Monthly Archives: March 2014

Western Digital Black^2 Dual Drive

This week I had a windfall of cash and decided to buy myself a Solid State Hard Drive. Since my Alienware X51 only really has room for 1 hard drive and a dinky 256 SSD would not be terribly suitable, I decided to opt for a Western Digital Black^2 Dual Drive. This device is a 128 GB SSD and a 1 TB mechanical drive built together into a single laptop sized hard drive. The pro to this is I get two drived in a single package, the down side is mediocre  performance. While the Solid state is several magnitudes faster than the mechanic drive, it is sharing a single SATA data channel with the mechanical drive and so you loose some performance there.

My first problem with this drive was fitting it securely inside my computer. The X51 has a fixed SATA data/power connector where the hard drive pushed into it, rather than cables. So I had to do some serious garage engineering to get it in there all nice and snug.

My second problem was when I booted into the Linux install, it only saw the SSD drive, it did not see the 1 TB drive at all. I assumed this would probably be fixed with an updated kernel.  I found this was not the case. I went to the internet and found the USB key they sent with the drive was not just Windows drivers. It actually takes you to Western Digital’s website where you down load a program that unlocks the 2nd hard drive. So I installed Windows 7 on the system, got the unlocking program, ran it and sure enough, the 2nd hard drive shows up. In hindsight, I probably could have just plugged in the spiffy USB cable they sent with the drive, hooked it up to PezWitch’s system, downloaded the unlocking program there, ran it on the drive and saved myself the trouble of a Windows install.

Once I got back into the Linux installer, I found the two hard drives actually looked like a single drive, with two partitions, three if you include the 100 MB Windows boot loader. I left the partitions as they were except to change the file systems. the Windows boot loader I converted to a FAT 16 table, figuring I might eventually use it for a quick boot hack. The second partition, which would be the rest of the SSD I formatted as Ext4 and mounted to root “/” and the third partition, which is the mechanical drive, I converted to Ext4 as well and mounted to /home. Magically, this worked, I was able to install Linux and boot up with no issues.

It was at this point I was getting the nvidia card going and things went REALLY wack on me, and the system would not go into the GUI. The nvidia driver was borked or an update screwed me over, I am not sure if it is related to the hard drive or not. I was now nearly 24 hours and three OS installs into this mess and I still did not have a functional OS. Sadly it was time to relegate this technology to the “Not Ready for Prime Time” category. I put my old hard drive back into my system, I just can’t have shit flaking out on me. I have now installed it into my Laptop and giving it one more try, if I can not get a stable OS, it will be crossed off the list of Linux compatible devices and I will foist it off on PezWitch, maybe it will perform better in her M11x.


PezWitch reminded me of one thing I forgot to mention, While I was removing the old hard drive from my X51, I cut myself and bled all over the new drive. Take from that what you will.

Random thoughts on random shit

Pi day came and went with the usual “But But Tau!” stuff. This got me to thinking, there is a text file on the internet that has Pi to one billion digits. Surely somewhere there is a good cryptographic application for a billion numbers with no repeating patterns.


Titan (E42) – PL 10

Strength 12, Stamina 10, Agility 2, Dexterity 2, Fighting 6, Intellect 0, Awareness 1, Presence 1

All-out Attack, Daze (Intimidation), Diehard, Power Attack, Ultimate Effort: Toughness checks

Acrobatics 2 (+4), Athletics 2 (+14), Close Combat: Unarmed 2 (+8), Expertise: Retail Sales 2 (+2), Intimidation 6 (+7), Investigation 2 (+2), Ranged Combat: Throwing 2 (+4), Technology 2 (+2), Vehicles 2 (+4)


  • Titanic Endurance
    •    Enhanced Ability: Enhanced Stamina 6 (+6 STA)
    •    Immunity: Immunity 10 (Life Support)
    •    Impervious Defense: Impervious Toughness 10
    •    Regeneration: Regeneration 5 (Every 2 rounds)
  • Titanic Strength
    •    Enhanced Ability: Enhanced Strength 8 (+8 STR)
    •    Leaping: Leaping  12 (Leap 4 miles at 250 miles/hour in 1 minute)
    •    Power-lifting: Power-lifting 8 (+8 STR for lifting, 25 kton Load Limit)

