Category Archives: Fails

A (Not So) Brief Interlude

A Poor Apology (Read: Excuses)

So… I’ve been gone.  For two months.  Or three.  Though I think it’s been four since I was last updating regularly.  And that’s a bit depressing. But what can I say?  School is far from easy.  Learning new programming languages is time consuming.  As is reading Shakespeare, making statistics, performing discrete math (for those who don’t know, don’t ask), and trying to pass American politics without going to class.  All of that in addition to working part-time as a physical liaison in my university library’s IT department.  Yeah, I’ve been a busy bee.

 

Recap (Read: The Last Three Months, Abridged)

Tom had a job.  Probably still has a job.  He works at the Gelman library fixing computers for patrons and staff members.  His responsibilities also include a bunch of other weird tech things, but the official title is Student Staff Technician.

Tom still has a girlfriend.  Some might find that genuinely surprising. He’s spent most of the last two weeks there.

Tom is in California.  That’s where he lives.  It has been in the seventies for most of his stay and he will be more than depressed to return to blood-freezing temperatures.

Tom is surviving his education.  He is a computer science student at the George Washington University and has something like a 3.4 GPA.  If only he was actually learning things…

 

Another New Direction (Aren’t you loving these?)

So at first this was a whatever blog.  It contained whatever was on my mind and I attempted to write about it to the best of my ability.  I tried to make it openly accessible, no inside-jokes or dreadfully boring personal recounts.

Then it became a media blog with a heavy film focus.  I wrote about a considerable number of films from 2011 and some of the news that was leaked before the films reached theaters.

Now, (insert suspenseful music), it will sort of go back to the former.  It will be whatever I think is cool, but I’ll try to keep it to things that the public has access to: open buildings and spaces, stores, products, media, etc.  Stories will be kept to brief anecdotes because the world loves hearing about how I nearly die and yet remain out of a hospital.

 

To The Future

Let’s see if there’s anything new tomorrow.

Vox Antiquus

Forcing myself to write at the moment to keep the semblance of regularity on this blog.  (I despise the term “blog”, but I also dislike saying “WordPress” and anything else is much too pretentious for my three daily readers.)  Less though than regularity, as a schedule has yet to be established and maintained, I’m simply trying not to allow weeks to go by between posts.  At the moment, I believe it’s only been 8 days. 

Onto the point of this post, look at the title.  Does it seem familiar?  Well, if it doesn’t, I really don’t know what to tell you.  Something like three months ago, I wrote an article called Vox Novus.  The purpose of which was to inform you, dear reader, of a new writer for atbreaksix.  Sadly, albeit predictably, this wish of mine never materialised.  See, Ed, while brilliant, is lazier than the dead.  So any requests to write were met with acts of procrastination and much gnashing of teeth.  This far into the game, I feel that I shouldn’t even bother asking anymore.  No, I, Major Failbucket, Captain TomAwesome, and the myriad of other personas and nicknames I’ve romped around as, will continue alone.  And likely go down with this ship, but whatever.  If anything, I will continue to write only so that my brain doesn’t turn to mush.

Perhaps, once I’ve finished Kitchen Confidential, I’ll talk about it here.  That seems like a marginally, if not painfully mediocre, good idea.  I could use this place to write about the incredible book list I’m racking up this summer.

Well, this is awkward…

Who has two thumbs and a terminal case of cabin fever?

This guy.

 

Now that I think about it, that line probably works better in person.  But who am I kidding, I don’t really care.  No, I don’t really care that I’ve been gone for two months.  What can I say?  School went into overdrive towards finals and I’ve been rehabilitating since I got home.  That’s right, school is over (I got A’s in everything but calculus, in which I got a C) and I’m back in Los Angeles.  So… where was I going with this?

Hmmmm.  Well, what is Tom up to these days?  Let’s see, I’ve…

  • purchased a gladius and have been practicing on a number of dummies in my backyard (not sure just how much longer the gladius is going to last, I’ve put it through a bit of a beating),
  • read through all of the Percy Jackson and Nicholas Flamel series,
  • begun cooking for myself again (this was an activity that I truly missed in school),
  • and wrote a résumé.

