Saturday, January 26, 2008

Orange Guard (Part 2)

It's been raining a lot lately, so pests have been moving indoors to escape the bad weather outside. Today ants decided to pay our apartment a visit, so I took the chance to try Orange Guard.

It seemed to work just fine at killing the ants and the area I had sprayed did indeed smell nice and orangey. Ants did indeed seem to avoid the sprayed area afterwards because they completely stopped coming out. We shall see how long the deterrent effect works. So far, it's much more pleasant to use than the foul smelling other insecticides. It's also a lot nicer knowing that my roommate's cat won't get poisoned by it.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

935 False Statements....

This recent study counted 935 false statements by the Bush administration to systematically brainwash people into the right mindset to support invading Iraq. Yet, to this day, there are people who still support Bush and the war.

Game Review Sites

Sam Kennedy made an excellent post at on the GameSpot incident where they fired an editor after he gave a bad review to a game that was paying a lot of money to GameSpot. He provides a lot of good background information and discusses the ramifications of the whole incident.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Arguments: "You Must Not Understand What I'm Saying"

I hate how often people argue about things with me and then they say that I must not understand what they're saying. That's a totally illogical conclusion to assume that just because someone disagrees with you, they must not understand you. That's simply based on the egotistical assumption that there is only one possible conclusion given the facts and that conclusion is yours. This has become a pet peeve of mine because so many people use it.

Think about the situation logically and you will see: There are several possible conclusions that can be drawn besides the possibility of the other person simply not understanding you.

1. The other person sees your reasoning but you don't see his.
2. Both people see both sides but simply come to a different conclusion due to personal values or whatever.
3. Neither person sees the other side's reasoning.

On top of this, even if you truly believe that the other person is simply not seeing your reasoning, it is terrible form to accuse them of it. It is insulting, since it implies they are dumber than you are. It points the finger of blame at them for having an argument at all. It is a step along the path toward the argument becoming unresolvable since you've now turned it personal instead of it remaining a debate of ideas.

So basically, never, ever accuse the other person of failing to see your reasoning. It accomplishes nothing. Instead, focus on what you can control, which is presenting your own reasoning more clearly and attempting to understand what is preventing the other person from understanding you and making sure you are understanding the other person.

Eventually, the only unresolvable argument is the second situation, in which case, you and the other person simply must coexist with differing opinions.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Improving Your World Of Warcraft Ping

I'm fairly cautious about putting in system tweaks to improve game performance, but I actually do support this one particular change to improve your latency in World of Warcraft. I did a bunch of research into it and in my experience, the benefits far outweigh the costs.

Background information:

Our tale of this tweak begins way back in the days of telnet and dial-up modems. Applications like telnet tend to send a lot of really small bits of data, like when you press a key, it sends a packet of data containing what key it was that you pressed and then waits for an acknowledgment to make sure it went through. In a packet of data like this (either a single keystroke or an acknowledgment), the packet header and stuff is bigger than the meaningful data, so it's pretty wasteful to send out these packets like this. Along came a dude named Nagle, who came up with a clever optimization. He realized that you could combine multiple packets to reduce the wasted overhead by delaying just a little bit before sending a packet. In fact, you could even wait to acknowledge more than one packet at a time. This small delay (maybe 0.2 sec or so) was not particularly noticeable on a horrible dial-up connection with pretty bad latency to begin with and the bandwidth savings were much more important. Nagle's optimization became part of the standard TCP/IP implementation.

Fast forward to today. Windows at it's heart still tries to support the lowest end users so it still enables "Nagling" in TCP/IP connections by default. However, if you're someone who plays games online with a broadband connection, times have changed a lot. We have much higher expectations about reponsiveness in games and games rarely send enough data to saturate a broadband connection. World of Warcraft is no exception. It's now far more important to have a more responsive connection to World of Warcraft than it is to save a few bytes per data packet that we send out.

Applications in Windows are permitted to disable Nagling to improve responsiveness under TCP/IP. In the most recent World of Warcraft patch, Blizzard attempted to do so but failed. Therefore word has been spreading about how to disable Nagling yourself to improve your latency. The best article I've seen is this one:

Which explains how to disable Nagling under Windows XP as well as Windows 2000. I had seen another article explaining how to do it under Windows XP but it didn't fully disable Nagling on my Windows 2000 machine. After adding these registry changes, my latency at peak hours dropped from about 250 ms to 60 ms. This is like a night and day difference when it comes to precision necessary to do well in World of Warcraft Arena. Last night, I felt like I was playing a totally different game. I never really realized how used to having high latency I was.

