Old News: December 22, 2003 to January 7, 2004

4:12 a.m. [GMT-8:00]
7 Jan. 2004 (Wed); Post #433
Update: Okay, I finally found what I was looking for on Amazon.de (you have to type that umlauted u... ALT+129, FYI) and ordered it with the help of Mill from the Anandtech Off-Topic forum. Gah, ordering things in a foreign language isn't easy. Especially with Amazon... they put big blocks of text everywhere. Thank god for Dictionary.com's translator. Anyway, in a few weeks I should have my Blümchen CDs and DVD, hopefully. Oy, I'm going to bed (well, after I get food for the dogs and walk them and feed the cat...). BTW, CBC is closed tomorrow.

2:03 a.m. [GMT-8:00]
7 Jan. 2004 (Wed); Post #432
Well, Charter just went down. Apparently they're having outages in Washington and Oregon due to "severe storm conditions." Arrrgh. It's still snowing outside, albeit less intensely. See, I would have preferred to use a better word than "intensely" there, but I can't because freaking Charter won't let me get to Dictionary.com's thesaurus. Stupid Charter and their inability to handle "sever storm conditions." [Grumble grumble.]

Found this interesting guide to electronic music (it's an 11 meg ZIPped Flash EXE). It details like 50 different varieties... I never knew there were so many. I actually kinda liked some of them, like Garage, Speed Garage, Epic House, Club House, Anthem Trance, IDM Trance, Electro Breakbeat, Turntablism, and Trancecore. My favorite is this genre called "Happy Hardcore." It's really poppy. The author, Ishkur, calls it music for "candy ravers." I dunno. But it turned me on to this group I really like called Blümchen. If you think you might be into it, check out their songs "Verrückte Jungs" and "Heut ist Mein Tag." Good stuff.

Hey it's 2:21 a.m. and my internet access just came back! Huzzah! In celebration, here's a picture of a Blümchen CD cover. Apparently they (she) released a DVD of their (her) videos in 1998. Been trying to find it, but no luck so far. German eBay and German Amazon don't have it.

Blumchen CD cover.

5:56 p.m. [GMT-8:00]
6 Jan. 2004 (Tue); Post #431
It's really snowing outside. I think it's been snowing since this morning. Really coming down too. At least it's warmed up some... 10° F now.

I can finally post on the Transhuman Space Yahoo eGroup! Jeez, took 'em long enough to fix that. Apparently Yahoo was having problems with some of the larger groups; couldn't post via web or e-mail. Anyway, I posted this:
Date: Tue Jan 6, 2004 5:02 pm
OT: Mars Pic from Spirit Rover

Don't know if any of you have seen this yet, I thought it was really cool:

13 megapixel color image from the Mars rover, Spirit.


(BTW, it's 9 megabytes... sorry dialuppers :)

BTW, I made a kinda cool desktop background out of that image. Here're some diff sizes if anyone wants to use it:
1280 x 960
218 kB
1024 x 768
140 kB
800 x 600
92.3 kB

All the evening CBC classes were canceled (everything after 3:00 pm). I was s'posed to have three orientation meetings today for my online classes. In the first one, with Mr. Winn, no one showed up, including Mr. Winn. It was a little weird since there wasn't a "blankety blank is Absent" sign on the door and the meeting's supposed to be mandatory. Even checked the online schedule. For the second one, no one showed up again, but it turned out Ms. Dehaan was in her office and had just forgotten about it. One other student showed up just as she finished explaining the syllabus to me. Then of course the last one was canceled. Dunno why nobody came to these... I guess most ppl just skip them? Oh well. Still need to buy books.

Thinking about trying to join Kim Foster's PBeM THS game. Eric's seems to still need ppl. Iono, I should ask him about it. Been thumbing through THS: Under Pressure. Europa seems like a more interesting environment than I thought it was; I'd kinda discounted anywhere in the "deep beyond" (the part of the solar system beyond Mars orbit) as a viable setting.

Part way through redesigning my BESM character. Realized there were some minor bonuses we weren't taking into account during combat. I have high hopes for the campaign; seems like it'll changing into a space opera/ sci fi genre, which should be fun. Don't think I've ever been in a futuristic campaign as a player before.

9:42 p.m. [GMT-8:00]
5 Jan. 2004 (Mon); Post #430
Jeebus it's cold. Registered for four CBC classes. Some nice lady gave me some towels and home made jellies. Had ham, apple sauce, and rice pilaf with peas for dinner. Very good. Downloaded Once Upon a Time in Mexico, now BitTorrenting The Last Samurai. Gonna put an extra blanket on my bed tonight.