Initiative +2
Grab, +6 (DC Spec 22)
Strike: Strike 5, +6 (DC 20)
Throw, +4 (DC 27)
Unarmed, +8 (DC 27)

Enemy: Iron Mask
Motivation: Doing Good


Dodge 10, Parry 10, Fortitude 10, Toughness 10, Will 10

Power Points
Abilities 40 + Powers 73 + Advantages 5 + Skills 11 (22 ranks) + Defenses 21 = 150

Titan always wanted to be a super hero and when his power expressed itself he was happy and elated. What he discovered though was he is not very good at it. He crossed paths with several major villains and lost to all of them. He now keeps to rescue and recovery work staying out of the way of better and more competent heroes. Business Man occasionally recruits him for jobs where he needs muscle, primarily because Titan knows how to stay out of the way and not break anything.

This is another Champions transplant, this was my character. He his a basic powerhouse and not terribly imaginative. On earth 42, Titan is kind of a super looser. In his personal life he has trouble keeping relationships, he works a dead end job and lives with his mother. His superhero life is not much better.

The Architect

The Architect (E42) – PL 10

Strength 0, Stamina 2, Agility 2, Dexterity 4, Fighting 2, Intellect 10, Awareness 7, Presence 0

Equipment 16, Great Endurance, Inventor, Jack-of-all-trades, Speed of Thought, Trance, Well-informed

Acrobatics 2 (+4), Athletics 2 (+2), Deception 2 (+2), Expertise: Science 6 (+16), Insight 2 (+9), Investigation 6 (+16), Perception 6 (+13), Persuasion 4 (+4), Sleight of Hand 4 (+8), Stealth 4 (+6), Technology 6 (+16), Treatment 2 (+12), Vehicles 4 (+8)


  • Gallifreyan Physiology
    •    Immortality: Immortality 15 (Return after 2 minutes; Limited: Can only regenerate 13 times)
    •    Immunity: Immunity 3 (Aging, Environmental Condition: Radiation, Sleep)
    •    Two Hearts: Enhanced Trait 1 (Advantages: Great Endurance)
  • Psychic Paper
    •    Illusion: Illusion 1 (Linked; Affects: One Sense Type – Sight, Area: 2 cft., DC 11; Limited: Limited to credentials)
    •    Mind Reading: Mind Reading 1 (Linked; DC 11; Limited: Limited to credentials)
  • Sonic Screwdriver: Variable 2
  • Time Lord
    •    Comprehend: Comprehend 4 (Languages – Read All, Languages – Speak All, Languages – Understand All, Languages – You’re Understood)
    •    Mind Reading: Mind Reading 4 (DC 14)
    •    Quickness: Quickness 2 (Perform routine tasks in -2 time ranks)
    •    Time Awarness: Senses 2 (Acute: Time Awareness, Awareness: Time (Mental))

Psychic Paper [Psychic Paper], Sonic Scewdriver [Sonic Screwdriver: Variable 2], Tardis

Initiative +10
Grab, +2 (DC Spec 10)
Mind Reading: Mind Reading 1 (DC Will 11)
Mind Reading: Mind Reading 4 (DC Will 14)
Throw, +4 (DC 15)
Unarmed, +2 (DC 15)

Motivation: Thrills


Dodge 3, Parry 3, Fortitude 8, Toughness 2, Will 10

Power Points
Abilities 54 + Powers 39 + Advantages 21 + Skills 25 (50 ranks) + Defenses 11 = 150

Tardis – PL 10

Strength 10, Defense 4, Toughness 14, Size Medium


  • Features
    • Artificial Intellegence: Feature 1
    • Bigger on the inside: Feature 1
  • Flight: Flight 7 (Speed: 250 miles/hour, 0.5 miles/round)
  • Hide in Plain Sight: Concealment 2 (Sense – Sight, Advantages: Hide in Plain Sight)
  • Space Travel: Movement 4 (Environmental Adaptation: Space Travel, Space Travel 3: other galaxies)
  • Time Travel: Movement 4 (Environmental Adaptation: Time Travel, Time Travel 3: any time)

Power Points
Abilities 10 + Powers 37 + Advantages 0 + Features 0 + Skills 0 (0 ranks) + Defenses 13 + Equipment 0 (0 ep) + Weapons & Armor 0 (0 ep) = 60

This started out as an experiment to see if I could do the Doctor in Mutants and Masterminds. Surprisingly, in terms of the game, the Doctor is not that high of powered character, on the other hand, the ability to move freely through time and space makes him incredibly powerful. I can totally see Thor playing this character and viewing Titan and Business Man as his “Companions” and complains that the Doctors companions are always cute redheads..

