Friday, December 29, 2006

I feel weird....

It was a culmination of many things. For Christmas my wife got me (us? *chuckles*) tickets to Trans Siberian Orchestra. I was psyched, especially after she kept not being able to buy tickets for one reason or another (Padawan no more she is, yes).

The concert, as expected, was awesome. This is the second one we've seen and it didn't fail to amaze. My personal favorite was the "dueling synths" which culminated in TSO doing their spin on the Charlie Brown Theme - one of my personal holiday favorites. Came out very relaxed and with that nice "just loud enough" buzz in the ears. Can't wait to hear more from the upcoming "in the near future" album.

Next day the wife and kids took off for her sister's so the kids and their cousin's could be rowdy together. This left me with most of a day to myself. Linux box, done. Call of Duty 3, started. First book in the Icewind Dale series, mostly finished (so it took me to the next day, Ubuntu had me busy geeking).

And at the end of the day I felt weird. Couldn't explain it, just didn't feel normal. Funny how after a few months on edge that feeling normal now feels weird. It took a bit of the day to realize it, but I was relaxed. I had no idea how to deal with that *chuckles* been too long.

Guess it also helps that anything "work" I've consciously avoided like the plague during my vacation. Good life lesson in there!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Sounds like a bad movie...

*sigh* There are some days I really don't understand people. Lets open with the obvious; these days, childish pranks can get you killed. You can ask the parents of Danny Crawford. From reports, the boy was doing what many kids do - act stupid. He and some friends started egging cars near to where they were playing.

Unlike when I was growing up and did something stupid like this, the driver of the Jeep that got egged didn't bring the kid back to his parents, tell them what the kid did, and be assured that the kids' parents would take care of it.

No. That's not very American these days.

This fool decided that he should take matters into his own hands and shoot the kid. Clearly, this was the best option for having your car egged. Was the kid doing something wrong? Yes. Did he deserve to die for egging the guys Jeep? Nope. He deserved to be punished. He got punished, but not in any way that will help him improve his life.

The worst part has to be the "justifications" that come out:

Cars give people a sense of anonymous power that helps explain such confrontations, a type of road rage, said Northeastern University criminologist Jack Levin.

"People are reacting from their gut in the heat of the moment and if they had a little time to think about it and cool off they might not respond at all," he said.

Sorry, road rage or not it's still the person's choice of action. And who ever chose this act, has their own punishment coming.

Perhaps a public egging?

Yes, I lived through that....

Reading through my normal comics this morning I ran across Penny Arcade! hitting it right on for how it is at EbGames stores these days... Go check it out.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Dieting, online?

I ran across a new site Traineo over on TechCrunch. The idea is cool, provide a network of friends, internet connections, etc. that all help you stay on track with your diet and exercise goals. Daily you come in, enter in how you did on your diet, # of calories you ate, weight, etc. After a few minor UI quirks, you can easily enter or update information on how your doing. It's really a nice site - if you count calories.

I have no idea what my caloric intake is, I'd have to go figure it out. I don't diet that way. Nor have I really been obsessing with my weight since I dropped it last year. That may sound paradoxical since I still blog about exercising and losing weight - if I don't count calories and I'm not obsessing over my weight, what are the measures?

Simple; Are my jeans (as in pants that have a fixed size waist, nothing elastic!) looser or tighter? Does it look like I'm gaining weight or muscle? Do I feel 'right'?

Mostly it comes down to, now, am I happy with where I am? I do check my weight from time to time. This week I've been weighing in as I did last year to play with Traineo's features. It's been depressing in many ways "look, still on the same plateau". Yep, the weight hasn't changed, but in this week alone I know I've improved all of my workouts and increased my muscle mass.

If I had the equipment I suppose I could do a BMI calculation for Traineo and do it that way - I'd rather have another graph tracking my exercise routine. If I'm doing 10% more push-ups than last week or need a belt to hold up the jeans, I'm doing well - even if the scale disagrees.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Remembrance 2006

This is the fourth year, that I have proof of anyway, that I've been writing this yearly remembrance. It has changed as I have changed from a bit of a soap box to a series of events that have inspired me in some way. Some years seem to write themselves and others are their own challenge. This year has been one of the latter. This year, I'm going to answer a question I've never been asked, but have always expected someone to ask.

During the past few years of slimming down and toning up I've answered the obvious questions;

"How did you do it, and don't tell me diet and exercise"
Okay. I wont tell you it was diet and exercise.

"What did you do to lose the weight?"
Two friends were the inspiration for the diet and exercise I do. One came up with the 5 on, 2 off diet. For 5 days you are as close to perfect on your diet as possible, then for 2 days you can relax (a little). My other friend, a former Navy SEAL, recommended using the Navy Seal Bootcamp DVD.

"Are you training for a [marathon or triathlon]?"
No, I exercise to improve my own health. I have other motivations to keep me going.

No one has ever asked about those motivations. Perhaps they feel I've already answered that question, or they know me well enough to realize that my RoadID is the dogtag style and I run with USMC cadences playing.

When I feel I can't do another mile, when I think I can't do another push up, I remember the men and women who are serving our country. They're not comfortably working out in their living room, or running laps around the neighborhood. If they're lucky they're hungry and tired, if not so lucky they are in combat fighting for our right to question the war they are stuck in. It is their heroism that inspires me to keep going. If they can volunteer to serve their country, to put their life on the line, I can give my all - I can go that extra mile or do that last push-up.

In this way, I honor them every day, and I never forget.
-Al

P.s. For those of you who would like to help the soldiers directly, check out AnySoldier.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Yes, and your point is....?

The family went out for one of the first Christmas events of the season, my wife's niece singing in her high school choir for their annual Christmas event. My wife is an avid football fan. While she trades watching her football for family events, she doesn't want to miss it.

We're on our way there and I started fiddling with the radio looking for the game. I was having no luck. She was understanding, but a little down about it. So I broke out my cell, text a friend, and got the channel on the radio that had coverage. I didn't think twice about it.

"How did you figure it out?" she asked.

"I sent a text message to Steve," I answered. "I knew he'd know."

"Tell him thanks," she paused. "And that you're both geeks."

*chuckling* Like she didn't already know that.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Things that make you go "hmmm"

"God favors no group. Only religions do that."

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Downloader beware!

I've been seeing a lot of links to a tool for Pandora called Pandora's Jar (no, I'm not going to link to it). The tool is for saving the Pandora streams to MP3. Sounds good doesn't it? A little too good. Some quick perusing on Pandora's ToS shows this as a violation:

3.1 use the Pandora Services to reproduce copyrighted materials;

3.2 copy, store, edit, change, prepare any derivative work of or alter in any way any of the tracks streamed through the Pandora Services;

3.6 circumvent any technology used by Pandora or its licensors to protect content accessible via the Pandora Services

Just in case you were in doubt to my legal skills I also asked the folks at Pandora for comment:
No. We have specific licenses that allow us to play copyrighted music.
Downloads like the link you sent copy the music as it plays; highly
illegal like the Napster issue.

It is entirely against our Terms of Service. We do attempt to thwart
downloads like this on a regular basis with updates to our site.

It's all Child's Play....


Till someone loses an eye, or worse. Thankfully gamers have stood together since 2003 to show that we aren't at all what the press likes to highlight. Take a moment, shoot over to Child's Play and kick in your yearly donation.

Directly from the site;

Since 2003, gamers have banded together through registered Seattle-based charity, Child's Play. Over a million dollars in donations of toys, games, books and cash for sick kids in children's hospitals across North America and the world have been collected since our inception.

We collect no administrative fees or other charges, 100% of all gifts and donations go directly to our partner hospitals, to help make life a little brighter for a sick child.

This year, we have continued expanding across the country and the globe. With over 25 partner hospitals and more arriving every month, you can be sure to find one from the map above that needs your help! You can choose to purchase requested items from their online retailer wish lists, or make a cash donation that helps out Child's Play hospitals everywhere. Any items purchased through Amazon or DStore will be shipped directly to your hospital of choice, please be sure to select their shipping address rather than your own.

When gamers give back, it makes a difference!


Time to burn something new!

I'd be curious to see what everyone who read that title assumed it was. CDs? Pasta? Carbon steel? Well, okay, that last one might be better said as etching, another of life's filters. In this case I mean cooking. When I went looking for JP's good sounding Cornbread stuffing my Google search had me chuckling; One of the hits was for Cooking For Engineers.

Although I didn't end up using any recipes from the site for Thanksgiving, it has stuck in my head. Next time your searching for a recipe, can't hurt to look.

Friday, December 01, 2006

A Soldier's Christmas

By Michael Marks

The embers glowed softly, and in their dim light,
I gazed round the room and I cherished the sight.
My wife was asleep, her head on my chest,
my daughter beside me, angelic in rest.

