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August 5, 2011

Just launched: Keep Track of My Games | Posted at 12:12 AM

I just launched a new website, Keep Track of My Games.

homepage.PNG

It lets you add almost any game you want to a list where you can organize and track unreleased games. The app will email or TXT you when a game's release date changes, when it's released, or when it's about to be released.

March 4, 2011

Getting the PlayStation Network (PSN) to accept your billing address [Bad Design] | Posted at 5:19 PM

It took me a day and 20 attempts but finally I got it to work. First, you're not alone… tons of people have this issue.

Why is this happening? PSN uses the Address Verification System (AVS) for your bank. If your bank doesn't provide this, it very well might not work at all. I use Wells Fargo, and they do have it.

For myself, I have an address like this:

1234 Street Name St
Apt 123
City, STATE 12345-1234

My statement looks like:

1234 STREET NAME ST
APT 123
CITY, STATE 12345-1234

However, PSN only accepted it in this format exactly:

1234 STREET NAME ST APT 123
CITY, STATE 12345

A few things to note:

  • Not shown here but I included my middle initial in the card name field (not sure if this affected it).
  • All uppercase. This is how it appears on my credit statement.
  • No 9 digit zip. I left off the last4 digits even though they are on my statement.
  • One line. It says in the FAQ you should keep apartment numbers on the same line, so I did.

The big things are: exactly as it appears on your statement (minus perhaps the zip), all uppercase, and one line address.

The fact that I have to do this is atrocious and is either the fault of PSN for not formatting my request properly to AVS or AVS itself and its terrible request processing.

Now I can finally get FF7.

October 20, 2010

Wow, Fallout New Vegas is Infested with Bugs [Disappointment] | Posted at 9:48 PM

image

What has happened to the industry when a brand new game comes out and feels like it's still stuck in alpha?

It seriously took me 30 minutes trying to get the game to start since it would crash every time I tried to start it.

I noticed this happens when I tried to do fullscreen on most resolutions, but worked okay in Windowed mode. It also didn't work until I downloaded the latest Nvidia drivers (it wasn't a Geforce, so it didn't have to do with the driver release after the game's release, I was only one version behind). Maybe because I restarted my computer it magically worked, who knows? The VS debugger said that a memory address was denied access or something.

Then, after finally getting into the game, it crashes during the weird blur effect during the intro. Awesome. It doesn't just crash, no, it shuts down my damn computer. I tried this 3 times with the same effect, and I was on Medium quality at 720p.

So then, I turn everything to low and run in windowed mode and everything seems to work, although it still stutters intermitently when it absolutely should not.

Just for kicks, I turn up the settings to ultra, same resolution in windowed mode, then load up my save. Of course everything is stutterville x 10, even though when it doesn't stutter it runs fine. The game is unplayable.

I literally spun around in place about 40 times and the game crashed. Yah.

Sorry, my recommendation right now is to pass on this game until the 4th patch is released when it finally works properly.

If it's possible to look past the bugs, there seems to be a good game underneath. I want to be excited for this game, I really do, but I can't until it actually works.

September 19, 2010

Is your VMWare Player slow? Switch to VirtualBox. [Virtualization] | Posted at 12:20 PM

Mine was. I am on Windows 7 64-bit and I was trying to virtualize a Windows 2008 R2 server so I can transfer all my development tools. It had the benefit of cleaning off my computer and putting all my dev stuff into a neat little package I only had to run when I wanted to work.

I chose to use VMWare Player because of VMWare's fame. The problem was, it was sometimes much slower than my host machine, suspending state made it even worse, and shared folders caused issues with Visual Studio.

I had tried looking online at potential issues it could be but didn't find anyone with my issues. wPrime showed that the guest OS was using almost as much CPU power as my host OS so that didn't seem to be the problem.

So in the end, I switched to VirtualBox, an open source software from Oracle. It was wicked fast and easy to configure (make sure to enable IO APIC for Windows machines). Shared Folders even seemed to work better because when I created a sym link to my host OS development folder, Visual Studio didn't seem to have the issues it did on VMWare.

So if your VMWare Player seems like it's not pulling its weight, I'd recommend switching.

8GB of RAM now seems like a good investment to me. The CPU seems fine even under load; I usually only use one OS at a time, not both.

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Here is my configuration:

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PS. Is this a mindwarp or what?

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That's "Seamless" (Right-ctrl+L) where it will hide your guest OS desktop background and it will look like you have integration between both OSs. You can click any of the windows and they respond as they should. It's awesome.

September 18, 2010

This is Pretty Sad, Isn't It? [Never Enough] | Posted at 1:00 PM

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OK, so I still have 437GB left… but still!

My C: and D: partitions are on two 200GB drives. I was thinking about swapping my C: drive with this monster and then using the extra GB for another storage (media) drive. Then I can move my virtual machines to C: to speed them up. It's cheap but will hopefully speed things up without costing me the price of a PS3.

July 23, 2010

User Experience Changes in Outlook 2010 [FTW] | Posted at 8:11 AM

I wanted to make a list of changes that I really appreciate from a usability perspective. Thank you Outlook team!

  • Reordering Accounts: You can finally reorder your left pane accounts any way you want; now my archive folder is properly at the bottom and my accounts are ordered by importance.
  • Auto-detect Outgoing Mail Account to Use: It used to be in 2007 that when you composed a new mail, it defaulted to using your main email account. Now, however, it properly detects what account the current folder you're viewing is associated with and uses that. YES. Now my hack of an addin is no longer needed!

I will keep this list updated as I discover new features.

Upgrading Outlook 2007 to Outlook 2010 [FYI] | Posted at 7:58 AM

I couldn't really find a straight answer on this. I wanted to know if I had to backup my mail and whether it would get deleted if I upgraded to Office 2010.

The short answer: no! It migrates all your email and settings perfectly, didn't run into any problems!

To save you the trouble, make sure to get the correct version of Office 2010 (32-bit or 64-bit). You cannot upgrade to 64-bit from Office 2007 32-bit; the versions must match.

2010 is so much faster than 2007. I have at least two mailboxes that have between 1GB-2GB of size and 2007 would crawl opening them. 2010 starts up in 5 seconds with all the mail loaded; it's so much faster.

The best feature (so far) is the ability to reorder your mail accounts and favorites in the left pane. THANK GOD.

Now to check if I can combine internet calendars into one calendar, or at least get them to show up in the right-hand agenda list.

June 3, 2010

Controlling Multiple Computers Using One Keyboard and Mouse using Input Director [PC] | Posted at 8:50 PM

I recently upgraded my old Pentium III server to some hand-me-down hardware I got from my brother's old PC. It's an Athlon XP 2700+ with 512MB of RAM and an ATI X1600 512MB video card. I'll be slapping 2GB of RAM into it and adding some more hard drive space.

Anyway, my dilemma was that I only had room for one keyboard and one mouse but I had two monitors. Some might have used a KVM switch (I actually have a USB switch I used to install the OS and configure the BIOS on it). You could also use remote desktop, which I did with my last server. However, switches and remote desktop are too manual for my taste.

Desk and computers

As you can see, my server is on the left of my desk and my PC is on the right side. The left monitor is my PC and the right monitor is my server.

Input Director to the rescue! It effectively handles all the screen switching for you so you can use your second computer as if it was connected to your primary monitor. When you move your mouse to the side of the screen where the second computer's monitor is at, it will automatically switch your keyboard and mouse focus to that computer. It even handles copy/pasting! You could try Synergy as well (I've used it previously) but it didn't play nice with Windows Server 2008 which is what my server runs.

May 12, 2010

Goodbye, College! | Posted at 2:46 PM

I graduate next Monday with my degree in management information systems. I am pretty darn excited but there is one thing I will miss…

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My university's internet backbone.

Goodbye sweet, sweet speed. I managed to order 12Mbps/5Mbps high speed DSL for my new apartment but it will never match the speed I've been accustomed to.

April 12, 2010

MinneWebCon 2010 – Informal User Testing | Posted at 5:33 PM

I just finished up with attending this year's MinneWebCon. I was excited because it was my first time being apart of a presentation at such a large event and I hope it's not the last. Our topic was about informal user testing and how that helps drive design and creating a usable application. The main speaker was my old supervisor, Zach Johnson, and then those of us who currently work at Student Unions & Activities: Ken Loomis, Ethan Poole, and me.

Presentation

January 22, 2010

Tyson Motsinger/Nebraska Book Company Responds to Complaints [Update] | Posted at 10:19 AM

Please refer to my previous posts for information on Tyson Motsinger and the Nebraska Book Company:

Before I get to the response, I want to break down and answer some common questions and rumors.

Who is Tyson Motsinger?

