Wednesday, December 29, 2010

A Hello Again and A Quick Mention

I've been on, what I suppose you could call, a hiatus for the past couple months. Life happened, my health hasn't been the best, and in the midst of it all I lost my motivation. Just thought I'd let anyone still hanging around the site know I'm alive and plan to start writing again as soon as I can muster something up.

In other news, my brother's blog, A Green Mushroom, is doing well. It even got mentioned in a Massively article. I'm proud of him, staying motivated when I can't. Great work bro!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Google Keyboard Navigation: I Loathe You

Google has done a lot for the web and the internet. They are pioneers in so many things, that I probably can't remember them all off the top of my head. While Google has made many things I love (Google Search, Gmail, Google Chrome), many things I feel indifferent about (Google Docs, Google Desktop, Blogger), and many things I don't have a use for (Google Health, Google Earth, Google Voice), I have never hated anything they have made.

Seeing how I mentioned hating something by Google, you can probably guess that I finally hate something they've done.

Google released Google Instant recently, which instantly updates the Google results page as you type. I love it, I think it neat, cool, groovy. Then, to make it "easier" to use, they updated the results page with keyboard navigation. With keyboard navigation, when you hit up or down on the arrow keys, you arrow through the results, kind of like selecting something from a menu with arrow keys (video above).

This is supposed to help you, but for me, it's awkward, jarring, and not what I expect when I hit the arrow keys. If you use the arrow keys often when browsing the web, like me, you should be familiar with their standard function of scrolling. You should be able to scroll on my blog, trying hitting the up and down arrow keys now. See that scrolling action? I bet you can understand how frustrating it is when that doesn't work when searching Google.

Google, please remove keyboard navigation and let me scroll using arrow keys, like every other webpage on the internet.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Intel Sells 'Upgrades' to Unlock Processor Features That Should Never Have Been Locked

It was recently discovered that Intel is selling $50 cards that unlock processor features in the Intel Pentium G6951. The pre-upgrade locked version of the G6951 is a dual-core Core i3 processor running at 2.8GHz with 3MB of included L3 cache and no Hyper-Threading. With this upgrade card you are able to unlock Hyper-Threading and an additional 1MB of L3 cache. While this is a noticeable upgrade, Intel has no excuse as to why these unlockable features are locked in the first place.

Locking processor features is nothing new in the industry. Intel has been doing it for years, but for reasons that aren't about ripping off customers. Traditionally, processor features are locked when it is discovered that a part of a processor is defective. Locking these defective parts of a processor allow the processor to run correctly, at the cost of some speed. These processors are then sold, as a lower end processor model, for a discounted price. There's nothing wrong with this, it's a good use of defective hardware that would otherwise be thrown away and allows customers to buy cheaper, slower processors that still work well.

This upgrade plan that Intel is trying out is the opposite of good business. It's blatantly locking functional sectionals of a CPU in order to try to choke money out of unknowing customers down the line.

To top it off, Hot Hardware already did the research for something that I suspected. This is what they found out:
"The $50 price tag, however, isn't much of a deal. According to Intel's own records, the G6950 currently sells for $87 in 1K lots. $51 higher up the ladder, there's the Intel Core i3-550. Compared to the G6950/6951, the i3-550 is 400MHz faster, includes Hyper-Threading, offers the same 4MB of L3, and officially supports DDR3-1333 as opposed to just DDR3-1066. As an added bonus, its GPU is 200MHz faster than the G6950's (though we don't know the 6951's GPU clock yet). Given Intel's current price structure, a Core i3-550 system is likely to be a better deal."
I'm very disapointed in you Intel. I thought you were better than this.

Friday, July 16, 2010

The YouTubes

I try to not put up youTube videos much(except StarCraft of course). I don't want to be a youTube blog, I want to be a me blog. Which might not be much better, but at least I don't spam youTube clips. Every once in a while, though, I feel that I should share some of the videos that made be smile. Today, is one of those days.

Friday, June 18, 2010

DRM: Product/CD Keys

I remember the first time I ever saw a CD key. It was on the original StarCraft. I remember wondering why you needed it. Oh, how young and naive I was back then.

CD keys or product keys were one of the very first methods of DRM used. They were quickly adopted by game companies and are still used today. They work by having a unique set of characters and/or numbers for each product sold. This key, upon installation, was used to validate a game copy's legality.

