Who is that guy?

If you met these two people on the street, would you be able to tell them apart?
My sister did a great post about my dad on veterans day. As part of it, she dug up an old picture of him in his uniform (she says ‘Navy’, I thought he was in the coast guard on tender duty, but I could be wrong). I actually haven’t seen this picture before (or if I did, I forgot about it), and I was immediately struck with the “Hey! That’s me!”
A little Gimp cutting and pasting, and there you have it.
Yes, I think this confirms it. I’m proud to say that man is definately my father, and I’m his son.
By the way, the source of the right hand side of that picture is this picture from when I was about 20, circa 1983.

Review: Cubis

Game: Cubis
Language: Java
Category: Puzzle
Tested on: Debian Linux + Firefox
Rating: 4 out of 5
Offered by: Yahoo Games (link)

Cubis is not a new game. I ran across it a year or two ago while trying to find games for my mom’s Mac, noted it was a Java game, and decided to check it out later. Now, while collecting pointers to webgames that will run on Mac or Linux machines, I went back and tried it out again.

The gist of Cubis is sort of a mix of Tetris, Sokoban, and Bejeweled. You are trying to match up colored blocks, par usual, but you do so by sliding them across a playing field. Blocks can bump into other blocks, push them out of the way, break them, or slide under them. Navigation is done via the mouse, with helpful highlighting marks showing where the blocks will slide

This is a beautifully rendered game. Sounds, visuals, and gameplay are very very well done. It has all the bells and whistles you’d expect from a complete game, with pause, tutorials, puzzle levels you can select, and so on. I found myself working through the tutorial again just for a refresher course, and playing more of the initial puzzle levels without succumbing to confusion or frustration. The game is just plain fun!

This is an excellent example of how a game can be written to be multiplatform, emminently playable, and quite enjoyable. Bravo to to Yahoo for publishing, and FreshGames for skill in writing such a well designed game.

Review: Jewel Quest

Language: Java
Category: Puzzle
Tested on: Debian Linux + Firefox
Rating: 2 out of 5
Offered by: Yahoo Games (link)

The world is full of gem-matching games. Since Popcap did their screamingly successful Bejeweled game lo these many years ago, zillions of folks have written similar “make 3 more of these thingies in a row” games.

Jewel Quest is a very simple adaptation of this game. It is well done, pretty, and easy to play, and in gameplay is identical to Bejeweled, except for one small change. To win the game, you need to turn all the squares in the game to gold. The squares change everytime you match up 3 or more jewels and score points.

I admit to being vaguely intrigued by the game because it had this interesting variation, which makes the game strategy more complex. You have to think ahead to find out what combinations will bring the little blinky skulls down to get rid of that last skull.

Alas, this small change to the basic structure of the game is not enough to hold the players attention more than a few minutes, and couple this with the games complete lack of any options whatsoever (you play or you don’t. You can’t pause, turn off the sound, change the skill level, or anything) makes this a quicky “Cute, but what else ya got?” game.

Armored tanks deployed to anti-war protest in LA

LOS ANGELES, November 9, 2004 – At 7:50 PM two armored tanks showed up at an anti-war protest in front of the federal building in Westwood. The tanks circled the block twice, the second time parking themselves in the street and directly in front of the area where most of the protesters were gathered. Enraged, some of the people attempted to block the tanks, but police quickly cleared the street. The people continued to protest the presence of the tanks, but about ten minutes the tanks drove off. It is unclear as to why the tanks were deployed to this location.
Video is available here: 5.8meg Quicktime (MOV) format
The video is disturbing to say the least. This was a peaceful protest. Why was the military called for a political rally? The only possible answer is intimidation. The question is, by whom? National Guard members? The local government? The police? The federal government?
Original article via LA Indy Media

