Sunday, 17 January 2010, 15:24:13 EDT
A while back I wrote about using Google Reader. At the time, I had not noticed a problem with it. But after few weeks I realized that it wasn't showing any new items for my TVRage feeds. After much investigation I learned that Reader cache's articles based on the GUID associated with the article in the feed source. That makes sense. Google is, after all, reading a LOT of feeds every day. They can drastically speed up their service if they cache common articles.
But there is a problem. TVRage's feeds are broken. A quick inspection showed me that the articles in TVRage's feeds do not include GUIDs. So then I validated feed and learned that even the date formats are wrong. In other words, their feeds are completely broken. It's a wonder they work at all.
Some time previously I had posted to TVRage's forums in a thread asking for multiple country support in the feeds. That thread never got updated with any information regarding the RSS feeds. So it stood to reason that the issues I am describing now would not get fixed very quickly if I reported them. Therefore I hacked together a couple of PHP scripts specific to my personal feeds.
My scripts have been working quite well for my own use for quite some time. Today, I release a single script that you can use yourself for all of your TVRage feeds. You can download t ... (view rest)
Tuesday, 01 December 2009, 20:19:48 EDT
Is four months long enough to go without an update? Seems so.
When I started my new job at CSU I made it a point to re-join the gym on campus. Not long afterward I learned about stereo Bluetooth headphones and upcoming support for them in iPhone OS 3.0. I've never particularly cared for using wired headphones in the gym, so I decided to give some Bluetooth ones a try. I did a bit of research and settled on the Motorola ROKR S9-HD headphones. I have been using these headphones for about four months, and feel comfortable writing a review of them now.
When I first got the headphones I let them charge and then noted my initial impressions. Copied verbatim, these are my initial impressions:
Medium ear bud covers are most comfortable for me
Large and medium covers have an extra bit of rubber that makes noise when the headset jostles
High notes have a warped tin-like sound (e.g. the hi-hats in Don't Damn Me by Guns N' Roses)
SRS WOW is muddy and distorted on most rock music (e.g. Guns N' Roses)
SRS WOW off sounds good with rock music and classical
SRS WOW on sounds pretty good with techno (hardcore, jungle, DnB)
Breakdown by Tom Petty sounds good with it either on or off
Overall, SRS WOW is a waste of time
Based on my initial impressions, the headphones seem rather poor, right? Well, that depends on how you intend to use them. But I'll get back to that.
Points (1), (2), and (3) are really the only postive points in my initial impressions. When making my decision to buy the headphones I thought they would be heavy and tight. I can barely tell they are on my head when I'm using them. They remain mostly stationary, even when running on a treadmill or doing jumping jacks. The headphones come with three rubber ear piece covers: small, medium, and large. The large cover is attached by default. It is definitely nice to have the ability to choose the most comfortable cover.
The sound of the headphones is generally okay. I definitely wouldn't use them over my MDR-V700DJs for casual listenting. Or even the MDR-NC7s I use at work. But for working out in the gym, the S9-HDs work quite well. The SRS WOW feature tends to make the bass overpower the rest of the music. Which is disappointing, because the feature is on by default. So every time you turn the headset off, the SRS WOW feature will be enabled the next time you turn the headset on again. Thankfully it is simple to turn SRS WOW off; just press and hold the "next track" button for a few seconds. You will be able to tell when you have held the button long enough. SRS WOW modifies the sound of the music significantly. About the only time I can really recommend using SRS WOW is as I mentioned in (8). Still, it doesn't sound good with a lot of songs.
As I mentioned earlier, I'm using this headset with an iPhone; an iPhone 3G to be exact. There are some caveats with this combination. For some reason, the Bluetooth implementation on the iPhone does not support the track forward and track backward buttons. So if you want to skip around in your playlist, you will have to do so via the phone's interface. But the phone does support volume up/down, play/pause, and phone call answer/hang up. So the most vital functions are present.
Speaking of phone calls, the headset actually performs quite well at handling them. I have received a couple of calls while in the gym, and each of them has gone smoothly. The person on the other end didn't complain about being unable to hear me, and their voice was very clear in my ears. This feature is a big plus for the headset.
One big point of concern is the environment in which the headset is used. When I first got them, I would put them on to listen to music while walking from my truck to the gym. With my phone in my pant pocket, the audio would skip (basically exactly like a scratched CD) constantly. If I held my phone in my hand, and didn't move the phone much, the skipping would not be quite as bad. If I put my phone in a shirt pocket, the skipping would virtually disappear. From what I have read, this is a direct result of not being indoors. The manual for the headset suggests getting ... (view rest)
Monday, 27 July 2009, 13:27:06 EDT
Once Safari gained RSS feed support I stopped memorizing my daily sites and started letting them come to me. Safari did three things that made me finally switch to using feeds:
It supported grouping feeds into categories.