At first, this validation process was just an algorithm. This algorithm checked a set of rules against the key. If it met all the rules then the copy was recognized as legit and installation would continue. If it failed this rule check, the copy was viewed as illegal and the installation would fail.

The problem with this approach, is that it's very easy for pirates and hackers to discover this algorithm. Once discovered it's another short step to create an algorithm that will spit out "legit" keys. This is called a key gen and, even today, you can still find them for many games.

With the spread of the internet a new method of authenticating keys came about. Instead of checking the key with an algorithm, the key is instead checked against a database online. This database holds every key ever created for a product. A lot of the time these keys still use an algorithm for their creation and still follow a set of rules. The difference is that legit keys not only have to pass this algorithm, but they also have to be in the database.

This database makes it harder for pirates and hackers to install their illegal copy, but not impossible. In a case like this, pirates usually avoid using keys altogether. Instead of having it check a key you just trick the program installer into believing it did the check or, better yet, remove the check altogether.

So, why are product keys still in use today? Well, they stop just anyone from stealing the game. Everyone can install a program, but not everyone can create a key gen.

Why are so many other DRM solutions shunned, yet product keys aren't even blinked at? It's because product keys are unobtrusive. The user generally deals with them only once, at installation time. After that point the user is never bugged again.

Lastly, why aren't product keys the be-all end-all for DRM? Because they're laughably hackable, nothing more than an annoying gnat. They're there to stop the every day Joe and Jane from stealing the game, but will be quickly swatted aside by any hacker.

Friday, June 4, 2010


SecuROM is a class of DRM that runs disc-checks and does online activation. It is meant to tie a game to either one disc or a certain number of online activations. The disc check means you need to carry the disc with you wherever you play, but this isn't a big deal since we had been doing this for years before online retail.

The problem comes up with the online activation. The activation method basically gives you a number of tokens. When you install the game on a machine, the games activates itself and uses one of these tokens. When you run out of tokens you can no longer install a new copy of the game. Effectively, this locks you to a specified number of computers.

This seems like a fitting idea, until you realize that people upgrade and buy new computer. They even reinstall their operating system. In all of these cases, you have to use another token to activate your software again. In this way, you can see how people can legitimately run out of tokens and need more. You can also extrapolate that this will get some people mad.

This can be clearly seen with BioShock. BioShock, using SecuROM, came with a limit of five activations and, at first, there was no way to get your activation back. As expected, some people had trouble. And as one user tactfully put it, "2k has screwed us over. We are renting this game."

The developers of BioShock quickly came out with a Activation Revoke Tool to allow recovery of activations, but the damage had been done and the backlash continued and six months later, the activation limit was completely removed. Even more telling, when BioShock 2 came out, activations had been removed and SecuROM was relegated to disc-checking only.

This is a popular trend with companies that once used SecuROM's activation deciding to jump ship. Other's have seen the hassle online activation has caused and decided to avoid it all together.

But with all the problems that SecuROM causes, does it work? The answer is no, it does not. BioShock was cracked within days of its release. Spore, which has SecuROM, was the most pirated game of 2008. So, for all the hassle SecuROM causes customer, it in no way stops hackers from cracking the game. It even makes some people turn to pirating.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Thought Experiment: The Seer

I am going to tell you the same situation twice, once from an external point of view and again from an internal. Everything stated is true.

A woman sits at a bar murmuring to herself. A guy walks in and sits next to her. He attempts to strike up a conversation.

The woman promptly freaks out, calling him a murderer and screaming for him to get away. The guy, now surprised and flustered, backs off. The woman continues to scream, now yelling at others, telling them to stop this man before he murders again.

The other customers are shocked and do nothing. Seeing that no help is coming, the woman takes it into her own hands. She grabs a knife from behind the bar and goes at the guy, stabbing him over and over, until the other customers managed to restrain her.

She had been born with a gift to be able to see the future. This future sight had manifested as voices in her head. They talked to her, telling her things throughout the day and she thanked them whenever they helped her avoid something unpleasant. Sometimes she'd even strike up a conversions with the beings in her head over some drinks.

Which is what they had been doing when the guy sat next to her at the bar. Her bodiless companions quickly told her that the guy planned on drugging her and killing her later that night, and that she had to get away as quickly as possible.

She might have over reacted just a touch, calling him a murderer, but she had panicked. The voices had always been right before and if they told her to get away from something or she'd die, she did as she was told.

After being called a murderer, the guy backed off. Relief shot through her until her companions told her the obvious, if he wasn't targeting her, then he would target another innocent girl. She had to stop him, before he got away and killed someone.

