Ocean travel without a boat

Journal of Peter Greenwell

Tag: random

Last.fm or completelylostit.fm?

I’m a fairly short term user of last.fm and in that time I’ve gathered seventeen “friends”, including my oldest daughter, most of us whom share similar esoteric music tastes, courtesy of an innate feature last.fm called the taste-o-meter.

One of the superb features of this website was you could see what your friends were listening to when you logged on to the site. I’ve discovered a bunch of new and intriguing music this way. Not only that, the website had a lively and vibrant group/forum scene where you could meet new people and their music.

In other words, it was a community. People coming together, if only virtually.

Not any more.

It’s gone all “Web 3.0” or whatever this kind of design is called, which is all the rage out there right now. Even the theme I’m using here has this kind of full-screeny black/glossy domination. Further, the community nature of the website has been minimised to near non-existence. Friends have been renamed followers, a term which some people may well have negative relations with. The interaction with fellow humans on last.fm is, in all practical senses, gone. I have no clear indication of what they’re doing unless I click on the followers link. Yeah sure, it’s one extra step, but it’s one extra step away from interaction and community-building. Your “About Me” profile is limited to 200 characters, meaning no true personalisation or design.

No album art in the song lists…for reasons I can only ascribe to “just-because-ism”, they now list your music in song/artist format, where the obverse is the normal and more logical way.

Gee, I don’t know. Getting the community feel of last.fm back seems to be last on the list of things to do for the owners and developers. They’ve got the pretty design down pat, the big glaring pictures of your favourite artists all there, lots of javascript and Web 3.0 glossy black and dark-toned sexiness…but minimal community.

In practical terms, it’s now a single user site that you log into.

And of the subject of community, if you want to communicate with last.fm and its myriad of now-aggrieved users, they’ve outsourced the forums to a place called getsatisfaction.com, and the irony of that domain name is not lost on me.

I mean…really? If you’re going to jazz up your website to the latest fad design going around, wouldn’t you do so with your community functionality intact? Wouldn’t you endeavour to minimise alienation and potential subscription loss by not destroying (or putting on the to do list) the very thing that made your site big to begin with? The community?

Time for the Jackie Chan meme as the last.fm redesign simply makes no sense from a community point of view. It’s annihilated the community.

Jackie Chan

Who died again?

Just a quick update. Looks like News Corp have strangely captioned the reporting of actor JJ Murphy’s death. The picture speaks for itself, though in case you didn’t know, the portrayed actor is Peter Dinklage.

the wrong actor

What D&D character am I?

I Am A: Chaotic Neutral Human Druid (5th Level)

Ability Scores:
Strength-13
Dexterity-13
Constitution-11
Intelligence-13
Wisdom-9
Charisma-12

Alignment:
Chaotic Neutral A chaotic neutral character follows his whims. He is an individualist first and last. He values his own liberty but doesn’t strive to protect others’ freedom. He avoids authority, resents restrictions, and challenges traditions. A chaotic neutral character does not intentionally disrupt organizations as part of a campaign of anarchy. To do so, he would have to be motivated either by good (and a desire to liberate others) or evil (and a desire to make those different from himself suffer). A chaotic neutral character may be unpredictable, but his behavior is not totally random. He is not as likely to jump off a bridge as to cross it. Chaotic neutral is the best alignment you can be because it represents true freedom from both society’s restrictions and a do-gooder’s zeal. However, chaotic neutral can be a dangerous alignment when it seeks to eliminate all authority, harmony, and order in society.

Race:
Humans are the most adaptable of the common races. Short generations and a penchant for migration and conquest have made them physically diverse as well. Humans are often unorthodox in their dress, sporting unusual hairstyles, fanciful clothes, tattoos, and the like.

Class:
Druids gain power not by ruling nature but by being at one with it. They hate the unnatural, including aberrations or undead, and destroy them where possible. Druids receive divine spells from nature, not the gods, and can gain an array of powers as they gain experience, including the ability to take the shapes of animals. The weapons and armor of a druid are restricted by their traditional oaths, not simply training. A druid’s Wisdom score should be high, as this determines the maximum spell level that they can cast.

Find out What Kind of Dungeons and Dragons Character Would You Be?, courtesy of Easydamus (e-mail)

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Detailed Results:

Alignment:
Lawful Good —– XXXXXXXXXX (10)
Neutral Good —- XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX (16)
Chaotic Good —- XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX (17)
Lawful Neutral — XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX (16)
True Neutral —- XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX (22)
Chaotic Neutral – XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX (23)
Lawful Evil —– XXXXXXXXXXXX (12)
Neutral Evil —- XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX (18)
Chaotic Evil —- XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX (19)

Law & Chaos:
Law —– XXXX (4)
Neutral – XXXXXXXXXX (10)
Chaos — XXXXXXXXXXX (11)

Good & Evil:
Good —- XXXXXX (6)
Neutral – XXXXXXXXXXXX (12)
Evil —- XXXXXXXX (8)

Race:
Human —- XXXXXXXXXXXXX (13)
Dwarf —- XXXXXXXX (8)
Elf —— XXXXXXXXXXXX (12)
Gnome —- XXXX (4)
Halfling – XXXX (4)
Half-Elf – XXXXXXXXX (9)
Half-Orc – XXXXXXXXXX (10)

