Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Clearing out the mental jams....

Something for now until I get inspired to resume posting.

Be sure to hook up the nice speakers and PLAY IT LOUD!!!!!


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Congratulations to Roger Corman

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences awarded Corman with an Honorary Lifetime Achievement Oscar, it was given to him at a special awards ceremony on November 14, 2009.

I can't believe this didn't get more attention. Why is this important, you ask? I've give you 13 reasons (in honor of Dementia 13)...
  • Francis Ford Coppola
  • Jack Nicholson
  • James Cameron
  • Jonathan Demme
  • Ron Howard
  • Martin Scorsese
  • Peter Bogdanovich
  • Joe Dante
  • John Sayles
  • Peter Fonda
  • Dennis Hopper
  • Robert Deniro
  • David Carradine

Friday, November 6, 2009

Are these the "droid"s I'm looking for?

Verizon Confirms Droid Tethering, Announces Pricing

The trophy fiancee uses Verizon. If the phone is as good as it looks, maybe I should switch...


Apple, would you please drop your exclusivity with this backwards company? Please stop working with a company that not only doesn't care about it's customers but actively works to screw it's employees.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Farewell Kyra

She was the sweetest kitty I've ever had the privilege of knowing.

May she rest in peace.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Dev Walkthrough

What Star Wars: The Old Republic is all about.

It's unlike ANY MMO I've seen!

Darth Hater

I ran across a new fansite/podcast that is talking about Star Wars: The Old Republic.


They post updates on stories from the Star Wars site.

The podcast is a bit rough compared to what I usually listen to, but these are people who have read a LOT more in depth about the game than I have.

Friday, October 23, 2009

In honor of Windows 7 coming out yesterday...

Proof that Microsoft has ALWAYS been cool

It starts getting good at the 2:16 mark...

Thursday, October 15, 2009

I'm a....Mac?

It's AMAZING what you find on the interwebs.

Yes, as an exercise to decide which platform I like, I managed to get my system to boot OSX and work as a "Mac Pro". Now, while I LIKE Windows 7 (and I do), I've wanted to look for a viable alternative OS to Micro$oft.

Linux would have been my real preference, but I need 3 things that Linux doesn't have...
1. Yahoo Instant Messenger (the real thing, not a client that works with it).
2. Exchange Support (I want a SINGLE email client in a non-virtual environtment).
3. iTunes (I have an iPhone, I have an iPod - I don't want to change that).

So, I wanted to try out OSX, but I wasn't able to throw down the cash for the system. Part of my reason for selecting the hardware I did, was that its popular with the "hackintosh" crowd. I figured, if the switch didn't work, I'd still have a hardcore system that would make Windows fly.

Now, there IS a problem with this. You are only supposed to install OSX on "Mac" hardware. So, I cannot recommend this solution.


Its a nice OS. It's a REALLY nice OS. Remember, I've only really had experience with Windows. I'm going to try to post some observations of "switching" in the future, but I just had to share.

Monday, October 12, 2009

About Win 7

I know I've not posted. I've no excuse other than being uber busy with work.

I still don't have much time, but I wanted to make a "tech" post.

I just upgraded my system from the Opteron to an Intel Core i7 920 system with 12 (yes TWELVE) gigs of Ram.

While I'm trying to experiment with OSX (yes, really), I did install Windows 7, Home Premium 64-bit (Home Premium is the one I'm going to be recommending to 95% of the people I know who use Windows).

What Cali Lewis says about Windows 7.


If you are using Windows XP, stick with it until your next hardware upgrade. Next upgrade, Windows 7 is the way to go.

If you are using Windows 2000 and Earlier OR Windows Vista, Consider upgrading if your hardware meets the reqs. Windows 7 runs in 1 Gig of RAM and is faster than Vista.

Here is hoping that I'll be able to get back to posting soon.

Yes, there is still the Champions Contest winner to post, and I shall when I choose from the submissions.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


Remember that contest I mentioned about creating a Nemesis for Rachael Storm?

Post in the comments!

You don't need a google account, you can post anonymously and just note who you are!

Yeah that was the best I could come up with.

Deadline for posting is Sept 30th!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Where have I been?

I got SERIOUSLY burned out with work and everything else. I ended up taking a short vacation to renew and recenter. When it gets to the point that you start biting off people's heads for asking simple questions, screaming at misbehaving routers, and getting toasted regularly, you KNOW something is VERY wrong.

So I spent the last couple weeks trying to catch up and focus on life, the universe, and everything.

I'm back into it now, so its back to posting and complaining that my PC is starting to seem VERY slow of late. I think it's getting close to the time that I need to start collecting parts for a new system. Sadly, It doesn't look like I'll be able to swing even a base-line Mac Pro, so I'm looking at piecing together a new PC (mainly because I can reuse my video card and power supply)...bleh. Well, my company IS a Windows based software company, so I don't have much choice, now do I?

On a lighter note, starting on Wednesday, I'm going to start accepting posts for Rachael's Nemesis in Champions Online.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Odds and ends

It turns out I still have friends who obsessively play WoW. Furthermore, it seems that there are heavy changes to the game coming in the next expansion. So, I'm going to give it another spin while I wait for Champions to come out. It is possible, I may keep up two accounts, but I don't know. I guess we will see who is playing what.

Blasting through Champions has been quite fun, and I do enjoy it, but I think the first iteration may be a bit rocky for a few people. I guess we will see - and I hope it gets polished up enough to grab more people.

I HAVE AN OFFICE AGAIN! All of my D&D books are on shelves in my private sanctuary, the walls are painted, pictures are on the wall. There is still a little ways to go (adding white boards, painting touch up, and such), but I now have a "Fortress of Privacy" to relax and work in.

*Raises Blended Iced Mocha in Toast*

Cheers! Have a great week!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Meetings this week - no posts

Sorry folks...

I'll post again as soon as I can.

Monday, August 17, 2009


FINALLY, I can start telling you what I think of the Champions Online Beta, now that the NDA has been lifted and we are in Open Beta. I'm going to start a series of posts telling what I think about what in Champions so you can make an informed decision WHEN you buy it.

I'll try to write as much as I can...


First Impressions!

I won't discuss the "look" part of character creation beyond just - remember how cool it was in City of Heroes? It's even BETTER.

Nope, I'm going to talk about the mechanics.

First of all, you will notice that you don't have "classes" like in other games. I rather like this because it hits home that you are a "superhero" not a "healer/tank/rogue/etc". You can either select a specific powerset which starts off with a basic attack that 'builds end' and a stronger attack that 'uses end' (more on this later). However, you CAN mix and match your abilities: imagine shooting to build end then running up and punching the bad guy for a lot of damage! Yes, you can do it and have a viable combo. My "might" (think Super strength) could hurl FIREBALLS if she wanted.

The next thing is that you can choose your "Origin". In this case, your origin describes your initial distributions of "stats". When I started, "Prodigy" was the only option, but there are reported to be others.

After creation, you are delivered to the tutorial where you need to save the city from alien attack. Yeah, they start on the LARGE scale.

Unlike City of Heroes, the missions are NOT instanced. Instead they work more like World of Warcraft/Warhammer Online in that you run around a shared world for most of your missions.

Judging from the leveling speed, I'm betting they are going to do the same thing Blizzard did with World of Warcraft and provide a patch every year or so with a large level increase. THIS is speculation on my part. Actually, as I further think about it, I suspect this is very likely as there are certain areas which seem to be tailor made for "adding stuff" in the implementation: Crafting origins, transition from tutorial to main game world, etc.

The User-Interface and mechanics feel somewhat similar to World of Warcraft. You click on your opponent and you will automatically attack while working in other abilities.

However, you also need to pay attention to your opponent as you have the ability to (and will NEED to) block incoming attacks. Blocking neutralizes a great deal of incoming damage, but you can't attack when blocking.

Another unusual mechanic is the ability to "pick up" items and throw them. Yes, Rachael was able to run and pick up a large rock someone was trapped under and then THROW it at an enemy mob!

Aggro distance is more sensible than in Warhammer: Age of Reckoning. In WAR, I often found myself standing right next to a mob and not drawing aggro. This broke a lot of verisimilitude for me. Champions aggro feels very similar to that of City of Heroes. One last thing, you don't have the "Invulnerable Rubber Band" that WoW has where you fight a mob, they pursue you, until they reach some point and run back to their starting point and are invulnerable during that running.

What do I think?

So far, I REALLY like this game. I felt like I was playing a "powerful" hero right from the get go. The animation was fast paced and comic-book-y. The world allows for a great deal of creativity in character creation and fight solving.

I'm thinking that The Divine Miss Rachael Storm WILL live again in Millenium City.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Never Gonna Give Your Teen Spirit up

The really scary part...this kinda works....

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

What is a bridge-tap?

