Archive for January, 2010

This is a quick blurb because it’s a simple fix, if you’ve downloaded (or bought) Borderlands, and when you double click the icon, it starts up, and you can only hear the audio, it’s because it’s starting in a resolution that your display didn’t recognize. No it’s not your display that’s the issue, it’s all the other janky people that have shitty monitors/lcd’s that the game developers try to accommodate.

To correct this and play your game just fine, right click on the icon (the desktop shortcut to play the game) and simply edit your resolution with the resx resy command, mine looks like this:

C:\Program Files\2K Games\Gearbox Software\Borderlands\Binaries\Borderlands.exe” -ResX=2560 -ResY=1600

Hit apply and voila it’s working now.

Now don’t forget to go and download the addon packs 😉

Like many users these days, if your reading this, you most likely have a Mac & Windows Network. A lot of not-so-saavy computer users, actually have a Mac and a PC, but may not have ever created a home network (although this also applies to workplace networks). Using the server message block command (SMB) you can easily connect to the IP of any PC on the network. Its simple, when your on your Mac, select GO > CONNECT TO SERVER and type in: smb://192.168.1.xxx (xxx is replaced obviously by the last digits of the IP of the PC you want to connect to). You will log on with your typical credentials and voila your sharing. This is regardless of any PC OS, and current up to Snow Leopard on the Mac OS.

This blurb isn’t covering the “how to” of the networking, but rather some issues that I have come across, that I haven’t heard anyone mention.

I do a LOT of file transfers from Mac to PC, soley because I download torrents on my Mac and send them over to my media center. One thing I have noticed is that the PC has a hard time waking the hard drives if they fell asleep, both in the Media Center PC, and the 5tb NAS attached. This will give you a error message along the lines of “the connection at 192.168.1.xxx is not available or cannot be located check blah blah blah” on your mac. Restarting the PC, and initiating the login procedure over again, typically fixes this problem.

Another random error, is that I can typically transfer any amount of files regardless of size to the Media Center, as long as I do the files, ONE by ONE. If I were to select all 115gb of files and transfer them at once, the PC after about 10 minutes, disappears off the network and isnt discoverable until I restart it or change the IP on it (I have a static IP network). This is a major pain in the ass, and its been this way, all the way back to my G4 Mac.

I’ve found the best way to avoid the networking problems, so far, has been to (as said above) set static IP’s for each computer on the entire network. PC & Mac. I have 7 computers (and one NAS) on the network. So my IP’s look like 192.168.1.100 – 192.168.1.107 , the NAS located at 192.168.1.111 and printer set to 192.168.2.155 (it’s default). This avoids conflicts on the network and makes it a little less of a headache (also avoids duplicate IPs).

Using a external HDD is what’s usually suggested by newbies. There is one big problem there, PC & Mac do not share an identical file system. (Modern) PC’s use NTFS file system, while Macs don’t, Mac’s can read the old Fat32, which all flavors of Windows can read, but file transfers are limited to 4gb which pretty much eliminates any movie torrents, and if your still downloading 700mb movies, well you must have a shitty tv, or a slow internet connection.

Turn off HDD sleep, and turn off hibernation mode on your PC’s, Mac’s either don’t register the PC always, or the PC’s have a hard time waking up out of hibernation, one or the other, it is a 50/50 chance. I notice this greatly on my NAS more than the Media Center alone

As we move forward with Mac edging more of a dominance in the market, eventually we will see a better migration of the file systems and more friendly networking, for now, it’s still a wee bit sloppy for the non techies, and not 100% reliable.

When all else fails with Mac and PC networking, restart all the computers and try again, I know it blows, but it works…

If you don’t know what Thunderbird is, your probably not a techie…bu that’s ok. It took about 2 years before everyone caught on to Firefox, I remember people complaining about how Firefox wouldn’t display certain (outdated) websites properly years ago, and it’s the same people that praise it now. Thunderbird is another Mozilla Foundation open source (free) app, it is an email client, much like, but much better, than Outlook.

There is a slew of features that make it such a great app:

* Just like  Firefox, your email client, has tabbed browsing, open up 10 emails at once and just browse through your tabs

*Advanced Search features, the GREATEST, is when I’m searching for content within an email, and have about 40k emails to look through, Thunderbird 3.0 does an excellent jobs of finding the correct results in lighting speed.

*Add-ons! Yup just like Firefox, you can install add-ons like Lightning, the calendar add-on for Thunderbird, you can even skin Thunderbird to look exactly like Outlook…if you like outlook.

*Mass preview – Highlight all your emails, and instantly, it will preview the first few sentences of each email, almost like a RSS feed!

*Specify Outgoing SMTP servers, this is BIG. I have 18 email addresses, and in outlook and the old Thunderbird, you could only actively use ONE smtp outgoing server for all your outgoing email, this would cause collisions with some IMAP email addresses, like Gmail…say goodbye to that, just select the email account, and change the outgoing server, per email addy!

