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PAX 2008 Day 1

One of the many nice things about PAX, is that that 2 hour time zone shift means that my "natural" sleep habits of going to sleep at 3am and waking at 10am become entirely reasonable here.

Today was just an amazing day, or "full of win" in the obviously temporary vernacular of the moment.

We tried something different at this PAX, being social. We joined a group that was walking down for breakfast. We weren't standing their long when a very polite girl introduced herself to us. Her name is 'Rene, short for Irene, and her and her friend Ian flew in from Wisconsin and apparently are involved with some work involving the South Pole.

Rene, through equal parts wandering and providence, guided us to a lovely little diner with an amazing view of the bay, great food, and yet was out of the way enough it was not comically choked by our own unwashed horde.

We checked out the rest of the market, and then played DS while waiting in line while in proximity to them for several hours. Which is about as social as playing DS can get, especially when there are so many DSes that the local spectrum is clogged to the point of uselessness.

The expo itself was pretty impressive this year. We got a look at a new "ninjas vs pirate dodgeball" downloadable game. We kicked the tires at Guitar Hero's "Rock Band" clone. Which seemed like an impressive enough booth, until we got to Harmonix, who had set up a proper rock star stage complete with lighting and a teeming crowd of onlookers, and then we gawked at playable demos of both Fallout 3 and Starcraft 2.

The Keynote this year was really bleh. The really should just let Wil Wheaton do it every year, until challenged and bested.

Although the highlight, like last year really was seeing Jonathan Coulton in concert. I've already gushed plenty in my FriendFeed so I'll just leave you with that.

Edit: Hrm, my new Vimeo stuff isn't showing up on FriendFeed, so I'll link to it here:

Eggs Benediction

I have the day off today as my friend "Jason who doesn't have a blog "and I are flying to Seattle for PAX

After I helped Elyssa off, I wandered into town to get cash, and on a whim, decided to have breakfast at a greasy spoon downtown.

I've eaten here before, but Elyssa didn't really care for it, so we haven't really gone back.

The place is done in all wood paneling, sports Formica booths and a one page laminated menu that is all text, no graphics. I was the only one in the room under 40, and the only women were the two 50 something waitresses.

I got a pot of coffee immediately on the table, and decided to ordered Eggs Benedict, with a side of hash. "Not my usual, but nice."

I sat, dropping cream into my coffee, observing the fractal fluid mechanics at work, thinking of the nearly identical diner scene from the movie Pi, except I was not approached by a Hasidic Jew with an existential scheme. (My post quota for use of the word "existential" is fulfilled!)

While waiting for my food, I began eavesdropping on the people in the booth next to me. I hadn't gotten a look at them, but quickly surmised that they were old-old.

They were talking about how they didn't like computers. The older man saying his mind can keep up with them, but not his hands, the old woman agreeing, saying she has problems getting the mouse pointer to the right place. I thought of breaking in and suggesting she investigate a trackball, but since I assume diners have a different communication etiquette than a web-forum, I refrained.

The man went onto say how he didn't care for emailing anyways, as it was too easy to miscommunicate things. The lady responded to this, I kid you not, with a completely non-ironic "I don't understand what you're saying". He then obfuscated his point far more by saying "Well, when you're sitting there looking at what you wrote, you know what you mean, but they might not." Which is too bad, because I think he has a very valid point in that email is often a poor communications medium and is ill-suited for messages with emotionally charged content.

She responded to this by changing the subject: "I think it would be fun to learn how to paint."

While they continued talking about painting, a disheveled man with glasses came in, doubling the number of people under 40. His look was a strange one, he looked a lot like Alan Cox sans hat, so I nearly assumed him to be a computer kin. But then I remembered that in my town, disheveled bearded men in t-shirts with glasses are far more likely to be blue-collar biker types with poor eye-sight than kernel hackers.

He sat at the counter, ordered a #6 and then got into a discussion with the waitress that led them to talk about Priuses. The discussion was almost uniformly negative, citing all the problems with them. That their mileage isn't as great as they say, that they need expensive battery packs, that they sometimes turn themselves on when mechanics are trying to fix them.

