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Entries From November 2007

November 30, 2007


Filed under Reviews, Video Games, Xbox 360

I bought the Orange Box recently for the Xbox 360. The Orange Box consists of 5 games. The first game I tried is called "Portal." The video above gives you an idea of the concept behind Portal and what game-play looks like. This video was also shown at the SIGGRAPH Electronic Theater in 2007.

It took me about two sittings to finish Portal. Some people will be annoyed with how short it is. I love that it didn't take forever since I don't spend a lot of time playing video games.

Portal is an amazing game and unlike anything you have played. It seems like a first person shooter...but you don't have a gun and nobody is trying to kill you. It is actually a mind-bending puzzle game.

The game's sense of humor is part of the charm. It is so well done.

I can't stress this enough...you *must* try this game! It may be my favorite game since I first tried "The Sims." This is a fun and very satisfying game!

Portal (part of "The Orange Box") is available now on the Xbox 360 and PC and coming soon to the PS3.

November 25, 2007

Windows Live Writer 1.0

Filed under Blogging, Reviews, Software


I've been using Windows Live Writer for publishing blog posts for over a year now. It has been beta software...until now. You can get the 1.0 release version here.

Highly recommended!

Tom Leykis

Filed under Web

image I just returned from a 14+ hour road trip to LA and back. To fill the time, I listened to free podcasts of the The Tom Leykis Show show on my iPod.

I think Tom is great...but he is certainly an acquired taste. He says a lot of shocking things (Women are Lazy, The cure for Erectile Dysfunction is younger women), but has well thought out reasons behind them.

Here is one of the episodes I listened to yesterday that is pretty good. Tom talks to the people that can't stand him..."I Hate You, Tom!"

I grabbed about 150 one hour episodes of the Tom Leykis show via iTunes for free. The Tom Leykis show is normally heard via the radio...but I prefer listening via podcasts. Why?

  • Commercials are edited out
  • You can fast forward past boring callers or entire segments
  • Sound quality is consistent no matter where you are located
  • You can pause as needed
  • You can listen for as long as you want (if you have enough episodes)
  • You can listen whenever and wherever you want

Besides iTunes, you can get the podcasts from this page to listen on your computer.

November 20, 2007

Crayon Physics

Filed under Computers, Programming, Software

I love natural user interfaces like this...very cool.

November 11, 2007

Secret Stash Update

Filed under Blogging


Another update on the Secret Stash. Check it out here.

India Trip Part 4

Filed under Travel

The last day in India we got to be tourists and check out the sights.

We started at the ISKCON (International Society for Krishna Consciousness) temple. I took this picture from the parking lot. We weren't allowed to bring in cameras and we had to remove our shoes and socks before we entered.


Their web site has some nice photos of the temple.

We were told that normally it takes hours of waiting in line to see the inside, but we were spared the wait because we were there so early (around 9am).

Seeing the Main Temple Hall was quite an odd experience...I knew nothing about these people and what they were chanting about.

Our guide, Rashikesh, was nice enough to buy me a book on the subject.

When we left the temple, we got to put our clean socks back on our filthy black feet. Felt disgusting at first, but you quickly forget about it.

Next stop: Bannerghatta National Park!


Before we started, I needed to test the restroom. You had to pay the bathroom attendant to use it...I'm not sure how much, because Rashikesh took care of it for me. The urinals were normal, but the toilets had *no* toilet paper...just a water hose! And the part that shocked me the most...there was no soap or a sink to wash your hands!


We started with a bus tour through a lion and tiger reserve.

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We had to stop abruptly because some wild elephants were too close for comfort...


To scare the wild elephants away a safe distance, some park workers set off several loud explosions. The park workers rode on an elephant to make sure the wild elephants were gone.


Once we got along on the safari, we got *very* close to tigers and lions...

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India is a lot more relaxed than the US when it comes to rules and regulations. The great part about that is you get to be really close to lions and tigers. The bad thing about that...lions and tigers are really close to eating us. I couldn't help but think about this scene from Jurassic Park when we were in our bus surrounded by tigers...what happens if the bus breaks down (it was barely running as it was)? Cell phones don't work out there and nobody had radios, so how do you get help? It's dangerous...but that was part of the fun!

Next, we toured the zoo. Our guide showed us a cage of geese. He thought these were amazing creatures and encouraged us to take pictures of them. I told him we see them all the time in the US.

Next, he showed us the pigeons...


I *did* take a picture of the pigeons, because I couldn't believe you would have these at a zoo.

BUT then, we saw the *best* animal yet at the zoo...a monkey!


We were so excited we started taking pictures. The monkey was out in the open just sitting on top of a fence...he wasn't in a cage. Our guide was annoyed and said we needed to hide our food and walk quickly away from the monkey. We wanted to stay and take pictures but our guide insisted we need to move now. As we left the monkey, I noticed there were monkeys all over the trees above.

I explained to our guide that of all the things we've seen at the zoo, the monkey is by *far* the coolest!

