An interesting article about Macs

Internet, Mac Stuff 3 Comments

Apparently all the cool kids are starting to buy Macs. In my experience, this is true. Many of the people I hold near and dear are now using Macs as their primary computers. Many other people I know really, really want a Mac (likely a Mac mini to start). These are not purely arty types, either — we’re talking some high end hackers, here.

I am a recent convert, of course. Once upon a time, not so long ago, I said something along the lines of, “I hate iPods“. The problem, of course, was that I had never actually used one. Then, I did.

It was at that point that I realized that computers, portable gadgetry, and the software that runs it all doesn’t have to suck. This was a major revelation. Like suddenly experiencing a headache-free day after a lifetime of migraines. Now, of course, I love iPods. I also love iTunes. (I’m currently using iTunes to listen to David Byrne’s radio station.) I own my very own iPod (40g 4th generation) now. I have come alarmingly close to buying both an iPod mini and an iPod shuffle, but have managed to resist so far. If they ever issue an orange 6gb iPod mini, I will probably cave in.

This is where the halo effect kicks in (iHalo). Shortly after buying my iPod, I found myself buying a G5 PowerMac. A few months later, when I was changing jobs (finally), and was asked what sort of laptop I needed, I giddily requested a PowerBook. And thus, the conversion is complete. We are a pure Apple household at this point, save for two legacy Windows machines we keep around for gaming (but use less and less).

It’s not just because iPods are cool, of course. Macs are solid hardware running UNIX with a phenomenally well-designed and easy-to-use front end. They really are the best of all possible worlds, unless you start wading around in the ideological mosh pit surrounding free software. I’m not going to go there, however, since right now I’m just happy to have a computer that doesn’t suck.

Anyhow, if someone asked me what computer I would recommend, be it for hardcore hackery or simple web surfing, I would strongly suggest getting a Mac. Even more so now with Mac OSX Tiger on the way. Oh boy!

Another Rock Star

Internet, Music, People No Comments

Looks like Matthew Good brought his weblog back. It was sort of gone for a while, but now it’s back. I like Matt’s music. He also gets angry about things that people should generally get angry about. Also, he looks like Gordon Freeman.

David Byrne has a radio station

Music, People No Comments

Check it out over here, or, better yet, just pop open iTunes, hit the “Radio” list, and look for it under “Eclectic”.

Read David’s journal as well. He writes about things most of us will never have an opportunity to experience as if they were everyday occurrences. I think he looks good with grey hair.

My RSS Feed Link

General No Comments

I need to add a button for this, but for now, this is my RSS feed.

Please to be being not so full of yourselves…

Ranting No Comments


Dria Update

General, Ramblings No Comments

Haven’t been updating my blog(s) very regularly. The reason is simple: I’m busy. The new job has me doing more in less time than I’ve really attempted since, oh, The Puffin Group1. Between email (more in a month than I’ve had to deal with in the last year), planning, thinking, digging, writing, hacking, and dogfooding2, I’m a busy, busy girl. Happily, it’s all a lot of fun3.

My previous job, I’ve come to realize, was really draining me more than I thought. Between the daily rush-hour commutes on the gawdawful busses, the spirit-sucking and somewhat grimy cube farm, and the sheer powerlessness of my position within the organization, I was just burnt. I like being able to do good work. I like being busy. I like having the ability to solve problems and to put those solutions into action. Take those three things away and apparently I turn into a zombie drone like so many other people.

I wonder how much more we could accomplish, collectively, if we were a whole lot better of matching good people with useful work.

In other news, I got a new mouse for my laptop today. It’s a tiny little three-button bluetooth doodad with a scrollwheel. It’s very, very nice. It’s a Rad-Tech BT500, and it seems like a pretty solid purchase. Cute case, too.

I also paperworked like crazy today. Filed filed expenses, filed current expenses, sorted out travel insurance for my next trip (Apr 4-8, back in MV), made a doctor’s appointment, filed business purchase receipts, filed personal paperwork, and headed downtown to renew my health card. All of this inspired by the new stapler I bought this morning. I tried to find a red Swingline, but settled for a black one. Also got paperclips, staples, some envelopes, and a filing…er…box. Case. Thing. Anyhow, it’s all in order now. Just have to keep it that way.