It placed the categories in a bar between the URL bar and the document view port.
It added the number of unread articles to the category labels.
This was a significant improvement over Firefox's implementation (which is still poor). Safari's RSS support suited me for quite some time. I liked that I didn't have to run a separate program to track feeds. I spend a majority of my computing time using a web browser, so having the RSS client built into my web browser (in a useful way) was really handy. However, a few months ago I outgrew the limited ability of Safari's RSS client feature. I had too many categories, and too many feed subsriptions, for them to all fit in the RSS bar. So I searched for a stand-alone RSS client.
I settled on using Vienna. I wanted something comparable to NetNewsWire, which was shareware at the time, but free. Vienna fit the bill, and I used it until last week.
I don't bring my laptop with me to work since I don't have much time to use it. So, over the past month and a half I had been going home to find several hundered unread articles awaiting me in Vienna. It was like a chore to sift through them after a long day at work. Something needed to be done. I didn't want to bring my laptop with me to work every day, and I wanted to keep my read/unread articles synced between machines. Last week it suddenly ocurred to me that I could use a web based RSS client.
Now that I had a solution I needed to decided on which one to use. I had seen Netvibes in my web site logs before. In fact, the first time I saw it I registered an account and tried it out. I found it too slow, and too busy (visually). So that one was right out. Then I remembered that Google has their own client called Reader. Since I use Google for just about everything else (I even have a Google Voice account), I figured I would try it out.
I have been using Google Reader for about a week now. I have to say that it is quite nice. It isn't as nice as a traditional desktop application, but it works well. It encompasses points 1 and 3 from above, and I was able to import my subscriptions from Vi ... (view rest)
Thursday, 30 April 2009, 21:34:17 EDT
After my post on not being able to find a job some things started picking up for me. I got a message back from a job I had applied for (but nothing from them since), a call from someone else about a job that I can certainly do (and have applied for it), and, most exciting, I've started a web design/development business with a friend.
I was going to wait until we had completed our first project before writing about it here, but this site needs some new content. So, I introduce you to Platypus Web Productions. Our site is still undergoing heavy development, but it is in a decent enough state to unveil (hopefully Chris agrees). It looks great in every browser except one — Internet Explorer 6. Actually, it looks just fine in IE6 after the fix for transparent PNGs is applied, but that takes place after the page has finished loading.
Which brings me to a question: why are you people still using IE6? Almost 50% of the traffic to this website for the month of April has been from user agents claiming to be IE6. I realize IE8 has only been out for a month, but IE7 has been a "critical" update for Windows for a long time, now. Are that many of you really using Windows 2000? Can you not upgrade? Or install any ... (view rest)
Monday, 07 January 2008, 19:20:23 EDT
I say good riddance to the year 2007. I know I didn't post much in 2007. There wasn't much for me to write about. I've been way too busy with school and business to come up with anything interesting. I've decided that, at least for the time being, I will write my opinions on current topics that I feel are important. To start, I will continue on with the digital television transition.
We are now 407 days away from the analog television switch off. It is now possible to apply for a DTV converter box coupon. I haven't taken the time to look in stores yet, but the eligible converter boxes should be appearing in them soon. For a box to eligible, it must only convert a digital signal to an analog signal. It can't do anything fancy like record programs, or something else. I imagine the boxes will retail for around $100. With the coupon, that means it will cost about $60 to get up-to-date without buying a new television. However, you will only be able to get two coupons per household.
I really think the switch to digital is a good thing. I've had some discussion with people who disagree. Their main argument is that it will confuse a lot of people. Also, that people who have come to rely on the evening news will be denied that resource unless they spend more money. I agree with the first point. The switch over has not been well advertised. Something needs to be done about that, and soon. As for the second part, well, television is a privilege, not a right. There are many ways to get the news without a television. I also believe that most of the people who rely so much on the evening news have a newspaper subscription.
