Monday, October 28, 2002

What is more important?

The group or the individuals who make up that group?

Before you answer lets pause and think about this a moment. We are talking about Holism vs. Atomism. Holism (I think it would be more appropriately spelled Wholism) emphasizes the whole system. Atomism (derived from breaking things down to their atoms) emphasizes the qualities of the individual parts.

Before we jump into debate, note that both are compatible and necessary. A hydrogen atom has it's properties because of it's WHOLE nature, but without the individual neutrons, protons and electrons, it wouldn't be possible to have the atom at all. Or better yet, a brick by itself isn't much, but put a lot of them together with mortar and you have yourself a wall!

Atomism tends to get more attention because as humans we like to think of ourselves as individuals. We are unique and special. We even, to a certain extent, want to believe that without us the world around us just wouldn't be the same.

Holism is something engineers have to think about. When I build a network I cannot concentrate on one piece of the puzzle at a time. Well, I can, but it's very inefficient. Better to look at the WHOLE picture and plan accordingly. Anyone who has done a budget knows this philosophy as well.

The reason this has been on my mind lately is because my office has taken a bit of an Atomistic view. It has splintered into departments. Not as much of a big deal for larger companies, but we are not a big company. The departments do not work together to solve company problems. They are concerned more for their needs. In a business where each department needs to assist the others, this causes a lot of strife and bad moral.

There were many reasons for the office to fall into “atoms”, but one of the causes was a new and faulty work flow. The way data is distributed through the office was built over time with no structure. It was also built by those who had to implement it, not necessarily those who needed it. In short the processes are inefficient, designed for or by the wrong people and the system is not being utilized to it's optimum efficiency and never will in its current state.

That's where I come in. I noted a couple months ago about a big project I was hoping to get approved. Well I did and I'm the project leader. As far as upper management is concerned the primary goal is installing and setting up a new CRM package. However, that is my secondary goal. My primary goal is to get the office working as a team again by helping design new, efficient and usable work flows.

I have assembled a team of “super users” from each department, including managers (mine is one of them). By detailing our current work flow I can do two things. One, I can see where there are weak points and work on fixing those areas. Two, I'll be able to design the application/database to work with our needs.

The first is very important to me. Part of the reason our current system has so many points of failure is because it was not designed with the users of the system in mind. They looked at the WHOLE, but not the INDIVIDUALS. A great number of “great” features were not used or slowly phased out. Pieces were added on after the system was in place, making them inconvenient and thus not used. If during their normal work flow they are asked to do something out of the way, it's not going to stay in favor and will eventually fail.

Just as a network has to be analyzed and planned before implementation, so must business work flow. When building a network I need to know what will be on that network. Will the applications and traffic warrant 100 megabit hubs and switches? Will there be a need for fiber optics? What is the future growth potential? Etc. etc. Any good engineer HAS to do these things. Planning is necessary to the success of a project.

To use another analogy, do you know why Compaq and IBM computers are so popular among businesses? Not necessarily because their parts are better, but as a whole they are better. Let me explain. Compaq and IBM (and likely other OEMs) build and test their configurations rigorously before offering them up to the public. That's why there are only a few configuration options. Those are the tested and known to be “good” configurations. Others may work but may not be as efficient or stable.

“Good” is highly subjective. Whether it's a person, computer or process, the needs will be different from one person/department/company to the next. You can build a computer with all the “best” parts, as reviewed by other users on the Internet, but that doesn't mean those parts will create a WHOLE “best” computer. The “best” memory might not work on the “best” motherboard.

The same applies to businesses and processes. Sometimes sacrifices have to be made so that the WHOLE is a success. The whole work flow could be disrupted because one department wants something special that will cost the company thousands of dollars and will require customization. That INDIVIDUAL need will have to be pruned to save the WHOLE process.

In a business especially, the bottom line is the business. The WHOLE is the goal of everyone. If it's not the whole starts to fail. I'm sure you all can apply that same philosophy to many other situations in our lives. Atomism and Holism cannot work alone. They work together to produce a dynamic system that can evolve and grow. Hold to one alone and that system is doomed to fail.

Saturday, October 26, 2002

Price Update

I've updated my Entertainment PC page with updated pricing. I'm trying to hit it once a month as prices change. I'll also modify things slightly if better or less expensive options come out.

I also noted my displeasure with the WinDVR2 software. I do not want to be held responsible for suggesting a product that frankly I feel is junk. Maybe others have had better luck with it. I did leave it on the list however as it is a valid (debatible) software choice.

I get a surprising number of hits on that page, probably due to the fact I list the part numbers (which many online retailers seem to neglect for some reason). So I get hits from people looking for more info. I hope my page is of some help.

Since I don't have the money to actually BUILD these systems and test them in the real world, it's all just numbers and letters on a page, but if you are insterested in me spec'ing out a custom machine (no case mods please), let me know. I'm always up for a challange, plus it keeps my hardware knowledge sharp.

Friday, October 25, 2002

Strings, Uncertainty & Infinity

(disclaimer: I don't have a degree in Physics, Mathematics or Philosophy. The idea I am presenting are not fact. Actually none of the references I used are established as facts. However my ideas are based on my interpretations of theories that are widely accepted as true or highly likely. Keep this in mind, Newton's theories have been considered fact for roughly 350 years. They are now easily shown wrong. They are VERY close to the truth, but not 100%. His theories fall apart at the macro (galactic interactions) and micro (atomic particles) levels.)

I've tossed out a theory of the Omniverse. The Omniverse is infinite and is made up of an infinite number of universes. Michio Kaku states in his book 'Visions', “At present, the fundamental problem with sting theory is that millions of solutions of the theory have been found, but none which precisely matches the known spectrum of quarks, gluons, neutrinos, etc. Many people have despaired of ever finding all the solutions of string theory to find our universe.” I contend they will never find all the solutions because there are an infinite number. This plays right into my theory. But before I get too head of myself, let me explain String Theory, as I understand it.

At its most basic, String Theory states that everything is made up of vibrating “strings”. Their frequency, vibration, determines its properties. Quantum particles are made up of these strings. There should be an infinite number of frequencies, and thus an infinite number of particles. This is what troubles the string theory physicists. If there are an infinite number of solutions, they cannot determine if the theory is correct or not. They need to solve it with the variables that produce the properties that are present in our universe to do this. At present that is the only way we can know with any certainty that the theory is correct.

