Monthly Archives: July 2008

My intelligence has officially been offended beyond recognition

I just can not believe that something like this video has created by someone who is running for President of the United States. What are we being told here? Am I supposed to believe that Britney Spears and Paris Hilton are of the same class of people as a former student of both Columbia AND Harvard University? Do they have the insight and knowledge to become a Senior Lecturer in Law at University of Chicago Law School?

I don’t think so….

Why would I want to support offshore drilling instead of investment into the development of alternative energy?  We are told day in and day out that education is everything.  We are told that in order to succeed in this century that we will need to be able to compete in the high tech sector.  Is investing in training engineers to develop alternative energy not one of these goals?  Why would we spend money to drill off shore for a finite resource when we can spend the same money in research to develop better solar cells, wind and hydro-electric generators, cleaner nuclear facilities, and most of all more fuel efficient cars.  Even if gas is $5.00 per gallon, what would it matter if your car could efficiently utilize potential to kinetic energy transfer as well as solar in addition to hybrid engine technology?

If John McCain wants me to vote for him, he had better tell me how he is going to support our economy by developing reasonable paying jobs that train people to do something that a Chinese worker can not do for 1/10th the cost.  I do not want to exist in the previous millennium any longer.  IT IS TIME TO MOVE ON. 

Senator McCain — Please I ask you — BELIEVE in us, the American People to use the investment in our education to develop new technology, not to rely on antiquated ideas from yester-year and if you approve messages, try to at least tell us something positive that you plan to do.

New Blender

I got a new blender the other day.  I shopped around long and hard to find a blender that could make smoothes, soup, and pretty much anything else one would want to make with a blender.  In the end I chose the Breville BBL600 ikon 600 Blender.

I have to say after using it for a while, the blender is really really good.  It makes perfect soup and smoothies as well as any number of other things.  The blade in this blender as well as the pre-programmed settings are the secret to its perfection.

I got the blender on sale at Macy’s for a pretty good proce (under $150) and I think you can find it for that price if you look around.

EA Sports to Return to PC

I read this article on shacknews this morning.  If you don’t want to read the article — it basically states that Electonic Arts (EA) is going to make sports games for Windows again in 2009 after taking a year off.

I am generally happy to hear this, but I hope they have really rethought their marketing strategy for the PC.  I really like playing games via the interenet on PC because there is so much more you can do than in a locked down environment like XBOX Live or PSN.  The other thing which is far superior on a Windows PC is the freedom to choose your controller.  I can use the great xbox 360 wired or wireless controllers perfectly on XP or Vista OR I can choose to play with a keyboard and mouse.  This is really where it is at for me and its why I spend more money on my PC.

I have to wonder what EA is thinking at this point.  Cancel the series…Bring it back….  I don’t get it.

In the past EA has half-assed their Windows versions of Madden.  They have left out control schemes, they have NEVER implemented force feedback, even though they natively support the XBOX 360 controllers, and they have used copy protection schemes that have rendered some of the games I have paid for unplayable in the past.  I think these reasons are enough to indicate why people may shy away from buying the PC version of Madden.

I hope they do a good job with the game and I hope people buy it, but I dont think people will and here is why.  We dont need to buy a whole new game every year.  It is just too expensive and after a new version every year since 1992, there isnt that much more to add.

I do have some suggestions for EA regarding Madden:

  1. Make a new engine every 5 years for the game instead of every year.  Use the model of First Person Shooters.  Build a really good engine that is tweakable year to year to take advantage of lessons learned.  This will lower some costs.
  2. Since you are now not reprogramming the game from scratch every year, dont sell a game every year.  Instead, make money from microtransactions.  ROSTER UPDATES are clearly something people will pay for.  I think EA could STILL sell up-to-date rosters for Madden 92 and some people would buy them.  I have never understood why this isnt supported and I really question the marketing people at EA for it.  You can sell other things too via live, psn, or even steam — skins for stadiums,  weather packs (fog, snow, hurrricanes, etc), new uniforms and many, many others.
  3. Here is another idea I have been toying with for Madden in particular.  I think it might make sense to not even sell the game (still DO sell microtransactions, of course), but rather give it away for free and support it via advertising.  The game is already riddled with adds.  Why not add internet conenctivity to these adds and deliver personalized or local adds during game play.  For example, say you are playing online and your opponent calls a time-out.  A commerical for Taco Bell could run full screen while players choose their play again.  At first people might find it invasive, but if the game was free, I dont think they would care, I for one would gladly trade some of my attention for a free game.