Had a blackout last night/ this morning. It happened at 4:46 am (I know because the alarm on the UPS in my room started going off) and lasted till ~6:45 am. Drew, on Road 96, experienced it too but his lasted until after 9:00 am. All the computers are fine. My digital clocks are all messed up though. Argh. Oh well, I tend to use my cell phone for all my alarms now anyway.

11:48 p.m. [GMT-8:00]
4 Jan. 2004 (Sun); Post #429
OMFG it's cold out. -16° F. And it's really foggy out... I can't even see the lights of the houses across the street. My dogs have been in since 7:00; corgis do well in cold weather, but this is like ninth-circle-of-hell cold.

OATUS, earlier today I did computer stuff for a couple down the street. Going to upgrade their primary system (the hardware and OS are from last century after all) and set up a network in their house.

Ryan GMed his BESM game on Saturday. Justin joined our group as a weird alien with a spaceship. We ended up having to eliminate the highschool principal (whom we'd been blackmailing) and his two thugs after they poisoned and beat us. Anyway, turned out Justin's character was on Earth to hunt an escaped shapeshifter.

At the beginning, we thought we had a week to find the thing before it began reproducing (BTW, they eat people and absorb their memories and abilities). Turned out we were wrong; after a couple hours of play, the revelation was made that most of the ppl at our school had been replaced by doppelgängers (meaning the thing had already reproduced). Incidentally, in BESM, these creatures have more hit points than a skyscraper.

So, knowing that these creatures could have potentially spread to every continent on the planet and that we'd have no way to test everyone in the world, we took off in the spaceship. Oh yeah, and Justin's character revealed that all of us were actually part "Tosk" (the alien race that sent him) and that's (presumably) why we have special powers, not that we were the only ones on Earth.

Well, gotta walk and feed the dogs, then I'm gonna brush up on the BESM rules and go to sleep. Getting up early tomorrow.

The Spirit rover landed on Mars! This is one of the photos it took, though it's artificially colored.

5:25 a.m. [GMT-8:00]
3 Jan. 2004 (Sat); Post #428
Just stumbled across this web site: Things My Girlfriend and I Have Argued About. Really hilarious... the guy who made it writes very well.

I don't have anything to read and it sucks. Been poring over Transhuman Space sourcebooks, but it's not the same.

Want to play WC3:TFT. Need to dig out my disc. Tried playing Alpha Centauri earlier, but I just couldn't get into it. Anyway, I'm going to bed now.

Oh yeah, Justin's back from California. Prolly try and do something tomorrow. I think Ryan might be GMing his BESM game. Here's a picture of something weird.

I don't know.

7:35 p.m. [GMT-8:00]
1 Jan. 2004 (Thu); Post #427
It's 2004! I can't believe how much snow there is now... there must be like a foot of it outside. BTW, a new Planetes episode is out [torrent link: Anime Empire's Planetes #10 sub, 18 kB].

Still need new hosting for my site... I'm thinking of going with RippleHost. They offer 100 MB storage/ 1GB transfer/mo. for $9.99/year. I have some trepidation about using them however since no one's responded to a pre-sale question I asked in their forums. To me, that means I'll probably have a hard time getting any kind of tech support in the future should I need it. It's still the best thing I've come across thus far... other hosts I've looked at either don't offer enough space or charge more than I want to pay (most plans seem to run $3.95/mo. for what I need; that's ~$48/yr., compared to the $12/yr. I had been paying).

Anyway. Backgammon is really fun. We had a little party here last night... JD, Drew, Brittany (Drew's SO), Ryan, Paige (Ryan's SO), Phill, and Aaron were here. Later on, some of Aaron's/ JD's friends, Sam, Haley, and Tanya, dropped by for a little while. Oh, and Sheree was here for a little while too. Food, games, palavering, etc., it was fun.

Been adding programs to Eir bit by bit. Need to throw a video card in there, even if it's a little 32 MB thing; you can see the system drag a little when doing stuff with ObjectDock and Winamp 5. Looking into 802.11b cards/ USB dongles.

Just ordered Wetware (sequel to Software) on Amazon for $4.95. Should be here in 4-14 days.

It has been snowing a lot.
A lot of snow. Compare to the previous two posts.

11:01 p.m. [GMT-8:00]
29 Dec. 2003 (Mon); Post #426
Lotsa snow. According to weather.com, it's 8° Fahrenheit outside right now. Finally changed the headlight in my Explorer with my dad's help. Everything's packed really tightly together under that hood. Had to remove a cover, the battery, and this hook thingy. Anyway. Picked up my chessboard table while I was up at the shop (pic below).

