Saturday, December 16, 2006

We've Moved!

I've decided to move on. Blogger helped get me into the blogging scene and I'm thankful for that, but my needs have changed. You can now find me at the following places:

My Main Website: http://www.dragonmantank.com

My Vox Blog: http://dragonmantank.vox.com

My Web Development Blog: http://blog.dragonmantank.com

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Is YouTube Starting To Die?

YouTube has become the de-facto video sharing service on the internet. Recently though, they received a letter from Comedy Central and were forced to remove clips from their service due to DMCA violations. I've already found some of my videos that are now dead links, and will start removing them.

My question to Comedy Central: Why? There were a ton of The Daily Show and Colbert Report clips there, and countless people have started to watch the show because of it. I don't know how many times on Digg.com someone commented how they had never seen either of the shows and now watch. In fact, it was said that the Colbert Report was using a pretty nifty viral marketing strategy on YouTube - flood the service with your clips, and the people will watch the show.

There were other shows up there too, including but not limited to South Park and Comedy Central Presents. I understand that they would want full episodes taken down, but 0-5 minute clips? Those are free advertisement in the greatest sense. Comedy Central doesn't pay for someone to post them, doesn't pay for advertising, and doesn't pay for the bandwidth when they are viewed, and it only increases viewers.

One thing that people were worried about when Google purchased YouTube was it becoming like Google Video. And I think it is starting too.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Browsing Safely On The Road

I recently went on two trips, a wedding and then a business trip, and both involved getting internet access at the hotel. The hotel we stayed at at the wedding had free wireless internet, which was completely unencrypted and definately visable from the other hotels grouped around it. The second hotel had strictly wired internet which required me to sign up. Neither of them really gave me a huge amount of confidence in them keeping my information safe. What does one do? If you have broadband and a dynamic DNS account (I suggest DynDNS.org, I've used them for years without a problem), you have some options!

Remote Desktop

This is the easiest thing to set up. All you need is a broadband connection back home, a router, and a spare computer. If you don't want to spring for an extra Windows license for the machine, you can install Ubuntu Linux and use FreeNX to run a fully encrypted session through your home's internet connection. I prefer this solution over regular Windows XP Remote Desktop because it is faster, and there is less chance someone will hack your Linux box as opposed to a Windows XP machine sitting on the internet.


Tunneling via VPN

There are a couple of ways that people can tunnel their internet connection. The one that will give you the most control is a VPN. Both times I used OpenVPN to connect back home, and I did all my browsing via a remote Linux box. The tunnel kept everything encrypted just like a corporate VPN, and since I did everything through a remote computer's browser, there was no chance of my passwords being sniffed across the network. VPNing also does not restrict you to what is on a single machine. If you use iTunes or SlimServer to stream music across your network at home, you can access them just like you could if you were at home.

You can also have OpenVPN force all your traffic through the secure VPN connection. This way you do not have to set up a remote computer to do your surfing (in a normal non-tunneled VPN, all of your internet requests go through the ISP you are connected to, in this case the hotel). This is fine as long as you don't do any large downloads as that will quickly kill your VPN's bandwidth.

To set this up, I recommend replacing your home router with an IPCop linux router and installing the Zerina OpenVPN plugin for it. This will set up a VPN server (and a much nicer router than what most $50-$100 routers are) in less than 30 minutes. For your clients, you can install the command-line OpenVPN client for Linux (Ubuntu/Debian users should be able to just do a 'sudo apt-get install openvpn' if you have the extra repos set up), and Windows users can use the OpenVPN GUI.


TOR + Privoxy

This is a good last-ditch effort if you don't have broadband at home or can't set up either of the above options. TOR (The Onion Router) is a software router that takes all of your traffic through other random TOR servers out on the net. What this does is find a single TOR server, sends the request to it, which finds another TOR server and sends the request through it, so on and so on until you reach your destination. Slow, yes, but it gets the job done.

Privoxy allows you to set up a SOCKS4/5 proxy to filter different programs through TOR. You can point your IM programs, browsers, or anything else that supports SOCKS proxies to your local Privoxy install, which then pushes it through TOR. Brilliant! This will not speed up a TOR connection at all, but it gives you a good measure of protection from packet sniffers.

Well, I hope that this helps those road warriors out there a bit. In this day and age, the tools to do identity theft are free and getting easier and easier to use. The above suggestions on keeping your information private should help keep you a bit safer when it comes to the internet.

Why Maintaining Code Sucks

At my job, one of the things that I have to do is some RPG (some 3, some ILE, some a mixture of both) since I actually know some RPG. The program that I'm working on right now was created back in 2002. Yes, they still coded in RPG in 2002. And in 2006. *sigh*.

Anyway, looking over this code reminds me why I hated RPG in school. RPG is already confusing in the first place with it's many restrictions as a fixed-field programming language (everything has a specific column it must appear in, and can only be X characters long depending on the column), but it gets worse when you start mixing syntax from one generation of RPG to another.

Syntax
As an example, FOR Loops appear in two different styles:

Style 1
VARA IFNE 'Stuff'
VARA ORNE 'OtherStuff'
...

Style 2
IF VARA <> 'Stuff'
or VARA <> 'OtherStuff'
...

Let's pick a standard and stick with it people! You're updating sections of code already, why not fix the FOR loops?

Variable Naming/Comments
The other thing that stinks about RPG is that your variable names can only be a certain length. Therefore you end up with very heavily abbreviated code names (and the dreaded 'A' as an counter variable). You are then forced to rely on comments. I love commented code, even if the code itself is nice and to the point with proper variable names. I hate when someone puts in comments, something gets updated, and the comments don't reflect the change. A confusing language's readability hinges on good commenting, and it really wastes time when the comments are wrong.

SEU
I also am programming currently in the Source Entry Utility on the iSeries. It's like being in DOS in respect to the screen resolution for the terminal. I have learned that there is an IDE that we can use, and I will be asking for it. I'm a modern programmer, give me at least Notepad. At least it supports more than 80x25 resolution.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Vox

I just signed up for Vox. You can find me at http://dragonmantank.vox.com. I'm testing it out to see if I want to move the blog there instead of keep it at Blogger here, or I might just keep both open. We'll see. Let me know which you people like better.

Blog Updates

I've learned to stop playing with the template and am just using the newer version that I had. While I hate to give up the control that I had with the older one, I get some new features with the new template enginge that Blogger uses.

So. Sorry. And stuff.

Anyway, on to the blog updates:

Links
I've added a few more links over on the right-hand side. Yay.

Categories
I can now label posts and sort them via categories so you people can find things easier. One of the new perks of the new template system.

Atom Feeds
Like an RSS feed but not. So this way you can visit my site without actually having too!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Bash.org - The Ultimate Truth

#699308
<Ich> I've discovered that people on IRC don't get offended or riled up by racism
<Ich> nor politically incorrect jokes
<Ich> nor feminism, nazism,
<Ich> nor goatse, or even tubgirl
<Ich> not even jokes about 9/11 get a rise out of anybody
<Ich> but as soon as I tell somebody that macs are better than PC's, things get ugly



Such is the way of the internet...

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Embarq +1, Time Warner -1

We're moving soon, so I figured I'd call and get some prices on what I'm going to be charged for TV and internet. Right now I'm paying $100 for phone + DSL through Embarq and cable was part of our rent, but I'm going off of a baseline price of $37 dollars that I paid Adelphia before we moved and before Time Warner purchased them (which steadily rose from $30 when I moved out when getting married).

Time Warner
Our television lineup hasn't changed at all since Adelphia rolled out new channels with their digital cable a few years ago. It sucks compared to Comcast, and even compared to other Adelphia offerings within a 30 minute drive. I hate Adelphia as a company, but maybe since getting purchased things might have gotten better.

Not really. Cable channels 2-70 is now $47 a month, and 4mb/384k cable internet is $42, or I can bundle them for $90. So basic cable prices have gone up $10 since I had cable and nothing has been added. Thanks Defiance for signing a contract letting only one cable company in at a time! My 1.5meg DSL was only $30 (I say was, see below). To go up to Digital basic is only $68 a month ($58 + $10 for two boxes), so the debate will be on how much I want to pay for something that isn't that great. More than likely the $47.

Embarq (Formerly Sprint)
So my call to Embarq was merely to complain about being charged $100 for phone + caller ID + voicemail + 1.5meg DSL. The lady who answered agreed that I was being overcharged as they changed promotions only a few weeks after I signed up for that. I now pay $67 for phone + caller ID + voicemail + 3meg DSL. Sweeeeet.

How much am I out now?
Before: $100 + $0 = $100 + tax
Now: $67 + $47 = $114 + tax.

So basically for $14 more I get 3meg DSL when all is said and done. I am happy. For once Embarq has done something nice.

Friday, October 06, 2006

5th Generation iPods Kick Ass

Yesterday I thought it was time to put my old 4th generation 20gig iPod to rest, or more likely it thought it was time since it wouldn't turn on. I couldn't get my computer to recognize it even plugged in, so I considered it dead to me. It had some good times, but lately had started having problems syncing with iTunes and had developed an odd little clicking sound.