So String Theory would give us a fundamental understanding of the foundation of the universe. With that understanding we should be able to understand why the universe acts as it does. Steven Hawking has commenting that knowing the theory to everything would be like knowing God. He's right. With that level of knowledge we could do nearly anything. Many String Theory physicists actually do not feel that their solution will be the theory of everything, but just the next step. Only time will tell. We don't know what exists outside our universe. Will String Theory tell us? Perhaps not 100% but it can give us glimpses.

String Theory can calculate millions, perhaps an infinite number of universes. Who's to say they don't exist? There is nothing that states our universe is the perfect one. Many, including Hawking have suggested that because we are here it's proof that ours is the best because of the extremely sensitive thresholds of our physical universe. But with an infinite number of quantum particles couldn't another universe, with totally different physical principles , be created? That universes Newton might come to different conclusions than ours because of the different particles that make it up. If Sting Theory is correct however, those strings would be fundamental to any of the universes, successful or full of a soup made up of quantum particles that cannot interact in a constructive manner.

The Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle fits in here nicely too. Basically it states you cannot ever know anything for certain without observation/interaction. The classic example is Schrödinger's Cat. This poor cat is in a box. You don't know if it's alive or dead. Without looking in the box you can never know for sure. But rather than leaving the answer in limbo, the answer has to be both. The cat is alive and dead at the same time.

If there are an infinite number of solutions to String Theory then there has to be an infinite number of universes created from that uncertainty. Our universe is far from perfect so it makes logical sense that there has to be more. An infinite number of experiments looking for the perfect universe.



Happy Joie? hahaha ;)

Sunday, October 20, 2002

I get bored sometimes

Yeah well who doesn't right? Well I started thinking about it and I really don't have a reason to be bored. I mean with all my interests I should always have plenty to do! And I do. I have books, my computer, my camera, etc etc. So what's the problem?

The problem is I have no challenge! I'll stumble across something that interests me and I'll run with it for a little while, but as soon as the challenge is gone I drop it. The initial challenge is the learning. If something interests me I enjoy learning about it.

Occasionally someone will challenge me. Work and Melly usually. When that happens I'm forced (in a good way) to dive back into what caught my interest to start with. This also gets my perfectionist tendencies working in a positive direction. In other words, when I'm challenged I do my best work.

I realized this evening that is why I get bored sometimes on the weekends and evenings. If I'm in learning mode I'm ok, but otherwise i need something to do. Ok so it sounds a bit pathetic, but I need a task master. I need a wife! LOL ;) I have just the woman in mind too. :)

In all seriousness this is an important revelation for me. I know I'm an intelligent guy but I had a terrible time in college, with a few exceptions. I have to learn a certain way. The class has to maintain my interest and without an instructor/professor who can or will challenge me personally I will loose interest in the class and I won't do well. In other words I need an instructor who can work with me one-on-one. Any one who's been to today universities and colleges knows that one-on-one work with your instructor is nearly impossible, unfortunately. There are exceptions, but not many.

I think this is why most of my knowledge has been self taught. When I got into computers professionally, I had taught myself roughly 90% of all the computer skills I had. Now it's probably closer to 98-99%. Lots of trial-and-error as well as reading. I'm doing the same now with physics. I'm doing a lot of reading and thinking. I've even considered trying to reteach myself calculus.

I could probably do better now back in school, but at this point I can't see why I should. If I can teach myself with less cost and more interest, isn't the savings worth it? With a professor I'm going to be forced, challenged, to learn more and in a more well rounded format. Doing it myself I can put the cart before the horse.

Actually one day I want to teach. I want to challenge kids to learn more about their world around them. I think why I want to teach is because I suspect there are many other kids and adults who learn like I do. The idea you can teach en mass and expect people to really be able to do anything with that knowledge seems a little off to me. You should WANT to know more than what is in the text book. That book is only a guide. I had instructors like that in college. I had one tell the whole class that if you couldn't memorize the things in the book and in his lecture we wouldn't pass. I didn't pass, twice! The third time I had a different, better instructor and got an A.
Well I've strayed from the point, but the basic point is that I've learned some thing very important about myself and why I didn't do well in college. Perhaps this knowledge can help me in the future, as I'll have to go back to school if I want to be a teacher some day.


I get a lot of search engine hits on this product so I felt it was important to note my experiences with this piece of software.


The first time I loaded it, I was running an ATI TV Wonder card. It never even let me into the interface. I assumed it was an interfacing problem as the TV Wonder isn't as popular as the full ATI All-In-Wonder card. I uninstalled it and forgot about it.

I just loaded it again because I got an ATI All-In-Wonder Raedon 8500 DV card. I figured, 'hey, I've been getting a lot of hits on this application, let me check it out. I bet it'll work fine now that have a better card."


The results were worse. I got a message saying there was an application error and pop-zoom, my computer rebooted. This happened twice. I gave up and uninstalled it again.

Sure there are probably trouble shooting FAQs I could read, but that's not the point. Software like this should work first try. This is version 2 of the software even. I think I'll just stick with the DVR capibilities built into the ATI software. InterVideo's WinDVR2 plain didn't work at all for me. Buyer beware. Their website is slow as molassis too.

Friday, October 18, 2002

I'm done

I'm dropping this spam vs. anti-spam vs. me thing. There is a lot more going on here than I care to dive into any further. I'm walking away from it. I'll deal with it when I have to but outside of that I dont have the time to deal with it. I have more important things in my life than this.

Note: This has nothing to do with my blog. My blog will remain up, just no more spam articles. I'd rather talk about idiots not using their blinkers. LOL

Counter Arguement

Jason, a happy user of SPEWS (not affiliated with SPEWS), has graciously allowed me to post an email that he sent to me regarding SPEWS. My coorespondaces with Jason have been pleasent and professional. We don't agree 100%, but I do respect his opinion.

Hi Marc,

Thanks for the follow up. I read (and replied) to your followup post this morning, as well.

