Gmail account

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


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).


    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.


    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.


    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.



    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...


    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.


    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?


    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.


    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!!!


    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.



    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!


    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...


    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:

    Full Spectrum Warrior
    MoH: Pacific Assault
    Star Wars: Battlefront
    Ghost Recon 2
    Star Wars: Republic Commando
    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...