Monday, June 30, 2008

Access Usenet When Your ISP Blocks It [How To]


Wired's How-To Wiki offers a timely compilation of ways to get into Usenet, that old-school newsgroup collection often teeming with downloads and advice, now that it looks like major ISPs will block access partially or entirely. Google Groups, for instance, will get you into a semi-mirrored version of Usenet without any of the sketchier alt groups included. For full-scale access, free tools like UsenetTools and DMoz are suggested, along with a few full-access tools with monthly subscriptions. If you're new to the old net, check out easy guides on downloading and sharing files, and tell us what you still get out of Usenet in the comments.

Bypass Blocked Usenet [Wired How-To Wiki]

Make a Pen Holder Out of Floppy Disks [Weekend Project]

  Instead of throwing out those old floppy disks, grab a couple of zip ties and turn them into a roomy, DIY pen holder that pays homage to the old school method of data storage. Do-it-yourselfer completegeek posts the straightforward step-by-step. In short, drill a couple of holes into the disks, fasten them together with zip ties, and trim off extra length with scissors. Easy-peasy, with nifty results! Photo by matthew.shelton.

Floppy Disk Pen Holder [Instructables via matthew.shelton]

The Books That Changed Your Lives [What You Said]


On Thursday we asked you what books have changed your life, and over 250 thoughtful comments later, it's clear you all have book shelves stuffed with meaningful tomes. Now it's time to share the love. Today we've compiled some of the titles that you mentioned the most, with summaries and links to Amazon so you can check 'em out further—and get a glimpse into the minds and lives of Lifehacker readers.

The Bible (25 votes)

Far and away our biggest vote-getter, we're not even going to try to describe what the Bible is and what it means. Thank goodness Wikipedia describes the Bible for us thusly:
The Bible is the collection of religious writings of Judaism and of Christianity. The exact composition of the Bible is dependent on the religious traditions of specific denominations. Modern Rabbinic Judaism generally recognizes a single set of canonical books that comprise the Tanakh, the Jewish version of the Bible. The Christian Bible includes the same books as the Tanakh (referred to in this context as the Old Testament), but usually in a different order, together with specifically Christian books collectively called the New Testament. Among some Christian traditions, the Bible includes additional Jewish books that were not accepted into the Tanakh.
There are multiple editions and versions of the Bible; the one pictured here is the King James Version: 1611 Edition.
The Works of Ayn Rand
(23 votes)
Several authors had multiple works mentioned by our readers, but none had such a strong showing as Ayn Rand. Most influential was The Fountainhead, followed by Atlas Shrugged and Anthem.
From Wikipedia's The Fountainhead page:
The Fountainhead is set in the world of Architecture and examines Howard Roark, a young architect who chooses to struggle in obscurity rather than compromise his artistic and personal vision. He refuses to pander to the prevailing 'architect by committee' taste in building design. Roark is a singular force that takes a stand against the establishment, and in his own unique way, prevails. The manuscript was rejected by twelve publishers before a young editor, Archibald Ogden, at the Bobbs-Merrill Company publishing house wired to the head office, "If this is not the book for you, then I am not the editor for you."
From Wikipedia's Atlas Shrugged page:
The theme of Atlas Shrugged is the role of the mind in man's existence and, consequently, presentation of the morality of rational self-interest.

The main conflicts of the book surround the decision of the "individuals of the mind" to go on strike, refusing to contribute their inventions, art, business leadership, scientific research, or new ideas of any kind to the rest of the world. Society, they believe, hampers them by interfering with their work and underpays them by confiscating the profits and dignity they have rightfully earned. The peaceful cohesiveness of the world disintegrates, lacking those individuals whose productive work comes from mental effort. The strikers believe that they are crucial to a society that exploits them, denying them freedom or failing to acknowledge their right to self-interest, and the gradual collapse of civilization is triggered by their strike.

