I'm Jeremy Newman and this is my website LaXDragon.com.
If you are looking for a point to this site, then you are going to be looking for quite a while. To save you ten seconds of your valuable time, I will simply tell you: This site is just a place for me to perform the ancient and well practiced art of stupidity. Feel free to read on if you get your kicks out of that sort of thing.
Please do not expect much on this site to resemble anything intelligent.
Blog'n the night away...
Monday February 11th 2013
Another round of Moonshine upgrades. This time it is a new mobo and RAM and GPU. I even opted to go with a 120GB Intel SSD drive to speed up Windows 7 boot times. Check my Puters page for the complete specs. I'm very happy with this build. While not top of the line, it is no slouch. I'm sure I'll get at least 4 years of life out of this new mobo.
I did go ahead and perform some benchmarks. Check the table below for comparisons to the last few iterations of Moony.
|GeForce 6800||GeForce 7800 GTX||GeForce 250 GTS||GeForce 560 GTX||GeForce 680 GTX|
As you can clearly see, the performance is near double in the 2011 benchmark. It completely blows away the 250 card. Not bad at all. I should mention that the 560 GTX benchmarks were taken on the new Core i5 mobo. Had I taken them on the older Core 2 Duo mobo, they would have been a bit lower. The 2013 version of 3DMark now has 3 benchmarks, but I only cared about the score from the high end Fire one.
Benchmarks are one thing, but what about current games? I'm happy to report that I can finally play Crysis at Ultra settings and get a playable framerate. Skyrim also plays fantastic with the high resolution texture packs loaded.
Windows 8, I've decided to skip this one. I played with the Beta a few months ago. I'm just not a fan of this new interface. While I'm sure it works great as a tablet interface, as a desktop paradigm it is a complete pain in the rumpus. There just is not enough new under the hood of Win8 to justify upgrading at this time. It does have a minor revision to DX11, and some other tweaks under the hood. The consensus across the webs is that this is shaping up to be another Vista.
Retro Den Re-Do
Saturday August 11th 2012
One of my longest to do projects was to re-do the back part of the basement that that I have dedicated for retro-gaming. For years it was simply a large black brown cabinet with doors that hid it from view. Problem with that cabinet is that it never had enough space to contain the multitude of gaming systems I own. That just would not do.
Inspired by a similar project that I pinned on my Pinterest board. I planned out a new design. It would be based around an Ikea red bookshelf that I would add legs, and a back to. I then added LED lighting to it for that extra bit of pizzazz.
The complicated part would be the wiring. This many systems connected to a single TV is quite a challenge. That challenge was answered by my trusty Pelican System Selector Pro. I modified the labels on it so they matched the actual systems in use.
I made a quick video tour you can check out here:
Wednesday April 11th 2012
Today I moved my website over to my new domain LaxDragon.com. The reason this is happening is because it goes with my long time internet handle. While I still like the old DracoWulf domain, it makes more sense, to match my domain with the name I use in most online places.
The story of LaxDragon is fairly uninteresting, but I'll tell you about it any way. Come sit on my lap, a little to the left, that's better. I came up with with it during my early online days, predating internet access even. I created it as my login for America Online dial-up. Being a D&D fan, and the fact I lived in La Crosse, WI at the time. See, LaX was simply shorthand for said city. Easy enough. Over the years, and moving away to Minnesota, I needed to come up with a new story for this. I went with lax being lazy, or relaxed. I often imagine a sleeping fat dragon as my namesake. So there you go, now get the hell off my lap.
And NO, it does not mean, Laxative Dragon. You are so clever. Can you imagine that image... *shudder*.
Make Larry Come Again!
Tuesday April 3rd 2012
Leisure Suit Larry is one of my favorite games of all time. Ranking up there with classic adventure gaming greats such as Monkey Island and Day of the Tentacle. Best of all, Replay Games, formed by former Sierra devs, has convinced Al Lowe, the progenitor of Larry, to come aboard and help with the remake. I am practically orgasmic over this.
This screenshot is from Larry 7, in my mind, the best Larry to date.
Newman Arcade ver 2.0
Tuesday January 10th 2012
It has been many years coming, but I have finally done it. I have upgraded my arcade emulation from the couch / tv based setup, to an actual upright arcade cabinet. Thanks to the fine folks at Rec Room Masters and their outstanding X-Tension arcade. Now I can play my classic arcade games the way they were meant to be played: standing as a bipedal humanoid should. Nerdgasm!
My cabinet is powered by a Zotac Z-box. This small low power (i.e. green) PC has plenty of enough juice for my 2d emulation needs. For controls, this is connected to my pre-existing X-Arcade Tankstick. The only thing missing was some additional buttons for exiting games and pausing them. For that, I picked up an I-PAC usb and some arcade quality buttons. It required some minor modding and drilling of the cabinet. But I find it turned out very well.
The side and marquee art was designed by Rec Room Masters. I went with their NES style design. I love the 80's feel of it.
Sunday December 25th 2011
Gleefull Festivus to you comrade!
Thursday November 24th 2011
We have a new tradition here in the Newman Man Cave folks. The Butt-Numb-Athon. This team based non-olympic event is a true test for your gluteous maximus. To compete you must survive a 12 hour run of all three EXTENDED editions of The Lord of the Rings on Blu-Ray. Only breaking for food and bio breaks.
It was rough, but Kitten, Driod, Jeffster and I were able to complete this astonishing task.
Wednesday November 16th 2011
Back when I had the house remodeled. I made the decision to drop Comcast. I installed a good antenna up in my attic, and even installed a signal booster for that antenna. I bought a Tivo Premiere to handle recording my HD shows from over the air. It worked well enough. Unfortunately, I live near an airport. It seems every time a jet would fly over, my signal would get all wonkey. I tried everything I could think of to remedy this. But, alas, it was not meant to be. It was nice saving more than $90 per month not having to fill Comcast's coffers. Today, the cable guy was back out here to get me all hooked up. After many issues getting a cable card to work in my Tivo, I am now officially a slave to Xfinity. Meh.
On the bright side, I am getting all the channels I really missed, Being a fan of Discovery, Food Network, and the Travel Channel, I had suffered without them. That, and being a Gopher Hockey fan, I needed my one sports fix, FSN (Fox Sports North).
