Jun 10

Star Wars and Romans

So I watched Star Wars: Attack of the Clones last night, and in the middle of it I realized that it’s very similar to Rome. How? Let’s see:

  • Near the end, there’s a big fight in a Colosseum. Where people get executed. Now, a lot of that stuff would have been held in the Circus Maximus in Rome, but the Colosseum would have been used as well.
  • The Senate has become increasingly useless.
  • Different factions are vying for power.
  • The Chancellor was granted emergency powers to be a dictator; this is essentially what happened in the Roman Republic. A dictator was appointed in an emergency, and would give up his powers when the emergency was over. As time went on though, the dictators of the Roman Republic became increasingly power-hungry. Thus, the word ‘dictator’ now refers to an oppressive leader, when it was originally a great title.

The same basic things that happened to the Romans happened in Star Wars as well. The Republic crumbled, and then the emperors took over.

Apr 17

Without a Title

A few years ago, a friend of mine gave me a draft of a book to read, called Without a Title. Well, I read it at that point, and let me tell you, it was freaking hilarious. I told my friend to tell me when it was published; he never told me, and I never found it anytime that I searched for it online.

Until the other week.

Yes folks, published two years ago, is Without a Title. Why is this book so hilarious? Well, let me reprint the first few sentences here for your reading pleasure:

Once upon a time in a far off kingdom there lived a beautiful princess who was homicidally insane. She lived in a time that never really existed. It was a time of knights and kings and damsels who caused distress. It was not the accurate historical Middle Ages where half the population walked around with rotting teeth. No, these were the Middle Ages that are featured in animated films with singing forest creatures that appear on lunchboxes in every red brick schoolhouse in suburbia. It was a time in which knights could read, peasants would bathe and the main characters always had perfect hair.

Seriously, how could that not be a great story?

Of course, what I also really love is the large number of puns in the story. Such as Mike Rosoft’s dealings with Mr. Apple. Or perhaps the various… oddball methods of torture. Really. Trust me on this one, it’s hilarious.

All in all, I would give this 5/5 stars. It’s totally hilarious, with a great number of puns and jokes that just make you want to continue on.

Oh, before I forget, here’s the book on Amazon.

Oct 12

Steve Jobs

So, I realize that I haven’t posted anything new here in like four months. But since nobody reads it, who cares?

Anyway, as you know, Steve Jobs of course passed away the other day, and there was a bit of controversy surrounding a remark made by Richard Stallman. Here’s the quote:

Steve Jobs, the pioneer of the computer as a jail made cool, designed to sever fools from their freedom, has died.

As Chicago Mayor Harold Washington said of the corrupt former Mayor Daley, “I’m not glad he’s dead, but I’m glad he’s gone.” Nobody deserves to have to die – not Jobs, not Mr. Bill, not even people guilty of bigger evils than theirs. But we all deserve the end of Jobs’ malign influence on people’s computing.

Unfortunately, that influence continues despite his absence. We can only hope his successors, as they attempt to carry on his legacy, will be less effective.

Now, needless to say, this caused a bit of controversy. In some regards, Stallman has a point here – that Jobs made Apple into such a closed platform that it’s impossible to do stuff. While this is definitely true, on the flip side who needs unnecessary complications in your software? Most people don’t. In that regard, the iPhone/iPod are excellent platforms for software. They’re very simple, which on a small device is exactly what you want. You can’t use a desktop environment easily when you have scrollbars on the side. You don’t have the finesse of a mouse.

This “simplicity is key” design has been dominating Apple products ever since the first iPod. While this is good for most users, what I think that Stallman was getting at was that for the more power users, they don’t have all the options that they want. Let’s take the new Macbooks for example: there are a grand total of two USB ports, and just one button besides the keyboard on it(the batter charge button). It does look very sleek, but I have a hard time using it because the edges are very sharp and cut into my hands/wrists when I am typing. Possibly that’s a good thing, because it would promote better key typing posture, but it’s annoying.

