Tuesday, May 31, 2011

So You Wanna Start Programming

There are a tonne of resources out there for any novice to gain programming experience.  Plenty of books exist on the subject, and they're all great.  But there are very few resources out there like Hackety Hack.

This program teaches you how to program in Ruby, a very recent object-oriented programming language that is most commonly associated with Ruby on Rails, a web application framework.  It is a very interactive way to learn how to program, and I highly recommend it to people that want to learn the mystic ways of the code.  Check it out!

Monday, May 30, 2011

I've Seen the Light

When I first learned to program, I learned in C++.  It was a pretty daunting task, but I grew to love the language.  I grew very familiar with it, and soon I started to learn other languages.  I learned some Python, OCaml, Ruby, etc., but I still felt that C++ was my favorite.  Granted, each language has its advantages and disadvantages, but I became quite a bit of a fanboy.  Then I started to learn Java.

I was very hesitant at first.  "This is a cheap ripoff of C++, this sucks!"  I tried not to like it, but the more and more I worked with it, the more I grew to appreciate all of its features.  Automatic garbage collection, great class hierarchy, and a plethora of libraries full of methods (still getting used to calling things "methods" instead of "functions").  Add to the mix the awesome Eclipse IDE, and you have such a great development environment, you're ready to start making some sweet programs.  I know this may be a bit confusing to people who don't know anything about programming, but I should be posting some How-To's in a few days, so stay tuned!  Until then, I'm going to keep working with this bad boy, and maybe crank out a few Android Apps while I'm at it.  But that's probably a bit ambitious.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Movie Recommendation: Dawn of the Dead

I'm a huge zombie fan.  I follow the zombie genre of any medium, be it games, movies, or comics.  The zombie scene seems to have exploded as of recent, and it is getting flooded with a lot of crap.  Really bad stuff.  So I'm here to try and steer anybody interested in the right direction.  My recommendation for this Friday:  Dawn of the Dead.

Now I recommend the remake over the original for a few reasons.  I think that it is much more interesting for someone who hasn't seen too many zombie films.  The original is a classic, but was plagued by a very low budget.  The remake takes a few liberties afforded to it by being set in modern days, and makes it work really well.  A zombie epidemic is set loose upon the world, and a few survivors are trying to hold up in an abandoned mall.  The movie has great character dynamics, as well as a few noticeable actors such as Ving Rhames and Mekhi Phifer.

The special effects are very nice, something that seems like a must these days.  But the effects aren't there to cover up a bad movie, only to expand on it.  My only gripe with this movie is the fast zombies.  I'm an old school zombie guy myself, but they make fast zombies work nonetheless.  If you guys want to go to the movies this weekend, go see The Hangover Part II.  If you want to stay in and watch a film, check out Dawn of the Dead.  Have a good Memorial Day weekend!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Software I Recommend

Auslogics BoostSpeed is a great suite of programs designed to speed up your Windows-based computer.  It can optimize so many aspects of your computer's performance that once you use it, you'll be pissed off whenever you use someone else's inefficient piece of crap.  With something this good, there has to be a drawback.  Right?  Well there is: you have to pay money for it.


Here's some good news for you all!  You can get just about the same increase in speed and performance, all for free!  The only drawback to this is that you must scour the internet for all the programs that emulate what this amazing suite can do.  Or you can just read on and get them all here.  Whichever works.

Disk Space Fan

This is definitely one of the prettier programs out there.  It shows you all of the files that are taking up space on your computer.  Running out of hard drive space and you don't know why?  Fire this up and track down all that porn....err....important work documents that are taking up so much space.  It displays all your data in an easy-to-use and intuitive manner.  Give this program a shot.


This great program does 3 tasks in one!  It tidies up your registry, checking for errors and fixing them where needed.  It also keeps track of what online activity you have and "cleans" that appropriately.  Lastly, it also keeps tabs on your installed programs, giving a much cleaner management interface than the default one provided by Windows.  Definitely worth a look.

TCP Optimizer

This is a great program for novices and experts alike.  It optimizes the way your computer handles TCP packets from your internet connection.  This kind of modification vastly increases your connection performance on many levels.  It also has a tonne of different options that you can tweak if you're brave enough, customizing your connection to your needs.  There's a nifty video on the website if you want to check it out.

Auslogics Boostspeed offers many more features, but these are the ones I felt were most important.  Have any experience with these?  Comment and let me know what you think.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Mortal Kombat Legacy

I'm a huge fan of Mortal Kombat.  I grew up playing these games, and I absolutely love the newest game, simply titled Mortal Kombat.  The game itself offers longtime fans of the series a great return to its roots.  All of the most memorable characters are there, all the great stages make a return, and the game is packed with tonnes of Easter eggs.  New players to the series can appreciate the fighting system that has been refined in this game, and will not feel out of place amongst older fans of the series.  Along with a revival of the game series, there is also a revival of the film franchise.  Mortal Kombat Legacy is a gritty re-imagining of the series' deep mythos, made to fit into more modern times.  The liberties that are taken with this series are all very interesting, and fit really well into this new world that is being created to house such diverse characters.  All the palette swap ninjas come to life in this series, along with other fan favorites.  Here is the trailer that spawned the web series; if you like this you should definitely check out the series here.


