Things Learned on Teh IntarWeb

30 05 2008

I look forward to Friday mornings because I get to read James Randi’s SWIFT column. It always has the latest woowoo news and other idiocies being inflicted on the world.
Today’s had an interesting tidbit, pointing to an article on Wikipedia about the Flat Earth mythology that debunks the common misperception that until modern times, it was a wide spread assumption that the world was flat.
In fact, there’s strong historical evidence that going all the way back to the ancient greeks, there was no such viewpoint (or at least it was very very limited). The misperception arose from the religion vs science debates toward the end of the 19th century, when Darwin’s writings were very much in the public eye.
Well that’s one personal misconception corrected. Enlightenment continues.

Decisions, Decisions.

29 05 2008

So a rare alignment of the planets has happened, and I have a little bit of cash available. Enough to not only pay off some credit card debt (wootah), but also indulge in a little toybuying. Of course, the eternal question comes up, what should I do with it?

Here’s the current list of candidates, in a very rough order of preference. It is possible to get more than one, but I’d like to keep things down to somewhat reasonable.

  • EeePC or similar small-mobile laptop (Approx $350)
    I’ve been hauling Clipper around as my primary ‘mobile’ machine for about 2 years now. It’s large, heavy, runs RIDICULOUSLY hot, and is saddled with WindowsXP. I don’t need to have a Core2 running just to get my email and chat on IRC, or SSH places. An EeePC will do 95% of what I need to do when out and about, at a fraction of the power and weight.
  • A Nokia N95 ($590?)
    Boy o boy is this a sexy phone. I’m tired of my Treo and it’s abysmal 2′ range on Bluetooth. The N95 is a beautiful platform. I’d need to change providers to AT&T though, and that means getting off my wife’s phone plan. Complex and dangerous!
  • Get Rock Band ($170)
    This is pure unadulterated Fun. Zach loves playing it, I have a Playstation 2 to run it on. I wanna beat some drums! (Probably add another $30 or so for a second guitar)
  • Upgrade my desktop machine(Approx $200)
    I’m realizing my desktop machine, yawl is not the powerhouse I had thought it would be. Sure it says Pentium 4 2.26gig, but the P4 CPU is an absolute dog. I can get a motherboard, ram, and CPU from newegg that will outperform this machine for $150-$200. I even have a chassis to put it in.
  • Decent GPS ($300)
    My travails with my Mobile Crossing GPS are well documented, and that machine has now been tossed into the trunk, awaiting some other project. There are several really good GPS platforms around now, and getting one for the my car (Cat has one built into her Prius) is on the list of “really want”s. The TomTom 910 was on the top of my list last time I did this search, as the platform is very good, and it includes blueooth hands-free usage for my phone. A total bonus. Looking around, it looks like the 910 has really come down in price ($300?).
  • A new monitor ($200?)
    You’d think I had enough monitors. But I sacrificed one of my monitors to the Mame cabinet, which leaves me with a really poor 1024×768 monitor as screen #3. I’d like to get another Dell 19″er.
  • Upgrade the Mame cabinet ($100)
    Rebuilding the controller on the Mame cabinet would be a win – I’d like a trackball and some better joysticks. Not really a big expense – it’s more work than cost. But still on the wishlist.
  • Zoom lens for the Canon (Approx $600)
  • Flash for the Canon (Approx $250)

Decisions, decisions…

Ikariam Screws the Pooch

28 05 2008

So, I’ve been having some fun playing Ikariam for the last month or two. It’s a low-key, enjoyable game. I’m part of a large alliance, my cities are growing nicely, I’m not involved in any wars. Spiffy.
Lately I’ve been making a move to expand my settlements from 3 to 4 cities. This requires an ENORMOUS investment in resources and logistics (it’s one of the throttles on the game that limits expansionism). Last night I decided to move my resources to the last city that needs to be expanded before I build my new settlement. This involves loading a lot of ships, sending them off, and making sure there’s space to receive them.
This morning, I look, and all the resources I set to ship between the cities has vanished.
I’ve seen this happen once or twice before. It usually means the location I’m heading to isn’t large enough to accept the shipment or something. But having the results of weeks of manufacturing just vanish has me totally ticked off.
If this is a bug in Ikariam, they need to fix it. If this is normal gameplay, it would be nice to NOTIFY a player when something they’re doing is going to cause a major financial loss.
Right now I’m considering ditching the game and moving on. The tediousness of recreating all that material and re-shipping it is something I’m not too inspired to do, particularly if there’s some chance of it all disappearing silently again.

Oh yeah.

24 05 2008

on the lake

Originally uploaded by eidolon

Now I remember why we come up here.

Today we spent the day doing the ‘second’ phase of prepwork necessary to get the Maine house ready for the summer. Last weekend was plumbing, electrical, and ‘gross’ maintenance. Today was things like leafblowing and mowing the field, other basic house repairs, and the big project of re-installing the docks.

We have a two section floating dock that is stored on shore for the winter. Moving it back onto the lake and into position involves some pulleys, a tow vehicle, 150′ of heavy line, and a lot of muscle. All in all, it went smoothly, but boy is it a lot of work.

Tonight it’s cool, quiet, and done. We had a great grilled dinner with friends from DownLake, and now the house is quiet, aside from the MIL watching the Celtics game (one of the few times the TV is turned on).

We did retrieve our Caravelle powerboat from it’s winter storage, and it’s sitting on the trailer in the field. Tomorrow we’ll launch it and, if it’s warm enough, we’ll get some skiing and tubing in.

It’s good to be back.

The Cellphone Blues.

