Wednesday, November 29, 2006

More M$ Watch

Looks like Microsoft is (surprise) trying to 'Mac' their OS up even more! From here:

And instead of remembering within which folder a particular document, image, or media files was saved, something called Windows Vista Instant Search will point to the correct document or program [right...]. And, unlike many desktop search applets from Google and others, Windows Vista indexes your hard drive without much of a performance hit […if you're running a Cray Supercomputer].
While they're Mac'n it up, maybe they could include these features which keep escaping their grasp:
  • I recall the Mac having a pretty good interface for presenting what services and programs are loading when the system starts. It sure would be nice if an M$ computer could tell us this info straight up without having to rely on crappy interfaces and half written third party utilities (re:Hi-Jack this). (I'll even go so far as to say that even Linux has better interfaces than Windows for this purpose)
  • The last time I used one, a Mac's file browser would compile the folder sizes on the fly while you were browsing files. Windoze shows file sizes, but if you want an inline browser to show you the folder sizes you'll have to rely on a third party utility (re: TreeSize Pro)
  • When I last serviced a Mac I had an OS problem and I reinstalled the OS as, what it would be to a Windows tech, a last ditch effort to salvage the system. I was amazed beyond belief when it actually fixed the issue! Despite repeated efforts in the past to reinstall Windows in order to clear up an issue, I'm hard pressed to recall any instances where that happened, although I'd like to think it worked at least once since I keep trying it. Doesn't matter too much though since reinstalling Windows usually causes whole new problems without solving the original issue, ARG!
Now mind you, these three points are from when I supported Macs eight years ago. That's what cheeses me off about Microsoft, I'm really given to defend them, but it doesn't help when they release a new OS, and despite all the pain and extreme expense, it's (optimistically) just a four year old knock-off of Apple's OS.

(I know I’ve complained about these same things before, but I figure some year I’ll get to praise MS for finally clearing them up)

Monday, November 27, 2006

CS Spray

Within the game CounterStrike you can create what's called a custom spray, which is basically a (very) small bitmap that is 'sprayed' within the game at your behest while you are playing (typically via the 't' key). I'm not sure of the specs of the sprays for the newer versions of the game, but old CS 1.6 has a variety of restrictions resulting from the fact that it's basically a klugey hack for a regular in game function.

Anyhow, during previous periods of boredom, I cranked out the following sprays that I use while I am playing:

This is a spray I made of one of my chums with a stove pipe hat on. It was more or less yet another effort in my continuing quest to goad him into using his incredibly superior artistic skills for evil instead of good (in this case, revenge). He didn't bite and I am more than willing to attribute this to his incredible professionalism, though a voice in the back of my head tells me that he may not have responded because he may be the only person on the planet with an attention span shorter than my own.

Please note, the image above (as well as the others) are at the limit as far as size, although the other images appear larger, it's just because they've been spread out. The blue background is a transparency layer and does not appear in the game.

A different friend is a fan of the HK firearm company and I made this spray up for him. The lack of a transparency layer made this image a little easier, though the edging had to be tweaked since it was 'dumbed up' from a smaller GIF file.

This one was a bear since it needed every color available on the 244 color palet to come out looking this good. It's still a bit shabby and further proof that photos don't do well as sprays.

Showing the true limits placed on these files, I could not muscle those letters any clearer no matter how hard I tried. Although it looks easy from the picture, there's actually only about three clear pixels inside the 'G's (if you can tell where they are) and it was a choice between looking like a 'C' or looking like a '6'

This image has very few colors and a cartoonish appearance so this was an easy, good looking spray. It's my fav.

My first spray. It was a lot of work given the result.

I've packed all of these and one more into this file, enjoy!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Another J-Candy Update

I think I may have made mention of the above candy before, but my brief, nonexistent search of my blog didn't turn up any references. This is one of my all time favorites: a green tea flavored soft taffy type candy covered in powdered green tea. It has a unique harshness that only green tea aficionados like me can enjoy.

Disappointingly, these taste nothing like real colons (i.e. cheap sausage). Even more disappointingly, they taste completely like sugar wafers. Despite being 'green tea' flavor, they're much like their sugar wafer American equivalents where the different flavors are just color swapped versions of the other flavors.*

A hard candy sold as being plum flavored. Tastes like a stale, unflavored Jolly Rancher. Not bad, but quite forgettable.

*That reminds me of a couple years ago when my son was trying to sell Fruit Loops to me as having some fruit based nutritional value. I challenged him to eat them with his eyes closed and tell me which fruit he happened to be eating; an impossible task given that "sweetened cardboard" and "sugary styrofoam" haven't been designated as fruits yet.


If your Windoze system is too stable for your liking and you miss the crashin' days of yore, you can download and run the Blue Screen of Death screensaver. Unlike previous versions of this same idea, it uses actual system data and a fake reboot to simulate a BSOD. As well this is written by Microsoft, thus increasing your chances of experiencing the genuine article!

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Iraq Attaq!

Paul over at Powerline comments:

To analyze this question [of a new approach to Iraq], we need to identify the reasons we have remained in Iraq for the past few years. I can think of five: (1) to avoid a humiliating Mogadishu-style defeat that will embolden our enemies, (2) to prevent parts of Iraq from becoming a base for anti-American terrorists, as Afghanistan was under the Taliban, (3) to prevent Iran from becoming the dominant player in portions of Iraq, (4) to prevent Iraqis from killing each other in sectarian strife, and (5) to promote a democratic Iraq. To me, the first two objectives are vital to our national security, and the third probably is very important to it. The fourth and fifth are extremely worthwhile objectives, but are not of high importance to our national security.
An interesting puzzle that Iraq. I had long thought that any workable government would have to be along the lines of a 'Super Singapore' style of government. This would be characterized by a command and control system that tracked everyone all the time. Civil punishments would exist for the slightest of offenses while the worst offenses would be met with (at the very least) near medieval levels of punishment. But alas...

