Saturday, December 03, 2011

The ever new universe

Today watching the Star Wars the clone war cartoon series I noticed something that really annoyed me. The ever new universe, what I mean is that the new enemies or species encountered never seem to be using Starship, weapon or architecture we have seen before in the universe.  While that might make sense in universe where the characters are always at the edge of their known space and encountering species we have never seen before, it really breaks down in Star Wars.

The galactic republic is supposed to have existed for some 20 000 years, it’s culture and law been respected all over the galaxies. While it is understandable that the variety of starship and architecture we could encounter in a galaxy is way beyond what we could see in a tvserie, it also stand to reason that better design would be more prevalent (or at least design with better marketing teams). And there will be probably some form of standardization over large market, particularly if some group try to join one of the major faction (in the clone war era we are talking Separatist and Republic) either there will have ship that are on part with both, or they will ask for ship to improve their fleet to be on part with both (so as to not get overwhelmed in battle) leading to a standardization of ship.

Now that not the only mater, according to the expended universe Star Wars, some ship are supposed to be very common like the YT-1300 (the base hull for the Millennium falcon) yet how many do we see in the movies and tv series?

Now do not think I’m saying that Star Trek is better, far from it. It had the opportunity with Enterprise of showing first contact with many iconic race of the Star Trek universe. Instead we got new species of the week that was never heard from before even if they brought incredible technology to the federation (holodeck anyone?). I guess what I’m trying to say is: writer innovation is great, but get a feel for the universe first and showing things we’ve seen before might actually be a great think to produce a sense of internal consistency in your universe.

So some news


If anyone reads this blog regularly they might have noticed that despite my promise to post regularly (like everyday) about a month ago post stopped all together. Well, they probably won’t be back to a daily affair, but I will try to post a little more often out here. So you probably want to hear why the situation changed, well quite dramatically. It is quite simple I got a new job (more like a job, since this is technically my first real one) in another city, with a very rapid turn over.

Since this is a very publish form and that I’m a relatively private person I will not give information about my employer here. I’ll say that my post is as a physicist and what I’m doing is R&D (research and devellopment). It is a very interesting job, with a lot of new challenges; I must say that what I’m doing is very different that a PhD in astrophysics, but the skill set is roughly the same.

As for the move well here is roughly the story of how I got the job and where I am now. After finally, resigning myself to needing money and getting an interview thanks to a friend for a minimum wage job, I went out to get something for dinner. When I came back home, I had not one but two messages on my machine. First message telling me that I was hired at the minimum wage place and that I started Monday, second message from a place I had applied to looking for a physicist and wanting to see me for an interview Tuesday. It was 16h55 on a Friday, with little hope I called back to see what it was actually about and if I could reschedule my interview a day I wouldn’t be working, not expecting an answer given the time. Well minutes later, I got a call back. Scheduling a small interview for the next day (Saturday), it went well and we planned for another interview with the company I would by working with owner. Fast-forward the following Friday, where during a trip to Montréal to see a friend I took a detour (thank you Isabelle for the lift) to Sherbrooke to meet with the owner and my interviewer.

So in a rather long interview (that felt really short) I was offer a relatively well paying job in Sherbrooke. Which I accepted and to reduce the financial burden I was, decided to start two week from the interview. So in these two weeks, I found an apartment in Sherbrooke, planned and executed a move and got ready to start a new job. Afterward well there was the settling in period in a new city and here we are now I can write again on this blog. Look forward to more of my thoughts and ideas.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The zombie problem


The walking dead TV series got me thinking about zombies and really how much of a threat they would be in a real situation. Logically zombies are only dangerous to unaware populations that do not know their weakness. They are slow moving, most asthma sufferer can outrun one, they are unable to use tool so a locked sturdy door can keep them at bay for a while, they seems to have human level senses so they need to see, hear or smell you to find you, they are stupid as shit, the average zombie can be tricked to fall from a building top by someone on another building and finally they are very fragile.

