December 31, 2007

Spindling - Or, what to do with all those product keys

I've been rebuilding a machine at home over the holiday and wanted to share a trick that Ive indulged in over the past year. I'm particular about how I store my cds. I prefer to save them on a spindle. But, acting as a roadblock to this particular bit of tidiness is the cd cases with numbers on them. Yes, I'm talking about product keys. From operating systems to games to the rest, everyone has them. My games habit exposes me to them.

So, yeah, what do I do? I spindle them and email the product keys to myself. It's very refreshing and rewarding to do this. I have a tidy CD collection again. Thanks for listening. If I trusted rotating media more, I'd save the iso's to the home server.

Also: Hard drives -suck-. I had no less than 3 personal hard drives fail this year, and if I were not so damn obsessive about backing up my photos, I'd be a -very- upset fellow, I assure you. To wit: I backed up my main archive to 5 hard drives on three machines onsite and 2 spindles on 2 machines offsite. 3 spindles onsite failed, which left plenty of backup, but who experiences 3 hard drive failures at once?

Well, here's the coincidence. One was one of the first sata drives I bought and the other two were on the same p/s that went to the great capacitor recyclery in the sky. So now that everything is back to a stable state (5 spindles onsite, 2 off) I'm starting to think about online backup from a Mozy or something similar. I'd -hate- to lose my pictures and videos of the kids and , well, life due to something as stupid as an earthquake or something.

On Sound and Real Estate

So Christine (my wife) and I have been thinking about picking up some property up near where we used to live in Placerville. Mostly idle speculations, but one of the things that's important to us is the noise level on the property. You see, as a young girl, Christine would visit her uncles property on the American River and when it was pretty much unpopulated. No road noise, no trucks and the rest, you see. We asked the real estate dude to keep his eyes open for quiet river front property, accordingly.

And that's when the term 'jake brake' started being discussed around the house. You see, in the country, that's the big noise that can come from nearby highways, and something we're kind of interested in not hearing. Frannie, our daughter, hadn't heard the term before, so I found a video on youtube that plays a jake brake sound from a Jake Brake competition.

Wait, a what?

Yes, a competition to make the most noise with a truck. After hearing it, my daughter says "Is there are a competition for the littlest noise?", proving absolutely and without a doubt that she is related to us.

Speaking of which, if you are looking for some decent property in the Sonora area, my friend and co-editor Mark Stone is selling his house on 5.6 acres in the mountains overlooking that town. It's a very nice piece of property, with some pretty terrific trees, incredibly tall, almost shockingly so, I seem to remember. Good well, too. Check out the site he put together for it at

December 22, 2007

Google as done by XKCDs Randall Munroe

Recently, Randall Munroe, the artist behind the best online comic ever, came and visited the Googleplex and gave a very funny talk all about the comic, himself and urinals (watch the talk) and afterwards he did us the grand favor of doing a Google logo all XKCD style. Some folks have posted on flickr, but we scanned it in nicely and I figured, what the heck, lets get it out there.

(Click on it for a larger version. For those of you hitting this via the feed, you might need to click through to do so.)

December 19, 2007

Synthetic Feed Creation in Google Reader...or...You've Got Your Blogs Stuck In My E-reader!

Hello Egofoodians. Have you ever wondered if it was possible to subscribe to a particular tag in Google Reader?

For instance, suppose you, oh I don't know, have one of those new fangled e-book reader things that either charge by the feed or aren't that great at rendering html and you'd like to indicate which of your fabulous blogs are good for your device. Similarly some feeds mean more than others and some are better at posting full feeds than others, both important concerns when considering offline reader on a plane and such.

This was my exact quandary: I wanted to be able to read feeds on my Iliad e-book reader, but how was I to do it? How could I give it a snappy feed that allows for just the right blogs and such to show up on it, and the rest be left behind, like so much electronic detrius on the beach of unwantedness? Well, the answer comes in the form of Google Readers tagging system.

You see in the settings for your reader, you can turn a tag 'public' and then, by subscribing to this tags public feed, you can feed just the right mix of blog posts to a device, easy as pie. Kindle users , who must pay by the feed, should be delighted at this.

That's it! Enjoy your reader with your blogs. Thanks to CW for pointing me to this post telling me how...

December 6, 2007

The Most Funnest Google API Yet

Seriously, check it out, I present to you the Google chart API: You see, 4 out of 5 programmers agree that making charts is super easy. Well done on this, oh charts team....

December 4, 2007

Crankygeeks, now with more hair...

Almost forgot: John Dvorak had me up for Crankygeeks last week. Will he never learn? ;-) The comments are very nice about the extra hair I brought to the show. Mostly....

Also: I ordered a Kindle, it'll get here sometime in the next millennium. (they're back ordered) Once I get mine in I'll compare/contrast with the Illiad.

I Don't Think Anyone will be Quitting Gamespot over that

By now you've run across le' affaire de Gerstmann, the story of an intrepid game reviewer slagging the mediocre FPS Kane and Lynch by game company Eidos. But, sadly, I disagree with the idea that anyone else will be quitting CNET over this who wouldn't have done so anyway.

First off, I am not intimating that the folks who fired him, ostensibly to satisfy or placate an advertiser, are anything but total douche bags. An apology to my more delicate readers, there really isn't a better word to describe the moral compass that allows such indicated behaviors.

So why, you ask, why would our friends in the upper reaches of game journalism stick around a corrupt system? Well, simply put, where else are they going to go and still play video games for a living? The reality (as I perceive it) is that, like straight males in the porn business, game reviewers are often nothing more than people who take screenshots for a living and distribute the word 'fuck' around like its going out of style.

I speak from exceptionally limited experience: I once wrote an article for Boot (which became Maximum PC) reviewing the very fun GTA 2. This is when Grand Theft Auto was not the household name, Jack-Thompson-lawsuit attracting thing it is today, but back when missions included trying to kill the President from an overhead view. I came away thinking that a) what a fun job that would be full time and b) hating every minute of it. The editing was sloppy and given to 'enbitchenification' and in the end, they paid very slowly.

Its that last part that matters. Game reviewing doesn't pay its reviewers well at all, because, in the end, solidly good game reviews are a dime a dozen. A dime a gross. Anyone with a blogspot account can take a screen shot of their favorite or most hated game and be found instantly by Google or other search engines. I'm not saying that game journalism (dahling) doesn't exist, it does, in the form of the Escapist, for some, and the Penny Arcade blog for so many more. And wither trustable reviews? Take a look at Amazon, instead, which notes that the title is a 'rental only' and that 'The cover art is the best part of the experience'

I'll end this post by wish the best of luck to Jeff Gerstmann and know that there are plenty of jobs that pay better and , frankly, deserve the dedication you brought to your last job. Also, many of them, you'll be pleased to know, are douche bag free.