30 September 2008


If you occasionally enjoy reading comic books and are even further out-of-the-loop than I am, the following contains spoilers for The Death of Captain America.

Let me get this straight.

Captain America’s sidekick, Bucky... One of the few comic book characters that had managed to stay dead... Who’d become a symbol of a character who stayed dead... Whose death served a major role in Captain America’s character... Whose death served as a reason why Marvel heroes don’t have kid sidekicks...

Is back from the dead.


Cap dies and the retcon’d back to life Bucky becomes the new Cap.

My head hurts. I’m going to have a little lie down now.

29 September 2008

More of the same

If it’s more of the same on both sides, I’d rather have more of the Clinton years than more of the Bush years.

PS2 progressive scan & DVDs

In the Playstation 2 as DVD player saga, there was one tricky bit. To enable 16:9 and progressive scan, you have to start a DVD, hit “stop” twice, and then go to the settings menu. If you don’t hit stop twice, the 16:9 and progressive scan options won’t even show up.

And I believe this is only available on the newer, smaller PS2s.

The good news is that Sony actually has a knowledge base article on this on the PS2 support web site.

28 September 2008

Presidential debate 08 impressions

Jim! You’re a moderator, not a therapist!

It seems kind of ironic how McCain keeps emphasizing how he’s worked on these things his whole career and still hasn’t made progress on them.

Barack, we need to invest in education beyond science and technology. We may need to improve, but we need to be more well-rounded too.

McCain, the guy who has been signing all those spending bills is your president.

We had a surplus under a Democratic president, a Republican president who never saw a spending bill he didn’t like, and a Republican presidential candidate complaining about greed on Wall Street. O_O

Hmm. McCain has been to all these foreign countries, yet he still has shown very poor judgement about them.


When my wife and I bought our first Playstation 2, it was also our first DVD player. Using the game controller as a DVD remote wasn’t so great. Some companies made remotes that came with a sensor you plugged into the controller jack. That didn’t prove much better.

Soon enough, we had a regular DVD player. Besides, we wanted a “progressive scan” model to take advantage of the HDTV we’d bought. We didn’t have any HD programming yet, but we had plenty of DVDs.

Eventually, some Playstation 2 games featured progressive scan mode as well. With “component video cables”, we could also use our TV’s extra resolution with those games.

When the U-Verse box was being installed, I realized the DVD player and Playstation 2 had claimed both component inputs on the TV. To get HD from U-Verse, it needed to be connection via component cables too. (My TV is pre-HDI.)

Not too long ago, our Playstation 2 gave up the ghost. So, we upgraded to one of the new thinline models. Turns out the new Playstation will play DVDs in progressive scan mode. It also has a built-in remote-control sensor.

The U-Verse box (like most cable and satellite boxes) comes with a remote you can program to control TVs, DVD players, and other components. Sure enough, the first code for Sony DVD players worked with the Playstation.

So, much happiness. It seems the Playstation can pull double-duty as a decent DVD player. Freeing up the component inputs the DVD player was using for the U-Verse.

27 September 2008

U-Verse first impressions

AT&T U-Verse brings what they always told us fiber optic cables would. A single data connection goes into a U-Verse “gateway”. Out of the gateway comes telephone, video, and Internet.

The U-Verse digital telephone is VOIP, but the gateway provides POTS. It’s hooked directly into the existing wiring in the house, so—to my phones—nothing has changed. AT&T even installs a UPS for the gateway so that your phone will still work if there’s a power outage. Perhaps the best part of the U-Verse phone service is that you can check your voice-mail online. Does this mean iPhone-esque visual voice-mail for my home phone? We’ll see. I haven’t gotten a message yet.

The U-Verse video also hooked directly into my house’s existing video cable. It’s a digital signal—not straight video—over the coax, so you need a set-top box for each TV. The living room box includes a DVR. Both boxes support HD. You can’t currently watch recorded shows from the non-DVR box, but the tech that installed it tells me they’re currently testing that capability. So far, it’s at least comparable to Dish Network. I don’t think we lost any channels, and we did gain a few that I wanted. With the Dish DVR, we could only record two programs at once (and it mattered which TV you set up the recording from). With U-Verse, we can record up to four shows simultaneously. Perhaps the best part is that you can search for programs and manage recording online.

