Tuesday, December 23, 2008


I seem to have inadvertently deleted the customized theme information for this blog...  Have picked one of the stock themes for now.  I think I have a backup... If not, I may be redesigning my blog sooner than anticipated!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Home for the Holidays

I got home late wednesday night.  Well technically thursday morning.  In any case, the lights were still on when I got home, which is more than Christine can say.  After the big storm that blew through New England on Thursday, there's still several thousand homes in upstate(ish) New York without electricity.  Four days later.  Kind of outdoes the should-be-more-of-a-surprise Comcast outage that greeted me when I got home.

She'll be coming to visit for New Year's, but since we're at our respective homes for Christmas, we exchanged gifts before we left.  I think she liked the necklace I got her:

Emerald, because it's her birthstone, and because it goes well with her eyes.  I suppose jewelry is kind of a typical boyfriend-present, but I think she liked it.  :-)

And I know I liked my present!

Yup - a legit Nintendo 64!  Just like the one on which I wasted so many hours playing Mario Kart 64 with Tony, Eddie and Kevin sophomore year!  My girlfriend is awesome.  Speaking of which, Christine also got me Star Fox,  a rumble pack, and... Mario Kart 64.  Goodbye, productivity!

And yes... I've already unlocked the "Extra" reversed versions of all the tracks in Mario Kart, and beaten Star Fox once.  Crazy freaking floating monkey head...  (Yes, I got the lame noob-Andross because I suck.  Don't judge me!!)

Now that I'm home, I've got lots of time to play video games and the like (already ordered Ocarina of Time on eBay...).  Although there are of course plenty of other things I should do.  Things like updating my resume, putting together a legit demo reel or two, and trying to do at least some networking before college cuts me loose in May...  (Aaaaaaaaaaah!!!!!!)  I also think I'm going to revamp HanleyFilms.com yet again.  Present glitchy navigation aside, its hard to keep it really up to date when it's all hand-edited HTML, and Directionless has really shown me how much easier it is to maintain a site built on some sort of Content Management System.  Since I'm already helping transition DUQ FM's website over to a new, Joomla-backed design, now might be a good time to use Joomla to build a new  professional website for myself as well.  If I'm trying to make contacts in the Film/TV/Media/Computer/Gaming/etc market in Pittsburgh, having a well-polished web presence would kind of seem important.

Oh, and speaking of Directionless.  Damn.  I really need to get on that...

Monday, December 01, 2008

Back at SU... For a Week and a Half.

Thanksgiving coming so late this year has created a rather weird schedule for those of us going to college (relatively) far from home. I just got back to Syracuse last night, and I'm leaving for Christmas Totally-Not-Organized-Around-One-Religion's-Holiday Break next week on Wednesday or Thursday. In between, I have to do one final exam, two 2-page "memos," one 8-page creative history writing assignment, a presentation on the play "Art," and a 10-second-long 3D animation in Blender. And a few late-night shifts at the Newhouse edit suites. Fun!

Over thanksgiving, in addition to eating a large amount of turkey and stuffing, I also participated in the Black Friday shopping "experience." Didn't actually get going until "late" - after 6am. The parking lots were pretty crazy though. At the mall one guy almost backed right into us at a fairly decent clip, while we were distracted by the children trying to get run over on the other side. Needless to say the stores were swamped, though oddly Best Buy still had some 2 gig SD cards for $7 apiece left. So now I can take over a thousand pictures on my digital camera at a time. Or an hour of MPEG4 video. Wow.

I did get some of my Christmas shopping done, with presents for my dad and brother, as well as something special for someone special... :-)

But now I am back to school, and back to work. Boo.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Halloween 2008

This post will probably get pushed down by newer, more up-to-date stuff in the near future, but since it's over half a month overdue, I wanted to get it up.

Halloween this year was pretty fun. I actually knew what my costume was going to be way ahead of time this year, as opposed to my usual habit of having to come up with something days (or hours...) beforehand. And honestly, it's been pretty much inevitable since high school that I'd eventually do this one.

Yup. I finally did Smith.

