Category Archives: Misc.

Destiny….

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Like every year around E3, people go nuts about new games and this year is no different… There’s a few games that have really peaked my interest. I have to admit the latest from Bungie, original creators of “Halo”, the aptly named “Destiny” which is planned to have content for the next ten (10) years… giving you the potential feeling that your character will have a real destiny, was something that I had mixed feelings on. Don’t get me wrong, it looks fantastic, seems like it has an interesting story but the way my gaming habits have changed I wasn’t sure if I wanted to dive into something knowing it’s supposed to be this expansive, so I haven’t pre-ordered it and actually started to kind of ignore some of the videos and news about it. That is, until tonight when I got my Destiny Alpha code… at least now I’ll have a chance to check it out before doing the typical ‘plop down $65 and hope it’s good enough to keep my attention for more than a few days/weeks’. I was originally going to pre-order the game to get the Beta code and just cancel the order before release (if I decided not to get it).

Destiny

I don’t dare install it until tomorrow or Sunday since I know if I do I wont get any of my other work done and I really got to finish cleaning so I don’t have to listen to any more bitching. Funny thing was, if I didn’t get the Alpha invite, I was going to finish Watch Dogs before doing another run of South Park: The Stick of Truth.


Side note, I have a lot of other stuff on my mind that I was going to write about as well, but I’ve procrastinated enough on some of my ‘required’ work.

Category: Misc.

Random Stuff, plus some updates to the custom protocols…

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*What I’m watching or Listening to Now*

Not much of anything since one of my 3TB drives died and took just over 2.5TB of video with it.

*Custom Protocols Update…*

First things first… (Using latest version of browser mentioned)
Firefox:
“Sublime Text” Protocol: Completely working
“Speak” Protocol: Does not encode/decode properly… (fine in Chrome) a.k.a. “This is only a test” whether urldecoded or not gets converted to “This%20is%20only%20a%20test” (since %20 equals a ‘space’) therefore NirCmd will actually say “This percent twenty is percent twenty only percent twenty….” etc.

Here’s the fix for ‘Speak’ in Firefox: (Will only work if you have PHP installed on your development system)

@ECHO OFF
TITLE Archigos NirSpeak
MODE CON COLS=50 LINES=3

ECHO.
ECHO                 Ignore this window

FOR /F "tokens=1,2,3* delims=/" %%a in ("%~1") DO (
  SET Protocol=%%a
  SET String=%%b
)
FOR /F "tokens=1* delims=" %%a in ('php -r "ECHO urldecode('%String%');";') DO SET Talk=%%a
nircmd speak text "%Talk%" && EXIT

Chrome:
I’m not sure when (too lazy to look it up), but with one of the updates to Google Chrome they essentially blocked the use of custom protocols (also called “Handlers”) to a certain extent. The new rules are something akin to your web application “must register the custom URI into Chrome and that it MUST be from the same domain”. This is mainly for security in Chrome Apps, but since we’re doing it for testing, I doubt any of you that are willing to write the C++/C# code required for URI Registration would bother with doing something like this… (however, if you’re interested, you can read about that here.)

Thankfully, getting around this limitation is rather easy for what we want to do, but be warned, make sure you fully trust whatever protocols you use with this method because it essentially turns off all of Chrome’s security for them. Both my Sublime Text and Speak Protocols are safe if you follow the directions, but you could essentially write one that could do harmful actions very easily.

Open up the command prompt and enter the correct location from below based on Operating System:
On Windows 7/8/8.1, the path is: %LOCALAPPDATA%\Google\Chrome\User Data
On Windows Vista: %USERPROFILE%\AppData\Local\Google\Chrome\User Data
On Windows XP: %USERPROFILE%\Local Settings\Application Data\Google\Chrome\User Data

Once the window opens, you have to make sure Chrome is CLOSED because it writes data to the “Local State” which you need to edit (preferably in Sublime Text). If you need to open the “Local State” file in a different editor, make sure that the application doesn’t append a file extension (ex. *.txt)

Inside the “Local State” file, which is in the JSON format, you’re looking for the section called “protocol_handler” which should already have a few entries in it and look similar to the following (line numbers are for demonstration here, the section should be kind of close to the bottom):

  "protocol_handler": {
    "excluded_schemes": {
      "afp": true,
      "data": true,
      "disk": true,
      "disks": true,
      "file": true,
      "hcp": true,
      "javascript": true,
     "mailto": false,
     "ms-help": true,
     "ms-windows-store": false,
     "news": false,
     "nntp": true,
     "shell": true,
     "snews": false,
     "vbscript": true,
     "view-source": true,
     "vnd": {
       "ms": {
         "radio": true
       }
     }
   }
 },

Once you find it, you’re going to want to add two lines to this file (I placed them so they stayed alphabetical like the rest)… setting the value to ‘false’ means that the protocol will be used, and ‘true’ means ignore it for security reasons.

