Monthly Archives: November 2007


Far in the lands of icetop mountains


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Dude, it’s freaking cold here! At least, that’s what my computer tells me. I don’t have to sit on my balcony anymore.

Freezing, dude

And for those of you who are not friendly with Celsius (I’m finally getting it!), here it is in Fahrenheit:

Freezing, dude, even in Fahrenheit!

Still cold as balls, no? Well, I guess I’ll pour another cup of tea and turn up the radiator! And my sister rocks for sending me über comfy Penn Veterinary Medicine sweatpants, which get me weird looks everytime I wear them. The chicks dig them, though. 😉

UPDATE: It occurred to me that it would be funny to show the weather from Philadelphia, which in Celsius looks like Munich weather in Fahrenheit.


Freezing, kinda


Freezing, kinda, in Fahrenheit


Why does this not surprise me?

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Categories: metal culture, Tags:

Dark Tranquillity posted on their website that their middle-era discs will be reissued in Japan, with bonus tracks. (Sorry I can’t link more directly, but the DT site doesn’t offer links to individual updates. Stupid.)

“Projector” and “Haven” to be re-released in Japan – Nov 30, 2007

To coincide with our shows in the land of the rising sun, “Haven” and “Projector” will be released in new versions. Both albums will feature lengthy liner notes by sensei Stanne detailing the writing and recording process as well as the inner working of the band at the time of creating the songs.

“Projector” will feature the extra track “Exposure” – previously unreleased in Japan – and “Haven” will be graced with “Cornered” as bonus song.

Everybody knows that Japan always kicks ass on the bonus tracks. I remember ordering the second disc from Finnish legends Mors Principium Est from Amazon on the day it was released. It took weeks to get to me because it had to be imported from Japan, which was good, because it meant I got two bonus tracks (which I would have downloaded later anyway, but still). In fact, if you do a Google Image Search for “mors principium est unborn,” you’ll get images of the Japanese version on the first page of results. Crazy!

Unborn Japanese edition

Also learned from the DT site that they’ve been nominated for a Swedish music award.

We’re nominated for The Bandit Rock Awards 2008 in the Swedish “best group” and “best album” categories. If you can agree that we deserve to win (which you obviously do since you have the good taste of visiting this page), please go to the link below and cast your vote. Thanks in advance!

Click and make it happen. Give some love to Sonic Syndicate, too.

Last point: I freaking love this image on the DT homepage. It’s the same as on the t-shirts from their newest tour, which of course I picked up when I saw them, taken from lyrics from the best track off their newest, Terminus (Where Death Is Most Alive).



This is a ghost town


A quiet weekend indoors


Categories: friends, life things, Tags: ,

This afternoon I was lucky enough to be able to partake in some videogamery with Will, which was quite a good time. We played briefly last night before parting ways and tuning into J’s metal radio show, but today was dedicated gaming time. We pretty much kicked ass.

C&C3 carrier storm

Pictured above is Will’s battlecruiser assault on the enemy base, with the last scattered remnants of my tank battalion on the left hand side. If you look closely at the text in the bottom left corner, you can see Will’s trash talk of “ready for the storm?” just fading out. (Click on image to see it big.)

After much pwnage, Will suggested we switch over to Counter-Strike, as he knows a bunch of the people living with me are all about that game. I said I wasn’t sure, as it was pretty early in the day over here to be gaming, but I would do lap around the dorm to see what was up.

I’m greeted in the hallway by streams of my friends shuffling underneath stuffed backpacks. I ask what’s up, and they say “ISTANBUL!” Riiiiiight, this weekend was the trip to Istanbul. So pretty much everybody I know says “see ya Tuesday” and I head back to game with Will. (I, of course, didn’t tag along because my trip to Italy pretty much broke the bank, and now I’m trying to make rent next month.)

Now Will’s gone for the weekend, visiting Philly for Ace’s birthday party tonight, and the Amon Amarth concert on Sunday. He’ll be back home sometime Monday.

Till then, I’ve got a pretty easy going weekend. I’m staying in tonight, even though Jukka and Ke already asked me to hit up a Christmas market on the Wiesen (where Oktoberfest is). I told them I had some money to save, so I’d b better off spending the evening in chill mode.