And, while I think I could have found fault with the substance of their points, I was more interested in the fact that their manner of discussion seemed so alien to me. I mean, normally when I find a post about bashing hybrid cars, the author fully commits to it. Reading it, you can nearly imagine them setting their stance and leaning into the keyboard while typing it in anticipation of receiving the inevitable disagreement.

But their conversation was done so casually, and was done more for something to say rather than to stake out some pixels on the internet to claim for their anti-Prius ideology. In fact, she even ended the conversation with "but my friends have one and love it".

It surprised me how alien such everyday exchanges seemed to me.

It made me realize, first, how little I hear from the people in the country who don't use the internet, it makes me wonder if I too, someday will be left behind, but seemingly all the more cruel since I had already gotten used to the idea of being part of a global communications community.

The second was how calm I found it to just listen to people with ideas whom I disagreed with. Had I read them on the internet, I most assuredly would have spent some time crafting a devastatingly final retort to smash their ridiculous claims with overwhelming blunt-force logic. But in the restaurant, waiting for my food, I felt none of that territorialism, in fact, I felt nearly privileged to be overhearing it, like a bird watcher viewing a rare species in it's native habitat.

And, thinking back, it would have seemed so easy to simply sneer, and write them off as being disconnected from the culture, and lost in their ways. But at the time I swear I felt like *I* was the one who may be out of touch.


It has recently been pointed out to me the great extent I seem to go to put myself "out" on the internet.

At work I have a webcam pointed at my face all day. I have a highly personal blog, and I have a camera that automagically publishes any picture taken to the internet within moments.

I opened my mouth to respond, and expected an answer to come out, but one did not.

Now, usually I'd just ramble on for far too long here hypothesizing either on the answer or why I don't know the answer. However, I think that's unlikely to be either accurate or entertaining, as I think I'm just too close to it.

Instead, I put it to you, since the other half of this equation really is the people participating in whatever this is.

Why does Kyle blog?
-- poll results --

(There is a similar sister poll up on Dumb Stories as well).


I now have a FriendFeed that you can use to see what videos I like, see when I'm updating these two blogs, what I'm twittering, etc.

I'll still keep posting big long rants here, per normal, but will likely do less of the small "Look an interesting site/video!", and do those on FriendFeed instead, since I think it's a better tool for that small stuff.

Hopefully this will force me to write more stuff here, rather than punting with a "look, someone else's content!" I've added a link on the left to it for your convenience.

PSA: Managing Flash Cookies

I'd like to interrupt the normal scheduled whining and banality with an important message regarding your Internet privacy.

I often think smug, self-satisfied thoughts about how hard it must be to track my online doings. I use Firefox, don't accept third-party cookies, all my cookies and history get erased when Firefox is closed, etc (and according to my logs, my readers prefer Firefox to IE 4 to 1, so that's one more thing I'm smug about)...

But last night, while I was trying to move my GemCraft saved game, I discovered that there is an entirely different type of cookie used by Adobe's Flash plug-in... One that never expires. And also provides a persistent record of nearly every flash site I've visited is worrisome on my obvious levels. Suddenly Google's acquisition of YouTube makes a lot more sense to me.

So I did some research, and thought I'd pass it on, so that at minimum, you can make sure your work computer's record is purged of any and all evidence that you have, at one point, played a flash game or watched a youtube video.

The only way to administer these "Flash Storage" settings is via this link: Adobe Settings Manager

That link should take you to a list of every one of the "flash cookies" on your computer, and what website you got them from.

There you'll likely see a list of sites with flash content. So now there are two worrisome things here:

  1. That they have a way to track your usage across multiple browser sessions
  2. That this could potentially serve as a defacto "Browser History".

#1 may or may not concern you. But #2 is especially worrisome, if only because *it is not* a proper history. Any flash embedded in any page you visit could set that "cookie".

Have a troublesome co-worker? Link them to a page in which you've secretly embedded a video from "" somewhere where they won't see it (e.g. several page scrolls down). Now call IT on them.

