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Topics - Xepher

General Chat / Happy Groundhog Day!
February 02, 2006, 06:16:09 PM
Groundhog Day:

Best... holiday... EVER!

Phil's official forecast as read 2/2/06 at sunrise at Gobbler's Knob:
Quote from: "Phil"It is said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.
Around the country there are many imitators of me.

In Harrisburg there is Gus who appears on TV
working for the lottery.

Then all around town,
Cute groundhog statues abound.
They all look like me, I found.

Today on the Knob as I'm doing my job,
I don't like this likeness of me.

It's my shadow I see. Six more weeks of mild winter there will be.
Yay for neversummer!
General Chat / Frappr Map
January 30, 2006, 12:46:24 AM
Just because I was bored, I made a frappr group for XepherNet. Add yourself, and it makes it easy to see where we all are.
General Chat / Fairy Tales
January 17, 2006, 01:40:10 AM
It occurs to me that the world needs more fairy tales. Not just fantasy stories, though I do love those, but real fairy tales. Those weird, moral-hefting tidbits meant to frighten children and such. If anyone's read "The Diamond Age" (Neal Stephenson) then you know the bit where he explains how important it is for children to grow up with darkness in their stories. Neil Gaiman wrote a good one called "Coraline" that I read recently. The opening quote of that book is from G.K. Chesterton: "Fairy tales are more than true. Not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten!"

Today I was looking over Ursula Vernon's website... and she's recently finished a short illustrated tale that's exactly the sort of thing I'm talking about. It's a "children's story" for the most part, but it's intelligent and dark as well. Reminded me a lot of a "Lilo & Stitch" if it had been done by the Brothers Grimm.
General Chat / Battlestar Galactica
January 15, 2006, 04:14:32 AM
Because this show needs it's own thread.

Time magazine's "Best of 2005" named Battlestar Galactica as the best show on television. The article starts with this bit.

QuoteBest of 2005: Televsion

Battlestar Galactica
(Sci Fi)

Most of you probably think this entry has got to be a joke. The rest of you have actually watched the show.
It's entirely true. BSG is the absolute best show on television, possibly the best show EVER on television. Like the Time author, I say that those of you who have seen it know what I'm talking about, those who haven't...

This is why I love science fiction. Finally there is a TV series that's as good as the good sci-fi books. I know it may sound stupid, but I know what I want to do with my life. I want to tell stories like that. I want to tell stories that inspire, stories that move, stories that enlighten. I want to tell stories about humanity.
General Chat / Why psychologists are evil!
January 11, 2006, 05:05:54 AM
Why, you ask. Well, here's the answer and the proof. The word "Hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia" means "Fear of long words." No, really, go ahead and look it up. I just wanna shake the hand of the sadistic SOB that came up with that one! Probably the same guy that put the "s" in "Lisp." A close runner-up is "Hellenologophobia" which is fear of greek/complex/scientific terminology. Check out for some more fun with fears.

EDIT: Dang it, they don't have my one actual phobia. I mean, sure I don't like heights, and I get nervous around pointy/sharp object, but for actual phobias, I've only got one. I have an unnatural fear of crustaceans.
Art / Christmas Cards
December 24, 2005, 05:40:15 AM
I decided to make cards this year, rather than buy premade ones. Here's the two I made.

Pirate Card Cover


And another for my family.

The inside of that one reads "...And was sad he wouldn't see his family this year. Merry Christmas to those back home."

It's a bit sentimental, but then, I'm not going home for christmas for the 2nd year in a row.
General Chat / Away Messages
December 17, 2005, 07:37:23 AM
So... I see that a lot of people (myself included) tend to post "profound" things in their away messages. Either that, or really funny things. Here's a thread to post all those great away messages that not enough people read.

I have more away messages than I have people on my buddy list. But I'll start with one I just thought of.

QuoteThe world is my oyster...

And I'm allergic to shellfish!
(And yes, I realize the irony of having an Otter avatar with this one.)
General Chat / Jet Wash
December 08, 2005, 03:57:41 AM
Just how much thrust does a 747 have? And more importantly, what's it do to a car?

Note that in the video, they're only throttling 2 engines up, not all 4. If they did, the brakes wouldn't hold.

I think they say it's 56,000 lbf of thrust. Now compare that to the Saturn V, at 7,500,000 lbf. That's not a typo, it's literally 33.4 meganewtons. MEGAnewtons!!! That's over 133 times the thrust. I can't even wrap my head around that.
Writing / Sometimes The Darkness (Caution: Emo ahead.)
December 01, 2005, 06:41:55 AM
Something I wrote the other night when I couldn't sleep. As much as I hate emo, I realize this definitely seems to qualify, and so I apologize in advance. Not quite sure why I'm posting it here, but it just somehow seemed incomplete if it was kept private. Take it as you will.

