Sunday, April 30, 2006

Black no More


Yes I'm still here.

Work has been very busy. And I've gotten hooked on a South Korean "drama" series that runs very late at night. I've gotten Lavie hooked on it too (hehehehe).

But I want to talk about Black--that #(*&@(#*&$)(^ FPS game I've been playing for several months now.

Last night, Alvis went to a sleepover so I had the PS2 to myself. Lavie was under the weather so I had free reign. I was stuck on the final mission for weeks--stupid lack of save points. Anyway. I played for like 3 hours last night. Got to a sweet checkpoint (final battle room). And had to hang it up. To keep my position I had to "pause" the PS2 game and leave it on overnight. Finally after about 2 more hours of game time I finished out the final mission. Game Over! Woot!

The game guide was helpful for finding items and the maps kept me from getting too lost, but the battle techniques weren't very helpful. My approach is pretty cautious. I like to creep, shoot, creep and shoot. Full frontal attacks are not my thing.

So what did I do as soon as I beat the game?

Yep. Started over--on the next higher level...what can I say. It's fun, my confidence is up and now I want to unlock some of those "silver weapons" with unlimited ammo.

I really need to put this one on the shelf now that I have played through and turn my attention to our Kingdom Hearts game--but I don't know if I can....just yet. Smacking black gobby things with an over sized key and goofy shoes just isn't as satisfying....

More posting to come this afternoon.

Got to get the "real world" missions done (laundry, kitchen, grocery shopping, lawn mowing...).


Sunday, April 23, 2006

Meet Anna Miller's

Frequent readers of the on-line comic MegaTokyo should be familiar with Anna Miller's.

Nanasawa Kimiko--one of the two primary female protagonists works at Anna Miller's and Piro and Largo are often found there. The current story arc shows Piro helping out as a bus-boy there--much to the otaku fan's dismay and suspicions.

This is the restaurant serves up family food fare, but is really known for it's breakfast selection (think I.H.O.P.) and deserts like pie and cheesecakes.

Of course, it has a "cute" theme, and uniformed waitresses. Kinda like a Hooters, but with more frills and ruffles.

The food, cute waitresses draw in many male "fans" as you can rightly imagine.

One of Piro's fans took a trip to Tokyo, Japan in 2004 and took some photos of the staff and restaurant. It's a cute glimpse.

Anna Miller's corporate website.

Consider yourself (slightly) educated,

Friday, April 21, 2006

Before I Forget


Time to break one of my rules.

About dumping linkage.

I'm tired and still kinda in a "black mood" about my gameplay.

But, time to clean out the linkage hopper...

I never had a Mattel Vertibird. I remember wanting one from the Sears WishBook. But I never had one. Imagine my surprise when Retrothing posted a link to the VertiSim--Mattel Vertibird Simulator. While you are at it, check out Whirlybird Central for more nostalgia.

Speaking of those Sears Wishbooks. Some crazy Canadian dude scanned in all the pages from the 1983, 1975, and 1979 Wishbook catalogs. Too bad I can't take a marker to these like I used to as a kid!

Seen recently on Drawn:

Behold the mad Photoshop/Illustrator skills of Bert Monroy--Digital photo-realist artist. Dude did an image of a Chicago rail station. Image is 40x120 inches. File size 1.7G. Almost 2000 hours. Over 15,000 layers and 250,000 paths.

The Anatomia Collection: 4500+ full page anatomical plates from 1522-1867. Selected from the Jason A. Hannah and Academy of Medicine collections in the history of medicine at the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, University of Toronto.

Hmmm. OK. Now if there only was a list of over 450 freeware utilities to pick from. Somewhere that would categorize and link some options. If only someone would take the time to...what?...there is?.... Oh. I want a Freeware Utility to ... 450+ common problems solved.

I've always taken a lot of grief over my handwriting. See, they taught me to write really big early in my education. Then they taught me to mix it up with cursive. Everything in school had to be written in cursive. So I graduate from HS with pretty good penmanship. (I said pretty-good, Mom.) Then I get to college. I have to take notes. So I struggle for a while until my print skills come back and then I figure out the smaller I write, the faster I can take notes. So eventually my print handwriting becomes pretty clear but pretty small. So now I can only seem to print very small again. Anyway. That's how I take notes--almost verbatim--small and fast. It's a gift.

If you are not so gifted in your note-taking skills, check out this article over at LifeHacker: Geek to Live: Take great notes. I really like the tips they have about laying out your paper into different areas for note management. Assorted bonus linkage can be found on the page as well.

More Defrag Options

Defragging your hard drive is supposed to improve (lower) drive seek time. Honestly, a drive has to be seriously fragmented before I can notice any performance difference. But it bugs me to know stuff is scattered around disorganized all over the place (ask Lavie and Alvis). Windows XP and 2000 have some adequate built-in defragging utilities. However, if you want to step it up a bit, here are some (mostly) freeware defragging tools you might want to consider:

DIRMS and Buzzsaw,
Contig (Sysinternals) and Power Defragmenter GUI (eXcessive Software),
O&O Defrag 2000 Freeware Edition (only seems to be hosted on Major Geeks)
Diskeeper Lite 7.0 (Freeware version hosted on Major Geeks--trial versions at DiskKeeper Corp.)
PageDefrag (Sysinternals) Specifically for defragging your paging files or Registry hives.

Ever hear about XP's Little-Known 'Rebuild' Command? I hadn't but thanks to Fred Langa of Information Week I do now! Thanks Fred! It might save you from the headaches of an XP system reinstall or full system repair.

Want to add categories to your Blogger page? There are quite a few "hacks" for this. However, a new service called labelr looks promising. I'll let you know more after I try it out.

A Grand Stream Dreams Net Flight Tour (tm) of Digital Photography (or how I found some awesome photos...)

1) RSS feed for Newsome.Org offered "Good News for Digital Photographers"
2) Kent then offered a link to Thomas Hawk's "10 Tips for the New Digital SLR Photographer"
3) (Pause here while I fight the urge to run out and pick up my dream D-SLR camera...)
4) Remember I haven't been over at the Flagrant Disregard blog of John Watson.
5) He has a beautiful photoblog, lightproofbox.
6) See he mentions starting a new photography tips and techniques blog called Photodoto and is offering some prizes (including a D-SLR camera.)
7) Decide to enter his contest.
8) Upload a picture or two to my flickr page.
9) Pick this one to toss into the photodoto contest pool.
10) Realize I am seriously outclassed (but had fun anyway)!
11) Finally I remembered where I had started and checked out Hawk's Flickr Stream.

Oooohhhh....Pretty pictures!

See you in the Skies!

A Black Mood


So I'm playing BLACK for the PS2. I'm on my final mission. For the whole game.

I start in and play (pretty well) for about 2 hours. Slowly making my way through.

Doing good.

Tossing frags.

Sniping shock-troops.

RPG-wreckage galore.

