Archive for October, 2006

the only meme you need

Sunday, October 29th, 2006

What are you? A meme by Elbeno.
Choose wisely and reveal your true self…

    Q1

    1. Paint a picture
    2. Write a song
    3. Run a marathon

    Q2

    1. Louis Armstrong
    2. John Lennon
    3. Britney Spears

    Q3

    1. July 20th, 1969
    2. November 22nd, 1963
    3. June 6th, 1944

Mostly A's: You're the blue face of a Rubik's Cube. Dependable and true, you're the face all right-thinking people start with.
Mostly B's: You're a golden retriever puppy. You're playful and loyal, with a cold wet nose.
Mostly C's: You're that sound a fridge makes. You keep everything working, but nobody notices you until you stop.
No clear winner: You're a mountain lake. A calm exterior belies your hidden monsters.

Halloween is almost here…

Sunday, October 29th, 2006

What should I do?

1. Wear the old Homestar Runner costume of 2003. Homestar seems a bit passe these days.
2. Head to Party City and get whatever dregs they have in my size.
3. Carve a pumpkin, give out candy, dress up mini-Elbeno as a dragon and be done with it. No costume for me!

Propositions 86 & 87

Wednesday, October 25th, 2006

(For the non-Californians: Prop 86 proposes a hefty tax increase on tobacco with 100% of the raised money going to various health concerns, and Prop 87 proposes a $4bn tax on oil companies to fund alternative fuel development. The oil companies are not allowed to pass the tax on to the price at the pump).

Opponents of Prop 86 say that it allocates almost 40% of the money to causes which have nothing to do with reducing smoking. They also say that the raised money will pay for things other than treating smoking related illnesses. This seems to me to miss the point. For a start, no tax is levied purely to pay for things related to that tax. Things just can't work that way.

Secondly, opponents (and perhaps, proponents) miss the fact that just by existing, the tax reduces smoking. Punitive taxes are not in general a good way to raise money, because they are so effective at discouraging the behaviour they are trying to tax. A prime example of this is London's congestion charge. It was so good at deterring motorists from driving into London that only a short while after its introduction, the charge had to be raised from £5 to £8 to achieve the desired income. And there is talk of it rising again soon.

Of course, I'm not eligible to vote. But I hope that Prop 86 passes. California seems to be one of the few places where voters are enlightened enough to bring about real change. In which spirit I also support Prop 87.

I read in The Week that GWB recently invited a bunch of journalists around to the White House and told them to imagine a world in 50 years' time when a) oil was controlled by the US and its interests or b) oil was controlled by interests hostile to the US. As pointed out in the week, this is also missing the point. Far preferable is c) nobody gives a damn who controls the oil because we are no longer dependent on it. And I think Californians have a chance to take a step down that road with Prop 87. We need someone to lead in developing new technology to reduce oil dependence. Once it is economically feasible to follow that path, the world will follow California.

my new ISP

Sunday, October 22nd, 2006

Time Warner Cable takes over Comcast in Socal. So I am being forcibly relocated to Roadrunner. They sent me a letter about it and told me to go to the appropriate site to switch over email etc. I went to the site. It said:

We're sorry, we are unable to proceed with the Activation Wizard until you update your Internet browser. Please click on the link below to download a supported version of Internet Explorer from the Microsoft website. You will need to download Internet Explorer version 5.01 SP2 or higher.

Please re-boot your computer after the browser is downloaded and installed. When the browser installation is complete, you will be able to run the Activation Wizard.

Oh dear. I think they're going to get a customer support call. I tried fiddling my browser's User Agent string, but you would think by now that ISPs should know better than to require downloads of ActiveX controls to run stuff on their webpage.

More appley baked goods

Sunday, October 22nd, 2006

Apple & lemon cake. Also has pecans in it. Not markedly appley, actually, but very nice even so.

apple_lemon_cake

When come back bring pie!

Wednesday, October 18th, 2006

Fruits (haha) of our trip to Oak Glen a couple of weeks ago.

apple pie

apple pie slice

Will the PS3 succeed?

Saturday, October 14th, 2006

Here we are, almost a month from the PS3 launch. And here are my thoughts on the subject.

Sony really seem to be drinking the Kool-Aid. If the PS3 comes out on top, it will be through a miracle of marketing – I think the odds are stacked against it this time around.

The Sony brand really isn’t that strong any more. The PSP is an expensive brick that is lagging behind the DS in gameplay and sales. And Sony these days seems like a really badly led company: see the controller rumble debacle, their continued insistence on trying to lock in proprietary media (MD, memory stick, UMD, and now Blu-Ray), and the music disc rootkit fiasco.