From a user interface perspective, the video service is as good as any other service I’ve used. Looks really good, though. Very slick.

The Internet service is pretty straightforward. The gateway acts as a router (NAT) and Wi-Fi access point. I turned off the Wi-Fi since I have a Time Capsule. Currently, both the U-Verse gateway and the Time Capsule are doing NAT. I’ll probably disable NAT on the Time Capsule.

Of course, bundling all these services has cons as well as pros. A single-point of failure for multiple services being the most obvious disadvantage.

I have to say, the guy who did the installation was knowledgeable and efficient. I was lucky that I didn’t have any problems with signal strength or needing additional wiring or anything, but I’m sure this guy would’ve handled any challenges as well as could be done.

So, those are my first impressions. Anyone who’s interested in my impressions after I’ve lived with it for a bit, give me a poke when your ready for a follow-up, and I’ll try to oblige.

14 September 2008


4e sort of feels like a McD&D to me.


13 September 2008

World record guitar speed 2008

A YouTube video of Tiago Della Vega setting the world record guitar speed (2008)

Just let it finish loading and skip straight to 7:39 for the fastest run.

Is there any point to playing this fast? Musically, not much. Being able to play faster than you need to, however, means you’re not struggling when playing as fast as you do need to. That means you can devote energy to how you play the notes, not just getting them played in time.

So, while I’m not a huge fan of shredding for the sake of shredding, I don’t think it is completely pointless.

12 September 2008


If I was a McCain supporter...and there was a time when I was a potential McCain supported...I’d be very put out.

  1. Abandons many of his principles to run towards Bush
  2. Tries to call this staying the course position “change”
  3. Hammers the (nonsense) experience angle
  4. Picks a running mate as vulnerable to the experience argument as anyone
  5. The “claim to change” which that running mate trots out is misleading at best

Oddly enough, this all seems to be working short term. I like to believe this is sealing his doom long term, but Bush got elected...twice!

It’s fun when you search a list of Bush quotes for “logic” and it says “not found”.

11 September 2008

Bored with science

One of the reasons kids get bored by science is that too many teachers present it as a fusty collection of facts for memorization. This is precisely wrong. Science isn’t about facts. It’s about the quest for facts—the scientific method, the process by which we hash through confusing thickets of ignorance.

Clive Thompson

I think my teachers did a pretty good job here, but I think that more often we could have done the same experiments that shaped and supported theories.

02 September 2008

A d20 game with two classes

I’ve been toying with this idea on-and-off. (No doubt somebody has already done something like this.)

Take the generic classes from the (3.5e) UA. Drop the Expert. Bump the skill points of the Warrior and Spellcaster classes to what the Expert got.

Perhaps create a third class—I’ll call in Munchkin in lieu of a better name—which would be a Warrior/Spellcaster built using the fractional base bonuses (UA p. 73).

On the other hand, you could just use the straight multiclass rules. Maybe—at the least—create one-level class similar to the appentice level rules to allow a PC to be a Warrior/Spellcaster at first level.

Generic Spellcasters get access to all the cleric, druid, and wizard spells. While, in this system, I wouldn’t make the normal divine/arcane distinction, I have thought of making a different distinction. Spells from the wizard spell lists might be difficult to acquire and might come with an additional cost.

Other UA rules I’d consider using:

01 September 2008


My wife of nine years, Andrea, moved out this weekend. It’s officially a separation, but she’s made it pretty clear our marriage is over.

Let the record show, I love her and always have. I still remember the day we met. I was always faithful. I tried to always put her first. I wanted to grow old with her. I promised “until death do us part” and I was committed to that. Not because I promised, but because I loved her enough to promise her that.

Since I learned that she was unhappy around the first of the year, I’ve learned a lot of mistakes that I made. Given my limited experience and what I knew, I think I did my best. Perhaps not.

Once I did know that she was unhappy, I certainly did my best to save the marriage. We found no differences that I believe were irreconcilable. But, as our marriage counselor was wont to say, it takes two yeses but only one no. My best wasn’t good enough.

I know I’ll survive. I know I’ll move on. I expect I’ll love again. I know I have friends and family who love me.

But right now, none of that matters, because my heart is broken. I failed in the one thing I wanted to do in life: Make Andrea happy. I failed to give my children a happy, whole home.

Edit: There is now a follow-up.