Your issue/disagreement with SPEWS methodology is common, and I actually used to have the same opinion as you. But when I really watched what was happening for a while, I changed my opinion.

The rest of this email is not important, but I'm going to write it anyway, just in case you are interested. Often it IS hard to filter through the more abrasive posts in NANAE to get the real info. I try to help people understand why SPEWS is a really good system, even though it IS highly controversial.

I actually found out about SPEWS when my email server got listed. A client of mine had allowed a spam campaign to be sent out on their behalf. I didn't know this had happened, and my client didn't know that he was spamming. He was employing what he thought was a legitimate email marketing company. We got out of SPEWS in less than a week by fixing the problem, and I enacted new policies in my company to prevent us from ever being listed again.

SPEWS doesn't start out listing a whole Class C. They list the spammer's IP address first, (immediately to stop the spam) and complain to the ISP. Most ISP's have Acceptable Use Policies that expressly forbid spamming. A few ISP's don't enforce their AUP.

When an ISP doesn't stop a spammer, but allows them to continue spamming, it can be reasonably assumed that that ISP is "spam-friendly." Or, at the very least that they are slow to act. Spammers keep track of ISPs who are spam friendly and migrate to them. Verio is a prime example of this.

So, how does one convince an ISP that allowing spammers on their network is "bad business?" An organized boycott is one way. SPEWS essentially facilitates an organized boycott, but they don't normally list a major ISP's _entire_ address range. They list increasingly larger blocks of that IP space until someone finally acts.

A few years ago, the U.S. Congress stated that they didn't want to pass any laws regarding spam. They specifically stated that they wanted the free market to handle the problem if at all possible.

Hundreds of companies have tried just blocking the IP addresses of spammers. But, spam supporting ISP's learned that they could just move the spammer to a new IP address, and then the block would be useless. So, private system administrators spent hours just trying to keep up with what IP addresses spammers were using on any given day. This is called "playing whack-a-mole" (like the carnival game).

SPEWS has accomplished a few things in the free market fight against spam (which will cost businesses an estimated $10 Billion this year).

(1) Because of SPEWS agressive methods, there has been a lot of media attention on "how to stop spam." This is good, because it is forcing our elected officials to look at the issue.

(2) It has virtually stopped the "whack-a-mole" game. ISP's are learning that just moving spammers around doesn't work anymore.

(3) ISP's are being forced to make a decision as to whether they will support spam or not. If they do support spam, they are tending to move their spammers into more consolidated netblocks, effectively "containing" spammers.

Believe me, I don't think that SPEWS is the _best_ way to handle the spam problem, but I do think that it is a good way. I've got a few better ideas, but don't have the time or inclination to build them.

Which comes to the final point. SPEWS is run by a group of anonymous volunteers. A bunch of very intelligent system administrators have found a good way to fight spam, and they are donating their work to the internet at large. Until a commercial service that is accountable to its paying customers creates a more effective solution, or governments create effective anti-spam laws, then we have to rely on outfits like SPEWS to create a temporary fix with "consolidated power."

One could also argue that a commercial service solving the problem is a bad thing. Why should I have to pay "protection money" to keep spammers from abusing my email server?

I'm not going to go into the whole "why spam is bad" thing, because I think we agree on that. But spam is more than an inconvenience. 38% of all internet email is spam, and spammers rely on a number of destructive techniques to operate. The spam problem truly threatens the viability of email as a useful communications medium, and it has got to be stopped.

Best wishes,


Jason is also known as Ziggy in the NANAE ( newsgroup.


SPEWS does not block anything. They simply provide the blacklist which email admins then elect to use.

Frankly I dont see the problem from their point of view. Spam sucks and we get our share of it here too, but I and the managment here are not going to block spam in a wide sweep as SPEWS does. That said I should refrain from bad mouthing those who elect to use it. They may have very legitimate reasons for doing so.

I'm hoping to post a counter arguement in favor of SPEWS. I want to be fair about this. I'll be honest, my knowledge of email administration is small. As long as it's working that's all I care about.

One question that still hangs out there for me is where is the costs? How does spam cost us millions? I'm not trying to be argumentative, but honestly asking what I feel is a legitimate question.

Thursday, October 17, 2002

SPEWS, Blacklists and Vigilantes

I wasn't going to post about this, but I've changed my mind. It's really got me worked up. A non-centralized entity called SPEWS ( has created a list of spammers. These lists can be used my email admins all over the world. If an ISP or company employs this list then you're e-mail will be bounced back to you with a note to go here (

Here you find out that you're email is blocked and will remain so until your ISP (or your ISPs ISP) stamps out spammers on their systems. You are basically told your options are:

  1. Live with it, there is nothing you can do.
  2. Call your ISP and tell them to stop supporting spammers.
  3. Get a new ISP.

I don't know about you but to me those options stink!

Why am I making a fuss over this? Because my companies email server is being blocked. We have never sent spam and never will. We sell mid-range software that costs thousands of dollars. Spamming isn't going to get us customers. We don't usually even bother with companies that have less than 50 employees, so why would we want to send your grandma an email?

However someone in an IP block next to ours was spamming. Think of an IP block as a section of town. Our section of town has three streets;, and Each street can have 254 houses on it. My companies house is on street 2, house 130. The spammers house was on street 1, house 38. Our neighborhood association (ISP) is Verio, a big host and ISP.

The watchdog group SPEWS noticed that house 1.38 was sending out lots and lots of spam. They contacted Verio and the residents at 1.38. The residents replied:
“i dont care about being blocked. nor will i try to get off the block list. i just think its funny how upset people get from getting mail. i told the person who sent the mail out that there were certain rules they had to follow such as a link for the recipient to remove themselves from the mailing and a return email address. they followed the rules. but in any event people are taking this Spam mail wayyyyy tooo serious, there is a delete button on your keyboard. its the same as watching t.v., when a commercial comes on use your remote if you do not want to watch it. are you going to black list the t.v. station?? LOL.. or when you get junk mail from usps, you do have the option of putting it in the trash can. good luck with your anti spamming efforts :)”

I won't speak for Verio but apparently they didn't feel the need to drop 1.38 as a customer.

So SPEWS chose to block the WHOLE neighborhood. 'Your neighborhood sucks. Get a new one or complain until the spammers move out.'

