Sunday, December 28, 2008

Currently listening to... "Revelation" by Journey

I got an iPod Shuffle for Christmas and Journey's latest album "Revelation", with a new singer. It includes 2 CDs, the second contains a number of classic Journey songs re-recorded with the new singer. If you like Journey, I suggest you get this. There are some really good new songs and some not so good new songs. The new singer (Arnel Pineda) sounds a lot like Steve Perry but his vocals stand up on their own. I just learnt on Wikipedia that Jeff Scott Soto sang with Journey for a while; he's an awesome singer so I'll see if they released an album with him.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Configuring Ubuntu for runlevel 3

I found these instructions for configuring Ubuntu to start in runlevel 3.

Ubuntu runlevel 3

Sunday, December 21, 2008

We took Emma to see The Tale of Despereaux the other night. She's just over 2.5 years old and I think this was the first movie I've seen at the theatre since she was born. This was also our first movie out as a family! So I was quite excited, actually very excited. I was nervous how she would fare; I didn't think she'd sit still through the whole movie.

She did very well though. She wasn't quite heavy enough to keep the seat from flipping up - it was the kind that automatically fold up when you stand up. So I sat with my knee resting on the corner to keep it down as best as I could.

I think the film was 2 hours long but she didn't start getting utchity until after about 90 minutes. Mrs. S took her to the bathroom and after that she sat through the rest of the film. She really quite enjoyed the experience though she did think it was too loud. I would agree!

Despite wall placques announcing the theatre's dedication to perfection; this quote is from their site:

Continuing on our long-standing tradition of offering "World Class" movie-going experiences

When the film started, the top three feet of the picture were visible at the bottom of the screen. I informed an employee and eventually they re-aligned the picture. Part way through the film, it suddenly went off and the lights came on. Again I talked to an employee and was told it was being investigated. Not exactly a great experience for my first movie in a long time! Still I can't wait for the next family trip, though the cost of CAN$50 is a killer including snacks!! Ouch!

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Winter - be gentle

Last winter was quite rough due to all the snow we had, but did we really have this much??

Ottawa snow fall Oct 07 to March 08

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Playstation Home Beta

Apologies for the poor English.

I got an invite to the Home beta yesterday so I thought I'd give it a go. Downloaded 77Mb and installed it, so far so good. Started the s/w, created my avatar and found myself in a swanky apartment, empty except for some chairs and tables. Followed the brief tutorial - as best as I could when you can't easily read the text. Sit on the chair, the tutorial said. Nay said I - I want to move it! Selected "move" from the menu and, nothing. Press a few buttons. Press a few more. Press all the damn buttons on the controller including that funny round one in the middle and... nada! Ok time to hit the big power button. Oops. But i could still see a light flashing on the side of the PS3 - the hard disk?? Not sure.

Anyway, restart, get back into the apartment. Head for the door and try to exit to the plaza. "You need to download 35Mb". Huh?? Oh well, ok. Download, still downloading, still downloading. Ok! Downloaded! Try to exit to the plaza, 10s later, wahey! Why is it full of near-transparent people? Ah, I guess it's downloading their avatars. Ok, wander around. Ah - the movie theatre, let's take a look. "You must download 27Mb". Oh. Bugger. Ok. Download... etc. 10s load time, and...

Into the movie theatre, sit down, video starts. Oh it's some kind of developer chat on SOCOM. I can't hear it for all the crap that other people are saying into their mikes. Ok, back to the plaza. 10s load time.

Ok, we're here! Hey a bowling alley! Ok, let's go. "You must download 35Mb". Aw crap. Ok, downloading.... downloaded. 10s loading time. Ok, let's take a look. Walk over to a lane, press "X", no options. How the heck do I play? DOn't know. Walk to pool table. Hit "X", nothing. How do I play? How do I talk in this thing? Hit triangle button, oh yeah, have to type using their fake qwerty onscreen keyboard. Yeuch. Ok - type "how do I play pool?". No reply. Oh well. Let's wander to the arcade machine room. Oh - they're all being used. Ok back to the plaza.