* Easier to setup! Though I favor manual setting up, the new Thunderbird has a nice GUI and easy to use setup interface.

*Signature image, It’s been ages since I’ve used Entourage or Outlook, but I remember you would not be able to select and image (jpeg, png, gif) as your signature, Thunderbird is capable of it, actually, it has been from the start.

*Send actually means SEND. Do I need to explain this one?

*It just works. Thunderbird works, and its fast, and ultra lightweight (doesn’t take up a huge amount of hdd space, or system resources)

*Mac, PC, Linux…whatever you use

Try it out, it’s worth it and it’s FREE

I normally don’t blog or chat about personal occurrences, or my daily life, this isn’t one of those blogs at all. For my usual visitors this may seem completely out of the norm, but every once and a while I stray off the normality of digital talk, underground hacking, business developments and this is one of those moments. It is a story, a very true one, it’s not short and it may seem as if I don’t have a point, but I give you my word that plays a great part to the big picture of why I wrote this. If your still interested, then please read on, if your just here to find out how to hack the AMS sensors on a MBP, or for a guide on investing in Web 2.0 with sweat equity, then see my archives.

It wasn’t until today, 7 days after it happened, that as I was told about Mr. Zarate’s (Joe Zarate) death. I was shocked, caught off guard a little. I didn’t break down and cry, nothing like that, it just wasn’t something that you hear… “Mr. Zarate committed suicide, did you hear?” When I was told, it was nonchalant, a topic being brought up in random blurbs, almost like a verbal tweet, gee the irony of that. The unique aspect of it, was that Mr. Zarate played a important role in my life. Not some cliche “he was a great teacher” rhetoric of bullshit that some empathetic teenager spews because it seems like the cinematic thing to do, but because there was a much grander story behind it all.

I wasn’t always a rich successful man, I wasn’t born into money, hell I didn’t even have parents. 14-15 years ago, I was homeless. Eating leftover pizza crusts out of trash cans after “Market Night” in old town Redlands. Sleeping under park benches, and riding around on public transportation to stay out of the rain. I had been in and out of juvenile detention centers, I was dirty, poor, had a couple shirts, you know the 3 for $5 kind, that say crap like “I heart California”, but I promise you, it was a known fact that California definitely did NOT love me back. I also had 3 pairs of pants. Out of those three pairs, one was white, but had become so dirty, it was the color of grime with a slight tint of yellow, if that’s possible, and the other was purple…yes purple fucking jeans. I would attempt to go to school because back then we had free meal assistance if you “qualified” which meant, that you didn’t qualify for anything else in school, like having a girlfriend, having notes passed to you in class, hell most people didn’t even remember me, I didn’t exist.

Eventually, I reunited with my mother, who had a new 5th or 6th “serious boyfriend” and moved to Rancho Cucamonga, and I went from homeless to having a home, with an actual bed. I went to Alta Loma High school, or at least, I was a registered student there.  I had a piss poor attendance record, I was almost two years behind in high school as a sophmore, and I had the worst “just leave me the fuck alone” attitude. I wasn’t “mad at the world“, and it wasn’t a show, it was who I had become, a young teen that learned that I could only count on myself.

Every morning I would go to the grocery store right next to the high school, and steal a bottle of Bacardi 151, and a small bottle of Sunny Delight, and behind the school I would mix my concoction and by third period I would be drunk as Kanye West when he doesn’t win an award. This was a daily routine. I wore baggy pants, and looked dirty and unkept, and though I could go back to a home at the end of the day, I chose to run around in the streets and sleep at friends or crawl in through my bedroom window on some nights.

I remember Mr. Zarate’s very first day teaching. I remember he still had this cop swagger about him, and with all my run ins with the law and time in juvenile halls, I instantly had something against him. On his very first day, him and I had a confrontation. He was talking to the class about how he loved being a cop, how it was about brotherhood and honor. Someone in class asked if he knew any police officers that had gotten shot at or killed, and Mr. Zarate’s eyes welled up and he said he did in fact “lose someone close to him on the force“. I made a comment along the lines of, “well that’s good, all pigs deserve to die“. This caused a huge change in his demeanor and his eyebrows came together and his eyes became angry and he walked over to me and grabbed me by the arm and pulled me into the hall.

He made some comments in a strict tone about how he didn’t want to ever hear something like that again, and how he thought teens like me were just punks and went off barking and I tuned out. He told me to head to the principals office, but I detoured and went to safety of a bathroom stall and did a bump of speed and drank my “Sunny D” concoction. That was my first encounter with Mr. Zarate.

School obviously continued, so did my attitude and my spotty attendance. After that first encounter, I decided I would just sleep or daydream away in his class, after all, all the other teachers just left me alone. I was the teen they looked at and thought “that kid’s going straight to the trailer park or jail”, my peers looked at me and thought, “yearbooks winner for Most Likely to Fail in Life”.