Sometimes The Darkness
QuoteSometimes the darkness is all you have. The darkness and the fire. As night descends, the creature sleeps. You look in the mirror, with fright at the stranger staring back. This isn't you. This can't be your life. These things all pressing in upon you, they don't make sense. You don't know what you're doing here. You don't belong. Your life belongs to someone else, to some mask you once put on, but now can't take off. It's alive, this creature, this mask. It clings to your skin, and you claw and scrape at it until you bleed. Only in the darkness does it sleep. But exhausted as you are, you dare not join it, for fear that these precious moments of lucidity will pass you by. So you claw, and scream, and howl into the abyss, but no one hears. The mask, the puppet you've become, won't let you make much noise, for that might be impolite. Oh yes, it sleeps, but ever so lightly. You may rage against the walls, and pound upon the bed, tears may soak your pillow, and your sobs may fill the room, but the creature controls you still, and won't permit you to escape. You dream of running away, of forgoing all and escaping, but you never do. You never can. No. You wake up in the morning and you take a shower. You put on your clothes and you go about your day. You smile as people say hello, and answer "just fine" when they ask how you are. A small part of your soul screams, but the fascade is too strong, no one can hear you through the calm exterior. So the days and nights go by. Some night, one night, you can't take it any longer. You sit awake by the fire while the creature slumbers. Fire. Fire would free you. The mask you wear, the creature that consumes you as it becomes you, is made from nothing more than diplomas and contracts, licenses and tax returns, pay stubs and business cards, bank statements and electric bills. They all burn, and with them, the horrid creature in the mirror. One night you do it. You burn it all. You dance around the flames as ashes fill the sky. A primal rite of freedom in the modern world. You dance. You dance. You dance. You dance. You Dance. The beast inside awakes, and you open your eyes, and you open your eyes again. The world is alive. The sea is blue, the grass is green, and the moon shines bright across the night. You howl again into the abyss, and this time you are heard. Oh are you heard! Neighbors shudder in their lonesome apartments, workers cower in their cubicles, secretaries hide beneath their desks, and all over town, souls flicker as if in a breeze. As dawn comes, and your spirit charges off across the skies, the masks seem to fracture just a tiny bit more. Sometimes the darkness is all you have. But sometimes... Sometimes the darkness helps kindle the light.
General Chat / Music Genome Project
November 29, 2005, 09:34:11 PM
Okay, this is really pretty cool. It's a custom radio station thing, where you give it a starting band or song you like, then just give thumbs up/down to other songs. It figures out your tastes and plays stuff it thinks you'll like. I'm actually kind of impressed. I put in "Flogging Molly" and in 2 songs it was playing They Might Be Giants. I put in "Descendants" and I'm 6 songs into that now, and like everything it's played. My only complaint is that it doesn't have a lot of the more obscure stuff I listen to. Not much in the way of Irish Folk music.
General Chat / Frack That's Cool!
November 22, 2005, 05:40:15 PM

I know it was just on slashdot, so some of you may have seen it already, but... dang that is some awesome tech there. For those too lazy to read the article, just know that each of those pictures/movies is one single shot, taken with a handheld camera. All the refocusing is done after the fact by computer, and is possible because the camera is capturing a complete 4 dimensional light-field, rather than just the 2d slice of it a normal camera does.

Just imagine the implications. Cameras won't have any moving parts, as there will be no need to focus anymore. Security videos will just have to point in a general direction, as any individual bit (like a face or a license plate) will be refocusable later. It actually makes it possible to do the "image enhancement" thing you see in movies, and read a license plate out of a blurry photo. Additionally (though they don't show it in practice in this paper) the technology allows you to make 3D images out of the same single snapshot.
General Chat / Comics
November 10, 2005, 05:33:32 PM
So I end up with a lot of, what we shall call comic-reading time at work. As such, I quickly run out of comics to read. So I figure I'd start a thread here, asking for some more recomendations. I think it's probably safe to skip the really popular ones, so no need for everyone to point out penny arcade, megatokyo, ctrl+alt+del, or VGcats. Also, I think it'd be more entertaining if everyone posts a link to a specific strip they found funny, rather than just the comic in general.

