Kasperian Moving Parts

kinda like batman, but with a wife and 3 kids

Sunday December 22, 2013
by Jason 'vanRijn' Kasper
0 comments

I need to blog more again, social media and iPad be darned

I haven’t blogged much lately. I’m sure this isn’t that big of a deal to anyone but me, based on the complete lack of questions like “hey, you haven’t blogged much lately, is everything okay”, etc. It’s also obvious to me that my friends, who themselves used to be avid bloggers, now don’t really do all that much with their blogs anymore either. 

But it’s been bothering me for a while.

I blame Twitter and Facebook, personally. It used to be that the only way we had to be social, with ideas and feedback and such, were blogs. And with Twitter and Facebook, it’s so easy to satisfy 90% of my desire to communicate with and get feedback from my friends, that I just rarely think about blogging much anymore.

I blame awesome technology like my iPad too. It used to be that I’d nearly always have a laptop on my lap, and it was much easier to just open a new tab and blog something. I was the loudest of scoffers when the iPad first came out. I thought that this was just one new technology that was a clear attempt at taking more money out of my wallet and that there’s no way it would actually work for me. After all, I’m a software developer!! I eat and breathe and live code! I live in the Matrix!!! So why would I ever want to get a device like a tablet that I couldn’t even compile code on?!?

That didn’t last long, of course. I got an iPad because it was shiny and I thought it would be neat to have as a cool toy, and I wanted to have one like my friends. But I honestly didn’t think it’d be the device that I used most whilst not at work.

Boy was I wrong.

I’m sure I’m not alone in this, but I now use my iPad probably at least 99% of the time when I’m not at work. I won’t even go into the discussion about how this has led me to not hacking on Open Source projects hardly at all anymore. That’s just too depressing. But I will say that having my iPad be my 99% device outside of work means that it’s just not as easy to blog anymore.

But I think I want to change this. I managed to resurrect my Think Outside Stowaway folding bluetooth keyboard once again (COME ON, JORNO KEYBOARD!!!!). And I’ve discovered the free Posts application for the iPad, which is what I’m using right now. And this feels doable.

So here I sit, in the local Starbucks lobby, about to enjoy a Pumpkin Spice Egg Nog Latte, blogging once again. And it feels good.

I still need to figure out how to tie my blog into the social networks better. I’d love any suggestions and help with that. I think I’m using the Social plugin for my WordPress blog right now. Maybe there’s something better?

Anyway, here’s to blogging in the New Year. And here’s wishing all of you a very Merry Christmas. =:)

Friday November 9, 2012
by Jason 'vanRijn' Kasper
2 Comments

You Have To Actually Start To Cancel A Phone Line To Get Good Customer Service?

This is more of a rant than anything else. I despise the “threaten to cancel your phone account to get good customer service” approach to dealing with companies, so I’ve not tried it before. And this was no idle threat today… I was fully prepared to cancel a phone line to get what I needed. So please don’t read this as “hey, this trick worked for me and you should try it too,” because it’s definitely not. I was prepared to cancel 1 phone line to get what I needed, but Sprint surprised me by doing what I’d been asking them to do for the last month to keep me from canceling. And I’m hesitant to even post this because I am honestly thankful that I’m able to do what I need to do for my family without having to cancel any phone lines and I don’t want people to read this as a possible strategy or a way to cheat the system. But I’m more than just a little bit irritated that I had to actually call to cancel a phone line to get the good customer service I felt I deserved.

But I’m getting ahead of myself…

We have 6 smart phones on my Sprint mobile phone account. Prior to today and with absolute certainty for the last month, I was told that Sprint is utterly and physically and technically unable to add more than 5 phone lines to a shared family plan, and that if you add more lines, you have to add another plan. This meant that I had 5 phone lines on Sprint’s “1500 minutes, shared everything” plan for ~ $250 per month and then I had to buy another plan to service the  6th phone line. So instead of spending $250 for 5 lines and adding the 6th line on for the usual $19.99 per month, Sprint was making me pay $70 per month for the 6th phone line because it required an additional plan. Mind you, we use maybe only 500 shared minutes on our main “1500 minutes, shared everything” plan, so we’re theoretically paying for a lot of minutes that just go to waste every month. But anyway…