Business Man

Business Man (E42) – PL 10

Strength 0, Stamina 0, Agility 1, Dexterity 3, Fighting 4, Intellect 10, Awareness 5, Presence 1

Beginner’s Luck, Benefit, Wealth 4 (multimillionaire), Daze (Deception), Equipment 4, Fascinate (Persuasion), Hide in Plain Sight, Inventor, Jack-of-all-trades

Close Combat: Unarmed 1 (+5), Expertise: Business and Accounting 4 (+14), Expertise: Engineering 4 (+14), Insight 4 (+9), Investigation 4 (+14), Perception 4 (+9), Technology 4 (+14), Vehicles 4 (+7)


  • Brief Case (Easily Removable)
    •    Bigger on the inside than the outside: Feature 1
    •    Dazzle: Dazzle 10 (Affects Sense: Sight, Resisted by: Fortitude, DC 20)
    •    Impervious Defense: Impervious Toughness 10
    •    Various Gadgets: Variable 5 (technological; Limited: Small Technological devices)
  • Business Suit (Removable)
    •    Protection: Protection 10 (+10 Toughness)
  • Fedora (Easily Removable)
    •    Communication: Radio Communication 3
    •    Senses: Senses 2 (Analytical: Sight, Infravision)
  • Trench Coat (Removable)
    •    Concealment: Concealment 4 (All Visual Senses)
    •    Gliding: Flight 5 (Speed: 60 miles/hour, 900 feet/round; Gliding)

Audio Recorder, Car, Cell Phone (Smartphone), Concealable Microphone, Flash Goggles, Flashlight, Gas Mask, Handcuffs, Lock Release Gun, Mini-tracer, Multi-tool

Initiative +1
Dazzle: Dazzle 10, +3 (DC Fort 20)
Grab, +4 (DC Spec 10)
Throw, +3 (DC 15)
Unarmed, +5 (DC 15)

Motivation: Acceptance: Accepts that he is a total weirdness magnet for super hero/villain activity
Responsibility: Has  a job


Dodge 5, Parry 5, Fortitude 5, Toughness 10, Will 5

Power Points
Abilities 48 + Powers 63 + Advantages 14 + Skills 15 (29 ranks) + Defenses 10 = 150

Business Man is one of the great inventors and engineers of modern history. However he much prefers to “Crunch the Numbers” than build trinkets. Early in his life he realized for some unknown reason he is a magnet for Superhero/Super Villain activity. After being hurt a couple of times for being in the wrong place at the wrong time, he started developing defenses that were integrated into stylish three piece suits. He also maintains some offensive abilities, but he only tends to use them to keep Mooks and Henchmen away from himself and other innocent bystanders.

Business Man is generally considered to be an Urban Legend, but there are websites dedicated to this “Unknown man” who mysteriously appears in the background photos taken of various Super battles.

Business Man was originally conceived for a Champions game by my friend Bruce. To this day, I believe Bruce never actually put him on paper, although I suspect he will deny that. This is my re-imaging of Business Man for earth 42. I picture him, not as a member of a super team, but rather someone who just has incredible bad luck and ends up at the center various super battles, sort of a super powered innocent bystander,

Sexism and the Hi Tech industry

My friend wrote a really good piece on sexism, I especially liked;

 “I am far from Mr. Office Decorum and I’ll tell you I would have fired every person imvolved (or better, done like the Romans and have them draw beads then crucify every tenth one in the parking lot as a warning to others).”

I just have to ask – What the hell kind of place are these people working at?

Chad and I disagree on a wide variety of subjects, but one thing we both agree on is the need to all organization to maintain discipline within the ranks.

