November 2006
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I am The Cyberwolfe and these are my ramblings. All original content is protected under a Creative Commons license - always ask first.
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Archive for November, 2006

Sick Day Meanderings

Posted in Life on November 28th, 2006

So, we’re about halfway through the weekly meeting at the office this morning when I realize that I’m sweating. Not a normal occurrence in our place, which tends to run about 4 degrees colder than I like. So I lean over to the Roomie and ask him “is it hot in here, or is it just me?” “I’m the wrong guy to ask,” he says – because he is almost shivering.

Turns out the both of us were feverish to some extent. Being the prudent folks we are, we bailed for home.

While home and being basically useless, I happened to be randomly websurfing and came across something I wrote a couple years ago on someone else’s blog – and it reminded me that I used to actually write interesting stuff.

Amazement.

I should probably do that again.

A similar point was made in an outta-da-blue email I got from an old girlfriend who tripped across this here blog a few months ago. She remembered that she used to like me. Unfortunately, I then ruined everything by apologizing for being the idiot I was and I haven’t heard from her since. I have a fairly poor track record for renewing old friendships it appears.

Or maybe it is only old friendships with old girlfriends – I managed to track down one of the ones that got away once, and she stopped writing after a couple volleys too. There was a small bit of unrequited love there though, and she being married and all now may have had something to do with the sudden disappearance.

Who knows. Maybe it all just boils down to the old adage: You Can’t Go Home Again. Both the women mentioned are married with kids and lives now, and a quick trip down memory lane is often spoilt once you remember how much things have changed. My recent trip to the hometown is ample proof of that. Yes, things have changed there, but what is there now still sucks more than the pleasant memories can make up for. I hated it while I was there, and it hasn’t changed that much.

Of course, I didn’t realize how much I hated it until I was gone. It took a very short time in another city for me to become completely intolerant of the people in that sad little burg. Even Ashland was better, despite being a little smaller. Honestly, had there been any sort of job market there, Ashland would probably be home to me now.

Even the Ratboy, who used to think moving to NYC would be a good thing to do after high school has said to me that “Portland just feels like home to me now. Every time I leave, I can’t wait to get back.”

Much like this entry, sometimes you it’s bad to think about how you got here. (Because then you lose the whole thread of your thoughts.)

Yeah. Stop mashing keys now.

Review: Variable Star

Posted in Reviews on November 27th, 2006

The concept is quite intriguing: a book imagined by Robert Heinlein and written years after his death from the original notes by Spider Robinson, arguably RH’s spiritual successor in the halls of Sci-Fi-dom.

It is a good book, an enjoyable read – I had to ration myself for fear of finishing it too quickly. The characterization is there, the plot is solid, the dialog is well written and carries well throughout the book. All the earmarks of a bestseller.

Then why am I disappointed?

Very simply: Spider has written this book before.

Okay, I’ll cut the guy a little slack. Having written some 32 or so previous books, one can expect that certain things will carry forward from previous books. I was just bummed that so many things carried forward in this one.

The main character has many similarities with Jake Stonebender of the Calahan’s series – and Jake is an extension of Spider himself. The plot is very reminiscent of Starseed if you look at the broad picture. Zen Buddhism plays a big part, as in most of Spider’s work. When it gets right down to it, the only things that are missing from the Robinson canon of plot elements is a mention of “Running, Jumping, Standing Still” and a sexy fat chick.

It was a very good book – but I kept getting the feeling that I had read it before. C’mon Spider, let’s see something new.

Uhm…yeah. Posting.

Posted in Life on November 26th, 2006

Something I should probably do more of.

Thanksgiving trip, in small doses:

Took waaay too long to get out of town – 1 hour to drive 15 miles. Rain slowed me down more, so it took me from 6:30pm to 1:00am to get to Grants Pass. That’s 6 1/2 hours for a 4-hour trip. (Okay, there was a meal stop and a gas stop, but still.)

