wii watch – part 1

February 27, 2007 under Nintendo Wii

This past Sunday, I went to buy groceries at the Zehrs on Ottawa Street South, like I do every weekend. On a whim, I popped into the electronics area to see if they had any Wiis available. The woman behind the counter told me that Nintendo themselves delivered 3 Wii consoles to them last Wednesday at 9AM, and that all 3 consoles were sold within four hours.

Now here’s what I don’t get:

  • I didn’t try the usual suspects like Futureshop, BestBuy, The Source or EB. This is Zehrs I’m talking about – the place where we buy our groceries. Even though some Zehrs stores are big enough, like the aforementioned one on Ottawa St., to sell clothes, electronics and things other than just groceries. It’s impressive that they have good tofu and next-gen game consoles.
  • How many people are going shopping for groceries in the middle of the day with the intention of picking up a Wii? Honestly. I’ve been to Zerhs at that time of the day before (usually on work-at-home or sick days) and the majority of people there are senior citizens. The Wii is apparently popular with golden years crowd, but how many will buy one themselves? Of course, I forgot about stay-at-home moms; the ones married to rich guys and do groceries during the day in their X3s. They’d be the ones out looking for a game console for little Braden or Catlyn. Curse those yummy mummies!

The search continues, but haven’t put forth a whole lot of effort. But the search continues…

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coding the painful way for all to hear

February 22, 2007 under Programming, speech recognition, Vista, VoiceCode

Last summer, I posted about a cool open-source project from the National Research Council of Canada, known as Voice Code, that allows developers to code by talking. From the demos that I’ve watched, VoiceCode performs very well, and shows promise. However, Windows Vista includes speech recognition functionality, and doesn’t appear to be on par with VoiceCode in terms of recognition accuracy, as evidenced by this poor soul who attempted to create a simple Perl script with his voice.

It took that guy over ten minutes to “write” simple Perl code to read the contents of a file and print them to standard output! Now I know that it’s not completely fair to compare VoiceCode (aimed at software development tasks) to Vista’s speech recognition capabilities (aimed at general computer use and word processing and the like). But that script was not an example of advanced programming techniques and methodologies – there were no classes, functions, ADT definitions or elaborate syntax.

I guess sometimes, you don’t get what you pay for.

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do bloggers have too much free time?

February 19, 2007 under Blogging

Admittedly, I haven’t been posting as often as I usually do these past couple of weeks. I’ve been doing a lot of contract programming gigs in my free time lately, and I’ve found little time to do anything else, such as post something on this blog o’ mine. Which leads me to ponder…is the reason bloggers blog because they don’t have anything else to do? 😉

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what is love? baby, don't hurt me. don't hurt me. no more.

February 14, 2007 under Life, love, Valentine's Day

Today’s the day that Hallmark, florists and jewellers inform you that if you do not give them money in exchange for goods to give to your significant other, then you are a horrible person. Should you happen to not have a significant other, then you are made to feel left out of the “fun”. Hollywood has had their hand in dictating the expectations of the day as well – you don’t want to be the shlub that the audience hates because you didn’t live up to the Valentine’s Day expectations, making your actions on the other 364 days of the year neglectable.

In the past, I’ve posted things about why I love Dena and the usual stuff that many people can identify with. This year, I’d like to share something that really touched my heart. For the Christmas holidays, Dena went to visit her family in Crystal Falls. One day while she was IM-ing me from her parents’ computer, she types this:

I need to update this computer. What is the latest version of firefox?

Now I love my wife, but a technical person she ain’t. In university, I tried to no avail to explain to her the benefits of copy ‘n’ paste. She would have none of it. She preferred to re-type if need be – she has since come around once she began her first job out of university and realized that retyping 200-word portions of legal documents might actually be worse than a quick CTRL+C and CTRL+V. So for her to immediately want to update her parents’ web browser was a nice to hear, but not a total shock, since she installed updates and patches on her work computer. Yet, she then wanted to tackle an expired anti-virus subscription:

I need to update the AVG here as well. Got a link for that?

