Monday, February 28, 2005

Comments Change

With trepidation, I have changed the comments settings so that anyone (even those not registered) can leave comments. I don't know what kind of spam controls this thing has, so if it gets out of hand I'll just change it back.

Weekend in Review

Last week, the company I work for was one of several in the area to get an offer from the Philadelphia 76ers: buy a lower level seat for $25, get a free soda, free popcorn, and a ticket to the "Smuckers Stars on Ice" show last weekend.

Well, the girlfriend is a big fan of ice skating, so I ended up going to the ice show on Friday night.. at the risk of having my manhood questioned, it was actually sort of fun. This may have had something to do with the fact that the free tickets were actually club box seats, so we had access to our own bar, bathroom, waitress, etc. Not bad.

On Saturday I saw "Constantine", and the less said about that the better.

On Sunday I went to the Philadelphia Soul game (yes, I am an Arena football fan and a season ticket holder), which was fun for the first half, but the wheels came off in the second half. The opposition scored in the game EVERY TIME they had the ball. You don't need to know anything about Arena football to know that if a team scores EVERY TIME they have the ball, they're probably going to win.

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Oscar Night

At least one person (okay, actually ONLY one person) invited me to an Oscar party this year: you know, the kind of party where there's a red carpet out in front and everybody comes dressed up. And then you drink. A lot.

That's really all the Oscars are to me anyway: an excuse to go to a theme party. I mean seriously, is there anybody out there that still thinks that the Oscars are actually relevent? I know I stopped paying attention when "Forrest Gump" won Best Picture over BOTH "Pulp Fiction" AND "Shawshank Redemption". I know this stuff is purely subjective, but come on...

And don't even get me started on "Beautiful Mind". I've never walked out of a movie before, but I've come close a couple of times, and watching the gilded, sappy spin Ron Howard put on Dr. Nash's life story was one of them. (The most recent near walkout was during "Constantine" when Keanu Reeves pulled out a gold-plated shotgun with a crucifix on it... another one of my favorite comic books ruined by a movie adaptation.)

This year is particularly brutal because I've only seen ONE of the movies up for Best Picture: "Million Dollar Baby", which was twice as good as any THREE movies I saw this year.

Friday, February 25, 2005

When Naming Rights Attack

Kerry Konrad has the potential to be a name that gets a nice footnote in the annals of the "Why Boston hates New York" history book. A lawyer from New York, Mr. Konrad won an eBay auction for charity in which he gets one day naming rights to the Boston FleetCenter.

The name he has chosen: The Derek Jeter Center.

Full story here.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Spinning Wheels

Some luckless sap is spinning his wheels on the ice in the parking lot outside my apartment window.

I'd help him but it's cold out there.

What? WHAT? Stop looking at me like that! Oh alright FINE... I'll go help. (sigh)

First snow cancels D&D and now I've got to GET UP... (grumble grumble)

Back on the Farm

The company I work for has gotten a lot bigger in the last year (my hiring was a part of that growth), and as such there's been a lot of people and organizations being moved around to different floors, buildings, etc. For awhile it seemed like the group I worked for was going to avoid this.

Not so. Today at our weekly staff meeting we saw the floor plan for the new cube farm we'll be moving into a floor lower than where we are now.

Some of the guys in the group are understandably upset, because right now we sit in offices and a lot of them have gotten used to that, but I really couldn't care less for a few reasons:

1) When I code, I'm typically listening to music to block out distractions. People are constantly stopping by my office, which also sits right across the hall from the pantry so there's always noise coming from there as well. I might actually get less traffic in the new farm because we'll be in the corner of the floor... and either way, when I'm intently working I'll still be listening to music anyway.

2) We're next to a window so I'll have a view. So what if it's a graveyard. I can contemplate life and my own mortality while at work.

3) I get the exact same paycheck whether I'm sitting in an office or in a cube.

The thing I'll miss most is the whiteboard: I never realized just how helpful something like that can be for sketching out designs until I had one. But I can always go back to my old method of drawing things on napkins and then losing them (or blowing my nose with them).

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Easy Ed vs. Free Internet

Although it was last year that Ed Rendell shot down the 10 million dollar municipal internet connectivity project, the story is actually getting a little bit more national attention in the latest issue of Wired (read the editorial here).

The basic gist of Lessig's argument is that there are certain areas in which municipalities directly compete with private businesses, and it's a system that works just fine. According to Lessig, internet connectivity should be one of those businesses.

Now, it's easy to understand why this got shot down in Philadelphia... Comcast has a huge stake in internet connectivity, and they're one of the largest corporations that call Philadelphia home. But the fact that 50% of Philadelphia has no way to get broadband internet is a problem, especially since, in my opinion, universal internet connectivity has (or certainly will soon) become essential to the American notion of a "level playing field."

