Monday, 23 January 2012

Howto: disable Join/Part messages in XChat

XChat is used by a lot of IRC'ers out there.  Here's a simple way to reduce the line noise.

/set irc_conf_mode 1

This will disable all join and parting messages in all channels.

Monday, 12 December 2011

Humble Bundle losing its luster

I remember when I first happened upon the first Humble Bundle.  It was crazy!  Pay what you want for some very nicely polished games and natively available for linux to boot!  Ahh, those were the days...

Now it seems that others have noticed the phenomenon and it seems that there's a new bundle every other week.  Either someone is really greedy or there really are that many starving independent game publishers out there.  Well we all know there are, but the feeling I get is that it's getting to be rapid-fire economics, I'm worried that the quality of the games will drop, and the size of the bundles will suffer as well.

The Voxatron bundle started with one single game, in its alpha stages ...  what!?  That's not a bundle, and based on past history, these kinds of included games never see a complete release (remember Cortex Command and Splot?).

If this happens again, I may have to walk away, I've been pumping in a decent chunk of change for the linux folk but I'm seriously not feeling it lately.

What do you think?

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Crazy weather...

Blowing snow and sub-zero temperatures have now turned into howling winds and heavy rain.  Driving is cerainly an adventure these days.  To add to the misery .. now traffic is insane due to a retaining wall collapsing on a recently opened overpass.  Quality workmanship for sure!

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Misadventures with Compact Flourescents

The problem is that they die...  They die a lot.

Granted, everyone knows that CFL's are subject to how many full cycles they go through.  So a light in a high traffic area isn't going to last as long as one that stays on for some time.  Flicking them on and off will shorten their lives.

I haven't completey done the math, but in total I have exactly 50 CFL's in my house.  In the span of 5 years I have had to replace 22 of these lights.  That's a 44% failure rate within the span specified on the box, which is normally 7 years.  Taking that into account, the overall failure rate prior to the advertised lifespan is quite substantial.  I'm starting to hate these things, my overall perception is that it may even cost me more as the up front costs haven't come down enough to make them easily affordable.

I find that I go longer with a burnt out CFL than I ever did with incandescents mainly because I'm usuall forced into buying them in packs of 6 at about $18 - $20 a pack.  No, thanks.

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Colemak vs The World

A while ago I started feeling some pain in my wrists, mainly in my mousing arm and wondered what I could do to avoid an increasing amount of pain.  The mice I use are some of the most comfortable out there, sure there are great solutions for people with RSI, but feeling that I really wasn't there yet I decided to look at how I type.

After some research, I decided to try a radical idea.  Try a new keyboard layout.  Namely, Colemak.

Embarassingly I have to admit that I never really quite became a touch-typist.  I could type on my keyboard at a comfortable 70 wpm max, and it certainly got me by.  I made a lot of mistakes though, and that cost me dearly in time wasted and finger travel (of which I'm sure was some form of contributing factor to my pain).

So, I dove in.  The first thing I did was print the colemak layout and I built a homemade stand so that it was proudly displayed in front of my screens so that I could easily look at it to learn the layout.  This simple step should be undertaken by anyone who wants to try a more comfortable keyboard layout for one obvious  reason: passwords.

The fact that I have a keyboard with blank keys forced me to learn how to touch type.  Most that would try this at first probably wouldn't bother trying to move the keys around on their keyboards so the effect is similar, you will need to feel around with your fingers until you memorize the key locations.  By the end, you'll be able to touch type.

Overall, my experience with colemak has been quite a positive one, it simply feels natural about 2 or 3 months in.  I can still type using the QWERTY layout in times of necessity.  Now my every day layout is colemak.  I even use it on my Android phone.

Colemak, I feel that it's certainly one of the better things I've done for my ergonomic self.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

My plans for a Debian file server

While I do have systems filling multiple roles I intend to redesign most of the technological infrastructure inside of my home.  The first phase is to setup the required servers to handle the tasks I have set out for phase one.

The first machine to go online will be a machine called kirk, it will act as the central nervous system for the whole setup, it will need to offer light redundancy at the fastest possible speeds within my budget.  The primary focus of this machine will be NAS, secondary functions are important as well such as an outside facing web server, internal DNS resolution and other interesting services.

All of the hardware I don't have but need to acquire, I've decided to exclusively use the 4 week to ship vendors from Hong Kong, and China to keep the costs as low as possible.  I find the quality to be acceptable and it always seems to fit my needs.  I'm of course using eBay to fill the voids of hard to find hardware.

