September 2003 Archives

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"So, what are you going to do with yourself?"

That was the question to which the answer, at the time, seemed most elusive.

What indeed.

And what about the anxiety, the uncertainty, the pain and the fear? Do they just go away?

Weeks passed, during which I found myself engaged in life's usual suspects: curiosity, creativity, imagination, learning, love and play. And while these friends kept me busy I observed myself getting close to the core of my desire, the essence of my being. Happiness, bliss and unspeakable joy soothe the anxiety and the fear when near that sacred place. And while visiting that sacred place I soon discovered that the question no longer mattered.

Yes, it is all too easy to become distracted; though I've found a friend in being, not in doing.

The answer is to render the question irrelevant.

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I have to smile every time I visit Jake Metcalf's 8Bit as he is always stoked about something or other. Whether he's reviewing the latest electronic gadget, cheesy B-movie, or just ranting about GOP political oppression, Jake always has something cool to say.

I saw this great button art on his site and just had to spread the good word. Thanks Jake, and keep up the good work.

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To study for a quiz in Interactive Digital Media tomorrow, I took some of the elements of my first assignment and turned them into something even more like a breakout game. There is no bouncing off the bottom anymore, you get only 3 chances, and sounds and multiple levels have been added to add spice and variety to the otherwise very simple game.

Have a ball!

Play Breakout

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Today I had my first DJ training session with a live WITR DJ on the air. DJ "Amp", also known as Matt Fuller, provided the instruction during the first half of his show from 12 Noon to 1 PM. This will be the regular time frame on Tuesdays that I will be shadowing a DJ throughout the quarter in hopes of eventually getting my own show next quarter.

So far everyone associated with the radio station who I've met have all been warm and welcoming, patient, and willing to help. I'm very much looking forward to this experience as it unfolds and enjoying it every minute.

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Trying to keep up on news between assignments has proven more than difficult this quarter with four (4) core IT courses on my schedule. Funny thing about the IT department at RIT: each instructor seems to believe that their course is the only one you're taking... hence assignments which take 40 hours to complete. Though the "curse of the over-achiever" might have more to do with the number of hours put into a project than with what the instructor expects, however. I'll have to collect more data on that.

The latest Microsoft worm has surfaced, and this one includes an alarmingly official-looking document (click image for larger view) from Microsoft which instructs how to install itself! The scary thing is that even if you have the latest patch installed from Microsoft, executing the file attached to the worm's document will infect your 'puter the same as not having the latest patch. If you haven't updated your OS however, the worm will install itself by merely viewing the message.

Best advice to Microsoft OS users: visit Microsoft Update regularly (use IE when clicking the link for best results), and only install updates that you find on their site.

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I'm finally done with the first IDM project, modeled after the classic video game "Breakout", and is my first Macromedia Director app. Now onto other things like Heuristic Evaluations and Internetworking Lab reports, oh joy.

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I've been busy these past few days working on assignments, not the least of which is for Interactive Digital Media where we are working with Macromedia Director to create interactive web pages. I couldn't resist making a little game, even if it has been done before, to get familiar with Director's lingo. So here's my project, so far, in an attempt to get Director shockwave files to appear in the MT entry section of my weblog...

Update: ok, so it didn't work. The picture above is just a screen shot, though I haven't given up yet. Embedding Director (.dcr) files should not be difficult to do (hopefully). If anyone knows anything about how to do this, please let me know. In the meantime, here's a link to the project on its own page.

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Better batten down the hatches, storms are coming on all fronts. As the east coast readies itself for the imminent danger of Isabel, sys admins and anyone with a Windows machine should be readying for a different, though all-too-familiar, kind of threat:

"Last week the news was, 'It's coming, gotta get to (patching) quickly.' Now the news is 'It's here. We've seen it. We have it. You've gotta get to (patching) now."

A security company said Tuesday that it found an example of working computer source code that exploits the latest critical security hole disclosed by Microsoft Corp.

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Thanks to weez Blog for alerting me to lessig blog, the weblog of Larry Lessig, Professor of Law at Stanford, where the topics of patents, copyrights and general IP discussions occur regularly.

What impressed me the most however, is his ability to expose the imbalances that exist in these issues as well as his activity in doing something about it.

As for me? I'm just a know-nothing nobody sitting on the sidelines, but I see the imbalances that exist and am worried about them. Just call me the meek who will inherit the Earth; I'm just afraid there won't be anything left by the time I get my hands on it.

From lessig blog:

So here's perhaps the most concise and compelling account of just why software patents will harm new innovators (that's you Europe) and benefit old innovators (that's America), written in 1991 by Mr. Gates:

"If people had understood how patents would be granted when most of today's ideas were invented and had taken out patents, the industry would be at a complete stand-still today. The solution . . . is patent exchanges . . . and patenting as much as we can. . . . A future start-up with no patents of its own will be forced to pay whatever price the giants choose to impose. That price might be high: Established companies have an interest in excluding future competitors." Fred Warshofsky, The Patent Wars 170-71 (NY: Wiley 1994).

