I know I have the skills to write some awesome web applications and sites. I know I can do it. I just do not know why I never get much further than the design and database architecture. I have three projects I am juggling right now in an attempt to not do each one. A fourth one that a friend was going to commission me to do over a year ago and I just totally failed at it. Mathematically I have the time, well more so now than over the last 12 months with the wedding planning, and crazy stuff going on at work. So now to commit to finishing pet projects that I start.

1: Write a storefront web application that uses entity framework and Microsoft’s BI Suite
2: Rebuild my website using either Google’s or Twitter’s bootstrap
3: Finish painting my Warhammer 40K army
4: Write a Axis and Allies miniature review every week and two articles a month for dicecommander.com

WIP of Pyrrhian Eternals that accompany Anrrakhar

WIP of Pyrrhian Eternals that accompany Anrakyar

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Data and System Architecture – It Really is the Small Things

It really is the small things. The small things make or break a project, a relationship, or a Mazda6. I joined a project at work that is extremely challenging requiring the migration of a massive database from MSSQL 2000 to MSSQL 2008, conversion of classic asp.net pages written in 2000 to c#.net and the migration of reports to SSRS. The project had been going for about 6 months before they brought 4 of us on to take over the technical duties. First thing out of my mouth was “What is the system architecture?Continue reading

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Thoughts on the 2012 Boilermaker

Welp, I finally did it. That stupid race has been on my to do list since I was in 9th grade and this year I finally grew a pair and ran it. The 35th running of the Utica Boilermaker 15k Road Race was July 8, 2012 and it was everything I thought it would be. And worse. And better. Continue reading

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Guides for the Normal Folk

I had the opportunity to write some guides for the “Average Joe’s” for BulletProofPixel.com The guides are centered around buying components for your desktop computer especially for people that want to do simple upgrades to their existing pre-fab, or build their own. Give them a once through, recommend them, and as always feedback is welcome.

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100 Books in a year is too easy

NerdFighteria has a personal challenge to read 100 books in a year. You can find the jist of the 2011 challenge here. I think this is a great thing because it encourages people to do something besides watch reality television. I am a fast reader so I decided to give myself a handicap and start in March. I’ve started working on a page which will list the books I have read for this challenge and some basic information. Of course me being me it’ll be a mini web-app.


~Absolut Lush
[Snake snake snake snake snake]

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Behold! I Have the Power!!

Life moves so inexplicably awkwardly that even just going for the ride will knock you on your backside and you get a black eye, a lollipop and a circus monkey out of the whole deal. I am ignoring my own advice regarding World of Warcraft, my XBL account is getting cold sitting downstairs, and I haven’t upgraded my computer in a few years!

I admit I have been an advocate against World of Warcraft and it’s addicting gameplay. I’ve taken up other MMORPGs such as Eve-Online, RPGs such as the Elder Scrolls Series, and buried myself in Xbox 360 FPS’ to counter that siren song. I finally gave into Rockstar11’s pleadings before Thanksgiving of 2010 and did the trial period for WoW. I was right that game is incredibly addicting… and well thought out, immersive, fun, and exciting. I play on a PvP server that leans toward the Horde and as an Alliance member I always have that nagging fear in the back of my head of being killed by a roving Horde member which adds another dimension to the “typical grinding.” I broke down and bought the battle chest (thank you Black Friday sale at Best Buy) and within one month I was level 40 without power leveling, just enjoying the story lines.

So despite my previous rants against World of Warcraft I have to say give this game a try especially now with the new expansion release breathing life back into the story lines. But I warn you to know your weaknesses before you play. The professions play to the compulsive personalities as does collecting the armor sets from dungeons. The achievements (and again armor sets) play to completionist or perfectionist personalities, or as we are called on XBL “Achievement Whores.” Guilds of course add a whole social network within the game which has it’s high points but adds peer pressure when it comes to raids and other guild activities. The PvP aspect available on some servers play to the protector/attacker personalities and build rivalries among players. Know your weaknesses, your limits and do not be afraid to use the timer that is built into the game, it might save you from an unhealthy gaming addiction.

On BulletProof Radio’s Facebook page there was discussion about 3D games and the feasibility of the technology in today’s gaming market. Steelvalor had an excellent point when he pointed out that with a lazy eye it ruins the ability for the 3D technology to work. This got me wondering if there are any laws regarding 3D technology and the American with Disabilities Act. I asked the podcast team to look into it. If they find any information I’ll update this blog with what they find.

