Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Video Vednesday: Mario

Yet another video about turning "Mario" into a real-life scenario, but still funny and novel enough to be very entertaining. The casting is pretty well done, it excellently weaves in clever puns/references, and overall, is a hoot.


Sunday, April 24, 2011

Dropbox: still the resource hog on Linux

I do love Dropbox, I swear. But sometimes, I just start to shake my head. Like now, for instance, when it uses 30+% of CPU and Xorg uses 30+% of my CPU, then my system slows down to a crawl, I just kinda shake my head.

In any case, it's been a decent changeover, I think; it's been a tad annoying because I tried merging some folders like "Bry Pictures" to just "Pictures", and Dropbox doesn't see what I did there. So it thinks the files are in two locations and tries to sync both of them, so right now my account is overdrawn. I really can't blame Dropbox though, because it's hard to keep track of the user moving gigs of data and seeing where it went....but I still wish it would just realize that "Bry Pictures" doesn't exist anymore, so it can delete it on my account.

All in all though, I'm so much more grateful that Dropbox decides to double sync instead of just remove them both. It's annoying to have to manually delete both on the website, but then I don't rename my folders alot so hopefully this won't happen often.


Saturday, April 23, 2011

Linux Alternatives to Windows Apps

Kind of continuing on from my last post, here is a list of the apps I made when I was considering switching to Linux. By the way, the site that helped me out so, so amazingly much was Seriously, that site is so well organized and maintained, it makes finding alternatives on any platform a breeze, and I highly recommend it to anyone that has ever used a computer. An even bigger plus is that DuckDuckGo has a bang AlternativeTo (!altto) meaning it's even easier to use. (By the way, if you're interested, here's my profile on AlternativeTo.)

Anyway, keep in mind that this list is biased towards my specific needs, primarily 64-bit, KDE, and apps that I don't hate *coughTransmissioncough*.

Many of the apps I use are cross platform, so I didn't even need a replacement. Of course, some of them have actual better alternatives, but here are a list of apps that are cross platform.

  • 7-zip (support for 7z compression, either with FileRoller or Ark)
  • Audacity
  • Dropbox = kfilebox (for KDE, without Nautilus)
  • Firefox
  • Foxit Reader / Adobe Reader = Okular
  • GIMP
  • Handbrake
  • OpenSSH
  • Pidgin = Kopete
  • Skype
  • Xnview = Gwenview
  • VirtualBox
  • VisualBoyAdvance
  • VLC
Then of course we have the alternatives, all of which I've tried and work wonderfully.
  • Amazon MP3 Downloader = Banshee
  • Auslogics Disk Defrag = Linux!
  • Clamwin = Linux!
  • Dexpot = Linux! (KDE/GNOME/etc)
  • GSpot = MediaInfo
  • HiJackthis = Linux!
  • ImgBurn = K3B / Brasero
  • Magical Jellybean Keyfinder = Linux!
  • Musicbee = Banshee
  • PDFCreator = CUPS-PDF
  • Q-Dir = Dolphin (or PCmanFM / DoubleCommander)
  • Revo Uninstaller = Apt/yum/etc
  • Speccy = HardInfo
  • uTorrent = Ktorrent / Deluge
  • WinDirStat = KDirStat
  • WinSCP = FileZilla
Here are the apps with possible alternatives, but I'm really not sure they are good replacements yet.
  • AdvancedDiary = RedNotebook
  • Autoruns = Linux! (GNOME/KDE/etc)
  • AwesomePhotoFinder = DupeGuru Picture Edition
  • CCleaner = BleachBit
  • FastStone Capture = Shutter
  • Programmer's Notepad = Editra/MadEdit/gedit:kate/QScintilla
  • Project64 = Mupen64Plus+CuteMupen
  • Teracopy = Ultracopier / MiniCopier
  • TinyCad = KiCad
  • Zoundry Raven = Blogilo

 Unfortunately, there are certain apps I just haven't found a good replacement for, some of which I don't think I ever will. But I have found some possibles, which I'll list.

  • Amazon MP3 Uploader
  • Autohotkey = ~AutoKey / ~IronAHK
  • Recuva = ~TestDisk
  • ResophNotes (SimpleNote sync is critical) 
  • Steam
  • Wallpaper Master
  • Windows live Photo Manager = Kdenlive / Shotwell / Lphoto
  • Winkawaks
Still most of those aren't really that important; the most important are a wallpaper rotator, a Photo Manager, and Recuva. (TestDisk works fine, but it's just so hard to do batch operations as far as I can tell.)

The best part about this is that pretty much all of the apps that I absolutely need are on the top two lists. It's only some of the minor apps that I'm having trouble finding replacements for. And some of them just need some good tweaking to get working. (Mupen64Plus worked when I tried to fire up Ocarina of Time, but CuteMupen keeps crashing on me. Maybe I can write a GUI for it in Python+Qt.)

The real nicest part about it is that it's not just that Linux has alternatives, it's that KDE has alternatives that seamlessly integrate into the environment. I'm beginning to see why Mac fans love that seamless integration, because KDE pulls it off quite well, and Windows and GNOME just don't.

Hope this might help someone or something.

Migrating to Linux

I think I'm finally beginning to understand just what separates Linux distros. First off, it's the DE. That's definitely more important than what distro you use, because someone can switch easily between Mint and Ubuntu and feel comfortable, but if trying to switch from GNOME to KDE, well, it's like a whole other world.

For GNOME, systems really don't change. GNOME just looks like GNOME. KDE, on the other hand, is vastly different. So I'd say that the most important factor of a KDE system is how it implements KDE; default skin, default programs, etc.

