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James R. Dunson's Journal

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5th May 2009

2:39pm: A pleasant change
Today one of my users came to me saying the hard drive on his development system had serious problems. I go into the usual spiel as we walk down the hall, warning that even if we do get it working, we need to focus on getting his files off before it fails completely. Unfortunately, it made a horrible clacking noise on boot, and failed to even start the manufacturer's diagnostic mode. This is an ex-storage device. Unpleasant, but system is new enough to be under warranty and we have a good one, should have a new drive in a couple of days.

I asked him about his files... things didn't look good, how important was it to try how hard to recover what was on the drive? No worries, everything important was checked into Subversion. OK, what about IP (intellectual property) concerns, did we need to shred the drive since we couldn't wipe it? No worries, everything he was working on was open source.

It's probably a bad sign that things "merely" working as they should lifts my day this much, but I'm still smiling.

1st May 2009

2:01pm: O, the month of May, the merry month of May
I keep telling myself I should start posting again, but the backlog is always so daunting I don't know where to start. I'm also not sure I'm willing or able to write about many of the things that have been stressing me over the last several months, or whether it's a good idea. So I'm going to try posting some light stuff for a while just to get back into the groove.

Today's thought: "If any part of your computer can be described as "oozing", you need professional help. You might need the Geek Squad or you might need the Ghostbusters, but you need to do something about it soon."
(A slight restatement of an earlier comment I'd made about blown motherboard capacitors, leading off my response today to someone who hadn't mentioned that they'd blown a couple of caps on their video card until quite late in the troubleshooting process.)

8th September 2008

5:53pm: Another year
I've gotten out of the habit of blogging, for various reasons. For those who wonder what my year's been like, this video (worksafe) really sums it up more than is comfortable, in a "really funny except for the moments you realize it isn't" sort of way. I keep telling myself I need to get back to writing, but we'll see if it happens.
Current Mood: meep meep meep

31st October 2007

5:37pm: Blu movies
There's currently an offer that if you buy a qualifying Blu-Ray player (including, for instance, a PS3) between 2007-10-01 and 2008-01-31, you can get five free Blu-Ray movies, chosen from a somewhat peculiar list. (There was a similar offer over the summer, with a slightly different list.) As much of my flist are more into movies than I am, I thought it might be interesting to use this as the start of a discussion. The offer rules are that you must pick exactly one from each of the five categories, for a total of five.

Category 1: The Prestige, Wild Hogs, Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl
Category 2: Swordfish, Superman, Full Metal Jacket
Category 3: Stir of Echoes, American Psycho, The Devil's Rejects
Category 4: The Patriot, S.W.A.T., Ultraviolet
Category 5: Chain Reaction, Omen 666, Flight of the Phoenix, Species, Hart's War, The Last Waltz

What would you pick, assuming you owned none of them, and why? Based on what you know about me, what would you suggest I pick, and why? (FYI, the only one I own in normal res is PotC:CotBP, and it's one I'd actually probably appreciate the upgrade to HD.) Any related commentary welcomed.

8th September 2007

9:50pm: Yes, I am a pirate, two hundred years too late.
The cannons don't thunder, there's nothin' to plunder;
I'm an over forty victim of fate
Arriving too late, arriving too late.

13th June 2007

7:29pm: One of those days
Figures. Spend all day alone in a windowless server room swearing at Microsoft updates, and miss the end of the world.

Nobody knows I'm here, and the building seems quiet... Read more...Collapse )

6th June 2007

6:32pm: * RL: The focus at work lately has been getting ready for and running a technical symposium this week. Finally don't have to wear a suit for it, but it's still 12+ hour days (most of the hassle of being staff at a fandom con, but without the fun).

* Last Friday (6/1) was particularly berserk at work with a major network failure to troubleshoot; never did pin down the root cause precisely, but it boiled down to a cascade failure probably caused by a thunderstorm-induced power flicker confusing one device that then spread the confusion. This sort of thing is why I'm a big fan of UPSs on *all* devices, including little edge widgets; even a few minutes of uptime to ride through glitches adds considerable overall stability. A serious allergy attack, printer failures, system moves, and a bunch of smaller stuff made it one of those days.