In addition to being the one night in the year when my hairline was actually an asset, my costume also went together very nicely with Christine's:

And apparently, we weren't the only ones in a Matrix-y mood that night. On our way down the massive Clarendon hill to get to our intended party, we got a number of hoots and hollers of approval, until we saw one of the Twins in a very convincing costume. (Sadly, there was only one. Even sadder - I didn't think at the time to yell for him to stop and pose for a picture!) Once at the party, we also ran into a Neo upstairs. Surprisingly, there seemed to be very few Jokers and Sarah Palins out that night.

Overall it was a really fun night!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Tina Fey as Sarah Palin on SNL

Pretty spot on, if you ask me.

I know this is all over YouTube, but hey: you can watch it here without worrying about NBC taking it down! Score!

Monday, August 04, 2008

MSNBC's Countdown - For Free on iTunes

These days, I get most of my actual news from the front page of NYTimes.com, or sometimes Reuters (mostly for Oddly Enough).  For television news and political commentary, I generally fall to the Stewart-Colbert dream team, or Countdown, Keith Olbermann's show on MSNBC.  (Hey, if republicans can sit while their eyes glaze over from Fox News, I think I'm entitled to a little of my own preaching-to-the-choir punditry!  Besides... Keith's wittier than Bill O'Reilly.)

Of course, I don't exactly mark my calendar to make sure I catch Countdown on TV.  To be honest, I don't even know its timeslot off the top of my head.  Which I was pleasantly astonished to find it in the podcast section of the iTunes Store.

Not just clips, or sound bites.  Video.  Of the whole show.

It's not perfect of course.  Mainly because each episode eats up about 220 meg on my hard drive.  My laptop hard drive with 20 gig free.  So, uh... don't think I'll exactly be archiving these things.  But it is impressive that they did this, if not entirely surprising.  Olbermann has long tried to stay on top of the "internets."

Of course, as always with these things, while I'm impressed and grateful to get this so conveniently (and so free!) I'm still a little confused as to the long-term business model of giving non-ad-laden stuff away on the internet for free.  Nice publicity stunt, but how far can you go with it?  Hmm.

As a side note:  MSNBC didn't exactly pick the most flattering picture of Keith there, did they?

Sunday, August 03, 2008

The Wisdom of Calvin and Hobbes

“If life is just a stage, then we are all running around ad-libbing, with absolutely no clue what the plot is. Maybe that’s why we don’t know whether it’s a comedy or tragedy.”

- Bill Watterson

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Google Experimenting With Customizable Search Results?

Today I noticed some new icons next to my Google search results...

Seems they're part of a trial "Edit Results" program Google is testing on a random selection of people with Google Accounts over a few weeks. They set up an informational page to explain it more.  This feature only applies to people who are logged in to their account when searching, and it only affects the result list of that particular user.

You can click on the Up arrow to promote good results to the top, delete bad ones altogether, and add notes about different results.

This seems like an interesting way to approach user-feedback-driven search, without actually making Google search results user-feedback-driven.  However, if they could figure out a more configurable way to do this (split into different "Search Sessions," perhaps?) I think it could actually be very useful when trying to do research online, especially with the note-taking feature.

Monday, May 19, 2008

My Room is a Digital Graveyard

It's really pretty sad. The truly depressing part is - this isn't even half the stuff. It's just the junk I'm currently trying desperately to get rid of!

Click the image for a larger view. Any or all of this stuff can be yours if you want it, just make me an offer. ("Free" counts as an offer. Ok, maybe not for the 350W power supply. That's still almost useful.) I'd just throw most of it in the trash, but I've got too much Liberal Guilt for that. (I mean, come on now.)

