Friday, May 23, 2014

Internet Gold - Will Ferrell and Chad Smith have a drum-off on Jimmy Fallon

This is what the internet is for! There has been a long running joke that Will Ferrell is the drummer for Red Hot Chili Peppers, since him and Chad Smith look so similar.

Chad Smith as Ricky Bobby
Will Ferrell did a reddit AMA where he actually admitted that he was Chad Smith, and that Will Ferrell wasn't a real person. 

Will Ferrell had a video on Instagram saying he's Chad Smith. 

Chad Smith made a reply video telling him to quit impersonating him, and challenged him to a drum-off. 

Then of course  hosted the drum-off on his show. Video of the drum-off via +J.P. Harvey 

On top of all that, there's a hilarious reference to the Saturday Night Live "more cowbell" skit, which happens to feature Jimmy Fallon in the background that can't keep a straight face. I really do love the internet.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Ingress updates: Improvements, but not there yet

I quit playing Ingress after the last Anomaly event in Austin. I still log in to charge my few remaining guardian portal candidates, but that's all I do. I have some opinions on what's changed, and what still needs to change. I'll break down my opinions below.

New Levels
I think this is a great improvement. Tying higher levels to AP and badges makes for more well rounded agents. Increasing remote charging range and XM storage limits are helpful, but not game changing. (Edit: I mistakenly thought that Ingress was increasing the amount of storage per level as well. Increased XM capacity isn't as good as additional storage, but it's still good). I think this is good enough incentive to encourage people to level, but not devastating for people that can't (or don't want to) play enough to get to level 16. The rumored requirements are difficult for just about everyone, but basically impossible for many players (like myself). I think they've chosen a good balance between rewarding people that can play a lot and not putting people that can't play a ton at a huge disadvantage.

Ultra strikes
This should never have been exclusive to one type of phone. Phones and carriers are expensive, and don't work everywhere. I'm all for unique in game items, and Ingress turning a profit, but this wasn't a good way to do it. Unique codes in Doritos? Sure, that's reasonable. Having to buy a new cell phone and switch carriers? Ridiculous. I do have a problem with Ultra strikes, but I'll cover that in a later section called GPS drift.

Capsules are a much needed improvement to the game. Overall, I think it's a good idea. I haven't used one yet, so I don't know if there are any issues with game play or UI, but from what I've seen, it looks good. I do think that they could make it even more useful if they created VR capsules that held 500 items. Yes, you could just pass the capsule back and forth 5 times, but why not just increase the capsule size? It doesn't hurt the game mechanics in any way, it just makes a game mechanic easier. For more info on capsules -

GPS Drift
Every cell phone or tablet I've tried playing Ingress on has issues with the location. Some devices are more accurate than others, but all of them have had issues. I don't know if this is an inherent problem in cell phones, or an issue with Ingress. I spent 10 minutes walking in circles in a parking lot trying to get an ultra strike to fire in a precise location. Sometimes I'd walk 10m, and it wouldn't move at all. Then, it would jump the 10m I actually walked, plus another 5 more. Correctly placing resonators at the max distance is tedious and annoying. Multiple times I've been standing still at the max distance, and my location either jumps to within a few meters of the portal, or jumps out of range. This game is supposed to get you off your ass and moving. It's not supposed to make you walk endlessly in small circles in a parking lot. I've attempted to incorporate Ingress into exercise routines, but GPS drift makes it difficult. Even when GPS is completely accurate, portals and resonators are not always in completely safe places. Resonators in streets are the perfect example. This game is already suspicious enough, do we really need to look completely crazy walking in circles, leaning over a bridge, or leaning against a limited access building to try and take out a resonator? I suggest that the game be changed to allow you to place resonators at what ever distance you want (to the max), as long as you are in range of the portal. I also think that you should be able to touch anywhere in the 40M radius around you to fire an XMP or ultra strike. Yes, there will always be portals that are hard to get to, but giving us a buffer of ~40M would eliminate the vast majority of gps drift issues.

