Monday, October 29, 2007

Heroes Season 2, Episode 6

It starts off with Peter and hottie at the bar. She wants go to Montreal with Peter. She wants to kill veronica Mars.

Claire is trying out for cheerleader. The chief cheer chick slams Claire and basically says she sucks.

Monica is watching gymnastics and replicating them. Suresh is watching. Creepy Bob comes in and tells Monica how special she is. He asks Suresh to step out with him.

The company is experimenting with a virus that takes away abilities. They want Suresh to inject Monica. He calls Noah and tells him about it. Noah tells him that if he doesn't go along with the plan, the Company will get rid of him and he'll lose Molly.

Noah and the Haitian sneak into a house where a man and woman with a boy are speaking russian. I don't recognize them. Noah calls the man Ivan, says he's "an old friend" and then smacks him.

Claire has lunch with West. He says she's better than the cheer chick. He thinks she should take her down a notch. Humiliation! Meow!

Sylar is still traveling with Maya and alejandro. He really likes May's power. He really wants Maya's power. Alejandro wants to drop Sylar but Maya says no.

Ando meets up with the scientist decoding the messages from Hiro again. Hiro is love with Yeko. He's worried about her and her father in the coming battle with White Beard.

Ivan has paintings and works for the company. Noah wants the paintings. Noah says that if Ivan doesn't give up the info, the Haitian will remove all of his most precious memories, one by one. That sucks.

Noah gets a call from Claire. She wants to use the car. West makes a mask (or finds a mask).

Ivan tells Noah that if he comes back to the company, his family will be safe and he will be told everything. He seems to consider it.

Maya, Aljeandro and Sylar make it to the border. Locals with shotguns stopping them from driving across. I think i can guess what happens here.

Monica is back with Suresh. She doesn't wnat a shot. He convinces her though so she agrees. He can't do it though. He walks out of the room. Suresh destroys his research and says he's leaving.

Maya starts to "use" her power. alejandro tries to stop her but Sylar stops him. All the gun toters drop. Sylar starts bleeding from his eyes.

Claire goes to see the cheer chick. She tells her she wants another chance at the tryouts. Cheer chick is drinking (and is drunk). While they're talking, a masked man flies down, picks up Clairs and drops her on the steps (apparently killing her). Cheer chick runs off with the flying dude tailing her. Bwahahahaha.

The cops don't beliee the story about Claire being dead. Claire just happens to show up and denies everything.

Hiro, Kinsei and Yeko sneak into White Beard's camp at night. Kinsei lets a guard stab him. The sword smith won't leave until White Bear's arsenal is destroyed. White Beard wants to over throw the empire.

bob visits Suresh while he's with Molly. Bob apologizes for trying to make Suresh use the virus on Monica. Suresh is gullible.

Hiro stops time and gets Yeko away from the running battle. Kensei and the swordsmith aren't with them. Hiro tells Yeko that he doesn't know how they got there. She realizes he has pwer and that he was the person who said the "wonderful" things to her and saved her from the Brigandes.

She asks if he loves her. He says yes. She tells him she loves him, too. He kisses her and fractures time. Kensei sees them kissing. That's the last scroll from Hiro.

Alejandro and Sylar are fighting. Alejandro doesn't trust Sylar and tell Maya she has to choose, him or Sylar. She won't so Alejandro says that the next time Sylar is dying, he won't help save him.

Claire is upset that someone might have seen them. West is a lot more upbeat about it. Cheer chick got suspended for drinking on school grounds and was kicked off the cheerleading team. Claire is on.

Noah is still with Ivan. Ivan lost a daughter. Noah threatens to take his memory of the daughter. Ivan gives up the paintings. Noah can't take any chances so he kills Ivan. I don't like Noah.

Hiro tracks down Kinsei. Kensei tells him he saw Hiro and Yeko kissing. Hiro says that it was an accident that they fell in love. Kensei knocks Hiro out and turns Hiro, Yeko and the swordsmith over to White Beard.

Bob takes Monica home. He gives her an ipod type device.

Suresh meets up with Niki/Jessica. She's his new partner.

Noah finds the paintings. What do they mean?

