Thursday, April 28, 2011

Ubuntu 11.04 Natty Narwhal

Today marks the release of the next Ubuntu version, 11.04, named "Natty Narwhal".

Some of you might be asking 'What the hell is a narwhal?", so for those of you:
You still don't know what it is? Don't worry, neither do I.

Others might be asking what Ubuntu is. Strictly speaking, it's an African philosophy:
 A person with Ubuntu is open and available to others, affirming of others, does not feel threatened that others are able and good, for he or she has a proper self-assurance that comes from knowing that he or she belongs in a greater whole and is diminished when others are humiliated or diminished, when others are tortured or oppressed. 
Archbishop Desmond Tutu

 But for us, people of technological surroundings, it's a Linux distribution. One that has attempted to bring Linux to the masses by creating an easy to understand, friendly environment, as far away removed from the hardships of "making everything work by yourself" which has characterized Linux for the most part, leaving it's usage to only those who know enough or are willing to learn enough to make any use of it.

So with a user friendly installation, interface and tools, it should be a good choice to everyone right?
No, not yet. It still is a bit far from being a "good to go" operating system out of the box. I have ran into a number of difficulties myself, even with 10 years of experience with computers, I've been tempted to uninstall it and go back to comfortable Windows.

So what's new in this latest edition of the OS?

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

You're stardust

Don't worry, it's not the name of a song or a poem.
But do you ever stop and think that everything around you has once been inside a star?

Stars generate energy through the process of fusion, this is, the joining of two atoms with the release of energy. Initially, the mass of the star is mostly constituted of Hydrogen:
Which works as fuel - fusing two of them together will give out an atom of Helium:

Pressure nearer to the core of the star might even start forcing Helium to fuse with itself or other things, creating heavier elements. Eventually, and as hydrogen becomes scarce as a fuel source, elements will combine to form heavier stuff, such as the all important (for life) carbon atoms, oxygen, silicon, iron.

Once a star runs out of things to fuse together to produce energy, many things can happen, depending mostly on the size of the stars, but most will go out with a bang. Stars with the size of our sun will swell up to a red giant and then expel the outer layers, which will form a small nebula, leaving a small dense core called a white dwarf floating around.

More massive stars will be a lot more violent when dying, creating a supernova, the most energetic explosion man has ever witnessed, scattering these elements all over the place where they can gather together as part of a planetary disk for a future star.

You don't want to be around when this happens

So next time you look at a chair and say "it's just a chair", remember, it came from a dying star.

Trivia of the day:
An action will create an equal, opposite reaction (third law of Newton)

Friday, April 22, 2011

Nintendo's next console

 Will it be any good? reports on the Japanese giant's next console, allegedly codenamed "Project Cafe", which is a weirder name for a console than Wii was if you ask me. It is said to be marginally superior in hardware to the Xbox360 and PS3, capable of HD gaming, with a fancy controller that includes a touchpad and a camera.

Additionally, IGN has learned that the system will be based on a revamped version of AMD's R700 GPU architecture, not AMD's Fusion technology as previously believed, which will, as previously reported, out perform the PlayStation 3's NVIDIA 7800GTX-based processor. Like the Xbox 360, the system's CPU will be a custom-built triple-core IBM PowerPC chipset, but the clocking speeds will be faster. The system will support 1080p output with the potential for stereoscopic 3D as well, though it has not been determined whether that will be a staple feature.
This all sounds great... if you are still in 2007. Because this sort of hardware is not impressive any more - we can assume the next PlayStation will be twice as powerful as the current one, not only marginally.

The controllers do bring interesting proposals. The camera and touchscreen will probably bring new and innovative ways of gaming, something Nintendo has been always pushing for. I imagine, for example, a multiplayer game where players can play in first person looking at their controllers, and there's a general view of the battle being shown in the TV. But with all this sophistication also comes high cost and frailty. Better not throw those expensive controllers in a fit of rage because a replacement could cost around 100 dollars.

One of the main advantages of the Wii over it's rivals was always it's gentler pricetag. That would be gone with a proposed retail of 350 to 400 dollars, which would put it in direct competition with current generation consoles.