* I've completed Phase Ic of the apartment reorganization and shelving project now, with a narrower DVD shelf in the hallway to give more room. I've got the shelf hardware now for Phase II, but haven't had the time & energy to put it in place, since to start requires pulling just about everything out of the back room (which means filling up pretty much every *other* room) and extracting the old loft.

* FF-XI: Beat Dynamis-Qufim recently, so I'm now cleared for Dynamis-Tavnazia. It's unlikely that I'll actually get to do that, however; general perception is that it's poor return, and only a few people can go at once.

* Both Miuramir and Totaru have gotten all of the available chocographs now; I've been doing my Chocobo Hot & Cold digging mostly in Altepa lately. It is the hardest area, but the rewards can be considerable; my best item so far is an Attuner (automation part), which just sold for 700,000 gil. It's not making me rich (although a few more of those premium items would certainly help), but doing it with both characters just about every day is enough to cover routine expenses at least.

* Miuramir is now caught up with all ToAU missions (did the new ones last night after the update, which had some great cutscenes), and is Chief Sergeant, the highest available mercenary rank so far. Totaru is almost caught up on Missions, needing the ToAU 31 and new 35 fights; but is still lagging behind on merc rank.

* Odin Sphere: My current "I'm not feeling like FF-XI for whatever reason" distraction. Extremely pretty; beautiful music; interesting characters, world and plot; some fascinating weirdness. I'm not sure why someone decided that the world needed a 2-D side-scroller with a Suikoden-grade cooking system, for instance, but I'm glad they did. I think I'm close to the end of the Gwendolyn main storyline, but I probably need to do a bit more farming / levelling before hitting the Elfland final boss.

25th April 2007

7:00pm: Goldilocks planet at last
Today the European Organization for Astronomical Research in the Southern Hemisphere (ESO) announced the first potentially Earth-like exoplanet in the habitable zone, Gliese 581c. The preprint has a few more interesting details. With the potential to be *very* Earth-like and only about 20 light years away, if Hal Clement were alive today I'm sure he would be already starting work on the setting. With great respect for his legacy I've begun to do some work in that direction. Comments and pointers to additional information appreciated; updated 4/25 with some initial hydrosphere speculations.
Read more...Collapse )
12:28am: Lifter of Shadows, Organizer of Boxes
* FF-XI: Finally beat the Dynamis Lord in Dynamis-Xarcabard on Monday; while it doesn't really get me anything other than a couple of cool titles, it's another major plotline wrapped up. Still only 3/5 on RNG AF needing both the northlands pieces, so Dynamis is still going to be taking up a bunch of my online time.

* RL: Spent a lot of time again this weekend throwing out or boxing up stuff, and assembling more mobile modular shelving. The first phase of the project is now complete. I'm hoping to start Phase 2 this weekend, involving striking down my old loft and putting at least two more mobile modular shelving units in its place. (To give you an idea of how deep I was delving, in addition to finding a table I'd forgotten I owned, there was a Technicon 8 flier between a couple of the boxes next to it.)

* Which reminds me - I'm hoping to spend some time this spring and summer updating and improving the historical information for Technicon. If anyone has program books, pocket programs, detailed fliers, or other stuff from early Tcons, please contact me about getting scans, copies, or photos. I'm also intending to work on an archive of general and staff shirt art.

* As some may already know, I've been in the process of trying to improve my job; I've been underpaid for the work I'm doing even in comparison to other traditionally underpaid similar positions at VT. There's been some real progress in the last month, and tonight I finished updating my resume, bio, and state forms and applying for what will hopefully be a major step toward getting compensated more appropriately for what I'm already doing.

* 750 GB (0.75 TB) single hard drives are nifty, but take a loooooooong time to format.