He is the Marketplace Purchase Manager at Nebraska Book Company and oversees (or is at least involved) in the automatic purchasing that is being done at their company.

He is not a fake person, he is real.

What does he do?

Tyson himself does not purchase the books from sellers on Amazon or Half.com. He is merely the name the automatic purchase system uses (along with a few others, I believe).

Why did they request a refund?

It is most probably due to unclear or insincere descriptions on your listing, in addition to listing it under a different ISBN number.

How can I avoid problems?

Here’s how to avoid most of the headaches with Nebraska Books and other automatic purchasers:

  • Always list your book under its correct ISBN. International editions should not be listed under the US edition. That is against Amazon policy.
  • Always be accurate in your assessment of the book’s condition. Be honest so you have evidence if the buyer claims otherwise.
  • Always ship with delivery confirmation and preferably delivery signature to verify your book was at least delivered.
  • Never refund someone before you receive the book.
  • Never pay someone for your book that they want to keep because it’s “damaged.”

There is also, supposedly, a way to opt out of Nebraska Book Company purchases. You should call (402) 237-TEXT (8398) for more information and for help on your order.

They canceled on me and are requesting a refund. Now what?

Contact the NBC at (402) 237-TEXT (8398) and Amazon Seller Support. Do not refund them without having them send the book back! Some people have commented that if you request them to send the book back, they will send it back.

Tyson Motsinger’s Response

I personally have not had a problem selling books to the NBC, however, many other people have. Here is Tyson’s response from his comment on my other post:


The author of this blog posted this above:

"I think that problems arise when you send them a book that doesn't exactly match your description and condition and ISBN number. If you are accurate, I don't think you'll have any problems."

This couldn't be more true...

If you are listing a book on Amazon & Half under an *incorrect ISBN* (i.e. international, old or teachers editions - all of which are against Amazon & Half policy) or have not clearly disclosed damage to the book in your listing comments (yes, we analyze each comment), we may buy your book believing you will be sending the correct book or a non-damaged book. Obviously, if you send us an incorrect or damaged book (which are graded liberally - according to Amazon condition standards), it's not a book we want - so we'll ship it back to you and request you refund us once you receive it. We currently ship books back to sellers at our expense. All we need is a return address. Amazon does not provide us this address, but in some cases Half.com will.

Nebraska Book Company is purchasing books from a large number of sellers on Amazon & Half and, at the same time, working to provide a reasonable process for sellers to use when incorrect/damaged items are received (which currently represent around 2% of all books received). Unfortunately, some sellers list incorrectly and either don't understand what it means to "list a book on Amazon or Half under an incorrect ISBN" and accidentally list it or even intentionally list it because a more recent or US edition of the same title garners a higher price. Granted, in some cases a listing page is unavailable for a title, there are title data issues on the site or we'll incorrectly purchase, but each of these occurrences is extremely rare - especially for the types of books we are attempting to purchase.

Even with the volume, we've had good success with packages being delivered by the USPS. Sometimes we'll run into trouble with a few packages lost by the local USPS branch, but nothing close to unreasonable given the number of packages received. Some sellers rely on USPS tracking mechanisms. Amazon encourages sellers to fully understand the significant limitations of USPS "delivery confirmation." Read the last paragraph on this Amazon page to learn about these limitations:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?ie=UTF8&nodeId=200222890

If you are concerned about delivery, we'd suggest UPS or FedEx. Both provide tracking all the way to the point of delivery.

We currently provide dedicated staff who monitor our seller support line (402-237-TEXT), auto-responding email information, automated ways for sellers to block us from purchasing and a very easy-to-use (and free) process to request a damaged or incorrect book back. We continue to learn about the best way to help sellers while keeping our operations efficient. We have adjusted (and continue to adjust) our processes along the way, but the idea we're some big operation scamming marketplace sellers is simply not true.

Some of you reading this post will understand the situation and some of you won't - likely depending on a large number of factors. Either way, understand our goal is to have a successful transaction with marketplace sellers and to help sellers in the event a transaction is not successful - by both getting the incorrect/damaged merchandise sent back and helping educate why the product was rejected (providing specific damage information and/or the incorrect ISBN received). Purchase volume is certainly a factor, but we do our best to create tools which help us manage issues and allow sellers to self-serv in getting incorrect or damaged books returned.

We hope this sheds some light on the "mystery." Know that we do read your posts and will take constructive feedback into account.

Tyson Motsinger
Marketplace Purchase Manager
Nebraska Book Company, Inc.
(402) 237-TEXT (8398)

I am not taking sides on this issue. As someone who has not been bitten, I cannot directly complain about the company’s tactics. One thing is clear: people have been having trouble with this company. I have Tyson’s email address but I will not post it because I don’t have his permission to do so. If he chooses, he can post it in the comments.

If you do have problems, you should call that number. In addition, if you find out how to opt out, share the link with me so I can update all my posts. I did find some sort of opt out link but I can’t verify it works or how it exactly works.

To prevent problems, you should follow the guidelines I set out above. If you did and you still had problems, you may have grounds for action against the company and should contact Amazon Seller Support.

January 5, 2010

Overclocking My Computer [Tedious] | Posted at 12:57 AM

Nine episodes of 30 Rock later, I think I've reached a stable OC of my computer, at least for now. I'll give it a week or two before trying anything different.

To answer my previous frustrations, the slowness has to do with my RAM and primary hard disk. All of the slow loading is gone with the OC'd RAM. However, my friend has a slower CPU but uses RAID'd raptors as his main drives and his computer smokes mine. It sucks but my Maxtor primary drive (200GB) is slower than my Samsung 750GB drives (by a lot).

This should help anyone with a similar configuration. I will update it as my config changes.

  • Gigabyte EP45-UD3R
  • Intel E8500 3.16Ghz @ 3.96Ghz
    • FSB: 415
    • Multiplier: 9.5
    • Vcore: 1.3875
    • Termination: 1.28
    • PLL: 1.35
    • MCH core: 1.3v
    • MCH/DRAM: 0.91
    • ICH I/O: 1.57
    • ICH Core: 1.2
  • 4GB G.Skill DDR800 @ 830Mhz
    • Latch: 333Mhz
    • Multiplier: 2B (2 x 415 = 830Mhz)
    • 4-4-4-15
    • Voltage: 1.9v
    • Termination: 0.9v

I can definitely tell the difference between stock settings and OC'd. Everything starts up almost twice as fast. I also get significantly better marks in 3dMark.

At a slight OC (355FSB, 710 DRAM) I got 6267 3dMarks (from Vantage), 266fps in CS:S, and 37.5fps in World in Conflict. At the current OC, I get 6455 3dMarks, 293.94fps in CS:S, and 40fps in WIC. It's pretty significant, especially when I can see the difference in startup times for slow programs (Outlook, Visual Studio, etc.).

This CPU is amazing. I was able to OC it by 25%, which is pretty insane. The reference rig I was using got it up to 425FSB and 850Mhz DRAM but I am already breaching 63C load temperatures. I want to see how this pans out with regular use.

Thanks to this thread for tips and reference.

One thing is for sure, it's good to have something to watch while you wait for endless benchmarks to finish.

December 15, 2009

What is wrong with my computer? [Help Me] | Posted at 9:30 AM

Dear reader,

I have been having some problems with my computer over the past few months. Let me try to describe what's happening:

Configuraton:

  • Windows 7 Ultimate RC1 64-bit
  • Intel Core2 Duo E8500, 3.16Ghz (socket 775, Wolfdale)
  • (x2) 2GB Crucial BallistiX DDRII PC2-6400 (400Mhz)
  • Gigabyte EP45-UD3R (BIOS rev. 03) motherboard
  • MSI GeForce 8800GTS 512MB video card
  • (x2) Maxtor 200GB drives
  • (x2) Samsung 750GB drives

A few months ago, maybe two or three, my computer started randomly crashing and closing programs due to page faults and strange occurrences. After logging into Windows I would try to start a program but then the desktop window manager (DWM) would crash, Visual Studio would crash, etc. until in about 5 minutes the whole computer would blue screen.

Chalking it up to faulty memory, I embarked on a series of configurations to find out if my memory was bad. First, I took out a stick. No problems. I took out the working stick, put in the other one. No problems. What the hell? I ran MemTest 86 on both sticks: no errors.

So, apparently, if I put in both of my 2GB DDRII sticks, Windows goes beserk. Note that it happened out of the blue.

What I noticed with only one stick, however, was that my computer was running pretty slowly. Sure, I could play games just fine, but it seemed like programs would take about five times longer to start-up than usual.

After a week, I decided to test both sticks again. I didn't run into any problems… and it has stayed that way, fast and all, until about last weekend. Then it all started back up again. I am currently using one stick right now.