Beyond that, it's the software manager. No, I'm not talking about package type, I'm talking about the software manager. Because contrary to what some people think, I think that things like Synaptic are not enough. Instead, there needs to be something like Ubuntu Software Center. The only way package type really plays a hold on this is what software managers are available (like YaST is only for RPM).

Next and finally, we've got preinstalled programs. I know I've said a million times that preinstalled programs doesn't make a difference, and while I still think that partly holds does weigh in. Booting into some distros like Kubuntu and not even seeing one program that I like is just downright depressing, knowing I have to install/uninstall all those packages. I can see why it does make a difference, even if I think the principle behind it is retarded.

Other than that, I know there are things like Hardware support and what have you, but I just haven't experience that firsthand yet (mostly because I don't really use a bunch of different hardware), and it would be foolish for me to speak about something that I know nothing about.

From what I see, the "best" distro is really the distro that preconfigures things (bundled software, desktop environment, DE configuration, etc) closest to your liking. That's it.

I've used Windows as my primary system ever since I've used computers, but here are a few reasons I really want to switch:
  1. I'm still running into retarded issues in Windoze like not being able to launch Explorer or choose the default programs for filetypes.
  2. Moving away from Windows means moving away from Autohotkey which will practically force me to move onto other languages (probably Python first, then Java).
  3. I do still want to get more familiar with a *nix environment.
  4. Almost everything I do on Windows can run on Linux. (This is not a general statement; I made a list of every program I use and found a Linux counterpart on almost all of them.)

The DE
So the first difficulty (convincing myself to prepare mentally) is done. The second difficulty (choosing a distro) is still ahead of me. Like I mentioned above, the DE is really much more important than the distro, and I've decided to pick KDE as my DE because I just don't think I like GNOME. At all. At first I thought it was because of Tango, but the other day I tried to find a skin (or theme or what have you) for GNOME on my family's desktop and the selection was piss poor (or I was looking in the wrong places). Plus, in terms of all the distros I've looked at -other than different colors- GNOME always looks the same. KDE, however, looks extremely different in almost every distro that uses it.

I was scared of KDE for a long time for two reasons: 1. The stupid "K____" apps, and 2. the ugly, ugly reflective look most distros gave it. Best example: Mandriva. I just....HATE that stupid glare/reflective look that they throw on everything. I can't stand it, and I thought for a long time that all KDE looked like that because a few of the distros I tried did. Then yesterday I booted into openSUSE 11.4, which looked amazing, and I also took another look at Pardus, which was a little glary, but a heck of a lot better. I realize that changing the look is just a few clicks away, but why those distros chose glare city is beyond me.

To sum it up, here is what I think of the DE's:
  • GNOME: Something about it feels wrong (to me), like that feeling you get that a person is making a face at you every time you turn your back on them.
  • XFCE: I call it "GNOME Jr.".
  • LXDE: Great, but really lightweight. Definitely my favorite for a machine with lower resources, but not something I'd necessarily want to use day-to-day on my modern desktop.
  • e17: Seems a bit over the top...kind of a resource hog? Also, very different from what I'm used to, and I'd like to keep things near the status quo for my first distro.
  • KDE: Maybe a bit resource heavy, but since I'm betting my specs can handle it, it will give the best features and looks while sticking close to what I know.
The Distros
So with KDE in mind, I set out to find a list of distros that had it as default, primarily the most popular ones on Distrowatch and the ones I've heard of.

  • Arch, Gentoo, Kubuntu, Fedora, Mandriva, openSUSE, PCLinuxOS, And Slackware.
 After a long, long time of booting into these separate distros and trying to find some quantifiable difference between them, I came to the conclusion that there wasn't. There really is not that big of a difference between KDE distros (aside from the reasons I listed at the beginning of this post). I felt equally at home/Windows-user-alienated on every single one of them. I feel like trying to quantify each of them (which is my normal approach) is just overthinking it, and for once, I should just go with my gut feeling.

And that gut feeling was openSUSE 11.4. I loved everything about openSUSE, from all of the programs it came installed with (or didn't come installed with) to how it looked and how it performed in my VM (which other distros *coughKubuntucough* actually had trouble with). The only thing I didn't like about it.....was YaST. Not as much YaST as a control center, but YaST as a software manager. What is Novell thinking? It's just...unusable; I can hardly describe. The repos are fine and zypper is ok to deal with, but the nice thing about having a Software Manager is that you can actually browse the repos, not just install the software you know by name. And YaST sucks at that.

I was a little confused by this and having second thoughts about my "gut feeling" tactic until I watched the Linux Action Show's review of openSUSE 11.4 and they mentioned that openSUSE was in the top two best looking KDE distros. As I pondered what the other one could be, it reminded me of Pardus, which wasn't on the list, but was definitely one of the best looking KDE distros I personally had seen. So I tried out Pardus2011, and it. Was. Awesome. I loved everything, literally everything right off the bat. Using Lancelot, the default theme, the icons, Kaptan, and even the Package-Manager (though it is a tad buggy). The only problem with Pardus is the repository. I don't even care that it uses PISI instead of DEB or RPM, but the fact is, when going through and searching for the apps I wanted, it consistently failed to have them; I'd say it probably didn't have 50% of the programs I wanted. And that is just terrible to me.

In desperation, I tried PCLinuxOS next. It had KDE and uses APT with RPM so I really wouldn't face many difficulties with finding software....but just the preconfigured appearance of KDE sucked. I'm still not against using it, but really not looking forward to trying to get it presentable.

I tried Mint 10 KDE next since Mint really has good graphic design. I was actually pleasantly surprised; it looked very nice, ran decently, and used the Mint Software Manager, which is very slightly buggy, but overall worked amazingly on Peppermint when I used it in the past. It really didn't have any downside. The only reason I didn't choose Mint right there on the spot was because every time I think of choosing Mint (I think about what Linux distro is my favorite alot...), I always think "Well if I'm going to use Mint, I might as well use Ubuntu." But that's always been with Mint with GNOME before, because honestly, Mint GNOME and Ubuntu have very, very little differences as far as I can tell.

