I Read Stuff!

Hanlon's Razor: Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Tower of Power

Look at this! Just look at it:



No one wants to live in a Cat Condo, especially not 100,000 London residents. I understand what they are trying to do, but could it please look a little less like this:

Monday, March 24, 2008

Excess Can Be Fun

Top Gear is a pretty entertaining show. They drive some of the fanciest cars in the world, and tell you how much they suck. However, they also will drive the worst cars in the world, and then destroy them.

Here is one of their best 'destruction' clips:

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Average American

Yesterday I ran across this bit of information about how people use the internet. Mr. Nielsen went out and collected a group of 'above average users' to test their Google skills. The group was given this task: Using Google, find a strong vacuum cleaner that is easy to use, can pick up pet hair, and costs under $300.

If you type 'pet vacuum' into Google, the top result, the I'm Feeling Lucky result, will give you all the cheap pet vacuums you need. It's that easy.

1 in 4 users failed.

They either failed to get to Google, or they failed to find a matching product.

Today, the New York Times supplied me with part of the reason for such a high failure rate. 29% of incoming high school freshmen will drop out. That’s 7 kids in a class of 24.

The reasons for this ridiculous drop out rate are difficult to define. However one glaring problem is a loop hole in the No Child Left Behind law. NCLB does an admirable job of requiring aptitude testing throughout high school. However, it makes no stance on the number of these students that have to actually graduate. This creates an environment where it is beneficial for a school if their worst performers drop out.

According to the Mississippi G.E.D. director, school officials prod underperformers to drop out and earn a G.E.D. That way they don't have to take the No Child tests, and the school's numbers increase.

Friday, March 14, 2008

New? Movie

Miss Red dropped this link from a friend of a friend etc. Because this 'preview' is awesome and I'm a sheep, I’m posting it here for your enjoyment.



It stars Samuel L Jackson!!!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Dry Slope



That is not AstroTurf, but it's close. Instead of fake grass, that is fake snow. I didn't realize this was a direction for research, but apparently Snowflex is the pinnacle of 'dry slope' technology.



It's a carpet of fibers over a rubbery cushion. Water is pumped around through rubber hoses to be sprayed out in a fine mist. This is obviously to help with friction, heat, and add a bit of realism.

Watch these folks in France show us how it's done:



It's important that we learn because Snowflex is coming to the US, Dallas specifically.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

How To Use The Internet

Another virus made the news yesterday. This one is targeted at the very specific World of Warcraft audience. The reason this one is worth mentioning has to do with how it infects a computer.

In the old days an advertisement would just be some image that a site put along a side of their page. Double-Click and other ad agencies took it a step further. Instead of including an image, the site would include a dynamic page. This way the ad could change for every page visit.

Google has made this dynamic content inclusion even more advanced with page relevant content and customizable lists of advertisers. Basically, you aren’t downloading an image from advertisers anymore. You're pulling JavaScript and DHTML that makes decisions based off of where and who you are.

The WoW virus launches an attack through some weaknesses in IE based off of a mouseover event. That means all you have to do is pass your cursor over the ad to trigger the attack. You don't have to click it, just pass over it on the way to your bookmarks.

Of course you have to be vulnerable to attack, which is the point of today's post. If you use the internet correctly, you can greatly reduce your chance of infection. Think of this as washing your hands. Learn it and do it.

1) Windows Update - The good folks at Microsoft have fixes for a whole host of these problems. Make sure you get your flu shot from them often.

2) Firefox - IE is a fine browser, but it's not as nice as Firefox. Apple's Safari isn't even as nice as Firefox. If you are still using IE, stop. For added fun with browsing learn to use the middle mouse button on links within Firefox. The scroll wheel isn't just for scrolling anymore.

3) Adblock Plus - One of the great things about Firefox is its add-ons. Adblock Plus is an add-on that hides advertisements. Install it and subscribe to EasyList. 90% of pages will suddenly load faster, and contain a lot less clutter. You might run into a page that is now broken, just disable Adblock for that page. (A better method is to enter an exception in the Adblock preferences, but get comfortable with Adblock before you start changing things)

4) NoScript - This is a new add-on for me. It prevents all JavaScript from running on a page. You would be surprised at how much scripting goes into making a webpage, so expect some pages to break. It is very easy to use, so don't be afraid of it. Basically after install you get an 'S' in the lower right hand corner of your browser. When you visit a site you trust, just click on the 'S' and allow that site. Most people only visit a handful of trustworthy sites regularly, so this shouldn't take long. As an added bonus you'll get to see how many third parties are involved in displaying your favorite pages. You don't need those fools so leave them blocked.

Try this at home and the internet will be all cotton candy and rainbows once again.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

SCUBA Scrubber

Whenever I think of carbon dioxide scrubbing, I think of power plants and industrial industries. Thankfully other people think of SCUBA diving.



