Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Flash Game - RaidenX

For Time-Wasting Tuesday... here's RaidenX. Raiden (wikipedia link) is a classic shoot-them-up game with a top-down view. This is a Flash version of the game that is surprisingly reminiscent of the coin-operated arcade console. Brought to you by googley, this is a tribute to the original.

The game is simple and typical; you fly a plane through waves of enemies and several levels with a boss at the end of the level. You have your main cannon, missles, and a clear-the-screen bomb.

This version is good for about 60 minutes; turn it up and have some fun with it!

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

"Kill the Pacman" Game

For Time-Wasting Tuesday... Kill the Pacman.

You control a beach ball to "pop" floating pacmen (pacmans?) with increasing difficulty. At first, you just pop a set number within a time frame, then you have to get specific colors, and the difficulty increases. Finally, you face the gian Pacman King.

Good for about 30 minutes, this will not waste too much of your time.TIP: you can bounce Mario-style from one pacman to another.

Friday, November 18, 2005

More Work for Mother?

Does technology save us time in the long run? According to this article I read, use of technology may not really save us time, depending on how we use the technology. As I said a long time ago, we can't just use technology, we must manage it, too. That's why I'm not so sure email is the answer for everybody, or a blog, or whatever...

The following is IFTF's summary of Ruth Schwartz Cowan's More Work for Mother.
The book asked a simple question: why was it that, almost a century after the introduction of labor-saving technologies in the home, women spent almost as much time doing housework as their grandmothers? The answer was that while the washing machine, vacuum cleaner, and other household appliances have made individual tasks easier-- it's certainly easier to put clothes in a washing machine than to do them by hand-- the appliances have also changes who does housework, and how often those tasks are done.

First, automating housework changed standards of cleanliness. It's less work to get a shirt clean, but we now put a shirt in the laundry after wearing it one day (even if we have jobs that require virtually no physical labor). A century ago, we would have worn a shirt for three days before washing it. Put the two trends together, and the result is, as it were, a wash.

Second, it changed who did housework. Vacuuming a carpet is less work than picking it up, taking it outside, and beating it. But who used to do that work? Fathers and sons. Wealthy and middle-class women didn't do their own laundry before the invention of the washing machine: they sent it out. Cooking is easier in an age of ready-mix cakes, but a century ago, Mom would have had a couple other sets of hands working with her. Broadly speaking, labor-saving technologies feminized housework, and turned women who previously had managed housework-- delegating, supervising, and evaluating the work of washerwomen, sons and daughters-- into manual laborers.

Truck On Fire

This is a delivery truck I saw, on fire, coming home from work on Thursday. The driver had just pulled over between the 91 & 55 exchange at 4:03 P.M. PST.

I saw following the 91 and kept smelling something funny... I made a note to check my car when I got home. Then I saw a lot of white smoke coming from this delivery truck. My thouhgts went like this:

"Boy, he's got some engine problems."
"That's a LOT of smoke..."
"Hey, is that fire? That wasn't there before..."
"Oh crud, he's gotta pull over! Everybody is getting outta the way..."
"Oh, hey... camera!"

I saw the driver jump out of the truck after I passed him. Young black kid, must of been barely 20 or so, looking scared and backing away from the truck. I called *911 and was told they had already dispatched a fire truck for the truck fire. I suppose he'll be OK, since Yahoo Maps shows no traffic problems in the area...

Truck On Fire - click to enlarge

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Star Wars, Midi-Chlorin and the Force

Completely random thought about Star Wars... if midi-chlorin (MD) is indicative of propensity to manipulating the Force (as Qui-Gon Jinn explains to Anakin Skywalker in Episode I), and MD is apparently present in the blood stream, the following implications may be true, given the assumption that blood is the medium of MD.

  • MD is a renewable resource, generated by the Force-user's body

  • MD is contained in, though perhaps not entirely limited to, the blood stream

  • It would theoretically be possible to boost Force-use by "enricing" the blood of a Jedi by exracting several pints of his blood and re-injecting it when a boost is needed

  • A great loss of blood should lead to a reduction in Force-abilities

That being said, although Anakin (and therefore Vadar) had a very high MD count, Vadar's injuries and cybernetic transplants should render him less powerful a Force-user.

Like I said, random Star Wars thoughts.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Online Mapping Services

Today I cover mapping web sites. Most of these offer driving directions as well, although I think MapQuest's directions are the best, followed closely by Google and Yahoo! directions. The sites below, however, offer a close-up look of our streets and our world.

