Perspective

Just caught this tweet from a colleague:

“Mom, I have a call at 1:30 so don’t use the internet.” HAHAHAHAHAHHAHA

He was, of course, lampooning one of his friends who has the misfortune of visiting his parents who are still apparently using dial-up Internet. It took me back for a moment:

Back Then (1991)

When I was 11, our incoming Freshmen at IU East were just being born. The Internet, as we know it, did not exist.

We had a 486 SX desktop computer with a processor that was 25MHz, a 121 MB hard drive, 1MB graphics card capable of 256 color graphics, and 4 MB of RAM. (a later upgrade to 8MB cost $160) The modem we had, which connected over landline, would tie up our phone while I used it;  it could also only transfer 2400 bps (aka “baud”). (note that the lowercase “b” there indicates BITS and not BYTES. 2400 bps is roughly equal to 300 bytes per second, or Bps)

My friends and I would connect to local bulletin-board systems (BBS’s), which were kind of like websites: there was mail features, multi-user games, files to download, and you could communicate with people far away via mail relay services like FIDONet. To give you an idea about speed: when you would load a “page” on the BBS (login screen, a game, a filelist, etc.) you could literally see the text appear on the screen as it was received. It was that slow.

Downloading a single image (hot girls, funny pictures, desktop wallpaper, etc.) took anywhere from a solid minute for a small (15 kilobyte) image. A larger image, say 50kB, would take about 3 minutes. For a frame of reference, the banner at the top of this blog, featuring my picture and “Two-year-olds think I’m awesome”, is 22kB (about a minute and a half) and the entire web page is roughly 500kB.

That would have taken a half-hour. Just to load http://blog.amhill.net.

I am not even kidding. Continue reading

Electronic Music Final Project

DownloadA while back, I had posted a project I did for my Electronic Music course. With the close of Fall semester, I have my final project completed. (FINALLY.)

This particular song is a full-length track, mixed, mastered (as best as I know how) that involves actual vocals recorded.

It’s worth knowing a few details first:

The song was composed and written by Melissa. I took her original chord progression and elaborated from it. The reason it’s called the “Epic Fail Mix” is because every time I would play her what I had made so far, she would just shake her head. Not that it’s bad, per se, just that it’s very different from her original folksy acoustic version.

Give it a listen — it’s about 5 minutes long; get ready for a bit of music whiplash about 3 minutes in. :) Details about the production are below the jump. Continue reading

Obligatory Twilight Discussion / Review [Movie Review]

new-moon-official-poster-leakedI feel compelled to write this mostly because it’s been discussed with my friends, coworkers, wife, and numerous strangers so many times, my thoughts on it have been really fleshed out; and apparently I have enough of an axe to grind about it, given my compulsion to discuss.

We just saw the new Twilight “saga” movie, “New Moon” last week. Strangely (and somewhat pathetically), the last movie my wife and I saw in the theaters was the first Twilight film, over a year ago. Melissa is currently reading the third book (“Eclipse”, due out in theaters next summer) and she’s been telling me about it.

I feel it’s  my duty to disclose that I have not actually read the books, only seen the movies, but I have read numerous plot synopses, discussed it extensively with friends, family, and others that have read it. The general consensus is that the movies follow the books pretty faithfully. Regardless, I will be dealing with over-arching plot elements, characters, etc., and not with Meyers’ technical skill as a writer, despite having heard that there’s a veritable of buffet for criticism in that regard.

I should also forewarn you that I am quite critical of the Twilight” saga”, so if it happens to be a series of books that you particularly enjoy, you may want to either brace yourself or skip reading it. Your choice. Feel free to comment, either way.

That said… Continue reading

Karmic Win pt. 7, Wine, DirectX, and Games [Linux FTW]

In the last post, we discussed using Gnome Do to do awesome things such as maintaining Twitter easily.

Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion (in Wine)One of the key factors in finally making the switch over to Linux completely was when I learned that Windows Emulation had progressed far enough that I’d be able to play modern games on it successfully. I hate to seem so shallow that video games would make or break the decision, but I just know that if I can’t do pretty much EVERYTHING I like to do while on Linux, the likelihood of its endurance is far less.

Counter Strike: Source (in Wine)In any case — with a few simple steps, a few downloaded files, and some patience, you can easily setup DirectX 9 in WinE and play many modern games including Civilization IV, Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, Counterstrike: Source, and many others. NVidia cards tend to have much better success than ATI, but there area workarounds for ATI users.