Learning the Guitar
Friday July 29th 2011
This is something that I have wanted to do for years. I want to in my spare time, attempt to learn and play guitar. Inspired somewhat by my years of playing Rock Band and Guitar Hero. I know this will be a challenge, and I have no aspirations beyond playing a few songs well enough. The Guitar I picked up is a Fender Squire, modified with a MIDI compatible fret board. This model is designed to be used in the Pro mode of Rock Band. I know, a game is not the best tool, but from the reviews I have read, this may be possible to pull off.
Sunday July 24th 2011
More than a year back Karen bought us tickets to the outdoor U2 concert. Well, the concert was delayed by a year due to issues with Bono's health. Fast forward today, Bono is back and, man is he rocking. I am beyond impressed. U2 really knows how to put on a good show! It started pouring rain about an hour into the show. We were soaked to the bone, but that did not deter us or members of U2. Bono even did a rendition of "Singing in the Rain" while sporting an umbrella. Amazing!
Friday June 10th 2011
I was not planning on attending E3 two years in a row. I had waited 30+ years for my first visit, so I had no aspirations of a second one so soon. CodeWeavers sponsored my trip this year fully. Thanks! The highlight of this years E3 was the WiiU. It looks interesting enough, imagine a dual stick joystick, with a 7" touch screen in the middle of it. Should add some wild gameplay possibilities. The console itself looks to be about the same specs as a Xbox 360. So again, Nintendo plans to not push the bleeding edge of graphics. It has served them well for the Wii, I'm not convinced they can repeat their success.
Home Sweet New Home
Sunday March 20th 2011
After 4 months of solid work, and more than a year of planning, our home remodel is complete. Well actually it was completed 2 months ago. Today marked the completion of the last major construction step, the 2nd floor rear deck. I really love being home again. We had to stay at my brother-in-laws house during the heavy part of the construction from August, until end of December. During that time Reed was born. So, needless to stay, it was an interesting time, all of us being crowded into his home. Thanks E, we really appreciate it!
Reed, we built this house for you little dude. I'm sure you'll love it. You will have something I didn't have, a consistent house for hopefully your entire childhood.
Wednesday February 23rd 2011
Today the UPS dude dropped off my Open Pandora. This slick little device, is bascially a Linux based open source handled classing gaming dream. I mostly want it for the emulation possibilities. I plan on running classing NES, SNES, and even Playstation 1 games.
Hello Reed William Newman
Wednesday October 20th 2010
Today my lovely wife Karen gave birth to our son Reed. He is 5lbs and very healthy. Welcome to the world Reed! I look forward to showing showing you many geeky things.
E3 and California.
Sunday June 20th 2010
For our vacation this year, Karen and I decided to spend a week in Hollywood, California.This is my first trip to the Los Angeles area. I'd been to California before, but never L.A. The first part of the trip was your typical touristy stuff. We drove ourselves around the area in a 2010 Ford Mustang convertible with the top down. As a Minnesotan, I am envious of the weather they have out there. One of my favorites moments is when we waked from Santa Monica pier to Venice Beach and back. I was amazed how much Venice Beach smelled like incense */wink*. Another day was spent at Universal Studios Hollywood.
The last few days of the trip I attended E3, which is also know as the Electronic Entertainment Expo. E3 is sort of Mecca for gaming geeks. It is basically where the big gaming companies show off what is coming our for the next holiday season. Yes, the conference is loud, crowded, with long waits. All of that aside, it was well worth it! I look forward to going again.
Tuesday November 10th 2009
I have just arrived home from another outstanding European WineConf trip. Each year CodeWeavers sponsors a conference for the open source Wine developers conference. We move the location each time. Every 3rd year or so, we host it in Minnesota. This year, WineConf was held in Enschede, The Netherlands.This is my second trip to The Netherlands, also known to us yanks as Holland.
I have to say, the Wine geeks really know how to drink. The funny part is, most of us drink beer, and not much wine.
Sunday October 18th 2009Rocktober is the month of living hard and getting your ass in gear before the harsh reality of Minnesota winter is upon us. I celebrated Rocktober by doing the following things:
After 4 years, it was time to finally give Sonic (my home Router/Firewall/Web,File Server) a full upgrade. It had been running quite well on a Dual P3 Slot 1 mobo. But, the 120 gigabyte hard drive was woefully inadequate. If I was going to do a upgrade, I wanted something low power, and more importantly, quiet. After a bit of research at Newegg.com, I found exactly what I was looking for. An Asus Intel Atom 330 with the ION chipset. This is the same CPU they have been using in most Netbooks. The specs read as dual core 1.6 GHz and 64bit capable. Perfect! The motherboard does have more features than I need in a Server, I disabled the Bluetooth receiver for example. The hard drive was upgraded to a Western Digital Caviar Green 1 Terabyte drive. Plenty of space for my needs, and low power to boot. Since this was a completely new system, I went the new full Debian install route, instead of just coping the old hard drive over. This will have removed any old cruft that build up over the years of Linux upgrades. So far it is purring like a kitten, a very very quiet kitten.
Game On! Rocktober marks the beginning of the flood of new games hitting shelves in preparation for the holidays. For me, the big games this month were Uncharted 2: Among Thieves and Brutal Legend. I already beat Uncharted 2 in less than a week. It still took me about 10 hours to play the main story of the game. I just could not put it down. It was that awsome of a game. 5 Stars for sure! I still have yet to play Brutal Legend, but it does look like it could Rock! (Yes, I know I stole or "borrowed" Rocktober from the Brutal Legend advertising campaign.)
Best of all, Rocktober is far from over, how are you rocking it? Next up... FESTIVUS!
Speaking of hard MN winters, this October has been unseasonably cold. We already had freezing nights, and at one point 2 inches of Snow. The normal for this time of year is 50's. Gotta love Minnesota! You just never know what kind of weather you will get here.
Minor Moonshine Upgrades
Thursday March 12th 2009I took a PTO day today to work on my mental health. That, and I needed to spend some time putzing with my home puters. I have not performed any significant upgrades to Moonshine for quite some time now. In the last few months Moony has become somewhat cranky. Team Fortress 2 would reboot during game load, and other games would simply hang afer 10 minutes. Since I feel it is still not in my best interest to spend the buckazoids on a full system upgrade, I went the el-cheap-o route and simply upgraded the part most likely causing my headaches. The Video card.