This time, it is definitely noticeable how slow programs start up (running them seems to work alright, although big operations will be slow as hell). The thing is, I've run a few benchmarks with no indication of any slowdowns. The hard drives are accessing quickly, none of them show low access times on HD Tach. The CPU seems to work alright according to OpenMark. I have yet to really test the RAM though, which I still believe is the problem. The only thing that makes me think it's not is the fact that both sticks individually run just fine.

I was playing Dragon Age yesterday and I had to turn off my SQL server service and Windows Media Player network sharing service because they'd randomly use up like 30% of my CPU, slowing the game down. In fact, loading my save game took about 2 minutes which is unbelievable, usually it only takes 30 seconds. That makes me think something, somewhere is wrong.

So, what do you think could be wrong? Is it the OS itself? Over winter break I will be "upgrading" to Windows 7 Ultimate RTM. Is it the RAM? Then how come each stick doesn't seem to have any errors and works just fine? Is it the motherboard? How come it works fine with only one stick and worked fine with two sticks for awhile? Is it the CPU? Then how come benchmarks don't show any slowdowns or poor marks?

I am at a loss here, people. Help me out.

October 29, 2009

Uncharted 2: Playing a Movie [Reflections] | Posted at 12:56 PM

I am about 90% done with Uncharted 2, in fact I should be done by tonight. I couldn't help but talk about this game even before I finish it because there are a few things I want to say.

The first is that every other game with a story needs to learn from this game because this is the first game in a long time (along with Arkham Asylum) that I can play for 4 hours straight and still want to keep playing. My roommate stayed up until 6am playing this game to get to the end.

Uncharted: Drake's Fortune was a really great game but the story was really what kept it going along with the excellent platforming. Uncharted 2 takes everything that was good about the first game, multiplies it by 5 and then adds crack cocaine to it. I seriously can't think of anything wrong with this game. It has an amazing story, incredibly fun and challenging gameplay (you will die), excellent graphics, fantastic voice acting, and surprisingly fun multiplayer. There were moments in the game where I couldn't believe that it was even possible to do.

Speaking about voice acting, Nolan North (Nathan Drake) and Emily Rose (Elena) do a fantastic job at making you love the characters. You want to keep playing because you want to know what happens next. It's like an addicting book in video game form. The story is paced perfectly, the villain is actually scary, and there is plenty of intrigue and romance that I think is much better than most movies today.

One thing about me is that I hate dying in games… yes, I am a baby but I like to enjoy the story continuously without being interrupted by things like death. The thing about the first Uncharted was that I could only play a few firefights and then quit because I'd die so often, even though I was on Normal. In Uncharted 2, I chose Very Easy so I could get through the game and hear the story. That said, I still heavily enjoyed Uncharted 1 even though I kept dying because it was a lot of fun.

Games like Ninja Gaiden, Devil May Cry, where I die every second are no fun to me because there's no reward for living other than to go on and fight and die more often. In games like Batman, Uncharted, BioShock, and Half-Life 2, when you die you want to keep going because there's a new narrative waiting to be told or a discovery to be made. I think that a part of what makes the firefights fun in Uncharted 1/2 is that there's a goal at the end, a place to get to, or a secret to be found. In other words, give me a reason to fight these people and then I won't quit the game.

I will be writing soon about this year in games because quite frankly it was an excellent year for gaming… and still could be even more excellent considering the upcoming releases of Assassin's Creed 2, Dragon Age: Origins, and Left 4 Dead 2.

October 14, 2009

Hey, Be Reasonable Now! [Web Site Release] | Posted at 10:56 PM

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I just finished a new web site today, BeReasonableNow.com, for a lifestyle guide. The web site was created for a friend of mine. I've seen the guide, there's nothing magical about it, it's totally practical and pretty funny. Check it out!

I decided since this was a one page deal that I'd try out a few design ideas I've seen lately including subtle radial gradients and larger text. I like how it turned out.

All the effects except the gradient and title image are CSS: border-radius, box-shadow, background gradient, and text-shadow primarily. I was also thinking of using the new @font-face but Arial didn't look that bad so I just left it.

I have to say, it's a pretty catchy title for a lifestyle guide.

October 6, 2009

Digital Receipts [Ideas, Ideas, Ideas] | Posted at 12:39 PM

So I was thinking earlier today, wouldn't it be great if I could view all the receipts from my purchases online in my bank account? Not only would I have a permanent record, if the format was open, I could get a lot of info on my spending habits or even an inventory of what I own.

I figured this was not a new idea and was glad to see that it's being worked on. Well, who knows if it still is, that article is from 9 years ago. The standard (ARTS Digital Receipt XML) is being used by some third parties. The only way for this to work is to get banks on-board so there can be a way to easily view these.

Not only could brick and mortars use these receipts (since they already send your credit card info to a clearinghouse), but online stores could use it too. Which means no more keeping receipts/invoices in a file cabinet! I keep receipts in empty Kleenex boxes… just in case. I don't keep receipts from small or insignificant purchases, only ones where I'd possibly need to return something.

Anyway, I thought it was a good idea and hopefully in the next decade we'll see it come to pass… I can dream, can't I?

Facebook's Gross National Happiness Index [Stats] | Posted at 12:20 PM

I was just reading the write-up on Facebook's data analysis on the use of positive and negative words in status updates.

I thought the graph was interesting. If you zoom down to a week level, you can easily see that people are happier on weekends than weekdays. Big surprise there I guess.

September 24, 2009

Spam Comments? | Posted at 2:41 PM

So I haven't been getting a lot of notifications that people have commented on my posts… but they have been and a lot were caught by Movable Type as spam.

However, a lot weren't so I let those through. One question I had for everyone, though, is why do some people leave a real comment but then try to promote their business? Some of those comments are nice and I want to let them through… but I am not OK with using my blog as free advertising.

Search engines don't follow the links in blog comments, so I am not helping their SEO, but I also don't want to make it seem like I am okay with people clicking through to these people's sites.

What do you think? I decided to allow "real" comments by these people and delete ones that are outright advertising.

September 16, 2009

The Down Low on ZipCar [Nice Ride] | Posted at 8:54 PM

So, as previously mentioned, I promised to talk a little about my experience using ZipCar. Today I took the service for a spin and here's what I have to tell you.

First, I said that ZipCar sent my ZipCard to my apartment. At least, that is what the rep over email told me. Turns out he was wrong, something went awry and it was sent to the billing address (the default shipping address). While I waited two weeks for my ZipCard I found out that it was at home when my mom called and asked what this Zip thing was in the mail. ARGH.

So I called up ZipCar, told them about it and they said they would send me a new one to my apartment. I also told my mom to send me the one at home (I called ZipCar before I knew the original ZipCard came to my billing address). The one at home arrived at my apartment before the new one sent by ZipCar did (by a few days). It wasn't a hassle to activate the "old" card, a quick phone call and I was all set (and now have an unusable ZipCard next to me). I was only frustrated for having to wait almost three weeks before I could use the service (killing some of my weekend plans).

With all that behind me and with ZipCard in hand I reserved a car today, about 15 minutes before I needed it (5:45pm) and for a whole 2.5 hours. There were six cars available from 6pm-8:30pm which is pretty impressive for such short notice, albeit a weeknight.

I picked the Honda Insight and took it for a ride. It was easy as pie to open the car, hold your ZipCard to the windshield and the locks come open. I used my University's parking pass to leave the ramp and was off to the wild blue yonder.

My overall experience was very good. The only thing I had some trouble with was gas and once you do it, you should be able to do it quickly afterward. On the Insight, you push down on the gas cover to open it. It took me about 10 minutes to figure that out, looking through the manual. I am used to pulling a lever/switch inside the car to open it.

You then swipe your ZipCard at the pump, then enter in the odometer mileage and your member ID. Once verified, pump away!

When I returned the car, it was a little confusing as to how to make sure ZipCar knew you returned the car on-time. They say you swipe the card and make sure the doors lock. I did that but there's no "special" indication that it knows you're done… but I don't know if ZipCars know when they're home. It's not a big deal and it might be nice to still get into the car once you return it before your time runs out, in order to get groceries or something. Maybe a txt at the end of your reservation that says, "Thanks for using us!" or something that isn't, "YOU WERE LATE!"

So, are ZipCars real? Yes. Do they work? Yes. Are they sweet? Yes.

August 25, 2009

This Summer: Not So Awesome Weather-wise [Historical Data] | Posted at 11:30 AM

I don't know about you but I was not a big fan of this summer's weather patterns. Lots of rain, storms, not as much sun, etc. I was interested to know how this summer compared to past summer's, so I naturally hopped onto Weather.gov to find some historical maps (numbers are cool and all but they are harder to interpret).