I have encountered people who are against the transition simply because it will cost them money. My opinion is that change requires some sort of investment. No one is getting a free ride in this. Not the people broadcasting the content, nor the people watching it. Those of us watching it have a minimal cost compared to those who do the broadcasting. On top of that, what you get for your investment is so very worth it. As I write this, I'm watching a symphony on GPB in high definition with 5.1 ... (view rest)
Wednesday, 19 September 2007, 23:17:50 EDT
So why digital? Why "force" people to convert to something they might not care, or even know, about? The simple answer is that it will free up resources for other uses. The truth of the matter is that the analog cutoff probably wouldn't be happening if it September 11, 2001 had never occurred. Television stations are alloted 6MHz in which to broadcast their signal. That isn't a lot of room to work with when sending analog data. By contrast, Japan uses 20MHz per channel. The additional bandwidth allows them to send high definition pictures without compression. But that also means they have less bandwidth for other services. So if a clearer, larger, picture is desired, either more bandwidth is needed or something has to be done to make the 6MHz work. Enter digital television (DTV). With those same 6MHz, a digital signal can be broadcast that contains way more information than the traditional analog signal. Robert Cringley wrote a good article about the whole mess. It gets a little technical, but it is still easy to follow.
A concern about how the freed frequencies would be sold was brought up in the comments of my last DTV post. In response to that, I present this Ars Technica article. It includes a very clear diagram of what is being offered for sale, and how the frequencies are to be used.
As I've been thinking about how to write this post (and it hasn't come out the way I wanted it to), something occurred to me. Once the analog cutoff is complete, some really cool services can be made available. Think about cellular phones. Their range really sucks. For cellular phones to work, reception towers have to be placed quite frequently over the landscape. Now think about television. How many television towers do you see on a daily basis? I'm willing to bet that you see far fewer of those than you do cellular towers. The frequencies being used by television work well at much greater distances than the ones cellular providers are currently using. I assume that ... (view rest)
Sunday, 29 July 2007, 20:21:45 EDT
Since 1941, broadcast television signals in the United States have been the same. If the law holds, this should change come February 18, 2009. When that date arrives, all analog television signals are supposed to stop broadcasting. If you don't have an ATSC tuner, and rely on Over-the-Air (OTA) signals for television, you will not be receiving any television.
Of course, that is only if the law doesn't change — again. Analog broadcasts should already be off the air, but the date has been pushed back at least twice. Now the AARP is getting involved. According to this story the AARP has testified before Congress that the changeover will cause mass confusion, and upset many people in the largest voting voting population in the country. I agree with the testimony, but I don't think the date should be changed.
Something has to give. In January of this year I purchased a television with an ATSC tuner. The digital signal alone amazing, and the High Definition (HD) content is even better. Unlike analog television, the picture is crystal clear. If you are receiving a strong enough signal, you get perfectly clear video and audio. I'll elaborate more on reception and signal strength in a later post.
I think the AARP should try to educate their members instead of fighting to keep the status quo in place. I understand very well how complicated new technology can be for the elderly. But I also know how much it can improve their quality of life. As t ... (view rest)
Thursday, 12 October 2006, 18:50:50 EDT
Sometime in 2004 either Best Buy or CompUSA, I can't remember which, had an awesome deal on Seagate hard drives. I had two Western Digital drives in my machine at the time; one was an old drive I had used for a primary drive, but was then using as a storage drive, and the other a newer drive. The storage drive was at least three years old and the primary at least two. So I decided to buy one of the Seagate drives to replace my primary drive and finally retire the aging storage drive (I gave it to my roommate and I believe he is still using it). Well, this past June my Seagate drive developed a few hundred bad sectors and I had to ship it off to Seagate for a replacement. They got the drive on the twenty-seventh of June and were not able (out of stock they said) to send me a replacement until August 18. When I got the drive on August 22 it was 20GB short of the drive I sent them; I sent them a 140GB drive and they sent me a 120GB in return! I never even broke the seal on the anti-static bag before getting a new RMA authorization. It took them another two weeks to get the correct drive to me. About three days ago this replacement drive started chirping. That's right, the drive sounds like a damn bird. The Western Digital drive that used to be my primary drive, and became my storage drive when I bought the Seagate, is still working and has yet to show signs of imminent failure. Can you guess what I am going to do to fix the Seagate drive? Yep. I'm going to buy a new Wester ... (view rest)
Thursday, 24 August 2006, 13:48:10 EDT
I was driving to my friend Jay's place to meet him for lunch on the fifth of this month when I had an idea. I decided to drive to Michigan and visit family during my break between semesters. I would have left that following Tuesday, but I had a rather important job to get done at work that week (which I didn't remember until Sunday). Instead, I left Georgia on the twelfth at about 7:00; actually, I got on I-75N at 6:50. I made it to South Haven, Michigan at about 21:00. I would have been there earlier, but I got mixed up on my directions and missed a turn. I spent about forty-five minutes fixing my mistake. Anyway, I spent all of last week in Michigan visiting with family I haven't seen in seven years and working (a little bit) with my Dad. I really enjoyed my visit. It was quite a change of pace from my normal day-to-day activities. I took more naps that I think I have ever taken and spent more time away from a computer than I have since, well, I can't remember. I haven't decided if I will try to go back up next year, though. I think I would like to, but I don't want to put the extra 2,000 miles on my truck every year. Maybe that is a lame excuse, but I'm going to have to drive this thing for many years.
