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Email Trouble

Couple weeks back I switched my email setup over to the new web server. I kinda liked the idea of having a separate email server --not keeping all my eggs in one basket, and like that. But then my chess filter thing wouldn't work.

Anthony was giving me shit about the chess filter, saying nobody cares about seeing my last chess game on my web site. As if I didn't know that already, ha! It was a learning exercise. An experiment in generating content automatically.

Anyway, I just got it working again. Bunch of stuff was broken. The path in my .procmailrc wasn't allowing the recipe to see stuff like cat and sed. And the recipe had some carriage returns in it. All that stuff needs to be on one line.

The biggest problem I had though was I had left fetchmail running on the old server. No wonder fetchmail on the new box wasn't collecting anything from my pop mail accounts --the old server was grabbing the emails before the new one could. Heh. As M. Emmet Walsh tells Dan Hedeya in "Blood Simple": "you look stupid now".

What the heck is the chess filter thing? It's that chess game graphic down there on the left side. Whenever I play a game on the Free Internet Chess Server (FICS), after finishing, the game is automatically emailed to me in PGN notation. The filter takes these emails (which are text files) and generates the graphic which shows the final position, who won, stuff like that.


Jobs On Microsoft

A couple choice quotes from Steve Jobs speaking in "Triumph of The Nerds: Great Artists Steal":

"Most people don't remember but until the Mac, Microsoft was not in the applications business. It was dominated by Lotus. And Microsoft took a big gamble to write for the Mac."

"The only problem with Microsoft is they just have no taste. They have absolutely no taste, and what that means is--I don't mean that in a small way, I mean that in a big way--in the sense that, they don't think of original ideas, and they don't bring much culture into their product. And you say: 'why is that important', well you know proportionally spaced fonts come from typesetting and beautiful books, that's where one gets the idea. If it weren't for the Mac, they would never have that in their products.

So, I guess I am saddened, not by Microsoft's success, no problem with their success. They've earned their success--for the most part--I have a problem with that they really just make third rate products."

As Ali G says: interesting...


Is The Gui "Intuitive"?:

Recently I was re-watching Cringely's: "Triumph of the Nerds: Great Artists Steal" --part three of a documentary about the rise of the personal computer. Something Bob said bugged me, and it's been nagging me since. Here's the quote (referring to the difference between GUI and command line interfaces):

"Pictures rather than words, making the pc easy and intuitive."

It seems to be commonly accepted that the reason graphical user interfaces have been successful is because they are more "intuitive" (whatever that means.) The truth is, it's not that graphics are more intuitive than words, it's that the gui by it's nature has a more limited command set, thus making it easier to learn...

But don't take my word for it, here's what user interface guru Alan Cooper says in his book "About Face: The Essentials Of User Interface Design": "The first commercially successful implementation of the PARC GUI was the Apple Macintosh, with it's desktop, wastebasket, overlapping sheets of paper and file folders. The Mac didn't succeed because of these metaphors, however, but because it was the first computer that defined a tightly restricted vocabulary--a canonical vocabulary based on a very small set of mouse actions--for communicating with users. It also offered richer visual interaction. The metaphors were just nice paintings on the walls of a well-designed house."

Cooper is specifically referring to the Mac, but of course the same also applies to Microsoft's less elegant Windows GUI.

Don't get me wrong, Cringely is a cool guy, and what he said is true enough in the context of his documentary --just not completely accurate.


Demise Of The Kacked IRC Chatroom

Finally shit-canned the irc chatroom I had been running for a couple of years. It was amusing and provided some learning experience. But got to be a drag. Occasionally someone new would login using a real client and hang out for a while. Mostly though people stopped by using the chat interface. This got really annoying. People would click on the chatroom link on my web site and since it's a web site (after all) expect the chat part to happen in "web time". People have a tendency to be very impatient when using the web. This doesn't really work well on IRC.

Anyway, I ended up feeling like a monkey in a box --every now and then someone would stop to bang on my bars. Never sticking around long enough for a reply. One way conversations are not that exciting for me (or you, for that matter.) The average visit would be a couple of minutes at most, I would talk to people about it later and they would say stuff like: "I tried your chatroom but you're never around", etc.

I appreciate my buddy Michael hanging with the experiment as long as he did. He would hang out in there and basically it was our own private chatline. I wanted it to be more than that but there never seemed to be any type of critical mass of bodies. Maybe I'll try again once that rock star gig comes thru.


Eye Of The Storm

All I want is sleep. Laying in bed almost drifting off. Keep hearing what sounds like my neighbor opening and closing a sliding closet door. But no. Thunder and getting closer. Then in spite of being so damn restless, I'm almost asleep and BAM --right over the house. I almost shit my bed.

Pretty spectacular. The power went on and off several times, Could have swore I saw sparks coming from my computer gear. Thought for sure my stuff was fried.

Went outside to admire the storm. Raining hard, but it's already moving on. Back outside a bit, then try and sleep. Where's my cocoa dammit?


True Romance

I got this sugarfree lemon meringue pie yesterday. Wallmart... in the day old baked goods section. I like getting stuff out of the day old thing. You never know what's gonna be there, so like the food finds you and it's like a surprise, and like super cheap. So last night I couldn't sleep because I was farting so much. Like once a minute --big ones too, my stomach had sharp pains because I had so much gas.

Reminded me of the time I went to spend a romantic weekend with a girl friend at some cabin in the woods. Shopping in the country store we found these sugarfree gummi bears and bought several pounds. Too late we looked at the warning label: "caution, can cause severe gas."

