A Linux distro in my USB keychain. I will do a writeup on it in a day or two, probably, since the plan to work less is working (tuesdays and thursdays off already :-)
I have been thinking a little about being relatively old in IT/Internet/dog-year terms, and some things have changed. A lot.
When I was a kid (say, 8 years old?) there were only two TV channels where I lived. And I lived in a rather largish city (350K people). In fact, it was more like 1.5 channels, since one only worked from 6PM to midnight.
Now, I could have 300 channels, if I had any time free to watch TV.
Of course, it was black and white TV, color TV was still 2 years in the future. Hell, our TV still had vacuum tubes. Now I can watch DVDs with Dolby 5.1 sound. I only saw my first _movie_ with Dolby sound when I was 14.
At that time (although I had not heard of those things yet), the university where I would later study and work was buying a computer. That modern marvel had 64KB of main memory, and supported up to three simultaneous users on teletypes (yes, teletypes), but at the time they only had punchcards. My phone has more computing power than that.
Eventually, I used that very same computer to learn Fortran III+ using a line editor and a line printer, although it only had one teletype, since it had been upgraded to glass ttys (wyse60s, IIRC). I still have some glass ttys at home (real wyse60s, nice toys).
Phone lines were so hard to get that a house with phone costed roughly 50% extra. To make a phone call to a town 60KM away, the procedure included calling an operator, and waiting two or three hours for the operator to call back.
Now, people get mad at me because I am not in MSN messenger all the time, and I have lost 5 phones in two years, but it's only a minor annoyance. In those days, the idea of losing a phone was about as bizarre as losing a doorstep.
Bills (power, phone, water, etc.) had to be paid on specific banks, on specific dates, and usually there were lines of a block or two on the last available date. Now I have them automatically paid from my bank account, and I get informed via email to authorize it.
Since I was 5 years old, I took a bus (not a school bus, a plain city bus) to school every morning and noone found that too weird. Now I am the only person I know who takes random cabs, because it's safer to call one by phone.
Every country in every direction, including my own, was under a repressive and criminal military dictatorship, and half the world was communist.
But... the last time a man had gone to the moon was with Apollo, the coolest-looking and fastest plane in the world was the SR-71, Ema Peel looked great in The Avengers, summer was hot, girls on bathing suits made the heat bearable, girls make anything bearable, anyway, so _some_ things never change.
I had just finished reading The Count of Montecristo, and I thought it was a great book, and it still is, although I appreciate all the sex and drug abuse of the book more now!
I was a chubby kid, I am a chubby adult. I was a skinny teenager, though, but that didn't last ;-)
So, just because I can now buy a real laser beam for the cost of a hamburger (which was a novelty food when I was a kid), while it was before the stuff Bond villians with lots of money played with, are things really different... well, yeah! ;-)
I have decided I am taking a month off (from work, not the blog, not hobby programming). And if I still feel tired, I am taking another week or two.
I have the money, business is always slow in January (summer vacations here), and not that good in february.
Add to it that maintenance can be done via ssh from any beach on which I happen to be drinking caipirinha, and that's it.
I intend to shut down teaching slowly, take no consulting gigs starting next week, and slowly reach a point, around december 17, where I have nothing to do.
Although it opened here (Buenos Aires, Argentina) at the exact same time as almost everywhere else, here's a late review of the movie.
I liked it. I have read the critic slam it, and you know what? I understand them. But I liked it anyway.
Now, why is that, and why don't I slam it as well? The problem critics had with Matrix: Revolutions is one of expectations.
They expected it to be a movie that lifted Matrix: Reloaded into a meaningful and worthy sequel of the original film. That is of course impossible for many reasons.
The main one is that it's 2003, not 1998. In 2003 lame movies like Bad Boys II have special effects that are about as good as The Matrix's were. We are jaded to them.
In fact, we are not only jaded to special effects that were special five years ago, we are jaded to surprise itself, like if showing us something new was an old thing itself.
So, even when there is a sequence that should awe us (like, say, the slow motion punch into Smith's face, look how you can see the fist pushing individual raindrops, the face deforming under the pressure, the detail of the impression of the knuckles... do you know how that was done? I don't!)... well, awe is old news.
So, I went to the theather expecting a movie that would be a fine action movie, with impressive sights, lame acting (not a decent actor in the bunch, except Lawrence Fishburne, and he was apparently directed not to act, but to look serious and important), some sophomoric babble, and some kung fu (I wanted more seraph, though).
In that level, it works. In making us all be five years younger, it didn't.
And to those who said the ending just drops the ball of the story threads, well, guys, this was a christian parable, Neo died for the sins of the programs, he was not the christ figure of the humans, but of the machines.
The robots in the city are the romans, the oracle and other "good bots" are israelites, the architect is Herod, Smith is the roman legions oppressing the israelites, and Neo's messianic "death" (he didn't die, but he is shown in a crucifiction-like pose, and doesn't move) is the second coming announcing the raising of the new temple, by turning the romans against their own legions and ushering peace on earth.
And the humans in Zion are vermin in Jerusalem's sewer system. Just ask the Merovingian (He, I have no idea who he is in the analogy, I just thought this as I was writing, be happy if it holds for another 30 seconds ;-) Ok, he is Mary Magdalene's pimp.
See, that's the kind of thing the Matrix trilogy does, it induces otherwise reasonable people into trying to shoehorn random data into patterns it doesn't fit (at least I tried to make a slightly original one).
That not specially cool quality is shared with other upper-mediocre-crust entertainment, such as "Catcher in the rye". While amusing, its produce is, of course mostly pedestrian.
The trick here, I think, is one used by people like Berlitz, writing about the magic proportions of the pyramids. If you have a large set of numbers, and allow yourself some freedom to tweak, they will match some of the hundred of "important" numbers in nature.
My height * 1000000 ~ the distance to the moon. I must be really important!
The Matrix movies have dozens or hundreds of nuggets of things we recognize from somewhere else, usually only slightly veiled, so we can feel smart about unveiling them, and smarter still about connecting them.
Well, like the size of the stones in the pyramids, you can plug those nuggets into almost any structure you want, as long as you are willing to stand a few holes and forced fitting... and man, did that get old quick after the first movie or not?
So, that's why it didn't work on the philosophical level: we are tired of it, we only had gas for one of those movies.
Add that to the special-effects-are-not-special-anymore syndrome, and you have a recipe for a movie that, while ok, can't work.
And that, friends, is why it didn't.
It should be obvious that it is not possible to have a job, a girlfriend, a hobby and a blog.
So, I have been neglecting the blog ;-)
Expect more updates now, since I am scaling down the job thing a bit.