Continuing Education

I’m getting urges to take a Conestoga College course again.

The continuing education calendar came in the mail this week, and I ended up flipping through it this morning.

The biggest thing holding me back is booking up a weekday evening for some number of weeks. But I’ve decided I’m not going to make a decision today.

I don’t think I’d want to take anything work related or anything. I mean, I could probably benefit from some sort of project management training. It just doesn’t sound like much fun. I’m not sure how valuable something like that would be in the end, either.

No, I mean I’m flipping through the “General Interest and Leisure” section. Stuff like “Designing Your Home Garden” and “Alternative Energies – History, Current Status and Outlook.” I really wouldn’t mind taking a cooking or creative writing course.

Some of them are one day seminar things too. That could work. The gardening courses are like that. So are some of the cooking ones, like “Curries” and “Dim Sum”. Not to mention “Reincarnation – Who Were You?”

They have some odd business courses, too. Like “Achieving Professional and Persoanl Success with Emotional Intelligence (EQ)” and “Myers Briggs in the Workplace.” I’m kind of curious.

Computers and Me: Microsoft Windows

Previously on Computer and Me:

It’s probably inevitable that I’d have to go over Windows, but for a while, thinking about what I’d write next, I was starting to think I should skip it. Even though the Twenty Sided post on the history of Windows is what got me started on this, honestly, what’s there to say? Windows. Yeah.

I grew up with an Amiga. Some friends had PCs and sometimes I’d go over to their house and watch them play games. It wasn’t until nearly the end of highschool where I started to think that maybe DOS-based games were getting better than my Amiga games, but gaming was never a huge priority for me. I wanted to make my computer do cool things.

I didn’t know anybody who was doing cool things with DOS or Windows.

Maybe I was just hanging around with the wrong people.

I was using Windows more and more during co-op terms through university. Even though I’d never owned a Windows machine, I didn’t have much of a problem doing Windows IT support. It just all seemed so… uninspiring.

Of course, I ended up running Windows as my primary operating system anyway. There wasn’t really anything else.

At work, right now, I’m using Microsoft’s .NET framework to build hooks into Microsoft’s developer tools on Microsoft Windows. I get plenty of Microsoft at work. I’ve been coming to the conclusion again that I don’t particularly need it at home.

Windows just doesn’t make me happy. It doesn’t make me particularly angry or offended, either. Not anymore, at least. It’s just kind of there. It’s the quintessential boring, consumer computing platform. It’ll do pretty much anything you need it to do, even if it doesn’t do any of it particularly well. You can use it to do things or make things, but don’t expect it to be easy or fun. And if you do put any effort into it, don’t expect to be thanked for it. Someone else has probably already half-assed something that’s good enough anyway.

I’m coming to the conclusion that I’m happy with the breadth of my computing experience, and if I want to challenge myself, I’m going to have to start looking deeper into a particular platform. Going deep into Windows doesn’t seem worthwhile to me. The rewards just aren’t there, either personally or even professionally. I don’t even think becoming a shit-hot Windows coder will even land me the sort of job I’d want. You’d think, given that it’s by far the most widespread desktop platform on the planet, I’d be committing professional suicide, but I don’t think it matters that much.

I have to keep using Windows at work, but I think I’m going to leave it there. I’m comfortable and proficient in it, but if I’m going to do things for fun in my spare time, I’d rather do them elsewhere.

The True Tragedy of Richard III

We went to Toronto last night on a bit of a whim to see The True Tragedie of Richard III (“wherein is showne the death of Edward the fourth, with the smothering of the two yoong princes in the Tower: with a lamentable ende of Shores wife, an example for all wicked women. And lastly, the coniunction and ioyning of the two noble houses, Lancaster and Yorke. As it was playd by the Queenes Maiesties Players”–as good a summary as any).

This is not to be confused (too much) with Shakespeare’s Richard III. This is the play Shakespeare based his play off of.

I haven’t actually seen Shakespeare’s Richard III. (There’s a Doctor Who audio that messes with it–The Kingmaker–but I don’t think that counts). I know enough about it, though, that it was all pretty familiar.

The play was put on by the U of T Medieval and Renaissance Players. It’s a bit of a research project, as well as a theatrical performance. They tried to stick to Elizabethan acting tradition as much as possible. Which means they didn’t have a director and the performance we saw was the first full run-through. And while you might think that that sort of experimentation would maybe get in the way of the performance, I think they pulled it off rather well, much to everyone’s surprise (including and especially the actors’).

There was a Q&A session at the end which actually ran both ways. They were asking us (the audience) as many questions as we were asking them. I had unpleasant flash-backs of university arts courses.

