Friday, June 29, 2007

Me and My Solar System

Reading that Jupiter is changing its stripes got me to thinking about how much I love astronomy but how little I know about it. I remember there is some sort of mnemonic (yes I had to look that up) that helps you remember them but I don't remember any of them.

Let me see how many I can name:

Earth - Is that cheating?
Mars - Martians ate my homework.
Jupiter - Did you hear that its stripes are changing?
Venus - She was hot in mythology.
Pluto - Not a planet anymore.
Uranus - Haha I said your anus!

That is all. I'm missing another big one. Now let me go cheat on wikipedia.

(A few minutes later.)

I did better than I thought while missing some that I shouldn't have. The list is:
1. (☿) Mercury
2. (♀) Venus *
3. (⊕) Earth *
4. (♂) Mars *
5. (♃) Jupiter *
6. (♄) Saturn
7. (♅) Uranus *
8. (♆) Neptune

Somehow I managed to think that Saturn was Jupiter when trying to list them. Yeah go me! I'm not sure how I missed Mercury. Being the closest to the Sun, you would think that one would stand out. Neptune I completely forgot the name of but it was the other big one I knew I was forgetting. Looks like I need to study this page on planet mnemonics.

After reading that article on Yahoo, I've spent some more time reading on wikipedia about the planets. For some reason I always think of Mars as being closer to the Sun than Earth, even though I know it isn't. One of those knee jerk reactions I guess.

Also, did you know that there is another Dwarf Planet, that is bigger than Pluto? How about the fact that there were 16 other objects that have been at one time regarded as planets? Five of those were moons of Saturn.

Here is a fact that really boggles my mind: Jupiter has at least 63 moons, one of which, Ganymede, has a diameter greater than Mercury. Titan, one of Saturns moons, is also bigger than Mercury. Jupiter is 10 times the size of the Earth and almost 318 times as massive.

Jupiter is two and a half times as massive as all the other planets combined. Crazy. I can't even comprehend how massive that must be.

I could go on but by now you have either stopped reading or you are reading the wikipedia article like I am.

Have any of you read any good books on our solar system? How about good websites?

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Two, Two Blogs in One!

As if I needed anything else to distract me, I've started a blog just for WoW related posts. This way if you don't want to read about WoW, you don't have to. And for those that just want to read about WoW, you can just read the new blog which is wittily (is that even a word?) named Feign This.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

T-Shirts For Everyone!

If you buy them of course.

Let me explain:

Julie and I have been plugging away on WoW about an hour per night lately and enjoying ourselves tremendously. A few nights ago she had her first blue item drop and lucky for me, it was mail so she couldn't use it.

The last two nights we dusted off Dave and Cat. We haven't played them in forever but it has been fun having our mounts. The play style is a complete change since I'm used to tanking and Jules has been laying out tons of damage with her rogue. We were able to do some quest in Strangle Thorn Vale without any problems, other than it being crowded like always.

Which brings me in a roundabout way to my topic. Julie has admitted to me that she is more of a geek now and is blaming it on living with me. She even joked that I have her on a schedule to be a complete geek by 2017. While talking about this we got to looking at T-Shirts that were geek related.

Which led to looking at World of Warcraft T-Shirts. So far these are my two favorites for her Rogues Do It From Behind or the I'm Not Addicted.

While looking for these T-Shirts I found out that you can create a Cafe Press shop for free. Creating a shop lets you upload images and make your own shirts. The free version has some limitations but if you have any interest here are my two attempts so far.

Geek via Marriage
Will WoW for Food

That's right folks. I've totally sold out. If any of you have any interest in either of those don't buy them through the store, I can get them at cost which is a dollar cheaper than the price shown.

Have any of you used Cafe Press? Let me know in the comments.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

MacGyver Was Never This Evil

I just got done watching a video where you can open your locked car with a tennis ball. Now to me this means that I have to try it and see if it works. If it is really this easy to open your lock with a tennis ball, why even bother locking your doors?