~Absolut Lush
[Why is the monkey carrying a Flugelhorn?]

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A Grave Nerd Injustice

It seems that there was recent shenanigans in a very serious election. Gamespot is currently running a battle for All Time Greatest Game Villain and a recent battle pitted General RAAM from Gears of War vs Dr. Breen. Now to recap each opponent in this battle:

General RAAM (pronounced RAH-M) was the locust General in Gears of War forced the Alpha and Delta squads to retreat into the tomb of unknowns during the Lightmass Offensive. He then was able to find the location of the Lightmass bomb and took control of Tycho Pillar. He ultimately failed to guard the bomb from Dom and Marcus.

Dr. Breen was the administrator of Black Mesa during “The Incident” (Half Life 1). He negotiated a peace during the 7 hour war that enslaved the entire human race and was consequently assigned to be the puppet ruler of Earth. He actively pursues the resistance and alerts the Combine to Freeman’s presence. His voice and face are seen throughout the entire world (most notably in the city 17 levels)

Now back to the injustice. On one hand you have RAAM a brutal foe for any battle, who is seeking the destruction of humanity, and is a leader of armies, though he has a long track history of failure. And the other hand is a pawn of an alien race, who brokered the deal that enslaved humanity. In terms of scary dudes RAAM most certainly has it in spades, he wields a machine gun one handed that is normally mounted. But in terms of villainy selling out your species, putting them into slavery, using energy fields to prevent reproduction, while the aliens are draining out the oceans for minerals back on their home world.

So based on the above research and information it would seem clear that Dr. Breen should have won the battle for the Greater Villian. Not so. Somehow RAAM got 1000 votes in one day! Want to know how? Rig the election. Epic Games promised 30xp if RAAM beat out Breen. Wow, that is quite low. Also, they have promised Gears of War 3 if RAAM wins all time villain because they obviously wouldn’t make another installment in a cash-cow franchise like that.

As part of my nerd-rage I will not be buying anything from Epic Games for a long while (or until I forget) and will definitely be voting against RAAM in the next battle which is against Vader. (I’m not sure if he counts as a Game Villain since he is taken from a movie franchise.)

See the Breen vs RAAM battle here. See the Vader vs RAAM battle here. Kerrigan vs Joker is also on here.

More on RAAM at Wikipedia. More on Dr. Breen at Wikipedia.

~Absolut Lush
[I rage therefore I nerd]

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TuneUp Shot Down

So lately I have been opening iTunes to get a Vista security message telling me that TuneUpUpdater.exe wants to run. My first thought was “What crap did Apple force onto my computer now?” I mean they make good stuff it’s just that I want to install the software I want. I do not want QuickTime, or Bonjour, or the other thing I always uncheck when I update iTunes. I finally got around to googling it and found out that the internet doesn’t have too much on this software.
TuneUp is a add-on for iTunes that claims to go through your iTunes library and fix all the metadata, thereby correcting the genres, the “track01”, and of course the dreaded missing “The” before bands (such as The Beatles.) First thing’s first; the reviews I was able to find said it had about an 85-90 percent correction rate. If you are normal your list of songs spans a minimum of thousands and more likely reaches tens or hundreds of thousands. If you only had 5,000 songs that’s still up to 750 songs labeled incorrectly. That could mean they were changed from being correct to being wrong, or not corrected at all. The software uses the Gracenote database which in theory is a good idea but in practice it often does not work. Software such as this has been around a while and each one has failed in one key area: same exact songs on different albums. To test it I always used my Radiohead discography since they have the same song on a few albums. Each time GraceNote identified the song correctly but in each case it picked the wrong album (ie: everything was album x instead of x, y and z. One software had such poor implementation that it overwrote their studio albums with live recordings.
The second problem I have with this software is that I have no idea how it got on my computer. I am very careful about what I put on here, reading all boxes and checking/unchecking on installation screens, like when an installer tries to add the Yahoo! Toolbar to my browsers. If I was the one that asked to get the TuneUp Companion installed to my computer then I have myself to be annoyed at. But this one was a stealth installation which greatly offends me. It’s not as bad as ad-ware or mal-ware but it may as well be, for as far as I know I did not knowingly accept any terms of use, or for that matter neither do I know what information I am giving them.
So in short, be wary of products that “help” your music library and make promises that, when mathematically analyzed, are far-fetched and have the possibility to do more harm than good. If you really have that many bad tracks 1: Stop power torrenting and 2: spend 30 minutes a day working through your current library. This is going to be one of the few times I thank Vista’s annoying security feature.

