Public Airwaves for the Public Good

I just learned about a really important issue, and signed a petition about it. The federal government is on the verge of turning over a huge portion of our public airwaves to companies like AT&T, Verizon, and Comcast--who will use them for private enrichment instead of the public good.

These newly available airwaves are a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to revolutionize Internet access -- beaming high-speed signals to every park bench, coffee shop, workplace, and home in America. Phone and cable companies don't want this competition to their Internet service--they'd rather purchase the airwaves at auction and sit on them.

You can sign the petition I signed here - urging the government to make sure the public airwaves are used for the public good:




O, M Fing G. I want one. Yes, I'm a technophile, but few products arouse my tech-interest quite like this one has. It has to be seen to be understood - so just go check it out for yourself. The Optimus Maximus keyboard, by Art. Lebedev.


The Joys of Hibernate

I just spent the last few days troubleshooting a HibernateException with the error message Illegal attempt to associate a collection with two open sessions. After much Googling, I had tried every solution I could find, and none of them worked - so hopefully this solution will make it into the next person's search.

In my case, the issue was that I was taking a persistent object, storing it in the HTTP session, and trying to reconstitute it later. By storing the ID in the browser session and loading by ID each time, the error was eliminated.

I hope this helps someone - if so, or if you're having a similar issue, post in the comments!


The Godfather: Blackhand Edition (Wii)

I got The Godfather: Blackhand Edition for the Wii for my birthday, and I'm totally hooked - and, after borrowing the game for a day, so is my best friend: he ran out and bought his own copy, after holding mine hostage for a few days. It's all the best qualities of Monopoly and Grand Theft Auto, set in the The Godfather, with the Wii controls allowing you to literally beat the pulp out of business owners with a baseball bat while extorting them for cash, and physically tossing people over balconies for bonus points.

Yes, it's that kind of game. Yes, it's not for kids. Yes, it's on the Wii. And yes, it's damned addictive.

The game smoothly mixes a wide array of sandboxing opportunities, including extorting businesses, setting off mob wars, robbing banks, taking on hit contracts, and so on, with a deep plotline that follows the story of the films. You start as a young gangster on hard times, dealing with a bad crowd. Luca Brasi comes to your aid, and initiates you into the Corleone family with a few tutorial missions. Then, it's up to you to take on any of the many "business opportunities" throughout the city, or continue to advance the main plot. The game lets you delay the main plot as long as you want between missions, letting you set the pace the entire time.

The graphics aren't stunning, but they definitely get the job done. It's enough for suspension of disbelief, particularly for fans of the films. Having not seen them for many many years, playing the game now makes me want to watch the movies again - and then play the game again from the beginning.

All in all, I'd give it a solid 8/10, and a definite recommendation to anyone that enjoys a little digital bloodshed in the morning.


Wired vs. Wireless

I was talking to my mom today, and she wanted to set up a wireless network. I advised against it,
and her argument was that wired networks seem archaic.

Now, while I can certainly understand the idea that the same cables we've been using for decades are still just fine today may be hard to swallow, but in reality, wired networking is advancing far faster than wireless.

Wireless networking, over the last decade, has gone from 11mbit (802.11b) to 54mbit (802.11g) to "up to 700mbit" (802.11n; effectively 100 - 200 mbit). This bandwidth is per airspace - multiple clients on a network, and multiple networks in the same airspace, must share the available bandwidth.

Meanwhile, wired networks have gone from 10 to 100 mbit, then to 1 gbit and now 10 gbit, all on copper cable. And each client on a wired network gets a dedicated, full-bandwidth pipe all to its own.

So, while the cables may not have changed much (cat 6 is hard to tell from cat 5 to the average person), wired networks are advancing far beyond wireless, and all the while, they provide greater reliability, security, ease of use, and power efficiency.

All in all, I'll keep my wired network.


Mario Kart DS

Now that I've had a few hours with Mario Kart DS, I must say, it's a really good game. Even my girlfriend, not much of a gamer, thinks so. I'd say it's console-quality, and definitely a solid update to a time-tested franchise.

MK DS includes 16 new tracks, and a selection of 16 tracks sampled from past MK games. Each racer (the usual 8: Mario, Luigi, Peach, Toad, Yoshi, Bowser, Wario, and DK) has two cars to choose from, with differing stats.

Online play is smooth and easy to manage, and it allows random matchups via WFC without swapping friend codes. On a related side note, the DS apparently doesn't speak WPA2-PSK, which makes me very sad, since I'm never using WEP, and I'm certainly not going unencrypted just for WFC. I may have to invest in one of the Ninty USB WFC gadgets.


Nintendo DS

I just picked up a DS, and I must say, it's a very nice little machine. Ultra-portable, long battery life, built-in touch screen, microphone, and wireless, and a solid lineup of titles including a long history of GameBoy Advance titles which are still compatible with the machine. (Titles for older Game Boy models, such as original GB and GBC carts, will not work with the DS - only GBA titles.) This is particularly nice as I already have a small collection of games for my aging GBA SP, some of which I've now picked up and started playing again.

I've had it about 48 hours, and so far, I'm extremely happy with it. Final Fantasy III for the DS is a great game in the classic Final Fantasy tradition. Mario Kart DS is a solid title in the Mario Kart line, and blows away any portable Mario Kart title to date - honestly, you'll be amazed at the quality of the graphics and gameplay packed into a handheld game.

Elite Beat Agents is a good game for fans of rhythm games (which I am, even though I tend to be terrible at them). It uses the touch screen to great effect and provides a good challenge throughout, with as much replay value as can be packed into the relatively few songs included with the game.

I have yet to play multiplayer (DS-to-DS or via Nintendo WiFi Connection), but if you'd like to help me give it a shot, post your friend codes in comments.

My Mario Kart DS FC: 274976-668344
Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin FC: 090293-173479