Thursday, June 30, 2011

Three Levitating Government Officials

The story of the three levitating Chinese government officials is the funniest I've read in ages.
by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

Conservative Men Insult a Woman

I have a friend that posted her profile on a matchmaker site. She wrote much of the usual sort of thing, and at the end, inserted a single line, "I am a Democrat and prefer that my match be also." She is a moderate Democrat, like the rest of her family, and that was a reasonable request for any man that would court her.

She has received hate mail from conservatives ever since. At least four right-wing creeps wrote emails denigrating her. They expressed their hatred of Democrats and President Obama. They called her stupid and other things as well. Their insults reflected their hostility toward women. No mystery as to why they were still single.

I told her she should not write these men back. They are not worth the effort of communication. They have already proven themselves incapable of learning, because they do not understand the purpose of a matchmaker site. It is to find love, not hate. A person's preferences are just that, preferences. Man or woman, each person has a right to their own preferences when they are seeking a partner. But some conservative men don't think so. They want to order people to believe what they believe. They think that's being strong, which is the primary problem with right-wingers in any nation.
by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Rock 'n Roll Ain't Noise Pollution

Listening to AC/DC's "Rock n Roll Ain't Noise Pollution" tonight brings back a memory of me sitting on brick steps in our backyard, playing it at top volume on a cruddy little black tape player that used to store programs for my computer. I had flunked tenth grade. What a riot! I was past caring. Didn't give a damn anymore. I had friends that felt the same way. It was summer and hot enough to cook an egg on the street. We were nothing but trouble, cruising for a bruising, skating on thin ice, and headed for the precipice. AC/DC spoke to me like no other band. I played their 1980 compilation Back in Black over and over. The music let me tap into something that I needed, a power. The fortune teller had mentioned AC/DC to me many years before. Somehow I remembered the suggestion, and when a tape fell into my greedy little hands like magic, I was receptive.
by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

Lamar Smith: Incompetent Congressman

"On Friday, when NORML requested its members to contact Rep. Smith’s office, the Congressman promptly shut off his DC office phone and later closed down his Facebook page."

Gee, I wish I had a job where I could just shut off my phone like that. What a lazy buffoon this Lamar Smith is.

I don't blame him for closing down his Facebook page, though. That's a good idea on general principles.
by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

Facebook Doesn't Work on Firefox 5?!

I noticed that Facebook does not work properly on Firefox 5, although the pages appear OK in Internet Explorer 8. I have no idea why, though I doubt this problem affects many other people other than myself.

My solution was to deactivate my Facebook account and not be pestered by Facebook's incessant email notifications anymore. I think Facebook is primitive compared to another tool called the telephone. If I want to get in touch with someone, or they with me, there's nothing better than hearing a human voice and speaking in real time.
by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

Monday, June 27, 2011

NameCheap or NameCheat?

I have regretted few things of late more than signing up for a year's worth of hosting with NameCheap. Over one hundred hours were lost chasing problems on my web site, problems that were caused by NameCheap. On three different occasions, I contacted their Help / Chat team to no avail. Each time, the individual I chatted with would respond to my query with a one-liner, "The server is operational," and simply ignore all further questions. In one case, I waited in chat for over an hour to see whether any other information would be forthcoming. Namecheap also ignored a support ticket that I initiated.

Due to the amount of work involved in starting over, I was reluctant to transfer my domain to another host, but I'm glad I did, though it cost me a sleepless all-nighter configuring things. The money I paid NameCheap, I have lost, I have no doubt. I think NameCheap should be renamed NameCheat, because they cheat their customers. If you want a web site that works only 80% of the time and on other occasions reports an error message to your users, then by all means, go with NameCheat.

Aggravation in your life!
Domain Registration with FREE glitches / sluggishness / clueless tech support

Suggested new logo for the NameCheat web site.

The new host, BlueHost, works flawlessly, and the technical support is far superior to the amateur hour over at NameCheap. I spoke with real, live people on the phone who knew what they were talking about. Bluehost is a little bit more expensive, but I would rather pay more for a host that works as advertised rather than lose one hundred additional hours troubleshooting problems caused by NameCheap's incompetence and failure to communicate with customers.
by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

Saturday, June 25, 2011

A Test of Honesty

Let us say that a package arrives in the mail addressed to someone other than yourself. The package was intended for a stranger in another state, but due to a rare shipment error, it arrived at your doorstep. There was no tracking service selected, so the Post Office will never discover the error. Inside the package is a briefcase containing $250,000 in crisp new hundred dollar bills.

Would you alert the intended recipient, the Postal Service, and/or the IRS about your unexpected windfall, or would you keep it safe and secret?

Let me specify the following additional conditions. You are absolutely certain that you are not being set up by an investigator or any third party. There is no possibility that anyone will ever find out about your decision. However, you have to say out loud to the questioner--let us say it is an acquaintance that you hope to have good relations with in the future--your response to this hypothetical scenario.

There are at least four likely reactions:
  1. Return the money.
  2. Say you'd return the money, but only for the sake of appearing honest, knowing that you would keep the money if no one were the wiser.
  3. Say you'd return the money while believing it to be so, although in the actual event, you would not.
  4. Say you'd not return the money and would not.
The least honest response is #2, but I think it would be the most popular. No one likes to concede their dishonesty. Everyone is aware of how it makes them appear. But with $250,000 staring them in the face? A difficult situation to say the least.

Some people might have stipulations. For instance, they might not be willing to take money from a desperately poor person or an orphanage, but they might be willing to take money from a large and amoral corporation like BP or Wal-Mart, reasoning that deeper pockets would be less likely to miss $250,000.

For my part, I'd rather not say what my answer would be. I think I'd be tempted in such a scenario, and my answer would depend upon a great many additional conditions. I'd want to find out more about the intended recipient, for instance, and about the source of the windfall before making a decision.

This question occurred to me while reading The Last Days of Socrates, by Plato, a good read in parts, although the section on the immortality of the soul puts me to sleep. I like the style of Socrates, although I find his disciples too hesitant to offer a rebuttal. Socrates is one of the figures in history I would like to travel back in time to meet, especially if I could understand ancient Greek and communicate with him and him with me. He is another tragic and heroic Christ-like figure, although a cut above, I think. A good man, but a bit of a gadfly too.
by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

Opinions are Obstacles

Sometimes I jump the gun with my opinions. I leap to conclusions. Blog posts about Firefox and Drupal are recent examples. I deleted those posts after reconsidering. I prefer not to have opinions, because opinions get in the way of reasoning. I am reminded of the maxim: Nothing is good. Nothing is bad. Everything just is.

Notable exceptions would be actual cases where people are getting hurt. My general rule would that in any case that involves human suffering, the suffering of animals or the destruction of the environment, one must have an opinion in order to be ethical. But in the case of technology, ethics seldom apply. I like to remain more or less neutral where technology is concerned.