Outside the snow fell, a blanket of white,
Transforming the yard to a winter delight.
The sparkling lights in the tree, I believe,
Completed the magic that was Christmas Eve.

My eyelids were heavy, my breathing was deep,
Secure and surrounded by love I would sleep
in perfect contentment, or so it would seem.
So I slumbered, perhaps I started to dream.

The sound wasn't loud, and it wasn't too near,
But I opened my eye when it tickled my ear.
Perhaps just a cough, I didn't quite know,
Then the sure sound of footsteps outside in the snow.

My soul gave a tremble, I struggled to hear,
and I crept to the door just to see who was near.
Standing out in the cold and the dark of the night,
A lone figure stood, his face weary and tight.

A soldier, I puzzled, some twenty years old
Perhaps a Marine, huddled here in the cold.
Alone in the dark, he looked up and smiled,
Standing watch over me, and my wife and my child.

"What are you doing?" I asked without fear
"Come in this moment, it's freezing out here!
Put down your pack, brush the snow from your sleeve,
You should be at home on a cold Christmas Eve!"

For barely a moment I saw his eyes shift,
away from the cold and the snow blown in drifts,
to the window that danced with a warm fire's light
then he sighed and he said "It's really all right,
I'm out here by choice. I'm here every night"

"Its my duty to stand at the front of the line,
that separates you from the darkest of times.
No one had to ask or beg or implore me,
I'm proud to stand here like my fathers before me.

My Gramps died at 'Pearl on a day in December,"
then he sighed, "That's a Christmas 'Gram always remembers."
My dad stood his watch in the jungles of 'Nam
And now it is my turn and so, here I am.

I've not seen my own son in more than a while,
But my wife sends me pictures, he's sure got her smile.
Then he bent and he carefully pulled from his bag,
The red white and blue... an American flag.

"I can live through the cold and the being alone,
Away from my family, my house and my home,
I can stand at my post through the rain and the sleet,
I can sleep in a foxhole with little to eat,
I can carry the weight of killing another
or lay down my life with my sisters and brothers
who stand at the front against any and all,
to insure for all time that this flag will not fall."

"So go back inside," he said, "harbor no fright
Your family is waiting and I'll be all right."
"But isn't there something I can do, at the least,
"Give you money," I asked, "or prepare you a feast?
It seems all too little for all that you've done,
For being away from your wife and your son."

Then his eye welled a tear that held no regret,
"Just tell us you love us, and never forget
To fight for our rights back at home while we're gone.
To stand your own watch, no matter how long.

For when we come home, either standing or dead,
to know you remember we fought and we bled
is payment enough, and with that we will trust.
That we mattered to you as you mattered to us."

References: Snopes entry , IWVPA entry

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

A Parental definition for Recursion

Recursion: noun- The process of defining a function or calculating a number by the repeated application of an algorithm.

After dinner last night my kids decided to have a game of Serpents et Echelles (it's a spin on Chutes and Ladders). My eldest missed the first game, and waited for the second game. This was the start of the second game;

"I want to go first!" Kassie said. "
I didn't play the last game."

"Kyle won the last game," my wife replied. "He should go first."

"I want to go first!" Kyle stated as if it was part of the Constitution.

"But I didn't play in the last game," commented Kassie breaking out her acting lessons and selecting the patented Kim Possible puppy-dog pout. You know, the one that works on anyone that doesn't live in the house and see it hourly.

"I want to go first!" Kyle restates with enough emphasis to ensure the entire NATO assembly could hear him without any amplification.

"Alright!" My wife's tone reminds me of Bill Cosby's skit with the wife wielding the yard stick. "You each roll the die and the one with the highest roll goes first."

"Ok," agreed Kassie. "But I roll first."

"No I do!" said Kyle.

At which point I started laughing my @$$ off. So much for the diplomatic solution.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Make Firefox work for you....


I love to tinker but unlike most folks I end up tinkering with software. Could be off programming something or just exploring what I can do with an application. Although I have been using Firefox since before v1.0 I hadn't played with too many extensions that changed the UI any more than the tabs.

That's changed.

It started by changing how the Navigation and Button toolbars looked and has resulted in the browser you see. No menu bars, just a button. No navigation toolbar, just the pieces I need. Simple, for me - and simple for you too if you have some time to tweak. All it takes is one extension, one theme and a some simple changes.


Yes, that little button to the far left is all of my menus - sorta. This is the Personal Menu Extension. When you click on that button it opens up the menus I have configured it to show (you also configure which menus you want shown when you right click anywhere on your button toolbar) Mine opens up and looks like the image to the right.

The extension allows you to hide all or some of your menus and configure how you want them displayed. How often do you use all of your menus? I hardly use most of them, so this gave me back a lot of space.

The theme I use is Noia 2.0 (eXtreme). This changes the buttons, colors, etc. of the browser. Nothing huge, except that it makes the scroll bars and tabs much more compact giving you back more space.

Finally we have the pre v1.0 Firefox trick; merging the Navigation toolbar into the Menu toolbar. If you look closely you'll notice that I have all my icons, search bars, etc. on one line, not two (or more) as you would expect. I merged the things I use and removed those I don't.

I wish I could find the original tutorial, but I'm having no luck with Google. Here are the basic steps, if your curious ping me and I'll write them more comprehensively.
  1. Right click on your tool bar and go to Customize
  2. Drag the URL and Search boxes up "one line" and park them next to your printer icon
  3. Click Ok
  4. Rick click on your Tool bar and clear the check mark next to Navigation Toolbar
That's it. Enjoy!

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Final impressions of TaskSwitchXP

I had written about trying the TaskSwitchXP product from NTWind previously (see here). The product is pretty cool, and works as advertised. It has a lot of neat features and integrated nicely with my XP2 system. And it still got uninstalled. Finally, one quirk brought it down; the delay after switching applications.

Every time I'd switch programs there would be this 2 to 3 second delay before I could use the application I switched too. It was annoying as I switch applications and start working immediately. Having that delay was slowing me down too much, so it had to go.

If someone knows how to work around that, let me know. Everything else in that app was pretty cool and non-obtrusive.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Pandora shoots! Scores!

Oh no, next it'll be a buyout. Still, this is very cool for Pandora!

Microsoft's MSN has turned to music-upstart Pandora to recycle and rev up its free online radio service.

In the last week, MSN quietly re-launched its online radio service powered by Pandora, a music recommendation engine that lets people create custom radio stations and discover new music related to their favorite artists or songs.

Come again?

Well Bill O'reilly is being himself. This quote comes from one of his discussions of gamers and seemed to be spurred by his version of getting on the PS3 bandwagon. I doubt he made may friends outside of his own circles.

My favorite from GamePolitics.com's coverage was this gem;
I don’t own an iPod. I would never wear an iPod… If this is your primary focus in life - the machines… it’s going to have a staggeringly negative effect, all of this, for America… did you ever talk to these computer geeks? I mean, can you carry on a conversation with them? …I really fear for the United States because, believe me, the jihadists? They’re not playing the video games. They’re killing real people over there.
I guess if your going to attack gamers you might as well hit geeks as well. Clearly he doesn't realize how many geeks keep his show, his car, his local ATM, his credit card, etc. running. Also, he's forgotten facts. The jihadists do use video games; wasn't in MS Flight Sim that some of them used to work on their pre 9-11 skills?

And here I thought you could only find this kind of rant on the internet. *evil grin*

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Irony?

I'm still curious as to why the FBI put, someone described as, a polygamist on the top 10 most wanted list. I'm pretty sure it's not due to what the press is grasping onto. Whatever the reason Warren Jeffs has been in custody since his capture in August. I'm guessing this is like catching Al Capone on tax evasion, we'll see.

Still, it does have some interesting comedic value. In this FoxNews article you can read a bit about the current goings on for his trial, and the part that cracked me up;

The leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is being held in a jail in the town of...
... Purgatory

Monday, November 20, 2006

Some more info on the e-Voting stuff....

Slashdot has a nice Q&A with Herbert H. Thompson, PhD. (Google search). It was a good read. Mr Thompson believes that the bigger problems aren't the muppets creating the software (tell me why someone would use an unsigned value in a voting system?) but in the people purchasing and using the systems not understanding the risks that are being allowed.

For example....
One glaring example of bad procedure is 'sleepovers', a practice where voting machines are sent home with poll workers before an election to make the process of transporting them to polling places on election day easier (see http://www.computerworld.com/action/article.do?command=viewArticleBasic&articleId=9002204 for some info on this). If one were dealing with a box to hold ballots, 'sleepovers' wouldn't be a problem because the morning of the election a group of poll workers could inspect the box and verify that it was empty (including the old false bottom trick; see 'Stuffer's ballot box' at http://americanhistory.si.edu/vote/paperballots.html). If election officials knew the risks of tampering with some of these electronic voting machines (just search Slashdot for 'e-voting' for examples) then a voting machine sleepover suddenly seems like a pretty bad idea.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

QotD

Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense.