Thanks to the overtime from Linuxfest, I had a bit of extra cash to get a new one. For $250 at Wal-Mart (I didn't want to wait for it to be shipped) I picked up a new 5th gen black video iPod, and I can say, without a doubt, I am happy that I did.

I got the small 30gig model mainly because I didn't want to waste a ton of cash, and because I just recently filled up my 20gig. It was all shiny and perfect as I opened up the box. The only disappointment I've had with it is that it picks of fingerprints like CSI.

I put it through it's paces today with gtkPod, transferring what little music I had at work to it, and because it's video I scoured revision3 and TWiT.tv for video podcasts to watch. I love the screen on this thing. One of the new enhancements was a better screen over the original 5th gen iPods, and the clarity is superb. I watched Broken, CTRL+ALT+Chicken, Martin Sargent's Web Drifter, and MacBreak with no problem at all (once I downloaded the smaller quicktime files).

One of the main reasons I wanted a video iPod was the ability to watch TV shows during my lunch break. I'm addicted to quite a few shows that I don't have enough time to watch, so I record them on the computer to watch at a later date. For example, Lost has taken up quite a few gigs of space on my harddrive until I get around to actually purchasing the DVDs (and no, just in case anyone is wondering, I don't have DVD rips. Just regular ol' All-In-Wonder recordings). Unfortunately I stopped watching half way through season 2, and really need to catch up.

I found a sweet little program called Videora iPod Converter and instructions here that takes video files and converts them to iPod format. I tried two shows - The Colbert Report and Venture Brothers. The former would not work at all, but the latter look stunning on the iPod. I'm currently converting an episode of Lost to see how well it works and what I need to tweak to get it to work perfectly with any show I want to watch during lunch.

I am loving my new iPod. Since my old one isn't completely dead yet, my wife agreed to give it a good home and some love until it really needs put out to pasture. I'll miss my old 20giger, but I look forward to the times I'm going to have with my new one.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

SuSE Linux Enterprise Desktop vs Ubuntu

One of the things that I picked up over the weekend at Linuxfest was a DVD version of SLED/SLES (the server version) 10. When I got home I threw it in under VMPlayer and installed it. It ran pretty well and I loved how clean and integrated everything looked, so I figured I would install it at work since it's a business, and SLED is geared toward businesses.

I downloaded all 5 CDs from Novell since I don't have a DVD drive at work. Burned them all and rebooted with the first disk in, eager to get going. Everything went smoothly, all be it a bit slower than the DVD since I was using 3 of the 5 discs that I burned. YaST takes a bit getting used to, and I initially set up my network wrong by not supplying enough info. If you're using DHCP you won't have a problem, but with static IPs everything is spread out across 3 pages between your IP, DNS, and gateway.

After that I had a fully functional desktop. Well, almost functional. I like to listen to 98.9 The Bear at work and was using Rhythmbox under Ubuntu. All I had under SLED was Helix. Helix doesn't like streaming audio, nor streaming ASX files for that matter. I got to install Rhythmbox.

The only thing I can install off the bat is what is on the CDs. No big deal, I'm sure that YaST will let you add additional places to download programs from. I find out that YaST is broken, and should be replaced by smart. I follow the directions here on setting up smart. (As a side note, all of this reminds me why I HATE Redhat now, even though that's what I grew up using in addition to Mandrake - RPM Hell, which is made worse by yum). smart works much better than Redhat's 'yum' program even though it does the exact same thing. 'smart install rhythmbox' downloads and installs Rhythmbox. Yay!

OK, not so Yay!. I can't play ASX files. No big deal. Wait, I can't play MP3s either! Or ogg, or flac. Crap. Google, can you help?

Me: "rhythmbox suse"
Google: "Here's some websites!"
Websites: "Screw Rhythmbox, SuSE doesn't need music!"

OK, not exactly like that, but I learned that gstreamer is crippled in SuSE for some reason (even though Helix is using it as a backend...hmmm). 'smart install gstreamer*'. It grabs a bunch of gstreamer packages. None of them help me. Let's just compile it then!

First compile throws a fit about a .so file missing. Try to install it via smart but it's already installed. 'locate '. 'locate command not found'. WHAT?! What distro doesn't have locate installed by default?. I decided to install it via the GUI for smart. I get an error as I'm installing only 'findutils-locate', and X decides to commit suicide. I don't mean that X crashed or hung and a reboot fixed it. X, and all the window managers with it, jumped over the side of a cliff just like a suicidal lemming in a faked Disney documentary. All because I tried to install locate.

I really, really should have stopped there, but I didn't. I decided to do an upgrade install to see if it would just fix whatever package decided to kill my system. I needed disc 4 now. OK, no big deal, though a bit odd. Wait another 20 minutes.....X now will not use my GDM screen, and will not display JPGs or PNGs as backgrounds. Reinstall time!

The complete reinstall needed 4 discs instead of the 3 I used the first time around. Ooookay. Waited....and now it's all back up! I do some more digging around, and I find a nifty article saying that the SuSE 9.3 RPMs will work with SuSE 10, and I install the first one for MP3s. I can listen to MP3s in Totem and Rhythmbox! Still no ASX files, but I'm closer.

It's late, I go home. Later that night (and just before this long rant of a post was written), I download all the rest of the RPMs via SSHing into the box, and start to install them with the 'rpm' command. The first one has unmet dependecies. smart doesn't have them. I search the internet and find an RPM. It has unmet dependencies. I search, and find another RPM. It won't install as a newer version is installed, but the newer version doesn't have the file I need. I go to another gstreamer RPM hoping that it will install. Same damn process!

The last thing I do is wget a copy of Ubuntu Edgy Eft. I've already formatted this machine once, and my home directory is backed up. I'll just back up my e-mail again, and try out beta software from a distro I trust.

Sorry Novell, I can't recommend to my sysadmin that we look at SLED as an alternative to Windows XP. Ubuntu doesn't give me any of the headaches that SLED has today, and it makes me love APT and the Debian package management system that much more.

I'm sorry Ubuntu, I hope you can forgive me for trying something different. I'm back, and that's what matters.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Ohio Linuxfest was great!

I spent the weekend in Columbus at the Ohio Linuxfest, and had a great time. The keynote ended up being by Chris DiBona since Jeff Waugh missed his connecting flight and did not make his presentation until after lunch. My schedule was as follows:

  • Google and Open Source (Chris DiBona)

  • The Integration Holy Grail (Jorge Castro)

  • 20 things you didn t know you could do with your Apache Web Server (Richard Bowen)

  • Flipping the switch to Freedom, Ubuntu and GNOME (Jeff Waugh)

  • Securing your Email (Stephen Swaney)

  • Open Source Zero Day Attack Protection (John Buswell)

  • Commercial Grade Security using iptables Firewalls (Doug Hass)

  • Life Nude Penguins

  • Free and Open Source: The Next Steps (Jon "maddog" Hall)


  • My favorites were with Chris DiBona, Jeff Waugh, Jorge Castro, Richard Bowen, and Jon "maddog" Hall, not necessarily in that order.

    I met a few great people, and hope to attend again next year.

    Tuesday, September 19, 2006

    FSM Be Praised - Talk Like A Pirate Day

    Today is 'Talk Like A Pirate Day,' one of the more holy days in the Pastafarian religion. So everyone who has been touched by the Flying Spagetthi Monster's noodly appendage, let's show these landlubbers what it means to be true pirates!

    And for those of you who are new, some pointers.

    Saturday, September 16, 2006

    Greatest 'Kids In The Hall' sketches

    Office Trappers


    Killer Monkeys


    Sausages

    Thursday, September 14, 2006

    Wii Set For Launch Nov. 19

    November 19 is the date that the Wii is going to be launched for $250 with 'Wii Sports', and up to 25 games by the end of the year.

    I think this calls for a sexy party!

    Linkage

    Video Roundup 2

    YAY!

    Chappelle's Show: If The Internet Was Real
    Skit from the Dave Chappelle Show where he shows what it would be like if we were able to go into the internet. Almost as accurate as when Futurama did the same thing.

    RC Car Jumps House...and Lives!
    This is just cool. Car jumps over a house, and still runs after it lands.

    El Nino
    Old SNL skit where Chris Farley plays 'El Nino' on The Weather Channel.

    Guy Falls Asleep Playing Halo
    This is why you don't fall asleep playing online games.

    How Star Wars Should Have Ended
    Pretty funny.

    Return of the Numa Numa
    Not anywhere near as good as the original.

    Wednesday, September 13, 2006

    Playing World of Warcraft (or, How I Learned To Play A Bull)

    So I picked up PCGamer, and inside the DVD this month was a 14 day trial for World of Warcraft. I hate paying for monthly games and didn't want to shell out $40 for WoW and turn around and not like it, so I gave it a shot.

    6gigs of used space and the next morning, I was able to play! This was due to a 500meg update that took over 6 hours to download, and it was already 11pm when the base install finished. I played a few minutes this morning, and then for about two hours tonight.

    The only other real MMORPG I've played for any length of time was Final Fantasy XI, and at least up until this point (level 6) I haven't found a whole lot of difference. These first quests are all 'Get X number of and bring them too me,' which is all fine and dandy. I'm low level, so it'll be a bit of grinding before I start getting into the good stuff.

