I'm 13 again

April 10, 2003

As I mentioned in my previous entry, I just purchased a Gameboy Advanced SP. As I also noted, I knew I wouldn't have much time to play with it until this semester was over. Well, I've found time; whether I'm riding the bus to campus or waiting for something to compile, I'm finding time to play. The device is so unbelievably amazing. Not only is it five ounces and tiny, but the sound and display are brilliant. The battery life is the best I've ever seen in any device. Ever. I'm more than halfway through Yoshi's Island: Super Mario Advance 3 and have also been playing Mario Kart: Super Circuit — I haven't recharged the battery once. Ridiculous. Speaking of Mario Kart, I cannot get over how faithful this revision is to the original N64 title. I haven't been able to play it much because of this damn 8-bit computer I'm designing for Digital Design, but from what I can tell it's going to be one of my all-time favorites, if only because it so closely mirrors its big brother.

I denied myself any type of console system while in college because I knew that my propensity to get wrapped up in competition and/or beating the game would deter me from school. It was a smart move, but one that I regret. Either way, this Gameboy should hold me over for a while as there are 488 titles available for it, not to mention the fact that it can play original Gameboy games. I still have my Tetris — greatest game of all time — cartridge from 1991 when the Gameboy first came out.

Bill Clinton

April 03, 2003

Bill Clinton spoke at UF today. It was so incredible to see him in person. I had goosebumps half the time. He spoke mostly on globalization and why we, as a species, should strive to become what he calls an "integrated community," rather than just interdependent nations, as the latter doesn't put enough emphasis on the fact that we are all equal. I don't know what to say. It was just great. It was Bill-freaking-Clinton!

Unfortunately, I don't have much to show from the appearance. In the Alligator, our school newspaper, it said that "no cameras, video cameras, or bookbags" would be allowed in. So, given this, I didn't bring my digital camera, but as we were standing in line we noticed huge signs that said, "no cameras, video cameras, or bookbags." Needless to say, I was (am) pretty freaking pissed. I did happen to get a couple of pictures with the camera on my phone, but they look like SHIT, as was expected. You can view them here and here; I promise that it really is Bill at the podium.  :)

Quick note about eBay fraud

March 31, 2003

I sometimes notice that as I'm looking through new electronic gadgets on eBay, it says that the seller will not ship to Indonesia. Though I'd seen a couple of news articles in the past regarding the abundance of credit-card fraud coming from Indonesia, I never payed it much mind as I was yet to run across this problem with any of my auctions, until now. In less than 48 hours I got nine e-mails from people wanting me to send the device to Indonesia and accept payment directly through a 'merchant' account. It should be noted that I was quite explicit on the auction page: I would only accept payment through PayPal and would only ship to a PayPal confirmed address within the US. Below is an example of one of the e-mails I received, complete with the powerful disregard for grammar intact and a great Indonesian name to boot.

Hello,Let me introduce to you about my self my name is David from Indonesia and after I've seen your item listed in your auction of course I'll buy it. So if you don't mind I'll pay your item with my card directly so have got credit card machine or merchant account to proccessing my card directly or you can ask to your friends about that who have specilalies on that, So if you can do that as payment i'd love to hear that cause at this time I've already send you my card details trough e-mail. Also please calculate shipping cost to my country use Global Express Mail service and to futher please don't hasitate if you've more questions. And I'll be waiting froward to hearing from you as soon as posibble casue I'm trully want make a deal with you and I hope we can countinue in the future.Best Regards Keep In touch David

That e-mail actually deviated from the norm somewhat as they usually revolve around the buyer wanting to get the item for a friend who lives in Indonesia (or some variation thereof). I'll admit that I rather liked reading the e-mails; the stories they came up with provided me a certain enjoyment that sadly outweighed the pain that always seems to come when I see such an abomination of the English language.

Life goes on. Back to work.

Light at the end of the tunnel?

March 30, 2003

As I roll into my last month of computer engineering I find myself busier than I ever thought possible. Between presentations, reports, labs, and our senior design project, I'm swamped. The point is, posts to this site will probably be sparse in the coming month due to serious lack of time. I know you are all disappointed and are wondering how you can keep going, but I'm sure you'll manage. I'll post when I can. F school.

Dropped the SE P800 and picked up a Nokia 7250

March 28, 2003

As you know, I received the Sony Ericsson P800 last week. I put it up on eBay yesterday. Let me explain. The P800 is, by far, the greatest melding of mobile phone and PDA functionality ever, but there were a few subtle problems with it that I just couldn't stand. The first and most important was the vibrate feature. It just wasn't strong enough (because of the size of the device) and so I often missed calls (I ALWAYS have vibrate on and so should you :P). Speaking of its size, it isn't large by any stretch, especially when you consider all that it has (200MHz processor, Symbian OS, 208x320 12-bit screen, digital camera, Bluetooth, IR, etc.), but the fact is, I've become so used to devices that are three-quarters of an inch thick and weigh less than three ounces that I just can't bring myself to use something much larger, regardless of its features. One other thing that really got on my nerves is that when you used the phone without the flip (you have the option of using the flip-keypad or not), there is no easy way to go into speakerphone mode. You have to pull out the stylus and 'click' to it (with the flip you just flip it open and it turns on the speakerphone). There were a few other things that really got under my skin and I'm assuming they'll fix all of them with the next software update, but that isn't going to help its weight or form-factor.

