Recommended Unusual Software

Essentially, this is software you didn’t know you needed. Everyone knows you need Firefox, and an IM program, and a word processor, but there’s stuff out there that’s really useful, but relatively unknown. Also, everything in this list is free. Sometimes free as in beer, and sometimes free as in speech. Also, this is Windows centric. I respect the fact that other OSes exist, but I like my Windows.

Paint.NET is the top of the list. People who know they need high powered graphics programs get Photoshop. However, not everyone can afford Photoshop, or needs the power it provides. Paint.NET is a better featured paint program that MS Paint. Plus, it has plug-in features, allowing third parties to add even more functionality

Switcher is like Expose, but for Windows Vista. It’s extremely useful when you’re a heavy multitasker.

WikidPad is handy whenever you’re thinking about something, and want to write it down, but what you’re expressing is non-linear. It’s a wiki in a can.

PasswordSafe is to store all your passwords. Everyone eventually ends up with 5 billion accounts on different sites, and because you can never remember all the passwords, you end up using the same password everywhere. A better idea is this program. You remember a master password, and after that, the program remembers all your other passwords. Thus, you can have different passwords for each site. You can set it up so it knows which website is associated with an account. It can also automatically type in your username and password, thus making it a simple matter of a couple of key presses to log in to any website you need to.

uTorrent – You pirate stuff. Everyone does. Or maybe you don’t, but in a number of cases, bittorrent is the fastest way to download a file. So, you need a client. uTorrent is that client. It’s well featured, but not bloated, like a number of other clients, such as Azerus.

Combined Community Codec Pack (CCCP) – So you’ve… acquired video files, but you can’t play them, because you don’t have the codec required. This is the solution.

Media Player Classic – admittedly, this hasn’t been updated in sometime. On the other hand, it’s much better than all version of WMP from 7-10, in my opinion. Additionally, it’s bundled in with CCCP, so if you get that, you also get this. Pretty much the only reason why I don’t use it very often anymore is because I like the glassy eye candy that is WMP11 on Vista.

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A Desert Called Peace and Carnifex

These are a pair of books by Tom Kratman. He’s a bit loopy politically, and it shows somewhat in the books. These books are essentially a set of what ifs. In them he rails against radical Islam, transnationalism (ex: the UN, Amnesty International, et al). The basic setup is that of an alternate Earth of sorts. All the undesirables are shipped off to Terra Nova, and thence start a new life on a new planet. Of course, since they’re still just like us, they have all the problems we do. One of the biggest problems with these books is that Kratman fails to diverge from history enough. Yes, history repeats itself, but he has it repeating itself too closely, including the Japan analog getting bombed by the US analog.

That said, it’s some excellent mil SF. The descriptions of combat are fairly believable, and well written. He also includes what could be called nothing other than a political tract at the end of each book. It’s definitely not going to be to everyone’s taste. Especially those of highly liberal leanings.

Recommended with reservations.

Amazon links: A Desert Called Peace; Carnifex

Um, yeah

Obviously, I haven’t been keeping up with the posting schedule I had… let’s go with promised. Deal with it. Since my last post, a whole host of things has happened. In no particular order:

  • Watched a bunch of anime.
  • Went to my sister’s wedding.
  • Got married.
  • Heard my other sister got engaged.
  • Moved to my own apartment.
  • Went to Airman Leadership School.
  • Started watching Zero Punctuation Reviews.
  • Had nothing to do at work. Again.
  • Moved to a different building on base.
  • Discovered Sabaton (Review later)
  • Started playing World in Conflict (Review later, again)
  • Lusted over the iPhone more.
  • Lusted over the Asus EEE.
  • Lost a hard drive
  • Gained a hard drive
  • Forgotten passwords.

I’ll get better soon. Probably.

Gakuen Utopia Manabi Straight

It’s a sci-fi girls’ high school comedy show. It’s 12 episodes long. The central cast consist of 5 girls: Amamiya Manami, who is so genki she’s nearly unstoppable, Inamori Mika, the shy student council secretary, Uehara Mutsuki, a great athlete, Eto Mei, a shy girl who acts standoffish, and Odori Momoha, whose antics probably should have resulted in her getting thrown out of school.

Most of the show is about the student council’s trials and tribulations in putting on a school fair. There’s a lot of comedy involved, but it’s not entirely about the jokes. It has a somewhat idiosyncratic art style (all the girls look like they could be in elementary school, they are in high school).

Recommended

Road trip

So, on Friday I left for my fiancée’s graduation. Since she was moving in with me, we had to pack all of here stuff into her car and drive up to Colorado Springs. Not really a problem, though Saturday was somewhat hectic from trying to get her room ready for inspection. We didn’t manage to get everything into the car. We ended up having to get two fairly large boxes mailed to us.

