Google Chrome

You might have heard Google has a browser out. I’ve been a Firefox user for years now but as I’ve followed the recommended upgrade path the browser has gotten slower and less stable in exchange for a bunch of features I don’t really care about. After Firefox 3 crashing twice yesterday, I downloaded Chrome and have been using it for the last 24 hours. So far, here’s what I’m seeing:

* it seems faster and more responsive than both Firefox and IE. Fast page loads, fast scrolling.

* I’ve read about incompatibilities with some webpages but haven’t been bitten by any myself yet. The only feature I miss is right-clicking to get to dictionary when I misspell something in an edit window like the one I’m typing this in. I’m sure that’s coming soon.

* The tabs got moved up top of the browser window. I’m not at all sure that’s a win–further to go with the mouse to get to them now. Otherwise they’re easily re-orderable and popping them out to make their own windows is a neat touch.

* The address bar is smart: if it can’t resolve what you type as a URL it’ll function as a search engine, so no need to have a separate search engine text entry box. Duh. This seems like such obvious behaviour I don’t know why every browser doesn’t do this, so kudos to Google for implementing it.

* Things I’m having trouble getting used to:

+ no stop button–weird! It’s actually there, but it’s all the way to the right of the address bar and that’s not intuitive for me when compared to the standard browser. I use ‘stop’ a lot more than ‘bookmark’ (at the left of the address bar) so I would switch the location of the two if I could.
+ no ‘home’ button–I use this all the time in my other browsers. I could turn it on, but my homepage is also the first link in the bookmarks link bar so I’m going to try to get used to clicking that.
+ no menu bar across the top of the app. I’m not sure I like this.

* Some of Chrome’s most vaunted features are useless to me. The New Tab behaviour is that when you create a new tab, Chrome loads a ‘you usually do these things with a new tab–click to do one of them now’ page. If you have a personal web page you use as your homepage I’d hope that you’d already have set it up to fill that need.

* The Safe Browsing features, which raise alarms when you visit sites that Google thinks might be phishing or pushing malware, are probably useful if you like to visit dodgy sites and click every link that asks you to install weird software. Those of us who aren’t browsing like ten-year-olds have probably never had a problem with this stuff. I don’t need the additional security, and when it identified as suspect a site I visit every day with no problems, I turned it off.

* Running each tab as its own process actually does work the way Google claimed–one tab would slow down while doing something and I’d flip to another and it’d be running full-speed. Nice!

* That said, Chrome’s already gotten balled-up enough I had to restart the entire thing once. Sad face.

* I miss the “did you mean to close all 20 tabs you had open” dialog box Firefox gives me when I click the close app button. I usually didn’t mean to do that.

I’ll keep playing with it. It’s definitely promising.

Bioshock

Many irritating operating system gymnastics sessions later, I finished Bioshock late last week. I was pretty close to throwing up my hands when the game started crashing regularly when I reached Fort Frolic, about midway through. I ended up having to clear out my save games, turn off a Vista OS feature or two, and start all over.

I’ve been blaming Vista for a lot of my issues with computing ever since I got this computer, but I’ll throw some blame 2K Games’ way for this situation as Bioshock’s issues with Vista have been so widely reported, and the Orange Box games I finished a while back were rock-solid on the same computer. Get it together, 2K Games!

* There are a lot of weapons. I barely even used the last few I got. The research camera was a wonderful addition to the standard FPS arsenal.

* There is a lot more character development possible than in Half-Life 2, what with the plasmids and buffout upgrades in addition to all the weapons. However, most of that ended up evening out by the last third of the game–unless you were a complete tool, you were going to have all the cool stuff one way or another by then.

The downside of allowing this kind of development is that the game becomes unbalanced, which Bioshock did for me. After a ton of buildup during the level load, I killed the last boss in the game by running up to him and hitting him with the wrench (the default melee weapon in the game–think the crowbar in Half-Life) repeatedly… the biggest click-fest since Diablo.

* You’ve got a hard limit of $500 in your wallet (at least on the Medium level of difficulty, which is what I played). I kept running into this, which tells me two things: that I’m a cheap bastard, and that yet again I probably should have played the game at its hardest setting.

* I think the possibility of a security camera seeing you and sounding the alarm was supposed to be more of a consideration than it turned out to be. Once I got Natural Camouflage, which I did pretty early on, security alerts were a total non-issue. Also, the previously-mentioned Pipe Dream-style hacking minigame remained ridiculous throughout.

