Entries for August, 2005

I believe I'm a pretty moral person. I have strong convictions and beliefs, and I try to stick to them. This is, of course, with the Ophrah-ization of my generation ("All beliefs should be treated with respect regardless of your own beliefs, and one should never try to forcibly push your belief systems onto others") has led me to largely lead a life quite different from my peers, where I've made conscientious life decisions. Oftentimes I'm confused over my own belief system in regards to Christianity; I think I let down people in both worlds - atheists who believe any religious faith is bad, and Christians who think my generally nonchalant attitude towards Christianity means I'm the worst type of sinner.

I was raised in a Presbyterian church until I went to college - in high school I was that kid who took religion a bit too seriously. Being raised in the church made looking at life so easy - things were evil and things were good. You were either going to heaven or going to hell. This made decisions in high school easy - drugs are bad, underage drinking is bad, not studying for school is bad (just kidding!).

There is an obvious disconnect from reality with this mindset - which is largely the problem with the fundamentalist Christians in America today. It's not that individual Christians are bad - personally I feel very comfortable with the Christians in my life and with their viewpoints - but when you aggregate them into a group, there's a tendency within that group for the moderates to be just apathetic enough so all you end up hearing is mumbo-jumbo from the fundamentalist extreme Christians about "intelligent design" and all sorts of ridiculousness.

Lately I've really started to believe in the impossibility of finding the "right" in any action. I don't want to delve too deeply into the philosophical and semantical problems with the concept of "right" (What exactly is the end result we're trying to achieve with a "right" plan of action given the vast parameters for success?), but I have a few examples that have largely been bothering me.

Look at poverty. Everybody in the world agrees poverty is a Bad Thing. Everybody agrees something must be done about it. So, of course, we say to ourselves, "Let's give Somalia a whole bunch of food! That'll stop the poverty and starving!" But what happens when you ship a whole bunch of food to a starving African country? The market price for food drops to zero, and the agricultural "industry" in Somalia gets destroyed. So one one hand, we give the Somalis some food that sustains and stops the death rate from hunger ... but in the medium to long-term, we've destroyed the one hope for the Somalis to become self-sustaining. That's not to say that aid doesn't help - if the Somalis in my previous example had a solid educational base where allowing them to skip the agrarian cycle for developed nations (farming -> industrialiation -> manufacturing -> services is generally the path that most developed countries followed), this would be a win-win in the short and long term. So we clearly have a situation here with Africa where the "right" thing to do seems to give them food, but this breeds a dependency and destroys the one industry an uneducated, underdeveloped country has a chance at succeeding at.

What about North Korea? I used to be pretty black-and-white with this issue as well. Kim Jong-Il and his regime is largely one which oppresses human rights, murders dissidents (and their family members), and generally makes life difficult for its neighbors. But who are we, as Westerners, to say that the lifestyle and ideology they choose is wrong? Reading some of the NK state propaganda, it seems that they largely have no interest in living a manufactured world where our lives are defined by the money we make and the things we buy. How many times have I read posts and heard people gripe about the vicious cycle of financial dependency that a capitalist system breeds? What if there are some North Koreans who value living in an underdeveloped nation that maintains a pristine environment and maintains that "true" Korean lifestyle without watering it down with Americanization?

Don't confuse what I'm saying by thinking I support the NK regime. My point simply is this - if we truly live in a Lockean society where every person is allowed to hold their own beliefs and the only rights of government are to protect the lives of its citizens and protect the right to property, is it really necessary to impose onto a group of people the idea that pure capitalism is the best way to live? What if they are willing to accept a more inefficient way of living which protects the environment or some other tangential issue that isn't directly addressed by the free markets?

Anyways, going back to the main point I wanted to address - the pervasiveness of Christian lifestyle in our political system today. I still very much consider myself a Christian, but my main reason for leaving the church was that the tolerance the church preaches was not being followed. Although many Christians I know are incredibly open-minded, I felt that going to church was a form of indoctrination that was making me less receptive towards other types of people. I also felt very uncomfortable with the idea that Christians should always try to preach the word of God to non-believers; if someone is interested in learning, I'll explain what little I know of the Christian faith, but never would I actively try to "convert" any one of my friends to that lifestyle for the same reasons I would never push a business issue onto my friends.