Turning to the other customers for help, she screamed at them. Trying franticly to get them to stop the murdering man before he got away. Why were they just staring at her? Why wouldn't they help?

She looked around quickly, her eyes landing on the knife behind the bar. Taking it up she rushed him. He had to be stopped.

She thrust the knife into him, not stopping until she was pulled away.

Here's the list of symptoms the woman exibits from the external view:
  • Auditory Hallucinations (Hearing Voices)
  • Delusions (He's going to murder me)
  • Paranoia

From the outside this looks like an obvious Schizophrenic case.

But we must remember, as I stated earlier, all facts are true. In other words, the voices in her head really can predict the future. Therefore, the guy was going to kill her and he was going to kill someone else if he wasn't stopped.

This being so, here are the questions I would like you to try to answer...
  • Is she schizophrenic?
  • If not, what is she?

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

A Rant on Blog Networking

Everyone wants to know how they can get more people to visit their blog. The answer is first, write good content. No one's going to want to hang around your blog if you don't write things they want to read. The second answer is to do, what I like to call, Blog Networking.

Blog Networking is when you comment on other people's posts. This can just be a random thought or you might relate it to a post you wrote, linking to it in the process. Either way, this helps get people to your blog. With the normal comments, if there's a link to your profile and your profile has a link to your blog, people that look at your profile could possibly come to your site. This, however, does not bring nearly as many people to your blog as the linking comment. These comments put a direct link right in front of people's faces and many more people will be willing to click through that link to your post.

The problem I find with this is that every time I do a linking comment I feel dirty. It feels almost like spam, like all you're saying is, "Look at me!", even though whenever I do it, I try to make it relevant. So, I don't do it much. Which means my blog doesn't get noticed and it doesn't grow, because, with all the blogs out there nowadays, you have to do something special to get noticed. It's like you have to be a spammer of sorts, writing these comment, if you want to get anywhere.

Which brings up the question of why I'm doing this. Is it just for the attention? Well, I write this blog to practice my writing. People kept telling me I was a good writer and without this blog I tended to not use my writing skill. So, I started this blog to better myself and have fun while doing it. However, I can only do this for so long before I feel like I'm shouting off into empty space and start to get discouraged with that running on a treadmill feeling. So, I need readers to help encourage me, even if it is just a small group.

Well, this turned into a rant. I didn't mean it to, but it is what it is. So, if you made it this far I have a proposal for you for some Blog Networking.

I've been meaning to ask about good blogs that are out there. I want to start reading other blogs and have no idea how to find one's I'm interested in. If you have some suggestions, be it your own blog or someone else's, I'd love to know about them. Just leave any suggestions in the comments and I'll take a look.

Just a Thought: Filling A Post

I just answered some Open Saturday questions in a batch, saying it would be to much work to put them in separate posts. While this seems odd, in that I should write the same amount no matter how or where I answer the questions, this isn't the case.

You see, when I write a blog post there's this feeling that it can't be to short. I end up writing filler and while I try to go into more detail with the filler, it was not content I'd planned on writing when I started the post. This filler does, usually, makes the post better, but, in a trade off, it makes me take longer writing it.

So, combining posts can save me some time.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Just a Thought: Defenestrate

I get a word of the day from and usually I kinda know the word. Today, however, I did not at all.

To throw out of a window.

That's a complicated and very situational words right there. Now, get out of here, before I defenestrate you.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Just a Thought: Texting Awake

Quite often I'll text my brother the one word question, "Awake?" It's an odd question. It's a question that you can't answer no too, because you have to be awake to answer it. So, really, in truth, the answer is perpetually no until you get a response, at which point, the response is always yes.

Monday, February 15, 2010

The Name Game

What's in a name? A lot.

Every time you create a new character, there comes a time where they need a name. If you think this is easy then chances are, you don't write stories. For me, the name is everything. The name is the character and the character is the name.

What sucks for me is lists of names don't work. This universe my characters come from isn't earth and they don't have earth names unless they come from earth. Some characters do, but not many. In the giant database in my brain where this universe exists, I can only think of three characters with earth names. The rest are up to me to create and it's a hard thing to do.

Usually I'll end up staring at my computer, pecking at the keyboard trying to come up with something that works, that fits who they are or who they will be. Tonight, I'm completely stumped. This is why there's no part 2 of Life Reborn so far.

