Monday, December 15, 2003

Idealism

My take on why idealism has no place in the modern world. Maybeit didn't have a place at any time.

The only victory idealists can have is a moral victory.And as good as it is to have a moral victory, it doesn'tmean jack. Morals don't feed people, or give them medicine,or educate their children, or save the environment.

The only way to win (in politics, and life in general)is to play the game. In which case you don't win anyway.

Saturday, December 6, 2003

The Creative Commons

I've been following the whole copyright debate in the US over the last few years, mostlythrough Professor Lessig's blog.

One of the defining moments for me was listening to the presentation given byLessig at the O'Reilly Open Source Convention in 2002. The presentation by Lessig titledFree Culturereally opened up my eyes to what's at stake. Before that I was simply an advocate ofFree Software / Open Source, but now I realise the battle is much larger. It's aboutthe survival of our cultural heritage and our collective creative work (that soundsrather dramatic, but what the hell).

The Eldred v Ashcroft case is an important milestoneand one we cant' afford to lose. Things like Project Gutenberg would not exist, people wouldn't be able to re-interpret Shakespeare'sworks as they wanted.

So rather than just passively listen to what's going on, I've decided to take somesteps. All the (half decent) software I have written is released under theGPL and I have deciedto license this website's contents under the Creative Commons license. Not that I think anyone will really want to inlcudemy rants, but it's the idea that counts. The Creative Commons license website has a number of really great explanations(as flash animations and comic stips, no less!) of why this type of license isimportant. It's a must-read.

So, please feel free to use this content under the Creative Commons license, providedthat the source is attributed and the use is non-commercial.

Thursday, December 4, 2003

Euro Trip Planning

Got off my ass today and got a copy of the Lonely PlanetEurope on a Shoestring book. It's time I get serious about planning.Need to organise with Lucky, Jem and Mach about where to go and where to meet. I still haven't got a job lined up in the UK, but that isn't much of a worry at the moment.

Also got the road trip up north in late December... need to get stuff in order for that aswell. OK, back to work.

Monday, July 14, 2003

At The Drive-In

Been listening to Relationship of Command by At The Drive-In. It's an incredible album. The way rock should be, loud, poweful and relevant. Each and every song has such a powerful message. I was pretty bummed when I hear they broke up.. I haven't heard anything from Sparta or The Mars Volta, but I gotta start looking.. if it's even half as good as ATDI then I'm buying it. Also, Mars Volta is just a VERY cool name for a band!

I just read a review of the album on UBL which summed it up nicely:"This is not a band that could ever be insincere. You can see it in their eyes and feel it in their music and work ethic. ATDI is one of the saviors of true emotional straight-up rock!"

I just found a totally amazing site which has a full RealMedia file of the ATDI concert at the Metro in 2001. The picture is a bit dark, but the 300K RealMedia is a decent quality, and the sound is pretty good for a live recording. Check it out here.

Actually, the whole VirtueOZ site is pretty cool. It has heaps of full live concerts recorded. The main site is here.

Onto other things now. Made some progress on my capstone, mainly in the area of changing the topic. Yes, AGAIN! :). But this should be the last, (1) because I'm running out of time, with only about 4 more months, and (2) I'm actually pretty confident that this topic can have some meat to it, as long as I can get the simulation running.

Well, what's the topic you ask? Well, probably not, but that's the saying anyway... So, the new topic is "content distributing using swarming technique". Basically the way BitTorrent works. I'm gonna build a model to test various things like scalability, resilience to nodes dropping, ratio of upload/download speeds etc. I was planning to just build the high level protocol, but decided that I'll need to put it on top of a TCP/IP stack to (1) get it to work properly and (2) to make the results realistic. I was originally planning to use the IPv4 stack from OMNeT++, but that is pretty hard to use.. then I decided to try the new IPv6 model developed at Monash Uni.. It's a lot cleaner implementation wise, plus the documentation is in English, which is a handy thing. Anyway, I'm having a few problems compiling the older projects with the new OMNeT++ build but hopefully that should be solved soon.

What other news? I'm going to Splendour In The Grass next weekend at Byron Bay with some of my friends. The lineup is totally incredible, with Veruca Salt, 1200 Techniques, Gerling, Goldfrapp, Powderfinger, Cold Play and heaps, heaps more.

The week after, Efe, Frans and I are going upto Cairns for a driving, diving and fishing trip. It's the first time I'm going that far into Queensland, shoudl be good. Also good to get out of cold Sydney weather. Expect lots of photos when I get back. :)

Been listening / watchinf the afore mentioned ATDI concert. Damn these guys go hard. They absolutely give 100%. I'm amazed the singer has a voice left after all the effort he puts into his delivery.

