Monday, April 25, 2011


Day 387 of the Playstation Network outage... (online) friends have long since abandoned me, family member statuses are unknown, I haven't killed anyone - or even pulled the trigger - in Medal of Honor in so long I don't know if I even remember how (which button fires the gun? which button ducks? how do I toss a grenade?). Netflix seems to have resurfaced, despite the lack of PSN connectivity, leaving a slight glimmer of the former glory of online capabilities of the phenomenal black machines intact. Sony hasn't said much, although a minimal post on the Playstation Blog mentions that "an external intrusion" has affected the services. But we all know what happened...

Long ago, back when the Playstation 2 was still king of the consoles and Microsoft's Xbox was unable to turn around fully (rectified with the 360 release, of course), we saw the commercials (actually, this may have happened even before the PS2). Somehow, the execs at Sony - in the future - managed to send back, through some sort of time-portal-television-commercial interface, images of what was going to be taking place in 2078. Talk about phenomenal advertising - they're gearing up the past consumer to prepare the way for the future releases, virtually ensuring a monopoly on the video game market, altering their fiscal and technological landscape in ways unheard of by "regular" advertising. However, they didn't count on the repercussions of a whole industry. Unbeknownst to the future Sony execs, the now-relegated-to-minimized-community of alternative gaming platforms began working on their own devious plots. Since "mimic" advertising typically only serves to reinforce the originator, the "other guys" had to do something else. Something devious. Instead of their own time-traveling commercial ploy, they schemed and plotted a sinister attack on the very community that was going to be the driving force of the success of the Sony hardware. They sent back cyber-attacks on the Playstation network.

Crippling the network, they are attempting to destroy the loyal user base from which Sony will eventually rule the world. Fighting for their very survival, they are attempting to frustrate and infuriate the online community of Playstation owners and users to the point of rebellion, a rebellion without the rebels even realizing the enormity of the change being wrought.

Will they succeed? That's up to you, and up to me. Will the masses desert the Sony platform? Will they band together to support the now-struggling player in the gaming and entertainment industry? Will families and friends ever be reunited on Sony hardware, or will they have to turn to alternate platforms for social interaction? Only time will tell. If the video link above regarding Playstation 9 no longer exists, then you know that the vandals have won, and the Playstation Network may never be restored. As long as the video exists, however, there is a glimmer of hope for those of us who prefer a little "play" in our gaming and entertainment world.


OK, not really. It's been a little under a week since the network went down, and obviously there are other ways to communicate with our friends and family. And, as one article suggested, "Go outside for a while."

As for me, dinner's ready... I'm going to eat!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Jerky Flies

Recently I've found there is a fly (or some other similar, anoying, buzzing insect) that seems to have a knack for locating me once I step outdoors. It also seems to follow me wherever I go, which makes this Ares physique search troublesome at times. Fortunately, it seems to be ignoring me right now as I sit on my back patio eating beef jerky (and letting a little fall to my canine companion) and drinking a Coke Zero (no, I haven't walked today, but protein and diet drinks, that's good, right?). It's not unpleasant out; the thermometer out here reads about 78 (Fahrenheit), and the sun is behind some clouds (ok, really it's me behind the clouds, but you know what i mean). Near non-existent breeze, but it feels nice when it's felt.  Thinking about a storage shed for my considerably sloped back yard; Home Depot has a 10x8 resin unit by US Leisure for a decent price, but I'm not yet sure a) where exactly to put it; b) how to put it there. The slope of the yard is about one foot every 7 feet, so that's pretty high to put it on pillars (the door would be at the 14" off the ground side, or pointed toward the rear of the yard). The alternative would be to dig out and level the yard, but that's a lot of work, and we'd want to make sure we put it in the right location the first time, as it would be a lot more work to try to undo the leveling afterward if we wanted to relocate it (note to self: buy a lot sloping toward the back, not the front, next time; even better, a relatively level lot). Guess we'll probably go with the leveling route, eventually.

