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Gasmask
10 July 2007 @ 08:23 pm
do not fear gentle listener, for I still do exist. Soon I will have aged another year, if one is to believe in the linear concept of time. Another step to death, then maybe I won't have to exist on this dustball anymore.
 
 
Gasmask
10 June 2007 @ 08:25 pm
Attention carbon based life forms

The time has come for a fresh start. Those of you who care, please add the user astriaos to your LJ friends. I will be posting from there henceforth.

Thank you for your time.

PS. I will add you if you add me.
 
 
Current Music: "The Blue Danube"
 
 
Gasmask
08 June 2007 @ 10:13 pm
I think it is time that I start looking for a new job. They're taking me for granted and I don't really appreciate it. The pay is crap for what I do 'cause I am young and  "prideful," apparently. Their lives would be a hell of a lot more difficult if I wasn't around. I think it is time that I begin branching out. Perhaps it would be time to go get a part time at the library.
 
 
Gasmask
07 June 2007 @ 05:58 pm

'You've got to find what you love,' Jobs says

This is the text of the Commencement address by Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple Computer and of Pixar Animation Studios, delivered on June 12, 2005.

I am honored to be with you today at your commencement from one of the finest universities in the world. I never graduated from college. Truth be told, this is the closest I've ever gotten to a college graduation. Today I want to tell you three stories from my life. That's it. No big deal. Just three stories.

The first story is about connecting the dots.

I dropped out of Reed College after the first 6 months, but then stayed around as a drop-in for another 18 months or so before I really quit. So why did I drop out?

It started before I was born. My biological mother was a young, unwed college graduate student, and she decided to put me up for adoption. She felt very strongly that I should be adopted by college graduates, so everything was all set for me to be adopted at birth by a lawyer and his wife. Except that when I popped out they decided at the last minute that they really wanted a girl. So my parents, who were on a waiting list, got a call in the middle of the night asking: "We have an unexpected baby boy; do you want him?" They said: "Of course." My biological mother later found out that my mother had never graduated from college and that my father had never graduated from high school. She refused to sign the final adoption papers. She only relented a few months later when my parents promised that I would someday go to college.

And 17 years later I did go to college. But I naively chose a college that was almost as expensive as Stanford, and all of my working-class parents' savings were being spent on my college tuition. After six months, I couldn't see the value in it. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life and no idea how college was going to help me figure it out. And here I was spending all of the money my parents had saved their entire life. So I decided to drop out and trust that it would all work out OK. It was pretty scary at the time, but looking back it was one of the best decisions I ever made. The minute I dropped out I could stop taking the required classes that didn't interest me, and begin dropping in on the ones that looked interesting.

It wasn't all romantic. I didn't have a dorm room, so I slept on the floor in friends' rooms, I returned coke bottles for the 5¢ deposits to buy food with, and I would walk the 7 miles across town every Sunday night to get one good meal a week at the Hare Krishna temple. I loved it. And much of what I stumbled into by following my curiosity and intuition turned out to be priceless later on. Let me give you one example:

Reed College at that time offered perhaps the best calligraphy instruction in the country. Throughout the campus every poster, every label on every drawer, was beautifully hand calligraphed. Because I had dropped out and didn't have to take the normal classes, I decided to take a calligraphy class to learn how to do this. I learned about serif and san serif typefaces, about varying the amount of space between different letter combinations, about what makes great typography great. It was beautiful, historical, artistically subtle in a way that science can't capture, and I found it fascinating.

None of this had even a hope of any practical application in my life. But ten years later, when we were designing the first Macintosh computer, it all came back to me. And we designed it all into the Mac. It was the first computer with beautiful typography. If I had never dropped in on that single course in college, the Mac would have never had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts. And since Windows just copied the Mac, its likely that no personal computer would have them. If I had never dropped out, I would have never dropped in on this calligraphy class, and personal computers might not have the wonderful typography that they do. Of course it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college. But it was very, very clear looking backwards ten years later.

Again, you can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.

My second story is about love and loss.

