A Series of Tubes

I'm sure everyone remembers the embarrassing moment when Senator Ted Stevens described the internet as a series of tubes.

But little did I know (until now) that this is not the first time that the phrase "a series of tubes" was used in conjunction with the internet. In his book Weaving the Web: The original design and ultimate destiny of the World Wide Web by its inventor, Tim Berners-Lee uses the exact phrase: "a series of tubes."

Of course, Berners-Lee uses the phrase correctly in describing the CERN particle physics research institute, where the particle accelerators are the tubes). But I thought the parallel use of the phrase, years apart from one another, was amusing.


StardustStardust isn't just an amazing movie. It's this generation's Princess Bride.

True love, sword fights, chases, steampunk-ish flying pirates, witches, magic, kidnapped princesses, unlikely heroes, humor, excitement, and a delightful quest. This movie has it all, and if the kind of movie you're going to watch over and over again on DVD.

I've been hearing good things about the book by Neil Gaiman for quite some time, but haven't had a chance to read it yet. And I'd heard tons of great reviews, including from people who loved the book, so I was expecting a great movie. But Stardust still managed to blow away my expectations. I loved it!

Noble Collection or our friends at QMX had damned well be paying attention to this one. There are so many props from this movie that I'd love to be able to buy.

Adam’s Early Birthday Present

[I'll post a full report on ComicCon (which was awesome) later. But I wanted to get this bit up as soon as possible, for the obvious reasons.]

Adam, Joan and I were on our way to a panel, when we noticed that Adam was no longer with us. We hadn't lost him in the crowd. He was right there, two booths behind us, staring - transfixed - at a painting. I couldn't see the painting from where I was, but I have never seen Adam look at anything (besides Karla and the kids) with that much sheer adoration.

Later, Adam was talking about how much he would love to have that painting on his office wall, as inspiration. And how he wished he could actually afford something that expensive. So I suggested that instead of Adam waiting until he could save up $500 for the thing, we should just get 20 people to pitch in $25 each to get it for him as an early Birthday/Hanukkah present. Half a dozen people who were there with us at the moment said they'd be more than happy to pitch in, and I figured it would be easy to scrounge up the remainder, so I bought the painting and it is now hanging on Adam's wall.

Of course, now it's time to do what would normally have happened first. If you'd like to join us in getting this gorgeous painting for Adam for his early birthday present, send me your $25 (or however much you can comfortably afford) through PayPal, and we'll get a nice card for him later with everyone's signature on it.

After everything Adam has done for our fandom, it's the least we can do.

Serenity Travel Posters

Continuing in the vein of my incredibly creative friends, check this out. After getting noticed for all the amazing artwork he's done for the fan community and various browncoat charity fundraisers, Adam has been tapped to do some licensed work for QMX.

His first piece is a set of gorgeous Serenity Travel Posters, which will be available before their official release date exclusively at the browncoat table at ComicCon, for $35/set (tax included). This is a set of 5 17x22″ prints, on 100lb satin-finish paper, highlighting a few places in the 'verse you might like to visit.

Here's a review from one of Adam's biggest fans:

"Wow. Those are extremely cool.
Masterfully designed."

- Joss Whedon

If any of you who are not going to be at ComicCon would like me to pick you up a set, email me off-list and we'll arrange the PayPal details.

Update: Things From Another World now has the corrected "Lundinium" version available for pre-order.

Harry Potter Theme Park – Coming 2009

Harry Potter theme parkYes kids, they're building a Harry Potter theme park. It's going to be a $265 million park in Florida, attached to the Universal Studios park. From what little has been made available so far, it sounds like an awesome idea! Check out the artist renditions posted on MuggleNet:

The only lame thing about this whole thing (other than Florida's weather being not quite right for Scotland) is the name. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is a mouthful. Nowhere near as catchy as its mousy counterpart.

Anyway, be sure to check out the official site for more details and to sign up for their mailing list.

RIP Lloyd Alexander, author of the Prydain Chronicles

Chronicles of PrydainThe literary world has lost one of its greats this week. Lloyd Alexander, author of the Prydain Chronicles and a host of other children's books, passed away this Thursday in his home in Drexel Hill, PA. The New York Times has a lovely article about him.

