To CM9 a0.5 or not to CM9 a0.5 – that is the question…

Of course, I have been anxiously watching the development of custom roms for the HP Touchpad… I am really happy to see not one, but TWO releases (Alpha 0 and Alpha 0.5) of CM9 for the Touchpad so far!  Great work from the Cyanogenmod team!

So far, I have been too gun shy to pull the trigger up fumble through the Acme2 process… With the outstanding issues list still holding the video hardware playback problems for Alpha 0.5, I think I may still hold off for a bit…

What about you? Any casual browsers of the site rocking CM9 on their HP Touchpad?  Worth it?

Perhaps I will have a hands-on for you this week… perhaps…

Links:

http://rootzwiki.com/topic/15509-releasealpha05-cyanogenmod-9-touchpad/

http://liliputing.com/2012/01/cyanogenmod-9-alpha-0-5-bug-fix-for-the-hp-touchpad.html

 

Edit: hands on review soon 😉

 

Wow. I never use this thing. [Inception]

So, I came to post a quick quip about how much I liked Inception today and realized how little I use my blog anymore.  Not that I have ever been a competitive blogger or anything of the sort, but it would seem that I have withered and dried up – at least so far as these posts are concerned (and likely reflect).

None the less, that is not the case (me withering and drying) as I have just been really, really (really) busy reading and trying to get myself up to speed as a professional programmer… Something that I am enjoying emensely (even though it sometimes feels as if I will never ever (ever) know enough to take a breath again – GOOD THING IT’S SUPA FUN!).

Speaking of something I have recently enjoyed (and my reason for sitting down 15 mins ago to begin writing this) – watching Inception (I’ll wait while you see what it is if you don’t know)… Oddly, there is more related between the first part of this post (developing as a developer) and the fun provided by Inception – conceptually at least… I have to say, I was genuinely entertained at the layering and constant thought provoking representations of recursion and Big-O concepts… I won’t go into it much more than that, but if you find this stuff interesting, you will likely enjoy aspects of the movie that may perhaps will be overlooked by “other watchers” of Inception.  Funny thing is, I get back home, head over to browse hacker news and quickly come to the realization that I was not alone in my CS-centric thoughts about the film – http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1526104

Aside from the mentally stimulating representation of CS-Theory-related concepts, there is PLENTY of eye-candy by way of perty explosions and mind-bending (and physically defying) scenery to keep you entertained – even if the exotic applications of recursion aren’t your cup of tea.

I’d give Inception an ‘A’.

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull : Sneak Peak

I will try to discuss this without revealing too much about the story, so I will refrain from specifics and will speak generically where I feel a spoiler risk is possible.

So, I was lucky enough to snag a couple sneak preview tickets for the Wednesday night showing of the new Indiana Jones movie (Yea, I watched it on the 20th – be envious).  Having not seen Indiana in about a dozen years or so, I didn’t quite know what to expect – I knew what I wanted to expect, but these days you can’t ever really tell if it is a genuine attempt at carrying on the legacy or a cheap stab at some new cash from the nostalgia of those present for the last installment of the Indiana story.  To make a long story short, I was not disappointed – if anything, I was extremely happy to see some old friends – aka Indiana Jones 🙂

First, the Nazi theme is continued on in Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.  This at first struck me as feeling a bit distant and hard to relate to since so much time has passed since the movies of the 80s where the Nazis were regularly featured bad guys.  Admittedly, this ‘distant’ feeling quickly passed as the Nazis assumed their classic role of villain.  Note: I use ‘classic’ instead of “typical” because there is a overall feeling of ‘classic’ throughout this movie – even when it is something that has been done to death, it is pulled off in this Indiana installment without leaving the bitter taste of “played-out” in your mouth.

I did get a deja-vu feeling on part of the storyline in regards to the Nazis.  Although it was small, and I do not want to spoil too much, we will just say that those crazy Nazis are still hunting the supernatural power that will give them the upper hand against the rest of the world.  Unlike Hellboy, the supernatural ‘source’ was not hell spawn, but instead was a bit more ‘other worldly’…  This was an element that did seem a bit out of place from the classic Indy story, but I guess in reality it is no more of a stretch than was the case with the Last Crusade.  Spielberg and Lucas have a way of taking something conceptually hoaxy and showing (creating) the historic relevance – in essence, making the far fetched seem not so far fetched.