As an aside, I've always found people with strong convictions to be the most fascinating people. I mostly run into people who have opposing viewpoints as I do, but as long as their convictions are well-thought out, I've always had a deep respect for people like that. I'm always searching for people who live a completely different lifestyle with a different set of moral values that I do, which is partially why I enjoy consuming online journals so much :)

Going back to this whole evolution/creationism/intelligent design issue, I'm amused by the way the Christians are trying to polarize this into a 'right/wrong' issue. They claim that there are "two sides" to the story, and this I largely agree with. Throughout history, academic truth has largely been influenced by the lens of society. When the Pope was the ultimate authority, everything was viewed through a religious lens, and thus people like Galileo and Darwin were largely ignored. With the advent of the scientific age, our society largely ignores theology as a legitimate science because it's not "real" enough. The one lesson I learned from chemistry is that science requires a similar leap of faith for experimentations as well. Throughout time, theorems have been largely been accepted as truths until later we find out, "Whoa, that was wrong." Based on scientific evidence, at that time, those theorems were largely viewed as truths (not proofs though). Look at scientific studies today - two studies can find the exact opposite items; I think there's a fundamental force of nature (karma, God, luck, fate, the Force) that science can never measure or prove. That is to say, science is not as much of an absolute truth; if anything, good science and good theology are the same level of truth.

My main issue with Christians is that they are trying to push their version of history into the history books under the guise of "telling both sides of the story." But what about all the other explanations to the beginning of the universe? Are we going to start putting the "other side of the story" for every debatable item to our children? What about conspiracy theories that we never landed on the Moon? What about the arguments for racial purity for the sake of maintaining cultural distinctions among humans? What about the theories that FDR purposely allowed Pearl Harbor to happen to allow the US to be drawn into WW2? These are all valid viewpoints from a wide variety of "facts" that we could spend a lifetime explaining to children in schools. The point is that it's pointless to try to explain everything.

Children should be taught to think critically; what facts they learn are largely irrelevant. Teach them a love for books and an open mind; let them read about whatever theories they want in their spare time, but let's try to keep the schools as science-oriented as possible, since we live in a scientific age. (If I had a blog during the 15th cenutry, I'm sure this long rambling would have ended: "but let's try to keep the schools as church-oriented as possible, since we live in a religious age." C'est la vie.)

Edit: This has some minor bearing towards my post at hand, and I feel it's important enough to mention, but I'm far too lazy to fit it in with my crappy framework of an argument above.

People should always strive to expand their horizons in the way they think and the way they live. They should never fall into a habit of living in the comfort zone for their whole lives - disruption and change in life is great for learning. That said, I've seen semi-serious Christians go to church and fall into the routine of simply going there and accepting what they are told. There's no internalization of the lessons and application in one's life. It simply becomes a game of "I love God, God loves me, I'm so grateful for His grace." The extent of the impact of religion on a person is limited to that person - the only way religion ever seems to impact anybody but that person is when they evangelize. Rarely is there an expansion of ideas or an open-mind ... it's simply "Follow God's rules or your wrong." I can't stand the strict interpretation of the Bible.

I get the impression that whenever Christians do something, it's always to try to convert someone to their cause. There is never a purity to their actions - it's always marred by selfishness. Very rarely have I met Christians who are simply interested in improving the lives of people around them - it's always spreading the word of God along with it.

Posted by roy on August 5, 2005 at 08:44 PM in Personal | 22 Comments
Posted by roy on August 7, 2005 at 08:57 PM in Ramblings | Add a comment

The oddest thing happened today that seems to reflect Hannah's happenings. Midday today, I got a phone call from a buddy (well, it seems that status is really in doubt now). He called to find out my sister's cell phone number.

Let me put this into a simple context to. The "buddy" is a super-senior in college. My sister is a junior in high school.