Firefox makes neutrality difficult for me, because it is superior to Internet Explorer as far as I can see, and besides, I hate the way Microsoft insinuates itself into everything on the computer. I wish MS confined themselves to making the operating system, period. That would be well enough. But no, they want to get into everything on the computer and even on other gadgets as well. That's not a good thing.

However, my blog post was inaccurate in claiming that Firefox did away with the "Add Tab" button. Actually, the developers relocated the "Add Tab" button. I simply didn't notice until after I had written the blog post. When I noticed, I deleted the post, even though it had taken me an hour to write. There was no way I saw to salvage the post. It was just plain wrong.

I didn't like my post on Drupal and deleted it because it was too harsh. The fact is, Drupal developers are volunteers, as far as I can tell, and that is a valid excuse for any problems one might encounter with Drupal. Didn't pay for it, so why complain? I'm sure the developers are well aware of the various problems and intend, one sunny day, to resolve everything.

True, I feel like I wasted a lot of time trying to iron out problems with my Drupal installation. True, I do not plan on recommending Drupal to anyone that I consider a friend. But that doesn't mean I want to rain on the Drupal parade. The system works well for some people, or so it would seem. It simply was not a good match for my requirements. I prefer to take that line.
by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

Foreboding about the Economy

As far as technology is concerned, employers seem choosy. They don't seem willing to train or permit the employee to self-train. They are not willing to consider long-distance applicants. They are not willing to accept less than unusual combinations of experience, and in some cases expect instant results beginning on the second day. Are these expectations realistic? They might be, considering how many immigrants have been injected into the job market.

Although many job openings seem to offer high salaries ($70k+), they often require a rare combination of skills that would fit only very few Americans. It makes me think such job openings were written with a specific person from India or China in mind. Applying for such an opening is just a waste of time. There are a great many time-wasting diversions awaiting anyone who looks into the job market.

It seems strange to me that people with advanced degrees, many years of experience and a high degree of skill can remain unemployed or underemployed in menial or otherwise low-level or part-time jobs.

I prefer to be optimistic, like anyone else, and try to look on the bright side of things, but I have a foreboding about the economy. I don't think I'm the only one. I hope that matters improve, but I don't see any reason to think that they will.

One thing I am glad about is that I saved my pennies during the boom years. More than anything else, that's probably the wisest move I made. I did quite well for myself, all things considered, and saved for a rainy day. Those who did equally well during the boom years, but succumbed to the siren song of high living, new cars, expensive houses and credit cards are now suffering the most. They are experiencing a dramatic and therefore painful reversal of fortune.

I have always lived far below my means, resulting in little change, regardless of income. Who needs to spend money, when there are books to be read and things to blog about? I've always been a skeptic about everything from religion to materialism. I'm highly resistant to advertising and marketing. If something is advertised, I become suspicious. Who needs to advertise something worth having? Word of mouth alone is sufficient to market a quality product. That's the way I evaluate things.
by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments


In college, I learned about the brouhaha over the use of the word "man" and the pronoun "he" when referring to a generality, such as "Man does not live by meat and drink alone." Some consider this usage to be sexist, excluding women. They would have us write, "Man or woman does not live by meat and drink alone. He or she requires spiritual sustenance as well to satisfy his or her needs." Awkward.

I always use "he" rather than the "he or she." Likewise I prefer to write "man," rather than "man or woman." To me, it is clear that "he" can be used in the sense of a human being of either gender. That's what I was taught in school, and there are writers who still agree with me.

Some writers in the mainstream media avoid the dilemma altogether by avoiding generalities or avoiding the use of a pronoun at all costs. There are other creative solutions I've seen, such as using "a person" in place of "man or woman." The trouble with using "human" is that it has a science fiction flavor, implying an alien making an observation on our species.

I once corresponded with a woman who used a pronoun such as "ke," to indicate a person of either or neither gender. I think that's a good idea, if it ever were to catch on. I don't wish to slight either gender. I just want efficient use of language.
by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

A Definitive Answer

Here's a recent quote from the conservative Washington Times:

"Obama avoids providing firm stance on gay marriage."

"When gay supporters at a New York fundraiser pressed President Obama on whether he supports same-sex marriage, he said “gay couples deserve the same legal rights as every other couple” but avoided giving a definitive answer."

If the only difference between gay marriage and the President's position amounts to terminology, then that is nothing more than a quibble.

It is very good that New York has passed gay marriage. I hope that the misnamed DOMA is struck down during Obama's first term in order to fulfill the promise of this initiative.

The politicians of the South are likely to stand in the way of civil rights progress. History repeats itself. One would think they would be ashamed of being on record against civil rights once again. All they are doing is reinforcing the South's reputation and confirming the opinions of many people around the world.

I am looking forward to a day when sexuality will be a non-issue. I honestly think it is an absurd thing to have to worry about. Homophobes greatly exaggerate the issue of sexuality. It is just the same with racists that exaggerate the importance of skin color. How easy it is for human beings to jump to the conclusion that all members of an arbitrary group are inferior in some way. That style of thinking is defective and leads to serious errors.
by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Just Say No to Private Debt

Some grads are saddled with $100K debt just for a lousy four-year degree. It's crazy. I'm glad I never got on the debt treadmill. It never ends, even in death, which is difficult to fathom. Does the loan company harvest organs?

Four year degrees lead to nothing. I wish it weren't so, because I really enjoyed college. Every class I took was a pleasure. Nothing compares to the thrill of learning.

The trouble is, everybody has a degree these days. Instead of resulting in gainful employment, a degree has become just another hurdle the wannabe worker must jump, like graduating high school. From what I read in the history books, it used to be that people began their careers at the age of eighteen. It used to be employers were dazzled by a worker that could read. If that worker could also write, Zappo! Instant promotion to management! Those were the days, alas. Now we have people with Master's degrees managing a McDonald's.

The value of a degree would increase to its vaunted 19th century status if the number of degree holders decreased or if the owners stopped exporting jobs to cheap labor countries, but neither scenario is likely to happen.

I recommend that no student take on private debt for any reason. If your plans require it, then change your plans. Now, government debt is different. Big brother is cool. He won't rape you. He will give you tax breaks and reasonable interest rates and just generally be a nice guy. Private lenders are evil. They will do and say shifty things in order to enhance shareholder value. Your death is of no consequence. They will harvest your organs to pay off your debt. So yeah, I'm a socialist or whatever, but that's my advice to college kids.
by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Taking a Break from Chess

I decided to quit chess tonight. Just can't seem to recover my old groove. Chess at the higher levels, in my case defined as 1800+ online, requires enormous intellectual resources, at least for me. I'm not the sort that can pull good moves out of thin air with little effort. I recall a bartender who could do so. He could work the bar and play outstanding chess at the same time, and it was quite humbling to see how fast his mind worked. He beat me playing the Danish on one game, because I didn't remember when to make the d5 pawn sacrifice, and King's Gambit on another, but I finally beat him with the Grob, which he had never seen before. That made me feel a little bit better, but then again I was concentrating on the game, and he had customers to serve.