Thinking if I had a question to ask, though, I kept coming back to the copyfight argument. Much of what Shakespeare did in his time–“borrowing” and modifying whole works–would be outright illegal today. While a writer is able to ask permission to do things like that, unless they have a dump truck full of money, that permission is rarely forthcoming. If Shakespeare was doing his thing today, he’d be sued to oblivion. Or, to put it another way, if today’s copyright regime existed in Elizabethan times, what is considered the greatest body of work in the English language would not exist.

I think that should probably give people pause for thought. And it’s that sort of thing that the Creative Commons was created to address.

I couldn’t think of a way to bring it up that didn’t come off in a “Did you think of this?!” sort of nerdily confrontational way.

Thinking about it, though, I actually started to wonder how the Elizabethans thought about this sort of thing. Today, we get all huffy about piracy!, plagiarism! and our! intellectual property, like culture is a physical thing that we can hold onto and keep from other people. I’m pretty certain they didn’t see it that way.

Which isn’t to say that is was a rosy utopia. The reason that they didn’t do a full run-through until the first performance was the same reason that none of the actors got to see a full script. If the script got out before the performance, somebody else might swipe it and perform it first and, I don’t know, take credit or something.

Kinda like zero day movie torrents, I guess.

To be honest, I don’t know how Elizabethans thought about these things, or even if they did. I grew up with the Berne convention and WIPO treaties. I don’t have much of a concept about how these things were thought of before those existed.

Haru, The Unwanted Kitty

Ellen and I have been seeing each other for a year now, and I’m very happy about that. I’m not going to talk about that so much, though.

[Haru looking forlorn] When Haru came to live with me two years ago, it was kinda meant to be a temporary thing. I did kinda realize at the time, though, that when a cat comes to live with you, it’s generally not likely to leave.

And honestly, all things being equal, I would have been perfectly okay with that. He’s a minor burden in some ways: I have to get someone to come check up on him if I take off for more than a weekend, for example, but generally, it’s really nice to have someone to greet me at the door when I get home, and he’s gotten much more friendly and cuddly over the years. He needs a bit of attention and play time, but he’s not really that much trouble. If my life had carried on as it was, I don’t think I’d mind one bit having him around for the next ten to fifteen years.

But, as is often the case with these things, my life hasn’t carried on like that. That’s not at all a bad thing.

Ellen’s very allergic to cats. And other things too, of course, but if I ever want any chance of her being able to come in my house, there can’t be any traces of a cat having lived there. The fact that a cat is living here means that my house (which I really like, by the way) is totally off limits to her. She’s never been inside.

Now, I very much enjoy all the time I spend at her house, but it would be nice if she could come over and see me once in a while. It’s going to be a lot of work getting the house into a state where she can visit (and keeping it there as well), but I think it’s worthwhile to make the attempt. There’s no point in even starting any of that work while Haru still lives here.

So I have a problem. My ideal solution would be to find a friend for him to go and live with so I could go and visit him sometimes. I don’t know how likely that is. After that, it’s probably putting up “free to a good home” signs at work or possibly the Humane Society, which I’d prefer not to have to do.

I’ve been procrastinating on this for a while, because really, I’d rather not have to contemplate getting rid of the little guy. I’ve grown somewhat attached. He’s a sweet kitty with his own little personality. He’s affectionate and playful and just wants a little attention from time to time. He deserves a good home, and if I could, I would have liked to be the one to give it to him.

I’m just sorry I can’t.

The Vagaries of PageRank

I was mentioning to Matt very late at Denny’s in Belleville that Google wasn’t giving my blog a whole lot of love. I’d supposed that was probably because nothing actually links to it, but he suggested that I try Google Webmaster Tools and see if there’s a problem with the crawler. (Matt’s generally more up on web stuff than I am these days. My web skills have atrophied a bit).

It turns out there was nothing wrong with the crawler; nothing actually links here.

I figured, though, that I could possibly take advantage of my (considerably depleted) influence on the webs and put up some links.

I finally put up a link from my homepage, something I’ve been really reluctant to do. But I figured, what the hell? At the moment, I’m less embarrassed about the blog than I am about the homepage.

I also figured I’d slip in a sly link onto the Abslom Daak site. It was then that I realized that I let the domain name expire. For two months.


Fortunately, I was still able to renew it. So that was nice. That’s the only site where I have any pagerank at all (and probably quite a bit less now). *sigh*

Anyway, I think I’m going to make a project out of redoing the homepage sometime in the near future, to make it a bit more professional and a bit less 1996 university student.

Also, I wouldn’t be offended by a link to the blog (or the homepage) if you’ve got a site somewhere. (Also, I know of at least one person who’s linking to my livejournal when he should really be linking to the blog. I’ll probably have to pester him in person, rather than leaving a parenthetical note at the bottom of a blog post…)