Peter is in Montreal. They go to the place in the painting. It looks like an antique shop. The door is unlocked. Someone left a note for Peter. It's from someone named Adam. It says Peter was right about the "Company".

Peter closes his eyes and transports them to a future New York. He finds an evacuation order from June 2008, one year in the future. Suresh's virus maybe?

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Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The Best 1 Page Flex Tutorial Ever

I stumbled across this Simple Flex Tutorial while playing on the web. Flex is the language I want to learn (my hobby is learning programming languages). I think flex, especially with AIR, will be a big choice in the future.

I like the way the tutorial is laid out and how easy it is to follow. It takes a single screen, starts at the top and steps through each piece one at a time. You end up with a useful tool as well as some knowledge of the language.

It won't make you an expert but it shows the simplicity and the power very concisely (7 steps and a caveat).

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Monday, October 22, 2007

Heroes Season 2, Episode 5

The show starts off with Suresh and Matt taking care of an unconscious Molly. Matt doesn't want to leave her but Suresh convinces it would be for the best. Matt's question: why was his father in that photo?

Monica is giving her story to the NOPD (New Orleans Police Department). The guy she smacked around is a gang banger. She doesn't need the grief.

Peter is chilling in Ireland with the barmaid hottie. I hear he's going to have a visitor tonight. He still hasn't looked in the box. He has been getting Irish though.

Peter's visitor, Veronica Mars, is talking with barmaid one of the scumbags in the Irish gang. Is she a goon for the "company"? The scumbag tells her where Peter is. As she walks off, the scumbag tells her to watch herself. She shoots electricity from here fingers and says she can tale care of herself. Sweet!

Nathan was waiting at the police station when Matt showed up. Matt tells him about Molly. Nathan goes to Philly with Matt.

Irish bro interrupts Peter and sis kissing. An old dude from the docks tells Peter an American girl is looking for him.

Monica is getting a rep from kicking gangbang Jr's ass. I'm sure he'll be back. Monica tells her friend that her body can do things even before she realizes she's doing it. She wants to BE something more.

Matt and Nathan take the express to Philly. They stand outside the apartment that Molly saw in her mind. Nathan knocked. Dad doesn't look much like a killer or a mind reader. He looks like a bum. He also has a picture with the mark on it. There's a bullet with his name on it.

Matt's dad said he was just protecting himself. Nathan tells Matt to read the dad's mind but it doesn't work.

Micha plays the piano. I didn't know that. Micah and Monica do some bonding before Monica starts jamming on the piano. A very cool ability.

Suresh calls Noah Bennet, who's with the Haitian, and tells him he's taking Molly to the company.

Matts' dad spells out how the original group got started. He says that Matt's mind reading skill will become so much more. He can't explain it but had something to show him. There's three bangs and the door locks. Nathan can't get in.

Matt ends up in a cell getting roughed up and when Nathan kicks in the door, he ends up in the future after a nuke has gone off.

Matt's dad grabs a sweater and takes off with an evil grin on his face. This dude is evil.

Ando's back! He's studying the notes from Hiro. He has a scientist trying to help him read some of the scrolls that were damaged somehow over the years.

Flashback to ancient Japan. Hiro is still helping the UK Kensei. Kensei and the girl are falling in love while working on rescuing her father.

Monica is making tomato flowers. Micah thinks Monica has a power. He shows her his and tells her his dad can walk through walls. He shows her a comic book called 9th Wonders. Monica is a "copycat"; someone who can do anything they see. Like I said a couple of weeks ago, a mimic.

Suresh brought Molly in to the company. Bob sends Suresh out to the field with a taser. Niki shows up acting more like Jessica than Niki. She knocks Suresh away and picks Bob up and pins him against the wall. Suresh tasers her. That seems a little coincidental.

Monica and Micah go looking for a way to proce her skills. She passes on hoops anf skateboarding. She does a double dutch jump rope, though. She knocks the girls out!

Peter gets a new place to live. With someone looking for him, he heads over to the barmaids place. She's an artist. He's finally decided to look in the box. He finds:

His passport and full name
A plane ticket to montreal

He paints a picture using his junkie artist powers. The power kind of freaks her out.

