In a press release from yesterday, NASA indicates that “mission controllers have not heard from the Mars Exploration Rover Spirit since March 22″ and, due to the time of the year “there is a very distinct possibility Spirit may never respond.” Spirit an Opportunity landed on Mars in January 2004. Not bad for what was meant to be a three month mission.
A new form of art I re-acquainted myself with is the improved IOGraph. This tracks your mouse movements and pauses on the screen. Get it now from IOGraphica.
We had an impromptu session 0f charades during dinner the other night, in response to the question of what we could do for family home evening the next time it rolled around. I’m surprised that we haven’t actually done charades in our family, but also surprised that the kids didn’t know what it was at all. I can’t believe that they hadn’t done it at school before. So, to prepare them for our family night we explained some of the rules of charades. They got the idea that you have to act out something without using words. We tried to make it as easy as possible by choosing some examples of movies we own or they had recently seen, such as Edward Scissorhands and The Karate Kid. Jett said he wanted a go and decided that his movie was 4 words. He made many gyrations and actions and it turns out that his movie was “Helicopter Running Robot Dog”. It must be the new Pixar movie or something. Ashton tried “Labyrinth” by walking around in random directions and searching which was a good try but a very difficult one.
I decided to test Suzanne, and there was also the off chance that the kids would get it too. I wanted to do Michael Jackson.
I figured the easiest way to convey “Michael Jackson” was to invoke his best and most well loved dance routine from Thriller.
Look, I’m not Michael Jackson. I realise this. I a fat, balding, middle aged white guy with little to no coordination or artistic credibility. But I did a pretty damned good Zombie Dance from the Thriller music video, including most if not all of the most easily identifiable dance steps. But could Suzanne get it? She just pointed and laughed and started thinking up random words and names which had absolutely nothing to do with thriller or Michael Jackson. The kids could be forgiven because they weren’t around in the 80s or 90s, but surely Suzanne knew what she was looking at.
Eventually, with a bit of humming and whistling, it was Ashton who finally got it. I really don’t know what was going on in Suzanne’s head. Heaven help us in our next FHE.
- Munroe’s Law: A person in a geeky argument who can quote xkcd to support his position automatically wins the argument. This law supersedes Godwin, so that even if the quote is about Hitler, the quoter still wins.
- Lucas’s Law: There is no movie so beloved that a “special edition,” prequel or sequel cannot trample and forever stain its memory.
- Tolkien and Rowling’s Law: No reasonably faithful movie adaptation of a book will ever be quite as good as the book it adapts. Thus great movie adaptations can only be made out of truly amazing books.
- Somers and McCarthy’s Law: There is no dangerous unscientific theory so preposterous that no celebrity will espouse and advocate it.
- Jobs’s Law: No matter how well last year’s cool tech gadget still works, it will seem utterly inadequate the moment the new version comes out.
- Savage and Hyneman’s Law: Blowing stuff up is fun. Blowing stuff up in the name of science is AWESOME.
- Starbucks’ and Peet’s Law: C8H10N4O2, better known as caffeine, is the most wonderful chemical compound known to humankind. If the field of chemistry had never identified or produced a single other useful compound, caffeine alone would be justification enough for its existence.
- Wilbur’s Law: Bacon makes everything better.
- Comic Book Guy’s Law: There is no detail of a movie too brief or inconsequential to become the subject of an hours-long diatribe.
- The Unified Geek Theory: At present, the President of the United States, the wealthiest person in the United States, and the most trusted newscaster in the United States are all geeks. At the same time, movies based on comic book characters are routinely taking in hundreds of millions of dollars. The only reasonable conclusion is: We’ve won!
Via Geek Dad
Some cool images I happened upon at Flickr
The 2010 Select series 2 was released last week, called “Prestige”. I’m disappointed, on the whole. I mean, it wouldn’t take too much effort or skill with photoshop to sexy these up a bit. Even if the background splotches were more random and unique, they’d look so much nicer. Still, worth the $2.50 I paid for the set of 12.
Ah, grandkids. I see you’ve taken an interest in our family history and have discovered my ancient writings on what used to be known as a “blog” on a thing called the “Internet“. Goodness knows what globally spanning high bandwidth data network you’re currently using but it’s probably in HD, 3-D, and has some other features we cavemen haven’t even conceived of yet.
So you’re trying to find out more about your beloved grandfather and grandmother, and how your parent came to be. Well, sit yourselves down on the hover chair and let me tell you a story of love in the olden days.
In answer to your first question of “How did you guys meet?”, the short answer is that, like any successful relationship from the very late 20th century, we met on the Internet.
The longer answer goes something like this. I was working at an ISP based in Perth called iiNet, and had been since 1996. I often refer to these as the “dark times” as it was low pay and quite stressful in tech support but it was stable and regular. I was working the late shift. Before the days of 24 hour support, we closed the phones at 10pm so I worked from 1pm to 10. This allowed me to get the last train home from Perth to Midland. Oh, there’s some stories I could tell about traveling late at night on the train! Maybe another time.
After about 10-12 years of inactivity, I was again attending Church and things had started swinging my way. Let me tell you kiddies, don’t let yourselves stagnate in inactivity because getting back into Church was one of the hardest things I’ve done for various reasons. It’s best to remain faithful the whole time. Anyhow, by this time I knew it was important for me to find the right girl to marry, and to achieve a happy life and beyond I knew that I had to marry a girl from my own faith. If I hadn’t, there’d be less chance that we’d be the happy family we are now. So I’d been dating various chicks (we called them chicks in my day, don’t know what you’d call them now) with the motive of seeing if they had the possibility of being right for me long term. I had found that I was so far away from being Mr Right for most of these girls that it wasn’t funny, but I was Mr Right for some of them. That’s good and all, and I was flattered that some of them thought very highly of me but it wasn’t good enough for me to be a knight in shining armour. I needed to be selfish, in a way, and make sure that my own needs and desires could be met.
