Fedex Smartpost

…. is so hilariously bad. Let’s ship the package to random hubs and then finally chuck it in the mail when it gets to the right city. I’m pretty sure media mail is faster than this unholy union – granted, it’s more fedex being raging incompetents than USPS.

Case 1: Package shipping from Dallas, to Austin. Let’s overshoot austin and go to houston, taking a day or more per depot, until we finally drop it in USPS, who then take another day to deliver. If they dropped it in the post in Dallas, it would have been there in one day, rather than one week. 200 miles. 3 hour drive.

Case 2: Package shipped from Phoenix, to Austin. Let’s let the package sit for a day, before tossing it to the next depot. I mean, no rush, right? Then, let’s ship it past the target (again), and spend a few more days getting it back to the right city, then another day to pop it in the mail. Again, instead of the 10 days it’s taken to go “Smart”post, USPS would have had it there in two days.

Case n: USPS Parcel Post is always faster.

HTC Rezound: First Impressions

The HTC Rezound is the previous-generation flagship phone of HTC, with a 1.5ghz dual core scorpion processor, Arendo 220, 1gb of RAM, 16gb internal + 16gb sd, and a 720p LCD display. Selected it as it was reasonably priced and still performs in the mid-high range. My first impressions:

Gorgeous screen – 720p, or 720 x 1280 4.3″ Super LCD. Around 350 pixels-per-inch; ludicrous. No pentile here. Superb indoors, usable outdoors, though hard to see in bright sunlight. Good viewing angles and max brightness. You will shit bricks.

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Android Pandora App

EDIT: I have ordered a HTC Rezound. Thank you for your support.

Short version: I’m gauging interest in an Android app. Are you interested in donating for me creating an Android app?

Long version: So, I’ve been asked many times in the past if I would write a version of my Pandora client for <insert smartphone here>. I will say flat out: Exempting a major turnaround in Apple’s choice of language, an iOS Pandora app from me will never happen. Good hardware, but obj c and apple’s corporate policies can sod right off. Windows Phone would be the simplest to port to, however I have minimal interest in the platform. So, WP port is unlikely, and not going to happen under my own power. This leaves Android. (or symbian, trolololol)

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Getting the most out of Pandora

From time to time, I hear people complaining about Pandora only playing the same tracks, or every station sounding the same pretty quickly. I ran into the same thing, a few years ago. However, I’ve gained some insights over time as to how Pandora works, so I figured I would write up a blog post on how exactly to avoid this situation. Using these rules, I’ve been able to maintain diversity in my Pandora stations without hearing the same tracks over and over.


Item the first: The ‘Like’ button is more complicated than you think. ‘Liking’ a song does mean you like the track, yes. But it has an additional effect: You are telling Pandora you want to hear more tracks like this, on this station.

What this boils down to: If you create a station for classical, and it plays metal, it doesn’t matter if it’s playing a song you love. You must downvote it. Or, at very least, not upvote it. Continue reading

The state of YAML in PHP

Due to work on the Jackknife, I had occasion to learn more than I could have ever wanted about parsing YAML in PHP. YAML (‘YAML Ain’t Markup Language’) is a data serialization format – otherwise known as markup – designed to be easily human readable. While it succeeds at that, it’s a pain to support beyond simple key:value pairings. Pretty straightforward, on paper. Where this is relevant is that the company responsible for EVE-Online, CCP, has a fetish for YAML, using it in places it flat out doesn’t make sense, with promise of more to come. So dealing with YAML is a necessary evil, as far as using the EVE API goes.

Here’s where the problem comes in: YAML parsing support is inconsistent as hell. Not just in PHP. However, PHP has a few PECL plugins that allow one to use an established library that actually, you know, works. Except, problem: neither were compiled in by default. Being on a shared host, this means I can’t use either of them – so it necessitated some contortion to get a working YAML parser. I ended up testing 6 methods of parsing YAML in PHP. Continue reading

Humble Bundle V

Got this a few days ago.

For those who don’t know, humble bundles are where a bunch of indy games are packaged, and you pay exactly what you want for them. I think you can even get them for free, if you want to be a horrible person. Part of the proceeds go to the devs, and part to charity. As noted in the title, this was the fifth one. Oh, the games are all DRM-free, and run on mac, windows, AND linux. Natively. This bundle included 8 games, which I’ll be detailing in a series of blog posts, when I finish ’em.


First two (Psychonauts and Bastion) after the break.

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Saver2/Pandora Update 6/9

CRITICAL: If you are still getting the disappearing client error and you have just updated, you are the victim of NSIS (installer software) being a piece of garbage. To fix this, restart your computer than manually run the latest installer and install over your current one. I’m sorry for the inconvenience – it will not happen again.

FIXES PANDORA CLIENT DISAPPEARING – a bug in the installer caused people to retain old pandora client versions when updating if a hung process was in the background.

Pandora seems to have stopped using mediaserver.* urls – try your original accounts, people who had to create new ones.

Pandora One users will get 192kbs audio once more, and some other minor bugs were fixed.

This should be the last of the spree of updates, assuming Pandora manages not to break their own servers in the meantime…

Notes after the break.
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Wreck-It Ralph

This could be incredibly awesome or incredibly shit. I, for one, hope for the former. Love a good animated film, and then they throw vidja games into the mix…

Additionally: if you haven’t seen The Avengers by now, go and see it, you horrible person.

“HTTP Streaming Error”

Yes, the Pandora client is not working for some people. Pandora has a broken server that only certain accounts are being served, rendering these accounts unable to listen to pandora on any pandora client, including their website.

There is nothing I can do to fix this; however, a work-around is to create a new pandora account, which generally gets working URLs. Hopefully pandora will get their shit together sometime soon.


6/8 3:00pm: Seems like pandora is no longer using mediaserver urls. Try using your original accounts.

6/5 7:00pm: Pandora have broken the facility to return 192kbs audio. Hope you didn’t pay for pandora one. Releasing an update now so some accounts will work again – if a song skips after a few seconds, or does not completely download, create a new account.

6/5 8:00am: Pandora seem to have fixed their website, but mobile clients still aren’t working properly as they seem to have broken the functionality they use to give MP3 data. This remains a can’t-fix issue at this time.