in orbit

I mostly talk about video games and the world wide web

Feb62012

Rest Assured, CSS Is Awesome!

Things that highly amuse me include: making the (famous?) CSS Is Awesome mug design in actual CSS:

css is awesome
Jan192012

I Was On CNN The Other Day

After you sit through what I assume will be a ~30 second unskippable ad you can jump forward to 1:50 or so to see me doing computer stuff (or you can watch the entire report if you want). I was actually working on a thing that randomly censored the search results on our site for the day (because SOPA/PIPA are the worst, but you already knew that). Also I didn't know the camera guy was recording me. It's pretty amusing to be the 'guy who is working in the background' on CNN though. I always knew I'd make it!

Pretty exciting, I guess! Also: happy 2012!

Jun212011

Computer

Computer

This is how you hack, right guys? Right? Yeah? Computer? Mirror, you have made my day.
May142011

I Made A Meat Boy Thing

Super Meat Boy is a game that appealed to me on a pretty fundamental level. It's a platformer focused on speed and crazy, well-timed jumps and has relatively little penalty for mistakes (you restart what is generally a pretty short level). It's basically the platform game I've always wanted. I was almost compelled to play it, even though at times it evoked high levels of frustration. The main thing about that, however, was even though I would mash my fleshy body into a saw blade (the same saw blade) dozens upon dozens of times I always knew why I had screwed up and I never blamed the game for being unfair. Not even once.

So with the release of the level editor I decided to see what I could come up with and I put together a five-level chapter called "Brownie Goes To Hell" which I'm fairly pleased with. It's not perfect but if you have the PC version of Super Meat Boy you should load up Super Meat World (which requires twenty bandages to unlock) and search for it in the chapters section, if you're so inclined. I hope you enjoy, and let me know what you think!
Apr42011

Spam Central. Population: Me

For a while the cursory spam checking I wrote for this blog back in 2005 (or so) worked, mostly due to the unbridled predictability of comment spammers and at least partially due to the complete obscurity of both this specific blog and the CMS it runs on. In particular I think the way it handled comments before I redesigned it was totally insane and no half-assed spambot parser could figure out what was going on.

But then I redid a bunch of front-end stuff, which included making comments easier to make (though the underlying system remained the same) and apparently that opened the floodgates. Also oddly enough I made an error in the javascript that made it impossible for real people to comment and any spambot that didn't first parse the javascript would have no issues posting. I'm not proud, though in my defense nobody told me and I never comment on my own blog unless it's a reply to someone.

Regardless, the ways of the old have been thrown away and I finally implemented akismet filtering (I had written a simple class for another project so I was mostly able to drop it in). So hopefully that is that. Oh and I also fixed that javascript error so if you want to leave a comment you totally can. I swear.
Feb122011

Gawking, Part II

As a brief follow-up to my critique of Gawker network's design I feel that I also ought to critique the thing I am perhaps more qualified to; namely the tech behind it all.

Along with Twitter (specifically 'new Twitter') and I'm told Facebook (I don't use it enough to really comment) Gawker has adopted the hash-bang syntax (see the #! in their URL? hash-bang) which basically lets Javascript manage the entire site. Any web developer worth his salt can obviously attest to how much of a good idea this notion is. Personally I consider myself to be a front-end developer (with a great degree of back-end experience) and even as a big fan of Javascript and all it's capabilities I would never entrust it to such a task. That would be like entrusting HTML to be consistent between Safari and IE6.

Others have covered the issue in greater detail than I, but suffice to say the type of framework that depends entirely on Javascript is not one I would prefer to depend on myself. The hash-bang syntax is a hack at best, and a potential disaster worst. When your single point of failure is Javascript of all things you may be in for a world of pain. Go ahead, disable JS and take a look at Gawker.com or new Twitter and compare it to any other site. Even JS-heavy sites like Google News work with it disabled. I can access an HTML-only version of GMail, a web app that doesn't even need to follow web conventions. It's something to think about.

Hopefully hash-bang does not become some kind of new standard, but you never can tell with these things. In the end leaving display of your site's content up to the client is a poor decision, at best. We'll see how things pan out in that regard. I won't actually get upset until the New York Times web site starts to use it.

Feb82011

Gawking

While the Gawker Media collection of sites have never really been my cup of tea for any number of reasons (which I won't get into) you really can't deny the popularity of their network in their respective industries. If you want some video game news out there you need to get it up on Kotaku. If you want the world to know about your new unreleased iPhone, leave it in a bar so Gizmodo can buy it off some guy. If you're a celebrity and want your inner-most secrets leaked to the public then a good bet is to contact someone at Gawker. I'm starting to get catty so I'll just move on, but you get the idea.

For once the news of the day for was not the content of one of these sites but rather how it is presented. Let me get this out of the way first: the new design, aesthetically, is a huge improvement over the old design. The old design was fairly hideous and wasted a lot of space. About the only things it did well were present a ton of the site's most recent content and keep some big-ticket articles of note up at the top. But now, out with the old, in with the new. The new Gawker sites look like a professionally designed iPad app. In fact that's the thing that most people seem to think of first when they see it, which was obviously the intended reaction.

That itself isn't bad, but sadly the site not only looks like an iPad app but seems to function as if it was intended to be one. This fact is made highly unfortunate due to the site being broken in mobile Safari. I don't have an iPad to test it in myself but it's more or less unusable on my iPhone, and I haven't heard much better from iPad owners.

Continue reading...

Jan222011

The Latest and Greatest

After a roughly two day hiatus this blog is back and (possibly) better than ever. That's actually partially a lie since for it to be better than ever I would have to get rid of this CMS (written in my foolish youth) but that's a project for another time.

Continue reading...

Jan32011

It's Time For Video Games!

This year, the year of our Lord, is the year I think I will blog about video games. Specifically I will blog about each one I play and each one I complete. These two lists will overlap, you see. That way I can look back and see what I've done with my life over the past year, and that will largely revolve around playing games. I'm sure there are better uses of my time, but hell if I can think of any of them. It's gonna be great! First update incoming!
Oct102010

Hey It's 10/10/10

Look, I just wanted to post something here. I don't really have much else to say.
Aug142010

Three Stories



You are alone. Or at least it seems that way at first glance. In front of you are grassy hills spattered with trees, and behind them lie some larger mountains and some odd looking stone structures. You turn around and see sand and a vast body of water. Is it an ocean or just a large lake? Difficult to say. You can see some islands off in the distance but not much else. You take in your surroundings and gradually realize that you're not actually alone. Up on the hills appear to be a few cows and a pig. They don't seem to be doing much, but it's nice to know living things inhabit this place.

Okay, now what? Better look around, right? Seems logical. You head towards the hills and mountains. You discover hidden alcoves and shallow caves. You meet more cows and pigs and even some sheep and ducks. What exactly is this place? You keep wandering and eventually stumble onto a much deeper cave. It's dark and scary inside. You can't even venture too far in before it becomes impossible to navigate in the dark. You turn around and head back to the outside. The sun is setting. That makes you nervous, though you're not sure why. Maybe you should take up refuge in this cave? That thought doesn't sit well with you, plus the cave is too dark anyway. Instead you dig up some dirt with your bare hands, just enough to make a small makeshift house in the side of a mountain. You leave only an opening big enough to walk out of.

Continue reading...

May52010

Chrome: Faster Than A Potato

I just kind of enjoy the Chrome ads in general:

Mar102010

CSS3: I Should Not Be

After hearing about it and knowing what it does and even seeing a few examples my curiosity finally got the better of me and I decided to mess around with some CSS3 stuff. For those of you who may be less web developer-y, it's just CSS but with some added wackiness that actually goes beyond just simple styling and into crazy territory. Of course it also goes into browser support territory and ends up being woefully inconsistent among most browsers (shocking, I kn0w), so it's ultimately useless right now unless you want to force people to use Chrome or Safari (which is not recommended).

Clicking 'Read More' will get you some quickly done examples of a couple of CSS3 properties, including some Webkit specific animation stuff. So if you want the full effect I recommend you read this post in Chrome or Safari or your Webkit nightly build of choice. Firefox 3.5 will work for some, but not all, and Internet Explorer will fail in every way. See how annoying that was?

Continue reading...

Feb22010

Video Games: The Revenge

I have some other stuff half written but not completed which includes my 'best of 2009' list (February isn't too late to put that out, right?) and one or two other random articles. Before I potentially get around to finishing those I would like to note that since my video games update I have actually completed Trine, Machinarium and Hitman: Blood Money from that list. I also played a good deal of Torchlight though I didn't beat it. On top of that I purchased Crysis and Crysis Warhead and beat both of them. So I'm pretty happy about that too! Still a lot of other stuff waiting to be checked out, but I never expected to finish all of that. Oh, all of those games are totally worth checking out, by the way. Blood Money in particular is pretty great. Video games!
Oct282009

I Hate Video Games

I've suddenly become overwhelmed with games I own (or am planning on buying) but haven't completed (or bought) yet. It's a lame ass problem to have for sure, but I can't recall this being much of an issue in my life before.
  • Red Faction: Guerrilla - I really want to finish this but I haven't had the time. Nevermind that I never played the second one (though the first one was great), I'm trying not to think about that. It's fun but kind of repetitive, but it also fuels my desire to be a gigantic asshole (in space).

  • Trine - I put off buying this even though I loved the demo and now it's $20 on Steam and I pretty much need to buy it.

  • Machinarium - I played the demo and I liked it a lot, plus I like the stuff these guys have done before this game. It probably won't take me too long to beat either, maybe I can put it off or something.

  • Hitman: Blood Money - Highly recommended and bought during a $5 Steam sale. I am pretty sure I will love this game, but it's also probably going to sit in my Steam list, uninstalled, for a while. Kind of like Beyond Good & Evil did.

  • Time Gentlemen, Please! and Ben There, Dan That - Also bought for $5 on Steam! I heard these are good and funny and I wanted to support the developers. I haven't had time! I think I might play these on my laptop over Thanksgiving (possibly along with Machinarium).

  • Torchlight - I'm not even sure why I want to buy this, but it sounds neat and everyone is heaping positive praise onto it. I've never played Diablo (which angers many, many people apparently) so I guess maybe I don't know what I'm getting myself into. I haven't bought this yet, but I probably will!

  • STALKER - I got this for $5 on D2D. I'm pretty sure I'll think it's great, but it's going to sit around for a while like Blood Money.

  • Brutal Legend - I have a copy but I haven't started it at all yet! I might hate 50% of it! I'll probably like the world design a ton though.

  • Uncharted: Drake's Fortune and Uncharted 2: Among Thieves - I don't even own a PS3 yet but I need to play these! The first one is like $28 or something so that's pretty cheap.

  • Super Metroid - Some day I'll play this game!
So there you go. Video games.
Oct22009

Chicag... Oh

For some reason I can't get enough of these Chicago reaction shots. It's like everyone in the city was suddenly dumped three seconds before they were about to propose. Not that I like to revel in other people's misery (okay, maybe a little) but it's all very humorous to me.

"I can't believe it," said Parker, whose hometown is the Chicago suburb of Naperville, Ill. "We sent Obama and Oprah. We had a lot of people behind our bid. I'm disappointed but it will be great to go to Rio."

Candace Parker in USA Today

I mean, how can you go wrong when you send Oprah somewhere? Oprah for fucks sake!









Sep92009

9/9/9

I can't wait to get a Dreamcast!

Also my stupid RSS feed shows updates without regard for the date, so I think my cheating is now public record. Fixed that at any rate, for the two people who subscribe (if even).
Sep92009

Pretty Awesome eXpo

I have a fairly substantial write-up coming where I outline all the totally sweet (and totally lame) games I played or watched someone play at PAX, but it turns out there are an asston of them and it takes a long time to write about an asston of games. Asston, by the way, is a real unit of measurement. I think it's British.

