Saturday, September 17, 2011

The Future

Shortly after extolling the virtues of my phone-run life, while updating said phone, it crashed.

But not all the way. While restarting Springboard (the interface), _that_ crashed, but the phone itself was still running. Now, the normal thing to do in this rare situation is a hard-restart; that is, hold the power button until the phone cycles power. However, my phone's power button has long since died (poor 3Gs design, a known flaw. Likely to be my final Apple phone). What was I to do? Wait until the battery died and then plug it in? That's one method, but it takes *quite* a long time for the battery to die, and I had to use the restroom.

Did I mention that the phone itself was still running? I mean, still observable on my network. I went to one of my computers, SSH'd into my phone, and issued the restart command. About a minute later it was back up and running, good as new (well, I _say_ 'new', but you know what I mean).

This is the future we're living in.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Computer Expertise

Recently, I had my 1TB Fantom external drive go belly up. It was my old storage drive, so it was mostly filled with media and installation files, not critical stuff I need every day.

Nevertheless, I figured that it was long past time to set up the barest of redundant systems so that I would stop losing great swathes of stuff every time a drive died (because DRIVES DIE).

I elected to go with a RaidZ system using a tower I picked up from the local recycle shop. I bought the memory and three 2TB hard drives (4 would have been better, but I'm poor). In a RaidZ this will give me 4TB of storage, and there's enough room in the case for another 4 or so IDE drives, of which I have plenty laying around. I have a stack of 300GB drives, but they're full, so FIRST I need to set up the RaidZ, then move the existing contents to it, then set up another with the spare drives. With me so far?

To use ZFS (and RaidZ), BSD is the way to go. You get the latest and greatest ZFS with all the bells and whistles. I considered going with FreeNAS, but it's not as feature-rich as full BSD distributions, and I have the hardware to support more. I ended up selecting OpenIndiana, which is the most direct off-shoot of the now retired OpenSolaris.

One problem I encountered was that my motherboard isn't detecting all 4GB of RAM. This is a problem with the older BIOS that has since been fixed, but MSI currently only distributes BIOS via their Windows-only custom software. I don't have Windows on this box, I don't WANT Windows on this box, but to even *download* the latest BIOS, that's what everyone is forced to use. But this is no problem; once I have OI (OpenIndiana) up and running, I can throw XP into a virtual machine, run MSI's crazy unnecessary software, download the latest BIOS, grab the file and update the motherboard myself through DOS (booted from USB). Easy peasy.

The next problem I ran into was with installing OI. The LiveCD for the latest version doesn't even boot all the way before it starts throwing all kinds of errors and the crashes. Odd. But that's no problem, because I know there is an even more up-to-date development version in beta.

The beta version didn't throw any kinds of errors before crashing, but it was clear that it was the same problem (it was just being quiet about it). So, that didn't work, and I'm burning up DVDs for nothing. BUT, that's NO PROBLEM, because I can always install OpenSolaris and then =upgrade= to OI after everything is working. Right? Yeah! I've heard of this working.

OpenSolaris exhibited the same problem. Further investigation lead me to believe that the source of the problem with with my DVD drive (what?) or at least the way it interacts with the motherboard. Other people had the same symptoms, but could install from USB. Aha!

I happen to have a spare USB stick RIGHT HERE! So, NO PROBLEM! I download the USB image, and the program to load it on to the stick and... the program crashes. Not compatible with the latest .NET (it was built for 2.0). But that's NO PROBLEM either because the source code is available! So I download the source and go to compile it in Visual Studio and...

My Visual Studio install is borked. When did this happen? A while ago, apparently. BUT THAT'S NO PROBLEM! I got VS through Microsoft's Dreamspark program, which means that it's distributed via ISO. I can just mount that ISO, re-install Visual Studio, recompile the USB Image Writer, boot from the LiveUSB thus created, and install OpenIndia! I'll be back in business in no time! Haha! All my computer expertise at work...

Wait, where did I save that disk image again? Oh right.... my 1TB Fantom external drive.