Let that sink in for a second. I thought, for sure, this was a joke, so I tried to leave myself some outs by not blowing up then and there.

"Huh? My sister? You kidding?" I ask incredulously.

"Yeah man. I just want to take her out and talk to her. It might not even be dinner... probably just ice cream."

I start feeling a bit flush in the face, wondering if I'm getting Punk'd.

"She doesn't have a cell phone." Let me give him some chance to save face.

"Oh. Really?"

"Yeah, she uses my moms."

"Well, can I have your mom's number?"

Obviously my attempts at ending this discussion aren't working too well. So I decide to come out.


"Why, man?"


I'm honestly not sure what exactly was said the next few minutes, but it was more of me dodging the issue, trying to give him some chance at saving face while he tries to press me about the issue.

Finally I say, "Dude, cause I don't feel comfortable with it. You're in college, she's in high school." Again he reiterates his honorable intentions (Oh, I'm sure...) and the fact it'd probably only be "ice cream."

Finally he says, "Alright man. I respect your opinion." and the conversation finally ends.

I felt like I was suckerpunched in the stomach. Actually, the issue didn't bother me immediately afterwards because it was so ludicrous ... but the more I thought about it, the more it bothered me. A lot.

I thought there were generally a few rules that all guys played by:

  • Thou shall not date ex-girlfriends or serious crushes of your friends, unless you have his/her blessings
  • Thou shall not date your friend's sister or your sister's friends

Even ASSUMING his intentions WERE honorable (and let me just say that hanging out with him casts much suspicion on that), isn't there something wrong with older college guys hanging out with high school girls? It's not as if it's a freshman college guy hanging out with a senior in high school. No, this is senior college dating a junior in high school. What's amusing is Jennifer and I were talking about this very issue when we went and saw March of the Penguins (which is delightful!) ...

I remember a situation earlier when a few kids from Chapel Hill High wanted to "meet up" with me. I passed on this, because I just didn't feel it was "proper" for me to meet a group of high school girls... over Tabulas.

I know i'm pretty conservative on a lot of issues, and I try to be open-minded towards these things ... but really. I think this is just pushing the line. I mean, obviously the perspective changes once my sister goes off to college and she's free to do what she wants, but until then, I'm not letting any college guys go out on dates with her. And to think, a buddy thought he'd ask me even boggles my mind. I don't worry too much about my sister going off to college - she can handle herself fine. She can handle herself fine now. It's just the sheer audacity of the request that is just irking me right now...

I'm beginning to see how some guys can act like jackasses. Sorry, ladies. Is it just me, or is there something fundamentally wrong here?

Posted by roy on August 7, 2005 at 11:45 PM in Personal | 19 Comments

Are you feeling down? Cause if you are, I just want you to know:


|SEXY TRUCK | '|""";.., ___.
|_..._...______===|= _|__|..., ] |
"(@ )'(@ )""""*|(@ )(@ )*****(@


... and my string of writing semi-relevant serious entries ends.

Posted by roy on August 10, 2005 at 05:33 PM in Foolishness | 12 Comments

As much as I enjoy going out, I finally needed a day off just for myself today. I knew things were bad last night when I actually felt close to detesting the thought of going out - I had stayed out pretty last Tuesday and Thursday night (super high-energy friend is in town!), and I had gone biking for the first time in months Wednesday ... all while running on about 5 hours of sleep and having pretty stressful days at work.

So for the first time in perhaps weeks, I fell asleep before 2am (130 last night!) after watching the Island (enjoyable movie, and Scarlett Johhanson is gorgeous), I woke up at 7am .... stupid body. I hate it when your body adjusts to getting no sleep at all, so you can't even get a full night's sleep. I fell back asleep and woke up at 930 (since Han and I were gonna hit the trails around 1030). However, my car was all screwed up (park release is borked), so I had to drop the car off at the shop ... then went biking with Han.

