Monthly Archives: May 2010

Gargoyle One, 2nd flight

My second run went very well. The ad hoc network ran as expected and I was able to control the webcam with no issues at all. Here are a couple of pics PezWitch took.

and finally, the resulting video.

Gargoyle One, adendium 1

Last night I came up a with a pretty good idea for controlling the Dell Mini 9, while it is stowed in a backpack. VNC is a program that I have used a lot to remotely control other system on my internal network and as the iPhone commercials say, there us an app for that. so I installed VNC server on the Mini and the client on my iPhone. I then wrote a couple scripts to activate and deactivate the webcam. Needless to say this worked great.

The problem I immediately occurred to me, it this works until I walk out of range of my wifi router. I then spent the next 1 hour or so configuring the Mini to host an ad hoc wireless network and connecting my iPhone to it. I wanted to secure the network, but for some reason the iPhone would ask for a username when I tried to connect, something that is not suppose to happen, so until I figure it out, Gargoyle One will have to be an open network. This afternoon, I plan to make my second run to see how things actually work in the field.

The flight of Gargoyle One

So today, while PezWitch was at work, I put together a gargoyle rig. In Snow Crash, Neal Stephenson’s third novel, a gargoyle is someone constantly wired into the Metaverse or the matrix or the Internet, whatever you want to call it. Anyway, they are decked out with all sorts of tech for constantly recording video and audio and storing online for later use. My rig is fairly simple, I Velcro a Dell Mini 9 and an external hard drive to a wooden board, put it in a mesh backpack, hooked up a webcam and that was it.

Once I had the whole thing rigged up, I went out for a little walk around the secret lair. Imagine if you will, me walking around in public with that webcam hooked to my shoulder and wires going under my arm and into the mesh backpack.


That was fun. Now I have a couple of things I want to add, first is sound, which should be easy enough. Second I’d like to be able to control the webcam without having to take off the backpack and it would be nice to be able to see the real time video or even better my desktop.

My 50th Post

Last night was the first game of our new HackMaster campaign.The basis of the quest is they are seeking Trelissa, David’s Drow Thief character whose soul was imprisoned by an unfortunate draw from a Deck of Many Things, then her body joined her soul by way of a badly worded wish. To make this more complicated, during the same incident, Hahmez, Thor’s Cleric, acquired an extra dimensional enemy. So I decided to meld the two problems together, Hahmez’s extra dimensional enemy is who is holding Trelissa captive, in order to lure Hahmez into his trap.

Last night, the party was assembled, they had the opportunity to reequip themselves and get hot baths and sleep in a real bed. Then they went to find Trifallen, Trilessa’s brother, who had been keeping company with Lilly, who is an undead head on a jar, currently in residence on the bar counter at the Black Shark Inn. Lilly tells the party the extra dimensional enemy is Ymir, the king of the frost giants and Loki’s father, so they must travel to the land of the frost giants to rescue Trilessa. Lilly, advises them they will need a third party to walk the path they must walk and this person must be summoned from Asgard. In order to do the summoning, they need the heads of three hags, the SeaHag, the Medussa and the Witch, each is located respectively at Free Port, Molenshire and Ymis. With little fanfare, the party sets off for Free Port.

Sex and Teenagers

Okay, I can’t believe I have to be the one who does this. According to some off line discussions I have had, apparently parents find it difficult to discuss sex with their children and for whatever reason, also do not want the school system teaching sex education. If you have read this blog in the last couple of days, you know, I believe this is the reason we have teenagers who pretend they are vampires and werewolves. So for those of you who do not want their kids discovering their sexuality from some moron in wearing badly applied mascara, here is a book you can use to get the discussion going with your darling little angel.

Sex: A Book for Teens: An Uncensored Guide to Your Body, Sex, and Safety

The book comes recommended from one of my favorite bloggers Violet Blue (NSFW).

Genetically Engineered Bugs Can Smell Blue Light

On Discover Magazines website, they have an article on genetically engineered fruit flies that can smell light . This brings me back to a quote I posted here a couple of weeks ago by Brother Cavil, from Battlestar Galactica. I agree with him and I have to ask, why am I so limited.

Hey Snowflake, you are not so special !

I had a revelation today as I was reading this article about teens pretending to be werewolves. First we had teens who were Goth, they dressed all in black and were depressed all the time. Then came the Emos, who were some how different from Goths. After that came the teens who thought they were vampires, who were somehow different from the Goths and the Emos. Now we have teens who think they are werewolves, who are somehow different from the Goths, Emos and teens who think they were vampires. I am over the age of 17, so I have no idea what the differences are, so I am not going to go into that. However, I have figured out why this is happening. See, we stopped teaching sex education in high school and now we have a whole generation of kids who are more screwed up than we were. If you don’t believe me, go down to Lubbock Texas, talk to some teenagers and see what I mean. The sex education curriculum can be summed up one sentence, “Sex is dirty, disgusting and evil, so it should only be done with someone you love after marriage.”.

So anyway, what we have is teenagers who do not understand what is happening to them. Because they are being taught sex is dirty and evil, they assume, because they are having these feelings, they must be dirty and evil. They seem to be light sensitive and sleep late every chance they get, only to come alive during the night. Instead of realizing, hey, I am in puberty, my body is changing, so I need more sleep, they think, “I must be a Vampire”. They get new hair on their body and instead of thinking “WooHoo, I am growing up”, they think “I must be a werewolf”. They get these new feelings in their tummies and instead of thinking “Hey she has nice tits”, they think “I must be lusting after her blood”.