At any rate, I have had some thoughts about PAX kicking around, and after reading both Simon Carless' analysis on why PAX works and Steve Gaynor's blog post about game experience (which isn't related to PAX at all, but I think it applies) I feel I can pretty well put it into words, though perhaps only words that have already been spoken by those two.

Having never attended PAX before, I have to say I really enjoyed it. At the surface PAX is a pretty huge convention (2009's being the biggest yet), which would quickly bring up comparisons to E3 or San Diego Comic-Con (neither of which I have ever attended, though I know a lot about both). If you look at it from afar, and this is probably true for non-gamers, PAX is similar. A huge convention about video games and other geekery. Granted Comic-Con is spread out over a number of other things, but E3 seems like it would share a lot of similarities with PAX. This is not the case however.

I've heard PAX described as 'a large convention with a small convention feel' and that is pretty much the most accurate of a description you will get. Somehow a huge amalgam of gamers, both video and tabletop, have gathered in Seattle for one weekend solely due to promises of sweet games, cool events and of course game-related junk (free or otherwise). It's entirely a consumer show, catering to the people who, at the end of the day, make the video game industry run. Gamers. It's a pretty novel idea.

And PAX seems to be very genuine, which I think is the key to everything. There are areas where you can just go play games (PC, console, tabletop) if you don't want to take in any presentations or wait in any lines. You can preview some anticipated titles, or just goof around with friends. Or if you really want you can sit on a beanbag chair and play DS all day, because there are two or three hallways filled with the things. Can you imagine that happening at E3?

It's really something special to see it, really. Just tons and tons of people who love games and are there to enjoy themselves. It's something special, and I have to say in spite of what I thought, I really enjoyed myself. Pretty awesome.
Aug92009

Adventures in Gumbo

Ever wonder how to make gumbo? I know I have! Actually I'm not sure if I ever cared until recently, but I've always enjoyed a stewed meat and vegetable produce served over rice, so gumbo seems like the dish for me. It's somewhat time consuming but not too difficult to make. I don't usually cook for myself, but my bachelor weekend presented an opportunity for me to try it out. Who was I to pass it up? This will be lengthy and filled with images and probably pretty silly, but you might just learn how to make gumbo. Maybe.

Continue reading...

Aug52009

Holy Crap Stuff

If I may take a moment to stop talking about web browsers and video games (and analytics stats), I just need to go over the insanely hectic schedule that is my life over the next month and change. Realistically I'm not doing this for any other reason than to sort of put my thoughts into some tangible form that doesn't involve me thinking "HOLY FUCK" every 30 seconds. So I don't really need any sympathy (though I will accept it if you have any to give I suppose) and I'm not trying to weirdly impress anyone, though I can't imagine why anyone would think that since the aforementioned schedule involves two very nerdy conventions. Regardless!

So at current moment it is August 4th. The first thing on my list is Quakecon, which I am going to for the second time with the first one being in 2007. I mostly go to hang out with people from Game Fly and drink a lot, and it was pretty enjoyable (if not nerdy) in 2007. Anyway that's August 13 - August 16. The week I come back will likely be a very busy week at work, and the following weekend, August 22 - 23 will be spent packing because I am moving into a new apartment roughly four blocks away. The following weekend, August 29 - 20 is the weekend I am able to move into our new place. For a period of around a week I will have two apartments as the move out date of the current place is September 4 - 6. However this weekend is also the weekend of PAX, which I am attending for the first time ever (and mooching a hotel room, courtesy 2K Games) for some reason. And then when PAX ends I will be flying out to New York for a week to attend Elizabeth's big sister's wedding (which is actually taking place outside of Philly, but that's not entirely relevant).

Anyway now that I've laid all that out it doesn't seem that bad, which is exactly how I wanted to feel about all of this! Anyway that was uninteresting and blog-tastic so I will try and have something more interesting next time.
Aug32009

Hot Hammerhead Sister

I'm not normally one to post about search referrals, but when they're amusing, they're amusing, so what can you do? It also lets you see how few people get here via web searches, but whatever I never claimed to be popular:

KeywordsVisits% visits
hammerhead sharks736.84%
hot sister210.53%
canadian bills joke15.26%
Jul152009

Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0;)

I happen to have IE6 installed at work for CSS/Javascript testing purposes and also perhaps to make my life somewhat bizarre; I often bring my MacBook into work so I can test stuff in IE8. Word on the street today was that YouTube is dropping IE6 support. Indeed:



The final nail in the coffin? One can only hope. I've been dreaming of this day for almost a decade I think.
Jun122009

Blueberry Garden



At the surface Erik Svedäng's Blueberry Garden doesn't appear to be much. As far as games go, it's fairly stripped down. It comes across as a platformer, though one seemingly without a clear goal. the world is mostly white, with plants and random animals adding some color to the bleak world. Unlike a regular 2D platformer, however, your goal is not to move from left to right to get to the finish, but rather to explore and find out what your goal is.

The goal itself becomes fairly evident after your first playthrough which will almost certainly end with your demise. Find various large objects such as apples, pencils and top hats hanging around the world and stack them. Touching one of these objects (or standing next to it) will cause it (and yourself) to teleport to the stacking point. The higher your stack the more you can explore by jumping or flying over the game's geography. Some items are easy to collect; just walk over to them. Some take a bit of thinking to get to.

There first 'mission' of the game is to turn off a large faucet that is flooding the world. There's a water level to the entire thing and after a certain amount of time the water will begin to rise. Our player cannot survive underwater unaided for very long, so once the water raises above all the land (or your stack) the game sadly ends.

Helping you out during the game are various kinds of fruit. There are red berries of some sort, something resembling onions (though they grow on trees), some kind of star-shaped fruit and of course blueberries. Red berries and onions alter the terrain when you eat them. So the area you happen to be standing by can be warped by eating one. This adds an interesting element to the game since stacked items are positioned in the stack in the same position they are collected in. So if you have a pencil laying on its side it will appear that way in the stack, however if you tilt it 45 degrees by utilizing berries then it will appear in the stack tilted 45 degrees as well. Using this method it's possible to create a taller stack with fewer items.

The game's soundtrack, a simple, almost somber piano tune, adds immensely to the atmosphere of the game. Often kicking in when you leap from your stack and fly across the level, the sparseness of the world combined with the music is something of an experience. It's a very 'indie' experience that some may not notice or care for, but it made the game extremely relaxing and enjoyable for me.

At a meager five dollars on Steam (sorry non-Windows users, it's an XNA game), Blueberry Garden is certainly not a major purchase. Once you figure it out there's not much more to the gameplay (I have played it for a total of 1.7 hours according to Steam) but its mechanics are simple enough, and its atmosphere interesting enough that you may find yourself replaying it even after you've completed it.
Mar62009

Game Publisher Consistency

Dave Perry recently posted some game review scoring stats gleaned by an independent source in his blog. The list of 20 publisher (the full, unreleased list contains many more) shows the top and bottom 10 publishers based on their games' Metacritic scores which are of course a weighted average of review scores from various sites.

The results are interesting for a variety of reasons. First off the top score (held by Rockstar) is 19. The system works by awarding positive, negative or zero points based on review scores. In R*'s case they have 23 titles in Metacritic. Six of them are worth 2 points, ten worth 1 point each and three of those points are canceled out by three D-rated games (worth -1). If you're wondering why that only adds up to 19 games it's because four of them simply don't count for or against the score. This seems off to me, but we'll just run with it for now.

Regardless, R* has the top score clocking in at a whopping 19 points. The bottom score is held by Ubisoft with an impressive(ly depressing?) -148 points. For those of you keeping track that puts the median score around -65, which means that the vast majority of video games are shit.

My second issue with the data is how it doesn't quite seem 'right'. For instance look at the #3 and #4 ranked publishers. Blizzard, highly commended for their addictive, polished and downright beautiful games, has a score of 11. Microsoft comes very close to Bilzzard with 10 points. However looking only slightly deeper we see the apparent flaws in this system. Blizzard's 11 points come from a meager sevem titles, four for 2 points, three for 1 point each. Blizzard has zero games that didn't count or counted for negative points, which would seem to mean they put out only a few games (less than one per year) but those games are of very high quality. Conversely Microsoft's 10 points comes from a set of 110 games. They published 103 more games than Blizzard since 2000 but also earned one fewer point. So it would seem the distribution of points among Microsoft's games is nowhere near as good as Blizzard's. Indeed if you look at the breakdown the majority of MS published games fall in B-range with the rest mostly distributed below B and only eight (7% of total) getting an A score.

A perhaps more accurate gauge of how consistent a publisher is would be to look at the average score per game, and indeed this paints a much different picture of the stats:

PublisherAvg. Score
2D Boy2.00
Blizzard1.57
Stardock1.17
Rockstar0.82
Valve0.75
Telltale0.61
Bethesda0.28
Square-Enix0.11
Microsoft0.09
Nintendo0.06

This places Microsoft much lower than Blizzard by quite a bit. In fact MS's per-game average is below 0.1, as is Nintendo's (which is even lower). This is more or less intuitive based on the number of titles each publisher puts their name on. There are a bunch of AAA titles (Gears of War, Halo etc for MS, Mario Galaxy, Twilight Princess et al for Nintendo) that bring up the overall score enough that the publisher remains consistent in the eyes of the calculation.

Keep in mind that the maximum possible average (obtained by 2D Boy) is 2.0, so the fact that Blizzard is hovering near 1.6 is very impressive. Speaking of 2D Boy, it's also worth noting that they should probably be dropped from the list entirely because their publishing efforts consist of two titles; the PC and Wii versions of World of Goo. Both of those scored very well but with such a small sample consisting of what is realistically only a single game doesn't seem to be statisically relevant.

And so, if you were looking for the most consistent publisher in video games that would be Blizzard, as one might expect. However I'd hesitate to suggest these stats, or even Metacritic in general would be a good gauge of much of anything. Essentially throwing away an entire set of scores for each publisher (the C-level games) as well as not weighting anything in any significant way based on the volume of games makes it suspect. However I'm sure there is some useful info to be gleaned from Metacritic, though I'm not going to hold my breath thanks to arbitrary score scales or bizarre scoring systems that many game review sites use. All that we cab really gather from this data is that there are a lot of games out there and the majority of them are not very good, and I confess I already knew that before we started. Video games!
Feb242009

Safari 4 Web 2.0 Beta Podcast Blogosphere

In an effort to remain consistent, I'm going to write a quick update on the release of Safari 4, or rather Safari 4's Beta, as seems to be the new software custom.



Weirdly enough a good portion of Safari 4's UI seems to have taken a page from Chrome, though it's obviously stylized to Apple's standard (which is perhaps more appealing than Chrome's look). In fact the layout of the browser is almost an exact mirror of Chrome's, with a very minimalistic navigation bar containing front/back buttons, the URL bar and two settings buttons. Safari opts to have the refresh/stop button in the URL bar similar to the iPhone version of Safari whereas Chrome places is next to the back/forward buttons. The tabs in both browsers are at the top of the application in lieu the standard windows application header.

Also in what is perhaps an answer to numerous complaints, the tabs in Safari, at least when using the Windows Classic theme, utilize the color scheme and look of Windows rather than duplicating what the program looks like on the Mac.

Also, in keeping with my update during Chrome's release the Javascript engine, a very important feature of any browser, has been reworked.

Running the same speed test (which, again, is by no means any sort of official benchmark) I found the old version of Safari I had (3.2) took 300ms to run. The new version has improved upon that quite a bit as it completed the test in a scant 64ms. For reference sake, Chrome is still much faster (version 1.0.154.48 runs it in 28ms) and Firefox 3.0.6 is much slower (clocking in at 258ms).