Nearing the final game climax.

Getting excited. Gonna' beat this thing!

Blast a hole in a bunker.

Got to get through it to go on.

Climb through.


Now I'm stuck.

In the wall.

Can't move.

Nothing to shoot at.

No one to kill me so I can return to a checkpoint. Where's an enemy shock-trooper when you finally need one?

Empty my grenades (on myself)--minimal damage.

Unload my automatic. Draw patterns on the wall with the shots. Pretty.

Still stuck.

Unload my shotgun.


Still stuck.

After more than two hours.

In my final mission.


Have to abandon the mission.

Abandon all the checkpoints I've cleared.

After more than two hours.

Stupid programmers.

Stupid game-designers.

I'm really in a black mood now.

Won't play this game again for a week or more now. That ought to teach them....(yeah, right...)



Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Do Not Mix...

Somewhere last night I figured out the following formula not to mix:

"Shalom in the Home" + "The Dog Whisperer" + cold medicine = mental psycho-confusion

So Lavie gave me another round of decongestants somewhere before bedtime. That seemed to have interacted with my restlessness from the day of work and maybe the nasal spray and by 11pm (CST) I was somewhere in the twilight zone of purple haze. I was way too jittery to fall asleep but my mental logic processes had long since checked out.

I was flipping between these two programs. I really like Dog Whisperer. I live in hopes that I can pick up enough tips to know how to tame the wild beast of Labrador love that my father-in-law has known as "Fluffy." Yes, you Harry Potter fans, Alvis named the dog after the three-headed beast in the first Harry Potter book. It is very fitting.

And for some reason the rabbi was pushing some childhood/adulthood buttons as well.

By the time both shows were over, my poor brain had somehow undertaken a bizarre self-psychoanalysis trip using tips and lessons from both disobedient doggie care and family care and interaction. What is scary is that when I finally went to bed, it all made perfect sense.

Fortunately when I woke up, I had forgotten most everything except that I had taken only about four hours of sleep. By the time I got home tonight I had remembered enough to joke with Lavie about it all (no more cold medicine tonight, by the way). And had successfully unlinked the lessons from both shows as they applied to both our family and "Fluffy". (No disrespect to either host. I really do like both shows!)

Whew. That was scary for a moment.

Cartoon Network has picked up a brand new (to the US) anime series called "Eureka Seven". They are airing it Saturday nights.

I taped the first episode and we watched it early last night. It was really good. The animation was clean and edgy. The story plot seemed strong for a first episode. The two main characters were pretty compelling. There was a good rock soundtrack underneath. So far it is looking good with only one drawback--it has mecha.

Mecha (to me) are the shows that have giant mechanical airplanes/fighters/cars/ships/etc that somehow transform into anthropomorphic figures with arms. and legs and a head and then battle each other as, well, giant-robots. This genre of anime has never really attracted me. In Eureka Seven, it seems these two groups are at some kind of "war" and use these giant sky-surfing mecha's to do battle. So far my attention is holding. Will have to see how things develop. For some reason, it kinda reminded me of FLCL (animation style and pacing maybe?).

See you in the skies,

Sunday, April 16, 2006

100th Post

As seems true with my reaching any "great" milestone in life, this posting moment seems a little bit more anti-climatic than I expected it to be.

I'd figured that reaching a point where I blogged 100 times would be exciting or thrilling or auspicious or something. Upon reaching this occasion however, I find myself stitting here, looking around and saying, "OK, nice. Now what?"

Must be my cold subduing me.

Anyway. No party here. I have, however, been collecting various links regarding blogging tips, techniques, and resources and thought this would be as good an excuse as any to share them. (Listed in no particular order...)

Elmore Leonard: Ten Rules of Writing

Kent Newsome: Five Steps to Good Blogging

10 Must-Have Things That Should be on Your Blog's Side Bar

Blogger Help

Creative Commons

Robin Good: Where to Find Free Images and Visuals for My Blog

The Weblog Handbook - The Etiquette and Ethics of Blogs

Writing for the Web Comments and links about the fast-changing genres of Webwriting

Steve Rubel: Personal Blogs and Interest Conflicts

Steve Rubel: How to Manage Your Draft Blog Posts

Chris Garrett (Performancing Blog): Breaking News

Chris Garrett (Performancing Blog): 10 Tips for Attracting More Comments

ProBlogger: Blogging for Beginners

Kent Newsome: Blogs are Really Just Better Homepages

Raj Dash (Performancing Blog): Don't Put All Your Effort Into Blogging

Kent Newsome: Bloglogic and the Litmus Test for Link Love

Listible: Best stuff tu put on your blog sidebar

Lifehacker: 40 CSS layout templates, ready for download

Chris Garrett (Performancing Blog): Tell a Good Story

HaloScan: Free commenting and trackback service for weblogs and websites

The Morning News: How to Write a Thank-You Note by Leslie Harpold

MSNBC/Derek Gehl: Harness the Marketing Power of Blogs

So, what have these links (and my 99 prior posts) taught me about blogging?

1. I am not famous or important. I really don't care to be. I do have a unique perspective on life as I experience it and that is interesting enough for me to blog about and maybe others can pick up something useful because I was brave enough to open up and share first.

2. Linkage is overrated. Usually. Most people who spend quite a deal of time on the Net will end up crossing paths with regulars. We visit many of the same sites. We Digg the same things. Therefore, there is a high likelihood we both have seen the same link. My re-presenting it to you isn't very interesting--unless I can give a fresh perspective on the link's content or enhance it's experience.

3. Blogging is both easy and hard. It is pretty easy to find something to blog about, it is very hard to do it regularly with quality. Quality matters on the Net.

4. Don't steal someone else's content. That is just bad wrong. If you really like something just say so and give clear credit for your inspiration. Then expound on it and why it has meaning or value to you.

5. Use your own voice. Trying to emulate your favorite blogger may seem like a good way to be polished, but speak like you live. Save the fancy words and soliloquies for Shakespeare, unless that's what your blog is about!

6. Be kind to others with what you say. The world is filled with enough hate and meanness already. Sure, share a rant or two every now and then, but readers probably want to hear more about how you overcame your pain and frustration rather than how you wallowed in it.

7. I'm blogging 80% for me, 20% for others. Most of my thoughts here are just my creative need for expression leaking out. By nature I am a quiet and introverted person. I think of interesting things to say, but rarely do because I would rather listen to what others say then say things myself. However, some things I want to record in case I need to refer back to them. Or maybe point people to something of value to me that they may also find informative, amusing or simply helpful.

8. Our world is filled with many more creative, clever and diverse folks than the local and national news would have you believe exist. Blogging has taught me that the world does indeed contain kind and helpful persons. If we could break down walls and stereotypes, maybe we could learn to respect and get along with each other a little better.

9. We need more dialog with each other. Blogging is a safe way to talk and share ideas and stories, and sharing comments with each other can get us on the track to being more open to different opinions and viewpoints.

