One Last Step

The Drupal Who Is... theme is created. The last step is to port over the content. It should be done this week

-Shawn "If the Name Don't Rhyme It Ain't Mine" Conn

Keep on rollin... know what time it is.

In the works...

I'm on the way to porting Who Is over to Drupal. You can check out it in progress over here.

Just Not Enough Time

It seems lately there's just way too much things pulling at my attention. I prefer to be the minimalist so this has caused some uneasy with me as of late. There's just too much, too soon, and not enough time to get it out of the way. The Raven/Strange Case hasn't been touched. I've fell into a work/relax/some time socialize routine that has prevented a lot of free exploring of ideas. This has also eliminated a lot of free time, essential for creative projects like this. Once I start focusing on a goal or accomplishment, I tend to become very myopic. This sometimes works out for the good, as well as for the bad. Managing life outside of projects: bad, life inside of projects: good.

Projects as of late have been mostly computer-orientated. Its kind of funny, a couple of years ago I swore off getting a real job as I was burnt out on computers, programming, etc. A few years later, I'm in the same routine again. I guess the money is too hard to swear off. On the other hand, the projects I have now are a little different from what I was burnt out on. Pretty much all the stuff I'm doing now is web-related. This has always been a hobby of mine. Funny enough, very little of what I learned in college covered the stuff I deal with now in my job. However, it does go hand in hand; knowing generalities about computer science helps a lot with knowing about web stuff and vice versa. And really, all the stuff I deal with in Ubercart & Drupal is more programming than it is web design/graphic design.

Other than work, I've just recently finished the new server, mitaphane or Proffessor Boxwine if you prefer. Its an old Dell Dimension 4700. I bought it off of Ebay for a decent price and it was in great condition. Looking at the inards, it looked like it was hardly used; there no signs of dust at all on the inside from what I could tell, unless the guy cleaned it out which I doubt. It has been upgraded to 2.5GB of RAM and has over 1.3TB of hard drive space. It now contains every video game I've every owned. Combined with the other modded devices I have, I have over 2.6 TB of data among them all. Craziness. Unfortunately, I don't have a big enough of pipe for mitaphane to be useful as big web server. However it will work out well as a small test web server, FTP server, and game image hosting server on a local network.

Random Stuff Found Last Week: GMaps Street View Easter Egg

I'll try to keep up the posts, but I think my next big project is to move this site over to a Drupal based site. After working with it, its just too easy to work with to not do for "Who Is..." Anyway, a lack of sleep is catching up with me, I need some rest....

-Shawn "If the Name Don't Rhyme It Ain't Mine" Conn

Mad Money

NTDOY $40! I betting by the end of tomorrow we'll see it jump past $40. For past reference I bought in at $22 sometime in August. At the time I expected it to hit around $30. It seemed like a sure fire bet. The company has billions in the bank, sold the Wii at a profit, has historically dominated the handheld gaming market, had a phenomenal showing at E3, and was targeting a new, ripe market of potential gamers. However, I didn't expect it do this well. The Wii still has supply problems, a sign of very strong demand despite all the bogus claims I've heard that the short supply is intentionally created to give the console "free advertising"; Nintendo makes the most money from the Wii by selling their games and royalties from other games sold for the Wii (the more consoles sold equals more potential games sold, limiting supply is counterintuitive to this).

On top of the money I've been making from my other jobs and ventures, I've been doing really well. Its been a fun ride but I'm going to get off here pretty soon. Once it hits past $40 I'm sell off a big portion of it, probably limiting myself to only $1000 (~25 shares) at most. From all that I've been learning about the stock market it seems like the best plan of action not to keep all my money on one stock. On top of that, there's a lot of things that I don't know much about that could hurt me like how the dollar trades to the yen. Also Nintendo's stock is rather odd compared to other stocks since it doesn't trade on an American stock exchange. The stock NTDOY, is what's known as an ADR. It's a receipt for a fraction of the 1 Japanese stock, NTDOF, 1/8 to be specific. In other words, for every 8 shares of NTDOY I own 1 original Japanese stock. In one way, its good, Nintendo's stock on the Tokyo Stock Exchange is under a certain category that can only be bought in a lot, 100 shares, at a time. For one original share of NTDOF, costs ~37,000 yen or 319 dollars. In other ways, its bad, the stock doesn't have an immediate displayed trading price since these kind of stocks are traded as OTC, between the parties holding them rather than on a stock exchange.

I've learned a lot so far about the market and I like to learn more. In order to do that I'm going to have to start buying into other markets. That means I'm going to have to spend more time doing research. With NTDOY it was pretty easy given the intimate knowledge I have with the gaming industry; I know what factors move the industry up and down. Hopefully I can remain as successful with other markets as this.

I don't think it was until about this year I've considered myself a capitalist. By that I mean I actually understand and believe in the model on which capitalism works. I've always been for capitalism in the sense that I've been for the freedom in which a free market works and been opposed to something like communism which just promotes mediocrity in my opinion. In the end, all economic models, whether it's communism, socialism, capitalism, aim to achieve prosperity for all the members involved; they just go about different means to achieve that.

Communism works on the premise that all members will equally share the burden of things on the idea members will contribute equally for the common good. However, this model ignores the short-sighted selfish nature of people and, just as important, ignores the differences between people and their abilities. It might work on a microeconomic level (e.g. a small town) where people can comprehend how their time and effort is being exchanged in return for someone else's time and effort, however anything beyond that requires some sort of common commodity to place a value on a person's time and effort (i.e. money).

Capitalism thrives in an everyone-for-himself, do-or-die, survival-of-the-fittest environment. It works with the premise that, in the end, everyone is concerned with their own benefits and will work hard to achieve those benefits. It quickly promotes new ideas and new thinking that creates new business models that can create wealth for those with the smarts and determination to make it happen. In short, it provides quick feedback for what works and what doesn't work for a society. While it does create a model in which many more prosper, it does have a blind side in that ignores the benefits caused by everyone pooling their resources together.

Socialism, in marxist theory sense, is suppose to go beyond capitalism. To put it one way, its an evolution of capitalism where all the tools of capitalism have been put in the hands of the people (whatever that means). In practice, it means varying degrees of government social programs and laws on property and other such capitalist tools. In one way, it does have a good idea that there is a need to move beyond the completely selfish model of capitalism that society can't be in harmony unless everyone tries to help another in someway. In another, it still is ignorant in the same way communism is ignorant about the fundamental nature of human beings; we are inherently selfish, even in acts that are selfless. Most people, being social minded creatures by nature, have a built in mechanism that psychological promotes altruism.

Like everything, the answer lies somewhere in the middle, a balance between capitalism and socialism. Or perhaps it isn't...(more to continue)

-Shawn "If the Name Don't Rhyme It Ain't Mine" Conn

Requiem for a Dream

Those who frequent this site or know me well are probably familiar with what my last post was all about. For the rest of the uninitiated, that was old info about my Camel Cash collecting caper. I say old because it came to an end; last Saturday Camel stop redeeming Camel Cash for thank-you-trinkets.

This wasn't a surprise. The writing was on the wall for a while. Camel even called me to tell me about the cancellation of the program back in October. What I was disappointed with was the awful selection of stuff they had to offer while the program was closing since October: some cigarettes for a month and coupons for the remaining months which sold out about a month or two ago. I wasn't surprised, I figured they'd go with some sort of move like this. I was however surprised by the number of people still selling and buying Camel Cash on eBay. The market on Camel Cash bottomed out real quick after the announcement, but they were still going up until the end.

At some point I'm going to do a finally tally for all the Camel Cash I collected. Before I do that however, I'm going to come up with some elaborate way to get rid of them all. Blowing them up, burning them, burial at sea are few things going through my mind. I'm not sure which one I'm going to do yet. Expect a post about soon after I go through with my plans.

Dreams maybe gone, but goals are still alive

I'm not going to fret about the past though. I'm looking towards the future as everything else is going well.

All the website stuff is nearly complete: the new Bei Capelli (now #1 on Google!) looks slick with the new Drupalization. Funny enough, the old #1 ranking, which recently went online, dropped off the entire list it looks like. Upon checking their website I noticed that its a flash-only site. Bad move: all flash = no substance as far as web crawlers are concerned. Aside from the bad music, annoying sound effects, and dumb animations that slow the process of getting new pages, you can't copy any text off the page. If there's one thing I hate most about flash only sites, it's that. Any info I could easily copy to put some where else is now impossible. With the ubercart project working well toward a solid release, the bei-capelli site should be doing well for the next year.

The other sites are doing well too: FrazeRescue is now self sufficient(even though I loathed working with the exising antiquated table position for design); I've gotten John's three websites online (the matter of content is still up in the air while I wait to hear back from him). There's a matter of money I'll be dealing with in this upcoming month, but otherwise I've gotten most of everything wrapped up. I'm glad to be done with it. Between all these sites, the new wiki, my own site, and work, I've been burnt out on doing thing related to websites. With that out of the way, I feel like I'm enjoying work more since I don't have to dedicate every hour of my waking life to websites for other people. The project I'm working on at work is coming along nicely and I should be done in the next week or so.\r

Since I've hit my goal of savings, I started a new savings account with the same bank that I have my stock brokerage account with. With the interest I make off of it, I make about $500 a year for doing nothing; that's pretty much the cost of my yearly cell phone bills + some extra. Nice. The earnings I make for these next few months should keep me well prepared for anything that comes along. By the next few months I should have a well saved up amount for moving out. \r

Looking ahead to my next goals, its time to start getting physically active again. With lack of sleep, a desk job, and getting websites done, I've fell out my exercise routine again; I'm going to start warming up for that this week. Aside from that, I'm looking forward to soon reboot the Proffessor Productions project, Double Creature Feature: The Raven & Strange Case. The main features are already on the project session created for the DVD. There's still a matter of bonus features, subtitles, audio tracks, and the like. It's going to be a lot to do but I'm looking forward to it.

-Shawn "If the Name Don't Rhyme It Ain't Mine" Conn

Old News

Camel Cash

This box tracks my progress on saving camel cash. One of my little idiosyncrasies is collecting Cancer(Camel) Cash. I have made it my personal goal to earn enough to get a pool table despite the fact that I know they don't have one in their catalog. I don't smoke either but considering all the people I know it hasn't been that hard to collect so many. I could rehash why I started collecting it but it's easier to show the letter I sent Camel a while back.

902 East Cottage Grove Avenue Apt. #1
Bloomington, IN 47408-3963
August 31, 2004
To Whom It May Concern:
My name is Shawn Conn. I write this letter to you knowing that it may be ignored. Regardless, I write this message to you. I have been on a quest for 4+ years now. Ultimately, the goal of this quest concerns you but first I will tell you how the quest got started.
I have been a long fan your product, Camel Cigarettes. Around the beginning of 2000 or the end of 1999 a friend of mine, John Popp, began smoking Camel cigarettes. He was not interested in saving the Camel Cash that came with the cigarettes. I, however, was interested. I was curious how much a person could collect be getting these cigarettes. Thus, my quest began to save my Camel Cash.
As I don't smoke much as some people, I found it pretty hard to build up my fortune of Camel Cash. It was around then I realized a lot of my friends smoked your cigarettes. In the summer of 2000 I decided that I would make an effort to collect all the Camel Cash from my friends. With our combined efforts, I decided that it would be great if I were able to get something really great out of all this smoking. It was then I decided that I would save enough Camel Cash to get a billiard table.
In the years to follow, with more smoking and more friends, my collection increased greatly. As my collection amassed, I decided to subscribe to your catalog to see what I could get with Camel Cash. I've seen many great items offered but sadly no billiard table. I figured if I've seen trips offered for around 4000 to 5000 then surely with double or triple that amount I could get a billiard table.
I decided at certain number of Camel Cash that I would write to about this matter. So here I am at the request of my letter. I'm asking you what, if anything, I could do to get a billiard with the Camel Cash that I've been saving for 4+ years. It has crossed my mind that you've most likely received this request before and ultimately my quest is futile. But without dreams and goals life is rather dull. So I ask this request and I hope for a positive reply. Thank you for your time.
Shawn Robert Conn

As of 2006, I enacted a plan that I had mused about for some time. I would take the camel cash, buy things(such as cigarettes), and then sell those things for money. I would then save up the real money and when I had earned enough I would buy a pool table. Sure it's not as honorable as my original goal, but it's much more practical.

