Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Chromecast X-mas

This was my big X-mas gift to myself this year: Chromecast.

I received it in the mail just two days before the holiday, after debating whether to get it.
In the end, I did because I had to pickup something else and Amazon had $5 off on it.

Now I'm not expecting a ton from Chromecast.
My main goal was having something easy and cheap for watching tv/movies without needing to hookup the laptop like I do now.
Yes, there are other options but at $35 (or $30 here), how could I not try it?
My minimal expectation was to be able to play Netflix on it using the iPhone app.

Setup was easy as expected. Plugged in HDMI on TV, plugged in USB/power cable, installed and ran setup app on laptop, (installed cast extension on laptop chrome).

After that I was able to verify it was working from the laptop chrome browser, casting a tab. This worked but it was laggy (tested Hulu non-plus). Now I didn't really expect this to be perfect, I know the Hulu plus app is ideal, but this proved it was setup and working.
(This was better after I turned the quality down to Standard in chrome cast Options, and this is on a laptop with i7 core and 16gb ram)

Next I installed the Netflix and Youtube apps on my iPhone. Of course I had to dump pics/video to free up space, and then dig up my Netflix login from KeePass.
The Netflix app worked as expected, easy TV icon to select playing on Chromecast and quality was great. (I did have the audio seem out of sync a couple times for Netflix, I paused it and then it resumed fine)
Youtube app worked similar, same TV icon to chose destination for playing, works just as easily.
Also tested the Netflix app across two different iPhones. Works for any connected on the same wifi local network.

My main comparison for the iPhone app control is the XBMC app, since both allow controlling TV content over the network. But of course XBMC allows almost any content both local and streaming (like with FreeCable plugin), but it also requires running the PC with XBMC connected to TV.

Content is really the main issue I have with Chromecast right now.
It works great with the apps (Netflix,Youtube), but there needs to be more. I've watched a ton on Netflix but content flows on and off the streaming availability (I don't get DVDs anymore). I have a few things in the Netflix queue, but more often I'm playing TV shows on Hulu or other places (on PC).

I've had Hulu Plus in the past (as a holiday gift for a few months) and it was great. I'm sure I'll get back on it at some point soon, and this would be my sweet spot for Chromecast. When TV shows are airing over normal seasons, I'm overloading my Hulu queue. Also there is Hulu Plus exclusive content like new Dr Who and other recently aired but not released shows.
But for anything not on Hulu (like CBS), I assume I'd need a specific app for that site that also supports Chromecast, which is a stretch. (if only CBS and Hulu would work together for more current airing shows - Big Bang, Elementary, Mentalist, etc).

But despite these issues, Chromecast wins for price and ease of use.
It's way cheaper than building/buying another machine dedicated to playing shows. I already have a Netflix account, iPhone, and TV with HDMI, so it was a natural fit.
Hopefully the current limitations disappear over time with an official Chromecast SDK release and future apps. But even if they don't, at least I didn't have to invest much into it.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Card Game Building

Last night I decided to look into creating custom game cards,
specifically for a few games I had been playing at work.
My goal was to make a few themed sets for New Years.

The first game I had in mind was Love Letter. After looking at other themed versions (Firefly, Star Wars, etc), I decided I wanted to theme based on the Star Wars Old Republic comics. I started lining up the card types with characters, beginning with Jarael as the Princess.
Of course I searched the interwebs for hours finding different possible images and info to use.

I downloaded Magic Set Editor and gave it a try, using the VC card style. I found only a very limited set of templates, but it was super easy to use, just plug in text and images. Printed and laminated. Quality is ok and laminating makes them harder to see, cloudy. Printer messed up and wound up with 2 black lines on the back of Jarael. I tried to fix, would be ok with solid back sleeves to cover.

Here is the final set, not too bad:

The second game I looked into making cards for was Hanobi.
I decided to go with the Star Wars theme again, had the idea to line up the colors with symbols. I was lucky to stumble across the images almost immediately.

This time i went with a different program, NanDeck. This was almost perfect, no installer this time, just an exe. And instead of form input, it's writing code to create the cards, allowing any templates. Templates are easy to share as text (or zip with images). I started from a few of the example tutorial templates.

Printed and laminated, again more printer issues. I had to reprint at least half of the pages. Some cards still ended up with thin lines on them. I'm still happy with them as a first test, though the yellow numbers are bright and need an outline or darker gold color.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Part 1: Writing Websites

This is the first in a series (I imagine) about issues in creating websites today.
Just random observations or brain dumps of what I is going on.

And of course the big news at the moment is...
It's been all of the news for a while now, since its launch at the beginning of last month.
So I've been laughing about it over all of that time, on news especially the Daily Show.

