Thursday, July 28, 2005

It Builds Character...

This story is enough to turn your stomach. A coach offers one of his players $25 to hit his disabled teammate in the head. Apparently the disabled boy wasn't a good player. The coach wanted him out of the game. I'm thinking those are the wrong kind lessons to be teaching the young'ns.

My Last Booksigning...

My last day of book signings is this Saturday. I'll be down in Utah County at the following locations.

30-Jul - American Fork- Seagull 10:30a-12p
30-Jul - North Orem - Seagull 12:30p-2p
30-Jul - South Orem - Seagull 3p-4:30p

I have enjoyed the booksignings, if for no other reason than to have had the experience. I don't sell a lot of books, and I don't really meet anybody (nobody talks to me, I suspect it's the beard), but stangely enough it's still been fun. The best part is when people I know have heard about the signings and come in to see me. I've had some family come in and some friends...

Anyway, it will also be nice to be done. I've been doing these things for 6 weeks straight now, and the lawn is really looking like it should be mowed.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Dear Senator Clinton...

An excellent letter to Senator Clinton can be found over at the LA Times. It really is a good read. I'll quote several of my favorite sections here, just in case your clicking finger is tired.

"If the alternative to playing "Halo 2" is reading "The Portrait of a Lady," then of course "The Portrait of a Lady" is better for you. But it's not as though kids have been reading Henry James for 100 years and then suddenly dropped him for Pokemon.

"Parents can play this at home: Try a few rounds of Monopoly or Go Fish with your kids, and see who wins. I suspect most families will find that it's a relatively even match. Then sit down and try to play "Halo 2" with the kids. You'll be lucky if you survive 10 minutes.

"[It] is not merely a question of hand-eye coordination; most of today's games force kids to learn complex rule systems, master challenging new interfaces, follow dozens of shifting variables in real time and prioritize between multiple objectives. In short, precisely the sorts of skills that they're going to need in the digital workplace of tomorrow.

"Which activity challenges the mind more — sitting around rooting for the Packers, or managing an entire football franchise through a season of "Madden 2005": calling plays, setting lineups, trading players and negotiating contracts?

"The last 10 years have seen the release of many popular violent games, including "Quake" and "Grand Theft Auto"; that period has also seen the most dramatic drop in violent crime in recent memory.

"Of course, I admit that there's one charge against video games that is a slam dunk. Kids don't get physical exercise when they play a video game, and indeed the rise in obesity among younger people is a serious issue. But, of course, you don't get exercise from doing homework either.

P2P Users Not Evil?

Can it be true? Those who use P2P services are also spend four and a half times more money on legal downloads than those who do not use P2P services. Granted, a lot of that is probably because those using the legal downloads are tech savy, but still. It looks like people are trying before they are buying.

From the article:

"There's a myth that all illegal downloaders are mercenaries hell-bent on breaking the law in pursuit of free music."

In reality hardcore fans "are extremely enthusiastic" about paid-for services, as long as they are suitably compelling."

Monday, July 25, 2005

Ads in Games

I'm fine with them putting ads in my video games, as long as they give me the games for free... I'm not about to pay $50 for comercials.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

No More Sun Bathing For Me

I just found my house on MSN's answer to Google Maps.

This is as close as I can get to my house on Google Maps.

Clearly Microsoft has a better picture of my back yard, but is that a good thing?

Thursday, July 21, 2005


My mom (mum) and dad (dad) are visiting London this week and next... So this story wasn't exactly welcome news. But apparently there are no casualties, so that is good.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Google Maps

If you haven't used Google Maps yet, you really should give it a try. It's a great tool, and it's open source so you can do all sorts of fun things with it.

If you have used google maps, and think you've been everywhere, then head on over here and check out the latest space Google has gone.

And make sure to zoom all the way in. :)

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Creative Commons

So I just read an article by John Dvorak. The title is "Creative Commons Humbug", but it might just as well be, "I'm clueless and snarky".

