2004-12-20

Codejack's really hot chili

From kuro5hin.org, a customizable and yummy chili recipe.

Let's start with some ingredients:
  • 1 lb. ground beef, 85-90% lean; Too much fat will make the chili greasy, while too little is bad, too.
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced; You can also use white onion, but under no circumstances should you use red or vidalia.
  • 1 can each light red kidney beans and dark red kidney beans.
  • 2 cans diced tomatoes; If you can find them with peppers and chiles, skip the next three items.
  • 2 habanero peppers, finely diced.
  • 2 jalapeno peppers, finely diced.
  • 3 green chiles, diced.
  • 1 can tomato paste.
  • 2 Tbsp chile powder.
  • 1 tsp salt.
  • 1 Tbsp pepper.
  • 2 cups (or more) water.
Combine beans, tomatoes, peppers, chiles, tomato paste, half the chile powder and water in a 3 qt. sauce pan. Stir, cover, and simmer on low/medium heat for 30 minutes to an hour, stirring occasionally.

Cook beef over high heat until brown and drain. Add onion and return to heat. Cook until onion is just translucent and remove from heat. Lightly season with salt, pepper, and chile powder.

Add meat and onions to sauce pan, stir, and let simmer for 3-4 hours, adding water and stirring occasionally. About hour two, add the rest of the chile powder and pepper. For best results, remove from heat, let cool, and refrigerate overnight, then reheat the next day.

Now, this will not be the hottest chili in the world, but it's pretty hot, and I have found that if you get much spicier, it starts to interfere with flavor. If you want less spice, remove 1 each of the habanero and jalapeno peppers. If you want more spice, go find the dreaded Peruvian Death Pepper or the Aji Pinguita de Mono (literally "little monkey dick"), and add them. Compare the spices of different peppers and chiles on The Scoville Scale.
I tend to go a little on the less-spicy side, especially as my cast-iron stomach lining has deteriorated from my high-school days... just can't handle the heat anymore...

Anarchy Online tries free model

Huh, well dig this. According to the release:

To qualify for the offer, gamers need only register an AO account with Funcom before January 15. After registration, gamers will have free access to the game until 2006. Those already registered with Funcom need only reregister to qualify for free play. Credit cards are no longer necessary to register.
Story also covered at Ars Technica:
An article at Gamnespot.com tipped me off this morning that Anarchy Online is remodeling itself to run for free. Yes indeed, Funcom has eliminated all fees associated with the game until the year 2006. I suppose this is a recruitment drive with hopes that long-time subscribers will be hooked and remain as paying members when the monthly fees are reinstated. If you like MMORPGs, then this is your chance to check out Anarchy Online for free. Note: This is for the original game version sans any expansion packs.
I've always wondered about the whole MMORPG scene. I tried Evercrack out but it just didn't work well over dial-up, and I just can't justify spending more money per month to play a game. But, since the AO game itself is available as a free download, this might be worth the effort to try out...

Lifetimetv.com: Breast Cancer - Stop Drive-Through Mastectomies

This comes from the desk of my wife, Donna.
Hi everyone! Hope you are getting ready for Christmas and enjoying your time with your families. I just received this link below, and would appreciate it if everyone would take about 2 minutes- not much at all- and go the Lifetime website and sign this petition. It is to convince Congress that they need to pass a bill to stop the "drive-thru mastectomy". As some of you know, when I had my partial mastectomy, I had to come home the same day, with a drain tube sticking out of my side. I was in no way recovered, and yet my Mom, husband, and sister had to take care of me, measure and empty the drain tube for days, as well as try to remove my bandages from surgery- I had my breast partially removed as well as all the lymph nodes under my arm (two surgery spots) and my Mom had to clean the wounds and put new ones bandages me. This was horribly painful and very difficult to do in a home, when it could have all been done easily in a hospital by trained nurses. I don't like to dwell on things like this, but I would like to impress upon everyone that this was major, painful surgery, and mine was not as bad as some. They should make you stay in the hospital, and that's what this bill they're trying to pass would do. So please take a minute or two and sign your name to help stop what so many women, myself included have been through. We can'at stop the cancer-yet- but we can help make the removal safer and easier! I've got the link below to go right to the page you need. Thanks!

Please have a great holiday!
Love,
Donna

http://www.lifetimetv.com/reallife/bc/pledges/bc_mast_pledge.html

2004-12-01

Merry Xmas to me...

710TSAMSUNG SyncMaster 710T-Black 17" LCD Monitor

Specifications:
Panel Type: a-si TFT/TN LCD
Native Resolution: 1280 x 1024
Pixel Pitch: 0.264 mm
Brightness: 300 cd/m2
Contrast Ratio: 600:1
Response Time: 12 ms
View Angle: 160° / 160° (Horizontal / Vertical)
Input Connectors: 15pin D-Sub, DVI-D
Features: Narrow Bezel, MagicBright
Dimensions & Weight: 14.6" x 16.0" x 7.5" (WxHxD), 12.8 lbs

2004-11-17

The Firemonger Project

The Firemonger Project: Help spread Firefox. Download this CD, burn it and give it to your friends and family.

The Firemonger project is dedicated to providing an easy to use CD which contains the latest versions of Firefox™ and Thunderbird™, the web browser and email client created by the Mozilla Foundation. In addition to these amazing products, we've added a selection of plugins, extensions and themes. In other words, this CD contains everything you need to get started with Firefox and Thunderbird. Welcome to the revolution!

So get downloading already!!!


Tourist's Guide To Driving Around Washington D.C.

This is great, a tourist's guide to driving around our fair capital, from kuro5hin.org. Definitely worth the read if you live or commute in the area like myself.

"The DC road grid was laid out by a Frenchman, which explains why locals hate the French, and also explains much about US Foriegn Policy. Within DC proper, the roads are laid out in a grid, with other streets crossing the grid at weird angles, usually through a traffic circle. No one in DC knows how to drive in a traffic circle, and people from the surburbs are worse. Many streets are one way, and making a left turn can require travelling three or four blocks out of your way. Right turns are worse. Right turn on red is allowed, except at intersections that are posted otherwise.

Most intersections are posted otherwise.

Also, within DC we take security seriously! Primarily by shutting down major roads and intersections for no discernable reason.

If your road map of Montgomery County MD is more than a few weeks old, throw it out and buy a new one, it's obsolete. If in Loudon or Fairfax County in Va, and your map is one day old, it's already obsolete."

2004-11-09

New Speed Test

Just ran a new speed test from BroadbandReports. Right up there with my rated 768/128 speed for a change.
2004-11-09 21:17:52 EST: 691 / 131
Your download speed : 707700 bps, or 691 kbps.
A 86.3 KB/sec transfer rate.
Your upload speed : 135125 bps, or 131 kbps.


Evidence Mounts That The Vote May Have Been Hacked

Is it conspiracy theory or is there really something going on here?

When I spoke with Jeff Fisher this morning (Saturday, November 06, 2004), the Democratic candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives from Florida's 16th District said he was waiting for the FBI to show up. Fisher has evidence, he says, not only that the Florida election was hacked, but of who hacked it and how. And not just this year, he said, but that these same people had previously hacked the Democratic primary race in 2002 so that Jeb Bush would not have to run against Janet Reno, who presented a real threat to Jeb, but instead against Bill McBride, who Jeb beat.
What makes this so intriguing is the whole discrepancy between the votes cast and the exit polls, which should be a far better indicator of actual results...
The State of Florida, for example, publishes a county-by-county record of votes cast and people registered to vote by party affiliation. Net denizen Kathy Dopp compiled the official state information into a table, available at http://ustogether.org/Florida_Election.htm, and noticed something startling.

While the heavily scrutinized touch-screen voting machines seemed to produce results in which the registered Democrat/Republican ratios largely matched the Kerry/Bush vote, in Florida's counties using results from optically scanned paper ballots - fed into a central tabulator PC and thus vulnerable to hacking – the results seem to contain substantial anomalies.

In Baker County, for example, with 12,887 registered voters, 69.3% of them Democrats and 24.3% of them Republicans, the vote was only 2,180 for Kerry and 7,738 for Bush, the opposite of what is seen everywhere else in the country where registered Democrats largely voted for Kerry.

In Dixie County, with 9,676 registered voters, 77.5% of them Democrats and a mere 15% registered as Republicans, only 1,959 people voted for Kerry, but 4,433 voted for Bush.

The pattern repeats over and over again - but only in the counties where optical scanners were used. Franklin County, 77.3% registered Democrats, went 58.5% for Bush. Holmes County, 72.7% registered Democrats, went 77.25% for Bush.

...

Others offer similar insights, based on other data. A professor at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, noted that in Florida the vote to raise the minimum wage was approved by 72%, although Kerry got 48%. "The correlation between voting for the minimum wage increase and voting for Kerry isn't likely to be perfect," he noted, "but one would normally expect that the gap - of 1.5 million votes - to be far smaller than it was."

I'm still mulling this over, but the discrepancy between the exit polls and the actual tabulated votes, particularly in the counties using the Diebold systems, looks rather incriminating... even more is the fact that the mainstream media seems to be glossing this over so far...

