Wow, it’s been a while. (Cleaning up the blog)

Not sure how it happened, but it has been almost 2 years since I last posted here. Time flies. Been busy as usual. Recent personal stuff can be found on Facebook and since I tend to focus on technology stuff here, so I’ll go over what’s new in that area.

Websites: This website is still just this blog. I found a new, clean theme for the blog that I’m now using. It works well enough for now. I also cleaned up the sidebar widgets so it’s only things I actually use on there now.
The Zork Library: I don’t think I’ve mentioned it much here, but about 2.5 years ago I took over ownership of the Zork Library website from its previous owner, DAT. It’s a pretty quiet website, but there’s some discussions going on periodically and it’s the only actively maintained website about Zork left, so I feel it’s important to keep it alive. I post anything new related to Zork that I find.
Zork Install Guides: I continue to maintain guides for installing and running Zork games on modern operating systems, including smartphones. Nothing new to mention, but I continue adding support as new operating systems come along. I’m currently looking to hear how things run in Windows 8 since I don’t have access to it and I don’t see myself getting access anytime soon.
St. Benedict’s: I’m part of a team that maintains the website for St. Benedict’s Roman Catholic Church. I mainly do the technical stuff and others handle content. We’re using Joomla 2.5.x currently and it’s been a learning experience. Content Management Systems have come a long way since I last tried using them about 5 years ago.

Software Development:
Calspan: I’m not going to go into all the stuff that I’m doing at work, but I continue to learn a lot and have a good time working with cool tech. I’ve been using more Arch Linux at work and started working with Qt and OpenGL over the last year. We’ve also been investigating smaller form factor devices like the Raspberry Pi, BeagleBone and Gumstix.
Douay-Rheims Bible: St. Benedict’s was looking for a way to reference scriptures without depending on a third-party that can (and often will) change their URLs causing link breakage. So I came up with a PHP-based bible viewer using some public domain HTML data of the Douay-Rheims translation that I found. It’s basic, but it handles URLs of the format , or so that’s pretty neat. The fixed URL structure was the most important part to get correct right away. It’s not the prettiest interface, but that’ll be something I can clean up at a later time. We’ll probably do something similar for the Catechism of the Catholic Church sooner or later.
The Journey Down & Super Hexagon: I’ve been getting into beta testing indie games recently, starting with the Steam release for Windows and Linux of The Journey Down and now the Android release of Super Hexagon. Both are great games that I highly recommend. It’s not really software development, but software testing is close enough to that.
#onegameamonth: This is a game development initiative I’m interested in trying that encourages you to make one complete game each month in 2013. I’ll talk more about this in another post soon once I get my feet wet with my first project.

Android App Recommendations Vol. 3

Since the last app recommendation article, I  upgraded my phone from a T-Mobile G1 to a T-Mobile G2. It’s been several months now, so I think it’s time to feature some more apps!

Cordy – Cordy is an excellent platform game with great controls, graphics, level design and puzzles. Reminds me of Sonic, but a little slower and with more puzzle solving. Note: This app requires Android 2.1 or higher.

DAAP Media Player – This app lets you stream music from DAAP servers like mt-daapd.

Google Reader – Google Reader is a great RSS reader on the web and this app syncs with it perfectly. It has an excellent interface for keeping track of the news.

Kongregate Arcade – Let’s you play lots of the great games from Kongregate on your phone. Note: This app requires Android 2.1 or higher, and Adobe Flash.

Launcher Pro – Like ADW, this is a home screen alternative. At the moment, I like it better than ADW, but they’re very similar. Give it a try!

ROM Manager – This app makes switching between ROMs quick and easy. Setup ROM installs, data wipes and data backups from this app, then it reboots to recovery and does it all for you automatically. You never have to bother with the recovery mode menus again! Note: This app requires root.


Current ROM: Cyanogenmod 7.0-RC4 (Vision)

Android App Recommendations Vol. 2

Here’s a few more apps that I’ve come across that I’d like to highlight. Thanks to Justin for the Mario LWP recommendation! Like last time, some of these apps will only work on rooted phones or on certain versions of Android.

Chrome to Phone – Send data from your web browser to your phone. Also requires Chrome to Phone extension for Chrome or Send to Phone extension for Firefox. WARNING: This app requires Android 2.2.

Droid Comic Viewer – Read comic books in cbz, cbr and other formats.

Dropbox – Full and fast dropbox access on your phone. It has a very simple interface and works exactly as I expect it should.

Mario LWP – Best Live Wallpaper Ever. WARNING: This app requires Android 2.1 or newer. – A simplified view of your finances from Mint.

SystemPanel Lite – A really slick task manager with pretty graphs. WARNING: This app’s task killing features are only supported on rooted phones.

Titanium Backup – If you use a rooted phone, Titanium Backup will make your life easier. Lots of functions related to backing up and restoring your apps and settings. If you buy a license for $3.99, you get automated batch processing, market cleanup and builder functions. WARNING: This app is only supported on rooted phones.

