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The drug smugglers are using catapaults to throw bales of weed over the US border.

No, I'm not making a joke...

http://news.yahoo.com/mexico-soldiers-seize-catapults-used-fling-pot-215555395.html

You know, it was hard enough preventing siege engines from being hidden when they were in forests and woods of jolly old England. But in the middle of desert country with nothing but a scrawny jack rabbit as cover? How can it be that nobody saw this contraption? And it's not like it can fire a bale 20 miles like a 16" gun can. Range is maxxed at about 400 yards or so.

Apparently we need to get the society of Creative Anachronism and imbed them in both the US border patrol and the mexican federales. I'll bet a few of them can be inventive enough with the Zetas to make the Zeta's hanging headless bodies from bridges seem tame by comparison. Just like back in WW2 when all the Japanese saw were the pretty boys on the west coast, and they figured they could whip us. What nobody sees is the crazy people in the bayous that we have to keep in chains, or they'll rape all the alligators. Give them good old boys some archaic weapons as well as full auto stuff and put them on the border, and say that Zeta's taste like squirrel -- problem solved :)

NYMWARS

Nov. 1st, 2011 08:49 am
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I have deleted my google plus profile. If you were following me there, I've just poofed.

Google sold it as a new Social Media setup. And the circles idea was really really good. And I had hoped that Google would actually do things right for once instead of falling flat on its billion dollar face, as they did with Buzz. And as they did with Lively. And Wave. Lather rinse repeat.

But it is NOT a social media center to compete with Facebook. That is not Google's aim at all. Google wants to become the world's only database for... reputation. They want to be able to sell people the knowledge that if a person says they are X, that they are X. They want to be able to tell advertisers that you make Y amount of money, own a home in Z, and are looking for a new BMW, just like Facebook does. But unlike facebook, they will allow any swinging dick anywhere in the country to verify you are who you say you are, just by checking with them (and presumably paying a small fee).

Now what the f*** does this have to do with Social interaction? I don't need Google to verify a person's identity -- I already know who is who. I don't need google removing everyone's fandom name -- 80% of you I ONLY KNOW via your nethandles and fandom pseudonyms. So by throwing all my friends out and making it not a social network, what possible use do I have for the thing?

They said they would start allowing some screen names, so I stuck around. But they just canned a friend for having "a silly name" one time too many, especially after stating they would stop doing it. If my admission to the cool club of Google Plus depends on some teenager in California snickering at the name or not, then fuck them and fuck Google. I don't have any objection giving my RL name to Google to create the account. But there's no way they can prove I'm telling the truth to begin with. So what's the harm in allowing us to have different nicknames for the different circles?

Google, you have now done something I thought only one company in the world could accomplish -- you've pulled a Linden. I would say congrats, but it's truly not something to be proud of. And it's very difficult to recapture the old excitement and good will of the folks after they are gone. Once gone, they are gone, and they'll be very descriptive to everyone else on the web about how quickly you went from internet darling to Darth Vader so everyone they know can stay as far away from you as possible.

Linden -- (verb); netglish. From the Internet group called second life. To take an unbeatable winner of a product and manage it so badly that it fails.
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The wolf isn't online at the moment. My cable modem is out, so the tech won't be around to fix it till Saturday. If he's unable to fix it on Sat then I won't be able to be in the D&D game (just say I'm stuck in the hole going into the sewer or something). I also won't be able to run movie night in SL on Sunday. So I'm crossing my fingers that I'll be able to get online Sat morning.

I have been running a serious sleep deficit. The universe is hell bent on preventing me from getting a nap to make up for it too. The whole week, it has been one thing or another. Wednesday almost took the cake when the wife woke me up to tell me what was on TV. So Thursday, after everything in the house was settled, I made absolutely clear to the wife and kids that I wasn't to be bothered for an hour. Not for TV. Not for news. Nothing but a fire in the house -- everything else could wait a little bit. So I laid down for a nap.

