Wednesday, April 27, 2005

May will be hot, and it's not even summer!

Looking over the events of next month, I just had to throw out my two cents. Lots of stuff is going on and lots of good stuff is being released.

Of course, the top of everyone's list is the third chapter of the Star Wars saga, Revenge of the Sith. Toys are already filling the stores and video games are being released in anticipation of the final chapter of the world's biggest sci-fi license. I'm definitely looking forward to it, but not sure when I will get to see it... the last movie I saw in the theaters was Return of the King. At least I could see the astoundingly good fan production Revelations earlier this week. If nothing else, I'll watch Episode III on video by the holiday season.

Musically, lots of big stuff is coming out, starting out with Nine Inch Nails' With Teeth. This is Trent Reznor's first new studio album in years and seems to be generating quite a buzz online. One week later, we see the release of Stand Up from Dave Matthews Band, followed by Mesmerize from System of a Down the week afterward (my local Best Buy ads have been featuring this for two weeks now). Rounding out the month is the long-awaited album from Audioslave, Out of Exile. Trying a bold new campaign online, the band is promoting their single, Your Time Has Come, saying that the worldwide online premiere of the song (presumably in higher quality and without DRM) will occur after one million people have downloaded the preview. Lastly, I don't know if anyone else still cares, but Better Than Ezra is releasing a new album, Before the Robots.

Also on tap for mid-May is the giant party known as the E3. I'll never forget the one year I went when I worked as manager of a video game rental store... the sheer amount of games on the floor, the constant contests and giveaways, and the massive number of people packed into that LA Convention Center. Big announcements are planned including the unveiling (or at least partially) of the next generation of game consoles. This is the big show of the year where developers show off previews of their upcoming games. I wish I had the time and money to go back, but it's definitely not happening this year. I'll just keep my eye on Gamespot to find out what's going on.

Wow. Lots of good stuff. I guess I need to make sure that I get plenty of overtime in at work so I can afford all of that! Hopefully the rest of this summer will be as hot and exciting....

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Star Wars Revelations

Revelations promo poster

After reading a brief review online last week, I headed to the home page for the Revelations fan production. I just finished watching the DVD they have available for free download via BitTorrent and I'm quite amazed. Here's an exceptional use of the BT protocol to deliver a large file to a massive number of people on the net--and the MPAA says BitTorrent is bad.

Anyway, about the film... it clocks in at over 45 minutes with lots of story, action, and lots of the requisite lightsaber battles. Despite the story feeling rushed and underdeveloped in spots, I felt the overall experience was very close to the official films by Lucas himself only. The special effects blew me away considering that they didn't have a typical multi-million-dollar film budget. The detailed models and backgrounds are convincing and well animated and fit the overall feeling of the universe. Also of note is the musical score, driving the whole storyline much like John Williams' and even has quite a few re-orchestrated classics placed in appropriate spots such as the opening title crawl.

I won't go into the story here to avoid any spoilers... go watch it for yourself because it's well worth the 45 minutes. The acting isn't top-notch professional, but it's really good for amateurs. Considering that they are dedicated fans, I can't say I'm surprised, though. I've already burned a spare copy of the DVD and will start circulating it around at work, as I'm sure many of my co-workers (fellow techie people) will enjoy it as well. I can't say it enough... I'm impressed. Old George didn't shut this production down with his army of highly-paid lawyers so that should tell you something--Lucas doesn't seem to hesitate shooting down any fan projects that might possibly hurt his creation's image (but he gladly ruins it himself with crap like Jar Jar). Anyway, go watch it. Now.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Fighting the fates

It's just been one of those weeks. No matter what you do or how hard you try to fight back, life just keeps throwing obstacles in your way to stop you or slow you down. I've felt extra-tired all week and am still trying to make up lost hours at work to make that 40-hour mark. (Not even enough time to post stuff here, either!) On the bright side, this Friday was payday but unfortunately my paycheck was over $125 short because I've been missing work a lot lately for various reasons.

Despite the smaller-than-usual paycheck, I still have some extra spending cash and I've used a little of it to turn one of my dreams into reality. Even my new tarot deck seems to agree with me that this could be a good thing. Over a week ago, I had a dream where I was wearing clothing that I had specially customized towards paganism... it had a pentacle on it and some neat Celtic knotwork. After doing a little research on the internet, it doesn't look like there's much out there like what I had in mind. So over the course of yesterday and today among all the errands and work, I picked up everything to start selling a few items on eBay. I started small and tried to come up with unique and different ideas and hope to work my way up to larger and more elaborate stuff, possibly even getting expensive professional equipment someday if this turns out well.