I came back, showered, and fell asleep, intending only to take a short nap as Nasty Nate is in town. Unfortunately I woke up at 716 PM (odd thing: I woke up, and thought, "Oh crap it's like 715 PM") and so I missed dinner with them. But I feel incredibly rested right now. I'll probably get to doing some Tabulas hacking tonight, because things have been progressing very slowly on that front for a variety of reasons that I'll get into later.

Posted by roy on August 13, 2005 at 06:36 PM in Ramblings | Add a comment

I'm tired of hearing about gripes about high gasoline prices. Here is the state of affairs in the US:

Note: 4 Quarts = 1 Gallon = 3.78 liters, all drink prices courtesy of Netgrocer since I'm too lazy to go to Harris Teeter.

Edit: For the sake of "simplicity," I'm going to be looking at "premium" brands of each type of liquid. Since buying in bulk definitely makes it cheaper, I'm finding prices of items that are roughly in the 33 oz. range.

Water prices per gallon
Evian costs $7.44/gallon (Source)
Milk prices
EdenSoy organic milk costs $7.72/gallon (Source)
Gasoline prices
I saw something like ~$2.60/gallon for premium locally

So water prices are comparable to milk prices, which are nearly three times the price of gasoline per gallon.


. . .

I used to love SongMeanings, but lately it's really started to suck. The site is slow as ass, and either Google cannot index the site worth a crap of the site's just not being very clear with each lyric page because searching Google for lyrics (example: "songmeanings best of you") is not returning the proper queries. It irks me.

To make things worse, I love to read people's interpretations of songs, but half the comments on SongMeanings are stuff like "omg i love this song! _____ (band name) rules!!!" or "man this song totally reflects how i feel about my ex-boyfriend/ex-girlfriend." Where is the smart filtering? (ala /.)

And what the hell is up with pagination? I cannot STAND "auto-smart" filters (ala LiveJournal's comments) or pagination in general. Building these types of sites, I understand that pagination is sometimes necessary for extreme boundary cases with too much data to present... but too many systems build it in by default for some ridiculously low number of items (like 10 items). Give me a break.

Lazyweb, create an open-API lyrics site with wiki-style editing of lyrics with a smart filtering commenting system to get rid of stupid ass comments that isn't slow. And isn't filled with advertising. Please.

Posted by roy on August 14, 2005 at 01:19 AM in Ramblings | 9 Comments

Guess I'll play along with the meme from Pouick.

"List ten songs that you are currently digging... It doesn't matter what genre they are from, whether they have words, or even if they're no good, but they must be songs you're really enjoying right now. Post these instructions, the artists, and the ten songs in your blog. Then tag five other people to see what they're listening to."

  1. The All-American Rejects - The Last Song
  2. Foo Fighters - Best of Me
  3. Stereophonics - Nothing Compares 2 U
  4. Prince - Little Red Corvette
  5. TLC - No Scrubs
  6. Phoenix - If I ever feel better
  7. The Cure-Just Like Heaven
  8. Gorillaz - Feel Good, Inc.
  9. Green Day - Wake Me Up When September Ends
  10. Ben Lee - Catch my disease

I'll tag Bert, Nasty Nate, Yush, Lainie, and Tony.

. . .

Hey Sal, what's up with all these news stories from New Zealand? It seems anytime I see these type of news articles... it's always from New Zealand...

Posted by roy on August 14, 2005 at 12:10 PM in Music | 4 Comments

To me, life is about sharing good times with good people. Wherever I am, whatever I'm doing, as long as I'm surrounded by the right type of people, I'm happy.

When I first got my job, I was ecstatic. Work from home? Don't have to commute? Working on a cool product I really care about? Working with smart people? Expanding my skillset so I can do better work in the future? It was such a good situation, and I was ecstatic to start working for MT.

These facts still hold true, but lately I've felt quite lonely. Sitting at home for eight hours at a time with no real human contact is quite depressing. When I was in Korea, I had the greatest coworkers. Whenever I had a gripe (real or imagined), I could always talk it out with P, one of my coworkers ... and I would always listen to P's gripes. But when I have a gripe with my company, who can I turn to? The people I'm in constant connection are the founders, and I know my gripes are in reality pretty ludicrous and are best ignored.