A Bridge Tap

Its also something which if you have a 324 ft. long one will turn your U-Verse Broadband to crap...

As of today, I still have one, and I've requested it be removed 3 times (third time was yesterday).

If I still have one on Friday, I may need to drop AT&T U-Verse and go back to Time-Warner.

Are you listening AT&T?

Immediately after posting this, someone came out to deal with the noise on the line. This appears to have improved the connection. However, they will be coming out again either later this week, or early next week to dig a pit to remove the "Bridge Tap".

Bud Lite

People are just now figuring this out?

So a guy decides he wants to find out what is in Budweiser. So he pours a can of it into a beaker and gives it to a friend of his that works in a chemistry lab. One week later, the chemist comes back and says....

"I'm sorry, but your horse had diabetes."

Monday, August 10, 2009

Friday, August 7, 2009

More office space

The time that I start assembling my new "man-cave" is approaching. Thankfully, I've discovered some UBER NEAT things that I can work into the design of the office.

The two main things are Rust-O-Leum products.

1. Dry Erase Paint! Remember when I talked previously about getting a couple of huge white boards for my office? To heck with that! I may just make an ENTIRE WALL a white board! I'll never be short of a scratch pad. As the website says...

      Rust-Oleum Dry Erase Paint is a smooth, hard finish that creates a unique white writeable-erasable surface. Once dry, simply use any dry erase markers to draw or write messages and then erase! Application is easy and it has minimal odor making it safe to use indoors. Ideal for use on interior surfaces such as drywall, masonite, wood, cement, metal.
Cool, huh? Now, if I could only put magnets on the walls like on a fridge...OH WAIT! I CAN!

2. Magnetic primer! Yep, I can just paint this stuff on, and then stick a magnet on the wall. Very nice way to keep up a note without using tape! And yes, it's safe for electronics!

      Rust-Oleum Specialty Magnetic latex primer is a dark gray colored base coat that allows you to create a surface that attracts magnets almost anywhere. Can be applied to wood, metal, masonry, drywall, and plaster. Create a fun and unexpected way to hang notes, photos and more.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Like the format?

I figured out how to alter the template to allow me to post widescreen stuffs that won't break my blog. The trick was to change the "width" tags from pixels to percent!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009


In the style of the band "White Stripes" - CNR!

Don't mess with Charles Nelson Riley!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Happy Birthday

To my trophy Fiancee!

Friday, July 31, 2009

Rachael's Nemesis

First of all - Here is a player guide to Champions Online.


One of the things Champions Online will offer is the ability to create your own "Nemesis". Well, I got a rather crazy idea about this. I want "Rachael" to have a Nemesis, but I don't want to design "it". Soooo, I want YOU the reader to do it.

Here is how it's gonna work.

Put together an idea for Rachael's nemesis. I want backstory, powers, and goals. I'll post the winning entry as a post on this blog. So put on your thinking caps. Around the end of August I'll put up a post with submission instructions. If I do indeed start playing Champions, I will use YOUR villain as my Nemesis.

What do you win? The admiration of everyone who reads this blog.

So, you may never have "met" Rachael, so let me tell you about her...

    Rachael lived a rather quiet and sheltered life eventually obtaining a scholarship to study Library Science at Oxford. While there, she roomed with a student studying science. However, her roommate was being observed by Crey for recruitment. The agents of Crey decided to "threaten" Rachael's roommate by exposing Rachael to a near lethal dose of atmospherium. However, the radiation interacted with Rachael's DNA causing her to increase in density. This provided her with super strength and extreme resistance to physical damage. She rescued her friend and fled to Paragon City. As a side effect of the mutation, she grew several inches taller.

    When she'd moved to Paragon, she'd intended to adopt the moniker "Guardian", except that due to a registration error, her identity became public record and so she chose to simply use her own name. Of course, being seven feet tall would have made having a secret identity somewhat difficult.

    Since living in Paragon City, she made a name for herself having battled most of the major villains there including: Nemesis, Lord Recluse, Tyrant, and even going toe to toe with the Hamidon.

    Rachael possesses an above average IQ and leverages her skills at research with her physical prowess so that she is able to take down villains who are incredibly powerful.

She was a Stone/Super Strength Tank - however, the "comic" version of her would probably be "Invulnerability/Super Strength". To get a feel of what she is like as a "superhero", I'd recommend reading the current incarnation of "She Hulk" to get a good idea.

She was accused of a crime she didn't commit, but escaped custody until she could prove her innocence and bring the real criminal to justice. However, she was still guilty of escape from prison and resisting arrest and served a two year sentence in the Zigguraut (supervillain prison).

Upon release, she moved to Millennium City where she started over - This is where Champions Online takes up her story.

Sooo, internet....who is her "Nemesis" and why? Tell me about this person.

As I said, I'll post submission instructions at the end of August.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Playing with Fire

Recently, the grill I'd been using as my primary grill died. The hottest it would get was about 200 degrees. I've previously been a pure "charcoal" user, but of late I've preferred to use gas because it permits me to grill more cheaply and more often.

This past weekend, the trophy fiancee and I headed over to Lowe's and ended up walking out with a new "Perfect Flame" grill (their in-house brand).

After a false start with the first thing I cooked (read blackened) it has worked beautifully. It appears to get to a surface temp of about 600+ degrees, and gets to a normal cook temp in about 5-10 minutes. So far, every lunch and dinner since I picked it up has been grilled (meat and veggies).

Now, by purchasing wood chips, I'm hoping to able to get the same smokey flavor I enjoy. I've not quite gotten this to work yet for regular grilling, but for slow cooking I think it will work NICELY.

This next shopping trip, I think we are going to pick up some pork ribs so I can give bar-be-queing a try.

Now, off to cook some more!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Champions Open Beta Details


Cryptic and Atari are happy to announce the details for the upcoming Open Beta for Champions Online! As previously announced, open beta will begin on August 17th. Starting on August 5th, the open beta client will be available for download on a first-come, first-serve basis on FilePlanet. The site will be giving away 50,000 keys to North America, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand. To sign up, visit their Champions page or preorder through any of our retailers or Direct2Drive.

Monday, July 27, 2009


Cryptic Studios had a contest where the first 10,000 people submitted would get an invite to the Close Beta for Champions online between August 1st - 5th.

I'm in!

When the NDA is lifted, I'll have a lot of info!

Friday, July 24, 2009

TV Time!

As previously stated, I've got cable television and it's hundreds of channels. So what do I regularly watch aside from my perennial favorites: Simpsons, Family Guy, etc?

The main show I've gotten hooked on of late is "Good Eats" with Alton Brown on the Food Network. It's a fun and amusing cooking show. Alton is very much a "Food Geek" - he will not only tell you how to fix something, but why it is the way it is. His shows are entertaining even if you dislike the food he's demonstrating.

Another show I enjoy, that I'm waiting for new episodes of is "Top Gear" on BBC America. It's a car show that includes a healthy dose of humour. I mentioned the show in passing previously when talking about my car purchase.

Then there is another pure fun food network show called "The Best Thing I Ever Ate", which shows specific dishes at specific restaurants that are, in the opinion of the Food Network stars, some of their favourite foods.

Last week, new episodes of Torchwood showed on BBC America - I of course, DVRed these!

What WILL I be watching? Well, I notice that I neglected to post that COMEDY CENTRAL HAS ORDER 22 EPISODES OF FUTURAMA FOR 2010!!!!!

Happy Weekend!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Weight a minute...

People who know me know that I've struggled with my weight all my life. I've talked about it here before...

Currently, I weigh about 40 lbs more than I want to. I'd like to cut my waist down to size and generally get in better health. Since the trophy fiancee is very active, she provides good encouragement.

I decided last week that I was going to go ahead and start my end run for those last few pounds. For assistance, I'm turning to a few sources...

1. The South Beach Diet - its somewhat similar to Atkins, but is a darn sight more intelligent. Reduce your carb and fat intake and your body will start the process of converting fat back into energy.

2. Increasing activity - the lady suggested that we do a running course together. I think that this will be a solid step forward (no pun intended) that should help push up my metabolism. Eventually, we are going to get back into dancing as well.

3. Weight Training - this is a more general health issue. So, I'm turning to "Tim Ferris"'s methods. He talks about weight training here and here. Obviously, I've no interest in competitive weight lifting, but I'd like to look a bit better.

Lets see how well it works! Hold good thoughts...

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

State of my Tech

So what did I end up doing with all those drives?

My main desktop now has 5 HDDs! Two Terabyte HDDs, one 400GB drive, and two 250 GB drives. So, "Bender" has almost 3 Terabytes of Storage! The other cool thing is the way I've set it up. For my Mac/Unix buddies who dont' know, Windows drives are generally assigned a letter of the alphabet.

