Thursday, December 30, 2010

It's time to change the passwords!

If you've been looking at the news recently, you know about the fact that Gawker Media was recently hacked and a number of usernames and passwords were exposed. Gawker contains sites I love like io9, Lifehacker, Consumerist, and others so I was very mindful of this.

Especially since I tend to break the cardinal rules of passwords.
  • Use a different password for every site
  • Use a password that contains letters, numbers, caps, lowercase and a special character
  • Use a different username for every site
While I don't publize my usernames/passwords, one good hack in one place would leave me vulnerable.

This raises the question, "How can I fix this?" Any solution I come up with needs to fit the following criteria:
  1. Access everywhere
  2. Very complex passwords that I don't have remember
  3. Facilitate remembering username
I did some research and come up with what I consider to be a rather nifty solution.

First, the password/username manager.

After doing some research on Lifehacker and watching Tekzilla I stumbled over Keepass.

Keepass is a wonderful username/password manager that is available on Windows, Linux, Mac, iPhone, Android, and more. It allows you to create special password generation rules, saves different usernames, AND even has an "autotype" feature. You can read a full list of it's features here. There are even versions you can save and run off of an USB drive. The Android version provides a simple method to place the username and password to the various applets on the system. If they don't support it, you can copy/paste.

After using Keepass on a system you find you have a database FILLED with passwords and userids that are encrypted. Now what? You need to keep the version on your PC and the version on your phone (I use the Android version too) and other platforms in sync.

If you have an Android phone, it's trivial to copy the datafile from the computer you are on to the exact directory on the phone.

What if you don't have a smartphone or you don't want to copy files the hard way?

Look to tools like "Dropbox". You can place the password database on a tool like this and it will ALWAYS be in sync between different systems. Alternatively, you can save the DB in Google Docs. Just be sure you have a hardcore password! These solutions also allow you to sync the DB to your phone as well.

I always have an up-to-date version of the password DB whereever I need.

I hope this helps everyone to keep their online identies safer and hacker resistant...

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Sharn - The Cauldron - Episode 4

The trio decides to investigate Phon's home. They travel to the block where she lives and investigate. During the search, they are interrupted by the town guard who received a report from a neighbor of intruders. Talyn easily convinces the guards that they are good guys and the guards assist. Rexton questions the neighbor who summoned the guard but gets no information. After examining Phon's room, Kal concludes that there were at least 2 attackers who kidnapped Phon. Talyn investigates the outside of the building and determines the most likely path where Phon was taken, even finding a scrap of her clothing. The party questions another neighbor (an elf) who informs them that he heard a noise, but didn't see anyone.

The trio decides to return to the Cathedral of the Cleansing Flame to further question Flamebearer Fabitor. At the party's request, the Archierophant sends a courier to find Fabitor and have him return. The party sends a scribe to Morgrave University to research the symbol on Phon's body. Finally, Rexton sends a courier to Coldflame Keep to get his equipment.

The courier sent to Coldflame returns with the equipment and informs Rexton that Mazin has important news for him. Rexton leaves Kal to wait for Fabitor and returns to Coldflame Keep. There, Mazin informs him that Phon was pregnant. The fetus didn't appear to be human, having minimal facial features and a symbol similar to the one Phon had, only larger.

Talyn asks questions around the Cathedral of the Cleansing Flame about the Archierophant and Fabitor. He finds out that she tended to focus on tending the congregation rather than on business which Fabitor was primarily involved in.

Rexton makes a copy of the symbol and heads directly to Morgrave University Library. There, he meets the head librarian who appears to be an orangutan.

The Librarian leads him to the other scribe sent to research Phon's mark. Rexton sends the scribe back to the Cathedral with an update of information. The researcher who was looking for information on Phon's mark reveals the following information:
    Phon's mark appears to be a "lesser" or "least" abbberant Dragonmark. Within the Dragonmark houses, only a small percentage of every generation manifest dragonmarks, which are marks on the body that grant abilities to those born with them. Aberrant dragonmarks are deviations from normal marks and are not recognized by the dragonmarked houses. The aberrant lords of the War of the Mark wielded terrible powers. Madness, flame, and plague were the least of their weapons. These tales inspired the superstitions that haunt the bearers of aberrant dragonmarks to this day. But in the centuries since the War of the Mark, no aberrant mark has ever bestowed the sort of powers seen in the past.

Rexton returns to the Cathedral at the same time Fabitor arrives. The group questions Fabitor about stealing money and he confesses. However, he maintains that he didn't really know Phon.

Talyn observes to the general group, "You found out about her and had to do something about it." The entire group in the room gives him a quizzical look.

