Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Unstructured Fun

Paint Game

There's a sub-genre of games where you try to get an object from point A to point B. I found this one to be particularly addictive. The idea is that you paint a path for the ball to fall along in order to guide it to the square.

Be warned, this is an immense time waster!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Got a Job

If you've been following the blog, you may recall that I've recently moved to California and that I've been looking for work. I am glad to report that I've been hired to a long-term contract position with Intel.

I'm happy to report that the position is quite ideal both in terms of compensation and in terms of my career goals. I'll be starting on Monday.

Naturally, my focus for the next couple of weeks will be on work so blog posts are probably going to be a bit spotty, again, although I hope not to get too far behind. Once I get my legs, I expect that things shall return to normal.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Now THAT'S a Knife!

Swiss Knife

Once upon a time I was a cub scout. Due to a bad fever that I had when I was eleven, my memories of that period of my life are a bit hazy but I have the impression that being a cub scout wasn't that big of a deal for me. I think I collected a few merit badges, learned how to tie a couple of knots (knowledge since lost) and went on a couple of nature hikes.

One thing that was indubitably cool, however, was that I got to carry around a Swiss army knife. I loved to pull out the different blades and contemplate their uses (the corkscrew was my personal favorite).

I think that it's understandable then that when I look at this knife, it's impossible for me not to think that it's really cool, even though it's, objectively, really not a very practical example of what a Swiss army knife is supposed to be all about (which is to say compact and useful).

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Dodge Ovaries

Dodge Logo/Ovaries

Once you see it, it's difficult not to see it. Try not to giggle the next time you see a Dodge truck.

Found on TruckBlog.com

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Unstructured Insults

"They never open their mouths without subtracting from the sum of human knowledge." -- Thomas Brackett Reed

We live in an age of typing but we do not live in an age of letters.

Although I don't entertain any fantasies about the idealism of living in previous centuries (I'll take our low infant mortality, thank you), I do think that dialog in the modern era suffers in comparison to earlier times.

The internet is a wonderful thing but it emphasized a style of communication that rewards speed and emphasis over wit. The modern flamewar is a perfect example of this: expletives are the currency of argument.

Boreme.com has collected some particularly choice insults from bygone days which, I think, illustrate the difference between invective and insult.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Unstructured Brrrrrr!

More fun with liquid nitrogen.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Unstructured Scriptures


Long has the world wondered what the Bible would be like if it were to be told in Lego form. At long last our prayers have been answered and we shall wonder no more.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Unstructured Showdown

Ultimate Showdown

If you've ever been a teenage boy, you've doubtless pondered the sort of question where you ask who would win, Superman vs. Hulk, or Batman vs. Spiderman, or Optimus Prime vs. the big robot from Voltron (and so forth and so on).

The Ultimate Showdown is a flash animation, set to a very catchy song, that takes that line of thought to its ultimate conclusion.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Unstructured Supper

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Here we have The Last Supper, reimagined as a Final Fantasy game.

Attribution unknown.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Unstructured Extremes


When I was a kid, I would spend hours thumbing through the Guinness Book of World Records. There was something mesmerizing about contemplating those things that were at the utter extreme of a bell curve. I was particularly interested in the parts that pertained to the natural world: the deepest canyon, the coldest recorded temperature, the biggest star, and so forth and so on.

Here is a pictorial compilation of some of those most extreme things including entries for the greatest vertical drop, the smallest island, and the largest impact crater on the planet.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Unstructured Origami

Origami Dragon

It's amazing what you can do with a few sheets of paper and some skillful folding.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Unstructured Passive Aggression


There is a certain art to passive-aggression. Mere aggression is easy, as is mere passivity, but to combine them effectively requires a certain deftness.

Passive Aggressive Notes is a site that celebrates the art of writing notes that politely convey the idea that you, sir and or madam, are a complete dick and that, while it might be morally wrong to so wish, it wouldn't be a horrible thing if you happened to die in a fire while your eyes were being consumed by rats.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Unstructured Ice Cream

Liquid Nitrogen Ice CreamLiquid nitrogen is very cool.

Okay, now that I've gotten that out of my system, I had the pleasure of having ice cream created with liquid nitrogen for the first time this last winter (on a day that was, ironically enough, freezingly cold). The texture is astonishingly creamy and unlike any other ice cream that I've had before.

If you're fortunate enough to be able to (figuratively) get your hands on some liquid nitrogen and some ice cream mix, it's a great party trick to whip up a batch.

Monday, January 07, 2008

So, here's what's been going on...

Hello all,

As I mentioned, I've relocated to the Bay Area. I'm now living in San Jose with my girlfriend Natalie.

I must confess that there are elements of this move which are, frankly, scary. I left a good and stable job without having any work waiting for me during a time of the year when opportunities are slim. Compound this with the fact that I don't have a lot of savings to fall back on (and bills eating what remains at an alarming rate) and I think that you can appreciate that there are some stressful elements to this move.