* I realized a while back that I didn't have any copies of Haydn's "The Creation" (Die Schöpfung). After some thought and wading through a large number of reviews and a few snippets, I'm beginning to think I may need two versions to cover everything I want. One "as envisioned by Haydn", with period instruments, tonalities, orchestral direction, etc. and probably in the original German; and one "pull out the stops" dramatic version, with a more modern, almost soundtrack-like punch, quite possibly with modern (or even electronic) instruments, and possibly in English. It seems that the Gardiner version is generally regarded as a good choice for authenticity, but a bit weak on the vocal soloists; the Karajan version is generally regarded as having superior vocal soloists but being more measured and less exciting, and the Shaw version is considered one of the more dramatic of the modern interpretations in English.

I don't really want 3 versions, so I'm thinking the Shaw and either the Gardiner or the Karajan. I'm interested in feedback from anyone who has a favorite version (either one listed above or something else), and specifically what they like about it; my musicological chops are a bit weak from underuse these days.

21st April 2007

2:29am: Finally



I noticed this on the door as I was leaving work tonight; from a quick look around while walking back across the largely deserted back of campus to my car, it looks like one went up on every single doorway (all I pass normally are academic buildings, though, so it might be just them). Sorry for the marginal picture quality, it's been a long day and longer week.

17th April 2007

3:51pm: Thoughts
When things are going wrong, there's a sense of detachment; the urge to do what can be done. Frustration when there is little one can do. Afterward, it takes time to drop out of crisis management mode, to reflect. For me, the moment early this afternoon that really snapped things home was when my apartment shuddered to the sound of heavy military helicopter blades, and I looked out to watch Marine One on final approach to the VT Airport.

I don't usually deal well with large crowds, but I'm glad I watched the convocation live. Virginia Tech is too large to fit into one building in far more ways than seating; we are a community that stretches around the world, and our spirit is greater than any physical structure or tragedy.

How easy is it to forget in the technical details of disaster preparadness, that some days what you need most on call is a poet.

Let's Go Hokies, Let's Go! indeed.

16th April 2007

3:04pm: I'm fine
I hadn't made it on to campus yet when things started going pear-shaped, so I'm personally fine. We've heard from most of VTSFFC by one channel or another. VT's bandwidth has been pretty saturated, although that seems to be letting up enough that email is getting through a bit more reliably.

In addition to everything else, we're having moderatly high winds. Although not as bad as some places, I've noticed a couple of power flickers here on the south end of town, one enough to put the living room UPS into undervoltage support for a bit. A free-flying cooler slammed into my window, which was a bit startling given what's been happening today.

FYI, one of the best current sources for collecting links to the various media reports (which differ in assorted ways) are the wikis:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virginia_Tech_shootings
http://en.wikinews.org/wiki/Shooting_at_Virginia_Tech%3B_22_dead

28th March 2007

4:48am: RL (kinda): Technicon, auuughh! (Insert Kermit-like flailing of arms.)

Work is continuing to throw a variety of curveballs (and some scorching fastballs) in my direction, but I think things are beginning to look up. Or at least begin to pull up from the "adding responsibility for another research center that's not had a sysadmin for months" power dive.

FF-XI: Despite a late arrival due to work & Tcon business, I managed to get into Dynamis: Windurst on Thursday and pick up Scout's Bracers. That gives me the 3 city pieces of my 5 RNG Relic. There was a time when I really wanted these gloves, because most of the hand pieces available to Rangers were terrible. It's taken me so long to get them, howver, that new pieces have largely superceeded them; I'll probably be sticking to my Barbarossa's Moufles most of the time. Monday was another failed attempt at Dynamis-Xarcabard, putting Miu at 0-2 vs. the Dynamis Lord (well, 0-5 if you count deaths rather than attempts :)

Tonight, in between a lot of Tcon related typing on the laptop, both Miuramir and Totaru managed to get Jungle Chocographs for the Chocobo Hot & Cold game. I appear to be one of the first few people on any server to get these; and the first to document it (I edited the game info and key item into the wiki a few minutes ago). The jungle areas are even harder than previous zones, but Totaru's success was rewarded with a four item VCS crate, rather than the two item VCS crates in easier zones. In a MMORPG this size, it's pretty rare to be even remotely close to the first to accomplish anything; so even though this is fairly minor, I'm in a good mood (which after the rest of today, I needed!)