After upgrading, here are the latest benchmarks, with comparisons to the last 2 generations.
|GeForce 6800||GeForce 7800 GTX||GeForce 250 GTS|
The new cards specs are: 512meg DDR3, 128 Stream processors, 738 MHz core / 1836 shader clock.
As expected, this is not a dramatic speed boost, just a nice increment, and stability is good again. I can play TF2 at full detail at 60+fps at 1920x1200. I Can't complain about that.
I still have no ETA on when the next FULL upgrade of Moonshine will happen. My current rough plan is to wait until Windows 7 ships this fall, then look at prices. It also depends on when a PC game ships that really needs more power than I have.
Saturday February 28th 2009
Look at me go, at a snails pace, OK, well a snail would lap me. This video was from my 1st day attempts. Big thanks to Eric for the lessons.
Christmas Photo Gallery
Friday January 16th 2009
Today I posted our Christmas photos. These are from various parties and events strewn throughout the Holiday season.
Enter the iPhone
Sunday January 11th 2009On January 1st 2009 my 2 year contract with Qwest finally expired. It has been no big secret around the Newman household that I have been absolutely drooling over the iPhone 3G since it's release a year ago. To complicate things a bit, MacWorld was on Monday January 5th. There was a rumor that Apple might release new models again this year. The rumormongers out there suggested that there either could be a smaller Nano version, or a more feature rich Pro version. Well, neither came to pass. Fine by me, the current model suits my needs just fine. So off to Best Buy I go to pick up my new gadget. (note: BBuy because of Reward Zone points, same price as Apple store)
I could not be happier with the iPhone. It meets and in some areas even exceeds my expectations.
Some of the sweet things I can now do from anywhere:
- Browse the interwebs. My old phone could do this, but no where near as fast and fully featured.
- Play games, big surprise I would look for a device that also had 3d gaming abilities.
- Music, I don't have a large music collection, but I see that changing. Also, Pandora Radio on the road friggen rules.
- Movies, book tickets, modify my neflix queue, watch trailers, get Rotten Tomatoes scores. Slick!
- Monitor my calorie intake and exercise via the LiveStrong app.
- Never get lost again with Google maps and GPS.
- Facebook updates and Photo uploading
- and so much more
Today I updated my Blog articles to display an article title in RSS correctly. Previously, it showed the date as the title. On this subject, my blog posts are now also displayed on my Facebook page. If you are on Facebook, look me up. A simple search for Jeremy Newman should do it.
Recent Hardware Upgrades
Tuesday January 6th 2009In the last 6 months I've done a few hardware upgrades to Garfield. The My Computers page has been updated to reflect that. Mostly because computer parts are so friggen cheap now. I was able to get a new mobo, RAM, and CPU for 300 bucks.
I also cleaned up that page a bit to better show the progression of hardware upgrades. The log area of each system will from this point on show incremental upgrades as well as full system upgrades. Incremental upgrades will get a "dot" release, while full upgrades will change the main version number.
While I am here I'll use this time to editorialise a bit on PC hardware upgrades. As shown on the puters page, I have not performed a major upgrade on Moonshine since 2005. That is a new record. I've never had a system go such a length of time between versions before. One reason is that releases of PC games I am interested in has slowed. Another reason is that I have switched most of my game purchases back to consoles. Finally, I still feel that when I built Moonshine, I built it so bleeding edge, that the hardware was a bit ahead of its time. Whatever the case I don't feel the need to upgrade Moonshine any time soon. There still are no PC game releases coming soon that (A.) interest me, (B.) Moony can't run. Granted, having said all of that. Diablo III is possibly coming much later this year... maybe. I will re-evaluate upgrades if needed at that time.
The Year in Review
Tuesday December 2nd 2008Looking back it has been an incredibly busy year for us. There certainly were less major events, however, that did not stop us from filling the year up with great small things. Like the old, axium, The small things matter. I put together a small photo gallery which summarizes the following events: (The events that have their own gallery have been linked.)
- Disney Trip
- Summer Cabin Fun
- home remodels (basement, and upstairs bath)
- La Crosse trip
- Fair Fun (State Fair, and Ren Fest)
- Jen and Brian's wedding
- CodeWeavers gets an arcade cabinet
The last major event of the year is my continued weight loss. I'm pretty happy with the results so far. Since around May, I have lost over 35lbs. This time, all on my own. No special diet, just exercise and eating right. I still have not reached my goal of the decade. I have yet to break the 200 mark. I've come close. I may not reach it this year, but my current goal is to make it through the winter with no significant gain. Then, by next spring, I will definitely break that milestone.
Summing up, good year for both Karen and I. Woot and all.
Hasta La Vista Phatty!
Friday July 11th 2008This winter was particularly bad for me and my jelly belly. After all that work a few years back loosing weight, I managed to put a good chunk of it back on. This just won't do. Instead of falling back to Seattle Sutton, I decided to strike out on my own and go the tried and true route.
Step 1.) EAT LESS
Step 2.) EXERCISE
I know, DOI.. right? Anyway, once you get in the groove and stop being a lazy F'r, "You can do it!".
Two things helped me get my move and groove on. First off, I bought some spanky new blades. The K2 Moto Extreme. These are a great set of wheels. The front 2 wheels, are 90mm, and the read 2 are 100mm. This gives what K2 calls an "aggressive" stance. Whatever that means. For me I find these are the perfect blades to handle all the bumps, cracks, twigs, and curbs of outdoor blading around the lake. I no longer fear tripping over things as much as I used to.
The second addtition was Wii Fit.This gizmo is simply a white wireless board that you stand on and do various workouts, and yoga poses. The "game" that comes with it is more or less a simple virtual instructor that guides you throuh the routines. It keeps track of your progress and offers suggestions and tips. Pretty nice package and easy to use. I managed to maintain a daily workout habit on the Wii for over a month straight.
After all this, I have again lost 25lbs! Nice. Not only that but, I feel much better overall. It seems corny to say, but I think the Yoga poses have really helped my flexability and balance.
