Monday, July 31, 2006

Why won't you just tell me the name of the song?


This site is great. If you ever wanted to find the name of song and knew when it played and what station, but the damn disc-jockey decided not to tell you the song. Well then this is the site for you. It is as simple as entering in the zip code of where you live, choosing a radio station, and then a time and that is it. It even lists the top 10, 100, and a 24 music lookup. I am definately going to start using this site more often. You can even use it to start looking up music from different cities to see what type of music they are playing and if there is anything different or unique. Give it a shot and tell me what you think of it.

Risk, but simpler


This game is so addicting that it is fun. It is like risk only it is simpler. You don't worry about placing troops or getting special bonuses for lands owned. Your guys are the dice on the board. You can have a total of 8 dice per land mass. You roll with the guys you have on each land mass. You get dice with the more lands you own, but still keeping with the 8 dice per land max. It is super fun and highly addictive. Give it a shot.

Whatever it is, it ain't sheep.


Do Androids deam of Electric Sheep? How about computers? The former was a science fiction short story written by Philip K. Dick. Which was the basis of the movie Bladerunner. The latter is called the "Electric Sheep" project which was started 7 years ago by Scott Draves. The purpose of the program is to use grid computing to create a screensaver. User's then vote on screensaver they like most and those will stay around longer than those not voted for. Beneath this facade is actually something that is much more complex.

What is actually going on beneath the scenes is the creation of artificial life based on Genetic algroithms. So everyone who participates is involved in creating a new organisim in this case a complex fractal. By voting on a organism you are choosing which one is the strongest and as Darwin theorized, only the strong survive. Those strong organisms go on to spread their genes to new organisms and life continues. Draves is going to give a speach at Siggraph later this year.

Tell me what you think of the program.

I wonder if Epic will hire him as a spokesperson?


So I came across this little video clip of an obviously well adjusted young Germain boy. If only they had more people like this oh wait maybe we don't. At first look at this clip I was like oh my God what in the hell is the matter with this kid. Then after some investigative work I found that this was all a show. Obviously he had set it up becuase he has a web came up. He creates all sorts of videos such as these. I would like the site, but there is a bunch of popups so I will not. If you do a search you will find it. Tell me what you think.

I wonder what happened to A-Ha


Unfortunately I cannot speak french, but all you really need to watch is the video. From the graphics to the music it just pulls you in. Only from the some unique minds from Franch do we get this "interesting" game design. I would say that it is along the lines of Paper Mario, but just from the video it makes me want to play this mod. You have to take a look at all the different ways you can hide from people. It almost reminds me a twilight zone episode. Check it out and tell me what you think.

One heck of a ride


This car can go from 0-60 in a little over 2 seconds. It has a body weight of 500 lbs and has about 600 horsepower. The car is custom made and costs roughly $50,000. It is called the Ariel Atom and although I don't think it is too street legal it looks like it literally blows away the competition. One of the coolest aspects of the video is the fact that it can out manuever a motorbike. Take a look and let me know what you think.

Health Costly? Go Overseas


The LA Time is The LA Time is running an article about the next round of outsourcing and you will not believe what it is, Health Care. In the latest of a string of jobs going elsewhere healthcare is the next to start walking. Because of rising health care costs and the burden being on the companies they have started to come up with creative solutions. The article gives an example of a man who is getting an operation, but instead of having it here in the US he is flying to New Delhi. By doing so it is saving the company about $10,000.00 some of which he will be able to take with him.

Is this the solution to go elsewhere? Many questions that are raised in the article is that of quality and recourse. Although a coronary bypass in California costs$ 60,000.00 while in India it only costs $6,500.00. This most assuredly out ways the any cons, at least from the company standpoint. What do you think about the outsourcing of health care to foreign countries?

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Boston Tea Party Anyone?


So I like paying taxes as much as the next person (reads HATE paying taxes), but I think we should at least think about keeping taxes local. You know to pay for things like roads, and social security, military. You know things important to the Country we live in. Unfortunately there are some people (cough, cough Koffi Annan) that think besides paying taxes on a local and national we should think about paying GLOBAL TAXES. WEEEEEE that sounds like fun to me. Then why don't we go ahead and start paying Galaxy taxes, then Universe taxes because we would probably get the same out of it.

The point of global taxes is to help developing (read third world) countries meat certain goals laid out in the Millennium Declaration which stated 5 major goals to be accomplished by 2015, goals such as fighting AIDS and reducing poverty. They want to redistribute some of the wealth to the poorer countries. This sort of sounds similar to the way communism wants everyone to be equal.

As noble as it might sound and as harsh as I may sound I believe that we should not have to pay any global taxes. There are many reasons for this. 1. We have enough problems with AIDS, poverty, sick, unemployed etc. Why do we have to worry about other countries more than out own. 2. What happens when we are in need of help such as during Katrina, New Orleans and Florida's hurricanes, fires in the west, mudslides and earthquakes out west, and floods and high temperatures here in the Midwest. I did not see a whole bunch of aid rushing in. No because we are the U.S. we do not need any assistance, but boy if we don't give or help we sure hear about it. 3. How much money to we already give to developing Nations? In 2005 they gave 27 Billion dollars in foreign Aid. Now compared to the GNI it is only .22%, but we contribute more than Japan and the UK combined (2 and 3). Yes some countries such as the Norway and Sweden give almost 1% of their GNI, but they also collect a lot more taxes from their population and they have a smaller population, small military, etc. You cannot compare the smaller countries with different spots in the Global economy to US. 4. What power does the UN really have to enforce any type of Global Taxation? They have not military force and no judicial system. They are basically a punch of policy makers with no real power.

