"an ology for the new millenium"
Why, it's the vanity site and weblog of Eric Tilton! [*]

Bernie says hello. He'd like to know if you have any wet cat food for him.

Welcome to ology.org! This is the personal vanity site of Eric Tilton and Carrie Jones. It mainly exists so that we can laugh heartily at our clever e-mail addresses (like tele@ology.org). Ho ho ho!

Please wander around, and feel free to enjoy my fine Corinthian web log.

Sunday, June 24, 2001

[Posted 6/24/2001 04:22:58 PM by tilt]
Heavy Metal FAKK2 (the game, not the movie) is surprisingly good, especially in the story telling department. This is a pleasant surprise, since Heavy Metal FAKK2 (the movie, not the game) kind of sucked.

[Posted 6/24/2001 04:21:59 PM by tilt]
The hunt for a new video card

I recently got a KVM switch (Belkin Omniview USB) so that I could share my Bigass Monitor between my powerbook and my wintel machine. It's pretty slick; it supports USB, so I can share keyboards between the two. Sadly, my GeForce card exhibited some extremely severe ghosting at 1280x1024, although games (esp. at 800x600 and lower) looked fine.

About three days ago, though, my GeForce blew out, for lack of a better term. The ghosting became super-severe, and showed up even when the card was directly connected to the monitor, and not just when it was connected via the KVM switch. I grumbled and groused, and then did a little research into the current state of the video card market. At first I assumed I'd either get a GeForce 3 (if the prices weren't stupid), or a nice GeForce 2 of some sort. The GeForce 3 prices are still stupid, so that was quickly ruled out (>$400). The GeForce 2 cards range from $150 to $400, depending on what you get. The cheapest card is the MX ($100-$150), followed by the GTS ($140-$400ish). The Ultra is not even worth it, since you could get a GeForce 3 for that price.

What's the difference, you ask? The MX is the "consumer grade" card, and doesn't have the fast memory bandwidth that the GTS does. Since I like to play games at high-res, this seemed important. Call me crazy.

There's another contender here, though -- the ATI Radeons. Gamespot rates these guys as the the second and third best cards (the 32MB version beats out the 64MB version by 0.1 points, because of the price/performance ratio). One of the many GeForce 2 MX cards beats it out, but only because of the dual-monitor support (which I could give a shit about). The 64MB ATI Radeon (with high speed DDR memory) costs $200 at freaking Best Buy. It's comparable to the more expensive GTS cards.

I was starting to waver. It's worth noting that the PowerBook (sporting the earlier ATI Rage 128 Mobility chipset) exhibits minimal ghosting through the KVM switch. I started to wonder if Nvidia makes shitty cards for KVM usage. So I started to do some searching on "KVM" and "Nvidia" and "Radeon" (in appropriate combinations) on groups.google.com. Funny: KVM + Nvidia gets hits, with people reporting ghosting problems (but never going so far as to blame the nvidia cards); while KVM + Radeon turns up no such problems. Further, people observe the nvidia cards generally don't have as nice of 2D output as, say, the ATI cards. Also, nvidia cards are made by all kinds of schmoes; ATI controls the whole manufacturing process itself.

So, I said "the heck with it" (or something much like that), and got the ATI Radeon. (the 64MB -- Best Buy didn't have the 32MB, and I wanted to buy it from some place I could return it from.) It installed with no hassles (woohoo!), and so far looks great. Cool features:

  • Unreal-engine games play at high resolutions, smoothly. (Unreal at 1024x768x32 is like buttah -- I'm looking forward to retrying Deus Ex and Wheel of Time.) By comparison, these games have always sucked on my TNT and GeForce.
  • DVD playback is super-smooth; previously, it had been jerky when pausing and unpausing, taking a second or so for the audio to catch up. DVD playback also seems crisper, especially when paused.

For the DVD, it's worth noting that I've changed not only the video card, but I also discovered that the DMA setting on my DVD drive was not turned on. However, I discovered this because the ATI "easy install" program pointed it out to me and told me how to fix it, one of the many ways it lived up to its name.

Tuesday, June 19, 2001

[Posted 6/19/2001 10:54:42 AM by tilt]
Here's a little computer nostalgia trip. While we were back at my mom's house, I found my old, college-era (and still functional) Mac Classic. So, I took a couple of snaps to compare (inevitably) how my computing platforms have evolved over time.

In this first shot, you can see my original Classic (with its massive 40MB hard drive [and sitting atop and additional 170MB external drive], and its epic 4MB of RAM), side by side with my new TiBook. I was blown away by how small the Classic's screen is (about 9" diagonal); the TiBook at 15.2" diagonal has nearly four times the screen space, and yet is infinitely more portable and powerful. Dude.

