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Monthly Archives: July 2005

Brice MellenThink you’re good at video games? Maybe it’s time you went up against Brice Mellen of Lincoln, Nebraska. What makes Brice so special? He’s blind.

Blind since birth due to Leber’s disease, Mellen sharpened his skills for many years through patience, memorizing key joystick operations, and listening to audio cues. Beginning with “Space Invaders” and “Asteroid,” he now plays modern combat games. Learning to play video games without sight was anything but easy. “He enjoyed trying to play, but he wasn’t very good at first,” says his father. “But he just kept on trying… He’s broken a lot of controllers.”

Brice spends his time hanging out at the Dog Tags Gaming Center in Lincoln. Apparently, people will come in and challenge him, expecting an easy win, just to get their heads handed to them in Soul Caliber 2. With only a year left of high school to go, Brice plans on attending college. What might he be studying? Video game design, of course!

Next time you’re stuck on a hard level of Halo 2, imagine doing it blind! You can read the full stories at CNN and TheOmahaChannel.

Thanks to J-Love for sending me the original article. If anyone is interested in challenging Brice, it’s pretty close to my place in Omaha. Road trip?

Storm Close-UpI just choose not too.

Continuing the ongoing saga of my page header, I have now added back paw prints to the puppy walking across the screen. Thanks for all the great comments and feedback. Let me know if you have any other ideas.

Also, on an interesting note, the picture in the header is from my expeditions in El Salvador. I took it at the basin of a volcano where my Nica group spent the afternoon. During our meal, it began to get a tad rainy. When we were finished, however, rays of light began to break through the clouds and illuminate the lake. It was absolutely breathtaking.

Finally, I put up a new cool somewhat daily video called Ddautta. If certain Japanese fluent friends could translate it for me, I would be very appreciative. Peace.

Microsoft DancersYesterday, Microsoft Corporation launched a new program designed to prevent people from updating pirated versions of software. According to InformationWeek, Microsoft estimates that about 12 million machines in the United States and 13 million in China run illegal copies of Windows XP. In order to crack down on this problem, they have created a program called Genuine Advantage that supposedly sniffs out pirated software on someone’s PC. They require that this program be run before installing any updates, including those to Windows Media Player, DirectX, and Internet Explorer. Microsoft has been working on this solution for 11 months.

How long did it take to crack? Less than 24 hours.

On BoingBoing today, a one-line JavaScript hack was posted. All you need to do is cut and paste it into the address bar of the browser and everything works. As an AJAX web designer, I spend the majority of my days programming in PHP and JavaScript. I can tell you that we double check any security requests on both the client’s computer and on our server. The fact that a JavaScript hack works shows how pitiful Microsoft’s attempts at security really are.

It should not come as a surprise that Microsoft is poor at security. It has been plaguing them for years and has been a major concern since 2003 when major bugs appeared in Windows XP. Even last summer, the US Department of Homeland Security came out with security concerns about Internet Explorer and recommended that users switch to alternative browsers.

Oh, Microsoft….

Note: As I write this blog, I am watching NASA TV and they are having issues getting Microsoft Outlook to work on ISS. What do they recommend doing? Reboot!

Microsoft is at it again. Trying to keep up with Google, they just launched their own map website, Visual Earth, to compete with Google Maps. It is interesting to see how Google defines the direction the web will be going and it will be neat to see how the competition between the two creates new features.

Upon inspection of the two websites, I find that Google’s is still easier and cleaner to use. On my computer, the maps are rendered more quickly and the click-and-drag scrolling is much smoother. Microsoft’s maps do allow zooming using the scroll button which is cool but, while I would like to use this feature, it is too slow and choppy to be comfortable.

The final reason I still like Google’s maps better are their up to date high-resolution satellite images. Microsoft’s are still black and white and most are still from the early 1990’s. One rumor going around was that Microsoft had erased Apple’s HQ off of their map. In reality, the pictures were so old, Apple’s primary campus had not been built yet. Here are the maps to compare: Google, MSN.

Google's map of Apple's HQ
Google’s website looking at Apple’s Headquarters

MSN's map of Apple's HQ
Microsoft’s website looking at where Apple’s Headquarters should be

I’d be curious to know what other people think of the two.

Update (July 25th, 2005, 11:15am): Woohoo! Discovery has successfully launched and is currently on route to the International Space Station. Yay NASA!

Discovery RollingCurrently, Cincinnati is sweltering at 95 degrees with a heat index of 107. Even my pup, Storm, doesn’t like to go outside. It’s going to be about the same, tomorrow, for the astronauts blasting off in Discovery.

After a faulty sensor in the fuel tank was examined, they have decided to launch regardless of fixing it. The launch time is set for tomorrow, July 26th, at 10:39am, Eastern Standard Time. All updates and the launch clock can be found at NASA’s Return to Flight website.

Discovery CrewOriginally, the major networks (including ABC, NBC, and CBS) were all going to break from their regular schedules to show the flight. Since the delay, I have not seen any articles stating they will do the same on Tuesday. If they don’t show it, you can watch it on NASA TV, which airs both over the internet and through some cable companies.

When I first started this site, I did not plan on putting political news coverage on here. There are many more sites that do a better job. I was surprised this weekend, however, that very few of my friends and family knew what was going on with the Karl Rove scandal. Truthfully, this is a very important event because it has severely damaged the reputation of the Bush administration. This has led to a very important phenomenon occurring: reporters are asking hard questions again. This has not occurred since 9/11. I do not, however, expect anyone to start reading the New York Times. Instead, I urge you to please go to the following if you do not know about Rovegate. I promise you they are both entertaining and informative.

