This Day In History: 03/22

Friday, March 22, 2002

I don't have any big weekend plans. The score and parts for Outlooks are finally complete, so I guess I'll start thinking about what to write in this last month of the semester. I also need to do some pedagogy analysis, do my jazz history final project, and finish off the Ewazen MIDIs so I can take them to Tech in April.

This week's Movie Night selection was an oldie, Sling Blade, from 1996. It was a good movie, although no one can seem to figure out the joke about the two good ole' boys pissing off a bridge.

More SC-8850 fun... this is a theme titled A Little Cheesy Funk from long ago. Oldtimers may remember it as the theme song of the Writings page from the second edition of the URI! Domain in 1998. Trumpet and trombone patches are historically weak but the jazz drum set patches are as clean as can be.

    (MP3, 723KB)

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Saturday, March 22, 2003

So we're at war now, which isn't surprising. I don't dispute the fact that there are good reasons for removing Saddam Hussein from power -- I just dislike the arrogant way we've taken control of the situation. Although it's true that the United States is probably the most powerful nation in the world, it should not be allowed to usurp the authority of the U.N., unless it is also willing to shoulder all the responsibilities of world order. That would mean taking care of all the world's problems, and not just the ones that we happen to have a vested interest in. Bush has been trying his hardest for the past two years to get a good reason to invade Iraq, even using spurious claims to directly connect Saddam Hussein with Osama bin Laden, and he's finally succeeded. It will be interesting to see just how long he actually maintains interest in setting up a democracy there once his war is won. I anticipate a flashy victory accompanied by many promises, followed by the quiet but steady withdrawal of all US forces and interests.

There was a "walk-out for peace" staged on campus the day after bombing began. Good timing, dumbasses. No doubt, the crowd of three hundred strong compelled Bush to turn one of his tanks around.

We need to start learning how to fly helicopters too.

The Oscars are tomorrow and I've only seen five of the fifty-odd movies up for nominations. The ceremony will probably suck anyhow, since ABC has expressed their intent to interrupt the broadcast at will with late-breaking war news. They should just announce the award winners in a press release and put a new episode of Alias on.

Bush wasn't planning on paying for war
Big Mac eater downs 19,000th burger
Exploding brains for fun and profit

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Monday, March 22, 2004

Burma Shave

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Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Anna and Ben closed on a nearly-new townhouse in Manassas today. It's one of those three bedroom / two and a half bath setups with the high vaulted ceiling in the third floor bedroom. Anna and Ben got engaged on 2-22-04, and they put the contract down on this townhouse one month ago today, on 2-22-05. Chalk another one up to the power of 222 -- congratulations!

Vaginas open up at Georgia State
'Lost' numbers come up as losers
"Well I'm not about to hop up onto the table!" he says. "Unless Michael does that in court himself, of course."
High-tech shoe used to rob casino

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Wednesday, March 22, 2006

BU's Thoughts While Watching Harry Potter 4: Harry Potter and the Temple of Doom

  • Thank God, finally a DVD that features no unskippable movie trailers for movies that came out last year or that horribly retarded "Downloading IS BAD: Rated I for Illegal" trailer with the ridiculously atrocious electronic musician's nightmare for a soundtrack. Do people NOT in college seriously devote much of their lives to downloading movies off the Internet? For me, four bucks and the huge television with multiple speakers easily trumps finding a tiny torrent in Yugoslavia so I can watch the same movie in a 320x200 window at my desk.

  • The first twenty minutes of this movie were completely useless and served only to remind people that the studio had some stock Quidditch footage left on the cutting room floor from previous movies. The action was needless, frenetic, and not particularly relevant to the plot, exactly like the first twenty minutes of Moulin Rouge which seemed to be like an MTV music video on acid before calming down into an interesting movie.

  • Holy cow, these kids are old. It's about time for Draco Malfoy to star in some Van Wilderesque college movie rather than sit in a tree pretending to be a thirteen-year-old. I wonder how many times the director told Ron to slouch so he would look less like Crabbe and Goyle and more like a Weasley.

  • Holy cow, these kids are still bad actors. Ron is the worst, followed by Harry and then Hermione. Hermione is saved on the virtue of being cute, and actually gets better as the movie progresses. Her eyebrows are still 50% of her acting vocabulary though -- I thought they were going to wiggle off her forehead and cha-cha.

  • There seem to be an awful lot of minority wizards in Harry's fourth year at Hogwarts. I think the producers edited out many scenes in the third movie of the minority Muggles protesting on the street corners about how unfair it was that they did not get to do any magic. Their efforts paid off, because there are more indigenous wizards than ever in every scene of Potter 4. Hogwarts: An Equal Opportunity Magic School.

