Latest Entries »

Today is the Big Internet Slowdown, if you weren’t aware. Take action here.

I’m a 3D modeling hobbyist, and I just uploaded my entry for a contest to make a model in Blender depicting what really happened during a famous historical event (contest rules). Blender Guro, A.K.A. Andrew Price, hosted the competition. If you want to get into 3D modeling with Blender, he has a bajillion great tutorials.

Before you see my entry, I just want to make sure you’re aware of the enigma UVB-76, also known as “The Buzzer.” There is a short Wikipedia article about it, and there’s a Wired article about it which is longer, but a more interesting read (this article is how I actually heard about it in the first place). TL;DR, it’s a radio station in Russia which transmits a series of buzzing sounds and no one knows why. Its ownership is a mystery, and the eerie buzzing, which has been going since the 1980s, has never been deciphered.

With that in mind, here is a link to my entry (if the link doesn’t take you to my exact entry, my username is Real Food Man). In case you don’t get the joke, it was inspired by TwitchPlaysPokemon (which also has its own Wikipedia article).

Twitch Plays The Buzzer

There were quite a few excellent entries in the contest. If, by some fluke, I end up an honorable mention, I’ll post about it. Regardless, I’ll update this post when the winners are announced.

A buffalo does the Titanic in.

“Weather balloons”

Chariots of Fire

How the pyramids were built.

Stonehenge’s origin, which can only remind me of Beast Wars

Why Atlantis is at the bottom of the ocean

Loch Ness “monster” (edit: This one won)

The sword in the… oh

Stone Minions

An idea somewhat similar to mine

It’s actually been the contest with the fewest entries that I’ve ever seen, but I think the results were pretty great overall. Fingers crossed for an honorable mention!

Edit 5/28/14—The results are in, and, as expected, mine didn’t pull an honorable mention. It was definitely fun to do the competition, though, so it won’t be the last one I enter.


Blog posts are awesome when they are longer than ten words.

Third World Problems

Random thought of the day:

Earth is the third planet from the Sun. Therefore, we all live in the third world. First world problems would be having no atmosphere and burning alive.

#astronomyjokes #excusetogetbackintoblogging

As I mentioned, there are enough new shows this fall I found interesting that I separated them into two posts. Here are those for CBS, FOX, and a new addition to my recommendations: the CW.



Three brothers work on a military base. The oldest is a natural-born leader who made a mistake that lands him leading the platoon, and the younger two are recently-enlisted members of the same platoon. The two younger brothers and pretty much everyone else in the platoon are misfits and constantly frustrate the oldest brother.
Will I watch it? I’d be interested to know whether they will eventually leave the base and actually do some real combat, but it might be funnier just to leave them there. It looks like something I might watch every once in a while. Premieres November 8th at 9:30/8:30c.

Almost Human

What: Karl Urban (Éomer in LotR and McCoy in Stark Trek) stars as John Kennex, a cop in 2048. He awakes from a 17-month coma following an attack on the police department. He is paired with a android, as all cops are, but isn’t happy about it. This android, however, was designed with a greater emotional capacity than most, and had been previously decommissioned because of it.

Will I watch it? Remember how I said I wasn’t a big fan of cop shows? Well, like Fringe, this one has a secret ingredient: it’s in the future, and one of them is a robot! Okay, two secret ingredients. And, like Fringe, J.J. Abrams and J.H. Wyman have their paws all over it. That’s three secret ingredients! And did I mention Éomer? Rohiriiiiiim! Unfortunately, you’ll have to wait until November 4th (8/7c, occupying the slot Bones is in for the next few months).

Brooklyn Nine-Nine

What: Andy Sandberg gets his own TV show. Oops, never mind, the British beat us to it by a year. Also, the captain from Last Resort is… again the captain, but not of a submarine. It’s yet another cop show! A funny one, though, and five guesses as to which one plays the funny guy and which one plays the serious one.

Will I watch it? Fresh from my soreness of Last Resort being cancelled, the obvious thing to do is cling to whatever show resurrects its stellar cast, but no, I must resist. I’ve never put a comedy series on my must-watch-every-episode list, though I’m sure if I sit down for a rare episode, I won’t be able to help but be entertained. Premieres September 17th at 8:30/7:30c.