  "protocol_handler": {
    "excluded_schemes": {
      "afp": true,
      "data": true,
      "disk": true,
      "disks": true,
      "file": true,
      "hcp": true,
      "javascript": true,
     "mailto": false,
     "ms-help": true,
     "ms-windows-store": false,
     "news": false,
     "nntp": true,
     "shell": true,
     "snews": false,
     "speak": false,
     "subl": false,
     "vbscript": true,
     "view-source": true,
     "vnd": {
       "ms": {
         "radio": true
       }
     }
   }
 },

As you can see on lines 17 and 18, I added both protocols that I created and made sure to match the names used. If you only created one of them, do NOT create an entry for the opposite one. Save the file, open Chrome, test your page with the protocol examples… if you don’t have one, create a new PHP file accessible from ‘localhost’ and paste the following code for a quick and dirty test:

<?php
  $filename = urlencode(__FILE__);
  $string   = "This is only a test...";
  echo "<a href='subl://$filename'>Sublime Test</a><br />";
  echo "<a href='speak://$string'>Speak Test</a>";
?>

*Testing Environment*

A few people have asked once or twice about possibly doing a full write-up of my main test environments (both Web Design and HTPC related) so if people post a response on Facebook if they are interested in either (or both) I’ll possibly create a new page on this site dedicated to it (because it’ll probably be multiple posts and pretty long).


*In regards to last post*
I left this to the end of the post so those looking for the technical stuff above could skip it.
The person I was talking about still wishes to stay anonymous for as long as possible, mainly due to the stigma I had previously mentioned, but stated that since I mentioned it already I could give a little update. Now, it’s not uncommon for people undergoing the initial changes from mental illness to think “No, I’m normal, if you don’t see/hear/etc. it the way I do, you’re the one that’s wrong” and I think the main problem with the first few sets of doctors were that they did NOT take this into account and observe the behaviors shown and it didn’t help, that he apparently withheld a lot of information for this same reason. I think it was around the third set of doctors we found that started to notice not everything was being said, or that some things being said weren’t necessarily the truth (not that he was intentionally lying, it was based on his ‘distorted’ point of view). This doctor narrowed things down to the point where they debated on if it was some form of extreme bi-polar disorder or (as I suspected) Schizophrenia, the latter ending up being the actual diagnosis.

I think when I was invited to see the doctor with him so the three of us could talk together and I could point out my observations or when details were misinterpreted helped him realize the extent of the paranoia and other symptoms were. The doctor gave him a different type of medication and although most of the symptoms seemed to lessen, you could tell he was still struggling with things. Thankfully, sticking with the current doctor, changing medications and/or dosages a few times, and other forms of support, he seems to have gotten most things under control and for the most part, none of what is going on is noticeable to those that weren’t told at least something prior.

Category: Misc. | Tags:

A lot… of random… well, life happens!

*What I’m Watching or Listening to Now*
Who cares?

*Random Question* OR *Random Quote*
No really, who cares? Actually, the real question is the age-old… “Why do bad things happen to good people?” Don’t get me wrong, the ‘good’ person in question is far from a Saint, but they never really did anything to anyone, in fact, for the most part, they just kept to themselves.

I know a common theme in a chunk of my posts is about wanting to write more often, but this is one of the rare cases where I didn’t ‘forget’ or ‘just didn’t get around to it’ and had a real reason to not write. The person mentioned above hasn’t given me permission to write about them so I’m not going to post many details and try my best not to identify them in any way (other than he’s obviously male). Mental illness is something that a lot of people in today’s society look down upon and sadly way to many people view people with pretty much any form of mental illness as inferior. There’s varying forms of illness and in almost every case the person suffering is in no way at fault for what they must endure. Yes, I’m rambling, and I don’t give a shit… there’s so much going through my head, especially what they are going through, how quickly it seems to be progressing, and the fact that there’s nothing I can do to help them.