Nintendo's bet could pay out though by bringing their next gen console 2 years before their rivals, as was the case with the Wii, which although less powerful, outsold the competition.

Looking forward to the next 'tendo? Or will it be an epic fail?

Trivia of the day:
Air traveling at high speed generates low pressure

Thursday, April 21, 2011

How to fail at celebrating

If you follow football, you must know that Barcelona and Real Madrid met last night to settle who would take home the King's Cup. Those two are mega-rivals; if you're American, it's like the Yankees vs. the Red Sox, or Ford vs. Holden if you're Australian. So winning it was a big deal, and after a very entertaining game of back and forward chances for both teams which extended into extra time, Real Madrid got lucky with one goal and took the trophy away for the first time since 1993.
Everyone in Madrid was jubilant as the team paraded through the streets in their open roof bus, holding the cup proudly, up high, and then this happened:

What a fucking idiot' innit?
The brand new 15 kg cup got dropped from a height of 4 meters into the pavement and then ran over by the bus. Way to celebrate! Congratulations Real Madrid and Sergio Ramos (the idiot who dropped it).

Trivia of the day:
Hot air takes up more space than cold air

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Battlefield Play 4 Free

I wanted to mention this to wrap up the Battlefield posts:

B:P4F is basically a slightly upgraded Battlefield 2 game that is, as the name suggests, free to play online. It currently is in a beta stage and it's open for anyone who wants to register.
The way it works is really simple: you create your soldier which is one out of four possible classes, then you play with it, gain experience which earns you levels, which in turn lets you choose skills (for example, piloting a helicopter).
You're given the option to purchase certain things like guns, apparel and gadgets, which you have to pay for with in-game money. How do you earn money? One of two ways, and here's the catch: there's two types of money, silver and gold. Silver can be earned by playing the game and gaining levels, gold can only be purchased. And, as I'm sure you guessed it, the best weapons and equipment can only be purchased with gold.

I've been playing it and it's quite fun, although with a lot of bugs and a netcode that needs much tweaking. If you want a shooter that lets you go against plenty of other human opponents and that it's free, then you need look nowhere else.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Battlefield 3

If you're a PC gamer then you must know about at least one of the Battlefield games. It's a franchise that stretches all the way back to 2002 and that took us all over the world at different times, covering everything from World War 2, Vietnam, the middle east conflicts and even the future.
From the very beginning it distinguished itself from others by presenting open battlefields with different objectives and different ways of achieving them. Large teams would oppose each other not only as foot soldiers with different classes, but also driving tanks, jeeps, ships and several aerial vehicles, even robots and mechs in the futuristic 2142.
Giant mechs, always fun - Battlefield 2142

I've recently read someone rant about how first person shooters have been sort of stuck at that "modern warfare" theme and I have to agree. Since Call of Duty 4, everyone has been coming out with about the same game with different dressings, as is the case of the recently reviewed Homefront and several of the latest titles in the Battlefield franchise since BF2. He then went on to say that BF3 would be the saviour we all were hoping for, which raised an eyebrow on me.
Today a new video with plenty of in game footage was released by EA.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Spring hiking

Well spring is slowly showing it's face around here which made all the trees decide to sprout leaves once again. After so much cold and rain, I am glad, but I won't be saying the same thing in about 2 months time when I'll be sweating my butt off and hoping for winter.
Anyway, it is also the time when cherry trees blossom. I live in an area that is well known for their cherries and it was the perfect time to take a good long hike. Here are some of the pictures, hope you enjoy!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Pizza time

Today I'm blogging with an empty stomach, so let's talk about many (young) people's favorite food: Pizza!

The precursors of pizza originated thousands of years ago when people just started placing things on top of pieces of bread, some oil here, some cheese there, but as we know it, pizza started in the Italian city of Napoli (Naples) in the medieval times. It was simply bread shaped as a disk, but what made it distinctively a "pizza" around the 16th century was the arrival of tomatoes from the newly found America, which became the first 'topping'. A food for the people, by the people, sold in stands on the streets, it was banned in royal courts. Who would dare to eat as the commoners?

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Human Spaceflight, 50 years.

Today we commemorate the 50 year anniversary of the first human flight to outer space. As most of you must know, it was the soviet Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin who had the great honor.