- Buddha

(From the Buddhist QotD site)

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Testing your connection speed.

From time to time I mess around with sites that allow you to check your upload and download speeds. It's a good debugging tool, and a good verification that your service provider is giving you "close enough" levels to what your paying for.

Check out SpeedTest.net - I was even able to check the difference in speed from my work (London based server) to here. No wonder my DLs have been slow lately.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Where is Reality?

A friend had me check out the Google Freedom to Fascism (can also hit the website). It was very thought provoking and has me curious about a number of things. Like any video of this type, it's left to the person watching to find reality. I don't present it here as a fact, truth, or my personal belief -- but as a challenge to your own beliefs.

It's a 2 hour watch, and may be in your local theaters, and worth sitting through just to have yourself left with that "If half of this is true, it's frightening" feeling.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Who needs horror movies....

This Google video is an HBO special entitled "Hacking Democracy".

Scariest thing I've ever seen. Walk into a warehouse, hack a few memory cards, and walk away with no audit log. Man I hope they fixed that...

... but how would we know if they did?

Monday, November 06, 2006

The more things change....

Standing amongst the smoke from the fires all you could see were tents, fires, food and conversation all the way back to the road that lead into the area. Fires would occasionally flare up from cooking to bonfire status and the whole area had a haze about it showing how long the various camps had their fires going. Smells of different food came from all over.

With a little rework I could really make that sound like the Medieval scene I wanted it to, but my head is too lagged out after last nights Colts @ Pats game. This was my first live NFL game. A very cool experience. We were out tailgating before the game, then did the mini-tour of Gillette. Finally we settled in to wonder where both teams left their defense and whether the officiating crew forgot a layer of clothing and were throwing flags to warm up.

Next time, though, I'm taking the morning after off. Took me half an hour to realize that my Dilbert calendar was on the wrong day; "Is that why the date on the email doesn't look right?!"

*goes off to find more caffeine*

Friday, November 03, 2006

This is going to be WoW lore heavy, so you've been warned. I just /gquit the guild I've been with since April. Long story. This was my leaving post.



Another day, another dark conspiracy or madman. It had been this way since you were a kid starting out. You had thought that when you were of age and joined one of the Alliance guilds things would change. How naive you were. After finding Onyxia running the human city of Stormwind, and defeating her, you had thought things would finally get easier. No such luck. The Guild was assigned to defeating the Dark Iron Dwarves and things got really dark. Still, you couldn't stand idly by as the world was engulfed in another war, so you walked again into conflict. This time against the mountain stronghold of Black Rock Depths.

You passed the shattered doors without noticing them, the Dark Iron had long since pulled back into their strongholds within the mountain itself. The hall was clean today, it looks like the truce with Horde was holding and the battles to see who would battle the Dark Iron were stopped, at least for today. Alliances come and go, and you have seen this hall littered with the dead and dying many times and expected nothing less.

As you passed into the main ring of the citadel, you could see that the battle still raged. The eerie red glow of the magma made the various races seem surreal. Guilds assigned to fighting the Dark Iron passed you, focused on their own goals. The Injured were being tended to, and dead were being stripped of armor and weapons, before being tossed into the magma far below.

As you walked onward you came upon one of the Alliance IronForge Dwarves, sitting on a rock near the giant chains that act as bridges to the forges below. Although not unusual, you felt drawn to the Alliance Dwarf. As you got close you could see his chain mail alternated between being fused together and covered with blood. His axe lay next to him upon the rock he was sitting on. He seemed lost in thought, but his head snapped up as you approached.

He stood slowly. The sound of his armor grinding together made you wonder how he could move. The battle must have been vicious to fuse the metal like that. In a single movement he was standing, axe in hand, and moving toward you. As he got closer you could see giant slash marks across his chest. They looked like claw marks. He slowly secured his axe, and took his helm off.

It was his eyes that caught your attention. While the rest of him looked scarred, almost charred really, his green eyes showed more sorrow than any creature should have to endure. Even with that sadness was a strength, a resolve, to do something. You could feel it radiating from him as he approached.

When he was close enough, he clasped your hands. His grip was firm, but you knew that he would let you go if you moved away. His hands were wet ��� and you knew that feeling. You shuddered, quickly thinking about how you were going to clean his blood off your hands. His dark red beard was tangled with things you didn't want to know about. His head, shaven, was splattered with blood or rust, you couldn't be sure which. As he turned his head to look into your eyes you could see that his face was dark, not from the dirt that covered it, but from some sadness within, and as he spoke you could only feel the dread of his words.

"In da end friend, it wasn't da steel dat let us down. It wasn't too many enemies, or not enough friends. In the end, we lost faith." As he finished, he looked down at where he held your hands and let go. "I lost faith."

He put his helmet on and moved off into the crowd. You couldn't help but look down at your wet hands, expecting them blood stained from the Dwarf. Instead, you saw a pristine white fabric. Your shock instantly turned to curiosity as you unfurled the perfectly kept item. What could have survived the Dwarf's battle and not be torn or covered in blood? As you held it up, you recognized the shape, it was his Alliance Guild tabard. You quickly turned and looked for him to return it, to ask why, but he was gone. You handed the tabard to one of the many couriers and continued onward to catch up with your Guild to prepare for battle.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Bob Barker, Come on Down!

Bob Barker is retiring from hosting the Price is Right. I can't imagine anyone easily filling his shoes.

LOS ANGELES, California (AP) -- Bob Barker is heading toward his last showcase, his final "Come on down."

The silver-haired daytime-TV icon is retiring in June, he told The Associated Press on Tuesday.

"I will be 83 years old on December 12," he said, "and I've decided to retire while I'm still young."

He'll hang up his microphone after 35 years as the host of "The Price Is Right" and 50 years overall in television.

Eerily enough, he's hosted this one show longer than I've been alive. Not sure which aspect of that scares me most. *laughs*

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Finaly run this year?

It's been a few months since I got out to run. Life, work, reality, weather, pick a favorite reason/excuse for why I couldn't get out, but it's been close to two months since my last run. Finally, the stars aligned so I broke out my cold run gear, grabbed the MP3 player and headed out into a brisk 50 degree fall day.

It was a nice 3 mile run. Normal mile of waking up and then the regular grind up the hill and into the last mile. That last hill always sucks. I should take a walk with the GPS some day and see what the elevation change is across my 3 mile route. It's no heartbreak-hill, but the first hill goes for about a mile steady, then the last hill is a short few hundred yard sprint, but after over two miles it is a wake up call.

I didn't expect to finish this year with "6 miles" as the high point or being able to head out and do 3 miles after a two month break. I guess that just goes to show how much things can change when you put your mind to it - or forget to. Sometimes it's your belief that you can't that makes things impossible. Distinguishing the two is a "fun life challenge".

Scott Adams' sums it up...

His complete blog post on Electronic Voting can be found here. Trust me, this one you want to read;
I think about the history of ATMs when I hear all the nervous Nellies wetting their pants over electronic voting machines. I believe those worries are totally misplaced. Now don’t get me wrong – there’s a 100% chance that the voting machines will get hacked and all future elections will be rigged. But that doesn’t mean we’ll get a worse government. It probably means that the choice of the next American president will be taken out of the hands of deep-pocket, autofellating, corporate $h*tbags and put it into the hands of some teenager in Finland. How is that not an improvement?
Told you you wanted to check it out. It will be interesting to see if anyone believes, or cares, that electronic voting can be very easily rigged. In case your wondering if that is true, check out the paper that was just published on "How to steal an election by hacking the vote".

Personally, I'm waiting for the first electronic voting virus that elects Dogbert, or perhaps finally, Snoopy. A definite imrpovement.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

A day in the ...

It's amazing how much can change in one week. In the past week the politics within the group has gone insane. It started when, I'm told, 25 people were thinking about leaving and going off on their own. Obviously, everyone else wasn't too happy about this. Even worse, the manglement types didn't communicate any of this until folks had already started quitting.

It got ugly. Accusations were being thrown this way and that, more people quit. For awhile there it looked like the entire thing was going to go belly up. Still, those remaining stuck it out and are trying to rebuild. The original 25 is more like 40 now. Most of the folks working on the core projects up and left to do their own thing. Many after that left due to managements inaction and lack of communication.

Boggles the mind. This has probably set us back a good four or five months in project terms. I doubt all the aftershocks have stopped, even after a week of quit-quakes.
...
Even more scary when you realize I'm talking about what happened with my Guild in WoW and not about the company I work for. Games imitate life, politics included.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Preparing for success at the poker table...

