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What flavor of Linux (or even *BSD) would you recommend for a simple home computing box? I've got a junker PC kicking around, originally purchased to act as an XP host for an uncommon PCI card (Blackfin JTAG ICE, superceded by its USB2 counterpart), which would be perfect for handing over to the family. As I'm no Windows guru, and have no aspirations thereto, it seems much simpler to avoid the whole joy of viruses and spyware by loading it up with another OS. (OS X is out, given it's a 500MHz AMD inside - I'm guessing the OSX86 hacks wouldn't work too well on something that low on the SIMD ladder) Any suggestions for a suitable WiFi card/adaptor? An internal card might be slightly preferable - fewer things outside the box to get fiddled with, disconnected, and/or lost - but USB would be an option, assuming the USB card works.

merik brings word that - at long last - Sam & Max: Freelance Police is coming to DVD, as a three disc set. ^_^

The front fell off a tanker.

The Second Life Community Convention 2007 (Chicago, Aug 24-26; Friday to Sunday) tracks - Social, Machinima, Education, and Business - will be broadcast live online, as noted here. Naturally, there'll be in-world events as well.

Found by mycroftb. NSFW!

Dancing robots (FLV), starring a particularly cute little yellow guy, Keepon. And if you're near LA, you'll soon have a chance to see the duo live. ^_^

Here's a handy tutorial for baking textures for SL in Maya.

"Tests with robotic squirrels confirmed that a warmed squirrel tail made rattlesnakes more likely to act defensively, say Rundus and Owings."

Another SL award: the Thinkerer Challenge, that aims "to identify and encourage the development of creative products and services that use Second Life capabilities to enrich or empower experiences in Real Life. The first Award recipient will be made known at the end of September, 2007. Recipients of the Thinkerer Challenge Award will receive 30,000 Lindens - the currency of Second Life - and the use of a parcel of virtual land (or an equivalent arrangement) for one year."

It's interesting to see how some games involving money have survived the recent (and regrettably, characteristically abrupt) Linden Lab ban on gambling in SL. Essentially, those involving skill, such as Tringo, are safe, under the current rules; others have simply shifted the emphasis from playing to win L$ by making the cost of entry whatever you want to donate. Personally, I'd love to see more of a shift towards skill-based games, providing more of an intellectual challenge than provided by mere randomness. Of course, the problem comes in deciding how random a given game is, and what the level of skill is - there's a lot of randomness (hopefully) in poker, f'rex, but I doubt any poker players (not including myself, I should note) would accept there's no skill involved. Similarly backgammon, where a game can easily turn either way on a particularly timely roll, but there are certainly many elements of strategy and style one may employ.

"The War on Democracy: A Film by John Pilger", as broadcast on Monday night by ITV in the UK, should be good, taking a detailed look at the CIA's past role in Central and South America, such as deposing Allende in Chile, to make way for Pinochet; quite a few of the figures responsible then remain active now. You can catch a trailer/intro for it here.

Feral has a con hotel? I thought it was strictly campgrounds (and associated huttery). Still, sounds like a con I might enjoy sometime. Only trouble is, of course, I'd need at at least some net.access once a day, or I'd get twitchy. A full con without access would probably require a wheelchair by the end of it. Nah, that's being silly. I'd just make sure a satellite data provider sponsored me for network resale during the event. =:)

Mmm. I do like the bassline in Anima Sound System's Po Drom, from Gipsy Sound Clash.. works beautifully on these headphones, at any rate. They're a group well worth checking out, if the idea of downtempo/dub/breakbeat/house (sometimes on the same track) of an Eastern European nature appeals to you. And Moby's reworking of God Bless the Child is fantastic stuff, courtesy of the soundtrack EP for Bioshock; the reworking of Beyond the Sea is well worth listening to, as well. I've no idea what the game itself is like (I'll think about that when I've got something I could play it on), but the producer's taste in music bodes well.

Salt & pepper shakers! Via thrifthorror.
otter3 noticed that Patrick Leahy, one of the rare Democrats-with-spine, and chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has a cameo in the next Batman movie. =:D 'The longtime Batman fan would reveal little about his role other than that he is called the "distinguished gentleman."'

kurtmrufa found a detailed article on the US housing market, originally from Harper's. Well worth the time, as it's glistening with marrow-filled facts. (I do find the graphic for point 13 quite amusing, in a H2G2 way)

One person's own account of life in a pseudomilitary "boot camp", a gift from their parents. Not easy reading.

Good track: Fountain Hughes, available there - entirely free - as a Reason RPS file, and MP3.

You may recall Bush has insisted that he'll listen to "the generals on the ground" (and then cycle them out if they disagree with him), most recently culminating in the anticipation of Gen. Petraeus' report in September on how well the escalation has fared in Iraq. Apparently, they're taking the less risky road this time: "Despite Bush's repeated statements that the report will reflect evaluations by Petraeus and Ryan Crocker, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, administration officials said it would actually be written by the White House, with inputs from officials throughout the government."