Time's Up

Posts have been terse and uninformative as of late. I've been busy with a number of different thing going on at the same time. Some of it good (work is fulfilling, websites are getting finished, etc), some of it bad (not much sleep, feeling slightly ill, not much time for friends and family). I just been recently thinking about the idea of money.

The Wikipedia Help Desk is a great place for perusing. Because of the size of wikipedia ( nearing the top 10 website in the world), people from all over the globe of different cultures, beliefs, religions, jobs, etc frequent the site. The user base, like the a lot of the Internet as a whole, tilts toward that male, middle-class, white, English-speaking, demographic (thus gargantuan articles about Magento compared with the more academic topics like history of South Africa), but regardless you see many different perspectives over the wikipedia. On the help desk in particular, you see a huge number of reference questions about all kinds of things, even questions that aren't really academic oriented questions. I recall one reading from, presumably, a teenager asking wikipedia what he should do about this cute Asian girl he likes in his class. Lesson #1 kid, if you're asking Wikipedia for advice on the getting girls, you're in trouble. I guess there's so many people who find so much information on the wikipedia, they treat it as an all knowing source of knowledge.

Anyhow, the particular question that I read, on my mind was about money. Someone asked, how much would money could you get for the planet Earth. Many wikipedians, present company included, are observant to fine details. As such, the question fired off more questions: was this a hypothetical galactic market that bought planets; or, as I asked, do you mean what the value would be the entire world's currencies, lands, assets, GDP, etc? What I came to was the value of things are only relative to a different markets that has certain scarcities associated with them. Being such, if everyone sold everything at the same time, it wouldn't have any value because no one would be buying anything. And certainly, now that we have fiat money, our money really doesn't mean anything; it is worthless per se. More and more, with the advancement of electronic payments, the idea of money is becoming less and less tangible.

Money is Time

To dig up and reverse a commonly used phrase, this is my conclusion. If you want to think about in a very communistic( or maybe socialistic?) none of us own anything in the sense that we are absolutely guaranteed that we can do anything, at anytime, ever, with something we own. Depending on what we are talking about we have more or less freedoms on our property; I can smash my computer to bits right now or sell it; my sister has restrictions on what she can and can't do with her property based on agreements with the subdivision she lives in; Bill Gates can sell all his shares in Microsoft but he's limited by a number of laws regarding stock trading for sure. What we do own is near exclusive use of a property which, in turn, gives us certain privileges (a machine to crunch numbers, a place to live, a revenue producing company). These privileges are limited to a select few (not everyone has a particular part of land, not everyone has ownership in a certain company, not everyone owns a certain type of computer) and thus it is weighted a certain value in how tough it is to get. This is the value that our money is tied to.

Because of our own unique abilities we have different amounts of time that it takes to achieve a certain goal. It takes time to do anything regardless of what we are trying to achieve. Sometimes its in pursuit of a certain object (good), other times it is to alter existing objects (service). Either way, a certain amount of time will be consumed in whatever goal we will. All of us have goals in life, even the most aimless of people have the most basic of functions, to survive, as a life without purpose is one often shorted quickly, most often by one severely distraught with the pain of a unrewarding life. To return to my presumption, as we are all trying to achieve our own goals, we give other people things they could not achieve in a reasonable amount of time(either because they are limited in time or abilities) to get them to the destination of their own goals. Restaurant staff gives people a certain food and drink in a quicker time than they could do it themselves, a miner produces coal for others who would otherwise not have the abilities to get it themselves (or the time it would take to find some else to do it), a software maker produces a tool which crunches number that others cannot do by themselves( or don't have time to do themselves). In essence, we are just trading around own time left on the planet, we just do through a tangible means to give us a reminder of what we can/can't do.

-Shawn "If the Name Don't Rhyme It Ain't Mine" Conn

Back On Top

Moving Soon

You'll hear more when the new site is up.

One down, two left

I've finished what coding I need to left with the site. The backend is now complete; I can leave the rest of content management to Katherine and move on to the next 2 projects, both of which I think are going to employ Drupal. In order for me to implement this on Bei Capelli I'm going to have to move over to a host that uses PHP 5. This also means Who Is... will be moving too as it piggybacks on BC. As annoying as this might be, it will work out for the best as the new host will be cheaper and have other benefits that this current host doesn't have. I'm shooting to get these both done by the end of March.

Not soon enough in my mind; with going back to a full time job and having these side projects eat into my time, I really haven't felt too great about things. It might be lack of free time, the stress of having many things going on at once, or the awful commuter traffic, but I'm not very happy right now about things. I'm sure the lack of physical activity and not-the-best-of-diets isn't helping either. I enjoy learning and coding for my job, the people I work with are very nice, but the office environment just isn't for me. It's too stuffy for the lack of better adjective. I guess wearing nice clothes, having a desk, and all that office type stuff puts pressure on me to do a good job, whatever that means. Ironically, being seated most of the day has some stresses as well. There's something about having to remain in one spot for extended periods of time that puts me at uneasy.

At least I can say, as the cliché goes, no pain, no gain; I have well over my goal of in my savings. Very little expenditures, plus long hours and projects, equals mad money. On top of that, after these projects, if anyone wants any web development work done from me, I'm charging them a lot more.

In other news I have a Google Talk account that I use at work, if anyone else uses that, Shawn.Conn is the screen name. Anyway, time to go...

-Shawn "If the Name Don't Rhyme It Ain't Mine" Conn

New Ventures

The new job has begun and its very demanding. I probably won't be out much socially for the next few weeks. Not until probably Gravity Head '07 over at New Albanian which starts 3/9 this year. For the job, I'm using this very powerful CMS called Drupal. I'm still trying to get the hang of it. It's odd because, in effect, using it requires me to write code(using the DrupalAPIs*), that write code(PHP and MySQL statements), that write code(HTML), that in turn get turned into webpages. It's incredibly meta and it's tough to wrap my head around it all. I've finished one of the two toy projects before I jump into something meaty. I'll probably be finished with that by tomorrow. It's a very easy tool to setup, so easy that I might use instead of the Box Wine Wiki.

Of course, I have to get finished with real projects before I start on the fake jokey ones. I'm hoping to finished by the end of the week. Right now, I'm writing a backend to the site so that it can all the content can be updated from just one page. From there, I might move onto to the limo site; right now I'm still owed some money that I have not heard back on. I'll be glad when this side web work is done; I got a lot of other things to take care of. I think its starting to deteriorate my well being.

-Shawn "If the Name Don't Rhyme It Ain't Mine" Conn

Wild Wild Web

The progress on the websites is moving along steadily. I've just now finished moving over the Fraze Rescue Foundations's site to its new home. When I first took on this project neither the domain name nor the website host were in the possession of the Foundation's owner, Katherine Fraze. To make things worse, on top of her not being very tech savvy, the domain and host owner were two different people. After getting the source code from the host owner and getting the domain back from the dude that registered it, setting up Katherine's GoDaddy hosting/domain registrar account, I finally got to trimming down the source code and moving it to PHP.

The vast majority of the code was reiterating the same table layout, javascript code, and other redundant elements that was in each static HTML page. With PHP, I was able to store all this redundancy in a couple of function calls. With that done, all I have to do is edit a couple functions to change design of all the pages on the website. What remains now is to go through the site with Katherine and see what content she wants added and where at. Before I'm done I think I'm going to added one master page, much like I've done with this site, where all the content and be changed without getting your hands dirty in HTML. The plan is to let the details of content be up to the owner while I only have to worry about the coding. That way it is easier for the both of us. Once I've done that, it's pretty much the same thing again for two other websites, well technically four depending on how you look at it.

As far as other website plans go, I think the BW Wiki will be on hiatus for a while; MediaWiki requires PHP 5.0 to work. My current host does not support this. I've been thinking about shopping around for a new hosting service, but its not the biggest priority for me. I might think about doing it later in the year once I am done with all these other web projects; I just have too much going on right now to deal with this.

Mediocre Melancholy Matters

Outside of my personal projects and goals, my life has been drab. The big art show at New Albanian last week was one of the rare highlights of my life lately. My social life has consisted of only BWM and occasional trips over to the cove. As much as I enjoy that, I've hit a point where I don't feel complacent anymore, but rather apathetic; the same format has worn tired on me. I feel it's for the best that the next BWM will mark a change; none of the crew will be able to keep it going for so late anymore, at latest 12 p.m., as we all will be working jobs that require earlier hours. Being comfortable is nice but it can also become a trap. For better or worse, more change will be welcomed, if for anything to break a tedious cycle.

-Shawn "If the Name Don't Rhyme It Ain't Mine" Conn

A Spontaneous Thought

There is no ultimate free will. We are governed by mechanics of the universe, some of which we understand, some of which we don't understand. The struggle of life seems to reward those that most understand and adapts to its situation. This adaption I think could be called evolution. This understanding I think could be called pattern matching.

We, as humans, are exceptional pattern matchers. It is embodied in the scientific method. We can experience similar things, compare them, and then find and understand rules that match all the patterns together; the rules of physics, economics, society, and pretty much all human knowledge is the result our ability to match patterns. We often don't give ourselves enough credit enough for this ability when placed against the king of the information age, computers; cranking out the result of simple algorithms over and over is nothing compared to knowledge needed to understand the computer in the first place.

Unfortunately or fortunately, from your perspective that ignorance is bliss, our size and mental capacities prevent us from seeing the entire canvas of the universe in its totality. When we limit our perspective to just a few variables we able to understand patterns, whether that is the function of social norms or physics of electronics. However, as we pull back our perspective, our ability to keep everything in mind, the patchwork of all patterns making the big picture, eventually hits its a fundamental limit. Therein lies the illusion of free will, our inability to become omniscience; an incapacity to see everything forces us to forget, or be ignorant of, those forces that do control us.


The Cream Rises to the Top

Off the Charts.png
Mission Accomplished

Two down, five to go

On the note of accomplishment, I can knock another goal off the list. I can now say that I really have a real career type of job with benefits, salary, health care, and the like. It's going to be challenging, but I'm not intimidated. I'll start at Vittitow on the 19th after I clear up things at with my other jobs. I'd like to be back up support for the Sportstime evening shift if possible, I'll see if Kate is down for that. As I clear that up, I've got some reading up to do to get familiar with some new tools I'll be using. The best part of getting into this project is that I'll be able to use with another web project that I have going. Two birds, one stone...very nice.

I don't really have much more to say so I'll just leave you with this:

So Far So Good

Things are looking good from all angles. Nearing my 4000th edit, I've finished up some of the immediate projects over at the Wikipedia. Over this year I'm looking forward to adding references to wikipedia's video game articles. Video game journalism, like many other types of journalism I'd imagine, is shifting toward a world where the Internet is the primary source of news. Prior to last year when I started the magazine project, I had not throughly read a game magazine for years. This blog post I read a while back pretty much sums up my feelings toward game magazines these days; in short, it's on life support. This being the state of things, finding references for older games 10 or more years removed is tough. This project hopefully, will fix some of those problems. In the future, I'd like an article for NABC.

I'm going to put the wikipedia stuff aside for now. The next big thing to focus on is getting the websites done. Bei Capelli needs a complete make over. Like this site, I'm going to modify it to where it possible to update the site via a browser. This way, managing content will be in my sister's and Whitney's hands. Also there is the Fraze Rescue site. I just now managed to wrestle the domain name from its previous owner. Like Bei Capelli, I'm going to set it up where Katherine Fraze, the owner, will be able to manage it herself. In both these cases, its going to be tough because I'm essentially having to create non-technical tools to technical things. And outside of these sites, there's the J Co, Derby Limo, and 3rd Collision sites to do.