Speaking of driving 2,000 miles. It is about 800 miles between Stockbridge, Georgia and Pullman, Michigan. Depending on the route you take, and the stops you make, it is a twelve to fourteen hour drive. As a result, there is a lot of time to observe traffic. Maybe it was because I drove through on Saturdays, but I found that there is a lot less traffic in Tennessee, Kentucky, and Michigan than there is in Georgia. When I got back to the Atlanta area I think there was more traffic at 20:00 than I encountered in Chattanooga, Nashville, Louisville, and Indianapolis combined. I feel somewhat sorry for the people who come into Atlanta and don't know how to drive here. Our traffic moves at almost twice the speed of the cities I mentioned (posted speed limit be damned) with twice the number of lanes to navigate. Then you have to deal with the people; it must be a frightening experience for out-of-towners. I eased right back into it, though. Around Barrett Parkway, some ricer got so far up my rear he should have bought me dinner first. I was in no mood for that so I slowed down to forty. When he passed I gave him a taste of his own medicine.
I also found out how well the FM transmitter for my iPod works in other states. The station I usually broadcast on, 89.1, doesn't work so well between Georgia and Michigan. I used it exclusively while ... (view rest)
Wednesday, 02 August 2006, 20:34:06 EDT
We have been upgrading the wireless access points around campus the past few weeks. The new access points are dumb terminals that talk to an access point server. The server manages all aspects of the devices; what ESSIDs they have, the channels they broadcast on, etceteras. There is a software package that is used to connect to the server and manage it, and the devices. The company only provides it for Windows (2000 SP4 and later) and two Linux distributions — SuSE 9.1 and Red Hat WS 3. So, today I loaded Windows XP on a Dell laptop so that I can manage these access points. As I was installing the software I noticed that they wrote it in Java! Why they don't have a Mac OS X client is beyond me. It makes no sense to write something in a language that was designed to generate programs that can run on any platform and only offer it on two. Oh well, maybe one day they will wake up and realize their stupidity.
Since I installed Windows on a machine I intend to use only rarely, I installed the latest Internet Explorer 7 beta. After a little testing, I determined that IE7 will display this site correctly (mostly) if the stylesheet is sent to it. It does what Opera 8 was doing; it shoves the buttons off to the right a little too far, but that is acceptable. So I am not sending the stylesheet to IE7. Internet Explorer 6 and earlier will still get only the HTML.
I don't recommend you upgrade IE to version seven just yet. It will be forced on you soon enough via an automatic update. It is still a beta, and people have had problems uninstalling it. But, if you are an Internet Explorer user, you should soon get to view this site as the rest of the reader ... (view rest)
Tuesday, 14 March 2006, 09:34:07 EDT
I have been using my iPod for a while now. Of course, this has forced me to use iTunes to manage my music. I think I am starting to like it. One of the features I have been trying to use effectively is the Smart Playlists feature. I have mostly been using it to group albums by the same artist into one playlist. This way, I can have all my Jimi Hendrix stuff in one list and my Orbital stuff in another. Nice and organized. I have 930 items in my iTunes library, though. That is a little over eight days worth of music (and some videos). I haven't even begun to rip my whole CD library, so that list is only going to grow. I can't possibly sort through that every time I get bored of the music on my iPod, and create a new playlist or two. So, I had a rather brilliant idea a couple weeks ago. I created a Smart Playlist to randomly select some music for me and I set iTunes to automatically update that playlist on my iPod. I have found this playlist to be so handy, and refreshing, that I want to share it with you, the internet.