10. Keep an eye out for the unexpected and unknown. When you find it, go there. Then come back and tell us about it. We might all be richer for it.

Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Robert Frost -- The Road Not Taken

Grace willing, I hope to make it through my next 100 posts with style and substance. I hope you stay around to enjoy the trip with me. It has been fun for me.

See you in the skies,

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Sick of being Sick

My cube-mate kindly tossed some cold bugs (germs--not refrigerated insecta) across the cube wall earlier this week.

I've been a walking zombie for most of the week. Productivity/down. Usefullness to society/down. Creative thinking/down. Interest in anything not made of Kleenex or decongestants/down.

Thursday night/Friday morning was the worst. About 2 hours of sleep. Nothing is on at that time of the night.

Made it through work without any major brain-fog enduced computing disasters. Heck, I even got a day's respite from telecom support and did some good-old pc troubleshooting. Used my rusty skills to identify the cause of one dead printer was a bad power cord and another network printing problem was a bad cat-v patch cord. Not bad huh?

The commute home felt like a 10K marathon run. But I had enough reserve energy to pick up the house and clean up the kitchen before my head imploded (girl and Girl had the day off).

I slept pretty well last night. Head is still stuffed and my upper lip is raw from the tissues but I'm blogging and I guess that is a sign that my brain is coming back on line again.


I promised the Girl I would take her down to Clear Lake to visit her late cousin's gravesite today. He was an outstanding young man and husband full of life and energy and joy (and a good bit of spit and mischievousness mixed in). He and Lavie grew up very close and he was like a second brother to her. He passed away two years ago after a very quick illness. He was born with a heart defect and groundbreaking surgery on him as newborn extended his life, well, a lifetime longer than was expected. He is still missed around our home, but his presence still remains.

Sharp Left Turn

Robert Nagle and Jim Thompson posted photos of their piles of blog drafts. I've always wondered how the more prolific bloggers keep their current works in progress and future blog ideas organized. I use Firefox and love that handy Control + D page bookmark shortcut feature. I have made a bookmark folder titled "To Blog" and just dump any potentially interesting blog subject in there. Sometimes I will go in and see if any themes show up (there usually is). The linkage stews in the folder for about a week (or maybe longer) and finally I get a few hours to plate some of it up and serve it to you. Once a link gets blogged, I move it into a "Blogged" folder or "To Sort" bookmark folder. The sortables are ones that I want to keep because they hold a valuable reference or are too fun to forget. My method isn't too sophisticated, but it is pretty easy to maintain and the jumble can create some fun combinations.

Oh yeah, I almost never "draft" posts (I bet it shows, huh?)

Except for the occasional comment post over at the TechBlog, I don't draft/blog at work. Ever. I'm too busy. Well, almost never. If I come across something at work during the day that is superspectacular, I will either fire off a quick email with the link to my home email account or I might type a brief text note and save it on my USB drive for later transfer.

Solutions for Better Laptop Living

Lavie has been reminding me that her laptop acts funny when she boots it. (Well, it isn't funny or strange but mostly annoying.) See, I haven't upgraded our home to a wireless modem yet, so when she wants to use her laptop to hit the net, she has to plug into our router. Only when she does and brings it up, then launches a browser (any one) it responds with a "Page not found" error. She refreshes the page and then it kicks back to life.

What appears to be happening is that the IP stored on her laptop when she shuts down doesn't refresh initially when she reconnects and plugs back into the router.

So (sick of head and body) I wrote a simple little batch file called fixmyip.bat and in it I put three commands:
ipconfig /release
ipconfig /renew

I saved the file and moved it into the "all users" "startup" folder so it will execute whenever a user logs into the laptop.

Now when she boots the ip held by the nic gets cleared and renewed. Instant net pages now.

It's not real glamorous but works. I need to do the same thing for my work laptop as I often travel between lots of sites and sometimes I forget to release my IP before shutting down.

Stay well,

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Firefox Search bar Tweaks

I was following a trail of linkage and ended up finding a handy Firefox tweak. So I thought I would toss in a few more to round out this post.

You know that little bar in Firefox where you can type a search in and then it shows you the Google results? Well with a few tweaks, you can make it much more powerful and useful!

Tweak 1: Add more search engines.

This is a no-brainer. Don't limit yourself to the default search choices (accessible by clicking the little down-arrow under the icon listed in the bar.) Go to the bottom choice and select "Add engines." It will take you to this page that lists a number of popular ones to add in. Or, dive a bit deeper and you will find this Mycroft page that categorizes hundreds of additional search engines to add in, depending on what your needs are. When you find the one(s) you want, just click the offered link and confirm the installation into your searchbar list.

Tweak 2: Remove a search engine.

Get the SearchPluginHacks extension for Firefox and you can easily remove ones you don't want.

Tweak 3: Give your search bar curves!

Get the WellRounded extension for Firefox and add some curves to the ends of the address and search bars.

Tweak 4: Stretch out the length of the search bar.

--UPDATE (12/16/06) for Firefox 2.0 versions! There is a code change needed to stretch the search bar for this version for Firefox. Follow the steps below,but use the code found in this link instead.

It's been a constant aggravation to me that I never seem to be able to see all the text I type in the search bar. It's just too darn short! However, it is pretty simple to adjust.

1) Get the code - Change the width of the Search Bar
2) Select all the text/code in the box at that link and copy it.
3) For Windows Windows XP/2000, browse to your profile folder in the path something like C:\Documents and Settings\[User Name]\Application Data\Mozilla\Firefox\Profiles\[random name]\ and the rest should be obvious (more info here).
4) Go deeper and find and open the chrome folder (more here).
5) Find a file called userChrome-example.css and make a copy of it into the same directory.
6) Rename your copy to userChrome.css
7) Using something like WordPad to open the file (my Notepad made it look funky).
8) Go to the last line of the file's contents and paste the text/code you copied from step 2 above. (Don't add any of those "*" symbols like you see listed in the file. Just leave it like you paste it.)
9) Now, decide how wide you want the search bar to be. The default "400" value is too long for my taste. I have mine set at a value of "250". Just change the numbers to whatever you want it to be in both places you see the number in the text you pasted.
10) Save the file.
11) Close Firefox and re-launch.

If you did it correctly, your bar should be longer!

If you don't like what you did, just go back and modify the pixel size value in the file, save and relaunch Firefox. If you get tired, just delete the userChrome.css file you made.

Hope you find this helpful,

Abandoned in Place - Duex

One of my earliest posts was "Abandoned in Place." In it I waxed philosophic about the mystery of abandoned buildings and how they seem to draw my attention.

Some time ago I was over on the Watashi to Tokyo blog and came across the "ruins are beautiful" post. It highlights a mysterious seeming Japanese island called "Gunkanjima".

