Saturday, December 29, 2007

dude, do i still want to get married?

i've toyed about with the idea of getting married, but after this week...dude, taking care of kids is no joke. one reason i want to get married is to have kids. i mean, why not? kids are great - except all the time. this week, i was left at home thrice with my two-year-old nephew, and on the latest with hyperactive triplets about 10 years old. i was basically just chasing after them, and the "hey! i just cleaned this place up!" and "will this ever end?" feelings - among various others, including a sudden desire to strangle someone - came up quite often. still, i made it through - and i will never again (or at least i think i never will) take parenting for granted. if you just want to live your life and enjoy yourself without sacrifice, take my advice: don't bother with any serious relationship or kids. you'll be doing yourself a favour. i think i'm going to sleep it off.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

hold the phone!

okay...that was weird. why have my older female relatives started asking if i have a girlfriend and all that related stuff? you know, greet them (or her) for me, and so on? hold the phone, all right? is there anything wrong with being a single black male? like, i'm still young (plus i have a gazillion things to do). besides, i don't think i can handle a relationship yet. Lord knows the last almost-was nearly destroyed me. i still have baggage from it (okay, so it's not that long ago - like that means anything). this isn't to imply that it's only my relatives that do this - they just happened to be the last straw, so to speak. i'd rather that nobody asked - but then it just wouldn't be human. people care about other people - even when it pisses off the other people. it's bad enough that some people can't even let me talk to a female without getting very interested. please, people! i am not interested in anyone at the moment, and i am not dating anyone - nor do i have any plans to do so soon. you need selflessness in a romantic relationship - a virtue i have found i am all-too-lacking in. honestly, i don't know how she put up with my nonsense. and no, you're not entitled to know what went on. so thanks, but don't matchmake, don't ask, just leave me the h*** alone. me and the crew have this covered, aight? don't worry - something is going down. but you gotta trust me that now's not the time. thanks. later, y'all!

The text on the TextEdit icon

Apple's MacOSX Leopard comes with a text editor, TextEdit. the icon is a picture of a ruled sheet of paper and a clutch pencil. what it says is something great, and i think everyone should see it: look here

Monday, December 24, 2007

The truth about Santa Claus: An Engineer's Perspective

sometimes you do get some good 'spam'. i subscribed for news from the developers of IBExpert, and they send me updates on the program and all what not. today, i checked my mail and get this beauty. i'm reproducing it below for everyone to enjoy.

The truth about Santa Claus: An Engineer’s Perspective

  1. No known species of reindeer can fly. But there are 300,000 species of living organisms yet to be classified, and while most of these are insects and germs, this does not COMPLETELY rule out flying reindeer which only Santa has ever seen.
  2. There are 2 billion children (persons under 18) in the world. BUT since Santa doesn't (appear) to handle the Muslim, Hindu, Jewish and Buddhist children, that reduces the workload to 15% of the total - 378 million according to Population Reference Bureau. At an average (census) rate of 3.5 children per household, that's 91.8 million homes. One presumes there's at least one good child in each.
  3. Santa has 31 hours of Christmas to work with, thanks to the different time zones and the rotation of the earth, assuming he travels east to west (which seems logical). This works out to 822.6 visits per second. This is to say that for each Christian household with good children, Santa has 1/1000th of a second to park, hop out of the sleigh, jump down the chimney, fill the stockings, distribute the remaining presents under the tree, eat whatever snacks have been left, get back up the chimney, get back into the sleigh and move on to the next house. Assuming that each of these 91.8 million stops are evenly distributed around the earth (which, of course, we know to be false but for the purposes of our calculations we will accept), we are now talking about .78 miles per household, a total trip of 75-1/2 million miles, not counting stops to do what most of us must do at least once every 31 hours, plus feeding and etc. This means that Santa's sleigh is moving at 650 miles per second, 3,000 times the speed of sound. For purposes of comparison, the fastest man- made vehicle on earth, the Ulysses space probe, moves at a poky 27.4 miles per second - a conventional reindeer can run, tops, 15 miles per hour.
  4. The payload on the sleigh adds another interesting element. Assuming that each child gets nothing more than a medium-sized lego set (2 pounds), the sleigh is carrying 321,300 tons, not counting Santa, who is invariably described as overweight. On land, conventional reindeer can pull no more than 300 pounds. Even granting that 'flying reindeer' (see point #1) could pull TEN TIMES the normal amount, we cannot do the job with eight, or even nine. We need 214,200 reindeer. This increases the payload - not even counting the weight of the sleigh - to 353,430 tons. Again, for comparison - this is four times the weight of the Queen Elizabeth.
  5. 353,000 tons traveling at 650 miles per second creates enormous air resistance - this will heat the reindeer up in the same fashion as spacecraft re-entering the earth's atmosphere. The lead pair of reindeer will absorb 14.3 QUINTILLION joules of energy. Per second. Each. In short, they will burst into flame almost instantaneously, exposing the reindeer behind them, and create deafening sonic booms in their wake. The entire reindeer team will be vaporized within 4.26 thousandths of a second. Santa, meanwhile, will be subjected to centrifugal forces 17,500 times greater than gravity. A 250-pound Santa (which seems ludicrously slim) would be pinned to the back of his sleigh by 4,315,015 pounds of force.

