January 30, 2005

Big deal

During my various shopping excursions this weekend, i only ended up buying one thing. I picked up a pack of giant playing cards from Restoration Hardware. I can't explain why. It's not as though i (or anyone else for that matter) would ever have a need for a very large deck of cards. I seem to laugh every time i look at them and i guess that was reason enough to justify the purchase. I keep picturing some guys sitting around a darkened poker table trying to play a serious game with these giant cards and i just crack up. I've figured out that i have to shuffle them the short way as my thumb-pinky span isn't long enough to pull it off the traditional way. If you want your own, they have them on their site but the ones in store are cooler and 50% off or something like that.

a very large playing card
Posted by Matthew at 07:05 PM | Comments (0)

January 29, 2005

A show of some importance

I found out tonight that Actors' Theatre has finally chosen the final show of the season. It's going to be A Man of No Importance. It's written by the same team responsible for Ragtime. I'm a bit disappointed it didn't turn out to be Urinetown as was rumored; however i'm willing to give it a shot. The show will run May 19-28.

Posted by Matthew at 10:58 PM | Comments (0)

The dishes are done, man

It's been a very busy week and, as a result, i haven't been able to keep up on my chores at the apartment. To help catch up, i thought i would try something new. I gave my dishwasher a go.

I've never used one before. When i was growing up we never had one, nor did my first apartment (where i even got the hang of doing the dishes in a single sink). So for the past year and a half at my current residence, i just continued to do them by hand because i seemed to have that down. I never saw the need to use the dishwasher. Plus, i was a bit scared of it as well; i never understood how you were supposed to use it. I'm also familiar with the term "dishwasher-safe" which would imply that there are things that are not dishwasher safe and i wouldn't know the difference.

In the end my dishes seemed to come out alright. There was a pan i had to watch by hand, but everything else seemed clean enough to eat off. I think i may even use it again sometime.

Posted by Matthew at 10:46 PM | Comments (2)

January 25, 2005

What's in a GIF

A while back i mentioned that i was playing with creating my own GIF images from scratch. I never did quite finish that project, but i did learn a lot. I had started putting together my own GIF guide by combining information i gathered from a bunch of different sources. I like samples and pictures so i made some of my own. I stopped when i went on my vacation and never quite resumed my momentum. I've recently started poking at it again. Most of the information is now complete; however it's still poorly written. I'm going to go ahead and publish it now in hopes it will give me the extra push to clean it up. So anyway, i present my "illustrated" guide to everyone's favorite web-savvy raster image format: What's In a GIF. I know GIFs are soooo 1997, but maybe there's at least one other person out there that might find this interesting.

Posted by Matthew at 09:20 PM | Comments (0)

January 23, 2005


Being the math geek i am, i thought i should check out CBS's new series, Numb3rs. Having watched the show, it seems they ran out of cities to set CSI series in, so rather than changing the location, they changed the academic discipline. I can't believe they're building another series on the exact same formula (<--pun). I've never been a big fan of CSI mainly because the episodes i've seen exploit the audience's ignorance of scientific principles. In the same way, this series made light of the actual art of mathematics, choosing to make it part of the drama only by jumping to scenes featuring the past represented by super-saturated/de-saturated colors and equations dancing across the screen. "Ohh, look at all the math." In the end its just another show where some cops are trying to catch bad guys. The only plus was that it featured Sabrina Lloyd, too bad her character isn't funny in this series.

Posted by Matthew at 11:07 PM | Comments (0)

January 21, 2005


If someone IMs you something that they think you will find amusing, please choose an appropriate response. If you did not actually laugh out loud, you may not type "lol." That's just a lie and leads the reader to think they are funnier then they actually are. Now if you didn't find the message even remotely entertaining, i would suggest replying with "uhm, ok." That's sure to send the "that's lame" message. Let's say that your reaction was somewhere in the middle, and you in fact had some sort of auditory response. Perhaps you groaned, sighed, or snorted. In that case, the correct response is "iman," which obviously means "i made a noise." That way they know you read it, and while it may have not been totally worthless, they should use discretion before bothering you with further distractions. The online community has already had a profound influence on modern English, let's not use this power for evil. And, so help me God, if you type ROTFL, i will cut you.

Posted by Matthew at 10:24 PM | Comments (3)

January 20, 2005

Link Dump

Rather than posting my own original content, here's another link dump.

Posted by Matthew at 05:35 PM | Comments (0)

January 19, 2005

Winter semester

This semester is off to a crazy start. My modern algebra class is my first 300-level math class and it's proving to be a lot of work outside of class. I enjoy the problems but they do take a large amount of focus and creativity to solve. It's been a bit difficult getting into the right frame of mind to be academically productive with the distractions of my real job and, well, life in general. In addition to my regular classes on Monday and Wednesday, i also have to head out Allendale on Tuesday and Thursday to work on a group project. Let's not forget that i've also had to set my alarm clock back a few minutes so i can get to work earlier to make up for the time is miss when i have to leave early to get to class on time. All this basically means i'll be spending most weekends draining the lead from a pencil and making a large pink eraser just a little bit smaller.