17 Reasons Not to Slit Your Wrists...by Michael Moore

Ok, it sucks. Really sucks. But before you go and cash it all in, let's, in the words of Monty Python, 'always look on the bright side of life!' There IS some good news from Tuesday's election.
Here are 17 reasons not to slit your wrists:

1. It is against the law for George W. Bush to run for president again.
2. Bush's victory was the NARROWEST win for a sitting president since Woodrow Wilson in 1916.
3. The only age group in which the majority voted for Kerry was young adults (Kerry: 54%, Bush: 44%), proving once again that your parents are always wrong and you should never listen to them.
4. In spite of Bush's win, the majority of Americans still think the country is headed in the wrong direction (56%), think the war wasn't worth fighting (51%), and don't approve of the job George W. Bush is doing (52%). (Note to foreigners: Don't try to figure this one out. It's an American thing, like Pop Tarts.)
5. The Republicans will not have a filibuster-proof 60-seat majority in the Senate. If the Democrats do their job, Bush won't be able to pack the Supreme Court with right-wing ideologues. Did I say "if the Democrats do their job?" Um, maybe better to scratch this one.
6. Michigan voted for Kerry! So did the entire Northeast, the birthplace of our democracy. So did 6 of the 8 Great Lakes States. And the whole West Coast! Plus Hawaii. Ok, that's a start. We've got most of the fresh water, all of Broadway, and Mt. St. Helens. We can dehydrate them or bury them in lava. And no more show tunes!
7. Once again we are reminded that the buckeye is a nut, and not just any old nut -- a poisonous nut. A great nation was felled by a poisonous nut. May Ohio State pay dearly this Saturday when it faces Michigan.
8. 88% of Bush's support came from white voters. In 50 years, America will no longer have a white majority. Hey, 50 years isn't such a long time! If you're ten years old and reading this, your golden years will be truly golden and you will be well cared for in your old age.
9. Gays, thanks to the ballot measures passed on Tuesday, cannot get married in 11 new states. Thank God. Just think of all those wedding gifts we won't have to buy now.
10. Five more African Americans were elected as members of Congress, including the return of Cynthia McKinney of Georgia. It's always good to have more blacks in there fighting for us and doing the job our candidates can't.
11. The CEO of Coors was defeated for Senate in Colorado. Drink up!
12. Admit it: We like the Bush twins and we don't want them to go away.
13. At the state legislative level, Democrats picked up a net of at least 3 chambers in Tuesday's elections. Of the 98 partisan-controlled state legislative chambers (house/assembly and senate), Democrats went into the 2004 elections in control of 44 chambers, Republicans controlled 53 chambers, and 1 chamber was tied. After Tuesday, Democrats now control 47 chambers, Republicans control 49 chambers, 1 chamber is tied and 1 chamber (Montana House) is still undecided.
14. Bush is now a lame duck president. He will have no greater moment than the one he's having this week. It's all downhill for him from here on out -- and, more significantly, he's just not going to want to do all the hard work that will be expected of him. It'll be like everyone's last month in 12th grade -- you've already made it, so it's party time! Perhaps he'll treat the next four years like a permanent Friday, spending even more time at the ranch or in Kennebunkport. And why shouldn't he? He's already proved his point, avenged his father and kicked our ass.
15. Should Bush decide to show up to work and take this country down a very dark road, it is also just as likely that either of the following two scenarios will happen: a) Now that he doesn't ever need to pander to the Christian conservatives again to get elected, someone may whisper in his ear that he should spend these last four years building "a legacy" so that history will render a kinder verdict on him and thus he will not push for too aggressive a right-wing agenda; or b) He will become so cocky and arrogant -- and thus, reckless -- that he will commit a blunder of such major proportions that even his own party will have to remove him from office.
16. There are nearly 300 million Americans -- 200 million of them of voting age. We only lost by three and a half million! That's not a landslide -- it means we're almost there. Imagine losing by 20 million. If you had 58 yards to go before you reached the goal line and then you barreled down 55 of those yards, would you stop on the three yard line, pick up the ball and go home crying -- especially when you get to start the next down on the three yard line? Of course not! Buck up! Have hope! More sports analogies are coming!!!
17. Finally and most importantly, over 55 million Americans voted for the candidate dubbed "The #1 Liberal in the Senate." That's more than the total number of voters who voted for either Reagan, Bush I, Clinton or Gore. Again, more people voted for Kerry than Reagan. If the media are looking for a trend it should be this -- that so many Americans were, for the first time since Kennedy, willing to vote for an out-and-out liberal. The country has always been filled with evangelicals -- that is not news. What IS news is that so many people have shifted toward a Massachusetts liberal. In fact, that's BIG news. Which means, don't expect the mainstream media, the ones who brought you the Iraq War, to ever report the real truth about November 2, 2004. In fact, it's better that they don't. We'll need the element of surprise in 2008.

Feeling better? I hope so. As my friend Mort wrote me yesterday, "My Romanian grandfather used to say to me, 'Remember, Morton, this is such a wonderful country -- it doesn't even need a president!'"

Yours,
Michael Moore
MMFlint@aol.com
www.michaelmoore.com



2004-11-04

George Walker Bush, Jr., Re-elected President of the United States

OK, so for those of inclined to be bitter, this has got to be the best article lead-in for yesterdays' results (kuro5hin.org):

Former alcoholic and functional illiterate George W. Bush has won re-election and will retain his office as 43th President of the United States of America, despite a proven inability to pronounce the word "nuclear".
The editorial as a whole is a good and entertaining read. Oh hell, it's not that long I'll just reprint the best parts.
George Bush ran with Dick Cheney, soulless oil-fired robot and current Vice President of the United States. Mr. Cheney's main qualifications include playing thermonuclear chicken with the USSR and inadvertently fathering a very confused lesbian.

The pair beat out Sen. John F. Kerry and his runningmate Sen. John Edwards through fear-mongering and the time-honored tradition of banking on American stupidity.

They presented a plan throughout three Presidential Debates and one Vice-Presidential Debate to build an America that is dominated by fear, owned by corporations, and loathed worldwide.

They believe the U.S. can have a stronger economy through the technique of giving the idle rich all the money, a health care plan based on the idea of not caring for anyone's health, an energy plan co-authored by the House of Saud, and a strong presence as the world's resented playground bully.
The comments, though, are interesting in themselves, especially this gem right at the top typifying (IMHO) the worldwide reaction to the election results [edited for spelling]:
I used to have sympathy for the American people, even whilst disagreeing with the policies of their government.

Now I have to face up to the sad reality that over fifty percent of Americans are superstitious, uneducated simpletons who have bought into a fantasy of fear fostered upon them by a government which realized that the only way to hold an electorate who believes in nothing, is by selling them the idea of a new boogey man.

You'd have thought the Cold War, with its over-hyped vision of the Russian Imperialist Threat (in reality a collapsing, ineffective political and economic system) would have rung some bells. But no... I guess people somehow enjoy being scared shitless.

I hope the other democracies in the world grow a spine and show the US that this globe is not theirs alone. If Bush wants 40bn more for the Iraq effort, he should be told to get it from its own people. You made your bed, now lie in it - filthy though it may be.

Just the thing I needed to uplift my day. I don't feel so alone anymore. LOL


2004-10-26

Star Wars: Battlefront Review [ArsTechnica]

Excellent review on ArsTechnica. I am really addicted to the multiplayer aspect of this game.

To start this review, I’m going to go into full disclosure mode and tell you that I’m a big Star Wars fan. I had the VHS originals, the rereleases, and I just bought the DVD box set. I’ve built Star Wars legos, and I actually enjoyed the New Jedi Order series of novels.
He make a really good point about the lack of headset/voice support in PC games. I don't have an XBox, but this feature makes me really thinking about getting one... It's diferent in a LAN Party, where you can converse with everyone in the room (well, a small party anyways) but it would be nice to easily access this feature with PC games. I have a headset with a mic on it, but I haven't the faintest idea how to work it.

2004-10-21

read this real fast

I cdnuolt blveiee taht I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd waht I was rdgnieg. The phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer inwaht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoatnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit a porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Amzanig huh? yaeh and I awlyas thought slpeling was ipmorantt!

2004-10-19

High-availability middleware on Linux, Part 1: Heartbeat and Apache Web server

Set up a heartbeat failover cluster that lets a good server pick up where a bad one leaves off, ensuring that your site is never down for long. Maintaining maximum system uptime is increasingly critical to the success of on demand computing. Unfortunately, many off-the-shelf solutions for high availability (HA) are expensive and require expertise.


Rage Against the Machine : Why Voting Doesn't Work and What You Can Do About It.

From kuro5hin.org:
"I was sitting in a bar listening to the presidential 'debate', thinking the same thought I always do when listening to politicians. Why must I choose between two people that I don't like? Since I live in New York, where Democrats usually win the electorate, should I even bother voting? Are my votes even counted?
It's always easy to blame the current President for the nation's current problems, and I'll admit that I'm often tempted to blame Bush. But the reality is that he is not to blame. The blame can be placed squarely on us, the citizens, and on our unwillingness to reform an outdated voting system."
Very interesting editorial piece, worth a read. Especially for the list of links at the end, I'll list them here:

Cheney Vows To Attack U.S. If Kerry Elected

Ya just gotta love The Onion. I don't read it nearly often enough, and with the sort of headlines gracing the front of news sites today, I should.