Following a reboot, she sends me this message:

This computer has so much shit on it that it’s so slow. But everything is updated. What about skype now? 2.5.0.151 is the version on it now.

My wife is an updating machine. She realizes the benefit of keeping software current. We’re on the same wavelength. And that, folks, is real love 🙂

Dena Sez: Keep your apps up-to-date, biotches!

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linux gets flashy

February 7, 2007 under Beryl, Flash, Linux, Ubuntu

Last night while updating some Firefox extensions in my Ubuntu virtual machine, I decided to try an experiment. The recently released Flash Player 9 also has a version for Linux. The last version for Linux was version 7, which made sites like YouTube unusable. And installing Flash 7 player on Linux was never a treat, regardless of which Linux distribution you were using. You couldn’t even install Flash via Firefox’s plug-in finder feature. However, when I visited YouTube last night, Firefox’s plug-in finder successfully installed Flash Player 9 and everything worked flawlessly.

To digress a bit, take a look at the latest version of Beryl in action. Beryl provides hardware-accelerated usability enhancements like the ones found in Mac OS X and Windows Vista. The difference is that Beryl (as well as Linux) is free, requires far less hardware resources than OS X and Vista, and the project is barely six-months old.

All of this is pointing toward Linux becoming a viable operating system for home use – it still has a ways to go on the corporate desktop. For our home computers, I’m seriously considering a switch…if my wife will let me 😉

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let every man praise the bridge that carries him over

February 1, 2007 under bridges, DD-WRT, Linksys, Networking, routers

Being a homeowner is fun. There’s all sorts of things to do and learn when you own a house. Most projects require things like paint, wood, hammers, pipes, screwdrivers, drills and so on. Recently, though, I embarked on a project involving home networking and attempting save as much money as I could.

My dilemma was as follows. When Dena and I moved into our house last month, Rogers was ready to move our digital cable TV and broadband Internet service on the day after our closing date. On the basement floor is a room that we designated as the office. Yet the ceiling downstairs is finished and we have no drop ceilings either. The cable’s point of entry was into the only room downstairs without a finished ceiling – the laundry room. Running coax or Ethernet cable from the laundry room to the office sight unseen was impossible. So I left the cable modem in the laundry room, hooked it up to my Linksys BEFSX41 router and then plugged my Linksys WAP54G into the router. My Inspiron 6400 laptop was ok to use the wireless connection, but my poor desktop in the office had no Internet/network connectivity. I didn’t want to resort to purchasing a PCI wireless network card or a (yuk) USB wireless adapter. What if I have other computers in that office? What if the other computers aren’t running Windows and drivers for other operating systems are scarce? What if they’re not computers at all, but perhaps something else like a NAS device. What I need is a device to bridge the wireless connection in the laundry room to the office. What I need is a (appropriately named) network bridge. There are wireless bridges available, such as the Linksys WET54G, but they’ll damage your wallet to the tune of over $100.

Enter DD-WRT; a Linux-based 3rd-party firmware that’s compatible with several wireless routers. One such router is the nearly ubiquitous Linksys WRT54G. I used DD-WRT on the WRT54G in Dena’s office at work to correct some sync and transmit power issues that were caused by a multitude of interfering wireless networks in the vicinity – it allowed me to changes settings that the Linksys firmware didn’t make available. So I picked up a shiny new WRT54G from Futureshop for a mere $50. I flashed the WRT54Gs firmware with DD-WRT, which makes me ineligible for support from Linksys and voids its warranty, but it’s the price to pay for turning a wireless router into a wireless bridge on the cheap. 🙂 Here’s what the network layout in my house looks like now:

my home network layout

Since the WRT54G includes a built-in 4-port switch, I can plug other devices in like another desktop/laptop, NAS device or even another switch. DD-WRT gets two thumbs way up from me. Once the 802.11n standard is ready to go and I can buy compliant access points and routers, hopefully DD-WRT will be able to help me build another bridge 🙂

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