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Microblogs May 2013

 

June 4 2013

In this batch of microblogs, I have spolier-free reviews of the new Star Trek and Fast and Furious movies, discuss a new programming language (Dao), discuss marriage, look back at the environment where I started MaraDNS, among other topics.

==Did they bury all those unsold E.T. games?==

Back in the early 1980s, Atari supposedly buried thousands of unsold E.T. games, as depicted in this mid-2000s music video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Rt_3_bQVJU
They will finally put to rest the open question of whether this really happened (the guy who made the E.T. cart claimed it did not)

http://arstechnica.com/gaming/2013/06/film-crew-to-dig-up-atari-landfill-site-maybe-score-3-5-million-copies-of-e-t/

Posted Jun 01 2013

==It’s not obsolete if it gets the job done==

12 “Obsolete” Technologies Americans Still Use

http://www.livescience.com/37004-12-outdated-technologies-refuse-to-die.html
Dialup is pretty badly obsolete. I have a setup that lets me approximate what my website is like to use on dialup: It takes about a minute to load all of the elements needed to view a page (and I still go to some trouble to make things as small as reasonably possible), but once that it done, pages load quickly. My webpage tells browsers to cache the elements for nine months so dialup users only have to wait a minute once.

Pay phones: This is one technology I really wish wasn’t going away. While pay phone calls are expensive, they are cheaper than international roaming on a cell phone. The US doesn’t have real options for low-cost cell phone use. The best deal is T-Mobile’s pay-as-you-go plan, which gives a year of mobile use for only $100—as long as the phone is used for less than 1,000 minutes of talking and, since in the US people pay for incoming texts (even from spammers), text messages are blocked.

Windows 2000: I have a soft spot for Win2k: It’s the last version of Windows without intrusive DRM. I have a Windows 2000 virtual machine for playing older games. The only gotcha with Windows 2000 is that browsers are finally no longer running in Win2k—the latest Firefox to run is Firefox 10, and, even here, a web page with a bad webfont can cause the entire system to reboot. I use Dillo, a tiny minimalist browser, to browse the web in Win2k. If I ever make Linux my desktop OS again, I will use that Win2k virtual machine to run the few Windows-only apps I still use.

Posted May 31 2013

==A sign of having wisdom==

The ignorant always want to teach. The knowledgeable (wise) always want to learn.

Posted May 30 2013

==The Dao of Programming==

Dao is a lightweight programming language which appears to be, if you will, “Lua on steroids”. It’s bigger than Lua, but not as big as a “full sized” scripting language, while having most of the features of a bigger language:

http://daovm.net/
http://lua-users.org/wiki/LuaImplementations
For something smaller than Lua (64k!)

http://www.tinypy.org/
Posted May 28 2013

==Fast and Furious 6==

(This is a spoiler-free review)

The Fast and Furious franchise is notorious for check-your-brain-in-at-the-door moments. Fast 2 had one. The final car chase in Fast 5 defies the laws of physics (Warning: link has Fast 5 spoilers). Not surprisingly, Fast 6 has its share of “yeah, right” moments.

My wife told me after the movie that Star Trek: Into Darkness was a more realistic movie than Fast 6.

But this doesn’t mean the movie isn’t fun to watch. The viewing public agrees: The only movie to do better this year so far has been Iron Man 3.

For people that like to watch fast cars in high-speed chases, and look at beautiful men and women (albeit in a PG-13 movie), Fast 6 delivers.

Posted May 27 2013

==Map of London tubes (subways) using only CSS==

This is a map of the London tube (subway) system rendered using only CSS:

http://www.csstubemap.co.uk/index.html
Note: This site does not render correctly in any version (not even 10) of Internet Explorer, but renders fine in Firefox, Chrome, and even Opera.

Posted May 22 2013

==Star Trek: Into Darkness==

(This is a spoiler-free review)

Star Trek: Into Darkness is a very good continuation of the Star Trek franchise. The movie is written more in the spirit of the original Star Trek series and early movies, completely ignoring the Berman and Braga (B&B) era of the franchise.