In conclusion: If Santa ever DID deliver presents on Christmas Eve, he's dead now.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

back home

just got back home. it's great to be home, even if christmas is overrated - as usual. still, there's something to be said for being with family. nothing like family to make you wish you didn't have any. hehehe. anyway, gotta ride, so see y'all. merry christmas (i've been taken to task for saying 'happy holidays').

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

hey everyone. how's it hanging? i was wondering - what do you do if you have a program that does almost everything you want it to do - but it fails in one or two areas? install two (or more) of them? but then that would violate Occam's Razor. for instance, i use XnView for most of my (decidedly horrible) image management. the full version is a little hefty, but i love it. it supports lots of formats (mostly view), including audio/video files (it seems to have crashed when previewing a Flash Video (.flv) file just now, though) and PDF documents (you'll need Ghostscript installed, though). and it's free for non-commercial use. i love it - but it always crashes when i use it to browse a certain folder on my computer. that folder has 667 image files (and no, i didn't make that up - it really has that many images), a few of which didn't download properly (so only part of the file displays). i'm not sure if it's because of the number of files or the corrupt files, but since it crashes regularly, i had to move the files into subfolders so XnView handled fewer files per folder. that worked, but since i use those images rather often (and have to choose a few from them everytime), i moved them all back into the same folder again and use Windows Explorer's thumbnail view instead. i was on LifeHacker and found out about FastStone image viewer, and while it doesn't have as many perks as i'm used to from XnView - it doesn't crash when browsing that folder. i may not need to use that folder so often anymore, and i'm going to format my computer soon, so it doesn't matter now - but i'm going to reinstall Windows, and will need to choose an image browser. should i install both, or have to choose between them?

it's easier to choose when the difference between the programs is relatively minor. an an example, i blogged about Linotype FontExplorer X recently. it has a lovely iTunes-style interface and it's pretty good (i've not used it much, so be wary of my opinion) - but the one thing i miss from Proxima FontExpert is the ability to temporarily activate a font until the system reboots (it works on the Mac, but it seems the feature didn't - or hasn't - made it to the PC, at least not in the beta). it does the same thing as Bitstream Font Navigator (creates a shortcut to the installed font in your Windows fonts folder). i think it was also on LifeHacker i got a link to Veign CFont Pro. while its interface leaves much to be desired (aesthetically speaking - don't knock it if it works), it does what i want it to do - activate a font temporarily until reboot. so - i should just ignore FontExplorer X and use CFont Pro, right? wrong, because CFont Pro has so far not recognized any font not in the TrueType (.ttf) format. Postscript (.afm + .ini + .pfb + .pfm) and OpenType (.otf) fonts were ignored, a major minus. checking on the features page, it's supposed to support them - so i have no idea what's happening on my machine. maybe there are some missing system components. ah well. we don't live in a perfect world.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007