A couple of days ago I ordered the Nokia 7250 and received it this morning. It's very similar to the Nokia 7210 that I had just before I got the P800 last week. The only real difference is that the 7250 has a built-in camera and much more memory.

I'm waiting on the Sony Ericsson T610 (more info here), which should be available in Europe within the next two months. This is the upgrade to the T68i that I had last year. This is the phone to end all phones.

5245343 down, one to go

March 25, 2003

After four and a half years of brutal, stressful, tiring, and HATE-myself-afterward exams, I have one left: the final for Digital Design. This says nothing of the labs left in that class (95% of the work), or the projects and presentations in my other classes, but...

Speaking of projects, we have made significant advances with our senior design project (voice-controlled IR/RF remote). Well, significant advances is probably too broad a phrase, but we are attempting a completely different way of approaching the problem and I feel fairly confident that we will have everything working by the deadline.

Sony Ericsson P800

March 20, 2003

The P800 arrived yesterday morning. Words cannot begin to describe this thing. I really don't know what to say. You guys know I'm no neophyte when it comes to gadgets, but I honestly haven't picked my jaw up off the floor since yesterday. This device blows everything else out of the water. While I'd like to do a full-blown review, I just don't have the time, and there is no way I could outdo some of the elaborate and extremely detailed reviews I've already seen (a couple of good ones can be found here, here, and here). It would be much simpler to outline what it doesn't do/have: it doesn't provide sex and doesn't have a kitchen sink (but there are rumors of a possible kitchen sink add-on). I think that about sums it up.

Motives for writing

March 18, 2003

I came across this yesterday on Jason Kottke's blog and decided that I would post it here because I found it to be eerily accurate. George Orwell (1984, Animal Farm), in his essay, Why I Write, says that there are four great motives for writing:

Sheer egoism. Desire to seem clever, to be talked about, to be remembered after death, to get your own back on the grown-ups who snubbed you in childhood, etc., etc. It is humbug to pretend this is not a motive, and a strong one. Writers share this characteristic with scientists, artists, politicians, lawyers, soldiers, successful businessmen — in short, with the whole top crust of humanity. The great mass of human beings are not acutely selfish. After the age of about thirty they almost abandon the sense of being individuals at all — and live chiefly for others, or are simply smothered under drudgery. But there is also the minority of gifted, willful people who are determined to live their own lives to the end, and writers belong in this class. Serious writers, I should say, are on the whole more vain and self-centered than journalists, though less interested in money.

Aesthetic enthusiasm. Perception of beauty in the external world, or, on the other hand, in words and their right arrangement. Pleasure in the impact of one sound on another, in the firmness of good prose or the rhythm of a good story. Desire to share an experience which one feels is valuable and ought not to be missed. The aesthetic motive is very feeble in a lot of writers, but even a pamphleteer or writer of textbooks will have pet words and phrases which appeal to him for non-utilitarian reasons; or he may feel strongly about typography, width of margins, etc. Above the level of a railway guide, no book is quite free from aesthetic considerations.

Historical impulse. Desire to see things as they are, to find out true facts and store them up for the use of posterity.

Political purpose. Using the word "political" in the widest possible sense. Desire to push the world in a certain direction, to alter other peoples' idea of the kind of society that they should strive after. Once again, no book is genuinely free from political bias. The opinion that art should have nothing to do with politics is itself a political attitude.

I could not agree more.

Google hack

March 18, 2003

Check out this funny little google hack (Sara, forgive me):  do a search on Google for "french military victories" and choose the "I'm Feeling Lucky" button.

Holy shit!

March 17, 2003

Bill Clinton is speaking at UF on April 3rd. I'm pretty pumped. I saw George Bush Sr. speak here a couple of years ago.

It's on its way

March 16, 2003

The Sony Ericsson P800 has been ordered and should be here sometime on Tuesday Wednesday. I can't wait! This means that I'll be putting the Nokia 7210 up on Ebay within the next few days. If you are local to me and want the phone, let me know before Tuesday Wednesday.

