Time to get a little serious and stop being an
internet tough guy amateur wise-cracking blogger for a minute. I came across a really interesting article the other day, where you can turn your thumb drive into a personal web server:
So naturally, I've spent a better part of this evening trying it out. The instructions tell you to install a fairly straightforward program, XAMPP, that installs and runs everything for you. This is good, because server level details are waaaay beyond my technical knowledge.
Of course, even using XAMPP seems to be beyond my technical knowledge. I've been trying desperately to get this thing up and running. I got Apache working for a little bit, but when I stopped the server, unplugged my thumb drive (which I'm supposed to be able to do), and tried to start it up again... Apache screams at me. Like all the time. Errors galore.
So I'm installing XAMPP for the 3rd time as I write this. Hopefully, the 3rd time is the charm!
Any help from anyone on the internets would be greatly appreciated. I'm trying to do this for a side project I'm working on, and having a little test environment would be unbelievably useful.
Aug 29, 2008
Time to get a little serious and stop being an
Just wanted to let you know that I won't be posting as normal on Labor Day. I could use the day off, both from work and this self-imposed committment, to recharge. At least that's what I'm telling most people. Actually, I just plan to eat hot dogs and hamburgers until I go into a food coma.
Have a safe and happy holiday weekend!
Aug 28, 2008
That has to be one of the trippiest websites I've ever come across. Seriously, the "wtf" factor alone is worth the price of admission. I've tried to understand this site. I've given up.
The only things I can say about the site for sure is that:
- It was created either by a crazy person or someone under the influence of some powerful drugs
- To fully appreciate it, you need to be either crazy yourself or under the influence of said powerful drugs
Aug 27, 2008
This morning started out like any other morning. The usual morning routine, the commute in, the getting my bearings for the day's work ahead. "Hey Jon, you have to check this out", said an excited coworker seemingly materializing out of nowhere. In a blur his cell phone flips open and is calling a number.
A voice sprang from the phone, tough to make out with it being on speaker. "Jott feeds," my coworker replied. Jott feeds? Is that even English he's speaking? "The Unwind" my coworker bellows. Suddenly, it's yesterday's post... being read to me over the phone! My jaw hit the floor.
That co-worker was, of course, one of the masterminds behind Traveling Munchies. Anyone who's been to their site knows they are no stranger to the new, trendy technologies so it was no surprise that he had discovered Jott.
Jott (http://www.jott.com/) is a really cool, robust text-to-speech service that allows you to speak reminders, calendar dates, emails or whatever into your phone, encode it into text and send it where you'd like it to go. Or you can manage it all online using their slick interface. It also lets you read anything that has an RSS feed over the phone by reading it to you.
As an aside, the voice is a little creepy, reminding me of GlaDOS from Portal a little bit. But whatever, you can finally listen to The Unwind from your phone! Right? ....Right? Is this thing on?
There are different service tiers, and I'm using only the basic free one, but I'm very happy with the service. Its interface is slick, and I'm still figuring out all the bells and whistles this thing has (hint: it's a lot). I can say that it really is incredible the scope of this little service, and I highly recommend that you try it out for yourself. I've added a "listen to this site" button over on the right for ease of access.
I figured I'm going to test just how eerily like GlaDOS Jott's reader voice is... by using some GlaDOS quotes. Listen in to see if you agree:
"Unbelievable! You, [Subject Name Here] must be the pride of [Subject Hometown Here]!"
"Did you know you can donate one or all of your vital organs to the Aperture Science self esteem fund for girls? It's true!"
"That thing you burned up isn't important to me. It's the fluid catalytic cracking unit. It made shoes for orphans. Nice job breaking it, hero."
Aug 25, 2008
Some time ago (I honestly can't remember when), I doodled this after a series of really frustrating telemarketing calls:
I call it Fist Over IP (FOIP) telephony. While I doubt we as a human race have the quantum physics ability to actually transport someone's fist over a phone line or over the internet, we could install a fist into each person's phone. A judicious press of the "punch button" is all it takes to activate it.
At very least, we ought to do this for telemarketers' phones. It would be some sort of deal: in exchange for not hanging up on them until the telemarketer finshes his pitch, we get to punch a telemarketer. They close more deals, we get more immediate and tangible karmic retribution. It's win-win!
