Monday, January 31, 2011


Over the last week or so I have been trying very hard to program. Yet, with each book or tutorial I attempted to read, I became confused and frustrated. I just couldn't understand these languages, or the way the person was trying to teach them. It really bothered me because this is something I would like to learn in life. I jumped from site to site, language to language, but I just couldn't get it. So, I resorted to asking reddit. I posted a thread in the sub reddit, /r/learntoprogram, about how I was having so much trouble. I wrote in the post that I really would like to learn, it is just not clear from all these tutorials where I should start. I got many great replies, but one of them caught my eye. It was an invitation to a site called The poster said that they were just about to start learning to make video games, and up until then they hadn't learned any code. So I thought, what the heck lets give it a go. To my surprise, his method of teaching was very good and straight forward. Now, although we were working with what he called "pseudo code", it was still fun and easy. Sure it wasn't the real thing, but the lessons and assignments were to help you develop the idea that you can do anything if you put your mind to it. After completing all the lessons thus far, and the assignments that go with them, I was awarded some database space which I can use in the future to host my code and try it out. I am very excited for this, and I can't wait until we actually start working with some code.


Sunday, January 30, 2011


As many of you may know, a couple days ago I posted an article about converting video files of the .VOB format. I was looking all over for a solution, but everything I found was costly. So what was I to do? Well, I went to Reddit, and asked the people of /r/software, a sub reddit, if they had any ideas. Reddit, for those of you who don't know, is a giant social media area were people can come and ask questions, give answer, or just discuss topics. A sub reddit is a lot like a sub forum. The sub reddit has a specific purpose, to deal with a certain topic. Anyway, the people in /r/software were able to help me out. One of them told me about a program call ffmegx. ffmegx is a freeware video conversion software. I downloaded it and decided to give it a try. To my surprise, it converted the file with no issues at all. Thanks to that redditor, I can tell the person who needed the file that I was successfully able to convert it. Thanks reddit!


Saturday, January 29, 2011


One of the other applications I found while browsing the Mac Store was the iProcrastinate application. The application is suppose to help you keep yourself organized and on track. It allows you to create categories for classes/subjects, and then allows you to add the task at hand to the appropriate class/subject. You are also given the options to add steps to the project, as well as files linked to it. Now, this is all fine and dandy, but the program barely helps you. It makes no attempt to notify you when a project is due. There is no alert that comes up saying "I see you haven't been working, GET TO WORK!". It would be nice if they add the ability to sync with iCal, that would also make things more convenient. More or less I have found this program to waste my time. However, for now I am holding on to it in the event they update it and make it more useful.


Friday, January 28, 2011


I am always open to trying new applications. When I found Alfred on the Mac Store, I was intrigued by what it did. Alfred is a free productivity application for Mac. It allows you to do a slew of things. For example, it allows you to search files on your computer. At first, some might say "Why not use spotlight?". Well, the simple answer is Spotlight search is slower then Alfred. In addition, Alfred can search Google, Amazon, and even Wikipedia. Alfred can define words, or help you spell a word by guessing what you are trying to spell. If you really like what Alfred does, then you can upgrade to the Powerpack. Powerpack is a $15 extension that add many features to Alfred. Some of these features in clude: An iTunes mini player, a Finder navigator, an Email searcher, and much more. You can try Alfred now for free on the Mac Store.


Thursday, January 27, 2011

Sometimes, it is Best to Skip

As you may recall, yesterday I discussed a new game that was to be released. I had been eyeing this game, and was excited about its being released. Come the time at which the game was released, I had my money in hand and was ready to buy. However, before buying I wanted to double check that this was really the game I wanted. I wanted to check if this was really going to live up to my expectation. Was this going to be the Call of Duty killer my friend told me it would be? Would it surpass Battlefield Bad Company 2? I went online and searched google for reviews. To my surprise, many sites didn't like the game. Most said it was average, and the only gameplay mechanic it had going for it was the destructible environment. Graphics were sub par, and sound quality was below standards. I was really surprised. I had waited almost eight months for this game. So, with much vexation, I put my money away and saved it. Now that I look back on the whole event, I am glad I didn't spend my money. I can proudly say I am saving it.


Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Breach on Sale Today

Breach is going on sale today. For those of you who don't know, Breach is a multiplayer gamer which boasts having the most destructible environments. It also uses a third person cover system, and an amazing physics engine. The game is what I would like to call the "Battlefield Bad Company 2 of Indie Games". The game is to be released on both Xbox 360 and PC today. The PC version will go on sale at 1 PM. Price is said to be between $15-20. The game is multiplayer only, and has been due for release for quite a while now. It was suppose to be released last year in the fall, but was not quite ready so it was pushed back. Whether or not this game will live up to its hype is to be seen, but I can only hope that it does.


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Best Buy is Really Strumming My Cords

I have been waiting since last year's E3 show for the ability to pre-order the pro Rock Band guitar. However, only Best Buy is selling it. And not only that, but you can only pre-order online for this guitar. Does not sound so bad right? Wrong! To pre-order online requires you pay the full amount up front. That means $279.99 on the spot. It is not like GameStop where you can put $5 down and then pay the full amount later. That is the reason I like GameStop over Best Buy, they are more reasonable. Now, Best Buy has some good costumer service, but options like this really annoy me. The reason GameStop is better is because putting $5 down first allows the buyer to save up for the final product. I do this with all my games, pre-order and then save up. This way I am able to buy the product when it comes out. So, if Best Buy wants my business when it comes to expensive products online, I suggest they change their pre-order policy. I am not shelling out $300 dollars on a product before it is even ready to ship.


Monday, January 24, 2011

My Security is Somewhat Essential

When you buy a new computer, many people say it is essential that you have virus protection. I agree with that, but only to an extent. Most virus protection software costs money. Not only that, but the programs just keep growing in size and slow down your computer immensely. I, however, have a method of keeping my computer safe. This method, which my friend taught me, is very simple. When you first get your computer, download everything you need right there and then. That means your drivers, programs, and games. Then, when you are done, install something lightweight like Microsoft Security Essentials. From then on out, don't download anything from the web unless you absolutely need it. For example, don't just download random programs and try them out. Instead, read up on them and see if they are worth it. Most of the time those programs aren't helpful at all. The only thing you really should be downloading are drivers for your computer. And, if possible, try to store as few documents as possible on your computer. That means you should utilize things like Google Docs or Dropbox. This way, you keep your files in a safe place, and they can be accessed from any computer. I have instituted this policy, and so far I have not had any viruses. I do a full scan of my computer once per week, just to make sure I am safe. And, in the event in which I do obtain a dangerous virus, I can wipe my hard drive and start new because I don't store any important information on my computer. In addition to that, most of my games are on Steam so I can re-download them without hassle.


Sunday, January 23, 2011

Video Conversion Should Be Easy

I was given the job to convert a video for someone. The video on the CD they gave me is a .VOB file, also known as a Video Object file. They wished for me to convert it to an MP4, or at least something useable in Final Cut Pro for editing purposes. So I immediately thought this would be easy. My plan was to just put the CD in my computer, and run the files through VLC media player and have them converted. That was my plan, but what actually happen did not work out like that. When I set the conversion up, everything seemed fine. However, when I played the final video it was choppy, frames had been lost, and there was no sound. I tried multiple methods to try and have it work, but to no success. Most people would think this would be easy, but of course for me it never is. So now, my challenge is to find a software tool for Mac, which is free, which allows me to convert .VOB files. Do you have any suggestions? If you know of a good application, please leave a comment below.


Saturday, January 22, 2011

Sysinternal Suite

It was suggested to me by a reader that I have a look at Sysinternal Suite from Microsoft. The reader said that this is better then using Run and typing "msconfig". What Sysinternal comes with is a bunch of executable, that is .exe, files. Each file does something different to help you troubleshoot different parts of your computer. The file which the reader said to use is called "AutoRuns.exe". Once open, this file shows you all the process your computer uses when it starts up. If you hover your mouse over each, it gives you a short description of what each item does. This is a little more advanced then msconfig, and takes some research before using if you are not sure what you are doing. When you decide you don't need something on start-up, simply uncheck the box next to it. When you are done you can close the program, restart, and allow your computer to put the changes into effect. This shows a lot more then msconfig, so please do your research before using it. You could mess up your computer if you don't know what you are doing.


