Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Z2K9 update.

The Zune problem was apparently caused by a software bug related to leap years. Here's Microsoft's official response: I hope mine actually works tomorrow.

Curse you, Zune gods!

Last night (actually early this morning) I discovered my Zune 30 frozen on the logo screen. I thought it was related to the issues that I had with it during my recent trip to Asia. The two times it froze there (while I was trying to switch songs), draining the battery and restarting seemed to get things back to normal. This time that didn't work. I've spent the last couple of hours looking up Zune freeze fixes, and even tried disconnecting the battery (which requires popping open the case).

I eventually found a couple of articles which lead me to believe that I'm not the only one with this problem, and it is actually a bit of an epidemic (I hesitate to use that word since so few people actually own Zunes). See and Microsoft even posted the following Zune service status:
Customers with 30gb Zune devices may experience issues when booting their Zune hardware. We’re aware of the problem and are working to correct it. The Zune Social might be slow or inaccessible. Sorry for the inconvenience, and thanks for your patience!
My brother Chike ran into this DIY fix: I'm a little hesitant to try it, since Microsoft is working on a fix. But then again, my Zune is already well past warranty and I already opened it up. I hope they come out with some direction soon, so that I can start listening to my Zune soon.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Fried chicken, chocolate cake, and chicken tikka masala.

During my recent trip to Japan, I found out that many Japanese people celebrate Christmas by eating KFC and a Christmas cake, which I think is quite hilarious. So I suggested to my mother that for Christmas dinner (yes, we have Christmas dinner even though none of us is really Christian) this year we should have fried chicken and chocolate cake. She more than obliged. The dinner consisted of a fancy salad, fried chicken, rice, shrimp scampi, chicken tikka masala, beans, cakes (one variety, one chocolate), and pie (apple and pumpkin). I'm normally a fan of the standard ham dinner, but this might have topped it.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Asia travelogue.

I have started my travelogue for my trip to Asia. You can find it here.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Yes we can.

Two years ago I predicted that the U.S. would not be ready for Barack Obama to be president in 2008, and that 2012 would be his year. It's a good thing that nobody pays attention to my political predictions.

So where was I when I found out that he was officially projected to win? Well, I had been following the race all day yesterday, and saw that he had a healthy lead before I left my mom's house for my indoor soccer game. I didn't find out that he was the winner until I returned home around 20:20, 20 minutes after he was declared the victor. I did have a suspicion, though, when on my way home I received a text message from my friend Robert which simply said "Yes!"

But what about Missouri? This is only the second time my state has been "wrong" about the president in over 100 years...and the margin was tiny - less than 6000 votes (49.4% to 49.2%). How did the Democrat Jay Nixon manage to win the gubernatorial race so handily (58.4% to 39.5%) if the presidential race was so close? I'm guessing due to a combination of a few factors:

  1. Nixon, having served as the attorney general for 16 years, was already very popular in Missouri.
  2. Hulshof, his opponent, was not the ideal Republican candidate.
  3. Obama is (at least perceived as) too liberal for Missourians.
  4. St. Charles County had the highest voter turnout by percentage in the state.
  5. Missouri may have more pro-white racists than pro-black racists.
As an aside, I am also happy that Proposition C (which mandates investor-owned electric companies provide certain percentages of power from renewable sources, with a target of 15% by 2021) was passed. I'm not exactly thrilled that all the other state-wide amendments and propositions passed, though.

In any case, my enthusiasm for politics, which always peaks at election time, has already begun to wane. I hope that Obama does well in his first term as president, but it's time for me to return to being mostly apathetic.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Can I die from eating blue cheese?

Thanks to Wikipedia I just found out that blue cheese is made by adding Penicillium spores. I am allergic to Penicillin. I've been eating blue cheese for a while with no ill effects, so I assume I'm good to go. I hope I can't get sick from eating it because it is near the top of my list of favorite cheeses. Apparently (from a quick Internet search), there are people with Penicillin allergies that are affected by blue cheese, but it appears that this is pretty rare.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

How 'bout that Blu-ray?