Before there was Harry Potter, there was an assistant pig keeper called Taran. Before there was Hermoine, there was a feisty red headed princess called Eilonwy. I didn't discover the Prydain series until my twenties, but considering that it is just as enchanting as the Narnia series I loved as a kid, but with a heavy dose of Welsh instead of Christian mythology, I can only imagine the wonder it would have brought me (and will one day bring my children, should they decide to exist) to be exposed to it at that age.

Some of you who haven't (yet) read the series might also recognize Prydain as the first web domain I owned, and my original email address. For the story behind that, I give you the letter that I once wrote to Lloyd Alexander, and his response back to me. The man was a prince, and will be missed.

My letter to Lloyd Alexander...

Birthday Present #1 – I bought a house!!

My House!!I've been dreaming of buying my mom a house for over five years now. And as of yesterday, it's finally a reality! I am the proud new owner of a lovely 3/2 house on a quarter acre lot in Orangevale. And my mom is finally moving out of her trailer and into a real house for the first time in half a decade. Needless to say, she, Dale, the grandkids and the dog are all thrilled!

I'm going up this weekend to help my mom move in. If anyone wants to drop by and see the place, let me know. And if you want to come and help move, even better! :-)

Obviously, I'll be posting more photos later, after mom has finished painting, moving in and redecorating.

Dell abandons its Vista-only policy

It's a blow to the reputation of Vista, but raises my respect for Dell. When Vista came out, they switched all of their consumer computers to ship only with Vista (only business computers still had the choice between XP and Vista, since corporations are often tentative to upgrade early). But there has been enough consumer demand for XP that Dell once again gives their consumers a choice between XP and Vista.

This doesn't really effect me at all, since I'm not in the market for a Dell at the moment. But it does give me more respect for them as a company, and increases the chance of me recommending them (or, rather, continuing to recommend them) to anyone I know who is in the market for a PC.

Good on them.

My Birthday

I'd like to thank everyone who came out to help me celebrate my 33rd bday. The Friday night outing to see Grindhouse was insane amounts of fun, as was the drunken afterparty (Matt & Marina, I've seen the incriminating video - it's adorable!). The BBQ on Sunday was a smashing success. Everyone fell in love with Cindy & Jason, due to their wicked food skills (aren't they the best roommates ever?). A bunch of friends from different social groups all got to intermingle with one another. And we even has a surprise appearance by my mom and Dale, who spent the bulk of their time on the back patio telling embarrassing stories from my childhood (you see why they weren't invited?). It was awesome!

The gifts were pretty damn cool, too! I'm still a little in shock that Gabe got me a frikkin' Apple TV. After all that joking, I never really thought anyone would take me seriously. Fred gets groups gifts, not me, and this one wasn't even a group gift. I'm flabergasted! Plus, there were books and DVDs and nicknacks and all sorts of other wrapped goodies. They love me, they really really love me! :)

But my favorite birthday gifts this year have to be the two that I am buying for myself. I don't want to jinx anything, so I'll tell you about them as soon as they're official. One should be within the next week or two, the other within the next month. But man, are they cool!!

The good folks at Lego have outdone themselves.

Lego Millennium Falcon Ultimate Collector Series (10179)I was impressed a few years ago, when they came out with the three foot long Star Destroyer that was - at the time - the biggest Lego set ever created, weighing in at 3104 pieces. But once I bought and assembled it, I was a little disappointed at how flimsily constructed it was. I eventually sold it and replaced it with the smaller smaller Star Destroyer that is much more sturdy.

Later, they raised the bar again with the two foot diameter Death Star set, which took over the title of biggest Lego set ever, at 3447 pieces. The Death Star was only slightly more stable than the big Star Destroyer, but it was just so damned impressive on the shelf that no one noticed. I have this at my desk at work, and man is it a conversation starter.

Well, now they've done it again. And this time, they're doing it in style. The new Ultimate Collector Series Millennium Falcon is nearly three feet long, built to the scale of the Lego minifigs, and weighs in at a hefty 5195 pieces! Yes, it's has an equally impressive $500 price tag, but that's the same price point as the QMX Serenity model is going to be, and this is the Millennium Fucking Falcon, and it's made of Legos! It is also made of awesome.