Other than that, not much is going on. I’ve got a birthday coming up, at which point I’ll be 34. For some reason that seems sort of old. 33, not so much. The only other birthday I’ve felt like this was 27. I have no idea why. The “milestone” birthdays — 19, 20, 25, 30 — have all just blown by like nothing. For no apparent reason, 27 and 34 stick out.

That’s it. New mouse, new stapler, busy busy, birthday. My life is like partying 24 hours a day.

1: The Puffin Group was an Open Source consulting company I joined in 1999. My boss then happens to be the same guy who is my boss now. I guess I did something right.

2: Dogfooding is the process of actually using the tools you have built and/or chosen. I’ve been dogfooding like a maniac for the past week, and I’m pretty comfortable with the decisions I’ve made so far. Yay!

3: No job is all fun. As my dad says, “that’s why they call it ‘work’.”

Guess who’s not going to opt-in?

Microsoft No Comments

That’s right, me!

Microsoft fired another salvo Wednesday in its fight with Google and Yahoo for Internet supremacy, unveiling a new technology designed to capture online search advertising dollars.

The new tool will allow advertisers to buy not just keywords but also the demographics of the person searching on those keywords.

MSN can do that most effectively when the search is conducted by a registered user who has already provided some personal details to the site. MSN attracts more than 380 million unique users worldwide per month.

I like Google’s ad keywords. The idea of it does not offend me, and the results are unobtrusive and occassionally useful. But the second you start mixing my personal information into the equation, it stops being harmless. I don’t want anyone (particularly Microsoft, thank you) tracking, compiling, and recording my searches, attaching those to my personal profile, and then having the audacity to sell that to advertisers.


Personal identifying information is not included in the data dump.

I don’t care. I don’t want to give Microsoft any sort of marketable demographic data or anything that will give them more money than they already have. I just don’t like MS. Luckily, I can avoid the whole thing by just not signing up for or using any Microsoft services ever again. Happily, Turbine (the makers of Asheron’s Call) bought themselves back from Microsoft and no longer fall under the “MSN Passport” umbrella. That and MSN Messenger were the only reasons I had Microsoft-related online accounts, neither of which are any longer an issue.

Random Things I’m Looking Forward To…

Games, Internet, Television No Comments

I just stumbled across a random Dungeons and Dragons reference on the interweb, and it reminded me of something that I’ve been looking forward to since I was a D&D-playin’ C-64 hacking teenaged geekette: The ability to quickly and easily create modules for a computer version of D&D.

Once upon a time I, and legions of my like-minded brethren, believed that Bioware’s Neverwinter Nights was going to be all that and more. NWN did ship with a full editor suite, and the community has, over the past 3-4 years, produced some amazing modules and add-ons for the game. The editor, however, misses the mark for the “quickly” and “easily” parts of the equation by a very wide margin. I have spent altogether too many hours trying to create modules with the editor, but it is so clunky, anger-inducing, and esoteric that I have never been mule-headed enough to actually finish one. I strongly suspect that I’m not alone, and that’s with a decent technical/programming background. The best and most creative DMs I’ve known are not so technically minded, so the barrier to entry for those who would most benefit from such a tool is astronomically high.

So, the great promise of NWN never really bore fruit. People still use the editor, and more people do benefit from the results, but even so, the modules are prone to bugs (oh god, the bugs), crashing, lost save games, lost progress, and so much more. In the end, it’s a sad and frustrating system.

Here we are in 2005, surrounded by technology on all sides, and we’re still waiting for a game system that really puts the creative tools to make cool games in the hands of those who would best be able to use them.

