Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Happy New Year

I won't be here to make this post new year's eve, so I shall wish you a happy new year in advance. Though I wish to comment on the disaster in Southeast Asia and public policy for dealing with such natural disasters, time is short; my flight leaves in six hours. I shall see you all in the new year. Unless I see you in Saskatoon first. And this means that Part 1 will be posted in 2005. Figures.

RIP, those who passed away in Southeast Asia.

Friday, December 24, 2004

Leadership postponed

I know Part 1 is supposed to be up by now, but the basement flooded and it's been hard to try to fix everything. Also, another God thread finally popped up at HCW and I seem to be posting a lot more than I usually did in the past. Or maybe it's just been a while, and I can't remember how much I usually posted. :)

So ETA for Part 1 has been postponed to next week. But I've been outlining what I want to write about, and my goodness, this is going to get complicated. Everything's so intertwined, it'll be hard to avoid redundancy.

Sunday, December 19, 2004

The many faces of leadership

I had a conversation with Sara some time ago about leadership. One interesting question I asked was whether quality leadership can be demonstrated, or even developed, in times of no trial. In particular, would that leadership be able to rival the quality of leadership exemplified in times of trial? One question Sara asked was whether teachers could be considered leaders.

My dad made me watch a couple of episodes of a Korean drama, and I am hooked (as can happen with Korean dramas). This one is called A Time of Heroes, and chronicles the story of the man who founded the Hyundai conglomerate (yes, they do make more than cars). The time is during the Japanese occupation. The context is quite critical here. The Japanese are in total control of Korea and use Korea's natural resources to fund their military campaigns. They've abolished the Korean language and Korean education. My grandparents grew up learning Japanese and are/were fluent in Korean in spite of the occupation (only my grandmother on my mother's side still lives). The family of my grandfather (dad's side) actually moved to Manchuria to have a better life when he was a teenager (though Manchuria was also under Japanese occupation and had its own problems). The parallels between the Nazi treatment of the Jews and the Japanese treatment of the Koreans are uncanny, except that the Nazis attempted to exterminate Jewish genes in their efforts for a supreme race; the Japanese simply attempted to exterminate Korean civilization as part of the plan to prove race supremacy. I've read some fascinating books (fictional and not) on the subject. The ones that stick out are Pearl S. Buck's The Living Reed and Sook Nyul Choi's Year of Impossible Goodbyes and Echoes of the White Giraffe. But I digress. And I harbour no ill will against the Japanese. ;)

Two characters really strike me in this drama. There is the main character, of course, but there is also a teacher. The main character Dwae-Sah is compelled by his younger sister's bout with tuberculosis to leave his home in the country and make enough money to bring her to a Western-trained doctor; Korean medical practices at the time weren't capable of curing this disease. Dwae-sah is only a teenager and was attending an underground Korean school where he learned about the things necessary for Korea to succeed and take back their country.

But the second character is what brought to mind the conversation I had with Sara. After Dwae-Sah and two friends head to the city and find work in a mine, they meet up with Song Dong-Min. This man started out as a freedom fighter, but realized that his methods were only a temporary solution. As a result, he started moving from rural area to rural area, starting schools to teach the next generation. The Japanese military started cracking down on those schools (for example, they killed one of Dwae-Sah's teachers while attempting to arrest the man), and had a warrant out for Dong-Min. So Song Dong-Min is a fugitive and hiding as an anonymous employee at the mine.

When Dwae-Sah and his friends realize who they've met, you have to understand, they met the legend in the flesh. Think of meeting the person you voted to be the Greatest Canadian. It was that special. And because Dong-Min is always on the run, and Dwae-Sah needs to make money, they keep running into each other, even after Dwae-Sah leaves the coal mine. Dong-Min uses this opportunity to forge the mind of the man who would help to transform Korean industry. Then the Japanese finally catch up to him. Knowing it's the end, Dong-Min teaches Dwae-Sah and his friend (by this time, one friend had gone home) the Korean national anthem as soldiers storm the logging camp where they are working; Dwae-Sah witnesses Song Dong-Min's death.