* After starting off fairly underwhelmed by the game experience I got progressively more into it. The back-story of Rapture was interesting, the characters seemed to have some stories to tell, and the designers did a good job of building suspense and interest in the game universe.

Then came the Sixth Sense-style reveal down the home stretch, followed by increasingly less interesting levels and story in the second half. I really started to lose buy-in, and that continued through the finale. Like the New England Patriots, Bioshock peaked way too soon.

Two Pochaccos. Parts were quite fun, but the game was oversold and crash-tastic.

This game review is for Patrick.

Old AIM emoticons in Pidgin

I’ve been using Pidgin (which was mentioned in the JesusH wipe and re-install Windows guide last year) for instant messaging. I had some problems recently connecting to my various IM accounts with it, so I upgraded to 2.4.3, which seems to have fixed those connection issues. I’ve never liked the Pidgin default emoticons so I found and installed Andrei Neculau’s Original Smileys, which allow Pidgin to use the original emoticon set for each client–in other words, I see Y!M emoticons when I’m talking to someone with a Yahoo! Messenger account. I see MSN emoticons when I’m talking to someone with an MSN account.

Yes, over the last few years I’ve really started to lean on emoticons in instant messaging. This is not something I’m proud of.

Anyway, I discovered upon invocation that the AIM emoticons had gotten animated, weird-looking, and ugly since I last saw them (for example, vs ). Apparently, a new version of AIM has been released since the last time I looked, and AOL has taken this opportunity to update their emoticons. That might look like progress to the kids, but it looks like crap to me.

I couldn’t find a convenient way to get the old AIM emoticons back. I ended up having to find the old ones at elouai.com. I downloaded them, cropped them up–the originals are way too padded–and made the backgrounds transparent. In case you like the old-school AIM icons better than the new ones and want to go to a little bit of trouble:

  1. install and activate Andrei Neculau’s Original Smileys.
  2. download this archive of the old AIM emoticons and unzip them inside the folder created by step 1. On my system the folder path is

    C:\Documents and Settings\dpease\Application Data\.purple\smileys\pidgin-original

    so I created

    C:\Documents and Settings\dpease\Application Data\.purple\smileys\pidgin-original\aim_old .

  3. open the theme file created by step 1. On my system this file is

    C:\Documents and Settings\dpease\Application Data\.purple\smileys\pidgin-original\theme .

  4. find the following text block in the themes file and select it:
    # AIM 6.5
    [AIM]
    ../pidgin-original/aim/smiling.gif				:)	:-)
    ../pidgin-original/aim/winking.gif				;)	;-)
    ../pidgin-original/aim/frowning.gif				:(	:-(
    ../pidgin-original/aim/stickingouttongue.gif	:-p	:-P
    ../pidgin-original/aim/surprised.gif			=-O
    ../pidgin-original/aim/kissing.gif				:-*
    ../pidgin-original/aim/yelling.gif				>:o
    ../pidgin-original/aim/ecstatic.gif				:D	:-D
    ../pidgin-original/aim/moneymouth.gif			:-$
    
    ../pidgin-original/aim/footinmouth.gif			:-!
    ../pidgin-original/aim/embarrassed.gif			:-[
    ../pidgin-original/aim/innocent.gif				O:-)
    ../pidgin-original/aim/undecided.gif			:-\\
    ../pidgin-original/aim/crying.gif				:'(
    ../pidgin-original/aim/lipsaresealed.gif		:-X
    ../pidgin-original/aim/cool.gif					8-)
    
  5. replace the text selected in the last step with the following text block:
    # AIM 6.5
    #[AIM]
    #../pidgin-original/aim/smiling.gif				:)	:-)
    #../pidgin-original/aim/winking.gif				;)	;-)
    #../pidgin-original/aim/frowning.gif				:(	:-(
    #../pidgin-original/aim/stickingouttongue.gif	:-p	:-P
    #../pidgin-original/aim/surprised.gif			=-O
    #../pidgin-original/aim/kissing.gif				:-*
    #../pidgin-original/aim/yelling.gif				>:o
    #../pidgin-original/aim/ecstatic.gif				:D	:-D
    #../pidgin-original/aim/moneymouth.gif			:-$
    #
    #../pidgin-original/aim/footinmouth.gif			:-!
    #../pidgin-original/aim/embarrassed.gif			:-[
    #../pidgin-original/aim/innocent.gif				O:-)
    #../pidgin-original/aim/undecided.gif			:-\\
    #../pidgin-original/aim/crying.gif				:'(
    #../pidgin-original/aim/lipsaresealed.gif		:-X
    #../pidgin-original/aim/cool.gif					8-)
    
