The Nerd, Geek, or Dork Test

Which are you?

Pure Geek
39 % Nerd, 73% Geek, 39% Dork

For The Record:

A Nerd is someone who is passionate about learning/being smart/academia.
A Geek is someone who is passionate about some particular area or subject, often an obscure or difficult one.
A Dork is someone who has difficulty with common social expectations/interactions.
You scored better than half in Geek, earning you the title of: Pure Geek.

It's not that you're a school junkie, like the nerd, and you don't really stand out in a crowd, like the dork, you just have some interests that aren't quite mainstream. Perhaps it's anime, perhaps it's computers, perhaps it's bottlecaps, perhaps it's all of those and more. Your interests take you to events and gatherings that are filled with people you find unusual and beyond-the-pale, but you don't quite consider yourself "of that crowd." Instead, you consider yourself to be fairly normal.

Which, you are.

Congratulations! You're the one on the RIGHT!


MMOs As Your Third Home

Article and discussion from Slashdot yesterday morning: What is a third place? The first place is your home, the second place is work. Howard Schultz, founder of Starbucks introduced third places as somewhere besides home or work where people can socialize and feel comfortable. Think Cheers. Massive multiplayer online games are third places as defined by their characteristics: neutral ground, leveler (no not that kind), conversation, accessibility, regulars, low profile, playful mood, and "home away from home". Online games also contain social capital, which like financial capital, can be acquired and spent, but for social gains instead of financial gains. In a social relationship sense, bridging provides breadth (diverse information and resources) while bonding provides depth (comfort and advice). In online games, players come from a diverse background so they are usually bridging social capital but bonding can occur for long time players.


The News As I Noticed It

Pinky: Gee, Brain, what do you want to do tonight?
Brain: The same thing we do every night, Pinky. Try to take over the world!
Well there's been a lot going on recently, personal and worldly. My brother and his wife got back from Australia safely. My dad officially retired. Donna had her first official Girl Scout meeting as Katie's leader (they have 14 girls, enough for 3 troops... yikes...). And I just got off of a particularly gruelling week of on-call duty.

Yesterday I was sitting at a BBQ wings place with my team when the TV's started showing live coverage of the coup in Bangkok. Helluva thing.

So let's go through my daily emails from the Slashdot roundup and see what was interesting... I'm a few days behind...

From last Thursday there came an article about one of my favorite TV shows (even though I have it Tivo'd I still don't get to watch it much...) - The Mismatched 'MythBusters':
Most fans of the MythBusters would agree that the two hosts of the show, Adam and Jamie, are 'diametrically opposed in every aspect of their lives'. The Christian Science Monitor story about the MythBusters explores the connection between the backgrounds of the hosts (who knew that Jamie had a degree in Russian literature?) and their creative differences on and off camera.
From the article:
It took Hyneman a of couple years to feel comfortable talking in front of a camera, let alone to strangers on the street. 'You have to remember that I'm a guy who is happiest in a dark room just thinking,' he says. 'I'm not a sociable person. I don't like to talk.' Savage, on the other hand, is outgoing. They're clearly the Oscar and Felix of myth busting ... 'Jamie is all about total, complete, and utter control. Thinking first and then acting. Adam is about acting first and then thinking.'

Next we have a "Giant 'Leap' for Robotics":
An AFP article is reporting that Toyota has developed a robot leg that can jump like a human's, an evolution from today's stiff-jointed machines. The leg is a strange-looking standalone device and Toyota claims it will enable robots to jump about, run faster and handle unpaved roads more smoothly.
Personally I think this is the next step towards true synthetic limbs, if they can be miniaturized enough. More than synthetics, though, think along the lines of the Bionic Man... ("We have the technology... we can make him stronger, faster...")

On Friday we have more robotics news, with NASA testing Linux-based Exploration Robots (from the penguinnnnnss-innnnn-spaaaace dept...):
This week NASA is testing a Linux-based lunar rover called K-10 in the Arizona desert. To cut costs and promote maintainability the K-10 runs Linux and uses commercial off-the-shelf parts where possible. The robot rover's control and communications system is based on an IBM Thinkpad X31 and attaches to subsystems with standard PC interfaces. Real-time tasks such as fine-grained motor control are offloaded to a distributed network of microcontroller-powered control boards. Maneuvers can be watched through a live webcam.

