A blog about the many neat things in life, along with the many other things that are lying around. Categories include: political things, philosophy things, design things, template things, garage things, music things, and lots and lots of other things!

Thursday, June 26, 2008


Originally uploaded by agius.
My dad is watching these dogs for a friend. They are shibu-inus, a
sort of Japanese toy dog breed. They're puppies, really - and they
have the usual teenage manners issues. :) But they're cute and fun for
a week at any rate.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

My Apartments

Originally uploaded by agius.
Okay, so I've been slow to get around to this, but I finally got a place! I secured a big 1-bedroom apartment in San Mateo, which is part of a beautiful community. Pool and some apartments shown here. Interior shot at this link.

I found several really good deals on apartments, but ultimately I decided I wanted a no compromises, really really nice place to come home to every day and to invite friends to. And I think this is it. Laundry rooms are huge, and just down the stairs from me. No air conditioning - but then, NOWHERE had air conditioning except some luxury apartments which cost $2200 / month. Everyone said that with Bay Area weather, you don't need A/C, except maybe 10 days a year... and a fan will do fine for those few days.

I'm blown away with how awesome this place is, and I can't wait to start setting up my gaming cave. Just a week and a half more, and I move out there! Wish me luck!

Monday, June 16, 2008

More Brawl Taunts

A Newgrounds animation - don't expect a masterpiece, but if you know anything about 4chan, this should be funny.

Safe for work - but you might want headphones. >.>

Labels: , , , ,

Friday, June 13, 2008

Half Moon Bay Rocks!

Half Moon Bay Rocks!
Originally uploaded by agius.
Half Moon Bay brewing co. - a frickin' awesome restaurant down on the
Pacific coastline. Sweet!!!

Here's hoping I can find good apartments tomorrow!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

GTA IV succeeds where Bioshock didn't

I beat GTA IV last week, finally! I got the "Liberty City Minute" achievement for beating the story in less than 30 hours - though, I think extensive retries and loading had something to do with that. I probably put that many hours into it, overall.

GTA IV was a lot of fun. The shooting / combat system was much improved from the last GTA I played (Vice City) and made the "kill everyone at this location" missions a lot of fun. The occasional rampage also made Liberty City more pleasent - whenever some asshole driver hit me or my car by making a stupid driving move, I could just blow them up with a friggin' grenade! Who hasn't wanted to follow up a fender-bender with a few rounds of explosives? The minigames were entertaining (except pool), and I got really good at darts by the end of everything. Stealing cars and outrunning the cops is as fun as ever - grabbing a Hummer and running over other cars made it very enjoyable.

There were some parts that made the game a bit less golden. The physics were very frustrating on a number of occasions - as Zero Punctuation notes, slamming through rows of lamp posts, mailboxes and people only to be halted by the world's thinnest 2x4 really got on my nerves, and made some of the missions extraordinarily difficult. The car chases were very difficult, and often frustrating due to mixed up mission objectives: it would say 'take out these guys,' then give 'these guys' an invincible tank with perfect acceleration and handling. Really, you're just supposed to follow 'these guys' until they get to a more cinematic location. But trying to drive and shoot at them becomes impossible. Also, some of the missions were incredibly long, and having to redo multiple cutscenes on failure was pretty aggravating (bank robbery mission, I'm looking at you).

These are minor gripes, however, when you consider the story and what it succeeds at. It constantly puts you in up to your neck, and you can feel Niko's desperation as you try to dig your way out.

And, getting back to the title, GTA IV succeeds at something I have not seen in almost any video games - creating morally ambiguous choices. Most games which claim to "allow the player to make mature decisions" such as Bioshock, basically boil down to "Do you want to brutally murder this innocent person, or not?" Very rarely are there consequences (Bioshock promised these, but I found saving the little girls didn't make it any harder than killing them) for good or bad behavior, and very rarely do you ever feel confused about what to do. GTA IV breaks this. Several times in game, you're offered the option of letting someone you're supposed to kill go. Often, they're really slimy people who have it coming. That's pretty binary, but it gets better - two guys you work for, who both seem to play it straight with you, and neither of which seem like double-crossing dicks, hire you to kill each other. Which one do you kill? How do you decide? Even at the end of the game, you're allowed to make big decisions which alter the way the story plays out. It's really, really awesome.

Aside from the quibbles above, I only have one major problem with this game: there's nothing to buy! Niko and Roman are always trying to make it big - and you do! I spent half the game with $300,000+ because there was nothing to spend it on! No safehouses, no cars to buy, nothing! I got a cool suit, all the weapons & full ammo, then that was it. Once I had a huge amount of money, the game's plot stopped making sense - Niko was taking all these jobs to make money, and I'm like, "Dude, I have almost half a million dollars - why do I need this guy's measly five thousand?" I wish you could have bought more safehouses, or permanent car spawns, or buildings with missions attached (like in Vice City) - that would have added a whole lot to the game's sandbox appeal.

