Wii will rock you?

So Nintendo is officially naming their new console… Wii (pronounced “we”)*.

WTF, mate?

People are already scoring points knocking the name (as you could see by reading the discussion linked from the above Ars article): “whoever came up with this one… (wait for it…) must’ve been smokin’ some killer wiid…,” “iiw,” “This makes the ‘MacBook Pro’ look awesome!**”

I mean, wow. What a way to shoot your product in the foot before it even launches. Marketing is supposedly all about “the four Ps:” product, price, place, and promotion. While others seem to believe the Revolution (excuse me) will be the console to nail product and price, I have a hard time imagining that promoting this product will be very easy. Anyone want to come over and check out my new Wii?

[*Or “wee” (as in urine, or the male appendage). Or “wee” (little). Or “oui” (‘yes’ in French). Or “whee” (a noise made while having fun).]

[**Never underestimate the power of a good foil. Never forget, either, that just become one thing is worse than the other, the other isn’t necessarily good.]


Today was another in a string of sunny days ’round these parts, which allowed about eight men to raise holy hell on my house’s leaky roof. They worked about twelve hours today, and should finish the job sometime tomorrow. Amazing.

Also amazing is how much noise eight men working on your roof can make. I was poking away in the basement most of the day, and was well aware that shit was going down. I mean that in both a literal and figurative sense, actually: random bits of the old roof sporadically fell over the edge, creating a veritable rain of death.

That falling debris game me a flashback to Space Quest 1, where Roger Wilco was in a cave and had to walk through an area where acid dripped from the ceiling. You made double-damn sure to save before crossing, because the acid dripped randomly and touching it (apparently with anything else but the bottom of your shoe) would mean instant death. A shingle from the third floor isn’t quite acid, but I imagine that getting hit in the head with one would have a similar effect.

I recently discovered that Amazon is selling a DVI cable for just under $8, after a $5 rebate. (Those suckers can be hella expensive—i.e. $30–50, if you try to randomly buy one.) Empowered by this knowledge, I have since purchased, received, and hooked up one of these cables between my computer and its second monitor. That led me to perform further color calibration between my two monitors, and the two are now so close I can taste it. It’s still not perfect (dragging iTunes halfway between the monitors reveals the differences most glaringly), but I no longer feel like I have one display that is significantly preferable to the other.

My tower, however, is still preferable to my laptop. I bothered to put a Haruhi desktop on the latter, but displaying the desktop is about all I trust it to do right now. Still don’t know if the disk is failing or what, though—I suspect my distrust of the machine, and therefore my tendency to avoid using it, will probably keep me from knowing for quite some time.


I am bucking past habits, and not attending the west coast swing dance being held this evening. Instead, I will be headed north to attend Andy’s so-called Communist Party.

I think everyone is agreed that he has chosen the Worst. Theme. Ever.

Speaking of bad themes, the first official ballroom dance next weekend (yeah, there’s a good bit of dancing right now) has the theme high school prom. Barry asked me if they’ll be providing the high school girls; I had no answer for him.

This cursed day

[ABSTRACT: Brent’s laptop fries itself, and then Brent is asked to spin when he cannot. And then his dog poops. *sob*]

Early this afternoon I was trying to do something productive with my Pismo (i.e. “ancient”) PowerBook on my front porch, when the computer starts acting up. First it can’t find my wireless connection; then it gripes about not having any room and asks me to force quit an application or three. I restart, figuring that should clear everything up.

The computer starts up, gets to (and pauses on) the gray Apple logo… and then immediately jumps to the blue “shutting down” screen. It stays that way until the screen goes dark (but not like normal—there’s weird color-shifting blobs of almost-black that appear, first), and the rest of the machine continues spinning at nothing.

I run DiskWarrior on the disk; the PowerBook starts up perfectly from the CD, and DiskWarrior gets to the point where it’s looking for information… and then the progress bar freezes. The hard drive makes periodic “skritch skritch thunk” noises. After a few minutes of this, DiskWarrior informs me via a parenthetical statement that its speed has been “inhibited by disk malfunction.” This means one of two things: either my disk has some bad blocks at a bad place, or else the disk is just plain FUBARed.