Other interesting aspects of Safari 4 are nice, but largely cosmetic. Apple's take on Chrome's 'Most visited' page speaks volumes about the two companies. While Google's version is simple and utilitarian, Apple's accomplishes the same thing with a good degree of style thanks to some simple graphical additions. Your 'Top Sites' are displayed as if on a curved surface, complete with a reflection. It's gratuitous and perhaps unnecessary, but looking at it next to Chrome's simple, flat version is almost jarring.

Also not to be outdone, Safari implements its own version of iTunes' coverflow for the browser history and bookmarks. Instead of a simple link you get a bunch of screenshots that you can flip through. I'm not entirely sure what I think about that as it seems mostly unnecessary for such a thing to exist, but it doesn't really hinder the browser, and you can still use the bookmark list if you like (you can even shrink the coverflow graphics so you can't see them any more).

Mostly I'm excited about the Javascript thing though. I'm really looking forward to see what happens with Firefox 3.1 since it seems they've now stumbled their way to third place in that regard.
Feb62009

Tweet This

Yo bro, I heard you like to blog so I put a blog in your blog so you can blog while you blog.

Fuck. Anyway I finally made a Twitter account. Twitter is stupid but also oddly fun. I take back whatever I said about it. I'll probably add it to the sidebar some day too. It's a blog within a blog!
Jan212009

Internet Site One

With the inauguration of Barack Obama comes the most immediate result of his presidency, the White House web site. It's interesting because Obama is really the first technically inclined president. The first we've had who has embraced the digital age. Clinton was 46 when he was elected in 1992, back when the internet was very, very young. Whitehouse.gov didn't actually launch until 1994 and was sparse at best. One or two (very 90s) redesigns followed including probably the most memorable, at least to me, though I couldn't tell you why.

George W. Bush was elected in the year 2000 and sworn in in January of 2001. Shortly after a horrible thing was put up to replace the minimalist Clinton-era site, though it was improved upon from time to time.

After the September 11, 2001 attacks a newer version was put up, though archive.org is missing anything between July and September of 2001, so it may have gone up sooner. That version, while not overly great by today's standards, was reasonable for 2001. Tabular layout, half-assed use of CSS and your old friend Verdana.

The 2001 version of the site received some tweaks during its tenure as First Web Site, but mostly kept the same look in a post-9/11 world. The last version I linked to remained the president's site through his 2004 reelection and up until early 2007 when a new version was put up. This new one, although better looking, was mostly just a restyling of the previous version. It was slightly wider but still had a tabular layout, which while acceptable in 2001 was a crime in 2007.

And now we have the current site, which was put up at almost the very moment the clock struck noon in Washington (elected presidents become president at noon on the third Tuesday of January regardless of whether or not they take the oath, which is mainly a formality). So now we have a site that looks a lot like Barack Obama.com, probably because it was designed by the same guy. There's a news ticker/slideshow at the top with crossfades, lots of little details and the site is remarkably standards compliant (stupid image borders). Also I should mention, since I've been harping on it, that the layout is entirely CSS driven. There is a single table but it's used to keep a form in line (which isn't perfect, but I can accept it). It's actually a nice looking, competent, well designed government web site, which is saying something since there are some pretty terrible ones out there. Okay that last one I mainly threw in because the URL is hilarious (and horrifying).

At any rate, while I may not be overly excited to finally have the word 'blog' be associated with the President of the United States, I think Obama's technical initiatives as well as him being the first president to utilize things like 'computers' and 'e-mail' at least shows some signs of hope for the future. Does it mean that the government will finally stop being baffled by technological wonders such as MP3 players and video games? Probably not immediately, but the chances of congress understanding things like DRM and government-sanctioned censorship of violent games and why they may not necessarily be the best thing for the American people may not be as far away as I once thought.

So how about that? A little hope from a simple web page. Promises as advertised. Let's see what else this new guy can do.
Jan82009

Thumbs Up Something, or GOTY.cx

For those who listen to the 'cast of the Idle Thumbs variety, they've finally put up their Games of the Year, deftly named the GOTY.cx in a flash of brilliance. Or grossness. Anyway the picks by Chris, Nick and Jake are somewhat expected if you keep up with the podcast, so I suggest the reader GOTYs for some insightful, hilarious and unconventional picks.

Ranging from GTA4 to Mega Man 9 to Imagine Party Babyz the list has it all! Also a couple of my own hastily written reviews can be seen on pages 2, 4 and 5, written as such since I thought they were casting a GOTY pod (Jake works the same place I do, so I usually know when he's leaving to record one) and I wrote my email in about 15 minutes. They weren't doing that at all though, so I could have maybe written something more readable and with less use of the word 'retarded'.

I'd like to have my own list of sweet 2008 games on this blog thingy like I did last year, but I haven't played some of the games I feel I'd want to add to the list, so if I manage to finish them up in the next month I might do that, but otherwise just take the Thumbse.cx list since it's pretty good. Except for Space Giraffe. Fuck that game.
Dec162008

I'm Dreaming of a White Elephant

Hey it's the yearly Shacknews White Elephant thingy where a bunch of nerds on the internet give another nerd something hilarious or possibly something totally useless! Either way it's kind of fun. Sadly I have been slacking on my gift giving this year (though I plan to remedy that soon) but I weirdly enough received mine from someone I actually know in real life. How crazy is that? Anyway he sent me some items which may or may not include a large, pink dildo and some tampons. Kind of takes the meaning of 'better to give than receive' to a whole other level.
Oct112008

What's Happening 2: The Happening

So for those who may not have known, my domain (one of them anyway), vect.org (don't click that, it doesn't go anywhere) was hosted on a very old Linux desktop machine cobbled together from old, abandoned computers and parts I bought on eBay for cheap. Literally the only new part in it was a 64MB stick of memory. The hard drive I believe is now headed towards 10 years old, and god knows how old the rest of it is (though I can assure you the hard drive is the oldest piece). Anyway, for the last six or so years it's served as both a very crappy web host as well as a firewall/router/gateway machine for those who live in the vicinity of it.

Of course I moved out of my parents' house in aught six (as an aside I can't believe it's only been two years since that; it seems a lot longer somehow) and when your server administrator is a 52 year old woman with limited computer knowledge and a 58 year old man with very little patience for computers, well, you apparently end up with a computer that gets rebooted every other week. Amazingly none of that fried the server itself and I am told it still exists and still chugs along.

What it does not do is share internet access, which sort of defeats the fundamental purpose of the thing. Myself now being 2,944 miles from the computer (that's what Google Maps tells me) makes it a bit difficult to do tech support, and so my advice was to buy a router.

So that went well but it turns out that that machine also hosted its own DNS (both primary and secondary servers), which of course spells disaster when it is not connected to the internet. However Mike, of not myself fame was already hosting my blog to begin with and offered to pick up the DNS of vect.org. So now this site actually works and will probably continue to work. If you used any other vect.org services (and I know one or two people who read this may be curious) they probably won't be back in the immediate future, though I do have a spare computer that I had initially planned to be a vect.org replacement (and then some sort of media/gaming computer, and then sort of a waste of space) and it may yet fulfill its destiny.

In other news I said goodbye to Verizon for the first time ever and said hello to AT&T after I was tempted by the magic of the iPhone and its "whole internet". This is actually the very first Apple product I've owned, and it's pretty slick to say the least. I recommend it (or the iPod Touch if you have no need for a phone) to anyone who likes to have a single device dominate their life. For example you don't ever need to know where you are going when you have one... or how to get there. Also if you ever wanted to get your e-mail whenever you wanted (for example I just took the dog out to the bathroom and read my latest Google Alert) and never ever have any downtime from it, well, there you go. Granted many people already did that prior to the iPhone, but not in such a stylish way. Also having played around with Blackberries and Windows Mobile phones I will also put it out there that the iPhone's UI is far, far better.

And that's all I have to say about that.
Sep42008

A Browser Named Chrome

So, Google Chrome is out. Google's shot at making their very own browser. It's an interesting take on a browser. I'm actually using it right now on my laptop which is a 1.73GHz Celeron M with 1GB of memory because it's a bit faster than Firefox 3 and seems to, on average, use less memory.

As a browser it's surprisingly minimalist. It takes the Safari route by not using the OS look and feel for the application. When I first checked out Safari for Windows I was annoyed by that, but I've since softened. My favorite media player is still Winamp, and generally any other media player has its own skin. In fact I strangely prefer it when they do; media players such as Foobar or VLC look like ass. So thinking about why a browser would annoy me but a media player does not... I don't know. Maybe years of using Steam have taken their toll, but Chrome's non-standard look has entirely failed to bother me.

Anyway aside from being a magical blue thing that sort of reminds me of XP's horrible default theme the UI is amazingly minimalistic. There's the usual minimize, maximize and close buttons in the upper right, but there's no title bar or brazen display of the application name. Indeed only a very tiny 'Google' appears next to the buttons on the right when the window is not maximized. When maximized the browser makes maximum use of space, with only tabs and the address bar filling up non- web site real estate. No border and no title bar at all.

The options are few. You can view history and downloads only in their own tabs (as opposed to the sidebar most browsers use), and there are some minor settings you can change, but nothing is really customizable. It's the essence of a browser, really. There's no extra stuff. No insane security settings, no extensions, no custom buttons or adjusting the size or order of the interface elements. Even the status bar at the bottom only shows up when it needs to and takes up the least amount of space necessary before quickly fading back away.

Another argument entirely is if or not this is a good thing. There are arguments for both sides, obviously, but regardless of that Google was successful in building something that's purely web browser and nothing more.

Perhaps the most compelling thing about Chrome, however (at least to web developers such as myself) is the new Javascript engine, V8. The thing is incredibly fast. It's sort of hard to figure out how fast it is first-hand since most web sites have their Javascript fairly optimized. I came across this Javascript test which essentially just runs a bunch of fairly common JS functions 1 million times each. While by no means any sort of official benchmark, it's a pretty good gauge of how quickly browsers run JS. At work I have a bunch of browsers installed so I ran it through each one with these results:

Chrome: 37ms
Firefox 3: 223ms
Firefox 2: 587ms
Opera: 261ms
Safari: 254ms
IE6: 705m

I don't have IE7 installed on my work machine, but I would think it as well as IE8 would put up similarly sad numbers to IE6. IE also limits runaway scripts by the number of times a loop iterates rather than execution time of the script (or actually what seems like a combination), which causes a large number of errors to display when you try and execute those scripts. While there's a marked improvement from Firefox 2 to Firefox 3, Chrome clearly blows everything else out of the water. In fact Chrome is able to execute 1 million parseInt functions (probably the most intensive Javascript function) in less time than the average of all those functions in any other browser.

As if this wasn't exciting enough news, Firefox 3.1 (due out sometime later this year) will have its very own Javascript engine rewrite called 'TraceMonkey' (a name I find hilarious). Not only that but developer benchmark comparisons show TraceMonkey is up to 1.28 times faster than V8. Now of course this is only a couple of milliseconds we're talking about (29ms compared to 37ms, for example), but it's still impressive. Not only that but both of these engines are (or will be) open source, meaning other browsers can pick them up. I don't expect Internet Explorer to start using TraceMonkey or V8 any time soon, but Opera and Safari picking up one or the other certainly couldn't hurt.

I guess, really, what this comes down to, is that the browser market is finally moving somewhere again. There was a huge stagnation period where nothing was really better than IE6. Mozilla was the only real competition, but most people felt that was too bloated. Firefox (or Phoenix as it was called back then) aimed to change that by removing all excess stuff from Mozilla and eventually it paid off. During the period of Firefox's rise there wasn't really any actual competition and it consisted entirely of Firefox chipping away at IE6's market share. Slowly. Very slowly.