But Mint KDE and Kubuntu have a ton of differences. But I still felt a little uneasy and of the list I had made I still hadn't give, Sabayon a chance, so I tried Sabayon 5.4. It was pretty good, though I really am skeptical of the whole Entropy ended up crashing on me when I tried to do some basic searching, but I like the fact that they're in the process of building a store. I really couldn't find anything that I absolutely hated about it, I just...didn't fall in love with it.

Overall, my final thoughts are:
4. openSUSE: Only downside is YaST.
3. Sabayon: No real downsides, besides Sulfur being a bit buggy.

2. Pardus: My top choice, no question. The only problem is that I really want some of the apps they have don't have in their repos, and I don't trust myself compiling everything from source yet.

1. Mint KDE: Playing around with it just a little, I was able to get it looking alot like Pardus. Not really my top choice, but it's a good distro for sure.

So yeah, I chose Mint 10 KDE for my first Linux distro. I think one of the reasons I was afraid of Mint and Ubuntu for that matter is that they're known for being good with newbs. I've never used Linux for an extended period of time, but I really don't want to call myself a newb. One of the main things that changed my outlook is noticing that Chris on the Linux Action Show runs Mint, and he is most certainly not a newb. But in any case, I also had to just be straight with myself and admit that I am a Linux newbie and everyone started out as one at one point in their lives......except maybe Linus Torvalds.

After a little fiddling (mostly switching themes, getting icons, and switchign to Lancelot), it looks and feels alot like Pardus, but it's got decent support in the Mint (and Ubuntu) forums and has the Ubuntu repos. So far, everything is working out great, mostly; for some reason, the installer didn't mark my /boot partition as bootable which was easily remedied inside the Live CD. Other than that, the only issues I had were mostly trying to get my home folder on a different drive....inside my Dropbox folder. After getting the right fstab settings, it's working awesome, and then I got kfiledrop set up, and my Dropbox is all set too! Everything is working flawlessly, even the ATI drivers and Compiz.

Overall, through my experience, it's not so much sorting out the "bad" distros; all of the ones I tried were great and I could have used. The real goal is finding one that you best. To me it's truly like a favorite flavor of ice cream: You can eat other flavors, sure, but you'll always pick your favorite over the others, and you really can't explain why. You just love it.


If you're hyper-observant, you'll notice that I've always had my taskbar on the top, except in the above picture. Up until about 2 seconds after publishing this, I forgot that I like it on top. So it's now on top -not that you care- I just don't feel like changing the pic. :P

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Another life lesson to be learned from my mistakes.

If you are resizing a partition using a live DVD, don't decide you want to watch Super Troopers while waiting and eject the DVD. You will break the partition table. So here I am, sitting in another live environment, copying files with TestDisk. I've been pretty chill about it since all of my really important files are on Dropbox (best $100 ever spent), but still, there are things that aren't in Dropbox that I'd like to have, and at least TestDisk can get those for me. Even if it takes a while.

Woohoo, breaking stuff.

After copying over several hundred gigs of data, I mount the drive for the heck of it. My data is there asdf.

Oh well....I guess. Thank you, TestDisk!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Video Vednesday: MacBook Wheel

The Onion does a fantastic job on parodying Apple's sometimes seemingly insane marketing approach. The title of the video really says it all: Apple Introduces Revolutionary New Laptop With No Keyboard.

It really does make you wonder...who in the hell ever asked for a scroll wheel...ever?

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

In celebration of Portal 2....

No, I'm not going to post some amazing gameplay footage or sneak previews or what have you. I jumped on the Portal bandwagon so late that I'm due to play Portal 2 sometime in 2016. Instead, Shirt.woot kind of took advantage of the new game by releasing a very clever shirt that even has a mouse thinking with Portals.

What I really thought was clever was the description, which was....well, I'll let you check it out, and see if you can read it.

Click here. It's worth it, I promise.


Sunday, April 17, 2011

Splore sneak peek!

I've been working on a file manager written in Splore, and it's coming along great!

It's got a ton of great features working so far:
  • On top tabbed browsing
  • Ability to toggle removable media and hidden & system files
  • A treeview for each tab (or the option to share one)
  • Smart column sorting
  • Bookmarks with hotkeys
  • Ability to hide any button you want (and hotkeys that allow you navigate without them!
  • A status bar that reports how many files & folders are selected/in view (rather than "objects")
  • Junction & Hard Link detection
  • Different icons per filetype
  • Able to set custom icon for drives based off Autorun.inf
  • Different icons for Music, Documents, Pictures, etc
  • Pipe separated filter (e.g., "*.ini|*Bry*")
  • Ability to choose normal or custom Context Menu
In terms of features it doesn't have (yet?)....
  • Multiple panes (Sorry, but that would be way to much effort)
  • Micro$oft features like...
    • Libraries & Homegroup (Will anyone miss them?)
    • "Extra Large Icons" view ( :[ )
    • The Recyle Bin, Control Panel, and Network (if I can get it working, I will!)
  • Preview Pane (After it's stable, that's the next step!)
  • Search (if I am able, I'll try to integrate a search method that someone else has written in AHK)
  • Command Line Arguments (In the works!)
  • Clipboard support (In the works!)
  • Ability to remember last session & export sessions (In the works!)
  • A pretty UI (AHK really can't compete with 7's new looks; I'll do my best to make it shiny.)
    • Skins....? (We'll see!)
The only real limitation it has is that you have to be able to run Unicode. This is mostly for looks, but certain functions like the one used to extract icons are either ANSI or Unicode, and more importantly, the main way I implemented "smart" sorting is by using the Zero-Width Space Unicode character, which ANSI sees as a jumble of jibberish.