    The graphics are very, very nice. The game is more colorful than FFXI, but Warcraft itself is more colorful. It didn't take long to create a character, and the different choices for creating the look of your character are more varied than FFXI. The cities aren't anywhere near as expansive as FFXI's are, but I haven't been to any of the main cities yet. I do like how there are smaller cities interspersed between the larger ones, and can't wait until I get the chance to visit the bigger ones.

    If you have a character on 'The Venture Co', or I know you and you're on a different server, lemme know and I'll try and get over to play.

    Character Stats
    Coranth, 6th level Tauren Warrior
    Bloodhoof in Mulgore
    The Venture Co. server

    Tuesday, September 12, 2006

    'White and Nerdy' - New Weird Al Song

    This is going to be a great CD.

    Linkage

    Chuck Norris vs Mr. T

    Here is the second match where Chuck Norris is pitted against Mr. T!

    Linkage

    Concerned: The Half-Life and Death of Gordon Frohman

    I ran across this gem of a web-comic on digg.com a few days ago, and have finished reading it up to the newest installment. For lovers of HL or other FPS games, this is a good read. It has thusly been added to the side panel along side my other recommended comics.

    http://www.hlcomic.com/

    Monday, September 11, 2006

    The Awful Truth About Guacamolẽ

    It is my sad news to bring this to everyone, but I have learned how real guacamolẽ is made, and it is very, very tragic. This secret has been kept for many years, and needs to be let out.

    It seems that Guacamolẽ is actually made not from avacados as most cooking shows on TV would lead you to believe, but from the smashes and liquified bodies of young guacamoles (gwak-a-mole (like the animal), pictured here. Guacamolẽ chefs hunt in the wilds of Mexico to find guacamoles younger than one year, as they are not only smaller and fit in the food processor, but are also much more tender. Chefs capture them ten or so at a time, and even in larger numbers if the menu calls for a lot of Guacamolẽ.

    The young guacamoles are then smashed into a paste, with other spices added for taste. The accent at the end of the dish's name comes from the cries of the young animals as they are smashed. They give off a distress call that sounds erielly like 'olly!'.





    Once the dip is done, it is served.

    Please, next time you eat Guacamolẽ, remember the poor animals that were actually killed, and not that crappy plant that everyone thinks is used.

    Sunday, September 10, 2006

    Congratulations Ryan and Beth

    I just wanted to congratulate Ryan and Beth on their new marriage. It was a wonderful ceremony, and I hope you guys have a great life together.

    Polaroid i532

    So our old Nikon Coolpix digital camera was not living up to its former glory after a hard life, and with a wedding this weekend we decided to get another camera. I had a few tips to go off of for new cameras, but the one that I had my eye on (a nice low-end Canon model), but we couldn't wait for shipping.

    We eventually ended up at Wal-Mart which had a pretty good selection of cameras. We had a price and some general features that we wanted, like it had to be SD so that our old card worked, and the more optic zoom the better. It was down to two cameras, the Nikon that was the newer model of the one we had, and the Polaroid. The screen was bigger, so we went with it.

    It started out good as we played around with it. Good amount of features, came with everything that we needed right in the box, and the screen was excellent. Since we had a wedding to go to, it was going to get a good workout in a real-world situation.

    We first took it to the Cincinnati Museum Terminal. It didn't last long before the batteries died in the first museum we were in, or so I thought. I decided to try the camera again about a third of the way through the exhibit, and the camera showed full battery! To be safe I grabbed more batteries as we went from one section of the museum to the next, but the 'dead' batteries lasted quite a bit longer.

    I also started to dislike the fact that the camera has no eye-viewer, and that you had to always use the screen. Not a huge deal, but it would have been nice to save the screen. The screen never shuts off, and therefore wastes battery. Not a good sign.

    Next was the wedding and the reception, the true test.

    During the ceremony itself, the camera was OK. It really bugged me that the power-save feature just turned the entire camera off instead of just the screen. Our older Nikon just went to sleep, but the Polaroid had to go through the entire process if you left it alone to long.

    At the reception, the batteries died, again. I also found out that when the batteries start to die, the shutter button starts to get sluggish. I'd hit the button, and it would take almost 5 seconds to snap the picture. This was with the shot already focused, so I know that it wasn't the auto-focus. There were also a few shots I missed because the camera 'took' the picture, but apparently never wrote it to the SD card.

    We changed the batteries again, and the next problem that creeped up was the flash. Unless something is close to the flash, it won't work. Now, I don't mean I tried to take a picture across an empty room and was wondering why the little flash didn't work - if a person was within five feet of me (like someone's head in the way), I could take a picture across the room with the flash. If there wasn't anything there the picture was dark and crap.

    By the end of the night I was sick of the camera. Wal-Mart has a 30 day return policy, and this camera is going back Monday after work.

    Thanks for making me take some crappy pictures at my cousin's wedding Polaroid!

    Thursday, September 07, 2006

    xkcd - A webcomic of romance, sarcasm, math, and language

    I found this webcomic (or rather a collection or drawings and musings) via Digg last week I think. I finally made it through reading all of them, and enjoyed myself heartily. You should too. I even added it to the list over on the right!

    http://xkcd.com/

    Video Roundup

    Here's another set of videos for you poor bored people to watch:

    Chad Vader: Day Shift Manager
    This is the story of Chad Vader, the brother of Darth Vader, and his never-ending duty to manage a super market.

    Episode 1
    Episode 2
    Episode 3

    Conan O'Brien and 'Walker: Texas Ranger'
    This is when Conan had the lever that played Walker: Texas Ranger clips, and he saved this one for a special showing.

    SNL Skits
    Bathroom Monkey
    Old Glory Insurance

    World of Warcraft: LEEROY JENKINS!
    One of the few reasons that MMORPGs are hilarious sometimes.

    Burger King Outsources Order Taking
    I could honestly see this happening...

    Tuesday, September 05, 2006

    Chuck Norris Facts

    Everything you've ever wanted to know about Chuck Norris. My favorite:

    "Chuck Norris is currently suing NBC, claiming Law and Order are trademarked names for his left and right legs."

    Linkage

    And as a special treat, the first in the series in which Chuck Norris fights other greats of our time. Today he fights...Steven Segal!

    Even More Linkage

    Monday, September 04, 2006

    The Bargain Bin - Medieval: Total War

    I found this at Wal-Mart for $9.95, and it looks like Amazon has it for as cheap as $8.99. This is the second installment of the Total Wars series which started with Shogun: Total War. The best thing about these games are they that are two games in one; Total War allows you to either play a turn-based strategy game without doing any actual fighting of your troops (the computer will determine the winner of battles based on various factors much like a Romance of the Three Kingdoms game) or actually command your troops in real time.

    Medieval: Total War is also a godsend for older machines, as even with a ton of troops on the map most machines will be able to still play with very little slowdown, if any at all.

    I highly recommend the game.

    IPCop - The Bad Packets Stop Here

    This weekend I set up an IPCop Linux router for home to replace my Belkin router (in addition to a lot of other network and computer changes). My old web server is now my router, complete with intrusion detection systems via snort. Hell, it's already noticed a few MS-SQL Worm propagation attempts and stopped those (not that I have anything that I know of running MSSQL or the ports open).

    All it takes is a computer with at least two NICs installed. It found my Realtek and Netgear using the Tulip drivers and I haven't had any issues with it thus far. I also went and installed Guardian which will automatiicaly watch the IDS logs to block IPs and drop their traffic, Cutblock which allows me to terminate connections as well as block them, and a QoS shaper. All of those addons are provided by Markus Hoffman.

    I also set up the ZERINA OpenVPN server, so now I can drop my use of Hamachi for my machines.

    All in all it's a really nice firewall, and if you have an extra machine lying around and have wanted something a lot more powerful than those $100 Netgear and D-Link routers, this makes it easy to get into a powerful router.

    Saturday, September 02, 2006

    SimCity DS Screenshots

    I will definately be buying this game.

    Linkage

    Friday, September 01, 2006

    RIAA shoots themselves in the foot again

    You gotta love the RIAA. In a current case, the defendant wanted to hire a neutral party to check her hard drive. Completely reasonable, as the RIAA should have a list of things that they found on the defendant's computer which warranted the case, and the neutral party should find the same thing.

    The RIAA said that they would not go for a neutral party, but would rather have one of their own people do it.

    Riiiiiiiiight.

    Linkage

    Wednesday, August 30, 2006

    New CDs On The Horizon


    Just in case anyone cares, Weird Al has a new CD coming out soon called Straight Outta Lynwood. He's got two of the new songs on his Myspace page (which you can get to via my Myspace because, yes, I have Weird Al on my Friend's List).

    Also, Meatloaf is coming out with Bat Out Of Hell III: The Monster is Loose. You kick ass Meatloaf.

    Ubuntu as a Workstation

    One thing that has never lasted more than a few weeks for me is using Linux as a main desktop. I've given up hope that I'll be able to run it at home full time until WineX/Cedega is up to snuff to run Sims 2, though my hopes are that it is not far off.

    What I have been able to do, in the course of testing evil mechinations out at work, is try to use Linux 100%. At this point I'm counting myself at 99% as there is one set of applications that won't work under Linux as far as I know. Otherwise, everything has been going fairly smoothly.