In summary, I don't think it's a big deal and I don't care a lot about the issues with the website. Well, other than entertainment.
Sure, I can see how these websites problems can be annoying and look bad, but to me it just looks like the news networks are bored and found some fresh meat to pounce on.
And with the latest comparisons of this website rollout to Katrina?! Stop. It's a website. Not a failed mission to start a space colony on Mars.

But in reality, my understanding is that 80% of the country doesn't need the website. I don't. My employer healthcare is good enough. Do I expect that the remainder of the country without health insurance (actual citizens looking for help) jumped on the website to sign up? Or do I expect that news network employees hammered the site?
Apparently there were long wait times on the rollout, it couldn't handle the load, slow at even 1K users but was expected to work for 50K and had up to 250K.

Sadly, I can tell you what I expect those numbers are not. They are not young people 20-30, especially those without a dependable job or one providing health insurance. Basically those the mandate is trying to push into having insurance. Those struggling with college debt and confused about this healthcare law. Sitting on the sidelines, waiting to be pushed or forced into action, waiting out the website storm in the news. The ones that really need a single payer health care system, because it means having to do nothing and higher taxes sound more positive than a tax penalty.
I'm just glad the mandate deadline to have health insurance has been extended farther into 2014.

Back to the site, I had a glance at it before, but tonight I was curious to see what I could gather at a longer look.
Well the page itself uses a bunch of fairly recent UI JS libraries like Bootstrap, JQuery, Backbone, Underscore. But it also loads almost 60 JS files including tons of JQuery plugins. Not that these are the cause of specific issues, I have no problem with them.
More interesting was the CreateSaml2 POST with a 200 Success but response text of "success: no". Awesome.
It gives two different feelings for the front end and back end, which makes sense given the history. Apparently these were contracted out to two different companies and then subcontracted.
I can imagine the mess involved with this project, and I'm sure it's worse than even that.
But the only lesson I get is that the government can't build websites. Should I be surprised?

I'm a dev, I know that bugs happen, so I am not at all surprised when they do.
I also have been staring at different HTTP error codes for years, since I began using the internet.
So websites are not a mystical beast.
But they can be complicated to develop, especially large scale.
Sounds like this project had changing requirements and no clear direction or project management.
And of course not enough testing, there can never be enough.

Demo Bug
With not enough testing, you can guarantee issues.
I sat through a horrible meeting today to demo work I've been loosely involved in.
And I had the pleasure of sitting through this uncomfortable and embrarrasing meeting,
seeing an error message in red up on the screen saying 500 NullPointerException.
Which just makes everyone involved look bad.
But that's how it goes sometimes. It shouldn't happen but it does.
Thankfully this isn't rolled out anywhere yet, and of course it wouldn't be like it is.

Signup Nightmare
To the extreme of website issues,
What if the individual mandate for health insurance was only a day, or even less than a day?
What if the country only had a limit of 100K slots for health insurance on Oct 1 to signup and get it super cheap?
What would that have looked like? A complete mess, yes.
It would be all over the news, and on that day the website would be swamped and would go down.
This is basically what the PAX 2014 signup was like.
Registration, especially getting hotel rooms was an online battle, not just between people but also servers. It was insane. It was sold out in less than an hour. Systems were down, and of course everyone just kept trying F5 with errors and partial page loads and trying to call in but systems were not available there either.

So building dependable websites to handle large load can be hard. Bottlenecks happen.
Not that I know any of the intricate details of these systems (I'd love to),
But I would imagine that knowing an advertised live date and number of users, with (god I so hate the word) "cloud" servers and stateless designs the flexibility exists to handle a lot of load. With Amazon, Google, whatever, scale up a ton on that first day, monitor it and adjust. At least be prepared for the onslaught that you welcomed with open arms.

Monday, November 18, 2013

TV, Doctor Who

I finally started watching Doctor Who a couple months ago and I was hooked.
I've been watching it constantly on Netflix, the newer series from Eccleston to Tennant to Smith, Rose Tyler to Martha Jones to Amy Pond.
Sadly I've almost finished series 1-6 which are the only ones available on Netflix right now.
But thankfully there are more to watch.
At first I didn't like the transition between main characters, it was jarring. But then I found I enjoyed each set of characters almost more than the last. The writing definitely got more intense.
I really enjoyed a lot of the Futuristic episodes, more than the historical. But despite my apprehension, I was always pleasantry surprised with how each episode turned out.
So yes, I'm a total fan now.

I've also started watching some of the new seasons of shows, like getting caught up on Arrow and Walking Dead.
For Arrow, I always enjoy the mix of current and island flashbacks, almost enjoying the island scenes the most. After watching s02e01, I look forward to ditching the 'Hood' name and hopefully being called Green Arrow for once.
I'm also really looking forward to seeing more DC characters mixed in. I've really liked seeing DeathStroke, Deadshot, Black Arrow. And I'm looking forward to more, just as I did watching Smallville. I really hope Roy Harper becomes Red Arrow/Speedy. But having the League of Assassins involved could always lead to a Batman cameo. One can dream.