GREENSBORO, NC—In an announcement that has alarmed voters across the nation, Vice President Dick Cheney said Monday that he will personally attack the U.S. if Sen. John Kerry wins the next election.
"If the wrong man is elected in November, the nation will come under a devastating armed attack of an unimaginable magnitude, one planned and executed by none other than myself," Cheney said, speaking at a rally in Greensboro, NC. "When they go to the polls, Americans must weigh this fact and decide if our nation can ignore such a grave threat."

Don't fool with Swedish Girls of Gaming

CNN.com - Don't fool with Swedish Girls of Gaming - Oct 18, 2004:

"At first glance, Les Seules might look like an all-girl rock band -- complete with sassy attitudes and fawning male groupies -- but the Swedish septuplet doesn't play instruments. They play competitive video games.
'We want to show the rest of the world that guys and girls can play on the same level,' team member Louise Thomsen (code name: AurorA) told The Associated Press amid the geeky flurry on the floor of DigitalLife, a four-day technology and entertainment convention."

2004-10-08

Doom 3 Tweak Guide

Tweaking goodness: Doom 3 Tweak Guide

It’s back, it’s beautiful and it’s a system killer . . . that’s where we come in.
You know, sad to say, I still have not played it yet. Too many other fun games to mess with, including Star Wars: Battlefront.

Cable Rounding

Good article on cutting down on airflow restrictions within your case.

Cable Rounding: "Why are IDE and SCSI cables still flat? They're awkward and difficult to work with, look exceedingly ugly tangled up inside your systems, hamper cooling by obstructing airflow through the case, and make accessing other devices a nuisance."

2004-10-06

Protecting the Perimeter With OpenBSD

I haven't had the chance to play with OpenBSD yet, just its cousin FreeBSD. I like the BSD line of Unixes, they're just a different mindset from Linux and Solaris. It's been so long since I've touched FreeBSD I don't know if I could easily pick it up again. I need to get a test box set up at home so I can play with them.

In the Unix family, OpenBSD is akin to the crazy, paranoid uncle. Not necessarily in a bad way. OpenBSD is very particular about what it wants to accomplish, and it does this very well. That means security. OpenBSD is designed to be secure from the bottom up and from the top down. From the beginning, every line of code has been continually audited for flaws and vulnerabilities (this is an ongoing process since hackers are always developing new techniques). The initial install does not enable any system services that are not absolutely necessary for basic operation. Consequently, administrators must consciously enable features. And, without a warm and fuzzy GUI with which to do so, the idea is that admins better know what they are doing.


2004-09-22

The Paper Napkin email rejection service

Is there someone who won't leave you alone? Want to send a rejection by e-mail? Can do! Just give them your e-mail using a papernapkin.net address: The Paper Napkin email rejection service


How to Paint a Drive Bezel

Did you just get a new shiny black or bright red tower case but have old plain-jane beige drives? If you want your plain-jane beige drives out and brand new matching ones in don't rush out and get new drives, and don't bother with stick on plates. It's very simple to paint your current drive(s) to match. How to Paint a Drive Bezel.


2004-09-21

Libertarian Presidential Candidate Michael Badnarik [Slashdot]

Interesting interview with the above candidate. I thought this exerpt was the most thought-provoking personally.

When somebody you strongly dislike is running, it's very tempting to vote for the person who is more likely to win against them rather than the person whose views you agree with more.
What is your response to the people who say that a vote given to a third-party candidate is wasted and should have gone to one of the main two parties, if only to make sure that the "bad candidate" doesn't win?


If the "wasted vote" argument ever held any water, it doesn't any more. The two major parties have moved toward a weird, non-existent "center" for the last 50 years, to the point where it's difficult to tell them apart.
We could argue all day about whether Bush or Kerry is the "lesser evil." The fact is that they both support the war in Iraq. They both oppose gun rights. They both supported the PATRIOT Act. They both support the war on drugs. They both support confiscatory taxation. They both support ruinously high levels of spending, huge deficits and increasing debt.
It's hard to tell them apart on the real issues. They spend their time scrapping over "swing votes" in the gray area of the "center" -- which means, in practice, "how do I not make too many people too angry to vote for me?" That's no way to do politics. Politics, in my view, should be as unimportant as possible -- but where it's important, it has to value freedom, remain rooted in principle and be forward-looking.
All I can tell the "lesser of two evils" folks is that if they keep voting for evil, they'll keep getting evil. If you don't like the way things are, how do you change it by voting for more of the same?



How to rip from vinyl or tape [kuro5hin]

So, you have five hundred tapes and albums of the Beatles, Led Zeppelin, and the like, and want then on your computer? Well, you could spend hundreds of dollars replacing music you already paid for once with CDs. Or, instead of paying twenty bucks per album, you could spend twenty cents per album to convert your tapes and vinyl to CD and rip those. Read more for how.



Geek Horoscopes

BBspot - Random Geek Horoscopes

Need a new plan for the week? Not satisfied with the last horoscope you got? Try pulling a random horoscope from the BBspot Geek Horoscope Database (BGHDb) and if you're not happen you can always try again!



2004-09-09

Wicked Sick Case Mods

I just love that phrase... anyways, some really, really cool case mods here, finished and in progress:

Half-Life 2 Case Mod

DOOM 3: Project Mars City Mod

DOOM 3: Hell inside



2004-09-08

Server Nutrition

This is great!




Should Star Trek Die?

Great post in the thread, Should Star Trek Die? It's like the guy is reading my mind, I mean this is EXACTLY how I view the franchise currently:
Star Trek:
Western in space. Kinda campy but did have its moments. Very memorable characters. Fanbase: Big enough to get a few movies going after its cancellation. Noteworthy: The fans loved the show and movies enough to get an entire freakin' space shuttle renamed. Nae bad.

Star Trek: The Next Generation:
Pretty deep plots. Much deeper than much of what is shown on TV, which really doesn't say much. Very memorable characters. Very powerful episodes. (Remember the one where the crew find a probe and Picard spends a lifetime on a dieing planet?) Had many people who aren't fans of scifi watching. Noteworthy: Roddenberry died during this series.

Star Trek: Deep Space 9
Very deep storyline spanning many seasons. Characters not as memorable as those on TNG, but memorable none the less.

Star Trek: Voyager:
Unmemorable characters, superficial plots, enough gaps in the plot to make Spock have a stroke. The previously immortal and near unbeatable borg were made to look like a bunch of pussies in this. Time travel became more cliche than it previously was. It's crap, Jim.

Star Trek: Enterprise
New 'hip' series that shits on the pre-federation history laid out by the previous series and movies. Superficial. Unmemorable characters. Plots so shallow not even an infant could drown in them. Superficial. Tries to grab your attention with random semi-nudity. Predictable. Superficial. Theme song sucks. Superficial.

As somebody who used to be a HUGE Trek fan 10 years ago - good. The horse is laying in the middle of the field, four broken legs, broken ribs, and is oozing blood out of its ears. Just shoot it and get it over with. I hate seeing my childhood fave raped for ratings.
I haven't even seen the last Star Trek movie. I don't think I own any past VI.

Lanparty PC Carrying Harness : XaserBag

Just ordered one of these. Been looking for a carry harness for awhile now, and this one fits the bill. Good reviews, and only $18 at Newegg.



2004-09-03

Bumper Sticker

Saw a funny bumper sticker on my way in to work today: "Outsource Bush"

Actually, now that I think about it, that doesn't make much sense now does it? If we outsource him, that would mean a non-American would be president... or perhaps it was a subtle commentary on someone wholly dissatisfied with the current regime but disliking the alternative as well...

I'm not terribly open about my own political views. I'm very middle-of-the-road, with a liberal slant. I have some conservative views (gun control) and some liberal ones (birth control)... notice how issues tend to always be about control?

For the first few years of my voting life I was a solid Independent. Didn't really bother me not to vote in the primaries, I'll just choose from the final list thank you. And then after living in Virginia Beach, heartland of the Christian Coalition (thar be Pat Robertson country here, boy!) I was somewhat "driven" to the Democrat Party. So that's what I am now, but I don't consider that to be my voting identity - yes I can only vote in the Democratic primary but on the final ballot I try to vote on character and ideals, not by party line.

Now when "W" came to town, I knew he was an idiot. But I've usually thought of the Presidency as a figurehead position, the real power being those who pulled the puppet strings. Well, "W" seems to be the man in charge, and that scares the bloody hell out of me. Think about it: a man who started a war under false pretenses, when he really just wanted to finish what his daddy started. And if THAT doesn't wake you up at nights, try this: if "W" does something stupid like choke on a pretzel (LOL) then who's in charge? Yup, Mr. Halliburton himself, ole Dick Cheney.

So this election, I'm not really looking at the issues or the promises - they seem to be pretty much the same now, one party is practically indistinguishable from the other, the pre-election rants seem to consist of "I can do the job better than him!" So the main issue for me, is: Do I want the country run by Big Business?

And yes, the Democrat party is just as run by special interests, but they at least have to TRY to maintain the illusion otherwise.

My point? Bush is an idiot who's actually running the country. I'll take my chances with Kerry this year. Doubt he could do MUCH worse, anyways... why, oh why couldn't McCain be on the ballot...