Do you see the problem yet?

SPEWS makes this list. Some hosts choose to use this list to block spam and unfortunately innocent companies as well. But who now has to do all the work? Oh the list maintainers have to constantly add more and more bad guys to their list (until the whole Internet is blacklisted) but all they have to do is wait until the spam comes in, run a few network checks and add them to the list.

The innocent by-standards on the other hand have to figure out how to get around the problem, spending valuable time and resources investigating the problem and searching out a solution with their ISP. Now if they choose to go to another ISP they are then burdened with the task of moving all their services to a new host and HOPE they don't get blocked again with this ISP. The time spent researching ISPs, prices, relocating data and servers could potentially sky-rocket for larger companies and be a dangerous load on resources for a smaller company.

Now assuming that all that goes well, what about legitimate communications lost and the possibility of lost sales (non-spam email communications)? I've seen it suggested that you bill your old “spam friendly” ISP for all these costs. Yea, that's gonna happen.

On the flip-side the argument is that all this spam is eating up tons and tons of bandwidth. And there are potential liability issues for companies when their employees are receiving XXX porn spam, with embedded images, so the recipient gets to see the full glory of the spammers wares, even when web filtering software, like NetNanny is being used.

I don't disagree with those arguments. However lets look at a couple interesting things. The big ISPs that are accused of allowing all this spam are also the major providers of Internet access and hosting, companies like; XO Communications, Verio, and Uunet. So blocking these guys is like blocking out entire cities. SPEWS does seem to at least pay attention a little bit and doesn't stop ALL traffic from Verio or XO, but smaller 'neighborhoods'. But if you have the misfortune of moving in next door to one of those spammers, you're S.O.L.

Also, if these big ISPs are providing access to so many. Having HUGE data pipes through out the world, don't you think they'd be the first ones cracking down on bandwidth abuse? But lets say that the spammer is sending out a 250K message. That's a pretty reasonable guess based on the spam I see. Let's just say they send out 2000 messages a day. While this is a small amount for a serious spammer, some other companies that are being listed as spammers probably get listed for less. That's 50 MB's per day. I have users on my network at work who surf the net more than that. The bandwidth usage is insignificant by the ISPs point of view.

Now from a customers point of view, perhaps a email admin using SPEWS, the inflow of spam is too high. Perhaps they pay for their Internet access by megabyte, though I don't think that happens as much these days in the business world. Perhaps their company has strict content rules and regulations and they want to make sure no porn spam makes it through.

However there are a LOT of very good applications designed to filter spam at the server and at the desktop. Larger companies would obviously do the filtering at the server. Yes it uses server resources. Yes they can fail and block legitimate email. Yes they can fail and let spam in. But this scenario allows for the recipient and the bounced email sender to communicate and say, 'hey, what's the deal?' (Which is what I'll be doing.) It also allows the recipient to perhaps see that the email may in fact be legitimate. That's why personal spam filters don't just delete spam. They move it so you can make sure nothing legitimate is lost.

SPEWS doesn't suggest contacting the ISP who blocked you but tells you instead to yell at your ISP. The list and the people who use it don't care if your email is lost. All they care about is stopping spam at all costs, even if that means innocent companies and individuals have to suffer for it.

These are the old west vigilantes who made their own “laws” and damned anyone who chose to disagree with them. I expect to be flamed for speaking out against SPEWS, but that's fine. They go to far. They are no better than the spammers themselves. They both hide in the shroud of Internet anonymity.

To respond to some of the questions that were posed to me regarding this issue:

You say you are angry and frustrated at not being able to contact SPEWS. If you COULD contact them, what would you say? What difference could it
possibly make? SPEWS will not de-list you if you ask, plead, pay, or threaten.

My problem is the fact that even if I COULD talk directly to the individuals behind SPEWS is that they will not 'white list' legitimate companies. They spend plenty of time researching and tracking down spammers, certainly they have the skill and insight to go look at our company's website and see that we have nothing to do with the spamming that was going on around us. They are holding innocent companies accountable for 'crimes' they didn't commit. That's not right. And no I will not accept that they are holding the ISP accountable. The ISP isn't suffering, its customers are. Because an anonymous organization states that they are doing wrong.

How dare you come here and say SPEWS is irresponsible while you give your money to a provider that has allowed this crap to go on for well over a year? You should be ashamed of yourself for using the title Sys Admin and not knowing how screwed up your ISP really is.

Hey I never said Verio wasn't responsible for it's spam issues. However those issues did not effect our company until SPEWS “black listed” 3 class C subnets. So pardon me if I see the problem being with SPEWS. As for shame in my title, well I never said I was a Sys Admin. I'm a Systems Engineer. I make things work. I have to work within certain financial limits. For the little we pay per year for what has been very good service from Verio I have little incentive to try to explain to the President of our company that we should change web/email hosts because an anti-spam vigilante group says that it's the “right” thing to do. And I have many other more important things to do within my company rather than sit and chase down spammers all day long. I wish I was afforded that luxury.

I wrote: “If they refuse (to white list our IP address) we can talk to the prospective customer and explain why their ISP will not let them communicate with us."

They responded: “I hope you'll also explain to the prospective customer that it's your supplier that's at fault.”

Actually I won't. I'll tell you why. Our prospect will not care why outside of the fact their ISP is preventing it. These are payroll and human resources people. They aren't tech savvy. Some perhaps are, but in general they aren't. Now trying to explain IP blocks and blacklists and SPEWS and the whole situation would take time out of both of our busy schedules and would not change a single thing. I will not spread your propaganda.

Well until I hear more, that's the story. This was something I was completely in the dark about. I bet most of my blog readers were too.

Tuesday, October 15, 2002

Updated Link

Actually before I get to the updated link, i should point out that I added a link to Dr. Michio Kaku's website on the left. He has a number of articles on theoretical physics and science as a whole, that are a bit easier to understand than mine. LOL He's really brought heavy physics down for the lay-person. You don't have to have an advanced degree in Mathmatics (I dont! I got a C- in Calc!) to understand it. Go check him out, he's quickly becoming the new Carl Sagen.