The first step in this endeavour will be to assemble and test the hardware.  Currently here is what's planned for kirk (yes, I plan to use Star Trek captain's names as servers):

Monday, 17 October 2011

Posting feels forced

Nah, not because I find it difficult to go on and on about my favourite topics...  Simply, Blogger's edit feature seems too simple and/or dumbed down.  I cannot for the life of me arrange images the way I want to.  The HTML editor provided is great, though simply, nothing is clear about what styles are required or ... well it seems that the HTML that the enhanced editor generates is something that Dreamweaver of the olden days of yore used to generate.

I have qualifications.  I know HTML, and I'm baffled at the time I need to invest to make things look pretty.  As long as I insist on not spending more than 20 minutes writing a post... it'll always feel like a chore.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Shopping online in Canada

Two words: Lame

Well.. the first word is of the four letter variety with a resoundind "ing" at the end.  It does feel as if the situation is getting better though.

It seems that online retailers come and go, but there are a few out there that have been around for a respectable while.  I won't name them here or make any recommendations, but I will let you in on some excellent sites that can help you into your nasty foray into Canadian online shopping.

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Scummvm, what a wonderful gaming world

I discovered scummvm quite a long time ago and have used it to allow me to relive the good old days of gaming that I enjoyed as a kid.  Specifically, I wanted to play the old Lucasarts games that I still had on 3.5" disks.  

Since first discovering the project I eventually gained great respect for it, a project with an active developer base which continued to grow and support new adventure games.  Games that I wanted to play for the first time or games that I had wanted to try all of those years ago.

Scummvm is the ultimate aventure game engine, it will play well over a hundred adventure games on Linux, Mac and Windows.

Trine, a fantastic game for Linux

I was exposed to this game via the Humble Bundle a while back and have been recently surprised by the level of craftsmanship that went into it.  I'm sure there are a thousand reviews about this game out there already since it's a game that was released in 2009, but I do hope that my mini-review will encourage you to try out this game if you haven't played it yet.

Currently I'm working my way through the game a level at a time.  I fire it up whenever I feel the need to take a short mental break.  So, without any further ado let me introduce you to Trine, here's a short gameplay video:

Trine is an extremely gorgeous game, with a nicely balanced mix of puzzle-solving as well as good old fashioned combat.  The physics used give the game a new dimension which fully rounds out the experience.

The premise is simple, your player has three souls "stuck" to each other through an ancient artifact called the Trine.  A wizard, that can move objects from a distance and conjure items such as boxes and planks from thin air.  The wizard is a non-combat character, his magic is only used for overcoming obstacles.  A thief which can shoot arrows and can swing from her grappling hook.  She is excellent for ranged attacks for all of the baddies that come for you.  Lastly, a knight which is your main combat character.  He wields a sword and shield, useful for protecting against ranged attacks.  Throughout the levels, you find that using one character's abilities makes overcoming an obstacle easier.  I've found that each challenge can usually be handled with any of the three characters.  If you're creative in your approach to each situation, great fun can ensue!  =)

Why doesn't Canada actually manufacture anything?

Exporting raw materials, to China, Japan and to the USA, it seems that all we do is pump our resources out past our borders, so we can buy them back once manufactured.

Wood, coal, uranium, gold, oil, gas, electricity, water.  That's a list that barely scratches the surface.  When is the last time you proudly declared that a certain product was Canadian?

What do you think?  Does Canada actually manufacture anything?  I for the life of me can't think of a single product that comes from Canada except for the Blackberry, though I'm sure the actual build of those phones is done in China somewhere.  Is it the cost of labour?  Are we simply consumerist and complacent?  Do we not have good ideas in business?  For the most financially stable country during these recessions we certainly do a lot of importing and I don't like it, it's not about jobs.  To me its about pride.

Friday, 14 October 2011

I guess it's time for me to grow up...

Well, after all these years, I've resisted sharing most of my life on the Internet.  I guess it's time to fire up the good 'ol typing skills and get rolling here.  So many ideas, so little time.  I hope to document my interests, my experiments and maybe some posts that will help others with things like Linux, Debian and all of the small intricacies in-between.

While I'll strive to be technology-centric, I do believe a lot of my political views and other fodder will bubble up. For those who hate such ramblings, I apologize.  Bear with me as I get my sea-legs.

So I guess you could call this post my "Self welcome to the shiny Blog-o-sphere".