Now, having two UBS ports is perfectly adequate for most people. However, people like me, whom (for lack of a better term) I call “power users” require more than two USB ports at a time. One of my co-worker’s USB ports on his Macbook is broken and only charges. My EEE PC has three USB ports on it, and is about half the size of a Macbook.

So, what’s my point here? I don’t disagree about any particular part of Stallman’s quote, but that perhaps what has been done is at least a step in a right direction. Too often, software has seemingly hundreds of buttons and controls – Apple realized that this was not a good way to use software, as did Microsoft when they came out with Office 2007. The biggest problem is that Apple wants complete control over everything. That’s fundamentally what the problem with Jobs is. He had a vision for simplicity – but he wanted it to be too simple. When you make it too simple, you remove the capability to do more advanced tasks.

This video, from The Onion, sums it up quite nicely.

Jun 12

Site Updates

Oh goody goody, I’ve updated the website! What changes do we have in store right now?

Well, we are now using NBBC to do parsing of BB code and related stuff. This means that the style of the website has changed slightly, but I find that’s acceptable.

I came across NBBC the other week when I was looking for a BBCode parser. I realized that it was rather dumb of me to write my own parser. While it would be cool, it would take a long time and potentially wouldn’t work so well. So, we took something that was already made and then slammed it into the website. So far, so good though. 🙂

May 20

Comments

Holy moley, that’s a lot of comments!

Unfortunately, they’re all spam. On the bright side, adding comments apparently works!

To prove it to you:

mysql> DELETE FROM comments;
Query OK, 311 rows affected (0.12 sec)

Yeah… we’ll be integrating a CAPTCHA system soon, possibly tomorrow.

On the bright side, this website is actually being utilized! Of course, perhaps that’s not such a great thing… Ah well, what are you going to do?

Apr 05

How to: Survive on $20 a week

Okay, so I haven’t updated this in a while. I’ve also been quite bad about not going over my $20 limit. But for all of you out there who care(about three people I believe), I will post a detailed expense report at some point in the future. Today, I will talk about the basic ideas about how you can survive on $20 a week.

First off, I think in terms of one week at a time. Since I am the only person who eats what I buy, it’s very easy to buy a lot of food to feed myself for a week. For example, one week I got a pound of ground beef, sour cream, cheese, shredded lettuce and taco shells to have a taco-themed week. Those supplies lasted the entire week for me, so that way I didn’t have to go out and buy anything new.

Second, grain products. Now, a co-worker of mine has some research that says that wheat is not particularly good for you – he only eats fruits, vegetables, and meat from cows not treated with some chemical that I don’t know the name of. I can’t vouch for any of this because I haven’t read the research, but unfortunately a diet like this is going to be rather expensive. Grain products are much cheaper, and that is how you can keep costs down. I keep a supply of spaghetti and macaroni and cheese handy. I buy a 12-pack of macaroni and cheese so that I will have enough to keep me for a while. Each box of spaghetti has probably about five meals for me, and at $0.79 a box it’s insanely cheep.

Third, buy in bulk when possible. A 12-pack of macaroni and cheese will last you a significant time if you don’t eat much. I don’t buy many perishable items in bulk, because I would never eat them before they went bad. However, I do buy frozen items in bulk, because they will of course keep a long time.

Fourth, buy canned fruits and vegetables. Again, it’s more expensive to get fresh, but I don’t mind the canned fruits. Personally, I can’t stand canned vegetables(I get frozen ones), but canned pears and pineapples are very cheep.

Fifth, DON’T BUY LUNCH! Bring your own. I like to bring a peanut butter sandwich, a small pack of fruit(individual serving size, I have not been able to find a good container that does not leak. It’s more expensive than buying in a tin can, but it doesn’t leak), and some animal crackers. Total cost of this lunch: probably about $2.00. Total cost of a cheap lunch: $5.00. Total cost of a lunch that you would probably get: $8.00. Let’s do the math here:

$2.00 x 5 days a week = $10
$5.00 x 5 days a week = $25
$8.00 x 5 days a week = $40

Yes, it really is that cheap to bring your lunch. It saves a lot of money.

