Wednesday, 28 June 2006

Time sure flies when you're having fun (or when you're working like crazy). I can't believe it's already here: Gnomedex starts Thursday evening, and I'll be heading to Seattle Thursday afternoon to check into the hotel and disconnect from the rest of the world and plug into the ultimate geek fest. It looks to be a very interesting and exciting time. I am sure Chris and Ponzi will once again outdo the past shows.

If you'll be there, let me know. My mobile number is over on the right side of this blog, as is my email address. Or just comment here.

Thursday, 29 June 2006 03:20:54 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)
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 Wednesday, 14 June 2006

Gnomedex 6.0I'm taking a quick break from my work-all-night-at-home mode, and I see that Chris says Gnomedex 6.0 is officially sold out in the main hall (you can still attend in the "cove" hall via video feed, though). It promises to be yet another good year for this Gnomedex show/conference/event (it will be my third). It's all happening June 29th through July 1st.

If you're attending this year, let me know (my email and mobile phone are over on the right side of the page) and let's catch up!

Also, the OPML of attendees' blogs is here.

Thursday, 15 June 2006 02:38:47 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)
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 Sunday, 04 June 2006

Not able to register and sign up for college classes and hike on down there to learn some useful crypto skills? No problem. The University of Washington's crypto course is available online for anyone to access. And this is some truly decent content.

Practical Aspects of Modern Cryptography - course description

The full semester of class content is available online - slides, video of each class session, audio in MP3 format (there's even a podcast link) - great stuff. You'll spend some real time working through the class presentation, which means you'll be spending the time it takes to actually learn the content.

By far the best way to view the content online is with a special app you can download from the UofW web site for free. If you install their WebViewer application you can get the video and slides and instructor annotations playing all together in one nifty package. Quite excellent since they teach with - get this - a Tablet PC in real time. It's kind of like Monday Night Football for geeks. Heh.

Web-viewer-crypto-class

There's a whole slew of math and number crunching stuff in the first class sessions, but it's information that is fundamental to a complete understanding. Then the instructors move into protocols and more practical, real-world applications.

There's a TON of presentation content here. Anyone who wants to learn about cryptography for real will likely find this worthwhile. Kudos to the instructors and the University of Washington for providing this online class content. We need more complete educational stuff like this on the web. Like MIT's OpenCourseWare. Excellent.

(via Digg)

Sunday, 04 June 2006 12:34:15 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)
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 Sunday, 14 May 2006

Scala1The sun has finally come back out in the Pacific Northwest, which means it's time again to get on the bike. I went riding today with Matt and Dan. We cruised a long loop in Columbia County that goes past my house. It's a great ride with lots of fun turns and rural scenery. It was in the mid to upper 70's today and the next couple days will be much warmer than that.

But spending time on the bike means when the stupid cell phone rings, it goes unanswered. I know what you're thinking - why am I worrying about the stupid phone when enjoying a day on the bike? Yeah, yeah... Okay, I get the point. But since I will probably ride it to and from work more and more now that it's nice out, it would be nice to be able to answer the phone in the helmet - but only if I never have to take my hands off the motorcycle controls. It would also be a very cool way (with free mobile-to-mobile minutes) to do a full duplex intercom between riding partners.

Scala3So, today I ordered the Cardco "scala-rider" Bluetooth headset that's made specifically for use in motorcycle helmets. It clamps on (no glue, which is nice) and allows you to answer the phone, as well as (if your phone allows) place calls using your voice. Plus it automatically adjusts its own volume to accommodate for road noise. It's built and designed for use at highway speeds and has some special circuitry to deal with the noise. Plus, tons of standby and talk time, and a good all-around feature set.

  • Receive and initiate calls.
  • Weather protected headset fits open-faced and full helmets.
  • Self-installation within 5 minutes, leaving no traces on helmet.
  • High impact balancing microphone for inter-city speed conditions.
  • AGC Technology automatically adjusts volume according to noise and speed levels.
  • VOX Technology enables you to receive or reject calls by voice control.
  • Special clamp allows attachment and release of the headset within seconds.
  • Up to 7 hrs. talk time / 1 week standby (recharging from regular outlet).

Once I receive it and have a chance to try it out, I'll post a review.


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Sunday, 14 May 2006 05:24:10 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)
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 Monday, 08 May 2006

I lucked out last night - big time. We dropped by the Best Buy store in Beaverton (that's Oregon) after a fun day hanging out at OMSI and cruising Portland, just in case by some random chance they had any of the complete Xbox 360 kits around (as opposed to the "core" system version). Sure enough, a hand-made sign inside the door read "Xbox 360's in stock!"

We headed back to the place where they have the consoles, and sure enough, there were about 15 white and green boxes stacked behind the table. So I bought two - one for me at home and one for work, where all the people that work for me can play during breaks (I have been promising them one for quite awhile now - they work hard, they should play hard now and then). Added a few games and extra controllers, and walked out poor (for what it's worth, the funds have been set aside for some time waiting for a store to stock them and for me to show up before they got bought up), but also a bit excited and with a feeling of accomplishment. Finally!

I hooked mine up at home last night. I played Battlefield 2 and Need for Speed: Most Wanted. I also got Quake 4, but have not played it yet. Maybe tonight. The graphics, digital sound and animation on this thing are all freakin' A-MA-ZING.

And today, my Xbox 360 decided to start blogging. Yes, seriously. My console has it's own blog. Go figure. I guess new posts will start showing up soon. And you thought those blogging Aibos were cool eh? Nahhh... Heh.

I have to say, this is one seriously nice gaming and home entertainment console. Projected on my wall at 120 inches, that's some serious game play, and of course DVD movies look and sound great, too. I need to fire up the Media Center PC (need to fix a hard drive issue first) and tie these things together - that will be a killer combo for sure.

(Thanks, Trevin for the blogging link)

Tuesday, 09 May 2006 01:53:14 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)
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 Saturday, 18 March 2006

Sure, it's nothing new, but this is the first flight I've been on that has Connexion by Boeing service on board. It's kinda cool - Using my WiFi card I get an access point on the plane that in turn lets me get to the Internet via satellite service.

Instant messaging works and obviously I can post to my blog. Latency is about what you'd expect from satellite service, but all in all this is a great way to get some stuff done on an eight hour flight.

By the way - I forgot to bring my digital camera with me on this trip to Germany. Go figure. If anyone has any suggestions on a digital camera to pick up over there (I'll have to figure out the power plug stuff when I get back) let me know. Can't believe I did that, heheh...

Speaking of getting stuff done, time to do some (real) work... I even got a VPN connection to the office - nice!


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Saturday, 18 March 2006 21:56:27 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Wednesday, 01 March 2006

The DualCor cPC running Windows XP Tablet PC EditionDualCor will soon release their new cPC computer. Many are poised on the edges of their seats, waiting to see more, and many also can't wait to buy.

Digital Lifestyle Magazine has a new video with lots of good footage of the device being shown on by Steve Hanley, DualCor CEO. An external battery pack with 10 DAYS of battery life. Wow - cool.

See the video here and learn more about the new device.

Note: As mentioned here before, I am a DualCor technical advisor, so I am not exactly completely unbiased, but you have to admit, no matter what - this is great stuff.


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Thursday, 02 March 2006 01:44:38 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Tuesday, 21 February 2006

Everyone knows about - and almost everyone uses - Google's great search engine. And while it's great at searching for most content, it can't do everything.

The massive, battleship-class search engines have left certain gaps in their wake, gaps that are just waiting to be filled by niche applications. One great example of such a gap is a search engine specifically for developers. I mean, have you ever tried to use Google to search for actual programming source code?

What would life/work be like with a search tool that would enable developers to search for code or for developer-centric content? It would be easy and fast, and would search all the logical places - like SourceForge and other open source repositories, developer web sites, blogs, standards bodies, documentation repositories, etc. Even better, what if it allowed you to tag and write notes about specific code, and if you could save information related to specific code for others to use, or if you could just send them a link to your annotations?

That would be wicked cool, huh?

Enter Krugle - the search engine for developers. Your wish is their command. Well, starting sometime in March it will be, anyhow. That's when they'll likely launch.

So what's this all about? The Krugle web site explains it like this:

Krugle’s role

While the development world has changed, the tools that developers use haven’t kept up. Developers spend from 20-25 percent of their time looking for code and code related information – a frustrating situation for programmers, and an expensive problem for companies.

Current search engines are okay for finding web pages, but they don't crawl or find source code, whether in open repositories or within source code control systems (SCCS). They also don't leverage the inherent structure of code to support the types of searches programmers need.

Krugle vision

Krugle answers the need for a single place to find relevant code and critical technical information. By making it easy for anyone to find, elevate and communicate, Krugle fills a critical gap in todays technology rich environment.

Krugle's summary headlines effectively tell the high-level story: Krugle enables you to 1) quickly find and review source code 2) find code related technical information and 3) save, annotate and share your search results with others... all from within a single, easy-to-use, web application.

From Wired News:

The new service joins other source-code search engines like Koders and Codefetch, but Krugle intends to differentiate itself by allowing developers to annotate code and documentation, create bookmarks and save collections of search results in a tabbed workspace. Saved workspaces have unique URLs, so developers can send an entire collection of annotated code to a co-worker just by e-mailing a link.

In the future, the company plans to offer an enterprise edition of the software for use inside companies, to enable large teams of developers to better share code. That should be very interesting - something I'd love to get my hands on, for sure.

Check out all the details and some screenshots here, and sign up to find out when it's available by providing your email address here.

(via tech.memeorandum)


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Tuesday, 21 February 2006 07:25:28 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Thursday, 09 February 2006

The DualCor cPC running Windows XP Tablet PC EditionRecently, I was approached by DualCor, a company that is working now on the release their cPC product, about serving on their newly-formed board of expert technical advisors. I had a conversation with the company's CEO, Steve Hanley, and was impressed with what they're doing. Their product line is of great interest to me, so I accepted. I'm honored to be on the advisory board and to have an opportunity to provide input as they launch and continue to develop a very interesting product.

I'll probably write on this weblog about the DualCor products - in fact I can't imagine not doing so. I've already written one brief entry about the cPC device (but that was actually before DualCor approached me about their advisory board). Since I'm now on their board and have a formal relationship with the company, I think it's important to say so here - full disclosure and all.

All that aside - I'm truly excited to use the new cPC device. Windows XP Tablet PC Edition and Windows Mobile OS on one device. Phone, too. Dual processors, a gig of RAM, and fast, fast, fast...

Learn more at http://www.DualCor.com and see my past post here. And there's a c|net video from CES about the cPC here.

Friday, 10 February 2006 02:23:50 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Saturday, 04 February 2006

The power went out at my house last night, due to a rather impressive wind storm. I haven't heard howling wind like that - well - I guess since I live in Missouri. And that was usually due to a tornado.

Anyhow, the power's been out at my place for like 8 hours, and driving down the road into town was a lot like driving through an ocean of tree branches - quite literally. So now I'm in town at Starbucks. 

It was pitch-black dark when I was trying to get ready to leave (had a early doc appointment), and I found that - in classic geek fashion - I have not yet bought a generator (procrastination and cost aversion), and my flashlights (all three) were dead. But of course they were...

So much for the classic, common sense emergency plans. What to do? Well, I have made all these investments in geeky stuff over the past few years, and there's a couple devices I carry around for work. So, what are the Real Geek Tools that can save you in a blackout?

Well, actually, there's just one: The Blackberry 8700.

In the pitch black, a little blinking red light told me not only that I had mail, but also where the device was located. I grabbed it, rolled the thumb-wheel, and voila! Instant night-light! Seriously, the 8700 spills enough light to illuminate the area around you quite well. Up stairs, down hallways, you name it. It's bright when it needs to be.

