Friday, June 29, 2001

Exhibitionists Anonymous

Hello, my name is Rich Miller, and I'm an exhibitionist.

Hi, Rich.

I must be, or else I wouldn't be pirouetting for all to see on a blog, writing snatches of iffy prose and weepy poetry. But hey, why not? Sarah's question was Flight or Invisibility; I'd have to go for flight, since I'm already pretty invisible. Besides, assuming the Godlike Perspective is a near hobby for me these days. Check out Black and White, my current video game of choice.

It's humbling to realize once you have to go into the wide world alone that attention only comes where you go out and get it. So dance, fool, dance. I am Pagliacci. :-)


Thursday, June 28, 2001

How shall I start my day?
Seems I should get out of bed first,
But there's nothing waiting at the office,
And no one whose welfare spurs me to the office;
I longed to soar, to create, to excel,
But for now the bedsheets hold me,
Offering warmth at least,
Recalling softness and welcome
And the possibility
Of remembering the outline
Of the shadow
Of a better dream.
In an introspective, somewhat morbid space this morning. Thinking about Jennifer, endings and beginnings, the shortness of pet life and all the myriad things working against us every day in the name of Entropy. About a good friend whose cancer is safely in remission, and the fact that I probably won't even know Jennifer's address when I eventually go, someday.

Like I said, morbid.

It's early summer, and I should have birds, trees, sunshine and amour on the brain, but no such luck. I'd much rather have overcast days with stiff wind, light rain and preferably ocean surf thrashing some rocks nearby - that's always been my preferred environ, and as such I get precious little of it here in Richmond. Temperature in the low 60s; like Ragnarok could come any minute. Me and Odin, baby, playing "keep-away" from Thor with Mjolnir. Guess I should move to Juneau or Reykjavik or something. :-)

I walk deliberately in the coarse gray sand, Atlantic wind in my hair and beard as I make my daily peace with the shore. Ahead of me gulls scream and squabble over the remains of a crab that wandered out for its perfect moment. Towers and battlements of cloud fill the sky, and the sun cowers at the eastern horizon, no more than a milky smudge on the overcast.

The surf pounds the coast as ever, gathering and expending its strength eight thousand times a day. Spray from the latest clash blows around me as chill foam pours into my footprints, and I pause and hold that brine-laden breath for a moment. I feel timeless, somehow exempt from the erosion of life as sand shifts and washes around my feet.

Cool. Sounds like the beginning of a book.


Wednesday, June 27, 2001

The next season of BattleBots starts July 10th. Yes, I'm excited.


Another step toward realtime raytracing

Just finished reading a Tech Report review of the new GeForce3 graphics card from NVIDIA. Of particular interest to me was this page, which has some terminally spiffy screenshots (larger versions are available by clicking the page's thumbnail images) of a demo program NVIDIA released that showcases some of the GF3's capabilities. Worry not about the language of the article; it's in fluent technoid, with a depth and specificity that I find hard to parse, and I've been following this tech for a few years now. Focus on the pictures to see my point.

The subject of these pics is a chameleon, and when perusing the screenshots remember that each of them was rendered for real-time display, i.e. in less than 1/30th of a second. Those who have any experience with 3D videogaming know what sort of quality is usually reserved for the 30-frames-per-second treatment.

The caveat here (TANSTAAFL) is that the demo is a program optimized to display this exact scene, and tuned to pretty much max out the card it's designed for. Detail like this won't be in games for a while yet (and we won't exactly be seeing Shrek or its ilk rendered in the time required to watch it anytime soon), but the fact that this sort of visual detail is possible, even seen through a very specific and highly optimized "window" like this demo, is very exciting to me.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: it's a great time to be a geek. :-)


I just got done with today's Penny Arcade (beware, the site's slow today due to all the attention), and discovered that controversy had been boiling around Scott McCloud's last "I Can't Stop Thinking!" installment, and that Tycho (one of PA's proprietors) had lampooned its ideas about micropayments with this comic and then crapped all over it with this rant.

Bummer. At least Scott took the opportunity to respond (and Tycho responded in kind with a sort of pouty mea culpa), but on the whole this episode gives me a funny feeling in the pit of my stomach, like watching parents squabble over making rent or something. It could be that I've just got too much invested in online comics, but ever since reading Understanding Comics for the first time in '93 or so, and then beginning to collect links to online comix (like Penny Arcade, which was coincidentally the first OLC I discovered, back in the day), I've been excited about where comics as an art form were going. One of my potential careers coming out of high school was that of comic-book artist, so the issue is near and dear to me in ways that go back a few years, despite my having drifted away from sketching and paper-comic-collecting.

It's understandable that many are hurting in the wake of the Internet bubble's having burst, and certainly looking failure in the eye regarding supporting oneself through doing work one loves is wrenching. But many web-cartoonists like Scott Kurtz are doing just fine, thanks, and I don't think it's through compromising his artistic integrity or anything like that.

So anyway, Sturm und Drang in the online comics world. A tempest in a teapot? Certainly, in a world afflicted with AIDS, hardship and danger. But when one claims a little emotional ownership of the teapot in question, the tempests rate more attention.

