Sunday, September 30, 2012

Blogger Images

And very quickly, why can't Blogger just fit images to the pane width?  I don't understand why there's Small, Medium, Large, all three looking too small for my blog, and then X-Large, which is too big.  Blogger knows the dimensions of my blog, right? Why not just do an automatic fit?

I like not paying for hosting anymore, and Blogger is usually more than capable of what I want to do, but it suffers a lot from Google's penchant for oversimplifying.  Just give me some more options!  Just one of those little triangle icons that unfold a few more options, how hard are those?

Oh well,


Google Drive and Other Cloud Sync Services

To the casual user, I can only assume that one sync service is as good as another.  Dropbox only offers 2gb of service, Google Drive offers 5, so perhaps that makes some kind of difference.  Well that and, a ton of people already have a Google account, right?

However, there are a few differences.  Firstly, Dropbox and SpiderOak seem to be the two file syncing services with the best cross-platform support.  I can't find any official Linux app for Google Drive or SugarSync, though SugarSync seems to have the best Android app (with actual two-way syncing of entire folders).  However, SugarSync on Android messed up my files quite a lot, forcing older versions to overwrite new versions, and problems like that.

Dropbox doesn't sync whole files if it doesn't have to, sometimes it only changes the updated parts of a file.  GDrive only copies whole files, to the best of my current knowledge.  I'm note sure about the rest of the sync programs.

SugarSync has the best customization, I think, where you can select multiple folders to sync, at different locations, etc.  SpiderOak actually is just as customizable, albeit a lot slower to actually transfer.  On the other hand, SpiderOak is super-secure, one of those setups where they can't look at your files, because they don't know your password.  Of course, that also means no recovery if you forget it.

Right now I use FolderSync on Android for dedicated syncing of files I edit on my phone and desktop.  It works with all the biggest sync services, and it works very well.  Very customizable.  I won't tell you what sync service I'm using for these files, but it doesn't really matter that much.

Google Drive won't let you choose a custom place to store your files on your computer.  Not that I can find, at least.  Seeing as how I'm considering a move to Kansas City--for Google Fiber, to be closer to family, etc, I may soon be in a position to make good use of that free 1TB of Google Drive storage.   But is Google really expecting me to keep 1TB free on my C: for that?

Okay, Google probably doesn't expect me to actively sync my entire Google Drive to my computer, but on one computer, I probably will.  I'd definitely sync all my music on it, all my ebooks, a lot of my work files that just need to be backed up in case of a fire or something.

It's worth mentioning that even though you can't set your Google Drive directory anywhere but in My Documents, you can choose which folders you want to sync to a particular computer, so your netbook could constantly sync your work files but not all your music.

Just thinking about the future, and if I had a 1TB Google Drive, how ridiculous it would be to keep all that space on the C drive.

It's worth pointing out that Windows 7 actually makes it really easy to move any Windows folder in your User directory to a different location.  Simply right click, go to Properties and then change it in the Location tab.  Put your download directory on your second drive, easy as that.  Too bad it doesn't work with third party folders.

Too bad Google Drive doesn't make it at least that easy.  I would say that it's probably coming eventually, but Google's main problems in my book are their slowness of updating services and their lack of allowing user customization in general.


Saturday, September 15, 2012

Cleaning House

Occassionally when I have a thought or see something I want to blog about, I email it to myself.  I have a bit of a backlog building here so I'm spending the day going through old links and scheduling future posts.  Of course, I'd post ideas as they came if there were a better text input method for touchscreen phones.  I blogged from my N900 all the time.

Hey, I should blog about that!

I hope nobody clicked on that link only to be disappointed that it just went to my previous post. Let's be honest, if you're reading this then you probably read that one as well.

Anyway, that's my Saturday.


Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Smartphones vs Netbooks

Trying to keep this short, I've had an EeePC 701, 901, and T91MT.  I might have messed up the first two model numbers, it's been a while.

I was so extremely excited when I learned about the invention (and release) of the netbook.  In theory, they could give me the freedom to take everything with me.  My writing, web surfing, reading, watching--whatever tv show I was working through, movies, etc.

In practice...well, it was pretty close.

Typing was the activity I was most worried about not being workable on a netbook.  Those nine inch keyboards did take some getting used to.  Felt like I was typing with thick leather gloves on my hands at first, but to be honest I've come to prefer a smaller keyboard.  I feel like it's easier on my hands, and perhaps a slight bit faster than a full sized keyboard, though there are a lot more typos on a smaller one.

