Empire Strikes Back Reviewed

Here we have Sickel & Ebert, teaming up against some guy with something cork-like shoved up his ass. Our mediator is Mr. Ted Koppel. Apparently we are past the Iran hostage crisis so Nightline can now chat about such bubblegum topics.

Mr. Butt cheek clencher was raised in an environment where the goal was to shed child-like behavior, and act like a grown-up, as quickly as possible. Siskel & Ebert both refused to lose the ability to play as they grew into adulthood.

Was there some grand lesson to be learned in Empire Strikes Back? Not really. It was meant to be playful and fun. If you lost the ability to play, the Star Wars movies would be lost on you.

Revival

I have revived an old Twitter account… first time I have used it in over 3 years. @ZoyxTunes is now reporting songs that I play via Google Music on my android devices. This Twitter account is also posting my weight whenever I step on my new Withings weight scale.

I am using the Tweet My Music android app for the music posting. It is an IFTTT recipe that is doing the weight posting.

I’m not really dieting. Skipping dinner is the only diet-like activity that I am doing, but I suspect my calorie count is still fairly high.

Computer Project Time

One of my New Years Resolutions should be to blog more. That’s not going to happen. Sorry. There is a distinct possibility this will be the last blog post of the year.

Belch.

I purchased a 960 GB solid state drive (SSD) for my gaming computer. The goal was to load up Windows 7 on this thing, transfer the games over from the old SSD, then convert it to a “Steam Box”.

The SSD arrived about 10 days ago. I attempted to install Windows onto this drive. After 9 hours of churning away, I declared the SSD defective, and went through the return process with Amazon.

The 2nd SSD arrived 3 days ago. This time the install of Windows 7 took less than 30 minutes. Yay! A working drive. While installing the extra drivers and patches, I started to dink around with the old SSD. It started to act flaky, then finally quit all together. So I had to transfer my games from my laptop via my LAN network… a much slower process.

Next day after the transfer, I attempted to fix one of the fans. A couple of wires came loose and I soldered them back on. Unfortunately, I did it wrong. When I turned on the computer with the fan connected, smoke poured out. Fortunately only the case fan controller got fried, the rest of the computer was fine.

After the fan mishap, it was on to configuring this computer so it was Steam Box. Here are the steps that I took (using this guide).

1) Configure Windows to boot-up without a Windows log in. No windows username/password needed.
2) Set up Steam (Valves Game/Application distribution software) in “Big Picture” mode.
3) Change the default shell from “explorer.exe” to “steam.exe”. What this means is the computer will not boot to the Windows desktop, but will go directly to Steam.
4) Changed the logon screen so it doesn’t look like Windows. I chose a black screen that looks like it has the portal eye looking at you. Also got rid of the “easy access” and “shutdown” buttons from this screen.
5) Changed the initial Windows boot screen to the Steam piston logo.

This took a little bit over an hour to do. Now this lovely gaming PC boots directly to Steam, with all its treasures of time wasters. Steam also lets you link to games that aren’t in the Steam catalog. World of Tanks is one of these, the game I am playing most right now.

One more project is to install an alternate dock that will let you call up other applications, like a web browser or a music player. RocketDock looks like a really good fit for this kind of set up.

I am going to do more tweaking, then perhaps make a video of the final product. I am sure you are all anxious to see that.

Additional Notes:

1) That broken SSD is two  years old, and is still covered by a 3 year warranty. So it looks good that I’ll get a replacement. Which is good… this old one is a half terabyte and not cheap to replace. You would think that with the lack of moving parts, SSDs would be more reliable. Not really the case.
2 ) I will get a new case fan. I could just de-solder and swap the wires then solder them back on, but my trust of this fan is very low.
3) I didn’t go linux or SteamOS because I have an AMD graphics card (7850 HD), and there isn’t good support for those cards yet. Also most of the games I play aren’t supported in Linux. Hopefully soon.

My Meme Participation

I’m archiving this here… a meme related post I did on Facebook.

