Category Archives: Hyperlinks

Steam stuff

Having been on Steam now for over 10 years (really): I remember the days that Reddit’s most popular games delivery system was oh so unstable and bug-ridden. I also remember ordering my very first Steam game on-line, which was X3-Reunion. It was a brilliant game that I played on a Toshiba laptop.

Anyway: Steam’s making its foray into the consoles world via their SteamOS (Wikipedia, Valve): a Linux-based OS that will run all current Linux Steam games. Valve is (reportedly) talking to third-party publishers to publish games for this new OS. If this concept will, lets say bear games: who knows. Generally speaking, if successful, it may finally put Linux to the fore. I’m personally excited to be able to run SteamOS on my crappy laptops.

Last but not least a critical note: I sort of agree that thanks to Steam a lot of crappy games have been published and it almost looks like game devs and publishers don’t care in what state their software is. For example, Egosoft’s “X-Rebirth”, a product that supposedly took 7 years to be developed, was released as a full product a couple of weeks ago. I’ll be frank: it’s horrible, ridden with bugs and while it works, heavily un-optimized. I gave up after playing a 9 hours into the campaign mode. I’ve yet to decide if I’ll wait for any updates or not: My impression is that while Egosoft went to the bank (“EXCELLENT SALES!!1″), that their X-Universe IP is soon to expire. I hope not, but yeah, that bad.

Random Christmas stuff

Now that vacation is sort of settling in, the following links attracted my full attention. In order of interest and heritage. I think.

The Dutch language is a very ‘adopting’ language: as opposed to the French, the Dutch language allows for the use of foreign words in public publications. Eventually, if foreign words become popular, they may become part of the Dutch vocabulary. There’s an organization handling the official word list and semantic rules: The TaalUnie (“Language Institute”). Just recently, I noticed the following sentence in this Dutch article:

Game of Thrones meest gedownloade serie

For some reason, the sentence looked silly to me: however, apparently it’s correct Dutch. I tend to think that by 2020, there won’t be such thing as a ‘Dutch language’.

On the Internet, mob mentality is the new democracy and while the word ‘mob’ has a negative… sound to it, on the Internet it’s sort of a good thing. Take for example your favourite home page: Reddit. A few weeks ago, the EA devs for SimCity 2013 (or whatever it’s going to be called), did an AMA (“Ask Us Anything”) about the upcoming city simulator. Within seconds, the most upvoted question was the one asking about the game’s hated ‘Always Online’ DRM (permalink to question):

What will happen to the game if I am playing and lose my internet connection – will the game still be playable and update the servers when my internet connection resumes or will it pause and wait for the connection?

The EA devs never really responded to the question and the rest is history (permalink to comprehensive ‘will not buy if’ thread).

A similar thing happened to the game WarZ, which was officially released on Steam last week. It’s a game that purports to put you into a post-zombie-apocalypse setting. The game was inspired by the popular DayZ mod for Arma2 (Arma2 on xsamplex). However, the game (WarZ) obviously didn’t deliver. The first Reddit thread that noted that the WarZ devs were less (say) truthful about the product can be found here, and obviously, it also targets Valve for allowing this game to be sold on ever popular Steam:

Honestly, some of the blame falls on Steam for this one. Obviously the info was written by the WarZ guys and then sent to steam, but it’s obvious no fact checking happened.

The follow-up thread (after the producer changed the description/feature list on Steam) still cried foul and eventually, Steam decided to stop selling the game (Forbes link), offering people refunds. The whole incident reminds me of the ‘Sword of the Stars II’ farce that happened last year (previously on xsamplex).

The moral of the story is that, if you publicly over-sell your over-promised games on the Internet, you will not get away with it. I guess, that Reddit users (and gamers) are a force to reckon with.

Dragons and Laptops

What is funnier than ‘America’s Funniest Home Video Show’? Why, items that are wrongly priced on on-line shopping sites! I mean, a 10,000 dollar laptop that features a second generation i3 processor, a tame Radeon processor and yes, 6 GB of RAM. Surely, that RAM is solid gold. No?

A month or so ago, I finished watching all seasons of the show ‘A Game of Thrones’ (HBO Canada), an award-winning TV series based on George R. R. Martin’s Fantasy books ‘Songs of fire and ice’. I was advised it was pretty good, and sure, it was pretty good. The show is known as the most downloaded show on the Internet as HBO had refused to sell the show on DVD (or something to that matter: I can’t remember the details).