After I finish these projects up, I'm going to put down freelance web design. First, the pay isn't that good; I don't charge much because I don't think many of my websites are that good (with the exception of this one). Second, rooted in first problem, I'm not a graphic or content designer. HTML, CSS, FTP, MySQL, Perl, etc... are all easy stuff once you've had the programming background I've had. However, creating a nice looking layout and generating content isn't my thing. Creating this website was easy, I had an idea what I wanted this site to look like, I knew what coding would be involved, and I knew what content I had and where I was going to place it. Doing that for someone else's business isn't as easy; without any inspiration, the design suffers.

Looking toward my other goals this year, I'm very confident that I've found a new real job. I had a interview with Vittitow Refrigeration today. Will forwarded me an email December about a job opportunity with one his buds, Andy, from Ultimate. Gaging from the interview, Andy seemed impressed with my motivation, he mentioned modding an XBox and fixing Wii straps; I guess he must have checked out my site. The job is for a programmer position, his team is working on an Open Source Shopping Cart to tailor for Vittitow's site. From the way he talked, it sounds like he's looking to split the team he has from the Vittitow company and primarily work on all kinds other e-commerce projects, so the opportunity to work there past this 6 month-1 year project is good. I look forward to hearing back from him.

Wii Stuff


With all that has been going on, I haven't been playing many games. Mostly I've been keeping to WiiSports Boxing. It turns out that that chart that keeps track of your skill points isn't scaled past around 1800. Once you get around that many points, the graph starts to go off the charts. Funny as it looks, I've been trying to get it to go off the screen. From the looks of things, I bet around 2900-3000 will take you off the screen. The only problem is getting the points. After around 1600, the CPU stops getting harder (in terms of skill points), however getting more points does. From where I'm at, if I don't get a knockdown in the first round I lose points, even if I win the match. On top of that, it seems I get less and less skill points after earning so many points. I'm hoping it stays at the rate I'm at which would give me 3000 in about 15 victories.

In other Wii related news, I've sold off about a 1/4 of my Nintendo shares. The idea was to keep the same amount of money I've invested in the first place. While, I don't make as much if the stock rises, I don't lose that either if the stock falls. I expected NTDOY to go to $30, but I didn't expect it jump up much past that; right now it's trading at $36. At this rate, once Nintendo releases their earnings for 4Q in March, I wouldn't be surprised if it jumps up to $40. If that happens, I should be well on track for $10K this year.

-Shawn "If the Name Don't Rhyme It Ain't Mine" Conn


I should have my magazine project work done by the end of this month if not before. On another note, by tomorrow, January 18th, neither a huge terrorist attack nor the apocalypse has arrived. Tony Beard's $10 will be mine.

-Shawn "If the Name Don't Rhyme It Ain't Mine" Conn

Last Post of 2006

With Christmas here and gone, all that's left is the beginning of the new year. There's many things on my mind right now that I need to settle before I can look ahead. The holidays were fun, if not rushed. I felt as if things were going at a faster pace than what should be. I'm not sure as to why that is. Perhaps it's a matter of having my mind focused on a lot of areas; My sister and her long term boyfriend are now official engaged; I'm concerned about finding a real job so I can move out; the high council meeting went through successfully; my grandmother, I think, has officially lost it in my view.

On Christmas Eve night we, my dad, mom and I, were over at my grandma's house. Grandma Montgomery, my mom's mom, since 2000 hasn't been the same since my grandfather died. Starting this year, it has become fairly obvious that she now has some type of dementia. She calls at crazy hours obsessed over the idea of some one stealing her money. This was the first year, since I was born, we didn't do the family dinner at her house because she didn't want to pay for anything there. While we were over there it was a bit uncomfortable. All she wanted to talk about was bank statements which visible hurt my mom who has lost all patience to deal with the matter.

As my parents futilely tried to explain her bank statements, I watch ed the television, tuned to public TV. The sounds wasn't on very loud so I was more just watching the images as I zoned out. I saw words "emotional power", "mental power", and "physical power" go across the screen. I think the show was some sort of self help show, something about empowering yourself. It reminded me of what 2007's theme for me is going to be, Health, Wealth, and Success. These are my goals for next year. Mantras are very nice, but I want something more concrete so here's my goals for 2007:

  • Limiting fast food to one meal a week
  • Being able to run a mile with out a break.
  • Obtaining a new job
  • Savings in excess of $10,000.00
  • Finishing the 3 websites I have on my agenda
  • Completing the projects I started on the Wikipedia
  • Finishing the Raven/Strange Case DVD

Here's to 2007 and accomplishments, I'll see you next year to see how I did.

Being Human

At my job, my new job that I don't like to bring up too much, one of the guys I work with went on this mini speech about life. I'm not sure of exactly all his points. Maybe there wasn't one; he could of been talking for the sake of talking for all I know. He was having a bunch of stress in his life and he seemed to be pining for a simple life; he brought up how his grandfather's life was simple and monotonous, but content. He eventually came to the conclusion that most of life is repetitive, my interjected word, and boring but that is where you must find happiness, to which I agreed.

I've been wondering if the day will come that if we will ever transcend that, or are we forever destined to remain on this planet until something dooms us. I'd like to think we have a way out, to see beyond all this. I think the answer to that question remains tied to whether we are able to transcend our biology (perhaps through nanotechnology), and thus our environment, to live outside this world, or whether we find a complete model of physics that will allow us to feasible move beyond our solar system. I would like to see a world beyond this one.

-Shawn "If the Name Don't Rhyme It Ain't Mine" Conn

Old Words

I stumbled across this while looking at old posts. It kind of intrigued me so I decided to repost it. I think it was part of a novel I was writing a while back at IU. I got about a chapter into it and a framework of a plot and characters. It might still be around here somewhere.

"You ever think someone could be someone else?"

"What's that?"

"Like if someone could perfectly mimic another and be just like them? It would be like they we're someone else"

"I don' couldn't."


"Well even if you could take all the actions, idiosyncrasies, and all that shit, and perfectly copy it, It still wouldn't be the same. You wouldn't have the foundation. You wouldn't have the soul. You wouldn't have what really drives that person. It wouldn't be the same."

"Well if all the actions you see on the outside are the same as the inside how could you tell the difference between the real person and the mimic?"


"What the fuck does that have to do with anything?"

"Watch any through out their daily lives. They to do the same things over and over again. It does vary along the path of life but the variations, the redundancies, in their life all have the same theme. At the heart everyone there's some driving force or motive that takes precedence over others. That's where you'll find the true quality of any person. Just watch for it, you'll see the redundant themes that drive a person."

"You know the word redundancy makes it sound like people are boring."

"Well, people are."


"Yup, day in and day out, we're just the same old redundant set of emotions, feeling, drives, etc. We like to reiterate ourselves a lot. We pickup something we like to be, like to do, like to say, like to feel, and we keep doing that until we find something else that does it for us."

"What's wrong with that?"

"Not a damn thing."

Tomorrow I go for the gusto.

-Shawn "If the Name Don't Rhyme It Ain't Mine" Conn


Last weekend was filled was some great and bad times: Drinking and dancing on Thursday, laid back party at Lauren and Chris's apartment on Friday, the Vaughn family Christmas party on Saturday night, a violent stomach illness for me late Saturday night, and a recovery on Sunday with the annual NABC Christmas employee party finishing out the weekend. With over 13 hours of bowling, talking, drinking, Yahtzee, foozball, and Wii Sports, it was by far the best party I had been to in a long time. It left me drained the next day when I had to go to work, then the BWM follow up.

Speaking of BWM, there are a couple of things to announce. Next Monday is going to be a special Boxwine Monday Christmas. Not only to celebrate the holidays, but also to celebrate the introduction of Ted and Will into the Boxwine high council. It will take place late Christmas night to avoid complications with family events. The venue is still undecided. I was thinking about Sarah/Ben/Eric's place in New Albany, but I have yet to ask them. I'll be shopping around sometime this week to find an appropriate place. The other announcement is the upcoming plan to start a Boxwine wiki. With so many traditions and applications of Boxwine Monday, it has become apparent that there must be a master document to hold this information (much in the same vain of the Uncyclopedia). Looking at the requirements of Media Wiki, the free software that runs the Wikipedia. It might require an upgrade to a different hosting service though; the software requires PHP5, something my current host doesn't provide and isn't going to provide anytime soon.

The Price of Irresponsibility

My mind has been on the future much lately. In a month, it will be the next year and I will be $10 richer thanks to an easy bet. In a year, I hope to have a real job. In ten years, my future is very hazy. I think I will be doing fine, but I'm not so certain about my fellow countrymen. I'm really concerned about this country's health and wealth. As a reflection of its people, the government is spending much more than it is making; consumer debt as well as government debt is spiraling out of control. As strong as our economy is, our government and its people can not sustain outspending what it is making. Thanks to our bonehead president, we're committed to spending billions in Iraq before we can exit out with making the situation turn into total chaos. As far as I see it, the Iraq debate is over and everyone is finally realizing it; there was no threat from Saddam and whatever type of democracy Iraq has been given--remember our righteous reason for entering this region of Iraq?--has been bungled by our culturally inept and politically divisive administration. These costs, literally and figuratively, have been made and there's nothing to change that now.

Moving down the line of expenditures, what our government and its people, will be spending much of its money on in the next decades is health related costs, especially as the population grows older. While not the complete picture, our wealth is in part attached to our health. We might not be able to do much about the situation in Iraq, but everyone of us can do something about our health. Unfortunately, many Americans are just about as financial illiterate as they are physical bad shape.

I recently read an interesting article Aaron digged a while back titled, Obesity in America: The Awful Truth. It posits that fat people are destroying the country. Hyperbole for sure, but it's an attention getting opening that drives home an important point, an unhealthy lifestyle doesn't just cause harm to yourself but all of society. Excessively eating fast or junk food, not using seatbelts, smoking constantly, are all actions that will cost in some form whether that be for higher taxes for government assistance or higher premiums for medical insurance. As much as the libertarian in me wants government to back out of our personal lives, I'm willing to understand that, unless people want no guarantee on system that tries to help them when in need, we will have to pay more for activities that danger ourselves. It's rather unfortunate that people don't see that little changes in routine, smoking not so much, eating less, remembering to buckle a seat belt, can fix big things down the road.

-Shawn "If the Name Don't Rhyme It Ain't Mine" Conn

More Wii Straps Info

Strap Compare.png

Nintendo sells replacement Wii straps online through their store over at their Wii accessory section. For $1 plus a few extra dollars shipping you can get a replacement strap. I ordered a couple and they came in yesterday with a white box for my Wii Sports full sized printout cover. Just as I've been hearing through various sites, they are sending out straps with thicker laces. Just by glancing at them, I'd say the new straps are somewhere from 50% to 100% larger. I haven't tested them throughly but, just by feeling and pulling on them, you can tell the difference. Even more telling is when I took off the previous strap from before. From the adjoining picture, you can see threads already breaking off. This is the result of 2 1/2 weeks that includes 6+ party gaming sessions, plus steady personal use. It's not that hard to imagine that, after heavy use between many people, it would only need an inevitable one person swinging with gusto to lose control of the Wiimote and have break from the strap.

Strap Tear.png

In other cool Wii news, the annual NABC employee party is going to feature the Wii, rather my Wii. After the traditional bowling over at Vernon Lanes, the crew will be heading over to Prost, the adjoining banquet hall connected to our building, and be hanging out there for playing Wii, drinking, and other such debauchery. Amy will be renting out some large screen TV for the event. This is supposedly a secret, but I presume no one from work reads this site. Thus I'm entrusting you, the reader to keep it secret, keep it safe, and as always, keep it real.

-Shawn "If the Name Don't Rhyme It Ain't Mine" Conn

Wiinforced Wiiplacement Wiistrap for the Wiimote

There's nothing more frustrating than spending lots of time on something only to accomplish nothing. This was me last week. I had dived into Twilight Princess hardcore. Over the weekend, I probably played it for 30 hours. Initially, I was a bit disappointed with the motion sensitive controls. Knowing that this was initially designed to be a Gamecube game, I felt like the Wiimote actions were a tacked on after thought; any generic motion with controller translates to sword swinging. This feeling would change though. Acquiring more techniques and weapons lead to more subtle things you can do with the controls. They aren't as in depth as I would like, but it's still a blast.

