June 2008


I am The Cyberwolfe and these are my ramblings. All original content is protected under a Creative Commons license - always ask first.
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Archive for June, 2008

The return of the playground

Posted in Life on June 17th, 2008

This weekend Pookie and I went by her old school to check out the park next door that they were re-opening after a long bout of refurbishment. Silly me forgot to bring my new camera to take pictures, but I was absolutely astounded at what I saw:

An actual, honest-to-$Diety all-steel play structure, and not a single foam pad in sight. There are no swings, but there are these chairs that sit on threaded poles; you can theoretically spin them all the way to the top and then spin all the way back down again in a maneuver guaranteed to induce nausea. There’s also a vertically-stationary spinny thing with $Diety’s Own Frictionless Grease on the bearings, because this thing really gets moving.

The best part? The climbing walls that are bolted to the thing go all the way to the top, about 8 feet in the air. Those top bars, however, curve downward at a nice angle. So nice, in fact, that moments after I noticed them, I noticed that one of Pookie’s classmates was scooting right up them so she could perch on the top. (I noticed a moment later that her dad was 15 feet up in the tree behind me – the monkey gene runs true in that family.)

Everywhere I looked at this thing, I saw places where an uncautious child could splatter themselves all over it. The only safety feature is the three inches of bark dust on the ground.

Every where I turn, I see nothing but Nanny-State mandated warning messages (lid of my coffee cup:Warning, contents may be hot) and here I am at a playground made of solid steel with no padding that can be climbed in about 10 seconds by an 8-year-old.

I think I almost wept with joy.

Even the Romans were geeky

Posted in Life on June 13th, 2008

Our Dungeons and Dragons 4E boxed set arrived this week, and I’ve just finished the Player’s Handbook. Looks pretty good so far – I read the 2nd Edition books once and didn’t like the changes, then was kinda out of the circuit during the 3E and 3.5E days, so I can’t compare to those, but I like the way it’s changed since good ol’ AD&D. They’ve added some complications compared to the original, but streamlined it in other places.

Most impressive change: 1st-level mages and clerics are actually useful! I really like the idea of the At-Will, Encounter and Daily powers for every character. This takes away the sting of playing low-level characters who used to have just one thing.

Even better is the knowledge that even the ancient Romans were geeky – check this out.

The joys of Linux

Posted in Life on June 5th, 2008

I’ve recently been thinking about getting a digital camera for taking the occasional snapshot and posting pics of my leatherwork, and today I got assigned to do a site survey of a new client. Actually it’s a two-fold client, as the end-users hired $BigNationalMSP to handle their stuff, but $BNM doesn’t have anyone local – so they hired us at $SmallerLocalMSP to do the legwork in the event a remote session can’t fix things.

Anywho, $BNM has a 20-page survey form, and the last page says “take pictures of everything you can”, so I figured why not? Cameras have been coming down in price lately anyway, so off to the store I go.

What I got was a nice little Samsung S860, which had the two features I really wanted: Digital Image Stabilization (I’ve wobbled almost every picture I ever took with other cameras), and it takes SD memory (because I have a spare 2GB card already). It has some pretty simple controls, and a goodly number of features for taking pictures in various lighting conditions – it can even take movies. Best of all, it’s black :)

Now, the funny bit came when I decided it was time to try offloading some of the test pics I’d snapped around the house. I read the manual, and it was the usual crap for Windoze: load the driver disk, install the software, uninstall any crap I don’t want, etc. On a whim, I took it down to the garage and hooked it up to the new laptop that runs Kubuntu.

A couple seconds went by as it thought about it, and Lo and behold! A window pops up asking if I want to download pictures from the device with DigiKam. <click> and the program launches, scours the camera, and shows me a selection of the pics it found on the camera.

Poking around in the software a bit, I discovered that it has some fairly intuitive image-manipulation routines, so I don’t even have to wade through The Gimp to do a little touch-up and resize. What a relief! (The Gimp is exceedingly powerful, but also very complicated; for my needs it’s like using a bomb-pumped laser cannon to swat a gnat. Sure it looks cool, but I think I missed the target…)

So far, I like ’em both. The camera was just $100, so I should get my money’s worth and then some out of it.

Now I think I need to design a camera case for it. Where’s my pencil…