Thursday, March 02, 2006

The Odd Day Off

Ok, today I get a day off. It's Texas Independence Day. Even if it is a mid-week break, I'll take it. I checked and found I have accumulated a garmoungous pile of linkage for blogging--so I need to clean house. This may get long, but you might be able to find some gems in here.

Last post I mentioned that Lavie got a new laptop. It (and she) are humming along nicely, thank you very much. What I didn't mention is that a day later Claus had to get himself a new toy as well. See, our 14 year old VCR began to give up the ghost. It still worked, but replay of tapes were starting to show a funky split-screen view on playback. Sometimes I could fix it by popping in a commercial tape from our vast Disney VHS tape collection, but this trick was working less and less. So I went to get a new one.

I soon discovered that VCR's are hard to find. Oh, I had no trouble finding a VCR embedded in a TV unit, and there were LOTS of VCR/DVD combos, but I already had both a TV and DVD so I didn't need one more of either. I finally checked a local big-box electronics store and they had two (JUST TWO!) VCR models. I grabbed the Sony SLV-N750 model. At first I thought I was settling, but soon found it had a ton of features. It does some wicked-fast high-speed tape winding. It has some auto-search/skip features and to my surprise, it is even able to decode some carrier signals to display program names and times--kinda like basic TiVO. Neat! I'm not against DVR's like TiVO, in fact, I'd really like to try building my own some day. But we have that vast collection of Disney VHS tapes I just can't let go of, and it's hard enough to watch the few shows we VCR anyway. Overall, I'm very pleased with it. My first experience with VCR's was when my parents got a Betamax unit--although I can't remember if it was a Sony or Zenith. It was great. The tapes were small and the quality of replay high. The very first movie we rented for it was STRIPES. I really loved that movie. Bill Murray still rocks. He should have got an Oscar for his work in Lost in Translation. He was robbed!

On to the pile....

Update Headaches:
My iTunes (v6.0.1.3) reported (internally) that the new update version from Apple was 6.0.3. Time for an Quicktime Player iTunes update, right? Well, not so fast there partner. A little more checking found that the newest version was 6.0.4. So I downloaded directly from Apple and ended up getting version

Next I checked ZoneAlarm. My current version was 6.1.737.000 and an internal check for updates found none available. Yet ZoneLabs has v6.1.744.000 now available for download--which I did. What gives?

So, dearest readers, what's Claus's tip for knowing the latest versions--even when the applications don't seem to know? I RSS feed a handy site called Go check it out and add it to your feeds. Now you will never be behind the software times any more!

Unlike my brother, I don't usually go for FPS's. I tend more to circuit racing games, puzzle games, some fantasy quests. But I am going to go get Black for our PS2 next visit to my software dealer. Matt Brett gives a good review that is in line with most others I've read. Mowing down baddies full-auto looks to be a good stress reliever after beating my head against IPX frustrations.
If your tastes run to the more peaceful side, Stuff offers a freeware UNO cardcame simulator. We have about 10 different versions of this game in our house and it never stops being fun to play.
Neave Games offers some fun on-line (Java?) retro-arcade games including Asteroids, Space Invaders, Simon, Snake, Tetris, and Frogger is coming soon.
Sudoku on-line at the [via]
KatamariDamacy wallpapers galore.

Graphic Arts:
GLASHAUS - The Portfolio of Peter Hoffman. Beautifully Modern/Modernly Beautiful.
Mom had a couple Da Vinci sketches beautifully frames. So when I came across The Da Vinci Lode [via Drawn] I just had to share.
Tutorial - how to clone people (in Photoshop) [via energyface] - an incredible freeware app started by Washington State University and mentored by Microsoft. It has some very "Photoshop-like" tools, layers, etc. But is great for users who don't want to RTFM. (Note requires MS's .Net software.)
WetPaint - contains some very nice tutorials to show you some basics in using Worth a look. I hope to see more in the near future!
More OpenSource graphic applications (I've mentioned many before): GIMP (image editor/manipulator), Blender (3d modeler), Inkscape (vectors), Scribus (desktop publishing/layout), Xara (vectors/rendering). [via Libre Graphics Meeting in Lyon, France]
TypeNow - Free tv/movie themed font sets. (Like you don't have enough fonts already...)

Software Goodies: - A giant list of categorized freeware. Great reference link.
Partition Saving -- DOS level partition copy program. [via downloadsquad]
EarthView - dynamic desktop wallpaper/screen-saver. Shows earth with the solar terminator. Neato.
Clack Graphical Router Project on-line tutorial (JAVA) on how Internet hardware and protocols work. Kinda cool and geeky fun. Nice way to teach the in-laws.

Firefox Extension Development Tutorial -- Tired of using other's extensions for Firefox? Learn how to make your own!
gMail adds smart replying feature [via Lifehacker] Could be handy.
Tutorial - gMail guide for Webmasters (With more than one Email Address)
Google Page Creator [via Google Blogoscoped] (new accounts currently on hold due to popular demand--of course.)
Create your own favicon for your website. [] I'll be adding this to my blog later today--now, what picture to use.....
Take a peek into the facility at Google Japan! love those Japanese vending machines! -- another free online file storage site. I signed up for this one. Paul Satamatiou gives a fantastic review of this service. It seems that bloggers could use this service to share files (keep it legal!) with readers. Use my referral link to sign yourself up for a account and maybe I can get an upgrade! I'll let you know what I experience with it.

New Ghost in the Shell related anime announcement. [via Anime News Network]
Sudio Ghibli annouces reopening of Totoro House.
Tenchi Muyo-Ryo Okhi volumes two and three coming in Fall '06 (FINALLY!)
Fred Gallagher (MegaTokyo) annouces DC Comics will publish Volume 4. Great interview and picture of the Volume 4 cover over at PULSE

PodCasts-IT Security:
LiveAmmo Security News Blog has Part 2 of a Podcast on Digital Forensics and Hacking Investigations up. Not for everyone, but some sysadmins may find it interesting.
Security Now podcasts Wonderfully informative content provided by Steve Gibson (GRC) and Leo Laporte (former TechTV host). Great stuff for everyone, not just sysadmins.

Odds at the End:
Ryugyong Hotel - Pyongyang, North Korea [via GoogleSightseeing] more info here. Kinda creepy.
Benjamin Franklin's Virtue Chart: More Info here.

Parting Thought:
NewYork City Union Square Pillow Fight. [via Rocketboom] Now if we could just work our our world-differences this way instead of spending bazillions in defense spending and wars......

See you in the skies,

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