OK, I’ve finally join the masses of gamers who have finished Portal. Color me very impressed. I started playing it because I understood it to be a first-person puzzler. I stopped around level 14 to play other games, but after reading high praise from so many other sources I finally came back and finished it today. The last 3-4 levels are just brilliant, and the gameplay portion after the last real level was very, very impressive. As so many others have done, I’ll pass on giving away the ending completely for those that haven’t finished it. I do recommend you finish it if you have the Orange Box and haven’t completed Portal yet.

Once I finished, I started looking at what others had to say about the game. This lead to stumbling on some YouTube Portal videos that are just great. Below the break, I’ll pop out a couple I really like. They are speed runs of some of the tougher or more puzzlish parts near the end.

Continue reading “Portal”

Genital piercing to protect virtue?

On one side of the story, we have the daughter who claims her genitals were forcibly pierced by her mother to “make it uncomfortable to have sex.” The mother says the girl agreed to the piercing to help rebuild trust.

Prosecutor Steve Maresca said the mother called on a friend to shave the girl’s head and do the piercing after realizing that she had been having sex, including with the mother’s boyfriend.

Wait a minute. I think I see the real problem here. All this over a boyfriend? Clearly the daughter is a dirty little whorish Lolita, trying to steal the love-toy away from frigid and impersonal mama. Mama should just say “No” to the boyfriend a little less often and he’ll be less tempted by the younger tramp. That, or just get her in bed for an especially nasty threesome.

As a bonus, I caught this advertisement with the story, which has the headline “Girl: Mom forced genitalia piercing”


And I know it can happen – I just hope forced genital piercing doesn’t happen all that often. I couldn’t help but laugh at the close proximity of the ad and headline.

[tags]Genitalia, Forced piercing, Dirty little whore, Frigid, Lolita, It could happen[/tags]

GIMP finally hits 2.4

If you are into heavy-duty image editing, but can’t afford Photoshop, you are probably already familiar with GIMP, and already know version 2.4 was release last week. If you didn’t know that, well now you do, and you can head over to the GIMP website for the download. In honor of the release, the GIMP team has updated the website with a cool new look, too.

Developers, artists and user interface designers from all over the world worked together to make GIMP more powerful and easier to use than ever. The changes from version 2.2 are too numerous to list here, please check the Release Notes to get an overview.

If you want to try out GIMP, but can’t or don’t want to install it just yet, you could also try out GIMP portable from the PortableApps collection. The version there is not yet updated to 2.4, but it will be soon. This is actually how I run GIMP on most systems where I use it. It’s just so convenient to use it from a USB key or to copy a single directory to a local hard drive and run it. I’m getting really used to just running everything portable that I can.

One last bit of advice. While GIMP is powerful, it can be a little tough to grok the interface. I highly recommend Akkana Peck’s Beginning GIMP book. It makes easing into the program so simple, and exposes the power of GIMP early. I have no idea why it is out of stock everywhere, but I assure you it is worth having if you plan on working with GIMP. For more details on it, check out the book website the author’s web site or the book detail page at Apress (where you can buy the ebook version) for possible help tracking it down.

[tags]GIMP, Graphics, Image manipulation, PortableApps, Portable Apps[/tags]

Get your television fix online

I’m not someone who watches a lot of television. Typically, if I have spare time, I’d prefer to be doing something on the computer rather than sitting just watching television. Even if I do sit to watch television, I tend to have my laptop with me so I can work on other things in the downtime when I’m not focusing on the television screen. But there are a few television programs I enjoy enough to watch (although typically not when they are broadcast and usually not on the television set). Given my own viewing preferences and when I’m most likely to have time to sit and watch television, you can probably imagine how interested I was when I found this guide to alternative means of catching your favorite television programs over at LifeHacker.

It’s a good guide to six ways you can keep up-to-date on television shows when you can’t be sitting ready to watch them when they are normally scheduled. Downloading options are of course the easiest and make up the bulk of the article, but building your own digital video recorder is also mentioned. And while this list is mostly focused on free methods of viewing television, there are brief mentions in the article and in the comment of some pay-to-play options as well.

With the fall television schedule in full swing, many of us are back in the habit of plopping down in front of the tube at night to catch the latest installment of our favorite show when it’s scheduled to air. That means clearing your schedule to watch the show and then sitting in front of the TV for a whole hour just for 43 minutes’ worth of programming. That doesn’t seem very productive, does it? Luckily, this viewing season there are more ways than ever to catch the latest episodes of your best-loved shows without becoming a slave to the prime-time television schedule. So forget the fall lineup as you know it, because this year you’re going to watch TV on your terms.

There is no mention of TV Torrents (my preferred source), nor usenet downloads (I use EasyNews), so realize that there is more out there than what is covered in this brief guide. But if you aren’t already into online television options, LifeHacker does have enough to get you started. You can always use Google to search for other options once you get started.

If you are curious as to what a geek who shares my interests would watch, right now I am staying current with Heroes and House. I also like to catch Bones, Criminal Minds, and Numb3rs when I can. I’ve just finished watching the first season of Burn Notice (I absolutely love this show), and will be catching up on Dexter and Eureka soon. There are a few others I like, if you are interested, but these make up the bulk of my television viewing.