Hoping it was the former, I connected my PowerBook to my desktop using Firewire target disk mode (reducing the powerbook to an expensive external hard drive); the disk mounts fine, and I’m able to copy my important files off of it.

Afterwards I start formatting the drive; a few minutes into that, I remember a couple of other files that would have been nice to have. I kiss them goodbye.

I’ve since reinstalled Mac OS X on the computer, but it’s still acting flakey; I’m not sure I’ll ever trust it with data again. Grrr.

By the time I got to my dance class this evening, my brain was mush. I managed to hold together fairly well, through some miracle, until the last fifteen minutes of class: at that time, we tried a move that required the leads to spin themselves.

If this were Harold and Kumar, my line would be Spinning! My only weakness! How did you know? As it is, I just sucked. Bad. (On the positive side, I’ve now added “spinning” to my list of things to learn how to do right.)

Then Yoshi decided to go on a real walk this evening, right when I was supposed to meet Brian at the Beanery.

To quote Brian: Pain ga daisuki desu!

That blessed day

Yesterday’s dance practice was quite enjoyable. Though there were a decent number of people present, most of them weren’t the usual folk; for completely unrelated reasons, I actually danced quite a bit as well.

Danced fun west coasts with both Ae-Young and Jenny; Jenny one-upped me with an S by describing herself as doing “swell” after I had stated that I was “well.” I’ve missed Jenny and her sass; she’s been working hard lately (or so she claims), and therefore is too tired to do much in the evenings.

At some point Mike was demonstrating Latin hip movements to some random gal nearby, which quickly degenerated into his shaking his rump at her. He said he’d stop if she spanked him, and then said he’d stop if I spanked him. Neither of us took the bait; boredom eventually put the brakes on his harassment. (Lest you think ill of him for this, know that he was just being a goof—there wasn’t anything sinister about it.)

That’s how I met Adrienne. We hit it off almost immediately, which is a wholly unusual experience for me. (Those of you who know me personally know that I’m not much of a talker, and I’m even less of one when I’m not around familiar faces.) I can count on one hand (okay… maybe two) the number of people who I’ve been able to have a mutually enjoyable conversation with immediately after meeting them—so it’s extremely notable to me when I meet someone like that.

[I’ve long suspected that my general inability to have conversations with random people is due to my crappy memory; conversations tend to be back-and-forth affairs where what one person says triggers something in the other person’s memory. People will say something to me, but my brain drops the ball on associating it with something else to say—I remember things, but I don’t have many good hooks to actually recall those memories.]

So, anyway, I’ve made a new friend. She seems to be a bit of a free spirit in contrast to me—but, then again, most people are.

Catching up

Weekend before last (time flies!), soon after that round of NERF roulette that I mentioned all but in medias res, John introduced Brian and me to a distinctly different card game, Gloom. The object of the game is simple: take control of a bizarre family, and cause them as much misery as you possibly can before giving them an untimely death. (Whoever has the family that has suffered the most misery, by the time that an entire family is dead… er… wins.) The miseries and deaths you can inflict are determined by a deck of cards, and what makes the game really fun is that you have to make up a story about how the event actually went down. (Of course, there are also pleasant events that can occur—but you’ll want to save those to play on your opponents’ characters.)

I was truly blessed (even though Brian was the ultimate victor) to be given the event startled by snakes, which allowed me to make an oh-so-timely reference to motherfuckin’ snakes on a motherfuckin’ plane.

(Fear not; I’m not actually a supporter of SoaP. That said, I’m not actually against it, either—after all, it appears to be the cinema equivalent of fan service.)

Most of last week was spent doing a minimal amount of work (I continue to be humored by the fact that the only real casualty of my automation has been myself), and sleeping an inordinate amount. Terribly exciting stuff, which is why you didn’t hear about it. That, and the act of sleeping generally precludes the act of writing about sleeping.

