Blog'n the night away...

Europe Vacation Part Deux

Thursday November 15th 2007
I 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.

Back Home
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 Turns out my cable modem is outdated and starting to malfunction.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.

YouTube'ing
Check this out:
Yeah, we sometimes do work at our office, but not that day.

TV Upgrade Time

Thursday September 20th 2007
Samgsung It 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?

ArcadePC

Tuesday September 11th 2007
I 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)
I control the whole setup with my X-Arcade joystick.

Summer Time

Friday August 17th 2007
There 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 2007
Finally 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
  • Bioshock
  • Mass Effect
  • Grand Theft Auto 4
  • Assassin's Creed
On the Wii, I only have Mario Galaxy, and possibly Metroid 3 took look forward to. There is also a fitness game coming amazingly titled, Wii Fit. What makes that title interesting is that it comes with a balance board thing that you use to exercise on. My increasing butt size might want to keep an eye on that one.

RROD!

Thursday June 21st 2007
My Xbox 360 has given me the dreaded red ring of death (RROD). The red ring of death is when you turn your 360 on and instead of the normal logo on your tv, you are greated with 3 blinking red lights on the front of the 360. The cause of the red lights is unknown to anyone outside of Microsoft. It basically means your source of game goodness is trashed and needs to be replaced. Crap. I called up jolly MS on the phone and was told since my system was out of warranty, I would need to cough up $140 bucks of hard earned bread to get my system fixed. Double crap. I've only had my 360 for little over a year now. I'm not alone here. Many others are having the same problems as me. Even the guy at the UPS store told me he sees plenty of the 360 coffin (the so called box you get to ship your dead xbox back to MS in). Various polls around the net have some people reporting returns of three or more times. How this defect rate is not making bigger news around the net amazes me. If anything, MS is a ninja at keeping this a secret.

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 2007
Hi there!
Where the h-e-double hockey sticks have you been!? πŸ˜‹

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.

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. 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 2007
Spring 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.

Cannon S3 ISWe 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!

Website Redesign

Monday February 26th 2007
A 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.

MAME

Tuesday February 20th 2007
MAME 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.

My Wah!Cade LayoutThe 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.

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