Comparisons to the PS2 launch don’t hold up very well. When the PS2 launched, the PS was a stronger brand, it had no same-generation competition for almost a year, and crucially, it was a cheap DVD player at a time when DVD was taking off. It also had almost no games for 6 months and frankly was lucky it had no competition as a console or a DVD player. Sony hope that people will buy PS3 for the Blu-Ray. Well, DVD over VHS is a much more significant upgrade. Better picture, better lifetime, no rewinding, extra features. BD (or HD-DVD for that matter) over DVD? Not really worth shelling out for until you’re ready to upgrade anyway (not to mention that you need to buy a new TV too).

What about developers? Well, the big revolution in games programming this year is the move to multi-core architectures. This is happening across the board (on PC too). Look ahead to Xmas 2007 and you’ll see games which are similar in architecture on PC and Xbox 360. Dealing with the 360 is dealing with familiar console issues we’ve all dealt with before – care over memory and cache, with the odd PowerPC gotcha to avoid. But fundamentally the code and data architecture can be similar. Not so with the PS3 – Sony asks us to deal with the triple whammy of multi-core, asymmetric processors, and draconian memory restrictions. Moving to multi-core is already a big deal and a challenge for the industry. I’m not so sure about our ability to handle the PS3 weirdness as well. And it doesn’t help that Microsoft’s development environment and tools beat Sony’s by several country miles.

In a year or so, I can see that the average PS3 game will actually be better than the average Xbox 360 game. But it’s easy to see this from the wrong angle. The risk is that only blockbuster titles will make it to the PS3, because of the bet Sony is asking developers and publishers to make. The PS3 is so difficult and expensive to make a game for that only the high cost, high return titles will make it. It’s a business model which is showing its age and is risky – the industry is already hit-driven and we could do with more efforts to exploit the long tail, along the lines of Xbox Live Arcade or games like Brain Age.

In conclusion, I’ll be getting a Wii when it launches. Maybe someday I’ll get an Xbox 360. It’ll be a long time before I get a PS3, if at all.

halloween is coming

Thursday, October 5th, 2006

I already got the flyer/catalogue from Party City.

My LiveJournal Trick-or-Treat Haul
elbeno goes trick-or-treating, dressed up as an anti-pirate.
_skye_ gives you 11 teal vanilla-flavoured pieces of chewing gum.
arielerilrondil tricks you! You get a wad of paper.
auntysarah gives you 18 orange cola-flavoured wafers.
editor tricks you! You get a used tissue.
greatbiggary tricks you! You lose 2 pieces of candy!
henrydeane gives you 12 red-orange cinnamon-flavoured nuggets.
kinepela tricks you! You get a rock.
linca gives you 13 blue cinnamon-flavoured nuggets.
rum_pirate_sc gives you 17 red-orange coffee-flavoured nuggets.
sylvene gives you 8 brown evil-flavoured nuggets.
elbeno ends up with 77 pieces of candy, a wad of paper, a used tissue, and a rock.
Go trick-or-treating! Username:
Another fun meme brought to you by rfreebern.

and : how like you. I forgive you anyway because I think tricking is part of your nature 🙂
, I'm surprised at you… just for that, I won't tell you about an awesome geocache I know.
, I shared those two pieces of candy out of pity… I'm still 13 up on you! Mwahahaha.

The rest of you, thanks. But I'll stick to eating the mound of candy my wife bought and then failed to get rid of, seeing as how we only got 3 trick-or-treaters to our house.

OK, what can I do with:

Thursday, October 5th, 2006


a blood-soaked electric fan
a severed hand
a massive pile of band-aid wrappers
a bag of swedish fish
a painting
a fire extinguisher
a pigeon
a ball-peen hammer
a frame
a photograph
a roll of tape
a portrait
the left half of a coupon
a steel key
a bottle of aspirin
a towel
a pillow
an unlabeled first can of beans, an unlabeled twelfth can of beans, an unlabeled eleventh can of beans, an unlabeled tenth can of beans, an unlabeled ninth can of beans, an unlabeled eighth can of beans, an unlabeled seventh can of beans, an unlabeled sixth can of beans, an unlabeled fifth can of beans, an unlabeled fourth can of beans, an unlabeled third can of beans, and an unlabeled second can of beans

?

Things I already did:

  • ate a swedish fish (yum, 1 point)
  • unpeeled labels from all the cans (1 point)
  • unlocked the door with the steel key (but it is still nailed up with boards)
  • got a couple more points from somewhere: I’m at 4/11
  • I tried putting the severed hand out of the window, too, but can’t figure out what to do after that

And yes, the hand is mine, severed with the fan, and the stump is patched up with the whole box of band-aids (hence the wrappers).

IF Comp 06 is on!

Monday, October 2nd, 2006

Grab it at ifcomp.org. And leave your BT client going while you play. By my count there are 44 games this year, and exactly half of them are Z-code games. The rest seem to be more split than usual between the other gaming systems, with TADS losing its 2nd place a bit. 5 of the games this year are “Windows Games”. And as usual, if any of them are any good, I’ll be amazed. Ditto for the two web-based games.

Anyway, enough talk. I’ve got 44 new games to play in the next 6 weeks!