    I install Ubunutu 6.06 (my favorite distro) on my machine after moving my XP machine to a VMWare Virtual Machine on our ESX server using Ultimate P2V (which is free minus having to own Ghost 8). Worse case scenario I could move my machine back to the physical one if I needed, but I really didn't want to.

    As expected, the install gave me just about everything I needed, especially after running Automatix. I also got brave since my real machine was safely backed up and working on the ESX server and set up AIGLX and Compiz on the machine for all of those nifty wobbly effects and eye candy that I have wanted for oh-so-long. All in all it took about a day before I got everything all nice and ironed out.

    I connected to the shares that I needed to via our file server, I was able to remote desktop into my VM'ed XP machine, I could print, and I could open up all the documents that I needed, and all with the eye-candy that I could only hope for in XP. I've been a big fan of Expose in OS X for quite a while, and with AIGLX I get that. I also find myself using ALT+SCROLLWHEEL to make windows transparent more and more often.

    We use Linux for almost all of the servers at work, so I wasn't totally worried about being able to integrate with the network. All I have left to do is get set up in the backup system so that my machine is getting backed up at night.

    Thursday, August 24, 2006

    Bookmark Roundup 1

    Since getting del.icio.us I've been bookmarking a lot of stuff lately. Here's some of the more interesting ones:

    Grand Theft Auto: National Geographic Firetruck Special
    Watch as the fearless firetruck hunt it's prey...

    Angry German Kid vs. Numa Numa Guy
    Wonderful mashup of the Angry German Kid and various viral clips. (Orignal German kid here and original Numa Numa here)

    The Easter Bunny Hates You
    This is what the Easter Bunny does during the rest of the year.

    Star Trek Inspirational Posters
    CAPTAIN JAMES T. KIRK - I'm sorry, I can't hear you over the sound of how awesome I am.

    Saturday, August 19, 2006

    Please Excuse Our Mess

    I'm in the process of checking out a bunch of the new blogger features (I've already switched the site over to the new beta version of Blogger), but will be going through and making updates to take advantage of the new things available to me.

    Wednesday, August 16, 2006

    Netflix is better than Blockbuster

    It's been a few months since we cancelled our Blockbuster Online account, mainly due to the fact that it was taking forever to get our movies. There were also times that we would send back two in a single slip, and they'd only acknowledge one made it back. To make a long story short, I don't think I'll ever use Blockbuster again.

    So Friday of last week we signed up for Netflix because we got a free trial slip in the Val-Pak. I figured it wouldn't be much different than Blockbuster, but once I got over that it wasn't Blockbuster, I am actually enjoying it more.

    As I first started using Netflix, I couldn't find any movies that I wanted. Blockbuster seemed to always have good movies right on the homepage every few days that I would check, and Netflix had crap that I didn't want to watch. That's when I noticed the 'Recommendations' tab along the top of the page. I never had much luck with the Blockbuster recommendations, but figured I would give it a try.

    I was given a few pages worth of movies, and told to rate the movies that I had actually watched. Since my wife and I both use the account we both put in the scores, and afterwards it actually came up with some decent recommendations (in addition to me adding some of the movies I was voting on as I wanted to see them again). As I vote more movies, I get more in the recommendation bin. On Blockbuster I never felt compelled to vote on movies, but I think I will on Netflix.

    As for the selection, it just seems better, especially in the non-movie department. There are a lot of TV shows and anime that I enjoy watching and only have a few DVDs for (or in a lot of the TV show cases, none at all). For example, Farscape. My friend Brian bought the DVD set for Season 2 and I watched part of it before our regular D&D game, and I found all of the seasons on Netflix. Blockbuster never seemed to have the TV shows that I wanted to watch, or had incomplete sets of Anime.

    Another example was Betterman, which I found way back when when TechTV started showing anime. I've never seen all of the episodes, and I've never found all of the DVDs for purchase. Blockbuster had three of the DVDs to rent, and two I owned. Netflix had all six of them.

    The interface overall is much nicer as well. When you add a movie to the queue, you get a nifty hover window of the page you are on with much more recommendations than what Blockbuster gave. I keep finding more and more movies through that screen to watch than I ever do by searching.

    I am sure that Netflix will slowly start to throttle me down like Blockbuster did, but I don't think I will feel as bad about it. I went with their 2 DVDs at a time plan which was cheaper than Blockbuster's 3 at a time for $19.95. Netflix was still cheaper at only $17.95 for the same package, but I think I'll keep the extra 5 dollars I'm saving over Blockbuster since I know how quickly I go through movies.

    Thursday, August 10, 2006

    It's Alive (A Tutorial in Laptop Powercord Repair)

    Some Background
    I have a wonderful Presario 705us that I got way back when when XP first came out. In fact, it was one of the first Compaq laptops that shipped with XP preinstalled. DVD/CDRW combo drive, 16meg AGP S3 video card, Athlon4 1ghz proc, it was sweet. That was over 4 years ago, and up until about a month-and-a-half ago the only problem I had with it was the powercord (ignoring the dead/almost dead CD-Rom, floppy drive that eats floppies, dead battery, and a design flaw that creates cracks in the bezel). Years of abuse took it's toll on the poor powercord, and it finally ripped apart just above the ferrite choke. I put up with it, twisting and contorting it to the point where all of the wires inside the internal strand ripped apart themselves.

    At that point, my laptop died. My wife and I are considering new laptops, but looking online made me miss my laptop. I decided to take action, figuring that it wouldn't be that hard to replace.

    I am sorry but there are no pictures. My camera was out of batteries.

    The Procedure

    • Radio Shack sells replacement ends for cheap. How cheap? Just a few dollars. I would suggest picking one up, but in a pinch (or if you're a horrible cheap bastard like me), there is a chance you can reuse your existing end. If you use your existing end, you will need to remove the plastic outside around the cord end. This can be very tricky, which is why I suggest just buying a new end. If you cannot, or desperately need the laptop now, a sharp knife is your new best friend.

    • Snip the wire below the rip/damaged part of the cord, and strip off about 1-1.5 inches of the outer sheilding. The wire is four layers deep - the outer shielding, a braided shield, another layer of shielding, and the wire strand in the middle. Now is the time to put the heatstrink of the outer portion of your new end onto the existing cable. If you don't do it now, you're going to repeat this process.

    • Twist the braided shield together into one strand. Strip off part of the inner shielding to expose the inner wire strand.

    • The new tip for the power cord will have a center tab and an outer tab. Solder the inner wire strand to the center tab on the new tip. I'm paranoid about shorts, so I wrap the newly soldered wire in electrical tape, just to be safe. Then solder the braided shielding to the outer tab.

    • Move the outer portion of the new end up and secure it (it will probably just snap into place), or heat the heatshrink around the new end, and you should be all done.

    Not terribly hard, especially if the price of a new powercord is large for your laptop. I could get a new one on eBay for about $10-20, but again, I'm a horrible cheap bastard.

    Monday, August 07, 2006

    Awesome Car Commercial

    These cars may be small and ugly, but they sure do handle well. Why can't car commercials these days look as cool?

    Friday, August 04, 2006

    I Heart OSSEC

    On Wednesday I attended my first SANS webcast, which showcased OSSEC, a HID (Host-based Intrustion Detection) system. Essentially it helps look at server and machine logs to see if anything is going wrong. It actually came at a good time, as at work we were looking into setting up a central log server and reporting system called 'syslog-ng.' I had already been working on it a few days and was having no real luck.

    I was somewhat disappointed in the webcast. The main speaker was speaking from his user's experiance and wasn't formally affiliated with the software, so some of the more technical questions weren't answered. The presentatio was interesting enough to peak out interest in OSSEC and give it a try at work.

    I kid you not, I was able to set up an OSSEC server and clients (CentOS, Ubuntu Server, and XP) in under one hour, and was already getting alerts. I then deployed it later that evening out in the work cubicles. So, in less than half of a day, I had a good testbed already set up and working. I also decided to set it up at home since I have three servers, one being an production web server and the other a remote login server.

    What does OSSEC do?
    OSSEC comes in two parts - server and client. The server sits there collecting alerts that the clients send, logs them in a central log file, and then will determine whether or not the alert is worth an e-mail (which you can set the alert level to e-mail out on).

    The client sits on the machine and reads through the logs already set up on the machine. Out of the box OSSEC can read a multitude of logs including HTTP, messages, maillog, and others. It then watches for errors and alerts the server with the information about what is going on (multiple logon failures, passwd file changes, etc).

    The server can also do what are called 'active responses' - actions to take when a particular thing happens. For example, if it sees a SSH brute force attack, it shuts the attack out via IP rules.

    How well does it work?
    By itself, very well. As I said before, it is quick to set up, and lets you know about a lot of things. The first night that I had set it up, I was alerted that one of the POP accounts had multiple failed logins as the sysadmin was trying to set it up and trying to remember the password. At home, a badly coded HTML site caused my connection at work to be blacklisted. As for the blacklisting, it is only temporary, but normally a server that blacklists an attacker causes them to move on to easier targets.

    Why should I care?
    If anyone ever plans to set up servers (be it file servers, or like in my case a web server), or they have a lot of machines in the home that they want to keep track of problems on but are too lazy to manually check logs, OSSEC is a great alternative, and lets you get on with admining or running your machines without having to waste time digging through logs.

