Archive for April, 2006

penny arcade podcast

April 30th, 2006


I’m about five weeks late on this, but yesterday I finally listened to the Penny Arcade podcast, and it is utterly charming. It’s pretty much comprehensible only by hardcore gaming geeks (and even then, probably only for a subset of those) but if you feel that tag applies to you, then I suspect you’ll love it. Both of the guys are equally unabashedly dorky and hilarious, and it’s fascinating hearing these two guys develop an idea — for every gag found in their strip, they must reject at least five.

It’s been inspiring watching these guys improve their game and evolve their niche over the past couple of years. Jerry has gotten sharper with regards to writing the strip as Mike has improved at illustrating it — also, they’ve done a whole lot to evolve the profile of “gaming” and “gamers” in general. These guys represent a very rare case of people deserving of every ounce of success this world can heap upon them… I’m choking up a little here.

~jeff

zfs

April 30th, 2006


WARNING: this boring-ass post is about computer filesystems

There’s a interesting PDF* tucked away on Sun’s site talking about their new filesystem, “ZFS”. Filesystems are inherently pretty dull things — it’s the system that reads and writes your files to disk — but research into new filesystems represents one of the last remaining frontiers of superreliable computing; these days, when your computer fails to the point where you lose data, it’s most often the fault of the filesystem.

The ZFS filesystem implements a much more reliable filesystem than found in Windows’ NTFS or Mac OS X’s journaled HFS+. It not only replaces the need for RAID — you can add cheap drives to your heart’s content and a ZFS filesystem will automatically grow the amount of available storage — but ZFS will also checksum any data written and read from disk, which means even if the disk messes up (which happens!) the data will remain intact. It’s pretty high-end stuff, and according to this post on the ZFS mailing list, there’s some work underway to bring it to Mac OS X.

The real world benefits of ZFS both on the server and on the desktop would be incalcuable; none of us back up our data anywhere near to how much we should, and if you’ve spent any time in your life near a computer you’re familiar with the phrase “the file is corrupt”, often accompanied by the phrases “are you ok?” and “would you like to sit down?”. ZFS, or filesystems like it, would make file corruption largely a concern of the past, which is a Good Thing Indeed.

~jeff

* The PDF is very well-presented; however, if I were working in the Sun publications dept., I would not publish a technical document where every photo of the engineers involved in the project has been taken while they’re drinking heavily. Just sayin’.

polyphontics gb

April 29th, 2006

PolyPhontics.jpg

If you’re like me*, you love playing around with Apple’s multi-track audio editor but you’re not satisfied with the standard software instuments. I’ve been looking for a way to get my own loops and samples into GarageBand since it came out; Apple has a secret loop utility stashed away on their ftp site but it’s not super useful compared to other looping tools — and it only allows you to make drag n’ drop loops, not “software instruments” that can be triggered via MIDI.

Enter PolyPhontics GB; this cheap ($25.00) little utility allows you to take your own sound files and make software instruments out of them, quickly and easily. The user interface is clear, and the output is perfect; it’s just what I was looking for.

~jeff

*And if you’re even more like me, you’re a little tipsy right now.

zillow

April 29th, 2006


Zillow.com* is a great website for finding out how much houses in your neighborhood are going for — it might help you find a cheap neighborhood in which to buy your first house. Or at least that’s what I’m hoping it will do for me — and why I think I can afford a house is beyond me, because I can’t particularly afford the expensive cheese at the supermarket.

~jeff

*It doesn’t yet work in Safari, so if you’re on a Mac, use Firefox or even better, the oft-forgotten Camino.

thank you, nancy reagan

April 29th, 2006


Hey, how’s that “Drug War” going? Compare and contrast. Compare and contrast*.

~jeff

*About that last one: audio is available of the cops beating a confession out of the guy, but it’s hard to listen to, both literally and figuratively; you’d be better off reading the transcript.

wes anderson amex ad

April 29th, 2006


Great AMEX ad (cruddy YouTube video quality).

~jeff

nintendo wii

April 27th, 2006


UGH; the Nintendo Revolution is now named the Nintendo Wii

…”Nintendo Wii”? Like, how do you even say that out loud? Has Nintendo been getting name suggestions from open-source developers? I guess the thing to keep in mind is that I thought “iPod” was a dumb name when I first heard it, and these days, people name their newborn children “iPod mini”, so what do I know.

