Friday, November 27, 2009

Friday at the International Convention

Its been a hectic three days….  Walking our feet off, meeting people from all over the world, standing in line for buses,  standing in line for buses………

 

There are simply too many pics of people we met to put up here.  The best of them will be on Flickr in a week or so…  In the mean time, look at this picture of our hotel.   notice a speck on a balcony a few floors from the top?  That is Manami standing on our balcony!

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Thursday, November 26, 2009

The first full day in Hawaii

   It has been a long day……   But a good one.

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This is the View from our window at sunrise.   That is Diamond Head Crater, the short side of it anyway.

    We met some friends down at the breakfast on the third floor.  And then we went walking.   And walking.   And walking…..

 

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First we went to Waikiki Beach, about 5 minutes from our hotel.  No time for swimming today, so we just walked in the sand, and looked at all the weird people.  There is an interesting breakwater protecting the beach, while still allowing fish and surfers to get in and out.    Near the other end of Waikiki Beach, is the “International Marketplace”.   This is a great big tourist trap, and we got suckered into buying some nifty junk for our poor unfortunate family and friends..      Then back to the hotel to drop off junk, and we saw this……..

This  Rainbow image is unedited, straight out of Manami’s Camera!!!!P1000349

Then off to lunch, at a Japanese place where they serve raw meat, and each table has a small gas grill built into it on which you cook your dinner.  Its kind of expensive, but SOOOOOOO worth it.

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And, Manami got me my favorite Melon Soda Float!!!!!    yiiipeeee!!

 

Thats all for today, We are so tired it’s not funny.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Hawaii Arrival

Now on the ground in Honolulu!  We were met by a noisy bunch, and herded to the hotel.  I think this is the nicest place I have ever stayed.  Mariott - Waikiki Beach.  We are on the 29th floor, with a view of the mountains and the coast.  I hope to get some good pics from up here……

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International Convention: Day 0.5

P1000282 P1000289 P1000288 P1000283 P1000290 P1000284 P1000287 P1000291 We have arrived at DFW airport.  20 brothers / sisters here and more coming in every little while.  It sounds kinda like a chicken house in here, there is so much chattering .

So far, we have people from New York, South Carolina, Oklahoma, Ohio, Conneticut, and MIssouri. 

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Randomly Good Picture

Sorting through pictures today, and found this one.  I had forgotten about this picture, so here it is.

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Lady in Red……

Friday, November 6, 2009

Logitech Driving Force GT

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Today I got a new steering wheel for my computer!  Logitech Driving Force GT.  This is actually an accessory for the Playstation 3 console.  But Logitech, as usual provides excellent driver support for Windows support as well.   It is USB 2.0, with an additional power supply connected to the main unit to drive the force feedback motor.

     Some improvements in this model from the one I had years ago:  The connector for the pedals part of the rig is a small D-sub plug that looks like a VGA connector.  This is much sturdier than the RJ-11 plug that older models had.  The clamping system is also much improved.  The older wheel had to have a couple holes driving force-2drilled through the main body, and screws run into the tabletop to hold it firmly in place.  No such problems here, I added a piece of non-skid rubber under the main body and it clamped very nicely to that piece of 1/2” plywood.  I added zip ties around the body and through the plywood just for good measure.driving force-3

       I then drilled two 1/2” holes in the plywood, and two 1/4” pilot holes in  my desktop.  And attached the panel with 1/2” lag screws.   Putting it slightly back on the desktop lets the lower part of the clamp to sit on the desk instead of hanging off the front as it was designed.  The result is that the wheel is slightly tipped up toward me.  That’s good, as I always have the tilt steering in my car as far up as possible.  And its a solid mount, this thing does not move!  I can get rough with it as much as I want, with no worries about it sliding off the desk.  A few turns of a wrench and I can set it on a shelf to the side.  As far as game compatibility goes, I really don't expect any trouble.  I only have “Need for Speed: Shift” installed right now, and it worked on that by simply selecting “driving force gt: separate pedals” from the game menu.