Jon Stewart1) The Daily Show did a wonderful episode that covers the Rove controversy. (wmv, flash) It is very entertaining, but it also describes the situation very well. Please do not write it off because it is on Comedy Central. During the 2004 elections, a vote taken at the Columbia Journal Review ranked Jon Stewart as the fourth best reporter covering the campaigns.

Helen Thomas2) NPR had an interview last week with Helen Thomas, commonly referred to as the First Lady of the Press. During the interview, she puts into perspective why the Rove scandal has become so important to reporters. Helen has been covering the white house for 62 years and early during Bush’s office, they stopped letting her ask him questions when she asked him a hard one and he could not answer it.

Please, feel free to leave comments.

Update: Hey ho! Found the original episode the Daily Show did of Rove and updated the link above. Here’s the previous episode posted that deals with follow-ups.

I spent some time cheezing out the site a little more. At Scot Buzza’s request, I re-did the header so now it had both people footprints and puppy pawprints. Also, I created an archive page for all the clips that I link to. If you have any recommendations, let me know.

Water balloon at zero gravSome very cool eye candy has surfaced lately from those who brought us Apollo 11 and Voyager. NASA recently ran some tests aboard their Glenn DC-9 aircraft to see what would happen if you popped a water balloon in zero-gravity. The videos are really cool and the researchers get soaked as the plane goes from zero-g back to regular-g.

Tempel StruckAlso, by request, here is the movie of deep impact slamming into comet Tempel I. Talk about a bird’s eye view!

Discovery at PadFinally, NASA has set a new launch time for Discovery this Tuesday at 10:39am E.D.T. The countdown has already started. You can see it and all the details at NASA’s website.

I’m sorry that I haven’t put up anything for a while. After getting back from that wedding, my business mates expected me to ‘work.’ I know, I know, crazy. Anyway, here’s a buncha stuff to keep you entertained for a bit:

google mapsGoogle Maps, Google Maps, Google Maps: Google Maps has been the most hacked site for the last year. People have done incredible things with it including mapping crime and real estate. One guy even used it to get out of a traffic ticket. One of the coolest new hacks is done by a guy who used all the high resolution satellite pictures to map out Area 51. Even if you’re a skeptic like me, it’s worth checking out.

The second cool addition has been done by Google’s own mappers. Yesterday, July 20th, represented the anniversary of the first manned Moon landing in 1969. In celebration, Google created a Moon version of its mapping program with all the Apollo sites located. Be careful zooming in all the way. You never know what you’re going to find!

All Your BaseBored? Go here: Who remembers the dancing baby on Ally McBeal? Who’s spent hours secretly judging people on Well, these are few of the top 10 web fads listed by HampsterDance, the Star Wars Kid, and All Your Base made the list as well. Warning: Copious amounts of time will probably be spent at these sites!

amazonTired of Zoloft?: I have to include this even though it is a little off color. It’s just hilarious. Two days ago I received an e-mail from my friend Scot with a link attached and asking if it was real. The link pointed to a real book on “How to Good-Bye Depression: If You Constrict Anus 100 Times Everyday. Malarkey? or Effective Way?” Written (poorly) by Hiroyuki Nishigaki, it describes a series of anal exercises to relieve a person of depression. Just as crazy, only two are left in stock! Even if purchasing the book doesn’t intrigue you, the reviews are worth a read!

I would like to begin this post by sending out a warm congratulation to Lindsay and Marc Searcy. Our friends, recently married on July 16th, 2005, are now enjoying the fabulousness of Puerto Rico on their honeymoon. Congratulations, you two, and I pray you have a long and wonderful life together.

The wedding took place in Owensboro, Kentucky. Owensboro is an awesome little town situated in northwestern Kentucky with great food and great cows. If you are curious about it, you can find out more at their website and then possibly buy something at their gift shop. Getting there is a piece of cake from Cincinnati. Or so Alex and I thought (and we were right).

Alex and I did not take the route that was a piece of cake. Instead, we listened to our girlfriends who told us Mapquest and Google were wrong and they gave us a route to take. Now, we should have known better. This coming from the gals who, while celebrating Lindsay’s last days of bachlorettehood, got lost more than a few times on the back roads of the state where education pays. (We don’t know what it pays, but that’s what all the license plates say.)

Instead of explaining to you why it took us more than a hundred extra miles and two hours late getting there, here is a map (courtesy of Google Maps). Instead of following the recommended blue line from the green mark to the red mark, we took the red route given to us by our significant others and their cohorts.

Our long, sad route

Needless to say, it took us a little too far south and even a little too far west.

Once we got there, however, the wedding was awesome. The best part (besides two people eternally bonding themselves together) was getting to see everyone from Xavier. Even Rachel Longest, just back from Micronesia, and Todd Guidry, in from New Orleans, whom I haven’t seen for two years, both made it.

And I now love Kentucky receptions. Everything was just simple and good. There was a nice hors d’oeuvres buffet with great little eat’ns. The DJ wasn’t fancy, but played really good music and kept everyone going the whole time. And instead of some fancy expensive bar, they had a handful of pump kegs and box wine in a side room. Plus, the families were great and needed nothing more than to know you were Lindsay or Marc’s friend to strike up a conversation. As a guy who doesn’t understand most weddings, I digged the whole affair.

Good friends, good food, good weekend. Congratulations, again, Lindsay and Marc.