So I laugh at the fates, trying to drag me down and put a damper on my spirit. We'll see how this little venture turns out.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Another weird dream

It's been hours since I had the dream, so the details escape me. It's not like I remembered much of it in the first place since I was suddenly awakened by the sound of the phone ringing. Anyway, the little that I do remember was that the dream was a weird mix of the movie Jurassic Park and the show Carnivale and any random sci-fi flick.

I remember the location was some sort of testing facility that was disguised as a national park or something like that. Some of it looked like lush jungle like in the JP movies, some of it looked like desert like many of the locations in Carnivale. The main characters were the cast of Carnivale, mainly Jonesy and Samson, and I seemed to be experiencing the dream through Ben's eyes. I remember Samson sending me out to the desert to help retrieve a lost dog and nearly getting killed by a pack of wolves that mutilated the pet I was looking for. I found out from the corpse that it was not alive, but actually was a robot. I slowly learn more about the entire cast being robotic slaves for Samson that are unwillingly enslaved for his evil plans without them realizing it.

The dream reaches it's dramatic (and rather cinematic) climax when I am running around in a trashed and abandoned laboratory looking for Samson while he is hunting me for finding out his plans. The cast is appalled when they see me "kill" him in front of everyone, partly because he was the head of them all and partly because they start to see the truth come out. He doesn't die that easily though as he wounds me and escapes further into the maze of the derelict lab's decaying corridors. Jonesy follows me to help me out and we eventually manage to corner Samson. It is here that we learn that he is one of the last survivors of his kind (or maybe it was that he is the first or only of his kind) because he is actually part human, but also part machine. By sheer accident while trying to rush at me to kill me, the poor little guy falls into a recycling hatch where the remaining parts of his ragged body are shredded and recycled back to the Earth. Jonesy made some comment that it was appropriate that he died like this since his body was recycled with mechanical parts.

I was under the impression that there was more to the dream after this, kind of like a sequel movie. The cast was now lost and not sure what to do, especially after learning of their true nature. Here the phone rings and jars me out of sleep and this is all I can remember of this dream. It seems that I've been getting lots of very vivid dreams lately, including this one. I just wish that I had more time to devote to studying about dream symbols and what these dreams are trying to show me....

Monday, April 18, 2005

Firefox flaws found — Get over it

News flash: Nine new flaws found in Firefox. Here's another news flash: get over it. Bugs are inevitable in any application as complex as a web browser. The fact that it is Internet Explorer's biggest competition right now just makes it that much more of a target. What many of these stories on the web fail to mention is that the Mozilla Foundation actually released the 1.0.3 patch to fix these flaws for Firefox last Friday. Symantec's latest internet security report misleadingly claims that more security vulnerabilities were found in Firefox than in Internet Explorer during the last half of 2004. The difference is that Firefox is open source and the code is available for anyone to see. Flaws will be found more often because a larger number of eyes are looking for them in Mozilla browsers than the smaller number of Microsoft employees looking over their own code. And so far, security patches have been released much more quickly for Firefox than IE.

However, I must at least mention in Microsoft's defense that their patches are much more complicated since their browser is so closely integrated with the operating system. If they implement a fix in IE that breaks the OS, they would have a bigger situation on their hands and many upset customers. One reply to this MozillaZine article makes a good point: Windows itself is inherently vulnerable and many of the security problems of any application are because of the operating system's flaws. The years of slapping prettier GUIs, "fluff" applets and utilities, and other "features" into Windows does make it difficult to maintain. Maybe it's time Microsoft just started over from scratch?