Somewhere, perhaps feeling would 20 something hours, into the game I came across the full lure fishing experience in Zelda. You initially get a fishing rod near the very beginning of the game, but it's only a small but compared to the lure fishing that you get later on. The experience was, frustrating, to say the least. I'd sit out on the lake an impatiently wait, a lot, for a fish to bite. When I did get a fish it would break off the line a couple times; you have to keep the Wiimote level when it jumps out the water while reeling in with the nunchuck. To my disappointment, and anger, I found out, by tiring out my left arm, that reeling in fast does not translate at all to reeling in fast in the game.

Many times I would wear myself out trying to reel a damn fish by the time it was right next to the boat. Once it was right upon the boat, I would just keep reeling only to find out nothing would happen. Angered further, the game's tutor, a chick that works at a fishing store who rides in your boat, tells me I have to hold A+B to pull the fish out of the water. One, two, and perhaps a three times after hearing this message from the girl, I become enraged. I launched the controller from my hands towards the couch (realizing that launching a $60 controller at something else would have bad repercussions). Instantly, the strap for the controller broke off with the least bit of resistance.

Pissed at what I had done, I quit the fishing game to find myself back at the girl's shop. To at least express my real frustration in the game world, I launched Link's body straight into her fish tank, with a resounding, oh-so-lovely thud. After this she tells me that I'm disturbing her fish. Further emboldened, I kept this up. She eventually gets fed up and throws me out of her shop. I would later apologize for this as I needed to get back in the shop. The whole incident made me laugh, perhaps it was worth the broken strap.

The Fix

I ordered a very cheap replacement strap from Nintendo, however I had come up with a improvised solution. I took a nylon strap from an old digital camera that my mom had. I laced that through the Wiimote eyelet and then started to lace it around the broken off Wiimote strap. It didn't look very elegant but it was much stronger than that cheap tiny string that holds the original strap.

I kept lacing the nylon strap around the outside, inside, outside, etc until it was completely tight. At the time, it felt as if it was too loose. The plastic end that originally laced through the Wiimote stuck in an odd fashion. It looked like the new lace should wrap around it. Instead of doing over, I took the cheap route, duct tape.

With the duct tape holding it together, it feels pretty good. After finishing it and comparing it to the original strap, I see that I probably should have given a little more slack. I'm not complaining though, so far it has held up well.

A little blurb while I'm talking Nintendo

The Economist is a really good magazine. I've been reading it regularly since my boss, Roger, subscribes to it at Richo's. It's a very well written, information dense, well balanced magazine. From politics to pop culture, its article are well knowledged about a variety of topics. I came across this article a while back about Nintendo, its president, and his plans for the future. It's a nice little read.

A Definition

From Merriam-Webster...

Main Entry: vul·gar   
Pronunciation: 'v&l-g&r   
Function: adjective   
Etymology: Middle English, from Latin vulgaris of the mob, vulgar,   from volgus, vulgus mob, common people   
3 a : of or relating to the common people : PLEBEIAN     
  b : generally current : PUBLIC <the vulgar opinion of that time>        
  c : of the usual, typical, or ordinary kind   
4 a : lacking in cultivation, perception, or taste : COARSE     
  b : morally crude, undeveloped, or unregenerate : GROSS     
  c : ostentatious or excessive in expenditure or display : PRETENTIOUS

Now the word has a couple of different meanings as shown. Knowing the shown definitions, could one say that it implies that the common people, the mob, are typically morally crude, undeveloped or excessive in expenditure? What came first? The definition fitting common people or definition meaning crude or undeveloped? Or did they both develop at the same time?

-Shawn "If the Name Don't Rhyme It Ain't Mine" Conn

More Wii Channels

Weather coming December 20, News coming January 27, and hopefully the Internet channel will be here in the next month. Nintendo said they give it would be free of charge until June '07. (source)


After months of anticipation, the Wii is finally in my hands. If there is anything to gauge my excitement about this it would have to be that this is the first time I've camped out for a video console. Boarding somewhere between pathetic and ecstatic, I sat in Meijer for 24 hours to be one of eight people who was able to get a Wii at 12:01 am Sunday morning. It wasn't pretty and I probably could have got one somewhere else by waiting less but I regret none of it.

Prior to that week, I had already figured out which retail stores would be getting the console. Through some websites that listed average number of consoles per store, I was able to calculate the average number of consoles that every store would have. After getting each of the stores' opening hours, I figured the game plan would be...Meijer(with their free nunchuck deal and it being close to home), WalMart(also doing a sale at 12:01), Target(out of the way and opening at 8 a.m.), Toys R' Us (a little out of the way and having not as many stores as the big retailers meant more units per store), then maybe the big electronic stores like Circuit City and Best Buy. I knew that at 12:01, the day prior to launch, Meijer would be handing out bracelets in the store and getting one of those ensured a Wii. The rules were simple, get a bracelet, stay in the store for 24 hours(not leaving without permission), and get a Wii when they go on sale. Figuring the crowd would be bigger than the number of consoles, the plan was to attempt to get a bracelet. If I failed, I would just got to another store the next following night.

So at 11 pm, Friday night, Operation United Wii Stand began. Will, being the good friend that he is, sat along with me even though he didn't plan on getting a Wii. Surprisingly, the crowd who sat in with me was pretty diverse with ages ranging from around 10 to 60. I figured the only people who were such tenacious gamers were in my age group, but there was one woman in her mid 30's who there. She had been a fan of the Zelda series since the beginning and was determined to play Twilight Princess on her new Wii for Christmas. If this is any indication of Nintendo's attempt to market the Wii for a variety of people, they are going to have a very happy Christmas. Right now their stock is trading at 28.60. As Aaron put it, the investment in Nintendo's stock has paid for the Wii itself.

The sit in, with exception of the people I hung out with, was horrible. Uncomfortable seats and location(at first the decent layaway section, then the awful checkout aisle), made needed sleep near impossible. The only comfort I got was in fun conversations, giving stunned onlookers weird looks, food breaks, and an occasional acquaintance showing up to see me. The funniest conversation bit of that whole time was when Newt, Will and I were talking to some squirrelly sixteen year old kid. We were talking about someone doing a Power Glove like device for the Wii to which the kid responded with, "What's a Power Glove?" I guess our age is finally catching up to us.

For the time spent and the $361 spent on a total Wii package, it has been worth it for all the fun that has been had. Everybody from my gamer friends, sister, mom, dad, grandma, my boss Amy, and other non gamers, have loved playing Wii Sports. I'd say Wii Sports is the surprise hit of the console; it is not very complex and feels a lot like a simple demo but its still a lot of fun. Nintendo has managed to take the most exciting aspects of each sport it uses and wrap it around its new controller. And with a number of people at party, it becomes a blast. I've played probably five or six times as much as Zelda. If Nintendo can keep coming up with games like this, they will have nothing to fear from Microsoft or Sony.

By the way, with an email list that's being kicked around regarding Wii news, I've created a list of people and their Wii #'s for referencing.

Looking Forward

I mused a while back about coming up with a theme for the next following year for myself. I think I have found it now, Health, wealth, and success To put it more concretely, the plan is live healthier, achieve greater wealth, and find personal (and professional) success. I've already started underway with this. Wii Sports (on top of my normal exercise routine) has gotten me working parts of my body that have languished. This next following year, I plan on eating much less of unhealthy types of foods(pizza being the number one target thanks to working at a pizzeria). As far as wealth, I am already $600 richer thanks to that investment in Nintendo. Following into next year, I should be getting a new job along the lines of what I went to school for. I already have some freelance type of jobs to challenge me. And with success, I'm hoping to get the long stalled DVD project back in motion. I also hope to do a lot more for the Wikipedia, which I've recently taken a wikibreak from. I'm looking forward to a very happy and productive year.

Random Idea

I had an idea for a game show a while back that I wanted to jot down. The shows format I think would be much like Jeopardy!, including putting an exclamation mark at the end because exclamation marks make everything better. Contestants would be given some answer and they guess the question. The difference would be in the answering. Instead of the goal being answering correctly, the goal would be answering with funny replies. How funny the reply would be determined by the audience(perhaps even a remote audience). I'd imagine, given the quick wit that would be needed, comedians would probably be the bulk of contestants. There is a lot of details to work out, but I think it could be done really well.

-Shawn "If the Name Don't Rhyme It Ain't Mine" Conn

Burn Off

Not much to say about today, I've been severely lazy this past couple of weeks. It has been detrimental to my health and well being I think as well. I haven't had any motivation to do anything. I keep telling myself I'm just temporarily relaxing until I come across my next big thing. But I don't think that shit is going to fly anymore; I need a push. It's time for things to change. I'm tired of the same thing over and over. I've got to get out of this complacency trap. Location, occupation, motivation, these must change in the next following year; I need to move out of this house; I need to find a new line of work; and I need to find new things to push me. I got vague ideas about all these things, but nothing certain. This is what I need to do and fix.

Moving to more mediocre topics, I've recently finished Devil May Cry 3 and Xenosaga: Episode III. Both were fun but disappointing in a few ways. The gameplay for both were great. However, DMC3's story was utter stupidity. Xenosaga had an ok story but it got very convoluted near the end--I'm suspecting it's the result of trying to close up a story that was originally suppose to run 6 episodes. I guess a big problem is that I've just gotten tired of the feeling that I've played or seen the same games over and over. It can certainly happen with sequels.

I guess this is why I've been so excited by the Wii, the prospect of new concepts in gaming. I've been telling all kinds of people about it, and perhaps convinced one person of getting one. I bought 100 shares of their stock, which I think I'm going to hold on to for a while. As much as I've talked about it, you'd think I be a Nintendo employee or fanboy. It's not that. It's just since I've heard of the concept, I've seen the vision that Nintendo is trying to achieve. I'd like to own a PS3, but it won't for a while at their current costs (and supply). I just saw how much their controller, which has a blatant motion sensitive ripoff of Wii controller, will cost. As a comparison, an entry cost for me and a friend to play a game will be $599 (no self-respecting gamer will buy the watered down version) + $50 (controller) + $60(the new standard for "next-gen" games) = $709 vs. $250 (the Wii comes with Wii Sports) + $40 (Wii-mote) = $290. Of course this is not mentioning taxes or other peripherals you might want (like the ridiculous $50 HDMI cable). Given all this, I can't see how Nintendo can lose.

A Can't Lose Situation

So at work Tony was talking about the latest sign of the apocalypse, Kim Jong Il's nuclear bomb. It was self recognized hyperbole for sure, but he does believe it's going to mean at least war. I was skeptical. I provoked more thoughts with a "you think so?" After hearing his say he believes something big is going to happen in the next 3 months, I decided to throw something out there to test his decision, a "you want to bet on it?" Thus our terms were settled: anything from a major war to the apocalypse, Tony gets $10, anything else I get $10. You can't lose when you bet against the apocalypse; If you lose, money will be the least of your worries; If you win, hey $10.

-Shawn "If the Name Don't Rhyme It Ain't Mine" Conn

Abounding Stupidity

I was over at the Gohmann compound last weekend. Ted was showing off his preliminary work on Rollin' 911. As Steve and I played pool, Ted and I talked about Loose Change. For the uninitiated, Loose Change is the 911 conspiracy theory video; a look at the number of plays on Google shows that. Upon talking details about some of its more shakier arguments (e.g. the claim, based on choice media quotes, that some of 911 hijackers are still alive but not doing any real investigation to find out truth), Ted decided to punch up the video, the 2nd edition no less (now featuring Google Earth animations!).