I'll be blunt and say that Bush has missed very few opportunities to screw this up and I've long been disappointed that the Democrats even to this day do little more than bitch and moan (at best) or (at worst) actively impede our ability to do anything over there. All of this adds to the accurate perception that they would find a way to do an even worse job than what Bush has done.

What doesn't help is that both sides have a weird view of our place in this conflict. On the left many are anxious to depict any withdrawal of any kind as a defeat. This is, of course, unreasonable as we would have to leave sometime. I remember many years ago when the Filipinos threatened to kick us out of Clark Air Base where we had been for several decades, many lefties hopped on it as an opportunity to stress a loss of face to the U.S. It turned out that so valuable was this base to us that we wound up walking away from it after the eruption of Mount Pinatubo.

On the other side are some overly optimistic people that claim we will still suffer defeat unless the place looks like New Hampshire before we leave. There was consensus, I believe, to go in to Iraq to take care what was an active threat that was growing worse; can anybody argue that the threat has not been dealt with? As an added bonus, we stayed until the al-Qaeda favoring Sunnis are on the ropes and will be too busy defending themselves for the foreseeable future to pose any threat to us. In fact, #3 from the citation above works out to be to our advantage, though everyone is too civilized to admit this out loud; but the problem is that since no one will admit that publicly it can’t actively be cited as condition of victory, even though it is! ARG!

That's what kills me. To me, we've won, and won big. If the Iraqis don't want their country to be a mess, that's their issue; it's their failure, not ours and I've every reason to believe that the Arabs in the region view it as such. I think given enough time, money and way, way more pressure we could bring most Iraqis around to behave better; but that's a fight for another day which will probably never come, and doesn't have to ever come.

In a very timely fashion my mom has sent me this article which touches upon the same idea:
On the other hand, I'd be happy to see our soldiers walk out of Baghdad, not with their tails between their legs but with their middle fingers in the air.
As well John Derbyshire reflects on our future Middle East policies. Oh, and he has this separate bit:
Armchair warriors like myself are sometimes accused of laboring under the illusion that all the world’s problems can be solved by neat “surgical strikes” on troublesome locations, in which suspect facilities, or persons, are cleanly eliminated with minimal collateral damage.

Not guilty! I am, in fact, willing to confess myself a collateral-damage armchair warrior, who would be happy to see us trade in our inventory of smart laser-guided precision munitions for lots and lots and lots of old-style iron bombs, and fleets of great big iron planes to deliver them. Remember those photographs of mid-1945 Berlin, fragments of broken wall sticking up out of vast drifts and dunes of pulverized masonry? Now that’s rubble.
Ralph Peters echos the same points.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Election Fun

A line from the front of the WSJ: "Threat of gridlock looms"

We should be so lucky...

Monday, November 06, 2006

That's Some Luck

I was scanning around and noticed that trance DJ genius Paul Van Dyk is going to be 'playing' at a club in Cleveland! I figured all that stood between me and checking out the show was convincing some additional someone to shell out $30 to go to the show with me; but it's on friggin' Thanksgiving! What the heck is up with that? The Sandmich will be much too bloated with white wine and turkey to even think about not watching football, let alone feign being strung out. That and the club OPENS at 9 PM, which about an hour before I go to bed. Still....

Ugh, I guess I'm too old for stuff like this, but give tracks 101 and 201 on this page a listen and tell me you wouldn't want another scoop!

Walk the Plank - Ohio Style

I now think the Ohio GOP missed a golden opportunity in not impeaching Governor Taft. They should have realized their mistake when the clever Dems said that there was no way THEY were going to move to impeach such a valuable target. Seems at least one side learned the right lesson from the Clinton impeachment!

So now it looks like economically depressed Ohio is about to get even more of the same ill advised policies that the people are complaining about, but I know: we get the leaders we deserve. Just check out this slate of elected leaders of Cuyahoga County, one of the poorest regions of the country, and see what these winners have in common:

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Game Dev Notes

I think I'm finally done with Final Fantasy X, just in time for the release of the new one. And no it’s not that I beat it, I did that months ago. I unlocked and defeated the last monster in the monster arena. At some point I was told that the prize for doing so would let you continue on in some form should your characters die in the game. Although it didn't work, the joke is that by the time you get to that point you're pretty well immortal anyway.

I have to admit though, I did use the infinite money cheat when playing. Although I figured it'd save on time (which it did), in hindsight it was more worthwhile to use in order to avoid one of the most painful aspects of Final Fantasy games: inventory management. This basically consists of constantly massaging a long list of items that you're carrying in order to decide which ones to sell/keep/through away, etc (items in inventory being a stored form of cash that must be converted). How un-fun is this part? As a note to game developers, should the gamer playing your game at any point think "I wish I could do this in Excel", your game has failed on a very fundamental level; because it's no longer a game, but a business productivity package with a crappy interface.

I'm rather disheartened to hear that the new version has even more inventory management; so I'll probably wait for a cash cheat for that as well.