  • Damn this movie is long. It's time to put a Totino's in the oven.

  • What the heck was up with the entrance of the French chicks? I can't decide if it was horribly campy or fiercely inspired. Plus I thought Fleur was supposed to be enchantingly seductive, and not just pretty.

  • John Williams needs to have a life-altering experience. Every time I heard trumpets, it sounded like the credits for Star Wars was about to roll. Plus, every single wave of the hand or flick of the wrist on screen does not need to have an orchestral gesture to highlight it. Sometimes people just do stuff!

  • I liked the original Dumbledore so much better -- this one seems to get all his authority from having a loud baritone voice (see Sauron) rather than just having a commanding presence (see Gandalf). Also, Dumbledore's office in the movie was much colder and impersonal than I pictured it from the books.

  • Since when do dragons CLIMB on buildings? Flap your wings and burn Harry Potter to a crisp, you dumbass.

  • There is a scene where the students are at a formal ball waltzing, and then suddenly they cut away to a wizard frat rock band playing music sounding suspiciously like Hoobastank. I initially groaned, and then ended up thinking it was kind of cool.

  • Is this movie still running? The box says 2:37? There is absolutely no reason for a movie to be longer than two hours unless it's a serious drama of Oscar-proportions. If the story doesn't lend itself to the shorter frame of a movie, either rewrite the story, split it into parts, or realize, "Hey, maybe this shouldn't be a movie!".

  • I like this movie now but I'm so tired of sitting still. That Totino's pizza was good though. I wish this movie were more ADHD-friendly.

  • There were lots of characters that had screen time only because they were in the books (Rita Skeeter? What was the point?). Most of them could have been cut or relegated to the multiple crowd shots with student extras peering out windows or cheering. Were the Weasley twins girls or boys?

  • If you've never seen it, you should watch the SNL parody of Hermione's boobies: .

  • Overall, a pretty good movie if you're a book fan and can fill in all the story holes from memory, but not a lot to offer otherwise. I didn't like it much in the beginning but it grew on me as it went on. Not quite as good as the previous movie.

  • And on. And on. And on.
  • Happy Birthday Aaron Ulm and Jen Graves!

    New LOST tonight!

    Tax rebel sends threatened gnomes into hiding
    Chef gets a South Park send-off tonight
    Setting good habits from an early age

    tagged as reviews | permalink | 8 comments

    Thursday, March 22, 2007

    List Day: Five Things to Hate in Video Games

    1) Ice: I'm almost 100% certain that ice originated with a pothead Mario programmer who accidentally typed 0 instead of 1 and became hypnotized by the way Mario seemed to effortless glide across the ground like a greased-up piggy on a Slip N' Slide. Short on both time and brownies, he decided to change the colour of the ground from brown to white, call the level "ICE WORLD" and head home. Ice in video games serves no other purpose than to make the controls more frustrating, and to cause permanent thumb injuries as you try to overcorrect your momentum by compressing the keypad in the other direction with a force equivalent to the jaw strength of a crocodile.

    Despite these complaints, ice continues to appear in games today, having become one of the standard adjectives (and nouns-turned-adjectives) that game developers can use to typecast their worlds or dungeons (the others being water, fire, big, tiny, desert, forest, light, and dark, though to its credit, Super Mario World tried to add Donut and Chocolate until they were sued by NAPO and NAACP in separate lawsuits). There's even an entire subsection of the latest Zelda game which involves pushing around giant menhirs on icy floors without falling into holes. I would tend to classify this as "not pimping."

    2) Unskippable Cutscenes: I realize that since the introduction of the No Child Left Behind act, we're all supposed to pretend to help people read better, but it's a safe bet to say that making the dialogue in your video game move slower will not help anyone out. The worst is when a game puts... one... word... on... the screen at a time, as if that instills them with more drama. In one video game that over-used the "Japanese ellipsis", I actually saw a dialogue bubble where each dot of the ellipsis went up on the screen separately, as if the character had nothing to say, but couldn't quite express this all at once because it was too arduous a task.

    At a higher level, every single non-interactive scene in a game should be skippable, because sometimes you really just don't care about the story -- especially the fifth time through Ocarina of Time, or the first time through Trauma Center: The Emo Soap Opera With Extra Cutting. And while we're at it, Marvel: Ultimate Alliance does not need to have fourteen separate company splash screens at the beginning of the game. No one cares who rendered your 3D googaboogas.