Rain

The first piece of data that interested me was how precipitation has changed over the years. Once you look at the maps below, it actually appears that this summer has had less rain than last summer. In fact, it seems like every other year there seems to be crazy amounts of precipitation.

June 2005

Picture 1

June 2006

Picture 2

June 2007

Picture 3

June 2008

Picture 4

June 2009

Picture 5    

So, what it appears (at least for June) is that this year is less than last year in terms of rain but 2006 was by far the least amount of rain.

The rain, however, isn't what gets at me so much as the lack of sun. What kind of maps can we find relating to cloud cover?

Cloudiness

Unfortunately I could not find any historical radar data or maps relating to cloud cover. However, using the daily weather observations for the Twin Cities, I was able to get monthly weather reports and in them there is a section that specifies how many days were clear, partly cloudy, and cloudy.

I put the 3-month data for years 2006-2009 into Excel and generated some simple line charts.

Picture 1

Picture 2

Picture 3

Picture 4 

Picture 5

Thoughts

What kind of things can we see here? Well, there seems to be a common trend of usually more clear skies in July, however we can see that this summer is an exception with a particular low number of clear skies (the purple bar in the last chart). An interesting observation is also that this July has had the most partly cloudy skies compared to previous summers.

Last July saw zero cloudy skies which was the lowest compared to July 2007 which had the most.

The last chart makes it very apparent that this summer is a bit lacking in sunshiny days (during July and August). What a bummer! Hopefully next summer will be a bit more friendly.

August 24, 2009

+5 Bones to ZipCar [Customer Service] | Posted at 9:33 AM

Bones refers to an inside joke some friends and I have, it is a currency of "awesome" doled out to people we know. You don't want negative bones.

When I signed up for ZipCar, they automatically decided to send my ZipCard to my credit card billing address. This is understandable but not ideal since that's my permanent address and not my current address.

An email to ZipCar plus a phone call (they let you leave inquiries relating to your application) and a rep just emailed me saying its on its way to my apartment. Well played, chaps!

Once I get it, expect more updates on my ZipCar experience.

August 19, 2009

Zippity Doo Da [ZipCar] | Posted at 1:56 PM

Join Zipcar and get $50 in free driving!

So, I am going to try this new ZipCar thing. I have a car at home but since parking fees are atrocious here at the U, it does not make a lot of sense to keep it around here. Worst case scenario has me taking the bus home and then I can get the car. With ZipCar, I hopefully will not have to do that… I think it will be useful for going to Target/Uptown/etc. for trips and then I can take my own car for longer trips.

I will record my experience with the cars here once I get approved. Since I turned 21 this last year, they needed information on my previous license. If you didn't write down your DL# previously, you'll need to either send in a Driver Record Request form or visit a DVS location. I had mine written down so I was in luck (though before I found it, I had already sent the $9 to DVS with the form by snail mail… oh well), otherwise it may have taken another week in addition to the time they usually take.

My logic in joining ZipCar was that: a) $30/year, how can you go wrong? and b) easy access to big stores for groceries, etc. I am in Yudof this year so food is my responsibility, that is one of the big reasons I chose to try this out. Plus, I can use it to go out on the town every once in a blue moon, maybe try some new restaurants around here (it takes like 1.5 hours to get to Jax Cafe by bus).

I am only worried about making the reservations and how many other people are using it around here. I can see myself reserving a week in advance. I'll let you know how it goes.

June 22, 2009

Windows 7 Bug: Wrong Location Tooltip [Strange] | Posted at 11:48 PM

Ironically after posting about how awesome Windows 7 is, of course I’d find a bug! Since it’s a RC, there’s bound to be a few.

See this?

image

This happened after I deleted the Opera shortcut from my desktop that was positioned underneath the BAM folder. Now the tooltip still thinks I have Opera selected!

Reflections on Windows 7 [Hallelujah] | Posted at 11:40 PM

I’ve been using the RC1 since it came out as my main OS on several computers. I use it on my desktop, tablet, and now my brother’s desktop (all 64-bit).

There’s a reason that I am not using XP: it’s time is finally over. There’s a new sheriff in town and it’s Windows 7.

So why the heralding? Isn’t it pretty much Vista with a new face? In some ways but in others it’s pretty different.

For one, Microsoft rewrote the codebase to use native code (rather than relying on other code as Vista did) which translates into much faster response time and speed improvements. Literally it is faster than XP. My tablet was slow as molasses with Vista and now it flies.

For two, there are many subtle but impactful improvements that MS did with 7 including: awesome boot screen, interesting task bar (more on that later), better Explorer navigability, themes, helpful wizards, and more.

When you install and start using Windows 7, there’s just something about it that speaks to you. It’s like it was made for you. Vista was clunky and annoying. I think what really sold me was the speed and personalization options like rotating wallpapers, awesome default themes, and cool sounds. You can also spot minor improvements all around like a better network icon/wireless finder, etc. There’s also Windows Backup that will make an image of your hard drive. Not to mention Windows Snipping Tool that makes creating how-to’s/walkthroughs easy.

The task bar is a questionable “enhancement” to Windows. On one hand, I really like it. On the other hand, sometimes it’s a little annoying. For example, when you hover over a button, it shows you a preview of the window plus if the window is open, it will fade everything out to outlines and show that window. That is nice. Losing the ability to create a nice and easy quick launch is annoying. Sure, you can create a folder, add shortcuts to it, then add a new toolbar to the taskbar and… wait, isn’t that what Quick Launch did for you?! Now you pin an item to the taskbar ala the Mac OSX dock. Mostly this is useful but it might confuse people for a little while. It is also not apparent at first that right-clicking brings up useful options for a program. Personally, I keep three programs permanently pinned: Libraries, Firefox, and Windows Media. Libraries is quick to open a new explorer window, Firefox is usually always open, and WMP for music.

The system tray is revamped too to minimize screen real-estate. Now you can pick and choose what icons to show in the tray easily by dragging and dropping them. All extra icons open in a small popup window. One thing they need to fix is if you open a program through that popup window, it won’t go away immediately unless you focus on it then click off it. It does go away after a few seconds but it’s confusing and annoying.

What about games? What about them, they all work fine! I’ve tested and played Fallout 3, Left 4 Dead, Crysis, TF2, Age of Empires, Guild Wars, and Burnout Paradise. If it worked in Vista it will work in Windows 7 (and then some, if it didn’t work in Vista, it may in 7). I am using the current non-beta Nvidia drivers and they work great. Playing Fallout 3 at 4xAA/15xAF 1680x1050 max settings with no slowdown on an 8800GTS 512MB card.

So my point is… Windows 7 is what Vista should have been and is an excellent piece of software worthy of its hype. There’s no going back to XP for me, folks!

May 8, 2009

Microsoft Office Live Workspace Video [OLW] | Posted at 10:05 AM

Me and my roommate created a video for the MSP program showcasing the reasons why you really should be using Office Live Workspace.

Check it out:

March 6, 2009

Simple BlackJack Implementation in VB.NET [Sample] | Posted at 2:48 PM

simple-blackjack

Along with a new sample section on my Intrepid Studios web site, I've also added a simple BlackJack implementation written in VB.NET. It was written for my programming class last semester and I'm just now posting it.

This is not the uber-awesome BlackJack I've mentioned before. That is still not ready for packaging. However, keep tabs on this blog or my business blog to find out when it hits.

March 5, 2009

Harmonix: Your Quality Control is SHIT. [Rant] | Posted at 12:05 AM

Don't buy Rock Band 2 drums, they suck.

Update: Yes, I know that is not the RB drum set… but my rant still applies. By the way, my old RB drum set (that got replaced) and gave to my friend is now broken as well.

Dear Harmonix Quality Control,

Okay, I think I've had enough of this… and yes, I'm going to swear in this post, go cry to your mommy you little baby.

Since buying Rock Band 1 and subsequently Rock Band 2, I've seen or experienced these issues:

  • Replace my RB1 guitar (strummer)
  • Replace my RB1 drum set (sensitivity)
  • Throw away my broken pedal
  • The replacement guitar strum bar STILL sucks but I only have it because it looks sweet
  • Watched my friend's RB1 drum pedal break (and all the thousands of other people)
  • Watched my friend's RB1 drum pads break (yellow didn't work)
  • Watched another person's RB2 drum pads break

Oh and by the way, my girlfriend's 2 year old Guitar Hero III controller? It still is fully functional (battery sometimes gets loose). Yes, they have problems, but at least they last longer than 60 days.

On New Year's day I purchased stand-alone drums for Rock Band 2 off Amazon considering, "Hey, they must have fixed all the crap that plagued the Rock Band 1 sets, so who needs a warranty?!"

Guess what?