2004-09-02

LAN Party this weekend

So this weekend is the monthly LAN party for friends from work, usually about 6 of us at a time but Matt is coming back in town, if we have everyone at once we could have 8 playing at once - w00t!

What irks me somewhat is that I will have to once again play the guilt-trip game with my wife. For some reason she begrudges me this time doing what I want. Personally, I don't find this very fair. I don't go out with the "guys" or anything, I'm home every evening (especially those where she is teaching her cake class or doing Scottish Country dancing) and I was fully supportive of her cake conference awhile back. I know, she does the cakes not just because she enjoys it but because it is also a job for her. Again, I've always been supportive, not just in words but in my own time helping her, cleaning up, taking care of the kids...

But she seems to have always done this. Most likely unconsciously. Back in college, when I tried to get back into RPGs, she cut that short when I wanted to play the full weekend (it was a marathon of sorts). The year before we had all stayed up the entire weekend in the student union building, it was a blast. And whenever I tried to get together with friends to do any gaming, I'd feel guilty about being there and after phone calls from her I'd come home.

I know, wah wah stop yer complaining and stick up for yourself. Well, I've always wanted to do actual LAN parties. Always, since I entered my true computer geekhood about 8 years back. And now I got invited after working here for 3 years. That was such an uplifting feeling, of honor and respect that these people that I respected wanted me to be there. I'm not giving that up this time. The only two times I've done this, I got the same guilt trips -- small comments, little insinuations of displeasure, phone calls in the middle of play asking when I was coming home. But both times I ignored the guilt and enjoyed myself. Immensely. Yes it means less time with the family, but that is the sum of my life right now: Work and Family. I do love my family dearly, and cherish the time I spend with all three of my girls. Donna's breast cancer taught me to not take anything or anyone for granted.

But dammitall, I do need some time for myself. I don't get it at home, or at work really. And God knows with the family illnesses and with the uncertainty at work, I've been under some stress. So I feel I deserve this.

Now, the plan was originally for Monday. But Donna complained about that, it was family time on a holiday like Labor Day. So the other guys actually changed all their plans to accommodate me, and moved it to Sunday. Noon to whenever. I intend to stay till the wee hours fragging my little heart out.

Yes I should talk to her about how I feel, how monumentally unfair I think her attitude is. I've always been able to communicate with her on things, I don't like to keep things from her, but what if I'm the one blowing this out of proportion? Been known to happen. And I dislike confrontations. With great intensity.

Computers are a huge part of my life, who I am now. And though I am a hermit at heart (sometimes I really only like the concept of people, aside from my family) I do enjoy the opportunity to network on a social level with those of my mentality. Even if it involves sneaking up behind them with a shotgun in Far Cry and blowing a 12-inch hole in their back.

It's all good fun.

2004-09-01

Your Brain on Blog

Your Brain on Blog. I like it, a clever title. Hard to find nowadays. I'll have to read the rest of his blog, but he actually seems pretty eloquent and meaningful.

OK, I just gotta do it.



The Sage: Workplace Boredom

The Sage: Workplace Boredom

This is funny as hell. I wonder if I could get away with it at my work... hmm...

Work

Every organization is like a tree full of monkeys, with monkeys sitting on all of the branches from top to bottom. When the monkeys at the top look down, all they see are smiling faces. When the monkeys at the bottom look up, all they see are assholes.



2004-08-30

Gmail account

Just got a new Gmail account thanks to my friend Matt Sekol. W00t!!

2004-08-27

Half-Life2 tidbits from PlanetHalfLife

  • A Half-Life 2 SDK (Software Development Kit) for mod developers will be released prior to the game hitting store shelves.
  • Like the original Half-Life, Valve currently has no plans for a pre-release demo (Half-Life: Day One wasn't an official demo).
  • An Xbox port is supposedly in the works, but it isn't expected to ship simultaneously with the PC version. There were rumors of a PS2 port, but those have now been confirmed as false.
  • Barney is back, and all the voice actors from the original Half-Life are reprising their roles. Also returning is Half-Life's original writer, Marc Laidlaw.
  • While the new engine has all sorts of fancy features, it's still designed to scale and work on lower-end machines. Apparently a 700mhz processor and a video card capable of running DX6 is enough, although a 2ghz with a GeForce4 is recommended. Rumors about NVidia or ATI exclusivity are unfounded.
  • Alyx is not a playable character. You're still Gordon Freeman, and Gordon doesn't talk. Nor will there be cut scenes.
  • Scripted Sequences will be more interactive.
  • ALL objects in the game world are affected by the physics.
  • Movement speed of HL will be retained.
  • There will be drivable vehicles in both single and multiplayer.
  • Known locations: City 17, a harbor, a jail, the suburbs, a dried up ocean, an icebreaker ship.
  • An upgraded Hammer editor should ship with the game, but instead of just editing maps it's now described as a "complete development environment" for maps, mods, and more.
  • Valve is apparently already working on a Half-Life 2 expansion pack.
  • Half-Life 3 is planned, so expect another cliffhanger ending.


  • The Best Sci-Fi Film [Slashdot]

    Now there's scientific proof: according to 60 of the most influential scientists in the world, including British biologist Richard Dawkins and Canadian psychologist Steven Pinker, Ridley Scott's Blade Runner (1982) is the best science fiction film. Late Mr. Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) finished 2nd, followed by George Lucas' Star Wars (1977) and The Empire Strikes Back (1980).

    2004-08-26

    Denise Henning

    I just found out that a girl I used to work with passed away Friday night. Denise Henning had been fighting the effects of cervical cancer for a year and a half. Her maiden name was Zulandi. Both her and her twin, Christina Binko, worked with me at Network Solutions three years ago. She was a little younger than me (maybe 30 now?) as I recall, and she just got married before I left NSI.

    She and her twin were two of the most infectiously bubbly people I've ever known.

    I pray you're in a better place now, Denise, but those you've left behind will miss you. My heart especially goes out to Christina, I can't imagine the pain of losing a twin.

    2004-08-25

    Star Wars: Battlefront

    Check out my gaming page, updated it with the next title I am eagerly awaiting. (drool)

    And yes, I still have to do a write-up of Doom3, but I haven't gotten around to playing it yet... I fixed the problem with Far Cry (outdated video driver) so I've been playing that through now. Should help me with the upcoming LAN party on Sept. 3rd...

    You Say You Wanna Revolution?

    This was a fascinating post. The writer was trying to explain why she votes Republican when she is, in fact, a dedicated anarchist and anti-technopolist:
    I don't vote Republican because I think they're going to run this country well. I vote Republican because they're going to run this country into the ground. Why do you think the Religious Right is so fervently pro-Bush? Do you honestly think Christians can accept a murderer as a great leader? Hell no! The Religious Right is trying to bring about the Apocalypse, and Dubya is just the man to do it. Me, I'm not interested in Christ's triumphant return, but I am very interested in the collapse of civilization as we know it. My reason? I hate technopoly, but whatever your reason is, Bush is the man who will bring the Revolution one step closer.
    I swear, I almost fell out of my chair laughing so hard. I'm really a moderate as far as politics go, I'm a registered Democrat but only moved from Independent after living in Virginia Beach (the Religious Right's backyard; one might say they drove me to Democrat). Still, I had some Republican leanings. Much of that has vanished after observing what a complete and utter idiot Dubya has been these last years. The only thing that would have made me pause and consider my choices this election was if John McCain was running instead of Bush. I love that guy.

    Hamas suspect arrested videotaping the Bay Bridge

    Now isn't this interesting, a bit of local news.
    A man described by federal authorities as a "high-ranking" Hamas operative was arrested in Maryland last week as he was videotaping the Bay Bridge, authorities said yesterday.
    The Bay Bridge runs just south of Baltimore across the Chesapeake Bay, connecting to the Eastern Shore in MD. Very long bridge.


    Great security-related quote.

    In explaining why turning on a firewall by default (via XP SP2) is a good thing:
    For the good of the Net, and therefore for the good of all Net users, I'm glad that Microsoft's new service pack turns on the firewall by default. If applications break, too bad. If a user isn't educated enough to know how to open up a port he needs to run a particular program that needs a hole punched in the firewall, then that user shouldn't have unfettered access to the Net anyway.
    By Scott Granneman, SecurityFocus.com. Read the rest of the article, it is very entertaining and all too close to the mark. 20 minutes is all it takes for an unpatched version of Windows XP to become infected once it connects to the internet. Scary.

    2004-08-24

    Graphics cards

    So, NVIDIA 6800 GT or ATI X800 Pro? Both same price point, both 256MB... Even though I've been a longtime ATI fan, I think the 6800 GT might edge it out, especially with Far Cry and Doom3.

    2004-08-23

    Shocking

    I'm an idiot.

    Last night (I should know better than to do things when I'm that tired) I was working on the basement. Was doing some electrical, forgot to turn the breaker off, and touched a live wire.

    Now all the outlets in the basement are dead. The breaker didn't trip for some reason, but I can't get it to reset. The lights are on (they are on a separate breaker) but the outlets aren't. Fortunately the modem and router are in the upstairs office, so internet is still up, but the rest of the network (including the file server) are down. I wonder how much this mistake is going to cost.

    I am such a friggin' idiot.

    UPDATE: Turns out the circuit that tripped was in another outlet in the basement instead of in the breaker box. I have yet to get used to modern wiring...