Friday, January 21, 2011

Looking for Yet Another Drive

After reading Lifehacker's Guide to "The Portable Hackintosh", I decided it would be worth a try. So now I am back in the market for a 16 GB flash drive. After reading around, and asking a few questions, I have acquired some information that will help me in my quest.
1. Buy Sturdy: You want a good encasing, not something that will break easily.
2. Good Key Ring: Should fit nicely on a key ring for easy access.
3. Don't Buy from Best Buy: I am in no way telling you not to, but it was said in all the places I was looking. The people said that Best Buy over charges.
4. Shop Online First: Don't just go into any store without researching, make sure you have shopped online first. There is a good chance that it will be on sale on a website, or just cheaper, then in stores.  
Doing this can save you money, and get a great deal on flash drives. It may be time, if you haven't already, to upgrade to a better flash drive. Floppy Disks are a thing of the past, and 1 GB of memory is the minimum now. If you use less then that, or use a Floppy Disk, I suggest upgrading.


Thursday, January 20, 2011

Nintendo 3DS Dated and Priced

Yesterday, Nintendo announced the price and date of the Nintendo 3DS. It also announced several games that would be coming to the console. The console is due out before the end of the first quarter, the exact date being March 27th. The price is a little steep in my opinion, coming in at $250. The reason I believe it is steep is because that is almost the same price as an Xbox or a PS3. To rank a hand held console at the same price is just absurd. Plus, the difference between this DS and the last one is the wireless card, the 3D, analog stick, a built in memory card, and the option of an SD card. That is not that big when you think about it. It also runs an updated version of the former operating system, which does nothing that impressive. It will be backwards compatible with normal DS games, and you will also be able to purchase old Gameboy Advance and Gameboy Color games. That annoys me too because I own older games. Why would I want to pay for them again? I see no reason to get on of these yet. Looks like I will be waiting on this one.


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Fixed My Friends Computer

Recently, a friend of mine asked me why his computer was so slow. Before hand, I knew this person was not well informed when it came to computers. Sure, he or she knew what an OS is and hows to open Microsoft Word, but keeping his or her computer clean is not something in his or her repertoire. After having one look as his laptop, I started going through what I would do to clean the computer if it was mine.  First, I went to the control panel and turned of Aero Theme. All that animation on a laptop will make it pretty slow. Next, I ran "msconfig" from the Run application. I then disabled all start up items he didn't need. Finally, I clicked on "Computer" and then right clicked on the hard drive listed. I selected "Properties" and then proceeded to the hardware cleaning tool. He, or she, had almost 2 GB of temporary files that had not been cleaned out. I am yet to check back with him or her on how it is working, but I am sure it is better then before. All these methods and more can be found in my tutorial, How to Keep Windows 7 Fast.


Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Dropbox DropQuest

  Over the weekend, Dropbox started its DropQuest. The quest is a scavenger hunt. For each part of the hun which you complete, you will get a little bit of free space. If you complete the entire hunt, you will have earned 1 GB of free space. You will keep that space for a life time. However, there is a catch. You will be timed as you go through the quest. The fastest time will be awarded first place. The rest of the places will go to the batch of people with the runner up times. Here are the official placements:
Dropquest will also be timed, and the fastest finishers will be rewarded with even more fantastic prizes.
  • Platinum: (1) Dropbox hoodie (Psychobox), LIMITED EDITION Dropbox Hack Week t-shirt (actual design), Dropbox drawing signed by the Dropbox team, 50 GB for life!
  • Gold: (10) Dropbox hoodie (Psychobox), Dropbox print signed by the Dropbox team, 10 GB for life!
  • Silver: (20) Dropbox t-shirt (Psychobox), 5 GB for life!
  • Bronze: (50) 2 GB for life!
    ...and a few secret prizes too!
More Info:
You don't have to start right at the starting time, as Dropquest will be available for two weeks. The starting time really only matters if you're going for the top prizes. Feel free to work together with a friend or two, but remember that only the fastest will be rewarded! This thread will also be used as a hub for all Dropquest related announcements, as well as intermittent hints for puzzles that may stump you along the way. If you're in need of live help, I suggest you visit Dropbox's IRC channel (, #dropbox) as well (It's a cool place to hang out anyway). Good luck everyone!
Everyone  whom enters, I wish you good luck! If you don't have DropBox yet, you can join now!


