There are two sides to every story…

…and as such, two sides of every coin.

If you missed my post about why professional IT is going down the drain, hit it up here. It’s highly recommended for what I’m about to say, because then you’ll know what I’m actually talking about.

However, it is the length of a small essay, so I’ll provide the executive summary here:
Professional IT is going down the toilet because the “professionals” aren’t – they’re mindless, spineless robots who don’t diversify themselves into many different IT fields, choosing to instead specialise (and then even barely) in one particular field, one vendor, one solution. When faced with a challenge, they recommend their one and only solution, backing away from everything they’re unfamiliar with – even if the unknown could be a far better solution than their “tried and true” solution.

BUT! There is one problem – we’re only looking at one side of the equation, coin, story. We know that the IT professionals are becoming less and less professional – but why?

Well, I have the answer.

It’s you.

It’s probably not me, but it is the people that put huge demands on their respective IT professional.

I know a person that is an awesome guy – nice to hang with, has good morals, etc – but he does work in IT. He is also damn good at his job. Over the last couple of months though, I’ve seen that even though the quality of his work hasn’t deteriorated, his attitude towards it has.

You might be asking yourself how you’re the problem. Well, end-users are now expecting so much of people in the IT industry – to me, we’re becoming an increasingly selfish culture who only see ourselves as the centre of the universe.

Everything, all the time, is about “Me, Me Me!”, and it doesn’t matter that there is a queue for services, or that there are other matters to be attended to before people can deal with your problem. People aren’t seeing the big picture – in the grand scheme of things, you don’t matter.

Maybe this is turning into a rant, but even worse is when end-users like you complain bitterly about the service you’ve received. I mean, what the hell, man! We’re trying to help you, and the thanks we get is “I iz gonna call the [insert security organisation/complaints department of choice here] on your ass!“? Thanks, but no thanks. I’d rather not serve you next time – and I’m sure my colleagues feel the same way.

Judging by the reactions of some people who have lost years of data because they [stupidly] never backed up and were “surprised” by a massive hard drive failure (it happens, trust me, it happens), then it’s no wonder professional IT is going down the drain! Seriously, calm down and while you’re thinking about your precious data that we’ve inadvertently lost, think about how it’s all your fault. These kinds of failures, while rare, can happen and are totally preventable. To this end, I’m issuing a community service announcement: back the hell up. If it’s important to you, back it up. At a bare minimum, back up anything you’ve created yourself, eg all your school documents, essays, presentations, spreadsheets. If in doubt, back it up.

I apologise. Once again, I digress. Getting back on topic, my awesome friend now has a horrible attitude towards work, and it’s all the end-users fault. I once had some other people I know consider suing some computer shop just because they lost their data – this was after they had signed a contract saying that that computer store wasn’t responsible for their data, as they shouldn’t have been. If you’re thinking of trusting your data to anyone else, even those “automated backup” software, don’t. It’s not a good idea to leave your data in someone else’ hands, much less a money grabbing company!

AH! What is with me and backups! Right, getting back on topic, again: My anonymous friend now doesn’t care. He’s completely indifferent to your continual issues with your printer, scanner, and Windows. He just doesn’t care – he’s being paid to fix your problems, but that doesn’t mean he cares.

Personally, I think that’s a rubbish attitude to have, especially in IT. Apple Genii don’t get their jobs by not wanting to help people! Sure, there is a fine difference between not caring and wanting to help. In IT, you could do your job even if you didn’t care. You could still be awesome at your job and not care. However, you wouldn’t excel at your job.

At the end of the day, it’s up to you whether you care or not.

Comments below.

Is this me?

Probably. Maybe. It definitely could be.

This post is going to be a little long, so I’ll cut out as much of the crap as I can. That being said, read on.

