Thursday, December 31, 2009

Day 8: 12 Days of Promo Codes for iTimeZone for iPhone/iPod touch

iTimeZoneDay 8 of Tangerine Element's 12 Days of Promo Codes for iTimeZone is also late, I promise I will catch up tomorrow! I was wrapped up in my first play of Assassin's Creed II...


You can read about the promotion here.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

My Top 10 Video Games of the Decade

Since I banged out a Top 10 Movies of the Decade list, I figured why not put together a list on something I spend a lot more time doing than watching movies.

This list is primarily console games, my experience this decade has been on the Dreamcast, Xbox, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii, and just the one computer game, but it's a doozy. The system listed next to each title is how I played the game, not necessarily all the systems the title appears on.

  1. World of WarCraft - Mac OS X
    • No game has changed the video game landscape more in the last decade than WoW
    • My own struggles with addiction to this game have inspired a pretty good chunk of my blog posts
  2. Bioshock - Xbox 360
    • The first game I can remember playing that presents an agonizing, emotional, moral choice to make
    • Not only the moral choice makes this game special, but the story of what happened to an Ayn Rand-ian laissez faire scientific society free of all restrictions was a powerful one
    • See my full review
  3. Halo Trilogy - Xbox-Xbox 360
    • The Xbox would not have survived or certainly made it into the current generation without this franchise.
    • Local and online multiplayer pioneer with Xbox Live
  4. Uncharted 2 - PS3
    • There has been no more cinematic experience than this game.
    • Showed how powerful the PS3 really is with incredible graphics.
  5. Batman - Arkham Asylyum - PS3
    • Most licensed games suck, and certainly all Batman games have sucked, until this game
    • This wasn't just a great Batman game, it would have been a great game even if you didn't have Batman at all
  6. Wii Sports - Wii
    • You can't deny, even if it's just a collection of mini-games, that this title demonstrated believable, usable motion controls for the first time in a home console
    • In-person multiplayer opened people's eyes that the market for video games could be ages 5-85
  7. Rock Band 2 - Xbox 360
    • Pushed the music game experience from solo to group play and added an in-game song store which constantly adds new content to the game
  8. Super Mario Galaxy - Wii
    • Go read my full review, it says it all.
    • Well not all, this is the only game on this list I couldn't finish. I just got to a certain point where I couldn't figure out how to get to the next world and gave up. That has certainly dropped the game in my decade ranking.
  9. NFL 2K1 - Dreamcast
    • Redefined football games with better announcers, graphics, and play calling. I still remember seeing the close-up replays from across the mall when seeing a promo for this game and thinking when did EB Games get football on TV, only realizing it was a game when I got closer
  10. The Orange Box - Xbox 360
    • With Half-Life 2, HL2: Episodes 1 & 2, Portal, and Team Fortress, this was the most value packed video game bundle to ever arrive
    • It also helped that all the games are amazing. Half-Live 2: Episide 3 (or maybe it's Half-Live 3 now, the next episode is taking so long) has to be one of the most anticipated games of the 2010's

Day 7: 12 Days of Promo Codes for iTimeZone for iPhone/iPod touch

iTimeZoneDay 7 of Tangerine Element's 12 Days of Promo Codes for iTimeZone is late! It could be because I was laughing so hard at The Hangover...


You can read about the promotion here.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

My Top 10 Movies of the Decade

Everyone's doing it, so why not:

  1. The Dark Knight
  2. Children of Men
  3. Memento
  4. Batman Begins
  5. Avatar
  6. Lord of the Rings - Extended Edition
  7. Casino Royale
  8. The Incredibles
  9. Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World
  10. Star Trek

Monday, December 28, 2009

Day 6: 12 Days of Promo Codes for iTimeZone for iPhone/iPod touch

iTimeZoneDay 6 of Tangerine Element's 12 Days of Promo Codes for iTimeZone sadly will not be able to erase the sting of losing all progress in New Super Mario Bros. Wii when son 1.0 & I died:


