Archives for December 2004

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revisiting the caltrans building

The LA Times today comes back to the Caltrans building, talking about how some occupants think the fancy exterior led to skimping on the inside. I have heard that before, that the project's limited budget led to the bulk of the design money going into the shell of the building, leaving little imagination to the office space inside. I don't really have a take on the water fountain situation... If Caltrans is giving people free bottled water that seems fine, but I don't really know what the case is. I haven't taken much opportunity to come back and address the Caltrans building now that it's occupied... — Continue Reading...

is santa bringing more money?

Blogging on Christmas? About actual news? Tisk tisk... Oh well.

The LA Times today has an article on neighborhood council spending. It paints a (favorable) picture of how councils use their money, and quotes several council members who say that the system needs more funding. That's a complicated issue.

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merry christmas

It's Christmas here, though I know those of you on the west coast have a couple more hours until the calendar flips over (and indeed the timestamp on this post will be Dec. 24). I still have to wrap two presents and finish up one more, but other than that I'm set.

Being back here in the snow and the cold really does remind me just how glad I am to be out in warm California. Say what you want about the place, but the weather is tough to top. The snow I just had to brush off the car tells me it's going to be a white Christmas (well, as does the snow already on the ground and the forecast high of 21). I'll take that, for a week or two, but as soon as possible I'll be back on that plane headed to LA, where tomorrow it's supposed to be 67.

All I want for Christmas is for the MTA to understand that NextBus is a really cool thing, and that not all of its buses run so frequently that it's not needed. I've just missed the 38 a few too many times for me to believe you on that one...

an honor and an anniversary

I've spent most of the day today battling eThreads2, working on comments support and a couple other things I want to roll back out ASAP. Comments are getting really close... I still need to figure out a couple things, but I'm really hoping to have them up for Christmas.

Jonah over at LA Blogs named this blog one of the Notable Blogs - 2004. I join the other commenters on that post in saying that I really don't deserve the distinction. I've always figured I was the majority of my readership; I can't tell you how many times I've "remembered" something by looking up what I wrote about it here...

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almost there

I'm sitting in the Detroit airport right now, taking full advantage advantage of the wireless access I paid $7 for. We're here about two hours, though, so it's really not that bad of a deal. The flight LA -> Detroit was good, though the Northwest food was nothing to be happy about (a very dry sandwich, a tiny bag of chips, an apple, and a little water).

I spent most of the flight working on some eThreads2 stuff, and I think ended up confusing myself more than actually accomplishing much.

always missing something...

I hate that last minute panic of trying to figure out if you've remembered everything you need to take on a trip. Normally I forget my phone charger, but that's already packed. I need to doublecheck that I grab both my wifi and bluetooth cards, but other than that I can't think of anything I'm missing at the moment.

And that worries me. I'm always missing something...

But for now all there is to do is throw on some RL Burnside, pack up the last bits, and get ready to head downstairs.

Update (10:35): Of course, right after I wrote this I remembered two things I had forgotten. Those are now taken care of.

back, but not for long

I have to be quick this morning, since it's 8:35, I leave for the airport in two hours, and I haven't packed...

The trip to Vegas was good. Traffic especially agreed with us; both trips were around 4.5 hours.

Now I have to empty my bag and pack my suitcase all at the same time. And then I have to go take care of getting a check to the place where I park since I won't be around for the first couple days of the new month.

I'll have ample Internet access (and will likely be using my computer for warmth... high of 13 on Friday), so no downtime this time.

and i'm out

It's going to be quiet here for a few days. Kathy and I are headed to Vegas for a few days to meet up with some of the people she spent a semester in France with, and Vegas and I don't seem to get along when it comes to finding free internet. It seems the Tropicana has it poolside, but I'm not too convinced I feel the urge to make it all the way there just for that. I'll be bringing the laptop to maybe pound on eThreads2 stuff in the downtime, but I have a feeling it won't be connecting up with the outside world.

Then Tuesday I fly back to Michigan for just over two weeks. It'll be my first trip back in a year. I can't say I'm looking forward to the weather, but it's always good to take a trip back to family.

