Saturday, December 31, 2005

Awful indeed

It's Friday, so it's time for a new update on the SomethingAwful Friday's Photoshopping shenanigans.

In all honesty, it's a dissapointment. The theme "Movies and Games" is just screaming "you're going to like this one".
Imagine my surprise when I had to suffer all the way to the 7th page before I saw someting that came even close to making me smile and even that is probably only because I've always been a die hearted LucasArts fan (That's the old LucasArts (Not the new one (the one that releases endless crappy Star Wars games (but the ond one (with the amazing adventure games (and even some cool Star Wars games (anyone remember TIE Fighter? (or Dark Forces? now that's a great one))))))))
Some of them were really, really weird. Not in a funny way, mind you. For example, what's the point about "Wing Commander Keen"? I know what the joke is, but wasnt Wing Commander a movie based on a game? That's not a multi-layered joke, btw, it's just a pointless one.
They also botched a couple of other ones, the Oregon Trail one shows "To Oregon in 60 seconds". This doesn't really make sense, since there isn't any connection whatsoever between the 60 Seconds movie and the game. Unlike "Wing Commander Keen" which at least SHARE a word. There is no semantic or ideomatic connection either between the game and the movie. Not only that, but the mashed title dropped the "Trail" from Oregon Trail, which, along with the lack of actual in game footage, makes it a really hard reference to "get".
Another lost joke is the Sim City 3000 one. To those who don't get it by looking at the picture, it's supposed to be "SIN city 3000" as in Frank Miller's Sin City.
At any rate, you'll be the judge, I've been with the linking.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Extenting the extension

I've seen some weird Firefox extensions this far, but why would anyone want this one is above and beyond me:
"Open an interactive Periodic Table with right click or through the Tools menu. Place the cursor over an element to display information."

Sunday, December 25, 2005


Found myself at a radical mind today. Maybe it's all the dealing I had to do with GNU/Linux in light of the new installment, or perhaps just an overall feeling. I've been reading this ZNet interview with Richard M. Stallman regarding software freedom. Several interesting ideas there. For instance the following segment:

RMS: When I webcast a speech, I have to ask which format it is going to be webcast in. I am not going to go along with a webcast of my speech about freedom that you have to give up your freedom in order to hear or watch. Once I put my coat over a camera before giving my speech, when I learned it was webcasting in RealPlayer format.

JP: Gandhi, in his "Hind Swaraj', which was originally a series of newspaper articles, asked himself and answered a similar question. He was talking about how India had to get rid not only of British control, but of all of the bad attributes of "western civilization'. He asked himself: "How can one argue against western civilization using a printing press and writing in English'? His answer was that sometimes you have to use poison to kill poison.

RMS: But knowing English doesn't subjugate -- you didn't have to give up any freedom in India to know English. (...)

JP: When you say there was no better language than English, are you suggesting that it becomes an ethical issue when there is an alternative, but not before?

RMS: It becomes an ethical issue when there is a restriction. The use of English might be good or bad for India, but knowing it doesn't take away your freedom. (...)

By contrast, to put RealPlayer on your computer, you actually have to give up some of your freedom.

While on the subject, I recommend trying the Political Compass. You'll be surprised to know what exactly are your opinions, and where do you stand compared to others.

The Rules of the Gaim 3: Nothing's the saim.

A lot of people wonder around me why I'm so "zealout" about Open source software. Of course, the free (as in beer that you don't have to pay for) idea is appealing, but there are many application which are free, but are not open source.
I think this next item will give you at least some indication about what's the force of Open Source is.

The creator of Gaim, a multi protocol Instant Messaging software recently released a beta/release candidate of the 2.0 version. I've had a chance to download it, and use it for the past week and a half. It's way faster than 1.5, and I like it, but had some quirks with some features of it I didn't like. Apparently so did others. The developers not only responded to the info, but, as can be seen in their response, are working on resolving those issues. You don't get that from other software developers, freeware or commercial.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

The odd couple

It's raining like hell out there.
(On the other hand, all the information we currently possess about hell seems to indicate that one thing you'll be hard to come by there is rain (There isn't anything about lack of rain in heaven though))

It's raining like heaven out there.
(Note to myself, drop the religious analogies to meteorological phenomena)

At any rate, This laser chess board was found at Digg.

The Narnia movie is making quite a splash, currently passing King Kong at the box office. I've read about 5/6th of the series something like 15+ years ago, nothing that left a lasting impression, though.

The ultimate Ultima

I think everyone who cares about this sort of thing already heard about the Ultima V fan game, aka Ultima V: Lazarus. The naming scheme isn't that far-fetched to anyone familiar with the Ultima VII games (as in plural (as in 4 games (making Ultima VIII actually Ultima X (but who's counting)))). It's actually a Dungeon Siege mod, so it's not playable without a copy of DS.

If anyone's a real Ultima fan or wish he was, I suggest Exult. It's the only known way of playing the Ultima VII games (aka the "DOS couldn't handle the game so we created a new OS, making the game nearly unplayable) without undergoing the 9 circles of hell with the DOS memory management, and the ONLY way of playing those games under WinXP, not to mention GNU/Linux (and several other OS they ported the game to). Again, this is only an engine port, the actual games need to be purchased (good luck on that), or a friend who hasn't thrown his ancient game collection needs to be found. If anyone asking, the best game(s) are the Ultima VII games, closely followed by Ultima III.

To my best of knowledge, only Ultima IV has actually been released as Freeware. It won't run on any non-DOS machines (or more likely to run all too fast). This is basically the same issue for all Ultima games, bar Ascension. (Which is NOT recommended).

Current situation is much better than it was several years ago, as can be learned from Ultima: The Reconstruction site, there are several fan projects created to port the Ultima games to other OS, mostly Windows. The xu4 offers ports of (freeware) Ultima IV, a very good place to start as it is with this game that the whole Ultima concept really began taking shape.

Now if only someone would make System Shock playable on anything...

Friday, December 23, 2005

More Pandas

Oh sweet mother of...
A site dedicated to Pandas...

Got this through Cute Overload

Spitting on images

Found this one at Secret Geek.

This is taken from the time the webmaster started taking narcotics.

A personality quiz

Not one of those "What kind of Water Fowl are you?" quizzez (Quizi?), though.

Assume you're using one of those RSS aggregatos such as, say, Bloglines. And assuming that instead of the usual bunch of stuff that appears in the main window, the site gives you this:

var siteList = new Array(); function SiteInfo( items, dir, iconDir ) { this.items = items; this.dir = dir; this.iconDir = iconDir; } function getElById(idVal) { if (document.getElementById != null) return document.getElementById(idVal) if (document.all != null) return document.all[idVal] alert("Problem getting element by id") return null } function feedError( errorCode ) {'/feederror?ErrorCode='+errorCode,'300x300',
directories=no,width=300,height=300'); } var agt = navigator.userAgent.toLowerCase(); var is_ie = (agt.indexOf('msie') != -1); var is_ie5 = (agt.indexOf('msie 5') != -1); /* * * send a GET behind the scenes to url * */ function SendRequest(url) { var xmlhttp = CreateXmlHttpReq(DummyHandler); ++uniqnum_counter; XmlHttpGET(xmlhttp, url + "&rand=" + uniqnum_counter); } function CreateXmlHttpReq(handler) { var xmlhttp = null; if (is_ie) { var control = (is_ie5) ? "Microsoft.XMLHTTP" : "Msxml2.XMLHTTP"; try { xmlhttp = new ActiveXObject(control); xmlhttp.onreadystatechange = handler; } catch(e) { alert("You need to enable active scripting and activeX controls"); } } else { xmlhttp = new XMLHttpRequest(); xmlhttp.onload = handler; xmlhttp.onerror = handler; } return xmlhttp; } var uniqnum_counter = (new Date).getTime(); function DummyHandler() { } function

Do you:
A: Refresh the page
B: Start reading the JavaScript code
C: Start reading the code and try to find what went wrong
D: Copy the code to another text editor as well as the whole page's source and go over them both.

