April 1999

When good Goth's go bad...

    I thought with all the media hype surrounding the school shootings in Colorado, I should help out Fox and pitch them a new TV series... When good Goths go bad! It would fit in really well with their current line up of 'When good [insert topic here] goes bad' shows, and it's very topical! Let me elaborate first on my thoughts about this incident... Sure, it's bad, no one wants crap like this to happen, but get over it! I mean, there's this thing going on in Kosovo, you know? I think more than 15 people died there, and it might be a little more important than some Goths cracking and going on a killing spree. Sure, it's a more 'marketable' concept for the evening news, I mean, c'mon! This war things gone on for, like, 30 days almost! It's getting boring, it's a good thing someone went crazy, or I'd have to stop watching the news!
    I particularly enjoy watching the media in times like these... First, they over-analyze EVERYTHING, and anything that isn't 'normal' is most certainly the cause... Why, did you know these kids listened to music from Germany? FROM GERMANY! And it was in GERMAN! There's clearly something wrong with that... And they played this really violent game called Doom, and they even made their own levels... That certainly is the cause of this - They must have lost all grasp on reality because of Doom, and thought they were playing a game. Why, Doom even has pipebombs, just like they used... Oh, wait, I guess that's Duke Nuke'm... But hey, that's violent too! That clearly played a role as well... One of the suspects even had a Website, and you know what's on the internet, don't you? Why, nothing but porn and hate stuff! Look, if I search for porn and hate at Altavista, all it returns is bad stuff, and it says there's 1,349,670 site that have that! That's like the whole internet! And the media... Well, YOU know about the media...
    This is where it really get's fun, because the media feeding frenzy slows down about now, and they begin to realize that THEY are part of the media, and heaven forbid that anyone think they might be to blame. Soo, they all launch these investigative reports, exposing media for what it is; and surprise! It really isn't that bad! Yeah, that's it, it must just be movies and games, but certainly the news has nothing to do with it. Give me a break! That's like asking kids in school to grade their own papers - what do you mean, I didn't find anything wrong with my answers.
    That being said, the real question about this whole mess that I think about is this - What about the rest of this so called 'Trenchcoat Mafia'? I mean, there were more members, right? How screwed would that be, to have to attend school after this happened, and you were one of them? And they thought they were picked on before... But who knows, maybe after this, people will think twice before messing with them... hmmm, probably not. What I really can't believe is when they talk about whether or not these other mafia members knew what was going on... Yeah, sure they did. If I was in high school, and one of my friends said he was going to blow up the school, and go on a killing rampage, I don't think I would take it too seriously. Even if he showed me bombs and guns, I still wouldn't buy it... It's just crazy. And that's the key word - CRAZY. No one's going to understand why they did it, or what they were thinking, or anything, because, guess what, they were crazy. Sane people normally don't go around gunning down people they don't like, at least not too often, and when they do, it's usually a heat-of-the-moment kind of thing; not a "let's build bombs and plant them all over the school and get guns " sort of thing.
    Could this have been avoided? Who knows, but my guess is probably not... Is this going to become a more common occurrence? I don't think it's going to become common, but I think it's going to happen periodically. Is there anything we can do to stop this sort of thing? I'm sure there is, but we will probably never be willing to do it. I mean, you can do anything you really want to, if you're willing to pay the price... If we kept kids inside of little cages, like the cows we make veal from, then this sort of thing would never happen. Is that a viable solution? No, but it's all a balancing act between how much you have to inconvenience yourself vs. the severity of the crime. There always has been crazy people in the world, there are crazy people in the world right now, and you know what? Crazy people are going to do things like this over and over again.