Cool going - if you've got an old Rabbit vibrator that's in need of being recycled, the maker will take it back themselves, and give you half off a new one.
You can also watch the Sam & Max cartoon show for free via Gametap TV ( http://www.gametap.com/home/views/watch/watch.jsp ). Not great quality video, but it's free!
Oh, that's rather cool! Probably even slightly better quality than the copies I have, which are just VHS grade. (How nice it feels to so rarely type those three cursed letters together. Ugh! S-VHS was pretty decent, and Hi-8 very cute, but plain VHS..)

.. gods, there's no shortage of GameTap footage before the episode itself, is there?

Now all we need is word of Tiny Toon Adventures finally seeing a proper DVD release. ^_^ (Well, that and getting all the Kennedy eps redone by TMS =:)

What flavor of Linux (or even *BSD) would you recommend for a simple home computing box?

Ooh, a chance to plug my favorite family of operating systems! Linux gets most of the press these days when it comes to a desktop alternative, as I'm sure you're aware, but I've yet to come across a distribution that doesn't feel sloppy and/or thrown-together after using BSD for so long.

I traditionally recommend FreeBSD for those users new to the BSD world, but Open's been growing on me a lot lately. Sure, its installer may be a bit inscrutable at times and the community can be a little... abrasive? but it makes up for it in my opinion with strong security, an intelligent base of developers, and what often seems to be a cleaner upgrade path than either Free or Net.

Most of my experience with wireless networking has been with laptops, so I won't be able to lend much help picking out a decent internal card. A good rule of thumb is to stick with Atheros chipsets. Perhaps the FreeBSD or OpenBSD projects' respective manpages for ath(4)would be of use?
And wow has Pinkuh gotten good. Nice pick!
In regards to that boot camp thing, a friend of mine was sent to one of those in Utah. Very monstrous stuff. Some of them go so far as to burst into your home when you're not expecting them, tie and gag you, and cart you off.
Ye gods and little fishes! That's incredible.. just horrifying. And they can rationalise that as helping them?

There are some very disturbed people out there. Given abuse begets abuse down generations, I'm led to wonder what trauma may have lain in the early lives of such perpetrators.

Not the most popular reply I'm sure, but having been through the pitfalls of several OSes whilst trying to set up a 500Mhz AMD for the parents myself a while back, the best option still ends up falling back to Win98SE. It's powerful enough to be usable, still light on the old resources, and relatively untargeted by the virus vendors these days. It also cuts down on the headache of trying to explain to non-too-tech-savvy sorts why all these instructions they'll stumble across about how to run x or y on their computer on a website won't actually work for them. =:P
If you're going to raise that OS here, I'll ask something else I forgot to put into the entry. =:D How can I obtain the product code for the XP installation that's currently on said PC? I lost the XP image I'd been using under Virtual PC, thanks to a bad DVD-R, after I wrote it out to reclaim a bit of precious disk space. I've got the VPC disks, including the handy pre-installed-and-updated XP image they supply, but I didn't note down the magic number, so that's now unavailable, short of a long flight and a lot of searching. :-P

Their usage won't be anything complex, so I'm not too worried about sites throwing up problems - only real issue would be Flash, given how common it is on sites now, and not just for advertising. I wouldn't want them to miss out on YouTube. ^_^ (Though if they start getting hooked on it all, I can see an additional DSL connection being a Very Good Thing to have..)
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If not FreeBSD, try Ubuntu - it's the Furry Linux. ;)
I admit I'm maybe being a little harsh towards Linux; after installing the latest Ubuntu release on a friend's system a few weeks back and playing around a bit I felt I had no choice but to begrudgingly elevate it to the esteemed category of 'usable'.

Besides, all those Linux users can't be (totally) wrong, right?
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Yes, that was not an easy read at all...
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It's a pretty minimal configuration, unfortunately - I just needed a host for that card, so I was looking to spend as little as possible, as quickly as possible. (So, of course, I wound up with a system that wasn't especially cheap, and useless for upgrading) 500MHz K6-2, 192MB, S3 integrated graphics, 8GB drive, CD-RW & CD-ROM drives. Oh, and one of these "floppy" things. =:)

I'm leaning towards Ubuntu at the moment, given the good support base out there - I'd probably be more likely to find precompiled apps, I suspect, than for FreeBSD. On the other paw, I'd only really want the basics on anyway - mail client, browser (with Flash support), IM client, media player.

Would be nice if it were an Athlon - then OS X would be an option. ^_^ As is, if the Horde wind up taking to computing, maybe they can dig up the budget for an old iMac or somesuch. Or there's Bunny, my old Wallstreet, but it's a bit fragile - I could see the display hinge getting snapped before very long, and the space bar keycap needs replacing anyway. 'Course, if I wanted to be evil, I'd get them hooked on something like Second Life, and have them pick up a suitably beefed up box for that. Which I could then hijack at night. =:) (Not that Hyzenthlay does a bad job, but, it's quite a way behind something like a new MacBook Pro - a 1.67GHz MPC7447A/128MB Radeon 9700 Mobility isn't as fast as a 2.4GHz Core 2 Duo/256MB 8600M-GT)
I wonder when it will be a good time to buy a home. I don't see homes as investments but as a home.
Tricky to say, of course, but next summer might be good - it seems like the bulk of ARMs are resetting from now through to next April or so, tailing off a bit from there. Repossessions are, unfortunately, already seeing quite an increase, and I'd have thought metro California will be at the forefront of that heartbreak, given how swollen the housing bubble's become in areas like the Bay. (And of course, it's not only the mortgages themselves that are posing a problem for some people's budgets now, but any refinancing they've taken out on the value of their home. It's got to be a hideous situation to find yourself in..)