I was lucky — I found what I loved to do early in life. Woz and I started Apple in my parents garage when I was 20. We worked hard, and in 10 years Apple had grown from just the two of us in a garage into a $2 billion company with over 4000 employees. We had just released our finest creation — the Macintosh — a year earlier, and I had just turned 30. And then I got fired. How can you get fired from a company you started? Well, as Apple grew we hired someone who I thought was very talented to run the company with me, and for the first year or so things went well. But then our visions of the future began to diverge and eventually we had a falling out. When we did, our Board of Directors sided with him. So at 30 I was out. And very publicly out. What had been the focus of my entire adult life was gone, and it was devastating.

I really didn't know what to do for a few months. I felt that I had let the previous generation of entrepreneurs down - that I had dropped the baton as it was being passed to me. I met with David Packard and Bob Noyce and tried to apologize for screwing up so badly. I was a very public failure, and I even thought about running away from the valley. But something slowly began to dawn on me — I still loved what I did. The turn of events at Apple had not changed that one bit. I had been rejected, but I was still in love. And so I decided to start over.

I didn't see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.

During the next five years, I started a company named NeXT, another company named Pixar, and fell in love with an amazing woman who would become my wife. Pixar went on to create the worlds first computer animated feature film, Toy Story, and is now the most successful animation studio in the world. In a remarkable turn of events, Apple bought NeXT, I returned to Apple, and the technology we developed at NeXT is at the heart of Apple's current renaissance. And Laurene and I have a wonderful family together.

I'm pretty sure none of this would have happened if I hadn't been fired from Apple. It was awful tasting medicine, but I guess the patient needed it. Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don't lose faith. I'm convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You've got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. Don't settle. As with all matters of the heart, you'll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don't settle.

My third story is about death.

When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: "If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you'll most certainly be right." It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: "If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?" And whenever the answer has been "No" for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.

Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure - these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.

About a year ago I was diagnosed with cancer. I had a scan at 7:30 in the morning, and it clearly showed a tumor on my pancreas. I didn't even know what a pancreas was. The doctors told me this was almost certainly a type of cancer that is incurable, and that I should expect to live no longer than three to six months. My doctor advised me to go home and get my affairs in order, which is doctor's code for prepare to die. It means to try to tell your kids everything you thought you'd have the next 10 years to tell them in just a few months. It means to make sure everything is buttoned up so that it will be as easy as possible for your family. It means to say your goodbyes.

I lived with that diagnosis all day. Later that evening I had a biopsy, where they stuck an endoscope down my throat, through my stomach and into my intestines, put a needle into my pancreas and got a few cells from the tumor. I was sedated, but my wife, who was there, told me that when they viewed the cells under a microscope the doctors started crying because it turned out to be a very rare form of pancreatic cancer that is curable with surgery. I had the surgery and I'm fine now.

This was the closest I've been to facing death, and I hope its the closest I get for a few more decades. Having lived through it, I can now say this to you with a bit more certainty than when death was a useful but purely intellectual concept:

No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don't want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life's change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.

Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.

When I was young, there was an amazing publication called The Whole Earth Catalog, which was one of the bibles of my generation. It was created by a fellow named Stewart Brand not far from here in Menlo Park, and he brought it to life with his poetic touch. This was in the late 1960's, before personal computers and desktop publishing, so it was all made with typewriters, scissors, and polaroid cameras. It was sort of like Google in paperback form, 35 years before Google came along: it was idealistic, and overflowing with neat tools and great notions.

Stewart and his team put out several issues of The Whole Earth Catalog, and then when it had run its course, they put out a final issue. It was the mid-1970s, and I was your age. On the back cover of their final issue was a photograph of an early morning country road, the kind you might find yourself hitchhiking on if you were so adventurous. Beneath it were the words: "Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish." It was their farewell message as they signed off. Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish. And I have always wished that for myself. And now, as you graduate to begin anew, I wish that for you.

