Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Scorpions - Humanity

Just bought their album today - and it's good, really good. I LOVE Scorpions.

Here's the intro video of their new single, the first of that album :

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Checking results timetable

10 a.m : check the website.

Check again once every hour until 4 p.m

Starting from 4 p.m check every half hour

Starting 6 p.m check every 15 minutes

Waiting for results...

... Or what I hate about the french university system...

They take the smartest young people in the country, put them in competitive schools with enormous pressure for 2 years, 3 if things don't turn out, make them work day and night (litterally! They study over 12 hours per day and often times 6 days a week, sometimes 7)

And after all this they have NO guarantee of getting into the school they want. None whatsoever. They have to cross the country for their oral exams. They have to survive all of this pressure.

They have to wait months for their results.

Not knowing which city they will be in, what school...

After being seperated and alienated from their friends & family for over 2 years.

And then there's the easy way out. Just plain and simple university. An easy life with few classes, little homework, lots of fun and parties for all types of people, sports, arts...

Couldn't there be some balance? Couldn't there be a more forgiving system?

Sunday, July 15, 2007

DRM & iPhone

Another problem with the iPhone is the DRM that is so obviously incorporated inside. The iPhone is used as a communications device. (obviously)

According to the website linked in the title :
AT&T collaborated with the National Security Agency (NSA) in its massive, illegal program to wiretap and data mine Americans' communications.

I've already raised this issue without specifically mentioning DRM, which is why I'm doing another post.

Trying out Vista

The word got out that I like computers, and so here are a list of my tasks for this week :

* Figure out why a friend's new laptop with Vi$ta isn't "working"

* Figure out where the mystery icons on another friend's XP desktop come from

* Explain to another friend why their games they just bought won't work on their computer - their graphics card is 5 years old, their processor is slow and they don't have much RAM, and they're running linux anyway, so Wine will slow this down even more :(

The more "interesting" task for me, obviously, is trying out Vi$ta. At a first glance, the laptop seems to be working fine, it booted without any trouble, and I managed to log into the user account, connect to my WiFi, download Firefox, and turn the thing off.

So my task includes figuring out what doesn't work, and seeing if Vi$ta is really as bad as I was told. My guess would be a resounding yes. It's even more annoying than XP, with all those info-bubbles nagging you constantly to do stuff - what if I don't WANT to? Did that ever occur to the developpers? Guess not.

Also annoying is the constant nagging for security. Linux is very secure. Mac OS is very secure. And they don't nag (not too much anyway)

And ESPECIALLY the screen blackouts. I have no idea why they occur - it's restored to normal fairly quickly, but it's annoying anyway.

I'm not impressed just yet. Then again I wasn't expecting to be.

Have a zit? Try toothpaste!

I'm known as fairly wacky by my friends because whenever I have a zit, I apply toothpaste for about 30 minutes on the offending part, every day until it goes away - and it dries my zits right up.

It looks a bit odd because my toothpaste is green, which means that I often put it on before bed, but rinse it out before actually going to sleep because of bugs that are attracted to the smell.

For a long time I thought it was just something I did, but today I did a google search and apparently toothpaste is extremely effective - and I'm not the only one who uses it as a zit-zapper.

Wolf spiders

I truely dislike spiders. So why am I posting this piece? Because many people stumble on my blog through a google search for wolf spiders, and I don't have much about them.

So here goes.

These creatures, although ugly and hairy, aren't apparently too dangerous for humans - but their bite might be painful.
These evil creatures seem to be present in all types of environments and in all continents.

For more useful information than the expression of my extreme loathing of spiders, see this link :
Wikipedia on Wolf Spiders

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Why the iPhone won't be a smashing hit in France/Europe

I was talking to a friend last night, and the subject of the iPhone came up.
I currently have a Sony Ericsson V600i. I got it for about 30 euros. Almost a year ago. And in some aspects, it's better than the iPhone.
The iPhone is a huge craze in the States, but many of its features have been available on european phones for a long time - and it's shortcomings are even more obvious in Europe.
Calling it the "Jesus phone" is not only blasphemous, it's just not true.
Here is a top 9 list of reasons why it will not be a success (in France and/or Europe) :

* No MMS - people like sharing pictures mobile to mobile. If we wanted to e-mail them, we would.