Technological Reincarnation

    Once again a commercial inspires a ramble... This time it's Mercedes Benz, and their commercial called 'Art'. I have to deviate from the main thought of this ramble for just a second to point out how bizarre it is that they titled it! I almost think it would be akin to seeing a Miller commercial, where at the end it says 'Beer' by blah blah; but we all know how renowned Mercedes is in breaking the status quo, right? Anyway, for those of you who haven't seen the commercial, it's your normal car commercial, in some sort of shiny clean industrial space, and sometimes on the all-to-clean factory floor, where world famous artists walk around and admire their car.
    In principle, it's very similar to all of those other commercials that use some person who was unfortunate to be famous and recognizable, and make it appear as if he's endorsing their product, whether it be Coke or a vacuum cleaner. While pondering how wonderful I thought it was to see the people who don't represent commercialism (until they're dead), being portrayed in the most commercial way possible, it struck me what this really is... Reincarnation!
    Ok, so it isn't reincarnation in the strictest definition, but I think it's just the first step... Think about it. In the past, if you wrote something famous, then you lived on through your work. Of course, people always want to know more about the person who did the original work, and will research and investigate until they have exhausted just about all the credible sources, and some questionable ones as well. Now, as our memories grow shorter, and our famous people lived closer to our time, and thus in a more technological environment, more of who they were survives (that's why Plato wasn't in the commercial, but I guess he really wasn't an artist). So, we figured out how to manipulate old film, to make it appear as if someone is doing something that they're not, and even taken it one step further and portrayed people who were never filmed in a believable manner.
    Now this is really a bummer, since I think most people upon reincarnation as a pretty positive experience (except for that whole dying part), but how would you feel if you knew you were going to be reincarnated just to make commercials for brillo pads, or Rolaids? Can you imagine? It would be like taking the Wright brothers, and saying "You did a great job at that whole airplane thing, now we have something new for you." and then setting them up to sell tickets to some new Disney ride that featured airplanes. What would Van Gogh think if he could see himself depicted as admiring the 'artistic' qualities of some car? For some strange reason, I don't think it's what he would like to be remembered for... Maybe Henry Ford might like that, but probably only if it was a Ford he was admiring...

Fan Defined

    I realized something the other day; I am not a fan. Not a fan of what, you ask? Really, anything... It's not that I don't like anything, it's just that I'm not very interested in the details of just what that 'anything' is, you know? It struck me when I was chatting with a friend of mine, who is always up on what's happening in the movie scene; not just what has been released, but what's being made, by whom, what problems they've run into, etc. It's interesting, because I do like hearing the details, but I usually don't remember them for too long, and I certainly wouldn't go out and seek them myself.
    When I came to this realization, I also came to know that I really wasn't a fan of any bands as well. Now don't get me wrong, I obviously love music, and I spend a great deal of time thinking about, listening, and writing music; but I don't know much about the band. Case in point, I really used to listen to Devo, they were one of my staple bands when I was growing up, and I know the lyrics to many of their songs by heart... They are one of the few bands that I even come close to being a 'fan' of, but that's about all I know about them. I know that Mark Motherbaugh (I'm not even sure if that's spelled right) was in it, and now makes commercial tunes, but I couldn't name one other person in the band. Another example would be Oingo Boingo, I listened to them all the time as well, and I know that Danny Elfman was in it, and is now doing commercial stuff, like the theme song for the Simpsons and the movie Batman, but that's taxing the limits of my knowledge about them. Now, these are the exceptions, and certainly not the rule; I usually don't even know the names of any of the members.
    In contrast, my friend usually knows the names of most, if not all, the members of almost any given band that I'm interested in, where they're from, what they're doing, and side projects, you name it. It's handy for me, since even if I did get inspired enough to want to know what someone's doing, I usually just need to ask him.
    So what's the point of this? Nothing really, just the output of some personal reflection... But the interesting thing is to ask yourself the same questions. How much do you know about your favorite band? Or your favorite movie? Or your favorite star? Do you fall into the same category as my friend, or are you similar to me? If the later, then do you consider yourself to be a fan?

Become Y2K Certified - NOW!

