January 26, 2006

Robot... of AWESOME

     So I've been working on robotics team instead of tech crew this quarter, and that means that basically I'm the head programmer/electrical board guy. So this year, the hardware crew actually built us a testbed (a robot that is basically four wheels, only two of which are powered, and leaves the rest up to us), which means that as we develop the code for the main robot we can put it to test immediately and make sure it works. This also means that we get to write a lot of really awesome code that does something COMPLETELY worthless to the final robot, but looks cool. We took some video of the robot chasing down a green light sitting on top of a wheely-chair so that we could pull it away and do all sorts of cool stuff. The full video is around five minutes long and mostly includes us watching it try and center desparately on really crappy wheels. Unfortunately being five minutes long also makes it a hundred plus megabytes to download. As good as my bandwidth may be with powweb, that means that, at most, only seventy downloads would make it through before my server would decide to shut down for bandwidth reasons. So I'll write a script that allows, at most, ten downloads of the file (per day) before turning off, thus limiting bandwidth consumption to one gig daily. Trust me, that's a lot. Anyway It'll probably be up sometime tomorrow. The folder that the videos are in is password protected, so don't bother trying to download it, only I have access.

Posted by Kickmyassman at 11:58 PM | Comments (3)

January 25, 2006

First flash film

Posted by Kickmyassman at 07:40 AM | Comments (0)

January 22, 2006

Bush is stopped by google

     So Bush decided to attempt to revive an online pornography act. Google refused to provide any information despite the court subpoena because it was a request that infringed so far on civil-liberties that it hurts.

Taken from here:
     The Bush administration, seeking to revive an online-pornography law struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court, has subpoenaed Google for details on what users have been looking for on its popular search engine.
     Google has refused to comply with the subpoena, and on Wednesday the Bush administration asked a San Jose, Calif., federal judge to force the company to do so.
     Federal investigators already have obtained potentially billions of Internet search requests made by users of major Web sites run by Microsoft, Yahoo! and America Online, which all complied with the government request, issued in August, a Justice Department official said Thursday.
     The subpoena asks for a broad range of material from Google's databases, including 1 million random Web addresses and records of all Google searches from any one-week period, the Justice Department said.
     Although the data do not include users' names or computer addresses, the disclosure alarmed civil-liberties advocates who fear the government may follow with requests for such information.
     A Justice Department spokesman said Thursday that the government was not interested in ferreting out names — only in determining search trends as part of its efforts to regulate online pornography. But the search-engine subpoenas come amid broader concerns over how much information the government collects and how that data are used.
     Congress is debating an extension of the Patriot Act, which dramatically expanded the government's ability to obtain private data. And congressional hearings are expected soon on the legality of a secret National Security Agency program to track communications by U.S. citizens without previous court approval.
     "My understanding is we were seeking what keywords are put in and URLs," Justice Department spokesman Charles Miller said Thursday. "Nothing personal."
     The other search engines disclosed the information after narrowing the government's original request for two months' worth of searches to one week's worth. The week was not specified.
     A Microsoft spokesman said the company complied with the request "in a way that ensured we also protected the privacy of our customers. We were able to share aggregated query data ... that did not include any personally identifiable information."
     Yahoo! also said it provided no personally identifiable information.
     "We are rigorous defenders of our users' privacy," Yahoo! spokeswoman Mary Osako said. "We did not provide any personal information in response to the Department of Justice's subpoena. In our opinion, this is not a privacy issue."
     AOL spokesman Andrew Weinstein said the company initially rebuffed the Justice Department's requests and eventually provided "an aggregated and anonymous list of search terms. ... What we gave them was something that was extremely limited, didn't have any privacy implications and is fairly common data."
     Google, though, said the words in a single text query could lead the government to a searcher's identity. "One can envision scenarios where queries alone could reveal identifying information," the company wrote in a letter objecting to the demand.
     "Their demand for information overreaches," said Nicole Wong, Google's associate general counsel. "We had lengthy discussions with them to try to resolve this, but were not able to and we intend to resist their motion vigorously."
     More broadly, the company wrote, "Google's acceding to the request would suggest that it is willing to reveal information about those who use its services. This is not a perception that Google can accept."
     One leading search expert, who wrote "The Search: How Google and Its Rivals Rewrote the Rules of Business and Transformed Our Culture," praised Google's stance on the issue. "It's not just about this one request," John Battelle wrote in his Web journal Searchblog. "This is a major, major moment. And shame on the other engines for not standing up and fighting."
     The Justice Department issued the subpoenas as part of its effort to resurrect the 1998 Child Online Protection Act, a federal law designed to shield children from Internet pornography. A 2004 Supreme Court decision blocked the law's enforcement.
     The law required that sexually oriented commercial Web sites take steps to keep minors out, such as requiring a credit card for entry.
     The Supreme Court held that the government had failed to prove that the law's criminal penalties would protect children without unduly limiting options for adults. It sent the case back to the Philadelphia-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit for a trial that is to begin in October.
     The Justice Department said it needed the information to address a Supreme Court demand that it establish a "factual record" with which to buttress its argument that the 1998 federal law would be more effective than filtering software in preventing children from accessing adult material on the Internet.
     The government argued that the Google data would, among other things, help it to understand what Web sites people visit, estimate how much "harmful-to-minors" content may be on those sites, and gauge the effectiveness of software in screening out such material.
     "This is the latest example where the government seems to think they are entitled to get all sorts of information without providing an adequate justification," said Aden Fine, a staff attorney in the American Civil Liberties Union's New York-based national office.
     Google has the largest share of U.S. Web searches with 46 percent, according to November 2005 figures from Nielsen/Net Ratings. Yahoo! is second with 23 percent, and MSN third with 11 percent.
     According to Nielsen/NetRatings, more than 38 million people — 25 percent of U.S. Internet users — visited an adult Web site in December.
     Search engines and e-mail providers are asked for information on specific people in hundreds of cases yearly, both by law enforcement and in civil lawsuits. They generally comply, and their privacy policies warn users that data can be turned over to authorities.
     Under a section of the Patriot Act expanding the use of so-called National Security Letters, companies such as Google can be asked to turn over potentially useful data — even about people who aren't suspected of wrongdoing.
     But no previous case is known to have involved such a wide range of data.