In terms of resources, Splore really isn't too much heavier than my other AHK programs (~5MB). The only thing that kind of makes me uneasy is that the more different types of files you view (specifically different EXEs, ICOs, ANIs, and CURs), the more memory it uses because it has to read those icons into memory. Even so, I just randomly clicked around for a few minutes into different folders with different types and I only say it jump around maybe 1MB increase. So it's still probably lighter than Explorer! With tabs! (Plus, I might add an option to disable per-filetype icons for systems with less resources, though this seems meaningless since they'd need Unicode.)

Also, on a pseudo-related note, I kind of tweaked the FreewareWire Software website so everything is not thrown on the sides. I've also been thinking about doing away with the single download page and just putting download links on each freeware's page. But that's also got me wondering about having just one download for the program and the source. What do you think? Do you like freeware that has the source bundled in with it, or do you like downloading it separately?

Also, still thinking for a name for PEM. I'm definitely not in a rush though because I'm probably going to wait to release it after AHKv2 releases so the source is more compatible for the user. (Assuming AHKv2 doesn't break any critical functionality). But still, if you have any ideas for names, please, e-mail me. I'm a human being, I will do my best to treat you as one as well, and you have nothing to lose.


PS - If anyone graphically-inclined would want to make an icon for Splore, I'd be thrilled. I really have no idea on what the icon could be, but I'm pretty set on the name. Again: nothing to lose.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Install Android SDK alongside JDK 64-bit

Apparently the JDK has a 64-bit version and the Android SDK does not, so when you got to install the SDK, it says "JDK not found." This is stupid and not Google's fault, it's Microsoft's. I've yet to find a good reason to split up the registry into 64-bit and 32-bit sections, but for some reason, they thought it prudent.

In any case, the fix is quite simple; the Android installer can't see the 64-bit JDK because it's not allowed to look into the 64-bit registry, even if the keys are there. So just copy the 64-bit keys into their relative 32-bit location, and the installer is satisfied.

Notice: I'm not responsible for anything that goes wrong while following this guide, whether due to user error or a mistake in the guide. Also, it's not guaranteed to work, especially if things like the registry path change.

  1. Open regedit
  2. Go to File > Export
  3. At the bottom, select the "Selected Branch" bubble and paste in
    [Note: it's a good idea to navigate to this first to make sure it exists; this is just where it was on my computer.]
  4. Select the output folder and name, then click Save, then open it in a text editor
  5. Insert Wow6432Node into every path between SOFTWARE and JavaSoft for every instance of the path in the fileHKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Wow6432Node\JavaSoft\...
  6. Save the file and open it
  7. Answer yes to the prompt, and Congratulations! You can now install the Android SDK with the 64-bit JDK!

Yes I realize that the Android SDK also has a ZIP version, but I personally like installing things to keep track of them. In any case, I hope this helps some people.


Amazon Cloud!

Amazon Cloud Player is such an amazing idea, and so out of the blue (for me anyway). I know talk about Google's streaming music service has been a rumor for literally months, but Amazon seemed to just pull this one out of a hat.

Here's how I see it:
  • (As they boast) you never have to worry about syncing music across devices again
  • It integrates with Amazon MP3, the competitor right behind iTunes (in the US at least)
  • You can play it in any web browser
  • Tight integration with Android devices
  • More space on your phone/device (since it's stored in the cloud)
  • Android app is very primitive (among other things, no Scrobble support.....yet)
  • Streaming uses data and battery, and requires reception
Obviously the pros vastly outnumber the cons. I mean seriously, can you think of any reason you wouldn't want this functionality? The best part about this idea is that it's optional; if you want, you can have it store your music on your Cloud Drive, or you can just have it download to your computer/device, or both. Overall, I think it's a phenomenal service and I'm ecstatic about it.

Legal issues:
As for the legality of it, I'm no lawyer, but here's how I see it:
  • Q: Am I allowed to upload my music to Dropbox?
    A: Yes, it is my data and I can do what I want with it, including using a service to back it up online.
  • Q: Can I then download it on any computer and play it?
    A: Yes, it is still my data and I am still allowed to do what I want with it; the online service is just a storage device, much like a hard drive or a flash drive, only intangible.
  • Q: If I were to cut out the middleman (downloading), could I still listen to the music?
    A: Yes, it is still my data, and skipping the process of downloading it locally does not make it any less my data.
Amazon MP3 Store
One of the differences between Amazon and Dropbox is that Amazon also runs the Amazon MP3 store, and somehow that is supposed to be shocking to the record labels. First of all, duh, Amazon Cloud Player is not about making money from the subscription, it's about drawing in people to use Amazon MP3; why else would they make MP3 purchases not count toward your limit? Secondly, this doesn't change the situation at all:
  • Q: Am I allowed to download the songs I buy on a website and then have them uploaded to Dropbox?
    A: Yes, the two are unrelated; one is the act of purchasing the music, the other is hosting it on your web service subscription.
  • Q: What if I use something that does this automatically like Amazon MP3 Downloader?
    A: The principle is still the same, it just cuts out the middleman.
  • Q: Does moving this process server-side change the principle at all?
    A: No.
Again, they are two separate actions: one is transferring a song that I legally bought to my possession, the other is making it available on a web service. So NO, the Amazon MP3 store does not effect the argument. At all.

Defining the transaction
I read that some iPad apps are allowing users to stream content from a cable box; that is completely different.When you pay for cable, you are paying for a service. You are not paying for the TV shows you watch, you are paying for the ability to watch a variety of shows. You aren't agreeing to own anything: it's a service that you can access as long as you pay, then when the payment stops, the service stops.

