231 Erwin Road

My experiences as a Northern transplant down in Chapel Hill, NC, 2005. And now my experiences back up in NYC.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

The Blog'Factor

I'm sitting here watching the O'Reilly Factor. O'Reilly is talking about some court ruling that allows minors to get an abortion without parental consent. I have a feeling I'm not hearing the whole story, but there is no way to tell that watching a medium that communicates in only 1 direction. I don't care about the particular issue, my rant is about the current medium.

Many times I've heard the argument that blogs and especially 'political blogs' will fall apart at the seems because it's a bunch of unqualified people voicing their opinion.

I don't think this is true for two reasons. 1, When you have a large enough community commenting and editorializing, you create checks and balances that a medium such as TV cannot facilitate. 2, I don't think the guests on some cable news shows are of qualified voices either.

I used to think that when a guest was an author, that gave them some qualification, I now think it is the other way around. I think a lot of these guess come on the show to promote their book, their book is not a credential. These guests fulfill the desired stance the host is looking for (that position could agree or disagree with the host.) However, the information is presented in a very one-sided manner and it is difficult for a viewer to here valid counter arguments.

Yes, I could search the web and try to find more information on the subject (in this case, the above mentioned abortion issue.) But that is too much work. Let's assume I could watch TV on my laptop and people could comment in realtime in some sort of chat window. It may be hard to filter all of the comments, but there could be tuning bars that would filter certain: arguments, positions, credentials, people's comments that I've read before, ....

A system like that would allow me to form an educated opinion. Yes, there would be a lot of garbage, but there would be a lot of good material as well. It would be an open forum. It would help level any political bias.

Lessig makes a good point about political blogs. He stated that although blogs allow any nutjob to voice their own opinion, the fact that the posting is open to public comment would allow carefree or immature arguments to be proven incorrect. It is one thing to spit out ignorant ideas and never hear a backlash, but to have somebody repeatedly breakdown and invalidate your argument is a learning experience. You cannot continue to blurt out ignorant thoughts if the argument is thoughtfully broken apart.

There's more to this, anybody care to discuss?

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Robots Review

I watched Robots on IMAX in Raleigh tonight. It was a good movie, I had a number of laugh-out-loud laughs.

I recommend it, my friend Raphe worked on the movie, here is what he had to say of his work:

I'm one of eight or so folks who painted everything in the movie. Without my department, everything in the movie -- the characters, the buildings, the sky -- everything -- would be the same blue lifeless plastic. If that answer doesn't satisfy you, get ready to be confused:

YOU: So you use paint?
ME: Well, not really. Sometimes I draw on a small tablet that's hooked up to the computer. The computer simulates what real paint would look
like. i.e., I paint directly into the computer. But most of the time, I don't paint, I use math.
YOU: Oh great, math. Math sucks. I hate math.
ME. Yeah, me too. But this is math is dope. And visual. Here's a description of how you'd add color to an object. Let's say you're working on a little robot dog. Imagine he's made of hard blue plastic. He's wagging his tail. He really wants to be a colorful, rusty dog -- or at least that's what the art director wants. Here's how you'd go
about adding the color:

(Remember, everything is done by changing numbers and making little math equations):

Imagine TV static.

Imagine the static freezes.

Imagine you can control the static. You can:
a. Zoom in on it.
b. Blur it, or sharpen it.
c. Make the black areas overwhelm the white areas -- or vice versa (tiny black spots, or large black chunks).
d. Reduce the contrast.
e. Stick your fingers in it and swirl it around.
f. Change the color (maybe we'll make it rust-red and rust-orange colored).

Now imagine taking that TV static -- once you like what it looks like -- rolling it up into a ball -- like a snowball -- and throwing it at the plastic dog where it splatters. Hey, it looks like a rust spot! Cool, good job! Keep going.

Imagine a bathtub full of TV static (you've made the static dark brown this time -- and you've zoomed way out so it looks like very finely grained dirt). Now dunk the doggie's feet into. Cool! Now he's got some rusty looking dirt on his feet. Keep going!