According to to the "Watashi to Tokyo" post:
"To be honest with you, I heard the name before but did not know much about it....they say Gunkanjima was only small reef, but it was developed for mining coal since 1870's. Its population was 5,000 at peak, and they built many high apartments. Thus it looked like a warship, so we call this island "Gunkanjima" (warship island). However it was closed in 1974, and it has turned into ruins now."
It reminds me of a set-piece for a Studio Ghibli production of "Laputa: The Castle in the Sky" or something. I can only imagine what it was like to have lived and worked there.

There are two really neat photo-gallery websites referred to regarding Gunkanjima:
Gunkanjima Odyssey (Japanese--so bring your web-translator)
Gunkanjima (English)

In the comments, someone left a link to a site called "Opacity". This is some of the most beautiful photography of abandoned buildings and material I have ever come across. It is really emotionally haunting. It looks to be updated regularly so I've added it to my bookmark list of frequently visited sites. I really like the site layout and color-scheme. Well done.

When growing up as a kid, one book I read that really inspired me was Motel of the Mysteries by David Macaulay. David Macaulay has done some really incredible work, but this one was my favorite. In it, archaeologists from the future uncover a motel room and try to use (misguided) anthropological analysis to discover what life in our times was like. Seeing the possibility of how our ruined civilization would like in stark black and white illustrations captivated my young imagination.

Of course, that let me to learn about the wonderful discoveries of Cambodia's abandoned cities of Angkor, the Maya civilization (that my minor was in), and the tombs of Egypt. (As well as also founding a delight in "fantasy-archeology" found in Raiders of the Lost Ark movies, Lara Croft Tomb Raider movies, heck, even (the original) Planet of the Apes films.)

See you in the skies,

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Dazed and Confused Confessions

Confession #1: I've been kinda "out of it" for the past couple of weeks. The "wreck" and a special project at work have been eating my lunch.

Worn out. I've even been too busy to drop many comments in over at the TechBlog, my virtual pub hangout with the regulars.

See, because of my l33t 5killz I've been placed on a special project at work. It has almost nothing to do with networking or computers or any of that stuff. And to be honest, I don't have much experience at all with this other system and its hardware. Plus it involves supporting a new customer's system so we want to look good. So I've got binders of stuff I'm trying to understand. New offices to find and visit, and new customers who are so happy to see us when we show up, but are confused when we leave without fixing anything (still don't know how!).

Frustrated. Because it is hard leaving my zone of security (desktop/network support) to do something completely foreign is stressful. While I could spend 30 minutes solving a very challenging computer issue, I am spending hours working out how to troubleshoot something I know should be a 10 min. fix if I only knew the system and the commands.

If anyone knows of any good Nortel Meridian PBX system virtualization software out there (if such a thing even exists), I'd love to hear about it from you. Doesn't have to be very new--heck, I don't think Nortel even supports the Meridian systems we have any longer. So crashing a 400+ user PBX system because I don't know the right commands to manage it would be a bummer. I really need something I can practice on and see how all the parts work together.

How tired am I? Our IT team was issued new laptops last week. Our former laptops had to have been between 4-5 years old. These new ones are easily at least four times as powerful (and fast) and instead of being excited, I just got irked that I had to take the time to set it up. I want to be excited about it, really. It is pretty nice. I'm just so stressed out right now I can't find the time to enjoy it. I need to find some removable stickers/labels to put on it (flames?) to pimp it out. Maybe that would help...

The body shop returned my poor car to me this week. It was amazing! Total damage done was close to $2000. I had to pick up the deductible +rental upgrade. I was very nervous about how it would drive being a front wheel drive and them having to straighten up the front end frame. Tracked perfectly with no drift or pull. They even cleaned it up better than when I drove it off the lot new. I did have to adjust the air-pressure in the tires. I keep them a few pounds of pressure higher then recommended so I don't pre-wear the outside edges of my tires (tire-shop tip). They did an awesome job. The family at Kopriva Body Works has had to fix my car twice now, and each time I've been thrilled. It's nice to have my confidence in my car restored so wonderfully. Good folks and wonderful craftsmen. Now if I could just say the same about having trust and confidence in other drivers I share the road with....

Random Links I've collected this week:

The Narrow House -- [an englishman in Osaka] -- Looks kinda cool to me. Something about small and efficiently designed architecture really inspires me. Not for everybody.

Six Studio Ghibli movies to re-air in May on Turner Classic Movies - Set your Tivo today. I highly recommend them all, but that "Pom Poko" one is kinda weird...

Airstream travel trailers teamed with Nissan to design a model called the Basecamp. Looks really nice. I have only the fondest memories of Airstream trailers as we grew up with Mom's parents traveling all over the States in one. Every weekend grandpa would be found on his ladder polishing and waxing the thing.

I haven't really even started playing Kingdom Hearts yet on our PS2. Now comes word that that the sequel Kingdom Hearts 2 is out. Yikes! I better get busy!

ComputerZen master Scott Hanselman takes folks through a walk-though of hunting down a trojan on a system. Good technique to know.

Get some useful Windows XP Command-line tips from Amit Agarwal over at his Digital Inspiration site. In fact, knowing your way around the Command-line interface really can give you an edge with working on your XP/2000 desktop. It's well worth the time to practice using them. Microsoft's XP Command-line reference page, and Windows 2000 Command-line reference page.

New to home networking? Check out Network Magic. Freeware/$$ verisons available. This well polished application helps you to set up and manage a home network. The site has some really good documentation and previews on how it all works. Well worth a look if managing a home network is something you want to do, but don't know where to begin. Seen across many posts, including over at Download Squad.

Confession #2: Guilty blog reading pleasure--Bored Housewife. You go, girl!

See you in the skies,

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

SysAdmin Utilities on a USB-Stick List

First things first....a brief disclaimer:

There are quite a few "The Best of" lists on the Net for software including best freeware and Open Source offerings. Time and time again the list makers usually share a good number of items common to all. I guess if software really is "The Best" it will invariably show up. This isn't a "Best of" list. I'm not that clever or smart.

But even though I am a bit jaded, I do like to click through these "Best of" lists anyway and check them out. I have sometimes been rewarded and found a few hidden gems that way had I not walked though someone else's zen-garden.

So I've decided to audit my USB stick and list my "must-carry" applications. Although I sincerely hope any visitors might find some "gems" of their own here, the purpose is also for me to have the download links handy for quick version updating and recovery--if it ever gets lost/destroyed.

A brief introduction:

I've listed (almost) all the contents of my USB stick. It is a 512MB flash-stick. I really could use a 1GB or 2GB USB stick, but this is good enough--so everything listed should fit (with maybe the exception of the both sets of unpacked Microsoft Windows Support tools. I just keep the W2K ones on, but have the XP ones handy on my laptop if I need to trade them out.