* No bluetooth or almost. Well, you can have a bluetooth headset but that is ALL. My phone which I paid 29 euros for allows me to sync via bluetooth with my iBook (contacts, calendars, files) no fuss, no cables. It also allows me to quickly share files with my sister.

* No 3G. This means that unless you're on WiFi, you'll have a very slow network connexion. This also means no visio.

* No video-camera. OK it's kind of a gimmick, I next-to-never use it. But it's fun.

* Crappy camera with no flash. As I said, my Sony Ericsson that I didn't ruin myself on has better functionality here!

* No using mp3 songs as ringtones. This is especially ludicrous when one considers the thing is a full-blown iPod. Actually you CAN get a 30-second ringtone by paying an extra 99 cents on the Apple store to edit a song you've already bought from them. Who knows if you'll be able to use your own ringtones yet (haven't found any info online yet).

* No radio. Granted, I don't use my radio on my phone that often, but it can come in really handy sometimes.

* No applications you can add. Please don't say anything about security. Seriously a little java game as supported by most phones will NOT hurt anything. And don't tell me you can play games on internet (AJAX). That's just silly. What if you can't connect? I only play games when I'm bored out of my mind (a.k.a. no way to connect to the internet).

* No competition. In Europe that's very important. That's how I managed to get my little jewel of a phone for less than 100 euros. All the operators practically give away the phones if you'll register a phone plan with them, and you can have the choice between more than 3 phone plans per operator. It gives you more choice, more flexibility. WIthout competition, you're stuck. I believe it's extremely bad taste on Apple's part not to open up the iPhone to several operators.

You might object that despite all of these shortcomings, it has been a success in America. Well the in America part is the key here. In Europe people are used to having all of those functionalities for MUCH less than 600 euros.
And that's another thing. Apple still thinks that 1$ = 1 euro.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Top 9 songs about "waiting"

Here is a list of songs I like, on the topic of waiting. In no particular order (youtube vids at bottom of list) You can listen to them directly in this page. Some are not directly about waiting, but I'm including them anyhow, because under some interpretations they are.
They cover everything from waiting to see a loved one again, waiting for marriage, waiting to meet the love of your life, and waiting for better times to come.

This one is one I've always liked - I LOVE the Beach Boys. I don't think any more comments are necessary.
* Wouldn't it be nice? - Beach Boys

I remember hearing this song as a teenager and loving it - one of the only J.Lo songs that don't give me a headache. Her video, though, is very disappointing, like New Year's Eve in the jungle with lasers - what-ever!
* Waiting for tonight - J.Lo   
This one is about long-distance relationships and it is so dynamic, so melodic...
* No One Like You - Scorpions
In my case it's more like "Wake me up when July ends"...
* Wake Me up when September Ends - Green Day
This song is so sad and so beautiful I cried the first time I heard it- and I still do. I feel like it was written about me.
* Right here waiting - Richard Marx

This is a fun song, I like Cher quite a bit and it's another song about long-distance relationships and missing someone so much you go crazy.
* Dov'e L'amore - Cher

This one I actually don't care for that much. It's all about waiting for your future spouse, a very christian song that's quite popular. I included it for that reason but really I've never found it that heartwarming OR helpful.
* Wait For Me - Rebecca St James

I named my blog after this one :) Gotta love Jack Johnson...
* Sitting, Waiting, Wishing Jack Johnson

This is a song for all of my single friends and I think it's very beautiful - especially if you understand the french.
* En Attendant Ses Pas - Céline Dion

Getting out of debt...

A year ago : waiting to drive

Here is a post I wrote about waiting, a year ago. One of my more masterful posts, if I do say so myself. :p

Awesome. I've had my licence for nearly a year now, I should enjoy it and go for a drive today. :D

Waiting is OK when you're not ready.
Waiting is OK when you're not sure.
Waiting is OK when you're scared to death.

Waiting is annoying when you're aching to do something you could do, but aren't allowed to do yet.
When it would be so very practical and wonderful,
when it's something you know you'd enjoy and you know it would make other people's lives easier if you could do it.
When it would simplify travelling.
When it would make life as a whole easier.

Waiting is hard when everyone is doing it around you.
Even people who shouldn't.
When all your friends look at you in disbelief: "but I started when I was 16!"
When for a long time you believed you wouldn't have to wait so long but things didn't turn out quite as planned.
When you could probably get away with not waiting... after all, lots of people do, you just need to be careful...