If you answered anything else than A, man, we need a life.

That was close...

I just finished writing and editing the previous post, when Firefox crashed.
You can imagine I stopped breathing for a couple of minutes. Surprisingly, restarting it launched the "Create Post" page with the entire text in it. I don't know if I should thank Firefox, or SessionSaver (without whom Firefox would've started with the homepage), but whoever is responsible for this, you have my eternal gratitude, for what its worth ;).

(Update: turns out it wasn't lost, but managed to post before the browser crashed.)

Rings shall vanish from our noses, And the harness from our back. Or: how to irritate your readers.

Title is from George Orwell's Animal Farm.

If there's one thing I can't stand, it is when a writer is patronising others, eventually patronising his readers. Case in point:
From a DesktopLinux column by Frank Richards:
"However, many liveCD distros can be used as a day to day desktop without ever installing them to your hard drive. Huh? Wait a minute, everyone installs the OS to a hard disk! Well yes, that's the way it has always been done, but I am not sure why we should continue in that direction... "ah, but I was so much older then, I'm younger than that now" (Robert Allen Zimmerman).

Let's for a moment ignore the "Well yes" style, which is more imminent in early high-school composition than serious articles, but noticed the bold lines, and especially the artist, slightly better known as Bob Dylan.
Was there any reason to write Dylan's full, original name? Not really.
Did it serve the article any better, or helped deliver an argument the writer was, or will be making? Hell no.

So, what's the point? Notice the entire style of the paragraph. The writer is describing an unorthodox method of using Linux. He is assuming people will object to this method. He considers them old-fashioned and closed. He thinks of himself better than those people, and therefore more intelligent. Please observer the choice of words: "Huh? Wait a minute, everyone...". Those who present the "old" views are talking like they just woke up from sleep. They are not as coherent. Their argument is "everyone's doing it". His retort? Just because it's always been done doesn't mean it's the best way of doing it. Out with the old, in with the new. "We'll change henceforth the old tradition, And spurn the dust to win the prize!" (The Internationale). His use of the Dylan quote, is, in fact, quite apt. Dylan writes that he (his opinions) were "old" (dated, conservative, unwilling to change) back then; but that he's "younger" (more radical, open to other opinions, adaptive) now. The scope might be a bit over the top, we're not talking about a new way of feeding the poor, or that Microsoft is not the AntiChrist, but about using a LiveCD/Business Card GNU/Linux Distributions, in the likes of DamnSmall or Puppy (both well recommended, btw).

It's a novel idea, but not something unheard of. I've been using either Puppy or DamnSmall with my laptop for ages now, as it's 64MB of RAM are not that well adequate to handle a full-featured GNU/Linux distro (Although it did work pretty well with Ubuntu using FluxBox as the Windows Manager, which is the same WM DamnSmall is using). As with everything in the GNU/FOSS world, it's a question of choice, of being given enough tools to suffice for every job, and to apply to every need. Both LiveCD distros and HardDrive "full" distros have their place and their usage. Using one over the other isn't more radical, or conservative, it's simply a choice of the right tools for the right job. And, despite what the writer might be thinking, snubbing your readers isn't going to change that.

(Edit: Apparently using an outside link in your post title makes it impossible for RSS to link to the right post)

Das Email

Well, as expected, the email has been erbrechen unt enthauptetten.
This means that from now on, all emails will be sent to Hopefully this will work better than my... interesting experience with the German server.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Airing of Grievances

I'm closing up shop.
Not in any sense you may think of, simply, after a couple of years spent in the current dual-boot configuration, I believe it is finally time to change things. Mainly move the Windows XP partitions to a much smaller habitat, and the GNU/Linux ones to the better, faster harddrive, as well as allowing for more space.
Of course, after so much time, this HD Feng-Shui isn't going to be easy at all. For starters, almost every partition on the computer is clogged by gigabytes over gigabytes of stuff. Comic Books, mp3s, you name it.

The Parkinson Law states that "work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion". I believe a safe derivative should state that "your files expand so as to fill the space available on the harddrive". I look at the 100 GB of space I have and simply can't believe I got along with a measly 10 GB just 7 years ago. Granted, I had a very slow dial-up connection so it took me ages to get even close to filling that one up, but still. On the other hand, most of what I have on those partitions can probably be located and downloaded again, so it's not much of a loss.

I've finally given up, BTW. The GNU/Linux installation is going to be the KDE flavour of Ubuntu. It's partially due to the recent "use KDE" announcement made by a certain Linux creator, but mostly because I've fed up with all the really cool apps being part of KDE and not Gnome.

Gamespot have released their 2005 best and worst feature. It's December 22nd. This is from the site that once voted Diablo as their 1996 Game of the Year despite being released about 3 days before the end of that year. I know it's nitpicking for the sake of picking nits, but I always thought GotY should be decided well after the year has ended. Then again, we are talking about Game "Serious Sam" Spot here. Oh, and to view the winner of each category, you need to click on the video link. Brilliant. At least you don't have to subscribe to their failing "Gamespot Complete" this time.

I also need more RAM. What I have now is not even inadequate, it's freaking embarrassing. If this was a penis size, I would be the laughing stock of the boys' showers. I know size doesn't matter, but I'm zipping some heavy files I want to backup and it hogs the computer like there is no tomorrow. Which is probably the time these archiving will end, at the current rate.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Woes and beholds

More software quirks. I'll probably change this blog into "blog where I keep complaining that software X doesn't work/has a weird bug/doesn't do what I want/do what I want, but not how I want/looks ugly/annoys me that I can't find anything bad about it".

Anyway, VLC. It's great, but there always seems to be a flaw in the ointment.
I'm using it to listen to Ormgas which is a streaming radio playing OCReMixes. And while everything is fine and dandy, there's just a weird pause every start of a song. And I'm not referring to pauses BETWEEN songs, mind you. Every time a new track begins, it plays for like 2 seconds, then there's a half-second pause, then it resumes. I've scanned the preferences dialog, but failed to find what's causing this. Oh well.

One for the good guys

Court deny request to teach religion in classes and disguise it as science.
Got the good word through Whatever.

