Archive for the 'General' Category

On daylight savings time

So, it’s daylight savings time! With the arrival of this anti-holiday comes the realization that I do not own a single gadget which doesn’t automatically adjust for the new time. (The future is here! I thought it’d be shinier.)

With this knowledge however, comes the lingering, creeping doubt that they’ll actually update and wake me up on time. I live in a rectangular structure of cinderblocks which eats cell phone and radio signals. What if it hinders the Martian signals? Also, the change comes at two Ante Meridiem. Who wants to be awake then? What device would ever update at that unearthly hour? It’s all a conspiracy!

Of these things and many more, we must distrust our electronics. I know not when the robot uprising will occur, but chances are that half of them will show up an hour late.


In Which Windows 7 Bug Reports Happen

I have begun to submit Windows 7 bug reports. I’m sure Microsoft loves me all the more for this gesture.


It is possible to drag a window beneath the taskbar. It is visible beneath the glistening surface of the taskbar, like a moose encased in ice.

Please to be seeing picture:

Reflections on “Reflections on Gaza”

Last year, Barack Obama made the comment that “no one has suffered more than the Palestinians.” Personally, I would have thought the Jews would also be likely candidates for the title, what with that whole Holocaust thing around World War II, and being constantly attacked by Palestinians, and all that.

So maybe Israel isn’t too popular in the civilized world right now. The uncivilized one either, actually. It seems like people are going a bit hard on them though. I mean, there was massive public outcry about “breaking international law” when they Israel invaded Gaza. Never mind that Hamas broke it months ago (and continues to break it) by repeatedly firing rockets from Gaza into highly populated non-military related Israeli areas. The word “terrorism” gets tossed around a lot, but Hamas activity does seem to fit the bill.

That’s why I’m slightly confused when I read things like this.

  • Dropping leaflets asking civilians to stay away from dangerous places is bad? I mean, it seems like an obvious thing, but Hamas keeps staking out in heavily populated areas. It’s not exactly propaganda either…
  • I’m not entirely sure why Israel is  denying journalists access to the strip. They might be concerned about Hamas getting too much information about their military activity. If you’ll remember, the US did something similar two days into the Iraq invasion. I’m not saying it’s right, I’m just saying it’s understandable.
    • Alternatively, they might just want to avoid inevitable headlines like, “Journalist Killed as Israel Continues Gaza Terrorism”
  • The Britain/France analogy doesn’t work, because Britain hasn’t been launching missiles into high-population civilian areas in France. They also haven’t been using civilians as human shields and setting up command centers in populated civilian apartment buildings.
  • Hey, if militants in a school are lobbing mortars at you, there are only so many options. It was tragic, and Israel should have a better plan for such situations, but at least some of the blame should go to Hamas here. What did they think was going to happen? It didn’t improve the world’s opinion of Israel when they tried it. It’s just messy all around.

So, right. I’m definitely not the best person to be making commentary on international affairs. We now return you to your regularly scheduled blog.

Retro Remakes 2008 Competition

Every year, Retro Remakes runs a video game remake competition. There are typically about fifty completed entries or so, all in a handy list with download links. It’s like Christmas in July! I mean, December.

New this year there were two new categories which allowed for mashups of existing classics and “remakes” of games which didn’t actually exist. In my humble opinion, some of the best entries this year fell into those categories. Allow me to present three of my favorites.

Blast Passage


Very little to say about this one; it’s exactly what it looks like. It’s Gauntlet mixed with Bomber Man, complete with LAN play. Tell me that’s not an amazing concept. It’s Java and runs in a web browser, so it should be fairly cross platform.

Download: Page 4



Metroid meets Tetris. The heart of the game is classic Metroid, but all the powerups are now tetris pieces. You have to fit them into block segments which seal off new areas in order to advance. It’s rather clever; I especially like how some sections require the player to shoot the right piece into the wall to serve as a platform. The music is also brilliant.

Download: Page 4



This is an extremely interesting entry. It’s very simple; just a run and jump platformer with one enemy type and simple graphics. The genius is that each individual enemy unit is more powerful than the player, and it has an AI system. If the player opens fire, the enemy will either retreat and take cover, or jump and counter attack. If the player starts running away, enemies will emerge from cover on lower platforms and pursue their target like carnivorous rabbits. Yet, the AI is just unpredictable enough to keep things interesting. I love all the applications of game theory here.

Retroman is relatively difficult. An individual enemy, while comparatively easy to outwit, takes several hits to destroy and can kill the player in a single shot. I spent twenty minutes or so attempting to pass the first level; I’ve got no idea if there are any others.

Download: Page 5

Of course, your tastes will certainly differ from mine, and I haven’t had the time or inclination to play all of the entries. If you find something exceptional, feel free to call it out in the comments. 🙂

The Hitchhiker’s Guide on Zombies

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy has this to say on Zombie combat

Zombies typical and primary means of attack are their talons; ideal for pulling their body across miles of scorching Saharan desert, capturing lovely fishes, and obtaining brains from various locales. A secondary attack is the deadly bite which, for dramatic purposes (27), is frequently hidden by the biteie so that he may turn in front of all his remaining friends at the climax of the story.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy has this to say on Killing Zombies

The zed may be defeated by severing the connection between the brain and body. Alternatively, the brain may be perforated repeatedly to inhibit natural functions, customarily with a large gage ceremonial shotgun; the sort which is chronically low on ammunition.

A lesser known (though arguably more effective) weapon is the Earthdate 1990 era music video “Never Gonna Give You Up“, performed by Earthman Rick Ashley. While a low-grade weaponized edition of the song was tested with satisfactory results on a small selection of lone zeds, it is currently unknown what effects it would have on an entire horde.

A well known rumor holds that distinguished researchers of the Runge-Kutta star-system once produced an atomic dance remix of the tune. Further, it holds that the galactic council was thrown into an uproar at it’s premier and, in a rare fit of ethics, immolated it on the spot for the good of the universe.
It is the opinion of The Guide that such an outlandish rumor is untrustworthy and should be put to rest. The council is not renown for it’s ethos.

GLDirect – OpenGL to DirectX Converter

Attention internet! If you have an ATi Xpress 200, Xpress 200m, Xpress 1100, or Xpress 1100m graphics card affected by the OpenGL firmware bug, this is for you. I stumbled across it randomly; it’s called GLDirect. It converts system calls to OpenGL into DirectX calls. So, if you can run DirectX games fine but you’ve been having trouble with horrible (read: completely unplayable) performance in Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, Neverwinter Nights, Savage, or another OpenGL game, give it a whirl.

I’d love to test it, but I no longer have the time or the affected hardware in question. If you try it, let me know how it works for you in the comments. Thanks!

The deal with Linux music players

In reply to this guy, who should really either open up comments or allow trackbacks.


Congratulations! Different shades for different people. I personally enjoy not having to mess around with file hierarchies, but whatever works for you.

What we really need is a Linux port of foobar2000; the Windows version is extremely customizable and behaves exactly like the user wants it to. I’ve been known to run it in Wine occasionally in lieu of using a native player; it’s just that good.

Blatant plug!
Think about it, internets! A clone of the Foobar2000 interface using XMMS2 written in Python or LUA that is extensible using plugins. Tell me that wouldn’t be amazing.

The real issue I have with Linux music players is that only XMMS and derivative players actually have integrated equalizers. What’s the deal with that? An equilizer is pretty much essential for listening to any music at all on a laptop.

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