Someone invent this, pretty pretty please.
Aug 24, 2008
I love the Olympics, which is why it saddens me that we're wrapping up the 29th Olympiad.
It's odd that once every 4 years I start to care about sports I wouldn't even be caught dead watching. Suddenly, gymnastics is exciting and I pretend I know what people are doing what flips and spins and... I don't know, lutzes? Watching Olympic ping-pong gives a zen-like feeling, with you and the camera surreally calm and centered in around all the chaos. Weightlifting was intense. And why was I watching field hockey at 3 in the morning? Or, for that matter, why was I watching horse jumping at all?
Through all of it I kept chanting, if only in the back of my mind, "USA! USA! USA!". It was like some kind of patriotic heartbeat that was ever present the entire Olympic games. It's strange - can someone explain to me why? WebMD isn't turning up anything...
NBC's coverage of the event was awesome. My only gripe was they (understandably) gravitated to the US events, but I would have loved to see some of the events we weren't really competing for - those shooting events that got almost no coverage would have been interesting to watch. But other than that I thought they did a great job not just showing events, but explaining them as well. To most American viewers, we don't know the first thing about some sports (diving, gymnastics, water polo, etc), and the commentators did a great job of making sure us simple folk could follow along.
Also, not once did NBC ever make a protesting Tibetan monk/Olympic torch joke that Beijing naturally lent itself to. Classy bunch of folks, they are.
There were plenty of things to be proud of at these Olympics. Michael Phelps winning 8 gold medals, two of them miraculously, is something I likely will never see again in my lifetime. Dara Torres, a 41 (!) year old woman, turned in a unbelievable silver medal performance. The Redeem Team put men's USA basketball back into gold medal position. There is too much to count - USA earned the most total medals (110), each with it's own story.
USA did however come in second overall, losing to China who had fewer (100), but many more gold, medals. We'll get them next time around... bring on Vancouver!
Aug 22, 2008
I'm really really facinated by Garry's Mod. It seriously can be a pain in the butt sometimes with the difficult posing of lifeless ragdolls (amongst many other things), but the end result is either gained experience with the bajillion tools the program has or a really neat photo.
In tooling around with it today, I created a new in-game mode of transportation: THE HEAVY JET! Why? Simply because I could. Click on any of the below for the higher-res versions.
Of course, the Heavy Jet comes complete with a state of the art security system: Gun Mouth.
And a close up of the Scout riding the Heavy Jet.
Another Thursday, another episode of The Legend of Neil, brought to you by the good people at effin funny. It's NSFW, as always, but I just can't get enough of this series.
Which brings me to sadder news. It appears that the next episode, which will air in 2 weeks' time (Sept 4th), is the finale. Come on, guys! Neil has like 8 other levels to go!
Aug 21, 2008
You ever watch a cooking show and really salivate over what the host is making? It looks so good and the ingredients sound really creative and interesting? Doesn't it make you hungry?
This is the opposite of that.
Fumbling around these here internets, I found a clip of a cooking show "Paula's Home Cooking". The host, Paula, is a southern woman who decides to demonstrate how to wrap macaroni and cheese with raw bacon and fry it. I repeat: she's making deep fried, bacon-wrapped macaroni and cheese. I'm no psychic, but I'm guessing your stomach hurts now.
There is so much wrong with this video, it's not even funny (ed: yes it is). Go ahead and count the number of things that are really wrong with it. I count 7, and I've listed them after the break.
To be clear, this is Paula's thinly veiled attempt to kill you. I gained weight just watching this video, and am now afraid I might suffer a heart attack in a few minutes. Watch at your own risk.
For those of you playing at home, the things that are wrong with this video are:
Aug 20, 2008
Did I mention TF2 is freaking awesome?
The new heavy update has been released today, and there is a crap-ton of stuff that came with it. One of the things released is a new "Meet the" video, where historically this video series would introduce one of the game's character classes. This time, however, we're introduced to one of the new unlockable weapon for the heavy: a sandvich.