    # Old-school AIM, cause newer AIM sucks
    # 2008-07-28, DMP
    [AIM]
    ../pidgin-original/aim_old/happy10.gif				:)	:-)
    ../pidgin-original/aim_old/wink10.gif				;)	;-)
    ../pidgin-original/aim_old/sad10.gif				:(	:-(
    ../pidgin-original/aim_old/tongueout10.gif	:-p	:-P
    ../pidgin-original/aim_old/shocked10.gif			=-O
    ../pidgin-original/aim_old/redlips10.gif				:-*
    ../pidgin-original/aim_old/angry10.gif				>:o
    ../pidgin-original/aim_old/biggrin10.gif				:D	:-D
    ../pidgin-original/aim_old/indifferent10.gif			:-$
    
    ../pidgin-original/aim_old/footinmouth10.gif			:-!
    ../pidgin-original/aim_old/embarrassed10.gif			:-[
    ../pidgin-original/aim_old/angel10.gif				O:-)
    ../pidgin-original/aim_old/confused10.gif			:-\\
    ../pidgin-original/aim_old/crying10.gif				:'(
    ../pidgin-original/aim_old/nospeak10.gif		:-X
    ../pidgin-original/aim_old/cool10.gif					8-)
    
  6. Save the file. Your AIM emoticons should now be the old-school versions in Pidgin.
  7. Profit!

Portal

In my previous post about Half-Life 2, Andres asked about Portal. I played it this week.

The gimmick is instead of a weapon that does damage you’ve got a gun that shoots an orange and a blue portal. The orange portal connects to the blue portal, so you can do things like walk through walls to go across rooms or fall long distances through portals and conserve your momentum to fly out the other side like Superboy.

The game is short, but I think that’s the way it had to be, because none of the challenges was particularly hard and there’s only so many ways I can envision setting up puzzles with the Portal gun as the only way for the player to interact with them. I probably got six or seven hours out of this game and I don’t know how I could possibly get much more. There are ‘advanced’ levels that become unlocked upon beating the game; maybe I’ll take a look at those.

The gameplay is definitely innovative, but I found myself really wishing for a real gun like I’d have in Half-Life at many points–not because I needed it, but because I wanted to drop a cap in something all aggressive-like. The game looks just like Half-Life 2, so I’m sure that colored my perception there… I found it strange to be running around and not dodging zombines or antlions.

There has been a lot said about how clever and funny Portal is. I didn’t really find that to be true. There were funny parts but I wasn’t LOLing about much that computer voice GLaDOS was telling me while I was working my way through the game.

In this article about the Old Man Murray guys working on Portal there’s an interesting quote about Portal and Half-Life existing in the same universe and intertwining in the future–indeed (spoiler alert, I guess) Aperture Laboratories is mentioned in Half-Life 2: Episode 2, and Black Mesa is mentioned in Portal, so that’s got to be where things are headed. If I can use the Portal gun and real shoots-bullets guns in the same game, I can’t imagine where the difficulty is going to come from… just shoot a portal behind a bad guy, shoot one safely behind cover, change weapon to something that does damage, and shoot the dude in the back. I’ll be really interested to see how the Valve folks work this out.

Three Pochaccos due to my really high expectations not entirely being met.

Update: I had no idea Mike Patton of Faith No More was in this game. And here’s a download site for “Still Alive”, the song that plays over the credits, which is pretty cool.

Sid Meier’s Pirates!

I got Sid Meier’s Pirates! for Christmas and played it in January, and seeing it mentioned elsewhere on the Intarweb reminds me that I haven’t reviewed it yet.

Like a couple of other JesusHers, I was really looking forward to playing this, both because I like Sid Meier’s games and because I am a pirate myself. OK, that’s not true, but the idea of extra-legally roaming around the Carribean looting and pillaging has always seemed kind of cool to me. Hell, I almost wanted to see Cutthroat Island–almost.

