Ignorant Bliss

I've become redundant in some of my posts so my prolific streak is officially over. Anyway, I remember as a kid constantly hearing "You aren't reaching your potential" Teachers, parents all in consensus about my odd behavior. Now that I understand that my infintesimaly short attention span is to blame I feel like I have a new sense of direction. I've finally figured out why I need to become successful; it's not so I can buy things, my worldly needs are limited to a few high tech gadgets, it's so I can work less and pursue my real interests.

I'd like to teach more. I have a class teaching kids from a high school how to use computers. I read their anonymous class reviews after my favorite group was done and got a little misty eyed. I guess you could say it's very gratifying. My writing is going to become a little less exciting as I age, for instance, in an interview with the lead singer of the band Tool who now has a wife and kid he said "It's hard to be angry your entire life". Anger and passion are almost synonymous and passion makes for good writing. Is happiness boring or am I just looking for excuses to prolong my self pity?

Speaking of happiness, here is a photo of me in NY with a drunk girl napping on me. I think I was petting her hair, anyway, that's not the point, the point is that I have a rare goofy smile on my face. In spite of my
borderline alcohol poisoning and sleep deprivation I managed to find a moment of happiness. Now where do I find a girl like that in San Diego? Maybe that's why I feel the pull of the East coast.

Speaking of real interests, our posse of car enthusiasts, mechanical and software engineers and 3D mesh gurus is proud to present the first working version of our simulator to the world at large. It's for Windows and you need to download two files here and here. Make sure you have data, doc and bin all in the same place. Steer with the 5 and 6 or arrow keys. The attached picture has a modified truck suspension which makes for better wrecks.


Religitics in Vegas

I just got back from Vegas, I was talking politics with the bachelor, drinking tequila and coffee, eating a waffle and watching the sun rise through the smokey haze of the casino lobby. The couple next to us was sitting there with their kid looking at us like we were complete savages. We were discussing the correlation between American conservatism and belief in god. I had the idea that because a lot of liberals don't believe in god (at least compared to conservatives) they turn to the govenment to regulate society instead. While I see a lot of liberal ideas as economically impractical it doesn't mean that I think the goals are bad. I need to look into the wealth divide some more.

Talking to the vegas locals, it seems that while they have almost unlimited freedom, the town wears on them. The bibles in the hotel dressers in Vegas are page turners. I'm never going to believe in an old bearded caucasian in the sky, watching as the world falls to pieces. Don't get me wrong, I'd give at least one big toe to be able to accept faith and believe that there is peace and justice and eternal bliss is some well catered afterlife but I just can't accept that notion, it seems like the ultimate injustice to everybody but myself.

So as a 26 year old I'm reaching the point where I have to make some serious decisions. I recognize that the world is injust and largely dysfunctional and so I'm breaking it down like this. Marriage can turn out to be a disaster, for a lot of reasons. So before I jump into it I need to figure out why I'd take the leap in the first place. My weekend in Vegas gave me some perspective. Is life too difficult to make it alone? Is the point to find someone and trade help? I mean that in the sense that nobody is perfect so if you find someone with an equal amount of dysfunction you can both work on the problems and offer support without judgement and maybe enjoy the journey, die happy?

I prefer company, maybe it's one of the few good things that have been drilled into humanity by millions of years of evolution. Hunger, lust, lonliness, thirst are all just different flavors of the same thing; amoral needs until fairly recently. I was thinking of behavior like this, some moral actions come from instinct but instinct usually leads to bad decisions in a society where ethics are based on rational thought. So most moral actions are based on rational thought. So isn't lifelong guilt inevitable given our place in evolution. We have a brain just big enough to realize that we're far from perfect but we still have a big enough part of our brain dedicated to impulse to make our lives a constant battle between rational thought and impulse. So I guess ignorance is bliss, especially when ignorant about our own behavior. I need to look at the relationship between ethics and morals.

On two completely unrelated notes. Here are my photos from Manhattan that I promised. Our driving simulator team released a video for the one year anniversary of the idea.