I have tried at least 5 times in the last month to get Sprint to figure out some way to let me include the 6th phone line as part of our 5-line shared everything plan. I spent 4 hours in the Verizon and AT&T stores, talking with their sales people and comparing how much they’d charge for the same services that I’m getting from Sprint. I did a pretty extensive spreadsheet which showed me that while AT&T and Verizon would cost me less in the long run, I’d have an up-front cost of about $1000 between early termination fees and buying new phones to switch from Sprint and one of their competitors. And I was honestly at the point of being tired of getting poor customer service from Sprint on the 6 lines thing, and also the mobile hotspot thing, that I was willing to pay that $1000 and move from Sprint to AT&T or Verizon. I called Sprint’s customer service and told them that I was unwilling to pay $70 for a 6th line and $19.99 for the privilege of having 2GB of mobile hotspot on one phone. I asked them if there was anything that they could do to work with  me and convince me to stay with Sprint rather than canceling my 6 phone lines with them and my $350/month bill. And I received a resounding and final “nope, sorry, there’s nothing we can do for you.”

And so, today, I called Sprint customer service and told them that I wanted to cancel one of my phone lines. I spoke to an account representative who understood that I was not threatening to cancel. I was actually calling to cancel. And to my HUMONGOUS surprise, the account rep told me that she talked to her manager and they were able to just go ahead and put the 6th phone line on our main shared everything plan. This means that instead of having to have a separate plan for the 6th line and pay $70 per month for it alone, we would only  have one phone plan and the 6th line would only cost us $19.99 extra per month.

Hallelujah! This is what I’ve been asking for for the last month!

But… wait a second…. Why didn’t Sprint do this to begin with? What is the difference between asking if there’s anything Sprint is willing to do to keep me as a customer, versus canceling a phone line?

It seems to my poor, uneducated-in-the-ways-of-mobile-phone-providers head that the difference is between making threats to cancel and actually canceling. Maybe in their minds, what I was doing before was trying to trick Sprint into giving me better customer service by threatening to leave them, and maybe they don’t respond to that or like it? But when I call to actually cancel a phone line with no questions first, then they’re able to actually give me good customer service so I don’t leave them?

Either way, it seems really petty and stupid to me. Maybe it makes sense to them because if people could just call and ask for good service and say that they’re thinking of leaving Sprint, they’d end up not making as much money because they wouldn’t be able to charge people as much per month? Maybe people would take advantage of Sprint and sign up all of their friends on their phone plan and that would be dishonest? Maybe there’s a rule book for Sprint customer service that says not to budge on things like this unless the customer is not merely threatening to cancel, but actually canceling?

I dunno… it’s just frustrating to be pushed to the wall and have to actually say “screw this; I’m outta here” to get what you feel like is fair and good customer service from a company. Maybe Sprint could sense fear or uncertainty when I called previously to say “hey, take me seriously, I’m really thinking of jumping ship”? Maybe they thought “ah, he’s just bluffing… he won’t really do it… we should stand firm and not give in?” Maybe the lady I spoke to previously didn’t actually care about giving good customer service and this lady did? Maybe when I called today, I had a manlier voice and it was clear that I wasn’t messing around?

Anyway, I don’t know what the rules and guidelines are for this game–either for the customer’s or Sprint’s side. I feel like I just discovered a secret way of getting good customer service… and I really don’t like it. I don’t want to have to start canceling service to get what I need. I’d like to just have good customer service provided to me because it’s the right thing to do and that’s how you should treat people. Say what you will about Apple, but I feel like they do a really good job at this and I think they deserve the customer loyalty that they’ve earned because of it.