From Wikipedia's Anthem page:
Anthem is a dystopian, science-fiction novella by philosopher Ayn Rand, first published in 1938. It takes place at some unspecified future date when mankind has entered another dark age as a result of the evils of irrationality and collectivism and the weaknesses of socialistic thinking and economics. Technological advancement is now carefully planned (when it is allowed to occur at all) and the concept of individuality has been eliminated (for example, the word "I" has disappeared from the language). As is common in her work, Rand draws a clear distinction between the "socialist/communal" values of equality and brotherhood and the "productive/capitalist" values of achievement and individuality.

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
(15 votes)
by Douglas Adams
Join Douglas Adams's hapless hero Arthur Dent as he travels the galaxy with his intrepid pal Ford Prefect, getting into horrible messes and generally wreaking hilarious havoc. Dent is grabbed from Earth moments before a cosmic construction team obliterates the planet to build a freeway. You'll never read funnier science fiction; Adams is a master of intelligent satire, barbed wit, and comedic dialogue.

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry into Values
(9 votes)
by Robert M. Pirsig
... Robert M. Pirsig's Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance is a powerful, moving, and penetrating examination of how we live . . . and a breathtaking meditation on how to live better. Here is the book that transformed a generation: an unforgettable narration of a summer motorcycle trip across America's Northwest, undertaken by a father and his young son. A story of love and fear — of growth, discovery, and acceptance — that becomes a profound personal and philosophical odyssey into life's fundamental questions, this uniquely exhilarating modern classic is both touching and transcendent, resonant with the myriad confusions of existence . . . and the small, essential triumphs that propel us forward.

The Stranger
(8 votes)
by Albert Camus
The Stranger is not merely one of the most widely read novels of the 20th century, but one of the books likely to outlive it. Written in 1946, Camus's compelling and troubling tale of a disaffected, apparently amoral young man has earned a durable popularity (and remains a staple of U.S. high school literature courses) in part because it reveals so vividly the anxieties of its time. Alienation, the fear of anonymity, spiritual doubt—all could have been given a purely modern inflection in the hands of a lesser talent than Camus, who won the Nobel Prize in 1957 and was noted for his existentialist aesthetic. The remarkable trick of The Stranger, however, is that it's not mired in period philosophy.

The Works of George Orwell
(8 votes)

Another early 20th century author who received reader acclaim for more than a single book, George Orwell appears on the list both for 1984 and Animal Farm.
[1984 was] published in 1949 as a warning about the menaces of totalitarianism. The novel is set in an imaginary future world that is dominated by three perpetually warring totalitarian police states. The book's hero, Winston Smith, is a minor party functionary in one of these states. His longing for truth and decency leads him to secretly rebel against the government. Smith has a love affair with a like-minded woman, but they are both arrested by the Thought Police. The ensuing imprisonment, torture, and reeducation of Smith are intended not merely to break him physically or make him submit but to root out his independent mental existence and his spiritual dignity. Orwell's warning of the dangers of totalitarianism made a deep impression on his contemporaries and upon subsequent readers, and the book's title and many of its coinages, such as NEWSPEAK, became bywords for modern political abuses.

Anti-utopian satire by George Orwell, published in 1945. One of Orwell's finest works, it is a political fable based on the events of Russia's Bolshevik revolution and the betrayal of the cause by Joseph Stalin. The book concerns a group of barnyard animals who overthrow and chase off their exploitative human masters and set up an egalitarian society of their own. Eventually the animals' intelligent and power-loving leaders, the pigs, subvert the revolution and form a dictatorship even more oppressive and heartless than that of their former human masters.

The Works of Richard Dawkins
(8 votes)

Dawkins is the most contemporary non-fiction author on the list to be voted in with multiple books. Readers were most influenced by The Selfish Gene, followed closely by The God Delusion.
Richard Dawkins' brilliant reformulation of the theory of natural selection has the rare distinction of having provoked as much excitement and interest outside the scientific community as within it. His theories have helped change the whole nature of the study of social biology, and have forced thousands of readers to rethink their beliefs about life. In his internationally bestselling, now classic volume, The Selfish Gene, Dawkins explains how the selfish gene can also be a subtle gene. The world of the selfish gene revolves around savage competition, ruthless exploitation, and deceit, and yet, Dawkins argues, acts of apparent altruism do exist in nature. Bees, for example, will commit suicide when they sting to protect the hive, and birds will risk their lives to warn the flock of an approaching hawk. ... [The Selfish Gene] is a celebration of a remarkable exposition of evolutionary thought, a work that has been widely hailed for its stylistic brilliance and deep scientific insights, and that continues to stimulate whole new areas of research today.

