Comic Book Creator

Comic book creator is a fantastic idea and after one day, I think it is 90% there.

You can use FRAPs to grab a bunch of screens, drop them into comic book panels, add speech balloons and create a comic at such an enormous speed that it boggles the mind. Doing the same with Paint and Word, or more professional tools like Gimp and desktop publishing would take days, plus a substantial learning curve.
The cost you pay for this power is dealing with a product with rough edges. I bought the CD version from Amazon because it cost less than direct download (go figure). The disk comes with an older version plus a CD key and no clear instructions on how to update to the version available online. The trick is to install the online version and use the CD key, as per advice in the CDC forum.

The installer is a bit broken. On two different machines it hangs 0% remaining. The expansion pack only installs to drive C and requires some hacking that I can do, but is inappropriate for the target user of kids and artists.

Getting the Most from your iPod

An iPod is a pocket computer, a portable hard drive, photowallet, and oh yeah, a music player.  Music player better than everything else.

But, something that the iPod does better than everything else is store data.  My thumb drive is both too slow and too small to hold serious amounts of data.  My iPod can hold virtual machines like VMWare, VPC, Moka and semi-virtual machines like Mojopac.  All of these require the user to have administrative rights on the host machine, so they make more sense for someone who wants to maintain a constant computing environment between home and the office, but doesn’t want to lug the laptop.

The iPod is a good place for holding portable applications.  Portable applications let you take your documents and applications with you, and often do not require you to have administrator rights on the host computer. I like the PortableApps.com launcher, since it is very easy to plug things into it, even if it doesn’t have a “paf” installer.

And rather than suffering from iPhone envy, I put the Ventrilo client onto my iPod, so now, when connected to a computer with a microphone, it can function as a phone.  (If I want to be ironic, I can do the same thing with my Windows Mobile phone, which can act as a 2 GB USB drive)

And should you have an entire encrypted movie file, you can fit it on the drive (well, up to about 10 movies, at 6GB each) and watch it in perfectly good resolution.  This strategy wouldn’t let you play the movie on the TV without the help of a host computer, though.  It is a good place to put large video files should your laptop be unable to hold that much data, or if the laptop is a work machine and you don’t want to clutter it with public domain and free full length films.

In conclusion, computing can be done on a continuum, from an application rooted to one desk, to a computer than can move from desk to desk, an application that can move from desk to desk, and an application that runs untethered on a laptop, pocket computer or Mp3 player. The convergence device hasn’t arrived and I think it never will, because there is a better computing experience to be had by switching to the best form of the same app depeding on your special circumstances.

Email Bankruptcy

Email is begining to fail as a technology for me on a number of levels– it over run by the worst sorts of spam, it’s too easy a way to avoid dealing with people as humans and it consumes too much mindspace. And the volume. There is too many messages I want to ‘subscribe’ to and not enough filtering.

Email’s Failure on a Social Level. I’ve recent read the book “Painfully Shy” and while I probably am, I don’t want to be in pain or shy, so I’m going to try to declare email bankrupcy and switch to making phone calls when ever I can, especially for family and friends & avoid emails where it isn’t really a very valuable social exchange anyhow, like dealing with customer service. (This doesn’t apply to my work situation though, where 2/3 of my office work team is off site–it that case, multimodal–in person, phone, email and IM–is the way to go)

Email’s Failure in denfense against mal-mail. POP3 email is out of control, and worse yet, it has been taken over by purveyors of not just regular porn, but porn plus hate crimes. I think we are going to see a replacement soon. My domain account gets thousands of spam emails, which I finally have rerouted to a suitable blackhole in a nearby galaxy.

My email is secret, but not my phone number. I’m going to change my email address to something hard to guess, rather than something logical, like my name. This will make handing out my email address difficult, since non-geeks have a hard time typing email addresses. I’m thinking of using my phone number and name, since it would create a huge search space (3 thousand common names * 24 intitials * 9^9 power phone numbers * 12 different ways to combine the names. ) Also, this will let people know that they have no excuse not to call me when ever they email me.

Aliases. Long ago I switch to using primarily forwarding accounts to increase ISP mobilitiy. It a strick policy of never using you SMTP/POP3 email account except via a forwarding alias is also proving to be handing while I declare email bankruptcy.

Untrusted mail. I can’t stop using my old email address, which now is a combination of spam and untrusted mail, so I think I will route it to gmail, which isn’t too bad and has a good spam filter. My Yahoo account will continue to be by rarely checked account I give to websites that I suspect will spam or crapfood my mailbox.

RSS. I now use bloglines and I intend to use it, or whatever better RSS reader I can find. I’d kind of like to declare webbrowser bankruptcy, too. Webbrowsing is another way to avoid dealing with people, but on the otherhand, most of the people I’ve been friends or acquitances with I met at events I learned about on the internet. Someday this will lead to RSS reader bankruptcy, too, but it is a step up from checking 25 sites only to find out that 20 of them haven’t changed recently and those that have now are listing stale events.

My New Dual Core

The highest priced parts of my new compter were the speakers and the graphics cards. Finally, I should be able to play a decent game of Battlefield 2.

I accidentally ordered two motherboards, but fortunately the TigerDirect phone support was able to fix it for me. I could have split up my order, but on the expensive items, like the CPU and graphics cards, Tiger was already a price leader.