This last activity was both a major accomplishment and a source of my depression.  (It makes me feel old.)  It’s also grossly unlikely that I’ll hear back from the person I sent my résumé to, or the myriad of other businesses to which I applied.

So, what’s the point of this again?  Well, once upon a time, I had the inclination that this blog-thing would become popular and I’d be lavishing in fame and fortune.  But, true to life, I’m unpopular on the internet.  Ergo, neither fame nor fortune has entered my life.  This leaves me with the only two options: one, stop writing or, two, continue writing despite my (non-existent) audience.  I choose the latter.  Let the fame and fortune come in their own time.  I will continue to write for my own enjoyment.  (And because it will likely keep me from going mad.)

May the future be forgiving…

What the hell is going on upon The Hill?

For those of you who don’t know, I go to school in Washington, DC.  I’m a student of the GWU School of Engineering and Applied Science, currently studying computer science.  Often, the first question I’m asked after saying this is, ‘why are you at GW again?’  Well, I was originally a political science major (poli sci [not poly sci, people who write it that way are stupid]).  I took a few courses and, while I passed them all with satisfactory marks, I didn’t have the same level of enthusiasm as some of my peers.  So I started thinking about changing majors, but then I remembered that I wanted to rule the free world.  So I looked into partisan politics at my school.  And I realised that people are stupid.  No, not like the regular kind of stupid where I’m waiting behind somebody who doesn’t know how to use an ATM, I’m talking really stupid.  Finally getting to the point, this stupidity has caused me to write the following post:

For the last week or so, if you live in America, you heard people screaming about how the federal government was going to shut down due to the inability for Congress to authorize a budget.  Apparently there were demands from the Right, which were sent to the Left, who revised the demands and sent it back to the Right, who added more exclamation points and sent it back to the Left… and this went on forever.  Until something like five days ago.  Then everybody got more upset because of a stipulation that all budget proposals must sit for three days before being voted on or something.  So eventually we hit this three-day mark and an agreement wasn’t met so THE WHOLE COUNTRY WAS GOING TO BURN AND IT WALL ALL THE LEFT-RIGHT-LEFT-RIGHT-UP-UP-DOWN-DOWN-LEFT-RIGHT-LEFT-RIGHT-B-A-TEABAGGERS’ FAULT!!!  Well, that’s what it sounded like…nes11joy

See, I distanced myself leagues away from this issue.  That’s not to say that I didn’t know something was happening.  No, when my facebook and twitter feeds started exploding with libellous messages about political parties I hadn’t heard of, I figured that something was going on.  So I did what any GW student wanting to stay informed does, I went to the wendys-frostycafeteria and ate Wendy’s.  And while I was devouring a delicious FrostyTM , I watched one of the 14 flat screens playing CNN.  (This is more or less how I got the first half of the previous paragraph.)  Back to the distancing though, it’s easy to say that I’m lazy.  And I do say it, a lot, because I’m lazy and it’s easy (see how that works?).  But when it comes to this issue, it was more a matter of intelligence.  Not only did I realize that being indignant and/or in favour of either side would do nothing to bring about a resolution, unlike many of my peers, I also realised something else: that everybody is stupid and the politicians are doing exactly what they’re supposed to be doing.  (Okay, that second part needs some clarification, but I’ll elaborate on the whole thing in the next few paragraphs.)

Magician Let’s start with “people are stupid”.  Done.  Next thing… Okay, fine, I’ll elaborate upon my obtuse invective. (I’m torn right now because I wanted to make a joke about stupid people and triangles, but I realised they never would have made it this far.  Damn my logical brain.)  In all honesty*, my issue with partisan politics, without devolving into the ‘they’re all hacks’ kind of argument, is that they’re (for the most part, some may be true statesmen) something between lawyers, conmen, and magicians.  (Some people would argue that I’ve basically listed the same thing three times.  They are grossly similar…)  And people trust them with a theoretical** amount of money.  That’s why people are stupid when they begin complaining.