Last week I had a real break from my normal schedule - although I was really happy for the past few weeks just working at the job, then killing the rest of the day at Barnes by myself working on Tabulas, I really got to craving human contact last week. Maybe that's why I went out pretty much every night and stayed out late.

And although I was exhausted every night, it didn't affect my work output, and I felt good. I didn't feel like my life was so one-dimensional. Of course, other things suffered (Tabulas development), but I felt it was a necessary change ... to break the monotony.

These feelings of loneliness are amplified because my close confidants have all pretty much moved away since graduation. Not to say that my current group of friends aren't sufficient ... but sometimes I want to meet new people and have a good time; hanging with the same 3 or 4 people can get real old, real fast.

So now I understand how great college was. My primary regret in college was not going out and joining more social clubs, not partying more, and not dating more.

Posted by roy on August 15, 2005 at 07:21 PM in Ramblings | 14 Comments

Lately my mom's been slowly working less since I've been able to contribute to the family coffers ... and this has given her some more free time (that she so richly deserves). Although she's always been an avid reader, she hasn't read too many books recently. I'm looking for book recommendations; she primarily enjoys fiction. Understand that horribly complex books my mother probably won't be able to finish (her English isn't that great).

I bought Memoirs of a Geisha, which she is tearing through (I was surprised to see her finished with half the book - she only started reading a few days ago!). So something along those lines would be best.


Posted by roy on August 18, 2005 at 07:23 PM in Ramblings | 14 Comments

Things I never thought I'd be doing at 230am on a Saturday night after watching the 40 Year Old Virgin: installing a kitchen sink faucet.

. . .

All I wanted was some late night preservative-laden ramen after hacking away on Tabulas for a few hours. So I went downstairs, surprised to find my parents huddled over the kitchen sink/faucet at 130 in the morning. They were apparently trying to install a new kitchen faucet (not a sink as I mistakenly posted last night in my sleep-deprived stated) and were getting quite frustrated.

I guess over six years of usage, the kitchen faucet had built up a deposit of minerals in the water inlets on the faucet, so water pressure was spotty. Of course, this also meant that every single nut and bolt that held that kitchen faucet together was rusted as well. (Maybe the original contractors did a shoddy job, because I'm not sure why the thing was so rusted if all the nuts are properly secured)

It was *not* fun to go under the sink and try to get the old sink separate from the sink. Fortunately my dad purchased this special wrench you're supposed to used under the sink... and after about an hour and a half of MANLY GRUNTING AND TOOL USING, the old sink finally came loose. I did a quick job of installing the new kitchen faucet then went to sleep; connecting all the hoses and thingamajigs would be today's task when I woke up.

Luckily, installation was a breeze compared to the removal of the old faucet. So now I feel very manly.

Very, very manly.

. . .

This is the dawning of the age of aquarius...

I will be re-enacting the ending scene of the 40 Year Old Virgin. I will need topless men to help me re-enact this touching scene.

Boy, I bet that last paragraph is really gonna drive a bunch of you to go see this movie now.

. . .

For some reason, there's been a slew of interesting stuff on Tabulas as of late ... Yush has written two (true!) short stories which are very good. Steph has been writing about her recent travelling experiences. Ed has been writing about the greatness of Chrono Trigger.

Woot. People using Tabulas. Woot.

Posted by roy on August 21, 2005 at 12:39 AM in Ramblings | 7 Comments
I'm so susceptible to advertising. I once drove 30+ minutes to have some Taco Bell after seeing a commercial during my junior year of college (in my defense, it was a Saturday afternoon and I had nothing to do!). In any case, I've always been intrigued by Biore's Ultra deep cleansing pore stripes. The commerial, if you haven't seen it, features a girl who talks about clogged pores ... and then they have this great little graphic where the strip pulls out these little black beads from a profile of your pores. Obviously the black things are 'bad' and should be removed if I want to have nice, clean skin. Whenever I watch this commercial, I start getting a bit antsy and unclean (maybe I'm a bit OCD) ...

