Cathode Tan - Games, Media and Geek Stuff
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Saturday, July 09, 2005

Wireless Toys

Since I got Casa de Cathode working wirelessly, it's been fun to take the old laptop around and surf and whatnot. I'm a bit disappointed in the lack of wireless toys out there though. I've got broadband flowing around this place like water and the best I've been able to find is an old Sharp Zaurus off of eBay to play with it. I guess the DS and the PSP kinda made me think that wifi hardware was becoming more mainstream and common. So I've come up with projects I might try:

Wifi Clock
I've got an atomic clock, so why not a clock which also has the weather forecast, email notification and upcoming events? An old PDA might be best jury-rigged into such a display.

Wifi Screen
I found a how-to on taking apart an old laptop and converting it into wifi picture frame. It would be nice to have something which be able to show pictures, but also have the ability to swap to a calendar. There are wifi picture frames on the market, but they run you just shy of a Tablet PC.

Wifi Phone
These are on the market, but again seem somewhat costly. I've read that you can get a bluetooth headset to talk with OSX, so I might have to try that. The Girl and I have been weighing out our phone options for some time now, since the amount we spend on landline and the cell phone seems a bit much.

Wifi Radio
Sooner or later, a Mini will probably reside with our television ... but it would also be nice to get music out in the backyard. Not sure what the best implementation of this would be just yet.

No Winners

So far, no bites on the CoG IV puzzle. More clues needed? I've been jaded by the ARG crowd who churn through this stuff like butter.

Friday, July 08, 2005

To London

Brannon, ya limey expat, if you're OK ... just send word.

Mainstream Media or Sideshow Farce?

Just read this account of how the media treats video games. Atrocious.

It confirms nearly everything I've written about how the media has worked with this topic. One-sided, shallow and reactionary. Bereft of useful information for the public. Childish and irresponsible. Do I need to go on?

We need to take this matter in our hands. Take the conversation to their parents. How to get the parents of little Jimmy to read a gaming blog, I have no idea. On Monday I'll fire the first flare to earn their trust. On Monday, Cathode Tan will post its interview with Andrew Bub, GamerDad. Hope to see you there.

Sympathy for a Wifi Pirate

Benjamin Smith III, 41, faces a pretrial hearing this month following his April arrest on charges of unauthorized access to a computer network, a third-degree felony.

Police say Smith admitted using the Wi-Fi signal from the home of Richard Dinon, who had noticed Smith sitting in an SUV outside Dinon's house using a laptop computer.
-- Man Charged With Stealing Wifi Signal []

This has been a debate raging for a while - is the usage of a someone else's wifi network a crime?

As someone who has used another's network as well as set up his own wireless network, I gotta say - there's no way this should be illegal. And here's why:

1) Every wireless router on the planet can be made to use WEP and a password. If you can't be bothered to learn how to set it up, then get the thirteen year old who lives down the block to do it for you. If you don't want to do it, then don't complain when you get uninvited guests.

The counter-analogy usually made here is "just because I leave my front door unlocked doesn't give you the right to rob me". Which is true. But we aren't talking about doors and locks here, we're talking about technology and frequencies. At some point, the owner of technology has to take responsibility for using it. If you recorded your significant other having sex and then broadcasted the results via HAM radio so that you could listen to it throughout the house - you wouldn't blame the nearby operator for listening in, would you?

Or to use a less crazy example - if my wireless phone picks up on your wireless connection, are you going to sue me for invading your privacy?

Wifi is a convenience, but it's also a security risk. That's the nature of the technology. By using that technology you're accepting both sides of the coin.

2) It's how the technology is designed. If this is a crime, then someone needs to haul my Mini off to jail. Despite having access to no less than three different wireless networks in the neighborhood, it general prefers one that isn't my own. Damn thing is like a dog which prefers someone else's lawn. Truth is, lots of wifi software is designed to surf insecure networks and pick the one of least resistence (why the Mini prefers one across the street and not under it's own desk I have no idea). Now, I'm sure there's some configuration I can continue to tinker with to get the Mini to behave, but the reason it's doing this is because those networks are insecure. Therefore, the software has absolutely no reason to believe that it shouldn't. Considering we're talking about a computer and not a dog, this shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone.

3) I'm a geek, not a social worker. I just make this statement because I know one of the responses would be "well, why don't you go to your neighbors and explain this to them?" For one thing, it's not my responsibility. If they can't get their printer to work, or can't figure out how to download Firefox or setup their new wireless router - they're on their own. I actually charge for that kind of work, and for the record - so does Best Buy. For another thing, I don't even know who to talk with. Wireless doesn't exactly have a signature I use to hunt down the owner. I live in a fairly dense neighborhood and I'm not about to start canvassing the neighborhood looking for the person who couldn't be bothered with their own network security.

Now if someone bothers to setup a proper password and then another person hacks past that to enter their network - go ahead and take 'em to court. Then at least they've used the technology responsibily and someone made an obvious malicious act to circumvent it. However if someone doesn't want to understand technology at least enough to use it without harming themselves in the process, they've got no business with it in their home.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Carnival of Gamers IV

Ode to a Geek Urn

Welcome to the fourth edition of the Carnival of Gamers. Hopefully you got your submissions in on time ... if not ... well I guess something inspires the only cow of late. Smaller crowd this time, probably thanks in large to our holiday weekend. For everyone who didn't ignore the date, this is the Poetry Slamdance Puzzle edition. I would have shortened that to just PSP, but that could cause all sorts of confusion. The puzzle is pretty simple, at least once you have the question. After that, even a fifteen year old like Mary Kate could probably riddle it out.

Enough lead. Let's get on with the show. Like all things on Cathode Tan, these are in no particular order.