Monday, September 06, 2010


0th, The Fine Brothers. (Mostly about the flak YouTube earners got [due to jealousy], but also this:) How many people truly want to watch short form television style content inside the web? We’ll tell you how many. TONS. Hundreds of thousands, millions, but you know why they don’t watch your show? Because you have not built a connection to them, because you haven’t built a personal brand and experience for them to climb aboard and want to support, because you don’t have a real reason for the show to be distributed online beyond just “making something”, and surprisingly a lot of the time because you haven’t created a very good show not just for the web, but for any platform.

1st, Barrett Garese. Stop making short-TV or short-films and putting it online and calling it "online entertainment". It's derivative, and TV does it better already.

2nd, Barret's followup. We’re going to start having to think of the medium first, and the story second.

3rd, David Nett. Where Barrett is wrong, in my opinion, is in the underlying assumption in his tip: that we want to be pioneers in online entertainment. Rather than whipping ourselves into a frenzy over Barrett’s perfectly sound advice, I believe a creator should ask him or herself plainly, “what am I trying to make? Am I trying to make a TV show, and the web is the best current distribution option for my show?” If the answer is yes, then in my opinion Barrett’s advice simply doesn’t apply.

4th, Marc Hustvedt. There’s a flawed point of logic in the argument that web video should always be something different than what’s on TV or film.

Finally, New Mediacracy (via) which lead me to the others. Barrett Garese, Brett Register, Craig Frank, Jamie Blair, along with NM regulars Chris McCaleb, Zadi Diaz, and Steve Woolf get together. Conversation really needed David and Marc, but what do you want? Your money back?

Friday, July 23, 2010

Adventures in Surgeryland

So, I have sleep apnea, which means that I stop breathing in my sleep.

I went through a sleep study, and got a CPAP. So I won't die in my sleep.

But it wouldn't be a blog post if that's all that happened. ^_^

My nose is all messed up (partly because of genetics, and partly possibly because of the bike accident three years ago). Recently, one side closed up and I can't really breathe through it. At night, the other side closes up as well, meaning I couldn't use the CPAP. So... that's bad.

My ENT recommended surgery to fix my deviated septum and reduce my turbinates (this is after multiple meetings and tests; I really don't like surgery). This should allow me to breathe through both sides again, and if it doesn't fix my apnea it will at least let me use the CPAP. So I won't die in my sleep.

So my surgery was scheduled for yesterday afternoon. Something I didn't really think about beforehand was that I couldn't have any coffee that morning. I've had surgery before, but it was way early in the morning so this wasn't an issue. Oh man, I sure love coffee though.

ANOTHER thing I didn't think of was that I would have all morning to worry about the upcoming operation. So I was probably more nervous for this one than the previous one. And did I mention the lack of coffee? Coffee...

But that wouldn't be enough for a Phoenix story.

I'm at the surgery center, getting interviewed by the anesthesiologist. I'm moments away from being put under.

And the fire alarm goes off.

And it eventually becomes clear that this is not just a drill. The entire building is evacuated into the parking lot.

Luckily no one was in surgery at the time (only because I was a couple minutes behind schedule), but two people were in recovery and their unconscious forms wheeled out on gurneys. How awesome would that be to wake up from surgery in the sunny outdoors? A firetruck came and the firemen went through a quick building inspection. While we were waiting, I lamented that I didn't have a camera with me, but a nurse had her phone on her and snapped a couple photos of me and my IV. UNFORTUNATELY they didn't save properly, so I still ended up with no pictures.

So that's the surgery adventure. I'd write more, but I'm doped up on vicodin right now.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Far Too Clever

I've been working on my thesis again, having slacked off a lot the past few months. But having slacked off for so long, it's only recently that I discovered that I have misplaced one of my notebooks. That's pretty bad. But things get worse.

Yesterday, I needed a bookmark from XP. I upgraded to Windows 7 in January and haven't really used XP much since then. But I use Zotero to manage my references, so I do all my thesis research in Firefox.

So, I browse to my Firefox profile on the XP partition. The directory is empty.


Well, empty except the profile.ini file. Which points to the Firefox directory on the old Vista partition. And that's when I remember...