They're already broken. That means they're worse than RB1 drums.

First, the drum pedal wasn't working (Valentine's Day) and the pads were fine. Okay… Then my Xbox breaks (fine, not your fault) and when I get it back, the drums don't sync. They're still blinking right now, in fact. Such a simple little thing that EVERYONE ELSE GETS RIGHT.

Yes, I've tried everything the other hundreds of people have tried.

This is sickening. I paid $80 for these drums, they work for a few weeks, then 62 days later they break and I can't return them because I bought them off Amazon. That's $80 down the drain. Unbelievable.

Also, I'm not the only one. Plenty of people in these threads have said they've needed to return the sets twice until they got a good set. THREE TIMES until a good set?

It was tolerable when I could easily get them replaced without this stupid 60 day warranty bullshit. I could get them replaced within a week or two. Fine. And now because you know you have shoddy manufacturing you decide to put a limit because I bet so many people have returned faulty products.

You make good games, excellent games, but you make shitty instruments (or your manufacturer makes shitty instruments). Neversoft was correct when they said we'd buy their instruments when your shit breaks. I probably will go out and buy the GH drums when I have some money to throw away again.

GET YOUR SHIT TOGETHER, SON.

Love,

A Loyal Fan [to the game]

PS. I may forgive you of your transgressions if you can somehow manage to get Blind Guardian, Ensiferum, Heavenly, Helloween, better Iron Maiden (done!), W.A.S.P., Stratovarius, Sonata Arctica, and A Night at the Opera by Queen onto the Rock Band music store.

In other words, I will maybe never forgive you.

February 24, 2009

Rewriting Comcast's Abuse Notifications [1-Up] | Posted at 9:32 PM

In my business communications class, which is actually quite fun, we had an assignment to rewrite a memo. We had to make it friendlier, easier to read, and more concise.

Continue reading "Rewriting Comcast's Abuse Notifications [1-Up]" »

February 17, 2009

How To: Track Your Xbox Repair Without Knowing the Tracking Number [Annoying] | Posted at 3:57 PM

I recently posted about how Microsoft did not provide my tracking number when it shipped my Xbox to me.

Here's how I managed to get my tracking information without calling anyone.

Microsoft sends packages using UPS and they use QuantumView. In the email they sent you where they tell you your Service Request Number, find it.

Then, go to UPS.com and use the Track by Reference feature. Paste your service request number into the Reference Number box. Then fill out where the package is supposed to go (your delivery address).

UPS will find either one or two shipments depending on how far along in the process you are.

Finally! Now I can attempt to change my delivery address.

February 16, 2009

Something is Missing… | Posted at 6:08 PM

something-is-missing

I'll give you a second.

Find it? How about, "Where's my tracking number?"

I need to change the shipping address but I have to wait until QuantumView decides to tell me my tracking number.

I miss my Xbox.

February 6, 2009

New Intrepid Studios Website [3, 2, 1 Launch!] | Posted at 4:00 PM

Intrepid Studios Screenshot

Last week I released my new Intrepid Studios website. I've fixed a lot of the bugs that were causing problems and I am constantly working on it to improve it.

I have a new vision for my studio site, where it will serve as a resource and content site instead of only a "look at my designs!" site.

You will see a lot more articles, tutorials, walkthroughs, screen casts, et al showing up on the site, I am pretty excited.

You can read more on the launch post.

December 19, 2008

Oh My God, Browsing the World in 3D [Google Earth] | Posted at 12:05 PM

Minneapolis in Google Earth, 3D Buildings

(Not a photo. Click for larger. Source: Google Earth)

So I read a little post about the new Google Earth update and how NYC is in 3D.

I decided to download Earth and look at Minneapolis (see above). So. Awesome.

To enable 3D buildings, just check "3D Buildings" in the sidebar. Then hold down right-mouse button and zoom in. Once you're in far enough, the view still start to tilt and the buildings will take on depth.

It is SO COOL to just fly around the city, I was looking at the U of MN campus and I recognized all the buildings instantly. I was half expecting to see little people moving around. I think they should add that, just for fun!

Welcome to SimWorld.

December 16, 2008

Image Grid Creator [.NET] | Posted at 2:40 PM

album_grid_creator

Update (3/5/09): Added project to Intrepid Studios.

I told you I was going to create some software that would let you make album cover grids. And I did!

Download

To download the software, head on over to the Image Grid Creator project homepage.

October 24, 2008

Shoutout to WebHostingSearch.com [Friends] | Posted at 2:15 PM

I want to thank Eva from WebHostingSearch for letting me be added to their site, WebHostingSearch.com. Check out the site for a running list of design and hosting companies around the nation.

On that note, I am getting ever so closer to releasing my brand new Intrepid Studios site. It's looking good so far. I'll post a preview soon.

October 16, 2008

Social Music Sharing Get-Together, Sponsored by Zune! [Microsoft] | Posted at 3:14 AM

Zune_hrz_4c_L_White

I'm hosting an event! My first event. Check it out!

RSVP at the Facebook Event

It's basically a music get-together. If you're reading this and you're from the U, definitely stop by… I hope to have people listening and sharing music with each other.

Maybe if it's popular I can host it again. We'll see.

October 6, 2008

How To: Get $10,000 Worth of Stuff [Digital Dorm Room] | Posted at 6:16 PM

Want lots of free stuff? Want $10,000 worth of free stuff?

Head on over to my other blog to learn more. Or just enter the damn sweepstakes. Be sure to give me credit and choose U of MN Twin Cities. Please?

October 1, 2008

On The Issue of My Shortcut URL [I'm a Narcissist?] | Posted at 10:55 PM

I have to talk a little bit about why I use my own name as a domain name that forwards to this blog (i.e. kamranayub.com).

Contrary to what you may think… it wasn't because I wanted a domain named after me. I mean, that's kind of cool, but really my thought process worked like this:

  • My blog is named Divide By Zero, why not have "divide-by-zero.com" or something?
    • Because what if I change the name of the blog later? I'd have to pay another $10 to get it changed.
  • What if it was something weird?
    • Then it doesn't describe what it's about.
  • What if I just use my name?
    • People will think I'm full of myself. Oh well.
    • I can always change where the address forwards to, if I ever change blogs or the name of the blog.
    • In the long-run it will cost less because I won't have to buy another domain!
    • People will remember because they know who I am.
    • It's shorter than divide-by-zero.com and the real URL of this blog.

Let's be honest, I am a wired person (I am everywhere)… this blog acts like my central hub of who I am. I link to my Linked In, my company, my designs, my resume, my Google shared items, my favorite blogs, etc. It just makes more sense to use my name to get to somewhere that's… about me.

I had a blog before and I got rid of it, this one is probably here to stay awhile longer… but it may end up that I switch providers (i.e. not UThink) and I change the name of the blog, or whatever.

It's just convenient to tell people "go to my name .com" to get to the blog… if it was like divide-by-zero.com I'd have to say "Go to Divide By Zero .com with dashes between every word" or "Go to Divide By Zero Blog .com all one word," ad infinitum.

So there you have it, now feel free to judge me.

August 19, 2008

5 New Posters… Plus 7 More [Lots of Pix] | Posted at 1:40 PM

Allposters had a 25% off sale… like they do every month or so, so I decided to get some new posters. Mind you, I already own like 5 or something. Somewhat sadly, Allposters is having a deal right now where a crap ton of posters are $5 and you get free shipping on orders above $9.99. That's 3 posters at $4.98. Clever bastards. I paid the shipping the first sale AND the posters that I got were all on sale today, so I basically lost $15.

I got these three the first time ($28) and the last two today ($10), since I wanted at least one vintage poster and some other kind of non-funny ones. You may be thinking 3+2 = 5 not the required 6 I had to get. The last one is a secret because it's for my girlfriend.

poster-starrynight

Starry Night by Van Gogh

I love this painting, so I decided to get it in poster form.

poster-lunchatopaskyscraper 

Lunch Atop a Skyscraper by Charles Ebbets

I have the LEGO rendition of this scene spread across both of my monitors… I love it. There’s something about this photo that just hits the spot and I’m glad I can see it everyday in my room now.

image

Big Brother

I loved 1984 so obviously it made sense to buy this. It’s not a full poster which makes me sad, but it it’s 11 x 14in which isn’t so bad.

image

The Great Wave at Kanagawa by Katsushika Hokusai

Man, what’s not awesome about this painting?

image

Star Wars: 30th Anniversary

This poster is almost a requirement since I should be true to my inner nerd. Besides being about Star Wars, it’s just a sweet poster.

As far as our walls go, they will definitely be filled. My roomie bought SEVEN new posters. These 5 in addition to my already largish collection will definitely give our room some personality.