Right, time to check out. Over and out.

Saturday, May 24, 2003

Matrix Reloaded

One word description of "The Matrix Reloaded" : STYLE

It was all about style. From the set design, to the make-up, the costumesthe lighting and cinematography were simply the best I've seen in along time. In the same class as "Blade Runner", "The City of Lost Children"and "The Fifth Element".

About the camera work. These guys are inventing something new each time.They are really pushing wire stunts to the extreme. The camera work wasbrilliant most of the time, but looked silly when they tried to push ittoo far (specially in the 'Neo vs 100 Agent Smiths' scene).

On the SFX. Brilliant for the most part. Specially with the interior ofZion and the fight squences. Though the CGI fights weren't as goodas I expected. There were distinct and jarring transitions between liveaction and CGI elements. They still have some work to do with the models forclothing. Neo's coat looked very plastic-y specially when he was doing all thoseaerial moves. The 'virtual camera' was a bit overused, IMHO.

About the directing. There were big second and third units, but I assumethe Wachowskis were with the main unit. I liked the work a lot, once againthe everything, down to the position of the people in rooms / hallwayswere very stylised. Maybe that was how they wanted to portray the insideof The Matrix, but it was a bit disconcerting. Too much "style" isn'talways good.

The acting / characters. Neo isn't exactly the most believable superhero(or Christ figure, more on that later) but least the film sends a nodin that direction via The Oracle. She had some of the best lines:

Oracle: You're cuter than I thought. I can see why she likes you.
Neo: Who?
Oracle: Not too bright, though.

But none of that self-deflation in the second. Took itself a bit too seriously, for my liking.

Poor Neo. He's pretty lost. It's a big responsibility to have the fate ofthe world on one's shoulders, but the film doesn't really explore his innerthoughts on this. It's given rather superficial treatment - to the film'sdetriment, I think. Keanu gives a good performance in terms of characterisation(he has very little to work with), and a brilliant performance in the actionsequences.

Carrie-Anne is pretty understated and unused in this. She has that kick assaction sequence on the highway, and some rather sappy moments with Neo.The script really didn't leave much room for characters, but Moss reallypulled through in this one.

Now, Morpheus. Dude, what's whith the speechifying? Cut it out. Makes yousound like some crazy preacher man. Maybe that was the point.. but you don'tmake leaders my making speeches, do lead through your actions. Morpheus isalways in Neo's shadow, so he should be Peter and Paul, to Neo's Jesus.I liked the way that the fight choreographers matched Morph's fightingto his physique. I think Morph is going to die in part 3. It's the onlyway he can become the hero / messiah he wants to be.

Other characters. The French dude was completely over the top. Reel it inboys. Same with his wife. I think the film would have done with a bit moreexposition about who and what they were. My interpretation is that these areprograms within the Matrix that have strayed from their original goal and takena life of it's own. Agent Smith was cool and menacing as always. Hugo Weavingcan be really creepy when he wants to. The teleporting dreadlocked white dudesare absolutely the coolest thing in the movie. More of them please!

About the structure. THey used the peek-into-the-future openining sequence..Decent without being brilliant. You always know that the core three will alwayssurvive (least till the 3rd one) so the "death of Trinity" was not thatshocking. The first act was a bit slow. The introduction on Morph's backgroundand the political situation on Zion could have been done with a bit of editing.The whole Morpheus-does-Winston-Churchill scene, the underground rave scene andthe Neo-Trinity sex scene could have all been cut. Completely useless to the plot.Also, the Neo has a chat with the councillor scene could have gone. Or leastdone something useful..

The second and third acts were action heavy, but the end of the second-start ofthe third was not very cool, with the Neo in the Mainframe bit. Maybe too muchexposition, maybe too little. "Show it, don't say it".

The plot in short (there aint much anyway). Agent smith has some cool new powers,maybe stolen from Neo where he can clone himself. And if he "clones" a humanin the matrix, he can take over their real world bodies. Neo is superman, forall intents and purposes. Zoin is under attack, and seems to be destroyed.The biggest revelation (may not be true) is that the One is some form of feedbackfunction within the Matrix, used to correct it's unbalanced equation. Neo is in factthe sixth incarnation of the One, according to the Matrix control program. The oneis supposed to interact with the outside, and return to the Matrix controlto optimise it's settings. At each restart, zion is destroyed and a new zion isstarted by the Matrix by moving 16 humans outside. Zion is required to find theOne each time.

