May 2005 Archives

The DaVinci Code movie's website (including teaser trailer) is now up.

At least I can look forward to the following shows:

The Inside


The Night Stalker

Prison Break




I predict Ghost Whisperer will be canned faster than you can say "Point Pleasant". Way to try to emulate Medium, CBS! The same quick cancellation will no doubt apply to Freddy.

Seriously, a lot of the upcoming Fall shows look absolutely terrible.

Lost's finale was a huge disappointment.

Lost's writers have the responsibility of progressing the show's plot in a meaningful way.

You have a great premise--sure, it's a stretch--some good actors and actresses (I say some, because Maggie Grace is an absolutely horrible actress, and let's face it, Sayid's fake accent isn't fooling anyone, but I digress), but we as viewers are willing to suspend belief on a few issues, as long as some others are finally resolved, or we're at least given enough clues/insight as to be able to make a determination for ourself.

What did the finale actually answer?

* The "Others" took Walt. These "others" look like pirates.
* The "Others", in taking Walt, apparently don't seem to be interested in the baby. Or rather, perhaps they're interested in both, and just don't know about the baby yet.
* The Black Rock is a slave ship, most likely related to the "others".
* The monster definitely has a sci-fi element to it, or rather a mechanical one, as it sounded like the winding up of a roller coaster, or a winch.
* The black smoke wasn't created by Danielle, or so she says. And Sayid makes the observation that the beach had no footprints. Ever heard of high tide?

What didn't it answer?

* What is the significance of the black/white rocks?
* What about the numbers? Again, for the millionth times, we get that the numbers are important. If that concept was ever forgotten, it's been engraved in our skulls by the senseless numbers-are-everywhere placements which were especially prevalent last night (in nonsensical, in-your-face ways, too).
* If Walt can sense something bad is in the hatch, can he not sense also that the "others" wanted to take him? Bah.
* We were told by one of the writers that we would be able to "intuit the source of the radio transmission." Really? No-one has, to my knowledge done this yet.

This show is starting to have way too much filler (characters' backstories), and not enough meat and potatoes.

Another aspect of the show that is absolutely irritating is all of the blatant, repeated dialogue such as, "We're going to have a Locke problem." We already know this story arc is set up for us; bashing us over the head with "man of science" vs "man of faith" speeches is just insulting. It takes the effect down many notches to have the dialoge call it (and other sentiments) out so blatantly.

You (speaking to the writers) cannot string your viewers along like this while you trickle out the answers. It's just wrong. You have to answer and then move on, or at least build. In this finale, you didn't truly build, you just failed to satiate us, totally.

Another thing that bothers me is that the writers have said time and time again that this is a show about characters. Primetime soap opera, anyone? That's exactly what that statement sounds like to me, or rather, more sarcastically, "we have such little actual plot and story, so we'll fill it with fake mysteries and non-essential character interactions so that you'll keep wondering forever and watching."

Man, they have better drop a load of rich plot advancements next season, or they will lose a great deal of their audience.

The writers are at least right about this, and it's probably the most telling statement: "The show will end when the true nature of the island is revealed." We'll probably be frustrated with this show forever, because they won't show us the "monster" until the end, but I'm not sure we'll care too much by then.

I've battled with depression all of my life, but didn't recognize it for what it is until I was around 16 or so. I always attributed the symptoms--heavy head, inability to focus, bad outlook on life, decreased interest in friends, activities, even things that normally brought me simple pleasures--to my own pessimistic view (which still exists somewhat to this day).

How I really knew I had it was during my days at Netscape, where, even when everything else was going splendid, I would find myself battling odd, depressing thoughts and emotions.

Thankfully, I had a great group of friends to support me, and on weekends activities such as football in the park to keep me pretty busy.

It's the time alone, or under severe stress, that really bring depression out, but it can be triggered or worsened also by poor sleep, bad diet, and of course, mental stresses.

Another factor, at least for me, is hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). If I eat certain foods, such as Taco Bell's bean burritos, I get depressed, likely because of the link between blood sugar levels and depression.

The thing about depression is that it's real, with genuine causes. I've tried on numerous occasions to explain it to people who, never having gone through a depressive state, simply can't understand it at all. I feel (though they assure me otherwise) that they can't even empathize with me.

But thankfully, over the years I've learned that it runs in the family, millions have it, and that there exist numerous ways of correcting the imbalance. It's not a disease, but rather a condition which, like most other medical anomolies, has genuine treatments. Exercise, first and foremost, helps me tremendously. When I can't do that (think winter), I've learned to supplement with 5-HTP.

It's not a cure all, but what is? Additionally, I've not yet experienced any side-effects from it, and it's been a real godsend, especially for those maddeningly-critical "exam-is-tomorrow" and "paper-is-due-tomorrow" all-night study fests.