I got the game, installed it, and played it for about a week. Lots of stuff in the game was pretty fun, but this game has a serious Achilles heel: in ship-to-ship combat, you initially drive your ship around and the computer drives its ship around and you’ll try to get positioning and pound the other ship with your guns, and this is all well and good. Large powerful ships have more guns and more armor, and small fast ships have more speed and maneuverability and a real advantage where positioning is concerned.

Most ship battles will end not with you sinking the enemy ship–because come on now, that’s letting a ship you could board and plunder go to waste–but with one ship running into the other. If the enemy crew is completely demoralized from getting their asses handed to them in ship-to-ship combat, you’ll take the ship without a fight, but you might not want to do that, because you’ll have to damage the ship pretty extensively to get there. At best, the ship will probably be very slow and slow your entire fleet down; at worst you run the risk of hitting them too hard and sinking them.


Captain-to-captain combat. The guy in red’s about to get his ass kicked unless there’s a monkey at the keyboard.

So what I took to doing was boarding a basically undamaged ship. If this happens you and the enemy captain battle it out with swords. If you win, you get the enemy ship.

Forget for a second the idea of a 28-crew glorified sloop boarding a 40-cannon 200-crew dreadnaught boiling down to a captain-vs-captain sword battle, because what the hell, it’s a video game. The problem is sword fighting is really, really easy in this game, even at the higher difficulty levels. I’d estimate I won about 30 swordfights for every one I lost. (The excessive-ease-of-play-thing ended up happening with Half-Life 2 as well, come to think of it. Maybe I’ve just turned into a video game whiz over the past few months.)

This really damages any appreciation you might have for the game, because there’s really nothing the game can do to punish you for being unprepared or going rogue or something. Piss France off because you keep plundering ships flying their flag? Fuck France! What’re they going to do to you? If they send a warship after you, you’ll board it, you’ll kill the captain, you’ll take it, and you’ll either sell it to one of their enemies or scuttle it out of spite. Rinse and repeat.

I can’t recommend a game that is this easy to beat. One and a half Pochaccos, since up until I figured this out it was kind of fun.

Computer Crap Update

I’ve been meaning to post about the DMP1, but it’s still a work in progress, so quick notes on a couple of things:

– my graphics card appears to have given up the ghost on my machine at home. For the last couple of weeks I haven’t been able to play Battlefield 1942 because of weird glitching in 3D, and today when I turned the machine on I had strange colored artifacts all over the screen in 2D mode as well. It’s a shame because the card was the best (and most expensive) piece of hardware in the machine when I built it back in 2002, and it’s served me well. It’s not a shame because I expect I can probably get superior performance out of a modern card at a quarter of the price I paid for the old one. We’ll see.

– wireless networking equipment is really, really affordable these days. Last week, I decided to get new networking stuff for the house–to make the leap from 802.11b to 802.11g and hopefully get a little more range on the signal so the network hooks up to my truck while it’s in the driveway–and because I was picking up some wifi stuff for Dan as well. Fry’s was selling a wireless/wired router, a PCMCIA laptop card, and a USB wireless networking module for about $55 total, with no rebates required, so I got a set for Dan and a set for me. The whole thing took about 10 minutes to install, and now I’ve got this extra 802.11b access point and PCMCIA card if anyone wants them.

OmniFi DMS1 Digital Media Streamer

I picked one of these up a week ago when it appeared as woot.com’s daily deal, and it arrived this week while I was sitting around the haus recuperating from surgery. Yesterday I felt well enough and bored enough to hook it up, so I did.

DMS1
Homestyle mp3 goodness.

The DMS1 is a component that goes in your stereo cabinet and hooks up to your stereo and TV. You install the server, which is included on a CD, on any computer on your network that has mp3s on it, and then you hook the DMS1 up to the network and it streams mp3s to your stereo for you. I was disappointed that I missed an earlier woot.com deal which bundled the DMS1 with the car equivalent, which included a hard drive and allowed you to sync the music on your PC with the music in your car wirelessly, but since I’ve been having so many problems with the PVR computer I’ve been occasionally trying to get working, I could use the home unit functionality too.