And it's a phone. And a loud alarm clock. And an email client. And a chat client for everyone else you know who's bumping their heads into walls who has a Blackberry. Go ahead, call your local public utility, check in with them and ask when the hell the power's gonna be back on. You can't watch your TV or use the computer to surf the net or anything, so email is nice. Oh wait - but you can surf the web! Ahhh, Blackberry you rock my wind-swept world. Or something. Yeah. Anyhow, everything works.

If you don't have a Blackberry 8700 and you live in an area where the power goes out with any frequency, you just don't know what you're missing. It's your one-stop-blackout-shop.

Update: The power came back on at 4:10 p.m. Power lines were down all over the place, and it's amazing actually that they got the power back up so fast, considering the damage that was done. Nice job, Columbia River PUD.

Saturday, 04 February 2006 14:31:50 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Friday, 03 February 2006

UPDATE! SuitSat1 is not dead - it's just transmitting at a low power. From Bil Munsil comes the following info:

"SuitSat1 is still alive and ham operators and other folks all around the world are receiving the audio, telemetry and SSTV picture.

"Go to http://www.aj3bu/blog/ to listen in."

So, they tossed an empty spacesuit out of the International Space Station earlier today, and it's out there orbiting the planet, but the radio transmitter they stuck in there that many were hoping they'd be able to listen to on their police scanners apparently went dead.

From SpaceWeather.com:

Space is cold - apparently too cold for SuitSat's batteries. The Earth-orbiting spacesuit stopped transmitting shortly after it was thrown overboard from the International Space Station on Feb. 3rd. Probable cause: lack of power.

This doesn't mean that SuitSat was a failure. The experimental satellite was "launched" to answer questions such as "Can a spacesuit-satellite function without internal temperature controls?" The answer, apparently, is "no." Next-generation SuitSats will take this into account.

SuitSat will continue to orbit Earth for weeks, spiraling slowly into the atmosphere. Stay tuned for information about seeing SuitSat in the night sky.

Visit http://spaceweather.com for updates.

Saturday, 04 February 2006 04:09:26 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Saturday, 28 January 2006

If you're a geek and you don't know what Gnomedex is, you're truly missing out on something amazing. It's an annual conference, spawned from the brain of Chris Pirillo, and it's an event where a whole slew of the ultimate geeks and even some nerds gather and talk about all kinds of cool stuff. For example, last year IE7 was demo'ed for the first time at Gnomedex, where the IE team announced and showed off RSS integration in the browser and Longhorn/Vista OS. And many, many other interesting presentations were made. But most importantly, the people you meet are awesome.

There are 300 seats in the main hall. 100 are already sold. If you're going (or think you might be), act now! If you know a true geek and want to give him or her a great gift, a Gnomedex ticket and a trip up to Seattle is a terrific thing to do for someone.

Be there and be square. Word.

Sunday, 29 January 2006 03:25:51 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Sunday, 08 January 2006

HP ScanJet 4CIf you happen to have a HP ScanJet 4C lying around, check out this page and see if you can get it to play classical music for ya. Apparently there's a not-so-well-known command that plays "Fur Elise" using the ScanJet's motor. Cool.

Video of the scanner music is here (it's been removed from the original site)

(props to Dave M for the link)

Monday, 09 January 2006 00:54:25 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Friday, 06 January 2006

WLMes_BetaI have exactly four invitations available [Note: ALL INVITATIONS HAVE BEEN TAKEN - I WILL UPDATE THIS POST WHEN MORE ARE AVAILABLE] for people who would like to get and use the beta of Windows Live Messenger (that's the new name for MSN Messenger v8.0 - it's part of the whole Live family of app services that Microsoft's rolling out).

If you haven't seen it, it's a lot like MSN Messenger combined with the look and feel of an ice cream cone (I mean that in a nice way), with a whole slew of new and enhanced features/functionality - like a UI revamp, a new thing called sharing folders and Internet voice calling.

So, anyhow, the invitations - it's first come, first served. Once they're gone, they're gone - and I only have four left. Please send me an email to make your request (email is greg-at-greghughes.net), and be sure to indicate which email address you want me to send the invitation to. It would be nice if you would also tell me who you are and a little about yourself. You know, that whole community thing.

If you want to find out more about Live Messenger, check out the team's blog here.


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Friday, 06 January 2006 18:54:17 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Saturday, 24 December 2005

SantaTrackGEarthLooks like Santa's got himself a gmail account, and the Google Earth team has been working with him to set up a live map tracking capability for the big night. If you've got Google Earth, you can track Santa online. If you don't have it, now is a good time to grab a free copy.

Here's email from Santa that Google posted:

To: "Google Support"
From: claus@gmail.com
Subject: Naughty or Nice Layer

I love Google Earth and have been planning a big trip with it. Now I'm wondering if you've ever thought about licensing data layers for "nice" and "naughty." If interested, I've got a really good list -- I've checked it twice. Rooftop accurate data!

Let me know,
S. Claus

Google says: "While we didn't work a deal for Naughty or Nice data layers, we did negotiate the rights to track this user on his big trip. If you've already got Google Earth, you can too."

Saturday, 24 December 2005 15:43:23 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Sunday, 18 December 2005

The DualCor cPC running Windows XP Tablet PC EditionJames Kendrick's got some exclusive details on the DualCor cPC, a nifty looking mobile device that can run Windows XP for normal computing tasks, and switch to Windows Mobile 5.0 when the user needs more PDA type functions:

"The cPC sports a dual processor design, a Via 1.5 GHz processor running Windows for standard computing functions and an Intel chipset running Windows Mobile 5.0 Phone Edition for handling PDA and phone tasks. The cPC doesn't just rely on the dual processor/ OS design to innovate, it also has a passive digitizer (touch screen) running Windows XP 2005 Tablet Edition! This will provide a rich stylus-enabled experience for those times when end users are mobile and not docked."

This is a great idea - dock it and you get the keyboard experience with a monitor and all, pop it out of the dock and switch to mobile mode instantly, with an uber-smartphone. I can think of a few people who are probably going to want one of these...

Here's how DualCor puts it:

"Delivering the Holy Grail of Enterprise Mobility: 100% replication of the fully functional, fully connected, non-diluted, intra-enterprise desktop experience in a completely mobile hand-held device."

And I like the letter-opener style stylus (see the larger view of the image, above, by clicking on it).


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Sunday, 18 December 2005 23:02:11 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Monday, 21 November 2005

Holiday_lightsYou think your house decorations are awesome? Are you one of those people who tries each year to out-do your neighbors? Or are one of the out-done that suffers the effects of Mr. Uber-Decorator?

Well, no matter who you are and no matter what your motivation, I bet you've never seen a house decoration display quite like this one. Seriously, the picture at right is not even close to what the video shows. Wow, cool...

UPDATE: As it turns out, the man who built it is named Carson Williams and he lives in Mason Ohio. Apparently, the show attracted so many people that when a couple cars had an accident, the police could not get to the accident because the streets were jammed up with other cars, so Carson had to stop the display each night, at least for a while.

Here are some other links for ya:

http://www.christmaslightfinder.com/
http://www.twasthenightbefore.com/webcam-2005.htm
http://www.pensacolalights.com/
http://www.christmasutah.com/
http://www.kindlachristmas.com/Videos.asp
http://www.welovechristmaslights.com/

Tuesday, 22 November 2005 03:27:51 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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Hard core console gamers are already camping out tonight in front of Best Buy stores and other retailers hoping to get their clammy paws on a new XBOX 360 console, which are in predictably short supply at stores as the launch happens Tuesday.

And be sure to check out the XBOX360 Fanboy blog for all the latest news. Heh. Bill Gates is even going to show up at the Bellevue Best Buy store to hand out the first one and play some games with the crowd.

I'm not, like, old or anything (ugh), but I'm not as young as I once was. Still, I might wake up early (I tend to do so anyhow) and truck it on down to the local WalMart, where they have exactly ten consoles that will be on sale at 7am tomorrow. Word is the Fred Meyer store (for those not in the northwest, take WalMart and fancy it up significantly) in the next town over got seven units and will be doing a lottery for whoever is in line at 5am, then selling them when the store opens at 7am. In the city, people are lined up at Best Buy stores to get one of the 50 units that each store supposedly has.

When I stopped by the WalMart on the way home, the phone at the electronics counter was ringing off the hook. The guy at the counter just shook his head, and told me that phone's rung more than a couple hundred times today with people asking about the XBOX 360 console.

So here are the real questions we're all wondering about:

  • How many units shipped for launch?
  • When will the truckloads of consoles hit the stores? Should we start a pool?
  • Is this possibly a planned shortage thing, or is the supply really that low?
  • What will they be selling for on eBay tomorrow afternoon?

I dunno... I know I'll be buying one of these, but I'm not quite sure if I'll be getting up bright and early to scrape the windshield and stand in the sub-freezing temperatures to gamble on something I might not walk away with. Heheh... Maybe I am getting old.

Tuesday, 22 November 2005 00:15:58 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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Engadget Holiday Gift GuideThat infamous and terrific gadget-lover's blog, Engadget, has launched it's Engadget Holiday Gift Guide for this holiday season at http://holidaygiftguide.engadget.com/.

We know sorting through the thousands of gadgets on the market right now can be a bit of a pain for anyone doing some shopping, so we’ve gotten together our annual Engadget Holiday Gift Guide in order to help make sense of what’s worth dropping some coin on this year.

Even though online shopping means no one really has an excuse anymore not to buy early, we’re going to be running up our gift suggestions once a day until December 24th, so high-tail over to
holidaygiftguide.engadget.com for the latest! And be sure to check back often, as we’ll be posting a variety of gift suggestions sure to please the full range of recipients everyone’s got, from nerds-extraordinarie to Mr. and Mrs. Enduser.

NOTE: These products are selected by the Engadget editors, not Best Buy, and we didn’t check to see whether they’re for sale at Best Buy or not.

That Sony VAIO XL1 Media Center PC is lookin' pretty nice...

Monday, 21 November 2005 23:57:32 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Saturday, 12 November 2005

If you already have a bunch of XBOX games, you've likely been wondering what's the dealio with the new console? Will you be able to play your old original XBOX games on the new XBOX 360? If so, will they play better? Will they be displayed in HD?

Well, Microsoft has posted the official backward-compatibility list of games you'll be able to play on the new console when it launches on November 22nd. There's also a Q&A page that answers a lot of questions about backward compatibility and how the legacy games will work. It looks like the list will likely grow over time, so you can check back to see if more games get added.

As of the time I am posting this, there are 207 titles on the list. Not too shabby, and definitely more than I expected.

And - even bigger news - every game title on the list will be up-scaled to HD resolutions of 720p and 1080i and will use the 360's anti-aliasing engine. Wow, that's great news! Yes, it's up-scaling, but the end result is better game experience on the old titles when using the new hardware. Nice. To do backward compatibility, you'll need a hard drive accessory (which is an option for the less-expensive "Core" XBOX 360 package, and is included in the premium package. 

Microsoft notes that: "A software emulator is required for each original Xbox game you play on your Xbox 360™ console. Please check back for more details as we approach the launch date."

From the Q&A page come these useful nuggets of information:

Xbox.com: How is your backward compatibility solution going to work?

Todd: As you’ve heard from us before, backward compatibility on Xbox 360 is done through software. Now that we’ve solved the technical challenge and the emulator is working, we’re certifying each original Xbox title by hand to run on Xbox 360.