While I was down there, my fiancée had me meet all of her friends from college. Ended up going to a bar known as the Bear on Friday night, and went to the Sierra Nevada Brewery Sunday evening. We ended up leaving a bit early on Friday. She doesn’t react well to loud music. At the brewery, we got two of the beer samplers. I ended up trying a sip out of all of the beers, and found, I don’t really like any of them. Beer isn’t for me, I guess.

We also visited with some of her family. We had dinner at Olive Garden on Saturday. Also there were her younger sister, her mom, and her stepfather. While we were there, J received her graduation present from her mom (I should get her one soonish, probably). It was a Canon SD1000 Elph camera. It’s a really nice camera, and it got a lot of use during the car trip. More on the car trip later. We also visited some of her relatives who lived in Chico. They’re all much older than she is. She doesn’t really have any relatives her own age, because both parents are only children.

The graduation itself was fairly boring, but then, most of them are. It was a fairly large commencement ceremony. It took about half an hour for the graduating class to file onto the field, and they had already split the ceremony in half, with half the class having been done on the previous day.

The road trip itself was fairly uneventful for the first section I drove. This was the section from Chico to a little ways from Sacramento. Once we started going up US 50, towards Tahoe, is when it first started going horribly wrong. The first clue was the clouds of smoke coming from the engine compartment. At that point, the only real thing we could do was hope nothing too horrible had gone wrong.

It was a forlorn hope. The car seemed to be going just fine, the rest of the way to Tahoe, and we even stopped at a wedding chapel to talk to the people there. Going downhill from Tahoe was also just fine. I think it was largely because it was downhill though. Once we got back onto the flats of Nevada, we started having problems big time. We think it was the transmission that blew up. Luckily the car mostly gave up the ghost in a decently sized town (Carson City, NV). We had planned on getting farther into Nevada, but quite obviously weren’t. We stayed the night at a Quality Inn, and ended up selling the car to a tow truck driver for $50.

From there, we ended up renting a car (from Hertz). It was a 2007 Ford Taurus. Wasn’t a bad car, though a bit large, and J wasn’t used to driving anything but her own car. It was a good thing she wasn’t driving in a big city, for the most part. Because the car was bigger, it wasn’t hard to fit everything into it that was in the old one.

The next stop on the road was Moab, UT. We stayed at my Aunt’s that night. It was a long drive from Carson City (12 hours or so), so we got in pretty late. The original plan was that we stay there for a day, but because we had a rental at that point, we didn’t really have a choice about staying. Doing so would have cost us $150. Not really an option. I ended up in an argument with my cousin Cat about it, since she wanted us to stay another day. I promised to see her next Thanksgiving.

We got to Colorado Springs that day. When we got in, it was raining. Moving in the stuff wasn’t fun. And then we still have to get everything sorted out. It’s going to take a while.

The Diamond Age

The Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson essentially the story of the growing up of a girl named Nell, after nanotechnology has changed the economic structure of the world. One of the wonders that has resulted from this revolution is a tome called “A Young Lady’s Illustrated Primer”. Essentially, it’s a book that teaches Nell everything she needs to know, including how to read. The copy she has was a stolen bootleg copy of what was supposed to be a one of a kind device for a Duke’s granddaughter. Part of the setup was that voice actors would do the requisite voice work, instead of using a computer generated voice to do so. Thus, Nell gained a mother that she didn’t really have before.

Naturally, it wouldn’t very exciting if all the stuff that happened to her was good. At one point she ends up having to use a sword against a group of men who were fairly intent on killing not only her, but all the rest of the westerners that were in the area.

A good portion of the story is of what her alter ego does in a story the book tells to her. This alter-ego goes from being locked up in a dark citadel, to fighting the Fairy Kings and eventually gaining control over the entire Land Beyond, as the final area is known. Now, since the book is actually a highly advanced computer, the story is more of an RPG that she’s playing at times than what you or I would read in a novel.

Highly Recommended.

Broke dick car

So I get off work today, walk to my car, and start it up. Or rather, I attempt to. The key turns but the engine goes ” “. Nothing to be heard from it. Knowing my battery cable is a bit loose (which is bad, but hasn’t been a problem before), I jiggle it a bit. No dice. I try again. I continue to fail. Eventually a nice lady who works at my building offers to give me a jump. That fails, though different. The engine turns over, but the engine doesn’t catch. It doesn’t even attempt to. A couple tries later, we give it up for dead. So my car’s sitting at work. *sigh* It only had to last a week. Then my fiancée would have been here and I’d at least have another car to use. Ah, well, I’ll fix it after I get back.