I'm almost caught up on Walking Dead. I really liked the horde/herd in s04e03, reminded me of comics 59-60, not being able to get through/away from the mass of zombies in a car.
The safety of the prison being called into question is interesting, with the infection spreading easily with people living in close quarters, and also being trapped when zombies/walkers have invaded.
So far so good.

For others, I'm always enjoying Supernatural. I have yet to watch the latest Misfits.
Checked out Tomorrow People and Almost Human, I prefer the later I think except for one issue. Saying such a futuristic show takes place 35 years in the future (2048). With bionic/synthetic body parts like leg, android cop partners (with tons of capabilities like xray, facial recognition, blood analysis, combat, etc), and flying cars. This just feels like too much for the proposed date, I'm sure these things can happen in the future, but we are not there yet. I would have believed 2148 or 2248 better (prove me wrong, so i can see it in my lifetime).
Now don't get me wrong, I love the type of story, it fits right in with Asamov's detective Elijah Bailey and robot Daneel Olivaw.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Geek shirts

I've been searching for some new t-shirts, without spending too much money.
I found 6 dollar shirts but wasn't sure if it would be worth the money.
Sure they are cheap, but how would the quality be.
And I don't love all the designs on the site, only a handful really (Dr Who, techy).

After debating for a while, reading reviews, I went ahead and bought 5 medium shirts.
I was planning to buy 10 shirts for $50, but I was planning to pay with a $50 gift credit card and shipping put me over. So I ended up only being able to get 5 shirts, costing about $7.78 each with shipping. I did find a $10 off code, but it only ended up giving me $3 off for the number of shirts. 

I received them less than a week later. They are good quality and survived wash/dry. Only annoying thing is the tags bunch up after multiple washings, so just cut them off. The Heather color shirt is softer and feels a little bigger than the others (maybe because it's stretchier).
Altogether a good deal (especially mine were free).

Thursday, September 19, 2013

XBMC Free Cable CBS

As I've mentioned earlier, I like XBMC and the Free Cable plugin,
but it looks like the CBS python script is in a bad place right now.

It's the inevitable future of all HTML scraping code, to be broken.

Attempting to navigate to the CBS channel has a script error with:

File "...\XBMC\addons\\resources\lib\", line 66, in rootlist
AttributeError: 'NoneType' object has no attribute 'findAll'
The CBS script is looking for a specific element id (daypart_nav) for the menu to build the directory listing options using the 'a' elements under it.

But the page now redirects to with a completely different layout.
So none of the expected elements are found and thus errors.

I looked back in the Wayback Machine archive, to see the original HTML matching the current script (from a month ago).
Since the page has completely changed, the CBS script seems like it needs a major rewrite.

Fall TV shows are starting up soon, so I spent a little time trying to get it working.
So far I did some HTML tree traversal hacking in the python script and got the initial menus.

Listings of episodes are now working in this version of the script:

UPDATE 9/20:
Apparently I've missed the latest updates on the forum here.
The Free Cable scripts including are being maintained and I was able to update to another working version.
At, I grabbed, under the link for repository.xbmcplus.xbmc-plugins.
Then I just needed to Install from Zip under System - Add-ons, and then update Free Cable (replacing older).

This version includes a loading dialog instead of just hanging while loading the episode list.
But what I don't like is the episode list itself.
For one of the newer CBS shows, I see all episodes listed even though most are not able to play. This same Full Episodes list contains clips (I removed these by checking type and duration starting with 0).
And the display names include 0x0 (I avoided adding if either is 0). Which is partly a problem of where the data is coming from (not from the JSON, but from page parsing). CBS removes videos from being playable (now only through third parties) and their urls redirect back to the show's homepage. Ideally the page parsing would determine if the video is actually playable before adding to listing.

UPDATE Mar 29 2014:
Free Cable is gone, as mentioned on the Free Cable forum, it is now the USTV VoD plugin. Go grab it.

UPDATE Sept 9 2014:
I was using an old version of the xbmcplus addon repository, causing USTV VoD plugin to not be updating (stuck at version 1.0.2).
To fix VoD, I upgraded to the latest xbmcplus repo version from here:

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Mobile gaming, Dead Space

I've gotten really into mobile gaming on my iPhone,
especially the free Dead Space game.

It's good and definitely impressive for a free mobile game. 
This is the type of game I would have expected only for platform or PC not that long ago.
Great graphics and story with cut-scenes, plenty of weapons and upgrades, surprisingly long and without prompts to upgrade to continue playing. Maybe I'm just jaded from the pay-to-play mobile gaming dominating today. All in all, this game is awesome.