Sleepy Hollow

What: The man who killed (possibly even created) the Headless Horseman wakes up 250 years later (right ’bout now) and finds the world on the edge of Apocalypse. But there’s another twist! The Headless Horseman is one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. How do you like them apples?

Will I watch it? It actually looks pretty durn cool. Doesn’t have any cast or crew I immediately recognize, but I’ll certainly catch the pilot and see what there is to see. Premieres September 16th at 9/8c.



An FBI agent and his associates hold the family of a surgeon hostage the day before she is supposed to operate on the president. They tell her she needs to make a “mistake” that kills the president or they’ll kill her family. Oh, and the dude is NOT Clive Owen, it turns out.

Will I watch it? Sound more like a movie premise than a TV series, so I’m skeptical of its longevity. Though, to be fair, I said the same thing about the aforementioned Prison Break, and it still delivered after the first season. But really, though, I totally thought that was Clive Owen. Premieres September 23rd at 10/9c.

The Crazy Ones

What: Robin Williams. Sarah the Vampire Slayer Michelle Gellar. Kelly Clarkson appears to be in the pilot, though I don’t know what she looks like and it could be an actress pretending to be her. It’s about a father-and-daughter team heading an ad agency that is not the one in Mad Men. Like Mad Men, it focuses on a different ad campaign for a different company each (or close to each) episode, the pilot focusing on making an ad for McDonald’s.

Will I watch it? Probably not, but it was worth a mention. Because Buffy. Premieres September 26th at 9/8c.


The Tomorrow People

A guy who thought his father left when he was young finds out that nope! Dad had superpowers, and now so does he. As with any good story about people with superpowers, someone wants to capture or kill them, and Jacob from Lost is up to the job.

Will I watch it? But really, now, why is everyone so young in CW shows?? Can their 15-35-year-old demographic not identify with anyone older than themselves? Premieres October 9th at 9/8c.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this year’s TV Hunting, and as mentioned, due to the large crop of new shows premiering in the spring, I’ll be returning with another post in December!

TV Hunting 2013 – ABC and NBC

Time for another wave of new shows. However, this year I’m splitting it into two posts: one for ABC and NBC, the other for CBS, FOX, and CW. The main reason is that the first two are bringing a metric butt-ton of new shows to the table, both in the fall and the coming spring (the spring ones won’t be covered in these posts, but will get a post or two of their own this winter. Some already have previews on their respective networks’ sites, if you want to catch them there). I picked out the ones I think might be interesting and summarize them below.

So grab your popcorn! Actually, wait, ’cause it’ll be another month or so before the first of them start. Popcorn has a shelf life of about an hour and a half.


Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

What: Picking up shortly after The Avengers, S.H.I.E.L.D.’s job has just gotten more complicated due to their business being less covert, what with the whole “people with superpowers” business being on the public’s mind all of a sudden. Agent Phil Coulson mysteriously reappears, and it looks to be more complicated than a retcon, as Marvel plans to incorporate the show into Marvel’s Cinematic Universe (meaning upcoming movies will influence the story, and vice versa).

Will I watch it? They showed the whole first episode at Comic Con and everybody loved it, but let’s face it: that’s beside the point. I’ve pretty much had it on my calendar since it was announced, so expect me on my sofa on September 24th (8/7c).

Once Upon a Time in Wonderland

What: A spinoff to Once Upon a Time about Alice, a girl who took a trip to Wonderland and fell in love with a genie, but when she came back and wouldn’t stop talking about it, was committed to a mental institution. The institution tells her they can give her a lobotomy to help her forget what they believe is a delusion.

Will I watch it? An avid fan of the “parent” series, Once Upon a Time (not to mention its spiritual ancestor, Lost), it’d have to be very different and very bad to convince me not to stick around for a few episodes, and likely a whole season. It looks good and has good people behind it, and with only small ties to the main Once Upon a Time storyline (they’ve only gone to Wonderland in two episodes so far, and not likely to return since only one of the three characters that spent much time there isn’t dead), it has plenty of room to grow into its own thing. The trailer depicts it as a very different type of storytelling, as well. Premieres October 10th (8/7c).

