June 26, 2007

Get a life!

So, yesterday evening I was sitting around after work, extremely bored as usual. I've been juggling several ideas for things to do in my off time. My schedule, in a time sense, is work roughly 6 hours, sleep 6-8 hours, and then roughly 10-12 hours of free time. Last night, because I was so bored, I went bed at 7. Yes, 7 p.m. I woke up around 2 a.m., put on my pajamas, turned on a fan, and fell right back to sleep to wake up at 6 am. I wake up this early in order to go running but did I this morning? No.

Mon-Wednesday I get a 3 hour break between shifts and I used to go to the gym. However, I feel like a tool going to the gym by myself and not being able to lift a lot. I enjoy going to the pool with my friend to learn to swim, but she's busy most of the time. I would spend more time at movies or something but I'm trying to conserve money for a ticket out of here for a week.

So, July comes up in a few days and if I put all of my willpower into it, I can truly do something different all month. But, let's be realistic here. Using the same time tables as before regarding work schedule and sleep then nixing ideas like "get another job" (no one wants to hire for just a month) let's look at what I've got.

Sleep-6 Hours
Work-6 Hours
Free Time - 12 Hours
If I were to go to the gym for an hour a day(alternate exercises so I don't die), swim an hour a day, read for an hour a day (I can only take so much reading at a time), study both spanish and japanese for an hour a day, and then watch an hour's worth of TV what am I looking at? 6 more hours of time to waste! And I can't take sitting on the computer all day and let's be honest, I doubt I'm going to study my spanish and japanese each for an hour... It's summer. Who wants to do that? Please, give me suggestions for things to take up time that cost no money.

A Rant, in One Act

I'll try and keep this short and to the point. No better way to be concise than programming language.

Assuming immorality AND illegality as the basis for comparison.

blowjob < murder;
blowjob < torture;

if (president == Clinton)
offense = blowjob;

if (president == Cheney)
offense = murder + torture + lying + rapeOfConstitution;

if (offense >= moralLimit)
president = impeached;


Clinton == impeached returns 1
Cheney == impeached returns 0?!?!?!

Would someone please debug this for me, cause I sure as hell can't figure it out.

/* Brought on by Bush and Cheney claiming not to be part of the executive branch. There's only so much one can take */

June 24, 2007

An Introduction

Hello readers. I'd like to write a quick introduction about myself. I am 19, I have a lot of interests but no drive to pursue any of them. From that stems my complete lack of talent in all areas of life. I have an extremely wild imagination but have no outlet through which to express it other than through superfluous words. I enjoy reading and writing and will someday enjoy a Playstation 3 assuming I get 600 or so dollars to purchase one. I am an ROTC cadet and hope to be a Foreign Area Officer in the Air Force. Ideally, I will speak Russian, Chinese, Japanese, and Korean fluently within the next few years. That's about it.

Well, shows me what I get for not checking in.

Well friends, it seems the little blog has been turned upside down. I haven't spoken to Tweak about this yet, but what the hey, I'm up for whatever his mind wants to write down. I guess an update is in order, I am Emperor Ryan, and as the obvious may point out, I have not posted here in some time. Well friends, that is because of sheer laziness. Sorry 'bout that. I guess I could do this thing more often, so here it goes, a summer to telling people about my life, and what runs through my head.

I guess to catch up, I have been working at a summer camp job for the summer, and freelancing artwork and commissions for those who want them. I am currently doing a job for a designer in New York, working on commission. That and designing webpages here and there, though that not as much. Currently, my girlfriend, is in France and I miss her a lot, so the artwork has been helping me get past that. Life has been pretty simple, and I hope it continues that way until I get back to school. Either way, I'll start finding little things here and there to report on, until then, I'm going to sleep.

Movie Studios, Why Must You Make Me Spite You So

NOTE: Original Posting on May 4, 2006.

So, I'm in love with my MacBook Pro. Even more so with Boot Camp, because now I have a small partition for gaming and other such Windows-only activities. One of these activites that excited me recently was the realization that I can finally look at DVD-ROM content available only to Window's users (my previous PC didn't have a DVD-ROM drive). So, after today's purchase of Mission Impossible and Mission Impossible 2 I decided to try and get into some of the DVD-ROM content on the later.

So, I pop in my shiney new M:i:II disc, and guessy what I get. A program installation notice to the effect of "In order to get the goodies, you have to install the program we want you to install." It's a very nice sounding program called PCFriendly. I do a quick Google search and get about a thousand hits title "PCFriendly Enables DVD Backchannels." For those of you who don't know what this means (as I was previously unaware), it boils down the the program opening up back doors into your computer so it can send out all of your personal information and computer use habits without being caught by spyware, firewalls, and most other security devices.