See, I had been hoping back and forth between XP and Vista. I had used only Vista for about a year, since it came with my lappy, but I had some problems (especially with games and older software). So when I re-formatted my computer last year, I put XP back on and swapped back and forth. Except I really didn't all that often. XP was fine and Vista was a headache, so I really pretty much only used XP> BUT, what I had done was, I had set up the Firefox profile to be the same on both (and in Linux when I booted to that). So, no matter which OS I was in at the time, I'd have all my bookmarks and recent tabs, seamlessly.

Which I FORGOT when I put W7 on. See, by that point I wasn't using Vista at all. So, while I made a careful backup of all my XP stuff (just in case), I didn't back up the Vista stuff (because, there wasn't any). Except, there WAS, because that's where all the Firefox stuff was stored.

So, all I have now is a profile.ini that points to a partition that no longer exists, and my most recent other backup is from 2008 (before I started on this current thesis). All because I was too clever for my own good. Sweet.

I'm having, like, the *BEST* week you guys!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Video Games Can Be Art

So, recently, Roger Ebert (whom, to be clear, I adore) once again declared that video games are not art, and CAN NEVER BE!

Which is absurd. Of COURSE games can be art. Everything about Shadow of the Colossus is art, not just the fantastic visuals, not just the story, but even down to the controller itself! But it's clear that Ebert has never played SotC. (This, despite it being mentioned several times in reader responses the first time he brought this up). His initial argument is "Video games by their nature require player choices, which is the opposite of the strategy of serious film and literature, which requires authorial control." But, games like SotC has its plot on rails; the player has "choices" but really, the player has to move the plot forward. If the player goes off exploring, the game pretty much just waits. Ebert just appears to be completely unfamiliar with the wide range of games and gametypes available (he also appears to believe that ALL games have winners and losers, which has never been true).

He also never played Braid, although he knows enough about it to discounts its possibility as art. Well, I say he knows about it, but clearly his opinion is based on a fundamental misunderstanding of the premise. Ebert's entire article was prompted by Kellee Santiago's TED talk (which you can see here). Here is a quote from his piece:
Her next example is a game named "Braid". This is a game "that explores our own relationship with our encounter enemies and collect puzzle pieces, but there's one key can't die." You can go back in time and correct your mistakes. In chess, this is known as taking back a move, and negates the whole discipline of the game. Nor am I persuaded that I can learn about my own past by taking back my mistakes in a video game. She also admires a story told between the games levels, which exhibits prose on the level of a wordy fortune cookie.
Wrong, wrong, wrong. Braid doesn't allow you to go back in time and correct your mistakes, it FORCES you to go back in time and correct your mistakes. That's a fundamental part of the game mechanic, arguably the entire POINT of the game. It's not 'taking back a move' and negating the discipline of the game, it IS the game! And his remark about 'wordy fortune cookies' is another indicator that he never played it. Yes, you are given tiny snippets of a story, but the larger story becomes clear as you play. If he HAD played Braid, he would understand that.

So let's talk about Chess (which he also mentioned). Santiago says that Chess isn't art, and can't be art, because it's just a set of rules. No matter how elegant the set of rules, it's not art. Fine. I'm not going to argue that point. So, let's try this thought experiment:

Imagine there is a PLAY about Chess. The actors dress up like the pieces, you can have fights between the white pawn and the red knight, eventually one king is killed and the play is over. You don't see the chessboard itself, the play is just using a Chess theme.

Can that be art? Of course. A play can be art, even if its theme comes from a game.

So, now imagine that towards the end of the play, the white king can send his knight or his queen to fight the red bishop. OK? Both parts are scripted, but it's up to the audience to shout out their preference for that performance. The play has two different endings, depending on the outcome. Everything else about the play is the same.

Can that still be art? I think so. The presence of a choice by the audience does not negate everything else in the play. The audience's choice isn't the art, it's still the writing/acting/etc.

So, now imagine that the audience has a choice twice during the play. Or three times. Or twenty. Everything else is still true, there are scripted scenes for the players to act out. Eventually, the audience could have enough choices to play an entire game of Chess.

Is that still art? Again, I think so. There doesn't come a point where the fact that the audience has choices negates the art in the rest of the play, because the art is NOT about their choices! The art is always about the play, and what is shown to the audience.