Like the original Star Trek, there is a lot of action in this movie. Like the original Star Trek, there is social commentary about current events. Like the original Star Trek, Kirk is a brash, prideful, and womanizing captain. Unlike the B&B Star Trek, doing the ethically right thing is not always unquestionably rewarded.

As someone who mostly lost interest in Star Trek a few years in to the B&B era, this is a nice revival, taken to the next level: Unlike the original Star Trek, the special effects are not campy and my wife does not fall asleep while watching it.

I’m very glad to see the old Star Trek again.

Posted May 19 2013

==My favorite dot-com era job==

The best dot-com job I had was my last one: I was working for a tiny little consulting company. The company was still growing in the later days of the dot-com party. We finally had enough money coming in to move to a real office (before, we were working in some extra rooms a private school had which we converted in to office space) and hire a number of workers.

We were in a beautiful neighborhood in Mountain View, just across the business park from where Netscape still had their offices. The weather was beautiful sunny California weather; instead of driving, when it was lunch time, I would often just walk around the business park we were in and enjoy the beautiful weather, going to a restaurant close by or this small Mexican market near the office.

In was at this job that I decided to start MaraDNS. The positive atmosphere working at that job helped encourage me to work hard and make my mark on the world.

Posted May 16 2013

==A use for floppy drives in 2013==

Here’s one way to still use floppy drives in 2013:

http://gizmodo.com/floppy-drives-are-only-good-for-playing-daft-punk-music-500903524
The James Bond theme played with floppy drives is remarkably accurate:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WtiAP8xMSPo
On the topic of floppies, C-evo 1.1.1 is a fully playable game that fits on a single 1.44 meg floppy disk (albeit without sound); C-evo 1.2 needs one of those rare 2.88 meg floppies that never caught on (getting C-evo 1.2 that small required building the C#-free version and hacking on my part to remove the requirement for the new larger graphics)

Then again, with C-evo 1.1.1, only the essential files to make a bare-bones playable game are on disk #1, and a lot of useful files for the game are on disk #2 (the sounds, the strong Seti AI, the sounds, the graphical tech chart). One of the big reasons C-evo 1.2 needs a single larger file is because the graphical techchart is now integrated in to the core game.

Posted May 14 2013

==Congrats Nate Silver==

Nate Silver, after predicting all 50 states in the last presidential election, as well as doing a remarkably good job predicting the Academy Award winners, has been voted most creative person in business of the year:

http://www.fastcompany.com/3009258/most-creative-people-2013/1-nate-silver
Posted May 13 2013

==Four things that can kill a marriage==

According to a scientific study, there are four factors (contempt, criticism, stonewalling, and defensiveness) that kill marriages:

http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/psysociety/2013/05/10/marriage-tips/
Posted May 11 2013

==Gay marriage: Now in Telenovelas!==

For the first time ever, they showed a gay marriage in a Mexican soap opera (telenovela) last night. The novela is called Amores Verdaderos (true love), and it’s in its final week, where they wrap up the various open stories. In traditional Latin Soap Opera fashion, a lot of marriages happen during the final episodes.

I prefer Latin TV a lot of ways over TV in the US. They do not have any qualms showing a beautiful girl and having guys appreciate her beauty; the novelas show people praying, something one almost never sees on US TV; and, there is not this disconnect between being religious and respecting human rights for gays the way there is in the US.

Posted May 09 2013

==On analog vs. digital synthesizers==

I prefer the music made in the early 1980s, when synths were expensive and unreliable; it is a lot more compelling than the stuff from the late 1980s, when the technology matured.

Analog does not sound better because it has an inherently better sound. It sounds better because the limitations of analog forced musicians to be more creative in the early 1980s.

In 1983, no one would trade a Linn Drum for a TR-808—yet today, the 808’s sound is much more coveted. The musicians who used an 808 did so because the Linn Drum was out of their budget. Their creativity with limited tools is what made that sound “classic”.

Posted May 07 2013

==April-May 2013 archive==

I have archived the microblogs posted from April 15 to May 5 2013:

http://samiam.org/blog/20130505.html

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