Tuesday, January 31, 2006

An analogous analogy

Nintendo Advance with Yet-Another-Article-About-Video-Console-Controllers, makes the following statement regarding the Atari 2006 controller:
"Long before Nintendo arrived with the Nintendo 64 and made analog sticks mandatory on a controller, Atari experimented with the 2600 joystick. Unfortunately for Atari, and any of those who tried playing with this controller, it was too bulky and difficult for anyone with small hands to hold ... The joystick only had eight directions, so in technicality it wasn’t an analog joystick. Lastly with all the problems that plagued the controller, the absence of a pause button only made it worse, when the joystick stopped working, you couldn’t even pause the game."

A paragraph about the Atari 2006, with no actual content bar claiming the joystic was un-holdable, unmanageable and unplayable. Are those well researched facts, or does the writer vents his frustration of not being able to get past Pitfall!'s first level? A bit easier now to see why it's called "Nintendo Advanced" and not "GameSpot". I also like the "no pause button" on the controller meaning "when the joystick stopped working, you couldn’t even pause the game." I would like to know how do you pause a game with a dysfunctional controller? How does hitting a button on a non-working controller pauses a game?

But a couple of words, if you may:

"Long before ...(the N64) made analog sticks mandatory on a controller, Atari experimented with the 2600 joystic". What's the connection here? why not "Long before the Nintendo Gamecube had buttons, the Atari joystick had a button?" Also, the writer takes the wrong POV on the whole matter.
Atari's joystick and button design was considered the 'de-facto' standard until Nintendo came with the D-Pad four-directional button design for their Nintendo Entertainment System controller. It took quite a long while before Nintendo came back with the analogue controller concept, which also, in its turn became the de-facto standard (as did the SNES shoulder buttons).

This weird analogy between the N64 analogue stick and the Atary2006 joystick becomes more apparent here: "The joystick only had eight directions, so in technicality it wasn’t an analog joystick." This makes more sense. The guy simply has no clue about anything. Directions not make a joystic analogue. Analogue control means that different pressure on the control gets different outcomes. The joystick can move to 360 directions, but if a nudge right and a full pull to the right doesn't give you different moves, it's not analogue (meaning that your game character moves slower when you move the controller a bit, and run at full speed when you pull it all the way).
Controllers also have analogue buttons, which can only be pushed, so you can say they only have "2 directions". They are, however, fully analogue.
(side note, I don't pretend to know exactly how "analogue" was the Atari 2006 joystick as I have never actually used it.)

(Update: The guy's a barrel of laughter alright. The Nintendo Entertainment System is referred to as "The NES (Nintendo Entertainment System) and Famicom (as it was referred to in Japan)". Of course, it's the other way round, as the system was called Famicom and the US version was called NES. Then he adds "the controller had ... a four way directional D-Pad, which was designed by Gunpei Yokoi, as a superior alternative to the joysticks from Atari." Actually the D pad was designed for the Game-and-Watch systems as a practical solution to the controlling problem those games offered, as they couldn't have a joystick attached to them. But you gotta love the "superiour" part. He later claims that "Nintendo decided to bring the analog stick to offer complete 3D control." How can 3d control be achieved with an analogue stick, heavens only knows.)

Holy recursive references, Batman!

Pointing towards the Lowell Sun, a post already risen to fame concerning over 1000 edits to Wikipedia made from US government IP addresses. Most of these were made by interns working for congresspersons, and didn't involve much more than padding up relevant entries, however, the bigger spiel refers to one U.S. Rep Marty Meehan, who's staff edited his bio in the following way: Instead of "Meehan first ran for Congress in 1992 ... As part of that platform Meehan made a pledge to not serve more than four terms, a central part of his campaign. This breaking of the pledge has been a controversial issue in the 5th Congressional District of Massachusetts."
The edited entry read: "Meehan was elected to Congress in 1992 on a plan to eliminate the deficit. His fiscally responsible voting record since then has earned him praise from citizen watchdog groups. He was re-elected by a large margin in 2004."
Lovely, even thought they forgot to add "God bless America".

A quick jump to said Wikipedia entry reveals that indeed the damage has been undone: "Meehan first ran for Congress in 1992 ... Meehan made a pledge not to serve more than four terms. He won the 1992 election and was re-elected to Congress every two years since, including the latest election (2004). On the House floor in 1995 he scolded members who might go back on their promise to limit their tenure in office. "The best test of any politicians' credibility on term limits," he said, "is whether they are willing to put their careers where their mouths are and limit their own service." Despite this peldge (sic), he again ran for Congress in the year 2000, exceeding four terms. [2]"

Nice one. See if they dare remove it. But, what's the [2] in the article stands for? It's actually referenced to an article in a site called the US Term Limit about politicians running on the promise to quit after X terms, but have some issues with actually keeping that promise. However, unless you click or hover over the link, there is no indication that this is a link to an outside article and not an inner link to a note or referendum (unless you're familiar with Wikipedia's system of placing links to notes and references in superscript). If you do check the "item [2]" in the articles notes, lo and behold, you'll find:
Lehmann, Evan. "Rewriting history under the dome". Lowell Sun Online. January 27, 2006.

This got me thinking. The Lowell Sun wrote about the change in Wikipedia's entry, which, after returning the original content "linked" to the Lowell Sun as a source! Isn't that like anything said in a Libel suit can be published as "quotes from the trial" despite being libel?

Of course, I'm just taking it too far, as the real paragraph linking to the Lowell Sun article was the one where the Wikipedia incident was mentioned (emphasises mine): "On 18 July 2005, U.S. Rep. Marty Meehan's staff made controversial changes to his Wikipedia article. These edits consisted of, among other things, removing verified facts that portrayed him in a bad light. On January 27, 2006, Matt Vogel, Meehan's chief of staff, admitted to authorizing a replacement article on Meehan published on Wikipedia, with a staff-written biography.[2] This ran afoul of internal Wikipedia guidelines and possibly federal law."

Oh my. Let's start with the simpler ones, "Controversial" is in the eye of the beholder. You'd expect that the writer would use this, taking Wikipedia's side, but keep in mind that Wikipedia, according to the Lowell Sun 'promotes a "neutral point of view" policy.' Hehe. sorry. Low blow.
Nos. 2, is the "his" reference. I assume the writer meant "this" (actually I don't assume it, but let's get on with it), as the Wikipedia entry about Rep Meehan is not exactly "his". "About him" yes, "of him", could be. "His"? Nope. Of course, Wikipedia writers tend to see themselves as the definitive article. In this way of thinking, writing an entry regarding person X is "the entry to end all entries". And as such should be treated with all respect and integrity.

Which brings us to "possibly federal law."
In a nutshell, WHAT?
Did I fell asleep or did someone hinted that Meehan's staff actions are against Federal Law? I truly hope whoever did this didn't log from home, as this goes way beyond libel.
Just to further clarify matters, here is the correlating paragraph from the Lowell Sun article (emphasises mine): "The changes by Meehan's staff are not as "reprehensible" as inserting derogatory comments in someone else's entry, said Stephen Potts, former director of the federal Office of Government Ethics, which establishes conduct standards for the executive branch."

Still with me? Ethics, not law. Conduct standards, not law. OTHER PEOPLE, not Meehan's staff.
After all the brouhaha about Meehan's staff editing this and editing that, there goes annonymous poster X and just, based on what apparently is nothing more than a customary glance at the original article, hints that the editing goes against Federal law. I would love to know which law that would be.

(Update: Going through the editing made to the Wikipedia article, it seems that the original text was "changes to the Wikipedia article about him" which was changed to "his wikipedia article" by Wikipedia user Achille for reasons of "Grammar". Feh.
The "possible federal law" bit was added by a user named Sukiari, no basis for this was given.
In both cases, this was the only change made, removing the possibility of a slip-up)

Monday, January 30, 2006


That's a joke BTW, about resolutions.