Oh man, we were both farting so bad she had to sit on one end of the room while I sat on the other. Not just your regular farts either. Nasty smelly ones. A nightmare.

So I look on the top of the pie container this morning and it's got the same stuff in it that those gummi bears had. Nasty, nasty, nasty. My butt hurts.


Takeshi Miike: Dead Or Alive Trilogy

Recently finished watching all three of Takeski Miike's "Dead Or Alive" series. I'm convinced. The guy really is a genius.

Watched them out of order. Three first, part of two, the first one, finally watching two from start to finish. Turns out it really didn't matter what order I watched them in. As Miike explains they aren't really sequels:

"...Generally I think making a sequel is an insult to the original film, because the producers think we can make something better than the first film for less money...

So when I was offered to make the sequel I saw it as an opportunity for resistance, for rebellion, by not making the sequel as a sequel but by changing things around. It doesn't excite me very much to make a normal sequel..."

The first film has this mtv style intro that has been written about widely. A "rube goldberg machine" of perversion:

  • naked woman falls from roof holding bag of cocaine, splats on shinjuku pavement
  • guy in kimono lifts bag from bloodied street
  • cops hassle girls on street
  • strippers gyrate
  • guy in matrix style coat and bad elvis hairdo rides chopper on his way to perform mahem
  • businessman/yakuza does 30 foot line of coke
  • guy eats bowl many bowls of noodles is shot in back and noodles spray from stomach towards camera
  • guy in public restroom is stabbed in the neck as he fucks other guy in the ass
  • blood sprays from neck as guy getting fucked turns and tries to catch blood in mouth

and so on, and so forth, six dizzying minutes of rock guitar pounding the viewer into submission.

Every scene seems to have something off kilter...

The second film: "Dead or Alive-Birds" has a restaurant scene where chinese and japanese gangsters celebrating their alliance is disrupted. As you would expect from seeing other such movies everybody in the room is slaughtered by gunfire... but what's with that guy in the back wearing the chicken suit?

This film while slower paced with less action but more story convinced me that Miike is after more than just to shock and titilate the audience.

Using the same type of title cards as in "Visitor Q", periodically the screen goes black: "where are you?", and the final card: "where are you going?"


Phone

Sniffing around I found a site talking about this Wong Kar-Wai sci-fi flick "2046". I guess he's been working on it for 5 years. Maggie Cheung, Gong Li, Faye Wong, Ziyi Zhang... ouch. There's a trailer.

This could suck or be just the total shit. He's a movie god, but I have to be careful recommending his films as I'm quite sure many would find them boring. A good test would be to ask yourself which of the Alien movies you prefer: "Alien" or "Aliens". If your answer is "Alien" then you might find the prospect of a Wong Kar-Wai sci-fi flick as exciting as I do.

On the other hand you could check out (on video) one of his other films like "In The Mood For Love" or "Chung-King Express". If those work/ed for you, then I recommend that you try and catch "Last Life In The Universe". People living in Los Angeles have it so easy as far as films go --you're so lucky do you hear me? It's going to be playing at the Nuart towards the end of the month. I can't recommend this film enough. I asked a friend in thailand what the actual thai title translates to (where the hell did they get that english title?) and he said it's something like "Noi Loves Nid Very Much".

I watched that korean horror movie "Phone" last night. Worth seeing but maybe not till you can find it on video. Kind of the same old ring type ghost story --long dark haired ghost, pale skin, dark makeup around the eyes. The ghost and ghost effects were good and there were some creepy moments including a great performance by a young girl possessed by the ghost --her parts are up there with "The Exorcist".

Some interesting ideas. Another of many films playing on the creepy aspect of phones, mirrors, reflections and sounds.

KFC Cinema Review: Phone


The Village

Caught that film "The Village" recently. I wasn't expecting much, in fact I was expecting not to like it. Not great but maybe worth watching --just don't go expecting to see a horror movie.

Most of the reviews I've read say it's a big piece of crap. I can see how people might come away feeling that way. Sometimes it pays to have low expectations...

Roger Ebert: "...It's a crummy secret... It's so witless, in fact, that when we do discover the secret, we want to rewind the film so we don't know the secret anymore.

And then keep on rewinding, and rewinding, until we're back at the beginning, and can get up from our seats and walk backward out of the theater and go down the up escalator and watch the money spring from the cash register into our pockets..."

Stephen Hunter: "...The critters are known as They Whom We Do Not Discuss (and of course they discuss them all the dang time!) and red is The Bad Color, and at the edge of the village is The Shed We Do Not Use. The gigglers in the back row would be Those Who Are Impolite..."

Walter Chaw: "...he demands that we dwell on other things. Okay, how about imperial hubris? ... The rationale behind making a two-hour episode of 'Little House on the Prairie'? ... Or the mystery of how Chihuahuas have found their way into rural Pennsylvania, circa 1897?..."


Think Again

Thinking about switching to Linux? You already have...

(excerpt from The Open Source Paradigm Shift by Tim O'Reilly):

"'How many of you use Linux?' I ask. Depending on the venue, 20-80% of the audience might raise its hands. 'How many of you use Google?' Every hand in the room goes up. And the light begins to dawn. Every one of them uses Google's massive complex of 100,000 Linux servers, but they were blinded to the answer by a mindset in which 'the software you use' is defined as the software running on the computer in front of you. Most of the 'killer apps' of the Internet, applications used by hundreds of millions of people, run on Linux or FreeBSD. But the operating system, as formerly defined, is to these applications only a component of a larger system. Their true platform is the Internet..."

The Network Is The Document



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