Saturday, February 25, 2006

Wikipedia Doesn't Know What A Roof Is

And I don't really understand it myself. But Eric does.

I've been watching MIT's Professor Lewin's Physics lecture videos. He's one of the better math instructors I've ever seen, and I'm really enjoying the videos. The funny thing is, Prof. Lewin is a really funny guy, but his students never, never laugh. Ever. So I'm glad I'm not in that class.

Anyway, MIT is offering the videos to anyone who wants them, anywhere in the world, for free. The problem is, they want you to stream the videos. In Real format. **BARF**

MIT's pages for these Physics lectures are the following three links, one for each semester:

Semester 1
Semester 2
Semester 3

Fortunately, MIT themselves provide a way for you to download the videos rather than stream them. The solution, given here, is to change the link to the video from one of Akamai's servers, to one of MIT's servers. There are about 100 video files, so harvesting the links and altering them one at a time is a pretty awful process.

So, I've done the work, and I don't see any reason that you should have to also. I'm posting the links to the direct downloads on PhischX, if you want them. Again, it's about 100 videos covering three semesters of Physics lectures, and if you download all of them, you'll need about 9.5GB of free space on your hard drive. And a really fast connection to the internet, or several days to waste waiting for downloads.

The post on PhischX will look just like this one, except below the text you've already read will be lots and lots (and lots) of links. Ok? OK!

Oh, and finally, if some time has gone by, and you can no longer find the post just by cruising over to PhischX, HERE'S THE LINK!

Monday, February 20, 2006

“Son, stocks may rise and fall, ... People are no damn good, but they will always need land and they'll pay through the nose to get it!”

In my recent posting dearth, quite a bit has happened. I don’t feel like providing a complete update, but I can hit on some of the highlights.

In late October, we moved out of our apartment, and in to my mother’s basement. This was so that we could be more diligent at saving money, which took us a while to get going with, but has been working well lately. This is a non-ideal situation, since it robs us of most of our personal space, and if we aren’t diligent, the Stupid Dog robs us of the rest. Despite a mutual fondness between all parties, this can’t last forever.

So, at the first of the year, we contacted a real estate agent in hopes of finding an purchasing a house. Our early efforts were thwarted by a seemingly disinterested agent who made, at best, minimal efforts to contact or help us. Eventually, we gave up on him and asked Jake for his aunt’s contact info. This was a good thing.

That very (Friday) night, she called up and talked to me at some length. By Tuesday, we were out seeing houses with her, and over the next two weeks, we saw about 25 houses from over a hundred listings she had sent us, and had made three offers in one week.

The first home we made an offer on ended up being more than we wanted to spend. The second one cost about $40k less, but needed a lot of work and ultimately the owners were not actually considering any of the offers that were coming in (we hope that they do ultimately respond to our offer, so we can tell them where to stick it). The third house was between the first two in price, but much closer to home (and the freeway). Even though our offer had a 12 hour deadline on it, we got a response, and accepted their counter offer. That means that we are buying a house, which we can move into on the evening of the 18th of next month.

It feels so good to finally have a house under contract, and that it’s one that we like, where we like, in good shape, only makes things better. Buying a house in a seller’s market sucks. I’m just glad to be done with the hunting part, and we’re ready to do the closing work and move.

Best of all, we’ll have five months to get settled before the baby comes.

Friday, February 17, 2006

LAN Party Update

The following are LAN party addendum:

1. We are encouraging you to bring your own comfy chair. Not a couch, not a loveseat, not a sofa, but a chair. If it's an office chair that fits through doors easily, then that's great. Bring it. We think we'll have enough tables, but we're pretty sure there will not be enough folding chairs for everyone. My butt always hurts after using a folding chair for not too long, so I'm bringing my nice chair. I strongly encourage you to do the same.

2. Leon and I will buy drinks either this weekend or on Monday. Doesn't really matter. What does matter is that you post a comment here right away if you have a strong preference. We will seriously consider all comments, but not after we've already bought the drinks.