[tags]Television, LifeHacker, Download TV programs[/tags]

iPhone outselling Motorola RAZR?

Before the iPhone launched, I said I didn’t see it doing as well as Steve Jobs expected. I thought it might sell well initially, but once the early adopters had their hands on it the market would slow. Well, I believe the difference between Steve Jobs opinion and mine shows why only one of us is disgustingly rich and in charge of a tech-company growing ever more revered.

Motorola said it shipped 900,000 RAZR2s during the quarter, falling well short of Apple’s 1.12 million iPhone shipments during the same period. This, despite Apple being limited to only U.S. customers and having one carrier. Now, Motorola’s no lightweight when it comes to the mobile phone industry. Overall, the company still shipped 37.2 million phones during the quarter and managed to a snatch a worldwide marketshare of 13 percent, behind only Nokia and Samsung.

So one of the more popular phones on the market is getting outsold by the iPhone, and I’m clearly a moron in at least this aspect of reality (possibly others, but I’ll hold off on those for a while). I still don’t get the appeal of the iPhone nor understand why it is performing so well, but as I’ve said before – I want my gadgets to do one task very well rather than several tasks less well, so I’m clearly not the best to judge this trend.

[tags]iPhone, RAZR, iPhone outsells RAZR, Apple, Motorola, Apparently I’m a moron[/tags]

Glenn Beck declares conservatives hate America?!?

Since the first time I watched his show, I’ve liked Glenn Beck. Sometimes I disagree with him, but often I think a lot of what he says makes sense. So I find it exceptionally odd that Glenn would chose to say that conservatives hate America on his program.

“I think there is a handful of people who hate America,” Beck said. “Unfortunately for them, a lot of them are losing their homes in a forest fire today.”

Now of course, many folks would hear that, think “Ahhh – California is a bunch of liberal nuts” and guess Beck is talking about Democrats losing their homes. The reality is that the places hit hardest by the fires currently are California’s 49th and 50th districts, which are more in the 3/5 to 2/3 conservative range. So generally speaking, if you hear some unknown person lost their home to the fires, the safe bet is to guess the unknown person is conservative.

Furthermore, if you listen to what Beck actually says (roughly the last 30 seconds of the clip), he ends his comment saying “There are a few people that hate America, but I don’t think the Democrats are those.” So in an area that is over 60% conservative, people who are not Democrats hate America and are losing their homes.

No matter who Beck is talking about, the comment is unnecessary and idiotic. A person’s political views should never lead someone to imply they deserve bad circumstances. Sadly, rather than own up to making a stupid comment, Beck tries to explain it away as if it were some joke and that liberals are just hating on conservatives. If you can go listen to the clip linked above and explain the joke to me, I’d love to hear it. I just don’t find the funny in there.

[tags]Glenn Beck, Beck says conservatives hate America?, California fires, San Diego[/tags]

Please – kill Sylar off for good (and other chatter)

So I really got in to Heroes last season, and I’m staying up-to-date (give or take 2 days) with each weeks’ episodes this season. I was so glad last season when they finally killed of Sylar. Now I’m so disappointed that he’s back. Worst. Villain. Evar! I expect he’ll be in the show the rest of the season, but I do keep hoping they’ll kill him off soon.

On a different note – I finally got a PSP last week. I bought the Star Wars pack not realizing it didn’t have a memory card (no, I didn’t read the box – thought Daxter and Star Wars boxes had the same extras except for the Family Guy UMD and which game was packed in), so now I have a game I’m not interested in and had to buy a memory stick. Bleh on that. I did just get the new PSP Castlevania today, and it feels goooood to play it. I’ve always liked the Castlevania games, but this one is a throwback to the days of my TurboGrafx and TurboDuo systems (which, by the way, I still have and which are still functional).

This one never was released in the US, but I did eventually manage to get an image off the Internet for it that worked on my (registered) Magic Engine emulator. I never played it much then, but I’m already playing it quite a bit on my PSP. It’s tough (but not Ghost n’ Goblins, Sinistar, or Ninja Gaiden tough), but there are lots of goodies and exploring to make it worth playing. It’s certainly not a dumbed down, anyone can win game like so many are these days.

[tags]Castlevania, PSP, TurboGrafx, TurboDuo, Gaming, Heroes, Useless[/tags]

Did you know drug handedness can affect potency?

I have no idea this was something that mattered, but recently drug companies have been releasing updated versions of drugs that are spatially altered to improve effectiveness and/or minimize side-effects. This means more better you-ness, with less worser unwanted-nessitude.

This is a bit heavy: Stereoisomers are molecules that have the same chemical formula and bonds, but a different arrangement of atoms. Enantiomers are a type of stereoisomer that are mirror images of each other — just like a right hand is the mirror image of a left hand. R-stereoisomers can be thought of as “right handed” and L-stereoisomers can be thought of as “left handed”.

This is clearly an instance where the DuPont slogan rip-off “Better living through chemistry” applies. And while you are there reading about this cool drug twist (no pun intended), be sure to vote for Shelley as your favorite science blog writer.

[tags]Drugs, Handedness, Better living through chemistry[/tags]