My Big Expensive Toy

If, like me, you have an inexplicable fascination with blinking lights, you can imagine the joy of working at my job. The photo to the right is my Dell rack with somwhere near 20Ghz of processing power at my fingertips. The white thing on top is a wireless access point, we put a hole in the roof and erected a big antenna and broadcast out free Internet access.

But it doesn't stop there. When I come home from work I fiddle with even more wires and buttons and shiny metal objects. I even do side jobs wiring together people's computers and home theater systems. I'm also a racing fanatic, not the NASCAR dad type though. There is something appealing to me about being in a position where there are major consequences for a mistake. It's a way of motivating myself and focusing. For instance, if I procrastinate at work it's a game of finding my limits. How long will it really take me to code this thing. Racing is about finding the limits of your car and your ability. Driving ability is based on reflexes but also on a knowledge of the car, anticipation. It absolutely saturates the senses like few things do. Even skydiving is a fairly thoughtless endeavour in comparison. So I'm taking the things I love and fusing them together. The driving simulator I'm working on draws on my knowledge from software, networking, home theater installs and cars. We're currently having a debate about the best way to optimize online racing. Here is some of the chat log in case you're wondering how games are made.


Kirkwe take different lines through turns but they're just about the same in terms of lap times

STenyaKor we can store the car format in a spacially special way, so that the car rolls out of the truck, with a side-view of it, as the mesh is loaded ;)

KirkHey, we can use haba's wireframe mode

Kirklike the ghost car in rbr

Hesonprogressive mesh, you start the race against a couplöe of shoe boxes and finish against super nice cars...

KirkI was thinking we should have a bandwidth LOD for online racing. You send more position data to the closest cars

STenyaKhmm nice idea


STenyaKpossibly relative to distance and camera view angle

STenyaKcan't remember the technical name


Hesonand more detailed(heavier) prediction on close cars, its not so important if the far cars warp etc.

STenyaKyeah. that's a really good idea, i like it :)

STenyaKmaybe we can extend it to other sytems..

STenyaKlike... err.. well, there isn't much left.AI and sound

STenyaKwe can also compress data of "groups of cars" and send just one position (for packs semi-distant cars in nascar for example)

HesonWhen trying to sleep yesterday I got an idea for a first generation online support for motrosport.

Hesonjust connect to irc and send coordinates to the chat

KirkNow there's an interesting proposition

STenyaKhow many commands would be needed for that?

STenyaKjoin - send messages - quit ?

STenyaKi don't know the irc protocol very well

Hesonnot much more

STenyaKdoes it use compression?


Hesonno compression in irc

Hesonbut we can implement some if we need to send lots of data

STenyaKposition: 32x3, rotation 32x4

STenyaK(or 64 bits each

STenyaK224 bytes per car for upload

STenyaKplus synchronization

Hesonfor a first generation, that might look like the rbr one its enough

Hesonand we can extend it and test concepts,

STenyaKhmm what latency is there in irc, average?

STenyaKi mean, the added latency

Hesonwhen we need to lower latency we keep irc for lobby and move the rest to direct connections

Hesonthe added latency is abut doubled, i think.


My Wacky Brain

I'm 99% sure I have ADD, it's good and bad but I think most people just see me as kind of weird. Anyway, I found some good quotes online by someone with it that explain what it's like:

"Attention Deficit Disorder. First of all I resent the term. As far as I'm concerned most people have Attention Surplus Disorder. I mean, life being what it is, who can pay attention to anything for very long? Is it really a sign of mental health to be able to balance your checkbook, sit still in your chair, and never speak out of turn? As far as I can see, many people who don't have ADD are charter members of the Congenitally Boring."
Amen to that!

"In other ways it's like being super-charged all the time. You get one idea and you have to act on it, and then, what do you know, but you've got another idea before you've finished up with the first one, and so you go for that one, but of course a third idea intercepts the second, and you just have to follow that one, and pretty soon people are calling you disorganized and impulsive and all sorts of impolite words that miss the point completely. Because you're trying really hard. It's just that you have all these invisible vectors pulling you this way and that which makes it really hard to stay on task."
That's an understatement. The point is that I try really hard, it just doesn't look like it.