Now for the more exciting part, why they’re doing exactly what they’re supposed to be doing.  I feel that using the word “supposed” may have been misleading as most people believe that Congress is supposed to be improving the country, not having pathetic squabbles that may force people to look for alternative work during a furlough.  However, they’re doing exactly what they’re supposed to be doing as politicians (conmen, lawyers, and magicians).  Simply put, they maintain these charades to build up a rapport with their constituents.  By not settling for the minimum cuts proposed by Democrats, the Republicans can maintain the message that they’re spendthrift and devoted to cutting the deficit.  Likewise, by not agreeing to all the cuts proposed by Republicans, the Democrats will continue to say that they have America’s best interests at heart and are maintaining necessary services for American citizens. 

For the most part though, all of the cuts and programs, it’s pointless.  Individual members of congress will only jump at porkbarreling (“minor” additions to bills that provide funding for things in their hometown to win over district voters) and major, publicized issues that they’ll be able to stand behind later.  In fact, that’s why this is going on.  By not passing a budget, for which the difference between the two parties’ proposals is merely a drop in the ocean at this point, they’ve managed to gain a ridiculous amount of publicity.  This same publicity is what they’ll use to influence voters next year when they’ll claim to have fought for the programs you deserve or that they’re true to getting the country out of a financial hole.  Either way, regardless of what side you’re on, your still profiting from this “disaster”. 

BUT TOM, IF THEY DON’T PASS A BUDGET, THE CONGRESS PEOPLE DON’T GET PAID!!!  WHY WOULD THEY DO SOMETHING THAT KEEPS THEM FROM GETTING THEIR OWN PAYCHECKS?!?!?!  Thanks for asking, concerned reader.  Well, it really doesn’t make a difference to them.  While the salary is certainly… important, to congress (who actually sets their own salaries…) it’s not a huge issue.  These aren’t people who live paycheck-to-paycheck and they know that they’ll have a budget long before they even begin thinking about low balances. 

So that’s why the craziness in the media and among my peers is stupid.  But wait, here’s the kicker.  A resolution, (not an official budget, but an agreement to continue paying people until a budget is passed (or September, whichever comes first), was passed last night.  For the most part, it was highly in favour of the Republicans.  So, by looking at the state of government-sponsored programs or their spending records, it seems that the Republicans won.  And that’s true, they definitely won a larger victory here, especially so if imagesyou’re Boehner (who probably looks something akin to the messiah right now).  However, from a rhetorical/focused-on-being-re-elected standpoint, both sides won.  Republicans have proved themselves to their constituents, and, as long as they didn’t vote in favour of the initial proposals, Democrats can blame the effects on a Republican majority in the House and wanting to make sure that hard-working people got paid.

In the end, the real person who lost was you (American citizens, if you’re an international reader… I’m honestly surprised that you read this).  You were lied to, convincingly, and have probably been manipulated by media coverage and politicians to continue to further their agenda.  But who am I kidding, right?  If you watch a politically-charged news outlet and actually know who your congressmen are, you’re probably going to vote for them again unless they seriously change their platform to whatever you despise.  So, all of this was pretty much moot.  But if you’re not old enough to vote, don’t vote, or are actually moderate, well, think about it.

 

*Mini-tangent: I once learned that saying this is often an attempt at reinforcing a false statement because the person saying it doesn’t believe that it will be accepted.  Ergo, upon hearing this, one should question the veracity of the statement. 

**I say “theoretical” because, as the congressmen and women discuss it, it’s merely figures in a document.  I also use “theoretical” because they can determine virtually any amount they please. 

Why the QR Code is Fine and Gizmodo is Full of S***

While my enemies will chalk this post up to a physically-debilitating case of sleep deprivation, but I am indignant.  I am calling out Gizmodo, Adrian Covert in particular, for penning a petty piece of pathetic prose:

With the great NFC race looming, Google is axing support for QR Codes in their Places service. QR codes made a noble play for the hearts and minds of nerds, but honestly, I hope this is the first step towards their complete and utter annihilation.

When QR Codes were first introduced to the masses, they were a novel concept: You saw a weird looking digital pattern confined by a square box. You took a photo of it with your phone. It then launched whatever app/website it told your phone to and you were then informed.

In theory that sounds fine. In actuality, it was an unrefined technology with an unsatisfying end reward more often than not. First you had to spend time firing up your camera, or whatever QR-compatible app made use of your camera. Then you had to line up a shot of the QR Code. Then it processed the photo and shuffled you into another app (web browser, perhaps?), where you were privvied to what ever facts of life you needed (most likely some fluffy marketing BS).