Also from Friday, Advertising Comes to DVR Owners, a.k.a. The Advertising Twilight Zone:
According to Reuters, television studios are finally trying to target DVR viewers with advertising. The effort, however, seems rather backwards - They are extending the same exact image across the entire 30 second commercial so that TIVO Viewers will be forced to view at least one frame. Wouldn't it be better to add value to the viewing experience instead?
From the article:
The advert for its new drama 'Brotherhood' will show a single image on the screen for the entire 30-second slot, and therefore retain its "sales message" when viewed even at the 12-times speeds enabled by Sky+ and other digital recorders, also known as personal video recorders, or PVRs. Advertisers have been racing to find ways to get messages through as higher numbers of consumers watch TV programs when they want using such recorders, often skipping the commercials.
Oh yeah, THAT will get my interest. /rollseyes Seriously, who's crackbrained idea was this? That's just going to encourage people to skip the ads - and at a higher track rate, I might add...

Monday found aninterestingg article concerning "Pipeline Worm Floods AIM With Botnet Drones". (Full Disclosure: Yes I do work for AOL. No I don't intend to offer any opinions one way or the other. So don't take anything contained herein as an opinion. 'Nuff said.) Several readers write about a new AIM threat dubbed the "AIM Pipeline Worm" that uses a sophisticated network of "chained" executables to attack the end user. Security Focus has a brief note.
Using this method, there is no starting point for the attack - a malicious link via IM can send you to any given file, at which point the path of infection you take depends entirely on the file you start off with. The hackers can then decide which order to install malicious software, depending on their needs at the time. At a bare minimum, you will become a Botnet Zombie - if you're really lucky, you might be Trojaned, have a Rootkit installed on your PC, and be used for spam, file storage, and DOS attacks. Unlike similar attacks that have been attempted in the past, the removal of a file from the chain will not stop the attack - you will simply end up with something else installed instead, in the form of a randomly named executable dumped in your system32 folder. You'll still spam an infection link to all your contacts.
Ugh. Makes me want to go back and block all users again other than who's in my buddy list.

Now here's some bright bit of sunshine on the horizon. There's a New Tolkien Story To be Published by his son:
CNN reports that Christopher Tolkien has edited and will release a new book by his father. From the article: 'Christopher Tolkien has spent the past 30 years working on "The Children of Hurin," an epic tale his father began in 1918 and later abandoned. Excerpts of "The Children of Hurin," which includes the elves and dwarfs of Tolkien's "The Lord of the Rings" and other works, have been published before.'

And more news on the AOL front, "AOL Opens Video Search Engine to Developers". (Full Disclosure: Yeah, you already know.)
CNet is reporting that AOL has opened up their video search engine to developers. This push is being made in the hopes that it will drive more websites into using their service.
From the article:
The goal for the APIs is different than the one that AOL had in mind when it opened up a number of its other applications to developers - notably its instant-messaging client AIM and IP telephony service AIM Phoneline. The AIM and AIM Phoneline toolkits were designed to enable modifications to the existing software, whereas the purpose of the new video-search APIs is to spread its video search engine to sites other than AOL.
I actually hadn't heard about that. There's some open platforms info for AIM developers (new project of mine to handle within production), but even though the ops guys from search sit in the next row over this is all news to me. Pretty nice though. (Dangit, there I go, just offered and opinion.)

Here's another interesting tidbit, this one from yesterday's postings. Net Neutrality is something that I should know more about, and yet I'm apparently just as clueless about it as many Americans, as a recent "Poll Says No Voter Support for Net Neutrality":
A survey conducted by the Commerce Committee says that Americans don't know what net neutrality is, and they don't want it. Ars Technica reports that only 7% of respondents had ever heard of net neutrality, but the report questions the fairness of the survey, which was crafted by the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation to assess support for the current version of the Telecommunications Act of 2006. The survey suggested to respondents that net neutrality would prevent ISPs from selling faster service or security products, both of which are not true.
This really is an issue everyone should try to educate themselves on, or at least retain a passing familiarity on the terms. From the article itself:
The very brief net neutrality description used by the pollsters is somewhat misleading insofar as it suggests that net neutrality would bar Internet Service Providers from selling faster service than is available today. Strict net neutrality does not concern itself with ultimate transfer speeds available to subscribers, but instead focuses on how different kinds of Internet traffic could be shaped by ISPs for anti-competitive purposes. For instance, strict net neutrality would not prevent an ISP from selling extremely fast 35Mbps connections, but it would prevent ISPs from privileging traffic for their own services for competitive advantage, or degrading the traffic of competing services.