Out of 20 candidates, Yuri was chosen in 1960 to be in the Vostok 1 mission. His trainers held him in high esteem, pointing out his excellent skills and understanding of math. Even his colleagues, when asked to vote anonymously on "who is the most qualified to go in the mission", chose him by an almost unanimous vote. His short stature also gave him an advantage, since the Vostok capsule was rather small. Himself and fellow cosmonaut Gherman Titov were the final two candidates because of this height advantage. Hey, being short is not always a bad thing! Titov went to man the second Vostok mission, effectively making him the second human in space. Not bad at all.

A fair morning 50 years ago saw it's peace disturbed by the great energy explosion of the R-7 Semyorka's launch, an intercontinental ballistic missile turned space rocket which had previous success launching into space the first artificial satellite - Sputnik 1 - propelling the Vostok 1 containing Gagarin to outer space within minutes. 

The whole flight was meant to be controlled by the craft's automatic systems or by the mission control, since nobody knew how outer space would affect a human. Not even Gagarin, for all he knew, he could die up there, but he still carried on his mission showing great courage which in turn earns him great respect from me. 

Monday, April 11, 2011

2011 Supercars

As most of you must have deduced by now, I love cars. So without much further ado, here is a list of the 2011 expected or upcoming supercars!

Lamborghini Aventador
As per Lamborghini tradition, this car is named after a fighting bull from Spain. It is the replacement for the Murciélago and I think it looks rather conservative, in the sense that it looks a lot like the Murciélago, not taking great risks or chances. That doesn't mean it looks bad at all, it's fantastic to look at and I bet it will sound like the Thunder God himself being angry.

Pagani Huayra
After the unexpected appearance of Pagani in the Supercar club with their funky, mad, crazy Zonda, the Argentine-Italian carmaker now brings the Huayra (hard to pronounce, right?). The name itself comes from native Argentine mythology, after a God of Wind. The car itself looks like a more grown up, serious version of the original Zonda, which I am not sure if it's a good or bad thing, since it was the craziness that made the Zonda stand out. 

Thursday, April 7, 2011

The nice things

Getting sick sucks, doesn't it? Going to the doctor, waiting, getting diagnosed. Maybe it's something bad and you have to stay over at the hospital. You worry if your health insurance is going to cover you, your body aches all over!

It is hard to see the good things in a bad situation most of the times, and for a chronic pessimist such as myself it's even harder. Harder than finding a blue eyed Japanese woman.

But getting sick gets you all kinds of attention, doesn't it? Suddenly everyone loves you and cares about you. If you're really really sick, you can cut in line! Or disperse a small crowd if, instead, you yell out "I'm gonna be sick!". Everyone getting off your way.

Yeah there's always something positive.
Like today I had no idea what to blog about, that was awful. Then out of this tricky situation... I decided to blog about not knowing what to blog about.

So yeah that's that for today.
I apologize for my laziness.

To make this post a bit fuller I leave you with a bit of interesting trivia:
Kissing is healthier than shaking hands

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Demanding shark is demanding

While reading several news sites today I came across something that caught my eye and promptly forced a loud what the fuck out of me.

Artist depiction
"Colin Morrison, 46, admitted illegally lending money at his home address and other areas of the city between January 2004 and January 2010. "

What really caught the eye was that he was charging them so much that if calculated for a whole year, the interest rate would be
Do people have no shame anymore? Will we do anything for a buck and throw away any kind of morality and common sense? 

I've heard about loan sharks and how unpleasant they can be but this guy blew away all my expectations. Until I read further:
"The court heard how Morrison provided several illegal cash loans to Joseph Rankin and his partner Angela Clements - who suffers from the muscle wasting disease Myotonic Dystrophy - over a six-year period." 
Really? Take advantage of poor people with chronic muscle diseases? Is this what those kids who steal younger babies' Popsicles grow up in to? I don't even want to know what happens to people who don't pay, seeing how if you borrow 20 dollars you suddenly owe several million.