The movie plugs their website which we also checked out. As it turns out, the righteous defenders of truth have an online store. You can own the Loose Change DVD for $17.95. Wow, $17.95, the Good Cop, Bad Cop, and a Rogue DVD I made cost $12 and that's for a 3 disc set loaded with extras. I sure hope all money made goes to the 911 victims or some memorial fund. Call me cynical, but offering 911 families a free DVD doesn't cut it in my book. If you're going to be making money from a tragic event while positioning yourself as righteous truth and freedom defender, you better do some very important with that money.

Just the other day I read a rather brilliant response about this 911 movement. To keep it succinct, this is just another conspiracy theory. It fails for the same reason all other conspiracy theories fail:

Three may keep a secret, if two of them are dead. -Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard's Almanac

Let's start by saying this, there are, using the word conspire to mean to act together, conspiracies out there. Some have varying degrees of notoriety. Now are the linked examples representative of conspiracy when it means to act in secret to perpetrate crimes? Some might argue that but I would say no. If an organization has it own website it sure as hell isn't secret, and I would argue that if an organization has stated legal goals it isn't trying to perpetrate crimes. Individuals within that group might break laws in attempt to achieve a goal but, unless the group itself has stated otherwise it supports this and like acts, it is not an example of a conspiracy.

True conspiracies do exist out there. Watergate was one huge one, those army men that raped and killed a young Iraqi girl and family was another one. The problem with a conspiracy is in the maxim I stated upon; it is nigh impossible to shut up a lot of people about a secret. Information wants to be free. The more people you have know about a secret, the more likely it is for it to propagate. At which point the word 'secret' has become a misnomer. It's like saying the fact that the human genome has 3.1647×10^9 base pairs is a secret; just because the majority isn't aware of something doesn't make it a secret.

In the end, it is kind of sad, the spirit of 911 conspiracy theorists is right--we should be skeptical of government--but the logic is complete wrong. The claims just don't make sense. Putting aside the red herring of doubt about other skyscrapers burning for hours and not collapsing, evidence of noise from secondary explosions in the WTC, and other details, let's look at the human factor. Where is the motivation for conjuring such an elaborate series of events? How could the world's largest bureaucracy, the same that dropped the ball during Katrina, pull off a plan with such flawless precision that no one is the wiser?

I'll admit, conspiracy theories like these are fun. I love the X-Files. I love reading about UFO cover ups and such. But whether its 911 attacks, faked moon landings, hidden extraterrestrial craft, or hidden government cures for AIDS, it's all bullshit. They are a product of creative minds with nothing better do. They gather so much attention because the majority of people, lacking access to primary sources, have only secondary sources to rely on for evidence of events. This separation between actual tangible evidence of events, a culture that has grown deeply cynical of its institutions, and those who just want to believe, has turned into a huge amount of bullshit that passes for truth. It is very sad.

Xbox Media Center 2.0

It's out and it kicks ass!

Crunch Time

I was, surprise, in Sportstime a couple of week ago. I was talking to one of the Richo's regulars, Ros, a pretty smart and funny guy. He's a history graduate student working over at IUS. Some how, some way, we were on the subject of how it be interesting to visit historical periods. After discussing how, as much as someone would say they would like to live back in a certain time period, no one would actually want to live back then given the amenities they would have to give up.

This brought to my mind the fact that medieval England, despite the fact the Roman developed the aqueducts many centuries ago, didn't have any sort of system of running water. Surprised by this, I brought this up and Ros expanded on the topic. He talked about how, after the decline of the Roman empire, Europe was open to a number of uncivilized invaders, specifically the Goths.

I thought this funny as I wasn't even thinking of a historical group of Barbarians, but rather the current modern day subculture. Even more funny was that Ros brought up that group. He on a historical revisionism rant about the term "Goth":

"These people that say their a Goth today don't even know what a fucking Goth is. If you gave a real Goth black fingernail paint, he'd probably try to eat it. If a so-called Goth try to walk up to a real Goth, he'd probably end up being cut into pieces by an axe."

Imaging a lanky pale white kid being split in two by a barbarian with an axe, put me into a fit of laughter. We then talked about pop culture romanticizing history. I brought up The Last Samurai as an example. More specifically, the Tom Cruise's character in the movie is based actually on a Frenchman, not an American. Not there is anything wrong with this per se. But, in the absence of looking at real history, in most people's minds this fictional history will become real history.

I've experienced a lot of this on Wikipedia a lot recently. Looking over the balance of articles, obviously there's a bias of writing about topics in popular culture( U.S. movies, TV, video games, comics, and so on). What's even more disconcerting is how a lot of these articles talk about things as if they are facts. There is just something weird about that, a Slashdot member's comment comes to mind about pop culture imploding upon itself (e.g. meta pop culture). It's almost as if people have to make up a fake reality in absence of engaging, pardon the redundancy, real reality.

I've ranted on previous posts about how many people on this planet don't have to worry about survival. Just by living in a 1st world country and being relatively health survival is guaranteed for you. I'm not saying this pejoratively; this is a great thing. I say this because as a side effect, it has left a lot of humanity in some existential problem. Luckily a lot of us find other nets to catch our justification for existence: religion, family, careers, hobbies, and so forth. But still, I imagine there are still a lot of lost (spiritually) people.

I'll save the philosophy and spirituality for later though...


Fall for Earth.png

2006 is heading into the dusk. I can see it from my desktop. The sun it's about at the point(if not there) where daylight is the same amount of time on both hemispheres. As 2006's days are number, I'm thinking about what to accomplish for 2007. 2006 was a time of relative rest, but I've got much ahead of me. It's almost time to get to work.

First off, my time is limited on Camel Cash. I got a call from Camel yesterday saying that March 31st, 2007 is the cutoff date for Camel Cash redemption. Getting cigarettes through them is sluggish at best thanks to their restrictions. I'm going to try to contact them about this, but if that fails I'm going to try other measures. Selling the cash on EBay is one idea, but if I'm to do that it's going to have to be pretty soon.

If not evident through my writings, I've been spending an inordinate amount of time on the 'pedia lately. I've about hit the burn out point with articles on fiction. Finishing what I'm looking to accomplish, I'll probably stop writing about in lieu of, in my mind, more relevant real world topics in 2007. As much as I enjoy some of the topics I write about, I think it would help to expand my perspective if I write about different topics. I also, for those tired of hearing about the Wikipedia, plan to stop writing so much about the Wikipedia on here after I finish up my next big post.

Finding a change of jobs is another big priority for the next year. I love my current job but it's not something that will help me for other goals. I've been trying to work there less so I could focus more on find a job, but prospects haven't been as great as I've thought. Adjacent to that is getting a new place to live. This will be tough because it will have to be something I can have some ownership in; I don't want to feel like I'm wasting my money.

Lastly, there's the Raven/Strange Case DVD that has been in limbo forever. Most of this has been my fault. But granted this is pretty much a solo effort, I think some sympathy can be put on me. I've never made any promises to anybody. Hopefully, we can get it done by 2007. Now I just need to come with a theme for 2007.

Irrational Rambling

It was at that moment that I saw through everything. All senses cast aside, I saw the world as it was through the rational mind. Or irrational. The inflexible mind as I thought of it. It has will of it own, some where deep and dark. It had it's own innate determination. It was, at our basic elements, the truth how we would ever know it to be. The mind and its mental abstractions- personality, thoughts, and character- were attached to it's physical manifestations. That fact, at its core, determined what we what we were and what were not. It occurred to my mind as some revelation. At that instant I could picture the basic elements, neurons and complete chemical makeup, of my brain altering physically- and then mentally. And as they resulted in the aforementioned thoughts. It suddenly collapse it upon itself. I saw the world how it is, and how powerless I was to stop it. Quick my power faded away. The baton was being passed. The world of possibilities, the world of change and hopes collapsed in on itself. It was almost if the gravity of the thoughts, the revelation collapsed in on itself like a black hole, like it was a thought too powerful to exist in space. The result, the black hole, forced me down the channel of fate and self-determination. The possibility of change was washed away. What was that thought?

Evolution of Ideas

This is something I wrote on a feeling of euphoric epiphany.

If we look at our physical manifestation as the result of the forces of natural selection, then perhaps we can look at our mental metaphysical manifestation as the result of similar types of forces . That is to say, that just like in the world of biology where living creatures struggle to survive, our thoughts, ideas, philosophies struggle in the same way. When we are born, the human mind is a near blank sheet. As we grow up, in whatever that environment might be, our mind develops just as our bodies. Based on our experiences, we acquire knowledge(e.g. what the concept of addition is), we acquire wisdom(e.g. the effects of cheating on a lover), and attitudes about the world(e.g. political philosophy). Many forces figure into the result of what the mind knows and believes, or what it becomes. Whether you take that physically or metaphysically doesn't matter. The mind is both a process and a thing, like wave-particle duality.

At some point, if one is philosophical inclined, the ideas of thought, self, metaphysics, religion, god (i.e. the big questions in life) come as a quandary to a person. These are profound thoughts. Perhaps it could be said that these thoughts and ideas are the pinnacle of the human mind. In a metaphysical sense, this is the point at which it seems we can become larger than scope of humanity, our planet, or even the existence of the universe. These thoughts, as they attempt to wrap around all existence, knowledge, and wisdom, epitomize the mind itself; it is as if the physical mind, aware of it's own existence through thought, ties itself to its beliefs, beliefs that have become critical for the mind's own survival.

Metaphysics aside, the point I'm stressing is a person's beliefs are needed not only by their mind but by their body. This, of course, evidenced by the fact that our mind can cause stress that will manifest itself in our physical bodies. I've heard of the term for a while, but it wasn't understood by me until recent. That is the concept of cognitive dissonance, that it's painful for the mind to hold contradictory information. As we see the world around us, our short term memory acquires important information and processes it. Our long term memory, the result of wisdom and experience, helps explain what the short term memory experiences. Many times we acquire pieces of short term memory that conflicts with what we have learned with from our long term memory(e.g. our car doesn't drive like it's suppose to, a person acts differently from their usual demeanor, we hear negative information about a political candidate that we approve of, we read a book about a religion we don't believe in). These are our beliefs, held inside our long term memory, structures of our brain, and inevitable who we are, being challenged.

Beliefs, like organisms in nature, struggle to survive. At this point I'm making a explicit note about the metaphysics I'm using here. While I say beliefs are organisms, the reality, in the physical world, is the mind develops as some neural configuration, or a model you could say, as beliefs that constantly fight to stay in existence. Like organisms of like species, they tend to develop in packs for necessity of survival. In reality, people of like minds (whether that be personality traits, religious beliefs, political beliefs) tend to come together to help for survival. In other words, our social network develops based on knowledge of similar topics, political/religious beliefs, and other like thoughts. Some minds our stronger than others. Some stay sheltered in its community, afraid of challenges. Others look for challenges. Some minds are indifferent to opposing viewpoints.

I see a world today full of this struggle. The minds of humanity, pushed to limits of our ecosystem thanks to technology, is facing a world of uncertainty. With a huge network of communications, radically opposing views clash more frequently. Capitalists collides with socialists, pro-life collides with pro-choice, and fundamentalists collide with scientists (or better said brights collide with supers). There is much doom and gloom predictions(ranging from recessions to apocalypses). The folly of humanity is that many minds think their "equivalent" opposing viewpoint is ultimately aimed at their destruction. It's stupid and irrational, if one only take a moment to look back at the situation. We believe many things as we grow up, some we will disregard, some we will hold until the end of life. That says nothing about whether those beliefs are ultimately more "true" than other ("truth" being a mental concept itself tied to a real world on varying levels).I'd like to think the power of human mind can eventually achieve anything. Seeing the progress humanity has made, makes me believe we can evolve past differences of beliefs and accept that, in some way, we can all understand all of our beliefs can hold a bit "truth" to them. In other words a some sort of belief that can encompass all beliefs, some sort of meta-belief.

-Shawn "If the Name Don't Rhyme It Ain't Mine" Conn

Wednesday: Work

Work was over with, I decided to retire to the office. I popped in my zip drive to check out the Internet with my own web browser. Mostly, it was editing on the 'pedia, something that has consumed much of my time lately. It was then a vibration from my pocket told me I had a call. The number calling was listed as "PRIVATE".