Compiled from the Los Angeles Times, Knight Ridder Newspapers and The Washington Post

Posted by Kickmyassman at 01:58 AM | Comments (0)

Hahahaha, wow. Xbox

     So, I read a rather interesting interview with Peter Moore, the marketing head of Xbox 360. In general it seems like the marketing guy basically valiantly held that he hasn't heard nearly as much bitching as the interviewer had, and their sales seemed to say: "Fuck you guys, XBox 360 rocks." I liked the fact that he said that Kameo, even if it sucked, deserved a two or three page spread, because crappier games have recieved that treatment. His comment: "It just didn't seem up to the quality of the reviews that I've begun to expect and enjoy from the magazine over the years that I've been reading it." Rather than saying that he felt that the review was unfair, he says that the magazine (Electronic Gaming Monthly) didn't do a good job reviewing it. The part that I liked was the side interview with Bill Gates where I learned something really interesting:
"Electronic Gaming Monthly: Microsoft has lost roughly $1 billion a year on the first Xbox since it launched. Was that worth it?"
"Bill Gates: We knew going into the original Xbox that we would lose...a lot. Or you can say, invest a lot—that's the nice way to say that. And we knew the only thing we'd get out of that first generation was the learning and credibility that came with that experience. "

For Dramatic effect, a repeat: Microsoft has lost roughly $1 billion a year on the first Xbox since it launched.

Jesus Christ. I knew that Microsoft was losing bundles a day on the XBox, but a billion a year? Damn straight they're going to die off when the PS3 comes out. And good riddance. The only thing good to come out of XBox was Halo, and even then it's actually just a game for Mac, ported to the XBox.