See, 95% of your happiness or 95% of your misery in life is going to be as a result of the person you choose to marry, so you need to choose very carefully. Aim high, in fact aim for perfection but understand and be happy in knowing that you’ll never find that perfection. Instead, find the person with the best mix of attributes you can. That doesn’t mean “settling” for anything, it’s just that people are human and fallible, and are not perfect and so will never meet whatever image of perfection you’re told you need by your friends, parents or the media. For me, perfection would have been the mind of Albert Einstein, the empathy of Mother Teresa, the bank account of Warren Buffett, the athletic ability of Nadia Comaneci, all wrapped in the body of Cindy Crawford. She should also be cute in a nerdy way, play video games, speak French, play the Saxophone, dabble in digital art, have a love of NHL Hockey and/or Formula 1 and be able to recite lines from Star Wars and other movies and TV shows at appropriate moments. I knew I’d never find this woman outside my own imagination, but I knew that I could find a good mix of the best attributes eventually.
I had about given up after a few years of looking. These girls were nice and all, but either they lacked an important ingredient or they had other off-putting attributes which I knew would queer the deal and make me unhappy.
So around the middle of 1999, we had an intake of new YAKs (as me about that name later some time) to work in tech support at iiNet. Among these were a few rather hot chicks including Suzanne. I’ll admit that it wasn’t Suzanne that grabbed my attention first, but I did notice Suzanne and thought it might be a good idea to eventually talk to her some time if we ever bumped into each other.
This is where the story takes a bit of a twist. My supervisor decided that she needed to help things along a bit. She fancied herself as a match maker. In other words she wanted to meddle. It wasn’t until a few years later that she told us that every other match making venture of hers had been an abject failure. Ours was her first success at making a match and she was very proud.
Anyway she poked and prodded me, and whispered and cajoled Suzanne. I think as far as Suzanne was concerned, she just wanted to get the match maker off our backs and leave us alone, but we eventually decided to go out on an official “date”. It was to be Friday the 13th of August 1999. So when I say “we met on the Internet”, it’s partially true; we met at work, which happened to be an Internet company.
Some games are rather obviously bad. By bad, I don’t mean unplayable or silly, I mean “bad” as in “unrighteous”. Some of the latest games have very questionable themes, such as Grand Theft Auto which focuses on California gang life and the awakening of the drug epidemic brought on by crack cocaine where the player is encouraged to rob, rape and kill people to gain points. Some games, such as God of War or Gears of War have very realistic and gratuitous violence. Some games have gratuitous sex scenes, such as the alien/lesbian scene in Mass Effect and the baffling Leather Goddess of Phobos.
I haven’t played most of these games, mind you, so I’m not in a position to judge. But I have seen and heard snippets of these games around the Interwebs so I’m aware of what they’re about. I never really had the opportunity to play these games anyhow. My gaming career went straight from the first release of the Atari straight to the PS2 in 2006. Also, I’ve suffered from a combination of not being being able to afford a top of the line PC and new release games. I have to wait a few years for games to go on clearance before I consider buying them.
But there’s one game which is more evil than all these combined. It can suck a man in with its attractive and flattering game-play while at the same time sucking the life and soul out of him. It can make you lose focus on your career, your family and other commitments. It can keep you up until all hours of the night, and takes over your dreams when you do manage a few fitful hours of sleep. That game, or game series, is Civilization.
I made the mistake of stopping by Electronics Boutique the other night on the way home from work. On top of the pile of $12.50 games I saw Civilization IV. A flood of memories and nightmares swept over me. A voice at the back of my head was saying “Drop this and run as fast as you can”. But another louder voice was saying “Remember all the fun you had with version 1 in the early 90s! You can relive those days! Besides, it’s only $12.50.”
Indeed, I remember spending a lot of time on this game building the perfect empire and working my way through the more difficult levels so that I could say I had mastered the game. Often I would sit down to a game thinking to myself that I wouldn’t go past midnight and the next time I raised my eyes to look at the clock it read 5am.
So, I bought the game and took it home. After the kids went to bed I fired it up and convinced myself I’d just check out the gameplay and the interface. I wouldn’t start a game until later on when I had a couple days off and could afford to spend more than a few hours straight without having to wake up early the next day for work.
I really have to had it to Sid Meier. Civilization IV is a beautiful game and a great enhancement to the original. I missed Civ2 and Civ3, but saw a few demos on Youtube. I remember when Civ4 came out a few years ago there was a great buzz about it, but there was no way I was going to part with $110 to preorder it.
So, it’s 8pm and I start just poking about in the menus to see what’s what. Nice interface, nice music and a very sweetly familiar Civopedia which details all the units, buildings and improvements. I see they introduced the concept of Religion. I wonder how that works. Going to bed honey? Whoa it’s 9pm already?! OK I’ll be there in a jiffy. I just want to play a few turns on my new game.
It had started, and I hadn’t even realised it. Sid Meier had me in his evil clutches, was slowly twisting me as if wringing out a wet cloth and watching the life blood drip out of me onto the keyboard.
By the time I even considered looking at the clock it was already midnight.
I don’t know what it is, but this game is so highly addictive. It’s a time machine; I sit down and when I get up I find that I have traveled into the future without experiencing anything in between.
I paid for it the next day, too. I found it hard to sleep that night. I was dreaming about strategic alliances, and tactical warfare, and how best to go about spreading my Hindu religion. In a training meeting the next day my head was bob-bob-bobbing like one of those dippy ducks. Should I sell the game on ebay? Should I lock it away in a cupboard? I think that for me to get rid of this game it’s going to take a quest to Morder to throw it into Mount Doom.