Archive for September 2005

Spam Karma 2.0

Published on September 30, 2005

I have recently been bombarded with trackback spam here at my blog. After searching around the web, I decided to try out Spam Karma 2.0, a neat little plugin for WordPress. I have only used it for a very short time, but it’s already filtered out the spam I was seeing! If you are having problems with spam on your WordPress blog, I highly recommend this plugin.

As a bonus, all first-time comments will be viewable immediately (they no longer go to moderation).

Domicile for the Destitute

Published on September 29, 2005

Moving day was rather eventful yesterday. My folks ran into a problem which almost caused the deal on our old house to fall through (which would have been a very bad thing), but it all got worked out and we’re now moved in. And so now the fun begins. There are a lot of repairs that need to be done to the house:

  1. The hot water heater is broken (I took a cold shower this morning).
  2. Both air conditioners are broken, so it’s rather hot on the second floor.
  3. All of the smoke alarms around the house are ‘peeping’ (the backup batteries in them are dead).
  4. Our cable hookup has been pushed out until Saturday.
  5. There are apparently some mice in the house (our cat should have some fun with this).
  6. Some wood around the dormer windows is rotting.
  7. The previous owners left a broken refrigerator and freezer for us to cart off to the dump (gee, thanks).

I fixed the smoke alarm problem last night (at least the ones upstairs), so that’s one job done. And several of the more important jobs are being taken care of today. It will take some real engineering to get a CAT-5 cable up to my room on the second floor, so that I can hook up my computer to our network. And we’ll need to run the incoming coax cable over to our library, where we plan to put our NAT box and cable modem.

Anyways, things are starting to get back to normal. I plan to hook up my computer and begin unpacking my stuff tonight. One of these days, I might even get some pictures up somewhere. Googlebar Lite 3.0 development work should begin again soon – it will be out no later than the weekend of October 8-9.

Things Fall Apart

Published on September 27, 2005

What a morning! After a late night of packing, I wake up late, have breakfast, and finish some last minute packing chores. Then I pack up a suitcase with the stuff I’ll need over the next day or two (or three) and put everything that’s not to be put in the moving trucks on my bed. In doing so, I notice several items which have been lurking in the corner of my room for several days. I have no boxes to put them in (in fact, several items wouldn’t have fit in a box anyway), so I go out to put them in the trunk of my car. As I slam the trunk shut, I realize a horrible truth: my keys are there in the trunk, along with everything else. And naturally, all of my car doors are locked.

With my dad’s help, we locate the key box (which was packed away in the attic), but no spare key is to be found. My dad had made use of the spare a while back, so he was the last one to be seen with it. After placing a call with a local locksmith, my mom finally finds the spare: in a box of my dad’s belongings. I cancel the locksmith, finish packing, and head out to work. On the way, an hour and a half late mind you, my car’s check-engine light comes on.

I have no idea what the problem is, and I have no time to take it to the shop. Tomorrow I take a half-day of vacation to carry my cat over to the new house (which should be painful), and to meet the cable guy. And all of this rests on the hopes that one of the realtor’s agents will meet me at the house with a key to get in.

I’ll be so glad when all of this is over…

So Sick of Cardboard Boxes

Published on September 25, 2005

With the movers coming Tuesday afternoon, anything and everything in sight is being placed in a box. Most of our stuff gets packed Tuesday, and the rest gets packed Wednesday morning. Later that same day, we close on our current house and on the new one. Then everything gets moved in to the new house after that. I’m definitely looking forward to the end of all that.

I still have a decent amount of stuff to pack in my room, although I have made excellent progress. I would estimate that I’m nearly 85% done. But with tomorrow evening being the only time I have to finish everything, I’m beginning to panic a little bit. I know I’ll get it done – it just seems so overwhelming now. There’s no telling how many boxes I’ve already packed. 15? 20? 25? It’s a lot, I know that. And so much of it is junk!

This is my last post from this house (my computer gets packed up tomorrow night when I get home from work). And please note that I will be “off the air” for several days. With any luck, I can continue to make blog posts from work. But don’t expect any progress on the Born Geek front: updates there will most likely resume in a week (or two).

Serious Sam 2 Demo

Published on September 24, 2005

The demo for Serious Sam 2 is out, and I finally got a chance to play it last night. For whatever it’s worth, here are my impressions:

The Good

  • Cool, cartoon-style environments. I’ve seen a lot of discussion on this point, and virtually everyone thinks the art direction is poorly done. Considering that virtually every computer game today is striving for ultra-realism, I think this is a breath of fresh air. It’s something original. What a concept!
  • Loads of weapons. The demo showcases a number of really neat weapons, including the parrot bomb (of which you only get one round – so make it count).
  • Fast paced action. Just like the Serious Sam days of old.