Monday, December 19, 2005

The Fox'd necessities

Yet another tale from the continuous battles against Desktop apps has come to an end. It all began when the Firefox browser on my work computer was upgraded to 1.5, SessionSaver ceased to function.
I've been using Opera for ages, and am used (and dependant) on those session savers. I tend to view about 10-15 sites simultaneously, and just can't function without any method of restoring them automatically. However, the extension was incompatible with Firefox 1.5, which caused it to be removed. Any attempts to install it were blocked against the user restrictions on this computer. I finally resolved this issue by downloading the .xpi, extracted and copied its contents to the firefox folder in my user folder. It was a pretty simple and painless operation, to which I need to thank the whole Extensions model Firefox uses, but it depended on several elements: one, previous knowledge and familiarity with the Windows XP user folder structure, i.e. knowing that the folder will be under C:\Documents and Settings\username\Application Data\Mozilla\Firefox\Profiles\(some obscured number)\extensions. Not that intuitive. Second, the actual .xpi file needed to be extracted into a nice hash numbered folder ({909409b9-2e3b-4682-a5d1-71ca80a76456}, if you really have to know). To find that name, I needed to open the install.rdf in a text editor.
Again, not something that required any amount of sweat on my side. But I really think that too much of computer know-how, as basic as it may be, is needed here to make something like this work

This is probably why I still prefer the Opera model to the Firefox one. It may be that Firefox can be extended to include everything Opera has, and much, much more, but the process is a: unintuitive, b: too "whimsical" and, for a lack of a better term, amateurish. What I mean by this is that when Opera releases an update, it is assured that whatever features were in the previous version will be in the update, and will work. With Firefox, this isn't guaranteed at all. Granted, the community’s work, and the Bazaar model ("Release Early, Release Often") makes it easier for the extension maintainer to keep the extension compatibility with future releases, but again, the guy's working according to his (or her) schedule.

I know this is probably odd coming from someone who already identified himself as a keen supporter of the Open Source concept. So I should make it clear, I'm not saying the Open Source development concept is flawed. I'm referring here solely to the Mozilla extension model, and to the Firefox one specifically. What I would like to see is a fuller, more "robust" release of Firefox, with more features that work "out of the box" and are updated according to the release cycle and guaranteed 100% compatibility with whatever new version is released. This doesn't have to eliminate the current extension model, but simply to expand on it. Have 5-6 "official" extensions that will be integrated into the browser. For example, I find Tabbrowser And SessionSaver to be essential to my work, and I assume most people think the same way. I would also suggest a Mouse Gesture feature, and perhaps one or two others.
Another advantage is that this will make the browser more appealing to new users. I realise this is probably not the best argument to make (depends on who you ask, the Mozilla Foundation guys waving their download numbers, or the GNU/FOSS communities), but Firefox, as it is, is a bit too much "bare-bones" for many people.

It's not such a far-fetched concept, btw. Consider Thunderbird, Firefox's complement email software. In the same vain as Firefox "bare necessities" concept, Thunderbird should've been released without UseNet support (because a: hardly anyone but tech guys use these, and b: if they really want to, there's Google groups), or RSS (a: Firefox has it, b: it's an email app, and RSS are not strictly email related). However, it got both and several other non-necessities. In fact, it might even get a calendar soon. So, are the Firefox guys stricter zealots? Not really.
Firefox has a pop-up blocker (which only exists on MSIE 6 with WinXP Sp2), for example, or an (excellent) integrated html source reader; the integrated search component, both in a page and in search engines, is another good example of something that is hardly bread and butter. And there are several other "under the hood" features that are hardly "bare necessities", but are now considered to be essential to a browser, the same way UseNet support is considered an essential for a mail client. Firefox

There are several points that support the Firefox way of thinking. For starters, stripping the browser from everything but the basics enables a far easier maintenance cycle, as there are fewer features the project developers need to consider, and also shortens the response time to published security flaws. In fact, Firefox's security response time has been as short as 24 hours at one case. Having more features would mean that a security flaw wouldn't be addressed for weeks on time. It also offers choice. Instead of being forced to the developer's way of thinking, the users can choose between several offerings. You don't like what extension A offers? Extension B might appeal to you more. Or even combine C and D to get the best of both worlds (or even combine A and B, for that matter).

At the end of all this debate, one must remember that the whole concept started when the Mozilla team decided to split the famous "suite" into simple components which would co-exists and complement each other. In this view, Opera, which is a full-featured browser, with an email client built-in, is an atrocity, which should be avoided. I just think they went a bit too far.

The rules of the Gaim 2: The naim of the Gaim

I've just installed Gaim 2 (beta), and already I'm feeling the change. Over the past month, Gaim has become my favourite IM application, and I've been using those for the better part of the last 8 years. The most obvious changes are the addition of Global/account state chooser (you can go away on your MSN account, and stay online in your ICQ etc.) and the removal of the blasted login screen. Other than that, there are several other improvements, plugins and suchlike. Interesting to see what they cooked in the GNU/Linux app, though.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Just a minor irritation

Since when did "loose" became synonym with "lose"?


Pretty amazing stuff, but Opera 9beta for GNU/Linux is almost 100% compatible with the Acid Test. In a nutshell, the Acid Test is a bunch of mangled html/CSS/JavaScript that is supposed to push any browser's support of those to the limit. So far, most browsers support it only partially, but with growing compatibly. The concept is that the more standard compliant your browser is, the less work is needed for a developer to make sure his site works with all browsers. Nice to see that Opera is still working towards that 100% standard compliance.

Thursday, December 15, 2005


One of the past year's more idiotic lawsuit (No, not the one suing Blizzard about the kid who tried to fly, the other one) has finally been settled, quote GameCloud.
To the uninitiated (and followers of the One True Way) Marvel comics sued NCSoft (makers of Super-hero themed online game "City of Heroes"), on the grounds that the game's hero customisation tools allow players to create characters that infringe Marvel trademark characters and the company's Intellectual Property. In layman terms, player used the tools to create characters such as Sp1d3r-mann, and wolferine and customised them to appear quite similar to their Marvel namesakes. Marvel, who has their own multiplayer online game in the oven, did not like the concept of their fans being allowed to play as their favourite characters in another game, hence the suit. After all, no one but Marvel should be allowed to dilute the value of their "franchise" characters either in movies or in video games.

From the (extremely) ambiguous text, there is little that can be deciphered on the exact nature of the settlement.
"The parties' settlement allows them all to continue to develop and sell exciting and innovative products, but does not reduce the players' ability to express their creativity in making and playing original and exciting characters. Therefore, no changes to City of Heroes® or City of Villains'™ character creation engine are part of the settlement. The parties have agreed that protecting intellectual property rights is critically important and each will continue aggressively to protect such rights in accordance with all applicable laws."
What does it mean? Not much, but let's see.
There won't be any changes (at least not those forced by Marvel) of the character building mechanisms. However, it does look like NCSoft will enforce Marvel Intellectual Properties, meaning the aforementioned Sp1d3rm4nn and wulferine will probably be banned on sight.

What I find ridiculous in all this, is that by punishing their fans for their support, Marvel is using the same skewed logic of the record companies. If and when Marvel will release their online game, their fans will join the game in hordes, despite City of Heroes character tools, and despite the fact that they WON'T BE ABLE TO PLAY AS A MARVEL CHARACTER IN THE GAME. I mean, you don't REALLY think Marvel is going to allow any player the right to play as Spiderman, or Wolverine, do you? It's "an online gaming experience set in the Marvel Universe" after all. As if living in the same block as Captain America means something. But, again, the fans will arrive. City of Heroes or not. The same way fans go to the Marvel movies, despite the fact that movies like The Incredibles did a much better job (and presented characters that were pretty thin ripoffs of Marvel characters while at it).
I do wonder what will Marvel do when the Sp1d3rm4ns and wulferines will start appearing in their own game. Will they start banning players for portraying Marvel characters in a Marvel game? That would be nice. I just hope that the Marvel employee that is going to play Spiderman will forget to turn on his invincibility flag.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Quotes unquoted

From Evil Avatar's PS2 GotY (Goat of the Yard) thread, check the first post: "Shadow of the Colossus - Picked it up 2 days ago and I can't put it down." Keep forgetting if this is about Game of the Year, or Game of the second. Then again, if GameSpot can give the title to a game released 27th of December, who are we to complain?

