A Blonde Moment
By: Negafox On: 08/21/2008 00:22:53 In: Personal
My wife and I went to Target in Aliso Viejo this evening to purchase rechargeable batteries for our daughter's swing. We waited in line for awhile and eventually noticed the couple in front of us was swiping various credit cards for a purchase only to have all their cards declined. Finally, they asked the cashier if he can enter one of their credit card numbers into the cash register to have it accepted. He acknowledged this can be done only if they provide an ID. Amusingly, the blonde lady supplied her supposed driver's license which depicted an Asian. Yes, the woman on the driver's license was an Asian. At this point the cashier advised us to switch to another cash register.

If I did not know any better, I suspect that the couple were attempting to purchase approximately 2-3 carts full of items with stolen or lost credit cards. If you are going to attempt to use stolen credit cards and identification, make sure that the picture resembles you.
Baby Zaniness
By: Negafox On: 08/10/2008 21:24:09 In: Personal
I was watching my wife play The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past on the Nintendo Wii when out of nowhere our daughter, Zefie, made the most random sound yet. She somehow made a sound that resembled water dripping into a metal pot in the sink. Needless to say, after hearing this sound we were cracking up for the next few minutes.

Zefie also decided tonight that diapers are grossly overrated and unnecessary, thus she does not need to wear them. Apparently, Zefie decided that turning her crib into yellow swimming pool would be much more interesting than a mere bed. No diving into the pool please!
Honey, I Lost My Z's
By: Negafox On: 07/17/2008 20:12:11 In: Personal
Last Friday, the NICU at the Saddleback Memorial hospital left a message on my wife’s cell phone that our daughter, Zefie, was ready to be discharged. The revelation was a bit surprising considering that she was only being bottle-fed for six out of eight meals to conserve energy since the NICU did not feel she was ready to advance to being bottle-fed for every meal. Since I was at work, I pushed the QA (Quality Assurance) department to sign-off on the latest build of an internal bug-tracking tool I develop. Once I obtained approval close to noon, the binaries were compiled along with the database schema and Stored Procedure update script, wrote an e-mail to a companion department to deploy the build, and then headed out for the remainder of the day and following week to continue paternity leave.

My wife and I arrived at the NICU early in the afternoon to sign the discharge papers and finally bring our daughter home for the first time. We spent a solid few hours at the NICU where we watched a child safety seat video, demonstrated CPR on a baby dummy to the nursing staff, and practiced parenting duties such as changing diapers and bottle-feeding. At around five o’ clock, my wife and daughter were escorted to the car in a wheelchair, thus ending our ordeal of driving to the hospital up to a few times a day for an hour or two at a time to visit our daughter.

The first night was definitely an exhausting and stressful experience as we repeatedly checked on the baby every ten to fifteen minutes wondering if the baby was still breathing since she was quiet – a bit too quiet. Nearly a week later and I miss sleep already as our daughter frequently awakes throughout the night for diaper changes, feedings, and comfort out of sheer boredom. Fortunately, I am on paternity leave this week to assist my wife with taking care of our daughter. After the first dozen awakenings throughout the night, baby care becomes second nature as one becomes accustomed to waking up in semi-daze performing parental duties and falling back asleep with little recollection.

Childbirth and caring for a baby is not the euphoric experience some potential mothers might envision. However, there is much joy and satisfaction to watching your own child reach each developmental milestone. Despite the sleepless nights where the baby may desire – no, demand – hours of attention at ungodly hours, it brings a smile to one’s face when you watch your baby entertained by your own goofy behavior such as holding her in the air and flying her around the house making airplane noises with your mouth; or the indescribable emotion of when your baby snuggles against your chest and falls asleep.