This should make it very easy this weekend to get in a lot of studying, perhaps a few posts, and maybe even some more gaming—although, sadly, none of my friends will be able to join me.



Aufenthaltserlaubnis: I has it

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Categories: life things, Tags:

So a month after the epic fail of trying to acquire a visa, I finally get it done this morning. It took very many hours and a small bit of panic on my part, but usually in conjunction, those two solve anything.

I turned off my alarm without remembering again. I think I’m going to start playing the two-alarm game, because I always wake up with my phone in my hand, which means I walked across the room, picked it up, deactivated the alarm, then strolled back to bed. That, or I’ve developed Jedi force powers in my sleep.

So I wake up naturally around 8am, which is when I wanted to be at the municipal building, at least 30 minutes away, maybe 45. So I toss on some clothes, wash up, and stuff the necessary paperwork into my bag.

Well, some of it. I couldn’t find my ultra-super-important document folder. Where I keep everything that doesn’t get me kicked out of this country. It’s usually in the top drawer of my nightstand (I don’t know what to call the piece of furniture, it’s a single-drawer thing with wheels under it), but not today. I look under the bed. In my wardrobe. On top of the wardrobe. Scour the archaeological layers of items on my desk. Under the bed again. Nothing.

I wrack my brain and remember that the last time I utilized it was when I had to provide proof of active student status to the housing agency, in order to qualify for housing there. I’d gone with Carl and Alex, and on the way home, it began to snow, so I asked to stick the folder in a backpack one of them had brought. Great! Now to hope they’re not in class.

I call Alex and plead through the fog of his grogginess that he look through his bag, or elsewhere in his room, for my folder. He informs me that it was for sure Carl who had the backpack, not him. My bad.

Call Carl, wake him up. He looks, finds it. Rock. I grab it, and I’m out the door, onto the tram, to the train station, to Marienplatz, transfer to the subway, then jogging up the steps to the Kreisverwaltungsreferat. (I love this language!)

The rest of the my stay in the building was more navigating through a building layout so disastrous, I made me wonder whether the architect had been on peyote the night he drafted it. I waited in a lot of lines, but didn’t have to pay the 80€ fee for the issuance of a visa, as I had my trusty letter from the German Academic Exchange Agency, saying “Get off his balls.”

Thank you, German government.

Oh, and to be clear, the word “Aufenthaltsgenehmigung,” which I know from the days of my internship with the honorary consul of Germany, I think is best translated as “green card.” That’s the word I used in my previous post, but of course isn’t the documented I was to be receiving. The word is totally 1337, though, slightly more so than what I did in fact acquire. The document they slapped in my passport says “Aufenthaltserlaubnis,” which approximately means “residence permit.” It doesn’t say even say “Visum” (the word for “visa”) anywhere on it, but I guess this is just how they do it here.

And that concludes today’s German lesson.


Utter pwnage

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Categories: friends, Tags:

Got suckered into lanning a little more with the guys again tonight. Well, I guess they’re more the ones who got suckered, seeing as I pwned them so hard. Once again. With sniper rifles. In their brains.

Utter pwnage

Although I must be honest and say that once again my game was off when we played dense urban maps, where sniping was all but impossible.

No sniping

What a shame. We didn’t play too long, because we weren’t too many, and we all have classes on the morrow. But several people made the rounds through our rooms and watched the match, and signed up for a much larger game on Saturday afternoon, when nobody has to worry about sleeping reasonable amounts.

For the moment, I’m off to finish a bit of reading before retiring. I don’t have anything due tomorrow, but I do have to prepare for a rather neat guest speaker in my e-society class. I’ll post more about that after the fact.


Trying to become one with Web 2.0

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Categories: musings, Tags: ,

Although I might spend an inordinate amount of time online, I like to think that I’m pro at maximizing my efficiency in my computing activities, both off and online, in-game and out. Usability is one of my favorite hobbies, so I spend a good deal of time tweaking things so that I spend less time accessing things in the future, and more time enjoying whatever it is I want to access.

I’m going to skip the dissertation on feeds, application launchers, and smart filesystem organization. Today’s topic is the browser Flock.

