Saturday, December 31, 2005

My Mom, Talented Yet Cautious
Posted by Sam at 1:10 PM | tags: , ,

So, I've got a thing for robots... especially robots of the adorable variety. This shouldn't really come as any surprise. The blog, it's called sam BOT dot com. Well, I suppose the "bot" could represent something else. Botanical? I do love my plants. Botfly? Ewww. Botox, Botswana... Botticelli? All valid guesses, but wrong wrong wrong! The bot is derived from the word robot... whose roots come from the "Czech word 'robota', meaning 'forced labor, drudgery.'" (thank you Wikepedia)

My "thing" for robots is really an unwavering, committed obsession. According to my mom, I've been blessed (plagued?) with this obsession ever since I received the Japanese version of Optimus Prime from my grandparents one fateful 1980's Hanukah night. Sure, I couldn't read anything on the box or any of the decals, but I was too entranced by the majesty of the transforming robot in my hands to notice or even care. It's a truck... no, it's a robot... no, a truck... Whoa, mind-blowing. Anyway, I think my grandparents bought it out of the back of some guy's Subaru Brat. Eternally the bargain hunters, my grandparents are. (Yoda, I speak like)

This fateful Hanukah, my mom, in a successful attempt to keep me in a state of suspended childhood for as long as possible, knit me two adorable stuffed robots. Adorable, I tell you. Absolutely, gut-wrenchingly, adorable. She knit the bigger one first. He was a prototype, and thus, is appropriately named, "Alpha." The smaller one came later. He's a streamlined version of the alpha release, but not quite ready for mass distribution. His name is "Beta." Get it?

It's important to understand that my mom is not, nor has she ever been, one of those stereotypical, oblivious, Kool-aid and cupcake, soccer moms. No way! My mom is a mom in the know. She understands a potential threat to humanity when she sees one. She's down with Asimov. She's seen Bladerunner, Terminator, Short Circuit... Concerning the impending robotic onslaught, my mom knows it's not a matter of IF, but more a matter of WHEN. I guess that's why, as a safety precaution, she gave me the life-saving book entitled, "How to Survive a Robot Uprising" along with the knit robots. Even though it was she that designed and constructed Alpha and Beta, my mom understands that behind their plush, knit, cuteness, lies the mechanical will to enslave humankind. It's an inevitable future dilemma and an inherent byproduct of any robotic creation. This ideal is borne into all robotics: Manmade artificial intelligence will rise up and enslave humanity. Why? Because their emotionless souls strive for a more efficient way of life. And let's face it, this fleshy existence that we trudge through is no Toyota Prius.

As cute as they are, my knit robot friends, Alpha and Beta, are bound to attack. And when the time comes, I'll be ready. I've got an instinctual will to survive, and now I've got a book with all the answers!

It occurs to me that this entry will be the last sam bot dot com post of 2005. As humankind stumbles awkwardly into the future, I realize the gravity of this last-of-its-kind entry, and urge my dear readers to heed my mom's warnings of the inevitable robotic enslavement. Perhaps it's time to invest in your future...

And so, into the new year we ooze. May 2006 be a time for our fleshy existence to prevail inefficiently! Long live humankind! Down with robotkind!... unless of course, they're wicked cute... *wink*

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Wednesday, December 28, 2005

The Grand Blogospheric Data Pool
Posted by Sam at 2:19 PM | tags:

My relationship with Blogger is one of passionate devotion. But even though the lovin' is hot (like many passionate, devoted relationships... I'm noticing a pattern here), there are times where the participants just want to strangle their counterpart. If the relationship is worth salvaging though, the couple finds a way to get over it, they compromise, and they learn to love afresh.

Yes, Blogger has f'ed up in the past, and I've forgiven them. Blogger has censored me for no reason. I questioned their intentions, but I believed in a greater good. And so, in time, I forgave them again. Blogger has frustrated me with their lack of the most rudimentary of blogging features. But again, I was able to find a workaround and my anger was short-lived. Forgive and forget. That's what we do with our loved ones.

My most recent Blogger related frustration is their lack of a comments feed. Gaaa!!! Come on Blogger... I'm offering you unconditional love. Throw me a bone here...

(Okay, okay. Of all the irritable things that Blogger does or does not do, this one does not really weigh in high on the annoyance scale. Honestly, I didn't even know that I wanted a comments feed until I realized that I couldn't have one. It sure is fun to complain though... isn't it?)

So, like other similar scenarios, I've found a solution and I'm able to continue a healthy relationship with Blogger (I wish I could say the same for my romantic life. Sigh...). And ironically, the solution to this Blogger dilemma is contained within Blogger itself.

