October 2004


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Archive for October, 2004

Big Brother strikes again

Posted in Politics on October 28th, 2004

Yahoo! News reports via the AP that a store owner in St. Helens, OR was recently called upon to remove a Rubik’s cube knockoff from her shelves by a pair of agents from the Homeland Security Office.

Virginia Kice, a spokeswoman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said agents went to Pufferbelly based on a trademark infringement complaint filed in the agency’s intellectual property rights center in Washington, D.C.

“One of the things that our agency’s responsible for doing is protecting the integrity of the economy and our nation’s financial systems and obviously trademark infringement does have significant economic implications,” she said.

The copyright of the Rubik’s Cube, however, has expired, so the claim is false. As a matter of fact, items such as these have been in the market for several years now, so I’m wondering why the HS Office decided they needed to flex their muscles now. One wonders if this isn’t merely the first step in a broader campaign of control.

Your government needs to be hit upside the head with a cluebat, folks. Write your Representatives today and tell them you won’t stand for this kind of bullshit.

Farewell, poor Jack

Posted in Life on October 26th, 2004

Jack-O-Lantern, that is.

I can remember as a child carving pumpkins the week before All Hallow’s and having them last until at least the middle of the next week, but something seems amiss in the patch this year.

Pookie and I murdered a couple big orange gourds last Saturday, and when I went to light them for her today I discovered that hers was soft and growing quite a nice complement of fungus, and mine was getting soft in a couple of places. After only 3 days.

What gives? Has anyone else noticed the decline in pumpkin lifetime? Let me know…


Posted in Geekery, Humor on October 26th, 2004

In continuance of the feline theme started by Kylanath, I offer this:
Allerca | The Hypo-Allergenic Cat

From the Press Release:

The hypoallergenic cats produced by ALLERCA will allow consumers to enjoy the love and companionship of a pet without the cost, inconvenience, risk, and limited effectiveness of current allergy treatments. Clients will take delivery of the first ALLERCA kittens in 2007. The hypoallergenic cat is the first of a planned series of lifestyle pets that ALLERCA will develop over the next few years.

This reminds me of Bean Bag Cats® by Edward Winslow Bryant. The story is written as a series of emails from the R&D Dept. to the Marketing Deptartment, where they discuss the development and marketing of Bean Bag Cats®, a product just like the original model, except without legs. There would of course be a profitable accessory trade, with options such as a velcro strip so you could stick the cat to the arm of the sofa, and of course the Sani-Kat Kits® because there’s no way it could make it to the sandbox.

The story ends with “R&D: So what’s next?”
“MKTG: How do you feel about Modular Dogs®?”

Mechwarrior: Mercenaries and the MekTek patch

Posted in Reviews on October 24th, 2004

What better way to spend a Sunday afternoon than blasting your buddies to smithereens with massive weapons?

Today the boys and I sat down to a happy little fragfest in Mechwarrior: Mercenaries. The title is a stand-alone release that plays alongside Mechwarrior 4: Vengeance – you can load this game all on it’s own, or if you have any of the other MW titles installed, it will import your pilots and mech designs. (Including the Mech Pack expansions.)

The game includes the usual gamut of new mechs and new weapons over the original, and also cleans up some of the game play errors from earlier iterations of the game. Mission play is entertaining, of course, with the background story here being…oh, who am I kidding? The real reason to buy this game is to hear the sound of your pal’s bacon frying when you blast him with a PPC.

Now, to get the absolute most out of this game, you want to download the official patch from Microsoft, then go and download the unofficial patch from MekTek. These guys took it upon themselves to fix all of the little things they knew MS would never get around to, and expand the game to their own tastes. They know how to twiddle bits, and they think just like I do when it comes to this game: give me bigger, badder weapons and mechs with which to blow up my buddies.

The MekTek patch provides new maps, weapons and new mechs, as well as goes through the existing batch to fix problems with game balance. As a bonus, many of the ‘new’ mechs are just updated versions of older ones that MS retired for whatever idiocy. All are welcome additions to this favorite title, and give you a vast choice in arsenal and style. From teensy a 20-ton scout that goes 170 kph up to 100-ton behemoth weapons platforms that barely manage a jog (but carry enough firepower to level Tokyo in seconds).