I have picked up a few more moves in my west coast swing class, though, which has me fired up. Even better is that we’ve broached the topic of breaks in the music (albeit in the last five minutes of class); those things have been the bane of my west-coast dancing career, and I’ll be extraordinarily happy if I get to the point where I can actually follow the flow of the music instead of just the beat.

I’ve continued exercising regularly (!!!), which has unfortunately put me in the position of having watched the three seasons of Galaxy Angel that have been released domestically. (Bandai: release more!) My next round of entertainment is Dokkoida!?, a superhero parody that never really seemed to catch the eye of anime fans. That’s a shame, as pretty much the entire cast (though I could do without Hyacinth and her particular quirk) is quite entertaining. Dr. Marronflower for the win!

In a further attempt to (as Brian would say) collect my feces, I have dedicated myself to get up at 7:00 am during weekdays. (Quiet, you in the peanut gallery!) That means I should have gone to sleep, oh, fifty minutes ago. Hrm.

Suzumiya Haruhi

I’ve never really done the fansub thing, for whatever reason. That, however, hasn’t prevented me from keeping track of what others are saying about the series of the new season. Most hilarious to me has been the reaction to The Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi: after the first episode (especially for those who couldn’t make it through the entire thing), the response was something along the lines of zOMG WTF yo! WORST. SHOW. EVER.

After the second episode, people were hailing the arrival of the animessiah.

(For those of you who haven’t been keeping track of Haruhi: the first episode, although presented in widescreen, had vertical bars on the sides of the picture—effectively returning the show’s picture to standard 4:3 dimensions. It featured a theme song sung horribly off-key, and—from what I can gather—a horribly conceived plot with terrible acting and extremely shoddy special effects. In the last minutes of the episode, the show removes the black bars on the sides of the screen and reveals that the entire episode was actually a home movie filmed by Haruhi & co. The second episode unveiled the show’s actual opening and ending—the latter featuring an extraordinarily well-animated dance sequence [virtually unheard-of in anime: the end sequence is usually a series of pans over static images]—that sandwiched an extraordinarily well-animated episode. Memento can hook you up with the home video opening, as well as the actual opening and ending; watch them in that order to get the full effect.)

The whiplash that Haruhi has given the anime community has made me an instant fan—despite the fact that all I’ve seen of the show is contained in the three videos linked above, and various screencaps floating around the web. Haruhi’s video looks simultaneously horrifying and hilarious; it appeals to me in the same way that B-grade horror movies hosted by Joe Bob Briggs appealed to me back in the day. (Which is, almost undoubtedly, the same way that a car accident attracts rubberneckers.)

Self reflection

I am a bad starter. That’s all there is to it, because this trait affects everything I do: homework, personal projects, what have you. Once I get it through my head that I’m going to do something, then I’m extremely good at continuing until the task has been completely crossed off of my list of things to do—but only once I really settle down to do something.

I’ve only found one sure-fire way to beat this personality quirk, and that’s to change the context I find myself in: if I am at school, then I’m there to get whatever schoolwork is in front of me done; if I’m at work, then by $DEITY I work. I don’t believe in being paid to do nothing.

In practice, this has historically made itself manifest by my screwing around until nine or ten in the evening before a particular crisis is scheduled (homework assignment, midterm, final), and then either sequestering myself in the library or in my room (a much less successful solution, but at least I don’t have a computer at that desk) until I had hammered things out, gotten kicked out of the closing building, or had less than three hours to sleep before I had to wake up.

That pattern characterized my entire college career (though it certainly became exacerbated towards the end), and it showed me my fair share of harrowing times. Once I cracked a math problem as I was brushing my teeth in defeat; many times I walked into exams barely conscious, and survived by ouija-board-like powers guiding my hand. One time (by far the worst) I stared at an assignment for hours and couldn’t do a damn thing on it. (I survived that time by the forgiving nature of my professor.)

