diego's weblog

there and back again

Monthly Archives: August 2007

red moon


Last night I got up at 3:30 am for a little while to watch the lunar eclipse as it unfolded. It was really something! From what I’ve read people all over the US did that too. I didn’t see anyone around the neighborhood, but I’m sure that in this geek-heavy area there were more than in most other places. :) Something to remember too, definitely will be watching the next one.

on neuromancer

Ok, next up in my list of belated blog posts is Neuromancer, more specifically my thoughts about the book. Russ recently read the book and was criticizing the ending as a “sort of afterthought”.

Here’s my take on it: it’s not an afterthought but rather a very concrete expression of an idea that we’ve come to call The Singularity. The whole point of the Singularity is that change is happening so fast that you can’t predict what comes next. After the singularity the rules and constructs we had before about operating in the world, in whatever specific context we’re dealing with, become quite simply meaningless. Not only we can’t predict what will happen after it, you can’t even see it coming. This is exactly what the ending of Neuromancer feels like. And if you ask me, that’s why. :)

As far as the Neuromancer movie, it’s been rumored, well… forever. Gibson himself has said on his blog that he’s “forgotten more neuromancer film deals than you’ve ever heard of,” which sounds about right.

An interesting tidbit that (that I’ve written about in the past) is that Gibson discussed in a post was that when Neuromancer came out, it was after Bladerunner was released, and he was terrified that everyone would see it as a derivative work of some sort, even if he had started it years before.

Quote:

Bladerunner came out while I was still writing Neuromancer. I was about a third of the way into the manuscript. When I saw (the first twenty minutes of) Bladerunner, I figured my unfinished first novel was sunk, done for. Everyone would assume I’d copped my visual texture from this astonishingly fine-looking film. But that didn’t happen. Mainly I think because Bladerunner seriously bombed in theatrical release, and films didn’t pop right back out on DVD in those days. The general audience didn’t seem to get it, relatively few people saw it, and it simply vanished, leaving nary a ripple. Where it went, though, was straight through the collective membrane to Memetown, where it silently went nova, irradiating everything from clothing-design to serious architecture.

Yep, he didn’t have to worry, and the near-simultaneous arrival of these two masterpieces ended up heralding the beginning of cyberpunk in two mediums at once. Incidentally, Bladerunner is about to be re-released late this year in a “Definitive Cut” edition, fully remastered. Can’t wait.

Btw, my other favorite Gibson Singularity (yeah, there’s a pattern here…) is the ending of All Tomorrow’s Parties (which incidentally features a character, Laney, who can “see” singularities before they happen), in which Rei Toei, a virtual character, becomes, well, real. Both characters also appear in Idoru, and both books are part of the so-called “Bridge Trilogy.”

ps: the image is the cover of the original print edition of Neuromancer. :)

8 random things

So, apparently one can’t procrastinate in peace and is constantly (if ever so gently) goaded into posting. First up in this distributed conversation system that we call the blogsphere is a response to Mike and his tagging me for 8 random things. Unlike Russ, I can’t come up with an entertaining misdirection like his so I’ll just do it straight. I don’t generally talk about myself, so this will be good, um, exercise.

We start with the rules:

  • We have to post these rules before we give you the facts.
  • Players start with eight random facts/habits about themselves.
  • People who are tagged need to write their own blog about their eight things and post these rules.
  • At the end of your blog post, you need to choose eight people to get tagged and list their names.
    Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they’re tagged, and to read your blog.

So here’s eight things about me. Random? Maybe. More like pseudo-random (yeah, I can’t avoid nerd jokes).