So to all of you parents out there, if you want your kids to become normal teenagers, please explain to them truthfully, well before puberty, what to expect. To all you teenagers or soon to be teenagers, you are not a vampire, you are not a werewolf, you are also not alone. What is happening to you is normal and contrary to what your friends are saying, you are not a supernatural being of immense power. You are a normal teenager and you need to get over yourself.

Google Chrome

Being a full time Linux user for the last decade, I have seen her default browser move from Netscape/Mozilla to Firefox. The problem was, back in the day, Mozilla was not broken, in fact it was very stable, functional browser, Firefox was bright shiny, new and above all else fast. However, Firefox was buggy and unstable, it really did not get usable until version 2.x. Now, Firefox is stable and nicely usable, though it is not a spry as it once was. Now there is a growing movement to replace Firefox with Chrome, which is bright, shiny, new and displays pages a few milliseconds faster than Firefox, but is buggy and only barely stable enough to use.

In a few years, Chrome will hit 3.x and guess what, it will be slow fat and bloated, probably worse than Firefox is right now. It will get this way, because in order to compete with Internet Exporer, Firefox and Opera, they will have to keep adding features. With each new feature, the code base will increase and Chrome will loose a millisecond off the benchmark. In the mean time, someone else, in response to Chromes bloat, will start a new browser project and the cycle will begin again. I of course have other concerns with Chrome, Google is a large corporation whose sole function in existance is to make money and they make most of their money from selling advertisements. This brings into question thier motivation for building a browser in the first place.

I personally will be sticking with Firefox, even if my Linux distro of choice moved to Chrome. The fact is, Firefox is a true open source project, Chrome is not.  If the Mozilla foundation goes evil, the Firefox code base can be forked, in fact it already has been forked into IceWeasle and SwiftFox.With Chrome, there will awalys be the very real threat that Google will take its ball and go home, making Chrome a closed proprietary program in much the same way Internet Explorer is. Besides, once Chrome becomes bloated, the browser that comes after will be way cooler anyway.

Update: Okay, I was informed that Google Chrome is in fact upto version 5 and my prediction of a slow and bloated 3.x version did not come true. My rebuttle is simple, Google needs to hire a math teacher for thier programers, because they misplaced the decimal place, the new version of Chrome is actually x.5, not 5.x.

Behind the Screen

Bruce wrapped up his run as GM for our HackMaster group last night, which means, after a short and much needed break, I am the GM again. I enjoyed playing, Zymmer is a beautifully subtle character and I reached my goal of getting him to 9th level, making him officially, my most successful character ever. However, as pathetic as it is, GMing is what I was born to do, no I was not born to be a Computer Tech, sometimes I despise computers with a fury hell like hatred. Nope, chucking dice behind the screen, weaving stories and gently pushing characters to their destinies is the thing I was meant to do.

So anyway, a couple of month ago I was having one of those conversations with myself in my head (don’t judge me) and I realized Bruce and Thor had been playing the game for 30 years and neither of them had a character above probably 10th level and in fact, I did not have a character over 10th level either. I think after 30 years of play, one deserves a ridiculously high level character with a ridiculously powerful magic item. So I laid down the ground work for a  group of characters 6th-8th level at the start, they all have  one character in that range, Bruce and Thor have at least two or three. The campaign would last for grueling 2 years, probably the longest campaign any of us has ever run and the plan is to add four levels in the first year and four levels in the second year. After Bruce wrapped up the game last night and a short discussion, the players decided on their starting line up.

As you can see, as always, the party tends to be Fighter heavy, but lets face it, contrary to popular belief, fighters are the funnest class to play, everyone likes to bash orc skull now and again. In spite of that, this is a good mix of characters and a decently balanced group. There is a good chance I think at least one of them will make 16th level and once we break the 10th level ceiling, the campaign should take on a different vibe as the characters move from gritty low fantasy Conan style play, into a more cinematic Elric style of high fantasy. It should be fun.

The Star Wars we knew

Today, May 21st, is the 30th anniversary of the theatrical release of The Empire Strikes Back. Many people, PezWitch included, do not particularly like this second installment of the series. Personally, I think it stands on its own very well for many reasons. A New Hope was a classic action adventure movie, although set in space, could have just as a easily been a WWII movie or a western. As a family, A New Hope, was the extroverted athletic oldest brother, The Empire Strikes Back was the introverted, overly serious and geeky middle child, while Return of the Jedi was the goofy little brother.

In episode one the good guys won, things did not go so well in episode two. Han Solo is betrayed by his friend Lando Calrissian, Lando is in turn betrayed by Darth Vader. Princess Leia finds love with Han, only to have him captured and turned over to Boba Fett. Luke Skywalker, finds out the girl he has been lusting after is his sister, looses his hand, finds out the most evil man in the galaxy is in fact his father AND everyone, including his mentor Obi Wan Kenobi lied to him about it. The Empire Strikes Back was in fact, a fairly respectable Greek tragedy.

The Empire Strikes Back had the best character development of the three movies, each of the three primary characters start more or less in the same place they were at the end of A New Hope. However, by the end of the movie all three had be punched to the floor and kicked in groin for good measure, they each had bottomed out and reached new lows in their lives. Each would, by the end of the third film, find new strength none of them knew they had and this inner strength and resolve came directly from having survived the events of the second movie. The Empire Strikes Back was pivotal and probably the most important of the three movies, it was where Luke, Leia and Han all grow up and become what they were meant to be.