At first I wasn't sure about it. I wasn't used to the controls and with a limited weapon I felt helpless.
Thankfully I was on easy mode and so my health was forgiving.

I finally finished the game recently. All went smooth until the last big boss.
I had no idea what to do and found online to hit the yellow spots. After a while of that, it was over, I had won (I guess, sort of).

But then it only got better.

The second time through I kept my weapons and items. I hadn't been able to get up to 200k the first time but easily did the second time through. At the first store I picked up the heavy pulse rifle after selling peng.
Shortly after I had enough to upgrade the suit (RIG). I thought I could take the 90k best, but instead I had to get the first two 30k and 60k upgrades first.
So I had to start saving up again and late in this second run I finally had enough to get the best suit/armor.

Early in the game:

First two suit upgrades (up to level 3) and heavy pulse rifle:

Cut-scene late in the game:

Final (level 4) suit upgrade:

Monday, July 29, 2013

Comic Lover App

I just installed the Comic Book Lover app on my iphone.
I don't have a tablet but this is one of the big reasons I could see getting one, as a convenient digital comic reader. But for now, this is better than sitting at a laptop or desktop.

I was planning to use Google Drive, but when I saw how easy the FTP appeared to be, I tried that first.
Under Transfer -> FTP I found the connection settings for my phone over my wireless router, as IP and port 20000. I left the phone on this view.
In Filezilla, I connected to this IP/port and found an empty directory.
(If failing to connect, disabling and reenabling wireless on iphone seems to help)
I transferred over a test CBR file with drag/drop.
On the iphone, the "Add To Library" button was now enabled.
After clicking it, I saw the message "Finished, 1 comic added to library". Easy as that.

Under the Library, I found the comic listed as (Unknown Series). The metadata tag icon allows setting the title, series, issue #, etc.

The comic reader view looks ok, especially good in landscape view and zoomed in.
Although in this view, when turning the page, it zooms out and then back in on the next page. I don't really like the zoom out and back in, i'd rather have it stay zoomed in and just go to the top of the next page.
Otherwise, I'd say its a nice reader and definitely convenient for me.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Star Wars legacy

I finally finished the Star Wars Legacy series.
In the end, I really enjoyed it, especially how all the different story lines came together.

I wasn't quite happy with the final confrontation, a bit anti-climatic. I just expected a longer and more grueling one-on-one battle. But despite that, it was still satisfying. Especially with the tons of action leading up to it.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013


Recieved my Penny Arcade usb drive in the mail from the Downloadable Content kickstarter.
It has a flexible rubber-feel cover with the PA DLC logo.
It's 8GB and a little over half filled with:
  • 40 mp3 from the DLC archives (2006-2009)
  • 2 albums from Paul and Storm (Do You Like Star Wars and Learning Town)
  • 1 album from MC Frontalot (Favoritism)
  • 20 mp3 of PAX Q&A from almost all
  • 1 PDF of Book 3 The Warsun Prophecies (circa 2002)
  • 9 sizes of the DLC wallpaper jpg
I think I'll be busy for a while absorbing all of this material.

I've already been keeping up with the new DLC podcasts.
After Google Reader shutdown, I moved over to Feedly and I've been following my usual list of xkcd, penny arcade, table titans, trenches, and blastr. I have a few others that I check occasionally like zero punctuation, lifehacker, and slashdot.

Sunday, July 7, 2013


I usually use XBMC on a PC hooked up to the TV with HDMI, usually for streaming or local TV shows.
But with the lull over the summer, I'm popping in a few DVDs from the library.

My first impression with XBMC playing DVDs was
  'Great, a new menu option just appeared to watch DVDs'
and my second impression was
  'This is so slow and choppy it's unwatchable'.

After some internets searching I stumbled across this XBMC forum.
And the solution of changing the audio settings also worked for me.

I had Audio Output set at HDMI and it needed to be Analog.
I did also set the Audio output device to WASAPI - HDMI.

All was well with the world again.
Well other than the fact that I ended up playing DVDs on the PC because the DVD player is only pushing sound and not video.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Latest Distractions

Got back to reading more of the Star Wars Legacy comics, finished volume 8.
I've had this on hold for months at the library and didn't get it shipped until I cancelled and re-requested.
Now back to waiting for the remaining issues in the series.

I also finished the Blackest Night hardcover collection, which was just awesome.
Zombified and revived characters, spectrums of rings/corps including black and white lanterns, and well tons of characters.

Gaming on my iphone with Dead Ahead. Outrun and shoot zombies on a scooter.
I'm working on rank 15 savior and just did 18,440m on bridge/nightmare location.
I'm was using just the upgraded super scooter, except for the one challenge i needed to use the quad. Same thing with always using the grenade launcher except for rank challenges where i need to use others (like submachine). The double ammo and fast reload definitely help along with the 2nd chance.