Now for the big prize. The Supreme Bitch has a new website. The new design is inspired and quite fitting. Here premier posting on Britney Spears' little sister was just awesome. I'm not a betting man, but her odds may be worth keeping an eye on. Anyway... just go check it out.

Be Warned - This woman does not pull any punches. Her sarcasim is laced with hydrochloric acid and arsnic. I think that's why I read. It's like watching a nuclear weapon go off and seeing the beautiful but deadly mushroom cloud. KABOOM!

Friday, October 11, 2002

Search Phases

Ahh the fun and "interesting" list of search terms. Here are some of the more odd-ball on my list.

  1. hacking car tdi - This one is odd to me. A TDI is a turbo diesel engine developed by Volkswagen. I'm hoping that in this case hacking is used in the "coughing" sense, not as in computer hacking (they DO have computers) or worse, in the cutting sense. I suspect someone just has a car that's not running right, but it certainly caught my eye.
  2. where is jolene blalock apartment - Ok so I talk about her once and all the freaks are on the hunt. This is pretty scary too. Jolene I hope you have a good security system! I understand she is single though. However, if you just show up at the door, I really don't think she's gonna be impressed. I'm sorry but this search phrase screams STALKER!
  3. picture of a carots & garlic and art and design - Wonder what is the deal with the vegitable art? A picture of a carrot I can kinda understand, but how does garlic fit into art & design? Heh! Like I have room to question what goes on in the mind of artists?
  4. monsters movie mpeg porn - You want Henti moron, go away. Either that or this person wants to see Godzilla and King Kong getting it on.
  5. model sexy dwarf gallery - I'm not gonna go full bore on this one, because this could be totally legit. Hey if I was a dwarf I might want to see pretty looking lady dwarves too. Still I question how in the world this phrase pointed them to my site. *scratching head*
  6. Two hits on jolene blalock naked - Run Jolene! Run!! The freaks are after you!
  7. screen destroyer - I have a picture with this title, but I'm a bit conserned why so many people are interested in screen destroyers. Are they bored with screen savers? Can someone fill me in here? Am I out of the loop? Oh and I have 12 hits with this phrase thus far.

That's all the good ones I thought were worth sharing. Go though my list yourself and see what people have used to find me. It's kinda neat. I've found I get a lot more hits than I realized from the search engines.

Wednesday, October 09, 2002

Parallel and multiple universes

In response to my posting about parallel universes, here are a couple of very valid points of view and my responses.

My office roomie, Michael said, “If you take probability into account, 124 or billions of universes is possible. You can use mathematical probability to find out if other universes exist, but probability is still the art of assumption by deduction.”

I agree with this assessment. Perhaps there is a universe that has physics that only allows for 124 parallel universes? Oh yes, there is nothing from saying these other universes can or cannot have totally different physical properties. This is also a reason why we may not want to jump universes even if we could. It would be a rather short trip if you popped into a universe were physical energies were backwards from our own, an anti-matter universe. Or what if you jumped into one that only had 3 dimensions; two dimensions of space and one of time. Quantum theory allows pretty much for anything to happen, so who's to say it cannot. We are now beginning to see that our own universe has more than the four dimensions we currently know (X, Y, Z, time). One theory states there are 10! But the other 6 are “curled up” so small we cannot detect them. Sounds like science fiction I know, but if you read up on a little theoretical physics, suddenly you see that these guys are totally serious about this and have some very compelling evidence.

Ok back to the 124 parallel universes. Maybe in The One the 124 didn't represent all the accessible universes, but the ones that were similar enough to travel between. Or perhaps the ones where humanity evolved. Perhaps in the others the human race never existed or did not exist in a way in which we would recognize them as human. But I am digressing into debating the science fiction of the movie.

Melly brought up Hermann Minkowski, a Russian born German mathematician and physicist who taught in various Universities in Germany. He even taught Einstein! Minkowski was the first to come up with space-time. Stating that you cannot truly describe something without it's three spacial dimensions and time. Melly's contribution was Minkowski's “world-line”. According to the world-line theory everything has it own line through space and time, from the past into the future. The world-line is set, cannot be changed. Thus the time line could not branch.

This bothered me for a bit. This means no matter what happens, that was our destiny. We cannot change our world-line. But my tree still can exist. Rather than a solid line that splits and splits infinitely, it's a rope. This rope has an infinite number of stands. As time progresses further the rope unravels more and more and more. When I decide not to have that bagel for breakfast, that was my predetermined destiny, just as my parallel universes' selfs' destiny is to eat the bagel.

This has some interesting implications for time travel. I can travel back in time on my world-line but I cannot change anything. Or if I do, I was meant to do so. In either case, I cannot go back to change the results of an event. The way the future plays out will not change.
If we jumped to a different world-line in a different dimension, we couldn't change it, but our presence would be vital to that time line. So if we show up with a time machine and change the world, it'll be only in the time line because it was meant to happen. Don't forget, we have an infinite number of parallel universes so we can screw up the multiverse. For all we know an alien race some where has already gone through this, hopping from one parallel universe to the next spreading its technology and knowledge and basically mucking things up. How would we know? In our world-line we are not aware of this. It hasn't effected us, as far as we know.

The world line is interesting when you consider that we can no travel forward in time now. Since the future is already determined we could go see what we will become. If you go forward and read about your past and it says you never made it back, looks like you're stuck. Remember, you can't change the past.

Time travel is still in the realm of sci-fi, but it sure is fun to speculate on. I believe we will discover time-travel is possible, but it may not be possible in our universe. It may not be practical either. If you need a black-hole to go back for anthropological reasons I don't think many people will. It's just not that important. We don't NEED to travel through time. If anything we will want to control time so that we may be able to travel across the galaxy or to other galaxies quickly. But then we are breaking the physical laws that we know now. Oh how interesting.

Sunday, October 06, 2002

Movie Reviews

Saturday night I watched a couple good movies; The One & The Time Machine. To follow are my reviews and thoughts about the scientific and philosophical premises in the movies.