Expanding on that, I look forward to the day where someone puts out a system that allows fledgling game-designer wannabes (like myself) to create persistent, massively-multiplayer game worlds. Sort of a NWN-like editor system (only significantly less painful to use) only for designing whole worlds and game systems that we can then host online. The “massively” part doesn’t even have to be that massive. Even if a world only hosts a maximum of 500 concurrent connections, that would be a good start. I strongly suspect this is a lot harder than I think, and I’m pretty sure it’s awfully hard. Someday someone will pull it off, and upon that day I will rejoice.

I’m also looking forward to the day where TV is less stupid and more like iTunes. I would happily pay for a service (either subscription, or piecemeal) that would let me download and view commercial-free TV shows on demand. Gleefully, I would pay for such a thing. Our current alternative, which is becoming very popular, is to not watch TV at all, but instead wait for TV shows to be released on DVD. We buy lots of TV shows on DVD and then watch them on our own schedule without the annoyance of having to fastforward through commercials. I’m hoping some giant mega-corporation comes up with a TV-on-demand service like this in the near future. There is TV out there worth watching, but the current delivery mechanism sucks.

Finally (for now): I’m looking forward to someone (probably Microsoft, since they own the rights) doing something interesting with the Shadowrun franchise. Think “Matrix Online” only gritter, cooler, and with 100% less Keanu Reeves. Mmm. And street shamans. Booyah.

Netty Thrashings

Internet No Comments

Three stories just jumped out at me (via RSS feed through ThunderBird).

First, Lawmakers: Hands off Web logs.

“Curtailing blogs and other online publications will dampen the impact of new voices in the political process and will do a disservice to the millions of voters who rely on the Web for original, insightful political commentary,” said the Online Coalition, a group of bloggers and online activists.

Second, Apple Wins Trade Secrets Legal Dispute.

A California judge on Friday ruled that three independent online reporters may have to divulge confidential sources in a lawsuit brought by Apple Computer Inc., ruling that there are no legal protections for those who publish a company’s trade secrets.

Free speech advocates and attorneys for the reporters criticized the ruling, insisting that all journalists should enjoy the same legal protections as reporters in mainstream newsrooms.

Third, and not related to the first two, AOL Eavesdrops, Grants Itself Permission To Steal Your AIM Conversations.

Although you or the owner of the Content retain ownership of all right, title and interest in Content that you post to any AIM Product, AOL owns all right, title and interest in any compilation, collective work or other derivative work created by AOL using or incorporating this Content. In addition, by posting Content on an AIM Product, you grant AOL, its parent, affiliates, subsidiaries, assigns, agents and licensees the irrevocable, perpetual, worldwide right to reproduce, display, perform, distribute, adapt and promote this Content in any medium. You waive any right to privacy. You waive any right to inspect or approve uses of the Content or to be compensated for any such uses.

Off the cuff, underinformed commentary?

First, I applaud the democratisation of the media. Big fan. With that, however, is the caveat: buyer beware. For every weblog out there that’s actually worth reading, there are 10,000 that suck (including this one). Informed reading is becoming increasingly important in this age of sound bites and 11 o’clock sensationalism. For example, don’t believe everything you read on Slashdot. Hoo boy.

Second, having a weblog doesn’t make you a journalist. If someone told me something he shouldn’t have because of an NDA, I would be a fool to think that I could claim the same protections as journalists if I published it on this website. Anyone with a computer and a phone line can set up a weblog in about 30 seconds, and that sure as hell shouldn’t afford them the same protections as accredited journalists. That seems to go against my favouring of the democratisation of the media, but not really. I just think that anyone who is going to claim to be a journalist better not be doing so just to save themselves some legal grief. Journalists have rights, yes, but they also have some responsibilities. If webloggers are going to claim the title of “journalist”, I think they should require some form of accreditation, if only so they understand that there are ethics and responsibilities involved.

Third, well, to the third I can only say, “thank god for IRC”. Might be time to set up a secure private network somewhere.

Nikon D70 vs Canon Digital Rebel XT

Photography No Comments

Good review over here, and I’m not just saying that because I’m a Nikon fan. The side-by-side comparison chart is worth the price of admission.

Naturally, I want a D-70. I just have absolutely no way to possibly justify that purchase any time soon :)

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