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Comcast is the suX0rZ! Girls are too!

A week ago, my ping in Counterstrike started sucking like a well-paid whore. It came to a head (pun not unintended) around wednesday, when the cable modem would reset about every five minutes, and pings were between 80 and 3000 milliseconds, when the pakcet made it at all (over 25% packet loss). So I called Comcast and made an appointment. The next few days were smooth sailing. Including earlier today. And since there is a possibility the technician would have charged us money if he found nothing wrong, I cancelled the appointment. Not one minute later, my ping went back through the roof. I am holding my breath in anticipation of the packet loss (which is now starting I notice, taking a look at HLSW), the 2.1k/s downloads, and the complete loss of all internet for a couple of days, just like last time. The scary thing is, it started happening immediately after I cancelled the appointment. I’m serious. I was playing counterstirke before, and no problems. Pings of 30-50, with the occasional spike that everyone experienced. Then I found a phone and cancelled the appointment. Then I played CS again, and my ping was never better than 100 and it averaged 200-300. CS is unplayable like that at the level I play, at least. The timing makes me think conspiratorial thoughts… One has to wonder….

Now on to the next topic, girls. So, last week, on tuesday, I’m sitting in the L-lounge after my tennis class and before my DiffEq class, reading my book because there was a quiz. In comes a girl from my photography class last quarter. I didn’t get to know her very well during the quarter, but we were friendly, so we wave. She comes and sits near me, and we talk until our 10:30 classes. On thursday (the next day of my tennis class) I head into the L-lounge again (since thats what I do) and she’s sitting there. I pull up a chair and the scene repeats itself. Everyone is happy.
So, over the weekend I get to thinking, this girl and I get along, she seems interested (she did, after all, come up to me in the first place, wehn we didn’t even have a class together any more) , and she’s friggen hot. That same weekend, my mom comes and tells me about how good the showing of “Man of La Mancha” is at the Village Theater in Issaquah. So I put 2 and 2 together, and decide that I’ll be a gentleman and give the girl almost a full week’s notice instead of springing the idea on her on the weekend. Sure enough, the next tuesday, she’s there, and we talk. Right before class, I pop the question. We’ve been talking about work through in the rest of the conversation, and she’s working a lot that weekend, so I’m not put off when she tells me she has to check her schedule and will let me know on Thursday. I’m cool with that, I’m pretty flexible, and I figure she’ll probally say yes, since we’re getting along so well. Well, clearly, that is not what happened. I could have handled a No. I wouldn’t have minded. I would have backed off, gone back to friendly conversation, just enjoyed her company if she wasn’t interested in anything more. No. Its a one syllable word. Its easy to say. She probally said it a lot when she was 2. That was 18 years ago. She shouldn’t have forgetten.
But… appreantly she did. On thursday, I was a little nervous, but I figured, a no wouldn’t be so bad. I was ready for it. But instead, she wasn’t there. Poof. Gone. She changed her entire everyday routine just to avoid me. I can handle rejection, but I’m not sure what I should make of this. I don’t think I’m that revolting. Maybe I’m wrong, but I could handle even being told that. But what the hell is this avoidance routine? I think my good friends at Nada Surf said it well in their song “Popular”:

“Three important rules for breaking up
Don’t put off breaking up when you know you want to
Prolonging the situation only makes it worse
Tell him honestly, simply, kindly, but firmly
Don’t make a big production
Don’t make up an elaborate story
This will help you avoid a big tear jerking scene
If you wanna date other people say so
Be prepared for the boy to feel hurt and rejected
Even if you’ve gone together for only a short time,
And haven’t been too serious,
There’s still a feeling of rejection
When someone says she preferres the company of others
To your exclusive company,
But if you’re honest, and direct,
And avoid making a flowery emotional speech when you brake the news,
The boy will respect you for your frankness,
And honestly he’ll apeciate the kind of straight foward manner
In which you told him your decision
Unless he’s a real jerk or a cry baby you will remain friends”

Sure, we weren’t breaking up, but the same rules apply. I don’t know about other guys, but for me this is scripture, the absolue truth. I may feel hurt and rejected, but I’ll get over that. Well, I’ll get over this too, but its harder. Dumb, dumb, dumb. Combine this anecdote with evidence that Dris will soon post in a comment (don’t let me down) and I think we will have proven that women are evil. Hah!

Such a bad schedule

I maintain such bad sleeping schedule. I also found this song I’ve been wondering about and looking for forever – its teh Alan Parson’s Project’s Sirius (Listening to it right now). I think its the best anticipation music ever.

Soo tired.