Reading this excerpt again, now rested (read: caffeinated), I’m still indignant.  The article, QR Codes: Goodbye and Good Riddance, is ridiculous.  But if you don’t know what a QR code is, you won’t understand why that article was utter crap, so I’ll quickly explain. 

A QR code is the matrix version of a barcode, instead of vertical lines, it’s pixels and boxes.  That’s important because, instead of storing a few numbers that allows the supermarket to know how much to charge you for a snack-size bag of Cheetos, atbreaksixthis barcode can hold a two and a half page essay.  But you probably won’t read a QR code essay.  No, you’re much more likely to scan a QR code and be redirected to the website of the manufacturer of the product the QR code was on.  And that has value.  Prior to the prevalence of QR codes in the States, I’d previously used my phone to take pictures of movie posters that I thought were interesting and would later look up online.  Now, I scan the QR code, my phone takes me to the movie site, and I learn that Rebecca Black’s The Day After Thursday is coming out in 3D.

To the point, why does Adrian think QR codes are dead?  Apparently, it’s because Google Places no longer supports it.  My first thoughts: OH DEAR GODS!  If Google Places doesn’t utilize my product, what chance do I have of surviving in this world?!?  That was stupid.  Yes, Google is big.  And yes, if Google supports something you’ve made, chances are good that it will grow in popularity.  That said, just because Google stops using it doesn’t mean that it dies.  Being unable to search for a business in a specific phone app isn’t going to eliminate a piece of technology that’s almost two decades old and exists on every medium from business cards to grave markers.

Just to humour him, let’s see what the rest of his -scanner-lets-you-check-in-to-venues-by-scanning-barcodesargument was.  Well, to my understanding, his ire is wrought by QR codes being inefficient and borderlining on difficult.  …Okay, I’m disgusted.  Of all the pathetic arguments, I mean really.  It’s difficult?  To open press a button and point your phone at a picture?  That’s difficult?  By that metric, I’m forced to believe that you’ve dictated the article from your bed and even that’s questionable as it would require you to open your mouth. 

It’s tragic really.  And a commenter to the original article picked up on it.  To paraphrase, they brought up a point made by Louis CK about how we live in what would be considered a utopian future by people just fifty years ago, and yet we have people like Covert who complain about waiting mere seconds for the camera to initialize on your phone in order to direct you to information on the internet.

Well, to close this off, I’m making a prediction.  You read it here first, that when all QR codes are replaced by the wireless radio technology he currently desires, there’ll be another article in which he decries the need for a radio receiver and is anticipating the designer sunglasses that will translate the QR codes of 2018.

 

The Gizmodo article and enlightening comments can be found here: http://gizmodo.com/#!5787427/qr-codes-goodbye-and-good-riddance

Sucker Punch(ed)

Preface: I went and saw Sucker Punch this afternoon.  After returning to my dorm, I wanted to write something about it.  I originally wrote this elsewhere because I didn’t think it was fit for atbreaksix, but after seeing how much I’d written, I decided to post it.

Sucker_Punch_poster

I really, really wanted to enjoy this movie.  I’m not kidding, I really did.  The commercials looked incredible.  I thought ‘OH MY GAWD! Scantily clad girls with weapons in a fantasy Matrix!  This is gonna be epic!’  How could anything go wrong?

Well…

This movie was two hours of sitting back in my seat, cocking my head to the side, and wondering if the actresses were laughing at the idea of people watching this film.  In the worst way, it brought back memories of Avatar: The Last Airbender.  (I think we all hate that movie…)  Actually, it seemed like main difference between the two (discounting premise) was that people actually died and cursed in this film. 

But what was the real problem?  Problems?  Disasters? (Warning, spoilers follow.  However, I recommend reading them as they’ll likely persuade you to save $12)

1.  I did not care about a single character.  No, that’s not true.  I liked the old guy who kept giving advice prior to the fantasy adventures.  And the only reason I liked his character was because the didn’t annoy me as the others did.  As it was, there was somewhere between little and no back-story or character development for the overwhelming majority of the cast.  So, in the scenes where characters show some sort of emotion, it’s completely out of context and you wonder why the movie took a faux-turn for the dramatic.