Veronica shows up at the bar, looking for Peter. The brother gives her the run around. She doesn't buy it. She locks the doors and burns out the lock. Then she turns on the bro.

Niki comes to in a hospital bed with Bob looking over her. Suresh tries to get her out but she doesn't want to leave. She wants Jessica out. Only the company can help her.

nathan is still looking at a burning New York city. Peter is on the ground. It's not Peter, it's a burned Nathan. Really badly burned.

Janice and a baby show up in Matt's cell. It's like Matt's dad gave them nightmares. It's two different scenes but it's matt fighting nathan. Very weird but very cool.

Matt sees though it but Nathan is trying to kills matt. He finally comes out of it and they're both on the floor in Matt's dad's apartment. Freaky!

Molly calls him the nightmare man becuase he can literally give you nightmares. Is this show deep or what! They find a picture of Bob with the mark through his face. Not a good sign for bob!

Back to Hiiro, they were on the to fight White Beard. Taeko, the girly wouldn't stay behind though. She wanted to fight. Three against an army.

Monica watches bruce lee movies to become a martial artist. Micah likes this power. Suresh shows up at Monica's house. He knows about her powers.

Veronica Mars s making a phone call from her car. She killed the bro! She fried him. She is a little disturbed I think. She's called home. I'm guessing she's talking to bob. Daddy?

Peter finishes his painting. It's a picture of the barmaid and peter in Montreal. They get a call and go to the bar. Bro-B-Q.

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Friday, October 19, 2007

Predictive AI to Reduce Lag in Online Games

MIT's Technology Review has a very cool article, Reducing Lag Time in Online Games. This article discusses how some games use something called "dead reckoning" to track where users are in the game universe.

Dead reckoning calls for each player's computer to run a low-fidelity simulation of what's going on in the game. At the same time, the computer runs a high-fidelity version that keeps precise track of the player's actions and position. The computer constantly compares the two versions. If they don't match, the computer sends an update to all the other participating computers, which can make the necessary corrections. While the computers must still broadcast updates, they don't do it nearly as often as they otherwise would.
I'm not a game programmer so this is all news to me. The concept is very cool. It also explains some of the issues I've run into in games like Everquest and Guildwars. I wonder if they use dead reckoning. There have been times when I change direction while running across a large zone and I get the "snap back" effect. I run a ways before zapping back. I think this might be an effect of the high-fidelity not matching the low-fidelity. This article talks about adding a neural net to the users computer to boost the accuracy of the predictive model. Dead reckoning is very good for objects that move in a constant direction and a constant speed, or even non-constant but consistent, but it doesn't work as well for users because users tend to be more random. The Neural Nets would offset some of that randomness. Since the neural nets would run on the users computer, there would be additional overhead for the game.
Although the system does make some additional demands on the user's computer, McCoy says that they're negligible compared with all the processing that goes into most massively multiplayer games. "In most games--even the large-scale ones--your own computer is only actually responsible for one entity: your own avatar," McCoy says. "Because you're only controlling one avatar, the neural networks only have to run for that one avatar."
So, if you have an MMO and want to beta test, give me a shout. I'm willing to help test. LewisC

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Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Fort Desoto, St Petersburg Florida

I went camping this past weekend. It was finally a chance to try out our new (used) camper. It's a pop-up that sleeps 8 adults. It has air conditioning, a refrigerator and a microwave (that's one we added). We pull it with the mini-van. Here are a few pictures of the camper. The outside: Camper Collapsed
The awning
The inside: Camper Guest BedroomCamper Front Door
Camper Guest BedroomCamper Guest Bedroom Camper Kitchen The campground, Fort Desoto, is an awesome park. There is a beach and fishing as well as camping. We had a waterfront slot and it was perfect weather. Camp Site
Camp Site
Walking Dakota and Nevada
Walking Nevada

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Monday, October 15, 2007

Heroes Season 2, Episode 4

I'm writing this live but instead of submitting 6 entries, I'll just save them all up and submit them at once (at the end, of course).

Nothing new to start with. Claire's dad is still paranoid (of course with the painting, guess he has reason to be). Matt and Suresh are still babysitting Molly. She's having nightmares.