Surely this won't work on all cars ... will it?

Monday, June 25, 2007

A Case of the Mondays

Yes, yes indeed.

For those of you who don't read the comments here is some of the oh so great feed back I got on Friday's post. Comments are in italics; my responses are in bold.

  • Joseph Cerra said...
    Your blog should be about how cool my blog is.
    Joe's blog really is great. If you aren't reading it, you should.

  • Star said...
    I think you should write about how cool your Mom is.
    My Mom is cool. Even if we did grow up on burnt popcorn and brownies.

  • Jason said...
    I'd like to know everything. If you could tailor your discussion to that end...that would be greeeeaaat.

Which brings me back to having a case of the Mondays. If you haven't seen Office Space you are required to before the next class or I'm failing your slacking behind.

Peter Gibbons is my hero. Sorry Ferris.

Friday, June 22, 2007

What is This Place?

Now that I've been doing this blog thing for over a month, I've been wondering what I should do with it.

Lately the blog posts haven't been as long or as entertaining but that is completely my fault. I'm hoping to improve them but need your help.

Answer me this: What direction should this blog go?

Looking at the traffic histories the personal stories and gaming/techy posts get the most comments. I'm going to try and cut down on the number of "Nothing happened today but here is a post" type posts.

The original idea behind The Four Way Stop was to symbolize that this was the place to go to chatter. I wanted to try to get you talking about subjects that interest me. What I've found though is that trying to find stuff that interests me and The Readers (that is you), isn't very easy.

So, leave a comment. Tell me what you think I should try. Note that I may be trying different ideas out for a few weeks or so at a time.

Final note, when I move I won't have internet at first in the house I'm crashing. I'm hoping to get something setup but have no time line. I'm going to post on breaks from work but we'll see what their policy is on that.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Final Fantasy Meets Street Fighter

No, I'm not kidding.

Not being very good at fighting games ... ever ... it comes as somewhat of a surprise to see that Sony is offeringFinal Fantasy: Dissidia for the PSP. The games release is a ways off but to me this would be yet another reason I want (but would rarely play) a PSP.

If you are a fan of either FF or fighting games check out that link from

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Hunting Cars

Looking a used car that is in my price range has turned out to be like pulling the ears off a Gundark. We test drove only one car yesterday and it wasn't what I would call an improvement over my car. It did have working AC but that was about it.

I'm hoping to visit Carmax later this week but my hopes of finding a decently priced car are quickly disappearing.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Friday Round Up

Being home with a sick kid gave me plenty of time to surf and watch The Wiggles. Here are some links and news that you need to check out.

  1. Blogger has release a new draft version of Blogger that is the testing ground for new features. Currently they have added a button to allow you to upload video. Very nice. Look for video of the Big Bike my grandpa built that I mentioned awhile back.

  2. I'm not a reality TV show fan but Paul Potts, a contestant on Britain's Got Talent, blew the judges away with his voice. This is what finding undiscovered talent is all about. There is a second video of Paul winning the semi finals. I can't imagine being able to sing like that.

  3. The Kansas City Royals have beat up on my Cardinals for most of the week. Here is hoping we can return the favor when we play them in St. Louis.

  4. Computer usage is all about speeding things up, right? Use this cheat sheet list to find the keyboard shortcuts and other time saving information for whatever program you may need. (From: Lifehacker)

  5. Speaking of shortcuts, did you know that the middle mouse click in Firefox will cause a link to open in a new tab? Or that the same middle click will close an open tab? I'm a middle clicker now!

  6. Ars Technica has another computer building guide that provides a nice look at building a complete system with monitor and peripherals. Their Budget PC comes in at $800, take away the monitor, speakers, mouse and keyboard and you are looking at only $586 with Windows XP home.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

At Home with Dad, Free Stuff Pt 2

Taylor has been sick the last couple of days and has had to spend time with me at home. We have spent time watching DVDs and surfing. Fun!