2.  The conclusion of the movie only goes on to affirm the thoughts you had ten minutes into the film that you have no idea of what’s going on. 

(Plot: Girl (Name=Babydoll, but I don’t really care) loses mother.  Stepfather tries to kill her and her sister to get money in mother’s will.  Succeeds in killing sister.  Girl attacks stepfather.  Stepfather has her thrown into mental asylum.  —MAJOR SHIFT IN PICTURE/STORY— Girl (original) is with a bunch of other girls in what seems like an Atlantic City-esque strip club/brothel.  And they’re all dancers.  And now Girl has to dance.  So zones out and enters the place where Black Mamba killed Lucy Liu and takes out three gigantic CGI man-beasts with a sword and a Desert Eagle.  When she comes to, she’s apparently performed an incredibly seductive dance and is now being applauded by everybody except for one girl who’s jealous or something.  Over the rest of the film, she performs this dance in which she zones out and imagines herself killing people while in the “real” world, everybody is entranced by her motions.  As she’s doing this, a ragtag group of other inmates are stealing tools to make their escape from the asylum.  By the end of the film, all of the teammates are dead save for Girl and the girl who hated her from the dance.  (Real original)  So they make their escape just getting to the exit before realizing that they’re trapped by a group of men.  So Girl sacrifices herself and jealous girl escapes.  —MOVIE SHIFTS BACK TO ORIGINAL VIEW OF REALITY—  And Girl is lobotomized.  Literally.  And jealous girl is on a bus, narrating some sort of message of…destiny?  I dunno.  Seriously though, watching Jon Hamm (Mad Men’s Don Draper) lobotomize your protagonist is kinda messed up.)

2 (the sequel). So at the end, you start thinking: ‘Okay, so none of the dancing was real.  That was probably just jealous girl’s projection of reality.  And within that we were able to see the fantasy murders… which was Girl’s projection’s of reality?  Or was it Girl’s reality within Girl’s reality within actual reality… DAMNIT WTF IS THIS?  INCEPTION?!?!?!

e.  (That should warn people to why this is upsetting to me)  This movie pushes physics and storytelling to the point where I was having a headache trying to rationalize why the special effects guys didn’t laugh at the writer (And WTF was the writer doing?  I bet it was a 12 year old boy who watched 16 hours of action/adventure films in one sitting and then started writing this “great idea” for a movie.  Then 10-15 years later, he had enough clout or dumb friends to get funding for it.).  It’s not Kill Bill.  It’s not Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.  It’s not The Matrix.  It’s like if you smashed them together… And then gave it crack.  It’s just…painful.

3.  This movie leaves me thinking that I witnessed the crackbaby of the Wachowskis, Michael Bay, Quentin Tarantino, and M. Night Shyamalan.  

That’s about it.  Sadly, this venting session has not left me feeling any better.  Maybe I should watch MacGruber again to put it in perspective…

—Follow-up:  According to wikipedia, I’m not the first person to compare this movie to The Last Airbender.  It can be found here.  I recommend clicking, the critic’s line is pretty funny.—

Healthy Living: The atbreaksix Way

Welcome back to atbreaksix.  Today we’re gonna be talking about living healthy.  You know, good food, exercise, and obscene amounts of candy.  That’s right, OBSCENE. 

I should preface this by saying that I don’t live healthy.  For the most part, I don’t know what the word “healthy” means.  I do, however, know that it sells an egregious amount of worthless books and magazines.  (Next post: Rant on self-help books)  So now I’m going to use that buzzword to sell atbreaksix.  I’m just going to do so wrongly. 

FOOD

My diet consists of the following: A subway sandwich (usually a six-inch chicken breast on wheat) and/or a Philly Cheesesteak with Fries.  Everyday, six days a week.  In addition to those entrees, I will also consume several handfuls of candy (chocolate, malted milk balls, marshmallows, tootsie rolls, good and plenty, etc.), along with crackers, rice cakes, and whatever else I’m interested in.  candywarehouse_2144_854696472

Example:  I purchased a 2.5 pound bag of malted milk balls marketed for Easter, Robin Eggs, on Wednesday.  (In my defence, I purchased the bag out of frugality.  Normally ten dollars, it was on sale for less than four.)  That bag currently has about 1/3 of the candy remaining.  Ergo, I’ve consumed 28 ounces of candy-coated malted milk balls in three days. 