There were 5 key areas that taxes were going to be levied upon those being 1 email, 2 fossil fuels, 3. Currency transactions, 4 International Air transport, and 5. Aviation fuel tax. When it comes down to it seeing as we create the Internet and have most of the traffic in and out, we consume the most fuel, and most banks have their headquarters in the US the US itself would be paying the bulk of these taxes. How fair is that really? Why should someone, who is more successful, be ordered to give more of it away? The U.S. had to do it on their own, to develop and create our current economy. Why should we have to help every other country primarily by ourselves? Is it fair lets say to have someone who has worked for a company making more money than someone just starting out and having that person give some of his money to the person just starting out? Shouldn't it be earned through work? Plus with the propositions made how is someone going to figure out how to tax email. What about all the spam and spoofing of addresses and ip addresses. How would all of this be administered? Going back to the title didn't we start a war because of taxation without representation? Who is representing us in these conferences? There are currently 132 third world nations and about 227 total countries. If there was a meeting and all third world countries voted for the tax (which they would be exempt of course) they would have over a 50% vote. This is only figuring if they acted like a senate (which they don't), but this could just put pressure on the rest of the assembly. I believe we can give more money, but don't force us that is not the way.

What do you think?

Citibank should stop talking to AOL for advice


I received an email that had the following little tale in it that I thought was hilarious. It is similar to a story I posted concerning AOL. This time CITIBANK is the culprit.

Canceling Credit Cards - Priceless!

Be sure and cancel your credit cards before you die. This is so priceless, and so easy to see happening, customer service being what it is today.

A lady died this past January, and Citibank billed her for February andMarch for their annual service charges on her credit card, a nd addedlate fees and interest on the monthly charge. The balance had been$0.00, now somewhere around $60.00.

A family member placed a call to Citibank. Here is the exchange:Family Member: "I am calling to tell you she died in January."

Citibank: "The account was never closed and the late fees and chargesstill apply."

Family Member: "Maybe , you should turn it over to collections."

Citibank: "Since it is two months past due, it already has been."

Family Member: So, what will they do when they find out she is dead?"

Citibank: "Either report her account to frauds division or report herto the credit bureau, maybe both!"

Family Member: "Do you think God will be mad at her?" (I really likedthis part!!!!)

Citibank: "Excuse me?"Family Member: "Did you just get what I was telling you - the partabout her being dead?"

Citibank: "Sir, you'll have to speak to my supervisor." (Duh!)

Supervisor gets on the phone:Family Member: "I'm calling to tell you, she died in January."

Citibank: "The account was never closed and late fees and chargesstill apply." (This must be a phrase taught by the bank!)Family Member: "You mean you want to collect from her estate?"

Citibank: (Stammer) "Are you her lawyer?"Family Member: "No, I'm her great nephew." (Lawyer info given)

Citibank: "Could you fax us a certificate of death?"Family Member: "Sure." (Fax number is given)

After they get the fax:

Citibank: "Our system just isn't setup for death. I don't know whatmore I can do to help."

Family Member: "Well, if you figure it out, great! If not, you couldjust keep billing her. I don't think she will care."Citibank: "Well, the late fees and charges do still apply." (What iswrong with these people?!?Family Member: "Would you like her new billing address?"Citibank: "That might help."

Family Member: "Odessa Memorial Cemetery , Highway 129, Plot Number69."Citibank: "Sir, that's a cemetery!"Family Member: "What do you do with dead people on your planet?

(Priceless!!)


What do you think?

You, me and Cousin Dupree


So I had read this story about how Owen Wilson supposedly ripped off Steely Dan by making a movie about one of their songs that they wrote. Now granted they have won some grammy's (which make nice paperweights) and most recently album of the year in 2001, but they were most popular in the 70s. Now I read the story and pretty much blew it off. Then I read the actual letter they wrote to Luke Wilson and I have to admit I was floored. This has to be one of the funniest things I have read that was written by an "adult" in a long time. I cannot even begin to explain the letter, so you can read it yourself here.

I swear that these 2 have to be some of the most burnt out people ever or possibly they were just trying to be funny, but from the tone of the letter they did not sound too happy. They wrote this letter as if they were 2 stoners from back in the day, WAAAAAAAYYY back. Listening to them reminded of of listening to Janice from the muppet band. Oh wow and then they were talking about Zalman Yanovsky of the Lovin' Spoonful. Yeah I had to "dig" that one up big time. He was a bass player for the rock band that got busted for drug possession. Instead of helping his friends who got busted he fled to Canada and basically becoming ostracised by the music community. I have quite a few questions, but 1. Why didn't they get ahold of Owen "C." and not his "older" brother? Does he know them? Also they blame him like he wrote, starred, and directed it. I looked at the credits he is only one of many actors in the movie. This brings me to the next point, why are they going after him relentlessly and not the rest of the cast or the actual writers and director? Looks like they just blew some bad smoke and got a little confused.

What do you think?

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Move over Fantasia


I have known about this site for a while. I was reading about it one day in a 3D graphics magazine and had a whole spread of how these guys worked on creating a computer animation that played music and would sync both the music and animation in real time. They had played around with the idea of doing everything statically, but that was proving way too cumbersome. Instead using procedural code they were able to attach the music to trigger the animation. To be more exact they don't really attach the sound perse, but the MIDI data associated with the sound.

The proprietary animation package/plug-in that is used is called MIDImotion. This is an in house created software solution that uses MIDI data and attaches them to 3D models created in a variety of off the shelf 3D application, most notably 3D Studio Max. As I stated before the animation is created procedurally using algorithms. What this means is that the animation is created on the fly when the MIDI data is fed through the software. Instead of having to manually key frame all the animation, making it static, they can replace the music and not having to worry about syncing the animation.

Please have a look at the included video clip and visit the site. Let me know what you think. Thanks.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Jump in my phonebooth and take a ride


What is it like to jump back in time? Let's go back to circa 1996. A time when the internet was just starting to turn into the burgeoning hub that it is today. A time when simple animated gifs and a couple of hyperlinks passed as a website. A time when CSS, Javascript, Flash, PHP did not exist. A time much simpler and uglier than today. Let's go back to.....WEBSITES OF 1996.

Of particular note is that of the White Castle site. I must take offense of the person who wrote the original article not knowing what a slyder is. Come on if you are from the midwest (MSU?) and you don't know what a slyder is that is like not knowing what a DVD is. Also poking fun at using "slyders" for Thanksgiving. Alright I will calm down, but still take a look back in history.

What are your thoughts?

Pizza you don't know pizza


So I will probably start a nice argument with the following statement, Chicago has the best pizza. Case closed. Argument over with. I mean I have eaten food from all over the United States, in particular pizza, and I have yet to find a more solid base of good pie. Originally being from Chicago I can see where you might think I am a bit biased, but just like the highlander there can only be one.