When I think about all the great leaders, they always seem to credit the people who taught them. Alexander the Great had Aristotle before conquering the known world. Though Alexander would disregard Aristotle's words for many things, the fact is that he learned how to think because of this great philosopher. Paul had Gamaliel, one of the most respected doctors of the law; Paul was responsible for the spread of Christianity to the gentile peoples and became the most prolific author of the New Testament through his many epistles. The twelve disciples had Jesus Christ; they took his teachings all across Western Asia, in the face of adversity, persecution, and suppression of the Roman Empire. Heck, Luke Skywalker had Obi Wan Kenobi and Yoda! And we all know the feats of Luke Skywalker!

There's something especially interesting that happens when a leader is no more. Either the movement falls apart, meaning that the leader did not do enough to develop leaders for the next generation, or new leaders rise up. Teachers can have that role in developing new leaders. And does that not then make them leaders as well? Teachers, with their ability and responsibility to inspire their students, seem to need leadership aspects in order for leaders to be born.

Ironically we're both taking the leadership course next semester. That'll be fun. :) But until then, I've decided to post a series of my thoughts on leadership, taking ideas from that original conversation and other insights I've been fortunate to gain over the past little while. Part 1 is coming soon.

On the note of my father's father. He must be one of the biggest reasons why I'm not content to have a nondescript life. The man lived in extraordinary times when Korea was being transformed from a tiny despot to one of the infamous Asian Tigers. But while the transformation was initiating, life in Korea was extremely difficult. My grandfather moved from nation to nation to find work to support his family. Finally, he couldn't take it anymore, due to incidents in Vietnam, and decided to move his family to a nation where there would be better opportunity. His conversation with the immigration official went something like this (abridged version):

Immigration Officer: You have no skills, you can't speak English, why should I let you into Canada?
Grandfather: /speechless, starts talking about how he had to struggle in Manchuria to survive
Immigration Officer: You lived in Manchuria?
Grandfather: Yes.
Immigration Officer: Do you speak Mandarin?
Grandfather: Yes.
Immigration Officer: Ni hao ma?
Grandfather: /speechless again

The guy had been a missionary in Manchuria and saw firsthand how tough life was. He said if my grandfather could survive in Manchuria without having grown up there, he could survive in Canada.

Suffice it to say this. My grandfather did not work his butt off and suffer all his trials so that his descendants could squander the opportunity to do something. Anything. I do something with my life, or his efforts are in vain.

PakG1 is asking God to give him a dream, and has been asking for a long time.

Um, yeah, maybe Part 1 will be done in a few days.

Next: Introduction

Legs are dying, but it was worth it

Mountain fries: $2.95
Replacing OneNiter pass to be good for Thursday: $30
Seeing Belle slide over 300 m on her butt without stopping: Priceless

Casualties:
Was cleaning my cheap sunglasses on the Eagle chairlift when they snapped in half and fell from my hands. They now lie somewhere near the bottom of the Eagle lift. RIP. Must invest in more durable sunglasses.
My lock for securing my skis while eating lunch stopped working. Must replace it.
Lost my headband (but some kind person gave it to the Lost and Found).

My legs feel like they're going to fall off. Should take just a few more trips before they get used to it. :)

It was actually raining when we got up there. But it cleared up in the afternoon.

Mountains in the distance looked villages in the sky with all the fog shrouding everything but the peaks. Pretty view.

This was a good day of skiing, even if the roads up the mountain had no snow at all. That freaked me out for a bit. :)

Let there be snow

There' s something to be said about good and bad weather forecasts. I had been worrying that it would rain today at Cypress. But it's not. So I'm off. Having completely missed my Dec. 6 target for the sake of studying, I am glad I am going. Figures, it's the first day after exams. :) And so another frivolous post has been posted, for the opportunity cost of making a quality post is delaying my trip to the mountain. :D

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Dare to believe you can survive

Take that exams!

Dare to keep all your dreams alive!

One step at a time. :)

Standup Comics

I should really be studying. But I just watched Last Comic Standing. 10 push-ups for you!

I was at MSSC Appreciation Night earlier this year and this guy asked me if I was willing to standup comedy at MSN. MSN? Erm, sure, ok... what's your MSN account, I'll add you to my list. Nono, MSN is Malaysia-Singapore Night. Ah!

That blew me away. Wow, someone asked me if I was willing to do standup comedy in front of an audience!

But I'm not really that funny.
Don't worry, just do what you did today!
Um...
There'll be an audience of about 300 people.
Whoah... freaky.

Um, right.

