Monday, February 27, 2006

A Mostly Text Adventure

One of the many incarnations of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy was a text adventure game. Similar to "Adventure" or the original "Zork," if you were into this sort of thing in the very early nineties. The text adventure genre of game works like this...in a test screen much more vacant than a word document, a room will be described to you. Then you type into the computer what you want to do. Like...

You wake up and the room is spinning. It is dark.


And then you type in...

Turn on light.


And then the computer tells you,

The light is on. You are in your bedroom.


And the interactions progress like that. I downloaded the free text version of the hitchhiker game once, and, after running into this link from digg.com to 1up.com...ran into a spiffy version of that exact same text adventure game from oh so long ago. Except it does have some graphics and a flashy interface...but the text content, far as I can tell, is just about the same.

Where Time Stops.

You walk in...you hang...you walk out...and you realize that 5 hours have elapsed in the time you've been there. Three places spring to mind in this category:

1. Webster Cafe

 

If you leave the Tinker when it closes, and then you eat at Webster's, it will be near daybreak when you leave. Or at least, that tends to be the case for me. Because I tend to forget that a usual sit down and eat process at a restaurant can take about an hour. So, 3:30 plus 1 hour = 4:30. Not only that, but add some amount of chattiness or an interesting conversation. And that 1 hour becomes an hour and a half, perhaps even more...so 3:30 plus 1.5 hours becomse 5:00 becomes, you may be able to catch Pete's opening on the other side of campus.




2. FET

 

The only windows there are painted black. How can one expect to know what time it is.

3. Hoffman 2423 Apt 3 Common Room

  Posted by Picasa

There is an occupational hazard to having a space where time stops that is right outside of your bedroom. Taking a break from a paper, or for folks who didn't live there, visiting from on campus...the time tends to expand...and then all of a sudden, it's 5AM.

Part nostalgia, part observation, part, me having fun uploading pictures through Picasa.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

where iPod/Tunes goes wrong...

I'm a self admitted mac/apple fiend. Despite not owning any of their products. All the same, though, here's a blogger who makes a pretty good case against apple or using iTunes. I don't know if I totally buy into it, sure. And he sounds pretty angry. But at the same time, he makes a good point.



Basically, what Apple has done, is-- under the guise of "Digital Rights Management," that is...making sure that artists get paid for their work, as opposed to piracy (in which they get nothing but fame and recognition)-- they charge $0.99 per song, for songs that can only play on an iPod. Now, technically, you can (as I do), burn your songs to a CD, and then load the newly encoded mp3 format songs onto your non-apple mp3 player. However, only an iPod will allow the smooth movement between online music store, to music player, to your ears.



On the other hand, Microsoft publishes a format entitled "Plays-for-Sure," which they've licensed to nearly any mp3-player-maker that will ask for it. SO, if you download something from any music store that uses plays-for-sure (from what I understand, anything but iTunes music store), it will most likely play on whatever mp3 player you buy. And there are TONS out there. Many worse, some comparably good, to the iPod. The main hitch-- under the guise of digital rights management, iTunes does not allow you to play their music on any player except for the one that they own.



And not to draw analogies out too far, but there is a certain operating system, that runs on...90% of computers in the world, without which, many, and nearly most, mainstream programs, will not run. That's "Windows," the supposed dark side, as opposed to Apple- the light side alternative to dark Win-doze users! So let's get this straight...when you're generous to license your software to tons of manufacturers, such taht you accumulate a 90% market share...you're the dark side. When you're the 5% minority, then you're the light side alternative.



Now. The market share values for iPods, especially the hard drive iPods (30GB, 60GB) is somewhere close to 80%. How can Apple continue to claim being the "light side" when their market share of the portable music player market nears the supposedly oppressive market share of Windows on PCs? Granted, Apple isn't making this standard, or comparison, but for a company that proclaims to be "all about the music" when it comes to iPods and the iTunes Music Store, it seems to be qualified. All about the music-- as long as Apple continues to sell iPods.