It seems plausable. But no reason to believe the computer. Also, it seems Neohas some power (more than some, a LOT. Enough to stop 4 (?) Sentinels) outsidethe Matrix, in the real world. This raises the question, is Zion really outsidethe Matrix? Is it just part of some Meta-matrix?

On to the Neo-as-Jesus thing. Could we have been hit over the head with this anymore? Please! Turn it down a bit. Of course, I really should hold judgement until thelast part is done, coz it's meant to be one big story.. but still. They better come upwith something better than Neo sacrificing himself to save humanity. Also, they betternot wake up inside of the meta-Matrix. The "it was all a dream" exit is the worstpossible cop-out.

I'll leave speculation for later. It's 1:30 am and I'm really tired.

Over and out.

Friday, May 23, 2003

The End of Buffy

hmm, I saw the final on the 20th of may. Watched it again last night. Itstill kills me. Spoilers for those who haven't seen it.

Was it good? It was bloody fantastic. It was exactly what the last Buffyhad to be. It brings everyone's stories to a nice end, and leaves thingsopen just in case. I'm still pissed that Faith doesn't have her own storynow. She really grew in the last 5 (?) episodes. I'm also concerned about Spike. I'm sure the story about James being on Angel isn't a sick joke...So how do they do it? Without making his sacrifice any less meaningful?Everyone is throwing around the Sanshu prophecy.. but you never know howthese things go. Mutant Enemy have a twisted way of meeting prophecies,see the "father will kill the son" for a case in point...

Anyways, the major development here is of course that there is no longerONE chosen (not even two, actually). All the potentials have been activated.So there are dozens, possibly 100s of slayers out there.. that could be trouble... Plus, not sure how all this falls into the Fray story... whathappens to the next generation of slayers? Does that go back into theone chosen? Or will all potentials be born slayers now? That's for later...

There were some brilliant scenes in "Chosen". Buffy's cookie-dough speechwas just brilliant. And possibly the most insightful revelation she's hadabout herself. Dawn's kick-in-the-shins. Priceless. The drawing of Angelon Spike's punching bag. Absolutely hilarious. The handing over of the amuletto Spike.. the scene with the "core four", the original scooby gang in theschool hall. Going back to those irreverent days of lighthearted banter thatsomehow got lost along the way. Gile's throwback to the end of "Welcome tothe Hellmouth and The Harvest". Brings a tear to the eye. How much these peoplehave changed...

One observation that's particularly important, from Loey is that the twoscoobs that died, Anya and Spike, died for a cause (humanity) that they spentmost of their lives hating. And killing. Joss always brings it back to redemption.It's not easy, no one will do it for you, but it can be done. "You lurrrvehumans!" :)

Oh, and the D and D scene! Priceless. Poor Giles! I thought he'd becleric or paladin or something. Dwarf is funnier tho.

Dunno what else to say. Head is all in a jumble. It's been a great 7 years.Can't wait till Angel Season 5 (imagine how bad it would have been to lose Angel as well. I'd have cried for a month!) I'm gonna watch the pilot andremember the good old days now.

Grr! Argh!

Tuesday, April 15, 2003

Thoughts

And the war is over. Well, not officially anyways.. but in all but name. That was quick. Not sure what to total casualty count was, but I saw 118 US dead, plus 4 MIA. The UK was 31. No figures on civilian casualties, of course. Probably in the 100's to 1000's. Nothing on the Iraqi soldiers either. The rebuilding of the country sure will be interesting. Much problems there.

Onto other, more happy stuff. I'm the latest crazy fan of The Delgados. Heard them a few times on the js.. then Mark R from work leant me "The Great Eastern". I was blown away, to say the least. I ordered "Great Eastern" and the previous album "Peleton" (these kids like their cycling, huh?). I'm waiting to get the newy "Hate" which also sounds very cool. I also have a review of "Aerogramme" who are signed to The Delgados label, Chemikal Underground. More power to em, I say. Good to see indies doing well.

I downloaded (yeah, I'm naughty) and watched the latest Dune miniseries from the Sci-Fi Channel in the US, Children of Dune. It was damn fine. Very, very good. The series was an amalgamation of "Dune Messiah" and "Children of Dune", but the story (by John Harrison) was done very well. Possibly a bit confusing and boring for people not familiar with the Dune story, but hey, that's not me.

As with the last miniseries, the production design was breathtaking. The costumes, the sets, the CGI was all good. The worms looked incredible. I still wished that they did Leto's sand trout "still suit" properly, IIRC it was meant to cover his whole body in a silver-gray suit, not just bits of it. But that's a minor point. Also, the music (score by Brian Tyler) was just brilliant. I'm definately getting the score CD, from the US if it doesn't go on sale here.. Harrison didn't direct this series, but new director Greg Yaitanes really does a great job. The DOP (can't remember who) was also really good, some of the sets (the throne room on Dune in particular) was just lit and shot briliantly. Created a real sense of space.. plus the outside shots of the very Pathanon-esque palace were amazing.