I keep noticing a trend in my posts, where I start a parenthesis, and then develop it to a full blown paragraph, never realising I need to close off a bracket. This is the evil of Code Completion. You just get used to the fact that something will notify you of keeping a bracket open.

Also, I should refrain in the future about not posting for several days, then doodle something about parenthesis and call it a day.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

would have broken both of her arms

I think the title of this short review says it all: "Marble Blast Ultra Fun, But Not Addictive".

I don't know about anyone else, but I just cring in dismay and, may I say, loathing upon this title. My opinions on "Addictive" are documented elsewhere, and while I'm no Tom Chick, I quite agree with his aversion to games being rated on the "fun" level. (In a nutshell, "fun" is a completely subjective element which has no similar meanings with any two different human beings. One sees fun in micro managing the Nth unit out of another gazillion ones, while the other sees fun in playing solitaire. Not that I have anything against subjectiveness in reviews (which are, after all, opinions), but saying that "Game X is fun" tells me nothing about it, unlike saying "Game X is a RTS with some heavy micro-management needed" or "Game X is a simple puzzle game like Tetris".
Fun is not a way to describe games, or anything else. It's simply not a description.

Try this as a test, supposed your friend/family/coworker comes back from the weekend and you ask him/her "what did you do on the weekend", to which comes the answer "we had fun". I believe this settles it, but just for the sake of the joke, let's continue the discussion: "Yes, but which kind of fun?" "There's only one kind of fun." And so on. That kind of discussion is no fun. At least in my opinion.

Somebody else

Even if you don't frequent OneAndOneIs2, you're probably familiar with the author's "Linux is not Windows" article. One of the examples of functionality Vs. User-Friendliness is given by comparing VI's method of copying 5 lines to the bottom of the page (type d5d Shift-g p) to any Microsoft text editor (selecting the 5 lines block by either keyboard or mouse, cutting, scrolling to the bottom and pasting). Now this seems fairly straight forwards and simple. However, one guy didn't find it as straightforward. While both this article and OneAndOne's rebuttal tell the whole story, please notice what, according to PC Pipeline is the actual process of getting those 5 lines copied down:

My immediate reaction upon seeing this was "uh... no". Now I'm no VI guru, but where the hell did all those ':' and ENTERs come from? Click on the links for the whole story, I'll just laugh away here.

(I realise the link is to VIm's site and not VI's. Find me VI's site and I'll link to it)

I'm gonna stop wastin' my time

I've recently made some comments about online RPGs, which, regardless of how true, they fail to catch the really important issue. Gold Farming. I'm hardly an expert on this, but from my understanding, these are groups, or evern companies that play MMORPGs for days and hours on end, collecting money, experience and items, and then sell them for real-world money. I assume the logic here is, if you already paying for a: the game and b: the right to play it, you might just as well pay for c: gold and items.

It's such an infallible logic that makes you understand why spam still thrives despite some technology moguls promises from 2 years ago. It would seem that people are dumb. Insanely so. You know all the SF stories about getting rid of all the mentally ill and ending up with a disfuncional world? Yep, we have reached that point.

We can Dick you

More Philip K. Dick in the media, Boingboing once again with the spiel regarding a Robert Silverberg article in the Asimov's science fiction magazine about Philip K. Dick and his "predictions" coming true. Actually, from the article it seems that Silverberg reflects less on the prophetic concepts in K. Dick's work, or the inventions-come-realities concepts (which Dick's book didn't have), but more on his concepts of reality and what the future man will be.

On the other hand, some may say we already live in the future.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Packages and interestingies

Just had the coolest dream with a full blown comic story. Forgot all about it, natch.

I've been using LyX for some time now, and have fallen in deep love with it. My only problem was that once again, the Ubuntu version was one step behind the version available. A quick search in the LyX's ftp server was just what the doctor ordered, as the 1.3.7 version is there in full Ubuntu packages glory.

I wish the same could be said of Gaim, it seems those guys believe the world begins and ends with Red Hat's Fedora. I can understand someone ignoring Ubuntu (but not for long, mind you!), but no Debian package? Insanity.

Losing reality, gaining domain

The honorable Richard Cobbett, true friend of the above and below and a source for inspiration, always (tongue goes back in mouth now), has made a transaction of the less (or more) journalistic-inclined matter (aka, the blog) from their previous place of residence to a whole new domain name, patched in a cool template, and let it rip.

The new blog is titles Not Really Richard, and is definitely worth taking a look, and more. Of course, for a collection of Mr. Cobbett esq. Journalistic works, the old domain is still there.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Follow ups and downs.

Some recent stuff I found which, in one way or the other resonate with stuff I wrote previously. Just interesting to see other people's takes on stuff I opinionated on:

Hideo Kojima, Director of the Metal Gear Solid games (and the Metal Gear ones, but who's counting) claims that, believe it or not, Games Are Not Art. He compares video games to cars, saying that "an actual car, like a videogame, is interactive, ... There are 100 people driving a car; they have 100 ways of driving it and using it ... So this car has to be able to be driven by all 100 of these people, so in that sense, it's totally not art". In his opinion, video games contain art, and the video games directors/producers' job is similar to "running a museum".
I find his opinions nicely resonating with some of my own on the matter. Looking forward to read the full interview once it becomes available.

In other news, Gaim, the multi-protocol Instant Messaging software, just released it's second beta. I've written quite at length about it and my experience with it. Sadly, no word on any Ubuntu adoption of it, yet. Not that I'm going to experiment with it... Yet.

Unlike the respected Mr. Jakub Wojnarowicz, I have no problem expressing my love for all things Nintendo, but this disturbing image of a mocked-mushed-up Zelda Revolution controller just irritates me to no end.
To which I can only say, ahem... IT MUST BE MINE!!!!!!!!!!111

Monday, January 23, 2006

Peter Pan in Scarlet. Why, goddamit?

Now here's a nice thing to ruin your day.
According to the BBC, there is a Peter Pan sequel in the making, called "Peter Pan in Scarlet" and was written by one Geraldine McCaughrean, who's talent, it seems, focused on "reinterpreting" classics such as Noah's Ark, Moby Dick and The Canterbury Tales for younger readers.

Let's pull over for a second. Noah's Ark, Moby Dick and the Canterbury Tales? One is a 2 page story from the bible, the second one a huge, sprawling epic, and the third a middle-English collection of several tales of dark ages vice. Other than stomping on their heads, stripping them out to the bare bones, and then crossing out all the "naughty" things, sugar coating whatever is left and hanging it to dry, I don't see what exactly can this "reimagination" business be. Also, this is yet another writer specialising in making a living off other people's work, which is the OBVIOUS choice to crap all over J. M. Barrie's work, as any serious, original artist will never even dream of touching Peter Pan.

Back to the topic in hand. London's Great Ormond Street Hospital, holders of the Peter Pan rights decided to create a sequel, and hired the aforementioned writer to do it. Apparently raking in the money from James Matthew Barrie's novel and whatever merchandise/movies/TV series made of it wasn't enough, they are out to destroy the remains of the original by publishing a book that will have as much to do with Peter Pan as Disney's Winnie The Pooh has to do with A.A. Milne's works. That hack writer of them has apparently created a "high adventure, and swashbuckling danger". Fitting, as the original had nothing to do with any of those. Barrie's book was a story of children's view of the world, of child-like fear of growing, of infant morality, sex, and nightmares coming true. The whole pirate angle was just a way of realising those themes in what was, for the time, the popular trend in children literature. Had he lived today, he'll probably write about Superheroes and Pokemons.