It's been a while since Blu-ray emerged as the winner of the next generation high definition video disc format. I had long maintaned that as soon as a Blu-ray drive went under $100 in price I would snatch it up, and to that end set up a couple of price alerts on Newegg (my main source for computer parts and all things tech). When I received the alert e-mail a couple of months ago, I was quick to buy this baby. Despite the exclusion of the advertised PowerDVD CD and SATA cable (the Newegg people say that OEM models don't come with that extra stuff, though I guess retail versions do), I was able to successfully install and set up the drive in my media center PC using an extra cable that came with my motherboard and the wonderful BitTorrent protocol. So far, I've only watched a couple of (bad) Blu-ray movies (The Forbidden Kingdom, 88 Minutes, Baby Mama), but I'm pleased with my purchase. Now if only a good Blu-ray movie could come out so I can have some people over to check it out...

Climate Time Machine, Proposition C.

This is an interesting little site with some quick interactive climate change demos:

By the way, I support Proposition C in the upcoming Missouri election, and I think you should too. While I'm typically not a big fan of mandates, I feel like this ballot measure (if passed) shows the power companies that the consumers want renewable energy. I will admit that Ameren offers a program called Pure Power that allows one to buy the equivalent of her/his energy consumption from renewable sources for an extra 1.5 cents per kWh (or approximately a 25% increase). Although the price increase seems a little ridiculous, I just signed up for the program as an act of proverbially putting my money where my mouth is.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

The Mac is finally on the network.

Until tonight, my Mac Mini had not been connected to the Internet since I bought it when I moved into my house 16 months ago. This can be attributed to a few factors:
  1. I actually tried to connect it to the Internet several times without success.
  2. I'm lazy and give up easily.
  3. I have 3 other computers I could use instead.
I finally figured out today (technically yesterday) that the version of OS X that shipped with my computer last year still included the "old" Airport software which doesn't support WPA wireless encryption, which I use on my network. I temporarily disabled the encryption, connected to Software Update to acquire the new software, and then was able to connect after re-enabling WPA. I'm not sure why I never even tried connecting unencrypted or with WEP (which the old software supported). In any case, all is now well.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

And then there was Chrome...

Not more than a few days after my last post about upcoming upgrades to Microsoft and Mozilla web browsers, Google surprised us all with a beta release of their own browser: Chrome. Features include a novel tab organization scheme, Incognito browsing (like IE8's InPrivate), domain highlighting in the URL (also available in IE8), an "Omnibox" address bar (mixes history and search), a novel "new tab" page, a simpler interface, and a slew of interesting "about:" pages. While the new browser is fairly sleek, it is not as full-featured as the big boys. Also, even though the project is open source, it does not (yet) seem like developers can write extensions like Firefox allows.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Getting more done on the web.

Mozilla Labs is introducing Ubiquity, which I think is one of the coolest ideas in a while when it comes to browsing the Internet. It enables users to create "mash-ups" with web applications, allowing them to get more done within the same browsing session. The implementation is quite immature right now (alpha status, if you will), but this definitely has some potential.

At the same time Microsoft is releasing the second beta for IE8. There are actually a few things that are pretty exciting about this version. One is Accelerators, which provides functionality that has a similar concept as Ubiquity. Some of the other features (e.g., Web Slices, Search Suggestions) are similar to things that Firefox has already offered for a while, whether in the base package or by extensions, though some of the features improve on the Firefox implementations. The most original new feature is probably InPrivate browsing, which allows the user to browse without leaving tracks on a computer. Some people refer to this as "porn mode".

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Hilarious headline

Nigeria 2-1 U.S.: Obinna winner dooms U.S.

The best part: another goal was set up by Chinedu.


It's been a while, so I figured I should post on here just to prove that I'm alive. Anyway, this past weekend was the second of four consecutive weekends out of town, and I spent pretty much all of Friday through Sunday at DEFCON 16 in Las Vegas.

I arrived at the Riviera early Friday morning (~9:30 Vegas time) and didn't leave the hotel until I caught a shuttle to the airport Sunday evening (~18:00). Note that this made for a very early Friday (flight left St. Louis 7:00) and a very late Sunday (flight arrived in St. Louis 1:00 Monday morning). The conference itself was pretty good. The DEFCON badges are pretty cool, and they supposedly turn TVs off, but I haven't tested this yet. There were many interesting talks, including one on hacking social networks (especially MySpace), one on hacking Internet kiosks, one about the security of e-voting, and one about hijacking internet traffic using BGP. Of course Dan Kaminsky's DNS vulnerability was also big news (from Black Hat a few days earlier), but I did not brave the large crowd that turned out for his talk. Another significant development was the res
training order that prevented one group of presenters from giving their talk on hacking the Boston subway payment system...too bad their presentation had already been given to all the DEFCON attendees on CD. See the DEFCON site for more info on these and other interesting happenings. Also, here's my new favorite t-shirt (that I don't own...yet):

