MySpace Idiocy

Not that I really expect more out of a site like MySpace, but as it seems to be ever more a necessary social evil these days, I have a profile there. Anyway, I want to add my University of Toronto time to my profile for networking purposes, but the only school it will allow is “University of Toronto Schools” which is a real institution that is NOT the same as the actual University of Toronto.

I first noticed this almost 2 years ago and submitted the actual University of Toronto as a school, but to no avail. A few months ago I emailed them about it and was told that “they’d look into it” and that in the meantime I should submit the UofT as a school.

A bit of googling and talking to my UofT friends says that most people gave up and just used the UTS school instead, but I’m too stubborn for that.

I’m not even sure why I’m bothering to complain, but it feels good to vent this minor frustration. And yet, MySpace is clearly beneath my 1337ness and I don’t know why I have a profile there to begin with…so torn! 😉

MicroReview: Blood Diamond (2006)

Cass and I went to see Blood Diamond this evening. It was a tossup between that and Casino Royale, but when she heard that the former starred Leonardo, she was significantly more excited about that than about seeing a new Bond who has apparently been referred to as “James Bland.” So Blood Diamond it was.

Violence and misery and hopelessness, oh my. While I’m still trying to digest all of the imagery that I just took in, I have to say that it was certainly one of the best movies I’ve seen in a while. *cough*gotchokedupeven*cough*. I’ve read enough about African-style civil war and conflict diamonds in the past to have an idea of what to expect, but I found myself simply stunned at points by the sheer brutality of the conflict. All I can say is that we in North America have no idea how soft we actually are. And while I realize that Sierra Leone has been relatively peaceful of late, one can’t say the same for Somalia and the Congo* (DRC) so the film’s core issues are still relevant.

Dramatization though it may be, the film’s central question is a challenging one. How can a man commit these sorts of atrocities against his brother – and by extension, how can we do things like this to anyone in the family that is humanity? I think I’d like to run with a simple idea from the movie, adapted for my own personal use: TIE. We’re born here, we die here – it’s a fucked up place, but maybe one day we’ll prove that we can make something better out of it (and ourselves in the process).

This is Earth.

* Note that cassiterite and coltan (columbite-tantalite) are both used in much the same way as diamonds, being sold illicitly to fund weapons and supplies for ongoing wars. Coltan apparently is used in capacitors and there is suggestion that Western consumer electronics may contain such “conflict goods.” Apparently other things are smuggled as well, such as timber. Still, nothing is so especially galling as diamonds, especially when you can get perfectly good man-made diamonds which are molecularly and chemically indistinguishable from “the real thing” by any means other than their sheer perfection.

MicroReview: Equilibrium

A couple of nights ago I had the opportunity to watch Kurt Wimmer’s Equilibrium, which has been on my buy/rent/download list for a year now. I wasn’t disappointed. This film definitely goes on my list of favorites both for the amazing action and the stark aesthetic.

Funny enough, I’d actually say this movie has surplanted The Matrix in my list of favorites. Where The Matrix gets almost silly (“We all mentally live in a giant computer!” “Little scorpion tracking bugs will crawl into your stomach!” “You have the power to change reality!”), Equilibrium sticks to a gritty version of reality where the future just means more advanced bullet-firing guns and taking your feel-nothing drug three times a day like a good drone. The aesthetic of the film tracks the protagonist’s journey from cold killer to heart-led rebel and the cool monotone at the start is gradually replaced by warmer color, not the least of which is freshly spilled blood. Rather than altering or withdrawing from reality, Equilibrium proposes going deeper into the one we have.

If you at all liked The Matrix or you are a fan of dystopian stories, you owe it to yourself to see this film. You’ll be wondering by the end why Christian Bale was not cast as Neo instead of Keanu Reeves.

MicroReview: Ian Irvine’s A Shadow On The Glass

I picked up this book recently since I have no major epic fantasy or sci fi series on my reading list at the moment, and thought maybe it would be worth a shot. The short of it? An interesting world, neat quirks and abilities, and such poorly written characterization that the story was painful. It resulted in a lot of stop-and-start reading until I finally took a couple of hours Saturday and finished it.