End result: if the coming month’s bills reflect what was promised to me today, I’ll be staying with Sprint. Somewhere between grudgingly and happily, but staying nonetheless. For a family with 5 smart phones, Sprint honestly is the cheapest provider out there right now. And other than a few hiccups with my iPhone5 (which decided to get stuck in an infinite reboot loop last night and had to be DFU-restored to stop!?) and mobile hotspot reporting that I used 2GB worth of tethered data in 3 hours (is that even possible to do over a 3G data connection??), I’m otherwise very happy with Sprint. And today, I got good customer service from them, just as I have in the past.

I just hate that I had to go to DEFCON 1 to get it.

Tuesday September 25, 2012
by Jason 'vanRijn' Kasper
0 comments

Changing Background/Wallpaper on OS X With Multiple Spaces and Multiple Monitors

There are a bunch of partial solutions and comments and questions “out there” about how to change the background/wallpaper on OS X so that you have the same background image on all of your desktops/spaces and all of your monitors. The way Apple has implemented this, at least on Lion, is goofy as heck. I’ve been participating in one of these discussions on this Apple Support Community thread and while there’s been a couple of decent hacks, I’ve not really liked any of them so far.

I was playing with this again today, not really happy with any of the solutions I’ve seen. I first started looking into python/appscript, which used to expose the internal bits necessary to do this, but I discovered that it’s been discontinued. I did find some nice Applescript examples that led me down a different path. Here’s what I’ve ended up with. And my apologies to the numerous people who came up with partial solutions to this… this has been cobbled together from their work, but I didn’t keep track of all the parts.

This Applescript (I saved mine as ~/bin/changeBackground.scpt) will prompt you for a new background image, then it will iterate through all your spaces and per each space iterate through all monitors and set the background image. I have 8 spaces, for example, so this script will prompt me for a new background image and then switch to desktop 1, change both right and left monitor backgrounds, and then switch to desktop 2 and so on. This is only the second time I’ve tried playing with Applescript at all, so there’s probably some things I’m not doing right, but thus far, this seems to be working better than the other options I’ve tried!

It’s still a little goofy because it requires actually flipping through the spaces (at least it’s automated!) while it changes the background for each space. And this particular implementation requires the user to manually set how many desktops they have, as well as the keybinding that takes you to desktop 1 as well as the keybinding for “move right a space”. I would LOVE to see this Applescript enhanced so it doesn’t require that to be changed per individual user. And this script requires “enable access for assistive devices” to be set under Universal Access.

But anyway… disclaimers aside, I’d love to hear comments, etc. =:)

– pick a new background image
set theFile to choose file

– Find out how many spaces/desktops you have (this doesn’t work on Lion?):
tell application “System Preferences”
reveal anchor “shortcutsTab” of pane id “com.apple.preference.keyboard”
tell application “System Events” to tell window “Keyboard” of process “System Preferences”
set numSpaces to count (UI elements of rows of outline 1 of scroll area 2 of splitter group 1 of tab group 1 whose name begins with “Switch to Desktop”)
end tell
quit
end tell

log numSpaces

– the above doesn’t work, apparently, so set the number of spaces/desktops manually
set numSpaces to 8

log numSpaces

– Loop through the spaces/desktops, setting each of their backgrounds in turn:
– *Note*: Set your keyboard shortcut for desktop 1 if it’s different
tell application “System Events” to key code 18 using {command down} — Desktop 1

repeat (numSpaces) times

– Now loop through each monitor (confusingly called desktop) and change its background
tell application “System Events”
set monitors to a reference to every desktop
set numMonitors to count (monitors)
log numMonitors
repeat with monitorIndex from 1 to numMonitors by 1
set picture of item monitorIndex of the monitors to theFile
end repeat
end tell

delay 1

– switch to the next desktop
– *Note:* Set your keyboard shortcut for “next desktop” if it’s different
tell application “System Events” to key code 124 using {command down, control down} — ⌘→
delay 1
end repeat

Saturday August 25, 2012
by Jason 'vanRijn' Kasper
0 comments

In Search Of High Speed Network Connection From Basement to Second Floor

… or… man, I really don’t want to have to run CAT-6 wire from the basement to the second floor….

