Monthly Archives: January 2012

OpenID…the service nobody uses…

I just revisited all things OpenID.  I have to present a paper in class tomorrow.  A paper on a study of sorts on OpenID.  (It was actually less on OpenID than I hoped.)  Reading it prompted me to play around with OpenID on my blog and Google.  You may not know this, because it’s not super clear and it’s not advertised anywhere on Google, but if you have a public Google profile, you can use the URL to your profile as an OpenID URL.  And of course, WordPress sites can all be used with OpenID.

How much have I used this?  I’d say none, but technically twice: both for blog related services.  Not for anything useful.  And I’m pretty sure that I also have a username to both of these other sites.

So what’s the point of me saying this?  Two things.  First, I don’t think anyone really uses OpenID.  Second, I read a lot of papers that research dead ends or, more ironically, obvious questions (to which they find the obvious answer). Example: a bunch of people at some university in Canada did a study on OpenID, and it told us that most people didn’t understand it, that most people would use it if it was easier, but that most people won’t.  The same thing we’ve known for years.  Congrats.

And I get to present it tomorrow.  Yay.

Currently listening to: “Symphony No. 95 in C Minor, III a” by Franz Joseph Haydn

It’s kind of like having a TARDIS…

But it’s not.  You see, I’ve fallen behind on my posts.  I can easily fake it, and set the publication date for last Friday, but that just wouldn’t be fair.  I guess I’m not very good at resolutions.  Plus, we were lent season 6 of Doctor Who, so of course when 11:30 came around, we were busy watching and not thinking about blogging.  Well, I wasn’t at least.

We spent the weekend doing that (watching Doctor Who), hosting friends, and playing Rock Band.  Also, I picked up the old classic, Half-Life 2 and killed time killing head crabs.

The month is going by very slowly.  I’m very sick of school, and really can’t wait to be done with college.  I just hope that I can find a job that I really enjoy and where progress is made faster than grass grows.  I’m especially hoping that the “real world” is as fun and exciting as we think it will be.

Easter eggs, part 2…

I promised that I would take a picture of my old computer, now used by another programmer.  Without further ado:

Easter Eggs
Very festive…once a year.

The thing that I find funny and ironic about this is the fact that if I were to start a job and my computer had this background, I wouldn’t do anything else until I figured out how to change the background.  (Unless of course it was Easter, in which case I would leave it for a week or two, then immediately change it.)  It wasn’t hard to do–just a quick Google search told me how:

sudo defaults write /Library/Preferences/ \
DesktopPicture "/Path/To/New/Picture.jpg"

If I had access to the machine, I’d probably change it back, but the new programmer used and changed the password to the support account instead of creating her own account.  Guess I’ll just have to single-user-mode the computer and get in that way.

Currently listening to: “Testing 1, 2, 3” by Barenaked Ladies

Google did it best…

Well, as soon as I’ve clicked publish on this post, I’m going to turn off the Go Dark plugin.  I’ve heard that the blackouts today have brought a lot of awareness and changed a lot of minds.  Unfortunately, Sen. Jim Risch of Idaho still supports PICA (he’s a prideful co-sponsor).  I won’t be voting for him next election.

Of all the blackouts, I think I liked Google’s the best.  It was non-intrusive, and the linked to good, easy to read information.  Wikipedia had a close second, especially considering that they made it easy to find information about congressmen.  Plus, by turning off JavaScript, the site could still be used completely.

I was pleased to see the amount of support for the blackout shown by so many internet companies.  I was very disappointed by Facebook and Twitter for their lack of support.  I’m still of the opinion that SOPA/PIPA would destroy them, and they didn’t raise awareness in the slightest.  (I wouldn’t want them to blackout completely, but something like Google would have been good.)

I came across some really great stuff today though.  I’d like to share it with you, for reading if you’re not already sick of SOPA/PIPA.  I found two great posts by Tim O’Reilly of O’Reilly Media (and publishing).  I also found this video: (Enjoy!)