Imagine turning on a shower and TV static pours out -- like rain onto the doggie. Wow, he's starting to look really weathered!

Imagine being able to stuff static into all the creases of the doggie -- like his armpits, joints, and between his toes. Nice! That's where dirt would normally gather! He's starting to look real!

Finally, imagine that you're not just creating the color patterns on the doggie. You also have to "paint" on the reflectivity pattern. With the same TV static tools, you determine where the dog will be more or less reflective. And that's not all. You've got to create patterns for the highlight color, the transparency, the roughness etc... Starting to sound like a lot of work? Here's a generous week to finish the doggie. Go!

That's a simplified idea of what my department does. We can also trick light (virtual light) into thinking there are dents or chips on the doggie -- or that he's warped. We can even use that TV static to cut holes in parts of the rusty doggie, or give him big rusty warts.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Red Hat

Forewarned, this is a geek posting.

So Martin invited me to another monthly redhat seminar. This one turned out to be interesting, Michael Tiemann, VP Open Source Affairs gave an excellent talk.

While we did get a wealth of free pizza and drinks (I had 3 Yoo-hoo's) the best part was sitting down with Michael Tiemann, the CTO. First, the fact that the CTO of a large company was so relaxed and willing to sit down and share some pizza with a bunch of kids was impressive. Second, I can see that he is somebody passionate about Open Source and it was good to hear somebody in the industry. I'm still having trouble about how they justify their licensed model of Open Source Software (OSS) but I understand my views might be too out there (I'm not sure if that's left or right field though.)

I can't wait for the Free Software Foundation annual meeting this Saturday. On a side note, I thought I finished Lessig's Free Culture the other week, but it turns out there were 4 more chapters that I somehow missed, so I'm back to that.

I just finished up Robert KiyosakiÂ’s Rich Dad Poor Dad and I'm not sure what I think about it. Overall, I would say I'm disappointed. It started out slow and 'fluffy.' It also had a pretty depressing view of money and so called richness but I decided to give it a listen because I've heard many people talk about it. I'm not sure who the intended audience is for, but I would not recommend the book.

Tunes: Cupid's Trick - Elliot Smith [E.S. just feels good to listen to]

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Pros and Cons of Working Outside

Bird shiting on my laptop.

Saturday, March 19, 2005


Saturday was another typical day at the office firing guns at my coworkers. However, they were only loaded with paint this time.

I went with Brandon and Martin. We made a stop a Walmart first to gear up. The 3 of us got some kick ass milatary shirts with the all so clever slogan, "Can you see me now?" embroidered across them. (Okay, so maybe it wasn't embroidered, just painted on, this is Walmart.) Additionally, Brandon and I purchased some sexy, tight around everything, black jeans (on sale.)

Our drive out to the middle of Durham was fun, we took in a lot of sights. What we saw:
  • A mailbox hoisted on top of a giant hoe (not what you're thinking)
  • An inhabited apartment building with an entire section missing from what appeared to have been a fire
  • A pawn shop with 6' tall letters that read: (and take this for what you want)

  • A church sign that read "Pray until something happens"
  • And finally, another dirt road which I tore up Duke's of Hazard Style
We played a few sloppy courses at TrianglePaintball which is NOWHERE as cool as this place. Most of our games were to fight until the last man was standing. Capture the Flag (CTF) was a lot more bloody and a lot more fun. For our first attempt, our team had the bright idea of making a wall of people and running at the flag, hell, they couldn't shoot us all, right? I ran towards the flag with my gun in one hand and my balls in the other (sorry, not all of us brought cups like Martin.) Needless to say, that strategy didn't work out well for us. It was a massacre, we got lit up. We had a little hitch though, we were running up hill, they were running down hill and there was a giant wooden spool between the two teams. When both teams arrived at the spool, some fat ass on their team ran into it and knocked it down on to me and a few other people. One kid was a little bitch and wouldn't stop screaming, I would have unloaded on him myself if the other team didn't.