These are just a few of my ideas.  I certainly hope that EA reads this and thinks my ideas are good.  If not, well, I hope someone else does and uses the ideas first.  Compeition usually helps out the consumer.  If you are reading this, and you represent a game company or marketing company, please feel free to contact me.  I have alot more ideas as to how to make money using networking and video games.  I might jsut do some free lance work for you.

Nvidia VFW driver for Vista?

Does anyone know if there is a working VFW driver for an Nvidia 7800GT with VIVO?  I have 2 of these cards and would like to use one of them as a video in on my HTCP as the video capture is pretty good on it.  I have been unable to find any indication that Nvidia supports VFW at this point.  I am hoping that someone has a hacked driver or something.  I have other video capture solutions that do work, but I would like to use one of these as well.  Please leave a message if you can help 🙂

Crossposting to MySpace, Facebook, Blogger, Live Spaces, and Live Journal with WordPress

I have recently found that updating a blog can be a decent amount of work.  It is even more work if you try to maintain more than one blog.  I try to only keep my main blog ( up to date.  The others found at Mysapce, Facebook, Blogger, Live Spaces, and Livejournal — well — not so much.  I have tried at various  stages to use plugins to perform automated cross posting, but the only one I have luck with is the wordbook plugin which cross posts to Facebook.  WordPress gets updated alot.  This both for security  and for functionality, so I deal with it.  The problem is that every time WordPress gets updated, more and more plugins get broken.  This is too bad.  Hopefully, someone will fix all of the plugins, but I won’t hold my breath.

Windows Vista Revisited

Very early on after its release, I gave Windows Vista a try on one of my secondary computers.  I was primarily interested in the Media Center funcitonalty of the Operating System.  I had and am currently still am using Windows XP MCE 2005 and like it alot.  So Vista MCE was seemed very interesting to me.

I installed it, and initially I liked it quite a bit.  But then the bad Vista came to bite me.  The audio drivers for the Sound Blaster Audigy 2 Platinum Pro were clearly not designed for Vista.  The Nvidia drivers for my Geforce 8800 GTS Card were also clearly immature.  But most of all, the Media Center software that was the reason for my testing out Vista COMPLETELY disappeared from the computer.  There was no sign of it at all.  It happened all of a sudden too, I had turned off my computer prior to a thunderstorm and when I turned it back on after the storm, Vista was there, but the Media Center had been erased from existance.  VERY WEIRD.  These things caused me to give up on Vista for around a year.

I recently purchased a new motherboard, processor and ram.  I went with the EVGA 780i SLI motherboard and the Intel Core 2 Quad Q9300 CPU with 4 gigs of Corsair Dominator ram.  Everythign else, I kept the same in my system as the other components are all fairly current.  In the older system, I was running Windows XP MCE 205.  With such a major change in componenets, it is necessary to reinstall the Operating System.  So I decided to give Vista a 2nd chance as Service Pack 1 was already available.

The installation was not super smooth.  I only have SATA optical drives in my computer now.  The LG Bluray-HDDVD combo drive is very nice, but is not available in PATA/IDE.  Windows Vista does not seem to like to install from SATA optical drives from waht I can tell.  Luckily, I had an old external USB DVD recorder which allowed me to install Vista Ultimate with ho hitches.

Once installed, the system seemed to function well, after updating all my drivers to Vista approved versions.  All of the software I use seems to be fully functional in Vista when I turn off the User Account Control.  UAC is just an annoyance to me.  I consider myself to be a power user, and UAC is very invasive — that said — I feel the SUDO in Linux is also annoying.  If I am capable, I should be able to run as root.  I realize its a bit of a security risk, but I have a pretty good idea what I am doing.  Therefor, the ability to completely disable UAC is good foresight by Microsoft.  Anyway, all seemed well and I decided to let Vista run for a few months.