Intel Map
Seriously? This is one of the worst parts of the game. It's slow. It's glitchy. It doesn't have any way of planning, making notes, sharing your location, communicating only with a group, or any other much needed tools. My suggestions is to either hire some of the third party add on developers, or create an API for them to use. I've helped with planning, and been an ops manager during large fielding operations. The Intel map is basically useless. All of the field art and mega fields? All of it was done with third party (against TOS) add-ons or some other mapping software. The most creative and dedicated players are at risk of being banned or have a ridiculously difficult time using tools not linked to Ingress data. This is pitiful and embarrassing. When helping with mega fields, I was using Glympse to know where all of the people playing were. Hangouts to send messages to different groups. Zello to communicate with people driving so they wouldn't die. The intel map with an addon that allowed creating virtual links between portals. It was still difficult to accomplish, and the mega fields weren't even that big.

So, after all that, am I coming back to Ingress? Not yet. If all of the issues I listed get fixed or improved, maybe. If it stays the way it is? Too many issues that directly affect the fun of it. 

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

AKO on Android no more?

Today is probably the last day that you will be able to check your AKO email on your Android phone without getting a very expensive Bluetooth CAC card reader. According to this, imap will stop working, and only CAC cards will be supported after 01DEC2011. For more info, you can log into AKO, and click on the CAC resource center button on the left of the screen. On the new page that opens, on the bottom left there is a link for email on your mobile phone. I'd provide the link, but it's behind the log in page and I'm not sure how they feel about links to internal resources. If you are an AKO user, you shouldn't have any problem finding it. If you aren't an AKO user, then you don't need to know about it.

Amazingly, the bluetooth CAC card readers only work on TWO Android devices, the Dell Streak 5 and 7 and an Iphone with a stupid bluetooth adapter (Iphone already has bluetooth correct?). They cost well over $200, some sources saying that there is also a yearly fee of about $50 for the software. It's amazing to me how ridiculous the army can be about security. There is supposed be a balance between security and accessibility. Make it too secure, and no one will use it effectively. Make it too accessible, and everyone, even people not supposed to use it, will be using it. The Army always errs on the side of caution, making it utterly unusable. As someone that travels often, and hardly ever has easy access to a desk, you just made my job much harder. That translates into you paying me the same amount, but not getting as much work out of me. Good job!

Currently, I'm able to log into AKO in a browser, and from my phone without any issues, but I'm sure I'll be less effective at my job soon enough.

Edit: Thought I should update this with a link to a guide I wrote to setup AKO, since this is still working for the time being. Here is a link for some news on the bluetooth CAC card as well. Still looks like it's only available on Dell phones.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Letter from a christian friend - Belief, faith, and Santa Claus

This post is actually written as a response to a friend of mine. I thought that I would post it here as it's a topic that relates well with this blog and it's been awhile since I've talked religion. I will try to write it in a way that you don't need to have a back story. I'm going to reference things that have already been said, but only in ways so that it's not necessary to know specifically what was said. I'm not attacking my friend's position, just giving my opinion of it (at his request actually), and I'm sending him an email with a link to this post, so if he feels that he needs to defend himself, he can. Friend, you know who you are, and if you wish to identify yourself, please feel free to comment as yourself, or if you would prefer, you can do so anonymously. It's been a few months since I've written this, and it's rather disjointed, and doesn't flow smoothly. I've been trying to rewrite it, but my heart just isn't in it. As many ideas as I have on religion, I just can't put much effort into discussing it, especially in the written word. I feel like I've seen behind the curtain at the magic show. I know the magician is just an illusionist, but no matter how I tell people about it, they still believe it's actual magic. I wouldn't mind people having the illusion if it was just a harmless magic show, but I think we all know that religion is much more dangerous than that. I could probably extend this post out to a book, but I don't think that it would be worth writing. There are already so many books on the subject written by brilliant people. So here is what has been written, sorry for the sloppiness of the writing. Maybe a comment would spark the creative part of my mind and get it back in the mood to write on the subject again.