In his sensational international bestseller, the preeminent scientist and outspoken atheist Richard Dawkins delivers a hard-hitting, impassioned, but humorous rebuttal of religious belief. With rigor and wit, Dawkins eviscerates the arguments for religion and demonstrates the supreme improbability of the existence of a supreme being. He makes a compelling case that faith is not just irrational, but potentially deadly ... This brilliantly argued, provocative book challenges all of us to test our beliefs, no matter what beliefs we hold.

The Hobbit and Lord of The Rings Trilogy
(7 votes)
by J.R.R.

New version of FolderShare for Windows available


A new version of FolderShare for Windows (there’s a Mac client available too, but that apparently hasn’t been updated as of yet) is now available. From the FolderShare team blog:

There's a new version of FolderShare for Windows available today that includes several updates designed to improve reliability. We encourage all the awesome FolderShare users to install it at their earliest convenience.

These feature improvements work only on the new version, so the old version needs to be removed before the new one is installed. We understand this process may cause some inconvenience, but be assured that your settings and files will remain the same from start to finish.

I’m not a FolderShare user, but I gave the new install a try. The build number is reported as 14.0.1383.0530.

One note right off the bat, signing in to the FolderShare website isn’t through Windows Live ID, so there’s no correlation between your Windows Live email address and the Live ID password/FolderShare password. I’ve apparently created a FolderShare account in the past, but have no idea what password it’s under. Ahh that’s the beauty of multiple email accounts :).

Installation on one machine was quick and painless, taking less than 2 minutes. One commenter on the FolderShare blog wasn’t too happy about having to uninstall and reinstall on multiple machines, especially without a more detailed changelist than “feature improvements”, but that’s the nature of beta testing (even loooonnng term betas – FolderShare, originally a product from ByteTaxi purchased by Microsoft in late 2005, became “FolderShare Beta, a Windows Live Service” back in March, 2006).

While it is still unclear why Microsoft needs FolderShare, SkyDrive, and Live Mesh all operating as separate services (we thought Wave 3 was supposed to clean this kind of confusion up, not create more), FolderShare seems to be alive and well, and may someday even make it out of beta. Until then you can give the latest version a try (if you’re running the current bits you need to uninstall them, you will retain all your settings when you reinstall the new version).

Download FolderShare beta version 14.0.1383.0530 for Windows

More on Google and "Family Guy" Creator Teaming Up For Cartoon Ads


The New York Times reports Google will be teaming up with the creator of the US cartoon series “Family Guy” to distribute short original episodes of a show called “Seth MacFarlane’s Cavalcade of Cartoon Comedy."* The first news of this came in last year already. Instead of creating a new microsite where people can view these episodes, in this model the new cartoons will be shown in AdSense spots, those automated Google ads third-party webmasters include on their sites. From the NYT:

<<Advertising will be incorporated into the clips in varying ways. In some cases, there will be “preroll” ads, which ask viewers to sit through a TV-style commercial before getting to the video. Some advertisers may opt for a banner to be placed at the bottom of the video clip or a simple “brought to you by” note at the beginning.>>

The NYT later says:

<<Each installment is different, but a typical one is titled “Mad Cow Disease.” The clip, which is 38 seconds long, opens with a news anchor reporting on an outbreak of mad cow disease in a dry fashion, detailing the debilitating effects of eating tainted beef. The clip cuts to a shocked male and female cow seated in a tidy kitchen with giant steaks on their plates.>>

Revenue from these ads will then be shared among the webmaster, the cartoon creator Seth MacFarlance (pictured above), the production company Media Rights Capital, and Google. A spokesperson from Google, the company who once said they don’t pre-announce products and whose self-proclaimed core values include “Think and act like an underdog”, is quoted with the majestic statement “We feel that we have recreated the mass media”... but I suppose we’ll first have to see how well this model works.

