Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Anyone want to get me a present?

My birthday's next month. Anyone out there in internet land want to get me a present? *grin*

There are a couple of blades that I have my eye on (hint hint) lol

Italian Bastard Sword
German Backsword (and it's on sale :P)

No, I don't really expect anyone out there to get one for me, but I wouldn't turn my nose up at them if they arrived on my doorstep (my address is on my site linked in the sidebar lol)

Current mood: amused
Current music: Joydrop - I Sometimes Wanna Die

Sunday, April 27, 2008

But we’re *supposed* to hate you!

Today, the local paper reported that one of the high schools in the area had a group which celebrated the National Day of Silence (an annual day of action in the United States to protest the bullying and harassment of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) students, and their supporters.)

Personally, I support this sort of demonstration. I’m tired of people getting bullied and harassed for things like this.

The locals hit the roof.

There’s something you have to understand about this region. I know I’ve said it before, but this area is extremely isolationist. In addition, while there are many very nice people here (really there are), there are a lot of extraordinarily intolerant ones. Racism and hate of various groups is frighteningly common in this part of the state.

The really frightening thing, though, is the fact that, not only do these people feel justified in holding these views (and acting on them), but they try to claim anyone who opposes their hatred and intolerance is trying to repress their rights.

Take for example a very telling comment on the paper’s discussion board regarding the article (copied verbatim without any editing):

The pro-gay lifestyle people are constantly preaching tolerance for their way of life...yet don't believe in tolerance themselves. This area is a huge part of the Bible belt of the midwest. A lot of people here are God fearing Christians who take the Bible to heart. The Bible says that homosexuality is abomination before God. Your asking millions of people to disregard their core beliefs and values just so you don't get your feelings hurt. WHile you feel the names you throw around are hurtful..maybe the rest of us don't like the names you throw back at us. If you want to preach tolerance..learn tolerance yourself.

That’s right. This person, whose views on the subject are pretty much the same as a large portion of the population in the area, is saying that by not tolerating his hatred and disgust of gay people and the actions that he performs because of that hatred, we’re being intolerant of him (and his religion) and that we should let him do whatever he wants to whoever he wants.

Sorry, kiddies, but it doesn’t work that way. You don’t get to scream “but it’s my religion to hate gays!” (and if you try it around me, well, let’s just say that the consequences aren’t happy. Some of my very best friends have been/still are in the GBLT community).

Welcome to southern Ohio - where, if you’re different than we are, we’ll beat you with our Bible Belt and then scream that you hate Christianity because you try to stop us.

*slams head against the desk a few times*

Current mood: Annoyed doesn’t even cover it
Current music: AFI – The Killing Lights

Monday, April 14, 2008

And Now A Message From Our Sponsors.

No, I’m not really being paid for this, but I know it’ll come off sounding like an advertisement. =]

I enjoy the occasional game. I never really got into most of the newer systems, though (I’m way too much of a casual gamer anymore), so I set up an entertainment center computer with my favorite older consoles on it (NES, SNES, Sega, etc etc etc).

I’d been using a Microsoft Sidewinder Pro USB game pad that I picked up ages ago (we’re talking like 8 or 9 years ago, so I more than got my money out of it) as the controller. Well, a few weeks ago, the D-pad started sticking, so I needed a new controller.

There were a couple of things that I didn’t like about the Sidewinder. First, the button configuration, while *great* for Sega games wasn’t so hot for Nintendo consoles. Second, the D-pad was at a bit of an angle, which made some games a bit more difficult.

Since I tend to play the Nintendo consoles more than the Sega ones, I decided to get an Xbox 360 controller from Joytech at the local big box retailer (Hey, it was $20-25 as opposed to the Microsoft one that was about twice that much and I’m cheap :P ) because the button setup is perfect for Nintendo consoles.

The D-pad sucks, but that’s okay because I’ve taken to using the stick anyway. It takes a little getting used to because the stick is insanely sensitive, but it’s an absolute *blast* to play Mario Kart with. =]

I think what I want to do is get another one of the Joytech controllers for player 2 on the Nintendo consoles and find a few more Sidewinder Pro pads for the Sega games, 3do, and keep a couple in reserve for backups.

In the meantime I’ll slide myself silly in Mario Kart and see if I can clean my old Sidewinder.

Current mood: tired
Current music: Del Leppard - Photograph

Friday, April 11, 2008

Let Your Kids Be Kids

Bruce Schneier pointed out a news story today in which a mother let her 9 year old take the subway home by himself (at the kid’s request).

Normally, the people who comment on Bruce’s blog hold great contempt for security theater and the like. However, it seems that not even they are immune to “think of the children”.

Apparently in their opinion, and the opinions of far far too many others, children should be wrapped in bubble wrapped and locked in a padded room until they’re 18.

Give me a break. At 9, I was roaming all over my hometown as well as camping by myself on the farm my family owns (about 350 acres with quite a bit of woods) and roaming the neighboring farmlands.

Heck, man. At that age, I missed the bus a couple of times and walked the probably mile and a half or two miles to school, getting there before the bus did.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with giving your kid a bit of independence, yet it seems like every generation is more restrictive when it comes to their children than the generation before it.