When you buy music, however, you are purchasing a product. You are exchanging your money for something that you own, in this case, data that is an mp3 file. Once the transaction is completed, the seller has no more say in what you can do with that product, as long as it is within the law. DRM is no exception: it's an anti-piracy measure (albeit a lousy one) that still gives you the song, but enforces that it is only played by the person who bought it. (Actually, the reason most people hate DRM is that it's very close from being a service instead of a product.) Alot of people use this reasoning for piracy, but that is a whole other discussion. The unarguable point is it is a product. And a product means that you may personally use it any way within the law.

Speaking of the law, I don't think I've heard this from Sony itself, but I know I heard that one of the reasons people are afraid is that it could be used for piracy. Bullshit. Piracy is like the race card: yes, it is a very pressing and serious issue, but it gets pulled way too often. Sony and others need to wake the fuck up and realize that piracy is happening an insane amount now (and has been for quite some time) and a corporate service like Amazon Cloud is not going to make an impact. At all.

The whole idea of using it for piracy is complete bullshit. As far as I know, it's not possible to share a folder/music on the Cloud Drive, and even it was, how would that be different than services like Dropbox? (As far as I know) it's extremely easy to "pirate" in Dropbox: drop your music in a folder, click "Share", then post the link around. (They probably monitor this for suspicious activity, but then so could Amazon....if they decide to allow shared folders.) Really, the only way Amazon Cloud Drive could be a source of pirating music is if you decided to give out your password to every single person you wanted to pirate with. Is it possible? Yes. Is it actually a threat? No.

I just cannot believe the the music industry still vehemently refuses to modernize. When it comes to things like commercials or TV shows, yes, they should have to pay for songs. When it comes to services like Pandora, yes, they should have to pay because they are letting the user play any music out there. But Amazon is giving you accessibility to your own bought-and-paid-for music, and the record labels are throwing a hissy fit. It's not like it's costing them at all anyway; they're still getting paid for when you buy the music in the first place, on Amazon MP3 or not. But they're greedy and want a cut of the pie, even if they have no right to it.

If anything, it might help the record labels; as one article said, it could really help people "buy more music if they could do it during their lunch break at work without having to consider transferring the files to their own computer." I've already found this true for myself; earlier today, I remembered a song that I wanted to buy and before, I probably would have waited until I got home to make sure I would get it both on my phone and my PC, but today I bought it on the spot. Yeah, it's kind of a stretch, but the point is, there is more than one way to look at the issue.


Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Video Vednesday: Robot Spider

It must be getting close to the future, because now we've got customizable robots with sight and everything. In any case, "Hexapod Robot Ready To Conquer Extreme Obstacles" is a really unique video that shows a really cool robot that can be custom built, all for around $880 (which may seem a bit pricey, but's a robot.) To see more pics and discussions about what ti can do, check out this article.

As cool as this is, I kind of gives me the heebie jeebies...I can't help but feel like I've seen this somewhere before......


Saturday, April 9, 2011

A Proposition on the Meaning of "asdf"

"We should agree on a definition for the word "asdf". It is used too much to not mean anything," says KennedyPittman, one of the people I follow in Twitter. Questionable Content made ago by defining it as a "robot cuss word." I concur, and would like to take it one step further.

In my eyes, "asdf" is an expression of exasperation, when you don't know what else to say...but you do. You know that rage you feel when your network connection dies for no reason? "asdf." You know the sheer puzzlement of trying to get your device to connect to your computer only to find that it was barely unplugged? "asdf." You know when you find the solution to any tech problem in the last place you'd expect it? "asdf." The primary purpose of "asdf" is to express discontent and bewilderment of technological issues, but as words often do, it is likely to leak into other areas of life, such as traffic, automobiles, or pets.

For example, I just went through several weeks of Windows not being able to launch Explorer, Control Panel, or certain filetypes within any file manager. I got some ridiculous error about how I "may not have the appropriate permissions to access them." I worked around it until I needed to launch VirtualBox, only to find that it wouldn't even start and showed a similar message. When I'm about to give up hope, I create a new User Profile, point it to where my old one is, and logon. Not only does it look the exact same as my old profile, everything works, including VirtualBox. asdf.

In terms of etiquette, "asdf" should always be lower case, simply because it's purpose is to let your left hand cascade down on the middle row, and this is very hard to do while pressing shift, and if you leave capslock on, please leave the internet. Also, "asdf" is formally not a verb or even a noun, but rather an exclamation, much like "Oh!" or "Drat!"

However, in informal settings, "asdf" can be used as a noun to express a situation that facilitates an "asdf" response:
"Did you try out that new beta?"

"No, my computer had an asdf when trying to run it. Turns out I had to turn off the firewall."
Or, in a much more limited manner, "asdf" can be used as a verb for when the technology is committing the difficulty:
"What? 'Driver not found'? Oh no, don't you asdf on me now!"
Keep in mind, however, that "asdf" is the only form of itself, meaning that things like "asdfed," "asdfing," and "asdfen" are not correct. Instead, one should use "had an asdf," "is having an asfd," and simply "has asdf," respectively. Furthermore, the plural of "asdf" is simply "asdf."

Although not meant to be spoken outloud (like "LOL" or "OMG"), when spoken in English, this is the pronunciation:

You may be thinking, when is the right time to use "asdf"? Well, hopefully this little acronym will help


Good video on "What Desktop Linux needs and problems"

I ran into an interesting video about -you guessed it- Linux. The one that really sets this apart than most of the others I've seen is that this guy is not a die-hard Linux fan. Actually, he's alot like me: distro-hopped (although a bit longer than I have), but never really settled because it never felt "complete." So without further ado, here's the video by FearedBliss:

Some quotes:
  • "There's no Standardization which is ok, until [you've reached] the point where you're disorganized."
  • "It's not a problem if somebody wants something and they have their own agenda...but when you have so many different people trying to expand their agenda, it just creates, like, a chaos."
  • " too bloated...GNOME is too plain...XFCE and *chuckle* Fluxbox are good, but it's not like a complete Desktop Environment."
  • "I don't know what the hell is going on, they just need something that's very easy to use: RPM or DEB. Now in my opinion, I like DEB files more because Aptitude just works faster for me."

