I’m sitting here typing into a quick-notes pane on my new Dell XPS Gaming System. Ok, so technically it isn’t “mine”, but it’s damn nice anyway. There are a few downsides I won’t get into but it’s more than adequate for inter-office gaming and getting some occasional work done. Actually, in all seriousness, it kicks some serious butt in Photoshop. A gig of RAM will tend to do that. Or, at least it’ll tide us over until we put 2 Gigs into it next week. Did I mention is has an ATI Radeon 9800 Pro? Umm, yeah… a lot of work is going to get done on this puppy.

Actually, until this morning I forgot how many programs I use on a daily basis, when I had to install all of them on a fresh computer. I usually run StyleXP, a blog tool of some sort, IrfanView, Quick Notes, ieSpell, YzDock, Firebird, Google-Bar, Proxomitron, Win Patrol, Outlook, Icon Packager, Winamp, WinRAR and a whole host of different customizations like icon sets, custom cursors and of course a huge wallpaper collection. I have none of those. Well, that’s not completely true. I did just install Quick Notes and Winamp. I’ll have to pick up the others as I hunt around the web to find them again since, obviously, I don’t have my 600+ bookmarks. That reminds me. I needed a bookmark manager.

If anyone has any recommendations as to different programs to use in lew of one of the above, please let me know. I love trying out new software.

I should also add that we got the Jedi Academy demo running on the puppy this morning… holy crap. At 1600×1200 with every option turned on, it purred. I actually think it purred. Forget gaming from home, I’ll just stay late every once in a while and game here. That is, if it’s ok with Paul…

…who I’ve now gotten addicted to Jedi Academy and who I’ll be picking up a full copy for tomorrow since it was released today.



Recently, through observation of others, I’ve become increasingly aware of how lucky I’ve been internet security wise. I’ve never had a major virus, I’ve never been shut off by my ISP, I’ve never been traced, hacked, attacked, etc. I will now knock on the nearest wooden object. Watching my employer deal with virus after virus and watching Lauren’s parents computer be completely controled by spyware apps, I’ve become increasing suspiscious of just about everything. Also, off-hand comments made at work lead me to believe that internet logs are being compiled and checked.

That’s why I’ve decided to compile a total package of applications to keep me safe, sound and completely annonymous. These are just a few programs I’ve been trying out on Lauren’s computer to see if they’re worth purchasing and/or using (since some of them are free). First up is McAfee Internet Security. Although I’m behind a hardware firewall already, it never hurts to have a little redundancy. Not so much for incoming traffic but for monitoring outgoing traffic easily. McAfee was feature on the Screen Savers this week and I have to say that I agree with the review. It’s a very very robust firewall with all of the features you could want.

Also, to be completely annoymous at work and at home, there’s always Anonymizer. This thing has gotten better reviews than just about anything I’ve ever seen. I haven’t had a chance to try it out but it’s seems like an interesting idea. It has both an install version and a plugin version that you can activate whenever you need it. So, essentially, you can install it at home and also run it, google-bar style, at work if need be.

There’s also a whole host of things that I already run which I will continue to do so. WinPatrol, AdAware, SpyBot, Windows Washer and Proxomitron. Those should be enough to take care of just about anything you run into.

I’ll link those later.

Anyway, I don’t really know why I’m making this update, I just kind of felt like it. I’m going to go watch some Tech TV and eat some dinner. Probably in that order. Later.

Matt out.

Entry #997 – The cell phone debate

I’ve been heavily debating getting one of the new T-mobile Sidekicks, AKA the Danger Hiptop. Reviews are very positive everywhere I look but there are some complaints people have had and some questions I have before I make an investment like that. I should also mention that at the moment I’m getting rid of my Sprint PCS phone because a) I don’t want to pay for two phones and b) the reception sucks here in Houston. That leaves me with the company phone. A nice, usable nokia 3390 with t-mobile service paid for by work. Usable as it may be, it simply isn’t equipped with enough features to get me through any span of time. Heck, the phone is 3+ years old.

The main advantages to the Sidekick would be:
– The company would likely cover the phone plan ($29.99 I think)
– I would only have to pay $20 a month for unlimited internet, email, etc.
– I could update my journal on the go, chat through AIM and text message as much as I wanted.
– It’s color, it has all the PDA features I use and is basically a BlackBerry on crack.