Does that mean it's time to start handing out free internet to everyone? Well, I don't know about that.. but let me ask you this: isn't universal access to information a goal that goes hand in hand with publicly funded schools and scholarship programs? Obviously, somebody somewhere is going to have to pay for it, but by signing a law prohibiting local governments from providing free WiFi in their communities, Rendell has limited one of the obvious candidates for the source of income to provide what should be a public service: your tax dollars.


Barry Bonds has managed to make headlines for the wrong reasons yet again this week with an ill advised press conference in which he was asked, to no one's great surprise, many questions about Balco, Giambi, Canseco, and steroids.

And, in typical Barry Bonds fashion, he added another brick to the already near impervious "Great Wall of Barry" he has put between himself and everyone else on planet Earth.

You can't say Bonds ever disappoints, both on and off the field. On the field, he has been, quite simply, the best outfielder in the history of baseball, and arguably the greatest player ever. Off the field, he's just been a jerk. If you haven't come to grips with who Bonds is as a person by this point, than you're either a hopeless optimist or you're just not paying attention (although some would say that's the same thing).

Bonds is never going to be the Babe... he's never going to be friendly with the public or hand out toys to children. He is never going to be loved by the public because he's just never going to interact with the fans the way the beloved players of the game did.

But the debate about whether steroids will "cloud his legacy" is, to me, pointless. People like to pretend that baseball is the one sport where you can legitmately compare the numbers from one era to another. This is a ridiculous notion. The pitching is better and more specialized. The players are faster and stronger. There are more teams, resulting in the talent being more widely distributed. All of these variables combine to make today's game different from yesterday's.

Now with the tightened scrutiny on steroids, tomorrow's game will be different than today's.

As for who's to blame... well, everybody. The players are to blame for using steroids in the first place. The owners are to blame for doing nothing about it. Heck, why would they complain when the longball brings them more gate? The media is to blame for glorifying the home run on one hand while remaining suspiciously silent on steroids on the other. Seriously, you can't tell me that nobody in the media the last twenty years hasn't known about steroid use.

Even the fans are culpable. We all joked about how huge guys like Sosa and Bonds (and yes, even Big Mac) had gotten, but we were quietly okay with it because we liked watching them sock those dingers.

I'm glad people are finally talking about steroids and that baseball is trying to do something about it, but for me, this changes nothing about the game. Asterisks are unnecessary because every era of baseball is different, and the new "steroids aware" era of baseball to come will be different as well.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005


I've never, ever used eBay and probably never will (although I think I also said at some point that I would never start a blog), but a co-worker forwarded me the link to a funny story (complete with pics) about a guy who got back at one of the many scammers that prowl everybody's favorite internet auction site.

The entire story is rather long, but the basic gist of it is that this guy was trying to sell a Powerbook on eBay and got a bid from an obvious scammer, so instead of sending him the actual Powerbook he sent him what he calls the "P-P-P-Powerbook".. check it out here.

Scroll down right away to see the pics of this thing. Now that's iComedy!

Even Nothing is Something

I've been reading Brian Greene's Fabric of the Cosmos lately (for those of you who don't know, I'm sort of a closet physics nut... although why I'd be in the closet about that when I openly admit to playing Dungeons and Dragons every week is beyond me). It's a pretty good book.. not the best layman's physics book I've ever read (I liked his earlier Elegant Universe better so far), but good nonetheless.

I just finished a chapter that discussed the theories behind the Higgs Field, and I gotta say that this is one of those things that blows my mind every time I hear about it. The basic idea is that the "vacuum" of space (the nothingness, the void, whatever) actually consists of a ridiculously small nonzero value spread throughout the entirety of space. It's called the Higgs ocean.

They won't be able to experimentally prove/disprove this theory until 2007... the particles that would make up these Higgs fields are too small to be detected through currently available means, but the new atom smasher currently under construction in Geneva will eventually be powerful enough to reach speeds where they should be found.

Could it be that the concept of nothing... really doesn't mean anything?

After all: one is greater than zero, even for very small values of one.

A pretty good start

That's me... two steps behind the curve as usual.

It's 2005 and I'm finally doing a blog.

Some of you may lovingly remember me as the "Philly Sports Dude" from back in the days when I actually updated Believe it or not, I still have the domain name, and the domain is even being hosted by a co-worker! But I'm just too lazy to go about updating it. I write code for a living, but I've been trying to make a conscious effort to leave programming tasks in the realm of "work" (even though it's often too fun to fairly be called that). This blog will allow me to post updates easily and quickly, and will do the publishing work for me.

Besides, talking about nothing but sports takes its toll on a guy, especially when you're writing about PHILADELPHIA sports. I have now lived to see all four of the major sports teams get to the championship... and lose. I guess there's something to be said for that.

Whatever the case, I am shedding my "PhillySportsDude" moniker forever and replacing it with the more humble and discrete "robustyoungsoul". This is where I will now post my random thoughts... which will make this blog exactly the same as every other blog in the universe. Neat!