The party decides to hold Fabitor to be brought to Wroat (the capital of Breland) for trial. They further decide to watch the Cathedral for the next few days to see if someone impersonating Fabitor arrives.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Sharn - The Cauldron - Episode 2 & 3

After leaving Indenture Hall, Kal moves around the area trying to get any clues regarding the statues in Malleon's Gate. He remembers hearing a raspy sound just as he crossed through the gate to exit that section of town. He heads back to and starts looking around there.
Rexton follows. As he and Kal walk through town, “So…Just what are we looking for?”

Kal doesn't answer.

As Kal and Rexton proceed to the edge of Oldkeep and Malleon’s Gate, there are the sounds of someone running down an upper walkway. As you glance up you see an odd shadow of a person about 15 feet up hanging from a rope by there feet.

“Umm Kal...There's a guy hanging up there..” says Rexton as he looks at the body.

The “body” is actually breathing – so “he” seems to be alive. A flash of light from a torch (it is dark and rainy) reveals it is Sequiter (Kal, of course, recognizes him – Rexton does not because he’s never met him).

Sequiter’s eyes flutter open.

Kal looks around for a way to get Sequiter down, before he becomes "NonSequiter".

“Well nice to see you hanging around sir,” quips Rexton as he gives the dangling man a once over after Kal gets him down.

Sequiter takes a look around him, and gathers is thoughts. Then checks out how he is bound.

"Sequiter," asks Kal, "how did this come to be? Who would have done this to you?"

Sequiter looks and it appears to be a very simple loop around his feet that has been tied very quickly and clumsily. It would be easy to get himself down if he wishes. (And no, Sequiter has no memory of how he got here). It doesn’t appear to be any type of “trap”, but rather someone lifted him up there quickly and slipped an existing noose around his feet to hold him upsidedown.

“See anything interesting while you were hanging there?” asks Rexton.

Sequiter unties the knots and rights himself (hanging right side up) “I'll take a look”

Sequiter notes that the rope is lower quality and likely near the end of it’s operational life; even having had frayed areas tied back together. It is tied to an upper walkway.

“How did you get up there sir?” looks inquisitively at Sequiter.

Kal looks around to see how Sequiter would have been tied up. Looking for any place the rope would be attached to looking for any sign of a scuffle or drag marks.

Sequiter gaves the corners of his cape to slow his descent to the ground, then looks around.

Kal and Sequiter both notice that there are scratches on the wall (like some critter with sharp claws climbed up). There are no clear signs of a struggle. They conclude that Sequiter was likely unconscious when he was put there.

Kal notices a clumsy shallow mark on Sequiter’s neck (someone was getting ready to cut his throat but got distracted).

Rexton wryly grins, saying “Looks like he almost lost his head over whatever he was into.”

As Sequiter is about to make a pithy comeback, he thinks, “What is that scurrying scuttering noise?”

“What is that noise?” Rexton asks, looking around trying to find the source of the skittering…“I hope I dont loose my head too.”

Rat creatures attack, but are quickly dispatched by our heroes. They leave one alive and question him about the attack. He responds that "Lady Death is coming".

Kal continues back to Malleon's Gate where he asks about the statues more. After doing some more looking around, Rexton leaves to go back to Coldflame Keep. Kal and Sequiter encounter Gasslak - a Medusa who is blindfolded and apparently uses the snakes on his(?) head to see.

He shows them the body of a young girl who'd been left there and asks them to track down the culprits lest unwanted attention and demihuman purges be focused on Malleon's Gate. They look at the body and notice that she had been beaten and strangled. She is dressed in nice clothes, like that of a clerk in a nice district and has an pendant of the "Church of the Silver Flame".

They take the body back to Coldflame Keep and examine it. There they notice an odd "birthmark" on her back. They continue examining the body but cannot determine anything else. Mazin says he will summon someone to examine her more closely.

That evening, they return to Indenture Hall. Gast shows them his "special merchandise" which turns out to be the group of missing children. They attempt to bargain and are able to become the main bidders, but are about to fight them when a Mind Flayer enters. He takes one of the children and leaves the rest to them and leaves. The trio grabs Gast and threatens to kill him unless his guards drop their weapons. One guard looks around and indicates that he really doesn't care - he was not interested in dealing with slaves and thinks that Gast should be taken away.

They take Gast to the local City Guard station where they are given a reward and Gast is taken into custody. Rexton says that there are others who are also responsible for the slave trade. The guards come back with two more employees of Indenture Hall and indicate that the head of the Hall has turned over everyone who is responsible.

The trio takes the children back to the Lantern Way Orphanage. And go to sleep for the night.

