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Derek Zumsteg
11 August 2009 @ 01:46 pm
Does not mean 'doesn't care' no matter how many times it's used incorrectly in the same meeting. Or sentence.



 
 
Derek Zumsteg
11 August 2009 @ 07:49 am
When I take the bus into work, I like to catch the 7:32 if I can. It's a tough stretch to get out the door in time, but if I miss the next one's not far off.

But there's this guy who gets there way earlier, and every time I get to the stop when the bus is within sight he makes a snarky comment:
Cutting it close!
Lucky!
Running late today!

Which fine, whatever, except:
He has this smug expression with smile he gives that makes me want to punch him
He will actually pause - not making the bus wait for me pause, only when I've cut it so close I'm walking up to the door as he gets on - to deliver it

I wonder if this is the highlight of his day, that he got his quip in, or issued a stern reprimand to a laggard.




 
 
Derek Zumsteg
03 July 2009 @ 02:31 pm

Originally published at Hate Life, Will Travel. You can comment here or there.

I’ve got a new short story, about black holes, astronomy, and redemption and prepared food, in the latest (August) issue, on newstands and in mailboxes now. Well, probably before now, I just got back from vacation. It looks like so:

Check it out.

 
 
Derek Zumsteg
06 June 2009 @ 08:07 pm

Originally published at Hate Life, Will Travel. You can comment here or there.

I’ve always enjoyed his film criticism, and particularly his desire to find a way to use film criticism to elevate both film making and film watching. He’s a passionate advocate for the joy and awe of movies, and I’ve learned so much from him that even in disagreement I feel like I’ve learned something. I long enjoyed his occasional forays into essays on other subjects, and in recent years he’s written more and more about his life, his career in newspapers, and lately even creationism and his own Catholic upbringing. And sometimes in his essays, aided by his years of experience honing his writing, he manages these moments in his writing that make me shake my head in admiration.

And sometimes, he just totally cracks me up. Here’s him writing about Vincent, a Chicago guy who is the subject of a documentary, but in discussing it Ebert’s able to… well, here’s a long clip:

One person in the doc speculates that Vincent has spent a lot of his life being stigmatized and isolated, and the suits are a way of breaking down barriers. I confess that the first time I saw him, I saw a man with unfocused squinting eyes and a weird suit, and leaped to conclusions. But by the time I saw this documentary, things had changed in my life. Anyone seeing me walk down the street would notice an unsteady gait, a bandage around my neck, and my mouth sometimes gaping open. If they didn’t know me, they might assume I was the Village Idiot. You can easily imagine Vincent becoming an isolated agoraphobe, locked onto a computer screen. But he spends hours every day in the fresh air and sunshine, picking up that tan and getting lots of exercise.

That’s why I respond to Vincent, and applaud him. If people take one look at me and don’t approve of what they see, my position is: Fuck ‘em if they can’t take a joke. So here is a man who likes to wear pimp suits and wave them at tour boats. So why not? What are the people on the boats so busy doing that they don’t have time for that? I suspect something like 99 percent of them are more entertained by Vincent than by the information that Mies van der Rohe designed the IBM Building, which stands across the street as an affront to the tinny new Trump Tower. As least they can smile and wave and tell the folks at home about that wacky guy they saw on the bridge.

Yeah. I love Ebert.

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Derek Zumsteg

Originally published at Hate Life, Will Travel. You can comment here or there.

Vinny: “I always figured that at the end… you know…”
Jeff: “You would have to slit Yosuke’s throat because he had gone bad?”
Vinny, whispered: “That would be awesome.”

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Derek Zumsteg
31 May 2009 @ 04:04 pm

Originally published at Hate Life, Will Travel. You can comment here or there.

From the crits of my short story:
“It didn’t feel like one of your stories, and not because it was good.” — Mark
“I was waiting to find out if we were at a Renaissance Faire.” — Kira
“You could lose nine pages and I wouldn’t notice.”
and
“As a reader I hate it when characters are smarter than I am.” — Caren

Of course, that’s only fragmentary and quotes are funnier when they seem inadvertently negative, so that’s not how the crits went. But it’s still funny.

 
 
Derek Zumsteg
30 May 2009 @ 07:55 pm

Originally published at Hate Life, Will Travel. You can comment here or there.

I love that when I try to get something 50% improbable working on the Mac, like get some crazy piece of unsupported hardware working, it’s so absolutely chilled out about it. It doesn’t flip out and blue screen or freak out and start throwing errors at me. It doesn’t work, doesn’t work, hey, it works. It’s 95% less stressful than doing equivalent tasks on the PC.

Which, not coincidentally, is now on my desk in pieces and unbootable.

 
 
Derek Zumsteg

Originally published at Hate Life, Will Travel. You can comment here or there.

