Old News: January 2, 2003 to January 28, 2003

5:39 a.m. [GMT-8:00]
28 Jan. 2003 (Tue); Post #247
Just finished Hit Man. Really great book. Too bad Block hasn't done any more Keller novels. Doesn't look like he's about to publish another either, according to his web site. I guess I'll start on Lullaby now... then again, I'd kinda like to switch back to Kress's Probability series before going back to mystery (or whatever genre(s) the Block and Palahniuk books fall into).

After seeing some of Protecta's RocketBot images (one pictured below), I really want to get back into modeling. 3D modeling, of course... vectors, polygons, and renderers, not sun tans, teeth-whitening, and speedos. Lest anyone get the wrong idea. I spent an hour trying to install 3DS Max, but it didn't work out. I had to do a ton of legwork (moving INI files, tracking down C-Dilla for Win XP, lots of installing and uninstalling), but in the end I came to a part where my authorization code kept getting rejected when all the readme's insisted it should work. Yes, I deleted the correct DAT, yes, I restarted, yes, I found a compatible version of CDSecure, etc. etc.

Anyway, the only 3D modeling progs I've worked with are Rhinoceros and Bryce 5. I did do some Quake II maps a few years ago... they turned out pretty well. After reading some discussions at 3D-ARK, I'm thinking about trying my hand at Maya. Well, I'm getting tired. Bye.

Protecta's RocketBot. See more at http://protecta.deviantart.com or http://www.protectacrew.de/. (c) Torsten J. P.

8:26 p.m. [GMT-8:00]
27 Jan. 2003 (Mon); Post #246
In Geology, we're doing faults... strike-slip, normal, reverse, thrust... very exciting. Not. Besides, it's all review from Geology 101. This class focuses more on physical processes, mechanical stuff; I've always been more interested in the chemical part (mineral formation and properties, etc.). Anyway.

I was going to talk about book stuff yesterday, but I forgot. I finished Probability Moon. It ended up being a lot better than I thought it would be, but a few elements didn't resolve the way I was hoping they would. [spoiler] "Shared Reality" left World only temporarily; I wanted to see it go permanently and watch the effects as ppl realized they could lie, be hostile towards others, and have different beliefs. Of course, the way it worked out, Worlders could leave the planet and never have "headpain" from reality shifts. Also, I wish Kress had given some follow-up on the war with the Fallers. Did the Terrans just give up on Orbital Object #7's counterpart?

Well, after Kress's book, I started Hit Man, the first in the John Keller series (well, it's only two books, so I guess it's not really a "series" per se). I read Hit List last June while in London/Spain. It was really great. Hit Man may be even better. The style is really fun; even though he's writing about killing people and so on, it feels more like an episode of Seinfeld. It's a kind of quiet, calm, introspective character analysis that's constantly fascinating and never boring. It really reminds me of The Royal Tenenbaums and Rushmore, two of my favorite films. The only complaint I could possibly admit is that the character is the victim of coincidence a little too often to be totally believable. Nothing outside the realm of possibility, but there's a string of incidents which are too serendipitous to be realistic. You really get to like the main character; even though he casually murders ppl, he's polite, sympathetic, etc. Chapter 3 is really fantastic. If you want to see Lawrence Block at his best, IMHO, just read those 36 pages.

Been playing Literati a lot on Yahoo! Games. I've got a 1629 rating... 22 wins, 24 losses. Last night I spelt "heroisms" for 56 points. Beat the guy by about 30 points, though he did really well considering his rating (low 1400s). Been playing around with anagrams lately (started when I played against a guy with the screen-name "fatcigarm" > "a grim fact"). Here're some I came up with for ppl I know:
  • Keith Alan Moore: A lame, tin hooker
  • Phillip Rabideau: A hip pail-builder

Okay, that was pretty dumb, actually. I tried using JD's name (James Davis Scott), but Js really foul me up.

My 4-unit rackmount chassis came in today. It's really spiff. Here's a pic. Today's MP3: Alien Ant Farm - Smooth Criminal.mp3 (3:45)

11:16 p.m. [GMT-8:00]
26 Jan. 2003 (Sun); Post #245
Skipped a few more days than I'd have wanted to, but... oh well. Been GMing a lot of GURPS except for this weekend. A quick update on everyone's situations: Triton, Zephyrus, and Ate (Beefy's little brother) are driving across California to try to get Panakheia (Drew's character) to cure Ephialtes (who's currently brain dead). Why is Ephialtes brain dead?