    3) Unlocking Features: It's one thing to get access to a super secret level after beating the game, or a new character to play when you clear the Super Chocolate Loop-De-Loop level in under thirty seconds. Recently though, more and more games come with just one or two levels initially open, and require you to unlock pretty much everything in the game through a series of made-up challenges designed to make the game longer than necessary. I'm of the opinion that the fifty bucks I dropped on the counter should entitle me to play all fifty bucks worth of the game because I am a dirty capitalist. And should the memory card for Super Smash Brothers Melee every get corrupted, I would just never play it again rather than try to earn all those ridiculous trophies all over again.

    4) Collecting Things: I blame the Mario franchise for this one: "Collect five dragon coins and earn an extra life!" Simple, easy to remember, and (most importantly) OPTIONAL. Fast-forward five years to find that every single Mario game now has two total levels which you have to play through forty-two different times to collect a cornucopia of crap that even a bum looking for redeemable recyclables would skip over. By the end, you've collected so many gold stars, yellow coins, red coins, and blue coins, that you might as well rebrand the game as Super Lucky Charms.

    Zelda takes this to a brand new level of infamy with the introduction of the Golden Skulltula (translated roughly as pixelated poop) -- one hundred spiders that could be hidden anywhere on the map that you pretty much have to discover to get better equipment in the game. Of course, if you buy the special Rumble Pak add-on for a mere $40, your joystick (the one attached to the game, not you) will vibrate whenever you're near one! I always wanted my personal joystick to be an arachnid divining rod.

    5) Bad Translations: Nothing kills a video game story like a bad translation. Though it's gotten much better in the years since America conquered Japan and outlawed non-English languages, there are still plenty of games out there that were obviously translated literally from their foreign origins by someone who wasn't fluent in either language, but learned colloquialisms from Hong Kong overdubs. The early Final Fantasy games could have been products of running the dialogue through the Alta Vista Babelfish multiple times, using French as an intermediary language between the Japanese and English. Here is a sample of Babelfishing, from my yet-to-be-released video game, Booty Bay:

    Before Translation: Chompy frowned. He certainly did not want to be accused of being all up in her grill, but time was slipping away. "Let's roll," he said.

    Translating to French, then Greek, then back to French, then English: Chompy steamed the eyebrows. Of course he did not want that it is marked that is its same in the grill, but ascending time slipped moved away. "let us roll, it said.

    Happy Birthday Aaron Ulm and Jen Graves!

    Top 7 PR Disasters in Gaming History
    Detecting the impossible at a young age
    Student sued over Pooh socks

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    Monday, March 22, 2010

    Weekend Wrap-up

    I spent the vast majority of Friday night and Saturday working on my secret project, and reached my first milestone. At this point, all the features are there but you can't really do anything with it (see also, wireless laptops in Montana). I'll probably go public tomorrow, which has the added bonus of using up a Tuesday post, since I didn't get a chance to write any Museday excerpts this weekend.

    On Saturday night, we drove to the home of one of Rebecca's coworkers for a late St. Patrick's Day party. It was even closer than Arlington, a surprising concept since the party took place in Maryland. We ate snacks on green napkins and watched an endless montage of artistically bad music videos that accompany the text on Karaoke CDs.

    Sunday opened with a giant sesame seed bagel with cream cheese, since toasted sesame seeds have a very appetizing smell (even if they just digest like corn in the long run). In the afternoon, we did some more test driving at a dealership in Tysons. We encountered the least effective salesman of all time and she will not be getting any of our yuppy money for her lack of efforts.

    We then drove to Lake Anne in Reston to admire all of the shops and restaurants that have closed down since our last visit, and picked up some Boston Market for dinner on the way home.

    Happy Spring!

    Boy Scout executive details 'perversion files' during testimony in Portland trial
    NYC cops sorry for pounding couple's door 50 times
    Burglar logs into MySpace on store computer

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    Tuesday, March 22, 2011

    Stuff In My Drawers Day: Name That Tune Lip-Sync

    For anyone that didn't get to play the first time around, here are the ten excerpts from my 2009 Name That Tune contest (you'll need to visit the site if you're reading this from a feed reader). See if it's still as hard as it was back then!

    answer to #1

    answer to #2

    answer to #3

    answer to #4

    answer to #5

    answer to #6

    answer to #7

    answer to #8

    answer to #9

    answer to #10

    Dukem Nukem rebrands Capture the Flag as "Capture the Babe"
    Sammy Hagar abducted by aliens
    Putin frolics with Olympic snow leopard

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    Thursday, March 22, 2012

    Review Day: HP Folio 13 Ultrabook

    First Impressions

    Not counting our "travel around the world and let it get stolen because it was cheaper than a trip to Costco" netbook, my Dell XPS M1530 was the only laptop I've ever owned. I purchased it back in 2008 when my primary needs were being able to play World of Warcraft and being able to work at the coffee table while watching a trashy TV show on DVD. The XPS fit those criteria perfectly with the downside of having a 90 minute battery life (because of the gaming graphics card) and a tendency to overheat and shut down. As long as I was content to be tethered to the power cord on a well-ventilated surface, I was fine with its 15" screen and 6.5 pound weight.