All of the application listed can (some--with a little tweaking) run directly off the USB stick on most all XP/W2K systems; without installing them on the host system. That is an important criteria to me as I am often going from pc-to-pc and I can't take the time to install/uninstall them each time. One or two applications require some specific .dll or .com files and if you figure out what they are, just copy them into the application folder on the USB stick and you are good to go. (I'll expand on this in a later post...)

The applications I have may not be the "Best" in your opinion. In some cases I would fully agree with you. Honestly, they aren't the "Best" in my opinion, either. HOWEVER!--I've chosen to use them because they are either 1) very small on file-size, 2) very specific to the task I need to use them for, 3) are free/Open Source/(un)limited trial, 4) licensing restrictions prevent me from using my first pick or, 5) I really didn't know a better one existed!

Also, these are applications I depend on for my sysadmin work. So no "games" or "media-players" although I know there are quite a few nice "standalone" ones out there. I use many of those on my desktop at home--but that's another post as well. No drivers, either. I generally don't carry "setup/installation" software on my USB stick. I can snag stuff of the network/Internet if I need to. I do quite a bunch of malware cleaning so there is a heavy emphasis on that here. And though I may not use all the tools listed here every time, I like to have them handy when I need them.

Some tools listed are very similar or even identical in function, but because of the different interfaces/GUI/options/etc. between them, I like to carry several.

Warning: A few of the applications listed here may/might/will set off your Anti-Virus sensors. TVNC for example allows you to remote-control another pc--so some AV vendors flag the files as "trojan." Well, in the strictest sense, it is. Also some of the OS product key finders get flagged as well--because they could be used to steal your product key. I need them to be sure to get the system key before I do a system reload of some pc's at work. Also, for some reason ; ) the IP/port scanning tools sometimes set off alarm bells as well...go figure. Because I'm not a programmer, I can't examine the coding on all these, so I have to use them with a bit of trust after doing research and getting referrals from other sysadmin's I trust. Don't take my word for them. Check them out first--that's why I'm giving you direct links to the software developers where-ever possible.

Folders are listed in brackets "[application name]" while applications that don't really need their own folders are listed without brackets under the [Folder Name]. This is just how I organize my USB drive.

Finally, be sure you follow the software developer's license requirements. Just because stuff is "free/Open Source" doesn't necessarily mean you can use it with impunity at work/etc. Respect the developers rights. Support them and their software both with your respect and your $$$. Be kind.

And so,

Claus Valca's SysAdmin Utilities on a USB-Stick List.

USB Root:

copy of my bookmarks.html file from my desktop pc Firefox profile (handy as most all browsers can open the file/links)

[Remora USB Quick Launch] (launcher is on the root of the USB Drive)


BHODemon - Browser Helper Object (BHO) managment/info tool.
BHOList - List of many known BHO's for quick research.
Start_ups - List of many known system startup files and if they are good/bad.
StartupInfo - Provides list of apps that run at startup
Start Up List 2.0 - Merijn's application to check system files that execute at startup.
CopyLock (prior version--I like to keep it around) - delete locked files.
LockFileWizard (current version) - delete locked files.
DeleteLater (DiamondCS-command line tool to delete file at reboot)
HJTHotkey web-lookup tool for HJT findings
LavaSoft's Ad-Aware-SE Personal - malware scanner (personal use only folks!)
[Rootkit Tools]
RootkitRevealer (SysInternals) - Scans for rootkits - newly updated!
RunAlyzer (Safer-networking Beta "autostart and configuration manager" tool from SpyBot folks Description here.)
CompatAlyzer - (Safer-Networking "Windows PE file" analyzer tool --Beta!)
SpyBotSD (version 1.4) - malware scanning tool.
Spywareblaster - prevents malware installations for IE and Firefox.
Unlocker - delete locked files utility.
WhoLockMe - locked files windows shell extension.
a-squared HiJackFree - very neat multi-purpose system investigator.
bugOff - tool to disable some very specific browser hijackers--almost never used.
CoolWWWSearch.SmartKiller - CWS anti-malware tool.
CWS Shredder - Trend Micro's CoolWebSearch browser hijacker cleaner.
ForceDelete - another locked-file deletion utility.
HBUninst - Hotbar's own utility to force uninstall their application.
HijackThis - current version 1.99.1. My all-time heavy-duty anti-malware utility tool. Very full featured--not for noobies!
Hijack This - prior version 1.98.2 (kept around just in case!)
IBProcMan - standalone process manager--bundled in HiJackThis v 1.99.1
Kill2Me - removes the Look2Me malware.
LSPFix - utility to repair malware damaged Layered Service Provider settings.
RemoveDomains.reg - deletes IE browser zone hijacks from registry. Go to the website copy the correct text listed into "notepad" and save as the filename listed. Execute the file to update/clear the impacted registry.
ToolbarCop - helps clean up malware imacted IE browser "add-ons"
WinsockxpFix - another LSP cleanup tool to fix internet connections after bad malware hijack.
wntipcfg.exe - MS GUI based IP setting utility. You need to get it from the Microsoft W2K Resource kit

[ClamWin] - USB AV - standalone style!
Stinger - McAfee's AVERT standalone AV scanner tool (updated often).

[AOPR] - Advanced Office Password Recovery--when users forget their own passwords!)
[Eraser] - Secure file deletion
[BLOWFISH ADVANCED CS] - another sercure file deletion and encryption tool
[ERUNT & NTREGOPT] - Lars Hederer's collection of registry optimizers and backup tools.
[FastStone Image Viewer] - image viewer, thumbnailer and basic manipulator
[FlpImager] - create and write images of floppy disks. More useful than one would think.
[KeePass] - Open Source encrypted password manager utility.
[PSPad] - text and HTML (and other stuff too) editor
msconfig - get the actual file from an XP system, that one will work on W2K systems.

misc documents I need or sync

[Microsoft Support Tools]
Windows XP Service Pack 2 Support Tools (unpacked)
Windows 2000 SP4 Support Tools (unpacked)

[Downloads] Note: used as landing zone for setup files I download.
TIGHTVNC remote desktop control software. (zipped until I need it.)

[Notepad2] (my text editor of choice)

[Portable Firefox] - Get all the files needed to run directly off a USB stick!

[Portable Thunderbird] - Get all the files needed to run directly off a USB stick!