They didn't stop there, mind you. From the article "The trustees stipulated the book must feature the original characters - Peter, Wendy, Tinkerbell, the rest of the Darling family and the fearsome Captain Hook." Right. Heavens forbid anyone actually READ Peter Pan, where Captain Hook DIED.
Sod it, just read for yourself:

"Michael believed longer than the other boys, though they jeered at him; so he was with Wendy when Peter came for her at the end of the first year. She flew away with Peter in the frock she had woven from leaves and berries in the Neverland, and her one fear was that he might notice how short it had become; but he never noticed, he had so much to say about himself.
She had looked forward to thrilling talks with him about old times, but new adventures had crowded the old ones from his mind.
"Who is Captain Hook?" he asked with interest when she spoke of the arch enemy.
"Don't you remember," she asked, amazed, "how you killed him and saved all our lives?"
"I forget them after I kill them," he replied carelessly.
When she expressed a doubtful hope that Tinker Bell would be glad to see her he said, "Who is Tinker Bell?"
"O Peter," she said, shocked; but even when she explained he could not remember.
"There are such a lot of them," he said. "I expect she is no more."
I expect he was right, for fairies don't live long, but they are so little that a short time seems a good while to them.
Next year he did not come for her. She waited in a new frock because the old one simply would not meet; but he never came.

No John. No Tinker Bell. No Captain Hook, only Michael, who's still almost an infant, and Wendy. And that's one year after, Peter only came back once, and that was when Wendy was already a mother herself. Thank you, noble copyright holders and trustees for "insisting" on the one aspect of the story that makes it clear that you haven't even read the original.

Oh, and it probably bears mentioning why did those noble trustees came up with this mess all of the sudden. From the BBC article: "Royalties from the new book will be split between the author and the hospital, whose ownership of the rights to Barrie's work is due to expire in 2007". Isn't that comfy? They only have one more year of milking it dry, so they give it all they got. "The success of Peter Pan in Scarlet will ensure that Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children will benefit from Barrie's legacy for many years to come" says the Hospital spokesperson. Read: we're going to lose the steady income we've been getting from Barrie's work, so we just made a new one that will compensate for this. They hired a paint-by-numbers author, gave her marching orders to create a sequel featuring all the known characters, and make it a "fun" book. They didn't want a re-visioning of Barrie's work in modern eyes. They didn't want to pursue the themes and ideas he painted in his works. They wanted a "franchise sequel", with all the original characters, and to hell with whatever integrity the name Peter Pan still has.

You know, I've seen the Disney movie, where Peter and Wendy looked like two naive teenagers and Hook was a cookie-cutter bad guy. I've seen some snippets of an animated series, which was as interesting as watered down milk. None have made me so furious as this one. Fortunately, the book is out of copyright next year, so that would be the last thing those people has to do with it. If only the same could be said of Disney.

Death wears no clothes

I'm not into MMORPGs or whatever they are called these days. Never saw the point in paying monthly for a game I already owned, never saw the point in paying monthly for what is basically a 3d chatroom combined with a shallow RPG experience. Never saw the point in paying monthly for a game that demands dozens of hours on end for just reaching level 10 (I can get that for free just by playing Baldur's Gate). I think the monthly payment is what mostly had me off. And the games didn't really offer me something extra that would make me invest the money and the hours. Not to mention that I can put aside any game I'm playing and get back to it a month later without having to worry about a month I paid without playing. Not to mention that when a new expansion is released everyone has to buy it in order to have the privilege of accessing the new areas in a game they already have been paying for monthly for over a year.

At any rate, I'm not an online RPG player, one way or the other. So I might not "get" the point in the next thing I'm going to mention. This Wonderland article mentioned some (very nice indeed) concept art from "Guild Wars", with a link to even more concept art. What piqued my interest is actually this link to flickr collection of 2 factions from the game, the Assassin and the Ritualist.

Now, call me old fashioned, but don't both character seem to be somewhat lacking in terms of clothing? I don't know about the Ritualist (I guess there's more than one way pleasing the ghosts, if you catch mah drift), but I can't really see that assassin in that outfit. Especially if you check the head-gear. It seems that they had a very limited budget that could have gone either to clothes or to a headgear. If you take a look at the assassin, just to push the point, it looks completely ridiculous. (Speaking of which, why would an assassin need to hide her face? It's not like your victims will be in any state to recognise you). I think Soul Calibur's Taki had a better take on the whole thing, She wore a full body, tight fitting suit, which is a lot more reasonable. As a thief/assassin, any loose garment might get caught in some nail or the likes when you climb the fence/wall. She did have a mask in Soul Calibur, which, I guess was later dropped. Again, in comparison, Guild Wars assassin is all about loose garments, from skirt to jacket. I guess the idea is that she's dressed like that to her victims a very nice parting gift.

Again, I'm familiar with the females in fantasy, and the whole "wouldn't a chain armour be a better choice than that leather bra?" concept. It's not a one-way discussion, as having your heroine run around in (leather) underclothes is not much more sensible than having your hero run, jump and climb in full plate armour. But you can keep the eye-candy appeal without sacrificing your common sense. Take Xena for example. I also couldn't help noticing that both new classes were a bit morbid in nature. I guess someone has to cater to the Goth kids. That would explain the outfits as well.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

gmail has a bug. Period.

Recently some news have been popping up and down regarding a certain bug that Google's Gmail service has, that when someone is using a dot in his user name (sort of like erez.schatz@gmail.com) and another user has the same username, minus the dot (erezschatz@gmail.com), the email sent to the dotted client will arrive at the non-dotted one, or the other way around.
This has been supported by some and debunked by others. However, it's not a hoax.

I have several "sleeper" accounts with gmail, for reasons I don't even recall, each auto relaying messages to my main email account, and two of them using a dot in the user name as a separator between words, I've received emails sent to those two accounts which were obviously not sent to me. The "to" field in the email clearly showed that the emails were sent to the firstsecond@gmail.com address, rather than to the first.second@gmail.com.

The oddest thing here, is that the whole "point as separator" concept was suggested by gmail as an alternative when your username was already taken. On the other hand, it might be that this bug was introduced recently. At any rate, I doubt it'll hang around for long, what with Google's army of programmers probably tearing their communal asses in fixing it. Only everything one reads about Google gives the impression they don't really care... We'll wait and see.

Do P.K. Dick fans dream of electric books?

Been sitting on those links for a while now, curtsey of the Double Boing regarding Philip K. Dick, who is also one of my favourite authors, apart from being an excellent writer.

For starters, we have the latest episode of Benjamen Walker's Theory Of Everything radio show, where he discusses Philip K. Dick's works with Jonathan Lethem and Josh Glenn .

Following that, this Philip K. Dick fansite offers a scanning of a comic magazine "Weirdo" which on its 18th issue offered a story called The Religious Experience of Philip K. Dick. It's based on the events described by Dick in Valis, regarding some sort of religious, almost messianic experience he underwent during 1974, following which he wrote what later become his Valis trilogy. I tend not to recommend those books. Not because I don't like them, but because talking about them creates a huge expectation among the listener. That listener might go and buy those books expecting something out of this world. He might just find that, or he might find a pathos filled religious mambo jumbo without too much real content. It's sort of like listening to a Peter Hammill concert. I would sit there thinking this is the greatest experience of my life, another might try to sneak out the first moment he can.

Another nicety about this comic is that it is being created by R. Crumb which is a great comic artist with a very well recognised and well defined style. I sort of think about him as the father of many contemporary cartoons like Ren and Stimpy and their copiers.

The final piece of the trilogy is another radio show, this time from the BBC Radio 4. In Confessions of a Crap Artist, writer Ken Hollings discusses the Valis experience and tries to separate the writer from the work.

A word of warning, though. If anyone isn't familiar with the work of PK Dick, I suggest reading one of his earlier books like Ubik, rather than trying to familiarise with the author based on those links. They discuss the later, less communicative Dick, and might give one the wrong impression about what the rest of Dick's works are like. To anyone familiar with Dick, this is an excellent way to find out about the late works and this weird world he lived in during his final years.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

You need help

Those who've been with Ubuntu since the previous version are probably familiar with the UbuntuGuide, now, the guide has been resurrected and updated, and can be found here.

Keep in mind, it's still "unofficial", as much as that can mean anything. The official Starter Guide is here.

