well.
Even worse is that, under the same conditions, the server itself crashes nearly as often. (luckily the server doesn't seem to freeze or lock hard :) We've confirmed this on Windows, Linux, and FreeBSD boxes.
We need this to work for site surveys where our salesperson can carry around a tablet and not need to intervene much. So I got fed up and wrote a replacement. It took all of 11 hours of tinkering to produce a 1.5k perl script that beats iperf (for our needs) all hollow.
The perl app is the client, while the server is an xinetd socket linked to "yes". "yes" is a prog that spits out "y\n" forever, or anything else you ask it too.. it's great for saturating networks; and for being repetitively affirmative.
iperf can allegedly test both the up and the down bandwidth — which I haven't been able to confirm — but for most wireless connections I mess with up and down always end up congruent. My app tests down only. Also iperf can test exotic things like UDP, which we don't use. My app only does tcp. My app uses netcat, so I could UDP were I in a bad mood, but I'm not. :)
My app, unlike iperf, appears to survive even the smarmiest of network conditions. It will never crash, lock up or die and neither will it's server process. That success took up most of my tinkering time — it used to have minor lock ups alla time. Additionally, it spits out pretty bars which visually confirm bandwidth er.. width.. and a spinny dealybob that spins at the speed the app receives bits at.. so you'll know the instant you step behind an object that impacts your connectivity. I can even set the poll refresh to fractional seconds (hurray for Time::HiRes).
The pretty bandwidth bars and the spinning doohickey are also done in box-drawing ansi chars for the greatest visibility, since it can be hard to see what's going on on a laptop or a tablet PC when you're walking around out in the bright sunlight.
Altogether I'ma proud of my new, cute li'l app and glad to be able to create something "new under the sun" given the veracity of yon world full o' open source coders. :)
There are a class of programs out there called "CPU Killers" whose purpose is to slow down your computer. Sometimes it's to get around exotic bugs when certain apps have too much processing power at their disposal, and more often to play very very old games that depend on the CPU being a specific speed.. they measure time in clock cycles.
The best of the CPU killer at the time (I remember when AT Slow used to be a big deal) appears to be CPU Killer (crayon, kleenex, band-aid, you get it). I've used it and it does it's job well.
Most programs like this operate by keeping your CPU so busy that it has less time available for the applications you are trying to slow down. What I think someone should somehow make (The author of CPU Killer informs me that this idea would require rewriting a very big hunk of Windows) is an app that simply forces the CPU to spend a certain amount of time being idle. If that were possible it would be much cleaner and more efficient than busting the CPU's balls, and it would allow some people with laptops with heat issues to virtually underclock their units to adapt to their thermal woes. I think that'd be rad.
My laptop for instance, overheats and shuts itself down whenever the CPU goes 100% for more than 10 seconds or so. (90% for a minute, 85% for half an hour, etc). It's rather sad. Also, I like to play TurboRisk, which has an unfortunate bug of wasting 100% of your CPU while it has focus waiting for user input. If you aren't on a laptop with heat issues, you'd probably never notice though.
As some background; I take being a geek very seriously. I feel as though "geek" is a cultural designation, just like "Texan" or "Jewish" or "Ferengi", and I feel deep respect for my culture in spite of our astoundingly low social popularity.
When I was young, I invested my interests in Science, Technology, and Computers. I felt as though these were the pavestones of the future, and that by becoming adept in their application, we geeks would slowly win over society's favor as our works began to become important to society.
Of course in the 1980's, Science and Technology were still pretty low key in the standard american household. You're average family had electricity, running water, plenty of electric light and sometimes electric heat, televisions, radios, eventually microwaves, sundry kitchen appliances, cars, and that pretty much summed it up.
All other technologies were still toys at the time, but it was pretty obvious that technology's roll in society would explode in our lifetimes. That has indeed happened. With the advent of the internet and all of the possibilities that near-infinite global communications has allowed us, technology is becoming important to everyone everywhere. However, society seems to snatch away from us geeks what it finds interesting, with little gratitude, and ridicules any aspects it doesn't immediately comprehend.. much like a spoiled toddler.
When I hit the information superhighway like a flaming pile o' crap in '95, virtually everyone online was a geek. The least-geekiest person you chatted with or veiwed the webpage of still resided in the top 1% of American Geekdom when compared with people who had never heard of computer networks. Those were the days when "Spam" and "commercial popups" were virtually unheard of. Most companies did not have their own websites, even the big ones, and domain squatting was expensive.. to the tune of $250/yr for a domain.