From the Borowitz Report: "Albert Einstein did not devise the theory of relativity as originally thought but was the lead singer of the Miami Sound Machine, according to a new biography published online today by Wikipedia." I think I've said what I think of the whole Wikipedia fiasco elsewhere, but it's always good to make fun of them, no? (Full article here)

Blogging for Human Beings

Three Ubuntu blogs I happened upon during recent days. No guarantees of quality though.
Ubuntu Blog. Very neat Wordpress theme, lots of tips and GNU/Linux tricks. Very like.
The Fridge. This one's sits under Ubuntu's own domain, but doesn't seem to be officially affiliated with them. Kinda uglysh design (at least on Opera), but lots of nice articles, mostly about community activities and suchlike.
Ubuntu Linux Blog of ralph. Kinda says it all, doesn't it? More tips and recipes, along with some info about working with Dapper Drake, the next version.

While at the subject, All About Linux is a blog about GNU/Linux (where does he gets those lines?), with the usual informative information.
And Linux Shortcuts and Commands offers a huge load of those magic keyboard combination guaranteed to give you that GNU/Linux guru look.

Monday, December 12, 2005

A Flock of Links

Two movies showing a simulation of how would it be going through the city in the speed of light. Taken by two kids who just got their license and decided to "take the family car to a spin around the block".

BitComet Banned From Growing Number of Private Trackers. Now you have to pirate the trackers for pirated CDs.

Nabukov's Laura Is Saved From Burning. Nabukov (writer or Lolita) asked for the book to burn, but his son refused the wish, only so religious sects will have another book to burn on a daily basis.

Estimating the Airspeed Velocity of an Unladen Swallow. I couldn't find any swallow, just a rabbit. If you didn't get that one, don't even bother about the link.

Sam & Max webcomics. You need to hover above the images to get the text. 15 years ago they could've wrapped it in a CD and call it "breakthrough gameplay". Would've given Myst a run for its money.

Latte art. As in coffee latte. Following this, the artist drank all 20 cups, and went on to beat the world record in Morse coding.

Next post, I'll publish some general guide to the humour in this post, promise. Excelsior!

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Comix: and now, the conclusion

I finally did replaced the Comix 1.6 that was installed by apt with the 2.2 version I downloaded from the site. Worked without a hitch. Should be interesting to see what will happen when a new version will be added to the repositories.

Baggy Trousers

As in shorts. Two of them, actually.

Cool JavaScript. I think it's best used for html tutorials.

"Transparent" laptop screens. Wow. I have no clue how she got this picture. Unless she was really fast, or the cat was heavily sedated.

My Auld RadioStation

Once upon a darker age in the chronicles of the net, was the era of "what am I listening". You could see it in IRC, on IM, WebJournals (later weblogs/blogs). It really expanded to let you know everything you ever (not) wished to know about the writer in the moment of writing. What mp3 they were listening to, their mood, the colour they were thinking of, you name it. I never could understand the need for anyone to announce what he/she is listening to. Which brings me to what I'm listening to now.
Seriously, the biggest thing about "X is listening to y.mp3" isn't really telling me much. I assume there are those who feel a warm cuddly feeling that someone in this world likes their music, or those who feel a deep hatred of anyone listeining to some band they dislike. I don't. In fact, unless it's your brother's band, and you have the only copy of their latest song, chances are someone in this world has this mp3, and someone else dislikes it. What I want to tell you is about LiveIreland, the ShoutCast radio station I'm listening to. It's not a CD, or an mp3, and I can't guarantee you'll like it or hate it, but if you do like Irish folk and pop music, you can take a listen, chances are I'm doing the same. Now that's Web 2.0 for you.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

To be aptdated

Sorry for the week pun there. I've been using Comix for a long time now, it's probably the best GNU/Linux cbr/cbz viewer out there, mainly because it doesn't futz (for lack of a stronger word) around. In fact, up until now I could simply run it from a simple command.
Now, I found that a package has been added to Dapper/Breezy Backports, which is always the preferrable way for me, to keep everything going right, however, it's 1.6, while comix is currently up to 2.2. I'm considering replacing the actual comix file with the one from the latest version, hoping it won't break anything.

Side Note: Guatemala

Just watched the latest Survivor. I have to give it to the production/editing crew. They don't pull punches. The "pre-tribal" part was shown in a sense that it gave me the "complete" picture, but was a total red herring, considering the results. It's good television, guys.

Two movies

I just finished watching "Jettison Your Loved Ones" by Ray Tintori. While it is a very low-budget movie and according to the director, the production was extremely Spartan, it's quite excellent, and very recommended. It's sometimes amazing how much content can be squeezed into such a small format, and I have to admit I'm very fond of the result.

This is a good opportunity to put here a link to "From My Room" by Alex Olea, another great (flash) movie. The soundtrack is from "Poltergeist", so it fits the theme perfectly. It's quite moving for such a short clip, but I guess you have to see it for yourself.

Friday, December 09, 2005

We want... Information

That's a Prisoner reference btw.

InformIt has released his usual flurry of articles. Here's a selected bunch:

Coding Guidelines: Fact and Fiction. I'm just nuts about those things. Every two years there's a new concept that arises for a year, and then is bashed by everyone the next year, only to be replaced by a new fad in the following one.

How and Why Hackers Want to Get Inside Your Machine. I guess the article is more about the How than the Why...

The Cost of Free Software. Hopefully not the usual banter about free software not being free. Always nice to know people still apply same concepts to different fields, i.e. "something free is worth every penny you paid for".

Ubuntu Goodness

Some links I found regarding the GNU/Linux Distro that Be, Ubuntu:
What is it About Ubuntu? from XYZ Computing.
Is Edubuntu truly the operating system for families? From Blogging Baby.
Ubuntu wraps up a super year. Desktop Linux links to previous article plus an interesting survey results.

Anal-yze This

Found this survey via Kotaku.

"This is NOT a "professional" survey. It is at worst completely unscientific and poorly designed, but at best, worth a good laugh and some reflection." Hah! and you think we'll waste our precious time on this? (starts filling survey)
Starts quite nicely, before it hits you as a preverse method of some freak sycho's attempt to jerk off to the answers of his fellow(?) gamers. A close survey (no pun intended (and even if it was, it wasn't that hilarious to start with)) of the questions reveal that we are, indeed, dealing with a most disturbed mind. Please observe, your honor, the suggested answers to question number 4 (Why do you love to play video games?): escape from reality; more interesting than normal life (Then again, if your "normal life" revolves around composing under-graduate surveys that you describe as 'poorly designed', I can see why you want to escape to games); keeps me sane (no comment); pleasure and enjoyment (told you? pervert); gives me a rush (Yeech. You won't catch me using his controllers); makes me feel better when i'm pissed off (So does sinking puppies and stealing candy from babies, but you don't see me running an Internet survey on them, do you?); i love violence (Uh... right. And what's with the lowercase "i" anyway?); let's me show off how bad-ass I am (How old is this guy? 10?).
Whew. Moving on.
"Question 6: Name all gay characters you can from video games." Uh... Mario, Cliff Blezinsky, Voldo, and... What the hell is this?
The rest is just bad. I have no idea who wrote this, but guys? Game bloggers? Next time a depressive kid with questions about his sexuality wants to write a survey, DON'T LINK TO IT!
This has been served as a public message from A Blog of Very Little Brain.