The C: drive - This is the main drive Windows and other applications are installed on. It's one of the TB SATA drives.

The D: drive - This drive is where I put my "My Documents" directory. It makes backing up easier and helps keep my data and my software segregated. This is the other TB SATA Drive. Also, I have my VM HDDs living there.

E is a DVD Writer, and F is a virtual drive that I can mount "iso" files to and my system will think they are CD-ROMS.

The G: Drive - this is the 400 Gig drive. Every day at 7pm, a batch file runs that copies the contents of my D: drive over. So, now I have a backup!

The H: Drive - this is one of the 250 GB drives. I generally don't use it at this time, but I keep it just in case.

The I: Drive - the other 250 GB drive. I actually put work files here to share between my systems.

Currently, all of my systems are set up such that D:, G:, H:, and I: are available as network shares. Furthermore, I mapped them so that the I: drive on my desktop is located at "I:" on all of my other systems, real and virtual.

Neat huh?

OH! One other thing...

This past weekend, I picked up an Airport Express - Apple Wireless Router. I hooked this up behind the TV in the living room. This is uber cool because it has iTunes integration with an audio output. It can accept iTunes streams wirelessly. So, I connected it to the surround sound stereo. Now I can listen to my MP3s and podcasts on the living room stereo!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Skipper Dan - "Weird Al" Yankovic

Sounds kinda "Jonathan Coulter"-ish. More poignant than funny...

Monday, July 13, 2009

Champions Online Bits

As you may recall, there are 3 MMO's I've been following closely and wanting to play.

Well, Champions Online has has some rather key updates.

1. Character Creation looks to be as cool as City of Heroes was. For my Macintosh buddies, remember if you have a newish Mac, you can Boot Camp into Windows to give it a go.


2. System Requirements have been announced - Looks like the basic requirements aren't too bad.

oh and


Looks like I have something I can play with on September 1. I'll have to see if I can get the trophy fiancee hooked.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Nikola Tesla - The Forgotten Wizard

Another non-game post, but I think he's cool!

Read more about Tesla

Happy Birthday to him.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Simpsons DVDs

Last Sunday, I packed up all my Simpsons DVDs and my episode guides and took them to Half-Price Books. I got $35 for it all.

I mention this because it gives a bit of incite into things in my life. The primary reason I'd bought all of those discs became moot last year. So, the question came to me, while it's cool to have a big stack of DVDs like that, is it worth keeping them around if you are never going to watch them? I'm a Netflix subscriber and a Hulu user, so is there really a reason I'd keep discs for a show that is likely going to be on a channel at any given time of day?

So rather than keep DVDs of a cool show around, I got rid of them and bought some 251's and a couple of PAK38's for my Germans.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Liver and iPhone

First of all, sorry Steve, I still worship Apple tech from afar....


Me: Steve Jobs liver is replaceable...but the battery on the iphone isn't
Chris: it is replaceable just like the liver it requires a very technical procedure
Me: ahh, true
Chris: using specialty tools and
Chris: liberal use of medications
Me: the liver or the iphone?
Chris: yes

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


I know I promised a post about Firefox/Chrome/Safari, but I've not been able to get to it...

So here is Weird Al's new video!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Back up and running

Fry's accepted the return on the defective HDD, and I was able to replace it. For good measure, I picked up a second drive to use for storage so that I have a place to back up to. Everything is reinstalled that needs reinstalling (except Firefox, more on that Monday).

As you may recall previously, when I moved to the new digs, the C drive on Hermes went out, and I had to start relying on my main desktop for everything. Thanks to an Ubuntu LiveCD, I was able to pull all of my data off Hermes. It was here that I found a backup of Bender dated at the end of March, so I do have most of the data I was missing.

So, at this point, I have Bender up and going and a 2nd PC with a bunch of HDDs. Now, previously, I'd've rebuilt this and re-Christened this "Hermes". However, I'm not going to do that this time. I put in all my spare HDDs, my oldest video card, and my PCI WiFi card. My intent? I'm looking at FreeNAS and I'm going to try to set this up as TRUE network attached storage (until I can get a drobo) to throw backup images on.

FreeNAS has a JBOD solution which will make all those cheap discs seem like one large/huge disc. I'll be sure to post my results!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

A disk read error occurred

Nothing like "The volume appears to contain one or more uncoverable problems" when trying to boot.

At least the HDD is within the 30 day return period. However, this means I'll be somewhat distracted for the next few days while I TOTALLY REBUILD MY SYSTEM FROM SCRATCH!

What's the really fun part? I didn't have a drive big enough to backup to....so, no backups right now.

Ah well, guess it was time for a good spring cleaning anyway.


The gauntlet was thrown.

As he says, " Inflation (2%) plus unemployment (9.4%) = 11.4 as of today."

I'll take the thick cut, Southy....

Monday, June 8, 2009


WWDC today sang the new features of the new iPhone OS that will be released on the 17th.

Of course, two of the big features I want are being screwed up by AT&T: MMS and Tethering.

Yes, when I had the pay as you go t-mobile plan, I could send a picture via Text message. But I can't on my iPhone. Well, while the 3.0 version of the iPhone OS fixes this, AT&T has indicated that us backwards US citizens will have to wait until "Late Summer"...gee, thanks.

Oh and Tethering? "Its coming, No ETA for US AT&T users".

U-Verse is nice....this is bullshit.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Friday Poem

I don't know where this originally came from, but

I have a spelling checker,
it came with my PC.
It plainly marks four my revue,
mistakes I cannot sea.

I ran this checker threw it,
I'm sure your pleased to no.
It's letter perfect in every weigh,
my checker tolled me sew.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Deep Thoughts Thursday

I was working this morning and a bit of wisdom occurred to me...

"Every day is a gift...somedays that gift is a pair of socks"

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Mandola Estate Winery and Trattoria Lisina

This past weekend, the Trophy Fiancee and I decided to head down to Driftwood, Texas to the Mandola Winery. If you live in central Texas, you know that this time of year is absolutely gorgeous so we had a beautiful drive down and back in the 'stang.

The winery itself is still relatively young, but it was a neat little trip. There is a 10 minute tour (yeah, TEN minutes) that shows you the basics of the winery and there is a tasting room. Five dollars lets you sample all of the wines they have. I didn't care for most of the wines they had, except the Canto Felice.

However, the reason to go there is Trattoria Lisina. This is the BEST italian restaurant I think I've ever been to. We each go a glass of the local wine (she got the Pinot Grigio, I got the Canto Felice) which was quite nice. The meal started off with a foccacia like bread brought to the table with some local olive oil that was out of this world.

We ordered Artichoke fritters as an appetizer. They were served with a tomato basil dip and another white dip that I don't recall the details of. These were so tender and mild as to almost taste like a high-quality fish dish.

The main course was Cannelloni which we split. We often split entrees so that we can get appetizers and dessert. The cream sause actually had a light and fluffy quality that few restaurants ever achieve.

Finally dessert was a Tiramisu that was absolutely wonderful.

With a glass of iced tea and a cappuccino, the entire meal was $55 even before tax.

For the quality of food you get here, it's well worth the price and the trip. If you are looking for a romantic date location, this is the place to go.

Now, tonight - Ruthie Foster at Blues on the Green!

Monday, June 1, 2009


Just saw this year's KGSR Blues on the Green Schedule. It looks like The Trophy Fiancee and I have plans every other Wednesday starting on the 3rd of June! See the lineup HERE!

On Wednesday, I'll try to post about this past weekend's events....

One other thing - HAPPY BIRTHDAY CHRIS!!!!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Friday Fun

Contains Profanity, MAY NOT BE SAFE FOR WORK!

Yes, It broke my blog....I don't care.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

What are your favorite QoL apps?

With the move, I've been forced to rework my way of interacting with my computers. I was hitting my limits previously with my other setup, but I finally hit the wall and needed a solution. So, here is a short list of applications I use to make my life easier. Best of all, they are FREE!

Got multiple computers? Got a Windows PC sitting next to a Mac with a Linux box near by but you don't want to deal with 3 or more keyboard mouse combos? Check this out. It lets you use your keyboard/mouse on one system and move your mouse to the computer right next to it, as if it was a single desktop spanning multiple monitors. Right now, I have it set up so that my Vaio is sitting to the left of my desktop, but I can copy paste between them and just use my main keyboard that is on my desktop.

Sun Virtual Box
I ranted about this WONDERFUL piece of software previously, but it is fast approaching the top of my indispensable apps. Today, I took its usage a step further an started working with "seamless" mode. In other words, I have my Windows 7 IE8 running on my XP Pro system and you don't have to juggle desktops.