3. Plan on playing Half-Life 1 and Motocross Madness 2 at least. We will have a machine that will run an SNES emulator for Mortal Kombat/Mario/2-Player NES games and controllers. We will have a TV and DVD player. We will have music. We will have food. But mostly, we will have a great time. Oh, yeah...there will be prizes. For what? For whatever I decide to give out prizes!...for. (Should the final "for" be there? I couldn't decide.)

4. There may be some geeky challenges to have fun with. What does that mean? I don't know yet. But brush up on your 1337 5k1llz, if you have any. Or we may just find a HL1 map that everyone likes a lot and play the heck out of it.

5. Bring CounterStrike, or BlueKnuckle, (what was it called again, Krys?) or whatever. Play. Have fun. I don't care. If you can find others who want to play too, then go ahead.

6. We are not grounded. Field trips are a definite possibility. I've done everything I can to make sure that we don't HAVE to leave if we don't want to. But Target is next door, several restaurants are close by, and Barnes and Noble has hot chocolate.

Finally, consider this an RFC RE the LAN PARTY. Comment here on movies to bring, drinks, games, prizes, geek challenges, dinner, field trips, chairs, or the lack of moral terpitude required to pull this sort of thing off. Maybe not that last one. You have your orders. OH, one last thing...CALL ME if you know someone who hasn't RSVP'd and still wants to come to the party. It's possible we can work it out.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Phischkneght New Year's LAN Party, 2006

We are go.

The annual Phischkneght New Year's LAN Party for 2006 will be on the 20th of February 2006 (obviously), and it will be at...Lady Fitness in Layton. Ok, ok, not really, but it will be in the same building that Lady Fitness in Layton is in.

I know that you're almost certainly not a lady, and almost as certainly not fit, so yes, I will direct you to said Lady Fitness.

First, let's start with this: Do you know where Target in Layton is? You do? Excellent! Aren't you such a smart LAN party participant? Yes you are. So there is a road behind Target. Directly behind, as in 'on the opposite side of the building from the front doors'. The Lady Fitness building is across that street from Target.

Or, if you're a little more Antelope-centrically thinking, Lady Fitness is behind the Fazoli's in Layton. If you pull into the Fazoli's parking lot and drive past Fazoli's, then you're at the Lady Fitness building.

You say you're a visual learner? Fine, here's a Google hybrid map of the building and immediate area. The pin on this map is between the backside of Target and Lady Fitness. If you zoom way into the map, you'll see that there is a single, lonely car in the building's south lot. THIS IS WHERE YOU SHOULD PARK, because the door you'll be entering through is on that side of the building. It's the only door on that side of the building. But please do park properly in a parking space, unlike the car in the photo.

(Sorry about the tone above. It's not for you. I respect your intellect. It's for Andrew.)

Please show up at about 1:00 PM, and plan on leaving as late as 11:00 PM. If you show up a little early, or a little late, it's no big deal.

GOOD NEWS!!! This LAN party will feature NO COVER CHARGE, and that price includes a meal, the company of some nice folks, and an internet connection for the duration of the party. Probably.

On the other hand, if you'd like to attend, you MUST BE INVITED. No exceptions. If you're not invited, we're very sorry, but you simply won't be able to make this one. If you are invited, then your name will appear below. Come to think of it, I'll have to remember to invite myself and Leon.

Guest List:

Jake Wilcox (whew, I remembered)
Leon Walker
Jeff Wilcox
Mark Wilcox
Krys Johnson
Stan Wilcox
Mike Cook
Eric Widdison
Brent Chase
Gary Walker
Andrew Walker

**This list will almost certainly change over the next couple of days. See here for updates.

Edit 1: Scott can't make it. His daughter has a birthday and he won't accept the kindness of strangers.