Google Local
Google Maps is the standard by which I judge all other mapping programs. Google was the first to seriously intergrate satelite imagery, and their overlay (hybrid) option came quickly on the heels of their Google Earth product. You should try out the Hybrid View of Google Local. Google Maps has detailed coverage of the U.S., the U.K. and Japan. Image coverage is available of the entire world; I can only hope Taiwan is next. If you like satellite imagery, also check out Google Earth, a Windows-only download I wrote about in previous posts. (Click)

Yahoo! Maps beta
Yahoo! Maps beta is a Flash application that is pretty slick. It supports mouse wheels for zooming (similar to Google Earth). What is very cool about Yahoo! Maps beta, though, are the Live Traffic overlay and the customizable look (check this link out). (Click)

Microsoft Virtual Earth BETA
Got Internet Explorer (and sticking with it)? Love Microsoft? Try Microsoft Virtual Earth BETA. The aerial photos are comparitively old when displayed next to Google Local, but there are some nice features, such as mouse wheel support and better International labeling of cities and borders. (Click)

Flash Earth
For the those who like satelite imagery of Earth, Flash Earth combines Google Maps and Microsoft Virtual Earth imagery in a Flash application that greatly resembles Google Earth. This is quick alternative to Google Earth, and is not Windows-only. (Click)

A9 Maps beta
Amazon's A9 Maps beta has the interesting feature of street-level images of entire blocks of city streets, called BlockView. A9 trucks with GPS equipment and digital cameras drove around and took pictures of public streets, resulting in an intersting look of the local not afforded by digital maps or satelite imagery. BlockView coverage is limited (for now?) but very interesting. (Click)

Cat In Need of A Home

Got a cat here that needs a home... This cat showed up at our office. There's an 800 number on her tag, but the pet finder service indicated that the information was incomplete. Sooo... she needs a new home. She's probably going to have to be the cat of a single-cat home. She's very lovey-dovey, and is declawed in the front.
Cat In Need of Home - 1 Cat In Need of Home - 2

Vito Goes Bye-Bye

This is Vito, before he was "fixed" and adopted. Oh COME ON that is SOOO cute!
I wonder what his name is now? I last saw him on 11/04/2005. He was "fixed" that afternoon and adopted the next morning. It happened so fast I didn't even get to the cat shelter adoption to see him go home. *sigh*

click to enlarge

Well, I trust he has a good home. I still see little orange shadows darting around out of the corner of my eye, but there's never a kitten there anymore.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Psychiatry Game for Troubled Toys

For Time-Wasting Tuesday... The Institue for Troubled Toys

Germon Title: Die Anstalt - Psychiatrie für misshandelte Kuscheltiere
English Title: The Institute - Psychiatry for Abused Cuddly Toys
Credit: http://www.parapluesch.de/
URL: http://www.parapluesch.de/whiskystore/test.htm

Comments: Troubled Toys are sent to the Institue for help. You are temporarily assigned to the Institute. Your goal is to help the traumatized toys discover the root of their problems and become mentally stable again. I enjoyed this immensely, probably due to my nurturing nature and psychology / pastoral background. Check it out, but be sure to block out about two hours! The game is available in several languages, including English.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Sory about the delay

Sorry about the delay in updates... I can always tell when I'm not posting enough, because people start emailing and calling to see how Cathy is feeling and how things are going.

Let's see... for those emailing about Vito the kitten, I'm sad to say that he has been adopted. We got him fixed on two Fridays ago, and the very next day he was snatched up about an hour after the shelter opened. He's a cute one, Vito (whatever his name is now).

Malachi (our tabby) has apparently picked up fleas (!), although none of the other cats have it. I think the last time we applied flea meds we messed her dose up. Poor thing...

Cathy's conition has shifted. I'd say "improved" but it has really only changed. It used tobe that she would feel real lousy Friday evening, lousy on Saturday, bad on Sunday, and start recovering on Monday. Her new routine is ok on Friday, lousy Saturday A.M. but kinda O.K. evenings, repeat for Sunday and Monday, and just really tired the rest of the week. Cathy says she prefers this, if she can address the fatigue.

I've been offline because of my sermon class, finishing the remodel on apartment one (they're moving in Tuesday), and trying to stay sane. I've got a Hebrew exam on Monday the 21st, so this week ain't looking so good, either. I'll try to sneak some time during breaks at work to keep up the posting schedule, though.