In any case, I've never been able to buy one of those boxes of Biore because it would utterly undermine my manliness. I just want to try one, damnit!

Well guess what I found in my sister's room today?!?!? That's right!!! THE ULTRA DEEP CLEANSING PORE STRIPS. Now I can try first hand and see how much crap is clogging my nose pores.

This isn't the first time I've gotten obsessive over personal hygiene. After Nasty Nate expounded the joys of Debrox, I had to give it a try. (Debrox is this ear wax removal ear drop.. you drop in like 3 or 4 drops and feel it work it's magic. The cool thing is that "upon impact with earwax, the eardrops start foaming... so you can hear a little crackling in your ear as the mighty forces of Debrox wipe away the evil earwax from your ear!) I was so excited that I went a little overboard and dropped in like 8 drops into each ear... and promptly heard a bunch of fizzing (gross). It was fun though.

So yeah, this strip is getting kinda starchy and hard (just like the packaging said!. I get to take it off in about 10 minutes... oooh I'm so excited).

This could be the saddest post in the history of my journal.

Update: WOW. That stuff really works well! I didn't know there was so much crap clogging the pore of my nose... WOW. I'm halfway tempted to go into my sister's room and get another one just to make sure I've gotten all the little bastards.

P.S. I like girls.

Posted by roy on August 22, 2005 at 08:49 PM in Ramblings | 18 Comments

No more Google AdSense (those ads) on free Tabulas accounts. This whole project is contingent on me managing costs/benefits... and the cost of ads (making every template look like crap, and making the whole site seem very unprofessional) just wasn't worth the benefits (every month the # of impressions per month as well as the value of my check has dropped significantly).

I have major issues with the lack of transparency from Google ads. I don't care if Google takes 80% of each click revenue... just tell me. I just do not like being TOLD that "this is what you made today." I've been highly skeptical of the way Google is tracking my impressions as well... I ran a short statistics analyzer on the whole of Tabulas (only for a few days since it was so intensive), and the numbers didn't even remotely match up. This doesn't mean that Google is necessarily wrong ... I just wish AdSense was a bit more clear on what they were taking. I just hate taking their "word" for it.

Speaking of which, a little anti-Google piece at the NYTimes.

Google also released Google Talk today (which I'm not linking as a statement of protest). Technically, very cool. Supports open standards? Great. But I'm not sure I want a secretive company logging my searches, my emails, and my conversations all at once without telling me exactly what they're doing. Especially not a company whose motto is something vague like "Do no evil." Since we all know censoring crap in Europe and China is definitely not evil. <takes off tinfoil hat>

I have a huge issue with people who try to use morality as a shield. This includes people and companies ... fundamentalist religious nuts (including those wonderful right-wing Christians bent on backtracking the progression of our society) included.

Plus I just find it completely laughable that Google, in its attempt to usurp Microsoft's dominance, is releasing Windows-only programs (Desktop 2, although Mac already has Widgets, Google Earth, Google Talk). You really think you can win this war in the long run against Microsoft? Why not give Macheads (who are incredibly loyal to cool brands) something to rejoice about? Way to build a customer base there.

I keep hearing of Google hiring the "best engineers." They are notoriously marred to the hierarchy of graduate schools (which is OK, I guess) ... but what's really amusing to me is this ... you see Google, hiring Ph.Ds, and you think "hmm, ok they'll change the world."

And what do they produce? Gmail. Google News. Google Talk (which arstechnica reviews as "the Stone Age of Instant Messaging!") Gmaps (actually this is pretty cool). But really ... have they done anything GROUNDBREAKING yet that nobody else hasn't done? Come on. Please tell me 4 more years of specialized formalized training is worth more than cool websites.

Microsoft produces a whole damn operating system. Google makes ... websites. Tell me which one wins.

I was also pleased to see a /. article on more ways to defeating captchas. I have never been a fan of captchas... ever. I think they could be the most retarded invention ever, second only to that short-lived email spam filter that forced people who reply to "click a link to verify they are real."

