Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Home on the range

The title says it all. Finally home after almost 3 weeks straight on the road. Got back from calgary the night of the 9th, and left on the 11th to my parents place. left there on the 20th via the train and got home the 21st.

The train ride was nice, although not particularly restful. i think i would have gotten almost as much sleep in coach, but i guess i didnt have to deal with as many annoying people, so it was worth it. on the way back we got to ride in a newer train, with many fancy new features and a slightly better suspension. flat screen tvs and a nicer bar area to relax in, but no dome car unfortunately.

Family seems to be doing allright. mom and dad have more cats than ever before, topping out at 19. its only a matter of time till they round up to a more even 20. still not going to exchange gifts with them, the donations will have to do. however i did get things for loraleis family. the shopping experience this year was almost completely unenjoyable, im not sure im willing to do that ever again. it was nice when i didnt have to go out into a crowded mall searching for inspiration while dealing with the general publics stupidity. donations all around next year.

All the christmas shopping is done now, and its a damn good thing. getting anywhere in ottawa when its snowing takes about 5x as long as it should. people here are bad drivers, and the snow accentuates that fact. im sure people everywhere are bad drivers, but the worst driver is always in front of you somehow.

I finally got my xbox 360! it arrived just as i got back from calgary, so i really only had a day to play with it and then i hit the train for pei. but now i finally get some time to play it and relax. its a great console. i picked up a bunch of games: call of duty 2, project gotham racing 3, cameo elements of power. all pretty decent. also picked up a bunch of older xbox games to add to my collection: jade empire, the grand theft auto trilogy, halo 2, SSX on tour, and crimson skies. all of them work except for SSX on tour, which will probably be working shortly. they update the emulation software for the old xbox fairly frequently.

Xbox live is pretty impressive. i like how it keeps track of all your acheivements. its how online gaming should be done, with voip and email and all that good stuff. it remains to be seen how well sony is going to do online gaming with their console, but i think its going to be pretty hard to beat live. a consistent online gaming environment is paramount to success of any nextgen console i would think, and i hope sony gets it right this time.

so the controller is wonderful and wireless and ill never ever go back to wired controllers again. the headset pops into the controller and its all transmitted wirelessly too. it even goes so far as to separate the voicechat to only be heard through the headset and not the speakers. i like how microsoft is selling all these little games now through live arcade (eg: bejeweled, hexic, etc.) i think theres a great market for them, and the muliplayer matchmaking from live makes it that much better. just download and play in about 5 minutes, now you'll never need to leave your flat. the icing on the cake though is gauntlet and smashtv are now on live arcade and with full multiplayer. i remember how hard it was to get 4 players to play together on the old arcade machines, but now its a snap.

missed out on snowboarding for the first time today. i was going to wait for nick to get home to go to pakenham for some night skiing since the conditions are PERFECT. however i was off at 3:30, and nick didnt end up getting home till 7:30, and night skiing ends at 10, so there was no point in going then. let this be a lesson to me, never wait for nick to go snowboarding. nick will be at least an hour later than i think hes going to be, and ill end up wasting my time. oh well, i guess tomorrows another day.

work is slowing down, unsuprisingly. next monday and tuesday are stat holidays, and most people have the rest of that week off. someones bringing in their 360 to hook up to the projector at work, since there wont be anything to do, but we all want to bill for the time anyhow. today was more drinks at lunch, to celebrate the winter solstice. apparently christmas may have originated as an innacurate solstice celebration, back in the day. or was conveniently moved to co-locate with a solstice celebration. ill drink to that.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

On the road again

Life on the run.

I'm out in the Calgary office of GD right now. fun stuff. It's good to get out and see a new city.. Calgary seems pretty great. Who knows, might move out here someday. You can never really complain about canadian cities, theyre all pretty nice in their own way, none of them are particularly dirty or dangerous. and theyre all usually no more than 20 minutes to a decent park for outdoor adventures.

Banff in particular is quite amazing, one of the highlights of my trip out here. went up on the gondola and dunked in the hot springs. I'll definitely be back to explore this summer at some point, and I'm bringing my hiking legs with me.

So I'm staying at the quality inn here in calgary, which really is a misnomer. It's not very quality at all. but it is cheap. and all i really need is somewhere to rest my head.

Another good point for calgary is that Alberta has no PST, and it made it saved me a few bucks when I did all my shopping out here :) The problem now becomes how do i get all this stuff back? I was considering abusing the interoffice overnight freight, but i guess i should stay above board.

Calgary has a pretty enormous game store, the sentry box. I picked up a few games that i havent been able to find in ottawa's fandom II. considering this was following a previous game buying binge, ill have new games to play well into the new year.

After all this running about to calgary and whatnot I'm more than ready for vacation, which starts this friday. taking the train home which should prove relaxing, maybe ill get to crack a book for a change.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Battle.net blues

So since I've been playing Warcraft 3 on battle.net, I've noticed a few things.

Most everyone on battle.net is a kid, or at least acts like one. impatient, immature, ignorant. They also fall into 2 categories from there, which is "pro" or "noob". im afraid im in the noob category compared to some of these lifetime battle.net pros. I'm sure theyve been there since the day it came out. but there are worse noobs than me, unfortunately.. and whenever i get in a game with them i have to smile because they make me look better ;)

The downside to legitimately purchasing blizzards Warcraft 3 is that since they have battle.net, they eliminated the ability to connect peer-to-peer tcp/ip connections. so no more "lan" games with your friends across your internet connections. although I think I've figured out that we can hook up a windows VLAN, and that might actually work. but its a much bigger pain in the ass than the ability to connect to a specific IP. battle.net is also not that great when it comes to matchmaking or finding the games that you want. its uncategorized, so basically thousands upon thousands of people get put into the same chat room.

the custom games is where my interest in warcraft 3 really is. the original game is pretty boring but people have come up with some ideas to add depth of gameplay and replayability to it. one particular favorite map, dota-allstars, is obviously the most popular custom game online. but there are lots of other interesting ones. TD (Tower defense), where you basically build towers and defend waves upon waves of enemies. there are many different flavors of TD, they're all pretty good, and i dont have time to try ALL of them. theres also something called battleships that i really like. basically DOTA and Battleships! take out the tedium in a warcraft game. you just control one hero or ship, and the computer takes care of unit production, so theres basically an equal force of baddies streaming out from opposing forces and cancelling each other out, except for your intervention. you only control your one unit, and its upgrades, and try to stem the tide and give your side an advantage.