I was reading an article the other day on the internet. I’ll just list it here verbatim:

I make a living as a sysadmin. What does that mean, to be a sysadmin? Well, where I come from it means knowing a lot. It means knowing how to config routers and networking equipment, it means advanced firewalling, DNAT, SNAT, it means knowing how to do traffic sniffing and deciphering packet-level information, it means knowing how to build and configure common services like SMTP/IMAP/POP/mail via a dozen different pieces of software on three different families of operating systems, it means knowing how to build clusters for high availability and high performance, it means knowing when to use CIFS, NFS, SMB, GFS and when not to and what the difference is between them all, it means knowing how to configure iSCSI, fibre channel, SANs, direct and non-direct storage, it means knowing SQL and getting information out of databases, it means knowing how to program in a dozen different languages and how to script and automate events in any OS to make life easier, it means understanding authentication and security settings, how to configure any directory service from LDAP to AD to NIS, it means understanding DNS is more than just a optional addon to look up system names occasionally, it means understanding encryption, knowing what terms like Diffie Hellman, AES, SHA1 and others mean, and what parts of the encryption process they apply to, it means being able to make everything you do completely redundant and fault tolerant, right down to you own job, and it means so much more.

…snip…

Why is it that professional IT services today consist of service reps who tell you the things you are doing are untested, dangerous, unsupported, different, not usual, or a host of other words meaning they are scared shitless and unwilling to learn something new? Why is it that I spend my time building things people tell me for 6 months during build and test “will never work”, only to have them go into production and work ten times faster for one tenth the cost of the old system? Why is it that IT professionals today choose brand labels over intelligence, and post-justify it by hiding behind “board confidence” when providing a solid, working, profitable system is the best thing to boost confidence from the board?

…snip…

And every time I leave, I hear the same things. Some new guy comes in to replace me. Within days/weeks he’s broken something necessary for production, lost terabytes of data, destroyed the backup/DR/recovery systems, spent hundreds of thousands replacing something that met the businesses’ every need with some proprietary/generic piece of rubbish that performs half as well when there were dozens of other things that could have been improved instead. And all because they didn’t take the time to understand the business, it’s needs, and the solutions currently in place.

…snip…

The hardware is provided by a tier 1, namebrand hardware provider (number 2 worldwide in server sales, I hear). The support guys who come on site are paid absolute buckets of cash and are supposedly the best of the best. These guys come out and utterly bollocks up installs. They constantly tell you things are impossible to achieve, only to stare slack-jawed in amazement three weeks later when they are achieved and working faster than their setups were supposed to provide. They rant and spit when I build things for zero-dollar licensing cost that their multi-hundreds-of-thousands-of-dollar hardware is supposed to be the only stuff that can do the job (my latest GFS/CLVM cluster outperforms their SAN snapshotting, and is free of charge compared to their pay-a-license-per-snapshot “solution”). And of course, their golden trump card is to say “well that’s fine, but we don’t support it” when you offend them. Watch the CIOs scramble when their hardware vendors threaten to not offer support! Yet ask them when they last called on the “professional” support (other than simple break/fix/replace stuff), and most can’t answer.

…snip…

So when did this happen? When did “the IT guy” turn from the person who was cross trained with the breadth and depth of knowledge across a wide variety of systems and procedures turn into a drivelling half-wit who sees more value in a commercial certification than actually learning and building things, and who decides to be “the Microsoft guy” or “the UNIX guy” or “the Cisco guy” and learns nothing but one brand-name item to the ignorance of all others, and often poorly because they can’t separate concepts and ideas from brand names and marketing acronyms?

…snip…

I’ve had a gut full. Something must come of this. The industry as a whole is in for a rude shock if it keeps going the way it does. We keep packing IT departments full of more people who know less. Things break constantly because unqualified people manage them, and departments stop communicating because the connecting technologies are always “somebody else’s problem”. The industry gets flooded with cowboys who have no concept of system and data integrity, who don’t take care with the systems they are put in charge of, who don’t bother securing things in a proper fashion so that data doesn’t leak everywhere. It’s almost a daily event to hear of some horrendously scary security breech that affects millions of innocent people who put their trust in these idiots.

Please not that these aren’t my words, but they do echo my thoughts. If you’re interested, and have an OCAU account, you can read the full thread here, otherwise check here for the full post.

Now, I’m not perfect when it comes to IT; my knowledge is the furthest from complete as it can possibly be.

