iPhone Games – Tiny Wings and Bejeweled Blitz

22 04 2011

It’s no secret that today the iPhone is considered one of the top gaming platforms out there. Certainly overshadowing standard console games in sheer numbers of games, and, without any hard evidence to support it, I’d hazard a guess it has the most games of any platform short of PC’s.
Having those tens of thousands of titles to choose from, how do you pick out the ones worthwhile? Well, I’m here to continue my ongoing series on iPhone games, with two more recommendations.

Read the rest of this entry »





My Chumbys and Me

18 04 2011

It’s no secret I’m a big fan of Woot and the excitement that can accompany a Woot-Off, that festival of consumerism and feeding frenzy for those susceptible to impulse buys.
A few frenzies ago included offering up a Chumby One for the attractive price of $49.
Chumby one!
I bought two.
I’d been trying to figure out various ways gaining ‘shelf-top’ access to online music resources. Back in the day, I’d picked up a Roku Soundbridge or two, but I’ve never been completely satisfied with the results. Even modern versions of these devices are in my opinion too expensive and too limited. They play music, that’s it. Even though Roku has moved on, other manufacturers are offering similar devices for $250.
Screw that.
The Chumby One is a small 450mghz Linux computer with Wifi, 64meg of RAM, and a 3.5″ color screen. It has everything I was looking for in a ‘bedside’ or ‘shelfside’ device. It can play music, it has a touchscreen that can show a wide variety of content, and it’s controllable from a centralized server. It has line-level audio out via a headphone connector, as well as internal speakers. The design allows for easy ‘bedside’ use, along with unattended modes.
The final button for me was the inclusion of a powered USB port on the back. This means I now had an easy charging station nearby for my iPhone, without taking up another power outlet and the accompanying cable mess.
I love the variety of apps, both the whimsical (David Letterman’s Top 10) and the useful (A constantly updated weather / traffic / time / date page that shows ‘local status’ in real time) – all while happily playing Radioparadise for me.
And. Heck. They’re cute.





The Blog is Resurrected… for now.

9 03 2011

Well that was no fun.
For a while, I was in a funk because the Planet-Geek.com site was not posting ANY of my articles. And when I logged into the maintenance pages, I couldn’t see any of my articles for the last year.
Now, the site has something like 1600 articles on it. I was pretty cranky at the possibility of losing all my content. But the database itself seemed okay, and I could see entries in it. Just new content was not showing up.
Tonight I decided to sit down and figure out WTF was wrong with it.. It took about half an hour to determine the root of the problem…
I was logging into the wrong site.
We migrated the blogs off msb to msb2 a year or so ago, but I never a) removed the old bookmark in my shortcuts, and b) never updated the maintenance page to point to the correct toolset.
So I was editing the old site.
Boy do I feel like a dork.





Performance Tuning with Trac

14 02 2011

I’ve been using Trac for managing all the bugs enhancements in CONGO for the last 3 years or so. For the most part, it’s been pretty useful, though I haven’t been thrilled with some performance problems I was having.
Most notably, a simple page load would take 4-5 seconds to come back.
I thought the initial problem was due to the older (v0.11) version I was running. But after a painful SVN crash and rebuild, and taking that opportunity to upgrade to 0.12 and move to a faster host, the performance problems were still there.
When reading Trac performance blogs, the first thing everyone says is “For gods sake, make sure you’re running mod_python!!!” Well, I was. So that wasn’t it.
I found the answer in an older blog post that mentioned the Chrome elements in Trac were rendered on the fly via Python. This didn’t make sense, as they were primarily static elements.
So why not cache them?
A quick tweak to the vhost configuration:

<LocationMatch /[^/]+/chrome>
Order allow,deny
Allow from all
ExpiresDefault "now plus 12 hours"
</LocationMatch>

(which, by the way, necessitated adding mod_expires in apache), and a restart, and my load times went from 6.6 seconds:

172.16.1.1 – – [13/Feb/2011:22:58:13 -0500] “GET
/chrome/site/stonekeep-ball-logo.gif HTTP/1.1” 200 6660
http://trac.stonekeep.com/&#8221; “Opera/9.80 (Windows NT 5.1; U; en) Presto/2.7.62
Version/11.01”

down to zilch due to caching:

172.16.1.1 – – [14/Feb/2011:08:15:51 -0500] “GET
/chrome/site/stonekeep-ball-logo.gif HTTP/1.1” 304 –
http://trac.stonekeep.com/wiki/WikiStart&#8221; “Mozilla/5.0 (Macintosh; U; Intel Mac OS X
10_6_6; en-us) AppleWebKit/533.19.4 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/5.0.3 Safari/533.19.4”

Win!!!





The Ten Commandments from IT / Sysadmins…

24 11 2010

Thou shalt not release software to production on the eve of a weekend or a holiday.
Thou shalt not use corporate email servers to distribute full page pictures of your kitten, or your child, or your horse, or your hamster.
Thou shalt not browse porn from your work computer or laptop. Ever.
Thou shalt use corporate / IT mandated applications for corporate related work, regardless of whether you think RandomFinancialTool is better.
Thou shalt choose Microsoft products ONLY when all alternatives have been thoroughly reviewed and considered objectively, and using the criteria of “But it’s not compatible with Microsoft products” is usually a red herring.
Thou shalt not rely exclusively on the ‘genius’ or ‘vast experience’ of a single person within the company or organization. They might be wrong. How would you know?
Thou shalt consider a laptop expendable and subject to imminent destruction.
Thou shalt understand that IT and sysadmin staff are employed to HELP the users do their job. We may know what we’re talking about.
Thou shalt not page a sysadmin at 2am because you’ve forgotten your password. Next time be more careful.
And last but not least…..
Thou shalt respect us. We’re people too.





How to make sudo use your login name

22 11 2010

This is being tossed out there as a handy reference to sysadmins around the world.
Sudo is a magnificient tool for Unix / Linux based systems that allows a single command to be executed as the root / privileged user. The advantage is that the command is logged to the syslog, and access to sudo-managed tools can be tightly controlled via /etc/sudoers.
One problem that comes up a lot is that logged activities on a host will show up as ‘root’ when sudo is used to invoke them, when what you really want is to know who initiated the command.
The sudoers file can include an option that tells sudo to not reset the users login name when escalating priveleges. The option is:

Defaults        !set_logname 

Putting this option in sudoers will make it so RCS checkins and other tasks will log as the user who invoked the sudo, not root.





Sailing on the Pestilence – back to basics in ‘Hold Fast’

8 11 2010

This is a brilliant video about 4 folks who decided to cut loose, renovate an old boat, and just plain Leave.

Hold Fast from Moxie Marlinspike on Vimeo.

Be sure to check out discussion on Boingboing (including some answers from the folks on the boat).