So I'm determined to learn how to snowboard this year. I've done some reading on how to teach yourself basic turning and control, so i guess ill just go from there. in addition to that, the people i met at the LAN party last week are planning on going weekly, so i think ill try and join that group. going out soon to buy a board, bindings and boots. possibly goggles too. i didnt have much trouble learning skiing, and i was really enjoying it except i didnt really have anyone to go with the past 2 seasons. Loralei won't come within 1km of a ski hill ever again, no matter how much i nag her. she had a bad experience on the bunny hill once and figures thats the end of it. i figure everyone falls down their first day, but i guess it deters some more than others.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Gaming Spree

So, I've almost started a new job. it all depends on me getting the controlled goods clearance, which shouldnt be a problem. the interesting bit about this contract is that theyre paying me weekly. im used to getting paid with a 2 month delay, so its definitely going to be different... but good, especially since christmas is coming up.

I should be saving my money for a proper house, but i think we may end up renting a townhouse just for convenience for another year or two. I was talking with melanie, loraleis sister, and shes only paying about 90 bucks a month more than what im paying now for my 2 bedroom apartment. and for that she gets a full townhouse, huge basement, washer and dryer, dishwasher, and more living room, dining room, etc. basically more of everything. which would make life so much more comfortable till i get enough saved up to buy a house.

of course when i know ive got money coming i have to go out and spend a bit, because ive been holding out trying to conserve. so i got a new creative X-fi soundcard, a few pc games, and some boardgame expansions.

for the creative x-fi soundcard, i just bought it to replace my onboard soundcard which might be good, but it has bugs and they havent updated the drivers in a year. so i decided id go out and get something that will hopefully last another oh... 10 years or so. soundcards dont really change that much so it wont likely be obselete for a very very long time.

as far as how i like the card.. i don't. its better than my on board one, but its not necessarily good either. it sounds nice, but it took me about an hour to get the speakers set up properly with it. instead of installing software from the cd, i figured id just go download the new stuff from their site and skip installing all the crap. WRONG. apparently the software you download from the website doesn't have even a basic speaker connection test, and a lot of the options arent available. so back to the cd, and then update, theres an hour wasted. the card itself sounds good, but the software is crap. i dont need another media player/music library organizer, why does everyone think i need another media player? and as far as the actual hardware goes it was pretty simple to set up except it has one less jack in the back than the audigy and sblive and every other soundcard. which is exactly one less than it needs. bastards!

my audio connection is discreet 6 channel, meaning that 3x 2 channel wires go between 3 jacks on the soundcard, to the speaker amp. no problem. but theres only 4 jacks. so..... where do i plug in my headset? i can either plug in my headphones, OR my mic. not both. ONE MORE DAMNED JACK. of course if i had payed out another 100 bucks to creative to get the next step up, i would have gotten a front panel that would be worthless except for it would have the one more jack that i need.

another knock against creative and their shitty soundcards is their lack of proper dolby digital encoding. they have a digital spdif output on the back of their card, but this only supports 2 channels, unless youre playing dvds and passing the DTS/DD signal through. this hasnt changed in years. i have an onboard nvidia soundstorm which does dolby encoding, which was GREAT! one wire, 5 channels, fucking fantastic. why hasnt creative done this? it seems like the obvious choice since a ton of new speaker sets support digital, why not make use of it? IDIOTS.

anyhow thats my soundcard rant, i hate it but ill probably put up with it for another few years.

new expansions for memoir 44 the military strategy boardgame came out. i got 2 of them but i didnt buy an extra board. new miniatures and new scenarios and terrain tiles. fun stuff.

also picked up an expansion for puerto rico which adds a bunch of new buildings to the game. definitely increased the replay value there. i think its still tops on my list of favorite boardgames of all time.

i went to this lan party this weekend, which was kinda fun. i havent done that in ages. got to play some warcraft 3 on the lan, and some unreal tournament 2004. i had so much fun with warcraft 3 and the custom games that i had to go out and buy myself a legit copy and get on to battle.net :) other legit purchases include neverwinter nights diamond. it includes the original game and 3 expansion campaigns for the low low price of $30. now it is a 3 year old game but its a fantastic adventure engine, which has withstood the test of time. and you really cant beat the price for the amount of content you get. now if only neverwinter nights 2 would come out it would be even prettier than the engine they used for knights of the old republic.. droooool.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Take this job and shove it

Well, i finally got around to quitting my crappy old job. i was a softie about it though. they really wanted me to stay, so i stayed an extra week beyond my 2 weeks notice just to help them out.

what i found really ridiculous about the whole thing was the building pass. at dnd, things are pretty locked down, so you can't really go anywhere without a building pass. cant go to the kitchen, cant go to the can. i waited 2 months to get a building pass, and there was still no sign that the process had even started. with no building pass, work=jail. except that in jail you dont need an escort to go to the bathroom.

so i did a few interviews around ottawa, and im getting more calls every week. things are looking up for getting another job in the oct-nov timeframe, which is good, more money for christmas! i still havent decided what to do gift wise for this christmas. the donations thing is kinda good, but it sort of changes the feel of christmas a little. last year i donated all my gift money to heart and stroke research, cause my dads got a bum ticker.

so other than that, ive been catching up on my gaming lately and taking it easy.

watched a few movies lately.. since we visited the pacific mall in toronto and got some "discount" dvds. for whatever reason we picked up "alexander", which wouldnt have been worth it if it was free. in fact i want the actors to pay me for the time i wasted watching it. boooooring. and it was also quite gayed up.

on the flipside, the warriors, is one of those retro movie classics that recently got a special edition released because of rockstar toronto making a video game out of it. pretty rockin if you like 70's street gangs beating the hell out of each other.

have a big pile of movies we haven't gotten around to watching yet either, i think next up is layer cake.

and with the christmas rush of video games this year, i decided id blow a few bucks on a new dvd-rw drive. my old 4x was a bit slow, so i picked up a 12x. i was a bit hesitant thinking my 4x media likely wouldnt write at full speed, but to my suprise the drive writes on my kodak media perfectly at full speed. which is good considering i just bought about 200 of them.

i think ill try to update this thing more frequently than every 3 months.. maybe once a week is a good target to aim for :)

Monday, July 11, 2005

Battlecrack 2

So I've been addicted to the new Battlefield 2 like it was crack lately. even though it has some pretty horrible bugs in it, which I will go into here shortly.