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

Thank you all very much
 
 
Gasmask
30 May 2007 @ 11:30 am
Hey Kids, it's time to go bike shopping!. I'm in the market for a new bicycle as I've not ridden for a long time due to having a shit bike/ no funds. However due to my impending move to an urban environment I'll be able to commute on a bike. Shocking! I know, but this means its time to buckle down and go buy a decent entry road bike. I've been looking around the Bike Megathread on SA but the most anyone seems to be able to do is tell me to A: Go get fitted for a bike so I have a comfortable and non-knee destroying ride. I've garnered that I'll be spending at least $400 on a used bike, but I have reservations about purchasing a used bike unless it is through an actual reputable dealer.

Looking into Specialized of course. It's the only moderately expensive bicycle brand that I;ve had the pleasure to ride on and it was a quality product. I would be willing to bet that if we could find that bike and fix it up it would still go.

I need to go to the cycle store and get fitted.
 
 
 
Gasmask
28 May 2007 @ 11:21 pm
Volumes have already been written about real life, the most accessible and most widely accepted massively multiplayer online role-playing game to date. Featuring believable characters, plenty of lasting appeal, and a lot of challenge and variety, real life is absolutely recommendable to those who've grown weary of all the cookie-cutter games that have tried to emulate its popularity--or to just about anyone, really. Real life isn't above reproach. In one of the stranger design decisions in the game, for some reason you have no choice in determining your character's initial starting location, appearance, or gender, which are chosen for you seemingly at random. However, over the course of your character's life, you have tremendous opportunity to customize and define a truly unique appearance for yourself--not only can you fine-tune your hairstyle and hair color, but you can also purchase and wear a seemingly infinite variety of clothing and influence your body type using various in-game mechanisms. For example, if your character exercises frequently, you will appear fit and muscular. You may also choose from a huge variety of tattoos and body piercings, and later you can even pay for cosmetic surgery, though this is expensive and there's a small chance that the operation will backfire. At any rate, real life offers a truly remarkable amount of variety in determining your character's outward appearance, and this depth isn't only skin deep. The only problem is you're relegated to playing as a human character, though the game does randomly choose one of several different races for you (which have little bearing on gameplay and mostly just affect appearances and your standing with certain factions).

The gameplay itself is extremely open-ended, though it's structured in such a way that you'll have a fairly clear path to follow when you're just starting out. Real life features a great system whereby newbie players will automatically be guided along through the early levels by one or more "parent" characters who elect to take newbie characters under their wing. This is a great system, as these older, more-experienced characters reap their own benefits from doing a good job of guiding the newbie character along. The system does have some problems, though--sometimes you'll encounter "griefer" parents who shirk their responsibilities or, even worse, seem content to harass newbie players. Such a situation could, in theory, irreparably damage your experience in real life. Fortunately, chances of this are relatively slim, as a harsh punitive system is in place to prevent the vast majority of players from experiencing or engaging in this sort of behavior.

Typically, a character will learn of the numerous viable career paths available by undergoing schooling. This can be a long and tedious process, equivalent to the sort of "level treadmill" monotony that characterizes almost all MMORPGs. Nevertheless, many players do manage to enjoy themselves in this phase, especially if they band together--real life definitely rewards players who join groups, though soloing is certainly an option as well. At any rate, through the schooling process, as you engage in various activities, you eventually settle on a career path, and this is when you can start making a good amount of money and really taking matters into your own hands.

There are a few known exploits for making money, but generally the game's financial system is well balanced, complex, and rewarding for those who put forth proportionally more effort. You can use money to acquire new and better clothing, your own custom housing (a tremendous variety of options are available here as well), and new means of transportation ranging from bicycles to automobiles and beyond, and you can even employ other players and some non-player characters to do your bidding. Most notably, certain actions in real life are necessary and yet require a considerable amount of expertise to perform, or are simply boring. Additionally, even if you do have expertise in a field, that doesn't mean you can perform a given task for yourself--in this way, real life encourages and even forces player interaction, so those who prefer to go solo might find themselves in a bind at times. For example, even if your character specializes in dentistry, that doesn't mean you can perform a root-canal operation on yourself. Fortunately, dentistry is one of many lucrative professions in real life, and its practitioners can easily afford to pay for the various required maintenance tasks, freeing up their own free time for more-interesting activities.