Line #1 is a no brainer and a default when creating a new Smart List. Lines #2 - #6 are the real meat of the playlist. The most important line is #2; the goal of the playlist is to play "fresh" music, not the stuff I have been listening to over and over again in my hand built playlist. I feel that ten days is a good cut off and keeps the music cycling fairly well. Lines #3 and #4 eliminated audio books, interviews not marked as podcasts, whole albums ripped as one "song," and short segments like those on some soundtracks (e.g. Steven Wright's segments on the Reservoir Dogs Soundtrack). I chose thirty-five minutes as the upper cutoff because I have some songs, like The Box and In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida, that exceed normal song lengths. Line #5 just makes sure no stray podcasts get added to the list (I don't listen to any anymore, but some are still in my library). Line #6 eliminates some live bootlegs that I have from making the list. I don't typically listen to the bootlegs because of the poor ... (view rest)
Wednesday, 18 January 2006, 09:26:28 EDT
I haven't been very lively lately. A particular R.E.M. song sort of gets my recent mood; it is more extreme than my actual mood but it is similar. Any way, that is the reason there haven't been any posts recently — apathy. That is also why I haven't finished my gallery script. I got to the point where I need to parse sub-albums and just haven't felt like writing the code to do it. Plus, classes have started and the ones I am taking are not easy and are very time consuming.
Having said that bunch of garbage, I have a small rant to vent in Hewlett-Packard's general direction. I don't have a scanner, so I use one that is available in Student Software Support Services on campus. It is an HP ScanJet. Since it is a USB scanner I just plug it into my laptop and scan directly to my computer. Well, the scanner, being an HP product, isn't so simple to use where that is all I have to do to use it. I had to download a 50MB driver package, which comes with way more software than anyone needs, just to be able to scan with the scanner. I've had this stuff installed on my computer for a couple semesters now because I like to scan in my graded assignments and tests for future reference. That way I don't have to keep stacks and stacks of paper. When I first installed the software, it placed an application in my dock that automatically started every time I logged in. I quickly got rid of that; I don't want crap software starting up that I use only occasionally.
Thinking I was done with that, I went on my merry computing way until I need to track down a rogue process and noticed that the damn thing was still running on start up! It seems that HP really wants their "HP ScanJet Manager" to run all the time after it is installed. Evidently, the application just waits for buttons to be pressed on the scanner so it can intercept their signals and do fancy "one button scan" garbage. As I write this, it is using almost 7% of my processor's time to do absolutely nothing. In other words, HP installed a constant battery drainer on my computer. I finally got fed up enough with this program today to track down how I can prevent it from starting. There are a lot of old posts, one or two years old, on the internet that say to remove it from either a) "/Library/StartupItems" (which I didn't know existed) or b) your user profile startup items under system preferences. If the application were installed in "/Library/StartupItems" I would be able to delete it from that location and all would be well. If it were in my user profile, it would be as simple as highlighting the entry and clicking a remove button. Neither is the case.
Some time in the past couple of years (so it seems), Hewlett-Packard got crafty. They found an API called AutoLaunchedApplicationDictionary in Apple's Core Foundation classes. How did I figure this out? It wasn't too simple. There is no information, that I have been able to find, on the internet about this. First, I had to find the "HP ScanJet Manager" application since it isn't installed in a typical "startup location". Spotlight to the rescue! Using Spotlight from a finder window, I was able to find the application in "/Library/Application Support/Hewlett-Packard/HP Scanjet/Scanner". This directory contains three files: the offending program, an XML data file, and an application to install the offending program to the system startup items. Using ... (view rest)
Friday, 16 December 2005, 12:52:55 EDT
I really don't like Gallery. I used the first version a long time ago but got frustrated with it and wrote my own. Since they finished the second version, and I haven't had a chance to rewrite mine, I decided to give it another shot. It was working fine, and I even had a plugin for iPhoto that allowed me to upload photos from iPhoto directly to my photo gallery. Then it stopped working. I tried to upload my Thanksgiving photos the day after Thanksgiving and the exporter would stop uploading after the first picture and give an error that it uploaded zero pictures. If I went to the website, I could see the album I created with the exporter, browse to it, and see the first photo; repeated for every vain attempt I made at uploading the pictures. Sure, maybe it is a problem with the exporter and not the gallery software. That doesn't change the fact that Gallery sucks. It is a pain to keep maintained (the authors evidently don't know how to write decent code) and the administration interface is confusing. I would really like to be able to post pictures in a browseable manner but it looks like I will have to write the code myself. I have done some minimal searching and come across a couple other packages but none that strike me; Zenphoto came close but it is still too early in development. If I am going to use half baked software I might as well use my own. Maybe I wi ... (view rest)
Friday, 02 December 2005, 14:46:16 EDT
I just bought two books for the two courses I am taking next semester. Both used. On of them listed as being in "acceptable" condition. What did I pay? Oh, only $138.45. Isn't that awesome? One of the is 384 pages. What a bargain! If it weren't for Campus-i I would have spent three times that much in the campus book store (fuckers). Oh well, such is the rising cost of education. At least next semester I will finally be a junior and that much closer to graduation.