I got my sermon evaluation back. Basically, I didn't give enough verbals clues for the shift in thoughts, but on paper it looked really good. I've got another shot at getting my sermon critiqued in December, so I'm looking to pick a hard-to-preach text (any ideas?) so I can learn from any mistakes I make.

Uh... my high school graduating class found me (hi guys) so I'm being practially mail-bombed. I've had to create mail filters just to follow the conversations and keep my mailbox straight. I haven't got time to contribute on the geek side for the next week; I feel bad, but keeping up is about all I can do right now... :-)

Oy. My lovely wife is reminding me that scheduled periods of unconsciousness is beneficial to my health. Night-night.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Veteran's Day

Veterans Day is a legal U.S. holiday observed each year on November 11. It honors all veterans, living and dead, who fought in wars since World War I. Since Memorial Day focuses on those who have sacrificed their lives for our country, Veteran's Day tends to focus on living veterans.

The cessation of hostilities before the peach treaty was signed between the Allies and Germany on 11:00 AM 11/11/1918. This became known as Armistice Day by proclamation in 1919 by President Wilson. The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery was established in 1921. President Eisenhower change the name from Armistice Day to Verteran's Day in 1954.

The original concept for the celebration was for the suspension of business for a two minute period beginning at 11 A.M., with the day also marked by parades and public mettings.

This is the day to call someone you know who is serving or served in the armed forces, just to say thanks.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

The Birth of a Sermon

The Birth of a Sermon
Ever wondered what a sermon preparation process is like? Here’s an example of a very rushed sermon preparation process. I had already decided to preach on 1 Timothy 4:16. Hopefully, it will make for an interesting read for you.
Monday Date: Oct 31 2005 - 8:40pm (2.5 hours / 2.5 hours)
I have Hebrew class on Mondays. I have a 25 minute drive, and while driving home this night I began planning for the next week or so. As I started filling out my mental schedule, I realized I'm preaching in five days for my sermon class!

I maintained the speed limit for the duration of my commute and arrived home in a mild panic. I told Cathy to give me lots of unstructured time until Saturday… she was very understanding.

After spending some time panicking quietly, I calmed down by printing out the immediate context (1 Timothy 4) in several English versions (NIV, NASB, KJV, NLT, NET) as well as in Greek. Started outlining the entire chapter for the study.

Finding epece to be a real problem… the translations tend to render this word differently. The original word, ep-ekh'-o, can mean

  • to have or hold upon, apply, to observe, attend to

  • to give attention to

  • to hold towards, hold forth, present

  • to check

  • delay, stop, stay

I think “hold forth” fits better with the context of Timothy being required to set an example, but “give attention to” would also be important. I have to print from the NIV, so the different nuances may be irrelevant to this verse.

I realized that I must get up at 6 tomorrow, and I must sleep in order to be productive tomorrow. I go to bed at 11:30 pm.

I read a short devotional but drift off to sleep thinking of 1 Tim 4:16. While drifting off to sleep, feel convicted by the passage I am studying…
Tuesday Date: Nov 1 2005 - 6:40am
While driving to work this morning, I was once again convicted by the passage. I confessed inadequacies to God, especially in light of the passage I am studying. Gotta work…
Over lunch I examined the passage and considered preaching verse 15 and 16 are together. Verse 15 refers to 11-14 (“these matter”). I considered the matters pointed out… I may enumerate the properties Paul points on in verse 12, but explaining it may take too much time.
Between customer calls, I looked up library holdings for commentaries on the passage. I found a total of total of eight volumes and two articles that I planned on utilizing. My shift ended at 4 pm, and immediately after work I went to the library. . I gathered the books that were available and used my digital camera to photocopy the pages. I went home and converted the photos into PDF files for reading (using freeware, of course).
I outlined the passage biblically, tracking the flow of thought on paper and determining the meaning. This is exacting but not difficult… it is only a matter of diligence and respected for the text.

I tackled the hard part… finding the timeless truth of the passage and outlining the text’s flow of thought. Every passage that offers instruction is answering an implied question. Struggled with finding the right question to ask (like Bible Jeopardy) in order to cover all that the text addresses… Finally arrived at the question I will ultimately imply in my introduction, the need I will raise which the text addresses. This will be the sermon’s central truth.

