*we put the "mmm" in communism


This is the personal blog of Tim. Here, Tim writes on anything he has enough inspiration to finish a post on. That usually ends up being matters of science, pop culture, technology, religion, and philosophy.

This blog is around nine years old, which is over a third of Tim's current age. Back in 2003, it was called "Of Tim: Tim's life - or lack thereof", and it was as bad as you might expect the blog of a freshman in high school to be. Tim hopes that his writing is a little better, these days.

Tim welcomes any input that you, the dear reader, might have. Comments are very much appreciated, especially if you have a dissenting opinion. If you'd like to learn more about Tim, you might want to see his facebook or google+.

Also: Tim is a very avid consumer of various sorts of music. You may be interested in his playlists!

Oblivion, lol
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I am now taking a short break to give you some preliminary (after 30 or 40 hours of playing) thoughts on Oblivion. Eventually, I'd like to do a nice, extensive review with some of my personal favorite screenshots and whatnot, but for now, I just want to jot down some interesting things.

The first being, the graphics, and my computer's rendering capability. I am ever so close to being able to max out the settings in every category. My main limitation lies in the speed and capacity of RAM. PC3200 is standard, but contains no capacity for overclocking, and combined with the mere 512MB (hopefully being rectified tomorrow), my computer is unhappy with Oblivion's extensive use of textures.

I've been running the game at 1024x768, with HDR enabled, and all other settings set to maximum. Because Oblivion uses floating-point HDR (Half Life 2 and Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory use an "interlaced" version that is much closer to Bloom than true HDR), anti-aliasing is off by default. I have not yet tried forcing AA on, but judging from the performance I got with Bloom and 4xAA, I do not expect a strong display of computing prowess.

For those of you that do not know, HDR is a lighting system that attempts to simulate the intricacies of the eye - moving from dark areas to light areas results in greater brightness for a period of time, which is inversely true for the reverse situation (that is, moving from light to dark results in a very dark environment). However, the lack of native AA almost makes Bloom (what is generally referred to as the "cheap knockoff" of HDR) more preferable. I took some comparison shots which you can see here.

Anti-aliasing becomes a serious issue when I'm faced with large patches of grass. Much of Oblivion is covered with truly spectacular fields of grass that will make your computer commit seppuku if you are not properly prepared. I have not sufficiently played with the settings to rectify this situation, but that will come soon. Playing with the settings can be rather frustrating when you have to restard Oblivion for any kind of major settings changes.

As for the game, I can safely say this is the best game I've played in years. Is it the best game I've ever played? I don't know, but it just might be. More to come later.

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These Times of Ours
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In many senses, this is what one could consider the second part to my post about my paths in life. This is probably not the final portion, but it is a continuation, of sorts.

My overall progress towards pinpointing where I should be headed has actually headed in a negative direction. I'm no longer sure about anything at all. Sample questions that have been running circles through my head might be:

Do I want to do something in English? Writing? What kind of writing? Creative? Books? News? Editorials?

Do I want to do something involving communication? Commucation theory? Media?

What kind of media? Modeling and rendering? Image manipulation? Web design?

What about computers? Computer science? Game design? Software development?

I can't help but wish that through all this, I had some kind of guiding motivation. In some kind of weird way, I wish something bad would happen to me that drove me to a specific career. This brings me to wishing these times of ours were more exciting. One could argue that there's nothing more exciting than carbon nanotubes and cloning (even if it was faked), but recently, that stuff just doesn't interest me.

This train of thought brings me back to a belief I once had in elementary school. I was thoroughly convinced that I had been born in the wrong century. In specific, I was really meant to be a chivalrous knight of old, fighting for the honour (I've taken to spelling that with a 'u' - I read a quote that went something like "I put the U in honour because it seems to be missing these days") of...something. Needless to say, I had some issues with reality back in the day.

