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User Journal

Journal Journal: Driving in the Northwest 2

We've been getting unusual weather here in the Northwest recently. It snowed last Wednesday - which is unusual, but not unheard of. However, since then, the snow hasn't melted much at all. In fact, it's snowed twice more, and is snowing right now. We're not talking a lot - an inch here, a half-inch here. But the Northwest isn't prepared to deal with it. They don't salt the roads, and there aren't many plows. Many of the roads have just had to have the snow and ice get worn away from cars. Which doesn't always work...

...and some people don't know how to deal with the conditions. Definitely worth a view.

I hope that first person was massively ticketed - there's not knowing how to drive on snow and ice, and then there's being insanely reckless and dangerous.

United States

Journal Journal: Are you a Democrat, Republican, or a Southerner?


Are you a Democrat, Republican or Southerner?

Here is a little test that will help you decide.

The answer can be found by posing the following question:

You're walking down a deserted street with your wife and two small children.

Suddenly, an Islamic Terrorist with a huge knife comes around the corner,

locks eyes with you, praises Allah, raises the knife, and charges at you.

You are carrying a Glock cal 40, and you are an expert shot.

You have mere seconds before he reaches you and your family. What do you do?

Democrat's Answer:

Well, that's not enough information to answer the question!

Does the man look poor! Or oppressed?

Have I ever done anything to him that would inspire him to attack?

Could we run away?

What does my wife think?

What about the kids?

Could I possibly swing the gun like a club and knock the knife out of his hand?

What does the law say about this situation?

Does the Glock have appropriate safety built into it?

Why am I carrying a loaded gun anyway, and what kind of message does this send
to society and to my children?

Is it possible he'd be happy with just killing me?

Does he definitely want to kill me, or would he be content just to wound me?

If I were to grab his knees and hold on, could my family get away while
he was stabbing me?

Should I call 9-1-1?

Why is this street so deserted?

We need to raise taxes, have a paint and weed day and make this happier,
healthier street that would discourage such behavior.
This is all so confusing! I need to debate this withsome friends for few
days and try to come to a consensus.

Republican's Answer: BANG!

Southerner's Answer:


                        (sounds of reloading).


Daughter: "Nice grouping, Daddy! Were those the Winchester Silver Tips or Hollow Points?

Son: Can I shoot the next one!

Wife: You ain't taking that to the Taxidermist!
User Journal

Journal Journal: Revisiting Pitchfork

A friend and I are reviewing the top 50 albums from 2004 and 2005 as chosen by Pitchfork Media in an attempt to not only expand our music consciousness, but figure out if Pitchfork is the indie music messenger of the gods or a overrated poorly written music review site. We call ourselves "Useful Noise." We do 4 albums at a time, and you can check it out on Live Journal, Myspace, or a static version on my home page.

User Journal

Journal Journal: My fonts are back

Finally Slashdot changes the font to plain sans-serif. Now it looks much better. Thanks!
This invalidates my previous entry.


Journal Journal: PS3 Slow and Broken? 2

Just saw a pointer to an interesting article, and wanted to share this one with people.

If the story is correct, it looks like the PS3 hardware is slow and broken. If the numbers show are correct, the cell processor reads from local memory 250x slower than it writes - making it all but useless. Kind of a big oversight, you might say. Assuming these are true, the PS3 will cost a lot more than the 360 yet be much less powerful. If this is true, it's pretty much a two-horse race now in this generation.

(Note that I'm not submitting this as a story just because I'm a member of the Xbox team, and don't want to go down that road. I'll let someone else determine if it's worth sharing.)

User Journal

Journal Journal: This looks terrible

Thanks Slashdot, for getting rid of my beautiful anti-aliased fonts. Now I am truly reading Slashdot from 1994 on my Cello web browser. You'll be getting my eye doctor bill, Taco.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Slashdot reports fake news story, doesn't^H^H^H correct it 2

Edit: Slashdot issued a slashback. I was too late in submitting mine, but I still like mine better.

Regarding this article:

This news story is pretty clearly either a hoax or a result of massive stupidity. Sony was showing off Blu-ray and had two laptops A-Bing the new technology. But an intrepid BLOGGER went up to the Blu-ray laptop and hit "Eject" - and out came a plain old DVD+R!!! Holy shenanigans, Batman! How incriminating!

Except he was looking at the WRONG LAPTOP. Not only does an outside source identify the laptop Gearbox pointed out as the "plain DVD" ( but THEY THEMSELVES HAVE A PICTURE OF THE DVD+R - and don't say a word about "faking" a demo.

So it's pretty clearly a wrong story. But SM posts:
"Independent confirmation or negation has yet to surface, so take with the requisite grain of salt required when reading any news."

People make fun, but the editorial staff is pretty good; they just make mistakes that end up on the front page. CmdrTaco is actually a pretty bright guy. I've met him (briefly) and he says smart things on Slashdot a lot. But repeating misinformation like this is actually damaging, and really really dumb.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Bra ads... on Slashdot? 8

Just a quick note to say that I am utterly STUMPED why I'd be seeing Lane Bryant bra ads here on Slashdot. You want to talk about not hitting the target audience...