A list of this stuff as near as I can figure...
  1. External 56K modem. Supposedly works with Macs or Windows 3.1/NT/95. Serial connection. Copyright date says 1998.
  2. Stereo multimedia speakers. They sound pretty tinny, as I recall. Standard minijack plug.
  3. Seagate IDE hard drive. About 150% as thick as most 3.5" drives. Doesn't list capacity, but I expect a few hundered megabytes...
  4. Seagate IDE hard drive. 261.3 megabytes.
  5. 2x Sun SparcStation IPC's. You can Google them. 25 MHz Unix workstations that should outperform most 50MHz Intel 486 PCs! They power on, but use an obscure monitor type that I can't find, and so I have no idea how well they work.
  6. Sun keyboard, mouse, and monitor cable to go with one of the SparcStations. Also, a few little adapters that supposedly let you connect the boxes to a VGA monitor, but they only work with "sync-on-green" VGA monitors, which apparently none of mine are.
  7. An ancient NEC 5.25" hard drive. Weighs a ton, and uses some sort of pre-IDE proprietary connection that hooks up to the attached 8-bit ISA card... The date on it is 1984...
  8. Bog-standard 5.25" floppy disk drive. Nothing exciting or exotic here.
  9. 90-watt AT Power Supply (came before ATX)
  10. 350-watt ATX Power Supply (this is probably the only one I'd expect any decent price for, as it's still somewhat decent, and works fine)
  11. Creative CD-ROM drive. Doesn't use IDE - I think it has to hook up to some sort of Sound Blaster card it was bundled with. No idea where said card is though...
  12. Logitech "Scanman Plus Controller Board." ISA card. Copyright date is 1989.
  13. Some sort of ISA sound card. Pulled from an old IBM Aptiva.
  14. Lucent 56K modem. ISA card. (and the telephone cable to go with it! Awesome!!!!1)
  15. Random old floppy cables, the kind that go to a 5.25" drive.
  16. Actually, these two adapters are kind of neat, in an old-tech sort of way. They're used to hook up a 3.5" floppy drive in machines that were only designed to support 5.25" drives.
  17. A Pentium I heatsink.
  18. VEGA graphics adapter from 1986. 8-bit ISA card. Uses an older, pre-VGA graphics plug (looks like a serial port)
  19. "ATI Mach 32" 2D video card. ISA card, normal VGA connector. I think its big selling point was it had an amazing 2 megabytes of VRAM... or something.
  20. SMC network card from 1993. ISA card, does 10-baseT ethernet, or two different, obsolete networking connections (including one that appears to use coaxial cable...) This was actually the NIC that was in my machine when I first started playing CounterStrike and going to LAN parties...
  21. Assorted F-ing RAM. All pre-DDR, mostly SIMM's (pre-DIMM)
  22. A couple of standard CD-ROM drives. One of them is 52x! I don't remember if they work...
Most of this stuff should be functional. Or at least, it was functional the last time it was in a machine.

And like I said, that isn't even close to all of my older computer junk... It's just the really ancient crap I'm trying to get rid of, hopefully without it ending up in a landfill. I still have (including my normal everyday machines) 5 computers that will boot and run, a couple spare AMD motherboards and AGP video cards, 2 Palm PDA's... and a few assorted knick knacks:

Monday, March 31, 2008

New Comic Up at Directionless!

Bet you thought I wasn't going to get a blog post in for March, huh? Now that the pigs are already airborne, I'm going to turn down the thermostat in hell by announcing there's a new comic over at DirectionlessComic.com!

For those of you keeping score, yes, this is the first new webcomic out of me in over two years. (though why anyone would be keeping score is beyond me...) 

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Newsflash: Computers Crash

It's pretty common knowledge that some people get as worked up over their computer's operating system as others do about, say, religion. (I mean, I really like Macs, but just listen to the caller at the beginning of this web-show where the woman on-screen is installing Vista on her MacBook Air. You want to cry...? My goodness...)

Sometimes, a little perspective is fun:

And I know some have tried to compare me to the caller in that first link. But, come on. As strongly as Final Cut Pro pulled me into the Mac universe, Portal still keeps me pretty rooted in Windows XP... :)

Update: Ok, this one's funny too!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

21st Birthday!

Wooooooooo! 21!!!! Partaaaaaaaaay!!!!!!


Actually, with the big 2-1 falling on a tuesday for me, the traditional barhopping drunkeness may have to wait. (Though never fear! I fully plan on making up for it this weekend) Although I did have one drink (admittedly, one rather strong drink...) last night a bit after midnight. I had to. You know how it is.