Finished getting caught up in Game of Thrones, Being Human and Californication.
Now watching Defiance on Hulu and starting into Arrow.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Amazon EC2, Bash, Python, Cloud-Init

I've been messing with Amazon Free Tier services,
spinning up a t1 micro EC2 instance using the Amazon AMI and dumping files in S3.

Originally I was writing up some bash deployment scripts, but today I rewrote that in Python (using the 2.6 version on the AMI). And I tested out running this Python script on startup using cloud-init and pulling the latest version of the script from S3.
This involved setting a bash script as User Data that would download the python script from S3 (aws s3 get-object) and run it as a specific user (with su and -c).

I'm not much of a Python programmer, so I ended up needed to read through the docs a lot, and then re-read through them for the older 2.6 version.

I had intended to use subprocess.check_output, but when this wasn't available I had to switch back to subprocess.Popen. I also found out that the recommendation of sending in a string command (instead of array) for shell=True is more of a requirement.

Although I'm sure the Amazon SDK is available in Python, it's super easy to call from the shell (aws s3 get-object --bucket bname --key kname fileout). This is especially true with a S3 read access IAM role associated with the EC2 instance (so no access/secret keys are needed).

I also found out that zipfile.extractall does not preserve file permissions, so I had to reset with os.chmod.
All in all, just minor issues. And I really appreciated the error handling over writing in bash.
Not that I really got away from bash completely.

I was going to use the #include with S3 HTTP url to the py script in the user-data, until I realized I could just call the same shell Amazon SDK as a bash script. This let me customize where to install the script, setting its owner/permissions, and running it as a specific user.

Now the final hurtle was getting this script to actually run on every boot, which was not the case at first. When I would stop/start the instance, nothing happened.
My impression was that cloud-init was supposed to handle this, parsing the user-data and running scripts there.
I tried to wade through the documentation on cloud-init, but really was getting nowhere until I traced back from the /etc/init.d/cloud-init* scripts.


How I got Cloud-Init to run User-Data on every startup:

First I changed the /usr/bin/cloud-init, changing "once-per-instance" to "always" for "consume_userdata".
This didn't work until I noticed the file at /var/lib/cloud/sem/consume_userdata.<instance>. Once I removed that file and restarted, it was recreated with the .always extension.
This at least caused my user-data to be downloaded as a script and stored in the new scripts dir in /var/lib/cloud/data,
But still it wasn't run.
I also had to edit /etc/init.d/cloud-init-user-scripts, again changing "once-per-instance" to "always" but this time for /usr/bin/cloud-init-run-module and user-scripts.
And removed /var/lib/cloud/sem/user-scripts.<instance>.
Finally after stop/start, my Python script was downloaded from S3 and run on startup. Deploy success!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013


So I was linked to this awesome song, I heard it previously playing Zombie Master.
Now it has made its way onto my phone as a ringtone.

That got me wanting to mod out the old original GameBoy I have sitting around collecting dust.
Since I'm not ready for that yet, I found this cool website PulseBoy to emulate and allow creating tunes online.

Here is my testing mp3 and the source file (for reloading and editing).
It exports as wav, I just made the mp3 using a really old version of Cool Edit Pro I had lying around.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

DC IPhone Game

I'm hooked on the Injustice: Gods Among Us game for IPhone.
I know I look like a madman playing it, furiously tapping the screen, as I was earlier at a craft fair.
It's free to play, a pretty simple matchup fighting game.
Starts off as 3 vs 3 for various DC comics characters.
I have Green Lantern, Sinestro, Nightwing, Catwoman, and Cyborg so far.
At levels between 10 and 13.
And only about 30k credits so far.
I'd like to have Batman and Superman, but I don't feel like dropping the $20-50 to have enough credits for them.
If I played long enough, I should build up enough credits, but that sounds like a while.
Looks like the game is really popular right now, and is making some good money on the style of pay system.
Can't argue that it's fun and well done, nice graphics and released on a variety of platforms (except Android).
I never imagined I'd be gaming so much on my phone, but that changed with SpaceTeam and now this.

UPDATE 4/23:
So my continued playing finally paid off with about the best outcome I could have hoped.
I've been playing a few of the same rounds over, building up my credits and experience.
Then I finally went back and finished the first bonus round.
I'd skipped it once I saw the health on Grundy was too much for me (when teamed up with two other chars).
But I came back and won, getting a bunch of credits (7K) in the process.
It also gave me a new card, the Flash.
I played a few rounds, building up experience for Flash and the remaining credits I needed.
Then I had enough to get the daily discounted Gold booster pack for 75K.
Which gave me one of my top Gold picks of Batman!

