Good morning! Just a bunch of quick links for your edification:
- According to this semi-press release, Blizzard believes that the Diablo II expansion pack will be out by the end of June. Warcraft III should be out by the end of the year, though there is a chance that this will slip into next year. (Based on Blizzard's past record, I'd say that it's almost certain that the game won't be out until next year, possibly not until next summer.) Finally, Blizzard's next game (which won't be Starcraft 2) will be announced this September.
- John Irving's next book, The Fourth Hand, will be released on July 5th. I know a certain wife that'll be very happy to hear this.
- Firaxis has posted some new information about Civilization III.
- Emperor: Battle For Dune, a new Dune-based real-time strategy game, has gone gold and should be on store shelves in the next week or so. Though I am excited about the subject matter of this game and have been impressed with the previews that I've seen, I won't actually purchase it unless it gets generally favorable reviews. I've decided that I could cut my game-purchasing back to just Blizzard titles and I'd be just fine. I'm not there yet, though, so I'm sure I'll be picking up a few games from other companies.
- I found a new (to me) computer technology site that I might start reading.
- I watched the Star Trek: Voyager series finale last night. It was alright. I haven't watched the show since the middle of the first season. At that time I was a huge Star Trek fan, video-taping and audio-taping every episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Voyager sucked, though, in almost every way. I stopped watching it. Jeremy and Jennifer rave about Voyager, though, so I thought I'd give it a chance last night. I watched a syndicated episode ("Hope and Fear") earlier in the evening and it sucked, just as I remembered the show sucking. The finale, though, was acceptable. It was about the same quality as an average episode of Next Generation. The story would have been much more satisfying if the crew of Voyager had executed the return to Earth by themselves, without the aid of a far-future Admiral Janeway and the tired tired tired time-travel plot. (Are they still using this? It was old after the second time they did this on Next Generation.) Kris and I agree, though, that the acting on Voyager is generally sub-par for a Star Trek series. It's basically at Babylon 5 level, which is to say Not Good.
Later: The newsfeed seems to be working well, but there are some changes I'd like to make. Moreover limits your font selections, and much of the other layout options, to a very few choices. I'm going to go into the actual code and muck around with it to see if I can't make things look more to my liking...
Oops. Really messed up the page with that tweak. Revert! I'm having difficulties displaying more than five headlines. When I set up the newsfeed, I indicated that I wanted only five to be displayed, but now that I've tweaked the layout, I'd like to see ten displayed. I'm trying to fool Moreover into letting me do this, but I'm not having much success. Testing...
I created a new newsfeed profile in order to compare variables to see if there's something I'm missing. Now I think that I may just have to start from scratch to get the global parameters that I want. Testing... Testing...
Apparently the SciFi Channel is producing a four-hour miniseries based on Kim Stanley Robinson's Red Mars, one of the best science fiction books that I've read in the past decade. If done well, this could be a fantastic show. It's nice to see the SciFi channel finally getting past the point where all they can show is drivel. They've been showing the original Star Trek series and producing some fine original work. It just took them a decade to get to a point where they were financially able to do this, I suspect.
(I find it odd when I search for things on Google and my pages float to the top. Several years ago, I started to create a mini-site about Kim Stanley Robinson. I had been reading all of his work and was astounded by the quality. I wanted to share my enthusiasm with the world. About this time he released either Blue Mars or Antarctica. He gave a book-reading at Powell's in Portland, and I went to hear him. It was quite pleasant and afterward I went to get my books signed. I wanted to share my web site with him, so I gave him my business card with the URL on the back. Unfortunately for both of us, he was in pure schmooze mode; he said, "Thanks. We'll hook up." and went on to the next person. This casual, and obviously insincere, dismissal hurt my feelings, and I've been steaming about it ever since. I didn't want to "hook up". I just wanted him to visit my web site, and possibly drop a line with feedback. I never finished the web site. I was too peeved. Childish maybe, but it irked me that this person whose writing I greatly admired just casually dismissed me without so much as a thought.
Kris had a similar experience once. In college, a poet that she greatly admired came to campus. She must have had some sort of seminar or something, because Kris gave her some poetry to look at. The woman provided feedback, all of it quite harsh. Kris is not a bad writer, and this poetry was by no means terrible. I haven't seen it for a decade, so maybe it was juvenile. I don't know. What I do know is that Kris was pretty broken up about the response she received (and if you know Kris, you know she doesn't get broken up about much). Here was a person whose writing she greatly admired just casually dismissing her without so much as a thought.
What's the moral of these two experiences? I don't know. I guess there are several possible morals. One: If you get to meet one of your idols, don't have unrealistic expectations of their obligation to you as a fan. They're busy. They don't know you. Don't expect them to treat you as somebody special. Second: If you are in a position where you actually have fans, be sensitive to them (unless you really don't give a fuck). Be sincere when you talk to them. Be genuine. Don't make promises that you're not going to keep, especially if it's obvious that you're not going to keep them (e.g. "We'll hook up"). If a fan asks you for advice, be honest but gentle. Third: Different people have different perceptions of the same event. This is one of my favorite lessons of all. I love books and movies and anecdotes that indicate this. Different people have different perceptions of the same event. It's the Rashomon effect that I described a couple of days ago. It's why I've enjoyed reading both Into Thin Air and The Climb together. Different people have different perceptions of the same event.
Paul directed me to KEXP, a radio statio that is apparenlty connected with the University of Washington. They've got a life Internet feed, and play an eclectic blend of music. Cool! I love a chance to hear new stuff, and after about an hour of listening, I'd say that I like 75% of what they're playing. It's a good chance to find music that I might otherwise never hear.
Meanwhile, Nick says that KVMX, FM107.5 in Portland, is going to have a Top500 songs of the 1980s countdown this weekend. I'm less than enthused about this, especially since the countdown is based on lists submitted by the listeners. Do you think that the listeners know 500 different songs from that decade? And even if they do, they're still going to list pretty mainstream stuff. Who knows? Maybe I'll be pleasantly surprised. The consensus here at Custom Box Service is that The Police's "Every Breath You Take" is without a doubt the number one song of the eighties. We'll have to see how KVMX's listeners rank it.
While searching for KVMX's site, I stumbled upon The Portland Radio Guide. As you'd expect from the site's name, The Portland Radio Guide is a compendium of information about radio in Portland, Oregon. I'm going to spend some time exploring it. There are archived clips from past broadcasts, including a live broadcast during the Columbus Day Storm of 1962. I think it'll be pretty interesting.
And I also found a site for KUSA Radio. I haven't been able to determine whether or not this is a real radio statio; it may be Internet only. No matter. Its slogan is: "Spanning a Century of American Music, 1901 to 2001", which sounds promising to me. I have varied tastes and often listen to music from the first part of the century, popular music from the middle part of the century, and modern ambient rock or acid jazz all in the span of an hour. I'll have to give this station a try (though the feed is non-functional at the moment).
On this day at foldedspace.org
2005 — Nature Walks Now that the endless rain has, in fact, ended, and now that the weather has changed to something altogether more agreeable, I've had the pleasure of resuming my daily walks.
2004 — Observations I'm the salesman while Tony's in Indiana. Today, while out and about, I observed poor bike riders, a man with a cockatiel, and myself behaving poorly. Also, we're watching Colonial House.
2003 — The Architect Already I can see the chain reaction, the chemical precursors that signal the onset of emotion, designed specifically to overwhelm logic, and reason. An emotion that is already blinding you from the simple, and obvious truth.
— Killing Time Another stack of links for you to play with.
— Agony In which I whine.