 

EXERCISE

I’d like to think that, at least in this aspect, I am… proactive.  Inertia, by the Bill Nye: The Science Guy theme song, is a property of matter.  At this very least, this holds true for my matter.  All 10 stone of it.  (Yeah, I did that just to mess with you.  Yes, YOU.)  As it is, I spend my days in a chair, or in bed.  Mostly in my bed, well, on my bed.  I don’t actually sleep that much, but I despise sitting at my desk for extended amounts of time, so most of it is spent on my side.  So, I know that moving sucks.

However, (pause for emphasis) I do force myself to exercise from time to time.  What do I mean by exercise?  I mean rolling out of bed, falling two feet to the floor (yes, I meant “rolling” literally), and doing some push-ups followed by crunches.  In addition to that routine, now that the ice outside my room has melted, I go for a half-hour run every other day or so.

FURTHER RANT

Now, I know that by saying this, I’ve just alienated half of my audience.  And Ed.  But I ask that you give me a few lines to explain why my exercising is not me selling out to the health movement. 

First, for the better part of my life, I was both short (painfully, painfully short) and rotund.  When I was five inches shorter than my current state, I was also twenty pounds heavier, it was depressing.  So I started jogging and tried to limit my intake of garbage.  (Which isn’t entirely true as all of the Leftovers can attest to the fact that I ate a personal pizza every lunch of my senior year.)  Really, it’s more about justifying the garbage you’re eating based off your rudimentary knowledge of nutrition.  (Chocolate = Dairy + antioxidants) 

Second, I have an enormous ego.  My ego is so large, that despite being an incorporeal entity, it still has gravity.  (It’s the only reason I have friends.  They’re physically drawn in.)  And to support this ego, I need to limit the number of detracting qualities.  To put it better, I need to make myself look better than a growing number of people.

Which brings me to the third reason, and the final bit of this post.  Because I’m better than you.  You know it, that’s why you’re reading this instead of writing it.  I’m winning.  I’m tired of pretending I’m not special.  I’m tired of pretending I’m not a total freaking rock star from Mars. 

Yeah, that took on a different ending joke than I’d originally expected.  I’ve just recently come to really like Charlie Sheen because I heard that he endorses winning.  And I, being the god of win, endorse his endorsement.  So stay tuned for future posts, but in the meantime, go outside and start winning.

@|6: The Fail

The best way to begin this is by explaining the title of this post.  The three characters in the beginning are @ (read: at), | (called “pipe”, but it’s known to the company as “break”), and 6 (if you don’t know what this is, we’ll enrol you in kindergarten).  Pronounced At-Break-Six, it’s the name of our organization.  So now you must be asking yourself, “what does this mean?”  “how did it come to be?”  “in what way is this relevant to their products?”.  Well, it doesn’t really mean anything.  Ergo, it’s not relevant to the products.  Truthfully, the name was invented when Tom was discussing the time he’d purchased AIG stock with Ed.  Eventually, Ed began laughing at Tom over AIM and began writing in l33t.  So the two began an impromptu competition on who could make the most leet AIG title.  The best it got was @|6.  Then Tom read it aloud.  And it was good.

So that’s how @|6 came to be.  The second part “The Fail” denotes the events that just occurred.  All the posts prior to this one were hosted by WordPress under the address http://irrelevantpoint.wordpress.com.  But @|6 is my organization and I decided that I wanted to host our musings there.  So I tried to create a new blog with that name and address.  You cannot imagine my horror when I discovered that somebody else had already claimed this domain.  How could this possibly be?  @|6 doesn’t mean anything!  In any other use, this name is absolutely stupid!  So I decided to visit the existing https://atbreaksix.wordpress.com.  (if you just clicked on that, I applaud your mind-numbing obedience to hyperlinks)  There was nothing there.  Somebody was squatting on the domain.  I couldn’t believe that people would actually do that on WordPress.  What the hell?  I began drafting a message I would send to the owner about it, so I scrolled up to the top of the page looking for the link to the author.  And I found him.  And he was me. 

Damn it.

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