Thursday, September 30

Java 5 is out.

And the link's on Slashdot. Rhetoric incoming!

I like the advances in Java 1.5. You can find them on; I don't feel like giving a marketing blurb here. The generics are nice, as is autoboxing. Of course, it'll still be another year and a half before 1.5's new features hit the enterprise VMs that are the backbone of the stuff I work on, but hey, I can dream right?

object-oriented, event-driven apps through the web!

NextApp says they have an object oriented event driven app framework. It's called Echo, and it's Jesus Christ and a Bag of Chips according to what's on the website. Thing is, Spolsky says -- and I agree -- that "rich" UIs aren't necessarily better. Not having to learn a ui when you learn a new app is a very very powerful thing.

From another perspective, I'd be very leery of leaky abstractions, if I had to work with Echo. NextApp says you don't need to know HTML or JavaScript to use their framework, but is that really the case? To what extent would be you able to exploit their framework without really understanding what's going on "under the hood"?

Tuesday, September 28

Vanity googling

Pharaoh and I were talking just now, trying to come up with a new nickname for Atlas (since he doesn't want me to say his real name on the web!!11!11!!) and he suggested that I google my nickname. Holy crap! I'm the only person with the nickname Fraxas in the whole goddamn web!

Either I've had my one moment of true originality in life, or I've chosen a nickname so stupid nobody else wants it. WHICH COULD IT BE

Saturday, September 25

Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War rocks.

No two ways about it: Dawn of War is an incredibly good game. I picked it up day before yesterday and spent a bit of time playing with it; yesterday, Atlas bought it. We spent almost 4 hours playing it last night, with all sorts of "WHOA!" and "HOLY WHAT THE--AWESOME!" moments.

Best time I've had playing a computer game in a looong time.

Thursday, September 23

The webbiness of some of my favourite musicians

Here are some of the interconnections between Jon McCrea of Cake, Weird Al, Ben Folds, and the Squirrel Nut Zippers. I like all of these musicians, so it's amazing to see how much they collaborate. I'm sure there are more, but these are all I can think of for now.
  • Jon McRea sings backing vocals on "Fred Jones Part II" by Ben Folds
  • Weird Al Yankovic directed the Ben Folds video for "Rockin' the Suburbs."
  • In that video, when Ben sings the lyric "some producer with computers fixes all my shitty tracks," we see Weird Al pulling down the "sucks" slider on a soundboard while someone else pushes up the one labelled "rocks." Who is that person? Is it Jon McCrea? I think it is! And then, as the camera cuts back to a shot of the producers nodding happily at the soundboard, there's someone else standing next to Jon McCrea and Al. Is it a Squirrel Nut Zipper? You decide!
  • In the Squirrel Nut Zippers' video, "Suits Are Picking Up The Bill", Ben Folds has a cameo appearance as a music industry guy.
  • Ken Mosher Tom Maxwell of the Squirren Nut Zippers play the horns on Army from the Ben Folds Five album The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner.
  • Ben Folds plays piano on the Weird Al track "Why Does this Always Happen to Me" off the album Poodle Hat.
  • On the album Perennial Favourites, the Zippers have a song called "Pallin' with Al," with such lines as "who's that man who's got that sentemental swing \ Plays that mess just like it doesn't mean a thing." Who indeed? Who indeed.
If any of you beloved readers can think of more, post them in the comments field!

My 2nd biggest dork obession ever, reviewed from the perspective of my biggest dork obsession ever

This article, by Schild, reviews Magic: The Gathering from the perspective of EverQuest. It's an interesting perspective.

Unfortunately, the article then devolves into a discussion of why the world of Magic: The Gathering should be reshaped into a virtual world more to Schild's liking. The problem with that is that IT'S A BAD IDEA. The reason MTG, and MTGO (where O stands for Online and is the way I play the game) work is because they are artifical environments in and of themselves. Schild misses the most important point about MTG when he argues it should be made into a virtual world: it already works as it is. Attempting to add to the game the tropes of a virtual world -- and Schild make no attempt to define how that would work -- would destroy it.