20th March 2007

6:50pm: Game updates
Things have been pretty busy over the last several months (Technicon is looming, increased responsibility at work, family medical challenges, etc.), but I've managed to make some time for games.

Civ IV: I strongly recommend the Pirates! mod for Civ IV + Warlords.
Read more...Collapse )

The Age of Discovery mod for Civ IV is fairly interesting, but a bit buggy.
Read more...Collapse )

Suikoden Tactics: I ended up pulling this out of my "never completed" pile and have actually been enjoying it a lot more on the second go.
Read more...Collapse )

Roguelikes: Due to an earlier competition (which I never really progressed in), I tried out UnAngband, and while it's not a completed variant by any means, I'm finding a lot to like.
Read more...Collapse )

FF-XI: What with meetings running later on Thursdays, and more Monday commitments, I've not even been making one Dynamis every week. I'm also getting pretty disenchanted about the whole process, but still feel I need to stick with it and both actually defeat Dynamis Lord once and get the rest of my Relic Armor. I'm not happy with the rules of the Dynamis LS I'm in, but I've got a few friends there, they're fairly good at actually doing the job, and I'd hate to have to restart accumulating points / attendance. Aside from the finishing what I started aspect, if I'm going to be spending 1-2 evenings a week on organized raids, I'd rather be doing Salvage.

Salvage looked to be a really good idea, and I rather enjoy it; due to some folks taking a break from FF-XI, I ended up organizing it for my main LS. Unfortunatly, even with bringing in some folks from other groups that we know, we don't seem to have the critical mass necessary to reliably get a group; and some people seem unhappy with having to think outside the box. (You start out with *amazingly severe* restrictions on your abilities and a hard time limit, and have to carefully defeat various monsters while gimped to gradually regain your normal powers; it requires pretty careful tactical planning, not all jobs are useful at all points in the process, and many jobs have to operate in unusual ways.)

The new "infinite random dungeon" of Nyzul Isle Assaults is also pretty interesting; again, we've had some difficulty getting the right folks together often enough. I'm not happy with S-E's design decision to let only one character per run "lock in" the floors, as it makes it even harder to get a group together as you progress. I'm hoping they'll change this at some point. It's kind of fun getting to fight (adjusted) versions of famous Notorious Monsters that I'd probably never get to face under normal conditions; we've not got any of the "special" drops yet, though.

I've been playing the relatively new Chocobo Hot & Cold game daily with both Miuramir and Totaru, and have recently qualified the first of the new area chocographs (Coastal, for Buburimu) for each of them. So far, the new area is harder, but not more rewarding, so I'm wondering how that will shape up. Miuramir's ForestPrincess (Green F) has Treasure Hunter, Burrow, and Impressive Discernment; Totaru's DreamDancer (Blue F) has Treasure Hunter, Bore, and just recently hit First-Class Discernment. Both of these are probably hitting diminishing returns in terms of further training, but I want to squeeze out anything else I can, since these will probably be my "digger" chocobos for a long time to come. Given the upcoming chocobo racing, I'm loosely planning on raising physical chocobos next, although there's some intriguing indications that chocobo racing isn't actually all about speed.

I've finally picked Corsair back up for Miu; the very early levels are a bit frustrating as you miss a *lot* (you're an odd mix of a low-moderate support character and a weak damage dealer early on), but things are starting to come together after a few solid sessions. Totaru has started working on Red Mage, largely to be an available sub-job for Black Mage, but it's useful in its own right. Miu continues to occasionally accumulate merits on her 75 Ranger, and Totaru is up to 68 Black Mage (Black Cloak for affordable Refresh, finally!) and slowly advancing.