Outside Looking In has a modest proposal about how Gaming Needs Gizmos.

With such a cob-webbish patience, Portico tells us all about Impatience and Interfaces.

Taking a look at a how the caged bird sings, Unfettered Blather wants us to understand the strategy behind the 360.

We get two from The Game Chair, since they have all manner of people there. From the loudest loud and darkest dark is Maggie's Thoughts on Innovation from the Darkest of Places and then Paul has the Pirates Progessive Review, which sadly does not include the pirate ghost of Maria Farber.

Poetry is a mirror which makes beautiful that which is distorted and Tony the buttonmasher looks back in his mirror and remembers the day of cranial menus.

Corvus of Man Bytes Blog has a few things to say about the social responsibility of game design, so OVETVSTATIS ueneranda custos!

Update: Belated entry by one Thom Jeffries, being a two parter on Silent Hill. However since the puzzle is all designed out ... no fancy poetry tie in for the latecomer...

That is all for now, so shine, perishing republic, and be happy. Languid, and sad, and slow, from day to day!. As for the puzzle, hopefully someone will solve it before this page rolls back into the archives. The answer is of course .... the name of some video game. The prize will be ... oh let's say you get to be King of France. The prize is enforceable anywhere but the country of France, of course.

Next carnival will be at Unfettered Blather on August 4th.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Life Size Darth Vader

This statue will play the Darth Vader theme (Imperial March) This auction's background music
Some of the famous phrases includes:
"What is thy bidding, my master"
"If you only knew the power of the dark side"
"As you wish"
"I find your lack of faith disturbing"
"You've failed me for the last time admiral"
"The force is with you"
"Join me, together we could rule the galaxy as father and son"
"I, am your father"
-- Lifesize Darth Vader STATUE No Reserve

Warning, imperial theme may play spontaneously.

Brief Moments of Claritin

Probably will be suspiciously quiet today. My allergies are simply killing me and it will be hard enough to focus on work. I've got most of the Carnival puzzle setup and will probably start drafting the main post which will take up most of my free time. If one is bored, catch up to Tony's conversation about Corvus' idea of a Roundtable. Or try to diagram that sentence - whichever thrills you.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Yet Another Carnival Reminder

Couple more days to send in your submission for the upcoming Carnival of Gamers. Remember, it's come one and come all. The Carnival seems to attract people who like to write semi-long-winded on issues, but feel free to send in the small stuff if you've got it. All you have to do is send an email to:

...with a link to the blog post you'd like to have included.

I know it might feel a bit spoilery to state this ahead of time, but I'm considering doing a puzzle with this edition. I bring that up because it will have more likelihood of happening if I get some more submissions in today rather than at the last minute.

Some Disproven Theories

...of what would happen when we struck a comet with "Impactor":

Giant Cave Worm rears head, swallows Impactor whole.

Comet Tempel I takes aim, fires back.

Dread lord Shog Nubbuth, rudely awaken from his ten thousand year slumber, swallows universe whole.

In reaction to such rudeness, comets go on strike.

Impactor knocks away just enough of Tempel's outer shell to reveal the word "VGER".

Comet's plume not brightened as it was unexpectantly made of cheese.

Sunday, July 03, 2005


We just tossed something manmade into a comet. Deep Impact was a rousing success, completing it's mission of causing a swarm of geeks to jump up and down simultaneously. The link I've got below appears to be trashed right now (edit: even is refusing connects). Right now, Florida Today seems to be doing the best coverage I can find.

There's what some hardcore science looks like:

Wireless Independence

Blogging this from the backyard, where the new wireless network is clicking in at about three bars. I had to put Windows XP over my old Xandros install on the aging Thinkpad because several makes later Xandros was still shaking it's head over the D-Link DWL-G630 card that Best Buy had on sale. Sadly, XP not only got the card talking to the network in about five minutes, but also seems to run faster.

I'm not sure how much use we have for wireless in our narrow two bedroom, but it's something I've always wanted to try. Plus, this old laptop has been pretty good to me, so it's nice to find some uses for it. Next I'll probably keep my eye out for old wifi pda's on eBay.

Your Answers, Indepedence Edition

Welcome to more answers to your keywords that I didn't have:

Not only do I not have naughty Cortana pics, that's too geeky for words.

There's a door with a question mark in Lego Star Wars? Sorry, can't help.

No torrent for GameSpace here.

The Advance Wars Dual Strike Realtime mode does, indeed, sound fab

Tekken quotes? How about "I don't have time to play games with you." Clever, huh?

It's physically impossible to get an XBox tan, so stop trying.

Tan girls, however, do exist.

I think using a World of Warcraft fembot is probably against your EULA.

According to some, we are all manchurian children.

I've researched turn based tactical engines, and honest there isn't much out there. If you want to roll your own, I think Torque 2D might be a good start, although the isometric angle there is tricky (if that's what you want).

If there isn't a Fate lightsaber mod, there should be.

You shouldn't need to unlock X-Men Legends coop mode, but you do you have to wait for the right points in the story. Fortunately, the single player only parts aren't very long.

Princess hooker?

I can't really repeat those keywords, but let's just say so you've got her legs on the mantlepiece...

When your stripper falls in battle, pour a bottle for her homeys.

Should people in stores sell kids timesplitters:future perfect with an adult? Good question. I'll just say the TS:FP is a great game, but there is some pretty disturbing imagery. One challenge has you taking a shotgun to a hoarde of psychotic, lobotomized chimps. So let that be your guide.

Do lawyers tend to be to the left of normal people? Hey, I know of one who went after a vicious public campaign to prove Janet Reno is a lesbian, so I think they come in all colors.

A badger is a fierce fighter and would make an excellent emblem.

OK, that's all for this week. Enjoy some fireworks peoples.