Pretty in Link

Yep, it's another hefty bunch of linkage galore. On with the show!

Ars Technica with a shocking revelation: A risk management analyser finds that the odds of being a bona fide identity theft victim can run as low as one percent or less. This is worrying. Next they'll find that Elvis wasn't kidnapped by aliens and then what?

More Restaurant goodness: How the future used to look like. Basically the same, with men in jumpsuits and women in very small skirts. what I can understand is people who keep complaining about no flying cars. I want to know where are all the women in near invisible garments and a 2-inch wide miniskirts?

I usually won't post Kotaku links (they are bound to appear in every other gaming blog anyway), but this is too good to be left out: Amazon changes the Duke Nukem Forever release date from April 2006 to December 2006.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

To Christopher Robin, wherever I may find him

John Scalzi of Whatever have added a more literary take on the whole Disney horsecrap.

"Christopher Robin found that every part of the Hundred Acre Wood looked like a new part he'd never seen before. He went left and found a new stream, filled with frogs who croaked their unconcern of Christopher Robin's plight. He went right, back the way he came, but the trees seemed to have moved their places when he wasn't looking."

Then again, for me, and all those true believers, this will always be the right ending:

"So they went off together. But wherever they go, and whatever happens to them on the way, in that enchanted place on the top of the Forest a little boy and his Bear will always be playing."

From the ass' mouth

As addendum to my previous post about Roger Ebert's comment about Video games, here is the exact quote from his letters column:

"I believe books and films are better mediums, and better uses of my time. But how can I say that when I admit I am unfamiliar with video games? Because I have recently seen classic films by Fassbinder, Ozu, Herzog, Scorsese and Kurosawa, and have recently read novels by Dickens, Cormac McCarthy, Bellow, Nabokov and Hugo, and if there were video games in the same league, someone somewhere who was familiar with the best work in all three mediums would have made a convincing argument in their defense."

Kids, he doesn't know his DOOM from his Space Invaders. Give it a break.

No, no, no

Found this atrocity through Neil Gaiman's blog.
Disney will replace Christopher Robin with a 6-year-old girl.
Can someone please get the franchise away from those idiots before any more damage is done?
I assume it was obvious, after Disney constantly demolished the actual character of Pooh.
They are the ones who replaced this image of Pooh

with this one
and did the same to all the other characters, changing them from the "dolls come to life" look to a cartoony, cheerful look, just compare Shepherd's Eyore to Disney's. Disney also replaced Pooh's growly, deep-humming voice with a high-pitched kiddy voice. This wasn't made by error. Disney just couldn't face the idea of presenting Pooh with an adult look and voice. Kids might think he's retarded. Well, he is. Pooh is a grown-up animal/doll locked inside a child's mind. Call it autistic if you wish. But that's it. It doesn't end with Pooh, naturally, as they systematically twisted every character to apply to their "view" of what kids like. Neutralising (and neutering) the origin of every "offensive" concept. And now they decided to remove Christopher Robin. Why?
"We got raised eyebrows even in-house at first, but the feeling was these timeless characters really needed a breath of fresh air that only the introduction of someone new could provide" says Nancy Kanter of the Disney Channel. BullCrap, says I. Disney just can't figure out how to market a 6 year old boy who plays with dolls. I mean, kids might think he's gay or something. A girl, well, that's more like it. Guess what? I played with dolls when I was six. I wasn't ashamed of admitting it to my school-friends and was very proud of it. It was a way for me to express my imagination, and allowed me to realise dreams I had. It hadn't made me retarded, or turned me gay (not that there's anything wrong with that).
Disney are killing the books and the world of A.A. Milne. They are raking one billion dollars a year from marketing a neutered image of Milne's works, and they will not stop here. Removing Christopher Robin is removing the axis around this entire imaginary world exists. Removing the cause for its existence. They won't stop there, I know it. I just wish there was any way to stop them.


Saw this one at Alice's Wonderland about this weird wrestling game. The post commented something about the mask being creepy, but I had already clicked to go to the site thinking "a fighting game with a chick in some net-like suit" (I'm shallow, I know). To my surprise, the game has, apart from being occupied solely with scantly clad girls, a Panda.
One thing that has ultimate power over me (even more than scantly clad girls) is pandas in a game. In fact, it has been proven mathematically, that for me Panda in Game = Money out of Wallet. Thankfully there are'nt many games that do apply to this mathematically sound formula.
There was the infamous April 1st hoax (citing that Samurai Pandas are a new race of WarCraft III) over at Blizzard's site, of which the common reaction was "OK, funny joke, but can you PLEEEEZE make a Panda a real unit in the game?". The reaction was so phenomenal that Blizzard gave in (probably since their own developers couldn't stand not having a panda as well) and added this character to the WarCraft III expansion pack.
I believe the natuarl course of actions will probably lead to Blizzard's next game being made entirely of Pandas. I would be very happy to purchase the first copy (and probably every other copy I can find of it).

Links II: Attack of the links

Still with Clickable Culture, kids design video game bosses. I think one shouldn't mess with kids imaginations. I'm too scared to even go to that page and see what they designed. And it was made by a bunch of kids... designed by a kids commitee? Scary.

From The Website at the End of the Universe(Good thing I'm not a word count, that would've made the entire post): 9 people (3 of them actors) have been trained and "launched" in a fake shuttle. On the way back, I assume they'll collide with the fake atmosphere and blow up.

Honorary friend of the bear, Mr. Richard Cobbett esq. have put on a post about some MMOG blog he's working on. Reading the blog costs 15$ a month, and it will be published half-broken, with bug fixe... sorry, "Extra content" will be patched later.
So far there's no indication whether you can go "Leeroy Jenkins" on the blog.

The Borowitz Report: WAR IN IRAQ GOING WELL ON EARTH II. Of course, on Earth-X, Saddam has already conquered all Earth but Antarctica (Those Damn Penguins!). Why do I have the feeling the Crisis on Infinite Earths will still leave us with our version of things?

Via SlashDot: The term "Podcast" has been added to the New Oxford American Dictionary. I assume pwned and w00T are next. Only way it can compete with the n3w l33T 4m3r1c4n Dictionary.
Neural cells made of rats have been able to fly planes. Warning: Suggesting that your plane is already flying on rat brain may cause an unscheduled landing. Parachute not guaranteed.

That's it for this bunch. Whew. 600 to go.

Games and Movies: Two arts beat as one

Today I saw what is, apparently, the 25th article regarding Roger Ebert's comments about "Games not being Art". I've exhausted my metaphors on this one (all of them revolving around "Roger Eberts opinion about games is as relevant as Celebrity X's opinion about something he doesn't relate to" (Like, say, Madonna's opinion about Windows API (i.e. not relevant))). So let me just make it clear:

Roger Ebert's opinion about Video Games as art is as relevant as the Dalai Lama's opinion about Cauliflowers as street decoration.