UPDATE 4/29:
Picked up my second 25% off (75k) Gold pack today, got Wonder Woman. Not my top pick (I agree her model looks weird). But still a Justice Leaguer, and she can help me advance through the 2nd level. Would be good if I ended up getting Superman as a third. Now to level her up first, which should go fast. Batman is on level 19 now.
NOTE: I had to restart the app to have the discounted Gold pack option reappear.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Highs and Lows of being a Developer

As happens at any job, things change and quite unexpectedly at times.

For most of the last year I've enjoyed working with a great group of developers on a project I enjoy.
It was the best I could ask for.
A complete rewrite of an aged and troubled application. It was a frankenstein mix of technologies and libraries from partial rewrites over the years, being handed down among devs.
Finally, it was being given the time needed to move in the right direction. To cut out the sections of code that were unused or little understood or simply caused problems.
To dig inside it and understand it all, to be able to rewrite almost every line of code.
In the process, fixing tons of bugs just by doing things right.
Sure there were hacks needed here and there, but at least it was maintainable and consistent. It was a foundation for the future, using new technologies.
And we had worked through almost every issue (some were grueling) to finally get within a month of our release.
It felt good, it was fun, it was exciting.

But then about a month ago, the edict comes down from high in the chain.
The current work is on hold indefinitely, the team is moving to a different department, and we are losing team members who are staying behind.
This was the result of merging two teams who were working on the same website but managed separately for the last year (and hoping to align goals/schedules and avoid wasted work).
It hurt. I understand the goal and it may be the right decision, but that was hard, really hard.
And at the time I didn't understand it technically (I may not still either).
It has taken me a while to cope with the loss, I probably still am.
But it's how the pieces had to fall, with politics and all.
Decisions are easy to make from that high level, ignoring the details.
In this case, that's the only way to correct a mistake from the start.
The teams never should have been separate, so one of them had to move.
Really it all comes down to marketing and the power involved. That can give a new project with potential possibilities more power than an existing in-heavy-use aged system (even if the existing system was about to be reconstructed as a new foundation for everything, which doesn't matter, that's too technical).

So quite a fall.
From being so close to releasing a proud achievement. No, it was no perfect and it would have been months of bug fixes, but I would have been happy to work on those. And happy to work on any new features to follow.
To now being in a limbo state, a code purgatory at the moment. Unsure what is to come.
For now, back working on the legacy system, fixing defects that were already fixed in the newer code.
And trying not to think of the dream that drifted away. Letting go.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Star Wars Reading

Finished reading Revan (Star Wars: The Old Republic)
This is mostly about Revan post-Sith, trying to remember after having his memory wiped by the Jedi, and trying to understand his visions for impending danger hiding out on another world.
Started slow but once it got going, I flew through it in a few days.
It's mostly two parallel stories, Jedi Revan and Sith Lord Scourge and their eventually meeting and story merging relating to the Sith Emperor.
I didn't know where it was going to end, so I was surprised.
Glad to know some of this story continues into the SWTOR game.

I also picked up the Old Republic comics related to the SWTOR game.
First one look okay, but art in second comic looks horrible. Can't stand to look at the faces, they all look the same.

Continuting Legacy, still good.

and finishing Knights of Old Republic.
I really liked the Zayne story, but not so much the Jarael second half.
But the ending was great, as it should have.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

XBMC Free Cable

I really like XBMC and especially the Free Cable plugin.
Most tv stations have deals with Hulu so I watch a bunch there, but CBS doesn't.
So I've used the Free Cable plugin to catch those shows.

Until recently when it stopped working.
The menu options were empty for those shows.
Thats the problem with web scraping code, it can break whenever the website changes.
I was at a loss util I stumbled upon this forum, which is just awesome.
There was a fix posted within the last 2 days.

It included a pastebin with replacement python code for
I reviewed it a bit (here's a good motivator to learning python better).
I gave it a try, replacing my file in appdata/XBMC/addons/,
and it worked!
I can see the episodes list again and watch shows.
So much better than trying to view them on the CBS site.
I'm not sure exactly why but it's better quality, plays smoother, and no commercials. Pretty amazing.

But even Hulu was having problems today.
Twice while I was trying to watch a show on Hulu, I was bumped to its 404 page. Random.
Oh the woes of internets tv. first world problems.

UPDATE 4/18:
Another fix to replace the with another pastebin from same forum, and back to working again.

UPDATE 4/27: 
Again, another pastebin from the same forum to replace Fixed viewing shows.

UPDATE 9/19:
I haven't seen a new script yet and the latest one I have is broken since the CBS site changes. I decided to hack up the script myself, more details here.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Old Republic Gaming

So after finishing a couple more Knights of the old Republic comics from the library,

I saw an ad for the free-to-play Star Wars Old Republic game.
It's been out for a while but recently became a free play model. The Bioware story is interesting.