Spring forward to today —

At the present I have been running Vista on my main computer for about 3 months and on a Dell XPS m1330 laptop for about 4 months.  At this point, I have to say, I notice very little difference in performance between Vista and XP now.  I think Vista is at least equivalent in both categories and may actually perform better than XP in some things.  I have figured out where all the settings have been moved to on Vista, so tweaking things is about the same as XP.  Gaming performance is on par with XP now too.  In fact on the main computer with an Nvidia Geforce 8800GTS with 768 megs of ram, gaming runs very very smoothly.  I have no complaints really.  I game either at 1270X800 or 1920X1200, depending on the game.  Anything I have tried works well.

Part of my job is running Autodesk Maya and MotionBuilder along with Vicon Nexus.  Thse programs run fine as well.  I notice absolutely zero difference between Vista and XP as far as speed or stability goes.  Infact, Vista may be slightly MORE stable at this point.

The laptop doesnt get used for gaming, so I can not comment there.  I have another m1330 that has a Geforce 8400GS M in it, that does get used for gaming, but I have XP MCE 2005 currently on that machine.  The Vista laptop is very stable and seems runs very quickly.  This laptop was purchased 5 months ago for around $700 USD.

I have no complaints at this point with Windows Vista — aside from the complaints I have with all computers.  It seems to have most of the bugs worked out, and Nvidia seems to have their act together on the drivers at this point.  If you read any review or critique of Vista at this point in time, make sure you check the date of the article.  My feeling is that it is working and can at this point be adopted by the masses as a decent operating system.

A Chau Deli – Vietnamese Sandwiches in China Town – NYC

A Chau Deli

One of my absolute favorite things to eat in China Town is the Vietnamese sandwich from A Chau Deli on Mulberry Street.  It is really just a tiny little stand with very very little room to eat.  I think two skinny people might be able to sit down and eat, but it would be hard for anyone else to order while they were eating.

This, however, does not matter, because A Chau Deli is all about the food — and the price.  For $3.50 you get a choice of 4 or 5 different types of sandwiches, Vietnamese style on a French Baguette.  My favorite is the meatball with jalapeños.

The toppings are really what make the sandwich stand out. The pickled carrots and daikon are just fantastic and go perfectly with the meatballs and the spiciness of the jalapeño.

I am ready to eat one of these bad boys right now, too bad they are only open till 7PM. Oh well, lunch time tomorrow will have to do…

Purity Diner, Park Slope

Purity Diner

This weekend Aki and I decided to goto see “The Dark Night”.  Before the movie, we wanted to grab a bite to eat.  After a bit of discussion, we setteled on trying the burger at a local joint called Purity Diner on 7th Ave in Park Slope.  We have been to Purity a number of times for weekend brunch, but never for lunch or dinner.  I am quite fond of their eggs benedict, so I wanted to try something else on the traditional diner menu.

I ordered a delux burger which came with lettuce, tomatoes, fries and a dill pickle.  I also asked for a side of raw onion which I was gladly provided.  Aki decided on the mushroom – sauteed onion burger delux.  It was basically the same but had sauteed mushrooms and onions.  We recived our food very quickly and it did not disappoint.

Purity Burger

We also ordered a couple of beers with our burgers which came out quickly and icy cold.  This was good to know as Purity is open 24 hours a day and cold beer late ate night isn’t always that easy to find in Park Slope.

After eating, we headed off to see the movie.  Much to our dismay,  the line at the theatre was around  a block long, so we decided to work off our Burgers with a little walk around Prospect Park and some window shopping down 7th Avenue on the way home.

Sushi Yasuda

Sushi Yasuda Logo

One of the best things about living in New York City is the access to great restaurants.  This city is really a fantastic place for foodies.  Generally, I like to walk around and look for a place that looks like its doing a good business and give it a try, but last night I decided to check out a sushi bar based a recomendation from the book “The Nasty Bits”, by Tony Bordain.

Sushi Yasuda was recommended based on its attention to detail, and I have to say I agree with this statement 100%.  I had never had such tasty yet simple sushi.  There were no frills — no special maki or anything else.  Just simple sushi — they way it is supposed to be.

I started by ordering an Yebisu beer.  This is really one of my favorite beers in the world – I grew to love it in the time I spent in Japan, but lately it has become very hard to find in the US.  It has also become VERY expensive here.  One bottle at Sushi Yasuda was $11.50.  I thought this was too high, so I switched to Asahi after my first.  Anyway, I was not there to drink beer but rather to eat.

