Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Sci-Fi => SyFy

As a blogger (somewhat) that is a Science Fiction Fan and wannabe writer, I guess I should comment on the news that the Sci-Fi Channel is changing it's name to SyFy.

In short and up front, I don't like it. Now you know my bias.

As much as I've been a fan of Science Fiction, both written, small screen, or big screen, I've not been a fan of the Sci-Fi Channel for sometime. I'm still irritated at them from years ago when I sat my 5 year old daughter down to watch Star Trek (the original) and a very explicit commercial for one of the Chucky movies came on. I had to dive across the couch for the remote to change the channel. For years after that, I did not watch Sci-Fi Channel without the remote in my hand.

I've never been a fan of horror. There are some exceptions. But, for instance, I liked Aliens much better than Alien. Don't like any of the slasher movies at all. Sci-Fi channel has said in the past that they are not just Science Fiction, but also include Horror, Speculative Fiction, etc.

The Sci-Fi Channel has done some things that I've really liked. Eureka is still one of my favorite shows; what ever happened to it? I liked the Dresden Files, even though it's nothing like the books, and was irritated when they canceled that at the last minute. Loved it when they picked up the Stargate series (and was irritated with how they treated that in the end). There seems to be a trend there.

For full disclosure, and this would probably get me in trouble if anyone actually read my blog, I've never been able to get into the new Battlestar Galactica. It's a bit too dark for me and is much more of a drama than a Science Fiction story. Every time I've tried to watch it, I get the feeling the theme is, how far can humanity fall under stress, as opposed to how high can we reach if pushed. You can get that type of story from daytime soaps, or watching politics.

Sci-Fi Channel used to be one of the first places I looked if I was looking for something to watch, I was often disappointed, but sometimes there would be gold. SyFy will be just another channel on the dial like WGN or USA Network. If I happened to find something good to watch, great. I will not be going out of my way to find it though.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Another thing I like about Virtual Box

In a previous job, I had to be able to VPN into work to support the applications I worked on. Occasionally I would even work from home by connecting my work desktop from my Mac at home via the VPN. I would be irritated that I could not access anything outside the Mac, except through the VPN, and they blocked some Internet access.

In my newest job, I also have VPN access, but so far can only do it from Windows. I don't run Windows on any of the computers I have in my house, except through Virtual Box. As I was setting things up on my OpenSolaris laptop, I noticed that I could continue to get my email, stream audio from Z95 on the Gulf Coast, and use my web browser normally in OpenSolaris, even though the Windows virtual machine was VPN'd into work.

The separation also protects the work network. There is no network traffic to the virtual machine that the VPN does not control, so it's effectively like two different machines on my home network.

I love it when I can multitask in a productive way.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

OpenSolaris Bible

I took some time to look for the OpenSolaris Bible (OSB) in my local bookstore. I was wondering if it really contained anything that I could not already get online somewhere. I mostly looked over the chapter on Zones. Although I'm sure this information is online, the OSB is written in a manner I understand a great deal better.

Most of the information I've found online so far is apparently written for SysAdmins. Although I've been a SA in the past, I am a programmer through and through, and we think differently.

Since I really need to understand Zones to setup the environment I want on my laptop, I will be picking up the OSB soon (probably about 3 weeks when I get paid). (OSB on Amazon if you're interested)

Note: what I'm attempting to accomplish on my laptop is a separate Zone that I can run GlassFish, Apache, and MySQL on so I can run "Intranet" type apps separate from my development environment. Yes, I've found instructions for running GlassFish v2 in a seperate Zone, but I want GlassFish v3 (Prelude), which fails to install with those instructions.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Moving toward anti-heroes?

I'm a huge fan of science fiction and fantasy and used to be a huge fan of comic books. I've noticed a trend I'm not happy with. There seems to be some type of trend over the last several years of the Anti-Hero?

The first Anti-Hero story I ever tried to read was the Thomas Covenant series. I never made it through the first book. I've never even tried to read any of the Venom (Marvel Comics) books.

I do like the bad-boy heroes (Logan has always been a favorite and I used to read a lot of the Mac Bolan and Remo Williams books). Some of my favorite heroes are the ones who become heroes in spite of themselves (Luke Skywalker and Peter Parker).

But, many of my favorite heroes are truly heroes from the word go (Steve Rogers, Ben Kenobi, Michael Carpenter, and Clark Kent).

Steve Rogers has been replaced by Bucky, who is much darker. Not quite the Anti-Hero, but still, why go darker.

Would a story about a heroic figure sell in today's market? Do Superman (the blue boyscout version), Lensmen, or Doc Savage type stories have an audience?

Please note, I'm not talking about real heroes like our brave men and women in the military, or those protecting us at home, or bravely landing planes in the Hudson, or any real life heroes. This is about story telling; entertainment.

Do we really want our heroes to be dark? I know Dark characters are different than Anti-Heroes. I'm defining Anti-Heroes as the character who has no desire or ability to be the hero, but is forced into that role anyway (Thomas Convenient, The Joker). Dark characters (Bruce Wayne, Logan) are interesting, but I think it's now overdone(all the urban vampire stories, with the exception of the Dresden files, which are the best books especially for dialog). Also, the struggling hero (Peter Parker, Luke Skywalker) is a great story line, but at some point get over yourself and accept the mantle you are given and man up (as these characters do).

I'm ready for another knight in shining armor story.

(The opinions in this story are made with a very wide brush. Caveats, arguments, huge holes, discrepancies can be found all over. Hopefully you get my overall point.)

Committed to change

Are you teachable?

Are you open to the views of the other side of the argument? Whether your Conservative or Liberal, Christian or not, Java or .Net, or an Architect or Programmer, do you really listen to the other point of view with the idea of learning from it.

I'm not talking about just rolling over and accepting the other person's point of view. They have to make a point and prove it. But when they do, will you even notice it.

Do you ever have an "Ah ha moment"? That moment in Zen philosophy called Satori. I live for those. You have to commit yourself to change and live with the mind of a student. Where have we heard about being like a child?

I've had several times in my life when I have changed my position on something because of a point made by someone else. Discussion is a wonderful tool for learning and for firming up our own positions. I expect someone who is willing to have a discussion, especially an passionate one, to come to me with more than how they want the world to be. Come at me with facts and well thought out positions. Also, have an open mind. I have to come to the discussion with facts and well thought out position. Nothing makes me crazier than to have those facts and positions discarded because they are not what the other person wants to believe.

I've been able to do as much to build a firm foundation for my beliefs as learn from some of the discussions I've had. You have to be sure of your position if you are going to intelligently discussion something for more than a few minutes before it breaks down. It is not a myth that one of the greatest ways to learn is to teach.

But that brings me back to my question. Are you teachable? As a people, we don't seem to have discussions anymore, just lectures. I hear this when I hear someone make a great point and the other person ignores it because it doesn't fit his or her position. This is a shame, because this is what is truly polarizing us.