1 - server browser in game doesn't work. it freezes up for long periods of time doing the simplest of things, such as sorting by ping. some of the filters for the server browser also don't work.. the actually have no code behind them whatsoever. so you want to see no full servers? thats tough, that checkmark box hasnt been implemented yet, but we put it there for you to see, because we're planning on making it functional later. maybe. if we feel like it. the server browser from bf1942 never got fixed, so i dont know how much hope to hold out for this one.

2 - server lag issues. really great ping times to servers, but the hardware that some hosting companies are putting these servers on is woefully inadequate. also some new memory leak issues causing server slowdown over time has been proven, but thats the server hosting companys fault for not regularly restarting the servers. and EA's fault for not testing for memory leaks.

3 - allies appearing red (as opposed to blue), which results in several people teamkilling them, over and over and over. this bug happens sometimes when the server switches your team for you, or you try and switch teams. either way, its really annoying when it does happen, for all parties involved.

4 - public servers full of idiots. lets break this down into sub-sections

a) when laying landmines around to protect a particular flag from armored vehicles and buggies, your teammates get to see a big red skull and crossbones indicating where the mines are. so theres NO EXCUSE when people drive transports full of your teammates over these mines, giving you loads of teamkills. public server morons head towards the red skull and crossbones as if they were pinatas, and they get candy when they run them over.

b) also, theres a choice of whether or not to punish a teamkill in this game, but public server fucktards ALWAYS punish. which results in you getting kicked off the server for their own stupidity (in the case of landmines, and claymores) also a kudos to those teammates smart enough to wander aimlessly in front of the tank/apc/jet you're driving.

c) team balance and sportsmanship. there is none. there is the odd time ill get on and have a good even fight, but a lot of the time, one team totally dominates the other, round after round, map after map. a word on sportsmanship.. its not sporting to totally dominate one team back into their only uncappable flag, and then artillery that flag continuously, when the team has already failed miserably. but there is no such thing in online gaming because its full of idiots.

Another lazy weekend. played some pirates cove, and decided I was too lazy to drag my ass out to bluesfest to see neko case, the sadies, and several other misc. acts. Maybe I'll get down to it this wednesday and thursday when buck 65, the dears, and some other misc stuff happens. I'm always so lazy in ontario summers. its either way too hot to do anything, or its raining. i miss the pei weather. I only actually go outside in the spring or fall, and skip summer and winter almost entirely.

speaking of pei, I'll be taking the first week of august and heading down with nick, casper, and loralei. i think a rental van might make the long trip more comfortable, so thats one possibility. and itll save me some miles on my car, so thats a good thing too. I dont think i did a summer trip to pei last year, so im really looking forward to it this year.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

More project updates

well, I got some more work done.

the phpirc client is in a working state, although it still needs a lot of work done to it. add some commands, better support for multiple channels, and a nicer interface.

i finished modifying imagevue so that it works with my rogers photo site. my scripts actually go out and parse rogers site and grab all the important data, and output .XML, which imagevue then uses. I'll release the code to parse rogers site to .xml soon. unfortunately, my site isnt the best to demo the technology on, because on rogers, all my photos are between 2 and 5 mb (HUGE). if you were to have a look at it, i suggest starting with "other peoples european pics" because theyre at least in some smaller format.

I may tear down my rogers site and re-upload everything at a reasonable size at some point.

It's also quite slow. retrieving and parsing each album takes some time, so i just have it cache the .xml files locally. also when creating the thumbnail pictures the first time its viewed, it has to suck the whole image down to the webserver and resize it. but after that its fine. one could go to the trouble of pre-creating all the thumbnails, but its going to happen automatically anyhow.

Also, after i posted the CSS mockup of tomes, i looked at it in IE and realized that its not the right version i posted. i had made one that looked almost exactly the same in IE and firefox. ill find the correct version and replace it soon.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Projects update

Just a quick post about what I've been working on lately for kicks.

I created this script on friday night when i couldn't sleep. It takes animated .gif files and converts them to halflife animated textures for use as sprays in counter-strike: source. the interface isnt too fancy, but it gets the job done. ordinarily converting animated gifs is a pain because you have to resize and split the image into .tga's, then download the source sdk and figure out how to use the resource compiler. this automates that whole process, so im going through and converting some of my favorite animated gifs from ytmnd. :)

Another project I've been working on is PHP:IRC. An IRC client written in PHP as the name might suggest. I've based my code on the current php:irc applet, and more or less re-wrote the whole thing to a working state. its functional now, but i need to add a few more things in and pretty it up before showing it off. i'd say this is the project ive learned the most off of, because ive never done a streaming html page before, or 2 scripts sharing session variables in real time (needed for posting the input). The main reason for this was the lack of a working web-based irc client. by web based i mean the webserver makes the connection to the irc server for you, circumventing corporate firewall restrictions. the applet from sourceforge was in an unworkable state previously, which is a terrible thing for something thats released to the public. i also tried cgi:irc, which isnt portable to windows, and im definitely not wasting my time writing in shitty perl to fix it.

Yet another project i haven't finished yet is a small script that goes to my rogers photo site, retrieves all the albums listed there, and retreives all the images in the album. fortunately yahoo/rogers has no referrer protection (yet), so this allows me to create my own front-end for my rogers photo storage, so i can make it look like whatever i want, and still have all the data pulled from their servers instead of wasting my bandwidth. im still undecided as to where to go with this, maybe exporting to a standard .xml data to suck into some other album such as imagevue or something. or i could create an album script again, from scratch, with CSS and XML support and all that.

Oh and speaking of CSS, here's the mockup of tomes2 I did in CSS. its much smaller and easier to work with (code wise), and it more or less replicates all formatting from the current tomes site, and is compatible in both browsers. it took a little doing, since IE is buggy when it comes to CSS interpretation. firefox is right on the mark though, so I develop with that then work back to IE.