After a long day of running, dodging, shooting, and being pelted, we headed back though Durham for some authentic south of the border cuisine, a little Latino place that I noticed on the way in. I guess I had margarita's pictured in my mind, but they only had cerveza. The food was decent and our waitress didn't speak any English. Good thing Fran'cisco' was their to help (although the Texan seemed to have the Spanish tounge going for him too.) I had bbq barbacoa, that be some good shit.

Happy TJ Day

So 'everybody' got surprised today at the lab. Chris had this awesome idea to throw a random surprise party for a random person in the lab, this way, it would be the truest form of a surprise party. (A surprise party for somebody's birthday isn't that big of a surprise.) So we picked TJ. Chris ordered a few pizza pies and had the letters T and J spelt in pepperoni across 2 pies, kick ass.

Brandon and I grabbed some party favors at Target, including a Surprise Day card, blue streamers, Spongebob party hats, and noise makers.

If that wasn't surprising enough, the staff was throwing a surprise pizza party for the lab. So in addition to confusing the heck out of TJ, we also surprised the staff, and they surprised us with a boat load of pizza. I've been eating pizza all day, in every range of temperture. One type of pizza I tried out was pineapple and hotpeppers. I liked it, don't knock it till you try it.

Since my brain is still floating on green beer and Guinness, I spent the night in. Taylor joined me and we watched Clear and Present Danger, not a bad movie, I would rate it a 3.5 on a 5 pt scale. I'm not too into dramas and it wasn't thrilling enough for me to be cool.

Tunes on now: Naked by Suicidal Tendencies (good song)

Kiss me, I'm Irish

24 hours after our St. Patty's day celebration I can finally get some coherent thoughts together. My contribution to society today was slim to say the most.

I picked up the 1/4 keg of Bud at "Total Wine." They should call this place "Totally Awesome ABC Store." They actually have a walk in keg area. You walk through a doorway draped with plastic and enter what some would call a little slice of Heaven. There are kegs in all sizes, shapes, and flavors. So many to choose from but not enough to distract me from the cheapest choice, $43.99 Bud. Headed to Kroger's for some green food coloring, corned beef, and cabbage. (I also bought a mylar Sponge Bob balloon but I popped him pulling it out of the trunk, bummer.)

Started off the holiday with a round of Car Bombs. I'm not even gonna attempt to try to remember all the details of what happened, but I do believe a mule showed up to the party at one point. These are things that I remember, have been told, or should be noted about last night:
  • I played a few rounds of Beirut with Jeff and we kicked ass at first until we got too drunk
    • At one point I actually sunk while talking on my cell phone, that felt pretty cool.
  • I made ~7lbs of corned beef.
  • I drank a lot of alcohol
  • We kicked the 1/4 keg, I helped with a 20 sec keg stand
  • You only need a 'drop' of green dye in a beer
  • Trying to dye Guinness green will only turn your teeth a horribly bright shade of green
  • Having basketball playing on multiple laptops is damn cool
  • I appear to have confused a placemat for a napkin, sorry Rane
  • Most movie theaters have less stickier floors then our kitchen
  • I woke up with my shoes on and tied
    • My hat was on the pillow too
  • I had a moustache drawn on my face, but I grew to like it, it made me look older (picture to come soon)
  • Ms. Kentucky drove her jeep into a ditch leaving the house. She gets the Ms. Rockstar award for the night. Triple A had to come and tow her out. From what I hear, Patrick and Drew had a grand 'ol time watching this from our porch. i'm so sorry to have missed this site. One of her rear tires was just spinning in mid-air. (again, picture to come soon)
So that was St. Patty's Day 2005 at 231 Erwin Rd. I think everybody had a great time, we had a good turnout, maybe around 20-30 ppl?