    The XPS was also a tank, surviving two frame-bending drops (three feet to the coffee table, and five feet to a carpeted conference room floor). However, these drops led to instability after four years, not unlike an oft-tackled cornerback with slippery fingers. When it started to sporadically fail at turning on, I knew it was time to upgrade.

    The "Ultrabook" merketing term describes a set of Windows-based laptops with a very specific range of features and a long battery life (and can also be translated as "a Mac Book Air for Windows"). I researched the available options heavily, and although a second generation of Ultrabooks is coming in May, I realized that I might be dead by then and impatiently chose the HP Folio 13. See the Details tab at NewEgg for complete specifications.

    I wanted a laptop with a long battery life, good portability, and an HDMI output for showing streaming Amazon Prime content to the TV. I chose the Folio in spite of a name that reminds me of the pirate kid from Hook because of reports on how tactile and comfortable the keyboard was for a laptop. The solid-state hard drive is nice and speedy too, although you only end up with about 80 GB free after a Windows 7 install. This wasn't a problem for me: I installed all of my development tools and complete MP3 collection and still had 65 GB left.

    Look and Feel: The profile of this laptop is ridiculously thin, and looks functionally sleek. The base is smooth rubber, and the shape of the lid makes it easy to open. The fan position (bottom and back) doesn't seem like it circulates very well, but this rig doesn't get very hot at all. The fan is always running and is noticeable in a quiet room, but it has a consistent white noise sound without much modulation. I barely notice it unless I'm intentionally looking for it, and I am one of those people that hears every single sound at all times. Still, listen to it in a store if you think it might bug you.

    Keyboard: The keyboard is very comfortable and easy to adapt to. I was never completely comfortable with the Dell keyboard, but I could write some code on this one without a problem. The toggled backlighting is very nice too, because you write better code in the dark. Every keyboard should have lit keys. I can't say anything about the touchpad since I always plug in a mini-mouse, but I like that you can tap it twice to turn it off. The function keys are inverted to default to computer commands (for example F4 is display brightness while Fn+F4 is the actual F4), but I don't feel like this affects my productivity.

    Speed: The solid state hard drive makes this laptop start up ridiculously quickly from hibernation or a full restart. It seems no slower than my Dell and can easily handle the level of multitasking I usually do.

    Portability: If you are blessed with superhuman strength as I am, you will actually have to work to keep yourself from accidentally flinging this laptop around the room. Weighing in at barely 3 pounds, it has amazing portability and easily handles my nomadic travels between conference rooms and auditoriums. (Booty weighs as much as 4 of these, according to the vet). It does not come with a case, but this Case Logic case works for me just fine.

    Power: The battery lasts for hours while working and playing MP3s. The meter suggests six hours at normal operating, but I've never needed to go more than three hours so far. I preferred the Dell power brick more, because it was designed to have the cords neatly wrapped around it and secured. The Folio has a standard two-piece brick with a velcro tie on one of the cords which takes a little longer to pack away.

    Sound: The speakers are surprisingly powerful for a laptop, and they're much louder than they need to be. You could probably play music at a living room party without any sort of sound system, although your guests might tire from the lack of bass.

    Display: Although it's only a 13" screen, the 1366 x 768 resolution gives it a rich fineness. The viewing angle is fairly narrow, but if I were going to have many people sitting around the laptop watching something, I'd just project it (or send them home, because obviously the living room party has devolved into watching YouTube videos).

    Software: I immediately uninstalled all sorts of crap from the base Windows 7 installation, most of it provided by HP without any sort of documentation as to what it did. This took about an hour. In my experience, HP seems to have the worst ratio of useful shovelware on its machines.

    First Impression: I am very happy with the Folio 13 and have no regrets about purchasing it. With a laptop this light, who needs a tablet?

    Update (8/26/2012): I regularly get web searches for people wondering if World of Warcraft can be played on the Folio. I have not tried it myself, but based upon my other experiences with the machine, it probably will not. The Folio is fine for older 2D games or video playback, but 3D graphics on the Folio tend to have framerates in the low teens or even lower.