So I have a decently-big house. Thank you, God. 2 floors and a finished basement. I have a MacMini server in the second floor bedroom and it’s acting as the main audio/video server for the house. I want to have as fast a connection as possible between it and the AppleTV and GoogleTV in the main floor living room. I’ve already run CAT-6 from the main house router in the basement to the main living room. That was moderately unpainful as we have a drop ceiling in the basement. But there’s no easy way to get CAT-6 networking wire run from the basement to the second floor bedroom. I’d have to run wire almost the full length of the house to the conduit I installed last year that runs from the basement to the attic, and then back almost the full length of the house, drill a hole into the bedroom closet wall from the attic, run the wire down it, install a new CAT-6 wall jack, etc. Not the end of the world, but man I’d really like to not have to give up the 8+ hours or so it will take to do it right.

I do have a nice ASUS RT-N66U Dual-Band Wireless-N900 Gigabit Router (running DD-WRT) that serves up 802.11 B, G, and N to the house, and the Mac Mini Server is connected right now via 802.11N.

To try to avoid running CAT-6 wire, I figured I’d give the Netgear XAVB5101 Powerline Nano500 Set a try. Got it in from Amazon today (LOVE Amazon Prime!!), and set up a quick test to see how it performs compared to the 802.11 N WiFi connection I already have.

Let’s just say that I’m not horribly impressed just yet.

Now, I should state that the EOP (Ethernet over Power) connection/circuit in the basement is on the right side/pole of my house electrical breaker box and the connection/circuit in my bedroom is on the left side/pole. From what I’ve read, this won’t provide the best throughput and that it’s better to have both ends of the EOP connection be on the same side/pole. But as a first test, I did file copies over SSH of a 1.5G movie from my MacMini in the second floor bedroom to my MacBook Pro in the basement. I have a solid 1000Mbps connection from the MacBook pro in the basement to the house router. I did 5 iterations of this file copy over the 802.11N WiFi connection and then 5 iterations over the EOP LAN connection, which is advertised as being 500Mbps.

Here’s the results I saw over the EOP LAN connection:

# for f in $(seq 1 5); do scp user@MBP:Movies/THE_GREY.m4v THE_GREY-$f.m4v; done
THE_GREY.m4v                                  100% 1471MB   8.6MB/s   02:51
THE_GREY.m4v                                  100% 1471MB  10.5MB/s   02:20
THE_GREY.m4v                                  100% 1471MB  10.5MB/s   02:20
THE_GREY.m4v                                  100% 1471MB  10.5MB/s   02:20
THE_GREY.m4v                                  100% 1471MB  10.6MB/s   02:19

and here’s the results from going over 802.11 N:

# for f in $(seq 11 15); do scp user@MBP:Movies/THE_GREY.m4v THE_GREY-$f.m4v; done
THE_GREY.m4v                                  100% 1471MB  16.2MB/s   01:31
THE_GREY.m4v                                  100% 1471MB  16.0MB/s   01:32
THE_GREY.m4v                                  100% 1471MB  16.7MB/s   01:28
THE_GREY.m4v                                  100% 1471MB  16.7MB/s   01:28
THE_GREY.m4v                                  100% 1471MB  17.1MB/s   01:26

Wow. That’s pretty sad. Roughly 10.14 MB/s on average over EOP LAN and 16.54 MB/s on average over 802.11N. 802.11N, two floors away from the router in the basement, far out-performed the 500Mbps EOP LAN connection. =:( I may move the outlet circuit in the basement so that it’s on the same side/pole of the circuit breaker panel to see if that helps the EOP LAN connection, but at this point, I’m not sure I want to spend the time doing so.

Anyone out there travel down this road already? Is it worth it to move the circuit breaker around so that both connections are on the same side/pole? Will that let me get better-than-802.11N speed? Should I be satisfied with the 802.11N connection that seems to be working decently? Is ~ 16MB/s sufficient for 1080p streaming?

Or should I just give up, dedicate a day to the task, and run CAT-6 from the basement to the second floor bedroom?