Well, over the next few days, I gave it some serious thought. And I tried to make up some jokes. And I ended up gaining a ton of respect for comedians. Do you know HOW HARD it is to make an original joke?? And not just that, but be able to do it on the fly? Maybe there's truth to the statements I've read on the high depression level of comedians. Am I really funny? Did that make sense? Will they laugh at me? Am I going to have an awkward 15 minutes of silence up there? Minna sent me a episode of Last Comic Standing, the one where they have to perform at a laundromat. To make people laugh at a place where they don't want to be bothered, I don't know if I'd ever be able to do that.

Here's the best I could come up with during those few days of thought after the MSSC event:
Remember World Cup 2002, and all those Korean people running around with their red t-shirts? Calgary, you thought you had a sea of red during the Stanley Cup playoffs, you ain't seen nothing! Look at photos of the celebrations in South Korea, now THAT'S a sea of red! So I was just wondering about this sea of red, and how every single t-shirt had their motto, "Be the Reds!" Every morning South Korea won a game, you'd see all these Koreans tramping all over downtown waving flags and screaming their song. Can you imagine what some America-lovin, gun-totin CIA rookie could have been thinking?

"Damn! Get me HQ! These darn Canadians are in league with those bastard Chinese Commies! They're all wearing shirts that say 'Be the Reds', dammit!"

Dude, we're Korean. You fought for us in a big war. You station troops in our country. You know?

This is what happens when football does not use a round, black and white ball in the US. Folks, be careful with your sports.
I came up with some more stuff, but would any of it really sell onstage? Would the MSSC guy ask me again? I dunno. Would I consider it if he asked me again? Hell yeah. But I'd probably die on stage. :)
Hey, you know that the #1 fear in North America is public speaking, right? It's feared more than death. See, I'm in the awkard situation on this stage where I'm supposed to make you laugh at me. Usually, people don't want that, it's embarrassing. So let's get this straightened out right now. Here, I actually want you to laugh at me, or else I give in to North America's #1 fear. If you stay quiet, I'll have a high incentive to commit suicide. You wouldn't want that, it's not a pretty sight to see someone try to strangle himself with a microphone cord. The face turns blue for one thing. But more importantly, he starts waving his arms and flops like a fish, so that you're not sure if he's really dying or gone schizophrenic and dancing to imaginary music.

Ah, ah, ah, ah, staying alive! Staying alive! Step to the side! Everyone wants to stay alive!
/do funky dance routine

Trust me, you want to hear me tell bad jokes more than you want to see my dancing.
Yeah, I'd probably die. But, still, it would be cool to try. :D

edit: Bleh, now that I've had people dash all my hopes and dreams by telling me how unfunny these routines are, perhaps I'll stick with the weeping under my bed.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Oracle Buys PeopleSoft for $10 Billion

Whoah.

Well, it was kind of expected after Craig Conway got fired. You just knew after that happened that the board of directors really actually did want the merger to go through. Still pretty amazing that it happened though, after the long fight and many lawsuits. We've essentially seen the consolidation of three major software corporations into one (recall that PeopleSoft acquired J.D. Edwards earlier during the battle with Oracle). The big question will be how Oracle and PeopleSoft deal with the poison pill that PeopleSoft set up. As well, will Larry Ellison try to keep the PeopleSoft team onboard? It'd be difficult to keep those promises that Ellison is making and support PeopleSoft's customers otherwise.

IBM sells their PC unit to Lenovo. Oracle buys PeopleSoft. Is the IT world changing or what?. :)

Sunday, December 12, 2004

What's the point?

So I read all of one economics paper yesterday. One out of... what, 15? Really, what's the point of even trying? So now my exam is in 3.5 hours and I'm wondering what's the point of reading? Of course there's a point! There's always a point when you haven't read the darn thing ever before. I am so glad I don't have World of Warcraft or Ghost....

100 pages in 3 hours. This is doable.

This has been another frivolous post brought to you by the letter I, number 2, and PakG1.

Saturday, December 11, 2004

The Chronicles of Narnia

I loved the Chronicles of Narnia when I was kid. Hey, I still love them! They're some of my favourite books ever written! So I was really excited when I read in the newspaper during the summer of 2001 that they were going to make movies based on the books. Being filmed in New Zealand, possibly one of the only book series that can match up with Lord of the Rings and still be targeted at children... the production team has a lot to live up to, after the success of Lord of the Rings. :)

Well, here's a fan-based website for the movies.

Thanks to Estey for finding the website.