I still have much more work to do. Even with all my progress I'm still obese according to the game. I need to loose about 15 more pounds to get my BMI under 30. If you put any stock into BMI. Honestly, all I care about is getting rid of my muffin top looking beer gut. Not that I'm going to stop drinking beer, aww hell no!
Welcome to the Dog Pound
Friday May 9th 2008Karen sent this out as an email, it is too good of a story to not include here:
seriously - the stuff they do.
We've been propping the back door open in the evenings so they can run in
and out at will (until the bugs get too bad). So, Kirby & Bailey had been
going back and forth for about an hour.
The 3 of us (Jer, karen & Eric) were in the basement watching TV, and Kirby
comes racing downstairs, his tongue is hanging and he's panting like crazy.
We laugh, assume they have been chasing each other and let it go.
About 10 mins later I ask "Where's Bailey?"
No one knows. I go outside, take a look around. Don't see him.
Come in. Look around the house. No Bailey.
Finally, we hear a bark and assume he's wanting to come in the house, but
he's not by the back door.
I go back outside. This time Kirby comes with and he starts running back
and forth in front of the firepit/sandbox area (that is fenced in).
Low and behold - there is Bailey. Stuck inside of the firepit area - on the
wrong side of the fence!!!
I'm assuming they were wrestling in the back yard, and he got excited and
jumped over - but couldn't figure out how to get out.
Welcome to the Dog Pound!!!
Have a great Friday.
DisneyWorld Vacation 2008
Sunday February 17th 2008Now this is how you get away from a frozen Minnesota winter. Growing increasingly tired of -10F temperatures we hopped on a jet to sunny Florida. We enjoyed temps 70F+ above what we normally have here.
Pictures from the holiday are available here.
The last time we were down to Orlando, FL was exactly 8 years ago. It amazes me how much has changed in those 8 years. Marriage, owning a house, getting a dog. Disney has not changed much in those 8 years. Sure there has been more than a few Disney and Pixar movies released in that time. There was only several major new rides and attractions. The biggest being the Mt. Everest roller-coaster at Animal Planet. At Disney Hollywood they added a live car stunt show. Speaking of Disney Hollywood it was renamed from Disney MGM just last month. We were surprised by that change, but as we thought about it, the MGM name just does not have any impact anymore. Epcot saw the addition of the Soaring ride, and updates to "The Seas" using Finding Nemo as the theme now. Magic Kingdom mostly only had aesthetic updates using new characters to some old favorite rides. The last time we were down, I missed out on several attractions. The Indiana Jones show was shut down, and Pirates of the Caribbean was getting updated. Both of those were new to me as I didn't get to experience them before. Being a HUGE Indiana Jones fan I was on the edge of my seat during that show. Cool Stuff indeed.
The other difference I experienced, was in the area of our personal technology. Back in 2000, cell phones were not very commonplace yet. We are so used to them now, but I remember that we didn't want to get separated back then. Now we can just call and find each other easily. The other change was digital cameras. Now we can take hundreds of photos quickly and easily. For Christmas I bought Karen a new Cannon SD-1000 cam. This was the perfect cam for this trip. Small and easy to whip out for fast photos. Not only that, but it was very capable at video. I took a crap-ton of video. Coming very close to filling our 2 gigabyte flash card. I even took a video of the entire Mt. Everest ride, holding the cam out as we rode. I hope to edit something together and upload it to YouTube soon.
I've always been a big fan of Disney. I can't recommend enough going to DisneyWorld if you are big kid like me.
Thursday January 17th 2008Upgrades on sonic today. I switched to PHP5 from PHP4. Made the appropriate changes to the website code. A few months ago, I already upgraded the OS to Debian Etch. That made the transition much easier. I also made some code tweaks to the website. For example I am now using memcached for session management. This reduces the load on the DB server as sessions are now stored in RAM. I also reworked the database class to only open connections to the DB if there are queries being made. Some of the subpages of this site don't need to open a connection. This should also reduce load on MySQL. Exciting!
I learned today that one of my all time favorite NES games Bionic Commando is getting a remake. It will appear on Xbox Live in the spring. I'll be looking forward to that one. I'm also curious to see how the fully 3d sequel turns out.
Holiday Cheer, Games, and Dog Scare
Saturday January 12th 2008Another holiday season has come and gone. Not that I am going to complain. I for one am a pretty big fan of the holidays. Saying that it is a crazy busy time of the year for us is a massive understatement. I didn't have much downtime in the month of December. Like I said, no complaints. I love it. Big thanks and much love to our family and friends that we spent time with over the Festivus `for the rest of us`.
Our annual Winter/B-Day party was another huge success. Thanks in part to Rock Band. Almost everyone was giving the game a try. It is amazing to me how mainstream games have become. Party games such as this really allow anyone to get into the fun. This is what gaming was supposed to be about.
Speaking of gaming: After Christmas passed, I still had the rest of the week off of work. This gave me plenty of time work work my way through my new games. The first was Call of Duty 4. Awesome game. Those Infinity Ward guys really know how to put together a visual marvel, but still give you plenty of action at the same time. The only downside was the length. The game was over much to fast. What was there was above expectations. The second game was Mass Effect. This gas was much more satisfying in amount of time to completion. I had expected this game to take me a month or more to finish. Well guess what, I managed to finish the main quest in only 3 days. Granted it still took me 14 hours, but I never thought I'd finish it so fast. You can blame the games amazing graphics and story to prevent me from putting it down. It gave me flashbacks of Knights of the Old Republic from time to time. That really is not such a bad thing.
Getting off games now...
We had a little accident over New Years . My Brother-In-Laws dog Bailey was attacked by a Pit Bull mix at the dog park. Apparently this animal felt the need to take a chunk out of Bailey's side. The skin was ripped open, but thankfully the chest cavity was not punctured. After a mad rush to the University of Minnesota Pet Hospital, Bailey was stitched up by the excellent veterinarians there. He was made to wear a clear plastic head cone so he would not attempt to pull out or lick his stitches. Poor dog. I am now happy to report that he is doing much better. We expect him to be his normal happy self soon.
Rock Band ROCKS!