10s load time. In the plaza, what's that little raised platform? Climb a few stairs, investigate. No idea, boring. I'll step off the 6" platform. Nothing. Huh? He can't jump down a tiny platform? Sheesh. Ok, back to the steps. Investigate - found a couple of video screens in the plaza, stand near, watch and listen to the videos, they're all promos for far cry 2. Oh. Not interested. Wander around a bit - hey I found a little area playing music. Do stupid dances for a couple of minutes, watch others doing stupid dances. Boring. Wander around a bit. Is that it? Well this sucks. Oh wait, there's the mall.

Walk towards mall entrance. "You must download 35Mb". Wow what a surprise. Ok, got it. 10s loading time. Yawn. Inside the mall. Well this is, um, interesting. Ok, there's a store entrance. Wander to the door, a window pops up, "there are no items in this store". Ok. Next store. "There are no items in this store". Ooook. Oh look stairs. Climb the stairs - yay, more stores. "There are no.." ok, I get it.

Click start, return to apartment. Playstation button. Quit Home. Turn off System. What a let down. I'm going to bed.

Really, Home is like, like, a tiny, poor man's Second Life, where you can't do anything. I don't get it. They expect me to fill my hard disk with locations where I can talk to people, watch videos, listen to crappy music, watch other bowl and basically run around and do nothing? Fat chance. Where's the delete button?? Can I reclaim that 3Gb of disk space Home had to reserve? Please?

... tumbleweed ...

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Winter '07

Mar 09 08 (16), originally uploaded by crivens.

We took this picture from our front lawn last winter. It must have been windy as the snow is very smooth! I hope we don't get as much snow this winter - it was tough last year!

Monday, October 06, 2008

I uploaded some of music to a new site:

I tried but their server seems to be awfully slow.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Blue screen of death!!!

My PC crashed a few nights ago with a blue screen of death while I was listening to a CD. As a result, the DVD-Rom's driver is corrupt and it doesn't work anymore. So I need to find a WinXP driver for a Pioneer DVR-108 drive. I checked Pioneer's site but I couldn't see any downloadable drivers. "Aha!" I thought - I'll just get the driver from the WinXP install CD. Doh! *sigh*

Thursday, October 02, 2008


Oct 01 08 (2), originally uploaded by crivens.

Emma is so cute I couldn't resist posting a recent picture!

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Please, don't make me use Vista again!!

I bought my wife a Lenovo T500 laptop that came pre-loaded with Vista.

Oh my. Pass me my razor, load my pistol and noose my rope. Good lord - I think Microsoft finally managed to make the worst OS in the history of makind. After using it for one hour I was wishing I had dug into the line of credit and bought her a Macbook Pro instead. I simply cannot describe how awful I think Vista is. How could anyone at Microsoft think Vista was a good idea? It left me scratching my head so many times, trying to work out how to use it. Took me 10 minutes to change the workgroup. Took me 5 minutes to install a printer. I still haven't found the IE bookmark menu, though that might be because Lenovo have installed the Google toolbar. And if I had $100 for everytime the laptop had to be rebooted because a setting changed, or a piece of s/w was installed (even when I wasn't installing anything!) I'd be rich enough to buy my new house with cash. I lost count of the number of times I had to reboot. "You moved the mouse, do you want to reboot now or later?". "You looked at the screen, do you want to reboot now or later?". "I see you want to make a cup of tea. Should I reboot while you're making it? I'd offer to make it for you but, well, I'm not a Mac am I??".

Sheesh. Please, don't make me use Vista again!!!!! No please, I beg you!

And that doesn't even begin to describe how ugly I think Vista's user interface is.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Cloud computing and browsers - random rants

Call me crazy but there has to be a point at which we say "STOP!". I don't want another company hosting my personal data. I use GMail because the interface is, well ugly. Ok, I use it because it doesn't throws ads in my face and it's quick and dirty. But I don't like the concept of always being on. I only recently hooked my PS3 to the internet; though the expectation is there nowadays that we're all connected 24/7. I don't want to be!