That's a sentiment I agree with entirely. There's nothing wrong with considering one's home an investment as well, but that should only be a distant second priority. It's just very unfortunate that things have reached the point where it's perfectly normal for one's house to be something you'll spend most of your working life paying off, short of coming into some windfall along the way, or inheriting one. Gods know, it's difficult to see myself ever being able to buy something in the City - even a bit of suburbia's well into the $600-700k range. :-P (Still, I wouldn't need or want anything big.. the place I once looked at in Encinitas would've done nicely, if it'd been in my reach at the time, but $1600/mo just wasn't feasible. Fantastic view, though - the side facing the Pacific was all glass, and just a couple blocks down the hill to the beach. That'd be a nice place to come home to in the evening.
For some reason, I can't hear Gen. Petraeus' name without imagining a uniformed man patrolling Baghdad streets with a glowing white stag in the lead...
Shamefully, I must admit to not knowing the reference. But I did discover there's such a thing as the Insect World Battle Championships, where pets like stag beetles are pit against each other. Very popular in Japan, apparently. Think I'd sooner have a few bunnies, though.

Maybe Baghdad could settle for a human-headed camel?
"Fountain Hughes" is now at the very top of my playlist. And such an amazing story behind the voice.

I've been running Ubuntu 7.04 on two machines, one with 32-bit and one with 64-bit, for the last two weeks and I will have to write up some of my thoughts of it as well certain issues I've ran into with the 64-bit version. Overall, it's been working pretty smoothly though sound setup is frustrating, with all these different sound sound APIs like Arts, eSound, Jack, Pulse, OSS and so on. Just pick one and wipe all the others off the face of the planet, m'kay?! Pulse shows the most promise, supporting a patching system that allows access to a remote sharing of soundcard features over a network.
I admit, that's part of the reason I posted that particular track - it's humbling to be reminded that we're not so very far removed from those times. (Let alone the expansion of voting to women, and the (legal) end of racial segregration. Fascinating to see how far South Africa's come, too, in even less time)

I'm leaning towards Ubuntu, given the great support base - even though I wouldn't be looking at installing all that much, it's always nice to have more (good) choices. And if they wind up getting hooked on computing, I can always try guiding them into a relatively capable setup suitable for dropping OS X onto, or even just an old iMac of some variety.

Now, if only DirectX would go away, and leave OpenGL to get on with unifying graphics for everyone.. ^_^ (Speaking of which, I see we've got 3.0 coming down the pipe soon)

I do like the sound of network sharing of a soundcard.. very cool. Still, I suppose H's internal audio will have to do for now - good quality, but obviously not something intended for fiddling around with. And I can feel Reason straining poor H's CPU - I keep coming across tracks that won't play fully, with the app declaring the system to be too slow. 'Course, some of the racks involved are pretty hefty - for anything I'll be doing myself, now I've got the disk space to get all the sample libraries online, I shouldn't think I'll encounter any such trouble for a good while. Damn, it's so nice to have actual space again.. 300GB formatted, in the FW400/USB2 case the DVR-108 used to occupy. Remarkably quiet, too, spoiled only by the case's dinky - but thankfully adequate - fan.

Finally, I'll be able to have Acoustic Legends HD permanently available, along with a good chunk of the VSL Pro set, Stratocaster '56.. next step might reasonably to obtain one of these "desk" things so the keyboard's in a slightly more ergonomic playing position than on the floor. It'd be quite awkward if I learned to play proficiently like that, if it came to touring.. maybe I could arrange an angled chaise longue. =:)

Wow. I've seen shadowcasting before, but that's simply excellent. His bunny was alive. ^_^ (Ah, to be able to have a trio of buns.. but that'll have to wait until I'm set up properly again. No space here, and it'd be too turbulent a setting, with the Horde around) That must take a little practice.. !

That boot camp article is just frightening... and I think some people were thinking similiar sort of camps should be set up in Canada... *shudders*

I know my dad with his long career of being a pastor/counselor has dealt with some pretty out of control youth, and while he's never told me the details I think he made quite a bit of progress without having to resort to beating the human soul out of the individual...

Oh by the way bunny, you need to stop posting these pictures while I'm am work, it just gets so tempting... :P
There's the thing, of course - knowing how far to go, and what's necessary to begin with. Just getting someone to climb out of their rut is a world apart from the horrors of a camp as that described by shoiryu. It's difficult to even contemplate how I'd react.. I suppose all one can do is cocooning one's spirit tightly within and trying to survive hour by hour.

And I did just notice one pic in particular I'm going to have to include in the next entry.. just wonderful. It's actually one I've seen before, but only in sketch form - the artist's apparently finished it off in full color, and he's.. well, even more appealing. ^_^