Is Microsoft Still a Monopoly?

(See, I go on vacation for a little while, and catch up on my blogging all at once...)

Microsoft Windows still dominates the desktop. But in many other areas, including Web servers and supercomputing, Microsoft is just one player among many, and often a weak player at that. On the gaming side, despite the latest xBox getting all kinds of media buzz as "the" console to buy, Sony's Playstation outsells the xBox at least two to one, and many analysts expect Sony to widen that gap even more when Playstation 3 comes out in the Spring of 2006. On the Internet, MSN and MSN Search are so far behind AOL and Google that it isn't funny. And even on the desktop, Linux keeps getting stronger, while Mac OS X is commonly accepted as more reliable, secure, and user-oriented than Windows. So why do we keep saying Microsoft is a monopoly?

(Story continues here.)

Reality Bytes: Eight Myths About Video Games Debunked

A large gap exists between the public's perception of video games and what the research actually shows. The following is an attempt to separate fact from fiction.

(By Henry Jenkins, MIT Professor.)

Twas the night before Xmas - Battlefield 2 style!

Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Strike At Karkand was loading, as I wiggled my mouse.
Karkand had loaded, I was almost there,
There would be no flying, no stingers, no flares.

My team started spawning, it’s time to cap flags
I'll be sure to kill some bunny-hopping fags.
If I spawn really quick, maybe I’ll snag the tank,
Then head to the Hotel to shoot at their flank.

Passing the Market, I heard enemy chatter,
I turned my tank around to see them all scatter.
I stepped on the pedals and gave it some gas,
They hid in the same spot, they died in one blast!

So then I debated on where I should go,
Maybe to their arty, with C4 to blow.
When what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a packed Humvee, and a driver who couldn’t steer.

The driver sees me so I have to shoot him quick,
One shot to the tires really did the trick.
More rapid than eagles the enemy came,
I killed them one by one and called them some names!

“Die n00bie! Die Lamer! You dolphin diving bitches!
I pwn j00! Die Hax0r and fags who use glitches!
You can hide on a rooftop or behind a wall,
It doesn’t matter ‘cause I will pwn j00 a11!”

I spotted a spec ops out the corner of my eye,
I nailed him with a tank round, and made that bitch fly!
I made kill after kill, my score really grew,
But I needed quick repairs and some ammo too.

My commander was useless, a total goof
What kind of retard drops supplies on a roof?
I drove around the map to buy me some time,
When I saw something else that would do just as fine.

Here came an Engy, with some AT mines to lay,
I killed him so fast, he got mad and called me gay.
I hopped out my tank to go pick up his pack,
To repair to full health and then renew my attack.

My tank was like new, so pristine and so cherry,
This would help win first place and make me so merry.
I started the engine, the tank treads did roll
Onward back into battle, first place was my goal.

Coming towards me was trouble, their APC,
I rolled up ahead as my team began to flee.
He shot once and then twice, there was no direct hit,
The driver was a total n00b, and in deep shit.

Now he wasn’t moving, he was totally still,
He was easy to hit as I went in for the kill.
I left-clicked on my mouse as I shook my head,
His APC blew up, his lame ass was dead.

I spoke not a word, and went straight back to work,
The other team called me hax0r and a jerk.
When you have this much skill, that’s just how it goes,
You’ll get no respect from those whiney-ass hoes.

The match was almost over, the ticket count low,
I got killed at the Market by that stupid ass tow.
I shouted to the n00bs who bowed before my might,
“Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good fight!”

(Kudos to cyrus360.)


And a Very Merry Christmas to You

In the spirit of the holidays, I present to you the goal to which we all strive for, the ultimate expression of what this season is all about. Cheers!


Google acquires stake in AOL

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Google Inc. and America Online Inc. Tuesday expanded their search and advertising alliance to include video and instant messaging, shutting out Microsoft Corp., which had fought hard for a deal with Time Warner Inc.'s AOL unit.

America Online said Google had agreed to invest $1 billion to take a 5 percent stake in AOL, as part of an enhanced pact where Google will move beyond text-based advertising to allow AOL to sell graphical ads to Google's fast-growing ad network.