TweetDeck – This app is still in beta, but it’s a great app that supports Twitter, Facebook status messages, Google Buzz and Foursquare. It is very quick, slick and easy to use. Sign up for free access at the link provided. WARNING: This app requires Android 2.1 or newer (for now, future versions will support 1.5/1.6)

Where – This app has all the info you’ll need while you’re out places. Restaurants, Gas, Stores, Weather, and tons more. A very handy app to have.

Current ROM: CyanogenMod 6.0-RC3 D/S

Stay Back Grues, the Lantern Has Been Refueled

I am happy to announce that I have taken over hosting The Zork Library from it’s former owner DAT. The Zork Library has been one of the foremost websites about the Zork series of video games for over 10 years. I intend to maintain and expand the website. For the immediate future, my Zork installation guides will remain a part of At some point in the future, they will be moved to The Zork Library. I also plan to expand coverage of Legends of Zork, plus promote The Zork Library and Zork as a whole on social networks like Twitter and Facebook. See this post on TZL for more details.

Android App Recommendations

Now that I know a few people that use Android phones, I decided to share some of the apps, plus the current ROM I’m using at this time. In this article I’m only going to post about apps that I have been using for a long time. I have a few new apps that I think are great, but I’ll save them for a future article. Some of these apps will only work on rooted phones.

AdFree – Block (almost) all advertisements from your phone. WARNING: This app only supports rooted phones.

ADW.Launcher – A replacement home screen. Allows for changing number of homescreens, number of apps in launcher drawer, live wallpapers, and few different launcher/animation styles. WARNING: This app only supports rooted phones with Android 2.1 or newer.

APNdroid – Completely turn off/on cellular data to better control your battery usage. WARNING: This app only supports rooted phones.

ASTRO – A very fast and simple file manager. Also has a task killer and an SD card usage analyzer built in.

aTrackDog – Track the latest updates of your apps, so you don’t have to rely on the android market to tell you. It’s also very useful if you use a lot of apps that aren’t in the android market.

CardioTrainer – Track your exercise (running, biking, etc.) with GPS. Includes a built in music player and voice notification of exercise statistics (pace, distance, etc.).

Facebook – It’s facebook on your phone. It’s most feature-complete, reliable and fast facebook app I’ve tried. Some people like Bloo better because its interface is a little simpler, but Bloo has been unreliable and slow for me.

Google Listen – There’s a lot of podcast players/downloaders out there, but I like listen because it syncs with Google Reader and has a simple interface. It crashes occasionally and hogs memory, but I haven’t found any other podcast app that doesn’t have those problems while being nearly as good as Listen.

Google Voice – It’s Google Voice. It has completely replaced my voicemail, very much so for the better. nuff said. – on your phone. Again, nuff said.

MapDroyd – Maps without a data connection! Plus they’re rotatable and performance is much better.

MortPlayer – A great music player that doesn’t depend on building media libraries. I organize my music into folders myself and MortPlayer respects that choice. It is faster because it doesn’t need to scan my entire SD card to build a music library and uses my folder structure to navigate my music.

NewsRob – A simple and quick RSS reader.

Opera Mini – Similar to the built-in browser but faster, especially when having multiple pages open at once.

ScummVM – Play a lot of classic adventure games on your phone!

SetCPU – Change the processor speed of your phone for better speed or better battery life. WARNING: This app only supports rooted phones. It is $1.99 on the android market, but free from the developer’s website or XDA.

Shazam – Detects what song is playing around you. Hold it up to the radio to find out what you’re listening to.

Simon Tatham’s Puzzles – A large collection of fun puzzle games.

Tasker – Performs actions automatically based on contexts. I mainly use it to control ringer/media volume, vibration, screen brightness and wifi on/off based on place and time. Warning: This is a paid app. It has a 14 day free trial, but costs 3.49GBP (~$5) direct from the developer or (soon) 3.99GBP (~$6) on the android market. This is CHEAP for the awesome functionality you get.

Text Edit – This is a simple, but very functional text editor. I use it for quick notes and grocery lists. There’s not much to it, but that’s why I like it. It lets me get in, type some text and quickly save it.

Twidroid – The best twitter client on android.

Current ROM:  CyanogenMod 5.0.8 D/S

Google Chrome Extension Recommendations

Recently, Google opened up its Chrome Extension Gallery for use with the Google Chrome Browser. The beta channel and dev channel versions of Chrome have had extension support for a while, but with the opening of Google’s official gallery, many new extensions have been made public. In my opinion, extensions are the main thing Chrome has been missing in comparison to Firefox so far. Here is a list of several extensions I recommend. These extensions get Chrome very close to feature parity with Firefox for my uses, with the one glaring exception of a replacement for Firefox’s NoScript.