Those who know me, know that I'm a big Unix fan. One of the things I love (that windows doesn't natively have) is Virtual Desktops. The idea is that you can have multiple workspaces on a single system. If you run a lot of apps, its nice to have. Linux and Macintosh also have them. Well, if you dig through the MS website, you can find an implementation of it for Windows. When you start working in Virtualbox it really unlocks the power of your system.

Magic ISO
A "virtual CD Rom" that allows you to just point at an ISO file and mount it like a CD. Saves lots of money on blank CDs.

Google Reader
This is the main Google App I actually use. I channel all my RSS subs through it and use that as a primary news source. It has a nice iPhone interface as well.

I can't get my friends to agree on IM software. So, I need a singular solution to keep up with all my friends. Enter Trillian. If you are familiar with Pidgin/Gaim then you get the idea. I wish they'd include GoogleTalk support.

Not something I was planning to include as it's not a "QoL" app per se. However, I use iTunes as my "Radio" when I'm working. I have a list of several Podcasts I download.

What apps do YOU use?

Friday, May 22, 2009

Run pee!

As many of my readers know, I have the bladder the size of a walnut. This presents a real problem when I go to the movies.

Enter runpee.com

Excuse me, I have to go...

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Primitive Internet and Big Disks

The new home does have DSL. This makes it possible to work and do light surfing...VERY light. According to speedtest.net: Download: 2.58 Megabit, Upload: 0.39 Megabit. In my previous location, I was using Time-Warner's RoadRunner Turbo. I rather consistently got about 20 down and 2 up. This, coupled with the fact that my connection tends to drop 4 to 5 times a day for about 5 minutes, makes this really painful. Its no good to have a conference call drop part way through when you are getting critical information.

This means a slight bit of a change in my plans for Internet. Instead of having my friend run the wires for me, I'm biting the bullet and having AT&T add the drops I need so that I can have the fat data pipe. Here is hoping it goes well. I'm told that unlike Time-Warner which overloads their routers meaning that during peak times you aren't getting full advertised bandwidth, AT&T DOES give you the same pipe all the time. If that is so, then the "Max18" will be very nice watching Internet TV and not having problems downloading.

I've also made a bit of a change in my LAN setup. As previously mentioned, "Hermes" boot drive went kaput. I was able to recover my iTunes library off of it and it wasn't used for much beyond that and Instant Messaging, so I've decided to make a bit of an infrastructure change. On Monday, I went by Fry's and picked up a 1 Terabyte HDD for $92, an amazing price. I installed that on my MAIN desktop (Bender) and made that my primary drive. Because of the prevalence of Virtual Machines and the CPU I have (Opteron 185 - a little old, but still somewhat peppy) I could reduce my hardware needs to a single desktop and single laptop. It seemed to me that this would make my network easier to manage and cheaper as I wouldn't need to be keeping up with 2 systems worth of hardware needs and reduce the amount of heat produced by my "Data Center". With this, my next task will be to attempt to balance two network cards and set it so that iTunes doesn't accidentally try to download data over my work's VPN.

It seemed to me that as I did this I would be able to test the setup I'm eventually wanting in the event I can get the MacPro that I want as it wouldn't be terribly dissimilar.

Monday, May 18, 2009

So much for Hermes

I've finished moving all my stuffs over to the new home and I've set up the desktops. Sadly, the computer I use for Instant Messaging and iTunes didn't survive the move. While it's only a dead hard drive, it is where the iTunes data lived. I knew the drive was going bad as it failed when I last tried to perform a backup, but I was really hoping to not have to do the hard data recovery.

Oh Well.

Next step will be to try to get the data off of it, so I can get my data off of it. I think I may see about using Virtual box to create a "virtual Hermes" to run on. It will be a move toward my "single computer solution" that I want.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Give Thanks....

Give thanks for the life and pray for the soul of Elizabeth. She will be missed.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

If you pray...

Pray for "Elizabeth and those who love her."

Monday, May 11, 2009


In my previous ramblings I've talked about wanting a Mac Pro, wanting to try Linux, and the pitfalls of Software Quality Assurance. I've recently come across an app that applies to ALL of these topics: VirtualBox.

VirtualBox is a free virtualization application. For the uninitiated, it is software that runs on your computer that pretends to be another computer to a "guest" operating system. If you are familiar with Parallels for the Mac or VMWare, you know what I'm talking about. I started toying around with this in hopes of coming up with an answer to the "I don't have the hardware to test that" problem, and I was rewarded. Using my works MSDN license (remember, I'm not using the Windows installations for anything but testing) I managed to install on my XP Pro box: Windows XP Home, XP Pro (different config from the host), Windows Vista, and Windows7. Just for fun, I also installed Ubuntu.

Here is a pic of it in action....

Top Left : Windows XP Pro - running IE 6
Bottom Center : Windows Vista
Top Right : Windows 7

As far as the computers on my network are concerned, these are just other physical systems connected. The Vista installation is running IE7 and the Windows 7 installation is running IE8. Not surprisingly, Vista seems to have some quirky behaviour when trying to operate in the Virtual Environment. It has a problem recognizing everything it needs to know about the "computer" it's running on. I guess that is to be expected.

The only real problem I've run into with this configuration is that it scoops up memory FAST. I have 3GB of RAM on my system (I run the 32-bit version of XP) and so I can't really install more memory.

Toying around with Ubuntu on a virtual machine is nice as I'm able to do this with a full safety net - something I previously could not do.

Virtualbox is available for Windows, Macintosh, and Linux, if you are interested in hardware virtualization, you won't regret it.

Friday, May 8, 2009


Star Wars: The Old Republic


Nothing to say

Sorry, I'm tapped for inspiration at the moment.

Been moving - working - and such...

If any MMO news gets posted today, I'll update this with that.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009


Yes, that's right. Despite the fact that the 3 people who read my blog already know this, I'm posting it! In two weeks, my house will be as vacant as my expression. I will be moving to an undisclosed location where I'll be residing!

Seriously though, as I look to moving in with my sweetie, I thought I'd take a moment to post some plans. A certain redneck I know has cut me a deal to run Cat-6 Ethernet cable through the house - prepping it for AT&T U-Verse and to be worthy of my data. I am going to have to have a basic sit down with him w/r to this to make sure that I know everything I need to know for having a house that is ready for the uber-network.

As I see it, I'm going to have "Drops" (RJ-45 connectors): Living Room, My Office, Master Bedroom, Guest Room. Living Room and Master Bedroom are generally for TV watching. Of course, for my office, I'm sticking my home router on it, and running my PC setups.

I'm sure that you are wondering why I'm going all out for Cat-6, when I just need enough for basic U-Verse and then run Wireless? While it is true, that getting a bunch of wireless network cards would probably be good enough, there are a few problems I have.

First of all, the bandwidth I can get with the Cat-6 is higher than the wireless bandwidth. Admittedly, this is the weakest reason since most CPUs can't drive the data at a speed that would make that much of a difference. However, as my systems improve, it will eventually make a difference.

Secondly, I'm worried about interference. The fact is, wireless is becoming more and more popular in the world. I am expecting to see a LOT more wireless networks in my neighborhood which will need to compete with the "airspace". I'm sorry, but my bits are too important for that.

Third, ease of configuration. Getting a system to talk to a secured wireless network is a PAIN! I don't want to mess with that. I want to have it hook up and go!

So, short and sweet, and data-riffic!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Happy Cinco De Mayo!

Go to your favorite Mexican restaurant for lunch!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Thinking of a new production machine


Sorry, I had to use that joke.

As Bender gets a little longer in the tooth, and one of my backup systems is getting flaky, I've started looking at what it would take to get a new system, to be named "Turanga". After doing some thinking and research and thinking, I've decided that I'm going to bite the bullet when the time comes and get a Mac Pro (I can hear Chris 'squeeing' from here as he reads this).


First of all, the Mac OS is "an Open Brand UNIX 03 Registered Product, conforming to the SUSv3 and POSIX 1003.1 specifications for the C API, Shell Utilities, and Threads." This is a big deal for me, because I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Unix. I can make it sing and dance. I also love being able to "kill -9 (bad process)". I miss being able to use Unix regularly.

Secondly, while it is a Unix variant, Mac OSX runs "MS-Office", "iTunes", and a few other snazzy pieces of software I'm interested in.

Third, not only can I dual boot Windows, I can run Windows IN Mac using "parallels". Furthermore, it appears I can run several CONCURRENT instances of Windows. This is a big dealio for me. BUT, if I want to play a PC-Only game, I can fire up Windows under bootcamp and have NO overhead (except for Windows).

Fourth, I have an iPhone and, well, I've been VERY impressed by Apple support when I've had problems. I go in and I get my probs fixed fast.

Finally, because the Mac is actually a very standard set of hardware that is rather commonly used, I shouldn't have any probs with support of non-Apple software (Like if I need a Windows driver for standard Apple hardware). I still get 2 quad-core CPUs that will keep the system running several concurrent tasks nicely.