Mildly intrigued, I picked it up.

"Is this Shawn Conn?" A lady asked.
"That's me."
"Please wait for a call."

The phone call was from some lady representing AT&T. She was threatening me with legal action--that is wage garnishment--if I didn't pay by them $182. This $182 was for breaking a contract with them, or rather SBC before it became a part of AT&T. When I had moved out my house, after it was broken into, I call SBC to tell them I wanted to move service. As it turns out, I couldn't get DSL where I was going. I told them to cancel my service, thus breaking the one year contract. It wasn't as if I didn't want their service, they just couldn't provide it to me where I was going.

I might of felt bad about breaking the contract but there was more to than that; I wasn't going to pay for a service I couldn't receive; It took me 2-3 weeks to get the modem so I could use the DSL; I got a phone line because I needed it for DSL, so when I found they were charging me for not one but two long distance services I would never use I was not happy; and, in general, their customer service sucks. I even wrote a letter to them about it, and wanting a refund for long distance I didn't want, only to get some stock reply about "striving for excellent customer service" and "assuming this matter will handled in a couple of weeks."

So now it came down to this. The gauntlet had been thrown down. Or so I thought, to AT&T it was next to play in their rule book: "Send warning of non payment", "Send another warning of collections agency", "Make call about threat against my credit record", "Make one last call to collect before attempt wage garnishment", "Go through wage garnishment process" I told the lady I would not be paying. She told me to expect a letter via priority mail about a court date or something like that. I said bring it.

I'm not threaten by attempts to tarnish my credit history. I'm in good standing with 2 credit card companies, one with a $22K limit. I have no debt. I own everything I have. I have a degree, that if it weren't not for my own personal choices, that could net me a good paying job.

I'm not threatened by wage garnishment. I know the law. They can't collect unless I make over $125/week, which I don't. If I did I could quit my job or just work less hours. They don't know the people I work for. And even when I get a nice paying job, it is their responsibility to find out who I work for. I imagine by the time all this legal crap is over they'll give up on pursuing me. The best part about all this is they'll be trying to garnish me for not only the $182, but their legal fees, legal fees they'll be eating when they find out they can't collect on me.

Friday: More Work

So I was at work Friday. About once a week, many of the important people from Hitachi Cable Inc., one of them being the vice president, come into the restaurant. Hitachi, HCI, is a division of Hitachi that makes all kinds of different cables for cars. Being a subsidiary of a big Japanese company, obviously they have a good number of Japanese people that work for them(As a side note, Indiana is one biggest Midwest states for investment by Japanese corporations). A few of them also visit our restaurant.

So I was wearing my "I ♥ 鉄拳"(Tekken) t-shirt. So a few of the American HCI guys notice my t-shirt. They ask the one Japanese guys what does it say. He takes a look and, in a strong Japanese pronunciation, says "Te-kken!" (double consonants in Japanese are pronounced with a small stop before pronouncing the next syllable) He then clinches his fist and hits it to the table saying, "Iron fist." That made my day.

-Shawn "If the Name Don't Rhyme It Ain't Mine" Conn

News On the Camel Front

News On the Camel Front

I've recently jumped another plateau, 18,000 Camel Cash, well on my way to 20,000. Thanks to TJ for her generous donation of 2000+ Camel Cash. In other news, I've also got a outstanding contingent offer from Jon Chapman. He's currently looking into buying a home; on the condition he doesn't want to take the pool table, I've offered to pay the going rate for it, $400. Not too bad I'd say. Of course, all of this is all speculation at this point but at least some concrete plans are forming. I should be making another order for cigarettes pretty soon to increasing my savings.

-Shawn "If the Name Don't Rhyme It Ain't Mine" Conn

Somewhere Between Deism and Nihilism

This whole summer has been lost to me. Between pet projects, chores, and work I haven't had much perspective on things going outside my world. I take that back. I do know what's going on outside my world; I'm just not really engaged with it right now. A large mono color sphere surrounds my life, all the little colorful details are found inside with my own thoughts, motivations, and activities. Once I get started doing something I get engulfed by it. Like a huge blood rush to the head, I can think about anything else outside that immediate moment.

I was at work Monday, Leila was proposing that we get a bunch of people together to talk about politics. She was wanting to motivate people to do something. She was enthused at the idea. Outside of my rushing to fill drinks while this was going on, I was unmoved.

I told her, "I like the idea, but it won't get anything accomplished."

She kept brimming with optimism. I forgot her reply. It probably was something about being optimistic.

I said, "Set a time and place, I'll be there."

I think she wanted me to be a little more proactive but I couldn't muster it. It might just be that I've kind of been isolated myself lately, but I've been cynical of people lately. I'm of the thinking lately that many, too many, people in this country live sheltered world view lives. Prompted by the headline I saw Monday, 50% of Americans still believe that Saddam had WMDs, I've been thinking how can people not think critically about these things. My only concluded answer is that they don't want to believe it (see cognitive dissonance). It's not just international politics I'm talking about either. In this country, whether it be politics or religion, it seems there's many people in this country who are in stuck in their isolated groups and refuse acknowledge any valid logical point an opposing group might have.

Modern American media is so vast and diverse it's become a commodity. People pick and choose the voices they hear, images they see, words they read, thoughts they believe. Critical thinking? Who needs it? We construct our own reality nowadays. Survival isn't something forced upon us, it's given to us for free. All the rest of the details, our world perspectives, are left to us, to decorate how we see fit, based on whatever we stubbornly believe, for whatever irrational reason we choose. Whether there is a question if what we really believe is actually true, is just a blurb, marked as a little footnote called epistemology, that most of us would believe is philosophical mumbo jumbo that has no relevance on our lives. The only philosophy we like comes in nice little bullet points packaged along with our bullet time.

I'm not going to bash something as vague as "American media" however. This argument isn't against television, radio, internet, reporters, writers, or anything of the like. Besides, it's too easy and has been done a million times over. Perhaps the most sinister, diabolical problem with all of this isn't "What is causing this problem?" but rather "Why is it human nature that we abhor things that conflict with what we believe?" I'm not going to dig into pop psychology. I'll just say it probably has something to do with our inherit laziness to change long standing beliefs, confirmation bias, and something about us being creatures that like to match patterns. Sometimes I believe its impossible to escape this; we are hopelessly trapped to stupidity. I'd like to think someone will prove me wrong however.

Upon thinking about this, I added to my Wikipedia user page that I'm some where between Deism & Nihilism.

See Also

So, obviously based on my recent posts, I've been on the Wikipedia a lot recently.

By the way, did you know a hypnagogic jerk is that little twitch that people sometimes they do when they fall into sleep? (It's my pet theory this is some sort evolutionary created device to keep us awake when we might not be in situations where it's safe to sleep).

On that note as well, I recently stumbled across the first good article I've read regarding the Wikipedia. The guy who wrote it also a novel and interesting wiki, The Memory Archive. It's a collection of various memoirs sorted by topic, place, time, and people.

Frivolous Thoughts

I was sitting at the table eating lunch while reading the paper. I could hear my parents and Shannon listen to the pompous "Doctor" Phil (having acquired a doctorate in clinical psychology does not make you a medical doctor) in the background. My eyes glazed over topics: gas, hot weather, Iraq. Looking at the various bad news that has hit the past year--conflicts in the middle east, terrorism, global warming, stupid politicans--it's easy to think these are the end times. I'm reminded of an small opinion piece that Mr. Crawford wrote a while back, even some of my own writings in Who is... v 2.0 were doom and gloom.

It's times like these when it's comforting to think, it is all complete bull shit. The uncertainty of the future is scary, but compared to what our grandparents and parents( or any previous generation) had to see, this isn't really that much. They had the whole world at war, atomic bombs unleashed, two giant superpowers with 1000 of atomic weapons aimed at each other, the draft into a huge bloody conflict. What do we have? Dumbass religious zealots trying to blowing things up because of their desperation, the expected global climate rise by a couple of degrees in the next decades, $3/gallon gas, assorted natural disasters. By comparison, it isn't that scary. Sure we do face a lot dangers in the future--energy production, humanity depleting the resources of the planet, and so forth--but look it at this way; we have more smart people, engineers, scientists, general laborers than any time before. Life thrives on challenges. One way or another, we will figure it out.

I continue on to the other sections of the paper, Sports, Features(or rather pop culture filler), Business. I check over at the NTDOY listing. I recently found out that Nintendo is listed on the NASDAQ. Being a Japanese company, I didn't think it would be listed on an american stock market. With the upcoming Wii, my bet on who's going to be on top in the next gen console war, I was thinking it would be a good idea to invest in Nintendo. Before the arrival of the Wii, I'm going to drop some money in Nintendo stock. Perhaps, I'll do it next week or so depending how I can pay for it.

I'm about finished with the paper when I hear my sister lament about how Wes, her long time boyfriend, never want to do anything. Anything is, of course, activities outside of their house or their routine because anything that happens inside their house or is routine is apparently nothing. Noting how my dad is the same way, she mentions a book she has read from some Psychologist, or someone with credentials, that has said people are attracted to people who are like their parents.

I interjected, "That's pretty obvious; we share a lot features with our parents, what we find inheritably attractive would likely be one of those things. I've noticed that before with me and my friends."

The Return of the PS2

After about 5 something months since my old PS2 and my 6 year old game collection was stolen, I've got a new one up and running. Costs were pretty high, $40 in memory cards, $100 for a 320GB hard drive, $90 for a used (pre slim line) PS2 with controllers, $30 for network adapter, and $50 for a hard drive enclosure to speed up the transfer of games to the hard drive. So $310 + $40 for some games purchased under the guilt that most the other games will be copies(Not that I feel that bad since many of them will games I owned before they were stolen.) So was it worth around $350 and the time spent to get all this? Well, the alternative, a new PS2 and buying each physical copy of the game, would have cost me $130 + $40-$50(controllers) + $40(memory cards) + $600(30 x $20 = $600 with a presumed average game costing $20) = $820. I'd say yes.

-Shawn "If the Name Don't Rhyme It Ain't Mine" Conn

Characterizing Groups

It's rather funny to see people mischaracterized groups of people, or social institutions, they don't fully understand. Science, or more accurately the scientific community, which itself is still a little vague, gets this treatment all the time, thanks mostly to people like fundies, I.D. proponents, and general pop culture media. Fundies would have you believe the half-truth that science is a group of god-hating atheists; a good proportion of scientific community are atheists but atheism does not imply that one hates the concept--most people would say it's absurd to hate something you don't believe in--of God. ID proponents would have you believe that scientific theories are synonymous with conjecture rather than models that are based upon a logical set of rules. Finally, pop culture portrayal would have you believe that science is 100% accurate and can explain every phenomena in the universe; this might be the goal of many scientists, but scientists are people and thus prone to mistakes.

Science is a process of research into a specific phenomena(how objects move, how animals live, etc.). These processes are rooted from a series of methods, which all have their basis in logic. From these processes, mental models are built to explain how certain phenomena work; they are called theories. These theories, or models, are tested and tested and tested over again based on what we observe in the world. Over time the longer a theory accurately predicts results the more credibility it holds. This does not make it completely true as science(or more accurately people) can not achieve omniscience; we might later discover something that doesn't work with the current theory. For example, until the 1900's physics was explained using a model that is now called Newtonian Physics. Around the 1900's discoveries in physics were made that dealt with real large objects(stars) and real small objects(small sub particles of atoms) that didn't work with the old model of Newtonian Physics.

The scientific community is a large bunch groups, subgroups, and subgroups made of individuals who use the aforementioned method. It is a huge group of people using these methods to solve a huge variety goals(how can we grow more crops, discovering why some people go insane, etc.). It is a community of people like any other community. There are general agreed upon ideas among these groups; there are groups that reach the same conclusions after doing different tests on the same phenomena; but it is not a complete homogenous group that thinks the exact same thing.