Miu finally hit Sergeant Major (Aht Urgan Mercenary rank 7, with a really annoying set of "recruit training" mini-games to beat in addition to the usual Assaults); of course, they've just added Chief Sergeant (rank 8), so no rest for the weary. Totaru is still stuck at Private First Class (rank 2). Miu and Totaru both need the newly added ToAU mission fights (29+) still; at least Totaru is now caught up with the fights from the previous update.

17th March 2007

2:55am: Random lyrics meme
Inspired by this meme showing up all over my friends list, and by needing something to do while running long distances doing errands in FF-XI, I've done my slightly eccentric take on the random lyrics meme. Updated 3/18 with 6 of 15 guessed. Read more...Collapse )

19th January 2007

5:34pm: James's No-Prep Slow Cooker Chicken and Vegetables
The following Crock-Pot (slow cooker) recipe is not only unusually fast to set up, but particularly easy. I've tried to write it up in enough detail that anyone can follow the directions, even if they are a novice cook or haven't used a slow cooker before. Comments, feedback, and questions encouraged.

James"s No-Prep Slow Cooker Chicken and VegetablesCollapse )

Edit: After running into ashoemaker tonight, I was reminded to post this vegetarian version. I've not done nearly as much testing on this, and to get the depth of flavor without meat involves a few more ingredients.

James"s No-Prep Slow Cooker Winter VegetablesCollapse )

2nd January 2007

6:36pm: December
Early December was fairly routine, with a certain amount of flailing about connected to shopping, wrapping, packing, and worrying about being behind on all of the above. Fairly little e-gaming, and largely spent keeping up a minimum presence on FF-XI and doing the holiday-themed quests. Office and VTSFFC Christmas parties were pleasant, with much good food and minimal drama.

The focus of the month was the trip down to SC, as my brother's family was going to be in country for Christmas, and we all gathered at his wife's parent's place. My nephews are 7 and 2, and I really enjoyed spending a lot of time with them. The weather was unseasonably warm, and we spent plenty of time outside playing catch with oversized flying discs, driving the neighbor's golf cart, etc. Indoors, we built and decorated a gingerbread tree which came out remarkably well. I also helped my brother and his wife shop for and then learn to use a HDD digital camcorder and editing software.

Christmas Eve candlelight service at their church worked out well... I've always appreciated that sort of experience. Several other evenings I was the last one up, and would turn out almost all the lights except for the Christmas tree, put on one of the Mannheim Steamroller CDs, and take a few moments to recharge.

After Christmas, I spent a lot of time on the floor with my older nephew, assembling together the considerable quantity of Star Wars Lego he'd gotten... over several days we got together 3 of the 4 sets he'd gotten, nearly a thousand pieces. I'd pick out the pieces for each step, and he'd put them together, occasionally with some help and much repetition of "hold it like it is in the picture" and "build what's in the yellow boxes first". This was complicated by only being able to build when the 2-year old wasn't around to "help". The current X-Wing is a lovely model and comes with a nice selection of mini-figs, but is a tad fragile for zooming around play... bits kept coming off. The Tie Interceptor is less visually interesting, only comes with the one pilot, but is much sturdier as a toy to play with.

On the receiving end, the main theme on my end ended up being DVDs, filling out several Muppet and classic Disney movies I've been missing, and a copy of Gideon - Tuba Warrior, which for those of us that were serious high school / college marching band geeks (especially low brass) is a hilarious take on the classic story. Hard to go wrong with animated vegetables playing tubas, really :) I'm particularly looking forward to see how the "Most Wanted Edition" of Robin Hood looks and sounds, as it's been a long time since I've seen the anthropomorphic classic from a good copy.