Right now, I feel taxed by my job-hunting activities and other serious matters that are consuming much of my thinking power, and that is only right. A better game for me is Dungeon Crawl, because it's more forgiving and less exact, especially with good old regen.bat backing up my saved games for me.

Truth is, even if I were to play master-level chess, which I can't do, but for the sake of argument if I were, it would get me nowhere. Chess is a big zero in terms of rewards. I don't even much care for other chess players that I encounter in chess clubs and online. They tend to be antisocial to put it mildly. Of course I've got a bit of that too. But at least I don't cuss out people that defeat me, or abort games just because I didn't get the white pieces, or cheat in a game, accuse the winner of cheating, or crow when I'm winning or have won, or announce that all liberals need to be shot, or declare that liberals are traitors, all things that I've observed other chessplayers doing in chess clubs and online. Chessplayers as a whole tend to be more conservative than other sorts of people, in every sense of the word from style of dress to speech and views about society and politics. I've gotten banned from an online chess site just for playing the Grob, which is a ridiculous thing for a mod to do, because FIDE never ruled 1. g4 was an illegal move.

How'd I get into chess in the first place? I didn't seek it out, but it sought me out, so to speak. My brother and father were enthusiasts, so I naturally got recruited into playing around the age of five or so. It is a fascinating game, but one quickly finds his plateau. For me it seems to be around 1800 or so, if I limit myself to playing when I'm fully energized and in prime condition. I think I'll call that good enough and move on to other pastimes--if I even find the time for pastimes anymore.
by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

Monday, June 20, 2011

Proud to be an American

I'm proud of my country, that so many high-tech corporations today offer domestic partner benefits for gays and lesbians. I'm talking about medical insurance for my partner. That means a great deal to me. As a matter of fact, it is the single criterion upon which I make decisions about companies. I don't even bother applying to any company that does not offer DP benefits, but exceptions are rare these days, at least in the area of high tech.*

I can remember back when I was a teenager--I really didn't expect this to happen in my lifetime. It surprises me and makes me glad I'm an American. I can tell you, things were different even in the 1990's. Change DOES come and can arrive even within a single lifetime.

* - In my experience, there are plenty of gay programmers. Among heterosexual programmers, homophobia is uncommon among the competent. Only incompetent programmers have ever expressed homophobia in my presence, and their motive was to shift the focus away from their incompetence and onto sexual orientation, in which they felt they were superior.

Competent programmers look for and appreciate competence from their colleagues. They care about what is between the ears. They do not care about what goes on below the belt. The focus is upon getting things done. In most shops, there is more work that needs to be done than there are programmers to do it.
by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

A Safe Bet That Nothing Will Be Done

Regarding the threat of an EMP-nuke from North Korea or Iran, it's a safe bet that nothing will be done about it. Our leaders are not forward-thinkers, but only seem capable of reacting to problems that have already arrived upon our doorstep.
by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

Insufficient Web Qualifications

Many tech employers assume that experience in the latest and greatest flavor of technology is all that matters. They look for nothing else.

Recently, a potential employer wrote me a helpful note that my web qualifications were much less than that of his other applicants. Maybe that is so. I don't know. It is difficult for me to demonstrate my proficiency with the web, because so much of what I have done has been a hobby rather than work-related.

Browsing his company's web site for less than ten minutes, I detected three glaring grammatical errors and a design atrocity that his geeks overlooked. Maybe I am an old fogy who doesn't know anything, but it seems to me that an advertising company that displays such mistakes on its web site cannot be destined for good things. If he had at least been willing to interview me over the phone, I might have shared my observations with him. Since our communication has ceased, I find satisfaction in imagining the reactions of his customers. Perhaps an elder geek is not completely worthless, after all.

I am proficient with HTML and CSS and have no reservation stating so on my resume. I don't see what is so special about web development applications or languages. I cut my teeth on Assembler, and I don't see how any of the modern languages could possibly get any more difficult than that.

If I was capable of understanding and coding in the context of a language

then why would
stump me?

The answer appears to be that managers don't want to gamble on an unknown quantity and are afraid of fossilized old brains that quit learning new things*. They prefer applicants with a proven track record in a given technology that can hit the ground running, even if they have to pay twice the salary that I would expect in order to spend a bit of time getting up to speed. I understand the rationale for closing the door to people like myself well enough. But I'll keep knocking.

* - Has my brain fossilized? Well, I don't think so.
by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

ACDSee--Good but Flawed

ACDSee 8 is my image viewer and editor. One reason I don't usually recommend ACDSee to others is that it has a favorite phrase that it likes to repeat, "ACDSee has encountered a system error and must now close." There seems to be no rhyme nor reason to it. In my opinion, such an error message is indicative of poor programming practices. At the very least, the message should be informative, so that the user can take steps to correct the supposed "system error." Better would be if ACDSee handled the error in a graceful manner, without exiting. Who knows why ACDSee crashes? It crashes just because.

The new version of ACDSee costs $50 to upgrade, which leads one to expect that significant new features have been added. I did try out ACDSee 11 a long time ago, but found it did not have any new features that were of interest to me. Instead of adding features, it seems the developers chose to reconfigure the design and interface, meaning that the user would have to learn a new bag of tricks without gaining any advantages as a result.

However, when all is said and done, I have to concede that there is not a better image manager for the PC than ACDSee. It's quicker to load than Adobe Photoshop and cheaper. I've tried FastStone, Irfanview, and several other shareware solutions, but they all fall short of ACDSee. The developers of these shareware products should merge instead of competing with one another. Teams of programmers can accomplish more than just one individual working alone. As the situation now stands, each programmer is spending his entire career reinventing the wheel, attempting to copy features that ACDSee introduced over six years ago.
by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Trusting China with Capital Investments

One day, the captains of industry may regret exporting middle-class careers over to China. However expensive his labor may seem, a U.S. citizen best serves the interests of his country, because his destiny is intertwined with it. Dismantling the middle class, underfunding education, and letting the infrastructure rot will have consequences not only for workers, but also for the owners, who have the most to lose. Do the owners intend to relocate to China to oversee their investments, and are the tyrants of that nation amenable to sharing power, as Saruman expected of Sauron?
by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

Lack of Choice in Webcams

Firewire's been available for ages, yet most webcams use the USB 2.0 interface. Firewire's faster, which should result in smoother, higher resolution video. I shopped around the web for two hours before concluding that it will not be possible to purchase a decent PC-compatible webcam with a firewire interface for less than $200. (Unibrain's product is out of stock on NewEgg at the moment.)

