poor kyle reese

Repost from 6 years ago today:

“Within every story featuring time travel there really exists two stories: The one about Marty McFly who went back in time and saved Doc Brown from being killed by terrorists and the (much less contemplated) one about Marty McFly who disappeared forever the night Doc Brown was killed.”

$500 times 51,514 mp3s = $25,757,000 fine for me

The new copyright legislation is in the mail:

The federal Conservatives are set to introduce new copyright legislation that will include provisions to target users with a $500 fine for all illegal files transferred online, a move that legal experts say could see Canadians sued for hundreds of thousands of dollars if found guilty of infringement.

Sources have told the National Post that one of the provisions in the updated Copyright Act of Canada will include a fine for each “personal use download” found to be shared online through peer-to-peer software programs.

Other provisions in the bill, which is said to be tabled in the House of Commons tomorrow afternoon, will include measures to make it illegal to unlock cellphones or copy music from protected CDs to iPods as well as making it illegal to copy “time-shifted” shows on to personal video recorders if flagged by broadcasters.

Summary?

Loss of Copyright Act right to make a copy of music for personal use.
Modifying electronics that you own will be illegal
Ripping copy-protected CDs that you own to play on mp3 players that you own will be illegal.

No one knows yet if this is going to be tabled tomorrow or next week, and no one knows if it’ll be left to die over summer recess or pushed through; so look up your MP, give them a ring on the hill, and let them know what you think.

Trip Report

After much travel chaos, I’m home safe and sound after Web Directions North.

I’ve been to a number of conferences, but I don’t remember the last one that I enjoyed as much as this. There were a lot of great sessions, like Cameron Adams‘ full-day JavaScript workshop, and Brian Fling‘s Mobile Web presentation (did you know more people have access to the web via a mobile than people who have access via a desktop?), but the huge take-away for me was Andy Clarke‘s full-day workshop, “Transcending CSS”.

I wasn’t expecting much out of the CSS workshop, honestly, because there isn’t too much about CSS that I don’t already understand — but Andy’s workshop focused on thinking differently about using CSS, and composing meaningful markup. We spent a lot of time reviewing traditional web design workflow, and why/how to move to more progressive, browser-oriented techniques, and somewhere between the two topics I realized why I’ve had such design ennui when it comes to my own projects.

When I was younger and much more prolific (in my design prime, so to speak), I didn’t know nearly as much about web design, or html/css as I do now. I didn’t really know how difficult a design would be to markup or implement, and I never stopped to consider how I was going to manage the content itself once the code was done. I’d design the site in Photoshop, and I’d start hacking together code to try to get it to look right in a browser. Along the way, I’d run into a problem getting the design to display faithfully — maybe a limitation of HTML or CSS, maybe a gap in my own knowledge, maybe a weird IE rendering bug — and I’d have to find a way around the issue, which generally involved modifications to the design or rewriting most of the code.

This would happen a lot (just how often depended on how complex the site was, but a dozen times or so per site is a safe estimate), and each time this happened, the design and code evolved further away from the original concept. In other words, problem solving had become part of the creative process, and my design was being informed not just by my own ideas, but also by the limitations of browser rendering engines.

This doesn’t happen anymore for my personal sites. When I design a site in Photoshop, I’ve got a solid understanding of what is and is not possible. When I run into implementation problems, my understanding of XHTML/CSS is such that I can almost always solve them, and I end up with a fully validated design that looks exactly like the Photoshop. And that’s a great thing, if you’re a consultant and you have client sign-off on a mockup, but I’ve realized that this has robbed my sites of the things that keep me interested in them. My creative process for personal sites ends at Photoshop, now, and doesn’t carry any further than that.

I believe design is problem solving, not art. When I design a site and there’s no creative problem-solving process involved, I end up with something that I think is very pretty, but completely lifeless and boring, and I abandon it immediately.

The trick is now to translate this new knowledge into a new creative process.

Personal epiphanies aside, it was incredible to spend a week chatting, learning, (and drinking) with so many people whose work I’ve followed (or idolized) over the years, like Dave Shea, Matt Webb, or Jeffrey Zeldman. (It was like a Maschinenfest for web geeks, in that sense.)