This goes above the QMX model on my fanboy wish list, although still slightly below the custom-made Serenity Lego model that I desperately wish they would mass produce.

eBay Giving Works Welcomes Its 10,000th Nonprofit

eBay Giving WorksToday, eBay Giving Works, the eBay program that lets you post auctions where a percentage of the winning bid is automatically donated to participating charities, announced that they have 10,000th Non-Profit Group in the program.

Since it was my Serenity screening ticket auctions that got Equality Now to sign up for the program last year, I'd like to think I made a small contribution to helping this along. (In this case, "small" is defined as 1/10,000th, I suppose.)

So here's to all 10,000 charities that signed up, the guesstimated tens of thousands of sellers who have taken part in the program, the additional tens of thousands who bid on all those auctions, and the likely millions of people who have benefited from the money raised, in one form or another. With double cheers going to the probably dozens of eBay and Mission Fish folks who made it all possible. Good works, indeed.

Fuck this shit, I’m going home.

Ray's Broken ChairI have to have these two documents merged together, proof-read, and send off to the developers by Sunday afternoon, so I'm pulling an all-nighter to get it all done without having to cancel my weekend plans. At 1:30am, I'm tired, starving, grumpy, and oh so close to finishing. I lean back in my chair to relax for a second... and the whole fucking back of the chair breaks off!!

Fuck that noise. I'll finish this tomorrow. I'm going home.

[To truly appreciate this post, you need to picture the look on my face when I leaned back, heard a big SNAP, and just kept going.]

I had to kill him. Fry’s told me to.

I'm having the worst time trying to buy a physical copy of Homesite 5.5. There are no copies listed on eBay, so it redirects me to what it thinks is the next best logical category: real estate listings. Adobe's site only sells it as a download, and that's for the same $99 a physical copy should be. Amazon tries to sell me a $435 copy of Dreamweaver 8 instead. But by far the funniest result was from Fry's. Apparently their AI has been watching too much Addams Family.

Did you mean homicide?

Get a First Life

Get a First LifeBy now, most of you have at least heard of Second Life, the trendy new virtual-reality world that has its own economy and even its own Reuters bureau. Now I'm not much of a VR guy, so I've never logged on, and my interest in Second Life is limited to seeing how the economy aspect of it evolves. But I found this pretty damned funny.

There is now a Get A First Life parody site, complete with merchandising. It reminds me of the "they expelled me for my theory of actual reality" line from Rent.

Update: The fact that this parody site exists is amusing. But the fact that Dresden Labs, the creators of Second Life, sent the parody site the opposite of a Cease & Desist letter is frikkin' awesome! It takes some serious class to not only publicly acknowledge the fair use of parody, but also take one step further and grant them a proactive limited license for using the modified logo on their merchandise. Kudos!

Review – Apple TV

Apple TVI have been looking forward to Apple's new Apple TV (formerly known as iTV) since before they announced it. I have been downloading a lot of current-season TV shows and watching them on my PC, so the idea of being able to plug a little box into my beautiful 50" TV and watch it from the comfort of Cindy & Jason's insanely comfy couch was very, very appealing. I was even looking forward to the possibility of shit-canning that annoying TiVo box in the next year or so, if they delivered a compelling enough product and could keep up their expansion of available shows.

Well, today the Apple TV was officially announced, along with preliminary details on how it works. To be honest, I'm a little disappointed. Granted, it delivers the basic functionality it promised, but none of the functionality I figured they would include as an end-to-end solution, and the price point is just a little too high to make it all that appealing.

Lets take this review bit by bit, for those of you who are interested...

Too many books to count

ISBN13Or at least to uniquely identify within 10 digits. Yes, folks, the 10-digit ISBN that we've all come to know and love over the years is growing up. Soon it will be replaced with ISBN 13, which will ask to borrow the car keys and probably raid your liquor cabinet when you're away for the weekend.

*sigh* They grow up so fast.

In related news, the 12-digit UPC is also going to 13 digit, although I haven't heard yet whether they will be combining the two or keeping them separate. And how much of a dork does it make me that I'm actually kind of looking forward to reading the ISBN 13 For Dummies PDF this weekend?