I’ve dealt with my share of doctors the last few years since my issues started, some were wonderful, some were complete fucking idiots, but in my case, after the initial scans, the doctors all agreed, “it’s cancer” and after going to a specialist and another set of scans, they figured out what kind… Now the treatment for it was another story altogether, but my point here isn’t trying to lessen the seriousness of Cancer and I know there’s many patients that have it a lot worse than I did, but to say that’s there’s a big difference with doing a body scan, finding a tumor and saying, “here’s where we have to concentrate on” as opposed to admitting that as humans and all the advancements we’ve made, there’s still a shit load about the human brain that we just don’t understand. Case in point, the many doctors that he’s gone to see have all been utterly useless to this point, either saying things that a kid that barely passed high school biology would be like “Um, no, that’s not right.” or essentially just says “Here, take these pills and it’ll fix it” when those pills aren’t even related to anything remotely close. It’s like giving thyroid medication to a guy that accidentally cut off his finger and saying “This should make it grow back.”.

Even my extremely limited knowledge of mental illness, the different kinds, etc. lead me to believe that all the things I’ve witnessed him demonstrate over the (roughly) last two months point towards Schizophrenia and as I said above, certain aspects seem to be progressing. It’s difficult to talk openly about things like this considering the perceived stigmata attached and I’ve been meaning to do research (not just on the disease, but on forms of help, like hotlines, etc.). In fact, after I finish this post, I’m going to start said research and make a few phone calls.


There’s so much on my mind, about this, about my medical issues (which have been causing some more difficulties lately as well), projects I’m working on, etc. The list could go on for pages but I’m sure that’ll just drive away the few readers I have left. But on a two-part closing note, I wanted to thank a good friend of mine that I know reads this blog and I’ve talked with about all of the above stuff and even though he doesn’t even live in the same state anymore, he’s been there and is the only person I trust to talk with about this stuff (at this stage anyway). If and when things become a little more public I may revisit this topic in more detail, describing some of the things I’ve witnessed first hand, outlets for people to find help or anything else that I’ve learned and think may help others in similar situations. The second point is most of the readers that view this (if they’ve stayed around this long) probably came from a link via my Facebook page and if you know of any good resources (other than Wikipedia) about Schizophrenia including hot-lines or whatever (please no links to buy a book on Amazon or things of that nature) please comment on the Facebook post with the information. Lastly, please refrain from negative comments, guesses at the person’s identity, or general assholeishness as this is a sincere request for help and/or information.

Category: Misc.

Couple Small Updates…

*What I’m Watching or Listening to Now*

Random Marathon O’ Shit… *rolls eyes*

*Random Question* OR *Random Quote*

I’ve been working on a few projects again recently where the developers are from all over the world, so English comes in a variety of ‘good’, ‘bad’, ‘broken’, and ‘what the fuck did he say?’… Anyway, the ‘question of the day’ has nothing to do with working/dealing with foreign speakers or even about how they view Americans. Instead, the question is why does America have such an endless supply of morons that make us all look bad to the rest of the world? Here’s an example… I was at the McDonald’s drive-thru a few days ago and could hear the woman in the vehicle ahead of me order.

Customer: “Do you have a pen?”
Employee: “Do you need a pen ma’am?”
C: “No, it’s for you, I have a really big order and you better not screw it up.”
E: “Don’t worry about that ma’am, the register takes care of all that when I enter it in.”
C: “Fine, I have a coupon for the Whopper… it’s a buy one get one free, but before you ring that up …”
E: {interrupts} “We don’t serve the Whopper, did you mean a Big Mac?”
C: “I don’t care what you call it, I have a coupon. Now, as I was saying, before you ring up the first one, I want that free one to be my second order
before I have another coupon that’s buy one get one free and so that first one is going to be my free one from the second coupon.”
E: “Ma’am, it doesn’t work that way…”
C: {interrupts} “Don’t tell me how it works, I pay your salary with my taxes you little punk” {Note: the guy sounded like he was in his 30’s}
E: “Ma’am, is there any way you could come into the lobby and we can figure this out?”
C: “I will not come in, I’m in line already because I’m in a hurry.”
E: “Sorry about that ma’am, please pull around to your second window and I’ll have a Manager waiting to speak to you.”