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    Friday, March 22, 2013

    The Daily Hour

    I've been working more these past few months, which makes me more likely to choose exercise over other activities when I get home at night. However, I've also been doing a fair amount of research for the next version of DDMSence and exploring other open source ideas. I kind of want to write an open source bug tracking system (because JIRA is a bloated nightmare and TestTrack costs zillions of dollars) but that seems like a daunting task that I would lose interest in pretty quickly. How can it be so hard to write a good one?

    On the electric bass side of the house (having converted the guest bedroom into a rock palace), I'm working on my muting technique and learning moveable pattern shortcuts for various blues and rock bass lines.

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    Tuesday, March 22, 2016

    List Day: Currently...

    • Currently listening to... Self-Explanatory by Classified.

    • Currently reading... The Cactus Eaters by Dan White.

    • Currently playing... Overwatch.

    • Currently composing... nothing in almost 4 years.

    • Currently considering buying... another hanging bar to support the air-drying of Rebecca's non-dryer work clothes.

    • Currently coding... a Python project at work and parallel snippets in Java, Python, R, and Scala on Sparkour at home.

    • Currently planning... to extend the front porch's usable space a foot in each direction.

    • Currently writing... this post.

    • Currently watching... Bosch, Season Two, Modern Family, Season Five, Mr. Robot, Season One, Outsourced, Season One, and Love, Season One. A few of these have stalled, possibly permanently, because they aren't going anywhere fast enough.

    • Currently anticipating... a weekend trip to Pittsburgh.

    • Currently exercising... about three hours per week.

    • Currently weighing... 131 pounds.

    This update was sponsored in part by LiveJournal.

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    Wednesday, March 22, 2017

    Memory Day: Snapshots

    This picture was taken 10 years ago, in June 2007.

    I'm sitting in Anna's living room in Manassas with Ella, who had just turned 2 months old, and I'm surrounded by the resident cats, Kitty and Sydney (Kydney), long before there were ferrets. I wore that new sweater pretty heavily for about two months until it accidentally ended up in the dryer and came out 3 sizes too small.

    I think Kitty swallowed some geometry.

    tagged as memories | permalink | 1 comment

    Friday, March 22, 2019

    Google+ Death Day

    To commemorate the final death rattle of Google+, here is my (unsurprisingly short) entire Google+ feed since 2011.

    Looks like we've reached the end, indeed.

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    Monday, March 22, 2021

    Passing of Time Day

    signs that both the weather and the pandemic are thawing

    Vaccinated grandparents indoors!

    Maia can now spell her name at school.

    Maia helps me grade the land around the new patio.

    Enjoying our new fire pit.

    tagged as day-to-day | permalink | 1 comment

    Wednesday, March 22, 2023

    Maia's Art Day

    Notable artwork from March 2022

    Hang on to your hats. I'm going to post more of Maia's artwork because I simultaneously want to remember it forever but don't want it all cluttering up the living room shelves!

    These cats are CRAZY.

    Half of us are surprised by the cat.

    Though not perfect, Maia's phonetic spelling of words is improving.

    This is the lyrics sheet for a song Maia wrote about love.

    I'm not in this picture because I'm "in the kitchen making dinner". Can you spot Ian's band-aid?

    A butterfly, of course.

    Rebecca's about to pop off on those monkey bars.

    tagged as media | permalink | 1 comment

    Friday, March 22, 2024

    Review Day: FreeTaxUSA

    After too many years of piggybacking off of the family TurboTax purchase, we finally took the plunge and used this year. It took the same amount of time as TurboTax and was a pleasant experience.

    The base product is free (you just need an email to make an account). You can e-file Federal for free and pay $14.99 for state e-files. It handled our investments just fine. We did W-2s, 1098, 1099-INT, 1099-DIV, 1099-B with the base product.

    It can import a PDF of last year's taxes to use as a roadmap. We found that it imported the official Returns just fine but overlooked a few details from Worksheets. However, it didn't cause any errors of omission as a result, it just said "We don't have data from last year" in those places and let us fill it in. Next year it will have everything it needs since our data is now in the system.

    What we liked better than TurboTax: Info tooltips are more helpful and clearer. Sometimes it felt like TurboTax's info tooltips were intentionally verbose to reinforce that you NEED TurboTax to figure everything out. I also liked that you can view a PDF of how the returns/worksheets will look as you are filling out a section, so you can see where the values end up and how they affect other values.

    What wasn't as good: You cannot import your W-2s or 1099s directly from the companies. (There is a beta feature where you can upload PDFs of these docs, but we just typed in the numbers by hand).

    What was the same:: You can go step-by-step through the tax categories or just get the bird's eye view and open the categories that you needed last year. They do bug you to upgrade a lot, which is more reasonable since it's a free product.

    Final Grade: B+

    tagged as reviews | permalink | 1 comment


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