My concerns:
– Since our mail server uses a secure log-in, I probably couldn’t check my email… I’d have to set up a new account some place since I doubt we’d un-secure email just for me.
– The web browser doesn’t have Java support. Not like that a huge deal, it’s just a good thing to have.
– I’ve seen no information on either downloadable ringtones, programmable ringtones, downloadable games and/or content (pictures, icons, etc). If I’m going to pay that much for a new phone, it better have decent ringtones.
– The price tag ($300 from t-mobile on its own, but only $150 @ Amazon with a service contract)
– T-mobile service. I know for a fact that it works well here in metro Houston and surrounding areas. I also know it works well in places like Dallas and Lubbock. What I don’t know is how well it travels. The one advantage to my Sprint phone is that I never lost service traveling anywhere.
– Service plan mumbo-jumbo. I can save $150 on the phone is I sign up for my own service. If I do that then the special deal we have with all the office phones won’t work (we have a free phone-to-phone deal) and I’ll have to figure out a way to get work to cover the cost of the phone portion of the bill.

All the reviews I’ve read seem to suggest it’s the second-coming as far as phones are concerned. The only complaints people have are that the ringer is to soft (people can’t hear it in their pocket) and that its far too big to use without a handsfree set or other headset type setup. I’d have to “test drive” one before I’d be convinced either way. My main concerns are probably email compatibility and the service plan. If I could get those two straitened out then I’d be all for it. Hey, if the guys over at Penny-Arcade like it (or at least it’s little brother), that’s probably a good sign.

Another Monday

Well, it’s Monday again, which means I actually have time to rest and relax. Not really though since Mondays are quickly becoming my “errand and chore” days. See, since people like to have weddings on Saturdays, I have to work Saturdays. Thus, I have Sunday and Monday off. Sunday you can’t get anything done because stuff either closes early, isn’t open in the first place, or you’re too busy being lazy and/or spending time with friends/family/etc. So Monday becomes my Saturday. It’s nice to have a day off obviously but I don’t get to spend it with Lauren because she’s working. Going places like the mall are nice because they’re completely empty, but it’s boring to go by yourself all the time. It’s going to take some getting used to.

Speaking of errands, today I need to go pick up my license plates and get a small crack in my windshield looked at. Stupid rocks.

Work is going well. We’re really swamped with and working very long hours to keep up. It’s both pageant and wedding season and we’re getting slammed with both. I’ll be getting a new Dell Uber System in the next few days and that’ll help speed things up a bit. A big beefy desktop with a geforce FX and 2G of memory. I’ve also gotten my boss addicted to Battlefield 1942 and both of the new Star Wars games. That system should come in handy for some lunch-break fragging.

If my parents would ever get around to it I might actually have MY system before the next ice age. It’s not really that hard to call the shipping company we’ve been talking to and schedule a pickup. Seriously. Everything, with a few exceptions, is already packed in boxes ready to go. It would take them maybe a few hours on a Saturday. Maybe.

I don’t want to seem ungrateful for everything they’ve done for me but they really don’t seem to be behind me 100% with my move to TX and with the wedding planning. Lauren’s family is paying a lot of money to get this to go off without a snag and they’re arguing with us over 4 (!) extra people at the rehearsal dinner, the only thing they actually have to pay for. Sometimes I really don’t understand them.

Lets see, oh yeah. Gaming.

I’ve gotten a free second to play the demos for both SW: Jedi Knight – Jedi Academy and Call of Duty. Jedi Academy is what Jedi Outcast should have been. It’s exactly the same game, only better. The light-saber battles are better, you have tons of character customization options, the multiplayer is more extensive and the bugs have been worked out. We got a good deal of game-play out of Jedi Outcast and I can’t see this one being any different.

Call of Duty is being hailed as the next Medal of Honor. I played through the demo and with a few small exceptions I thought I was actually playing MoH. The demo was only one level so I didn’t get a real complete look at it but it’ll definitely be worth checking when it comes out shortly.

It might not be a “one game” season after all.

Matt out.

The perfect food

I truly believe that there are certain foods that, when eaten, make me feel really happy. I call them “perfect foods” due to their, well, perfect nature. A Mission Burrito falls into that category. A category I might add that has only a few select things in it. This tasty mexican meal joins the ranks of a Mike’s Pastry Cannoli, a Joe Teccie’s Chicken Marsala and a Papa Gino’s BBQ Chicken pizza. Yeah, a Mission Burrito is that good. I should point out that “Mission Burrito” is also the name of the restaurant that serves these burritos. So, technically, it’s a Mission Burritos burrito. It’s honestly, and I’m not exaggerating, 7+ inches thick in diameter. It’s the size of a very large sub sandwich. It is also damn tasty. You can get it with whatever you want in it, Subway style, where you order the ingredients as they make it for you. It’s also pretty inexpensive. $5 will get you a burrito the size of you’re head. I can’t speak for everyone but I know Chip enjoys a good burrito. We’re defiantly getting one of these for lunch while everyone is here.

Ok, back to work for me. We have a portrait today and that it. Tomorrow is the day from hell and we have 3 location shoots for 3+ hours each, which means I’m working from very early morning till very late at night. It will suck… but hey, that’s what over-time is for. Hope everyone had a good weekend. I know I did. I’ll catch up with everyone a little later. Back to work.

Matt out.