Nathan is still hairy. He visits his boys and tells them he's going back home. A teacher tells him he's not allowed there. I don't know what's up with that.

Maya, Alejandro, and their new friend find Sylar laying in the middle of the road. Now that's cool.

Commercial! Argh!

Micah meets his new adopted family.

Ms Patrelli tells the cops that she killed Nakamura.

Claire gets hit up to try out for chairleading. She says no, though. Claire tells West that she can't see him anymore. It's because of her dad but she won't say so. He tells her he'll back off in one day but first she has to go out with him.

Nathan shaved. He's on the war path because his mom confessed. Matt tells Nathan he knows he can fly because he can read minds. Nathan recognizes the symbol.

Mom won't tell Nathan why she's confessing but she does tell him that he won't find redemption by helping her; he'll only get himself killed.

Maya tells Sylar that she is traveling to New York to see Suresh (the dad). Sylar says he's friends with Suresh and will help them. He gives his name as Gabrielle (like the angel).

Looks like Monica, Mica's cousin?, is the newest Hero. She works at a burger joint. She wants to be a manager. I think her power might be mimicry. She doesn't get the management position.

Claire lies and says she's going to the library for a research paper but is really going on a date. Dad follows and see her meet up with West. He doesn't see them go airborne though.

Nathan and Matt meet up and discuss the people with powers. Nathan finds a picture with all of the big powers (the Patrelli parents, Nakamura, Linderman, etc) and Matt sees someone he knows, his father.

Claire and West sit on the Hollywood sign for their date. He is smooth. He gets her to jump off the sign and then catches her. "I know you would heal quick, but I never want to see to see you hurt." Somebody might be getting a little tonight!

Micah uses his powers to get pay per view. Season finale of wrestling? Monica comes home and passes out dinner. I like that Monica is in New Orleans and I like the fact that Katrina is mentioned but is not the focus.

Matt goes looking for dad. His dad was a criminal. He asks Molly to help find him. Matt's dad is the nightmare man, the one who can see her when she looks for people. I sure didn't see that coming.

Nathan is looking at pictures of Peter. When Nathan looks at himself in the mirror, he sees himself as very disfigured.

Sylar kills the driver when he points out they (he and Sylar) they are traveling with killers (Maya and Alejandro).

Claire tells dad she was at cheerleading tryout instead of on a date and she promises not to start dating. The Haitian shows up and says they need to head to Texas.

Matt wants Molly to find his dad. He and Suresh argue about it. Molly wakes up and agrees to look for his dad.

Monica is locking up when a burgular shows up to take the money. She puts a wrestling move on him and kicks his ass. He runs away. I think I'm right and mimicry is her power.

Molly finds Matt's dad in Phillie. Molly passes out. He reads her mind and she's yelling, "Matt. Help me!"

Next week Kristen Bell shows up. It looks like the Peter episode!

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I got a new laptop

I mentioned a couple of days ago that my laptop died. I went camping yesterday but today when I got back I decided I needed a computer. I bought a new HP. Core 2 Duo, 200GB drive, 4GB Ram, NVidia 8400 video, GB Ethernet and 802.11abgn wireless. I may upgrade the drive as it is 4800RPM instead of 5400RPM. I'll see how it does after I install a couple of databases. It has a DVD/CD recorder with lightscribe. I've never used that but I will probably play with it. So far I am happy but it took 2 hours just to delete all of the garbage off of it (AOL, Norton, etc). It also downloaded about 40 updates. Right now I'm just waiting for Heroes to start. K-Ville is not on tonight for some reason. meh. LewisC

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Woe is me! Laptop Died! Any Recommendations?