More to come. I'm really enjoying getting a few of these scripts done, theyre fun to work on.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

The cycle continues

Long weekends rock. It should be monday, but in fact its tuesday, which means the lost finale is tomorrow. (I had previously been mistaken, i though the lost finale was last week)

Good long weekend, got lots of gaming in, and a bbq over at jeremy and lauries place. fishtanks are now cleaned out and have fish in them, although i think one has a slow leak. kind of annoying.

saw starwars, and hitchhikers guide to the galaxy this week. starwars was good, it was the story i was expecting with great special effects and visuals. hitchhikers guide wasnt as good as i thought it would be. but its not a bad movie. because of the length of movies, they had to cut a LOT out. unfortunately most of the funny bits were in the dialogue they cut out, so it doesnt have the same effect. but it is cool to visualize, and the selection of actors was good.

more about starwars.. they created an animated series to fill in the gap between episode 2 and episode 3, so some people might have been lost as to where the movie was starting, but i understood :) "clone wars" the animated bit was annoying to watch on tv because of the short animated bits preceeded and followed by annoying commercials and animated intros and outros. a lot of filler and very little content. but when you download them from the internet, with all the crap edited out, it makes for a better viewing experience :) i can only hope the starwars tv series is going to be good, but i have my doubts.

So after lost is done, tv is done for the summer. thats all ive been watching anyhow. not many shows worth watching these days. the new family guy episodes and office kind of interest me but not enough to actually go out of my way and turn the tv on.

I've been doing a lot of scripting work lately. writing visual basic document automation for the project at work. there tends to be a lot of monotonous tasks that can be performed by VB quite easily in our documentation work. and the more automated we can get the documents, the better, because it eliminates the human typos... or at least, it propagates them exactly as they were :)

And in other projects ive picked up someones project called php:irc from sourceforge. its an irc client that runs server side. so the jist of it is that you can still irc even if your network administrator doesnt allow irc ports out from your network. its quite a mess, so theres a lot of work to be done, but its a good pet project to work with, and it gives me some practice working with a streaming page that i havent really done before. the project is loosely based on cgi:irc, but thats perl (yuck), and written using un-portable unix socket code. hooray for stinky, bearded, smug unix nerds. you can take your unusable OS and stuff it.

I'll post a link to the project when im done. and some other stuff im working on like my adventures in CSS. soon.

in other creative news, i took the old keyboard that someone had left from the other apartment, and got a midi to usb interface cable.. and hooked it into fruityloops. now all i have to do is learn how to play the keyboard again. fruityloops is really really great though for sequencing, and it makes the keyboard extrordinarily useful, as it has a ton of drum synths, samples, and other stuff that make the creation process very easy. and enough features to make it very flexible as a professional production studio.

And i bought myself a pen tablet. i dont know if ill use it much, but i have been doing some pixelart and other things, so im going to try and do some drawing on the PC and see what i can come up with. also a lot of practice there to be done. but maybe someday ill come up with something good, who knows :)

Monday, May 16, 2005

I thought it'd be fun and exciting, you know, like that movie, "Spaceballs"

It's going to be an exciting week i guess. :) Lost season finale, starwars episode 3, and battlefield 1942.

Lost: WHATS IN THE GODDAMN HATCH ALREADY?! the writers have danced around the hatch for enough episodes. just open it. it better be open the next episode or im going to stop watching. ok well, theres not going to be anything to watch all summer anyhow, but it would be nice if they got a little bit of resolution going in that dept.

I say evil clones of everyone that died on the island are going to pop out of the hatch, so they can work boone back into the plot somehow. I also have a theory about the whole island and the giant monster rustling the trees. if youve ever played the game "black and white" it seems there could be some similarity there. some greater being leading locke around, a giant monster, etc. sort of seems similar to me.

Starwars ep3: again, resolution. everyone needs to know where darth vader came from. the only issue is now, what is lucasfilm going to work on after this series is done? are they going to re-do episodes 4-7? maybe if they take long enough re-doing each episode, and as technology advances warranting another re-doing, they can create an infinite loop. constantly releasing newly redone episodes, and making money. oh wait, theyve already been doing that.

Battlefield 1942: another match, this time omaha beach. its going to be rough, but i think we can pull off a total victory with the right strategies. allies are the ones going uphill this time, so we really have to make use of the artillery on the ship to clear the way for us to get up the hill. and acheive the right balance of snipers to assault classes. sometimes its hard to convince people to give up the sniper kits, but taking assault kits is really the only way to make progress up the hill.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Winning streak

Yes, that's right. the allies at iplay are on a winning streak! 4 games in a row now and counting, thanks to our new player "lachesis". shes the suprise talent that gives us the edge, and everyones talking about her :) just finished another round last night. it seems these days every single match is a drag-out dirty battle. its very even talent-wise now, so its more or less whoever comes up with the best tactics for the map wins.

battlefield 2 is coming out soon, i can't wait. also, i should pull out battlefield vietnam.. i bought that game and its just been collecting dust. ive been on a bit of a gaming spree lately. i finished off command and conquer generals, all 3 campaigns, and ive been tearing into star wars: kotor, and im about 40 hours into that one. its really enjoyable, and very similar to bioware's other d20 title: neverwinter nights, except with a better graphics engine, and everyone has voice actors. after that, kotor 2 is kicking around somewhere and needs finishing, and maybe ill work my way through some old snes roms.

Speaking of starwars.. the new movie is out soon, episode 3. which should wrap up the whole series quite nicely and answer all my questions. everyone wants to know how darth vader came to be, and what hes got that life support suit for. i know im excited, and i cant really say that about many movies these days.

i think i finally figured out a use for the psp. i haven't actually found it good for anything, because as far as an mp3 player goes, i've already got a better mp3 player (ipod shuffle), and as far as a video game system goes, ive already got a big pile of those with nicer graphics.. and i'm never really in a position to play a portable system: i never ride the bus... if i go on a roadtrip, im stuck driving... and if ive gone camping, i've got better things to do. so here goes, here's the only use for the psp.. bringing inappropriate internet videos to work and showing them to coworkers. that's it, that's all. it serves no other useful purpose in my fleet of technological gadgets that something else doesnt do better. and for that one purpose, i still can't justify 300 bucks. sony is off their rocker. i think as far as gadgets go, the people who buy those gay segway things, and the people who buy the psp, are an overlapping market. people who buy technology just for the sake of having it, not because it serves some actual useful purpose.

apparently Q6 is over now. its unfortunate that they closed the contest already, as our team was rising in the ranks. i think it should be a continuous thing, reset the standings every month or something. especially since it had a rough start, and now theyve got all the servers they need to handle the load, and like a week after they get it set up its done. our final rank is something like 172 out of 41,380. not bad, but we could have done better. i demand a rematch :)

my experiments with CSS are going fairly well. i was able to duplicate a couple example site layouts without tables almost exactly as they were. as with everything new though, theres catches. things dont work exactly the same as their html predecessors, so you have to make adjustments. also, theres browser compatibility, not every browser interprets CSS and html to w3c standards. mostly IE is the one with the bugs, and firefox seems to do ok. anyhow, the best part of doing all the formatting and layout in CSS is that it makes your content easier to deal with. scripting inline php with basic html, and then doing all formatting in CSS is so much easier on the eyes. its also more efficient code-wise as you consolidate repetitive formatting into classes and things actually inherit properties from parent objects.