You can read about the promotion here.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Day 5: 12 Days of Promo Codes for iTimeZone for iPhone/iPod touch

iTimeZoneBetter late than never and a very poor consolation prize for the NY Giants being humiliated by the Carolina Panther's today, but Day 5 of Tangerine Element's 12 Days of Promo Codes for iTimeZone is here:


You can read about the promotion here.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Day 4: 12 Days of Promo Codes for iTimeZone for iPhone/iPod touch

iTimeZoneThe perfect cure for your after Christmas hangover is Day 4 of Tangerine Element's 12 Days of Promo Codes for iTimeZone


You can read about the promotion here.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Day 3: 12 Days of Promo Codes for iTimeZone for iPhone/iPod touch

iTimeZoneMerry Christmas! Tangerine Element's 12 Days of Promo Codes for iTimeZone is the perfect enhancement to an already wonderful Christmas morning. You can read about the promotion here.


Thursday, December 24, 2009

AdMob's Metrics on iPhone OS Version Share

Looks like I'll be supporting iTimeZone on iPhone OS 2.2.1 for a while yet if AdMob Metrics are correct.

This might be hard since the only 2.2.1 device I have is the iPhone Simulator. All my attempts to downgrade the iPod touch from 3.0 to 2.2.1 have failed.

Day 2: 12 Days of Promo Codes for iTimeZone for iPhone/iPod touch

iTimeZoneIt's Christmas Eve and gift shopping is finally done, but Tangerine Element's 12 Days of Promo Codes for iTimeZone is just getting started! Day 2 of promo codes are posted below. You can read about the promotion here.


Wednesday, December 23, 2009

World of WarCraft: Ninja Raiders

Jeff Atwood tweeted about this YouTube music video WarCraft Ninja Raiders sung to Beyonce's Single Ladies and I just had to post it since I am back in the WoW habit and had minimized the game to read some stuff before continuing the grind.

12 Days of Promo Codes for iTimeZone for iPhone/iPod touch

iTimeZoneIn the spirit of the holidays and giving gifts, Tangerine Element has started the 12 Days of Promo Codes for iTimeZone, only on the App Store. To kickoff the promotion, I've tweeted the first batch of promo codes already and here are the same reposted below. For the next 11 days, I will blog another batch of promo codes. This promotion is only valid for users of the U.S. App Store.


Every release of iTimeZone brings with it new Promo Codes to give away free copies of paid applications to users of the U.S. App Store. At Tangerine Element, I try to use all the promo codes available by giving them away. iTimeZone 1.3.1 is the current version on the store, and I have been working on a bug fix release, 1.3.2, for submission to the App Store after the holidays. Since the promo codes available will reset soon, and I hadn't used any codes for 1.3.1, seemed like a good time to set them all free.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Used MacBook for sale on eBay

If you are looking for a used MacBook, I posted one for sale on eBay last night.

Check the listing for details, but its 2 year 10 month old with AppleCare until Feb 2010 in excellent condition. My wife used it mostly for Web browsing and spreadsheet crunching, with the occasional viewing of Twilight.

Took 2 tries and one deadbeat buyer, but the laptop was finally sold.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Retro Review - Star Trek: Nemesis

Or as I like to think of it, the one that nearly sunk the franchise. Why watch it again? I didn't intend to make this a series after my recent Star Trek: First Contact review. I was at the library with my son and saw this on the DVD shelf and thought: "He can watch this. It can't be as bad as I remember it". Wow was I wrong. I still don't think it's as bad as Star Trek: Generations, but it's close. What went wrong?

It's so cheap it affects the plot
Of course this has happened before in Star Trek. Until J.J. Abrahms Star Trek, Trek movies were always made as cheaply as they could be. Extensive set reuse across all shows, reuse of effects (e.g. Klingon Bird of Prey explosion from both Star Trek VI & VII), and Starfleet only having the exact number of ship configurations for a long time that had made movie appearances. What happened in Nemesis?

