Archive for the 'Geekiness' Category

Desktop Gaming With Android and the MK808

I’m not a hardcore computer gamer. I never was, if we’re honest, but as I get older and busier I find myself with less and less time, energy, and interest to devote to gaming. Part of the problem is that I finish one or maybe two games a year, and another is that it seems like every time I turn around my Windows PC has become too obsolete to run any fairly recent releases. (My work computer runs Linux, and before anyone mentions WINE – it’s a little fanless dual-core Atom. Cheap, quiet, and quite power-efficient, yes… just not very good for cutting-edge Windows gaming.) And even if I want to play an older game, it seems like half the time I’ve got to sit around twiddling my thumbs for an hour or three first while Steam updates or Java updates, or something like that.

So, for the last year or two, most of my gaming has not been done on Windows at all, but on Android. I have an Android tablet, but I mostly use it as an e-reader, because I find it an ergonomic nightmare for gaming, and don’t like worrying about charging the dumb thing. (Also because I prefer to use a stylus with the tablet, and my cat has a compulsive desire to attack any fast-moving stylus he sees, alas.) That being said, though, I quite like a lot of things that the mobile gaming market has brought about: a steady supply of new games that don’t require bleeding-edge hardware, are well-suited to casual gaming of twenty minutes here or an hour there, and which don’t cost an arm and a leg. They also tend to be of modest size (in terms of megabytes), which is a blessing when you live in the ghetto and have snail-slow Internet access. (Bioshock Infinite would take close to a week to download from Steam, on my sloooooow ADSL line. I’m sure BI kicks butt, but I downloaded Kemco’s hilarious (and free) RPG Machine Knight – all 31MB of it – and was playing on Android in less than an hour. And Machine Knight hasn’t given me motion-sickness even once, whereas pretty much every 3D first-person game does, quite quickly, but that’s just me.)

Enter my $70 gaming rig – one of those oft-maligned Chinese “Android TV” sticks.
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Published in: Geekiness | on February 24th, 2014 | No Comments »

“Everybody knows. Nobody cares.”

Over a decade ago, I worked in a large bookstore. It was a mostly fun job, largely because of the people who worked there.

I’ve worked in several bookstores over the years, and one thing I’ve noticed – and one thing that a lot of people often overlook, or try to – is that, for whatever reason or reasons, LGBTQ folks tend to make up a disproportionately large majority of the staff. Possibly not true for Christian bookstores, I admit, and I’m not sure about those few dying second-hand stores, but chain bookstores aren’t exactly institutions of rigid heterosexuality, if you get what I’m saying. And the people who work there are, by and large, anything but judgmental. I mean, I spent something like three years working with a woman who was a beaver. That was just her thing. She insisted she wasn’t a furry – “Furries are people who have an animal form,” she used to say, “I’m an animal with a human form. See the difference?” – and everybody just shrugged and completely failed to care, because she was a nice person and good at her job.

Anyway, now that the stage has been set, as it were, an inspirational little story from my retail adventures in the 1990s.
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Published in: Geekiness, Meta | on May 24th, 2013 | 1 Comment »

FOIA Hell at the Department of State

In the summer of 2008, I – and others, it appears – made a FOIA request to the Department of State for a couple of pages from “Diplopedia”, the department’s internal wiki.

At the same time, I made a request for pages on the same handful of topics to the ODNI, regarding the better-known “Intellipedia” system of wikis.

The plan was to do a compare-and-contrast thing, see what the DOS wiki had to say on certain subjects compared to the wikis of the intelligence community – and Wikipedia.

Fast forward two requests, several phone calls, one administrative appeal, and more than four years, and…
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Published in: Geekiness, Security | on January 7th, 2013 | 1 Comment »

Value, in the Eye of the Beholder

It’s kind of sad, if you stop and think about it, how much history is getting destroyed these days. I’m not talking about the fad of “upcycling”, wherein all too often perfectly serviceable antiques, or at least things that are old, get – if we’re honest – ruined and turned into… uninspired objets d’art, and then listed for sale on Etsy in the hopes that there really is a sucker born every minute. (I kid. But only slightly.)

No, what really depresses me is how much history is being destroyed, these days, because of inflated precious-metal prices. Grandma’s gold wedding ring? Melt it down! Uncle Bobby’s Air Force wings, in sterling silver? Melt ‘em down! Those old salt cellars sitting in the cabinet? Melt ‘em down!

Artistic value? Historical value? Sentimental value? All subservient to the intrinsic value. Nobody cares about anything except the weight, anymore. Which is a bad thing, because as precious-metal prices have increased several-fold in the last decade or so, the market value of most old jewelry, silverware, and so on has not increased accordingly, so that a really huge number of artifacts from the last two-hundred years are worth, in many instances, the same or even less to collectors than to precious-metal refiners, which is not a terribly enviable situation, if you care about history.
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Published in: Geekiness, History | on December 31st, 2012 | 1 Comment »

Thomas Jefferson’s Mac and Cheese

Macaroni and Cheese. The name, in much of the world, conjures up a familiar image of elbow macaroni in a yellow, cheddar-y sauce. According to Wikipedia, the English-speaking world’s love of the gooey stuff owes much to President Jefferson, who encountered the dish in France in the late 1700s, and became enamored of it.

The Wikipedia article points out a recipe for macaroni and cheese in an influential 1824 cookbook, and it’s quite a simple one, at that: Macaroni, cheese, and butter.

Guess what? That’s not the original recipe for mac and cheese, as we know it. It’s almost certainly not the recipe that Jefferson enjoyed at the White House.
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Published in: Geekiness, History | on December 10th, 2012 | 3 Comments »