Class:
Barbarian – (-2)
Bard —— (-4)
Cleric —- (-6)
Druid —– XXXXXX (6)
Fighter — (-2)
Monk —— (-21)
Paladin — (-15)
Ranger —- (-2)
Rogue —– (0)
Sorcerer — XX (2)
Wizard —- XX (2)

What has went well

What’s happened since 24 December 2011? I’ve completed my first year at Uni. Did fairly well too. The first ever post in this blog stated I’d attend the University of New England and do botany. Didn’t quite go that way. Actually ended up at Southern Cross Uni in Lismore doing a Bachelor of Environmental Science. Completed the following subjects this year:

Earth Systems 1: The Lithosphere (geology, in other words)
Biology
Global Environmental Issues
Environmental Information Management
Chemistry
Ecology
Earth Systems 2: The Hydrosphere (weather, climate and water systems)
Environmental Information Analysis

I’m currently doing Statistical Analysis, which is a voluntary third semester subject – felt like I needed to keep abreast of statistics.

Next year I’ll be doing Forestry Science and Management, which is more my “thing” than just straight Environmental Science. I dig plants – figuratively and literally.

Other non-scholastic stuff? Radically changed my diet about nine days ago. Stopped eating a lot of things and I control what goes into my mouth now. Mainly baked beans, Weet-Bix, mushrooms, fruit, the odd bread roll. No meat or chocolates or stuff. I drank coffee and cocoa, and they need to go, but I’ll ease out of them gradually. I drink a lot of diet cordial.

So far, so good. No headaches. I don’t know what it was, but I’d been getting frequent headaches. Now I don’t get them at all – as I suspected, it was food related.

In other areas, it’s all systems go.

And yes, in general, I feel good about myself.

Top Ten characters in F&SF

I compiled this list some time ago and nope, I couldn’t be bothered revising it.

  1. Cugel from the Cugel books of Jack Vance. – What can I say? He’s the best and worst of any character I can think of. Every thing he does and every step he takes is entertaining.
  2. Ullii from the Well of Echoes quartet by Ian Irvine. – A plug for a fellow Australian here. I loved this character, one of the best drawn women I have read in fiction. Superbly done. Shame about the remainder of the characters.
  3. Master Eremis from the Mordant duo by Stephen Donaldson. – Superbly nasty piece of work. A believable super-intelligent villain.
  4. Steerpike of the first two Gormenghast books by Mervyn Peake. – I doubt I could add to anything else that’s already been written about him.
  5. Aila Woudiver from The Pnume by Jack Vance, – Vance’s best villain. One of fiction’s best villains.
  6. Weena from the Time Machine by H. G. Wells, – come on, who *didn’t* want to go back and try and save her life?
  7. Rupert of Hentzau from a Prisoner of Zenda and Rupert of Hentzau by (Sir) Anthony Hope, – I couldn’t tell you why, he’s just an energetic bad guy. And yes, neither of these books are F&SF in any way. But I’m allowed ring-ins – it’s my website!
  8. David Strorm from The Chrysalids by John Wyndham, – An appealing young man who you genuinely care about what happens to. I did, anyway.
  9. Bannor from the first Thomas Covenant trilogy by Stephen Donaldson, – Solid as a rock. The utter definition of still waters run deep.
  10. Federico de Soya from the Hyperion and Endymion books by Dan Simmons, – Total, all round solid character.

Deforested Minhiriath

Quite a few places mention how Minhiriath’s forests were felled by the Dunedain in the Second Age, and then how the entire region was depopulated (or almost so) after the Great Plague in TA 1636. Most, if not all, sites and books still make the claim that the region is deforested. Well, assuming the climate and hydrology hasn’t changed, there’s no reason why the great forests wouldn’t re-grow. There’s nobody there to cut them down, is there? The War of the Ring started in TA 3018. That’s 1382 years of potential regrowth. More than mother Nature needs, trust me.

There’d be forests in Minhiriath again.

map of minhiriath

What I’ve been up to

Quite a few things.

One of the best things I’ve done is speak with a psychologist. She’s help me focus on a few things that I’d tried to push aside. Push aside? Yes, like a few people, I have a fear of success. I can’t stand success or the place where it’s been, to steal a line from a Church song.

So, she advised me to do a few things. Mind map, was one. Get a whiteboard and map it all out – the things that are going on I need to put down in concrete form. When I get good ideas (which is often, dare I say), they get lost in my head in a non-sequential jumble. Mindmapping is a tremendous way to logically sort them out. I recommend it.

She’s also shown me that I’ve been putting off for years something I’ve always wanted to do – go to university. Guess what? It’s becoming a reality. By the start of 2012, I will be enrolled with the University of New England doing science majoring in botany.

http://www.une.edu.au/study/botany/

A future as a scientist – where I go boldly into the unknown in the world of plants. There were two other things I would’ve studied had botany not taken precedence. One was astronomy/physics, the other was ancient history. The former requires a very deep and commanding knowledge of advanced mathematics, which I simply don’t have (and will never have). Ancient history has a lesser career path than botany, and there are two general directions for it – archaeology and teaching. The former appeals to me, the latter doesn’t.

I’ll be a mature age student. As you may guess from my user name, I’m 42, 43 at the end of the year. Time isn’t running backwards and I want to do something to leave my mark on this world, and in a good way.

Science is it.

Oh, and I’ve finally got two of my novels up on Amazon to buy. More on that soon!

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