From (yet another, am I showing a bias here? *laughs*) an article by Daniel Negreanu over on The Poker Gazette comes these tips for staying "in form" for tournaments:
  1. Get some sleep.
  2. No alcohol.
  3. Limit your caffeine.
  4. Watch what you eat: Heavy, fatty foods can make you tired.
  5. Avoid people.
Most of that I would toss into the common-sense bucket. #5 though, was an interesting observation. Basically, if you are hanging out in the casino listening to the slots clang or out with a bunch of friends for a pre-tournament bash. You will be more tired from socializing than if you had taken the time to relax and prepare your mind for the tournament.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Halo gets fragged....

From Guardian Unlimited comes this morbid announcement;
Hollywood's big screen version of Microsoft's hit videogame Halo hung in the balance last night after the two studios behind the project pulled out at the 11th hour.

Universal and Fox withdrew their commitments to the highly anticipated adaptation at the end of protracted compensation talks with the producers.

Sounds like there were a lot of factors that could have caused it. Still sux. I was hoping for one good game-to-movie conversion. Perhaps someone else will pick it up as the article hints at Microsoft continuing to go for it.

Unfortunately with Universal and Fox out, New Line and Dreamworks already passed, and Sony (for some weird reason *cough* PS3 *cough*) all not interested, the list is getting awfully short.

Weird Al Rocks!

Finally a disc in the top 10 and a single in the top 10... all I can say is, about time! Go Weird Al!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Road rage? Nah, I have Web Rage!

There is a term for everything these days. Someone flips out on the road and "Road Rage" is born. Now, some fool does something similar on the web and we have "Web Rage";
An internet user has been found guilty of what police said was Britain's first "web-rage" attack.

Paul Gibbons, 47, tracked down John Jones using details obtained online after the pair exchanged insults in an internet chatroom, a court heard.

The entire article is over on the BBC. The two got into a heated discussion, and our assailant figured out where the other "real person" lived and he and an accomplice paid them a visit. I don't like the idea of this being termed "Web Rage" - had this happened at the local bar we'd call it something else entirely - at least the Brits have put the guy on trial and found him guilty.

There is one piece of advice from the article, obvious for those of us living on the net, but bears repeating:
"It demonstrates how easily other users can put two and two together and also shows how children could also find themselves in danger."

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Sorry son, that action is too litigious

You've got to be kidding me. Society complains that our kids play too many video games, are getting too obese due to lack of activity and then turns around and halts those activities....

CNN just reported that a school in Attleboro, MA has banned Tag;

ATTLEBORO, Massachusetts (AP) -- Tag, you're out!

Officials at an elementary school south of Boston have banned kids from playing tag, touch football and any other unsupervised chase game during recess for fear they'll get hurt and hold the school liable.

Part of life is getting hurt and learning to get up and keep going. If we remove the opportunity for these small falls from our children's lives, how will they be prepared for the larger falls?

They come in Threes....

I should go look up the history of that saying, as it is oddly true. I wonder what the third will be in this case?

First, after 10 years of running regular gaming events, it has finally died. The planning and interest has fallen off to the point where we can't get enough to make it viable. You know its dead when you post "It's dead Jim" and the sole response you get is "So long and thanks for all the fish." (Okay, so the one post back didn't really say that but....)

Second, the guild I've been hanging with for the past six months in WoW has taken a turn and those of us "on the edge" (read: refusing to give up our lives for a game) are now gently being pushed aside in favor of people who probably end up looking like Cartman in the WoW episode.

So what's going to be third? The first two have been gaming related, so I'm guessing it'll have to be something in this space. Does the anti-poker bill count?

*sigh* I hate it when weeks are full of Monday's.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Changing to reader....

No doubt that I live in Google, but until recently it was restricted to search or maps. I finally caught up (a little) with the world and migrated from FireFox's Sage extension to the Google Reader.

I have used Sage for the past year or so, no major complaints. I wish it would auto-update, but that's minor as I don't sit around waiting for sites to update. Otherwise, it did everything I needed. The drawback was keeping my home and office systems sync'd. I had to export and import settings to browse my lists at home or work depending on which one I had updated.

No more of that. Exported my Sage settings and have been getting more and more hooked on Reader. It does keep track of what has changed, allows you to tag things for quick browsing, you can export your lists for backup purposes but you don't need to sync home and office as Google owns you (what you expected me to miss that fact? *laughs*)

If you have a few blogs, RSS feeds, news, etc. that you track and you haven't given Reader a shot. You should.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006

I haven't said much about this, as I'm still hoping it goes away. For those who have missed it, here's a quick summary of how this bill, attached to a port defense bill:
The law makes it illegal for banks, credit card companies and other financial intermediaries to transfer funds to online gambling sites. It does not outlaw the sites, or make playing on them a criminal act, it just makes it difficult to conduct financial transactions. Curiously, online betting on horse racing is still allowed, and not surprisingly, state-sponsored lotteries have also been exempted.
In short, paying for poker online is now illegal. Now, I need to look at this further, but it doesn't yet stop those sites paying you (notice "transfer funds to online gambling sites" not from) so events like the PokerStarts Blogger tournament may still be okay - not sure though.

Quick summary; If you were lucky enough to live in a state where you could legally play online for money, that free ride has likely ended for now. Once this goes live, banks and credit card companies will be the ones penalized for you doing so, and they're going to lock you down. What will be interesting is what happens after this; will there be a "Poker Banking" site that pops up that can take your funds and give'em to the company?

Play money games are safe, no real funds are exchanged.

Movie: Fearless

Ended up at the movies again. Was the wife's turn to choose. We had Gridiron or Fearless. She picked Fearless and in we went. I wasn't expecting what we saw.

Fearless turns out to be inspired by the life of Huo Yuanjia (pick your favorite writeup). From Wikipedia;
Huo Yuanjia was a Chinese martial artist and co-founder of the Chin Woo Athletic Association, a martial arts school in Shanghai. A practitioner of the martial art Mízōngyì, he is considered a hero in China for challenging foreign fighters in highly publicized matches at a time when Chinese sovereignty was being eroded by foreign concessions and spheres of influence. Due to his heroic status, legends and myths about events in his life are difficult to discern from the facts.
We really enjoyed the film. Don't go in expecting a Iron Monkey, its more of a drama about Huo Yuanjia's life and the challenges he faces outside of the ring as well as in. Like many people I have encountered, it is those that have walked and lived in the darkness that end up coming into the light and bringing about change.

The store of Huo Yuanjia's life in the movie is no different. If you enjoy a good story and martial arts, you will enjoy the movie.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Is this Heaven? Where's my Goldfish?

It was the first pet death in the house today. My daughters Betta died. The fish had been on the ropes for a few weeks and we, the completely clueless parents, listened to the store we bought her from that things would "be alright". I should have spent five minutes in google.

Lets see, the fish likes 75F water or higher. Well, the bowl wasn't heated and nights around here have been dipping into the high 60s. The fish froze to death. Thanks pet store for not warning us to get a heater.

Anyway, so I'm coding away this morning and my eldest comes down and says "Dad. Come upstairs." in a way that made me wonder who died. She wouldn't tell me what was going on and I was left to figure it out. Thankfully her brother had other plans and blurted out "Pink died."

Pink was the name of the fish. Yup, sure enough, one dead fish and one less than happy 1st grader. Took awhile before the tears hit, but they did. She colored a little memorial fish plaque out of cardboard and construction paper and headed off to school. I've been informed the burial will be after school today.

Next time, a little more research and a heater for tropicals.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

So it's not just Cable Repair that does it....

"This is UPS......we'll be delivering a package that requires a signature today between 8am and 7:30pm"
Doesn't require more explanation than that. They called at 8am to warn me to stay home all day to sign for this package. Unless this is expedited, they wont be here till 5:30p, so if I know that, why don't they?

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Phases, changes....

Been awhile since I talked about what's going on in the family. Truth is, with work, I've been flat out of my normal blogging time. Plenty of ideas, no time, and a forgetful streak to write them down. Been a month, what can I say.

Best one liner in the past two months: "Will you two be quiet. I'm trying to sleep."

Nope, not my wife or I. This was my eldest yelling at her parents that they were making too much noise. No, we weren't doing that, think it was our monthly pillow fight... either way, it woke up my eldest and she was a bit miffed.

She followed that up with asking the dinner table: "How does the daddy put the baby seed into the Mommy?"

Thankfully, no adults were injured during the choke moment that followed. My wife took this one and the girls went off to talk about it. The one thing I heard about it was my daughters reaction to part of the explanation: "EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEW!"

On the family side, we've entered a new phase. First, it was "What did this kid eat to make the diaper this color!?" that was followed by "Went to the sandbox today did ya? No wonder your diaper rash hurts." or "Why did you put a toy in here?". Then came the "Yes, I realize you have a portable toy there, but that doesn't mean you should be playing with it on the couch" (both of my kids ~3 *rolls eyes*)... now, we have entered the new phase....

As I empty their hamper, or am doing the laundry; "WTF put this in their pocket?" So far, the "missing thermostat sensor" has to be the winner. Thankfully, it didn't make it to the spin cycle.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Army Graduation Speech



Some things need to be passed along.... these are the men going over and, with luck, coming back.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Making task switching nicer....