Sunday December 2nd 2007I picked up Guitar Hero II back in the late spring of this year. It has been a hit and we love jamming out on the little plastic toy guitars. Yeah, it looks silly, but it is worth looking we-todd-did for the entertainment and laughs it provides. For as much fun as GH was, Rock Band doubles maybe even triples the pure joy of rocking out. RB adds a drum kit and a mic. So now you get to play the entire band. When you have 4 (or more) people over playing the experience is (in lack of a better word) orgasmic.
Europe Vacation Part Deux
Thursday November 15th 2007I have (finally) uploaded the photo album for our Zurich/England trip. We spent the first part of our vacation in Zurich, Switzerland. I was there to attend WineConf 2007. It was being held at the Google offices this year. Big kudos go out to the blokes and Google who organized this for us. I do have to say that they have some pretty nice digs. Last I checked, my office at CodeWeavers did not have a freezer full of single serve Ben & Jerry's ice cream. I need to submit a request for that some time. After the conf was over we had time to explore the city. Zurich is another fine example public transportation. There was a tram system that made getting around the city a breeze. Why can't we do this better here in the US?
After Zurich we spend the rest of our trip in England at our good friend Rob and Gemma's flat in Southampton. More time for me to check out the pubs and have some of my personal favorite Steak and Ale pies. Mmmmmm gravy! I always hear that the food in England is not so hot, but I for one love it. I even got into some fish and chips action, good stuff. The pubs are so full of atmosphere. The Cowheards pub in Southampton had fireplaces and smelled of the burning wood. Such an old world feel that is not easily reproduced. Big thanks to our hosts! We had an excellent time. I look forward to doing it again.
Now that I am back home I've been settling back into my old routines. The theme of 2007 has been so far "What Diet?". I've put on some pounds this year. I expect that is because I feel back in love with junk food, and being a couch potato. That and a total lack of exercise has put on some more of that old truffle shuffle. I'll get it off, but I'm just not going to worry about it until after the Holidays. No point in trying to go diet crazy during the months of Festivus.
I had problems with Comcast this last month. My Internet connection was dropping too often. When there is no internet I feel like grabbing a pitchfork and torch and forming a mob to raid the Comcast offices. Instead of that brilliant idea, I simply called them to complain. Not as original, but effective none the less. Turns out my cable modem is outdated and starting to malfunction. I ended up buying my own. Since I was changing all my home networking anyway, I went ahead and built my own firewall/nat on Linux instead of using the old LinkSys hardware router I've had for 7 years. I'm much happier with this setup.
Check this out:
Yeah, we sometimes do work at our office, but not that day.
TV Upgrade Time
Thursday September 20th 2007It was time to replace the old rear projection CRT HDTV. I really liked that TV, but as of late, it's flaws became more and more apparent. The main issue is that for gaming the picture is simply not at clean and clear as what you see on a modern LCD. For movies it still held up well.
The new set is a Samsung 40" LCD that is capable of 1080p resolution. That is 1920x1080 in longhand. The contrast ratio is a bright 10,000:1. Since I have a dark basement, I had to turn the brightness down a bit from the default settings.
I made some minor tweaks to the website. I made my Xbox Live badge more visable. I also added a Twitter sidebar. I update this via Google Talk. So it comes in handy for quick status updates that don't really need a full blog entry. I will try to twitter more often than my average blog time.
Lastly, I beat BioShock. It took me less than a month. That is really good for me these days. I seldom find time to finish an entire game anymore, unless it is an exceptional experience. BioShock was that and more.
Less than 5 days until the release of Halo 3. That should be interesting. I have my copy pre-ordered. Do you?
Tuesday September 11th 2007I finally built one! This has been a todo of mine since forever. Well, in actuality the full goal was to build a ArcadePC upright video game cabinet. But, this is a good 1st step. Part of me would rather sit on the couch, and the other part of me wants that feeling of standing at a machine. It is still sometimes crazy to imagine I can literally fit thousands of old games in this one box. The kid in me just drools at the thought. Best of all, no standing in lines with a sweaty handful of quarters trying to get access to the best game in the 'cade.
The ArcadePC is a basically microATX desktop PC case with a video card capable of svideo output. It runs Ubuntu Linux as the OS. It is configured to boot directly to the Wah!Cade front end with custom skins. Currently I have the following emulators on it: MAME (Arcade), MESS (NES and Atari 2600), ZSNES (Super NES), dGen (Sega Genesis), and Daphne (Dragon's Lair).
The PC itself is not much to speak of, it is:
- Antec Minuet 300 microATX slim case
- Pentium 4 @ 2.4 GHz
- 512 meg of RAM
- 40 gig IDE hard drive
- nVidia GeForce 5200 AGP (low profile)
- Sound Blaster Audigy LS (low profile)
Friday August 17th 2007There are crap-loads of updates to the site today. I've been meaning to post the following news weeks ago, but as per usual I was far too tied up in being a lazy sloth. It has been a busy year.
Back in May we completely remodeled our kitchen. We ripped it down to the bare walls, and in some cases even further. It was by far the biggest home improvement project we have undertaken to date. I've learned quite a bit through this entire process. For one thing, contractors are a pain in the ass. A necessary evil none the less. Most of our new cabinetry came from Ikea. We shopped around until we decided we liked the look and the quality of the parts. I have photo-documented the entire ordeal. Overall I could not be more pleased with how it all turned out.
Next on the list is our fantastic voyage to Canada. This whole thing started when Rob, our good pal from England, wanted to come over for a 10 day visit. We were trying to decide what to do while he was here. The plan was, hey, none of us have actually driven to Canada before. Why not give that a try! We took Interstate 35 north from the cities and took highway 61 up the Lake Superior lake front from Duluth. Our first overnight rest stop was in Grand Marais. From there we drove to Thunder Bay, were we stayed two nights in the fabulous accomdations in a Days Inn. While we were in town, we found a variety of things to do out of doors. We chartered a 90 minute sail boat cruise around the harbor. We walked accross Canada's longest suspension bridges. This one was particularly difficult for me as I'm not a big fan of falling to my squishy death. I'm glad we did it. The rest of the stops were at various national parks and waterfalls.
We are just past the half-way point for the year. There is so much more to do yet this year. Coming up in a week is the Minnesota State Fair. I'm always a big fan of that. Can't get enough of that Vitamin G.