Based on Firefox and thus open source, Flock tries to maximize integration with the social networking aspects of the web. It provides out of the box support for major networks like Facebook, Flickr, and Twitter, but falls flat on spiffier, still hipper sites like (The list of sites it doesn’t support is of course massive, but striking out on was a mistake in my book.)

The integration for Facebook, Flickr, and Twitter is quite striking at first. Flock imported my cookies and passwords from Firefox (once given my permission to do so), then asked me to re-login to those sites “to take full advantage of the features Flock offers.” The primary feature is the “People Sidebar,” which is a dynamically updating list of all your friends’ activities online. For instance, as I was sifting through my feeds after getting home from class, I saw that a friend updated their status to “is in FUCKING LAS VEGAS, BABY!” Once I saw that, I clicked on the person’s picture, then clicked “Wall post,” and was able to write an immediate response to the status update. (I wrote something less than witty about Fear & Loathing.)

Here’s an unpolished mock-up of the People Sidebar from the Flock site:

People Sidebar

For Facebook, this is a tremendous time-saver. It keeps the information coming to me as I go about my life, and doesn’t make me seek it out by actually browsing to the Facebook page. In the past 24 hours I’ve participated more in the Facebook community than I think I have ever, but I’ve spent probably 5 minutes total on the actual Facebook site, thanks to this slick and efficient interface.

Unfortunately, the People Sidebar wanes in usefulness in regard to the other social networks with which Flock is compatible. For instance, do I really need to keep up to date on my “friend” on YouTube? I didn’t even know I had any friends on YouTube, but apparently I do. Maybe my social circle is just such that YouTube isn’t a frequently updated outlet of their expression, and other users will indeed find this cool. Flickr, for me, is the same way: I use Flickr more for myself than for its community aspects, though I do plan to change that.

Flock does try to compensate for this weakness in the People Sidebar, though, with the Media Bar. This eye-candy-licious feature reads content streams from websites like YouTube and Flickr and displays them in an orderly row, not too different in appearance from the look of a Flickr slideshow.

Flock Media Bar:

Flickr slideshow bar:

Flickr slideshow bar

Certainly has that über-glossy, black-saturated, Web 2.0-gone-Vista-then-Leopard look.

Flock was launched a year or two ago, if I remember correctly, and I remember quite a bit of hype around it, as Firefox was rocketing to popularity in the media, and it seemed suddenly like the age of browser profusion to lazy tech journalists. I tried it then and was thoroughly underwhelmed. The implementation of the Flock philosophy is worlds better in this latest release, the big 1.0.

Recently I’d read a couple glowing reviews of Flock, so I figured I’d give it another go. The selling point for me was the promise of blog integration, meaning that I wouldn’t have to navigate to a webpage and compose my entries via a clunky HTML interface. (I have some plugins installed to add a few AJAX loads, but by and large the thing is slow as hell.) This had me particularly excited because I was unfortunately never able to configure ScribeFire correctly for Firefox, though it seems I’m not alone in that.

However, this feature has fallen flat on its face. It doesn’t work for me, and it doesn’t seem to work for anyone with a self-hosted WordPress blog. Given that it does work well with Blogger and Xanga and other such freebie accounts, it makes me feel like Flock is more catering to n00bz. I don’t like that.

Wordpress error dialog box

Another huge point in Flock’s favor is that it has without fuss accepted my most frequently used Firefox extensions, and maintained their functionality. I haven’t imported all my extensions yet, as I have a ton, but of all those attempted so far, there hasn’t been a hitch. That’s just marvellous, and I wish the same could be said about themes, but I understand why that’s such a different matter.

I’m going to keep using Flock for a while, if only to whine about things like integration. I think that in a few months to a year, Flock will be a tremendously powerful browser. If they manage to keep the code trim and fit, unlike the hungry-hungry-Firefox, it’ll be a true winner.

I do wonder, however, about how much of this functionality can very easily be mirrored by way of Firefox extensions, thereby downplaying the importance of Flock as a browser separate from Firefox. By allowing users to copy features of Opera, for instance, Firefox has managed to grow its own marketshare at the expense of the often truly innovative Opera crowd. Richard Stallman would be pleased, I suppose.

I’m sure I’ll be posting more, especially if I manage to work out the blog editing feature.


