Thursday, January 31, 2008

On the coattails of a dead man

This doesn't happen to me often. I worked on a machine today that belonged to a dead man.

A new guy is due to receive this box. I'm tasked with blowing it away and prepping a nice and fresh new machine for the new user. It's an odd feeling to look at someone's machine, seeing a list of "to do" items that will never get done, to look over the quirks of the system that they put up with, to wonder at why they organized things they did, to contemplate unread emails and incomplete letters. How deeply can one investigate at a system while still respecting a stranger?

It's eerie, and somehow very personal.

A roommate of a friend of mine once asked me about recovering data. After a few questions, it came out that her brother killed himself, and she wanted to look at his past doings in an effort to understand.

A story a few years back covered a family trying to convince Yahoo! to release the email password of a dead vet, before they deleted the account and the years of personal history that it contained.

Lifehacker has a few things to say about handling your online life after you die.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Killer Amazon Feature

Let's say you're not a mouth-breathing unevolved prole and you like to read books for pleasure. Let's also say you're savvy enough to use this series of tubes to exchange money for books across long distances and eventually have a man in a brown uniform give you a professionally-packaged cardboard box full of your purchases.

If you do any amount of reading at all, you like used books; If you do any amount of online shopping at all, you like to save on shipping.

I want to go to an online retailer and say, "Sell me this, this, and this and this. I expect to pay around the average price for X quality book; you, computer, figure out which respected online vendor has all or most of what I want to buy!"

There's no need to use human brain power to sort through the used-book vendors on Amazon and see which of dozens of poorly-remembered vendor names have the titles you want. Yes, I know this is non-trivial. But damn, people- it's not that hard to search for multiple items across multiple sellers.

I want this.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Food envy, defined

"When you eat and you look at other diners' plates with lust and longing, that's food envy. When you actually dip your fork into their plates, that's envy indulged." — Lee I.

What can I say? It's a genetic condition. I get it from my mother.

Last night, I had a barbecue chicken pizza poboy- basically two french bread pizzas with bits of sweet-tangy BBQ chicken and sauce openfaced, with a nice and crisp fuji apple. It was mas delicioso! Earlier in the week, I had a great spinach salad from a little place around the corner from work: Spinach and a house-made vinaigrette with goat cheese, beets, mandarin oranges, pecans, and pieces of bacon with a giant hunk of we-made-it-here-cause-we're-a-bakery fresh baguette.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Winter-een-mas, Mardi Gras

Hello and happy Winter-een-mas, the best gaming holiday you've never heard of.

W-E-M is the last week of January, the 25th through the 31st. Originally a video-gaming only holiday, it's really more accurate to say that it's a celebration of gaming and people who game.

This WEMas, I want to get in more gaming than usual. I want to play a different kind of game each day. Tonight, I played some board games: Ricochet Robots, Manhattan, and Hey That's My Fish. What about the rest of the week? Video games? Sportings games? Invented games? Imaginary games?

Oh, and don't forget: it's Carnival season! Mardi Gras is super early this year, falling on February 5th. Don't forget: Mardi Gras itself is the last day of the holiday, so don't show up and expect fun things to happen on Wednesday. Show up the week before and leading up to Mardi Gras; come spend your money. "New Orleans: closer than Rio!"

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Bobby Fischer is dead

How troubling that a true chess genius died at only sixty-four (coincidence?) and that the end of his life so wrought with madness and taint. I'm suddenly reminded of Alexander, weeping for he had no worlds left to conquer. I expect to see chess solved within my lifetime.

It's cold and raining where I am now. I just ate half of a dry cheese sandwich. Earlier today I read Cormac McCarthy's The Road; bleak and moving, Pulitzer or no.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

How things are doing down here

Chris Rose, a local columnist for the Times-Picayune, has a good article written with the mindset after a trip to Seattle. He saw a post-Katrina play, got to talk with some folks, and got asked the famous question: So, how's New Orleans these days? I usually answer non-natives with an optimistic "Could be better, could be worse; in some places, it's like the storm never happened. In others, it's like it happened yesterday." For me, yesterday I walked back from lunch and I passed a house that looked like it needed to be gutted. The National Guard's still-visible searching glyph had a zero in the bottom of the X: no corpses found. But spray-painted over that zero was a two.