Just ran across a nice app (the things you can find on Digg occasionally!) called TaskSwitchXP. Here's the blurb from the site;
TaskSwitchXP is an advanced task management utility that picks up where the standard Windows Alt+Tab switcher leaves off. It provides the same functionality, and adds visual styles to the dialog and also enhances it by displaying thumbnail preview of the application that will be switched to.
The XP style of switching has always driven me nutz... I'm hoping this will help. I'll let ya know!

Busy...busy....

I swear it was August the last time I looked at the calendar. Oddly enough, even that has been changed to Septmeber. I must have changed it, but I can't remember when. Rather like the last few weeks of lunch that I know I ate but can't remember flavor or food. No, wasn't the cooking, was immersed at work.

After six months of development the engine was turned on and, at first, all you could see was smoke. It didn't help that we were bolting on new pieces while the engine was running but that was all part of what needed to be done. Most of this thing had been built in the warehouse with a very solid understanding of what needed to go where. There was a large piece that couldn't be build there and that no one totally understood.

We do now.

I hope to remember today's lunch.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Rambling, rambling, rambling - raw hide!

Hmm, hasn't been a good year for the caffeine addiction. I'm going through my "one week off" and it's the second time doing that this year (check out the post in April). 2006 has been "an interesting year". I think that is the proper euphemism for "big phuqing pain". I can imagine how the Holiday season is going to be. Probably dead boring if the rest of the spaz year is any indication.

At least most of the shopping is done for Christmas and we can get our yearly "HTF DO YOU DO THAT?!" from friends and family. Funny, I used to be irked if I wasn't done by now - guess I've mellowed.

So what's been going on? Normal drama in the MMO world, I'll spare you the details. Lets just say that the "I'm sorry we can't hire you because you don't have experience" "And how do I get experience if you don't hire me?" scenario translates right into the gaming world. On the other hand, my alts are getting play time at least proving the game doesn't suck.

I've also started playing Company of Heroes. Finally an RTS that I can get back into. The single player has been a blast. You command units during WWII starting on Omaha and pushing inward. Defending Carentan was a rush, literally, they almost got me. Silly me forgot to have a fall back defensive perimeter. ooops. I can't wait to try it online with the other CDLers that are hooked.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Halo movie moving forward....

Just read a nice interview with Peter Jackson about the Halo Movie. Here's hoping it all comes off! I'll let you go read this one if your curious.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

You know you are a gamer when....

...the following post actually makes sense to you! *laughs*

One of the groups I play online games with recently pointed out that Sonic the Hedgehog has turned 15! The little blue guy can almost get his LP in the real world (never mind that in the non-real world he drives tricked out hummer wanna-bes with missiles... details!).

And in the "omg am I old" category.... I remember when he first came out. I bought him on my first Sega console from a real Toys'r'Us. This was back when Toys'r'Us had the best selection of games for consoles. EBX? Never heard of it. Online? BBS's didn't sell games (well, lets not go there *laughs*).

And one more reason to buy a PS3 once the price drops below "Left Arm and First Child" Sonic's next installment will be there.

Go blue dude!

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

If you want to be emailed....

Feedburner updated some of its free services including getting an email when the blog is updated. If you'd prefer to get the posts sent to ya fill out the form!

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Welcome Back....

And summer vacation ends. No where in the kids-instruction book did it say you had to go back to school too. Sure enough, we're back on day 1 getting lunch ready, kids dressed, and now, no bus - its a walk - weather permitting.

As I'm finishing off the last of breakfast (chocolate chip pancakes) Pandora selects Van Halen's "Jump!" - so I crank it up thinking the kids would enjoy it. Not thirty seconds later I have all the kids downstairs...

"Is this the jumping song?" asks my eldest, dressed for school.

"Yes."

"Good!" as all three start jumping along with the beat, pulling me off my chair to dance with them.

Chocolate chip pankakes, Van Halen, and a happy house.

I'll take it.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Hallooo Molten Core!

It's interesting to look back on how your gaming career has progressed. I started playing PC games with F-19, and even a Chuck Yeager flight sim (that didn't have weapons! *gasp*). Then at my first job got hooked on playing Doom with my coworkers, then Descent, and onward we went.

A few jobs later would see me creating my Quake 2 Mod and then some of those coworkers starting the EverQuest addiction. One of those would even make "70" and start planar progression. A few single player titles in there, like Morrowind and FEAR, a long beta with GuildWars and then World of Warcraft.

Somehow, during all that history, there was a change in reality of the gamers and my wife and I are the only ones still playing. The rest have stopped, for the most part. Civ III? Couldn't get anyone into it. Company of Heroes? Looks like the same. WoW? Got a few, but most are quitting - even the level 70 convert from EQ.

Which leaves me entering Molten Core with the guild and, for once, having no one to talk to about it. It's no big deal for the guild now, they've been taking down Rags for a month now and tearing up MC for as long as I've been in the guild - so aside from friends in the guild understanding the feeling of accomplishment, well, as my daughter would say;

It's like watching rainbows in the dark.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

No kidding, really?

From CNN we get the final answer...
(CNN) -- A federal judge on Thursday ruled that the U.S. government's warrantless wiretapping program is unconstitutional and ordered it ended immediately.
And it took how many months to figure that one out? Felt rather obvious to me, you can't wiretap me unless you get permission and show just cause - even if I'm a terrorist. Oddly enough, our country believes they have rights too.

Benjamin Franklin summarized it well -
Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both.
Seems to me that our intelligence organizations have lost their cold war edge - time to refocus.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Fun with Spam....

I got a fun one the other day. It opened with an add for 1-800-PetMeds, but clearly wasn't from that company. The email was raw text and the links weren't even close to what they were claiming. Since I had the safety of reading the email via Lynx and Mutt (as in, I only got text) so I started poking around...

Without further ado, Fun With Spam!

Lets start with the Unsubscribe options that were listed at the bottom of the email:
To unsubscribe Go to:
<url>
Or write to: 1441 SW 29th Avenue Pompano Beach, FL 33069
Please refer all questions, opinions or additional feedback to
freshhealthystuff@gmail.com or write to:
Fresh Healthy Stuff
1465 Woodbury Avenue
# 334
Portsmouth, NH 03801

Okay, which is it: the Florida address or the New Hamshire one? I wouldn't click on the URL if you paid me, but lets find out where it points to and see if it provides some hints as to which address might win. I honestly doubt there is a physical office attached to this, but we'll see.

All of the URLs in the email point to rare-term-insurance.net so lets see who that is.
indiantown, fl, 34956
Yes fellow geeks, I'm giving them some level of privacy. If you were good enough to recognize that, you are good enough to look up the rest yourself. *grins*

Hmm, that's 3 physical addresses now. All the email addresses and links all point to the same domain. Lets take a look at what a websurfer would get using wget. First up, we get bounced from the rare-term-insurance.net domain over to users.marketleverage.com who says their physical offices are in
Heathrow, FL 32746
Another vote for somewhere in Florida, and our 4th unique address. Now the fun has begun. The script for the page at users.marketleverage.com looks like a complete front end to 1800PetMeds.com.

I didn't dig too deep here, but this is starting to look like a phishing scam. I bet if we dug deep enough we could figure out what details are being collected. Account information and credit cards more than likely, but I've spent enough time on this one - I forwarded it to the actual petmeds guys for them to deal with.
--
Moral of the story; be sure of what you are cliking on before you click on it! I doubt you'd notice much of a difference between the non-1800petmeds site and the real petmeds site, aside from some requiring extra email validation, etc.

The best joke? This site boasts "HACKER SAFE certified sites prevent over 99.9% of hacker crime."

And I guarantee someone believed it.

Darkest before the light...

It spilled into the house a few weeks ago. At first, it wasn't too bad. It made things look dirty, dark somehow even during a bright July day. Slowly it spread through the house darkening even the most fun things. At least at first, it seemed like a bad mood had grabbed the house, no one was themselves. Then it got worse.

The light had gone from the fun, smiles and laughter were replaced by shouting and frowns. Everything seemed to go wrong, although nothing was going wrong. Small, trivial things, came under the scrutiny of the darkness - nothing was exempt.

Even worse, no one noticed.

The darkness had become "normal". It always felt wrong, but if you looked for it you couldn't see it. Shining a light into a corner scared it off, but the moment the light was gone it was back. Happiness was being replaced.

Finally the day came for the words to drive it away. The phone rang and my wife said three words...

"It's not cancer"

Monday, August 07, 2006

She hit me!

I've had the honor of working with one of our new students at my martial arts class. She's a little over 5 foot tall and has no control, yet. It's to be expected, however, it's new to me. Most of the students I work with, even the ones that "have no control" have control enough to not hit full strength. Not so in this case.