What I’m really proud to tell you and your readers is that it’s easy to get the emulation software, and it’s free. We’ll give gamers a choice—you can get the latest software updates from Xbox Live, burn a CD from xbox.com or sign up on Xbox.com for a CD that can be delivered to your home at a nominal shipping and handling fee. Once you get the CD, put it in your Xbox 360 and you’re ready to go.

Xbox.com: Will there be any benefits to playing original Xbox games on my Xbox 360 console?

Todd: Absolutely. One of the great things about gaming on Xbox 360 is the satisfaction of knowing that every game will be playable in high definition. We are now proud to reveal that this extends to the original Xbox games as well. Every original Xbox game will be upscaled to 720p and 1080i, and will take advantage of Xbox 360’s anti-aliasing capabilities, delivering a picture that is clearer and crisper than anything available on Xbox.

UPDATE: Rory comments on the slashdot comments on the XBOX 360 backward compatibility announcement. Slashdot readers were typically (and predictably) assinine, and Rory is his typical genius self.

Saturday, 12 November 2005 17:24:38 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Friday, 11 November 2005

I've spent way too much time in the past 24 hours driving my cat absolutely crazy with a little laser pointer. It's hilarious to watch her chase that bright red dot all over the room, across the floor and up walls and around/over furniture. But hey, it's great exercise. Heh.

I got the little laser pointer with my new holography book that recently arrived in the mail. I decided recently to give the one form of photography I've not yet done a try. The rest of the needed materials are on order, will be here before too long.

I've wanted to make holograms since I was a kid. My dad's a physicist and he has mostly always worked with lasers in some shape or form (and he still does today). I remember when I was a kid and he brought a laser home one night and showed me how it worked. I think he explained the inner workings, too, but that night I was amazed by what I saw. I was completely hooked and since then have been fascinated with them. I still enjoy learning about them. Add to that several years of professional photography experience, and - well - this is just a natural when-I-get-around-to-it hobby for me.

The book I just received is called Shoebox Holography, and I ordered a good, inexpensive laser pointer with the book. The book is very good, and any teachers or students looking to use holography for school projects would find it excellent and easy to understand, as well as quite complete in its explanations. Recommended.

But the cat's getting locked out of the room when I make holograms. Something about that combination seems unworkable.

Friday, 11 November 2005 21:39:47 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Sunday, 30 October 2005

HO-LY CRR-AP!!

Okay, so... When Microsoft says the XBOX 360 is a whole new level of gaming machine, they're serious.

I just played a couple shooters on a XBOX 360 game console and that's it, I'm sold. The graphics are GREAT. The visuals make the gameplay amazing, and it's clear the processing and video power is extreme. Add to that the Media Center connections and, well... Wow.

If you want to get your hands on one, go to the Best Buy in Beaverton, Oregon on Cedar Hills Blvd. Apparently, at least according to the sales guy there, that store is the second one to get a working display setup (the first one was a WalMart in California, he said). Some Microsoftie walked in with a bunch of boxes, set up the display, and just left. "No one knew what to do!" said the Best Buy kid. Heh. Cool.

The crowd was excited. A sign is taped to the end cap where the 360 resides that says "5 minutes, please." The crew of giddy people (mostly adults by the way) quietly contained themselves and politely took turns splattering people with their virtual firearms. It pretty much rocked. Ooohs and Aahhhhs abound.

Check it out if you can. I'll try to post some pics in the next day or two if I can get back there. This was the first day in months I didn't have my camera with me, go figure.

Sunday, 30 October 2005 22:41:55 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Saturday, 29 October 2005

Let's just put it out on the table, get it over with and relieve ourselves of the emotional pain associated with holding in such a terrible secret for so long. It's time to let it out of the bag and to get honest with the rest of the world. We focus so much attention on expensive geek gadgets, software and hardware. There's a reason, too.

The truth is this:

The best thing about WiFi, laptops, long-lasting batteries, IM, email, Skype and BlogJet is that you can sit on the toilet and do everything there that you can do from the office, the couch or the desk. Email. IM your friends. Record a podcast (toilet noise on podcasts is considered funny). Write software that will be used by everyone under the sun. And yes, even surf the pr0n if that's your thing. Move from the couch to the toilet to the counter (you do wash your hands, right?) back to - you guessed it - the couch.

Even better, no one knows. Until now, that is.

You know it's true. Stop pretending.

There. It's out. Don't you feel better now?

Oh and dude, by the way - your keyboard is freakin' gross.

(and since you're already asking - no, I did not post this from the toilet...)

Saturday, 29 October 2005 21:46:34 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)
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 Friday, 28 October 2005

Take these industry needs:

  • Standardize hardware
  • Make computers secure
  • Do more with less
  • Interoperate

Decide they're important to you. Then set up over 400 servers of all types, and install lots of Unix and lots of Linux. And do all this at a Large Software Company in Redmond.

Then get the guy who runs the place to speak to a crowd about his views on the whole deal, and record it, and post it to the web.

And then I can link to it, because it's interesting and because the speaker is really quite good. You should check it out if you're interested in the Windows vs. Linux or open source vs. whatever debates.

Bill Hilf is a Director in Microsoft's Platform Strategy organization leading the Linux and Open Source Software technology group.

This session offers a look at Linux and Open Source Software from the Microsoft Linux/Open Source Technology Analysis Center. Bill Hilf walks through the Open Source stack, including the Linux kernel, and discusses trends in the market place and provides perspective on how Microsoft views Linux and Open Source software.


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Friday, 28 October 2005 23:52:44 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)
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 Saturday, 24 September 2005

Hacked_stickerA long, long time ago, I ripped apart my Series 1 TiVo PVR and put in a couple 120GB hard drives. In the end I got an obscenely huge number of hours of recording time, plus I added an ethernet card so a phone line's not needed to get programming info, and then I did some other fun "hacking."

Anyhow, I woke up this morning and found out my trusty modified TiVo was misbehaving badly. Or maybe it's just sick - It had a choppy image and sound on both live TV and recordings, even on the menu systems you can hear the drive inside moving between glitchy animation pauses on the screen, and it's exhibiting generally sluggish, choppy behavior. So, I figured I'd sacrifice everything on it (it's practically full - maybe another cause of the problem, who knows?) and I did a delete and reset through the TiVo's menu system.

That was at about 7am. The system restarted and the screen read, "Clearing and deleting everything. This will take an hour." It's after 2pm now and the screen hasn't changed. Seem like either the system assumed it has a 20GB hard drive in it still, or the hard drive(s) are having problems. But, it sounds like it's still methodically plugging away, so I'll let it go for a while longer and just see what happens.

Anyone else been through this? Any ideas? I've had this TiVo since they first came out, and it's served me well, but I'm also thinking maybe it's time to pick up a Series 2 TiVo and open it up and do some more PVR hacking.

Saturday, 24 September 2005 17:46:54 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)
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 Tuesday, 20 September 2005

Sling1Scoble posted something that's had my attention all evening (well, off and on anyhow - I'm easily distracted). Have you seen the Slingbox from Sling Media? It's may just be the perfect gadget for me. Think something along the lines of a Media Center extender (note: it's not one of those, just try to think along those lines), only instead it extends any TV image to pretty much any computer anywhere you have a fast connection to the Internet.

"The Slingbox is a compact and elegantly designed, state-of-the-art electronic device that connects to the back of your TV. It redirects, or “placeshifts,” the TV signal from your cable box, satellite receiver, or digital video recorder (DVR) to your computer or laptop of choice, no matter your location — so long as you have a high-speed Internet connection."

It's something close to pure simplicity, too: Plug it in, hook it up, install the SlingPlayer software on your PC, and BAM! You're controlling and watching your TV, DVR, set top box or whatever you use from your computer, wherever you may be.

It's for PCs now, but more is coming very soon:

"In the coming months, SlingPlayer software will be available for select PDAs, smart phones, and Macintosh computers and will be fully compatible with the Slingbox."

You can check it out at:

http://www.slingmedia.com

And then, of course, there's Orb, for some of the same people who are interested in Slingbox (the geeky ones who are not looking for a plug-and-go solution since Orb uses your home PC and a tuner card), and it's especially nice for those who have Windows MediaCenter Edition):

http://www.orb.com

Wednesday, 21 September 2005 01:38:56 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)
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 Saturday, 10 September 2005

Hey, if all else fails, boot to a USB drive, right? Only problem is, who wants to haul around an external hard drive?

Actually, Tom's Hardware has an article on installing and running Windows XP on a USB flash drive. Windows in your pocket - it doesn't get much easier than that eh?

Boot up, access the Windows install and do whatever you need. Great idea.

Notes from the article:

  • A USB flash drive with at least 256 MB of storage is enough for the uses described in this article. Additional system tools or applications require more space. The upper bound limits for storage in this case is 2 GB - a byproduct of the tool's use of FAT16 for the local file system.
  • Most new motherboards recognize USB flash drives as valid boot media. But conventional motherboards that are more than two years old aren't likely to boot from a USB flash drive. But in many cases, this omission can be remedied through a BIOS update for that board.
  • 1.5 GB of unused disk space is the maximum needed for the tool to do its job, particularly if you want to pre-install Service Pack 2 and RAM disk capabilities. 190 MB of unused space is all that's needed to use PE Builder and the applications described in this article, however. Additional plug-ins will increase storage requirements, as will additional tools or software.
  • 512 MB of USB flash drive storage space is needed only if boot-up works from a RAM disk. Otherwise, 256 MB is big enough.
  • Access to a USB 2.0 port is not mandatory, though booting with a USB 1.1 port takes about five times longer.
  • A Windows XP Setup CD works fine as a foundation for PE Builder to generate the USB flash drive's contents.

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Sunday, 11 September 2005 01:39:32 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)
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This is how exciting my weekends are. Here I'm on IM with my next door neighbor this fine Saturday morning (which is weird enough, in an antisocial sort of way, now that I think about it):

     Linux-geeks

Yeah, yeah whatever.   I have yet to see a "good chat client" that I truly want to use on Linux (we were discussing IM clients). Don't get me wrong - Linux is great. I have a couple of secret (I do have a rep to uphold ya know...) little Linux-y things going on. 

(And yeah, I know - my typing sucks)

Saturday, 10 September 2005 13:56:58 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)
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 Saturday, 13 August 2005

WirelesspclockLast year, I picked up a couple Wireless PC Lock devices, to see if they'd work in a business environment to control workstation security. What I found was that I'd purchased what seemed to be some cool hardware, packaged with really crappy software. In fact, the software was so bad, it made the hardware pretty much useless. Useless doesn't help in the security world, so I was disappointed overall.

Then about a week later, I discovered that Bryan Batchelder, another security type, had also picked one up, reverse engineered how it works, and written his own software for it. Bryan's software was a vast improvement - measurable in orders of magnitude - over the software that shipped with the hardware.

Then Scott Hanselman, a coworker and friend of mine, found the device and software and decided to contact Bryan and work with him to use take it to the next level, using the new .NET Framework v2.0, to control and take advantage of the hardware.

And today, a new article was published that Scott wrote for hobbiest programmers, as an installment in his excellent "Some Assembly Required" series on Microsoft's MSDN Coding4Fun site. The article is entitled, "Is that you? Writing Better Software for Cool USB Hardware." In this edition, Scott explains how the new software, built from Bryan's base, is made and how it can be extended by anyone who wants to (since it's an open source program published on SourceForge).

UsbwirelesssecuritytrayI've installed the new software myself (after downloading and installing the .NET v2.0 Beta 2 framework) and have it running, and I can tell you this: The new software really shows how cool the hardware is, as opposed to the original software, which made the hardware look sloppy and bad.