“Like” and I will *NOT* give you a number. I am a meme dead-end, sorry. The number I was given was 20. 20 things you may or may not believe about me…

  1. I have not been endorsed for “coin-snatching” on LinkedIn, but should be.
  2. I feed the neighborhood yard gnomes and animals ham sandwiches.
  3. In order to avoid the bird flu, I wore a hazmat suit.
  4. If I’m in the middle of a long crying spell, I call up morning radio shows and act fucking crazy.
  5. I like to give pep talks to people when they’re down… except Ned, he can just wallow in his own tears for all I care.
  6. When I was a kid, I took apart a cat to learn how it purred. When I put it back together, it walked funny and had a speech impediment.
  7. When I was 23, I built a holodeck. A defect resulted in the holodeck producing naked ladies that were mushy and jello-like.
  8. I decided to make bitching about the weather my profession.
  9. I ate some cake with my bare fingers while face-to-face with Kurt Vonnegut.
  10. In 1978, me and some friends started a multi-acre grass fire. Then I got hit in the face with a golf club… on the same day.
  11. While living in Hermantown, MN in 2005, I thwarted an uprising of astronauts in our neighborhood.
  12. I am not human, I am dancer. You can tell by my feather shoulder pads.
  13. I coded a mod for Tribes and Tribes 2 that had jetpacks with turbo boosts, cloaking devices, and fire. Lots and lots of fire.
  14. In my early teens, I used to ‘air cowbell’, “Don’t Fear the Reaper”. My opinion, the song would have been better with a wood block.
  15. I moved to Alaska because my brain is considered a delicacy in certain states.
  16. I once bought a bucket of cool whip on the guidance from my relationship counselor.
  17. When I was in my 20s, I was in favor of the Dingley Tariff. I have since seen the error in my ways.
  18. I have nearly purged everything I know about Tom Arnold from my memory.
  19. Sometimes I feel like I am part of the societal collective thought. Other times I feel like Donald Trump. Depends on how much chocolate milk I’ve had.
  20. My life was shattered when I was 19 when my parents confided to me that all of my relatives were TV sitcom actors.

Jetpack

Installed Jetpack 2.0 on this blog. This makes my blog more cloud-tastic and social-rific. Excited?

Still sick. Discovered I had some leftover Dayquil. I shot of this, and almost instantly I have the energy to compose a blog entry. This disease has gone into my lungs with sore throat and cough to go with it. Still have my voice, but sounds like crap. Highest fever so far is 101.7.

Started dieting on Monday. Diseases are wonderful for losing weight. I have been able to stay under 1800 calories without too much trouble.

Another Ebay Auction

I am placing my HIS Radeon 6950 HD video card on ebay for sale. It has been firmware upgraded to a 6970 HD.

This was in the wood case computer. The original goal was to swap in a Nvidia 660 or 670 card when they come out in a month or so. Having second thoughts on that. This computer is hooked up to one of my LED projectors that is only capable of 720p/1080i resolution. You don’t need much of a video card to drive pixels to that kind of display. I put in a Radeon 4670 HD as a place holder. That card may be enough for this kind of set up and may become permanent.

We’ll see where my head is at in a month when the new cards come out. You will know my emotions will have gotten the best of me if I get a new card. I am one of the kings of rationalizing frivolous geek purchases.

Ubuntu retry

Trying the latest release of Ubuntu (Precise Pangolin, 12.04 LTS). Not happy with it still. The problems this time around are 1) Suspend doesn’t work. 2) CIFS mounts are buggy. 3) Mouse doesn’t work correctly after boot up.

I suspend the machine, the fans stop and the screen goes black as expected. I hit the power to button to bring the system back, the fans fire up, but nothing after that. Screen remains black. Have to do a hard reset.

My NAS is hooked up to a windows box. I set up fstab to mount this windows share – that works well. I can’t stream videos properly. About once every 30 seconds, the video stops for a couple seconds. If I copy the video over into the linux filesystem, works fine.

I reach desktop after a fresh boot, and the mouse is able to select things in the side menu. Start any app, and my mouse can no longer select things. I hit ctrl-alt-del to log-off. Then log back in, and things are fine after that.

The one thing that did impress me is wifi hook-up. I have had all sorts of problems connecting to wifi with previous versions. With 12.04, connecting to my wifi router was really easy.

I am getting used to the Unity desktop. Although I suspect my mouse problems are related Unity. My main gripe is Unity is poor on discovery. It took a lot of exploring to figure out how to get a terminal up, for example. Then more exploring to figure out how to bring up multiple terminals.

But the above problems are show-stoppers that I don’t have the patience to debug. I will try the latest Mint distro when that comes out in about a month.

Dominion

In an attempt to get more players, I am posting this well done review and example play through of Rio Grande’s Dominion. Like the reviewer says, this board/card game is relatively simple for all ages, games are short and lots of fun. I have the base game with all expansions, and looking for a road trip.

Visual Pinball

I downloaded Visual Pinball about 3 or 4 years ago. I attempted to install it back then, and failed. I made another attempt today and succeeded. I have no idea what the difference is between now and then. But anyway, I have emulated pinball goodness on my Mame PC setup. Watch the video for more of a visual explanation.