Monday, May 23, 2011

Moore's Law Still Holds True

Amidst lots of finals work to be done, I felt like I needed to post something still.  So here's a really great video the people over at Intel released.  This new transistor technology is really exciting, and is going to revolutionize technology, possibly creating a monopoly in processor distribution.  Let's hope AMD pulls out the big guns.

You can see more about this amazing technology here.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Web Comic Recommendation: Anders ♥ Maria

I might have mentioned in the comments of my first post on this here blog that I'm a huge fan of Questionable Content. It's a great comic with a healthy dose of humor, character development, and music. Granted, I don't understand most of the music jokes they make, it is still not an alienating aspect. But this is not the comic I am recommending. A comic that I found through this comic is called Anders ♥ Maria.

It is the story of two lovers that go through the trials and error of romance. Theirs is a story of love that is anything but perfect. It gives one a look into the gritty aspects of human relationships that aren't always talked about. Reading this comic is frustrating at times because the characters do so many stupid things. Yet it's this aspect that is so endearing. No one is perfect, and everyone does stupid things.

The humor in this comic ranges anywhere between witty one-liners, to incredibly black comedy. It gives the reader a view of the funny things in life that one doesn't usually find so funny. It was infuriating keeping up with this comic, because the author Rene Engström was very volatile with her updates. But now that the comic has concluded, I wholeheartedly recommend you check this comic out.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Film Recommendation Friday

I decided, starting now, to make it a habit of recommending a film I really like to my readers.  I hope you like the movies I recommend as much as I do. So here is one of my all-time favorite movies, and why you should watch it.

Comedy - The 40-Year-Old-Virgin

Jesus man, where do I begin?  I saw this movie when it came out, and I was in my teens at the time.  Needless to say, it had a lasting impact on me.  The casting was great, giving Steve Carell a chance to do some of that great awkward comedy he would be known for later on in works like The Office and Dinner for Shmucks.  It also brought some new actors into the scene as well, such as Seth Rogen and Jonah Hill.  The great bro-dynamic the characters had, mixed with the horrible learning experience of Steve Carell's character, and the constant poking and prodding of Steve Carell's ego is just too much fun.  This movie also launched the career of Judd Appatow, previously only known for Freaks and Geeks and Undeclared.  This led to a string of movies, such as Knocked Up, Superbad, and Pineapple Express.  This film heralded an era of comedy, much like Adam Sandler had in the 90's.  So if you have nothing better to do on a Friday night (and I sincerely hope that is not the case), do yourself a favor and check this movie out.  Even if you've already watched it, watching it again reminds you of why this movie is so good.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Games I Should Really Finish

As an avid PC gamer, Steam and I are like this!  (Imagine me crossing my index and middle fingers)  It gives you so much freedom with your games, has built-in chat, and saves all your game settings across multiple computers.  Aside from being a great game platform, it is also a distribution system for many developers.  That means that they always have sweet, sweet deals.  Whenever I see something like Braid for only $2.50, I must have it.  That being said, I now have so many games that I really need to play.  So many in fact, that it almost seems like a chore.  I found that I need to carefully plan out which games I must finish, and in which order.  So here is my list, in order of priority, of the games I must finish.

This is such a unique and fun game.  The game mechanics introduced in this game are ideal for playing with a bunch of friends.  You play as a nameless wizard who must dungeon crawl and use a unique set of abilites in a variety of combinations.  It's fun, it's addicting, but it also suffered from a large amount of bugs on launch.  This made it very frustrating to play, so I haven't touched it in months.  Hopefully with the new DLC releases, some of these issues have been fixed.

Super Meat Boy
What a premise: a boy made of meat must rescue his girlfriend who is made of bandages from the evil Dr. Fetus.  This ridiculous setting is backed up by some of the most intense platforming I've ever experienced.  Full of a shit-ton of short-and-sweet levels, a variety of characters, and a level-editor; this game has a ton of replayability.  I started this game enthusiastically, but then I had Christmas break and I wasn't able to play.  Once my break was over, the fervour I once had was gone.  But with summer coming soon and plenty of batteries for my gamepad, this is a top priority of mine.

S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Series
I've heard incredible things about these games.  I've seen many screenshots and videos of this game and they look gorgeous.  So why haven't I played these games yet?  The incredibly immersive environments and unique gameplay features make it a great game experience, but I hear that it also takes a while to beat.  Add to the fact that I have Shadows of Chernobyl and Call of Pripyat, and we have a very daunting task ahead of me.

Company of Heroes
$2.50!!!  That's how much I got this for, how could I resist?  I'm not a huge fan of RTS games, but I have heard great things about both the gameplay and storyline.  Plus it's set in WWII; what was once a fad in the early 2000's is now a rarity in today's games full of modern warfare.  (See what I did there?)  Now to train myself to handle so many actions at once, I hope my feeble mind can take it.