Terms of the deal call for AOL to make more of its Web sites searchable via Google search, including a plans to feature AOL's premium video services within Google Video, a way of searching for Web-based video programming.

They also said they had agreed, under certain unspecified conditions, to allow users of Google's recently introduced instant messaging system Google Talk to communicate with users of AOL's market-leading AIM instant messaging service.


Steam Hybrid Car from BMW

Now here's an interesting tidbit read over at Slashdot. BMW is unveiling its turbosteamer hybrid engine, which uses the excess heat in the exhaust system and reclaims 80% of it by powering a steam engine that assists the gas engine. Overall, this gives a 15% more efficient engine; and significant additional performance (power and torque) with practically no downside. "This project resolves the apparent contradiction between consumption and emission reductions on one hand, and performance and agility on the other," commented Professor Burkhard Goschel. So, what do you think, could steam engines be the future of environmental-friendly hybrid vehicles?


Just in time for the holidays...

Q: I've heard that cardiovascular exercise can prolong life. Is this true?

A: Your heart is only good for so many beats, and that's it... don't waste them on exercise. Everything wears out eventually. Speeding up your heart will not make you live longer; that's like saying you can extend the life of your car by driving it faster. Want to live longer? Take a nap.

Q: Should I cut down on meat and eat more fruits and vegetables?

A: You must grasp logistical efficiencies. What does a cow eat? Hay and corn. And what are these? Vegetables. So a steak is nothing more than an efficient mechanism of delivering vegetables to your system. Need grain? Eat chicken. Beef is also a good source of field grass (green leafy vegetable). And a pork chop can give you 100% of your recommended daily allowance of vegetable products.

Q: Should I reduce my alcohol intake?

A: No, not at all. Wine is made from fruit. Brandy is distilled wine, tequila is made out of cactus, that means they take the water out of the fruity bit so you get even more of the goodness that way. Beer is also made out of grain. Bottoms up!

Q: How can I calculate my body/fat ratio?

A: Well, if you have a body and you have body fat, your ratio is one to one. If you have two bodies, your ratio is two to one, etc.

Q: Aren't fried foods bad for you?

A: YOU'RE NOT LISTENING!!! Foods are fried these days in vegetable oil. In fact, they're permeated in it. How could getting more vegetables be bad for you?
______________________________ __

Q: Will sit-ups help prevent me from getting a little soft around the middle?

A: Definitely not! When you exercise a muscle, it gets bigger. You should only be doing sit-ups if you want a bigger stomach.

Q: Is chocolate bad for me?

A: Are you crazy? HELLO Cocoa beans--another vegetable!!! It's the best feel-good food around!

Q: Is swimming good for your figure?

A: If swimming is good for your figure, explain whales to me.

Q: Is getting in-shape important for my lifestyle?

A: Hey! 'Round' is a shape!

Well, I hope this has cleared up any misconceptions you may have had about food and diets!

Remember my happy little chums. Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways - Chardonnay in one hand & chocolate coated strawberries in the other - body thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and screaming - WOO HOO! What a Ride!


Aeon Flux

Off of Slashdot, the movie AeonFlux has been getting a mixture of reviews since its debut and most tend to be on the negative side. A review posted on BinaryIdiot goes a bit more in-depth than most reviews and gives the movie a fair shot. From the review:
First of all, I have to say that I'm disappointed, but not altogether surprised by the reviews I've seen thus far. Those who review films for a living are notoriously unreliable, and in many cases, they miss the whole point altogether. Rest assured, even though I'm as skeptical as they come, and can find a flaw in absolutely anything, I won't pick on this movie simply because the plot may be too hard for some people to understand.
I've been looking forward to seeing this movie, though most likely I'll be waiting for the video... Here's the bottom line from the review, which sounds promising:
All in all, if you are one of those who have an imagination that's functional enough to let you enjoy a movie as far-fetched and fantasy-esque as this one, you will probably be riveted. If you are more narrow-minded and get nauseous at the mere thought of something that's not 100% realistic (like many of those who have already reviewed this movie) then go do something useful, since you're probably beyond help and reading this review isn't going to accomplish anything for you. It's a movie and therefore has the right to -gasp- take place in the future, and -bigger gasp- have characters that don't look or act as if they just walked out of Starbuck's. This movie is a down and dirty sci-fi thriller with a deep and ever-expanding imagination and it never tried to sell itself as anything else.
So, anybody seen it yet? Ever heard of Aeon Flux? Do you even care? I swear, the number of comments on my blog, I could count on one hand... :-)