Something like this
Two 2.93GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon
6GB (6x1GB) <- Cheaper to upgrade later with non-mac RAM
1TB 7200-rpm Serial ATA 3Gb/s <- OSX
1TB 7200-rpm Serial ATA 3Gb/s <- Windows
2x NVIDIA GeForce GT 120 512MB
One 18x SuperDrive
Apple Mighty Mouse
Apple Keyboard with Numeric Keypad (English) and User's Guide
Country Kit

Sadly, this is a ways off. BUT, I think this will be the best choice. It gives me the most options and the most solid choice of system.

Friday, May 1, 2009

The Dresden Files

As I posted on Wednesday, I started reading on my iPhone's Kindle application. I realized that a number of my friends were reading a series of books by Jim Butcher called "The Dresden Files". As of the time of this writing, I'm on the third book, "Grave Peril".

How to describe this?

Imagine if Mike Hammer could cast spells. Imagine if Sam Spade had to thwart evil wizards, fae, and other supernatural critters. Hopefully, you get the idea.

To be sure, I would not call this great literature, but then again, I've never been a fan of high-brow fiction, preferring instead the Sherlock Holmes, John Carter series, and Harry Potter. However, these books are fun reads that present decent mysteries. There is a fair amount of action and interesting plot twists.

I recommend these books if you just want fun stories to lose yourself in.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Reading and Writing and 'Rithmetic

On my current stack of reading is the Stephen King book "On Writing". I originally got the book as part of a birthday present from a friend of mine who gave me an Amazon Gift Card (thanks Jim). I got it partially because I thought it'd be useful in GMing and partially because one of my secret goals is to be a writer (maybe not secret anymore). The Trophy Fiancee has inspired me to give it a whirl. Part of this means, that I'm going to try adding FICTION to the rotation of posts here. I'm working on an idea now.

One of the things Stephen King points out, is that if you want to write, you have to read. Sadly, I've never been a strong reader, so historically I've not enjoyed reading. I find it very difficult for several reasons. First, I read incredibly slowly. Whereas my mother can devour a Robert Ludlum book in 3-4 hours, it took me about 18 to read "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone". Somewhat disheartening, eh? Secondly, I find it a hassle to have a book on me at all times (a rant on why women can carry purses and men being forced to rely on pockets to come later). After all, the average paperback is about 4 by 6 by 1 inch. It's hard to stick that in your pocket - especially if it's a newer book that is hardback ONLY and doesn't fit in your pocket. Furthermore, when it gets dark you need a book light, so you can't read just "whenever". Heaven forbid you loose your place.

In the book, On Writing, I was struck when Stephen King says "I'm a slow reader." Sure, he says he reads 70-80 books a year, but when you realize he reads an average of "4 hours a day" that means it takes HIM an average of 20 hours per book (360 days, 4 hours per day, 75 books). I suddenly realized that it's not that far off from MY reading speed. I just need to focus my attention a bit better.

With this being said, I decided to further pursue my "better living through technology" mantra from a couple years ago which has worked so well and see if I could circumvent these problems (computer = 'rithmetic, BTW).

As I've previously reported, Amazon has offered the "Kindle" as a free iPhone app.
  1. iPhone - always on my person
  2. Smaller than a paperback
  3. Glowing screen
  4. Very hard to lose your place
With these facts at my side, I took the plunge and bought the "Kindle Version" of the first novel of The Dresden Files. Many of my friends have been reading this series, so I thought that it would be a good start.

It is indeed.

This is extremely convenient. I do always have my iPhone. I can always whip it out and read. It has a built in light. The font is adjustable. I can have my book out and ready at a moment's notice.

It helps that The Dresden Files: Storm Front is a GREAT book. I'll post a review when I'm done. I'll also post a review of On Writing.

In conclusion, Kindle for iPhone - Win! Dresden Files - Win! On Writing - Win!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Rethinking my space

I've talked a bit about a Trophy Fiancee a few times now. In June, I will be "shacking up" with her (don't worry, I'm still in the Austin area). As most people know, I work from home. Obviously, this means I will be rethinking the area I seem to spend about 50% of my life. I think this is probably an excellent time to rework the area since it will be in a new room. Furthermore, it means I need to rethink what is and isn't in my work area.

So, for starters, I turned to my FAVORITE website - Lifehacker.com. This got me thinking of what I could do.

Amongst the tidbits I came up with after looking.

  1. Add a White Board. I think this will help a bit with my organization. I also think that the shiny white "thing" on my wall, will increase the ambient light.
  2. Add some colourful artwork (I bought this). Part of this is that I want to have my webcam out and ready for people to "see" me. Should provide a better background, even if not optimal. I'd also like to be able to SEE this a bit more often.
  3. Increase my workspace. I have a table I'm going to add to my work area. Since I currently use 4 computers (and need to replace 1 CRT with 2 LCDs) the more space I have the better. Currently, my desk fits in a corner, and each "arm" extends 75 inches from the wall. The table I'm going to use has drop leaves, so it can be 39", 29" or 19" (approximately). That should give me a bit of "forgiveness" to get it to fit. It also allows me to have a dedicated painting space with natural light (it will be right next to the window).
  4. Get real filing cabinets. I can get fairly cheap ones at the Salvation Army, so I figure that is the best place to go. I think this would be better than the plastic boxes I am currently sticking stuff in.
  5. Shelves! I'll be loosing the ones I have. While the trophy fiancee isn't ashamed of my possessions like the ex was, I still need some of my stuff in my space. I've not decided how I'll best handle this.
However, there will be a few caveats in this. For example, there will be a futon in the room. While the room is slightly larger than my current area, there isn't a great way to work in the futon. Chances are, it will be below the whiteboard. Still, it will be nice to be able to have a "meeting" in my office if I have to.

Now the REALLY fun bit. When I move, I'll be dropping Time Warner Cable for AT&T Uverse. As part of this, I'm hoping to get the house run with Shielded Cat6 cable (for you non-computer types - that is uber fast cable that is protected against electrical interference). Since the trophy fiancee's telephone gets staticy whenever it rains, I think this is probably a smart move.

As to the mundane, I want to paint it before I move in. I'm thinking either a bluish-grey or red.

This plan will evolve a bit, this post is mainly for me to collect my thoughts (funny how that comes up in this blog).

Friday, April 24, 2009

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Saving a little bit of green!

As Chris mentioned previously, environmentalists need to be "showing how when we recycle we can save money". Well, I ran across a few nifty articles that provide real economic incentives to 'green behaviour'. Also, if you are like me and enjoy a bit of "Do-it-yourself" AND want to do your part, these are definitely for you!

So, in honor of "Earth Day"...

Self Watering Garden using recycled A/C water
You don't forget to water, you don't pay for the water, so your water bill is lower. The electrical trade-off is minimal. Heck, here in Texas, that kind of pump could probably have a little bitty solar panel on it and you won't even use that! You may still need to supplement with a hose occasionally, but it's a nice reuse of existing resources. Its nice to SAVE GREEN and have your garden MORE GREEN. Oh, and you are being "green".

Quick and easy uses for plastic bottles
Yep, if you are a gamer like I am, you collect a bunch of plastic soda bottles. Well, other than simply recycling them, look at the above. Now, before you get too jaded on some of the cornier uses, note the one about filling them with water and freezing them. Makes your fridge more efficient and saves water for times that the utilities go out. Yep, less energy to keep your fridge cool = less electricity used = more money in your pocket!

Reduce your trash, and make a handy resource if you (or your significant other) likes to garden. It's FREE. Of course, if you want to spend money on expensive fertilizer and high end potting soil, that is up to you. I'd rather spend money on dice.

Use a Rain Barrel
In Texas, it's nice to have water to keep your lawn green. Sure you are paying for a barrel, but it's less water you are paying for out of your faucets.

Vacuum out your refrigerator coils
Will run more efficiently, using less electricity, saving you money! It will also make your fridge last longer. If you do the same inside your computers, the hardware will last longer, and the thing will run quieter. I want replace stuff on MY schedule, not anyone else's.

These are just a few things. A good rule of thumb is, figure out ways to reduce power usage and water usage so that you don't have to pay it on your utility bills.

If you are really motivated, you can do much more. Heck, you can create solar water heaters for cheap that make water so hot, you can scald yourself.

Now you know, and knowing is half the battle...

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Yes, it's really like this

I've worked there.


Monday, April 20, 2009

Can you see the real me?

Since there weren't any negative comments regarding work posts, here comes the first.

In real life, I'm the Senior Software Quality Engineer at my company. This means I spend my time testing software and writing bugs against that software. My tasks also extend to doing light project management, 3rd tier tech support (if Customer Support can't figure it out, it goes to me - usually at that point, it's a bug that needs to be fixed), and test automation (programming).