When it comes to pizza nothing beats a nice Chi-town styled deep dish. We designed it because we just needed something bigger and better. It is not size alone that distinguish Chicago from all of it brethren, no it is much more. Is it the flavor, the crust, the sauce, the cheese, maybe? It is the multitude of nationalities that have come together over the years to add different tastes and styles, possibly. Is it the thickness of the crust or the loving portions of cheese and toppings, close? It is the craftsmanship of generations that have brought some of the best pies to Chicago.

Here is a listing of what I think are some of the best pizza's I have eaten from Chicago and Columbus:

  1. Giordano's - Chicago
  2. Sanfrentelo's - Chicago
  3. Wholly Joes's - Columbus
  4. Lou Malnati's - Chicago
  5. Aurelio's - Chicago
  6. Gino's East of Chicago - Chicago
  7. Pasquale's - Columbus
  8. Connie's Pizza - Chicago
  9. Home Run Inn Pizza - Chicago
  10. Pizza Plus - Columbus

  11. Special Mention
    Piece - Chicago


So tell me what is your favorite pizza place?



    Sunday, July 23, 2006

    The great Link List part 1


    Here is a list of links that might be interesting that I collected this week. Take a look see what you think.

    Computer related related (High Geek Rating):
    http://www.databaseanswers.org/data%5Fmodels - This is a list of example database models. This is useful if you are stuck when trying to come up with the databas model.
    http://intensivstation.ch/en/css/ - This site is a step by step tutorial on CSS.
    http://www.devsource.com/article2/0,1759,1989490,00.asp?kc=DSRSS04029TX1K0000651 - This talks about IronPython which is the melding of Python with the .NET framework.
    http://www.econsultant.com/web-developer/css-menus-navigation-tabs/ - This site lists 71 CSS Menu tabs. Nice if you are trying to come up with a way to spruce up your website with CSS.
    http://www.javapassion.com/ajaxcodecamp/ - This is a link to a 10 week free online course dealing with progamming using the AJAX method.

    Compute related (Moderate Geek Raing):
    http://sitekreator.com/sitekreator/index.html - This is a nice little site for creating websites both personal and professional. The personal website creation and hosting is free.
    http://www.templatesbox.com/ - This site has some "premium" (ie pay) and free templates that you can use to create a website.
    http://www-128.ibm.com/developerworks/library/wa-freeweb/ - This is a nice article on how to get free tools and resources for your website.
    http://www.pcfastlane.com/joomla/content/view/2039/27/ - This is a list of 10 pieces of free software that could help make life with Windows easier.

    Computer related (Mild Geek Rating):
    http://www.urbanfonts.com/ - This is one of the largest collections of free fonts I have found on the web. Take a look.
    http://foldersize.sourceforge.net/ - This is a handy tool if you want to be able to display both folder and file size in Windows Explorer.

    If only my doodles looked this good


    By no means am I an art conasouir, but I know what I like when I see it. I ran across this site jumping from blog to blog the other day. The artist's name is Phillip who lives in Suffolk, England. He does all of his artwork with what he calls biros and what we would call them ball-point pens. You can buy some of his prints and other items on his site, but just keep in mind that the cost it will be in British pounds. The site is definitely worth checking out. A lot of the humor of the artwork reminds me of Gary Larson's The Far Side. Let me know what you think.

    Lowfat and only 96K?



    This is probably old news to some, but I just thought I would revisit one of those gems in the rough. One of those ideas that you go huh, wow that is pretty interesting. It is a game called .kkrieger. It is a first person shooter created by a group called the produkkt. To tell you the truth it is less of a game and more of a tech demo. The AI is weak, sound lame, level design blechh. So why the heck am I even talking about it, well because the game is only 96K that's right only 96,000 bytes. For those who are less technical I will put that in perspective, Yahoo instant messenger has a download size that is 4 times larger, Doom 95 released in 1996 has a download size 45 times larger than his game, the download for a demo of Doom3 is 4,802 times larger.

    So you are saying okay well maybe this game is a piece o'crap that is why it is so darn small. Well then you would be wrong. Yes this game is a couple of years old by now and it is not as awe inspiring as it once was it still amazes me to this day. The game is completely contained in 1 file, no installation required. Once you start the game you will realize what is so amazing, the graphics, the lighting, and the modeling all superb for the file size. I would bet any of the mainstream game companies would have a hard time trying to create anything with the same file to graphics ratio this team has come up with.

    There are a couple of areas to take particular note of and they both are near the end of the level. The first is an area that has a rock like formation rotating on the walls. If you look at the formation it looks completely random and the shape of it is just amazing I have yet to see anything similar to this. The other area to take note of is the final room and its ceiling of how it looks organic and the lighting cast everywhere, just beautiful.

    One thing that has always bothered me about games is the way textures are handled on objects. I am trying to think back to a game that I could actually go up to a wall and NOT have it look like a pixilated mess. Weirdly enough this is one of the first things I try when playing a new 3D shooter. It does not necessarily take me out of the game, but it just reminds me that we have a long way to go for realism.

    So if you have a moment I would recommend that you just take a look at the game and play through it, it only takes about 10 minutes. Let me know what you think.

    Guess What time it is....

    ....ITS PEANUT BUTTER JELLY TIME

    And you thought I had forgotten


    Well as you might or might not have noticed I have not updated my blog in about a week. It has been busy here on the home front. I was working on a project for work as well as a couple of other side projects, plus I was out of town last weekend. I have still had time to work finding interesting stories and topics to talk about. I will start today by posting a list all of the links and interesting stories that I just did not have enough time during the week to cover. Please give me some feed back on the links and how they are arranged and let me know what you think. Thanks for your continued support and remember to always have fun.

    Thursday, July 13, 2006

    And they thought a floppy would be enough


    What is thin and round and can hold 50 terabytes of data? A DVD coded bacteriorhodopsin (bR) protein of course. So what is the bR protein anyways? It is a protein found in the membrane of a salt marsh microbe Halbacterium salinarum and is light sensitive. "When light is cast on it bR, it is converted to a series of intermediate molecules each with a unique shape and color before returning to its 'ground state'". In this case the ground state would be 0 and any other state a 1. This creates the binary system needed when storing computer data.