Firefox has lots of great features, is very speedy, and updates are published quickly, but the browser is still young and isn't compatable with some sites. Internet Explorer is already preinstalled with Windows and most sites are designed to work with it, but patches are far and few between. Each has its strengths and weaknesses, so it's ultimately the end-user's decision which one to use.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

「創聖のアクエリオン」Holy Genesis Aquarion - Episode 02 - The Beast of Darkness

Please don't let me down. I can just see the end slowly spiraling closer and severely disappointing me. Normally, anime series seem to have slow buildup and lots of nifty fluff with lots of cryptic hints. Aquarion seems to be zooming past the fluff as the big bad guy from the war 12,000 years ago wakes up in this episode and kicks the good guys' asses, wreaking major havoc everywhere. Maybe it's just part of something bigger, but I feel like this is supposed to be an episode in the middle of the series, not the second episode. I'm at least relieved to see that the animation quality is on par with the first episode. One thing I didn't comment on before that caught my attention on my second viewing of episode one is the music, and it didn't disappoint in the new episode either. Talk about epic and dramatic--I want this anime's soundtrack!! Damn, now I have to wait at least another week before the next one....

IE is bad

Okay, it's not evil, but apparently it's handling of CSS isn't that great. I use Firefox almost exclusively and have been tweaking the layout here since I started and was under the impression that the CSS styles would work the same way in any browser. I just used Internet Explorer to test out the layout and... ugh. I had heard about it's terrible support and complaints about its non-standard tags, but this is the first time I've experienced it firsthand. I'm going to scrap the layout and start over fresh. Hopefully things will look better soon in both browsers. I promise.


Yep, it feels like it's going to be one of those days. I've been doing the tarot-a-day thing since I got my new deck and it's been quite insightful and neat to learn. Today's card for me was the White Tiger Page reversed in my Feng Shui Tarot Deck, which is the equivalent of the Page of Swords in any other standard deck. From the description in the booklet and what I can find online, it doesn't sound like it's going to be an easy day. Apparently mistakes or any immature behavior on my part today will likely set off a nuclear explosion... well, maybe not that extreme, but still not good. This does seem quite likely with the "family picnic" we have planned today with some of our family members that we'd rather not have to deal with. Makes me wish that the car would break down so I could stay here at work all day, but like the old saying says, "Be careful what you wish for, you just might get it." That's a problem I'd rather not have to deal with right now. The fates have been kind to me as of late, but we'll have to wait and see how it turns out today. Blarg is all I have to say.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Atlantis found?

The possible location of the sunken city of Atlantis?

I've always been fascinated with ancient history, whether it be the Egyptians, Mayans, Vikings, or whatever. One famous legend that still eludes us today is the story of Atlantis. Rummaging through the news in my RSS feeds this morning, it seems that a Canadian (who'da thunk?) claims to have found the location of the lost city on recent satellite photos. Check out the "How I Found Atlantis" section of his website for more images. I tried to pull up the same location using Google maps, hoping that their recent satellite scans might show the same thing, but I'm disappointed to say that I couldn't see anything. I've heard lots of talk on the net that lots of their photo data is a few years old, so maybe the pictures aren't recent enough. On his website, Chris Shearer claims that last year's hurricanes stirred up the sediment enough under the water to reveal the "discovery." As much as I want to believe it and would love to see the true lost city discovered, I have my doubts about this one.

I'm sure we'll see a flood of Atlantis documentaries and movies as well soon, this article seems to be spreading quickly through the news. I guess in the mean time, we'll all keep looking for those "easter eggs" hidden on Google's maps, like this mysterious airstrip in Nevada that the government is denying exists and other neat satellite image findings.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005


'The melody of your demise' by Linda Bergkvist

I was just going through my email and got the latest newsletter from CGTalk. There was a feature article on Linda Bergkvist with some sample art and I just had to click through after a glance at those pictures (the low-res one to the left doesn't do justice to the full-res version). I wish I had the time, patience, and skill to do digital art like this. Every issue of the CGTalk newsletter is just chock full of amazing 3D renderings and 2D artistry that both my box at home and work are getting filled with more and more fantastic wallpapers after every issue. Anyway, the article links to her homepage which has lots more of her artwork in the online gallery. I just loved the art and had to share. Enjoy! =)

My first tarot deck

Ever since my dream a few days ago, I haven't been able to stop thinking about what it could mean. Saturday morning, I stopped by Half Price Books outside of the Superstition Springs Mall in Mesa. I just had this gut feeling that I had to go there and that I would receive more information to help unravel this mystery. Heading straight for the metaphysical section, I browsed around and two books in particular jumped out at me from the shelves, Tarot and Dream Interpretation and Nocturnal Witchcraft. The only problem was that I had no tarot deck of my own. I asked the lady at the register if they had any and much to my surprise, she takes me to a locked case and opens it up so I could see what they had in stock. Honestly, I was expecting a look of terror or suspicion about me being an evil blasphemer, but she was very helpful and pointed me to another store nearby that she had been to that apparently had a good selection of decks.