To eat it, you basically have to not carry around your shotgun and be completely vulnerable for 4 seconds while consuming the "edible device". The upside is that you can self-heal 120 points per sandvich (a sizeable amount) between fights. Time will tell if this addition keeps the class fair and balanced versus the other classes, or if it'll be tweaked down the road a la the Backburner's health bonus.
One this for sure is Valve is one creative group of s.o.b.'s, and this addition - and video - is hilarious. This game just continues to ooze with personality. Go ahead, meet the sandvich:
Aug 19, 2008
In honor of the new Team Fortress 2 heavy pack that's slated to appear today, I decided to whip up a couple of pictures in Garry's Mod. For those that play the game with me, it's no secret that I despise heavies almost as much as I despise pyros. The following is part public service announcement, part an excuse to use Garry's Mod some more, and part cry for help (someone stop me!). Click the below images for higher-resolution.
PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT: Should you play the game in the next couple of days, you'll see a large amount of the heavy class roaming around as people try to unlock achievements.
Please, stab them. Stab them all.
Aug 18, 2008
Just came back from an awesome wedding in Maryland, and I think I've discovered something. Something big. I call it (for those of you who didn't think to read the post title) The Universal Wedding Dance Theory. In broad terms:
No matter how ridiculous the dance move, the more people that do it, the more accepted and imitated it becomes on the dance floor.
It's a little more nuanced than that, but that's the basic gist of it. I actually came up with the equations, which I'll share
One thing I noticed is that critical mass is about three people. One lone person doing a ridiculous move gets laughed at. Two people doing the same move are just shrugged off and accepted. Three however, becomes a trend and suddenly everyone else starts to join in.
Upon discovering this theory, I realized this is the only rational explanation for how the macarena, chicken dance and electric slide could have ever caught on. Also, while it's still not proven in field tests this theory may even hold true for the Elaine Dance.
Aug 14, 2008
It's Thursday, so effin funny continues their quest to ensure I'll never be able to play Zelda again... er, they released another episode of The Legend of Neil. As always the video is NSFW, but hilarious.
Aug 13, 2008
This blog for me is seriously fun, but holding myself to adding to it 5 times a week poses a challenge. There are only two things that can stop me: writer's block and life getting in the way. While I thankfully still have not had any major bouts of writer's block, tonight it's life that's getting in the way. I've got a major report due tomorrow for work that's still not complete and as much as I like doing this blog, I like being gainfully employed more.
So I'm shamelessly mailing it in tonight. Here, watch this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z1UF6eDZutk.
Also, the heavy pack for TF2 comes out August 19th. Joy!
I picked up today Garry's Mod, a sandbox application of Valve's Source engine. Basically, I get to play with just about anything and everything using the source engine: Half-Life 2, Portal, and Team Fortress 2 (!!!).
There's a moderate learning curve to it, but I'm slowly getting the hang of it. I'm really trying to see what I can do with it, and am pretty proud of my first - albeit not too complex - picture:
Click for a larger image
More to come, for sure.
Aug 12, 2008
Reflecting on the Dark Knight not too long ago, I came upon an odd realization. As anyone remotely familiar with Batman knows, Bruce Wayne puts on a disguise and assumes the identity of Batman when he's fighting crime. But in Christian Bale's Bruce Wayne also seems to put on a false face to the public Bruce Wayne.
That public Bruce Wayne is arrogant, brash and brazen. Bruce is larger than life and has all the cars, money, women and power. So why, then, does he show humility and humbleness around his confidants Lucius, Alfred and Rachel? It's as though he's only able to be himself around those people.
Around high society, he's Bruce Wayne: billionaire playboy. Around the dregs of society, he's Batman. Around his friends he's just Bruce: a soft spoken man who just wants to make the world a better place. Which one is the real Bruce Wayne?
This got my mind running wild as I think I finally understood why it is I inherently like superheroes. You have 2 identities occupying the same body (usually, sometimes more like in the above example), but only one of them can be the genuine one. Consider this:
- Does Peter Parker want to be taking photos as a journalist? Or does he want to be making headlines as Spiderman?
- Is Bruce Banner more himself when he's suppressing his rage? Or when he unleashes it and becomes the Hulk?
- At the end of the day, does Kal-el want to sit down to a nice quiet night as Clark Kent? Or does he find that boring and need to protect Metropolis as Superman?