July 9, 2008

How Not To Design a Website | Posted at 1:35 PM

Was this made in 1997? I hope so because otherwise I will personally find and murder the designer of this website:

http://www.5safepoints.com/

God help us all.

July 8, 2008

Orson Scott Card says, “Make a Wyrms Movie!” | Posted at 10:16 PM

So today on the bus ride home I finished Wyrms by Orson Scott Card. It was recommended on TWiT, so I thought I’d give it a shot.

It was awesome. At the end of the audiobook, Card has a monologue… I can’t tell if it’s part of the actual print edition or not, because at one point he moves into colloquial conversational talk.

Anyway, I like the guy. He was talking about how he came up with the idea for the book and it was because of some sort of game a company was trying to create. Except he thought that they basically just stole everything from Tolkien, there was no originality. So he decided to make a sci-fi meets fantasy story without recycling ideas that Tolkien created. He thought that it was one of his best stories and I’d have to agree. Even though I really enjoyed Ender’s Game, Wyrms felt a lot more epic and reflective.

Orson goes on to say, nay, plea that someone go out there and make a movie. He believes that Wyrms would make a great movie unlike a series like Ender’s Game. He mentions that everyone talks about how Ender’s Game would make a good movie but he dismisses that idea. I agree with him. I think Wyrms would make an amazing movie if done right. It’s totally filmable. In fact, a comic has been released and he remarks that filmmakers could actually pay attention to it because it’s so much like a storyboard. I think I’m going to go find it and buy it, I want to visualize it so much.

Comic Book Cover

If any filmmaker or filmmaker-to-be comes across this post, fame is staring you right in the face. Peter Jackson, I’m looking at you!

Fix: ATI CCC 8.6 Infinite Loop Bug | Posted at 9:50 PM

I wasn’t the only one to have this problem. Apparently, when I installed the new ATI drivers for my temporary video card, the Catalyst Control Center (CCC) will keep disappearing and reappearing if you try to open it. Others have the same problem. As pointed out in the aforelinked thread, you can just get around it by installing only the 8.6 driver and then the 8.5 CCC:

  1. If you haven’t already installed it, grab the new ATI 8.6 Display Driver Only package. Install it.
  2. If you have it installed already, uninstall the new ATI CCC from Add/Remove Programs. Note: Only the CCC, not the driver or software uninstall.
  3. Now, download and install the 8.5 CCC and then restart.

Now once you’ve restarted, you can use the Catalyst Control Center without it acting up.

Dear Creative, why did my speakers die? | Posted at 6:17 PM

So that’s not entirely accurate. See, my external decoder box that comes with the Creative Inspire 5.1 Digital 5500 speaker system died. That means I pretty much can’t use the speakers even though the speakers themselves are just fine.

I emailed Creative to see what I could do, but I fear that I will have to buy a new system… which is too bad considering all I need is a new decoder box.

I am glad I bought these quality headphones… gaming without sound is like… like… going to Baker’s Square and not ordering French silk pie!

July 7, 2008

A Yahoo Bot Conversation | Posted at 8:35 PM

I met this really cool guy named Matt Santana, who I can only assume was born in 1971. He's neat because he sent me a few links that, if clicked, would probably infect my computer with spyware!

mattsantana71: U there? lmuyb
Kamran:  yes?
mattsantana71: ywngcHey subkamrandascg
Kamran:  afkhasfHeyasfasf
mattsantana71: qcnrhHey subkamranpragm
Kamran:  893nasfsaHeyHeya;sfaf33
mattsantana71: fdvfzhow ya been cutie?sjpysmtyjt
Kamran:  asfkafk3352goooood3532kgags
mattsantana71: seiylit's, Shannon!jcgzowanhm
Kamran:  89124ffffOMGRLY-0352fffff
mattsantana71: sdbhgu wanna get together some time this week, with me a girl friendsvrjzxwe can meet somewhere close by for some fun! ;)kabhrymbsc
Kamran:  1dadsaa333yah i really want to that'd352352gggd be cool33fafoef
mattsantana71: qyhcghere is my pic http://www.h%6f%6f%6b-up%73-%72%2d%75%73.%63%6fm do u think i'm cute?podnm
Kamran:  3fjfokay i'll just click a link that will probably infect my computer with lots of malware!sfhasf333
mattsantana71: lrzeetake a look @ our profile http://www.a%64u%6ct%68%6f%6fk%2d%75%70s.n%65%74 rqoah
Kamran:  sha22awesome352d
mattsantana71: wfwdbhere is my pic http://www.%61d%75%6c%74hoo%6b%2d%75p%73%2ene%74 do u think i'm cute?erbeo
Kamran:  38fhfoh yah real cute too bad i cant see it because my computer is all fucked up from the previous links!kasfa333
mattsantana71: kphhktake a look @ our profile http://www.h%6f%6fk-%75p%73%2dr%2dus%2e%63%6f%6d hzljl
Kamran:  883wait you sent me this! i thought this was your pic!fasl333
mattsantana71: hcjottake a look @ our profile http://www.%68%6f%6f%6b-ups%2dr%2du%73%2e%63o%6d zyxdr
Kamran:  ksfhI dont understand why is it two different URLs and why are they URL encoded so that an unassuming horny teenager cant see past your facade?!lksf933
mattsantana71: natfwtake a look @ our profile http://www.%68%6f%6f%6b%2du%70s-r-u%73%2ec%6f%6d zfsrz

There was nothing important after that. It was too bad, I was hoping for a great branching conversation involving the exchange of pictures and email or MySpace pages!

July 6, 2008

July 4th Weekend | Posted at 11:22 AM

Wow, it’s been crazy over here. Hope everyone had a good 4th! My girlfriend came over from ND and we hung out with all my friends. We went to a beach up north, swam and had fun. Then we went up to my friend’s house to have food and a bonfire. Played some volleyball, badminton, and played Truth or Dare around the fire, which was a lot of fun and maybe sometimes embarrassing (some things should be best left unsaid).

Saturday we helped clean the house and we went to another beach to swim and grill hot dogs. Today we are having a family get together so we are cleaning like crazy. I am probably going to be yelled at if someone sees me on my computer.

All in all I am suffering from sleep deprivation, waking up too damn early and going to bed too damn late.

It’s nice to finally see this basement clean.

July 3, 2008

How to Have Fun With Telemarketers | Posted at 10:25 AM

Oh, the hilarity.

July 2, 2008

ScribeFire Firefox Plug-in | Posted at 10:43 AM

I am posting right now using the ScribeFire Firefox plug-in. I use Windows Live Writer when I am at home because it's fantastic for what I need. The one feature I can't live without is the automatic resizing and generation of thumbnail or resized images.

Unfortunately, ScribeFire doesn't have much image capabilities, but it does work well for quickly posting something away from home.

I would use Ecto for OS X, but it does cost money. I could always install the 21-day trial and use it...

It's too bad there isn't a free solution for what I need for OS X.

[Fixed] 10.5.4 OS X Update Breaks Parallels 3 Networking? | Posted at 10:07 AM

I don't know if it's just my system, but since I installed the 10.5.4 OSX update this morning, I can't get networking to work in Parallels 3 build 5608 (latest) for Windows XP.

This is unfortunate.

Update: I got it working. Here’s how to fix it:

  1. Stop your virtual machine.

    parallels-stop
  2. Click Edit –> Virtual Machine

    parallels-edit-vm
  3. Click Shared Networking

    parallels-network-adapter
  4. Choose “Bridged Ethernet? and then Apply

    parallels-bridged
  5. Quit Parallels
  6. Download and re-install the latest Parallels build (5608 for me).
  7. Start your Parallels again.
  8. Once in Windows, click Devices –> Network Adapter 1 and clicked “Shared Networking,? in your Parallels toolbar or right-click Parallels icon.

    parallels-xp-shared
  9. Now you should get an IP address from your Mac.

Updated 6/3: Added pictures for better understanding.

July 1, 2008

Selling Two eVGA 7900GS Video Cards | Posted at 9:12 PM

SLI Config

I am not waiting anymore. I’m selling my two 7900GS video cards even without Buy It Now. eBay can go die. I have a low reserve, the base at which I’d consider selling these. Usually they go for about $80-100 so I hope I can sell it at that price (the reserve is lower).

If you’re interested, start watching it!

TWO eVGA GeForce 7900GS KO 256MB SLi-Ready LR *USED*

June 30, 2008

How Much I Save Using Audible | Posted at 9:47 PM

If you don’t know, Audible is a subscription-based audiobook website that offers thousands of books for your download and listening pleasure.

I have been a member since December 2007, so it’s about high time to see whether or not it has turned into a good investment. I have the Audible Gold Membership which means I get 1 credit a month for $14.95/month and 30% off regular prices. That’s basically any audiobook of my choosing per month plus my member discount for regular non-credit purchases.