I just installed the app to my phone (to verify I'd spelled "Fahrenheit" correctly), and guess what? It has "search by speech" capability. That's right: you don't even have to know how to spell the word anymore to look it up - just say the word, and it'll find it for you! Technology is making life ever easier, isn't it? Unless you happened to want to watch Netflix instant on your PS3 right now; apparently someone decided to take it upon themselves to "punish" Sony for protecting their hardware by orchestrating a Denial of Service attack on anything Sony related online, including the Playstation Network. Meaning you can't sign in right now, meaning you can't access Netflix. Way to go, freedom of speech hacking group: you've blocked millions of legal users of the Playstation Network from using the services that they've paid to use. (I liked the one comment on a blog about the issue: something about spending some time outdoors.)

Anyway, guess I'll get back to enjoying the birds chirping. And just be glad that I titled the post the way I did. Imagine the content had I reversed the words in the title: fly jerky. Now there's a snack I'm not sure I want to try!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


So, over the last 48 hours or so I've repaired a car (radiator replacement) and a monitor (replaced two capacitors), for a total cost of about $203 (plus my own labor, of course). Saving about $10 grand in the process (assuming a replacement monitor cost of around $150-200 and a 5-year used car payment of around $200). I've come to the conclusions that 1) I'm awesome (OK, maybe that's only in my head); 2) I can fix anything (again, perhaps only in my head); 3) repairing things can be a cost-effective thing to do (quite cost effective in this case); 4) capacitors are a limited-life electronic component (that was the cause of the instrumentation lighting failure in my Lexus a couple years back, capacitors in the power supply, similar to the failure in my monitor); 5) the internet is a great source for info on repairing things.

I'm also spending some time repairing me, all the years of eating and lounging around have left my body in less than pristine condition. Toward that end, I've started walking (was never much of a runner) and, a little, push-ups and (when I can) sit-ups. (Having recently been watching Xena, I've decided i want to look like Ares - my wife says that's fine, just don't bother with chest hair implants, which I hadn't intended to pursue.) I wonder how many years it will take to undo everything I've done since high school? Not that I was particularly fit then, just that I didn't have such a belly and could, actually, do a good number of sit-ups and ride a bike quite a distance then without getting fatigued.

Speaking of Xena, I've now watched all 134 episodes. Silly show, of course. And having watched (most of) all 134 episodes, I can't say it's particularly life changing. Then again, I did decide I want to look like Ares (Kevin Smith), so maybe it was a good thing?

Ah, well, guess I'll get back to my walk now. Until next time, a topato!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Stuff & stuff

So, been on Froyo for half a week now. Guess it's OK... generally the phone feels "snappier" - jury's still out on whether it's improved the battery life. The WiFi calling is a mixed blessing - sometimes it works, and sometimes it pretends to work - other party can't hear me (which I think was one of the reasons the Froyo update for the Slide took so long, but apparently they didn't get it all worked out). And it still says "wifi calling uses plan minutes" - but we have "free wifi hotspot calling" from a grandfathered promotion on our phone plan, so it doesn't really (for me). Still could use more actual memory for the phone, but I haven't seen many "RAM upgrades" (or whatever) for the MyTouch 3G Slide. Oh well.

On the other hand, this was interesting: last night I called my dad to wish him happy birthday (yeah, he's a CPA, and his birthday is April 15). We eventually started talking about Simunomics, an interesting online game simulating "business." And, after a short while, I was talking to my dad on speakerphone, playing Simunomics on the phone's browser, and having a text-message conversation with a friend (whose power was out at the time). All while sitting in my recliner in the living room, with Xena on via Netflix on my PS3 (actually, Xena was paused; I won't be watching tonight, as my wife is out of town - I'm going to wait for her return before continuing; we're almost through with the entire show, about 10 or 12 episodes of the final season remaining). My, how technology has changed our world, and it just keeps marching on.

Now, for some tips to those of you using a Logitech GT Force Driving Wheel with GT5. Last year I (finally) got GT5 (I say "finally" as I'd pre-ordered it nearly a year before, and the release date just kept getting pushed back). With some of my Christmas money I bought the Logitech GT Force Driving Wheel, specifically for this game, and specifically to enter the Nissan GT Challenge. (I failed to make the cut in the challenge, in part due to the issues with the wheel; I was something like 9 seconds off the best pace of those who led the challenge, at least on the first of the three tracks.) At first I tried just putting the wheel in my lap, which was horrible. Eventually I attached it to a table-tray and set it up with a folding chair (the recliner wasn't conducive to working very well w/ the tray/wheel/pedal setup). Still found it quite annoying that the wheel didn't significantly improve my lap times any... in fact, it was easier to control the car with the standard PS3 controller. (Eventually my lap times did improve, but while faster, it was very difficult to control, and much less consistent than with the standard joystick controller.)

