Sun, 17 Aug 2003

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a definition of existentialism

I haven't really thought about this for a while now, but an IM conversation made me reflect on it again. In high school, after reading The Stranger and The Plague by Albert Camus, it was something that I started thinking about. The ideas definitely affected my way of thinking. I won't expound on it right now, but I found a pretty good very brief attempt at explaining existentialism.

20:56:44 17 Aug 2003 > /soul > permalink > 0 comments

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pervasive advertising

Do you remember that scene from "Minority Report" where ads would pop-up directly targeting Tom Cruise whenever he would pass by the hot spot?

The technology to do this is probably already here. It's just about deployment now. First, there is Counter-Googling (link from popdex.com), where, because of blogging, people are voluntarily pumping large amounts of data about their private life and preferences, and companies can easily harvest potential targets. Then there is the fact that I feel like the wireless revolution is finally in full swing, with the cel phone/PDA convergence rapidly occurring and actually becoming practical, while Bluetooth and 802.11b is being deployed in real-life, and sometimes large scale applications. The idea of pervasive computing is easily possible, with persistent connectivity to the net, whether through 802.11b and public access hotspots, or perhaps through GSM/GPRS. Text messaging is finally taking off in the U.S. (whereas in Asia, even 5 years ago, it was already ubiquitous, existing even in developing nations like the Philippines.) Imagine if the utilities stuck 802.11b access point/routers or cel phone towers at key locations, even underground in subway systems, on freeways, in public parks.

Of course, it would have to withstand the apparent economic disincentive for providing these kind of luxuries. I mean, if corporations have no desire to update the electrical infrastructure, we could be at the onset of a technological counter-revolution, but instead of the people rising up against the corporations, like the Luddites, it's the corporations that are holding the people down.

15:22:06 17 Aug 2003 > /computers/AI > permalink > 0 comments

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dhtml lemmings

A version of Lemmings running on a web browser. (Link from popdex.com. Check out the Lemmings Compendium for more information.) I loved this game. The object is to get a bunch of lemmings from a trapdoor to an exit. They all walk mindlessly in a straight line, and will plunge happily to their deaths off of cliffs, so you have to direct them by ordering them to tunnel and dig and stand still to block off their compatriots, and you only have a limited number of these orders. With the insanely cute sound effects, there is something murderously hilarious about it. (Nothing like a 100 lemmings screaming "Oh no!" when you decide to hit the apocalypse button to give up the level, causing each and everyone of them to explode and wreak havoc on the playing field. I remember giggling like a madman whenever they'd fall from too great of a height and splatter.)

I first played it on my oldest friend's dad's Amiga 2000 which was an awesome computer. It had two trackball/mouse/joystick ports, so you could actually play against each other, head-to-head, and indirectly massacre each other's lemming populations. (Like by creating a tunnel leading into the abyss, or sending suicide bombers.)

I also had a MS-DOS version, which wasn't as fun because you could only play the 1-player version, and I didn't have a sound card. Talk about a step back. (What could've been if Commodore had actually survived?)

15:07:53 17 Aug 2003 > /computers/games > permalink > 6 comments

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notes on remotedotcomments

I was using remotedotcomments for the commenting system on my old blog. Since I know nothing about PHP and since dotcomments itself is no longer supported by the author (the last update was 2 years ago), while Phil Ringnalda— who is responsible for the remotedotcomments kludge—is very responsive with regards to support, I installed it despite my host supporting PHP directly. It is basically a Javascript client side include kludge which some fancy DOM manipulation for the comment count that I don't understand. This makes it perfect if you want to keep your blog on blogspot.com, but have access to another site that allows PHP. (Why not just move your blog to the site that supports PHP in the first place? Well, inertia—or pure laziness—is a powerful force, I guess. Plus, cool URI aren't supposed to change.)

Now that I've started using Blosxom with the writeback plugin enabled, I don't really need dotcomments anymore, but since I've been playing with Blogger lately, I decided to keep it around.

Phil Ringnalda has pretty good instructions on how to install remotedotcomments although it is not exactly plug and play. The most common problem seems to be failing to set the permissions on the comment subdirectory properly (while more restrictive permissions may be possible, chmod 777 should allow it to work.) There is also a caveat now that Blogger has switched to a new system, particularly with regards to the unique blog item ID. The ID is actually being interpreted as a number by Javascript, and the new IDs are getting rounded, resulting in problems with saving comments and in counting comments. The work-around is really simple: add quotes to the function call.

In a Blogger template, this is the critical line to change (usually where your byline would be placed, in the <Blogger> section):

instead of: <a href="javascript:viewComments(<$BlogItemNumber$>)"><span id="comment<$BlogItemNumber$>">comment</span></a>

do this: <a href="javascript:viewComments('<$BlogItemNumber$>')"><span id="comment<$BlogItemNumber$>">comment</span></a>
(Note the single quotes in the function call)

(I found this solution in the comments to the remotedotcomments page, which has swollen to 366 comments at the time of this writing.)

13:35:32 17 Aug 2003 > /computers/www > permalink > 5 comments

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an exercise in the commoditization of culture

Is it all just a matter of perspective? For some reason, I find it funny that, to me, when the Japanese appropriate American culture, it's clever and whimsical and post-modern and says a lot about the consumer culture we live in. (For example, witness the phenomenon of Engrish and all the websites on the net devoted to Engrish) But when Americans appropriate Japanese culture, it's just stupid. (Witness the amalgamation of often nonsensical kanji and kana that people put on their products or even on their skin—link from littleyellowdifferent.) I suppose I'm just an Asian chauvanist. Although I think it has a lot to do with the fact that most Americans wouldn't know the difference between different Asian cultures if their lives depended on it. (Which it might, come to think about it. I can tell you that it's not a good thing that Kim Jong-Il has nuclear weapons. It makes me think of the game Civilization II and the threat: "our words are backed by nuclear weapons!")

09:34:20 17 Aug 2003 > > permalink > 0 comments