    What makes this technique so special is the size of the proteins which are only a few nanometers across. By placing thousands about thousands of these proteins on the Disc you can theoretically get about 50 terabytes of information on one disc. This would be amazing for backup and archival purposes saving tons of space. Although one of the downsides is that since it can store so much data in one little object the chance of data being stolen is increased as well.

    Now this of course is not the first high capacity storage medium to have been created. No there have been many different mediums from records to tapes, but the beginning of the modern high capacity storage system would be the CD. This little disc's the shape and size is amazing. First introduced in 1982 it has gone on to be the de facto audio media to date. What is more interesting due to backward compatibility issues the next generation of media including DVD and Blu-Ray have taken the same form factor making the shape and size quite relevant today.

    Here is a little breakdown of current media and next generation media


    1TB = 1,000GB 1GB=1,000MB

    Now some or none of these future formats might take off. There are a couple of issues that could make everyone possibly skip the next gen. One is the fact that there is a format war. People might just take a pass altogether and stick with what works like the DVD. There have been many new formats to lets say the MP3 music file yet none have taken off to the extent the MP3 has. Second is the wow factor. The difference between watching a VHS tape(what happened to Beta?) and a DVD was nothing less than awesome. The sound and picture were truly something to behold. Let's fast forward now and compare HD-DVD to DVD. Yeah HD-DVD is better, but not by the factor DVD was over the VHS. What does HD-DVD or Blu-ray offer that is compelling enough to me to give up my DVD collection, nothing except a slightly higher resolution? Then you have to worry about upgrading your televisions and playback equipment and make sure that they have the proper connections from your new TV from said future playback device. Finally with the way broadband connections have become more and more popular do we even need an additional physical medium? I mean why keep buying the same movies over and over when you could have the digital form that is ubiquitous. I believe physical media will always have its place, but for movie, music, and game distribution I believe it will slowing become a thing of the past. What do you think?

    Extra Articles
    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2005/02/07/hvd_alliance_founded/
    Lucent Looks at Holographic Storage
    http://www.blu-raydisc.com/
    http://www.digital-digest.com/highdefdvd/faq.html

    Update:


    Ars Technica has a good article about the Organic Disk
    http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20060713-7259.html

    Neverending story? No, but the Longest Journey.


    Dreamfall: The longest Journey 2 actually. This is an action adventure game similar, well not really similar to anything I have played recently (Although with the dearth of adventure games this is actually the first I have played in years). The story takes place in the future and an alternate reality. They are connected via dreams and that is where the name Dreamfall comes in.

    This is the second game in a multi-game series. I never played the first so I cannot comment on it, but this story involves three characters that you control throughout the stories telling. The Main character through the story and the character that you will control the most is Zoë Castillo. You also play the April Ryan a resistance fighter and Kian Avalne who is an “Apostle” on a mission to spread the word of the goddess. To tell you the truth in the beginning the game I found Zoë quite dull and droll. She was always wining about trying to find herself and that she did not have a purpose, blah, blah, blah. By the time you get to games end you will understand more of where she is coming from.

    The game itself is shown in the over the shoulder third person perspective. This works for the most part. Getting used to moving the character around took about 15 minutes and after that it was a piece of cake. The inventory system is also pretty easy to use. At most I might have had 5 items on my character so inventory management was pretty simple. Dialog was pretty easy to work with as well. It was as easy as clicking on the correct question or response.

    Overall I thought the story was quite interesting. Nothing like the normal run of the mill single righteous hero alone against a world they are at odds with. No this story follows the life of a girl who has lost her way and sees no purpose and she is slowly dragged into something bigger than herself. What's more it pulls the player into not just one world, but multiple different worlds and places. Another interesting aspect of the games story is that you can play as multiple characters who intermingle throughout the same story. At one point you switch between two of the characters as you have them asking each other questions.

    The graphical and sound presentation of the game in particular the graphics are outstanding. The way the light can light up a dark room or the way the architecture can look like an old world town and at the same time look modern or futuristic (especially the city of Casablanca). Overall I just loved watching my character romp through the environment. The sound was nice not exactly memorable, but nice. The musical score was subtle and never got annoying. The characters don't exactly lip sync, but the voice acting is top notch. I would say from an audio stand point the dialog was the highlight.

    Now the game is not without its faults. The fighting system is just a useless distraction that pulls you out of the game instead of thrusting you into it. The clunky controls and the awkward angles made for either an overly challenging fight or no challenge at all. If the developer were to create another sequel I would hope they do away with fighting all together. Also at more than one instance I became stuck in the scenery. Since I save methodically I did not have a problem it was but one click away, but nonetheless it was still annoying. Maybe I am a little spoiled with some of the modern emotions shown by some of the character in today’s 3D shooters especially those of Half-Life 2, but the acting and lip syncing of the characters in Dreamfall sort of reminded me of puppets from Thunderbirds. What really spooked the heck out of me was the occasional weird eye movement of Zoë (crrreeepppy cyborg looks as the eyes just went back and forth as if in a hypnotic state). I would say these are just minor blemishes on an otherwise great adventure game.

    My final thoughts are that if you are into adventure games and miss some of the old school storytelling that seems to be missing from most modern games then this is your game. If you are looking for a 3d shooter in which conversations begin and end with a bullet lodged in someone's cortex I would, first quietly walk out of the room, then call you from a far away pay phone and tell you this is not your type of game. If I had a ratings system and it went up to 10 I would probably give it an 8.5 overall. Even with its few minor shortcomings I still highly recommend it. Oh and if you are looking to buy the game you can get it for the PC for about 19.99 off of Amazon or any really any game store.

    Tuesday, July 11, 2006

    Go Speed Racer Gooooo!!!


    What is scarier than a vehicle barreling down upon you while you are enjoying a nice stroll through the park? How about an elderly person behind said wheel? I know this is not necessarily an epidemic of any proportion, but I know this is not the first incident I have heard of and it will hardly be the last. Here are some of the stories I went through and gathered.

