Category Archives: Internet

Strange “tip” from Wordpress.com

My blog is currently hosted on WordPress.com.  One of the nice features is that they offer you occasional tips on how you can improve your service.  I however received a cryptic message from them today.

WordPress tip: You have uploaded 16,777,216 TB of files, exceeding your quota by 16,777,216 TB. Consider deleting some files to free up more space, or purchasing a space upgrade so you can upload more.

I didn’t know that I have been such a prolific writer!

Advertisements

Make a Micro-Cybermat – aka BristleBot

First Generation CybermatI stumbled upon a how-to article on how you can make your own micro robot. The funny thing is that the robot has an uncanny resemblance to the first generation Cybermat on Doctor Who (a creature that has yet to make a re-appearance in the new Doctor Who series).

Well it turns out that you too can build a Micro-Cybermat using a toothbrush, a watch battery, some wire, and a pager motor. I would love to see someone make a few (maybe glue on the head of a fly) and spray paint them silver for the full effect. Find out more below:

Gmail, the king of online email

Everyone by now should know about the Gmail, the free web mail service with ~4.5 GB of storage offered by Google. The amazing thing is that they keep adding more and more customer oriented features to the service.

Just recently Google added IMAP support to Gmail. This allows easy email/folder/label syncing between multiple computers and Gmail.

When you have an IMAP account, you can leave messages on the server until you would like to delete it. Additionally, if you have multiple devices / computers accessing the same account, information such which emails you have read and sent mail are synced to the server. Lastly, unlike POP3 (another standard), IMAP only needs to download a portion of the complete email. For example, it will only download the subject, until you ask to read the full email at which point Gmail will stream the email to you. This is a much desired feature allowing users to keep all of their email on a managed server and have the user experience of a desktop mail client.

I cannot carry it on my back

Early this year I met a few friends in Tokyo before they traveled on to Thailand. I found a bargain basement hotel which was clean and under $100 USD a night. This was a centrally located hotel and provided easy access to the subway.

On our last night before we left, my friend asked “Did you read the instructions on how to use the internet?” Well I didn’t, I just plugged in and it worked, but apparently there were some instructions. Some of the funniest were the disclaimer on the internet usage:

It is the instructions about the use

When it is used this system, responsibility about the following matter asks for the use on having had you understand it before because I cannot carry it on my back.

  • Malfunction, the loss that occurred when this system broke down and cannot use it for some reason
  • Malfunction of the PC which occurred during this system use

This is just 1/6th of the entire document. You can read the entire scanned document for additional tips on proper internet usage.

Cosmic Osmo being re-released for Windows, no Mac version in sight

Long before I got my first Mac I asked for the CD-ROM game Cosmic Osmo and an AppleCD drive. I ended up borrowing a friend of the family’s Mac Plus to play the game and I was hooked. You could say my love affair with apple products started with this game.

Osmo'sCosmic Osmo is a game set on exploring a surrealistic world. You start off in a strange spacecraft that can visit pre-planets ranging from a giant fish to a planet with a house on one side and a boat on the other. This game was created by Cyan, the creators of Myst and was an evolutionary step in Cyan creating Myst.

This game has no start or end and is pure exploration. Almost anything you see in this game is click able and will start a animation and music sequence.

Recently I downloaded a program called Mini VMac which lets you run old MacOS 6 programs. After booting up an old system hard drive and I opened up my Cosmic Osmo CD and booted it up. It worked, although some of the sounds were out of sync, some of the audio was scrambled and some animation was too fast.

Osmo Reading Inside a Fish

Many people have fond memories of Cosmic Osmo. It was the first CD I ever played on my Sony Diskman (the game had a music track with jazz songs from the game). I also know that my nephews in Portland played the game quite often. So what games can be compared to Cosmic Osmo? Unfortunately there arn’t any.

Myst focuses on solving puzzles, which isn’t the main focus of Cosmic Osmo. There is Leo’s Great Day, a Flash 3 game by Pepworks, but once again this is a story with a beginning and end and a few puzzles, although the animation style and game design approach seems to be similar to Cosmic Osmo. There are really no other games out there like Cosmic Osmo where you can just explore and interact with the world.

Blind Mouse Playing Cheese Piano

So if Cosmic Osmo is so great, why isn’t anyone selling it now? Well for one it was released as a B&W game just for the Macintosh using Mac only technology. There were hints at a masterpiece update to this eleven years ago from a story writeup on the creators of the game, but unfortunately there hasn’t been much progress or cash to throw at a project like this – until recently.

I happened to buy a piece of software last year that is similar to HyperCard, called Runtime Revolution. Every month or so the company that creates the software sends me a developer newsletter. Normally this goes into my special circular file called a trash can, but the last one caught my eye because it was an interview with a developer who is updating and converting Cosmic Osmo. Here are the facts I picked out of the article:

  1. This game will no longer be released as a HyperCard based game
  2. At least 90% of the original game can be ported, the other 10% will be re-created for modern operating systems
  3. All of the original sounds and music will be included in the game
  4. There is a hint at a technology advance that is available and that was not available in the original HyperCard version (I imagine this is hinting at color graphics)

There is one more point from the article. This will be released as a Windows only application – even though it is being developed and can be ported to an updated Mac version with the flip of a switch. This started out as a Mac game, and is being released on Windows even though a Mac version could be created by a flip of the switch, or as the developer puts it:

There are currently no plans to re-release a Macintosh version, though if that should change it would be trivial to recompile the main stack for OS X, which is all that would be required.

I understand the need to release this for Windows, but what about all the loyal fans who have been waiting for a re-release. This is really heartbreaking.

How do you feel about this?  Please leave your comments here for requesting a Mac version of Cosmic Osmo.

Switched to Wordpress.com

Ok, so this is the first post of 2007, and it isn’t too interesting, but I intend to get back to posting soon.  I am very busy at work, and since I don’t write about work here I don’t have much to post to the blog.

The big news is that I have moved to WordPress.com.  What does this mean?  This means I no longer need to host it myself.

Here is a quick list of the pro’s for hosting your site on WordPress.com:

  1. No host / ISP required
  2. Its free, unless you want to have a custom domain name (that only costs you 10 a year)
  3. You don’t need to install or maintain software
  4. It’s portable.  If you ever want to move to your own hosted server, you can export your blog (comments and all) and then re-import it into your own hosted solution.

There are some minor downsides – you need to watch the drive space, they only give you 50 MB, but my photos are all on Flickr, videos on Youtube and my blog is under 10 MB with over 300 posts.  Seeing that 300 posts took me 5 years – it is good enough for now.

Lastly, there is one other thing WordPress doesn’t allow – SWF/Flash files and custom JavaScript.  This is for security reasons – someone could embed bad JavaScript into a SWF file and compromise your system.  This is all good, and I can live with that.

My new skype phone


My new skype phone
Originally uploaded by James in Taiwan.

This is a great device. A phone that uses Skype to make free calls to users of Skype and 2 cent a minute calls to someone’s phone. No computer necessary. Call me anytime (as long as I am awake!)