I had already started on George R. R. Martin’s books on July the 6th and as you may have noticed from the books-library, I finished the current known last entry of the series, “A dance of dragons”, just a week or so ago. All the titles in the series are long and, while at times slow to develop, fairly good reads. The major question is that Martin still has two titles to write and looking at the pace of the HBO series, I fear that the show is catching up with the books before Martin can officially finish them.

Japan and Clancy

A month or so, I decide to start reading all the books in Clancy’s “Ryan-verse” (Wikipedia). In short, the serie’s protagonist, Jack Ryan, is literally put in so many life dangering situations that at times made my toes curl. My theory on Clancy’s books is, that over time, the story line gets more and more preposterous.

Take for example, ‘Debt of Honor': in this book Jack (now National Security Advisor) unravels a Japanese plot to take down the US financial world and on top of that, an attack on American military assets. The plot reeks of the typical 80s anti-Japanese sentiments (remember the days the Japanese took over all those American companies?) but if you think of it: Since WW2, the Japanese army and Navy was and has always been severely limited in power. Reading this book in the 21st century reminds me of the rant I wrote back in 2007 (rant ahead) about Japan, particularly about these anti-Japanese sentiments.

Mind you, I’m not pro-Japan. In fact, I love yelling at Japanese (that is, when I happen to encounter them). It’s just that I believe even at that time, Japan’s economic power was fairly overrated and (as we now know) temporarily. You know, cheap production thru robots and that.

Roll up the Rim 2012

Hey: it’s Roll up the Rim time again, you know, Canada’s favourite pastime besides eating donuts and shovelling snow. I got my first cup just a couple of days ago and I was allowed to “play again”! Amazing.

The low down tho, is that according to the Rules and Regulations the amount of contest cups went down to 285,854,400: this is almost 100,000 less cups than last year. This year, it looks like the US region is getting the most cups (+1,717,200) while the Atlantic provinces are losing out (-2,225,000). This seems to be the same pattern like last year’s and I assume that the idea is that Maritimers drink more coffee and hence why they can afford to lose contest cups because they keep buying them anyway. I made that last sentence up, obviously. Cool, eh!

Prize wise: this year Toyota provides the car, which is the Camry hybrid (it runs on tim hortons cup I heard..). The prize distribution for the Camry this year is exactly the same as last year’s. The 3D TV is also back and comes in the same distribution amounts as in 2011: however the secondary prizes (Coleman camping kit and the digital camera) show that the Maritime provinces are losing out on total distribution. Not by a lot, mind you but enough to recommend that if you want to win something more substantial than a donut, you should move to Ontario or the US.

Enjoy your pre-baked donuts and don’t Roll up the Rim and drive at the same time!

Previous entries: 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004, 2003 and 2002. Or click this tag for all posts tagged with ‘Roll Up The Rim’.

SJ, Internet

I think we just survived the worst two weeks of May, ever: it had been raining for so long, that everybody and their cats were either longing for sun or snow. It’s bad when you get hit with a lot of snow, but rain? Come… on. It may then also not surprise you that the NOAA is suggesting that this year is going to be a busy hurricane season:

It said that three to six of the forecast hurricanes are expected to be major, meaning a minimum Category 3 hurricane with wind speeds of at least 178 kilometres an hour.

The actual link to NOAA is right here. Thanks to the CBC for providing actual external links in a side column.

This Saturday (the 21st), it’s going to be Judgement Day. According to Family Radio, the Rapture will start at 6PM ET (NYT link). I don’t know what to think of that. Actually, I know what to think of this: It’s amazing that it takes a lot more scientists to formulate a Theory (peer-reviewed at that) and it only takes one guy, Harold Camping, to accurately pinpoint the day and time of the apocalypse. Since nothing will happen, Saturday, I’m curious what the excuse will be. Tip: blame 64-bit computing.

Last but not least, I found this on Metafilter (link): “Arc of Life and Love”, about love, life and cancer. The video is, well, heart-rendering. Keep your Kleenex handy.

Not. Again.