With that out of the way, let's talk about another gadget. My previous post was a lead-in for this one. Well, not the books part; I just ordered those and wanted to go ahead and complain. It was a lead-in for a review of Kinsington's Digital FM Transmitter for the iPod. I bought one of these about three weeks ago because I wanted to be able to listen to my iPod in my truck. I was going to hold off on getting one for a while but I decided that I was too sick of the radio and bought one earlier than I should have. I knew that this is the one I wanted because I read a couple reviews about it that gave it a thumbs up over any other available FM transmitter. One of these reviews said "good enough for car listening." I'm not sure what "good enough" is to that guy but I'm not sure I agree with him.
Before I get to that, though, I would like to cover some of the details about the transmitter. The name seems to imply that the device will broadcast music from an iPod with a digital signal. This is merely marketing. The "digital" aspect of the device is the digital display and tuner. Kensington makes another FM tuner that has three buttons and can only broadcast to three different channels. The "digital" transmitter can tune to a wide spectrum of FM frequencies; it can also store up to three favorite frequencies for quick access. I would not recommend going for the cheaper "non-digital" version of this product. Particularly if you live in an area with a cluttered FM band (e.g. the metro Atlanta area). The transmitter is not very strong and you will have to find a frequency that is not being used by radio station. In fact, you will want to find a frequency that is fairly isolated. If you are able to tune a step away from a station and still sort of pick it up then you will get really crappy quality from this transmitter, if any at all. There is probably a lot of mathematics about it that I don't know, but it seems there are specific frequencies that are really good for broadcasting a signal. Of course, almost all of the frequencies are being used by the radio stations. There seems to be a nationwide frequency, 87.9, that is reserved for things such as this transmitter but the transmitter won't tune to that frequency without using a trick. You can hold the second and third preset buttons and tune to any frequency in the 87 band but you can't set them to one of the preset buttons and the transmitter will conveniently forget about being tuned to one of those frequencies when you turn your vehicle off. The lowest station my radio will tune to is 87.9, and the transmitter is super clear over that frequency, but I can't use it — awesome. I did manage to find a frequency that works fairly well though. I can tune to 89.1 and get a decent, mostly static free, transmission. One thing that helped was figuring out that the cord from the transmitter to the iPod acts as an antenna. So you have to play with the physical positioning of your iPod, as well as the station you are broadcasting to, in order to get a good signal.
Thus bringing me to the "good enough" comment. The signal coming from the transmitter has the quality of an audio cassette without the hiss. Sounds are a bit muted and if you are not listening to a high bitrate audio file it is almost impossible to hear over road noise. I suppose if you don't h ... (view rest)
Monday, 14 March 2005, 20:57:02 EDT
Today, after work, I went by Best Buy to pick up a specific item. After I found the item was there to buy I decided, against all better judgement, to look around for bit. I looked through the computer section, of course, and learned they are starting to try to cater to the hobbyist now; it seems that Best Buy is now selling miscellaneous parts like motherboards, cases, cooling fans, and even thermal paste. All I can recall them having are ABIT boards but I think they had at least one other brand. I suppose it is good that they carry ABIT and not some cheap-o brand. Any way, that isn't the section of the store that I shouldn't have gone in to. No, that section is too high priced for me and there is no way I was going to buy anything from there. The dangerous section turned out to be the video games section. As I was browsing the Playstation 2 section I found Midway Arcade Treasures priced at $10.00.
Usually when I see one of these retro game packs I shrug and continue on my merry way. This one, however, contains two games that I absolutely love: Marble Madness and Klax. I spent a lot of time playing Marble Madness on my NES; I'm not sure but I think I actually beat the game without the use of a Game Genie. Marble Madness is quite possibly one of the hardest games ever made and I certainly enjoyed the challenge. Klax, though, is in a class of its own. I only played the game a couple of times at the Unio ... (view rest)
Tuesday, 01 February 2005, 11:50:43 EDT
I touched up my friends links and my general links. Instead of the friends links pulling from the database and tracking clicks, they are now just standard links. For some reason the old page would randomly decide to not send you to the link but instead send you right back to itself. I have no idea why and don't really care to figure it out. As for the general links, I never really read two of the three "Daily Web Journal" links so I replaced that section with something a bit more interesting — mathematics links! I hope to add more links to the list as I come across more sites that impart mathmatical information in a way that is either intriguing or easy to understand. When I get stuck on a math problem I turn to Google and usually find something to point me in the right direction.