My instructor refers to this as part of my "trials". I can see why, I've learned a lot. It's no longer block to practice, its block correctly so that I don't get smacked. We were doing an exercise where we were practicing blocking by bringing the attack up and into your bicep (if your familiar with it, think #1 or #2 block out of the 8 point system). This works very well for people of your height or greater, when they are shorter, if you don't adjust, you get a fist in the chin and if the puncher is not in control of the punch it is a wake up call. Trust me.

The interesting thing isn't that I'm getting hit, that's part of learning, it's that I've noticed my reactions being jaded. People I trust implicitly to control their punches I've been flinching at. It's left me thinking of how the mind processes things in these situations; although I know other students will not land a punch I still react as if they will. Both good and bad depending on the situation.

Makes me wonder what other events left marks like that where you react, not because the person is that way but, because you are afraid of being hurt.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

I didn't place 3rd.

Placed 2nd. w00t!

Got into a 5000 player 300+20 (play money) at Pokerstars. Started at 8pm and ended at 2:30a. Had the chip lead for a long time. Came into the final table 3rd in chips. We started with blinds of 40k/80k with 4k antes and battled it out till we were heads up at 150k/300k with 10k antes.

I was toast, made a bad read and got my stack reduced to nadda early in the heads up match. Can't say I'm surprised, I was seeing my concentration wander by 1am. At least it was a draw out on the final hand. I had pushed back to over 600k and was all in with top pair and he caught the flush on the river to win.

Payout was 215k in fake chips. I'll post more details once I'm conscious and crawl through the log for stats and fun hands.

Friday, July 28, 2006

I hear an echo

I just received the following CNN alert:
President Bush says he would back a U.N. resolution, deployment of multinational force, to end Middle East crisis.
Mr. Bush, you already have a war going on in Iraq. Around 4000 troops had their tours extended and more troops are landing in country1. That doesn't sound like we're pulling out any time soon. Is it wise to be thinking about turning it into a multiple-front war?

If the Middle East decides to test your resolve, the ones suffering are the ones already suffering; our troops. You might want to pick up a rifle and walk the perimiter for a few while thinking this through sir.


1 Quick google for "busy deploy troops iraq" will get you a list. Here's one link.

Happy SysAdmin day!

And many thanks to all the SysAdmin's I've worked with over the years. Make sure you check out SysAdminDay.com!
"Let's face it, System Administrators get no respect 364 days a year. This is the day that all fellow System Administrators across the globe, will be showered with expensive sports cars and large piles of cash in appreciation of their diligent work. But seriously, we are asking for a nice token gift and some public acknowledgement. It's the least you could do."
For those of you, like me, who do your own admin work - may I suggest treating yourself to something fitting from ThinkGeek. Something appropriate like PEBCAK, "Damnit Jim!", "SQL Query" or the ever present RTFM.

And no, I don't get money if you buy. I pimp what I wear. (^_^)

Monday, July 24, 2006

Fear

The story you are about to hear is true. Although participants have been obfuscated to obscure their identities...


I ran into an interesting fear this weekend. At least, I'm going to call it that, based upon the reaction I saw in the person I was talking with. We were discussing an event that happened at a family gathering and the person I was talking with made the assertion that they felt that all tall people were dangerous as they could "tear him in two".

For those that don't know me, I stand 6 foot 2 inches and have an athletic build. As you know from reading I work out and do martial arts. The combination of which, to me, means I'm working to better myself. It's very rare I've thought of tearing someone in two and I've never gone ahead and done so.

I can imagine the look on my face that caused him to back pedal saying that "well obviously people who know martial arts could [kill someone if they weren't tall]". The whole scene felt surreal. Why would tall people be more dangerous than short people?

Pop Quiz! Define tall.

Seriously. Take a moment and come up with a definition of what or whom you consider tall.

To me it's someone taller than me, so taller than 6 foot 2 inches. People are "my height", "shorter" or occasionally "damn tall". Oddly enough, it's those "shorter" people that I would say are capable of tearing someone in two.

Why? It's all in your perspective. Did your definition of tall match mine? I doubt it. How we perceive the world is as varied as we are. In this case a "shorter" person was telling me how tall people are more dangerous than others. Given his height, I'm not surprised, I would bet most of the population is taller than he is, thus, making it easy to worry about "all the tall people" in the same way I would look more at "all the short people".

Funny how those fears take root when you don't take time to look at why.

Friday, July 21, 2006

World of Warcraft stealing money from the industry?

No, not embezzlement. I wish I could find the original article talking about it (but thankfully I did find another mentioning it). The idea being that the success and draw of World of Warcraft (and I'd argue EverQuest, EVE, etc.) keep people from purchasing other games.
“For retail PC games, I think the biggest problem is World of Warcraft,” Sullivan said. “It is such a compelling MMO game that it sucks up a lot of money and time that would normally be spent on other retail PC games.”
That quote hits the nail on the head. I don't think WoW is stealing money from the industry, rather, the gamers are comparing their experiences in WoW to a $50 purchase that may only last 12 hours as a single player game.

I admit to this myself. I used to buy a PC game a month at the height of my gaming addiction (and I swear there were enough good titles to buy at that point!). Now, I only buy those that really catch my attention.

Give you a recent example, Prey. I thought the game sounded very interesting, so I tossed it up on my Amazon wish list and figured I'd pick it up as my birthday rolled around. The game released and my friends online started posting reviews. So did everyone else on the net, the game has about 8 hours of playable content, fun content, but for $50 I expect a little more than 8 hours.

Instead of complaining that people aren't buying PC games anymore and that WoW has 'stolen' from the industry, it's time to look at why WoW is holding onto gamers. The answer to that will bring things around again.

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Thursday, July 20, 2006

"But you're Strong..."

I was heading upstairs on one of my normal breaks from work. Needed to refill the water glass and defill myself. As I'm heading from the bathroom to the kitchen my son runs up and hugs my legs.

"Up please," he looks up at me from just below my belt. When did he get so tall?

I reached down and picked him up. "Dude, you're getting heavy."

"That's okay Dada, you're strong." He says as if there was no question that I could lift a car like Mr. Incredible.

"Thanks," but before I start saying his name he continued.

"Not like Mommy," he looks me in the eyes, suddenly serious. "Every time Mama picks me up she says 'ugh'".

*ROFL*

Truth is, Mommy does that on purpose because it makes him laugh. I didn't tell him that though.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

A Tribute

A good week for pass alongs. This one is a video dedicated to all our troops, past and present. They didn't waste words, so I wont either: Watch it here.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Some things just need to be passed along

From WeirdTechNewsHub: Top 10 Worst URL Flops we have a list that you have to go look at. Definitely adds one more thing to be careful of as you choose a new domain.
7. If you’re looking for computer software, there’s always
www.ipanywhere.com

Hmm, which one wins?

Funny how many things we consider normal are paradoxical...

On my town website you get the following pop-up from the electric provider:
[We are] experiencing peak use. While loss of service is unlikely, please conserve energy at this time to help keep electric rates down. Thank you!
Now, from the Weather.Gov website, for the area:
...DRINK PLENTY OF WATER AND TRY TO STAY IN AN AIR CONDITIONED ENVIRONMENT. PLEASE ALSO CHECK ON ANY ELDERLY NEIGHBORS OR FAMILY MEMBERS THAT LIVE ALONE.

* Pardon the caps, for whatever reason, Weather.gov hasn't invested in announcements with lowercase letters.
Since I work from home, do I conserve energy by not turning on the AC and muscle it out or turn on the AC to stay in the right environment? Perhaps I should call in hot to work and turn off the PC. *laughs* Yeah, I can imagine that conversation with the boss.

For what it's worth, I may not have any elderly in the house but the kids have been looking like small balls of mobile condensation so the AC is on until the T-Storms hit.

Come on T-Storms!

Monday, July 17, 2006

Writers block sucks...

Honestly I have been trying to post lately but most of what's been going on has been off limits or things that just didn't click with what I had wanted to write about. I'd love to have put up that I placed at Foxwoods, but that's not yet to be (anyone with suggestions of how to practice multi-table tournaments with the silly bill coming around, let me know!).

Aside from work, things have been quiet. I'm going to have to take a deeper look at what will become newsworthy... got a suggestion, post it!

Friday, July 14, 2006

Finally upgraded my internal network...

I finally upgraded my internal network to a Linksys (Cisco) WRTG54GL. Why so specific? I had been reading about the open source project DD-WRT for a long while now and finally hopped on the bandwagon. You need to make sure your router is supported before jumping in and flashing it.

The article that tipped the scale for me was over on HackAttack and since my allowance was still burning a hole in my pocket I shot over to NewEgg and got the router. Upgrading was as simple as the article said, flash it with the mini version, then the full version, and start configuring.

There are too many features to itemize here. Simple put, my little router went from "oh that's nice" to "thank god that's one less thing I have to chase down later". Geek nirvana in many ways. It was a fun little project. Aside from changing the wireless security, it was plug-n-play for my network.

