Saturday, March 29, 2008

Sidtek Blog and an Idea for Google

At work we revamped our web site, and it is long past due in my opinion. I was able to talk the boss into starting an official Sidtek Blog. It still needs some work, but at least it is functional now. It gives me a place to blog about work related things. I was surprised at the number of ideas I've already come up with for it.

So far I've put a little information about net neutrality, our demo machine, a strange computer repair problem I ran into today, and I even have a draft about energy conservation I'll be posting Monday.

Today I sent Google another email with awesome ideas for them. This time it's called Googlealogy. A family tree maker hosted by Google so that people who use their computer to keep track of Genealogy won't loose it if their computer fails on them. Old people would eat it up, and Google could use the opportunity to link them all together and create a giant world wide family tree so we all feel small in the universe.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Powder Coated Optical Drive

Finally got it back together this morning. I'll probably paint the white circle on top red, but I am undecided on whether or not to paint the front red. I'll mull it over...and paint it later.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Quest of the Avatar

Having been an Ultima fan for ages, I thought it was time I actually sat down and played through Ultima IV. How can I be a fan without ever having completed the Quest of the Avatar? Last night I was in Yew asking druids about the shrine of Justice when I ran into a kid named Short Round. Obviously a parody of Indiana Jones, but he did tell me to let Mr. Garriott know I was emjoying his game.

This morning I was looking for contact information, but of course I couldn't find anything directly to Mr. Garriott. So I shot an email to NCsoft's PR department in hopes it would get to him.

Below is my letter, and I'll post any reply I get.


Please let Mr. Garriott know, as recommended by Short Round, I am enjoying playing through Ultima IV for the first time. I have been a big fan of the Ultima series for a very long time, but somehow I never played through Ultima IV until now. Also, tell him good luck on his space journy.


PS: the ncsoft site does not seem to work very well in firefox :(

Monday, March 24, 2008

Powder Coated Parts

Here are some pictures of some of the parts I got powder coated for the Demo Machine at the shop. The only part not here is the optical drive. I'll have pictures of that as soon as I get it back together.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

One Laptop Per Child

The One Laptop Per Child program is kinda neat. Basically the goal is to make a laptop cheap enough to get into the hands of poor children so they can learn about computer, and learn with computers.

I have the pleasure of having one of these come into my shop. At first I was a little baffled, but the customer told me they had some kind of deal that basically charged her double for her laptop, and they gave one away in some other country.

After getting my hands on it I had some mixed opinions about it. First of all, it's very toy like. Beneath it's toy exterior is a Linux based operating system. Granted the interface for it was also toyish, but there was an easily accessible terminal. It was pretty easy to get online, once I started thinking the right way. At first the controls seamed complicated to my Windows oriented mind. After I figured out that moving the cursor to any corner of the screen brought up the menu options I was on the right track. My only networking complaint is that it can only connect to a wireless network; no ethernet port. Interestingly, the home page for the web browser has a nice easy interface for kids that will take them directly to educational things like a dictionary and encyclopedia. The encyclopedia link goes to Wikipedia; take that English 1302...not a real source my butt.

It also has some interesting kid-oriented programs. Tamtamjam, is a noise making program that I'm sure some talented kid could make sound like music, but I am tone def. It has games, a word processor, and a remarkably clear web cam; over all it is surprisingly functional.

The only thing I didn't get to try is networking it to a desktop. I was curious to see if I could transfer files to and from it, but I didn't really have time to play around on it too much. My only other minor complaint is the keyboard. It's basically a tiny version of those rubber "indestructible" roll up keyboards. Functional, but very hard to type with any speed on (this is coming from a guy who types slow as it is).

Over all, it is a rather complete computer. Perfect for perusing the web and having children learn new things. Exactly what it was designed for. It could be considered a great engineering success.

Anyone interesting in getting their own (probably for your kids) could start at the OLPC site. It is a little difficult to find where to purchase one, but expect to pay more than the $100 or so they cost to make (they're trying to help people duh). I couldn't find much information about the "Give one get one" program. The customer told me it took a long time for her to get it. I can only assume they may have stopped it because too many people were doing it.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

My Opinion on the Second Amendment

I made a profound realization the other day. My opinion counts, at least to me, and I have an opinion about the second amendment.