I'm ready to drive. I'm good at it. I feel confident on the road. I believe I'll get my driver's licence right away, or if I don't, I'll miss not by much. I love driving. It would be sooooo practical. But I must wait. Wait until the lists aren't so full. Wait until September, when I could have been ready in July.

cute kittens pictures

I'm putting a link to this website which has TONS of the cutest little cats ever. Here is one picture to get your mouth watering :)

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Harry Potter & the Order of the Phoenix

That's the trailer. I just went to see the movie today, and I think that it was the best movie of the first five movies. It was one of the best books as well, I thought.

The story is more fluid -- it's the first movie in the series that doesn't give you the impression that it's just a spinoff - it's a real movie that stands alone and is enjoyable even if you haven't read the books. The first few movies gave me the impression that they weren't really ADDING anything - subtracting, almost - and the characters had no chemistry going between them.

This movie fixes that, and for once the special effects don't have me cringing (the basilisk and the werewolf, and fluffy, were horrible. As well as the troll. )
I really enjoyed the scene where they were flying on their broomsticks over London :D

And Luna - Luna... I didn't really care for the character in the books, but she really comes alive brilliantly on film. LOVE HER!

Umbridge was pretty good - although I didn't exactly imagine her like that.


I heard of the TV show online, and since I can't watch it here, I decided to go see some excerpts on youtube. For the most part, it looks pretty stupid - OF COURSE they're going to select the worst ones, who are going to act even worse, over the top, even, because they're on TV. Only a few clips were REALLY funny I thought.

Ugh I sure hope I won't be a bridezilla. Only case where I would be justified : if someone decided to play Alexandrie, Alexandra, by Claude François. Actually, that's not even a matter of being a bridezilla.

I just about bite ANYONE'S head off if they sing, or play that song. I hate it that much!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Going to try AdSense

I've heard so much about it - that I've decided to see how it works for me. I'm not expecting to generate MUCH revenue, but between my several websites and a bit of luck, I'm sure it'll be worth it. Nothing to lose anyhow. And I figure it'll be fun. And every little bit helps (only trouble is that it doesn't help much at all if you never reach the 100$ mark - but I guess many people do. So let's go!
Should be up in about a week or so.

Get a first life!

