28 November, 2009

Trading on down

What? More books?

Oh yeah, but these are some classics. Not in the true sense of the word of course, I have enough Dickens and Dumas for the moment. But these will do. As you can see from the pic (yes, I know it's not a very good one), I got some Bond, James Bond. While I was at it, I also picked up the last James Clavell book I didn't already have in my collection. I've yet to gain what isn't in this list (Moonraker, Diamonds are forever, and a few others) but these are in okay condition, considering that they're all printed in the 1960s. I note that some of them aren't written by Ian Fleming, but rather by John Gardner. I haven't read any Bond books written by this author yet, so I'd like to know how the debonair spy is handled.

The Clavell is also in reasonable condition—it's also been looked after. They were all a pretty good price too, only $15.00, and that's including the cost of getting them here. Nine books, for that price, less than $1.67 per book. Should keep me happy, once I start (again) the Clavell series from the beginning with Shogun, and go all the way through to the last book, Whirlwind. Only this time, I'll finish each book before I go on to the next one.

Waving goodbye

Google Wave allows embedding of waves now. The only problem being that if a user that comes to the website to view this blogpost isn't logged into Google Wave, then they don't see any content within that box at the bottom of the post. Seems strange, but never mind. I've been having enough fun just trying to get my head around all that Google Wave can potentially be—watch this space for more details. I may even paste the static content from one of my waves here, that way everyone can at least view it, whether they're a 'waver or not. I just won't allow modifications from non-wavers.

And that's a wrap from me.

14 November, 2009

On the other hand...

Books are one of those things I tend to like reading, though these days books have to compete with online attractions like blogs, music, online games and www.youtube.com, as well as other activities such as television, movies and boozing with your mates. Err, I mean drinking.

I've finally received the last book I'd ordered from fishpond.co.nz (Dan Brown's first book, Digital Fortress), and I thought I'd best make some comments. It's the first time I've actually bought second hand books from the Internet, though it's not the first time I've ever bought books second-hand. A good condition second-hand book has the advantage of lasting nearly as long as a new book does, with appropriate care. It can often cost a third of the cost of a new book, and provide just as much enjoyment. I normally buy new where I can, but these three books were too good to pass up. I'm glad I wasn't too disappointed.

For the price, the books pretty much meet the criteria specified on the website, and though they don't exactly meet their online description of condition, they're okay for the price I paid. I get a copy of the text, none of the pages are ripped/falling out/mutilated and the spine isn't "broken", a pet peeve of mine with some readers "splitting" the spine so the book will stay open at the page they want it to. It's a quick read for one of the books; you might think that 510 pages would take a while, but I've finished it in roughly six hours of on-and-off reading.

I suspect that Dan Brown will never become a favourite author, as there are simply too many inaccuracies in his books. I have to deliberately forget about that, and just treat them as stories. As such, Digital Fortress reads okay, but Angels and Demons is far better. I liked that book so much I ended up buying the illustrated version of it and The Da Vinci Code, both well worth the price (new, but discounted) that I paid for both at Paper Plus Books. I just hope that his latest shows the polish that Angels and Demons has, but I suspect not, as he takes pot shots at the Masons. It's also the third book to focus around a central character, Robert Langdon. Anyhow, 'nuff said from me. I think I'll dive into my other book tomorrow.

11 November, 2009

One mouse to rule them all

It's all a matter of style

How do you control multiple computers? Some of us do it with fancy little KVMs. That can work well, though they're not cheap when you start looking at more than two computers. Then there's easy free software that can shift the mouse pointer focus between two computers running XFree86/Xorg. This has the advantage of switching the keyboard focus too, though it doesn't do the monitor switching for you. Oh yes, and there's the two-computer limit, unless you happen to run the software in daisychain mode; start it up on the first computer, point that at the second computer. Start it again on the second computer, pointed at the third computer, etc etc. That tends to get ugly though, and still requires that you have authentication (at least as far as Xorg is concerned) for each client. I decided to combine what a KVM does with what x2x does, though I seem to have slightly mixed results.

On both my computers, I'm lucky enough to have a video card with two outputs, though with the KVM I'm using, I can only switch one monitor. So—I plug a monitor into each computer as the primary output (yes, I have multiple monitors), start up the x2x program on the first computer and point it at the second computer's X server, switch the keyboard focus over to the second computer, and work with the applications over on the second computer with the same keyboard and mouse. Except now I've struck a problem.

The newest version of Xorg in the latest version of Ubuntu (9.10 Karmic Koala) doesn't support the XTest extension that x2x uses to operate with. Because of that, I can't use x2x any more from the Mandriva to the Ubuntu machine. I could probably get it going in the other direction, but once Mandriva removes the XTest extension from the Xorg setup they have, I also lose that advantage. So. What do I do then?

I suspect I'll be left with options such as Synergy. That has the advantage of being somewhat platform-agnostic, where clients work on both Windows and on Xorg. I've never used it, but the people who have told me of it say good things of it. So, let's see what happens.

Tennis, anyone?

On its own, the mouse isn't a very good gaming device, not unless you get one of those fancy multiple-button laser mice that report at twice the normal rate of other mice. That's a bit academic to most of us, however. Put simply, at least for me, joysticks aren't much use either. The trend these days tends to be for gamers to use multiple inputs, often using the mouse to point, then using an ancillary keyboard to call up all the other functions. These extra little keyboards (sometimes users use the ordinary keyboard instead) are USB devices, and wired into the Windows input layer or the Xorg input layer where games can see their key events and act upon them. Think of a key for each specific function, so you're probably dealing with up to thirty extra keys on a keypad on the opposite side of the keyboard from where you have your mouse.

Looking back at input devices, one of the original ideas was a 5-fingered chorded device to provide up to 31 separate events. As I've mentioned before, you often had to be quick on your ... fingers to use one of these well, so it was eventually scrapped and replaced with the mouse that we love (or hate) today. But it seems that we've almost come back to the idea of extra keys, though at least we're not always chording any more.

Quake, anyone?