It was good to see the family – wish I could have done more of it. My mom’s house reeks of smoke (even to a longtime smoker like myself – enough to be sickening) so I spent as little time there as I could. My brother and his wife opted to spend all of Friday night at the local bar, which would have meant me leaving Pookie in the care of a couple teenage boys had I opted to join them and all of their friends, with whom I have nothing in common. (Quite honestly, most of them are the kind of people I left GP to get away from.) Oh joy.

So, I spent all of Friday night watching TV and playing games on the laptop. If Pookie wasn’t having so much fun playing with her youngest cousin, I would have packed and left.

The drive Saturday was much better – mostly clear weather and traffic was fairly light until Salem. Unfortunately, after Salem everyone forgot the whole idea of “the left lane is for passing” and piled up there. I was able to zig my way through two whole packs of cars by dodging in-and-out of the slow lane. Fucking tards.

So, I spent about $100 in gas and food and 11 hours driving with attendant aggravation to spend about (in total) 12 hours with my family.

No wonder it’s been three years since I went back.

Review: Happy Feet

Posted in Reviews on November 19th, 2006

Tolerant, in her infinite sweetness,took me, The Pookster and her niece out to see Happy Feet, the animated adventure of a dancing Emperor penguin.

This is a good movie, and those of you with kids should take them to see it. The family will have a good time, and it is worth the money to see it on a big screen with good sound, as there is copious singing.

There is also a thick handful of social commentary, as any good fable should have. The worst part, however, has to be Nicole Kidman’s voice. A sad case of casting there.

Spoilers follow.

Read the rest of this entry »

My technology hates me

Posted in Geekery on November 18th, 2006

So, what did we wake up to today? A firewall that had been locked up due to the manufacturer doing maintenance on the license validation servers last night.

After about 5 reboots, we finally got the stupid thing to link up and authorize again – but only the wireless was working.

Yeah, I said that too.

So, after much begging and pleading to get some support on a Saturday, it turns out the stupid thing had a corrupted firmware that needed to be (you guessed it) nuked and paved.

Not really a problem, except I wasn’t able to log in to download the firmware until about 8:00pm. In the meantime, Greyduck was forced to do some modifying to his gaming computer so Kyla could make a raid.

Thankfully, the nuke process only takes about 15 minutes on our little home unit. I’d hate to have to do the same with the offic firewall.

Let’s just hope it stays fixed, eh?

I swear it’s good for your skin, baby

Posted in Life on November 16th, 2006

So I’m driving home from a date tonight, listening to Loveline, and “Lorelei” comes on asking if male ejaculate would help clear up her acne. “…well, I know it’s good for you if you swallow it, and I was wondering if it might help clear up my skin…”

Where do people come up with this shit?

“Oh, no, really, babe, you gotta swallow – there’s protein and vital nutrients in there. And you know, if I spew it onto your face and you rub it in, it’ll clear up those zits…”

Maybe the Japanese have been right about it all along.

I bukkake for clear skin!

Goodbye Vista, Hello Blackness?

Posted in Geekery on November 12th, 2006

Some good news discovered whilst tripping through the local game store: Space Empires V is available at your local store. I could have sworn I signed up for the notifier, but I didn’t get anything.

Anyway, I happily dumped cash on the counter and took a copy of this awaited favorite sequel, and installed it on the work laptop as a test-run. Very pretty, and especially nice in the wide-screen, which is different. You can move all the sub-windows around to maximize use of the whole screen.

When I got home today, I went to install it under Vista, but Vista wouldn’t even start the installer. No idea why, it just balked completely to do anything with it. Now, the Vista install was merely a test platform from the get-go, so I had no qualms at all about shutting it down and booting back to my old XP install. With one minor problem, that I did not see coming.

You see, in the Vista Start menu, there is an icon with a rendition of the standard line-in-a-broken-circle “Power” icon. This is actually the Hibernate button, not the shutdown button. The system went dark, yes, but then my keyboard lit back up, something it had not done before. I shrugged, turned off the power switch at the power supply, plugged the IDE drive back in, hit the switch again and then pressed the power button.