    Linkage
    OSSEC Homepage

    Wednesday, August 02, 2006

    The Net Netrality War: "Nobody gets a free ride!"

    I love it when people go off on a subject that they have no real understanding about. AT&T's Ted Whitacre spoke with utility regulators in San Francisco yesterday, and one of the issues brought up in the Q&A section was about net netrality.

    AT&T, for whatever reason, thinks some of the larger content companies are getting a free ride, as if they are magically on the internet without paying anything (if this is true, I will immediately conglomerate into a company for the bandwidth, e-mail me details if anyone knows!), while AT&T is paying for all the bandwidth. Gah?

    Either Whitacre and the other telcos are confused about how the internet actually works, or they have started having an issue with the peering agreements at the really-big-pipe level. On one hand I would say that they can't be that stupid and think that Google and other content providers aren't paying for their internet. I'm sure that Google, Slashdot, Digg, etc have huge upstream bandwidth bills which get paid to their respective ISPs.

    Even at that point, they can't be talking about homegrown ISPs and the bandwidth AT&T and others have to give to the smaller ISPs. Ask just about any small ISP sysadmin, and I'm sure that they will tell you that they are paying an arm and a leg for a good backbone to the internet (and most of that is due to upstream).

    That leaves one last set of people who may not be paying - the home and business DSL/Cable customers. Whitacre knows they are at least paying as most broadband in this country costs $40+ for crap connections (in comparison to many other countries).

    Lets recap:
    Google - Paying their ISP
    ISPs - Paying their Backbone providers
    Customers - Paying their ISP

    That leaves the large peering systems in place to move all of the internet's information from one network to the next. While there is no monetary exchange that I know of in this agreement, it's a favorable agreement (I won't charge you if you don't have me) kind of thing. So, in a sense, they are getting paid by not being charged.

    Where does that leave consumers like you and me? Probably with larger broadband bills. Yay!

    AT&T's Whitacre: 'Nobody Gets a Free Ride' article

    Tuesday, August 01, 2006

    Slashdot vs Digg: The Epic Struggle

    Yesterday I finished listening to FLOSS Weekly Episode 10 which had Jeff Bates (better known as Hemos) as a guest. He was one of the original founders of Slashdot. Among the great banter of the show, one of the things that was brought up was Digg and it's impact on Slashdot. Long story short (at least as how I take it) - Digg may have rocked the boat a bit, but they are two different services at their core and therefore room for both.

    The biggest difference between Slashdot and Digg is how the sites ultimately function. Slashdot takes the editorial stance where people submit links, a human reviews them, and then if they think there is merit to the story then it is pushed onto the website. What happens is almost all of the stories that reach the front of Slashdot are legitimate stories with a bit of meat to them.

    Digg, on the other hand, is completely user driven. The users vote stories to the front page, and all kinds of stories will end up at the front for people to see. Some of the more off-the-beaten-path stories can surface, and with DiggV3, a person can aggregate their news from many different sources than just tech stories.

    Both, of course, share the same problems. Duplicate stories are a waste of bandwidth (but sometimes a new, interesting comment will crop up in the dupes), and it seems that as a site gets bigger this happens more and more. Digg, for example, seems to have almost 1-2 dupes a day with the new V3, which beforehand I never noticed many dupes. Slashdot has always had dupes, and always will.

    As far as comments go, Slashdot tends to have the better comments. I took the advice of Leo Laporte during the FLOSS episode above, and signed up for a Slashdot account. I set my comment threshold to +3 karma or higher, and you get rid of a lot of the crap that was in the comments (though, it's still a good idea to see what humorous things were posted). Digg doesn't seem to have reached that level of commenting where such things are needed, but the comments are not Digg's main focus.

    Jeff Bates said during the interview that Digg's explosion in popularity may or may not have hurt Slashdot (it's hard to tell since summer is slower stastically anyway, and RSS feeds (which are a big way many people read slashdot) are a hard way to gauge actual user numbers), but he said that there are some things that Slashdot will evolve because of, but that is the beauty of Slashdot - the way it is designed it can adapt with time. Digg seems to have been able to hold up as well, but sometimes not as gracefully.

    All in all, it boils down to what fits best with you. For me, I check Slashdot every day in the morning during my normal rounds of web-comics and tech sites, and Digg throughout the day. I have them both on my Google homepage so if anything interesting pops up, I read them both. One is sometimes quicker than the other, but both are a great source for the world that is geek and tech.

    Saturday, July 29, 2006

    This week in Video Games

    Greatest 10 years in Video Game History
    A compilation of the greatest single years in the history of video games.

    The List

    Halo 3 is the End (XBox 360)
    Halo 3 will be the end of the line for this loved FPS series. Can't find a working link for this story, but it's true, I read it earlier.

    Opera Browser for the DS Tested... (Nintendo DS)
    ...and the results don't look that grand. Slow loading along with poor page rending (and missing Flash and probably other plugins) means that the web experiance is probably just a bash at the PSP and it's ability to surf the web. Will it be worth it? Probably not. (As a side not, at least the DS lets you use the stylus to navigate, really the only thing it has over the PSP.)

    1Up's test of the Opera Browser for DS

    Final Fantasy III Trailer Released (Nintendo DS)
    Final Fantasy III is shaping up to be a very cool looking game. It will be nice to have a real RPG to play on the DS in true Final Fantasy fashion.

    Final Fantasy III Trailer on YouTube

    Hideo Kojima and Super Smash Brothers (Nintendo Wii)
    Stuff about the Wii keeps getting better and better. It seems that Hideo Kojima will be creating the stage for Snake in the Wii's Super Smash Bros. Brawl. Can this game get any better?!

    Hideo Kojima to create Snake's Super Smash Bros. Brawl Stage

    And to round out the news...

    Developers don't really like the PS3
    It seems that developers also think that $500-600 for a gaming system is a bit much these days. If they and the target audience think that people aren't going to shell out that much cash on the PS3, the developers won't make any money off of PS3 ports or exclusives. Developers are therefore focusing their attention on the 360 and the Wii. Lemme go grab a hammer to put in this new nail into the coffin that the PS3 has built for itself.

    Developers are steering away from the PS3

    Saturday, July 22, 2006

    The Amazing Screw On Head

    It looks like the SciFi channel has picked up the pilot to a new show from the creator of Hellboy called 'The Amazing Screw-On Head'. It's a great combination of Lovecraftian mythology, vampires, the undead, action, comedy, and Abraham Lincoln (sadly, not Evil Lincoln, but Good Lincoln more than makes up for it). Watch the pilot and fill out the survey. Don't let this show die!

    The Amazing Screw-On Head

    'Products Featured' Updated

    In case anyone cares, the 'Products Featured' list has been updated to include some of the books recently reviewed as well as other stuff I've talked about it. If you get an inkling to purchase any of those items, feel free to use the links in the posts or on the Products Featured page!

    Friday, July 21, 2006

    'Hot Coffee' has Finally Cooled

    So it appears that the FTC Investigation over the whole 'Hot Coffee' mod is finally over. Take-Two Interactive got a slap on the wrist and was told not to do it again. I think that this was the right decision.

    I think this because really Take-Two and Rockstar didn't do anything wrong. Yeah, it was a poor decision to leave the code in the game, but aren't many other programmers (game developers or otherwise) susceptible to leaving unused code hidden away either via comments or just completely unused blocks of code? I can't imagine that, with all the developers used to create GTA: San Andreas, they would rather rip out vast chunks of code that could result in errors, or rip out the ability to activate the code. When there is a deadline on something that everyone is waiting for, it's easier to take the shortcut.

    If anyone would really want to get technical about the situation, if Take-Two did get in trouble, couldn't they legally go after the mod's creators? Most EULAs in this day and age (and laws such as DMCA) could make modding illegal if the right spin is put on the reading of those two texts. I saw this great comment on Slashdot which really makes sense:

    "For example, let's say that I included the following type of code in a huge program that I'm writing. (No comments about the Perl. I'm just making an example.)

    $ESRB = "Neutral";
    if ($ESRB eq "Evil") {
    print "The ESRB is a bunch of fucking, holier-than-thou, moralistic morons.\n";
    print "And you're mother's ugly, too.\n";
    }

    Obviously, that code is never meant to be seen because $ESRB is being explicitly set to bypass the if statement. So, I compile the whole program, with the code that was never meant to be seen, get a "T" rating for the whole program, and release the program. In my EULA is an explicit statement that no one is allowed to modify the code.

    Then some moron sees it in the compiled code and releases an unauthorized hack to change $ESRB to "Evil". Suddenly, there's a big bruhaha because it should have been "M" due to the language of the code.

    Now the ESRB and Thompson are on my case for not revealing the code that was in there. WHY? The code was never meant to be seen - not even as an Easter egg. There is no reasonable expectation of me letting the ESRB know that the code was in there because there was no reasonable expectation that it would ever be seen. Someone went in without my permission and modified the code to see something that was never meant to be seen.