On a side note, I've just taken a new position here at Microsoft with a new team. I'll update about that soon, but it's definitely something I'm very excited about!

XBox (Games)

Journal Journal: Submitted Story: Geometry Wars Leads Xbox Live Arcade Charg 1

As usual, I like to post any stories I submit in my journal, just so at least a few people can see it...

The Live Arcade on the original Xbox was ignored by just about everyone who owned that console, However, the updated version on the Xbox 360 is getting a totally different reception, spearheaded by the popular Geometry Wars, an old-school style 2-D shooter in the vein of Robotron: 2084 that has eye candy deserving of a next-gen title - all for $5. The demo has been downloaded 200,000 times - an impressive number for a console that's still in very short supply. With Street Fighter II coming this spring - decked out with a ton of online features - might Live Arcade be the 360's Halo?

PlayStation (Games)

Journal Journal: Story Submission: Sony Says No PS3 Online Service 2

EDIT: This story has been accepted!

Online gaming fans are going to have to look past the PS3 to get their fix - Sony has announced that they are not doing a cental service for PS3 online gaming. Instead, it will be done in the same manner as the PS2, where each company decides what effort to put into it. Considering how weak the online support has been for the PS2, this may not bode well for Sony, especially with more and more rumours that they won't be launching until at least the 2006 holidays.

I have to admit that I'm only partially disappointed about this. The gamer part of me wants the PS3 to be a great console, and online gaming has become very important in what I look for since I started playing on Xbox Live. Knowing that there's not going to be any complete service that lets me track friends between games and such is a let-down.

However, the part of me that is a Microsoft employee and Xbox 360 fan is celebrating, because it means that the Xbox is going to slaughter the PS3 among people looking for online play. The online features of the 360 really have blown me away from the demos I've seen and the information I know.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Insanity in Utah... 1

Recently, a "rave" was busted in Utah. No big deal, right? This happens all the time, right?

Not like this.

"Around 11:30pm or so i noticed a helicopter flying above the main stage of the event. At this point i am confused. The chopper began to come in closer to the stage with a search light focused on the crowd. I got nervous and still very confused and walked over to find my two friends I had arrived with earlier. Just as soon as i did that I looked over at my friend and asked "whats going on". That is when I was greeted by a man in full army attire, gas mask and all. He said to leave. I said what whats going on, at which point i was brutally attacked. Thrown to the ground and in the scuffle punched in the face by swat. That was not it either. I suppose i posed some a threat as another swat member rushed over to subdue me to the ground puting his knee in my back and arresting me. At that point I am screaming to a patron "whats going on?" He is just as confused as I am. At that point another swat member came over and kicked me in the leg. Let me tell you that I also only weigh 130 pounds. I had three grown men attack and beat me and throw me to ground for absolutely no reason at all. Not to mention being dragged to a van and violently being tossed in and taken to jail. Fined for resisting arrest and another outrageous charge. I do need to mention also that while this is all happening to me at the same time my two friends, a boy and girl were trying to reach out and stop them, at that point they were attacked and arrested as well."

Read about it at Metafilter and Everything2.

I don't do those dance parties - not only have I never been to one, I've never even had the chance. But with the disgusting police-state actions the Utah Police have taken, I have to help spread the word about the horrid mistreatment they've perpetrated, and the lies they're telling about the whole thing.

User Journal

Journal Journal: My First Troll! 7

Looks like I have a troll following me around now...

Apparently he has an issue with me commenting about the Xbox 360.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Noooo!

So I made this joke (which you should NOT READ if you dislike SPOILERS of any kind and are really good at codebreaking. And haven't read the 6th Harry Potter book. And intend to. And somehow managed to get this far without the ending getting spoiled anyway by the various internet trolls who take sick pleasure in the dismay of strangers): and yea, it did please me as excessively nerdy and pleasantly obscure.

Little throwaway crap.

But it does have another purpose: I intend it to be the last pointless comment I make on the internet. Go ahead and scoff. No, seriously, it's scoffworthy. But no: certainly I've little doubt that it will not be the last piece of text detritus I leave cluttering up the infosphere that will be found to be without point to many who read it. Rather, this:

Well, it started a long time ago. I'm a text addict and so the internet to me is like a cocaine powdered donut with a little television stuffed in the hole. So the other day I happened across this guy...

Now the guy himself is a little bit boringly controversial I guess, which I wouldn't expect to last. But anyway, I did think his tagline was good:

"Being a good writer is 3% talent, 97% not being distracted by the Internet."

I dunno if I am or will ever be a good writer. About, oh, 4 years ago I gave up on the (handwritten print) journal I'd kept for about 15 years, almost daily for nearly a decade of that, thousands upon thousands of virtually illegible pages, one day as I was getting towards the last pages of a book I thought (not for the first time) "why am I writing this?" and having no compelling answer, stopped.