It is the same with video games. The art isn't about the player's choices, it's about everything else.

As the Penny Arcade guys said, Ebert's simply a man determined to be on the wrong side of history. And that makes me sad.

Friends with Lauren Hudson

I was on Facebook today, and noticed that I had a friend request from Lauren Hudson (from April 8th, if that gives you an idea of how often I check Facebook. Which is never, actually, I was only on because I noticed a friend request from Ken). So, who is Lauren Hudson?

I'm not sure.

BUT, I saw that I had 15 mutual friends with her. So, I looked at that list, and they were predominantly people from the CEB, or people associated with people from the CEB. Unfortunately, I couldn't see Lauren's full profile unless we were friends. So I accepted a friend request from someone I didn't know (this is the first time I've intentionally done that).

Well, only the single photo (the profile picture), sparse Info (18 year old bisexual interested in friendship, dating, and networking), and that's pretty much it. She has close to 900 friends though. And the messages on her wall...

Justin Abel eracvm,lorjktgopaejlpvjporjktgv,pckpt5ojkvopaetjkoijolgvji,lijghiovj,wrvojirtwoicvj,oij

Drew Scott
Hey hey, we use Earth languages here!
Justin Abel
Is this girl even an earthling?

Justin Abel Kommunikation ist der Schlüssel! who are you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!...

Tyson Cox Has Lauren responded to anyone?? I sent her a message but haven't heard back from her..

Timothy Dane Lawrence
no response at all.

Allie Friese Are you a real person?

Isaac Kuula
i second that...

Michael Fuller What up how are you who are you

Justin Abel Ms. Hudson, have we spoke?

Washington Leifi i dont know you.... but hey thanks for the add..... we should get to know eachother.....

Adam Ovenell WHO YOU!

Daniel Pierce

Phillip Rabideau And you are?

Bryan Dunn
I'm smelling a bot.... 600 friends and no other activity...
And (I assume) so on. Most of the wall posts are like that. So, this is the future we live in, where bots pretend to be 18 year old bisexuals in order to gain our friendship. Oh robot, you know me so well.

Does anyone else remember when Facebook was an actually great, functional site? It's a shame that great, functional, helpful sites don't make as much money as spam-filled social crapfests.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

This Concludes Our Broadcast Day

I can't believe I'm still awake at nearly midnight, as I got up around 3am. This is what happens when I get in the groove on the computer and lose all track of time. It's also how my sleep schedule gets all out of whack.

Choices, choices. Get up early tomorrow (and be groggy all day, but have a normal sleeping schedule), OR sleep in (wake up refreshed, but slide my rhythms around until I'm up at night and sleeping in the daytime).



BECAUSE I keep forgetting what it's called, here's a post I can look for later. This morning I was trying to remember what it's called when someone takes an image, and you see a sequence of zooms, usually to a close-up of someone's face. Apparently, that's a Tenso.
The word “tenso” is Portuguese for “tense”. This is a meme that spread through Brazilian blogs and forums in 2009, and consists of an image edited to form a sequence that closes up the frame and emphasizes a “tense” face or situation.
(Thanks, KnowYourMeme!)

This post is what brought it up, and culminated in me making the following Tenso:

I don't get why Donald is so miserable about being in the water.

He's a duck.

Who served in the Navy.
(ILikeBumblebees, same Reddit thread)

(Also, it's frustrating how small Picasa limits linked images now)

The Great White Noise

So, The Passing is still not out for the PC, despite being April 22nd for over 7 hours now. I should be happy that it's going to be free for me, as the XBOX360 version costs cashy money (an edict by Microsoft, because they don't want XBOX customers getting accustomed to getting things for free. Really.), but the XBOX crowd already has theirs. I imagine it can't possibly be more than a few more hours away though, as VALVe employees are scheduled to play games with us commonfolk starting at 11am PDT. So here's another post to past the time.

Let's talk about Tumblr.

I like(d) Tumblr, and you can see a bit from my Tumblr feed there on the left (below the Shared Items). But what I REALLY like(d) about Tumblr is the Popular page.

Don't bother clicking that link, it doesn't go anywhere anymore.

