Recently in Computers Category

New Novelty Site -

So I was bored last week during my time waiting for jury duty, so I concocted this site pretty much in about an hour or so.  Pretty simple and straightforward, learned a big about jquery and am happy with the end product.

Check it out if you want -

Action Streams I just got through installing the Action Streams plugin.  Needless to say, it didn't go as smoothly as I hoped, but it's finally done.  Had to hack together a widget for the actual Action Stream itself (showing on my main page as "Other Stuff" at the bottom of the right pane), though the template-installed "Find Authors Elsewhere" widget worked fine.

Of course, when I installed the template, it completely destroyed all my layout, and in fact wasn't even listing my last blog entries either.  So...twenty minutes of restoring the templates to the default, then setting all my styles and layouts back to how I had them, and now it seems to be working.  We'll see what happens - it doesn't seem to have caught my Facebook status update, so I'm guessing it's probably not 100% functional at this point.  We'll just have to see what happens!


I've become completely addicted to a wiki for a website that I frequent. I check it every chance that I get, to the exclusion of doing productive work. I've come to the conclusion that it feeds my obsession with minute details.

And I'm okay with all of that.


Set up a Flickr account, at the behest of some friends on a website I frequent. Interesting concept, not sure how much I'll post there, though. Especially considering how infrequently I manage to update this here website. Should probably fix that though.

If you want to see some of my pictures, check them out.

Update on my ICQ account

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Can't believe I didn't post anything about this for almost a week. Guess that's what happens when you're playing the World of Warcraft Stress Test every spare moment of your life.

Anyway, I finally got the guy who's been using my account on ICQ last Friday. He's Russian, and claims to speak no English at thanks to BabelFish I was able to engage in a conversation (if you can call it that). He claimed to have bought my account from someone (he wouldn't say who, of course), but was kind enough to offer to sell the account back to me for $30 USD. Of course, he would only accept payment through something called WebMoney, a system that I haven't heard of before - and not being one to relish the thought of sacrificing the entire contents of my bank account, I was hesitant.

But, thinking that maybe SOMEONE at ICQ might be interested in an account theft plus attempted identity theft (the guy had attempted to talk with some of my friends, but since he speaks such poor English, of course he failed miserably), I strung him along by telling him that I needed the weekend to try to create an account on WebMoney and try to get him the money.

Sent the entire log of the conversation (with translations) to ICQ on Friday -- both to the general Customer Service address, as well as a personal address that was provided to me previously by their Customer Service. And have yet to hear anything back.

So the guy's stolen my account, pretended to be me on at least one occasion, and is now extorting money from me to get my FREE ICQ number back. And ICQ will do nothing about it. Fuckers.

WTF!?!?!? My ICQ Stolen!!

About Ruslan Meet People - I get into work today after staying up until 2am trying to get my work laptop backed up so that they can image it today, due to some fucked up issue with Outlook 2003 not connecting to the server anymore, and as soon as I get in and fire up Trillian, I get an error - Cannot log in to ICQ. Failed Password.

No biggie, I think - maybe AOL did some toying with the backend code, as they're want to do on occasion. So I fire up my copy of ICQ Lite. Again - "Failed Password".

Since I can't really remember which of the 8-10 passwords that I use commonly is associated with my ICQ account, I go to their password recovery site. Type in a few email addresses that it might like, and get nothing in return. Hrmmm...that's strange.

So...I click on the "view your details" link to find out what's up. Sure enough, as soon as it opens up, there's a new name on the account, "Ruslan". Nothing else has changed - s/he's still associated with the U of WA and Alpha Phi Omega, but the name's completely changed, as I would assume are the password and email addresses associated with the account.

So, I put in a ticket with little expectation that anyone will ACTUALLY be able to do anything (it is a free service, after all, and you get what you pay for) there goes my six-digit number, that I've had since 1994 or so.

So if you see someone on ICQ signed in under UIN #897161, feel free to fuck with them something furious.


EFF wins Grokster case @ 9th Circuit

Boing Boing: EFF wins Grokster! Software doesn't have to be easy for Hollywood to wiretap!