METAGAME: I run the first level of my D&D/Pathfinder games as a pilot and permit total character redefinition on level 2. The story follows the player, not the character so if there is a rename-the person has always had that name. The changes are as follows:
  • Kal'Torak is changed from a "Duskblade" to a "Magus" - forthcoming Pathfinder class, still in "beta". He is much more intimidating. 
  • Rexton is changed from a "Cleric" to an "Inquisitor" from the Pathfinder Advanced Players Handbook. He is less flippant and more direct. 
  • Sequiter Cross has become Talyn Nichec. He is a "Manipulator" Wizard from the Pathfinder Advanced Players Handbook with a penchant for being charismatic and baking cookies.


The heroes proceed to the Cathedral to research the murdered girl. Rexton bursts in on a wedding wanting to talk to the high priestess. Flamebearer Fabitor pulls him aside and tries to help him with the information he is looking for. Fabitor doesn't remember the girl but indicates she is somewhat familiar. Rexton still wants to talk to the high priestess, Archheirophant Morr.

Kal runs to a nearby store and purchases a gem encrusted falcon as a wedding gift (from a human seller named Lorre) to try to make up for Rexton's bluntness. Talyn turns on the charm, apologizes and offers everyone cookies, indicating he was invited by "Bob and Carol". The wedding proceeds without incident.

After the wedding, Rexton asks Morr about the girl. Morr says she doesn't recall the girl but will ask her acolytes and give him an answer the next day. Talyn asks the bridesmaids about where he can "find a certain store employee who was helpful". He is directed to "Smithwicks".

Kal dances with Archheirophant Morr while Talyn is thanked by Bob for showing up.

Later that day, the trio goes to "Smithwicks". There they discover that the girls name was "Phon Quartermain"; that she and her friend, Annabell (another clerk) both attended the Cathedral; and that Phon had had a "boyfriend" who's description matched Fabitor. Talyn buys a very cool hat.

The trio returns to the Cathedral to follow Fabitor that evening. Fabitor leaves the church and they follow him (he apparently doesn't notice). He goes and has dinner at The Noble Wyvern in Lyrander Tower. The group observes him having a very expensive meal. Talyn casts an illusion of Phon (complete with bruises) to gauge a reaction. Fabitor is initially troubled and follows the image.

He encounters Rexton (pretending not to see the illusion) who questions him about Phon and indicates that there are witnesses placing the two of them together. Fabitor finally agrees to come down and look at the body.

That evening, Talyn goes back to the Cathedral to ask around. He speaks to a temple guard named Aliatis who says that Fabitor does occasionally speak to members of the congegration who seem to be less well off. He does indicate that Phon sounds familiar and he'd seen her with Fabitor. He also indicates that Fabitor does seems to have a great deal of wealth, but he doesn't know where it comes from and speculates that it could be due to family money.

The next day Fabitor comes down to Coldflame Keep to examine the body. He is troubled but claims to have no knowledge of the murder. Rexton thinks that he may be telling the truth. Fabitor also tells Rexton that Archhierophant Morr wants to speak with him about something, but he doesn't know about what.

The trio goes to Cathedral to speak with Archeirophant Morr. She tells them that acolytes have seen the two of them together and she presents evidence that he may be skimming money from the church coffers. She offers to let them search his quarters and his office. They also ask her about the mark on Phon's back. She suspects it may be some type of Dragonmark, but not like any she knows about and recommends they investigate at the library of Morgrave University.

In his quarters, they discover a bag of money and a small notebook containing, among other things, addresses. After searching his office, they find a note mailed to one of the addresses.

They proceed to the address, a nice apartment in the Mithral Towers district. There they find a bottle of perfume which Kal remembers is a scent he'd smelled when around Phon's body.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

2010 New Year's Resolution Update

As I look at the progress of my New Year's Resolution for 2010, there is one area that I feel I've failed miserably: Fitness.

  • I've increased the amount I read.
  • I've been studying technical information for work.
  • I've gotten in the habit of doing chores.
  • I've been managing my task list so stuff doesn't fall off my to do list
  • I've been working to follow my bliss.
  • I've been working to be more spiritual.

HOWEVER, I'm still fat and unhealthy and I need to jumpstart my improvments in this area to continue "remaking" myself.

I did some research on this and decided on pursing Crossfit (well, not exactly - YMCA offers a Crossfit-like program I'm doing). What I like is that this seems to be a more holistic way of exercising. Furthermore, it is a way of exercising that doesn't get routine or boring. It is hard and can be painful, but I'm enjoying it so far.

Furthermore, I'm tracking my calorie intake and outgo at Nerd Fitness. For the record, I am aware I will be needing to do this to some extent for the rest of my life.

My idea at the beginning of the year to move to a more entrepeneural stance in my career I decided to toss. First of all, I found a job I like. Secondly, as part of my spiritual reflection, I decided I wasn't thrilled with the idea of putting so much time toward my career.

What does this have to do with fitness?

There is still the need to step beyond my comfort zone and take a risk. If I cannot do it in the real of work, I should do it elsewhere.