Tempting, oh-so-tempting.

Lost: The Complete First Season.

Oh, and it's the complete first season, as if you'd expect to buy anything less.

If you want some really, really good progressive trance (not the junk you hear on the radio!), then let me recommend DJ Steve James:

I'd just like to mention, for the record, that I'm pretty Mac-friendly lately.

My on-and-off again love affair with Macs definitely started back during my days at Netscape, when I, along with Sarah Liberman (and others?) was given special Carbon builds by, I think, Mike Pinkerton and Simon Fraser.

I think, but I'm not sure, that what we were testing was what would essentially become 10.1 (seems right).

Anyhow, being able to drop in to a Unix-based shell (since the OS was based on FreeBSD) to manage files was very cool indeed.

All of this, though, was before the really cool stuff that has since made it into the OS: Safari and that oh-so-nifty Dashboard.

I absolutely love Safari. Its simplicity and chrome is impeccable, at least to me. In addition, though, I love Camino, too, for the same reasons. Using both is a pleasure, and combined with the aesthetics of OS X and the iMac itself, make for a happy browsing experience.

I write my English papers there, too, because somehow, that Apple fruit-goodness seeps through my pores, and I notice myself writing better. It's hard to truly articulate that, I know.

I upgraded Norton AntiVirus 9 to version 10 tonight (courtesy of our free license at school), and the 1st dialog I see on a scan is this:

Scan type: Auto-Protect Scan
Event: Security Risk Found!
Threat: Adware.Minibug
File: C:\Program Files\AWS\WeatherBug\MiniBugTransporter.dll
Location: Quarantine
Action taken: Quarantine succeeded : Access allowed
Date found: Wednesday, May 25, 2005 12:28:15 AM

Obviously, this arises from WeatherBug software, but I wonder what threat, exactly, they're alerting me too. I already know it's ad-supported: that's one of the requirements to running the program.

I saw the final installment of Star Wars, Revenge of the Sith on Saturday, and I'll note that while it was technically good, the film's feel was somewhat amiss, particularly since some scenes, such as Anakin's crossover to the dark side, felt rushed, and even forced.

I caught a couple of surprises, though, and for those I'm grateful.

The ending battle scene between the newly-formed Darth Vader and Obi-Wan is totally outrageous, even for two accomplished Jedis. Come on, George, I know you wanted to go for tension, but the scene was so laughable as to be anti-climatic.

And so tomorrow it begins, this moment we stalwart Lost fans have been waiting for: the season finale.

I can only hope that it brings with it some definitive answers to at least the following:

* a portion of Locke's relationship to the island
* Walt's powers
* the hatch
* the French lady's intentions
* "the others"
* last, but not least, who can forget the "numbers"? (4,8,15,16,23,42)

The monster, quite frankly, I don't care about. I have my own ideas, rather; he is an electronic fabrication of some man-made sort.

It's quite hard to fathom that in all of my high school and college years (including this past semester), I've never yet stopped to do the traditional brainstorming for any of my research papers.

When I say traditional, I am speaking of answering pivotal questions and then turning those answers into the form of an essay outline. I have never done this, instead only listing (in no particular order) the points which I then proceed to flesh out in argument form in my paper.

This has served me fairly well thus far, but it always feels like a rushed hack (and indeed it most likely is), so this summer I'm making a conscious effort to learn valuable organizational skills.

To this end, I've rediscovered a book my now retired Professor Harrington gave me last summer during my W231 Professional Writing Skills class:

A Writer's Reference (Amazon link, Official book companion website), Fifth Edition, by the late Diana Hacker.

I seem to have a habit lately of expecting too much of the books I read: that they be literate, fun to read, and above all, well-written.

My latest read, The Rule of Four, is no exception.

Honestly, I should avoid books that utter Dan Brown and Umberto Eco in the same breath, since the latter is smarter than a whip, and a better author than Dan Brown, to boot.

The Rule of Four offers so little in the way of examining the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili that my distaste vexes me.

Verizon DSL has now dropped their Level 3 peering, which is a bad thing for me.

Their NEW peering looks like this:

Control of approx 4,244,496 IP addresses (0.28%) in 240 groups
Issuer of approx 170,444 IP addresses (4.02%)
96 peers total (0.29%) (17 leaves)

96 peers _only_, compared to Level 3's 1,213 peers:

Control of approx 44,312,097 IP addresses (2.96%) in 479 groups
Issuer of approx 892,910 IP addresses (2.02%)
1,213 peers total (3.70%) (101 leaves)

So, you're rolling your eyes and asking me, "Hammer, what difference does that make?"

The answer is simple: Every time I send traffic out to a host that's NOT peered in Verizon's puny 96-peer list, it has to find a suitable peer in the aforementioned list and send it through there, instead.