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/13771391/
    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/13433073/
    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/10298955/


    Now in the first case the elderly man hit 27 victims, but none of them died. The car itself was going no more than 15 MPH, enough to nudge a good number of people, but not fast enough to kill anyone. What would have happened if he were going faster? This could have easily been quite a tragedy.

    Drivers 70+ are the second highest group of people that cause traffic fatalities at 25 deaths per 100,000. This is second only to teenagers who are at 30 deaths per 100,000. This makes me question why elderly drivers are allowed to get behind the wheel. I don’t want to pick on all elderly drivers either. There are plenty on the road that do not cause serious issues, but I drive the roads just as much as anyone and can tell you that they do cause their fair share.

    Now I don’t want to pick on just elderly drivers. No I think teenagers are even more of a problem and you can look at the stats to back that. For instance the leading cause of death for teenagers is motor vehicle crashes. In 2003 3657 drivers age 15-20 died in car crashes which made up 14% of all driver involved fatal crashes. What should we do not allow teenagers and the elderly to drive I mean it is the god given right, right?

    Wrong. Unfortunately many people forget that driving is a privilege and not a right. I have not checked the constitution lately, but I am not sure they added an amendment on that, YET. I remember when I 13 and 14 and kids were already talking about not being able to wait to drive when they were 15-16. I on the other hand did not get my license until 18 and it really did not hold me back any. Of course driving can give you more freedom, but with freedom comes responsibility. At 15-16 how many teenagers are truly responsible enough to handle situations that can occur behind the wheel of a 1-2 vehicle?

    Now lets go back to the elderly they have more than enough experience behind the wheel of a vehicle, but as they get older physically and sometimes mentally you slow down as well. Now I know some people will argue with me on this issue saying that I am as fit as I ever was. That is good for you few out there, but as you get older many things change for the majority of people. For instance vision is decreases considerably, reaction time slows down, your ability to take in everything that is happening around you quickly enough to make a snap decision decreases as well. This is not their fault it’s human nature, but trying to face that fact is something that most people find difficult.

    Of course age is not the only deciding factor when it comes to accidents. There are plenty of other factors such as passengers in the car, road conditions, sobriety, cell phones, etc. that factor into accidents, but age is one of factors that is a black and white and can easily track. Now what can we do with these 2 age groups?

    Lets start by being stricter on who we give drivers licenses to. I remember when I took my drivers test and that road test was as easy as going around the block. Now an untrained monkey could do that in their sleep. This does not prove anything, maybe that you have been in a car at least once before, but it does not test competency. I say 16 may be too early to get your license I think 18 might be a better age. Many people will kill me for that, but again it is not a right and more of a privilege. Sure kids will start working and need transportation, but their can always be exceptions to the rule. Maybe their can be provisions that if you get a job and pass a strict driving test and written test you would be allowed to drive to and from work. Maybe making the tests on both ends stricter would be enough. How about giving the driver a heavier penalty for failing instead of taking it a week or so later. If their were consequences for failing that lets say a person could not take it again for 3-6 months later I am sure people would take it much more seriously. For teenagers it is this seriousness of the whole driving situation that they do not understand and this is something that does need to be addressed.

    As for the elderly a similar set of rules should apply to them as well. For instance after the age of 70-75 it should be mandatory that hey prove their driving skill or risk loosing their license. The risk of failing should be just as severe as well. If they do not pass then they have to wait an allotted time period. Hearing and seeing tests should be much stricter as well.

    I know this might sound harsh, but besides keeping the rest of the population safe it will also save their lives as well. As the population increases so does the amount of drivers on the road which in turn increases the likelihood that those people will get into an accident. The more responsible and able bodied people who are on the road will make it safer for everyone. What do you think?

    A couple of extra links:


    http://www.iihs.org/
    http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/

    I wouldn't tell them any secrets


    So what would you do if you could call an 800 number, provide a number, and get the owner’s name and address? Well you can if you try to call Sprint’s international call activation number. Now most people can probably access this same sort of service by performing a reverse number lookup on the NET, but how much extra help to we have to give to stalkers. Now as of the writing of this article the hole has been plugged, but if there is one there normally are more.

    What I find most disturbing about this issue was the fact that this design was approved and implemented. I wonder what other bright ideas Sprint has in store for its customers. I mean how many times have you called for tech support or information and they give you the information that they will then ask you to confirm, never in my experience. Hopefully sprint will learn from this problem and tighten down security.

    Monday, July 10, 2006

    Arrr I just kicked everyone's arse


    I wonder what blackbeard would say if he just found out how much Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest(first he would probably kill you and take your money, oh well)? He would probably say that's a lot of booty where is me share. With a take approachine 136M in one weekend this film has broken all first weekend box office records. It also broke the single day record with 55.5M(Star Wars Episode III had the previous record with 50M). It was also the first movie ever to make 100M in just 2 days.

    It seems this movie appealed to everyone across the board. There was no single demographic
    that seemed to dominate which is why it did so well and will continue to do well at the box office. With a haul like that it will easily break the 300 million mark domestically. Although the one record I doubt it will break would be Titanics domestic and worldwide records (600M and 1.845B respectively). Although it has plenty of other records it has a good chance of breaking like the 4,5,6,7,8 days totals.

    I sort of feel bad for the superman movie which opened up the previous weekend. This too was a blockbuster movie, although it did not do as well as they would have hoped. It did bring in about 84 million for the first 5 days and did 52 million over its weekend. Any success that this film had was marred by its production costs and script, director, and star changes. With a reported cost of around 200 million plus 30 millions with rewrites, director changes I only hope it makes enough money back to warrant a sequel.

    Here are a couple of additional sites to take a look at as well.
    http://www.imdb.com/boxoffice/alltimegross
    http://www.imdb.com/boxoffice/alltimegross?region=world-wide

    If you saw this movie what do you think of it or if you have not seen it are you planning to? What do you think is the best movie of this year?

    YouOS, MeOS, BeOS..


    What would you do if you had access to an operating system that was totally web based? Me too. At this point in time I don't think there is much usefulness to it, but it is pretty interesting none the less. I do have one caveat about calling this an operating system. I think of an operating system that is completely self-contained not needing another environment to hold it (although if you consider Windows 3.1 on operating system then I guess you could consider YouOS an operating system because Windows 3.1 ran on top of DOS which was the real operating system).