    This also helped shed light on what society itself is ultimately turning into. Sure, it's OK for little Billy Elevenyearold to beat up hookers, firebomb random groups of people, hear vast amounts of profane language, and commit innumerable acts of violence, but god forbid he see two polygonal people (fully clothed, mind you) engage in a sex-like act! Were they afraid that the mini-game was too hard for him to mash the buttons quickly enough and he would be disappointed?

    But it's not the parents fault! Take-Two Interactive should have never let such a game be produced that little kids could play! What, almost all stores are required to see a driver's license and put in a year of birth to purchase 'M' rated games, but little Billy cried until his mom wanted him to shut up and bought him the game? It's all the store's fault! They should have told Billy's mom that this wasn't a game for children! She didn't care when the clerk said the game wasn't really for children as the clerk, being old enough to play the game, witnessed the scene of Billy whining to his mom and knew who she was buying the game for? It's still not his mom's fault! It has to be someone else’s!

    When I have children, I'm not going to just plop them down with a game to shut them up. I hope that they have a healthy appetite for video games, but I'll pay attention to what they play or what they watch on TV. This would be a non-issue if parents actually took the time to keep track of what heir children are playing, watching on TV, doing on the internet, etc.

    I'm glad the Take-Two Interactive and Rockstar didn't get in trouble. It sounds like something great and wonderful has been achieved and this will never happen again, but it's going to be business as usual once again.

    Mike Nelson to give mainstream movies the MST3K treatment

    Do you feel that some of the movies coming out of Hollywood are just, well, missing something? RiffTrax are downloadable audio tracks that you play in sync with your DVDs. They are written and performed by Mike Nelson, former host and head writer of Mystery Science Theater 3000.

    read more | digg story

    Thursday, July 20, 2006

    Columbus, Here I Come!

    So one of the perks of my new job in IT is training and conferences. I'm not even past my first 90 days, so hopefully what I learned today is a good thing for my future - I'm being sent to Ohio Linuxfest 2006! I'm missing out on the SANS Conference in Las Vegas, but hey, there are more things that I'll hopefully get to end up doing.

    The website is sparse about what all will be dgoing on this year at Linuxfest, but one thing that I will gain, besides a better knowledge of Linux in general, is swag.

    If anyone who reads this blog is going to be attending, feel free to drop me a line and let me know. We'll tally up how much stuff we got and see who wins "King of Swag."

    Ohio Linuxfest 2006

    Wednesday, July 19, 2006

    Erik Mongrain - Kick Ass Guitar Soloist

    With my new job and the accompanying new 25 minute drive to work every day, I've gotten a lot more time to listen to podcasts (I'll eventually link them over on the side). While listening to the latest Diggnation they had a link to this guy playing a guitar in a very unique way. I checked out the other videos that he has on Youtube, and if you are a fan of acoustic guitar (I love any guitar, but acoustic is my favorite), you would do well to check out his videos.

    According to Erik's Youtube page he has a CD coming out soon. Hopefully I'll get a chance to get it and take a listen.

    Erik Mongrain's Youtube Profile

    Sunday, July 16, 2006

    Goodbye Vista

    Well, it didn't even last a day. Not because of incompatibilities or anything of that nature, but of little annoyances that just grew over time.

    Administrator Authorization
    While it's a far cry from the 'It takes 10 steps to delete a shortcut', it gets in the way of everything. You can't make the simpliest change without it popping up and bugging you. Yes, it's in the name of security, but at least with OS X and Linux, they keep the authorization long enough for you to do multiple tasks. Vista seems to drop the authorization as soon as it finishes that one task.

    Deleting Files
    This could just be my machine, but when I went to delete a bunch of files off of a second partition, it took me over 30 minutes to delete 10 folders. For some reason, it would delete all the files inside, and then turn around and tell me that it couldn't find 90% of the files inside the folder, and if I wanted to create them. Telling it 'Yes' put it in some sort of cyclic deletion where it would create, delete, not find, and then start over. Telling it to 'Skip' would work after manually telling it to skip almost all of the files that used to be in there (if I told it to remember my answer, it acted like it was doing something for about 30 seconds and the dialog box would disappear without doing anything). This occured while emptying the Recycle Bin or doing a shift-delete.

    Slowness of the Classic Theme
    I don't know how or why, but the Classic theme was slower than the Aero theme. Vista started getting really slow after it rebooted this morning, so one of the things I did was switch to the Classic theme, and it was worse. Granted, using Aero without the transparency made Aero faster, but Classic was still slower than that.

    Program Installations
    Some programs that used an autorun front-end to do the installation (such as you put in a CD, and if asks you what you want to install), which die saying that I needed elevated privileges. Apparently Windows didn't want to ask me to authorize the install, and it goes back to Vista dropping the authorization bit after the current task was done.

    So, right now XP is reinstalling on my machine since I found the CD. It may not be perfect, but there are less annoyances than with Vista.

    Saturday, July 15, 2006

    Vista (vs XP vs Ubuntu Desktop vs OSX) installation

    Vista just finished installing. I thought I would put it up against XP, Ubuntu, and OS X to see how everything stacked up.



    Installation


    Windows Vista


    Looks nice and didn't give me any hiccups. It's a vast improvement over the XP installer. It didn't seem any faster than what XP seems to take while installing, so Vista (at least Beta 2) still took around 40 minutes. It still does everything, and is cryptic about what it is doing. It's hands off, requiring only me typing in the serial key and clicking 'Next' a few times. It could still use a bit of polishing around the edges, but I assume it will be cleaned up before Vista officially ships.

    Windows XP


    The same installer look as NT4 and Windows 2000. It's familar and not hard to use at least, but compared to newer OSes like OSX, user-friendly Linux distros, and Vista, it looks extremely dated.

    Ubuntu


    Quickest install of the three. Only about 15 minutes to run through the installer (compared to my 1ghz PIII machine which took a whopping 20 minutes, still beating the Vista and XP installs). And, while it's installing, I can still get online, chat, and use a basic desktop as Ubuntu Desktop now installs via a LiveCD interface.

    OS X


    Very pretty install. Not hard to do at all. Took a long time on my iMac, but it's an older model. Took over one hour to install, which was really my only gripe.

    Winner: Ubuntu Desktop 6.06


    First Reboot into Desktop


    Vista


    It found all my hardware. I wasn't expecting that from a beta OS. Soundcard, Video card, NIC, it was all there. The only thing it didn't find was my onboard NIC (3com gigabit ethernet) which is dead anyway, so I never count it. It asked me to set up my first user, what background I wanted, and then the time. After that, it gave me my login screen I logged in. Very, very impressive. I lowered the Aero-glass effect to help speed some things up, but that was it. The only gripe is the security pop-ups in Vista. That is annoying as all get out, especially when you were asked by Vista to confirm something (such as network info), and then it asks if you authorized the change.

    Windows XP


    Thank God it at least found my NIC. Now I get to hunt down drivers (but not before turning on my firewall, just in case). Out of the box the only thing that worked was the video card only in SVGA mode, and my USB at 1.1 speeds.

    Ubuntu


    Everything is there minus accelerated video drivers from ATI. It at least makes the effort to install the Ubuntu ATI drivers which work fine for everything but that requiring 3D acceleration. Sound, network, and everything else works. Now onto the updating phase.

    OS X


    Everything worked. I had to do nothing but change the resolution from 800x600 to 1024x768.

    Winner: Tie between Vista, OS X, and Ubuntu


    Updating


    Windows Vista


    There was a section during the install that said 'Installing Updates.' I didn't see any massive network traffic at that time, so either there are no updates, or they were small. There was one optional update, and that was it.

    Windows XP


    This is, hands down, the worst part of installing Windows XP. Not only do you have to install updates out of the box (which is forgivable, all OSes are like that), but then there are updates for the updates! And I don't mean installing SP2 and then the updates for that, I mean installing a security update, and then installing another update because that previous update broke something else. It takes longer than the first two phases (install + driver install).

    Ubuntu


    I got a pop-up telling me to update. I clicked 'Download Updates' and continued using my computer while everything downloaded in the background. Had to run the update only once. It required a reboot at the end, but did not make me do it until I was ready.

    OS X


    Pretty much the same as Ubuntu, minus the reboot. Took forever as it reindexes the harddrive, and it was too slow to use while it was installing the updates (again, a problem due to my machine's age).

    Winner: Ubuntu (No Vista as there are no updates)


    Totals:
    Windows Vista: 1
    Windows XP: 0
    Ubuntu: 3
    OS X: 1


    So, Ubuntu wins, at least this round. So far my only gripe with Vista is the stupid security pop-ups. I understand that Microsoft wants to make security a big issue with the new OS, but this is paranoia. Even OS X and Ubuntu do not ask for this many confirmations.

    Vista Beta 2 - Will I Like It?

    So, my Windows install has started doing some very funky things. Live Messenger refuses to run, even after an install, as does Money 2006. The Sims 2 has started to randomly lock up when it loads things (such as families, lots, etc). Overall Windows XP is just acting weird, and making me mad. So I'm formatting.

    I'd really like to switch to 100% non-Microsoft in the house, but things like The Sims 2 are keeping me from doing just that. All of my machines are running Ubuntu 6.06 (in the case of my servers and my remote desktop machine thanks to FreeNX), and my wife's computer is the Mac OSX machine (which is the machine I'm currently writing this post on).