THE ONE (2001), cast: Jet Li, Carla Gugino, Jason Statham, Delroy Lindo

“Yu Law is a fugitive capable of traveling among the various universes that comprise the Multiverse. He has discovered that if he kills his counterpart in one universe, his victim's life energy is distributed among the surviving "Laws" in their respective realities. Craving more power, Yu seeks to kill all of his counterparts and become "The One." Yu is pursued by two Multiverse Agents (Delroy Lindo and Jason Statham), who want to stop him before he kills his final victim - Gabriel Law, a young, highly-professional police officer living in LA.

There's just one little problem - no one knows what will happen when it gets down to "The One." Some believe it could destroy the Multiverse itself!”

The Plus Side – Some great kick-butt action scenes. Jet Li is an amazing martial artist. Some of his moves are enhanced due to his absorption of his alternate selfs energies (movie magic) but it doesn't take away from their impressiveness.

The final fight scene where Li confronts himself is great. At first you are scrutinizing the film, trying to look for a mistake, but you quickly get caught up in the action and forget that Jet Li isn't really fighting himself. That is where special effects really shine. If you can get the audience to suspend reality, you've won. Again Li's fighting skill shines here. He even gives us a sampling of his fighting knowledge by switching techniques. He may not be best in the world, but anyone who can do even half of what he can...hell a quarter of it, has my respect.

The supporting cast was decent with a few familiar faces. Nothing Oscar worthy, but certainly plenty adequate. I didn't expect to see Oscar winners in here.

The Negative Side – The story is a bit hooky. As soon as they started talking about “The One” I couldn't help but think of the Highlander franchise. Not so much because of story similarity, but because of those two simple words, “The One”. It works, just not much ring to it. Call me picky.

The worm holes and multiverse bit of the story was really messed up. It's obvious the script writer didn't consult a physicist or if so the advice was ignored or not believed. I'll go more into this below. Suffice to say the sci-fi part disappointed me.

Jet Li's evil character was supposed to be super-human to a point, but they pushed it too far. Since the good and bad ones were the last two, their energies should have been identical, but they weren't. The evil one could do more things. Some too far fetched. Dodging some bullets was acceptable. Avoiding shotgun blasts and machine gun fire was something all together different.

The Kids? - The movie is rated PG-13 and I think thats a safe rating. There is a little blood and some over the top violence. The final scene where the two Li's are fighting is no worse than the fighting you'd see on an episode of Dragon Ball Z. However some of the earlier scenes are a big rougher. The evil one has little remorse and is quite vicious. Some of the spectacular attacks were really something to behold, but they were also a bit “hardcore.” Lets just say that you sit there thinking, damn, that dude isn't getting back up. I guess we have a certain amount of detachment when someone in the movies is killed by a bullet. But when a dude is smashed between two motorcycles like someone might smash a fly between his hands, that makes you go, “Oooo! Damn!” Kick the kids out of the room until the final match between good and evil. At that point they are safe. The action then becomes so quick and impossible that even if the kids wanted to, they couldn't imitate it!

Alright, so back to the “science” of this movie. To put it simply, it's not even science fiction, it's just fantasy.

They can predict worm holes, forecast them. They have devices as small as a watch that can open them. The terrible power required to open a worm hole could not come from a watch! Hell the power would rip this planet apart. Being a theoretical science the scientific knowledge that we do have is all mathematical. Consider the movie Contact, where they had an enormous gyroscopic device to produce the energies necessary to open a tear in the fabric of space-time. I'm sure someone could come up with an excuse for how the watches could produce that much power, but I promise you the writer had not considered that.

This brings me to a bigger flaw. There were a total of 124 universes in the multiverse. Where did they come up with that number? Let us consider the concept of parallel universes. There are two variations on this theme. One, our universe is one of an infinite number of universes that all sprang forth from the big bang. Ours is but a single bubble in a bath full of them. None stable, but some more so than others. Some pop, collapsing, making room for others to grow. Others aggressively incorporating smaller weaker ones.

This is the theory this movie would HAVE to take. Our universe or the primary 'Alpha' universe in the movie would have 124 'bubbles' touching it. But the fact remains that the others could have 123 more touching it. Or more. Or less. Regardless, there is still an infinite number. I cannot begin to explain the math, but basically the Omniverse, God if you will, is searching for the ultimate universe. The one that is stable and strong. But when you are looking for one in an infinity, the search will take forever. -grin-

The second theory is a bit easier to grasp. Consider for every choice there is a new branch a new universe created. Perhaps another galaxy millions of years ago came close enough to our own for its gravity to affect the interstellar dust in our galaxy. Perhaps it brought enough dust together for our solar system to start. What if that galaxy had been a little bit off? Our solar system would have never been created. There is a split. In one universe it did, in another it didn't. And there are an infinite number of variations. Think about the choices you make in a day. They seem mundane, but they effect you more than you realize. Do you eat the bagel in the morning or not? If you do, you won't be really hungry and can make it until noon and go to lunch then. If you don't eat it you'll be hungrier and want to leave at 11:30. At noon a semi-truck runs a red light and smashes your car, sending you to the hospital, changing the course of your life. Leaving at 11:30 you get your food and drive back to see the clean up of the accident. Those are only two variations of that one choice. Each variation, each choice, creates a new universe, branch of existence. This has huge implications surrounding time travel (to be discussed in my next movie review).

So if there is an infinite number of universes there can never be just one. Their premise is that if a parallel you dies the energy is distributed between the rest. No problems so far. In an infinite parallel universe omniverse, the energy is distributed to an infinite number of you's, thus the difference is negligible. In the 124 universe multiverse the differences are highly noticeable. The problem is, of course the number of universes and also that everyday people, even those not knowing the scheme of things, like those in this movie, would notice an increase in strength, speed and intelligence when one of their counterparts dies in an accident or other means. There is the possibility that a “one” could happen purely by accident. One of the worries was that the multiverse would come to an end if this happened. But simple probability would show this is actually more likely than not. Consider there are roughly 5 billion people on this planet, 124 universes. I'm sure some mathematician could come up with the figure. I'm not one.

The Bottom Line - A good action flick regardless. Worth seeing for the over the top fighting.

THE TIME MACHINE (2002), cast Guy Pearce, Samantha Mumba, Jeremy Irons, Orlando Jones, Mark Addy, Sienna Guillory

Another incarnation of the classic H.G. Wells novel. This time directed by Simon Wells, great grandson of the author, better known for directing children's cartoons like; An American Tail – Fievel Goes West, Balto and Prince of Egypt. This however is not a children's cartoon.