Geordi is a parody of an engineer. Georgi never leaves the bridge. It's obvious the producers never wanted film anything more in Engineering once the shield (finally?) is put on the warp core. I guess extras cost to much money. There is one scene near the end of the movie that is laughably bad. The Enterprise takes another massive shot from the Romulan ship Scimitar, and transporters go offline. Georgi taps a few buttons on his screen and then gives up. He gives up. If this were Georgi from any previous Star Trek movie, or hell Scotty, engineer's don't give up, they keep trying stuff, even crazy stuff, until they save the ship.

Horrendously bad special effects. On the Scimitar, the hallways are wide for the couple phaser fights in them, but it's clear there are only one or two corridors. There is a hallway extension painting that is huge, but it's so obvious when watching the film "hey, there's a painting at the end of that hallway" it completely takes you out of the film. Also, the Romulan super weapon (I can't spell it) effect is bad CGI. The external CGI shot of the Romulan senate is also cheap CGI, and it's used twice.

Romulan Super Weapon on the Bridge?!? It just makes no sense at all that the Romulan Super Weapon power plant would be at the top of the bridge. It's crazy that isn't in engineering. Cearly the producer's just didn't want to design and build a Romulan engineering set. Obviously, showing engineering on any ship was off limits on this film, you have to show engine FX then.

Bad Music
Not all the music is bad, there is the appropriate use of the Star Trek theme from Star Trek The Motion Picture. Unbelievable, this is Jerry Goldsmith. What went wrong here? It pretty much comes down to much sythensizer that says "old tyme science fiction movie" and the "crazy strings" when the Romulans really go off the rails. This double-whammy of bad music is right in the opening Romulan senate scene, and I start to giggle as soon as I hear it.

Slow Moving Plot and Bad Choices
Shinzon and Picard talk to much about themselves when we everyone in the audience knows Picard and Shinzon are nothing alike in action. But that is only the least of the offenses

Boring Super Weapon. There is absolutely no tension behind what the Romulan Super Weapon can do, you are shown in the first scene. You know somebody called the Remans, have taken over. But you don't know who they are, all you know is they have a super weapon. The movie would have been much better to open on Riker and Troi's wedding.

How did Shinzon get his hands on beta Data? I could easily be mistaken, but I don't remember an explanation of where B4 came from, only that Shinzon got his hands on one and planted it in Death Valley, I mean a planet close to the neutral zone. How come Data has never heard of him before (I kill me with these puns)?

When did the Enterprise crew get lobotomized? Continuing on from the previous point, didn't anyone think that the sudden discovery of a beta Data near the Romulan Neutral Zone, on the way to a meeting with the Romulans, was a tad coincidental? How does Shinzon know the Enterprise is constantly scanning for positronic signals? How much radiation is Data emitting for a ship thousands of light years away to detect? But it gets worse.

Does no one on the Enterprise realize that while flying back to rendezvous with a fleet they are going to lose communications in a rift? Data, Picard, Georgi, hell even a red shirt navigator should have told you that. The flagship crew shouldn't be surprised they have plotted themselves into a trap!

Special Mention: Eyelight on Troi while she telepathically "zero's in" on the Viceroy. The whole rape of Troi could have been a powerful moment, the first moment in the bedroom mostly was, but then they ruin it by putting the eyelight on Troi while she tries to correlate the Scimitar's position by telepathy. Further, has no ever thought "Hey Troi, can't you read the emotions of an enemy ship cloaked?". I know there were TV show episodes where she read the intentions of aliens on other ships, does the cloak break this? How come no one asks her?

Nemesis == 80% Wrath of Khan
No mincing words (see I can do it too), Nemesis is almost a direct rip-off of Wrath of Khan. The Romulan Super Weapon is the genesis device, right down to the build up to detention and destruction of all life. The Scimitar and the Enterprise duke it out in a nebula rift. The Enterprise is heavily damaged. The villain has a personal vendetta against the captain. SpockData dies to save the Enterprise, but not before leaving his memories behind. It's so obvious, John Logan should have been sent to the principal's office for cheating.