Sunday, January 16, 2011

Somewhat Successful Attempt

I decided to take some time yesterday to try an idea of mine. I really wanted to play Super Meat Boy on my macbook, but it is a Windows only game. My idea was to install steam in Wine, and then attempt to play through wine. Just getting steam to work properly was a pain. I had to install it through wine, then I had to change some settings in X11 ( the program that runs the applications) so that I could click. It was very tedious and quite annoying. After that, I had to wait for Super Meat Boy to download, which took a couple of minutes. When I finally started to run it, it failed to start. So, I went into the control settings for the "steam" application in wine and changed it to run in Windows XP instead of Vista. This in turn allowed Super Meat Boy to play, but with a few graphical glitches, and at a low fram rate. In the end, I ended up uninstalling the Windows version of Steam, and decided to wait until Super Meat Boy is ported to Mac.


Saturday, January 15, 2011

What Are You Doing This Weekend?

Well the weekend is finally here. I decided to start learning how to program. I wasn't sure were to start so I just googled "how to program ruby". First hit led me to a site that teaches you how to code ruby. The site is very straight forward, and easy to understand. All you need is a compiler and code editor. For me, I use Text Wrangler to edit the code. Then, through text wrangler, I compile it in Terminal. Methods may differ depending on the OS you are using.  The site I am using is very straight forward and easy to follow. I picked up the language fairly quickly. Plus, there are small self tests at the end of each lesson for you to try. If you do them, there is a good chance you will understand the language better. By doing the self tests, I learned to figure out what I wanted my program to do. I solve any mistakes, and tried different things until I got it right. It helps you know the program a lot better by testing yourself.  This is what I am spending my weekend on, how about you?


Friday, January 14, 2011

Refer-a-Friend on Xbox Live

Recently, Microsoft has started to offer some promotions for inviting a friend to upgrade to gold. It would seem Microsoft just can't get enough of our money. So here is the deal they provide you: Bring a friend to xbox live gold, and you get something special. This can range from microsoft points, to games, or to a free month of xbox live gold. For example, today's offer is "The Maw". By referring someone, you will be given the XBL title "The Maw". You only receive the promotion if the person you invite upgrades within 30 days of you inviting them. However, there is a slight catch. If the person does not wish to receive information about xbox live, you will not be able to refer them. It is a good idea in general, but I think the execution is poor. Why would a friend of yours wait for you to refer them? If they wanted to be a part of xbox live gold, they would have upgraded already. Plus, they get nothing for you referring them. It does not provide incentive. I think it should be more like DropBox which gives both the person who invites, and the person receiving the invite, 250 MB of space. Microsoft has the right idea, but just needs to work on execution. If you wish to refer a friend, click here.


Thursday, January 13, 2011

Encrypt Data on Mac

Everyone stores some sort of personal data on their computer, stuff they don't want others to see. Because of this, I decided to see how to encrypt data on my Mac. Sure, it may come with FileVault built in, but FileVault is a bit clunky to use. So how else can we encrypt data? Well, we can use Disk Utility. Here is what to do:

  • Open up Disk Utility (Applications--->Utilities---> Disk Utility)
  • Click "File"--->"New"---> "Blank Disk Image"
  • You will get a window that looks like this:

  • Give the to be disk a name, size and where you would like to save it to. 
  • Choose an Encryption type, 128 bit is fine.
  • Make sure it is set to "read/write disk image"
  • Click "Create".
  • You will be asked for a password, I suggest letting the computer generate one for you as it is safer then creating one for yourself.
Once the image has been created, it will be located wherever you told it to save to. You can mount the image any time you wish, and you will be asked for the password every time. Once mounted, you can add files to the image, then unmounted and they will be encrypted. Just make sure to unmount it so others don't look!


Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Real Deal

With the Verizon press release yesterday, it is not official that the iPhone will be coming to Verizon. So what are the small changes/differences between that iPhone and the one on AT&T? Well, they are minor, but they have quite an impact when in use.
  • CDMA Version: It is on the CDMA network, not GSM. The main difference between the two is that CDMA does not allow data transfer (i.e surfing the web) while you are on a phone call. This limits the amount of tasks you can do while on the phone. This is different from GSM which allows data when on a call. However, the reason CDMA does what it does is because it prevents call drops. 
  • Antenna Re-Cut: The antenna to the new phone has been cut differently. This may be to fix the "Antennagate" issue. However, Apple stated that it was "not the phones fault, but the networks fault'. I find something contradicting between that statement and the new phone. HHMMMMM. 
  •  Mobile Hotspot: As of right now, the Verizon iPhone has the ability to become a mobile wifi hotspot, which can connect up to 5 computers. The hotspot, however, disables the rest of the phone when activated.
These differences are what separate the two phones. Out of these three, I really don't like the fact that CDMA does not do data while on the call. But, with all the perks the phone has, I would be fine with that issue. The starting price for the phone is $199.99 with a two year contract. It will go on sale on February 10th, but existing Verizon customers can reserve theirs online come February 3rd. I am still debating whether or not to upgrade because it is possible that there will be an iPhone refresh in June.


Tuesday, January 11, 2011

iPhone Verizon

Today is the big day. Verizon is calling a conference at 11 EST to make an announcement. Many are speculating that this announcement will be regarding the iPhone switching, or being extended, to the Verizon Carrier. WSJ (The Wall Street Journal) has had multiple articles recently stating the iPhone would come to Verizon, and that Verizon would be making the announcement. They have been given the right, supposedly, to make the announcement because it is not a new phone. The phone is just changing carriers. The new CDMA version of the iPhone is speculated to go on sale around February 2nd-3rd because Verizon has blocked off all vacation days at that time. That is also around the time that Apple makes their press releases at WWDC. Some may tell you to wait for the iPhone because it is nothing new. In addition, they may also tell you that the iPhone will be re-invented in June. Well both of these things are most likely true. This is where you will have to make your decision: Get it now, or wait. Personally, I am not quite sure. I would really like it now, but I would hate to not get something new that is very useful. Anyway, it is also rumored that the antena issue may be fixed with the phones carrier switch, which would make many happy. It is also been said that Verizon will offer unlimited data plans to start, but later on they will switched to tiered data plans. Other rumors include the possibility of Steve Jobs showing up at the Verizon announcement today, and that Verizon may be given exclusive access to the White iPhone. That would give them an edge over AT&T, who does not have the white one. Color doesn't matter to me, but to some it does. remember, these are all rumors, although the WSJ has "confirmed" it will happen. Nothing is for sure until the announcement. If this announcement does happen, today will be an amazing day.


Monday, January 10, 2011

Mac App Store Released

Last week, the Mac App Store went live. In the update to 10.6.6, this new application was added. The familiar icon can be found between the Dashboard and the Finder icons in the dock. The Mac App Store, or as I like to call it "The Mac Store", launched with about 1000 applications. Not a very large number, but considering it was only three months since the announcement it is nice to see so many applications. Applications range from games, to productivity, to entertainment, etc.  I personally found a free app, Alfred, to be quite useful. It is a productivity app that easily lets you navigate through different things on the computer. The Mac Store uses your Apple ID to track your purchases. Many of the applications are good, but there has been some complaint over the fact that few are able to do cross computer syncing. It is no good if you can download an application, such as one that tracks important information, to multiple computers, but not sync the information across all of them.  According to Apple's website, new apps should be added every day. As far as I can tell, nothing new has been added yet. Something to note: If you already own an application that is on the Mac Store, it will recognize that you own it and that it is installed. For example, I had Text Wrangler, but it was not up to date. Once I updated Text Wrangler, the Mac Store recognized it. It is a good start, but whether or not I will be an avid users depends on what is being offered. At the moment, I don't think I will be using it very much.