23 05 2008

Ya’ll are probably tired of me yammering about phones, feel free to ‘n’ or ‘^W’ or whatever you do to skip this posting.
As mentioned previously, I’m getting pretty tired of my Treo. It works okay, though it’s really aging. Physically too large for the features it offers, absolutely dreadful Bluetooth support… it’s really time to move on.
The problem is, the offerings are slim. In my previous posting, Matt commented regarding the Nokia N95. All in all, it looks like a fantastic phone. There’s only a few small problems.
First and foremost, no one has it! It was released in europe, and there is a US version, but none of the carriers are carrying it. You can order it from Nokia, but then you have to go through the joy of getting it one of the US networks, and even then it’ll only be T-Mobile or AT&T. There’s some noise about a ‘north american version’ for lower frequency WCDMA stuff, but I’m really lost about the offerings here.
Second, it’s very expensive. The lowest price I’ve seen is in the $595 range, and the highest I’ve seen is over $800. Now, granted, this things is basically a laptop in phone form. Wifi, GPS, acceleromter, 3d accelerated graphics, media player, SD slot, bluetooth, kick butt CPU, etc. The reviewers are showing people happily networking via bluetooth through it onto the data network (something Verizon actively blocks, for totally unknown reasons).
IF I knew I could order an N95, walk into an AT&T store and activate it, and IF I could get a reasonable data plan on it, so I could use it as my primary wireless ‘gateway’ for my laptop(s), and IF there weren’t any major obstacles I’m not seeing (like, oh, there are no plans that can do SMS + Data + voice for something < $200 a month), I'd be seriously ready to do this. But there's too many unknowns, too many variables.
And. I can't find anyone in the Boston area who HAS one, so I can't even get one in my hands to play with it.

Clinton Digs Herself in Deeper

22 05 2008

In the beginning, I was a fair supporter of Hillary. I thought she had the chops to do the job, and would be professional, honest, and hard working.

But as this race winds down, and for all intents and purposes, it’s over, she’s getting more vicious, more whacked, and just plain Not Making Any Sense.

I give as the latest example, as reported via ABCnews blogger Jake Tapper:

In Florida today, Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., vociferously pushed her argument that the disqualified contests in Michigan and Florida should count, even though the DNC said the contests didn’t count, no candidate campaigned in either state, and Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., along with many other Democratic candidates, was not even on the Michigan ballot.

“I believe the Democratic Party must count these votes. They should count them exactly as they were cast,” she said in Palm Beach County, per ABC News’ Eloise Harper, apparently meaning that she should receive more than 300,000 votes from Michigan and Obama should receive zero.

In Sunrise, Fla., Clinton assailed countries “where votes don’t count. People go through the motions of an election only to have it discarded and disregarded. We’re seeing that right now in Zimbabwe — tragically an election was held, the president lost, they refused to abide by the will of the people. So we can never take for granted our precious right to vote.”

As GC said… “Wait, WHAT?” Not only does this comparison make no sense whatsoever, but as Jake says later in his post, Clinton didn’t make an issue of this until she started losing so badly, AND her own advisor, who is on the DNC rules and regulations committee, voted not to count Michigan and Florida’s votes. Continuing from there, the states themselves broke the rules, as they themselves say, to try and bolster their position in the election process. The DNS’s rules are there for a reason. Break the rules, you don’t get seated. Done and done.

Mrs. Clinton, shut the hell up. You’re doing a disservice to yourself, the democratic party, and the entire election process. How you can possibly think what you’re doing is positive for any American besides yourself (and even then I disagree) I cannot fathom.


21 05 2008

It’s frustrating when you chalk out a specific block of time to Get Stuff Done, and then things just keep cropping up to get in the way.
Today I returned from a trip to Pittsburgh, and had 6-7 hours of work time slated to get stuff done. The random factors have aligned to challenge me the whole way:

  • Do more with Struts
    I’m still trying to learn Struts. It’s a huge challenge, and takes a lot of brainpower. I’m making slow but steady progress, but halfway through the work, I realized my laptop had gone into ‘slow-mo’ mode (it happens when it overheats). And my nice dual core 2.2gig machine was running at 900mghz. Eclipse and JBoss and Windows don’t like that speed. So only half productivity there.

  • Get badges ready for The Cohousing Conference
    I need to get these into the printers to be pre-printed for the event. To do that I need an order form and a proof. The graphics are in, but they won’t generate the proof without my credit card. The one they had on file for me expired. I can’t give it to them over the phone. I can’t email it, I have to FAX it. I don’t OWN a fax machine. I have to print their fugly Word doc (yes, Word, not PDF), write in my information, drive to Mailboxes Etc, and fax it from there. Grr.

  • Another Con needs a Contract
    Another convention that’s coming up in August needs a finalized contract before it can move ahead. This one I got done, the contract is out for review. Phew.

  • There’s a lot of email.
    Mosaic generates more mail than any other group I’ve ever worked with. I’m not even on the busier lists, and i have a dozen or two messages waiting for me to respond to or act upon.

  • Summer Camp for Zach
    The deadline for registration for Zach’s summer camp is this Friday. I have to finish the registration forms (they’re done, they need one 2 week window completed), then drive (yes, drive) them to Worcester and submit them, not to mention PAY for them. Not a check I’m looking forward to writing, but it is what it is.

  • Teeth
    Tomorrow I go in for my 1 week followup after oral surgery last Thursday. I had a tooth removed, as well as an abcess cleaned out. If you think that evokes a strong visual, you’re not far off the mark about what it felt like. I shan’t elaborate. But I have a dozen or so stitches in my gumline that need to be dealt with tomorrow, and have I mentioned how much I dislike antibiotics?

Good thing this weekend’s a vacation.