Continued to outline... the structure of the timeless message was beginning to form. Getting tired, though… before preparing for bed, I skimmed a couple of commentaries, which did not yield much insight (perhaps too tired to notice).
Wednesday Date: Nov 2 2005 - 4:30pm
I got off work at 4 pm again and headed to school. I spent some time going through the commentaries I converted to PDF previously. I also added two more commentaries to the stack. Some of them have some useful insights, mostly deeper insights than my observations. There is no vast difference between my views and the commentaries, so I am done with the observations of great men who came before me.

I will need to complete the sermonic outline tonight… I did not prepare for my Hebrew class and do not feel like I can focus on it… I asked a fellow student to use my digital recorder and hang on to it for me. I’ll need to write the sermon tonight if possible... or at least start.
I typed up an extended outline and began filling out the body of the sermon
I  realized at 09:30 PM that I CAN DO THIS
it's a skill... anybody can learn to write a good sermon
at 10:45 I realized that I was more concerned with preaching well than a grade
I suppose that is a good thing
I also realized that my sermon is not producing the same conviction the passage had on me... bummer
Thursday Date: Nov 4 2005 - 2:00pm
went home early and finalized outline. Malachi was sick, very distracting!
started writing sermon
found introduction difficult
found conclusion even more so!
wrote out basic sermon
went back and restated main points
quit at 1 AM... sermon is basically done, although I am not pleased with it

I learned a lot, which is the point, but I think my sermon won't do the text justice
Friday Date: Nov 4 2005 - 2:00pm
I took the morning off and sleep almost 7 hours.
finished off conclusion, emailed document to professor
it took me forever to document the resources I referenced!

tonight - I will practice the sermon for an hour or two... !
I practiced several times, first just reading the manuscript (15 min) then by memory (12:30)
I practiced twice, then reviewed, then waited 45 minutes and practiced two more times.
In the end, my sermon is about 11:30, under the target of 12:00. I am still not pleased with the transition from intro to message, and the conclusion does not do the passage justice. Something feels like it is missing. But out of time.
Saturday Date: Nov 5 2005
Sermon is at 9:00. Woke at 7 after a good night sleep. Went through morning routine and ate light.

Arrived at 8:20 and spoke with other people preaching. Everyone seems nervous.
My sermon went well, though. The transition was rough as I expected, but not as bad as in practice.
Sermon was only 9:30, though… I forgot to mention one illustration and spoke faster, with less pauses.
Professor indicates the layout is good, and the “what and why” intro is good, but I forgot to tell everyone the audible que when I got to the “why”… nobody remembered “why” we were talking about “why”… live and learn!
Sermon is on video; going to ask coworker to digitize it.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Sony Stabs You From Behind

Sony continues to lie to you about thier "copy protection" technology. They have responded to Mark's (read entry at Sysinternals) exposure of their DRM and bogus "patches", "updates" and promised of removal. In short, don't trust Sony on this, they are just stalling.

What burns me is that Sony's "DRM" only hurts legitimate consumers who trust Sony, not people who are by nature hackers or even geeks (like me). I never install anything without scanning the license agreement, and I NEVER install software that comes on a DVD or music CD. Which means I would never get this root kit Sony is distributing.

The "secure" software can be avoided just by the user refusing to install it and running Windows Media Player or some other player. Only people who are willing to (foolishly, as it turns out) trust Sony get burned.

People who actually want to rip Sony off and distribute their music illegally would automatically skip Sony's installation prompt and rip the audio directly from the CD. The people Sony supposedly wants to stop will, by and large, never even see Sony's little ploy, let alone be taken in by it.

In the forthcoming next-gen video format wars (between HD-DVD and Blu-Ray), I was looking forward to Blu-Ray, even though Sony championed it... After this story broke, I'm not sure I can trust the format.

It seems like a bone-headed thing for Sony to do. At the time when they are trying to make serious money on their new format, they are stabbing consumers in the back?

Sony didn't make money off of BetaMax, they largely failed (in the US) on MiniDisc, nobody I know ever got behind DTS... now this, just before Hollywood finally chooses sides on the movie format of the future.

Consumers can hit Sony where it hurts by voting with their wallets... don't buy thier "enhanced" music discs, and opt for HD-DVD. I sure won't. I urge you not to, either.

Grrr... Sony... Grrr...