[7zip] - compressed file manager (i.e. ZIP,CAB, etc...)
[a43] - file manager
[Add Remove Pro] - cleans up Add/Remove Program List
[Advanced IP Address Calculator] - calculate IP information
[Advanced IP Scanner] - scan for active/dead IP's on a network
[Advanced Port Scanner] - scan for active/dead ports on a network
PacketMon - IP packet sniffing tool (very small and light!)
SuperShredder - secure file deletion tool
[apt] - (Advanced Process Termination) - kill running processes using 9 different methods.
[bst5] - (Bart's Stuff Test) - hard-drive stress tester.
[DataRecovery] - deleted file recovery tool.
[Disk Investigator] - read raw drive sectors, clusters, etc.
[Easy Cleaner] - multi-talented Windows registry cleanup tool.
[FileAlyzer] - basic file analysis tool.
[folder2Iso] - create an ISO image of any folder/subfolders.
[FolderSize] - nice GUI tool to see size of drives, folders, etc.
[freeCommander] - my favorite alternative Windows file manager utility. Lots of features.
[HDTune] - hard drive information and status utility
[HoverIP] - multi-use IP tool
[i.Ftp] - GUI based File Transfer Protocol utility. Handy.
[ImgBurn] - burn ISO images to CD/DVD (and more)
[IndextDatSpy] - view the contents of Windows index.dat files
[InstallWatch Pro] - monitors your pc to find out what gets installed and where.
[ISOBuster] - extract individual files from ISO images.
[killbox] - handy Tool to kill files locked up in use by malware/system.
[LCISOCreator] - make ISO files from disk media
[Off By One] - light web browser
[PCIFileRec v4] - data recovery application. Very good.
[Process Viewer for Windows] - another Windows process viewer utility.
[PrintKey2000] - screen capture utility
[RegClean] - registry cleaner for Windows (except XP) Read carefully before using!
[RegistrarLite] - registry Editor (enhanced)
[RegSeeker] - registry tweaking/cleanup tool.
[Safarp] - quick Add/Remove program utility
[Widget Print Directory] - utility to print directory listings.
[xpy] - very handy XP system tweaker to combat some malware threats.
Autoruns - what programs are set to run at system startup?
BinText - file text extractor
CurrPorts - what TCP/IP and UDP ports are open on your PC?
FileMon - what files are being opened/closed/accessed on your system?
IPNetInfo - IP lookup tool
JDirPrinter - Another directory printer. I think this download location is legit. Google for others...
Keyfinder - (Magical Jelly Bean Software) - finds Windows System Product Keys
MD5 Hash - use to verify files are exactly the same (well, not technically perfect but good enough for most folks!)
Process Explorer - my second-favorite system utility of all-time from the SysInternals Mojo Masters.
regedit - copied from a Windows pc.
Regmon - SysInternals tool to monitor registry calls on a system.
RockXP 3.0 - find more product keys.
Startup Control Panel - another system startup utility application
System Info for Windows - get a major listing of everything about your system.
ReSysInfo System Information Viewer - another program for system information auditing.
Tcpvcon, TCPView - view network stuff.
TDIMon - another network tool
Trout - IP Trace Route tool
WhatChanged - pre/post installation / setup monitor and comparison tool


The following are additional items I would install if my USB disk was a bit larger:

[Portable Open Office] - An office suite on your USB - Get all the files to install here.
[AnalogX] - has a generous heaping of handy tools and applications.
[Foundstone] - has a comprehensive collection of forensic, instrusion detection and penetration testing tools. Wow! Decisions decisions!

Not entirely USB related but good to keep alongside your USB:

Bart's PE Builder - Make a "Live CD" XP boot disk. Kinda technical to do, but cool.
Damn Small Linux or Knoppix Live Linux Boot CD, every SysAdmin should have at least one Linux Live CD distribution!
How to Run Linux on a USB Drive - If you got the space, why not!
Ultimate Boot CD - Lots of good emergency utilities.
Darik's Boot and Nuke - secure HDD wipe boot disk (cd or floppy)

Hope you enjoyed the list.

If you have any suggestions to make or additional applications that you think I would be interested in trying...leave a comment!

Aways keep your tools handy!

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Tech Tools and Stuff

I know you can't believe it. Three posts in one day? Where am I finding the time. Well, I'm cycling laundry through the machines, Lavie is napping, and Alvis is playing with her PS2 Karaoke Revolution Party game.

Here is some Tech flotsam and jetsam to unload for you:

Every so often when fighting malware, I come across a file that can't be deleted "normally." Basically the file is in use by a system process so you can't delete it. If you know your way around SysInternal's Process Explorer, you might be able to kill it that way. Sometimes the file itself is programed to respawn if closed/killed. That's when things get a little more tricky. On Windows 2000 systems, my trick is just to set the security setting for that file to Deny execution then reboot. That will keep the system from launching the file. Then I delete it in DOS. However sometimes that is a headache. Noël Danjou's "Locked Files Wizard" has gotten some really stubborn files off systems for me. It can be run off a USB stick which is handy. The other day I also came across an article at Email Battles on How To Override "Access Denied" and "Sharing Violation" Roadblocks. They link to a new app called Unlocker. It is very neat. I haven't spent enough time to see if it will work on a system off a USB stick or if it has to be "system-installed." Looked handy though. As an added bonus, scroll to the bottom of the Unlocker page and you will see a plenitude of links for similar apps.

I noticed the other day that a Blogger blogsite I was reading was actually using another system for it's commenting managment. Turns out it was over at HaloScan. I'm not getting near enough comments to try changing yet, but it looks like a promising tool to enhance blogs. Check it out. Free.

PC World offers it's list of 101 Fabulous Freebies (software). While I wouldn't download them all, or even most. It's a good resource to keep handy.

I tried the "new and improved" MSN search at work for some things but was left really disappointed with the search results. So I went back to Google. The only other search site I use regularly is Vivisimo. They "cluster" the findings and make it much easier to pick through the reams of search-results. It is really cool and I am surprised that Google doesn't have anything similar (or do they.......?).

Another visual meta-search clustering engine is KartOO. A deeper review here from Robin Good's site. Pretty cool.

The University of Albany has a very good list of Internet Search Engines of all types.

Joey Interactive provides a list of "quality wallpaper" sites. I've covered many of these, but he links to a few more interesting ones.

NirSoft has quite a few nicely done freeware system utility tools. A new one I have added to my USB stick is CurrPorts. It shows you which ports are open on your pc and who they are talking to. Team it up with their IPNetInfo program and you are beginning to hunt down just what is going on behind the scenes on your pc. Check our their full archive of freeware utilities.

RetroThing linked to the Manufactum website. I guess it would be like a German "SharperImage" on steroids. Fun.

TechBlog Dwight linked to SWC's Best Freeware Guide List. Not a bad list. I generally don't like rating things "best" as that can be a very subjective thing depending on your needs and skill level. However you can often find new programs so I still like reviewing them. That reminded me of a prior link Portable USB Software : A Melange by méprisant. This is another useful software list to bookmark.

Maybe one of these days I'll have to inventory my USB stick and toss up a list of the tools and applicaitons I run directly off it.

Wouldn't that be interesting?


Vanship Models

Danny Choo caught a pic. of some Last Exile vanship collectibles while he was at the Tokyo Anime Fair 2006.

The silver one is Claus and Lavie's (well...actually Alex Rowe's). The red one is Tatiana's. The green one hidden in the back is one of the Silvana's standard issue vanships. The white insect looking one is a Guild fighter. It transforms from a star-shaped fighter to a land-based walker.