This past weekend I learned why I am not very excited about publicly available wireless access. It is a lovely dream, take your laptop to some location other than your house or work and actually be able to browse the internet and do other online things. What is my problem with it? If you don't live a major city, and I mean really live in it and not just say you do like everyone who lives "in Atlanta," then your possibilities of getting wireless access outside of the home or office are very slim. Sunday, I came to the conclusion that my apartment might be without electricity until some time during the week. So, I dragged my roommate around two towns looking for internet access so that I could do something other than walk around stores. We first tried Barnes & Noble in Morrow; I knew that wasn't going to work but I figured we would at least give it a shot since it would have been a comfortable environment. After sniffing out the SSID I connected to the network and proceeded to try and browse the web. What happened? I was greeted with a page asking for my username and password to Freedomlink with every web page I tried to visit. So now I have another reason to hate the yuppie bookstore — they charge for a service that other people provide for free to attract business. Good job BN!
There is no way I am going to pay $3.95 for internet access for two hours so we went over to the Dunkin' Donuts in Morrow. I got a donut and some juice and sat down to use the wireless. After I figured out the SSID I fired up GAIM to test out the connection. One of the instant message protocols connected and the rest hung up. After determining that I could ping the wireless router but all traffic was stopping there I talked with the people behind the counter. It seems they had just got on the phone with their tech people about a problem with their computer. Great. That was two down.
After Dunkin' Donuts we drove by campus to see if it was open. Sadly, public safety still had all the entrances blocked off. So, I continued on my quest to find internet access "in the wild" so to speak. There was one ... (view rest)
Tuesday, 21 September 2004, 14:16:45 EDT
Sony needs to quit making shiny toys. They make it hard for me to actually save money for something like a new car. Just today they unveiled their new PSTwo. It is a revision of the (gaming) world dominating Playstation 2. This new version is so sleek and small I can't help but to desire one. Why? I don't know. I already have a PS2 that functions just fine. I guess I just like to have the shiny new stuff. Of course, I will not be buying this gadget; as I said, I want a new car and will not be buying frivolous toys like this. The only toy I can forsee myself buying any time soon is the parts I need for a MythTV box.
MythTV is really nifty and I have been wanting to build a box for a couple of years now. Recently I decided to see what the current feature set is and was surprised to learn that it can now act as an emulator frontend. That did it for me; I must now build the machine.
The true goal of MythTV is to function as a PVR like a TiVO without having to pay a subscription fee. The cool thing about it is it is a community developed package and, as such, has many more features. I don't have cable and my television doesn't get an air signal so the TiVO capability is not useful to me at this time. What I could do, however, is use it to watch the television shows I download without having to sit in front of my computer monitor.
In fact, I just ... (view rest)
Thursday, 01 July 2004, 23:11:40 EDT
I will start of this month with an über-geek post. If you have no interest in shell scripts or mail servers you should just quit reading now :)
Earlier today, my friend Jason sent me a message saying he needed an email account. Well, I just happen to run my own mail server so I decided to reconfigure it so that people other than me can use it. But, I don't want just anyone using it to spam the world so I needed to secure it as best I could. I settled on replacing my current installation of Exim with Exim-tls. This allowed me to set up an encrypted SMTP AUTH system; since I am not an Exim guru I found a couple web pages to help me out. The first was excellent for setting up the TLS portion and the second clearly explained how to get Exim to authenticate through PAM. So, if someone wants to send email remotely through my machine they have to have a local account and their client must send STARTTLS after sending HELO.
Email wouldn't complete without being able to retrieve it from the remote server though now would it? I did a quick apt-search and came up with ipopd-ssl to serve as a POP3 server. It was a really straight forward setup and allowed me to choose the ports I wanted it to listen to. Since I was trying to make the email system as secure as possible I opted to only listen on port 995 via SSL.
After setting everything up I sent an email through the system and monitored it with Ethereal. Everything checked out well. After the STARTTLS command was sent nothing was sent across the line in plain text as a normal email would have been. So, mission successful.