    Unlike most of my rambles, which of course are timeless classics, this one expires in oh, around 8 or 9 months, so make sure to read it while you still can! Now, I must state that I do think that the Y2K issue is a valid one, and I'm sure that it is going to cause problems on some level, but it most certainly will not be some sort of cataclysmic disaster where airplanes plummet out of the skies and oil tankers spontaneously combust out on the open seas... But, of course, that's not what some places would have you believe. Let's take a look at on in particular; a very reputable firm called The CyberTech Institute , pretty impressive name, eh? Really high-tech sounding. Anyway, they offer a much needed certification, that of the "Y2K Administrator", which they describe as " understanding the Y2K problem and what it means to a company; and understanding compliance." Now, to do my part, I am offering the same program, but not at the price of $95 that TechnoCyberVirtual Enabling-Institute (God, can you believe any company could call themselves CyberTech and keep a straight face? I mean, it's not nearly as impressive as AnalogX, but that's a different story), I'm offering my certification for free, just keep reading.     Let's deal with the first part of the description, "understanding the Y2K problem", here goes; the Year 2000 problem (or Y2K for short) is a lame design limitation made by programmers who forgot to store more than two digits for the year. So, if you have only two digits, then 1999 is 99, and 2000 is 00 - OOOPS! 00 is less than 99! Enter the domain of the unknown... Since no two programs are the same, who knows what's going to happen, and if anyone tells you that they know without testing first, they are an idiot. It's a bug, it's a condition that the programmers didn't anticipate, and as such, it's almost impossible to guess what might happen. So, the problem simply put is that the computer is expecting the date to be increasing, ie getting larger, and as mentioned above, the year 2000 looks like it's moving down, not good.
    Ok, now let's deal with "what it means to a company". Boiled down to it's simplest terms, it means that your computers or some other misc hardware might not work. Now, contrary to a wild popular misconception, it's pretty unlikely your car or toaster or microwave is not going to work. You want to know why? Simple, does your car know the time? What about day? Or even year? It probably doesn't... At best it may have a clock in it, which is a totally isolated system; you toaster and microwave are the same way. Could you loose all of your companies data? Sure, if you're an idiot, and do something lame like when the computer doesn't boot up on New Years Day, 2000, you decided to throw it out your 11th floor office window. This, of course, is assuming you don't keep backups also. At VERY worst, you will have to set the date on your computer to some pre-2000 year, and continue on from there. About the only really inconvenient thing that can happen is if some software package you run, like your database, only stores 2 digits for the year. But let me give you a word of advice, if your database manufacturer has this problem, this year, then it's just the tip of the iceberg, and you should dump ANY software written by them like a hot potato.     Well, I must say you're doing very well, and you're almost a certified Y2K technician, but now comes the most difficult part; "understanding compliance". Now, this is really a redundant point, since if you actually understand the problem, it stands to reason that you probably understand what it means to not have the problem, so let's take it one step further, and discover how you can test for the problem. I can't go into all the details, since it's incredibly technical, and has taken the worlds top scientist years to uncover this technique of Y2K testing, but it's 100%! Are you ready? Good! Reboot your computer, and set the date to, oh, today's date, with the year of 2000... Reboot your machine; does Windows start up? Well, if it doesn't, then it probably means you're running on a Mac, and Mac's run MacOS; neither of these OS's should have a problem (unless you're running Windows 1.0, on an 8088). If it doesn't boot up, or you couldn't even set the date to 2000, then your motherboard probably has the problem, and you'll need to shell out $80 or so and buy a new one (your CPU, memory, and everything else in the system is probably fine). Now, if your machine did boot up, try running the programs... Every one that runs, you can stamp on a big Y2K-compliant stamp! Once you've completed your rigorous testing, just set your date back and voila, you're done.
    Congratulations! You're now an official Y2K Administrator! You've graduated from one of the most challenging and highly respected institutions in the field of software development and testing! Tell all your friend, they're bound to be impressed! Next time you're at a club, try telling someone there that you know all about Y2K, but don't be surprised if they want you to come home with them! Yes, you're part of the elite few who truly understands the truth about the year 2000... If you think that was fun, just wait until 2038...