And then recently (within the last two years or so) there was a resurgence. Opera stopped charging for their browser, Microsoft finally released a new version of IE (though IE7 is sort of the WindowsME of Internet Explorers) and has another one in the pipeline. Safari was released for Windows, and now Google, champions of the entire internet, have their own browser. It's about as exciting as browsers can get. There's competition in the browser market again, and that's never a bad thing for anyone.
Aug232008

Hey, this works again!

The downside to hosting your own nameserver is that when your server's IP changes your domain totally fails until you get the god damned IP. Also using your parents cable modem across the country as said host with a really old computer... and when your dad decides his computer doesn't work he turns the server on and off. Anyway.
Jun292008

Firefox 3 is a Fat Jerk

If you happened to be here since Firefox 3's release you may have seen the sidebar pushed all the way to the bottom below the content. Firefox 3 seems to have modified the behavior of left/right floating divs so that every so often divs that aligned correctly in not only Firefox 2 but every other major browser suddenly did not. I don't know why exactly, but adding a wrapper div fixed it. Also, as if it weren't obvious, I decided to change the design again because I was sick of the last one already. This one is much better. Fun fact: it's the first design for this blog to use more than one image. The way of the future.
Jun152008

What The Fuck Did I Just Order?

Sometimes I wish I could moblog (mainly when I am drunk I wish this), so I could post images like this:


I ordered a beer earlier tonight called a 'Kwak' and this is what they gave me. Crazy Dutch beers.
May302008

A Tale of Two E-Mails

I seldom use the 'article' feature of my blog because I never have much that can't be stuck into a standard update. However, I feel that I finally have a story that may be at least partially worthy of this feature. Behold, A Tale of Two E-Mails! It's a story of uh, some guy who thought that my e-mail address was his for a couple months. I shit you not. Check it!
May262008

Gaming Moments

A recent thread on Shacknews posed the question of favorite gaming moments. To me this is a pretty interesting list or concept, because it removes lists of what usually encapsulate entire games and brings it down to sections or moments of games which, as a whole, may not be as excellent as some individual moments.

Due to the list being full of spoilers for games you may or may not have played, I'm going to put the article a click away.

Continue reading...

May12008

Greg Stephens of Nottingham, UK

So here's an amusing anecdote:

Marmite is a genius

After me saying about being unable to get a copy of GTAIV, he sent the "preorder phone text" to my mobile for me to try and get a copy.

So on the way home I walked into a game, showed the text and said "I've just got the message about my preorder, I've been unable to find my receipt though" to which they responded "You must be Greg Stephens, you're the last one to get your preorder", to which I replied "Yes, yes I am"

So I now have my copy of GTA IV, because Marmite is AWESOME.

From this Shacknews comment. Greg Stephens of Nottingham, UK is gonna be pissed!
Mar312008

Tomatoes Are Filthy

I am not sure what is going on with this tomato, but frankly I am disgusted!



Good old organically grown food.
Mar192008

Fancy Pants

Sup guys? I figured three or however many years that old design was around was enough so I made this one. It works in Firefox, IE7 and Safari but I can't test it in IE6 until I get into work tomorrow but screw those guys anyway.

On a totally unrelated note, Smash Bros. Brawl is pretty god damned awesome. You should buy a copy!
Mar82008

Life Is Not Simple

I don't often update this blog with updates about my life in spite of it being a personal web log. I guess I never feel anyone would be interested in my problems because they are my own and I don't put much stock in my own thoughts being overly interesting to anyone. I don't find them overly interesting myself, for whatever reason, so I keep them to myself and try to work out any problems on my own. While this tends to work when there's a clear-cut answer that often has a few minor drawbacks (getting a new job, for example, often comes with a raise and more experiences, at the cost of letting go of something comfortable and familiar), it tends to fail horribly when you are put in a situation which has no correct answer.

I apologize in advance for this update, just know it's full of crazy bullshit (as the above paragraph might indicate) before you decide to read more. That's all the warning I can give you.

Continue reading...

Feb242008

The Internet is Magic

Stories like these always warm my heart:

Which may be why Montgomery looked at himself — a 45-year-old former marine with a reddish mustache, bulging gut, and disappearing hair — and decided to become someone else. That person, he wrote on Dynabrade stationery that he stored in his toolbox at work, would be an 18-year-old marine named Tommy. He would be a black belt in karate, with bullet scars on his left shoulder and right leg, thick red hair, and impressive dimensions (6'2", 190 pounds, and a "9" dick"). Emboldened by his new identity, Montgomery logged onto Pogo in the spring of 2005 and met TalHotBlondbig50 — a 17-year-old from West Virginia, whose name, he later learned, was Jessica.

For the full bizarre story (and trust me that paragraph is only the tip of the iceberg), check out the article on Wired (it's many months old, but it's new to me!)
Feb142008

White Like Me

Stuff White People Like may just be the greatest web site in the long and storied history of the Internetweb. Hilarious and even awesomely painful at times, I don't think you will find a better collection of suggestions with which to ensnare and catch your very own white person.
Jan102008

Elephants of White

So every year Shacknews posters do a White Elephant. This year I got some shit from Iceland and the dude I had was from the land down under. Anyway he finally got it and seemed to enjoy. I sent him my old DS and a bunch of games I did not pay for (hooray for being generous, 2k Games) and a weird cactus shot glass I bought for like $1.75. You can see the pictures in his shackpost or view the gallery if you like.
Dec222007

Amber Alert: Items 72 and 63

So after, what, over two hours of sifting through Google, finding old updates and putting them back in manually and then adjusting their date and id number I have pretty much restored my blog. You know, in case you were worried. The only discrepancies are items 72 and 63, which still remain at large and perhaps do not even exist.

The way this blog works is if you delete an update it doesn't reindex anything so the deleted id is essentially lost forever unless you manually assign it yourself. So it's conceivable they were deleted for whatever reason. With #72 this is very likely since updates 71 and 73 were made 24 hours apart. 63 is a little more of a mystery since there is a six day gap between 62 and 64, however update 64 pertains to the death of my grandfather so it's pretty plausible I had something written and posted and then deleted it. Who knows though?

At any rate I'm pretty happy that I managed to recover everything (or as close as possible anyway) and I am now going to get a database dump so I don't have to do this god damned crap ever again (or at least not for nearly 50 updates).

And thusly the saga ends.
Dec222007

Hey Guys, I'm A Moron: The Sequel

So update on how stupid I am. Mike, aka Manc, aka Mr. Noxel, aka Mancubus.net, otherwise known as the guy who hosts this blog found an old backup dating back to September 2006. So a bunch of updates were restored. I have still lost roughly a year of my life, but I guess keeping some stuff is better than nothing (I am off to scour Google and other various places to see if I can salvage any recent updates and enter them manually, oh joy!). Anyway, let this be a lesson to you. When you are writing some new blog software, make sure you get the table prefix correct instead of using your existing ones for the new test database. Ugh.
Dec202007

Well, Shit

Thanks to me being totally awesome I accidentally deleted the entire table that contained all my updates. It's not too bad because it was mostly filled with bullshit and also bullshit, but it's sort of like two years of work is now gone. I will find out if there are any backups but I am not holding my breath.

Of all the tables to accidentally write over this was by far the best choice. Ugh.
Oct122007

Orange You Glad?

Yes, I seriously just made that pun. At any rate, Orange Box came out on the 10th, which includes Half-Life 2: Episode 2, Portal and Team Fortress 2. They are all awesome in different ways, and I can't believe I only had to spend $45 to get all three. In celebration I've reviewed Episode 2 and taken a bunch of screenshots to go with it. It's also impossible to convey how great Portal is with just still screenshots, but I think this comes pretty close:

Aug262007

Relax... No Seriously, I DARE YOU

And now we have the things nightmares are made of! Okay so back in like, I don't even know, probably October or something, myself and dahanese decided it would be awesome to take a vacation this summer! Yay. So after weighing our options and expenses we decided on a resort called Sandals in Jamacia (Negril, to be specific, a town about 90 minutes west of Montigo Bay). All is well, right? Anyway it's scheduled for August 14th - 19th. Great. The night before we're both really tired so we set dual alarms for 5:30am in order to catch our 9am flight with Air Jamacia.

Only her alarm is set for 5:30pm, and mine is set for 5:30am but not actually set to 'on'. Big problems. We wake up at 6:30am in a complete panic and rush to the airport as quickly as possible. We get there at maybe 7:30am and are eventually told that our flight is full and since we missed the window to get on our flight (which we have paid for and even have seat assignments) then we're pretty much fucked.

Continue reading...

Jul82007

07/07/07

I just wanted to update because I also updated on 06/06/06 and I've got nothing without consistency. Sadly this blog did not exist in 2005, so I missed 05/05/05, but that's okay I guess. See you on August 8th next year for another guaranteed useless update!

Edit: Hey I just realized the system time of noxel.net is one day slow so this update appears to be on the 6th making me look retarded! But it's really the seventh, I'm not insane!
cyb@lucas:~$ date
Fri Jul  6 20:55:51 CDT 2007

--

cyb@vector:~$ date
Sat Jul  7 21:57:51 EDT 2007
(For those not 'in the know', vector is my server, lucas is the one this blog be hosted on) Damnit!

(new edit: Has been repaired and I updated the date of this update too woo)
Jul22007
Jun132007

A Moment of Silence Please


(1917 2007)

Don Herbert, aka Mr. Wizard, died yesterday from bone cancer. I actually thought the guy was already dead, but I used to watch his show at like 6am every day before middle school (that or Transformers and sometimes Captain Planet) and a bunch before that. Apparently it ran from 1983 until 1990 and reruns aired until 2000. Anyway, thanks Mr. Wizard! Without you I'd never have seen a vacuum cleaner suck grape juice through a straw up to the 7th floor of some building, or learned how to make a match box land on its side when you drop it... and something about friction. Okay so I don't remember all of what the show taught, but I remember enjoying it, and that's what counts, I think. Adeiu, good sir! Thanks for dropping the science.
May92007

New Pants

As you perhaps might know, the CMS on this site is entirely built by me because I apparently have some sort of weird affinity for reinventing the wheel since there are a large variety of CMSs that do what this one does and probably more. However it's a fun project and I enjoy figuring out new ways to attempt to block spammers, thus far the biggest hurdle to not using a tried and true system like Word Press or something.

At any rate, I have been making a fuckload of changes to it over the last few months and I finally reached a point where I decided to roll them out to a non-test site. I think the biggest change is currently the search function, which is not too shabby because I make the database server do all the work.

That's all for now. I have an entirely too long tirade about Spider-Man 3 that I will post some day, but I need to finish writing it first. Yes it's very long and nerdy.
Mar302007

Hey Look At My Stuff!

So my iRiver Clix was delivered to me yesterday while I was at work. It's a tiny ass device, but it's pretty slick. Plays music, movies, displays text files, plays (basic) flash games, FM radio, image viewer (including display of album covers)... only 2GB of space, but I already have a 20gb player, so I'm not worried about that. Even though the screen is tiny (2.2" wide according to the specs), I have been randomly encoding shit to play on it until the novelty wears off. Last night I ripped Spider-Man 2 from my DVD and now I'm watching it on this thing for whatever reason. I have a 26" LCD TV, but whatever I can't put that in my pocket!

Anyway I'm bored, so here's a stupid low-quality YouTube video of Spider-Man 2 playing on it!



I'm done for now.
iRiver Clix

Mar272007

Freedom...