Twelve or thirteen years ago (half a lifetime away), when I was a Very Small Jairus, and first trying to learn learn HTML, I didn’t understand how any of it was put together. The markup part was easy (I was a fairly competent C++ programmer, writing System 7 apps), but the design element of it was frustrating and confusing. How come the page didn’t look the same on Windows as it did on MacOS? Why doesn’t this tag do the same thing on two different browsers? I didn’t get it.

There were six or seven big names on the web at the time, and I emailed them all. I told them that I was trying to learn HTML, none of it made any sense to me, and (heh) could I please rip off their websites to build my own so that I could figure out how the fuck any of it worked.

The only person who emailed me back was Jeffrey Zeldman, and he said “Of course you can — go ahead and rip the code off, that’s what it’s there for”. And I did, and I ended up making my first website based off of the code and layout of his site. And honestly, if he had never emailed me back, I don’t know if I would have kept bashing my head against the keyboard until everything started to make sense; so it was very important to me that I had the chance this week to thank him in person for this, and I did.

I’ve been posting a lot of photos from this trip to my Flickr account, but the photo I posted earlier from the top of Blackcomb is the only Whistler photo I’m going to put online. The vastness and scale of the mountains are awe-inspiring, and it’s completely impossible to capture that in film. I took dozens of photos, but on a computer screen they’re just a bunch of snow covered rocks, and not the mountains that I spent two days on.

WAH WAH WAH

Not that anyone ever really cares when someone complains about work on LJ, but this is how crazy busy my work has been recently:

For the last six weeks, I have had this sitting on my floor:

That is a brand new, fresh out of the box Google Mini. I bought it two months ago.

I have not even plugged it in.

Those who know me will understand how painful that is.

what?

Today’s LiveJournal interest explained: Qualia.

Qualia is the experience of something. Look at this:

You are seeing red in front of you. You are having an experience of redness. What does that mean, exactly? Is this the same experience other people have when they look at it? Why can’t you describe the experience of redness? That is qualia. Qualia is a very slippery thing, but it exists. It is a product that exists entirely within the conscious mind, but it is a product with real properties.

The classic thought experiment is as follows:

Mary was born and raised in a black and white room. All her books are black and white, her clothes are black and white, her skin is black and white (because of magic light bulbs), and her only view of the outside world is through a black and white TV. However, Mary is a brilliant woman, and a scientist. Not just any scientist, mind you, but a scientist who studies colour. She knows everything there is to know about the physics of colour, she’s interviewed countless people over the phone about their subjective experiences with colour, she knows what neurons talk to other neurons when people are exposed to colour, she knows what colours are complimentary and what colours clash — she’s just never seen colour.

But when we bring a red apple into the room, Mary will say ‘holy fuck’. We’ve taught Mary something. We’ve taught her the experience of redness.

If Mary knew everything there was to know about the physical properties of colour, but she still learned something new when we gave her an apple, then what she learned cannot be described or explained through physical means. Which means that physicalism (the belief that all things which exist have physical properties) is clearly wrong, and a non-physical property (the qualia of redness) caused a physical reaction (Holy fuck!)

Consider: If we had painted the apple blue before we give it to her, is it possible she would have said “You tried to fool me, this is blue”?

Qualia fucks me up.

i am bic

An Ode To My Monitor
What ho! What’s this on my wood desk,
Something too large for words;
A screen so bright to be grotesque,
Clearly the work of nerds!
Ratio and size, sixteen to nine
Rotating stand to turn
The screen, not bound to the landscape,
Or such worldly concerns;
A guide that serves to hold the lines
So the cables can’t intertwine
Rounds out a perfect shape.

An Ode to my Hypothalamus
Get Fucked.

What I Did Today, by Jairus Khan.

First, I had to update my dashboard. My XBox is running a standard Xecuter BIOS, and I went with Avalaunch 0.49, the choice of kings.

Due to my crappy DVD drive, my XBox can only read DVD-R media. No CD-RW for me. Gonna have to get me a Phillips or maybe just the Thompson laser. After several unsuccessful attempts, I had DVD-R media my XBox could read.

Then came Debian. Or, more appropriately, Xebian. Even though it has horrible documentation, I managed to come out on the other side, a few hours later. I pulled a fakie on the FS so that it thinks all the needed partitions are inside one big 3GB file on my HD. This makes things simple.

THEN!