Thursday August 2, 2012
by Jason 'vanRijn' Kasper
0 comments

Madcatz EVO FightStick Pro Remora, ArcEye3, and ChimpSMD Mod

The finished product, plugged into an XBox360And so it begins. Run USB to the ChimpSMDSeimitsu blue buttons, ArcEye3's and Remora in placeThe Mod WorkplaceThe messy mod workshopIndustrial Strength Velcro to Secure the ChimpSMD Board
Velcro to secure the ChimpSMDVelcro to secure the ChimpSMDHatefully short joystick wires!The original end of the wiring harnessWiring harness metal connectorsHelping Hands thing from Radio Shack
Replaced wiring harness wiresRe-wired joystick wiring harnessNew joystick wiring harness, glued and labelledJoystick connected to ChimpSMD and MadCatz PCBConnecting the buttons to both PCB's via CN1 and CN2 wiring harnessesDual-wired button CN1 wiring harness
Glued, dual-PCB-wired button CN1 wiring harnessGlued, dual-wire-modded button CN1 wiring harnessAlmost there!The finished product. Wires tamed slightly.Remora and ArcEye3's all wired up and dual-moddedFinished product, some wire taming, joystick end

My son and I went to EVO again this year and in addition to spending way too much money in general, I bought the MadCatz EVO limited edition FightStick Pro for myself. The clear Madcatz limited edition EVO 2012 FightStick Pro is a thing of beauty to begin with. But it is just begging to be modded. Of course, I had to dual-console-mod it so I could use it in the XBox360 and PS3. But I also had to add some Button LEDs while I was at it. The new ArcEye3′s, plus the new Remora board, plus a blue ball stick top and blue shaft and blue translucent Seimitsu buttons all combine to be the most beautiful arcade stick I’ve ever seen.

So here’s the finished product:

For more pics and a whole lot more content, check out my Flickr set for this mod.

 

Friday June 22, 2012
by Jason 'vanRijn' Kasper
2 Comments

In Search of a Decent Bluetooth iPad Keyboard

I’ve been looking for a good external Bluetooth keyboard for my iPad for a while. While the on-screen keyboard is okay for typing a couple of words at a time, it is  very much not acceptable for much more than that.

A while ago, I managed to find an old iGo Stowaway Bluetooth keyboard and  have been using it with my iPad for the last couple of years. The keyboard itself is absolutely wonderful. The keys feel like real keyboard keys and the build quality is very good. Unfortunately, it does not come with a dedicated number row, so to type the number 4, for instance, you have to hold down the blue function key and press “r”.  To type the dollar sign ($), you have to hold down the green function key and press “r”. So that kind of stinks and means that touch-typing on it requires at the very least some extra thought when it comes to anything other than A- Z.

Of course, the Holy Grail solution would be buying one of the beautiful (and bulky) Apple Bluetooth keyboards and taking that with me everywhere I go, but that’s a non-starter just because of how big and bulky and heavy the little beast is. Since I take my external keyboard with me everywhere I go, thrown in my UnderArmour SackPack, having as small and light of a keyboard is important to me.

So I finally broke down and bought a Verbatim Bluetooth folding keyboard. I should have known better, especially after reading all of the negative reviews it got. But I was weak. I’m typing this blog from the Verbatim Bluetooth keyboard on my iPad right now. Let me just tell you, this keyboard is worse than I imagined it could be. The keys offer next to zero press feedback. The keys repeat and skip sporadically. My thumb absolutely cannot use the split, goofy space bar. The shifted and very small “g” and “b” keys mean that I cannot find those by touch typing at all. And the position of the left shift key means that I hit the up arrow every time I start a new sentence that begins with a letter on the left side of the keyboard  and start typing in the middle of the text above. The number row is completely unacceptable. All of the number keys are shifted  around, are smaller than all of the other keys on the keyboard, and are not positioned where any touch-typist would expect them, which completely defeats the purpose of having a keyboard. If I have to look at the keyboard to see what keys I’m pressing, I might as well not have an external keyboard at all.

So this thing is going back, for sure. Buyer beware. Maybe this post will help some other desperate soul out there. If only the jorno keyboard would have made it to market!!!