My offers completed! My free thing is in the mail! Woo! Stay tuned. Also spammers are running rampant on my blog. This greatly upsets me. Time to write some kind of comment management system. Joy.
Mar262007

Freedom Isn't Free

I feel like after getting a 'free' MacBook (it ended up costing me around $175 after I forgot to cancel one offer) I should be done with this crap, but no. No. ShopFreePay (which, by the way, is a really sketchy name for a fairly sketchy site, and should have been a warning sign) is a site following the same premise. Sign up for some offers and get free shit. Sort of. I decided, what the fuck, why not try it? So I figure why not try to get an iRiver Clix because it's cool to hate iPods and I like to be a nonconformist or something stupid like that (actually in reality I would rather not deal with any program aside from explorer.exe to drag files to my mp3 player). Great. So I do two offers. I buy some Jack Bauer t-shirt and get a DVD on how to master Windows (woo!). Done. Final offer? This is harder, but I sign up for a credit card. Once you get approved you get credit. I am instantly approved but I do not have credit for this offer well over a week later. Fine. Next stop, Lunarpages, some web hosting thingy. I do not need web hosting. I signed up on Friday but I haven't heard anything. Where is my free shit you son of a bitch!

Anyway, I think the moral of the story is that, uh, I'm kind of stupid. Maybe I'll have this thing soon. Lunarpages isn't that bad though, and I think I may use it for freelance shit (which I suddenly have been doing recently) rather than draining poor Manc's server.

Speaking of freelance, writing a password authentication system in Javascript was fun. I died a little on the inside doing that one. True story.
Mar92007

It Just Works

If you ever wanted to see entirely too many images of a Macbook Pro coming out of its box, then boy are you in luck!

Total cost (excluding cab fare to get to the UPS place): $167.82
MacBook Pro

Feb272007

Laptop, More Like Craptop

You know I'm having a really awesome day so far. Sarcasm. Anyway, I just dropped my laptop off somewhere on the west side because the stupid 'A' key doesn't work right. Roughly 50% of the key presses actually cause it to register an a, and only if you hit it fairly hard. It's annoying and lots of words have an 'A' in them so I can't live with it. It's under warranty though, and the dude said it would take a week to fix maybe, so here's hoping. It will be awesome with a fully functional keyboard.

In other laptop news, I hate Shacknews for getting me into this god damned free MacBook thing. The deal is (or was anyway, it's no longer offered fixed because Josh Clark says I am wrong), you sign up for 18 stupid things and they give you a free MacBook Pro. After you sign up for and wait for verification and cancel all the offers (which all sign you up for some kind of subscription where they charge you $20 or more per month until you call them up and cancel) you end up spending around $150, though if you got in early it was possible to spend around $40. So all told I guess it's a decent deal, but I am highly pissed off, but I won't reiterate my angst because I suppose I am getting what I deserve. It's way more headache than just going out and buying a MacBook, but I also don't have to spend $2000, so I guess it's some kind of horrible, horrible trade off. I will reserve full assessment for a later date, however.
Feb132007

Working Stiff

Ha ha, stiff.

Oh right, anyways, since I like moved out and shit (see how I relate this to old updates, that's called a callback) I've been embarking upon a roughly 90 minute commute to work every day. That's a 15 minute walk/subway ride (or a 20 minute walk to the train station when it's not too freezing to walk 20 blocks) followed by a 40 - 50 minute train ride, followed by a 20 minute bus ride for $2 or a 10 minute (or less) taxi ride for $5. All told I was spending more than $200 a month on train tickets, plus every time you ride the subway or the bus it's $2... yeah, that had to stop.

Anyway, I got a job at the NY Observer which is a fancy-schmancy New York City political/arts paper. The building is located exactly four streets and four avenues from my apartment which amounts to a ten minute walk. Also I will be making $7500 more a year than I do now, though it's $10k more than I was making last year at this time. In other words, money hats!

The job itself is PHP/mySQL programmer, which is sweet, because it means I won't have to do horrible, horrible tech support any more. Not that I don't love when people freak out about their computer beeping frantically only to find that the keyboard tray is positioned too high and the ESC key is trapped and thusly causing the computer to freak the fuck out during POST. Yes that actually happened. Twice. To two different people. Anyway, as much as I enjoy that shit, it'll be nice to, you know, not have to do that. Also I won't have to fix printers any more. I loathe printers.

Anyway, I'm being brought on to revamp their site because it's old and busted and they want to bring it into web-o-sphere 2.0 or some such. Blogs and wikis and uh, podcasts? Buzzwords. Should be fun!
Jan252007

Portland!

So for my second ever business trip I'll be headed to grand old Portland, Oregon on the west coast. It's a smaller convention that we run for our members (as opposed to BookExpo, which we just attend). The actual convention is only two days (Feb 1st and 2nd), but I'll be there Jan 31st and I'll spend most of the 30th and 3rd flying to and fro. Sweet.

I just realized that I've never been west of Chicago before. Weird. Should be fun though. On Friday night I'll even be going out for some drinks (and apparently 'scotch eggs') with some shackers. Woo! That makes me look forward to the trip a little more, because I honestly didn't really want to go. I don't think it will be all that bad though. I was sneaky and my flight in is really late, so I got out of a portion of the setup on the 30th.

As with my crazy trip to Washington DC last summer, I will probably provide daily or semi-daily updates, perhaps even with pictures. Everyone loves pictures, right? Naked pictures? I'll see what I can do... maybe.
Jan82007

New Year

The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess is really good. Like, it's the sort of game I'd normally hate what with not too much action and a lot of roaming and stuff, but somehow Zelda games are always done in just the right way that I love them. Minish Cap on GBA was another great example. I may have to check out the N64 titles whenever they show up on Virtual Console. Maybe the Game Cube ones, but that would require spending more than $10. We'll see I guess.

Ever had a really awesome story that you couldn't tell? Not necessarily awesome, but I think from an outside perspective it would be pretty awesome. I don't have many stories, so I sort of like having them. Like that time in college I accidentally got super duper shitfaced because my friend and I kept buying shots for these two hot (or at least, to my inebriated self they were hot) chicks who would make one every time you did it. I love that story, even though I look like a complete moron for most of it. Maybe if I hadn't been to another bar before that one it would have been okay. Ah well.

That was kind of random, so I'm going to switch back to gaming because I am a giant dork. 2007 has some cool stuff coming. We've got BioShock, Half-Life 2: Episode 2/Team Fortress 2/Portal for PC (BioShock on 360 as well, but I kind of hate playing shooters on a console, also note how I write BioShock instead of Bioshock because that's what I was told is correct). GTA4 will be out on 360 at the same time it's out on PS3, so for once I don't have to wait a bajillion years for it to come out on a platform I already own. Metroid Prime 3 comes out on the Wii, and hopefully will not have controls that I hate (I still need to play the first two). There's also Mario Galaxy for Wii. On DS I'm sure there will be some fun stuff I don't know about, but the new Zelda for DS (Phantom Hourglass) should be neat. There's also potentially a Wii-exclusive Zelda, but nobody knows for sure right now.

I think I need to see Children of Men. Also, did anyone else notice that not a single Jim Carrey movie came out in 2006? However he's starring in what looks to be a crazy-ass Joel Schumacher movie called The Number 23. I don't even know what to say about this, but it looks like it could be awesome. It may even make me forgive Joel for certain abominations which names I dare not speak. Not even Keifer's awesome role in Phone Booth could make me do that.

Holy crap, speaking of Keifer, season six of 24 starts in a week! I'm super excited because my life has been devoid of Jack Bauer kicking ass and yelling loudly lately. Especially since I watched seasons 1 - 4 while season 5 was going on so I had an overload of Bauer for a while there and then when season five ended my life was strangely empty. Hopefully this season is good. I'm not looking for season two good, just be better than season three. That's my only requirement. By the way the order of awesome, in case you're interested, is 2 > 1 > 5 > 3 > 4. One and five are very close though, but one gets props for setting the bar. Two is so awesome I can't even imagine. Three is decent, or at least it has a bunch of good episodes with some not so great ones sprinkled throughout. Four is mostly crappy the whole way through, because it tries way too hard. THERE'S NO TIME!!

And now before I ramble on any longer I realize that I need to get ready for work and I am wasting my morning updating my stupid blog. Oh how I hate that word. Blog. Blog. Bloggin'! Maybe I'll be on CNN if I say something political. I am, of course, a member of the exclusive Blogosphere. I can't believe I capitalized that. Or even said it. Anyway, impeach Bush! Woo!
Dec222006

Ninja, Vanish!

So last night I went to Ninja NYC for my birthday (which is on the 24th) and had a super awesome and also delicious time! You can read all about it if you want! There are pictures!
Dec112006

In Memoriam

My grandfather died this morning.

I was leaving the apartment to catch the train to work when I got a call from my dad. It was 7:46am. He never calls me that early. He has no reason to. I knew what the call was before I answered. I had been waiting for it for probably two years now. Every time the phone rang late at night in our house, or a got a call from my mom in the middle of the work day I expected this news.

They called him Pop. Everyone called him that, not just his kids, but his friends, the people he worked with. His grandkids called him Pop-pop. About two years ago when he was coming back from Florida with his daughter and her friend he came down with pneumonia and had to be put in the hospital. He never got out again. His condition improved, but he had some issue with his foot. Some kind of wound that wouldn't heal. They put him in an old folks home.

If ever there was a man who should not be in an old folks home it was Ken Watson. 86 years old at the time, deaf as a post, but sharp as a tack mentally. I think it drove him crazy to be there. To wait. Sitting there, day after day, waiting to die. That's what it must have felt like. I don't blame his children (one of them being my father) for that, because there's not much else you can do. He'd have been fine if it weren't for his foot. He had various other ailments that kept him down, but his foot prevented him from being mobile.

Last summer he told me that he used to love taking a newspaper and a cigar and walking to the town park. The town he'd lived in nearly all his life. The town he raised a family in. He said he used to go to the park and sit on a bench and read and watch the kids play football. That made him happy. That was all he wanted from life any more. To be independent. Eighty-six years old.

And it's sad, it's sad because he lost that and never got it back. The end of his life was waiting. I used to buy him cigars. He loved cigars. I bought an expensive brand recommended by the shack. $100 for 25 cigars. He said they were the best cigars he'd ever had. I felt like it was the least I could do for him.

He was a veteran of World War II. He was injured in an attack and awarded a Purple Heart. He refused it because a good friend of his had died in the same attack. He never talked about the War. Even my mom, who knew him for nearly thirty years, never heard him talk about it. He came home and joined the volunteer fire department and got a job and did what he had to do.

Since he turned 80 or so he would always joke that he wouldn't make it to his next birthday. His wife died ten years ago, and he had been on his own since. At Christmas parties he would talk about how this was his last Christmas and his last birthday and we'd always laugh and tell him to cut it out. He stopped saying it last year. His birthday is December 21st.

My dad said he gave up. They had to put him on oxygen last week because he was having trouble breathing. My dad saw him before that and said that he had told him he was tired. It's depressing. Depressing because he was such a great man, and depressing because it had to end that way. And I suppose that's how it goes sometimes, and in the end we'll only remember what we want to remember. We'll remember him before this, and we'll remember what made us love him.

When we went out to dinner he would order a seven and seven with a lime in it and call it a fifteen (7 + 7 + 1 for the lime). He knew everyone and everyone knew him. Walking down the street or stopping in a bar or restaurant at least four people would greet him. He was a friendly old guy, but not the overbearing, lonely type you meet sometimes. He just wanted to have a chat and move on. He didn't force anything, he was just easy to talk to.

My dad told me a story once about how when he and his older brother were still in junior high and his brother was taking bets on football or racing or something like that. It was a Catholic school, and when the nuns found out they of course put a stop to it and called his house. Normally his mother would have taken care of it, but she happened to be away, so his father came by. When the nuns told him what his son had been up to, after his initial reaction of surprise his only response was to look directly at my uncle and say "How much did you make?" The nuns did not like that.

I'm not sure what else to say, but I feel I need to say it. I guess this is kind of depressing, but it's just what's on my mind and I need to clear it. He was a great guy in pretty much every way. Everyone spoke fondly of him, and I really will miss him. It's funny how even though you are expecting something for two years it still has a big impact on you. It still causes you to break down. He lead a full life though. It's not tragic, it's just the end. That's how these things work.