A fun side to the movie was the fact that I could not help but feel the same emotions and feelings about the storyline and its characters as I did with the original Indiana movies.  The story, in CLASSIC form, is a non-stop action-heavy “guns a blazin’” chase.  Again, “classic” pretty well describes the feeling of this movie.  From one sketchy situation to the next, Indiana and his crew are dodging everyone from Nazis to Aztecs – bullets (and poisonous spears) whizzing past the entire time.  This is something that I feel is often times not executed very well in most modern movies, but was carried off very well in Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.  Again, this was nice: feeling the sentiments I now associate with nostalgia – without viewing something from the past.  There was a warm feeling of comfort – something new and interesting that also encompasses characteristics that make you feel as if you already know it.

In typical Indiana form, riddles, puzzles, treasure hunts and myth are pieced together with historic fact to create a story that is creatively novel while being comfortable simultaneously.  Also throughout the film, there are “winks and nods” to the previous Jones movies for anyone with an observative eye.  All in all, I would rate this a 9 out of 10.  Harrison Ford did an excellent job once again as Indiana Jones – the talk of his age are unmerited (lets see you beotches do your own stunts… cause he did).  Admittedly, Sean Connery was slightly missed, but at least they threw a picture in there.  I felt Shia LaBeof did a great job walking along side the Giant that is Harrison Ford and also was set up in a prime position to carry out the Jones legacy (I will not elaborate on that any further).  Mrs. Karen Allen also did her character justice, as well as added much to the classic air of this newest Indiana installment by providing a spark from the past.  Also, Mrs. Cate Blanchett was a awesome nazi – although not a flattering character, there is something sexy about a woman who can handle a sword – albeit a Nazi woman with a sword.

So, again, in re-recap:  Go see it.  Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is a nice throwback to simpler times.  The puzzles and plot do not tease you too much or make you think too hard – basically, it is just fun to watch the story unfold and play out.  You will get a new story with a few new players – all wrapped in the warmth of childhood and familiarity – unless you were born after 1989, in which case “you pesky kids just don’t understand and likely never will!”

Upgrading: Ubuntu 8.04 (Hardy Heron) Alpha 1

So, as soon as I read of the Ubuntu 8.04 release I decided that would be a weekend activity. As always in these cases, I read the provided tid-bits, crossed my fingers and clicked through the “oks”… Well, things did not go exactly as smoothly as I had hoped, but fortunately with just a little bit of additional work I think that I have gotten things back on track. I don’t know exactly what, but something went wrong. After walking away at the beginning of the update, I returned to my computer to see strange things. Most obvious strange thing was that the update manager was no longer running and there were no related windows about the update on screen – not the typical friendly Ubuntu update. Obviously I knew something was amiss, so I tried to run update manager again. Worst yet, this time after the update failed it returned to bash. hmmm…

‘gdm’…
login window… attempt to log in…
cream colored screen and nothing more… no hard drive activity… no nothing.
and so entered the sinking feeling 🙂

So I try to check out aptitude and get a message about dpkg problems and notified that I need to configure my dpkg packages…. Back to bash, head over to logs and check out dpkg.log and am still clueless. All I can see is the initial upgrade crapped out on configuring “ca-certificates”… so back to shell and run ‘sudo dpkg –configure -a’, which configures all unpacked and unconfigured packages, and wait… and wait…. and wait some more… Apparently in my case my dpkg data was destroyed in the upgrade because it configured what I can only assume what was the majority of the packages installed on my machine. Once that was done, I was able to boot back into my Gnome desktop. I opened up the update manager for round two, but it now appears that I am hanging out in Hardy Heron.

Although the upgrade wasn’t as smooth as one would hope in an ideal world, it damn sure wasn’t the worst one would imagine in the less than ideal, so I will take it. Glad to be up and running with what thus far appears to be at least as good as before… now to go play in Hardy!
Side note: Logged in for this post and had some error about wp_comments being corrupted in my wordpress database… just my lucky day for corrupted databased… luckily for me it was fixed with a quick Google search and “REPAIR TABLE wp_comments”!

The Orange Box : Portal

There has been a lot of talk about the newest Valve release; The Orange Box. On the disk is Half Life 2, HL2 Episode 1, HL2 Episode 2, Team Fortress and Portal. Released as the new game in the “Orange Box”, Portalis seemingly a new genera that is a hybrid 1st person-action-puzzle game. The single player 1st person 3d puzzle action game is set at an experimental facility where you are the lab rat for a series of 3d puzzles. These puzzles range in difficulty from setting weighted cubes on triggers to avoiding being shot by maniac (although inviting) robotic machine guns.