One issue with real life is that it gives you very little specific feedback on character advancement. To give a couple of examples, a highly proficient player might receive a sudden pay raise or might become a champion boxer, but there's no clear way to tell exactly how smart or how strong you really are. Cleverly, there are in-game ways of at least getting a sense of these and other key attributes. You may attempt to lift weights to roughly determine how your strength compares with that of other characters. Various tests are available to gauge your overall intellect and expertise and knowledge in a variety of fields, though annoyingly, you need to pay a considerable fee to take some of these--and if you win, often you aren't allowed to retake the exam for a while, or sometimes at all.

The game's player-run economy and well-balanced career system are extremely well done, but similar to what's found in other games. On the other hand, a particularly innovative aspect of real life is the way it forces you to gain certification to use certain objects. This feels much less contrived than the level caps or class restrictions found in other games (there are no "levels" or "experience points" per se in real life), and it also prevents players who "twink" money from their parents from automatically getting access to all the best facilities and equipment--though it's certainly true that players of good parentage have an inherent and arguably unfair advantage. Nevertheless, it's standard practice to have to qualify for certain professions, to engage in certain activities, to use certain equipment, and so forth. This system is quite modular. For example, even if you've become certified to drive a motorcycle, that doesn't automatically qualify you to drive an automobile.

This example is evidence of some of the amazing depth offered by real life--there are so many different options and viable decisions for a character to make that it's just about impossible for any one character to see everything and visit all the colorful and sometimes dangerous locations. Unlike in other MMORPGs, combat actually isn't a major factor for most players in real life, though players are bound to engage in a few skirmishes early in their lives. Interestingly, though, real life does offer an amazingly intricate combat system, featuring complex hand-to-hand and ranged combat options that a character may learn and even specialize in.

That being the case, you'd think more players would be drawn to combat in real life, and in some territories, they are. However, the PVE (player vs. environment) aspect of real life is relatively unpopular, and the PVP (player vs. player) portion, while interesting, is far too risky for most of the population. That's on account of the game's very strict death penalty and punitive system--you may freely attempt to harm or kill any other player at any time, but you will then likely be heavily punished by the game's player-run authorities. The punitive system has loopholes and other problems, allowing certain players to elude punishment and continue to engage in various player-killing activities. But for the most part, real life does a good enough job of making the punishment fit the crime, as it were, so in most regions there's a relative sense of order.

Player death is a serious issue in real life, and cause for continued debate among players, who often direct unanswerable questions on the subject to the game's developers, who are apparently (and understandably) so busy that they generally keep silent. In short, players who die--at the hands of other players, by the occasional environmental hazard, or when their account expires--are essentially removed from the gameworld and apparently cannot return at all. This further discourages players from engaging in PVP combat, but it does help real life's rapidly growing player population from getting too out of hand (though eventually there will be a need for additional servers).

Real life looks incredible, to say the least. To be sure, certain areas appear drab and colorless, even unpleasantly so. But some of the outdoor environments and even some of the player-made urban settings are truly a sight to behold, and various environmental and weather effects only add to the charm. The character models, meanwhile, are as impressive and detailed as they are varied. Some are incredibly striking and beautiful, while others appear hideously ugly--it's great that you can more or less decide for yourself on which side of the spectrum you wish to be. Real life also features some of the most believable ambient effects and footstep sounds to date, and it offers an incredible variety of music for good measure. In one of the game's best touches, players can actually compose, conduct, and perform their own music, and this is viable either for solo players or for groups. Especially skilled musicians go on to become some of the wealthiest and most popular characters around. The music career path is more complex and challenging than you'd expect, and it's another one of real life's really impressive and well-implemented features. One of the coolest experiences in the game is in traveling to different regions and listening to how different the music sounds for that territory. For that matter, architecture and even player languages differ depending on region.