The future of humanity

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Categories: musings, Tags:

A couple days back, J tossed me a link to a teaser trailer for a new game in my all-time favorite series, Deus Ex. The first game still ranks as my favorite game ever, though I count the second as one of my most hated games. Here’s hoping that the third is absolutely score.

I didn’t post the vid because it was horribly low quality, so much so that the text could barely be read. Now, though, it appears that they’ve replaced it with an HD version, which pleases me.

It might give you goosebumps. Here’s hoping.

Thanks to Will for the hookups on the über version.


For great justice!


Categories: funny, Tags: ,

I was really pleased to read about an article about a guy who took a hunting rifle and destroyed a traffic light camera. The cops were puzzled after they caught him, because apparently he’d never gotten a ticket from it, as one might have expected.

Clark, now facing a $50 fine if convicted and loss of his rifle, refused to say anything about the incident to police, leaving the motive unclear.

Seems like a deep guy. But not as deep as I am.

This story reminded me of an episode in my past where I was a bro. There was a project freshman year where we had to invent something and then write a poem about it. Naturally, I wrote about a traffic light camera that was disguised as an owl, but was really a ninja.

You can tell this was written years ago, because ninjas were still cool. I also had roommates obsessed with ninjas and robots, as I think will be obvious by the text.

Robot Ninja Justice Death

Twinkling stars adorn the firmament above
The placating coo of a lonely mourning dove
Reminds me of the hour: just minutes till dawn
And miles to go, before I sleep; I yawn
Hazy memories of the night behind
Swim round my head and through my mind
For serious, I cheated on my wife! Oh well
I hate her more than morning wood before the bell
A light turns red, so I slow my ride
But no one around, not on either side
And not in front or back, so I run the light,
Thinking no one will see, but out of sight
Atop the bar that spans the street
An owl sees, and in him burns a vengeful heat
I roll out from the crossroads, think all is well
But soon I’ll bear the baddest wrath of hell
Delivered by a ninja I mistook for an owl
That can unfold, transform, and make a howl
Which curdles blood, raises hair, and terrifies
He lands in kneeling ninja pose, and in his eyes
Burn the demons Justice and Honor with an eerie glow
His sword he draws and strikes a blow
Across the windshield, turning glass to dust
A might smiting of a million knives, swift and just
My eyes, they vomit blood—I scream:
“How can even a ninja be so mean?!”
And he intones, “I’m also a robot
With a bloodlust and sword. Now whatchu got?!”
And as my sorry, bloody life ends in woe
I murmur, “Why?” And he, to my lifeless, spurting corpse, declares: “I KNOW!”

Man, those were good times. Iambic pentameter makes everything better.


How I despise groupwork

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Categories: life things, Tags: ,

Just got an e-mail from a classmate saying “Oops man I slept so late and I really gotta study for a test tomorrow you think maybe we could work on the project another day man?”

I really like the guy—he’s the bro I went to Florence with—so I’m honestly not stressed about it, especially because our presentation isn’t due until next Thursday. So when we see each other in class tomorrow, we can work out details for meeting times over the weekend, and of course, since it’s 2007, I’m sure we’ll get a lot done online.

It’s just funny that I’ve rarely had positive experiences when it comes to groupwork. I know I’m not alone in that, either.

Well, as I told J:

I’m so glad our private university education is preparing us for how much we’re going to hate working in groups IRL.

Fail 4tw.


Chicken fat leak

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Categories: funny, Tags:

I love headlines you don’t have to think about. Or maybe that you don’t want to. The point is, if an article headline is good enough, I shouldn’t have to read the article. So a big tip of the hat to the New York Times for this little gem.

Chicken Fat Leaks Over 20 Miles

Sorry, I had to size it appropriately. From the article:

A truck leaked poultry fat along 20 miles of Route 13 on Tuesday, causing at least four crashes and making a stinky mess.


Sergeant Bunting described the grease as a “glassy film” and said crews sanded the road. He added that the gunk stuck to tires and spread to secondary roads, causing a “really funky” odor.

Well damn.

Also, The Onion is famous for headlines of this formula. My latest favorite is Fat Kid Successfully Avoids Ridicule By Swimming With Shirt On. The headline says it all.

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