Wednesday, March 29, 2006

The ides of March

29 March is not my day. Today I had attempted to run away from home following a spat with my stepmother over my declining physics grade (although I've completed 18 more extra-credit problems to fill some of the void), but only got as far as my workplace before I realised that I was doing something stupid. It was now, after speaking with a PPN official, that I realised that today was not a day in which you'd find me very happy.

Exactly one year ago, my account was deleted from PKMN.NET's database. As many of you readers know, I was involved in the PokéLab, which I joined merely 28 days before the ban and thus was obligated to help fight PKMN.NET. By 29 March it had become clear that I was condoning the theft of content that TPL was practicing, and I was acting out, just trying to find something that I could put on a résumé. As you also know, the site fell apart in October and I was readmitted to PKMN.NET following a public apology. Since the I've had a clean record.

While I don't have any other records on the day in previous years, I was anticipating today to be a bad one, and from now on I'm looking forward to making sure that 29 March 2007 isn't as severe.

Friday, March 24, 2006

The evil delays

So for about five years now, Windows XP has been the latest and most advanced workstation PC offered. For four years the PlayStation 2 has reigned over Sony’s immobile console line. And for about three years Office 2003 has been the top-of-the-line word processing programme for businesses, schools, and homes. Before then, their companies have had a habit of releasing version after version after version yet of their products. But Microsoft has realised that it was no longer possible for them to feign contention over one operating system that had two versions that were essentially upgrades from two other versions it had released; Windows XP Professional was the step up from Windows 2000, and Windows XP Home Edition was the upgrade from Windows Millennium Edition (albeit skipping the Tahoma-font interface step that Windows 2000 took). Sony’s release of the PSP showed the public that its computer entertainment division was indeed in the midst of change; even before the PSP was first proposed speculation on the PS3 was rife. And Microsoft’s Office XP software paled in comparison to Office 2003, which many workstations adopted from Office 97 or 2000 since they didn’t have time to go the extra step.

The first part of remedying this stint was to announce the names and features of entirely new products. Sony’s PlayStation 3 boasts a hard drive and an online gaming network that’s already being beefed up in an attempt to emulate another thing Microsoft can brag about, Xbox Live. Microsoft, however, has released beta versions of Windows Vista to valued supporters and subscribers to the corporation website and intends to release the final product in November to large companies — but it admitted that it wasn’t even near ready to take the product to market for home PCs. And Office 2007 hasn’t even left the drawing board yet, and even at that stage reviewers have criticised Microsoft’s option to discard the traditional menu-and-toolbar interface that characterises most products that run on a Windows machine. (They do so as well for products such as Windows Defender.) And Internet Explorer 7 betas have been released twice, both with serious holes that needed to be repaired and showed that it would never be compatible with Windows XP or lower-grade PCs. And they responded late to the urge to restrict compatibility to Windows XP by allowing Windows Live Messenger only to run on that operating system — and there exists no sign of a definite release date for that programme.

The reason for the lag can be traced back to the scheming that le to the products offered by the two companies. Office was released as an alternative to the faulty Microsoft Works programme (which is still on market but offers no compatibility with .doc or .xls files), Windows itself was the result of stealing the idea of a graphical user interface from Xerox, and Sony’s PlayStation consoles emerged from black-ops consultation with researchers from Nintendo. The first two eventually overshadowed Apple (who strangely haven’t released an new operating system in about five years, instead resorting to development of peripherals such as the iPod), and the PlayStation was released in 1993, three years ahead of the Nintendo 64 — thus walloping Nintendo in the videogame market by capitalising on slow reaction time. When the PlayStation was officially declared obsolete, Sony was about to move onto plans for its successor when a surprise onslaught of indicia made for Nintendo — more Mario games, the introduction of Pokémon outside Japan — caused a disruption. So plans were sped up and the PlayStation 2 was brought to market, coinciding with the new millennium.