I quickly ran into trouble with the install because woot.com included the wireless adapter needed to make the DMS1 talk to an 802.11b network, but the firmware on the DMS1 itself can’t talk to the wireless adapter without an upgrade. Here’s what I ended up needing to do:

  1. Hook up the DMS1 in the front room to my stereo.
  2. Install the server on my PC and update it to the latest version.
  3. Point the server in the direction of my mp3s.
  4. Hook up the DMS1 to my router using the included Ethernet adapter and a long Cat-5 cable.
  5. From my PC, instruct the server to update the firmware on the DMS1, which it will do through the network. (I had to register the product to get the firmware upgrade)
  6. Disconnect the wired connection from the DMS1 and connect the wireless adapter in its place.

At that point the DMS1 was smart enough to find my wireless network, make the connection, and start streaming media immediately. The above process reads like a pain in the ass, but it only took about 15 minutes.

This is a pretty cool little box. It works much like most other mp3 player appliances of this type–you can listen to songs by artist, album, genre, etc. (This depends on your having accurate id3 tags for your mp3s, which I don’t in many cases. Oh well.) It sounded to me like I was listening to the CD itself, and there were no skips or stutters during my testing. The interface is pretty intuitive.

Positives:

  • I can finally listen to my mp3s from the front room.
  • It supports wireless, so you can connect to your network from anywhere within range.
  • Audio quality and responsiveness seem good.
  • The unit supports but doesn’t require a TV hookup–you can do everything through the quite-readable three-line display on the front of the DMS1.
  • It was only $70–w00t!

Negatives:

  • I’m a sucker for anything like Winamp or Windows Media Player’s visualization functions, which display cool computer graphics, and I wish the DMS1 could do this on my TV. Even Music Choice‘s artist info and album cover would be better than what you get.
  • It’s a bit of a pain in the ass to navigate through hundreds of albums without being able to skip around by first letter, at least–though maybe I just haven’t found that function yet.
  • Since the DMS1 has no internal storage, the computer with the mp3 server on it has to be up and running to listen to music.

SanDisk Cruzer micro mp3 companion product review

I’ve already bitched about my iShuffle a little bit, so it’s only fair that I give equal time to the other, similar mp3 player I purchased at about the same time, the SanDisk Cruzer micro mp3 companion, because this is going to make the guys over at Apple look like brain scientists.


Shuffles worse than Stephen Hawking.
Continue reading “SanDisk Cruzer micro mp3 companion product review”

mp3gain

Now that I have one of those neato portable mp3 players I can use while walking around or working out or whatever, I’m really noticing the volume difference in my mp3s. I’ve wanted a program that would normalize my library for a while, and now I’ve found one.

I ran this tool on the ~3500 mp3s I’ve got on my machine yesterday. I kicked off the analysis part at about 10:00am, and it still wasn’t done seven hours later. When I arrived this morning, analysis had completed, and nearly every mp3 needed to have its volume adjusted. I started that and oddly enough, it was much quicker than the analysis portion. (Actually, it’s probably not odd at all. I just didn’t expect that, but I have little idea how this thing is working.)

About 15 minutes later, all of my mp3s are volume-adjusted and the difference has been extraordinary. I guess I had gotten used to adjusting the volume control for every song, but I sure notice (and appreciate) not having to do it now.

ClearType

I’ve known about Microsoft’s ClearType for ages, but I never ended up using it because I never had a laptop that I used much. The odd thing is, you’d think that my knowing about it would be enough for me to mess with it once I got an LCD monitor for my desktop machine (since that’s essentially a larger version of the screen that laptops use), but apparently that was a leap in logic I needed some help making.

I got that help from a Slashdot post today, had what we refer to in the business as a V8 moment, and installed the ClearType Control Panel entry for WinXP. I turned it on and configured it, and–holy crap! Things look very different.

I can see the point of the people who say that ClearType makes certain fonts look pretty fuzzy and indistinct. But it also makes most things look much better. Here’s an example–guess which screencap I had ClearType enabled on?

I’m sticking with it. Give it a try too if you have an LCD and a Windows OS and haven’t messed with it yet.

New PC at Work

I’ve been saddled with an awful PC on my desk for years–it was never top-of-the-line, and now I believe it’s worse than at least three machines I’ve just got sitting around the house. I was never able to justify getting a better one, though, because all I really use it for is Internet access, email, Meeting Maker, and productivity software. I still do all my real work on my Unix machine, which cooks with gas.
Continue reading “New PC at Work”

Face Lift

So I put the old JesusH in cryonic storage and ganked some dude’s template. Leave us a comment and let us know what you think.