Don’t get me wrong, I know, and have met people who are exactly like described above – those guys that say they can do “all that”, but in reality can do “none of the above”. On the other hand, there are people I know who aren’t like that. Chris is one of those people. Sure, he can be the slackest person ever when it comes to paying people back, or writing blog posts, but like any good Linux user, he lives and dies by his man pages. If there’s something he doesn’t know about, he’ll probably “wiki” it, or use the Google machine. Mark my words, he’ll become of the those people who know absolutely everything about absolutely anything – and I wish him the best of luck. Better him than me…

There was a situation at work where a UNIX jockey (or who I assume to be a UNIX jockey) came in and asked about getting a Mac. He was relieved to know about the support of X11, the BSD subsystem, the Terminal and all that, but it all started whether he could install a GNOME or KDE environment on it in place of Aqua. I was a little shocked that you would want to do that, but recovered a little by saying that I’m sure you could (or at least hack it so that it worked), but I’m not sure why you would. That was all fine and good, and being the Linux user that I once was, I was pretty confident I could handle the rest of his questions. One for one. Not bad.

His next question was comparatively easy; can I compile my own apps using the GNU C Compiler? Well, yeah, Apple include GCC as part of Xcode, and I’ve even compiled wget (not included by default on OSX) from scratch and installed it on my system. However, there are restrictions: you can’t install whatever version of GCC you like; Apple dictate what version you can and can’t install officially. I also added in that there would be nothing stopping you from installing the version of GCC provided by Apple, and then compiling your own version of GCC from scratch – however this would probably cause untold mayhem and mess. Two for two. Still going strong…

Then he threw me a curveball – he asked me which libraries X11 was built against, and which libraries that BSD subsystem of OSX shipped with. Of course, I had no idea and responded by saying that Apple generally don’t release that kind of documentation (although I’m not too sure about that) as they’re running a closed source scheme. This is where I tripped up a little – sure, the info he was asking for was a little technical, and not out of my reach, but surely I wasn’t expected to rattle off each and every single library that Apple ships with their OS? Surely not. However, I definitely could have (and was capable of) finding out this information beforehand. Why didn’t I? Primarily because I don’t want to memorise crap for the sake of memorising crap, but really – if you’re that dependent on some special library, install GCC and compile it yourself!

This is how I’ve become that “drivelling half-wit who sees more value in a commercial certification than actually learning and building things, and who decides to be” … the Mac guy … “and learns nothing but one brand-name item to the ignorance of all others.” That’s me!

As a closing thought just to make myself feel better, there was another scenario at work where I had stuffed up. Yeah, it happens. Anyways, that affected my confidence for a bit. After a few weeks of under-performance and general moping, I decided to talk to someone at work who knew his stuff. I approached him with my concerns, and he basically said that I do alright for how old I am, and it didn’t matter that I stuffed up ‘cos it was a problem that was easily fixed. After that, I felt a little better.

There’s this other guy at work who “expects brilliance, all the time” from Will and I. He’s a fantastic guy – making it clear what he expects, and what he doesn’t expect. When I don’t know how to solve something, he isn’t disappointed – he knows what I’m capable of. He’s a good guy.

The point is, if you’re thinking of going into IT, don’t be like “that UNIX guy” who know everything about UNIX and nothing about anything else, or “that Mac guy” who knows everything about Mac and nothing about anything else. Read your man pages. Study hard. Sure, worry about your final CCNA exam, but at the end of the day, it’s just a qualification that looks damned good on your resume.

Not that that’s important or anything 🙄

Comments below. Apologies for the long post, hope it was worth your time.

Sony BRAVIAs are AWESOME!

Pics to follow, stay tuned!

(If you didn’t get that pun, I am ashamed.)

Anyway, here are some pics of the setup:

If you’re the kind of person who loves their specs, they are here for your viewing pleasure. It’s the Sony BRAVIA 40″ X-Series LCD TV, with 1080p, 100Hz “Motionflow”, BRAVIA Engine PRO, x.v.Colour, a 10 bit panel, 3 HDMI inputs, etc…

As for the actual TV; it’s awesome, I love it! Now contemplating purchasing a TV tuner for my Mac, in tha hopes it will be half as good as the TV 😛

Update: I thought you guys might like an explanation of why there’s a new Sony X-Series LCD sitting in my lounge room, and it’s because, well, the old TV was getting old. Besides, we wanted an extra channel to watch, as well as digital (ooh!) TV.