I’m curious if anyone else out there has found a good solution for this. The Jorno keyboard looked perfect but never came to market. The Matias looks good, but it’s really big, even folded, and I can’t find anyone who sells the iPad/iPod keyboard. I don’t want a keyboard that is integrated into an iPad case, since I like how my iPad looks already and don’t want to  always have a bulky thing that I’m using. Would love comments and suggestions.

Sunday March 11, 2012
by Jason 'vanRijn' Kasper
0 comments

A Watch Band Fit For A James Bond Hacker

I finally found the first watch band I’ve ever been excited about in my entire life and I just wanted to share it. It’s the Ballistic Nylon Strap (24mm, 5-Ring, Black). The reason this is so exciting for me is that when you attach your watch to it, you end up with a non-standard watch band where the buckle is actually near the side of your watch instead of on the bottom of your wrist. This means that if you’re a programmer like me, you won’t have a bulky watch band buckle digging into your wrist all day!

Now, first of all, this watch band is made from ballistic nylon, and while I don’t know exactly what that means, I’m pretty sure I can use it to deflect bullets like Wonder Woman. And when the description includes words like James Bond, NATO-style, military, police, and divers, that makes my inner geek stand up and take attention. Here’s the description from the website:

This strong, durable, nylon strap is called a Ballistic Nylon Watch Band. The black strap is designed to fit watches with 24mm lug widths. It is often worn by military, police, and divers. This one-piece strap “weaves” under your watch. If one spring bar breaks, you won’t lose your watch! One stainless-steel ring functions as the buckle, four others secure the watch in place, with two of them acting as keepers.
  • Black nylon strap
  • NATO-style, one-piece watch band for more secure attachment
  • Fits watches with lugs width of 24mm (see size info)
  • Adjustable length allows fit for many wrist sizes
  • Water resistant

Like I stated earlier, the fact that there is no watch band buckle on the bottom of your wrist means that instead of fighting with the watch band like every watch band I’ve ever had since the beginning of time (because resting your wrist on that buckle for 8+ hours a day ends up causing pain and anguish and such), you have just a single layer of ballistic nylon which causes zero interference or discomfort!

The only problem for me was that I didn’t have a watch face that would fit in this band, having previously purchased Diesel DZ7134 Watch (shown at the left). Like most digital watches out there these days, this Diesel uses a very tightly-integrated watch band and won’t work with the new James Bondy watchband I had my eye on. And while I loved the Diesel watch, I was really tired of constantly fighting with its watch band while resting my wrist on it as I worked.

But then I found a new watch that would work with the James Bondy watchband and looked every bit as cool as the Diesel: the Nixon Unit Watch (shown at the right). And it comes in blue! And it uses a more standard watch band that works beautifully with the James Bondy watchband I wanted to try! And seriously, I really do like it a lot. Even with the default watch band, it is probably my favorite watch ever.

But coupled with the ballistic nylon watch from The Watch Prince, it is the most awesome watch in the entire universe. So if you’re a James Bondy guy like me, or a hacker like me, or a fashionable dude like me, or a guy (or gal!) who’s tired of fighting with your watch band while trying to work, you might want to give this watch band (or something like it) a closer look.

After all, it’s what James Bond would do.

Sunday March 11, 2012
by Jason 'vanRijn' Kasper
0 comments

On Getting Unlarger and Unrounder

How many times have you heard something that starts with “it’s a funny thing when you start getting older” and then end up hearing things that make you cringe and silently vow to yourself that it’ll never happen to you. Yeah, me neither. But let’s imagine that we have.

If “it’s a funny thing when you start getting older”, it’s an even funnier thing when you get older and work from home 100% of the time. And if you think that’s funny, it’s an absolute riot when you get older, have a sit-down job, have a wife and 3 kids, work from home 100% of the time, and have no reason to go outside your front door more than once a week.

Unfortunately, as much as I have tried to deny, ignore, argue against, and shrug off these things, it’s not actually all that funny, and it’s high time I start doing something about it.