I'll miss you, Pop. Thanks for the memories. Thanks for being you. I won't forget any of it. Good bye.
Dec52006

Stuffage

Sort of a general update because I haven't updated in a while and at least one person has complained I haven't updated in a while (hi dahanese!). Note if you too would like a shout out on this awesome web page, you should I guess bitch at me or something.

Life is busy. Ish. Since I moved to Manhattan without having a job here, I have of course been applying to shit since my commute takes a bit of time. I got one offer for a PHP/mySQL programmer, but their salary offer was waaaaay too low (as in, less than what I make now) so I had to turn them down. Kind of sucked, but whatever I guess.

That aside everything else is going pretty well. The Wii continues to be awesome and also impressive to non-gamers. I also picked up Shadow of the Colossus from Best Buy for $20 because of the immense shackhype (damn you!) and it's a pretty well put together game. Pretty fun, not too challenging, but you do feel pretty rewarded as you progress. Kind of sad too. The premise is you need to slay these huge giants (colossi) which have a weak point somewhere usually high up on their bodies, so you need to figure out how to climb them while they try and figure out how to throw you off. Once you find their weak point, the killing is fairly easy but I always feel a twinge of sadness when one of those big guys falls. If you have a PS2 (or a PS3 I guess, hah) it's a pretty worthwhile purchase for the money.

Oh and in closing I leave you with a few pictures of our Christmas tree. It's a theme tree because all the ornaments are various foods. It's pretty cool, and it's my first Christmas tree that wasn't owned by my parents, so I think it will always hold a special place in my heart. I don't know if I could get any more sappy, but I will certainly try one of these days. Enjoy!
Christmas Tree '06

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Hot nude tree action!

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Now it's got lights... kind of hard to see with the flash.

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Here's the lights in the dark.

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Complete with ornaments. They are only food ornaments. There's a story behind that but I won't get into it. The pickle is the shit.

Nov82006

Movin' Out

I now live in Manhattan. Freaky. It's awesome, except I'm kind of retarded and I didn't get a job down there first, so I have to commute on the train to work out of Manhattan for like an hour+ every day. It's okay though, I think the job market in that place is pretty good, right? Lots of people so there must be lots of jobs? It's an adventure!


Fry isn't scared of the big city.
Nov32006

Wut?

So you know that Halloween party thing I was talking about? Okay, so, good times. We get to the place which is somewhere outside Philly I think, and chat for a while. It's a surprise birthday/Halloween party, even though the birthday boy's actual birthday is December 31st, but I guess that's what makes it a surprise party. Anyway, we get into our costumes and do the mini party thing with drinking and talking and stuff and finally we head off to a bar where there's apparently some sort of costume party contest thing. Good, good.

Except when we get there there are no people in costume. Well, scratch that, there are no other people in costume. It's a pretty big bar, two floors, second floor had a good fifty or sixty people on it (maybe more). Costumed people? Fifteen or us or so? Awesome. On the plus side the person who put together the whole thing went and found the manager who apparently took pity on us and gave us 75% off our tab. Woo! Which is good because the drinks were not very strong. But still, $20 for a decent amount of drinks by two people, well, you can't beat that. All you have to do is dress up like a ninja and show up at a bar. Trust me.

I think I might have another update later today. Pictures of random things perhaps.
Oct262006

Face Blind

Really interesting article in Wired about prosopagnosia, which is a condition where the brain is unable to recognize faces.

For most of his childhood, Choisser thought he was normal. He just assumed that nobody saw faces. But slowly, it dawned on him that he was different. Other people recognized their mothers on the street. He did not. During the 1970s, as a small-town lawyer in the Illinois Ozarks, he struggled to convince clients that he was competent even though he couldn't find them in court. He never greeted the judges when he passed them on the street everyone looked similarly blank to him and he developed a reputation for arrogance.

Oct232006

Halloween

I was bored like a week ago so I made a Halloween stylesheet. I think it came pretty good. I never do anything on Halloween, or at least I haven't done anything on Halloween in many years. I think I went to a party/gathering back in high school with my friends, but I'm pretty sure I haven't done anything since. I used to go to haunted houses and on those haunted hay rides and I think I stopped trick-or-treating in 6th or 7th grade. Halloween is a pretty interesting and weird holiday if you think about it.

So anyway, this year I have already been to a haunted house (not scary, but I was drunk, so I guess it didn't count) and I am going to a party! Woo! I'm dressing as a ninja. It will be fun. Pictures? Maybe. It's hard to take a picture of a ninja though. We're very stealthy. You know, like a ninja.
Oct112006

Every Day is a Great Adventure

Busy weekend. I don't think I did anything on Friday. It was so long ago I don't even remember. So that day wasn't busy. Saturday we had a surprise party for my mom's 50th birthday. I'd been planning and putting it together with help from my aunt and sister and other aunt for a couple weeks and it went really well. She didn't suspect anything since her real birthday is on the 21st. I was kind of surprised that it wasn't that much work to put it together. Just bought a bunch of food and my aunt and sister cooked and I threw up some balloons and streamers and that was that. Not too shabby.

Sunday I lounged around the whole day and watched the Giants beat the Redskins 19-3. Awesome. Then around 7:30 I went off to the train station because the next say was Six Flags Great Adventure day, woo!

You see, dahanese is crazy, so we woke up at like uh, I dunno 6:30am or something. We took the ferry over to Jersey where we picked up her dad's car and we were on our way. We got there at 9:30 and the park opens at 10:00. Jesus. Still we got to see some people dance and they finally let us in around 10am. Everyone ran. They told us not to run, but we ran anyway. We had no god damned idea where they were running, but I figured it was just because they were excited.

Turns out they were running toward this ride called Kingda Ka. The ride itself lasts less than a minute but you are shot forward at 128mph and then head upward 456 feet (45 stories). Then you go back down. On the way up and down you also get twisted around. It was unreal. We waited in line for I think an hour but it was worth it (we ran to Superman instead, which was also awesome, and there was literally no line when we got there, but otherwise the Kingda Ka line would have been way shorter for us). The thing is fucking huge. Also apparently sometimes the cars don't make it over the top and fall back down. Apparently that's supposed to happen and it just relaunches you if it does, but jesus that has got to suck. We also went on a couple other coasters (Batman, Superman, Medusa and the Scream Machine twice) and a few smaller rides. Good times.

And now I'm back at work updating my stupid blog. Life just isn't fair. Ah well. Big changes to come at the end of the month, by the way! More as it develops!
Sep32006

The Nintendo Store Is Fancy

In keeping with my Nintendo-themed updates (I hope I'm not a fanboy now, because I really hate Nintendo fanboys and that would really be a conflict of interest), on Friday I went to Nintendo: World Store in Manhattan with dahanese. It's really shiny in there. They had tons of Game Cube and DS and GBA games as well as consoles and DS download stations and all that stuff. Plus a crapload of Nintendo-related junk like toys and t-shirts. I didn't buy anything because there aren't any games I want right now, but dahanese scored a copy of Meteos (they also had many copies of Phoenix Wright and Trauma Center, so if you need some harder to find games, Nintendo Store is where it's at) which we played the fuck out of. Meteos is fun, but playing against and taunting someone while playing Meteos just multiplies how awesome it is.

After that we met up with some other folks from Shacknews.com for dinner and drinks. They are becoming less 'Shackmeets' to me (though I suppose that is the correct technical term for them) and more hanging out with awesome people. I'm not sure what that means, but I'm pretty sure it's a good thing. I love you, internet friends!
Aug242006

Peace Out, Pluto!

So, Pluto is no longer a planet. I guess if I had to care, I agree with it. Pluto was always a pretty shitty planet. First off its largest moon, Charon, is huge. So huge in fact that the barycenter of the planet/moon system is above Pluto's surface, making it the only planet to have this feature. On top of that it has a wacked out solar orbit that's on an incline from the other planets. So if you think of the other eight planets of orbiting mostly on a level plane to the Sun where they're each at the same 'height', tilt Pluto's orbit a bit so it's below the plane on one side and above it on another (like a see-saw). Finally, when viewed from above the orbit is not in line with the others. From 2/7/1979 until 2/11/1999 Pluto was closer to the Sun than Neptune and the rest of the time it's further from the Sun (every 300 years or so it switches with Neptune for anywhere from 15 to 30 years).

None of this stuff really matters though, because to be a planet the new requirements are:
  • Orbits around the Sun
  • Has sufficient mass for its self-gravity to overcome rigid body forces so that it assumes a hydrostatic equilibrium (nearly round) shape
  • Has cleared the neighborhood around its orbit.
The third point is not true for Pluto along with a couple other celestial bodies that would have become planets (like the asteroid Ceres) under the original proposal.

So, that's all for Pluto! Downgraded to a 'dwarf planet', how humiliating. But still, it was a planet for 76 years, which is a pretty good run. So in memory of Pluto, I've switched the in orbit background picture from Jupiter to Pluto. We still love ya, little guy!
Aug202006

A Snake Story

Since I've now seen Snakes on a Plane (and it was awesome) I figured I may as well tell the lone story I have related to the movie that does not involve the internet. On my vacation last month I got drunk, a lot. The trip was eight full days and I was drunk all eight of them to varying degrees. On the first night when I only hung out with my sister and cousin (before we met our group of mostly under twenty-one friends), we finished up around 12am (the bar closed at 3am, so this was an early night) and went into the dinning area to get some pizza.

More drunk people, cool. Drunker than us. One particularly drunk guy was sitting there talking to his two friends and saying "I will fight a snake! I'll fight a snake!" over and over. I smirked, as the first thing that came to mind was Snakes on a Plane, but I figured he was just drunk and rambling. We made fun of him a little and ate our pizza and went to bed.

Now jump to the last night on the ship. It's around midnight again and the bar we were always at is fucking packed. Normally it was our extended group of fifteen or twenty people, but this night it was like a crowded Manhattan bar, except there was only one bar tender. He said the bar was never that crowded on the last day, so I guess we lucked out. Oh yeah we were also in the middle of a tropical storm, so it was raining and the boat was rocking a good amount.

Anyway, it's about this time that the very same snake guy from the first night (drunk again) wanders out and starts talking about fighting snakes again. I'm drunker than I was the last time I saw him, so I go "Hey, it's snake guy! What's up, dude?" and I shook his hand. He then leans in and says to me the words I will never forget: "Dude, Snakes on a Plane, August 18th, Samuel L. Jackson, mother fucking snakes!" My response was of course "I am already there, dude!"

It was a beautiful moment where two drunk people who had never met before had something in common (aside from being drunk). I think he hugged me after that (but it was one of those macho hugs where you do that hand clasp thing and sort of bump shoulders, so it was okay) and then stumbled off into the night. I never saw him again, but I hope he thought the movie was awesome as well. Mother fuckin' snakes making the world a better place. Who knew?
Aug142006

This Is My New Favorite Image


And I refuse to taint it with a lame catch phrase. Also I clearly have nothing to update about. Going to see Snakes on a Plane on Thursday in though, so that will change! After that I guess I have nothing to look forward to. Damnit.
Jul272006

A Duck and a Tortoise...

Are just some of the things you will see if you check out my vacation pictures (complete with a fairly short summary)! That's probably all I'll say about that I guess.