Best of all, the prices of the game have dropped again. You can now go out and pick up a MW4: Vengeance / MW4: Black Knight / MW4: Mercenaries boxed set for $20 at your local retailer. For another $30, you can grab both of the Mech Pack Expansions, and the MekTek downloads are free. So, for the same price as a new-release game, you can get an entire universe of toys with which to wreak mayhem upon your friends and co-workers. If they don’t play, there are always games running on-line for you to join.

And if you ever get pummelled by Gauss Rifle rounds while you’re jump-sniping over a ridge, it was me :)

Flying Hamsters of Calontir

Posted in Geekery on October 24th, 2004

Ok, so it’s really rat-based, but it makes for a good headline if you’re familiar with the song.

A story at UF News tells how some folks at University of Florida dumped a clump of rat grey matter into a petri dish loaded with electrical connectors, and wouldn’t you know it, the whole blob grew itself into a neural network, establishing neural connections through trial-and-error, all on it’s own.

When DeMarse first puts the neurons in the dish, they look like little more than grains of sand sprinkled in water. However, individual neurons soon begin to extend microscopic lines toward each other, making connections that represent neural processes. “You see one extend a process, pull it back, extend it out – and it may do that a couple of times, just sampling who’s next to it, until over time the connectivity starts to establish itself,” he said. “(The brain is) getting its network to the point where it’s a live computation device.”

To see what this new mess of brain cells could do, they hooked it up to a desktop PC and ran a flight sim. Lo and behold, the fucking thing learned to fly a jet. In rough weather.

Now, they don’t go into tons of juicy details here, but the evil genius in me is going overtime on the possibilities.

Junk Mail

Posted in Humor on October 23rd, 2004

I was confronted with an old foe today as I opened the mailbox, something that is truly a bane to all mankind: junk mail. And not just any junk mail, but the most feared and dreaded of all unrequested mailbox-fillers…

…an AOL cd.

Before I could throw it far from me, the passcodes for the service caught my eye, and I read further. This disc grants 1099 free hours, then can be given to a friend so they may ‘enjoy’ it. The codes, however, are prophetically accurate.

The first code is for my use is “SEAMED-VITALS”, which makes sense. You would have to remove major parts of my brain before I would use this crap.

The second code is “VAPID-ASKERS”, and if that doesn’t describe someone who wants to borrow an AOL cd, I don’t know what does.

Quiz day 2

Posted in Humor on October 22nd, 2004

Which File Extension are You?

I didn’t think I was that bad… :)


Thanks to Mari for pointing this one out.

Name a CD you own that none of your friends own: Danny Elfman, “So-Lo”. Danny wanted to do a solo album, but ended up using Oingo Boingo as his band, just putting his name on it.

Name a book you own that none of your friends own: “The Tutankhamun Prophecies” by Maurice Cotterell. An entertaining bit of drivel my dad sent me.

Name a movie you own on DVD/VHS/whatever that none of your friends own: The Power Puff Girls Movie. 4-year-old daughter, wot?

Name a place that you have visited that none of your friends has: Lava Beds National Monument in Tulelake, CA.

Name something you’ve eaten that none of your friends has: If I could have named it, I’m sure I wouldn’t have eaten it. Whatever it was, it was horrid.

Name something you’ve done that none of your friends has: survived for 25 years on half a pancreas.

American 101

Posted in Humor on October 21st, 2004

Monica over at Th’ inkwell mentioned how odd it would be were she to visit friends here in the States, since she reads their emails and whatnot with an English accent in her head. For those Europeans who might stumble across this, here’s a brief look at the insanity that is American English.

American 101 continues… Read the rest of this entry »

We sucked another one in

Posted in Geekery on October 20th, 2004

BtFR, or B the Former Roomate has finally succumbed to peer pressure and got himself a blog. Being a photographer, he chose the name Aperture Settlings. Stop by and check it out!

Political Humor

Posted in Politics on October 20th, 2004

Somebody has waaaaay too much time on their hands. Luckily for us, though, they also have a knack for flash animations. This is just damn funny.