archive for January, 2005

Darwinia Demo

I’ve been playing the Darwinia demo all morning. It took me a while to figure out the controls and game mechanics, but it’s not like you die if you can’t figure everything out fast enough. The demo is only one level. I’m not even sure it’s a complete level, but it’s about half an hour to an hour of game time (the first time you play it). It remains to be seen how different and complicated future levels get, but I would imagine Introversion could easily make more levels and add more complexity as they have time. I’m very curious to find out if there’s going to be a multiplayer mode. I’ll probably buy it either way, but if there is a multiplayer mode I’ll be able to play it a lot longer and maybe even talk my friends into buying it too.

Ground School

I’m all signed up for private pilot ground school. I’ll be taking the class through Santa Monica College at the Santa Monica Airport. The class will prepare me to take the FAA‘s private pilot written exam. Of course, becoming a private pilot requires more than passing a written exam. You need a lot of hours in the air both with an instructor, and practicing alone. Unfortunately, the air time can be pretty expensive when you add it all up; probably too expensive. I hope to do at least a “discovery” flight and see what it’s like to go up in a small airplane. I’ll just have to wait and see what I’m able to turn this into. However it works out, I think it’ll be a lot of fun.

Weird Side Effects

I don’t know if this is a side effect of the treatment, or if it’s just because I’m spending so much time on it, but I’m making crazy progress at work. We’re working on a little project that I thought would take weeks to finish, but we’re just about done. I have been working more hours than I expected, but not overkill or anything. The funny thing is that I’ve been making some of the strangest bugs. It’s almost like I’m writing two programs at the same time. For the non-programmers reading: unlike DNA you can’t mix two programs together randomly and end up with something that works (usually). Thankfully my co-workers are quick to point out where I’ve gone wrong. I don’t know what I was thinking, but some of that code is downright silly. On the other hand, the code has just been pouring out, so I guess it all balances out.

It seems like everything is getting on my nerves lately. My long distance company keeps calling to try to get me to switch to them for my local service. I’d be happy to switch, but my DSL complicates everything, so I tell them I don’t want to do it today. I’ve asked them if I can just call them back next month when I’m ready to deal with all of this, and they still keep calling. Maybe I’ll switch both my local and long distance. That’ll show ’em. 🙂 I’ve got to get a new keyboard, why do they make keyboards so lound these days? There really should be more 24 hour stores. It’s not like we don’t have electricity, and we couldn’t see to shop once the sun goes down. *sigh* Thank god for Amazon.

Maybe I’m going crazy or something, but I could swear that I keep seeing people from the pharmacutical company around work. I don’t get it. The company that is running the tests is in Thousand Oaks. What would people from their be doing in Malibu? I hate to sound paranoid, but I think they might be watching me, and I don’t mean reading my blog. Of course, if they are: “Hi guys! Can I help you with something?” Maybe I’ll just ask next time I go in for a checkup.

It’s probably nothing. I’ve been having some weirdly vivid daydreams lately too. It’s almost like those dreams where you wake up in the morning and you’re late, so you rush around trying to get ready, then your alarm goes off and you really wake up. I’ll be thinking about doing something like having breakfast, and then all of the suddon realize that I’m not actually eating, and I still have to go make breakfast.

Speaking of food. My headaches are getting worse, and I’m having with nose bleeds which could just be the weather. I have a more than decent appitite, but I never seem to have enough physical energy. Coffee seems to help, but a few hours later I’m back to where I started. The doctor suggested that I take some multivitamins. I’ll try that out and let you know how that goes. Mentally I can still focus at a respectable level, so that’s a good thing. I have aquired an annoying little habit of getting songs stuck in my head. I’ve resorted to not listening to any music at work, but it’s always popping up here and there, and once it’s stuck I have the hardest time forgetting it.

RSS with Style

I added an xsl style sheet to my RSS Feed. Thanks go to Juicy Studio and W3Schools for making it relatively easy. I had to make a small change (changing the output method from “xml” to “html”) to make it work correctly in Firefox. I also updated it so that it renders how I want it. Now, when people click on the link to my feed that Google insists on treating like a regular web page, they’ll get what looks like a regular web page (if they’re using a decent browser anyway).

Roomba Is Back in Action

Our Roomba Discovery has been out of commission for the last few weeks. One of the brush bearings wore out, and had be be replaced before we could use it.

I wrote iRobot about the problem before I left on vacation. They said that it would take about a week to ship me the new part (at no charge of course). I went on vacation, and it had been over two weeks, and I hadn’t received anything. I wrote them back and said that I hadn’t gotten the bearings yet. When they wrote back they said that they’d ship them out again, and that it would take about a week.

