25 and counting…

Wednesday, May 6th, 2009 @ 1:44am

Today marks me having spent a quarter of a century on this planet earth. I guess 25 isn’t usually a very big birthday, but it feels like a very big milestone to me. My insurance is (supposedly) reduced, and I can now rent a car. Yay?

25 is a big milestone for me at least, since I had a lot of goals that I expected to accomplish before I was 25, but sadly some of my largest goals that I had hoped to achieve have fallen short, although no fault of my own.

“Life is short”, they say, but I think life is really what you make of it. Sure I haven’t accomplished two key goals I had in place, but I have very few regrets of these past 25 years. I heard a very good philosophy the other day that applies very well here, and it goes something like this: Live life without regrets. A regret is something that you wish you had done, but didn’t. To live life without regrets is to take the opportunity even if nothing comes of it. Don’t live life such that have a regrets of inaction.

While I didn’t realize that concept until recently, I have noticed that over the past few years I have been living by this philosophy. The regret of not doing something is much greater than being disappointed by the results of said action. The event may not have the expected outcome, but you will never have to experience the emptiness of not at least having tried. I don’t want to live through life wondering, “What if…?”

It’s difficult to say what I expect or want to accomplish in these next 25 years, God willing. Maybe I had unrealistic goals for these last 25, or maybe the time just isn’t right yet, but I don’t plan on giving up. There is something worth fighting for, and I am going to fight for it with all my heart. The battle isn’t over yet, and today just isn’t another day. It’s a milestone of my accomplishments and stubbornness to keep on going, even when the going gets tough.

Happy Birthday to me indeed.


Tuesday, May 5th, 2009 @ 2:11pm

While searching for ways to integrate Hulu with MythTV, I stumbled upon Boxee. Right now, it’s only available for Linux and OSX flavors, but a Windows version is supposed to be released this summer in June.

Boxee is an idea of where I see media centers heading, allowing information to be easily accessed all in one place. I haven’t had a lot of time to play around with it, but I like what I see. It can poll my local hard drive or network to look for content, or even stream my content online by pulling information in from sites like Flickr. Even more interesting is the social aspect of Boxee. By adding friends to my account, they can recommend new media to me, or I can view their streams to see what they’re watching.

Take a look at this video introduction explaining how Boxee works:

Savage Gulf, Tennessee

Sunday, April 26th, 2009 @ 10:29pm

I haven’t been camping in a long time, so this trip has been a long time coming. I don’t think Brett had been camping in a while either, so it was decided that both of us should go have a good camping trip. I had been preparing for this by stocking up on items that I had that were either too old, or didn’t own. Of course one of my “old” items for hiking that I had was apparently too old, as you’ll see below.

We left Friday afternoon after work for a 4 hour drive to Tennessee. Upon arriving at the parking lot, we came across this little monster, which we nicknamed, “Shelob”:


I was kind of surprised at how many people were there, as the campsites were all designated and we had some slight difficulty finding an open campsite. After stumbling around in the dark for about 25 minutes or so we eventually found an open site.

Hammock @ NightHammock @ DayI think by the time we eventually setup camp and got everything ready it was pretty close to midnight at the point. We were at least able to have about 30 minutes of chill time and have some nice fireside chatting to wind down the long drive. To the left you can see my newly bought hammock at night, and then after a decent 6 1/2 hour sleep in the morning to the right. I kind of figured we would get up early with the sun, but was still surprised to find out that we eventually had been able to pack up and start the hike to our next camping spot at about 7:30am. We had a fairly long hike to our next spot, but the weather was very nice and I was able to get some really good pictures on the way there.

This is the “Stone Door” section of the park. Apparently there is repelling, which made me disappointed that we didn’t have repelling equipment.

Stone Door

Laurel Overlook. Probably a good 300-500 feet above the valley where we would eventually hike down to.

Laurel Overlook 3

I was amazed at the variety of wildlife and flowers that were found in the valley. This was the first variety of flowers that we encountered near the trail head of the Savage Creek Gulf.

Flowers around the Path

About halfway through the trail, we eventually stopped to take a break and grab some water. While Brett rested, I took some time to try and take some pictures of the pool, creek, and surrounded areas. To take this picture, I had to forge through the creek several hundred yards up from our stopping point, and even then it was difficult. At the stopping point, the water swirled around into an underground chasm, and somehow by accident I managed to take this picture and really liked how the effect turned out.


Further up the path, these vibrantly colored flowers began to show up.

Purple Flower

And even further, these did as well.

Red Flower

Near the end of our hike, my boots started to fail on me. I had noticed it near the halfway point, and had attempted a crude patch-up of medical tape, but even that began to wear out after the last harsh mile of the trail.

Worn out Boots

Thankfully, I had brought some diving boots because we had planned on swimming, so I at least had some footwear protection on the hike back to the car. Unfortunately, we had to take the easy way back because of my shoe complications, and my diving boots were really not well suited for long hikes.

It was a very tiring, but enjoyable trip and I can’t wait to get the opportunity to go again. I’ve omitted some pictures for the sake of time and space, but you can find more pictures of our trip in my Flickr Photostream.

Queen on Old Hardware

Tuesday, April 21st, 2009 @ 9:14am

I’m a sucker for Queen. But at the same time, it’s pretty amazing the different sounds that can be extracted from old hardware. Some guy had the creative idea to arrange program old hardware to play Bohemian Rhapsody. Enjoy!