In nerdier news, I finally secured a copy of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney and it's pretty damned cool. Everyone kept saying it was great, and I finally caved, and holy crap they were right. It's so wonderfully over-dramatic and so much fun (considering you play a lawyer) that you can't help but smile the entire time you're playing it. If you have a DS you should pick it up. Amazon will be getting a shipment in on August 10th, so pre-order it now, damn you. TAKE THAT!
Jul242006

We Now Return to Your Regularly Scheduled Life

So I'm back. Got home around 2pm I think. Overall the whole cruise deal was pretty goddamn awesome. I drank entirely too much, spent entirely too much money on said drinking, saw some amazing sights, met some really awesome people and pretty much had an awesome time. The bad? Sunburn. Also, I got fucking sick. Somewhere around day three or so my oldest cousin got sick and I followed along a few days later. I didn't really start coughing up body parts until today thankfully, but the last three days or so the coughing was heavier than I would have liked and my voice is totally fucked up. I'm sure sleeping three hours a night and drinking a lot did not help either. I'll be sweating out Jack Daniel's for weeks to come. Also anyone I shared a drink or cigarette or anything else with is probably fucked. None of them even know about this site, but I'm going to apologize anyway because this cough really sucks ass. Sorry guys!

Anyway I'm wiped out, so I'll leave you with a couple pictures from my collection which clocks in at 559 files and 513 megs. I'll probably have more stuff about this in the coming days since it's not like I have much else to update about. Plus everyone loves pretty pictures.
Caribbean Cruise, Select Pics

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Fort at Old San Juan, shot taken during arrival.

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Sleeping with the fishes.

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Iguanas at the St. Thomas aquarium.

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Shot from up high in Tortola. That bigass boat is the ship I was on.

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The Virgin Islands are like huge mountains in the middle of the ocean.

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A very secluded beach in Tortola called Josiah's Bay.

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Sunrise at sea. Going to bed is overrated.

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I have no shame. Thank you and goodnight!

Jul122006

Crusin' for a Brusin'

So as I mentioned many months ago I'll be on vacation next week on a huge boat where much eating, drinking and spending of multiple paychecks on said drinking will be had. Also the ship will be stopping at San Juan, St. Thomas and Tortola (Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands) where we can do various touristy things like uh, go shopping and ride bikes and stuff. Of course they charge you for that crap, but I signed up for helmet diving at St. Thomas and some kind of Jeep safari at Tortola. Helmet diving was like $90 and the safari was $70 or $80 I think, so yeah hopefully it will be worth it. I'm looking into seeing if there's a way to make my camera waterproof (read: I asked some nerds on the internet), but otherwise I'll just buy one of those lame disposable waterproof cameras I guess.

Aside from that the booze cruise will last from this Saturday (we depart at 4pm but we have to be on the ship before noon) until Sunday the following week (15th - 23rd) when we arrive back at NYC at 9am or some other godawful hour when I am sure to be hungover. It's a two day trip there and back again, so really we're only going to be at each location for a day or so.

And before any of you ask, no, it's not a gay cruise. It's a family cruise, which may or may not be worse.
Jun232006

Well, Crap...

Okay that potentially exciting thing that could have happened after Friday's events isn't going to happen. And thus I am back where I started! Cryptic, perhaps, but there's really nothing interesting to say about it, except that the burgers at this place are pretty tasty. Small, but tasty (that's what she said!).

In other news I have my car back. The final estimate? $1060. Apparently taking apart a car door is a lot of work, because the new door (well it's new to me anyway) was only $250 of that. Whee. So Progressive paid a whopping $60 and I had to foot the $1000, though I paid in cash so it was only $900. I hope my crap-ass insurance company can at least get me some of that back. Maybe they'll even get the full $1000 and I'll make $100 out of this ordeal? I'm not holding my breath for that though. Anyways that's it for this exciting chapter of my life!
Jun202006

Someone Blue My Car

Update because I'm slacking off at work. Insurance guy called yesterday but I didn't answer, so I called back and left a message, but he still hasn't called me back so I have no idea how much this crap is going to cost me (it will be less than the deductable though, for sure).

The guy at the body shop is awesome though and he said he'd knock off $100 or $125 if I pay him in cash. Now I just have to get to my crappy bank when it's still open (9-5 every day and not opened on weekends, thanks a lot Key Bank, you lazy fucks).

And then there's my rental car! It's really fucking blue. What the hell? Also I took pictures of the damage. As you can see it's terrible! I can't believe I survived the collision! Also I'm too lazy to blur the license plate so none of you assholes better call the cops on me!
Car Accident June '06 Woo!

Jun192006

Please Clean Your Trampoline

I don't normally get into the what happens during my daily life because frankly I don't feel my life is overly interesting (and I'm sure you'd agree). However this is my stupid web page and I'm supposed to do that sort of thing and I guess you wouldn't be here if you weren't, at the very least, totally bored. I had a somewhat interesting weekend.

Things happened on Friday, but unfortunately I can't really write about them because I'm not 100% sure who reads this and who does not. If anything comes from Friday's events, I will be sure to give a full report here because it will be very exciting. Oh yes.

Saturday I got into a car accident. A very small one. I was leaving Walmart and some guy in a gigantic van backed into me. There's a small dent in my passenger side door now, and I have to go to the body shop tomorrow because my insurance company is retarded. Or maybe I'm retarded. By the way, Progressive is kind of a shitty car insurance company. They take forever to get you money and my deductible is massive ($1000), which is annoying. However they are very cheap, so I guess you get what you pay for. I hate car insurance so much.

The guy who hit me was actually really nice and very apologetic (I guess because it was his fault). He even gave me all his info twice (I had to call him back) and said he would tell insurance that I wasn't moving when he hit me (since in parking lots both cars are at fault almost 100% of the time). I'm not sure what will come from all this, but it won't cost me too much in the long run (I'd estimate the damage to be around $700 at most, but what the fuck do I know). So annoying though. Plus another reason to hate Walmart. Sorry mewse. I do enjoy their every day low prices though.

I also bought Kirby Canvas Curse for DS. It's a really fun game, but once again in the dorky, goofy Nintendo way. That is to say I love it as I have loved many DS games, but I feel like a total dork when I play it. But then I guess I am a total dork so it works out in the end. I will punch some nerds to compensate.

Today was fun. I went to my uncle's house for father's day and he has a pool and a trampoline. If you ever need an excuse to not grow up and act like a kid just visit a house with a pool and a trampoline. It's like you have to try as hard as possible to not have any fun. And even then you will still probably have some accidental fun. My socks got really dirty though. People need to keep their damned trampolines cleaner. It's just proper etiquette.
Jun132006

Delaware Memorial Bridge

Since I promised it way back when and we were talking about bridges on ye ole Shack this morning, here are those pics of the Delaware Memorial Bridge, headed northbound into Jersey. I know you're excited!
Delaware Memorial Bridge

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Those four towers right 'above' that truck are the bridge. You can see them from a few miles away.

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Little closer.

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I'm on the bridge now, but those tower dealies are still far away!

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This thing is huge!

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Closest shot I got. Taking pictures while driving is hard work.

Jun62006

Oh Shit, It's 06/06/06

Isn't the world supposed to end or something? Does this finally prove Christianity wrong, or at the very least prove that 666 is just a number and doesn't mean anything? I mean it's been 45 mins, something should have happened, right? Gates of Hell opening or Satanic messages. Religion has all the exciting stories but nothing ever really happens...

Okay screw it, I'm going to bed.
May222006

Washington, DC; Day 6 & 7ish

I just got back home after a nice 5+ hour drive out of DC. Uneventful except for some traffic outside Baltimore. Also, two things about the drive: driving through the Baltimore Harbor tunnel is weird. I've been through tunnels before, but never as the driver. It's very odd... like a really long bathroom (because of the tiles) and all the light bulbs are almost dead so it's all dank and orangy. Creepy kind of. Also there's no room for error... I'd imagine if someone got into an accident in there it would fuck up traffic for a couple of hours at least.

Second, the Delaware Memorial Bridge (bridge between Jersey and Delaware on 95) is fucking gigantic. I snapped some pictures that I'll probably slap up here later. It's huge!

As far as yesterday, also uneventful. The expo dies out on Sunday so we only really had a couple chats with leftover members, we cracked jokes about whatever and then I packed up all the printers and CAT-5 cable and went back to the hotel. We're also retarded, because we didn't get a FedEx truck to ship all our stuff back, so all the people who drove got stuck doing cargo duty. I managed to escape with only one box and a printer on the pretext that my car is pretty small. One lady who has a station wagon (one of those newer, fancy ones that have a different name but are really just station wagons) got stuck with a lot of stuff.

So that's all for my exciting trip to DC! I look forward to going to work tomorrow in sneakers and jeans and sitting down most of the day instead of wearing a suit and standing all day. It's the little things that matter.
May212006

Washington, DC; Day 4 & 5

I was dog tired on Friday night, boss, so I didn't write an update. Please accept my sincerest apologies. Because I know you're sad I didn't update. I'll fill you in on Friday and yesterday now! Woo!

Friday was actually a pretty interesting day, for me anyway. My company is actually an association. We have members who pay dues and there's a board of volunteer elected members who pretty much have final say on what we do and how things are run if they think the staff is doing their job right. Anyway, at this convention every year we have two meetings called the town hall meeting and the annual meeting. The first one is a chance for members to express whatever they want with the board and the second one the board and CEO report on how the association is doing and then the members can express more things. Usually, from what I hear, it's ultra boring. Not this year.

Long story short, a group of members decided to express their unhappiness with the price of dues (which are somewhat expensive for independent booksellers, but you do get a shitload of stuff that's really invaluable when you join), and with how much the CEO is getting paid. There were lots of arguments and board members and former board members (who are the ones that negotiate the CEO's salary) defended their decisions and it was pretty dramatic. After all that I pretty much bailed and came back to the hotel and fell asleep around 11pm. I forgot to set my alarm too, so I was late the next day, but nobody cared.

Saturday was less exciting. I had to sit in on a seminar about budgeting given by the CEO. He's actually a really good speaker, so it wasn't horribly boring. Plus I got to sit down for two hours, which was nice because standing up for around ten hours in dress shoes starts to hurt after a while.

After that the internet went down yet again (it also went down Friday; I forgot to mention that), and I had to fix it. I reset a couple crappy switches we bought and it was fixed for a while, but then the actual internet died, but our (illegal) network was fine. I called the tech guy and showed him our 75% to 100% packet loss (amazingly enough it was gone when he showed up) and he told me that they were looking for illegal routers that were slowing down their network. I stared at him and nodded and said "so there's nothing to do but wait?" and he said yes and left. He was staring right at our DHCP router when he said this, so I don't know if he was trying to get me to confess or just an idiot (he was maybe 18 years old).

Continue reading...

May152006

Mission... Improbable

So my sister's college graduation was last weekend. It actually wasn't horribly boring like mine was. The speaker was interesting and gave a pretty good speech. Also the school managed to get Billy Taylor to come and play a couple jazz tunes. Overall not bad. Rather than ride home with my parents (a two-hour car ride is always a pleasure), I opted to hang out with my sister for a day and then she'd drive me home Sunday since she was planning on coming home anyway. She's only got two weeks left on her apartment lease and the landlord isn't renewing it. That place is a dump anyway. Nothing too exciting happened.

We did see Mission: Impossible 3 though. It wasn't too bad. Good, if not unrealistic action, but it had good pacing and Philip Seymour Hoffman was pretty cool as the bad guy. One thing that always annoys me is how movies and TV use defibrillators and even CPR as some sort of magical life-saving method that brings a person who has died back to life. I only know this because I worked with EMS and paramedic (as well as fire fighters) workers for two summers. It doesn't work that way, damnit! Allow me to nit-pick, if you will.

When your heart goes into fibrillation, it essentially is still beating, but it's very irregular and isn't really pumping any blood. No amount of CPR can ever bring someone out of fibrillation. CPR only serves to keep air circulating in your system for as long as possible (thus getting oxygen to the brain, which starts to die after only a couple minutes of losing oxygen), but it's only effective for I think up to twenty minutes. The defibrillators send a jolt of electricity through your heart in such a way that it offsets the fibrillation (hence: defibrillator) and the heart beats normally again. I'm not even sure if there's any way to restart a stopped heart short of an adrenaline shot or massaging it.