It finally bit the dust. After two years of faithful service, my Gateway 7330GZ finally died tonight. Yep, this is the laptop that I blogged about when I lost my F key. It started with overheating and unexpected shutdowns. By this morning, I couldn't even finish a virus scan without it shutting down. I tried to reload (I actually take backups on a regular basis and have a sync program to keep me up to date between backups). The drive is fried. I can't even get the OS installed without it hanging and/or shutting down. The motherboard may be iffy. Instead of replacing the drive, I think I'll just buy a new laptop. Any recommendations for a new one? I'm thinking of a Dell. Minimum spec: Core Duo 2, 2gb RAM, 120GB drive. My current laptop has a 15.4inch monitor and I like that. I don't need a 17in. I'm tempted to just go for 4GB of ram. My current laptop is also freaking heavy. I'd like to reduce the weight a bit. I guess I'll start looking. Let me know if you have any strong suggestions (to buy or to stay away from). LewisC

Microsoft Drops DRM?

Let me clarify, MS is not dropping the annoying and invasive phone home crap on their software products. They are dropping the DRM on music sold through Zune Marketplace. So is what's good for the goose, good for the gander? Will MS ease up on its completely bad copy protection schemes? I doubt it. I guess it will take a few more massive lawsuits before MS gets on board. I am sure those invasive techniques are one of the reasons for the very bad uptake on Vista. Having said that, I do like some of the new features of the Zune:

  • Wireless sync. Zune devices will automatically sync over consumers’ home wireless networks with this helpful new feature, aimed at ensuring that Zune owners always have the latest podcasts and other content ready to go when they‘re leaving home. Syncing with the collection on their PC happens via a home wireless network and will start on its own when the device is placed in its dock or plugged in to charge. Alternatively, the sync can be started manually.
  • Extended wireless sharing.Share select full-length songs, albums, playlists, pictures and even audio podcasts from device to device. Consumers can now listen to any song received up to three times with no time restrictions, and they can now also pass along songs to other friends who have a Zune.
  • Recorded television content to go. The Zune software will now automatically import broadcast content recorded on Microsoft® Windows® Media Center for Windows Vista® Home Premium or Ultimate, so consumers can sync them onto their Zune media player and watch them on the bus, in their car or wherever they want when they’re out and about.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Red Cockroaches: A Movie?

Ok, I read a review of this movie, Red Cockroaches, at Based on that review, I bought a copy from Amazon. Let me tell you that thinks a lot more about this move than I do. If you haven't seen this movie and don't want to be spoiled, stop reading here. Although, you might be glad to never see this movie.

I am a fan of B movies. I really am. Supposedly this movie had a budget of $2000. Had the writing, directing or acting been better, it might have qualified as a B movie. The plot isn't just non-existent, it's stupid. B movies at least need a hokey plot!

The plot, what there is of it, revolves around a strange guy living in New York. He's angst ridden and hairy. Mommy won't visit him in his apartment so he visits her. He gives mommy a little pyramid key chain and a key to his apartment. She accepts the key and gives him a cat which he gives away to a little girl before he even makes it back home. I wonder why she has visitation issues?

Ten years ago, dad and little sister died in a car wreck. Oh wait, she's back. He sees her on a subway station where she drops a tooth and disappears. A tooth? Yep. Weird? Yep. The tooth is hot to the touch. Weirder? Yep. Significant? Nope.

The science fiction in this movie revolves around tv commercials about a cloning company called DNA 21 and warnings about acid rain. The acid rain line makes about as much sense as red cockroaches. This is not science fiction, this is a bad movie using science fiction to find a niche to live in.

Anyway, sis is back. After the wreck with dad in New York, she ended up in a coma for 9 years. That must have been on heck of a wreck because the hospital she ended up in was in Paris. France. Yep.

So, to make a long story short, they have nasty monkey sex in the kitchen. This is where they use the ketchup inappropriately. They have a history of him doing stuff to her. She kills the landlord. Mom visits finally and finds them bumping uglies. She freaks out, falls down and hits her head on the little pyramid keychain. She dies. As sad as all this sounds, it turns out well at the end when brother and sister die in a car crash.

Red Cockroaches is directed, produced, written and edited by Miguel Coyula. I've never heard of him. At 82 minutes, this film is about and hour and ten minutes too long. The main actress, Talia Rubel, seems somehow familiar. Creepy but familiar. While watching the main actor, Adam Plotch, I kept thinking that he has got to be related to Matt Dillon. I swear he's his son or a younger cousin or something. I think this might be a made up name as I know I would be too embarrassed to use my real name.