"Surfing" was the modus operandi of the time, where you would literally follow a link on one website to some loosely connected website, and so on all day long. We were still getting the hang of "Search Engines" and Yahoo was seriously a clunking behemoth. Your whole take on how to use the internet was geekily social: you surfed around until you got to somewhere interesting. mpg movies of fractal zooms, jpg images from the hubble space telescope, midi files of Dave Brubeck's Peanut's theme song, and chat rooms.
We all wanted our friends and families to jump on the internet. We all wanted businesses to invest in Ecommerce. We all wanted to be able to talk to virtually anyone in our new wonderland, and purchase anything we wanted and download it or have it shipped to us. Now that you're all here we mostly wish you would just go away and leave us alone again.
What the internet has changed into is much more money-driven and disheartening. There is now spam and popups, scams and viruses, and a huge number of people desparately trying to apply ruthlessness to the internet in order to squeeze cash out of it. All chatrooms have turned into impossibly sleazy pickup joints. All the David Brubeck midi's have become illegal to download.
All of our hard work to change the world has succeeded, but to little avail.
We are still treated as lepers. Half of people want to manipulate us to get things done and to simultaneously vent their frustrations at us. The other half of people are angry that we've succeeded in changing the world, and they want to change it back. You know.. the people who hate or mistrust computers, and dispise all of this technological hoo-ha.
There are some individuals who have friends who are geeks, but no facets of society have opened their arms to us as a culture in general. We are considered an abberance, even though we are easily stereotyped (thus obviously common) and highly productive people. Our only crime against society is refusing to conform to it — conforming instead to the needs of our industries.
A Computer Geek, for instance, knows an infinite amount more about what's going on inside an arbitrarily chosen computer than inside the head of an arbitrarily chosen person. They are much more confident interacting with the computer than with the person, since they know how the computer will react at every moment.
For instance, as a geek, I can honestly testify that I have no smegging clue what you people do when you go to bars or hang out at clubs or whatever. You somehow swim amidst a sea of strangers and make new friends. You somehow fail to piss people off nearly as much as we geeks tend to in similar settings. You somehow "have a good time" despite there being no computers or philosophy or anything we geeks find meaningful or worthwhile. I understand that alcohol, music, and dancing are usually involved, but that's about as helpful as saying it takes eggs, flower and sugar to make a cake. I also have seen that most communication happens non-verbally in such places.. upwards of 2/3rds I reckon.. so we geeks don't have to utter a single word to come off as insensitive assholes.
So just to recap.. you're among some friends, many strangers, there is music, you can dance around if you want. You have beer. The only way I can think of to build a good time out of such mishmash would be to call in MacGuyver.
Geeks on the other hand much prefer LAN parties. Just stop and think about this now.. we bring all of our computers into the same room and communicate with each other through them. More often then not we'll eschew the room itself entirely and lodge ourselves in emersive multiplayer games.. so we are interacting with our avatars (computer players) in a virtual world, occasionally talking in leui of hooking up a vox system. Instead of picking up subtle social cues from watching one another directly, we do so through the computer environments we feel more comfortable in. In case anyone is interested, yes, my bachelor party was a LAN party. :)
We don't fail to conform to society as some pseudo-social statement, but instead as an actual aversion.. and thus society remains averse to us. Still, other than being pompous sometimes, or difficult to understand, there isn't much normal society can charge against us geeks as a list of greivances. Our list of greivances against society on the other hand is great and long. Also the fruits of our labor are real, substantial, and the bedrock of progress in the twentieth century.. while I can't see a single advancement that's been made as a result of arbitrary socializing. Sure, being able to work as part of a team is indefinately useful — but that's a far cry from following the latest fashions, listening to the hippest music, or hanging out at the dopest clubs. Or playing golf.
So, I wanna know what gives.
I was reminded of this slashdot article after seeing all the fuss over Dave Winer shutting down his service. Dave Winer's actions remind me a lot of this web host's actions (though Dave has not been arrested for extortion as a result) and both stories appear to be slight precidents to traditional property laws creeping their way onto the internet. You know, squatting rights and rental agreements and all of those.
Here was my reply in the comment thread to that slashdot article (which a week later appeared to get modded up to 2! go me :) You should probably read the slashdot article, and the original and maybe some of the other comments, before you try and make sense out of my reply.
