Saturday, January 16, 2010

Why the world will not end in 2012.

Lately, there's been a lot of hoo-ha about "The Mayan calendar ends in 2012, they knew something!", and as always with apocalyptic predictions, plenty of films, TV shows, and other rubbish talking it up. Unfortunately for the doomsayers, it's all a load of hooey.

You see, the Mayan Long Count which is running out of numbers in 2012 is actually extensible. It merely needs another digit to continue on for far longer than it has done already. There aren't any predictions we've found in Mayan sources regarding the end of the calendar. All that's happening is a problem like the year 2000 bug: they thought they had plenty of headroom, but now people are still paying attention when they're running into a technical limit. A very similar issue is in store for 32-bit Unix-based systems (for those who don't know exactly what that is, it's not too important) in 2038, when their time storage system runs out of numbers; the time storage system used is very simple, being a count of nominal seconds (86400 per day, ignoring leap seconds) since 1/1/1970, but in 2038, it runs out of numbers.

So, please, don't worry about 2012. The worst problem that's likely to occur is possible riots because so many idiots believe the predictions of doom.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Looking back

This has been the first decade I've been an adult (legally, at any rate) all the way through. It's seen a fair bit of change in me, too.

At the start of 2000, I was in university, failing a chemistry degree. I changed to a geology degree, but eventually failed at that too, and dropped out in 2004. Along the way, I discovered computers and the internet, became a computer gamer (I even bought games at release), and didn't really make much progress figuring out who I really was. Once I was on my own, I did get a job, I started a long-distance relationship over the internet, and I lost interest in the latest and greatest games. For one thing, I couldn't afford to keep up with the power curve.

Between trouble staying in work (jobs on short-term contracts are less than ideal) and difficulty resisting the temptation to spend money, I spent a couple of years stuck in limbo, from 2005 to 2007. Eventually, I got myself out of debt and could allow myself to come over to the US. This was originally going to be a brief visit, but after advice from an immigration attorney, the LA and I tied the knot on February 29th 2008 at the LAX courthouse. We started the paperwork to get me a green card, and also started planning a reception. That took place in August 2008, and the paperwork was done a month later. Since then, I've become a volunteer for a theatre group in Berkeley, I've learned to drive, I've become the half-owner of an aging Volvo, I've switched my gaming interests from computers to tabletop (on the grounds that even if the table was bought in the 70s to eat dinner from, it doesn't need an upgrade to play the latest and greatest game of 2009), and I've not had a haircut in five years.

I'm happy with where I am right now. I know myself a lot better than I did ten years or even five years ago, and I've a lot more friends now than I did then. Naturally, there are areas I'd like to improve on, but the general picture is good.

Here's to a successful 2010 for everyone!