Category Archives: Personal


Here’s a little about me. It’s taken from what I get from typing I into the firefox search bar: A list of searches I have done that start with I.

I am a beautiful animal, I am destroyer of worlds
i attack the gazebo
i think so brain but
in the year of our lord 1994 we conquered the floor
inma no ranbu
ip over dns tunneling
irssi messgage level
irssi script
irssi trout
issaquah post office


I always express my satisfaction with a simple phrase: “Coo”. At one point, it was, as most children once used, “Cool”, but in a horrible holiday accident, it was left with no ‘l’. I’ve used the word in almost every conversation I’ve had since. It rolls off the tongue.

Most anyone you meet wants to be great. They aspire to be the one on all the magazines. To be the life of the party. To lead people. I can’t say that thought isn’t appealing. It’s NICE to have power and prestige.

On the other hand, what I really am more satisfied with is being the “Right-Hand-Man”. I like having someone to defer to, if I feel I’m not qualified to make a decision. I also like feeling like I am part of a bigger picture. I’d rather not be a cog in the geartrain, as I like to be able to see that bigger picture, but one or two rungs down feels like the best place for me.

One of the people I most admire is Robert Khoo. He’s the PA right-hand-man. He’s more than that, actually: He makes things get done. He saved PA from Gabe and Tycho, who’re funnymen, and not businesspeople (Somebody needs to be Sluggy’s Khoo). He made PAX run. And he’s a cool guy.

That’s my inspiration. One of these days, when I’m the CTO or Vice President of a major corporation, someone will ask how my career has been. It’ll be a one word answer: “Khoo”.

Utopia in Modern Fiction

Freehold and Manna

I’ve read two interesting books recently, Freehold, by Michael Z. Williamson, and Manna, by Marshall Brain. Both are sci-fi, by the old sense of the phrase: They describe life in as it has been changed by science, not simply using science as a way to suspend disbelief for fantasy.

Both follow in the tradition of Thomas More’s original work in a lot of ways. They’re written in the tone of strangers trying to comprehend the world they’ve been thrust into. This sets up the debate: The newcomers cannot comprehend how the utopian society functions, while the utopians cannot understand how the newcomer’s society functions. The simple case of culture shock sets up the conflict that drives the discussion.

Manna is very blunt in it’s setup for discussion: it starts in the near future, and follows an everyman through the changes to society by the advancements made in AI. The creation of an automated management system for low-level work, like fast food, starts the United States on a downward spiral as more and more people lose their jobs to “Efficiency” of Manna (the AI software). The protagonist loses his job, is placed in a government sponsored shelter run by robots, and then is rescued by workers from “The Australia Project”, whom he has an invite to via his father. Upon arrival in Australia, he finds a semi communist utopia, with each person getting a stipend weekly to spend on whatever they may wish, and robots doing all the work.

Freehold is much closer to the more modern sci-fi action genre, with the main character instead being on the run from her (obviously corrupt) government. She escapes to the libertarian state of Freehold, the only colony world that is not under UN control and therefore out to capture her. She finds that guns are common, crime isn’t, and free market capitalism makes her most dull skills hot commodities. She has trouble adjusting, though, to the laissez-faire method of government.

The problem with both stories is the assumptions they make: Their Utopian methods of society simply work. On Freehold, guns are common, but they’re never raised in anger. In Monna, software prevents people from acting rashly, but it never malfunctions and it never misses. Both works critical flaw is that their societies function, as unrealistic as they are. Why isn’t the Australia project ruled by a succession of very good hackers who use the neural implants to enforce their rule? Everyone’s body can be remote controlled by software. Why isn’t Freehold particularly prone to desperate or depressed people on shooting rampages? Guns are common and there’s no state sponsored charity to help those who fall on their face. Assumptions are made about human nature that, while I would like to believe, have little basis in reality.

Monna’s Australia Project is a Communist society at it’s core: Robots do all the work, and everyone shares equally of their bounty. Freehold is the very definition of capitalist: Everyone is engaged in a constant money struggle. Both, however, rely on humans being fundamentally good as their core premise, and technology is simply a catalyst for humans to reach their full potential for good.

And, as optimistic as I am, I’m not sure of such. But good, evil, or neutral, both Freehold and Monna lay out an interesting debate over societal ideals and the nature of mankind.

On PHP design

I’m many things, but the part I want to talk about tonight is my coder. I’ve been coding for more than half my life: When I was 8, I started writing some basic LOGO programs in an extracurricular activity called Wiz Kids. (One of my best friends to this day, Donkey Kong, I met through the program, though we weren’t in the same session). My dad showed me some Perl back before web 1.0. I have a degree and a half in Computer Science, though I’m not certain what good either of those do me.

But I can code, and I do enjoy it. I just suck at it. Case in point: I just dug out a set of PHP scripts I wrote for a friend who has a webcomic. They’re not horrible, but I see so many things I could have done better. I’m fairly certain it’s actually secure code (which means something, in php), but the design is all wrong: It’s written as an application that you drop a layout into, rather than as a set of scripts you drop into a layout.

I’m gonna fix that, eventually. But, for the moment, here‘s the code. It’s used in only two sites, one of which is Brian Carroll’s Instant Classic Genrezvous Point. It’s an interesting exercise, but needs to be reworked. Still, not bad for a couple days of PHP coding without any real direction.