Battery life has been pretty weak on these three models.  Video playback as do-able, though it's also very spotty codec-to-codec, especially on the T91MT, with it's abysmal poulsbo graphics chip. The T91MT has problems scrolling simple web pages sometimes.  Not too Linux-friendly, either.

Reading was a draw.  I could and did read comics on them, but the crappy viewing angles of that period's LCDs made anything hard to read in portrait mode.  I already was used to reading prose books on my phone, so there was no reason to cart my netbook out to take over that responsibility.

I had a Nokia N900 for a while.  Great phone.  Still miss the awesome OS.  Tried to watch videos on it, catching up on my shows while visiting family for instance.  Never really liked it.  Screen was too small, resolution not good enough.  It would do in a pinch, but not for regular viewing.

Now I have a Galaxy Note.  Battery life is way better than my netbooks had.  Can watch videos just fine, and even though the screen if relatively small it's got a good resolution and it's got a good picture.

I can read comics on the thing!  In portrait mode, surprisingly but it's easiest in landscape mode.  Two page spreads cause me some problems, though it's still readable, just takes a little fussing.  Reading in landscape, scaling to fit page width, it's actually very comfortable.  I was delightfully surprised.  Maybe I shouldn't have been.  I did once in a pinch read a comic on my Nokia N800.  The thing got super hot, the battery percentage dropped faster than I'd ever seen before, and that was tiny screen (on a device that's, overall, roughly the same size as my Note is, but my Note is almost all screen).

I can read books on it, obviously.  So there's nearly all my demands and expectations on netbooks, cleanly met by smartphones.  Except one.  Writing.

Freaking writing.  I could write, believe it or not, 40-60wpm on my N900's slide-out keyboard.  I was fairly happy with that rate.  I can't write for shit on an on-screen keyboard.  Virtual keyboards.  Ugh.

There were rumors a few months back that RIM, Blackberry's RIM, were working on a version of the Note with a slide-out Blackberry-style keyboard.  I've never used a Blackberry for an extended period of time, but I'd be willing to bet I'd take to it fairly quickly.

Even so, it would be pretty fast, but still not as fast as at least a 9" keyboard.  I have a 9" Bluetooth I can cart out when I've got a table in front of me, and I'm going to write out something fairly long.  Still would be nice not to have to bother with it.

I wish there were a better option for putting ideas down in my phone. For proofreading and editing, for straight up writing.  I'm sure something's on it's way, but you know...I want it now.

Til then,


Saturday, August 25, 2012

Patent Infringement Part One

I'm just going to copy this directly from Notch's tumbler.  Notch is the creator of Minecraft, which I haven't played but certainly intrigues me.  Here's what he has to say about patents:
Let’s say you’re Neo, and you were the first person ever to come up with the idea of a novel. It’s like a short story, but longer, and you’re really proud of it.
Trinity then runs up to you and takes one of the few printed copies of your novel. You don’t want her to do that, as you paid good money to have it printed, and was hoping to get that money back, so you taze her. Trinity tried to commit theft.
She sulks for a bit, then asks if she can borrow one copy to read it. You say “sure”, but she sneaks off to the copy machine and starts printing her own copies of the book. You don’t want her to do that, as you want to be the only one who can make new copies of your novel, as you want to make a profit of it, so you taze her. Trinity tried to commit copyright infringement.
She sobs for a bit more, then starts writing her own novel. You don’t want her to do that, because you came up with the idea of writing a longer short story first, and you want to profit from all novels that are ever written, by anyone, so you taze her. Trinity tried to commit patent infringement.
He goes on to make a point I very much agree with, by the way.

I think (and hope) that it's slowly becoming more and more obvious to John and Jane Public that our patent (and copyright) system is creating more problems than it prevents.  Technology is improving faster and faster, and the amount of time a patent (or copyright) is protected needs to be drastically shortened or abolished altogether.
But more on this later.


Monday, August 20, 2012

App Ads

I am so, so sick of web sites that see I'm visiting from a phone and throw up a click-through notice that tells me they have an Android app available.

Look, maybe if you were the only web site on the entire internet that I visited then I'd use a dedicated app instead of a browser. As it stands it would be extremely, extremely over complicated for me to use a seperate app for each web site I visit.

I can kind of understand it for forums, but  general magazine sites?  What purpose would  that serve?  Just build a mobile page of you want, though that brings it's own problems if not done right.