Well, to summarize: he entered his "Time of Dormancy" (a period following a god's 2nd stage apotheosis in which he/she loses all his or her acquired powers, advantages, skills, etc. that come with godhood, making him or her effectively mortal), got Athena to allow him to stay in her palace until his powers returned, saw Phobos had been captured by thugs he got into fight with (involving Flame Jets and Flight powers on Phobos's end), asked Athena to let him go save his friend, did so, yadda yadda, does something foul in Phobo's hotel room for some reason. Phobos slaps him around (Ephialtes is just a mortal with ST 13 at this point), frightens him with his Aspect power (giving Ephialtes a heart attack), slaps him around some more, leaves. Triton and Zephyrus take Ephialtes to a hospital. Ate figures out that a nurse has been slowly killing Ephialtes right under their noses by injecting dangerous drugs into the port on his catheter. They get him out of the hospital, but he's suffered major brain damage.

As for Phobos: he took off with Araneidia after the whole Ephialtes fiasco. Justin's character, Pandaisia, is in the "Banished Realm." Why? Well, Ephialtes, shortly after entering his Time of Dormancy, wanted to get into Athena's good graces, so he decided to turn Pandaisia in for god-spark destruction (destroying the laurels that serve as a focus/vessel for the powers, skills, memories, etc. of a god). Athena sends out a low-level god with Insubstantiality and Telepathy (Teminia, IIRC) to read Ephialtes's mind (worked because he was basically mortal) and confirm. Pandaisia gets thrown into stasis (a 1,000 cubic foot pocket dimension where you don't need to breathe, eat, or sleep) for two months until a god-council can be called (three gods from each of the three major factions, facilitated by Mystis). They decide to banish him for 2,500 E-years for permanently killing at least four gods. (I had him roll for each god, so his fate was determined by the dice; he could have died.) He spends a day in New Olympus (a public pocket dimension constructed by UMPME to serve as a sort of gate-world), then gets thrown through the portal to Mundus Exoria, an island wasteland (mostly desert with some volcanic activity) floating in space, orbitting a Sol-like sun, and spinning on a 72-hour rotation. Current estimates put time dialation between Earth and Mundus Exoria at about 20:1 (twenty E-seconds for every one M.E. second).

Hanwool... well, he's in holding at the Austin Police Department in the form of a formerly-deceased millionaire oil-executive. Don't ask.

Anyway, ION, Hanwool brought over a Korean anime called My Beautiful Girl, Mari. The director, Sung-Gang Lee (or Seong-Gan Lee, depending on romanization style), is his uncle (Father's side). It's a really nice-looking movie. The animation is very high quality and looks a little more relaistic than Japanese animation (e.g. regular-size eyes). The story itself is a little slow, but not really boring. I found the ending a little unsatisfying. Overall, it was okay. You can find the DVD for sale if you check import DVD shops like hkflix.com or pokerindustries.com. FYI, the Chinese version is around $10 cheaper than the Korean version.

On Friday, I set the 266 MHz e-Machine system up for my parents to use at their house (using 300' of CAT5 to connect to my switch, and thus, cable internet access) and brought the Vaio here, to set up in my room. I backed up some stuff to CD-R, then formatted the system in a single 80-gig NTFS partition. Installed Windows XP, Corporate. It looks very nice... doesn't run badly, either. Did the usual tweaks; removed Messenger, set up my folder views, replaced uxtheme.dll, replaced logonui.exe (I have a kewl Iria login screen), applied a better visual style (OSS by Stafford). Upgraded to Service Pack 1 (had to do some stuff to the key, etc.), found out my old uxtheme.dll file no longer worked. Looked around for a while and finally found a good replacement at Iceman's Emulation Page. For those of you looking for uxtheme.dll (let's you use new Visual Styles in XP without buying anything) file's, here's a couple:

download uxthemepatcher1.zip [16.9 kB]
For Windows XP. Generates a DLL. Instructions included (readme.txt). From TGT Soft.
download uxthemedll_SP1.zip [109 kB]
For Windows XP Service Pack 1. Instructions included (howto.txt; written by yours truly).