ReClam your web

LifeHacker with the Gospel, A new Firefox extention called ClamWin Glue allows you to tie the open-sourced/free-software anti-virus ClamWin with your Firefox downloads, thus solving one of the biggest issues with the ClamAV derivative. It doesn't say whether it works with ClamAV for GNU/Linux (which is probably not), but then again...

Shock, Horror and Awe

According to Giant-Panda.com, the Panda is a bear after all! Now that's disheartening. Or not. I'm too confused.

Speaking of shocking the news, the winner of the ChessVariants Pages "10-chess" contest has been announced, and it's not me. Not that surprising, as I didn't make it to the finals this year.

Also, regarding my previous post, found this at the Video Game Media Watch: The NYTimes offer the guide to Internet trolls, or how we here like to call them "The noisy kids who make a lot of rukus in forums and talkbacks and scare people like FiringSquad's Editor-In-Chief Jakub Wojnarowicz into writing self-discreting 'Disclaimers' about his lack of professionalism in fear of being called 'Fanboy' for having the audacity to make an opinion."

Friday, January 20, 2006

I am not a journalist

Not me, of course, never claimed to be one.
I'm talking about Jakub Wojnarowicz from the self proclaimed "Home of the hardcore gamer" FiringSquad. This is the first paragraph of an article posted on that site (and linked by EvilAvatar) titled "Nintendo: For the win":

"Disclaimer: I am not a Nintendo fan. Of all Nintendo systems, I only owned the NES, GBA, and briefly, the SNES. The N64 was a subject of my humor and the GameCube earned immediate contempt for its storage format and the vastly inadequate memory cards it came with (it took 3 or 4 to save a season of Madden with rosters on release). Regular readers of the site will have no doubt read many of my scathing comments about the Revolution controller design."

Now, just in plain, simple words, what the hell is this guy's problem?
Do you see any other analyst column starting with the "I am not an Oracle fan"? "Of all HP's brands I only had..."? "WinXP Home was a subject of my humour"?
You don't, even if those articles were titled "Company X: For the win". It's just something you don't do as it A: discredit yourself as a writer, B: discredit your article as being unprofessional (since if it is professional, no one should think you're a "fanboy") C: discredit your profession, since if positive articles are "fanboism", and negative articles are "bashing", how serious do you want anyone to take you and your peers? And D: discredit your readers. If Wojnarowicz thinks FiringSquad readers really need that "disclaimer" before the article, it doesn't speak highly of what he thinks of them.

Try any review, or commentary about Nintendo, Microsoft of Sony's new (and old) consoles, and you'll never see those "disclaimers". Not for a bad commentary/analysis/review, not for a good one, and, would you believe it, not even if the writer is an in-your-face flat-out Nintendo fanboy! Why is that? Because that's what a commentary/analysis/review is all about, which is having an opinion, and expressing it. Some give both sides of the argument, some only one side, some are reporting and some are preaching, but that's quite alright, because all of them are looking at the current state of affairs and sounding off their opinions on it.

On a similar matter, Wojnarowicz description of his Nintendo experience is, for lack of other words, embarrassing. From a person writing for a site that claims to be one of the "big guns", I would expect a bit more than his "Nintendo resume". Not owning the SNES (or whatever briefly means)? Using the N64, home of Mario 64, Ocarina of Time and GoldenEye as nothing more than a "subject of my humour" and have nothing to say about the NGC, who offers Metroid Prime and Resident Evil 4, both being hailed as the best games released at their respected years other than blaming it for EA programmers' buggy memory usage in their Madden games? Not good for a person who is the site's "Editor-in-Chief, Games" (just bothered to look at his profile). At least GameSpy's writers lie about playing every game since SpaceWars (better in the sense that they realise that NOT playing those games might make their opinion undervalued in the eyes of their readers).

I don't really know how "big" is FiringSquad, to be honest. I know Tom Chick used to write for them, so they're "big" enough to be able to pay their writers, and I seem to recall their reviews being stretched over multiple pages, so they probably could pay a lot of money to their writers. Disregarding this issue, I doubt that there's a high air of professionalism in a site who's Editor In Chief has this to say about game review scores: "Though game review scores live in their own little world of the 60-90% range (with everything below being reserved for Daikatana and Mortyr)".

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Fallo la subestimacian su registro neto del libro que usa

(To anyone fluent in Spanish, the title was botched in purpose. It was Google-translated, but from a very garbled English original)

I've been using Bloglines as my RSS reader for a long time now, and up until now had almost zero complaints. Not only that, but every other similar solution I tried sent me back almost immediately. But, recently, I had encountered two interesting glitches. The first was a bit annoying, as it failed to count the actual number of new post in the C|net news feed, giving it as zero despite the actual number being around a hundred. Later, it failed to remove read posts from that feed. Only this morning did it report 125 new messages (about 115 of them I read already), and cleaned them, so that's one been solved.
The bigger, albeit less irritating and more odd-ish is the language issue. About a week ago, after I upgraded FireFox to 1.5, the Bloglines page would start with either Chinese or Japanese characters (can't really tell the difference). After the first page reload (which it does once I click on a feed), it sorted back to English. A couple of days ago, my work FireFox started showing the page in German, but also returned to English after the first reload.
Now it's in Spanish for almost two days, and apparently quite happy there, as it won't go back to English no matter what. My home computer show it in English, though.
I guess this is one way of opening people to other cultures.

In other news, Google Talk opened their protocol, which enables Google users to communicate directly with users of Linux IM client Gaim. As a happy Gaim user, this fills me with joy to no end.

(Update: Just like that, Bloglines returned to ye aulde English, wonders will never cease)

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Sometimes you get kicked

Brass Lantern, apart from having the one of the coolest names on the web, is also a great source for everything Interactive Fiction. This time, the information is regarding a new plugin for jEdit, named Inform SideKick, which adds features to jEdit, making it into a DE (Develop Environment) for the Inform game system.
In a nutshell, Inform is a scripting language used to create Interactive Fiction games (alias Text Adventures). Like most scripting languages it's a combination of the actual language, as well as an interpreter. It's similar (I don't really know to which magnitude) to the actual language used in the Infocom games (such as A Mind Forever Voyaging, Planetfall, and that other one).

The actual plug-in looks pretty neat, if I attempt to judge from the screenshots, it's based on the KickBack plugin, for the code formatting/completion, and the ErrorList plugin, for marking errors in the script.
My only issue here is that I've tried working with that combination to use jEdit as a Java DE, which wasn't exactly a remarkable experience. Things didn't work the way they should, and some serious tweaking was needed. After that, it got better, but still had major issues, and response time was horrible. In other words, the screenshots look nice, but they are no indication of how much work you need to invest in order to get those features up and running, and no indication of what exactly "running" means (could be walking, or limping, mind you). On the other side, I never claimed to be the final authority on these matters, or any authority at all. So if anyone's interesting in this, and had a good experience with jEdit, then by all means, this just might be the plugin for you.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Animal house

Saw this at Cute Overload, some Japanese folks have created a site where they post pictures of Panda dolls. Wonders will never cease.

I've also been recently obsessed with owls. I'm looking for some really cool owl desktop. Any ideas?

Ostensibly maintainable eccentricities

I've returned to an old passion of mine. No, not sex. NetHack. I've sunk more hours into that bugger than I did on many later games. Although not as much as I sunk in Rogue, though. Funny thing is, I never really beat, or came even close to beating any of those two. Just played them for ages. I'm not going to go in details about what is NetHack, what are Roguelike games etc. It's an experience best experienced, rather than told. Of course, if you have an aversion to crude ASCII graphics, don't even think of downloading it (There's a cutesy bitmap tiles version that comes with the game now, but for some unexplained, and most likely depraved reason, it just doesn't cut it for me.