So, let’s take a look shall we?

Book I Spent: Real Price:
Lamb 1 Credit $23
A Thousand Splendid Suns 1 Credit $20
The Diamond Age 1 Credit $25
Snow Crash 1 Credit $25
Wyrms 1 Credit $17
The Pillars of the Earth 1 Credit $30
Screwtape Letters $6.46 $7.66
Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao 1 Credit $20
Shadow Divers Free ($25 gift) $25
Membership: $82.27 --
Totals: $88.73 $192.66

So, let’s see, by subscribing to Audible for $15/month (and $8/month for 3 months) in 7 months I’ve saved $103.93, assuming I would have bought these separately (which I would not have). I did not add the accidental order of Snow Crash the abridged version for $13. I accidentally used a credit there when I forgot I had already bought Snow Crash. If I had known and used that credit for good, that would have added a nice $25 to that final total.

That means I saved more than what my subscription was worth (I saved 54%)!

Then let’s add the priceless sum of knowledge and worldliness granted by reading books and it turns out the Audible subscription is well worth its price.

That means that you should subscribe to Audible. It’s awesome!

Thank you to TWiT for introducing me to Audible.

Nightly Update [6-30-08] | Posted at 8:15 PM

ebay

eBay still won’t let me (and other people) use Buy It Now. What’s with this? I talked to a support person again today and they said it’s still not resolved but they’re working on it.

I am --[ ]-- that close to murder (not really). Still, it’s been 2 weeks, not counting how long before then it didn’t work.

In other news I had a dentist appointment today so I stayed home. I made good use of my time by finishing Day of the Tentacle and getting to Part 3 on Secret of Monkey Island 1.

Seriously, I missed out on some awesome games. This summer I will finish all the Monkey Islands, Grim Fandango, and Psychonauts (I am almost done with ‘nauts) because I am addicted to puzzles.

Worms arrived for my DS and I still haven’t beat No More Heroes. SO MANY GAMES.

Later this week, my girlfriend is coming from North Dakota for the 4th and staying the weekend, how exciting! This will be a very busy week. Tomorrow my friend is supposed to come over and we’re supposed to watch B13, the french action movie. Thursday have to pick up the girlfriend at the airport, Friday is the 4th so busy all day, and Saturday we’re supposed to go to a waterpark. The weekend of the 12th I am going up to the cabin with like 8 people, so that should be a blast, too. Then the night of the 15th I am going to go visit my girlfriend for a week. So yah, July is pretty much non-existent in my calendar.

How do people usually handle telemarketers? One just called and asked for my dad, except he butchered the name. I just said he was busy (he’s napping) and “Goodbye.? Usually if they start sales-pitching I just hang up. I figure it just makes their life easier because they don’t have to hear someone straining trying not to stab them through the phone.

June 25, 2008

O Sweet, Sweet Metal! | Posted at 12:40 PM

In my earlier post I mentioned a free metal sampler from Nuclear Blast.

On the sampler is a band called “Equilibrium? who I've never heard of but are in the same vein as my favorite band, Ensiferum.

One thing is for sure: they are awesome. I hopped onto Amazon at once to see if I could buy the CD but apparently their new album, Sagas, isn't available until July 8! Sadness.

I marked my calendar so I can get it when it's released. In the meantime, I can listen to the one full track and the previews of the others.

["Sagas" via Amazon]

June 23, 2008

More eBay Delays | Posted at 10:01 PM

So I got my fifth positive feedback today from the item I bought. Thinking, “Alright, now I can finally list my item with Buy It Now,? I go to finish listing my item.

I still can’t and it’s 9pm, I got my feedback in the morning. Does it take that long for eBay to update my seller account? I talked with a support person and they said it might be delayed and I should send an email to their Trust team, which I did.

I suppose I’ll have to list it tomorrow.

Update: A support representative emailed me back:

Kamran, I would like to inform you that, there is a problem going on from our side and that is the reason you are not able to find the option of "Buy it now".

Thank you for your message. I've forwarded the information you provided to our Tech team and they're working to correct this.

Thanks again for taking the time to alert us to the problem. I apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused.

Well I am glad I told them… some people seem to be having the same problem because I’ve gotten Googled with similar search phrases.

June 22, 2008

eBay’s ID Verify Broken | Posted at 10:43 AM

I was on eBay yesterday trying to sell my two video cards, and of course for Buy It Now you have to have more than 5 feedback. I have 4. So, I looked at eBay’s help pages and there’s a little known application called ID Verify, you pay $5 at the end and you can get all the seller perks. So naturally I wanted to because I wanted to sell my stuff tonight (Sundays at 7pm PST seem to work the best).

Naturally, it didn’t work. I fill out the information, most of which is pre-filled, and try to submit it. It says I have to fill in my address information. Great except you know what? It’s already filled in. Big help, eBay.

I emailed support because why would they have a Seller Support Line like Amazon, that’d make too much sense (which is, by the way, available 24/7). So now they won’t get back to me ‘til tomorrow, after the best time to sell passes.

I did buy something to get the extra feedback but I don’t think they’ll leave it until Monday. Grrr.

I guess I’ll have to make due selling Monday night.

Update: For future reference, it isn’t necessarily the address you registered with eBay, rather more like the USPS address. Since I live in a suburb, I had to use “Minneapolis? as the city instead and then it worked. By that time I had my 5 feedback, though.

June 20, 2008

Animoto: Pretty Fun Web App | Posted at 11:05 AM

I found this via Superficial Intelligence, another U blog.

Basically, you use a number of pictures and a music file and Animoto will create a video based on the pictures and music. It’s pretty neat, check out the 30 second clip I made:

It creates 30 second clips for free, otherwise it costs money for full ones.

What I’m Reading and Playing | Posted at 12:02 AM

Right now I am reading Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash from Audible. I listen to it on the way to and from work so I get a good hour and a half or so every day. I’m about an hour and a half close to finishing it.

snowcrash

Despite the book being crazy and humorous, it has some interesting ideas. The detail that Stephenson goes into about biological vs. technical viruses is very intriguing. It’s only fully explained at the end and I won’t ruin it for you. There are certain portions of the book that are about 20-30 minutes of straight “history.? I don’t know anything about Sumarian society or culture, so I can’t say whether or not it’s all true. Although when I was listening to it in the van, my mom was talking about some of the deities and cults that the book was mentioning.

What’s even more interesting is the Metaverse idea. It was Stephenson’s idea to a successor of the Internet. It’s basically Second Life with better avatars, graphics, and millions of people, and more like a real life mirror.

If the history bores you the characters are what get to you. The rebellious YT and the hilariously geeky yet bad ass Hiro are pretty lovable. It’s even more fun listening to the book because the narrator, Jonathan Davis, does an amazing job (I mentioned how awesome he was in The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao). He nails the accents and makes the whole book fun to listen to.

When I can, I am playing Devil May Cry 4, No More Heroes, and GTA IV (still).

I’m not sure what I think about DMC 4. It’s cheesy… but the fighting is pretty decent. Still, I’m not a real combo-Ninja-Gaiden-button-masher type person. I think it warrants about a B- or C+… I plan to finish it but some parts really piss me off so I stop playing. I stopped trying the secret missions altogether. It’s one of those games that I just want to finish to get through it.

I’ve only played about an hour of No More Heroes. Very interesting game, I’m not sure how I feel about it. On the one hand the style is old-school and on the other I have to shake the Wiimote a LOT.

I’m still trying to beat GTA IV. I am only at 60.74% right now. It says I’ve played about 40 hours. It would have been more if I didn’t have to avoid my siblings to play it… as it is, I can only play when they’re not around. All that swearing and such, you know.

I was playing it yesterday when they were gone and my mom was in the background, fiddling around on her computer. She’s hearing some of the vulgarity-laden dialogue with Jimmy Pegorino and she goes:

“You didn’t buy this, did you??

Haha. Poor mom.

June 19, 2008

First Amazon MP3 Purchase | Posted at 11:38 PM

I wanted to buy a true DRM free album today, so I browsed Amazon MP3 for some of my favorite artists. Surprisingly it found all of the bands (and their albums) that I was looking for.

I ended up getting 3 Inches of Blood’s “Fire Up the Blades.? It’s a really nice album… I’m not finished listening to it though, I just bought it about 5 minutes ago.

Fire up the Blades

Amazon’s setup is surprisingly simple. A small program is downloaded that gets the MP3s, then it places them into your My Music folder properly organized and adds the songs to either WMP or iTunes. I had to modify the preferences at first because it defaults to iTunes and saves it in My Music/Amazon MP3.

