Tuesday, December 30, 2003


Added five new links to the index page and on the sidebar. These links are:
Lightstar Technologies - Themes for WinXP
Wine - "Wine Is Not an Emulator" - Win32 emulator for Linux.
ThemeXP - More themes for WinXP
Download.com - General freeware/shareware download site.
Doom9 - DVD Ripping/Video Conversion site.

Also, for my own reference, I am adding this, this, and this link here. These are LZW references.

The web is mighty slow for me today.

I give up
I am not going to be making very many "movie" DVD's at home. I'm not talking about ripping, I'm talking about movies/tv shows that I have on tape. The problem is quality. The tapes are, at best, fair quality. To get 1.5 hours plus requires shrinking to around 5mbps mpeg2. This reduction in the bitrate combined with the inherent lack of clarity on VHS pretty much makes for a bad DVD. So, I'm going to back up my "Star Trek" stuff to WMV format, and watch it on my PC. True DVD's will be home movies only.

I also learned an interesting fact about Sonic MyDVD yesterday. It seems that this product(version 4.0) can not handle compressed audio(such as the audio in an MPEG2 file). This is why, when I have a 4 gig mpeg2 file and I want to burn it as a DVD, MyDVD says that I've overloaded the disk. It is converting the audio to an uncompressed format(like a .wav file, I guess), and this takes up a huge amount of space(a full cd is 650 mb, so around two hours of sound is something like 1.2 to 1.4 gig). I found some shareware that can handle the compressed format, but as I've explained above, it doesn't help the quality very much.

Monday, December 29, 2003

Post Holiday run-down

Different topics to cover. So here goes...

Christmas of Violence!
The boy got guns and swords for Christmas. He seemed pretty happy with all of it. I have been injured several times, and so has he. The best present was from Grandma and Grandpa. It was a pair of light-sabers. They are the official ones with the collapsible blades. These things are fairly tough, and don't seem like they'll break soon. The same can't be said for his other swords, which are already showing the dings. He got a couple of ping-pong ball guns, which he cannot shoot, and a cheap policeman set(gun, handcuffs, baton) which he can. I'm sure this is all very healthy.

Microsoft XP Plus!
Does not do what I thought it did. I downloaded some themes from Tucows, and they wouldn't quite work. Then, I noticed the requirements on the sight. If you read there, it says that, "Microsoft XP Plus!" is required. No, it isn't. What is required is a modified version of the uxtheme.dll file that comes with windows xp. So, did we waste our money on this product. Mostly yes, but I like a couple of the games, and the themes that come with it are not too bad. So I'm keeping it.

I saw Return of the King. It was great. It wasn't perfect, but I didn't expect it to be. Best parts: The Battle of Minas Tirith(which is a large chunk of the movie), and the fight with Shelob. Worst parts: The endless series of goo-goo eyes at the end. I realize that they were part of the books, and so they had to be included in some way, but I think it was a bit overdone. One complaint that is a hold-over from Two-Towers as well. Were the Oliphaunts supposed to be that big? I've read these books more times than I care to admit, and I never got the impression that they were 15 stories high! It made for impressive cinema, but It still seems ridiculous. Still, overall I liked it, and my wife liked it better than the first two.

I also saw Pirates of the Caribbean, and liked it as well. My niece brought it over while she and her cousin spent a couple of nights with us, and we watched repeatedly(well my son did anyway). I liked the pacing. If you liked the recent "mummy" movies, I think this is in the same vein.

Trouble Tickets
I've gotten trouble ticket duty again. I do not like trouble tickets.

What kind of a day is it if you don't read a pubic hair story.

Monday, December 22, 2003

Our Holiday so far.

I've been busy the last couple of days. No computer stuff, unfortunately. I rearranged the boys room, and cleaned out some of the old toys. The wife wants to get a dresser for his room(his clothes are in her dresser currently), and there was no space. To make space, I sorted through his massive collection of stuff, and found places for all of it. I had to move his desk back downstairs, but I found a decent place for it in the Den. Other than the desk and his blocks table, all of Matt's toys are upstairs, and the new rule is that they have to go back there at the end of the day. Wonder how long that will stick?

Instead of working on the computer, I've rearranged the room slightly. No furniture, thank goodness, but I wanted to hook the printer up using the USB cable instead of the LPT one. So, I had to make some minor adjustments which unfortunately required major recabling. I may do a new video of it later.