It’s a massive shame that I don’t have any 1080p content to stick through it, so far, 1080i FTA (Free-To-Air) is all I’ve been able to push through. Hopefully we’ll get some sort of upscaling DVD player, to upscale those DVD’s from measly 576p to an insane, mind blowing 1080p. It should be awesome. Even more awesome would be true 1080p content, but I’m too poor to afford a Blu-Ray player at the moment 😀

I’m enjoying it immensely – it is by far the best TV my family has ever owned.

Holidays are AWESOME!

Well, it’s officially the holidays now – and if you’re wondering why I just have to post this, it’s because my holidays are all set!

I’ve got three books to finish off:

  • Dreamweaver CS3 with CSS, AJAX, and PHP
    I’m mainly reading this for the AJAX and PHP parts – while I have a working knowledge of CSS, I couldn’t write my own CSS from scratch. Not without a WYSIWYG editor, anyway.
    PHP is HUGE in the webdesign world. If I want to be serious, or at least semi-serious about Web stuff, I want to learn PHP.
    And Ajax, well, that’s just cool 😀
  • Physics of the Impossible
    This is an awesome book by one of my all-time favourite authors, Michio Kaku, the author that “built a 2.3-million-electron-volt betatron particle accelerator, which consumed 6 kilowatts of power an generated a magnetic field 20,000 times that the earth’s magnetic field.” – all while he was in high school!
    It covers everything from the technology that is impossible today, but does not break physics as we know it (such as force fields, death stars, telepathy and teleportation, antimatter), to technology that sits on the boundary of our technical knowledge today (such as a speed faster than light, time travel, and alternate universes) to things that are just plain impossible – things such as perpetual motion and precognition – things that violate known laws of physics.
    It’s a really good read – if you’re thinking about doing something in Physics, then I highly recommend that you read this book – you’re welcome to read my copy, but only when I’m finished with it 😛
  • Cocoa Programming for Mac OS X
    Regarded as “the Bible” for Cocoa programming on OSX, for OSX, Cocoa programming is a minor hobby of mine. I started it way before we started Java at school, and compared to Java for GUI stuff, it is so much easier!
    For those special few of you that have worked with a Java GUI interface, the way that I’ve been taught it just plain sucks.
    With Xcode’s Interface Builder, I don’t have to write the code for each radio button, write yet more code for where I want it to go, or even what I want to do – all this can be done using a GUI. Easy, no? Objective-C is great.
    This book is a little hard to acquire in Australia, though, so I’d be looking to your closest bookshop to see if they can order it in. Mine certianly did, and I”m so glad for it…

Yep, I’m all set. So I might have to do a little work, but I’m cool with that, I’ve got plenty of time for that kind of stuff… Take, for instance, the Steam Weekend Deal – this week, it’s 50% of all ID games, you know, like Commander Keen, Quake, Doom, etc. I bought the super pack for $35 – you can check it out here if you have Steam and are interested.

So, what are YOUR holiday plans? Shout out in comments.

Benny’s WTF for the day…

Wow, three FOUR posts in one day! I must be insane…

Anyway – check this out! I was looking at the bandwidth that our hosting has been using (seeing as three websites are being hosted from it) and I noticed this…

Well, that’s more than weird – that’s actually impossible.

I’m fairly sure the Internet didn’t exist in 1969, and freshbytes certainly didn’t, so… CAN SOMEONE PLEASE EXPLAIN THIS SCREENSHOT?!

And that, dear readers, is Benny’s WTF for the day.

Nerf gear is AWESOME!

I apologise for the second “is AWESOME!” post in a row – but there’s just so much stuff that is actually awesome… And besides, the tabs are clogging up Firefox, which is already bloated as is…

Nerf (owned by Hasbro), makers of the famed Nerf Vortex and so on, make some seriously cool kit.

For example – the Nerf Maverick:

Totally awesome. They’re pretty cheap as well, so no worries there!

I’m sure you’re dying to know more, so here’s the page for all the Nerf gear.

I know you just want the Nerf Maverick, so here’s the page for that, too!