Finished reading Scott McCloud's book Understanding Comics in one sitting for the umpteenth time. I love this guy. He gets me in the mood to create, just like reading any significant amount of Orson Scott Card or Anne Rice. People who are so good at the craft that they inspire people like me to experiment and perhaps pursue a higher calling in life.

Oh BTW, here's Scott's website, wherein he talks about webcomics and their direction and impact on the world of art. Cool stuff. His "I Can't Stop Thinking!" series is especially good.


Tuesday, June 26, 2001

Have put up a new blog: "Rachael's Odyssey." It chronicles the HTPC conversion that I mentioned two entries ago, so I won't post any more technical and boring stuff about it here unless I really want to. ;-)

Another friend of mine, Hunter, mentioned that I'd left a very deserving game-related webcomic off the earlier list. Here it is: Penny Arcade. Be warned, the strip's authors have been known to use Naughty Words(tm) in their comics and posts from time to time, and their site is frequently bogged from the intense number of visitors the site gets daily.

Two days in a row with postings - careful, this might become a habit or something.

Seems my pal Tripp put together a blog as well. This is taking on a sort of double-dare-ya aspect; have you updated your blog today?

One of my little habits includes checking about twenty webcomics on a regular basis. Here's a partial list for the neophyte:

User FriendlySluggy Freelance
PvP MagazineKevin and Kell
General Protection FaultAngst Technology
Demise Comics BOOMSLANGMegaTokyo
Spaz LabsCool Cat Studio
Sabrina Online

I've come to regard parsing my daily queue of webcomics as a morning ritual; it's good for exercising the funny bone ahead of the day. Some are just a daily gag, others encompass long interlacing storylines, others fall in between with weekly story arcs and the like. Enjoy!

Anything else going on today? Oh yeah, Chiropractor appointment tonight, nothing like carrying around the equivalent of a Doberman around the middle to play havoc with the old vertebrae.

Further bulletins as events warrant,


Monday, June 25, 2001

Ha! Fake out. I decided to go ahead and post some more once I got home. Ah, the wonders of our connected world.

Lest anyone think that I concern myself solely with the idea of dating and/or sex, I want to reassure the world at large that it's only 97% or so of my energy that is focused on such things. 98% tops. ;-)

No, I'm the type that needs a project or two going to keep myself occupied. My projects tend to run to the esoteric and highly technical.

For example, I'm currently the proud owner of two TiVo personal video recorders (PVRs), which can be thought of as VCRs that contain a few searchable weeks of TV Guide data and immense hard disks instead of VHS tapes to record upon. I'm also building a specialized computer that will perform many of the same functions as a TiVo, but which is built from off-the-shelf parts and special software, making it more easily customizable and expandable as time goes on.

The software I'm looking most closely at using to drive the whole process is ShowShifter, which has the benefits of both an enthusiastic, small development team and a price of about thirty bucks. :-) ShowShifter is developed in the UK, and as such the native support for US guide data is sketchy, but should improve through their support of DigiGuide, another UK company that is a few months away from expanding into the US.

Let's see... Other ways I spend my time. Well, I watch stuff that my TiVos have recorded for me a lot (finally working my way through Babylon 5 after all these years), and of course the dogs and cat take up a goodly bit of time.

In short, not a whole bunch. I'm rebuilding my life as I see fit, and trying not to hurry about things too much.

Bis spater,

So let's see. This is likely to be a record for posterity (or until or goes out of business), so I suppose I should provide some personal context.

My name's Rich Miller, and as of this writing I'm 31 years old and abruptly single. The divorce was final back in February of this year, and as such I find myself free and clear in the wonderful world of dating. Not.

As it happens, the world of male/female relationships is a thorny one for me, both in terms of my own proclivities (shy and slightly mistrustful around anything femaler than I am) and apparently in terms of society as a whole. There are precious few mechanisms out there for meeting "available" (lovely word) members of the opposite sex that don't do double-duty as meat markets.

There's certainly a part of me that would love to just shake my groove thang and start plying the waters of surface-level relationships and casual nocturnal gymnastics, but so far I seem to be made of either sterner or meeker stuff than is necessary for participation.

And so in the meantime I am enjoying the unfettered single-male lifestyle, and that means toys, toys, toys. I'm a serious gadget freak, and it shows in my spending priorities: computers, big TV, all sorts of video and audio gear, a rent-a-couch and a few folding chairs. :-)

I also live with two biggish dogs and a cat, who are at this moment awaiting their dinner.

And thus I bid the blog world Auf Wiedersehen, and sign off until the morning.

OK, got some interesting links over at left, as well as my e-mail address (silly me!). More to come, of course...
Well! In true copycat fashion I'm following the example of Sarah Jersild [her blog] and creating my own weblog, aka "blog."

To anyone who's new here, welcome to the panfull of brain squeezin's that is my first attempt at a blog. I may well make extensive modifications to this first effort, but for now this will do.

I've been meaning to do a blog thing ever since I heard that the animal that is actually had a classification, that of "weblog," and that many other intrepid web-users had hit upon the idea nearly simultaneously: a periodic, public forum in which to post stuff that the blog maintainer finds nifty.

So it remains to be seen whether I'll be diligent enough to make this blog worth the hard drive space it occupies, but for the moment it seems very new and exciting.

I hope there's some way that people can write in commentary for a given entry a la Slashdot, but if not I'll deal with it somehow. :-)