The Bad

  • Can you say "Console Port"? It is blatantly obvious that Serious Sam 2 is being developed for consoles. The user interface with the game menus is horrible, especially when it comes to changing key bindings. If there’s anything I hate, it’s a poorly done "port".
  • The demo is way too short. I certainly hope the other game levels aren’t this anemic.
  • Cut scenes are really shoddy in quality. Couldn’t they have just used the game engine for these cut scenes, instead of this low-resolution pre-rendered crap?
  • Sam did virtually no wise-cracking through the entire demo! What have you done with the Sam I once knew?!?

The full game will be released in a few weeks (October 10 is one date I’ve seen), and I do plan on picking it up. Will it be worth the $30 asking price? I certainly hope so. Perhaps the rough points will have been smoothed down in the final product. Let’s just hope they don’t mess with the core Serious Sam formula. That would be a crime against nature.

Packing Stuff Up

Published on September 21, 2005

My family and I move one week from today, so we’re beginning to kick our packing efforts into high gear. Until one packs up all of his belongings, one doesn’t realize how much junk has accumulated through the years. I’ve packed up a total of five fairly large boxes so far, and their contents consist of only my books and computer game boxes. A tiny ripple in a very large pond.

Fortunately, I’m moving up in room size. I outgrew my current room a number of years ago, so it’s well past time to have something larger. My new room provides substantially more real estate (having two closets will help tremendously), so I won’t be nearly as cramped as I am currently. As soon as I have a sizable down payment stored away in the bank, I’ll get a place of my own (and then I’ll really be moving up)!

Unfortunately, all of this activity is hurting my Googlebar Lite 3.0 efforts. We are unlikely to have internet connectivity for a few days at the new house, so that won’t help matters (although I can still work behind the scenes). So, don’t be surprised if version 3.0 shows up later than expected.

Opera Now Free

Published on September 20, 2005

According to the story over at Slashdot, it appears that the Opera web browser is now available for free. This should be an interesting thing to watch over the coming weeks. Will large numbers of Firefox users switch to Opera? I know that I certainly won’t, but a number of Slashdot comments already indicate that at least some portion of the Firefox community is (and will be) making the switch. I don’t see anything in Opera that immediately jumps out and says, “You should try me now!” Is there something I’m missing? Or is Firefox still the best little browser in the world?

Safekeeping Your Bookmarks

Published on September 18, 2005

Here’s a small but handy Firefox tip for “safekeeping” your bookmarks. It also lets you share your bookmarks across multiple profiles!

  1. Navigate to your Firefox profile directory. On Windows, this is usually located somewhere similar to the following: C:\Documents and Settings\<username>\Application Data\Mozilla\Firefox\Profiles\
  2. Copy your bookmarks.html file and paste it in a safe location elsewhere on your hard drive.
  3. Back in your profile directory, create a text file called user.js (if one does not already exist). Open the file for editing in your favorite text editor (avoid word processors like Microsoft Word).
  4. Add the following line of text to this file, changing the path to the appropriate location (wherever you copied your bookmarks to earlier): user_pref("browser.bookmarks.file", “C:\Path to Bookmarks File\bookmarks.html”);
  5. Save the file and restart your browser!

You can use this trick in multiple profiles, allowing them to all point to the same bookmarks file. Additionally, it helps to safeguard against possibly losing your bookmarks if your profile becomes corrupt.

A Real Classy Guy

Published on September 17, 2005

Scott Berkun used to work for Microsoft on the Internet Explorer web browser. So if there is anyone around who can appreciate the machinery behind the web browsing experience, it’s him. Scott recently switched to using Firefox as his primary web browser (his article explains why he made the change). But more interestingly, he provides several things he sees wrong with Firefox. Several of his points are right on target (there is some broken-ness in the Firefox world), and several of his points are a little off the mark (a few of his problems can be solved with extensions).

But Scott has class. He recently posted a followup article, clarifying a number of questions raised by the first one. In it, he admits that after he heard from a number of Firefox users, he saw that some of his views warranted another look. And he also (correctly) points out that there is still inherit broken-ness in the browsing world as a whole. Thanks for an insightful post, Scott. And here’s to your switch to Firefox: you won’t regret it.