~Absolut Lush
[The wonder! The wonder! Noooo the wonder!]

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Pushing Your Boundaries

I had considered myself a decently well read person, but as I look through the various books being suggested by Nerd Fighters I realize that I am afraid to step outside the walls I have erected with my comfortable, safe books. I had read science fiction and fantasy for many years, shunning modern fiction until one of my grandmothers bought me Rising Sun by Michael Crichton (she also did not know it was a little risque for a 12 year old). From there I began to delve into his other works and then a few birthdays later my grandmother forgot to find out what author I was reading and bought me The Hammer of Eden by Ken Follett. Now I have a large collection of Modern Fiction added to my literature pile including authors such as James Rollins, Greg Iles, Clive Clussler, and the previously mentioned authors to name the largest groupings.

A trick I found for expanding the list of authors I read is to go to Barnes and Noble or another bookstore and just buy a handful of the clearance books. If I hate the book I have only spent $5 and the financial pain is taken out of the equation. This method though has introduced me to Labyrinth and Sepulchre by Kate Mosse. Also, by this method I am more inclined to loan a book and not worry if it happens to not come back to me. Clive Clusser was originally a loan from an coworker. David Balducci was a gift from a friend’s very, very odd aunt. But it seems I still stay within a relatively safe confine of book genres. Well no more I say, or type. I have my whole life ahead of me and a world of books to explore while I still can see

It seems that sometimes the accidental gift of reading is the best gift there is.

~Absolut Lush

AiaAD [Awesome is as Awesome Does]

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Use Steam to Organize Some of Your Retail CD Keys

If you are a PC gamer then you have a huge collection of CD cases, paper inserts and manuals all for the express purpose of having your CD Key for the inevitable reinstall. I created a text file that has the keys for over 50 games and then I just copy and paste. All of my manuals and inserts are in a massive shoe box (good thing I wear size 13.) With Steam delivering more non-valve content there is a chance to reduce the paperwork, and to also decrease the time spent inserting CD 1, then CD 2, then CD 3 then CD 5, then back to 2 followed by 4 then back to 1.

From your library click the ‘+ ADD A GAME…’ link on the bottom right. Select ‘Activate a Product on Steam’ from the menu. Follow the wizard directions entering the CD Key when prompted. This will tie the CD Key to your Steam account so like with all other Steam Games you currently have (ie: Half Life Series) you just install Steam and then pick the games you want to install. The content delivery system does the rest, even patching the game when there is a release.

Steam has limited support at the moment for which games you can do this with. For example, I was going to do it for Heroes of Might & Magic V, which can be bought on Steam. It would not accept my key and didn’t explain that it was for a non-supported game. I then searched and found a list of games linked here. Below is the full list from Steam as of today. Be sure to read the list even if you see your game on here as some have quirks (like replacing O’s and 0’s with Q’s)

Valve CD Keys
AI War
Aliens vs. Predator
Alpha Prime
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2
Commander: Conquest of the Americas
Cricket Revolution
Dark Messiah
Dawn of War II
Defense Grid
Empire: Total War
F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin
Football Manager 2009
Football Manager 2010
Global Agenda
GTI Racing
GTR Evolution
Just Cause 2
Killing Floor
King Arthur – The Role-playing Wargame
The Last Remnant
Lost Planet: Extreme Condition
Lost Planet: Colonies Edition
Metro 2033
MLB Front Office Manager
Mount & Blade
Mount & Blade: Warband
Napoleon: Total War
Order of War
RACE – the WTCC Game
Ragdoll Kung Fu
Red Orchestra
Rogue Warrior
SiN Episodes: Emergence
Saint’s Row 2
Serious Sam HD
Shattered Horizon
The Ship
Silent Hill Homecoming
Sniper: Ghost Warrior
Space Trader
Speedball 2 – Tournament
Star Trek: D-A-C
Supreme Commander 2
Unreal Tournament 3
Velvet Assassin
Worldwide Soccer Manager 2009
X3: Terran Conflict
Zeno Clash
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