If you are a fan of badly written, acted and directed incestuous, tripe with an SF twist, this movie is a must see. Otherwise, save your money and buy an old "Three Stooges Go To Mars" dvd.


Tuesday, October 09, 2007

My Son as a Fireman

I was reading the New Orleans Daily Photo blog and saw this entry, Destination: imagination. My wife recently took my son to one his favorite spots in Lakeland, FL - Lakeland Explorations. We have an annual pass. Anyway, the photo in the photo blog reminded me of that because of the picture below. One of the exhibits is a firetruck and my son likes to dress up as a fireman. It's not quite Storyland but it'll do in a pinch.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Heroes Season 2, Episode 3, Part 6

Sylar killed her but still has no powers. No illusions at all. He does have bloody hands though. He runs outside to find that he's in the middle of a huge jungle. Peter joins the "robber family" and gets a tat. Daddy robber gives Peter his box. Instead of opening the box, he gets his freak on with the Irish Bartender chick. She has a tat too, the scary Japanese symbol tat. Claire and West chat on the beach. Actually they do more than chat. They get a little freak on too. West has the neck mark showing that he was grabbed by the "company". West describes his captor as Claire's dad. The company guy that has been working with Suresh gets a call from Niki. Suresh calls Claire's dad. Suresh finds some pictures from the artist who paints the future. It's a painting of his (claire's dad's) own death. A bloody death! To be continued.....

Heroes Season 2, Episode 3, Part 5

Maya gets Alejandro out of his cell and he brings her back to normal. That also brings back the americanski in the cell next door. Looks like they have a traveling companion. What are the odds he has powers to go with his car? The Irish robbers make it back to the bar. The guy Peter "overheard" earlier tries to take the money. The bad guy shoots Peter. Of course, Peters heals and slams the guy against the wall. He goes a little dark and almost kills the guy before the Irish girl screams. Hiro is still writing to Ando. Hiro wants to leave but Kensei doesn't want him too. Looks like Kensei is turning out to be the real hero. Kensei walks off with the girl. Hiro decides to stay just a little longer. Sylar has lost his powers. Michelle shows Sylar what she can with her illusions. Then the pyscho whacks her and takes her powers. Sloppily, I'm sure. I love/hate this guy!

Heroes Season 2, Episode 3, Part 4

Peter goes for the armored car. The heist goes bad and Peter uses his power to drag the armored car in front of the guards. Sweet. Suresh goes to the old artists studio. It's a lab for the "company" now. Suresh is in deep. Hiro has a moment. Kensei gets the prize. Niki and Micah go to New Orleans. Niki is dropping Micah off at a relative's. She's going off on her own, probably to do something bad. The relative is Uhuru from Star Trek. Maya goes to the police station to get Alejandro. The fine is 2500 pesos. What is that, like $5? She uses her powers on the cops and makes everyone bleed from the eyes. Including the guy in the cell next to Alejandro. It's a very satanic look. Uhuru is on the show. That's cool. I wonder if she'll be some kind of voodoo queen? That would be the way she could explain her powers.

Heroes Season 2, Episode 3, Part 3

Peter practices his powers but he's still not very good at using them on command. I'm pretty sure the Irish barmaid has the hots for Petie. Alejandro gets to enjoy the well-known hospitality of a mexican jail. Claire, lizard girl, learns about mitosis. West, the flying dude, asks the teacher if a lizard mated with a human and had a child, could it cut off a body part and have it grow back. Claire is not amused. Hiro continues his letter to Ando. Hiro walks with the beautiful japanese heroine. Hiro shows Kensei that he can travel through space and time. Hiro kidnaps Kensei and transports him to fight the 90 angry Ronin. Claire and West have an emotional episode. Claire cries. West picks her up and flies off with her. Smooth move, flying dude.