I hope these collectibles eventually make it over here to the States.



TV Lost and Movies Found

Jim Thompson had two "mini-posts" on his blog the other day about LOST that got me reflective.

The last episode of LOST Lavie and I have watched was "The Hunting Party" that aired back in mid-January. I've taped two more past that but we never went back to watch them. Quite a few more have come and gone, untaped as well. Lavie's concerned that I am loosing interest in the series like I did with Desperate Housewives. (I must confess, I watched it for the first season--but mostly because I still think Teri Hatcher is a babe--but its plotting and Terri's calves finally turned me off. I'll save that discussion for another post!)

So what's my deal with LOST? Well, I've invested enough time in it that I'm still keeping up with the plot-line on the Wikipedia: Episodes of LOST (season2). And I think that is the issue. While the plot still intrigues me, and I wonder what the final "payoff" is going to be, I'm finding the issues the characters bring to be tedious to sit through. Geesh. We have so many issues in our own "real" lives that maybe I'm not finding the heightened "drama" in theirs to be refreshing or entertaining to me. But as the occasional writer, I am still intrigued by the plotting and the meaning of the Numbers (4 8 15 16 23 42). Maybe I'm just afraid I am going to be let down in the end, kinda like my "Oak Island" post. So I'm taking the easy way out, Cliff Notes style--follow the plot. If it recaptures my fancy, there is always iTunes downloads or DVD releases in the future. I'm not knocking any fans or the show itself--I really did/do enjoy it. But (right now) it isn't entertaining me any more where I can devote myself and my time to watch it.

I'm really ticked off about the Sci-Fi's "mini-series" Dark Kingdom: The Dragon King. I chanced across the first episode late one weeknight and stayed up watching it. The plot was strong and the acting sufficient. I really was enjoying the sets and costumes. Even the special effects were balanced and reasonable. I explained it to Lavie and Alvis as being kind of like "Lord of the Rings" diet style. I enjoyed the freshness of the Norse mythology. Then came the second episode. What a let-down. The plot went south fast. Events were rushed and I felt that I was in one of those childhood "choose your own adventures" except someone had ripped out the pages of the choices I wanted to make and I was stuck following. Characters I had been intrigued by became suddenly shallow and weak. Then it was over--almost anti-climatically. Ripped. So now instead of it being LOR-diet, it was LOR-flavored water.

Speaking of this--since when is a "mini-series" just two episodes? Rantage breaking through... When I was a kid, we watched SHOGUN. That was and remains the high-water mark for me in calling any show a true "mini-series." It ran for several hours each night over the span of what...a week? We were glued to the TV and life stopped as we new it to watch it. Others came and went that were close, but that will always be a mini-series to me. Nowdays maybe the TV gods think too low of us and our attention span (yes, I am remembering I just wrote how I've lost interest in LOST) to really invest that much effort so any show that is aired back-to-back over two days is now a "mini-series." Sheesh.

Just about the only (non-anime) series show I've been watching faithfully lately is Dr. Who. I convinced Lavie and Alvis to watch it with me Friday night and we really enjoyed it together. It was still as zany and campy as ever, but the sets and (some alien costumes) slightly more modern. Just have to love that wickedly polite British humor. The Wiki has quite a lot of good info on the whole Dr. Who series. I wasted an hour (of my lunch break!) at work last week on it. Lavie and I really enjoy the current Dr. Who actor, but must confess...for some reason, Tom Baker (the fourth Dr.) remains my eternal persona of the "true" Dr. And that wicked theme music is an instant attention grabber.

Why Dr. Who? Mostly because it is light and entertaining and (mostly) tongue-in-cheek-humorous. Each episode is mostly stand-alone. And it really doesn't matter where the plot-arc is going because it will probably all turn out OK in the end. Heck I haven't watched it since the Tom Baker period, but I could dive right in and not feel I lost anything...and since it is on cable, if I miss an episode, I have about 10 other re-air dates to pick from!

Going further afield, the only movies I've really been interested in lately have been Asian films. These (the ones I watch at least) tend to be more character driven and based. Conflicts are mostly with self and against others rather than "save the world from the giant monkey" type. My source has been pretty limited to AZN Channel offerings which have been kinda slim lately.

Some of my favorites have been:

Travail - Two sisters battle their inner demons as they face off in a game of Shogi. Slow plodding movie but deeply introspective of inner desires and self-conflict. (Japanese)
Aruku, hito (Man Walking on Snow) - Another slow, plodding character movie about a man facing his old age. The scenes of Hokkaido are really spectacular. (Japanese)
I Wish I had a Wife - Lovesick goofy banker hooks up with a awkward teacher. Kinda like "You've Got Mail" but with an even slower pace. (Korean)
Gomen - This is a "coming of age" movie about a boy in Japan. The frankness of the content (kinda like a Judy Blume story for boys) left me quite uncomfortable at first (maybe it hit too close to home) but as I stuck with it I really began to enjoy it. It really highlights the differences in cinematic themes between Western films and Asian ones of this type. I'm hoping it re-airs so I can have Lavie watch it with me. (Japanese)
Ikinai (aka: Suicide Tour Bus) - A young woman is given a tour-bus ticket by her uncle and (eventually) finds she is on a journey with a group of men who are taking a "final-tour" before having the bus plunge off a cliff-suicide style-so their beneficiaries can reap some $$ and they can regain some honor. Has a very Japanese-style ending. It takes the viewers deep into the heart of men. Downer of a title-but a thought-provoking film. (Japan)
A Laughing Frog (Warau Kaeru) - "Dead" husband returns to the wife he abandoned and all the hijinks that follow. An amusing (romantic?) comedy. Sometimes we can leave the pain of the past on better terms. (Japan)

Two good resources for Asian Film lovers:

MidnightEye: The latest and best in Japanese cinema
Asian Film Connection Summing up some of the best Asian films.

Enjoy your weekend,

Saturday, April 01, 2006

April Fools Maddness

Yeah, it's April Fool's Day here in the states.

I don't have time to go through them all with you. But the big trend on a majority of sites I RSS feed seem to be zombie related....

Here is a giant list of 2006 April Fool's sites on the Web, courtesy of Wikipedia.

Go knock yourself out.

Three highlights:

Mugglenet and the Leaky Cauldron (HP Fan Sites) dual link to --and announces the marriage of their seem confused in the forums.

Harry Potter Fan Zone--shut down by the High Inquisitor

And Google announces Google Romance.


A Mystery from my Past: Oak Island

Back when I was in elementary school, I had occasional headaches, much like those that Alvis suffers from time to time.

School nurses didn't seem as cool about these things as Alvis's have been. We keep the nurse stocked with snack bags and Slim Jims. Don't know why these things help, but it makes a big difference for recovery time. For me, I got shoved onto a cot amongst abandoned school A/V equipment and told to take a nap. If I didn't settle down after a while, Mom came to pick me up.