If Sony was able to produce quality material under these constraints, we figured, it would be able to release the PlayStation 3 before Christmas with no problem. However, this is the point in which these consoles no longer are being restricted to playing games and offering multiple controller ports — they now have their own IP addresses and connect to a server just like the computer. Microsoft’s Xbox console achieved this shortly after the initial release, although Sony had promised these services just mere months before the PlayStation 2 was released. Not even two years ago the PS2 was able to do this — and last November Microsoft compounded the dilemma by bringing the Xbox 360 to market. However, this caused yet another problem that would lead to suspension of production of that console and the compromising of releases of Vista, which were promised for mid-2006. Microsoft’s research and development money situation had just taken a very sickening turn, propelled by doubt as to whether current hardware would be able to support the operating system at all.

So what happened?

Looking from the viewpoint of the companies that manufacture PCs and hardware — Dell, Intel, AMD, HP — the progress of technology in that sector, which has been rendered a mere tertiary industry by computer marketing and the creation of the programmes and games for those systems, is not fast. In order to support Windows Vista, Pentium will have to: a) release a new Pentium processor or b) create a version of Celeron or Pentium 4 that goes beyond the HT technology that was created to better support Windows XP. Depending on the size of upgraded programme files, new hard drives may have to be marketed to support the operating system, and low-end PCs that were shipped with Windows 98 but later were reformatted with Windows XP may not be able to upgrade to Vista. And don’t get me started on the amount of required DDRAM. Unsurprisingly, the potential insufficiencies of existing technologies provide an excuse for Microsoft to delay the operating system.

Another problem would be the servers. Windows Server 2003 is an emulation of Windows XP that is supposed to provide better support for these operating systems than Windows Server 2000 or NT. Here we have to ask whether Vista will work well with any of these network operating systems. If not, Vista should have a seventh flavour to Vista — Vista Server perhaps, or maybe another version of the Enterprise flavour. Of course, that would only drag the release date down further, so the smart thing would be to make Vista work enough like Windows XP to be compatible with network operating systems for the time being and prevent the Open Group and Novell from racing to the drawing board to create and commission new versions of UNIX and NetWare.

If entanglement with NOS manufacturers wasn’t enough to worry about, Sony has yet to create its own servers, thus refraining from an undependable ad hoc gaming network. Microsoft has luckily been a step ahead of this by creating gaming servers and allowing more than 10 people to be in rooms at the same time (which, of course, results in the proverbial Assault match on Halo 2). Current ad hoc networks such as Nintendo’s WiFi programme and peer-to-peer workstation networks lack a common service and thus are underpowered because the source for required files or gaming venues will shift from workstation or console to workstation or console. The PSP has this weakness as well, although it makes up for it by playing Internet browser when it’s given a computer network to hook up to (although it can’t participate in ad hoc computer networks). Hopefully when the PS3 is out and plans for the sequel to the PSP begin, the ad hoc technology will be scrapped and the new console will be able to connect to others via the servers that support the PS3, if ever they exist.

Then we have the Blu-ray dilemma. This technology — which is supposed to increase playing quality and storage space for CDs and finally make them directly writable on the computer — has been delayed for years on end now, and Sony’s mistake was trying to invest in this technology to include, in any primitive form, in the PS3. Because of the diversion of money to this and the letdown that occurred, Sony is hard-pressed to develop just the right technology for the PS3, so the product remains on the drawing board for more months now.

Finally, you have expectations from the consumer. Office 2007 is expected to provide XML support and specific features for different areas of work (such as government work or school). Whilst it promises new features, the mounting criticism it has received for its ‘innovative’ toolbar interface has reached breaking point — it’s not exactly in the style of Microsoft to eliminate the menu bar at top and force the icons to change once a certain situation such as track changing and macro recording arises, and it’s certainly the goal of the company to provide enough access to make everything they want readily accessible. So the concept is constantly being revised, thus delaying the release of the new version. As for the PlayStation 3, the consumer will not want to depend on loose memory cards, but instead will want a hard drive that can be transferred from one console to another, a concept that is currently being considered. And when Windows Vista ships out, it should for starters include more resistance to threats than Windows XP has and than Internet Explorer 7 currently carries — bye-bye Norton!