The Goldbergs

What: The 80s as told through a fairly-typical family. The youngest son films it on a VHS tape camera.

Will I watch it? I only barely missed the ’80s, so a lot of the things they do, chiefly filming with a VHS tape camera, resonates with me somehow. It looks to be a show that, while a comedy, broaches some fairly serious subjects, like the grandpa who is getting senile but not terribly happy about it. I’ll catch the pilot and see how much nostalgia I have to fight to stop. Premieres September 24th (9/8c).

Back in the Game

What: A recently-divorced Mom decides to make a baseball team for all the loser kids that didn’t make the real team.

Will I watch it? Eh, I might catch the pilot. Looks funny enough to give it a try. Premieres September 25th (8:30/7:30c).


The Blacklist

What: A very wanted criminal walks into a police department claiming to have a list of names of the most-wanted criminals still at large that he’s cultivated over 20 years. Always one step ahead of his “captors,” he plays mind games with them, while allowing them to capture some, though each time getting something in return.

Will I watch it? Yes. It’s one of those high-concept-but-sort-of-not-really shows like Prison Break (okay, not as high concept as Prison Break, but hey, it went for 4 seasons) that I fall for from the get-go. I’m not sure how I’ll feel about the female lead, but even a single episode is usually too early to judge those things. Hopefully she proves interesting, or it might turn out like another NBC series I stopped watching due to a shallow main character. Premieres September 23 (9/8c).


What: King Henry from the Tudors (or the baby daddy from August Rush, if that’s how you recognize him) shows up in Victorian England posing as an American entrepreneur, but is actually bent on revenge for those who turned him immortal over a century before.

Will I watch it? Probably won’t be my thing, but it’s certainly going to be someone’s thing. Probably the least traditional rendition of Dracula I’ve seen, which is good. Jonathan Rhys Meyers has proven he can carry a lead roll as an unlikeable character. Premieres October 25 (10/9c).


What: The toughest cop in New York… is in a wheelchair. It gives him “a different perspective” on things.

Will I watch it? Oh, you know me and cop shows. Actually, you probably don’t, because I never talk about them. Well, that’s because I pretty much stay away. CSI, detective shows, cop dramas; not my thing. Fringe was kind of an exception, but that was a CSI show like The X-Files was a buddy cop drama. Premieres October 2 (10/9c).

The Michael J. Fox Show

What: But wait, didn’t he come down with Parkinson’s? Yep, and it’s stage front in his self-titled show, where he plays a character named Michael Henry. In the show, his character starts back at his old job as a news anchor, living with and overcoming Parkinson’s in both his professional and personal lives.

Will I watch it? Well… you know, I’m not sure. There’s no skirting of the obvious: the show embraces his Parkinson’s without shame, and that’s kind of cool. And look, there’s Marie from Breaking Bad. It could easily be a show I catch now and then without a problem. Premieres September 26 at 9/8c with a 1-hour episode, but normally will be a half-hour show at 9:30/8:30c.

Hope you find something you like! If not, stay tuned for a writeup of the offerings from CBS, FOX, and CW.

I got off work early today, putting me on the road at 5:00pm. I wasn’t looking forward to facing rush hour, but it actually wasn’t bad at all. More cars, for sure, but same number of crazies as normal, which is zero, btw (I’m sure they exist, but I don’t have proof, yet).

However, I thought I’d share an interesting sight I saw last week on a day I didn’t bike. In front of me, I saw this lovely balancing act:

I’ve never understood why some cyclists never want to put one or both feet down while waiting at a stoplight. Granted, this particular girl was extremely good at it and I was actually more impressed than perplexed, but still: why??

Is it a form of impatience like when drivers inch forward at a light, or is there an ongoing, worldwide game of Hot Lava going on that no one told me about?

With the parts in hand, it was time for me to write this love letter to the integrated circuit. I began by moving the included fan from the front of the case to the side so that A- its blue light would show up better and B- it would be closer to everything that actually generates heat (except the hard drives, but screw those guys).

Side fan

No, I did not let a girl attach it for me. What do you mean, “Those look like Ari’s hands?”


There, all done. Oh wait, I forgot to put all the computer in it.