I had a nice post all thought out in which I make fun of little John, but the Slashdotters are doing a much better job of it that I could. My personal favorite:

"Looks like I need to add another quote to my long standing list of jack-assery from Dvorak:

1998 Folks, the Mac platform is through - totally.
1990 I think Windows 3.0 will get a lot of attention; people will check it out, and before long they'll all drift back to... DOS.
1986 UNIX is dead, but no one bothered to claim the body.
1984 The Macintosh uses an experimental pointing device called a mouse. There is no evidence that people want to use these things.
- John Dvorak"

Monday, July 18, 2005

The Belly Laugh

So I was driving down to SLC to do another book signing (didn't sell any books, but I saw my cousin Kristy, so the trip was worth it). Saturday radio is almost as exciting as collecting early French tin foil. There are the travel shows which are bad. There are the garden shows which are worse. But perhaps the more pitiful of all are the car shows. I don't think I could find any subject less interesting that people talking about fixing cars...

So why, after listening to the news, did I turn my dial to NPR hoping beyond hope that Tom and Ray Magliozzi were on? And why did I break out in a smile when I found out that for my entire drive I could sit and listen to them talk about fixing cars?

Because they are the masters of the belly laugh.

Car Talk is a funny program, and Tom and Ray are funny guys, but they aren't especially funny. I can think of many different programs, books, or people who are much funnier. But I rarely laugh as long or as hard as when I'm listening to these guys. I break out in laughter at least 5 times during the show because they have broken out in laughter.

One lady called in, and one of the brothers made a funny comment. The other brother broke out into a great big belly laugh. I could hear him pounding on a table. After a few seconds, I could hear him pounding on a table, he was laughing so hard. He couldn't stop. I couldn't even remember what had been said, but suddenly I couldn't stop laughing. The caller started laughing. Both brothers are still laughing. And in my mind, I can picture them doing the belly laugh.

A belly laugh is one where your whole front side just starts a twitching, jerking, and (if you've got the extra spare tire), jiggling. When you see somebody engaged in a good belly laugh, unable to stop, you can't help but join in. Tears usually follow a belly laugh that goes on for more than 10 seconds. You usually have so much energy you have to slap a knee, or a table, or the back of somebody near you. It is just a happy, happy time in life, and you almost never belly laugh alone. It is something that has to be shared and is highly contagious.

So, treat yourself to a good belly laugh today. It's fun, it's good for you, and if you are lucky enough to belly laugh until you acheive the coveted snort, then by golly, count yourself lucky.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

This is always nice to see...

Cory Doctorow is releasing his book online for free, the same day it is being 'published'.

On his site he gives the reasons why, as well as a great quote from Woody Guthrie:

"This song is Copyrighted in U.S., under Seal of Copyright #154085, for a period of 28 years, and anybody caught singin it without our permission, will be mighty good friends of ourn, cause we don't give a dern. Publish it. Write it. Sing it. Swing to it. Yodel it. We wrote it, that's all we wanted to do."

I'm About to Commit a Crime...

An Australian man has beed found guilty of a crime involving free mp3s. He wasn't making them available to others, rather he linked to a page that was making them available to others. I guess you need to be careful what you link to. From the article:

Although Cooper didn't host pirated recordings per se, the court found he breached the law by creating hyperlinks to sites that had infringing sound recordings.

So, here we go... I'm taking the step into the underworld. I'm going to commit a crime.


There you have it. Move along folks, there is nothing more to see here.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Another Merit of Video Games

When I was younger we had to turn off the nintendo when mom told us to because video games were a waste of time. Back then we didn't have research that showed that maybe the opposite was true.

But now there is yet another reason why kids should be playing video games.

So, all you young'ns out there. When your mother or father tells you to turn off the video game, just say, "But Mom/Dad, I'm looking for bad guys."

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Post Terror in London

So, after the attacks in London, are the British afraid?

I'm thinking not...