Via the Null Device (link), the timely announcement that it’s time for the yearly Eurovision Songcontest (link) and all the hoopla and camp that comes with it. Actually, the very first link goes to Der Spiegel, which is an article that discusses the deeper meaning of the much, uh, lamented, contest in the universe and its, uh, how can I say this properly, appeal:

Many of these acts are like swans emerging from the shadows — they are underdog stories that gays can identify with. This idea of triumphing against the odds and coming out and being the most glamorous and popular person is a narrative that seems very attractive.

I’m not sure if this was always true, I mean the part where the contest became associated and popularized with and within the gay movement. To me it always seemed to have been a gradual process where every year more outrageous, silly and extravagant songs and acts were submitted to the contest’s finals. Nowadays, I have to laugh the moment the Eurovision subject comes up: Besides the extravaganza, I fondly remember the ‘bloc voting’ and ‘sore loser voting’ and of course, the sour remarks of the commentators.

Roll up the Rim 2011

This years “Roll Up The Rim” contest seems to have started early and it seems like Tim Horton’s (or its parent company) has decided to have the contest run slightly longer because, it’s the contest’s 25th anniversary. If it runs longer, there should be more prizes? What say you?

Actually, while the regular prizes are back in action (Toyota, TV, Grill) it looks like 2011 indeed brings extra prices: instead of the 4 main prizes, we actually have 5 of them: if we look at the past years, either the grill (“Napoleon”) or the bike (“Raleigh”) acts as the extra one. The cash prizes are totally gone though: The last time (and only time) the cash prizes weren’t there was in the year of 2008. However, there were 100 cash prizes worth 10,000 each last year: the total of that surely passes the amount of this year’s number 2, 3 and 4 (100 Panasonic TVs, 1000 Gourmet grills and 5000 Raleigh bikes have). According my best estimation the dollar number is around the 500,000 (TV ~ 3000, Grill ~ 1000, Bike ~ 500).

Region-wise, all regions except for the Atlantic provinces have gotten more cups than last year, with the absolute winner Ontario, followed by Alberta and BC. The total of cups for all regions are about the same: it hasn’t really changed in large numbers from the year before it appears.

So, yes, there are more prizes around (thanks to the extra bike / gourmet prizes). I’d be really surprised if the “longest ever prize run” actually will make it to the end of April. Good luck and stop drinking coffee by the end of March.

Previous entries: 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004, 2003 and 2002. Or click this tag for all posts tagged with ‘Roll Up The Rim’.

Return to mail

So once in a while, this blog acts as my right-side brain part. I’ve mentioned Eudora plenty of times on this blog and back in 2006, I reported on the ‘open-sourcing’ of this Grande Olde Dame of e-mailing (Oct 11th, 2006 and June 24th, 2007 and Sept. 5th, 2007). Technically, Eudora OSE (as it’s formally called) is anything but Eudora: it’s more or less a ‘reimaging’ of Thunderbird (the Mozilla mailer), that is, with Eudora-style icons and graphics and some of the distinguishing features.

And to be honest, it smells and feels like Thunderbird: gone are Eudora’s excellent MDI interface, filtering methods and grouping of mailboxes. I’m not sure what the point was of the announcement of ‘Eudora going open-source': it hasn’t really because some portions of the Eudora contained propriety code. Eudora (the actual client) is still available however and apparently, if you want to use it, you can find/get the appropriate (legal?) registration codes right from the Interwebs.

Should you care about mail clients these days? Since everybody is using on-line mail services these days, you might think there’s no point of using external mailers. On the other hand, a mail client would offer the possibility of making your own backups of your (own) e-mails and have them handy at your own perusal.

Meanwhile in SJ

Way back in 1998 and 1999, I switched to the Gecko-flavoured Phoenix web browser, which eventually was renamed into the browser you now know as Firefox. When Chrome came out, what, 2 years or so ago, I switched mainly because Firefox was becoming a hog. Looking at the current installed browsers on my main machine (Chrome 8, Opera 11 and Firefox 4 Beta), all of them seem to have taken over Chrome’s UI choices. That is, main menus have gone and tabs are now part of (in Windows lingo) the main “Window Caption”.