One of the major reasons that I can't quite switch over from Windows to X windows, despite all of the window manager advancements on the default installations of both Gnome and KDE, is that there are no X windows compatable versions of 3D Clipboard. I have found that I can't carry on computing life without 3D clipboard. It is a basic part of any computing environment.
Every time I have introduced a small-office user to 3D clipboard, they have inevitably come to the same conclusion. If any of them read my blog I would have them come in here and back me up in fact. :)
3D clipboard is an application that enhances your computer's normal clipboard. Normally, when you paste a new item into the clipboard, whatever was there gets pushed out into the bit bucket. That's where 3D clipboard comes in. It remembers the last X text items you had in the clipboard. Just click the systray icon to bring up a menu of anything you've copied recently, and recall your chosen item back into the clipboard.. and back to the front of the line.
It is handy when you need that bit of text you were carrying around just five minutes ago, or when you need to carry around more than one peice of text at a time. Using the keyboard shortcuts (that were largely my suggestions from the get go :) I can copy up 5, 10, or 20 different items, and then rapidly paste them back out anywher I need them, in virtually any order.. without going anywhere near the mouse.
3D Clipboard is the brainchild of my dear pal Vince Valenti who used to be mean to me when we worked together for awhile at Bendnet. If you become attached to the app you should contact him and offer him money.. or love.. or, I dunno, Lasagna?
Also, grab this beta version of it here. Oddly enough that's actually more stable than the release version, and has all the important features :)
Darla, Chris Merdyith and I watched Prizoner of Azkaban last week. 3am that night, I could not sleep and felt compelled to list every single last thing about this film that bugs the hell out of me before I could possibly sleep again. About halfway through, I indeed got sleepy. Afterwards I decided I'd finish up the rant and post it, but I never felt in the mood to finish my rant.. so this week I figured I'll post the incomplete rant before the intended effect got too (too) old.
So if you'd like to ask my opinion on something, feel free to ask me. I know more about the books than you do and I've corneres the market on knowledge about what makes good film, after all. :)
I have read all of the books and consider myself well versed on everything. I've schooled people on the time-travel of the PoA book and how it's not a plothole on the imdb.com boards.
As a warning, this post will contain spoilers. If you plan to enjoy the movie or the book for the first time soon, you should not read on.
For every point I rant on I'll put out stars to say how big a problem it is. *---- is one star, means "I'm prolly just nit-picking", ***** is five stars: means something is royally screwed.
Now, I believe that Alfonso Cuarón did a spectacularily bad job directing this film. I don't believe that he is a bad director, or that he is evil or mean, but that he is crazily inexperienced. With experience he may become very good at making big budget films. I also believe that no single person, no matter how hard they tried, could cause all of the problems this film has all by themselves: so he must have had lots and lots of help.
***** If I see one mote 5 second long vignette transition to or from black again in my entire life, so help me I WILL MURDER SOMEBODY AND THE TWELVE CLOSEST BYSTANDERS IN A FIT OF APOPLECTIC RAGE!! In case you don't know what that transition is, it's a blurry circular hole that grows or shrinks covering or revealing the scene. In this movie it gave you the impression, on reveal, that you were waking up after a bad hangover. On fade-out, that you were slowly going blind with tunnel vision. He used the transition about a dozen times, and it is aggravated by the next problem.
***** Choice of film stock. I don't know what kind of hard negative film stock this lunatic was using, but the blackest blacks were a washed out muddy shade of grey (including the maddening vignettes) and almost everything that was in shadow (half the movie) was lost in the mud. I swear he should have washed his film in woolite instead of bleach-alternative. I might have blamed this on our theater's projectors, if the movie's very own digital trailers online didn't suffer from the exact same effect. The off-black actually creates a mad pattern of quicktime artifact/rectangles in frames that should be all black!