We are asking all attendees to please bring a power strip and a network cable. If you have a spare switch, or one that you can borrow for the duration of the party, please bring it to use. Please do not bring any routers. They cause problems. Just bring a switch if you can, or a hub if you really feel like it. But probably not the hub, too. Just a switch. And a power strip, and a network cable. And your PC, and whatever peripherals you'd like to use with it. Just that. And yourself. But you get the idea. Oh yeah, one more thing...if you want sound, bring headphones. Speakers will not be allowed, as music will be provided.

Plan on having one meal at the party. We are having Greek chicken souvlaki and gyros, and there will definitely be enough for everyone to have one meal. If there's more food after that, then that's great. If we run out of food and we want dinner, Fazoli's and other establishments are close by. And if you're not fond of Greek, you're welcome to bring something of your own.

If your name is on the list above, please RSVP for the party by creating a comment to this post. If you do not RSVP by Friday the 17th, we will assume you're not coming, and your invitation is void. Excluding Leon, Jake and Mike.

Finally, we would like to sincerely thank Comstar Internet Services for sponsoring this LAN party (They're providing the location, internet service, and food). Comstar has not asked for mentions, ads, banners, or any promotion at all in exchange for sponsoring the party. The mention, link above, and logo above are Phischkneght's way of saying thank you. We really do appreciate it.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Story Time (And a Moral)

Or Amoral?

Anyway, it's past my bedtime, but this idea is stuck in my head, and I'm afraid if I don't write it now, I'll lose it.

Besides, I'm my own boss now, so I can sleep in a little if I want to. But I won't.

So anyway, back during high school or shortly thereafter, I had Eric over at my house. Full of teenage bravado (as always), I challenged Eric to a Tetris match, and tauntingly claimed that I would kick his butt. Eric, being teenaged at the time also, appropriately disagreed, claiming that it would be, in fact, he who would do the kicking (but not see?).

Eric and I spent a minute or two offering one another the first game, and in the end I prevailed. Eric would play first, classic NES Tetris, highest score wins.

As the highest score would win, I fully expected Eric to start his play on a level other than zero. I was very surprised when he did not. If you've ever played (or heaven forbid, watched someone play) Tetris at levels 0-4 or so, you know that paint dries faster in a steamy bathroom than the blocks move at those levels.

So I settled in for a long haul, fearing that Eric would use these levels for warmup for the faster levels, and finish me off in a blaze of button pressing.

It took a while, with completed levels passing now and then, but finally, the blocks began to stack up on Eric. To my surprise, his game ended about level 7.

The pressure was really on now, because while I knew that I could play well beyond the level 7 it took to win our little competition, one bad game would make me look really stupid (not that it mattered, remember? I'm a teenager here).

As we were judging by points, I made sure to start on level 9. As I always did. Level 9 was my default pace, and unless things went badly, I generally scored up to what it would take to attain level 9 when starting from level 0, or better.

And then I played, and played, and played. Things got tight a couple of times, but I really knew I was doing well when level 9 passed and the game graduated me to 10. And then 11. And then 12. I think my game ended on 14. It was not unheard of for me, but still an outstanding game. I bested Eric's score by well over ten times.

And I felt awful. I couldn't believe my incredible luck at having such a great round, when Eric had probably done so-so compared to his usual. Of course, Eric was a terrific sport, and that just made me feel worse.

And so. Must I contrive a moral here?

Eric never again accepted a Tetris challenge from me, and I did ask more than once. On the other hand, Eric and I have remained friends since, and in spite of the event.

So I guess if there has to be a moral, it's that if you get the chance to really shine, don't hold back. A friendship worth maintaining will weather it, and give both parties the chance to enjoy the other's talents.

For instance, I'll never (in this life) be as good at math as Eric is. I just won't. He knows what two plus seventeen minus the hypotenuse of the number of dimples on a golf ball divided by Fermat's last calculated digit of pi to the logarithm of the angular velocity of a European sparrow measured in parsecs is, and I just don't.

And I don't mind that he knows and I never will.

Because I'll still kick his ass at Tetris.