The Haus

Sunday, March 24, 2002

New Joystick Fun

My wife had to make a trek to The Big City to pick up some birthday presents for her parents. While she was out, I had her pick up a Logitech WingMan Attack 2 joystick for me. It's pretty sweet for only $19. It is USB so I don't have to jump through any gameport hoops anymore. Even better, I got it working flawlessly in Linux with a mere /sbin/insmod joydev and calibration via jscal. I tested it with Parsec and Tux Racer. Quite cool. In Windows I'm using it with XWing Alliance. My only gripe is that I now have three USB devices (mouse, Visor, joystick) but only two ports. Looks like I'm either going to have to get something like this so I can use the other two ports my mobo supports or I'm going to have to get a USB hub.

New Jailbreak/PoW

A new Jailbreak/Prisoners of War map pack has been released, bringing the total number of maps for the mod to over 65! I downloaded the full mod and map packs, which weigh in at a hefty 190M. The download is worth it though. Some of the new maps are amazing. Even the ones that might not be graphically stunning and still fun to play. I like it a lot.

Jailbreak/Prisoners of War is a team play mod. When you frag someone on the other team, they go to jail. When all the members of a team are fragged, they are executed and their opponents get a point. Any free player can release his teammates. Most of the jails also have escape routes if the captured prisoners work together. It's a simple idea, but it's a lot of fun.

Friday, March 22, 2002

Skin the Lizard

OK, that headline sounds just plain wrong. At any rate, I downloaded a new theme/skin for Mozilla called "Pinball." It's small and looks pretty slick. You can find it and a list of other Mozilla skins at XulPlanet. I'm sure that once Mozilla 1.0 is out and the skin format stabilizes, we're going to see a lot more skinning being done.

Stupid Move #8549

Well, it seems there is a good reason why they made my joystick so hard to get apart. I was having some minor problems with it staying centered so I took it apart to clean it out. The problem is, now I can't get it back together. My three less-than-optimal fingers don't help. Of course, I got this joystick way back when I bought the original X-Wing (1993?) so it doesn't really owe me anything. I just have to wonder if it is worth getting a new one since the only game I play with it is X-Wing Alliance.

It Gets Uglier, Folks

Just when you thought the principle behind the Consumer Broadband and Digital Television Promotion Act (CBDTPA) was bad (story), Wired is reporting that the implementation is even worse. Here's some details:
Legal experts said on Friday that the CBDTPA regulates nearly any program, in source or object code, that runs on a PC or anything else with a microprocessor.

That's not just Windows media players and their brethren, as you might expect. The CBDTPA's sweeping definition of "any hardware or software" includes word processors, spreadsheets, operating systems, compilers, programming languages -- all the way down to humble Unix utilities like "cp" and "cat."

"The definition will cover just about anything that runs on your computer -- except maybe the clock," said Tom Bell, a professor at Chapman University School of Law who teaches intellectual property law.

Then Bell paused for a moment and reconsidered. "There's a risk you could say it covers things like even a digital clock program on your computer," he said.
The language is broad enough that it could make it illegal to own a post-CBDTPA copy of Linux in the United States. I wouldn't be awfully surprised to see Microsoft come out against this. Destroying Linux might be a good idea to them, but the CBDTPA would put a serious crimp in their business too. Even though I got this link from Slashdot, I'm becoming more and more convinced that this is not typical /. paranoia.

Valve Announces Steam

Valve Software has announced their Steam content delivery system. ExtremeTech takes a closer look. The idea is that instead of buying a CD of a game in a store, you buy it (or a portion of it) and have it "streamed" over the Internet. I have real concerns about this system both due to the fact that it relies on broadband (a real problem in the U.S.) and because of the potential security problems involved. It seems like a system that offers a lot of benefits to developers, but precious few to end-users.

CDMA Treo in the Works

VisorCentral is reporting that Handspring and Sprint are developing a CDMA version of the Treo communicator. It will be using Sprint's 3G network which is supposed to be rolled out this year. What will 3G do for you? How about always-on 144k access? Sprint will be the exclusive source for the device for a period of time. I hope that will be my next cellphone (in a couple of years, anyway).

Meet the New Bill, Same as the Old Bill

Senator Fritz Hollings (D-SC) has reintroduced the SSSCA now as the Consumer Broadband and Digital Television Promotion Act (CBDTPA). This bill would make copy protection on all consumer electronics mandatory. Here's my favorite quote from the "Senator from Disney":
Hollings said that "any device that can legitimately play, copy or electronically transmit one or more categories of media also can be misused for illegal copyright infringement, unless special protection technologies are incorporated."
So basically if you own a computer, you are a potential thief. Thus the government needs to step in and protect the multi-billion dollar entertainment industry from us unwashed masses. I hope everyone in the South Carolina, Alaska, Hawaii, Louisiana, and California remembers this bill when the sponsor senators come up for re-election.

A news post on Ars Technica shows how Hollings talks out of both sides of his mouth on the issue. I would like someone to explain to me how draconian copy protection will stimulate people to buy HDTV and expand broadband services (Check his press release! It's all in there!) Here's an idea: how about actually going after the criminals instead of making everyone a criminal? Nah, that would make sense.

If you are a resident of Wisconsin (like The Master and I are) click on the following links to contact Senator Russ Feingold and Senator Herb Kohl. If you are from another state, you can find a link to your Senators' information on this page. It is always best to send a snail-mail letter, but time may be of the essence here. Remember, be calm and rational. Sending an email saying, "Vote against the CBDTPA or you suck" will not help anybody.

UPDATE! I just got off the phone with Senator Feingold and Senator Kohl's offices. And yes, I gave them my name (not A.T. Hun, either) and my snail-mail address. I told them that while I am against piracy, I had grave concerns that this bill would eliminate the "fair use" of copyrighted materials and would actually slow the expansion of HDTV and broadband. Put democracy to work!

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