 Although the blame of this situation falls mostly on the crook, and that the needs of the aforementioned couple were of a different nature than pure consumerism, I can't help but think this is also a byproduct of the loan and credit society we live in. Everyone everywhere is deep in debt, taking bank loans to buy a car, a house, holidays, surgery, bananas... Then you borrow more money to pay the interests of the loans, and then you go to your bank and ask for a consolidation loan. That makes your credit more solid, so now you can ask for more loans to buy even more shit you don't need! And bananas. 


So, what would happen in a world without loans? What if we could only spend what we earn? 

(Original article - BBC News

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The Steam Room

I'm having a bit of an unimaginative morning, so this is simply a list of things that are pissing me off. I've decided to call this segment "the Steam room" 'cos it's where I'll come to blow off steam, obviously. I expect there's gonna be one of these every once in a while.

So off we go:
  • Craving something, going to the kitchen and not finding it.
  • Construction work or lawn mowing next to my window.
  • Really loud bikes.
  • People who lie to the point they deny evidence
  • People who don't use their indicators (motoring offenses deserve a post of their own, maybe)
  • People who go into a store and yell to an employee because of store's policy. They have nothing to do with it and will lose their jobs if they go against it, take it to the manager, dipshit!
  • People who don't shut up, stop using their cellphones or throw pop-corn at the movies.
  • Related with cellphones: People that start texting while mid-conversation with you. Hey butt-hole, I'm right here, that can wait at least till I finish a sentence can't it?!
  • A bunch of people walking very slowly as a group, talking with each other, while they occupy the entire width of the sidewalk not letting you through.
  • Parents who can't or won't control their children in public places. Related: badly educated children of all sorts and shapes. If your child bites my leg, he's taking a short trip to Mars powered by my boot.
  • Bad Spanish ads that get even worse Portuguese dubs (sorry, this is a local thing... but maybe you can relate).
  • Twitter or Facebook status changes that concern mundane things like "my cat is sleeping he's so cute snuggle snuggle!!" I DON'T CARE!
  • Those who do not know the difference between "Their", "They're" and "There", and the ones who spell "should have" as "should of".
  • Any insect which sole purpose in life is to sting me and/or suck my blood. 
  • People saying "epic" for every single thing. No, idiot, your hamburger wasn't epic.

Now, that feels better!
So what's annoying you? 

Monday, April 4, 2011

Homefront: Home is where the war is

It is the near future, the world is in turmoil. As oil fields in the middle east are ablaze, making fuel very unavailable and prices skyrocket, North Korea's arms program grows larger. It annexes the South, creating a united Korea, and force Japan to surrender. Under the leadership of Kim Jong-un, it invades North America. While Koreans occupy cities in the west coast, the Americans try to resist with little success.

That is the premise, more or less, of today's game:

I had seen some advertisements for this game and after reading about it in someone else's blog, described as a piece of shit, I was going to steer clear of this one. But alas, I am way too bored, so I had to give it a go.

With low expectations and not much information I started playing and what greeted me was a quite normal, enjoyable shooter. I didn't understand why my fellow blogger had to uninstall it after playing a bit. It was quite averagely normal game with an interesting "what if" scenario for a story.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Cars that help the driver... or not.

Some time ago, car maker Mercedes Benz was proudly introducing a system that would brake for the driver in low visibility conditions if an obstacle presented itself in front of the car. It used radar to see through the mist, and it was an excellent idea.
So they gathered a bunch of journalists, explained what was going to happen, and then created artificial mist to obscure the drivers vision. Then, on with the demonstration:

What was the problem here? Apparently the driver forgot to turn the system on.

Friday, April 1, 2011

But I might need it later

If you're a gamer, you might have already recognized the title and what it is.
I find no easier way to describe it but to say it is a syndrome, a psychological block that occurs when you have something expendable of great value and power, where you never think it's the right time to use it, you might be wasting it 'cos you'd need it later and not have it.
Some examples could be a very powerful potion that grants some sort of immunity, or a very special weapon that only works for a limited amount of hits. A good example off the top of my head is the Master Ball in the Pokémon games, a ball that will capture any creature thrown at (I hope I'm right about this or I'll have a horde of pokémon fans after me), there's only one of these in the whole game.
Then you save the thing and save it enough that you beat the game and the Super Immunity Potion is still in your inventory untouched.

"But I might find an even better pokaman later!!"