The hardware consists of a USB stick (it looks much like a USB storage device) and a small round button you can hang on your keychain (or wherever). With the new software, a tiny green icon appears in the Windows status notification area (the tray) and flashes to show you it's getting a heartbeat from the key fob button. If you turn the button transmitter off (it lasts for-freakin-ever on one battery, mine's almost a year old and it's still going strong), the software on the compute notices and does whatever it's configured to do. The image below gives you an idea of the things it can do out of the box, and it's plug-in-able, so if you want something else, you can go build it.

Hmmm, gotta go see if I can learn enough to be able to write a plugin now. 

     Usbwirelesssecurity

Saturday, 13 August 2005 15:40:11 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)
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 Monday, 08 August 2005

At http://wigle.rustyredwagon.com/ you can search for an address and see a whole list of WiFi connections mapped by war drivers from all over.

I noticed no one is war driving out in my ultra-remote neck of the woods, though.

And they say there's LOTS of WiFi in Portland - this pic proves it (click for full size - and check out the error, heh):

Wifimapkiller


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Monday, 08 August 2005 19:03:33 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)
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Astronaut Steve Robinson has done the first Podcast from space... Say what you want about Podcasting. You have to admit that when someone does it from the space shuttle, that's pretty big deal.

And to think a year ago nobody had ever heard of podcasting...

Listen here (MP3)

"At any rate I will close this very brief first podcast from space with a greeting to all Earthings and a thank you for your interest and support. Whether you support the space program or not, you're learning from it. You're learning from it the very moment you hear this and think about what we're doing. And I think that learning is what looking over the horizon is all about, and don't forget that learning can be exciting and fun, too, because that's certainly what this mission has been all about."

Monday, 08 August 2005 16:54:15 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)
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 Friday, 15 July 2005

Come geek out this weekend. Bring a friend, your audio gear and a camera (or just yourself if that's easier), and lets do some podcasting and videoblogging as the Podcast and Videoblog Roadshow comes to Portland, Oregon. It happens Saturday at noon downtown.

Podcasting, videoblogging, audioblogging, etc. Get creative. Fun stuff. 

All the obligatory W's: 

See ya there.

Saturday, 16 July 2005 03:20:00 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)
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 Thursday, 14 July 2005

System Administrator SongChris points out a funny song that describes with uncanny accuracy that which is the SysAdmin. Check out The System Administrator Song, at Three Dead Trolls (cool site by the way). Several video formats are available as well as an MP3 file.

You probably know these guys from their "Welcome to the Internet Help Desk" skit. Wow, Wes has really grown his hair out, eh?

Next time you cuss your system administrator, stop and listen to this song or watch the video. Be nice, and they will too. Heh.

You'll likely laugh. And no drinking soda while you watch - or you'll be sorry.

Click here to watch.


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Thursday, 14 July 2005 20:28:37 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)
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 Tuesday, 12 July 2005

Update: Part two of this review is here. Part three is here.

Just in time, since my old laptop's hard drive just started making shhhpppppttt-CLACK!!! sounds (sure sign of impending hard drive death and doom), an IBM X41 Tablet PC arrived on my desk this morning for testing and evaluation. I'm doing more and more travelling, so a single-machine solution with killer battery life and compact size is of interest to me nowadays.

Anyhow... So I've spent the last half a day between meetings and conference calls with a new X41T. That and backing up the old machine.

So what's it like? Well, let me just say this: "Finally – a Tablet PC that really makes me really want to have and use a Tablet PC."

Keep in mind, I’ve been using Tablet PCs ever since the TC1000 came out a couple or so years ago. Since then, I have primarily been using an Acer C300-series Tablet. That’s the one with the sick hard drive. A week or so ago I wrote about past experiences and how much I use the Acer machine. I also wrote about my thoughts spawned by an Engadget article that asked "How would you change the Tablet PC?"

While the X41T doesn't have all the things in my wish list, what it does have is quality and well-put-together.

Initial thoughts:

  • This one has the biometric fingerprint reader. Cool, and it actually works.
  • The red eraser/nub/pointing device will take some serious getting used to. Touchpad would be better.
  • /me likes the keyboard - ThinkPad keyboards rock.
  • Nice display, wide viewing angle, matte finish reduces glare nicely but doesn't sacrifice contrast. Needs to be higher than 1024x768 resolution, but I'll live.
  • It's really light and really sturdy. Even with the extended battery I have on it. In fact the 8-cell battery makes it easy to handle when walking around with it, due to the ergonomic shape (OMG did really I just type "ergonomic???" Aaagh!)
  • Seems to be speedy and snappy in terms of processing and computing power. I have a gig of RAM in this one.
  • The hard drive is this goofy new short/stubby model, not something you can easily replace with another available standard notebook hard drive.
  • Overall, impressive!

I'll have to live and work with this thing for a while, and then document some more thoughts. For now, the honeymoon has started and so far it's a lot of fun. But don't read anything into that.

More to come...


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Tuesday, 12 July 2005 22:29:41 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)
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 Monday, 27 June 2005

Steel Battalion ControllerI got a wild hair a week or two ago and picked up a Steel Battalion game and uber-controller on eBay.

Oh. My. God.

Wow...

This game - and it's incredible game controller setup (detail here, image at right) - is pretty darned cool.

At lineofcontact.net, they essentially say that Steel Battalion and Steel Battalion: Line of Contact are both "daunting games to be a novice at, even for very experienced gamers." That's an understatement. 

Line of Contact is the XBOX Live multiplayer sequel to the original single-player game: "The level of complexity entailed in the game is on a par with PC based massively multiplayer role playing games, but with a challenging controller interface, live voice-based communication and a stiff penalty for inattentiveness (eject or lose your pilot)."

Line of Contact Screen-ShotIt's an awesome simulator game, where you "pilot" a futuristic vertical tank (VT - basically like in Mechwarrior) and the controller has (get this) something like 40 freakin' buttons, and they all actually work! Mastering this game will be nearly impossible. So sweet!

I hooked it all up this evening, and immediately failed to make the thing drive very well, so I focused instead on shooting the heck out of stuff. And since I did not eject in time, my player got completely wiped out. Yep - you have to eject if your VT gets shot up bad enough, in order to keep your player alive and available for the next round. Talk about simulators, heheh...

If you've never seen this game, especially if you like simulators, you should check it out any chance you get. Heck - Call me and drop by (if you happen to be in the Middle of Nowhere anytime soon), I'll let you play this one.

It's a great addition to my pile of Microsoft XBOX stuff.

Tuesday, 28 June 2005 02:20:19 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)
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 Saturday, 25 June 2005

Uh oh – GoogleFight is something I’d already forgotten about, somehow… http://www.googlefight.com

Someone make it stop. Three of us are here are running battles to see who wins, Greg Hughes or Brandon Watts? Matt Hartley or Brandon Watts? (by the way, Matt’s blog here and Brandon’s blog here) Hmmm…

More fights:

Heh…

Saturday, 25 June 2005 21:04:56 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)
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If you live around Portland, Oregon or somewhere kinda-sorta nearby so you can get here, and if you're interested in coding, put the PDX Code Camp event on your calendar. It's free, but you need to register so they can plan for you to be there.

What is Code Camp?

Code Camp is a new type of community event where developers talk with—and learn from—fellow developers. All are welcome to attend and speak. Code Camps have been wildly successful, and we’re going to bring that success to Portland.

An original Code Camp organizer, Thom Robbins, wrote a six-point manifesto: Code Camps are (1) by and for the developer community; (2) always free; (3) community developed material; (4) no fluff – only code; (5) community ownership; and (6) never occur during working hours.

What can I expect at the Portland Code Camp?

Two full days of talking about code with fellow developers, on the scenic Reed College campus. Sessions will range from informal “chalk talks” to presentations. There will be a mix of presenters, some experienced folks, for some it may be their first opportunity to speak in public. And we are expecting to see people from throughout the Pacific Northwest region.

To create a little structure, we’ve proposed a variety of one- and two-day tracks including Hobbyists, Mobile and Tablet PC, Architecture and Patterns, Databases, Web Development, Client Development, Games Development, Tools, Methodology, XML and Web, and “Alternative Lifestyles” (Ruby on Rails, Python, Squeak, etc.)

Watch this site for more details and schedule as we firm things up.


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Saturday, 25 June 2005 19:18:14 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)
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Phillip Torrone (often known simply as “pt”) is a geek’s geek. He’s been showing various hacks and stuff between presentations here at the Gnomedex conference.

This guy could do a conference on his own if he wanted to. He’s funny, likable and has lots of fun ideas. I like the hands-on kind of things, the practical stuff. Not that all of it’s actually practical or anything, but even if it’s just goofing around, it’s nifty.

He’s done a few 15–minute demos showing all the stuff you can do with a hacked Playstation Portable. He showed how you can modify a eBook reader with new firmware to break the bad DRM they put on it back in the day, so it can be a usable device today. He even has an old-skoool analog phone (with a mechanical bell and all) that has GSM phone guts built in, and there’s more to come.

But hey – you don’t have to be here to see this cool stuff. You can see pt’s stuff in/on Make: magazine (an O’Reilly thing), and there’s a Make:blog site, as well. I am subscribed to both. Highly recommended. If pt is publishing, it’s cool and fun. You should go there.

Check it out: [Magazine (subscribe) | Podcast | Blog]


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Saturday, 25 June 2005 16:44:14 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)
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 Tuesday, 21 June 2005

I'll be heading up to Seattle on Thursday (one of my favorite cities and a quick 2.5 hour drive from my place) where I'll be catching up with all sorts of friends and people I have not seen for some time at Gnomedex 5.0, a confluence of geeks from around the world.

Email me if you'll be there and want to meet/catch up - greg@greghughes.net - or call me on my cell - 503-970-1753. I'm arriving Thursday afternoon at around 4 or so.

It's going to be quite a get-together this year - the schedule looks like the makings of a great show, and I hear there are some as-yet unannounced things that should gain some attention.

I'll be blogging some of the fun stuff that happens there. With so many interesting and cool people from so many interesting and cool places/companies, I'll have to fill this weblog up just to be able to remember it all when it's over with.

Podbot_geffectsInteresting Gnomedex link of the day: Podcasting ROBOT to be released at Gnomedex

Heh. Cool if real, funny even if not.

Wednesday, 22 June 2005 02:57:35 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)
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 Saturday, 18 June 2005

Darn it all! I'm wishing I was in Ohio this weekend. Why? Because this weekend is the Duct Tape Festival and it's taking place in Avon, Ohio.

Everything duct tape. I mean, what could be better than that???

Check it out at http://www.ducttapefestival.com

Sunday, 19 June 2005 00:14:29 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)
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 Sunday, 29 May 2005

Chris_segwayMy friend Chris rode a Segway for the first time this weekend. I still have not ridden one myself, so it's interesting to see what someone like Uber-Geek Chris can do one one first time out.

Rumor is that there is a handle-less one in the works, and the off-road models might be interesting to me, since I live in the sticks. Heck, if you're an engineer type, you can even build a generic one, if you like.

Go Chris, go.

(follow link to video)

Sunday, 29 May 2005 22:22:29 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)
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Tons of high-definition Windows Media video files with some pretty amazing footage from a whole slew of upcoming XBOX 360 games are available for download over at Microsoft.

This is going to be a great console - the possibilities are fun to think of... Hook it up with Longhorn's version of Media Center and you have a super-cool HD Media Center extender. Great games, too of course.

Check out the videos. Amazing. Just make sure you have a big fat pipe for downloading or be prepared to hurry up and wait. These files are 720p hi-def format, so they're pretty darned big, but super cool looking.


