Sunday, September 20, 2015

Purity, Politics and Perfection


The word of the week is assuage.

September 14 – Pure FBook!

At last: I can customize my FBook experience safely!

Ever since I first started using FBook in the mid-2000’s, the interface has bothered me, in that there’s many ‘features’ that I’d like to just turn off… but can’t: FBook won’t let you.

Heck, you can’t even change the colour of the titlebar!

Before you say anything: yes, I know there are various apps / software scripts that will purportedly allow you to do what you want with the way FBook is presented over the web, but almost every one of those is malware or spyware some kind.

The only one that isn't is FBook Purity.


Now, I am as skeptical as the next person, but I've thoroughly checked out FBook Purity and it's legit, safe as houses, etc. I downloaded and installed it as a plug-in today on my web browser, which is how FBook Purity was designed from the outset: it doesn’t operate in any malicious way, just works as a small plugin in your browser that takes all the annoying things about FBook’s website and lets you customize them as you see fit.

You can read user reviews of the product - which is free – here, as well as check out forums discussing its safety rating. Better yet: go find out for yourself.

Me, I'm just going to bask in the novelty of a green FBook title bar for a while…


September 15 – Scifi Air Show!

Well, colour me embarrassed.

Last week, I showed my girlfriend this image of a life-sized Tie Fighter cockpit:

This isn't real, sadly

… which turned out to be a Photoshopped image, albeit a damn good one.

It was an image from ScifiAirshow.com, a small and lovely site which houses all sorts of wondrous pictures of ships that don't actually exist in the real world, presented as though they were on tour at your standard airshow where the public can poke and prod them or even kicked the tires, so to speak.

Pretty cool idea, eh?

Sadly, this is real - most ppl can't visit it. Hence: sad.

An interesting note is that while most of the images on the site are completely digital fabrications, one section is not. The Space 1999 ships housed at the Eagle Boneyard are completely real, castoffs from the show after it was canceled in the late 1970s. All the ships shown are full-sized mockups, built for filming the TV series from all angles.

This is a similar idea to the Hollywood Scifi Museum, a Kickstarter project whose initial phase should open in 2016 - it's assuredly someplace that I want to go sooner rather than later and I'll talk more about it in detail in another blog post.

For now I just want to think about climing into an X-wing’s cockpit…


September 16 – Caffeine

Cutting back on caffeine seems to be doing me some good, in odd ways.

In the last month, I've reduced my daily intake of tea from the equivalent of three XL cups at Tim Horton’s to less than one. Even that isn't quite true, as I'm not even finishing the single thermos mug of tea I bring with me in a day.

I think that's a good thing.


My stomach has certainly decided it doesn't like more than one moderately sized cup of tea in a day. When I was working midnights at MMart, I would drink up to two full pots of tea in order to keep myself awake and that did not do my stomach any good whatsoever. For several years after I had returned to the day shift, I developed an acidic stomach if I drank any more than a single XL cup of tea from Timmy’s – yuck and ouchie.

I'm no longer as groggy in the mornings when I wake up, I get tired of the same time in the afternoon every day( about 2pm ) and again around 10pm at night. Not bad at all.

However, I am waking up around 6 AM, whether I like it or not and that's proving to be a bit of the bugaboo: while I'm tired, I'm not actually falling asleep until nearly midnight most nights.

I think in the short term all just have to go to bed earlier, whether I feel like it or not and see if sleep finds me more easily. My nights in the last few weeks have been interrupted by various noises and the dark circles under my eyes - which completely vanished while I was recuperating in August - have returned with a vengeance.
Ironically, one cure for those is to hold used tea bags under your eyes for a few minutes a day…


September 17 – Voting Tools

Are you certain you want to vote for this coming federal election in Canada?

Before I go, I make sure that I know where all the parties stand on major issues and who their candidates are, in terms of political history. I'll be the first to say that I don't know nearly enough about politics in Canada to make a perfect choice, but I do know enough not to just vote blindly based on hearsay or because I liked a particular party previously.

I've often wished for some kind of tool to help this process, and this year my wish has been granted!


Isidewith.com is a free, anonymous Canadian site that quizzes you on all the current political issues, asking you to weight your answers in order of priority. The site then tells you which Canadian political party your views most lean towards. So useful!

I was quite amused to find how much I agreed with my chosen political party. After asking me dozens of questions, the site stated that I had a 94% match with one of the major political parties, not unsurprisingly the one that I plan to vote for.