Next came the motherboard, or as no one but me calls it, the Nexus of Power. Actually, even I don’t call it that, except I just did. Drat.

Bare motherboard

I liked the color scheme on this motherboard. Red, white, and ‘Murica.

Northbridge heatsink

Northbridge heatsink with enough aluminum to make a few 12-packs of Mt. Dew cans.

Southbridge heatsink

The southbridge never gets as much attention, or as cool of a heatsink, but hey, be thankful. Some southbridges don’t get heatsinks at all. Now eat your peas.

Random heatsink

I don’t know what this is a heatsink for, but it’s the coolest. It’s between the processor and the ports on the back, so maybe it’s for all the USB/eSATA/ethernet components?

The processor tin was secured with a stick that I’m pretty sure could have patched a leaky dam.

Processor sticker

A dam, I say. This is a full minute’s work with good fingernails.

Open tin

*sound of soda can opening*

The processor went in easy peasy, ushering in a moment of reprieve…

Processor pins

All 942 pins are tiny little spires of silicon cocaine. I mean, that’s what I see. That’s what you see, right?

Thermal paste

Applying the teeny, tiny bit of thermal paste to the processor. I borrowed some aftermarket paste from my bro who just built a box of his own.

Then came the even more unexpectedly hard part: putting the heatsink and fan on. I thought it’d be a simple matter of sitting it on carefully and screwing it in.

I was so wrong.

Happy boy

This is my happy face, but it is also likely the expression the mad scientists at Zalman made when they invented such a byzantine way of securing a heatsink to a motherboard.

After several attempts (and hiring a Voodoo priest), we were able to attach the heatsink securely. The RAM, being the well-behaved child, didn’t give me any trouble, thereby securing its spot as the favorite kid.

Finished motherboard

“Suck it, I’m the favorite.” -RAM
“Yeah, well I’m more expensive.” -CPU
“I’m the best-looking.” -Heatsink/fan
“I’m biggest!” -Motherboard
“Hey, don’t make me come back there, or no one gets ice cream.” -Me

Next in were the power supply and graphics card. They also behaved, so I guess they’re also my favorite children. You can have more than one, right?

Power supply

“Yeah, but I’m still the ‘extreme’ one.”

Graphics card

Not a gamer’s dream, but it renders the $#&! out of Command & Conquer 3 at max settings. Also good for Cycles rendering engine in Blender. It’s somehow even faster at it than the aforementioned 8-core 4GHz processor, or at least was for one project I’ve done so far.

But wait, I have all this nice thermal paste left. What if I were to, say, put it on the graphics card’s GPU?

GPU heatsink removed

Yep, that comes off. Does this void the warranty? Probably.


The actual GPU: about the size of your thumb’s fingernail. Also pictured: all the hair and dust in my apartment magnetized to it like a cat to its owner when a dog is near.

Believe it or not, the aftermarket thermal paste DID actually decrease the temps by about 5 degrees Celcius. I didn’t test the processor with and without the paste like I did the graphics card, but I assume it produced similar gains over the stock stuff.

Last in were the hard drives. The SSD will handle the Windows and Ubuntu OSs, programs, and certain temp/working files (particularly for After Effects and Premiere).

Samsung 840

SSD: Solid State Domination. Not pictured: old, creaky, 300GB traditional hard drive.

Don’t forget the speakers. These were actually bought from Best Buy, since they were $10 cheaper there. And, you know, it’s right by where I work. I got them like half an hour after ordering them.


Does anybody else think of these guys?


“I just sit under the desk… waiting for my moment…”

With everything installed, it was time to cross my fingers and see if it would turn on.



A successful POST! Granted, it took me a few minutes to realize the power supply switch was in the “off” position before this happened, but hey, what’s the Internet for if not editing out the less awesome parts of our life and putting our best selves forth?

I actually copied the contents of the Windows 8 DVD onto a flash drive in advance and installed the whole thing from said flash drive. It actually speeds the process up quite a bit, especially when you, er, forgot where you put the DVD drive.

Windows 8 disc

And mailing the disc here is still faster than downloading the digital version on my Internet connection.

But again, editing! The Windows 8 process was, like the operating itself, markedly different than its predecessors, doing certain things automatically while asking to do certain customizations right off the bat.