Here’s Google Wave. It’s a crazy casserole of Twitter, IM, email, Facebook… but what it really is fascinates me.

Let’s say you’re a company that wants to compete against Microsoft. First, that’s just not a good idea in general, but the most viable strategy you have is to reduce whatever Microsoft product you’re going up against to a faceless widget and then build around it. You don’t want to fight SQL Server (or Oracle, for that matter). You want to fund open database alternatives, standards, and go build stuff that runs on any database… and hopefully Microsoft doesn’t envelop and destroy your value-add.

If you’re an airline, you want planes to be a commodity that consumers don’t care about. If you’re Boeing, you’d really love it if people demanded to fly on your planes, so instead you’re duking it out with Airbus and the things that compose and service your planes are what you’re trying to reduce to commodities.

If you’re Expedia, where I work, you want to have a huge catalog of shiny things, but if one of those things was soooo amazingly shiny everyone wanted it and only it, you’d be screwed. And that one hotel could charge whatever they wanted and make ridiculous money.

Twitter and Facebook right now both have early eBay like advantages: your friends are there, so if you want to hang out, you have to go there. Any competitor has to either build on or extend them (which is good for the platforms, because it builds their user base and enhances their features), or offer full compatibility and migrate people over, or offer something that doesn’t look like it’s competition until it’s too late.

Like Twitter v Facebook: Twitter’s this dumb, clunky thing, has some users, and then bam, suddenly everyone’s on it so everyone wants to be on it, and soon Facebook’s dumping things it does right to offer an experience closer to Twitter…

Anyway. So say you’re Google, and your business is essentially contextual ads. You don’t get to put those on Twitter feeds, and any revenue sharing with Facebook’s going to have to beat the spread they can get themselves. So why not just take a shot at destroying their entire ecosystem?

Because say Google Wave works. Then, like Gmail, they can try and offer the best interface to this new wonder commodity and slap their super-smart contextual ads on it, and they’re off to the races. Facebook’s built a Facebook platform, Twitter’s built a platform for social media jerks to auto-follow and spam each other continually, but Google Wave puts Twitter in the same bucket as the Twitter competitors, leveling them all, and then it makes your social network home irrelevant, because who cares if you’re using Facebook or MySpace if Wave helps suck up all the interesting stuff in them?

I don’t know if it’ll work… but it’s brilliant as a business move.

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Derek Zumsteg
27 May 2009 @ 04:00 pm

Originally published at Hate Life, Will Travel. You can comment here or there.

I was trying to get Win 7 set up so I could do some… well, it doesn’t matter, but it involved VMware Fusion, the Windows 7 RC, a lot of reboots, and a ton of me staring at Windows config screens and scratching my chin occasionally. Anyway, it felt more and more off, like there was something I just wasn’t getting, and I got a little more anxious each time I’d try and hook up a network resource and get stuck on the domain, or try some setting tweak that didn’t quite make sense.

A good hour in, I realized the sounds just barely audible over my Mac Mini’s almost-silent fan were actually music. iTunes had shuffled to “Absolutego” by Boris (in fact, “Absolutego - Special Low Frequency Version” which is described by allmusic thusly:

And talk about buildups, this thing starts with a full 25 minutes of heavily down-tuned bass rumblings and doom-instilling guitar feedback before the drums and vocals finally kick in with the big payoff. From there, the band moves through about 15 minutes of thick, fuzzed-out trance rock (again, mostly instrumental) before the drums exit again, leaving in their wake a howling, droning mass of layered guitar feedback. The sound of this is truly massive and unsettling. It takes a good 25 more minutes for the wreckage to clear and the track to finally wind down to a close — it seems strange to say it, but anything less would have seemed like an abrupt halt, such is the magnitude of this track.

Kids… don’t attempt troubleshooting while listening to stuff like this. With your concentration focused elsewhere, it’ll seep into things, melting your brain, and will mess you up severely.

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Derek Zumsteg

Originally published at Hate Life, Will Travel. You can comment here or there.

Here.

HOST: Is there some cost to you, psychologically or emotionally, in using these techniques?

TONY: Yes. When I came back I was experiencing intense guilt. I’m still dealing with that, and I think that any sane person put in the situation that I was of brutalizing a helpless person, it doesn’t matter who they are, you’re going to suffer psychological consequences. A friend of mine trained with me as an interrogator and trained in Arabic with me. She was sent to Iraq and asked to use these harsh techniques in the interrogation booth in Tal Afar. She refused, twice. She was ultimately taken off of her post. She… she killed herself rather than use these techniques. We’re asking our young servicemen and women to make a choice. To torture people or destroy themselves, and I don’t think that’s how we want to treat our service people.