Also, please note the “mp3 of the hour” section to the left (or, if you like, head over to the mp3 index page). We’d love to put all of our mp3s up for all of our readers to download as they like, but in addition to our desire to keep the RIAA’s ruthless lawyer chihuahas off our kneecaps, we ran into jest a little bit of trouble last time Nate tried that. So we’ll be rotating in a new song from our playlist every hour for your listening edification. There isn’t space to store all our mp3s on the server, but I imagine what is up there will just get weirder and weirder as we continue uploading stuff, so let’s hope it turns into good fun for everyone.

Mozilla

I’ve been using Eudora for PC email for the last five or six years. It’s pretty full-featured and does most of what I want to do, and getting a free license from the day job doesn’t hurt either. But it’s got an annoying habit of choking on email every so often and basically scrambling an entire mailbox in the process–I can “rebuild the table of contents”, whatever that means, and get to my mail in that folder after doing that, but I have to do that each time I want to get to anything in there. With a 25,000 message Inbox, the rebuild takes a while, and this has become a significant source of irritation for me.

After being bitten by this problem for the third time in about a year, I decided to change mail clients. I’m never going to use Outlook Express and Virus Propogator while Microsoft does such a poor job of shielding users from viruses and garbage, so that was out. The only other major option I could think of was Mozilla’s Thunderbird email client, so I decided to give that a try.

So far I’ve been very happy with it. It does most of what I used Eudora for, and throws in a lot of additional functionality besides. Upon installation Thunderbird was able to import all of my email from Eudora (even the corrupted mailboxes), and now I’ve got it all available to me. The client supports multiple accounts, has plenty of filtering options, and even tries to detect spam. Best of all, of course, it’s open-source and free.

I’m now using Mozilla products for browsing and for email, and if you’d have told me around the time of Netscape 4.x that I’d be doing that in November 2004, I’d have had a good laugh at you.

The Great Spamhole Experiment

As I’m sure all our hordes of loyal followers have noticed, we’ve been seeing lots of of comment spam (advertising all manner of homosexual porn, Viagra-type penile infarcters, and, most disturbingly, Kid Language vendors) lately. Our typical response to this in appropriate behavior has been to either modify the comments for the sheer fun of it, or just to delete them and ban the commenting IPs. Despite trying to stem the tide as best as we can, I ended up deleting, like, 10 ads for some gay porn site (which really wasn’t all that special, incidentally) on Monday. Plus, they all had unique IPs, which meant I had to manually ban each of them, which is time taken away from playing the ukulele. Clearly this situation can not stand.

Dave and I have talked about implementing one of those fancy user authentication systems that creates an image of a number and forces the user to type it in whenever they comment, but it turns out that such a system is too exotic for our poor little server to handle (caused something having to do with Knuter indexes or something). This is very sad.

It occurred to me this evening, though, that blog spammers are not, like, super spies or anything. It’s in this spirit that I present JesusH’s new HyperGhetto AntiSpam Commenting system (Pat. Pen.). The concept is simple: if you care to comment on a JesusH article, you are now required to type the number 3 in a text field near the normal content boxes. If you don’t, your ass will be rejected.

It should be noted that this new system is not at all secure. Hypothetically, if a spammer wanted to get around it it, they’d just have to add the following POST variable to their existing program’s querystring: spamhole=3. It’s almost too easy! So c’mon shitbirds, do it! I double dog dare you…

In a somewhat unrelated note, it will be interesting to see if this new measure proves too complicated for our esteemed Lane Staley post fans…

Experiments for Morons

This weblog entry from some guy in Israel has been making the rounds for the past week or so. It concerns an “experiment” where a bunch of memory cards were attached to a bunch of pigeons which were sent to a distant point. The pigeons ended up transferring data faster than could be expected with a DSL line. Enlightenment and hilarity ensues.
Continue reading “Experiments for Morons”

Gratuitously Unnecessary Device of the Month

The Ambient Orb is a frosted glass orb with a bunch of LEDs inside that can apparently glow any color of the rainbow. You plug the dingus in and it hooks up to a wireless network and changes color based on parameters you set. It’s a mood ring for the New Milennium.