While being a first time parent is not a cakewalk by any stretch of the imagination, it is one I would not trade anything in the world for.
A Father's Day Baby
By: Negafox On: 06/16/2008 14:13:45 In: Personal
In a strange turn of events, I ended up being able to celebrate Father's Day this year. On Sunday, I was playing Metal Gear Solid 4 when my wife quickly scurried into the bathroom. Since I was in the middle of a boss battle, I thought nothing of this until she yelled something was wrong. I glanced over and notice a trail of blood leading into the bathroom and we immediately went to the hospital. Shortly after we arrived at the hospital, the doctors recommended and performed an emergency c-section since the placenta was detaching from my wife's uterus. Our daughter, Zefie, was born at 9:20 PM PDT on Father's Day with fatherhood hitting me like a sack of bricks.

My wife and I are still at the hospital since she has not been discharged yet, and our daughter will likely remain at the NICU until July 27th since she is premature. The hospital offers free wireless access, so I will be online throughout the week using my laptop.
A Day in Court
By: Negafox On: 05/22/2008 16:54:56 In: Personal
Two months ago, I unfortunately received a letter and traffic citation in the mail relating to the car accident on February 18th. Apparently, the other party lied and supplied so-called witnesses that claimed that I blatantly sped and ran a red light. The Orange County Sheriff’s department cited me for failing to yield right-of-way in the intersection and felt that the other party was legally in the intersection. After obtaining the report and spending numerous hours putting together my defense, I decided to opt to contest the traffic citation in court in a trial. Shortly after the car accident, I discovered I accidentally obtained absolute proof of what exactly happened during the accident. Thus, I am the only person who can prove who is actually at fault and what actually happened. After combing over the police report with a fine-tooth comb, I detailed numerous factual errors and inconsistencies. Additionally, the Orange County Sheriff’s department never determined several important factors include speed of either vehicle. So, in April, I went to the Harbor Justice Center in Laguna Hills, requested to contest the citation in trial, and paid bail.

Last Tuesday, my wife and I went to the Harbor Justice Center in Laguna Hills to attend trial for the traffic citation. We waited outside the courtroom doors until they opened about ten minutes late. Once the doors opened, the bailiff had everybody enter the court with law enforcement on the left-side, and defendants and witnesses seated on the right-side in the jury area. The judge read off the names of each defendant, officer, and witness to determine who was present in the courtroom. After reading the names, I waited in the jury area as there were four other cases before mine. Three of the defendants were likely banking that the officer would fail to show but opted for traffic school when the officer did show. The fourth defendant attempted to contest the traffic citation, but ultimately failed when the judge ruled he was guilty.

Finally, the judge called my name and summoned me to the defendant's table. The officer took a seat at the plaintiff's table and summoned numerous witnesses into the seats behind him to testify against me. The judge has the prosecution start their case in which the citing officer drew a diagram of the intersection onto a chalkboard and describe his version of events. The judge asked me if I agreed and I made some corrections as they were going to be important later in my defense. Afterwards, each witness was summoned to testify against me. After a witness testified, I was allowed an opportunity to cross-examine the witness where I attempted to exploit the witness’ inconsistencies and flaws in their testimony. After all the witnesses were summoned, the judge finally paused for a second and informed the prosecution that they have no credible witnesses (including the other party). The judge further elaborated that since this is a criminal trial, he is not convinced I might be guilty based upon the prosecution’s evidence and witnesses, and thus, there is no reason for the trial to continue. The judge finally ruled that I was not guilty and banged his gavel. Finally, each party, the witnesses, and the citing officer left the courtroom, and then the citing officer held a debriefing where he thanked the witnesses for their testimony and not to be discouraged because justice did not prevail. I joined in the crowd and eventually the officer noticed my presence, so he pulled me aside to have a private discussion about how I should consider myself lucky to have won the case. I informed him that I had considerable evidence to prove my innocent should the trial have proceeded any further. I explained that I had concrete proof the other party and witnesses were lying under oath including elaborating on the evidence I had (I brought a binder with documents and a notebook computer in the courtroom for a reason). The court clerk called my name, so I left the conversation to receive a document detailing the verdict and results from the clerk.