Here is my parts list: (prices don’t reflect about $100 worth of refunds, $100 worth of shipping)
* Microsoft Windows XP Pro Edition OEM Version & Service Pack 2 (M17-7502) $139.99
* Ultra 1024MB PC4200 DDR2 533MHz Memory (ULT31690) X 2 $199.98
* Ultra Black Aluminus ATX Mid-Tower Case with Clear Side, Front USB, Firewire and Audio Ports (ULT31824) $89.99
* Ultra / X-Finity / 600-Watt / ATX / Dual 80mm Fan / SATA-Ready / SLI Ready / Black / Power Supply (ULT31848) $79.99
* Aerocool Black UV Frame 120mm Case Fan with 4 LEDs (Q131-1014) 2 $17.99 $35.98
* Intel Pentium D 840 3.2GHz / 2MB Cache / 800 FSB / OEM / Socket 775 / Dual-Core / Processor (CP2-P4-840 C) $199.99
* Gigabyte 3D Galaxy Socket A/754/939/478/775 Liquid Cooling System (G452-4004) $139.99
* Asus P5ND2-SLI NVIDIA Socket 775 ATX Motherboard / Audio / PCI Express / SLI / Gigabit LAN / USB 2.0 / Serial ATA / RAID (A455-1066) $95.99
* Logitech Z-5450 Digital 5.1 Audio System with Wireless Rear Speakers (L23-7076) $239.99
* Creative Labs Sound Blaster X-Fi XtremeMusic PCI Sound Card (C44-3232) $109.99
* PNY Verto GeForce 6800 GS / 256MB DDR3 / PCI Express / SLI / DVI / VGA / TV-Out / Video Card (P56-6800) x 2 $399.98
* Lite-on SHM-160P6S / 16x8x16x DVD+RW / 16x6x16x DVD-RW / 8x DVD+R DL / 4x DVD-R DL / 48x24x48x CD-RW / Black/Beige Faceplates / Internal / DVD Writer (L12-1076) $49.99
* Western Digital / Caviar SE 16 / 250GB / 7200 / 16MB / SATA-300 / OEM / Hard Drive (TSD-250KS) x 2 $179.98

WHY
I read an article that showed that two cheap graphics cards out perform one graphics card that costs twice as much as a single graphics card. Thus SLI and 2 budget Nvidia cards. I used Nvidia just because I’ve had three good experience with Nvidia and I don’t like the ATI software (which I have had one bad experience with)
I wanted a dual core becuase I really do multi-task, I run Unitied Devices UD Agent all the time, I want to run a dedicated Halo server, but I want to be able to use my computer even when a bunch of other people are using the computer.

I got Intel because I have no experience with AMD and can’t figure out what their performance numbers mean. The 840 dual core was cheap, not horribly crippled like a Celeron, and already ran at a high clock speed. However, the dual core 840 has a reputation for running hot, so I got a water cooler. I hope the water cooler is easier to install and operate than I fear.

I got RAID drives because I’m crazy and like striped RAID. It’s very fast, but really is less reliable. I know that I need Windows OS disks to repair the RAID after I get bad sectors in the OS files, so I’m glad I have a real Windows Install disk instead of a peice of shit restore disk. Restore disks should be made illegal and the rat bastards that sell them should be forced to eat broken glass.

The X-Fi and speakers are so I can hear footsteps behind me while playing Battlefield 2. You can’t do a realistic combat sim without simulating what is happening behind your avatar. I hope they X-Fi and the speakers play well with eachother, because the speakers are heavy and will be expensive to ship back if they don’t work. I got X-Fi for music because no one knows why the pricer versions would help.

I got a motherboard just because it was SLI and supported my chosen CPU. And it was cheap.

I got the DVD drive because it was cheap.

I got the case because it was aluminum.

I got a 600 watt power supply because SLI requires a lot of electric.

I relied on the user reviews at tiger direct, a copy of Maximum PC, and many interent ‘computer recipes’ for inspiration, although my final PC didn’t look anything like any other PC I’ve seen.

I couldn’t find a comparable on Dell because Dell really wants to bundle in a monitor.

I bought components because every time I priced a dual core, dual card, 2GB, x-fi, RAID, machine from a reputable company like velocitymicro.com I ended up with $2500-$3000. Even Dell, would run me about as much or more. One of the the closer Dell configurations I worked up was $1600, but then I realized I was missing water cooling, a 2nd graphics card and XP Pro. The Dell XPS 410 also was somewhat comparable, but cost $300 more, in part due a bundle monitor worth $200 and still didn’t support a 2nd graphics card, didn’t include XP Pro. It is hard to say if my two hypothetical Dells would have been equally fast.
Not bundling XP Pro really complicates things for me, because as a power user, I really do use features like Remote Desktop, IIS, NTFS encryption and NTFS compression.

Well, I will try to review as many of these components as possible as soon as I build the computer.

Soft Reset for the Ipod

There are many ways to reset a crashed iPod.

Hold pause down until it turns off. (This is just the normal turn off procedure)

Hold center button down and menu until you get apple logo. (This worked for my 5th gen ipod)
If that doesn’t work:
Hold pause and menu until you get the apple logo.

If you need to do a hard reset, also hit the right or left key. (not sure which)

If that doesn’t work you might need to restore from disk.

If that doesn’t work ….well… I don’t know.