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The Cake is a Lie!

I first did it a few days ago, but tonight I beat Portal. Here’s a screenshot of my accomplishment…

I beat Portal.

Ya’ll know I’m a computer geek and a music kid, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that the part I’m going to absolutely rave about is the closing credits. WOW! For anyone who has a little intellect and a fair amount of patience (call me if you get stuck in one particular part or another), you should play and beat this game just to see the end credits. This kid Jonathan Coulton wrote an amazing song “Still Alive” for the game and I was just…wow. I bought it on iTunes. It was worth $0.99.

Add comment Computer Geek 04/10/2008 at 22:23 ET

Recover from Disaster

Today I’m helping a friend of a friend with her computer. As I’m sitting here watching xcopy backup most of her data onto my computer (temporarily) and pondering resizing her hard drive partition (non-techie-types can read that as “hopefully fixing the problem but running the risk of deleting her whole computer”), a thought floats through my mind. Does anyone remember undelete?

I think this is an especially poignant question for me these days as I’ve recently bought a new computer with Windows Vista (crappy Microsoft) and I’m quite sure that I have no idea how I would go about accomplishing an undelete. My friend’s friend’s computer has Windows XP (crappy Microsoft) and I don’t think I’ve ever undeleted a file on XP either. I don’t even know if NTFS (Windows 2000 Professional or later) supports the same kind of un-delete operation that FAT (Windows ME or earlier) did. When was the last time I seriously tried to undelete a file?

Actually, I know the answer to that question. It was when I was working on my website: my webhost runs everything on Debian Linux and I’m not as snazzy with *nix platforms as I am with Windows (crappy Microsoft). I deleted a whole folder by accident and then spent a few hours searching for a way to undo the operation. After a lot of Google research, I decided that even if I knew what I was doing, the files were probably gone, so I gave up.

There’s definitely the command-line factor. Who remembers DOS? That’s when undelete reigned supreme. It was really easy to type something and accidentally delete a file you didn’t mean to. With a graphical interface (thanks Apple, even if you’re overpriced) I think mistakes are a lot less common.

I also think it says a little about the evolution of the relationship of the computer to the operator. As we become more familiar with computers and they become more familiar with us, mistakes requiring undelete are a lot less common. I know, I know, there’s the trash can (or recycle bin — crappy Microsoft), but who really uses that thing, anyway? I think I have it turned off on two-out-of-three computers I regularly use.

So I’m sitting here thinking about the evolution. What would young Jed, writing MS-DOS-based batch files to create boot menus, think of OS X anyway? Would he even know where to start? What does that say about how computing technology has progressed, and more importantly, what does it say about how computing technology has pushed Mankind to progress?

Add comment Computer Geek 04/05/2008 at 18:15 ET


Has anyone else been watching Eli Stone? I try hard not to watch too much TV, so I avoid geting hooked-on new shows. There are plenty of good shows that I’m already engaged in — and a few bad ones to boot. This new show, however, Eli Stone is something I’m glad that I took some time to watch.

For those of you who haven’t seen it, the premise is pretty simple: there’s this guy (Eli Stone) who starts experiencing strange, immersive visions. He finds out that he has an inoperable brain aneurysm and seeks help from an acupuncturist who thinks perhaps the visions are more than just random expression of a mishmosh of insignificant imaginations of his subconscious. He calls Eli a prophet (something Eli’s not particularly comfortable with), an through a series of uncanny events, Eli comes to think that maybe, just maybe, something special is happening to him.

And here’s where the show gets compelling, because it really seems like something special is happening. It doesn’t always work out with a happily-ever-after for him, and he can’t keep the faith that he may really be a prophet, but the things that happen to Eli and the ways they link together are too uncanny to be just a brain disease. It really seems like he’s getting some guidance.

There are moments in this show that just reach out and grab me. First, his visions seem to revolve around (although not exclusively) music, something near and dear to my heart. Then there are times when the events in Eli’s life relate directly to the visions he’s having in a way that just makes my heart yearn. I’m guessing it’s been popular because it has that affect on other people too. How great would it be to have someone walk up to you and introduce themselves as the person you were dreaming about helping just last night? How could you ignore a message written in children’s alphabet blocks that seems to be just for you?

So here’s the hitch: even with all the help he’s getting from his visions, things aren’t working out perfectly for Eli. His life has become very, very complicated. At least a third of the time he’s not even sure he believes in what’s happening to him. His relationships keep getting messed up; despite the visions, he keeps making the wrong decisions; his career has basically gone up in smoke; and worst of all, the visions can be a little disturbing. Maybe I wouldn’t want to be Eli after all…

…who am I kidding? I sure would!

As an episode comes to a close, however, I think there’s a bigger point. Watch carefully. What’s so special about Eli, anyway? Is it his disease? Is it his messed-up relationship with his crazy, late father? Is it the fact that he gets special guidance from his visions that make it simple to figure out what to do next?

No, it’s not — none of those things make Eli particularly different from you or I. What’s cool about the show is that it demonstrates the need to pay attention to the signs. We need to look for them and listen to them and trust them. We’re not always going to interpret the omens right — even if they were full-blown, immersive visions we probably wouldn’t get it right all the time. But the signs are there on the road, and you’re going to have a better, safer journey if you mind them.

You and I are prophets too, if we want to be.

Add comment Spirituality and Faith 04/05/2008 at 13:21 ET

Jogging Day 13 of 18

Well, my compliance to the “jog every day” idea isn’t doing too well (72% right now) but I still feel like I’m accomplishing a lot. Yesterday I was supposed to have a practice with my canoe team (a story for another day) so I intended to skip jogging. No one came to the practice (apparently the middle of an afternoon on a day everyone has off is an inconvenient time — next time I’ll pick 3am on a Tuesday) but I was too bummed out to go jogging. Lame, huh?

Today I increased my distance to approximately 2 miles. I’m stoked about that. I did the 1.6 mile circuit in about 15:32 and then kept going. By the end of the 2.0 miles I’d been jogging for 21:35. This is finally a worthwhile cardio exercise in my book, although I still want to go longer. I’m still on 2 minutes jogging then 1 minute walking….

Add comment Exercise Journal 03/16/2008 at 18:37 ET

Jogging Day 10 of 14

Ya’ll may have noticed my brief jogging hiatus. Well, it seems that, in addition to the shin pain, I’ve been having another medical “symptoms of concern.” It’s been going on since day 5 or so… You can tell I took it a little seriously since I didn’t write about it. Well, I made a doctor’s appointment (it’s not for a little bit) and called my mom. Then I got with my friend Frank, the best runner I know. Frank suggested that my symptom is probably just my body getting used to jogging again and that perhaps starting a little more slowly with some intervals would be a good idea. At first I thought it sounded a bit wimpy, but I did ask for his advice and after a few seconds to get over myself it sounded like a good idea.

Today I bought a new watch with an interval timer and set out to do 2 minutes jogging and 1 minute walking. I need to learn more about interval programs and get myself on a good track, but I think it helped. I’ll also have to see, over the next 24 hours, how my symptoms are. Overall I really liked it though. Since all that walking was built in I decided to go on the 1.6 mile loop (my first time on that one) and it took 15:58. It went pretty well — my shins didn’t hurt so much at least. I did cramp up a bit but after not jogging for 3 days that should be expected. Tomorrow I’ll try again.

Add comment Exercise Journal 03/12/2008 at 16:48 ET

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