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Sunday, 29 May 2005 19:35:45 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)
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 Saturday, 28 May 2005

My friend and co-worker, Scott Hanselman, has started writing a monthly column appearing on the MSDN Coding4Fun site called "Some Assembly Required." He's done two hobbyist programming articles, one where he outputs "what's playing" info from Windows Media Player or iTunes to a small LCD panel, and a second where he retrieves weather information not only from a Web Service, but also from a local "Phidget" analog thermometer.

The whole idea behind Coding4Fun is that there's a whole group of people out there who are not programmers, yet are interested in learning how to do some cool, small, practical things. Hobbyists - the "occasional" programmer, who likes to learn and create things for fun.

I am one of those types of people - Coding4Fun lets people like me learn and play a little, without requiring regular attendance at night classes.

It's also an effective way of rejuvenating perhaps one of the most important reasons our most talented programmers got to be so good in the first place: It was a fun hobby that eventually turned into a talent and a great career. I got involved with computers and programming in Apple BASIC when I was a kid for three reasons: First, because they were around me. Second, because people around me made it interesting. Third, because I had how-to resources that helped me get familiar and started creative process flowing.

We're going to need new talented programmers, designers, architects and testers from now until the end of time - it's not a need that will ever go away, it will only get bigger. So, this is a great resource for kids and adults alike who are looking to learn something new and enjoy themselves along the way.

After all, take one look at the numbers: Learn what the fastest-growing college major is, and you'll see why I say creating programs like this is a good thing, and why you should spread the word and encourage the young-un's to get involved.

I'm not a programmer these days (by choice ), I work on the other side of the fence managing information technology, operations and security. But the programming skills I learned when I was younger had a direct impact on my career choices, and has had a profound impact on my ability to do what I do every day and to understand the people I work around. My interest as a hobbyist today stems from my past experience. I apply that interest and experience when making changes and tweaks to my blogging software. I create little things that help me do my work. More importantly, I can talk enough of the talk to understand what a programmer means when they need to explain something to me.  And just as important, I know what I don't know, and when to get out of the programmer's way.

At any rate, if you know someone who says they wish they could learn a little more about .NET programming just for fun but they don't know where to begin, encourage them to check out MSDN Coding4Fun. It might just help them get started.


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Saturday, 28 May 2005 21:27:10 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)
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 Sunday, 22 May 2005

Hahahah, okay as long as we're at it, this is a pretty funny flash short film, from the Organic Trade Association:

Storewars

(Note - I saw the real movie tonight and it was pretty okay I thought... Rory's review is pretty close to what I thought, although I guess my expectations weren't quite as high as his, and I enjoyed it despite the weaknesses.)

Sunday, 22 May 2005 05:29:48 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)
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 Saturday, 21 May 2005

Challenge Darth Vader to 20-questions in "The Sith Sense" and watch him read your mind:

Vader3

The force is strong with this one. Of course, he's got some help...

Vader2

Burger King's at it again - well done.

(thanks Chris)

Sunday, 22 May 2005 04:56:49 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)
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 Saturday, 14 May 2005

Whiteboxrobot1Here's something else for Scoble to pimp Windows with: White Box Robotics' PC-BOT Model 914 is a home robot that incorporates "vision-based navigation, object recognition, speech synthesis and speech recognition - all in an easy-to-use yet powerful point-and-click graphical user interface."

It looks remarkably droid-like, and actually it's kinda really nifty and cool. Engadget points out that it runs Microsoft Windows (98SE/ME/2000/XP according to the specs page). And the craziest part? Only $1,199.00 each!

"The White Box Robotics 914 PC-BOT defines the new standard for the personal robot, by fusing two technologies - PCs and mobile robots - into one empowering platform.

"Inspired by art and fueled by science, the 914 PC-BOT gives enthusiasts, students and OEMs alike the opportunity to create revolutionary, functional, low cost mobile robots from off-the-shelf computer parts.

"Tinker with it. Master its intricacies. The 914 was designed to be cut, drilled, painted and modified in countless ways. Create a new future. One inspired by you."

Here's the production schedule, which shows delivery is scheduled for before Christmas, but you can reserve yours today with a $299 deposit:

  • Tooling Starts: May 31
  • First 20 units verified: August 25
  • Production run complete: September 30
  • Customers receive units: November 15-30

WhiteboxrobotSEThere will also be a limited-edition "founders" model, shown at right, which will have fancy paint and a few hardware upgrades. It will sell for $1,699.00 and looks pretty cool, too.

There's also a page listing optional components, which you'll use to deck out the robot to your own tastes.

Coolio idea, nice design. Thinking about it.


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Sunday, 15 May 2005 04:05:45 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)
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 Thursday, 12 May 2005

Xbox360The next version of the XBOX, called the XBOX 360, was announced today. They did this kinda lame thing for a half hour on MTV (but hey, what do you expect on that channel), but the device itself looks really awesome. Games, pictures, video, audio - it's a HD media center extender and game console and much more.

If you saw the MTV thing and found it lacking, check out this video. It's very good.

(found via Engadget)

UPDATE: Another preview video has hit the net.


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Geek Out | Tech
Friday, 13 May 2005 02:46:14 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)
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 Saturday, 30 April 2005

NEC's IT Guy Games: 2005 is underway - so go check it out and play.

Hardware_hurlYou can play as often as you like, and keep working to earn better scores (some of them are freaky amazing high scores). And the end of each competition period, one winner takes home a 61-inch NEC plasma display. The games run April 1 through September 30, 2005 and will be played on the following schedule:

  • Hardware Hurl April 1 – May 13
  • Projector Protector May 16 – July 1
  • Office Obstacles July 5 – August 12
  • Cube Luge August 15 – September 30

The IT guy games test the following skills:

  • keypad dexterity
  • keypad speed
  • mouse dexterity
  • mouse speed
  • visual speed/patterns
  • hand/eye coordination

Go play now - play often and play hard - Geeks go wild...

Sunday, 01 May 2005 04:13:54 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)
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 Saturday, 23 April 2005

Cokecanpolishing1727This one's making the rounds, and I thought it was cool, so here it is:

Yes, you CAN make a fire from a can of coke and a chocolate bar!

So, if you're ever stuck in the wilderness and can't find your way home, yet you happen to have (and hey, don't we all?), a Coke can and a bit of chocolate with you, have no fear - Just round up some flammable material and you have everything you'll need to start a fire and keep warm.

Or, you could just use to to wow and amaze your friends.

(via Eric Rice and Phil Torrone)

Saturday, 23 April 2005 17:56:42 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)
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 Friday, 22 April 2005

My friend Chris Pirillo and his lovely fiance Ponzi will be in town this evening, and Alex has put together a Geek Dinner this evening here in Portland. Head for Northwest and join us/them for a geeky get together:

What: Geek Dinner in Portland
Date: Friday, April 22nd
Time: 6pm
Where: Blue Moon - 432 N.W. 21st, Portland
Who is Welcome: Everyone!

Bring your friends and digital cameras, let's hang out and be - well - geeks, I guess.

Friday, 22 April 2005 12:31:02 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)
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 Wednesday, 13 April 2005

It's amazing how far we have all come.

I can sit here in the PDX (that's Portland, Oregon) airport, and in all of 10 minutes resolve a minor work crisis, post a new web page to a business web site and get it reviewed and approved, order flowers to be delivered for my mom's birthday today (Happy Birthday Mom!), sync all my email into Outlook from the office, IM with my web hosting provider (who is in the UK) about trapping email viruses, answer a few work emails, and post this blog entry.

All that thanks to free 802.11G WiFi at the airport, with a full signal and none of those get-your-email-etc registration hassles. So nice.

I have a full hour before my flight leaves (traffic was, thankfully, quite lite). Who knows what all I'll be able to get done between now and then.

It used to be that waiting at the airport meant you were completely out of touch unless you wanted to use an airport pay phone (never my favorite thing, either financially or from a hygiene standpoint). Anymore you can't help but be connected and active. I may be flying off to Reston Virginia, but my ability to communicate and stay productive is hardly affected.

It's true that there are some negative effects of always being connected. Stress from overconnectedness (ohhhhh new word, cool...) is a real thing for some people. But managed carefully and moderated successfully, it can also be a great thing.

It's a whole different world we live in today.


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Geek Out | Tech
Wednesday, 13 April 2005 19:24:42 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)
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 Tuesday, 12 April 2005

If you're in the market for a home or a place to rent, you should check out this site, which uses craigslist and Google Maps to help you search for a home. This is what web services and open APIs are all about! Thanks to Paul Rademacher for this cool, useful tool:

http://www.paulrademacher.com/housing/

To start your search, begin with your choice of city (craigslist cities are what's represented, of course) and then you choose whether you are looking to buy or rent:

Homemaps1

Next you can choose homes to view on the map, with the key information available in a list to the right. Yellow pointer icons mean the listing has pictures included. You can select your price ranges and you can sort based on price, description, location or date of listing:

Homemaps2
(click for full-sized image)

Once you have found a place you are interested in finding out more about, click the home's pointer or the link in the list, and you'll see details, along with a link to the original complete listing.

Homemaps4
(click for full-sized image)

Nice stuff. We can expect to see more and more of this sort of thing as time goes on and as services make their APIs more and more open and available to the public.

Tuesday, 12 April 2005 14:04:40 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)
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 Tuesday, 05 April 2005

Land Walker - click to enlarge

Why do I have these images from RoboCop movies going through my mind?

In case anyone's deciding what to get me for my mid-life crisis phase, one of these Land Walkers would do just fine.

This thing's cool. Who the heck has the time to sit around and think this stuff up??? Check out a demo video here.

Crazy, but pretty darn cool. Stick a super-soaker on that and it's party time.

Tuesday, 05 April 2005 17:56:14 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)
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 Wednesday, 30 March 2005

Are you a GTA game fan? Into Legos (like someone I know)?

Then this is for you.

Check out Grand Theft Auto - Lego City, in beautiful Quicktime and DivX formats.

Yeah - it's a Lego-people version of the GTA Vice City trailer...

Thursday, 31 March 2005 04:10:35 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Tuesday, 22 March 2005

Take one old Ruger 10-22 rifle, some electronics gear, a long can antenna, and some time to spare, and you too can be The Bluetooth Sniper...

Apparently, these guys built a Bluetooth rifle and managed to stand on top of buildings in downtown Los Angeles without getting corralled by the police. In the process, they were able to connect to Bluetooth devices nearly a mile away:

"As more Bluetooth devices started appearing, John said, "This building is full of Bluetooth! Look we got some Blackberries!" He also explained that, with multiple guns, it would be possible to track a single Bluetooth device as the person walked around. In less than a few minutes, twenty devices were detected—all at distances over a half mile away! We decided to quickly conclude the scan, given police activity in the area earlier in the day from a bomb scare."

Tom's Networking has the full story, with step-by-step descriptions of the creation and use of the long gun radio:


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Tuesday, 22 March 2005 06:35:57 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Sunday, 20 March 2005

A friend of mine from the online world (and big shot from audioblog.com), Eric Rice, has taken over the Engadget "airwaves" and is now hosting the Engadget podcast.

Eric's a cool guy, and it's great to have an Engadget podcast back online. It's a tough room to play to, but Eric will do well with it.

Check it out here. The Podcast feed is here.

Monday, 21 March 2005 04:05:32 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Wednesday, 16 March 2005

Chris has just announced that Gnomedex 5.0 registration has opened up. There are 300 spaces open, so sign up soon! If you've been to a previous Gnomedex, there's no need to explain the why's an how's, but for those who have not, here's a little info:

  • It's in downtown Seattle, Washington at the Bell Harbor International Conference Center  - a GREAT city and with easy access via air, car, train, or whatever.
  • It Begins Thursday June 23rd at 5:00 pm and ends Saturday June 25th at 6:00 pm.
  • Gnomedex is a great place to actually meet and talk to a variety of high-profile techies, geeks and other smart people. It's also a great place to form relationships and get cool ideas.
  • The Gnomedex blog is right here (clicky-clicky).
  • I met a good number of people face-to-face at Gnomedex last year that I am in regular contact with ever since.
  • Register here.