Automation is a program that is used to test another program in much the same way a user would. I used to be a full out software developer, but due to various and sundry circumstances I ended up being stuck testing. This means that the programming aspect of my job is the one I find the most rewarding - even if I don't get to do it much.

Recently, we drastically changed how our company's software works and so about 90% of the automation I had created in Rational Robot does not work now. This means that the release I've been working on has been a pain in the butt to test, because it forces me to do everything manually. It's a slow process and I've had to pick certain things I will not test because I simply do not have the time. Because my boss flatly refused to update the support license on our test software, I will simply have to stop using that automation tool.

However, it's always darkest before the storm...err....dawn. Using the coding library "WatiN", I will be able to rebuild my automation using C#. C# is the Microsoft Language that our application was written in. Because all of the devs have Visual Studio, I can pick their brains from time to time for assistance. The OTHER nice thing about this is that it will open up my future job prospects by giving me coding experience.

But I digest...

Now, I need to decide how best to go about rebuilding my automation and where I start.

The goals of test teams, especially in small groups, is to find the important bugs fast. Lets face it, when you are using software, do you care if a seldom used portion of the app has badly formatted text, or if the main screen of the application crashes when you use the control that its raison d'etre?

What this means is that the first thing to be tested needs to be "things that are changed". This is where undiscovered bugs most likely hide. Code that hasn't been touched in years may indeed by hiding a sinister bug, but if the users haven't even seen it, it's not as important to test it as it is to test the brand new feature that just rolled off of the assembler line. Clearly though, this is not a good candidate for automation. You will need to manually test this first and start thinking about how to automate it as you test it.

The next thing you look at is a PRIME candidate for automation: Core functionality. These are the things that are the main purpose of the application. They are critical and popular. You'll be hitting this the most in your testing and even if it changes, it will usually do what it has always done so that your automation is not invalidated - or at least will require minimal changes.

So, you've figured out what your Core functionality is. How do you code for it? Starting off, create a basic framework that touches each of the areas you will need to be testing. You aren't working at creating deep functional tests, but a basic "smoke" test. For example, if you are testing a calculator function, you are worried about if it can add, subtract, multiply, and divide at all, BEFORE you start looking at all the different ways numbers can be added. Approaching your work this way permits you to have a framework which will let you easily add functionality. Here we start into test case identification, so you need to have created clear and solid test cases to start from.

More Later.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Thursday Bonus

I'm working on a story arc for City of Heroes. I decided that I want this story to be full of CoX tropes. Think of it as a tribute to CoX and all the joy it has brought me. I'm planning on using Rachael as the mission giver.

Here is a quote from an early draft of the story....

"Really? You say Statesman was there? He couldn't have been, I was farming the Statesman Task Force while you were rescuing Atlas Park, he couldn't have been there too.

Furthermore, MAGI was robbed....AGAIN! I think they need a new locksmith. Azuria assures me that the scotch tape they use to hold the vault closed is good enough."

This is....subject to change.

Oh! By the way....for my Macintosh brethren...The City of Heroes Macintosh client has been released. I'm on the Infinity server. @Rachael Storm

One more thing - I'm really enjoying "Saul Rubenstien's Discount Taskforce" by @Ascendant. Its a developer's choice. Very funny missions.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


This started out as an April Fools Joke from ThinkGeek.

But, did you notice what they said on the right?

    ATTN Tauntaun Fanatics! Due to an overwhelming tsunami of requests from YOU THE PEOPLE, we have decided to TRY and bring this to life. We have no clue if the suits at Lucasfilms will grant little ThinkGeek a license, nor do we know how much it would ultimately retail for. But if you are interested in ever owning one of these, click the link below and we'll try!

I hope when they introduce this, it will be in Adult Size!

Special Touch: Notice the LightSaber zipper?

Monday, April 13, 2009

Saturday, April 11, 2009

City of Heroes: Issue 14

I decided to give City of Heroes another spin now that issue 14 is out.


Why is it cool? You can CREATE story arcs and adventures. You can choose any villain group or design your own for these missions. Furthermore, you can share these missions with other players. Keep a special eye for "Developer's Choice" missions. Those are missions that the Dev's felt were incredibly well done. While Champions Online has the "Nemesis" project (which looks to be wonderful), I think this offers MUCH more potential for expanding gameplay. After all, there is something to be said for opening the doors to UNLIMITED content.

I played a few custom missions this morning created by other players. Then I found out that "TwoFlower" was posting missions. I first came upon his work playing his Neverwinter Nights Penultima series. The adventures he designs tell solid stories with a bit of a "tongue in cheek" quality. I was a big fan of Penultima and may stay re-subbed if he continues his work in CoX.

His missions are.
1931: The Do-It-Yourself Laser Moonbase Project (Dev Choice) <- Rachael Recommends
2539: The Best of The Rest of What's Left
1960: The Hydroponic Psychotropic Freak Out!
4562: The Household Chores of the Damned <- Rachael REALLY Recommends!

I may try my hand at creating a few missions, but I'll need good inspiration. This is a feature I'd LOVE to see in other games. It raises the bar of what can be done in an MMO.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Thinking about Work

Traditionally, this has been a gaming and general geekery related blog. I know my audience prefers it that way. Sure, from time to time, this blog gets various bits of odds and ends that are more for me and my brain than anyone else. The idea behind this has a few different roots.
  1. When learning material, it is best to read it, write it, and speak it. You engage more portions of the brain and therefore facilitate learning.
  2. In the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, and various other sources I've read, I learned that when setting goals, it is best to write them down. This gives them a form of reality that acts as a hook for their creation to start taking shape.
  3. By writing things down, I don't forget them.
This may explain why I write some of the crazy things I write.

However, I do work and I want to take pride in what I do. I also need to collect my thoughts together with regard to what I do and how I fit in with my company. So, what does this mean for you, dear reader?

It means that I am considering adding a new type of post here. A post that has to do with Software Development. I know I don't have many readers who are developers and even fewer of them will be true "Engineers", so it could be that these posts may be a bit dry to the average reader. Hopefully, you the reader may get to learn a bit about what Software Engineering and Software Quality Assurance is like.

Do I intend on reducing the amount of "gamer geekery" posts I post here? No. Trust me that if that happens, it's only because I hit a dry spell (like I have of late). It is possible I'd spin that off into another blog at some point, but at the time of this writing, I don't know.

So what do y'all think?

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Farewell Dave Arneson

I hope he and Gary save a place at the table for me to roll up a character when my race is run.

The Empty Chair
Eulogy for a Gamer
By Jolly Blackburn

There is an empty chair,
at the table this day.
A hallowed place where,
a friend once played.
The roll of his dice,
my ears long to hear.
Or perhaps it would suffice,
if he should suddenly appear.
With character sheet in hand,
and a bag of Cheeze-doodles to share.
All his friends would stand,
as he sat in the empty chair.
I hear his voice a-callin’,
and it ties my heart in a knot.
For he cries, “Though a comrade has fallen,
You must play for those who cannot.”
We conquered worlds on the run,
he and I in the name of fun.
And as others may come and go,
I make both both friend and foe.
But what I long for most,
is our past now long a ghost.

Dave's not here, man. Farewell, Dave.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Progressive Rant

I am a progressive. I'd say "liberal", but the conservative movement in America has managed to propagate "The Big Lie" that liberal is somehow "immoral" rather than simply a point of view with which they disagree. That being said, I'm incessantly assaulted by those people who disagree with my viewpoints (many of whom are close friends of mine). While I appreciate that my views are not universal AND that freedom of thought and speech are cornerstones of the United States, I find that certain conservative pundits repeatedly spread misinformation in hopes of helping their cause rather than actually using solid arguments supporting their cases. I guess that would take too much effort. So, I often find that I must collect resources to cut through the BS and misinformation that I'm assaulted with.

Now, I'm not going to stick my head in the sand and say that my prime news sources don't have any political agenda. However, I would argue that there is a difference in the quality of news I hear on CNN vs. Fox News.

What types of things am I talking about? Here is an example. When I say I want "Progressive Healthcare reform" every single conservative I know responds with "Socialized Medicine Sucks". Here is a little snippet from a recent post from Media Matters: SOURCE.

    No issue incurs the wrath of these modern-day Red hunters more than health-care reform. For more than 75 years, conservatives have smeared progressive attempts to reform our faltering health-care system as "socialized medicine."

    Let's get one thing straight. Anyone who argues that progressive health-care reform initiatives amount to "socialized medicine" is being disingenuous at best. At worst, they lack a basic understanding of what "socialized medicine" really is.

    Simply put, health-care reform that leaves the for-profit health insurance industry intact, reform that leaves doctors and other medical professionals free to offer their services outside of a government system, reform that leaves citizens free to choose a private health-care plan over a government plan simply can't be described honestly as "socialized medicine."