Once I got back into town, I got a nice wake-up call when, on my first day back at work, Friday at 4:50pm on New Year's weekend, I get an email saying one of the machines in "my" range may be involved in a bot-net. Joy and holiday feelings all round :/

Saturday 12/30 was a fun reunion game of our old Crosswinds fantasy campaign, with the Pawtowskis in town for the weekend and several other players dialing in. With 6 players and the GM in my living room and 4 remote players, it was the sort of larger-scale gaming we don't get to do as often these days. I was also presented with my most visually impressive gift of the year, a matched set of three Japanese-style blades in classic shirasaya-style mountings. Despite technically being storage mountings, I've always liked the clean lines of this style, and it gives me an incentive to work on my wrist strength with actual steel.

New Year's Eve was a small but quite enjoyable event over at kittenchan and vond's. Other than the considerable amount of food, including a yummy peanut-marshmallow bar cookie kittenchan made, the star was kathleenroberts's Wii. This was the first chance most of us had to try out the motion-sensing controls, and while some of the sports games were mildly interesting, I was surprised to enjoy Excite Truck.

The first of the year was spent in a haze of insufficient sleep and allergy meds catching up to me, and despite good intentions of earning some comp time I slept a lot and played some FF-XI and some FF-XII.

4th December 2006

5:39pm:
The table has a computer and a complicated looking arrangement of monitors.
> turn on monitors

The monitors seem to be immune to your seductive wiles.
> turn monitors on

You power up the monitors, but they show nothing.
> turn computer on

You press the power button on the computer, and it makes an ominous repetitive clunking sound. The power light blinks rapidly amber, but nothing displays on the monitors.
> remove powercord from computer

You quickly pull the powercord out of the back of the computer. The clunking sound stops as does the blinking power light.
> examine computer

Everything seems to be normal and all the cords are in place, except for the powercord.
> open computer

You open the computer. Inside are a motherboard, a power supply, a hard drive, four video cards, and some other computer parts.
> examine motherboard

You can't see very well, but as far as you can tell it looks like a normal arrangement of chips, memory, cooling equipment, resistors, capacitors, ductwork, and other electronic parts.
> use flashlight on motherboard

Shining your flashlight on the motherboard, you notice that one of the capacitors seems very slightly different from the others.
> take ductwork from motherboard

You add some green plastic ductwork to your inventory.
> examine capacitors

Several capacitors that were under the ductwork are bulging at the top, and a few are leaking a yellowish fluid.
> swear at Dell

I can do that, but I don't think it will be helpful.
> contact Dell technical support

You are in a maze of twisty little passages, all alike...

30th November 2006

5:23pm: Stats info for FF-XII players
I made the following table to answer some questions I had about which character would be best for which roles in FF-XII, and figured others might find it interesting. Some of the results are not what I would have expected.

There's nothing special about Level 34, that's just the most recent level I happened to have everyone all at the same level at the same time. All characters have all 5 +HP Augments (totaling +1000 HP) and all 3 Quickenings for x3 MP, and measurements were taken with nothing equipped and no spell, etc. effects running.

Comparison tableCollapse )

29th November 2006

6:31pm: Work: Quite busy lately, with a high density of conferences and demonstrations people were preparing for, and trying to negotiate time-critical purchases through various layers of bureaucracy.

Family & Travel: I was able to get up to DE twice in the last month, once because my brother was passing through while traveling for his doctoral work, and once for Thanksgiving. I enjoyed the time with family, although not in general the driving.

This most recent trip we got up to Longwood Gardens for an early look at their spectacular Christmas displays. This year's outdoor lighting displays made significant use of the fairly new brilliant cobalt-blue LED lights, which I particularly like, and I experimented with my new camera phone to see what it could do under these sorts of difficult conditions.

I also enjoyed the University of Delaware Library's "From Verne to Vonnegut" special collections exhibit on the evolution of science fiction themes. You can see the commentary, analysis, and small photos of some of the pieces in the digital version of the exhibit at the above web site, but there's something special about being able to examine things like a 1566 copy of Sir Thomas More's Utopia and a 1726 copy of Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels in person.