I had an awesome Dad growing up. He was my hero, truly. He was larger than life, powerful, strong, forceful, loving, gentle, kind, and caring. Oh, and he was a bodybuilder and worked out with the likes of Jack LaLanne, Lou Ferrigno, Arnold, and a bunch of other really awesome names that have long since faded into the sunset. But my Dad and I worked out together as I grew up and he taught me to take care of my body. And though I never took things to the level of bodybuilding competitions like he did, the years I spent with my Dad laid down a solid core to my physique that have lasted me my whole life since. So far at least.

And then I got married, and finding the time to work out regularly became pretty tough. And then we had kids and that time disappeared again. And then I got a job in IT where instead of walking around for 10+ hours a day constantly, I was now parking my butt in a chair for 8+ hours a day. And then I got an AWESOME job (my current job with VMware which I cannot even explain how much I love enough) where I get to work from home (stupid housing market crash *spit*) doing programming and such 100% of the time, from my chair in the basement.

And now I look in the mirror as I walk by and wonder who in the heck that chubby older dude is and why he’s in my bedroom, wearing my underwear and the Woot shirt I just picked out this morning.

It’s a funny thing when you get older and you find that you have to figure out how to take care of your body again.

So I’m taking a stand against these long stories that end badly and make people cringe and vow silently to themselves. I’ve been doing little bits and pieces of this incrementally through the last couple of years, but I’m getting more serious about it now. Especially since I’ve lost exactly zero pounds since the same date 1 year ago. I’ve also gained exactly zero pounds since the same date 1 year ago, but that’s little solace since the kindly-yet-roundly gentleman keeps showing up in my bedroom mirror.

I still need to actually sit down and write up an official “this is what I’m going to do every day” routine, but thus far, here’s what I have:

Every day, Monday – Friday, I’m planning on doing this stuff:

  1. Yoga for at least 20 minutes. I really enjoy Rodney Yee’s videos and I’ve been using A.M. Yoga for Your Week for a year+ now. It has a different 20-minute routine for every day of the week (M-F). I highly recommend it. I also think that maybe it’s time for me to grow beyond these rather beginner-level routines, so if anyone has advice on the next place to go here, I’d appreciate it.
  2. Running on the treadmill or biking for at least 20 minutes. Been doing this for a while now too and I’ve been catching up on Netflix videos while doing it and it’s pretty enjoyable and I get a good sweat going.
  3. Ab-Doer core and abdominal routines. My Dad had already bought me the Ab-Doer Professional workout equipment years ago (it was the earlier version of the Ab-Doer Twist Abdominal Trainer), and while it may look kind of goofy, I do believe that it offers a really good full-midsection workout. So I’m going to try working my way through the videos John Abdo did again and see if I can stick to it and see some progress. Sadly, I lost the original VHS tapes that I had for my Ab-Doer Pro and had to re-order them from Mr. Abdo. These videos are 10 – 20 minutes long as you work your way up.

So there’s my story and I’m sticking to it. I think that if I can be consistent with this and actually do it well for a year or so, I should be in a much better physical condition. Really, I’d just like to stop seeing that portly dude who keeps stealing my underwear and Woot shirts.

Sunday March 11, 2012
by Jason 'vanRijn' Kasper
0 comments

Trying Out This Here Google AdSense Thingie

I really should have done this years ago, back when I was syndicated on a couple of FOSS planet RSS aggregators. *sigh* Anyway, after talking to my good friend Scott Knaub, and hearing how much money he periodically gets from just putting Google ads on his pages (I mean, it’s not tons of $CASHDOLLARZ, but still, every little bit counts!), I realized that I really need to look into doing just that.

Of course, that was several months ago and I’ve had it on my ToDo list ever since. But better late than never?

So, it’s not like anyone reads my blog anymore anyway, but in the off chance that you do and you have thoughts about it, please speak up. In general I try to not annoy people as much as possible, so if I’m annoying you now, I apologize; and if there’s something I can do to make things less annoying, please let me know.

From what I understand of the process, my AdSense account is active, but not really active, for the next 4-5 days or so while Google AdSense peeps review my stuff.