Sample cards from the Feng Shui Tarot deck

Unfortunately, I had little time that weekend to stop by the store she had recommended, Wellspring Books, but I checked their website and found out what hours they were open (the only place I've heard of that's closed only on Mondays). Yesterday before work, I dropped in and had a look at their selection and almost instantly found the Feng Shui Tarot Deck (sample cards above). One other that caught my eye was some Arthurian-inspired deck, but it just didn't jump out at me like the Feng Shui one did. The staff was very helpful and the atmosphere was very peaceful and open, making me want to go back and visit again when I have more time.

The thing that I found most fascinating about the deck is what happened when I got home late that evening. After putting the kids to bed, I sat in my chair and just felt strongly compelled to open the deck up and browse, despite the fact that I had gotten a very good look at the cards in the store from their sample on the shelf. I picked up the box and it felt extremely heavy, not in a bad way, but rather like it contained much power and knowledge waiting to be unlocked. I opened the box and the shrinkwrapped cards slid out quickly and quietly. I swear that the plastic wrap was completely whole and sealed when it came out of the box, but the instant that I started to open it, the deck seemed to rip a large hole on the bottom of the wrap and almost literally fell out of the plastic into my hands. It seems happy and grateful to have an owner and purpose now. I cracked open the book I purchased during the weekend, but I couldn't get past the first page due to sheer exhaustion from being awake so long today, so I put everything back on my desk and went to sleep.

Hopefully I can get into it soon and start to figure out what the dream was trying to say. There have been other very vivid dreams since then, but none as memorable or significant as the one in my other posting (not to mention that I can't remember any of the others either). I need to dig out my other dream symbols book as well and probably sit down this weekend and do some studying and interpretations. I just hope that the deck can wait until then as well.... =)

Monday, April 11, 2005

Mail-in Rebates

From "When to play the rebate game" by Tom Merritt on It's in the rebate company's best interests to give away less money than it's getting paid. That's why they make rebates so hard to apply for.

I work for GFS/Young America, a rebate fulfillment company, so the title of the article caught my attention and I figured I'd read it for a good laugh. Two paragraphs in, I read that line above and had to put my two cents in. I had some level of self-control and at least read the remainder of his article to be fair and see what else he had to say. You can read my reply to the article as well.

I certainly didn't think that his article was very accurate, but it seems from reading the replies to this and other articles online that most consumers don't know anything about how rebates work or what goes on behind the scenes. It's a natural human tendency to be afraid of the unknown and the lack of knowledge and information about rebates makes consumers into something akin to a scared, cornered cat ready to lash out at whatever it can reach. It certainly doesn't help that a seemingly large part of the rebate fulfillment business is comprised of either incompetent simpletons or sly con artists. It makes me feel embarrassed about working for such a much-maligned industry, but I feel redemption in the fact that I know the company that I work for is one of the few truly honest and hard-working fulfillment centers in the nation.

Contrary to popular belief, we *do* want consumers to get the money that they are owed. We get paid based on the number of submissions we process, not based on how many people we don't pay. Having worked in many departments during my tenure here at GFS, I have a very good picture of how our business is run and how things really work. I can confidently assure any outsiders that our data entry department is accurate and honest—we don't conveniently "lose" consumers' submissions like other centers are being so frequently blamed for. In fact, while I worked in Quality Assurance on third shift, I was tasked with a twice-nightly security sweep to make sure that no sensitive data was being thrown away and that all submission materials were returned to their original locations. In my current position where I do programming of the offers, I've seen the dedication of our senior management staff, client services department, and my own manager and leads. On one night a few weeks back, my manager and lead both stayed until 4AM to correct a critical system issue. Constant offer correction requests from the clients are being submitted to add new products and extend deadlines, all to the consumers' benefit. I really hate to see all the confusion and negative press about our industry, but I know from experience that it's not our company that's causing it. Now if only our competitors would step up and be as honest and reputable as we are.