Real life can occasionally feel like a chore. Some players legitimately dislike it, despite having attempted and even excelled at numerous career paths. Others externalize their frustrations by harming other players or, in some cases, even harming themselves. These players do have access to various support forums, and often end up whiling away the time by engaging in various available minigames or other competitive activities. Socializing is always an option, and as with other online RPGs, real life is certainly at its most rewarding when you manage to find and consort with other like-minded companions. At any rate, it's hard to fault the game for lack of content or viable activities, and even when certain players try to subvert the system or harm others, it still makes for some exciting and spontaneous events for other players who happen to be in the area or just hear of the event. Beyond that, real life can indeed be very time-consuming, and some of the less exciting moments, such as when your character is tired or injured, can be annoyingly so.

It's also true that real life is constantly being refined. Some players argue that many of the numerous changes constantly being made are for the worse--for example, players running once-profitable tobacco companies, as well as the players who are addicted to using popular tobacco products, often complain that the tobacco business is being "nerfed" for no good reason. But either way, it's good to know that players are able to actively improve certain features that require finer tuning. This keeps the developers free to focus on bigger issues.

Ultimately, if you take a step back and look at the big picture, you'll see that real life is an impressive and exciting experience, despite its occasional and sometimes noticeable problems. It says a lot for real life that, even with these issues, it's still very highly recommendable. Simply put, those missing out on real life are doing just that.
 
 
Gasmask
28 May 2007 @ 01:30 pm
I shouldn't sleep till 1pm but ooh it felt good despite the odd "we're at the mall and leaving you there but it's Dallas and you don't know anybody" dreams.
 
 
Gasmask
23 May 2007 @ 07:58 pm
1. Follow The Hollow

I fought the forces that will bring me down
they crawl without a sound
They wake me up at night, kill the lights, make it right
No time for slumber I'm getting dumber every sigh,
-everytime I'm standing tall, everytime I rise and fall

I think w'ere closer now, I'm getting nearer
I can see it touching ground, it's getting clearer
can't you see I'm way behind, I'm so sincere
I believe you'll never find.

Weed out the sun, under the gun
Kneel down for the ricochet
My future tells no lies to a creature with o rights
As for the plans I have in mind I have nothing left to find
Please show a sign, who's next in line?

I think we're closer now, I'm getting nearer
I can see it touching ground, it's getting clearer
can't you see I'm all denied faithfucked believer
I claim you'll never find a better fear

[Chorus]

take a look, take a ride, stay by my side
don't dare to think-let's FOLLOW THE HOLLOW
it kills your pride to be alive
please step a side, cause I FOLLOW THE HOLLOW!

we head for hell and we do it well, come eat the dust
cause it's all a dirty lie that chokes the sky

I think we're closer now, I'm getting nearer
I can see it touching ground, it's getting clearer
can't you see I'm way behind, I'm so sincere
I believe you'll never find a better fear

[Chorus]

take a look, take a ride, stay by my side
don't dare to think-let's FOLLOW THE HOLLOW
it kills your pride to be alive
please step a side, cause I FOLLOW THE HOLLOW!
[Repeat]

[Lead Frenning]

I think we're closer now, I'm getting nearer
I can see it touching ground, it's getting clearer
can't you see I'm all denied faithfucked believer
I claim you'll never find a better fear

[Chorus]

take a look, take a ride, stay by my side
don't dare to think-let's
FOLLOW THE HOLLOW
it kills your pride to be alive
please step a side, 'cause I FOLLOW THE HOLLOW! 
 
 
Gasmask
21 May 2007 @ 12:10 pm
That was an extremely nice 13 hour sleep. I feel refreshed, and I also want to go back to sleep.

Carry on.
 
 
Gasmask
19 May 2007 @ 06:48 pm
Well kids, it looks like Blizzard finally is making a game that i am willing to play. Starcraft pt.2 is on the way. Looks like I'll have to update my computer in a couple years or so. not to happy about having to use 64-bit Vista. But, Direct-X 10 and Unreal III make me want to shit myself with glee. I mean seriously, go to the website and check out the theatrical trailer. Heinlein would be pleased.