I was also struck by how much OS X still evokes the feel of the original Mac, while totally cleaning up the act. Have I mentioned yet how easy I found it to return to the platform after a several year hiatus?

For kicks, here's another comparison -- my Pocket PC has a display that's almost as tall as the Mac Classic display. (And more combined memory capacity than the Mac Classic.) Bizarre. If I'd been feeling really goofy, I would've taken a shot with the Pocket PC running the Apple ][ emulator I've got installed on it. (And the TiBook running the Apple //gs emulator.)

Monday, June 18, 2001

[Posted 6/18/2001 06:42:54 PM by tilt]
As threatened, the photo albums are now locally hosted. I don't get enough traffic that this will blow my bandwidth quotas :).

The album "solution" involved:

  • Tracking down libjpeg and netpbm so that I could write a command line (djpeg | pnmscale | cjpeg) for resizing images.
  • Abusing find -exec to resize all of those megapixel pictures into images with a width of 400.
  • Writing a sick and wrong perl script that traversed through all my album directories in order to autogenerate the index.html and thumbnail images for the albums.
I have to say, it was kind of fun. I'm not completely thrilled with the visual look of the pages, since I didn't build in any smarts about image sizing (and since I just reused my sidebar colors to visually set off the album area), but I think it worked out OK.

Update: I do have to comment on how cool it was to do this under OS X. If I sound like an evangelist, it's because I'm totally taken with the system. The photo album work was a very Unix-centric process; I did it all with Perl and by finding and compiling some Unix packages (that provide a set of command line tools). I had the TiBook in dual-head mode, and had the whole panoply of "real" applications (mail, web, audio, the cool Aqua interface, etc) running while having a couple of terminal windows floating over on the other monitor, where I was running Emacs and Tcsh, debugging my little script. Light years more fun than doing the same thing under Linux or NetBSD with ctwm :).

[Posted 6/18/2001 10:56:51 AM by tilt]
I'm sad, but not particularly shocked, to report that Zing has tanked. I was using them to store my photo albums online, and I have yet to find a decent alternative. (ofoto, Zing's bail-out migration partner, doesn't allow non-members to see albums, and has no way for me to link to a page with all of my albums on it for outsiders to view.)

It's not a big shock that they've failed; after all, Zing was hosting 60MB of my images, and never charged me a cent. They wanted to make money off of people ordering crap with pictures printed on it, but I'm not surprised that this didn't pan out. Ofoto's got a more aggressive "we want you to order prints of your pictures" model that turns me off.

I'll probably end up writing an app that batch resizes my pictures, so that I can host them relatively painlessly on ology.org without butting up against my quota... (this is why I never link main page images to full-size versions -- I can't afford it :).

Saturday, June 16, 2001

[Posted 6/16/2001 05:06:05 PM by tilt]
Update: Doug sent me a picture of his Enlisted Surface Warfare Specialist pin.

Big family news: in the last week, Carrie has added a book to her list of publications, my brother Doug aced his exams and was promoted to Second Class Petty Officer (and also passed his Surface Warfare qualification), and my brother Chris graduated from high school.

First, the book: Carrie has an essay in Young Wives' Tales: New Adventures in Love and Partnership. We were able to find it in the local Borders, which suggests it's got good national distribution.

Here's the graduation shots:

Two of the three amigos (I'll leave which one is me and which one is Chris as an exercise for the reader).

The shot of Chris receiving the diploma is pretty blurry, but here's him walking off the stage. The light levels were low, and I could only do so much Photoshop salvaging.

Chris brandishing his crouching, hidden diploma.

Doug's Enlisted Surface Warfare Specialist pin

Wednesday, June 13, 2001

[Posted 6/13/2001 12:39:39 PM by tilt]
This is an interesting article on how much people overestimate the influence of PARC on the Macintosh UI.

Sunday, June 03, 2001

[Posted 6/3/2001 12:22:27 AM by tilt]
I finally finished off Mechwarrior 4. It turns out I wasn't mechwarrior enough to finish the last few missions (the urban missions) -- at least, I didn't have the masochism neccessary to replay them over and over again, after continually failing 60% to 90% through. So, I took advantage of the "Invulnerability" option, and powered through that way.

I was generally happy with the title. The play was responsive, the graphics excellent, and many of the missions were fun to play. Still, I hate games that don't allow in-mission save. I also found the cutscenes and voice-overs to be decidedly sub-par. The acting was cheesy, and the main character was flat. His dialogue was also about 25% quieter than anyone elses, which was irritating. Finally, the briefing UI was kind of unimpressive. Still -- I came to pilot mechs, and pilot mechs I did. I'm glad I picked it up, and that I finally finished it off. I give it a B- as an overall game, but an A+ for giving that giant robot thrill.

See earlier stuff in the archives


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