This raises the question, "What should I do?". The most obvious answer is to sign up and participate in a race. After running Cross Country in High School, that idea really doesn't excite me as I find regular running very dull. So I did some research and came up with the following:

This type of race seems less boring to me than something like a 5k/10k/Triathlon. I'm still thinking about this, but it looks like it could be really fun and nerdy.


Friday, October 1, 2010

Bustin' Makes Me Feel Thunderstruck

The thing I love about the internet is all the messed up mashups!

Friday, September 10, 2010

I found new Star Wars: The Old Republic Podcasts

And here they are...
  1. Corellian Run Radio
  2. TOR Syndicate
  3. TOROCast
I've just started listening to these, so I don't know if they are good or not at this time, but I thought I'd share!

If you are as excited about Bioware's Star Wars MMO as I am, check it out!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Sharn - The Cauldron - Episode 1

I've restarted my Dungeons and Dragons campaign set in Sharn. The characters are:

Kal'Torak - Risen Demon (e.g. Good Demon) Duskblade
Rexton Baxter - Human Cleric
Sequiter Cross - Swordsage

Our story resumes...

Kal Torak woke up in his crypt at night. He realized that he’d had a very limited memory of the past few days and had no memory of how he got home. He decided to Oldkeep and visit Sequiter.
As Kal progresses through Malleon’s Gate towards OldKeep, he notices statues. He inspects one and tries to move it. However, it is very heavy and he can’t move it. He goes into the hobgoblin bar. He orders an ale and asks about the statue. The bartender tells him about Gasslak (protects area because of no city guard except by the gates). Kal decides to continue on. As he gets toward border of the district he hears a “rattle” just as he leaves.
He finally arrives at Sequiter’s tenement brownstone. Sequiter does not seem to be home, so he leaves the following note
“Sequiter, came by to see you, you weren’t here. Please come by some time, Kal”
Kal continues to backtrack and he heads over to High Hope – Coldflame Keep. There, he is greeted by a young acolyte who invites him to wait until Mazin arrives as it is very early in the morning at this time (about 4 am).
Mazin finally arrives and is dismayed over the news. He believes that it is too late for the children. He asks Kal to followup on reports on slavery in the city as some of the children may be sold there. He introduces a visiting cleric named “Rexton” and suggests they team up. Mazin’s suggests that they start their investigation in the Bazaar in Dura.
When they arrive, they note that the City Guards are watching the customers, but don’t seem interested in stopping crimes as they observe a drug dealer (dreamily) operating and being ignored. Rexton looks for a Ranked City Watchman, but sees none.
Kal intimidates a drug dealer into going “Out of business” and gets information about where to go. Indenture Hall is located on “Song Way” and may have what they are looking for.
They head there and ask about acquiring a “servant” suggesting that they are looking for someone “young”.
Gast, the Half-Orc who runs the place, suggests they return that evening around midnight for “Special Merchandise”.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Obsidian Portal for Gamemasters

Just a quick post/recommendation.

If you are running ANY Roleplaying Game (any system), check out Obsidian Portal:

1. It's free
2. You can sign in using credentials from FB, Gmail, OpenId, and Many others - or make up your own login there.
3. It is system neutral - no matter what you are running it will work - it's about the story, not the mechanics.
4. It allows for GM only information that your players cannot see

I use it.
It is an online wiki that you can use to run your game and provide information to your players, including a log of all your sessions.
At the premium/paid level, a GM can provide a forum and notifications for players.
Read more about it at their site!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

How I use my tech: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow.

Have you noticed recently a change in the way you relate to your tech?

With the advent of super-smartphones (iPhone/Android) and the further increase in power of technology, I've noticed that how I enjoy my technology has been changing. Leo Laporte has chatted about this on his various podcasts, and I've noticed that it has become more pervasive in my life.

Here are some examples:

Three years ago:
  • 90% of what I watched was on Cable.
  • My phone was a pay-as-you go phone with minimal functionality.
  • Most of what I needed to do online involved me pulling out my laptop (including sending email).
  • I couldn't manage my schedule.
  • I kinda liked KGSR.
  • I had to call someone I knew for directions.

  • I don't have cable. I either watch online streaming TV or iTunes shows. I have my most powerful computer hooked up to my TV. I'm still keeping up to date on Dr. Who, Futurama, and NCIS. My PC tells me when I have new show available to consume.
  • My phone is my main entertainment platform: Audiobooks ( app), Audio and Video netcasts (Doggcatcher downloads stuff directly to my phone) , written word (Kindle/Nook apps), and more to come.
  • 90% of what I do online, I do on my phone. I usually dictate emails to my phone for sending. Keeping in touch with friends and family is TRIVIAL now.
  • I don't forget appointments nor important dates. Furthermore, I have an automated todo list to remind me to do tasks I could barely manage to keep track of (chores, exercise, and such).
  • KGSR isn't as Austiny as it used to be, so my favorite radio station (since dropping satellite radio) is a public radio 24/7 Blues station out of Chicago. Of course, my entire music library is IN my car right now.
  • I'm NEVER lost.
  • I learn something new everyday.