who invented deadlines? can i kill him? pretty please? Microsoft has recently released XNA Game Studio 2.0 (and the price tag is a hefty $0. so if you're a C# developer and would like to create homebrews for Windows or the XBOX - please, help yourself). that's not too surprising - software gets released all the time, right? not that long before that, they also released Visual Studio 2008 (i got the Express edition, and Visual C++ 9.0 Express has some cool stuff out of the box - no need to download the Windows/Platform SDK to develop native Windows applications anymore. whoopee!). what's surprising is that XNA Game Studio 2.0 - get this - integrates seamlessly with Visual Studio 2005 products (specifically for C#), but not with Visual Studio 2008 products (look here for more details). If you're an XNA Game Studio user and want the new version, don't uninstall (or go reinstall) Visual Studio 2005 (if you want, install just VC# 2005 Express), or face the consequences. while there are workarounds, you really didn't sign up for hard work. that's why you became a programmer, wasn't it?

smaller is better, or so i think

back when computer users needed training to use computers (and it really wasn't that long ago), programs generally took the approach that one program was supposed to do one thing - or a very few related things - well. so you would use a graphics program for creating graphics, a word processor to create documents, and a DTP program to lay out documents you wanted to publish. every program had its place. little wonder so many companies released application suites, such as Lotus', Microsoft's and Corel's office application suites. even a giant like Adobe wasn't left out (or why would they have Photoshop, Pagemaker, Illustrator and so on?).

all that changed as users wanted to do more with less and software vendors wanted to win the format wars (i also think that the programming joke about the universe and programmers also holds water, but for the purpose of being nice, i'll leave that out for now). as an example, a program like CorelDRAW - originally a vector illustration program - added more features like bitmap effects and DTP. so many other programs have gone the same way - Photoshop added vectors, word processors became DTP tools, and so on. despite all that, it's still good to see a program that does a few things well. my opinion is, the smaller and more specific the program's feature set is, the better. smaller programs are just easier to master. take for instance, what i use for 3D (even though i don't work in 3D often). more often than not, i do my modeling in Wings3D and then import the model into Blender. there, i do my scene setup, add materials, import textures created/edited in one or more programs and then render (more often than not, using an external renderer). it's not that Blender doesn't have modeling tools - it does - more modeling tools than Wings3D, and in fact, i started using Blender before i started using Wings3D. then why? simply because Wings3D is a much smaller program and takes much less to master than Blender (i also think modeling in Wings3D is simpler, but that's a matter of opinion).

Google Sketchup is another example. it's basically a modeling tool. the (relatively) smaller feature set is one reason it's rather popular (the $0 price tag on the free version is also another reason), but i think even the paid version is popular because it's smaller and the features can be learned in a smaller time.

so am i advocating that software vendors strip out features from their software? not particularly. i merely think that users would rather do a few things very well than a lot of things badly. for instance, while lots of documents can be laid out in a word processor, word processors are still not good enough for some things. otherwise, we would have seen the end of such programs as Pagemaker (people, let's face facts - word processors still suck at DTP) and the LaTeX variants.

in the end, productivity is the key. and i think that we're returning to the time when an application will do a few things well - or why would mashups and web services be so popular? the main obstacle to that is data interchange (the format wars aren't over, even if there are now open standards for data exchange). until the day when we can just create applications using a plugin-type architecture (load graphics, text processing, DTP and PDF output) or we use a workflow, we will be stuck with feature-rich (and therefore feature-useless) and bloated applications (if you need to put incremental search into your application, it's really big). but hey, what do i know? i'm just a college kid with horrible grades. and a horrible attitude. and i reserve the right to be wrong, since we have lost control of the apparatus.

before i leave, though, i'd best say what led me to this rant. i've taken a few cursory looks at both Scribus and Creative Docs .NET. i was looking at the second, and wondering why we needed them - then it hit me. we still want programs that do just what we want them to. failing that, we'd be happy if they'd work as advertised (no, this does not include the kind of people who want 3D programs to have the 'Create Eye-catching Animation' button. i mean people who're actually interested in doing work - if they'll get results). i think it's unfortunate though. we may just have been misinterpreted as saying we want gazillions more features. so hail the (usually) independent developer who codes that app you got so used to you can't do without.

