November 2005

October 2005 -- 2005 -- December 2005

November 8, 2005

Captain Jack is dead. Always one of my favourite artists on DDR, he's the one who has the insanely catchy Dream A Dream song, along with quite a few military inspired ones. I still need to pick up DDR Extreme Dos too.

So mad programmin skillz *CAN* actually impress women. Candice needed a bingo-card making program that would take a list of words and randomly place them on bingo style cards (for a lesson plan for 7th graders). Which is a pretty trival program if you've taken any sort of programming course, but she was sooo impressed I could create something like that from scratch and save her hours of work by not having to do it by hand. Such are the perks of dating a computer nerd. So now she's going to brag to all her education classmates about her boyfriend's uber 133t (though somehow I don't think "uber-133t" will be mentioned exactly) programming skills. Who would have that that would have ever been possible? There's hope for computer nerds everywhere :)

Ever wonder what a periwinkle ribbon stood for? wonder no more, here's a color code list of ribbons for all kinds of causes.

And in yet another blow to science, Kansas decided it's ok to just make stuff up and throw it into a science curriculum. Apparently it's just a small insignificant detail that intelligent design is in no way related science or scientific theory. It's distracting from the entire point of science education. It's not so that you'll know the parts of an atom even when you're 70 years old (though I do personally think it's good to have a general grasp of how our world works as just being an education person in society). The important purpose of science cirriculum is to teach you to think. To not just make stuff up to fill any holes or ignore any facts, but to take what you are given and deduce things logically from that. It's an important life skill that far too many people lack (see Homeopathy for example). It basically builds common sense. Something the ID proponents sorely lack.

I'm going to reiterate that grad school is really hard. That is all.

November 11, 2005

And yet again the internet is behaving in a less than optimal manner. In fact, one would say it's not behaving at all, but instead lying (laying?) lifeless in a gutter. Regardless, it's driving me up the wall. I could live with no TV, no phone, no car, and no AC. But no internet? That's just not right.

Amazon is back at it again with their crazy patents. This time patenting online reviews of products. Is there no end to the insanity? There was a show about Amarillo on the other night, though not for a good heartwarming reason. Instead it was about the death of Brian Deneke, a "punk" kid who was run over by a "jock" football player in a scene pretty much ripped right out of West Side Story. I had forgotten about it until I saw the show, and while I didn't know either of the kids involved, I was a Freshman in the same high school as Brian used to go to. The real tradegy of the whole story is that the murderer got only 10 years probation for the senseless killing, because the victim was demonized because he didn't fit the tight conservative mold that West Texas wants.

November 20, 2005

The last week was horrible with tests, projects, and homeworks galore, but now there's Turkey Day (also known as Mr. Gobble Gobble Day) to look forward to. There's classes until Wednesday as usual (as if an engineering class would take a day off, HA!) but then I'm going down home for some yummy food. And then back up Friday to see UF play FSU in basketball, which we've been playing FAR better than I thought we would this season. We may actually have a chance to do quite well this year instead of just "OK" which is expected after you lose your top 3 players.

I finally got around to signing up for NetFlix yesterday, and so far I have 140 movies in my queue. I have no idea how long it'll take me to get through the list, but I'm going to try. The recommendation system is also suprisingly accurate, about half the movies in my queue are one's it recommend to me.

And speaking of movies, here's a list of the top 10 robot movies ever. Who could ever pass C3P-O and R2-D2? Speaking of which, Star Wars Transformers are on their way, though for some reason are being released after Christmas. Someone must have failed marketing. But Star Wars Transformers, how freakin cool is that? And how come it took them so long to come out with such a great idea?

November 24, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving!

After eating WAY too much turkey and watching Season 1 of Pete and Pete, it's now time to figure out what to get tomorrow when everything is incredibly cheap. I'm looking for an external hard drive since my 60 GB laptop drive is almost completely full, and there's always CD's and DVD's to get.

Intelligent Design is back in the spotlight once again, and yet again I can't believe there is debate about this. "Intelligent Design" is NOT science. Therefore it does not belong in science class. It's just that simple. Making stuff up because it's "too hard" is not science. That's why we have theology classes, where ID belongs. Yes, there are holes in the theory of evolution, but every respectable scientist agrees it is the best theory that we have based on the evidence that we have. And it's not to say we even have all the evidence yet, there's still a lot of Earth to dig up. If the intelligent design propents had their way, we still wouldn't know how the Sun worked, how to defeat bacteria, or pretty much anything else because it would be "too complicated" and obviously the work of some higher power, and thus not worth trying to explore further. If intelligent design can get taught in schools, then why not also that invisible little green elves pull objects toward each other, and gravity is just a myth? Gravity is just a theory too. Or heck, that this "intelligent designer" was actually me. You can't prove I wasn't, and I very well could have been, so therefore I demand that I be put into high school textbooks too!