I know gamers are desperately dying to be accepted into the global media as a cultural phenomenon, and even more than that as a legitimate cultural phenomenon, and even MORE than that, as a legitimate media, like movies, TV etc. But it's just not going to happen.
Why? First, not every popular media is recognised as such. Take Comic Books. Most video gamers see comic books as a legitimate media, which is far from the truth. Comics are still viewed as geeky, for kids, niche genre. They are not taken seriously, and are not considered to be mainstream media at all, not to mention "Art". The gamers view comic books from their perspective, not from the outside. This makes them think that Video games might be also accepted as mainstream media form.
Second, many people confuse "legitimate, mainstream, media form" with "art". That couldn't be more wrong. This is, most likely, an misinterpretation of the "seven arts" concept. The seven arts (Poetry, Theatre, Dance, Painting, Sculpting, Literature and Music) are not a "definition", but a collective name. The original term wasn't even referred to entertainment arts, but to studies like geometry, medicine and linguistics.
Art as a definition is not a solid concept, and placing a certain media under the "arts" section doesn't mean it collectively becomes an art-form. Movies like The Godfather and Citizen Kane may be art, but that doesn't make Spy Kids 3D art, The Prisoner and Twin Peaks are art, but not America's Next Top Model.
To summarise, being "Art" demands that the piece in question will attempt to pursue aesthetic values, rather than simply entertain. Being an Art form means that artists are able to present those aesthetic values through the media, but it doesn't make a work "art" simply by belonging to that media.

This been said, are video games a cultural phenomenon? Yes.

Are they a legitimate one? Yes and no. Yes, since the scope of the culture has long gone caused it to rise above the small, "hardcore" niche, and no, since many games are still juvenile, provoking in the sake of provocation, and shallow. I had a long email correspondence with Cyril Lachel of Defunct Games about what makes a Mature theme, or a mature game, and while I agree with his opinions on the matter, I find that "do I shoot the cop in the head or do I run away" are not what I would consider "mature".

Are video games an art form (i.e. can they be used to express and convey aesthetic ideas)? Technically yes. Practically no.
Technically yes, since it is possible to convey aesthetic ideas through visual means, TV, animation and movies are doing it for a century now. The interactive, immersion nature of games allows the player to experience them first hand, and therefore view them from an active POV, which is unique and different from other media.
Practically no, since video games are created over a long period of time, by a very large staff, and are combined from different, non-related elements. Movies, for example, are assembled as well, and involve a large crew, but they are, at the bottom of it, actors being filmed on celluloid, then edited into the movie. Games, are tiles, 3d models, network engine, scripting, textual script, collision code, textures, music, level editors, and probably another 20 elements I didn't mention. They are run by one, or more "designers" or "producers" or whatever the current name is, but those are more concerned at assembling the pieces and making sure everything doesn't collapse the moment someone moves the mouse. To complete the analogy, imagine that a movie was filmed this way: actors were filmed in a stop-motion manner, background was designed by one crew, then was created by another, based on the blueprint of a third crew, and filmed separately. The two films were later pasted together by taking pictures of the actors film in front of the background film. The voice was recorded by other actors, in a studio halfway across the country. Sounds atrocious, but it's not even coming close to what really happen in game design. Games are designed, created, coded and assembled by committee, and over 2-3 years, it makes it very hard to get any means of artistic design float to the surface.

The other issue here is that games, by nature, should provide constant interest. Deciding whether to kill a dying cop, or allowing him to live, risking he'll identify you is a concept that could carry a 2 hour movie with ease (Think of Reservoir Dogs, the scene where Mr. Orange shoots Mr. Blue to save the life of the mutilated cop). In a video game it wouldn't last to the next cutscene. In the span of those 2 hours in games like Grand Theft Auto III, you've probably rammed the car into 2 blockade, shot about 5 cops and 8 civilians (not mentioning the 4 you drove over with your car), you broke into 3 cars, and blew up 4 more. The moral decision here is lost in the excessive. You may spared one of the wounded cops, but that decision was long drowned in the river of blood you generated in the city. It doesn't help that video games cost millions to develop, and therefore are founded and moved by commercial goals rather than "artistic". Those two are not separate, but it's hard to think about aesthetic values when you're 2 days short of your next milestone.

There's nothing preventing video games from being art. It's certainly holds all the key ingredients. It's just that considering the nature of the medium, the creation process, and the powers behind it, it would take video games a long way before we can start consider them as art. Games are an art form. Like Comic books, like movies. It doesn't a priori make them art.

The Wikist Link

I've just recently mentioned the Wikipedia issue about having to register to post/edit. This was obviously made to counter the "Wikipedia Vandalism" phenomenon, where articles were modified to represent opinions, enter disputable content or just to enter silly stuff.
Apparently there are worst things that won't be resolved by such a method.
In a recent article in Clickable Culture, the author wrote about a full article being lifted verbatim from his site, not only without credit, but "they submitted an entire paragraph of my writing under the GNU Free Documentation License." (in a nutshell, this means that any text found in the Wikipedia can be copied, used, modified, or be used as a base for another article with no fee).
The writer goes on mentioning that to delete the article, "I had to agree to license my "contribution" under the GFDL." I don't really see why he had to do this. I would just write to the Wikipedia admins and demand them to remove the article. I understood that he eventually decided to keep the text, but modified it. So now it's under the GFDL, under his approval. Not nice, if you think about it.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Links from the storm

As expected, here's the first flurry of frolicking links:

UK: Resistance tells it like it is: The Truth about Piracy. "Widespread piracy among the poor means they have more money to spend on alcohol and cigarettes, shaving up to 10 years from their life expectancy -- saving the taxpayer money in the long run."

Triple treat from Alice's Wonderland: An Online Shop that sells Chtulhu and Monty Python dolls, Mario graffiti, and, ahem, this:

ZELDA NO SHIGGIE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1111

From Newsforge, A cure for the Slashdot effect. AKA the "w00T! We got linked on slashdo... Hey, it's your server host, they said their farm just went nuclear. Wiped out half of San Francisco" effect.

A triple from the Guardian's Techblog: Great article about how to ensure your Buzzwords are web 2.0 compatible.
Another great one about whether your office Santa is web 2.0 compatible. I think the biggest question is whether your 2.0 web project is 2.0 compatible. First on the list would probably be "What the hell IS web 2.0 anyway?" (Warning: long article (really long (about 5 pages (and long ones (with really small characters too (and small graphs (with even tinier characters (now I need to close all those brackets (I could really use a braces matcher on this one)))))))).
Indiana Jones being chased by a Katamary Damachi ball. You know, it sounded much less silly before I wrote it here. The image is very silly, of course.

And a double from I'm a Human Inbox: This excellent movie about a notepad. I would seriously suggest the sequel should be VI.
The Metroid Prime series presents: the Debug Beam. Everyone who knows me (All three of you), probably knows I'm a great Metroid Prime fan. And everyone who knows his Nintendo can tell you about all those "secret levels" when you use some weird bug in the game to get out of the level's boundaries, where the game actually stores the tiles in the memory. (More on that later).

That's all from this batch. 784 to go...

It's a long way to go

I've just opened my Bloglines just to discover that I have over 800 new feeds. I better get started on this. Gonna probably post some interesting stuff I stumble opon.

And now you know!