Heroes Season 2, Episode 3, Part 2

This episode's real name is "Kindred". Claire denies that she cut her own toe off to the peeping tom boy with the book (they talked at school). She doesn't lie well. That whole toe thing was pretty nasty. Matt and Suresh chat in the kitchen in the middle of the night. Molly comes in and get a hug. The whole Matt/Suresh as mommy/daddy to Molly is just weird. Ando gets busted playing computer games. Then he finds a message to himself from Hiro in the past. Hiro tells Ando about meeting Kinsei. Kensei thinks Hiro cursed him because he came back from the dead and heals. How is it possible Kinsei didn't notice his powers already? Wouldn't the ability to heal be something you'd notice pretty young? The whole Hiro going back in time is getting a little bit stupid.

Heroes Season 2, Episode 3, Part 1

Peter will have to help his Irish captors rob an armored truck to get his "box" back. Peter hears (telepathically) one of the captors plans to steal the money for himself. Maya and Alejandro try to steal a car right in front of a mexican cop. Alejandro gets caught when they run away. Niki and the boy visit his father's grave. Sylar wakes up on a beach with a hottie, Michelle. Turns out that Michelle can make illusions and they aren't really on a beach. They're in a storeroom or something. Sylar has a big bloody patch on his chest. The first commercial on the night is a Beyonce AmEx commercial. Second commercial is "30 days of night". That looks like a good movie.

Heroes Season 2, Episode 3 - Sylar's Back!

I've been seeing the ads for tonight's episode of Heroes. The big news is that Sylar is back. He's got his hand on a woman's head and says, "You ARE special, aren't you?" Sweet! I hate Sylar. He sure makes the show interesting though. And Niki is back too! The show starts in 4 minutes. I'll post notes during commercials. LewisC

Saturday, October 06, 2007

FileMaker Pro 9 Advanced: Managing Databases

I know I said in my last review entry that I would create a new database. I decided to save that for next time. Instead, I thought I would do a quick run through of the screens used to manage databases. That is, the screens used to create tables, create and edit fields, set relationships, etc.

As I have come to expect from FileMaker, the tools used to manage databases are very visual. So far, the visual aspect of FileMaker has been its strongest feature, for me anyway.

Manage Database & Value Lists

In the photo above, you can see where I have arrows to two buttons on the tool bar. The button to the left is the "Manage Database" button. The button to the right is the "Manage Value Lists" button. I will explain both of those below.

View Tables When you press the "Manage Database" button, you are taken to the Tables tab. On this tab, you will see all table definitions contained within this file.

Remember the last entry when I created the Recipe database, I saved a single file. In FileMaker, you may have a database file with 1 or more tables. The recipe data is simple enough that only a single table was required. A future application in the series will create a database with multiple tables.

On this screen, in addition to seeing what tables are contained within the file, you can see how many records are stored in the table and how many fields comprise the table.

View Fields The next tab is the fields tab. The fields tab is where you would add, drop or edit a table column. You give a column a name and a data type. You can optionally give it a comment.

The Options button allows you to set additional processing information about the field. Some of the options are Defaults, Calculated Values, Lookup Values, Validation, Editability, Storage, Indexing and even a Japanese translation. I will also cover this field in greater detail in a future review entry.

View Table Relationships The final tab is the relationships tab. There's not much to say about this database because there is only a single table. In a more complex structure, you may link fields in one table to fields in another table. This is called a foreign key and/or referential integrity.

In FileMaker, you may link many tables in a single file, or you may link tables across files. As a matter of a fact, you can create a relationship to a table using an ODBC connection which means you can link to external databases from other vendors. That is a topic I will definitely be covering in the future.

Manage Value Lists The other button I highlighted above, is the "Manage Value Lists" button. The recipe database has a field called category that is pre-populated with a list of values. You use the "Manage Value Lists" to edit the values in that list.

From this window, you can select the value list of interest and press the Edit button. Of course, you can also create and delete lists here.

Edit Value List For your value list, you can either use values stored in a field in this database, in another database or with hard coded values.

Very frequently you will want to use a table as a lookup value. In a system, you will want to share that data across multiple databases. In my next entry, I will create a new database and store the Category lookup value as records in a table. I will then come back and modify the Recipes database to use that database and table.


Friday, October 05, 2007

Heroes Season 2, Episode 2

I call this episode disappointing.

What is up with the Claire story line? The disappearing car? Advertainment? Disappointing.