Got some bad news about my hosting service. The site was down earlier today (along with the hjo3.net mail server), so I contacted the comic-host guy. He replied with:
Emails went out a month ago to my clients regarding the hosting service coming to an end at the end of the month and to back up your stuff. I will see what is happening with the servers. Refunds will be issued with regards to the remaining balances.
Of course, I didn't get any e-mail, but that's prolly 'cause Hotmail's filter caught it (most everything addressed to multiple ppl ends up in the Junk mail folder). Arrgh, I hate having to find new hosting... Comic-Host was an awesome deal: 100 MB storage + 3 GB transfers/mo. for $1 per month. I dunno, I guess I could go with 1and1.com (free 500 MB + 5 GB for 3 yrs.), but I don't like the stuff in their Terms & Conditions, i.e.:
3.3. Domain Names may be registered by 1&1 on your behalf through a variety of Domain Name Registration Services (each a "Registrar"). Each Registrar has its own terms and conditions concerning the registration and maintenance of domain names and you agree to be bound thereby.
Plus there's some ambiguous stuff about how they can insert advertisements anywhere they want and they can start charging you money with only 30 days notice at any time.

Anyway, Phill's here; we're gonna play backgammon (acey-deucey rules). Finished Probability Space last night... really good ending, but [spoiler warning] nothing's revealed about the origins of the tunnels or any good background on the Fallers (i.e. why they're so xenophobic). The big shocker is that the artifacts are both activated in the same system on setting prime-thirteen and it doesn't destroy spacetime but does cause all the space tunnels to close permanently. Really cool how Kress manages to give us a nice conclusion while still kinda leaving the setting open for future books (frex, a series on the cut-off human colonies or the galaxy in a few hundred years when an FTL drive has been developed and the various human factions can meet once again).

2:44 a.m. [GMT-8:00]
29 Dec. 2003 (Mon); Post #425
It's snowing really hard outside right now. It snowed in the morning on Saturday too. I'm gonna go to bed. Will prolly finish Probability Space tonight. It just took an interesting turn, revealing some stuff about the Fallers. I hope the Fallers (or the precursor artifacts/ tunnels) get explained before the end of the book... I was under the impression there won't be any more books written in this setting, could be wrong. Anyway.


4:58 a.m. [GMT-8:00]
28 Dec. 2003 (Sun); Post #424
Built my shuttle XPC! The heatpipe heatsink was a little wacky to work with (first time I've ever used a shim on a processor), but everything went smoothly. I ended up using the 16x DVD-ROM from the rackmount system (it's the coolest looking DVD drive I've got and it kinda matches that front bezel). Right now I'm installing Win 2K Pro on it. No video card in it yet, just using the built in S3 ProSavage8 video for now. Some quick system stats:
Eir (another Norse goddess)
AMD Athlon XP 2400+
512 MB DDR333 RAM
80 GB Western Digital HD
Shuttle FX41 motherboard
Anyway. My sister's birthday was really good; praline ice cream cake and take-out from Olive Garden (Chicken Marcella with roasted potatoes and peppers, salad, and breadsticks). Got her a DVD set and a CD by Fountains of Wayne (some group she likes). I'm about two-thirds of the way through Probability Space. I can't believe how great it is; much better than the first two books in the trilogy.

Today (well, Saturday) we had a BESM (Big Eyes, Small Mouth) game. Ryan GMed, Phill, Hanwool, and I played. It was pretty fun; we're playing highschool students in the "Tea Ceremony Club" (which is just a cover for us to spend the school's money and do magic stuff). Anyway, we went to a party at a cabin near a peat bog and this fight broke out between some new kid (Dorama) and the student body president, Gomen. Gomen seemed to accidentally kill Dorama, knocking his body into the swamp with a lucky high kick. Well, Dorama showed up at school the next day and injured my character (Kazuhiko) when he asked what happened to him (we'd searched the bog pretty thoroughly, found nothing). After some research, we found out that the peat bog was some kind of haunted/ unholy ground and Dorama had come back as a zombie to seek revenge against his killer. This caused a lot of problems and we basically ended up flying Gomen around (he kept getting maimed by undead-Dorama) while looking for ways to kill the revenant. We managed to do it, but six people ended up dead and we kinda damaged a lot of property indirectly (a few buildings, a dozen cars, the top few floors of a hospital, etc.). Oh, and Gomen ended up with some pretty serious brain damage. It was entertaining, hopefully we'll play again next week.