On the way back I managed to wedge in a quick run through the Green Valley Book Fair, which was reasonably productive. The standout purchase so far seems to be The Atrocity Archives by Charles Stross. I may write a more detailed review later, but I think this will be appreciated by a significant number of the people on my friends list for one reason or another; highly recommended.

FF-XI: Due to travel, travel prep, and work, I've had a lot less e-gaming time lately; and FF-XII has sucked up quite a bit of that. When I've been on FF-XI, I've been spending a lot of time helping other people with things they need, which can be fun but doesn't equate to a lot of progress. Miuramir did pick up another piece of RNG AF2, putting her to 2/5 (head, legs); and thanks to a thoughtful friend and some luck I now have a pair of Barbarossa's Moufles, a recently added and astoundingly useful pair of hands that I will probably be wearing indefinitely. After ENMs Miu also did another four Assaults last night, which was enough to finally get her to a Mercenary Rank of Sergeant.

FF-XII: I'm really enjoying 12 on several levels. While it's not GTA, there's a surprising amount of the world that you can get to fairly early and kick around in if you're up for the monsters or a lot of fleeing in terror :) As far as the main plot goes, I've reached the holy mountain but not triggered the events there, taking advantage of having a "temporary" 4th NPC party member to wander about the world exploring, doing Hunts, side-quests, and optional Avatars. Amusingly enough, the most effective way to generate experience at the moment seems to be obliterating undead with the higher-level Cure spells.

Gadgetry: I did finally pick up the Samsung (Cingular) SYNC SGH-A707 and some accessories. (Same cell phone number, as a note.) I'm generally happy with it, but still experimenting, and will probably need some more accessories for it and my laptop to bring everything together the way I want it.

21st November 2006

7:40pm: More about phones
I've pretty much narrowed things down to the Samsung SYNC SGH-A707 versus the LG CU500. Both are quad-band, world capable, 3.5G phones supporting HSDPA 1.8. The majority of comparison bullet points match, and they'll cost me the same amount with contract renewal.

Geeky details about phonesCollapse )

In short, the SGH-A707 seems to be a better fit for me for most purposes, but the CU500 may be faster in practice in this area. I'm still debating, but I'm leaning toward getting the SGH-A707 tomorrow, and if I find it seems unacceptably slow I can exchange within 30 days.

I'm currently looking at the Plantronic Explorer 320 Bluetooth headset, which of the locally available options seems to be the one best for extended wear, and is reasonably priced. The Tekkeon EzTalker Mini also looks good from online reviews, but I haven't seen that in person.

20th November 2006

2:38pm: Phone & headset recommendations wanted
Hopefully a real post later (short version: work, family, FF-XI, FF-XII), but for now I'm looking for recommendations or warnings on phone-like devices.

I'll be replacing my old cell phone in the *very* near future, possibly in the next day or two. I'm shopping around for both phones and Bluetooth headsets. The phone shopping is a bit easier to go based on features, but it's much harder to judge the usability of the Bluetooth headsets. I'm particularly looking for one that's comfortable to use for long conversations; my cell phone is my primary phone.

On the phone side, I'm currently looking at the Cingular (Samsung) SYNC - a707; if anyone has comments on this or similar models I'd really appreciate it.
More about phone shopping...Collapse )

2nd November 2006

7:00pm: Ahoy! Rising Star West in Bluefield, WV will be hosting their 4th Annual Evil Stevie's Pirate Game this Saturday, November 4. Hark back to the days of plastic ships and plastic men, and test your mettle against all comers in a battle for control of the high floors!



Game Details: Runs approximately Noon - 10pm but players are encouraged to participate even if they only have a few hours; no additional fees ($5 convention membership required); suitable for ages about 6 to adult and all experience levels; Lego and all required game materials provided; thematic attire encouraged but not required; primarily a sail & shoot (minimal campaign elements due to time).

See the Rising Star West web site for other convention details and directions, or contact the GM, James R. Dunson, for specifically piratical questions. Feel free to distribute the above info.