Last Sunday or so, this friend of my dad's who works out at Hanford stopped by with a few rackmount cabinets in the back of his truck. He said they were getting rid of them at his job, so he collected them before they went into storage for auction. He gave me one! I don't remember the capacity, but I'd estimate it to be around 30 units. It's really kewl cuz these things usually go for anywhere from $1,200 to $3,000. He had this really neat double-wide one with a built-in air conditioner, but his dad wanted it. Anyway, I went on eBay and got a 4U rackmount chassis and a GA-7DX mobo (can finally build another machine; might have to use the 900's 60-gig HD though). The 4U chassis was $65, the mobo was $26 (a steal, if it works — it was guaranteed not DOA).

Here's a picture of the computer set up in my room. Long post. Uff da... adjø!

The computer setup in my room. 1.7 GHz P4/512 RAM/80 GB HD/4x DVD-R.

2:57 a.m. [GMT-8:00]
20 Jan. 2003 (Mon); Post #244
A couple days ago, I ordered Lullaby: A Novel (Chuck Palahniuk) and Hitman (Lawrence Block) on Amazon through the "Used & New" section. I love that thing... I got Lullaby for $13, when it normally sells for $17.50; got Hitman for 99 cents, new.

Speaking of books, I finished Startide Rising sometime last week. Thursday, I think. It wasn't bad, but I think I'm done with David Brin for a while. He has good characters and interesting settings, aliens, technology, etc., but he takes so long to tell a story and he's really miserly with certain information (never wants to give you the satisfaction of fully understanding Galactic cultures, won't come clean on the specifics of the "Whale Dream," refuses to give the reader anything but the vaguest descriptions of aliens and most technologies). It's like he figures out what you want to know, then tries to keep you reading by hinting that he might tell. Heck, I'm surprised he even let us know [spoiler] that Ktha-Jon was part Orca.

Anyway, I'm reading Nancy Kress's Probability Moon now. It's okay. I'm getting a little fed up with the World inhabitants though... they're these weird creatures that are obsessed with "Reality" and flowers. OMG, every other puler word in the book is "flower." The book is a little less than what I'd expect from Kress in terms of creativity, originality. I still think it's better than Startide Rising though.

On Saturday, on my way back from Psych 306, I picked up some hamburger patties and various ingredients at Safeway... that evening, I made cheeseburgers with the George Foreman grill I got from my grandparents for Christmas. They were extremely good! That grill is amazing. Anyway, the picture below is of the last burger I made (had it about an hour ago). Deilig!

The image on the right is the cover of Lullaby.

1:49 p.m. [GMT-8:00]
15 Jan. 2003 (Wed); Post #243
Just finished watching Fight Club. I'd never seen it before... actually, the movie I thought I downloaded was Jackass (I'm not really proud of that, but Roeper gave it a thumbs-up and the file listing said it was a DVD rip). Anyway, I had never planned on seeing Fight Club cuz it had Brad Pitt and I thought it was just some dumb, summer action/thriller like Mission Impossible 2. I can't stand movies where some hollywood pretty-boy spends an hour beating people up. Of course, it's not like that at all; Fight Club is gritty and ugly, but it has a really clever story in there too.

I was just looking up the IMDb info on the movie, specifically to get the name of the original novel's author (I read an article about a book of his that came out about 6 months or so ago that I wanted to read — seemed like a Lawrence Block-type thing, of whom I'm a fan)... according to this, he was born in Pasco, WA (where I live). A neat coincidence, huh?

Oh, IMDb has this thing where you can search for celebrities based on their birthdate... kinda neat; according to this, I share a birthday with Wilt Chamberlain and Princess Margaret. And Bono married Alison Stewart on my exact birthday (day and year). Woo.

But back to Fight Club; I had this idea for a GURPS game for 2-4 players where you assign characters to each person. [Fight Club spoiler] Of course, except for skills and some ads/disads, they're all playing the same guy. Each player would have to be GM'd in their own session to prevent confusion, but they'd all be playing this one guy at different times... some kind of multiple-personality schizophrenic whose personalities weren't aware of each other. It'd be neat to see his seperate lives start to interfere with the others. Of course, this'd all be pretty timne consuming for the GM and when the players found out, you prolly couldn't run the game for very much longer. Anyway.