    Dental Work

    I have this phobia. It involves a dentist's office. I mean, it's so bad my heart rate skyrockets if I even hear the noise of a dental drill on TV. So, my teeth are a mess. Really, really bad, and I keep putting off the work that needs done.

    Just got back from a visit to our new family dentist office, and they were the nicest I've ever seen. Very concerned with me, not just telling me to "suck it up". I'm actually going to get all my work done at once, over several hours, while sedated. A few extractions and lots of cavity fills. I don't think I need any root canals, the four that are the worst are too far gone to save.

    To me, that's the way to do it. Knock me out, and when I wake up everything is fixed and my temporary partials ready for me to wear.

    And I won't have to use my mouth as an example anymore for my children of what happens when you don't brush your teeth properly. Though that has been pretty effective...

    2004-08-19

    So I started to ask myself...

    ...why am I doing this? I mean, why blog at all? I'm not exactly a public-type person. Actually more of a hermit-type person. On occaison I do like the concept of people, but it rarely goes beyond that. Heck, I'm the type to hang out against a wall at a party (when was the last time i was at a party?) rather than mingle. And it's not just because I'm married with two little kids, I've always been like that. My idea of a fun evening (away from a computer, and with other people) is a movie or maybe a board game at home.

    The I also realized, I haven't really personalized this at all. Not much about me, just tidbits of newsworthy items gleaned from web sources. So, I sat down at did a little bio page. And now I'm actually just writing. Freestyle. Look at me go, I'm a crazy wild man, livin' la vida loca. Somebody stop me.

    Yeah.

    Which still doesn't answer the question: Why am I blogging in the first place? Especially when no-one is reading this to begin with?

    2004-08-18

    Basement Construction Pics

    No permanent link on my site for this yet, but I've started documenting my construction in the basement of our new house, for both my home office and the game room. Initial pics are pretty poor; we lost our nice Kodak 3900 digital camera, so I'm forced to use the digital camcorder which takes pics. Not very well, though.

    Half-Life 2 - September Release Echoed

    Online games retailer Gamestop issued their second quarter results today, but what's far more important is that they've echoed earlier rumors that Half-Life 2 will be released this September.
    “Half-Life 2, another PC title. Its been a long time coming since we’ve had two great PC titles in one quarter, and that is expected to debut in September.”

    After watching that new high-res trailer, I can say I'm sufficiently pumped up for it.

    News spotted on GameGossip.com, via ActionTrip.



    2004-08-17

    Linux ISO Mirror List

    LinuxQuestions just put up a list of where to grab your favorite ISOs. Not the definitive list, but a nice central place for mirrors and torrents. Another nice place to check is LinuxISO.

    The Rogue Nation of Dongyrn is dead.

    Started getting repeats of older issues, so I'm trying an experiment. As in a change of rulership. Now heading from a liberal paradise towards a totalitarian police state regime. Let's see how close I can get the feel of a dictatorship...

    Long live the Empire of Dongyrn!!!

    2004-08-12

    New Basement Layouts

    I've put together a Visio layout for what I want to do with the Game Room (just on the other side of the bathroom from my home office) along with actual dimensions. While I was at it I updated my diagram for Nihin-ma (roughly translated, My Place) with dimensions as well. The game room will primarily be used by the girls, and will house the family computer, but I'm thinking that I could also use it for a LAN party room for a small number of people... or split up between that room and mine. I've got one ethernet drop in that area, I think before I get the walls and ceiling up I'll add a second to the same port.

    Home Office Layout (20KB)
    Game Room Layout (8KB)

    Redmond's Salvation [SecurityFocus]

    Service Pack 2 for XP represents a sea change in Microsoft's security posture. Here's why you should ignore the naysayers and start planning your upgrade.

    http://www.securityfocus.com/columnists/259


    2004-08-10

    New host!

    Home pages now on 1&1 hosting, including Donna's cake pages. Subdomains are now in effect on both ends, so I can now use http://brian.thegrahamdesign.com/ for my site. Woohoo!

    2004-08-06

    Doom3 Here We Come...

    Sweet, I read through the [H]ard|OCP article and found their minimum specs, and my rig should come in fine. Here's what they found to be the decent playable minimum:
    DX 9.0 compatible 3D card w/ 64MB RAM*
    MS Windows 2000/XP
    Pentium 4 1.5 GHz or Athlon XP 1500+
    384 MB RAM
    8x CD-ROM
    2.2 GB of HD space
    Broadband (for multiplayer)

    *Supported 3D Graphics chipsets:
    ATI: Radeon 8500, 9000, 9200, 9500, 9600, 9700, 9800
    NVIDIA: GeForce 3, GeForce 4MX, GeForce 4 Titanium, GeForce FX, GeForce 6
    And here's my specs:
    ATI Radeon 9000 128MB
    WinXP Home
    Pentuim 4 1.6 GHz
    512MB RAM
    Now just to get a copy... maybe I can borrow it from a friend when they're done...


    2004-08-04

    New LAN Party Game...plus some future releases to keep track of

    A friend at work (Mike L) passed along to me a site with the release dates for upcoming games:

    DOOM3
    Full Spectrum Warrior
    MoH: Pacific Assault
    Star Wars: Battlefront
    Ghost Recon 2
    Star Wars: Republic Commando
    S.T.A.L.K.E.R.
    Operation Flashpoint 2

    Denim Day

    Just wanted to pass along this website, for Lee Jeans. In association with the Susan G. Komen foundation, which does the race for the cure for breast cancer, Lee Jeans sponsers Denim Day. If you office will do it, they get a promotion kit. Everyone pays $5 to wear jeans to work for the day (in October) and all the money goes directly to breast cancer research and education- nothing is taken out for Lee! So, if you think your boss might be interested, please check out the site!

    Two weeks ago, my wife was given my first clean bill of health in two years, largely due to the medicines they have discovered through funded research. Very few of us go untouched by breast cancer, or some other kind of cancer, and this is a very easy way to help!


    Windows XP Security and Wireless Authentication (Windows & .NET Magazine)

    Microsoft recently published its "Windows XP Security Guide," which offers both instruction and a set of tools (several documents, templates, and scripts) that can help you better secure Windows XP systems whether they are part of an Active Directory (AD) domain or are standalone systems. The guide also offers advice about configuring XP in environments that require "an extremely high level of security in which application compatibility or usability may be constrained."

    The company also published a second step-by-step guide (in Word format), "Obtaining and Installing a VeriSign WLAN Server Certificate for PEAP-MS-CHAP v2 Wireless Authentication," which explains how to obtain certificates from Verisign using a custom Web application built by Verisign specifically for Internet Authentication Service (IAS) users and how to configure IAS to use the certificates for wireless connectivity authentication.

    Both guides are available for download at the company's Download Center Web site.

    Stop. What's That Sound? (Kuro5hin)

    "When the strongest nation in the world can be tied down for four years in a war ... with no end in sight, when the richest nation in the world cannot manage its economy ... when the President of the United States cannot travel abroad, or to any major city at home, then it's time for new leadership for the United States."
    The ellipses are to keep you from guessing too soon. Give up? That was Dick Nixon in 1968. Nowadays Kennedy and Johnson are heroes who made a "mistake" in Vietnam while Nixon twirls a handlebar mustache in Hell. But to look back at what we thought at the time is to see parallels to today. (Good post for some pondering over at Kuro5hin.)

    Doom 3 Reviews and my box (Fozziebear)

    Now that Doom 3 has officially shipped to stores, Computer Gaming World just posted its Doom 3 review, along with about 100 or so new screens. GameSpy has an in-progress weblog and first-look impressions on the "claustrophobic corridors" of the game, Telefragged posted an excellent review:
    "DOOM 3 smashes through all the hype and delivers a grand slam of action, story, atmosphere, and pure terror. It'll last you long enough to make you feel thoroughly satisfied (and a little shaken as well), and the multiplayer mode isn't as bare as some thought it would be. id Software is back in full force with this game, and I recommend it to anyone who likes a dark, visceral, and evil first person shooter."
    And Time Magazine has a feature on Doom 3 and id. Also make sure you check out [H]ard|OCP's recent article to give you some better details on how the game runs on various hardware configurations.

    A guy I work with (Rob C) listened to my system specs (P4 1.6, 512MB RAM, 128MB ATI Radeon 9000) and suggested I give it a try, it might actually come within playability. Also, I need to check within FarCry (which won't let me play single-player without freezing up) and see if the video accelleration is recognized correctly. If it's not finding it right, I'll have to force it otherwise it will be using purely hardware accelleration...


    2004-07-30

    Root access is not approved for you because...

    Root access is not approved for you because...

    [ ] You thought rm -rf / was a good idea the last time you had root access.
    [ ] You are the Random Production Script Runner Guy we were looking for for the past year.
    [ ] You slept with (my/the bosses'/someone else's six-year-old) daughter.
    [ ] Separating the employees into user groups "clowns", "idiots", and "doomed" was frowned upon by management.
    [X] There was a failed installation of Doom 3 on the webserver.

    Sincerely,
    The Admins


    In honor of SysAdmin Day, the required list for today:


    Getting the most from your IT department

    1. When you call us to have your computer moved or fixed, be sure to leave it buried under half a ton of postcards, baby pictures, stuffed animals, dried flowers, bowling trophies and children's art. We don't have a life, and we find it deeply moving to catch a fleeting glimpse of yours.

