Archive for July, 2009

Some Current Projects

It’s been a busy week so far. Partially prepping for next week’s install at UCLA, and the rest is working on (as always) tweaking things at the store, and other projects.  The UCLA install will take up most of next week, after which I drive back to Phoenix, do some laundry, hopefully get to see Lisa, and then fly out to NY for another install, then fly directly to Boise to meet Phil and go camping!  Last time I got to go camping was last year after Tim’s wedding, so it’s about due for some technology-less rest in the woods with a good book and some firearms. (not to shoot books with, mind you)

Some nice guy in France just offered to make a nice $150 donation if I translated my Demigod skin into French. I like it when people randomly offer me money!

I’m also currently working on a screensaver/info gathering utility to be used by Alienware during it’s Alienware Arena event. Tying together some code with some flash graphics, it’s looking pretty cool so far.

Tomorrow I can hopefully get it near finished, as well as send France guy his updated SL skin, and then watch The Watchmen DVD with Lisa at her house. Which I bought a week ago, and still haven’t watched.

Understanding Statistical Accuracy

Great article from BBC News about the hazards of how people interperet statistical accuracy.

A scanner to detect terrorists

If a test to detect something (a terrorist in this case) is 90% accurate, how good is it? Ninety percent sounds pretty good. Until you flip it around and calculate how many errors it can generate, especially if the thing you are looking for is rare.  Lets assume there are 300 people who are terrorists in the US.  Thats approximatly 0.0001% in a population of about 300 million.

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AT&T Blocks 4chan

:edit: Updated news :… It appears that the block of the site (which was only partial, not the whole site) was purported to have been because of an ongoing DDOS attack against 4chan (which is not unusual, actually).

It appears that AT&T is blocking access to, which is a anonymous image posting board. (some parts NSFW, you’ve been warned)
Reddit thread here :

Several calls to customer service have been made, and the official response was “yes, it’s blocked”. I can still access it here in Phoenix, but this is disturbing. Censorship is bad kids. And of all the places to try and block out first, they picked 4chan. The backlash will be swift and terrible I imagine….

More news later maybe…

Prototype Ion Engine

A new variant of ion propulsion is being developed by Ad Astra Rockets (warning, lots of video embedded). Ion engines have been used on a few space probes already, but they’re not very powerful.

The main thing that makes this one different is that instead of using metal grids loaded with differing voltages to accelerate the ions out the back, the VASIMR Engine accelerates and energizes an ion plasma using magnetic fields. This prevents the volatile plasma from coming in contact with any of the engine parts, which would wear them down quite rapidly.

They’re saying that a manned ship using this propulsion could reach Mars in around 40 days, instead of the current timeline of 6 months using chemical rockets. I dunno about you, but spending 30 days in a metal trashcan sounds a lot better than 6 months. And that’s not even counting the time you spend crammed into it while you’re actually there. Which has got to be a least a few months just to make the trip worth it.

Original article

Speedgamers Marathon Charity Fundraising

I’ve had the idea of having gaming marathons, or holding last-man-standing competitions to see who can game the longest, and things like that. These guys have done it right though. They hold multi-day (even up to a week straight!) marathons based around a game theme (Zelda, Final Fantasy, Mario, Pokemon) and raise funds to donate to a specific charity.

The Speed Gamers

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Privacy on Google Books

Google is in the process of digitizing millions of books and making them searchable, and for those whos copyrights have expired, fully readable and printable.  Over 7 million books have been added so far.

This is a great thing, especially for books that are hard to find in meatspace because they’re either rare or no longer being printed.  It helps preserve the works of obscure authors and opens up a tremendous resource in terms of both information and imagination.  However it is not to be used without concern. Read the rest of this entry »

Asteroids – The Movie!

I have lost all faith in humanity.

Universal Pictures has optioned the rights to do a movie based on the Asteroids game. Yes, the one with 2D vector art, from the 1980s.

Origonal announcement :

Books as Art

I like books, really I do. However there are some that are probably put to better use in this fashion :

US Bombs Afgan Poppys

This is one of those ideas that should never have made it out of the meeting room. Discouraging the farmers from growing a crop that the Taliban can use as a money source is good. Offering incentives to grow other things is great. And the only real way to “win” in a country is to gain the support of it’s people.

Now, if I just busted my ass farming a crop, so I can feed my family (or just keep them safe), and now some US plane drops a bomb and vaporizes it, who am I going to be pissed at?  This seems like one of the dumbest things you could possibly do to “win the hearts and minds” of a country’s citizens.

CNN Article – U.S. bombs poppy crop to cut Taliban drug ties

Tattoo #7

LSG Tattoo - NickAs some may or may not be aware, I run a LAN Gaming Center, named LAN Speed Games.  (more info HERE)  A lot of the customers have been coming and playing games and making friends since near the beginning, 5 years ago. So they have a strong sense of loyalty toward the place.

I began working at LSG about a year ago.  Sometime after I began I made mention of an offer I’ve always made at the LANs I’ve worked at: If you get a tattoo of the store’s logo on a visible portion of your skin, I will let you play for free for life.  Up until recently nobody had taken advantage of the offer, as most company logos are designed to be very obviously, a company logo.  LAN Speed’s is fairly unique, and in terms of body art, actually works fairly well. (see picture)

So in January of this year, we finally had someone take the offer and get ink done.  We followed through and let him play for free. This seemed to break the dam, so to speak, and within about 2-3 months we had a total of 6 people with tattoos, at which point we said “enough” and haven’t let anyone else get one.  Until today.

As if all this wasn’t enough already to impress upon you the nature of the community that develops in a good business like this, I have one further note on tattoo #7, which walked in today.  Today is also the day when our 4 new systems arrived, giving us a total of 30 PCs.  We had stated when the tattoo thing began to escalate that we would not allow any more tattoos than 6, which is ~25% of our capacity with 26 machines.  And we told people that we would allow more if and when we got more PCs.

So today our 4 new PCs came in. And about 4 hours later, tattoo #7 walks in.  He had missed being in on the first batch by a small margin (we had a waiting list, actually).  And so he had deliberatly timed it so that he got the tattoo the same day our new PCs arrived.  That kind of dedication (or desperation, I haven’t decided) just amazes me, and I’m really glad to be a part of a business where we have grown such a strong bond with our customer base.