Fortunately, I never revealed to the other party or witnesses what evidence I have against everybody. I cannot reveal the evidence online since the other party, a lawyer, or an insurance company might find this website. However, all in all, the pendulum has swung in my favor.
Birthday Girl
By: Negafox On: 04/13/2008 19:59:04 In: Personal
Today, my wife is officially one year older. Over the course of the weekend, I made my wife an ice cream cake for her birthday. The cake part is fudge brownie, the ice cream is chocolate fudge brownie, and there is whipped vanilla frosting on top. This afternoon, we went to Cheesecake Factory at the Irvine Spectrum to eat lunch, and then returned home to go swimming since it has been a warm weekend in Southern California. It was a good, if not delicious, day indeed.

For your viewing pleasure, I present a slice of cake.
Red Light... Green Light!
By: Negafox On: 02/18/2008 23:40:18 In: Personal
Sometimes life can be a bit of a mixed bag. On one hand, this was a three-day weekend because of President's Day. Ah! -- the joys of an extra day off of work! However, sometimes unexpected things can happen to dampen the mood. In the end, one must look to the positive aspects to continue on through life.

My wife and I ate lunch out in Aliso Viejo. I ordered a house special chicken lunch special from Pick-up Stix while my wife ordered chicken alfredo from Pasta Bravo. After lunch, my wife and I went clothes shopping and I purchased a new pin-striped over shirt. After we were finished shopping at the plaza, we were driving home to play World of Warcraft – for the umpteenth millionth time. Unfortunately, unexpected events can happen in our lives which can interrupt our plans, or even the course of one’s life. The former will be more accurate than the latter in this case.

On the way home from our afternoon outing, we were waiting for the traffic light to turn green. Once the light turned green, the intersection appeared to be clear, so I started to proceed to drive through. Unfortunately, a white van appeared to have run what appeared to be a red light and we ended up in a collision with my car flying towards the right. I was able to drive into the spin to pull the car over to the side of the road. After getting out of the car, our vehicle's front-end was smashed and the passenger door was unable to be opened. My wife had to climb out of the back doors to get out of the car. Initially, the other party openly admitted that our light was green while theirs "suddenly turned red". Can we say "beat the light"? A so-called witness stepped in and provided useless information that completely contradicted the stories that myself and the other party claimed. The witness attempted to claim that our light was red and the other party had a green light. Sorry, ma’am, but both parties are in agreement that I had the green light.

Eventually, an ambulance took my wife and I to the hospital as preemptive measures to ensure the baby was alright. Fortunately, the baby turned out fine in the ultrasound and we even learned the baby’s gender: female. Yes, we are going to have a daughter. My wife did not fare so well and she has a fractured knee. She will be on crutches for at least the next four weeks and will be out of work for the next few days. The sheriff's deputy eventually showed up at the hospital to obtain information for the report and harassed me that the entire situation was my fault. Excuse me? I was merely proceeding through a green light while the other party openly admitted to the police officer they were trying to beat the light. The entire accident would have never happened if the other party was not driving so recklessly. The intersection appeared clear so I attempted to proceed through during a green light. The officer was acting like I must have been distracted from possibly a cell phone call or music. I later discovered I accidentally recorded the entire conversation with the other party on my cell phone and they blatantly admitted they ran the light completely red – their light was not even yellow.

The story with the car accident will continue and I am quite sure there will be some fallout. Despite the bad, there were some good as well. We have friends to count on who were there to assist us in our hour of need. Additionally, we now know our baby is a girl. We can now call her "she" instead of "it". She now has an identity, and that makes it feel all the more surreal.
Rock Band
By: Negafox On: 12/08/2007 22:00:20 In: Personal
Last night, my workplace held a Christmas party at a hotel in Anaheim, CA. After eating dinner and spending a few hours at a table with my coworkers, I left the party early to pick-up Rock Band for the Xbox 360 at Best Buy. I originally intended to purchase Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock, however, I was unable to find a bundled copy at several stores.

