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Comment: 1986, X10, in the WEB at Berkeley (not www) (Score 1) 204

by amacbride (#47278023) Attached to: X Window System Turns 30 Years Old

The Workstations in Evans Basement (WEB), on a bunch of diskless Sun 4/50s running X10 with uwm.

Once I got settled in, I started running X11(R1? R2?) with a custom root window bitmap and fielded lots of questions from other undergrads about how I'd done it. I later worked at Sun on XNeWS and DeskSet, among other things.

Even to this day, I use X's network transparency, though mostly just for xterms at this point.

Comment: Really, not news. (Score 1) 372

by amacbride (#44573021) Attached to: New Tech Money, Same Old Problems

SF has always been a bedroom community for Silicon Valley, to some extent: I moved to SF from the Peninsula in '93.

Caltrain is simply not capable of being a full solution to the problem of getting people out of their cars, so the buses are a very reasonable solution. I'm lucky enough that my company moved to SF this year, so it's Muni every day for me. (Sometimes a mixed blessing!)

Not to be too cynical, but San Franciscans will always have something to complain about. My grandmother didn't like all the "new development" out in the Sunset, which since it happened in the 1920s gives you some perspective. I love my crowded quirky little city, and certainly don't begrudge the Apple, Google, and Genentech buses in my neighborhood, though I do wish they'd coexist better with Muni.

I sort of laugh at the people being shocked at "houses built right next to each other": um, have you never been to a city before? (I'm talking about Paris, Manhattan, London, or Tokyo, not someplace spread out like Phoenix.) We have the density but not the height, lots of trees and parks, and many neighborhoods are very walkable.

In short: cities are dense, people like to complain, and private mass transit is good at moving people from once place to another.

Comment: Re:Not to quibble, but... (Score 1) 164

Um, in the very first sentence:

Stanley Kubrick's most popular and enduring film is 2001: A Space Odyssey, a work he co-wrote with noted Science Fiction author Arthur C. Clark. It's considered among the best in the genre.

Sorry to sound snarky, but that combined with the initial quote didn't start me off with a particularly favorable impression. I reject the premise that there is "commercial film" as opposed to "real film": there is a continuum of works, making use of various techniques to a greater or lesser extent.

Furthermore, I think 2001 the film works precisely because of the tension between Clarke's fundamentally optimistic view of human nature, and Kubrick's pessimistic one.

Comment: Meh. (Score 2) 523

I honestly lost interest after Cataclysm. I was never a particularly hardcore player (much more interested in solo and PVE than raiding), but I got tired of continually having to respec my talent tree, and once total specialization was enforced, I just gave up. I _liked_ being able to use any and all of arcane, fire, and frost on my main.

The thing about it (and this may sound silly) is that I became very attached to "old" Azeroth (I started playing long before the first expansion). Even though it wasn't as bustling as before, it was still beautiful and nostalgic. When I saw Loch Modan destroyed...it was like someone had bombed Disneyland. My heart just went out of it.

Comment: Re:I'd be excited about this movie, except... (Score 1) 470

by amacbride (#43659777) Attached to: <em>Ender's Game</em> Trailer Released

The most fascinating part of this, for me, is that I connected with Ender's Game more easily as a young adolescent precisely because I was gay and understood how harsh and how quickly a child has to grow up. I also understood empathizing with my enemy, my enemy not understanding the degree of harm he was doing to me, and not trusting adults or authorities. I also keenly felt the idea of being tested in subtle ways, in manipulating adults and politics with their own fears, and deeply appreciated the affects of demagoguery before I even knew what it was called. I felt like Orson Scott Card so deeply understood the plight of being a bright, homosexual child with more self-awareness and introspection than many an adult, that I was shocked to find out that he was so antagonistic to it. This was after I read Speaker of the Dead which seems to so perfectly capture that sensation of oppression.

I had exactly the same experience, and so his gradual devolution is all the more shocking. I read Treason and was struck by how sensitively he captured the deep friendship between Lanik and Helmut; it's almost impossible to reconcile with his truly vehement anti-gay statements. There's a good article in Salon that goes into a bit more depth.

Bottom line, I'm really torn about the movie; I loved the book, but the idea that I would contribute one more penny to this guy really rubs me the wrong way.

Comment: No. (Score 1) 555

by amacbride (#40835891) Attached to: Is Phoenix the Next Silicon Valley?

Even if you were to ignore the universities (Berkeley, Stanford, UCSF), the high-tech economy, the VC ecosystem, and every other good man-made thing about the Bay Area, there are still two fundamentals: gorgeous natural settings, and weather. Those aren't going away even if (when) the economy tanks, and those are two things that give property values some resilience. It's fundamentally a nice place to live.

(Something for everyone: cool and pleasant in SF, toasty and pleasant on the Peninsula.)

When property values dipped in 2007-2009, people who've lived here for a decent amount of time pretty much just shrugged and decided to wait it out.

Even with the hassles (too many people, too much traffic, the occasional pesky earthquake), it's one of very few places in the US that attracts the depth and breadth of technical talent that's required for a thriving high-tech ecosystem. (I'd put Boston, Seattle, and maybe Austin on that list as well.) All of those are also well-known as tolerant and reasonably-diverse cites.

Phoenix? Nice to visit, but not even in the same class.

If you have to ask how much it is, you can't afford it.

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