The Plus Side – The core values of the original story are still present. The additional aspects lend more realism to the story without taking away from it. Roger Ebert said the wonderment was missing, to paraphrase. Sorry Mr. Ebert, but your age is showing. The original novel is over a hundred years old, roughly 107 years old. A LOT has happened in the way of science in that time. Much of the wonderment that would have existed when that book was released has been diminished by the realities of the world. But more on that in a bit.

Samantha Mumba, a pop music star from the UK, makes a beautiful entrance into the movie world. I hate to be crude, but her natural beauty and sex appeal kept my attention. Her dress was not unsuitable for children, yet pleasing never the less.

The special effects and scenery were very well done. If you have ever played the game Riven, sequel to Myst, then you'll be able to guess what the land is like. Dwellings hanging off cliffs, wonderful use of bamboo and other similar items. It was a pleasant environment.

The Negative Side - The cast is primarily made up of new comers. Jeremy Irons is always a great addition, but his part is small and rather dull. His character wasn't as lame as the one he played in Dungeons and Dragons, but he lacked the spark of evil that was needed for his role.

The story derivate greatly from what people are familiar with. I've seen the other movies and read the book, though admittedly it's been awhile since I've done either. Because of that fact I will reserve judgment on that aspect. However there were some obvious additions. The moon blowing into pieces because of a lunar excavation accident is one, though well constructed. The library of tomorrow, played by Orlando Jones, was something that added continuity and a little humor, but wasn't needed. But I suspect it was added to give some realism to our near future, 2037 was the date I believe.

The Kids? - Well yes and no. This movie is rated PG-13 as well. Most of the movie is fine, but there are a few scenes that most parents wouldn't want their kids to see. The Morlocks are pretty intense and would very easily scare small children, especially if you have a nice loud surround sound audio system. There is also a scene where we discover just what the Morlocks do with the Eloi. You don't see it exactly, but there is enough evidence to make it really clear and a little grisly. It won't both most adults or teens, but children may be disturbed by it. In this sense it's really a shame. This is a classic story that should be required reading for any child, teen or adult. A side note, there is no sexual content. Samantha has a skimpy chain-mail-like shirt on but her hair is arranged strategically so that it is titillating but not overly revealing. This should not stop parents from watching this movie with their kids, the violence and scare-factor should.

Now for the fun stuff...
Earlier in my review of The One I mentioned how an infinite number of universes are created by every variation of a choice. This is troublesome for time travel.

Think of a tree. This is your life. The factors leading to your conception are branches off other branches. Your life represents yet another. In this movie Alexander, the “hero” tries to travel back in time to save his love from death. Ok so he made, I believe, three years of choices. Many variations of his existence had branched off from that point. But he goes back to save his love finally. He returns before that branch divides infinitely. Is he the only one of an infinite number of future possibilities to create a successful time machine and journey back? If he is, what if he changes the course of his and his finances' lives and his future never exists. If she never dies, he has no reason to develop a time machine, thus he wouldn't be there to make sure she doesn't die. Oops, a paradox. Ah but wait. He didn't save her in his past, but a parallel past. His original time line still took its course with its infinite variations within itself. Not only did he go back in time, he traveled to a different parallel dimension. There is no way he could have returned to his exact time line either. Going back in time is seemingly possible. Going forward may not.

By changing the past, he placed himself on a different branch of time, a different parallel universe. To return where he originated, he would have to go back to where he made his change and then find the correct route back to his place in the “tree”. However this would be fruitless as his mission would have still failed. His love would still be dead and nothing would have changed. All he did was waste precious moments of his own life.

If he did not choose this path how could he move forward? The choices had not been made yet. There are an infinite number of possibilities yet unexplored. How could he move forward to a time that was not yet written? Certainly the future he had lived had existed and still did exist in its own universe, but this new one that he was a part of. The one he created by saving his love had not gotten that far yet.

It's mind boggling to think about. Moving through time is likely best left to the way it works now. We live it. We are slowly trudging to the future on our own two feet.

They had this guy going over 800,000 years into the future. Dinosaurs lived about 155 million years, and humans have been around roughly 100,000 years so far. That means the human race is nearly a million years old at the end of this movie. Lets be honest people, do we really expect to survive that long? How many times in the past century did we come inches from destroying ourselves? Ok so the Cold War is over, but the Pandora's box that is nuclear science is open. No way to close it now. We are already opening the next Pandora's box with genetic and biotech engineering. The human race was forced to start over in this movie, but are we really as hardy as we think we are. Only time will tell.

One of the main themes Wells wanted to get across in his novel was the dangers of a caste system. That thankfully was still included in this movie. The Eloi were food, intelligent but technologically lacking. The Morlocks were workers, hardy but dumb. They were controlled by the Uber-Morlocks with mental telepathy. It's only three-tiered, but the danger is still clear. If less educated laborers are not allowed to grow, they soon become more and more slaves. The middle class, intelligent but kept down by the higher levels are stuck in perpetual limbo fed by atrophy and lies only to be the “food” of the lower classes when they are unhappy with the system. The highest cast gives the lower classes a middle class scape goat while they live safe and sound growing more powerful on the backs of those below them.

Do you see the relevance now? Better be a very smart Eloi or you're gonna get eaten! Only when the apathy fades and the lies are not believed will the Uber-Morlocks be defeated. Morlocks, if you don't like where you are, don't blame the Eloi, go for the real enemy.

The Bottom Line – This movie can be intense and fun to watch. It's a slow start but builds momentum. Watch it as if you have never read H. G. Wells or seen any of the prior movies and you'll enjoy it a lot more.

Tuesday, October 01, 2002

Where are the comments?

I'm a bit disappointed. I know my reader count isn't high, but I hardly got any comments on my silly Star Trek thing. I guess those closet Trekers don't wanna give themselves up. Oh well, whatever. The MPEG movie snippet has been downloaded 12 times though, so SOMEONE is enjoying it. Of course there were two hits on the search engine phrase, "jolene blalock naked". Actually I'm not even shocked about that. I figured there would be tons of sites with that frame grab up on the net the next morning after it aired, but apparently I'm the only perv. LOL Yea right!