    2. Don't write anything down. Ever. We can play back the error messages from here.

    3. When an IT person says he's coming right over, go for coffee. That way you won't be there when we need your password. It's nothing for us to remember 300 user passwords.

    4. When you call the help desk, state what you want, not what's keeping you from getting it. We don't need to know that you can't get into your mail because your computer won't power on at all.

    6. When IT support sends you an e-mail with high importance, delete it at once. We're just testing.

    7. When an IT person is eating lunch at his desk, walk right in and spill your guts right out. We exist only to serve.

    8. Send urgent email all in uppercase. The mail server picks it up and flags it as a rush delivery.

    9. When the photocopier doesn't work, call computer support. There's electronics in it. Ditto for the microwave, timeclock, and coffee maker. Hell, if it plugs in, we're probably in charge of it anyway.

    10. When you're getting a NO DIAL TONE message at home, call computer support. We can fix your telephone line from here.

    11. When you have a dozen old computer screens to get rid of, call computer support. We're collectors.

    12. When something's wrong with your home PC, dump it on an IT person's chair with no name, no phone number and no description of the problem. We love a puzzle.

    13. When an IT person tells you that computer screens don't have cartridges in them, argue. We love a good argument.

    14. When an IT person tells you that he'll be there shortly, reply in a scathing tone of voice: "And just how many weeks do you mean by shortly?". That motivates us.

    15. When the printer won't print, re-send the job at least 20 times. Print jobs frequently get sucked into black holes.

    16. When the printer still won't print after 20 tries, send the job to all 68 printers in the company. One of them is bound to work.

    17. Don't learn the proper name for anything technical. We know exactly what you mean by "my thingy blew up".

    18. Don't use on-line help. On-line help is for wimps.

    19. If the mouse cable keeps knocking down the framed picture of your dog, lift the computer and stuff the cable under it. Mouse cables were designed to have 40lb of computer sitting on top of them.

    20. If the space bar on your keyboard doesn't work, blame it on the mail upgrade. Keyboards are actually very happy with half a pound of muffin crumbs and nail clippings in them.

    21. When you get a message saying "Are you sure?" click on that Yes button as fast as you can. Hell, if you weren't sure, you wouldn't be doing it, would you?

    22. When you find an IT person on the phone with his bank, sit uninvited on the corner of his desk and stare at him until he hangs up. We don't have any money to speak of anyway.

    23. Feel perfectly free to say things like "I don't know nothing about that computer crap". We don't mind at all hearing our area of professional expertise referred to as crap.

    24. When you need to change the toner cartridge in a printer, call IT support. Changing a toner cartridge is an extremely complex task, and Hewlett-Packard recommends that it be performed only by a professional engineer with a master's degree in nuclear physics.

    25. When you can't find someone in the government directory, call IT Support.

    26. When you have a lock to pick on an old file cabinet, call IT Support. We love to hack.

    27. When something's the matter with your computer, ask your secretary to call the help desk. We enjoy the challenge of having to deal with a third party who doesn't know anything about the problem.

    28. When you receive a 50MB movie file, send it to everyone as a mail attachment. We've got lots of disk space on that mail server.

    29. Don't even think of breaking large print jobs down into smaller chunks. Somebody else might get a chance to squeeze a memo into the queue.

    30. When an IT person gets on the elevator pushing $100,000 worth of computer equipment on a cart, ask in a very loud voice: "Good grief, you take the elevator to go DOWN one floor?!?" That's another one that cracks us up no end.

    31. When you lose your car keys or go to lunch, send an email to the entire company. People down in Las Vegas like to keep abreast of what's going on.

    32. When you bump into an IT person at the grocery store on a Saturday, ask a computer question. We do weekends.

    33. Don't bother to tell us when you move computers around on your own. Computer names are just a cosmetic feature.

    34. When you bring your own personal home PC for repair at the office, leave the documentation at home. We'll find all the settings and drivers somewhere.

    35. In no way do we believe that end-users are ungrateful. It hurts our feelings that one could even think such a thing on the basis of the above statements. In truth we wish to express our deepest gratitude to the hundreds of wonderful end-users portrayed herein, without whom none of this would have been remotely possible.

    We truly love you, end-users, you spice up our lives no end.

    15-Case Power Tower Round-Up

    From Tom's Hardware Guide, this article was published a little while ago (June 7) but these cases are SWEET! I'm really digging the new Lian Li PC-V1000 case here, but I'm totally in love with the Chieftec BX-01 for its hard drive capacity. Definitely a good read.

    Laser Geekage

    This is a project that my brother-in-law down in Newport News is working on, thought I'd pass it along.

    "Free-Electron Laser Reaches 10 Kilowatts"

    Which RAID level is right for me?

    The right choice depends on the application. The RAID Levels below provide a brief summary and general uses. Not all RAID controllers support all RAID Levels, but a hardware RAID solution is generally recommended over a software solution.

    Level 0 (striping)

    Any application which requires very high speed storage, but does not need redundancy. Photoshop temporary files are a good example.

    Level 1 (mirroring)

    Applications which require redundancy with fast random writes; entry-level systems where only two drives are available. Small file servers are an example.

    Level 0/1 or 10 (mirroring and striping)

    Dual level raid, combines multiple mirrored drives (RAID 1) with data striping (RAID 0) into a single array. Provides highest performance with data protection.

    Level 5 (distributed parity)

    Similar to level 3, but may provide higher performance if most I/O is random and in small chunks. Database servers are an example.

    Level 0/5 or 50 (distributed parity and striping)

    Dual level raid, combines multiple RAID 5 sets with data striping (RAID 0). Increased reliability and performance over standard RAID 5 that can stand a multiple drive failure; one hard drive per RAID 5 set.

    2004-07-29

    Guess what tomorrow is?

    System Administrator Appreciation Day (Celebrated annually on last Friday of July) - Show your appreciation!

    Check it out...

    New site design, woohoo! Obviously, based upon the Blogger template. I was originally trying to force Blogger to my own template, and then realized that this one was way better than mine anyway, and so a site redeign was born. Streamlined it a bit, but there's more to do. At least it all looks fairly spiffy now.

    2004-07-26

    kewl new kit

    Got some old hardware from my Dad this weekend. His old HP Pavilion 4550Z (Celeron) has an Iomega Jaz drive, I think I'll make it my backup server (would Linux run the Jaz?) and call it Honeydew. And I also got (drum roll...) A FREAKIN' 21" MONITOR! W00t! It's a Compaq QVision 210, a little old but still in great shape... using it at home now, it's amonster and takes up most of the desk, but it is SWEET!

    'Nuff said.

    Kevin & Joanna Graham

    Wedding this past weekend was great. My little brother finally got hitched. Just for posterity's sake here's my Best Man's speech:
    I guess it's time for me to make the traditional speech as Kevin's best man. And since he knows just how much I love getting up and talking in front of a crowd, I'm sure he'll forgive me for making this brief.

    Kevin was the best man at my own wedding 10 years ago. It is my incredible honor to return the favor and be by his side today when he married Joanna.

    I've always been proud of Kevin and all he has accomplished, and as time goes on my admiration of him just increases. He's an incredible lucky man to have convinced a woman of Joanna's intelligence, quality and class to marry him; and Joanna, though apparently quite gullible, is lucky to have married such a great man.

    I do wish them all the best of luck with all the love in my heart.

    Here's to Kevin and Joanna Graham.
    All my best, guys, and have a wonderful honeymoon.

    2004-07-22

    id Software's Official DOOM3 Benchmarks

    Much of the gaming and hardware community has been waiting with bated breath for DOOM 3 from id Software. That time is almost here, but before the game goes for sale on store shelves, id Software has been kind enough to do some things for the community so we can all hit the ground running and be ready for our DOOM3 experience from the moment we open the box.
    According to the article, they were playing DOOM 3 on a 1.5GHz Pentium 4 box with a GeForce 4 MX440 video card and having a surprisingly good gaming experience. Even a subtle jump to an AMD 2500+ with a GeForce 3 video card that is two years old delivered a solid gaming experience that will let you enjoy the game the way id Software designed it to be.

    w00t!

    Upgrade successful, woohoo! Now running WinXP Pro on Neuromancer (and it's called that now instead of BET1003 or whatever stupid thing it was before...). I'm still having issues with switching between home and work workgroups, haven't found a seamless way to do it.

    On the plus side, getting the laptop to connect with the wireless router was never easier! And with WPA now, to boot!

    2004-07-19

    Email Post Test

    OK, so I'm just testing to see if the email posting works. This is a really cool setup. Don't know why I didn't do this before.

    I need to work on my own template, so the blogger page looks more like my homepage.

    Oh, and I haven't done the upgrade yet, I was too busy this weekend with other stuff. I'll try to finagle it today.



    2004-07-16

    Wish me luck...

    This weekend I'm planning on taking my work laptop (Neuromancer) and replacing the Win2K partition with WinXP Pro. Hopefully I won't lose the data partition or the Debian one, but I'm worried I will mess up the boot loader and won't be able to get into Debian again... we shall see...