Sunday, July 03, 2005

The Timer

So I was watching Broken Arrow on TV the other night and they had the 'ticking bomb'. You know what I'm talking about, the LED screen that is counting down, and when it reaches 0, the bomb explodes. I started to think about what numbers the bombs always stop at. I've got a few thoughts on the matter, and think that somebody should do a research study on the topic.

1 is a popular number. This is taking things right to the edge. You can't get any closer without going 'boom'. However, it's also pretty unrealistic. Come on now, you stopped it right at one? Seriously, what are the chances of that? If the bomb stops at 1, you're probably watching a Disney movie.

2 is too close to 1. Why pick two? If you're going to go right up to 2, you may as well go to one. 2 is a silly number to stop at.

3 is another great number. It's not right at 1 (1 is kind of unbelevable), but it's not the sillyness of 2 either. It's belevable and not so Disneyish.

4 is right out. 4 means nothing. Why go to four? If you're going to 4, you may as well go to the more preferable 3.

5 is too convieniet, it's half of 10, so you can never stop on five.

6 is too close to 5.

7 is a good number. Not too close to any 'bad' numbers. It is a close call, but much more realistic than 1, or even three.

8 is too close to 7

9 is too close to 10

10 is an even number, and a base number. 10 is right out. 10 is just silly.

11, surprisingly is the last 'good' number. It's out of the single digit number, but still makes sense. It's one away from being in the final countdown.

Anything past 11 is just confusing. Why did the bomb stop at 13? There are movies where a good 10 minutes of film transpires while the bomb clicks down 13 seconds. 11 is the last number that makes sense.

So there you have it. 1, 3, 7, and 11. If you're ever making a move with a ticking bomb, those are the ones you should choose.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Is Hollywood Finally Getting It?

So I'm probably the last person on earth to realize it, but Freaks and Geeks is a very fine show.

I just checked out the first disk on DVD and I'm almost tempted to renew my MVP membership, just so I can watch more.

The series debuted in 1999, was met with wide critical acclaim, and was promptly canceled. I hadn't heard of it until it was canceled, so I didn't bother watching it. Now I wish I had. It's very good.

But we're in a new age, now. TV shows are coming out on DVD. I've picked up several new 'favorite' shows, not by tuning in, but by renting.

Battlestar Galactica, which apparently is doing very well, owes much of it's success to the fact that the SciFi channel puts their episodes up on the Internet. So if you missed the first few, not to worry, download them, get hooked, and then come watch the rest.

There was an interesting article I just read that describes a very popular show that was never shown on TV. It was leaked to the Internet and now there is a cult following, demanding DVDs, or episodes, or something.

Hollywood needs to adapt. Movie attendance is down. DVD sales would be down but have been saved by TV DVD sales. New models need to be developed that embrace new technology, not fight it.

July 5th Update: The new models are already here... Fox's new show, Over There will be out on DVD 1 week after its premiere.

Flying Projectiles of Paint, Oh My!

So, I played paintball this morning. It was quite enjoyable. It reminded me of the first time I played, and the experienced players put all of us newbies on one team, then we played shirts and skins. You've never heard so much whining, or seen so many welts in one place.

But paintball is fun. The strategy I've adopted is the flanking strategy. You can read about why flanking is such a crucial aspect of war, but you won't really appreciate it until you've been there. If you're flanked in paintball, about the only strategy is to run like the dickens. And if you've ever flanked somebody else... Well, it's a beautiful thing.

For me, it's fun to move to an extreme flank, and then press forward. I watch for players on the other team, and then move to a spot where I know I will have a good shot. I wait for a bit, then jump up and POW, it's all over in about two shots. On a good day, I use less than 50 balls, and have as many people surrender to me as I do actually hit. Surrendering is a mercy action. If you are within 10 feet of somebody, the paint can really sting. So you ask if they want to surrender. If they look thoughtful, or move their gun, you open fire.

Anyway, I spent about 3 bucks on paint. 3 bucks on air, and had a wonderful, wonderful time.