CentOS – Party like its 1999

We have a spare hard drive laying around, so I decided this weekend I was give CentOS a try. I have been using Ubuntu/Mint for several years now and for the most part it just works. I do the reinstall, run the updates, run a finisher script and i am done, usually takes less than 2 hours. Ubuntu and Mint are both downstream Debian variants, they are consumer oriented and about as dumbed down as it gets. CentOS is a Redhat and is designed as a corporate Enterprise level OS. I like to keep my skills sharp and sometimes a virtual machine is just not enough.

The initial install went smooth enough, all of my hardware was detected and drivers installed, it did however install the standard Xorg drivers for my NVIDIA card and it kind of went down hill from there. Virtually all of the software I normally use is not installed by default and worse, most of it is not available in the stock repositories. To get my video drivers, I had to add a repository, to install dropbox I had to add a repository, to get wxpython, I had to add a repository, it went on and on. Then I started getting rpm broken dependency errors. I felt like I was in 1999 again, seriously, I have not had to fight to install Flash on a Linux box in a very long time.

Say what you will about Mark Shuttleworth and the direction he is taking Ubuntu, but there is a good reason Ubuntu is kicking everyone else’s ass. It is because Shuttleworth took chances and forced progress into the distributions and solved all the big problem issues so I don’t have to edit my /etc/yum.repo.d/dropbox.repo file to fix an error that should not have been there in the first place and still has not been fixed in 6 months. I was going to try and work with CentOS for a week or two, but that is not going to happen, I switching hard drives back today.

Hacker (Earth 42)

Hacker (E42) – PL 8

Strength 5, Stamina 5, Agility 0, Dexterity 1, Fighting 1, Intellect 5, Awareness 1, Presence 1

Benefit 4: Root privileges on all Digitronix machines, Benefit: High level security consultant, Benefit: Support Team – Speed Metal Kids, Skill Mastery: Expertise: Computer Science

Close Combat: Mace: Strength-based Damage 5 1 (+2), Deception 4 (+5), Expertise: Computer Science 12 (+17), Insight 3 (+4), Investigation 1 (+6), Perception 3 (+4), Persuasion 2 (+3), Ranged Combat: Blast: Blast 8 2 (+3), Technology 9 (+14), Vehicles 4 (+5)


  • Apokoliptian Armor (Removable)
    •    Enhanced Ability: Enhanced Stamina 5 (+5 STA)
    •    Enhanced Ability: Enhanced Strength 5 (+5 STR)
    •    Force Field
      •       Immunity: Immunity 5 (Enviromental Conditions (All))
      •       Impervious Defense: Impervious Toughness 5
  • Cybernetic Implant
    •    Communication: Radio Communication 4
    •    Comprehend: Comprehend 2 (Machines / Electronics)
  • Mega Rod (Array, Easily Removable)
    •       Blast: Blast 8 (DC 23)
    •       Flight: Flight 5 (Speed: 60 miles/hour, 900 feet/round)
    •       Mace: Strength-based Damage 5 (DC 25)
    •       Teleport: Teleport 5 (900 feet in a move action, carrying 50 lbs.)
  • Mother Box (Removable)
    •    Boom Tube: Movement 3 (Space Travel 3: other galaxies)
    •    Healing: Healing 8
    •    Intelligent: Feature 2

Initiative +0
Blast: Blast 8, +3 (DC 23)
Grab, +1 (DC Spec 15)
Mace: Strength-based Damage 5, +2 (DC 25)
Throw, +1 (DC 20)
Unarmed, +1 (DC 20)

Motivation: Anarchist
Obsession: Curious, doesn’t like to be kept out


Dodge 1, Parry 1, Fortitude 5, Toughness 5, Will 4

Power Points
Abilities 18 + Powers 70 + Advantages 7 + Skills 21 (41 ranks) + Defenses 4 = 120

Before the war with Apokolips, Jack Marshall was world class programmer and computer hacker. He nearly single handedly wrote the operating system for Digitronix computers, system used by nearly every major company and government in the world. When the war came, the forces of Darkseid kidnapped Jack for his ability to effortlessly manipulate computers and communication system on earth, he was brainwashed and enhanced into a weapon against mankind. Jack did Darkseids bidding for months until he was rescued by the forces of New Genesis. After that he went underground until the war was over, then he tried to return to his old life. The cybernetic implant Jack now possesses allows him access all electronic systems in the world. He then uses his technology (Hacking) skills to manipulate those systems.