In the spirit of this, I'm going to list a few links for all that address assertions made by my political opponents.

1. Fact Check - (Non-partisan) a site that catches assertions made by our elected officials and notes half-truths or mis-truths. If you are a conservative trying to convince me of something, get your facts straight - don't assume Limbaugh, Hannity, Coulter, and O'Reilly are telling you the absolute truth.
2. Media Matters - (Progressive) This seems to be the best site for correcting the blatant lies spread by various Fox News types. I've seen more cases of falsehoods debunked here than almost anywhere else. This is a more progressive link, but still recommended reading.
3. Blast the Right - (Progressive) This podcast is a little further to the left than I am. However, Jack Clark provides an excellent weekly podcast addressing various issues and includes a bibliography for EVERY episode he releases. He includes some great quotes of various well known people that has inspired me to take a more pro-active stance.
4. Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting - (Non-partisan) This is a website I've only recently started looking at. It seems promising in what it presents.
5. My History Can Beat Up Your Politics - (Non-partisan) This podcast is more history than politics, but I include it here because it gives a bit of an insight as to the why's of what is going on today.

In conclusion, if you want to convince me, I want REAL SOLID ARGUMENTS as to why you think what you think. I don't want BS reasons that have no foundation or WORSE a foundation based on false information. Put your money where your mouth is.

Got a source you want to share? POST IT!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Another Star Wars: The Old Republic Update!

The Treaty of Coruscant featurette, narrated by Lance Henrickson

Furthemore, Issue 3 of The Threat of Peace is available.

Oh! and they did a post on Creating the Bounty Hunter class.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Flames of War Battle Report

But not here....

Recently, the German 10th Panzer Company met the American Able Company 1/141st infantry 36th ID on the field of battle, at the battle of Monte Cassino.

Chris posted a nifty little battle report over at his blog.

Wow, I've never seen him roll THAT good!!!!!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Musical Interlude

In accordance with this momentous day, I'm dedicating my post to my two all time favorite things: The RNC and Gangsta Rap.

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Conservative Rap Battle - Michael Steele's Response
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorMark Sanford

Happy April 1st!

Friday, March 27, 2009

My Apologies

Between running through my backlog of posts AND the fact that I slept very poorly last night, there will be no post today....

except this one...

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Will Rachael Return?

Remember back when we were gods?

Rachael Storm, a librarian exposed to a massive dose of atmospherium, developed the ability to increase her density providing her with superstrength and near indestructibility. Amongst her exploits were going toe to toe with both Lord Recluse and The Hamidon. She defeated every member of the Praetorians.

Some of the most computer fun I've had was playing City of Heroes. Heck, this blog was started as a City of Heroes Blog. Since I burned myself out on it, though, I have not yet found an MMO that has really grabbed me, and I have looked. We know I'm waiting anxiously for Star Wars: The Old Republic, but that is likely to come out in 2010. Star Trek Online has no ETA.

Recently, I noticed that Champions Online (one of the MMO's I've been watching) is slated for release in "Spring 2009" - e.g. any time now. I'm thinking that The Dawn Patrol may return here or at least make an appearance.

In all honesty, I do miss being the "Stone Goddess", the "Big Bad Boulder Bitch", etc. I miss the Task Forces, the Trials, the Raids. Honestly though, I've tried to play, and CoX just can't grab me anymore.

I wonder how many people I knew in Paragon will be there? We've all come a long way in the past 4 years...

Monday, March 23, 2009

More Star Wars Stuff!!!!!

A far time ago, in a galaxy long away....

Here are a few new news bits!
  1. The BOUNTY HUNTER class
  2. Issue 2 of the Threat of Peace
And of course....


Friday, March 20, 2009

Advice Column Roudup

Like many people, I find that navigating life can be difficult and fraught with ambiguous choices. Thankfully, the internet is here with great advice columns to help! All of these columns have the "Rachael Storm" seal of approval!

Incidentally, there IS an advice column portion of this blog. Simply post a question in one of the comments and start it with "Dear Rachael". The avenging librarian will be sure to come in and answer the question!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

IE8 goes Live today

As many people who know me know, I am an unapologizing Microsoft hater. I'm aware my dislike is rather irrational, but at least I have reasons to back it up.

However, because this actually directly effects me I must report that at Noon Eastern today, Microsoft will release IE8.
Here's to Microsoft increasing my workload by 33%.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

SPAM! VIA IM!?!?!?

The other day, I got a bit of spam via my Instant Messenger. I must say it's creative. My name has been changed for the purpose of this post.

(And in the unlikely event that this is a real person, GO GET THERAPY!)

ritab anihy: hello
Rachael: hello
Rachael: who are you?
ritab anihy: Hey Rachael
Rachael: Hi
ritab anihy: This is difficult for me to do because I'm shy..but I have a crush on you, i have been sending you emails but no response
Rachael: I"ve not seen any
Rachael: who are you?
ritab anihy: I've never been able to tell you for reasons which you would quickly identify as obvious if you knew who this was.
Rachael: I see
ritab anihy: With that said, I want you to guess who I am, and approach me yourself.
Rachael: I am spoken for.
ritab anihy: To help you out with your guessing I made a few pictures and videos with "Rachael" written on my body.
Rachael: O_o
ritab anihy: They're kind of risque photos so I had to make a profile at www.THISWASPAMMER.com and post them there
Rachael: hrm, lemme ask this
ritab anihy: did you get my last IM about the riscque photos? if you didnt get the link visit it in my yahoo profile
Rachael: what city do I live in?
ritab anihy: My username in the members area is "RachaelandME09" (It's a free website but you might need a CC or Debit to verify your age because I had to. Sigh.)
Rachael: ah...ha....I see.
ritab anihy: once you are inside search for me. I want you to guess who I am and then approach me yourself. I'm shy and this is the bravest thing I've probably ever done, but you need to do the rest.
Rachael: I'm afraid to tell you - I am currently spoken for
ritab anihy: i wont ever be able to get on yahoo messenger again this is my only day so come talk with me on the website
Rachael: So, I will not be following up with this.
Rachael: and
Rachael: You've not told me what city I live in
ritab anihy: Kisses, Secret Admirer
Rachael: so I suspect this is spam
Rachael: now I know it is
ritab anihy: Permanent Gone Message - I quit using Yahoo Messenger, I only used it to communicate with my crush and I have now done so. He knows where to talk to me at

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


iPhone OS 3.0 presentation (Shamelessly copied from the Gizmodo coverage):

Q: Video is still a blackhole if you visit a website with flash.
A: We have no announcements on Flash today.


Q: Where do you stand on tethering?
A: There’s two pieces needed to support that: client side and working with carriers. We’re absolutely supporting tethering in the client side in iPhone 3.0, but we’re working with carriers around the world to see when they can add tethering support on their networks. But we are building that support into iPhone 3.0.


Monday, March 16, 2009

Twilight: 1943

One of the things we like about our wargaming is a chance for any two of us to sit down and work out an army battle. The limitation of playing Flames of War is a reason for any army to fight any army. That is, why would say...America fight the UK or even America fight America? In my desire to create a map campaign for Flames of War I came up with the following, Inspired by Twilight 2000.

Twilight: 1943

History is rather fragile. Where a pebble in a river may not make the slightest difference, a grain of sand in the ocean of time can cause the equivalent of a tidal wave.

What if?

Edith Keeler ran the 21st Street Mission soup kitchen in New York during the depression. Her speeches and philosophies inspire a pacifist movement in the United States. The strength of her message allows her to go as far to meet with Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Roosevelt loses his bid for a third term to Wendell Willkie who further pushes for isolationism and echoes Keeler's philosophies noting her popularity.

While Japan had allied itself with Axis Germany, the power struggle delayed Japan involving itself heavily in the war beyond financial support to Germany. Prince Fumimaro Konoe knows of Yamamoto's reservations to going to war with the US, which Tojo supports. Yamamoto knew that America was a sleeping giant, not to be awakened. If Japan entered the War and attacked America, it would be an act that could lose the war. Furthermore, Fumimaro has heard the some of the Keeler philosophy.

December 7th, 1941 passes without incident. The US remains neutral a little longer.

The United States' isolationism permits Germany to get a stronger foothold and ally with Mexico. Despite diplomatic talks, Mexico attacks Texas in 1942. However, even though the Axis has attacked on American soil, the Washington looks to a diplomatic solution. Dismayed by this and still disillusioned from the Civil War, Texas exercises it's right to secede. Following suit, the former Confederate states do as well.

It becomes clear to President Wilke that the US must follow suit and declare war on the Axis, but is also at war with Texas and must face a war on all fronts. The US moves for greater ties with Canada, but the United Kingdom disapproves of some the American priorities and while not declaring a full war due to it's necessary collaboration with the US.

