There is an indescribable rush

There is an indescribable rush when you successfully complete something difficult or daring. As a kid, I felt it every time I rode a skateboard or bicycle. When you clear a three foot high wall or land a kickflip on a skateboard, you’re hit with an instant and intense jolt of happiness and exhilaration. Pulling tricks on a bike gives the same rush and after a while you kind of get an addiction for that feeling. You continue to risk injury while pushing yourself to do new things and get that good feeling. Maybe it’s adrenaline, maybe it’s just euphoria from the sudden sense of satisfaction.

As funny as it sounds, I get the same rush when I do things that aren’t very life threatening, but are merely difficult. In college, conquering differential equations, figuring out physics, and acing grad school tests gave the same rush.

In 1995, I wanted to teach myself how to author web pages so I picked up a book, and I stayed up all night reading it, from cover to cover. When I was done, I walked over to my computer, opened up a text editor and wrote out all sorts of previously unintelligible markup. When I pushed “save” and viewed it in a browser, that same sense of euphoria and satisfaction that comes from solving a difficult problem washed over me. I fell into the same sort of routine that I did with skateboarding, bike riding, and school. I continued to push myself to learn new things to get that quick rush again every so often.

Nearly seven years have passed since that first web page, and I noticed a few months ago I don’t get that feeling much anymore. I can’t tell if I’m not pushing myself, if there isn’t anything interesting left to do, or if I’m just getting jaded by the whole thing.

Today, I spent a few hours setting up a collaborative intranet that I’ve been struggling with for the past few weeks. Due to the difficulty of trying to find the right set of tools for the job, I’ve been evaluating a set of packages and had a rough go with a restrictive web host. Eventually, I settled upon a combination of tools including PHP, MySQL, phpwiki, and phpMyAdmin. I downloaded a lot of packages and took some time installing and configuring things. Once it was time to finally test out all these foreign (to me) applications, everything worked perfectly the first time, and that same feeling came rushing back. For a few minutes, it was 1995 all over again, and a string of cryptic characters I barely understood actually produced things I could see and manipulate any way I pleased. A new world of possibilities suddenly opened up, and there’s a lot of new things still left to learn and do.

It was an amazing feeling and a nice reminder of why I started doing this in the first place.

This guy is my hero.

This guy is my hero.

This week, a spammer chose to fake his “from:” address on some penis enlargement spam with one of my domains. I’ve been receiving a steady stream of bounced messages, but thankfully no irate emails from those spammed. I’ve reported each and every spam to spamcop, contacted the hosts and network providers for the spamvertised websites, but haven’t heard anything back.

The only way to stop spamming is to make it economically unfeasible to continue doing it. If that requires suits against spammers, so be it.

“We need commonsense judges

“We need commonsense judges who understand that our rights were derived from God,” the president said.

Constitution? What Constitution? Oh right, that can be quickly changed to suit our current whims.

“That’s why the ruling is out of step with the traditions and history of America,” Bush said.

According to history, the 1892 pledge did not include “under god.” It was added in 1954 in response to the red scare. Is that the history of America we want to preserve?

The thing that shocks me the most from all this hoopla is there isn’t a single intelligent politician that has the guts to stand up for the laws the nation was built on. In a land of the free, formed to help people gain freedom from religion, we have people from both sides of the fence grabbing headlines stating their wish to force children to pledge their undying allegiance to a flag and god.

When I was a child in 4th grade, I distinctly remember the day we learned about communism, and how stifling that regime was. It was a horrible system because personal freedoms were compromised for the good of the nation, and everyone had to mindlessly follow lock-and-step with the nation’s wants. This is what I was taught in 1982, and after that day, I never understood why in our freest of nations, we started each morning with a forced recital of our pledge. To god no less.

The progression of technology is

The progression of technology is quickly becoming ridiculous. The other day I finally replaced my 4 year old, badly broken and dead CD burner with a new model. I found a 32x (!!!) burner for less than $80 at Fry’s, installed it, and tested it. I just copied a few hundred megs of backup data, and it was complete in under two minutes. I was also running about ten other apps at the same time, and it went off without a hitch. Oh, and blank CDs have also progressed nicely with Moore’s Law: I’ve seen spindles of 50 blanks for $5-$10.

Incredible.

I’ve got an old home

I’ve got an old home computer I’m working on setting up as a MAME cabinet, and I’m taking the easy route on controls (don’t feel like wiring up my own, want new buttons, new arcade feel). Ideally, I’d like two joysticks with at least two buttons each, and it’d be nice if there was a trackball as well, but I can’t quite find the perfect setup for sale.

So far I’ve found the Hotrod, X-arcade, and Stick-it are three similar units in the $200 range, and there’s a more custom setup called the Devastator but it’s $450. If anyone out there has used any pre-built MAME setups like this and has any experience or advice, could you let me know? Thanks.

After seeing Jason successfully get

After seeing Jason successfully get “mp3 now playing” functionality to work on his site, I decided to finally get it working for myself. I’ve had a “currently listening to” section on this page for a couple months (just down on the right, below the second photograph), but I’ve always wanted to automate it. Over the past year, one attempt after another failed with various bits of software, but I finally got the do something plugin to work (worst interface and interaction design ever). I’ll setup my laptop with the iTunes version as well, and see how much easier that is. I added a google search on the song title, in case you’re looking for information about it (Google doesn’t index mp3s, so you probably won’t be able to download them).

Currently I’m seeing “Disney’s Magic Kingdom – Tomorrowland Music” and yeah, I was actually hearing that. The plus of having gigs and gigs of my CD collection stored means you’ll see lots of novelity stuff.