December 26, 2003

As of 1:00pm on Friday, December 26, my Friendster network viewed several tiers (friend of a friend, etc.) deep looks something like this:

WARNING: Clicking this image will take you to a 650kb 4000x4088 png (reduced from a full-resolution 8520x8708 original). Some browser/computer combinations will choke on an image this size. If you're having problems, save the file and check it out with a dedicated image viewer.

Red = me
Green = people I met in high school
Orange = people I met in college
Purple = people I met in grad. school
Blue = people I met everywhere else

Fun fact: I have 2nd tier contacts who are friends, even though the 1st tier contacts have never met, and have probably never been within 500 miles of eachother. I guess that's the beauty of Friendster.

If you'd like to make your own Friendster map, you'll find the tools and a brief explanation on this page. So that you have an idea of how to add formatting (like color), the neato file I used to generate the graph is here, and the relevant documentation is here.

PS - I'm fascinated by social mapping, so if anyone else makes one of these, I'd love to see it.

Posted on 11:00 PM
December 24, 2003

Have a seat, put some music on, and generally get comfy while I relate my recent Brazillian experiences with the California Department of Motor Vehicles.

Two months ago I received a notice in the mail letting me know that I was overdue for renewing my vehicle registration. I was aware of this fact, but had been unable to do anything about it because renewal requires a code that the office is supposed to mail you a month before the deadline. They didn't mail, I didn't renew, and thus I owed them more money. I fumed for a bit and eventually just sent in the damn fees and renewal forms.

Yesterday I was driving towards the lab when I realized that I still hadn't received my registration papers. I called the DMV to ask what was taking so long. The operator was shocked to hear that I hadn't received notice they were waiting on my smog check information. All of the registration renewal papers were in order, but I was kindly informed that, until I had a smog check, I would be driving illegally.

Today I went in for the smog check. And failed the nitric oxide test so badly that my vehicle was classified a "GROSS POLLUTER". The state mandates that to even have a diagnostic inspection (before repairs) for such a vehicle costs $102. However, part of the "What to do if you suck" informational paragraph on my bill informed me that financial assistance was available to those who classified as Gross Polluters.

I both went to the website and called the hotline for information regarding that financial assistance. There I discovered that, after a $100 co-pay, California would pay up to $500 towards repairs to bring my vehicle back towards atmosphere-friendly status. Unfortunately, part of receiving this financial assistance involved me sending them my registration renewal forms.

If you've been following along, you'll realize that I already sent those renewal forms to a different DMV office.

Not to be discouraged, I called the DMV to ask them if they could just forward the forms to the other office. No dice. I was also angrily told that the DMV call-center doesn't forward requests for duplicate forms. So in order for me to get a new registration renewal certificate, I needed to make an appointment with my local DMV office. Which means that I am now waiting until January 2nd to talk to someone in person and have them hand me two sheets of paper fresh off a laser printer. It's anyone's guess how long processing my financial assistance request will take after sending in the paperwork. And because the financial assistance program doesn't perform reimbursements, only post-approval awards, I can't get any repairs until everything has gone through.

It's time like this that I could just junk the Volvo and get a used Prius.

Posted on 01:23 PM
December 12, 2003

Steal It Back is simultaneously the coolest and most fucked-up online auction site I've ever been to. Police auctions from around the country, right at your fingertips. Where else are can you buy a pallet of computer monitors for $14? A night vision scope ("It puts the lotion in the bucket!") for $90?
Or a crossbow for $40?
That's right...a crossbow. It's a little frightening looking at the various swords and handgun clip "grab bags" for sale, and realizing that these items were taken away from someone. A someone who probably didn't want to part with them. And who might have used the item on sale to fight to keep the item.

Other items are much more amusing, such as the dozens of pocket digital scales. Gee, I wonder how a police auction site ended up with those?

A few of the auctions are a little sad. I don't know if I'd be comfortable buying a CD-binder full of CDs, when I know there's someone out there pining for their lost music.

My favorite auction item is "Uncle Mike's Belt". The description reads, "Do you remember the way your uncle used to threaten you kids with his belt? Funny how things change. Now you look forward to belts!"

Posted on 12:54 AM
December 06, 2003
The Owls Are Not What They Seem

It's absolutely required that I see Jojo in the Stars. Unfortunately, finding a place where it's playing may be a bit of a challenge. About a year ago there was another tiny little experimental animation film that I desperately wanted to see. But since it never came to San Francisco, I didn't get to see it, and now I've completely forgotten its name. You'd think that of all places in the U.S., the Bay Area would be the place to see this kind of film.

Posted on 03:31 PM
December 02, 2003