Another thing that comes to mind concerning RogueLike games, is that they are usually associated with the ghastly term known as "addictive gameplay". This, for some reason is supposed to be a Good Thing. It's not. Like Immersion and "fun factor" this isn't something that can be defined, or created. Some can sink hours upon hours in Civilization, others in World of Warcraft, while others play Counter-Strike for days straight. There isn't anything even similar about those games, and yet they all have been attributed the "addictive" crown.

I've read the odd article about those (and others) games being about small progression, rewarding the player with small, or larger rewards for each stage he completes (levels, tech advances, etc) , with the requirements for each new step getting steeper and steeper. Also, another attribute is the occasional (and usually random) finds, such as unique items. While this is true, and easily applicable to many other "addictive" games (The diablo series, and it's spiritual heritage of the Roguelike games immediately comes to mind), it's also applicable to almost every game out there. RPGs are most easily defined by these qualities. RTS as well (tech trees, getting new units, missions getting longer and harder with bigger rewards).

However, this is not the general rule at all. The FPS genre, which is known to be seriously "addictive" does not include those attributes. Even more extreme, the puzzle genre doesn't even come close to include those traits. It is true that contemporary designers like PopCap insert their games with many elements that are designed to increase the addictive element, such as player level system, highly responsive game environment (items react to mouse overs, music changes with the game, etc) rewards that increase and expand the gameplay and more, but can the same be said of Microsoft Solitaire, or MineSweeper? Hardly. Those games, the scourge of office productivity offers none of the above. In fact, in term of game design, those two are supposed to be anything BUT addictive, offering the exact same pointless experience every time, with no rewarding, progressing or anything even similar.

So what is that addictive element? Apparently, human nature. We, and not game design, supply the added element that makes a game addictive. In fact, calling a game "addictive" is actually a misnomer. It suggests that the game has qualities that make us addicted to it, which it isn't. When we call a game "addictive" we mean it "sucks you in" and makes you play it for hours. That's not addictive. Addictive, or narcotic substances creates a temporary change in the mind, or body, chemistry, altering our reaction to the environment, but, and much more importantly, also cause a withdrawal effect to occur.

In the end, it's all about people. We get addicted to games, even to simple, mind numbing repetitive ones like Solitaire. We get addicted to online chats, to TV watching, to food, to sleep, you name it. It doesn't have to alter the pleasure cores in our brain, or mess with our sensory perception to make us addicted, and it definitely doesn't have to cause us a physical withdrawal discomfort. We develop those ourselves. It's perfectly human nature.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Stuff of the day

Cool page of the day:
Saw this via Kotaku, a comparison of American and Japanese Xbox covers. Interesting comparisons, not exactly what you thought. Most people might be under the impression that either a: the Japanese get the better covers, or b: The Japanese get some dolled up "anime" style covers. In reality, it's neither, both, and something else completely.

Cool Visual Component of the day:
It's a VS.NET Windows Form component, so it's not exactly something I would even consider under pain of pain to attach the word "cool" or "recommended" to, but, all things considered, this mind-map component called TreeGX is really nice, if only it didn't belong to that cardinal sin called Visual Basic. For anyone interested in Mindmaps, I still find FreeMind to be the better, open source, free (as in an unlicensed beer) product. (Found this through the Secret Geek)

Cool Too Much Free Time project of the day:
The Brass Lantern links us to The Non-Comp Review Project 2005 is a compilation of reviews for every Interactive Fiction game released in 2005, which hasn't been part of the IFComp (the Interactive Fiction Competition).
To the uninitiated, Interactive Fiction is a genre also known as Text Adventure, the insanely brainy format that brought to us classics like A Mind Forever Voyaging and PlanetFall, as well as modern Gems like Spider and Web, So Far & All Roads, and, naturally, the usual overrated "classics".

Cool coincidence (?) of the day:
I was looking at the Geeks on Stun site which I RSS occasionally (meaning upon the occasion that they update the site) and when I got to this page, I found the following part:
"but for the spreading of FUN are bringing the best puzzle game of ALL TIME (Not including Lumines and Tetris Attack of course (And we just mean the Super Nintendo version, not Pokemon Puzzle League (But the Game Boy Color one was okay, we guess (Now, we really only DID played it this one time at a Waffle House with Mssrs. Amigarad and Turbeaux (Are we really using their online nicknames? (Or was that a Perkins? Can one of you refresh that memory? Send us an e-mail.))))))"
I mean, what? I know I haven't invented this, but it's not like, well, I don't know. Could be a case of great minds think alike, or that someone happened to pass by my humble blog and just lifted up the whole "multiple brackets" silliness... Oh well, I knew I should've patent it.

Speaking of which,
Cool patent of the day:
Microsoft somehow managed to patent FAT (File Allocation Table, Microsoft file system that preceded NTFS). This is not good. Not good at all. If this would mean that GNU/Linux OS wouldn't be able to read FAT partitions, I might have to completely delete windows from the harddrive. However, it appears that the fight is far from over.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

This is your computer, this is your computer on Windows

I assume everyone's been hearing of Microsoft's latest "GNU/Linux doesn't run on older hardware". Well, guess what? they lied. Side note, I've been running Ubuntu on my Pen III 800 ThinkPad laptop, with nothing more than 64 MB or RAM. Granted, I've been using XFCE4 rather than Gnome, but it runs like a charm. It also runs win98 SE, of course, but that's not exactly supported by Microsoft, hinting that they don't really want their users to keep the old hardware. So the real question here is why bother with this research in the first place?

More on Microsoft Security, last week I wrote about the whole WMF fuckup. By that time, Microsoft have released a very rushed patch, several days before the official release date (Meaning the patch was not planned to be released, despite the critical risk it presented anyone with a Windows machine) a move that was quickly spun as MS security execs patted themselves on the back claiming a "record release time".
So, with the patch released and the flaw addressed, is all well in Redmond?
Are you kidding me?
For starters, it might be that the patch force your computer to install it. Second, it seems that patch does not address all the flaws caused by the WMF rendering engine. And they still have the audacity to claim GNU/Linux is less secure.

While on the subject, Grisoft released a GNU/Linux free version of their much popular (and much recommended) Anti-Virus software.
I prefer using ClamAV, as well as its sister project, ClamWin for Windows, though, but it's nice to have a choice.

Thanks to OSNews for most of the links.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Connect the dots.... IF YOU DARE!!!

There is a very interesting link between all the following links.

Starting with those amazing images of a member of the feline persuasion, found on Cute Overload, wherelse?

This just Boinged, it has been said that Jim Davis' Garfield isn't exactly the most innovative in terms of new material, but this takes it to a new extreme. Here you can find three panels from completely different strips. The result is interesting. But then again, so are car wrecks.

Speaking of car wrecks and BoingX2, this page in flickr is documenting people who see the Goatse.cx page for the first time. It's either that or pictures from my company's last holiday.

To close it off, this is probably the most post-modern-recursive post I've seen. As link-your-favourite-page site Digg presents Top 100 Digg Stories of 2005. It's a linked story about linked stories. Which makes this post, linking to that page with a link to a page about links to pages a real royal recursive headache, but in an artistic way!


This hillarious item just Boinged into my screen:

"Steven Spielberg will most likely not get any nomination for the BAFTA (British Film Academy) awards for "Munich" ... BAFTA's 3,000+ members were sent encrypted 'screener' DVDs that can only be played on special DVD players supplied by Cinea ... they would not play on any machine because they had been mastered for Region 1 (North America). As BAFTA members are cannot vote for films they have not seen ... the film ought to be disqualified from consideration."

Gotta be cracking eh? of course, the actual public can crack those CDs in less time than it takes to open the package. Brilliant guys, keep em coming!

Monday, January 09, 2006

Post that rumour, hacker, and I'll kill you...

Through the Avatar of much Evil comes the following heart-warming, much awaited... rumour. Darn.
Amyway, GameGossip with the dish: "Though unconfirmed at this time, a recent filing (or should we say re-filing) on the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) website shows that Electronic Arts re-filed the [System Shock - ES] name on December 15th, 2005."