Realize also, that I use automated tasks on my PC to do preprocessing: I have it downloading and "speeding up" audio podcasts before sending to my phone, because didn't work well for me. sure I had to write some code to do that, but still. Furthermore, my PC downloads and keeps a local backup of my e-mail in case the cloud fails. I can log into that computer from my phone.
  • I will learn new skills by playing games.
  • I will work with my computer, not only by touching my screen, but similar to Tom Cruise in Minority Report.
  • I will be able to make my gadgets do some of my housekeeping tasks (not just housework).
  • The human race may not have a strong foothold in space yet, but we will be living "La Vida Star Trek".
  • My tech will further inspire and unleash my creativity.

Thursday, July 15, 2010


Since I started this new job, I've been walking to work whenever I can. While I enjoy this (even in the Texas Summer) its made it trickier to sculpt the life that I've wanted to live, e.g. the balance of my personal time. I've long struggled on this and have been trying to figure out how to cram every thing I wanted to do into the free time I have. This includes my New Year's resolution of remaking myself.

I took a step this past couple weeks toward this goal, and signed up for Using Leo Laporte's promo code, I signed up for two free books and got the second Honor Harrington book and the newest Dresden Files book. Since I have a Motorola Droid with the Audible application, it means I can easily have the "books" with me at all times. While I walk to and from work and do housework, I listen to my books. The added bonus is that when I'm tired I can read; I've always had a problem focusing on text when I'm tired. So far it is working out rather well.

My goal is to work through the library of "must reads" that I've never been able to get to for whatever reason.

By the way, the newest Dresden Files book is a constant "OMG!" experience. If you "read" the Audiobook, James Marsters (yes, Spike on Buffy) does a fantastic job!

In short:

Thursday, July 8, 2010


I picked this book up a few weeks ago for the Savage Worlds RPG because, to me at least, the setting is SOOO COOL! If you are familiar with the Edgar Rice Burroughs "John Carter" series, you will be familiar with the feel of the world, if not the exact world (there are differences - it is in the style of the books, but not the exact setting).

I'm sharing this for my gaming group to better explain the setting.


    Welcome to Mars!

    Not Mars as it is - airless, most likely lifeless, with only the faintest hints of what might have once been a damp, if not necessarily lush and living, world billions of years in the past. No, this is Mars as it should be and as it was once imagined to be - an ancient, dying, but not yet dead world, a world where a vast canal network reaches from pole to pole, bringing water and life to vast and fantastic cities. A Mars where albino apes run a vast empire in the last surviving jungle, a world where warrior tribes of Green Martians raid the outlying cities of the canal dwellers, a world where, in places dark and quiet and forgotten beneath the surface, ancient and terrible intellects plan dark and dire deeds.

    It is a Mars of sky-corsairs, of duels with blade and blaster, of vile plots, fantastic inventions, daring rescues, arena battles, and spectacular stunts. It is a Mars where ancient cities can be discovered and their lost treasures plundered, a Mars where a trek across the dry sea bottoms can yield amazing discoveries, where terrible monsters roam the rocky wastes.

    It is the Mars of pulp fiction and Saturday morning serials.

The book was released by Adamant Entertainment.

Friday, July 2, 2010

My Motorola Droid

As previously mentioned, I got so frustrated with AT&T Wireless, that I moved over to Verizon and gave up my iPhone. To this end, in April I got a Shiney new Motorola Droid. There are newer Android phones out there, but so far I've been pretty happy with this phone and I don't regret my choice. I guess part of that is that I'm now using a linux phone.

So, for my smart phone friends, here is a list of the various applications I've installed on my phone in case you are curious and want to either install them (if you are an Android user) or find the iPhone equivalent (if you are an iPhone user).

I hope, dear reader, you phind this usephul phor your phone.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Linux Update

When I moved what was my monster work PC into the living room to act as a media center PC, I lost the system to drive my printer. This meant that it was very difficult for me to print anything. I would often need to drag a laptop into the office and hook it up to the printer on an ad-hoc basis. I didn't want to move the printer into the living room, so I had to think how I was going to handle this. I decided to rebuild my old work PC that had been disassembled and reconstitute it as a Linux box/print server. So, I downloaded the Lucid Lynx (the most recent Ubuntu release) and went to work.

Oh my goodness!

I was first introduced to Linux back in 1995 with the Slackware distro. This was extremely rough around the edges and installation would take a very long time. I've tried several other distros since then and while I could do them, I found them rough enough that it was hard to recommend.