A very nice upgrade if your in the market.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Signs, signs, everywhere there's signs

Now that I've relaxed while driving to and from the tournaments I've been enjoying the local scenery. This past trip 3 signs caught my eyes;

I'd love to know why in Connecticut the fine for littering is $219. Not $200 or $220, but $219. I'm sure there is a committee somewhere that knows the answer, but that just cracked me up.
Can't you just see some guy telling his wife; "Aw man, That's $1 over my $218 limit!"

There's a farm selling "Haywood". I'm pretty sure they mean hay and wood as the punctuation was there, at some point in history. For a few miles I sat there wondering what "haywood" as a product could be. New style of Duraflame log perhaps?

There's a reason you should think through renaming things after famous folk. I'm sure Al Gore is very honored by the graveyard, but "Gore Graveyard" just brings the wrong mental images to mind.

* Bonus points if you recognized the song from Tesla (or The Five Man Electrical Band depending upon your favorite decade) for the title of the post.

Nope, didn't place...

Another trip, another few lessons learned. The first of which is that I'm not wearing shorts next time. Man did they have the AC amped in the new Foxwoods' poker room. How bad? When I walked out of the casino (after busting out) into the early afternoon my glasses fogged over. Explains why I was shivering.

I have no complaints on my play, think I over paid on one hand and that loss cost me the rest of the tournament. The two hands I ended up going all-in with while short stacked were, of all things, pocket Queens!

The first time all-in I had the guy, unfortunately, the poker gods weren't smiling on me. The community cards came up, A-3-5-4-2... and the entire table, myself included, laughed.

Second time, the guy who called me was priced in. At 150/300 with 25 ante my "450" wasn't enough to scare anyone away. His K-4 didn't catch one, but two Kings (the turn and river) and I was out. Not sure on where I placed in this one, was a lot harder to 'see' the tournament and I was ready to go after the bad beats with the Queens.

There's always next time.

Monday, July 10, 2006

And what about life?

Life? ...whadda ya mean life? ...i aint got a life.
-Megadeth from the song Captive Honour
It's interesting to me how MMO's like World of Warcraft and EverQuest have become havens for studies on human behavior and interaction. Ongoing studies like the Daedalus Project continue to look at how MMO players reflect what's going on in the real world. Not surprisingly so has the media with news of players that stop eating and end up killing themselves, literally, because they can't let go. To players who are landing real life jobs because of their experiences in game (too bad I can't find the link to that story now! *sigh*).

Having just hit the "end" of the leveling in WoW I've been able to sit back and look around the landscape and there are some very interesting parallels between what the game becomes and things that happen in real life. If I told you that if you dedicated yourself to your job, gave it all your time, you would be rewarded with better things for your home, a new car, perhaps even enough to put a few of your kids through school, would you give up all of your spare time, even time with your family to achieve it?

A number of people would. Think of Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, etc. the pinnacle of the US mentality of rags to riches. These are the examples we're shown of how to do it - give up a lot and down the road reap the rewards. If your lucky.

In games, just like life, if you want to be the best it will require you to give up your time to grind out the items and money, virtual in this case, to get those "things". The people who dedicate their time and energy to doing this will have the best "things" in game and will be looked at like the "Bill Gates" of the online world.

Trying to convince your parents and friends that having an uber Tier 2.0 set is cool is rather like telling your friends you can speak Klingon. They're going to question your sanity - unless they're into it to.

Guess this is another of those Art imitating Life ideas; Even in games we need a bit of luck and a lot of time to make things happen and as with real life the ones that will be most appreciative of the accomplishment will be those that have struggled to achieve it - virtual or real. I do wonder, will those people with the dedication in a virtual world translate it outside of it?

Friday, July 07, 2006

Why a week off?

Talking with people about the workout I do always prompts interesting questions. "Are you training for a marathon?" always tops the list, and the rest tend to be from people looking to lose weight or tone up and asking about specifics of what I've done.

No one, yet, has asked why I take a week off after every six. Honestly, it originated with my first workout video who stressed having down time. At that time I didn't understand why, but I really looked forward to that first week off. It was a hard six weeks starting the boot camp videos. No surprise considering that I could do maybe 10 push-ups, no pull-ups and forget the run.

It's been almost two years now exercising and watching what I eat. 50 push-ups is the norm, I'm still working on the pull-ups (closing in on 30) and the run peaks at 6 miles. Even after all this, I still take a week off.

Why? To eat what I want? Run when I feel like it? A little, I wont deny it. I certainly enjoyed the box of Hostess Cupcakes this week, but mostly it lets me refocus on why I'm doing this and what my goals are. What do I want to do with the next 6 weeks? Add more miles? Focus more on the regular workout? Lose weight? Who knows, but by the end of the week I have figured it out and I'm ready to keep going.

I don't believe in going full tilt 100% of the time, you'll burn yourself out. Whether that's work, exercise, or chasing your kids around the block - you need time to decompress and refocus. I did one run this week, six miles, and it felt great and I was very motivated. Compared to last week where I was pushing for every mile because I was mentally "done".

Thursday, July 06, 2006

What's in a firework?

As I stood with my kids watching the show I found my mind wandering to what the meaning of the fireworks really were. The kids saw a beautiful show of colorful sparks that flew through the air. Daddy was sitting there remembering all the troops, past and present, that gave us the gift of being able to sit here and watch the show.

Each flash brought my mind a little further distant from the room, thinking of the men and women who were dodging real fireworks, the kind that were aimed at you instead of away from you. They weren't with their family, watching a show, they were with their units hoping to see their families.

I thought, for a few moments, about telling my kids about this and decided not to. There is plenty of time for them to have to deal with reality - for now, they've been given the gift of innocence, they should be allowed to enjoy it.

What's in a flash?

It's been a long time since I've been able to go and see the fireworks. Mostly, it's been that the kids have been too young to stay up till it was dark or that we didn't have enough people to carry them back to the car if we did push them to see it. It was a pleasant surprise, as I was putting the kids to bed on the 4th, to be able to see the local town show out of my son's window.

My daughter, perched half on and half off of her top-bunk and my son standing on his bed to see over the trees blocking his view, and I watched as the finale unfolded in front of us. My son covered his ears at each report and finally gave up doing that and just kept his ears covered, the whole time his eyes were glued on the horizon watching the colorful explosions.

"Look Dad! A flower!" This time, my daughter, who I didn't know could defy gravity but, once again, proved me wrong, yelled as a nice red one went off over the trees. They were both mystified and intrigued. It was the first time they had gotten to see fireworks and I had lucked out to be there with them.

It was a nice ending to a very tiring day.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

The best time to meet your goal...

Give you an example from the diet side. Let's say that you have decided to lose 10 pounds over the next few months. You've picked a diet that works for you and joined the gym. Your plan is to diet daily and work out at least twice a week.

For the first few weeks things go really well and life is good. Your able to hit your diet goals and make it to the gym right on schedule - then real life hits. Work tosses you a curve, and you end up working late to get the project done on time. Of course, its also one of your Gym nights, and its late. You want to go home and forget about work.

Do you go to the Gym?

It's easy to rationalize not going. Your tired, you don't want to, the day was hard and you can go some other day. Although accurate, it's a bad idea to not go, especially when you are starting a new routine. If you skip one day, diet or exercise, why not two? Three?

As you start working out, dieting, or any new goal it is very easy to stop. What we have to realize here is that the most important thing isn't that you get to the Gym or stay on the Diet it's that you establish a new habit. It's that habit that will serve you better than any diet-du-jour or workout-of-the-month. If you do it consistently, whatever it is, you will meet your goals.

That's why the best time to diet, work-out, mow the lawn, etc. is when you don't want to because in doing it when you don't want to you will push yourself to change the habit and do it anyway. Once the habit is ingrained, you'll be amazed at what you can accomplish.

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Monday, June 26, 2006

This was SPAM?

The fun thing about my work setup is that viewing spam shows all the things that are normally hidden when you view them in HTML format. This one was in today's spam-folder (formatting left intact);
The English Language. Have you ever wondered why foreigners have trouble with the English Language?. Let's face it. English is a crazy language. There is no egg in the eggplant No ham in the hamburger. And neither pine nor apple in the pineapple. English muffins were not invented in England. French fries were not invented in France. We sometimes take English for granted But if we examine its paradoxes we find that Quicksand takes you down slowly, Boxing rings are square. And a guinea pig is neither from Guinea nor is it a pig. If writers write, how come fingers don't fing. If the plural of tooth is teeth. Shouldn't the plural of phone booth be phone beeth, If the teacher taught, Why didn't the preacher praught. If a vegetarian eats vegetables. What the does a humanitarian eat? Why do people recite at a play, Yet play at a recital? Park on driveways and Drive on parkways. You have to marvel at the unique lunacy. Of a language where a house can burn up as it burns down. And in which you fill in a form by filling it out. And a bell is only heard once it goes! English was invented by people, not computers, and it reflects the creativity of the human race (Which of course isn't a race at all) That is why when the stars are out they are visible, but when the lights are out they are invisible, and why it is that when I wind up my watch it starts, but when I wind up this observation, it ends.