I have a crappy, simple cell phone. I rarely turn it on and I only use it for emergencies. I don't want to browse or send mail with my cellphone. I don't want to live in a browser - browsers are annoying, they take up a lot of memory, they're often unstable, the root of many insecurities and they run like crap when you visit content heavy sites.

Oh yes, I hate content heavy sites. That was something that was bugging me recently. Visiting content heavy sites is like running Vista on a 8086. Why??

What else? Ah yes - wtf is a cloud anyway? I must be losing my geekiness or else I'm tired of marketing speak, but cloud? A cloud is moisture, no? It disappears, it vanishes, it's not solid, you can't walk on it, land on it or rely on it. So why call it cloud computing? Cloud cuckoo land methinks. Isn't cloud computing and the web 3.0 (sorry did I blink and miss 2.0?) just another fancy name for thin clients? What's old is new and what's new is the same old thing with a new fancy name to make investors think it's s**t hot and worth billions?

Friday, September 05, 2008

Hair rock rocks! Absolutely!

I miss the 80s. No I really do - ok, so I miss the 80s music. Hair rock, stodge rock, call it what you will. But it rocks! So visit the following, but skip the video to 7 minutes in and watch the interview after the concert footage. Hilarious and awesome - what more do you want!? Hair rock rocks!

Sunday, August 03, 2008

The "feral" child

This is truly the most disgusting story I have ever heard.

The "feral child"

"She was 8, but functioned as a 2-year-old."

Good god that's just unbearable. Please someone lock her "mother" in a room for the rest of her life full of dirty diapers, roaches and feces with no human contact.

"So prosecutors offered a deal: If she waived her parental rights, they wouldn't send her to jail.

She took the plea. She was given two years of house arrest, plus probation. And 100 hours of community service."

There is no justice.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Trac, oh Trac!

We've been investigating bug trackers and project management tools at work recently and it looks like we're going to settle on Trac. It's open source, is fairly minimalistic but should give us a starting point to develop some tools and plugins. I'm not sure it's the best option, as we'll lose a lot of useful functionality such as code coverage, requirement tracking et al, but it looks impressive as a starting point. More to follow!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

"Home made books"

Someone pointed me to two sites for creating your own books/calendars etc.

Very interesting!

Emma - demon rider!

Apr 13 08 (2), originally uploaded by crivens.

My little demon rider! This is a few months old from April, but before too long, Emma will have a driver's license!

A few more thoughts on Ubuntu Linux.

I installed four email clients:

Evolution - slow and feels bloated
Thunderbird - I normally use this under Windows, so I should probably find a way to use the same profile on both platforms
Sylpheed - seems quick and has the basics down
Balsa - again seems quick and has the basics down except it relies on external address books. The FAQ specifically mentions Gnome Card, which doesn't seem to exist anymore

I also have three browsers installed:

Firefox 3 - the newest kid on the block
Epiphany - the "standard" Gnome browser, nice and quick except that you can't drop the address bar down. So you have to use bookmarks or type a lot
Galeon - the original Gnome browser? Anyway, it feels slower than Epiphany by quite a bit and you can drop the address bar down to pick a site you recently visited

I really shouldn't install so many apps! I should save my time and energy and just stick with Firefox and Thunderbird. Though on Windows I prefer Opera as it has an optional home page with a grid of nine fast access bookmarks. What the heck do they call it again? Oh yes, Speed Dial. Nice feature!
Someone sent me this in an email today:

"So, someone found an error on a recently published Web page here. It read, "you'll receive notice within 30 gays". Can you find the error? lol"

Oh I chuckled heartily over this one. I almost spat out my cheese, ham & mustard sandwich!