A Valiant Auction

Published on September 15, 2005

I just won 10 more Prince Valiant books at eBay, bringing my library to a total of 27 titles out of the available 50 (the auction I won was actually for 14 books, but I already have four of them). The price per book in this auction was fairly reasonable: only $11.75 each! I’ve found that buying the books in bulk is the only way to get them at a reasonable price.

Unfortunately, this lot of books was listed in “fair” condition and the picture provided didn’t fully show their actual state (at least the spines look to be in decent shape). I guess I’ll see what condition they are in when I get them. The beautiful thing about eBay is that I can always turn around and sell them to someone else if I don’t like them.

Interestingly enough, I’m still awaiting my order of volume #2 from Amazon. They apparently don’t have any, so they have delayed my order for some time (up to November if I recall correctly). But I’m willing to wait – the early volumes are hard to get, especially at the low price of just over $11.00!

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Stuff Worth Reading

Published on September 12, 2005

I have recently come across two computing articles that I highly recommend:

Code Craft: Freedom Languages
Author Kevin Barnes discusses the differences between the “safety” programming languages (C++, Java, etc.) and the “freedom” languages (Perl, Python, etc.). His points are well organized, his argument well written, and the article highly insightful.

The Six Dumbest Ideas in Computer Security
Recently featured on Slashdot, this article points out exactly what’s wrong in computer security. Allow the following quote to provide a taste of this excellent work:

“…if the conventional wisdom was working, the rate of systems being compromised would be going down, wouldn’t it?”

Not Quite Ready

Published on September 11, 2005

A day or two ago, I replaced my primary Firefox install with the 1.5 Beta release. This afternoon, I went back to 1.0.6. As excited as I am about the upcoming 1.5 release, this beta simply has too many problems to switch to it full time. Too many errors crop up in the JavaScript console, too many extensions and themes do not yet work with it, and its overall stability is questionable (the beta crashed on me minutes after installing it for the first time). I think I might go back to running the nightly branch builds on my “nightly” profile. Had I been thinking clearly at the time, I would have used this profile with the beta install. Unfortunately, I contaminated my normal profile instead. So now I’m having to build a new one. *sigh*

Such is the price of progress.

Firefox 1.5 Beta 1

Published on September 9, 2005

Asa Dotzler reported yesterday that Firefox 1.5 Beta 1 is now available to download. Apparently, the beta has revved the maxVersion for extensions to 1.4. As such, I will no doubt need to check that Googlebar Lite still works and get a new version out the door (with updated version support).

This is an exciting time for Firefox users! The Beta release of 1.5 includes a host of new features and thousands of bug fixes, making the best browser in the world even better. Improved accessibility will also help those who make use of screen-readers, making their lives much easier.

Fall Cleaning

Published on September 7, 2005

Seeing as it has been a long time since I last made a backup of stuff on my computer system (the last one I did was on April 17th), I decided that it was well past time to make another. In the process of doing so, I had the opportunity to do a little “fall cleaning” on my computer. I have since learned that my computer is surprisingly unorganized.

A number of redundant files were lying around (mostly stuff that can be recreated from other files that I have). So this was the first batch of stuff to be discarded. I also had a ton of really old stuff, some of it dating back to my early “JGB Productions” days. I zipped up all of said old stuff (so it wouldn’t lie fallow anymore), and then placed it in a safe place: just in case. There were a number of instances where files just needed to be zipped up: one folder of server logs was well over 110 MB and, after compression, was a mere 4 MB.

I believe I removed between 1000 and 1500 files in the process. Unfortunately, I didn’t calculate the entire disk savings, but it must be upwards of 1 GB or more (a number of duplicate MP3’s were also tossed out). All in all, the experience was a good one for me. Not only have I backed up vital data, I’ve tidied up my virtual home. It sure feels good to get clean!

Far Cry

Published on September 3, 2005

I have just finished playing through Far Cry again (for the fifth or sixth time), and I thoroughly enjoyed the game all over again. Running with all of the extra eye candy made this time around particularly special (although my old Radeon 9700 Pro did a decent job). I had forgotten how difficult the game can be. The final two levels are insanely hard, and the ending (sadly) isn’t worth all the trouble. But the game’s atmosphere makes it all worthwhile. This was the first modern shooter that really floored me with its presentation, and I still consider it to be one of the best action games available today (only Half-Life 2 eclipses it in my book). Loads of fun!

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