Rock Band unsurprisingly turned out to be an excellent music-based game. Developed by Harmonix, the developers behind the Guitar Hero series, Rock Band feels like what Guitar Hero III would have been if they continued the series. The game plays similarly to the first two Guitar Hero games; however, two new instruments are now supported: drums and microphone for singing. Additional changes include separate boards onscreen to display notes for each player, and completely customizable characters (hair, skin, eye color, shirt, pants, boots, etc.) I highly recommend the game to any fans of the Guitar Hero or Karaoke in general.

Currently, I am playing as the lead guitar and my wife, Heidi, is alternating between the drummer and singer. As we progress through the game we will likely start playing online on Xbox Live.
PC World Names MacBook Pro The Fastest Vista Machine
By: Negafox On: 10/29/2007 16:45:03 In: Technology
PC World magazine has named the Apple MacBook Pro the fastest Microsoft Windows Vista notebook of the year. According to PC World magazine, "The fastest Windows Vista notebook we've tested this year is a Mac. Try that again: The fastest Windows Vista notebook we've tested this year--or for that matter, ever--is a Mac. Not a Dell, not a Toshiba, not even an Alienware. The $2419 (plus the price of a copy of Windows Vista, of course) MacBook Pro's PC WorldBench 6 Beta 2 score of 88 beats Gateway's E-265M by a single point, but the MacBook's score is far more impressive simply because Apple couldn't care less whether you run Windows."
ATI Radeon HD 3800 / DirectX 10.1 White Paper Leaked
By: Negafox On: 10/28/2007 08:40:15 In: Technology
A white paper containing information on the upcoming RV670 graphics chip from ATI as well as new features and benefits of Microsoft DirectX 10.1 ATI. The white paper can be found on Team ATI's website. Some of the information learned from this white paper is that ATI's next generation graphics card will likely be the ATI Radeon HD 3800 which will feature DirectX 10.1 support, 55nm transistor design, and support PCI Express 2.0 Interestingly, it seems that DirectX 10.1 will support more realistic lighting that objects can obstruct light sources creating more realistic sense of depth and more accurate lighting effects.

In case the white paper is removed, here is some of the information:

Microsoft® DirectX® 10.1 is the latest application programming interface from Microsoft that unlocks the state of the art in GPU technology, represented by the ATI Radeon™ HD 3800 series. Key features include an updated shader model, improved anti-aliasing support, more flexible data access, and tighter specifications for better application compatibility.

These features will enable exciting new techniques, such as real-time global illumination, that will define the future direction of interactive 3D graphics.

DirectX 10 was one of the most significant updates to the API since its inception. DirectX 10.1 represents an evolutionary update that addresses some of the limitations identified after the specification was finalized. DirectX 10.1 support will be coming to the Windows Vista™ operating system with the release of a service pack in early 2008. For many years, ATI was at the forefront of DirectX technology development, working actively with Microsoft to identify and implement new graphics features. The merger of ATI with AMD in 2006 not only continues this tradition, but also enables new possibilities for platform-level synergies between the GPU, CPU, and system chipset.

The new ATI Radeon HD 3800 series of GPUs are the first to be designed for DirectX 10.1, as well as other cutting edge technologies, including PCI Express 2.0, Unified Video Decoder (UVD), hardware accelerated tessellation, and power efficient 55nm transistor design. The products are perfectly positioned to deliver the best experience in not only today’s games, but also in next-generation titles releasing in 2008 and beyond.