The most recent Ubuntu release changes that.

The installation was arguably easier and faster than Windows 7 was. Starting out, I provided a few details (password, Timezone, etc) that I would provide to Windows and clicked "Install". Thirty minutes later, I had a fully working Linux system that had recognized my immense HD monitor over a VGA connection and found my printer with no prompting from me.

This intrigued me, so I stuck the live CD into my Vaio laptop and booted. Much to my surprise, it had FOUND the RAID configuration and easily read the disk array.

I would say that (except for how to reset the sudo password) that Ubuntu's Lucid Lynx is ready for primetime. It is a powerful and simple to use OS that I could recommend to anyone, regardless of skill.

If you want to try it out (and are running either a PC or Intel Mac), grab the Lucid Lynx LiveCD and boot it up. You can try it out WITHOUT changing anything on your system. If you don't like it, extract the CD and reboot back into your OS of choice. Its safe, secure, easy, and incredibly fast (Bender boots in about 20 seconds instead of the 1-2 minutes it did in Windows XP). Unless you need iTunes because of DRM (DoubleTwist works if you don't have DRM content) or Windows for Computer Games, its an OS you should look at.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Fresh Blog Paint

With the coming of new games in which I'm interested (hopefully more grabbing than Champions was), new paint at home, and a slightly improving life balance, I decided to do some blog tweaking. Some of this is experimenting with new blogger features and some compensating for poor posting habits.

First, notice that I added a Twitter gadget. I use Twitter to update Facebook and Google Buzz, so you wont see anything new there if you follow me on Facebook or Buzz. Another interesting social networking tidbit, is that about a day after I post on this blog, a notification will show up on my Twitter/Facebook/Buzz feed.

Secondly, I updated the listing of RSS posts. I put in more links to Star Wars: The Old Republic, and removed other links to make the site more gamey (ha!).

These changes should make the blog a little more interesting to visit even if I've not posted in a while.

I've done a few other tweaks including adding a series of links about SW:tOR (no, this isn't becoming an Old Republic blog, I'm just really excited), removing ads (they were an experiment too), adding a dynamic list of the many podcasts to which I listen, and general shuffling of stuffs.

Like the look? Let me know what you think - comments are eternally welcome!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Stuff about Star Wars: The Old Republic From E3!

As many of you know, I'm really jonesing for the Star Wars: The Old Republic MMO from Bioware. I'm sure that many would say obsessed, I know I would.

Here are some nifty links of revealed information! I'm not going to write it all down, but suffice it to say, you will learn a LOT if you read...
Yes, there are only 2 links here, but there is enough content here (especially with the Darth Hater Link) to keep you involved for a few HOURS. IF YOU ONLY HAVE TIME TO SKIM, YOU WON'T GET ALL THE INFO!

Now, to figure out how I will cram this game into my schedule!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Rock Band 3 - ITS ABOUT TIME!!!!

And yes, I would buy a guitar for this - I'd probably need to buy a console.

    The Rock Band 3 Squier Stratocaster is a fully functional, full-sized, six-string electric guitar that also functions as a game controller that Fender and Harmonix have teamed up to develop.

Heh, I'd get to Rock out on CRAZY TRAIN!

*EDIT 2* A real keyboard with a MIDI attachment! OMG! I now know what I can do with my life if I won the lottery!

Monday, May 24, 2010


I downloaded E-ReaderPro for my Droid while I wait for the Kindle App. Admittedly, Penguin and Amazon are arguing about "Changes" so its not yet available. However, I have started reading Honor of the Queen (Honor Harrington: Book 2) on E-Reader on my phone. It is a nice Kindle sub and has books the Kindle doesn't yet have.

The software is available for the iPhone also, so if you are Apple or Android, check it out!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Windows Media Center

Remember way back when I talked about living without cable?

Since I lost the "Work from home" gig my hardcore PC has been gathering dust. So, I decided to move the system to the living room and got Windows Media Center running. Much to my irritation, Microsoft has created a third thing I love.

First was C# and .Net. The beautiful combo of Java and C++ with a library of code that makes my life as a Software Engineer (go me!) so very much easier.

Second was Windows 7. Its more stable than Windows XP and blows away Vista in usability. Its only downside, its not Unix (where OSX and Linux win).

Now #3: Windows Media Center.

It has DVR software that works with my Hauppauge USB signal processor. It allows seamless access to (so its easy to watch NCIS). Finally, with the plug-in for Hulu Desktop, its easy to watch shows there.

The only drawbacks are centered around lack of integration with Comedy Central (hard to watch South Park, Daily Show, and the Colbert Report). The other is lack of iTunes integration (Dr. Who).

Still, if you use Windows, give it a look!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

What's up?