When you look at the small print, you start to realise that the delays of the PS3, Vista, and Office are founded in more matters than we really have control over. When Windows XP came out, it was released in two significant versions to upgrade two older operating systems, 2000 and ME. Now that Vista is coming in seven flavours geared for business, the home, school, and third-world countries, more research will have to be done to ensure that the final product both meets personal standards and is compatible with existing versions and is prepared for future releases that require the use of the operating system. And when the PS3 is released, it should come in a format that helps — which means adopting a proper network standard for once and ditching the Spiderman font on its cover.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Site review 1

Taking advantage of the need for many aspiring graphic artists to obtain images to integrate into banners and avatars, has become one of the most popular venues for Neopets and Pokémon drawings, among caricatures and likenesses of other animé subjects as well. The FAQ tells us that the site is a transliteration (which I recognised right away as katakana) of 'starlight'.

Kuitsuku, the mascot for Suta-Raito. The FAQ states that it was a primary concept design for the Nutrinopets section of Neopets.
Photo provided by
Looking along the side of the page we are greeted with a link to the splash page (which is becoming a convention for sites formed by people like the webmaster of this site, probably because 'splashes' are just foretastes of what's to come and, in the case of art sites, an effective vehicle for the product), links to affiliate information (surprisingly, there's no PPN topsite link in sight), a tag board (which both contradicts the disclaimer that there's no interactive material on the site as stated in the FAQ and somehow resizes the main browser to the size of the tag board itself!), images and caricatures (the main product), and comedy material such as 'They'd Never Say', 'Oops!', and 'Wall of Shame'.

The Wall of Shame is a result of the images strictly being kept out of the public domain. Because there have been so many offences, it's become practice for the actual Neopets website to blacklist beauty contest entries that contain pictures taken from Suta-Raito or made with images from the site. Alongside those are blatant claims to the pictures, with some so raw that a link to Suta-Raito remains. And alongside those are pictures edited so poorly that it's rather easy to tell that they were taken from the site and redone in Paint. And alongside those are drawings that imitate Suta-Raito poses! The Wall of Shame blurs out the names of offenders due to a report that requested it, yet the webmaster adds comedy value by adding innuendo from her own red pen to screenshots of the offences.

Another item on the list to look at is 'Ask Piccolo'. It isn't real-time, so users will have to mail in their questions, but those that do have their questions answered alongside small caricatures of Piccolo (one is a result of him turning into a green Pikachu). Alongside this you'll find other animé elements, including outtakes and concocted interviews.

Finally we have the other site departments, which include the Oekaki (which, for some of you that have recently heard, is like a hybrid of Paint and mIRC) and a separate site called Sutaro (another katakana rendering!) in which you can commission art. Proceeds from commissions eventually fuel Suta-Raito's hosting.

Looking away from each individual page and focusing on the template, the blue skin (apparently one of many revises) definitely fits; it matches the drawings very well and coincides with the style of writing found throughout the site (in which you'll often find emoticons and a bit of over-emphasis). Despite the lack of interactive material, you'll keep going through it because of the upbeat environment and the comedy humour that you'll find in few other places.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

The proxies

When I came to my school everyone was talking about the Novell BorderManager proxy that everyone had to go through in order to access the Internet. Back then the filter blocked on general subject and often denied access to sites that were part of the curriculum, so the filter had to be adjusted. At the end of freshman year it had been programmed to return false on certain URLs, and it stayed that way until recently.

The reason for the inefficacy of the filter then was how easy bypassing it was. The filter was set in place only when the Internet Options (whose window wasn't blocked!) had the proxy checkboxes ticked and the proxy pointed to On certain computers (including six in the library), the checkboxes could just be unticked and the filter would be lifted, since there was an unintentionally planted LAN in the school. It became a pasttime to look for computers that were connected to the forbidden LAN — until Christmas break ended. When we returned, the school was in the process of changing all of the computers, and from how they were all formatted the 'forbidden LAN' now encompassed the entire campus.