360 Repaired and Game Updates
Friday July 20th 2007Finally got my 360 back from MS. That only took an entire month! They did not even fix my old 360. They simply sent me a new-ish one as a replacement. Looking at the label on the new 360 I see that is was manufactured in June of 2006. So it's not brand spanking new. I hope they at least replaced the heat sinks in this one with the new ones I've been hearing about. I guess I'll find out after some marathon gaming sessions.
I wasted some time last week watching the E3 coverage on G4. E3 is the Electronic Entertainment Expo. It is the big summer trade show for the video game industry. They basically lay out all the games that should be out for the following holiday season. As usual 75% of the games released in a year come out during the Christmas months. G4 does an okay job with the coverage. At least I recorded the entire expo on the DVR. That allowed me to fast forward through games I couldn't give a flying fart about.
Most upcoming games I'm looking forward to, are all coming out on the 360. The PS3 is still in for a world of hurt. Here is the short list:
- Halo 3
- Mass Effect
- Grand Theft Auto 4
- Assassin's Creed
Thursday June 21st 2007
Oh well, I have my Wii to keep my company for the next few weeks as I wait for my 360 to return. At least I was able to complete the main quest line in Oblivion before it croaked. In fact, that is probably what did it in. Because of that game I was putting more hours on the 360. The problems are most likely heat related as longer play times cause the system to run very hot.
Blah Blah Blah...
Thursday May 17th 2007Hi there!
Where the h-e-double hockey sticks have you been!?
It has been busy around home base here. We have quite a-lot going on lately. I'll cover that in future posts as we complete the goals we set out for this summer. OOoooo, so secretive he is. MMMmmmm.
What I have accomplished lately was adding a RSS feed to this page. You can now grab my blog with your favorite feed reamer.. err... I mean reader. RSS Use the link here in your favorite RSS reader. I prefer the very slick Google Reader.
Things at CodeWeavers have been going very well. Our Mac product is doing nicely. I'm quite pleased with how well things have turned out this last year. We still have plenty of work cut out for us.
I recently signed Kirby up for his own page at Dogster. You can see his page here. Dogster is like MySpace, but for Dogs. If your dog wants to be a pup-pal with the Kirbster, feel free to do so.
Cannon S3 IS
Friday March 30th 2007Spring is almost here. Finally, cabin fever is almost over. My butt and gut have grown over the winter. Since our big Seattle Sutton extravaganza this is the most weight I've put on. Somewhere around 15 lbs over the winter. Yikes! I'm looking forward to getting back outside around the lake on the blades. Speaking of blading, I took Kirby out for a small run with the blades. We had one awesome day last week where it got up to 80F. Kirby was a little afraid of the blades. He kept up with me, but he made sure he was not going to get very close to the wheels. A few more times of going out should hopefully cure him of that.
We picked up a Cannon S3 IS from Newegg this week. This camera is a decent upgrade from our Cannon A80. Specs are: 6.0 megapixel, 12x optical zoom, Digic III chip, image stabilization, and ISO 800 support. The S3 lays somewhere between a digital SLR and a point and shoot. The lens is much better than the A80 for example, but you can't change lenses like you can say on a Rebel SLR. This is about as much camera as I think I need. So most of our gallery pictures from this point on should be from this camera. The deal from Newegg was nice, they threw in a 1 gig SD card, a camera bag, and a tripod.
Check out my Twitter blog. Twitter basically is a mini-blog that you update in real time. I have my IM configured so I can simply IM that blog directly. Major blog updates I will still make to this site. But what I'm currently up to from minute to minute can be found there.
Last weekend I put in some good time on the Xbox 360. I managed to finish off three games over the weekend. Gears of War, Condemned: Criminal Origins, and Tomb Raider Legend. I started playing Oblivion as well. I am still not sure if I will get back into World of Warcraft anytime soon.
Back to the fun!
Monday February 26th 2007A new theme! Today I "got'er did" the theme for this site. It is the same layout basically, just with a slightly different look. I also updated the pictures used for the random photo on the home page. I grabbed a few of my favorites from various albums. The old images were almost 10 years old. I don't think I look that different, but I agree, they did need an update.
This weekend we were hit by a large snowstorm. I didn't take an exact measurement, but I would say there is about 14 inches of snow. A perfect chance to test out our new snowblower. Okay, not new new, but new to us. I added a few photos for your viewing pleasure.
Tuesday February 20th 2007MAME the Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator. I found myself regaining interest in this venerable emulator again. It's been so long since I updated my MAME environment that most of my roms where invalid and had to be updated. MAME is up to version .112 right now, the last version I was using was .85. What got me interested in MAME again was there is a new build for linux called sdlmame. Finally a build for Linux that can actually run well. Sorry, but old xmame was just crap. I could never get it configured to run as well as Mame32 on Windows.
The downside of the Linux build is there is no GUI like in Mame32. Fortunately there are plenty of Front-Ends available. The one I found is called Wah!Cade. This is by far the best front end I've tested so far. So very customizable. Best of all, it is all controled via your joystick. It is really designed to be run from an arcade cabinet. As you see in the screenshot here, I made my own custom 1680x1050 widescreen layout for it. Wah!Cade also supports separate layouts for each emulator. I hit a button on my joystick and change to the SNES and Genesis game lists. Very very slick!
Someday the true goal is to build a stand up MAME arcade cabinet. For now, I'm happy using my X-Arcade joystick. I'm currently researching what is needed to build a cabinet. I'll post more in the future as I get closer to this goal.
The PS3 still sits un-used right now. Not exactly the best $600 I've ever spent. I really don't think anything much will happen with the PS3 this year. I've also been so wrapped up with MAME stuff lately that I have not logged into World of Warcraft in over 2 weeks. I think I needed a break from that addiction anyway.
I just noticed this is my 52nd blog post. Umm.. woo! ...or something. This means the code to jump to the next page of blog posts finally kicks in. The limit being 50 posts per page. Heh, only 2 - 3 more years until the next page is complete.
Saturday February 10th 2007Lots of stuff to post today. This really should be like 4 separate posts, but hey, it's my dang site. Shut yer trap! First off. Welcome to the New Year, only a month late. All I can say is wow! Is it really 2007 already? I was still just getting used to 2006. It still had that new year smell.