Here's a new one I found recently.
General Chat / Death to Blogs!
November 03, 2005, 08:21:14 PM
Many of you already know how much I despite the term "blog" and the way I tend to rant when it gets used in my company. I just found this article though, which pretty much says everything I wanted to, but uses words and crudeness I never would. Thus, it's much funnier.
Announcements / MySQL and PhpBB
October 27, 2005, 07:49:23 PM
MySQL service on is offically "deprecated" as of this post. I will continue to run the service for a while yet, but will not be upgrading to the newer releases of the MySQL package. There are several reasons for this. First, it's a royal pain to manage and maintain. Secondly, there's now a very viable (and much more portable) option in the form of SQLite. Third, the overhead and resources for the mysql server could be better spent elsewhere. There's a reason most serious MySQL installations are on dedicated machines, seperate from the webserver.

What this means though, is that web applications that rely on MySQL (such as phpBB) will need to be either replaced or upgraded to something that supports another method of storage. I personally have to rewrite a lot of the backend software for itself to move away from MySQL, so this a headache for me as well.

I think this is a good time to mention that phpBB is also going to be "deprecated." Basically, there have been so many problems (many of them security related) with phpBB that I want everyone to stop using it. I'm not going to out-and-out ban it like many hosting providers are doing, but I will ask that no NEW installs of phpBB be made, and that users do their best to phase out existing installations as soon as possible. I'm not saying you have to have it figured out by next week or anything, but now is the time to start looking for alternatives. I'd personally suggest which is what runs these forums, and so far, hasn't had any gaping security holes. Also, it supports SQLite and is a double-bonus in that respect. The easiest way to do this is to do what I did here. Make a punBB (or other forum package) install using SQLite, and let it coexist with your old forum for a while as users move over.

Any questions and comments on this policy should be posted here. Requests for technical help with installing/upgrading software should be placed under the technical support forum.
General Chat / Star Wreck
October 02, 2005, 07:34:02 AM
Bizzare, but one of the better looking fan-films I've ever seen. Full length movie, free to download.

Favorite quote:
"It's a passable day to die."
--Lieutenant Dwarf
General Chat / A Quake! A Quake!
October 01, 2005, 08:17:38 PM
"Oh really yeah no fake? We kind of had that feeling when the ground began to shake!"

But animaniacs songs aside...

We had an earthquake here last night. A couple minutes before midnight a 4.1 earthquake hit centered just 14 miles north east of here. I was lying in bed, listening to the final chapter of harry potter and the order of the phoenix when I hear a noise that sounded kinda like a jet approaching, then BOOM! it was enough to shake me back and forth in the bed. I jumped up and went and looked out the windows, because at first I thought it might be a sonic boom from a jet... then I realized I'd heard the "jet" before the boom, and that doesn't happen. Anyway, once I realized it was a quake... Awesome! Just thinking about how much energy is release in even a smaller one like this. I mean, enough that a 30 mile area of granite bounced around like that. Rock! :-)

QuoteA QUAKE! A QUAKE! from the Yakko's World album
Music and lyrics by Randy Rogel.

Music adapted from The Happy Farmer by Robert Schumann.
Yakko: It's a quiet, peaceful night
       The moon is shining bright
       Giving not a hint of what's in store
       A few hours before morning
       Without a single warning
       Something strange begins to move the floor
       A quake, a quake
       The house begins to shake
       You're bouncing 'cross the floor
       And watching all your dishes break

       You're sleeping; there's a quake
       You're instantly awake
       You're leaping out of bed
       And shouting "Oh for heaven's sake!"
       I ran outside with neighbors
       Their faces full of shocks
       That's because I'm standing there
       In nothing but my socks
W+D  : Oops!
Yakko: A quake, a quake
       This must be a mistake
       Just feel the ground
       Go up and down
       Won't someone hit the brake?
       A quake, a quake
       Oh, what a mess they make
       The bricks, the walls
       The chimney falls
       Destruction in its wake
       I did not have insurance
       I called them from the scene
       And suddenly I'm listening
       To an answering machine

       Say "Too late, too late
       You shouldn't ought to wait
       'Cause now you're stuck
       We wish you luck
       Here comes a six-point-eight!"
       Whose fault, whose fault?
       Blame it on the fault
       'Cause Mister Richter
       Can't predict her
       Kicking our asphalt
       Seismologists all say
       Tectonic plates are in between
       An encroaching crustal mantle
       Yeah, so what the heck's that mean?
       It means a quake, a quake
W+D  : Oh really, yeah, no fake?
       We kind of had that feeling
       When the ground began to shake
Yakko: And so we wait
       Resign ourselves to fate
       Because our lawn
       Is sitting on
       A continental plate
       We shivered through a blizzard
       Went swimming in a flood
       Then we blew off a hurricane
       And now we hear a thud
       Of a quake, a quake
       How much more can we take?
       We thought that we had seen it all
       But this one takes the cake
       The dirt, the rocks
       Those crazy aftershocks
       It's just the planet
       Moving granite
       Several city blocks
*YW+D: Now the town is falling down
*      While the ground
*      Moves around
*      We won't let it get us down
*      Get beneath the door frame
Yakko: A quake, a quake
       It's time to pull up stake
Dot  : The worst is over
Y+W  : We don't buy it
       We're fed up
       We can't deny it
       We just want some peace and quiet
YW+D : So we're moving to Beirut!
* - sung to "London Bridge"
General Chat / Air Force Kills Rudolph
September 30, 2005, 03:53:10 AM
Air force admits to killing Rudolph the Reindeer with F-16s, pays santa nearly $5,000 in compensation. Literally!
Applications / Application Status: OPEN!
September 30, 2005, 03:33:42 AM
This thread and it's title will show the current application status. Do NOT post a new application if it is closed.