My experience in the years that followed convinced me that I'd never stop being a writer, in the sense of being a person who regularly generated text, whether I liked it or not. And generally I do like it, although like (I imagine - or perhaps just selfishly hope -) probably everybody who has spilled a lot of text on thee olde internette, I've embarassed myself, one way or another, more times that I'd probably like by posting with haste and repenting at leisure. I've started this, started that, quit this, quit that, but I keep on writing, and generally, yeah, I like doing it and even like what I do.

But I guess I don't like the fact that I do it all for free and then dwell on how I would like to be paid to do it and whether I ever might be and what I might need to do to find out if I might ever be and whether I've got it in me to work that hard and with that much intent and dedication and what my actual chances might be if I did those things and how dissapointed I would be if I did everything I possibly could and worked that hard for that long and then failed anyway, and whether I should just focus on some wretched boring practical thing like I've been doing the last decade for money and take it for as much money as I could manage. Or try to find some less wretched but more practical thing I could work up to, get a graduate degree or something.

You get the point. Typical post collegiate pre-middle age angst for the chronic underacheiver.

Things changed, though, when my son was born ten weeks early and after a fifty day stay in the hospital my wife and I decided that we wanted someone to stay at home with him for at least the first two or three years - and since she made more than 30% more than me the choice was fairly obvious.

Now, being a stay-at-home father and homemaker is not a ticket to unlimited free time (so very much not a ticket to unlimited free time) but it does offer a certain amount of flexibility as well as being distinctly more soul-affirming than any of my past day-jobs in a way that makes it easier to work in my free time.

So I decided: for this time I will try to figure out if I can make a living writing. I'm not a kid and I'm not too much of an egoist so I know this is a dream a lot of people have and very few people attain. Pure text (books, short stories, essays and journalism) is a small small market with a huge amount of competition.

But I have this time when I don't have to struggle as much with the idea that I'm being self-indulgent for not having a regular job (I struggle with whether I should be pursuing more practical work-at-home options - going from D.I.N.K. to S.I.O.K. sucks, not to put too fine a point on it) and so okay, I'm working on it. It isn't easy. I haven't had to really work for a specific level of quality in writing since college. Ten years of email the internet have turned me into a lazy writer, ten years of business writing in office jobs have taken their toll on my access to spontaneity, imagination and boldness.

And then there's the fucking internet.

Suddenly all this nattering in forums and such has taken on a different character. If I'm going to be spending time sitting on my ass typing I can't afford to be doing it throwing my putative pearls before all y'all swine, with due apologies.

And if I'm going to be appearing on the internet, I better be doing everything I can to make every appearance an opportunity for shameless self-promotion.

That's all. So while I figure out what I'm doing and how I might promote myself, it seemed that it was time to put a moratorium on posting everywhere but my own spots. So that dumb throwaway joke was the last post on thees thee phree inphospheere and when I come back I'm going to have some serious ulterior motives. It's all about me, now, goddamnit.

This being said: let's review that last post now. This is some serious shit, last post and everything, a turgid drama of one man determined to chase his dream, run it to the ground, and beat the living shit out of it.

After I conceived and wrote the joke I wondered:

1. Will this be moderated
a. funny
b. off-topic
c. troll

I could see a case for all three.

2. Will it be moderated out of relative existence, never to be seen again?

3. If not, will some dumbass take me to task for the pseudospoiler? Okay, sort of a longshot, but man, after ten years on the internets you never know. If it happens, I have to remember, MUST NOT RESPOND.

'Cause of the last post thing. Thing.

4. Will ANYONE see it and make the appropriate response?

It's okay, you don't have to guess, I think it's been long enough now, so here's the assessment. The last post thing assessment. Jesus I'm a dumbass sometimes. But hey. I gotta be me.

1. b.
2. Pretty Much.
3. No. I should have more faith in you people. 4. No, damnit. The appropriate response is:

Subject: Nooooo!

Comment: You bitch!

It mighta happened if you bastards had moderated it Funny.

I thought it was funny.

User Journal

Journal Journal: CVS Camcorder usably hacked

Here's my rejected slashdot submission:

2005-08-03 06:16:55 CVS Disposable Camcorder USB-Only Hack (Hardware,Hardware Hacking) (rejected)

The CVS Disposable Camcorder (mentioned about a month ago) has now been usably hacked so that videos can be downloaded over USB - no need to desolder the flash memory. Finally, some healthy free-market competition to CVS's expensive development service, just like in the analog world. Last week, dakotamod and mconsidine were able to coax mystery responses back from the camera. I found what looked like a set of challenge & response packets stored in memory, and then traced the firmware until I found where they was accessed. I thought I had found a locking mechanism, but wasn't sure until I realized that it only allowed the commands dakotamod & mconsidine had found were accessible... we were on to something! I figured out what the commands did and how to use them to how to unlock the camera. The community took it from there... daBass figured out the USB command to download the most recent video, and Corscaria and BillW quickly released tools. When unlocked, it seems that many standard windows drivers can be used with slight tweaks, including enabling full VGA resolution recording @ reduced frame rate (as opposed to the 1/4 VGA default).

There are now a lot more sample videos. And, lastly, this removable memory hack is awesome.
I sent the same text (plus more) to Makezine, where it was published, and then boing boing picked it up.

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