Reader and excerpts…

Yesterday I couldn’t get WordPress to correctly format my list of links.  I got it to look right after a bunch of revisions.  But when I checked Google Reader, it was still all junked up because Reader caches the first response.  The only solution that I can think of is to only have excerpts in the RSS feed so that people (you 5 readers) come to the page to read the rest.  Of course, I hate that idea because then I’m making people come to my site, and they might just stop reading, and then I’d just have Sav as a reader.  And she hates feeds like that and even she might stop reading. 🙁

I’ve got to find a better way to solve this problem.  I’ll let you know if I find one.

Update: Turns out, Reader just needed to crawl my feed again. My changes to the post from yesterday have hit Reader.  Unfortunately, this change probably won’t hit for a few hours.

Currently listening to: “Maybe Katie” by Barenaked Ladies

SOPA and PIPA are bad…

I’ve been trying to learn a little about SOPA and PIPA today.  Here are some resources I’ve found.  Some are better than other, of course.

I’m not a fan of politics.  I hate professional politicians.  The professional politician is half of what’s wrong with this country.  The other half is the greedy lawyer.  Another half (these problems are getting so big that they are all halves, no matter how many) is the patent system, but it’s a smaller half (not much smaller, just smaller).

But congress is proving once again that they don’t have our country’s best interests at heart.

I don’t pirate music, movies, or software.  Being a computer engineer, I very much believe that software developers deserve to be paid for a good product.  I think the same is true for the music and media industries.  But I think they are too quick to point the finger of falling sales at piracy.  Most people are honest and buy music.  Always have, and always will.  Luckily, it’s a little easier to buy good music and avoid the not-so-good.

I’m a believer that there are honest people who couldn’t afford to buy all the music they liked, couldn’t get movies they wanted to see on Netflix and couldn’t afford the $10 movie ticket at the theatre, and who couldn’t afford to buy Windows XP.  I think honest people who may have obtained movies, music, and software at a highly reduced cost might have later become loyal customers, buying every favorite Disney movie as it comes on Blu-ray, buying their favorite albums from the 90’s on Amazon, or buying Window, Office, and Photoshop at their premium prices.  Not every person who downloaded a free mp3 from Kazaa was a horrible, music industry destroying criminal.

I know some people pirate everything they can.  I don’t agree with that.  It’s one thing to download the latest episode of a show when you don’t have cable TV.  It’s another thing to copy every DVD, CD, or game you get your hands on to your hard drive and make copies for all of your friends.  That’s dishonest.

That’s my take on piracy.  And I hope that if you aren’t aware of SOPA or PIPA, that you now know a bit more.  I’m sure by the end of tomorrow, you’re going to know a bit more.  Many sites (including this one) are quietly going dark to protest SOPA.  Many sites can’t afford to go dark, but may at least show a banner.  Wikipedia is the biggest site to go dark.  Reddit and come in close behind.  Google will have a notice.  Facebook and Twitter had better do something.  They can’t possibly survive if SOPA or PIPA goes through.  Social sharing would be destroyed.  The internet as we know it would end.

Currently listening to: “When the World Ends” by Dave Matthews Band

Games that I love…

This weekend has been a productive one, though not in the way that I planned.  I couldn’t concentrate on school and needed some good distraction.  Sav was good enough to let me play a good amount of Dead Space 2.  I even turned down the headphones, when I enjoyed just as much as she did.

Dead Space 2 (and Dead Space) are games that I love.  They are so immersive and well made.  There’s nothing quite like the first play through, were you learn the story for the first time.  That hasn’t stopped me from playing them over and over.  I’ve probably played Dead Space four or five times already.  I’m only on my second playthough of Dead Space 2.  Life got a little busier, and I don’t play quite as much.  Even though I know just about where every enemy will come from in Dead Space, I still love playing it.  I don’t quite have Dead Space 2 known like that, but probably some day.

I started thinking about it, and a lot games on my favorites  are all this way: Dead Space, Dead Space 2, Battlefield: Bad Company, BioShock, BioShock 2, Half Life 2, Portal, and Portal 2.  They might become predictable if you play them over and over, but I don’t care.  They’re still fun every time.  Story is important too.  The Dead Space, BioShock, and Portal games all have great stories.  If you ever might play them, don’t look them up and spoil it.  (I did this with BioShock, and it was a bummer.  Still a great story, but I spoiled the ending.)  I think I played through BioShock 3 times (before I was married).  I need to play the second through again.  (If only it had the New Game+ option like the first one.)