If you want some numbers on how many people are back, the Picayune can help you again. The best numbers evidently come from households receiving mail, itself an interesting data collection point. Short answer? Around 80%, give or take.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

A friend's ghost library

My friend Peggy has a few thoughts on lost books due to Katrina.

I've got this shared up on my RSS shared feed, but I keep turning over the image of ghost books in my head. Practically, I know that the wiping of so many physical objects is a cruel crude effective de-cluttering tool. Missing books, by and large, are a problem that you can solve with enough money.

But a book is more than the words inside. You pick it up, and your fingers remember the crease of the pages, or that typo, or the mis-cut paper on page 105. You start to think about when you purchased it, and where you've taken it, and who you knew when you last read it. A book persists.

But the ghost of a book? Gaiman's Sandman series posits the Library of Dream, the place where you can find every book never written.

Do books have an afterlife?

Saturday, January 12, 2008


I start work at NOCCA this Monday!

Computer support at this point, but who knows if it'll turn into the opportunity to teach the didj or game design?

Friday, January 11, 2008

Quickies and Quotes.

Today's A.Word.A.Day (cat's paw) had this quote, which seems very fitting for post-birthday contemplation:

It is not how old you are, but how you are old. —Jules Renard, writer

Bruce Schneier argues that you should leave your wireless unencrypted:
To me, it's basic politeness. Providing internet access to guests is kind of like providing heat and electricity, or a hot cup of tea. But to some observers, it's both wrong and dangerous.

Yehuda laments random combat in board games, and ponders how to fix it. Interestingly, he provided a few solutions to rejuvenate games a little over a year ago:
Alternately, you may be able to buy enhancing strength points. When conflict occurs, each player decides how many points to add to the conflict, and the higher value wins. You can have the attacking player decide first, and then the defending player, or you can have both sides choose secretly. You can also opt to allow uninvolved players to toss strength onto either side of the battle.
(NB, this conflict system is akin to Shazamm [BGG, BUY ME!] [itself similar to an older game called Footprints or Quo Vadis {BGG, OOP}], but I think that his game as mentioned might do better with a card system borrowed from Dungeon Twister [BGG, BUY ME!].)

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Happy Mischamas

A buddy of mine wished me a "happy Mischamas." How did you celebrate?

Some very good things happened today. Least of all food and presents, moreso hearing from my family and friends.

Indulging in some over-the-top chocolate ice cream, peanut butter, fudge, and brownie didn't hurt. Getting two more discs of Lost from the Netflix fairy is bonus. I plan to get some more Mario Galaxy done later tonight.

Tomorrow is game night.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

New Resolutions (a series in parts)

Pay off my credit card by year's end.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008


Pressure. Allergies. Meh.

Games a-plenty: Super Mario Galaxy for the Wii, Master of Magic for a DOS emulator, and a word game old enough to vote from the thrift store for a dollar.

Happy birthday, Elvis.

Mine is Thursday.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Five and Dimes

A good number of folks out there log the board games they play and when. I started doing so in Septemberish of 2006; this is the first year I have enough data to talk meaningfully about a year of games. It's tough being blonde.

It's a "five and dime" list because you only talk about games you've played more than five times (ten, twenty-five, fifty).

You can see what I've played via a custom query over on BGG.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

News of the morbid

Maybe we've been watching too much CSI lately, but this story about finding an infant skeleton in a suitcase seems like a television plot-of-the-week.

UPDATE: Updated findings from a pathologist.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Last move

Yehuda points the way to a moving recounting of someone's last game of chess.

I don't have the words.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Day 365

Fire. Food. Friends. Fun.

Happy New Year!