My Hobbies

As any nerd, I like to do some things in which are either hated or disregarded as unimportant (often rightly so) by the general public, but I still like them. Some of these are the following:

  1. Computer Gaming. As I see no point in wasting money for game consoles and subsequent "fixing" of their authentication bugs, I use my PC to play video games. The types of games I play are mainly 3D action, adventure, RPG, quest and some strategy (though I generally dislike it). My favorites are: all of the Heretic/Hexen series, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, Half-life 2, and the Prince of Persia series (both old and new). I tend to be a control freak, so the more control over plot progression a game gives, the better; but I dislike total sandboxes with no plot whatsoever (such as Garry's Mod). I also used to like the DooM series and multiplayer games (deathmatch), though not anymore; see Hexen II Page for any related work.

    Heretic II Screen Shot
  2. Collecting MP3 Files. See MP3 Music, MP3 Files, and Music Identification pages for more info.
  3. Electronics/Hardware. This includes overclocking and hardware modification of mainstream PC hardware for enhanced performance, as well as fixing broken hardware (often broken as a result of my own experiments). Most of such projects are of personal significance only and would not be interesting to the public.
  4. Watching Movies and TV Shows. I do not have a TV, but I do enjoy watching movies and select TV shows. My favorites are The Lord of the Rings trilogy, the Star Wars saga, Stargate and its subsequent series; The Matrix (first part of the trilogy only), and The Time Machine (2002 rendition). Also enjoyable are Batman Begins, DooM (minus langauge), Johnny Mnemonic (minus language), and The Island (2005). Preferred are movies that are set in Sci-Fi and Fantasy worlds, contain a good deal of action, but I dislike when there is a lot of soap and squabbling between the "good guys" (e.g. Serenity). Certain kinds of thriller and drama are OK.
  5. Occasional Hiking and Biking. Every now and again I go off "exploring" and take an extended walk or bicycle ride. (I do not practice camping or urban exploration, however, as I have neither the necessary instruction nor the requisite equipment.)

My Interests

Interests that are of both personal and professional significance to me (in varying and highly unstable degrees).

  1. Programming. Existing knowledge includes: C/C++, Java/JSP, ASM, Oracle PL/SQL, Korn Shell. API's I am (reasonably) familiar with: Win32, Berkeley/Winsock, pcap, OpenGL, STL, AWT/Swing (very rusty at this point).
  2. Disassembly and Reverse Engineering. Primarily fixing glitches and making enhancements to products that do not have the source code available. See my Diablo II Unofficial Patch and Unofficial A7M266-D BIOS Update pages. Currently working on a driver-related project along these lines; more details when (and if) it is done. Nothing overly ambitious (like cracking modern copy protections) has been attempted yet.
  3. Web Development. In fact, you're reading my first HTML project (with a lot of modifications) I was to create as my final in the "Introduction to Multimedia Technology" class. Normally I steer clear of (in many cases) unnecessary sophistications like AJAX, everything that uses DOM and DHTML, XML style sheets, Flash, and everything else that makes Internet Exploiter on my Pentium II 400 crawl -- unless I really, really have to use them.
  4. System Administration and Troubleshooting. I've been dealing with Windows systems for quite a while now, but substantial *NIX expertise is still to be acquired.
  5. Computational Methods and Statistical Analysis. Application of general purpose numerical/statistical methods (as MCMC and simulated annealing) to existing problems in various fields. Software I am more or less familiar (but rusty) with: S-Plus, JMP, I-Miner.

Dislikes

Things that are either insipid to me, or downright abhorrent.

  1. Bars and Night Clubs. After 5 years of living in a neighborhood that abounds with them, I've grown to absolutely hate these. I do not patronize such establishments (except for an occasional lunch hour with co-workers when invited, with no alcohol), nor do I condone anybody else's doing so.
  2. Noisy and Crowded Parties in General, and specifically those that involve smoking and drinking alcohol (including beer) with all the rowdy behavior that results. I prefer to socialize with sober people one-on-one (rather than with drunk people in a noisy crowd), because I'd like both myself and the other person to be able to both listen and respond on the subject of discussion.
  3. Watching Sports Games -- Steelers, Penguins, Pirates, and what have you. Firstly, I do not worship these gods; they already get enough attention from other people and do not require any more. Secondly, I have not worked with any of these teams, nor did I ever have any interest (personal or professional) in any games they play. Consequently, I can neither enjoy any credit for their success, nor take any responsibility for their failure. The bottom line is: they win -- good for them; they lose -- couldn't care less.
  4. Sports in General, with a possible exception of chess and recreational sports (those I would actually play). I never was into playing sports games (no matter how hard my parents tried to force me to), nor am I now.
  5. Social Networking Sites -- Facebook, MySpace, and whatnot. Waste of time, at least for me. Whenever someone invites me to one, all I normally have is one contact (the person who invited me) and a personal page like the one you are reading now. At the same time, such sites always tempt me to engage in (mostly pointless) discussions and arguments, all the while draining my energies and precluding me from doing any useful work. Away with them. I already have a Web site, 3 instant messenger services, and a bunch of email addresses (all of which collect mostly spam) -- that should be enough. One possible exception is OrthodoxCircle, if only for the purpose of meeting people of the same faith as myself.
  6. Copyrights, Patents, and Other "Intellectual Property" Regulations. These should never have existed; their only proper applications are licenses like GPL. Claimed to have been instituted to promote the creation and implementation of useful works and ideas (the word patent itself meaning "open"), such laws and regulatons have evolved to hinder the free thought process and exchange of ideas they were meant to promote, instead favoring large corporations who abuse these regulations to rake in profits, all the while restricting other individuals and companies from examining, researching, and using their work (and improving/building upon it) even for non-commercial purposes. Proponents of these like to identify copyright and patent infringement with theft, but just about every analogy I heard on that subject is off. Information and ideas are not anybody's property, and their use and distribution are no theft. If one does not want their information to be used by the public, then they should not release it to the public to start with; but if it is released to the public, then it is public domain.
  7. Privacy. When I studied in a United States college, the instructors there used to hand out graded homeworks face down, so that classmates could not overlook someone else's grade. When I attended a high school back in Russia, after a test the teacher would just open the register and read the grades out for everyone to hear -- and did the right thing. Why -- for the simple reason that public opinion is a powerful detriment to prevent people from doing distasteful things. When this fear of public judgement is removed (through respect and protection of the individual's privacy), there is a lot more temptation for that individual to engage in immoral behavior. So I'll take public disclosure over privacy any day; and to those who claim that violation of privacy is criminal -- my response is, the best way to hide one's dirty secrets is to have none to begin with. If one does not want to be ashamed, then they should not do things that are shameful; and if they don't want people to know, then they shouldn't tell anybody or do it for people to see. And if they are not ashamed of things they do anyway, then there is hardly any good reason that such person could give to keep these things hidden -- only to create a false impression about themselves by hiding all one's skeletons in a closet. No way to go.