The fun here being that trying to find the origin of this is a muddle. There are many blogs, like mine, who attribute it to Spam, official sites that have no authorship, and random quotes and connections that go nowhere. Closest I found was a larger essay by Richard Lederer, "English is a Crazy Language". Too bad his official site doesn't make mention of it. *shrugs*

Sunday, June 18, 2006

2nd Annual WBCoOP

That's the World Blogger Championship of Online Poker. Doesn't WBCoOP roll off the tongue? Doesnt' matter, this is year two of Pokerstar's blogger game - the first one was a lot of fun and I'm looking forward to seeing how I do this year (here's last year hour one and two) . This year there are 2247 players registered (up fron 1471 last year). I placed 360 out of 1471 (top 24% not too bad) I'm hoping to place this year, top 54 win something with 1st place getting a 10k buy-in to the WSOP main event.

Ouch. Didn't make the first hour, my pocket Ks lost to pocket As around 50 minutes in. I ended up in 1653.... a wee bit out of the winnings. :)

That's how it goes.

Saw Cars...

Go see it. The best movie I've seen so far this year. 'nuff said.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Infinite Growth Games...

I've recently caught onto oGame, a game of galactic growth and conquest. At its heart you are a planetary leader rallying your troops to take to the stars and take what you can. Just like the other 15000 players on your server.

The mechanic is very RTS; You product metal, crystal and deuterium and use it to create buildings, defenses, and ships while researching new technologies that will, hopefully, give you an edge or erase someone else's edge against you. It's easy to pick up and anyone could play it. It really feels like a cross between Command and Conquer and Trade Wars. Not a bad distraction.

What gets interesting is the effect it is having on our highly ranked players; they are quitting in droves when they get bored, have their fleets decimated, etc. Why? You spend weeks, or months, building up your fleet only to lose it on an attack or have someone blow you away when your not looking (oh, did I mention the game runs 24x7 even if your not online?).

This is the type of game I refer to as "Infinite Grind", there are a lot of these, some more fun than others, but in the end they all suffer from the same problem; the player has to find things to do as the game offers nothing.

Give you another example from the MMO sphere; EverQuest. When I played you started in your home city and there was nothing for you to do. It was assumed you knew what to do. Great for a veteran, horrible for a new player.

Prefer FPS? Pick one, for the most part they all do this; you get weapons, ammo, armor, and go off to accomplish missions. Quake/Doom/Half-Life all have this effect - you know somewhere, once you have gotten all the weapons in the single player game, you are going to run into the obligatory cut-scene where you get capture/knocked-out/etc. and they strip you of all your weapons so you have to start again.

Why? Because your too powerful and the game needs to balance.

Infinite growth games are hard to balance as everyone grows and grows. In oGame the score to enter the "top 1500" moves up daily. Why? Those players are playing, building, and increasing their scores and increasing the gap between "Able to play" and "Dedicated Target". What fun is it being a target, unless you create a goal to be able to survive.

It's an interesting challenge, how do you create a game where people can build huge fleets and yet allow David to beat Goliath if he uses his head without ticking off Goliath?

No rants?

Last night I watched an episode of the new Celebrity Poker Showdown with its new host Phil Hellmuth. I was expecting a few rants, you know, the normal Phil stuff. Nothing. Nadda. He didn't even raise his voice. He did, calmy, explain why he thought plays were bad or what he would have expected in a given situation... but almost robotically.

What a let down! I was hoping to hear some sparks flying, but no, just a normal guy doing commentary. Perhaps once the hosts gel there will be some of the previous seasons feel to it. Right now, it's just celeb's playing yet more poker with Phil making an occasional comment.

If you've never seen Phil H. without his trademark hat and dark glasses, you have to check this show out. My mental image of him wasn't even close.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

A Soldiers Prayer

When I am called to serve, Dear Lord,
Wherever war may be,
Give me courage to fight the battles,
My country may ask of me.
Grace me with Your presence,
And know that I love You,
While I fight the enemy,
My country needs me to.

Help me protect my comrades,
As You expect me to,
And keep me in Your loving hands,
While I do what I must do.
I want to do my duty,
And to give the best in me,
To do what I've been called to do,
And protect our liberty.

And if, according to Your will,
I must give up my life,
Please bless with Your protecting hand,
My children and my wife.

© 2003
Fred White

Chief Warrant Officer
U.S. Army (Retired)




Another soldier has died, this one a little closer to home than the last. He gave his life for our country and leaves his wife and children in our care.

Support our Troops.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Who are you again?

I firmly believe that any man's finest hour, the greatest fulfillment of all that he holds dear, is that moment when he has worked his heart out in a good cause and lies exhausted on the field of battle — victorious.
- Vince Lombardi
This is the quote that I had imprinted on the back of my RoadId (I got the dogtags). As I started running more I realized I had no id on me and if I did fall during my run I was in trouble if I couldn't speak. So I got the dog tags just in case, thankfully I haven't needed them.

Today was the day I was to push my limits. I have been working toward a five mile run for a few weeks now, following the same schedule I've talked about before. The four mile runs have been leaving me struggling for breath and pushing everything I had out to get to the end. The five mile had me wondering if I could do it, and with the rain delaying the run my doubts had plenty of time to sprout.

Still, I haven't gotten this far in my training by listening to doubts. This morning I got up and did 50 push-ups (47 good ones *laughs*) just to see if I could - another goal I had set for myself. Then I opened up the shades and looked out at the rainy, drizzly landscape. It looked like the run was rained out for day number two.

I lucked out, by run time the world had dried off. It was nicely overcast, around 70, with a nice breeze. Off I went. The first few miles were normal, my usual route. As normal a little winded at the end of the wake up hills in the first two miles. From then on, I was into the new route in areas I didn't know.

Somewhere between mile three and four things got easy. I can't explain it. Second wind? No idea, but it turned into keeping pace, loosening up my shoes (30 years tying my shoes and I'm getting to relearn how to do it right!) so my toes don't go numb and wondering how far I had gone. Due to traffic I ended up changing my route near the end and since I'm not running with a GPS, I had no idea how it was going to affect my distance.

Given how well I was feeling I decided that I'd do one of my old one mile routes just to be sure I hit five miles. Turns out I not only hit it but passed it. Total for the run, around 6.2 miles.

Once again I sit here looking at the goal passing and wondering why I don't want any of the things I promised myself for accomplishing it(this time I was figuring steak and cheese with a 'Dew) and instead being proud of myself for another goal come and gone.

Not sure I'm used to acting like a "grown up" yet. Maybe that's the trick to it. *smiles*

Friday, June 02, 2006

Is a 20 foot longer walk that hard?

My eldest asked me to meet her for lunch at her Kindergarten. I've done this before, swing in, sign up as a guest, wait in line feeling like Guliver. It's a fun time. She loves it and her classmates know me well enough to ask questions and be silly.

As usual I left myself enough time to play car tag in the parking lot. The entrance to the school is not much bigger than one lane and if anyone is leaving as your going in, it can be interesting. After the normal "lets see who knows the boundaries of their car best" games we were heading in to park. We rounded the corner and she stopped.

I couldn't figure this move out. I could see at least 5 open spots that were just a "pull straight in" in front of us. The driver in front of me was pausing as if contemplating the harder turn into the slots that are next to the school. Sure enough, she was and she pulled into the handicapped spot.
Given the diversity of students at the school, I didn't give this much thought. There are plenty of students who have hadicapped plates and placards. I pulled into one of the easy spots I had seen. As I got out I noticed she didn't have a handicapped plate. Not a big deal, since her car was parked adjacent to the ramp leading in, I scanned it for a placard. Didn't have one.

Okay, perhaps she forgot. So as we all walked in I remarked to her that she forgot to put it out. I got the "I'm just dropping off quickly and I took the spot and it wont hurt anyone" look with the "Uh. I'm just dropping my child off." excuse.

Sorry, would the 20 foot longer walk and few seconds extra delay in parking, walking, and driving away impact your schedule that much that you should put one of the people that has need of it out into the other spots?

"It's no big deal, can't they walk that far?" Yes, but they shouldn't have too. They have earned the right to that spot due to their own challenges or their children's. You have not.

A lot has been said about the deteriorating morals of our country. Some blame PC games, others TV, the list goes on. In the end, I don't think it is any of those factors; it is things like this. We lead by example, and the example you just showed your child was this; This rule inconvenienced me, so I'm not going to follow it.

Take pride in your children, teach them that it isn't inconvenient - it's the right thing to do.