Speaking of search terms, I got one that got my attention; "how to tell your parents you have lost faith". That's a tough one. I wish I could help this kid. Faith/Religion wasn't a big thing in my family so when I lost or gained it and lost it again, it wasn't really an issue. But I'm guessing this kid (hell might be an adult for all i know) has some very orthidox parents, regardless of the faith. That can be difficult. I just hope that his/her parents are open enough to discuss this. I mean everyone goes through a phase where they question their faith. It's part of growing up. You stretch your wings and open your eyes and mind to the world. Apparently this person found that they couldn't hold strong to the faith and teachings of his/her parents religion.

Where this person is in the world and which religion factors in heavily as well. Some areas your faith is law and you could be killed for believing anything else, though I certainly hope that is not the case here! I also hope that this is not a situation where the parents would disown their child because of their dogma.

I'm hoping, keeping my fingers crossed, that this is just a case where this person simply cannot blindly follow what his/her parents do and is nervous about how to approch the subject. I'd also guess that the family doesn't have open discussions, which is really too bad. I mean if a kid can't talk to his/her parents who can they??

My advice to to feel out what the parents beliefs are. How strong are they. Will it even matter if the child doesn't believe the same. I think the more important question is what caused the loss of faith to start with. I can tell you this, don't expect to drop a bomb on parents like this and just walk away without explaining why. Not gonna happen.

What is it like to date online?

I don't get asked this question and I wish I was. Rather than ask this, people assume that it's not real. Is it even dating at all? Guess that depends on your idea of what a date is.

For Melly and I online dating is a necessity. For reasons I will not get into (though she may wish to do so on her blog), we cannot be together right now, not physically anyway. However when our schedules match up we have dates. Sometimes every evening for a week. Other times weekends, during the day. Sometimes it's just a couple hours here and there, but we value our time together.

Do we talk all the time? Yes most of the time that is what we do. Sometimes it serious, sometimes its goofie and fun. We talk about ourselves, our dreams. We argue and fight. We laugh and joke. We flirt and blush. Some nights we talk about theology and mythology. Other nights we may barely talk at all.

It's not all typing IM's and email. We often voice-chat, using the Internet and microphones to talk and other times we call each other on the phone and run up our long distance bills. Just depends on the mood and situations.

I'm asked sometimes how I can love someone I've never met. Some have even said flat out that you can't. But I ask, how does anyone know they are in love? Those who have felt it know that it's just something you know. You can't explain it.

Is it hard having an online relationship? You bet it is! But I know Melly is my soul-mate, no matter what anyone else says. Because of that I am willing to be patient. I've been patient for over three year, nearing four, if I've made it this long I can make it until the end. The end of our online relationship and the beginning of the rest of our lives together.

There have been times when my patients wore very thin. Not with her, but the situation. I lived with my ex-gf for 2 ½ years. You get used to certain feelings, physically and emotionally. Melly has filled my emotional needs and has expanded and matured them. But the physical aspects have to wait. I can wait, but I'm a man and those “needs” get pretty strong sometimes. But then I look and think about what I'd be giving up. Give up the woman of my life, the woman who has made me a whole man, just for a quick screw? No I won't do that. And I'm not the type to go do it behind her back. God my guilt would kill me. Some guys who read this might consider me a wuss or worse, but I don't have time for that. I know who I want in my arms and if I can't have her, then I'll just have to settle for nothing. Reminds me of a Nirvana lyric, “I'm so horny, but that's ok my will is good.”

We have a lot of fun together online too. We go shopping together, visit websites on various topics, look at art and one of our favorite things, playing online games together. I don't mean Hearts or Yahtzee, though we used to do that too. I'm talking more about Unreal Tournament, Quake 3, Diablo 2 and recently Never Winter Nights.

Unreal and Quake are first person shooters, or run around and kill people games. We usually play on the same team and beat up the computer “bots” (robots). Occasionally though I'll get in trouble with Melly and she'll choose to play against me. I don't care much for playing like this because even though these are digital characters, I don't like attacking her. I usually stand there like a sitting duck. If we are just playing for fun and no one is mad we might play against each other just for the heck of it, but again I don't like playing like this for too long. I'm better than her, for better or worse and it makes things a bit lopsided. I don't want her mad at me for beating her up!

Diablo 2 and Never Winter Nights are role playing games where we have our own little characters and we work together to beat the crap out of monsters and demons. We played Diablo 2 together for at least a year and a half! We have beaten it a couple times now, so we switched to a newer game, Never Winter Nights (NWN). It's similar, but not quite the same. Frankly it's not as much fun, but it's still fun to play and work together. That's what is important. That is why we picked the game to start with. If I remember correctly we both bought it at the same time, but we didn't coordinate the purchase. It was just coincidence, FATE stepping in again for us. Pretty cool.

What is really funny is that we probably won't stop playing games together even when we are together. We are both computer geeks and we are not outwardly social.

That is why I think I've been able to be as patient with things as I have been. I'm not a very social person. I don't mind parties and going out, but it's not “me” so I don't do it often. I prefer smaller intimate groups. I'm the type who prefers a small number of close friends, rather than a bunch of shallow ones. I know I know, there are gray areas.

Anyway, i don't mind staying in and playing all day or night on the computer with Melly. If I did then things probably wouldn't be where they are between us. But then again I wouldn't be the same person I am either.

My Dad still thinks I need to be more social, but why I ask? It's not like I'm unhappy here at home. Sure there are days I'm bored and moapy. It's not because I don't have friends, it's because I can't be with Melly doing stuff. It's hard to get excited about doing something when you want to do that with the love of your life and she can't be there. But I'm happy with my social life. I kinda prefer it mellow like it is. Hell it's a lot cheaper this way! LOL

So there, in a nutshell, is Melly and I's dating. I am happy. She is happy. We DO love each other and we DO make things work. Patients and hard work do pay off. We are going to live happily ever after and I can't wait to thumb my nose at the neigh sayers.

Here is a picture from Never Winter Nights when Melly and I played this past weekend. She is the tall Spartin looking woman. I'm the little dwarf. (I'm 6 foot tall in real life)

New Domain Name

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