C.S. Lewish has to be one of my favourite authors ever. :D Though I still have to get through reading all of his theological works.... @@ School gets in the way of a lot of stuff, you know?

Jeff is a genius!

I would like to note that Jeff has discovered the conspiracy behind Xmas.

Applying Economics to Relationships, Sex, and Marriage

I am not studying as hard for that economics and law final as I should be. So here I am instead. Given that an entire chapter is devoted to the economics of sex and marriage law, I blog to get me motivated into the right frame of mind.

Goose's complaint.

Andrew's friend's complaint.

Always interesting to get the female perspective.

OK, now the economic explanation. You know what the real problem is? The population of each gender is so diverse and widely dispersed that transaction costs are too high to get a good match. Ultimately, as each individual is a maximizer, each individual wishes to wait out for the best match. However, such matches cannot be found with the high transaction costs, where Allen defines transaction costs as the costs of establishing and maintaining property rights (Allen 1999), or in this case, the costs of finding and establishing the bond necessary for a relationship. One must first find a person, then get to know that person, ensure necessary attribute requirements are met, and then finally experience life with that person.

Search costs decrease drastically with the advent of the Internet and online dating and networking services. However, it is argued here that search costs take up only a minimal percentage of the entire transaction cost set. Ultimately, investment into discovering a relationship's prospects requires a much higher percentage of the overall transaction costs, if we consider that search costs are able to utilize economies of scale over the entire population, while the other transaction costs cannot do so; otherwise, the subject is considered to have cheated on his/her date(s).

Of all the bottlenecks that keep transaction costs high, time constraints would be the largest impact. If we assume that full transaction costs (excluding search costs) include at least one year of one's life, a person may be able to only analyze 10 candidates per decade. Added to this conundrum is the fact that one is not able to utilize economies of scale successfully, unless one keeps such activities secret. However, the risk of such action is extremely high in that, if found out, a candidate (and potentially all other candidates if word spreads) will reject the subject as a cad. This is possibly not in the best interests of the subject anyway, as economies of scale gained in terms of time may be lost in terms of opportunity costs for use of income; that is, it is expensive to maintain prospects for more than one potential girlfriend at a time (eg. if we want to increase the rate of candidate analysis to 10 candidates per year, rather than per decade, the percentage of one's income spent on candidates essentially increases tenfold, a prospect that can quickly render one bankrupt).

The best way to decrease the gross sum of these high transaction costs would be to ensure that search efforts return high quality results. With higher quality search results, one will be able to find candidates that have less risk for rejection, which will lower the total expected value of transaction costs. The puzzling question would be why expected transaction costs have not been lowered, despite the creation of matchmaking services that supposedly increase the quality of search results. Several possible explanations exist.

Firstly, it is possible that the combination of individuals that result in maximization does not take geographic locations into consideration. Consequently, individuals may be left with the horrible dilemma in having to decide whether to incur extremely high transaction costs to relocate or rejection of maximization maxims for the sake of lowering transaction costs. Profiling through online dating services may have had the ironic effect of actually encouraging non-maximiation by making the inputs necessary for utlity maximization clear; Pareto improvements are impossible.

Secondly, there may be an extremely high incidence of lying on the Internet. Stories of online stalkers are common, as is the idea of a bearded, tattoed 50 year-old Hell's Angel pretending to be an 19 year-old up-and-coming female supermodel. Such mendacity actually increases transaction costs, as it may take some time to discover the candidate's deception.

Thirdly, the opportunity cost of having a relationship may be so high that it is in fact not desirable for the majority of the population. Individuals may place more importance on generating income (rather than not generating as much, and then frivolously spending what little income is generated), professional or academic pursuits, extra-curricular non-romantic activities, pets, or inanimate entities, such as rocks. This may be especially true when the substitute interest can actually take the place of several categories (eg. pet rocks that assist in geological studies for the pursuit of a Nobel Prize that can provide much income).

Given that according to the Coase Theorem, maximization occurs when transaction costs are zero, it seems unlikely that individuals would be able to achieve maximization in relationships, except through a stroke of luck. For maximization to be achievable, one must have perfect information and zero transaction costs, both of which are unachievable.

Heh, ok, so maybe that's not an economically correct way of explaining things, but I had to throw the Coase Theorem in there somewhere.