I’ve played a lot of fun games, but the games that I play again and again (which obviously must be the most fun) are the ones that combine great gameplay with great storytelling.  If it doesn’t have a great story, I’ll probably end up trading it in at GameStop after the first playthrough.  If I finish the game thinking, “Wow! I can’t wait to play that again,” it will probably stay on my shelf forever..

Currently listening to: “Stupid Cupid” by Mandy Moore

Like a world made of virtual Lego blocks…

That’s how I would describe Minecraft.

It’s Sunday, on a 3-day weekend, so I decided to spend some time playing a game this evening.  Since it is Sunday, Dead Space is out of the question.  So I decided to revisit my little world in Minecraft.  I’ve made a few different worlds.  The great thing about Minecraft is that it’s still being developed and the developers are adding new features every month or so.  The only downside is that to get some of the new features (if they involve terrain/world generation) is to create a new world.  This is the pits, because my coolest world is probably the first one I ever started.  (Granted, I did cheat and give myself some cool items to make some cool contraptions, like a giant door to my house/base of operations and a bunch of other doors, but it’s still the coolest.)  Or there’s the world that I decided to build a giant underground room filled with trees, and spent hours hollowing out the earth to create it.  It also had an awesome mine cart track that used “boosters” (since “fixed” (removed))  to visit the caves.

But since the release of Minecraft 1.0, I’ve started in a new world, not cheating, and trying to play with a purpose, but still having fun and creating.  That’s the fun part of Minecraft.  There doesn’t have to be any more point to the game than simply playing.  You can play to explore, play to hunt creepers and zombies, or play to create.  I like to explore, create, and survive.

So if you’re into video games, and you want a game that will give you endless hours of fun, allowing you to explore and create in a uniquely generated world, look no further.  It’s how I spent this evening.  And it was fun.

Currently listening to: “Some Fantastic” by Barenaked Ladies

Quality vs quantity…

I made a resolution to blog every day.  And I’ve stuck to it.  Thus the quantity went up.

What I’m not sure about is the quality.  I hope it hasn’t gone down too far.  I’m not the best writer, and a lot of my stuff is ranting about this and that.  I don’t expect to become a blogger that attracts millions (nor do I want to be), but I at least want to write something that doesn’t make eyes bleed and puppies cry.

I’m hoping that as I blog more, I’ll get better and better.  I love my self-hosted blog though, because I’m in charge of everything.  I control what plugins I have, how big my photos are, what server(s) host my pictures, and the theme.  Someday I want to create my own theme (or just branch from this one).

Anyway, this is probably an example of quantity instead of quality, because Sav and I realized 10 minutes ago that we still needed to blog, and I just started typing.

Currently listening to: “You Can’t Stop the Beat” by Hairspray movie cast

Weekend projects…

Yay for the coming weekend!

This week, I read five different papers for two of my classes.  I’ve completely ignored reading for the other class.  This weekend, I play catch up and get ahead. The book looks to be an interesting read.  I bought the Kindle version because it’s cheaper, and I love the idea of keeping a good textbook without having to lug it around when we move.  Eventually, I’ll convert some of the better books in my library, and by that I mean buy them.  Anyway, should be a good read, except I have to read it on my laptop because it’s a print replica edition, with the full layout.  So I can’t use my actual Kindle, which is a drag, because reading from the Kindle is awesome.

In addition to reading, I’m taking on two other projects.  I want to finish the first programming project for my interactive systems class.  My goal is to spend weekends on these projects, stay ahead, and then have weekdays for the other two classes.  A three-day weekend is perfect to start out.

My final project, if I get to it, but the one I’m most excited about, is to get SPDY running on my web server for faster secure access.  It’s mostly just a fun test to see if I can do it.  But it would make secure connections to my server faster, and that’s a benefit.  It will only really benefit me, as I use SSL to connect to my server, and there’s not any reason to use SSL to read my blog.  But you could, and it will be faster once SPDY is installed.  Hopefully I have time for it.

Anyway, it’s time for bed.  I hope everyone had a happy Friday the 13th.

Currently listening to: “Sonata in F, Op. 1, No. 3, II (Rondeau)” by LeBrun