    I have quite the list of items to install. I didn't realize I had so many programs in use. I won't be deterred, though, as every time I wait 10 minutes for Win2K to boot, or another 10 for Outlook to load, I am more firmly set on my path.

    First Post

    So here we are. I finally jumped on the blogging bandwagon. Not that I have much of interest to say, but I like to keep track of things in writing. Therefore, this is mostly for my own benefit. Infrequently updated, and relevant to few. But hey, at least I can pull off the old rants and such from my homepage. So even though there is old material here, this is in fact my first post on Blogger. Yay me.

    2004-07-08

    NationStates

    Man, this game is cool. I have it set to give me two issues a day, and based on my response to those issues I determine the course of my nation. I went into Anarchy briefly, and then back to Civil Rights Lovefest as the UN Category. Now I'm a "Scandinavian Liberal Paradise". Heh. Here's the blurb from today:

    The Rogue Nation of Dongyrn
    "No matter where you go, there you are."
    UN Category: Scandinavian Liberal Paradise
    Civil Rights: World Benchmark
    Economy: Fair
    Political Freedoms: Very Good
    Location: Moperville

    The Rogue Nation of Dongyrn is a huge, environmentally stunning nation, notable for its punitive income tax rates. Its compassionate, intelligent population of 231 million enjoy extensive civil rights and enjoy a level social equality free of the usual accompanying government corruption.

    It is difficult to tell where the omnipresent, liberal, socially-minded government stops and the rest of society begins, but it juggles the competing demands of Education, Social Equality, and Healthcare. The average income tax rate is 57%, and even higher for the wealthy. A small private sector is dominated by the Arms Manufacturing industry.

    Space research funding has hit a recent high while several military bases are being closed down, major cities are suffering under water rationing, crowds of flag-burning protesters tend to accidentally become crowds of burning protesters, and politicians are losing their jobs in a plan to make the government 'leaner and fitter'. Crime is well under control. Dongyrn's national animal is the wolf, which frolics freely in the nation's many lush forests, and its currency is the dongle.

    2004-07-03

    Verizon DSL (Redux)

    Still working out the kinks. Sent an email to billing to ask just what the heck my speed is supposed to be. Also looking at MapQuest again, and using a ruler (how low-tech) I'm estimating 12,600ft to the CO from my house. Sweet.

    Now, there is a rumor about increased speeds to 3/768 by end of summer... most likely cost more tho...

    UPDATE: Got an email back. Feh.
    Thank you for your recent email, and we apologize for the untimely response. Due to the June promotion and the recent Credit Card scam, we have experienced an enormous volume of emails that have delayed us in responding to your emails within the given time frame. For this, we greatly apologize.
    Your speed is at 768/128, and unfortunately you do not qualify for the 1.5/384. For assistance, should you have further questions about this, we ask that you contact our tech support at 800-567-6789.

    2004-06-22

    PCWorld: Convert Your PC Into a DVR

    No doubt about it, TiVo has become a cultural icon. Witness its transformation into a verb: "I'm going to TiVo 'Survivor' tonight." Personal computer manufacturers have responded with so-called Media Center PCs that sport TV tuners, large hard drives, great sound systems, and Microsoft's Windows XP Media Center Edition 2004--an extended version of XP that lets you record TV and manage audio, video, and photos in one interface.

    Unfortunately, you can't just go out and buy the Media Center OS; it's available only with off-the-shelf Media Center PCs. But you can use add-in accessories and software to upgrade your current PC to include virtually all the features of a Media Center PC or a digital video recorder like TiVo. Two possible routes are available. The less expensive is to add a TV-tuner card or USB box, which supplies basic TV viewing and recording capabilities. We decided to take the pricier route of upgrading our graphics, too, by installing a graphics card that integrates a TV tuner and other video extras.

    To test the process out, we used two graphics/DVR cards: first ATI's All-In-Wonder 9600, then NVidia's Personal Cinema FX 5200, both of which retail for about $200. They offer built-in TV tuners, the ability to record to hard disk (and to CD/DVD or VCR), and TiVo-like features such as the ability to pause a live program for later viewing from where you left off. You can also hook these boards up to your television and surround-stereo system to play back recorded TV, or to connect your VCR and digitize old VHS tapes. And a PC-based DVR doesn't require a phone line or a monthly fee for a programming guide, as TiVo does.

    Unlike their predecessors, today's PC add-in products are meant to work with cable TV set-top boxes. New ATI All-In-Wonder models can also share video with other PCs over a local network, and some can record HDTV with an included add-in board.

    For information on ATI's All-In-Wonder 9600, go to our Product Finder:
    http://pcwnl.pcworld.com/t/131484/15906100/515942/0/

    For info on NVidia's Personal Cinema FX 5200, go to the company's Web site:
    http://pcwnl.pcworld.com/t/131484/15906100/515943/0/

    * The Top Down *

    Benefits: Automatically record TV programs to your hard drive for later playback or for recording on CD/DVD or VCR; input video from a VCR or camcorder for conversion to digital video or CD/DVD. Use special features such as pausing a live program for later viewing.

    Costs: TV tuner/recorder, $75-$200; complete graphics/video add-in kit, $200-$250; optional DVD writer, $150-$300

    Expertise level: Intermediate

    Time required: 45 to 90 minutes

    Tools required: Phillips screwdriver, antistatic wrist strap (recommended)

    Vendors: ATI, AVerMedia, Creative, Hauppauge, Leadtek, Matrox, NVidia, Pinnacle Systems

    * Is Your PC Video-Ready? *

    Recording video puts a lot of demands on your CPU and hard disk. In our experience, a PC needs quite a bit more horsepower than the manufacturer's minimum hardware and software requirements to be able to comfortably record, edit, and play back digital video. Here's our take on the real-world specs you'll need.

    Processor: 1.8-GHz or higher Intel Pentium 4 or AMD Athlon.

    RAM: 256MB minimum; 512MB (or more) optimum.

    Hard Drives: 60GB (or larger) separate partition. You should strongly consider a second hard drive dedicated to video storage.

    Sound Card: It depends on how you're planning to use your media center. Most existing sound hardware should be fine for standard cable TV. But if you intend to view DVDs, you'll want a high-quality surround-sound card, such as the Sound Blaster Audigy 2. And a good set of PC speakers is a must as well.

    Writable Media Drive: Though not strictly necessary, a DVD writer is something you'll wish you had if your PC lacks one.

    Operating System: For some DVRs, Windows 2000 or XP Professional is required. Don't use Windows 98 or Me, even if the manufacturer says you can--you'll be disappointed.

    Also, if you plan to integrate your PC with your home video and audio system, you'll need to set aside space for the computer, keyboard, and monitor. And many PCs are too noisy to work satisfactorily in these environments; see "Quiet Your PC: Easy Ways to Cut Computer Noise" for hints: http://pcwnl.pcworld.com/t/131484/15906100/515944/0/

    * Installing Digital Video Recorder Hardware and Software *

    Before you begin, do a complete system backup. Then check the manufacturer's Web site to ensure that you have the latest versions of the drivers and other software. Some PCs may also require an AGP driver update. The steps shown here are typical for using a graphics card with integrated DVR hardware. But your approach will differ if you aren't replacing your existing graphics card, and the steps vary by manufacturer. Your hardware comes with an installation poster and (usually) a manual. Read them carefully.

    1. Remove existing graphics software and drivers.

    This will help you avoid potential driver incompatibilities. Open Control Panel and open Add or Remove Programs. Find any entries for your graphics card and choose Change/Remove. If no entries are evident, right-click My Computer and choose Properties. Click the Hardware tab and then the Device Manager button. Double-click Display Adapters, right-click the entry for your existing graphics card, and choose Uninstall.

    2. Change the graphics card.

    Turn off your PC, unhook the monitor cable, and open the case. Don an antistatic wrist strap, and remove the screw that holds down the graphics card. Carefully remove the old card. Gently but firmly insert the new card so that it's securely seated in the AGP slot. Fasten the card with the screw, and then close the PC's case back up.

    3. Hook up the equipment.

    The connectors and cables on the rear of a TV-tuner graphics card can be intimidating, and each manufacturer uses a different layout. Study the installation poster that came with your hardware, paying particular attention to the audio and video inputs and outputs. Most cards, for example, require a connection to your sound card. Double-check all the connections before you restart.

    4. Install the software.

    Plug your PC in and turn it on. Windows should detect the new card and pop up the Found New Hardware Wizard. Insert the CD that came with your new card and follow the directions. Reboot your PC when instructed to do so.

    5. Tweak the settings.

    This is the most time-consuming step. Before you can use all the features of your new hardware and software, you must go through a number of setup screens. These will set up your audio and video connections, scan for available channels on your cable or satellite connection, and hook you up to a programming guide that simplifies choosing programs to watch or record. Follow the on-screen directions carefully.

    6. Start using your multimedia center.

    Learning all the ins and outs of your new hardware and software will take a while. Make some test recordings on your hard drive and burn a DVD (if your PC is so equipped) to confirm that everything is working together properly. If you run into problems, contact the manufacturer's tech support.

    2004-06-09

    Linux PVRs Highlighted

    On SlashDot, foolinator writes:

    "Yahoo News is featuring an article highlighting TiVO alternatives. This includes MythTV (my favorite), Freevo, and even sites on how to start as a newbie. All of us who subscribe to the mailing lists be prepared to help out the newbies as Linux PVRs become more mainstream."