Anyway: Since Google recently announced that they were going to stop supporting the H264 video codec (Mashable editorial, Google’s response to the announcement), I thought it was time to look back and try the current dev/beta of Firefox (Firefox 4 Beta). I could start with a snark about the best new feature of “Four” (the Feedback button), but honestly, it looks like the dev-team has actually made progress. Most importantly, Firefox finally seems to startup faster than the other browsers. And at least, at this stage,

So, is it time to return to the roots? Sort of: I’m not 100% convinced yet, but at least running Firefox would take care of that evil ‘Googletalk’ plugin that pesters my system. On the other hand: Firefox does eat up a lot of memory right from the start.

1 My famous 2006-ish browser timeline.

In Vitro Music

Hey, it’s the new year and at xsamplex, we wish you a happy easter and a merry christmas. For 2011, that is. I only have a bunch of left-over links and for no reason, this posting’s title may have nothing to do with the contents:

Everybody and the world knows how much I heart the music of Kristin Hersh and the Throwing Muses: A long while ago I was going to mention her Cash Music initiative (which is an open model of media distribution, bypassing the large publishers and record companies), where fans can donate money to support her efforts. To be overly honest, I find her Throwing Muses ‘Season sessions’ lackluster. However, her solo-efforts are flawless: particularly her acoustic sessions in support of her book (‘Rat girl’) at the PBS (which you can find here and it includes all songs in downloadable format). ‘Gazebo Tree’ (listen) is the one that stands out.

Back in 2007, I reported about ‘how the sources to Buzz got lost’: yesterday I found out that Buzz is back in development (and has been now for a year or so). The main GUI is written in .Net/C# (Framework 4 required). If you’re not sure what Buzz is: it’s a (quite enhanced) midi tracker/wave mixer. At one time when I was using the old Buzz, it had excellent plugins that could convert single tracks to playable guitar chords. Or something like that.

Which twins?

If you look for twins on Google Images, the majority of the results show the oh-so-famous Olson twins. I only mentions twins here, because earlier, Gizmodo featured a story about a conjoined twin (the original story at Macleans): it’s a both fascinating and, in my opinion, a slightly sad story. The following bit made me laugh though:

They share thoughts, too. Nobody will be saying anything, and Tati will just pipe up and say, ‘Stop that!’ And she’ll smack her sister.

Since the brains of the twins are literally shared, BC doctors doubt that the twins can be separated particularly after discovering the ‘brain bridge. From the Globe and Mail’s article (written in 2006, mind you):

“It [the connecting tissue] is sort of the No. 1 highway that brings information to the surface of the brain, then delivers it down through the more basic functions and through the spinal cord. So it’s likely that there’s important wiring, so to speak, in that bridge.”

Obviously, the two (and family) seem to get the scientific (medical, rather) and moral support of the local community, which is something they’ll be needing. However, as hard as this is to say as a twin product myself, I’m mixed about conjoined twins. Fighting for their lives because of complex medical reasons is one thing: social acceptance in this society is the other.

The GPL and other links

I hate to pay too much attention to issues that are so trivial that you want people just to shut up and accept it: A couple of weeks ago, WordPress came a bit in the news because a popular theme maker refused to abide the GPL with one of his popular themes. That link points to a metafilter thread and the discussion goes to the extremes with regards to the GPL: there’s even some ‘libertarian’ views why the GPL is bad. This comment precisely details my point of view and I quote:

At the end of the day, Chris wants to build on top of GPL’d software to make money, but does not want to respect the licensing requirements that come with the GPL. He — and others who agree with him — are taking their stand on hair-splitty definitions to circumvent the clearly explained intention of the license. “You can do what you want with this GPL software, including building stuff on top of it. If you build stuff on top of it, though, and you distribute it to other people, you must give the same rights to them.”

There’s a reason why GPL-ed code is called viral: if you don’t want your code touched by that license, don’t build on GPL-ed code.

Via the UK’s Telegraph, I read that 40% of Americans believe that the Lord will return before 2050. Why not by 2030 or 2040, I wonder? On the other hand, 2050 is an excellent year as it is right in between 2100 and 2000. 2050 is definitely not a prime-number. On a serious note: Why don’t newspapers link to the official Pew statistics? The Pew report is right here.

You know, with China being the sole creditor in the world (I bet Keynes didn’t see this come), I find articles like these both hilarious and sad. Obviously, in China, there’s a need for a certain type of people to make things look official.