There was a time when kids used to play outside all day with other kids and still make it home for dinner. Now it seems like parents freak when the kids are outside for 5 minutes.

The common argument is generally that the world is more dangerous now, but I don’t buy it. The world really isn’t any more dangerous for kids or adults than it was when my parents were children or when their parents were (you get the idea). Some of the dangers may be different, and they’re certainly more publicized in order to capitalize on fear, but it’s not really any more dangerous now.

Do yourself, and your kids, a favor – teach them self confidence, make sure they have a good head on their shoulders, teach them to be aware of their surroundings and not to have blind trust in people, let them train in martial arts if they’re interested, give them a bit of encouragement, have some faith in them, and send them out into their world to explore, play, and be kids. They’ll come home in time for dinner.

It doesn’t mean that you don’t care about their wellbeing. Quite the opposite, actually, because you’ll be helping them to be more self reliant people.

This sort of thing is important. Part of being a kid is learning to push your boundaries until you find your real boundaries. Sure, you might get a few cuts and scrapes, but those heal. Most of life’s lessons aren’t learned by sitting inside, sheltered from the world, and your kids will need them when they’re finally out there on their own.

Current mood: calm
Current music: Alice Cooper - Poison

Thursday, April 10, 2008

The Next Big Thing

The latest Dr Dobbs showed up in my mailbox today (or, according to my clock, yesterday. I really need to work on this insomnia problem.).

I find it an interesting magazine. Granted, it used to have more content when I was first given a copy in college by one of my professors, but it’s still a decent publication.

The article that’s caught my attention so far is the interview with Paul Jansen, managing director of TIOBE Software. He makes some interesting comments.

First off, since his company tries to measure the popularity of programming languages, he apparently gets a lot of very passionate emails from programmers who are upset that their favorite language isn’t higher on the list.

This doesn’t surprise me a great deal. After all, there are way too many holy wars in programming – vi vs emacs, C# vs Java, Perl vs Ruby vs Python, etc etc etc.

Second, he states that C and C++ seem to be losing ground. This I can agree with, but I only sort of agree with his reason as to why this is happening. In his opinion, it’s because languages without automatic garbage collection are falling out of fashion since the performance hit garbage collection causes is now outweighed by the memory problems introduced by sloppy programming.

I agree with this statement for most applications. However, I don’t see C and C++ going away any time soon for a few reasons.

  • There’s a LOT of legacy C and C++ code out there.
  • Some applications will always need the speed and close to the metal control that C and C++ give you.
  • Embedded programming (while a lot of it is done in ASM, a fair amount is done in C or C++ as well from what I understand).
  • Operating systems – in addition to needing close to the metal access, it seems sort of silly to bootstrap a CLR or VM (depending on if you’re a .NET or Java fan) in order to run the OS on top of it. It’s a layer of complexity and set of performance issues that we just don’t need.

Yes, I realize that virtualization is being used successfully now, but that’s a layer above what I’m talking about. As it stands, you have Hardware -> OS -> VM. If you went with the current forerunners in the garbage collected programming world, it would be Hardware -> CLR/JVM -> OS -> VM.

This leads me to his last statement/prediction.

He thinks that, in five years, there will be two main languages – Java and C# (followed closely by VB) and that he foresees no new language paradigm.

I’m not sure that I’d agree with that for the simple fact that this profession tends to change pretty quickly. I honestly wouldn’t discount “The Next Big Thing” displacing the current giants.

Then again, we have to keep in mind that most magazines which cater to industries aren’t in the business of reporting trends, but rather creating them – by seeing something often enough and in enough places, people start to think that it’s the next big thing and end up making it so.

As much as many of us may deny it, people are, by and large, still pack/tribe creatures. Part of that is “belonging”, and that means that we tend to follow the trends we think others like us are following.

It’s a survival mechanism (and an easily exploitable one if you know how).

Current mood: tired
Current music: iiO - Rebel

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Local Companies and Visibility

Over the past few months, I’ve learned that this sleepy little town is the home to the corporate offices of both The Kitchen Collection and Petland.

To say that I was surprised was a bit of an understatement. In fact, I found it kind of bizarre. Even more so because it doesn’t seem to be common knowledge around here, and you’d think that it would be.

It’s a town of about 25,000 people. The fact that two chains are headquartered here (and one of them with stores in several countries) should be kind of in your face…

I mean, I knew there was a building just off of Bridge St with a Petland sign, but I always just assumed that it was a distribution center or something since it really doesn’t look like it should be an office building. As for The Kitchen Collection, it’s a smaller chain, but it should still be more visible than it is.

Why bring this up (other than the WTF factor, of course)?

Because the local paper had an update that The Kitchen Collection is moving their distribution center from New Jersey to the local area.

I view this as a positive thing on the jobs side, and I hope that it benefits the community. I also think it makes sense from a practical standpoint – it will be easier to keep tabs on distribution and Ohio is a much more central location for shipping than New Jersey.

Hopefully this works out well for all involved.

Current mood: tired
Current music: Billy Joel – We Didn’t Start The Fire