The Top 10 Weirdest USB Drives Ever

Fosfor Gadgets lists the top weirdest USB drives ever, including photographs. Shrimp, sushi and dimsum, mmmmm... I've seen the big Tiki drive at ThinkGeek before, but I gotta agree with their number one weird drive. There's just something wrong with ripping Barbie's head off and inserting the body into a USB port...


In Memoriam: Athos

So I get up this morning to do a 4am install, turn on the lights to the basement and see Athos lying there. He's sprawled on his side, so undignified for a cat who was always the epitome of dignity. Not moving, his fluffy grey-and-white fur just lies there.

I feel stupid for getting so upset. He was an old cat, almost 12 years, and he'd been having trouble for awhile. Spent a good deal of money at the vet with xrays and medicines to see why he wasn't eating and when he did, couldn't keep anything down. We had flushed his system out and everything seemed to be ok. I actually just wrote out a tag on a Christmas present last night, to Mommy from Athos, Olivia and Salem (the cats). And thinking how nice it was he was still with us. And then I walked down the stairs this morning.

We got Athos as a kitten, the summer we were married. He was like our first child, when we weren't intending to have actual children of our own just yet. Over time we had many more cats, five at one time, but when we moved back up to Maryland from Virginia Beach we knew we could only keep two (the usual limit for renting), so we kept Athos and Uther. Uther (Pookie) passed away last Christmas when his kidneys failed. We had to take him to the vet, he was in so much pain, and they had to put him to sleep. That was hard saying goodbye, but I knew he wouldn't be in pain anymore. He was a few months younger than Athos though.

I remember Athos as a kitten, the definition of trouble. Got into everything, always up on the counter. Closed him in the fridge once - he must have snuck in behind my back when it was open. When I next opened it there he was, face down in the cheesecake on the bottom shelf and having the time of his life.

I recall another time, I was eating ice cream in front of the television. Had my bowl on a stool in front of me. Athos was just off to the side, when suddenly with a leap worthy of a tiger pouncing on his prey, he dove into my ice cream bowl. I had to drag him out, smacking his nose and scolding severely, but he didn't care - he was too busy contentedly licking his paws off.

Athos was the strongest cat I've ever known. I mean, to clip his nails I had to literally lay on top of him, and then it was even money whether or not he'd push me off. I think I still have scars from the unfortunate time we had to give the cats a flea dip bath.

He definitely had his own personality. Very aloof, and unforgiving at times, but he was also lovable and comforting, always knowing when a good fluff would cheer one of us right up.

He was my first cat. My first baby, and the only one left from when we got married. He always seemed like he'd live forever, too stubborn by far to go away. But, all things end, all things pass. And so now he's gone.

This has helped alot to erase the shock of seeing him like that this morning, with the warm memories of how he was. So, if you actually bothered to read this far, thanks for sharing. I'm at work right now, but I'm hoping to take off early so I can go home and fluff two cats. I have the feeling they could use it as much as I do.


From Shorts to Sweaters

Back at Donna's parents tonight. And let me just say: Dialup sucks. 'Nuff said. (Bloody internet dark ages...)

Anyways, uneventful flight back. Many many good memories, fun time by all, it was great to relax and not even think of the day to day things that tend to stress one out (work, school, bills, schedules, etc.) and just enjoy the time we had together. We definitely need to take more week-long vacations - extended weekends just doesn't cut it for quality family time.

All told we have a little over 500 digital photos (that we kept, I know we deleted many that didn't come out) from 6 days at Disney (Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Animal Kingdom, MGM, and Downtown Disney/Marketplace) and 2 days at SeaWorld.

Last week, we were in shorts and sandals. Back home in WV, they're calling for snow the next two days. Ah, well, 'tis the season... Christmas is coming...

(BTW, did I mention my lovely wife is now a featured contributor?)