However, until utility is maximized, one can always temporarily substitute with a virtual girlfriend. You knew that this was only the next step after the Tamagotchi craze. I remember walking down the street with my brother and two cousins. Suddenly, you heard this noise, and all three whipped out their Tamagotchis, crying out, "It's mine!" It reminds me of that cell phone scene in Clueless. I never did end up watching the entire movie....

Did I mention we have a budgie now? That thing is dang loud. I wonder what budgie tastes like.

And a bunch of fish. I don't even know where all this stuff came from. Shh... never end a sentence with a preposition, it's bad grammar. You're setting a bad example for all the kids, you know.

Friday, December 10, 2004

Miss Digital World 2004

Another frivolous post. Have you noticed the quantity of posts I've been making these days? Quality sure goes down when quantity goes up... I'd implement a TQM system, but I wouldn't be able to afford the consulting fee.

Miss Digital World 2004 has apparently been crowned. The artist actually did a pretty good job, but most of the entries were really bad. But I suppose when you're not a corporation like Square, you can't spend the big bucks to make a quality Yuna, Riku, Rinoa, or Aki Ross. Did you know that one quarter of the budget for the movie Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within was spent on Aki's hair? Hehe, I can imagine the annual report to the board of directors at Sony.

"Um, well, Final Fantasy the movie would have turned a profit if only they had spent less money on the main character's hair...."

But do the math, I guess; even if the hair budget had been cut down to zero, the movie would still have made a loss of $28.35 million.

But as Kristina noted after we stepped out of the theatre, the hair was amazing.

I remember when the trailers for Final Fantasy VIII first came out and I was blown away. Final Fantasy VII had amazing graphics. VIII was out of this world, especially the CG sequences. I would play those trailers day after day, drooling at the detailed renderings of churning water, smooth animations of human movement, and textures of the wind-blown grass. To date, I still think that the grass in Final Fantasy VIII has the best CG-animated grass I've ever seen (Shrek would be #2, but a distant #2). Square set the standard for a lot of things, and every one of us wanted to work at Square. It took years for any company to even come close to catching up; of course, the competition does eventually, and Blizzard released a trailer for Warcraft III that again blew my mind away. That trailer had the most realistic CG crow I've ever seen; at first, I thought it was real. It was the crow's eye that really fooled me. And the field had some really good grass too (maybe that would actually be the #2). But their CG humans are still sub-par when compared to Square's work.

So let's suppose that computer technology eventually becomes sufficient for perfectly and exactly rendering 3D reality on a 2D screen. How will that change the future course of entertainment? More importantly, what about the value of traditional artists? When you can map textures and model reality with mathematical precision, are we sacrificing creative talent for quality efficiency? Of course any computer animator still needs to have artistic talent, just as any professional photographer does. But the big question is whether traditional artists will become obsolete. The photograph did not make them so, but perhaps all that is needed is the push of one more medium. I'm one to disagree with Marshall McLuhan, the medium is not the message. But I cannot deny that the medium affects the message, and one day older messages can become forgotten.

I have no clue what the future holds, but Leonardo da Vinci, eat your heart out.

This post sure said a whole lot of nothing....

Blogthings and things

Lea. Confucius. My turn.



You Are the Individualist




4




You are sensitive and intuitive, with others and yourself.

You are creative and dreamy... plus dramatic and unpredictable.

You're emotionally honest, real, and easily hurt.

Totally expressive, others always know exactly how you feel.




How correct is that? You decide, I guess.

And I link May today. Wish we could have gone to Halifax for Dalhousie, but in retrospect, the semester was a little crazy. So sorry, would love to party it up with you all on New Year's Eve, but I'll be in Saskatchewan. :)

But DANG those tickets are expensive! You planning on donating to charity or something?? Or was there no other way to rent the place? Heh.

I swear, I'll make a good quality post next week. I'm still busy, you know. :)

Thursday, December 09, 2004

IBM Sells PC Unit to Lenovo

It's happened. Surprisingly, there are people who really think that this won't work. I really don't see how those premises are valid. Time will tell. But this is a particularly interesting statement:
As the old saying goes, no one ever got fired for buying IBM. But no one ever got hired for buying Lenovo.
Here's a memo from the CEO to all IBM employees explaining the deal.