Work is interesting these days. 3 people got laid off yesterday, so thats a bit of a shake-up. i dont think they were really happy here anyhow to be honest. i was assured my position was more long term, so thats good news. its hard to plan your life around your work in 4 month intervals. such is the life of a contractor.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Masochistic Gaming

Yep, it's time for another corporate league session at iplay. Somehow we always get our monkey asses beat. sometimes worse than others. but i keep coming back for more, so i must actually like it deep down inside. i suppose more practice would make things better, or learning some new strategies. it seems whoever owns the skies in most of the games, dominates the other team completely.. note to self, learn how to fly in bf1942... better. last time the best 2 pilots got teamed up and you would basically die as soon as you spawned, or if you lived that long, youd have a bomb dropped on you the instant you climbed in a vehicle. boom, dead. there was really no hope of any kind of effective counter-offensive. oh well, I'm trying to recruit a new player for our team, and hopefully that works out well for us :)

Work is going really, really slowly right now. And I'm SO bored. I'm trying to be a little pro-active with the process since theres no actual work to be done at the moment. we have sharepoint here at work to work as a document repository and version control system, but up until now we've been doing manual versioning. i guess noone either got the concept of automatic version control, or they didnt trust the computer to do something that wonderful and not screw things up. so we're trying to implement a check-out, check-in system that will solve some of our revisioning "issues". working on the wrong version of a document, etc. also a solid planned directory structure will help things not get too messy, like last time. i think this would have saved some people hours of lost labour if they had actually come up with a process last time.

Anyhow, work has also become a little like survivor now. michel, one of the original guys was laid off last week, and there may be more to come. im pretty sure im sticking around from all the signals ive been given, but you never know. there's this bi-polar guy working on the same project as me, and while hes entertaining, hes not the greatest guy in the world to work with. so my money is on him.

Anyhow, with work being so slow, I've taken to surfing the web a lot. and since I'm almost completely bored and sick of that, I think I may just decide to start doing some more worthwhile project with my time. All my old php stuff is more or less gone, or i have outdated backups of it, so maybe i could get started on new versions of that. i think i should really wrap my head around some CSS stuff first though. i've been checking out CSSzengarden and i've been really impressed with the designs people come up with, and I think my next project will definitely separate the content from the design in the same way, so i can update the design at any time. I've done some pretty basic things with CSS before, but you can do so much with it, that i really have to do some more research and study. God knows my blogger could use a new CSS template.

I've actually been getting back into a better workout schedule lately. I'm trying to go 4 or 5 nights a week to do weights again, and cycling into work at least once or twice a week. the trip to work is about 45 minutes, so it's a decent ride. I've already done it twice in the last 2 weeks, so hopefully my joints will start getting used to the idea. still recovering from the flu though, this thing seems to be sticking around a week after the initial fever. it doesn't slow me down much, but im still sniffling and coughing on occasion.

And in music, FischerSpooner came out with a new album i thought was pretty solid, so I'm liking that. and sage francis is coming to town pretty soon, so thats another concert to look forward to on top of moby and buck.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

The Life and Times of Phoebus Brumal

Another year, another birthday. Time sure flies, its hard to believe given my current maturity level that I just turned 29.

Loralei was nice enough to organize all my friends together for a suprise party that night, and we all went out to lindenhoff for some german food and beer :) and played some german games later on.

Speaking of german games, Fandom II has been hit a couple of times recently for some new purchases. Jeremy picked up Around the world in 80 days, which is a solid title, and I think it will turn out to be a classic. it plays in under an hour, and has great strategy and mechanics, but isn't too complicated so you dont have to spend a lot of time agonizing over your turn, or learning the rules. I picked up a couple more card games, Bang!, and Sole Mio, along with a good 2 player game: gone fishing. and in the more hardcore section, Puerto Rico, which the box says takes between 90 and 150 minutes to play. Bang was a particular favorite when I played it, because of the hidden roles each player gets, and how gameplay progresses because of that.

So I've been hooked on lost lately. I downloaded all the old episodes and caught up with the series, so now i can watch the rest of it on wednesday nights and understand whats going on. I'm really suprised that this TV show has me this addicted. Nothing new on TV has captured my interest for quite some time. TV is usually devoid of any actual content, favoring crappy "reality" shows with shoddy, coached melodrama. or tepid sitcoms. worse still is the low budget TV series genre such as alias, or stargate, or relic hunter.

In internet news, google maps recently added satellite texture data to its already phenominal mapping and directions service. goodbye mapquest. my cousin is actually going down to work for google in california soon. sounds like a good plan, especially since theyve got so many good products now, google search, maps, picasa, blogger, etc.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

girls!! drink!! feck!!

Happy St. Patricks day to all!

I think this year, instead of going to a crowded irish pub, I'll try to have people over to have a pint, and do a father ted marathon. I've gotten seasons 1-3 off of digital distractions, and i'm working through them slowly. and any excuse to get some people together for games.

Speaking of games, I've been hooked on Gran Turismo 4 lately. Jeremy is also working along on it, at almost the same pace, so we can compare notes. I was thinking about getting a driving wheel and pedals for the game, since it would be really fun, and would make the rally courses easier to navigate. but then, i might just feel silly buying a wheel. I'd like to have something that is compatible with the PS2 as well as the PC, so i can hook it up for driving games there too. I'll have to do some research.