    So, I can't find my Windows XP install disc. I've got this copy of Windows Vista Beta 2 laying here that I signed up for but never installed, so I think I'm going to give it a shot. My hardware isn't brand-spanking new by any means, but it's generic at least. Realtek, Soundmax, ATI, AMD, and ASUS are the parts that are in my main box, so even Vista shouldn't have an issue. Ubuntu never has, so this should be interesting.

    About the only special things I need Vista to do correctly is play games, mostly from The Zone and other websites like Yahoo! (my wife loves those games), and Sims 2. If it does that without giving me a fit, I may upgrade to Vista when it comes out. In reality, if WINE is up to snuff and running DirectX by that time, I'll probably be using Linux, or I'll have another Mac in the house to replace my Windows machine.

    I'll be using Vista for as long as I can stomach it, and get back to everyone on how it runs.

    If nothing else, the install program is pretty.

    Friday, July 14, 2006

    Zombies - They WILL Eventually Come

    I recently finished The Zombie Survival Guide, by Max Brooks (yes, the son of the great Mel Brooks). I've been reading a lot, sue me.

    My rational fear of a zombie attack is given even more ground by this book. The world is woefully underequipped for a zombie attack. Hell, I'm apparently underprepared for the day that the dead will arise from their graves (or the zombie disease will begin to spread, whoever it comes). Don't make the mistake thinking that the undead won't appear at your doorstep at some point and demand a bite of that warm, delicious brain that sits inside your skull.

    I now have a leg up over the vast majority of you people. My wife thinks I'm crazy, but I'll be the only one still surviving after society has been turned upside down by the undead menace. If you value your brain, life, and continued existance, at least start preparing.

    Don't let the following happen to you (from Shaun of the Dead):

    "[Coming across zombified Pete] "Ah! Sorry, Pete, sorry... listen, we're gonna borrow your car, okay, hope you don't mind and - ah - later on, if you're feeling better, w-we're going down to the pub, so you're m-more than welcome to, to... [whispered] join us.""

    As a side note, I love the drawings in this book. They lend even more credence to the subject matter.

    Tuesday, July 11, 2006

    New Atari 2600 Game Released

    The game, called "A-VCS-Tec Challenge", fits into 8K, graphics, sound and all. It is being released as a limited-edition cartridge for 2600 enthusiasts who still have working consoles.

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    Sunday, July 02, 2006

    Book Review: Amber and Iron - The Dark Disciple Volume 2

    Amber and Iron - The Dark Disciple Volume 2


    Amber and Iron picks up where the first volume, Amber and Ashes, left off. Chemosh, under the impression that Mina is in fact dead (thanks to an illusion spell cast by Nuitari's mages in the Tower under the Blood Sea), has moved into his Castle Beloved near the Blood Sea as he awaits his Children of Chemosh to gather and become the perfect army.

    With the help of the death knight Ausric Krell, he discovers Nuitari's trick. Nuitari had faked Mina's death in an effort to find out what it was that the gods wanted with her, and in the process discovered a few interesting tidbits.

    Rhys Mason, the former monk of Majere, continues his quest to track his brother Llue and find a way to stop him. In the town of New Port he does, but the price to stop the Children of Chemosh is terrible. The news makes it to the Conclave of Mages and spreads throughout the clerics of Ansalon, but the debate rages on about the best way to deal with the Beloved.

    Mina reunites with Chemosh as Zeboim attacks the Tower under the Blood Sea, overcoming the two archmages in the tower, and finding her way to the secret of the Tower. Chemosh is angered by Mina's lack of artifacts brought back, and eventually shuns her after trickery caused by Krell.

    Mina vows to return to Chemosh's favor, and with a stunning display of power the gods are stunned. Majere, the ever patient god of Light, ends this chapter of the tale with the true news of Mina.

    Friday, June 30, 2006

    Greatest Social Experiment in History

    Whoever 'Mike' is from eon8.com, I congratulate you.

    For those of you that hadn't gotten swept up in the massive digital tide that was eon8.com, let me enlighten you. A strange internet poster known as x21b made a few vague posts about a website, eon8.com. These messages were cryptic, including random strings of text and links to files for download.

    Visiting eon8.com would give the user a feeling that they were unwanted. Ominous error messages pertaining to security audits being failed, actions being recorded, and so on prevailed. The glory of this website was a counter, counting down until July 1st at midnight. The counter was elaborate in the fact that it took into account fake times on the computer, and relied on the server's time.

    The site even had 'Secure Areas' protected by an SSL script and required HTACCESS usernames/passwords. Overall, the site looked like it really could be something bad.

    I came across the site while reading Digg.com, which I am guessing is what sparked this gigantic moment in internet history. I saw forums crumble and die as a result of people pooling their knowledge (and that knowledge being ignored, and rediscovered over and over and over because people are too busy to read the previous posts) together in an effort to find out what is going on. Unfiction, I thank you for at least humoring the amount of new traffic that you now have. I may even join.

    IRC channels began to pop up in an effort to keep the forum servers from dying as the counter got closer and closer to its mark. I joined two, just to see if there would be any difference (and there really wasn't).

    The clocked ticked away......it finally reached Zero.....

    And (wonder of wonders) the page auto refreshed to nothingness as hundreds of thousands of people effectively requested the site at once.

    For those that got in, they were greeted with a message from the site's creator. To summarize:

    "{eon8} Complete
    As of July 1st, 2006, the E8 Project has completed.
    The purpose of this project was to determine the reactions of the internet public to lack of information."

    Mike, I wish to one day shake your hand, or at least duplicate what you accomplished on this night. The only thing you have to fear now are the rabid, disappointed geeks that are now probably finding out where you live, stealing all of the money from your bank accounts, signing you up for massive amounts of gay porn (or straight porn, in case you are gay), and the zombies that I have resurrected and are eager for your brains.

    Oh, and the gigantic bandwidth bill in case you didn't notice that the site was hugely popular.

    As a side note, leave a comment if you want to see all the files associated with the completion of eon8.com, I have them saved to keep as part of internet history.

    Thursday, June 29, 2006

    Chronicles of George

    For anyone who has worked in technical support and had to work with people of poor verbal/written communication skills, please read the following website and laugh your ass off. I nearly passed out from some of the posts on this website.

    Thanks John.

    Chronicles of George

    Tuesday, June 27, 2006

    $25 iMac = Mac Happiness

    So during my hiatus on posting on this blog, my local high school had a garage sale. I was hoping to pick up a new laptop since my Compaq has become a fire hazard due to the powercord, but alas I got there too late. While it started at 2pm, my wife and I arrived about 10 minutes early and people were already carting things out.

    I had been tipped off that there were going to be quite a few iMacs there, and there were. At least two had been sold, but there were almost 25 left. It was nothing but the light bluish-green iMacs, but sticking out like a sore thumb was a Grape iMac. It contained a stock 333 G3 proc, but had been upgraded to a 30gig HD and 96 megs of RAM, and was running OSX. I paid $25, and the iMac was all mine (after a few trips to pick it up after the were supposed to wipe it clean).

    With just a bit of trouble on my part, I got it up and running after reinstalling Mac OS 10.3.9. I installed Thunderbird and Adium, and my wife now has a computer to match her corner of the office.

    I myself am very pleased with how well it runs. I did upgrade the RAM to 160meg since my laptop is dead (and thanks Apple for deciding to use SO-DIMMs in the iMacs instead of regular desktop RAM. I had planned on raiding my server for RAM, but no...)

    If anyone is looking for a nice internet computer, getting an old iMac is well worth the few bucks. Here are a few iMacs available at Amazon.com, both old and new.

    Monday, June 19, 2006

    USB Teddy Beat Holds Data, Scares Children

    Hilarious story about a somewhat creepy but funny usb drive.I will build one, this is so awesome!

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    Lost Mother 3 / Earthbound 64 found?

    Beta discs of Mother 3 / Earthbound 64 have surfaced

    read more | digg story

    Sunday, June 18, 2006

    Open Source Windows Clone ReactOS releases 0.3 RC1

    ReactOS is a free software implementation of Microsoft Windows.

    You can test it without installing by using a Live CD, or Images to be run by emulators. It already works with Software like Microsoft Office and Nero Burning Rom and games like Deus Ex and Unreal Tournament.

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    IMDB for Comic Books

    ComicBookDB.com is the fastest-growing comic database on the web. The first goal of this project is to catalog every comic, graphic novel, manga, creator, character and anything else that could possibly relate to the field of comics. And it is built by anyone and everyone who wants to help.

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    Friday, June 16, 2006

    US Senate has no idea what videogames are

    On Wednesday the Senate fired many angry blows against the gaming industry and the ESRB for "poor ratings" and violence, but nobody at that hearing seemed to know what they were talking about. They thought you could STILL buy hot-coffee-capable GTA and they showed the most violent GTA footage possible and claimed it was "part of the game".

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    Tuesday, June 13, 2006

    The Best Games Never Published

    TwitchGuru explores the video game industry's development hell to find the greatest games never published.