This paper describes the new features of DirectX 10.1, and provides a number of examples showing how they can be put to use. To help illustrate these techniques, AMD has created an accompanying interactive game called PingPong. This game makes extensive use of the DirectX 10.1 features on ATI Radeon HD 3800 series products to highlight the benefits in a fun and informative way.
Mac OS X Leopard Review Coming
By: Negafox On: 10/27/2007 20:30:07 In: Software
Next Saturday, I will be posting a full review of Mac OS X Leopard. The review will be more comprehensive than those posted by professional reviewers as I will focus on comparisons and benchmarks between Mac OS X Tiger (10.4.10), Mac OS X Leopard (10.5.0), and Microsoft Windows Vista Home Premium 64-Bit Edition. Using the the 20" iMac with a 2.4 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor, 4 GB RAM, and ATI Radeon 2600 Pro as the test system, I intend to focus on the performance difference between the three operating systems as well as a comparison of features and whether Mac OS X Leopard is worth the upgrade.
iMac + Microsoft Windows Vista = ?
By: Negafox On: 10/24/2007 00:09:10 In: Technology
Recently, I have been experimenting with installing a legitimate copy of Microsoft Windows Vista onto my new 20" iMac. Unfortunately, the entire experience has been a complete nightmare as the HFS+ partition becomes corrupt after installing Microsoft Windows Vista via Boot Camp 1.4 beta. Even worse yet is the fact that Microsoft Windows Vista is unable to complete the installation process as it is unable to find missing files on the installation disc about 96% into the installation. I have had to reinstall Mac OS X 10.4.10 twice within the past week as a result of the failed Windows install.

I downloaded VMWare Fusion 1.1 beta and created a 64 GB virtual disk this evening. Thus far, Microsoft Windows Vista installed flawlessly with VMWare Fusion and the performance is quite fast – more responsive than a Remote Desktop connection. I will likely purchase Mac OS X Leopard this weekend with the hope that the final Boot Camp build may be more stable with installing Microsoft Windows onto another partition.

Currently, I am using my 20.1" Dell LCD monitor as a secondary monitor with Mac OS X on one monitor and Microsoft Windows Vista on the other monitor for software development purposes. In coming weeks, I will upgrade the RAM to 4 GB and swap the 320 GB hard drive out for a 500 GB SATA hard drive.
iMac Review
By: Negafox On: 10/18/2007 00:22:56 In: Technology
Recently, the video cards in my wife and mine’s computers were fried as a result of a bad power supply, so I decided it was time to replace my existing computer. My computer was a home-built Intel Core 2 Duo E6400 machine with 2 GB DDR2/800 RAM, 500 GB SATA/300 hard drive, and an NVIDIA GeForce 7800 GT video card. I decided to pass my old computer to my wife and purchase a new computer. Rather than build another computer for the umpteenth time, I decided to purchase an iMac to experiment with dual booting via Boot Camp. I decided to purchase the 20” iMac equipped with an Intel Core 2 Duo 2.4 GHz processor, 320 GB SATA hard drive, and an ATI Radeon HD 2600 Pro video chipset.

Apple is notorious for releasing buggy software or flawed first-generation hardware. Unfortunately, the latest iMacs are no different as Apple was likely well-aware that there were performance and instability issues with their graphic drivers. Straight out of the box, most games were crashing repeatedly and the machine would intermittently freeze. The latest software updates (iMac Software Update 1.1 in particular) heavily improved stability, but it is apparent that Apple knowingly released hardware with flawed drivers to meet a deadline. In addition, despite the latest software updates, graphic performance is quite poor for running World of Warcraft as I am only achieving around 31 FPS while standing in an open field with anti-aliasing disabled at a 1680x1050 resolution. I heavily suspect that Apple still needs to optimize the ATI drivers for Mac OS X and its OpenGL implementation, in which we will likely see happen with Mac OS X Leopard.