" Lines. I'm almost incapable of waiting in lines. I just can't wait, you see. That's the hell of it. Impulse leads to action. I'm very short on what you might call the intermediate reflective step between impulse and action. That's why I, like so many people with ADD, lack tact. Tact is entirely dependent on the ability to consider one's words before uttering them. We ADD types don't do this so well. I remember in the fifth grade I noticed my math teacher's hair in a new style and blurted out, "Mr. Cook, is that a toupee you're wearing?" I got kicked out of class. I've since learned how to say these inappropriate things in such a way or at such a time that they can in fact be helpful. But it has taken time. That's the thing about ADD. It takes a lot of adapting to get on in life. But it certainly can be done, and be done very well. "
I don't do lines, I can tolerate drive throughs because I have the radio on. The new self checkout things are the best thing to happen to me in a long time. I was talking to a girl at a bar the other day and she said. "You're weird" I didn't reply but I was thinking, "you're boring".

" Many of us with ADD crave high-stimulus situations. In my case, I love the racetrack. And I love the high-intensity crucible of doing psychotherapy. And I love having lots of people around. Obviously this tendency can get you into trouble, which is why ADD is high among criminals and self-destructive risk-takers. It is also high among so-called Type A personalities, as well as among manic-depressives, sociopaths and criminals, violent people, drug abusers, and alcoholics. But is is also high among creative and intuitive people in all fields, and among highly energetic, highly productive people. "
I think this is why I race my car and have a trunkload of speeding tickets.

"Which is to say there is a positive side to all this. Usually the positive doesn't get mentioned when people speak about ADD because there is a natural tendency to focus on what goes wrong, or at least on what has to be somehow controlled. But often once the ADD has been diagnosed, and the child or the adult, with the help of teachers and parents or spouses, friends, and colleagues, has learned how to cope with it, an untapped realm of the brain swims into view. Suddenly the radio station is tuned in, the windshield is clear, the sand storm has died down. And the child or adult, who had been such a problem, such a nudge, such a general pain in the neck to himself and everybody else, that person starts doing things he'd never been able to do before. He surprises everyone around him, and he surprises himself. I use the male pronoun, but it could just as easily be she, as we are seeing more and more ADD among females as we are looking for it. "
I need to learn to better cope with it.

"What I am saying is that their cognitive style is qualitatively different from most people's, and what may seem impaired, with patience and encouragement may become gifted. "
I'm not normal. I got the gifted label when I was a kid but most people preferred weird. My college philosophy teacher probably had it too because she "got" me. She would constantly ask me to tell the class my opinion on the day's topic. Here's a good way of explaining what it's like. I'd get the best grades on tests in class through high school and college but I'd get a C in the class because I never could finish my homework. I was offered a job by my professor as a Calculus tutor in college even though I had to retake the class. I had to take a remedial art class to have enough credits to graduate from High School which was right next to my advanced placement Government class. I can forget someone's name that I've met 15 times but I know little details about their life. That's all totally counterintuitive but such is my brain.

So I hope those of you that know me that read this understand now a little better where I'm coming from. Read the whole article I was referencing here.


Mini Halo 2 Online Review

I've seen a ton of reviews on Halo 2 but few mention the biggest change made. The online capabilities. Many moons ago I used a laptop and some unofficial software to get Halo working over the Internet. It half worked but since only a small minority of people could figure out how to hook it all up there wasn't a lot of competition. Halo 2 is built for online play... for a price. You have to sign up for Xbox Live to make it work. It's about $50 a year, that's about the price of an Old English 800 and a burrito per month, reasonable. Halo 2 supports progressive scan and widescreen TVs, nice touch. I played Quake 3 a few times and the online audio for Halo2 is lifted, bit for bit from that game. I'm not saying they did it without permission but it is identical.