That is a little summary that I can do to the best of my knowledge. It is far from complete. There could be pages upon pages written about science, the scientific community, and such. I do not have the effort or the knowledge to completely describe something as large as the scientific community. I wrote the above two paragraph summary to make a point; I can summarize how a community operates, but I cannot fully explain every action it does and motivation it has. A community is made out of a large group of people, a complex social network. Social communities, like a microcosm of society, do come up rules, regulations, and guidelines of how they should act, but it does not mean the entire group will act or think alike.

Defending the Wikipedia

Thus, I go onto my latest example of mischaracterization of a group. Jaron Lanier about a month ago wrote this article called Digital Maoism. For those too lazy to read it, the summary is:

The hive mind is for the most part stupid and boring. Why pay attention to it?

The problem is in the way the Wikipedia has come to be regarded and used; how it's been elevated to such importance so quickly. And that is part of the larger pattern of the appeal of a new online collectivism that is nothing less than a resurgence of the idea that the collective is all-wise, that it is desirable to have influence concentrated in a bottleneck that can channel the collective with the most verity and force. This is different from representative democracy, or meritocracy. This idea has had dreadful consequences when thrust upon us from the extreme Right or the extreme Left in various historical periods. The fact that it's now being re-introduced today by prominent technologists and futurists, people who in many cases I know and like, doesn't make it any less dangerous.

How does his mischaracterize it. Well, let me get to work...

My Wikipedia entry identifies me (at least this week) as a film director. It is true I made one experimental short film about a decade and a half ago. The concept was awful: I tried to imagine what Maya Deren would have done with morphing. It was shown once at a film festival and was never distributed and I would be most comfortable if no one ever sees it again.

In the real world it is easy to not direct films. I have attempted to retire from directing films in the alternative universe that is the Wikipedia a number of times, but somebody always overrules me. Every time my Wikipedia entry is corrected, within a day I'm turned into a film director again. I can think of no more suitable punishment than making these determined Wikipedia goblins actually watch my one small old movie.

By the time I looked up his article(in attempt to fix what he just said was wrong with it) it was already fixed. Since early June the reference to him being a "film director" has been gone. What I find rather funny is every time I read a piece of online criticism referencing the wikipedia's inaccurate information, a quick lookup finds that it has already been corrected(and critic's argument defeated).

Reading a Wikipedia entry is like reading the bible closely. There are faint traces of the voices of various anonymous authors and editors, though it is impossible to be sure.

The style of writing he's describing is a result of Wikipedia's Neutral Point of View. It is done for the sake of having a bias free article. Thus, controversial topics like George W. Bush have inflammatory language neutered which helps promote facts, not flames. And while wikipedia's editing, like the Bible, is the result of editorial by committee, it is not completely anonymous. Wikipedia is based around a community. For example, wiki user Alan Pascoe has done a lot of edits on Mr. Lanier's article. While we may not know who he really is(his user page says he's a analytic chemist in England), we can see what kind of edits he's made. Checking a user edit history is a good way to see what kind of edits he usually makes.

Myspace is another recent experiment that has become even more influential than the Wikipedia. Like the Wikipedia, it adds just a little to the powers already present on the Web in order to inspire a dramatic shift in use. Myspace is all about authorship, but it doesn't pretend to be all-wise. You can always tell at least a little about the character of the person who made a Myspace page. But it is very rare indeed that a Myspace page inspires even the slightest confidence that the author is a trustworthy authority. Hurray for Myspace on that count!

Myspace is a richer, multi-layered, source of information than the Wikipedia, although the topics the two services cover barely overlap. If you want to research a TV show in terms of what people think of it, Myspace will reveal more to you than the analogous and enormous entries in the Wikipedia.

Yes, you certain can tell something about it's user.

The Wikipedia's goal is an online Encyclopedia built by a community of users. No where did I find a claim that wikipedia's goal was to be "all-wise". Also you did you know that an Encyclopedia is a collection of knowledge, not wisdom? Pretty interesting huh?

Here I must take a moment to comment on Linux and similar efforts. The various formulations of "open" or "free" software are different from the Wikipedia and the race to be most Meta in important ways. Linux programmers are not anonymous and in fact personal glory is part of the motivational engine that keeps such enterprises in motion. But there are similarities, and the lack of a coherent voice or design sensibility in an esthetic sense is one negative quality of both open source software and the Wikipedia.

Once again, I reiterate that Wikipedia's community aspect done through various talk pages and user pages.

The Wikipedia has recently slapped a crude low pass filter on the jitteriest entries, such as "President George W. Bush." There's now a limit to how often a particular person can remove someone else's text fragments. I suspect that this will eventually have to evolve into an approximate mirror of democracy as it was before the Internet arrived.

What he's describing is Wikipedia's Semi-protection policy while getting confused with the 3 revert rule. Mr. Lanier, like many other journalists uninformed about Wikipedia's policies, has inaccurately described this policy. The three revert rule is one of wikipedia's older policies that states "an editor must not perform more than three reversions, in whole or in part, on a single Wikipedia article within a 24 hour period." And the recent rule he's talking about is semi-protection. This policy allows moderators to allow only registered,'''at least 4 day old''', users to edit pages that are targets of frequent vandalism. This is to prevent current and controversial articles, like George W. Bush, from being bombarded with vandalism. Once the article stops being current and controversial, editing(and thus vandalism) frequently drops off and protection is no longer needed.

Let's suppose that the Wikipedia will indeed become better in some ways, as is claimed by the faithful, over a period of time. We might still need something better sooner.

If you have a better online Encyclopedia with over 1,000,000 articles that can update itself sooner I would sure like to hear it.

Some wikitopians explicitly hope to see education subsumed by wikis.

I assume by wikitopians, he means people that think Wikipedia is a perfect utopia. I would like him to find such a person. Most wikipedians should know all too well that wikipedia has its faults.

An interesting note, one of wikipedia's style guidelines is the avoidance of weasel words, wording stated as fact designed to hide bias(e.g. "Some critics say...","It has been said...","Many people think..."). Which is exactly what this sentence is. If I was a good wikipedian, I would remove this sentence and replace it with:

Wikipedia founder Jimbo Wales has said:

something that we really encourage and we really actually are very eager to see that sort of thing happening with educational materials in the developing world. So the idea that some entrepreneurial publisher in India will realize they can publish a full encyclopedia for a fraction of the cost of Britannica and have the market for it of people who they can't afford Britannica or traditional resource but they can afford the price of printing. That's something I would be very excited to see.1

Not only does that edit leave out the ambiguous "Some wikitopians" that tells you nothing, it also tells you what one wikipedia advocate is hoping to achieve in his own words.

If wikis are to gain any more influence they ought to be improved by mechanisms like the ones that have worked tolerably well in the pre-Internet world.

Oh, you mean like these?


Mr. Lanier, bold claims about things require bold evidence and knowledge to back it up. Do some research about a website, and its community, before grouping it together with some sort of online neo-maoist philosophy you made up for the purpose of describing websites that are built by its users.

BW Movie Night

So we were sitting down watching VH1, or rather I say the pop culture junkie channel, during BWM biding our time until the enviable playing of the shitty movie of the night; it so happened that it was going to be Super Mario Brothers but more about that later. Like much of VH1 shows, they would play some clips of something from pop culture with interspersed witty banter from comedians. Sometimes it's funny, a lot times it isn't. This show happened to be about internet movie clips(viral videos, etc.). It also happened that only one person doing commentary and it wasn't funny. I'm guessing that's the reasoning for all the zany editing they have on the show; they figure if the host's words can't keep those eyeballs watching then some dynamic editing will. Look how time(and funny!) the host looks when we have him superimposed over some random internet clip! FUNNY.

I made the joke that what would be funny if they kept running this segment and then have the same guy superimposed over himself talking about how he's not funny then just repeat the whole thing over and over ad infinitum( check out the Wikipedia article on Latin phrases). It's the kind of joke that Wonder Showzen does a lot. I dubbed it a "recursive joke," jokes that make fun of a joke that make fun of a joke. Turns out a term already exists for it, meta-joke.

Back to the BWMovie of the night, Super Mario Brothers. Keeping true to the BW tradition, the movie is awful. It's also a horrible adaptation of video game, a precursor of things to come as it would seem. Outside of the names, Mario, Luigi, Koopa, etc, the movie has nothing to do with the game. I imagine the following scenario took place:

Guy 1: Hey guy, did you finish the screenplay for the Mario movie? Megabucks McDumbproducer wanted it done by 8, he's got everything worked out with Nintendo and he wants to get started on it pronto. He's already got the dude from Roger Rabbit for Mario and some guy named John Linguini to be Luigi.
Guy B: What?! Oh shit, I was doing too much blow the night before. I forgot all about it!
Guy 1: Well what the hell we going to do? We already used the money on the electric fish tank for your grandma and strippers.
Guy B: a....wait! Do you have the old scifi script you pitched to Orion awhile back?
Guy 1: Uh The Dino Dimension? Yeah, they didn't want any part of it, said they were too busy with some art house film RoboCop. They said something about how it was more avant-garde than Dino Dimension. I think that was fag speak for they like robots over dinosaurs. Here it is...
Guy B: Whatever, check this shit.
Guy 1: Ok...
Guy B: The Jersey construction workers ...We'll make them Brooklyn plumbers, call them Mario and Luigi...The Tyrano, we'll call him King Koopa...see where I'm going...
Guy 1: Quadruple stuffed oreoes?!
Guy B: What?! No! The hippie protester...we name him Toad.
Guy 1: Wait, you mean just rename all the characters to names from the video game?
Guy B: Exactly, you see that awful shit ball The Wizard? Those dumb shit kids are so zoned out on games they'll sit in front of anything that just mention names and things from games.
Guy 1: Brilliant!

Then the high 5's ensued...

Your Mileage May Vary

The theme for today is worn out. Last night was pretty tiresome. I was at New Albanian last night working until close. Unlike recent nights that I've worked there, I actually made a good amount that night, $90. There was talk of a party later, I opted out though, I was too tired. I ended up chillin' with Nate who just happened to be around. We went to Jack's(the bar right next to New Albanian), played a little pool, chatted, and such. It was probably like 4 or 5 by the time I got home.

I didn't feel like I had a lot to drink, 1 pint of our beer and 3 Jack & Cokes, but it sure wore me out today. The worse part is I didn't even feel kind of drunk the whole night. Perhaps I should take a break from drinking and smoking. I just now started up my exercise routine again. Working on this new website full time destroyed my sleep/exercise routine. I think it also did a lot to my mood as well. I just haven't been that energetic lately. Plus, if drinking doesn't make feel good there's not really a point to it.

Latest updates to the websites

First I've added automated email replies to comments. Your mileage may vary however. Thanks to spam and other garbage emails, there's a good chance the email might be shot down by filters. For example, there are a number of occasions that I've tested it out only for it to work some of the time with altering the code. With the code not being the factor, the only think I can thing of spam filters. I would spent more time on it if I thought it that an important feature, but it's just not worth the time and effort.

Also, long time viewers of "Who Is..." might notice there seems to be some content missing on some pages. This is another feature I implemented. Some content will only show up after a user has visited the site a few times. I did this for a number reasons, privacy, bandwidth, etc. The easy work around to this is to click the "." in the "?" on the banner above. It sets the cookie visit counter to threshold to where all content is viewable.

The Premiere of the New

Well here it is. The new Who is the Man with the Name that Rhymes? version 3.0 is finally complete. Considering what I've accomplished in a month, I'm pretty proud right now. Just about a hour ago, I finished up the commenting code. After a little testing, I decided it's ready to go for stress testing now. I guess I'll see in the next few months how well the site will stand up. I predict more bugs in the next few weeks.

