Google is Super-Fast

While researching some stuff on WW2 North Africa, I stumbled on an elaborate boardgame called “The campaign for North Africa”. I thought it was interesting, so I added a short blog-post on the empires of steel website. Then, I continued doing google searches about North Africa. Literally, within ten minutes of adding that blog-post, I noticed my own blog post come up in the search results — in less than ten minutes! Wow.

Always Backup

Over the weekend, I discovered that my computer would no longer bootup. It would get most of the way through the bootup process, and right before displaying the desktop, it’d crash and restart. I couldn’t get in with safe mode, and couldn’t access my hard drive with an adapter, either. Everything on the drive was inaccessible. Even worse, I had forgotten to do backups lately, meaning I was potentially losing two weeks of work.

I’ve had the worst luck with hard drives getting corrupted lately. It took me about a day, but I was eventually able to get the Windows repair to work. When I finally got in, I found out that a bunch of files were corrupted. Some files could be repaired, and some were permanently lost. Fortunately, I had backups of all the corrupted ones.

Defective Earbuds?

Recently, I was working at the library with my earbuds in, when I noticed a buzzing noise. Strange, I bought these things less than a month ago. I considered bringing them back for a refund, but I procrastinated.

Today, I was noticing the buzz again, and I started thinking: I don’t remember hearing this buzz when I’m anywhere but the library. I tried moving the cord around, trying to get the buzz to stop. It was intermittent. The wiring must be bad somewhere, but I couldn’t figure out where.

I moved my legs a little bit, and noticed that the buzzing would stop and start again based on the positions of my legs – which made no sense. Then I noticed that picking my feet up off the ground made a difference in the buzzing noise. How weird. Then it occurred to me: maybe the buzz had nothing to do with the wire. Maybe it was due to a bad electrical ground. I pulled the laptop plug out of the wall, and the buzz disappeared. No wonder I hadn’t noticed the buzz anywhere except the library – it was due to a bad ground.

Nightmares of Game Developers

Last night, I woke up in the middle of the night while having a terrible dream. I dreamt that the game-updater no longer worked. This meant I had no way to get fixes and improvements to my users. I couldn’t even give them a new updater that worked (*well, I could, but only if they tracked me down). I calmed myself down and managed to get back to sleep.

Today I had to get out a fix for a bug that wouldn’t let players load some of their saved-games. I put together a fix, and tried to put out an update. What happens? The game-updater no longer worked. With the recent change that allowed the game to use foreign character sets, I had inadvertently broke the updater. It took me two frantic hours to figure out what was going wrong, and I came up with a way to work around the updater bug. At least it wasn’t irrevocably broken.

Yup, these are the kinds of nightmares that software developers have.

This Weeks Tidbits

Cool New Flash Drive

I picked up a new flash drive recently. This is a 4GB flash drive that I picked up for $15. (All the electronics are stored in the black plastic area you see here.) A quick look at Amazon reveals that they’re selling 128 GB USB flash drives. I’m amazed how small this stuff is.

John Carmack and Apple

John Carmack recently commented that working with Apple is a big pain. I know how companies like to control their image, but there are some times when it gets ridiculous. Retaliation for saying the wrong thing about them?

“My relationship with Apple has been long standing, but it’s a rollercoaster ride,” he told Kotaku. “I’ll be invited up on stage for a keynote one month and then I’ll say something they don’t like and I can be blacklisted for six months.”

Working with Apple on iPhone games has been no different, Carmack said, but he is happy to see that former collaborator Graeme Devine is now working at Apple in the iPhone Game Technologies division. (Source)

You’d think that someone as big as John Carmack would have enough weight to avoid getting these kinds of punishments.

Google Chrome

Ever wonder why Google made Chrome, and started pushing it on Aren’t there already a perfectly good browsers (Firefox, Safari)? I was confused for a while until I thought about this.