Last night, I decided to try out Second Life and see what all the hype was about. After all, Sarkozy, Segolene Royal, Le Pen and Bayrou all had virtual offices there, many churches are paying big bucks to have streaming video sermons playing there, companies and libraries are opening offices, and I even read about a french école d'ingénieurs teaching english by putting all of their students in front of Second Life. I've also heard of virtual universities... etc...
So I went to the website, and was pleasantly surprised to see they had a Mac OS X version, as well as Linux versions. (alpha) I took the Mac OS X version because it seemed to me that it was further developed and I wanted to give the game a try in the best possible conditions.
I signed up (free), got a name (which I won't disclose because I don't really plan on playing much anymore so what's the point?) and opened the program.
A note about the previously mentioned best possible conditions. I have an iBook G4, 1.33 GHz PowerPC, and only 512 Mb of memory (which I plan on changing soon, to 1.5 Gb.). I also am on a wireless connection, with DSL. So my system isn't extraordinarily fast, but it's not too bad either. I'll try the game again when I have more RAM.
I noticed a lot of lag. Sometimes I would be pressing my arrow keys like a maniac just to get my character moving, and realize 2 seconds later that I had run into a wall. The game was very slow, and not very pretty. Graphically it's quite disappointing. I know that's not due to my system because I've subsequently seen screenshots and videos on youtube and the like.
Then began the fun (and somewhat frustrating part) : making myself look unique. I love creating characters, I had a lot of fun making my sim at a friends house, making my Mii on my Wii, and this was kind of fun too, although frustrating because of the lag, and because every now and then she would get out of focus. I was also frustrated because I wanted to make her skirt a bit longer because I took the trousers off (pants is such a loaded word in some countries.... :p) and the game didn't let me. So now I'm walking around with a mini-mini skirt. Oh well. It's just a game. I made her face look nicer and gave her pretty eyes. My major frustration though, was the hair. The hair feature is very poorly designed and I have no idea how people actually manage to get nice-looking hair - definately not through the game's interface, at least not without spending hours at it. So I got acceptable hair (by making it black it looks ok) and a nice face, got rid of the exceedingly unrealistic curves given to me by default and was fairly happy.
Next I tried flying. Was fine until I landed in a bush and was stuck. I tried all the menus to see if there was a way to get out of there like go back to the starting point of the orientation island. There wasn't. However, due to the lag, even in the menu, I accidentally took all my clothes off. I didn't really care - I was stuck in a stupid bush and couldn't move, and it's not like the character was actually me or actually anatomically correct (I later understood that you have to buy the right to exit Barbie-doll status). But I was in a PG-area none the less, and I don't like walking about naked, so I looked for a way to get my clothes back on, and there was none in the menu. So I quit the game and started back up. Still in the bush, still naked. And half of the menus were frozen, this time, so I couldn't even try to get them back on. I quit again, and did a quick search on the internet. Apparantly, this has happened to a lot of people. I eventually found out that I could use my inventory to get re-dressed. Which I promptly did. (after re-starting my poor computer)
I (eventually) figured out how to leave orientation island, and then help island, and make it into the real world. Now I didn't want to spend any real money, so I decided to look for a job. Well, good luck with that. Either you dance on a dance-pad for L$1 per 8 minutes, (virtually nothing and a waste of system resources IMHO) either you become a stripper. Basically. Other jobs require paying money and knowing how to design skins. Now I don't want to become a stripper, even in a stupid game, and I couldn't anyway with my fairly default avatar. Choosy choosy choosy. So I decided to just forget this and explore.
I teleported to Japan (obvious choice). Well, most people there speak Japanese (surprise) and with the lag and the not-so-cool imagery, I eventually got frustrated. I now understand what flying is for : when you fall off, or end up in the sea by some strange miracle, it's useful to get out of that situation.
I tried going to France. I feel like the game is empty. People there aren't very talkative, and when they are it's like "hi. where are you from? oh that's nice. bye".
I guess you can only have fun with this game if you have lots of patience, RL friends on it, a fairly new computer (but not one of the newest Vista PCs), and are willing to dish out RL cash. (building houses and getting pretty clothes and REALLY customizing your hairdos could be fun, even I, the proverbial stick-in-the-mud, can see that) Oh - and IF they get more servers. Seriously. And update the graphics. And gameplay. Ugh. Think very first playstation except less cool.
The most fun I actually had was laughing at my avatar with my sister, and reading other people's (negative and sometimes quite funny) experiences on their websites. So why another post? Aren't I just making the hype bigger by blogging this?
Well, perhaps also to vent. I find it really stupid that people assume "geeks" necessarily like that stuff. They can - especially since the game is on the path to becoming open-source - find interest in programming it, in creating stuff, but it's a myth that geeks care about social networking and are the ones inventing all those horrid spellings on the internet AnD TyPiNg LiKe ThIs. Geeks actually care about grammar and are more particular about spelling than most people. Geeks would be the type to point out that the phrase "I can't get no satisfaction" should mean, because of the double negative, "I'm quite satisfied". Geeks care about knowledge in general. Sometimes they can be quite picky. (just read some of the talk pages on Wikipedia articles) They care about detail and exactitude. Optimizing. Social networking can be a bonus (becoming friends with someone in a Linux User Group, for example) - but I don't know any geeks who have a MySpace page, except for the ones who were curious to see just how the basic code is (is it W3C-compliant to start out with and the users mess it up? actually it's rotten from start to end), but don't actually put anything on there. And thinking Second Life is cool, doesn't prove anything about being a geek, or even about being tech savvy. It just proves you have a lot of patience and not much of a Real Life. However, don't generalize what I'm saying to all gamers. I actually have quite a bit of respect for WoW. (when used in moderation), although I have never played myself.

This was originally posted on my website

Brand new layout

I decided to rekindle the usage of this blog, and I didn't really work too hard on this but I have a new, more personalized, if not perfect, layout. I like it enough to not want to spend too much time working on it. This will have to do for now.

My future is on hold...

Ok that *might* sound a little melodramatic, but seriously, I have NO idea what city I'll be in next year, NO idea of a timeline, and so many things depend on the results on July 18th...
Thankfully I have things to keep me busy until then, but still. I hate waiting.