Geekery

This category includes posts about geeky stuff like video games, computers, hardware hacks, etc.

Free Software Highlight: GnuCash

Posted March 30, 2011 @ 11:19 am | Filed under: Geekery

Not everyone likes doing double-entry accounting… including me. But I do it anyway, because after squeaking by my accounting classes in college, I now know that there’s no better way to get a handle on your finances. I’m pretty sure if I wasn’t keeping track of every dollar I spend, I’d have a much tougher time deciding whether or not I can afford purchases.

Given my penchant for software freedom, I was happy to find a few years ago there are some free/open-source double-entry accounting options… I went with one called GnuCash, which aims to be a Quickbooks replacement (though I actually prefer it to Quickbooks now that I’m used to it, because it’s more straightforward for my use-case, personal finances).

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Quick and dirty guide to (slightly) better Internet security

Posted December 14, 2010 @ 10:21 am | Filed under: Geekery

After offering some advice to friends about security pitfalls of Internet browsing, I decided to write up a list of steps to take to make being on the Internet a little bit safer and more private:

  1. Use Firefox for your web browsing. Other open-source browsers (Chrome, Opera, Safari to a limited extent) are okay too, but Firefox has the added benefit of being extendable with add-ons developed by savvy privacy-conscious users. I’m sure the other browsers are quickly catching up in this area though. Definitely stay away from Internet Explorer (the default browser on all Windows machines); While IE8 is much better in terms of security and privacy compared to previous versions, it still lags behind open-source offerings.

    Once you’ve started up Firefox, go to Tools > Add-ons and search for & install the add-ons described in the next steps.

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COMPUTE!

Posted July 16, 2010 @ 12:27 pm | Filed under: Geekery

When I was in 3rd grade or so, my parents let me use the family computer: a Commodore 64. This little brown box was probably the coolest thing I ever received (though I wouldn’t say it was mine until everyone else in the family got bored with it).

Anyway, more on that background story later (probably)… for now, I want to briefly geek out over an old magazine that my neighbor introduced me to: COMPUTE! Magazine. He subscribed to the magazine at the time, and he would make copies of all the Commodore 64 programs for me to type in. This is basically how I started learning how to program. This was 20 years ago.

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Crawling in the Dungeon

Posted June 25, 2010 @ 11:03 am | Filed under: Geekery

[Note: this was edited from an e-mail I sent to my brother-in-law, which I thought deserved some space on the blog since I haven’t talked about games much on here yet.]

I’ve been poking around on the internet for the last couple days, looking into a genre of game called Roguelike, a.k.a. dungeon crawlers.  These games seem to be sort of the precursor to modern RPGs and are largely inspired by Dungeons & Dragons (a role-playing board game).  They have a few defining characteristics:  Randomly created dungeons for maximum replayability value, permanent death (i.e., you can save your game as often as you want but once your character is dead, that’s it), and turn-based play.  I’m not really qualified to do a full-on review of them because I’m just messing around (and I’m not very experienced in terms of RPGs), but I thought I’d throw out some links if anyone wanted to try any of them out. We’re talking super old-school here… the simpler ones (graphically) require some imagination but seem like they could be pretty cool once you’re used to them– and the purists say the DOS-style graphics are the only way to go.  Most of them are keyboard-controlled so if there’s a built-in tutorial or instructions I recommend going through them to learn the shortcuts.

First, some links for general info and history:

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Canadian Electro-Acoustics Journal focuses on Linux Audio.

Posted October 14, 2009 @ 7:49 pm | Filed under: Geekery

Check out these cool Linux audio articles. I especially enjoyed the in-depth look at Ambisonics in Ardour. Maybe we should start mixing all our recordings in 16-channel surround?

-s