Friday, November 04, 2005

WARNING: Sony CDs May Be Bad For Your PC

Perhaps you heard about the flap Tim Foreman of Switchfoot was involved in when it became know that their latest album had copy protection (DRM) for Windows PCs. EMI released their latest album "Nothing is Sound" with a mistaken (yeah right) copy proectction flag turned on. Tim Foreman told fans how to circumvent the copy protection and apologized to fans, leading EMI to eventually recall the CD to remanufacture it.

Without debating Tim Foreman's actions, I understand this concern. EMI, however, did not hide their copy protection techonlogy or install it without permission. Enter Sony...

Sony/BMG's previous attempt to copy-protect CDs was easily defeatible and poorly written. Sony's latest CDs require Windows users to install a Sony media player, and it installs a 'rootkit' without the user's permission. User permission is usually obtained through an End-User License Agreement (EULA), and Sony's original EULA did not mention this 'rootkit'.

A 'rootkit' is basically software that utilizes
the mechanisms and techniques whereby malware, including viruses, spyware, and trojans, attempt to hide their presence from spyware blockers, antivirus, and system management utilities.
In other words, rootkits are the worth king of software that intends you harm by hiding itself and controlling key aspects of your system. Sony's new music CDs install this type of software on your computer. Removing it manually will cause your CD-ROM drive to fail.

If you have installed the Sony player from a Sony copy-protected CD, according to CNET, you can contact Sony's cusomter service for removal instructions (they aren't easy...).

Update: I'm not sure exactly what it does, but Sony has released a "patch" for removing the cloaking aspect of their DRM (not the DRM itself).

This was bad timing for Sony. Sony's failure with Betamax and MiniDisc, their poor attempt at copy-proof CDs in March of 2005, and now this? I am actually in favor of the Sony/Philips next-gen video format Blue-ray, but if they're going to try to pull stunts like this...

Update 11/02/2005 09:58 PM: Universal uses similar software on some CDs. Lovely.

Update 11/04/2005 01:05 PM: Don't use the Sony "patch"... it actually makes things worse. Instead, if you have used Sony's CDs recently, do the following:
In the meantime users can perform a safe decloaking by opening the Run dialog from the Start menu, entering “sc delete $sys$aries”, and then rebooting. This sequence deletes the driver from the Windows Registry so that even though its image is still present on disk, the I/O system will not load it during subsequent boots.
Source: Sysinterals Blog

Blogger Comment Moderation

I asked for a means of moderating anonymous comments on my blog, and Blogger has responded. I allow anonymous comments on my blog, and this will help cut down on all that blog comment spam. Just go to your template settings and you can enabled comment moderation (instructions here). You can get email notification, or check you "posting" tabe for the "moderate comments" link.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Our Cat Malachi May Be Sick

this is an audio post - click to play

Cathy's mom saw blood in stool of one of our cats, and we're reasonably sure that Malachi was the last to use the litter box. The vet opens at 6 P.M. so Cathy will take her then. Your prayers would be appreciated. Malachi is the one pictured on my shoulder...

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Microsoft Update and Wikipedia

Website Wednesday - Microsoft Update and Wikipedia

Microsoft Update
If you have a Windows-based computer you should visit the Microsoft Update web site weekly. Microsoft Update includes patches and updates on Microsoft Windows 2000 and Microsoft Office 2003 and beyond. You must be using Internet Explorer when you visit the Microsoft Update web site. I suggest you visit once a month and select the "Express" option.

Wikipedia is an encyclopedia written collaboratively by its readers. There are multiple languages represented, though you'll probably mostly be interested in English. The site is a Wiki, meaning that anyone, including you, can edit almost any article right now by clicking on the edit this page link that appears at the top of the page. It's policies include a community-enfoce neutral point-of-view (NPOV)and free documentation license (GFDL).

While a NPOV is attempted, new articles or less-popular entries will be written with the particular bent of the initial author. The site works because anyone can contribute and edit. NOTE: Wikipedia should probably not be used as a primary source for your term paper. :-)

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Mansion Impossible Flash Game

For Time-Wasting Tuesday... Mansion Impossible.

Title: Mansion Impossible
Credit: designed 3form
URL: http://3form.net/mansion_impossible/
Comments: The aim of the game is to buy and sell property until you have enough money to buy the mansion. Click on an open property to buy it and click on your property to sell it. Very engrossing... my highest score is 13 years 1 month... 12 years 6 months... 10 years 9 months.