This singleminded pursuit thing has some serious limitations, regardless of how it generally allowed me to be successful in school. (Nick once asked me how I did so well in college. My flippant, yet entirely honest, answer, was singleminded devotion to academics. It works, but I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone else—you don’t have much of a life that way.) Even overlooking the lack of perspective, though, there’s a bigger problem with it—that has to do with the “single” that starts off “singleminded.”

I have begun exercising regularly, and trying to limit the amount of junk food that I consume. (This, incidentally, is far removed from “dieting.” I’m not drinking as much pop or eating as many snacks, not counting calories or consuming only meat or what-have-you.) I’ve been doing this consistently for the first time in my life… and I don’t have a damn thing to show for it. (sob)

Point is, that is The Task I’m working on right now. I have many other things on my to-do list, but none of them have pride of place—and so they don’t get started, or they get started half-assed and then linger. I have checks I’ve been meaning to cash for days now; I have half a collection of losslessly compressed copies of my audio CDs burned to DVD; I still want to add descriptions to my links page.

I’m not a multitasker, in the big-picture sense. (In contrast, I’m fine at switching between related tasks within the same overall project.) At best I can maintain multiple projects by establishing multiple contexts—but I only seem to really get one task per context, and there aren’t all that many contexts out there for me to set. And there’s a not-insignificant time cost in switching between contexts, especially when they’re at completely different locations.

But, on the other hand, it is quite satisfying to cross major things off the to-do list, even if it takes quite a while to do so.

Irrational exuberance

I don’t know what it is about the Prius that I like so much, but it’s pretty much the only vehicle that has half a chance of getting me on stage, dancing around, screaming I… LOVE… THIS… COMPANY CAR!!!!!111one. But I’m not a car nut (I’d be hard-pressed to identify most cars I see around town, and am actually quite happy with the Corolla I currently drive), nor am I a much of an environmentalist. (That said, I’m more than happy to make use of curbside recycling programs and the like; I’m not one to pour battery acid down storm drains, either.)

Maybe it’s the combination of nifty technology—you can’t look at the Prius’ speedometer without envisioning Back to the Future, and the car has a bloody Start button—and the idea of getting more (miles) for less (gas). Most of my driving tends to be of the “poke around town” variety, which plays to the Prius’ strengths especially well.

In reality, though, I’m just a kid staring at a shiny new bike in the department store’s window display. [I’ve been that way since the Prius was first introduced.] The gut feeling is the same: this… this was made for me. And, someday, maybe, it will be mine.

The depths of stupidity

John just introduced Brian and me to NERF Russian Roulette. Sadly, nobody died before we got bored of the game.

Hilarious way to spend two minutes, by the way.

Random fact of the day

You can dance a west coast to the opening theme to The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Surprised me, at least.


…but in a good way. My hopes for the west coast swing II class I’m taking appear to be in the process of being realized, though I confess doubt that I’ll ever be able to display my personality through dancing.

What personality?

The immediate challenge of a new dance class is that I have a roomful of people whose names I should try to remember. The twist is that most of them I’ll only see for two hours, once a week, for ten weeks. (Impossible!) While I was in college, this was a hopeless task; now that I’m out, I have a bit more space in my head (at the expense of actual knowledge) to dedicate to names and faces. I’ve learned that the only way to have half a chance is to pick two or three people to remember each class, and work double-damn hard on keeping those names in your head. Writing down names after class, and reviewing them before class, can help quite a bit as well.

Why go to the trouble? I guess it’s my way of trying to show respect for the other person—because I sure as heck don’t dress up or do anything else for ’em. People really do seem to appreciate it, too.

Progress check

WORK: I have officially worked myself out of work, barring any required physical changes to the code (and those haven’t come up too often). I’ve even constructed crude robotic automatons to take care of most of the maintenance I do. In short, I’m an idiot.