This was until today, when a scrap of paper landed on my table at lunch. Inscribed on it were several arrangements that I recognised as numbers and ports — and from what the passer told me, they were proxy directions that he used to get around the filter that replaced BorderManager two weeks before. Because the new blocker was in the way of most of the network, the passer had to look at home for public pointers; at school many of them worked but the administration had quickly caught on to the scheme and cut off the proxies. Such methods exercised by the students, however, were signs that the king-must-die perseverance of the student body to get to MySpace was not about to let up.

Recently I read in an article in the Press of Atlantic City about the Vineland district's blocking method and the cause for blocking certain sites such as MySpace. Apparently there has been a rash in attacks that resulted as a result of what was posted on the site, which has led to an expulsion hearing in California for someone that outlined a death plan on their profile page as well as increased sex attacks.

For these reasons — and the fact that the site was vestigial in administrators' eyes, referring to its devolution from one of the dating sites that eHarmony and are now — and the students' clamour to the site to arrange online meetings or, in the cases of those with social impediments, outlets of communication, MySpace will continue to be blocked. Each proxy will be blocked. And when it comes to the fact that people are using that site to communicate with others whenever they can scavenge for free time, they should consider forums, many of which are mercifully unblocked and offer experiences similar to those found on MySpace chatrooms.

And pooh pooh to those on PKMN.NET that go there!

Monday, March 13, 2006

Tell me....

....If you read this blog?

Like many others before me, I've entered the stigma of recording my daily life by starting what the technical world has affectionately called the blog. Often it's challenged me to write about what I love and what I hate. It's encouraged me to take a stand against the people who place Pokémon porn fics on a site that's not geared for a porn audience, the people that let their entire lives revolve around MySpace, and the people that see it best for their lives to lead or follow along in cliques. Thus Cross Stinging Reality has grown.

However, I know that some people take the info and walk off, often not putting it to good use. So I'm copying James (again!) and demanding the next person to see this blog to leave a comment so I can keep roll. I won't allow you to remain anonymous anymore. I want everyone to show themselves. So here's the question to chew on for the moment: Who are you, the reader?

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Eulogy to Milošević

Today the fellowship of corrupt world leaders commemorates the loss of one of our finest men, a man that was determined to bring back together the pieces of a lost glory that thrived before Gorbachev sent this world into total darkness. He visualised a place in which there would exist only one people, one idea, and one race. He was the man who would do anything to ensure that his goals were met and that he would live to see them accomplished at his hand, in spite of the porocess causing the dreadful massacre of thousands of poor souls who sought refuge from their own dilemmas in Albania, Greece, and Bulgaria. At the same time, he would go out with his family, as a family man should do, and perform the actions that had these side effects. With his beloved wife Marija beside him, and the influence of his children spurring him forward, he would oversee one of the most tactical but ill-starred campaigns that the world has ever seen. Today we honour a man that was dear to the hearts of those that supported chaos and anarchy that would yield power and revenue for them.

We honour Slobodan Miloševi
ć, who died at the hands of the World Court this Friday past. May you forever rest in pieces, as may your dream of a country.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Day 3 of Testing

I realised only today that it wasn't another picture prompt that we were doing. This time we had two story analyses (this time editorials) and a persuasive writing task that was suppsed to be an evaluation of some student's claim that caring for his siblings was community service. Again, I had to rebuke this claim for a few solid reasons:
Firstly, he did not volunteer to do it. His parents delegated that task to him instead. . . .The objective of the volunteer credit programme is to encourage students to willingly donate their time to the direct benefit of the community. It does not call for students to just bow to the judgement of a superior.

As can be seen, I had to italicise a lot of words in the required essays to show my fury at the situations. At least I managed to get in a healthy amount of writing that I hope should please the reviewers in Trenton.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Day 2 of testing

After illegally flipping to the back of the answer pamphlet after the same procedures as yesterday were carried out, it turns out that we have yet another dose of picture prompts, critical reading, and persuasion up next.