Unfortunately, it's not always the fault of the fulfillment company. I've said it many times before, but some people just don't get it... read all the instructions carefully and follow the directions. We don't set the rules, our clients do. If you want to get your money back, you need to follow their rules. If you have a question, contact the customer service number on the form before you submit the rebate and it becomes a problem. Make copies of all your submission materials in case there is a problem. Like I said in my reply to the misinformed article above, "rebates are much simpler than everyone makes them out to be, as long as you can read and follow instructions."

Sunday, April 10, 2005

「創聖のアクエリオン」 Holy Genesis Aquarion - Episode 01 - The Memory of the Heavenly Wings

Aquarion logo

"Look... another Evangelion ripoff..." was my first thought after reading a synopsis online (the title and logo are even very similar). The reviews on it were fairly positive and it sounded interesting, so I queued the torrent up and gave it a fair shot.

Twenty three minutes after the first images scrolled down my screen, the episode ended and I felt like I had just been on the world's biggest and most animated virtual roller-coaster ride. Twenty-three minutes of non-stop action, wickedly-slick eye-bleeding kick-ass animation, giant robots morphing/fighting/shooting/etc, and more. I cannot say how surprised I was by this one, and the fansubbing group that did this one (mahou fansubs) seemed to do a nice job with the translation and subtitles.

The only thing I didn't like about it is that it ended and I have to wait for more. =) I'm really hoping that the quality of the animation doesn't drop out either, but it's entirely possible that a larger-than-normal budget was allocated for the first episode only to draw lots of people in. *sigh* 25 episodes to go, 25 weeks to go... let's just hope the rest of the series is as fantastic as this first episode was.


I don't know why, but I just can't fall asleep. I napped a little this afternoon, but not enough to keep me awake this much. No stress, no worries, no problems. I bet it's going to rain soon though because every bone and muscle in my body has that uncomfortable aching feeling that comes before the storms. Maybe I'll try cutting down some of the light in here as well, there's light coming in from outside, the LEDs on my router and cable modem are blinking brightly, and the power and HDD lights on my box are pretty strong, too. I need to get some kind of rest so I can get up early and go to work. Well, hopefully complete darkness will finally do the trick. Fade to black....

Friday, April 08, 2005

A magickal dream...?

Maybe it was the episode of Lost that I watched before going to sleep... maybe it was the rest of the Pepsi that I finished off before going to sleep... or more likely it was real. Earlier in my sleep I think I got into another plane of reality, a different dimension, a different time in our own reality, or possibly just the Dreamscape. I frequently have very vivid dreams with signs or messages in them about things in my life and have learned that it is possible ask the spirits and deities to help induce these "dreams"... I firmly believe that I have powers as a Dreamwalker.

So back to the "dream" itself. It all started with me seeming to move into this tiny little house, much like this one about a mile down the road from me on the corner of the cemetary property. It was just like the movies... quaint, but dusty and obviously well-used, with paint peeling off on the corners and edges everywhere. The last rays of sunlight streamed through the small gaps in the shutters, illuminating the thick dust in the air like a swarm of tiny lazy fireflies. I decided to unpack a little of my stuff and found a sort of "computer" in the house that was attached to some sort of network--this surprised me because I somehow knew that this place didn't have any sort of internet connection, so I figured it must have been a wireless connection. I never found out for sure, but it was connected to more than I could have ever wished for.

The house must have been happy to have someone finally living in it again because it seemed to grow warmer and clean itself on its own and the space inside appeared to have expanded to far larger than its outside appearances would allow. Having settled in, I sat at this computer and tried to get online to post a blog about my new place. However, I couldn't log onto this site but it redirected me to another place where I promptly signed up for an account and posted my first little entry then napped for a bit.

After a short rest, I logged back on to figure out what was going on and what kind of stuff I was connected to. I sort of got the impression that the network was connected directly to the house on a more spiritual level. I did a little surfing on this mysterious network and found a game that caught my attention and played it for a little while. It seemed to resemble something from the Front Mission series and seemed very vivid, almost like I was really playing it. The catch was, I never saw myself really playing the game, but I could feel myself interacting with the game subconciously... almost like I started to play the game on the PS2 with the standard controller and slowly figured out how to control the game with my mind, thereby eliminating the need for the physical input device. I loved the game so much that I published another blog entry and asked if anyone else had played it and if there were any more in the series. Later that day, I would get comments back telling me that there were, in fact, more to the series except their titles were similar to oddball anime series naming conventions: Game Title X, Game Title J, Game Title RS X, Game Title Super J, etc. After initially finishing my entry I decided to do a little more cleaning and unpacking.