Overall, this guy and I think alot alike. I think he might be a bit naive at some points (which actually probably shows how alike we really are), like when he says that "seamless integration" between every distro needs to happen. Sound good? Hell yeah. Harder than it sounds? Hell yeah. Of course, if all Linux distros went off his first point, which was standardization, this would be a hella lot easier, but still, challenging.

His idea for a "drag-and-drop make" is very interesting; I haven't compiled from source enough to say if it is possible or a good idea, but I definitely like where his head is at.

Cool beans. It's nice to know that there are other people like me out there (even though he sounds like he knows a lot more than me, that's still cool....he's also a Computer Science major and that's got to count for something).


Books! & The Oatmeal

I'm not really much of a reader, which I realize really needs to change if I ever want to turn into a true nerd. Honestly, I used to love reading but I just have since found something that I would rather do than it. (The internet....and computers.) But if  I started reading about computers, maybe I could kind of get the best of both worlds, and get valuable information that would frankly be more useful than a fiction book.

With that in mind, while waiting for the Oatmeal---

Wait, I didn't tell you? Yeah, I totally met The Oatmeal (aka Matthew Inman). I saw he was coming to town on a book signing for his new book "5 Very Good Reasons to Punch a Dolphin in the Mouth," so I preordered it and marked the day on the calendar. When the day came, I was expecting it to be like 30 people or so that showed up and kinda snickered together in a circle. "Bearodactyl, roflolmao." (Not as an insult to Matthew...I just thought...come on, a webcomic? People may read them, but how many people go to see their writer? Especially in my area.) But it turns out, there was a shit ton of people that liked the Oaty goodness, and even though I showed up half an hour early, I still ended up being one of the last people to get a seat in a packed room.

Anyway, Oatthew....I mean Mattmeal is a really cool guy. He did a presentation type deal with how The Oatmeal got to where it was today, some of his favorite strips and answered some questions, and it was really hilarious. Plus, the guy is a really smart; first of all, he codes the website and draws the comics, secondly, he really knows how to make it work from a business standpoint. All in all, it was fun. But the longest part was waiting like 2 hours after the Q&A was done to get my book signed....and after all that time, all I had to say to Oatthew was "Keep drawing bears." (Ugh. This is why when I meet someone famous, I usually just go with the standard "I love your work! Your work is great! Keep it up!" speech.)
Oh god what a terrible sidetrack. Anyway, while I was waiting for the Oaty signature, I ended out perusing the "Computers" section of the bookstore, and I made a list of books I'd like to buy and read in the near future.
  • Ubuntu (or Linux period, really) 
  • HTML5+CSS3 (emphasis on CSS3)
  • Python
  • Java
  • SQL/PHP (either/or)
As noble as this is, I just wish I could pick the right books. I went to a bookstore today (which, believe me, was a big enough achievement in and of itself) and I looked through the (poor) selection they had, and some of them just made me facepalm. I picked up an Ubuntu book, thumbed through it, and 3/4 of the way through, they were just getting to things like cd. I flipped open an HTML5 book and the last chapter was on adding a favicon.

I want a book that will reinforce whatever basics I might have missed to lay a firm foundation, but also one that goes into the finer intricacies. I want a book that is aimed for an intermediate rather than a beginner. (I'm not saying I'm an intermediate in all the areas, but I'd much rather Google search a little to catch up than read an entire book I already know).

Which is a very terrible desire, I'm finding, because there are a fuck ton of books written for beginners. And when I'm talking about beginners, I'm talking about people that have never even booted into Ubuntu before. And then there are books for the well learned people (the people that have been programming in Python for a decade, for example) explaining how to optimize or how to do something...unknown to me (I can pick these books out by their title, which usually sounds like a school course), but there really isn't anything for the middle ground...or at least it's more rare.

A while ago, I was watching thisweekinlinux and he had a huge bookcase of books all pertaining to computers that he could pull out at any time. That's what I want. What I don't really want is a book I can read, know, and be done with forever. I'd like a reference book, really, that contains enough data to get me to the next stage of understanding these subjects but not one that is impossible to understand (i.e., preferably more of a "___ for dummies" rather than a textbook), and that I can keep and pull out if I ever need to look up something.

It's hard because I've really searched around (on some of them) and haven't really found a consensus. If you pick any Linux book on Amazon, someone in the comments will say "THE ONLY LINUX BOOK YOU'LL EVER NEED." It's not that I don't want to buy books I won't need, it's that I don't want to buy books I don't need. Computer books run $30-$50 each, so if I buy one in all 5 categories above that teaches me what I already know, I probably won't try again.

This is me expressing frustration. I'll probably end out buying books and posting them here, hopefully they'll be good. *coughAnySuggestionsWouldBeWelcomecough*


PS - OH MY GOD people need to stop with "there are better resources online"/"read the man pages". Look, I get that things like Linux are always changing, but the fact of the matter is, sometimes books serve the purpose better, especially if you're just getting started. "The medium is the message," and since our society still uses print as the medium for teaching, it tends to be better at that.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Android Me!

[Here's how I did it]

It's scary just how close this thing actually is.

Video Vednesday First Person Mario

(I sincerely doubt that this whole "Video Vednesday" thing will happen weekly because I just don't see enough cool videos that I feel are good enough to share. But still, there are a few, and they are awesome.)