***** Next, film length. PoA is longer than the previous two books, GoF longer still.. Why was this movie so much shorter than the other two films? Are they strapped for cash, or for critic's attention spans? Well, for some reason, they chose to butcher most of the important plots and leave way too many unnessessary plots. They have sabatoged the foundation for the rest of the books. Then, they go ahead and leave an infinite number of loose ends that only make sense if you know the real story; instead of cauterizing the wounds. The first two films did erase some elements and tied up loose ends generated. Remember Peeves, the poltergeist from the books? Well he doesn't really affect the plot much, so they nixed him in all the movies. Good call. But they also adjusted things so that small contributions made by peeves in the book are made in some other ways in the movies. I'll touch on every major plot butchered, every minor plot that time gets laboriously wasted on, and every loose bit of electrical wire as I go. [Ed note: obviously, I never got around to them all :)]
**--- Camera-work. During the movie I thought that many of the camera shots (angle choices, etc) were pure genious: but right at the moment I can't remember a single instance of that, [Ed note: a week later and I still can't recall such a scene] and what I think I remember washes into muddy off-black film stock when I try to recall it. I did notice however, espescially right in the beginning of the film (either they got better or I got used to it) that the steady-cam was not steady. The cameras jittered around like the ones in the old episodes of NYPD blue. It was kind of unsettling.
****- Hogsmeade permission slip. If you have not read the book, you probably don't know what hogsmeade is. It is an all-wizarding town nearby Hogwarts. At various intervals, 3rd year students and up are allowed to go there for shore leave, if and only if they have a permission slip signed by a legal gardian. You see Vernon shrug off signing it.. you see Minerva state that she is unqualified to sign it. It has no impact on future books/movies. So: why is it in this movie? They spend more time bandying this peice of paper around uselessly than they do explaining/describing any of the things in or involved with hogsmeade. "Honeydukes" is a candy shop that sells the kind of trick candies the kids were eating in the start of the film (paradoxically before they visited hogsmeade, and again for no apparent purpose.) You see it's interior breifly. Zonko's Joke Shop is refered to twice as "a really great place", but nobody goes into why or what it's like. Hog's Head is a pub, run by the lady Rosemerta. You get to see a bit about it but only while Harry was all pissed off so it was only a quick fly-through. The Shreiking Shack? So far, in book five, it has had no use except in book 3: yet in the movie it is talked about entirely in vain. Twice it is refered to as "the most haunted house in England", but what does this mean? Is it safe as a hideout? I saw no ghosts while there. Why bother naming it or elaborating on it? In the book it is a very meaningful place and you learn everything important about it. In the movie, it is nearly as erased as peeves, just not cauterized.
***-- English-english vs. American-english. The first two films were done in american-english, with a british accent and some simple british sayings. This means that while everyone sounded like they were British, everyone could still understand what they were saying. This is an interesting fact; but a British person normally cannot discern American-english from british-english. Your average person from *anywhere* else in the world simply cannot understand british-english, but they can understand american-english. Among other things this stems from the traditional british dislike of "consonants", as being unnessessary hassles to the spoken language. Perhaps Alfonso learned English in England, or else perhaps he felt insecure to tell everyone they were prattling on like nincompoops in a language he is not entirely versed in, but most everyone (Ron, Hermione, Neville, Fudge, Stan, Trelawny, better jobs done by Harry, Lupin, Dumbledore and Sirius) spent a great deal of time prattling meaninglessly.
***** False danger. Espescially in the first half of the movie, nearly every time something dangerous happened (except the dementors on the train) it was at least a second into happenning before the music changed to forbode danger. It left me with a feeling like the story-teller almost forgot to mention that you're supposed to get scared, or take things seriously all of the sudden. The dog behind the park bench, bogart responding to Harry, Trelawny reacting to the grim, all horribly horribly botched jobs. For the bogart, I mean come on.. it changed into a dementor in front of Harry. It was that way for several seconds before Lupin jumped in, yet Lupin still told Harry he interfered because he suspected the bogart would look like voldemort. That is a line from the book that obviously didn't apply to the movie since Lupin got a rather good look at the thing in the movie.
**--- Knight bus. Yes, it's this violently purple triple decker bus that speeds insanely and unsafely around everywhere. I thought the chandelier was a nice touch. I thought the lack of mailboxes and street lights leaping conveniently out of the way was a disapointment. Squeezing between two busses was cool in theory, but too slow and dull in practice. I complained to my wife that they provided no explaination: that everyone who hadn't read the book would be left wondering "wtf is that knight bus, anyway?" to which she replied, "wtf WAS that knight bus, anyway?" People will probably wonder what it is for, how it found Harry, what's the fare, ect etc. This is all covered in the book, and could have been in the movie in less time than the boring squeezy scene took.
*---- Sirius Black. So he was apparently Voldemort's pal. So he betrayed Harry's parents, and apparently brutally killed Peter Pettigrew. So he probably wants to do in Harry. So he's escaped from Azkaban, right out from under the dementors.