    This could eventually lead to completely webbased environments that you could be completely independent of your location. Sort of like going anyone on the web to check your email. You could actually go to any kiosk around the world and have access to all your documents, applications, mail, everything. That day is still a ways away, but this website will give you a glimpse of what is to come. What do you think?

    Saturday, July 08, 2006

    Move over iPOD


    This is something I have been waiting on for some time. Finally the 8 million pound gorilla has finally decided to throw it's weight into another arena, but how will the match end. What I am referring to is the fact that Microsoft has decided to come out with a Digital Audio Player(DAP) of its own to compete headon with the iPOD. How will it do? I am not sure, but some of the preliminary specs and options are intriguing. If anyone has a chance a dethroning the king this is the company.

    Current info


    • WIFI - this will be one of if not only the first device of its kind that will allow you to purchase music and videos directly from the unit itself.
    • A supposed incentive for iTunes users is that Microsoft will supposedly scan what songs you have purchased from iTunes and copy them from it's own store to your player.
    • J. Allard the man behind the XBOX will be working directly on this project
    • Microsoft will be deveolping software similar to iTunes for the user to purchase tracks.
    • It will be able to connect to a social network similar to XBOX live to communicate with people with similar musical interests
    • It will have a screen larger than the current video iPOD.

    Not a lot of specifics, but enough to get our mouth watering. Do you think Microsoft has a chance in hell of dethroning the king?



    What's next


    What do you think will happen in the next 100 years? Do you think the world has what it takes to stick around for another 100 years? This is the answer posted by Stephen Hawking. Below is what I wrote to answer his question.

    "How will human race sustain? Just like it has throughout its entire short existence, perseverance and preservation. I don't think the world is nearly as chaotic as we are led to believe. I believe there have been many instances through out history that could be considered much more chaotic that we were able to some how find our way through for better or worse (multiple world wars, plagues, missile crisis, dark ages to name but a few). Each time we as a people encounter these obstacles were have overcame them and grown stronger (maybe).

    Now I know the old adage about those who do not study history are doomed to repeat it and that is what the world needs to continue to learn from, our history. We have seen multiple problems appear before and we have always found a way, but we always have to learn from our ancestors. Otherwise like a child who does not learn the first time he burns himself, we will continued to hurt ourselves until the scar will not heal.

    Some people believe we are coming to a crossroads in our civilization. A time that we can either make the right decisions and ascend to something greater or misstep and fall into the stygian abyss. I don't believe in such dire thoughts, but there are definitely areas that we could really use some improvement such as relations with other societies, the environment, and ourselves.

    So through all this I still have not really answered the question how will the world survive. What will it take for us to guarantee longevity in the coming years? I would like to answer that question, but I don't think I have enough time to even come to a close conclusion, at least not in this limited format. But I can think of a couple of general ideas that could help.

    First we have to work on relations with each other, this is definitely the hardest. As the population on earth increases the space for the individual shrinks. This pushes more people closer together, people with a multitude of varying viewpoints, cultures, habits, etc. Although differences make life interesting it also causes many issues to arise. The more diverse the group is the more people don't see eye to eye. The more people don't get along leads to tension, arguments, feuds, wars, genocide. Although it would be nice to treat your neighbor as you would like to be treated (a golden rule) this maybe too romantic an idea. Although we only have one blue marble to live on so like my parents used to say "you two better get along before I get up there".

    This leads me to expand on the topic of population and space. Space can mean on earth it could also mean outer space as well. There is always the fear that something catastrophic could happen to earth and wipe it out, no more earth no more human race. Game over. If we were to populate the stars so to speak it would give us more of an advantage. For instance the more lottery tickets you buy the greater chance you have of winning(yeah right), so the more planets we inhabit the better chance we have of continuing on if something dreadful did happen. Most people would think exploring is good enough, which it might, but there are limitations such as speed, time, fuel, and environment. We could create besides exploring slowly is send out samples of our DNA throughout the galaxy in the hopes that it might land on another hospitably planet and flourish (not such an outlandish idea or is it). It would be similar to shooting blind, but even when shooting blind with enough bullets you are eventually going to hit something.

    Besides just the getting along with each other, and lets say the earth is the only place we ever get to maybe we should treat the place a little better. I mean this is the place where we live. We only have one earth maybe we should think about picking up after ourselves, cleaning our rooms, planting a garden, or even cleaning the fish tank. What I am talking about is not locally, but globally. By picking up after ourselves I am talking about recycling not only cans, but everything cars, ships, everything. By cleaning our rooms I am talking fossil fuel, nuclear, man made pollutants that we continue to churn out at a record pace. By planting a garden I am talking about our forests that we have to clear due the worlds excess and population growth. Probably the most important of all is that of the ocean it is simply the most important thing we have on this earth. Without it we have no life sustaining water and without it we would suffocate since a majority of all our oxygen is created in the ocean and not forested areas.

    These are, but a few fast and furious ideas. These are but the tip of the iceberg and if you know icebergs that is just a small fraction of the big picture. I hope that the world does continue on for many more millennia not only for my generation, but those generations that will live on after I am gone. "


    So what do you think is going to happen in the next 100 years?

    Friday, July 07, 2006

    Today's Lesson...Sharing


    And you thought GE didn't do anything innovative(and you would be who???). I ran across this site on Digg and thought it was definately worth the attention. It is a maromedia flash site that acts as a whiteboard and chat session all in one, without the necessity of actually installing any software. I created 2 sessions and was drawing to myself and chatting to myself(I know I am lonely). Just imagine if you were trying to communicate with someone on the other side of the world? It might not be the most useful website, but it does have its usefulness. You should definately give it a shot.

    Thursday, July 06, 2006

    What a beautiful City


    I have seen some beautiful pictures in my life, but these pictures are breathtaking. They are of the many sites around Paris. A friend of mine just got back from a Trip there and was describing some of the landmarks and sites he saw. This isn't as good as being there, but it really is a feast for the eyes.