Well, I'd just about abandoned GT5 after that, instead playing Medal of Honor (with my brother, or my other brother, online, and sometimes with my 5-year-old nephew, who generally outperformed me in most cases). Today, though, GT5 has made a return to my play time. And the wheel. I've set up with the TV tray, and my "office" chair (works pretty well, actually, for this, although I really would like a Playseat). Was still finding the wheel awfully annoying, as it was way to easy to spin out the vehicles. Well, after running a few times, I finally decided to look at the options again, and found a setting for the wheel for amateur, professional, and simulation. This relates to how much the system "corrects" for oversteer. It was set to "amateur" - that is, the most "help" to correct an oversteering vehicle. Well, I looked at the descriptions, eventually decided to try "simulation," and instantly found a completely different controller. Gone was the unintentional spinout in every other corner, replaced by a smooth, realistic control/feedback system. (My theory is that both the controller/system and I were attempting to combat oversteer with countersteering, leading to sudden, excessive opposite-lock inputs that cause the vehicle to spin out in the opposite direction to the turn.) So, my tip is this: play with the various controller settings if you're not satisfied with your steering wheel's performance. (For GT5, it's under "options" on the "GT Mode" - left hand side of the screen.)

And if you want to give Simunomics a go, look me up - I'm in Bellerive, doing business as "None Yet, Inc." Why "None Yet?" Well, this is Microsoft's doing. Back when I had to reinstall Windows every other month, it would always ask me for my name and my company. For company, I always put "None Yet" (since this was a personal computer, and I don't yet own a company). Thus, anytime I start a company somewhere, I always call it "None Yet."

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Phones, Froyo, and Dragon Tales

After many long days, and temptations to jump early with a root and unofficial Froyo ROM for my MyTouch 3G Slide, T-Mobile (well, HTC) finally released Froyo (Android 2.2) for the Slide. See:  T-Mobile Announcement . Granted, I found that on the HTC web site before (a day before) I got the message announcement from T-Mobile. Yay, progress!

A few things:

1) I guess "move to SD" only moves a portion of the app, still leaving some space requirement on the phone itself (in this regard, Froyo helps, but the memory available on the Slide is still limiting as to the number of usably installable apps; still it's increased with Froyo)

2) WiFi calling says "still uses plan minutes" even though we have a grandfathered "unlimited hot spot" add-on to our Family plan

3) I think I still prefer "Launcher Pro" as my launcher of choice

4) With AT&T's purchase of T-Mobile (, I still have to wonder whether my phone will ever be running 3G speeds around here; T-Mobile's 3/4G network hasn't been implemented (some military network is still using the bandwidth in this area), and AT&T's 3G is a different spectrum than what this phone supports. Oh well?

I have yet to make use of other new features, such as WiFi hot spot for tethering (no call to do so as of yet), so I can't comment on those features. The first call I made connected to WiFi the other party couldn't hear me, but second call was OK.

Regardless, this breathes new(er) life into my one-penny Slide (yes, I got the phone for a penny, about a year ago). Performance seems slightly better (perhaps from freeing up some memory by moving apps to the SD card), and it'll help with the spotty cell coverage around my house. I still wish i had a rubberized battery cover, as the Slide cover is pretty slick. Also wish I had a battery with a higher capacity, as I've never been impressed with the battery life on the Slide (the old Nokia E-71 was much nicer in this respect).

My nieces are visiting for a couple of days (along with my sis-in-law, while my bro is in Iceland for his job). Tonight we turned on Dragon Tales on Netflix. After watching a few minutes of it, I said, "This is the pilot episode, isn't it?" Followed shortly thereafter by, "It's sad that I can tell that, isn't it?"  Both questions were answered affirmatively by all other adults in the room.

Anyway, glad to finally have Froyo on my Slide. Thanks, HTC and T-Mobile!