Friday, December 14, 2007

search engine annoyances

man, i'm beginning to hate finding my blog posts in search engine results. when i had my old blog, i mentioned looking for some information about a particular subject and getting my blog post about such things as ranked first by Google. something similar happened recently. what i really want to find out is what someone other than me has to say about it. i know what i already said about it - or i can find out!

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Never give up...and various other things

here i am on this rather ordinary morning, hungry and having spent too much time (as usual) on the internet. like most of the people i know, i've dabbled into quite a number of things related to computers - web "design", 3D, programming, design and so on. it so happens that i learned about the wonderful program FontExpert from Proxima Software. i like it a lot - but you can only use it for 15 days for free. since i had the "format bug" for quite a while, i never did have problems using it, as i would use it to install/manage fonts and then format my system not too long after. but recently, i realized that i hadn't formatted my computer in a while. i hadn't designed much in a while, either - so when i needed font management, i installed FontExpert as usual. here's the catch though - i haven't formatted my computer in quite a while, over 6 months in fact. not does it seem i'm going to do so before the year runs out. unfortunately, my shareware use of FontExpert has expired, meaning that times like last night when i wanted to design a quickie for someone - i once again lamented the expiration, and merely used to the fonts installed on my machine

now don't misunderstand me - i have great fonts on my machine. but i limit the number living in my Windows fonts folder to 500 these days (47x isn't so bad) so i can maximize my computer. what i particularly love about FontExpert is its ability to temporarily activate a font - so you can use it until you restart your machine. and no, i can't easily pay for FontExpert because it's like pulling eye teeth to pay online here (the fact that a certain well-known company doesn't allow Nigerians to create accounts with it may help you understand). so i am stuck without a font manager. i'm not interested in certain font managers that create shortcuts fonts you install using them - i'm a weird one, and for any number of reasons i'd rather have a font actually living in the Windows font folder than have a shortcut to it (what if i installed it off a removable disk?).

anyway, i was looking for high-quality free fonts this morning, and once again saw that Linotype has a free font manager for Windows and Mac OS X, Font Explorer X. unfortunately, i missed the beta period for the PC version, and the program isn't available for download anymore - until it's released. seriously in need of a font manager, and without recourse to some avenues to solving my problem, i began searching for a mirrored download for Font Explorer X, especially since there were so many rave reviews. searching on Google didn't yield anything, so i looked using something else, and found a download on the second try (if i was going to tell you what i used, i would have already, so can it). now i have Font Explorer X running in memory on my machine. okay, i'll back down a bit - the download was from the Linotype site - but i didn't visit the site before i found the link.

maybe it's because i'm using the US version of Firefox, but isn't there a word like 'learnt' in English? or why is Firefox telling me i have a spelling error there? i started Breath of Fire IV, and George and Victor got interested, and started playing it too. i've since finished it once (again), but they're still playing it - even though George has more time on the clock than i do (i finished in about 52 hours), and that doesn't include all the times he got his party killed and had to restart (i think the worst that happened to me was i lost my Knight dragon trying to beat the Rider without using Celerity and had to escape that fight...oh, i also got a Game Over trying to Steal the Dragon Tear from Fou-Lu). plus, my characters are all at higher levels than his and i have more Game Points and Fishing Points than he does - even though he's using a walkthrough. what really is the moral of this (supposedly interesting but completely unnecessary) story? experience. what makes one person able to do some things better than others might just be experience. and personal experience is built from doing the thing yourself. there are few things in this life you can master without doing the dull, rote everyday, mundane thing. but experience can beat talent. which is the point of the final episodes of History's Strongest Disciple, Kenichi. and the point of this post. later then!

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Exams have started i have very little time to do this. i really need to get out of here. i'll post an update later.