So why is he getting so much press? I mean, bad wizards kill people all the time. Most of them on the large at any moment are simply uncaught instead of escaped, but there are always some on the large, and many of them have done worse things than the movie mentions black doing.
Why has Fudge lined Hogwarts in dementors? Just like that one kid mentioned, dementers had done no good so far.. and hassling the school has got to take a lot of effort, dementors or no. Why don't they always have some rad protection for the school, with uncaught wizards lurking about all the time? Doesn't that sound disproportionate?
In the book it is made clear why Sirius inspires so much fear in the wizarding community. He is wanted for not only "destroying" Peter Pettigrew, but for "destroying" the city block in the muggle town that Peter was standing on, along with 12 of the muggle bystanders who also happened to be located on that fateful city block at that moment. I think they hould have explained what made him a criminal in eye's other than Harry's
*---- Flying motorcycle. Book 1, and movie 1, Hagrid freely mentions that he borrowed the bike from "young Sirius Black". I guess they would have had to invest up to 40 more seconds on that back story in this movie, but they left 45 minutes out so I think they had all the room to work with that they @#$! needed.
***** Monster Book of Monsters. I don't care how cute it is, they spent about 5 minutes on it even though it is even less important than peeves, and spent about zero time going into the backstory of James & co. I mean do they seriously plan to even film GoF or OotP at this point? Each of those books are 50% longer than this one. They are going to try and cram tons of missing backstory of Harry's parents and their friends, Harry and Cho, Harry, Cho and Cederick, on top of nearly two thousand pages of new material in 4 movie hours or less. That would not be possible even butchering things to only the very most important major plots. So, I've lost all hope and fear they will toss out the major plots instead and only keep some lightweight minor plots that make interesting looking special effects juxtaposed with no actual storyline. Maybe in OotP they won't even bother casting Harry. What else could they possibly have time for? Tentative GoF script: "Ooo, see the big quiddich game? Ooo, look at Moody's creepy eye.. ooo! that goblet is on fire. Lookit the pretty dragon! Harry is swimming with mermaids. Woah, how did Harry get here? not important, dodge all the bad guy's wands! wow, safe back at home." End of script.
***-- Cruikshanks. Hermione purchases Cruikshanks as a familiar at Diagon Alley. Cruikshanks doesn't like scabbers, and this is supposed to make some serious friction between Ron and Hermione. When scabbers appears to get eaten, it is supposed to look very very much that way, bloody messes and all. Ron is supposed to be Royally Pissed, and Hermione is supposed to be unnervingly sided to her cat, so as Ron and Hermione have a barkingly serious wedge between them. I feel this is a very serious and important part of their character development. The trivial spat they had on film was such a waste of time that there might as well have not been a cruikshanks or a spat.
*---- Speaking of familiars, when is Ron supposed to get Pidwidgeon? I would rather see Pidwidgeon than the monster book, she is much more cuter. :)
***-- Scene with Goofy Candy. Would have been appropriate in conjunction with hogsmeade, honeydukes, or Zonko's. Otherwise, brilliant waste of time and confuses the pace.
*---- Mirrors and flopping. Robert Zemeckis likes to push cameras through glass and through mirrors. He does it about a half a dozen times in Contact. Cuarón does it about a half a dozent times in this movie too, and it's not too bad, though it's a bit clumsily placed sometimes. One thing I noticed is that after pushing through the mirror on the bogart closet in Lupin's class the final time, as the scene closed, he pushed into the mirror instead of out of it. This has the unfortunate effect of flopping the image.. you're left in the room with the characters, but all of them are backwards and Harry's scar is on the wrong side of his head. I probably only chafe at this one because I'm a part-time journalist and you simply do *not* flop images in a news paper. It's bad mojo :)
***** Trelawny. She had a class. She talked quickly and clumsily. When she told Harry about the Grim, it's not even certain if she saw it in his cup, or was electrocuted by the table: there was no "examination phase" in her acting there. In book/movie 2, Lockheart is supposed to be viewed as a saint to the ladies, and a sap to the guys. Trelawny is supposed to have a similar effect: enrapturing some students with her skills (like Pavil and Lavendar) and convincing the rest that she's full of it. In the film, she just seemed to bewilder everyone uselessly. She pissed off Hermione, who left class, but that seemed to have little effect on the rest of the film's plot. She grunted out a prophecy at Harry in a gravelly voice that nobody in the audience properly heard, and even if they did nobody will remember what she said by next movie when some character can explain what it meant or do anything useful. She was an important aspect of the book, but her only impact on this film was that she tried to spook people about the Grim, and add window dressing to the promotional material ("You must look... BEYOND!"