Unbelivable as it may be, Wikipedia does have an entry for pwn and for w00T.
Kinda sad, isn't it?

Also, it appears that Wikipedia now requires visitors to register in order to edit/post.
I guess that means no more silly edits.

Stamping heroes

I had this image lying around for a long time.

While it's too cool to be true, it's by no means too true to be cool. I wish I could gey my hands on that set.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Stuff your shirt down your site

Everyone's probably familiar with CafePress, the ole merchandising haven. The concept is so simple everyone goes "why didn't I think of it before I ripped them off and got sued off my arse". Actually, I doubt if there's any trade secrets there, and if there are, Amazon probably patented it long long time ago.
Anyway, the idea is as follows. You send them a couple of images/designs from your site (or whatever else you want to use), and they create a virtual line of products, e.g. shirts, coffee mugs, hats, mouse pads etc. using your images. The products are actually PODed (Printed On Demand) so there isn't any backstock or anything, and the store sets a minimum price for you. Everything above that, is your profit. (In a side note, just watched "DS9: Rules of acquisition" and if I hear the words "opportunity", "profit" or something Ferengi, I'll go postal.)

It appears there is a local (Israeli, look to the top right box of this site) site that attempts to recreate the concept here, called PrintMall. They are a bunch of very professional, very dedicated people, and after spending an hour in their office, I can tell you your site's worth(less) merchandise won't be in better hands than theirs. So if any Israeli guy (or girl, this is a free country) wishes to make some quick bucks, do with the clicking. And just to show you how non-Ferengi I can get, I'm not seeing anything from this.

Breaking and entering

I've been trying some stuff, modifying and correcting.
If things seems to be broken for some reason, do not worry, it's all going to be alright in the end. Whenever that comes...

Out with the old in with the... Older?

I've finally given up on jEdit. Too cumbersome, and I've not been able to get anything right from that one. I've decided to (re)try SciTE (Scintilla Text Editor). It's much, much lighter than jEdit, and would probably get me kicking in the right direction. Hopefully. The concept here, is, apart from giving me a good text editor (obviously), is that extra mileage I need for Java work. It's just too damn bothering to do any serious Java coding without some auto-completion aid, and SciTe can be extended in such a manner.
I've also been trying out the Opera 9.0 beta both on Windows and GNU/Linux. So far, a good experience. The 8.51 has been crashing too often for my taste. The only actual problem so far is that they changed the New Tab/New Window keyboard configuration. Until now, Opera used Ctrl+N for New tab, while FireFox used Ctrl+T (new Tab), and Ctrl+N for New window. Now Opera use the same thing. It's a bit of a mess, I keep opening new windows instead of tabs, but those things are just a manner of habit, and it will help me to open less tabs when I use FireFox at work. It also handle gmail better than it used to be (although that's hardly a breakthrough, it handled it horribly before).

I've been playing around with html editors, I've most recently been using NVU, and quite like it, however, just recently we've started using 1stPage2000 in class, and despite the somewhat old and clunky interface, it seems like a good choice. It's a textual editor rather than a WYSIWYG (meaning you can only edit text in it, but it gives you a very thorough support for that) but then again I've always been one for a more bare-bones approach.

I've been also seeking some other CD-rom burning software than Nero. The 7.0 version is just so bloated. I never used anything in it bar the actual Burning Rom part, and now there are so many weird things there (what the hell do I need Nero Scout for, anyway?). Since I'm already been using mostly GnomeBaker anyway, I'll hold on this one until I can find something small, free and stable.

Whoof. Enough software for one day. Well, one hour, honestly.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Opera troubles

I started a very long post about INXS, but then had to close it, and for some reason Opera failed to start again. I eventually installed the 9.0 beta. I'll finish that post tomorrow morning.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Switch to survive

The latest INXS album, Switch, has been released. These are great news for anyone who watched the RockStar INXS show, or for the fans, or, in general for anyone who really gives a damn about that band. Which are, probably, not that many. After all, we are talking about a band that, at the best times, looked like the Australian version of the Beach Boys, a bunch of chubby nerds imitating the "cool guys", but with a twist, that unlike the Beach Boys, INXS had a really, really cool guy in front. In fact, a lot of the bad things about INXS were revealed during the RockStar show. Meagerly, that we're talking about a "meh" band. Take the drums, for example.When that House Band bloke sat on them, he got a very full, strong sound out of them. Contrary to that, the INXS drummer (one of the Farriss Bros.) managed to get a sound that made me think someone replace the drumskins with some hollow wood.
Come to think of it, the entire House Band concept was really ridiculous, and made the fact that one thing INXS isn't, it's a a band of some virtuos capabilities.

Enough mud throwing, the new album "Switch" is out, and can be sampled here. By "Sampled" I mean you can listen to the beginnings of all the songs in the album, which is great if you're writing a seminar about INXS song openings. Other than that, not much to go on.
The good news: you do get to hear the entire "Pretty Vegas". If anyone followed the show, then there isn't much new here, surprisingly enough, INXS didn't kill the song, but actually supplied some cool touches. The slide guitar in the chorus for example is a nice idea, the bridge in the middle is also good, although I would've preferred a guitar solo there. There is some obnoxious riff going through the song, probably so Tim Farriss will have something to do, but it's somewhat ignorable.
The other good news is that apparently they ditched "Easy, Easy", the song that closed the RockStar finale. Good thinking too. From the rest of the clips, it appears that JD is very up to the job, although the job in this case isn't much to write home about. One must remember that this album was created without an actual singer in mind. I truly think that the album to look for is the next one (assuming there will be such an album). It will benefit from JD's writing talent, as well as will be written for him as a singer.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Half a league, half a league...

I assume anyone's familiar with the Tennyson poem "Charge of the Light Brigade". This is a recording of the Baron himself reciting the poem on the Poetry Archive site. Very interesting.
Oh, you'll need Real "Let's just install about 10 more unnecessary MB of stuff that will redefine the term bloatware and shove our launcher in your Windows startup" Player for that.

A twist on the old tale

Two wackos sue a University for publishing a site that explains Evolution. Their argument? The site is spending public money, which goes against the separation of religion and state.

It doesn't really get any better than this, I tell you.
BTW, doesn't that admits that "Intelligent Design" is a poor attempt to bring religion to school?

Odds and Ends

Just a collection of links

IE Flaw Puts Google Desktop at Risk. Don't use the damn thing myself (neither MSIE or Google Desktop). Last time I tried Google Desktop, I found a week later that it opened a 750 MB folder for indexing. Uninsallation wasn't long to follow.

Digg's Terms of Service. Apparently they have one. Who would've thunk it?

New Mozilla SeaMonkey logo. And surprise! it's not a seamonkey curled around a circle. This time it's INSIDE! This is what we call open-source innovation, folks!

A collection of links to LISP books. I'm looking for a link to the works of Masoch's to compliment this one.

Wired article regarding the Star Trek: New Voyages fan project. A must see for the amazing replication of the original sets, and for the ridiculous hairdo of the guy that plays Kirk (gives a new meaning to the Great Bird of the Galaxy). Terrible acting. Go check it out, and while at it, go check Starship Exeter.

The story of the Apple Command Key symbol. "There are too many Apples on the screen! It's ridiculous! We're taking the Apple logo in vain!". Gotta love Steve Jobs.

On the same matter

Get WinPooch

Ahh, the irony...