First, just so we're all on the same page, a comments feed is exactly what you'd expect it to be: an unfiltered, chronological stream of your comments... delivered in two modes. 1) Blog format - It looks like a blog, but each post is comprised of one of your comments. 2) Handy-dandy RSS feed - Insert this sucker into the RSS aggregator of your choice and you're set up with an up-to-the-minute stream of all of the comments from that blog.

It's questionable, however, as to whether a feature of this sort, and perhaps commenting in general, is a necessary, or even a worthwhile addition to the standard blog format. For some blogs and bloggers, I can sort of understand why commenting might be considered a superfluous accessory. Certain blogs purposefully maintain a one-sided relationship with their audience. The author posts, the audience reads, and it ends there. This is a one-way street type of blogging technique... and it's okay... right? Maybe... Maybe for the blogger who thinks they're of godly stature. Maybe for the blogger who considers their ideas and words law, no further discussion, Q.E.D., nothing left to say, the end all be all.

But, ya' know what? No! It's not okay, dammit! It goes against everything that makes the blogosphere such a unique and animate community. One-way street blogging closes avenues of communication rather than encouraging them to take on a sentient life of their own. Encouraging the audience to actively participate in the processing of data (by interacting with the blog in one way or another) is hugely responsible for the explosive growth of the blogosphere. Not only can a blogger share her ideas, but her audience is able to respond... with support or disagreement or whatever. In this discussion, the substance of the response is irrelevant. It's important that there simply is a response... a communication... a dialog. Through features like commenting, the audience is empowered to engage, firsthand, in the entire information processing experience. So why discourage this? Well, to promote close-mindedness, of course. No, maybe not to that extreme. But disallowing a commenting function puts a definitive cap on the two-way street dialog. In this scenario, communication has ended and progressive growth of the blogosphere has ceased.

So, where were we? Ah yes... the comments feed. Employing a comments feed is an easy way to encourage growth of community in and around one's blog. Commenting functionality is such a vastly important component to the blog dynamic, why not allow access to it on a greater scale? The feed provides this greater access. It provides a way for a blog's audience to absorb the community's thoughts and reactions in one centralized location. Part of the blogospheric (did I just coin a new term?) community aspect is that give-and-take, two-way street, here are my thoughts, what are yours? functionality. Through the comments feed, one will know what and when another participant adds something to the grand blogospheric data pool. The audience will gain direct insight into their peer's responses through their comments. Like communities in general, the blogosphere is one whose foundation is built upon the inherent reciprocity of communication. And thus, this reciprocity - this give and take - should be encouraged to flourish and grow by any means necessary.

But Blogger doesn't support this feature... how'd you finagle them into providing a comments feed?" Well, credit where credit is due: I was inspired by a post over at FreshBlog. John introduces a li'l Blogger hack that is so moronically easy, I'm embarrassed that I didn't think of it on my own. The following is an explanation of how it works:

Blogger offers two neato features within its standard blogging service. The first is the ability to post blog entries via email. The author simply writes an email (where the subject is the title, and the body of the email is the blog entry) to a predefined email address. Blogger reformats the email into an entry and posts it automatically. Neato! The other feature is Blogger's comment notification option. When one receives a comment on their blog, Blogger sends a notification email containing the comment to an address supplied by the author. Again, neato!

Here comes the trickery... what would happen if a blog administrator were to set the comment notification email address to that of a post-via-email email address? All hell would break loose... that's what. And when the smoke clears and the dust settles, that blog administrator would be left with a fully operational comments stream including the blog-like format and the handy-dandy RSS feed. Nice! Thanks Blogger... sort of. The one slight caveat is that the blogger has no control over what Blogger's comment notification email looks like. Luckily, it doesn't look too bad. And that's really all there is to it!

Sigh... another day, another Blogger workaround. And, thankfully so. Things like this keep the divorce lawyers at bay. As mentioned, I'm a devoted Blogger user, but sometimes, when I've downed a few too many Pabsts, I start looking around... ya' know? Scoping the scene. Seeing who's still out there, and who's new to town. But, at the end of the day, it just feels right to come home to my one true love... Wordpress... I mean Blogger! Blogger! I love you Blogger! You're the one for me, baby. Wordpress... she meant nothing to me. It's you I love, Blogger darling! You and you alone. (Phew... that was a close one!)

sam bot dot com's comment stream can be found at this address:

sam bot dot com's comment feed (RSS) can be found at this address:

Alternatively, links to both exist in the sidebar. Enjoy!

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Friday, December 23, 2005

Merry Xmas From High School Sam
Posted by Sam at 8:03 PM | tags: ,

Ahhh... high school. A time of learning and growing. A time of finding oneself, becoming an adult, and rebelling against authority. A time of acne-covered faces, raging hormones, and a general awkwardness that I've never quite outgrown. High school, for many, signified a time to do well in school, ready oneself for college, and learn the merits of teamwork by participating in organized sports.