**--- Malfoy and Buckbeak. In the book, Malfoy did not boldly leave the group to obtain fruit when he should have been listening to how not to be hurt by a hippogriph. He stood right there, listened to the entire disclaimer, and still let his ego cloud his judgement. I think this is important to help place the blame for Malfoy's hubris squarely on Malfoy. In the film's version, you've still got good reason to blame Hagrid, since he didn't notice students were missing during the warnings, and since he ignored the whole class for a quick chat with Harry.
***-- Quiddich Tournament #1. Where in heck did Harry fly to while chasing the snitch? did he leave the arena or was he shooting straight up? It looked to me like he left the arena: he passed dumbledore's spectator stand and went behind it.. but the snitch isn't supposed to go out of bounds (part of it's spell). But then again when he fell, he landed right in the middle of the arena. Perhaps when he doubled back to avoid the dementors he went back in bounds. All the clouds left so little frame of reference that it was a fairly confusing scene. Did Dumbledor's "arresto momentus" spell have any effect on Harry's fall? We're not sure how that played out thanks to another tunnel-vision vignette.
***-- Brooms. Unless you've read the books, or watched the other movies recently enough to recall clearly, you're not going to know what a bummer it is that the Whomping Willow smashed up Harry's nimbus. Since they didn't do any setup in the beginning of the movie about the Firebolt (like they did in the book), the joy of seeing Harry get one at the end of this film feels entirely artificial. If they were so pressed for time they should have skipped trying to bash up the nimbus at all. Once you confirm that the Firebolt is better, and Harry gets one, it's not a big deal what happens to the nimbus. Hell, he could give it away and not impact the plot.
***** Quiddich Tournament #2. The second quiddich game did not make it into the film. I know many critics are glad there is nearly no quiddich in this film, but for god's sake, there is absolutely no quiddich in non-Harry-Potter films! They should feel satisfied, and anyone who doesn't like quiddich should not watch/read Harry Potter. That goes double for everyone who randomly doesn't like castles, or magic, or pointy hats, or ghosts, etc. Perhaps some people feel that you can tell the Harry Potter story without mentioning Quiddich. Sure, you could do that, and you could retell Lord of the Rings without mentioning horses. Quiddich is the only (mentioned) wizarding sport. It brings the entire school together. In the next book it brings the entire world together (Quiddich World Cup). It allows Harry to prove himself to everyone, including himself, because of his wicked flying skizzles. It is also an integral part of the school's politics. For those who have only seen this movie, there are four 'houses' in the school: Slythryn, Gryffendor, HufflePuff, and Ravenclaw. Each house can gain or lose points with good or bad behavior, and in Quiddich games. so they are always competing. Malfoy and his cronies are in Slythryn, and most of slythryn spends most of it's time at odds with most of Gryffendor: Harry's house. The fat lady's painting is the portal into the Gryffendor common room. This film entirely disrespected the idea that there are houses as though it was irrelevant. When Snape said "5 points from gryffendor" in 'defense against dark arts' class, people starting with this film will have went "who is Gryffendor, and how did he get into so much trouble?"
**--- Whomping Willow in seasonal transitions. It was somewhat humourus to see it shrug off leaves, shrug off snow.. but what did it do to those poor birds? I prefer Columbus' seasonal transitions better. He showed how students greeted the new season outside, and worked the camera into the castle. It made you feel like a member of the student body.
***-- Whomping willow throwing hermione around. Horrible waste of special effects on bad slapstick. It took a long time as well, and the kids' blank O-mouthed reactions were difficult to beleive. I can imagine Alfonso forcing them to do that however.. Imagine an actor giving a believable look of shock, and Alfonso steps in: "Cut, cut, no that looked nothing like my favorite mexican cartoon character. Ok, so just clear your face. Now look at me. Good, you look like you're mildly irritated. Hold that expression, now open your mouth into the widest O possible, and look straight into the camera. perfect!"
I was reading slashdot and came across this article / book review about a number called "omega" by it's author.
It's some number that's so big that it can't be talked about, or some such. I think that sounds silly, since talking about it defeats the purpose.
But it reminded me of a math puzzle I invented in College, which is more pedestrian and less of a catch 22.