That aside, today's work was rather easy to do despite all of the scare tactics that our instructors had tried on us. Either that, or the persuasive essay I had to draw up — a letter protesting the removal of the football team at a school — made it all seem very easy and simple. If I had memorised the litany I had given the phantasmal school board, I'd walk you through it all; all I can say now is that while I was able to come up with three long reasons why removing the football team would be detrimental to the district, I went off on a tangent a bit and had a go at them for supposedly being competitive.

Lastly, let me make it known to you that our team is revered by all others across the prefecture, and that they are training their teams whilst pipe-dreaming of defeating us. . . .I know some of you lot to be competive, so it may not turn out well for you if you wish to remain at the cream of the crop.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Day 1 of testing

It’s here. It's what the instructors at school have all endeavoured to arm us for, what they gave us guns filled with words, penmanship, logic, and calculation to go out against, and what's required for us to graduate high school and relieve ourselves of the prospect of having to endure countless, long hours at the remediation desk. It’s a spectre that’s haunted us for three years and has subtly grafted our minds to excel. It’s a New Jersey High School Proficiency Assessment (HSPA) examination.

Like everyone else, I entered the testing room with a bit of apprehension. The day before all of the graphing calculators had been collected and their programmes wiped as part of a security precaution. Today we got them back and were told to sit in a tight grid. Some smaller desks had been brought together to afford the student more space to work. As soon as we settled down, we were called up to get a drink of apple juice and a few fruit chews to hold us over for the parts of the exam.

Then the teacher took up a pile of test booklets — green, hideous leaflets decorated with blanks, spaces, and areas in which we were expected to record our answers to complex questions and show our computation. We then received our test forms, which were bound into three sections and could only be opened by rubbing the seals with the eraser. As soon as the scrap paper and measurement tools were passed out, the teacher read what was on the script that she had been given for about five minutes before we were finally told to begin.

The test itself was easy. It’s illegal for me to disclose any of the questions, but what I can tell you is that all of the courses that we had taken with our math instructors had rendered all of the questions easy to answer or explain. I even found myself writing paragraphs to explain away some of the responses because I had so much time and apprehension. All in all, however, all I had to do was use very simple logic to answer each question and, in the cases of some open-ended questions, clear two or more tasks in one stroke.

I’ll be blogging the rest of the test, although you won’t get questions or responses from me. Next on the menu: a hearty reading evaluation, a main course of essay corrections and a filling persuasive essay, and for dessert a science beta that won’t be formally administered until next year test.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

The triumvirate comes back

As a small update to the events of February, Shiny Zapdos and Jamarie have returned. This is due to a secret liaison with Rich done under the consition that they not apply for moderator for a while. They are also banned from the Team and Clan Boards for thirty days.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

TPL revival authorised

Yesterday a member that phished with Actionshark's email had sent an email to me concerning a revival of TPL. At first I dismissed it as froth, but looking at the cBox transcript below it seems to be in reality a completely different scenario.