Platform customized Google home pages

This morning saw the release of Firefox 1.0, a grand day for browsers everywhere. While I haven’t installed it yet myself (I’m still running PR1), we have been chatting about it online.
Firefox has as its default homepage “http://www.google.com/firefox” which in fact, brings up a modified Google search page that looks like Firefox’s default theme.
Catching the scent of geekitude, we set about finding other interesting pages:
http://www.google.com/firefox – The first one we found, Firefox themed.
http://www.google.com/mac – Macintosh themed
http://www.google.com/windows – Windows theme
http://www.google.com/palm – Simplified view – which carries through to search results. Very handy
http://www.google.com/itunes – Not sure about this one, it automatically brings you through to Google Adwords.
http://www.google.com/linux – Tux goes Google!
http://www.google.com/ie – For that, other, less well known browser.
I wonder where Google is going with this? It seems incomplete and inconsistent. Unusual for Google.
Update 11/09/2004 12:55pm…
A few more fun bits were located by Tim and others…
http://www.google.com/bsd – Chuck has his own Google logo!
http://www.google.com/unclesam – For the patriots
http://www.google.com/universities.html – This one may not count, it’s an HTML page (doesnt’ work without the HTML), but it is a search interface to college sites.
Should be noted that Google has a webpage that mentions some (but not all) of these sites here.

Danger! Danger!

According to Astraware, a new version of the extremely addictive game “Bejeweled” is due for release in December.

Dubbed Bejeweled 2, the feature set is rumored to include:

  • Explosive new pieces: Power Gems, Hyper Cubes and Time Bombs
  • Stunning special effects
  • Awe-inspiring planetary backdrops
  • Four ways to play: Classic, Action, Puzzle and Endless
  • Five secret game play modes to unlock
  • Explore a galaxy of hand-crafted brain-teasers in Puzzle mode
  • Play for eternity and collect jewelry in relaxing Endless mode
  • Enhanced sound effects and epic soundtrack

Going by how addictive the original game is, I should simply chalk off December and assume no work will get done at all.

New MovableType version

This weekend blog goddess Lisa spent a couple hours and upgraded the blogging software that drives Planet Geek and my business site Stonekeep Consulting. It was a bit of a rocky upgrade, but tonight everything is up and running properly.
A HUGE thanks to her and all the work put in. Yay!
One sideline… MovableType can now use TypeKey to verify people posting comments on the site. This is a way to help cut down the amount of blog spam my site gets (hundreds of attempted posts per day). If you don’t use TypeKey, comments postings will remain ‘queued’ until I approve them, so things posted may take a bit of time to appear.

XM Radio

I just got back from running registration at a customers event down in Washington, DC. Jonah generously agreed to be my second, as well as let us use his truck for hauling the equipment to and from the event. One of the nifty toys he has installed in the car is an XM Radio SkyFI receiver.
For the uninitiated, XM Radio is one of 2 satellite radio systems available that provide full time access to hundreds of radio stations from anywhere in the continental US. I had been intrigued by this concept for a while, but the cost of the receivers and the monthly fee (around $10) sort of scared me off.
Since this was a longish (7 hours) road trip each way, I had plenty of time to get a feel for the system.
I’m impressed! On the way south, we chatted a lot, so we left the receiver quietly playing 80s tracks. The unit rebroadcasts the reception via a local FM signal, so it was simply sitting on the dash playing through the cars stereo via the radio. The XM display would show what song by what artist was playing (in that nifty amber LCD display). Unobtrusive, no commercials (other than ones for XM itself), nice!
On the way back I did a lot of driving while Jonah slept, so I noodled around with the receiver, checking out other channels. The unit has a jog-dial on it that shows what station you’re tuning to, and the title and content. Blues, various rock stations, a couple different Jazz stations… then it got interesting.
Various news feeds (MSNBC, CNN, etc), a couple comedy stations and… whoah! NPR!! There is a full NPR feed as part of the lineup. We listened to This American Life as well as some other shows. The signal was strong, clean, and we were able to listen to it from the middle of New Jersey all the way into Massachusetts – something you can’t do with any local radio station, let alone NPR.
Okay, so that’s pretty neat. But it just got better. XM Radio is preparing to release MyFI, a portable XM radio receiver the size and shape of an iPod. It’s somewhat expensive ($349), and not out yet, but it’s mobile, rechargeable, dockable, and pretty durned sexy.
If XM were to ever get Radio Paradise as an active channel, there would be no question, I’d be there in an instant. As it is now, I’m just screamingly tempted. Heck, just for the regular drives we do up to Maine during the summer, having regular, dependable radio reception from door to door would be wonderful. And with something like the MyFI, we could put it in any vehicle we happen to be driving up in.