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From my friend Chuck in Boston comes this link of a cute and catchy little flash animation of badgers, mushrooms and snakes. Make sense of it, cause I can't... but it doesn't matter anyway cause it's Friday!!

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Very important reading today for anyone even remotely involved with building web pages: an article from CNet with details on how Microsoft's recent loss in court to Eolas could mean substantial workarounds for any web developer with pages that contain technologies such as Macromedia Flash, Java Applets, or Adobe Acrobat PDF files:

"If you're currently using a plug-in, you will have to change your pages quite significantly."

This is a prime example of why software patents are too easy to obtain and once obtained they can cripple innovation and standards compliance. Furthermore, far too much development has been allowed to be done, using plug-in and applet technologies, during the time since the suit was first brought against Microsoft back in 1999. If there were any benevolence in Microsoft they would have settled with Eolas long ago and dumped the technology onto the W3C's lap where it belongs:

"When you think about this, having to go around the patent highlights the stupidity of the patent system. Everyone in the field is very saddened by the whole thing... The W3C has worked very hard to make the Web remain patent free and this might be the one thing that screws it all up. It's really very frustrating."

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The RIAA has stepped up its consumer harassment campaign this week by issuing hundreds of new lawsuits against file traders.

The RIAA may soon learn that doing so will not increase CD sales, in fact it is likely to have the opposite affect. We can all do our part by boycotting the RIAA and buying music CDs only from artists not affiliated with them.

Update: one of those hundreds being sued turned out to be a 12-year-old girl from New York City:

"I thought it was OK to download music because my mom paid a service fee for it. Out of all people, why did they pick me?"

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Andy Roddick played incredible tennis today, beating current Number 1 tennis player in the world, Juan Carlos Ferrero, in straight sets to win his first grand slam championship at the US Open: 6-3, 7-6, 6-3!

It was a great match to watch: Andy looked strong and confident and held his own against Ferrero who, after eliminating Andre Agassi in the semi finals yesterday, could not return most of Andy's serves today.

Congratulations Andy!

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Attempting to organize my things to a lower common denominator, I've decided to part with all the crap I've collected over the years but not sure why. Besides the boxes and boxes of CDs, cassette tapes and vinyl my DJ hobby has amassed, the only area where I'm able to trim an exceptional amount of phat is my vintage Mac collection.

In January 1984, I put an order in for an original 128K Macintosh and never threw out a Macintosh related item since. I have newspaper clippings, posters, empty Mac casings, software, hardware, and reading materials! The photo here contains the periodicals released during the first few years of the Mac's existence and am currently in negotiations with someone I connected with through eBay to purchase the whole lot.

Maybe I'll finally be able to buy that nice Pioneer DJM500 I've been wanting for a very long time. =)

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From Slashdot this morning comes news that the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) is planning to offer amnesty to file traders who delete all infringing files from their puters and send them a notarized amnesty form along with a photo ID. No, I'm not kidding.

Hey RIAA, how about I just stop sharing files, and we call it even? I know I own most of the CDs for the files I listen to, but I stopped buying those too so you'll know where I stand.

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Universal Music Group (UMG), the world's largest recording company, announced Wednesday they will be reducing the wholesale price they charge retailers for each CD almost $3, from $12.02 to $9.09. UMG hopes that retailers will also drop the price they charge consumers to $10 or less. They said they are reducing their prices "with the aim of bringing music fans back into retail stores and driving music sales." New prices are expected to reach consumers as soon as October 1st. Thanks to Wired for the article.

I suppose it's a start, though $9.09 wholesale for a CD is still a bit ridiculous to me. One can only hope that this is the beginning of more realistic CD prices to come.

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Who knew that buying an Apple iTunes Music Store digital music file, for just 99 cents, could have netted such a profit by reselling it on eBay?? Thanks to CNet for their story on the event.

Just take a look at this auction listed by George Hotelling, a web developer whose weblog can be found here. The auction is set to end on September 9th.

In a stroke of genius, he decided to put the file up for auction to test to see if the right of first sale can coexist with digital rights management (DRM). He has declared he will be donating all profits to the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

Way to go George! You're brilliant.

Update 9/4 3:00PM: eBay has removed the auction siting violation of downloadable media policy. George says not true. Use this link to keep current on the developments of this story and for a link to a PDF of the removed auction page.

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Been playing a lot of F-Zero GX since its release a week ago and I am totally loving this game. The environments are unbelievably huge, the courses are astonishingly gorgeous, and the game is lightning fast. Contrary to what I've read around the net, the game is easy to pick up and have fun with: I took it over to my nieces' house this weekend for a family clambake and we all had a lot of fun with it. The game's difficultly shows itself as you progress through its many layers, so unlocking everything in the game becomes a formidable task. That's ok with me, because that means I'll be coming back to it for quite some time.

Chalk up another triple AAA title for Nintendo, developed by Sega.

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With classes beginning September 8th, there's just one more week until the fall quarter begins at RIT and I'm looking forward to it in earnest:

4002-330   Interactive Digital Media
4002-342   Internetworking Lab
4002-426   Interface Design
4002-460   Technology Transfer

That's a lot of inter-course.

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