Onto the cast. More superlatives here. :) Everyone was superb, but special note of Alec Newman as the older, wiser and tired Emperor, and as the desert preacher. Also Daniela Amavia as Alia was just simply stunning. She could have just stood there and I would have watched. But she played Alia's fall from grace and eventual madness so beautifully... Edward Atterton (Atherton Wing from Firefly!!!!) and Alice Krige were agreat additions to the cast. Julie Cox as Irulan contibnued to amaze, playing Irulan with such sympathy, sadness and determination. Of course, the twins were great, James McAvoy and Jessica Brooks as Leto II and Ghanima really did justice to thier roles. Only sadness is that they won't be in the next Dune series (if they make it, but since this one did really well.. who knows?) coz in 3,500 years Leto the God Emperor will be a worm, and Ghani long dead. Least Atterton will be there as the Idaho ghola.. "Children" makes me so sad.. :(. I'm a big sook. :)

Anyways, I've stil got a whole heap of books to get through (not including the Dune stuff which I MUST re-read now). I got Brunner's "Stand On Zanzibar" after countless recommendations from my friends, and the bookstore owner.. Plus I have a bunch of Iain M Banks, the new one by Sarah Douglass "Hades' Daughter", Heinlein's "Time Enough For Love" AND a whole bunch of George RR Martin stuff, coz Lu keeps pestering me to read em. AND I have to read all this stuff for Wireless and Capstone. yeesh!

Anyways, off to watch last week's Angel "Shiny Happy People" again. Apparently it's supposed to be funny. It seemed rather average last time I saw it, but maybe I was watching it with the wrong expectations. Anyways, over and out.

Saturday, April 5, 2003

I'm Bored!

Well, not exactly bored, but lazy. I have craploads of stuff to do, for Capstone, NPM, Wireless, cleaning up, exercise.. where to begin? But still, I can't motivate myself to do any of that. Yeah. I suck.

So, what's happened in the last two months that I didn't write.. Quite a bit, I guess. GulfWar II got started. Buffy will be wrapping up at the end of Season 7 (yeah, my priorities are all wrong. Bite me). Got started on capstone. Started turoring Network Planning and Management.And some other stuff.

Since everyone is writing about the war, maybe I should too. I think I can cover it in one word. Bleh. Is that a word even? I've been quoting that famous saying by Ambassador Kosh lately"The avalanche has begun, and it is too late for the pebbles to vote". Call me uncaring, evil,emotionally stunted, whatever.. It don't change squat. Once George W. Bush was elected (rightly or wrongly - that's up to the citizens of the US, not me), the Neo-Cons were always going to start this. With or without foreign support. I guess they are "lucky" that the UK and Australiawent with them.

Which brings the issue of domestic politics. This is an interesting one. I'm sure John Howard thinks he is doing what is best for Australia, and maybe even the Iraqi people. For me, the simple fact is that Howard was put into government post 9/11 by a huge landslide. The Australian people gave him the right to make this call. If they are so against war, they should have voted for the Democrats or Greens, who couldn't go to war under any circumstances. You vote in a Liberal (that's conservative, for the non-Aussies) government, you accept the consequences.

Poor Mr. Blair. His party is falling apart around him. I'm not quite sure what his rationale behind the US support. I didn't think "New Labour" was so anti-Europe. The UK have clearly sided with the US, against Europe. Interesting times.

I was following the military movements on the ground for a while.. but reliable informationis too rare.. so I don't bother anymore. Someone tell me when it's over. Can we go back to regular TV please. I don't like all my favourite shows being interrupted with war coverage.

Anyways, onto marginally happier (but still sad) things. Sara Michelle Gellar announced that she won't be renewing her contract with Buffy after Season 7. I guess it's a nice round number, and this season looks like it's gonna be a big one (more on that later). It's good to go outon top, before jumping the shark. Same with Angel.. There are gitters about renewals for Season 5.. but this season has been soo kickass! Plus Joss and Greenwalt and Co apparently has big plans for next year. Pls Electro-Gwen! Schweet! :)

Don't read the next few paragraphs if you've only seen the AU/UK Buffy eps.

