Friday, November 24, 2006

There's cruel, and there's army cruel...

"You want some water? Keep running."

This is undoubtedly the cruelest thing I have seen in a long time. I'm ashamed to be from the same country as these guys...

Who wants an Xbox 360 for $100?

As many of you probably know (the event was highly publicized), yesterday, that is, Thanksgiving Day, at exactly 11:00 am PST, sold 1,000 Xbox 360s for $100 each.

Needless to say, when I heard about this I jumped at the opportunity, and spent several hours on Wednesday and Thursday preparing myself mentally and physically, and uhh ... computerifically.

And then ... well, let me give a sort of a timeline:

10:00 am PST: Sit down at the computer, make sure that RoboForm is configured properly with my password - I'm not taking any chances.
10:20: Make sure my computer's clock is accurate to atomic time.
10:30: Begin stretching my index finger by repeatedly pressing F5 on the keyboard.
10:40: Re-login to Amazon, just in case.
10:45: Go to the page with the deal and begin refreshing repeatedly. So far, so good, but then all of a sudden ...
10:55:30: The Amazon server finally crashes from anticipation, one can only suppose. The page doesn't load. I try everything, different browsers, different computers. Nothing, until finally...
10:59:50: The page miraculously loads, 10 seconds before 11:00. The Xbox isn't there - the page is being updated! I quickly hit refresh again but it doesn't load until ...
11:01:45: Ouch. All gone.

I came really close though - if that first refresh loaded 5-10 seconds later I would've had it for sure...

At first I was pretty pissed... I mean, I came ridiculously close to being eligible for a crazy bargain, but missed it by 10 seconds because of a server crash. But the more I thought about it the stupider the whole deal looked. Observe:

Item: Amazon held a "contest" between 4 deals, of which the Xbox 360 deal had a 90% vote from the start.
Item: The $100 (reg. $300) deal is so low that even people who don't really want an Xbox 360 would still try to get it.
Item: The deal was broadcast on national television and displayed all over the Internet.
Item: I estimate that at least 500,000 people would try to get that Xbox.
Item: The Amazon servers are a bit laggy even on good days. No way can they support that sort of traffic.
Item: Microsoft claims to reduce the price of the Xbox 360 "on a yearly basis". The holiday season is coming up... *wink wink*
Item: Last I checked, only two people on the Amazon discussion boards claimed they won the deal. Now, I realize many customers aren't active on the boards, but 2/1000?

From this, one can draw one of four conclusions:
1) Amazon offered the deal out of the goodness of their hearts (yeah, right).
2) Amazon is trying to attract publicity (and is going about it the wrong way).
3) Amazon knows the Xbox 360s will soon drop in value, and is trying to sell off as many as they can under the pretense of being generous, while attracting a ton of media attention. This is a very good possibilities, but I think it's really...
4) The whole deal was a sham to get attention. Either Amazon only sold 10 Xboxes or they didn't sell any, and planted people on the discussion boards to give "proof" that the deal was real. Hey, it all adds up. Call me a conspiracy nut, but this is what I'm going with.

Now, this doesn't mean I won't use Amazon anymore. Hey, I love Amazon. One thing about the Tech industry, and in fact the business world in general, is that all companies are evil. Some are just more evil than others... ;)

Saturday, November 18, 2006

LF2.5 Annoyance

My Little Fighter 2 mod, LF2.5, is doing great. It's been downloaded over 100,000 (!!!) times, and is consistenly in the top 3 at, sometimes peaking at #1. I estimate it's made me around $100 from Google Adsense.

But this popularity comes at a price. Several times a day now, by email, AIM, MSN, or Meebo, I get pestered with questions. Now, I don't have anything against asking questions, but most of these are ... well, I can't call them stupid, but ... ok fine, stupid. Questions like:

"Where can I download LF3 and 4?" Where they got the idea that LF3 (and up) exists, I don't know.

"What are the controls?" Maybe it helps to read the so-called README before wasting Alex's time!

"How do I change the characters?" This one in itself is not a bad question, but usually involves at least 15 minutes of trying to explain how to get to the data/data.txt file ("Go to the LF2.5 directory" "How do I do that?"), then another 15 trying to explain the syntax, and usually involves me finally giving up.

"Can I play as [insert character from random videogame] in LF2?" This is one of the worst. But the prize for the most hated question of them all goes to...

"Where can I get Electro/Mario/LF3 Firen/etc. ?" OK, one thing I can't comprehend is that although people seem incapable of finding the controls to the game, they are still able to find out which characters were taken out from previous versions. And then when I explain that these guys were scrapped, they still want them! OK people, if a character was removed, doesn't it make you stop and think, "Hmm why was he removed?" Ooh, I know, maybe because THEY SUCK!!

Of course, the fact that the majority of these questions come from people less than 10 years old, and judging from their spelling, non-native English speakers, does not help matters at all. Al Harberg writes, no "customers" are idiots, but I'm finding that hard to believe. I try to be as polite and helpful as I can to each and every LF2.5 user, but sometimes it just doesn't help.

I wish every person with a question about LF2.5 could read this post before asking me...

That's right, I finally have a guitar!!