The Apt-Get nightmare. Hours and hours spend fighting with compilers, version conflicts, dependencies, and everything else I hate about Linux. I made it through, but just barely. I’ll have to take it easy for the next few days, glibc has sapped my strength.

In the end, however, it was all worth it. It took the day, but I got what I wanted. Linux running on an XBox, with full joystick support. Not because I give a crap about Linux, oh no. A much, much better reason.


The Ur-Quan are coming, bitches.

PART NO 1391401 – ID 4166148 – DATE 11OCT89 – PLT F2 MODEL M – MADE IN THE USA

Thanks to the kind-hearted [info]lactam, I am now the proud owner of an IBM Model M keyboard. The bad-ass version, no less.

This is the world’s leetest keyboard. The only possible way to make it even leeter is evidenced by industrial model 1394946, which I’ve never actually seen in real life.

Huzzah, my friends! Huzzah, my generous benefactor! HUZZAH!

Reaction time is a factor in this, so please pay attention.

Researchers who ‘proved’ that Ecstasy equals Parkinson’s gave monkeys the wrong drug. (Prediction: This announcement will have zero effect on drug policy/propaganda, and substandard research will continue to serve the status quo. It’s a pretty wacky theory, I know….)

Voight-Kampff Test administered to San Francisco mayoral candidates.

Direct-to-DVD Family Guy might happen soon.

White Wolf sues the shit out of Sony for making a crappy movie in the World of Darkness without permission.

Trifid M20 and IC 443.

Inventory: Living Room

Computer 1: (Phucky)

AMD Athlon XP 1900+ w/512MB DRAM
A7V266-E Motherboard w/integrated audio, 250W PS
Asus V8170 MX GeForce4 DDR w/TV-out
80GB Western Digital w/8mb cache (system/mp3s)
20GB Maxtor in removable tray (movies)
HP CD-Writer 9500
10Mbit NIC (3Mbit DSL)
10/100Mbit NIC (Network)
SB Audigy Platinum (inactive, need bigger PS)
ZIP Drive (inactive, need bigger PS)
Floppy Drive (inactive, need bigger PS)
Wacom Tablet (mostly inactive, need bigger PS)

This is my PC, and acts as a firewall/NAT, and serves www/ftp/pop3/smtp/imap/etc to the rest of the network and the outside world. I blew my last PS, and I need a new one in order to connect the rest of my peripherals. Lack of peripherals makes me sad.

Computer 2: (GlipGlop)

Intel Pentium III/800 w/512MB SDRAM
GeForce2 MX
10Mbit NIC (Rogers@Home)
10/100Mbit NIC (Network)
Quantum Fireball 10GB (system)
Fujitsu 6GB (misc)
SB Live! Value

This is dirtybunnyLeslie’s PC, and acts as a firewall/NAT, handling backup services for if/when Phucky goes offline.


Computer 3: (Oogah)

AMD Duron 1Ghz
K7S5A Motherboard w/integrated audio, 250W PS
512MB SDRAM / 256MB DRAM
GeForce2 MX / ATI Rage AGP

This is my mother’s PC, and will not boot due to a stubborn 0x0000008e STOP error during XP/ME/2K/NT/98/95 setup. I have just about given up on this machine, I’ve swapped out every part (except the MB/CPU), and it simply fails to work. This is pretty interesting, because the MB/CPU works fine in another system.


Computer 4: (Iszotrash)

AMD Athlon 1800+
GA-7VRX Motherboard
256MB DRAM
This is error853Yann’s old dead PC. It seems to have some hardware damage, I’m hoping to salvage something from it.

Computers 5 through 8: (???)

5:
Unknown Slot A CPU (K6?)
MVW-VM(?) Motherboard
No RAM

6:
Unknown PII CPU
P2B(?) Motherboard
3 sticks of SDRAM

7:
Unknown CPU
Unknown Motherboard with Daughterboard (!!)
3 sticks of (72 pin?) RAM

8:
Unknown CPU
Unknown Motherboard
Unknown RAM

These are the infamous mystery floor computers. They are on my floor. I don’t know how they got there.

Random Parts
3 IDE Hard Drives
1 ISA Sound Card
4 NICs
1 Modem
1 BJC-4300 Printer (no parallel cable)
1 Flatbed Scanner (no parallel cable)
1 Glass half-full of PC screws

These parts are the wreckage that inevitably follows when you have mystery floor computers.