I could go on, but this is enough to get Nemesis out of my head after enduring it again. In a way I am thankful this brought an end to the mostly ok, but not exceptional Next Generation movie line. It made room for the total reinvention of Star Trek with J.J. Abrahms, or did it? Perhaps another review is due...

3.5 Inner Exceptions

Sunday, December 06, 2009

What took so long for Google Public DNS?

In 2008 when PayPal was complaining about Safari, I agreed with Jeremiah that the best solution to stop phishing attacks was at the infrastructure level, with DNS. OpenDNS seemed to be the only game in town that was performance optimized and had built-in phishing filtering.

In 2009 Apple released Safari 3.2 with anti-phishing filtering. I revealed I had switched to OpenDNS and had been using it for 3 months. That continued until about 3 months ago when I mistyped some domain name in Safari and saw one of those OpenDNS branded error page with search results and ads. I knew they were going to do this, but hadn't seen it before and was annoyed when it happened. So I switched back to the DNS servers that Comcast assigns via DHCP, but performance was abysmal. I hadn't decided yet if I was going back to OpenDNS or not, but then Google launched free Public DNS.

What took so long?
I'm really struggling to come up with a reason Google hadn't already launched Public DNS. Of all the products that Google has released as public betas, capturing DNS traffic seems like that most natural way to make search smarter. Even if a customer isn't using Google search, their search could still be getting smarter through intelligence on the DNS stream. Linksys et all will soon be putting Powered by [VENDOR] DNS stickers on them to monetize their default DNS. Now that Google's done it, how long before Microsoft Public DNS is launched? Or do they buy OpenDNS to get into the game quick. DNS Wars 1.0 has just begun. Amazing that such a "low-level" networking service, around since the dawn of Internet time, stagnant for so long, will now be a hotbed of competition and innovation.

Why did Google do this?
The main reason is that excellent DNS helps Google make more money. Google doesn't have to own DNS to get some benefits, but by guaranteeing and controlling quality DNS, here's what Google gets:

  • Fast Performance
    • Chrome OS only runs Web applications. Slow DNS means slow apps. As Jason Kottke reminded us, Google knows that as little as a .5 sec delay in page load speeds means a traffic drop of 20%.
  • Request Info Aggregation and Analysis
    • See the section on privacy
  • Name Resolution Security
    • Implementing it's own DNS allows Google to hook into their existing anti-phishing lists.
    • This guarantees below the application layer interception of malicious sites that people might accidentally be requesting. If all your apps are Web apps, this goes a long way to eliminating Web app malware.

More on performance
I ran 100,000 pings to Google's primary public DNS server,, and 100,000 pings to OpenDNS' primary public DNS server,, and these where the response times (all in milliseconds):

Google Public DNS16.82327.5783901.46542.118

Surprisingly, OpenDNS performs better than Google's Public DNS. If anyone would be able to create the fastest DNS, everyone would have put money on Google winning this. This does change the decision making process on which DNS to use. Use OpenDNS and get the fastest performance today, but accept redirection on error to an ad-laden page or go with Google for slower performance but no redirection (today) on error. It's a tough call, I may switch back to OpenDNS.

More on privacy concerns
First thing I thought when I read Rentzsch's blog post headline was that this was another opportunity for GOOG to gather information about you. Of course, Rentzsch links out to another blogger because this is probably the first thought on anyone's mind whenever Google launches anything. Then I read their privacy policy and it's reasonable. Of course Google is going to anonymize and combine all the information now flowing their way. But they are not going to route queries for unknown servers to Google Search, they let the browser take care of that. This is very smart because you can easily see how this could turn into a future antitrust concern. That is the power of owning a users' DNS, you can send people to wherever you want. But until Google does something evil, I have switched to their servers.

You have to admire the response from OpenDNS founder David Ulevitch about Google's entry in the market. And really, why should be be scared? OpenDNS will still be able to sell their service to companies that are Google-phobic. They have also just become a prime acquisition target of at least Microsoft, and possible Apple. Faster and safer DNS improves everyone's Internet experience, whether you believe in Web-only apps or connected device apps, everyone wins.