Jul 262011
 


It seems kind of odd that I post a review of a Humble Bundle game, then just a few days later, a new one comes out. I’ll keep it short and sweet this time. The Humble Indie Bundle #3 is out with 5 games, name your price. You get a key instantly redeemable on Steam or you can download them directly. I already have Crayon Physics Deluxe from a while back and highly recommend it if you like physics based games. The levels get pretty damn hard, and to be honest I’ve never finished all of them. The other 4 games look pretty cool, so check them out! Proceeds go to any combination you want of the developers, Child’s Play Charity, Electronic Frontier Foundation, or the Bundlers.

One thing I like about the Bundle sales is that all of the games are DRM free and work on PC, Mac, and Linux. Another thing I’d like to add is that if you plan on just donating a penny, Santa is watching!

–Update–

They just added 2 new games and also you get Humble Bundle #2 if you donate above the current average price!

Jul 242011
 

Revenge of the Titans is the best tower defense game I’ve played so far. RotT has skill trees that span about 5 different “worlds”. The game plays differently depending on what skill tree you pick. There is a Campaign, Endless, and Survival mode. One thing I did not pay attention to is that Survival mode uses your research tree from the last level in that world. This can definitely impact your Survival Mode times if you were holding off for something critical like barriers until just after the next world. Anyway, I managed to get the top time on survival and held it for a few weeks. Right now the record is around 3 hours (scratch that, 6 now!), which is super hard to do. No, you don’t have to play a level for 6 hours, you can hold down Tab to fast forward the level. So far I’ve done at least 3 playthroughs. Once just after the Humble Bundle, another a few months later just before tank droids were added, then again just after. Continue reading »

Jul 232011
 

I finally upgraded my WordPress install today, and like a responsible web admin, I backed up my database and also my file tree. After my upgrade I noticed that my comments were all gone! I grumbled a bit and figured I’d extract the files from my backup. I opened my file up and noticed there were no comments. Doh! Where are they? I checked my backup from June, no comments. The latest backup I had with comments included was from February. The phpMyAdmin console showed the table “in use”. Not sure exactly what to do, I opened up a quick Live Chat with my hosting provider, HostGator, and noticed that I was #1 in queue with what, 147 agents available? My problem was fixed in less than 5 minutes. The fix also recovered a few comments that were posted after my last good backup.

I apologize to those of you that tried posting comments the past few months, because they were all eaten up due to the table being locked. I’m not sure what happened, but the support guy told me how to fix it myself if it ever happens again. Essentially, there’s a GUI in the cPanel to check and repair individual databases. I work with MySQL quite a bit at work, but I wouldn’t consider myself a DBA. Now I need to find a better WordPress backup plugin, because I think it should have thrown out some type of error if the table wasn’t readable.

Anyway, I’d like to take this opportunity to recommend HostGator. If you need hosting, please check them out. Any signups done through my link will help pay for my web hosting. Also, you can use code SCIFI25OFF for 25% off your first order. They offer 1 click WordPress installations if you are looking for something like that.

Here are my steps prior to all WordPress upgrades:

  1. Backup Database via Plugin, also can be done through phpMyAdmin
  2. Open cPanel and through File Manager, copy my WordPress directory “/installdir” to another directory like “install2011backup”. I think you can only do this quickly if your blog is not installed directly into the root /  – note, this takes just SECONDS, rather than downloading thousands of individual files
  3. Run upgrade, hope for the best

Here is how I restore

  1. Restore Database via phpMyAdmin
  2. rename install directory to /install-bad
  3. rename backup directory from /install2011backup to /install

Do you have a blog? What is your disaster recovery plan?

Jun 232011
 

Falling Skies takes place in a near future alternate reality where aliens invaded Earth and just about destroyed everything. The series opens with a kid describing the first contact and subsequent invasion. All of the major cities and most of the military was destroyed all in one swoop. The series follows a group of resistance fighters that are struggling to survive. Some people want to strike back, but the military commander is convinced that splitting up and going to ground is the best move right now. The main character, Tom Mason played by Noah Wyle, happens to be second in command of a small splinter group. He has three sons, one very little, another in his late teens, and the last one has been captured by the aliens. The general feel seems to be something similar to Terminator and the new Battlestar Galactica.

Tom Mason was a US history professor, so quite often he quotes how some historical battles were won by underdogs. His repetition of this got on my nerves a bit. Another thing that bothered me was that his youngest son wanted to wish for everything to go back to the way it was for his birthday. His son asked if that was OK to wish for and Tom said yes. That really bothered me, because the sooner his kid understands nothing will be as it was, the better. Overall I would have to say the premier was mediocre at best. Some of the acting seemed a bit weak, but nothing terrible. I’ll have to watch the next few episodes so I can form a better opinion.