Part of my hate against captchas stems from the fact that I keep failing captcha tests. Some of those fuckers are real obscure... to the point that I can't tell whether taht blot is support to make a t from that l. And everytime i fail, I have to put in my password again. Jesus christ.

Plus it's so much fucking work to figure out the ink blot captcha tests ... I just want to post a friggin comment man. All I want to say is "LOL." Do I really have to sit there and take a test?

P.S. If you wish to comment in this entry, please provide the letters provided in this captcha image, or I will delete your comment since you are obviously a computer, spamming:

Posted by roy on August 24, 2005 at 01:56 PM in Ramblings | 16 Comments

I was reading this post on jet lag cure at Lifehacker (a great site, by the way), when I saw this line: "What really helped was watching what I ate and drank before, during, and after the flight." My mind read this twice as: "What really helped was eating and drinking before, during, and after the flight."

Oh my.

. . .

Leedar asked a great question as a comment in my previous post.

How do we deal with internet spam?

Honestly, I've only given a short thought to this growing problem, so the answer I'm writing here is pretty vague, but should give you a rough idea of how I think it might be accomplished.

Ultimately the problem of spam comes down to the balance between anonymity and privacy versus identity authentication on the web. These two items are mutually exclusive ... so where you have give priority over to anonymity, you will have greater problems with spamming.

Quite honestly, I think the best solution is to have some sort of centralized, federated authority system. This is in, no way, a system to track the activities of individual users on the web; it's sole purpose would to give ONE central identity 'card' to each legitimate user on the web.

You would be required to provide some sort of solid government-issued identification to receive this identity ... and this identity would only be issued once. One identity per person.

When creating an account on Tabulas, for example, you could provide the username/password for your federated identity card, which would through a series of activities check back to a primary server to verify your identity. Tabulas might provide you an incentive to use this identity card during the registration process, although users can still register without the card (opt-in).

In essence, it's vaguely similar to OpenID, but a bit different by forcing a bit more of authentication and storing a bit more information about the user in one place.

Now, this really goes against what everyone believes the Internet is all about, but in reality, privacy on the internet is a joke.

To take advantage of any site on the web, what do you have to do? You have to register. Look at how many registrations you have floating around, with that information being sold to whoever? All this federated system would do is create ONE repository of basic information and provide an API for verification by third-party sites. Since this would not be a for-profit site, it would have to be set-up by either a non-profit organization (preferable) or run by the government (no thanks).

The reality of the matter is that there is no such thing on privacy on the web already, and since this would be an opt-in measure, it wouldn't have to bother anybody at all. Everyone on the Internet already has registered to at least one site - it would just be a matter of registering to the federated system and using that system as a springboard for registration elsewhere.

Amazon could do this already. They already are able to verify individual users; just provide a username/password API to check ... and we can link third-party sites to Amazon's log-in system.

Posted by roy on August 24, 2005 at 11:47 PM in Web Development | 8 Comments

Han and I are driving up to Baltimore to gorge ourselves in raw oysters and soft-shelled crabs on Saturday. Drop either one of us a line if you want to go.

. . .

Now this is kinda cool. Someone used the RSS feeds generated by Tabulas to aggregate them on one site ... I guess these guys are friends. Pretty nifty stuff.

. . .

We went to Fayetteville instead, since more people could make the Fayetteville trip... Han knew an excellent oyster bar... $17 for this huge bucket of oysters ... and their hush puppies were EXCELLENT.

Um, but yeah. I'm a bit sick from over-eating of oysters. I'm not sure I even had that many, except I don't think my stomach was ready to handle oysters en-masse.

Man, tomorrow is Sunday. Where did the weekend go?! Why the hell aren't weekends 3 days?!