Yes, I am still alive!

Three major things have happened lately which has absorbed almost all of my time!

1. At the beginning of April I started a new job. Unforetuneately, I am limited in the amount of internetting I am allowed to do. The upside is that I am two miles from work, so I am walking 4 miles on most days.

2. When I started this job, my cell phone connectivity when from bad to worse. So, I said to hell with AT&T and switch over to a Motorola Droid on Verizon. This post was written on my Droid blogging app.

3. On the 24th of April, I got remarried.

I don't have much to say that's postworthy, but I am posting regularly on FB and twitter. I still read texts and email, so feel free to contact me!

TTYL all!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Bucket List

This year's posts have primarily been about health, self-improvement and general introspection. Much of this work has been to help clarify aspects of myself to myself. Perhaps this is my version of a "mid-life crisis". Anyway, my next step is to create a "bucket list".

For those who don't know, a "bucket list" is a list of things you want to do before you "kick the bucket". What do you want to do before you die?

Sounds easy right?

Apparently, in my case it isn't. Despite the massive list of things I've not done, there are actually very few things that I feel would lead to an empty life if I'd not done.

Things on my list so far:
See Stonehenge, Louvre, the Forbidden City, Mt. Fuji, and the Vatican.

After that, it drops off. There are things I want to see, but that's about it. I feel there should be more meaning things on the list.

The upside is that I don't feel my life is wasted were I to cross the rainbow bridge tomorrow. However, I can't help but think I'm missing something.


Tuesday, March 16, 2010

On my new job!

OK, this post is VERY self-serving and most of you probably won't care. Below are links I should have ready for the new position I'm getting. I like having reference material handy, and this will make it easy for me to get to.
Yes, this post will probably be edited to add more useful links.

Monday, March 15, 2010

New job!

On April 1st, I will be starting a new, permanent full-time position.

How could that be better? I'm a PROGRAMMER again!!!!

Go me!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Another birthday...

This one is bittersweet. I just finished my last day at the company I've been working at for almost 5 years. It had it's ups and downs, to be certain.

The sad part is that it was a job where I got to telecommute, and therefore was able to focus my attention whereever I needed/wanted without micromanagement. Gaming over lunch didn't hurt either.

Now I'm 38 and it's time for new challenges. Hold good thoughts for me!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Tuesday amusments....

A friend of mine sent me the following job posting.


I responded with the following as my cover letter.

    It is a dark time for the Software Quality Avenger. Although for the past five years, he used his coding prowess, testing abilities and focus to make his former employer a success, the corporate office has shut down the Austin development team and forced him into unemployment.

    Evading the dreaded unemployment lines, this uniquely talented QA has demonstrated his knowledge of SQL; the ability to read and write almost any programming language he is exposed to; and knowledge of WatiN - a .Net implementation of WatiR.

    This excellent example of a Software Quality Engineer, obsessed with finding a company where he can demonstrated his abilities, has dispatched his attached resume into the far reaches of cyberspace...

Friday, February 5, 2010

New Job

On either the 22nd or the 1st of March I'll be starting a new job.

I'll post more details when I know them - but for now, I'm still employed "somewhere".

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Status report for end of January

As previously mentioned, I started pursuing a new exercise routine as part of rebuilding myself in 2010. Last night I decided to take a measurement of my progress.

I lost 3" off my waist.


This post marks another interesting milestone. I downloaded blogging software to my iPhone and this post has been composed and uploaded totally from my phone.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Burpee: The One Exercise to Rule Them All

The Burpee: The One Exercise to Rule Them All

Having done a number of these in my life, I can attest that these are indeed butt-kicking exercises. I'm probably going to replace the jumping-jacks in my Mon/Wed/Fri workout with Burpees. I was thinking of doing that even before I read this.

Monday, January 25, 2010


One quick aside before I begin: the job hunt has been going OK. I'm still asking for opportunity and guidance. Hopefully, the seeds sown will find fruit soon.

Now to the blog post...

The third aspect of my New Years resolution is to sharpen the grey matter between my ears. It occurred to me that if the human body could become physically better at a task by doing it (e.g. weight lifting makes you stronger, running regularly makes you run faster), then it follows that you should be able to improve your brain by exercising it. While I've always valued my faculties, I've often wished I was "smarter". So now it's time to add in the "mental" weight training to try to make myself brainier.

I'm doing this a few ways. First of all, I grabbed a number of iPhone apps that tout themselves as "brain trainers", such as, Brain Challenge, Brain Toot, and Brain Exercise. Every day, I run through the exercises they recommend followed by a few turns with ArithmeTick and Sudoku.

The next step is practicing "lateral thinking" and logic problem puzzles. These are a dime a dozen at your nearest half-price books. Currently, I'm working on The Mensa Genius Quiz-A-Day Book. When I've finished this, it's on to The Riddle of Scheherazade.