Aug 10, 2008
The early 90's were an interesting time in video gaming, where graphics were coming of age, but you could still pretty much make up anything and it was considered an awesome idea for a game. Mutant hockey players? Why not? Vampire slaying bloodline on a never ending quest to vanquish Dracula? Sounds like fun to me! A puffball thing with an insatiable appetite? That's the makings of a successful franchise, my friend.
Back then, even celebrity endorsements hadn't lost their credibility yet. Before John Madden had lent his name to a football empire, and Tiger Woods cashed in as well, Michael Jackson had a humble game on the Sega Genesis, Michael Jackson's Moonwalker.
Michael Jackson doing the thriller dance with a couple of stray dogs. As good an idea for a game as any.
It's a game that hasn't really gotten better with age. Not because it's difficult to play, or it's mechanics were bad. It's just... well, we all know what happened to Michael since the early 90's. He just got weird. He went from a pop superstar to an albino alien autopsy after what has to be several botched cosmetic surgeries. Oh, and the (alleged) children touching thing.
Which is why this game really is out of sorts. In the game, Michael has to rescue children that are hiding. In the first few levels, you're in a old-timey pool hall searching for children behind doors and windows. Once you find them, they ride off in a comet. And when you find them all, you get a monkey that directs you to the boss. Because somehow he knows. I really wonder if the people making this game had a crystal ball or something.
Picture above: Michael ignoring the scantily clad woman, hupming the air and a child crying in the upper left corner. Not pictured: My dignity.
If the concept of the game wasn't weird enough, Michael's attacks consist of several kicks and dance moves that spray out some kind of deadly fairy dust. When an enemy comes into contact with said fairy dust, they either fall right over (heart attack?) or are no longer bound by gravity and fly off screen.
As a special attack, Michael can dance around at the cost of health. In this game's logic, you damage yourself trying to spin around. After using about half his life bar, all enemies on the screen bust out into a dance with Michael and afterwards collapses. I like to imagine what would happen if that concept were applied to Broadway.
Ow Ow Ow Ow Ow Ow!
All in all, not a terrible game for its time. I was able to play it for a bit the other day without having to jam the controller through my head. That's a compliment, and about the only one I can give the game. Because now, in 2008, the game is just unintentionally weird... and a little creepy.
Aug 8, 2008
You know what a flute is. You know what beatboxing is. You may have an idea of what the two combined might be like. You're wrong. In a word: awesome. In more than one word: HOLY CRAP I CAN'T STOP HITTING THE REPLAY BUTTON.
Also, when the heck did The Unwind become a video blog?
Aug 7, 2008
The next episode of The Legend of Neil is out. If you thought the last two were innappropriate, I highly recommend you not click play below. It's like a bajillion times more innappropriate. NSFW, to say the least.
Thanks, effin funny, you've effectively ruined my childhood. And made me laugh in the process.
Once again, I find myself splicing together a few ideas that wouldn't be postworthy separately.
- I think I want to make a movie. I've had this idea for a movie mulling around my head for a while... I'd like to do a mock-documentary of a team of writers trying to write the next great comedy. Something in the style of The Office, one of my favorite shows on TV.
This is a partial solicitation. While I have a bunch of ideas for this, I need people to actually play the parts. If you're interested, and in the Connecticut area, let me know. At this stage of the game, I'm flexible with the cast (having not written line 1 yet). Knowing who will be playing the parts will help me tailor each character to the personalities and strengths of the people playing them. I hope to start on the script sometime in the not-too-distant future.
I remembered how much fun I had making the Bomber's commercial way back when, and am equally excited to give this a go. It may bomb, it may rock, but I'm going to have some fun with it.
- On pain of online harassment (the worst kind of harassment!) I've been coerced to mention a co-worker's side project, The Musicfan Gallery. He takes great pride in it, gathering all photos he feels capture the essence of whatever artist is the subject of the photo. For legal reasons, he also asked me to explicitly mention that collecting these photos in no way violates any restraining orders said artists may or may not have against him.
- Mr. Rogers popping and locking. Enough said.