[Thanks Colin! Photo by Eric Appel with some rights reserved.]

*"Cavalcade” means “A ceremonial procession or display” or “A succession or series,” says. It also means “A procession of riders or horse-drawn carriages,” from the Italian “cavalcare,” to ride on horseback.

[By Philipp Lenssen | Origin: More on Google and "Family Guy" Creator Teami ... | Comments]

[Advertisement] Google Me - The Movie

Star Trek: The Exhibition in San Diego


Asmembers of the local Mars Society and NSS chapters, my family was invited to a "friends and family" preview of Star Trek: The Exhibition at the San Diego Air & Space Museum. It's an exhibit we had intended to see anyway, but seeing it on opening day with a bunch of other fans and space enthusiasts was too good to pass up.

The short summary: It's a fun exhibit for fans of TOS or TNG, or fans of the Trek universe in general. It's worth going just for the chance to sit on the Enterprise bridge or stand on the transporter pads. More of my review after the jump, including photos and a short YouTube clip.

Thegeeklet got to sit in not just one, but three captain's chairs. Kirk's was the most dynamic because it was part of a complete bridge set. He could shout orders at the other stations and really get into the spirit. (I personally could see hanging out on that set with a group of like-minded friends for quite a while on a not-so-busy day. The lighting is spot on, and photo opportunities abound.) Picard's chair was interesting from a technical point of view; he wanted the controls on the armrests to light up, so I used my iPhone as a stand-in. (Bonus points to any iPhone developer out there that makes an LCARS simulator using multi-touch. I'm just sayin'.) His favorite, though, was the Klingon captain's chair tucked in a corner. He just wouldn't get out of that thing. Why? Because it swiveled and reminded him of Uncle Stephen's La-Z-Boy. And there you go.

Mixedin with the sets are props, costumes, and bits of information about both the shows themselves and the future history of Star Trek. There's enough to justify a thorough viewing, or in my case a promise to return without an impatient four-year-old. For instance, as you walk down an Enterprise-D corridor and peek into Picard's quarters, be sure to turn around and find all the easter eggs in the okudagrams on the wall.

The transporter room from TNG is another complete set, with both the transporter pads and a station for the operator. Visitors can stand on the pads and be "beamed down", and the effect is shown on a plasma display. (I didn't get a chance to try it myself, but I did post a short YouTube clip of the effect.)

Themost grin-inducing set is just past the transporter room, which makes sense from a beaming-down perspective if not from series continuity. "City on the Edge of Forever" is a favorite TOS episode of mine, and the time portal set really stuck in my memory. Not because it was particularly well executed, but because it's such an iconic figure, an ancient ruin of something unimaginably high-tech. It's also the backdrop for some seriously cheesy acting and effects, so we didn't feel out of place taking photos and hamming it up.

The movies and the other shows (Deep Space Nine, Voyager, Enterprise) are given some space here and there for a few uniforms and props, but don't expect to see Sisko's office or Khan's bridge. There are also a few nods to current NASA hardware and missions, but it is an Air & Space museum after all.

The Exhibition is expected to stay in San Diego through the summer, and possibly until the end of the year. This is the first stop (well, second depending how you count) on a tour that's expected to visit cities all over, but there's no schedule yet.

Fan Creations Enhance D&D 4th Edition


Haveyou had a chance to delve into Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition yet? If you have, you've already discovered how the seminal tabletop RPG has evolved from its precursors. Leaner, more simplified rules make for a graduated learning curve that is perfect for kids.

Each character class has exciting and unique features that make even the beefiest fighter a tactical delight to play. But how do you keep your gaming group on the same page?

Whether you're running a table for the kids or playing at your Friendly Local Gaming Store with the guys, we've got some great tools to keep the dice rolling right after the jump.