I just hope the wind stays down tomorrow. Otherwise the mountains could get exciting.

understanding cd piracy

The Daily News today has a story talking about a big raid yesterday on cd counterfeiters (the LA Times has a short bit on the same topic). The numbers claimed in the story are pretty big:

In the largest counterfeit movie and music bust in U.S. history, pirated DVDs, CDs and video games representing potential losses of $200 million to companies were confiscated Wednesday in raids in Los Angeles and Orange counties, officials said. ... In Wednesday's raids, law enforcement officials seized approximately 120,000 music CDs and 79 unauthorized CD stampers valued at approximately $50 million, according to the RIAA's preliminary estimates.

Now, I'm never one to trust the numbers the RIAA, MPAA, or the software industry like to put out for losses. They never miss a chance to drum things up. That said, this is exactly the type of piracy that they need to be stopping.

One thing in the article caught my attention...

"Each stamper has the capability of producing more than 50,000 CDs and DVDs," Lopez said. "We're talking about every kind of music and video you can think of. The quality of this merchandise was very high." ... Spertus said the investigation, culminating a lengthy undercover operation, was particularly difficult because the probe focused on companies with stampers capable of producing a disc every three seconds.

I know vaguely the difference between stamping and burning, but the article makes it sound like the stamper is a piece of machinery. So I did a little googling. I found several good sites explaining the cd making process (this site is one, though a little technical). Basically these stampers are negative plates that are inserted into stamping machines in order to get the proper data onto the disk. You need a negative, obviously, since a ridge on the stamper will put a pit in the cd, etc.

So these "79 stampers" are really just 79 metal plates. Still illegal, but a lot less massive-sounding.

Fortress Medici/Orsini

Over at herbie the love blog (why am I so boring at naming?), kenny has good piece on the fortresses that are the Medici and Orsini.

There are a pair of luxury apartment buildings in downtown LA, with more on the way, built to look like vaguely Italian-type buildings, except that they're massive castles. They're impenetrable from the outside except for the small openings for visitor parking (where visitors can't actually park, unless they're there to see a leasing agent). A couple of my friends live in such buildings. Let's call them The Medici and The Orsini, because those are the silly, pretentious names that they actually have.

I have friends who live in both buildings, but I've never actually been inside them. I've walked and driven by, though, and definitely agree with the analysis of their street presence.

(Thanks to Jonah and the great LABlogs digests for the pointer)

ok, paper's up: Gaming in the Metaverse

I just put the HTML version of my paper "Gaming in the Metaverse" up in verbal intercourse (there's a much more readable PDF version there as well). This is the cause of my current tiredness and lack of sleep, but I'm happy with the outcome. Here's the thesis, for you to scan before deciding the paper's not worth reading.

While Second Life provides a fascinating platform for study and experimentation, inherent limitations in the programming model seem to dictate that for now its in-world creations will be unable to match up to dedicated games.

Now that I'm done with that, Second Life can actually be a game.

everybody's talking subway again

So apparently while I was snowed under working on my project the MTA had some discussions about future subway building on Monday. An LA Times article from yesterday about busway funding included a good bit on subway talks. Tom LaBonge is the one who's really doing the pushing right now.

I agree that it's proper for the MTA to pursue making sure all its options are open. Light rail has done some good things in LA, but there are going to be corridors in Los Angeles that can not be serviced via a ground-level mode. The expansion down Wilshire to the west is just such a corridor. Whereas you can run the Expo Line down a former rail right-of-way, you don't have that option on the highly dense Wilshire corridor.

And that's why I absolutely disagree with Gloria Molina's contention that westside subway expansion is racist. The eastside Gold Line extension will run about 6 miles, and the budget is listed at a touch under $900 million. That's about half the cost, or double the length, of the similarly priced plan to extend the Red Line 3 miles to Wilshire/Fairfax. Of that 6 miles, 2 is in fact subway. If I'm on the eastside I'm just happy that I'm getting something built in the current funding climate.

Subway, thanks to its costs, is currently relegated to a solution of last resort in the city of Los Angeles. That's life. Push for full grade separation before you fight for subway.