So I downloaded it. Well just the installer at first.
And then I waited and waited and waited for all the content to download (took over a day, almost 20 Gigs averaging around 500K/s).
Annoying that its not on Steam since most of my games are.

First thing to notice is the awesome content integrated into the game including the movies and music, especially the intro clip for each character type. That made me feel a little better about the long download time.

First I started out my character as a Sith bounty hunter. I started a mission but in the middle of combat it had an error and crashed (must have been a fluke since it hasn't happened since).

So I decided to start fresh. I wasn't really digging the bounty hunter anyway. I couldn't feel the purpose for the missions.
So for the second character I went with a Jedi Knight. And after flipping through a bunch, picked out a random name. After another cool intro movie, I was on Tython, fighting against flesh raiders, traveling to the Jedi temple, and especially trying to get myself a damn real lightsaber.

For controls, I wasn't really enjoying them at first, felt a bit like Second Life except with story/movies and character progress and a purpose. I don't see a way to change the key bindings and there is no strafing (but I can recreate it with moving left/right and holding the mouse button for the camera angle).

Another weirdness was that the characters are tied to a server. Took me a few tries of logging in and not finding my characters (being prompted to create a new one) before it hit me.

UPDATE (4/3):
Finally made it to level 10 and built my lightsaber, then traveled off world to Coruscant.
This level was the first time i saw reasons for subscribing, to level up faster and have more freedom to travel. I'm sure there are other reasons as well.
I've really enjoyed the game so far using just the free play and i think it would be worth paying for. There's a lot of effort and details put into the game.
I've commented about the videos before, but also the story and character building/skills and environment deserve praise. It really feels big especially now that i'm moving between planets.
It's definitely been successful consuming a ton of my time lately. I'm hooked.

UPDATE (4/10):
Went to go play for a short bit, but there's a content update of 2+ gigs.
I'll just leave it overnight, it'll be as slow as the original download.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Star Wars comics

Still really digging my Star wars comic reading from the library.
continuing the Legacy and Knights of the old Republic issues.

Friday, February 15, 2013

AngularJS & i18next, IE

As I mentioned earlier, to be continued...

And so here I am to fully revoke my earlier rant about Javascript Frameworks.
Since I am working with two that I enjoy at the moment: AngularJS and i18next.

I especially enjoyed them once they were integrated using an i18n directive in Angular (SEE BELOW), so it would automatically handle the data-i18n attribute (with a $watch for locale changes).
And created a few custom Maven plugins/tools to handle creating the i18n JSON data per locale.

My favorite aspect is that I was able to recently submit a defect to i18next and have it fixed within hours.
These are both development communities I'd love to contribute to, if I only had the time.

My least favorite is trying to get AngularJS to work with IE7 or really any IE version. I found a solution from trial/error and reading comments (add ng-app id/class, add json2 for http/resource).
Or rather trying to do anything in IE ever.
Seriously, just for example, printing in IE goes and re-requests resources but only sends session cookies, so printing can mess up when these requests return different responses.
Or how about trying to use a select option with handlebar replacement variables under an Angular ng-switch rendering fine except for in IE.
And back button and history not working in IE7 or compat view.
There are really too many to name, I can't keep track.

Although the worst so far was not being able to upgrade to Angular 1.0.4, although I don't blame Angular (yet) and still assume its something wrong on our app.

But ignoring the minor issues, it's great to have frameworks providing the needed UI functionality and ease of deploy/changes. And still falling back on JQuery when needed.

I've added some examples for the approach used to combine AngularJS, i18next and JQuery.
I'm sure this will all be outdated quickly, JS libraries are always changing (versions used were roughly AngularJS 1.0.1-1.0.3 and i18next 1.5.10-1.6.0 with a bugfix in 1.6.1pre).
The i18next init was done in the app run, so it would already be setup with the needed options/defaults.

This directive was added to allow AngularJS to process the data-i18n attribute supported by i18next, and avoid manually calling $.i18n. Also catches changes in the rootScope field 'locale', used with $.i18n.setLng, to update the i18n text.

angular.module('appname').directive('i18n', function () {
    return {
        link: function(scope, element, attrs) {
            scope.$watch('locale', function(newValue, oldValue) {
                if( newValue !== oldValue ) {
            }, true);

This directive allows handling the i18next data-i18n attribute in HTML such as:

<div data-i18n="page.key"></div>

That could handle 90% of cases. But if you need to have parameters replaced in the text, an app function could be used:

$rootScope.i18n = function(key,options) {
  return $.i18n.t(key,options);

This function can be used to replace the parameter {0} in the text (when interpolationPrefix/Suffix are the curly brackets in i18next options):