Remember Windows XP, when there were 3 choices?

Mouse movement

Why don’t you move your mouse into any corner!

And at last, I booted to a fully functional operating system. Some of the new…

Start screen

Behold that which wadded many a panty.

And plenty of the old and familiar…


Behold that which some apparently aren’t aware is still a part of Windows 8.

Oh, don’t forget my pal, Ubuntu. GRUB didn’t install at first for whatever reason, but I put on my intimidating voice and it jumped right into action. Nah, I got help. Big thanks to rigved at Ubuntu forums for the answer in this thread.

The finished result is below.

Finished computer

And there was much rejoicing.

And with that, my work is done. Big thanks to Ari, who helped build it like a good nerd wife, and to our cats, who provided needed moral support.



I have a new computer! It’s something I’ve been dreaming of for… well, about 6 years, now. Getting my (used and refurbished) laptop in 2010 was a temporary stopgap that at least allowed me to edit videos at home, but it wasn’t a powerful machine at the time, even for a laptop.

So this, The Box that I have planned for many years, creating wishlist after wishlist on Newegg to make sure I got exactly the machine I needed, finally became a reality. I had a few parts on hand: an SSD I’d received as a present a few months ago; a 300GB hard drive (they make those?) from a dead computer someone gave me; and a DVD drive (which I’ve only used once since I finished the build a month ago. Even the operating system was installed from a flash drive).

Somehow, one order was split into two orders (charged separately), each of which was subdivided again into two shipments, making a total of 4 shipments coming to my home. The first two, the case and the monitor, arrived on Monday.

Computer Boxes

Which Frequency pretended to crap on. Out of respect.

The next day, the box with almost everything else came in. Of course, the motherboard was not one of those things, so I was at a standstill. It gave me plenty of time to salivate, though.

The processor came in a cool metal tin, rather than a plain ol’ box. Very luxe.


As for me and my house, we will AMD.

There's a window in the tin so you can see the actual processor.

There’s a window in the tin so you can see the actual processor.

You don’t just get an octo-core processor running at 4GHz and use the stock fan, of course. No, you get a great behemoth of an aftermarket fan/heatsink and lock your processor to your motherboard with it. Like this.

Zalman CNPS9500A

Were it any larger, it’d need its own IP address. Or zip code.

I shun obscenities like 1,000W power supplies and go for more reasonable amounts that are only double my likely power draw.


But in the computer parts world, even mediocre is EXTREME.

I put in a hefty 16GB of RAM, which even with my most intense After Effects projects never exceeds 10GB of total system usage. I didn’t go for the fancy kind with red heatsinks or anything, but disappoint they do not.


Always two there are. No more. No less.

I also ordered a mouse, a 10ft ethernet cable (only $1.49!), a copy of Windows 8, and a memory card reader that didn’t end up being compatible with my motherboard (I gave it to someone else).

The next day, the final package with the graphics card and motherboard arrived.

At long last!

At long last!


GeForce GT 640

I’m not a huge gamer, so I settled for something with more transistors than all the computers ever used to put a man on the moon.


In the PC-building world, if it doesn’t have overclocking mentioned on the box, it’s almost an insult.

With everything out of the box(es), it was time to build. In the next post, I’ll get into the assembling, building, booting, thermal pasting, and all that jazz.

Empty box

It glowed for a few hours like a concrete cube formerly containing plutonium rods for a nuclear reactor.

My book appetite has changed from the straight-fiction diet I had up until I was 18 to a blend of fiction, nonfiction, and the occasional reference bout. I probably read more nonfiction than fiction now, and the latest on my list is one of the best I’ve read so far: John Stossel’s No They Can’t: Why Government Fails — and Individuals Succeed.

The book is divided into chapters based on different things the US Government does, some as specific as “Fixing Health Care” and others as open as “Making Life Fair.” And in case you’re wondering, they don’t all rhyme, an opportunity which I, for one, totally would have taken.