  • Neceros Character Sheets: The bare-bones Neceros site is well-known within tabletop role-playing circles for its clean and easy-to-read character sheets. There are a few for 4E, including a nice one-pager. If you're sticking with 3.5, or you're involved in a d20 Modern or Shadowrun game, he's got sheets for those systems, too.
  • Shado's 4E Color Landscape Character Sheets: Shado, a veteran D&D player, has made his own character sheets for 25 years. Now, with 4E, he's decided to share his work with the world at large. They're in color, landscape oriented, and quite a sight to behold. Skim to the third page in the thread for info on an editable form version for PCs with atrocious handwriting.
  • Basic Character Sheet: This PDF sheet is identical to the one in the Player's Handbook, save for the fact that you can fill it out on your computer and save it for later editing.
  • Kiznit's Combat Crib Sheet: Since most of my group are playing 4E for the first time, and nothing fizzles the excitement of a combat encounter like flipping through the rulebooks, these crib sheets should help keep the game moving forward. The PDF outlines each combat turn, provides modifiers for common situations, and even includes a half-page glossary of terms.
  • Power Cards: This is my favorite fan-made add-on for 4E. Since each character class has unique special powers that can aid their party during combat, many players have taken to writing out their PC's abilities on index cards and playing them like a Magic: The Gathering attack. Since certain powers can be played once per encounter, and some only once per day, it helps to reduce repetitive paperwork. Plus, having the rules text handy for each ability means less time flipping through the book and more time destroying deadly dungeon spawn.

What fan-made creations do you use in your games?

(Photo by kgeiger)

Classic Sci-Fi Summer


Summervacation means that there is more time for movies with the kids. Here at GeekDad we bring up a lot of geeky TV but this summer, I am getting the full value out of my Netflix subscription and concocting a summer movie list of classic sci-fi to keep me, er, the kids, entertained. When I remember the movies on my list so far (some of which I haven't seen in ages), I remember them being fairly benign and kid-friendly compared with today's PG and PG-13 fare. They also reflect an older style of storytelling, one that builds action and character over time to develop dramatic impact instead of today's blockbuster style of throwing it in your face all at once. Plus, the craftsmanship in sets, costumes, and effects are what inspired today's generation of CGI renderers. (Is there any effects artist out there who doesn't love Ray Harryhausen?) Hopefully the geeklings (9 and 5) will go for it. Read the list after the jump. What other movies should be on it?

Journey to the Center of the Earth
Ourplan: to watch this 1959 special effects fest starting James Mason and Pat Boone and compare it with this summer's special effects feststartingBrenden Fraser. This movie also spawned the Filmation animatedserieswhich used to get me all excited back in the day.

The Time Machine
This1960 classic starring Rod Taylor got me all a-twitter whenever it came on the teevee when I was a young lad. The special effects are anadmirableattempt at believability and the Morlocks used to scare the crap out of me.

Fantastic Voyage
Ok,I consider this to be a snoozer to be sure (even by 1966 standards), but the special effects are cool (winninganOscar for such) and cutting edge for the time, as is the idea that people are swimming around inside a human body. Truly speaks to agenerationeager for exploration.

Forbidden Planet
Releasedin 1956, and one of the first sci-fi flicks to feature cool gizmos and tech. And it gave us Robbie the Robot!

When Worlds Collide
This1951 movie might be light on the action and could be too boring for the geeklets. But I loved the dramatic build and overall tension that fillsthemovie. Pretty good performances make the whole thing downright believable.

This Island Earth
Aliens,flying saucers, and stuff blowing up. The classic 1955 space alien monster flick that defined the cornball space adventure stereotype.

20,000 Leagues Under The Sea
What can be said. The story by Jules Verne, grandfather of all thingssteampunk,is brought to life in this 1954 film. Kirk Douglas, Peter Lorre, James Mason, and theNautilus!

The War of the Worlds
Theoriginal alien invasion story (1953). The Martian ships are still cool looking, even in today's CGI universe. I always wished I had one ofthoseextendable eyes.