Christmas was excellent as always. We had another successful "Newman Holiday Extravaganza". Big BIG thanks go out to everyone that stopped by for some winter cheer. The surprise HIT at this years party was the Nintendo Wii. Friends and neighbors hooted and hollered while rounds of Wii Sports Tennis and Bowling were played. It was amazing to witness.
In January, my good friend Rob came over from England for a week. Just in time to catch our best snow of the year. Up to this point, we hardly had any to speak of. We all went downhill inner-tubing at this hill in Wisconsin. The hill had a tow rope, so you could just grab on and not have to walk up the hill. Being pulled up was almost as fun as sliding down. I had many flashbacks of Calvin and Hobbes flying sleds of of hills. The snow was really coming down that night. Fresh powder and tubes == many face washes. My beard had icicles hanging off of it by the end of the night.
Speaking of icicles, it has been butt cold out the last week. We are talking temps dropping below -15F, with windchill reaching -30F. Colder than a Witches titty for certain. I guess we still can get a real Winter here in MN.
World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade was finally released this month. Finally I can level up my main character Splortch from level 60 to level 70. Granted, I only just made level 60 a few months ago. Some have been waiting to level up 60s for over a year. Contain your aggro kids. I also joined a new guild back in early December. Keel Haul. They are a great group. Thanks Dana and Deb. You pirates rock! Yaaar!
Lastly, I broke down and bought a PS3. At this point they are in stock everywhere. Hard to believe only two months ago these things were going for up to $2500 on eBay. I thought the regular price of $600 was high. Ouch! To get the PS3 I finally cashed in the pocket lint money I have been hanging onto for the last 10 years. I had about 50lbs of silver coin that I took to the bank and had just enough to get the PS3. At the moment there really are no good games for the PS3. I'm thinking of the PS3 as more of a media center system than a game system these days. I have no idea how the war between HD-DVD and PS3 will turn out. So having both the HD-DVD add-on for the 360 and the PS3 will allow me to not worry about which will win this stupid format war and just buy the movies I want to see in HD. It will be a long time until downloadable movies reach the quality of the HD disks. I'm not sure Sony will recover in the game market. I only see 2 game coming on the PS3 that interest me in the next year. Metal Gear Solid 4, and Rachet and Clank. At this point I feel the 360 is winning the next-generation (now current generation) battle. Microsoft is putting forth a good effort, and the 360 is really a fantastic all around gaming system. The PS3 has a lot of catching up to do.
Tuesday November 28th 2006Check us out! This is Karen and I in Mii form. Aren't we just adorable? Well, at least Karen is. Sorry about the bad quality photo. It is the best I can do with my Cannon pointed at my TV in low light with a flash. You can actually just have fun creating Mii people for everyone you know. The best part is that everyone you create will appear in Wii sports as opposing players or background fans.
I've been playing with my Wii for the last few days and the more I use it the more I enjoy it. Getting off my arse to stand and play some active games is just good times in the making. The only downer is that I have been unable to find a second Wiimote. So Kitten and I just take turns with Wii Sports and Excite Truck. There has not even been any stamping of the feet or crying or anything.
Sunday November 26th 2006After my third attempt at waiting in line at Best Buy I finally manged to snatch up a Wii for myself. As Stimpy would say, "Happy Happy Joy Joy!". My first attempt was last Sunday on the launch day. I was under the impression there would be enough consoles to go around so I only arrived 20 min prior to store opening. Needless to say, I underestimated demand. The Best Buy employees already handed out tickets before I even got there. No dice. Next I thought I would camp out on Black Friday starting at 3:30 am to get a Wii. WRONG! No consoles that day. According to a Best Buy yellow shirt they were holding the shiny white Wii back until Sunday. FRICK! Well, Sunday it is then. This time I was not going to hold back, I arrived at the gates the the blue devil at 6:20 am. Store opening would be at 10 am. It was going to be a long cold wait, but at least I met some nice and interesting people in line. I was number 11 in line. YES. At 9 am an Angel with a yellow ticket name badge handed my golden, err blue, ticket. Finally!
My Wii Launch Lineup:
6979 6251 0093 9066
I spend a good chunk of time today playing my Wii games. About 5 hours in total. The Wii actually reports and tracks your game playing time. A nifty feature. So far I am very impressed with the controls. Everything is easy and intuitive. It just feels "right" to me. Nintendo is onto something big here.
Saturday November 25th 2006I did it! After 14 days of game play I have attained the max level in World of Warcraft with my Dwarf Hunter. W00t!
O.K. Now what?
Website Updates A-Go-Go
Sunday October 22nd 2006Updates! Small updates to report on the site. The My Computers page is updated with my latest addtions and modifications. One, I've upgraded my display to a 22" Widescreen LCD (sweet!). Two, CodeWeavers replaced my crappy Toshiba Laptop with a shiny black MacBook. Awww yeah. Actually, the MacBook I had with me on the trip to the UK, but this is the first chance I've had to mention it.
Game DB Updates:
I am still playing loads of WoW these days. In fact my may character Splortch is up to level 52. I may just make level 60 before the expansion hits. But, I'm not getting my hopes up, nor will go out of my way to grind my way. I'll try to keep my playtime to normal limits.
Back on the new LCD monitor. Starting with World of Warcraft, I will be taking screenshots at the new preferred resolution of 1680x1050. This gets my PC gaming close to HDTV res 1080i (1920x1080). Though, I still think games look better on the PC versus the Xbox 360.
Welcome home Kirby!
Saturday October 7th 2006That's right.
We adopted a new member of our family today. Kirby was rescued by Homeward Bound Dog Rescue of Minnesota. We found the website while doing puppy research online. They bring the dogs to Petco stores each Saturday. This is just a great way to play with and see many different breads if you are unsure of what works for you. We had some ideas, but until you go and see the dogs you may be surprised at which ones grow on you.
I started a Kirby Photo Gallery. I will probably update it from time to time, with new pics.