I'm already registered, now I just have to rework my crazy schedule!


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Geek Out | GnomeDex | Tech
Wednesday, 16 March 2005 13:05:53 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Thursday, 10 March 2005

The Game Developer's Conference is always an interesting even with lots of cool news for game geeks to get all anticipatory over.

Microsoft's released some screen caps showing off the user interface for the next-generation XBOX Guide - an entertainment gateway for users. The also describe the future XBOX experience: "games, friends, music, and more."

Screenshot 2Screenshot 3Screenshot 4

The sample images and more info are available here.

You can also listen to the keynote address by Microsoft's J Allard, in which he speaks about the next-gen XBOX:

(found via Engadget)

Thursday, 10 March 2005 13:22:47 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Monday, 07 March 2005

I'm always up for a good laugh, and today a coworker showed me a fun web site called Atom Smasher's Error Message Generator, where you can generate visual renditions of your own twisted Windows error messages.

Get a little creative with this stuff and you'll quickly find yourself participating in email threads with friends, trying to best each other in the geek-humor department.

Tuesday, 08 March 2005 05:29:37 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Sunday, 20 February 2005

Sean Alexander has posted the first "Media Center of the Week" on his weblog, Addicted to Digital Media. Phil Weber, a coworker of mine, happens to be the first featured. His MC setup, he says, has a "high spousal-acceptance" rating. Way to go Phil!

I am so far behind the 8-ball on this one. I need to finish mine off (it all works, it's just not neatly packaged yet) and take some pics when it's all done.

By the way - the next addition to my MCE setup? Virtual Laser Keyboard, baby. I wrote about it last year about this time when it was first announced, and now it's for real. Stay tuned!


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Geek Out | Tech
Sunday, 20 February 2005 17:09:02 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Tuesday, 08 February 2005

In the wow-that's-random category (yeah pun intended), Jim Wright took his new iPod shuffle, as well as three more his friends had, and made a USB RAID array with them on his Mac.

Hookup

Now that's geeking out. Not sure how useful it is, but it's cool.

[via Doc Searls]


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Geek Out | Tech
Wednesday, 09 February 2005 01:25:23 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Friday, 28 January 2005

D2x_picNikon has announced that their cool new D2X digital SLR camera will be available on February 25th, and that it will sell for a "suggested" street price of $4999.00. Hook up a GPS device to record location data. Transmit data via WiFi. Remote control the camera. Instant-on and fast shutter response time of 37ms - great improvements for low-lag operation. Flash sync at 1/250th of a second. Awesome metering. Fast continuous shooting. All nice stuff.

But there's one thing that will keep me from even considering buying this camera. And it's not the price.

It's this bit of info, gleaned from the fine print in the spec sheet:

    • Approx. 1.5x focal length in 35mm [135] format equivalent

Argh, no! I have to say, I was pretty darned surprised to find this hidden in the back of the specs list, especially since they are marketing the D2X as being capable of "5fps continuous shooting mode full size or 8fps in a 6.8MP cropped mode." Turns out the "cropped mode" means a 2x multiplier over 35mm equivalent, as opposed to non-cropped mode, which has a 1.5x multiplier.

Very sneaky. Very sucky.

At 12.4 megapixels and $5000, someone tell me why in the world camera manufacturers can't put a chip in the thing that will make it act like a real 35mm camera from the field-of-view/coverage perspective. I'd take lower effective resolution (say 8 megapixels or so?) and no multiplier at this point.

Believe it or not, to someone who was a film photographer for several years, this actually matters to me. Nothing aggravates me more about digital SLR cameras than an image that has a telephoto-style crop and a short-lens depth of field. I hate that. I have a D70 that does that. Don't get me wrong, for $1000 I like the D70 just fine. It's a consumer-grade camera, and sure I'd like it a heck of a lot more if it had a chip that would use the lens the way it was built to be used. But this camera is more than the D70 can dream of being.

So, if I am going to pay five times the cost for a better camera, put in a full-sized chip that uses the full field the lens was built to cover. Seriously.

Hey Nikon - Just so you know, I was actually ready to seriously consider spending $5000 on your new camera - but now I guess I'll just wait. Again.


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Geek Out | Tech
Saturday, 29 January 2005 03:03:59 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Monday, 17 January 2005

Hey - it’s a worth a few minutes of our collective time for the chance at a free computer. Freeminimacs.com is from the same people who ran the free iPod promotion. You do have to agree to one offer, but they are all free - minus of course a touch of your marketing info.

Go ahead let’s help each other out… freeminimacs.com

From the people who brought you the Free iPod, here's your chance to get (and this is for real) a free Mac Mini - and it's the 80GB version, too.

  • You have to sign up for one offer or service on a marketing web site. The marketing is what pays for the computers [Note: I signed up for an offer for Blockbuster's online rentals (unlimited rentals for $9.95 first month and $14.95 per month after that) and I'm dumping NetFlix, since the Blockbuster service costs a little less each month and adds two free in-store rentals a month - it's a perfect deal for me].
  • Then you have to have 10 people do the same thing.
  • Once 10 people have signed up under your referral, you get shipped you new Mac Mini.

So there you go - CLICK HERE to get started! And thanks for helping - your sign-up via a link on this page will help me get mine. Get on-board early!


The Brand New Apple Mac mini (80GB)

  • Fast G4 processor
  • Comes with 80GB harddrive
  • iLife ’05, Mac OS X v10.3 “Panther,” Quicken 2005 for Mac, Nanosaur 2, Marble Blast Gold
  • Built-in Ethernet and modem
  • Slot-loading Combo drive
  • DVI connector, VGA adapter
  • Just 6.5 inches wide and 2 inches tall
  • Weighs only 2.9 lbs


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Geek Out | Tech
Tuesday, 18 January 2005 04:42:35 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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Car_pc1

Now here ya go - awesome cool stuff. I've been spec'ing out touch screens and mobile PC cases the past few weeks, and this guy's got some serious mobile Media Center happening.

Video, pics and a great description are available on the hossweb.com site.

My own project (in design mode, not yet acquiring parts) won't be in-dash, and include GPS nav and voice commands. We'll see if I ever get around to it

Tuesday, 18 January 2005 03:17:45 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Thursday, 06 January 2005

Chris Pirillo is a well-known geek and all around goofy (and smart and good) guy. He founded Lockergnome and did a show for TechTV back before that network went straight to crap.

He’s starting his new weekly audio broadcast today, two-and-a-half hours of live talk from the Consumer Electronics Show (CES). His show’s new website is online and the live broadcast starts at 11:30am Pacific Time, but the stream is already running so jump in now. Replays available if you miss(ed) the live show, and RSS feeds are on the site for subscribing – I did.

http://www.thechrispirilloshow.com/

I am working form home today, and so I will be listening to it in the background whilst editing papers and organizing stuff. Good to see you back on the air, friend!

Thursday, 06 January 2005 17:19:10 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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The other day I was discussing the differences between geeks and nerds with someone. I said that I thought I was probably more of a geek than a nerd, and had to try to explain why there’s a difference and what those differences are.

I started to wonder if I was wrong, that maybe they’re the same, but today I think I can safely say that’s simply not true.

Hypothesis: I am a fairly prolific geek. I am not much of a nerd.

I just took this online test because Mark Orchant (theofficeweblog) was surprised at his results. He’s obviously a smart person, and came out with a pretty darn nerdy score and I was wondering what mine would be.

This test is very nerd specific – meaning it addresses things like Star Trek, graphing calculators, the periodic table, pictures of really old guys nerds would know about, and stuff like that. On a scale of 1–100, I scored 31. Click the graphic to find your score…

So there you have it – Greg is not nerdy.

What about the Geek Factor? Exactly one year ago today (hmmmm that’s kinda weird, isn’t it?), I took another online test – the “Digital IQ” test at MSNBC. I scored way off the top of the scale on that one. I also took it again this morning to refresh my memory of the questions and to see if my score had changed – it was exactly the same. In this one they use the word “nerd” in their description of “digital ace,” but I think it’s misplaced based on the questions they ask. Geek would be a better term, IMO. It’s still available online – click the image below to find out your score there.

 

Thursday, 06 January 2005 16:26:35 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Sunday, 02 January 2005

In The Seattle Times Pacific Northwest Magazine, Richard Seven writes – quite eloquently and well – about a professor at the University of Washington and his study of the connection between the information age, overload and extreme stress… Those of us caught in this world would do well to read it. I can definitely relate. I just spent a week in pretty extreme pain and without a Blackberry. I think if I can talk my boss into it, I may trade it for another device, one that’s maybe still cool and connected but less in-my-face. Besides, there are a few new ones that we need to test, so…

From the PNW Mag article:

“…Some are concerned that the need for speed is shrinking our attention spans, prompting our search for answers to take the mile-wide-but-inch-deep route and settling us into a rhythm of constant interruption in which deadlines are relentless and tasks are never quite finished.

“Scientists call this phenomenon ‘cognitive overload,’ and say it encompasses the modern-day angst of stress, multitasking, distraction and data flurries…”

(via Jason deFillippo)

Monday, 03 January 2005 05:24:22 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Thursday, 30 December 2004

Looks like Segway may have some very interesting models up its sleeve for 2005. I’ve personally assigned a certain “hey that’s cool” level of interest to Segway’s human mover thingie in the past, but honestly, there’s just no way I would even be able to think about using one.

That might be changing.

Over at Don Chalmer’s Toy Store (found via engadget of course), there are pictures of a couple new, cool looking models that are a little more up my alley – meaning they’re off-road-climber types. Click links or images below to take you to Don Chalmer’s web site:

The Centaur is a 4–wheeled Segway…

The Brand New Centaur. A four wheel Segway that climbs, turns, balances, and has its own Power Boost switch for those spots that need extra oomph. Check back often for the release dates of this amazing machine. Due out July 05. Price: $5995.00

Main_centaur1-segway

And the AT-HT is pretty much the standard Segway HT, but built to run on something other than your standard urban pavement:

Coming in 2005 – the all Terrain HT. This baby is ready to climb all over. 400 watt/hour Saphion Lithium Phosphate batteries. Check back often or contact us for details on release dates. Due out in Feb 05. Contact us for more info. Price: $4995.00

.All-terrain1- ht

 

Thursday, 30 December 2004 19:34:16 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Tuesday, 21 December 2004

Have you seen this? Pretty nifty. I can't imagine Google's really happy about the look/feel of the web site, but if you can get past that, it's interesting:

How to use Speegle:

  • Just type in your keywords in the normal way and press enter or click search.
  • Ten results are listed and read out to you in order some may be skipped as they have no content or they have been to slow to contact.
  • If you want to visit a page press the corresponding number on the keyboard and it will redirect to that site.
  • Press S to stop P to play and N for next ten results B to go back to the previous 10 results.
  • Press A to go to the advertised site.

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Geek Out | Tech
Tuesday, 21 December 2004 21:46:30 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Wednesday, 15 December 2004

Microsoft has published “Bill Gates Answers Most Frequently Asked Questions.”

It’s an interesting read. Here are the questions, but you’ll have to get the doc to see the answers.

  • What kind of role did fate or luck play in your success?
  • In the history of Microsoft, what was your happiest moment?
  • How do you spend your time?