20min later, my mother calls on the cell phone.

I therefore have decided that the world doesn't want me to sleep for some reason. And it's making me very grouchy.

After I was woke up and unable to help them (sorry, my internet is down... yes, really) I went into the living room and said I was finally going to watch the bluray of Star Wars I got. Aaaaand not even that worked -- there are glitchs in the video over and over again. Disc is fine. I suspect I have to do some sort of software update to the BluRay player to handle whatever new algorithm is on the disc. Hey Lucas -- what was wrong with the old encoding? Or are you purposefully trying to piss off your fans?

Oh, and on the question "Did Han Shoot First", on the bluray, Han and Greedo fire simultaneously now, and a large smokecloud appears to obscure the details. I still preferred the original, but it's better than Han's magically rubber neck getting his head out of the way.
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Let's say you are getting calls from political groups and "charity" organizations. The do-not-call list is pointless. And no amount of complaining or effort to get off their call list works.

But let's say I could start blocking calls by dialing *99 while the call is still underway. And that puts my number on a list in the phone company of numbers to refuse to connect. Then they can call and call and call -- I won't ever hear the phone ring. This would allow me, the person paying for the phone line, to not only put my number on the business do not call list, but to eject those "charities" and political groups who just can't seem to grasp what "Go die in a Fire and get off my phone!" means.

A simple 256 entry database for every customer is all you need. If you block more, the oldest numbers are lost. The phone company simply looks at that database and compares the number trying to reach you with all the entries. If that number is found on the list, the call doesn't complete. Simple, and a feature that if added to landlines would make landlines more attractive again.
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I have long been in the market for an older model of HP calculator. Specifically, an HP11. I don't need the matrix capabilities of an HP15 -- I have the HP50 at work and the HP48SX at home for serious stuff like that. But those two calculators, for all their capabilities, suffer from one very serious problem...

I can't put them in my pocket and carry them everywhere I go.

Yes, I need a quicktograb scientific calculator, because inevitably when I need to do some quick checks of the math on something, I never have a calculator handy. So I need a cheapo that sits in my pocket, like I had in the early 80s (I was one of the few troops who got in trouble for being in AFR35-10 and not having a calculator in my shirt pocket).

Trouble is, an HP11 from that era is considered a collectors item today, and fetchs pricetags far above the 90$ a brand new one cost in 1982. And while there are a few other pocket HP calculators like various generations of HP32, they also fetch premium dollar figures. And no, a cheap TI is not a solution...

But then, the solution fell into my lap. Someone else at work was using a scientific calculator on their smartphone. And I looked, and found an HP11C emulator for only 99c. Tada, not only do I now have a "pocket" calculator, but it doesn't sit in my pocket and it really does go everywhere my phone and I go.

Amazing world we live in :)
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I repaired 4 of the 5 Dodeca cards. Still have a bug in two channels in the last one -- they are weak. I had to replace a number of drivers in them all. Looks like my technique of reflowing the boards slowly doesn't work as the parts stay hot for too long. So I need to get a 1500W oven rather than my 1300 to melt the solder faster.

I hotglued the light strips to the first arch and gave it a test run. And except for one small bug, it worked perfectly the first time out. All the code did precisely what it was supposed to do. Even the fade trick, which was experimental and not expected to work right. So the arch project is well on track and working great. This even leads toward a halloween project for next year called Tunnel, which is double the number of archs (6) and reversed so the lights shine inwards rather than out. This will need to run every single light board I have, including the ones I've not populated. But it's a good test case to get the quad figured out.

Sunday was a day off because Saturday's burst of building drained me. Plus, it was raining -- with my gear still outside. Naturally all it takes to break a historic drought is my leaving a one of a kind device out in the yard to get rained on. Fortunately I'd already waterproofed everything but the end -- wasn't expecting rain during a drought and I need to be able to repair the end if necessary. But I tore it down easily enough and it's in temp storage in the garage.

