archive for September, 2006

Defcon

I’ve been playing Introversion‘s new game, Defcon, for about a day now.  Wow.  Talk about fun.  The game’s look comes straight from the final scenes of WarGames.  Your goal is to kill as many of your enemy’s people as you can while keeping your own cities well defended.

I’ve only played one game against real people so far (and quickly lost).  I’ve been trying to practice and get a better feel for the game.  All the guys at work bought a copy, so we should be able to have some nice wars soon.

(Almost) One Hundred Hours in the Air

I just reached the 100 hour mark according to my logbook (actually 99.9, but that’s close enough for blogging). I almost didn’t go flying today. It was very hazy near the coast and the overcast layer was just burning off when I arrived at the airport. I decided to hang out for half an hour to see if it improved. Luckily it did, but only just enough to make it flyable. Instead of going to Camarillo (which was just as bad), I stayed at Santa Monica and flew the pattern.

Here’s the current summary from my logs:

Cross-Country: 17.9 (I need to work on this)
Day: 94.3
Night: 5.6
Actual Inst: 0.4
Simulated Inst: 3.2
Dual: 53.6
Pilot in Command: 46.3
Total Hours: 99.9

Akismet Update

I sent myself a reminder email six months ago to let everyone know how the blog comment spam filter, Akismet, is working for me.  Overall, I like it.  I haven’t noticed any real comments being marked as spam, and I can’t remember the last time spam has actually made it through to my blog.  I should also give credit to the WordPress plugin Bad Behavior.  Before I installed it, a lot more spam was making its way into the system.

Oddly enough, some comment spam made it onto the archived version of my blog that runs on ApeJet Blog 2.0.  It was the first set of junk to make it through my filters in the last six months, but I’ve gone ahead and disabled comments on that site.

Wii News (finally)

Nintendo has announced some new information on their next generation console.  I found some old predictions I made last spring.  Let’s have a look:

The basic system does include the console, wiimote, and nunchuck attachment.  I was wrong about it not including a game.  It will come with Wii Sports which looks like a great way to get people started.

I was right about the price: $249.

I thought it would be released a couple weeks earlier than it will be.  No problem, it’s still before the big Thanksgiving weekend rush.

I thought there would be about 15 games at launch.  They’re saying 25, but that may mean “launch window”.  Still, it should knock the socks off of the GameCube’s launch.

I guessed that virtual console games would be $5.  They’ll actually be sold for “points”, but doing the conversion, it looks like games will be between $5 and $10 depending on the original platform.  I haven’t seen anything official about subscriptions.

I still don’t know if it’ll support DVDs out of the box or if the Opera browser will be included for free.

Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town

I finished reading Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town by Cory Doctorow last night.  It’s an excellent story, and a quick read.  I think this novel would be classified as fantasy, but it’s also very modern.  The main character is the son of a mountain (his father), and a washing machine (his mother).  His hobbies include: collecting books, drinking coffee, and installing wireless access points.

If your not hooked yet, try out the first paragraph in HTML or some other format.  Actually, like Cory’s other books (which I also loved), the whole thing is available for free under an Creative Commons License.  Now, go read!

Atlas Shrugged

I finished reading Ayn Rand‘s Atlas Shrugged. I’d read The Fountainhead a couple years ago and have been planning on getting this one eventually. Much like The Fountainhead, it was an enjoyable, thought provokingly, book. My biggest complaint is that at over 1000 pages of small print, it’s just too long for my tastes.

I’d like to tell you what the book is about, but I also don’t want to spoil anything. If you’re interested, I’m sure you can find a good synopsis with the above links. Now, on to some lighter reading.

Vic's Daily Giveaway is Back

Today we launched a new sweepstakes with Qantas Airways. Vic the Koala will give away one prize each day for 26 days. If you enter, you’ll be eligible for all of the prizes that haven’t been given away yet. Today’s prize is one of the best and worth nearly $5000! Since the fewest number of people will have entered today, the odds are best too. You can also get an extra entry for each person that you notify with the Send-to-a-Friend feature (up to 15). That can seriously stack the odds in your favor. Of course, my immediate family isn’t eligible, so if that’s you… sorry.

Here’s how to enter:
Go to http://www.vicsdailygiveaway.com/ and click on the yellow “Enter to Win” starburst.

Okay, enough of the pitch. Here’s some of the behind the scenes info:

We did a similar project with Qantas in April of 2005 that went really well. It also included a survey, which wasn’t very useful, so there’s a slightly different approach this year. For one, we’ve created a Yahoo! Widget (available here) to help promote the sweepstakes.

Technology wise, we’re quite a bit more advanced. Our natural language processing engine is much faster and more powerful. We’re using Ajax for communication with the server and using some very cool techniques for dynamically updating the page instead of using so much Flash. We have some new browser detection/routing code to try to provide the best experience for all of our users.

We’ve been working almost full time on this for the last month and a half. Our team has done an excellent job, and I think it shows. Let me know what you think.