While I am definitely curious to know what happens to Karan, Llian, and the others, especially given the infuriatingly confusing ending (I read it three times, looked up spoilers online, read it again, and finally had to read the first chapter of the next book to understand what happened), I’m not sure I can sit through more pages of stilted dialogue, wooden characters, and predictable actions for another three novels in the main sequence. My verdict? Save your money, or pick it up at a used bookstore if you ever see it there.

Nate Tranced on MySpace

As I’ve occasionally intimated, I have been dabbling in music of various sorts for quite a few years. Recently I picked up the habit again, making mostly trance-influenced stuff. This evening, I took the leap and made a MySpace profile for a couple of my songs, since they get the joy of providing bandwidth and a media player that generally works cross-browser.

If you’re interested in hearing some home-brewed trance, influenced by the likes of ATB, Armin van Buuren, IIO, Oceanlab, and others (albeit instrumental for now), check out the profile at and see what you think. Enjoy!

Final Dvorak Update

So it’s been about five weeks now since I switched to Dvorak at home. I’m up to 56 WPM now, at 82% accuracy. I’m not going to bother posting any more updates on this topic – the remaining speed and accuracy will require many hours of instant messaging to develop, as did my QWERTY skills when I was first really learning that layout. Switching back and forth between the two layouts is now nearly painless – I have a minute of confusion or so, and then my brain is fine again.

All in all, it’s been a fun time and I have a new skill now. Definitely worth it.

Silly Tech Tip Of The Week: Linux, DNS, and DHCP

If you are running Linux and you change from a DHCP setup to a static IP address on your local network, and then at some future time your ISP changes your external IP address and your internet slows to a crawl, you might find it useful to know that your resolv.conf file probably contains the old DNS entries set up back when you were using DHCP. It’s a simple matter to change it, but knowing the problem is 99% of this battle. Maybe this will help someone else out there some day who wonders why a Windows box on the same network is chugging along happily but your Linux box is choking. Happy surfing!

Dvorak Update

So it’s been just over a week since I switched to Dvorak on my laptop. I still use QWERTY on some other systems, so I’m trying to maintain both.

I have to say that the Dvorak layout is MUCH more comfortable and logical. QWERTY feels completely arbitrary and distinctly unbalanced to the left in comparison. I may have lost 5 wpm on my (considerable) QWERTY speed in the last week, but I’m up to 39wpm on Dvorak already. My accuracy is a bit low (~75%) at the moment, but it will improve. I estimate a month to be fully up to speed, perhaps a bit more.

Overall, I can already say that the Dvorak layout is worth the initial frustration. Your hands definitely appreciate not doing the frantic, left-heavy tarantella of QWERTY. And switching back and forth from QWERTY to Dvorak on the fly isn’t nearly as difficult as some people have made it out to be. If you have some patience and a slow week, it’s worth a try.

I should mention that I am using a plain old QWERTY keyboard, and I haven’t re-labelled my keys. I think this has actually sped up the learning process, as I couldn’t cheat and look at the keys so I’ve touch-typed Dvorak from Day 1. It makes the first day or two more painful, but I think it’s worth considering.

(Typed on Dvorak, in considerably less time than last week’s post.)

It’s 2am I must be…

Oh wait, that’s a lie. I’m far too narcissistic to be lonely. *halo*

What I apparently am is a bit insane, though. I have finally made my long-intended switch to the Dvorak keyboard layout these 24 hours. So far it’s mostly maddening, as it’s dropped my near-120wpm typing rate down to a paltry 25wpm or so. What that means is that you, my humble reader, should appreciate the effort it takes me to type these very words.

In other news, I watched (and enjoyed greatly) the 2nd Pirates movie. The beginning didn’t much impress me, but by the end I was engrossed and lost track of time. A movie I do not regret watching, to be sure.

And in other, other news, my motivation level has reached its perennial low, and I am in the process of bringing my last vestiges of willpower to bear with hopes of wrapping my third novel up in the next month. Wish me luck, Gentle Reader!

(p.s. If I seem drunkened with sleepiness, it’s because I am. Forgive, forgive, forgive!)