The fact that it looks very much like a page view history, but very much isn't, should be concerning...

Sadly, try as I might, I can only find an automated way of fixing the first problem, that of stopping tracking cookies. To fix that, go here, move the slider all the way to the left, and click "Never Ask Me".

(If this ever gives you trouble with a Flash App, you should be able to exempt it by right clicking on the Flash window, and going to "settings", and giving the site a dispensation.)

Now, you might think that solves the second issue as well. Sadly the Flash Reader keeps track of all the sites in which it has rejected to set cookies, which still leaves a pseudo browser history in it's wake.

There is a Firefox extension which can clean that list automatically, but at the moment, it is marked as experimental. So, at the moment, I can only recommend the manual solution of visiting Adobe Settings Manager and manually deleting all the sites there whenever necessary.

So there you are, consider yourself more informed, and perhaps entertained if you ever choose to use this knowledge to expose the supposedly secret browsing habits of others. =)

Caps Lock Out

In atonement to this blog's "Superfan", I link to this shot for shot Office Reenactment of Star Wars so that it's awesomeness may be enjoyed. (as always, turn off HD if it's bein's low)

m*d^2 / s^3

My wife pointed out an interesting article in this week's New Yorker magazine talking about the 2000 Watt Society.

Try as I might, I can't find a website which writes up the project in as much detail as The New Yorker did, but this one did it the best.

If only for their visualization of your goal being to have only 20x 100 Watt light bulbs constantly running in the background of your life. That seems like a doable goal.

I was feeling pretty smug myself, seeing as how it takes into account *all* transportation, and I walk to work each day.

However, I then read that they, of course, count air travel. Which, due to me working remotely, I travel by air more frequently than most people I know. So there goes that smugness.

In any case, the project has really captured my imagination. I like how it sets a hard goal, which also acts as a stopper for any of those people who make ridiculous slippery slope arguments about environmentalism such as "Al Gore won't be happy until we're all living in sod houses".

The existence of a reasonable goal also immediately revealed to me how unreasonable of our current level of consumption is. Which I think is a step environmentalists often skip...

(Edit: For those who asked about how to do the gas calculations: 1 gallon of gas ~= 36 kwh, 1 therm of natural gas = 29.3 kwh)


So I'm not that into sports.

I have nothing against them, and will often watch them if they are on.

I did make a conscious effort to watch some of the "Dream Team" back in 1996, as I do start to take an interest in a sport once it reaches a level of Globetrottian ridiculousness.

I missed the 2000 and 2004 showings, which is sad as the 2004 tale of wanton hubris and loss to the team from Greece would definitely entertained me. My lack of interest in basketball over these past years has also meant that I have never before been inoculated to the basketball prowess of LeBron James.

So this last Sunday, when I came upon the China vs US Olympics basketball game, I made the conscious decision to watch.

First of all, I now have a man crush on LeBron James. Watching him in that game, often times seemingly mystically hovering in from off-camera to do something tremendous was an experience. I began honestly wondering how he'd compare in some of the other track and field events, if he cared to.

Secondly, it was nice knowing that even the cold ember of my national pride can still be stoked to a dull red by something as mundane as an American breakaway dunk.

I am so used to having to be ashamed of, pretty much everything going on in the US right now, that this one simple, untainted pleasure really was refreshing.

Of course, once I thought that, my brain went about trying to ruin the moment for me. Pointing out that, inevitably, this Olympics games can only serve to give legitimacy to China despite it's horrendous human right's record.

At that I closed my eyes and screamed "Shut up! Why must you ruin everything with your detail oriented rationality! Just give me this one thing!", over and over until those thoughts faded away.

Consequently, I have been given my own conservative radio talk show, tune in at 3pm daily!

Embrace and Extend

You might enjoy reading this "Demon Barbarian's Guide to Impressing Girls", because it is funny and well done.

That is, until you realize the entire thing is an ad for Mingle.

Some viruses attach themselves to other proteins, which are then allowed to pass through a cell's otherwise impenetrable outer membrane.