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    Pocket NES Emulator running Mario on Motorola Q! (w/ video)

    "Wow, what can't this phone do? We've already heard about the Motorola Q allowing users to watch TV through Slingplayer Mobile, and rock the satellite tunes through XM Radio, but the latest video that has popped up on the internet shows the Q running "Pocket NES.""

    read more | digg story

    Sunday, June 11, 2006

    Funny Videos of the Day

    This video is just hilarious, because I have seen all of these dances:
    Evolution of Dance

    Any video containing Bob Saggett and George Lucas rule:
    Bob Saggett Video

    Leave it up to the Japanese to create the most kick-ass doomsday simulation ever!:
    Doomsday

    Mario doesn't have it any easier than the rest of us:
    Life of Mario

    Rare Nintendo Prototypes Discovered

    This lucky person has put up the collection for sale on eBay a piece at a time, releasing new copies of the Star Fox Championship Weekend game pak into circulation as well as prototype versions of Tetris and The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past plus the second known copy of the English version of Earthbound for the NES.

    read more | digg story

    Saturday, June 10, 2006

    Top 50 Game Ending Songs

    You will no doubt find some old favourites in the list, and probably a lot of other titles you�ve never played or even heard of. There are MP3 files for each one of the songs.

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    Thursday, June 08, 2006

    This website is down because someone removed the X-Box

    A frugal public university installed a Linux'ed Xbox as a student server. Of course, most people wouldn't suspect that an Xbox might be a file server. You can probably guess what happens next.

    read more | digg story

    Wednesday, June 07, 2006

    Blizzard's Secrets Revealed

    Several articles outlining in detail how Blizzard Entertainment (makers of World of Warcraft, Warcraft, Starcraft, Diablo, etc) have gained power, how they are wielding power, and the how the entire game industry has changed because of them. Especially how the rest of the world has changed views of people that play multiplayer games.

    read more | digg story

    Tuesday, June 06, 2006

    Play Zork over the phone

    Zasterisk is the old text-adventure game Zork, implemented as a voice-based game that you play over the phone using the open source phone-switcher Asterisk.

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    The Wii Virtual Console: How it will change everything.

    The Wii Virtual Console has the potential to be one of the biggest things to hit gaming in a long time. Imagine having a huge library of great games all available to you at any time. The controller is not the only part of the Wii that is truly revolutionary. This could mean big things if Nintendo plays its cards right.

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    Monday, June 05, 2006

    Fothyl's Adventures in Cyrodiil

    I finally picked up Oblivion, and I'm loving it. It runs pretty decently on the Radeon 9700, if only at 1024x768. It's not anwhere near as bad as I thought it would be.

    Because I'm a big geek and the Elder Scroll games are extremely open ended, my character Fothyl (a Nord Knight who casts destruction magic) has decided to keep a log of what is going on in his life. Check it out at http://fothyl-oblivion.blogspot.com.

    The No Internet Connection Blues

    Assuming anyone actually reads this blog, you'll have noticed a distinct drop in the frequency of my updates since this weekend. This is because my DSL connection is down. Yippie.

    In an effort to not be without internet, I've tried finding open wireless APs around me, tried my hand at WEP cracking, and even going so far as to hobble together the worst wireless antenna setup ever. What do I get out of it? 20% packet loss.

    The fruits of my labor shall be for naught, however. In the course of my desperate attempts to create an internet connection, I have learned much (among failing much). I shall impart such knowledge unto thee.

    Wireless AP Searching/WEP Cracking
    Perhaps one of mankind's greatest inventions was the Linux Live CD, specifically the Auditor Security Collection. This nify Live CD has just about any network testing program you can think of, both wired and wireless. Using a guide found at http://www.tomsnetworking.com, I learned how to use Kismet. I did not get to actually crack a WEP key as the one wireless network that had clients connected...I already knew the WEP for.

    Overall though, the guide is very in-depth and well written. It oulines how to run the software, what some of the things mean, and the third part of the tutorial even shows how to secure yourself against such hacks. It's amazing what a 13db panel antenna and a 200mw card will pick up. If you live in a fairly populated area, it might be worth a shot to check out what wireless packets are floating around.

    Please keep in mind you will need a Prism-based chipset in your wireless card. I did everything with a Senao NL-2511CD EXT2(F200)CY card ripped from a dead Engenius (Senao) bridge. From what I understand the cards themselves can be kind of hard to come by, so check on eBay for them. (As a side note, you can use those cards in a WET11 v1 box. Strangely, I got a few more DB doing this than compared to a regular Engenius bridge, but it may just be coincidence).

    The Live CD is worth checking out, especially if you have a Prism-based card. The only thing wrong in the above tutorial is a command that was left out - to turn on 'Monitor' mode fot he NL-2511CD EXT2 cards (which the tutorial recommends), you have to run the following command before trying out airodump:

    monitor.wlan [card id] [channel]

    My Crappy Wireless Connection Setup
    After my failed attempts at finding an open AP, I resorted to using my work's wireless towers. I have no line of sight, the Frankenbridge (Senao card inside a WET11 box), and two antennas - a 13db, and an 18db panel. Strangely the 18db panel is no better than the 13db, so I decided to not use it. Since work has access to lots of wireless equipment, I am now connected to the tower using a 13db panel, plugged into a 500mW amp (12db gain), plugged into a spare Engenius (~10db gain), netting me a total of 12db. So, doing the math, with just an unamped bridge I'm at...-23db signal. That's awesome.

    And to top it all off, I have to mount the antenna in the bedroom window (ie: it's sitting on top of the bottom window pane beind held by only the blinds), not the office. So I've got my wireless router in the bedroom plugged into the bridge, and then the Frankenbridge in the office pulling the signal in that way. Because the Senao card has no real antenna and the jumper from the box I ripped it from is cracked, I've got even more loss in the office!

    I miss my DSL...

    Great tornado photos

    Scroll down just a bit for a collection of amazing tornado pics.

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    Friday, June 02, 2006

    Ubuntu Dapper Drake Released

    I did the upgrade yesterday, and it was the least painful upgrade I've ever done on any computer. If you have Ubuntu 5.10 (Breezy Badger) or one of the Release Candidates of Dapper installed, you just run the regular 'Update Manager' and it pulls it all down while you continue to work on what you were doing. After it's all done, restart at your convience, and you're all set.

    Total time to do two machines: 30 minutes, both downloading at 110kbps a second. Not a single problem on either machine.

    Software Stacks
    I still have my server running 5.10, and will most likely upgrade when I have too. One thing that Drake has are 'stacks' of software to do common software setups, such as LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP) installs. While doing 'apt-get install apache php4 mysql' works too, but should be a much tighter integration.

    Virtualization
    Ubuntu has been working with VMWare, and now VMWare Player is available via apt. Now I can run VMWare Player without having to jump through hoops to get it to work on Linux. It is currently downloading, so we'll see how well everything works.

    Other Updates
    Gnome has also been updated, as well as other core programs. I'm not seeing a gigantic difference in things after the upgrade, but the boot-up and shutdown times are much faster now. If only Ubuntu had a nice, built-in way to play many commercial 3D games, I'd be all set. As for right now, it does everything other than that.

    You can download Ubuntu Dapper Drake 6.10 here.

    Wednesday, May 31, 2006

    Windows Vista - Deleting a shortcut is just a few clicks away....

    Microsoft is really trying to focus on enhanced security in Windows Vista. One thing they are trying to do (like OSX and Linux) is really make sure that what you are doing what you think you are. In OSX and Linux this works really well (basically enter a password to go 'root' temporarily for a command, such as changing IP addresses and the like), but Windows has become a bit paranoid.

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    Tuesday, May 30, 2006

    Hasbro introduces Transformers Classics line

    The new series of figures will feature updated versions of the first generation of TRANSFORMERS, inspired by the look and spirit of the original figures and characters. The line will include favorites: OPTIMUS PRIME, Bumblebee, Astrotrain and Megatron which will be represented as a blaster for the first time since the 1980's.

    I love Transformers. But, Hasbro, you're making a toy of Hot Rod, not Rodimus. I'd hope you can at least get the names of the Transformers correct.

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    A look at the FreeNAS server

    FreeNAS, an open source NAS server, can convert a PC into a network-attached storage server. The software, which is based on FreeBSD, Samba, and PHP, includes an operating system that supports various software RAID models and a Web user interface. The server supports access from Windows machines, Apple Macs, FTP, SSH, and Network File System (NFS).

    read more | digg story

    Monday, May 29, 2006

    Super Mario DS Sells 480,000 Units In Japan on Day 1

    Super Mario Bros. managed to sell through 480,000 units in it's first day, making it the fastest selling DS title ever.

    I can't wait till I pick this up for the DS. Maybe once I finish Morrowind. If you don't already have it, you can pick up New Super Mario Bros. here!

    read more | digg story

    Morrowind: Not quite Oblivion...

    Because I know that minimum game requirements don't actually mean I can play the game, I've decided to reload Morrowind and play. It's not really what I want to play after seeing Oblivion on the X-Box 360, but I'm afraid that I cannot run it. Since games are not usually returnable after opening, I'd like to know if anyone has played Oblivion on a Radeon 9700 and how well it ran. Here are my computers specs:

    CPU: AMD Athlon XP 2200+
    RAM: 384megs
    Video Card: Radeon 9700 128meg

    It's a beast, huh? If anyone has run Oblivion on a machine somewhat like the above, I'd love to hear your experiances.