    Tuesday, July 04, 2006

    I have trouble enough navigating 3 dimensions


    WARNING *NERD ALERT*

    So I ran across this neat little website that explains how to imagine 10 dimensions. I was like wow so my head is going to implode, but after listening to the explainations it really is not that hard to imagine believe it or not. This flash animation that is displayed is actually quite engaging. The website itself is setup to sell a book called "Imagining the tenth dimension". The book I believe is trying to give a basic understanding of how string theory works.
    So what is string theory? Well seeing as I do not have a degree in advanced physics I don't think I could give you a complete explaination, but I can give you a basic understanding of it, but first a little background (oh yeah I love giving background information). Lets start with the unified field theory.

    Unified Field Theory is the theoretical explaination of how the 4 fundamental forces in physics react to each other. Those forces would be Strong nuclear force, weak nuclear force, Electromagnetic force, and gravitation force. Einstein tried to bridge his General Relativity Theory with that of eltromagnetism, but was never able to do so (if anyone has any free time you can try to give it a go yourself, I would but chose not too ;-P). Because this answer has been so elusize to physicists many theories have sprung up to try to explain this relationship.

    One of the most popular theories currently is that of string theory. String Theory is a branch of the more general discipline of physics known as particle physics which has to do with the interactions of subatomic particles or the pieces that make up the atom such as electrons, protons, and neutrons. String theory tries to explain the interations of these subatomic particles not as particles, but as strings or 1-dimensional p-branes. In addition to explain this theory additional theories need to be used such as quantum gravity and Supersymmetry. Now proving either one of these does not necessarily prove string theory becuase these theories can exist outside string theory, which makes proving the theory quite difficult. Another problem proving string theory is that it is based on approximations and not exact solutions. As scientists delve deeper into theory and are able to create more precise experiments hopefully this will go on to either prove the theory or disprove it and point to a better theory.

    Another interesting part of String theory is that of Dualities. Again not being an expert I cannot properly explain the intricacies, but there are multiple versions of string theories 5 including additional unstable bosonic theory. The first 5 all include 10 dimensions while the bosonic has around 26 dimensions. What the duality went to prove is that all of the theories were just different mathematical models proving the same phenomena. There are basically 2 different dualites T-duality and S-Duality. These different explain how each one of the versions relate to each other.

    The eventual point of all of these theories brings us back to trying to help scientists prove the unfied field theory or The Theory of Everything. I am not sure what the eventual discovery will lead to, but the more we learn the closer we are to discovering how everything works. Maybe it will help use discover how the universe was born, or why. It could help us explain if there are parralel universes, if wormholes exist, and help us disover dark matter and blackholes. Who know only time will tell. What do you think?

    What would Jimi Hendrix say?


    So I was reading an article on Digg about this man named Erik Mongrain. He is a self taught musician from Montreal that picked up his first guitar at the age of 14. He practices a type of guitar playing called "lap tapping". You actually have to see his performances to appreciate it. I have only seen a couple of artists play this way and never to the extent that this artist performs. You can download a couple of his songs and videos from his website. You can also find some of his live videos from this link on YouTube. Let me know what you think.

    What a weekend

    Warning *Virus Present*

    By Virus I mean human transfered not a digital bit. Argg. I had pretty good weekend going. Friday was a most relaxing day just sitting back and waiting for the weekend to come.

    Saturday was pretty good I was quite busy with house work, getting my hair cut, detailing Tash's car, cleaning up the patio, watering flowers, etc. Once Tash got off of work we went to a picnic thrown by Tasha's uncle's inlaws. It was quite nice lots of people and food. This is were the story starts taking a turn. I found out later that day that all 6 or so members of the household had come down with the flu. I thought this was nice information to share after we have been there a bit, but hey said they were over it by mid week. After we left the part we just hung our and relaxed becuase we were going to have a busy day on Sunday.

    Sunday I wake up and get ready to go out with Natasha's family. We ended up going out for breakfast, seeing superman, getting some food at a new restaurant (Mimi's Cafe), going shopping, then getting some icecream. Tasha's mom was staying over that night becuase Tash had Monday off and so did her mom. I felt perfectly fine that night. I went to bed, listened to some music, and eventually fell asleep.

    Monday 2:30am or so I wake up with the most horrible stomach pain. I gave myself some time and the pain was not going away and the nausea was coming on full steam. I then headed to the bathroom just in case. Mind you I have not vomitted in about 15 years (on record with Seinfield ;-)). Unfortunately this was the day that record would end. Needless to say it was not a pretty site. I then went to bed, but not without waking Tasha up. For the next 6-7 hours I would get up, excuse myself to the bathroom, and then go back to sleep. This wonderful event lasted until 11:00 am or so. At that time I was not longer getting sick (becuase there was nothing left in me), but I was not feeling well at all. I ended up having to force down liquids and popcicles. At around 4:00pm I took my temp and it was up over 100 degrees. At this point I started taking tylonel and ice packs. At around 10:00pm the fever started breaking and I started to feel a bit better.

    It is Tuesday morning now and I am probably around 75-80% of my normal self. I am still not ready to eat that pepperoni pizza, but I am at least functioning. We called the restaurant and they did not have any other reports of people getting sick. No one else in Natasha's family had gotten sick either. So it was either a bug I picked up or food from someplace. All I have to say is that I hope I don't have to go through that again for a long time.

    I do have to thank Natasha and her mom for taking care of me while I was sick. It helps to have people to wait on you while you are not feeling well. Normally I don't get sick so I don't have to worry about people helping me, but it was sure nice to have someone there. That's all for today.

    Saturday, July 01, 2006

    This Weekends Project

    So as you can probably tell I am little obsessed with music especially if it is digital in nature (you can look back the longest article I have written). Well I had a little spare time over the weekend to play around with webservers and specialized music streaming servers. I am going to go into a little indepth of what I played with, pros and cons, and final thoughts.

    So let me start by saying I sometimes have a little too much time on my hands, but in reality setting up 3 different streaming servers actually did not take that long. Probably work wise maybe 1.5 hrs. My goal with this was to see the flexability of the technologies, how complicated they were to user and setup, and to see if they would ultimately work to stream music to my PDA to create a WIFI porable audio player. Out of the 3 only one really allowed me to stream music properly to my PDA. Let me start with the first software package
    Vibe Streamer.