I have this sitting on my browser for a couple of days now, but only just got to actually reading it. Apparently, Adware makers are suing ZoneLabs.

The case in hand? Zone Labs, creators of ZoneAlarm, the popular firewall software, warn desktop users that products of one 180solutions present a "potential threat to the user's security and/or privacy". 180solutions claim this isn't correct and that ZoneLabs caused many users to uninstall their products.

To the uninitiated, what the products (called Zango and 180search Assistant) do is log keyboard clicks, and use that to launch pop-up ads that are supposedly directed to the user's taste, based on his browsing habits, which are deducted from the URL he visit via the keyboard logging. Dunno. Sounds like it does pose a "potential threat to the user's security and/or privacy". They log my every keystroke, then upload those to 180solution's servers, which then send to my computer ads that pop-up voluntarily on my browser. I belive this is the exact reason why the customers of ZoneLabs buy their product.

It's the same thing with the pop-up blockers, and the ad-removers (i.e. Firefox's Adblock). I read an article claiming those are braking the "social contract" between sites and site's visitors. Meaning "We give you our site's content for free, and you have to view our ads". While this contract's validity is a whole different debate, there's a huge gap between this concept and the concept that "you read our site, we give you flashy ads that will hijack your CPU and ram and bandwith, or flood you with pop-up blockers". I never signed to that. Before pop-up blockers arrived, I would simply not visit the sites that would bombard me with those wretched things. I think any site would accept the tradeoff of either having visitors with pop-up blockers than having no visitors at all. And I don't see anyone wanting to block Google's Adwords.


I have to admit, I'm not 100% satisfied with the template I'm now using.
It's a bit too narrow for my taste, and I have to resize images and it looks awfully small on 1280X1024 (I've heard all the jokes already). I'm trying to fiddle with it, but it kills the look, sadly.
I'll look for other solutions, hopefully one will surface.

Friday, December 02, 2005


Something Awful just released their weekly Photoshop feature, and it's quite different from their usual collection of gags (usually in the form of patching a mock ad with a cool tag). This is a more "old-skool" kind of Photoshop feature, where they mesh-up two animals to create something which is either cute, or bizzare, or different. As result, half the images are a very ho-hum affair of pasting one animal head over the other. The others fall into the cool (like the elephish above) or the extremely emotionally disturbed.

The rules of the Gaim

About a month ago, I've finally decided to switch from every application I use (That is, every application which isn't Opera) to an open source-d alternative. So far it's going good, bar the small inconvenience here and there. In fact, some of the alternatives have turned out to be better than the ones I've used before (VLC for example).
But I still haven't been able to get Gaim working without any problems for more than an hour. When it does work, it's quite solid, and doesn't have the bloated feeling of the other IM clients I've used. But the problem is, it doesn't always work. Every hour or so, it disconnects, and the connecting back process can take up to a quarter of an hour, during which it keeps popping those annoying "signing" windows and keeps shooting the "Buddy List" window on the desktop.
Thankfully, it's something that I've learned will soon be a thing of the past. The 2.0 version will get rid of the signing window(s), and hopefully will fix those annoying disconnection bugs. Until then, GRRRRR.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Pseudo zombies and Bloglines woes

Another test of the Bloglines, too much work for my taste, I believe I'll let it slide.
Oh, and in case you were wondering, those are supposed to be zombies. (Got it through Wonderland who got it via leboingboing

Robotic PacMan Game

Just trying the Blogline service, it's quite a mess, to be honest, I get a post verbatim, which really means I have to edit like there's no tomorrow. This is basically a PacMan game made of remote-controlled cars and suchlike. There's a nice video if you really want to make sure it actually works. (Video here). (Link through I'm a human Inbox, who got it via Kotaku)

Get your filthy hands of my context menu

I seem to never get along with jEdit. For some unknown reason, I've installed and uninstalled it time and time again. Everytime I read something interesting about it, and do the downloading, only to give up on it about 2 days later, let it hand around my harddrive, then uninstall it.
I do my text-editoring in Vim, and use language specific IDEs for specific languages (like Eclipse for Java), so it's not that necessary. But (and there's always a but), I am looking for a lighter-weight application to do Java coding on my laptop, since the poor thing can't even dream of handling Eclipse with its 64 MB of RAM. So I keep turning to jEdit for some relief, only to get flabbergasted for the nth time.
This time was no better. I've downloaded, only to be smacked in my face when it added a "open with jEdit" option to my context menu (aka "Right-Click menu" on Windows). A quick trip to the Regedit removed that pest, but the sour taste still lingers. I just hate it when applications decide for me what they will install and where. The next thing was the plugins download. The concept here is simple. The preliminary download gives you a full featured text editor, nothing less, but, nothing more. However, there are many user-made plugins (as expected from an open source project) which extends the software up to a full-blown IDE ability, with all the bells and whistles. It's a bit confusing, to be honest, as you sometimes have three or four plugins that do the same thing, with minor changes, but it's still a very good concept, and hopefully, one that demands less resources than Eclipse.
The plugin download process is also very painless. You open up the plugin menu, select a mirror, check every plugin you wish (the software will check any dependencies automatically) and click on "Install". After about 3 minutes, jEdit starts to hammer you with "connection refused" error messages with a machine-gun speed. Once you clear them all up, the plugin download interface reset itself (losing all the marks you made) and that's about it. Currently I'm looking through the site, trying to see whether there's some sort of package download, as I'm not going to start hand picking them, we're talking about 30 something plugins. I'm giving jEdit a really long rope, since I'm quite sure that failing, this will be the last change it gets from me in a long while.

Upgrade yourself.

From OS News, comes the knowledge that Open Office 2, the resources hog office suite has just been updated into version 2.0.1. To those without a spare gigabyte of RAM, Open Office 1.1.5 is still a very good choice, with support for OASIS Open Document format.

Also in upgrades, the Debian GNU/Linux distro was upgraded. As always, you can download the entire Debian package repository on 14 CDs, which should keep you busy until the next update.

And, speaking of office suites, this article tries to find the best applications needed to be used in book writing. I believe it was Robert A. Heinlein who said that his prescription for good book writing was "Apply one ass to one chair".

Apple seems to be "better" because it doesn't compete. As everyone should know by now, GNU/Linux doesn't compete either. Who does compete? Right. Microsoft.

Mac Attack

Got to work this morning, only to find that the Mac Mouse of much mightiness has gone AWOL. As I haven't been born with a mouse in my hand, I sat and tried to use the keyboard. Not a good idea. For starters, choosing a desktop icon and hitting "Enter" lets you modify the shortcuts name. This is probably what Apple refer to as intuitive interface.
About 15 minutes later, I managed to delete two icons and open the Script Editor (Whatever that is). Eventually I googled this page. Action + O ('O'pen?) does the trick. More interesting is the "close window" command: Command + W (close 'W'indow?). I've no idea why they have to use different keys than the ones used at Windows or GNU/Linux.

First Post!

Heh. Always wanted to say that.

Welcome all to the Blog of Very Little Brain. Prepare to be ranted out of your skulls.
I'm Erez, from Tel Aviv, Israel. And I do welcome your posts, ideas, stolen goods and phunky phishing phantasies. I work for LivePerson and also study Java at Blue Education Centre at John Bryce.

I'm probably going to use this place to either post anything that seems interesting to me at the time, or just rant about something or the other.

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