Checks are illegal

March 14, 2003

Well, they aren't yet, but dammit, I'm all for it. It absolutely flips me out when I'm standing in line behind some ass-clown at the grocery store who still insists on writing checks. I just don't get it. There is NO benefit to using a check. NONE. For a long while I tried to convince myself that perhaps these people were simply ignorant of the availability of check cards, but now, after so many years, I'm only convinced that they are either 1.) scared to move to something new or 2.) enjoy the fact that we have to wait behind them in line. Now, at the risk of sounding optimistic, I would think that the former reason would be the best bet. Given this, what is there to be scared of? Nothing. I know you check-weilding paper-lovers out there enjoy having to show your ID, write down your address, and fork over your phone number on top of already having to fill out the check itself, but come on, wouldn't it be easier to simply slide the little plastic card and enter a few numbers? Those without plastic might not see the need to switch to something new, but I dare say these people will finally get the hint when all items are eventually tagged with RFIDs and "buying" amounts to nothing more than walking out of the store with what you want (everything else will be automatic).

Granted, checks HAVE to be used for some things, but that doesn't make them any less annoying or pointless. For example, my apartment complex won't let me pay any other way (yes, they know it's 2003, I asked them). I realize that it's fun to make someone sit around for three days each month waiting for 2000 college kids to bring in their rent checks, but wouldn't it behoove all parties involved to allow for internet payments such that after the three day pay window has passed it alerts the management to those tenants who haven't paid?

The idea that one's quality-of-life isn't necessarily vastly improved by not using checks isn't lost on me, but that doesn't take away from the fact that checks are not needed in today's society and should therefore be made obsolete. We might begin by ostracizing and shunning those who still use checks. The next time you are waiting in line behind someone using a check, make sure they understand how much extra effort they're exerting by filling that thing out. Try something like, "Miss, excuse me.. ya.. Do you have a second?", and then proceed to show and tell her exactly why her way of paying for things is ridiculous. Be sure to make the point that it's only going to get worse and the she is only going to fall further behind the times unless she burns that checkbook and seeks out other payment methods. While this is obviously somewhat satirical, I genuinely hate having to write checks and wish others did too.

The future (in my case, the present) is paperless — get used to it.

Gotta love him

March 11, 2003

I just added a new video and photo of my brother's truck. They show the LCD monitor he just installed in the dash on the passenger side. Kind of neat.

No excuses

March 10, 2003

Quick question: Why can't a Bluetooth-enabled mobile phone, capable of voice-dialing, tell you who is calling through your Bluetooth headset? Give up? Allow me to let you in on a little secret — there is NO reason!

I just don't understand why, when Jennifer calls me up, I can't get a quick ring in my ear, followed by my voice saying "Jennifer" (which was recorded by me earlier for voice-dialing).

As far as I can tell, it would work EXACTLY the same way as phones do now: receive the call, match the number to the name in your phonebook, and display the name (for those not following: caller-ID). All I'm asking is for it to go one step further and "say" the name through the Bluetooth headset using the name previously recorded for that particular person — why must we be tethered visually to the phone? The ability to do this isn't far off I'm sure, but damn it, this should have been a priority from jump.

Eric McGregor

March 06, 2003

Just a little over a week ago I convinced one of my best friends from back home to start a blog of his own after he asked me if I would post a weekly political rant of his on my site. I knew that he, like myself, really enjoyed writing and I was sure that he would be able to put an entertaining spin on current events. He hasn't disappointed. Be sure to check it out.

Sony Ericsson Clicker

March 04, 2003

Yet another reason for me to get an Apple PowerBook with Mac OS X: Sony Ericsson Clicker. The idea is that you can control anything connected to your computer through your Bluetooth-equipped Sony Ericsson mobile phone. Currently, it works only with the T68i (a phone I owned until very recently, when it was killed). Some ideas outlined on the product page are:

  • Control Keynote when giving presentations
  • Control DVD Player or iTunes from your sofa or bed
  • Pause iTunes when you leave the room, turn it on when you come back
  • Use AppleScript to let your presence (or absence) control anything you like

It is the last two things that excite me most. The software essentially allows your mobile phone to function as a "proximity sensor." The possibilities are endless. One thing that immediately came to mind is the ability to have whatever messaging client you use flag you as being "there" or not depending on whether it's receiving a signal from your mobile phone. I can't wait to start messing with this software.

Six Feet Under

March 02, 2003

Hopefully, all of you were able to catch the [third] season premiere of Six Feet Under tonight. Easily the most introspective drama on TV the past couple of years, the show touches on every aspect of the human condition. I must admit, I was a little scared when they flashed the white screen for Nathan Fischer tonight. Thankfully, it turned out to be a 15-minute ride through his experience with the "bright light" from which he emerged a healthy and more self-aware father.

Can anything touch HBO's year-round lineup? The Sopranos, Six Feet Under, The Wire, Oz, Mind of the Married Man, Sex and the City, Curb Your Enthusiam, and Real Time with Bill Maher. Nothing comes close.