However, @ Extreme Blue this morning, the Exp Web Dev team had a 9am meeting. Thankfully Brandon was coherent enough to host it, I just sat back and smiled.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Glow Brick

Somebody want to buy this for me?
RE:Generate: Blow Brick

Thursday, March 17, 2005

The New York Times > New York Region > No Need to Stew: A Few Tips to Cope With Life's Annoyances

Happy St. Patty's Day

Three Irishmen, Paddy, Sean and Seamus, are stumbling home from the pub late one night and find themselves on the road that leads past the old graveyard.
"Come have a look over here," says Paddy, "It's Michael O'Grady's grave, God bless his soul. He lived to the ripe old age of 87."
"That's nothing," says Sean, "here's one named Patrick O'Toole... it says here that he was 95 when he died."
Just then, Seamus yells out, "Good God, here's a fella that got to be 145!"
"My God, what was his name?" asks Paddy.
Seamus lights a match to look at the marker more closely,"Miles, from Dublin," he says.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005


I just noticed that the Gmail spell checker recognizes Guinness, I spelt it with a lowercase 'g' and it suggested I change it to uppercase.

Bang up job Gmail.

Thoughts from Blogging meetup

Here are some thoughts we discussed at the meetup (from what I can remember)
  1. Have a website showing the geographic based blogger distribution - so that you could see which cities are the most active.
    1. You could also filter topics over the geography to see which interests are the most popular in a given area.
      1. This has a number of benefits: people deciding where to live, work, or go to school. Politicians trying to see which topics are popular among their governed geography.
  2. Add a rating system to blogging posts. This has many advantages.
    1. If you were reading multiple blogs, it would allow you to filter for 'better quality' posts.
    2. If you have a very well developed blog, when a new person comes to visit, they typically only read your most recent posts. However, those may not be an accurate representation of your blog, or they may just be 'crappy' posts. A rating system would allow a new reader to read your Top 5 posts.
    3. You could build semantic data around this rating system. Just because Vinnie rates a post a 5 (5 pt scale) doesn't mean Brian would find it interesting. However, if Brian could filter for ratings from individuals that are similar to him (from other posts) you would get a better moderation system.
      1. For instance, if Vinnie is into new cell phones, then he would prob rate a lot of posts talking about new cell phones highly. If Doug rates those posts highly as well, then Vinnie's moderation system will weigh Doug's ratings stronger then other individuals.
  3. Google maps should allow you to search by doing a freeform drawing over Google Maps. In a place like nyc, it would be very beneficial to search in something like a 4 block radius. Another thought on that is if you were to drive from one location to another, you may want to draw a 'rectangular tunnel' between the two areas to find all the beer stores on the way. (Or GMaps could be smart enough to realize that when you chart your route.)
  4. RSS and ATOM feeds are not intuitive at all. In a web world we left click on a link or a button and are brought to a new page, or have a new application open up, why must we fiddle with RSS and ATOM feeds? It is completely unintuitive to have to right click on a RSS link, copy the link to the clipboard, and paste it into your reader. You should click it like a normal page and if you have a rich client, then the reader pops up, if you have a web based client, they should make a trigger that loads a new tab with the option to add the new feed. (Yes this is very basic, but we think it hinders a lot of layman from using newreaders, it's just not 'natural.')
Josh did a great job of writing up our meetup.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Sir, you can't use that laptop here

So a really funny thing just happened to me. I am at Cafe Cyclo in Raleigh, just finished up the Raleigh/Cary Bloggers Meetup.

So after the meetup I step up to the bar to grab some food. I break out my laptop while waiting and the bartender comes over to me and says I can't use it there. I thought that was really funny. He said because of insurance reasons, which is a reasonable point, it is a bar, beer gets spilt, you don't want people using their laptops on it. Sorta dumb on my part, but quite funny that I was politely asked not to 'use my laptop here.'

This was my first meetup, I've accidentally stumbled into a Howard Dean one a while back and I've tried to set up FSF meetups in nyc, but nobody opted in.