  • What do you think is more important to your success, raw intelligence or hard work?

  • Please explain the secret of your success.

  • When do you think the first computer will become as intelligent as a human?

  • Do you regret not finishing college?

  • Who coined the name Microsoft?

Thursday, 16 December 2004 02:45:19 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Sunday, 12 December 2004

Google rocks my virtual world every day. If it doesn’t do the same for you, it should. I’ve written about this before in the context of knowing how to leverage Google’s advanced search capabilities, but many don’t know that there is much more to Google than searching.

There are so many cool things you can do at Google. Things that will capture your attention and hold it hostage for hours and days at a time. Some of those things are fun, some are serious. All are pretty darn cool. Things like this:

Google Search for Klingons (sorry I could not resist):

Googleklingon

Dave has links to a few other “languages,” too.

And then there’s all the cool Google Labs stuff, the latest of which is Google Suggests.

What else can you do at Google? Well – here’s their own list:

Google Services: Use one of our many services to find what you're looking for.



Groups
Groups
New!


Google Labs
Google Labs

(tons of cool new stuff here!)




Special Searches
Special Searches

(see more below)



 
    

Google Tools: We offer various tools to help you get more done.






   


Additionally, you can Add Google to your Browser by making Google your default search engine.

Google Special Searches: Often better than you’ll find at the web sites that are home to the technologies themselves…

   BSD
BSD
 Mac
Apple Macintosh
 Microsoft
Microsoft
 

Monday, 13 December 2004 05:58:00 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Friday, 10 December 2004

“2004 would be remembered as they year that everything began.”

And the rest will be history…

You need to watch this. Seriously. Thought-provoking.

(thanks to Brandon for pointing this out)

Friday, 10 December 2004 20:40:11 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Monday, 06 December 2004

“Reality Podcasting”

Certainly more interesting than your average podcast (it seems in many podcasts the speaker talks about – get this – podcasting), Jared and Brandon stole Wi-Fi from the front seat of a car while making a half-hour recording of them talking about web sites they’re browsing (including mine, heheh), war driving, talking to computers, and generally spending an evening being – umm – productive.

Heh. These guys are smart (this I know), bore easily when their minds are not occupied, and apparently they need jobs, or something to do. Hire them. Please. I’ll gladly act as a reference, just email me.

I learned a lot. Apparently “WTF” is pronounced “double-you-tee-eff.” Hmmm…

  • Marginal material – Zero dollars.
  • The search for free Wi-Fi – Zero Dollars.
  • Sunday evening in the rain, in Georgia – Zero Dollars.
  • Getting real and taking the show on the road, geek style – Priceless.
Tuesday, 07 December 2004 02:16:14 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Friday, 03 December 2004

Eric Rice is thinking hard, pondering what it will take to make Blogcast 1.0 happen, and posts his thoughts over on his weblog.

What will Podcasting’s future hold? What about video? Other forms of multimedia communication? Delivery methods? How can it be made more usable and accessible to new and experienced users alike?

I’m in. Multimedia communication by individuals online is just barely getting started, and this is the place to be for those who are interested in what the future will hold.

And besides, Eric’s a cool guy and a conference he drives is sure to be a hit. Plus he already made up a cool logo. :-)


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Blogging | Geek Out | Tech
Saturday, 04 December 2004 03:17:30 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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Don’t know that I can make the drive from Portland to the Seattle area for it (I may try), but if you’re a Windows MCE nut, there’s a Media Center Geek Dinner set to be held on Thursday the 9th in Bellevue, Washington.

See Michael Creasy’s blog for the details.

(via Eric Rice)

Saturday, 04 December 2004 02:56:49 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Tuesday, 30 November 2004

I recently moved offices, and I was just talking to a co-worker of mine, Phil Weber. At his desk (which is by my new digs) he has a sealed package with a posable action figure and accessories in it that I had never seen before.

It's called GEEKMAN.

Now this is really something else... I had GI-Joes and some action figures from TV shows like Adam 12 and Emergency when I was a kid, but never would I have guessed - even in today's world - that a geek action figure would appear.

Geek and action in the same word... Well - you get the point.

But sure enough, it exists. Want one? They sell them at ThinkGeek, and there's even a web site for the action figure - how's that for complete?

It'll probably end up being a collector, just wait. Sheez!

Wednesday, 01 December 2004 00:29:59 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Monday, 29 November 2004

The largest (supposedly) panoramic picture in the world weighs in at 2.5 GIGAPIXELS – Holy Cow! TNO TPD in The Netherlands created the image. They explain their approach on their web site.

Wow, you can zoom wayyyy in and see great detail. Since its a set of 600 stitched images, there are also some neat artifacts from image overlap to see. Nifty stuff.

Oh, and the tool they use to create the zoom-able panorama? Zoomify – you can download it and use it, too.

Some facts and figures about the gigapixel image:

  • Final image dimensions: 78.797 x 31.565 pixels
  • Number of pixels in final image: 2,487,227,305 (2.5 gigapixel)
  • Final image file format: 24-bit colour bitmap
  • Final image file size: 7.5 GBytes
  • Number of source images: 600
  • Number of pixels in source images: 3,537,408,000 (600 images * 3008*1960)
  • Lens focal length: 400 mm (equivalent to 600 mm on a 35 mm camera)
  • Aperture: F22, Shutter speed: 1/100, ISO: 125
  • Horizontal field of view of final image: 93 degrees
  • Time required to capture component images: 1 hour and 12 minutes
  • Time required to match overlapping images: 20 hours
  • Time required to optimise project: 4 hours
  • Time required to compose the image: 3 full days using 5 high-end pcs
  • Time required to blend seams / correct misalignments / finalise image: 2 days

View the image (uses Flash player) at: http://www.tpd.tno.nl/smartsite966.html

(via the BBC and a feedster.com search for gigapixel)


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Tuesday, 30 November 2004 04:08:14 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Friday, 19 November 2004

Our world, it is a-changin' ...

The folks over at audioblog.com have recently released a beta of their new videoblogging browser-based service to their users. It's super-sweet, and works great. Nice job!

What will this kind of capability mean down the road for personal Internet broadcasting and media in general? Only time will tell, but the possibilities seem endless.

Of course, videos of me talking to inanimate objects about the technology itself from my kitchen are not exactly great examples of effective content planning... But hey, it's a geek-out kinda thing, ya know?

Friday, 19 November 2004 06:33:53 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Thursday, 18 November 2004

Recently I described how, due to unexpected circumstances that unfolded over the past week or so, I had to find a new vehicle. Well, I did my research, made up my mind, and bought one.

I decided to go the Big-Ass Honking Truck route. A Dodge Ram truck. With a Hemi. With heated leather seats. With cup holders. And with Bluetooth.

Yeah, I said Bluetooth. Built straight into the truck.

That's right, my Big Ass Honking Manly Ranch Truck has the ultimate geek-out feature: Bluetooth built into the rear-view mirror (cabin microphone, computer and two push-button controls) and the stereo system (for high quality audio output to the speakers, text menus that compliment the female voice that prompts you to speak your commands, and more computer stuff). So, I have complete speakerphone voice-recognition and command control of my mobile phone.

I'm talkin' geek-out in a big way, heheheh... It's awesome.

The system is called U-Connect, and Chrysler has taken it from being an add-on knock-off style option to a fully-integrated system. It's all part of the car's fine fit and finish. In fact, if no one told you it was there, you'd probably never notice it til the phone rang and the system switched the audio from your in-dash stereo system over to the phone.

U-Connect is very cool. Friendly voice prompts walk you through the menus, and voice recognition software allows you to set it up, pair it with your Bluetooth phones (yes, you can use multiple), create speed dial voice entries, and all the other nifty stuff you'd expect from a relatively high-end piece of software and hardware that does the Bluetooth boogie. And the audio is very good, even when driving down the road. It's really quite cool, and on top of that it's extra safe - two small buttons on the rear-view mirror and your voice are all that's needed to make the system work.

Oh, and the rest of the truck is great, too. Did I mention it's got a Hemi? Woah, dude, a Hemi... Heh... Sweet...

Yeah, sure, the gas mileage kinda sucks, but everything else about it is awesome. As much as I drive, comfort and convenience matter these days, so I am glad for the extras. It's the best of both worlds: Geeky and Tough. So, it's all good.

Thursday, 18 November 2004 07:23:55 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Tuesday, 16 November 2004

Five years and millions of dollars spent, and finally the unlocking has begun:

November 16, 2004, 12:07 am · valve

Half-Life 2 is available now for purchase and to play. Those who pre-purchased their copy via Steam may access the game by double-clicking on the Half-Life 2 icon in their Steam Games directory. To purchase your copy via Steam, get Steam now.

We hope you enjoy it!

I probably should have pre-ordered, but hey, I already played early, so I can wait. I think... Heh...

Tuesday, 16 November 2004 06:03:20 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Monday, 15 November 2004

News is that Half-Life 2 will be released tonight at midnight Pacific time. W00t!

I had the privilege of play-testing a pre-release version of Half-Life 2 for a little while up in the Seattle area while visiting a friend who works for Valve. He sat next to me and watched how I played (not very well I think, heh) and what all I did. Since that release candidate version, they have worked out bugs and - I am certain - created a completely awesome game. For obvious reasons I have not written about that experience, albeit short-lived, here.

It was awesome when I play-tested it, so I have no doubts people will enjoy the new game. Great characters, great story, great new physics, super graphics, and just a general WOW factor.

Midnight... That's just 28 minutes away from the time of this writing. Woo hoo!


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Tuesday, 16 November 2004 05:26:49 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Sunday, 14 November 2004

Spaceweather PHONE is a geek's after-hours gem, a nerd's nirvana. Subscribe for a small monthly fee, and you'll get phone calls and accompanying emails to notify you when an event is about to happen that you'll want to step outside and watch in the night sky.

I linked through to this site last week when Doc Searls wrote about the Auroras that were taking place and linked to spaceweather.com. I had just taken some pictures of the event near my home. I signed up for the phone/email notification services a few days back, and sure enough, tonight I got my first call and email at about 5:20 p.m. - The International Space Station was about to pass overhead:


Nov 14, 2004: Space Station Flyby Alert

The International Space Station is about to fly over your location.

It will reach a maximum elevation of 61.6 degrees at around 06:14 PM.

To be on the safe side, go outside 5 minutes early and watch the sky for 10 minutes. If the sky is clear, you'll see the ISS rise in the WSW and move across the sky to the E.

Note: To be sure you can see flyovers, Space Weather Phone only sends alerts for visible flyovers that are above 45 degrees elevation.


And here is a recording of the phone call: swp-station.wma (43.23 KB)

If you're an astronomy or science geek, or maybe you're interested in evening and night watching with the family, here is what you can get notified about:

Space Weather Alerts:

  • Aurora warnings (early notifications)
  • Geomagnetic storms (in progress)
  • X-class solar flares
  • Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs) and solar wind gusts
  • The Interplanetary Magnetic Field changes
  • Solar radiation storms

Backyard Astronomy Alerts:

  • Space Station Sightings
  • Moon and Planets
  • Meteor Showers
  • Comets
  • Other Unexpected Events

So - Geeks and Nerds who want to see the night sky's events, there ya go. Enjoy.

Monday, 15 November 2004 03:45:45 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Friday, 12 November 2004

Ok, this is freakin' hilarious... If you're easily offended by things like fart jokes, click here and stop reading now. If you have a sense of humor that includes laughing at bathroom noises (in other words if you are like 95% of the people in the world), read on. This information is really about technology, not bathrooms or poop. Uh, yeah.