Example: I download something that's hosted by a company connected to an ATT backbone. Because Verizon doesn't peer directly with ATT, I have to go through the nearest neighbor, which is Qwest, and who adds 4 hops to the total path.

This adds around 5-7 hops on average, each 20-30ms to respond to PING ICMP requests. I'm not sure yet how that translates to my online gaming, but I'll soon find it out.

Sigh. I hate Verizon.

1. It is hollow.

2. Moving on land.

3. The baby has it.

4. The box in the galley

5. Groups of three.

6. Under water, to save him.

These 6 answers have been posted to The Fuselage without questions.


MCI's press release about their acquisition by Verizon is, I hope, final:

MCI Receives Increased Offer From Verizon And MCI Board Concludes It Is Superior

Because Verizon is my local telco and only possible DSL provider, I hope that this merger goes through.

Currently, my DSL (DNS and long-haul WAN traffic) goes through Level3's network.

With this buyout, Verizon would then use their newly-acquired native MCI network.

Level 3: The network spans 23,000 intercity route miles and delivers services to customers in major markets across the United States and Europe.

MCI: Our 98,000-mile fiber optic network is designed to support the largest array of data communications and voice products in the world.

But 'route miles' don't tell me much. I'm more concerned about latency. It would be great if MCI had some sort of BGP4 optimization akin to what Internap and Savvis do (and what RouteScience did before being bought out by Avaya). BGP4, by default, only cares about the # of AS hops, thus ignoring ping times, network brownouts, etc.

Currently, to Chicago, and even some California servers, I get <50ms ping times, which is pretty good.

On a whim, I decided to check out The Rule of Four from my library a few weeks back. Now that I'm done with school until the fall semester, I figured I'd start reading it.

I'm disappointed. The comparison on the back jacket cover to Umberto Eco isn't apt, but in the same breath its comparison to Dan Brown definitely is -- the former being cerebral, the latter being pulpy.

The writing is good (by this I mean accessible) -- both authors are ivy-league graduates: one from Princeton, the other from Harvard -- but its size, a scant 384 pages, doesn't allow it to become anything other than a beach book.

A while back, I emailed the folks at Everyones Internet (sic) and let them know that their company name was grammatically incorrect.

(If it's not obvious to you, shame on you!)

"Thank you for the correction!" was all of the reply that I received, and when I replied asking, "In light of this correction, will you now change it to be correct?", I received no response.

Lost had better -- in its season finale -- reveal _something_ about that blasted hatch, the monster, the transmission, and the significance of Clair's baby, otherwise it will lose viewers _fast_.

New ABC shows coming for the Fall 2005 season: Invasion:

"Veteran Writer/Producer Shaun Cassidy, and celebrated Director Thomas Schlamme (The West Wing) bring you the suspenseful tale of a blended family that finds itself at the center of a conspiracy designed to mask an alien takeover that is happening one neighbor at a time."


Night Stalker

" There are things in the dark, things adults deny but children are right to fear�

When a pregnant woman is snatched from her home, the shocked citizens of L.A. believe it's an act of domestic violence. But crime reporter Carl Kolchak suspects that the truth is far more complicated. That's because 18 months ago, Kolchak's wife was killed in a bizarre fashion and he has been the FBI's #1 suspect ever since.

Kolchak's determination to find out the truth behind his wife's mysterious murder has led him to investigate other crimes that seem to have some kind of supernatural component. But he's trying to piece together a puzzle that keeps changing its shape. Who or what is committing these crimes? How are they all related? And why do some victims end up with a strange red mark on their hands in the shape of a snake? With sidekick Perri Reed, a sexy if skeptical fellow reporter in tow, Kolchak will go to any lengths to answer these questions. But when he does discover the truth � will anyone believe him?"

Interesting, but I wonder if either show will actually make it. Sometimes they rush these shows based on previous successes like Lost.

It's absolutely atrocious writing like this that makes me thankful I have a good, basic English education:

"In the beginning when the one guy slides all the way down the tunnel after being chased by the Predators he is absolutely covered with ice and snow. Well a Predator walks right up to him and kills him. Going according to Predator logic shouldnt this not be so. Like in the first Predator movie Arnold finds himself covered with mud, thus decreasing his body tempature output and the Predator can not seem him, since they only see by heatvision. So according to that logic, in the movie Alien vs Predator with the above example the Predators instead of killing the guy should have just walked by him since he was covered in ice and snow and thus his body tempature output would have been lowered enough to where the Predators cannot see him."

Finished up this Spring 2005 semester with a 4.0 GPA -- my first ever throughout my entire academic history.

I'm not tooting my own horn; I put lots of work into this semester, and I hope to do nearly as well next semester, though Second-Year Spanish may end all of that.