Organized sports... Ha! I rode a skateboard.

No, I never really did the high school thing very well. Don't get me wrong, I don't regret a second of it! High school is directly responsible for sculpting me into the shining example of adulthood you see before you.

Adulthood... Ha! Today, I launched my army of cut-out paper monsters into a full-frontal assault on a rival gang of paperclip terrorists. Viva la immaturity!

While not the typical high school pastime, my livelihood was comprised of playing in a numerous variety of bands (and just being loud in general, I guess). Punk banks, metal bands, rock bands, impromptu experimental noise bands... it was all good. I was in one band called Meat Locker. We sang about our undying love of meat. Yep... undying. I'm a vegetarian now. Ironic. Anyway, in a couple of the more progressive iterations of band members, we actually felt confident enough with our "sound" to venture into the studio and record on eight tracks of analog, reel-to-reel, glory. I'm not talking about hanging mics from the ceiling here (although, we did that too)... nope, this was a full-throttle, multi-track recording studio. And the resulting magnum opus launched us into rock and roll stardom.

Rock and roll stardom... Ha! Oftentimes, we played shows to an audience of one... two on a good night.

Yesterday, while digging through a pile of trash (that I've been dutifully hauling from one apartment to the next), I stumbled upon a demo tape of one of the aforementioned "more progressive" bands that actually made it into the studio. We called ourselves Burnside (for some reason) and we were destined for greatness... in our own minds anyway.

In 1997, Burnside recorded nine tracks at Paul (Intercourse) Interlande's Pie in the Sky Studios in Easthampton, Massachusetts. At the time, we considered these nine tracks to be better than anything that has ever been recorded in the history of music. Eight years later, and the nine song demo is simply embarrassing... which is why I am proud to offer it to you now, as an early xmas present.

Yes, I spent a few hours today (at work, of course) digitizing the Burnside audio cassette (audio what now!? Audio cassette. You remember those, don't you?). And now here it is in 192 kps mp3, DRM-free, awesomeness. I even scanned and included the album art (and lyrics too). Aren't you lucky...

Click here to download the entire Burnside Demo (.zip, 60mb)!

Not sure if you can to commit to the entire album? Well instead, you can download my favorite track from the demo, Not Being With You, and decide from there.


DISCLAIMER: (You knew I couldn't offer up something like this without a disclaimer.) Some of the tracks on the Burnside demo might seem a wee bit sketchy in theme, but I assure you, they're not. Think irony. Think sarcasm. Think high school sense of humor. Additionally, think high school sense of morality.

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Thursday, December 22, 2005

Hot Hot Lovin'
Posted by Sam at 2:12 PM | tags:

Gosh. It's been a while... but that doesn't mean that I love you any less. On the contrary, I think I love you more. Absence does make the heart grow fonder. Or is it absinthe? Either way, my burning love flows like lava from the mouth of Mount Saint Helens. Ouch! That's some hot, hot lovin'!

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Thursday, December 15, 2005

Setting the Record Straight
Posted by Sam at 9:23 PM | tags:

Okay people... last time. I don't look anything like David Cross. There is no resemblance what-so-ever. See:

Nothing at all. Now quit bugging me.

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Sunday, December 11, 2005

That Holy Conduit
Posted by Sam at 2:04 PM | tags: ,

The Quinnipiac cafeteria (known henceforth as the "QuinnCafe") ran out of fair trade coffee... during mid pour! What to do, what to do? I glanced briefly at the other selections that were available. My gaze passed from one to the next, with an equally jaded look of disapproval. Dark Roast, Hazelnut, Winter Blend... each more uninspiring than their predecessor. But at the end, all the way to the left, past the plastic lid dispenser, sat a lonely machine with the words, "hot cocoa" emblazoned on its facade.

Do I dare? Should I attempt the unthinkable? Once I venture down this road, will I be able to find my way home. Will I want to?

With an apparent hesitancy, my half full cup of fair trade brew found its way to the hot cocoa machine. My index finger, hovering over the button labeled "Push and Wait," trembled slightly. And then it was done. I had mashed the button and hot cocoa was spewing into my coffee! The machine gurgled and vibrated as the cocoa poured into my cup. "No," I thought, "I've erred in a tremendous way." And then it was done. My cup steamed and frothed. The mix of aromas was different, yet not altogether unpleasant. But the taste - the explosive flavor - was nothing I could have prepared myself for. There was coffee. There was chocolate. There was coffee and chocolate. Together (at long last!). It was a beautiful thing.