Damn, between Amazon MP3, Rock Band, and Audible I will be spending a lot of money on music and books…

June 16, 2008

Comcast vs. Satellite | Posted at 5:36 PM

My family is getting tired of paying out the nose for Comcast cable. We get charged about $88-$90 per month just for cable. We only watch a handful of channels like TLC, HGTV, Discovery, CNN, Cartoon Network, Nick, Disney, Comedy Central, and some HD channels.

Now that we have a brand spankin’ new HDTV, I realized that Comcast’s HD lineup is really terrible. Half of it is sports and the a third or so is premium channels that we can’t watch. What use is that?

So I’ve been researching a bit and I think we might go with Dish Network’s DishHD package. It comes with about 40 good HD channels (including 90% of the ones we only watch), for about $30/month base price.

My dad wants to have two receivers for two rooms since he wants an HDTV upstairs eventually too. I suggested we get the free HD DVR for the entertainment room TV and then just buy a nice HDTV antenna to get all the local HD channels and analog channels for the other TVs. That way they can enjoy their news and TV shows upstairs in HD and come downstairs to view their special satellite-only HD shows. Besides, the free HD DVR has a dual-tuner, so it can at least output some standard def to another TV separately.

Hey, for $30, not bad? Plus with a NetFlix subscription and an Xbox 360… well, streaming movies!

Comcast, just because you have “more HD channels than satellite? doesn’t equate to them being better. Quality over quantity, buddies.

June 15, 2008

Grad Party and Baby Rabbits | Posted at 11:26 PM

I went to my friends' grad party today. That's two friends, both of them held their party together because they will be related soon since one of them is marrying the other's sister.

Anyway, we played some volleyball, ate food, and had an all-around grand 'ol time. The highlight though has to be the baby rabbits in the yard.

Rabbit 6-15-2008 6-21-56 PM

It's a tale of life and death, since one rabbit had died before we came upon them, and one died in our arms as we tried to nurse it. Sad...

Rabbit 6-15-2008 6-22-06 PM

The good news is that they are taking care of the other ones even though they technically can be by themselves. Hopefully that will go over well!

One of the male members of our party decided it would be humorous to put a little critter in a, more tasteful, environment:

Rabbit 6-15-2008 6-47-42 PM

As you can probably guess, female members of the party were decidedly angry about said show of male humor.

Rabbit 6-15-2008 6-47-50 PM 

What? I thought it was funny.

June 12, 2008

My Custom Rock Band Guitar | Posted at 11:14 AM

If you want to see the epitome of nerdy, I bought a decal for my Rock Band guitar because I wanted it to stand out… and if someone stole it, I’d know it was mine.

Behold, the Inked Out Guitar:

Rock Band Guitar Body

Nice, eh?

Guitar Neck

Another guitar body picture

I have to be honest though, I think that I will take the decals off the fingered frets because it makes it hard to slide my finger over, plus it catches on the edge of the vinyl. Not fun!

You can buy yours at Digital Camo, but it took a long time to come. I think about 3-4 weeks. Shipping was fast, but to actually make the order took awhile. Still, it’s really sweet!

June 11, 2008

A New Way to Waste Time | Posted at 11:06 PM

My co-workers and company have created a neat little site called, simply, Scribbls. Scribbls let’s people do collaborative drawing by adding pictures together to equal something else.

One thing is for sure, it’s a lot of fun.

Check it out!

June 10, 2008

Update on my Tyson Motsinger experience | Posted at 10:13 AM

Update 1/22/10: Tyson responds to complaints.

There are a lot of people hitting my blog looking for information regarding the Nebraska Books Company scam and Tyson Motsinger.

Here's my latest update:

Motsinger ordered a book a few weeks ago from me and I called Amazon Seller Support to find out what to do. I was told to send the book with signature confirmation, just in case something happens. So I did. So far, I haven't had any problems and that was over 3 weeks ago.

I think that problems arise when you send them a book that doesn't exactly match your description and condition and ISBN number. If you are accurate, I don't think you'll have any problems.

Since that order, he hasn't bothered me, so I don't have to deal with that anymore.

For up-to-date discussions, check out the Amazon Seller Community forums.

June 1, 2008

Selling an AMD Athlon XP 3200+ | Posted at 12:16 AM

I'm selling an AMD Athlon XP 3200+ CPU, the listing starts tomorrow at 7PM PST:

http://tinyurl.com/4u9hgo

I'm also selling an Xbox (original) that comes with two wireless controllers and an HD cable for $20 (local), $10 shipping (for out-of-state). If you're interested, leave a comment with your real email and I'll contact you.

May 22, 2008

GamePie Facebook Application | Posted at 11:48 PM

I recently added the GamePie Facebook application, created by some developers at GameFly. I was impressed with what I saw and decided to help out a little. I created a mockup of a new layout and design for their profile page.

The problem right now is ease of use, information is too many clicks away, and not enough to do. Flixter (Movies) application is amazing and so is VisualBookShelf because they are so well integrated with the profile and your friends. I think that GamePie could become another big application if they do it right.

I actually created a thread about some ideas and posted this mockup:

mockupgamepie.jpg

I spent about 2 hours working on it, so no big deal. The funny thing is, after I created it, I was really sad the page isn't like that.

More about Tyson Motsinger/Nebraska Book Company | Posted at 11:35 PM

Update 1/22/10: Tyson responds to complaints.

If you are looking for the latest information regarding the issue with Nebraska Book Company aka Tyson Motsinger (and a few other aliases), check out the Seller Soapbox on Amazon Seller Community. There's a few threads on the issue and are kept up-to-date.

I got an order from them a few days ago and they haven't canceled on me yet after 3 days. So, I will be shipping the package tomorrow and pray for the best.

I called Amazon Seller Support and the rep said that I should send it with Sig and Delivery confirmation. If I have problems, I should contact them again. Apparently Nebraska Books is being monitored by Amazon since many sellers have gotten huge numbers of canceled orders.

Who knew trying to sell textbooks would be so damn complicated!

May 20, 2008

Exposing Hollywood: A Short | Posted at 1:21 PM

For Geology and Cinema (GEO 1005), we had to create a geology presentation for lab. Well, my team and I decided that it would be fun to do a little animation. So we did. It came out well, I never animated before and Premier Pro isn't that great at animating. I'd rather use Flash instead, but the audio is one mp3 file, which makes it impossible to sync in the Flash timeline. With more time, I would have split the tracks.

May 19, 2008

Seller Beware [Updated] | Posted at 10:14 PM

Update 1/22/10: Tyson responds to complaints.

A portion of the books I sold today on Amazon were bought by a customer named, "Tyson Motsinger." Since I didn't believe someone could have a name that stupid, I looked up the specified address on Google Maps. Strange, doesn't exist. Not only that but the names of the shipee was different on each order.

A quick Google search of the name turns up this thread. Lo and behold, my instincts proved correct. It's a company, Nebraska Book Company. They apparently have a phone number you can call to opt out of their bot-using tactics. Tomorrow I will give them a call.

From reading the various comments in-between the flaming, I think that if you sell them your book exactly as you described it and with the exact ISBN, you should be okay. One of the books I bought would have probably made them scam me because it's the International Edition but I listed it under the US edition's ISBN. A regular person might not have a problem because they read the comments, but a bot doesn't so the company would assume it's the exact copy that's listed.

Anyway, once I opt-out, I'll relist my books. These kinds of tactics are really annoying and should not be allowed.

There seems to be an opt out page,

http://www.selleroptout.com/optout.aspx?id=

The ID value seems to be the order ID (xxx-xxxxxxx-xxxxxxx) and then a 'pxxxxxx' but I can't figure out what the x numbers are for after the 'p.'

What's weird is that the shipping address is Athens, Ohio, but the company is located here:

Nebraska Book Company, Inc.
4700 South 19th Street
Lincoln, NE 68512
US

It doesn't make much sense.

For people who've been scammed by this company, here's a great way to get back at them. They are a part of the Better Business Bureau. Send a complaint their way, they are required to respond. If enough of you guys complain, I'm sure some action will be taken.

File a complaint here

When it asks you to search for the company, use this phone number. It's the Administrative Contact phone on their WHOIS domain record:

402-421-7300

I can't contact them because I didn't technically do business with them. But some of you have been scammed, insofar as they didn't return the book but made you refund them. You should file a complaint. That will get their attention. Apparently this company does a lot of business.

What is "Divide by Zero"? | Posted at 3:36 PM

I've created this blog because sometimes I have the sudden urge to write about something. Whether it be about school, life, or the world, I'd like to record it. Sometimes I want to share something that I think would help people out or is so exciting that I want to tell the world. Here's where I can do it.

I look forward to a lasting relationship.