Posted by Kickmyassman at 12:51 AM | Comments (2)

January 19, 2006

Not much for today

     So, the big server is coming along well, the big black "monster" you saw yesterday is getting transferred to a new home, and I have a questions for any of the techies out there:

Has anyone ever heard of an ethernet card that loses all ability to do DNS queries after an unexpected router shutdown? I've got an old 3Com 3SCOHO ethernet card that does exactly that: If I unplug the router, then I need to re-install the driver. Not even restarting does anything. It's really bizarre. Any ideas?

That's all for today.

Posted by Kickmyassman at 10:42 PM | Comments (0)

January 18, 2006

Kanji Server and monster computer

     Sam got a little carried away when looking at a pile of computer parts...

Note: I redrew the eyebrows because they were lost in the flash.

Anyway, the camera I have I recently discovered is on the fritz (which is really disappointing because it cost me a lot of money), and you can see it in the picture. I switched all the thumbnail images over to a new system though, so now there's anti-aliasing. Which is good.

     As for the other half of the title, I'm currently redoing my whole fedora core 3 server with fedora core 4 because I hadn't really done much of note on the old server anyway, and I wanted to install a whole bunch of other utilities (namely I wanted to have a Kanji-dict thing), and squid had crashed after some of my updates. So I thought: why not just redo it? And so I am. Look forward to kanjidict.tk I'll work to update scuzzstuff this week too.

Posted by Kickmyassman at 10:15 PM | Comments (0)

January 17, 2006

My Japan Favorites

     So, I know it's been a while since I went to japan, but it still remains not up here: What where my favorite pictures of the Japan trip? So to end all discussion and speculation before it even begins here's my selection of favorite pictures from Japan:

     So this is a shot I took of some random tiny festival that happened in Osaka. It wasn't of much note, but the story surrounding this picture is kind of cool. Basically, I was with my friend Umeki and we were sort of just standing around wondering what to do, when the man selling that fish said: "My fish is delicious, and since you guys are my first customers, I'll sell it to you for 500円! But you have to yell 'Oishii!' if you think it's delicious, otherwise I'll give you back your money." So we got some and yelled "oishii!" (translation: delicious!), yes, we felt silly, but it was good stuff. The picture is all out of focus, but it looks like it's made with pastels or something.

     So this was toward the end of the trip, my host parents took me up this big train to a remote part of Kyoto up in the mountains and then a big boat ride back down. This was right as we pulled into the train station at the top. It came out very nicely.

     So this was just on a trip back to my house after a good long wander through a couple of parks near my house. I don't look so good in it (my shoe is halfway off so it looks like I've broken my ankle and I'm looking at the camera in the wrong place), but the overall effect is cool. A couple of teenagers were down near the water, catching turtles. The threw out entire loaves of bread all crumbled up, and a little girl and the mom stood and shouted "Kame! Kame!" The mom said something along the lines of (I doubt I have the syntax for this sentence right) "Yappari kamega kuru" (Translation: "The turtles really did come after all"). It was just a nice lazy day.

     So I just liked the crazy hats on these ladies. They worked the souvenir shop at Summiyoshi taisha. A temple in tribute to the water gods.

     Just a shot of the suntower. A great big memorial to Banpaku kinen koen. Also known as the '70s expo commemoration park.

     Because killing zombies may be the best incentive to learn to type... ever. I watched the people play this game for a while and it was pretty funny. They even had civilians who would have words appear over their heads and if you accidentally typed it, you'd kill them. Not quite as interactive as the gun version, but still pretty awesome.

     So anyway, these were some of my favorite pictures from the trip, hope you enjoyed them. I'm nearly back on a daily schedule here. I'll even try and get the homestar mirror back up and on its feet.