AS: i think he should take this domain name, its a lot better than invisionfree
2 Mar 06, 03:03 PM
epyon: strider, if u need any help on learning how to build your own site (or if u wont to take over just let me know and ill tell u how, but you'll need access to a paypal account
1 Mar 06, 06:54 PM
Strider: It's not dying. I just haven't invited members yet...
1 Mar 06, 04:48 PM
TUH: i dont think u understood what i meant when i said "dont let it die". i mean if u must make it alive again as a roting zombie, if it dies, try to let it die with some dignity.
1 Mar 06, 04:47 PM
TUH: o no, im not getting into this **** again, im not joining
28 Feb 06, 12:31 AM
Strider: Well, can you just join? Just in case.
27 Feb 06, 04:18 PM
TUH: not to make it die again. i think its tried to die.. what... 4 times now? 5? well several times anyway. anyway peace.
27 Feb 06, 04:16 PM
TUH: yeah, me and epyon are out, and im pretty sure all of us admins wish of its death by nuke. yeah dont try to get red socks fan, he hasnt been on in months. anyway yeah try...
26 Feb 06, 09:10 PM
Strider: I ended up adding some new things.
26 Feb 06, 06:46 PM
anonymous: yeah you will...
26 Feb 06, 09:20 AM
Strider: Thanks!! I won't get it a bad name!!
25 Feb 06, 11:30 PM
epyon: haha true dat and TUH and your masta epyon are not going to be apart of TPL any more we wish of its death to be near but if the ppl wont it alive then so be it
25 Feb 06, 11:27 PM
anonymous: sorry, got some typos. dont want to upset your gayness: nobody, making.
25 Feb 06, 11:25 PM
epyon: ehh wtvr its kool with me i guess just dont give us a bad name if u go with it, and Strider if u need images just contact me my e-mail is _____________
25 Feb 06, 11:24 PM
anonymous: that is plain and simple copyright enfringement. well i hope knowone catches u loving tpl like a swedish hoar and lmaking an illegal sucky version of it.
25 Feb 06, 03:08 PM
Strider: My name is Rukario there.
25 Feb 06, 03:07 PM
25 Feb 06, 03:07 PM
Strider: I made it. All it needs is some work. PLease I will need help making te banner. It can live once more.
25 Feb 06, 01:36 PM
Strider: We can build a new site with the same name. There is nohing wrong with that now is there?
24 Feb 06, 08:18 PM
AS: this is TPL and its copyright
21 Feb 06, 09:24 PM
Flane: I'll go with it.
17 Feb 06, 07:36 PM
Strider: I want to build a new tpl. Whose with me??
13 Feb 06, 01:58 PM
bleep: wow this thing is still active o.O

As people that read up on the TPL investigations (in December) know, the site was hacked in order to disrupt its growth. However, Epyon is currently trying, as can be seen here, to start another version of the site, evidently in the hopes of resuming the disarray that made the old site famous. The messages tell us that a hacker, Strider, has taken the name Rukario that appears on the new site. It also shocks us by revealing that The Ultimate Hacker, albeit the site's original founder, is adamant about staying way from the new project.

Again, this message is to assure people that are reading that I am not taking action alongside them; in fact, I'm planning to crash their party very soon.

Karma again

Ever since PKMN.NET implemented karma back in January, the new wave of complaints had swamped signature queries and threats to the Name Rater — negative karma and the gap between the people that solicited Forum Games and the administrators as far as the figures went. So, in an olive-branch bid, everyone's karma has been reset and now people that have the power to do so can only applaud people.

It amazes me that I hadn't thought of restricting the controls to just applaud people. However, when it comes down to it, it'll only soften the complaining. Now that the option to reduce karma has been revoked, people are going to see 0 as the brink of doom now. When negative figures were possible, zero was nirvana (no pun intended); now it'll be an outlet for complaining about why it hasn't been raised and, if it has, why it's only done so sporadically.

I may be overreacting to this, I'm sure. Eliminating negative figures will definitely reduce the complaining in spite of the drastic figure shift incurred. It also brings to a close the chapter that cost us respected member Invader Zim and etched scars of inequality in PKMN.NET. I'm slightly elated, I have to admit, but there is still idle to deny that people are going to see a negative end of this. And of course, the administrators, being interdependent as they are, can only expect more karma for themselves — deservedly so!

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Will they stop?

Some member called 'jack white' has sent an email using a phished version of Actionshark's email concerning a possible revamp of The PokéLab.
The Pokelab is alive once again. It is legal and we
will have a change in staff(since the old tpl staff
doesn't want to join). Go to the site and meet your
friends once again. For those who never knew anything
about the Pokelab, it is a very good site that was
shut down. Now someone is starting it up again. All we
need is for the site to get started. Please join this
site and help us get started. The Pokelab will lilve
once more!!

The email came exactly a year after Epyon started gathering people to join the original TPL in the first place and was also sent to people such as Raven the Hero, Dracon, and Iceduck, all of whom are embers of PKMN.NET (Iceduck, or Steffan, is an administrator).

This post is to assure people that are receiving such emails to ignore them. We as the original administrators of TPL (that not including the administrator Rukario) are not planning to continue operations under the guise anymore; this was decreed more than five months ago and stands permanently pursuant to the covenant.