Behold, the Magical Glowing Dingus.
Continue reading “Gratuitously Unnecessary Device of the Month”

Spam This, Iceholes…

Today marks the first exposure I’ve had to the newest annoyance to grace this fabulous inter-net: Blog Comment Spam, which has apparently been all the rage on Moveable Type based sites for a couple of months now. This has all been a bittersweet realization for me. On one hand, spam is a disgusting scourge against all that is good and holy. On the other, this site has rarely seemed so popular. Hmmm…

Obviously, we can’t allow spammers to dick with our good site’s comments, and we would prefer to not have to be deleting them constantly (although, now that I’m fun-employed, and don’t really have anything better to do.) I’ve gone ahead and banned the offending IPs from posting comments on this site, but I suspect that the spammers have plenty of IPs to burn. If this continues to be an annoyance, we may have to look at putting together a registration based system for this site (which we’ve talked about doing in other contexts in the past).

I have left the first two comments up, since I was good enough to reply to them personally. Since I am preserving those two for posterity, I sanitized their outgoing links to far more palatable sites than those initially offered.

By the way, here are the IPs attached to the three comment spams we received. After the white-hats of the world finish tracking down and Montecoring that Half Life 2 hacker, you may want to pay these fellows a visit:

209.210.176.22
219.95.14.69
168.243.250.57

Kevin Horton’s site

I’ve been loitering on this website for quite a while now, but I’ve never shared it because I’m all envious of this guy. I don’t like to admit he exists since he’s such hot shit, and I’m comparably not. Darnitall.

Anyway, Horton has built a whole bunch of goofy technical things with an apparent specialization for messing with old video game equipment. Some highlights: an atari 2600 with 838 2600 game roms built into it, various C64 SID players, a modified Nintendo that connects to a PC and can do a bunch of weird stuff (rad pictures), a Nintendo NSF player, a nixie clock

I really, really want to build an NSF player. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been at the bus stop wishing I could listen to the Castlevania soundtrack on genuine NES hardware. Lucky SOB…

ReplayTV is dead, long live MythTV

SonicBlue, the company behind the Rio mp3 player line and ReplayTV, has filed for Chapter 11 and is selling all its assets to the Japanese.

ReplayTV was one of only two PVR (personal video recorder) companies, unless you consider RCA Scenium; I don’t know why you would, given their market share), and with this sale, who knows where ReplayTV subscribers will get service now? Maybe D&M Holdings will continue support, and maybe they won’t, but I’m glad I didn’t buy a ReplayTV unit for Deb to record all her stuff on now.
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Foreign Spam

Normally I dislike spam, but I enjoyed this:

To: "嘉文"<嘉文@mso-net.net>
Subject: 男 性熱門話 題

What are those things… eggs, or candy, or ? Hopefully someone (perhaps 嘉文, if he/she/it is reading) can shed some light on this subject.

Win XP for Cheap

Microsoft is selling Win XP Pro for $39 plus shipping, and it comes with a bunch of other crap (a baseball, a bobble head dude, bubble gum, etc.) You might want to take advantage of this offer to legalize your Win XP status if that’s the OS you use.

You need to sign up for a .net passport thingy and say you work with a company, but you can make the company up if you want.

They had this deal back in May, only it came with different stuff–a Win XP Lava Lamp, for one. I shoulda bought it then, because I’m a sucker for lava lamps. Oh well, I’m a sucker for bobble head figures too, and I’ll be getting one of those.

Multiple Monitor Fun

Dave reprimanded me for not posting lately to JesusH (rightly so, I might add). Stupid french summer school takes a lot out of me, I guess.

However, stupid french summer school cannot keep me from tinkering with random technical nonsense (proverbial wild horses, I suspect, couldn’t keep me from wasting my time on random technical nonsense). For some reason, a couple of days ago, I decided that I was severely lacking in screen real-estate on my home computer, what with only having one screen and all (to be fair, I probably spend 67% of my conscious time tinkering with computer stuff, so I’m a bit more sensitive to this stuff than normal plebians like you). As per my usual Modus Operandi, something had to be done — now.
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Forking Norton AntiVirus

Norton AntiVirus just killed my entire e-mail Inbox, which of course is the folder that I keep all my useful e-mail in (it had thousands of messages). They have a fix on their website but offer no guarantees that it will be able to recover all my data. This is, of course, absolutely unacceptable. I’m gone ahead and uninstalled NAV and plan not to use it again unless some joker gives me klez again.

This really pisses me off…