I wandered through the two rooms in the house and found that the insides had again expanded and a third room had appeared. I got the impression that this room was an indoor garden at one time. The floor was made of giant square stones with weeds and grass here and there between the cracks. The more I wandered the room, clearing away the weeds and grass, the more its walls seemed to grow transparent. By the time I had finished, I could see outside fairly clearly and could see that I was now next to some abandoned schoolyard. Taking a few steps towards the schoolyard, I felt as if I had never moved from the spot I was standing in, but I could clearly see that the point of view had changed. It was almost as if the room was projecting the scene from some mobile camera somewhere else. Going on this theory, I decided to try the whole mind-controlled input idea that worked on the computer and it worked here as well. I was able to move my view around this schoolyard a little and look around. It was during this interfacing with the room that I started to receive a few replies back to my last post about the game. I was actually receiving the replies, almost as if I could hear their voices in my head while seeing their textual responses displayed in the air before my eyes.

This amazing room had touched me deeply and inspired me to post another entry in the blog. I don't remember exactly what was written, but it seems similar to the magic and energy I feel now as I write this entry on the internet. Having written the entry, I did a little more work in the room and started to use this newfound ability to manipulate the room to start dividing it up to become a more proper garden. I managed to create some small metal gates and fences and raised some shrubbery to create sections to this garden area. I was pretty tired, so I posted one more small blog entry (which I don't remember any content of) and then went to sleep.

Upon waking up, I find that there are other people now living in this place. I can hear their thoughts and they all seem to be good people with strong spiritual values. Having gleaned this information, I realized I needed to take a shower because it was time to go to work. The only problem was that in this small house, there were only three rooms and about a half dozen people going to-and-fro through these three rooms. Connecting the garden room and the tiny bedroom/computer room was one long and narrow windowless room that served as a kitchen area and had a few shower heads on the wall so it also served as a bathroom of sorts as well. I got the impression that these other people were harmless and I figured I had nothing to hide or be embarrassed about, so I turned on the showers and started to clean up. It was during the shower that I realized these people were not actually there in the room, but seemed almost like ghostly apparations going about their own business. During the shower, more thoughts seemed to leak into my mind and I soon figured out that these were more replies to my blog entries. Apparently my spiritual third post from earlier was inspiring to people and these apparitions that were present in my little home were just projected visions of themselves doing things in their everyday life, almost like an invisible camera was peering into their life.

I finished the shower off quickly and went back to the garden room which was starting to grow plants already. I found it much easier to interface with the network and check my blog and re-read (and listen to) the comments left by others. As I did this I came back into the kitchen/bathroom to find it had opened up and windows were now letting light into this room as well. There was a young couple sitting in the corner on a rug and I could see her reading something on her laptop, she then turns around and places her head and hands flat on the ground in front of some sort of pillar and thanks the goddess or some other deity for what she has learned and experienced. Somehow, I get the distinct impression that it was because of me, possibly what I had written earlier.

In the final moments of my dream, I heard the voice of Charlie, the lead at my work, talking to a group of people. They were role-playing a White Wolf game and someone needed to roll for their luck. Here, he seemed to be still talking to his group, but it was so loud and clear and it almost seemed like his mind's eye was looking directly at me, that he was actually talking to me instead of them. He told them that their luck was so great that it was very difficult to roll, but the scene absolutely needed to have something rolled so the player should roll three d18's (I know that doesn't exist) and total up the three numbers to be their luck score roll.

It was then that I heard some rattling and was suddenly awakened by the sound of my blinds flapping in the early morning winds. It was just before six and I figured I could sleep just a little more before getting ready for work. The breeze persisted and the sounds of the blinds kept me from falling back asleep, so here I sit. I'm not entirely sure what the dream was trying to tell me, but it felt so real and the concept of that network just fascinated me. It felt like I had tapped into the collective conciousness through my dreams because I could hear and feel other peoples' thoughts and feelings while connected to this "network." I'm intrigued by this and want to find out more, but I really have to get a move on now so I can get to work.

