Archive for January, 2007

Everyone Loves Research Papers

Behold! School has taken over my life to the point of instructing me to post assignments on this blog. The entire grid will soon be able to view my research paper in-progress, and my peers on Facebook will see constant updates in their news streams. Fear not, loyal readers! If the report was not of interest to me, it would not be here.

The first topic of consideration will no doubt excite and thrill my regular crowd. It is that oft-debated topic, how should music digital rights management (DRM) be handled? The consumer hates DRM, and the record makers seem unable to get enough of it. Obviously, no system will ever be perfectly secure; if you can hear music, you can copy it. We have encrypted CDs, encrypted music file formats, and cryptic lawsuits today. None of them work. If I choose to write on this topic, I might just hit upon a method of managing electronic rights that is satisfactory to everyone. No promises, though.

My second topic is Preventing Skyjackings. In process of researching and writing the report, I hope to find patterns in planejackings and propose innovative ways to discourage hostile takeovers. Obviously, thoroughly searching everyone who goes through security, putting locks on the cockpit doors, and hiring stewardesses trained in the martial arts would be ideal, but it simply is not feasible. This report would once again ask the eternal question “Is there a better way?”

Stay tuned for updates.


Microsoft Launch Day in Dallas

In what looks to be an extremely hypish marketing move, Microsoft is hosting an all-day Windows Vista/Office 2007 launch event in Dallas on the 21st. In exchange for sitting through a bunch of presentations about how Vista and Office are the best things since sliced bread, you get a free copy of Office 2007 pro and Groove.

Yes, I am a Linux advocate and such. Normally, I wouldn’t care about such things. However, this evening I recieved and email from the campus ACM chapter. Basically, if I apply and my application to attend is accepted, I get sponsored to go. This turns it into a completely different matter. Office 2007’s DOCX format, while technically an open standard, is currently only completely supported by Office ’07, and I believe the school has plans to upgrade the labs in the near future. I am also a poorish student, and getting $500+ of useful software in echange for sitting through a day of potentially interesting presentations on Windows development is extremely tempting. As they say, “know thy enemy.” Worst case, it’s boring and I make notes about how much better Ubuntu is. Best case for Microsoft, I come back and blog about how l33t Office and Vista are. Rest assured, the latter won’t be happening, though though there’s always the wonderful chance that I’ve been wrong about Vista. I hope I’ve been wrong about Vista, for the sake of clueless desktop users everywhere.


I am writing this post from pretty much the coolest Java app I’ve ever seen. I’m not a huge Java fan, and I’ve used very few interesting apps lately, so that might not be saying a whole lot.

But I digress. My new-found toy is called “JDarkRoom“, and it allows the user to experience the joy of using an old, simple text editor. Minus all the frustrations of actually using such a program, of course. It’s very straightforward, almost to a fault. No spell checking, no fonts, nothing. Notepad looks almost feature-laden in comparison. However, this is the entire point of JDarkRoom, the very place where it excels. It’s a blank slate. You don’t have to fuss with the margins, the font, or even saving. Basically, it aims to be an tool for first drafts and other things where distractions must be minimal. Imagine a green-on-black screen, just waiting to be filled with text. This is the tool in a nutshell.

While the concept is wonderful, the implementation is not without issues. The biggest cravat is a distinct lack of Ctrl-Z. A must, the “undo” command is a huge feature that needs to get in before I’ll even consider using it full-time. Another annoyance is the wafer-thin blinking cursor, an item barely visible on my laptop’s screen. Yet another nitpick is how the mouse cursor I-beam dosen’t magically vanish when you start to type. Don’t get me wrong, this thing isn’t perfect at all.

However, with a little work from the author, JDarkRoom could develop into something really nice; it’s defiantly something I’ll be keeping my eye on.

Neat little things

I’m coming off my Christmas break, but oddly I haven’t felt like blogging at all. I shall provide random bullet points and call it “a post”.

  • Use the scrollwheel on the Gnome taskbar to flip through all your windows quickly.
  • Glipper solves all the annoyances I’ve had with copy and paste on Linux.
  • Gens works on Linux and plays all my old Sonic games quite nicely. It even has a nice GUI.
  • “apt-get install gweled” for a nice Diamond Mine clone
  • Zelda Classic brings The Legend of Zelda 1 to PC, no emulator required. It features a quest editor and a Linux version.
  • MoM is an interesting half-free MMORPG, apparently programmed by just one guy.
  • Ted Dekker’s Circle trillogy rocks, as do P. G. Wodehouse’s many short stories.
  • OICCC is upon us once more. It has inspired me to brush up on my C skills and write a program that prints its own source code. It seems like it would be possible to create a recursive program that changes it’s source, recompiles, executes the new program and exits. This prospect excites me, though I can’t think of any practical reason for doing it.
  • I thought this was pretty funny.

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