It is common for believers to talk about atheists and use the words faith and belief. It is either a misunderstanding of an atheists position, or a semantic game with the words. While I do have faith in order to reach many of my conclusions, it is not the blind faith that religion requires (more on that later). The faith I have, is that this life and all my experiences are not all a part of some contrived joke, or experiment. There really is no way to know if we are in some kind of matrix, or in a dream world like in inception. Everything that we see, feel, smell, hear, etc could all be artificial and pushed into our brain from some self concealing source. Hell, our brain could be fake as well, and we could all be some kind of computer program that is being lied to. So how do I know that's not the case? I don't. I have faith that the things I experience are real based on their consistency, and the fact that I know nothing outside of those experiences. If it is all a lie, its a rather convincing lie, and there doesn't seem to be anything that I can do about it. Apparently I am not "the one" that can see the code. So I have faith that the this is all real, or at least that if it isn't, then anything I do in relation to this reality, is also apart of this reality and so therefore at least relevant to this reality. I may wake up and realize that I have been dreaming, but until I wake up, I will refrain from jumping off cliffs. I think you'll agree that we all have this type of faith because we exit buildings through the ground floor as long as we have the will to live. This faith is not the same type of faith that religious people have towards their religion.


There is also a common misconception that people that think evolution is true have faith. I do not have faith that evolution is true. I believe that with the mountains of evidence that it is the most likely explanation for how we got here. The theory of evolution is constantly being fine tuned to more accurately reflect what the evidence is telling us. Sometimes mistakes are made, or evidence pops up that contradicts an idea, and wait for it, this is big....scientific ideas change! Things that we erroneously thought are figured out to be wrong, and whatever was wrong gets replaced with a more accurate idea. There might be some people unwilling to change, stuck in there ways, but overwhelmingly the scientific community accepts those changes. Biologists don't argue about whether or not evolution happened, anyone with knowledge of it can't dispute it, there is too much evidence. Instead they discuss the finer points of how it specifically happened, in what order, and when. It is also completely false that evolution replaces a belief in god. There are plenty of people that are religious and also believe in evolution.


That is the major difference between faith, and science. Science is based on evidence, and faith is based on a decision. Once you have decided to believe in something, you believe in it without any evidence, even in spite of evidence. You can't prove that there is a god, or which one is real, you just have to believe. Otherwise we wouldn't have these discussions because it wouldn't be a faith based religion, it would be knowledge based. In fact, the more that you encounter contrary evidence to your belief, the more faith that you have to have to keep that belief. So the most faithful, doubt religion more than anyone else, but are stubbornly holding steadfast to their beliefs!


Pick any faith you don't believe in. What is different about their faith, compared to yours? They can't all be right, unless they are all partially wrong. There are millions of believers that have real true faith. If they can get comfort, be happy, be moral, do everything that you do, but in the wrong religion, then what difference does it make which religion you choose? The only thing that matters, is which one gets you into heaven or hell when you die. But there is no way for you to know who was right, since all of the dead people don't come back and tell you. What if believing in Jesus is blasphemy to the "true" religion and every christian has gone to hell and is burning to this day and into forever? There is no way to know. If it doesn't matter which religion, then why bother with religion at all?


Atheism is a religion like not collecting stamps is a hobby. Seriously, think about that. How can not believing in something be a religion.


The majority of religions challenge people to be a better, moral person. It's just an extra step though, you can challenge yourself to be a better more moral person without religion. You also won't blindly do what an ancient text says, and actually be immoral.


Finally, we get to Santa Claus! I believe that you specifically referenced the easter bunny, or maybe the tooth fairy, but it's all the same. We both agree that they are fabrications of the imagination, and if they are based  on reality in anyway, it is so exaggerated and distorted that it's not worth mentioning. The magical claims are universally known to be false to anyone over the age of 10. If I believed them to be true, no amount of talking to you would convince you of it's veracity. Every bit of contradicting logic or evidence that you bring into the conversation could easily be explained away with some form of magic or another. As a child gets a little closer to the age at which they will stop believing in Santa, they start asking tougher and tougher questions, the truth gets harder and harder to evade. The ones that really want to believe, come up with fantastical answers to cover up any incongruities. The solutions become more and more fantastical, requiring more and more magic to believe, until at some point, for whatever reason, the magic stops and it all comes crashing down like a house of cards. It's a great idea that you can get rewards for doing good. That the world is fair, and some jerk kid out there will get just reward for being an ass by receiving coal instead of a shiny new bike. Just because it's a great idea doesn't make it true, no matter how much you wish it were so.