I do like the fact that the Haitian is back. Claire's dad is jerk but I like the Haitian.

The only real interesting stuff in this episode was Hiro and this was totally predictable. I even mentioned in my last Heroes post:

Kinsei being a brit was a total shock to me. But I can see how Hiro will replace him and be the real Hero. I should have seen that coming.

Ok, it's not surprising anymore. Get on with the story.

I did like that Kinsei seems to have some powers of his own. Does that skew Suresh's dad's theories? How would you explain the break out in powers if the mutation was there a few hundred years ago?

I take what I said back, the Peter portion of the show is getting interesting too. I want to see what's inside the box! He seems to be getting a good handle on his powers too. I had a thought. The alternate future Peter, the one that hooked up with the Las Vegas chick, was kind of dark. I wonder if the new post-nuclear Peter will be dark too?

The Maya story was just more of the same. Get on with it. I get it. She makes people bleed from the eyes. Her brother can make it go away. Whee. Get to the US and start making drama happen.


Wednesday, October 03, 2007

What does integrity mean to you?

My son is taking karate lessons now (he's 4). My wife goes to each class but the class is scheduled while I am at work. After each session, the man who gives the class talks to the students about things like honesty, integrity, honor, etc. Today after the session, the instructor asked the kids if they knew what integrity was. None of then did. The instructor said that if someone drops their glasses, and you see it happen, you should pick up the glasses and return them. At dinner tonight, my wife asked my son what integrity means. He said he didn't remember. My wife said, "What do you do if someone drops their glasses?" My son thought for a moment, "I should pick them up and away?" heh. Kids are great!

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

FileMaker Pro 9 Advanced: Create and Use a Seed Database

Note: Click on any picture to view a larger version of it.

Create Database All Solutions I decided to start off with baby steps. I'm going to create a database using on of the seed definitions. FileMaker comes with a decent selection for most home and small business users. Because I am a cooking affcianado, I decided to use the Recipe seed database.

After selecting the database type, you will get a "file create" dialog. Using this dialog you can put your database wherever you like. This is different from Oracle, PostgreSQL or MySQL where you have a specific data directory(ies).

Recipe Data Entry Screen When using a seed database, FileMaker generates several views for you automatically. You get a form view (for viewing and editing), a list view and a report. The form view comes up automatically after you create the database.

The form has fields on the screen that correspond to columns in your database. The Recipe database is pre-seeded with data so that Category column is already populated with recipe types. If you were building your own database, you would need to populate lists like this.

Chicken Recipe Being a glutton, and a cook to boot, I enter my own Lite and Spicy Chicken recipe.

Before choosing New from the toolbar, I tried to start typing and got the error below. That's not a bad thing. The message told me what I did wrong and what I needed to do to correct it. How many times have you tried to do something using a particular piece of software and the error message made absolutely no sense. Two thumbs up.

Create New Record Message

Recipe Report After entering my recipe, I clicked on the "View This Report" link on the upper toolbar. FileMaker as me if I wanted to save my record. I clicked yes and it did.

The report view is a fairly basic example of the report building tools in FileMaker. I plan to give those tools a work out in the next couple of weeks.

One thumb down here for a non-intuitive return to the edit screeen. It took me several minutes to figure out how to get back. Click on the Continue button at the left and that will return you to the edit screen.

While in the Report view, you can click the PDF icon to generate an Adobe PDF. I will touch on PDFs in future posts.

Edit Form I don't need the note field on my form so I am going to remove it. I would also like to resize the ingredients and instructions fields. I select the form view and above the layout slect list, I choose layout editor button. The layout editor button is towards the upper left of the screen.

I make my changes. To delete the notes label and box, I highlight them and select cut. I highlight the ingredients and instructions boxes (one at a time), and drag to resize. Very basic and normal Windows editing.

Recipe Form Final View I click back on the Browse selector and view my screen.

I created a seed database, used a form to add a record, viewed a report and generated a pdf. I didn't like the default form so I removed one field and resized two others. I did this all in about 10 minutes. Awesome! It took me twice as long to write this blog entry as it did to actually do the work.

Next up, I will create an empty database and build my own form.