The weekend before I was in Chicago for Lollapalooza. This weekend it's off to Toronto for my fourth Radiohead concert this summer before a roadtrip to Bloomington (wedding) and Indianapolis (air show featuring F-22) the following weekend.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Coolest remix EVER

This dude did a remix of Radiohead's "Nude" using electronic hardware in a novel way. Check it out on Vimeo or on Youtube. Note that the proper song starts about 1 minute in.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Some people are more fanatic than I am...

...and I'm happy about that fact. Take, for example, the creator of this site. It tracks all the setlists for Radiohead's shows on their current tour and compiles some ridiculous statistics about the songs played (and not played). I'm glad people like him exist.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Another reason to love Google.

The Google home page has gone black today to help raise awareness of Earth Hour. See below...

The concept is that in cities all over the planet people will turn off their lights tonight from 20:00 to 21:00 local time as a sign of recognition of the human impact to climate change. Kind of a neat idea.

Too bad at that time tonight I'll be at a rock concert. Doubtful, but perhaps they'll forego a light show for the opening band...

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

I wanna see this in person.

The F/A-22 Demo Team is making the rounds at air shows this year, including a stop in Chicago. Check out this sweet video:

Thursday, February 21, 2008

The crib stands out in Google Maps, for now.

I was surprised yesterday to find out that Google Maps recently updated their satellite photograph of St. Louis. The noteworthy aspect of this is that the picture was taken last summer, when my house was the only one on the block that had been completed.

I had originally intended to post a direct link to a close-up of it on here, but a friend cautioned me that letting the whole wide world know where I lived might not be the best idea. No, I am not deluded enough to think that more than 5 different people ever look at my blog...but still.
Thanks, Jules.

So if you do happen to know my address and are curious, look it up on Google Maps. I'll be the only one on the street with a lawn. Ignore the brown, dying patches in the back...I didn't take good care of it initially...or now...

60 minutes sees it my way.

Ever since I returned from Australia and New Zealand, both countries that no longer have pennies, I have joked about creating a petition to abolish the U.S. penny. While I don't think that's actually going to happen, I came across a 60 Minutes segment which discusses the fact that pennies cost way more to make than they are worth, an argument that I use (in addition to the fact that pennies are worthless wastes of space). You can check out the segment here. They mention that nickels, my second least favorite coin, are also unsustainable to produce.

On a related note, my buddy Greg has decided to champion the cause of the $1 coin, a notion which I second...except for the fact that I lose so much change from my pockets that I would probably lose a fortune under my car seat. This was also inspired from our travels abroad, where coins seem to actually have value.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Call it a comeback!

Despite a couple of early projections that Hillary would win Missouri (see here and here), our boy Barack has pulled of the victory. If only the rest of those states would follow suit...

Tuesday, February 05, 2008 and white.

As the results come in for the Missouri Democratic presidential primary on Super Tuesday, I can't help but note a sharp contrast between the voting patterns in metropolitan areas versus rural ones. Currently, Hillary Clinton is leading Barack Obama by a slimming margin of 49% to 48%.

However, Hillary has carried every single county in MO except for 6: Boone County (where Columbia is located), Cole County (Jefferson City), Jackson County (Kansas City), Nodaway County (WTF?!),
St. Louis City, and St. Louis County. Barack ran away or is running away with those 6, many of which have a significant population in relation to the rest of the state. He also came close in St. Charles County (48% to 50%), but apparently it is sufficiently far enough from St. Louis City for rednecks and hicks to inhabit.

Even with 90+% of precincts reporting, the race still appears too close to call because the remaining precincts are mostly in metropolitan areas. In any case, whoever wins the Democratic nomination will make history (you know...cuz one's a woman and one's black), so this is huge.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Do I look that old?

I took my youngest brother, Nedu, to get a suit at Men's Wearhouse earlier today. When I informed the salesman of our intentions, he asked if I was Nedu's father. This is not the first time this has happened. Do I really look like I'm old enough to be the father of a 20-year-old?

Back from Oz.