Aug 6, 2008
I stumbled upon a really cool test that supposedly determines if you're left- or right-brained. It's a 3D silhouette of a female spinning, and depending on which side of the brain you favor, you will either see her spinning clockwise or counter-clockwise.
Bonus points if you stare at it long enough to see it go in the opposite direction, which is kinda freaky.
If this is to be believed, it was really interesting for me to discover that I'm actually right brained, having grown up with and studied very logic-based fields. I've always nurtured my affinity for computers, both in my hobbies, job and getting a bachelor's in computer science; and I've always enjoyed crunching numbers, which culminated in a bachelor's in finance. So I just naturally assumed I was left-brained.
But the characteristics of a right-brained person listed with the test more generally fit who I am. That's not to say I have no left-brain aptitude... in fact, a bunch of the left-brain characteristics also fit me well. It's just there wasn't anything on the right-brain that didn't describe my personality to (at minimum) some significant degree. Weird.
Of course, I also noticed that the female dancer's nipples are sticking out. Which, of course, means that Freud was right. As usual.
Aug 5, 2008
We're all familiar with The Legend of Zelda, a tale of the hero Link who saved the fair princess Zelda from the clutches of the evil Ganon. Tirelessly, our hero pursued his damsel in distress against all odds and saved the day.
Or so the history books tell us.
The true face of courage, altered to protect the innocent
The Unwind has secured an exclusive interview of one of the few remaining Octorok's left in Hyrule. For obvious reasons, he refused to give us his name or come out of hiding for fear of his own safety, but in this never-before-seen telephone transcript, we get a first-hand account of what really happened. What really transpired... may surprise you.
The Unwind: Thank you for the chance to speak with you, Mr...?
Octorok: Octorok's fine. Please, I'd prefer to not use my real name... he's still out there, you know.
TU: I'm sorry, who's out there?
O: Link. He's everywhere and nowhere. If he finds out that I've been speaking with you, he'll come after me and my family. Please! You can't let that happen.
TU: Certainly, we don't want that. Let's start at the beginning. Take us back, Octorok, back to when Ganon was in power. How was life in hyrule then?
O: Ah, the good old days. I remember them growing up, where the air was sweet and the daylight long. Our economy was starting to pick up and there was this air of optimism about life in general. We all thought the good times were still ahead of us, and that our children's future - even our children's children's future - was bright.
TU: Let me interrupt you there. You say this while Ganon, who by all measures was a force of evil, was in power. How do you explain that?
O: Listen, I'm not hear to make apologies for Lord Ganon. He was evil. He was a general prick. He assumed power when Hyrule didn't really need a ruler.
TU: And that's a good thing?
O: Oh, definitely not. But you know what? We adjusted. Turns out Ganon wasn't all that bad... well, as far as politicians go. Sure, we had to deal with taxes and the occasional backwards-logic decrees, but who doesn't? It could have been much, much worse. We still had roofs over our heads and food on our tables. With him as the nation's head we actually increased trade with neighboring lands as a result.
TU: So what happened?
O: With Ganon?
O: As I remember it, there was this elf named Link who was engaged to be married to Princess Zelda. Now, keep in mind Ganon is in power, so Zelda's not really the princess in the traditional sense. She had as much ruling power as the Queen of England does. It was an arranged marriage, and Zelda was more... progressive.
O: She didn't want to marry Link. I don't know if she hated the idea of arranged marriages or if she just didn't like Link, but it was obvious in all the paparazzi photos that she was miserable with him. Link must have had some serious connections to arrange something like that.
TU: What happened as a result?
O: Well, Zelda continued to be openly upset in the press for a few years. Then, she meets Ganon at a charity event, and they hit it off. Next thing you know, she gets up and leaves Link one day for Ganon. Just like that! I don't know if she saw something in his pig-snout, or if she was just making a power play, but soon after they could be seen everywhere on dates.
TU: So they were dating...
O: You know, fancy dinners, nights out on the town, that kind of stuff. They were living it up. It must have set them back quite a few rupees.
TU: How did this sit with Link?
O: Couldn't really tell at first. Obviously, you'd expect a man to be heartbroken over something like this, but he kept on for a while. He still helped out in his community, spoke at public events. Heck, he even starred in a summer blockbuster.