Wine’s official website maintains a very comprehensive database of applications that have been tested under Wine. The list is intimidatingly long, and contains both popular and esoteric gmes; old and new. The “Platinum Top 10″ (top 10 most popular games, raked by popularity, that work perfectly in Wine without any modification) are:

  1. Guild Wars
  2. Photoshop CS2 (CS3 and CS4 have not bee fully emulated yet)
  3. Supreme Commander
  4. Watchtower Library 2008 (yes, as in the Jehova’s Witnesses… strange that it’s a top 10 app)
  5. Half-life 2 Retail
  6. Silkroad Online
  7. Spore
  8. Day of Defeat: Source (via Steam)
  9. Star Wars: Jedi Knight – Jedi Academy
  10. Call of Duty 2

see more games/apps from the Platinum list

The Gold list, games that require a few tweaks but work perfectly once fixed. The tweaks are almost always in the AppDB profile, but if not, it’s just a google search away. :) The Top 10 list has some high profile games, and so it’s worth mentioning:

  1. Final Fantasy XI
  2. Warhammer Online Live
  3. World of Warcraft (The profile explains that the only reason “Platinum” wasn’t chosen is because the Installation wasn’t tested — they likely just copied it over from a Windows computer; full installation instructions are available on the Wine Profile though.)
  4. EVE Online
  5. StarCraft Brood War
  6. Steam (the distribution platform for games from the “Valve” distributor — there may be some issues with “purchasing” games on Steam, but any games that you have already purchased on your account should be downloadable just fine)
  7. Team Fortress 2 (Steam)
  8. Aion: The Tower of Eternity
  9. Command & Conquer 3: Tiberium Wars
  10. Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne (Battle.net play was not officially tested, but may work)

Not every game works just yet, but the list is growing. See the Wine ApplicationDB for info about whether or not your favorite apps will work, and how well they work.

Pretty much every modern game (made for windows) requires DirectX, but fortunately setting up DirectX is pretty easy and can be done in less than 30 minutes (assuming a broadband Internet connection). Below is all the files, and instructions, to getting set up with DirectX in Wine.

Continue reading

Response letter to an alarmist anti-caffeine organization

Stumbled across caffeineawareness.org by accident… weird site full of bizarre alarmist propaganda against the consumption of Caffeine.

For example: “Consume 5 grams and you’re DEAD, and it’s perfectly legal!” is touted in an ad on the sidebar of the website. The website also claims that caffeine is “highly addictive”, which seems hyperbolic, given how Caffeine actually works.

As I discussed previously, prolonged exposure to a significant (over 200mg) amount of Caffeine will result in an increase in the number of Adenosine receptors in your brain (this is called “upregulation”, and is your brain’s attempt at recovering homeostasis). This results in a “diminished returns” benefit of future Caffeine consumption until the brain is given a break from the chemical, and can downregulate back to normal levels. (this takes roughly 2 weeks for most people — individuals with severe Caffeinism may require longer periods, but you would have to be a serious compulsory consumer of Caffeine, 800mg or more / day, to be that bad)

Moderation is key, of course. If we view coffee as a tool, rather than a necessity, it can be a very beneficial ally. Habitual consumption of ANYTHING is generally a bad idea, and Caffeine is no exception.

Caffeine is nowhere NEAR as addictive as cigarettes, for example, or any harder addictive stimulants (Methamphetamine, Cocaine, Crack-cocaine, etc.). In fact, those harder stimulants don’t even interact with your brain in the same way that caffeine does (meth & coke tend to hammer your Dopaminergic receptors predominantly, whereas Caffeine simply prevents your Adenosine / Purinergic receptors from being used for a short while — there is some dopaminergic side-interactions with Caffeine, but it focuses largely on the Adenosine A1 / A2 receptors because of the homologous chemical structure to Adenosine.)

Here’s my response to them: Continue reading

Karmic Win pt. 6, Gnome-do & Twitter [Linux FTW]

2009-11-11-202755Yesterday, we discussed using the new “UbuntuOne” cloud service, and integrating it into numerous apps on Karmic.

A while back, I discovered the Avant Window Navigator, a Mac-style docking program (available through the USC). Matt McKimmy had commented on that post, mentioning the program Gnome-Do.

At that time, I had checked out Gnome-Do, found it interesting but was still infatuated with my fancy Mac-esque dock, so I never really got around to using it.

This time though, Gnome-Do came pre-loaded with the Karmic installation, and I decided to give it a shot for a while. Browsing through the preferences, I noticed some plugins and integration tools that I hadn’t noticed the first time around; or maybe they just weren’t offered, not really sure.

Gnome-Do, written to function sort of like “Quicksilver” on Macs, is a genius little app that does it all. My favorite aspect of it so far is its integration with Twitter though. Continue reading