Archive for August, 2007

Saying goodbye to old computers.

August 28, 2007

I’m giving away my old Pentium 4.  Right now I’m pulling all the data off the 120 gig drive I’m putting in it for it’s new owner.  The bios is so old in this thing, I don’t even think it will take a 250 GB drive.  I don’t have any Microsoft licenses that I’m not using right now (the win2k that was on this box is going on another one here).  So the new owner gets to play with Ubuntu.  I don’t know what the level of sophistication will be, but I’ll get everything working ahead of time as much as possible.  I’m told that people who don’t use computers much have a hard time telling Ubuntu apart from Windows.  That’s hard for me to believe.  I’m going to bundle in an old CRT monitor and an old printer too (if I can get it to work in Linux).  The whole thing should be ready for it’s new home by Friday.  Sigh.

Making Peace with AMD.

August 27, 2007
1 BIOSTAR GEFORCE 6100-M9 Socket 939 NVIDIA GeForce 6100 Micro ATX AMD Motherboard – Retail
Item #: N82E16813138269Standard Return Policy
1 AMD Athlon 64 X2 4200+ Toledo 2.2GHz Socket 939 Processor Model ADA4200DAA5CD – OEM
Item #: N82E16819103053Processors (CPUs) Return Policy
1 pqi POWER Series 1GB 184-Pin DDR SDRAM DDR 400 (PC 3200) Desktop Memory Model MD441GUOE – Retail
Item #: N82E16820141198Memory (Modules, USB) Return Policy
1 DISCOUNT FOR COMBO #49760 $-20.00
Subtotal $162.47

The above is from NewEgg and it signifies my re-entry into AMD’s universe. I had sworn off AMD on these pages in a quite angry fashion as two AMD boxes I had built 3 months apart died within 3 months of each other. But with the above purchase, I’m effectively getting a replacement box for an old P4 2.GHZ machine for under $200. Even if this setup only lasts a year, it will have been worth it.  Thanks to Ben’s Bargains for the tip.

Ok, AMD, let’s try to make it work.

Paper Memories

August 26, 2007

Often, no matter what I’m doing, I’ll get an idea that I want to remember later.  Later can be a Sunday afternoon, for example, when I have some time to myself.  My memory is good for things like that.  I like to think it’s because I saturate my mind with more input than it can store.  More likely, it’s because I’m 41, not 21.

In any event, I’ve tried many different ways to keep track of these ideas.  I’ve had my share of PDAs, but only the original Palm III worked for me.  When I abandoned that for a Windows CE device, it wasn’t the same.  Ultimately, and for several years, I went old school.  I kept a small pad of paper with me and used one 4×6 ish sheet of paper to write down thoughts I thought were worthwhile.  This led to keeping close to a thousand of these little palimpsests around.  Romantic, but inefficient.

A few months ago, I picked up a personal laptop that I take with me practically everywhere.  I have Open Office on it and I thought I would try getting away from my little slips of paper and just keeping my thoughts in a word processing file that I could edit as necessary.  Now I realize that some PDAs do something similar, but for whatever reason, my undisciplined brain never liked the way the PDAs handled it.  Amazingly, this simple word processing file has kicked the paper method to the curb.

I still keep an college ruled notebook on my desk at home for jotting things down, but the laptop handles the 4 page to do/ reminder list quite nicely.  It also handles my iTunes stuff and gives me email wherever I go.  Perfect.  For now, anyway.

Friday Night Party Line Episode 15 is up.

August 25, 2007

After more than a year’s hiatus, the show is back as promised.

Here are the topics for Episode 15:

–A quick down and dirty explanation of the sub-prime lending mess in the U.S.

–Is geography important?  I know a woman who, when she finished school, moved to the city where she wanted to live and waited tables until she found a job in her field.  Most people normally do the opposite:  the job dictates where you live.  Does it matter?  (9:16)

–There’s a video about a guy who collects apple computers: Are you this way about anything?  C’mon, you’ve really got 400 GI Joes, don’t you? (20:06)

–Home theater:  where do you stand now, what do you want to get, what do you recommend.  What did you pick Blu-Ray or HD DVD? (30:57)

–Modeling human behavior has become more advanced.  There’s a huge market for being able to predict human response to a given stimulus from a military, corporate and political perspective.  How far do you think we are really and how far do you think this technology will go? (45:02)

–We used to talk about futurism a fare amount on this show.  What signs do you see that indicate major technological progress in our society?  Do you think we’ll have a singularity event by 2020?  2050? Ever? (51:37)

–Editing podcasts:  a primer.  (1:01:12)

Special thanks to David, Nathan and Scott for making our first show back a heck of a lot of fun!

Subscribe via Apple iTunes.

PS3 Movies

August 20, 2007

PS3 Movies

Originally uploaded by Thaed 3

I had blogged on July 15th that I sent in for 5 free Blu-Ray disks after buying my PS3. Today, I received them via regular mail. They arrived wrapped and in new condition (as seen here). I don’t know when I’ll get around to watching any of them, but if nothing else I can put them on eBay.

Over 40 Gamer Episode 6 is up.

August 19, 2007

Lots of podcasting stuff this weekend. Is there a season for podcasting? On this episode of OFG, I talk about the upcoming patch to Overlord for the 360; my ongoing experiences with Resident Evil 4; the recent mod chip raid; PSP desires; the Bioshock demo; Heavenly Sword haters; The Guild; Puzzle Quest and Real Life as a game. There’s also a bit of a rant against iMacs in there.