Movies watched: Watched the remake of Dawn of the Dead. The made the Zombies into Ninjas with manic speed. Um, I preferred the shambling mindless zombies of the original. The first one was more fun and scarier whereas the remake was more realistic (no gun shop, power went out) than the first. In SL we watched revenge of the nerds and Fanboys. If you haven't seen Fanboys before, do so -- it's both very funny and very poignant. Star Wars fans take their buddy who is dying of cancer and won't live to see the premiere of Ep1 across the country to break into Skywalker ranch and sneak a peek at it. It's as much a story about lost friendship as it is geek obsession. And all the cameos in the film... hilarious!
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Never one to see somebody else make a buck without wanting to horn in (heh), I have some ideas for the next generation of 99c video games you play on your phone. Everyone knows about Angry Birds, right? Well, heres:

Ennui birds. Try to give the birds a reason to bother getting into the slingshot in the first place.

Lazy birds. Find ways to coax the birds out of their nest and onto the screen, like tossing cats or water hoses at them.

Horny birds. Their solution is to just make more eggs. Throw various "toys" into the nests to make the birds happy.

Stoned birds. The birds throw stuff at the pigs while intoxicated. Might be a bomb. Might be the eggs they are protecting. Won't know till the purple haze wears off.

Hyper birds. Aim pixie sticks and cans of red bull at the nests. Get some into each nest, and they kick the piggie's asses.

Creative birds. Throw the slingshot itself at the pigs. Don't know how useful it is, but...

Dancing birds. drop ravesticks and lights on the raving birds to the beat of the music (ala guitar hero). When the screen burns out from excessive light, go to the next level.

Sad birds. The birds throw dead kittens and deceased goldfish at the pigs to make the pigs run away crying.

etc. etc...
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I've just failed my first Astronaut test -- I am unable to walk on a frictionless surface.

I started to go to the garage last night. The first step in, my foot instantly slid out in front of me. Trying to regain balance I stepped forward, thus putting both feet on frictionless surfaces. And boom, down to the cement I went. If I had not still been holding the doorknob, I probably would have busted my head wide open.

What happened, is that the laundry detergent the oldest leaves on top of the washer had vibrated off and broken on the cement. Well, cement covered in HE laundry detergent is not just slick, but super slick. Tastes bad too, as I'm here to testify. I'm bruised and my head still isn't all there. But I'm still breathing so I guess that's good.

I will get a small guardrail and secure it on the top of the washer so nothing can fall off of it again. Sure, I can scream that nothing should be put there. But realistically, I know that's not going to work. So I'll make it to where the detergent can't fall off the machine anymore.

Thus I got nothing done with the lights, in SL, zip. The brain was effectively offline for the rest of the night.
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I had a strange and scary dream last night - I dreamed that I'd died.

What was strange about the dream was less that I'd croaked, but on what the effects were. The dream focused on my wife sitting in the now silent garage. A place that hummed with machines and music, now forever silent. And it was the quiet in that room which I spent so much time in that made her realize that I was truly gone. The pick and place would never run again. The lights would never go out into the yard again. The synths and the computers would never so much as beep again. It was... an eerie dream.

And it ended suddenly when the wife rolled over in bed and cuddled me, for which I am grateful. I don't expect to live forever, no. But the thing I'll be most remembered for is how noisy I made the garage? That, I think, was disappointing.
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I took off Friday because I had a car repair needing done, and I didn't feel like working that fri anyways. I had dreams of writing and coding and building stuff. Well, I did get the text for the puppet skit finished on my laptop. But the 2 hour job at the dealer took 8 F'ing hours. Not a good start to the holiday weekend.

