Tuesday, November 25, 2008

You Can Still Watch "The Guild" Online

Season 2 is available on the MSN Video site.

I failed earlier trying to get it from the xbox site. (Apparently xbox-video is only for xbox...)

From a Felicia Day tweet:
Guild Season 2 Episode 1 http://tinyurl.com/guilds2e1 Make it full screen, it looks pretty!

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Monday, November 24, 2008

Huge "The Guild" News! X-Box and Sprint Sponsoring Season 2

If you've been following Felica Day's Twitter stream, you know that she's been working hard to secure appropriate sponsorship for Season 2 of the The Guild.

After turning down many suitors, she signed a deal with Microsoft and Sprint.
For those with Xbox Live, you will be able to download Season 2 episodes every week starting tomorrow, Tuesday, November 25th for free in HD quality on the Video Marketplace. For those only on the web, episodes will be streaming on MSN Video in a world-wide release, subtitled in 8 different languages across the world. You will also be able to download episodes in the Zune Marketplace for your mobile viewing pleasures. Season 1 is being re-released today across all those platforms, with subtitles in some regions, and we put together an additional Season 1 gag reel to celebrate the occasion, which you can watch in our new, revamped player on The Guild site. Thanks to David from Microsoft, Edgar Garcia, Webmasta and Kirstin from England and WooThemes Ninja for making the site happen this weekend!
It's great to see an independent producer keep ownership of their work, but still find big-time sponsors to keep the show going!

It sounds like an exclusive deal. That's a little disappointing since I have the entire Season 1 on my iPod Touch, and I don't expect to see Microsoft supporting that. Great news for those Zune owners though!

Interestingly, the "MSN Video" Player on The Guild web site is in Flash. At least they're not forcing me to install another plugin. But it doesn't look like they have an embeddable version. That seems odd considering every other video service offers embeddable video.

And on a random The Guild note: You can follow Vork (the character) on Twitter. Awesome stuff.

More coverage of this amazing news:

Triple "Guild" play for Microsoft - Reuters
Popular YouTube series "The Guild" finds home with Microsoft - Ars Technica
Felicia Day's "The Guild" signs exclusive deal with Microsoft - WowInsider
The Guild Coming To Xbox Live - CinemaBlend
The Guild Coming to Xbox Live Marketplace - Wired News

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Ron Paul Out My Window

On Saturday, November 22nd, I hear a light plane flying low and slow over the city.
Look out my window and see this:

(zoomed inset)


Where's the call to action?
Who did this?

Apparently, there was an "end the fed" demonstration in Minneapolis and other cities. This banner must have been part of that.

I'll admit, I have issues with the Federal Reserve, but this "End the Fed" movement seems very poorly organized. Come on people! Demonstrating in front of the Fed on a Saturday? Not even commuters will see you.

The "really good" turn out:

Did they even break 100 people?

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Friday, November 21, 2008

Lon's Lo-Tech Digital Camera Case

Someone just commented on my homemade camera case, so I thought I should write it up.

I use a very sturdy Sony Cybershot for photographing my NeoCube creations. (And pretty much everything else.)
I carry this point-and-shoot in my briefcase all the time so that it's available for saving whiteboard designs and spur-of-moment product shots.
I needed a camera case that would hold up to heavy use every day. Inspired by Apple's iSock, I created my own.
Just a big cushy sock and some bubble wrap.

The oh-so-detailed instructions:
  1. Cut the sock about 1-1/2 inches longer than twice the length of the camera.
  2. Cut a strip of small-cell bubble-wrap just wide enough to cover the length of the camera.
  3. Put the camera in the sock. Push it to the toe.
  4. Wrap the section of the sock with the camera in it with 3 layers of bubble wrap.
  5. Fold down the remaining section of the sock to cover the bubble wrap.

Cheap, durable (I've been using mine for about three years) and outstanding protection against things bouncing around in the bag.

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Monday, November 17, 2008

Cutting the Cord

I find myself without any projects booked this week.

Sure, I'll bet the current state of the economy had to do with it, but I'm also realistic enough to know that I haven't been working as hard as I should on new business development.

And it's not just the business initiatives that have gone lacking, but many projects around the house as well.
During my time at zam, I worked very long hours, but was making enough money to not worry about keeping up the homestead. That established some bad habits which need to be broken.