Thursday, January 6, 2011


This week, the Consumer Electronics Show, or CES, has begun. CES kicks off the year for revealing new technologies that will be coming. Last night, Windows Phone 7 was given an announcement that it would be going to Verizon and Spring in the first quarter of this year. This news is interesting because it may be Microsoft's way of trying to beat out Apple. In what way you may ask? Well, it seems pretty clear to me that if Microsoft is moving their smartphone to Verizon, Apple must be planning something a long those lines. There are also some windows tablets that have been announced by ASUS. I am guessing they are going to compete with the iPad. Many new TVs are being announced, but there is nothing really new in that area. All TVs have going for them at the moment is 3D, but I doubt that will catch on anytime soon. This is also a rumor which has been going around that Windows 8 might be making an appearance at CES. This has not happened yet, but if it does it would be Microsoft's way of competing with Apple's Lion OS. We will let this one play out and see what each side has to offer.


P.S I will be away tomorrow-sunday and won't be around to get updates out.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Skype Video Calling

Skype for the iPhone has put out its latest update, and this one competes with Facetime. The new update allows iPhone to iPhone video calling, as well as iPhone to Desktop video calling. Not only that, but you have the ability to use 3G OR WiFi. This is a quite a push from Skype to show they are still in the game. They have the upper hand at the moment because you can't use Facetime over WiFi. That is, as long as you don't jailbreak. Anyway, from some footage I saw of people testing it, there was a common trend of Skype managing the video transmission better. By no means will a person using a desktop computer see the call from the phone crystal clear because Skype manages bandwidth by degrading the picture a little. However, the person on the phone will see much better because it is coming from a desktop computer. Facetime however, is more grainy, and videos that I watched showed Facetime constantly adjusting the quality. In my opinion, unless Apple is able to let Facetime users use WiFi out of the box, and improve the quality, may people will switch to the Skype application. It will be interesting to see if Google jumps on the video calling wagon in the future.


Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Ever Wanted to Explore The Body?

He is watching you

Yesterday, I spoke about Google Labs in Gmail. It turns out Google Labs does more then just email. One of the really cool things they do is called Google Body. Google Body is an interactive way to explore the body. You can see all different parts of the body by choosing to look at different layers. You can also search for specific items; thus, allowing you to find where something is in the body. Now, obviously it is not the fastest thing at the moment because of all the 3D modeling, but I believe it will get better. What is really cool is if science teachers would start using this in corporation with smart boards. This would allow kids to better visualize the body, while at the same time having fun. I hope Google can improve this more, maybe even allowing dissections!


Monday, January 3, 2011

Google Labs

Over the weekend I was toying around with my Gmail Settings, and I noticed something called Google Labs. Google Labs is essentially features that are being tested for future release. So I started browsing the Gmail Google Labs to see if there was anything of use to me. I found quite a few items which I decided to turn on, some for testing, and other because I use them daily.
Things I turned on:
  • Advanced IMAP Controls
  • Google Docs Preview in Mail 
  • Insert Image Button 
  •  Mark As Read Button 
  •  Mark as Unread Button 
  •  Message Sneak Peak 
I may play around with more in the future, but this batch is enough to make gmail even better for my purposes. To access Google Labs, click on "Settings" and then click on the "Labs" tab. From there you can change which labs you want on or off.


Sunday, January 2, 2011

Last Day to Grab Great Sales

Steam's amazing sales will end tomorrow, making today the last day to get any of the games you want. The sale has been going for over two weeks now, with new deals everyday. Rumor has it that today will be a recap of all the greatest selling games throughout the sale. That, in my mind, sounds like it would happen. However, if you get to the sale before 1 PM EST, you can get Half Life 2 on sale. It is an amazing deal for an amazing games, and I highly recommend it to everyone. Other games of note that you should pick up if they go on sale again are Super Meat Boy, Batman Arkham Assylum, Borderlands, Dragon Age Origins, Dirt 2, and Battlefield Bad Company 2. All of these are amazing games which you should check out. Due note that Dragon Age takes up 23 GB of space, so make sure you have space. I hope everyone got what they wanted from the sale, lets hope for just as good a sale next year!