To see an explanation of what I am talking about, visit this site, which explains the speed advantage that firewire enjoys over the USB 2.0 interface. A PCI card with a firewire interface can be purchased for < $10 for computers that don't have one.

by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

Saturday, June 18, 2011

A Reason to Smile

Uncertainty is the chief enemy residing within the self. When I pause to consider the power that is unleashed when I really set my mind to a task, it makes me smile. I was fortunate in my birth and education. My aims are modest and flexible, well below my capabilities, and it does not seem at all possible I should not obtain them in due course. The many who like me will be pleased to see me prosper, and the few that don't will be surprised. I don't know which prospect brings me more pleasure in the anticipation.
by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

Friday, June 17, 2011

The Truth about the Economy

I've never seen our nation's economic woes explained better than this.
by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

My $180 Consultation with the Lawyer

I went to see a lawyer today regarding the immigration status of my partner. It was a fact that I knew more about my situation than the lawyer did, because I had spent many hours preparing and researching the available online sources, although she had not. She was surprised that my knowledge exceeded her own, but nevertheless charged $180 for a thirty-minute consultation and, upon learning that I was a computer programmer, asked me to help her fix her computer for free. I stared at her without saying anything, thinking, is my knowledge worthless, and yours worth $180 for less than an hour spent telling me less than what I already know?

The high status of lawyers in our society is a symptom of our society's decline. Lawyers do not create anything. The outcome of legal cases hinges not upon Truth but upon points of law, and bad laws are defended with just the same vigor as good ones. It is often the case that the client with the deepest pockets wins. These are some of the reasons I did not choose to become a lawyer. Several of my friends from school, the best and the brightest, became lawyers instead of scientists, inventors, or engineers. Who can blame them? Their decision was in their obvious self-interest. Is it proper to advise a young person to consider a creative or productive occupation when they can become lawyers instead and never have to worry about updating their skills or learning new ones?

For my part, I have had to learn a new computer technology every two to three years, at a minimum, and even so, many jobs are not available to me. I have experience in technologies that have fallen out of favor. It was a mistake entering the field of computer technology in the first place, when law and medicine pay huge salaries. Despite what some claim, law does not change very much year to year, and neither does our knowledge concerning the human body, but computer languages rise and fall like the tide. I've learned a dozen different languages in my career, many of them worthless now.

Ill-considered laws are a burden upon the people. I feel that there are too many laws, and many of them are intrusive and unnecessary and not founded upon good reasoning. I cannot afford much in the way of lawyers. Over three hundred years ago, my ancestors came to America as immigrants in search of freedom, but America has changed and is no longer hospitable to immigrants for a variety of reasons, chief among them the high rate of unemployment combined with the influx of undocumented workers from countries south of our border. I foresee myself having to leave America in search of the freedom to live with my partner without persecution from the government. I hope to postpone the severance as long as can be, but I see few other options available to me.

I was glad that I did not offer any help to the lawyer with her technical problem. It is contrary to my nature not to offer to help, but I would have regretted it for however long it took me to forget the ill-considered generosity. One thing I have learned in this life is that helping good people is good, but helping bloodsucking parasites is evil, because they will take what is offered and think one a fool for having offered a service without compensation, which they never do.
by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

Thursday, June 16, 2011

$20 Billion

I read on Al Jazeera that U.S. aid to Pakistan has been > $20 billion since 2001. That's quite a bundle to pay for an unreliable ally. Although many terrorists have been killed, they are like financial-suicide bombers. If each extermination costs a million dollars, who is winning, who is losing? I wonder how many jobless Americans would prefer that $20 billion had been used on job creation here in the U.S.
by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

Monday, June 13, 2011

The Ogre

In my dream last night, I was hiding under a tower, and above me, an ogre bearing a striking resemblance to the ogre in Dungeon Crawl patrolled the walkways around the tower. He saw me, bellowed, and began shimmying down poles from one walkway to the other to get at me. I realized that soon he would be at the ground level, so I tried to hide behind columns and partitions of wall, but he had a steady eye and ear trained upon me and followed.

My internal director called "Cut!" to the action before he reached the ground. Upon waking up, I reflected that none of my Spriggans have had any difficulty dispatching ogres. Ogres may be strong, but they are too slow, and Spriggan assassins stay one step ahead, blowing poisoned needles from their blowgun.

I need to assert control over my dreams and have more pleasant ones. So far, my best method of control has been an internal watchdog that wakes me up when the Muse turns sour.
by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

Sunday, June 12, 2011

A Hard-Fought Victory in 15 min.

I dropped two pawns in this game due to my own carelessness, but managed to muster an attack in the middle game that led to checkmate. I'm proud of the latter portion of this game. Other than the first ten moves, I think I played well, planning far in advance for an attack on my opponent's King side using my Queen's rook.

Perhaps I stumbled upon a gambit of my own making. I harvested some tempos from my sacrificed pawns. I've noticed that dropping a pawn or two in the opening tempts one's opponent to be lazy and look for nothing other than opportunities to trade down. By the time I checkmated Mr. 1895, he had a whopping 9:23 (out of 15:00) remaining on his clock, while I had only 2:59 on mine. That smacks of lazybones. Perhaps he was contemptuous of me because of my lower rating and opening blunders.

[White Anonymous]
[Black me]
[Result "0-1"]
[WhiteElo "1895"]
[BlackElo "1797"]
[ECO "A45"]
[Time "11:19:18"]
[TimeControl "900"]

1. d4 Nf6 2. e3 d5 3. Nf3 c5 4. dxc5 Nc6 5. a3 e5 6. Bb5 Bxc5 7. Bxc6+ bxc6 8. Nxe5 O-O 9. Nxc6 Qc7 10. Nd4 Ba6 11. Nc3 Rfe8 12. Nce2 Rab8 13. c3 Ng4 14. h3 Ne5 15. O-O Rb6 16. b4 Be7 17. Nf4 Rd8 18. Bb2 Bxf1 19. Qxf1 Nc4 20. Qe2 Bg5 21. Nd3 Rg6 22. Kh1 Qc8 23. Rg1 Rh6 24. f4 Bf6 25. Bc1 Bxd4 26. cxd4 Qf5 27. Ne5 Qe4 28. Qd3 Rxh3# 0-1

It is always good to develop mating threats, whether or not they are serious, because in time-controlled games a player is apt to overlook them. My opponent should have played 28. Qf3, forcing a trade of Queens. My attack fizzles after that. We were even in material. He had the better pawn structure and an excellent knight, while I had active rooks. Whether I could have won the end game is doubtful, given his tremendous time advantage. I gambled with Qe4, and my gamble paid off this time. Was Qe4 the best possible move for me? Probably not. Nevertheless, it won the game.