The menu system to play online is far from intuitive but I suppose that after a few hours it becomes clear. Lag was almost a non-issue, probably because of the gazillion nearby players and possibly because Bungie optimized the online code for more lag / less bandwidth than Halo 1. One ugly feature is the limited options for cooperative play with a friend. They claim that it'll mess up the ranking system if your friend joins as a guest. My thinking is that it's just a sneaky way to encourage people to buy another Xbox live account. It's odd that a feature that worked in Halo1 online is no longer available(though it was unofficial in Halo1).

Back in ye good olde days people used to use pigeons to fly chess moves back and forth, wireless gaming was born. I first played a game over the Internet back in 1998. It was just a sort of curious trial run. I was sitting on the track waiting for the flag to drop and some guy in Italy was next to me and all of a sudden I starting getting nervous. I didn't want to screw up and ruin everybody's race. I was interacting with people albeit in a strange way. People make online gaming what it is.

Halo 2 is going to be the public's first mass exposure to online gaming. My prediction? The Betty Ford clinic is going to need to add a wing or two.
Gotta write this down before I forget it. Consoles of the future are going to act as the router as online gaming becomes more popular. You won't need a broadband router to share internet access you'll just plug your coax cable into the back of the console and it'll share the connection with the rest of the computers in the house. Why? You ask. Because it solves the port forwarding issue. If a game can modify the routing table then anybody with a standard broadband account can host a game, obviating the need for a centralized system and therefore a monthly fee paid to Microsoft. Microsoft is trying to use the exact same techniques to monopolize online gaming that they did to gain a stranglehold on the computer industry. Unfortunately for Microsoft the Home Theater PC is a direct threat to that way of doing business. That's why you see MS now getting into the Media Center PC business.

So you plug your Linux based PC into your HDTV, all of your music, movies(even DVDs) and games are stored on it. You don't have to pay anybody to play online and some of the games are free(open source software). I'm having a hard time seeing how Microsoft extracts money from that configuration.


Brain Snapshot

After a bit of a writing break my head is full of ideas again. I'm going to try to figure out what the word culture means in the next couple of months.

Culture isn't one thing, what is globalization going to do to culture. Will there only be subculture?

Culture as Religion

Free vs. Permission Culture

Noam Chomsky - challenge - vs ass kissing

banned music.org RCA Squashed FM. ignorant artists?

underground piracy as the crackdown commences

Video Phone and tax complexity - government PR?

Corporations control media - media re-inforces permission ownership?

Mind / Body - Budhism , Monkey brain

Consciousness means we have the ability to question ourselves (closed loop)

Use of weird words for music review because the song can't be posted (archive live recordings)

Radical shift away from tradition of free culture



Wired BitTorrent article

Link to Free Culture Torrent

Creating a virtual world looking at shadows in rl - weird perspective

Extended copyrights

Ubuntu - Simple, synchronized with KDE major releases.

Software and religion - Are technology and religion mutually exclusive?

Cultural Singularity caused by introspection limited by time

Lawrence Lessig background and link to book


Kerr v. Bushy

Here are some quotes by my favorite president (Lincoln) that point out how disturbing things have become in America.

Lincoln on Kerry
"He can compress the most words into the smallest ideas of any man I ever met."

Lincoln on Bush
"Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt."

Lincoln on being ugly
"If I were two-faced, would I be wearing this one?"

"You may fool all the people some of the time, you can even fool some of the people all of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all the time." Abe Lincoln and later Bob Marley
Unfortunately for democracy you only have to fool slightly more than half of the people every four years.

"Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power."

"You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong."
If ever there was an eloquent call for education that's it.

"The best way to destroy an enemy is to make him a friend."
I think he's the original Ghandi. Good advice in the face of the overwhelming partisanship now dividing America.

"No man has a good enough memory to be a successful liar."
Hence the overwhelming content at FactCheck.org

Lincoln on Yogi Berra
"Well, for those who like that sort of thing, I should think it is just about the sort of thing they would like."

On the war on Drugs
"The best way to get a bad law repealed is to enforce it strictly."

"With public sentiment, nothing can fail; without it nothing can succeed. Consequently he who moulds public sentiment, goes deeper than he who enacts statutes or pronounces decisions. He makes statutes and decisions possible or impossible to be executed."

On 1917
"Four score and seven years ago"