And Christine made a cake! THANK YOU CHRISTINE!

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Why Does Apple Have Such a Good Rep? This Might Be Part Of It...

It's no secret that Apple usually gets some of the highest marks for customer satisfaction among computer makers in places like Consumer Reports. But why is that? The value proposition is about the same these days, objectively anyway. And Macs certainly are just as capable of having major hardware mishaps as other manufacturer's machines - especially now that the Intel transition is complete and everybody basically uses the same guts.

So why do people love on Apple so much? A pretty GUI and elegant OS architecture don't make Customer Service any better. So what gives?

I offer this anecdote:

A couple weeks ago, my trusty, almost 3-year-old PowerBook G4 started having a few issues. Namely, Kernel Panics, the UNIX-y equivalent of the infamous Blue Screen of Death. Now, if your PC bluescreens, you just cuss Bill Gates (or Steve Ballmer, your pick) and reboot. On a Mac, if things manage to go this wrong... it means there's something wrong!

Long story short, some troubleshooting of my own narrowed it down to the RAM, and specifically, the actual RAM slots in the logicboard (Mac-parlance for laptop motherboard) as opposed to the sticks themselves. Bummer. Fortunately, this problem cropped up two weeks before my extended AppleCare warranty was set to expire. So I made an appointment and brought the machine in to the local Apple Retail Store, where the guy there confirmed the problem, checked with me to make sure I had everything backed up (I did) and shipped the machine off to the nearest Apple repair center. Zero cost to me, because it was all covered under AppleCare.

It was away for about a week, mainly because they don't keep a ton of spare parts for machines as old as mine on hand. The next week, I get a call.

"We have the machine back here... but it's failing our standard diagnostic test. It says here there's a problem with the VRAM. Now, it does boot, so if there's an immediate need for the machine you can come and pick it up, but I'd just as soon send it back and have them re-replace the logic board."
Ok, so that's kind of crazy... but hell, my AppleCare is expiring soon so yeah, by all means send it back until it gets a clean bill of health.

Another week passes, and I get a call.

"Ok, so the machine is still failing the diagnostic. So... there's two options I'm authorized to give you, but I think I know which one you're gonna take..."
I'm listening.
"First, we can order yet another new logic board, have it delivered here to the store, and install it ourselves to make sure it's done right, and hope that fixes whatever the issue is."
"Or... we offer you what's called a CRU Exchange, which would be the closest replacement machine that is not lower spec'ed than your current one."
"You'd get a MacBook Pro."

Needless to say, I went with option 2! So in a nutshell, my computer started acting up, and now - at no cost to me whatsoever, - I'm going from this:
PowerBook G4 15.2-inch
1.67 GHz PowerPC G4
2 GB PC2700 DDR RAM (upgraded from 512 Meg originally)
120 GB ATA hard drive (upgraded from 80 GB originally)
ATI Mobility Radeon 9700 - 128 Meg VRAM
2x DVD Burner

To this:
MacBook Pro 15.4-inch
2.2 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo
2 GB PC2-5300 DDR2 RAM
120 GB SATA hard drive
NVIDIA GeForce 8600M GT - 128 Meg VRAM
8x DVD Burner

... Sweet. For comparison purposes, this is my current "gaming rig" PC tower:
AMD AthlonXP 3200+ @ 2.2 GHz
160 GB ATA hard drive
NVIDIA GeForce 6800 non-ultra - 128 Meg VRAM
DVD... reader.

In short, once I get this new machine (in a week or so.... whatever, I can wait) I'm going to be very interested in seeing how 3D Mark scores match up once I make a WinXP partition (ah, the convenience of Intel chips!).

In conclusion, if you ever wonder why Apple's customer loyalty is so high - stuff like this is a big part of it. Oh, and if you ever get a Mac, particularly a laptop.... get AppleCare!
Update: Corrected the spelling of "CRU." Apparently it stands for "Customer Replacement Unit." Pretty straightforward.

Friday, February 01, 2008


I'll probably put something on Facebook once this stuff gets closer to reality, but I figure'd I'll mention it here first.