Monday, August 13, 2012

Co-Op TF2?

According to Steam, which can be spotty in reporting this particular metric, I have played Team Fortress 2 for 194 hours.  That's probably about right.

Look, I'd like to have played more Left 4 Dead 2, the four-player zombie survival game.  I have never been good enough at it to play it online with strangers, and it's no fun playing it alone to get better.  All my gamer friends play it on a console, but I'm primarily a PC gamer--even though I did buy Left 4 Dead (1) for the 360 to play with one of my roommates.  We only played it a few times (I got a job, actually, and that interfered a lot with our playing), the whole experience just further proving how awful I was at it.

Apparently I kept upsetting some witch or something, though how I was supposed to know there was a witch there, or that I was supposed to turn off my light when my friend turned off his light...I would just need a lot more time with it in order to play with potentially critical strangers, okay?

So anyway:  Team Fortress 2 Co-Op mode?  Wait a minute...wait a minute...that's flipping great!  I'm halfway decent at that game!

What do you know, once again, TF2 drags me back kicking and screaming--and giggling...

...IN HORROR!!!!!


Thursday, August 9, 2012

Shift Lock Sorted (Android Bluetooth Keyboard)

So I had a big Android post brewing, talking up a storm about some of the big and surprising problems with Android.  In particular I was going to talk about the deplorable keyboard support.  Gingerbread had some shift lock issues, meaning if you accidentally hit the Shift key twice you were in CAPS LOCK.  It also didn't act correctly when you held the Control key and pressed an arrow key (the cursor wouldn't skip words).

Yet another issue, Gingerbread didn't recognize my external keyboard's delete key.

Well, that post was scrapped a while ago, once I loaded Android 4.0 (ICS) onto my phone.  ICS handles all those things just fine. Moving the cursor while holding CTRL acts like it should.  The delete key is recognized. That dreaded Shift lock is no more.  All fixed.

The only problem so far, and I literally just ran into this, is that the backspace key won't work if the Shift key is held.  Not a big deal, just a tiny issue.

If you're currently running Gingerbread I can't tell you how to fix most of those problems without upgrading.  I do know how to get rid of the awful Shift lock.  Download the free and awesome MultiLing keyboard, go into Settings, and let it handle the hardware keyboard.  Shift lock sorted, even on Gingerbread.


Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Crea post 2

Researching is designed to give crafting a sense of discovery while striving to keep players inside of Crea and off of a wiki page.
So there you have it, Crea is most definitely not a Terraria clone.

(Terraria is one of those games, like The Binding of Isaac, where I was unable to play for very long without alt-tabbing and looking an item up in the browser.  That might be playing against the developer's intentions, but that's how I do it.)


Tuesday, August 7, 2012


Oops, this was scheduled to post last week, and I just realized it didn't.  A little late for their Kickstarter, but it did succeed, and it's not like blog has any influence anyway.  Oh well, the game is being made, and it still looks cool, so read on...

Crea is a 2D sandbox with RPG elements, to paraphrase their Kickstarter page.  Their FAQ addresses concerns that it may be a Terraria clone.  I mentioned earlier that I liked Terraria fine, but without a narrative or direction I got bored.

What I didn't mention was that there were people working on trying to add a story, or at least RPG-style missions, to Terraria as a mod.  They stopped for many reasons, one of which was the difficulty in modding the game.

I don't think Terraria was intended to be modded.  Not that the developers didn't want people to mod the game, they just didn't have modding in mind when they were making it.  They probably didn't understand how big the game would get, or how many people would want to alter such a simple game to suit their own tastes.

When it was announced that Terraria was no longer going to be supported, there were a lot of fans upset that the developers didn't take the extra time to make the game easier to mod.

A lot of the currently existing mods for Terraria are cool, and I would have liked to see more.  However, there were no promises I ever saw that modding tools would be provided.  I don't think the developers have any sort of obligation, however modding tools can pay off--you never know when a really great mod will bring more gamers in.  Arma 2 and Day Z, anybody?

Now, I doubt that Crea is going to be just a Terraria clone.  But if it were, I'm cool with it.  They're stating a focus in easy modding.  I would love a Terraria clone with easy modding, I really would.  I'm not a modder myself, but I do like mods.

BTW, looking even just at their crafting page it's apparent that this game is not a Terraria clone.  I was looking forward to it even just to see how the community would mod it, but now I'm getting excited for the core game itself.

It's definitely going on my list.