Also, some bloggers talk about cellular biology when they feel sad that the marketing people have finally caught up to him and wield an unstoppable new weapon against his old and rusted Gen-X armor of Ad Cynicism +1.

Finally, almost all bloggers will eventually regress into D&D metaphors when they're groping for an upbeat ending to a post.


Spake Nelson Munz: Ha ha!

Will John McCain plow through a farmers market next? (Because he is old and totally drives his own bus.) And how will this effect his approval amongst mini-van owners?

In any case, it is funny when people screw up.


In The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams opines that civilizations go through three phases:

It said: 'The History of every major Galactic Civilization tends to pass through three distinct and recognizable phases, those of Survival, Inquiry and Sophistication, otherwise known as the How, Why and Where phases.

"For instance, the first phase is characterized by the question How can we eat? the second by the question Why do we eat? and the third by the question Where shall we have lunch?"

I'm going to make an uncharacteristic break from our dearly departed author, as this animated video has come to reveal to me that the seeking of food in our modern culture can actually be a harrowing psychic experience, akin to peering into the maw of existential meaning.

(If you suspect or know that my last sentence makes no sense, good for you! I offer up this video as a reward.)

Attention Inflation

It has been roughly 10 years since I talked my roommate Jason to pony up for DSL at the legendary 4th st apartment.

At the time, my "time wasting" cycle of web content was pretty limited. Hit slashdot, modernhumorist, bbspot, if Tuesday, theonion. All that was left after that was refreshing CNN.

For the next couple years it remained largely unchanged, in fact I lost modernhumorist from the list, bbspot became just generally lame. Homestar Runner popped into existence. I made due.

But these last couple years, presumably spurred on by youtube, it seems that internet's output of quality content is growing at a frightening pace. In 6th grade I was taught in my super special math class how to identify a geometric progression vs a linear one, and everything about this growth seems to fit the former. Where last year I had maybe one video site I'd check, today I have 4.

Now, I am accustomed to being able to have enough free time to consume all that is worthy of my viewing produced by the internet. But the mathematical realities seem to point to a day when the internet will create more content than I can view in a day without either abandoning or quitting my job...

It is dumb, but this inevitability bothers me a lot.. It is as if The Internet walked past my lunch table where we had talked and laughed for 10 years, and went to sit down with a table of people whom I don't recognize, without so much as an apologetic glance.

It is selfish, I know. But the fact that the very same force is going to make life largely terrible for the media companies and producers who have endeavored to made subpar story telling the norm helps dull the sting a little bit.

Dusting off the Fun

A mere 10 months ago, I pre-eulogized the baby-less fun Elyssa and I were having:

"This period of life elyssa and I have shared together, since college. Moving to a big city, settling in together, learning to get along. Falling into a pleasant routine. It is good, and it lacks a formal name. Nameless, and assumed useless by society. We have found peace these past few years. A type of golden years, except I'm not working as a Walmart greeter".

And 13 months before that, I said this:

"Would it kill someone to try to stymie my fun as an adult, so that I might revel in circumventing it?. Outlawing video games for instance? I mean, is it really fair that only kids get things arbitrarily denied to them?"

Had only I realized that my desire was already -8 months old? =) Certainly our life was disrupted these last months, but I now see that a post-birth life that can actually begin to resemble our old life.

Case in point, things have settled down enough that Elyssa and I have begun considering how to deal in entertainment other than collapsing onto the couch after Kelvin is asleep and watching half a netflix movie on the couch for an hour.

Elyssa, further clinching her role as my favorite person in the world, suggested that we make Friday nights "Video Game" nights, as I have a backlog of Wii games awaiting to be placed in the "complete" pile by my deft hands.

We've also begun playing Civilization 4 again together on the couch. Which has reoriented my world view into a mental countdown of how long it is until I get to play an hour of Civ4. Being reallowed access to something I took for granted earlier has been awesome. I now treasure each hour of allowed playtime as if it were something precious.

I recognize that all of this is resembles something pathetic, but my giddiness outweighs my shame by a factor of 10.