And on the board game side of things, I finally got to play a full game of Franks zoo. It's a fun little card game, with a good theme. I haven't quite figured out much strategy to it, but its fun to play anyways. and if you get tired of playing it the normal way, you can change it up by using the rotating partners scheme. like all good german games, it has a come-from-behind mechanic, such that the last place person leads out.

Not much is new, really. Other than that. Moby's coming to montreal, with buck 65, so I'm really looking forward to that show. Mobys on tour cause of his new album out this month, hotel.

Work is going allright. my friend from work, joe, has moved on to another gig. at about the same time, my other friend and ex-coworker phil started working in his place. so its nice that i have at least one good friend at the workplace these days.

Thats it for now.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Vanity Issues

Ok what the hell is up with internet people. they take far too many pictures of themselves. I understand narcissism, but if you're really narcissistic, do you really want to share yourself with everyone else? every time i see some teenager taking a picture of themselves out at arms length making faces into the camera, i want to reach through my monitor and smack them. you don't need a new picture of yourself and your dog up on the internet everytime you or your dog get a haircut. unless its a dyed-red, spiked, 12-inch mohawk, or a mural of some kind shaved into the back of your head, with appropriate coloring.. perhaps a nice sunset, or a picture of j-lo choking on a peice of broccoli (I'm cheering for the broccoli). that might be at least somewhat interesting to the rest of the world. Noone except your closest friends and relatives care about you or your dog or your mundane haircut, or your baby. yes, you have a baby, congratulations, you have fulfilled your genetic imperitive to breed and buy a minivan. let me know when you do something that not everyone else on the planet can do. or if you can't do anything interesting, maybe your baby can. If your baby can outdo Cut Chemist on the turntables, then drop me a line. If it just sits there and drools and gurgles and cries, I'll continue to not give a shit.

Which brings me on to another subject about crying babies in public. Do you think it would be rude to offer ballgags and/or tranquilizers to parents who don't have any other way of silencing or controlling their own children? I think it's rude to let your children run wild in public, but maybe thats just me. Unless it's a playground, then it's fair game. But if its a mall or an airplane, bring the ballgags and tranquilizer darts.

Ok that's my vile spewing for today. I'm sure I've violated and taken the odd picture of myself in the past, but im growing old and bitter now, so no more.

In other news, I continue to be amazed at the airtime and print given to the horrid opinions of , well, just about anyone on CNN, but especially Ann Coulter. How can someone so brash and obviously off-center be given press time? I guess ratings is the answer. It's like why don cherry is still on hockey night in Canada. But isn't there some factual news stories you people in the press could be working on instead of wasting print and airtime on garbage opinions? She isn't even a politician, so in the end, she doesn't matter. Either you're in the game and you matter, or you're not in the game and noone gives a shit. Sometimes even if you're in the game, noone gives a shit. If you just wanna run your mouth, and not be an actual politician with real power, then you can just fuck off and get off my TV and out of my newspaper. Stick to your blog, like every other person with an opionion that doesn't matter. I guess if you're right wing you could apply the same to michael moore, although he seems to be in the press a lot less then Ann is.

And as far as my life goes, nothing new to report really. Work continues. Spent a weekened up at a hunt camp which went ok. Good weather, some snowshoeing. Picked up Carcassonne: The City, which is pretty much like hunters and gatherers, which I already have, but it adds a couple of elements to keep things interesting. Me and Loralei seem to play this a lot 2 player, and it works out great. I've also been listening to George Carlin's new audiobook. Thankfully it's him reading it, otherwise it just wouldn't be the same. It weighs in at a hefty 7.5 hours, so I've been listening to it in the car for almost a whole week without any of it repeating. Probably the reason I'm starting to get bitter and opinionated.

Thats it for now.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Blatant Intolerance?

Same-sex marriage is quite a hot issue these days in Canada. After reading a story from CBC today about how people on the opposing force were going to start putting up lawn signs, I was compelled to write this letter (likely falling on deaf ears) to www.defendmarriage.ca:
Hello,

I'm afraid I can't understand how this sort of organization can exist in a free and liberal country like canada. I am shocked and apalled by your outright intolerance for people who have a different opinion than yours. Freedom shouldn't be limited by people like you. Freedom in this country allows all kinds of wonderful different cultures and religions to coexist, even if they dont have the same opinion. and that's all this is, a question of coexistance and tolerance.

the people you want to deny freedoms to aren't going to offend you by coming over to your house and having gay sex on your lawn. they are going to have their special relationship with the people they love, theyre going to likely keep to themselves, and the priest/minister at your particular church isnt going to be the one marrying them anyhow. nor will anyone be prosecuted for refusing to perform marriage ceremonies. there are people willing to perform the ceremonies, and theres no reason anyone should be forced to do so, let alone anyone wanting someone unwilling to actually perform said ceremony.

Your ideas that homosexuality and gay marriage isn't "moral" is based upon your religious convictions that not everyone shares. You don't see a lot of religious intolerance going on in canada do you? this is what you're practicing. the separation between clergy and government has been apparent to everyone for some time now, except you, who insist that they are still linked in some important way, and that your beliefs should be the ones that the government uses in creating law, when they are just as legitimate as anyone elses. This is a democracy and not a church-head government.

I myself, am not gay, but I will fight for the rights and freedoms of anyone who is being opressed by such nazis as yourselves.


I also recently learned that my sister was on the opposing side of this issue, and I'm not quite sure how to feel about that. If I have a discussion with her about it, will it be a standing issue with our family?

Anyways, post your comments about it if you're reading this.

Monday, February 14, 2005

High Seas Adventure

Another crazy weekend passes.

Friday I broke down and finally got myself a new car stereo. I've been reluctant to get one since I don't like my car getting broken into. And the more flashy stuff you have for your car, the more some young punk wants to smash your windows in to get it. I went to future shop and had the guy over there put in the stereo. I could have done it myself really, but I dont exactly have a nice warm garage to work in, do I? I got a Clarion MP3CD deck with a removable faceplate, and a matched set of Sony speakers. Not too expensive, but a whole lot nicer than the stock stereo. I found it was hard to get specs on the stock stereo. I couldnt find what wattage the speakers/deck was, what impedance, or anything. Till I took it all out :) my old speakers were an unimpressive 15W. my new ones are 50W. Ok, I know, speaker power doesn't equal speaker fidelity, but these really are a whole lot nicer sound quality wise. The big selling feature for the new deck is that it has AUX input, so I can hook it up to my iPod shuffle.