Scientists are not against new theories (as ID proponents try to claim), they just accept the theories that follow from what they observe. Thus, my little green man theory (as with intelligent design) would not be very accepted among scientific circles because it's ridiculous. If a better or more plausible theory comes along, let it fight it out the way scientific theories and scientific progress have been fought out for centuries, using peer review and scientific journals. As someone wrote in an editorial I read about this subject, Einstein didn't have to lobby and make laws to get relativity put into science classes. Mendel didn't have to appeal to congressmen to get his ideas accepted. The scientific strength of those ideas put them in textbooks. Something ID is sorely lacking. Thank goodness Rutherford didn't think "Geez, this atom thing is way too complex to explain, I give up". Instead he discovered the nuculeus and worked with Bohr to discover the electron orbitals.

The fact that it's being integrated into high school science classes is even worse, in that the purpose of science at the secondary school level is not so much to teach facts and laws (though it is part of being a well rounded individual to know what the parts of an atom is and how light works) but more just to teach critical thinking. To make students not just blindly accept things, but use reason to see why things are the way they are. Teaching intelligent design to students tells them that it's OK to unquestionably accept something someone says without even thinking if it makes ANY logical sense at all. We need more critical thinking, not less!

In other crazy news, October 31st was a very bad day for Sony music. A researcher discovered that certain Sony CD's contain Digital Rights Management (DRM, used for copyright protection) software that is automatically installed on your computer when the CD is put into the CDRom drive. This software then hides that it was ever installed or that it is even running, which is commonly known as a "root-kit". This itself is somewhat worrying, not only because it's the equivilent of a multinational company putting spyware like software on your computer and completely undermining any security that a person has set up on their computer, but also because people could then use this cloaking ability Sony installed on your computer to hide their own viruses. Which is exactly what happened.. Not that the Sony CEO really cared, "Most people don't even know what a rootkit is, so why should they care about it?". Apparently what the customer doesn't know won't hurt them. To Sony's credit, after massive bad publicity they did stop producing CD's with the DRM installed and issued a patch to supposedly remove the DRM software causing all this trouble. But Sony's troubles were no where near over. The initial version of that software only removed the cloaking ability, it didn't remove the actual software. But even worse, it also opened a gaping security hole in it's place, allowing any website you visited to download, install, and run any program it wanted to on your computer. Which affects who knows how many computers since many people might have installed the Sony patch 'just to be on the safe side', without even ever having the DRM software installed on their computer. With all this happening, Microsoft issued an update to remove Sony's software because simply playing a copyright protected Sony CD was seen as a security risk. Sony is now also facing class action lawsuits about their DRM CD's.

But the bad news isn't over yet. By playing a Sony music CD on your computer, you also implicitly agree to an amazingly bad license. Which includes such gems as having to delete all your music on your computer if all you're CD's get stolen or destroyed somehow. Or having to delete all your music if you move out of the country. And much more.

And for the biggest ironic twist of all, part of the code that was used to create Sony's DRM software was stolen from an open source program. So essentially Sony created a rootkit software program to protect copyright by violating copyright in creating it. Hmmmm

The one piece of good news? The whole thing can be bypassed by mearly putting some tape on the outer edge of Sony's CD's. All that work and headaches to be foiled by a simple piece of tape. Not that the software ever really prevented someone from copying or ripping the disc to begin with, which is why the whole idea of putting DRM software on CD's is so stupid. It just takes a little more know how (or just doing it on Linux or any other non-Windows machine). Sigh, will they ever learn?

November 27, 2005

I came out quite ahead in Black Friday deals, getting a 160 GB external harddrive for only $80 (saving $80) and getting a 1 GB flash drive for only $20 (saving $90). On top of buying some cheap CD's and DVD's. Granted I did have to get there at 1:30 in the morning (Best Buy opened at 5 AM) but it was well worth it. It was like waiting in line for basketball games, only not quite as fun.

Yesterday was also a great day for Florida football, beating FSU 37-6 and being undefeated in The Swamp all year long. It's Great To Be A Florida Gator!

I seriously think school is trying to kill me. I have some huge projects due at the end of the semester, only a scant week and a half way. Fun times... I'm going to be quite glad when this semester is over.

October 2005 -- 2005 -- December 2005