<div>{{i18n("page.key", {"0": obj.field})}}</div>

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Batman Rises

finally saw dark knight rises
i really enjoyed it (no surprise, well deserving of the 94+% rotten tomatoes rating)

i think it's a perfect companion to the novel i finished reading earlier, no mans land
with many of the same elements:
batman is out of commission for a while, giving up
gotham city is condemed
the city is a mess and controlled by criminals who are let loose from the prison
a small group of cops are still fighting for the city on their own
batman symbols on the buildings (as a symbol of hope)

but the film is different and much worse is many other ways.
it should really be called batman: no hope
since he really loses everything and gotham is destroyed
instead of an earthquake as in the novel, it is bane kidnapping the city with a nuclear bomb and sealing it off with explosives
batman is almost always one step ahead in the book, and almost always ten steps behind in the movie
batman/bruce's own money and machinery is used against the city
bane is actually quite civil in the book, only playing his small role, he is far from the worst
batman has a lot more help in the book, those who can almost match him (nightwing, robin, batgirl), while the film does have catwoman and not-yet-robin?

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Trek Catchup

i really like the bbc sherlock and i've been catching up with the few episodes there are (like s02e02).

when i heard about the new star trek into darkness possibly featuring the star (cumberbatch) as khan.

so of course today i caught up on my khan-ness.
i watched the original star trek season 1 space seed episode (on hulu, remastered).
and then watched star trek 2 wrath of khan.

then i also heard he could be playing gary mitchell instead,
so i checked out that episode on hulu as well.
between the two i'd vote for this.
it seems to make more sense, with a few scenes matching: the blond on the bridge, gary in the cell.
gary is definitely more dangerous, since he seems almost invincible and can reshape matter on his own (more than khan with genesis)

interesting is the similarities in the characters khan and gary.
both augmented humans in some way.
and both could say they can do "everything" better than kirk.

whether he ends up playing khan or gary or neither, the movie looks great from the trailer.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Batman Animated Beginning, Reading

Just watched batman year one on netflix
awesome beginning stories for batman and gordon
it's really about batman, gordon, and gotham all meeting each other for the first time
and kicking each other's ass until they find their place
well done, i liked the graphics
only downside is how abruptly it ends, making you want more
it stops just short of actually seeing gordon and batman working together

continuing my earlier reading post and somewhat related...

Earlier this week I finished the batman novel, it was good
At first, i thought it was strange to read a book about batman but read nothing about him for the first 1/4 of the book, but it was part of the story
i liked the characters and there were plenty, the story actually feels like a collection of related stories (most likely because it is based on the series of comics)
i thought it was strange to bring in lex luthor but he works as a counter balance to bruce wayne in terms of power/resources (especially in gotham),
also lex is most likely explained through the comics (which included superman)
while reading, i was always waiting for the big bad moments to come, expecting the worst
and i knew there would be a sucker punch at the end,
and there it was right down to the wire in the last few pages

Also in reading,
I started and finished the second volume star wars comic in the series

i'm not a fan of the changing artists and having to adjust to characters new appearance
But after i did, i still enjoyed the story
now waiting for the next 2 to arrive

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Zombie Cinema and Gaming

I saw Warm Bodies at the theater yesterday
sounds like an aweful or cheesy story from the title and even from the description as a zombie love story
it's apparently based on a novel of the same name which sounds very similar in its summary to the film
but i was pleasantly surprised, i really ended up enjoying it
especially the internal monologue at the beginning
it was really funny, i would totally watch it again
the big baddies (bonies) in the movie look a lot like immolators from zombie master, fast blackened skeletal zombies except not on fire

In related news, zombie gaming over the weekend
mostly zombie multiplayers with headset on steam: left4dead, zombie master, killing floor
zm is still awesome for being a dated game with few servers and players, and maps focused little on zombies and more on random challenges and traps
i was surprised to realize i actually like killing floor now. i disliked it initially from being tough and dying, which still happens on single player, but multi is fun,
even with team killers, and mods killing team killers, even accidental (hey don't walk right in front of my spray haha).

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Goodbye Fringe

Well I just finished watching the finale of Fringe.
They were right, it was emotional and had me choking/tearing up at the end.
I'm really going to miss it.
I think it'd be great to have a movie. Even if it didn't include the same characters or was only about the red side or the observers. There are so many possibilities.
But of course it wouldn't be the same without Peter, Olivia, Walter and Astrid. I can hope.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Horror Spin

Saw Cabin in the Woods finally.
It was better than expected.
I really liked the plot.
Definitely a different take on horror.
Almost as a way to explain every horror film ever made, as this larger goal.
Very cool to see the cube-like underground facility filled with monsters.
Watching the film did make me wonder who I was rooting for.
So I especially liked the ending which could have gone either way.

Even the credits were great with nine inch nails 'last'.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

New Reading

Picked up some new reading from the library
Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic, volume 1 comic
Batman No Man's Land, the novel

I flew through the star wars comic
planning to read as many more as i can get my hands on
Now digging into the batman novel