So, after the stereo was installed, myself, Jeremy, Laurie, and Loralei crammed in the car and went off to montreal to see Neko Case. After some mis-navigation, and some parking adventures, we finally made it downtown in time to catch the last few songs of the opening band, so we didn't miss much. We were able to squeeze down to front-and-center without much trouble at all, so we had a great up close view of all the stage happenings. I forget the name of the openers, but they were pretty good. some technical difficulties happened to them with a couple of shattered drumsticks, but they kept on kicking. Then the Sadies came on stage and played a thorougly impressive set. This was the first time I've seen or heard the Sadies, but now I'm a fan. Then after a short break, Neko came on stage with the sadies backing her up. Her set this time was almost completely different from the other times I've seen her live (this was #4). She had a ton of new material to present from The Tigers Have Spoken, and some stuff that hasn't been recorded yet. All very nice, she never disappoints, especially in live shows. If you get the chance to see her live, you will certainly get your moneys worth.

Saturday was being lazy and playing Sid Meier's Pirates! for the morning (what pirates?). Quite a well done and addicting game. I'm really impressed with it in all aspects. It's got nice graphics, it's very open-ended gameplay, and nice mechanics. You can play through it however you wish, being a trader, a feared pirate of the carribean, choose to work for one nation, or all of them. Cities and settlements flourish or suffer based on what comes their way as far as immigrants, trading ships, payroll, grain, etc. so what you escort, or what you pillage has an immediate effect on the environment. there's a good variety of missions and things to keep you occupied. the game starts out nice and easy, and gives you the option to ramp up the difficulty when it feels you're ready. Like all Sid Meier games (Civilizations, etc.) there's too much detail and depth to cover here. It gets a 9/10 rating from me :)

Late Saturday afternoon was going down to see the ice sculptures from winterlude. It's been warm the last week or so, which isnt so great for the sculptures. So some of them were a little droopy, but there were still some in progress that looked very sharp, and some of the smaller ones were in good shape. I'll be posting some pictures on the rogers site later.

Sunday morning was crepe-fest at our place, and we tried out a whole bunch of sugary fillings. Apples, cinnamon and brown sugar. Nutella and banana. And our try at the kilaloe sunrise (sugar, cinnamon, and lemon juice) a popular beaver-tail flavoring. More Pirates! followed the crepe sugar shock.

Sunday night was gaming over at laurie and jeremy's place. ate some awesome lasange and played a couple rounds of bohnaparte and mystery of the abbey. Broke out Bohnaparte for the first time. It's an interesting add-on for Bohnanaza that adds a layer of complexity to keep things interesting. Mystery of the Abbey went really well. That game depends mostly on the players to make it interesting, and we were in good company there.

So with the crazy schedule going on lately, I think I really need to take a night or two to exclusively clean the apartment, there's just been no time for anything chores related, so things are falling behind.

Good times :)

Friday, February 11, 2005

Gaming Spree

The boardgame streak continues. I picked up a bunch of new games that I'm fairly impressed with last weekend. The problem now is that the rate of new games coming in seems to be so high that we haven't even played all of them yet, let alone played them enough to start getting more strategy. Some highlights of the new bunch: Pirates Cove, Mystery of the Abbey, San Juan, Memoir '44, and Groo the Game.

Sadly I couldn't stop myself from ordering even more, and doing even more research past that to plan my next 5 or 6 game purchases in the next few months. There are fantastic resources on the web for boardgames right now at Boardgamegeek, and a few other sites where veteran gamers give insights into the good and bad of every game.

I've been itching to play unreal tournament 2004 again, if I could only convince some of my friends to play along with me, but they seem to have no time for me these days. Also, world of warcraft has kind of gone by the wayside. Lately I haven't played for weeks at a time. I usually only play when Nick is online with me, so that we level at the same rate. but he's been too busy to log on, so I don't bother. Kind of a waste of a montly subscription when you only play a couple hours a month. Oh well, maybe someday all our schedules will calm down a little.

In work news, my contract has been extended for another 3 months past march, which lands me in July. Hoping for another extension past that, because the job market in Ottawa in July is deader than ODB. It would almost make sense to try to get another contract elsewhere, for a longer period now, while the jobs are available this spring. But at least this is a 3 month guarantee, so I'll take what I can get. I still have the option of taking another position and ditching this contract, but thats kind of burning my bridges, and in a small IT community like Ottawa, I'd hate to do that. Everywhere I go, I meet someone who was working with me on another contract.

The new phoneline with Vonage is working great. I really like it. I think I'll be switching off the old phone soon. It's too bad they couldnt carry over my old phone number, but I guess I'll have to do my best to let everyone know about the change, and/or have sprint forward all calls for the next few months to the new number.

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Everyone needs to STFU

Especially when I'm trying to read damnit! everyone at work keeps on flapping their gums while im trying to work, and I could barely drown them out with my ipod. And everyone else seems to ignore the fact that I might be busy reading or doing something important. At least just ask if I'm busy before yapping away for god sakes. Then they get pissed off when I don't listen to them, or only get half of what they're saying because im trying to pay attention to what I'm doing.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Television rules the nation

Who has time for TV these days anyhow? The title of this post is a reference to Daft Punk's soon-to-be-released album. The new album is relatively simplistic electronica, but still attractive somehow.

So, I've been really busy. mostly with work. But I started going to the gym 5 days a week, so that really eats into my time. spend about 1 1/2 to 2 hours per session, it really adds up. its fun though, and I'm getting in shape gradually.

At work, for some reason, I keep volunteering to take on new work. So as soon as I'm done of one thing, I get 2 new tasks to take care of. Apparently I have to make it look like I'm more busy than I actually am.

I signed up for phone service with Vonage. It should be cool, but ill keep my old phone until im suitably impressed with it. all the features seem nice, and Loralei can call her sister in London for free. VoIP is the way of the future :)


Monday, January 31, 2005

Crowds

I hate crowds. mostly. Specifically the ones on the canal this weekend. they're not the worst crowds ever, because mostly, theyre nice people out to get some fresh air and have some fun. they're friendly, they'll talk to you. but they'll also go the wrong way and try and run you down on a pair of ice skates. or step directly in front of you, oblivious to anything around them. i guess its the same with ottawa drivers too. twice this week i almost got in accidents, and it wasn't just "oh that guy is driving a little agressively", it almost seemed if they were gunning for me.

first this lady doesn't get into the turning lane all the way with her enormous gas guzzling mini-van, blocking my entire lane, forcing me to brake to a complete stop, while she chats on her cell phone. second, this guy pulls over and cuts me off, and i brake as hard as i possibly can, and barely miss him. he's oblivious to the fact that he almost caused an accident. shoulder check for god sakes! this is the kind of thing that causes road rage.