Not surprisingly, Michael Dell is bashing IBM. But this statement is also interesting:
In recent years, Dell has also been gaining market share in China, a trend that has prompted Lenovo to cut prices.
If Lenovo can't even compete with Dell on their home turf, what would they be able to do with IBM's PC division worldwide? But it still seems to me that Lenovo would have some tricks up their sleeve that would allay the fears of doomsayers; one lesson that people need to learn, you never underestimate the Chinese. For fools rush in where angels fear to tread.

Attention whores

I was bored one day and searching through people's profiles on Friendster. Coming across one profile, I was utterly amazed. Firstly, it was a girl, but that's not what was amazing. What was amazing was that this girl claimed to be a professional hacker. As in IT security consultant. And she had the looks of a model. She could have easily passed as some sort of Asian pop idol, with Singaporean, Chinese, and Japanese blood in her; she lived in Indonesia. So I was staring at her profile in disbelief thinking to myself, "Nah! She can't be a hacker!" Don't get me wrong, I know some very nice (and good-looking) women in computing science. But... she just didn't look the Trinity type, let alone a realistic hacker. Too much of an Asian pop look. I've experienced a paradigm shift and it ain't nice. Girls like Miranda do exist. My head felt like it was going to explode.

Then I had to laugh at myself, because my reaction was so stereotypical. It reminds me of the attention whore video. Hehe, and then there's the special HCW version made by Frugle. Thanks to Brucey for finding them for me. You may now classify me as a chauvinist, I suppose?

Speaking of the Matrix, did you know that the Wachowski Brothers didn't write the Matrix? Thanks to Andrew for the link. I found some discussions on the topic.

If Stewart's accusations are true that Time Warner stopped the media from reporting on this lawsuit, I think we have another bit of evidence that indie news through blogs and forums has its potential. :)

... Still thinking she couldn't have been a hacker.... But whoever said that a hacker couldn't be pretty or dress like an Asian pop star? Maybe...

Nah! :)

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Damn, you Koreans are crazy!

So said my friend after sending me this. This thing almost rivals the 2003 Japan National Yoyo Contest vid. :D I have a high-quality copy of the 2003 Japan Nats vid if anybody wants. :)

I'll make a serious post next week, I swear. :) Until then, I have something called exams. :)

edit: I found some really cool vids of the 2000 Korea National Yoyo Contest. And here's a website with some cool vids from a HK group. Hehehe.

Travel as a Canadian

I swore someone had already made this long ago. I had heard that it was a regular practice for Americans in Europe to put Canadian flags on their backpacks. Yeah, it was only hearsay, but hearsay starts somewhere, you know.

Man, if I had only known there wasn't any product already been sold, I would have made a package for export so fast...

Coulda, shoulda, woulda... bleh.

I jest.

No, not really though....

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

How IT helped the Red Sox win the World Series

At Anandtech's news page, I found a link to a fantastic (if brief and superficial) case study on how IT made the Red Sox more competitive. An excellent read if you're interested in how IT can be used in this world. Here's a quote:
The turning point of this fall's epic Boston Red Sox comeback in the American League Championship Series took place not in the ninth inning of Game 4—when Dave Roberts stole second base, putting the tying run in scoring position—but two innings earlier, when Roberts made his way from the dugout through the team's clubhouse to the weight room, where the Red Sox video command center is arrayed against the end wall.

There, Roberts asked Billy Broadbent, who handles video systems for the Red Sox, to queue up footage of New York Yankees reliever Mariano Rivera pitching from the stretch with a man on first base. Two innings later, Roberts put to good use what he had learned from the team's massive digital archive of opposing pitchers.

In The Art of War, you must know your enemy, huh? Talk about information warfare. :)

Monday, December 06, 2004

Just Two Guys

Andrew and Superman have started a joint-blog called Just Two Guys. This is because Andrew made a comment on the resurrection, with which Superman disagreed. Eventually, the discussion became large enough to warrant its own blog, and it now seems that there's another interesting website you can visit if you are interested in anything that deals with theology and Christian doctrine.

I'll start reading it after a good night's sleep, but I figured I'd link them first. I always did enjoy any conversation I had with Andrew, he tried to think things through carefully. Though I must admit, his statements on atonement through Christ were quite surprising and unexpected (to me, at least). I had always presumed that he ascribed to the same understanding of atonement through Christ as I did, mainly because I was ignorant that there was any other valid way of understanding it (there are a ton of invalid ways, of course, as with anything else); as Andrew notes, the other theories of atonement through Christ are not well-known. This should prove to be an enlightening dialogue.