H.G. Wells' First Men in the Moon
Asthe original tagline says: H.G. Wells' Astounding Adventure in Dynamation! One of Ray Harryhausen's monster fests (1964).

Hasta La Vista, Windows XP


I just posted this on WinInfo, but I think it's important enough to discuss here as well:

Hasta La Vista, Windows XP

OK, I'm probably not the first person to think of that headline, but what the heck. Today, we're mourning the passing--sort of--of an old friend here, and I think it's OK to be informal given the egregious amount of time he hung around in the first place. I won't bore you with the specifics of the rest of XP's life cycle: I spelled that out earlier in Microsoft Will Not Extend XP Lifecycle Again: Here's What's Really Happening. Instead, I'd like to just take a few moments to look back on the somewhat inglorious early history of Windows XP, which should make for an interesting comparison with Vista's first year. Because for some reason, with XP, a lot of people seem to have the one-sided memory that often accompanies a passing. It wasn't all ice cream and pie, people.

First of all, Microsoft has sold several hundred million copies of Windows XP, and the OS is undoubtedly the best-selling Windows version ever. But it was that successful only because the product was artificially kept on the market longer than necessary. If XP had been replaced in 2004, as it should have been, it would have gone down in history as one of the most forgettable releases of the product ever. Instead, Microsoft kept XP alive by giving that 2004 release away for free, calling it Windows XP Service Pack 2 (SP2).

Before that, XP launched with a whimper in October 2001--I noted that the disappointing "midnight madness" events Microsoft organized were "neither midnight nor madness" in a Short Takes article from that month, and they took place after a "boring and long" launch event. Even Microsoft group vice president Jim Allchin was sanguine about XP during the launch, noting, "It's only a product." Gateway CEO Ted Waite revealed on stage during the launch that XP would have no effect on his company's sales at all.

Just after the XP launch, Microsoft settled its antitrust case with the US government. As I wrote at the time, "I think the settlement fails miserably [at] punishing Microsoft for its illegal activities and preventing it from continuing such activities in the future." What it did do, of course, was change the way Microsoft bundles products with its OSes. And you can thank/blame the rise of Windows Live applications on this change.

With XP complete, Microsoft turned its attention to XP SP1, unlike with Vista, where they pretended there wasn't an SP1. And Allchin revealed that the next Windows version, codenamed Longhorn, would hit beta in 2002 and ship in 2003. That worked out wonderfully, as you may recall. Note that after Vista shipped, Microsoft refused to discuss the next version of Windows (Windows 7). Clearly, the company's XP experiences guided this change of strategy.

XP was barely out the door before the OS's first major security vulnerability hit, a serious UPnP flaw that left XP owners open to electronic attack. Microsoft responded to this threat by asking Web sites to stop popularizing security breaches in its products. Yes, seriously.

In December 2001, Allchin said that XP sales were "on track," and the company was "very happy." However, analysts and retailers were reporting that XP wasn't selling as quickly as had previous, consumer-oriented Windows 9x versions. And retail sales of XP were still lagging those of Windows 98 at the time.

With 2001 ending, pundits seized the opportunity to jump all over XP in a manner that would later be repeated with Vista. There are two differences, however. More people are online now, so Vista looks worse by comparison. And XP's issues were actually quite serious, unlike those that users faced with Vista over the past year. I'll take a missing printer driver over systemic OS flaws any day. Call me crazy.

By the end of December, panic had set in. XP retail sales plummeted from 400,000 copies in October 2001 to just 250,000 in November 2001. Windows 98, meanwhile, had sold 580,000 copies in its first month on the market and 350,000 in its second. Microsoft chairman Bill Gates announced at CES 2002 in January that XP sales were "double" those of the previous version, using licenses sold by PC makers as the barometer for that statement.