Now the last one might surprise a lot of you as zombies are often characterized as almost unstoppable with unending endurance. While it is true that zombies seems to be able to survive trauma that would disable or kill an average human being, they like the previously mentioned human being are very susceptible to head trauma. In fact, jugging by the mythos on the subject zombies seems to be destroyable by any damage to the brain. Now most authors require the trauma to be in the form of a bullet or force sufficient to pierce the skull, but one has to wonder why. If these impacts were sufficient to destroy the brainpower required for a zombie any similar head trauma would cause similar result.

Everybody's opinion

In a free society everybody is entitled to his or her own opinion. However, just because someone has the right to an opinion doesn’t mean this opinion is right or true. And I believe that the right to have an opinion is not a protection from having your opinion challenged. In fact, I believe that in a free society opinion should be challenged and that not every opinion as the same weight/worth.

The opinion of an astronomer on the probable influence of the passage of an asteroid close to Earth, is much more likely to be correct than the opinion of an astrologer or someone with no knowledge of physics or science. And even where this astronomer to be wrong about the asteroid influence, his opinion should still have more weight than the astrologer’s and profane. That might seem strange, but the opinion of this astronomer is based on years, if not decade of studying the universe and how asteroid or other celestial object behave, his opinion is based on repeatable fact and information. The opinion from the astrologer is based on demonstrably false concept and there is no telling what the profane opinion is based on. You might counter by saying, but what if the astrologer’s opinion was right? It still doesn’t matter (unless the principles of astrology could be shown to be true, or even just workable) arriving at the right answer when you make a guess (uneducated) is just a coincidance.

Finally, based on this opinion should not all be given the same weight in the media, it is not showing both side to give as much time to creationist as is given to scientist. It might seem fair and unbiased, but it is very unfair and biased toward creationist. Think about this, their opinion is demonstrably wrong, is based on the words in a book with lots of demonstrably wrong conclusion about the world and held by a very small minority of scientist (strangely almost none of which are actually studiying biology). It’s exactly like having a medical show talking about birth and pregnancy and giving half the time slot to proponent of the stork theory of birth.

Is money the only problem?


I’m talking about our system right now, no my own situation, is money really the only problem? I mean lets say the occupy wall street and the other anti capitalistic movement manage to do what they seem to want and “overthrow” capitalism in favor of a more equalitarian society, would the problem we now face be solved?

I do admit and believe that people and institution with money have an undue weight in our western society. It is far too easy for rich people to influence the decision of the elected (or unelected official for that matter) with gift, and reason that their welfare help the nation through jobs and investment. It is after all much easier to answer the needs and question of a single person than those of the population.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

More annoyance with Windows 7


After more than one year of having nothing but good things to say about windows 7, once again tonight one of its behavior just make me go, WTF. I was playing an MMO (DDO, which is my MMO of choice at the moment) and suddenly the game quit, my software started to close themselves automatically and windows started to reboot by itself. After getting the don’t turn off your computer windows is updating itself and seeing the computer reboot and tell me the windows updating itself message, I figured that the cause was the windows update process…

Well of course, apparently the default behavior is install the updates right fucking now, including rebooting automatically for maximum annoyance to the user. How can anyone think that any user could want this kind of behavior? Force quitting everything and rebooting with minimal input (none in my case, it might have been a pop up with a timer, but it didn’t acquire focus from the game I was playing so I could not stop it) is not a good way to proceed with update. At worse, put up periodic message to remind the user to reboot or if no user process are currently running send a timed message asking for reboot that will automatically reboot if no user process is started in the next 2-3 minutes.  Hopefully that will be my last complain with windows 7, I actually like the OS right now and would hate to start feeling it is just another annoyingly bad iteration of windows.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

The advice you receive when you are single.


I’ve been single a while now and I have received (and read online) quite a few advices on how to find a girlfriend.  Some of them are self-contradictionary, other strange and some more puzzling. Let’s looks at a few, and if you ever gave me one ore more of these advice don’t be insulted by my comment, it is only in the name of humor.