And as far as the iTunes Music Store goes, taking a page from the blogger above...and my own undersatnding, from what I've read about Apple....yes, we pay the iTunes Music Store $0.99 per song. Apple makes nearly nothing, barely pennies, on the songs that they sell on iTunes (which just recently hit the "billion songs" mark). So they make pennies, the record companies make pennies...where does the money get made? Some place else, some place else that has higher profit margins-- someplace outside the iTunes Music Store, and that's the iPod. As referenced in the book Apple Confidential 2.0, the iTunes Music Store is a vehicle for selling more iPods. And it's working.



And that won't stop me from buying one. Why?


Because there is no comparable, as simply efficient chocie

.

Friday, February 24, 2006

On prolonged Fordham Commencement exercises...

You know, we wouldn't have to deal with this if Rob had gone to the University of Phoenix.

- Mike Nguyen

Thursday, February 16, 2006

LOTR: The Musical






The Lord of the Rings: The Musical.

Like the Tony Danza show, its existence, while somewhat probable, is still surprising.

I believe it has already started its run in Toronto, and will have an official press "opening" in late March. I am personally not certain what the difference means exactly. According to news sites, it involves a cast of 55, and is 3.5 hours long. It is already contracted to move to London in '07, and potentially moving to New York in the years to come. I am wholly not certain how I quite feel about this, especially since, with the movies so close in mind, anything "musically" related, I'd expect to have something of the original film score. This is most likely not the case.

The wikipedia article says that stage/play adaptations have gone on before, with fairly favorable reviews for the last two plays in the three play sequence. This one though...musicals are pretty crazy enough, combining musical theater with Lord of the Rings, I'm not quite sure how seriously I could take it. I mean, yes, wizards, dwarves and goblins could be a little ridiculous (if you're not inclined to enjoy such a thing), but seeing them live on stage singing and dancing might be a little tougher to swallow.

It doesn't mean I'm not curious. It just means I may be hesitant to plop down the dollars. Or take a bus to Toronto.

Who IS the boss?

The Tony Danza Show

Funny because, for one, it exists.

For two, click on the website.


...

Rizzo was good enough to point out a question that did not arise in my brain when I first viewed the site: Why is Tony Danza on a Vespa?

If digg.com the website didn't do it for you...

If you go to the iTunes Music Store, and then search "DiggNation" under podcasts, you'll probably run into one of the more interesting pieces of video/tv type programming that I've seen in a while.

PS: this is a...if you heard the story about the guys with laptops and beer, skip this...

But basically, each episode, Kevin Rose (founder of digg.com) and Alex Albrecht (another host previously from Tech TV) will go through the top stories from digg and talk about them. In some sense, it's a news show from bringing up those issues (usually technology, computer, or science oriented); otherwise, it's a talking heads commentary kind of thing. Enough to be entertaining.

Anyway, if you're just screwing around on the internet or answering your e-mail, might as well start up something like DiggNation to just run in the background. Either download the most recent episode to see what the weekly business is like; or download the Christmas/Thanksgiving episode, to get a clip show of some of the top stories.

The podcasts also do NPR type stuff, CNN, big companies...then there's tons of other crap type stuff that just started once or only has one or two episodes. DiggNation is a guaranteed new episode every week.

Actually, if you're not into the DiggNation/computer type stuff, search for the Ricky Gervais Podcast. Ricky Gervais and Steve Merchant (co-creators of The Office), along with another guy that's there for the ride-- it's pretty funny.

When White Castle Gets Old...

Am in no position at all to make recommendations, BUT, if I were to leave recommendations here for any folks who have had a similar amount of cooking experience as myself, I'd say something like the following...

1. 99 cent bags of pasta, available in the frozen foods section.
- It's cheap.
- You boil the water, you put in the pasta.
- Typically, you take it out before it's too soft, otherwise, it'll just get soggy.
- Comes in many varieties. Watch for the ravioli or tortellini, they're a bit salty, so don't add any.