OK, not something that should raise our heart beats in palpitation, as this might be some very ordinary, beurocratic procedure on behalf of the Gaming Giant, but if there's one thing EA has diligently insisted on doing with the System Shock franchise, was ignore it completely and utterly. From the total marketing blackout they laid on System Shock 2, to the almost complete absence of it from their (innavigational by human being) website. So why now? I've no idea. It could be, and probably is nothing. But, those things tend to have a reason, and so far every rumour that was backed by trademarking or domain purchasing turned out to be correct, if only to a degree, as it might be some diablo style XboX game "based" on the System Shock story called "System Shock: Rise of the Hackers" or "SHODAN's revenge" or something. Also keep in mind that EA had nothing to do with both System Shock and System Shock 2. The first was developed by Looking Glass and published by Origin, the second was produced by Looking Glass, developed by Irrational games, and only distributed by EA as the franchise holders, again, without any marketing whatsoever on their side. If this is really a System Shock III, made in the spirit and true to the two previous games, I'll be shocked (no pun intended (honestly, I only thought about it after I wrote it (although you have to admit it did came out kinda nice))).

The subject in question...

From the Wikipedia article about the GNU hurd software.

"If you run the Hurd, you will encounter many bugs. For those people who use their computers for web-surfing, email, word processing, etc., and just want the infernal machine to work, the Hurd's bugs would prove extremely annoying."

Someone is taking this a *bit* too personal, don't you think?

Opening the office

Addendum to previous post, as the 2.0 version of OpenOffice isn't anywhere to be seen, not to mention the 2.0.1 version, this page from the Ubuntu forums gives the current best method of upgrading the 1.9.129 version (the 2.0 "beta 2") of OpenOffice that comes with the installation CD.

How to train-wreck your browser (and half the system with it)

Oh dear. According to the Ubuntu forums, it appears that Firefox 1.0.7 is the final version for the current 5.10 (Breezy Badger) release. The reason? Just too complicated to port.
"A backport will not be done for Firefox 1.5 because of compatibility issues with introducing a new browser, both to the rest of the Ubuntu Breezy platform and to users with heavily customized Firefox setups."

They are not joking about this. I've just spent the better half of the day reconstructing my system after I tried installing Firefox 1.5. Just too much relies on the damn browser for performing such an act. Even Gnome's own help browser had to be removed and re-installed. Nasty affair.
Of course, would you believe it, there is a very helpful HowTo page in the ole Ubuntu wiki site.
Memo to myself, first coffee, then playing Russian roulette with the system.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Confusion in Babylon

That title does NOT work in English, but that's appropriate, given this post's nature.

Found this gem about(?) Intelligent design via the long fingers of the Bruck:

"The opponents of Wrathful Dispersion maintain that it is really just Babelism, rechristened so that it might fly under the radar of those who insist that religion has no place in the state-funded classroom. Babelism ... held that the whole array of modern languages was created by God at a single stroke... Wrathful Dispersion is couched in more cautiously neutral language; rather than tying linguistic diversity to a specific biblical event, it merely argues that the differences among modern languages are too perverse to have arisen spontaneously, and must therefore be the work of some wrathful (and powerful) disperser who deliberately set out to accomplish a confusion of tongues."

All the rest is equally brilliant. Go with the reading, I've been with the linking.

Friday, January 06, 2006

More links

Here's a nice one from Sonspring. A CSS page that, while looking OK in Firefox/Opera, doesn't render at all in Internet Explorer. If you're using MSIE, how about jumping over to the Acid2 Test and just check how far behind is your browser. (Via Digg)

ArsTechnica inform of a portable OpenOffice. A very Good Idea, which along with some other portable applications, could really bring some relief to those forced to use MS' monstrosities at work.

Some notes from the end of a world, the world of Asehron's Call, the dying MMORPG, in this case. This joins Wired's much discussed article, Not With a Bang but a Whimper. I remember when this game was considered the intelligent answer to Everquest. Had a good friend who spent hours on end playing it. Me, I just can't see the point.

Link or float

Getting desperate for those puns.

More information about my previous post regarding the whole GNU/Linux "vs." Windows security befuddle.
NewsForge offers another way of judging the numbers, while The Register presents a somewhat lenghty article regarding the real difference in security between Open Source products and Microsoft's.

ShackNews unloads 8 screenshots of Galactic Civilizations II. Anyone here played GalCiv 1? No? good. Gotta keep my indie cred.

In the "don't ask me, I have no idea", here are excerpts from what appears to be an old Adamanese phrase book, but just might be simple culture jamming on account of Jabal A-Lughat. Thanks to tha Bruck for the link.

In a similar note, I got to this page of the Linux Journal via an RSS link from their feed. It was supposed to be something about Python. Must be some new concept they're trying out.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Show and tell

These things I never seem to get.

A recent post over at the slash of many dottings.

To sum up, the poster mentions that "... According to InformationWeek.com, Linux/Unix (including Mac OS) had almost three times the number of OS-specific vulnerabilities reported last year compared to Microsoft Windows. Obviously, statistics are meaningless without the proper conjecture, speculation, and opinionation, ..."

Let's talk about disclosure-ation, shall we?
The reason UNIX/GNU/Linux, as well as every other Open-Source software, has more REPORTED security vulnerabilities is because THESE ARE EASIER TO LOCATE ONCE YOU HAVE ACCESS TO THE SOURCE CODE.
That doesn't mean Open-source software has more security holes than proprietary, on the contrary, since those are easier to locate (given enough eyes...) and are easier to fix, as result. What I can't undestand is why do people confuse the sharing of knowledge with being secure? It may just be that Microsoft's products are very much less secure than GNU/Linux ones, but you'll never hear of them unless someone else finds that out and post it. That's when the vulnerability becomes "reported".

I'm not saying that Microsoft's products are not secure, mind you. In fact, it may just be that those few and far between, I don't know. Nobody does, Microsoft does not reveal the information. But what I do know, is that a vulnerability that was reported, not by Microsoft, has yet to be officially addressed, causing security companies to advise businesses to use a third party patch despite Microsoft's advisal. And even when such an official patch is released, there's no guarantee it won't cause more damage, or fix the issue at all.

At any given rate, information about GNU/Linux having more reported vulnerabilities only makes me a firmer believer in that system's security. At least GNU/Linux developers are not afraid to disclose such flaws and deal with them.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Fire at the Opera

Lame headline, I know.

Via OSNews: "Opera is Faster, More Secure and More Compliant than Firefox"

The quoted article speaks of the browser's speed (known issue and non-issue, Opera's greatest merit is the way they constantly manage to back up the "Fastest Internet Experience" tagline), security (using the Secunia results), and Standards compliency, via the Acid Test (which I've already found out about).

I've written about this issue several times now, and I think this private little browser war of mine is far from being settled. I don't really think both browsers are good. Excellent, even. And each has their own things that draw me towards them. I think I've mentioned a lot of those, but here are just two key points, which I haven't yet mentioned.

1. I've been using Opera since late 1999, and it's always been my "browser of choice". I've seen it mature and evolve through the 5 and 6 releases, then suffered through the 7 re-writing, which took the browser a step back before it took two steps forwards towards the 7.5 and the triumph which is the 8 version. Compared to that, the year I've been using Firefox isn't really comparable.

2. At the past, I've tried both Mozilla and Opera email clients (Thunderbird and Opera's inner client Mail2), it has become a moot issue, as I've been using gmail these days, so there isn't any need for an email client. Same goes for RSS, PIM and many other "suite" features that are available, either "out of the box" or via browser extensions and complimentary software).

3. Firefox, unlike Opera is Open source and Free software. Not only is that a great issue for me, it's also allows other project, like NVU and Celtx to be based on it, adding to their appeal.

Current situation? I'm using both, until a winner will be decided.

Jumping the Trigger

I guess got online for some times now, but, better late than later, as someone probably always say.