The Poseidon Discovery is a dual tank dilutant system that recycles the CO2 you breathe out which creates more O2 for you to breathe in. Obviously this allows you to stay underwater longer, solely limited by your dive tables. As a side effect of recycling the CO2, there aren’t any bubbles that kick up when you breathe out. That makes it quieter and supposedly less intrusive to the marine life around you.

It runs for about $8000, but I'm sure it will eventually be more accessible to casual divers.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

WTF Department

Welcome to the fourth floor of Macy's, the WTF department:



Why do people think that a urinal is a good place to put carnival games? I mean the risk of personal injury alone should shut that down.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Gaming Stereotypes

The ESA has been busily collecting data about the purchasing habits of gamers for a number of years now. From this data they have produced a top 10 list of facts about gamers and their habits. Let's have a look at 5 of these facts and how they may change your misconceptions.

1. US game software sales grew to $9.5 billion in 2007. Movie ticket sales in the US reached $9.7 billion in 2007. I expect game software to outsell movie tickets in 2008, though games have a ways to go before they can compete with the $15 billion in DVD sales.

2. The average game player is 33 years old and has been playing games for 12 years. It's time we all stopped thinking of gamers as teenagers and college kids.

3. 85% of all games sold in '07 were rated E, T, or E10+. While Game of the Year, Call of Duty 4, and other M rated games may get the media's attention, consumers aren’t nearly as interested. This has a striking parallel to the movie industry. All but one of this year's nominees for best picture were rated R, while the vast majority of movies are PG or PG-13.

4. 38% of all game players are women. In fact, women over the age of 18 represent a significantly greater portion of the game-playing population (31%) than boys age 17 or younger (20%).

5. 69% of American heads of households are gamers. Politicians need to take note because we are prevalent, and it probably won't be long before we become a true majority.


Games
GameInterestRelease Date
Civilization IV1
C&C 31
Company of Heroes1
Half Life 21
Half Life 2: Episode One1
Supreme Commander1
Call of Duty 22
Darwinia2
Dungeon Runners2
Dungeon Siege II2
Far Cry2
Galactic Civilization II2
Hitman: Blood Money2
Jade Empire2
Neverwinter Nights 22
Prey2
Psychonauts2
Sam & Max: Episode 12
Titan Quest2
Dark Messiah Might and Magic3
Defcon3
Heroes of Might and Magic V3
Indigo Prophecy3
KOTOR II3
LEGO Star Wars3
Marvel Ultimate Alliance3
Space Rangers 2: The Rise of the Dominators3
STALKER: Shadow of Chernobyl3
Stubbs the Zombie3
War Front3
Warhammer: Mark of Chaos3
Infernal35/8/2007
Shadowrun25/9/07
Pirates of the Burning SeaM6/1/2007
Enemy Territory: Quake Wars?6/5/2007
Two Worlds?6/26/07
Sins of A Solar Empire?8/1/2007
BioShock18/21/2007
Mass Effect19/7/07
Age of ConanM10/30/07
Crysis1Fall 2007
Elveon?Fall 2007
Half-Life 2: Episode Two1Fall 2007
Portals1Fall 2007
Spore1Fall 2007
Stranglehold?Fall 2007
Tabula RasaMFall 2007
Team Fortress 22Fall 2007
Dragon Age?Winter 2007
Fable 2?Winter 2007
Field Ops?Winter 2007
Halo Wars?Winter 2007
Gods & Heroes: Rome RisingMWinter 2007
Haze?Winter 2007
Hellgate: London1Winter 2007
HuxleyMWinter 2007
Kane & Lynch: Dead Men?Winter 2007
Left 4 Dead?Winter 2007
The AgencyMSpring 2008
Empire Earth III?Spring 2008
Guild Wars 2 MSpring 2008
Jericho?Spring 2008
Sacred 2?Spring 2008
Savage 2?Spring 2008
Time Shift2Spring 2008
Universe at War: Earth Assault3Spring 2008
The Witcher?Spring 2008
CellFactor?2008
Darkest of Days?2008
On The Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkeness: Episode 122008
Warhammer OnlineM2008
Alliance: The Silent War??
Alone in the Dark??
Assassin's Creed??
BioWare MMO??
The Crossing??
Dungeon Hero??
Fallout 3??
Lego Batman??
Mythos??
Overloard??
Space Seige??
Culdcept SagaPC??
Gears of WarPC??
God of WarPC??
Beautiful KatamariPC??
OkamiPC??
Resistance: Fall of ManPC??
Odin's SpherePC??
Castle CrashersPC??

1 - I will buy it
2 - I'll buy it at discount
3 - Other people think it's good, but I wasn't interested when I first heard about it
M - Mainly Multiplayer. See if friends get interested.
? - Find out more about this game
PC? - Will it be released on the PC?