Thursday, May 5, 2011

Welcoming back my laptop

So I'm welcoming back my laptop after a few fatal errors and I'm pleased to report that everything is working relatively smooth. That being said, lets get the ball rolling with some more of the Rainmeter/Objectdock awesomeness.

Rainmeter is a tough one to get the hang of, but once you get the basics it's enough to work with. If you want to get Rainmeter and start tweaking things yourself, click here.

That should take you straight to the Rainmeter home page and from there you can guess where the actual download is... (Hint: It's probably on the page titled Downloads)

Once you download it and get it installed you might be wondering where to go and what to do to make it personal and awesome. Well I'm getting to that... Soon... In the mean time you need the basics of how to use what you've got.

The only way to open and close different Rainmeter objects is to right click. This can be especially annoying when the object is 10pt txt without anything big to click on. Opening skins is kind of tricky too, you've gotta right click and go down to Rainmeter Menu>Configs>[skin name here]>[object name here]

That'll let you adjust which pieces you have open and which pieces you want to get rid of. I personally don't know enough about Rainmeter yet to adjust colors or anything fancy like that so my outlook is to mix and match pieces of different skins/configs to make something I can enjoy. Where do I find more skins and neat stuff like that? Right here.

Now that you know where to get them, how do you go about installing them? Some of them come in the form of a .rmskin file which is self installing and will make your life easy. More often though, they will come in the form of .zip files that need to be exctracted to My Documents>Rainmeter>Skins

Once they're in there, refresh Rainmeter by either restarting it or right clicking like the step mentioned above.

Now you're well on your way to improving your UI and an overall sense of euphoria, enjoy.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Anatomy of a WoW character

Reality is a horrible place that only those who are dead inside enjoy. Even if you're not into gaming per say there is something in everyone's life that helps them cope with the outside world by way of imagination. My current addiction, just like twelve million other people, is World of Warcraft. While basically everyone has heard of it, most don't understand it which seems like a perfect opportunity to show everyone the anatomy of a WoW character. (Not the actual physical anatomy... Let's be real here, that'd be weird.)

The first and best part about the game is probably the sweet looking gear you can collect throughout a career of questing your way around the world and battling those who'd seek to destroy it. This is my most recent character, a warrior named Hamoorabi (pun totally intended). Out of the six years playing the game and trying just about every class I decided to get back to my beginings and reroll another warrior. My old account got permabanned for credit card theft because I gave it to a friend during one of my quitting phases and so I had to rebuild at the beginning of the previous expansion. Anywho, the picture above shows off the neat visual aspect of my character's gear.

This next part is where things get a bit tricky. See generally each class has three different sets of talent tree's that help determine what role your character will play. My spec (specialization) above is built for Tanking which basically means that I stand in front of the group and cause enough threat to get baddies to attack me instead of the group. Now for most that would seem counter intuitive right? Getting hit is bad? Well normally you'd be correct except that tanks are built to withstand the hardest hits in the game and with the help of a few good teammates live through the encounters. A Tank's job is to hold the attention of enemies and mitigate as much damage as possible with stats like Block, Dodge, Parry, and Stamina but we'll get to those in a minute.

Stats are the biggest part of the game. You can't kill anything unless your stats are built the right way. That being said my warrior's stats (shown above) are relatively average or slightly above average. Stats vary from Strength and Stamina to Intellect and Spirit all the way to more intricate things like Hit Rating and Expertise. Now I won't get too technical here because this is supposed to be for people who don't know anything about WoW but I will say that this part of the game is the most intense. Boss fights? Pretty interesting. Game mechanics? Challenging. Abilities and skills? Tough to learn but simple once understood. Character stats? Nerdgasm. Imagine a gearhead tuning his car to run better on an open downpipe to make it faster. That's the general idea behind character stats. The more you understand and fine tune them the better your character will be.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Rainmeter and Objectdock create interesting visuals

There are a number of cool visual effects in just about everything except radio and to be honest, I'm a huge fan of neat looking things. The picture above is a few tweaks I made to my desktop interface which you might think "That doesn't seem too impressive..." but what you may not know is that its actually running Windows 7.

Rainmeter is responsible for all the need gadgets in the top right corner which are actually functional widgets form fit to what I want to know about my system. The big gauge looking thing is actually a clock that displays the time and date. Next to it are a few other gadgets like network traffic and ram/cpu usage along with hard drive activity.