Oh, and I told Justin I'd post a picture of his car on my website, so here it is. It's a Ford Contour, but I don't know what year. Um... Shea wanted me to mention that we candled our ears. That was on Sunday. Lately, I've become more skeptical about the process. Ran across this debunking page on Google. Well, later.

8:51 p.m. [GMT-8:00]
13 Jan. 2003 (Mon); Post #242
Hummm. Not a whole lot going on. I started Spring semester classes at WSU-TC today. Geol 322 was incredibly exciting. Well, not really. Anyway. There was a new episode of Futurama last night... Kiff and Leela had tadpoles.

Ran a GURPS game for Hanwool and Shea last night (Hanwool played longer tho). Some neat stuff happened. Ryan and Hanwool are up to session 14 now... Beefy, Justin and Aaron are up to session 11; everyone else is up to session 9 or less.

Been eating a lot of oranges. My mom bought a box of 'em. Oh, and my dad got a new vet truck (an F-250, I think), and my mom got a new Explorer (traded in the Expedition). Um. That's about all I have to say... adjø.

2:02 a.m. [GMT-8:00]
8 Jan. 2003 (Wed); Post #241
Okay, nothing of significance happened today, but I did play some Counter-Strike. Look at the image below. The score's not that great, but look at that ping! 10 ms on a server at the University of Washington (looked up the IP)... I'm beating a couple guys who are at the UW! Anyway, I'm still liking the cable. BTW, the IP of the server I was on is, in case anyone wants to compare... um... pings... or something. Whatever. Later.

3:17 a.m. [GMT-8:00]
7 Jan. 2003 (Tue); Post #240
Nothing much happened today. I've been downloading this ISO on IRC (DALnet), and it's about 60% done. Got disconnected, so I had to re-queue it in slot #27. I really love my cable access. Earlier, Shea and Hanwool, then JD, came over. Played Proteus w/ Shea and beat him mercilessly in a standard game, then again in the Wall Street variant.

I tried playing Quake III: TA on the net, cuz I'd never done it before (28.8 kbps modem, then 400 kbps satellite with very high latency, yadda yadda). Kinda fun. I came in 4th or 5th in a few 10-person matches. Then I played Counter-Strike some; also sort of fun. I won a couple times with a 2:1 ratio (2 kills per 1 death). My last game was a 4 person bout on fy_iceworld; I had a 60/30 score. BTW, if you're new to playing CS on the net (like me), try using GameTiger. JD showed it to me this afternoon.

Been reading David Brin's Startide Rising. Very good. The dolphin uplift culture is really interesting... there's this rift between the Tursiops and the Stenos, plus this thing called the "Whale Dream" that he keeps talking about, but only hints at its nature. I wish Brin would spend more time describing his aliens though. He'll mention that the Soro have three abdomens and whiskers, but rarely gets more specific than that. It's hard to visualize them with so few details. But still, how can you not be fascinated by starships filled with oxywater and a mostly fen (dolphins > fins, plural: fen) crew?

Anyway. Here's a screenshot of my desktop for some reason. Umm. Adjø.

1280 x 1024, JPG, 68.7 kB

11:38 p.m. [GMT-8:00]
5 Jan. 2003 (Sun); Post #239
Oh, happy, glorious day! Rapture! I have a working 1.5 megabit cable connection and a functional DHCP server. It took about 5 hours total, mostly spent making, running, and securing cable (plus a couple snafus with the router and my acct. with Charter)... but now it's done. Phillip came over around 3:30 and helped me a ton. I'll take some pictures tomorrow. For now, you may simply bask in the sumptuousness of my Bandwidth Place speed test results below.

Beefy emailed me his radio script for The Devil and Daniel Webster. Very funny, even if he 'borrowed' a few lines. I'd post a link, but he hasn't put it up on his site yet, AFAIK. Just watched Ebert & Roeper — it was their "Ten Best Films of 2002" episode. Very good; reminds me of a bunch of movies I want to see (Adaptation, About Schmidt, Gangs of New York, and Catch Me If You Can).

