Updates from September, 2009 Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • Hober Short 1:31 pm on 30 September 2009 Permalink  

    Playing chess by mail is nothing new. Playing tabletop RPGs by forum is nothing new either (although it’s less not new than chess-by-mail).

    What is new, at least to me, is playing the Battlestar Galactica Board Game by forum.

    Those guys are crazy.

    Also, as of page 33, the humans are screwed:

    Fuel 8. Food 7. Morale 3. Population 9.

    Jump Track: [Start] [No Jump] [No Jump] [-3] [-1] [Auto Jump]
    Distance Travelled: 4
    Civilian Ships: 10 in Use, 0 in Reserve, 2 Destroyed.
    Boarding Party: (1/5) (2/5)

    Raptors: 0 In Reserve
    Vipers: 0 in Reserve, 1 in Use, 6 Damaged, 1 Destroyed
    Nukes: 0
    Galactica Damage: Admiral’s Quarters, Weapons Control

    Edit: Actually, there are four games going in parallel. Whoa.

  • Pat 1:27 pm on 29 September 2009 Permalink  

    Microsoft Security Essentials is now out of beta, and Ars Techica is very impressed with it. If you’ve been using the beta version, just telling it to update won’t get you the released version; you have to download and run a new installer. Click the appropriate link for your Windows version:

    In other Microsoft news, students (or anyone else with an e-mail address ending in .edu) can buy Windows 7 Home Premium for just $30.

  • Pat 2:32 am on 29 September 2009 Permalink  

    I guess it depends on what “on the air” means in 2012. According to Quincy Smith (CEO of CBS Interactive), Hulu is killing the broadcast networks. Perhaps “the air” as we know it won’t exist a few years from now, and online streaming will be the only kind of availability that matters.

    In any case, all five seasons of Babylon 5 are available for streaming at AOL Video. And of course you can get any episode you want from Amazon Video on Demand or iTunes. So DVD is not your only option.

  • Bartholomew Xerxes Ogilvie, Jr. 3:27 pm on 28 September 2009 Permalink  

    In a comment about the Babylon 5 episode “Atonement,” Joe Straczynski addressed an apparent conflict between the episode and an earlier online comment:

    What airs is considered canon; in 15 years, nobody’s gonna be hauling these messages around. But the show will still be on the air. If it airs, it’s canon.

    Unfortunately, he’s wrong on both counts. OK, it has only been twelve and a half years, but I don’t expect the Lurker’s Guide to vanish before 2012. B5, on the other hand, is not currently on the air anywhere. As far as I know, the only way to see the show now is on DVD or (for the first two seasons) Hulu.

    Oh well … who said SF writers are good at predicting the future?

  • Hober Short 12:42 pm on 25 September 2009 Permalink  

    NCSU’s Student Government is on a weird mission:

    Student leaders and University officials held a forum Thursday to spread information about and encourage student participation in the proposed Talley Student Center renovations.

    . . .

    Turan Duda, a partner in Duda/Paine Architects, LLC, the firm designing the new student center, also gave a presentation outlining five potential designs for the renovation of Talley and the student bookstore. “[The student center] is not just a building,” Duda said. “It could become a hearth; it could become a living room. It could become your home.”

    Student Senate President Kelli Rogers said one of the important points of the new student center was its importance to current and future students. “You’re leaving a legacy,” Rogers said. “You can either step up now and fund [the new student center], or you can pass the buck to another student who will have to pay more and not receive something as amazing.”

    So, the options are

    • Spend my own money so someone else can have something nice, or
    • let them spend their own money on something not as nice.

    Regardless of the merit of the idea, this is a ridiculous way to pitch it.

    Although the proposed project would not be complete until 2014, [Student Center President Mary] Randall said the time for action is now.

    “Every year we delay construction it costs $10 million,” Randall said.

    Say what? Why does it cost money to continue to use the functional student center?

    Also, costs who money? If we delay it two more years, the student center won’t cost me a dime!

    The whole “Rally 4 Talley” campaign has mildly creepy signs all over campus encouraging us to vote yes to “grant more funding” to the renovation project. They use a dissociated third-person passive tense to make it seem like this all we have to do is wish for money for the project and we’ll have it. Too bad they’re trying to convince us to vote our own money out of our pockets. Man, if only there were some way that those who wanted to contribute to this project (doing so being framed as “leaving a legacy” in the renovated student center) could give their money voluntarily instead of having it exacted through fees!