       In “Shift”, their are customizable options for steering response, and throttle response, and how much force feedback you get from the wheel.  I still have to play around with those settings and be sure I got them as best I can.   And I have to learn how to race all over again!

     The only problem remaining is to find a way to secure the pedals so they aren't sliding around on me.  Maybe I will build a wedge shaped box down there that can do double service as a footrest and a pedal-stand.driving force-4

Many other people have posted blogs about building car seats into desk chairs.  Some for racing games, others simply because a car seat is designed for sitting for a while with minimum fatigue and discomfort.  That may be my next project!  This cheezy thing I am sitting on now causes fatigue just looking at it, and if I sit here too long, my legs go to sleep.  Then again, perhaps that is motivation to get out from behind this monitor and do something for real………

Sunday, November 1, 2009

The Gathering Storm

 

Once again, it’s book review time.   And again, its a continuation of a series  from an author who has died.

James Oliver Rigney Jr. (oct 1948 – Sep 2007) wrote under the pen name of Robert Jordan for a good deal of his writing career.   He was an engineering student, and a naval officer in his earlier life, but most of us only knew him through the characters on the page. A great many pages!  I never met him myself, but I, like many others feel that I know something of who he is because of his stories.  To learn about the Man, type his name into Google, or Wikipedia, and you will get a sea of information and tributes.  Mostly you will see the hordes of loyal fans of his “Wheel of Time” series.  As epic fantasy goes, it is the best.  People tend to compare any fantasy type story to Tolkien, as did I.  This is an error.  Tolkien established the genre of fantasy, and even made it sort of respectable.  Jordan took it to another level entirely.  Attention to detail.  Deep characterization.  Introducing us to characters that were real people,  complete with quirks, imperfections, and all the varied facets of real life.  This is where Jordan surpasses Tolkien, in the characters.  Of all the characters in Tolkien, only Frodo Baggins seems to me to be painted as clearly, and as completely, as the whole horde marching through Jordan’s world.     Every Wheel of Time fan you ask will have a favorite character, (mine is Mat Cuathon) and also a most hated character (Perrin Aybara).  And if you ask us why, each of us will launch into a detailed and possibly high volume rant about these people, just as if they were our neighbors.  When I stopped to think about this, I realized that this is how I will always define the quality of a novel.  Love them, or hate them, are the characters my neighbors?  Robert Jordan took us to visit those neighbors 11 times.  We know them well…..

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           Until late 2007, I had never head of Brandon Sanderson.  Neither, I think, had any of Robert Jordan’s family or assistants.  Brandon wrote a nice eulogy for Jordan, and when the widow read it, she wanted to speak with the writer.  Make a long story short(er), Brandon Sanderson was entrusted with the task of finishing the story, taking us on our last visit to this place.  One book turned into three books, and finally we got the first one!  Or, the 12th one!  Or, the first part of the last one!  Whatever!

     Simply put, its GOOD.

    I was not able to tell for sure what parts were written by Brandon, and what parts were written by Jordan.  We know from statements that Brandon made that Jordan had successfully written whole passages, and that he had a massive amount of notes and back story to work with.  Brandon’s job was to fill in the gaps and make those notes a complete story.   In one place I was stuck with the thought “Brandon must have written this bit”.  When Aviendha, thinking of the spears (and the warrior lifestyle she has left behind), thinks of her “self forged into those spear heads as surely as the carbon that strengthened them”.  Not to say that Jordan lacked the knowledge of Chemistry or Metallurgy to understand carbon steel forging.   But, the phraseology seemed to have a different feel to it.

   As you might expect from the final parts of a story, there is more action in this novel.  Storylines wrapping up.  Questions answered.  (No, we don’t know who killed Asmodean, and Bela may actually be a darkfriend)     Rand hits a new low in his internal struggles, but it seems that he has hit bottom and things are looking up.  The White Tower is no longer divided.   And, Gawyn Trakand is a simpering idiot, who finally makes up his mind.

    I don’t know how long the wait will be until we get “The Towers of Midnight”, but it is too long! 

   One thing I would like to say to Brandon, and to Harriet……..    I think Jim would be proud.   Good Job.