I went with my family to see Die Another Day at 8:00 p.m. I was amazed at how much I enjoyed it. I've never sat through and entire Bond movie; usually, they'd be on while I was doing other stuff... they never held my interest really. But this one was fantastic.

Um... here's a tip for those of you with a SpeedStream 2602 2-port Router: the reset button does not work. If you forget your password, you are probably screwed. (Though, I suppose you could always open the box and remove the battery for a while to clear the memory.) Well, adjø!

6:33 p.m. [GMT-8:00]
4 Jan. 2003 (Sat); Post #238
I actually got my cable internet access installed today. Well, mostly. I'll condense the story of my dealings with Charter Cable: Got house surveyed, ppl came, found out they surveyed the wrong house, surveyed the right house, said it couldn't be done unless the lines were extended, yadda yadda, a dozen calls later they say they have no way to extend the lines unless some mythical entity ("the corporation") decides to do it, which will be in October, wait no, November, oh no, never, yadda yadda, I go down to the local office (which you cannot call via the telephone for some reason), talk to one of the "construction guys" who says he'll come look at the house next week (end of December), shows up Jan. 3, I ask if he can just run cable to the pole near the street and I'll take it from there (other ppl had told me this was against regulations), yadda yadda, Jan. 4 I have some coax, bought a cable modem. Uff da.

So, all I have to do now is make and run two CAT5 cables (approx. 355', total) and arrange some water-tight enclosures for the cable modem and router. I started to do it a while ago, but it's extremely dark out near the road, I have no help, and I kept getting torn up by the blackberry bush out there, so I decided to wait till daylight tomorrow. Here's a crudely drawn plan [41.5 kB GIF] for my networking. Basically, it goes: coax > cable modem > ~270' CAT5 > router > ~85' CAT5 > switch.

Anyway. Hoping to do something fun tonight. Maybe BattleTech. I've played a lot of Magic lately (my blue counter-control-decking deck has an amazing record, BTW). Last night, Beefy, Ryan, Phillip, Sheree, and I were really bored, so we went to Denny's (I had hot chocolate and cottage cheese) and Safeway. Earlier, Drew and I had watched most of Moulin Rouge, Jesus Christ Superstar, and Life of Brian. There was a definite lack of excitement. Early this morning, Ryan and I played a few games of Proteus against each other. I think he was trying to lose for the first couple games though. I can't figure out why. I imagine only two possibilities, both very unlikely: (1) he feels sorry for me for some reason, or (2) he's a strategy-game massichist. Weird.

Gonna go see if my mom made any dinner; I think I smelled ribs when i was there a little while ago. My sister's home, so my parents are having good dinners al dentro. Maybe I'll call ppl and see if anyone wants to play Tile Chess or BattleTech. Here's a couple pictures of my room (I moved the bed and the dresser, moved a desk in, etc. etc.). Adjø.

11:49 p.m. [GMT-8:00]
2 Jan. 2003 (Thu); Post #237
My brain is mush. Been GMing GURPS sessions everyday for a week now. Just finished a one-on-one session with Hanwool; he's done 12 now. Aiee. Too much GURPS. At least some stuff has happened — the game has been progressing fairly well. There's a growing feeling that Hekate may move up her timetable for the Subjugation Wars and Athena's been making some odd political maneuvers.

On New Year's Eve, we had a big 8-player BattleTech game (2 lances of 60-tonners against each other). My team (Drew, Hanwool, Jones, and I) won, having destroyed all the enemy mechs except Aaron's, which ran away. Then Beefy and I played yesterday, then Hanwool and I earlier this evening. Here are some 'mechs I made today: Horkos [30.9 kB GIF] (50 tons, ER PPC, Gauss, 2 LRM 5s); Otos [31.1 kB GIF] (55 tons, 2 PPCs, Ultra AC/5, ER M. Laser, AMS). I use "The Drawing Board" to design them. Nice freeware program.

Did a few loads of laundry at my parents' today. Gonna watch some late-night TV and take a shower. Here's a picture of my sister's birthday cake from December 26th. Well, bye.

"I'm thirty years old, but I read at the thirty-four-year-old level." — Dana Carvey