What the Popular page USED TO be was a list of all the popular images/posts that week. Which ones got the most likes/reblogs. It was great, and there was usually tons of highly entertaining stuff I hadn't come across on there.

Well, apparently Tumblr didn't like being a popularity contest, so that feature was recently cut, and with it pretty much my sole reason to use Tumblr. It has been replaced with a way to recommend individual Tumblogs. Well, I don't CARE about Tumblogs. There are TOO MANY of those. I just want the best pictures and posts. I'm not going to follow each recommended Tumblog hoping to run across cool stuff. I don't have that kind of time.

See, the Internet, it's BIG. And it's just FILLED with stuff, most of which is complete crap. That's how things work. But some stuff is awesome, which is why sites like Digg and Reddit are so popular. They go through all that stuff and people pick out the things they like, and if enough people like it, it's highlighted for everyone else to see. That's also how Tumblr's Popular page worked.

But without that filter, without any method to highlight the cool from the crap, the Internet is just white noise.

RIP, Tumblr. I will truly miss you.

Blogger Rollovers

In my recent Magic and Not A Spiral posts, I used mouse rollovers to help illustrate the differences between two images. For anyone else who uses Blogger and wants to know how, here is a handy guide.

First, Blogger doesn't (easily) allow Javascript, so this will be pure CSS. Second, I wanted the rollover code in the post to be as small and repeatable as possible. So, I used Tables (gasp!).

There are two pieces of formatting code.

Piece Number One
This goes in Layout | Edit HTML, somewhere in the CSS layout. If you don't know what the CSS layout is, probably shouldn't be playing around in the HTML. So, this guide is not for you. For everyone else, here's what to paste in:
table.rollover {
border-width: 0px;
border-spacing: 0px;
border-style: none;
table.rollover td {
border-width: 0px;
padding: 0px;
border-style: none;}
table.rollover td img {
border:0px none;
table.rollover:hover img {visibility:hidden;}
What this does is, when you create a table with the "rollover" class, it will hide any image inside the table, which will leave any background image visible. It also removes table and image borders, as my normal layout has those.

Piece Number Two
Now, whenever you want to include a rollover image, all you have to do is use:
<table class="rollover" style="background-image:url(rolloverimage)">
<tr><td height="73"><img src="regularimage" /></td></tr>
Set "rolloverimage" to the url of the image you want displayed when the mouse is over, and "regularimage" to what you want shown normally. (I don't remember why I put height=73 in there, but it works for any size image [except maybe those with height less than 73?]).

Voilà, pure CSS rollovers usable on Blogger. And here are some examples in action, using Calvin re-enacted by seefresh's lovely wife.

Production Values

Good morning, world! I love getting up before the sun, especially that part where I can stalk around my apartment like a cat, seeing everything so clearly in just the ambient light. What I don't like is the fact that I live in Cheney and absolutely no stores are open right now. So I'm going to pass some time on the computer.

First up, how do I UNSEE something? Somewhere along the line, I became aware of fake-consumption in TV shows. People "drink" from empty cups and "eat" with nothing in their mouth. I was reminded of this last night while watching LOST, when Sawyer "ate" an apple, but really it's epidemic. I watch a lot of police-procedurals, where they "drink" a lot of coffee, and it's always so SO obvious! They should start filling those empty cups with water at least, so the actors remember they can't be tossing them around.

The WORST offender was probably White Collar, another police-procedural (and one of my favorite variations, the cop+civilian team [see also: Castle, The Mentalist, Bones, Lie To Me]). There was an episode of White Collar where it was an actual plot point whether or not a glass of wine was poisoned/drugged. So the woman took a "sip". Now, this is with a crystal-clear glass, and we can all SEE that she didn't drink anything! ARGH!

Of course, this is the same show with the set-design so poor that when they close the doors in the office, the entire wall swings precariously (very visible in the first episode). Their solution? For the rest of the season, they never closed the door. And when a scene called for the door to be closed, they would foley a door-closed sound with the door a few inches open. Which we could see. There was even a shot THROUGH the gap at a character outside the office. It's like, it's like the whole THING was a joke! Arglebargle!

Anyway, my point was, good morning.