PHYSICAL: I’ve been exercising more than I’ve ever exercised before, and have combined that with a reduction in the amount of food I eat. Either I’m going to lose weight, or I’m going to die. Odds don’t look good.

MENTAL: I seem to be slowly regaining a sense of humor and overall mirth that has been MIA in the last month. I suspect this is related to the abatement of my lower back pain; I’m such a wuss that any dull, constant pain will pretty much guarantee a sour mood.

TELEVISION: Still watching 24, NCIS, and House. Enjoying them all, though only 24 has mastered the art of leaving you hanging at the end of every episode. This is almost certainly related to the fact that it’s the only show that I watch that has a strong, overarching plot.

GENERAL OBSERVATIONS: I seem to only be able to straighten out one aspect of my life at a time. Now that work is all but clean—and not one moment sooner—I’ve turned to my perpetual lack of physical activity. No clue when I’ll get to start tending to that pesky thing known as my future.

Actual grayscale printing from Canon PIXMA printers

[FYI: This is more a PSA post for people to find via Google, than my normal nonsense.]

I have a Canon Pixma iP3000 printer whose driver I set, early on, to use grayscale printing to reduce my color ink consumption. Recently the printer started complaining that the color cartridges were running low, despite the fact that I’d only been printing grayscale documents.

Turns out that Canon printers (or, at least, the PIXMA line) use color ink when printing grayscale via the “Print Grayscale” checkbox—giving you the effect of grayscale without the actual benefit of it. (Yay!) The black cartridge is only used for areas of pure black; any gray areas are created via a combination of the other color cartridges.

I discovered this today, when one color cartridge ran dry before another, and my “grayscale” pages were suddenly magenta with black highlights. This setup, however, gave me the ability to fiddle around with the driver’s settings to try and find a way to print true grayscale. As you might guess, from the existence of this post, I found it. [Disclaimer: I happen to own a Mac, so the Windows instructions are what I gathered from my manual—they might be a bit off, in other words.]

Assuming the default driver settings (most importantly, from various pokings around I did online, the media type being set to plain paper), you need to do the following in the Quality & Media area (Mac) or the Main tab (Windows) of the print dialog:

1) Check the “print grayscale” checkbox

2) Set the print mode to Detailed Setting (Mac) or Custom print quality (Windows); on Windows, click the Set button.

3) Set halftoning to Dither, not Diffusion.

Save your settings, and from now on you should only use black ink when printing grayscale—which is probably what you expected when you chose to print grayscale. (Of course, if you want to print a nice grayscale picture or something, you might get better results with other settings; I’m mostly interested in saving the color ink cartridges for when I really want to print color.)

The benefits of sloth

I didn’t have to “spring forward” my wristwatch, because I never had it fall back!


Now all I have to do is dig up a replacement strap for the one that disintegrated in the Japanese humidity. [Think leather strap that used glue.] Yeah, I’ve been going without a watch pretty much ever since I graduated—and I haven’t missed the bugger yet.

My brain is officially blown

You’ve heard of MySpace, right? (I’ve heard of it, so you must have as well; sorry, that was a stupid question.) Anyhoo, Marin was poking around on it (I assume out of boredom), and discovered that she has a whole bunch of high-school classmates who have accounts there. She’s learned quite a bit about those people.

After trying to figure out how the hell to get in (if someone ever tells you that poorly-designed sites are better because they don’t give you the sense of a slick con-job, or other such nonsense, feel free to punch them in the face for me), I discovered the same thing held true for my classmates.

I thought MySpace was a hang-out for teens? Something about a virtual commons where they could go when their parents wouldn’t let them meet in person?

I thought wrong? (And the idea that I could be wrong isn’t what’s blowing my mind, thank-you-very-much.)

Am I just old-fashioned or something? (I’da thunk that having a blog would be a pretty big strike against that….) Not once in a million years would I have thought hey, I’ll go on MySpace, create an account and try to meet people. The whole idea just seems so foreign to me.

Guess I better get with the times…

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