All in all, GTA IV was a freakin' blast, and very worth the wait and the money spent on it. Can't wait for the next GTA!

Labels: , , , ,

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

California Tortilla

California Tortilla
Originally uploaded by agius.
Found a really cool place today thanks to my sister. California
Tortilla is a Mexican / burrito place with 'spunky' service. What made
it special for me was this utterly impressive array of hot sauces! I
tried 'death sauce' and 'See Dick Burn,' a play on the Dick & Jane
stories with a cute picture on the bottle. They were both delicious.

So: California Tortilla - highly recommended!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Bora Bora

Photo found here - kudos to John Miranda for taking it, and many like it. I want to go there. NOW.

Labels: , , ,

Monday, June 09, 2008

Dammit dammit dammit!

I expected the 3g iPhone would come out in July - I didn't expect ANOTHER $200 price cut! Gah, that sucks. Maybe I'll upgrade, maybe not - the big thing I'm excited about with iPhone 2.0 is definitely the software platform. I can't wait to see what cool games are available and what sorts of location-aware applications I can make for it.

Labels: , ,

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Cell Phones and Brain Cancer

Well - Debate Over Link Between Cellphones and Cancer Is Revived - NYTimes.com:
"There is no known biological mechanism to explain how non-ionizing radiation might lead to cancer.

But researchers who have raised concerns say that just because science can’t explain the mechanism doesn’t mean one doesn’t exist."
In other words: my blinding, irrational assumption has more credibility than all known biological science, and the variety of short-term studies suggesting I am wrong. We need to act now, on the basis of my irrational assumption, rather than wait for more conclusive long-term studies to bring actual data into the argument.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Screensaver Things

I have had some cool screensavers. Everyone was fascinated by my Mac laptop's screensaver Soundstream, for example - a toy that made sparkly waves in response to input from the mac's microphone input. For a while I was partial to Electric Sheep - a screensaver that generated fractals through an online, Folding-at-Home style distributed processing algorithm, and whooshed them together in super-cool looking feats of video morphing.

But the coolest screensaver ever is definitely Picasa's "My Starred Photos" screensaver. The way my photo export workflow goes - download to Picasa, star the ones worthy of uploading (i.e. not blurred and noisy and ugly), upload to Flickr - results in a rich history of starred photos on my copy of Picasa. Whenever I glance a photo out of the corner of my eye, usually while doing something else, I stumble into some corner of nostalgia lane. This runs somewhere between Grant and State streets in West Lafayette, Indiana, and makes occasional stop-by's in Cabo San Lucas, the Michiana Dunes (where the picture above was taken), and various fandom conventions. Now, out in the post-college world, it is a good reminder of all the wonderful things and wonderful people I encountered at Purdue. When I look back at Purdue, I won't just think of the tough-as-nails exams, week-long coding death marches, and make-or-fail-out-of-college project deadlines. I remember the great Battle of Outer Muncie (fought with Nerf weapons), Ohayocon 2006, four straight (well, gayly aligned) years of MFM, sledding down Slater Hill, long nights of Smash-related fun, worshipping the Tesla statue at Niagara Falls, and many other incredibly fun slices of memory. It reminds me why I'm a photographer.

Thanks, everyone - and thanks, Purdue.

I'm gonna go star some more photos.
Posted by Picasa

Monday, June 02, 2008

Rails - ghetto blasted?

Ever since Zed Shaw published his iconic post, "Rails is a ghetto", it's become super-hip to hate Ruby on Rails, along with iPods, Prius', and anything else that reeks of hipster fad-ism. Thanks to reddit (a site I rarely read due to the oversaturation of Ron Paul stories and cynical ranting), I stumbled across this rant about MagLev.

To be fair, I hadn't heard of MagLev before this article, and I haven't seen the presentation, since I wasn't at RailsConf (maybe next year). I was hoping for a quick rundown of what MagLev was, and perhaps some of the flaws this particular author saw in it.

He mentioned a few of the features of MagLev in passing: a shared memory cache, an OODB... well, that's it. No real description of the project.

Basically, I can sum up his entire rant in one sentence: "A 60x speedup over rails? Yeah, right." You could twitter that. Instead, a long-winded rant made its way so far up reddit that it appeared on popurls.

Honestly, I'm tired of reading speculation, guessing, and half-assed reasoning as to why Rails and any of its derived technology sucks. Will every Rails app that scales have the same kinds of issues as Twitter? I doubt it. I'm willing to bet there are certain applications where Rails is an ideal framework for building webapps, and quite a few situations where Rails is the wrong way to go.

What I would like to read, from the rails-hating community (which is now a popular clique in its own right), is an informative post detailing what problems Rails has that other platforms do not. Specific comparisons to other MVC frameworks like Django or Cake would be great - even other backends like Grails or some Java-based thingy would be cool, too. Also, delving into the C basis of Ruby and Rails for some actual snippets that seem flawed would be very informative.

For now, I'm going to go ahead and keep using Rails until it no longer seems like a great platform for the projects I'm working on.

Labels: , , ,