I tried to get by without giving her a name yet. It worked too, until I planned ahead some more and realized, she needs a name here so that it will be connected to future events. I need you, the reader, to connected multiple scenes together and I see now that the connection is her name. So, I'm stuck, staring at my screen, stumped and nameless.

Wish me luck, I'll get part 2 up as soon as I can.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Just a Thought: Olympic Game

I'm watching the Olympics and I feel like I should have a bingo card with countries so I can mark them off as I see them. Maybe a map that I can color in countries.

You know, in case the Olympics isn't exciting enough.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Google Chrome Starts Fast!

I've use Google Chrome exclusively for about 4 months now and love it. There's been a few times where I've had to move over to firefox because something doesn't work, but it's no big deal. One thing that I lover about chrome is how fast it starts. It's almost instantaneous. Well, Google made an ad to show this and let me say, this is one of the best ads I've ever seen.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Just a Thought: Cruise Pools

Why do we put pools on boats? Think about it, you make a boat to keep out water and then you install a pool? What the hell.

Blogger Toolkit: Webmaster Tools

So, you started a blog and aren’t sure how to make it better? Blogger Toolkit is about some tools of the blogging trade that I’ve found useful.

Even if you've used blogger for awhile you may not have noticed the Webmaster Tools hang out at the bottom of blogger's dashboard.

"Hey guys what's up?"

Well, it's there and it's very useful.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Brotherly Blogging

My brother just started a blog about gaming. I spent a good chunk of my night helping him set it up. He's really demanding, but I love him anyways.

He should have some interesting things to says. Check it out here.

P.S. His blog looks so much nicer than mine. I've been to lazy to make a banner and change colors. Hopefully I'll get to that this week.

P.P.S. He made me a banner. I knew I liked him for a reason.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Just a Thought: Adholics

What has this country come to when we watch the Super Bowl for the commercials? Of course, I really can't complain, I watch it too. I feel sorry for the people who want to see the actual game. When do you go to the bathroom? Just went to the bathroom between commercials, when the game was on. How sad.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Just a Thought: Blog Forest

If a blogger types in a forest and no one reads his posts does his keys make a sound?

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Taking Notes The Google Way... Again

I posted a few days ago about my note taking adventures with Google Docs. The very next day I had an even more interesting experience taking notes, this time with Google Wave.

For those of you who don’t know what Google Wave is, to steal the description from this page by Google, it’s “…an online tool for real-time communication and collaboration. A wave can be both a conversation and a document where people can discuss and work together using richly formatted text, photos, videos, maps, and more.” Or in my own words, it’s like taking email, IM, and Google Docs, smashing them together and stirring well.

I can say that it’s really hard to fully understand what Google Wave is without seeing and using it for yourself. Also, I’d always heard you’d never truly understand how useful (and awesome) Google Wave is until you collaborate with someone using it. Well, on Monday I got to finally use Wave for the first time where it shines best, when working in tandem with someone else.

Currently this semester, a friend of mine and I are in a Network Architecture class together. It’s really hard for me to pay attention in that class because the teacher is very hard to follow. I think my friend was having the same problem, so I suggested that we take notes in Google Wave together. On Monday we did just that and it worked ridiculously well.

My teacher uses power point during class and we copied down the slides by working together. One of us would start at the top of the slide; the other would then take the next part of the slide. From there we’d frog hop over each other until we finished what was currently on the screen. We also both added any little notes we thought would be helpful and, when we found the time, organized our quickly typed information. Basically we’d write down much more in a much shorter time and I’d say that the quality was better than if you took the notes by yourself. That gave us more time to listen to the teacher and try to figure out what she was saying (she’s foreign and quiet, if you’ve been there you know what I’m talking about).

The best part was when someone blocked my view. I was in the middle of typing a sentence when someone moved their head and blocked the end of what I was typing. Normally this would be a bad thing, but with Wave it was easy to get around the problem. I just wrote within parentheses, “(can’t read anymore).” My friend saw it and replaced what was in parentheses with the rest of the sentence. That’s teamwork.

Google Wave was made for this and it serves its purpose wondrously. All that’s left to do is get the whole class onto Wave. Now that would be some good notes.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Just a Thought: Yawns Per Hour

You know when you yawn and you get the person next to you to yawn too? You ever wonder what the longest distance one yawn has traveled going from person to person or is that just me?

