Monthly Archives: March 2009

which rss reader do you use?

So, I’m going to try and take a poll here, what program do you use to read RSS / Atom / news feeds? I would have an *actual* poll, but I honestly don’t even know what’s out there, much less what the popular ones are. Please leave a comment if you can.

The reason I ask is because I’m trying to debug some issues with planet — both Gentoo’s and Larry’s.

Oh, and apologies to everyone for breaking Planet Gentoo today. I spent a lot of time cleaning up a *lot* of cruft that should have been fixed for some time now. Chances are, too, that things will only get a bit more misarranged over the next few days as I tweak and test things some more, so bear with me.

Update: jsled had a good comment — why not just look at the access logs? Well, duh, why didn’t I think of that. -_- I don’t have access to Planet Gentoo’s, but Larry breaks it down well enough. It looks like, as far as programs go that are leaving a user agent, akregator is first with 19%, liferea is next with 6%, then Gregarious, RSSOwl and NetNewsWire with all less than 1% each.  The rest are browsers or Unknown.

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Filed under Gentoo, Planet Larry

initial wii review

So, I bought a Wii this weekend, mostly because after playing with it a lot at Jason’s house, I was immediately hooked. So far I’m really loving the whole experience, but it’s not completely perfect. I’ve only been playing with one for probably a week, total, so my perspective will probably change over time.

I’ve only got one game right now — Wii Sports — but that’s enough to keep me going. I love playing Baseball and Bowling and I even get a little Tennis in now and then. I have zero interest in Golf whatsoever.

The way everything works with the sensors is pretty impressive. Everything seems pretty realistic, especially the pain I get when I swing too hard. Being the geek that I am, I’ve quickly discovered where you can game the system and found a few flaws in the motion control feedback. For instance, in Bowling, if you just fling the Wii remote up in the air as you let the ball go, it will go flying up and actually gain speed when it lands. When you’re really bowling, that would slow the ball down quite a bit. In baseball, it’s a lot easier if you just use one hand and gracefully flick it forward to bat, but I find it much more fun and engaging if you get in the stance and do it right.

Boxing is the only thing I have a problem with as far as responsiveness. The nunchuck controller seems way whacked, as when boxing with my left hand I have to jab kind of up and to the left to get it to even go remotely straight. I’m not sure what’s up with that. I suspect that it might be getting the positioning for the left hand as it is relative to the Wii remote, but I’m not sure. It’s the only game I’ve played that uses it, so it could be something else. When I’m actually boxing though, it seems to be okay — its just when doing training that I can’t punch with it to save my life.

The games are a lot of fun, though. I still can’t wrap my brain around the idea of playing video games standing up and getting so out of breath. I’m a little sore in my arms and stomach, but mostly I feel great for getting some exercise. I’m already getting a lot better. And I love how the game adapts to your skill level. As I improve with Baseball, the pitches get harder and harder.

The only thing I don’t like about the Wii is the UI.  It seems totally confusing at times, and it is definately inconsistent about navigation.  It feels like a different team came up with their own UI rules for each little section, and just cobbled things together.  The navigation for the Messages is different than the Settings is different from the Mii Channel.  Sometimes you can use the buttons to move around, sometimes you can’t, sometimes you get a confirmation when exiting back to the main menu, etc.  It took me a while to figure out just how to add a friend, and it didn’t seem intuitive at all.  I still get confused trying to remember where what is.  It’s not all that bad, but it could use some polish.

Really, though, it seems like Nintendo has totally invented a new category of social gaming, though. Playing on the Wii is fun, but it is absolutely hilarious and engaging playing with someone else right there in the room. It’s just a lot of fun.

I’ve gotta find some more games. I didn’t get Wii Play yet, I’m not sure if I wanna get it or not. I figure I can pick up a used copy for real cheap if I want. I took a look at Wii Fit and it looks really cool, and like it has a lot of stuff that would really help. I’m not a big fan of paying more for all these accessories and peripherals, so I’ll have to think about that one. One thing I like is that the Wii is backwards compatible with the GameCube. I only have two games left, but at least I can still get some if I find something fun.