Other notable mentions:

Nerf Elimination – just imagine two shots per gun, but once you’re out of bullets, you’re out of the game!

Nerf Nstrike Recon CS-6 – the sniper rifle of the Nerf range, it’s able to be separated into two seperate guns.

And the ultimate in foam dart warfare, the Nerf Vulcan. If only you could hook one of these babies up to 240V AC – that’d be schweet! But really – you don’t even need a description for this one. It leaves nothing to the imagination…

Google Chrome is AWESOME!

If you don’t know what Google Chrome is, either your feed reader is broken (and you need to recompile it from scratch), or you live under a rock. Those are the options.

I’m hoping that more people will be interested in this than DosBox…

If you’re running Windows as your OS of choice, and haven’t tried out Chrome yet, I urge you to do so at google.com/chrome – hit this link.

Otherwise, if you’re running Linux or OSX as your OS of choice, read on…

I’ve found the Google Chrome – Platform Specific Build Instructions here.

Mac (I didn’t go to the trouble to go and compile it. I have no need.)

Windows (bear in mind that while they do provide binary versions of the Chrome Beta for Windows, there is no reason to stop you from download the source and compiling it yourself.)

Linux (Hardcore *nix fans will no doubt love watching the Chrome source scroll past their screen – you geeks 😛 )

Now, some extra info:

  • Google Chrome is strictly a BETA at this stage. The version number is 0.2, so make of that what you will.
  • Chrome renders webpages with the WebKit rendering engine – along with Safari. By contrast, Firefox uses the Gecko rendering engine.
  • Technically, you’re allowed to ignore the EULA if you compile the source code yourself. (via Ars Technica)
  • It’s fast. Faster than Firefox. Javascript is especially so – Lightboxes are instantaneous.

There is one feature I like particularly; the ability to give sane error messages. Take, for example, the message that you get when you type in a wrong URL into the address bar. Compare the message that you get with Chrome:

…to the one that greets you in Firefox. Which of the two would you be more likely to understand? (Granted, if you’re reading this website you can probably understand them both, but still!)

It’s the little things like that that will make the difference – everyday users are supposed to be able to USE things. Not have a masters in computer science just to operate their webbrowser. Okay, so that last commend was a little harsh – but you get the picture, usability is damned important! Chrome even provides you with a Google search (haha) to help you. I love Google. I love Chrome.

Now, if only they had a Mac version – from my initial impressions in a Windows VM, I’d easily use it over Firefox.

Web Sites I Enjoy!

MySQL was completely down on our web-hosting on Sunday (31st August) night, and so I apologise for the delay in posts! I have no idea why it was down, but it was the only thing that was actually down – Apache and all the rest of it was working fine. Since WordPress runs off a MySQL database, it also meant that both freshbytes and Benny Ling’s Bling were both down. Not cool.

In the meantime, here are some websites I enjoy on a frequent basis – if you’re like me, I’m sure you will too.

Links:

Assembles Elucidation – The Daily WTF
Right, so The Daily WTF is one of the best websites out there – completely awesome. It’s strictly for nerds/geeks (what exactly is the difference?), so those not Vitamin-D challanged need not apply.
This particular story is awesome – it’s about the manual that came with a hard drive enclosure, sort of a “lost in translation” if you will.
Error’d is one of my favourite parts of The Daily WTF – showing how dumb smart tech can be!
Oh, and before you ask: WTF does not stand for what you think it stands for; it currently stands for Worse Than Failure – because, let’s face it, nothing is worse than failure.

Fan Death – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
I kid you not. Following on as a side-story from The Daily WTF link above, this particular Wikipedia page apparently describes a South Korean urban legend that states if an electric fan is left on overnight in a room where you’re sleeping, it can cause death through suffocation, poisoning, or hypothermia.
It then goes on to list the reasons why this isn’t actually possible – some of my favourites are:

  • Vortex theory – in this scenario, the electric fan manages to create a vortex, thereby sucking out all the oxygen, and creating a partial vacuum inside.
  • The electric fan somehow “chops up” all the oxygen particles in the air – leaving none to breathe.
  • “That if the fan is put directly in front of the face of the sleeping person, it will suck all the air away, preventing one from breathing. This explanation ignores the fact that most people point a fan towards themselves when using one, which causes air to move past the face but does not change the amount of air present.”
  • The same electric fan somehow “uses up” all the oxygen in the room, leading to asphyxiation and death.