Who knows? Maybe this post will have the same startling effects that my post in the "dream" did. Maybe I'll be contacted by like-minded individuals out there on the internet today? Or maybe it was just a dream.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Lost - Episode 20 ("Do No Harm")

I'm left speechless and in desperate need of lots of tissues after finishing off the latest episode. Despite the fact that it's almost midnight and I have to get up early tomorrow morning, I just absolutely had to post how amazing it was. I didn't get caught up in the series until around February and then watched the first fifteen episodes in a matter of about a week and have been fiending for my next new fix ever since then (now I know how Charlie must have felt during those first few episodes).

Anyway, I thought the entire episode was magnificent. The parallels between the present and Jack's past, the growing trust and bonding between characters, and the very moving representation of the cycle of life... that last point sure hit me hard and had me sniffling for at least the last ten minutes of the episode. The only other television series that has made my eyes well up like that was Everwood.

Hats off to JJ Abrams and the rest of the crew of Lost for a fantastic show and another spectacular episode. I just wish we didn't have to wait until next month for the next episode, unlike Abrams' other series Alias premiering a new episode weekly from January 5th to May 25th. I hope that's enough to hold me over until then. =)

Who's Winning?

I can't believe this has been up already for over two weeks and I haven't seen it. There's just something twistedly funny about cats dancing and singing. If you haven't experienced Joel Veitch's videos yet, then give it a try. It's not for everyone, but I like it.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

MGM vs Grokster thoughts

See? I told you the silence wouldn't last long. Anyway, for what it's worth, here's my two cents on the P2P lawsuit currently being heard in the Supreme Court.

Personally, I am a bit divided on whole case. I won't lie, I use P2P networks to download stuff and I would be sad to see the court decide to try and shut them down. It's highly doubtful that would happen, and even if it did then another one would rise up in its place much akin to the mythological hydra. However, I do understand the RIAA and the MPAA whining about their "lost revenues" due to piracy from the P2P networks. The companies are in the business to make a profit, but that doesn't mean that I agree with their methods. I think that some sort of balance or compromise needs to happen.

I consider myself to be a very seasoned netizen, having been online since 1996, and have learned lots of techniques to find what I'm looking for. I know P2P networks won't go away, it's an innate function of the internet just like FTP or even instant messenger protocols... one computer connects to another for purposes of data transmission. Even if P2P file sharing is ruled to be illegal, piracy will continue on IRC, Usenet (anyone remember that?), private or anonymous networks, and whatever other next-generation methods may arise. I'm not an attorney, but I believe that these networks are useful and should fall under free speech laws and fair-use copyright laws. Contrary to what the RIAA wants you to believe, lots of legal bits and bytes are flowing through the networks and its legal uses are growing every day.

In case they haven't noticed, services like the new Napster and iTunes are wildly successful and new devices such as the PSP are bringing new meaning to the word convergence. I, for one, would be happy to pay a reasonable fee to instantly download an album over an illegal download. Reasonable, as in $8-10 for an album--maybe more or less depending on the length or number of tracks--not the sub-$20 range that they currently consider to be reasonable for a disc that costs pennies to produce. I understand that there is lots more going on behind the scenes and everyone needs to get paid, but with electronic downloads we cut out lots of the middlemen in shipping, packaging, and retail. I've heard so many bad things from artists online and in magazine articles about the RIAA being the equivalent of a big and greedy bully and there is a significant lack of alternatives.

P2P distribution could just be the tool the industry needs to topple the RIAA from its power monopoly... there are artists out there who are able to pay their bills using P2P and even a some big names that are happy to embrace this new frontier. Last year, REM released an entire album for free on their website and they're far from starving and homeless. Others include They Might Be Giants, Wilco, Pete Townshend, and Björk. All of these artists offer a variety of free downloads, from unreleased cuts to live sessions to complete albums, all without the annoying restrictions of DRM. (That's a topic for another blog.) There is even the Creative Commons that has a flexible copyright system to allow artists to offer up their downloads without worry.

The movement needs to start somewhere and I think that this case will get the revolution rolling. The big companies are already starting to break down and admit to things that aren't helping their case. Digital music is no longer the future, it is here now and the industry needs to open their minds up to this new delivery method before it's too late.

First post

Wow. My first post in my own blog. At the moment, I have nothing worthwhile to say. Strange, considering that I've had lots of things I've been wanting to blog about for the past few weeks. I doubt my silence will last long though. =)