Note that I would have probably adopted this change earlier if i had thought about or paid close attention to my ping before these last few days. I always trusted developers to make better choices about optimizing for game responsiveness these days. I know from past experiences that other games like first person shooters often don't bother with TCP/IP and use UDP for more responsiveness because the reliability of TCP/IP is not as important in an FPS. Out of date information is as good as no information in an FPS.

In any case I do fully recommend adopting this change until Blizzard fixes their attempt to disable Nagling. If you've never played the game with under 100 ms latency, you'll feel an incredible difference. Also, I even tried downloading some large files to test how badly it hurt my overall data throughput and I couldn't even tell a difference.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

The Anniversary Of My Sister's Death

As of today, it's been 8 years since my sister died. It's strange how time has passed since then. I feel like it's been slipping by and I've never really recovered my balance fully. I feel like my life has not gone the direction it would have if things had been different.

I know now just how unfair life can be. I know now just how meaningless everything is. I'm a much more bitter person than I probably would have been.

At the same time, I learned about how much I had taken my sister for granted and realized just how much I should appreciate her role in my life. I would not trade the time I had with her simply to avoid the pain of the loss. I will treasure my memories of her.

Sarah McLachlan's "I Will Remember You" is something much like what I'd imagine my sister would be telling me:

I will remember you.
Will you remember me?
Don't let your life pass you by,
Weep not for the memories.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Hmmm, He Has A Follow Up Video

I'm glad a lot of people pointed out that weakness in his argument. He made a second video where he acknowledges this weakness and then basically falls back into the standard arguments for taking action against global warming. Oh well, it was a good try!

Good Try To Argue For Global Warming Prevention...

... but fundamentally weak.

I've received the link to this guy's video a few times where he presents a simple way to justify taking action against global warming as the more conservative option to avoid global catastrophe. I believe that we as a race need to take action to prevent global warming, but I believe his argument is exceedingly weak. The way his argument works is what I would consider "gullibility thinking."

Long ago, Pascal made roughly the same argument to justify the belief in God. He argued using a similar table of possibilities and actions.

BelieveDon't Believe
God ExistsAll good, go to Heaven.Burn in Hell for eternity.
God Doesn't ExistWasted timeGet to laugh at believers

So you can see, since we can only choose which column we end up in, the more conservative bet is to avoid eternal damnation because the penalty for that is far worse than wasted time.

In fact, you can use this same argument to justify action in practically anything with a scary consequence of inaction. Check this one out....

Look Over Your ShoulderDon't Look
Axe murderer behind youIf you see him you can defend yourself!Get hacked to pieces.
I'm just kiddingWasted timeGet to laugh at my feeble attempt to make a point.

So you can see in this table, the safe action for you to take is to look over your shoulder right now because the penalty for being wrong is that you get hacked to pieces.

I mean, I give this guy a lot of credit for putting together an easy to understand and fairly convincing video for a good cause, but it's definitely not some unassailable argument.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Picture Of Kitty On My Lap

My roommate's kitty was on my lap again today so I grabbed my camera and took a picture. She took the flash remarkably well without freaking out and clawing my legs. It was a risk I was willing to take, though. There's just something so nice about having a kitty on one's lap.

When we first adopted her, she was so scared that she spent the first couple of weeks under my roommate's bed. Then she would occasionally venture out and spend the majority of her time down there. I remember the day that she finally let me start petting her at all. I thought that was the coolest thing. Now she's obviously quite comfortable with us and has declared ownership over the full apartment, including our laps. She's still easily startled and very shy around anybody she doesn't know, but I'm glad she's much more normal of a cat now.

(And yes, I know, the corner by my desk is messy. I've straightened it up a bit now!)

Monday, January 7, 2008

Sexism And Hillary Clinton

Are people in this country really so backward that they would go to a Hillary Clinton speech with a sign saying "Iron My Shirt" and heckle her for being a woman? The answer, sadly, is yes. Americans disappoint me from time to time and this is yet another situation. First of all, if you don't support her, don't vote for her. That's how your opinion will be heard. Heckling her is immature and honestly, it makes me sympathize with her more. If America is really that backward of a country, then perhaps there is even more need for us to have a woman as our president.

It's idiots like these that make me think the world is doomed. I bet this dude doesn't believe in global warming either.

Friday, January 4, 2008

My Roommate's Cat!

I finally got a newer digital camera this year for Christmas. Naturally, I wanted to try out the video feature, so I pointed it at my roommate's cat. She was a bit confused about what the thing pointed at her was. Also she's kind of sick, so her meow sounds a bit off. =(

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Job Hunting

The time of me slacking is gradually coming to an end. I've started talking to a company about a potential job there. I'm still not sure I want to be in the game industry, but I may as well start seriously checking out my options.