Item in question is OCReMix's newest project, The Chrono Symphonic and this time it's the mother of all Game OST, the Chrono Trigger one. Probably the most loved, remixed, quoted and referenced game soundtrack, (apart from the Final Fantasies, natch).

The name hints of the nature of the project, it's a work of Symphonic re-arrangements/ReMixes. Not a good idea. Orchestrations are a hit and miss, as not everyone who can create a good, solid tune can carry something as massive as a symphonic orchestration. For every brilliant musician like Russell Cox, there are a dozen mediocre ones like Unknown, and worse, two dozen awful ones like Jeremy Robson (Link only supplied for the sake of completeness, actual listening to Robson's tracks is NOT RECOMMENDED). In this case, there are just too many down moments, and just too many Slow-chamber/Epic-massive transitions in almost every one. The usual problem with this kind of thinking is that repetitiveness, which works wonderfully in dance/techno tracks, usually kills an orchestrated track before it get a chance to develop.

Also, going symphonic deprives us of the more exciting and experimental works like Children of the Monkey Machine's Magus works, and many, many others.

It's available to download, and torrent, through the OCReMix site, but, and that's a big one, I really recommend listening to the original before taking a stroll through remix land. While not a prerequisite for 95% of the OCReMix site, in this case there are so many remixes done for almost every track it's always better to actually listen to the original beforehand.

If anyone feels a little experimental, I would suggest trying the Frog songs, the Memories of Green ones, and the Wind Scene ones, to see how different remixers tackle a similar tune.

And, it would seem that after all is said and done, Cox's "The Chrono Trigger" is the best track. Just goes to show, you can't beat quality.

Last year remover

Getting rid of the last (hopefully) 2005 summaries, here is, what I believe is tbe epoch, nay, the zenith of what 2005 meant for you, and for me:
Typographica chooses the best fonts of 2005. And I thought I was depraved.

While on the matter, the BBC site offers 100 things we didn't know last year:
"100. Musical instrument shops must pay an annual royalty to cover shoppers who perform a recognisable riff before they buy, thereby making a "public performance"."
and it gets worse. Not only that, but I can't stand all those American kids calling it "The Beeb", as if they've been driving in Double-Decker busses since they were just wee lads. Bah Humbug.

In recent news

Nothing really interesting.

Well, ArsTechnica has a tidbit about a new GNU VOIP (Voice Over IP) solution, which will probably never get used, for same reasons everyone sticks to their crashing NT and their bloated Exchange servers.
At Slashdot, you can find Opera CEO, Jon von Tetzchner (gesundheit)'s answers to reader questions.

And to close it off with a more spiritual node, let's all close our eyes and pray that the Ubuntu Breezy Backport people will FINALLY get around to packaging Firefox 1.5 and OpenOffice 2.0.1. I mean, it's not even funny anymore, guys.

Pull the other one

Just got an answer from the comp.lang.cobol newsgroup on the OpenCobol issue I blabbed about recently.
I'll give it a run and see whether this does the trick. If not, 2 more to go.

Don't bang the DRM

Excellent post from my homey at OneAndOneIs2 (BTW, kudos on the new site):
"Essentially, the GPL says "This code is copyright and you aren't allowed to use it, but we'll let you use it if you abide by these terms" - remove copyright, and the GPL is worthless.
So no, I can't agree that copyrights should be removed. The creator of a work should be granted ownership of that work. Sharing copyright music over P2P against the copyright owner's wishes is illegal, and it should be. If you're against that view, your'e against any intellectual creation being owned. You're even anti-GPL.

He then goes to sprecht about where did record companies fucked up on the whole mp3 biz, and that's really REALLY wrong with DRM. Check it out.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Media lesson

Before we start, take a look at this article.
The title is "Porn star arrested for raping boy". Now, that isn't a pleasant notion, granted, as "raped" and "boy" gives one immediate connotation of pedophilia.
However, boy in question is 15 year old runaway. Which brings the next question on everyone's mind, which is "why did she need to rape him?", after all, we'd all kill for a night with a porn star, wouldn't we? So what's the deal here anyway?

Let's have a quick look at the happenings here:
"The 20-year-old actress started dating the boy earlier this year. [when she moved to Oklahoma] the boy ran away from home to move in with them ... the group made a splash in the town of less than 300 ... "Some of the townspeople were (suspicious) ...

The sheriff's department ... had determined he was a runaway and sent him back to his family in California.

A warrant was soon issued for the arrest of the porn star after police learned she had plied the boy with marijuana and methamphetamines.

[She was] charged with unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor, rape by use of a controlled substance and transporting with the intent to engage in criminal activity."

OK, the whole Porn Star rapes boy takes a bit of different swing now, doesn't it? it's more of a "boy meets girl, boy run away to live with girl, girl do porn acting and use drugs, boy use drugs and have sex with girl" kind of story. And it's pretty obvious that it isn't a case of someone being raped then running to the cops, but of over "nosy" neighbours who were probably not too happy with the couple.
While I don't really know exactly the details of this fine affair, I can bet both my hands on the fact that both the sex and the drugs were voluntary on the kid's side. The rape charge is a given, as dictated by US laws (meaning that sex with a minor is rape, regardless of whether it is consented or not), but I would like to know where did the drug charge come from. Meaning, who is accusing the girl of giving the drugs to the kid, the police, or the kid himself. Again, it’s more or less a no crime (giving drugs to a minor, US laws, you got it already).

The only thing left unanswered here is how much of a "Porn Star" the girl really is. My money? Probably a couple of scenes on one of the lesser successful sites.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

I link, therefore I am

SomethingAwful's Five Worst Gaming Articles of 2005. I think the title should go to whatever Mrs. Clinton is writing.

A ShoutWire collection:

Jesus Healed Using Cannabis. That is one way of looking at some of the stuff that happened there. It also would excuse the discrepencies in the four gospels as being caused by memory loss. Besides, we all know that Jesus Saves, but God makes Tape Backups.
Sometimes the actual article is a bit less "inspiring" than the title given to it by the linker. Enter "What is Google doing in 2005?". Even considering the fact that this was posted Dec 31, it's a bit of a stretch, don't you think? Just to be on the safe side, the actual article was "Year in Review".
Blogs about blogging. Next article will be the best list of blogs about blogging, I suppose. Then again, we already have a list of all the 2005 top ten lists. Who said Post-Modernism is dead.

Only 4% of Internet users use RSS. Just wait for the first porn site to use RSS to notify whenever their resident working girl finds a new bra to undress from, and that number'll jump to 95%.
Winner of the GIMP 10 years splash screen contest has been announced. The GIMP, or GNU Image Manipulation Program, is one of the GNU/Linux flagships, along with OpenOffice and Firefox, being the closest there is to a Free Software answer to Adobe's Photoshop. So, of course, it just has to have a silly and very geeky name (i.e. the acronym's very solid and professional and all, but in the end it's still called "gimp"). Add insult to injury, the image itself looks, oh well, no nice way of saying it, amateurish. And it's not like the others were bad. Even this one's better. So, what is it? some inherent "I'm a loser, baby" method of thinking?
Moving on.
A new study shows that as of now, there are more American women online than American Men. This is indeed a break through, since until now, there were more American men pretending to be women than American women.

Attack of the average height girls

Saw this one at I'm A Human Inbox.

It's a nice flash animation clip, with a weird story about a little rich girl who has all the toys in the world. The creator of this one (Katie Towel, aka "childrin r skary") is also responsible for a similarly designed flash movie about a little girl that no one loves.
Now, the movie is cute, the story is nice, but it isn't a very good one, especially since the twist is sold by the title, and feels a bit rushed. So what is it about it? The art is nice, the music's well done, and the narration.

Actually, this whole post is just to rationalise the fact that I've watched the whole thing twice in a row and a third time later, just because of the narrator. While her presentation makes it clear that she isn't a pro (not that there's anything wrong with that), her voice and her accent... Oh lord. If god is a woman, and if god speaks english, that must be the accent she's using. The thing is worth just listening to. I need a cigarette.