... (view rest)
Tuesday, 22 June 2004, 22:38:36 EDT
I recently ordered an NEC ND-2500A DVD±RW drive and I must say that I love it. I would like to get a dual layer disc so that I can test if the flash upgrade I did added support for such discs but I have not found any single discs in stores yet; it should work but I don't have any way to test it at the moment. In the mean time, I have five DVD+RWs and am using them to decide how I want to use blank DVDs. Just burning 4.7GB to a disc is simple enough but I also want to be able to compose DVDs that will work in a stand alone player. This task is not so simple. Just doing it by hand with dvdauthor sounds like the best bet. It also sounds like a lot of fun. The only problem ... (view rest)
Thursday, 03 June 2004, 22:36:22 EDT
I dislike laptops. I generally find them to be slow and cumbersome. It is mostly the hard drives that tick me off because they lag really badly. I am used to being able to let an `apt-get upgrade` run in the background downloading and upacking new packages while I compile applications, like MPlayer, or just use the machine in general and that is not possible with every laptop I have ever used. But, today I find myself wanting something I never thought I would want — an Apple Powerbook. Last week I installed Windows XP in Virtual PC on a student's Powerbook 15". I was chatting with the guy and a friend of his, who evidently works where I do, about the machine and how it sucks that all the software written for textbooks and for use in school is written for Windows. The guy with the Powerbook loved the thing, he eschewed Windows and everything about it because he finds it cumbersome and does not like the applications written for it. While I loathe Windows as well, I expressed my ineptness with Macs and my preference for Debian.
Reading that you may be thinking to yourself, "So how does that relate to you wanting a Powerbook?" Well, read on.
Today I read an article written by an ex-Microsoft employee and later a weblog entry on his web site. This guy's enamoration with his Power Mac prompted me to reflect on my experience with the Powerbook last week. Their design is absolutely amazing; you would have to actually operate the lid on one to know why I am talking about but, the thing is structurally solid and operates better than any Dell or any other PC laptop I have ever used. The keyboard is a little light but I could get used to it. And the screen, oh man the screen is delicious. And, amazingly, the thing is light considering size of it; the 17" is only 6.9lbs and that is amazing. I could live with 6.9lbs when the screen is a wide 17". I would also like to give Mac OS X more of a chance. I have cursed it quite a bit at work trying to use the Mac we have there but I was t ... (view rest)
Tuesday, 16 March 2004, 00:27:24 EDT
As processors have become faster their fans have become exponentially louder. If you are like me you have a machine in your room that is on 24/7 and a loud processor fan can be quite annoying. I used to have a fan that spun at about 6500RPM and that thing was loud; I replaced it with a stock Pentium 4 heatsink and fan combination and the noise level is significantly lower but is still rather annoying. The fan is sensitive to processor temperature and will increase or decrease in speed depending on the processor work load and thus heat. When the processor is under heavy load I believe it is just as loud as the other fan which means if something starts tasking during the night it can, and some times does, wake me up. Needless to say I am tired of this scenario. I have come across another fan ... (view rest)
Thursday, 08 January 2004, 12:33:10 EDT
Texas Instruments is an evil corporation. The insist on making new calculators that I must add to my collection. How ca ... (view rest)
Tuesday, 16 December 2003, 14:13:00 EDT
Lots of stuff today.
Sunday I went to see The Last Samurai with my mother. This movie is intensely better than I thought it would be; I say "intesely" because I think it is a rather intense movie. The movie has a very good story associated with it and Tom Cruise does a heckuva lot better job acting in this movie than he has in any other movie. I think the aspect of the movie I like the most is the poignant way it depicts why guns are dishonorable in battle. To tell the truth, the last ten minutes of the movie kept a lump in my throat that would not go away until credits rolled.
I would have posted this "review" last night but the phone lines in my area were jacked up ... (view rest)
Sunday, 23 November 2003, 11:35:19 EDT
I was wandering around Best Buy yesterday trying to convince myself not to buy Need For Speed: Underground and I ended up going through the removable storage section. I don't know why but I really really want one of these: Plextor 708A. I don't even burn man ... (view rest)
Friday, 03 October 2003, 22:35:35 EDT
Do you use USB 2.0 products? Are you sure that you are really using it to its full potential? Read this ... (view rest)
Wednesday, 17 September 2003, 18:17:01 EDT
Jef Raskin, evidently a big Apple fan, has posted a pretty good rant about Integrated Development Environments. I don't really see what his issue is. I don't use an IDE and I am perfectly happy. I do all of my coding in ... (view rest)
Wednesday, 17 September 2003, 00:39:42 EDT
It seems the Orson Scott Card, the novelist, has some rather insightful remarks about the RIAA suing everyone in the nation.
I decided to install Litestep on my Windows machine again today. I perused LSThemes until I found this really cool theme called ... (view rest)