Jack has the standard issue of Apokolips equipment, armor, mega rod and motherbox, but even so, he is not a terribly effective combatant and only engages in direct combat to defend himself and bystanders, he much prefers to work from behind the scenes.

This character is based on Jack Marshal for the 1992/1993 comic book mini series The Hacker Files by DC Comics. The events of that comic book took place on Earth 42 about a year after the war with Apokolips, it was those events that spurred jack to becoming a Super Hero.

I started out wanting to make Hacker a PL 10 hero, but as i worked on him, I realized Mind Control (Machine Only) was too much. In keeping with the spirit of the character I removed the Mind Control (Machine Only), so He has to rely on his technology skill to manipulate the systems he is in communication with. This reduced him down to a PL 8 character, which I think works better for him since he was not originally meant to be a real super hero.

Oh John Ringo, No

I just finished reading Live Free or Die: Troy Rising by John Ringo. I would like to first say, John Ringo is a passably good writer, he can develop a decent plot and has an interesting sense of humor. The big problem with this book is the heavy handed right wing political agenda and Mary Sue central character. Don’t get me wrong, neither of these things is a necessarily a deal breaker, after all I have read and enjoyed the majority of Heinlein’s work. The problem is Heinlein was a better writer and knew how to convey an idea without shoving it down your throat. I was half way through my second reading of Star Ship Troopers before I realized the government of earth was not a real democracy, but rather a military dictatorship, where only those who served in the military were allowed to vote.

The Good: The book has a neat premise and a pretty good plot. I especially love the proto Death Star.

The Bad: Tyler Vernon, the main character, can do no wrong, he is the smartest, richest most excellent man in the universe. he is also boring and two dimensional, there is no other significant characters in the book.

The Ugly: When the aliens attack earth, they use biological weapons designed to kill everyone except blondes and makes blonde women go into heat on a regular basis and capable of multiple birth. Further, when the aliens start bombing from orbit they target all the big cities in blue states, I am pretty sure Dallas and Houston survived the bombing. Essentially, he killed off most of the non-white people in the world, turned all the blonde women into baby making machines and eliminated all the liberal strongholds in the country. Then Tyler Vernon commented while it was really horrible all these people died, it was really a good thing because it would help the economy.

More Facebook Crap

I am currently trying to organize FaceBook to make it a more manageable tool. left unmodified, you pretty much get an unending stream of conscience from the entity known as “Your Friends”. The first thing I did was remove everyone from my news feed except those who consistently post interesting content, unsurprisingly, that was about 10% of my friends list. I then clicked on the Friends link on the side bar where I can manage lists. I took advantage of the pre-made lists for Close Friends, Acquaintances, Family and then I added a Work list.

  • Family: Everyone I am related to either by blood or marriage.
  • Close Friends: Anyone not related with whom I have a life long bond with.
  • Work: Everyone with whom my relationship is primarily professional.
  • Acquaintances: Pretty much everyone else who did not fit into any of the above categories.

I then added everyone on my Work list to my Restricted list, this keeps those people from seeing posts unless I specifically allow them to see it. This keeps me from having to edit myself, or worry about SFW content or an off color statement affecting my career. And of course when the next culling comes, the Work and Acquaintances pools gives me a short list for the UN-friending.

Gargoyle Two

Since I built my own motion activated surveillance system I have come back to re-visit the Gargoyle project. Gargoyle One can be seen here;

It was built using a Dell Mini 9 stuffed into a backpack and a webcam. I have made many modifications since then. I replaced the backpack with a fishing vest (Lots of accessible pockets) and the Mini 9 was replaced with a Raspberry Pi. The mistake I made with the first one, was I wanted it all and it was just not going to happen with the hardware I had access to and the limitation of size. So I narrowed down scope of the project, all this rig is suppose to do is record and save input and then provide a way to display the data. I have no need to access a desktop or use it surf the web, I have a smartphone for that. the first thing I gave up on was trying to capture video and went for a continuous stream of pictures, about 2 per second. this lowered the CPU and disk space requirements. A 320×240 jpeg takes up less than 10kb, a 640×480 jpeg takes less than 30kb so I can easily store thousands of these pictures on the 32GB SD card in the RPi. Any decent resolution of video is going take up far mare drive space then the equivalent time span of pictures. The ultimate test of this is going to be Comic Con in October. Rather than walk around carrying my cell phone asking for pictures, I can just walk around and absorb information automatically. I will need to test it in crowds of people beforehand however, to make sure my idea works in reality or if I just end up with thousands of blurry pictures.