Another gripe with the aluminum iMacs is with the bundled Mighty Mouse. There are numerous issues with the Mighty Mouse that prevent it from being remotely useful for a Windows convert's use. When right-clicking is enabled through the Preferences, the Mighty Mouse detects right-clicks as left-clicks if there is any pressure on the left-side. To get the Mighty Mouse to register right-clicks properly, one has to literally make sure their hand is not touching the left-side of the mouse at all. Also, clicking the left and right mouse buttons simultaneously does not appear to be supported. I recall the Mighty Mouse having these issues when it was first released two years ago, but it is unfortunate the problems still persist.

The aluminum iMacs has some positive aspects as well. Despite the unusual thin design of the keyboard, it is actually quite comfortable and will likely be mimicked by competition within a year. Once Apple releases more optimized and stable ATI graphic drivers -- whether it be another software update for Tiger or a requirement to purchase Leopard under the guise of Leopard = improved gaming performance -- the aluminum iMac may shape up to be one hell of a machine.

Pros:
- Aluminum case and glass screen provide a unique appearance and style over existing computer designs.
- Keyboard utilizes thin buttons which feels more natural after some extended usage.
- Integrated mic and webcam function well straight out of the box. Mic range works well even from a standard sitting distance.

Cons:
- Games will experience severe instability without the iMac Software Update 1.1. Even with the latest software updates installed, there are still various graphical issues.
- Gaming performance is poor . World of Warcraft runs between 28-32 FPS at 1680x1050 with anti-aliasing disable but all other graphical settings set at maximum in an outdoor setting. Do not even ask what Orgrimmar’s frame rate is.

Overall:
I heavily recommend waiting until Mac OS X Leopard (10.5.1) is released for more optimized ATI video drivers and OpenGL implementation. Given Apple’s track record with release products and software before they are ready to meet deadlines, I would recommend waiting until the first patch after Leopard is released for improved stability and performance. Leopard will likely contain ATI video drivers more optimized for Mac OS X rather than a poor straight port from the Microsoft Windows drivers.

Ultimately, I plan on setting up Boot Camp, install Windows Vista Home Premium 64-Bit Edition on a separate partition, install 4 GB RAM, and swap out the 320 GB hard drive out for a 500 GB hard drive next month. I will likely cover experiences with Mac OS X Leopard, manually upgrading hardware, and Boot Camp in coming weeks.
Street Fighter IV Officially Announced
By: Negafox On: 10/17/2007 22:20:52 In: Software
Today, at the Capcom Gamers Day in London, England, Capcom finally unveiled the long-awaited Street Fighter IV. After a decade hiatus, Capcom released a teaser trailer depicting Ryu and Ken fighting in a nighttime outdoor settings, and ending with Ryu throwing a fireball leading to the official Street Fighter IV logo. The teaser trailer featured stylized 3D graphics that resembled a painting -- somewhat similar to Frank Miller's work. Gamespot has an article and teaser trailer on their website.
Better Business Bureau
By: Negafox On: 10/13/2007 09:56:55 In: World
It is amusing at times to see how misinformed the general public is on what the Better Business Bureau (BBB) is. Truth be told, the Better Business Bureau is more or less a club. In order for a business to be listed in the Better Business Bureau’s directory for complaints, the business has to pay a recurring monthly fee. So, if I was running an unscrupulous business, I would simply not pay the monthly fee to the Better Business Bureau so unsatisfied customers cannot report me as my business would be unlisted in their directory.

Additionally, the Better Business Bureau is an organization, nor a government entity. If I were to decide to continually rip-off customers, the Better Business Bureau cannot take any action against me as they do not have the legal authority as an organization. However, if I were a paying member, they may be able to fine me, but very few unreputable businesses would join the Better Business Bureau to begin with.

So what are the Better Business Bureau and their purpose then? They are an organization that acts as arbitrators between their paying members and dissatisfied customers. However, the Better Business Bureau is ineffective at dealing with some of the unscrupulous businesses in the United States as they have no legal authority. And, worse yet, customers cannot find out that a business is unscrupulous through the Better Business Bureau's website (http://www.bbb.org) unless that business is a member.