The company that makes MTG has a staff of dozens who spend their time just designing and developing cards, and measuring their interactions. Only in the past 3 years (the game's been around for 10) have they actually started to get the correct power curve for cards, and to match properly the flavour of a set of cards to the gameplay experience of MTG.

Don't fuck with the one massively multiplayer online game that rewards player skill more than anything else, Schild. It ain't broke, and we don't need virtual-world loons like you polluting it.

More Online Breakup Fun

The Pharaoh

Armyfood: I'm sure you saw this link offa memepool, but in the spirit of acrimonious relationship links, it's just too brilliant to miss.


Wednesday, September 22

I am SO trying this someday.

Apparently, Swimming As Easy In Syrup As In Water.

I wonder if it makes it harder to breathe, though...


on the topic of my previous post, I had this conversation with my co-worker Dave just now:
Team America: ha yah! r0x!
Team America: like the proverbial hurricane.
Team America: if a scorpions song can be considered a proverb.
Milkman Dan: I'm not sure they can
Milkman Dan: I think that might break some laws.
Team America: international, or domestic?
Milkman Dan: interdomesticational.
The world needs more obscure references to the barely-remembered pop culture of people who were in high school when we were just old enough to care.

eBay Auctions Of The Damned

I hope this guy buys a bit of happiness with his $31.

An Adventurer Is You!

The Kingdom of Loathing is a web-based pseudoMUD that is AWESOME. you need to go make an account right now.

If you know Fraxas in person, message Fraxinator and introduce yourself or something.

Mists of Avalon

No, not those mists of avalon. The Avalon of which I blog is the club in Boston, right across from Fenway Park. The Mist in question is that which spewed forth from the manic lips of Tragically Hip front-man, Gord Downie. That's right, I just got back from a zip-cracking awesome show. First the setlist. Then I'll tell you what I thought.

It Can't Be Nashville Every Night
Grace, Too
Are You Ready
Twist My Arm
You Are Everywhere
Summer's Killing Us
Goodnight Josephine
Lake Fever
100th Meridian
Escape Is At Hand (For The Travelling Man)
Mean Streak
New Orleans Is Sinking
Gus, The Polar Bear from Central Park
My Music @ Work

1st Encore:
Vaccination Scar
Ahead By A Century
Something On

2nd Encore:
Heaven Is A Better Place Today
Little Bones

Our illustrious editor-in-chief has already talked about the new album material. This performance quashed any doubt that it would be amazing live. But besides that - they played 100th Meridian. And New Orleans is Sinking. The crowd was so electric, there was not a single proton in the house. I am now officially spoiled - a stadium will never do it for me anymore. I relived all the greatest hip-memories of my coming-of-age. Every album was represented. The show, in short, was incredible.

Friday, September 17

Dan Appleman on Reinventing Software Licenses

Dan Appleman on Reinventing Software Licenses

Dan suggests that software licenses be limited to 500 words, and that they be restricted in content from certain areas (like forbidding reviews, etc).

Why stop at software licenses? All law is complex, isn't it? Let's simplify it all!

The problem with any effort to simplify law is that there was a reason it got complex in the first place. English is not an unambiguous language -- and legalese is an attempt at disambiguation. Bodies of law are called "code(s)" for largely the same reason that application source is called code: you have to specify a problem so completely even a computer -- or a court -- can solve it. And we all know how dumb courts and computers are.

I'd love it if law could be simple. But the world isn't, and anything that has to assert unambiguous things about the world can't be either.

Thursday, September 16

Maggot Therapy Linked with Reduced Post-Operative Wound Infections

Maggot Therapy Linked with Reduced Post-Operative Wound Infections: my friend Atlas says it best:

Atlas: Maggots and Leeches: They've got the micro tools to get the job done!

Rands In Repose: Rands Management Glossary

Rands In Repose: Rands Management Glossary: a Devil's Dictionary of professional software development.

A visual history of spam (and virus) email

A visual history of spam (and virus) email: Raymond Chen scatterplots his spam since 1997. Theoretically interesting -- there are some naked-eye-visible trends -- but not practically useful to me until I start developing spamfilters.

Which I should probably think about doing.