Speaking of CES, Microsoft also revealed a software project there called Freestyle. This would go on to become Windows XP Media Center Edition, which entered the market in late 2002. Microsoft eventually shipped four different XP Media Center versions over the years, as well as two XP Tablet PC versions. But as Apple has so frequently reminded us, the Cupertino company shipped three versions of Mac OS X between XP's release in 2001 and Vista's release in 2006, while Microsoft never upgraded Windows. Curious.

By January, XP's security problems were so bad that Bill Gates wrote a memo called Trustworthy computing, a concept he described as the company's highest priority. "There are many changes Microsoft needs to make as a company to ensure and keep our customers' trust at every level - from the way we develop software, to our support efforts, to our operational and business practices. As software has become ever more complex, interdependent and interconnected, our reputation as a company has in turn become more vulnerable. Flaws in a single Microsoft product, service or policy not only affect the quality of our platform and services overall, but also our customers' view of us as a company."

What Gates was really saying was that Microsoft would begin promoting security over new features in its products. This switchover was years-long in the making, and the company eventually halted Windows Vista ("Longhorn") development for nine months so that it could go back and perform a full security review of XP.

And with that, we're just three months into XP's existence. Good times, good times.

By the way, Microsoft's Trustworthy Computing work eventually resulted in Windows XP SP2, which was given away free to customers in late 2004. XP SP2 was the first major software product revised during the Trustworthy Computing era and Vista, released in late 2006, was the first completely new Trustworthy Computing product. Note that the time delta between XP and XP2 was actually longer than the delta between XP SP2 and Vista. Just a thought for the next time you want to talk about product development time.

As for the Vista complaints of today, we might reflect for a moment on our short memories and remember that Windows XP, in just its first few months on the market, suffered from more problems that Vista has had in its entire lifetime so far. As with any major Windows release, Vista came with its share of compatibility and performance issues when compared to its predecessor (though those are almost completely resolved by now, of course). That's nothing new. But as XP heads off into a distant sunset, I prefer to be honest about that product. Yes, it was the best that Microsoft could do at the time and a big technical advance over the 9x versions of Windows. But Vista is the superior product, and that's especially true when you compare both XP and Vista with regards to the times in which they were respectively released.

Hasta la Vista, Windows XP.

What amazes me is how long this thing would be if I went back to find problems in XP's first full year. We really do paint a rosy picture of the past in our minds. I wonder if forgetting the bad times is a key way that people psychologically deal with life?

Performing Arts

Has anyone noticed that those in the performing arts Used to only get paid if they performed? I guess it was like that mankind's beginnings until the invention of electricity.

Pink Floyd founder tribute planned - Music news - Music - Virgin Media


Pink Floyd founder tribute planned

PA Entertainment

There will be an official tribute to Syd Barrett

A wealth of events marking "the first official tribute" to Pink Floyd founder Syd Barrett has been announced.

The City Wakes celebrates the pioneer of the 1960s psychedelic movement and lifts the lid on his early life, performed in Barrett's home city of Cambridge.

The production will run there from October 22 to November 2 this year, before a planned transfer to London.

The initiative is organised by arts and mental health charity and professional production house Escape Artists. The Pink Floyd legend's legacy will benefit the mental health charity, with proceeds from performances going towards the group.

The tribute is supported by Barrett's family and friends who are contributing include Pink Floyd's long-time art collaborator Storm Thorgerson, Barrett's photo-biographer Mick Rock and his close friend David Gale.

Beat poet and author William Pryor, film director Nigel Lesmoir-Gordon and film maker and glass artist Anthony Stern are also involved.

Barrett's sister Rosemary Breen said: "I am thrilled to be involved in this project. Syd, my brother, was someone for whom creativity was as necessary as breathing."

Planned events also involve an exhibition of Barrett's paintings including "never seen before" works displayed alongside rare memorabilia, original pieces from Thorgerson and photos from Rock.

Concert performances are also planned, presenting fresh interpretations of Barrett's songs, directed by musician and composer, Simon Gunton.

Barrett quit Pink Floyd in 1968 following a breakdown and in 2006 he died of cancer aged 60, leaving a will of £1.2 million.