In examining "where the time goes," I discovered that I actually do watch a lot of TV.
It doesn't seem like much but even a couple shows a day gets me into a bad habit of spending too much time on the couch.

So later today I'll be turning in my cable converter box and turning off the TV for the year.
I'm surprisingly anxious about this. I think that shows just how strong the television addiction is. And the people I've spoken to about this action have been amazed. Most people think it's an extreme step. And that's probably a good thing.

I'm already thinking about the shows I'm going to miss.
"Morning Joe," "Mythbusters," "The Daily Show."
I already get most of my tech news from podcasts, so missing G4 TV won't be a huge loss.
"Regular" news is going to be another issue: I plan to get a digital over-the-air receiver in 2009 I don't have a plan for news before then. Hopefully nothing newsworthy will happen that won't show up on my Google Alerts.

I can get Mythbusters for $50/season via iTunes, and they have The Daily Show for about $10/month. So that's under $30/month if I need to see them on the iPod.

I can also watch full episodes of The Daily Show at the website for free. http://www.thedailyshow.com/

Can't find a stream for MSBC, so I guess I'll be going without.

OK. Back to World of Warcraft!

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Friday, November 14, 2008

World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King - Lon's Launch Day

Launch day actually started last week by letting my clients know I wouldn't be available on Wednesday and Thursday.

Finished leveling up the tank on Monday. That makes five level 70s.

On Wednesday, the media consumption orgy began in earnest.
A small group of us had a terrific lunch of leftover's from Tuesday's Firefly lunch.
Then off to napping!

G4 TV showed season 21 of Sasuke ("Ninja Warrior"), so that cut into the nap time significantly.

The Daily Show and The Colbert Report filled the last hour before queuing up at Best Buy.

Arrived at the Roseville Best Buy at 11:30. At least 50 cars in the main lot. Twittered about it...
Walking around the building to end of the line, I saw that many cars were in the side lot - these people knew where to park. Less than 150 people in line.

By the time the doors opened, the line had more than doubled. Guessing a few hundred.
Surprisingly, only about 10% women in the line. Apparently, girls can get their significant others to go stand in line in 22-degree weather.

Fun discussions all around. Obviously, this was a more hard-core sample of the WoW population, but interesting to hear about the many alts (alternate characters) and raiding careers of the folks in line.

Collector's Editions packages were available but sold out shortly before I got to the product table.

Dash home for the big install. Installation was underway before 1:00 AM.

The installer flashed a big warning that my machine didn't meet the minimum spec. I knew they had increased the system requirements, but I had logged many hours in the beta program, so I wasn't too worried. My trusty old "mirror door" PowerPC Mac has been more than sufficient for the old WoW client as well as everything I do. I upgraded the video card a few years ago for gaming and video editing, so it's been a good WoW machine.

Last check of the addons, and I was logged in before 2:00 AM.

The main cities were ghost towns. The boats to the new areas were packed with eager adventurerers. The network lag in the new areas was incredible.

A bit of sleep, then back into the fray early Thursday morning.
Network lag was much worse as more players came on.
My computer system's performance was really suffering. Both processors were completely maxxed out. After a few hours of questing, my audio got choppy then completely cut out for about an hour. Framerate dropped to single digits, so I figured it was time to take a break. WoW client hung hard when attempting to exit the game.
Rebooted the system (this system only reboots for system updates, so that was novel), and logged in again. The login queue (on the Whisperwind realm) was 1186!
Used the next couple hours to lookup buff names and other information for an addon I'm working on.

Got back in and hit level 71 before 11:00 PM.

Huge visual upgrade:
The shadows, new spell effects and more detailed models make everything look great.


Hard to say yet. I'm assuming most of my issues had to do with the incredible player population. Once I got out of the first zones it was playable.

Up to Blizzard's high standards. As expected, quests in the starting areas were notably easy, but the stories were good, the area is fun, and you get to ride a dragon pretty early on!

I spent some time documenting quests and items over at wowhead for things people were asking about in general chat.

Oh yeah - General... You may want to turn that off in the first zone. It's really bad since you have the entire population in one zone for awhile. That includes all the dullards, morons, mouth-breathers, antagonists, jerks, needy whiners, and 12-year olds. When they are spread around the world, it's not so bad, but in concentrated form, it's painful. Level up and get your ass outa there!

