Archive for September, 2004

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A Guide to Digital Photography

September 30, 2004

PC Magazine Online has posted an excellent guide to using digital camera features to take great photographs that go beyond point-and-click.

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Why Is Doug Posting Something About My Little Pony?

September 22, 2004

Follow this link, courtesy of Christine Bennett, and you will see what can be done with a My Little Pony.

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Online [PC/Video] Gaming: An Industry Name Finally “Gets” It

September 20, 2004

From this article at Reuters:

The new platforms are expected to offset what Florin [Gerhard Florin, Electronic Arts’ head of European publishing] sees as a disappointing early start for online gaming. The prospect of amassing a core of gamers who pay a monthly subscription to battle other global combatants on the Internet has yet to take off.

Florin attributed the slow take-up to a nagging fear that a gamer could be humiliated in challenging an unknown foe.

“We expected millions of people wanting to play the online games and we have found that, no, they don’t. There is a pretty easy reason. If you play tennis and you don’t know your opponent you are careful whether you should play against him. The same is true with online. If you go online you could be slaughtered or cheated,” he said.

Overcoming the social aspect of online gaming, he added, will hold back the market in the short term.

I think this is probably the most frustrating thing in online gaming. It is almost impossible to win (other than when I am playing with a known group of friends), because those who do game online tend to be those who spend far too much time gaming online. So it isn’t that one might be humiliated, it’s that one will be humiliated. Of course, years ago I was beaten at Command and Conquer by an eight-year-old. When one throws in “unsportsmanlike behavior”—everything from player-killers to abusive language—as well as lag time and trouble keeping a connection to many servers, the appeal of single-player games is obvious.

I do like to play against human opponents. My son John is very challenging, especially at WarCraft III, but our skills are near enough that I can beat him when I really work at it. When I play with Isaac and David we either team up against computer-AI-driven opponents or give them one or more computer partners to help balance things out (except in the Jedi Knight series, where David needs no help). Overall, though, it is rare that online gaming is very fulfilling to the average gamer.

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Family Photos Have Arrived!

September 16, 2004

    

They’re unretouched, they’re great examples of how difficult it is to get six people to look good at the same instant of time, and they’re here, at the Wilcox Family Photo page.

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Farewell to Connie Nordahl

September 14, 2004

I am sorry to learn that Connie Nordahl passed on (as she would have said), on Sunday, September 5, 2004. Connie was the original owner of WordSmith, a transcription and typesetting service in South Weymouth, Massachusetts; as such, she was my first boss in Desktop Publishing. (Eventually, I bought out most of the business, which became WordSmith Digital Document Services.)

Working for Connie was very helpful to my computer career; indeed, working at WordSmith provided many skills and opportunities that became foundational to what I am doing today (Java programming and Web development). When I ever get around to my page to honor “people who have helped me in life,” Connie will have an important place.

A few weeks ago, I started writing an e-mail because I’d read my first book by P.D. James, one of her favorite authors. Unfortunately, I never finished and sent it. I will also miss having someone who always agreed with strict grammatical rules.

A memorial service will be held at the Lutheran House of Prayer in Hingham (916 Main St., Route 228), at 3:00 PM on Saturday, September 18, 2004.

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Fahrenheit 9/11 Does Not Even Deserve the Dubious-Yet-Ubiquitous Description “Based on a True Story”

September 9, 2004

See this article at Slate for an unusually detailed (for a Web article) look at the highly controversial leftist propaganda piece. Here is an excerpt:

To describe this film as dishonest and demagogic would almost be to promote those terms to the level of respectability. To describe this film as a piece of crap would be to run the risk of a discourse that would never again rise above the excremental. To describe it as an exercise in facile crowd-pleasing would be too obvious. Fahrenheit 9/11 is a sinister exercise in moral frivolity, crudely disguised as an exercise in seriousness. It is also a spectacle of abject political cowardice masking itself as a demonstration of “dissenting” bravery.

… And I thought the end of the Cold War had also brought an end to the great age of propaganda!

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What If They Opened a Highway, and Nobody Came?

September 3, 2004

Yesterday the slowpokes widening Route 3 announced the first section to have all three lanes (and two shoulders) opened, which was Route 3 northbound, between Drum Hill (Route 4) and the New Hampshire border.

I was very pleased, as I usually go home by driving up to Drum Hill through Chelmsford side roads to get onto Route 3, rather than trying to go through the four-lanes-becoming-two-lanes nightmare currently at the 495 interchange.

So, I got the e-mail notice yesterday, but discovered that almost no one was actually using the newly-opened right lane. I guess that most people did not know the lane was opened, and definitely did not know that it was open all the way to New Hampshire.

In a related effect, we have been waiting all summer for the paving to be finished over the railroad grade crossing in Nashua that is on our way to church in Litchfield. The grade crossing was in such a bad condition that any speed over about 1 MPH would virtually guarantee significant damage to one’s vehicle. Well, a few days ago, they finally finished the top coat paving, making the grade crossing passable for the first time in months. However, people are so conditioned to driving over it at extremely slow speeds, that they are still doing so.