Projects Galore

Good music lifts my mood. I’m glad I decided to pull out the iPod and listen to some of my good music – I’ve been missing my music since Davis still has my firewire cable. Now its back, and I’m glad. As the title of this post sugests, I have many projects going on right now. I thought I would give an update on them.

Tim’s Senior Porject Combat Robot
Today was my first real day working on the combat robot. For the first part of the session, we mostly just played with fire, because the robot’s main weapon is going to be a flamethrower. In order for it to be effective, we want to make it more like a blow torch, so after trying some venturis that Larry suggested, I drew on my paintball experience to create a positive pressure air feed system. The muffin fan we tried the first time didn’t work so well, and the compressed air was way too powerful, but the FIRST robot’s compressor with a tube into which the fuel was fed about 3/4 of the tube length away from the end seemed to work very well for a strong blow torch effect. Feeling successful but hungry, we went to eat, and then returned to think about and work on the drive train. Now much work got done, but Tim and I figured out the main chasis (just a 2″x4″ thick wall aluminum tube down the center, to which the drivetrain will be bolted). The details will come.

New Desktop Computer
I purchased from Tim an ATI Radeon 9700 Pro, and now all I need to to is buy the rest of the computer to put around it. I wanted to go to Fry’s today, but it looks like that’ll be a trip for tomorrow after work.

Work
Work is going well. I go in early all week, so I have to get to bed real soon here. Going in early, of course, means getting out early as well, so I have lots of daylight to have fun by, for example, shopping at Fry’s. All the non-disclosure agreements I signed means I can’t yet tell you much about what I’m doing, since its all propreitary information not yet released to the public. But I should be writing up some troubleshooting guide for the Flic Wireless barcode scanner that will eventually become public, so maybe I can post that info at some point. But don’t hold your breath.

SilverFir.net
Moving over to oasis-as-server running Gentoo is more or less stalled right now. Its amazing how much something working well enough is an incentive to not change things. Despite being on the backburner, however, this one is still on the list. Currently, Apache, MySQL, and PHP are all installed. I still need to get the Apache logs parsed out to the proper domain directories, and set up secure email, ftp, and web servers, get web mail working, and set up a secure VPN with a Samba server for long-distance file sharing for windows (for my mp3 collection remotely, primarily). If you would like to help with the project, let me know.

DARPA Grand Challenge 2006
This is a very long-term goal right now. The first step is the SRA’s (Seattle Robotics Association, formerly SRSoceity) Mini Grand Challenge, which will involve navigating to orange cones located around the Seattle Center sometime later this year. In order to prove my concept of machine vision’s ability to find orange objects to naysaying Bob, we took some pictures of an Orange shirt of mine in various lighting conditions from way overexposed to way dark. In all cases except one (where the shirt was mostly black it was so underexposed), my machine vision technique (really just a photoshop action script) worked. I think using a regular digital camera and algorithms like photoshop’s, it should be fairly easy to navigate towards orange objects in a variety of lighting conditions.
Also, I got the names of people from Subaru, VW, and GMC from Mr. Chaplin, so now I need to put together a two-year plan that describes how the $1,000,000 I will be asking them for will be used to win the Grand Challenge with one of their vehicles (modified for drive by wire and for travelling in desert terrain, of course).

Laptop questions
I like my old laptop better than my current laptop. The only reason I use my current laptop is that its techincally faster. But I think I will be trading back. This laptop needs a reinstall from scratch anyway, so I will trade it for the one my mom is now using, which is the one I liked better anyway. And Mobius (the old laptop) has a serial port for programming robots as well. And 2400+ Athlon’s are still really fast, just not quite a 2.8 GHz Pentium 4. But I like how Mobius is lighter weight and better balanced and goes to sleep properly and… Well, I just like it better!

Those are all I can think of right now, but I bet there are more even!

Good Music and Good Times

As requested I have put up some of the photos I have taken over the years with my SLR.

“Don’t Follow” by Alice in Chains should have been included on their greatest hits CD, perhaps as a bonus track if nothing else. Its an incredible song, and so different from the rest. The End played it – while I do miss Linkin Park there, I can get plenty on my own, and without their new format, I never would have heard this song again, and would have been forgotten forever.

Lakemont Blockbuster closes at 11:00, which is very nice indeed – makes for another blog entry at least.

The Concert

When I woke up an hour after noon, my ears were still ringing. I was still thirsty. I was still wearing the Linkin Park T-Shirt I bought last night. These are all signs that it was one incredible night at the Tacoma dome.