After I did the show, I don’t think I spent enough time talking about The Guild. I’m not a huge fan of internet tv shows, but I actually subscribed to this one’s newsletter. I’m impressed by how spot on the game related humor is. I think it’s so good because the star writes the show. She’s clearly brilliant. Math genius, musician, actress and ballerina? My goodness! But then I’m always all aflutter for the polymaths. You can tell she’s worked with Joss Whedon. The humor is similar.

The Return of Friday Night Party Line?

August 18, 2007

Last year, this podcast went on hiatus because my real life (if there is such a thing) intruded. I was producing this show weekly and enjoying it. It had a small audience and everyone involved seemed to have a good time doing it.

Now, more than a year after the show podfaded, I’ve been thinking about bring it back. I was on a forum the other day and a guy with the screen name of Kilarney told me that FNPL was one of his favorites. This made me log into my long-unused FNPL account on libsyn that I’ve kept open. I was very surprised with what I saw. It turns out that the show is getting far, far more traffic now than it did when it was being produced! The listener numbers are surprisingly high for this type of show.

As I look at real life right now, I’m thinking there might be some room to bring FNPL back. There would be some differences: I’m thinking monthly or twice a month. I don’t want to commit to weekly right now. I want to ease back into it.

I’ve been in contact with a couple of my former co-hosts and I plan on talking to some others. Others still, sadly, in the last year I’ve lost contact with. If anyone who ever appeared on FNPL happens to see this and wants to be on again, leave a comment or send me an email. I think we’re going to record on 8/24.

Robots and Rocketry

August 7, 2007

When I was a teenager, I went through a model rocketry phase.  I spent a lot of paper route money on Estes kits, engines and paint.  Model rocketry is a great hobby for a nerdy kid.  This peaked out for me around 14 years old.  Then that was it.  I never touched another one.  Other people, I suppose, continue with the hobby into adulthood.  I’ve read that with the right permits, you can build some amazing stuff.  However, none of it is ever going to launch a satellite.  That’s why it stopped being satisfying to me.  It wasn’t an end in itself.  It just became a fancy way to burn money and time.

Robotics is somewhat similar, at least as it stands today.  I’m still very intrigued by Robots and I read Robot Magazine.  However, the kits that you can buy (and some of them are expensive) give you what amounts to an expensive toy.  You can buy completed robots that will do things like clean your carpets and I’ve recounted my experiences with the Scooba here before.  Robots that help you with your day have huge value.  I lose interest in dancing robots that don’t do much else pretty quickly.  Again, as a hobby, robotics is unsatisfying because the robots you build don’t do anything meaningful.

So am I ready to turn in my geek card?  Not at all!  I’m still a computer freak.  But I can justify that interest.  Computers do stuff.  In fact, I use computers constantly.  A computer is more important to me than my car.  (Although my car is part computer and part robot).

Another geeky hobby that doesn’t quite fit the mold here is Lego.  I build Lego projects with my kids.  They enjoy it and I don’t mind it so much either.  But you might chide me and say:  “Well, the Lego dragon you’re building doesn’t do anything productive either!”  It does sound like I’m being inconsistent.  I think it helps show kids how to focus though and when you’re done, you’ve got a toy you can play with or take apart and build something else with.  Also, compared to rocketry and robots, Lego is cheap.  I dunno.  I guess I’m still working this out in my head.  You know Lego has a robot kit…

Book Review: Soon I will be Invincible by Austin Grossman.

August 5, 2007

I didn’t know what to expect when I picked up Austin Grossman’sSoon I Will Be Invincible.” Would it be a tongue in cheek superhero book? Would it be played straight like a comic book or a graphic novel? There are so many ways to mess something like this up. Anyone who has read fan fiction or books written in an established science fiction universe knows this. What I got was a balance of humor and action that fits in the comic book genre the same way “The Watchmen” does. In fact, while it is not a graphic novel like Watchmen, it might just be better. It is a comic book novel for adults that’s both well written and entertaining.

The narrative is first person from a super villain (“Doctor Impossible”) (who has a lot of Lex Luthor in him) and from a neophyte cyborg-gal (“Fatale”) on the hero team. There is so much back story that is told rather than shown, one imagines that Grossman has built an entire comic book universe in his head. You can also tell that he has studied books. There are many subtle (and perhaps no so subtle) references to English literature. In one minor plot line we hear about a story that sounds an awful lot like “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” and we have a main character who is a fairy, formerly in the service of Titania. Lewis and Shakespeare (and Dante later) are good company to keep.

The plot is essentially straightforward, although the allusions and back stories add a lot of intrigue. Doctor Impossible’s purpose in life is to try to take over the world. The book recounts his latest attempt. Mind you, these are not Pinky and the Brain escapades. Doctor I is the 4th most dangerous man in the world! The New Champions are out to stop him.

One of my favorite lines in the book occurs when Doctor Impossible meets up with an informal gathering of other non-heroes. He describes them as: “Losers and geniuses and Olympic-class athletes, with nothing much in common except the preference above all else to reign in his or her personal hell.” Haven’t we all been there?

All of the characters evoke some level of sympathy. The heroes and villains are deliberately close in terms of morality. At least twice, the villains even accidentally save the world. One of the chapter titles illustrates this: “Maybe We Are Not So Different, You and I.” In fact, all of the chapter titles are a send up of expressions associated with the comic book mythos.

I enjoyed this book. I hope Grossman writes a sequel or if not that, another book set in his universe. If you have any geeky tendencies at all or if you read comic books in your youth, you’ll want to pick this up. If you’re a Hollywood producer, given the popularity of comic book movies these days, you’ll want to buy the rights.