RoboDump is a robot. Sort of. And it poops. Sort of. Forever. A horrible, never-ending bowel movement complete with straining grunts, horrific gas, splashes, and pee sounds.

I snuck RoboDump into the men's room at the office. Unfortunately, today turned out to be the day of a board meeting. Whoops! It still went over well; the office was abuzz all morning with gossip about the guy in the bathroom. Several people theorized it was the CFO. The janitor commented to someone in the hallway that he wanted to clean the restroom but "this guy's been in there all morning."

I also decided to dress it in businessware to make coworkers less likely to try to talk to it... if it looks like a customer or visiting bigwig, they'll be less likely to offer help or ask for a courtesy flush.

Pictures and an audio sample are available at the web site, and you can comment at the blog... I can't help but laugh at this one... Hahahah...

The work that went into this marvel of electronic wonder was pretty extensive, and let me tell ya - I want one.

(found via singlenesia.com)


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Saturday, 13 November 2004 05:13:17 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Monday, 08 November 2004

The one where I try to sound smart, but really just make a fool of myself in the process. But if I learn something new, it's all good.

I'm just a glutton for punishment, so it's not too unusual that I would attend a developers' evening conference event put on by Microsoft about development for mobile devices, regardless of (or perhaps in spite of) the fact that I am most definitely not a developer.

That said, don't use anything I write here for anything real. Don't quote me or anything. Please. This information is all wrong, I can pretty much guarantee it. This is just an attempt on my part to see how much I can learn in three hours, in an area where I easily get lost.

But I mean hey, I keep seeing these techie developer-like guys writing two lines of code at most in these sessions and how they just magically make things work, shazam!, so I figure even a guy like me should eventually be able to figure this stuff out, at least sort of. Enough to create something useless but functional, at any rate.

Because secretly I sometimes wish I was a developer. I long to make things. New things. Different things.

I just want to create.

So here I am, seeing if I can learn any of this stuff. And I am finding - as usual - that its kinda cool.

Windows Mobile development random thoughts (or maybe this is just a cheap excuse to use bulleted lists):

  • Design applications assuming your app will need to rotate portrait>landscape>back again.
  • Screen dimensions - be flexible here and include hi-res resources for VGA quality screens in the future (use higher res to improve quality, not so much for more real estate).
  • Emulators are cool - deploy, test on a software phone or Pocket PC.
  • VS.net will compile and deploy x86 executables to emulators, and ARM compliant code to the real devices. In the future the emulators will emulate ARM chip-sets.

Ok, so this dude just wrote 2 lines of code and made an app that collects a ticker symbol from the user, calls a web service and returns the current price. Two lines of code. Cool. The term code-behind probably relates to this. But I'm not a developer, so I am guessing here.

Look Mom - TWO LINES! Neat.

Idea: Have special evening sessions just for non-developers, where you teach them to develop cool simple stuff. People like me, whose brains are a little older and slower, but who desperately want to be a cool nerd (like that makes sense) and create things. Seriously. I'd go to every one of those events. No real nerds allowed, unless they are teaching (sorry to all my developer friends - I need someone to work at my pace heheh). Target guys like me, who really want to learn, the ones who spend the money. Focus on making something simple, cool and complete. Let me create something, let me feel like I understanding these guys that work for me and around me. Help me grok your world. Let me create something that works, something that when we're done is all mine and does something - hey, anything - useful.

Okay - back to the session...

Ahhhh here we go - demos. I like it when I can see something created and then working. :-)

Tipper is a little program someone wrote that helps you figure out how much of a tip to leave. Cool, especially for foreigners who may not be accustomed to the tipping stuff.

  • Windows forms and controls - I think I know what this all means... Looks like there are some controls not available in the mobile framework, which makes sense, since it's a more limited memory space and less-powerful hardware.
  • Networking - looks like you don't have to understand HTTP in order to use it. Something about streaming and stuff that escapes me. Okay, it's actually way over my head, but "escapes" sounds cool.
  • Data - XML or SQL Server CE for storage, depending on type, amount and size of data (SQL for bigger/more I guess). Web services for data exchange. SQL Mobile 2005 will be a cool enhancement with all kinds of new stuff like data grids and binding and stuff. Make SQL CE development easier. Not require you to use a SQL CE device to develop a database. Nice.
  • XML Parsing - XmlTextReader and XmlTextWriter parse a doc, but with no in-memory caching. XmlDocument lets you parse a complete document at once and traverse it in memory.
  • ADO.NET - Uhhh, yeah. Way over my head. Heh.
  • Web Services - This I get. Sort of. more so than ADO.net anyhow heh... XML web services, both basic and digest authentication. SSL encryption support here, too. SOAP stuff. Clean is good, right?

More demos... A news reader that goes out and reads RSS feeds - now that's a cool one. Thom Robbins wrote this and some of the other demos. The news reader and others can even be downloaded from his blog, here.

Hmmmm Windows Mobile 2003 Second Edition. Cool - that should be interesting...

There was an interesting presentation about the future of the compact framework and Windows Mobile, and there will be positive changes in VS.NET 2005 for the new version, too. Life becomes friendlier and easier for the mobile developer.

Microsoft Location Server - lets your application find itself or other apps. Real time location information integrated with MapPoint technology. Very, very cool. Hosted by your company, not Microsoft, which is even cooler.

Ok, I am prety close to brain dead now, and I need to save a few brain cells for my trip to buy Halo at 12:01am. Cool stuff here. I have no idea what I am talking about, really, but I do feel smarter, so that's good. :-)

Thanks to Bliz for the heads-up and invite.


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Geek Out | Mobile | Tech
Tuesday, 09 November 2004 02:29:59 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Sunday, 07 November 2004

This post is for the brain-dead and hermits among us.

Just in case you missed it, Halo 2 is coming out this week on Tuesday Noveber 9th. Thousands of stores are opening at midnight+1 to sell the game, so find the stores closest to you, choose one, and go get in line.

Meanwhile, here are a few new and nifty items to tide you over until Tuesday at 12:01 am:

So - is anyone actually taking vacation from work to beat the game? Heh.

Here is what Microsoft says you'll need - go to the xbox.com readiness guide page for more details...

The Essentials

  • A copy of the most anticipated game of 2004: Halo® 2. (Obviously!)
  • An active subscription to Xbox Live™.
  • An Xbox®-compatible router.
  • A Friends List full of potential opponents and teammates.
  • A linked Gamertag.
  • A TV and sound system to take in the whole experience. (HDTV and Surround Sound optional, but recommended.)
  • At least one day completely set aside for nothin’ but gaming bliss.
  • Supplies (food, refreshments, toilet paper, etc.).

Who's planning on getting in line and buying their copy at midnight? I'm game if someone else is going along, but I won't be skipping work, I'm not that hard-core, heh.

Sunday, 07 November 2004 22:50:49 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Saturday, 23 October 2004

And I thought I was pretty geeky with a Tablet PC sitting on the seat and a radio transmitter for audio on the radio... My PC-in-the-car setup 's got nothin' on what J.P. Stewart's doing...

A bunch of Microsoft employees have started a club to pursue their common hobby, as car enthusiasts, where they're building computer equipment into their automobiles. Channel 9's Robert Scoble interviewed one of those employees, J.P. Stewart, on video, and took a close look at what he's done with his ride:

Link: Channel 9 - J.P. Stewart - A new hobby: putting Windows XP in your car

Low-power computers (Mini-ITX style) in the trunk and mini touch-screens in the cab, all built in and custom fit, make for a really cool setup.

DVD, Windows XP, WiFi, GPS, sound system integration through the CD changer control, USB digital sound, and lots of cool stuff. A portable USB 2.0 hard drive moves from car to home or office and allows you to copy files like music and stuff. Or use the WiFi to copy/sync music from the driveway while you're at your home.

Some of J.P.'s goals, now and future: GPS with Streets and Trips (done), Media Player for music (done), Internet always on everywhere (will be using TMobile Motorola phone with Bluetooth, and the computer will use it as its network connection).

And he says he has less than $1000 into the computer equipment, and some uncounted number of hours of his time. Wow. Very cool stuff.


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Geek Out | Mobile | Tech
Sunday, 24 October 2004 03:10:55 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)
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 Friday, 15 October 2004

Careful what you say to your girlfriend, it might back-fire on ya. :-)


.--------------------------------------------------------------------.
| Session Start: Friday, October 15, 2004                            |
| Participants:                                                      |
|    Greg Hughes
                                                     |
|   
Dave                                   
                        |
.--------------------------------------------------------------------.
[01:06:01 AM]
Dave
: man im mean, girlfriend is having trouble
              with her pc, and i tell her its an id10t error and that
              they are quite common and shes like Oh no can you fix
              it?
[01:06:10 AM] Greg Hughes: hahahahah
[01:06:16 AM] Greg Hughes: heh
[01:06:42 AM]
Dave: i thought she knew what it ment

[01:10:47 AM]
Dave: havent the heart to tell her now
[01:12:54 AM] Greg Hughes: hehehe just dont let her read my blog :)


Don't worry, Dave - I'm sure she won't be reading this, so you're safe!


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Friday, 15 October 2004 06:11:38 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)
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 Wednesday, 13 October 2004

There's an interactive guide online that will quickly and easily help you determine what needs to be done to upgrade your TiVo. Add a hard drive or two, replace your original drive with a bigger one, whatever.

This is a lot better than what I had when I took my 20-hour Series One TiVo and did my hack, ending up with two 120GB drives in it. It works great and records things for me every day (and will likely never run out of space). I had to piece together software and instructions, and walk my way between the lines in certain areas. Anymore it's much easier, so just go here for help.

Once you choose your TiVo model, hard drive options and a few other items needed to provide accurate instructions, the interactive guide provides you a clean, usable, well-written set of directions and links to required software specific to your needs as well as other resources like picture guides.

The site: http://tivo.upgrade-instructions.com/step1.php

(from hackaday.com)


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Thursday, 14 October 2004 03:45:47 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)
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 Friday, 08 October 2004

Chris apparently really needs something to do - but it's good for us when he's having a slow day - this is freakin' hilarious...


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Friday, 08 October 2004 20:45:40 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)
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 Thursday, 07 October 2004

I meant to post about this while I was at Gnomedex last week, since it was announced there, but never got around to it (my bad).

A new web site - hackaday.com - is a web magazine devoted to cataloging all the best hacks, mods and DIY (do-it-yourself) projects from around the web.

This is a geek-fest site if there ever was one. every day a new items is posted to the site. Among the recent hacks and mods are:

... and much, much more. Highly recommended for hard-core geeks and anyone with too much time on their hands.


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Friday, 08 October 2004 04:12:57 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)
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 Thursday, 30 September 2004

Attending GnomeDex? Grab the PST file and update your Outlook calendar. I did, which means my Blackberry is up to date.

Sheez, that’s sooo lame. But it’s cool. :)


Thursday, 30 September 2004 20:45:51 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)
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 Wednesday, 29 September 2004

I picked up a pair of SoundShield headphones from the Brookstone store in the PDX airport on my way out of town today, after a friend of mine showed me his and recommended (strongly) that I get some of my own. I was telling him how flying on jets causes me to get all tense and stressed by the time the flight is over, and he said it was the loud background noise, and that these headphones would make a world of difference.

He couldn't have been any more correct.

Not only do the headphones cancel out nearly all the background noise on the airplane, they also plug into my MP3 player or laptop (or the aircraft audio jack or whatever), and the sound reproduction is very good. The noise cancellation idea is amazing - I found myself asleep and arriving in Reno relaxed and without the muscle tension that normally ruins the plane flight for me.

Recommended - highly - for travelers.


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Thursday, 30 September 2004 04:09:21 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)
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