Freddiew recently made a new video called "First Person Mario" which is -you guessed it, the original Mario game from a first person perspective. There are a ton of things to love about this video: the (IMO) stunning graphics and physical movement, the tiny screen showing the exact same actions in the original 2D game, and the little FPS-esque messages that pop up like "Mario *shoe* Goomba."
I highly recommend you watch it, and check out the freddiew channel because that guys seriously has some skill when it comes to making well thought out and well executed videos.


Sunday, April 3, 2011

The Different Type of Youtubers

I don't really like YouTube much nowadays, partly from how Google is deciding it should be run, but also from the absolute crap that inhabits it. In my opinion, Youtube used to be good in the Numa Numa era (yes, Numa Numa was on Newgrounds first). The way the site worked was better (not based on partners and subscriber amounts) and the content just seemed to be better.

But anyway, here are the different type of Youtubers that I find:
  1. Quick-cuts Monologue: This is obviously a huge amount, especially when it comes to subscriber counts. This is the video of someone talking into the camera, sometimes daily, about whatever they want. The thing I hate about these is the quick cuts. They try to make it fast paced, I guess, but the content usually sucks. It's just presented in a way that makes it seem slightly more funny than it is (the Quick-cuts is today's laugh track). And the things they talk about are usually either non-important or just plain stupid. For example, some channels "review" other YouTube videos. Are you seriously? I mean, what the fuck? Why not watch those videos themselves? Why should I give a rats ass about what you have to say about it?
  2. Stupid Kids: Do you even need an explanation for these? There's almost a steady stream of kids that make it into the news because of messing with the wrong people. Some girl messes with an imageboard? She ends out crying and her dad sends the "cyber police" after the perps. A kid knocks Justin Bieber fans and insults two YouTube partners? He ends out making a crying apology saying he needs therapy. Here's a newsflash: this is getting old. For everyone. Stupid kids: get your asses off of YouTube, or at very least, know what you're saying. Which brings us to the parents, whom I think are the real criminals. You should be the ones telling your kids (a) don't intentionally try to piss people off on the internet, and (b) when you do, don't taunt them and make it worse. Parents should know by now that the internet is not just fun and games, and if you let your kids on places that are inhabited by adults, like YouTube, they will be the target of attack if they post stupid crap. And as for the perpetrators, I am not against them. I'm not necessarily in favor of sending the kids death threats, but they should be held accountable for their actions. Some people say "They're just kids! I did stupid stuff when I was a kid!" Yeah, true. But you did/should have had consequences. Letting a kid piss off a virtual community and then arguing that they should have no repercussions is like telling them "In life, do whatever you want and don't face the consequences." Some may argue that the response is too harsh, but I'd argue that's like arguing that being mauled by a bear after kicking its cub is an unfair response, instead of telling the kid "Don't kick bear cubs!" And finally, what pisses me off about the whole situation is how the kids always come off as the victim. They cuss into the camera, make deliberate threats toward specific people, then end out saying "I need therapy, waaaah", all because they are younger. Again, if you don't like getting struck by lightning, stop prancing around in a field holding a metal pole.
  3. Corporation Videos: This includes everything from commercials to tv shows to sports to news to music videos to everything that corporations own. Pretty much everything that YouTube should not be focused on, but makes up an absurd amount of the videos.
  4. Tech Reviews/Tutorials: There seems to be few of these, or maybe I'm just not finding them. skikarl is really good at being informative and interesting. And I'm not talking about the stupid people that make screencasts with HyperCam or dumb tutorials that either (a) don't know what they're talking about or (b) don't work. I'm talking good, solid reviews and tutorials. Like I said: few and far between.
  5. Just Plain Shit: Prime Example? Annoying Orange. Things that should never see the light of day, but somehow make it big.
  6. Music: Actually kind of ok, except there are wayyy too many people that post crappy covers.
  7. Good Funny/Cool Videos: These are less than 1% of Youtube. Things that are well planned, well made, and generally just good

Those are my thoughts, and why I stay away from YouTube. I have no doubt that there are actually good channels on it, but just trying to wade through the crap is too discouraging.

"Nerd" vs "Geek"

It occurred to me a while back that I might be using the word "nerd" out of context, and instead should be using "geek."

  • Someone with an extremely intense interest or fascination in an academic field of study. [1]
  • Understands, creates, and fixes really cool stuff. [2]
    • A Nerd is an “intellectual” who devotes large amounts of time to studying.
  • Nerds are raw brain power at its finest. [3]

  • Someone with an interest or lifestyle having to do with niche activities, especially fandom and technology. [1]
  • Understands and collects really cool stuff. [2]
    • In other words, they are someone who has a large amount of “useless” knowledge.
  • Geeks are now unilaterally almost always associated with fandom. [3]

I think I definitely have tendencies of both, and I hope that this blog is still adequately named: I aspire to be a nerd, particularly in the area of Computer Science, who understands it to better my career and the ability to create things. But I am still a Geek because I love video games, Firefly, and all that other good Geek culture stuff. All in all, the true question comes down to

The question is, does computer knowledge make you a nerd of a geek? [2]

.....or a little bit of both? Thoughts? Opinions?

[1] wikihow

Android still plays second fiddle to iOS when it comes to music

If you can't tell what this article is going to be about from the long-winded title, I've been wanting to switch to Android for quite some time, especially for the last two weeks. I've got a running list of things I want Android to do that iOS sucks at and also things that iOS can do that I also want to be able to do on Android. Here's just a few.

iOS sucks at:
  • Customizing the view of your SMS (Even with Winterboard, the themes available suck rocks)
  • Having a comfortable keyboard/autocorrect
  • Setting custom SMS tones (Jailbreaking helps this, but come on Apple)
  • Being able to play all Youtube videos, and videos on other sites
  • Cydia. Nough said.
Android should also:
  • Use SSH and SFTP (For school, one class I have requires these)
  • Customize everything a la Winterboard
  • Have apps such as iStudiez Pro, Simplenote, Pandora, VNC, Blogger, etc (btw, Android does)
  • Manage music
The only other thing I am slightly disappointed at is the lack of Netflix. From what I can tell, this is a hardware/DRM issue, but then again, it's not the biggest deal for me; the Netflix app for iOS sucks something fierce and I only use it if a Windows/Mac(/Linux WINE?) is not available.