My son found my brother's copy of Willow yesterday at my parent's house. We've now watched it 4 times. I remember when I saw that movie, and I think Scott went with me. I cannot remember if Mike was there. What I do remember is being locked out of the car by one of Scott's co-workers as a joke. One I didn't appreciate at the time. I cannot remember who that person was though.

The wife looks like she's coming down with something. Mike was sick last friday, and couldn't come over. The boy's nose is running. I'm holding my breath.


Friday, December 19, 2003

Today's post...

...is about computers, strangely. I finally decided to rip down the Packard Bell. It was a Pentium, 75mhz, that I bought in 1995. I was using it because I needed access to a 5.25 inch floppy drive that I could not get to run on my Ginstar box. Well, after messing around with the setup on the Ginstar, I have now activated that drive on it. So, the last reason to keep the PB machine is gone. It was a decent computer, and It was the only one I had until 2001, so I got a lot of miles out of it. (play "Taps" here.)

Now, I'm running with two good computers. The Ginstar, and the Dell. The Ginstar has always had minor glitches, but I've managed to tweak it enough to get good use out of it. The only problem with it I could never solve was the DVD-ROM issue. For some reason this machine could never play a DVD worth a krud. It was unwatchable under win98 and vaguely off under winxp. This, however, is no longer an issue since I put that DVD drive in Mike's box. I am contemplating getting a new case for it, so that I can attach more drive's. The current case is weird, in that it has a 3.5 inch drive bay at the top and middle of the case. The middle bay can only be used for a floppy, since it has one of those partially covered bays on it. I liked the case they used with Mike's machine, and I think it retails for just $36, so I will probably pick one up tonight.

I am considering replacing the board itself. I would like to keep the machine viable, and I could probably double the speed(currently 600 MHz) inexpensively without having to discard all of the Cards, etc. I've bought for it. I'm not sure about this though.

The Dell does what I bought it for. It is a great general entertainment center, and It will import video without too many glitches(although the sound lag thing still ticks me off). I'm looking forward to putting Winxp Plus! on it.

I'm currently in an emulator mode, and I'm playing with bochs. I've tried a couple of times to use it, but I never seem to find the time at home to set up a full operating system under it. I'm going to try, over the holiday, to load MS-DOS under it. I want to see if it works playing any old games. I'm also going to try Dosbox.

I will be off all next week, but I'm hoping to post daily.

Have a Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 18, 2003

Your Horoscope Today

Cancer: (June 22—July 22)
People will finally admit that you fulfilled your potential when you pass out in bed and your crack pipe sets off a massive goat-porn fire.

Wednesday, December 17, 2003

Good News!

This is obscure, but I ran across this a couple of years ago. Did you know that you could not write an application to make a GIF file without a license from Unisys. You could not, in the U.S., do this until June 20th of this year. I got this info from Unisys's own site. I assume that now one can use the Lempel Ziv Welch algorithm in any application one chooses, as long as you don't distribute it to a country that has still got patent protection on the LZW algorithm. Why is this important? Because I've been wanting to write a Perl Module to compress and decompress files using the original UNIX compress command. This command just happens to also use the LZW algorithm. I can now safely write one for in-house use, I believe.

Return of the King

I've read several reviews, here, here, and here. There are some criticisms, but most seem to think it's a good film. I think I'll be seeing it this weekend.

UPDATE: Bad review here. Good one here.

UPDATE 2: Good one here. Fawning actually. You have to view an add to get permission to view it though.

UPDATE 3: Here is a link to an interview of John Rhys-Davies. Very right-wing.

Monday, December 15, 2003

Video Blog!

I decided to take a short video of my now mostly rearranged study. It took about 30 seconds, and the ending was unplanned and a little funny. Here it is.

Sunday, December 14, 2003


They got Saddam. Whether you were for the war, or not, I think this is good news. This guy is a total Sh*t.

Monday, December 08, 2003

Back from nowhere

I've been kinda blah lately, so I haven't posted in a week. I also haven't run, etc. However, I think its time to get started again so here goes.

Vital Signs
weight: 244, but you already new that.

Run today, hopefully. Weightlifting the same. I've fallen off the wagon.