Other bloggers at the meetup:

Two Simpson's references

So I'm sitting in lab and over the course of a few conversations we made a few Simpson's references and it turns out that we actually made two separate Simpson's references referring to the same episode. That's never happened to me before. Damn we're crazy here at the lab.

Ahh, 1am and I'm on IM

So I actually got a bunch of work done this evening. Now it's 1am and I'm preaching to Josh J. how cool Bloglines is. I can't forget to mention YouSendIt either.

I'm loving my RSS feeds, check out my blogroll (look on the left side.)

I currently have around 5 blogs going on consecutively. I need to condense all of these, if anybody has any thoughts on the best way to do that, please let me know.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Treo 650 Flickr Gmail Wordress

So awesome, this is just what I sent up.

tunes: 'La Grange' - ZZ Top

Sunny Day

I'm sitting hear on the porch of 231 Erwin Ave. enjoying the much needed sun that I never get because I couped up in a windowless box all day long. Okay, maybe it does has windows, but they DON'T goto the outside! What's up with that.

It's around 60' and feels great. We even have external AC power so I'm good to go for hours.


Saturday, March 12, 2005

I think I have an addition

I'm getting wayyyy to into blogging these days. I can't stop getting enough information. If anybody is looking for an RSS aggregator, I suggest Bloglines. It allows you to point to the little orange RSS buttons you see on all these blogs. From there it conveniently highlights which blogs have new entries.

I can't forget to mention my inquiry into Photo software. I installed Picasa2 (powered by google btw) this week on both laptops to create an awesome portfolio of all my pictures. Played around with Flickr to get started on moving these pictures to the web. I can't wait until I get back to nyc so I can set up my own server of blogs/photos/... It will be a portal of my life.

So I've been so busy reading blogs this week I haven't had much time to post my own. Additionally I've been wrapped up in finishing Lawernce Lessig's "Free Culture." I listened to it in audio format and now I'm turned onto Audio Books. It is such a convent way to 'read' wile being distracted by something else, such as driving. The book discuss' copyrights and patents and tries to step away from what is legal/illegal and points out how the terms were intended to be used and how they actually restrict creativity and progress. His book is freely available. And I mean free in all sense of the word. Free as in beer and free as in speech. If you want a copy in mp3 form, drop me an email or check out bittorrent - it's legal. Lessig is a bit of a hero for me, especially for his work in the EFF and his creation of Creative Commons.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Get me a free iPod and you get a free drink

I know everybody knows about freeiPods.com but now I know of somebody who actually got an iPod. I just signed up for a blockbuster registration with a friend then canceled the next day. The blockbuster offer still clicked for him though.

So I need 5 of you to sign up for blockbuster, then cancel it after getting confirmation (1-2days, I'll even remind you.) You have 14 days to cancel for a full refund if you don't use the offer. It's only $10 on your credit card. I'll even indemnify you for that $10. If you sign up, I'll buy you a free drink of your choice (two if I have to), nothing along the lines of Johnny Blue Label though.

So click below, then click "no" a bunch of times on the survey information, then sign up for the blockbuster account.


Baba Booey

So I was able to tune into a live feed of Howard this morning via something called the internet. If you're interested in the how-to, drop me a note.

Monday, March 07, 2005

David Sedaris @ NCSU Ticket(s)

If anybody knows where I could get tickets for the David Sedaris (& Sara Vowell) @ NCSU on April 7th I would greatly appreciate it (they are sold out.) Willing to trade cash, booze, or dirty looks for them. Thanks!

Sunday, March 06, 2005

If you come to my church, prepared to get drunk.

Where to start? I'll just break it out play by play.

We started Saturday night with Dinner at Five Guys (@ Southpoint of all places.) And looking back now, it makes the top 5 list of best burger joints; In-N-Out burger, watch out. Five Guys serves a double patty burger with any fixin's you could want on two slabs of beef. Ohh, so tasty. They need a emoticon with a little drool coming down the side of it's face.