Other stuff: I built the cable assembling jig and laid out the first of three cable bundles on it. Now to solder stuff. I also resumed coding on the Xmas lights for 2011 show. I familiarized myself with the pick and place machine some. I also took the kids to the Spirit store and we bought costumes. Oldest is grounded again for hitting her sister and the house was a big screaming mess for a night. I'm picking up a nervous tic in the left eye.

Mom called and needed help playing a DVD, so I emailed her my fallback hack of Windvd from years ago. She couldn't keep track of where she saved the zips or where the program unzipped or installed or... I don't have a crystal ball so I can see over your shoulder you know. I'm beginning to wonder if I should turn on her Remote Computer stuff so I can do stuff remotely. She's from the typewriter generation, I understand. But seriously, organizing folders in a computer isn't that hard. But we got her DVD playing and so she's good now.

We had a nice BBq with steaks and chicken and corn on the cob. Monday was the first day cool enough that I could step outside without dying from heat stroke. If it stays this nice, I'll be happy. We could still use a lot more rain though. STarted the puppet skit video background too. This will be a hillarious puppet act at MFF and Furry Fiesta. I need to get some foam "we're #1" fingers for the act.
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Google should drop its idiotic names policy, as it really isn't possible to enforce -- I can easily photoshop a scan of my DL, change the numbers, and make my name Marvin Zindler. How would they know?

Law enforcement routinely warns people against using their real names, addresses, phone numbers, etc on the internet. In this day of identity thieves and stalkers, you don't want to give every random stranger in the world so many details about your life. But that's exactly what Google is demanding that we do. And to top it all off, they are banning people who ARE using their real names, but Google doesn't believe them because they sound funny; there ARE people named Robin Hood in the real world you know...

I don't mind telling Google my real name for my account. But I insist that Google keep it between me and them, as I go by my writing nom-de-plume on the internet and have done so for longer than Google has existed. The only people who will search for my real name are people I don't want to be visible to. The people I want to interact with don't know my real name, but DO know my nom-de-plume. So Google, in its vapid demand that we all use real names to connect with the people we want to connect with unless our names sound funny to some 18 year old temp in San Jose, is forcing us to be invisible to those we want to connect with while exposing our real data to thieves, rapists, HR departments, and other vile dregs of society.

I use Facebook little because of their policies. And while I created the Plus account when I was invited, their policies keep me from using it. Which is a pity, since their Circle approach is far better than FBs. It's a shame that they fail to grasp that we don't share everything equally with everyone we know (circles) also applies to what name(s) we wish to be identified by on the internet. Why they can't simply have a real name, a couple of nicknames, and checkboxes by the ones you want to be found by is beyond me -- very simple code to add and it would go a long way to gaining customers instead of repelling them.
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I finally found and corrected the problem with the pick and place machine.

After I got it secured a few weeks back, I didn't want to run it until things were a little cooler. Well, after several weeks of abysmal heat and no relief within 60 days, I decided to run it up and ensure things were operating anyways. That way I'd have time to get things fixed at a leisurely pace.

Well, I got the computer and the programming wand to function. But the video was crap and the motors refused to move even a little bit. When you first power up, the arms are supposed to go to Home. But they didn't. You can imagine my frustration, crawling through this machine with high voltage everywhere and trying to locate a loose power connection somewhere.

Finally I found the problems. The video issue was simply the Vhold on the old CRT. As I've not played with a genuine CRT in ages, that's just oversight on my part. But the issue with the motors was the protection interlocks. One door doesn't close all the way, though if you don't look carefully it appears that it does. So if you push that door fully closed, the interlocks work and the motors are permitted to power up and move. So yay, I think the Quad 2C is functional and ready to be run a little bit.

After this upcoming heat wave that is. Tomorrow is supposed to be 107 actual. Don't know what it'll be with the heat index. Damned if I'm going to set foot outside tomorrow or run anything that doesn't come with a keyboard. Tonight though, I DJ at cutlass at 8pm. SciFi theme. Maybe I'll be able to stay awake long enough to complete my set.