One can only hope that a majority of Canadians decide to show up this year to oust Harper, to stop the sweeping stupidity and greed he has shown in his time in office.


September 18 – Nerf!

My Nerf arrived today!

A few weeks ago, I found a pair of Nerf guns on eBay that were exactly what I needed for the cosplay my girlfriend and I are planning for spring of the coming year. Today I picked up the package from the post office and this is what I found inside:


As you can see, the guns disassemble quite handily, meaning that their components can be easily adjusted to fit our cosplay needs. While I still had to order several components from other guns from eBay this week in order to fully flesh out the required parts list, I anticipate that the overall cost will be far less than buying a pair of resin kits of the pulse rifles. Here’s what I hope our end result will resemble:


After the guns had arrived, I took a little time to check out various Nerf auctions both locally and across Canada. Toronto and Vancouver had a fair bit, but overall very few Nerf guns are for sale currently, which I find puzzling as they are quite popular.

However, that popularity also means that there's a steady supply of cheap Nerf guns out there and that put the bug in my head about perhaps starting a local Nerf gaming league here. I spent a while thinking about that as I browsed this wonderful Best Of Nerf Guns list...

But, more on all that in a later post!


September 19 – Discoveries!

Today was pretty productive: I sorted, organized and condensed a whole lot of things in the apartment over the course of the afternoon, tossing out a lot of boxes and…

Wait, what's that I’ve found here?

*unrolls the poster from the back of his closet*

Whoa! I had totally forgotten that I have this:


After I had carefully unrolled the poster, I realized that it was an original theatrical print and not a reproduction! While not exceedingly rare, vintage posters of The Dark Crystal are not easy to come by nowadays, 30 years after its release. This one, if you look at the picture closely, has a release number in the bottom right corner, indicating its one of a series printed for the natural release. As well, the colors on the poster are still quite vivid, indicating that it's is likely a product of the stone lithography method of poster printing, which gives lasting results and would explain why the colors are vibrant after all these years.

I'm quite excited to have found this sitting in my closet and I do believe I recall some of the details where I got it from before moving to BC. At the time I didn't fully appreciate what a find it was, as I do now, and I'll be thinking of how best to display it here inside a protective frame.

Now I just have to find some wall space…


September 20 – DVD Captures!

At last, it works! It works!!!

For years now, I've been trying to find a digitizing solution for my somewhat sizable collection of movies and TV series on DVD and Blu-ray. It's a pain to haul out the DVD case, pop it into the player and navigate the menus, as well as fact that you can't take those same movies or TV episodes on the road to watch them wherever or whenever you want to. Given my current time restraints, it would be nice to be able to watch something in stages from both home and work. I do have that capability with my Plex media software package, but it can only play media that has already been digitized onto my home server.

Enter the result of one last Google search for a solution...

Having given up trying to find a solution for my main computer, I had the brilliant idea( if I do say so myself )of putting my somewhat-idle Windows Home Server( WHS, used mainly for backing up my other computers )to use. And… presto! A solution!

As you can see, I've been BUSY today...!

Using MyMovies on my WHS, as well as an external DVD drive, I can simply pop in a desk and walk away: the software will cleanly rip the entire disc in the space of about 30 minutes. When it's done, the disc is ejected automatically, I load another and the process repeats, saving all the data onto my WHS server neat-as-you-please and allowing me to use my main PC without interruption.

I can't emphasize enough what an incredible time-saver this is!

Seeing as I have approximately 4TB( 4,000 gigabytes ) of free space on my WHS, there's enough  for me to digitize my entire video collection with room to spare, not to mention any future additions that I might wish to make available from my server. The video quality isn't superb, but it's eminently watchable and I can always do a few things to compress the file size further or otherwise modify the video data to clean it up, if necessary.

For now, I have 21 days in the no-limit Free Trial of MyMovies to digitize much my collection as possible. Seeing as it's a completely hands-off process, I can do whatever else I like or need to while waiting for the disc to eject.

Perfection.


In spending most of my Saturday afternoon tidying things up, I managed to make both my arms ache abominably, which matched the headache which has dogged me since Friday due to the weather change. Thankfully, both problems will abate with time, so I'm hoping that by the end of the workday tomorrow - if I don't abuse my wrists, that is - I'll be back to my normal don’t-pick-up-heavy-objects-or-strain-your-arms self again. I am inordinately pleased with all the things I did get accomplished this week and while not a lot of them were writing related, enough added up to bring me a feeling of satisfaction by the time the weekend was finished.