The woman pulled around and I was finally able to order. After pulling around myself I noticed she was still parked in front of the window yelling at the manager because they wouldn’t take her coupons. At one point she just screamed “Give me my g*d damn Whopper” and the employee said “Then go to Burger King where your coupons are for a whopper, we have the Big Mac here… She pulled away from the window towards the road so I moved ahead, got my food, and had to sit there because the stupid bitch still hadn’t pulled out of the parking lot and there wasn’t enough room to leave. 🙁 All in all, I felt bad for the employee and probably wasted about 20-25 minutes of all of our lives because she wasn’t even at the right place.

P.S. I think I got food poisoning that night as well.

*Actual updates*

As I stated above, I’ve been working on some projects lately (directly and some indirectly) that I’m rather excited about. Below are just a few that I can share, in no specific order:

NextGen Portal

This project has changed so much since originally being introduced somewhere around a year ago. It’s changed hands a bit, it’s been fully rewritten from scratch multiple times… pretty much everything is different, except it’s core purpose. As the first part of the name suggests, this project takes the original “HTPC Portal” to the next generation.

History:

Technically it all started with the ‘basics’ (SickBeard, CouchPotato, Headphones, and a few others) which spawned both MediaFrontPage and Maraschino. XBMC Forum user “hernandito” created a ‘wrapper’ for Maraschino that had a slight resemblance to MFP (don’t remember if that was intentional) in purpose. Not long after its initial creation, I took over the lead of “HTPC Portal”, while continuing to work with hernandito I rewrote his version in PHP and started adding a few things here and there. The project kind of fizzled after a few active months, mostly due to my medical issues, but since most of the site worked properly and there weren’t really any ‘death bugs’ I kind of lost interest. Fast forward to the end of the year and I decided to silently start working on it again (haven’t updated anything on GitHub yet). I’ve written the entire thing from scratch adding a whole pile of new features and should be ready for some beta testers soon.

New Features:

  • Entire Framework Built Specifically with HTPC related features
  • Quick Switching between HTPC Apps (SB, CP, Sab, etc.)
  • Image ‘Checker’ (for now, scans your media sources and allows you to monitor for missing ‘folder.jpg’, ‘fanart.jpg’, ‘logo.png’, etc.)
  • Simple Editing/Updating of certain XBMC Database fields (Hopefully more can/will be added) : No MySQL support, internal database only at this time
  • Other stuff I can’t think of right now…

HTML Generator

I’m not attached to this project.
In under a month since the first public release, the author DeadSix has taken a wonderful app for HTPC enthusiasts to show off their media collection to friends and family and made it even better. A few days after initial release DeadSix and I started talking, I mainly was giving bug reports, some feature suggestions, and beta testing. When he introduced the ability to select a theme to the generated output I wrote two themes that are included with the app and plan on updating these as needed for future versions and possibly adding more of them later.

Some Select Features:

List based on latest version at time of writing (6.2)

  • Auto (or Manual) scan of your XBMC Database (MySQL Support coming soon*)
  • View both poster and fanart (optional) image for each show/movie (if available)
    • Click either of these images to bring up fancybox (per video)
  • MediaInfo (Codec) scanning of media details
  • Ability to sort your TV/Movies (by name, date released, last played, XBMC ID, File Size, Resolution)
  • Auto Generation (start program with ‘/auto’ switch)
  • Ability to show/hide pretty much anything
    • Trailers (plays inline from YouTube)
    • Generated On
    • Last Played
    • File Size
    • Release Date
    • Episode Count
    • Studio
    • Rating
    • Info Link (Displays IMDB/TVDB/AniDB link for media)

*Listed as an upcoming feature on first post of thread
More information available about “HTML Generator” on its XBMC Forum Thread.
htmlgen

So Far Unnamed Project

A new C# project I was contracted for in regards to network management… Once I finish it I’ll talk to them about maybe releasing it (in whole or in parts). I’ve always been more akin to the web development side of programming so this is my first C# application, but as DeadSix seems to say, “All programming is the same, you know one, you know them all” and I have to say that I’ve learned a lot so far with this app and Dead’s right in the sense that I’m picking it up quicker than I had originally thought. Granted there are a few things that take some getting used to but if I realized they were this close I probably would have made the jump years ago and been able to make some ‘real’ money on a more regular basis.