Lucky for me he just fell asleep on the couch so I had some time to check my email.
Looking at the links Joe left in his comment I ran across A Free iPod Offer. This is one of those sign up with their sponsors and then cancel types things. Plus you have to get 5 friends to do the same.

I don't have 5 friends. 3 or 4 maybe.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Free is Free

I mentioned back on the first of June that if I linked to Jim Boykin I would get a free clock. Turns out ... that next day I got an email asking for my address and on that Friday the clock arrived. Thanks much!

I really dig free stuff. Seeing as how I'm sure some of you are very web savvy, how can I get more free stuff?

I can think of all kinds of neat stuff I might be able to get free. A hdtv, a new pc, a new cellphone (thanks for making me want one Scott), an iPod (who cares if they are evil as long as it is free) and a new car.

Which brings me around to another point. I'll be shopping for a new (to me) car this week and next. Problem is I'm cheap. I don't want to spend money on a newer car. I don't want to invest a bunch of money on my current car either. Looking for a car just makes me want to hurt something. Who knows what I'll end up with.

I haven't mentioned it here yet, but I'll be changing jobs starting July 2nd. I'm looking forward to doing something that I went to school for. We will also be moving closer to family which was the primary reason I started looking. Don't be surprised if the blog misses a day here and there at the start of the month.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

PCs Rule, Macs Drool

I'm kidding really. I just needed a title to get you to read this.

As many of you are probably aware, I'm a PC guy. I don't hate Macs. I can see the attraction and their benefits. However, I've worked on Windows platforms for long enough that I don't want to spend the time finding all the Mac alternatives to the program I use regularly. Do they exist? Probably. Do I want to spend more money on a Mac so I can't work on the hardware and have to learn the software? No.

My good friend Jason hates PCs because he happened to buy a Gateway PC that had Windows ME installed on it. Windows ME is the worst operating system ever. MS-DOS is more stable and functional. I also think that most of the time people that have a PC and hate it are blaming Windows for the hardware issues too. If you don't like a PC, buy a Mac. I won't be able to do your tech support! Maybe Scott will help you out. It's a Win-Win situation!

Okay enough Mac vs PC talk.

The real point of this post though is to mention how I've been looking for a good cheap video card. Toms Hardware features a video card guide that they update each month. So far I've found their site to be the best guide that is easy to read and understand. Toms Hardware also provides a nice table of video cards that I really like since it separates them into tiers based on performance and value. Their suggestion: if your card isn't at least 3 tiers higher, don't upgrade from your old one.

I've been using to do some pricing and have found that they offer some really good deals on all sorts of PC hardware. Earlier this year I realized that my PC is aging so I was able to find all the parts (minus monitor) for a new PC right at $600 dollars with shipping. A comparable PC from Dell or Gateway would run at least $900 without shipping. Don't get me wrong, there are some benefits to buying from a manufacturer but next time I'm going to use reviews from Tom's Hardware and other sites to buy all my PC components. Not only will I save some money but I can get exactly what I want while doing it.

Friday, June 8, 2007

Why All the i's?

Okay folks. It is 2007. Can we stop with all the products beginning with a lower case i?

iPod - evil.
igoogle - nice but not necessary.
iProspect - Never heard of it. Saw a link to it from Searchengineland.
iPhone - Overhyped, too expensive for me. Like all Mac products.
iProducts - Are you serious?

Any product that feels they need to throw a fancy 'i' in front of their product isn't going to get my business unless I have no alternative. I'd take a free iPod or iPhone though.

As a marketing ploy, all these companies really need to think about being original instead of just creating an 'i' product. It can't be that hard. With all these type of products or sites around, it screams "I fit in! I'm hip! I'm cool!". Usually the people that are doing that kind of promotion are the Farmer Ted's of the world.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

What Makes a Good MMO?

Since EverQuest, I've been playing one MMO or another. Currently Julie and I are playing World of Warcraft but I've played EverQuest, Dark Age of Camelot, Anarchy Online, Star Wars Galaxies and City of Heroes.