The next day, I received an envelope in the mail that was supposed to have the parts in it from the original order, but for some reason all it had was the order slip. I contacted iRobot again and explained what had happened. This time I explained how long I’d been waiting, and ask them to rush the parts. I got a reply saying that they’d 2nd day air the parts to me. I missed the UPS delivery yesterday, but got the bearings today. I guess the others (the second shipment) is still on the way.

Anyway, I tried out the new bearings and everything seems to be working fine. Yaaay, no more dirty floors!

I have mixed feelings about their customer service. One complaint that I have with almost every company is that they don’t write you back soon enough. iRobot averaged about a day and a half turn around time to reply to my emails. Is it really that hard to keep up with the flow of email and have a reply sent within an hour? I don’t think so. I understand that accidents happen and it’s easy to ship an empty envelope once in a while. No big deal. They did the right thing by express shipping the next order.

I’m still a little confused about why it took so long to send the original order in the first week. The parts didn’t ship until after a week of my order being placed. I’m guessing that they got really far behind with the Christmas rush. Hopefully they’ll hire enough customer service people to support their newly expanded user base.

Who needs sleep?

It’s been 74 hours since I last slept, and I feel great. Well, almost great. I do have a slight headache that seems to be coming from my neck, and my head feels stuffy, both in my sinuses and in the way my thoughs don’t seem to flow quite as easily as normal. Other than that though, I’m full of energy and looking forward to getting back to work.

Last week I went and had those sleep test. Everything turned out normal as expected, but they did offer me a chance to help test this new no-sleep drug. I signed a bunch of paperwork, so I can’t tell you the name of the drug (I don’t think it has one yet) and I can’t tell you who’s developing it, but I can tell you that it works — either that, or I’m experiencing the strongest placebo effect ever. Some of the tests they ran were fun, like the IQ test and keeping a dream journal. The DNA profile was reletively painless. I wish I could say the same for my fitness exam. It’s been way too long since I last did some serious running, and I guess I’ve sofented up more than I’d like to admit. I ended up over doing the treadmill test trying to show off, and ended up with a bad cramp in my side. Oh well, I guess I did well enough to join the trial.

The pills are pretty cool in that you start off taking them every 4 hours (along with a blood-hormone test), and you slowly decrease the frequency until you don’t need them anymore, or so they tell me. I’m down to one pill per day, and it seems to be working. I hardly get sleepy at all before having to take the next pill. The doctors don’t know how long I’ll need to keep taking the pills to maintain the effects. It sounds like in past trials they were able to get the dosage down to one pill per week. From what I understand (which isn’t much), the pills gradually weakens your Circadian rhythm so that your body always thinks it’s the middle of the day.

You may be wondering why I’d sign up for a drug trial like this. Well first of all, it sounds really cool. Secondly, it gets me a little more spending cash. It’s not enough to buy a condo, or even pay off the car, but hey… every little bit helps. Also, I consider myself to be a Transhumanist. I think humans have it within themselves to rise up above what we are today, and create a better future for ourselves, not just socially, but physiologically too. I figure, what better way to help move humanity forward than to donate (well, not entirely) myself to advancing our understanding of what we can become. Oh, and if you’re worried about safety, it’s already past phase 1, so it’s already been shown to be safe.

Wouldn’t it be great to live in a world were we don’t waste a third of our lives sleeping? We wouldn’t need to work any more than the typical 40 hours per week, but we probably will. Our current level of work is enough to keep up the status quo, but I don’t think anyone would complain about working an extra two hours a day when they’re getting eight extra for free. Honestly, the boredom is really starting to get to me. I’m going to see if I can swing my schedule around so that I work from midnight until noon (with a break for breakfast), and then get some hiking or biking or something in in the afternoon while it’s still light. I think the bosses will go for it. I’ll be working a lot of extra hours, and I’ll be more lined up with our East Coast partners, so it’s really easier for everyone. Hopefully I’ll be able to find enough stuff to do to keep myself occupied.

Okay, I’m rambeling now, so I’ll stop writing. I’ll keep you all posted on how this turns out.

Jesse’s Fable

Jesse just published her first creative writing assignment called “The Ass and the Mare”. Check it out.

Links Category

I’ve moved all of my “Link Roundup” posts to a new links category. That should help keep them from cluttering up miscellaneous.

Link Roundup: Jan. 18, 2005

Slate: The Body Electric
The Metamorphosis of Prime Intellect
Evolution for Windows (but Beagle first)
Do You Want to Live Forever?
A Practical Plan to End Poverty
Software picks musical hits

VoIP Comparison

PC Magazine has recently posted an article on Voice over IP (VoIP). It looks like they like AT&T CallVantage best. It looks like a great deal to me, but from what I read since I already have DSL I’d need to change my phone number. I’d really rather not do this, especially if we’re going to be moving in the next six months. I don’t know if there are any setup fees, but $30 per month for unlimited calls and pretty much every feature you can ask for is really hard to beat.

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