Super Mario Bros. Awesomeness

A friend of mine showed me Super Mario Bros. Crossover a few weeks ago, and it's awesome. It's as web based (Flash) game that is a complete recreation of the original Super Mario Bros. game. But it's not just that. Beyond playing as Mario, you can play through the whole game as characters like Link from Zelda, Samus from Metroid, Bill from Contra, and a few others. The characters play exactly like they played in their original games, but you are fighting Bowser's army of Goombas, Koopas and other evil bad guys. Very awesome!

In my spare time the last few weeks I've been playing the game through with all 6 characters. I guess I did it because I liked the original game so much. I recorded the last level of each character, and you can view these videos below. :)

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Warfish bookmarklets

One thing that has long bothered me while playing warfish is that when creating a tournament (or joining one that lets you invite players), they don't have an option to select all players with zero boots on their record. Well, I finally decided to write a JavaScript bookmarklet to accomplish this. If you drag the one or both of the links below into your bookmarks, when playing warfish and inviting players, if you click these bookmarks all of the players with zero boots (or less than 3) will be selected.

I know most of my readers won't care about this, but I wanted to post it here for future reference.

Warfish: 0 boots

Warfish: >3 boots

Super Mario Live

This video is one of the BEST EVER!!! This game is how I spent a pretty large portion of my teenage years...sigh. Those were the days.

Xbox 360 is unstable

There are a lot of reports of crashes in various games in the new Xbox 360. One Xbox fan site even has a poll up asking, "Is your Xbox 360 defected or does it work just fine?". Currently 269 people have voted and 14% say their Xbox is defective. This is NOT a scientific poll because it would be very easy for sony/nintendo fans to pollute the results. However, there are a few folks that have posted videos/photos of their Xbox crashing. So the problem appears to be real, and can I just say that I'm not surprised? ;)

Xbox 360

I just read in John C. Dvorak's column that the new Xbox will have media capabilities (music, photos, movies, etc.), but will only work if you have a Windows XP Media Center Edition PC on your local network (if you have one).

So the mod trend will continue. The current Xbox has an active community of people that buys and/or creates chips/software to modify how the Xbox works. The most popular mods are the ones that do what is mentioned in my first paragraph, except without the Media Center requirement. How long will it be before someone ports their current Xbox mod to the 360? Of course, Microsoft does all they can to shut down these 3rd party mods. They are stupid for doing so, but they do. I think Lego is much smarter in their approach to the situation: Allow the innovators to improve your product, and you will sell more product. And it doesn't cost you a dime!

Real player makes my head explode

I used to be a huge fan of real player, back when it was the king of the hill. They always had quick releases, and each release made streaming media faster and of higher quality. But, over the last few years, their aggressive marketing strategies have really bothered me. I hate that an installation of real player comes with a bunch of extra crap. Shortcuts all over the place, auto starting apps., etc.

I realize that if Real didn't market their product like this, Real player would be marginalized even more by Microsoft's monopolistic practices (with windows media player). I mean, let's face it. When was the last time you went to a site that required real player? It almost never happens anymore.
Well, I installed real player the other day, and yesterday I was greeted with the 'Real message center', or something like that. Normally I'd just remove it from my startup and go on. But this time I was very upset because the message center announced that I could get the SI swimsuit issue. Real, if you are listening (yeah right), please stop these aggressive adware moves!

Remove OpenOffice.org's annoying prompts

I use OpenOffice.org for 2 reasons. 1. I don't own Microsoft Office 2. I use Linux (most important reason, of course :)).
Did you ever want to get rid of those "Saving in external formats" prompts that bug you when you save a word document? Well, today I finally was annoyed enough with this that I searched the web and found out how to banish those 'errors' forever! Click Tools->Options->Load/Save->General, and under document type, pick Text document and then for 'Always save as' pick the version of Word you want. It will throw another 'error' prompt about how dangerous this is (aren't they proud of their product??), but if you click ok, you won't be haunted by the 'external formats' ghosts anymore. I rarely save spreadsheets in Excel format, but I assume this procedure will work for those errors as well.

Image transparency in The Gimp

As many of you know, I've been a Linux desktop user for about a year now. The only real option for image editing in Linux is the Gimp, and its not a bad program at all. But it sure can be a pain to find some of those common functions you learned in other programs...one example is transparency. If I had Paint Shop Pro in Linux, I'd have that licked right quick, but alas its not available. So after much searching in the menus (its not there), I embarked on a web search. Its not intuitive at all, but here's an easy way I found in an online forum:
First add an alpha channel (Right click --> Layers --> Add Alpha Channel). Make sure you have the color you want transparent set to the background color, then select the background with either "Select by color" (Shift+O) or with the "magic wand" (Z). Cut out the selection (Ctrl+x). Make sure you save it as a file format that supports transparencey (png, gif, etc.)

2 Player Settlers of Catan

Are you a Settlers of Catan fan? I sure am. Today I found a 2 player variant of this addictive board game (normally 3-4 players). The credit goes to db3000 over at boardgamegeek.com (unfortunately he doesn't leave any contact info...). But here are the rules. My wife and I played them, and it was very fun. The problem with 2 player SoC is that a player can easily get too powerful, because the board is too wide open. This game variation adds a dummy player that can only build roads, and its much more fun. The rules were designed around the base game, but we played it with the Cities and Knights expansion, and it worked just fine.

NationStates

My wife pointed me to a new cool online game the other day called NationStates. Its a game that lets you create a government in their online virtual world, and make decisions on policy issues and such. Its become very popular, now hosting over 11,000 nations. Here's an example issue:
A group of emergency room doctors has petitioned the government to introduce mandatory organ donations.
1. "It's not as crazy as it sounds," says Dr. Hack Longfellow. "Every day, people die because we don't have the organs to save them. Well, that and widespread under-funding of the health system. But the point is, if the government allowed us to take organs from dead people, we could save hundreds of lives a year. And come on, it's not like dead people need them."
2. "You keep your hands off my organs!" says alarmed hospital patient Zeke Longfellow. "They are my organs, and I'll do with them what I like. The government has no right to my body."
Check out my nation.

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