Last night, I went to the P.O.D. / Linkin Park concert with Beth. We left Bellevue just after 4:00 for Tacoma. When we got to Tacoma, we stopped at a WaMu so I could get some cash, then headed towards the Tacoma Dome, arriving about 5:30. We then got into the significant but not monstrous general admission line. The line started moving about ten to six � and we quickly made our way into the Dome. During a quick bathroom break I was impressed that all the guys seemed to flush after themselves and wash their hands. This confirms my suspicions that most Linkin Park fans are well mannered. After working our way up to about the forth row of the pit, about half way to the right of the stage, the opening band came on.

The first act was called Story of the Year, and was quite enjoyable except for the foul mouth of the lead singer between songs. The most interesting part of their performance was the synchronized roundabout kicks, and the lead guitarist�s back flips and guitar-roundabouts. The music was all right as well in their short 30 minute set. Next up was Hoobastank, a band whose name I am unfamiliar with, but a couple of their songs sounded familiar, so they must be getting radio airtime. Musically, I liked Hoobastank better than Story of the Year, but they lacked the stage presence of the first performers. After Hoobastank�s 30 minute set and another short pause, P.O.D. took the stage and the pits, which had been getting rowdier steadily throughout the night, began to get brutal. Beth and I began having trouble staying together, and she soon decided that it was going to be a little too much for her, so she took off to find more suitable territory. While we had been as far up as the third row, by the time she took off we were six or seven rows back. But without another person to worry about, I was soon working my way back towards the front. I am not terribly familiar with P.O.D.�s music, although I do like Youth of the Nation quite a bit. I enjoyed most of their other music as well, and they got the pits liquid enough that I was able to make it to about three columns off center and back to the forth row from the front. By this time I was sweating pretty well, but I was not alone by any means. P.O.D.�s set included much more stage effects than the previous two bands had. Green lasers painted the backdrop and ceiling, lighted murals came out, and the lighting effects were generally more sophisticated.

After P.O.D. finished, a huge sheet blocked our view of the stage as Linkin Park prepared itself. It took them a while, and the crowd was getting restless by the time the filler music stopped and the lights changed, signaling the beginning of what pretty much everyone had come for. The roar of the crowd began rising, and crescendoed when then the huge sheet was backlit, and the silhouette of Chester appeared. Then the sheet fell and the music began and everything that had happened in the pits before seemed like child�s play. The crowd surged in every direction; the music was intense and wonderful; I knew every word to every song performed. At times I pressed my way forward in the crowd, and at other times I just myself go with the flow. The entire time I was taking pictures � enough that a few actually turned out decently. They will be posted.

I cannot recall exactly which songs were played and in what order � my mind was really overwhelmed with the sensory input � but I do recall some things: Among the songs played were Papercut, With You, Points of Authority, Somewhere I Belong, Nobody�s Listening, Breaking the Habit (with a new down tempo intro), Lying From You, Numb, From the Inside (my favorite from Meteora), Crawling (My favorite from Hybrid Theory), and In the End. Mike said, just before performing In The End, that it was getting to be about time for them to leave. I was switching batteries when he came out into the crowd, and got no pictures of it (in fact, I don�t even remember it happening � I was concentrating too much on not losing my camera in the crowd, but Beth told me about it later).

Linkin Park left after that, but we were not about to let them leave us without a few more songs. The group certainly has a sense of timing. As determined as everyone was to get them back by chating �Encore!� then �Linkin Park! Linkin Park� while people in the stands stomped their feet and we all generally made a bunch of non-stop noise, the crowd had almost loosing hope after the minutes that the stage remained empty. A stage crewmember even came out and took down some microphones. The crowd quieted just a bit � could they really be leaving without an encore? But then, up on his stand on the left of the stage, DJ Joseph Hahn reappeared and the Tacoma Dome shook with thunderous applause as the rest of Linkin Park came back onto stage.

The Encore, I actually remember quite distinctly, since the lull in music let me regain some composure as the pits calmed down for a while. They started with My December, with subdued lighting and Chester sitting center stage on a box singing. Then came P5hing me Aw*y, my favorite from Reanimation, followed by the traditional Linkin Park concert ender (if Live in Texas is anything to go by) One Step Closer. Three songs is a pretty generous encore, and so I decided it really was the last song of the night (they even said so, and I tend to trust these guys) so I decided I would surf to the front of the crowd. I let the guys near me know my intentions and they helped me up top. The crowd control guys got me down the front, and directed me to the right. It was much cooler out of the crowd � the first relief from the oppressive heat of thousands of bodies pressed together I had all night. Unfortunately, there were no good picture opportunities of the band while I was closer than even the front row, but I did get a few pictures of the crowd on my way out, and some wide angle shots of the whole stage during the last moments of One Step Closer. People dispersed pretty quickly after that. Beth and I found each other again, I drank about a gallon of water from the drinking fountains, and then we got into line so I could purchase a couple of Linkin Park shirts.