At long last, and despite my abysmal grades, which needless to say did not please my parents, I'm getting this black Godin Solidac. Counting shipping, it ended up costing around $545. Meanwhile, Musician's Friend is now selling it for $645, counting a $75 Thanksgiving promotional rebate. Ouch, looks eBay only saved me $100, not $420 as I previously thought, and at the expense of questionable condition and possible breaking during shipping. Bad move.

But it's still a sweet guitar. Sure, it's not a Fender or a Gibson but it can imitate either perfectly. It sounds great, and is loaded with features: a H-S-H pickup arrangement, a tremulo arm, and best of all, an acoustic preamp - meaning that it's capable of sounding like an acoustic. And you gotta admit, that black one looks crazy cool (it's last year's model, and is not sold anymore - for this I have to thank eBay). This post is directed to all my friends *cough*Sol*cough* who still think I should've gotten a Fender.

Grades (or First Quarter Reflections)

Grades have been posted for quarter one, and I'm pretty disappointed, needless to say. I've always gotten straight A's before, but now...

AP Statistics - C. Reason: contrary to reason, homework is 60% of your grade in Stats. And Mr. M keeps giving us assignments like sneaking up on birds and measuring the length of Carl's Jr. fries. Well, hopefully I'll pull it up to a B by the end of the semester.

AP European History - A. My only A, and the only A in the class. Now this is surprising - Euro is the most difficult class in the school, and in fact I believe this is the first time someone got an A only in Euro. The reason I'm trying so hard is that between the difficulty, the subject matter, and the teacher this is definitely the most enjoyable and interesting class I've ever taken.

Spanish II - B+. Didn't do too well on some tests, but will probably raise it up to an A, if only on the merit of Mr. VS's famous leniency regarding extra credit (100 extra credit points and counting ... WOOHOO!! ^_^)

AP Biology - B+. I had an borderline A the whole quarter, but then an 83% test dropped it just below A range.

Honors English II - B. Did poorly on some quizzes in the beginning of the quarter, but have been raising my grade slowly the whole quarter.

PE II - B. I don't really care about PE, seeing how it's a non-academic course. As long as I'm not failing it I'm happy.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Obligatory Midterm Post

Given what has happened over the past week, I feel obliged to write something about thes whatchamacallems, midterms. Now, I don't know much about politics - in fact I know less than nothing, counting propaganda and brainwashing in the negative - but what I do know is that the Democrats finally won the House, governatoria-tialization?, and i think ... no wait ... or maybe ... it's close ... nah ... oh yeah the Senate too, by a narrow margin.

It would seem that (for once) Jon Stewart is wrong, but do the midterms really change anything? The old regime is replaced with a new one, which as always promises to fix everything, but looking through history, promises like these are hard to believe. It seems that all politicians are equally detached from the real world, be they Republican, Democrat, or None of the Above. And even if once upon a time, some guy comes along who really understands what he's doing (god forbid!) the bureacratic nature of the system means that his opinion will be stifled anyway.

Here, let me give you an example, with simple math and that bill-becomes-a-law stuff we all learned in sixth grade. Suppose the Republicans want to propose a law that the Democrats don't like. Oops we have the majority - overruled. Ah, but what if the Democrats want to propose a law that the Republicans don't like? The president can (and is not afraid to, as we now know) veto it, and we don't have to 2/3 majority in either house to overrule it. So.... what does this mean? It means one of two things - Republicans and Democrats will (for the next two years) have to learn to set aside their differences and get along ... or, for the next two years, no federal laws of any significance will be passed. Say what you want, but I'm betting on the latter.

Well, that's just my analysis of the midterms, but as I said before, I know very little about politics. Say what you want.

Oh, and speaking of politics, now's fine time to post my political compass:

You are a

Social Moderate
(56% permissive)

and an...

Economic Liberal
(31% permissive)

You are best described as a:


Link: The Politics Test on OkCupid

Ah, looks like I'm a Democrat ... just barely though. Those Centrists sure have an appealing philosophy though: "Compromise? " Yes, the reason we don't have a major Centrist party in the U.S. of A? I guess they're just not crazy enough.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

What's up?

Another one of my long, all-encompassing posts:

Man, school is getting tougher and tougher. First there was the Stats project, which used up my whole weekend (I was planning going to a guitar store :-( ) Now it turns out that I was quite behind in Euro, and had to turn my Euro notebook in at the very end of 7th period, after much frenzied writing. And then we have to act out Julius Caesar next week... >.<

Halloween was kinda sorta fun. I didn't trick or treat of course (at my age, it's now technically begging), but I played Xbox with Sol which was pretty fun. Fortunately, my brother and sister got enough loot for all of us ^_^

Still no idea when I'm getting a guitar...

Today is my dad's birthday. HAPPY BIRTHDAY DAD! =)

My year-long hiatus from Wikipedia is now over. You can see my profile here.

I'm removing the Quote of the Week sidebar box (because I keep forgetting to update it), but I added a subscription service. Now you can recieve email alerts whenever I update my blog! =)

And finally, Neverwinter Nights 2 has finally been released!! However, reviews seem to be pretty bad. I'll give this one a few days for more people to post reviews before I reach any verdict.

And I'll try to post more often, I really will... ;)