Disclaimer: I spent most of the last year working with the fine folks at Zam Network (wowhead, thottbot, wowinterface, allakhazam) so I got to see things before the launch.

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MacSpeech Dictate 1.2 Update

MacSpeech Dictate was already a very useful product, but I was often frustrated when trying to enter some of the technical or gaming jargon I deal with every day.
The 1.2 update has proven amazing.

The Spelling Mode allows me to easily enter weird things like "Ner'zhul" (The warchief of Draenor who became the Lich King).

Phrase Training is a drastic improvement over the previous method of pasting phrases into the scratchpad and having the software analyze them.
Accuracy has increased quite a bit for me.

Previously, I kept the "Available Commnands" menu hidden because it very busy and not too useful. The new version has a top section that show the commands used in the current context. So when I go into Spelling Mode, it shows the spelling commands such as "Caps On." Very useful now.

I don't need the 400 "Open applicationX" functions, but you can turn them off by un-checking the Generate Application Launch Commands in the preferences.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Writer's Block

I purposefully avoided posting during the last days of the presidential election campaign because I didn't want to be one of those "political bloggers."

Unfortunately, not forcing myself to write every day resulted in some writer's block when it came time to write again.

I'm working on a new project that requires quite a bit of content. This project is potentially quite lucrative, so I'm taking it pretty seriously. This added pressure only added to the writer's block.

I created the outline for the content but found myself unable to actually write all the material.
This was mainly because I could not think of how to write this information clearly.
So the cure was to just write it badly!

I put on my headset and just started babbling.

The first draft was even worse than I had feared.
The next revision was weak but readable.
Today's revision wasn't bad. After a painful few days, I can believe that it will be a good project.

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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Godaddy URL Rewriting for PHP

I'm hosting some new projects at Godaddy on their "Deluxe Hosting - Linux" plan.

I want my external URLs to end in .html, but I'm coding the site in php5.
The web is full of example .htaccess directives that don't work.

Here's all you need:
Create a file called ".htaccess" in the root folder for your domain.
Put the following in that file:

Options +FollowSymLinks -MultiViews
RewriteEngine On
RewriteBase /
RewriteRule (.*).html $1.php [L]

Now when someone requests index.html, the server will execute index.php.

If you want to keep some html files, use the following:

Options +FollowSymLinks -MultiViews
RewriteEngine On
RewriteBase /
RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-f [NC]
RewriteRule (.*).html $1.php [L]

The "RewriteCond" tests to see if the html file exists. If it does, then it is served normally. If it does not, then the php version of that name is served up.

I know this super-simple url_rewrite example diminishes my nerd cred. (People are more used to seeing external maps or mod_perl magic from me.) But I figured there's plenty of non-techies out there who will find this basic information valuable.

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Monday, November 3, 2008

Ani Difranco's "Paradigm" to Get You in the Voting Mood

Ani Difranco's "Paradigm" to Get You in the Voting Mood

Reminds me that our democracy has hope as long as the citizens participate.
Unfortunately, the only legal embeddable version I could find has a lot of chit-chat at the front, but still... such a terrific song.

i was born to two immigrants
who knew why they were here
they were happy to pay taxes
for the schools and roads
happy to be here
they took it seriously
the second job of citizenry
my mother went campaigning door to door
and holding to her hand was me

i was just a girl in a room full of women
licking stamps and laughing
i remember the feeling of community brewing
of democracy happening

but i suppose like anybody
i had to teach myself to see
all that stuff that got lost
on its way to church
all that stuff that got lost
on its way to school
all that stuff that got lost
on its way to the house of my family
all that stuff that was not lost on me

teach myself to see each of us
through the lens of forgiveness
like we're stuck with each other (god forbid!)
teach myself to smile and stop and talk
to a whole other color kid
teach myself to be new in an instant
like the truth is accessible at any time
teach myself it's never really one or the other
there's a paradox in every paradigm

i was just a girl in a room full of women
licking stamps and laughing
i remember the feeling of community brewing
of democracy happening
Thanks to Righteous Babe Records & Ani Difranco for posting the lyrics

Paradigm - Ani DiFranco

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