AdThwart – AdThwart is an ad blocker that ports parts of Adblock Plus from Firefox to Chrome. It’s still early in its development so it still doesn’t compare to Adblock Plus, but so far this seems to be the ad-blocking system with the most potential on Chrome. Shorten Url – If you use Twitter much, you’re probably familiar with URL shorteners like This extension puts a button in your address bar that shortens the current page’s URL with Simple and effective.

Chromed Bird – A simple Twitter client that sits in the toolbar. It updates you with new tweets and allows you to tweet without going to the Twitter website.

ChromeMilk – A great client for Remember the Milk, the online to-do list software, that sits in the toolbar.

One Number – Addicted to Google? This extension keeps you up to date on GMail, Google Wave, Google Reader and Google Voice.

XMarks for Chrome – Chrome does incorporate Google Bookmarks, but I find XMarks gives much more control on what is synced and where, plus it works on more browsers. Just like XMarks’ extension on other browsers, this one syncs your bookmarks online for free and lets you choose which bookmarks are which computers.

youTagger and YouTube HTML5-ifier – Don’t like Flash, but like YouTube? No problem! These extensions replace the YouTube Flash Player with YouTube’s new HTML5-based player. The HTML5 player improves performance of YouTube videos and makes them less likely to crash the browser. I’m currently listing both extensions because each has an issue that could bug you. youTagger works everywhere but loads the low quality version of the video. YouTube HTML5-ifier loads the highest quality version of the video, but only works when directly on a YouTube video page, not on embedded YouTube videos or on YouTube User Channels.

Hopefully, proper high-granularity content blocking will be implemented soon so that real equivalents to Adblock Plus and NoScript on Firefox become possible.

Back to the Blog

Wow, it’s been almost 11 months! Far too long to leave this website dormant! To be fair, it’s been an eventful year for me, though that won’t be discussed here at this time. I plan to get this thing back up an running over the next month and I’ve already started with a new theme and new sidebar widgets (Twitter,, new links). I plan to better integrate what’s going on here with Twitter and Facebook so everyone is kept informed no matter where they are. That’s the current plan anyway. YMMV

A few of the things coming in the next week or so:

  • Google Chrome Extensions Recommendations
  • Real updates to my eBay page and new auctions
  • Zork Guides website update and discussion on that topic
  • Discussion on some of the recent computing-related topics I’ve been tweeting about

More topics to be featured here long-term:

  • Android discussion (and maybe even an app I develop!)
  • Google discussion (Chrome browser, Chome OS, Google Wave, etc)
  • Operating Systems (recent releases, current trends)
  • My 2010 Projects: Cleaning/Fixing my Xbox 360, Building a kitchen pc, a new desktop pc, other cool household projects, MAME cabinet (maybe)

It’s exciting to be working on the website again. I’ve had the web design itch for a while now and though this isn’t real web design (it’s manipulating WordPress and it’s themes/plugins to do my bidding), I may do some real web design again at some point in 2010. It’s a new decade after all!

Edit (12/11/09): Also, FYI: I’m cleaning up some of the old posts including the ones that are merely links to outdated eBay auctions, or posts that are no longer or any relevance.

Zork Guides Website Updates

About 7 months ago, I posted a new website related to running Zork games on modern operating systems. Over these last 7 months, I’ve been compiling feedback to the guides and working on making the website a better tool for users. The first of those changes are complete and there’s more to come.

One promising lead is that ScummVM has a work-in-progress port of the MADE engine, so Return to Zork can be played. It’s currently only available in their daily SVN builds, but once the engine is more stable, I’ll write up a guide for it. Because of the consistency of ScummVM cross-platform and the ease of use of the software, this guide will be appropriate for Windows XP/Vista, Linux and OS X without much difference between each version. A second development is the continued growth of Wine. Recently a patch was created that addresses one of the big bugs that get in the way of playing Zork Nemesis and Zork Grand Inquisitor on Linux and OS X. That patch isn’t in the main wine codebase yet, but once it is, I’ll revisit writing a guide for Zork Nemesis and Zork Grand Inquisitor on Linux. Mac OS X continues to be a problem because I can’t test on that system, but I have researched a few options that may allow for the games to be played on OS X and placed those links in the table of configurations on the website.

Lastly, I want to bring up a real piece of news in the Zork universe, probably the first real piece of news in a decade. Activision announced Wednesday that they’re working on a new Zork game called Legends of Zork. It will be a multiplayer adventure played through a web browser and will target iPhone so it will likely be JavaScript-based. More info can be found at Gamasutra and Forumopolis.

eBaying again

Now that I have moved into the new house, I’ve been organizing things and finding old stuff that I’ll never use again. What good is that stuff for? Selling on eBay! Today I’ll add things to the eBay page as I find things to get rid of. Hopefully tomorrow I’ll start the first auctions based on that list. As always, if you see something you want, you can make an offer directly to me before the auction starts. If the offer is reasonable, I’ll sell it to you.

And happy new year to everyone!