Starbound, Please Take My Money

Check this out:
Starbound begins with you fleeing your homeworld in a space shuttle, just as it’s destroyed by an unknown enemy. With nothing to guide it, the escape pod shoots into space without direction, becoming hopelessly lost in a sea of stars. As luck would have it, the space shuttle makes contact with an abandoned space station and an adventure begins that will take you hurtling across the universe. Starbound contains both quests and story driven missions, buried inside its vast sandbox universe.
I liked Terraria enough.  I mean, the amount of fun I had playing it was worth the cost, but I only sunk about a dozen hours into it before getting bored.  Okay, I know, "only" a dozen hours of fun.

I liked exploring, crafting, sandboxing, all that, but I wanted something more: direction.  I would have loved some sort of narrative, but even just a tiny bit of direction (besides the few hints NPCs give you) would have made a big difference to me.

At first glance, Starbound looks like Terraria with a story.  Do more digging though, and it becomes clear it's more like Terraria on steroids with a story also on steroids.  In fact, it looks to be adding such a layer of depth that comparisons to Terraria are almost silly, excepting fundamental similarities in the art style (and some of Terraria's old team is working on Starbound).

You can inspect items and plants in the world.  There looks to be a lot of randomness in the generation of everything in the game.  Distinct varieties of flora and fauna.  Planets that have their own unique look and lifeforms.

Starbound looks like it mixes everything I liked about Terraria with the primary components I found it wanting.  And it involves space exploration.  By all means check out the web site.  Everything new I learn only makes me want to play Starbound even more.

As much as I find myself trying to prevent the accelerating passage of time, I can't keep myself from wishing summer were over so I could be playing Starbound.  Really, really wishing.


Monday, August 6, 2012


I will admit, I didn't really give too much attention to FTL. I like the sound of a Rougelike in space, but the focus on ship management turned me off.  Then I read this interview of Justin Ma and Matthew Davis on Rock, Paper Shotgun.  This is the bit that really caught my eye:
Justin Ma: Recently I had a rough fight in an asteroid field and had to jump away with a number of my systems being damage. However, at the next beacon I was immediately attacked and boarded by a rebel ship. The boarders were in my weapons system and attacking it so I made a hasty decision: I teleported my few surviving crew members onto the enemy ship while locking down our blast-doors and using a bomb to make a hull breach in the weapons room of my own ship. While the boarders were suffocating, I finished off their ship’s remaining crew and disabled their weapons. I was able to win a fight I thought I would surely lose in a matter of moments. 
To paraphrase, his ship was messed up so he jumped it to a new location, only to have it boarded by rebels there.  He teleported his crew onto the boarding ship, locked the door of the room the boarders were in, then breached the hull with a bomb so they would suffocate to death.



Ahem ahem...


Seriously, just take my freaking money already. 


Saturday, August 4, 2012

Viking and Geeks and Artists

"Vikings will work for plunder.  Geeks and artists will work for a dream, but businesspeople require other forms of motivation." -Neal Stephenson, (in the second video for the Clang Kickstarter)

The Clang Kickstarter is over.  It met it's goal.  I was just re-watching the videos and, well, I just really like that line.  The Kickstarter campaign is to make a more realistic sword-fighting game.  I'm not into sword fighting, but I do like these guys' style.


Wednesday, August 1, 2012

VR Headset

Wow, this Kickstarter for a VR Headset looks really freaking cool.  Too bad it doesn't look like it'll make it.


Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Cup-holder Fail

I was in a minor car accident a while ago.  Had a rental car for almost a month while mine was in the shop.  Guess what I learned?
I learned that this is NOT a cup-holder, it's a practical joke.  See the super-cool design, how the two holes are joined?  Maybe you can guess what happens if you use it to hold one of these:

 (Free advertising for QT unintentional)

Can you guess what happens?  Well, if the car is in motion and stops, the cup tips forward.  Put it in the front holder, and it tips backwards as you accelerate.

Hahahahah!!!  Snap! you got me again, Ford!  What a cool company, introducing new designs to further engage your customers via pranks.

And this wasn't even a fast car, it's not like I was gunning it and that's why my drink spilled.  This was a rental Focus, a Focus that I can only assume had some kind of limiter.  I've driven some shitboxes in my day, but nothing so slow to accelerate as this Focus was.

Luckily my car has since come out of the shop.  Its cup holders follow that antiquated closed circle design that keeps your drinks from spilling all over the interior of your car.  Call me old fashioned...