Pink Floyd founder tribute planned - Music news - Music - Virgin Media

The World Of Diablo III Opens Its Gates After Eight Years Of Waiting

The World Of Diablo III Opens Its Gates After Eight Years Of Waiting

By Dee Chisamera
13:44, June 29th 2008
14 votes
Vote this story

Twenty years have passed since Diablo, Mephisto and Baal's defeat, but terrible events are bound to take over Tristram once again... These are the words that all Diablo-addicted gamers have been waiting to hear for years, and that moment has finally arrived.

This weekend's Worldwide Invitational held in Paris brought to light Blizzard Entertainment's most wanted and demanded game: Diablo III, the highly acclaimed action role-playing-game, is in the making and will be ready “when it's done,” as usual.

“We've wanted to expand on the epic story and gameplay elements of the Diablo universe for some time now,” stated Mike Morhaime, CEO and co-founder of Blizzard Entertainment. “We know that players have also been long awaiting a return to the series, so we're very excited to be sharing this announcement with Blizzard gamers here in Paris and around the world today.”

The story in Diablo III will continue the events in Diablo II, when Mephisto, Diablo and Baal have been defeated. The Worldstore, which once shielded the world of Sanctuary from the forces of the High Heavens and the Burning Hell, has been destroyed, and evil thrives once more.

When Deckard Cain returns to the ruins of Tristram's Cathedral, a comet carrying a dark omen calls upon the heroes of Sanctuary to defend their world against the horrors that have arisen.

Five distinct character classes will allow players to explore the world of Sanctuary and fight against the hordes of demons that have invaded the land. Two of them, the barbarian and the witch doctor, have been included in a presentation during the Paris announcement.

All classes will have a large array of spells and abilities that will help them fight monsters and difficult bosses in order to claim items of great power. The game will offer customization options for characters, as well as introduce a new class – the witch doctor – and completely redo on old one – the barbarian. More details on the other three classes will be announced at a later date.

The NPCs will be a combination of old acquaintances (Deckerd Cain and others) from Diablo II, as well as new ones. Players will also be able to explore old, as well as new areas of the Sanctuary.

All in all, Diablo III is based on a new 3D-graphics engine, rendering a high level of detail and special effects. The Havok-powered physics will allow players to use interactive and destructible environment to their advantage.

There will be a quest system, and Diablo wouldn't be Diablo without the random scripted events and the random-level generator.

For those who want more than the single-player experience, will continue to support the online gaming service for Diablo, just as before. However, this time, comes with an upgrade, making the online experience easy, fun and better than ever for players. More specific details are expected to be unveiled as development progresses.

The announcement of the highly anticipated action-RPG franchise also brought a punch in the face for console makers. Blizzard Entertainment is planning a simultaneous release of Diablo III on Windows and Macintosh PC platforms, which is likely to revitalize the PC industry like never before. Up to this point, the system requirements for the game have not been revealed.

Blizzard is planning on launching the game in several regions simultaneously, and possibly in several languages, but we can expect to hear more in the following months.

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Tags: Diablo III, Blizzard

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North Korea destroys reactor tower - North Korea-


North Korea destroys tower at nuclear complex

Pyongyang calls for end to 'hostile' U.S. policy after symbolic demolition


N. Korea destroys nuclear cooling tower
June 27: North Korea destroys the most visible symbol of its nuclear weapons program as it commits to stop making plutonium for atomic bombs.

updated 7:05 a.m. CT, Fri., June. 27, 2008

YONGBYON, North Korea - North Korea destroyed the most visible symbol of its nuclear weapons program Friday in a sign of its commitment to stop making plutonium for atomic bombs.

An explosion at the base of the cylindrical structure sent the tower collapsing into a cloud of white and gray smoke that billowed into blue skies as international journalists and diplomats looked on, according to video footage filmed by broadcaster APTN at the site.

The demolition of the 60-foot-tall cooling tower at the North’s main reactor complex is a response to U.S. concessions after the North delivered a declaration Thursday of its nuclear programs to be dismantled.

North Korea destroys reactor tower - North Korea-

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