Posted by roy on August 25, 2005 at 09:26 PM in Ramblings | 4 Comments

I've found that when I can't sleep, going grocery shopping helps a lot. Harris Teeter (local grocery store) is now open 24-7 (to compete against Target and Wal-Mart) which is ideal for me. Yesterday when I went at 330am, I was delighted to find that Swanson TV dinners were discounted from their normal price of $2.59 to buy 9 for $9 ($1 per unit, saving $1.59 per unit!). I also took the time to purchase a Mach 3 Turbo razor (something I've been meaning to buy for years now, and I just kept forgetting).

I can only theorize that shopping helps put me to sleep because usually when I try to sleep, my mind starts drifting and thinking about depressing issues (people I've known, girls I wish I could meet, past regrets, things to do) which usually wakes me up. By engaging the front part of my brain with a mundane task ("Should I get Lucky Charms or not?"), I help to shut down my brain. I'm usually exhausted when I get back, so I fall asleep quite promptly. This could also explain why I enjoy mundane, manual-labor type tasks so much (gardening, cleaning, etc.) so much.

This works much better than past attempts to medicate my sleep problems with Ambien and Sonata (I liked Ambien better, by the way). Although I'd love to try some Modafinil to extend the productivity of my workday.

Posted by roy on August 28, 2005 at 02:08 AM in Personal | 7 Comments

A few months ago, I was doing my bi-weekly check on my not-yet-comandeered UNC email account when I received two or three emails, all within a few hours, asking me for access to http://www.theassbook.com.

A few weeks prior, Oliver and I decided a great spoof site to TheFaceBook would be TheAssBook, which would allow users to list people they hate (or more carnally, focus on the badunkadunkdunk instead of the face).

I snapped up the domain name and promptly forgot about the project.

The emails were from partcipants of a scavenger hunt from the University of Chicago. Looking at the PDF file of the items, one can see on page 10 ... "theassbook.com." Worth 28 points. No wonder people wanted it so badly.

I temporarily pointed the domain to their servers for the duration of the scavenger hunt and promptly forgot about it (recurring theme, I know).

Until yesterday, when I was doing my bi-monthly check on my still-not-yet-comandeered UNC email account when I got a request from a buyer through AfterNic to buy the domain name. Paying only $10 per year for the registration fees, I was astounded to see an offer of $2000 USD, already in an escrow account!

I haven't yet discounted that this is just a big ploy by AfterNic to get me to register as a "seller" ($20/year for them!), to which they have now succeeded. I rejected the $2K offer, only to see what the market price of TheAssBook.com would be. I mean, given how popular TheFaceBook.com is, TheAssBook.com has gotta be worth something, right?!

I've always theorized in the back of my mind that I should be more proactive on registering domain names, because it seems like they are the new real estate ... I guess now that I've had a legitimate offer on one of my throwaway domain names, it's become a reality.

How fascinating.

Posted by roy on August 28, 2005 at 07:30 PM in Ramblings | 8 Comments

Two weeks ago, I decided to take the plunge and get some Tabulas t-shirts printed for fun. I ordered about 40 or so with the intentions of giving them out or maybe selling them. After looking at recommendations (local stores and CafePress as alternatives), I settled on using CustomInk.com to create my shirts.

CustomInk has a cool program that lets you "design" your shirt right then and there, but what they don't tell you is that it's not going to come out exactly the way you design it there (which is a great thing!). They actually have someone look over your design and (I'm guessing) redesign it so it looks best on a t-shirt. I was surprised when I received a call from CustomInk telling me that my design would probably not translate too well to t-shirt in its current state, so they actually redesigned it so it would work well! I was quite impressed.

In any case, CustomInk has GREAT sales and email support, and I highly recommend them if you need t-shirts made.

. . .

That said, I was somewhat dissappointed with the way my shirt came out. The green was a bit too bright for my tastes (closer to neon green than a grassy green), and the ray design didn't come out too well.

The design as it looks on the screen is:

So what have I learned from this t-shirt making experience?

  • Keep your t-shirt designs simple
  • Make sure there's enough color contrast

Unfortunately for these shirts, they'll be spending the rest of their lives in the back of my closet.

Posted by roy on August 31, 2005 at 01:44 PM in Tabulas | 9 Comments
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