Swine Flu

swine flu

Is it just me or is this whole swine flu thing getting blown out of proportion? I realize that there’s been some deaths from it, but the truth of the matter is that all forms of flu can cause death. It seems as though the majority of American cases have been relatively minor. I think the panic that people are feeling is not quite necessary based on the facts of the situation.

Japanese Game Shows

If there’s one thing Japan has brought us apart from delicious food, ninjas and dvd players, it is some of the funniest gameshows ever.  While we in America are stuck with drivel like American Idol or Who Wants to be a Millionaire, they get gameshows like this:

Human Slip N Slide:

Don’t Ram the Boobs:

He’s a loser. But isn’t he also a winner?

Ubuntu 9.04 Still Not Ready for Primetime

I’m a big Linux fan.  I’ve been using in some way or another since 1999 and wouldn’t consider myself a novice.  But despite all my efforts over the years, Linux is still unable to meet my needs as a desktop OS.  Now, I do use Linux regularly as a server at work, and it’s a rock solid beast.  But when it comes to the desktop, I find it wanting.

Take today’s release of Ubuntu 9.04 – Jaunty Jackelope.  I’ve been using it since beta, and it’s got a lot of good stuff going for it.  Boot time is excellent… around 26 seconds on my desktop.  After installing a few fonts from other sources (such as my beloved Futura, and my new favorite coding font, Droid Sans Mono from Google’s Android platform), it is simply gorgeous to look at.  Ubuntu has finally learned exactly how to properly display fonts.

But apart from the shiny exterior, and the admitedly stable structure that frames any UNIX based OS, is a slew of problems that prevent Ubuntu from taking over my desktop.  Multimedia support is a big problem.  After a few commands, I had all the gstreamer codecs installed from Medibuntu, vlc player and skype.  But everything is still such a cobbled-together mess.

Xvid files drop frames in vlc, even though I’ve got a system that should easily handle this type of stuff.  I can double-click the vlc window to make it full screen… but I must wait for 5-10 seconds as it slowly chugs away at this simple procedure.  (Simple in terms of how Windows and osx86 handle it the exact same procedure, on the exact same hardware, with the exact same version of VLC.)  If I open the same files in Totem, it’s hit or miss whether it will display anything at all, or will just be a black window.  I once full-screened the Totem window to have my entire X session hang.

Support for things such as webcams is also dreadfuly inept.  My Logitech webcam was detected immediately and “worked” to some extent.  Skype recongized a generic usb camera, and was able to display video.  However it only displayed a fraction of the actual camera image, a zoomed in corner of the view.  Skype, nor cheese, nor camorama, nor any other camera app I could find have any actual settings for this.    So unless I only wish to show a corner of my head, or mount my webcam 10 feet behind my monitor, this webcam is useless.

Media streaming?  Sorry there’s no orb support, nor any built-in media streaming ala Windows Media Center.  You can try Jinzora (which requires you to run a web server with MySQL databases on your PC [no thanks, I deal with that enough at work]) or open up the troubled VLC to stream.

I really want to love Ubuntu.  And I do have it installed on two old laptops here where I fuck around with perl and c++.  But as it stands, unfortunately it just does not meet my needs.  It’s sad that XP is still the best OS option I have.

Return of the Zombie Xbox

My 360 has come back from the dead!  Well, it wasn’t technically “dead” when I packed it up in a coffin and mailed it back to Microsoft.  But it was certainly screaming in pain whenever it had a disk in it.  The noise was rediculous.

I finally broke down and had it fixed and I must say, the new drive is much quieter.  I discovered that Xbox 360 games do, in fact, have an audio track!  It took 14 days from when I dropped it off at UPS until the fixed Xbox arrived.  Plus they tagged on a month of Xbox Live.  Not bad.

So while I think it’s shitty that I had to drop $100 to fix a stupid problem like this, I am happy to have a working system again.

RIP Harry Kalas

Harry KalasWow I’m really bummed about the loss of Harry Kalas. For those who don’t follow sports, he was the play by play announcer for the Phillies since 1971 and is pretty much the voice of the team. He’s a legend in the sport, and in Philadelphia. Even non baseball fans will recognize his voice from his work on NFL films, and other voiceovers. I’m just glad he got a chance to call the World Series victory last season.

“This is to the Philadelphia Fan
To laud your passion as best I can
Your loyalty is unsurpassed
Be the Fightins in first or last
We come to the park each day
Looking forward to another fray
Because we know you’ll be there
We know you really care
You give the opposing pitcher fits
Because as one loyalist shouts, ‘Everybody hits’
To be sure in Philly, there might be some boos
Because you passionate fans, like the manager, hate to lose
Your reaction to the action on the field that you impart
Spurs us as broadcasters to call the game with enthusiasm and heart
We feel your passion through and through
Philadelphia fans, I love you.”
– Harry Kalas, 2002

Penn State Security Day 2009

I went to the PSU Security Day 2009 conference today. Pretty dry, to be honest, except a talk by Johnny Long, a hacker who’s talked at DEFCON and other places. Rather than the policy laden talks from the other keynote speakers, Johnny spoke on social engineering and low-tech hacks. Very interesting topic. Made me wish we still had a 2600 chapter around here.

My Poor, Poor Xbox

After putting up with the unbearable buzzing the DVD-ROM drive in my 360 produced whenever it spun a disc for probably a year, I finally caved and sent it in for service. They were pretty fast about sending me the coffin to mail it in.. and I’m hopeful that they’ll fix her up and have it back soon. So, I dropped it off at UPS today, Monday.. We’ll have to see how long until it’s back to me.

Movin On 2009 at Penn State

Long time no update, so here we go with a few pictures from Movin On, Penn State’s spring concert from earlier today. It was cold as balls so I didn’t stick around the whole 11 hours or so of the show but I did catch the earlier bands Acalasia and One Downtown Avenue, and the last band, the Spill Canvas, who headlined. They were really good live, despite the weather.

The Spill Canvas at Penn State