  1. Not that many people know that I was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina. My native language is Spanish, and I didn’t really speak significant amounts of English until I moved to the US. However, a few years before that I had started devouring books in English. The first novel I ever read in English was Stephen King’s Needful Things.
  2. I have written seven novels, none published (no, I haven’t tried, they’re not ready yet). Three are kind of terrible. Four of them I like, and I’m quite fond of one in particular, and I’m revising it at the moment. I’ll release it … any day now. (Update: 4 are in English, 3 in Spanish. And no, I’m not counting Plan B which is also waiting to be completed…)
  3. The fiction books that have influenced me the most are, in no particular order: Neuromancer, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, The Diamond Age and Gravity’s Rainbow.
  4. Throughout my life, I lived at least more than two years in various places, that include three countries (Argentina, Ireland, and the US) but four different timezones.
  5. For some reason I find #4 above immensely entertaining. Yeah. Don’t ask me why.
  6. I wrote and presented the first course on Java ever done in Argentina, in May 1995, when it was still at version 1.0a2 (See? Sun has always been weird about numbering releases!). The first day, everyone at the lab I worked in back then was confused about what private protected really meant for scoping. Good thing we got that doozie out of the language early.
  7. For a while I became quite the U2 bootleg collector. I have something like 15 GB of U2 bootlegs from concerts and all sorts of special recordings they’ve made, some of them not officially released. U2 is cool with this, btw, which makes them enlightened in this area. Not surprising, especially since I’ve also bought all their albums and many singles.
  8. Contrary to popular opinion among those who know me personally (and especially those who have worked with me) I do sleep. Just not that much. Never have, even as a kid. Six hours is uncommon. More than 8 means I’m really, really exhausted.

Now, for the tagging phase, I’ll start by going around the office (yeah, I’m lazy) in the order in which their URLs come to mind :-)

And that’s it! Phew! This was actually pretty entertaining. :)

jquery guide

Simon Willison: jQuery for JavaScript programmers. Great post!

in the shadow of the moon

Just watching the trailer of In the Shadow of the Moon is enough to give me goosebumps. This one will be a must-see.

the three-monitor setup


So today I got new monitors, and I’m experimenting with a new setup, above (note: the picture is terrible, I’ll update it tomorrow). The two on the left are 30″ monitors–note the size of the keyboard in comparison, it’s one of those huge MS natural keyboards–, the one on the left in portrait mode is 24″. All of this is supported by the Mac Pro, which has two nVidia cards and four (!) DVI ports.

This is mirrored by a three-screen setup at home, but with 20-24-20 inch monitors, to save some space. :)

The biggest advantage is of course the sheer amount of information that you can have up there to support all that messy thinking. My previous setup was one 24″ and one 20″. I have the main work area in the center and communication (both asynchronous and real-time) to the sides. On the left is iChat (which, connected through Jabber gets me through to all the different transports, but that’s a topic for another post) as well as the various chat windows open with ongoing conversations. Speaking of iChat: it sorely lacks window-blinking behavior. It’s hard to tell which window has been activated when you’ve got a message waiting for you when you have that many open :).

I am still not sure if I’ll keep this setup or try just with two 30″. Believe it or not, I think I feel a little dizzy looking at so much stuff at once.

bots gone wild

from the dept-of-high-irony: Google Mistakes Own Blog for Spam, Deletes it.

spook country

At the end of a process that William Gibson started in July 2005 there’s Spook Country, the latest from the master, which will be out tomorrow.

It’s interesting to me that everywhere, including most recently this News.com article about the book, Gibson is mentioned as “[having] predicted many of the changes technology has brought about”. Now, he has predicted a lot of things, but in almost subliminal fashion in my opinion, and his own comments on how something as crucial as the concept of cyberspace came about bear me out. In the documentary No Maps for These Territories Gibson recounts about how he came up with the idea of cyberspace (this documentary, btw, is great if you’re into that sort of thing… just Gibson in the back of a limo talking for an hour and a half!). So how did it start? Was it the then-emerging Internet? Was it computer networks? Computers even, at all? Nope. It was the first time he saw a someone with a walkman, lost in their own world of music, when he visualized it: “Unthinkable complexity. Lines of light ranged in the nonspace of the mind, clusters and constellations of data. Like city lights, receding.” Gibson admits he’s never been a computer geek — he doesn’t know current technology all that much (according to what his blog, he finds eBay more interesting than Second Life, which is pretty striking.

As an aside, In the book page, Amazon also has a fascinating proposal for the book that, according to them, bears only a slight resemblance to the finished book.

The book is set in early 2006, perhaps more anchored on reality than even Pattern Recognition — of which I happen to own a signed copy. :) Can’t wait to read it!

C-monster

Sunday entertainment: Let’s watch a Muppet eat a computer! Hilarious. :)

fun with http headers

Fun with HTTP headers. Great post.

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