Earth 42 Backstory

As with Earth 1 and Earth 2, Darkseid invaded earth 42 5 years ago. The difference for Earth 42 was there were no high powered superheroes on earth to take him on. Fortunately the Green Lantern Corp at the behest of HighFather, the leader of the New Gods on Genesis, came to the rescue of Earth 42. The New Gods and six Green Lanterns, each leading a Manhunter battalion beat back Darkseid and his para-demons in a three year bloody struggle. This was the advent of meta humans on earth, the Green Lantern of Space Sector 2814, Abin Sur was killed late in the conflict and was replaced Hal Jordan, Atlantis and Themescyra came out of hiding and helped defend the planet and Metron of the New Gods was responsible for putting Clark Kent back together after his near fatal accident. Although none of the Justice League members was active during the war. High Father and the Guardians of the Universe both agree that none of earth heroes can stand against Darkseid, should he return, but as they grow and mature things will change.

In this world, Superman and Wonder Woman are both teenagers. Green Lantern and Cyborg are both older and experienced military men. Aquaman, Batman and the Flash fall somewhere in the middle of this. The start of the campaign would be these heroes coming together to fight Steppenwolf, Darkseid’s son whom got left behind when the para-demon army was finally driven off planet.

Facebook and me

I think Facebook has deemed me a threat and is defending itself against me. I am trying to delete all my old posts and unnecessary photos. Just when I think I have them all deleted, I come back 20 minutes later and BANG!, there are 5 posts I seemingly missed. Either Facebook is hiding posts from me or it is not deleting my posts and it is playing mind games with me. My personal theory is it is trying to make the process so difficult that I will eventually give up and not try again.

Pezwitch and eReaders

PezWitch is ahead of her time in many ways. One of those way is she has been waiting for eBooks since probably the 70’s.Back in 1998 or 1999 a small little known company came out with the Rocket Ebook. The Rocket was a good first try, it was heavy and its battery life was way too short, especially when using the back light, but it worked and it was what PezWitch had been waiting for. Unfortunately the company was bought out a year later and the new owners were opposed to the idea of free content like Project Gutenberg. PezWitch abandoned her Rocket and I bought her a Hiebook, which failed on several levels. The first of which, there was no content available for it beyond Project Gutenberg and an extremely small library of books you could purchase for it. Its Windows driver was bad and the software used to transfer books to the device was slow, clunky to use and unstable, it did not take long for PezWitch to loose interest in this device. There were several other attempts at making an eReader, but she remained uninterested for several years, until 2009 when I had been hearing good things about the Amazon Kindle and decided to give one to PezWitch for her birthday and see how she liked it.

The Kindle is what she had been waiting for, it was easy to use, stored a massive number of books, was easy on the eyes and best of all had a 3G network connection so she could buy eBooks any time, anywhere, Amazon had produced a great product for a reasonable price. A couple of months later I bought one for myself. In the last year, PezWitch’s original Kindle died and we bought her another one, a few weeks later I sat on mine and cracked the screen. We bought a tool set and I transferred the screen from her dead Kindle to mine and I was up and running again. Well a several of weeks ago mine died as well and our house was robbed and PezWitch’s replacement Kindle was one of the items stolen. So we have bought two new Kindles in the last two weeks.

The other day PezWitch found her Hiebook, I was a bit surprised by how heavy it is and how little memory it had. There was an old 64MB SmartMedia card in it and I laughed at how ridiculously small it was. Of course at the time we were probably excited about how huge it was. We lost the charger and the data cable for it, fortunately in my parts box, I had a USB power cable that worked nicely to charge it up again. She was about half way through “Case of the Vanishing Beauty” by Richard S. Prather, I am guessing it was not all that good of a book. While the battery did charge, it seems to be loosing its charge very quickly, so I imagine the battery is bad. I also tried to update the time and date, butthe device would not take the changes. A hard reset of the device did not fix it, so I am thinking the firmware is broken in some way as well. Ah well, it was not like I was going to use it for anything anyway.