I filled out some bogus information and was going to try and go ahead and look at the content and see what the program might have had to offer, but there was some error and the DVD wouldn't play. So, looks like Ethan Hunt is going to have to be viewed sans DVD-ROM features for the rest of eternity.

But, I have quite a DVD collection if I do say so myself, and so I grabbed another I knew had "interactive content." American Pie got to be attempt #2. Yet again I have to install their software. But it's something different: InterActual Player. Hmm, that sounds familiar. Oh wait, I remember why. It's because the liscense agreement for PCFriendly said it was related to InterActual Player. So now the movie studios are trying to two seperate programs, both of which have the save DVD-playing cover, to moniter my activity and sell it to the highest bidder. InterActual Player tried to get tricky on me too. It makes you enter in your ZIP code and age range. There's a couple other tabs with various information. One has their Privacy Statements and checkboxes next to statements declaring the computer user's agreement to share their personal information (both of them set to be checked by default and hidden where most users won't even notice their exsistence). I of course uncheck this and proceed to browse to the other tabs, seeing what else there is (not much of note). I stumble back onto the tab with the checkboxes. Lo and behold, they've magically decided they want to be checked again. That has to be illegal in some way or another.

In the end InterActual Player really didn't offer anything of value. I'll stick to watching DVDs on my OS X parition. The quality is SOOOOOO much better then anything I've seen on the various PC options (VLC, Windows Media Player, other various and often spyware related other players).

Hollywood, I love movies. So why must you make me spite you so. I really do want to get along. You gain very little by forcing people to jump through these hoops. I understand and can even completely support content available only on a computer, and even content that requires some common and non-spyware related plug-ins or programs. But what you're doing is just shameful.

So, what you should start doing is integrating content that will play on any standard DVD playing software. If I can hit button on the menu that says "Play Movie" on the computer and then proceed to watch the movie, I should be able to hit the button that said "DVD-ROM Content" on the same computer using the same program and proceed to watch the DVD-Rom content. I would even support the studios rallying behind or creating a new DVD playing program (but just one, none of this crap having multiple programs that are really all the same thing and even related to each other) that supports this extra content and doesn't invade user privacy. A DVD playback program should do just that. All you're giving me is spyware that happens to also play DVDs.

Why Google Apps Could be Better then Office (And Why They're Not There Yet)

In honor of my new (unofficial and possibly temporary) policy of general blogging, I'm going to re-post a couple of things I've done for my other blogs. The first one will actually show up above this post on blogger view, but ah well. I was proud of these, so I'll move them to my main blog.

NOTE: Original Posting on February 23, 2007

Way back when, Google snatched up Writely.com, closed registrations, and left it at that for months. During my hiatus, Google opened up Google Docs and Spreadsheets as the product of that deal. It's an online office application that edits documents and spreadsheets (no charts), but wider support seems to be coming. But it's more then just a document editor, particularly when when you look at the larger Google picture.

Google just released a Enterprise version of Google Apps. For $50/member, you get 10 GB of storage space, Gtalk, Google Calender, Docs and Spreadsheets, Extensibility APIs, 24/7 customer support, and 99.9% guaranteed uptime. Fifty bucks each is a great price when you compare it to buying a copy of Microsoft Office for every employee. And even though the service was just launched (and is free through April 30), several major businesses have already signed up.

In a world moving away from paper, Google Apps is the ideal organizational solution. I'm a college kid without a printer. Now I don't have to worry about cluttering my inbox with emails to myself so I can download them on another computer, or even bother with flash drives that don't always play nice. I can just walk down to the lab, log in to Google Docs, and it's right there. Google's powerful tagging and archiving, combined with the complete content searching, makes it easy to find exactly what you're looking for.

Google Docs also gives you the "revisions" tool. Click on drop-down menu, and select the date/time you changed the document, and you can see how the document looked when you started, and what you added and deleted. This goes for every change since you first opened the document. I've used this feature writing papers, and it's nice. It also prevents you from accidentally saving a copy of your document in which you may have somehow deleted all the content, or really screwed things up. I know I've wanted to roll back the clock in Office before, and now Google lets you.

And Google Docs and Spreadsheets fully supports document types for both openoffice.org and Microsoft Office. It also lets you export in .html, or .pdf. You have a print function in your documents toolbar, opening the document in a clean, printable window and invoking your browser's "Print..." command. And right in the editor you can email the document, share it with other Google Docs users, and even chat live with others looking at the same document.