Posted by Kickmyassman at 07:05 PM | Comments (0)

January 16, 2006

Chip's Challenge

     So here comes the exams. Tomorrow is by far the worst day of them all: AP English followed by Precalc with Analysis RL (Rapid learner). Will I pass? Will I fail? Who knows! In both classes I've gotten the same grade twice so there's not too much risk of me dropping or raising a grade, but still. In order that I have something awesome to post tomorrow I'm not going to put anything too interesting up here today, but here's something just to whet your appetites.
     It's yet another game! This one doesn't really have any requirements for your computer, but you never know how well it will run, so I won't make any claims. Chip's Challenge is its name, and gathering chips is the game. Really, that's it. There are tons and tons of websites listing the passwords to skip ahead in levels, but really, the game is just fun. Play it! Make it to the last level by your own power! BE AWESOME. Don't wimp out and use some password to skip when the going gets tough. But if you can't beat level nine, you may as well just stop there. Anyway, tomorrow I have some really cool stuff. Be sure to check it out.

Posted by Kickmyassman at 09:41 PM | Comments (0)

January 12, 2006

Tetris is back, in a convenient form of awesome

     So, my friend recently stumbled onto something awesome. Cultris. Cultris is tetris, only faster, multiplayer, and a pretty slick case. The whole thing runs under java (if you don't have Java 1.5 or above you probably can't run it), and it seems to DEMAND that you have the latest (or at least pretty new) drivers for your video card. Not that this should really be anything new for any of the "real" gamers out there, but just a heads up. Only thing I think is a real downside is that you can't play direct tcp/ip, you have to play through their server. Hasn't really been a hindrance, but it still detracts a little.
     Besides that, I haven't really got a whole lot. I've set up a server machine for a friend, and I was going to take some pictures of how awesomely I had modded the case and post them up here, but the USB ports are still out of commission and until I have something better I can't really upload pictures (yes, this also applies to my scanner). Sometime soon I'll put up my research paper on censorship (as seen through The Handmaid's Tale), but I thought it wouldn't be good for this transitional "coming back" period. I'll have something up tomorrow... I hope...

Posted by Kickmyassman at 09:19 PM | Comments (1)

January 09, 2006

Scuzzstuff updated...

     So I updated scuzzstuff. That's really pretty much all that's happened. Just lots and lots of homework. I'll be home late today, but I'll post a link to something awesome when I get home.

... I wish I had something more to say today.

So, The other day I was sent a link to a scanner playing Fer Elise. The website has taken the video off (due to bandwidth death) but I've preserved it here:
Scanjet Music!

Posted by Kickmyassman at 07:46 AM | Comments (0)

January 02, 2006

Jumping through microsoft's hoops

     For the most part I've repaired my computer (ran a good two days of drive-integrity scans followed by a whole slew of things to fix it). Turned out to have a corrupt MBR (that's master boot record for all you non-techies... not that it helps you understand what it is...), and the file allocation table was also pretty fucked up. I couldn't really figure out what caused this massive failure (I keep the drives fan cooled) up until today. I tried to set up some crappy USB camera and realized that I, through loading fail-safe defaults on my BIOS settings, had removed my built-in ethernet, usb, and a couple other things from my computer's recognition. When I tried to re-activate all of that, the moment my computer attempted to touch my front panel USB it crashed. Instantaneous restart. So I'll check the connections, but I imagine I'll just remove the whole front panel assembly; it's too much of a risk to keep on.
     While fussing with my computer's configuration, I discovered something rather annoying: If you turn off/take out too much hardware, windows requires you to reactivate it's software. WHAT?! Look, I bought a 1-2 processor license, if I decide to move my harddrive from one computer to another, what business is it of microsoft's? While certainly it does prevent people from doing stuff like duplicating harddrives with all the necessary drivers for most machines, it's just a nuisance for people who are doing a lot of work on their computer. I mean, what if I swapped out the motherboard and all the PCI cards? As long as I use the same processor, I'm only changing hardware. The hoops that I had to jump through were just stupid. The software industry is becoming too paranoid in general. But I honestly can't think of a good way to fix it.

Posted by Kickmyassman at 03:15 AM | Comments (5)