Monday, July 28, 2008

I have Ubuntu running nicely on my PC and the new screen and it looks good! My PC isn't great under Linux, as it seems to drag its heels at times. Though it's not a new PC, it's not that old!

I must say the combination of the wide screen, Drivel (for posting to my blog), Epiphany (browser) and other Gnome/Linux apps is actually quite nice. Audio under Ubuntu (and implicitly other Linux distrubutions) is rather embarrassing given how long Linux and Gnome have been around. I use Native Instrument's Guitar Rig 2, with a USB device for audio and MIDI input & output. It works just fine.. well almost. I can only use one audio app at a time. For example, if I'm listening to music I can't get any audio notifications from Gnome. Not a big deal, but this isn't 1980 any more people!

I think there's another (not another one!) new audio system called PulseAudio but I have no idea if GR2 works with it.
My old monitor died last week so I bought a Samsung Syncmaster 2232BW 22" LCD today. Upgrading from my old 17" CRT to this is just beautiful! I'm running at some insanely resolution and it's amazing how much desktop real estate I have! I haven't tried running any games yet, mostly I've been fiddling with Ubuntu Linux.
I got a new debit card at the weekend to replace the old one that was damaged and unreliable. The guy that helped me is older, works part-time as he's close to retirement and is about as useful as a chocolate teapot. He forgot to tell me to reset my PIN so I couldn't use my card. Then I had to spend 10 minutes on the phone to customer service answering several security just so he could reset the PIN.

I tried to log into my account tonight to pay some bills and the idiot forgot to setup internet banking on the card. So I'll have to waste time tomorrow night doing just that.

For god's sake man, retire already!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Rugby, what a sport! I love watching old videos on YouTube. I can watch some players, tries and games over and over again.

Check out Fiji, roughly 5 minutes in. I love the sudden change of direction and the change in stride as the Fijian runs into score under the posts!

Fiji rugby clip

Check out the 1993 Sevens World Cup, where England actually won something:
I installed the update for Opera to 9.51 and it's a huge disappointment. Several sites don't render correctly while they used to work on previous versions. It could be an issue with the website but I wouldn't recommend you rush to upgrade to 9.51.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

I don't listen to many different types of music but sometimes something comes along that makes me go "woah!". This is one of those times. I'm not sure what impresses me more; the music, the guitar effects or just the guy's sheer passion for music.

Ronald Jenkees

Monday, March 17, 2008


These are from Gran Turismo 5 Prologue for the PS3.

Monday, March 03, 2008

R.I.P. Jeff Healey

It's a sad day for the music world with the loss of an extremely talented musician, Jeff Healey:

I saw him play in a small hall in Ottawa a few years back and he was incredible. I loved his music and his guitar phrasing and ability were incredible. It's sad that the truly talented people leave us so early.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

I uploaded a short, mellow guitar piece. The timing is off in parts and the solo is quite noisy but I think it's quite relaxing. I quite like the solo, which for me is quite rare.

Download in MP3 format
Download in OGG format
I bought a PS3 with my Christmas money (thanks Santa!) and tonight I am the lucky recipient of a copy of Burnout Paradise. Strangely my wife bought it for me for Valentine's Day. Well I think it's romantic!!!

I've only played it for about 20 minutes but the speed is incredible. The car moves so fast I can barely react to objects and turns as they approach. I must be getting old!

The graphics are fantastic and smooth. Some objects and textures (lamp posts and some tunnels) are flat and low poly, but considering the level of detail I can't complain.

More later..... once Mrs Stodge has finished watching Survivor!

Friday, January 11, 2008

My gran passed away this morning at the ripe old age of 89, fast approaching 90. She's had a good innings but she's been quite ill for some time. Her mind was all there, as was her sense of humour, but her body just gave out. She was an amazing woman, she was liberal for her age and understanding of modern day life and views. She had a great sense of humour and a twinkle in her eye that many probably never saw. We'll miss her.

R.I.P. E.G. Pearson.