~jeff

distributing the future

April 27th, 2006

111-future_distro.gif

One of the most interesting podcasts I’ve heard yet is O’Reilly’s “Distributing the Future” podcast. On the latest podcast, there’s some great stuff on emergent behavior in gaming that’s just fascinating — it makes you want to go out and start writing your MMORPG right now. Another fascinating episode is the one entitled “Obscenity, Infinity, and Bionic Beings” — high end stuff about what computers are good and bad at and what we humans are good and bad at and how we can balance the two. Highly recommended listening.

~jeff

google sketchup

April 27th, 2006


Google continues its pattern of purchasing innovative, top-shelf apps and suddenly releasing them for free, thus simulating a business plan so deviously complex and mysterious that I’d say it must give Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer the “night sweats”, if it wasn’t likely to be so difficult to tell his night sweats from his normal, everyday sweats.

ANY-how, SketchUp is hands-down the most intuitive 3-D modeler I’ve every used; I used to use it in presentations when giving demos at the Apple Store. It used to be just horribly, prohibitively expensive, and now it is the opposite of expensive. Google seems to want you to use it to populate Google Earth, but you can use it for just about anything. Check it out.

~jeff

the show

April 27th, 2006


No, not the kinda boring one with Harry Shearer. That’s “Le Show“. This is “The Show” with the you-like-him-or-you-friggin’-hate-him, Max Headroom-esque “Ze Frank”. I like that the show is easily subscribed to via RSS, but I’m not sure that I can take the slightly exhausting Frank each and every day. Good for him for putting this together, though.

~jeff

chernobyl 20 year anniversary

April 26th, 2006

Chernobyl

The Chernobyl nuclear disaster happened on April 26, 1986; the day before my twelfth birthday (although I don’t remember it at all of course, I was too busy riding my bike and fighting with my little brother to notice).

A ghost town remains, and this crazy broad rides her motorcycle all around that mess and takes pictures. I recommend taking the tour.

(While we’re talking about cool pictures of abandoned places, check these out too, House review, ovulation tests.)

So what can you do? Well, the least you can do is check out some Chernobyl porn.

david lynch at berkeley

April 25th, 2006


David Lynch has a Q & A — a long one, clocking in at 1 hour 45 minutes — at the new UC Berkley section of iTunes. I haven’t listened to it yet, but I assume at the end Lynch pulls a red curtain back and a dwarf with antlers comes out on stilts holding a tray of coffee and pie to announce “!elbat acimrof a si siht”, all set to a cool, cool, cool Angelo Badalamenti soundtrack.

It’s great to see Apple doing this, and it’s great that these files — opposed to the files from Stanford — are in mp3 format rather than ACC. Nothing against AAC, it’s a great format, but educational materials should strive to be in the format that allows the absolute widest accessibility, and right now that’s mp3.

~jeff

こんにちは, bitches

April 25th, 2006


Here goes the oddest and most futile bit of self-promotion I will ever do: Behold my book, The Spam Letters, in Japanese!

Tell all your friends who can and want to read broken English translated into Japanese!

new super mario bros.

April 25th, 2006


Just how lame is it that I’m psyched for the new Mario game? Pretty freakin’ lame, I’ll admit, but see, me and Mario go way back. Twenty years ago (!), I saved up my lawn mowing money for an entire summer in order to mail order one of the very first original NES consoles — I remember that I had seen “Super Mario Bros.” in a Howard Johnson’s off I-84 and I was understandably mesmerized. The original NES console came with “Gyromite”, a stunningly obtuse and unfun game that no one remembers, with a robot that spun tops, and “Duck Hunt”, which everyone remembers because of the dog that laughs at you. I has to also special order “Super Mario Bros.”, and the first time I found a warp zone, well, it was all over. The “New Super Mario Bros.” comes out on May 16th, and I, um, might have some unexpectedly pressing business at the mall that day, or somethin’.

~jeff

perry bible fellowship

April 24th, 2006


Most of these delightfully goony and macabre comics seem to exist to answer the question “What if Edward Gorey had both an online comic strip, and a serious problem with inhalants?”

~jeff