    Andrew Lanier is on point with this one:

    There are many things about N.C. State that confuse me, one of which is why all kinds of new projects and renovations are approved while class sections, professors and the students get the shaft. A prime example of this is the Rally 4 Talley campaign that is taking place right now. Does it really make good fiscal sense for us to dump money into a building that still functions perfectly well as a student center?

    Oh and by the way, did you catch the part where it won’t be done until the current Freshmen class graduates?

    The most obvious way to deal with this, I would say, is to get a loan for the construction, and then pay off the loan with a tuition fee paid by those students who use the new center. If I had to hazard a guess, I would say that kind of loan is hard to come by these days so they have to find some other way to fund the project.

    Edited to add: The Student Body President is on YouTube pitching the idea. Main highlight? The $83 fee to be tacked on to tuition is less than one half of one percent of the overall annual cost of college. For the record, this was the bill I got this fall:

    College of Engineering Fee


    Ed & Tech Fee




    Undergraduate In-State Tuition  




    By my math, that makes a $83 increase a 2.8% hike.

  • Hober Short 1:59 pm on 18 September 2009 Permalink  

    I was wondering when this would happen: is it just me or does the photo on this news story look like it was taken by a camera phone?

    It seems like this was inevitable: we would eventually see pics obviously taken by a camera phone attached to serious news stories increase as cameras on phones became more prevalent. But I think also eventually we’ll stop being able to tell that they’re camera phone pictures when camera phones get good enough that their product will be indistinguishable from that of real digital cameras.

    And you’ll be able to tell your kids that you were there during the exciting times when newspapers would publish crappy photos and call it journalism!

    Or, something.

  • Hober Short 10:34 am on 18 September 2009 Permalink  

    Tracy Kidder is coming to NC State:

    Since the 1970’s Tracy Kidder has written some of the funniest, most moving, and most penetrating material about what it means to be an American–and to be a caring, eyes-wide-open global citizen. The NCSU community will have a chance to hear the Pulitzer Prize-winning author read from his latest book on September 30 at the McKimmon Center.

    No contemporary author has been more successful at identifying and then putting us inside the changes and groundswells that resonate in our private and public lives. His early work gave us a glimpse of what it was like to be on the ground conducting the war in Vietnam, where he served as an officer in military intelligence. Before computers were on most of our desks, his Soul of the New Machine sniffed out the ways that the work styles of the American-driven software industry would set a new pace for our work lives, banishing boredom but demanding 24/7 commitment.

    When I saw the headline, I was hoping he was going to be giving some kind of talk or speech. I’m sure his book is interesting enough, but I’m not all that interested in paying to hear him read part of it. Oh well.

  • Bartholomew Xerxes Ogilvie, Jr. 9:48 am on 14 September 2009 Permalink  

    As they say on the Net, I love love love this photo Glenn Reynolds took at a Tea Party rally in Illinois. It’s a perfect juxtaposition: the slogan on the T-shirt combined with the expression on the little girl’s face, which seems to say “Watch it: that’s my money you’re spending.”

  • Hober Short 9:43 am on 14 September 2009 Permalink  

    Does no one in the Tea Party movement get how Nazi comparisons hurt your case? This kind of hyperbolic garbage is what is causing the mainstream (of America, not the mainstream media) to write off this movement as a bunch of wingnuts.

    You people have a chance to bring some attention to the principles of small government and you’re ruining it.

  • Hober Short 3:58 pm on 13 September 2009 Permalink  


    UCLA atmospheric scientists have discovered a previously unknown basic mode of energy transfer from the solar wind to the Earth’s magnetosphere. The research, federally funded by the National Science Foundation, could improve the safety and reliability of spacecraft that operate in the upper atmosphere.

    The article doesn’t quite make clear the implications of this discovery, but the phrase “transfer of energy” and the term “convection” are used frequently, leading me to believe that this has to do with understanding the way the Sun heats the Earth. Which of course, reminds us that we probably don’t know everything about the way the Earth gets heated.

    This is why it’s important to treat anyone who claims to know all the answers about what affects global climate with extreme skepticism.

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