But anyway I learn to ignore these things, because I already ignore how ridiculous shows like 24 (which I love) are with computer and technology lingo and use (I still don't know what 'open a socket' means in the context they use it in, but it probably sounds pretty cool to someone who doesn't know what the fuck), so why stop there? I guess. Being accurate isn't always entertaining I suppose. Anyways, M:I3 was a pretty good action movie, Tom Cruise insanity aside. He does a ridiculous amount of running in this movie, by the way. I think J.J. Abrams was having a fun time making fun of how much Tommy-boy runs in all his other movies, because he pretty much never stops running in this movie. And that's about all I have to say about that.
May62006

New Computer!

There is possibly nothing sadder than updating your blog on a Friday night. I was actually too lazy to call my friends this weekend, and I figured I'd just do nothing this weekend and hang out next weekend, but I just realized I'll be away the next two weekends. My sister graduates this upcoming weekend, and then I'm of to Washington DC the following weekend for my company's... show of some kind. I have no idea what it is because all I have to do is keep the computers from breaking. And I think I have to run a PowerPoint presentation because the CEO or whoever can't talk and click at once... that's what my boss says anyway. I hope the CEO never finds this page. Nobody tattle on me!

Anyways, thanks to my fat tax rebate ($200 state, $600 federal; mainly due to me working part-time last year and only making $17k) I decided to finally upgrade my stupid computer. I picked up an AMD64 3500, X1600Pro, a spiffy MSI motherboard (ATI RD480 chipset, whatever that means) and 2GB of fancy RAM (they're fancy because they have red dealies on them). Oh, and a new power supply. After struggling with Windows (I had to reinstall, god damnit), I finally got everything working and now I'm installing FEAR so I can play it with stuff turned on and in a decent resolution instead of with everything off in 800x600 like I did on my last playthrough. I would be playing Counter-Strike, but Steam refused to work, so I uninstalled it and it decided that meant it should delete all my Steam games. Great. FEAR is five CDs, by the way. Can we get the DVD edition for regular price, please? I don't want to pay $10 extra and get some crap I don't want just so I can have it on DVD. Fuckers. Oh well.

Anyway, I'm just rambling now, so I'll end by saying that the new Tool CD (which came out May 2nd; or two weeks before that if you got a leak) is okay. I don't like it as much as Lateralis or AEnima, but it's got some good songs on it, so I forgive them. And that's that.
Apr242006

Sad Panda

I haven't updated in almost two weeks, so I may as well write an update because I'm at work and I have nothing better to do. I'm not really a sad panda, I was just looking at the NHL bracket I whipped up the night before the playoffs started and the Rangers being down 2-0 after two bad losses made me write that headline. I'll be surprised if they don't get swept at this point, though they did play well the last game, they just couldn't catch a single break.

On Saturday night I hung out with my friends. My good friend just took some hard as fuck engineering test to become a licensed engineer (not the train type, though rest assured he does love when I make that joke) that he's been studying for for the last many months. He was very tired and really, really wanted to drink. Also around was another friend who lives in Boston who I haven't seen since last June when we visited her for her birthday, and yet another friend who lives in the same damned town as me yet I somehow manage to never see her. I'm not sure how that works out, probably because she never calls me back so I just gave up trying after a while (she never calls anyone back though except for her parents, boyfriend and her best friend, who I am also friends with, and she does call me back, so I can find out things second-hand). Also present at this gathering were my friend's girlfriend (aforementioned best friend of girl who never calls anyone back), her sister, brother, and three friends of her brother.

Everyone except me fell asleep around 1am (we started early) so I stayed up watching something on Animal Planet about bats. I don't know why, but Animal Planet is pretty cool when it's not showing some show about people who are obsessed with their pets. And I'm not talking the normal amount of obsessed, but the insane amount of obsessed that borders on scary. To me anyway, but maybe that's because I don't have any pets. None that I can anthromorphisize anyway.

Around 1:30am, brother's fiance shows up (this is the house of the three siblings, by the way) and decides to put makeup, plastic wrap and tampons on her fiance and his friend who have both passed out cold from entirely too much scotch and tequila. And Jager. And vodka. The universal rule of drunks is if you fall asleep with your shoes on then you are open game. So yeah. Pictures were taken, laughs were had and everyone learned a valuable lesson.

Oh yeah, and Kevin Smith put up the final part of his Jason Mewes story. Kind of anti-climactic, but overall a good ending. Kind of like this update!
Apr102006

Shackmeet!

I love people from the internet, because no matter where they're from, I always seem to drink a lot when I hang out with them. Shacknews is a website where we argue about abortion and religion and sometimes we even talk about games too. And once in a while we'll even meet up in New York City for drunken hijinks. It's the best kind of hijinks, you know.
Apr52006

Naked Day!

Today is the first annual CSS Naked Day, and I'm participating because, uh, I have nothing better to do I guess. I added a special feature to allow me to remove the stylesheet without having to edit any files just for this day! It's cool to be naked! This page looks kind of crappy without a stylesheet though, so I half-assed another feature that lets you specify your own stylesheet right in the URL! Fancy!
Mar282006

Fifty Years

So on Sunday we had a surprise party for my grandparents on my mom's side. They've been married for fifty years. That's a long fucking time. Like holy crap. That's about all I have to say about that I guess.

The party itself was fun. I got to see a bunch of Italian people that I see once every three years or so, who I don't know the names of or how they're related to me. Italian people seriously need to stop with all the goddamn baby making. They're worse than the Irish! (I'm also Irish, by the way.)

But continuing with how awesome my grandparents are, they actually announced over a year ago that they were going on a cruise to some places in the tropic regions (Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands and some other places I forget the names of) and taking the whole damned family with them. As you'd expect from my Catholic Irish/Italian family, my mom is one of seven kids. Six are married, and everyone has at least one kid (the average is 2.85 grandkids per kid). So this makes for a total of thirty-six people (the youngest kid is being left behind). I don't know how much these things cost, but it has to be in the 'fuckload of cash' region. Costs don't include drinks (we have to buy those ourselves), which I plan on dropping at least a week's worth of pay on, so I guess it balances out.

We actually did this ten years ago for their 40th anniversary, only with fewer people (twenty-three if I remember right). It was kind of fun then, but I was only fourteen, so I couldn't drink or gamble. They didn't even want us walking through the casino they had on the boat, which was annoying. I got yelled at by the staff three or four times since it was quicker to cut through the casino than go around it. So this time will be better, because I will be able to drink and watch my stupid relatives lose money instead of playing lame arcade games and waiting for everyone to finish gambling. Also there is lots of food on a cruise ship. We could probably feed a decent sized country of starving Africans with a single cruise ship, but screw those guys anyway.

Anyway, that's in July, so I have another three and a half months of waiting to do, but it's gonna be sweet! Remember kids, drinking is cool, no matter what anyone says. Stay in school!
Mar62006

Older Women Know How To Party!

So Saturday was interesting. I spent most of the day finishing up season four of 24 and playing Counter-Strike as I often do. My uncle and his four kids stopped by when I was playing CS and asked me a million questions as I played Dust 2, Aztec and then Dust. Most notably:

Cousin: "Why are you playing this level again?"
Me: "This is a different level."
Cousin: "But it looks the same."
Me: "Trust me, it's different."
Cousin: "What's different about it?"
Me: "I don't know, it's smaller."

Fans and haters of Dust and Dust2 will appreciate that I guess, if you can forgive the always hilarious chatlog format. Anyway, about an hour after they left I got a call from their mom, my aunt. Now she's 39 and has four kids (ages 4 to 12), but she's a lot of fun, and in excellent shape. She says I should go to this bar with her and some people she knows at around 10pm. Since I had nothing to do, I figured why not? I drive over to her house and we pick up one of her friends and we're off.

The bar itself was an odd mix of younger people (around my age) and older folks all the way up to probably their fifties. But the older people weren't the normal two or three creepy old guys in the corner that watch all the younger girls dance like most clubs seem to have. They were people on dates, dancing and drinking and having fun. It was very strange to me, because both of my parents never ever go out. They're both very boring people socially, so I always find it odd when anyone around their age is actually active in one way or another.

I've never been to a bar with a bunch of 40-somethings before, but I might have to make a habit out of it. Those ladies (I note my hesitation to call them 'chicks') were pretty fun, and I didn't pay for a single thing all night. My aunt was awesome and paid my cover ($10) and then I just kept getting handed beers. Also it's funny how when you're my age (24) getting carded is kind of annoying, but my aunt was pretty happy she got carded.

Also invited was a girl my aunt worked with who was a lot closer to my age (she's 20) and her friend. I think my aunt had it planned as some sort of setup, but a number of factors sort of put a stop to that. I think if just one of them was there I might have at least asked for a number, but two of them and one of me really screwed me up, and only compounded how amazingly bad I am at this sort of thing. However I think I did stay away from being completely retarded, which I suppose is some kind of worthless silver lining.

But, overall, pretty fun time. I shall have to do it again in the future, though perhaps not exactly the same way.
Jan292006

What's This Blog Thing?

The first update of any blog is an important one because you have to establish what the blog is about. Actually, fuck that. I hate the word 'blog'. I had one of these web pages back in 1998. It was a blog. I updated it with meaningless shit, just like I am now in 2006. The only difference is now I have a bunch of fancy scripts to put it into a database for me instead of having to hand edit (and hand archive, which was always a pleasure) a html document and fill in the time and date and all that stuff.

We called them 'web pages' and they were ugly, but we liked them anyway. My first web page was on Geocities... I still remember the address: http://www.geocities.com/SiliconValley/Heights/9022/. I had sections for video games, music, sports and hacking. Being a 'hacker' in 1998 was fun, because you didn't have to do any hacking. If you were smart enough to figure out how to guess someone's password then you were a hacker. If you knew html you were a hacker. Only to people who didn't know shit though. To actual hackers, I was a retarded kid.

Continuing with the brief and retarded Internet portion of my life, my next web page was hosted by the now defunct Xoom.com (bought by MSNBC ages ago). Xoom was great because they offered 10mb of webspace and Geocities only offered 2mb. So I had that page... the only thing I remember was that it had frames, it was black and it had some gifs I made of those green torches from Doom. I screwed up the gif though, so the torches appeared to bounce up and down a pixel or two every third or fourth frame.

After that an eFriend got a cable modem and decided to start hosting people. He bought a domain name and times were awesome. Unlimited space and a cool domain name: http://cyb.frad.org/. Times were fun for a while, but frad.org died for whatever reason, and I moved to alkali.org. Same system, different domain.

After that (this is around 2002 now) I started using my own cable modem for hosting my web page, and eventually alkali, too, went the way of Xoom and frad.org.

My modem, while certainly speedy as far as cable modems go, is not really great for these things, and the computer hosting everything is on the shitty side (400mhz Celeron with 128mb of RAM). I'd imagine if I ever got more traffic than I do now it would melt, and that would suck.

So now, here I am, hosted by Noxel.net, through the graciousness of another with the best name in the universe: Mike. Mike, or Manc as we affectionately call him on the Internets, has been kind enough to host all my current internet endeavors, and I really can't express my appreciation and gratitude for what he does. Well I guess I just did express it, so I was wrong.

Anyway, before I went on that wonderful and probably uninteresting tangent, I was about to complain about the word 'blog', but I suppose that, while writing this update, I've come to begrudgingly accept it. It's obviously here to stay (until someone thinks up a new, stupider buzzword.... 'podcasting' comes close, but I don't think it's catching on), so I may as well tolerate it. Plus it's a lot easier to say than 'web page' or 'e/n page' which were what these sorts of pages were previously called.

So that's that. First update is out of the way, and it's entirely too fucking long. I tend to do that. Future ones will hopefully be better and also less boring. But I can't make any promises.