The trouble with long games--considered to be as little as 15 min. per side--is that some players do in fact cheat. It's too easy using a computer program in another window. It seems pathetic, and I disapprove of the practice. A few players in the online chess community are suspicious of inconsistent players like me. More than one has accused me of cheating, and I've had a regular spectator who is rated 2200+ and never makes any comments. It makes me wonder whether I'm being investigated. I've never cheated, and I don't even have a chess program installed on my computer. I've never even looked up an opening on the Internet to find good moves during a game--that, too, is cheating. It is my policy to only use my brain. The purpose of chess is to exercise the mental faculties.

I can certainly understand those who think I am cheating. Sometimes I play like I'm 1650, and other times, 1950. It just depends on the cycle of the Moon. I play better sober, obviously, but also, any disturbance reduces my quality of play. Lack of sleep, unwelcome news, insufficient exercise, inadequate diet, lethargy, depression--these things have an impact on my concentration. Chess is an intense and demanding intellectual sport. All the cylinders have to be firing at the right time. A misfire here or there loses a pawn, a piece, or the game.

I do consult sites on the Internet in order to research chess openings. But I don't use a chess program at all and feel myself to be in the minority in that respect. I'm old-fashioned. My way is to set up my chess board on the kitchen counter and analyze openings myself. From long experience, I've gotten good at that, and it is how I have refined my responses to certain opening lines. Although a chess program offers many advantages, I feel it is the lazy man's way, and I prefer to do things the hard way. After all, the chess program will not be there to help during an actual game, so one should not get used to relying upon it. Besides, it is quite pleasant to get away from the computer and operate in three dimensions for a change.
by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Somebody Played Drunk

On my favorite online chess site, I played a high-ranked player who seemed impaired, judging by his choice of moves. If a player take too much time, then the inebriant may be weed, which impairs the brain's tracking of time. If a player makes lousy moves, then alcohol may be the culprit. I suspect alcohol was the culprit with this 1900-ranked player.

[White Anonymous]
[Black me]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "B02"]
[TimeControl "120+12"]

1. e4 Nf6 2. Nf3 Nxe4 3. Bc4 d5 4. Bb5+ Bd7 5. Bxd7+ Nxd7 6. d3 Nef6 7. O-O e6 8. Re1 Bd6 9. Nc3 O-O 10. Bg5 h6 11. Bh4 c5 12. Nb5 Bb8 13. d4 a6 14. Nc3 cxd4 15. Qxd4 Ba7 16. Qd2 Qb6 17. Rab1 Rac8 18. Ne5 Nxe5 19. Rxe5 Ng4 20. Re2 Qd6 21. h3 Qh2+ 0-1

Notice how he drops a pawn on the second move, having zero compensation for it. That told me right away I might be dealing with an intoxicated person. I don't mind. I've been on a losing streak, and games like this bolster my dented ego. I've been known to play impaired on occasion myself, although I'm on a sobriety kick now.
by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

Comodo Firewall

I tried the "Comodo" Firewall, but quickly uninstalled it, because it raised an alert every time that I changed and ran a batch file. I do so on a regular basis and cannot permit my firewall to pester me about it. Comodo is intended for users that write and execute no code of their own, which I suppose is the vast majority. But it's not for me. My choice will have to remain ZoneAlarm, an old favorite, although its pop-up windows can be annoying at times.

I also found Comodo's menu unnecessarily complicated and cluttered. It was obviously designed by a programmer, not a designer. ZoneAlarm, on the other hand, was designed by a designer. The most important options are right there for the user to select, and the trivial options are neatly hidden away, although accessible when needed.

Update: I tried downloading Free ZoneAlarm, but their web site reported an error message. I was not permitted to download it, because I already had Avast anti-virus installed. Apparently ZoneAlarm competes with Avast. This may explain why my ZoneAlarm and Avast-running OS crashed a week ago--they don't play well together. I like Avast best of all, so ZoneAlarm's out. Next!

I'm evaluating PC Tools's Firewall now. It gets good reviews, but best of all plays nice with Avast.
by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

Friday, June 10, 2011

On My Avoidance of Images

I'm aware that other blogs make liberal use of clip art, but I avoid that here, because it is ubiquitous and smacks of plagiarism, unless one uses one's own images, and I'm neither artist nor photographer. A better way to distinguish my blog might be to concentrate upon the text and the design. I may be right, I may be wrong, but that's my preference. I think there is still a place for the written word and that it has charms of its own.

As a webmaster of a different site than this one, I have detected many people using images found on my site, even using our server's copy of the images--in fact, that is why I am able to detect their use. It doesn't bother me, as it would an artist, because most of the images used on that web site are unoriginal and represent little investment in time on my part. However, I have many observations about this indiscriminate use of clip art.

Many times, other people's frequent dropping of images seems tacky. The owners don't realize that. It makes me wonder whether I should go about deleting images from my web site, because maybe the images make my web site tacky, too, and I'm just too close to my baby to perceive its ugliness. I seldom receive any constructive criticism or feedback about anything, so I don't really know for sure what looks good or bad. I only have my own preferences, which may be out of tune with the zeitgeist. Oh well. Such is the fate of many a small web site.

Also, I don't really appreciate people leeching bandwidth from my web site by coding a direct link, called a hotlink, to images on my site's server. My site receives no visitors that way, but is compelled to transmit data for the sake of another site. For fun, I like to replace images with banner ads for my web site. Some of these banner ads can be a bit risque, but too bad for the losers. That's the chance one takes by hotlinking. I have had many a belly-laugh from visiting other people's sites and seeing my banner ads. Months and even years go by without the owners detecting anything amiss. Thanks for donating space on your site to my viral advertising campaign, losers.

One of my acquaintances is an artist, and he gets far more irritated than me by image theft, because he perceives it as a threat to his livelihood. In fact, he's become something of an anti-pirate. I think his fears are overblown. For my part, I'd not want anything from his portfolio, even if he were to give his work away for free. It is often thus with people that worry over piracy. They have an exaggerated sense of their product's worth. At any rate, if he is so worried, it is a simple matter to protect artwork on the Internet. Offer a small version, rather than a large. Seems pretty obvious. Instead, he's fooling around with watermarks and javascripts, both of which can be circumvented. But he has not paid me for my technical advice, and giving it to him for free would be another form of piracy, wouldn't it. On the other hand, if he wants to pay my consultation fee of $49.99, then I might clue him in. He's called me up before asking me to fix his computer in exchange for artwork. Don't want it. Prefer the little strips of green paper instead.