19th October 2006

6:54pm: RL: My evaluations at work are finally done, and work is ongoing on trying to get my role upgraded to reflect the work I've been doing.

Work has been more varied than usual lately. Trying to find external sound cards that handle somewhat unusual sampling requirements under Linux, searching for a good screen capture program for our 3,840 x 3,072, 9-screen display wall, and working on design options for a real-time-reporting remote stream monitoring system that needs to be either concealed from or proof against drunk students are some of the more interesting bits from the last few days.

Invisifest's Evil Stevie's Pirate Game turned out better than expected; despite limitations on available space and time, we ended up with a fairly exciting 4-way naval battle, with sudden turns of fortune (one player crippled all of their immediate opponent's port-facing guns on a lucky broadside, shifting the whole flow of the battle), dramatic captain vs. captain hook combat ending in a simultaneous double kill, and last-minute desperate boarding actions.

Technicon planning is going well (as far as the stuff I'm directly involved with at least); we have a fairly solid list of what goes into each specific room now, which some years hasn't happened until the Thursday before the con :)

I've had a little time to play with Space Empires V, and definitely enjoy it. I need to get the 1.08 patch applied and see how that changes things.

FF-XI: The big news is that Totaru finally got {sky} last night, along with most of his BLM static. The flamingos near the entrance should actually be good for exp right now if we ever get the static back up and running.

Monday was Miu's first Dynamis-Xarcabard, and it didn't go that well. Not enough people total, and especially mages and stunners, to go after DL reliably so we farmed, which turned out to be somewhat of a pain. Three or four RR2 deaths (thanks to gorget) and a R1 death from being re-killed I believe, and I got off lighter than some; and drops were pretty marginal. Only highlight of the night for the group was a RDM hat that dropped off of an accidental aggro / wipe mess, which certainly isn't going to help people staying organized in the future :)

The October update went smoothly, and Miuramir managed to squeeze in ToAU 19 and part of 20 before switching to Totaru for the final sky fight. Checking with some slight spoilers seems to indicate you can get up to 22 before hitting a significant fight; perhaps we can get some people to try that Friday or this weekend. Miu's also still only about half way through Corporal rank, so I need to focus on getting some other Corporal-level Assaults done to move forward to the new ranks.

SilverQueen, Miu's chocobo, developed a personality (easygoing) and weather preference (clear) right after the update; I'm not sure if that's directly connected or not. LunarMagic, Totaru's blue chocobo, improves only slowly, but I got some good shots of her in Altepa with a full blue moon last night. I need to get the gardening mules running at full steam again to keep up the flow of premium feed.

28th September 2006

3:10pm: I'm still around, and trying to get back into the swing of posting more regularly. I'm going through some uncertainty about what I feel is appropriate to post publicly, so I am likely to err on the side of friends-locking things rather than not getting around to posting at all.

I'm also in an environment where most of my writing is in situations or settings where I need quite heavy levels of self filtering. Working for a large university with considerable internal politics, any email might be forwarded to someone who wasn't previously in the loop. Having to carefully consider not only who I am sending to, but who it might get forwarded to, and who *they* might forward it to out of context, every time I hit "Send" is restricting. My hope is to try and post more public, off-the cuff, entries here; and to re-learn to be less guarded about the small things. This does run the risk of my publicly accessible writing being less well constructed and more about superficial things, but I think that the exercise of writing more is worth it.

Cool thing: "Morning Spark". This product of the future is part of how I'm typing to you now, and can be summarized in three quick concepts: Caffeinated. Tang. In a Tube.
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Other than FF-XI (which I intend to post on separately), the two recent shiny things that have been attracting my attention lately are Lego Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy, and the 100-turn playable demo of Space Empires V. Slightly older is Civilization IV: Warlords.

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Civ4: Warlords...Collapse )

If anyone has specific questions or is interested in further details about the above games, I'm happy to rant onward, but I should wrap this up and actually post it.
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