    Here's a selection from the article itself:

    At the Web Site "Build Your Own PVR" (http://www.byopvr.com), enthusiasts discuss the intricacies of how to build the most powerful personal video recorders with PC components, how well the latest hardware and software works, and also help the uninitiated to get started.
    The site's tagline is: "Why Tivo when you can Freevo?"
    SlashDot article
    Yahoo! News article

    2004-06-08

    PCWorld: Clean Up Your MP3 Collection

    I've spent a lot of time cleaning up my MP3 collection recently, and it's come to remind me of a scene in Nick Hornby's novel "High Fidelity." Rob, the obsessive music fan narrating the story, has just been dumped by his girlfriend. He proceeds to regain some control over one aspect of his life the only way he knows how: He reorganizes his record collection. This is no typical reorganization, mind you. Rob arranges his records by the date he bought them--a sort of personal music fandom biography.

    Of course, now that music's gone digital that "Great Reorganization" can be done in one click of the date-added tab. Sorting by genre, release year, artist name, or even track length is just as simple. Or at least it can be, provided your MP3 collection is in good shape to begin with.

    Organizing a collection of records or CDs is time consuming, but at least it's unambiguous. MP3s on the other hand, have metadata, file names, and directory structures. Unless you've ripped your entire music collection yourself using the same program, you're likely to have some tracks that don't fit your naming scheme or that don't have all the correct data associated with them. This month, I'll show you how to whip your music collection into shape, discussing tools to help you perform your own Great Reorganization.

    Get It Together

    ID3 is not a summer blockbuster movie title; it's the most-used format for storing the additional data that goes with your digital audio files. The ID3 tags in a file store the year the album was produced, what genre the music belongs in, the track number, and a bunch of other metadata. Unfortunately, those tags have gone through several versions, and MP3 ripping programs don't fill them out consistently. My collection at work, for example, has track numbers in a couple different formats, and the year field is blank for over half the tracks.

    The full version of Musicmatch provides a very cool way to clean up those ID3 tags with its Super Tagging feature. Grab a copy here:
    http://pcwnl.pcworld.com/t/114396/15906102/364752/0/

    Given a list of files, Super Tagging will collect whatever information is available to it from the file name, the directory structure, and any ID3 tagging on each song, then match that up with an online database to pinpoint which track it is and fill out the associated metadata automatically. It even can grab album art--when it's working correctly, anyway.

    Super Tagging does come with a couple caveats. First, when a song appears on multiple albums, the tagger can get a little confused. For example, you'll see different album art for tracks from the same album. To fix this, you need to click "More..." on the screen where you review the matches to pull up a list and choose the right one. You'll have to spend some time tweaking the tagger's recommendations, but it's much quicker then entering all that data yourself. The second and more important caveat is that Super Tagging needs at least some information to get it started. If you've got a folder of files named "track1," "track2," "track3" without ID3 tags, you won't get good results.

    If that's your situation, turn to an app like MP3/Tag Studio 3 to help you fill in the gaps:
    http://pcwnl.pcworld.com/t/114396/15906102/364753/0/

    Plenty of capable shareware apps help you rename or retag files in batches. MP3/Tag Studio provides a powerful interface that lets you automatically tag files based on their names, rename files based on their tags, enter your own tags in batches, or even remove extended intros or outros from songs. It's simple and fast enough to make hand-tagging some of your files convenient.

    A nice final step in reorganizing is to create a consistent artist/album directory structure for all the songs. One easy way to do this is to let Apple ITunes do all the work. In the program, select Edit, Preferences, and click the Advanced tab. Set the ITunes Music folder location to a directory where you want your MP3s to end up and click OK to close the Preferences dialog box. (Make sure this directory doesn't already contain any of your MP3s, or they won't get reorganized.) Then select Advanced in the menu bar and click Consolidate Library. Click OK, and ITunes moves all your tunes to the directory you chose and sorts them into an artist/album folder structure. While consolidating your library, ITunes can also convert any WMA files you have to AAC or MP3 format so it can play them, but it won't convert any protected WMA files you've purchased at online stores like Napster. And RealAudio files or tracks purchased at RealPlayer Music store won't be converted or moved by this procedure.

    If, after all that, you're up for some extra credit, check out a program called MP3Trim:
    http://pcwnl.pcworld.com/t/114396/15906102/364754/0/

    The program detects and removes big pockets of digital silence, like the ones inserted before hidden tracks at the end of a CD. It can also clean up extraneous ID3 tags and strange info found in MP3s. The Pro version even normalizes your songs so you don't get big jumps in volume between tracks.

    2004-06-05

    Muppetopia Update

    Just did a quick update to my home network diagram, simplified it a bit, taking out peripherals like the printers (which wouldn't transfer from the Visio to image format, annoying) though not all these systems are online just yet. My corner of the basement is still a mess, but at least the network is up now...

    Muppetopia.png (79KB)
    List of computers

    2004-06-02

    Verizon DSL

    So what's my speed? Did a speedtest through BroadbandReports at Speakeasy, tested at around 760/120 which would possibly indicate a 768/128 connection. Supposedly I should be able to upgrade to 1.5/384 if the CO has the cards needed. I need to speed-test again at night to get a good reading.

    According to the site, my CO FLWTWVFW (Falling Waters) is BELL ATLANTIC - WEST VIRGINIA, INC Telco. And according to Mapquest they're just on the other side of 81 from me. Verizon will accept orders for ADSL up to 1500ft, so must be within that.

    UPDATE: Done 5/27/2004 from FozzieBear
    Speakeasy 2004-05-27 20:04:17 EST: 356 / 132
    That's pitiful. I'm hoping it was the time of day and the fact that Fozziebear is across two switches from the router. (Have to make the network topography more efficient...)

    UPDATE: From FozzieBear again, after fixing an issue with the switch (didn't have uplink on).
    Speakeasy 2004-05-30 17:30:08 EST: 328 / 130
    Even more pitiful, but at least consistent. Have to try again from both Beaker (plugged directly into the Linksys) and FozzieBear (25' Cat5e to switch, then 10' to hub before even get to the box) at the same time and compare, to track down where the bottleneck is. Speed is decent for normal web browsing at least. Just not what I'm expecting...

    UPDATE: Got my wireless card and tested from Neuromancer, my work laptop.
    Megapath 2004-06-02 20:40:46 EST: 661 / 130

    2004-05-26

    This seriously rocks...

    Slashdot story on Water-Cooled Half-Life 2 Case Mod.

    In an enormous from scratch project, piloux has recreated the HL feel in his LAN PC. This UV reactive watercooled case features 7 fans along side the meticulously texture painted contents. Take a look at the finished product images.

    2004-05-25

    Well, I'm back.

    It's been a long time since I could do anything with the site, but after moving and finally getting DSL (Yay Verizon!) I can get back on track now... Still have to get the network up and running, wire up the basement first... ugh, I need to take a month off just to get everything done... and I keep hurting myself (latest are a strained back muscle and puncture wound in my hand from a wood drill bit). Which needs to stop. No, really.

    Open Source Hotspots

    From SlashDot.org:
    "Not that long ago it was a serious pain to get an 802.11b card to work on a Linux machine... Wi-Fi Planet has a story where they do an overview of a wad of open source Wi-Fi projects....standard Linux routing is enough to create your own access point, with a few other tools like Public IP's Zone CD or the Less Networks Hotspot server, you can freely create a hotspot and manage it all in minutes. I guess all this means that both Wi-Fi and open source are literally 'everywhere'."

    2004-04-18

    Yeah, I need a life...

    ...That or stop finding all these quizzes online...

    57.98817% - Extreme Geek on the Geek Test.

    2004-04-16

    Heh... I'm such a geek...

    I Am A: Chaotic Good Elf Ranger Druid

    Alignment:
    Chaotic Good characters are independent types with a strong belief in the value of goodness. They have little use for governments and other forces of order, and will generally do their own things, without heed to such groups.

    Race:
    Elves are the eldest of all races, although they are generally a bit smaller than humans. They are generally well-cultured, artistic, easy-going, and because of their long lives, unconcerned with day-to-day activities that other races frequently concern themselves with. Elves are, effectively, immortal, although they can be killed. After a thousand years or so, they simply pass on to the next plane of existance.

    Primary Class:
    Rangers are the defenders of nature and the elements. They are in tune with the Earth, and work to keep it safe and healthy.

    Secondary Class:
    Druids are a special variety of Cleric who serves the Earth, and can call upon the power in the earth to accomplish their goals. They tend to be somewhat fanatical about defending natural settings.

    Deity:
    Solonor Thelandria is the Chaotic Good elven god of archery and the hunt. He is also known as the Keen Eye, the Great Archer, and the Forest Hunter. His followers respect nature, and only hunt when needed, but are quick to defend the forest from intruders. Their favorite weapon is the bow, and they tend to be extremely talented with it. Solonor Thelandria's symbol is an arrow with green fletchings.

    Find out What D&D Character Are You?, courtesy of NeppyMan (e-mail)

    Funny enough, this was the exact character I liked to play the best, back when I was actively doing Pen & Paper RPG (well, aside from my CG Fighter/Rogue Dwarf... but I always identified best with this one...).