Club Penguin

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Social websites are all the rage and rightly so, they are fun and let’s face it, you don’t have any real friends anyway. And by real I mean women friends who aren’t drunk. And you can’t count the women who are friends of your sister, or your mom. But seriously, they are fun.

Heck, I myself love playing MUD and other such games which was the original World of Warcraft for people with imagination and good typing skills. But what is there for children? Would you let your 8-year old loose on MySpace? I won’t even let myself loose on MySpace for fear of what I could find.

But there is something for kids that is safe and fun. It’s called Club Penguin (www.clubpenguin.com). Specifically built for kids and made safe for kids I have allowed my own children to play on that site. In essence, you become a penguin and you can walk around the penguin village and play games with other penguins (like connect four, Mancala, and other fun little games) which you earn coins for. Coins can be traded for nifty items like hats and sunglasses and other clothing items.

If you want to spend a little money you can upgrade to a membership ($5.00 per month, which is $10.00 less than what you are spending on WoW anyway) you can buy an igloo to call your own and decorate. And let’s face it, girls of all ages love to buy clothes and decorate and talk to their friends. And they all love penguins. Seriously!

There are more advanced features as well such as a powerful reporting system for notifying authorities of aberant behavior and restricted chat to pre-selected phrases. After a time you can also become a secret agent and go on secret missions. There are one-time events and parties where you get one-time souvineers and postcards.

So far my kids are loving it and I’m actually getting my daughter to think about cleaning her room in order to play.

If any of you sign your kids up let me know so they can become “friends” online.

Default Password List for Hubs and Routers

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Have you ever been invited over to a friend or relatives house to “see” their new TV or computer and by “see” I mean un-box, set up, configure and train? Yes, it happens to all of us and I usually don’t get the stapler or 12-pack of Dr. Pepper that I request.

Most frustrating is setting up someone’s wireless network especially when they have no idea the address, user name nor password that allows configuration of said device. I lie not, I had this happen to me just last Saturday.

Here is a list of all the default passwords for hubs and routers: www.phenoelit.de/dpl/dpl.html. This little list can come in quite handy.

My favorite times are when someone asks you to come over and “git sum’fin work’en” and you show up and they have totally the wrong stuff. Like they want to get high speed Internet so they buy a 36-port 10 GPS switch because the freckled snot-nosed kid at CompUSA said it had the most bandwidth and expandability.

I think the worst is hooking up DVD players and cable boxes to setups where everything is running on RG-6 antenna cable encoded on channel 3 through 4 disparate systems with 4 remotes (all universal, of course). My parent’s have such a set up and the TV remote volume control uses the same signal to open and close the DVD tray. No lie! You can’t adjust the TV volume while watching a DVD or it will eject!

Which leads me to the question, why don’t all the manufacturers get together and come up with an open standard for remote controls. Maybe something based on XML where you could create macros and the like. I would love to hit one button and have it turn on my TV, set it to AUX1 and mute the volume, turn on the TiVo and the Amplifier and set it to the TiVo selection and set the Volume on that to 25%. I sometimes feel like a ninja smoothly flowing from one form to another in a deadly but elegant dance of death to turn everything on just to watch TV. Why can’t I just sit on my butt with my Dr. Pepper and clap my hands?

An Uncomfortable Meeting

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Today I invited to sit in on a meeting with a vendor my company is working with. There has been a strained relationship from the beginning but we haven’t been in a position to change things until very recently. The time had come for a meeting to “lay it on the line” and ask them to meet our expectations or we will find another vendor.

I’ve never been intimidated nor bothered by these kinds of meetings and I’ve been in quite a few representing very large and offensive sums of money. But today was a little different. My boss told me who was coming to meet with us and that it was imperative that I be there.

The person representing the company in the hot seat was one of my mission companions. A companion that I did not have a good time with. A companion who had engaged in very questionable activities just before I arrived and tried to hide them afterward. A companion with poor judgment and a big ego.

One funny story, briefly told, was when we went to dinner at a less active member’s house. There were American servicemen and I believe the man of the house was a sniper. A short, stocky man with a barrel chest like a dwarf and a grip like iron got into a discussion with my companion about wrestling. My companion, as I believe, had been a wrestler of some renown in high school and boated that a good wrestler could take down anyone. The sniper laughed and said he didn’t care how good a wrestler someone was he could easily take them down. Discussion escalated into argument escalating into boasts and finally to a challenge.

The furniture was cleared away and two grown men faced off. I was quite amused. I don’t know who made the first move but it soon turned from a friends competition to a serious duel. Before I knew it my companion was angry, sweating and deadly serious while the sniper toyed with him like a cat with a mouse. Soon the sniper had wrapped himself around my companion hanging on his back with his arms locked around his chest pinning the arms and with his legs making my companion immovable. The sniper fell back onto the couch with my companion frantically writhing to break free.

In a panic my companion groped for something to help him…anything and his hands alighted on a large Mag flashlight–the aluminum kind. He then proceeded to smack the sniper in the head with the flashlight.

I have a clear vision to this day of that scene. Time started to slow down and I saw a look of annoyance cross the sniper’s face at the assault and, moving his arms higher, quickly started to choke off my companions air supply. I remember the evil grin on the sniper’s face as my companion’s head turned beet red and consciousness began to ebb with a look of true horror and desperation frozen on his face. I took a picture. I still have that picture. I still have the memory, as large and vivid as a Caravaggio painting hanging prominently on a wall in an uncomfortable wing of the museum of my mission.

And this was who I was meeting with today. During the meeting I had a very hard time making eye contact and despite my best efforts I know my face was flushed the entire time and my voice was a little dry and quieter. Luckily, I didn’t have to do much talking. I never said anything to indicate that I recognized him and he didn’t either. Perhaps he too feels uncomfortable and doesn’t want to remember it let alone acknowledge that it happened.

I had a lot of wacky companions during my mission but he is the only one I feel uncomfortable talking about. Strange, isn’t it. He is also the only one I’ve ever run into–and I had something like 14 companions. Weird, eh? (Well, that’s not entirely true, I know another companion of mine who works for Ikano but I didn’t accidentally run into him. I heard he worked there and stopped by and talked with him.)

Anyway, it was an interesting experience.

MUX Any-to-Any Video Conversion

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I’ve been so busy lately I haven’t had time to write about the time I was on the phone talking to someone when a gunman started shooting at the person I was talking to. Or how to generate electricy based on the tides. Or my forrey into using a WIKI at work. I’ve had to block out time on my calendar to go to the bathroom. No kidding.

But for fun I found this great site called http://mux.am/ that will do an any-to-any format video conversion. It works!

Game Cube Rules

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Our family acquired a Game Cube some months ago as a way for the kids to learn spacial manipulation techniques as well as improve motor skills and eye-hand coordination. Oh, and to have fun too. But we came up with some rules for the family that have worked out quite nicely. I thought I would share them with you all.

1. No touching the disks—a grown-up will get them for you.
2. No touching cords—a grown-up will do that for you.
3. No whining, crying or tantrums—just walk away or be happy.
4. Everyone takes turns.
5. One hour each person maximum each day.
6. When friends are visiting only mutli-player games are allowed to be played, preferably all concurrently.
7. Remember the moto “sometimes you win and sometimes you loose but we always have fun playing.”

The rules have worked out really well especially 6 and 7. I always hated visiting friends and they would want to “play” a game that was 1 player and they did all the playing. That sucked.

I wonder if anyone else has family rules about playing video games…

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