The point here is to say, I don't have a direction. I spent an hour today staring at prospective colleges, not because I'm worried, but to get some kind of inspiration from their lists of majors and minors. The trouble is, when I think of any one profession I might like, I see huge blocks that would severely hamper my enjoyment. Examples:

Computer science (being my original choice) is still a viable option at this point, because I do enjoy programming. The problems here are that I don't know if I enjoy it THAT much, but really, the killer is the math. Supposedly, I'll need lots of math. I don't enjoy math enough to spend my life doing that. Is there a compromise?

Engineering, I suppose, is still on the table. I don't like the vast majority of fields in engineering, and this pretty much leads me straight back to computer science. What I do know, however, is that I do NOT want to be a computer engineer.

The most obvious combination of the above two is Software Engineering, which may just be the solution to the problem. Software engineers are lovingly known as "code monkeys", mostly for their ignorance of elegant and robust technique. This is the main problem with software engineering - I do not want lesser training. I, like Will Wright, am very fond of the algorithm, and would thoroughly enjoy applying elegant solutions to complex problems. Could I do this with software engineering? I have no idea.

Journalism is just kind of a random thing that sounded cool. Potential issues I see mostly involve the content of what I would write. I could see myself writing for some website (preferable) or newspaper (not so preferable), but I definitely don't want to write about politics or sports.

More thoughts out loud. I submitted a question to /. that probably won't get answered, and I'll submit another one tomorrow regarding the mathematical difference between SE and CS. Comment, please.

(also, I fixed the javascript to work for Opera)
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Prelude to the Epilogue
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Today's Onion Day Calender reads:

Gay TV
Gay themed televeision series like Bravo's Queer Eye for the Staight Guy and Boy Meets Boy are popular with mainstream audiences. What's the Appeal?
  • Better than Oxygen's Lesbian OshKosh B'Gosh Outlet-Store Shopping Spree
  • 90% of Americans are latent homosexuals
  • Fans can live fun-filled life vicariously through gay characters before having methodical sex with wife in Mobile, Alabama
  • Explode myth that gay people are human beings like the rest of us
  • Homosexuals not so intimidating when they're 22" tall
  • Lost remote, accepting alternate sexuality easier than getting up and crossing room
  • The Mexicans already had a network, why not the fruits?
  • Crocodile-huntersexuals, Osbournosexuals, and antiques-roadshowsexuals are old hat.
In other news, I may have a soft spot for orchestral power metal. What is that, you ask? I sort of stumbled upon it while watching this video (which, by the way, I'm pretty sure isn't fake). I really liked the music to it, and the description mentions "Trans-Siberan Orchestra". I found this name to be super awesome, so I did some poking on, and lo and behold, there they are. The only trouble is, half their music has some form of singing in it, which is not okay. I'm now on the quest to find what is possible the most obscure genre: Instrumental Orchestral/Symphonic Power Metal.

If anyone could, you know, help me with this, that'd be super.
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You Call Down the Thunder
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Here, ladies and gentlemen, is my CIA rant. I gotta get this out of my system - I was babbling about it pretty much all day after the speech, so otherwise, I'll be doing this for practically EVAR until I write thoroughly about it.

(for those of you who don't know, CIA stands for Congress in Action. it's where US History students get assigned a representative, an issue, and must argue for or against this issue based on the opinions of their representative. this involves a lengthy research paper, a short speech, and an open debate.)

My representative is an ultra-crazy Democrat from Texas, strangely enough. I don't exactly agree with her on 75% of everything, but thankfully, for this, I can argue my true opinion. The topic I presented was a fake bill providing for the legalization of Bush's warrantless surveillance program. My job was to explain why this is a bad thing.

All around, I've actually had trouble with delivery of my content. I have really excellent content (if I do say so myself), but in both the paper and the speech, I've had issues with getting that message across. In the paper, I had serious length issues. I barely pulled it up to 6 full pages (although this can depend on which text editor you use), which is kind of the minimum. I had plenty of sources and research to use, but I ended up having to quote excessively, which I wasn't too pleased about.