On top of that there are still a number of issues I know about that I will fix later. If you're saying, "Well Shawn Conn, if you knew about these things why didn't you fix them before the premiere?" The answer to that is every time I would knock off items on my list they brought other issues to my attention. The more I worked on the site, the more I thought of things to fix. With that in mind, I decided on things I absolutely needed completed for the site to run smoothly. Other, less important, issues were put on my list but I put them on there knowing that I wouldn't complete them until later. And that's how it went. With the large obstacles out of the way, I now have a smaller, less important list that I will complete at my leisure. They are things like:

  • Blackhole some content
  • Streamline code (Some of it is pretty messy)
  • Clean up the CSS
  • Comb over the code to make it W3C compliant
  • Fix the Media & Server pages for IE users(it's not too pleasant right now).
  • Add an image tag for SCML
  • Add a message to IE users on the site informing them why the site looks funny with their browser
  • The comment page right now accepts email addresses but it doesn't display them on site; this is purposely done. The reason I added it was so that the server could email someone if their comment was replied to. I have yet to add that functionality.
  • Search Engine Submit

Other than being a recluse for that past month, everything has gone pretty well. Here's to the new years ahead of Who is the Man with the Name that Rhymes?

"God is Dead"

With the passage of the old site into history. I thought it was time I send off some other final farewells. First up is...

Steve's Backyard Boxing

SBB has been dead for a while now, I'd say Thunder '05 was probably the closest thing to SBB's funeral. Shannon was talking about doing boxing earlier that year. I told him if he talked to Steve, got him to say it's on, it would be on. Well he did and it was on. The venue was the Riverhouse during Thunder '05. Then it came; SBB was off. It couldn't be more off. The weather was pretty damn cold, especially for late April. Unsurprisingly, no one wanted to box. Even worse, some guy who happened to be in town for some business trip happened to stop by because he wanted to see backyard boxing. I almost felt bad for the guy if it weren't for the fact he had to be in town anyway. After that day, which sucked for a number of reasons, the spirit of SBB died in my heart. It's only until now that I announce that to the world and send it on it's way into history. If there were some way to give a website a virtual viking funeral, I'd do it for SBB. I think it would have like it that way.

Gohmann Studios

With the failure of Stop Motion Man for various reasons, I think it's pretty safe to say Gohmann Studios is dead and gone. Most of the Gohmann brothers have since stopped caring about doing films. I chalk it up to vagina and professionalism to keep it little blunt, the former because the brothers seem more concerned about their significant others than creating films, the later because all the brothers carry a sort of attitude that if their next movie couldn't look more professional than the last(which won't happen without serious monetary investment) it isn't worth creating. To top that off, star actor Benny Paine has been Grump Paine lately; he hasn't been positive toward any future prospective Gohmann Film project for a while. Lastly, while he has the heart, Ted doesn't have the drive without the rest of the crew.

The only creative thing I can see on the Gohmann horizon is Beer Box volume I and Double Creature Feature: The Raven & The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. I'm pumped about Beer Box. Though I have to say Graham is dragging his ass on it. Not that I can fairly criticize him; I have been dragging my ass on Double Creature... for a while. But to my credit, I have created a complete new website with CSS and PHP, went through a computer crash that lost most of the work on the project, and I've tried to motivate Ted on pulling his own weight. What has Graham been up to in the time? I really can't tell since Maximus Destructus has been down for a while but I imagine it has a lot to do with him boinking his girlfriend.

You provided many great memories Gohmann Studios, it's sad to see you go...

Well that's all I've got for now. Here's to the future...

-Shawn "If the Name Don't Rhyme It Ain't Mine" Conn

Fixes Before the Big One

There has been a number of bug squashes: the text no longer "collapses", images are centered up when they need to be, I figured how to get PHP to update the media playlists, and broken links have been fixed. Overall, I'd have to say it was a pretty good bug hunt. There are still a few issues to resolve with IE but overall things are going really well. Right now I'm getting to the thick of comment support. I hope to complete that by sometime tommorow and start the premier of the new Who is the Man with the Name that Rhymes?

One Task Left...

So the media page is completed, almost. I have the thumbnail display I wanted for images. I embedded MS media player into the page for previewing of movies and sounds. That comes at a price since there's no easy way with Javascript to change the source of the embedded media. Instead, I have the media player play a playlist of files. That works but it the list has to bemanually updated by me, not good. It would be easy with PHP to update the file by browsing the directory for new files and appending them to the playlist, but PHP doesn't like opening files for writing. Hopefully, I'll find some work around.

Also, the media page looks like shit in IE. I suspect once again it is how IE handles some CSS properties. Specifically, the div borders I create for the image thumbnails and their captions display inline instead of the captions falling below the image. It should be an easy fix. IE 7, which I presume has more support for CSS2, might already display it correctly. Regardless, it's very frustrating to have to develop a webpage for varying browsers.

Finally, I am left with one last goal; I have to create the ability to comment on posts. The database already has a table setup for storing comments. I just have to:

  • Create a comment form
  • Setup links to reply, display, and collapse comments
  • Create a way to preview comments

With that I will finally be finished with main features of Who is... Hopefully, I will have it done by the end of the week. That will just leave me with minor things to fix:

  • Figure out reason for "collapsing" text (keep highlighting links on the archive page to see an example of this)
  • Fix IE display on Media & Server page
  • Cleanup on CSS pages
  • Add image tag to SCML
  • Check broken hyperlink, misspelling, etc.
  • Check for consistent text size
  • Fix internal link highlighting problem
  • Make page W3C compliant
  • Fix image positioning
  • Move and to this page

One down, two to go

I've just finished the archiving feature of the site. It's not exactly how I originally intended; the plan was to have the update script generate static pages, like the archived text from previous versions of this site, which the archive page would search for when it was accessed. There was some difficulty in getting PHP to open a new file for writing. It kept complaining about access permissions. This meant one of two things: there was something I was missing to do when I made the function call or there's something not configured for PHP to allow me to write files. I was going with later being the culprit as there isn't much to using fopen()

Since I didn't really feel like spending more time on this issue(it would have involved me getting a hold of the hosting provider) I just decided to do it differently. Now, the main page just shows the last 10 posts. The archive page checks what the date is and displays links for previous months' postings. The links go back to main page but it includes an argument which filters the displayed posts based on the date argument.

Well, on to the last 2 milestones...

Tutorial for SCML

I've placed a tutorial on the markup language I created for posts here. So far everything seems to be working out. I know it's far from flawless though; there are many things left to be done. This is what needs to be finished:

  1. Fix up the Media section(it's still just a template)
  2. Add ability to comment on posts
  3. Create an auto archive ability for older posts
  4. Fix various bugs.

The first 3 I consider vital before I consider this site completed. "completed" will I will finally close down for good(it will redirect here) and have redirect here. Bug squashing will almost always remain a work in progress. I know of 2 or 3 bugs right now and I expect more to crop up once the site gets into full swing. And on it goes...

New Test

Here is a new test on the RSS parsing feature. The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.

One down...

Support for varying color schemes font types in place.

The System Is Down...

So I've decided to make this page sorta open to the public now. For the time being it's going to be the website-in-development blog. Just about 30 minutes ago I decided that it was neccessary to slow things down and reflect on all that I've created so far. These last 2 weeks have been hectic; it seems that I have done nothing but work on this website. Within the span of a couple of weeks I've drawn in all this creative energy and focusing it entirely on finishing this site. So much so that my daily life had started to suffer: little socializing, lack of focus at work, passing on social events, and a lack of excersize that has seem to have caught up to me.

Yesterday, work was well, typical, for lack of something sarcastic to say. I was talking to my bubbly boss, Kate. As of late it's rare I see her much since she's so occupied much by taking care of two kids(one of who is a newborn), not to mention handling a 1/3 of NABC's management responsibilities. Upon talking to her, the topic of this website came up, not surprising since it's been the only thing on my mind as of the last few weeks. I was talking her about what I was doing, what I write about, David Hawpe's letter, and of course, the adverse effects on my sleeping. It was in the course of talking to her about when I had last slept that she made me realize it had been 24 hours since I had last slept. I guess that will happen when you deal with coding in bullshit VBScript for a "simple" script that scans for new files on my FTP. Don't ask...better yet I'll tell.

It's fucking confusing scripting language that has a horrible scheme for nesting if,for,and while statements. Furthermore the script interpreter will do confusing, stupid things. For example, all programming languages have something call identifiers(or variables). If you're familiar with algebra, it's like an "x" where the value of "x" can be what you define it as "x=34". In programming languages, you have to declare the variables exist and (sometimes) give it a value before you can use it. If you try to reference something not defined a good language should tell something like "error: undeclared identifier"But VBscript will just assume that it exists and go on about its stupid way until it realizes it can't do anything with this assumed identifier. This will make for confusing errors when you call a function Somename() with variable myvaleu and the functions keeps complaining that the type of data you're sending is incorrect. It's not until you see that "myvaleu" should be "myvalue" that realize you've wasted mounds time looking into why your algorithm might not be correct when it wasn't the problem in the first place. That's just a taste of the bullshit I had to deal with...

Anyway, to get back to the site. I'll leave it to you to poke around and try shit out. There's still a lot to be done, but now that I'm sticking back to my promise of taking-it-easy 2006 I'm not to worried about it now. If you do encounter an issue, let me know. The more I'm told, the better I can make this site.

Features done/to do

So far, I can say that the interface is done. Content for the infoboxes(side) are done and now work with my database, so they're all dynamic. I can even update them(as well as this post) from just browsing this website(no HTML editor needed!). Content for the descriptions are done as well as the Bio, Server, and Archive pages. The white asterisks collapse and expand the boxes. The one below the Day # will close the entire side infoboxes. If you're using a non IE browser, you will be able to fix/unfix the navigation to the page(i.e. it scrolls with or without the page content) with an asterisk next to the archive button. While I'm mentioning it, if you're using IE this page is going to look like shit. IE doesn't support translucent PNG's so I have the code show GIF's, which unlike PNG's are lossy compressed, instead so that the images stay translucent. Furthermore, IE doesn't support the CSS fixed property so you don't have that option of fixing/unfixing the page. Lastly, IE seems to ignore the div tag's "auto" property for width in the content part. Thus, instead of resize with the left end of your browser you're going to have the ugly vertical scroll bar at the bottom. I'll try to work on these issues in the future.

I'm really proud of what I've accomplished so far. PHP and My SQL(Database) are a dream to work with. And CSS makes it so much easier to keep shit organized and uniform. It also is cool that I've coded up this entire website by hand with the exception of Dreamweaver's empty templates and its auto complete feature. Not that it was what I intended; once you start adding PHP script to a page the WYSIWYG part of a HTML editor starts to break down and hardly represents what you'll see in your web browser.

Looking at my little to do note page next to me, here's the list of things I still need to accomplish before "Who is" is complete:

  • Adding "themes" to the site

    If you scroll down to some text below, you'll see what I mean. There's some text down there that has "mouse over" properties. I plan on doing a couple of different themes for the site. Also, since the interface script is complete independent of the content pages I can completely redesign the navigation bar with out having to change the content pages. I guess it's kind of like frames with out the shitty, I'm-not-going-to-refresh-for-you properties that I had to deal with in the former version of "Who is"

  • An auto archiving script

    I'm going to have it where posts after such such days old will archive themselves and save them to HTML that way I won't have worry if anything goes wrong with the database

  • Commenting

    The database is already set up to store comments that are linked to posts. I just have to design this page to handle them, and insert them into the database.

  • Quote uses

    I had this idea a while back but I couldn't make use of it until now. The database already stores choice quotes for me. I'm going to have a script that makes it easy to retrieve and display quotes.

  • Simplified tags

    For posting this entry, I've had to write out the HTML tags manually. Before the comments and posting is done I'm probably have them accept text with a simplified markup, probably something close to what the Wikipedia uses since I'm already familiar with that format.

  • Overhaul the RSS

    Since I have the very useful PHP at my hands, I'm probably going to have a much better looking RSS feed for this site.

  • Media Page

    The current media page is not what I intend to have ultimately. In the future, I'm going to try to have the script create thumbnails for the media images. Also there's still a lot of content I need to add...

That's about it for now. I'll keep in touch and you'll probably see changes in this site in various ways over the course of next weeks.

Getting Close

Hello, you're checking out right now a beta version of the new Who is the Man with the Name that Rhymes, now with CSS and ran on PHP. I still have a lot of work to do but if you see this it means that the posting database is up and running. Hopefully, it won't be too long before the remaining website is finished