Archive for August 2007

Bioshock Foolishness

Published on August 25, 2007

There have been some recent reports that Bioshock installs a rootkit onto one’s computer. The 2K Games developers decided to use the SecuROM copy protection scheme, which installs a process with administrative privileges, allowing those users who do not have such privileges to run the game. A registry branch that happens to contain an asterisk also gets created, causing some rootkit detectors to flag the software. The service is apparently difficult to remove (which disappoints me), but it’s questionable as to whether or not this is actually a rootkit. I’m definitely going to keep my eyes open on this issue, especially since I’m so excited about this game. Here’s to hoping that things are as bad as people are making them out to be.

WordPress 2.3 Coming Soon

Published on August 24, 2007

It appears that WordPress 2.3 has been feature frozen, and has now entered the bug hunting and fixing phase. The listing of what’s new seems pretty bare bones, but I guess that is to be expected on a shorter release schedule. One of the big new features coming is tagging, something I’ve neither been impressed with nor interested in. Does anyone here make use of that on any other website? I don’t see too much difference between tags and categories, so why include them? What I really wish they’d get around to adding is an automated updating feature; migrating to a new version is really painful.

Waiting for the Next Best Thing

Published on August 22, 2007

For what seems like an eternity now, I’ve been trying to decide whether to purchase an Apple iPod to replace my Creative Zen Micro (I’ve outgrown the 5 GB of storage). And wouldn’t you know it? Just as I seriously start to move towards purchasing one, my favorite retailer quietly stops stocking them.

A UBS Investment Research analyst recently speculated that Apple might refresh their iPod lineup in the next month or so:

In his note to clients, the UBS analyst also said he expects Apple to refresh its iPod video and iPod nano lines sometime next month. Among the expected introductions are higher capacity iPod nanos at aggressive price points, as well as a flash based widescreen video iPod likely using multi-touch technology for less than $300.

Will all the large iPods go to flash based technology? That would be a surprise to me. The largest flash drives I’ve seen on the market are 16 GB, far short of the 30 GB size of today’s iPods. And what about this price increase? Quoting a price point of less than $300 indicates to me that the new device will cost somewhere between $250 (the current price) and $300 (I’m going to predict $299). It just so happens that $250 is about as much as I’m willing to pay, especially since I still have to buy a separate wall charger (which I still contend is highway robbery). I just wish Amazon would stock the 30 GB players again at $225 ($25 off). If they did, I’d be sold.

A Perl Module Primer

Published on August 18, 2007

I’ve recently been wrangling with some Perl code for a project at work, and have been putting together a Perl module that includes a number of common functions that I need. As such, I had to remind myself how to create a Perl module. During my initial development, I ran into a number of problems, but I eventually worked through all of them. In the hopes of helping myself remember how to do this, and to help any other burgeoning Perl developers, I’ve written the following little guide. Hopefully it will help shed some light on this subject.

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Awaiting Bioshock

Published on August 16, 2007

One of the first reviews of Bioshock has been posted, and it paints a really exciting picture. The verdict? 10 out of 10! I’m a big fan of the System Shock series, and seeing that Bioshock is a ‘spiritual successor,’ really gets me pumped. The screenshots evoke memories of Myst, System Shock 2, and Oblivion, all rolled together. I simply can’t wait!

Tuesday Ten: Television Themes

Published on August 14, 2007

I’m going to try out something new here at the site; how well it does will determine if I continue to keep it up. Every so often (and I’ll only do this on an occasional basis) I’m going to post a list of ten items pertaining to some topic. Consider it a “top ten” list if you will. This is just for fun, and is intended to foster some discussion. The inaugural topic: favorite television theme songs. I got the idea for this specific topic from a recent episode of The Jay and Jack Ramblecast (hat tip: Dustin). Here are my personal top ten, complete with links to each theme:

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An Interesting Take on Online Music Sales

Published on August 12, 2007 recently purchased, a digital music store that uses a unique demand based pricing. There has been some speculation as to what Amazon intends to do with this acquisition, but I’m guessing they will use this idea in their upcoming online music store. A demand based pricing system is interesting: all music starts out free of charge and, as the demand for specific tracks increases, so does the price. There certainly must be a price cap (no one would shell out lots of money for a single music track), but I’m not sure what that might be.

