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No more comics (1) Wed, May 31, 2006
I've decided to do away with the comics section of my website.  It's sort of a pain in the butt and I don't feel like figuring out how to make it work on my new server.  In its place, I would recommend signing up for an account at Bloglines and subscribing to Dilbert, Get Fuzzy, Foxtrot, and Pearls Before Swine.  It's simple and free, and it doesn't involve me. #technology

Photography Wed, May 31, 2006
I've come to the conclusion that there are 3 main things I like to photograph:  plants, animals, and signs. 

I like taking pictures of plants and flowers because they're simple and beautiful.  There's just something cool about a perfectly symmetrical leaf or a brightly colored blossom.  And plants are easy:  They don't move around or talk.  They're posing all the time. Plus, I've been noticing that there's a huge difference in foliage when traveling to different parts of the country.  Northern NJ just doesn't have the same kind of plants as Southern California.  But the Caribbean doesn't have trees that change color. 

Animals and bugs are a little bit harder because they have a tendency to move around.  Every once in a while, I'll find a simple little creature that stays motionless for long enough for me to get a nice closeup.  Plus, it's cool to see scary bugs really close up.  But instead of sticking my face all up in their business, I use my camera. 

Signs are sort of overdone and can be a little stupid, but some of them just need to be seen to be believed.  Telling somebody that there's a sign in an airport that points to a "teminal" just isn't as effective as actually seeing the picture. 

I don't really like taking pictures of people because people have a strange tendency to feign happiness or excitement when a camera is pointing at them.  The fact is, people aren't smiling all the time.  So pictures that show a bunch of people smiling are a bit misleading.  Small people (i.e. babies) are hard to photograph because they're always moving around and putting things in their nose and mouth (while things are simultaneously coming out of said orifices).  So those pictures are usually blurry and/or embarrassing (and should be saved for later use in blackmailing). 

I find it difficult to take good pictures of big things like skylines and mountains.  Maybe it's because I use a tiny little camera with 3x optical zoom.  But maybe it's because it's hard to fit such a big view into such a small picture.  My pictures of views just don't do the views justice. #entertainment

Moved Wed, May 31, 2006
As a followup to my recent hosting issues, I just finished moving everything to the new server and setting things up.  There are still a few more issues that need to be fixed, but overall, things look good. #technology

Worst tech product Tue, May 30, 2006
This PCWorld article is about the 25 worst tech products of all time.  I find it a bit funny that the top worst tech product ever is AOL.  Despite making some recent improvements, "it has never overcome the stigma of being the online service for people who don't know any better."  I've had a few thoughts on AOL in the past, and even though I've never been an official subscriber, I still maintain curiously strong opinions about it. #technology

Fitness beer Tue, May 30, 2006
One thing I don't fully understand is why Michelob Ultra is marketed as a fitness drink.  All the commercials show people running and working out and then later loading up on this light beer.  It's beer, not Gatorade.  Who drinks beer after they go running?  C'mon. 

For the record, Michelob Ultra has 96 calories and 2.9 grams of carbs.  Miller Lite:  96/3.2.  Bud Light:  110/6.6.  Amstel Light:  95/8.  Guinness:  130/10. #food

Dollar spider Tue, May 30, 2006
Some guy wrote a little tutorial on how to make a spider out of dollar bills. 

He's also got a bunch of other cool dollar bill creations.  (via Digg) #technology

Paying for internet Mon, May 29, 2006
Building off my previous post, I have to agree with Jason Kottke's post on paying for hotel internet access (link to New York Times article).  I think this is another case of self-perpetuation.  Money is needed in order to pay for the money-collecting mechanism. 

Why do hotels charge money for internet access?  Considering the fact that something like 97% of the people that stay in hotels on any given night are business travelers, shouldn't hotels offer business tools?  And even if they're not business travelers, should normal people be paying the extra $9.95 per day to be able to access the internet when they're already paying $100-$150 to sleep in a bed and use a bathroom?  It wouldn't be that bad if the cost was included in the price of the room.  I'm already paying $100 to sleep in a mediocre bed; go ahead and charge me $110 but include the internet connection in the price.  My company won't reimburse me for an internet connection fee.  They won't care about a more expensive room. #technology

Self-perpetuation (5) Sun, May 28, 2006
I've come across a few jobs lately that serve no identifiable purpose other than self-perpetuation. 