The Rest

I have two other projects I’m working on, the first should be done by this weekend and the other one is just one of those “doing it for myself” kind of things that I’ll get done some time… or more likely never. But I’ve been working on this post on and off for hours (TV is distracting) and it’s after 5am so I’m going to bed and I’ll try to start posting more often again. Well, one last thing, speaking of posting more often, part of the reason I haven’t been posting to often for the last six months or so is I got back into using Facebook (mainly to get certain friends to stop hounding me about it) but now I’m back to the “Fuck Facebook” mentality, so I’ll try writing here instead.

Category: Misc.

HTPC Community

About 12 hours ago or so I made a post on the XBMC Forums in regards to my current status in the HTPC Community. So far there have been no replies after my message so I was unsure if anyone bothered to read it (or care) however after doing some things on my laptop that required a restart, when Windows 8 booted back up I noticed above average hits to my blog from yesterday and although I haven’t actually checked where the hits came from yet, I’m going to assume at least a chunk of them were in regards to that post.

For those of you confused about the above, the jist of it is as follows: I’ve been part of the HTPC Community (mainly for XBMC) for a number of years and have always tried to help out where I can… I was one of the co-creators of the original XBMC BlackMarket (back in the days when XBMC was on the original Microsoft Xbox), I’ve hosted numerous forums/wiki’s dedicated to some of the third party applications/services used in conjunction with XBMC and lately I have (with permission from the developer) created a forum dedicated to “XBMC Constellation” (created by Dawid of FSS.cc) and have provided a majority of their tech support via the XBMC and Constellation Forums. All of this… past and present has been done in my spare time with me eating any costs that has incurred for these activities.

Pretty much everyone (regular blog readers and even members that frequent the XBMC Constellation specific threads) knows that I have had a lot of medical issues for the past few years and because of this, I don’t have a job, therefore I’m on a very limited income with disability… Sadly, the main computer I used for my HTPC, as well as the debug/test system for a lot of the tech support I provide decided to die and I have yet to figure out the cause of it. Partly because of the ‘holiday season’ just getting over and mainly because disability doesn’t pay much of anything, I can’t afford to outright replace the computer (as far as I know, all the hard drives did survive, at least I hope they did) and since I don’t have a system to run XBMC, any of the third party apps/services, or to house any of my media I have decided to temporarily leave the HTPC scene and concentrate on my health. I believe this option is best since I wouldn’t feel right about giving out tech support/advice when I’m forced to guess most of what I’m telling the user to do because I can’t check my system to look up the exact procedure they’d need to fix their issue.

A friend and fellow HTPC enthusiast that I talked with briefly before writing the XBMC Post stated I shouldn’t feel bad about asking the community for help, especially with all I’ve given back when I can and he recommended setting up a donation which I will provide the link at the bottom of this post.

Before I post the donation link I wanted to explain exactly where all the money would be going, how it’s determined, etc. so I don’t have users thinking this is some form of scam or “Hey, I didn’t give you money for that…” type of things.

The first important thing I want to point out… Yes, the donations are going to ME personally, not some group, not some company… after PayPal (the ones processing the donations) take any of their applicable fees, 100% of the remaining donations will be going towards me building a new HTPC/Server. If I get enough donations to cover the cost of building the new system, any money left over will be going solely to help cover my medical costs… I will NOT be ‘blowing the money’ on stupid stuff, I wont waste it on random things… it will be going either in my gas tank for my trips to/from doctors, or go towards paying my medical bills. Once the Server is paid (by myself and/or donations) I will update the post with that information and let people know that if they continue to donate via the link it will be going solely to medical at that point and no longer towards hardware (again so I don’t piss people off or make them think they are donating for the wrong thing).

Anyway, it’s 1:34am here and I have to be awake kind of early in the morning so I’ll make another post sometime over the weekend if I can.

Read above for more information on this donate button before clicking:

I also wanted to thank everyone ahead of time that is willing and able enough to donate, I really don’t want to leave the HTPC Community, I just can’t foresee the ability to do this on my own any time soon.

Category: Misc.