I initially had trouble coming up with convincing arguments, but in the end, it came around like this:
  • the bill is improper:
    • violates IV Amendment (surveillance is unwarranted, and entirely unreported)
    • violates all provisions of FISA (exceeds the full year under which the president may conduct warrantless surveillance)
    • not provided for under the PATRIOT Act/AUMF (intended for action against the September 11 terrorists, and none others)
  • the bill is ineffective:
    • america faces much larger issues of security:
      • we've failed in the war on drugs (it's a $65 Billion business in America alone)
      • we've failed in our border control (60 million people travel through the US yearly, 7 million living on american soil illegally)
    • the targets are hardly traceable considering the aforementioned facts
  • the bill is unnecessary:
    • warrants provide necessary checks & balances against abuse in the system
    • warrants are easily obtained (usually less than 24 hours), and not necessary for up to 72 hours under FISA, therefore meaning they do not hinder time-sensitive situations
    • aforementioned time-sensitive situations are EXTREMELY rare
That pretty much sums up my arguments. I tried to communicate most of that in my speech, but I was REALLY nervous and it was REALLY cold in that room, so I stopped a lot, coughed a lot, and apparantly scratched my nose a lot. Apparantly my "content was great, delivery was not so great". Because of my bad delivery, a lot of my points didn't reach home.

The ensuing debate was very infuriating. The "Republicans" were ABSOLUTELY obnoxious - they'd clap whenever anybody said anything supporting their side, and kept using the SAME argument over and over even though I'd proven them wrong (ex. they kept saying time-sensitive situations were still threatened, I kept quoting FISA, which provided exactly what they needed). I also didn't get to address the biggest point which was "if you have nothing to hide, then why does it matter?", because Khoa (the Speaker of the House) kept picking the same people. I really hope they let us finish it tomorrow.

So, yeah, that's CIA. I've had fun with it.

And I'll reap the whirlwind.

[edit: This is entirely unrelated, but I found this snippit from a BBC article on a truly awful military idea very funny.

"During WWII: Attach a bomb to a cat and drop it from a dive-bomber on to Nazi ships. The cat, hating water, will "wrangle" itself on to enemy ship's deck. In tests cats became unconscious in mid-air."
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The world, up-side down.
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One of the scariest realizations you can ever have is that maybe, just maybe, you've been wrong for eight years.

I've been telling myself since, heavens, even before I moved to Ithaca that my true destiny was to do something with computers. I knew it had to be computers. I knew it. Knew it. Knew it. But as I stayed home today because I blew off all my homework so I could hang out with Daniel, and dreaded doing the next APCS project, I started talking with Paul. We discussed our schedules and all that jazz, and he asked why I was taking math next year.

Because not taking math would be silly, of course.

Why is that silly? have to have math to be a Computer Scientist. I don't really like math, though. I don't dislike math, but I gotta know it.


It was somewhere around this point that I kind of realized that although I enjoy all things technological and computerized, it just isn't what I want to do in life. I like programming, it's fun, but I don't like programming under deadlines and doing things that I WOULD have to do were I to go into that field. I enjoy the idea, but I definitely don't enjoy it enough to live it.

The thing that really sold me in the first place was when people started telling me I was good at this stuff. Boy, was that reassuring. But then came Digital Electronics. Wow, do I not care about this stuff. At all. It didn't really hit me until just now that - hey, I don't enjoy this. So, what DO I enjoy?

At this moment, I'm really not sure.

The basic fact I can rely on here is that I like computers and like playing with computers. But the times at which I've enjoyed the technical aspects of computers were always towards other ends. In general, towards advancing this blog. I didn't learn javascript or PHP for the heck of it, I did it to improve the blog. My motives behind learning the hardware inside my computer weren't just to build a computer, but mostly to learn how to improve it, so I could run my games at leet settings. The learning was a means to an end, not an end in and of itself.