Your order has been shipped: (#011-412-1515)

From: 	Order Notification (orders@TheMan.com)
To: 	unsuspecting populace (minions@unwashedmasses.com)
Subject: 	Your order has shipped (#011-412-1515) (fwd)
Date: 	Wed, 3 Nov 2004 11:50:38 -0500
Greetings from The Great American Experiment.
We thought you'd like to know that we shipped this portion of your
order separately to give you quicker service.  You won't be charged
any extra shipping fees, and the remainder of your order will follow
as soon as those items become available.
You can track the status of this order, and all your orders, online by
visiting Your Account at http://tinyurl.com/6272p
There you can:
* Track order and shipment status
* Review estimated delivery dates
* Wonder how the rest of the world sees this
* And do many more things except materially affect the election outcome
The following items were included in this shipment:
Qty      Item                           Price  Shipped  Subtotal
1        Fear                           $11.20   1      $11.20
1        Nausea and Incredulity         $13.95   1      $13.95
1        5 Stages of Grief              $19.99   1      $19.99
Item Subtotal:  $47.14
Shipping & Handling:  $5.25
Shipping Savings: -$0.99
Total:  $51.40
Paid by Visa:  $51.40
You have only been charged for the items sent in this shipment.
(Per our policy, you only pay for items when we ship them to you.)
The following items will ship separately, as soon as they're available:
Qty      Item                           Price  Not Yet Shipped
1     Presidential Inauguration      $49.99      1
3     Supreme Court Nomination       $24.99      3
This shipment was sent to:
Americans and Concerned Friends Worldwide
via USPS (estimated delivery date: January 20th, 2004).
For your reference, the number you can use to track your package is
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The Great American Experiment

(Thanks to Adam Hirsch for this)

Depressed? Go see Keef!

I’m totally putting the current election nightmare out of my mind and getting on with my life. We survived the last 4 years, we’ll survive the next 4.
I did however get some very good news in my mail this morning. Keith Knight, the artist behind the K Chronicles, is going to be in Boston! He’s doing a bunch of touring about, here’s the info that went out in his mailing:

i’ll be swingin’ on through a few of the cities that run one or both of my strips. if you haven’t seen my slideshow, ya gots ta check it out. favorite strips… censorship stories…shocking, controversial stuff..here’s the info i’ve got so far:
*SALT LAKE CITY, UT 11/9/04 7:30pm @ Westminster College, 1840 South 1300 East- FREE, ALL AGES EVENT
*CAMBRIDGE, MA 11/20/04 2-4pm @ Million Year Picnic, 99 Mt. Auburn St. Harvard Square-FREE, ALL AGES EVENT
*NEW YORK CITY 11/21/04 8pm @ Jigsaw Gallery, 526 E. 11th St.(between A & B)- FREE, ALL AGES EVENT

I hope I’ll be able to make it, he’s a great cartoonist.
*UPDATE: Did you know that Keef has a blog? I didn’t! He writes some good stuff.

Happy Evolution Client Performance Fixes!

A while back I had a hard system shutdown due to a battery failure, which ended up trashing some of the setup in Evolution, my mail client. I got it sort of running again, and restored backups of my calendar and my contact list, but I was having abysmal performance problems. Things were just deathly slow.
I reverted to using Pine for a while, which was fine, but I found myself -seriously- missing my address book and calendar. I guess I’ve been successfully reprogrammed.
Anyway, this morning I sat down to figure out my performance problems. I do everything in Evolution via IMAP (as I believe all mail clients should). No folders or information is stored locally, except instructions to the mail client as to where to go to find the IMAP mailboxes.
One of the settings in Evolution tells it that whenever it does something, it shoudl not only scan the inbox for new messages, but also scan all my subfolders. I had inadvertently set this option ‘on’. So everytime Evolution did something with the IMAP server, it scanned all my folders. And baby, I have a LOT of large mail folders.
Unchecked that option, and Evolution veritably -leaped- back into workable performance realms. I am a happy man.