Next stop, the catholic church. Not my first choice of quiet places to be for an hour after eating a half pound of beef smothered in cheese and bacon. As I said to Patrick, "I don't think I have enough room for the Eucharist." To which he promptly replied, "You accept Jesus into your body."

After church, Patrick dropped me off at Whole Foods to pick up some supplies for Mojito's (minus the mint.) He had to drop Danielle off, so I pounded a Brooklyn while waiting for him in the parking lot.

So it was D's birthday and we started the night early at her house chopping limes and making mojitio's (minus the mint.) We got rocked. Danielle has the economist in here bathroom as reading material, I thought that was awesome, Patrick knows all the classy broad's.

Somehow we made it out of her house and made it to Siren's. This was an interesting place to say the least. From what I can tell, Siren's consists of a lot of incredibly horny underclassman humping the shit out of each other on the dance floor, I'll hope to be back soon. Although I didn't do any dancing cause I can't dance.

We bounced from Siren's and met up with the Theology grad majors. These kid's rock. One is named Brett the other I just know as "Tenenbaum" (he looks like Richie as a tennis player, hair band and all.) I never would have thought theology majors would be such partiers. I'm not even being sarcastic. These guys know how to drink and there going be ministers next year. This is irony directly out of some movie. I hope to party with the theology kids again, I wonder if they were Hawaiian shirts to class.

We ended the night at the original Cosmic Cantina. A long wait but well worth it for a tasty burrito to close out the night. Ohh, so much good food down here. I will have to head to the one in nyc when I get back.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

First Friday

Checked out a bit of First Friday in Raleigh. Went to Teamlump then down to Franklin St. I got to experience Hell. Which is a nice little spot in the basement of free standing building. Hell offers more than the name would imply, it has couches, a jukebox, pool tables, a simpsons arcade game, simpons pinball, and airhockey (with beer soaked holes.) A fun joint indeed, I'll be sure to goto hell many more times before I leave.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

The Aviator

Extreme Blue arranged for all of us to see the aviator. I missed the first hour because I was on a conference call with SN. The movie was great though, a lot better then I thought. Although I don't understand why we needed to see so much naked DeCaprio ass, I thought gratuitous male nudity left with the 90's.

**** (out of 5 stars)

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

The Adventure(s)

It was Taylor's bday last night and I arranged for us to head to Adventure Landing. Think chucky cheese meets an outdoor playpark. This place was off the hook. They have go-carts, mini golf, laser tag, batting cages, and a boat load of video games.

Go-carts were by far the most fun I've had in a long time. I finally got to drive like I've always wanted and not scare the passengers in my car. When making sharp turns, I would slam on the breaks to skid out and make hairpin turns - thanks to all the practice on my recently acquired RC Car.

The first half of the night was spent winning tickets (which we used to win a most awesome nerf ball by the way.) I played DDR (Dance Dance Revolution) for the first time, it was a lot of fun, it was a work out. I really have no rhythm and that was very apparent. I wonder if I had this as a kid if I would be a good dancer now? Another game that sticks out in my mind was a boxing game where you put on 'gloves' and box a TV opponent. Sensors read your body movements (for dodging) and your hand positions by the gloves. I can't believe how much of a workout this was (and how fun.) I was actually sweating after playing the game for 5-10min. First, this made me realize I'm grossly out of shape and should start some sort of regular exercise program. Second, I see isles and isles of units like these in gyms. Imagine the workout program!!! A whole gym with different virtual reality units to get your cardio exercise. A game such as boxing will even get you toned. I'm sure we could figure out a video game to incorporate weight lifting as well. I have seen the future of exercise and it is virtual. Now I see why Crunch Gym offers so many wacky classes, it makes working out fun.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

I'm a geek and I love it

My desk at the EB lab. 2 laptops, 3 screens, 1 mouse, 1 keyboard. Video coming soon.

Shout out to Josh J for win2vnc.