What Came First, the Violence or the Videogame? Is it just me or does there seem to be little data but much hyperbole surrounding this issue? And does anyone else my age recall the doom and damnation portended over those who were wicked enough to be into RPGs like D&D? (So far I haven't turned into a mass murderer, but the day is still young...)
Another wave of video-game-violence panic is upon us. The pressed suits who read the pop news on television are wagging their so-called neutral fingers at an industry they have never understood. Planet Xbox 360 considers the many games they have played and the real-life murderers they have known in their own lives, and how little the talking heads know about either.
My buddy Mike did pass along an link ("Senate To Study Gaming's Effects on Kids") that shows the government is finally taking a definitive approach to fact-finding regarding this. Finally. And here's more info on the CAMARA act.

Finally, a very belated "Happy Talk Like A Pirate Day, Me Hearties" from yesterday:
Avast, me maties! Today be th' International Talk Like a Pirate Day! Fer today only, ye lubbers no worthy 'nough t' enjoy th' noble vocation o' Pirate can join th' ranks! Firs' ye'll need t' lern t' talk like a pirate, then find yer pirate name, doonload yer ringtones, an' finally sling back some grog. Be smart aboot it, fer today's th' day ninjas fear...ever'one's a pirate! Arrrr!
I need to find an English-to-Pirate translator so I can submit my weekly status report in Pirate. Arrr indeed... And thus, I leave you with this:

My pirate name is:

Mad Sam Kidd

Every pirate is a little bit crazy. You, though, are more than just a little bit. Even though you're not always the traditional swaggering gallant, your steadiness and planning make you a fine, reliable pirate. Arr!

Get your own pirate name from piratequiz.com.
part of the fidius.org network


What is your battle cry?

What Is Your Battle Cry?

Striding amidst the fields, wielding an oversized scalpel, cometh Dongyrn! And he gives a vengeful bellow:

"Brace yourself, oh human speck of dust! I bring darkness and mayhem until my glands are satisfied!!"

Find out!
Enter username:
Are you a girl, or a guy ?

created by beatings : powered by monkeys

Aaaahh, the memories...

I got my twelve sided die and I'm ready
to roll with a wizard and my goblin crew.
My friends are comin' over to my mom's basement
bringing Funions and the Mountain Dew.
I got a big broadsword made out of cardboard
and the stereo's a pumpin' Zepplin.
It's that time of the night, turn on the black light.
Let the Dungeons and the Dragons begin.

Fightin' with the legends of yore.
Never kissed a lady before (Nope. Nuh uh)

Now the Lord of The Rings, the Dark Crystal and things
we use these as a reference tool.
And when we put on our cloaks and tell warlock jokes
we're the coolest kids in the school (No we're not. I know)
Now attack's a real bastard, but a fair Dungeon Master
has hitpoints and charisma to lend
I rehearse in my room or what I call the Dragon's Tomb
when I'm not out with my girlfriend.

IT'S D an... Wait wait, whoa, whoa. You got a girlfriend?
Yeah... Yeah... No.
Warriors who terrify
Virgins, till the day weeeeeeeeeeee DIEEEEEEEEEEEE!

"Dungeons and Dragons" by Stephen Lynch


Commentary: Bush still fighting the last war

Do you feel safer than you did five years ago? Republicans hope the answer is yes and that you'll give them full credit.

Of course, on a related note, they also hope you've developed full-fledged amnesia.

They hope you've forgotten all about immigration reform and how the White House and GOP-controlled Congress were going to fix a broken system and seal a porous border -- things that make many Americans feel less safe and less secure.

Five years after the attacks of September 11, 2001, the Bush administration is still fighting the last war.



Lunchbreak Weekend Roundup - Slashdot and more

News roundup from the weekend. First up is The Science of eBay:
Professors of marketing, economics, management, and psychology have published dozens of papers to try to explain how and why eBay users buy and sell online. At the same time, there is no shortage of people offering helpful hints online. Kerry Miller takes a novel approach, offering 10 tips to maximize your profit that are based on a summary of these scientific analyses, rather than just 'educated' guessing.
Might be worth looking into. Especially since Donna's contemplating opening up an eBay storefront.