Windows 7

Monday, April 20th, 2009 @ 11:20am

Windows 7I’ve been sporting the 7000 x64 build of Windows 7 for several months now, and wanted to post some of my impressions on Microsoft’s latest push on their newest OS. Vista has been a marketing disaster for Microsoft. Even with service packs improving Vista’s stability and functionality, the stigma associated with Vista is still bad enough to have people stick with XP. I myself have been using XP for the past 8 years, with brief forays into Ubuntu for my primary OS. But Windows 7 is all about change, and Microsoft has something to prove. Will they succeed?

Windows 7: New Taskbar

One of the most interesting changes from Vista and prior versions of Windows is the task bar. Instead of having the normal, “each window takes up space” portion, applications are reduced to large icons in a similar manner to Apple’s OSX dock in 7′s default setup. The task bar is surprisingly very interactive, showing indicators of the number of windows, or status information for items such as downloads or file transfers. It’s also easy to switch between windows, or close excess windows with the preview Window feature. Of course, if all of this seems daunting, the old task bar functionality can be restored.

Windows 7: Start Menu

The start menu is not surprisingly very similar to Vista’s, but with some additional functionality. “Jump Lists” are a new feature which allow you to quickly access commonly viewed sites or files from frequently accessed programs. This feature can be accessed through the new start menu, or by right clicking on the icon in the task bar.

Of course the previously mentioned items are all about eye candy. What about actual performance? With my desktop’s configuration, Windows 7 is very responsive and I’ve experienced little to no slowdown. Compared to when I beta tested Longhorn/Vista, Windows 7 is a very big improvement in being a much smaller consumer of memory resources. Additionally I’ve been able to run Steam games very smoothly with no major issues. Like Windows Vista, Windows 7 includes a scoring system from 1.0 to 7.9 that rates your systems performance. Given my machine’s specs, here is my score:

  • Processor: 6.1
  • Memory (RAM): 5.9
  • Graphics: 7.9
  • Gaming Graphics: 5.9
  • Primary Hard Drive: 5.9

Overall score: 5.9

I could probably improve my performance with faster RAM, or setting up a RAID array, but overall the general performance of everything is very speedy and quick.

Overall, I’m very happy with Windows 7 and feel that it is a much needed improvement over Vista. There is a lot standing on Windows 7 at the moment, and Microsoft really needs to make a big push to show that people really need to upgrade from Windows XP. Given that I’m running a beta version and it has thus far proved to be very stable and reliable, good things should come once the final version is ready for release.

Extreme Shepherding

Sunday, April 12th, 2009 @ 2:06pm

A mildly entertaining video I stumbled upon today which shows some creative use of shepherding. Enjoy!


Tuesday, April 7th, 2009 @ 9:14am

There have been so many interesting applications for the Wiimote, and here is a somewhat practical application used to control a lawn mower. Yes, that’s right, you can now mow the lawn using only a Wiimote. Observe:

Best of April Fools

Wednesday, April 1st, 2009 @ 12:52pm

Every year, April Fools rolls around and various sites through together pranks, jokes, or otherwise silly nonsense. Here’s a couple of my favorite pranks for this year.

Youtube by far has my favorite prank this year. It’s harmless, and amusing. Visiting any video from the front pages causes everything, included the video, to be flipped. Additionally, you can flip a video that isn’t flipped by adding &flip=1 to the end of the url.

Google’s April Fools jokes tend to usually be pretty good, but the Google Mobile Brain Search was particularly amusing this year.

The Pirate Bay teams up with Warner Brothers… a very unlikely scenerio.

Wii in 720p

Monday, March 30th, 2009 @ 4:10pm

I’m pretty impressed at what people can do with technology, and this is especially the case with things like homebrew and emulation. It’s amazing that there is already a Wii emulator out and it can do some pretty impressive stuff with existing games.

Take Wind Waker for example. The game already looks pretty great at its standard resolution, but boost it up to 720p and it looks fantastic! I would post the video, but you need to visit Youtube and click on “HD” for the full effect. There’s also videos of the Metroid Prime series, Mario Sunshine, and Smash Bros. Brawl, all available in 720p if you browse through the related videos.

I really hate that the whole Wind Waker style has shifted to the hand held Zeldas, as I would really enjoy to see them employ that style again. Amazingly, Wind Waker today looks less dated when compared to Twilight Princess which was released 5 years later.

Fun With Blender

Tuesday, March 24th, 2009 @ 12:06am

I’ve always wanted to do 3D modeling for fun, and have worked with 3D Studio Max in the past at a non-complete attempt to model the City Federal building here in Birmingham. Sadly I never finished it.

Country HouseBut I’ve recently picked up modeling again when I stumbled across Blender, a free open-source 3D content creation suite. As seen to the left is a model of my latest work. It’s still a work in progress, but I hope to eventually complete it by the end of the week. I decided to go with a house, because it seemed like a simple enough model to attempt, and so far I’m fairly pleased with how the model has turned out.

Some additional work is needed to the ground, more details and surrounding scenery, and of course textures; which of course I’m trying to figure out as I’ll stumble along. I’ll try and post the finished product once I’m actually done with it!