Monday, March 14, 2011

I can't get to Blogger!

Not that I have been posting very regularly, but the network I'm on over here in Afghanistan won't let me get on to blogger. I can send posts via email (if this posted, that's how this posted), but I can't even check to see if they work! I can see comments because they come to me as an email, but I'm not sure how I can respond to them. I'm searching for an alternate source to the internet, so maybe that will allow me to respond better. Thanks for everyone that comes this way and reads my opinions!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Chrome OS Laptop CR-48 developer channel update (Official Build 2a517638) dev x86-mario

I've been using the CR-48 Chrome OS beta laptop that Google sent me quite a bit. It's got a great battery life, and it's really easy to use. It's very responsive, especially when coming out of sleep or when booting. I also like how I can let anyone use it without having to worry about my data or settings being messed with, and that they can also use it without worrying about me getting passwords, history, etc. It really has been a useful little computer.

As useful as it is, it's very limited when it comes to things not web related. It doesn't have a media player, it doesn't have a file browser, and most of the apps that you would expect on a laptop can't be used if you don't have an internet connection. The good news though, is that it's beta, and it's actively being developed, so of course it's going to change. Today I noticed that the settings wrench in the upper right corner had a little icon on it trying to get my attention. I had set the laptop to the development channel, but there hadn't been an update available yet. Turned out that there was already one available and downloaded for me today. All it took was a restart.

Best things about it so far-
  • You can now sync passwords along with your other synced settings. I have been slightly impatiently waiting for this one!
  • There is now a file browser. It recognizes thumb drives and SD cards. I took a picture with my camera and put the SD card into the SD card slot on the side of my CR-48. When I went to upload photos the above picture was there. That's how I loaded it. It is rather limited. There doesn't seem to be a way to cut/copy/paste files, or to move them around. You can delete, but that seems to be it for now. For some reason, some drives show up and others don't. I haven't figured out what the difference is yet, as I had two small micro sd cards, both formatted FAT32, one worked one didn't.
  • There is a media player now as well! I only tested an mp4 video that I ripped from a DVD and a few mp3 files. It seems to work pretty well, but it's very limited in nature. When you open a media file it opens in a little popup window. You can make it full screen, well mostly, it keeps the buttons and bars across the bottom and a small black bar on each side of the screen. There is a playlist, but you have to individually click each file and add it.
Not bad for the first big update. That at least touched on all three of my main complaints. There is a file browser and a media player, albeit simple ones, and they both can be used without an internet connection. Now you don't have to be completely dead in the water if you aren't connected. If Google documents was capable of working offline then I think you could have a viable alternative computer with only minimal problems/quirks. The CR-48 is not a production model, so although it has a small internal hard drive with very minimal space, that is not how a purchased laptop would be.

Note: If you are having a hard time finding out where advanced file system and the media player are, they have to be enabled first. Type about:flag in the omni bar and hit enter. It will bring up a window with various flags that can be enabled. They are not exactly stable, but I have had but a single lockup so far.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

ASStrology is fake? OH no, what will we do?

So, amazingly, people are just now figuring out that there are actually 13 signs (Ophiuchus) and that astrology has been out of alignment for hundreds of years and is now almost a month off of what it "should be". This means that almost everyone's sign is not what they think it is. That means that every time that you thought a horoscope was right, it wasn't actually talking about you. Here is a mostly good article on it.

Only part that they got wrong is this quote.

But, don't expect your horoscope reading to change. Scientists say this rotation has been known about since 500 B.C. and the horoscope calendar hasn't moved.

The horoscope may not change, but what your sign is has changed. That means your horoscope is different! Oh man, got caught up correcting people on Twitter. Must let ignorance continue, there are too many of them.