While it spans 13 chapters plus an introduction and conclusion, a few main points recur throughout. This list is probably non-comprehensive:

  • Using government as an answer to most problems is intuitive, but simple reasoning isn’t sufficient to determine what the best solution to hardly any problems, let alone the complex ones a federal government is involved in.
  • Government is force. Individuals or even businesses can try to persuade you to do something, but the government makes laws backed by police which you don’t have the option to refuse.
  • Most “big government” we have is not, in fact, just the work of liberals or even progressives. We the people ask the government to do things that benefit our city, state, or economic/social niche and that results in thousands of programs and “incentives” that take from the many to benefit small groups. Well, they’re supposed to help those groups. This is probably the most important point of the book.
  • Government is typically less efficient, competent, and — believe it or not — fair than non-government groups doing the same job.
  • Many things government does to protect people, groups, and even the environment end up hurting them/it more.
  • A huge number of the things progressives lift up as evidence that capitalism has shortcomings and should be replaced by socialism (or just bigger government) are actually only problems because government has already gotten involved. Think of things Michael Moore has made a movie about: big banks, health care companies, etc. These businesses would be kept honest by market competition, but they all too often either have friends in government who create tax/regulatory loopholes that give them an unfair advantage or are forced to do things they otherwise wouldn’t (make bad loans on houses, for instance) by well-intended legislation.

The book starts by Stossel talking about how he started as a typical progressive-minded reporter, agreeing that businesses and other large groups of people were evil and government needed to restrain (or stop them from hurting themselves). He only realized through years and years of research and observation that some of his preconceived notions were faulty. I can identify.

Stossel’s point of view is not that of a conservative, despite what you might assume with him having a show on Fox News. Rather, he’s a libertarian, and makes the point again and again that the conservative-versus-liberal battle is really just a battle about what parts of government should be big. Things like war, protecting Medicare, the war on drugs, and a host of other things are backed by a huge number of conservatives (those in congress, anyway), and Stossel takes a step back to show that it’s all big government and it all makes us less free.

This message is what broke the camel’s back with me and made me finally change my political alignment from what I considered “moderate conservative” to libertarian. I even made it Facebook official (a great move, because I get startlingly fewer political ads). I’m doing crazy things like actually looking at candidates that don’t belong to either major party and (horrors!) voting for them. After seeing the government fail to even shrink its budget deficit (let alone the outstanding National Debt) after the supposedly Tea Party-fueled 2010 elections, I’m realizing that having a bunch of Republicans in office, even today when overspending is talked about more than ever, isn’t going to get the nation back on track.

I wouldn’t be surprised if you read the book (which you should) and find at least one topic you don’t agree with Stossel on. Heck, even I don’t agree with every point (he defends the Citizens United decision, which I’m still pretty sure was a bad move). However, while the book pushes some boundaries, it’s not radical in some of the ways you might expect:

  • Stossel never suggests education should all be privatized. Rather, he points to great things private schools do with less money and shows that schools are funded the wrong way. He also talks about a voucher program where money is attached to students and goes to whatever school they want to attend, giving the system a dose of the free market. He never rags on teachers, though he’s no fan of teacher’s unions or tenure.
  • He doesn’t suggest privatizing social security. While he probably wouldn’t mind it, he suggests straightforward ways to make it sustainable.
  • While many people (conservatives, it seems, do this more than others) seem to miss the point of small government and say or imply poor/disabled/drug-addicted people deserve what they get, and therefore shouldn’t get government help, Stossel offers a different perspective: these inequalities exist and should be worked against, but government is simply not the best way to do it. He cites instances when government intervention butts out charities that were doing the same thing, times when government “assistance” causes dependence on that assistance, and other times, especially in regards to the disabled, when government programs hurt the very people they’re intended to help.

The 13th chapter dips into all the topics discussed so far and shows why the budget is so out of control. I practically cheered as he then outlined an actual plan to balance the budget (take that, John Boehner), mostly by eliminating departments or making modifications that he’d already discussed in previous chapters. The funny thing is that even though large departments and programs were eliminated or cut, you realize that losing those things wouldn’t really hurt: he’d already covered why those things aren’t better in government hands in the previous chapters.

I think it’s a book everyone should read, even if there are chapters or bits here and there you still don’t agree with. Chances are you’ll agree with some or most of them, and that’ll be another step toward a saner government and a freer society.