Mexico realizes it's next on the Axis agenda, as they are getting minimal support from Germany, leave the Axis causing negatively impacting the relations with Germany and also ensuring that Germany is unable to immediately crush the United States. Furthermore, while flexing its muscles, Mexico realizes it needs resources to continue its fight and defend itself. To this end, they attack Venezuela in an attempt to seize the oilfields there.

Emboldened by the chaos across the world, the Grand Duchess Tsarina Anastasia comes out of hiding and rallies the Soviet citizens who were disillusioned with Communism and stokes the fires of revolution in Russia.

Japan finally sorts itself out with Tojo ascending to power one year after the deadline of the Imperial Conference to select a prime minister. Yamamoto's tactical genius allows him to maintain his post. December 7th, 1942, Pearl Harbor is bombed.

Such is the world of Twilight: 1943.

Friday, March 13, 2009


I finally fell into the Facebook crowd. The company I work for is interested in borrowing ideas from various social networks, so I figured it was worth looking into.

Learn more about Facebook.

I have to say, the neat thing about it is being able to reconnect with people you've lost track of. It also helps to make sure you don't loose track of people over time. You can keep an eye on people and remind people you exist.

Those of us who had a better high school existence than I did, might find it worth-while to look into as it is almost trivial to find people you knew. I found people from a private school I went to who I was very fond of. Note this was 20+ years ago.

Give a look, its free and you might find something you like. If you don't like it, you've not lost anything.

If you wish, look me up (I'm listed under my *gasp* real name there).

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Monday, March 9, 2009

10. Panzer Division or 21. Panzer Division?

Well, after finally sitting down and spending more time with the books, I think my initial target Flames of War force is going to look a bit more like this.

1500 Pts - German Panzergrenadierkompanie List - 10th Panzer Division

1 Company HQ @ 125 Pts
1 HQ Section @ [80] Pts
1 Panzerknacker @ [5] Pts
2 SdKfz 251/1 @ [40] Pts
2 Hull MG @ [0] Pts
1 Anti-tank Rifle Section @ [45] Pts
1 Anti-tank Rifle team @ [25] Pts
1 SdKfz 251/1 @ [20] Pts
1 Hull MG @ [0] Pts

1 Armoured Panzergrenadier Platoon @ 210 Pts
1 HQ Section @ [60] Pts
1 SdKfz 251/10 @ [25] Pts
1 3.7cm tank gun @ [0] Pts
2 Panzergrenadier Squad @ [150] Pts
2 SdKfz 251/1 @ [40] Pts
2 Hull MG @ [0] Pts

1 Armoured Panzergrenadier Platoon @ 210 Pts
1 HQ Section @ [60] Pts
1 SdKfz 251/10 @ [25] Pts
1 3.7cm tank gun @ [0] Pts
2 Panzergrenadier Squad @ [150] Pts
2 SdKfz 251/1 @ [40] Pts
2 Hull MG @ [0] Pts

1 Armoured Panzergrenadier Platoon @ 210 Pts
1 HQ Section @ [60] Pts
1 SdKfz 251/10 @ [25] Pts
1 3.7cm tank gun @ [0] Pts
2 Panzergrenadier Squad @ [150] Pts
2 SdKfz 251/1 @ [40] Pts
2 Hull MG @ [0] Pts

1 Panzer Platoon @ 345 Pts
3 Panzer III L or M @ [345] Pts
3 5cm KwK39 gun @ [0] Pts
3 Co-ax MG @ [0] Pts
3 Hull MG @ [0] Pts

1 Light Anti-aircraft Platoon @ 60 Pts
2 SdKfz 10/5 @ [60] Pts
2 2cm FlaK38 gun @ [0] Pts

1 Priority Air Support @ 175 Pts
Priority Air Support
1 Ju 87D @ [175] Pts
1 Bombs @ [0] Pts

1 Tank-hunter Platoon @ 165 Pts
2 Diana @ [165] Pts
2 7.62cm FK36(r) gun @ [0] Pts
2 AA MG @ [0] Pts

Total List Cost: 1500

You will notice that there are a LOT of half-tracks. The German Blitzkrieg relied on their vehicals. I love a fast moving, in-your-face army, so this SHOULD suit my playstyle. This tactic is reflected in the German special rules on page 166-167 of the main book. First, I have the "Stormtroopers" rules. This gives me a chance to get an extra 4" of movement in the Assault Step. Sadly, the 251s in the don't bring the "Stuka Zu Fuss" (Stukas on Foot) rule into play. I do get vehicle mounted machine guns and the "Mounted Assault" rule. "Mounted Assault" basically means I can assault from the vehical (though it's a tad more complex than that). This gets my troops out there FASTER.

The HQ are comprised of "Panzerknackers". Panzerknackers are "Tank Hunters". We all love our tanks. I'm taking this into account by fielding the Panzerknackers which are designed to assault tanks.

I love my tanks, so I need the 3 Panzers. I'll use my Panzer IIIJ models for now.

Notice the Priority Air Support. This means that on my first turn, I roll a dice pool for air support. If I roll a six in that pool, I get Air Support for that turn. Priorty vs. Limited is merely how many dice I get to roll. The next turn I roll one less die, but the mechanic works the same. I hit TOP armor, so that should be nasty for any tanks even though I have a low armour penetration. In World War II, the Stuka was used for this, and they were MEAN.

I need the Anti-aircraft gun to...well...deal with incoming aircraft. I'm not the only one with Air Support.

Finally, I round out the list with the Dianas which are also anti-tank, but work with my lightning war methods.

Now, the problem with the above list, is that I'm a little troop light and not *quite* as balanced a list. In Flames of War (much like real war), battle is a balancing act. I think this list is far more balanced, but not quite as appealing to me.

1500 Pts - German Panzergrenadierkompanie List - 21st

1 Company HQ @ 55 Pts
1 HQ Section @ [55] Pts
2 Panzerknacker @ [10] Pts
1 Motorcycle and sidecar @ [5] Pts
1 Kfz 15 @ [5] Pts

1 Panzergrenadier Platoon @ 225 Pts
1 HQ Section @ [45] Pts
1 Panzerknacker @ [5] Pts
1 Kfz 15 @ [5] Pts
3 Panzergrenadier Squad @ [180] Pts
3 Kfz 70 @ [15] Pts

1 Panzergrenadier Platoon @ 225 Pts
1 HQ Section @ [45] Pts
1 Panzerknacker @ [5] Pts
1 Kfz 15 @ [5] Pts
3 Panzergrenadier Squad @ [180] Pts
3 Kfz 70 @ [15] Pts

1 Panzergrenadier Platoon @ 225 Pts
1 HQ Section @ [45] Pts
1 Panzerknacker @ [5] Pts
1 Kfz 15 @ [5] Pts
3 Panzergrenadier Squad @ [180] Pts
3 Kfz 70 @ [15] Pts

1 Panzer Platoon @ 270 Pts
3 Panzer III G, H or J @ [270] Pts
3 5cm KwK37 gun @ [0] Pts
3 Co-ax MG @ [0] Pts
3 Hull MG @ [0] Pts

1 Priority Air Support @ 175 Pts
Priority Air Support
1 Ju 87D @ [175] Pts
1 Bombs @ [0] Pts

1 Heavy Anti-aircraft Gun Platoon @ 160 Pts
1 HQ Section @ [20] Pts
1 Kfz 15 @ [5] Pts
1 8.8cm FlaK36 gun @ [140] Pts
1 Large Crew @ [10] Pts
1 SdKfz 7 @ [5] Pts

1 Tank-hunter Platoon @ 165 Pts
2 Diana @ [165] Pts
2 7.62cm FK36(r) gun @ [0] Pts
2 AA MG @ [0] Pts

Total List Cost: 1500

I have many of the same options.

With either list, I can take them to 1750, the SAME way...I add the following:

1 Generalfeldmarschall Erwin Rommel @ 50 Pts
1 SdKfz 250/5 'Greif' @ [0] Pts
1 Hull MG @ [0] Pts
1 Rear AA MG @ [0] Pts

1 Escort Platoon @ 190 Pts
3 Captured Honey Stuart @ [190] Pts
3 Captured 37mm tank gun @ [0] Pts
3 Co-ax MG @ [0] Pts
3 Hull MG @ [0] Pts

It's exactly 240 pts.

For modelling purposes though, I'm not going to be using 'Greif', I'm instead going to model 'Max': his captured Dorchester Armoured Command Vehicle. He figured if it was good enough for Monty (who managed to stop his Blitzkreig) it was good enough for him. Stat wise, you just use the 'Greif' stats, but still...it's cool! I love the variety I get to use with working in the british vehicles into my army so I have a wide variety to choose from.