I don't really know if I'm pro-gun or anti-gun. I can see both side of this argument. On the one hand a gun is an easy way to protect ones home. On the other hand a gun is an easy, life threatening tool of abuse. Personally, I do not own a gun nor do I intend to. I can clearly state, especially after having served in the military, I am not anti-gun simply because I don't have one.

One thing I am for sure on, I'm pro-constitution. Here is the text that matters.
A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.
From what I have been hearing in the news, the dilemma comes from interpreting what this text means. Recently, the supreme court decided to pretty much ignore the first four words of this amendment. I find it hard to believe the founding fathers put in something about a militia but, with their wisdom, didn't really think it was important. I'm sure they just wrote these amendments off the cuff and didn't even review every word they wrote, or bothered to have it ratified by the states it governed. Right?

To the contrary, they painstakingly chose their words, sentences, and even punctuation. Have no fear, I've got all the answers. I actually think I've come up with a way to satisfy both sides of the argument and even stay true to the original wording of the second amendment.

We need a database, with everyone who owns a gun and people who buy guns will be added to it. We no longer have a need for state militias, but we have a standing army. Gun owners would be the first to be called on in a draft. Citizens that chose not to own guns won't be drafted in a time of war (except maybe in an extreme emergency). Gun owners, in accordance to the second amendment, would be called up to fight right after reservists.

I'm sure there are holes in my plan. I'm sure we would still need some gun regulation laws that prevent people from buying automatic weapons. Over all I think a plan like that would work. Perhaps I'll write my senator. Then maybe someone will actually read my idea.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Exult in Ubuntu

Oh man, 2 blog posts in one day. What can I say? I have things to talk about.

Yesterday I successfully compiled my first program on Linux (noobuntu lawls). Of course it was Exult and came with plenty of documentation. I did have to do some things not found in the documentation, and I may add to this post when I get home to explain what I had to do to make it work for me.

It is interesting to me that Ultima 7 has had such a huge impact on my life. Back in the day, when you had to make a boot disk to play U7 I got to playing with autoexec.bat and config.sys files to do different things. That is what really sparked my interest with computers. Now I can say Exult inspired me to learn a little more about Linux.

I'd like to be able to say Exult inspired me to learn how to program, but even with Ultima inspiration programming feels out of my grasp.

The Hardware that Makes Me Sad

Old computer parts make me sad. Today I've been going through a lot of old computer hardware testing to see what is good and what is trash. Some of the gems I found; Creative Sound Blaster Live 5.1, GeForce 3 TI 500 and a TI 200, Geforce 4 MX 440, and an ATI Rage Theater (and the tuner still tunes).

What makes me sad is that these components still work. They didn't die out after years of hard gaming. They weren't victims of some power surge. They didn't meet their end because they were mishandled or abused by armature enthusiast. They have simply outlived their usefulness. Been betrayed by the very technology that created them. Surpassed by cheaper, and probably intergraded, components.

In a way, they are a tribute to their manufactures. Products of such awesome quality that one day they will have nothing better to do than collect dust on a shelf.

PS - I did not win the lottery. I didn't even get a single number!

Friday, March 14, 2008

Lottery Ticket

I don't play the lottery. The Texas Lottery was created so that we don't have to pay more taxes (like an income tax). So, if I don't play the lottery, I'm not paying taxes. By not playing, I win. Despite all this, I found a coupon for a free lottery ticket. A free lottery ticket is arguably not a gamble.
I think I get the lottery now though. It's not about winning, but about the anticipation of not winning. I won't find out for another four hours if I win anything. I'm pretty sure I won't see a dime of the 59 million jackpot, but so far I've had a blast talking to my co-workers about what I would do with a lot of money. We even talked about what we could do with the measly ten thousand I could win if I hit five of the six numbers. Over all it has been fun. I guess it will be all over when I find out I don't win jack.