Anyway, the point is that the last point was Music. You know, the thing that made iPod huge? (And arguably brought Apple back from the brink of disaster.) iPods and iOS are not spectacular about synchronizing music, but they get the job done. From my perspective, they don't do anything amazing or groundbreaking: they get your music to your device, and make sure to get all the details. The thing that worries me is that Android does not.

It seems to me like Google doesn't really care about making Android a good music manager, and that sucks. That's a bold claim, so here's some evidence to back it up:

Android can't:
  • Sync smart playlists
  • Sync ratings
  • Sync play counts
  • Perform things like "skip when shuffling" or "remembering playback position"
  • Sync lyrics
These aren't even the nitpicky things; a while back I was looking for an alternative to iTunes so I know pretty much everything that iTunes can do when it comes to syncing with devices. These are just the "essentials" in my mind because I use them constantly and my music listening experience would be crippled without them.

I don't really understand why Google has neglected simple features such as these. It's very easy (IMO) to create a music player, but to have one with functionality. I realize that some people like the simplicity of "drag and drop," but they should also realize that some of us prefer syncing. I respect that some people just like drag and drop, and that's why I like that Android offers that solutions; iOS requires that you use iTerror....I mean iTunes, even if you just want a simple media player. So it's nice that Android offers simplicity, but it should also offer a more complicated approach.

Now I'm not saying to get a proprietary database, but it would be nice to have even an XML or just use ID3 tags to store things like ratings and playcounts. Some apps do add some of these features like Winamp or Doubletwist, but I don't think Google should rely on 3rd party apps when it comes to something as essential as Music. (Especially when most of the good apps cost a few dollars.)

tl;dr: Google needs to step up their game and get a good music player that caters to both the folder drag-and-drop users and the library-database users.

It's not like Google would even have to create a desktop music manager; just leave the database on the microSD card and give out the specs so that people can write addons for Songbird or MusicBee or MediaMonkey or Winamp or foobar200 you get my point? The hard part is done, now we just need Google to step up and answer the call. Until then, I really don't think anyone can view Android as a decent music player.


A Theory on the Innovation of Apple

Despite what many sites say, I do not think that the iPad is innovative, the best in its field, or even responsible for its "copycats". If you think about it, tablet PCs have been around for ages but only recently were they popularized. Many would say that the iPad "lead the way," but I would argue differently.

See, here's how I think it goes. There are Apple zombies. Yes, there are. There are the people that will sell their iDevice 1 six months after buying it to buy an iDevice 2, losing hundreds of dollars in the process. It's not even the product that drives most of these people because I bet dollars to donuts that if you asked most of them why they're upgrading, few would give you a reason, let alone answer the question of "Is it worth it?" So what drives them? Well, it's Apple fanism. Apple tells them that a product is good/better, and they believe it. When looking at this from Apple's standpoint, this is insane marketing. They could release the "iPhone 4c", which just had a colored shell, and people would still drop hundreds of dollars to have one, which is very good from the view of a company.

But anyway, we've got all these people that will buy almost any Apple product because they own a different Apple product. So when Apple releases a new type of product, say the iPad, people flock to the stores to buy one, even if it's unoriginal on two fronts (a tablet PC and a giant iPod Touch). So what does this mean? It means that at this point, Apple has got the tablet market in its pocket because even people that don't follow Apple will hear about the iPad and then consider it. Of course, other companies want in on the action and start releasing their "imitators," a term which denotes that they are trying to be iPads. But are they really? I've yet to see a pattern of tablets striving to be like the iPad, other than just by being a tablet.

This begs the real question: does the increase in attention on tablets resulting from the iPad = copying the iPad? I would say no. I believe that tablets were just naturally coming, since we've more and more been making the link between mobile phone and desktop computers. Unfortunately though, especially after the lack of boom from netbooks (or lack of a big boom, rather), most companies were probably scared to try to dance into the tablet territory. Not the mention the fact that Android -the only OS really fitted for a tablet- had not yet stepped into the tablet ring, mostly because tablets had not existed yet. (Kind of a "chicken or egg" thing.) So in order to make the first large step, a company like Apple was needed to break the ice and introduce tablets to a market and give tablets a nice face. After the iPad's release, people were no longer skeptical, it was proven. Tablets are awesome. This opened the door for other tablets -not iPad imitators, just other tablets.

tl;dr: Apple's zombie users means that anything they release will sell, including that of tablets. The iPad "imitators" were not imitating the iPad, they only used the attention that came from the Apple zombies to tablets in general.

That's just my unpolished theory. If you disagree and plan on flaming me, stop. What part of "unpolished" and "theory" do you not understand?

Woohoo! Wallpapers!

After much work, I've finally organized all my wallpapers! It took a good while, but I now have 281 wallpapers in 15 different folders. They are all 1920x1080, since that's what my current monitor is; I've kept all the originals so if you want one, just e-mail me.

Obviously this will show a bit about myself, particularly in terms of movies and music and such. Some of them are definitely, NSFW, so you've been warned. Also, I've done my very best to give credit where credit is due, especially when it comes to DeviantArt. I really don't want to offend any artists but if you have a problem with me hosting it or not giving credit (i.e., the filename), please let me know.

Bry's Wallpapers