Unlike my artist acquaintance, I don't worry overmuch about piracy, because I've never had any inkling that any of my stuff would be considered valuable by anyone else. No one has ever hired me on as a writer or given any sort of monetary encouragement to pursue my creative labors, so I feel perfectly safe in posting all of my creative work on the Internet, just as I feel safe in leaving the doors unlocked on my $1500 car. If someone wants to steal my thoughts, well, good luck with 'em, but you may be in for a bit more than you bargained for! Everything I do is protected using Igor's patented "Liberal Ideology" technology. I sprinkle my left-wing opinions into everything I offer online, so that if people copy my stuff, they are helping spread my memes in viral fashion. I'd much prefer they link back to me and give me credit for my work and am annoyed when they don't, but if my ideas spread, then that's really what matters, isn't it, especially after I'm dead and gone. It's a half-assed form of immortality. Perhaps in the future there will be more people sharing similar thoughts and feelings as me, and that's all to the good, I think.
by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

On and Off in Chess

In chess, I'm on some days, off others. Besides general knowledge of the game, playing well requires lightning-fast processing of tactical calculations, because the better players are all very fast themselves at finding good moves. The standard of play in the modern chess world is much higher than it was a hundred years ago. (Although I wasn't alive then, I have studied games that date back over a hundred years.) Also, most games have tight limitations on time, and there is never enough time for a slow poke. On some days, I'm just too slow, and all my knowledge and experience bears little fruit. Knowledge alone just won't cut it in chess--never has and never will.

On my good days, when my brain's really humming, I am fast enough to score upset victories against higher-ranked players, the same ones, in fact, who trounce me on my off days, but my days of glory make the inevitable slow days that much harder to bear, making me wonder if I'm losing my edge. Even in my prime, I was never able to maintain a superb acuity. That's why I never bothered chasing after the dream of so many other serious chessplayers, becoming a FIDE-recognized master. A title would give me bragging rights, and I wouldn't mind it, but I really don't think it is at all realistic, given my modest ability. Like my brother, I consider myself a chess dabbler only. One has to be born with the right DNA to become a chessmaster.

Fortunately, in online chess there is an option to play unrated games. When I sense that I am having an off day, I quit playing rated and play unrated instead. I've at least learned to manage my inconsistency in order to preserve my rating. In time, I will be able to climb back up into the 1900's, where I prefer to remain. In my heart, I know that I have not lost my edge at all--it only seems that way today. Tomorrow may be a different story. Then the other guys had better watch out!
by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments


I had a nightmare last night that a group of people that I didn't know and myself were rounded up by security forces, bound, placed in bare metal chairs side-by-side in a room, and tortured. Everything about the dream seemed vague. I didn't know who the others were, and didn't know who the security forces were. They must have been Iranian or belonged to some other tyranny. I don't remember what sort of torture was used. Possibly fists or whips. At any rate, my internal watchdog said, "I don't like this dream. This is unpleasant and must end now." So the dream ended and I woke up--early, as it turned out. That suited me because I've grown tired of being nocturnal and want to start waking up earlier.

I think the nightmare was a result of reading so many media stories about torture being used against protesters in Egypt, Syria, Iran, Libya, and other cesspools around the world. Before going to bed, I read an article about the torture and murder of a 15 year-old boy by Syrian security forces. Definitely not the sort of thing one should read prior to going to bed, but I suppose such articles are more interesting than the latest thing the Republicans have said.

There is something strange and scary about torture, about taking delight in another person's misery. Viewing the devices that were used in the Middle Ages, more elaborate than necessary, it is clear that human beings have a special fascination with it. One wonders how such a trait came into being and what possible purpose it serves. All civilizations have practiced torture, and only recently in human history have affluent societies abolished torture and registered their opposition to its practice, although the Bush administration did some backsliding on that issue. One can never expect Republicans to understand morality. The thinnest pretext is used to approve torture, because human beings have a powerful desire to commit such acts against their enemies.
by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Grim Economic Outlook

Our Republican-controlled state legislature keeps dropping massive turds on the working class. They're tightening the screws to torture folks that aren't rich. The business community has become mighty picky about who the hire, and why should they not be, because tons of jobs have gone overseas forever. Educational institutions extract $$$tuition$$$ out of the pockets of unemployed people to create highly educated unemployed people, which seems like a scam to me, because nobody pursues higher education merely to learn. I suppose Socrates & Co. offer the consolation of Philosophy to those who can't afford a house.

It's not nearly enough to be smart, educated, honest, hard-working and law-abiding these days. Maybe our civilization is gradually coming to an end. Maybe this blog is destined to be a letter in a bottle from a long-gone voice. Maybe so. The thought doesn't faze me. I think I've already come out better in the game of life than some. If the job market proves too tight for me, then I can think of plenty of other folks that are in for serious hardship. The boat's gonna rock, and it's gonna roll. This old turtle may sink, but I think there's plenty sinking with me, and those that stay aboard aren't safe forever, either, because the captains are quite mad.
by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Chess Openings

I studied chess openings when I was a young man, but still feel ignorant about them. The trouble is that there are so many. I thought I knew them all until I browsed an online resource tonight and discovered three dozen different variations of the Sicilian. Argh! Yet the reality is that most players confine themselves to the most popular lines. I hardly ever encounter anything unusual, and that's just too bad. When someone does play something out of the ordinary, I respect that and appreciate being given the opportunity to learn.

The truth is I am a generalist. I know the first four moves of most openings, but little more than that. Despite my mediocre knowledge of chess openings, I find myself more than capable of holding my own against most players. My online rating has been hovering around 1900 of late, which I think is good enough for me. I think that if it had been in the cards for me to become a master, that would have happened already. And besides, there's no financial incentive, and getting very good simply means fewer people can enjoy a game with you.

My pet peeve with online chess has to be sore losers. Other than that, I love online chess. But every once in a while, one encounters a player who is drunk and spoiling for an argument with a stranger. My policy is to ban 'em and forget 'em. Life's too short to devote any time to buttheads.
by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

Dropped a Piece, But Won Anyway

Playing the Gran Prix against a strong player, I goofed in the middle game and lost a piece, but found a tactical gimmick that saved the day.