Echo Star, you have green light. 10-4, I'm going in

Possibly the strangest experience I've had for the last couple of weeks. Try sneaking a large heavy object out of somebody's living room at a time past midnight, out over a balcony. Covert ops is something cool to put on your resume.

K: I want you guys to help me get rid of it.
E: Huh?
PakG1: Where you going to put it?
K: There's a bunch of old furniture being thrown out in a parking lot nearby. We'll just leave it there.
PakG1: Oh, ok.

(Two hours later, K leaves for a scouting trip)
K: (back from his scouting trip) OK, I've decided our strategy.
E: So we're supposed to go through the window?
PakG1: I suppose it won't be too much trouble. Let's do it now.
K: We'll carry it face-down, it'll be easier that way.
PakG1: I'd prefer to do it with the lights off.
L: Won't that make it look more suspicious? It's past midnight!
E: We have nothing to hide, so we shouldn't be worried about getting caught.
PakG1: Well, if we have nothing to hide, and there's no worry about what would happen if we get caught, why bother increasing our chances of getting caught anyway? I'd rather not be seen...
K: OK, we'll turn off the lights.
E: Maybe we should wear ski masks.

/L opens the sliding window door

PakG1: Dude, you gotta be kidding. That balcony looks high.
E: No, maybe we can carry it over.
PakG1: This thing??
K: One of us just needs to jump over first and then we'll pass it down that way.

/K drags large heavy object towards door, P switches off lights, and all their get shoes
/some grunting, all communication is now at whisper level

PakG1: OK, I'll jump down, and you pass it down to me.

/PakG1 jumps down and tumbles to break the fall; K and E lift large heavy object over balcony and hand it to PakG1, so that one end is in PakG1's hands, and the other end is resting on the balcony rail

E: You got it?
PakG1: Yeah.
K: OK, I'm coming down.

/K jumps over balcony rail and goes underneath object

PakG1: OK, push it out.
E: Alright.

/K and PakG1 manage to hold up the large heavy object between the two of them; E jumps down to join them, L is watching the house

K: OK, just walk that way.
PakG1: I'm walking backwards. I can't see anything.
E: Don't worry, I'm watching out for you.

/they walk, carrying the large heavy object; a car's headlights appear in the distance

E: Oh, crap, a car!
PakG1: Oh, great.
K: Walk to the garbage dumpster!
PakG1: What garbage dumpster? I'm tripping over my feet here!
E: Go that way!

/they stumble towards the garbage dumpster; the car turns to a side alley long before it reaches the group

K: OK, just keep walking.
E: Watch out at your feet! Careful!

/PakG1 almost trips and falls, but recovers

PakG1: Thanks. You're my eyes and ears, you know.
E: We're almost there. I see the furniture.
K: OK, keep walking. We'll put it over there.
PakG1: (still walking backwards) I can't see what you guys are talking about.

/they finally come to a large pile of furniture and gently put the large heavy object down to be one with the pile

K: OK, let's go.

/they arrive back at the balcony; L opens the sliding window door, and K climbs back onto the balcony first

E: What's this?

/E examines a part of the balcony rail bent out of shape, in towards the house; PakG1 also examines after climbing back onto the balcony
/E is grunting and trying to bend the iron back into place

PakG1: Here, we'll do it from this side and push it back out. If you brace yourself against the door, it should be easier.
K: No, don't, we don't want to break it! That'll be even worse, and then they'll start asking questions.
E: I got it.
PakG1: Here, seriously, push it from this side.

/PakG1 starts pushing bent part outwards; E climbs up onto balcony

K: No, just leave it.

/PakG1 accidentally pushes rail out too far, but quickly adjusts so that it is straight again

PakG1: See? That was easier.

/they go inside; L quickly closes the sliding window door and draws the blinds

E: Mission success!

/high fives all around

Saturday, December 04, 2004

Trends in IT

A little bit of everything in this post. First of all, I forgot to note in my open source post that Microsoft seemed to validate some of the advantages of open source with the introduction of their shared source strategy. Read an article about it in Fortune today and was thereby reminded about it.