You’ll find someone when you stop looking.
All right, I can speak from experience to say that it doesn’t really work, without looking I have yet to find a girlfriend (well I’d say that looking hasn’t been that much more successful).

You have to put yourself out there if you want to find someone.
While not looking I suppose? What putting yourself out there means is not always clear.

To find the girl you’ll love you have to do what you love.
What else do you think I’m doing? You don’t think I go running around doing things I hate right?

It’s a number’s game, flirt with enough girls and one is bound to fall in love with you.
Now, wow that does sound like good advice annoy girl until you find one that pity you enough to be seduced. Ok, I’m behind cynical here, but flirting with girl I don’t find interesting just in case I find someone that might want to date me sound like a very bad base on which to build a relationship.

Well my cynicism is satisfied for a moment so I will skip the other advices for now. Ok, it’s not just my cynicism it’s also “humor” that can’t follow with more bad jokes.

Again with R2D2 and C3P0, please let them be background characters again…


I’ve been following the new Stars Wars: the Clone Wars tv series and it is generally much better than the prequel movies. But the last two episodes that concentrate on the adventure of R2D2 and C3P0, well the bumbling adventure would be more accurate. While I’m not opposed to a comic relief episode (except when the comic is Jar Jar) it is always problematic to have these kinds of episode in what is basically the worse war in Galactic history (if you follow the Star Wars mythos at least).

While it makes sense that these stories occurred within the confine of the war, while in hell would you tell them before other stories in the war? Particularly since they don’t even have background effect on the course of the war or developpement of important characters. I could understand if the bumbling adventure caused a new ally to join the Republic or if they somehow thwarted a side plot of Grievous or Dooku (considering the quality of planning we do see from these two, they must have millions of side plots that can be thwarted by five years old, and not the smart kind of five years old).  But that is another problem with the whole clone war stuff in Star Wars, we are supposed to find Grievous and Dooku to be dangerous shaker and mover of the galaxies that almost defeated the republic (under the direction of Palpatine), but well lets just say that Palatine did not pick the sharpest crayon in the box (probably for a reason, the republic command doesn’t seem to be made from much shaper crayon).

Lastly, there is the scale of things, I understand that in a movie you might or “live” TV show you do not want to have too many battle involving thousands of ships and droids on screen (or even more than a few dozen). But this is a animated show, you can easily put more than a few Venator or Banking Clan Frigate in a combat, make us feel like the resources of the republic and separatist fleets are galaxy sized not small poor country sized. Oh and one last complain, please let the separatist win on screen once in a while, with so many defeat it’s a wonder they do not simply give up and ask the jedi for forgiveness.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Well now I have something bad to say about windows 7

I’ve been largely satisfied with windows 7 since I’ve had it (which is close to the very beginning of windows 7’s run). It looks relatively good and it works well (I have yet to experience a major crash). But now I’ve found something annoying about the OS, it as a size creep that slowly fills my hard drive. Now, usually that probably wouldn’t be a problem since I would be working on a modern desktop with a few hundred gig of hard drive space. However that not the case, my window bootcamp partition on my Mac is only 30 Go and is used to play one MMO (DDO online if you must know), since windows 7 is supposed to take some 15 Go, and the game somewhere around 5-7 Go, I should have plenty of free space.

Well you can understand my surprise when I found that I had less than 1 Go free this Sunday. I had installed some other old games for distraction a few months back so I decided to delete them and fee some place. With a few Go free, I used the disk cleanup to free a few more Go, by removing some windows temporary files (2 Go worth of windows temporary files…) Now, before rebooting I looked at the free space on my hard drive and found it was at a small but comfortable 4 Go. One reboot later… less than 3 Go free, the missing Go taken up by one of windows system folder.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

It's storytelling time

By looking at the side bar some of you might have noticed that I have another blog, well a story blog according to the description. That second blog is an attempt by me to perfect my “mastery” (or lack thereof) of french by writing short (and no so short) story. This blog had been even more neglected that this one, but in the spirit of writing some more. I’m trying to post some more over there as well. I’ve also updated the layout and posted the beginning of the story I wrote last year for NaNoWriMo, the National Novel Writing Month. Editing it to correct some of the grammar and spelling mistake and straighten the story, I’ve come to realize there are many flaws in the story but hey you might enjoy it, or the others that have been/will be posted there.