Computer stuff
I bought Mike a new econo-box for Christmas. I just got the thing on Sunday, and I've already loaded it. It's interesting to look at on the inside. The board has everything included. LAN/Video/Sound, the works. The obvious drawback to this setup is that you can't adjust the box later. You're pretty much stuck with these devices forever. In fact, just to make sure you don't add anything extra, the board only comes with two PCI slots. However, since you don't have anything to add, at least it makes this machine simple to work with. It has a 40 gig HD, which I partitioned into a 10 gig OS part and a 30(ok 28) gig data part. I put win98 SE on it, and it boots up quick. The video looks good so far, but I haven't got the sound running yet.

Tonight, I will add some extra software, plus maybe hook up some old speakers to it to test the sound. I'm off tomorrow(you sure have lots of days off: well, it's the end of the year, and I have to take it or I'll lose it.), and I'm doing some more Christmas shopping, plus personal stuff as well.

I bought two 48X24X48 CD burners also on Saturday. One for me, One for my brother. I hooked mine into my Ginstar box(600 MHz, 60 Gig HD, 50X cdrom, win98,winXP both loaded) and it works fairly well. I'm a little disappointed that it still takes about 5 minutes to record a disc, but I think the trouble isn't with the burner. I think I've just reached the maximum data-rate between the two drives on this box. I figure a new machine with these two drives would work faster, but 5 minutes is pretty fast.

Christmas Gifts
Obviously, I know what Mike and my brother are getting. I've bought my Wife her gift. And my parents are getting Moolah(since they are both retired, this is their favorite gift). But I don't know what to get anyone else. Scott, is there something you could suggest of Simon and Emily? Plus, I've got to think of something to give my two nieces.


Monday, December 01, 2003

Monty Python Reference

David Bernstein at the Volokh conspiracy has used a P.C. controversy as an excuse to post a transcript of the "Stoning Scene" from Monty Pythons Life of Brian. It's my favorite scene from the movie.

Vacation's Over

Good morning. Well, it was a pretty good holiday. The girls came over and seemed to have fun. Matt definitely had fun. We rented X-men 2 (yes sir!), Charlie's Angels 2(snore), Catch me if you can(ssnnooooore!), Daddy Day Care(not as horrible as I imagined. Not great either), and Shanghai Knights(actually decent).

Matt's bus is now coming between 7:10 and 7:15 am. This is a pain because it means I won't be leaving work until 5:00 p.m. from now on. It is good because this is the same time the older kid's elementary school bus comes, and Matt's bus has to run the gauntlet of parked cars at the entrance of my subdivision. Every morning there are 10-12 cars parked right at the entrance, on both sides of the road. Each one housing parent and child. It's not fun to try to drive through this, and Matt's bus barely made it through. It scared the crud out of those folks, and that just makes my day. Maybe tomorrow they will have the sense to park on one side, thus allowing traffic to flow.

No More Smileys
Like all passing fads, I'm pretty much through with these. I've unloaded the smiley bar from my work computer, and will remove it from my home one. I am moving to the avant browser full-time. It's got a good popup blocker, plus some neat features(like tabbed browsing).

Vital Signs
Weight: 242 lbs. I'm actually pretty happy about this.

Weightlifting(last Monday, and today as well)
bench 140lbs x1 (10 reps)
curl 45lbs x2 (8 reps)
situps 50 reps
Leg-lifts 160lbs x1 (10 reps)
Hamstrings 135lbs x1 (10 reps)
Lat-pulls 140lbs x1 (8 reps)
Military Press 45lbs x2 (10 reps)
Lower Back 140lbs x1 (10 reps)

No Lat-pulls or Lower Back today, I hurt myself last week. So I'm taking it easy on the back. Run today.

Computer Update
I've more or less restored the WinXP load, and removed all Linux again. I got a couple of versions working, but I couldn't get the KVM switch to work with the mouse. I also decided I needed more space, as I moved the music(wma) files back to this machine. I did leave win98 on there, so the new load is win98:10gig,winXP:9gig,share partition: 41gig. I moved my scanner to this machine, since I am seeing the light at the end of the CD burning tunnel. I am going to use this box to read in all of my photo's, while I continue to work on video with my Dell.

Darkwing Update
I spoke too soon about being finished. I accidentally missed one tape. I don't have the space to read it in currently, as I've put all of the episodes on the C drive for burning. I've burnt all but the last two disks, and I am currently converting all of the episodes to wmv files. Finished today or tomorrow.

Things to buy
Milk (half-gallon)
Shaving Cream
Mike's Christmas gift
Chris's Christmas gift
Everybody Else's Christmas gift

Work Stuff
I've got to do disconnects today. Programming will be spotty until the new year due to all of my co-workers taking vactions.