Out of all of these I'm going to eliminate the games that I haven't gone back and played. That takes us down to WoW, EQ, AO and CoH. I'm going to eliminate AO because the only reason I've gone back to play it is that it offers a monthly fee free version. I recommend AO though, it has some unique features and there are several solo friendly classes if you are like me and just want to play alone. Being free doesn't hurt either.

We are now down to EQ, CoH, and WoW. Let's walk through them in that order.


I haven't played EQ since I bought the platinum version last year for 20 bucks. The only reason I went back and played that was because I'm very nostalgic about EQ. It was the first MMO I played and at the time had some amazing game play. I can remember playing it on dial up and literally taking 5 minutes to zone from one zone to the next. I survived the character wipe, which morphed into the item wipe.

It was also the first game where I made friends, most of who I still talk with on the Denied message board. I'm still Kodith to most of those people. I even have a customized Chiefs jersey with Kodith as the player name. My email even contained Kodith. In many ways I was Kodith while playing EQ.

EQ was a great game for many years but didn't fare well after competition starting showing up. The game still isn't very casual friendly. They added a 'real' economy too late and generally screwed with their player base too many times. Something that personally ticks me off still is that we played on Test server which didn't allow for transfers to or from. The devs and/or other Sony employees have seen fit to transfer both ways for those players that are part of the in crowd. That still makes me angry, I'm not sure why though. I would love to go back to the "good ol' days" of EQ.

/gu Anyone up for CoM? I want a GJB!
Ahem. Moving on ...

City of Heroes

City of Heroes is currently the only super hero based MMO that I'm aware of on the market. CoH has the best character customization of any MMO I've played. I've spent hours just in creating and tweaking the looks on my characters. I had registered for the CoH beta when I first heard about the game and got into the beta a few months before release. The beta had some nasty lag bugs but otherwise I was hooked. Blasting baddies with ice blasts? Check. Smashing faces with super strength? Check. Force fields? Flight? Super speed? Check, check, check.

CoH also offers Issues, which are free mini expansions. They are currently on Issue 9 which was just released last month. Joe and I played CoH for a few weeks before and a few weeks after Issue 9. Issue 9 added some loot-lite options and a Invention system, a crafting system that is optional but very beneficial. CoH is one of the most casual and solo friendly games I've played. I like the fact that I could get and complete a mission in under 30 minutes. While some of the archetypes may do better at soloing, it is possible to solo all of them.

I should probably mention that City of Villains is the evil or bad guy version of CoH. Instead of rescuing citizens you will be robbing banks and smashing up cars. CoV is what tempted me to play again a few months ago and was completely worth it. The villain archetypes were new to me and very refreshing. Previously you could buy just CoH or CoV but now it is possible to buy the Good vs Evil edition for around 30 dollars. I'd highly recommend CoH for anyone that is looking for a new MMO to try out.

World of Warcraft

World of Warcraft is the MMO right now. With 8 million subscribers worldwide, it is the king of the hill without anyone trying to climb it. There are some upcoming games that may be trying to take a chunk out of their subscribers base but I don't see anyone usurping their role anytime soon.

WoW offers a good assortment of races and classes although after CoH the character customization features are very lackluster. This doesn't take much away from the game though since almost all armor pieces and weapons change the way your character looks. WoW is extremely easy to pick up and play.

I started in the late beta and after watching the cinematic intro (which you can find on the World of Warcraft movies page) I was enraptured. I think I even made Julie watch it. After creating my character and logging in, I was amazed at how the world looked. While it has an almost cartoon like style, the details and feel are perfect. After watching me play for a few months Julie showed interest and I went out and got her a copy too. Playing together makes it even more enjoyable.

Here is a quick list of things WoW has going for it.

Easy to learn and play.
Casual and hardcore friendly.
Economy is very good on most servers. The auction house is very well done.
Free content updates.