Fox has another cool new show coming up:

Prison Break

Stress. Is. Gone.

Finished last final exam today and turned in my English paper. Feels really great. When I came home, I went for an hour-long bike ride and then ate at Burger King afterwards. All in all, a great day.

Received an A in American History II and an A in Exercusions in Mathematics.

Still waiting on my Spanish and English final grades.

When you see this instead of your episode description, you can safely bet your favorite show is in serious trouble:

The next episode has not yet been scheduled.

You can get a virtual tour of my college campus here. It's Java-based, if that makes a difference...

Check it out!

It's our very own Hyatt in Wikipedia!

Tomorrow's a brand-spanking new episode of Lost, but it's also the day before my Math final and my English paper is due. I sense that Lost will win, and cause me pain for school, but I really shouldn't let it. That show is pure gold. Best show I've seen since Push, Nevada. Probably even better, but I don't know what the 'catch' of the island is, yet. Will we ever know? I sure hope so.

I saw Constantine tonight.

Keanu Reeves was his typical brooding, mumbling, vapid self. Couldn't tell if that was his character, but I doubt it really matters.

At least Rachel Weisz is easy on the eyes...

stephend: Keanu, congratulations. You've starred in yet another action movie.
keanu: uh, thanks. It took a lot, I mean, yeah, it was...hard work, and very, uh, rewarding? something like that.

AOL's blocking mechanisms/lists frustrate me no end.

I found a great history article today on America during the 1930s that I attempted to send -TO- my email account -FROM- my email account, and I received the following error:

The original message was received at Mon, 2 May 2005 20:50:54 -0500 (EST)
from []

----- The following addresses had permanent fatal errors -----

(reason: 554-: (HVU:B1)

----- Transcript of session follows -----
... while talking to

>>>>>> DATA

<<< 554-: (HVU:B1)
554 5.0.0 Service unavailable

So I clicked on their postmaster link, contacted them, and got an error message on trying to reach them.

Here's the kicker: they blocked my complaint message, too.

What a joke. Get with it, AOL.

One of the best Alice in Chains songs ever -- "Rain When I Die":

Is she ready to know my frustration?
What she slippin� inside, slow castration
I�m a riddle so strong, you can�t break me
Did she come here to try, try to take me

Did she call my name?
I think it�s gonna rain
When I die

Was it something I said, held against me?
Ain�t no life on the run, slowly climbing
Caught in ice so she stares, stares at nothing
I can help her but won�t, now she hates me

She won�t let me hide
She don�t want me to cry

Will she keep on the ground, trying to ground me
Slowly forgive my lie, lying to save me
Could she love me again, or will she hate me
Prob�ly not, I know why, can�t explain me

I hope the Lost writers don't reveal too much in the season finale; there's nothing worse than having a great show like this ruined by too much knowledge. At the same time, of course, there's a fine balance to be drawn between intrigue and frustration: if there are too many questions unanswered constantly, the audience will drift.

I have a sneaking suspicion that the plot is something akin to Push, Nevada's. In Push, Nevada, the whole place was a setup for an advertising firm, not that I think it'll turn out to be advertising research, naturally. I think the island is for military/scientific research of some sort, and various aspects support this:

* The island has power
* There are whispers in the woods that have been heard by both Sayid and Sawyer, and these whispers sound like a 'collective'
* The hatch (its very presence suggests something military)

These are weak, I know, but I'm looking forward to the tidbits they throw us here and there.

Finally, it's gone:

C:\Documents and Settings\Stephen Donner>tracert
Unable to resolve target system name

C:\Documents and Settings\Stephen Donner>nslookup
*** Can't find server name for address Non-existent domain
*** Default servers are not available
Server: UnKnown

*** No address (A) records available for

I'm growing tremendously tired of the rigors of a college education, particularly since that requires 2 full years of a foreign language.

Lest you snicker, this isn't the high-school variant, where you can learn perhaps 50-60 vocabularly words per semester, get extra credit like nobody's business, and ask your neighbor for help while the dinosaur of a teacher steps out for 5 minutes to take a couple of drags.

No, this is college. A commuter college, too, which means everybody pretty much leaves campus as soon as their classes are over. Makes it hard to find study partners, and even harder to gain a semblance of community.

Getting tired of school, and really missing meaningful work (not to mention the chance to earn some real money).

Wondering now if I'll make it through this last year-and-a-half. The answer's probably yes, but I'll have outburts of extreme discontent with the curriculum, no doubt.

(I can so hear mscott and kerz saying "I told you so", but this _is_ worth it to me, for personal accomplishment only.)

That is all.

This article is a terrifying thing:

A girl ran around poking people with her mom's diabetic needle, and gave the HIV virus to another girl. So, so sad. At school.

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