See, the oldest gets up at 530am. While the wife drives her to her running practice at 545am, the dogs bark and carry on when we enter/leave the front door. Me, sleep? Nah. Wife returns at 615. Dogs bark. Sleep? Alarm goes off at 7am and I have to get the youngest up for school. Sleep? What's that? So if I seem tired when you all see me, it's because even going to sleep at 11pm only gets me 6 hours of sleep a night. And I need 8. I'm going to try finding some comfy headphones or build myself a soundproof sleep helmet so I can ignore the chaos that erupts predawn every stinking day of the schoolyear.
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I've heard that they are filming some disaster movie along the East Coast. Earthquakes. Hurricanes. Rick Perry. A complete smorgasbord of movie mayhem. I have also heard that they are sparing no expense in the special effects, making them so real that people will swear it's the real thing.

Hang on over there!
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http://money.cnn.com/2011/08/18/technology/hp_pc_spinoff/index.htm?source=cnn_bin&hpt=hp_bn3

Okay. So they saw that someone else was making money with cell phones and tablets. Having no tech of their own, they spend billions to acquire... Palm. Then they spend billions to develop their first generation of "Ipad killer" which has many first generation flaws and shortcomings that everyone in tech knows are inevitable. So the "businessmen" in charge decide after only 3 months to throw in the towel and flush ALL those billions down the crapper because they didn't get a home run the very first swing? And the rest of the PC line has to go down too?

So here we have a computer company that won't make computers.

And people wonder why I have such reservations about private companies being able/willing to launch anything to orbit? I knew that to graduate MBA school, you had to leave your soul behind. But it's looking like you have to lose a big chunk of your brain to get that MBA also! A computer company that doesn't make computers... what are they going to do, sell apples?
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I hope everyone likes it. I think it's one of my better ones. Sadly, I do work well under pressure. And I say sadly because it seems that's all I get :) About 3 pages long, which comes to about 1.5 double column pages.
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Those of you following for a bit know that I've had a bizarre problem with my garage computer. This is the quadcore that used to be my main computer. Since it is the last of the XP machines, and it holds and runs programs that either can't be bought for the Win7x64 box (either it's not legit, or the company is no more, or it simply won't work there) I need it to run forever. And you've heard me ponder and wonder why they hell the computer could not run any sort of VR Viewer when the only noted change was moving the computer to the garage -- even the keyboard and mouse are the same!

Well, I solved the problem. And not only that, but I got the thing fixed and now it can run SL just fine. And the problem was nothing I expected at all... not even remotely. Okay, you techie types out there know how the 3d graphics work. Tell me, how can having one device plugged into USB cause a problem with the GPU? I'll let you chew on it for a second before I give the answer...



...


The answer showed up while doing a DXDiag test. The test would die every time it got to Direct Input, which is the providence of Dinput8.dll, one of the DirectX9c drivers. Now, Direct Input is solely for haptic devices, joysticks, keypads, and the like. It had no reason to die because there simply aren't any devices plugged in except the mouse and keyboard. But then I got to thinking, and you know that's not really the case. I have midi interfaces, synth keyboards, programming wands, logic analyzeres... perhaps one of them was the culprit. So I unplugged devices one at a time to find which might be killing DXDiag, and thus SL. Finally, I found a USB device that when unplugged, allowed DXDiag to run properly. And a quick install later to confirm it, SL ran correctly too! TADA, a number of games and a number of things would not work properly because a USB device was screwing up Dinput8.dll

And that USB device, is the PICKIT3 programming wand for the pic processors.

This is not a device that even 1/1000th of the computer users out there will possess, thus it's a very strange glitch for the internet overall. But when it's unplugged, I have my regular game box back. Plugged it, certain stuff stops working because it screws up one of the directX dlls.

So I'll just leave it unplugged unless I'm in Pic programming operations. Tada, problem solved.
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Here I am! Aren't I dreamy?
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