The Borg

Yeah, weird title following the previous two posts but I feel like talking about something that relate to this “famous” Star Trek villain. Namely, I feel like talking about how they can be used in a game or in a way in a work of fiction.

One of the main problem with mostly unstoppable villain like the Borg is spikeification, the heroes can only defeat them so many time before they stop being an unstoppable villain and become just another minor threat your hero wipe the floor with. The easy solution to this problem is simply to rarely use them. This raise another problem however, you can’t really use them as the main “villain” or adversary of your work/game. Since you only use your Borgs a few times in your entire campaign they become more like guess stars than the real evil force at work. Another way would be to have then have servant like sub-villain, that the heroes encounter and they get some power and thematic quirks that make them borg-light in a way. I think however that this reduces to the previous problem; your heroes are fighting the Borg impersonators not the Borg themselves. So what to do?

Well, an idea I had (for the Borg themselves, it might not work with other villain or in other universe) is to have them win/ defeat the heroes. Imagine if you will a new Star Trek serie that will feature the Borg as the main villain for a season at least. The first episode of the season would star with the heroes encountering a Borg ship (the smaller the better) around an anomaly (which are so common in Star Trek, it might as well just be an average region of space), as the episode plays out your heroes are soundly and rapidly defeated/assimilated, however before the mid episode commercial break the heroes sent out a distress probe that inexplicably vanish through the previously mentioned anomaly.

A new layout...

So I’ve been working on the layout here, I think it looks much better, or at least less tacky. The next step should be to work on the name, getting a new banner to go with the name and to put some more colors around the title. I should also add a few link to friends and things I read online, mostly stuff I check often and find interesting, if you have suggestion dear readers please feel free to e-mail me or comment with your suggestion. So back to work on this template and name things. More post are coming… just like winter, to finish on a Game of Throne quote.

New beginnings of sort

It’s been more than a year since my last blog post. More then a year ago, after I had successfully defended my PhD thesis and looked hopefully toward the future, I asked where do I go from there?

More than a year in which my life seems to have stagnated, I spent this year first as a post-doc place holder to work on some papers (still to be published), then as a full time unemployed person looking for work (the hours are very flexible, but the pay sucks). I’m still at this step, now close to a year after the official end of my PhD, I still don't know where I will go from there.

It has been the darkest (so far) year of my life, economically and emotionally. First applying to jobs after jobs and receiving not even an hint of interest, then applying to still more jobs and getting a few interviews, but always falling into second, third or worse place. It all hit me hard, very hard and I think it is why I return to my blog, writing is a creative venture, a way to express the pent up anger and unreleased emotions.

I plan on returning to a more regular posting schedule, changing the name: the astronomer and the universe isn’t me anymore. Well, no it’s still me, but it’s a faint part of me, a part I am proud of, but far from what I am now and from where I am trying to go. I will try to change the design too; this blue lack luster theme is so passé. And I will probably change what I will post about, my life might look like it stagnated in the last year or so, but I am not the same person I was July 21st 2010. I’ve learned about myself, I’ve grown and changed, I still love science, debate, RPG, and of course I’m still one of the biggest geek I know but in a different way. New beginning it will be, new thoughts, new words, new rants, new questions, and hopefully new readers. My words will probably be but brief flickers of electrons in this small corner of the web, but I take pleasure in writing them, pleasure in expressing myself this way, pleasure in my geekyness and love of life. Hopefully, they will entertain you.