Moving away from docs and spreadsheets, Gmail is amazing, which the tagging features to help you organize, 2 gigs of storage space (which is huge for email), Gtalk built in, and easy email searching. I still use Mail for OS X, but Gmail is my provider. The spam filter works incredibly well (those sometimes too well, as companies sending legitimate notices may be filtered).

Everyone seems to be singing Google Reader's praise. I've messed around with it, and it's better then any other free RSS reader I've found, though I still prefer Newsfire.
Google calender is another feature I personally haven't used much. It's very iCal-esque (which is a plus). Lots of calendar goodies. Check it out sometime, it's better then almost any of the alternatives I've seen.

Oh, and all of these also have personalized homepage integration.

But I'm not a walking Google ad. This post at heart isn't so much about what Google has, as it is what Google needs.

As useful as Google Docs and Spreadsheets is, there are limitations. Previously mentioned lack of support for presentations and charts (those both appear to be forthcoming) is a painful blow to the service. Charts are vital to a spreadsheet application, and presentations are a must in any office suite.

Also hurting Google spreadsheet is the limited support for formulas. Don't get me wrong, they have everything most every average Joe is gonna need. But there's some fairly basic ones I'm surprised they don't include (like =ROMAN() for converting to Roman numerals). In fact, if you look at the help for formulas, it's merely the list of functions provided by openoffice.org, with a column added specifying whether or not Google supports it too. Providing the document is a good move on Google's part, so you can enter in an formula that will translate if you later open it up on a desktop client. But looking at the list, that's a LOT of unsupported functions. The list also gives rather technical explanations for the formulas, making it harder for the average user to figure out exactly how to use them. If you're paying for a service, it should have all the bells and whistles. And it shouldn't be too difficult to figure out how to add these other functions down the road.

Next: as soon as Google announced they were going to start charging for a more advanced service, all of those services should have moved out of the beta stage. Generally speaking, no one pays for betas. You may only offer beta versions of programs to certain people, or have some selection process, but it is almost invariably free. The whole point of a beta is getting help from the customer in finding flaws you may be overlooking. The customer is providing a service to the company. Beta should not be an excuse to say, "things may screw up or we may change things at will, but it's just a beta so you can't complain," and I'm afraid that's what Google has been doing. Gmail has been out for over a year now, with Gtalk not too far behind it. It should be well out of the beta stage. I can understand Google Docs still being a beta, but they should get away from that quickly. Moving away from beta shows you're confident in your product, and should help draw in more customers. Also, this means that features you add in later on down the line can be just that: new features, not beta changes.

Finally, I think Google Docs needs a desktop client. I know, I know. That does defeat some of the purpose. But I'm not talking about a full Office Suite made by Google. It can even require an internet connection to log on. Google Earth is a desktop application that works well on both Macs and PCs (it's possible) and requires you to be online; Google Docs should have one too. I'm not saying get rid of the web browser version. That's perfect for getting documents anywhere, which is a major selling point. But with a desktop client you get the full use of your keyboard, without a web browser taking up valuable common shortcuts. It's also easier to make menus faster, more intuitive, and flow better (that's not to say I'm saying Google did a bad job with the online toolbars. It's far more then I should expect from a web-based client. It's amazing).

Google has seriously invaded Microsoft's turf here, but I'm not suggesting you throw out your NeoOffice, OpenOffice.org, or Microsoft Office package quite yet. Let's let Google flesh out this service a while longer. With the right development, Google could become the new Office standard.

Summer Daze

We are slowly but surely expanding this blog. Possibly have a 3rd editor shortly (but shhhh, I haven't told Emperor Ryan yet). Anyway, but of an update on the summer thus far. At the moment I'm working at a small Indianapolis-based computer consulting company doing professional web design. Yeah, it's cool. I'll post links to those as they go live.

But because of Indy job, I'm living with my aunt for the summer so I don't have to drive hours daily to get here. But that also means not much to do in the evenings, and so I'll hopefully start posting some now that I'm all settled in.

Oh, and I've discovered Lifehacker.com in a BIG way now. Their stuff is the shiznit. But to facilitate the expansion of this blog some, and hopefully more posting, I'm unofficially instituting labels for posts. That way, we can write about whatever the hell we want, and you can read only the parts you want. Sweet, huh (again, maybe I should update Ryan). So, this is our first official labeled post. This'll be a Life and Update labeled blog, updates for the site, and updates on life. Anyway, here it goes again.