Apr 272011
 

Book Cover

A friend of mine recommended that I watch Monsters. It was available on Netflix streaming, so I added it to my queue.  The premise is that a survey mission to investigate extraterrestrial life burned up on reentry to Earth over Latin America. The “Monsters” appear later on, for what seems to be a seasonal basis. They terrorize the locals, and the main character is visiting to try and capture some photographs of the destruction. There is an invasion coming and Andrew, the photographer, is anxious to get some pictures so he can cash in. His plans get interrupted by a demand from the publisher to escort his daughter out of the country. She’s engaged to be married, but the fiancé has already made hit home. Why? Probably some type of fight. The movie came across as being a suspense, romance, and science fiction flick all at the same time. I usually like it when I see genres mixed, but Monsters was spread too thin. Nothing made me think, “this is a good movie.” The action scenes were rather intense, but I didn’t really get scared or startled. The awkward romance that blossomed between the photographer and the girl was predictable. The mystery behind the nature of the Monster invasions was interesting, but not enough to carry the rest of the movie. It wasn’t a bad movie, but not one that I’d recommend someone spend money on to see.

Mar 222011
 

Quarreling parents, an annoying kid, and a lovable robot make this short film a fun trip into the near future. Who hasn’t wanted a robot playmate of their own? Blinky is no Robbie, but at least he tries. Check the 12 minute movie out for a treat. Be sure to go full screen and turn on HD if your connection can handle it.

—Edit— The original video was taken down for quite some time, but is back!

Blinky™ from Ruairi Robinson on Vimeo.

It looks like the original video was password protected. I found this version with Spanish subtitles.

via Geekologie

Mar 122011
 

I ran across this ad recently for an amazing new product, promoted by my own favorite science fiction author, Isaac Asimov.

Radio Shack’s TRS-80 Pocket Computer turned my dreams into a reality. Now I can take the power of a true computer with me wherever I go.
— Isaac Asimov

The marketing guys chime in a few paragraphs later.

And it can also function just like a calculator — something a desktop computer can’t do.
— Radio Shack

Wait, what!? With a standard calculator included in just about every phone that I can think of, it is hard to imagine a desktop computer ever existing without that ability. Crazy, right? Now that I think of it, it wasn’t too far in the distant past that desktop computers couldn’t be used for voice communications, something a simple phone could do. So what does $169.95 actually get you?

From Dave Dunfield’s old computer page:

The machine was actually a Radio Shack branded version of the Sharp PC-1211, which features:

  • Sharp SC43177/SC43178 4-bit CPU running at 256khz
  • 1×24 character LCD display
  • 57 key “Qwerty” keyboard
  • 1.5k of RAM for user program storage
  • Pizoelectric buzzer

Be sure to check out the full breakdown at Dave’s TRS-80 Pocket Computer page

As a point of comparison, here are a few highlights of Motorola’s Droid 2 tech specs:

  • 1 GHz processor
  • 480×854 Pixel display (Characters displayed depends on the font)
  • QWERTY keyboard
  • 8GB flash (expandable to 32GB)
  • Support for stereo bluetooth (not sure if actual speaker is stereo or not)
  • 100’s of other features like camera, video capture, streaming video, and get this includes the ability to make phone calls. Sadly though, it can’t make you breakfast… yet.

Let me whip out my calculator on my i7 Desktop Computer! The Droid 2 has a 3,906.25 times faster processor (just based on clock rate, not actual computational power) and has 5,592,405.33 times more storage. That seems crazy right? The TRS-80 pocket computer came out in 1980, about 20 years ago. I wonder how people will feel about our state of the art smartphones in 2020? That is assuming we haven’t been taken over by robots gone wild, destroyed ourselves with nukes, or succumbed to a raging nano-plague. But that is all just science fiction.

Isaac Asimov promotes Radio Shack's TRS-80 Pocket Computer

Isaac Asimov promotes Radio Shack's TRS-80 Pocket Computer

Mar 062011
 

I’ve said here many times that Isaac Asimov is my favorite author. It wasn’t until a few years ago that I read “The Last Question,” Asimov’s favorite short story written by himself. Last night I stumbled across a story called “The Last Answer.” At first I thought, “hey, I’ve read this before,” then did a double-take. It was “Answer,” not “Question.” This story focused on the afterlife instead of entropy. They are both good stories, however I agree with Asimov in his opinion that “The Last Question” is better. I highly suggest reading them both, but I’m not sure what order to recommend. I’ll list the links in order of publication, so you decide. Read both stories before looking at the comments on either one, because they are filled with spoilers.

“The Last Question” – Isaac Asimov (1956)

“The Last Answer” – Isaac Asimov (1980)