Imagine the smallest integer that has never been directly expressed by an equation (such as 10^100^100 = google-plex) or written out or refered to explicitly even by a computer. That's a much more timid feat than "irreductability" or whatever the article mentioned, as the number in question probably *can* be easily expressed, even written out in decimal form.. it just never has had the honor so far.
Of course finding such a number and writing it out, or refering to it with an equation would be futile, as you would ruin it by definition, but all I am interested in is.. how many digits would such a number have?
So I got tired of saying "such a number" all the time, and decided that the number must exist and I'd name it. I call it Bob. Furthermore, the number of digits Bob has would be called Lbob. The goal of the puzzle is to determine the exact value for Lbob; or as exact as you can.
One thing I have been able to determine is that Lbob itself almost certainly has 2 digits (eg, LLbob = 2) and I've made some reasonable guesses at upper and lower bounds for Lbob. I'll let you lot weigh in with your thoughts on the subject.
Finally, I figure that if I can't get the government to fund my Lbob research, I might seek corporate sponsership with Enzyte.
Ok scratch that, after reading that link I just posted, I guess that real gyrocopter wasn't a two-seater. But I do know they make two-seaters and I want one :) I saw it on Oregon Field Guide. It is bigger and not an ultra-light class, so I'd probably need a pilot's license.. but I could do with one of those anyhow. And a real vert-lift / hover system would be nice to. They have those in ramjet and drive train varieties. I'd probably use a drive train and screw stable hovering, less messy that way.
Gyrocopters are wonders of aviation. A gyrocopter is kept aloft by it's main propellor, which spins above you like in a helicopter, except that the propeller is attached to nothing whatsoever. It's just there, it spins, and you stay aloft as a result.
What keeps it spinning is the air that passes across it. There is another, smaller prop that you use to acheive forward momentum. Your main prop is tilted back quite a bit, so moving forward causes wind to pass through your main prop. The wind spins the prop, which creates it's own downdraft. The downdraft generates lift, and you're airborne.. with significantly less runway than you would require with even the smallest airplanes.
So... in a gyro, moving makes you float. Not moving forward at ridiculous speeds like in an airplane (watch out for that mountain!), but moving in virtually any direction at any speed. Moving makes you float. So, what happens if for any reason (such as engine failure) you aren't moving? Well, from midair, you would begin to fall. But, falling is moving so you would also float. EG, so long as the main prop (unencumbered by complex drive trains) is capable of freely spinning around, it is virtually impossible for your craft to fall from the sky. You may drift gently from the sky, but that is a Good Thing.
Gyrocopters are capable of traveling at much slower velocities than airplanes of any size. Down to 15 mph without changing altitude. On a standard gyro there is no way to hover stock still as with a helicopter, but there are ram-jet and simple drive train add-ons that allow hovering for short times (and also perfect vertical take offs). A properly built/equipped gyrocopter can also travel much faster than a helicopter, given that a gyrocopter's ability to stay aloft and to travel forward are aerodynamicly compatable with one another, while a helicopter's ability to move laterally works against it's ability to stay afloat.
Helicopters use a drive train to power their main rotor. This obvious technique for making something spin has an inobvious consequence.. when the chopper applies torque to the rotor to rotate it in one direction, it is working against the rotor's inertia and motivating the chassis to rotate in the opposite direction. Therefor choppers employ a second prop on their tails, which allows them to control which direction they face in. This prop is usually working pretty hard to prevent the chassis from spinning counterwise of the main prop, which takes at least 30% of the chopper's energy output. Horribly inefficient! Choppers are gas guzzlers in comparison to gyros, but their aerobatic talents of hovering for hours at a time, tricky vertical takeoffs and landings, and cornering on a dime give it all the attention.
Gyro's are not able to turn on a dime, but they are much more maneuverable than airplanes.. and in many ways much safer. They are competitive with small airplanes in fuel efficiency, so they can be great for travel. "Can be" means that they lack market representation, so most models available are single-seater hobbykits, while the form factor is totally capable of all the luxury and stability of a lear-jet. They travel at lower speeds (up to 120 or 150 for most of the erecter set models) but cost spectacularily less to build, purchase, and/or maintain then a similar quality airplane, and have the same fuel efficiency.