Looks like the EFF has struck a strong blow against the RIAA and their ham-handed tactics against file-sharing networks and their users. In upholding the summary judgment ordered in favor of the EFF at the District Court level, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals stated:

"The Copyright Owners urge a re-examination of the law in the light of what they believe to be proper public policy, expanding exponentially the reach of the doctrines of contributory and vicarious copyright infringement. Not only would such a renovation conflict with binding precedent, it would be unwise. Doubtless, taking that step would satisfy the Copyright Owners’ immediate economic aims. However, it would also alter general copyright law in profound ways with unknown ultimate consequences outside the present context."

Assuming that the 9th Circuit doesn't bat its usual percentage at the Supreme Court on appeal, this ruling appears to make decentralized file-sharing systems immune from vicarious liability. Should be interesting if this gets picked up for certiorari.

Check out the opinion...


Just a quick warning for you if you by one of the new Click-Wheel iPods and an AppleCare warranty to cover your battery - you will need to call Apple to activate your coverage. Seems they haven't yet updated the automated system to recognize the serial numbers for the new iPods yet.


Real v. Apple - Who Wins?


RealNetworks Rankles Apple With Software

Seems a lot of news agencies have been putting their own spins on this news, but what it boils down to is RealNetworks using backdoor IP thievery to weasel their way into (1) the news, and (2) Apple's pocketbook.

First things first, the only reason Real had to basically hack Apples AAC file format was because they themselves do not support the universal MP3 file format that most people are familiar with and use on a regular basis to freely move files to and from their iPod. True, people who download their music from iTunes are using Apple's AAC format, but most of the people who know what they're doing immediately burn those to a CD, then extract them as MP3s, so they can do with them what they will.

At least they're not pulling a Sony here - their newest audio player supposedly does not even support MP3 playback at all, and requires files to be in Sony's (surprise!) proprietary format.

But still, Real of all people should understand that hacking into and appropriating another company's technology isn't the smartest thing to do in this day and age of RIAA lawsuits and the DMCA! So why would they intentionally and blatantly reverse-engineer the codec used by the single largest digital audio player in the market? Simple - attention. Real's been a half-assed, has-been player in the online audio market for years. Both Microsoft and Apple have handed Real defeat after defeat, and their RealAudio format, once the cutting edge of both audio and video online, now looks sad and pathetic compared to the other options out there.

Shame on you, Real...if this had been done the other way, you'd already have your lawyers in court. I really hope Apple will sue your pants off, but you'll probably just force them into a licensing agreement, now that you sprung the bombshell on the community. Real classy. Really. I mean it.

Who Wants to be a Superhero?

Okay, I finally caved and bought City of Heroes, the superhero MMORPG. Playing it has brought back some rather fond memories of the Marvel Superheroes pen & paper RPG from TSR (now WOTC, back in the day.

I must say that I've had more fun in the past week or so playing this game than I have in such a short time with any of the other MMORPGs that I've played and/or tested: Star Wars Galaxies, Horizons: Empire of Istaria, Everquest, and Ultima Online.

The only other MMORPG that I've had even close to this much fun with was Star Wars Galaxies, but that was mostly because of the combination of the setting (c'mon, what Star Wars geek can pass up the chance to run into Luke, Han, C-3PO, and Darth Vader??) and the sheer variety of non-linear character progression options. But, lacking anything even resembling a background storyline, SWG got old after a few months, and I cancelled the whole thing before I reached the 6-month period I'd originally subscribed for.

Surprisingly, I actually miss some of the crafting that I've done in other MMORPGs. City of Heroes is pretty much a fighting-oriented game (as you'd expect from a comic book-based game!), and aside from combining "Enhancements" to make them more powerful, there's nothing even resembling crafting in the game. Which is good, in that you go out, kick some ass, then kick some more ass. But it's a little limiting, in that all you can really do is kick ass and socialize.

Not sure how long the game will keep my interest - I'm having a lot of fun making different characters with different combinations of skills, and the variety of baddies to fight is so far pretty decent. They also have some pretty good storylines underlying the game itself, and are planning an expansion (City of Villains) that will introduce PvP abilities into the game. If done right, this should make CoH one of the best MMORPGs out there, particularly for those of us without 10-12 hours a day to spend playing around online (well, in a game at least).

Of course, what happens once Worlds of Warcraft finally arrives from Blizzard is anyone's guess. Given that CoH is a $15/month cost, and WoW will likely have a similar price structure, it'll eventually come down to a knock-down, drag-out fight for my MMORPG budget (which, with the new house, will be minimal)...and the idea of being a dwarven rogue/smith is pretty damned attractive to me right now.