[White me]
[Black Anonymous]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "B21"]
[Time "17:35:48"]
[TimeControl "600"]

1. e4 c5 2. f4 e6 3. Nf3 Be7 4. Bc4 Bh4+ 5. Nxh4 Qxh4+ 6. g3 Qd8 7. d4 d5 8. Bb5+ Nc6 9. dxc5 a6 10. exd5 exd5 11. Ba4 Qa5+ 12. Nc3 Qxc5 13. Qe2+ Ne7 14. Be3 d4 15. Ne4 Qa5+ 16. Bd2 Qxa4 17. Nd6+ Kf8 18. b3 Qa3 19. Nc4 Qc5 20. O-O-O Bf5 21. g4 Be6 22. Ne5 Qa3+ 23. Kb1 Nb4 24. Bxb4 Qxb4 25. f5 Bd5 26. Rhf1 Re8 27. f6 gxf6 28. Nd7+ Kg7 29. Nxf6 Rc8 30. Qe5 Bf3 31. Nh5+ Kf8 32. Qxh8+ 1-0

At move 30, my opponent asked to take back his previous move (Rc8). Sometimes I do allow weaker players takebacks, especially if I'm ahead in material and in a good mood, but when playing opponents that have a similar or higher rating than me, my answer is no in blitz games like this one. I define a blitz game as less than 15 minutes per side per game. Furthermore, in this case, I felt like my opponent had a lot of gall to ask for a takeback when our ratings were similar, and he had a killer position otherwise and was a piece ahead in material. No way, Jose! This was a rated game, after all, and I work hard to keep my rating high. I lose many games as it is due to my own carelessness, but I almost never ask for takebacks. I take my defeats in stride and try to learn from them. Sometimes I lose ten games in a row, but you know what, that's just the way it goes! News flash: chess is a game of mistakes! If no one made a mistake, the result would be a draw.

I was mean. I neither declined nor approved the takeback. He let his time almost run out waiting for me to approve it. With less than a minute left on his clock, he moved his bishop, an ineffectual move. Then he ran out of time. He had a lost position anyway.
by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Say Goodbye to Bookmarks with Chrome

Chrome has decided that Bookmarks are Web 1.0 and the user no longer needs them in our brave new world.

When I clicked "Import Bookmarks," Chrome made the hard drive whir and promptly produced zero bookmarks. No error message, no bookmarks--nothing. The bookmarks option is hidden in Chrome--if it really works at all. I believe Google thinks the web begins and ends with Google, and that the user does not need to visit any other site but Google.

It took me all of five minutes to conclude Chrome was not for me. Uninstalled Chrome and went back to Firefox. Maybe I'll evaluate Chrome again ten years from now. Hopefully, by then Chrome will have learned that bookmarks are a worthwhile option to place somewhere on the screen.
by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

Monday, June 6, 2011

Another Quick Win with the Center Game

I've had good luck with the Center Game in blitz. Here's a recent victory against a player ranked 1915:

[White me]
[Black Anonymous]
[Result "1-0"]
[TimeControl "600"]

1. e4 e5 2. d4 exd4 3. Nf3 c5 4. c3 dxc3 5. Nxc3 d6 6. Bc4 h6 7. O-O Bg4 8. Qd5 Qd7 9. e5 Bxf3 10. Qxf3 dxe5 11. Rd1 Bd6 12. Nb5 Qc6 13. Nxd6+ Kd8 14. Qxf7 Nd7 15. Bb5 Qc7 16. Qe8# 1-0

I believe it is a mistake for Black to try to hang on to the pawn. 3. .. c5 does nothing for Black's position. I am more than happy to offer up another pawn for Black's consumption in order to gain a substantial lead in development.

This was my quickest victory yet with the Center Game. I'm not sure why so many players have trouble meeting 2. d4.
by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

Another Swing (and Miss) at Linux Mint

Spent another day installing Linux Mint and trying to configure it for my computer. The biggest problem was that Linux Mint was silent. Clicking on obvious things like "Sound," "Settings," or any of the many choices listed under "Hardware" offered no solution, only wasting time. Researching online, I couldn't find an easy way to enable sound on my motherboard. There are many sound-related add-ons available without any indication as to which one will install support for basic audio. A user could spend hours evaluating add-ons that are actually intended for other purposes. After browsing messages in one of many forums, I decided to install Alsamixer, but that didn't help. Alsamixer aborted without any message whenever I clicked on Preferences! It was recommended that users modify one of the config files for Alsa, and so I did, but that didn't help, either. Alsamixer was a no-go.

My sound hardware is not anything unusual, either. It's motherboard-embedded Realtek HD 5.1, which is cheap and pretty common among PC's. Realtek has been embedded in almost every motherboard I've bought since 1999. Clicking on the speaker icon on the taskbar revealed that sound was being routed to "Dummy Stereo," and yes, I know what that means. There was no option to reroute it to the real stereo.

A common problem mentioned by the Linux Mint web site is that one's installation DVD may be defective, due to the unreliability of lengthy downloads from their distribution sites. However, I verified the MD5 checksum using their recommended Windows checksum verification program. It seems to me that the installation process should verify its own integrity, prior to installing, and report an appropriate error message if anything is amiss.

Linux Mint couldn't print or access the scanner, either, and I was growing concerned about the amount of time it was taking to find the answers to my difficulties. Researching the silence problem alone took hours and resulted in no solution. Although I used a silent computer for a decade in the office, I can't imagine being without sound at home. The print issue I never got around to troubleshooting, because silence itself is a deal-breaker.

The chief problem with Linux, as I see it, is that hardware manufacturers, such as the one that made my motherboard, do not offer any drivers for Linux. The only drivers available are for versions of Windows. That's not fair to Linux users and complicates matters for Linux developers. My distro is maintained by just one guy. I imagine he works day and night already. Supporting all the millions of different hardware configurations is out of the question. Donations amount to less than $5000/month, which can only support one developer and no more. Contrast that with Microsoft, which has legions of developers, besides all the third-party developers that write drivers for Windows without Microsoft having to do anything other than grant or deny the official seal of approval. The game is rigged in favor of Microsoft due to market forces.

Other than the hardware issue, Linux Mint is great. It's well-designed and attractive. I was annoyed by a reviewer that griped about trivialities such as the desktop wallpaper or the splash screen. Those things can be changed, but they look fine to me. I thought the default look and feel of the desktop was superior to Windows. I liked the speed of the installation and the fact that the network configured itself. I was able to access the Internet from the get-go, which isn't true of Windows XP.

I noticed that Firefox was slow as molasses on chess cube, where chess play depends upon Flash. Something simple like dragging a piece is ten times slower in Linux Mint than in Windows. This sluggishness surprised me, because I was under the impression that Linux Mint 11 offered built-in support for Flash. Also, Firefox had a different look and feel in Linux Mint, and not a better one. I missed my navigation icons, such as Back, Forward, New Tab, and Home.

Linux Mint did not boot all the time, either, but only booted some of the time. That may have been due to a faulty hard drive for all I know. The boot time was no better than Windows XP SP3 and may have been slower even. I don't know why Linux users make the claim that Linux boots faster when it doesn't. During the boot, the screen stayed black and the hard drive light was off sometimes, which made me wonder whether it had crashed. It would be nice if Linux Mint gave some indication it was alive during the boot.

Clicking on "Help" in many windows resulted in an error message stating that help was not available. It is possible to research problems in the forums, but that is tedious because forums tend to be chatty and a bit random. Some people know what they are talking about, but some don't, and some of the information is outdated or applicable only to certain hardware configurations but not others. The tutorials and documentation tend to focus upon trivialities that would be significant to an experienced user. There are no tutorials and no documentation on the basics, such as setting up sound in Linux Mint. The new user is left on his own to fend for himself. Reading the manual didn't help either. Apparently the assumption is that the new user already knows what to do and that everything already works the first time.