In light of these strange fan-related deaths, most fans sold in Korea now have an timer that automatically turns the fan off after an extended period os use. Apparently, this “automatic timer” is touted as a “life-saving” feature, go figure…

Opinion: How Apple can gain significant OS market share
Now, if only Apple listened to all the little people… This being one of the more recent Ars Technica articles (but quality as usual), it discusses how Apple could be even more awesome than they are now, especially in terms of OSX market share.
The product that started it all was, without a doubt, the iPod. The current popularity of Macs in today’s world is due partly to the massive hype of the iPhone – great work Apple Marketing – but much of it can only attributed to the initial success of the iPod. If people didn’t know about the iPod, they wouldn’t know about the iPhone.

Top 5 Gadgets That Could Get You Arrested
Wired is one of my favourite tech sites, apart from the legendary Ars Technica. I’m not a huge fan of Slashdot, Gizmodo, or any of those kinds of sites, and while I do enjoy Engadget every once in a while, Wired and Ars contribute more professional material, IMO.
Anyways, the top five gadgets that could get you arrested are completely awesome – I wish I had the Sonar II.
Like a commenter on that post said – why didn’t they include mobile jammers or the like? I’m sure they would get you arrested.

Hope you enjoyed the links.

What kind of guy are you?

Me? I’m the type of guy that can listen to a song for HOURS on end – take this, for instance; in a freak accident that happened this week, I managed to buy and listen to Katy Perry’s “I Kissed a Girl” for well over 4 hours – that’s 3 hours of non-stop girl pop! Yeah!

I’m the type of guy that has a playlist of purely “chick music” – it contains stuff by Avril, Britney, Christina, Delta, Fergie, Hillary, Kylie, Rihanna, and last but not least, the Veronicas. Go on. Laugh it up. I know you want to.

I’m the type of guy who listens to the one of the widest varieties of music that I know – and sometimes, I even scare myself at how shockingly awesome my music library is! Sure, I don’t have classics like Soulja Boy’s “Crank That”, some hip-hop is alright, the rest is crap IMHO.

I’m the type of guy who isn’t one of the non-conformists, (extreme double negatives are messing with my head today), but at the same time I’m not afraid to be opinionated in my own way – I’m a strong believer in the fact that I shouldn’t speak my mind all the time. Some thoughts are meant to be left private, and for reasons which should also stay the same way 😀

So the reason I’m asking you what kind of guy you are is because, for one – I want you to know. I want you to know what kind of guy you are. If you know me, I already know what kind of guy you are, so no worries there 😛

Apart from that, here are some links for you to peruse over the weekend, or whatever. I’m feeling a little under as I’ve just been to Launceston for Youth Alive’s Expose08. Going to Launceston in and of itself is usually enough to get anyone down, but I haven’t got much sleep over the past few nights – getting back from said location at 2am will do that to you. Luckily, I’ve got free periods in the morning tomorrow, so a sleep-ing sounds like a good idea! 😀

It costs ONE MILLION!

So I was playing Diablo II today, and I came across something strange while shopping with my Level 31 Barbarian (click on the image to make it bigger):

That staff, just in case you’re too lazy to take a look, costs 1,122,304.

Now, if you do the math – your stash, at level 31 can only carry 800,000 gold, and at you can carry 10,000 gold per level – which means 800,000 gold in stash, and 310,000 gold on my person.

If you’re not in Maths Applied, I wouldn’t expect you to do the math, so for those of you that can’t be bothered – I can carry a MAXIMUM of 1,110,000 gold. Maximum. No more. Nada.

How on earth was I supposed to buy that staff, then? I have no idea… Besides, I was already poor from fighting Diablo in the Act before – buying mana and health potions will do that to you, as well as resurrecting your companion.

Anyways, here is one other rediculously priced item from the same store – the Static War Staff of Sorcery at 405,604. Enjoy.