Today, I am linking the artist formerly known as Locke. I had a talk with him at 4 in the morning on a street when I was 15 and it was inspirational. But in the present, he is a game coder. And I recall how he said that many at his company refused offers to switch employers to EA because EA was a coding sweatshop. Well, EA has promised changes. More and more, I think we see that corporations can't have their cake and eat it too. You always get warm fuzzy feelings when a corporation's people are put in jail for price-fixing RAM. OK, maybe not, but there is relief in that we are trying to clamp down on corruption. But back to IT labour economics. The hours are s especially horrible in the coding profession, whether you work at EA or not. Despite not working at EA, Locke was telling me for the first few weeks how much compsci grads in general got shafted. :D I scream at the poor guy whenever I see him online at midnight...

PakG1: Don't tell me you're at work coding...
Locke: Yeah...

When you bring your sleeping bag to work, there is something seriously wrong there. But at least he's enjoying his job now, it seems. :)

The thing about EA coders and artists, they should at least be happy that their jobs aren't in danger. I had a long conversation with Minna one night about the automation of certain types of IT work. My opinions from that conversation still stand, although I don't think we actually disagreed with each other anyway (except on an emotional level). Let's face it, if you do administrative work, your work can be easily broken down into an algorithm and thereby replicated by a computer. You add no value when you're just an algorithm. The day when cashiers are unnecessary will be a sad day for many people who can't do much else, but it's inevitable, especially with the future filled with RFIDs. Excuse me if I seem cold. But you need to be able to create value, and that only comes from creativity; until weak AI is able to replicate the creativity of the human mind, only creativity, analysis, and design jobs will be safe. And it will be a LONG time before weak AI reaches that level of sophistication. However, this is not meant to be an analysis of Communist vs Capitalist systems. For now, suffice it to say that humans don't give themselves enough credit for creativity.

Speaking of AI, does anyone find this scary? Terminator, The Matrix, I, Robot, and many other movies all follow the same thesis: humanity builds infrastructure, infrastructure all automated machinery with AI, AI turns on humans. We should learn a lesson here. Q.E.D. Regarding other issues, I am not qualified to discuss the ethics of using robots in war. But when was I qualified to discuss anything anyway? So let's sidetrack a bit and discuss. It seems really unfair that one nation will have to risk the lives of their brave men and women to shoot at machines, while the soldiers of the other nation hide back in the bunker. I understand that the safety of the troops and success of a mission is always a primary goal, and technology already exists that gives a huge advantage to specific Western nations, but using robots really seems to overstep a boundary. One nation risks lives, the other doesn't. Something just doesn't smell right here.... I wonder what my friends in the US Army have to say about this subject.

But back to IT. Well, two quick things of note before I jump to the main course. This has to be the most innovative cell phone service option I've ever seen for a long time. I don't get drunk myself, but I've been with people who are drunk, and it's not a pretty sight. You learn things you JUST DON'T WANT TO KNOW. Toronto scarred my life, amcal. :p So I can imagine that many customers will be using this service feature in the future. As well, eBay has gone ballistic and let people advertise for specific stuff they want to buy. Now there's an interesting idea. I have no idea how the logistics would work out though; can you imagine how many people will be wanting to post ads? With that many ads posted, seriously, what's the probability that your ad will be viewed? I suppose somebody's BOUND to view it sooner or later, whatwith all the traffic that eBay gets. But still, it seems that the pool of prospected sellers is severely bottlenecked by the number of buyers.

OK, the news that made me want to write this post in the first place. Drum roll, please.

IBM is selling their PC division.

Well, it's about time! Let's face it, anybody who's stupid or crazy enough to stick around in the PC market has either mind-blowing inventory turnover (cough, Dell, cough) or red ink up the wazoo. PCs are no longer where it's at. Consumers don't need PCs anymore in the same way they used to need to the technology. Now it's just another appliance, a necessary commodity. Market maturity peaked a little while ago, I think, if it hasn't peaked already.

IBM is one of the companies for which I have a huge amount of respect. You know what their name stands for? International Business Machines. They originally made typewriters. Then the PC came along, which wiped away the typewriter industry, but they were able to adapt and take advantage of the next wave. Then the PC market got saturated, but they were already into servers. Then consulting was getting a good boom, and they were smart enough to get almagamate consulting efforts with their server business. And now they're getting into life sciences. IBM's ability to see, interpret, and take advantage of the future never ceases to amaze me. Of course, they've had their screw-ups, like thinking that the money was in the hardware they were making, and not signing an exclusive contract with Bill Gates. But IBM knows when it's time to change and has never feared doing so. I like that. I really can't stand fear of change.

Really. It bugs me.