I want one so that I can do some landscape photography while puttering around at a lazy 15mph from whatever vantage point I desire suspended in the sky. :) It would be great to print in the papers.. aerial photos of festivals, aerial photos of traffic snafus, sunsets and snow on bachelor, various photos in the vicinity of (but not actually very *near* :) wildfires in the summer, all on demand. Flying a plane around and taking photos costs much more, since it has to circle at hundreds of miles an hour or make strafing runs. Gyros meet planes' fuel efficiency at the miles per gallon level, but have to travel orders of magnitude fewer miles in order to do work like that.
Besides it all, my ability to proactively perceive my surroundings is very two dimentional. When I dream, I can't fly. I can't fly because my brain can't decide what my environment would look like any more: it has no frame of reference. So if/whenever it tries, everything looks fake and the dream comes apart. Sometimes I'll dream of flying and it all looks like a late generation console game. I'll "fly" around levels in quake or Mario 64.. but it's not the same. I want to train my brain about what familiar things look like when you are flying above them. What the clouds look like when you are flying among them. I've been in a commercial airplane about a dozen times, but I'd like to be able to answer a whim like "I wonder what that would look like if I went higher" by going higher and seeing. "I wonder what that thing would look like if it weren't so far away, from this other angle" so I go there and check it out. That and only that will reveal to me the three-dimentional nature of this kooky world we live in.
If I ever get a two seater I will freely offer any brave souls rides around to wherever, and to see and look at whatever. I will give photographer's rides so they can photograph things from aloft. I'll have to find photographers willing to fly A> in a gyrocopter, B> that I am piloting.. but something tells me that I will one day come across such a ridiculous daredevil. :)
Back in 1995, when the Web was young, in the days of venerable Netscape 1.0, when COCC had about 200 computers connected to the internet through a single 56k switched ISDN line, I made ascii art. It was one of the few things that made me famous in my important circles of telnet chat buddies over about a dozen EW-too based talkers; the administrators of which would often rewrite bits of C code in the talkers just to let me chain together virtual rooms into ascii art galleries, easily accessable from the main rooms. I made the login screen for the largest and most popular talker, which remains it's login screen to this day. (Fox has asked me to update it and I have yet to come up with any brilliant ideas :)
I made dozens of works in 1995, only a few of which I still have copies of. I've only made a handful sinc
Rio sysadmin Vince Valenti dropped this one on me today (though I know I've skimmed past it somewhere on Wired or Slashdot, something like "Microsoft and Yahoo join forces to kill spam" but I can't find it now). There is a new DNS based email source-verification system that should put an end to Spammers being able to forge the envelope-from address of their email, thus providing accounability to the email universe and inevitably putting an end to spam.
Mmmm, less spam! :)
Yep, I'm still BREWING up my Azkaban review (Brewing? gettit? BREEEWING? haha) so you'll just have to wait.
Meantime, I figured I'd beat all the other slashdot wannabe's around here with a news update :) Since nobody reads mah blog it may not matter.. but the reason our BendCable kept fluxuation yesserday may have something to do with a rude guest from the midwest.
So aside from Geekiness, the 80's, and portable games I've come to the conclusion that the other thing that I tend to obsess about is Parodies. Weird Al Yankovic, for instance, was a god for parodying 80's music during the 80's. His album parodying Nirvana's "Smells like teen spirit" outsold the original, and then Kurt snuffed it. He owned an accordian and used it with extreme prejudice.
Since the 80's the accordian-toting parody torch has been passed to They Might Be Giants, who have recently done a bunch of backup numbers for Homestarrunner.com, and it looks like they might get married. Homestar sells over a million T-shirts a year parodying the 80's, from atari games to anime to GI Joe to Breakfast Cereal.
Flipsiders are portable games which parody audiocassetes, the choice media for pervaying music in the 80's.
So what could be a geekier parody from the 80's than this?
That's right folks, it's a music video parody of 1980's rock group Twisted Sister, played on geeky 1980's math-skit-parody show Square One TV. I think that RegE Cathy does a wonderful job sounding like Christopher Judge for no apparent reason in this one. Why can't any of the seven get acting work any more? Cripes.
Oh, and as an afterthought I've underlines all the appropriate adjectives in this post so that they don't go unnoticed, thanks. :)
I got the board game Risk for my wife for her birthday. She's always been fond of RiskIt and Winrisk/TurboRisk, but when we began to play the board game we realized that the tiny army peices are such a PITA to deal with that we quickly gave up. You have to keep trading in different denominations, they fall over and get lost in between countries when you roll the dice, argh!
What say ye, yon blogging community? Has the board version of the game pretty much run it's course?