Current Status: Open!

And only six months later than planned! :-)
"Artica" is the (temporary?) name I've picked for the art-site project I mentioned over here. I'd suggest anyone that hasn't should at least skim that thread for the parts where I describe my idea(s) before continuing here. For the lazy though, here's a VERY brief recap.

I want to make a community art site, similar to things like Deviant Art, Yerf, Elfwood, Artvark, etc. I want it to be a community site, run by the members, rather than a profit-oriented corporation. To this end, I've several ideas for how things would work that would set this site apart from the others. Membership (for artists) would be by invitation only. There would be a system of "karmic currency" in place (Whuffie?) that basically indicates how respected someone is in the community. People with more respect would have great administrative ability... that is, they'd have more power to do things such as moderate posts, invite more people, punish and ban troublemakers, petition for new ideas, etc. The system is actually quite complicated, but on the front (user) side of things is very simple. People would see "scores" and have the ability to give people a thumbs up/down.

In addition to the karmic system, there are a few technical features that I've yet to see in other art archives that would be new as well. For example, an option to have multiple revisions of a work. I often see a rough sketch, an ink drawing, and a full color version of the same image, yet they're always posted as new "works" and end up seperate in the archives. Similar things would be done for "set" images... things like a series of ABC pictures and such. Also, themeable home pages so each artist can customize their own areas, yet still keep a consistent feel throughout.

Anyway, the ideas and the full feature set are still in a quite malleable state. Lots of things are subject to change. I do know that this is something I want to do, and I think needs to be done. I, of course, already have the server resources to host and run such a thing, but it is a massive undertaking to actually code and design such a place. I'm going for something quite the opposite from There I started with nothing and slowly built it up to what it is today. I've also (intentionally) kept a less-than-professional air about the place. I never wanted this to be a "major" project. Artica will be different though. I don't want to slap something together and try and get people interested a few at a time. My intention is to, quite frankly, surprise everyone from out of left field. I want to have a fully functional, professional looking, easy-to-use site up and running before accepting the first artist. I want someplace where people will be clammoring to get into, and where they'll work hard to keep it a great place. I want a community everyone can be proud to be part of.

Now, to that end, I realize I can't do it alone. Yes, I could probably code the site and get things going, but as soon as it starts getting "interesting" I don't think I'd be able to keep up by myself. I need help. Primarily I need a few other people that can code well in PHP. (Honestly, I'm not that great at actual coding. I turn everything into an if/then/else statement and I've never even used an "object.") Also, some artists would be needed, both for their connections in various other art communities for promotion, and for design and graphics for the site and engine. It's gonna be an art site, and a nearly graphic-less page like on would be rather stupid. Additionally, we'll probably need a good deal of beta testers to go through and try and break things. These can (and probably should) be ordinary joe and jane user. No special skills required. Just a willingness to click on everything until it breaks. :-)

While I would defintely like people to have skill in their areas, I think it's more important to find people who are motivated and actually interested in such a project. This is gonna be a long-term thing. I'm not in a rush, but I would like to see steady work being done. Until I/we get more into it, it's hard to estimate a timeframe, but 6 months to a year of work is quite possible. This wouldn't be nearly full time on anyone's part, and I don't intend to have weekly deadlines or anything, but I'm just mentioning this possibility up front because I don't want people that get bored in a few weeks and wander off. Ideally I'd like to see a functional site up for testing well this side of 6 months, but the time frame is heavily under flux until we finalize features and see how many people we can get on the team.

I think that about sums up my piece for now. If you're seriously interested in working on this, don't be scared off by my admonitions about long/hard work. Most of you know me, and I'm not a slave driver or anything. Things come up and people can't always stick to commitments. I know this, and it's expected. I just want to make sure of peoples intentions more than anything.

So, who's interested? I'm not looking for commitments yet, just an idea of who might consider it.