It would surely be swell if I could kick myself in the rear enough to make my web space useful again in this here age of Facebook and Twitter and such. And if I can earn a little bit of $CASHDOLLARZ while I’m doing so, all the better. =:)

Hrm. Speaking of “what the heck am I doing with this here website thing anymore”, I’m wondering why I’m bothering with Categories at all anymore. Aren’t Tags all the rage these days?

Friday December 30, 2011
by Jason 'vanRijn' Kasper
0 comments

This Isn’t My Street Fighter Any More

I came across this article today on BitMob, titled “A characters’ history of Street Fighter 4“. I’ve been playing and loving Street Fighter since Street Fighter 2 came out in 1991. I spent untold amounts of money at the arcades during my college and growing up years, playing Street Fighter with my brother Josh. And I loved it. And through the last 20 years (WOW), I’ve loved playing it on the PC, SNES, Xbox, and finally with the release of Street Fighter 4, on the PS3 and Xbox-360. I used to play with my kiddos and loved teaching them how to do the moves and learn footsies and strategy and mechanics. And I loved it.

But lately, I’ve been finding myself getting more and more frustrated by the direction Street Fighter play is taking these days and this article on BitMob said something that struck a nerve:

Now players are combing their way through Super Street Fighter 4: Arcade Edition Version 2012, a free patch that came out in both arcades and consoles. Previous SF4 games have been criticized for rewarding safe defenses over aggressive play, while Arcade Edition tilted the balance too much towards offense. Version 2012 will hopefully create a better harmony between the two approaches.

Street Fighter Arcade Edition was just a huge joke, really. If the only purpose of Arcade Edition was to introduce extremely overpowered and unbalanced characters, why even pretend to have a fair game anymore? AE 2012 claims to try to restore balance, but it did far too little to achieve that.

Anyway, I know I’m going to sound like an old fart here, but I really dislike the current direction of Street Fighter play I see. You can say that previous versions of Street Fighter rewarded safe/defensive play over aggressive play, I suppose. If by safe/defensive, you mean more careful and methodical, then yes, I agree. I’ll refer to this gameplay model as CrouchingTigerHiddenFlashKick.

But the most fashionable way to play Street Fighter today is non-stop, in your face, constantly bullying, constantly rushing down, make one mistake and you’re dead, don’t give your opponent a chance to think, mash buttons faster than the other guy, and in general behave like you’re OD’d on Mountain Dew, Coffee, NoDoze, Monster, Jolt, and PCP all at once. I’ll refer to this gameplay model as MashUntilItWorks. And I really hate it.

The BitMob article pointed this out too with the following video and quote:

The most-telling example of Arcade Edition’s balance comes from an exhibition at Norcal Regions 2011 between Street Fighter grandmaster Daigo Umehara and Dhalsim expert Filipino Champ. In the beginning Daigo used his famed Ryu, and the two fought on even ground. In this video, Daigo switched to Yun and easily smothered the yoga master. The only round Champ won was when he connected both a Super Combo and an Ultra Combo.

Here’s a video to show what I’m talking about. Note that up until about 21:20 of this video, the fighting is more like an exciting chess game. You can just feel the tension and see the thought going into each move. If you’ve been playing Street Fighter as long as me, you can feel the frustration as Filipino Champ correctly guesses and counters each of Daigo’s moves on screen before he does them. It’s exciting. I love it!

Now skip to about 21:20 of the video. From that point on, you’ll notice that the game play is completely different. The focus now is more like beating your opponent over the head with a 2×4, daring them to make any move or guess wrong just once and then you kill him. I hate it.

Now I’m not saying there’s no skill involved in MashUntilItWorks. And yes, I know that it’s an insulting way to refer to 100%, non-stop rush-down play, because there’s a lot of science and practice and plinking and skill in it. But it’s really frustrating to play against people who play like that. And MashUntilItWorks certainly favors younger eyes and brains and hands and reflexes than I have. And I feel a lot of times like I just can’t compete and that’s extremely discouraging. And for the first time in 20 years of playing fighting games, I quite often honestly feel like setting fire to the video game console and trying to find another hobby.