So in better news, I've gotten my new iPod shuffle. i realized after i ordered it that i should have gotten the 1gig model instead of the 512mb, because it's a better value. but i was very excited, so i was just pressing order buttons as if it was going to be impossible to get in 10 more minutes. Nevertheless, it is a wonderful little music device. im really impressed with battery life, capacity, convenience and weight. its the perfect companion for a short road trip, or a long cycle/jog/skate/ski. it comes with a lanyard to wear it around your neck with, and a set of white earbuds which are quite comfortable and stylish. if you get one, put the foam covers on your buds, they're not just for comfort, they help the sound quality.

and in other purchases, after a breif and painful skating session on the canal on saturday.. loralei and I decided that it was time for new skates. so sunday we went shopping for new skates, and got a couple of really comfortable pairs that should last us for 20 odd years or so. till they come out with hover-skates or something at least. this weekend was actually my first time on the canal skating, and the first time I had been on skates for about 8 years. so it was a learning experience, but no major spills or anything. the weekend weather was nice and warm to allow just about everyone to get out and enjoy a breif break from the cold to enjoy some winter activities. speaking of other wintery activities, winterlude starts next weekend. I'll be all set to go out with my new canon and the tripod. I kind of have to restock my pictures folder after having the HD crash a while ago, so this will be a good opportunity.

Work is getting a little hectic. finishing up reports here and there. communication is a real problem here at work, getting everyone "on the same page". so often you're working on a document that the requirements have changed for, but you have no idea. kind of frustrating, but I've just learned to accept that kind of disorganization here. what else can i do really? get upset? im afraid other people here are doing enough of that, and it never seems to get them anywhere, except one step closer to a coronary.

That's it for now.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Picasa

The photos below were just to test out the new toy I downloaded today. Picasa. It's this REALLY nice photo program that lets you optimize, edit, blog, share and do whatever to your photos.

It's so nice, words can't even describe how nice it is. You should just go get it yourself. It did such a nice job of organizing all my photos and publishing them, and fixing the color/contrast, etc.

The best part is that it's owned by google, so it ties into my blog on blogspot, my gmail account, and another program called "hello!", which lets you share photos and chat.

Get it! That is all.
the rear end Posted by Hello
Whoops! Posted by Hello

Friday, January 07, 2005

Holiday recap

Well, the christmas tree went down last night. I guess that signifies that the holidays are officially over with.

I've been in holiday mode for an entire month. I've had my fill i think by now. every year theres so many families to visit, and too many friends to make the rounds with. I drove back to PEI for christmas again, which was a little tricky driving in some parts.

I keep saying that the next time I drive to PEI, I'm just going to get a big cushy rental car with unlimited kms for a week. just to make the drive more pleasant and comfortable, and to save wear and tear on my own set of wheels. maybe a big suv, or a cushy luxury sedan. heck even a minivan would make for a great roadtrip ride.

Anyways, got a lot of snow dumped on me on the monday of the PEI trip. 30cm in one day. the trip was very short to begin with: driving down friday and driving back tuesday. so monday was really the only day when i would have had a chance to visit with friends, since christmas and boxing day are always spent with family. so i didnt get a chance to see any of my friends really. I also didnt go to any boxing day shopping due to having no sunday shopping in PEI, and then the blizzard on monday. So I missed out on the future shop sales. Usually the future shop in charlottetown on boxing day is like a techgeek reunion. Usually Joey and Steven are there, and Sarah and Justin, and a bunch of people from Holland College.

Ate way too much. Especially at the Ottawa family get-togethers.

Couple of good things in the present dept. this year. I got Cranium, a neat board game which is sort of a combination of a bunch of other games, so it has some variety. it's well done. I actually ended up playing this at Jeremy and Laurie's place about a week before, but now I have my own copy :) My family and I are giving donations again this year instead of the commercial christmas the rest of the world seems to be following. which is cool. I'm giving away my donation this year to tsunami victims. last year it was the heart and stroke foundation. I already explained giving away christmas donations in another post in my journal, although that post is now gone because of the HD crash, so maybe ill explain it again next christmas, or some other time when im less lazy.

I also scored a breadmaker, a blender, and a rice cooker. I've been keeping busy in the kitchen making loaves of this and that, and a pizza crust. its quite nice. it may eventually fall into the "i never use this kitchen device" dept. but it's fun for now. as far as the blender goes, I havent tried it out yet, but I'm really hoping it crushes ice well. you know for margaritas or other girly drinks. there was this blender casper's dad had at his house one year that was amazing! it was like 5 horsepower, and would suck ice down and shred it in about 2 seconds. really impressive.

that's it for now. maybe more later. back to work. zug zug

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

I'm a convert!

Allright! you mozilla geeks win. its been a long uphill battle, but you finally won me over. I'll admit that firefox rules, and is now my default browser.

They finally got the rendering right. i have to say it does just about everything perfectly.

security, bam! its all about security. most people develop their hacks for IE, so firefox is tight right now, and IE is old and busted. no popups, no sneaky script backdoors, no spyware, no bogus activex controls, total control over what can be done via scripts. etc.

and people are actually programming useful extensions for firefox. this is what really won me over. there are lots of great extensions that make your browsing experience a whole lot nicer. lots of "it would be great if i could..." type of things.

theres also lots of tweaks to it, such as the pipelining and the inline autocomplete. and lots more i havent found yet.

Another great thing I've started using since i switched to firefox is RSS feeds, which are hooked into live bookmarks. you basically maintain a list of your links online, with tags to categorize things. which ends up being better than bookmark folders, because some things will fit into more than 1 category sometimes, and you can just add more than 1 tag to reflect that. it's a little difficult to wrap your head around at first, but its very nice. best way to have your bookmarks with you at all times.

I'll post later on about the holidays, i just had to put that blurb out there.