TU: Link was a movie star?
O: That's taking things a bit far. I mean with the Zelda scandal, his popularity shot through the roof, but he didn't have any talent. Think Arnold Schwarzenegger without muscles. He was unintentionally hilarious.
TU: So it sounded like Link actually did well for himself after Zelda left him.
TU: What happened?
O: No one really knows exactly what happened. Shortly after Ganon and Zelda settled down and bought a palace together, Link just... snapped.
O: Yeah, snapped. I guess he was really in love with Zelda and just couldn't take it anymore. He snapped. He started wearing all green - that haunting, bone-chilling green outfit - which we all thought was a publicity stunt at first.
TU: It wasn't?
O: If it was, it stopped being one once he started brandishing a sword. He... [getting audibly choked up] just... started killing. Remorselessly. Without prejudice.
TU: Do you have any idea why?
O: Not really. He was a man possessed, slaughtering anything that moved.
TU: Did anyone try to stop him?
O: The Moblin Army opposed him, but they were no match for him. I mean, Link was packing explosives, bows and arrows, boomerangs. And the lasers... they still give me nightmares to this day.
TU: How bad was it?
O: I lost all of my friends and most of family. My neighborhood was laid to waste. I can't remember how many times Link would... Link would walk around slaughtering everyone in an area. Then, he would leave for a few seconds, wait for a few people to come out of hiding and kill them. To what end?
This ghost town is all that remains of a once prosperous city
TU: So he'd just roam Hyrule killing for no apparent reason?
O: Not just the countryside, he'd walk into random palaces and kill everyone in there. Saying something about being on the quest for a "triforce" or something. He was insane, with a gaze that just pierced your soul.
TU: Where was Ganon in all this?
O: You ever have that friend who finds a new girlfriend or boyfriend, and shortly thereafter you never see them again? That was Ganon. He was probably shacking up with Zelda. Link eventually killed Lord Ganon, too.
TU: So who's ruling Hyrule now?
O: Link is, with an iron fist. He just kills for fun and rupees. I'm not even sure Zelda's still alive anymore, poor thing.
TU: Who's left for Link to be ruling at this point? I imagine it's tough to rule over dead people.
O: That doesn't seem to bother Link. I think there are a few Leevers still hiding in the sands somewhere. Link will find them eventually, and slaughter him. As well as my wife, son and me.
TU: How'd you guys survive it all?
O: Luckily, we have a summer home in the lost woods, that Link hasn't been able to find yet. We were able to sneak out in all the commotion.
TU: And you've been living there ever since?
O: I wouldn't call it living. Surviving. In fear. Do you know what it's like to have to explain to a terrified Larva that there is a green bogeyman out to get you? I haven't the heart to tell him it's a matter of when - not if - it happens.
TU: What made you share your story here with us today?
O: Because everyone has it all wrong, and I want to set the record straight. Link is a demon. He kills for the sheer joy of it now, and yet we're the ones who are called monsters. If nothing else, Link is living proof that there is no God in Hyrule. At least, not a benevolent one.
TU: Thank you for taking the time to speak with us today. I know you took a great risk in doing so.
O: Thank you.
TU: Good bye, and good luck.
Aug 4, 2008
In anticipation for the third season of Dexter, one of the best shows on television if you want my humble opinion, I wondered who would be Dexter Morgan's greatest adversary. After much thought, I figured his toughest challenge (besides trying to maintain a normal life) would be Hannibal Lecter.
Hannibal and Dexter are both charming, hyper intelligent serial killers. They both have a keen sense of the procedure of law and how to manipulate it. The two are evenly matched in just about every way.
One significant difference between the two is that Hannibal is a well-known serial killer, whereas Dexter's "extracirricular activity" isn't known to anyone still alive. So, presumably, if these two were to try to kill each other, Hannibal would also be wanted by law enforcement. Dexter, on the other hand, has to not tip off his friends and loved ones to his murderous ways, something Hannibal could potentially exploit.
I still give the nod to Dexter. Dexter's "code" dictates that he only target bad people, so presumably, Dexter would target Hannibal and make the first move. While he would be a formidable opponent, I think that's all Dexter would need to get the job done.
What say you?