First I want to say “WOW” – This game kicks ass. In a word: ADDICITIVE AS HELL (ok 3 words). After trying Portal out at about 6pm, I was glued until 2 in the morn. By far, the coolest part of the game is the portal gun, which allows you to blast 2 portals in certain floor and wall materials to traverse the puzzles (go figure that the game is named ‘Portal’). I will give a warning though, I believe that if you are susceptible to motion sickness, this game may very well cause an expedited exodus of the enchiladas. The movements in the game will at times turn you on your head – literally as one portal exits you upside down from the way you entered the previous portal.

I think that likely one of the most interesting (and initially unnerving) aspects of the game is the phantom effect you get when running though portals. Imagine: You are looking across a large room at something on the other side that you need get to, so you blast a hole in the far end’s wall and the wall nearest to you and within 2 steps there you are – on the other side of the room. To further add to the phantom effect, in certain instances the character’s perspective is where you will catch yourself running though the initial portal as you exit the exit portal – I know this is hard to envision, but think: head comes out one hole as legs are going in the first 🙂 I chased my own “tail” for several minutes as I was first figuring out the game. Based on my preconceived notions of my character being male, I kept chasing the mysterious female that was appearing in my portals – it was not until I noticed the symmetry of the chase that I realized that I was actually chasing myself (yes, I do it video games too apparently).

Also, being based on the Half Life’s physics engine lends some interesting play for the environmental interaction – different materials with different properties. Add to the material properties the gravity physics of the game and you have a surprisingly responsive and realistic environment in which to play. When you combine things such as varying material properties, such as mass and density, with the physical forces of gravity what do you get? You guessed it: Inertia! With just one gun and a robust world filled with interesting physics you end up with a very exciting game with a lot of possibility. Imagine: You need more speed than is provided by dropping off a ledge… what if you blast the exit portal in the ceiling directly above the portal in the floor below the ledge? An infinitely endless hole in which to fall to pick up speed – in mid air blast a hole in the adjacent wall and you have a person cannon! Bad Ass! Really.

Another check in the pro column for Portal is the fact that not only is the game challenging and fun but it is also funny as well. There is some form of broadcasted AI talking to you throughout the game that has a very funny sense of humor – something about its rational thought logic module being removed and so its programmed inhibitions about openly discussing your pending death are cast to the wind or something like that (basically it informs you that your hard work in testing is appreciated and you will be missed when the testing is done… how nice 🙂 ). Also worth note in regards to the entertainment factor is the ending song after defeating the “boss”; “Still Alive” is freegin’ funny (not to mention catchy). I hope the provided video w/ song translates here without having played the game.

So yea… I beat the game (ending song)… with brings me to ‘THE con’: Length. I have completed the game, in about 6-7 hrs time and feel that it will likely take 2/3rds that next go (if). There are 19 levels in all, though the last “boss” level is about “4 levels” in length. They don’t shaft you completely though as you do get some extra game variants and tasks for gaining “accomplishments” after completion on “normal”.Although I do wish that there were 190 instead of 19 level, I guess that my wanting more is an indicator that the game is quality (at least to gamers who like what I like). I have to say, I love this game and would have gladly paid $60 for just it… really, this is one of the coolest games I have played in a long time and this is coming from a huge Halo 3 fan w/ Halo 3 (although that game is bad ass as well, but thats a different post (which has not been made due to its redundancy… its like writing a article on “how bad ass it is to be bas ass”…. redundant)).

All in all, Portal is great – I am happy with my purchase of the Orange Box… I got the entertainment of playing one of the most innovative games created in along time and I got 40 other games with it – for the price of 1! If you are debating this one I can definitely recommend The Orange Box (for what thats worth).

The Limitless Potential – NIN Remix Album from Open Sourced Tracks

Awhile back Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails released tracks from the album Year Zero for remixing by fans. The source files were released free of charge in Logic/Garage Band formats for editing by those with those programs (or programs capable of interpreting/converting their file formats). After the release of the tracks by Trent, 9inchnails.com, a community based NIN fan site, announced a “remix competition” based on the released tracks. After several months of entries and votes, a compilation double CD set has now been released – FOR FREE!!!

Although the main 9inchnails.com site has been forced to restrict direct downloading of the album due to excessive bandwidth consumption, the album can still be nabbed at several torrent sites, some of which are listed below. (Of course you will need a bit torrent client to download (technically, to use) the bit torrent files – my current flavor is Azureus (though I am not claiming superiority on the client, I can simply vouch for its relative safety. There are several other great clients out there, but there are also a lot of BAD ones as well – consider yourself warned.))

Credit where credit is due: I initially found out about this via lurking in the UbuntuForums (forum to my (current) favorite free OS)

 

I will be interested to see where this graph goes over the coming weeks.

EDIT: omnivector @ digg pointed towards NINRemixes.com for more remixes of the tracks…