Who knew?

Two recent things I’ve really, really enjoyed:

Infected Mushroom – Converting Vegetarians

I’ve been listening to Infected Mushroom since 1999, when they released their first full-length album, The Gathering. I’m often bored by four-on-the-floor techno, but this album really caught my attention. You could tell they didn’t take themselves too seriously, and the songs were fun, and well written and produced. Their next album was in the same vein, especially with tracks like Dracul, where an orchestral sample from the score of Dracula turns acapella mid-way through the song.

I had a chance to see them live, and their show was nothing short of incredible. Their last two albums, however, were ‘serious’ trance, and not very interesting at all. And so, I mourned for the loss of yet another electronic act destroyed by a desire to be accessible.

Which brings me to Converting Vegetarians. This is a double-cd release, the first disc consisting of ‘old school’ Infected Mushroom tracks. Very blippy, goofy, and not at all self-involved. Fantastic, but not too interesting unless you’re a fan of the style (which I am). The second cd is mainstream trance, complete with uplifting synth lines, and cheesy female vocals. Chord progression, and all that. Fantastic, but not too interesting unless you’re a fan of the style (which I am not).

Overall, the album is excellently accomplished, and intelligent. Regardless of which style you prefer in your goa-slash-psytrance, there’s at least an hour of music you’ll enjoy. Listen to it.

Equilibrium

This is a first film by Kurt Wimmer, who wrote, directed, and kicked my ass. Seriously, this film would have been an instant sci-fi/dystopian classic if Dimension Films had marketed it whatsoever. I had never heard of it before I stumbled across it in a binaries newsgroup, and I thought it’d be a funny Matrix rip-off that’d be worth a few laughs. Instead, I got the ass-kicking.

This is simply one of the best movies I have ever seen. Visually, it’s beautiful. Set in an Orwellian post-war world, the visuals mix imposing real-life architecture (Hitler’s Olympic Stadium) with paintings instead of models, giving the setting a washed-out, surreal feel. The action sequences show the first real innovation in film gunfights since Bullet Time, or when Chow-Yun Fat first jumped onto a dolly with two handguns. All the actors are perfect (really, perfect) in their roles, and the lighting is the best I’ve seen since a Coen film.

Wimmer manages to do more with a ridiculously short shooting window and a tiny budget than most action directors have ever done. No distracting CGI, no wires (really – no wires), and for at least half the action sequences, no choreographer and no rehearsal time. The only thing more impressive than the movie itself is that it came out of production conditions terrible enough to sink most films.

In addition, the movie is brilliant. Obviously drawing from Bradbury, Huxley, P. K. Dick and other great dystopian writers, the world this movie is set in gives me the same chills that I felt the first time I read 1984. The plot is simple, but the narrative is complex, and repeated viewings reveal insight and subtleties into the motivations of the characters.

I’ve seen a dozen reviews that have called it the worst piece of cinema since Battlefield Earth, but I can’t say enough good things about this film. It’s science fiction, it’s dystopian literature, and it’s a fantastic action movie. Rent it. Buy it. If you can’t find it, I’ll give you a copy. Just watch it.

To Be Young, Gifted and Black

This week marks the passing of two great women. Nina Simone, who was known and loved throughout the world as a jazz singer and (more importantly) civil rights activist, and the less-known Anita Borg, a computer scientist who was one of the first people to recognize the digital divide, and work to ensure that emerging technologies don’t further stratify the underprivileged.

Their social awareness and willingness to act against explicit and implicit discrimination made the world a better place, and they will be missed.

Virtual Avenger speaks!

Matt Haughey ruminates on becoming an online dinosaur.

I’ve been online for most of my life, and so many of my first usernames were OS-dictated. bg414, jp0579, those kinds of things. Even when choosing my own username became possible (and later, when the eight-character limit was raised) I tended to keep things simple. I had one or two handles that I used regularly, but I never used my real name.

Only recently have I dropped the wall that I kept between my online life and my personal life (years of h/p/a/c/v BBSing taught me to never let any information follow you back to where you sleep), and I relate to a lot of the sentiments expressed in Matt’s journal.

Signing things as ‘Twiin’ just feels a bit more silly every day.