Next up we have MythTV Compared with Windows Media Center (I really need to try out MythTV one of these days, especially as DirecTV will be changing the way they implement TiVo at some point):
Tom's Hardware has a nice comparison of MythTV and Windows Media Center Edition, and it seems that they preferred MythTV by quite a margin: 'Enter MythTV, a grand unification of personal digital video recording and home theatre technology, and a magnum opus of modular design, freedom of expression and personal entertainment.'
And then we have an interesting piece from the Game Politics site, via the Games department of Slashdot. Saturday they revisited the question, 'Can videogames be considered art?'. They touch on the words of Roger Ebert, and discuss a recent piece on the subject in the Sydney Herald. From the article:
"Brendan McNamara, game director for Team Bondi, makers of the upcoming film noir PS3 game L.A. Noire, has no doubt his team is creating art. With a project plan that includes 170 pages describing cinematic moments, and 1,200 pages detailing interactive events, the game has a Hollywood-like budget of more than $30 million. 'We control the delivery of the information ... We give players a setting and a framework, we control what they see and do. So how are we not authors?' McNamara wonders if video games are stigmatized because they are a mostly commercial venture. At the same time, he believes that being driven by sales is a good thing."
Slashdot poses the questions: Are games too different from other form of expression to be considered art? Is Shadow of the Colossus comparable to Leaves of Grass or Citizen Kane?

On the personal front, we spent Saturday staining the fence and deck. As I was concerned with permanent damage to my shoes, I did so barefoot and subsequently got about an inch worth of wood stabbed into the bottom of my foot. I think some of it is still in there, as my walking around King's Dominion on Sunday seemed to aggravate it and it hurts like the dickens now. Heading out soon to have it looked at... Hopefully no tetanus shot needed...


Do-It-Yourself Robotics

(Side note: I should start calling this the Lunchtime Break Blog, as that is when it seems most convenient for me to catch up on news and post.)

Slashdot article on robotics with more than just Lego Mindstorms...
Imagine Legos and Erector Sets on crack. The fruit of a collaboration between Lego and the MIT Media Lab, the Toronto-based startup Playful Invention Company is offering the PicoCricket, "a kit of parts that can be used to build an infinite variety of robotic inventions." The kit contains an assortment of pom poms, pipe cleaners, and other craft materials reminiscent of a summer camp art period. It also includes a collection of Lego bricks and electronics: the Cricket "brain" and a motor, colored lights and a soundbox, a digital display, and an infrared beamer that allows the Cricket to communicate with a PC on which kids write the programs that control their invention's behavior. Perhaps the most important parts in the Cricket kit are the four sensors, which detect light, sound, touch, and electrical resistance. "It was lots of fun making things and controlling their action," says Grover Venkatasubramaniam (age 10). "The most fun was programming the robots. It felt like giving life to lifeless bodies."
Someday I shall get to play with a Mindstorm. Oh yes. Someday I shall.


RIP Steve Irwin - and a New Site to Visit

I'm sure everyone has heard the news, and seen the commentaries about the passing of Steve Irwin. I usually don't make comments unless an event affects me in some momentous way (self-centered view, I know), but in browsing the web I came across a site I hadn't before. This guy is effing hilarious, mature readers only tho, so be forewarned. Anyways, he did a piece on Irwin, and I'm right there with him.
I guess on some level, sure... we were all laughing at him a little. You can't run around in khaki short-shorts smiling as innocently as Steve did, or get as unabashedly excited about kangaroo poop as Steve got, without inviting at least some measure of ridicule. Yet simultaneously, there was an unspoken understanding among us that, even if he did perhaps owe most of his bravery to having the emotional development of a functionally retarded ten year-old, the dude had balls the size of Ayers Rock. It's probably an unwritten rule of male machismo that once you've got "Put crocodile in headlock" on your resume, you're pretty much allowed to act and dress however the [heck] you like. Steve earned the right to be ridiculous.


We'll miss you, Steve. Hopefully you're in a better place now, with all manner of dangerous and poisonous mythical creatures - all of which are patiently waiting for you to walk up behind them while you yell excitedly at a camera, before lifting up their tails to prod curiously at their genitalia.
God bless ya, Steve, and all my condolences to the family you left behind. We will indeed miss you.

But do check out Jay's site. Some of the comics on there, and fake ads, made me almost fall outta my chair.