Anyway, if you wanna send me your Mii and add me as a contact, my console # is 5500 7000 5524 4618. I gotta find some good multiplayer games for online, too. My little sister has one. Gotta stomp her somehow.

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Filed under Entertainment, Hardware

end of a very long, very fun week

What a week this has been.  Jason’s wife was out of town, so we hung out the entire time doing all kinds of crazy stuff.  It’s Saturday night and I’m absolutely exhausted by all the stuff we managed to cram in, from Wii to about 5 movies in the theater to driving incredibly safe and at reasonable speeds on the highway.

I’m pooped.  And I also bought a Wii today, because I’m totally hooked on Bowling and Baseball.  I think I’m going to crash now.  Tomorrow will be interesting.

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wordpress, meh.

I realize that people blogging about their blogging software is about as exciting as hearing about someone changing their socks, but I’m gonna blather a bit.

I upgraded my WordPress just yesterday, and I was partly thinking of ditching it completely for something else. Not that I don’t like WordPress, mind you, it’s just that the history of security issues has always made me a bit nervous.

That aside, I do wish there were an ability to disable one thing across the board — the way WordPress “beautifies” your posts with smart quotes, HTML dashes and the like. It’s always been a minor annoyance to me, especially when I mix code arguments with regular text … fex: pass –foo to program bar.

Anyway, while googling for a plugin that would disable this for me, I saw this excellent post on the wp-hackers mailing list asking, quite simply, for an option to turn off the wptexturize feature. I’d love to quote the whole thing verbatim since it’s so well written, but I’d just invite you to go read it.

Now, not ranting just about WordPress, this is my take on software development in general — if you are going to add a feature to a program that alters things how they were originally input or intended, for the love of cupcakes, please add an *option* to disable that feature. That’s all I’m asking for. A simple binary check. If $this then function(). It’s really not that hard.

And I’ll just leave it at that.

Edit: Found a really simple plugin that works. I’m happy and ignorant again.

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gpnl.org

I don’t know why I didn’t do this like … years ago.  I hate typing in long domains, so this fixes one issue.  Now if I could only think of a domain name for the packages website.  I haven’t even thought of a title, yet.  Sheesh.

Oh, and the rewrite still isn’t done.  I’m working on the functions that I’ve been putting off the longest — comparing versions.

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happy birthday, beanie

It’s not my birthday just yet (not until Friday), but that didn’t stop me from doing some early shopping for presents. :D This weekend, I went out and bought a new receiver for my setup at home. I got a new 7.2 Yamaha receiver, and this thing is wicked slick.

I’ve been wanting to upgrade my whole audio setup for a while now, and this is the first step. I’m going to do it pretty much piecemeal, adding or upgrading one item at a time, and the receiver was the first one to go.

This thing has some really cool features. For one, it supports all the extra HD codecs that Blu-Ray supports, two of which enable up to 7.1 surround sound, and two which are lossless. Right now, I only have one Blu-Ray disc that supports 7.1 channels (Sleeping Beauty), but since I don’t have the extra speakers, I won’t know for a while how nice it sounds. But, one major point of doing an upgrade is to future-proof the system, so that’s what I did.

I also bought some nice stereo speakers to compliment the receiver, since I figured most of the sound goes through there. My good friend Jason, who is far more the audiophile than I’ll ever be, tried explaining to me that most of the audio comes through the center speaker, and I’d be better off investing in that. I didn’t really understand how it could work that way, so I bought some side speakers anyway. It should be worth mentioning at this point, that my audio experience can be summed up pretty simply — I just like the aural experience of feeling like I’m surrounded, and as far as my class as an audio expert goes, I couldn’t tell the difference between a phone and a tin can on a string.