I think this could do very well for Amazon. One of the biggest selling points is that all music will be completely DRM free. Only time will tell how well Amazon can do against the existing juggernauts.

Wednesday Briefs

Published on August 8, 2007

Several short thoughts for today:

The Java Popup you Can’t Stop
A story over at Slashdot discusses a newly discovered means of bypassing popup blockers using Java. There are two proofs of concept available: an applet based version and a JavaScript version. The applet concept works in any browser, while the JavaScript concept works only in Opera and Gecko-based browsers. I couldn’t get the JavaScript version to work for me, but the applet concept works surprisingly well. Pretty scary!
Bridge Collapse Alters Amazon Rankings
I noticed just the other night that the list of bestselling automotive items at yields some surprising results: 4 out of the top 5 selling items are “life hammers” designed to help you break out of your car as you sink into the water. The bridge collapse in Minneapolis is no doubt the cause of this interesting shift in the top selling list.
Michael Vick Dog Chew Toy
This is so great. Payback’s a bitch! Thanks dad!
Barry Bonds is a Big, Dumb, Moron
Title says it all.

Vignette Correction With Photoshop CS2

Published on August 6, 2007

I was touching up some of my photographs recently when I noticed that one shot in particular had substantial vignetting. Wishing to use this photograph as a desktop wallpaper, I set out to try and remove this effect from the photograph. All of the standard Photoshop tools failed to do the trick. Both the clone tool and healing tool produced poor results. Disappointed, I searched the web for help. Thankfully, I found the answer I was looking for: a new filter introduced in Photoshop CS2.

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Five Improvements for Wii Sports

Published on August 3, 2007

Wii Sports is the only game that my family currently owns for use with our Nintendo Wii. As such, it gets a fair amount of play time around our house. Although it’s a fun game, there are a number of areas that Nintendo could have greatly improved upon. Here’s a short list of improvements that I’ve thought up for the game:

  1. Video Replays: When an exciting event takes place in the game, I’d like to be able to save a video snippet of what happened (a “play of the day” if you will). For example, I have hit two holes-in-one in golf over the past several weeks (a pretty exciting event, both times). Having a video replay would allow me to relive that exciting moment, and share it with others.
  2. Larger Golf Course: I really enjoy the golf game, but nine holes is just not enough. Why can’t we have 36 holes, or better yet, 72? I can’t believe the courses take up that much space, and I would guess that they are pretty easy to develop (given the basic building blocks).
  3. Bowling Tournaments: It would be fun to have some sort of bowling ladder available, where you could compete against either another individual or another team (either computer controlled or human). A handicapping system could even be provided, to allow weaker bowlers to challenge the seasoned pros.
  4. Improved User Settings: Every time one switches users during a game, Wii Sports asks you which handedness you prefer (right or left handed). Shouldn’t I only set this once?
  5. Fix the Baseball Bug: When playing against the computer in baseball, the “home” team (the player) starts first (top of the inning), while the computer starts second (bottom of the inning). If the “home” team is ahead at the beginning of the last inning, the game ends via the mercy rule. I’m no baseball expert, but I know that the mercy rule only applies to the bottom of the inning! This should clearly be fixed.

If you own Wii Sports, what do you think? Are there other improvements that could be made?

Firefox Trunk Freeze

Published on August 1, 2007

Last Wednesday was apparently a freeze day for the Gecko 1.9 rendering engine (which will appear in Firefox 3). A laundry list of new features have been added, as can be seen from the most recent nightly build report. Full page zoom is one of the biggest new features coming, though it has not yet been enabled via the GUI (you have to download a separate test extension to play around with it).

One particularly nasty regression (bug 390451) lurks in the nightly builds, so I’m not planning on switching my base install to this alpha. But it looks like it won’t be much longer before we can enjoy some new Firefox features.

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