Well I'm super tired, so I'm going to bed.

Shuttle SK41G computer, assembled.

10:04 p.m. [GMT-8:00]
25 Dec. 2003 (Thu); Post #423
Woo, Xmas! Got a bunch of keen stuff... a Shuttle XPC barebones system (the SK41G), Athlon XP 2400+, 512 MB DDR RAM, WD 80 GB HD, Stephen Hawking's Universe DVD set (and one of his books, The Illustrated Theory of Everything), a universal AC adapter, a MicroPet ("Snot the monster"), 100 CD-Rs, some spoons, four pairs of chopsticks, a soup and cracker set, an illustrated sushi cook book, a knife (with deer-antler handle), three ceramic coin banks, a "lucky cat" statue, some WD-40, forceps, Danish butter cookies, a 9.6v cordless drill, some spices/ toppings, place mats, socks, roll of duct tape, and $100 from my grandpa. Oh, and my parents got me this really nice oak chess/ backgammon table. It's up in my dad's shop, gotta figure out a way to lug it over here without scratching it.

We unwrapped stuff starting at 9:45 am, then had breakfast (French toast, eggs, ham, bacon). I watched the first program of Stephen Hawking's Universe, then took a nap on the couch. No lunch since we had breakfast pretty late. In the evening, I played Settlers of Catan with my mom and grandma (played scrabble against them yesterday—Mom: 149, Grandma: 169, Me: 207). Around 7:30 we had dinner; pork roast with green beans and mushrooms, mashed potatoes, gravy, and crescent rolls. Really good.

I actually managed to finish all my shopping yesterday... the traffic and crowds were murder. Next year I'm gonna mail-order everything December 1st. My sister's birthday is tomorrow (she'll be 19). Gonna go to bed. Will try to finish a couple more chapters of Probability Space before I fall asleep (finished Software, found the hardcover of this at the outlet mall for $7.00).

ASCII art by JGS (1997).

2:08 a.m. [GMT-8:00]
22 Dec. 2003 (Mon); Post #422
Saw Lord of the Rings: Return of the King at the Columbia 8 on Saturday night with Phill and Hanwool. We went to the 11:20 showing. Really, really good. I don't want to spoil it for anyone, so I won't mention the... cool stuff. Only two very minor complaints: the movie's too long to not have an intermission. At the two hour mark, there really should have been some time to stand up. Dunno why they don't do that in movies anymore... you wouldn't think the cinemas would lose too much money if they added five minutes to the length of their 3+ hour showings. Number two: a little too much hobbit love towards the end. Five minutes woulda been fine, I mean, they did basically save the world after all, but it seemed like there was twenty minutes of hugging and crying at the end of the film. We get the point: they're happy/relieved, etc. Still, it's a really trivial grievance; the rest of the movie more than makes up for it. Incredible special effects.

Anyway. On Thursday night, Phill and I were really bored, so we went geocaching. We went out to N 46° 15.567 W 119° 08.652 ("Big Cross," a spot near the airport), but couldn't find the cache (I think we wandered around out there for 45 minutes in the cold, even tried digging a few times). I had begun to believe that somebody had stolen it, but I just checked the online log, and it looks like someone from Yakima accessed it on Saturday. But super-late Friday night, Phill and I tried the "Leslie G. O'Cash II" cache (N 46° 18.997 W 119° 15.597) and actually found it in the rain. Took a magnet and a race car, left a toy dinosaur and an old stick of RAM (16 megs, IIRC). Really neat. We're gonna plant our own cache somewhere prolly. I'll have to get my GPS unit out and figure out how to work it.

Not much else happened. The Forsmans (Sean, Jim, and Kayla) dropped by on Friday night. Talked to them for twenty minutes or so. They were leaving in the morning, so Sean couldn't hang out. My sister came home for Christmas break on Saturday; haven't seen her yet.

Almost done with Software (30 pages from the end). Good book, a too short though. After I finish it, I want to read some recent sci fi. All this stuff from the 50s-80s is starting to agitate me... I'd like to see some material like Transhuman Space, stuff that was written after the internet and powerful computers came around... even Kress's Probability series feels old-fashioned IMHO. I think I'll just go down to Barnes & Noble and pick out something post-1995 that mentions nanotech or robots on the back cover. After that, I'll prolly go back to the -ware series (there's still Wetware, Freeware, and Realware). Need to remember to return The Godwhale to JD. Keep forgetting. Desperately need to go Xmas shopping.

"Early morning cheerfulness can be extremely obnoxious." — William Feather