Games that I should finish but probably won't:
Machinarium - Got it in the Humble Indie Bundle, haven't touched it.
Overlord - Same deal.
Deus Ex - People are totally going to flame me, but I just can't bring myself to play it.  I know it's supposed to be amazing, but I just....meh.

So what's the verdict?  Are any of these games worth my time?  Please let me know, I should probably do more productive things with my time than playing a ton of video games.  Oh who am I kidding?

On Android Vulnerability Issues

I keep seeing people freak out about the recent Android OS vulnerability that affects users who have 2.3.1 or older.  Keep in mind that this vulnerability only affects those who use WiFi.  If you're in your own network at home, you don't have much to worry about.  Basically, just don't connect to strange WiFi networks and you'll be A-O-good.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Comic Recommendation: Marvels

The first Saturday of May, as some of you might be aware, is Free Comic Day.  I took advantage of this and visited my local comic store and picked what I think is a great compilation.

Marvels was a four issue comic series released in the mid 90's, and I sadly did not know about it until a few years ago.  It tells the story of a news photographer named Phil Sheldon who is witness to the rise of the superhero, referred  to at first as "Marvels".  It is a great place to start for people who don't really read comics or are familiar with the cannon.  You won't find parallel universes or doppelganger clones here, only really solid storytelling that focuses more on Sheldon's perspective of things rather than the heroes themselves.  This may sound kinda counter-intuitive: who the hell reads comics for the regular people in them?  Yet the great dialog and character development pulls you in and smothers you with a pillow made of plot development and drama.

The art style here is very unique, and quite frankly, gorgeous.  Alex Ross worked on the art; many might recognize it from the DC mini-series Kingdom Come.  It looks very realistic, while at the same time not making superheroes look ridiculous, a la Batman and Robin.  Emotion is conveyed well by this drawing style, and ultimately gives characters more depth.

So if you're new to comics or just want a short-but-sweet read, check out Marvels!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

My 5 Favorite Android Apps So Far...

I got a T-Mobile G2 about 5 months ago.  I don't know how I ever lived without one.  Besides the awesome hardware the phone boasts (which leads to awesome overclocking), it also sports what is arguably the best mobile OS of any smartphone available.  So here is a list of some of my favorite apps:

  1. HandCent  is meant as a replacement for the standard text messaging app.  While not bad, it just isn't as robust as HandCent can be.  With so many customization options, it can be crafted to fit your messaging needs.  A word of warning: the pop-up messenger setting is set by default.  I'm not particularly fond of it, as it uses more phone resources than I'd like.  If you don't like it, just disable it.
  2.  Dropbox is amazing.  It's even more amazing to have it on the go.  With the ability to play music and movies from it, you can take things on the go, without actually taking them with you.  Overall just a great app to have.
  3. Amazon MP3 is an app I hated having on my phone.  It came preloaded at first, instantly earning my scorn.  But once Amazon started up its CloudPlayer service, things changed.  I have my music backed up online, so I can listen to it anywhere, especially my phone.  You can also use the CloudDrive to store other files, but I personally prefer to use Dropbox for that.
  4. Words with Friends is so damn addicting, especially when you have multiple games going on.  This Scrabble clone is only 2 players sadly, and the ads can be annoying, but it's still free.  Most satisfying thing about this game is plugging letter tiles into the board until something miraculously fits.  That's how I found out azido is a word.
  5. Home++ is a great replacement for the standard Launcher app.  It has many awesome features, including circular scrolling and a built-in task killer.  The one notable drawback I can see turning people away from this app is its inability to use live wallpapers.  This isn't a huge issue for me, since I turn those off to conserve battery power, but I can see it being a deal breaker.  If this isn't an issue, definitely check it out.
Honorable Mentions:
  • Rage Faces is just too funny.  You can find the most appropriate (or inappriopriate) uses for them in many text conversations, although not very many people will get the meme humor.  Use with caution.
  • Chandroid is a great image board viewer.  It gives you great features, such as archiving threads and selecting favorite boards.  But the volatile nature of image boards makes it a risky app for people to see.  Plus, it costs money.  Exercise more caution with this one.
  • SetCPU works wonders with your phone.  I use it to help monitor my overclocked processor, but there are many benefits for non-root users.  You can set your processor to be underclocked when you are not using it, such as when the screen is off, so it can conserve more battery power.  Only drawback is that you must pay for this app, but it's totally worth it.
That's it for now. If I find anymore cool apps, I'll post it here.  In the meantime, I'd love to hear what apps people recommend.  So get to commenting!

Monday, May 16, 2011


So this is my blog.  I'll be writing about things that are of particular interests to me.  These topics include, but are not limited to:

  • Computer software and technology
  • Software design and programming
  • Video games (Mostly PC, but I don't really discriminate)
  • Comics(Web and otherwise)
  • Cartoons of all sorts
And whatever else strikes my fancy.  I don't have too many controversial opinions, and I don't really shoot other people's opinions down, unless there is some core, fundamental disagreement that chills me to my bone.  So if someone wants to comment on my posts, please feel free to, I doubt it will start any kind of flame war.   I plan on updating this at least once every 2 or 3 days, or whenever something important comes up.  So yeah, looking forward to starting my first blog!