He didn't understand. "You don't have monkey's running around San Francisco?"

He explained that monkeys will come in your house and attack you to get your food. They are not afraid of humans. I guess his reaction to monkeys would be like our reaction to rats.


Next up: Lal Bagh Botanical Garden.


The main thing we wanted to see was the Glass House...

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This is the view looking away from the Glass House...


I thought the signage on trash cans was interesting...


The rules of the garden were not something I'm used to seeing either:


The last thing we did was go to M.G. Road to go shopping before heading to the airport.


On my way back to the US, I exchanged my Indian rupee's...here's what they look like...


India Trip Part 3

Filed under Travel

We stayed in a 5-star hotel in Bangalore, India called The Windsor. That sounds really impressive until you learn that they also have 7-star hotels in India. I don't know how a 5-star India rating translates into an American rating...but The Windsor was very nice.P1010175P1020618













Trackback Spam

Filed under Blogging

I've been getting an increasing amount of trackback spam on my blog. I've never really used the trackback feature, so I disabled it with all my new posts.


All my old posts were still enabled for trackbacks. This setting is per entry, not for the entire blog. The only way to turn it off was to go to each old entry, clear the "Accept Trackbacks" checkbox, and click "Save." This process takes *forever* (probably about 1 minute per entry). Considering I had almost 200 hundred posts that needed updating, I decided to just live with the spam I was getting (about one message a day).

Today I found a quick way to turn all the "Accept Trackbacks" off. My blog is stored as an SQL database. All I had to do was use my website's SQL administration page and enter this SQL command:

update mt_entry set entry_allow_pings = 0

After I did this, I rebuilt my blog (regenerated all the web pages) and now I don't have any pages that accept Trackbacks!

I had an SQL course in college. I never expected to use it because databases were not that interesting to me. But back then, nobody used SQL for personal projects, like blogs. Suddenly, I'm interested in learning more about SQL.

Goodbye Trackback Spam!

November 7, 2007

The Pixar Story

Filed under 3D, Animation, Movies, Reviews

image I saw "The Pixar Story" today. It is a documentary following the creation of Pixar and the people behind it.

The director, Leslie Iwerks, did a Q&A session after the screening. Leslie's grandfather, Ub Iwerks, is the creator of Mickey Mouse.

I loved this film because I could relate to so much of it. Many of the movie events chronicled in this film made me want a career in computer graphics.

This is a great film...go see it if you get the chance or rent it when it comes to DVD.


November 1, 2007

India Trip Part 2

Filed under Travel

Probably the most unbelievable aspect of my trip to Bangalore, India was the insane traffic.

Here are a collection of short clips I made during one commute across town...

As the crow files, it wasn't even 9 miles from our hotel to our destination...but it took over two hours to make the journey on average. Our fastest time was just over an hour. Our longest time was when it was raining...more than 2 and a half hours.

There is a lot of honking going on...but it isn't from irritated drivers like we have in San Francisco. It's "polite" honking to let people know that you are near them. Most of the trucks have a sign on the back encouraging honking so the driver won't run into you. Here is an example sign on a truck that says "Horn OK Please"...


The honking really is necessary based on how packed the roads are.

I was amazed by how many motorcycles were on the road. I'd guess that for every one car/truck there were 10 motorcycles...just about the opposite of the USA. Some people use their motorcycles like a minivan. I saw a family of four traveling on a motorcycle. I missed my chance at catching that on film, but I did get this family of three...


The streets are filled with yellow taxis. But these taxis are a bit different than the ones we have in the USA, they are called "Auto rickshaws."


Cars drive on the left in India...mostly. Many of the roads have no lanes or people just make their own lanes...which means you never know if you are going to play chicken with someone...


Another popular vehicle that I've not seen before were the Maruti Omni Microvan. These vans look about the size of a golf cart, but seat up to 8 people (crammed in...I saw one fully loaded). Below is a Maurti Omni on the right side of the picture...


Tata makes many of the vehicles in India. Here are a few...




I saw several *tiny* electric cars called "Reva"...

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There were a lot of cows on the road in the middle of the city...something I'm not used to seeing! There are cows in each of the next pics...some might be a bit tough to see until you zoom in.



We actually got hit twice during our 5 days in Bangalore. Each bump was minor. With cars driving so close, bumping each other is fairly typical ("you *only* got hit twice?!?!?!"). After a car hits another, you just keep moving along...nobody pulls over to inspect the damage, trade insurance, or call the police...it is just part of driving in Bangalore! The damage is usually pretty light because the traffic keeps you driving under 15 mph.

Another big difference...no road rage! Americans would go on a killing spree if they were dealing with traffic like this. The Indians were extremely patient and calm...even after somebody bumps their car.




About November 2007

This page contains all entries posted to David's Blog in November 2007. They are listed from oldest to newest.

October 2007 is the previous archive.

December 2007 is the next archive.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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