2. Tomato Sauce: 39 cents or so per can.
- about one can of sauce per 99 cent bag.
- Yes, Ragu and other thicker sauces may be tastier or more nutritious. But we're talking budget eating here.
- If you don't have sauce (like me, right now), try pouring olive oil over the pasta, and then adding seasoning like salt/pepper/basil/oregano. Better than just eating the stuff with nothing on it.

3. Vegetable on hand and on demand.
- Frozen packs: 99 cents, again, probably cheaper than the canned variety.
- Same principle as pasta when it comes to cooking.

4. Spam.

- You laugh, you cry, but ultimately, it will let you eat.
- For whatever reason, at home in the Philippines, it was common practice to
fry slices of spam and have them with fried rice for breakfast or lunch.
Since this never induced a spam-gag reaction from anyone in that context, I
did not import it back over to this side of the pacific.

5. Carbohydrates (also on demand)

- I tried to get away from rice when I came to college. Then I realized, it costs
less than going to McDonald's once. And it'll feed you for a while.
- You boil it.
- Mashed potatoes:
- If you're something of a purist, the big can full of flakes is a sin, BUT,
when you don't have time to boil and whip fresh potatoes, this will fill the
stomach craving moderately well. Especially if you've gotten tired of rice.

6. Meat
- This is where it gets tricky. There are few ways to quickly, easily cook meat, and if you take the boil water-put-it-in approach, like for most of the materials above, you will be sorely disappointed and hungry for at least an hour or more to come.
- My brother Mike once described the "stir fry" as the bachelor's best friend-- if you want to cook meat quickly, that or broiling may be the best option. Fry it in a pan, but under low heat so that you don't scorch the outside without cooking the inside.
- Lesson I learned from cooking in Walsh: Do not expect to take a frozen steak, defrost it, and fry it all in one go. These things take time. Also, when making chili, don't buy dried kidney beans.

7. Hamburger Helper, other prepared foods...
- Like anything here, probably not great on the health spectrum, and I'm guessing they cost more. Doesn't mean it doesn't taste good.

8. Wine or Beer

- Particularly the wine...makes whatever your eating...feel slightly classier. Some sort of bottle if you do that sort of thing, a hefty box of Franzia if you're looking towards a more long term (and economically sound) investment.

Friday, February 10, 2006

The Olympic Ceremonies

Or as I like to call it, an excuse to do something extraordinarily weird, in front of lots and lots of people.

Remember the procession in Greece with the people as plastic half-living statues?

Monday, February 06, 2006

A not so super dining receptacle?

I've seen some super bowls in my time. In fact, pretty much the last four. I'd have to rate the most exciting, as Super Bowl 2002. The Patriots were playing. Someone named Bledsoe was important. Larry Holmes was going nuts, and as a bonus nostalgia feature, Bec, T, and Coll were there, along with my favorite I-liked-you-four-years-ago smirnoff ice. But you know, despite being in Good Company (as the Chris Rock movie by the same name is entitled) this time...not much of a clincher. Some sort of score from 10 - 14 or close...between...people from Seattle...and people from...Pittsburgh. And it didnt' really get me. I feel like most close superbowls, or the ones that are "good," are engaging at some sort of visceral level. Like two armies, going to the battlefield, you don't know who's going to come out on top, and some how, the sheer adrenaline, testosterone, or whatever, keeps you going. This one. Not so much. Two thumbs down, and try to entertain me more next time, billion dollar sports franchise(s).

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Headphones. Accessory?

At one point during a family trip to Washington, I was wearing a Hawaiian shirt and a pair of headphones. Attached to nothing. This was my notion of being artsy and hip.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

I'll have a double quarter-pounder with fries, please.


It's like taking a soggy hunk of matter and placing it into your stomach.

Then gargling with vegetable oil.