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filling the void

Saturday, December 29, 2007


I just watched the end of the tv show Californication. For those of you who don't know, it's a comedy starring David Duchovny, among others. It's an absolutely brilliant piece of small screen entertainment. It's got witty dialog, lots of great tits and nudity (more so in the beginning than the end), and a wonderful story.
There have been 12 episodes recorded and released so far, and I recommend that you watch them, because they are wonderful.
There is, however, a problem.
The first season had 12 episodes. Each of which was roughly a half hour. This makes a mini-series in 6 pieces, should one be so inclined. This is only of of the problems, and I'll get to why in a bit.
The second problem is that it seems to have been written like a movie. This first season has all the stages of a good movie clearly defined, but with some extra padding added on to make it into a tv show. Now, it would have made a terrible 2 hour love comedy, but as a 6 hour tv show it's great. It needs those extra hours to really put the content in there.

We have two problems, which might not seem like problems by themselves, but when taken together it spells death for the show. The fact that it was so short, and that it had a proper movie-style ending, indicates to me that, while new shows generally have a short first season for various reasons, they normally don't have such a definitive first season close as californication did. I won't disclose the ending, for those of you who haven't seen it, but I doubt that the second season will ever reach production. According to wikipedia, the shooting is scheduled to start in April of 2008. While this is only 5 months away, it takes place in southern california, and shooting could have begun much quicker if the producers and the publishers actually thought there was something worth putting more money and effort into. The fact that it had a proper ending, and that shooting for the next season is pushed so relatively far back, makes me believe that there won't be a second season.
It also makes sense because it's hard to see where the show would progress from here. It would be easy to just make it a static show about Hank Moody and the trials and tribulations of his life, but that just doesn't fit in with how the first season played out.

I really honestly hope that they can swing several more seasons, and with the same kind of writing that the first season had, but I just don't see it.
Kudos on an extremely well made first season, but I just don't think the storyline has any more tread left on it, I'm sorry...

I'd be able to further elaborate on this, but not without spoiling much of the ending. A little hint is that you are going to love the ending.

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So ends an era

I have the gravest news. AOL announcer earlier that they are discontinuing the Netscape browser.
This is sad for many reasons. One reason is that the browser poised to take the crown from Netscape, the spin-off Firefox truely and utterly sucks (at least in its current 2.0 state). The primary reason that this is sad, however, is that it ends an internet era for me. I have been using Netscape since 1994, version 1.0 (with the throbbing N, you might have seen it in the first Mission Impossible movie). I remember sitting on some crappy modem and using, which was at the time, virtually the only browser around.
Recently (since 2004) I've been using version 7.2 of Netscape's browser. The last version to truely be the Netscape that some of us know and love. Netscape 8 was a joke, and Netscape 9 is basically firefox with a theme.
I tried using Opera, but slow startup times and no added value keeps leading me back to my beloved Netscape 7.2. I believe that I will keep on using Netscape 7.2 for as long as it will run. I realize that HTML5 is in the works, but I think it's a bad idea. XHTML is the way of the future.

If Netscape stops working due to funky web design, I really have no clue where I will turn. Hopefully, by then, there will be something around that is actually usable.

For those of you who are interested, my User-Agent string is: Mozilla/5.0 (Windows; U; Windows NT 5.1; en-US; rv:1.7.2) Gecko/20040804 Netscape/7.2 (ax)

Edited to add: apparently I was wrong on the year. This article points out that netscape was founded in 1994, not 1993. I wonder what I was using before that then...

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Monday, December 17, 2007


I ran in to this quote today by Albert Einsten:

The only thing that interferes with my learning is my education.

Albert Einstein
It ties in really well with something I wrote down in one of my books as I was studying it last week:
The smarter I become
The dumber I feel
There's nothing better for letting you know how infinitely little you know about everything than learning about other things. The more you learn about one thing, the more you realize that there is so much more information out there about which you don't have a fucking clue.

Now, the reason why I think these two quotes tie in well together (which might not have otherwise been obvious), is that going to grad school really makes your knowledge seem insignificant, because you are exposed to so much other knowledge that you know you can't possibly learn it all. What grad school also does is expose you to a lot of useless knowledge, which in turn keeps you from learning about things that you are really interested in.

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Saturday, December 15, 2007

The Dangers of Open Source Software

It is as sinister as the title suggests, but not in the direction you would think. I came across this today. It's a blog post from the guy who writes Paint.NET.
Just like all of the software I write, it is Open Source. For those of you know don't know what this means, it means that you give away the source code that makes up the software for free for everyone to see. The advantages of this are many. It fosters an atmosphere of honesty, since you can't sneak nasty stuff into your software if anybody can look at what you did. It also helps other developers learn new things, by looking at how you solved a particular problem.
There are many open source projects out there. Linux is one, Apache is another, and the different BSD distributions are open source as well.
Now, the disadvantage, as Rick Brewster points out, is that people can just take your code and do whatever they want with it. In his case, this means that someone basically just stole all his code, and some code from contributers to Paint.NET and rebranded it as their own. Taking code isn't a problem, but stealing the whole application and removing the credits, copyright and license (which is illegal in almost all countries I know), is just plain wrong.
Rick could sue the person, but I doubt it would do any good. The FSF could take on the case and rally some publicity for it, but the only thing that might come of that is that this particular instance of code stealing gets punished.
The problem, of course, is that there is no way to prevent people from doing this, short of taking them all to court, which just isn't practical. The open source business model will always suffer from this. People are basically immoral and will do anything to help themselves. If this is at the expense of others, so be it.
We can hope that the world will become a better place all we want, but that won't make it so.
When I see my code reused, I'm just happy someone liked what I did, but then I don't write the kind of software that Rick does.

Rick's software might be big enough to reach a critical mass of complaint where someone will do something about it, but most people who write open source software will not have that luxury. If people would do this to Linux, heads would (and do) roll, since it's such a big thing, but most open source authors will just have to bend over and take it up the ass when things like this happens. Our only hope is that the thieves step far enough over the line so that they commit a punishable offense.


Thursday, December 06, 2007


I know why people get married.
I figured it out in the shower today.
It's vendor lock in. Think about it. It's another hurdle that you must overcome to switch providers.
Marriage provides everything a normal relationship does, except that it is harder to switch out of. If you're on a normal relationship and you find some reason to leave, you can just break up.
If you are married, however, breaking up becomes a process.

In a relationship, there's generally one person who has more to loose from breaking up than the other. This could be because of many things. For instance, he or she has a harder time getting dates. They might be affraid of being alone. They can't cook. The list can be long.
We will call this person the weaker person. In the pecking order of the real world, this person would be eaten first of the two, if we followed the laws of the animal kingdom.
Because this person has the most to loose, this person will probably be the one who proposes. The roles might change over time, but I believe that the person who wants it to end the least does the most he or she can to get it to last. One convenient thing to make it last longer, that the parents will like too, is to get married.

I think that couples who survive without marriage, without kids, and quite possibly without anything else material holding them together, are the strongest couples. If they don't need ways of tying the other person down into the relationship, they have a pretty good relationship to start with.

If you have different values, I challenge you to prove me wrong!

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