    The Vibe Streamer software was pretty easy to setup and use. It offers pretty strong security which is always a plus when you open up your computer to the public. Actually since I have never setup a public webserver before the most difficult step for me was figuring out how to configure my router to allow access. Once I figured that out the rest was a breeze.

    The most basic setup instructions for setting up the vibe streamer would be as follows:

    1. install the software to the default location
    2. Open the software and go to the User's and groups tab and setup a user. This is as simple as giving it a name and password (always recommended).
    3. Next go to Sharing and add a folder with MP3s in it (It should automatically index the directory).
    4. In the settings tab you can give the server a name and this is where you setup the port and ip address to access the server. Normally setting the IP adress to (All unassigned) will work.
    5. Next go to the security tab and add access to the user you created and the ip address they are coming from. You do not have to restict access, but this is always highly recommended.
    6. Finally go the Stream Server tab and click start. Once this step is done it should tell you the status is "Online"
    7. Now to access the website from a browser you would do something like
    http://your-ip-address:8081
    8. This will prompt you with a password challenge box. Once you enter the correct password that you setup for your user in the second step you will now be able to stream music.

    Setting it up was simple enough and the I like the fact that you do not have to have any additional software intalled on the client side to play the music becuase it is a complete web based interface. With that said There are some quirks with the software. I found that navigating the playlists to be a bit cumbersome. In order to create a playlist you would first have to add songs to the top play second, go to the playlist tab, create a new playlist, then click save. This is pretty simple until you have to add or remove songs from the playlist. You have to first load the entire playlist song by song to the top, delete or add the music you want, then click save again. If you could easily edit the playlists it would help quite a bit.

    The other issue I have with it is that as I said in the beginning in the article the ultimate goal was to play it on my PDA. The web interface although perfect for a desktop just does not work on the PDA even using multiple browsers. This and the play list issue means that I was a bit disappointed overall with the package, but as time goes on I am sure they will make updates and hopefully address these issues.

    Next up is Shoutcast from Nullsoft the incredible makers of Winamp (now owned by AOL where customer satisfaction is #1). Seeing as Winamp is one of the polished and complete digital audio players it is not hard to imagine that shoutcast is the same. Where as the previous server was strictly play on demand this server is primarily streaming, but can also handle play on demand. The difference play on demand allows for the individual user to control what songs they listen to. Streaming on the other hand is completely chosen by the person in charge of the streaming server similar to a radio station. The pro is that you do not have to worry about choosing music and a lot of the time you can stream line the broadcast to a certain genre. The Con is that you cannot explicitly choose what you are listening to.

    Setup of the shoutcast server was a bit more complex than the last software application.

    1. First download the software from
    Shoutcast.
    2. Run the installation and accept the defaults. This will allow you to work within the GUI rather than the command line version of the server.
    3. Next create a shortcut of the following file onto your desktop: c:\program files\shoutcast\sc_serv.exe.
    4. Double click on the newly created icon and click on "Edit Config".
    5. Really the only thing I changed in this file was the password (again it is always good to change the defaults). There are a ton of options to change, but for the most basic we should not even worry about these.
    6. Now since we have the server we have to provide the content. In this case since we will be streaming the content in realtime we will use the Winamp media player for the content provider.
    7. Go to
    http://www.shoutcast.com/downloads/shoutcast-dsp-1-8-2b-windows.exe. Download, save, and run this file.
    8. Open Winamp and click Ctrl-P to go to the Preferences screen. LocatePlugins->DSP/Effect and choose the Nullsoft SHOUT cast Souce DSP.
    9. A SHOUTcast Source screen will then appear.
    10. Click on the Output tab and choose output 1. Then click on the Connect button.
    11. You can leave the address as localhost if the source is on the same machine otherwise you will want this to e the ip address that is running the shoutcast server software
    12. In the password bbox please enter the password that you changed in Step 5.
    13. Leave Encoder to 1. Then click on the Encoder Tab
    14. Make sure Encoder 1 is chosen and it is set to MP3 Encoder. You can set the encoder settings to whatever you want
    15. At this point you can now start the shoutcast server or restart it.
    16. Make sure ont he SHOUTcast Source you are still connected to the the server
    17. Start playing a song in winamp
    18. Go to a webbrowser and put in the following path:
    http://your-ip-address:8000/listen.pls. As long as port forwarding is setup correctly you should now be able to listen to the song were streaming.

    While a little more complicated to setup and maybe a little more overhead to run it still did not take that much longer to setup. This was also the only music server I was able to access with my PDA. I had to user
    TCMP to run it because media player is severly crippled on the PDA, but I still was eventually able to get it work.

    Finally was another On Demand music server, but this one was a little different because it required a dedicated webserver to run it becuase the program is written completely in PHP. The name of the program is called Radio Toolbox. This program probably took the most technicle knowhow, but it was also one of the most powerful and flexible programs available.

    The setup of this program is simple once you have a webserver setup, but those instructions are beyond the scope of this article. Here are the rest of the setup instructions.
    1. Setup a webserver such as Apache or IIs on your computer.
    2. Install PHP on this server as well.
    3. Download the program and extract it to the proper directory which can run PHP programs.
    4. Now you will want to edit the "mp3toolbox_conf.php" file.
    5. Since we are doing only the most basic installation I am only concerned about the first variable under the Basic Configuration.
    6. Change "$source_dir[0] = "path" to be the explicit path to the music you which the user to access for example source_dir[0] = "My Music". This will allow the user to listen to any music that is under this folder. You can add additional directories by adding additional indexes to the array for example: $source_dir[1] = "Your Music".
    7. Once this is saved open your webbrowser and go to the following site: http://your-ip-address/path-to-radio-toolbox/index.php. Once this opens you shoudl see a list of folders to open or mp3 to listen to.

    Although this worked perfectly fine from my desktop web browser my PDA did not understand how to handle the "listen" or "open" links. Although for sharing from desktop to desktop I almost prefer this over all of the other options.

    Overall by installing and running this software I learned quite a bit about webservers, music streamind software, DNS server, port forwarding, php, bandwidth utilization, and PDA issues. Each of the 3 options had strengths and weaknesses depending on what you were looking for, but for my goal the best option was the nullsoft SHOUTcast D.N.A.S. server. What do you think?