A Complaining Song

Still running a damn cold. Also, yesterday had a dry run of the scheduler output, only to find I formatter the XML all wrong-ish. While it looks alright on the surface, I should've made the rows as lines and the lines as rows. Currently, if I try to present it in a table via XSLT, it comes up with several lines of the first item. Bugger, I'll need to change the whole lot again.

Dr. UbuntuLove, or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the... Gnome?

Alright, I think I've postponed this one quite a long time.
In a previous post, I've announced the changes I was planning for the computer, mainly, installing Windows on a much smaller partition(s), and "switching" to GNU/Linux. I've also mentioned that the Distro of choice will be one Kubuntu, or the KDE flavor of Ubuntu. This, apparently was not to happen.

To start at the very beginning, I've spent most of last Friday (I think) installing Windows 98 on my laptop. A fun experience, and most recommended to everyone. It started by not recognising the screen drivers and the PCI cards, which forced a stupid 640X480 resolution (a problem it didn't have with ubuntu, mind you). Once I downloaded the IBM drivers, the screen turned into a much more pleasing 1024x764 resolution. That was also the point where the OS lost the CD drive.
I kid you not.
Oh, and not only did it refuse to acknowledge that there was a living, breathing (if somewhat slow) CD-rom drive in the machine, but to reinstall it, demanded that I'll insert a CD with the correct drivers. To those who keep claiming Win98 was a stable, good OS: You're not fooling anyone.

Eventually, I resolved that interesting problem, and got home to get to the main event. I've been moving everything on the hard drives to backup folders, and a good 60GB were left waiting to be formatted and installed on. I've started with the WinXP install, as the Windows boot manager doesn't support dual-OS, but shortened the partition to 20GB, leaving 40GB free. The installation went quite smoothly, with the token silliness of not installing the network card. Now this got me a bit worried. I haven't installed Windows on that computer since the first installment, and any GNU/Linux installation made recognised the card, so I never actually knew whether I have any driver for that card. Fortunately, I always keep those 2-3 Cd's that come with the computer, and an Ethernet card driver was indeed found. Half an hour later and the Windows part of the machine was configured and running. I inserted the Kubuntu CD and rebooted.

I think this was the 6th or 7th time I installed an Ubuntu Distro on a computer (actually much more than that, counting all the false starts on the Laptop - a couple of those "false starts" actually got almost to the end) so I was very much comfortable with the install screen, I've partitioned about 500+ MB for swap, and the rest under "/", with the original 6GB partition formatted as "backup" (current plan is to install FreeBSD on that one). The installation was as usual, quite breezy (no pun intended) and once I got it up and running, I configured the Nvidia drivers, ran the updates (again, no Ethernet card issues here) and went to sleep.

I woke up the next day, excited to start working with the "new" system. I'm no stranger to KDE, as my first "serious" Distro was Mandrake/Mandriva, which was KDE based. So I knew what to expect. What I didn't know, is that about an hour later, I'd start feeling... uncomfortable. I wasn't enjoying myself at all. It's probably due to the fact that I've been very familiar with the Gnome desktop environment used with Ubuntu, but it might just be that whatever KDE is selling, I'm not really buying. For example, KDE is using Konqueror as the browser/file manager unit. I hated it. I didn't like working with it as a browser, and much less as a file manager. The other file manager options in KDE didn't appeal to me either. One of the best things I remembered about KDE was the excellent Text Editor and IDE it offered: Kate and Kdevelop. In the past year, I stopped using any Text Editor except Vim, and I've been using many different Development Environments, such as Eclipse and Anjuta. I really liked Amarok at the time, but the XMMS/VLC combination is a very good substitute. In short, I started regretting the decision to choose KDE over Gnome, and eventually re-installed Ubuntu, this time, using the Gnome CD.

(As a side note, I'm more than aware that all KDE applications can be run in Gnome and vice versa, however, any such attempt tended, more often than not, to end in crashes and lockups. Kdevelop wouldn't even run, while Amarok crashed constantly).

Once installed, it was a whole different experience. For starters, I was quite amazed how easy it was to configure everything. In face, the only thing I needed, at the preliminary stage, to access the command line for was the X.org configuration, to change the driver to the Nvidia one. It's not that I have any problems editing conf files and suchlike, but I didn't really recall configuring the preferences to be so intuitive and simple. I've decided to give Firefox a try, this time (still in the 1.0.7 state, though). I'm an avid Opera user, so it took a bit of tweaking to get Firefox to a stage I'm comfortable with, albeit there are several features I'm still missing (fast forwarding mostly (flash demo), but also multiline tabs. Is it that hard to implement? I honestly don't think so). I'll give it another week or so, and then see whether I can live without Opera.

Other than that, everything's hunky dory. Working on several application puts little to no stress on the resources, once I moved it to the faster hard drive, so I'm relatively enjoying a fast, responsive, and overall fun system. Even Open "Your RAM is my Bitch" Office doesn't ruin the overall experience, although I'll probably roll back to 1.1.5 soon-ish. I didn't think "fun" would be a term one puts on his desktop OS, but there you have it. Ubuntu GNU/Linux, brings back the fun.

Welcome to the Machine

I know I'm not exactly the right person to discuss those issues, but I just noticed (via OSNews, who really should learn some moderation when it comes to announcing a change in the comment system) the announcement that Peter Quinn, CIO of the State of Massachusetts has just resigned. To anyone not in the loop, the whole mess began when Mass. state announced that they will adopt the Open Document format, instead of proprietary (read: Microsoft) formats. The usual suspects immediately raised their heads, as MS sued the state. Come several months, and a few lobbysts later, and not only did the state renounced its previous decision, but in fact, disavowed any connection to Open Document format.
"It is readily apparent that I have become a lightning rod with regard to any IT initiative. Even the smallest initiatives are being mitigated or stopped by some of the most unlikely and often uninformed parties," said Quinn in his resignation email.
I guess office talks around the water cooler have become a bit uneasy for Mr. Quinn.


(My lord, this must be the weakest pun in the entire weak pun infested blog of mine (It's supposed to be a combination of "que" (Spanish for "what" (and COBOL (Oh my (It was really funny when I thought about it (not that it's of any excuse (Actually, this probably makes it worse (since it makes me one of those people who say "it was funny when I thought about it))))))))

I think the biggest issue I had with going 100% GNU/Linux (it's still dual boot, but the WinXP part is oh so smallish, it's not really been taken in any consideration) is that there's not really a solid, usable COBOL compiler. There are the usual suspects (mainly Micro Focus and Fujitsu), but those cost quite a bundle, and besides, I really wanted something a bit more... free (as in freedom (not as in beer (although that's always an added value (think of it as turning 21 (when you still need to pay for your beer (but you can drink it without being arrested (until you get drunk and start throwing things, that is))))))).

There are three projects, all GPLed and GNU/Linux centred which can answer this need, Open COBOL, Tiny COBOL and COBOL for GCC.

I've tried Tiny COBOL on the previous installation, and it didn't work at all. I've compiled and tested Open COBOL yesterday, and while it compiles fine (or at least without any errors/warnings) I do get this error when I try to run the program: error while loading shared libraries: libcob.so.1: cannot open shared object file: No such file or directory.
Really irritating. I'll dig around the install process, to see if I missed anything, but it does look like it's going to be a long night. Of course, if anyone reads this and has any idea (heh, if anyone reads this would be a good start) I would truly appreciate any comments on the right direction.


Or many happy returns of the day, so to speak.

I have celebrated the new year by dragging the old Laptop on my way home from the bus stop, if anyone's wondering. Actually I think I was still in the bus at midnight.

So, what exciting things we can expect in the new year?
Knitting sweaders for Penguins. (Via CNET)
I kid you not.

Happy New Year, everybody.

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