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 😀

Speaking of RPG…

…here’s my character from WoW (click to see full-size):

Say what you want, but it’s a female Mage if you hadn’t already noticed – name of Iridissis. Where did that come from? I have no idea.

I’m a huge fan of RPGs, but just haven’t got the time to get into them properly.

Online based games such as Dofus, Runescape, WoW, and the soon-to-be Diablo III – they’re just awesome. Online RPGs give you the chance to interact with other people from all around the globe – but there are some horrible people out there, which just isn’t cool 🙁

Classics like Diablo II I am now getting into a heap – but what really draws me to RPGs is that they’re so flexible – you don’t have to follow a predetermined path, or do anything. Sure, there’s still a storyline, and some things you have to do, but apart from that, you play the game your way. Don’t want to kill Diablo cos he’s too hard? Well, tough. You have to kill Diablo to move on to Act V.

Maybe I should just forfeit my life and get into some real online stuff – like SecondLife. I don’t have to apply for lots of good Uni’s there, nor do I have to get a TER or 90 or above to get into the course I want.

Still, I’d like to think I have a good grip on reality, so I’ll continue to play Diablo – and try NOT to die when I fight Diablo.

Comments below.