Nothing. No lights, no fan spin, no response.

A wail of anguish split the clammy afternoon air across the town.

Further troubleshooting tells me it’s either the processor or the motherboard, most likely the latter. (When the proc goes, the motherboard will at least beep at you; I get nothing.) An email has been sent to the mobo manufacturer, as the system is less than a year old and should be under warranty. (I is a smart monkey and kept the receipt.) Hopefully they won’t send me through too many hoops before authorizing an RMA.

I will probably be relegated to the laptop for about two weeks if they have any decency, three if they don’t and I end up having to purchase a replacement – from a competitor. All in all, I really shouldn’t be that surprised, as the on-board NIC failed about two months into use, and the northbridge fan has been making noise this last week or so.

Yep – another beautiful Sunday at Chez Wolfe.

Get yer ass offa da couch an’ vote!

Posted in Life on November 6th, 2006

(PSA)

For those of you who are my fellow Oregonians, if you haven’t turned in your ballot yet, then remember that libraries are your friend. All libraries will accept ballots and turn them in to the Elections Board for tabulation.

(/PSA)

That’s wierd

Posted in Geekery on November 5th, 2006

Some geekery for the weekend-

A while back, the new Boss gave me and the Roomie a new Sonicwall TZ170W to play with here at Chez Wolfe. This is cool, because it does offer some nifty extra security features.

This is bad, because some of those new security features mean that the old Orinoco wireless card I had in the garage lappy no longer works. So, I bought a new Linksys model to replace it. Works fine in Win2K, but the older version of Kubuntu I was running had no idea.

So, I installed the latest release of Kubuntu, but I was unable to get the wireless working in that as well. Honestly, wifi is one of Linux’s weakest points, mainly because the wifi makers have no real interest in devoting dev time to the open-source community.

It had been a while since I had done anything with the Win2K install on the lappy, so tonight I decided to upgrade Firefox from 1.0 to 2.0. Normally not a big deal, but for some strange reason, it won’t login to my blog admin interface. It doesn’t throw any errors, it just punts me back to the login page. (If I try the wrong login, it gives me the correct error, but the correct creds just go back to login.)

WTF?

**Update** – Duh, friggin’ cookies were turned off. I am such a yutz.

Vista Beta test

Posted in Geekery on November 3rd, 2006

A few thoughts after having run Vista for the week:

The stupid thng couldn’t identify a simple network card, but it did correctly identify my Creative Zen Micro MP3 player, and asked me if I wanted to sync my music files when I plugged it in.

They almost have security figured out. It only asked me to create user passwords on install, not a user and an administrator password. When installing software or mucking with system settings, it pops up a window telling you that something possibly hinky is going on and asks permission to continue. Better than before, but still not on a par with the Unix / Linux model.

The built-in games have a new look to them, and a couple new additions. These include Chess, Mah-Jong and another bouncing-ball based game where you draw lines on the board to deflect the path of a ball towards a goal. Beats playing solitaire all day.

Hardware management now includes a way to rate your PC for performance, which is pretty cool. If ths works right, game publishers will be able to give you rating numbers to hit, instead of making you remember all the minutiae of your system specs. “Graphics score of 3.7 or better” is so much easier than “Video card: 32 MB with 3D Transform and Lighting capable, DirectX 9.0 or later.”

(As a side note, those are the specs for Microsoft’s Halo, which makes me think the rating system won’t work. Sure, Halo will run with 32MB of video RAM, but you’ll get maybe 4 FPS.)

As for software compatability, there are some quirks still. Yahoo! Widgets must be launched through Widget preferences; double-clicking a widget file in Explorer won’t launch it. Settlers: Heritage of Kings installed and plays just fine, and the no-cd patch still works. OpenOffice.org gave me no problems. I haven’t tried the new version of Outlook Express (which is back to being Microsoft Mail again.)

All in all, it looks like the extra time the developers took has been for the better. Time will tell.