After that we headed home. Once home, I ate some salty chips (to replenish the salt lost to sweat) and made myself some chili. Then I downloaded the pictures and movies from my camera. It turns out the bass was way too much form my camera, so all of the sound is distorted during the movies except the parts where there is singing without heavy guitars. I also realized I was really tired, so I did a small post and went to sleep. I didn�t get up until 1:00 � and felt well rested, although my ears were still ringing slightly and I was thirsty again. Since then I�ve basically hung out here, since I�m so cool and Amanda is working all day. :-/

Linkin Park

I just got back from Linkin Park’s concert at the Tacoma Dome. It was, in a word, incredible. A sensory extravaganza that can’t be captured completely by words. Don’t fret, I will try, but not tonight. I also have a gagle of pictures to upload. Also, I will try to remember to talk about my adventures with my computer today and other thoughts I’ve been having.

Mules, Donkeys, Software, and Hardware

I decided late last night or rather, early this morning, after having Windows Movie Maker 2.0 Crash on me about three times per minute over a course of ten minutes, that I needed to try out a real video editing solution. Since that usually costs money, I thought I�d take other look at the wonderful world of peer-to-peer file sharing. I have seen people have success recently with Edonkey, so I downloaded the open-source non-spyware version called (in the great tradition of free software such as YACC�s emulator �Bison�) �E-Mule� (see SourceForge.net).

After installation of E-Mule, I quickly found Avid�s Xpress DV 3.5 and Adobe�s Premiere Pro out there. But it takes a bloody long time to get anything at all. But things slowly and surely seem to get downloaded. Unfortunately I have it installed on my laptop, and now I can�t very well take it with me without interrupting the downloading. So I�m going to add something to my to-do list once sf2 is no longer serving SilverFir.net, I will convert in into a windows box that I run programs like this on, hook up my external Hard Drive to so I don�t have to worry about demounting when I move around, hook the printer up to, so I can print from anywhere in the house over wireless networking, etc�

An aside: wow, this �Eternal� song by Evanescence is pretty awesome. I never would have heard this song without file sharing. And because of this song, I will listen to more music from this older Evanescence album. And I might buy it, because that�s what I do with CDs like I like. Dumb record companies/recording academy/RIAA who thinks that file sharing is so bad. Sure, there are people who download music for free instead of buying it, but those are the same people who would have burned the cd, or copied it onto a tape, or taped it from the radio. And villainizing people like me who use peer to peer as a sort of radio-listening service doesn�t make you any friends. I�m all for free enterprise, but copyright laws these days are far from what could be construed as the results of free enterprise. Corporations have for years twisted copyright to their advantage; now they complain when consumers, the very people who support the corporations, twist copyright themselves.

The hypocrisy is appalling; but sadly true. As is, I suppose, my hypocrisy when I download expensive software to try out, yet promise that I�ll pay for when I use it in a matter where it might actually make sense to wield that kind of power. But then I have justification there too � my using the software in a non-commercial manner (as I do) only strengthens the position in an industry of the software that I use. And I really do plan on paying for the software were I to use it for commercial uses. I just can�t afford the ten-bazillion dollars of license fees and upgrade costs when I only use the software once a month for only a few things.

The absence of these moral dilemmas is one of the most attractive traits of free software for me � And for tools where free software is on par with proprietary software, that�s what I tend to use (Mozilla FoxFire [newly installed � it�s the new version of Firebird {a new name for a new version so as to not interfere with another project called Firebird }], Thunderbird, Linux servers, Apache, etc)� Enough nested parrens for you there?

Third time though the Evanescence song� now on to Pearl Jam�

I think I�m going to try getting some actual sleep tonight, although I�m still itching to do a movie in windows movie maker with an updated XviD driver. And a million other things. Oh, I might as well tell you about today. After staying up till� 4, I woke up at 8:20 only to remember I had forgotten my math homework and there was ice over my windshield. So I skipped Tennis, went to Math, did a bunch of photography, ate lunch with Amanda, did more prints and darkroom activities, and then went off to robotics, where the design for the arm changed again, but it looks like it’ll come together this time. Then I can work on the winch to lift the robot at the end of the match. Meanwhile, Bob is working on a mechanism to positively control the goal. Once those things are done, the robot will be able to do everything in the game except for knocking the bonus ball. And I think the bonus ball is useless, so I�m ok ignoring that.