I haven't complained as much about my Java class as i thought i would. I'm trying to make the best of the simple assignments by using classes and such even though we've got a few chapters to go before we are officially taught how to use them. Most of the concepts are already familiar because Microsoft obviously borrowed many of Java's idea when putting together their .NET framework classes. When i don't know how to do something, i take a guess and many times its correct. However, when i'm not right, i've found i've become pretty darn good at reading and understanding error messages. In fact, i think programmers should be judged on how many error messages they know and understand rather than how many lines of code they can write.

Posted by Matthew at 10:23 PM | Comments (0)

January 16, 2005

Programming Java with Java

We've already been assigned our first programming project in my Java class. We will be doing all of our programming with Java's own free IDE called NetBeans. Apparently the program itself was written in Java. As i've come to expect from these types of apps, it seems full-featured but is very slow and ugly.

NetBeans screen shot

I shouldn't be complaining because it's free and it runs on my Mac, but i feel so dirty using it. For starters the menu is at the top of the window instead of the top of the screen. Some buttons appear to be images and are placed next to standard system UI widgets of different sizes. Nothing seems to line up quite right. In addition to my cosmetic complaints, i've had some performance issues as well. The stupid app crashed just as i was finishing up the first draft of my program. I've really got to learn to save more often.

Posted by Matthew at 05:58 PM | Comments (0)

January 13, 2005

Crack for Coke machines

I've been reading the Hack A Day blog for a while now and have found it rather interesting. For example, the other day they had a post on how to hack a Coke vending machine. I always wondered why they put an LED display on those things just to tell you your soda costs $1.00. It's not as tough the pop market is that volatile where they would have to accommodate daily price adjustments. It turns out after you press the product buttons in a certain order, you can access a debug menu that tells you, among other things, how many items of each unit have been sold and how much money is in the machine on that little display. I tried it out on our machine in the break room and it worked as promised. It just goes to show you that computers running code are everywhere.

Posted by Matthew at 04:23 PM | Comments (0)

January 11, 2005

"Reading on a Dream"

When you hang around the theatre a lot, you can forget just how absurd the idea of a musical is. Luckily there are folks like those at Prangstgrup that remind us by pulling pranks like the Library Musical. After watching that, have fun imagining how the "Marian the Librarian" scene in The Music Man might have played out in real life. That clip makes me really miss the days of doing musicals with my old improv team. Oh well.

Posted by Matthew at 09:17 PM | Comments (2)

January 09, 2005

Under the wire

I started watching the first season of HBO's The Wire upon the recommendation of Nate Dawg. I had never seen it before, nor heard all that much about it; but he let me borrow the DVD so it couldn't hurt to watch. It's a gritty hour-long drama series about detectives trying to break up a Baltimore drug cartel. I got sucked into the story line after the first episode. The show has such an interesting group of characters both on the side of the guys selling drugs and those trying to bust them. It has the pacing closer to a movie rather than some episode of Law and Order. I only got about half way though the season this weekend, but i like what i've seen so far. I hope it keeps up.

I must admit i was a bit put off by its crass nature at first. But hey, it's HBO and they want to make sure you know you're not watching network television by throwing in all the explicit scenes that even FOX can't touch. For example, one whole scene uses only the f-word (along with an occasional "mother," "yeah," or "me") as dialog, nevertheless they were able to actually move the plot forward. Perhaps that's how things really are in the Baltimore crime fighting community. I guess i was just bothered because i'm just a PG-13 kind of guy.

Posted by Matthew at 11:15 PM | Comments (0)

January 06, 2005

The bottomless pits

I've been been playing Mario Sunshine the past few days and have been enjoying it. It has a nice variety of tasks to accomplish any many cleaver ways to complete them. Each mini-mission can be completed in under twenty minutes so you can go on to the next or return to your regularly scheduled life. It's very nonlinear so if you are having difficulty completing one objective, you can go to another for a while. I enjoy playing games and solving puzzles; i do not enjoy precise joystick movement and fastidious button pressing. I especially hate jumping onto platforms hovering over bottomless pits. Ugh. Now i'm at the point where all the worlds i've wandered away from are the ones with these damn "obstacle courses." I don't mind falling and getting hurt and having to start working by way back to the top, but instant death by falling into nothingness is just annoying. Why must bottomless pits be such a ubiquitous element in video games? It's just an overused cliche. It's almost as bad as crates (which are also every where). (If you haven't read about the time-to-crate video game rating system, i recommend you do.) I need to hire some grade school kid to get me past the parts i hate.

Posted by Matthew at 09:55 PM | Comments (1)

January 03, 2005

Pet names

While i'm not currently in the market for a cat, dog, hamster or fish; if i were to acquire a domesticated animal, i know what his name would be. I would call him Peeve. That way, when people come over, i could introduce them to my pet Peeve. That would be cool.

Posted by Matthew at 09:18 PM | Comments (0)

January 02, 2005

Time's up

My vacation finally comes to end tomorrow. I'm not looking forward to the return of the alarm clock. Over break, I've learned that my body seems to be predisposed to the pacific time zone. When i was left to sleep and awake whenever i liked, i found myself consistently turning in around 1:30 in the morning and waking up around 10:00 AM. On the west coast this would mean having waking hours between 7:00 AM and 10:30 PM which sounds just about right. For the sake of my own physiological well-being, perhaps i should consider a move.

Posted by Matthew at 10:47 PM | Comments (0)