What do I want to do? I don't think it's computers anymore. I've known for a while now that I enjoy analyzing things a lot more than doing things that require analyzation, and I think some form of creative expression is a lot closer to what I want to be doing. Paul says he's looking at journalism, which I find to be a really intruiging idea. I am a geek, I know that for certain, but being a writer for some kind of magazine or website sounds a lot of fun. I admire the guys at Gamespot a lot - what they do isn't as easy as it looks.

Something that's always stuck out in my mind is a story I wrote in 7th grade. Those of you that had Mahadabe (NO IDEA HOW TO SPELL THAT) for English at DeWitt, you might remember that really crappy slave story we read, called Nightjohn, and the extra chapter assignment we did. I did it with some level of vigor, and when I read it in front of the class, there was a collective "....huh?". Upon recieving the paper back, it was covered in gigantic letters reading: "WOW!!! THIS IS AMAZING!!!". I had accidentally left the file up when I was done, and my dad had read it (family computer days), and then proceeded to send it to my brothers and showed it to my mom and my cousins, and my uncle, which resulted what could only be described as very bothersome.

Now, I know a 7th grade English paper proves absolutely nothing concerning my skills of an author, but upon retrospect, I really enjoy writing. That's why I have this blog, that's why I make this blog look pretty (actually, the current design isn't all that pretty, but that will eventually change). I enjoy the technical aspects of making this blog work, but honestly, I enjoy the things that have instant output. I don't like the drawn out process of programming, I like the NOW aspect, which is what I got in Programming 1 & 2 - extremely basic programming that produced pretty results, thanks to BlueJ and Objectdraw. So, what does this all mean?

I'm not entirely sure. This leaves me baffled as to what I'm gonna do with college. My entire future was set on this idea of going to a tech school. I think the main reason I really wanted to go to RPI was not for the training, but the poeple I'd be with. I find the idea of being in a gigantic dorm with hundreds of geeks like me extremely appealing, but I don't think that's the reason I should be going to a place like RPI. What this means for me next year, I really don't know. I need time to figure this out, but until then, I have to work. Work, work work.

[edit: i revised this a good bit, so it will look significantly different to those of you that already read this]
posted by MC Froehlich at with 0 Comments
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Some of you know I'm doing a LAN party of sorts on the 31st, my birthday. I have some "official" details involving this, so listen up, y'all:

It's gonna be on March 31st, which is a Friday, 19 days from now. Required items:
  • $5 dollars (I'll need all of it)
  • Your Computer (please don't bring anything less than 500 mhz, this isn't a Smithsonian exhibit)
  • CAT5, ~20 ft length (NECESSARY)
  • Large blanket (explained later)
Other helpful but not necessary items:
  • A large hub/switch. Larger is MUCH better. Karel said he might have this covered, but, just in case, please bring one, if possible.
  • Starcraft (we can burn copies, but...)
I'm having issues with the limit of people that will be here. I had originally wanted to keep it at 8, but I will have to go to 10 for various reasons. 10 is pretty much the max, for a lot of reasons. Various information involving this:
  • Starcraft, the main game, only supports 8 people. This in itself is okay, as I'm willing to sit back and let other poeple play, but we obviously can't go much higher than that.
  • Starcraft will be a mix of melee and custom games. I know a lot of the people coming aren't good at melee, but a few of the people that are much prefer melee (I enjoy it a lot too), so I'll do my best to make a balance.
  • Other games that are up in the air are Tribes 2, Warcraft III, and Quake 3, these are all possibilities. If you have ideas, LET ME KNOW SOON. Games must be at least 8 player, and fairly low performance.
  • We'll be playing in my basement, not the attic, so space will be slightly tighter than in the attic, but I'm confident there will be room. This means that if it's between bringing a laptop and a desktop, you really, really should bring a laptop.
  • I am not entirely sure how sleeping arrangements will work. I have one extra bed and one couch in the basement - most of the basement is unfurnished, so a lot of the space is no-go. We may have to stretch to the living room, which has three couches (let's see, that's 5 people covered thus far). This means a few people (assuming all 10 sleep over, which isn't going to happen) will have to sleep on the floor. I have blankets and such, but, BE PREPARED. Bring a large blanket or something.
If you want to come, let me know, maybe we can work something out. Some of you may have noticed that this coincides with my birthday; please DON'T get me presents. PLEASE. It's not a birthday party, it's an excuse to have a LAN. If you really, really, really want to, fine, but there won't be a ceremony or anything. You have your warning.
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Many things to report! The first of which, are my grades. They are good enough (I don't know the GPA) to justify coming back, but I still have work to do. In fact, I have a programming project that's now 3 days late that I need to finish for Monday.