Monday September 25th 2006We are back from our trip to jolly ol' England. Karen and I left from Minneapolis airport September 14th on Northwest Air for a 8 hour non-stop flight to London Gatwick airport. Our good friend Rob was our host for this trip. He picked us up and drove us to his home town of Reading. We stayed our week long trip with him and his Mum. I just gotta say 'Thanks' to them for being so great. We had a fantastic time. The first weekend was work related. WineConf 2006 was being held at the University of Reading. Rob was also the bloke who organized WineConf this year. Good job mate! After WineConf we took a day trip to London. We rode the train from Reading to Paddington Station. From Paddington we took the London Underground. I was particularly impressed by how extensive this subway system was. Talk about good public transportation. Something our city here needs to work on. In London we walked the Thames, rode the London Eye, and many other sites. See our Photo Gallery for a visual tour. "Look kids! Big Ben, Parliament!".
A few days later we drove down from Reading to Portsmouth. This city is a port town. So if you are into boats, big and small, this is worth checking out. I'm a sucker for the salty sea air. We checked out 3 historic ships from Her Majesty's Royal Navy. The H.M.S. Warrior, and the H.M.S. Victory. Both are just beyond impressive. I just wanted to run around on the decks for hours yelling "Batten down the mizzen mast!, Hoist that Dog from the Yardarm! YAAARRR!".
Most people don't come back from the U.K. talking about the food, but I will. MMmmmmmm. Guy food. Since we spent a good chunk of time tasting quality Ales at pubs, we also partook in some great pub food. Bangers and Mash, Toad in the Hole, Sticky Toffee Pudding, and who can resist the traditional English Breakfast - Meat, meat, potatoes, meat, oh yeah, and a fried egg. Damn tasty!
I look forward to our next trip.
Saturday July 1st 2006Not much going on right now. Just the usual work, eat, sleep routine. Something I really need to break out of. Need to get out and do some travel other than our regular summer trips to the Cabin. We did take a drive down to Rochester, MN and went on a 3 hour bike ride down there. That was a good time. I needed a good bike ride since I've lapsed on my exercise a bit. I have not been out on my blades in over two weeks, bad Newman!
At CodeWeavers we recently started to get World of Warcraft running on Linux. So natually we all got accounts and started playing. This may or may not prove to be a good idea. Time will tell. In the meantime I am having a good time getting sucked back into an MMORPG. I have not played one since my days of Ultima Online back in 1998 or so. I've created two characters on the Aerie Peak server if you want to look for me. A Dwarf hunter called "Splortch" and a Dark Elf hunter called "Dracowulf". I'll try to get some screenshots up sometime.
Oh, and you haven't done so already, check out the demo for Prey. It's really f'd up in a good way. I played through the demo about 4 times already. Twice on my PC, and once on the 360. I even installed the demo in Linux using CrossOver and it worked perfectly. Though, if you get even a little bit motion sick playing FPS games this one will really churn your guts. I've never had that problem. A big thumbs up from me. Now I just need to decide if I'd rather play it on the PC or the 360. I'm leaning twords PC.
Enjoy the summer, and like me, try to get out of basement a bit. Mmmmkay?.
Camping, Newman does not Camp! Does he?
Monday May 22nd 2006Added a new photo gallery: Lake Superior Camping Trip
I went on a weekend car camping trip with my brother in-law Eric, and his good friend Matt. We stayed at a small campsite just north of Two Harbors, MN. About an hour or so north of Duluth. The goal was to simply get away for the weekend and possibly get some good photos. It was a great time. We actualy had some good weather save for the few hours of rain on Saturday morning. MMmmmm bacon log!
PC Hardware Weekend
Monday May 15th 2006It was a PC hardware weekend. After a week of drooling over the next generation of console hardware at e3, it seems ironic that I would spend the weekend upgrading and rebuilding my older PCs.
First task: Upgrade Sonic. The website should be more responsive now. I notice the biggest speed difference on the GameDB with entries that have more the one large screenshot. Since the shots are dynaically resized that takes some CPU horsepower.
Second Task: I planned on simply upgrading the hard drive in Clank. I wanted to copy over the data on the fat32 partion of the 2.5 gig HDD over to a newer 30 gig HDD. But the bios would not see a drive bigger than 8 gig. I found what I thought was a compatible bios update. The version number matched what was imprinted on the mainboard. It did not take. In fact it ended up "bricking" the motherboard. It no longer would even boot. Doh! So since I have the leftover P3 from Sonic, I used that and re-installed Win98se from scratch on the 30 gig HDD. I copied over the save games from the old HDD. I then spent the rest of the weekend re-installing games. The upside is that Clank now runs more games than it did before. The older DOS games that freak out due to the speed of the P3 are now run on Garfield through DOSbox instead. I mainly want Clank for older Win9x era games that are 3dfx only titles and pre DirectX 8.
The reason it takes me so dang long to reinstall games is that I have to tweak and test each one after installing them. I usually will play through the first level to make sure they are running fine. It helps that I keep an archive of all the old game patches on Sonic as some are getting hard to find these days. I also keep a collection of all my old save game files. I have learned far too often when upgrading not to keep the save games.
Saturday May 13th 2006Another e3 came and went and once again I did not get to go. Someday I will.
It is official. The name of the Revolution is the Wii. It was the highlight of this years e3 by a long shot. I think Nintendo has the right idea. The wii-mote, the revolutionary controller for the Wii, will usher in a new era of gaming. I disagree with the big N on HD graphics however. The Wii will only support a maximum of 480p. A far cry from the 1080i I can get now on the 360. At least it is widescreen. For the record, I am genuinely excited to try out the Wii (all puns aside).
Ahh the PS3. Wow, how the mighty have fallen. During last years e3 I was looking forward to the latest powerhouse from Sony. No longer. It just does not offer anything over the 360 from my point of view. The only thing it has going for it are the 1st party games from Sony and other exclusive titles you cannot get anywhere else. And the PRICE, holy schnikees Batman! $499 for the stripped down model, and $599 for the REAL model. For that price you can get both the 360 and the Wii. I think Sony for the fist time since the PS1 launch has an uphill battle. I am not rooting for them this time around. The Wii is my master now. Don't even get me started on how crappy it is of them to be half-assed and slap some motion detecting into the old PS2 gamepad to look current. That and they dropped force feedback, big mistake.
Sin Episodes: Emergence was released this week. It is available on Steam as a download only. The plan is they will release 9 chapters at each only 20 bucks. Episodic gaming, I guess we will see how this idea of game distribution turns out. I do like the idea of cheaper games. It just depends on how much game play I can get out of each episode. So far I like it.
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