Window 7 Media Center Weather Alerts

The past few days have been quite rainy for the Twin Cities, around four inches of rain have fell in the past 48 hours. Tonight, a storm popped up north of Lake Minnetonka which produced a few tornadoes as it has made it’s way east. Before one actually knew a weather event was going on in the area, the cable internet dropped out. However, Windows Media Center was able to get a National Weather Service Tornado Warning message, and display it over playing video.WMC warning system

When in this “Warning Overlay” mode Windows Media Center will not record live TV, or allow the guide to show up with the arrow keys. Once the warning expires, Windows Media Center removes the overlay and restores normal functionality. It is not clear if this is the intended behavior or not. The apparent intent is to keep the user at the current channel. However, this does hinder the ability of the user to tune to a channel with more weather information if not already on one.

-John Havlik

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Moab Trip 2009 “The Plants” Photoset

I’ve finally synchronized my camera’s memory with my laptop and began sorting through the pictures I took on my trip to Moab, Utah in June. Below are some of the better shots of plants in the area. Surprisingly, many of the plants were still green and flowering, or just finished flowering. It’s too bad I don’t have anything better than a Cannon PowerShot SD850 IS with CHDK, getting it to focus on the correct object can be a pain at times (plus there is a caveat with using 4GB SDHC cards (FAT32 format is the culprit) and CHDK where it won’t auto boot).

-John Havlik

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goto code_hell;

code_hell: echo 'Yes, PHP 5.3 has the goto operator';

In one’s opinion, the only people that should be allowed to use the goto operator are expert assembly language programmers (and you are not one). Besides, most things written in PHP are not “low level” enough to warrant the use of goto. However, if you must use the goto operator, please do so responsibly. Use it as if it costs $10,000 per use, and properly document what’s going on.

-John Havlik

[end of transmission, stay tuned]

Windows 7 PunkBuster Revisit

Well, well, well, look what we have here. Looks like Even Balance finally got their act together. Anyone taking part in the Battlefield Heroes Beta will know that DICE now has PunkBuster enabled for it. Amazingly, Battlefield Heroes still works in Windows 7, no false-positive PunkBuster related kicks. Even better, the PunkBuster client for Battlefield 2142 now works correctly on Windows 7 64Bit now as well. One was able to play on four different Battlefield 2142 servers for more than 30 minutes each today without a single kick, therefore the PunkBuster related issues appear to be solved. No hacks, no compatibility mode, no running as administrator, it just works. Hurray for silent updates! Oh wait, they are still a major security risk.

-John Havlik

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Pitfalls of New IP Space

With the almost complete allocation of previously available IP4 addresses, ICANN released IP address block from previously reserved ranges to private ISPs. Unfortunately for these ISPs and their customers (one in particular), in the past these IP blocks were heavily used by malicious individuals who spoofed their IP addresses. This resulted in many servers that simply refuse connections to the entire block. What block is this? It’s the 173.x.x.x block.

For a year now, Mediacom has assigned IPs under the 173.18.x.x block. Thanks to that, one’s IP address is in this range. There are sites one literally can not visit due to having a legitimate IP address in the 173.x.x.x range, instead one gets a nice “network timeout error”. In the past it was the Weblogs.us forums (now down for everyone as phpBB committed suicide), now it’s other sites. Sure one can use a webproxy, and have, but that is more trouble than it’s worth. It would be nice if these servers would at least keep current with their IP block blacklists. Even better, new blacklists not containing known to be good IP blocks because of their prior illegitimate use would be a welcomed change.

-John Havlik

[end of transmission, stay tuned]