If Linux offered an obvious path to configuring sound, printer, and scanner, then I'd be all for it, but it seems to offer me a crippled computer lacking much of the functionality I've taken for granted over the years with Windows XP. I don't think that situation is going to improve anytime soon. On Windows XP, I know what to do: visit the motherboard manufacturer's web site, download the drivers, and execute the installation packages. That is not an option with Linux and probably never will be.

I remember when New Egg used to offer a flavor of Linux called Xandros, but now only Windows 7 is available. After my experience spending hours trying to get any sound from my computer, I can understand why. Probably nine out of ten customers returned their Linux distro for a refund and asked for Windows in its place. Look and feel is important, of course, but the bottom line for an OS is hardware, hardware, hardware. If the hardware works, great. If not, then what good is the operating system? It's crippleware at best. Users want their stuff to work. End of story.
by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Windows XP Ain't So Hot, Either

I wrote a negative review about Linux Mint recently, but am regretting it. That's the problem with blogging--opinions are apt to change. No sooner do I write something down then I begin to reconsider. I've continued reading about the advantages of Linux Mint and am beginning to doubt my own analysis.

Windows XP comes down with a bad case of the flu about once a year, if not more often, and I don't know why. When Windows works, life is great, but when it doesn't, it is just as cumbersome to deal with as a Linux installation process. And it can be scary, too, because one never knows whether a virus may be responsible for bizarre unexplained system errors. Trying to cipher any of the error messages Windows spits out requires research on the Internet.

Besides that, every Windows installation tends to slow down with age. I have to admit that for all the difficulties in learning a new OS, Windows presents a slew of difficulties for those that remain loyal. The latest Windows offers absolutely nothing to me, but would introduce a world of pain. It would require more RAM, a new printer, and a new scanner, because Microsoft in its infinite wisdom decided that old hardware needs replacing, even if it is perfectly functional. Old hardware needs to be replaced in order to extract money from the end user and put it where it belongs, in the bank accounts of Microsoft's corporate allies such as Intel, et al.

To be honest, I'm ready for a change, even if I do have to learn a whole new bag of tricks. Maybe that's the price I have to pay to get a stable operating system that doesn't make me jump through hoops every year like Windows.
by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

Saturday, June 4, 2011

The Abyss, a Personal Candy Jar for Abyssal Knights

Lugonu, the Abyssal Knight's god, grants the power to enter and leave the Abyss with sufficient piety. The profession of Abyssal Knight therefore represents an interesting choice for Spriggans, because with their unsurpassed speed, they can acquire many treasures in the Abyss while outrunning most Abyssal baddies.

In the first pillage of the Abyss, a Spriggan may acquire a couple of scrolls or potions, or if he's lucky, jewelry, a wand, a weapon, or suitable armour. My best first pillage yet resulted in two rings, three scrolls, two potions and a slice of pizza--not a bad way to start the first level of the Dungeon. Races other than Spriggans will make acquisitions too, but their slow speed will hasten getting cornered by monsters and having to call upon Lugonu to leave the Abyss.

As a Spriggan grows in strength and abilities, these occasional forays into the Abyss will become more lucrative. If the player is cornered in the Dungeon, entering the Abyss allows a chance for rest and recovery in addition to the possibility of acquiring additional magical items that might allow the player to overcome his adversaries in the Dungeon.
by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

I Love Google, Except for One Thing

Google loves history. As in, ancient history. That's fine for most subjects. But when searching for technological terms, a result from over two years ago is of little value. There are exceptions, yes. But for the most part, when searching for technological terms, which I do every day, I want my results to be confined to the last 30 days. It astounds me that Google does not make such an option available in the user's settings, but they don't, probably to keep their corporate clients happy, because web site owners are touchy about their rankings and raise hell whenever Google makes the slightest change that may impact their search rank. Old results that were great in 2003 continue to show up in 2011, when their worth has diminished to zero. In fact, old results can be dangerous, if used.

I was pleased to discover an easy way to add this functionality to my home page this morning! It seems only my partner and I will benefit, because no-one else in the world seems interested in using my home page. The rest of the world seems content to let Facebook, Yahoo or Google set their home page. But that's okay. I don't get paid for it anyway.
by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

Friday, June 3, 2011

One Bug, One Fix

What gets me high is when I can fix a bug with a single patch, without having to make multiple attempts. One bug - steady aim - kapow! Fixed! And that's all there is to it!
by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

Body Odor

Seafood or fragrant gourmet cheeses bring to mind body odor, but not in a bad way. Oddly, their aroma is interpreted as pleasant and non-threatening, their flavor rich and delightful. The scent of a large mammal, though similar, is interpreted in a different way. Disgust is the dominant reaction.

I have noticed that people are indifferent to their own body odor or they may not even be aware of its intensity. I sometimes smell people who have not been vigilant about their personal hygiene. The odor can be overpowering, and if they only knew of its intensity, they would feel ashamed. All one remembers about them is their smell, a most unfortunate legacy.

But how can one broach such a subject? One cannot, in polite company. One simply endures, and then makes a mental note to limit one's future association with the stinking individual, or to at least situate oneself near an open window. That is a sad outcome that may result in certain people being lonely. I am reminded of my hyperactive friend who showered twice a day, once in the morning and once in the evening. That seemed excessive, but I understand the motive. For my part, I have made it a rule never to socialize without taking a shower. Rather than be smelled and not know it, I'd rather err on the side of fastidiousness.
by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Smith-Morra Gambit

Played a good game of chess today with victory in 18 moves. My worthy opponent played reasonable moves with clear justifications. He didn't blunder in any obvious manner, such as dropping a piece outright. But I think he was too aggressive. He postponed developing his King's bishop and never castled. The opening is a race for development. It is not the time to piddle around with the Queen in a speculative attack. What seemed to be an oversight on my part was planned. I still don't know if mine was a solid plan--this was speed chess, after all. But it worked.

[White me]
[Black anonymous 1980]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "B21"]
[TimeControl "300+3"] (5 minutes plus 3 seconds per move, one of my favorite settings along with 120 + 12)

1. e4 c5 2. d4 cxd4 3. Nf3 Nc6 4. Nxd4 d6 5. Nc3 Nf6 6. Bb5 Bd7 7. O-O e6 8. f4 Qb6 9. Be3 Ng4 10. Qxg4 e5 11. Nf5 Bxf5 12. Qxf5 Qxe3+ 13. Kh1 exf4 14. Nd5 Qc5 15. Nc7+ Kd8 16. Qxf7 Kc8 17. Ne6 Ne5 18. Qe8# 1-0

by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments
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