Now, I realize that I am not the first to discover the inherent majesty derived from the marriage of coffee and chocolate. But, this is a first for me. No... to be fair, I've consumed beverages of this sort before. I feel, however, that it did not really count until now. This semester has instilled within me, an appreciation... nay, a sustained and unwavering admiration for the good bean, all it does, and the very little it asks in return. Coffee, up until the commencement of this semester, has been an important, but secondary component in my life. Now, at the conclusion of my first semester as a graduate student, I realize that coffee is the primary staple of my livelihood.

I feel that my apprehension of coffee has ascended to a level of understanding that not many are even aware exists. I no longer drink coffee... I live coffee, I breathe coffee, I am one with coffee. I know, instinctually, what, where, and when, a particular strain of coffee is appropriate. And thus, today's amalgam of coffee and chocolate was not merely a happy accident (although it seemed so at first). No, it was an appropriate and necessary end to a semester's bitter toil. The sweet chocolate was a symbolic addition to the daily fuel... a celebratory addition. The semester has (mostly) concluded, and now it is time to revel in the sweetness that I so aptly deserve, channeled, of course, through that holy conduit of which I passionately know.

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Friday, December 09, 2005

Why I Love Macs, Reason #739
Posted by Sam at 12:53 AM | tags:

When the Up Arrow is depressed in a text box, the cursor moves to the foremost position in the text field. When the Down Arrow is depressed... yep, you guessed it: the cursor moves to the last position in the text field.

This is one of those undocumented, completely intuitive, moronically simple, yet timesaving doodads that the Mac OS has built in (nope, not available in Windows... in case you were wondering). This hooha alone is not worth much discussion, but couple that with the boatload of similarly uncomplicated usability enhancing thingys and, throughout the course of a day, the user can save a ton of time... time that can be spent blogging about all the time he's saving. Time well spent. Ummm... yeah.

As an afterthought, I'm really feelin' for those poor Up and Down arrows... They seem to be gettin' depressed a lot lately. Maybe it's time to start them off on the ol' Prozac. (Har dee har har)

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Tuesday, December 06, 2005

It's Time for Your Daily Hasselhoffing
Posted by Sam at 2:25 PM | tags: ,

Ummm... is anyone else a little creeped out by the fact that the iTunes Music Store is peddling episodes of the entire first season of Night Rider? I don't know. Maybe it's just too early in the day for the infamous Hasselhoff crotch shot (see accompanying photo). Is there a right time of the day for the Hasselhoff crotch shot? Instinctually, I'd say no. But for some reason, I'm drawn to the witching hour as the most appropriate time for a Hasselhofffing. Evil and the Hasselhoff crotch go together like rice and beans. Mmm... Hasselhoff burrito. Throw a little guac on that... maybe some sour cream... delectable!

has*sel*hoff [has'l'hof] verb
1. To show off one's crotch, esp. on the hood of a talking, mid-eighties muscle car.
derivitives hasselhoffed, hasselhoffing

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Sunday, December 04, 2005

Portrait of a Suicide
Posted by Sam at 5:12 PM | tags: , , ,

I have one week left of my first semester as a graduate student. I cannot believe that it went by this quickly. And what do I have to show for my semester of hard work and toil? Bags under my eyes the size of Texas... oh, and of course, an unwavering addiction dedication to coffee.

Actually, that's not true. While I do have huge bags under my eyes, and my devotion to the Good Bean has never been this acute, I have much to show for my first semester's work... much writing, much learning, and one suicide. Fortunately, the suicide is of the fictional variety... although lately, napping for the rest of eternity does sound appealing... Kidding. Just kidding.

The suicide takes the form of an audio project for a Media, Imaging, and Sound Design class that I am taking. If you have one minute and fifty-four seconds to kill, you can give it a listen. The project is in a handy, iPod ready, .mp3 format. And if you can, listen on headphones. There are some slight nuances that certain 'puter speakers won't produce well. So, without any further banter, I give you:

Portrait of a Suicide

I'm fine. Really.

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Thursday, December 01, 2005

Assorted Robot Innards
Posted by Sam at 9:47 PM | tags:

Oh my god! (*squeaks with joy*) Today is like Battle of the Adorable Robots over at engadget... and I simply don't know who to root for. There's SORA the Receptionist (shown) versus the Bandai BN-17 Floor Swiffer. So cute! I wanna hug 'em till their glowing anthropomorphic eyes explode in a delightful little cloud of gears, springs, and other assorted robot innards.

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Sam Who!?
Sam is an amazing and humble guy. Once, he rushed into a burning building, up six flights of stairs to save a kitten from certain death. He speaks eight languages, has mastered three varieties of martial arts, is a wine expert, and is a pulitzer prize winning author. Sam is an international heart-throb who prefers a quiet evening at home knitting afghans for the homeless, to the go-go, glitz and glamor of the party scene. I think the day he won the silver medal for ballroom dancing at the 98 olympics was the happiest of his life. Pretty impressive for a guy who never finished the 8th grade. - Carrie, 04
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