I went to the dirty Jersey Shore today.  There was a girl at the entrance to the beach that wouldn't let me enter unless I paid.  Despite my livid objection, I paid.  But when I thought about it, I noticed it was a little strange that I paid $7 in order to gain access to a public beach.  With this $7, I got a fancy little wrist band, and I was later told that I could now use the public bathrooms (other than the ocean ... ha ... everybody does it).  I figure this girl made about $6-7 per hour, and there were probably about 20 of these people working at any given time.  There are probably a few levels of managers above this girl that coordinate who's working what day and where.  And there are probably a few other people who decide how much to charge and the legal ramifications of charging money to use God's green earth.  And let's not forget the cost of those bracelets!  So basically, my money went to furthering the collection of my money.  My money ensured that this girl would be there the next day in order to take somebody else's money.  My money was being taken because without it, the whole system would fail, and it would be a shame to use a natural resource without the exchange of currency. 

(I know there's some Jersey Shore jerk out there who wants to say, "That money goes to paying the lifeguards and buying new pieces of beach combing equipment".  To that I say, "Shut up jerks.  Nobody likes the Jersey Shore.  The only reason we keep going back is because we remember having a good time there once when we were 7.  We're continually hoping to relive that experience, and we're also continually let down by your overcrowded beaches and your archaic toll roads.") #business

Hosting issues Fri, May 26, 2006

I've seen this error quite a few times when trying to access my site lately.  Basically, it means that the MySQL server went down and needs to be rebooted (I think), though the rest of the web server is fine.  This wouldn't be a problem if my site didn't rely on MySQL, but since it's powered by WordPress, it's a big problem.  I've had some server problems in the past, but I thought things got fixed.  While I love my free web host, I'm not a fan of downtime.  And I can't really blame JD (the owner/admin/guru) because this isn't his full-time job.  Heck, this isn't his job at all.  He does it for free.  He was a full-time law student for a while, though he just graduated.  So I can't really get mad when the server goes down. 

And that's why I'm moving to a paid host.  I started thinking about it a while ago, but decided against it because I felt I could handle a little downtime in exchange for a free service.  But several times recently, my site has been down, and it's been down for hours at a time.  And if it's down when I check it (during the day, middle of the week), it could be down at night or over the weekend and I would have no idea.  And ironically, as I submitted a payment for hosting this morning, I tried to access my site and it was down.  So while I like free stuff, I feel the need to move on.  And like all things, this will be another experiment to see how things go.  If I don't like it or if I don't like paying, I'll probably change things around again. 

So as I move everything to a new server, you really shouldn't notice anything different, except that there won't be much (if any) downtime.  That's the plan anyway.  And for my future reference, check out MySiteSpace or TotalChoice if Dreamhost isn't good. #technology

The Da Vinci Debacle Fri, May 26, 2006
In January of 2005, I read a book that presented a bunch of arguments against the Da Vinci Code.  A year and 4 months later, I actually read the Da Vinci Code.  I'm completely backward.  I think the book was great:  A great story, a page-turner, easy to read, had short chapters, presented interesting ideas.  And I never read books, let alone fiction.  I'd like to see the movie too, though I've heard it got bad reviews. 

Without getting into the nitty gritty, I have two main objections to the book as a whole: 

1.  Primary effect.  I think that a certain percentage of people that read the book or see the movie (maybe 20%) will believe everything in the book as if it were pure fact.  They won't question where the facts came from.  They won't investigate on their own.  They'll accept what it says and use it to develop their own continually changing worldview.  These people probably didn't believe in Christianity to begin with, so the book was just icing on the cake.  It presented a few good ideas that could easily prove the absolute fallibility of Christianity. 

2.  Secondary effect.  I think the other 80% of people will understand that the book is fiction, so they'll read it as a work of fiction.  They might be unsure of the existence of Jesus' ancestors, but they don't see it as a bad thing if his ancestors actually did exist.  And while all the right-wing sword-toting Christians (I'm one of them, minus the sword) systematically disprove every argument against Christianity in the book, the book will serve a much less obvious purpose:  Raising doubt.  Whether or not Jesus was married isn't the issue.  The issue is whether or not the church might have possibly withheld information over the course of 19 centuries to make us believe something that wasn't completely true.  The issue is the idea that a secret society knows some things that would knock religion on its butt, and if these things were made known publicly, the entire world would be changed. 

So I think it has less to do with the actual content of the book and more to do with the general idea.  If Christianity was disproved (some think it already has been, even without the Da Vinci Code), it would open the door for other religions to be disproved.  And I think this would make certain people happy. #religion

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