I was sure, though, that since I wanted it to sound like stuff was coming from all sides, that I needed good speakers for the sides. So I got some good ones. As I was wiring the new receiver, though, I noticed that it had been opened and returned by someone else. The previous owner’s hair being all over the place was a good indicator. I think they owned a cat who apparently thought a receiver would make a great tanning bed. I wanted to make sure it would work properly before I set everything up, so I wired my old speakers, and being the lazy bum that I am, only did the side ones, leaving out the center speaker. I popped in a Blu-Ray (Clone Wars) and everything sounded fine. I puttered around for a bit looking at the manual and left the movie playing. After a few minutes I realized that I wasn’t hearing any dialogue. That seemed normal enough, since I knew that it comes through the center speaker, but what I didn’t realize was that wasn’t *all* that comes through there. There was a cool space battle (which is one reason I recommend watching Clone Wars — some of the coolest Star Wars battles are in there), and all I could hear from the side speakers were these little pings. None of the good stuff was coming through at all. Well, there’s nothing like real world experience to school you, so with that, I packed up the very expensive speakers and took them back. I still haven’t found a good center speaker I like, but I’m glad I didn’t blow a load of cash on an otherwise mostly secondary effect.

I also took my receiver back, in exchange for one uncoated with fur, and setup my old speakers and away I went. The setup came with a little microphone that you can plug in and run an automatic setup to determine the distance of the speakers and how they need to be adjusted. That is really nice. One of my speakers had to have the volume level slightly higher than the other one, so it worked out well to get it all balanced. Despite the 7.2 capability (supports two subwoofers as well), I’ve only setup a 3.1 system so far — two bookshelf speakers, one center, one subwoofer. I’m not sure how I want to wire my living room just yet for surround sound, and for some odd reason the idea of running speaker wire across my ceiling or floor seems a little unsightly to me. I guess I’ll never be a true A/V geek.

All in all, though, it sounds really nice. For some odd reason, my old receiver had a perceived A/V sync issue on Blu-Ray discs played from my PS3. It’s gone with this one, I’m glad to report, though I’m still not sure if I was just imagining it or not. Another great feature I found out about is that the receiver will upscale and export any input video through the outgoing HDMI port. That means I can plug in pretty much anything from Composite to Component and have it all go out through one display port. Not a bad feature, but my TV already comes with something like 7 input sources anyway, so I probably won’t ever need it. It also has a Monitor Out feature, where it will give you an OSD for the setup. That is a really nice touch.

Just as cool as a new receiver, I got a new book in the mail from my parents — Batman Animated.

I’m not much of one for coffee table books, but with Batman, anything goes. :)

I probably wasn’t supposed to open it already, but if I get unwrapped presents in the mail, you can bet your bippy I’m opening it up.

It’s a great book. I absolutely love the new animation style that started with Batman: The Animated Series that Warner has been using since. I’m a real freak for certain styles of art. The whole book is all sketches, drawings, commentary and the like. Awesome stuff.

I wonder what else I’m gonna get …. er, that is, from myself for me. :) I asked my little sister the other day, “Why is everything I want to get so expensive?” She said, “Because you’ve already bought everything affordable.” How true it is. :) Happy burfday to me :D

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Filed under Entertainment, General, Hardware

gpnl redesign, part three

Still poking at GPNL a bit, and I’m getting there.  I’m almost to the point where I can rip out the old code and use it as a drop-in replacement for the packages site as well.  Just one more thing to do — import package masks.  That’s a bit tricky, because I have to write one more native function to do what a third party tool is doing — compare ebuild revisions.  That’s actually not so hard, now that I found a way to get them to order properly.

I also moved the site to a new server.  I signed up for a Linode, so we’ll see how that handles.  Personally, I’m not completely convinced that they are up to the task of running a Gentoo install.  It’s been my experience that there’s always a certain latency, as in they always run with the most minimum amount of resources possible until something wakes it up.  There’s a good lag while it’s waking up, though.  For instance, I’ll ssh in and it’ll take about 8 seconds to even respond.  Then I’ll edit a file in vim and it takes a few less seconds to save, and after about a minute or so of use, everything is alert and awake.  Kind of annoying, but I guess I can live with it.

One thing I’ll do anyway to reduce load on the server is cache the packages website.  Since it’s refreshed every hour, there’s no need to regenerate all the pages anyway.  Every time I mess with it on the old codebase it screws something up, though, and I’m so close to replacing it that I’m not going to bother with it for now.

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