Mozilla, the organization behind the popular Firefox web browser, has extended its search deal with Google for another three years. In return for setting Google as the default search engine on Firefox, Google pays Mozilla a substantial sum – in 2006 the total amounted to around $57 million, or 85% of the company’s total revenue. The deal was originally going to expire in 2006, but was later extended to 2008 and will now run through 2011. (Source)

Google’s business is advertising. Maintaining its advertising sector means staying on top as the number one search engine in the face of upstarts like Microsoft Bing. Sure, Google can keep paying Firefox hundreds of millions of dollars to be the default search engine (which, by the way, Bing doesn’t appear on the Firefox Search-Dropdown at all). But, someone at Google must’ve realized that they don’t want to be at the mercy of Firefox. The more marketshare Firefox has, the worse the negotiating position is for Google. I’m sure Google doesn’t want to get in a bidding war with Microsoft over Firefox’ search window. Someone at Google obviously realized that even if they can take 20% marketshare from Firefox, that would reduce Firefox’ negotiating power, and save them a lot of money. Ideally, Chrome would eat-up all of Firefox’ marketshare. Chrome users are, by default, pointed to Google’s search-engine. It just makes sense for Google to drop a few million on their own browser rather than pay-off Firefox year after year.

So far, Google Chrome has made a strong showing; 30 million users after just 10 months, which is a heck of a trajectory. Firefox is around 330 million users (24%), and IE still has 2/3rds of the browser market.

Smart people saying dumb things:

In the smart-people-saying-dumb-things department, I ran across the comment below on a blog recently. (To be fair, I can’t actually vouch for Brad Armstrong being smart.)


The internet has enlightened me to how misunderstood the software and the software industry is. I like the “big corporations” spin; it’s always a good way to side-step people’s critical thinking centers of the brain. Maybe I should comment about the legal system being a right of all Americans, and therefore, he should have to work for free. I think it’s entirely fair to call someone a hypocrite if they demand that software developers work for free, while they work a job that pays their bills. Only full-time volunteers (40-50 hours/week) and people who give 100% of their income to charity are allowed to cast that stone. It’s irksome that software developers have to justify getting paid for our work.

I’m also thinking of becoming an anti-physical property believer. Everything should be shared with everyone. That’s the best way to meet everyone’s needs. The big corporations don’t want us to share because sharing means buying less stuff. This means that you’re a wicked and evil person if you stop me from borrowing your car, watching your TV, using your computer, and sleeping under your roof. Oh, and I’m inviting all my hippie friends. They don’t shower because it messes up the natural oils on their skin. If you try to stop me, I’ll just have to “beat the system in order to fight the big corporations who own the corrupt legal system” – i.e. I’ll take what I want. Ownership is a scam created by the big corporations!

No Brutal Legend for the PC?

Just as I was starting to warm-up to Brutal Legend, it occurred to me that I should check whether or not it comes out on Windows. Nope. Just XBox360 and PS3. That’s too bad, since I don’t own any consoles. Maybe they’ll eventually get around to releasing it on the PC. Afterall, an XBox360 is pretty much just a stripped-down PC.

Ah well. Zombieland comes out that same week. It looks pretty funny. Maybe I can go watch that instead.

Amazon Video on Demand

I discovered Amazon’s Video-on-Demand service over the weekend. They let you rent movies over the internet, and I thought it was pretty cool. I rented Hellboy 2, and they had some sort of promotion going on, so I saw it for 99 cents. They give you two options: you can stream the movie an unlimited number of times for a 24-hour period, or you can download it. The downloaded version also has a 24-hour window which starts the first time you play the movie. They use DRM to prevent you from having a permanent copy — which is fine by me, since they would have to charge full-price ($13.99) if people were buying rather than renting the movie. The whole thing saved me a trip to the rental store, and the hassle of “is every copy already rented out?”

The only problem I had with it was that I couldn’t get good bandwidth while streaming the movie off their servers. The stream was coming across at 350 Kpbs (the lowest of Amazon’s four bitrates) even though I have a 1.5 Mbps connection. As a result, I kept getting annoying popups saying that the bandwidth was too low (although the movie itself never stuttered). I think it might be a problem with my ISP.