Third is to step up my learning. I downloaded a few Linux distributions this past weekend so that using VirtualBox, I could practice my Unix scripting and bring a few other programming skills up to snuff using the exercises from my old programming books and applying them to new languages.

When I get re-employed, I'll probably pick up Rosetta Stone and start learning Spanish.

So here's to sticking it out and becoming smarter and a better person in 2010.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Looking for work!

I'm being laid

Friday, January 8, 2010

Food Intake

I've been making some very basic changes to my diet in an attempt to follow my destiny to "be a Jedi". A Jedi would likely have a diet that was functional, rather than be attached to the crazy food options that a galaxy spanning civilization would have and only have "fun food" occasionally. So, this is my new Diet. Not glamorous; certainly functional.

The biggest change is to kill off my addiction to Diet Soda (again). In the past, I've tried this but it never stuck. I think part of it has had to do with the fact I'm actually dealing with two addictions instead of just one. Not only do I like caffeine, but I like the fizziness of the soda.

I'm cutting fizziness first. I've started drinking green tea with a shot of lemon juice. The caffeine is slightly lower than soda, but still there. Furthermore, I don't have the feeling that my kidney's have been "dry cleaned" as I do after I've had 2 litres of soda in a day. In theory, this should also help me reach my health goal. For the record, green tea doesn't taste that great, but the shot of citrus juice makes a big difference.

I'll see about reducing my caffeine intake at a later date.

As to solid food...

South Beach generically didn't work that well for me. Further, the Tim Ferris diet recommendation was very labor intensive first thing in the morning. Then I remembered the one diet plan I had that DID work for me in the past. I never followed it because of general ridicule of others and because the EX didn't support me. It IS South Beach friendly, easy, and I'm NEVER hungry.

Back in the 70s, Covert Bailey published a book called "The Fit or Fat Target Diet". Basically, it's cut fat and refined carbs (sound familiar?). So, I cut up a lean piece of meat and toss it into a crock pot full of beans.

Yes, Beans...

Beans: High Fiber, No Fat, High Protein, and No simple carbs. In fact, the South Beach diet lists Beans as a phase 1 (most restrictive part of the diet) food. Yes, there are "gas" issues, however, after about 2 weeks, your body adapts to the diet and doesn't banish you to living in your own little cloud.

Yes, I have a normal dinner; this is just breakfast (really) and lunches (I have several small meals through the day to keep the metabolism pumping). This also helps give me the will-power to NOT snack on food that is bad for me in times of weakness.

People have lived for thousands of years on less variety and less food. A Jedi would have the discipline to follow this simple diet. If I want to be a Jedi, I will have it too.

I will form good habits, and become their slave.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Body Weight Exercise!

One of the themes of Star Wars, is the triumph of the human spirit and it's superiority to machines. We may love R2-D2, but after he (a robot) is shot, Luke switches off his targeting computer to fire the lethal shot into the Death Star.

Abstracting this, I realized that I don't need "machines" for my goals. To be sure, they make life easier, but they aren't necessary. So, today I worked out before starting work.

This simple workout doesn't require a gym and will kick your butt!

I only got through 2 sets this morning.

Eventually, I'm shooting for this....


And one more just for fun.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Being a Better Man

It seems that the universe is pointing me towards the path I've set forth. I stumbled over these two related posts at "The Art of Manliness".


It was these types of posts that made me recently recommend this site to almost all of my male friends. While the people who run this site are a tad more conservative than I, that doesn't mean I don't find value in what is said. Again, I recommend this site to my male friends (including the confirmed bachelors. Richard the Lionhearted and Alexander the Great were both very manly men after all!)

Friday, January 1, 2010

Today is the first day of the rest of my life!


This is nominally a gaming blog, but it also collects the effluvia of my brain, so here we go!

Those of you in the know, may recall that the last major New Years resolution of mine actually worked out quite well. It was "Better Living through Technology", and involved me leveraging the technology of the world to help me step up and get through life.

Well, I've decided that 2010 is time for the next major resolution. I don't have a nice term for it beyond "Be a Jedi", so I'm going to have to stick with that. Basically, its the building and remaking of my Body, Mind, and Spirit. I've tried this previously, but it hasn't worked well.

I attribute this failure to "Do or Do not...there is no Try". So, I will "DO" and will post here. I've decided that the ennui I've felt of late is my own fault, and so it's time to move on and be the guy I can be!

So, lets start off with the following....

In the book, "The Greatest Salesman in the world", Og Mandino has a series of "scrolls" that one can follow for self-improvement. Whether or not you believe in a supreme being, I recommend his works as they are good for providing rules and structure to live by.

Here is a link to the text of "The Scroll Marked One" that someone posted.