I'm sure I'm missing some things that I take for granted. To me, WoW is the best executed MMO I've played. Even in the late beta there were few bugs to speak of that would keep you from playing.

Now that I've written a book, let us get back to the original question: What makes a good MMO? has a poll up currently asking a similar question. I answered Questing and here are the results.

I'm somewhat surprised by these survey results. I wouldn't have guessed that Role Playing/Community would be the highest. Maybe readers are biased towards this aspect of MMO gaming.

For me, there are several factors that can make or break a game.

It needs to have a nice clean interface.
The controls need to be easy to learn and use.
Game play needs to casual friendly but offer a challenge.
Tradeskills must be viable and easy to use.
Content needs to be varied enough so that I don't feel like I'm doing the same quest over and over.

Out of the three MMOs I've talked about here I would say that WoW scores very high except on the last point. The quests almost always consist of go get this item from (place/NPC/creature) or gather these (5/10/15/whatever) number of (NPC drop/placed item) or the classic kill (X) number of (Y).

CoH scores high on all the points but the last two. The tradeskills are limited to only inventions but they are viable. The content for CoH is better now with the newer mission types but still can feel like you have done the same mission at least a few times before.

For those of you who have played MMOs, what makes a good MMO for you? Do you disagree with any of my points or have anything you would like to add?

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Top Ten Reasons Top Ten Lists Are Popular

  1. They are often witty. Wittier than you.

  2. Who doesn't like thinking something they have thought about is the norm?

  3. Easier to write than paragraphs.

  4. Easier to read than paragraphs.

  5. Allow the author to state their beliefs as truths. Doesn't matter if they even mean to or not.

  6. They are the new Members Only Jacket.

  7. Offer information that might otherwise be missed. People are lazy.

  8. Blogs and social networking sites love them. That makes them A-O-K.

  9. Everything you read on the Internet is true. Right?

  10. David Letterman be damned, I'm the king of lists!

Yes, I know I've already done a Top 10. If you don't like this one ... tough.

As I started to write this I figured I wasn't the only person to think of this idea. Turns out I was correct. This was done over on Modern Life last year. Go read that link, it was pretty good.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Why is it called Work?

After reading about Joe's wish to stop the spam, I got to wondering about all the other stuff that goes on in an office that seems to be the norm. For instance, there have been days were I know that I haven't gotten any real 'work' done. Sure, I've done SEO/SEM research, maybe even learned a thing or two, but the amount of effort that takes is minimal.

What if there was some fancy gadget that actually paid you based on how much work you did instead? That type of thing would totally change the office setting. I can't even really imagine what that would be like.

It is strange to me that I get paid to, sometimes mind you, surf the Internet for 8 hours a day. Today I actually have had a ton of different projects to work on but this is what made me realize how I sometimes spend my days at work.

Why is it that we work for 40 hours a week? How much work do you do in any given day? How about in a week?

Monday, June 4, 2007

What is that C for?

While reading one of the many SEO blogs I read everyday, I saw that there was a quick nerd test. I'm very happy to know that I'm not nearly as nerdy as some of these other folks.

I am nerdier than 67% of all people. Are you a nerd? Click here to find out!

What is your nerd score? I can think of at least a couple people that read my blog that I'm sure are nerdier than I am.

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Time for Rest

Today has felt like the first full day of summer. We worked on clearing out a ton of stuff around the house that has needed done since we moved in. We also have painted the hallway and one bathroom, which has also needed done since we moved in. I keep thinking the weekends will be for rest but that doesn't happen any more.

Maybe it isn't as hot as summer but the amount of work and the feel in the air is of summer. Hot days, cool water and lots of BBQ.

What are your favorite memories of summer?

Friday, June 1, 2007


Jim Boykin is running a contest so I thought I'd take him up on his offer and see about getting my free clock!

Jim runs a great blog with a ton of SEO information, most of which I'm still reading my way through.

I can't resist free stuff!