On the positive side, however, I am now living with somehow whom I have loved and admired for many years and I am feeling happier than I can remember. To be sure, love alone is rarely sufficient to make a lasting relationship, as too many foolish teenagers have discovered down through the ages, but even if it isn't a sufficient condition it is certainly a necessary condition for such a feat. Neither Natalie nor I are naive. We both know that my moving out here has its risks and we have carefully considered those risks and have decided that what we have to gain is worth taking them.

Be that as it may, once I start drawing a paycheck, I will feel much better about the near future. Unfortunately, I work in an industry where getting hired is a multi-step process. In most cases there's a pre-screening where you talk to a recruiter to determine whether or no you are interested and qualified for the position at hand. This is usually followed by a technical phone interview where you are asked questions to verify that you have the knowledge to match the requirement. This is then followed by at least one in-person interview which often involves meeting with several interviewers who ask you additional questions. This can transpire over a period of weeks or even months.

Part of what makes this a difficult process is that being a SQL Server DBA covers a lot of ground. To a first approximation, there is no one who knows everything there is to know about SQL Server and even the most experienced DBAs will have gaps in their knowledge so part of the process is making sure that you're up to date on those areas where it most likely that you'll be quizzed but even the most core aspects of database work is still very broad, so I need to refresh my studies on everything from indexes, to commitment levels, to schema design and normalization, to data transformation, and many other things besides.

At this point, I've had several phone interviews (most of which went well) and two in-person interviews (one which went very well and one which, frankly, I think I flubbed, much to my chagrin). I've also also been following up leads from friends and associates and keeping a very close on on the job boards.

To her credit, Natalie is being very patient about helping to cover my expenses in the interim (which doesn't reduce the sting of having to have my girlfriend pick up the tab more often than I'd like) and it looks like I've got enough saved to last until the end of February. If worse comes to worst, I can start doing temporary clerical work to make ends meet while I continue to look for a serious position.

I must admit that there is a certain irony involved with being a working professional. If I were still eighteen and unexperienced, finding work would be trivial not only because I'd be looking for entry level work, but it would also be easier for me to find that kind of work. Even if I decided that I'd like to be a grocery clerk, now, no grocery store would hire me for the justifiable fear that I'd leave the moment I got a better job.

My work situation aside, the Bay Area is lovely. We just had a major storm pass through but, aside from a rather scary drive to Berkeley that day, it wasn't much of an inconvenience and, really, getting rained on is so much better than getting snowed on, in my humble opinion.

I will grant that my appreciation of the Bay Area contains a bias given that I grew up here but I will, never the less, aver that it is one of the best possible places to live. I find myself constantly amazed at the diversity of people and places in this region as well as the sheer physical breadth of the place. Aside from the traffic (which isn't as bad as I remembered) and the costs (which are much worse than I remembered), there is so much to love about being here.

I do find that there are things I miss about Colorado Springs. I had a good set of friends and colleagues whom I shall miss and the scenery was quite incomparable. Be that as it may, and with all due respect to Springs, I think that I shall be happier living in the Bay Area as I find myself to be more more in sync with the local culture.

On a final note, the blog is back. Obviously, putting posts up is near the end of the list of my priorities so I won't promise daily updates for the time being. Never the less, it does have some priority and I do promise that I will continue to post as often as is reasonable given the totality of my obligations.

I want to wish all of my readers a good New Year. I hope that 2008 will treat each of us kindly and well.

Take care.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Steampunk and the Art of Design

Steampunk LCD

I've always admired craftsmen. The ability to sit down and design something and then to go into a workshop and actually create it seems to me to be an endeavor as fundamental to civilization as any amount of philosophy and high art and I am in awe of those who can do so.

When than craft is turned to the creation of working devises with a steampunk design, my awe transcends itself to become something to which I have no name.

The Steampunk Workshop is a set of step-by-step instructions, with pictures and videos, of how to turn ordinary things into their steampunk analogs. Pictured above is the end result of a flat panel display conversion. My personal favorite, however, is a working telegraph sounder that converts RSS feeds into telegraph clicks and clacks.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Unstructured Blocks


Here's a cool and challenging (albeit forgiving) game called Bloxorz. The idea is to maneuver a rectangular brick into a hole. The idea, and execution, is very intuitive. The game becomes challenging after awhile but, unlike a lot of puzzle games, not so ridiculously challenge that you feel like the designer is just being sadistic.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Unstructured Spiders

For the record, I'm an arachnophobe. Over the years, I've managed to desensitize myself to the point where I won't actually run out of a room, screaming when I see a spider, but I'm still not very fond of the evil, little bastards.

In spite of this, I can't help but to be mesmerized by this video of jumping spider mating behavior. Basically, what's going on, here, is that the male wants to have sex with the female. Unfortunately, the female tends to view all moving things as food, so the male needs to (very, very carefully) prove that he's actually a male jumping spider by sending her the proper signal.

Let's hope that she's in the mood.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Yet More Unstructured Photons

Light Drawing

Another gallery of light drawings. This set was created by Eric Staller.

what is this?

Tell me when this blog is updated. . .