The staffs aren’t even that good – so I’m not sure why they’re that expensive in the first place!!

File this one under “WTF”, Jim.

Comments below.

X-Plane 9 is AWESOME!

There’s just something about flying that makes me want to post about it.

Sadly, I can’t because I don’t have the time nor the money – so the next best thing is flight sims. I’ve always said that I should get into flight sims, and as of two days ago, I have.

X-Plane, currently in it’s ninth iteration, can be an FAA-Approved flight simulator for training purposes – that’s how realistic it is.

It contains over 60GB of worldwide scenery, and you can pick and chose which scenery you want installed. I chose to install the base and Australian scenery, which worked out to be some 4.6GB – not too bad.

There are TONS of addons, plugins, and extra planes available on the net for you to download, and you can fly planes like Serenity from some movie, and a whole heap of others.

Now I didn’t have much faith in X-Plane working on my paltry MacBook with it’s integrated graphics, but surprisingly, it does – but only under Mac OSX. Under Bootcamp’ed Windows XP, it just dies a gory Blue-Screen-Of-Death. However, under Mac OSX, it works fine – reasonable frame rates (enough to get 25+fps, which is all humans need for us to depict constant, smooth motion).

In fact, X-Plane 9 is so good that I’m thinking of buying a joystick for it. I’ve been looking at the Logitech Extreme 3D Pro – but I’ve read reviews on the net that scream “Crap build quality” and “A complete lemon” so I might hold off for a while. If you’ve got any joystick recommendations, I’d love it if you could stick them in comments. Seriously, though, it’s nearly impossible to fly an F-22 Raptor with your mouse. It’s just too fast!

And landing – ugh. I tried in a Chinook V-22 Osprey, and even that was hard! I have no idea how people can land Raptors and X-15s, and X-30s, especially when the X-30 can go over 730 (insert arbitary units here, I don’t have any idea what the readout on the dash is!)

…Helicopters are a pain to fly as well, because apparently I don’t know the concept of lift. Same deal for VTOL aircraft, such as the Harrier.

Flight sims for the win. X-Plane 9 wins over Microsoft’s Flight Sim X any day of the week, no matter which way you look.

Load Cash. Play!

There are just two simple and easy steps to getting a CANVAS pre-paid credit card.

Load Cash. Play.

It really is as simple as that. After you’ve load some amount of cash onto your CANVAS pre-paid Visa card, you can do all sorts of funky things – from buying things using the “Credit” option (as opposed to Cheque and Savings), to buying things online.

Why did I get one? Well, one huge gripe I have with PayPal is that for some online transactions can only be done after you’ve added a credit card to your PayPal account. Now, PayPal is a great alternative to the traditional online way of doing things, which involves a real credit card (debit or otherwise).

I thought PayPal was supposed to circumvent the necessity of a credit card, especially when buying things online, but it doesn’t – what’s the point of having a PayPal account if you need a credit card linked to it? Similarly, if you already have a credit card, what is the point of a PayPal account? Its some wierd paradox, to be sure. To add insult to injury, you can’t use PayPal’s “Virtual Mastercard” service outside of the U.S. WHY!

Unlike most Apple products, it Just Doesn’t Work.

Hence, pre-paid Visa card. Link it to my PayPal account, and voila! I can now use PayPal for most transactions. However, if I’m selling something on eBay or similar, I get charged exorbitant fees whenever I use my PayPal account! The alternative is to use my pre-paid Visa card – which only charges me to put money on the card. Again, WHY!

Anyway, my CANVAS pre-paid Visa card has arrived. It’s cool and black in colour, and will now accompany me until August 2011. Plenty of time for me to get a “real” credit card, be it Visa Debit or otherwise 😀

If you’re thinking of signing up (there are fees to do so), please fire me a quick email, and I’ve give you a referral email. In the interests of full disclosure, I’ll get $5 every time someone signs up to CANVAS and loads money onto their CANVAS card, but hey, you’ll be contributing to the “Support Benny Ling” fund…

Update: Well, I just tried to add the CANVAS pre-paid Visa card to my PayPal account – no go. Not happy Jan. Oh well, at least I’ll now be able to purchase things online, without PayPal fees and so on 😀