One day sitting in class, I heard an announcement over the loudspeaker, that if you took this ASVAB test for the military, you not only got to miss periods 1-3, but you got free lunch as well. For a scroungy kid like me, this was a lucrative opportunity. I took the test, and actually tried my best to see if I “had what it took“. I didn’t think anything of the test until a couple weeks later this Army recruiter came to pull me out of class to talk to me. As soon as he pulled me out into the hallway, I exchanged my thoughts about the military and my dis-interest, and took the out of class opportunity to leave campus and go to the grocery store and steal some more Bacardi 151.

As it neared time for my class to graduate from High school, I found myself behind by almost a year, I had tried to catch up as much as possible, but it really wasnt enough, I had missed way to much of my senior year, and graduating didn’t look like a possibility, in reality, it wasn’t at all. I decided to celebrate my failure by doing the norm, and as I was about to steal a bottle of Bacardi 151, up strolls the Army recruiter. He said, “What the hell are you doing boy?”, and I replied, “I know you have glasses, but are you fucking blind? I’m stealing breakfast and your messing it up“. Just like Mr. Zarate he grabbed my arm and took me outside. He asked me if I ever had a steak and lobster dinner before, and I asked him if he was gay, and that I wasn’t into men. With his shocked look, I recanted my sarcasm, I said “no”, and it was the truth.

He took me to Sizzlers, I know…. laugh it up. Nowadays, Mastros in Beverly hills, and Mortons, put it to shame, but back then, to a teen who had never had it before, it was absolute slice of heaven. He didn’t push the whole Army thing, he simply asked me questions and talked to me,  and listened. He told me how all my teachers knew I wasn’t going to graduate, about how they just wanted me out of Alta Loma High school, that they all knew I did drugs and slept off my drunk stupor in their classes. When we parted that day the only thing that stuck in my mind was the overwhelming thought that I in fact did not have any discipline.

I decided to join the Army, and with my recruiters help, he talked to each teacher, and somehow he convinced them to all pass me with the lowest grade that they could give me out of charity. I would have never graduated high school without the gratuity. On my last day in class with Mr. Zarate, he pulled me to the side again and told me that I “really surprised him with my decision to join the military” , and that “he wished the best for me”. He also told me that since I had “never did any of his homework, or filled out not one single in class assignment”, that he passed me because “he knew I needed this opportunity and he believed in me“.

I went to the Army and had a very intense, educational, and unique military training.

I ended up getting a Bachelors Degree in Business Management, and a few years back a Masters in Computer Science from USC. In 2003 I successfully sold my computer consulting firm.

About a year ago, as I went to pick up tile to redo my kitchen floor and I ran into Mr. Zarate at Home Depot. I had completely changed. I was a completely different man. Clean cut, well dressed and groomed, and now…with my own government swagger. He didn’t even recognize me when I said his name and he looked up. Then the serious face turned into a huge smile and as I shook his hand his grip grew firm and we both smiled. We talked in that Home Depot for over an hour about what I had done in the last years of my military and now civilian life, and he asked me question after question. He told me that he remembered that day I made that horrible comment, and how he “ was so proud that I decided to join the military“, and that looking at me standing in front of him a changed man, years later, that he felt he made “one of the best decisions that had a huge effect, by passing me“. He repeated “wow man, it’s amazing to see the change, I can’t believe this is that same kid, that barely showed up to class“. We talked for a while longer and we exchanged contact information, although, neither of us ever used it.

So when I heard those words, “Mr. Zarate committed suicide, did you hear?, this whole story flashed into my mind. I wrote a book that I completed about a little over a year ago titled, “A Breath from a Closet” (which I still have yet to publish), and everything minus the Home Depot encounter, is in that book. It’s in the book because it played a integral part of my life into shaping me into who I became, who I am today. At a time when my peers and even the teachers snickered and talk down on me, when I didn’t even believe in myself, Joe Zarate believed in me. Even if I glorify the emphasis on when he told me he believed in me, I interpreted it as being sincere.

So I did what anyone else did these days, I googled his name to get more information, the first thing I came across was not the Daily Bulletin, which is listed HERE, but a forum called “Topix”, where at the time, all 15 comments were nothing but trash talking about Mr. Zarate’s personal conduct in his “out of school” life.  As Tiger Woods could tell you, it takes 20 years to build a reputation, and 5 minutes to destroy it. Bad press, and shit talking are the main contributors here, and it’s sad, it’s low and pathetic. I hope that anyone that writes those comments at a time when others are mourning, never make a mistake in their lives, so that they might not be ostracized when they die. I could care less about any mistakes he may or may not have made in his personal life. Something I learned in the Army is that a lot of people with no life experience, generate the most driven opinions.

I remembered Mr. Zarate as man with principles, who went out of his way to help someone who nobody believed in, and for me…it paid off…bigtime.

-David