Longtime followers of my online activities will be familiar with the two webcomics I've worked on in the past: Medieval Mayhem, the borderline-8-Bit-Theater-ripoff sprite comic I made in junior high, and Directionless, the semi-autobiographical borderline-MacHall-ripoff I briefly made during my freshman year of college. After my life got a little too busy spring of freshman year, I abandoned that comic and haven't really done anything since. That's about to change...

One of the classes I'm taking right now is TRF414: Writing and Designing for Interactive Media. Turns out this class is mostly a "how to make web pages with Dreamweaver and HTML" class. Clearly, well below my ability level, and the professor knows this. So instead of sitting bored in class as we do things I've known about for years (this is a "tag") he's allowed me to basically turn the credits into an individual guided study sort of thing.

For this class (and really, I think getting a grade on this will be pretty good motivation!) I will be bringing back Directionless. Instead of the clunky free hosting I had on Comic Genesis last time, I'll be getting the comic it's own domain, and piggy-backing on the server space for Hanley Films. I know some of my friends from high school (Halapy in particular... thanks for nagging!) liked to read the comic the last time I did it, and since then I've had several people here ask "why don't you do more of those - you should put us in it!" so there's plenty of reason outside of the TRF class to do this as well.

Plus, I don't have any film/video production classes this semester, and if all I do creatively is write, I'll go crazy!

The resurrected comic will follow the same format as before: semi-autobiographical, but probably about as loyal to the facts as the father in Big Fish... However, I will likely be the only returning character, since I don't really see much of the guys from my floor freshman year anymore. Instead, the new comic will focus around the group of friends I tend to hang out with now (don't worry - we're all plenty crazy too!)

The website will take a while to put together, since I plan on making it much nicer than my previous ones: probably a dynamic PHP site with a MySQL backend to make uploading new comics really easy once it's all running. Now, my previous experience with MySQL is approximately... none. So while that's all coming together, I can hopefully get a buffer of comics going so I won't miss as many updates as I've been known to in the past!

So, expect to see more on Directionless v.2 in a few weeks!

Medieval Mayhem
What? You thought I'd forget this classic? Though Medieval Mayhem only ran for 32 actual strips, and I don't really want to revisit making sprite comics, it was fairly humorous, and had a halfway decent following for what it was. (hell, the guy behind Elftor make a guest comic!)

Because of this, I'm looking into options for something my mother has been asking for for a long time - a printed book. I'm still looking into it, but it looks like if it happens, I can get a 34 or 36 page comic-book-style (saddle-stitch) full color printing without too much trouble. Unfortunately, unlike Directionless, Medieval Mayhem was put together at web resolution, so the DPI isn't as high as I'd like for printing, but there's not too much I can do about that.

I was thinking of pricing them at $5 a piece, and I'm very interested in how many people would be interested in one at that price. (Yes, obviously people who express interest to me early could get signed copies.... for whatever that's worth... which is probably nothing. Meh.)

So that's where things stand with me and webcomics. There's a lot coming up, so stay tuned!

Friday, January 25, 2008

Do's And Don'ts With Babies

Oh my... wow.... This is just hilarious...

See all of them here.
And if you don't find it funny - wow, stop taking everything so seriously!

Found via Applegeeks.

(EDIT: Link fixed)

Friday, January 18, 2008

"The Internet Party" - Funny Video

What would happen if Google's parents left home for the weekend?

Pretty spot-on parody of a lot of the major forces on the internet today.  (Unnecessary warning:  It occasionally gets a tad off-color.  But then, so does the internet.)

Update: Yes! Looks like this video (and the sequel) are up on a different site (I assume the comedy group's?). This one does allow embedding!

On another note, what's up with Cracked.com not allowing this video to be embedded on other sites, and getting it taken down from YouTube when it goes up? Seems kind of counter-productive.

Monday, January 14, 2008

This Strikes Me As Funny

I don't know what it is. Maybe it's how being in a relationship is a simple blue button. Maybe it's that they capitalize Girlfriend, then as Your Girlfriend. Whatever it is, I thought the set-up of this page was funny.

In other news, I'm kind of in a good mood right now...