I did find that there was usually just enough light coming through the door window that I could read. So I inevitably grabbed a small book before heading down to the nurse.

Kids like frightening things. I tended to read "unsolved" mysteries, ghost stories, phatasms, pirate treasure, etc. One story I read was the mystery of "Oak Island." This one really fascinated me. Daniel McGinnis, in the summer of 1795 was exploring a densely wooded section of an island off Nova Scotia and came across a clearing in the woods that had a tackle block at the top of the tree and a small depression underneath. Well, what else could anyone think but "Pirate Treasure!"

A series of digs is said to have revealed wooden plank barriers at regular intervals.

Eventually diggers hit a "booby-trap" and water filled the pit, resisting all attempt to stem its flow. Bits of chain, a mysterious plaque even what some claim to be a floating severed hand were brought up with core samples or in (later) video images.

This story really caught my imagination. Just who would build such a highly complex treasure trove and how did they intend to get it out again when they returned?

Love of movies like "The Goonies," "Raiders of the Lost Ark" and "Pirates of the Caribbean"were eventually all that remained of my "Oak Island" mystery.

Until the other day. I don't know what brought that bit of memory up to the surface but there it came and after all those years, I figured a quick "Google" would reveal what that treasure finally was.

Boy. I was wrong.

In the time since my childhood they found and dug up.......?

Nothing. Zip. Nada.

So what's the deal? (or lack thereof). Historically, it takes a great deal of money to finance treasure hunting expedtions--both on land and in the sea. Lots of money generally means that multiple investors get a stake at the table and when multitudes of people get involved with large sums of money invested for even larger returns--my guess is that "personality issues" can distract from the primary purpose. Eventually the searches burn through the money and that is that.

Are we any closer to finding out who dug it? Not really. Although some interesting information has progressed since I read about it as kid.

The Suspects (Part I):

First we have the usual gang; Pirates--namely Blackbeard and Captain Kidd. But the issue with this is that this seems to have been (if true) a highly engineered construction. Sure, the Egyptians did some amazing things with basic tools but most pirates wanted a place to stash the booty that was quickly accessed and the amount of work that would have been done likely would have precluded this option.

Also suggested were Vikings. Ok. I'm not really buying this one. While Vikings may have explored the area along the Canadian cost and even established some light colonies, I'm thinking they kept "light" on their feet and longboats and find it doubtful they accumulated such a great hoard of gold/treasure they had to bury it that fantastically.

Amusingly, the Knights Templar come up as having come across the Atlantic and secretly buried something of value: the Holy Grail? Yeah, right.

One final group comes up...but lets hold off on them for a moment.

The Physical Evidence:

Granted, the early excavators were not trained archaeologists and anthropologists. They were young men who were spurred on by a desire of riches. What would have been very valuable was a survey and grid-dig of the entire area around the depression. That much work would very likely have left some bits of physical evidence of the person(s) who did the digging: trash, animal bones from meals, a latrine pit. That alone may have provided enough evidence to date the creators. It is even possible that someone was seriously hurt or killed in the construction. Maybe a grave site could be located with clues such a metal or buttons that could date the dig. That is probably not very likely now, however after all the site destruction from later dig attempts.

Surveys of the island have turned up mysterious groupings of stones and boulders....

The proximity of the pit to a cove leads some to suggest that pirates banded together to make a dry-dock and the pit was part of a pumping mechanism to lower water in the cove--but this theory doesn't hold much--pardon me--water.

The strongest clue I have since read is this: tree-growth! Bear with me here. Oak Island is (was) pretty heavily covered in trees. These trees grow at a measurable rate. When Daniel McGinnis found the clearing, it was 1795. Assuming reports are correct, the area would have been deforested just about 50 years prior to discovery. Any longer and the land would once again have been covered by trees! So we have a possible window of activity around 1745 and 1795 for pit construction.

The Suspects (Part II):

That leaves our last likely group of pit diggers: The British Navy. Yes! Well, anyway, this theory goes something like the British captured the rich city of Havana, Cuba from the Spanish during our time window. They sailed the loot up North and British engineers had previously dug the pit as a secret ammo-dump, then they actually filled it with the captured loot. But that takes a lot of pre-planning. If they were so concerned with it, why bury it. Why not just high-tail it back to England to begin with? And why was it never collected? Or was it?

Getting it up:

As noted before first attempts were basic--dig down. This ended when the tunnel flooded. Later attempts involved parallel pits dug--also flooded, attempts to stop the flooding--failed. Dynamite. And core drilling. Currently the pit has been back-filled and activity is idle as investors attempt to secure more funding. Of great interest is that investors convinced the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution to come and do a survey of the island. Those findings remain sealed and secret to this day. However all reports are (what do you expect?) cryptically noted as being "promising." Suprisingly, the Wikipedia reports that the WHOI did release their findings--which were dye-water flow tests and indicated that pit flooding was a natural phenomenon. (Damn those geologists--just who do they think they are?)

Now, considering the magnitude of what has been attempted before and all the high tech techniques that have been attempted and failed, here is my suggestion.

Call up the Discovery Channel for some exciting film support, get some additional funding from the BBC boys across the pond and then go find an American strip-mining operator. Maybe even Geraldo Rivera might bite. Bring in the super digging toys--Tonka Truck style--and mark off an area about a mile around the pit center. Then start scraping the earth away tapering down towards the pit area. This should be big enough to reveal any structure of booby-trap flooding channels. If it fills with water, no biggie. Keep dredging and send the sludge/mud muck through a series of screens to capture any bootie. Get down far enough and eventually you'll have your treasure--or bedrock. Easy-Peasy. Sure you'll destroy everything in the process, but you'll have your treasure.

Come on guys. I needs some final resolution to this matter. My childhood is ticking away here!

Get with it.

Oh yeah, and one other thing. You know young Daniel McGinnis who started this whole thing? Well, the Wikipedia reports that the whole Oak Island thing first cropped up in public awareness in the early 19th Century newspapers--and may have been entirely based on local folklore and stories fed by investment seekers. No supporting materials or evidence have been apparently been discovered, and the pit may have been "seeded" with those mysterious bits of objects to attact more investors....who knows?

Yet another childhood mystery that inspired and captivated me...collapsing in the light of adult daylight....

When it all come down to the final assessment, I guess I have to admit to myself this is all just about boys playing in a sandbox with their (expensive) toys, isn't it?


Oak Island Treasure: Legends, excavations, photos, theories, and even a discussion forum.
GoogleMaps satellite view of Oak Island (not very glamorous)
The Mystery Pit of Oak Island A brief primer.
Oak Island Money Pit--Bill Milstead A now dated website from a (former?) dig investor.

Oak Island - Wikipedia and A Critical Analysis of the Oak Island Legend Warning to all who enter here...hopes be dashed and dreams dismembered against the rocks of reality!