Monday, January 25, 2010

Taking Notes The Google Way

In grade school they always would say, “Take note so you can study them later.” It was even worse when teachers would check your notes and grade them, because then I couldn’t sit there and just pretend I was taking them. I always hated this. I’ve never been much for taking notes. I learn by listening, not by writing and I can’t count the number of times I’ve missed something the teacher said because I was writing something else down. Whenever I do write something down I usually never look at it anyways and when I do look something up, half the time I took the wrong notes. So, when it comes to note taking, I figure my wrists take enough abuse when I’m on the computer and that they deserve a break during class.

Recently, however, I’ve been in classes that are very complex and there’s really no way that I can remember everything just from listening. Most teachers will post their power point slides and I just study from that. This semester however, my Psychology teacher isn’t posting her slides and said that we’d need to take our own notes. So, I tried something interesting last week, I actually took notes in Psychology 101. I know it shocks me too.

“What’s special about that?” you ask. Well, I did it on my computer in Google Docs. I’ve always hated paper notes because of all the writing and I’ve always hated using Microsoft Word because it ties you to one computer. Google Docs fixes both those problems.

With Google Docs I was able to type my notes, which I don’t mind doing cause I can type much faster than I can write. What happened tonight though is what really caught my interest. I had to take a quiz by midnight and thought I should study a bit first. My notes were taken on my laptop and I was currently working on my desktop. That wasn’t a problem. I just went to Google Docs and opened my notes. No computer booting, file transferring, or downloading was needed, just a bookmark and a few clicks and I was there. I also noticed after studying and taking the quiz that I take much better note when I type; probably because I can type so much faster that I’m not afraid to add more information. I was also able to reorganize my notes quickly and easily while taking them on the computer if the teacher added more info to a previous topic.

The notes really helped, I guess this semester in Psychology I’ll actually be taking notes and using them.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Just a Thought: Text Books

I had two professors say to me the other day, "You should bring your book to class every day, that's why I picked one that was light."

They seem to not understand that when every professor wants you to bring the book they still weigh a ton.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Night Owl – HOO HOO!

I’m a night owl.

Huh? You don’t believe me? Well if you need proof just look at when this was posted. It is now 2am in my little part of the world as I write this. I earnestly do not feel tired (okay, you caught me. Maybe I’m a little tired). This is how I operate consistently. I love staying up late.

People constantly tell me I should get more sleep. Those are the ones that are up at the crack of bloody dawn. Some of them are probably up before I even get in bed. And even the ones that aren’t that insane are up by 8am. In fact, everything and everyone seem to run on an 8am-10pm schedule.

Everything closes at 10pm. Everyone goes to sleep and the ones that stay up are “too tired.” It sucks for me because that’s when I’m really at the peak of my day. That’s my lunch time you could say. Somehow, the socially acceptable “awake hours” don’t line up well with my body clock. It’s like some sick joke.

So, I’m here to ask you how you do it. How, you… you Morning Birds can get up with the sun. How you can bounce out of bed in an instant while I’m hitting the snooze for 2 hours. Even worse is that you little birdies are doing homework at 9am while I’m still in bed. The last thing I want to do in the morning is work. Maybe it’s the coffee. You know, that bitter icky liquid you can somehow trick your body into enjoying. It’s turned you into little hyper humming birds.

“But wait Mister Night Owl,” I can hear you asking, “if you have trouble getting up shouldn’t coffee be the first thing you reach for?”

Simple answer, no. Caffeine makes me jittery. It makes me do that annoying bouncing leg thing that shakes the whole table. The fundamental problem isn’t that I can’t stay awake (how could I stay up late then? Hmm?), it’s that I don’t like waking up.

You see, there’s so much crap in my life from day to day that it becomes this nagging thing in my brain. I wake up and I have all this stuff to do. Some days I enjoy it, others it’s like this never ending list of things I hate. At night, when I’m up late, all of the day’s crap is behind me and all my future crap is tomorrow and tomorrow is still hours and a night’s sleep away. It is a pressure free time and I don’t rush to bed to get it over with, I stay up to enjoy it. That’s why I’m a Night Owl.

So, I ask, how do you Morning Birds do it? Because, as far as I’m concerned, you Birds can keep your early worms and I’ll just stay happily up in my tree, hooting away.

Welcome To Lost In Neurons

Welcome to my random blog. I really can't keep a topic specific blog going because my mind tends to be all over the place. The stuff here will be whatever is on my mind. I hope it's not too boring. Please tell me what you think once I get something written.