Along with the neat visual effects of the desktop, switching between windows in full screen is subject to the classic alt tab function OR you can use the windows key + tab which is much cooler in my opinion. (Windows key + tab function shown above)

This is the interface I set up for my laptop. Same thing as the one at the top utilizing Rainmeter and Objectdock, though the dock and the icons are much cooler on this one in my opinion.

There are plenty of resources out there on the web about how to build your own Rainmeter gadgets and where to find premades. The same applies to Objectdock.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Netgear N600

Recently I came into possession of a second-hand gaming rig that used to belong to my little brother. He moved in with us a few weeks back and his spare desktop was of no use to him any more so he passed it along to me. I don't know if that means I'm keeping it but in the mean time its definitely keeping me entertained.

Of course all good things have a downside, just as all bad things have an upside. The only major problem with having a desktop is that I don't have a cat6 cable that goes to my room any more because the xbox in the living room needed a connection and I was running my laptop on its stock wireless connection.

The problem here wasn't that I couldn't get a connection, more so that I didn't have the means to make it happen. Luckily, my dad was cool enough to grab a wireless adapter for me.

Long story short, now I'm in business with a bitchin sweet wireless adapter from Netgear. Normally, I'd recommend a linksys product but I have to say Netgear really nailed it with the N600.

Unlike most wireless adapters the N600 doesn't have the standard issue flaws commonly found with wireless products. Setup is really made idiot proof in the software that comes with the device. Really the only hard part about setting this up is finding a spot to put the Velcro to position the device. It's only a little bigger than a thumb drive which is nice because having a giant 56k looking thing on your desk is almost taboo with things like the N600 on the market not to mention it makes it that much easier to attach to a wall, desk or secret compartment.

There is one small problem I've found though. It likes to share IP settings with my laptop and sometimes that gets a little on the irritating side but usually all it needs is a quick reboot and its golden, not that I should be using my laptop and my desktop that the same time, it was just something I noticed.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Photshop Hell

So in the past couple of weeks I've been attempting to use photoshop and lets just say it hasn't been easy.

After sitting in the production room long after class is over, I finally figured out how to do what I wanted. Then after I figured out how to do it, I had issues doing it correctly. A few attempts later I finally got to a draft I felt comfortable sending to print.

You may have also noticed the new graphics on my blog here.... An extension of photoshop hell.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Guess who's watching you

I talk a lot about security and protecting yourself on the internet, which most people may see as excessive. I understand that it might seem that way but I was wandering the vast landscape of the internet and to my surprise/disgust I found another service that helps people look at you and what you're doing around the web.

It's bad enough that social networks create a privacy risk, but what's worse is that now more than ever people are seeking to exploit that risk. Some people seek to make the exploitation easier by gathering all the information they can from these networks and wrapping it complete with a bow just to send it off to some unknown person who's intent might be to steal your identity or at the very least check in on you (i.e. government agencies, employers, classmates, etc.).

The service I'm talking about specifically is

Now don't get me wrong, this service does serve a legitimate purpose in helping people find old friends or what have you but the risk involved is not worth the headache.

As much as I hate to admit it, there are those in the nerdish community that use things like this to stalk people, steal their information, and do generally malicious things. Not all hackers are evil and seek to do these things, but there are those employed by nefarious data mining companies that will. It's bad enough that people can't get anywhere on the internet without signing up for some kind of service that requires a lot of personal information, which often times gets sold to research/data mining companies but now we have the issue of people collecting all of our contact/social information.

Do this at least once in your life if you happen to get bored or if you're just generally concerned about your privacy...

Go to Google
Type in your name (First, middle initial, Last)
Hit search and see what comes up.

If by some off chance you don't see your information anywhere, add your date of birth or the city you live in to the search. I can almost guarantee that your facebook/myspace/linked in/twitter profiles will be among the results. Unless of course you've taken the advice to give out false information for things of that nature which by the way is the safest option unless you're doing some kind of banking in which case you need to make sure your information is accurate because not only is it important, generally all banks take security very seriously and won't sell your information.

So what's the 'to long; didn't read' of all this? Go get yourself taken off of these sites because the proverbial 'they' are watching.