So, the grades are like this:

English: B+ (one bad quiz and poor attendance)
US History: Pass
Math: Pass (bad homework, that's because i have no calculator still, so i can't do it)
APCS: A- (gonna fall with this next project)
Physics: B (i keep forgetting the homework! argh!)
CIM: B (poor attendance)
Digital: Pass (one bad test, keep forgetting homework, terrible attendence - it's my first period class)

Funny story with Digital - I walked in 30 minutes late one day and they had actually taken bets as to what time I'd get there. Mike was the winner with 8:20. When I say they took bets, Mr. Peters actually wrote down the bets on the board. The worst part is that the only scolding I got was from Mr. Briegle (read: he's not even the teacher of that class). Digital has improved since like three people dropped the class a few weeks ago, though. Much, much improved.

I've basically been getting NO sleep. Generally around ten hours for every five days of school - this isn't really because I'm playing games or whatever, it's because I fall asleep when I get home for an hour or two (I've been walking home recently, so I get home at 4:00), and somewhere between two and three days a week I now have Judo. Keep in mind, this isn't me complaining. I'm actually thoroughly enjoying finally taking on school and doing something with my time. I've pretty much adjusted to the sleep thing, and I've found I actually feel much better with 3 hours of sleep over 5 or 6. Moving on, though.


Several things have changed about my computer recently, which I think concerns each and every one of you. Firstly and most earth-shatteringly, I've switched to Opera. Opera, you ask? Opera was once the ad-laden alternative to Firefox, but has recently been purged of such foul inventions. Opera is, in general, significantly faster and less laden with "memory leaks" (I don't care what you call them, Mozilla Foundation, if it sucks up 100 MB of my memory, it's a memory leak). It's, in general, just more awesome. It has some issues with AJAX/Flash, but it works just fine in general. The biggest selling point for me was that it played about 50% more YTMNDs natively than Firefox did.

The only unfortunate part is that the widget support (AKA extensions) isn't as large as Firefox's was. I'm using the 9.0 beta, which is the only version that supports widgets. The widgets themselves are more akin to the Konfabulator I once used, which is now called something else under Yahoo's ownership.


Other things I've gotten into? is in there, which I had previously ignored for lack of knowledge of its radio-doodle. I'm now frantically trying to catch up with Zach and Paul in their track counts, which, considering my current Winamp stats, won't take too long, but it will certainly take time. I cheated last night and left music on overnight (with the volume off, silly), but I probably won't do that again. Note "probably". Ahem.


Most importantly, is the fact that the world will collapse in on itself with the arrival of Oblivion in a SINGLE WEEK! A SINGLE WEEK! AHAHA! I've not been this excited since the arrival of Halo 2! I scoured the internet for scans of the March 2006 OXM review of it (9.5 out of 10!), to no avail. Luckily, we get an early dismissal on the Thursday of that week, as well as a day off Friday. Truly, the heavens are aligning to accomodate the arrival of this magnificent piece of game.
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