archive for February, 2006

Freeware

It’s amazing how much free, quality, software is available. Here’s a short list of some of the free stuff that I’ve used and like.

7-Zip – file compression and extraction
AboutTime – automatically sets your computer’s clock
Avast – virus scanner
Startup Control Panel – manages the programs that run on startup
CDex – rips music CDs
Daemon Tools – mounts .iso files
DVD Shrink – rips DVDs (for backup!)
Ethereal – network traffic analyzer
Filezilla – FTP client
Gaim – multi-protocol IM client
Google Desktop – desktop search
Mozilla Firefox – web browser
Mozilla Thunderbird – email client
SpaceMonger – disk usage visualization
TrueCrypt – file encryption
Winamp – MP3 (and more) player

Here are some applications that I’d like to find something better (still free). If you have any suggestions, let me know.
text/html/code editor
calendar
rss/podcast manager
anti-virus
desktop search
operating system
photo manager
image editor

The IT Crowd

I just watched the first two episodes of The IT Crowd on Channel 4’s website. They’re pretty funny, and the small cast (and budget) reminds me of Red Dwarf. As far as I can tell, they’re going to be releasing all of the episodes on the website.

The sets are plastered with geek references from Chairman Mao’s RTFM shirt, to a plethora of EFF stickers, and a nice portrait of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. I’m already looking forward to future episodes.

Buying from Netflix

A few weeks ago, I decided to try out Netflix’s used movie store. I ordered Sin City on January 11th, and on January 12th I received an email saying that it had shipped with an estimated arrival date of the 14th. Well, it finally arrived yesterday, February 1st. Instead of taking the expected two days, it took twenty days. That’s just ridiculous. I wonder if it’s typical, or if the post office just screwed up.

Update: It turns out that the disk was scratched. Thankfully, Netflix has a nice interface for reporting problems like this. They sent me a whole new disk and case the day after I reported the problem, and it got to me a couple days later.

Pikmin 2

Title: Pikmin 2
Publisher: Nintendo
Platform: Nintendo Gamecube
Rating: 5/5

I just finished the main mission of Pikmin 2. It was a lot of fun (although a bit frustrating at times). I put in about 20 hours of play time so far, and I can continue playing if I want (I probably will).

The game mechanics are hard to describe. You can control one of two characters directly. They in turn can give orders to your squad of Pikmin — little plant people. You fight monsters and collect treasure.

When you’re on the surface, you’re only allowed to play for 15 minutes which is one in-game day. This helps to add a sense of urgency, but can also be pretty frustrating when you’ve just about made it back to your ship with some loot and only have a few seconds left. Thankfully, the timer isn’t active when you’re in an underground cavern. This give you time to carefully plan your moves and make the most of your scares resources.

The game has a bit of a cutesy look and feel, but there’s still plenty of challenge to keep adults engaged. I didn’t play the original Pikmin, so I can’t compare them. Pikmin has been such a success for Nintendo I’m sure there will be another sequel. Pikmin Revolution has a nice ring to it.

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