Things are really getting a move on. I just love Spike. Now that he's got his groove back..Kicking Woody's ass was overdue, and much enjoyed. Fury and Goddard went nuts on this episode.Actually, everyone is in top form. Jane's "Storyteller" was very cool. This years very own "Superstar". Goddard was awesome with "Selfless". This boy can do no wrong. He had some of the best lines ever!

Olaf: Ha ha ha! Sweet Aud! Your logic is insane and happenstance, like that of a troll.
----------
Aud: I don't talk to people much. I mean, I talk to them, but they don't talk to me, except to say that, "your questions are irksome," and, "perhaps you should take your furs and your literal interpretations to the other side of the river."

I want to see more Goddard! One season of Ultimate Drew aint' enuf.

Anyways, the big bad isn't as badass as it's making out.. But we know that's gonna change when Mal "Captain Tightpants" Reynolds (also known as Nathan Fillion) drops by for his Priest-From-Hell (literally!) role. Can't wait. Oh yeah, don't like the Buffy-Giles no-talkies either. Ithought Giles was pretty dumb in trying to kill Spike, but still.. It's GILES!

Oh yeah, can't wait for Willow to bring along Faith. This is gonna be a major rumble. I don't think that Faith will get quite the welcome she got in LA.. I just hope that the show doesn't end on a downer. I've seen some spoilers (THEY spoiled me! I didn't even look! Bad spoiler people!) and it looks ominous for our Buffster. But I have faith in Joss and Co.

On to Angel. Just saw "Inside Out" the episode written and directed by "Pantsless" Steve DeKnight. It was a great ep, and expained everything. Well, except for the major "ick" factor with Connor and Cordy. I mean, eeew! Right, where were we? Oh yeah, what' Gina Torres supposed to be? Some kind of mean ass Glory knock-off? Must remember mantra "Have faith in Joss!". I mean they kind of even explained Connor's serious lack of brains (this is Angel's son? Where did all the brains go?). Apparently Connor can't think for himself. Not some kinda medical condition, just coz that's the way he's been trained. But still.. killing a girl in cold blood is not on. Bad Connor. Can we kill him now? Please? And Cordy too. I want bitchy Cordy. Good Cordy and lame-ass Evil Cordy suck ass on a massive scale.

Faith kicked ass tho. She can't not kick ass. "Faith is soooo hot!" Thanks Kitty! :) Oh yeah, mean-ass Wes is cool too. I mean compare season Buffy Season 3 Wes to Angel Seson 4 Wes. It's not even the same person. More shout-outs to Gwen, coz she's just cool. Plus our man Andy Hallet made the main creds. Of course in the Jossverse that means he's gonna die.

Onto spinoffs. Joss wants more stuff in the Buffyverse. So do we. I'm MAJORLY miffed that the Faith / Spike show fell apart. That would have been too cool for school. Eliza! We want you back! There's still a slim hope.. but eh. Willing to wait for Joss to work his magic. I'm sure whatever he does will be worth becoming a slavish fan over. :) Unless of course a bunch of dumb-asses *cough*fox*cough* screw it up.

Right, moving on. Capstone is up and running, but I'm just not motivated to do a lot of work at the moment. Dunno why. Want to shrink me? Of course I'm tutoring Network Planning and Management, which is going OK. I'm still not happy that UTS Engineering don't have a proper UNIX course for undergrads. This should be essential. The new Wireless subject with Sandy is pretty good too, though a lot of information to absorb. I still have to read up on GSM. Waaay too much to learn there. Not hard, but plenty of it.

Hmmm, that's all for now. Me hungry. Plus Ed is back on today!

Wednesday, January 29, 2003

First For The New Year

Not that I really care about "new" year. Celebrating arbitary denominations of time is assilly as, well, something really silly.. but people seem to take it as an excuse to party, so eh.

My mates are getting into a whole big blogging thing (see the links section for links) so I felt guilty about not updating.. so here I am.

The only real update of note is that I've got around to making a list of the CDs(LPs and EPs, not SP / singles) I've purchased in the last 6 years. There's about 130 of em there, for atotal of soemthing like AU$3800 spent on them. That's a a lot of money. I'm not writingup CDs I got before ~1997 coz I had really shit taste then. Except for Smashing Pumpkins,Pearl Jam, Metallia, Nirvana, Soundgarden and Rage Against the Machine. I was an angry teenager.

Oh yeah, I've been roped into Tutor Network Planning and Management by my thesis supervisor.I really should make sure I'm up to date on OMNet++, else all sorts of hijinks will ensue.

And FireFly got cancelled. Fox sucks ass. Joss rules. Season 7 of Buffy is going well. If this is thelast, money is on Kennedy being the next slayer.. after Faith dies, of course..

Time to get back to work. Yay me!