I ordered a variety of al-a-cart sushi and maki and each was prepared individually for me as I was sitting at the bar.  As we tried the different fish, I was shocked at how different the taste and texture was from the typical places I eat, which are quite good as well.  As the meal went on and we switched to more interesting things like Uni, we decided to ask the chef what the difference between Yasuda and other places were.  He explained that it was the fish buyer.  Apparently the buyer is VERY skilled and knows all the ins and outs of where to get the best fish.

In general, I found Sushi Yasuda to be a bit expensive compared to other places, but the food is more than a step above any other place I have been in New York City or Tokyo for that matter.

If you are in the mood for great sushi with every attention payed to the details I would recommend giving Sushi Yasuda a try.  It is worth the extra cost.

Comcast “admits” to blocking vonage

I have been trying to figure this one out for almost 1 year now.

I have a slingbox connected to my Dad’s Satellite.  I can watch his DirecTV stream anywhere I am and since he has 2 tuners connected to it, I dont change the channel he is watching either.  It is a pretty nice setup and it ran great for 2 years without a single glitch until my Dad decided to fire Verizon as his phone company and opt to try VOIP from Vonage.

Initially everything seemed to be working great.  Vonage phone calls worked nicely.  Sling was working as usual and all other internet services seemed to be unaffected by the new Vonage box plugged into the router.

Then one night, I was watching a hockey game when I wanted to call my Dad.  I noticed a very big change in the quality of the phone call while streaming via Sling.  I decided to change some settings in the router to compensate for this.  I am using a Linksys WRT54GL router with Tomato firmware installed on it.  I set up the QOS to give the higest precidence to Vonage and to limit the bandwidth of the Slingbox to 300kbps as I have my Sling Player set to stream at 300kbps on myside.

This change had some benefit, but did not alleviate the problem like it should have.  Next, my Dad decided to opt in for Comcast’s Performance PLUS with PowerBoost package.  This package came at quite a premium over the regular cable internet service, but was guaranteed to have 2mbps upstream.  This would be plenty for the 300kbps Slingbox and 90kbps for Vonage to function together seamlessly.  Or so I thought.

After checking the upload speeds with serveral websites as well as running a straight FTP transfer of a 100 megabyte file to my server at work, I decided that my Dad was indeed getting between 2 and 4 mbps uploads.  Really pretty good.

So we tried the Vonage with Sling at the same time test again .  Same results — choppy phone conversation but Sling worked well.  This was really odd as I gave Sling the lowest QOS priority in the router.  At this point I tried 2 other routers with exactly the same results.

I then decided to try the test in reverse.  I would run my sling box while my Dad watched it during a phone conversation.  I do not have a phone, but rater use the Skype In and Out services for my phone, but he remained using Vonage.

This test revealed an interesting finding.  There was no sound issues at all and he could watch my sling box perfectly.  I set my WRT54GL router up the same as his and tried 2 other routers as well for thoroughness.  The only way to get the choppy phone conversation was when he was streaming something up to the internet while talking on Vonage.  We checked the bandwidth during these tests and he was never even using more than 1mbps even though he clearly tested up to 2-4 mbps every time.  Also, at this point I should say that I use Time Warner Cable for my Internet.

I was stumped as to how to solve this problem.  My dad can upload files to my FTP server at close to 4mbps, but when he uses Vonage the total bandwidth he is uploading seems to be capped at under 700kbps.  During a file transfer the speed will not just be split between the 2 applications, but rather the overal maximum transfer speed drops to this 700kbps.  When we hang up the phone, it goes back up to 4mbps.  Although I could not find a solution to the problem, I did suspect there was a casue.

I assumed at this point that Comcast was doing some kind of throttling on the bandwidth during Vonage calls.  I believe that Comcast can easily tell that you are using VOIP with Vonage and could very easily change things to screw up your connection to make it seem like Vonage isnt working well.  I thought my test of the changing FTP speed proved this point, but I had no idea what to do.

Then today, I read this news at the Wall Street Journal.  This pretty much proved my theory.  If Comcast gives their guarantee NOW that they will work with Vonage to make sure the connection is clear., this pretty much indicates to me that something was up eariler even though Comcast Denies it.  They also denied (falsely) that they were throttling P2P traffic ealier this year.

I am positive that Comcast was doing something to make it seem like Vonage VOIP was an inferior product — this article further supports my theory.  I will test Sling and Vonage again over the next weeks and see if my results are different.