Mar 06

How to: Survive on $20 a week

Today marks the start of a new series on here, how to survive on $20 a week for food. In this, I am going to attempt to survive solely on $20 a week for food. A few things before we get started though:
[list]
[*]I may go over the spending limit some weeks – this is because I, like everybody else, can be lazy and sometimes you just have to go out because of time or whatever. So, this is more of a general guide – I will try to not go out to eat whenever possible.
[*]Each week, I get $20 more to spend on food. Unused balance from the previous weeks roll over.
[*]The first week, I get $40.
[*]This $20 is solely for food – not for other supplies like soap, rent, etc.
[/list]

Anyway, on to the food!

I went to the store earlier today, and got the following items:
[table]
[tr][th]Item[/th][th]Price[/th][/tr]
[tr][td]Bread(small loaf)[/td][td]$0.59[/td][/tr]
[tr][td]Cheddar cheese(16 oz)[/td][td]$3.99[/td][/tr]
[tr][td]Mozzarella cheese(16 oz)[/td][td]$3.99[/td][/tr]
[tr][td]Butter[/td][td]$2.49[/td][/tr]
[tr][td]Milk(1 gal)[/td][td]$1.89[/td][/tr]
[tr][td]Peas(40 oz, frozen)[/td][td]$2.29[/td][/tr]
[tr][td]Instant mashed potatoes(13.75 oz)[/td][td]$1.69[/td][/tr]
[tr][td]Cheddar cheese(16 oz)[/td][td]$3.99[/td][/tr]
[tr][td]Chicken nuggets(26.5 oz, frozen)[/td][td]$3.99[/td][/tr]
[tr][td]Pears(in individual bowls, 16 total)[/td][td]$6.00[/td][/tr]
[tr][td]Peanut butter[/td][td]$1.29[/td][/tr]
[tr][td]Apple Juice(64 oz), 2[/td][td]$3.98[/td][/tr]
[tr][td]Grapes[/td][td]$2.77[/td][/tr]
[tr][td]Animal Crackers(3lb)[/td][td]$4.69[/td][/tr]
[tr][td]Pizza dough[/td][td]$2.29[/td][/tr]
[tr][td]<b>Total:</b>[/td][td]$41.94[/td][/tr]
[/table]

Alright, so I went a little over. The good news though is that some of these are one-off purchases that won’t have to be made for a while. For example, the mashed potatoes I expect to last 4-5 months, which given that I’m only back at school for 3 could prove to be somewhat problematic. As well, the pear bowls that I got should last for about three weeks, as should the peas. The grapes I got because I felt like having some grapes. The cheese is for the pizza dough, I am going to make some tonight. I won’t be using up all of the cheese, but I plan to make tacos next week so I can use the cheese for that.

That’s a start. I’ll post more once I eat some more, and we’ll see where we are at!

Jan 29

SHEER BRILLIANCE

So I just watched The Incredibles because, you know, it’s a Pixar movie. And anything that Pixar makes is awesome. I mean, Pixar could make anything great. But anyways, one of the special features is about a deleted scene. What they were originally going to have was a pilot who flew the plane to the island, instead of Mrs. Incredible. The scene was basically the pilot flying, and then being shot down while the Incredibles escaped, and Dash asks “What about the pilot?”

Now, what would be totally awesome, was if this was a cameo for H. M. Murdock.

Yes. Murdock from The A-Team.

The rest of the movie could stay exactly the same, there’d be no need to change it. But at the end, there’d be a brief scene with all of the A-Team around Murdock in a hospital bed. And then Murdock asks: “So what’s the plan, Hannibal?”

Or something like that.