The blog style was too bland and I was missing the orange and yellow of this template, so I changed it back. If I do decide to change the blog template again it will have to be to something equally as colorful as this one. I’ll see if I get around to doing that during the Christmas break.

A 15-year-old girl died after an allergic reaction from kissing her boyfriend’s peanut buttered lips. She died in a Quebec hospital Wednesday, November 23rd, after doctors were unable to treat her allergic reaction to the kiss the previous weekend. Sadly, 50 to 100 people die in the U.S. each year because of severe allergic reations to peanuts.

I am truly disappointed with the “bug” that has caused XBL Gold Subscription card users who use a Microsoft Passport account with another Microsoft Premium Service, such as MSN Music, Hotmail Plus, Etc., to receive the following error message:

“Your account has been suspended due to a problem with your payment option. Please use a different payment option or update your current information in Account Management.”

This has occurred to several users, including several Zero Hour attendees, and we have been discussing the issue on the Xbox Forums. Sadly, initial users that experienced this issue were told by Xbox Live Support Staff to delete their accounts from their hard drive and recover them. Not only did this NOT fix the issue, but everyone’s saved games were lost without warning.

The consolidated Xbox Forum thread that is tracking this issue is located at the following link. The consolidated thread has links to all of the other threads regarding the issue as well as a list of users that are experiencing the problem.

The fact that the Xbox Live Support Staff have no idea how to deal with the issue and are giving users conflicting information is very frustrating. Not everyone that experiencing the issue is a member of the Xbox Forums, so who knows how many Xbox Live Gamertags are affected. Most disappointing of all is that it seems that the most loyal Microsoft users—those with other Premium services—are the ones experiencing the problem.

I was told by support that “they are working on the problem,” but they don’t know how long it will take to fix. I sent a letter detailing this problem to the Xbox Live Director of Programming, Major Nelson, to see if it will expedite a solution–we’ll see if that makes a difference. Until then, I won’t be able to answer any messages on or play on XBL. This totally sucks ass!

Two good things happened yesterday: 1) my mom came home from the hospital, eight days after her surgery, and 2) I picked up an Xbox 360 on launch day. My mom is home and being cared for by my aunt, who is visiting from Puerto Rico, and her health is stable. Once she gains a little more strength, likely in a couple of weeks, she’ll begin chemo. Thanks again to all that have kept her is their hearts and prayers.

The Xbox 360, what can I say, it is amazing! Even though I’ve only played it for a few hours I am very impressed with it. I am particularly excited about the High Definition resolution. The color and the detail in every game, particularly PGR3 is incredible. The backgrounds are so realistic that sometimes you crash from the distraction of neon lights, bridge scenery, and bystanders. People that say it is only a slight step up from the Xbox must not be playing the games in native 720p HD resolution. Once you go to HD you can’t go back.

I am excited to play all of you all online on Xbox Live so please leave your Gamer Tags or send me a friend request on Live.

Earlier today in Virginia, a thief robbed an EB Games store by demanding two Xbox 360 systems at gunpoint. The police responded quickly and apprehended the thief shortly after the robbery. This is proof positive that mass hysteria has set in surrounding the release of the console and people are doing anything to get their hands on one. Crazy.

Few stores in the city will be open for the launch of the Xbox 360 console tonight at midnight. Best Buy, where I am getting my console, will close tonight at its normal time and simply will open early tomorrow for those lined up to get one of the 40 non-pre-ordered consoles that will be sold there. People who pre-ordered will go to the store before it opens to the pubic to pick up their systems. Many stores are bracing for the onslaught and excitement is in the air.

There are only three days left for what has got to be the most hyped video game console launch in history. Kids are already starting to lineup to purchase a console at the Best Buy in San Francisco to get one of only 40 consoles that have not been assigned to pre-order customers, like myself. That’s a full three days before the Best Buy will open! Best Buy will not sell systems at midnight on Tuesday and will instead open to the public at 8:00AM. Is the hoopla worth it? Only time will tell.

I’ve been logging into the Xbox.com website almost daily to read the forums and news about the Xbox 360 launch. Well, I just tried to check it out and it looks like the Xbox.com website and the Xbox Live servers are all down for the count. My Xbox Live Gamer Card that is linked from the blog home page can’t even be displayed right now! This is a pretty bad situation considering that the Xbox 360 launch is only one week away. If the Xbox Live servers can’t handle the traffic now, how are they supposed to hang after the launch? Stay tuned.

Update: It was back up after a couple of hours. I don’t know how long it was down, but it’s not a good sign this close to the launch of the console. Hopefully it was just an isolated incident.

My mom is going into surgery today and will likely be in the hospital for the next week. Again, thank you all that have given me and my family much needed support during this difficult time. We ask you to please continue to keep her in your thoughts and prayers.

Xbox 360

Although officially Best Buy isn’t selling pre-orders for the Xbox 360, the San Francisco store is selling a bundle that comes with the premium system, an extra wireless controller, two controller play and charge kits, a faceplate, one-year Xbox Live subscription, and seven games for a cool grand. Since I was already spending close to $800 on the online order at EBGames, I figured this wasn’t that much more money to spend for a guaranteed system on launch day morning. Besides, I was bound to buy seven games eventually. I cancelled the online pre-order that I made a few months back and will be at Best Buy at 6:00AM on 11/22 to pick up my system. This is much better than waiting for Fedex or UPS to deliver the online order, which may not get to my house until the afternoon, or worse yet, the next day. Ready to play on launch day.

Let me take you back in time. Back to a time when 386 computers were cutting edge, DOS 5.0 had just been released, and Windows was still but a glimmer in some Seattle programmer’s eye. Years before Netscape would bring the Internet to the masses. The year was 1991.

QRU II: The BBS

I was the enforcer for a small pirate BBS in Los Angeles called QRU. It was the enforcer’s job to enforce the rules of the bulletin board, a private club accessible through a single phone line which was attached to a single PC sitting in my friend’s house. The board was simply a server, running specialized software, and attached to a phone line. Damn, I still remember the number, (310) 642-0976.

In order to access the board, members had to dial the BBS with a modem and a terminal program. Many times the board was busy because it was a single phone line and only one person could be connected to it at a single time. Once the board answered, the member was asked for a username and password to access the board. As a member of the bulleting board, you could leave private messages for other members on the board, post public messages for all to see in forums, chat with the sysop, and upload and download files.

Although messages were exchanged and posted, the reason for the board’s existence was to trade files with other members. In order to perpetuate the board’s existence and guarantee a steady stream of files for all members, each member had a download/upload ratio that he had to maintain, which was usually 4 to 1. This meant that for every 1MB uploaded a member could download 4MB.

Read more

Arrested Development Logo

Arrested Development, the emmy-winning but ratings deficient comedy, was cancelled after Fox cut its third season order for the show to only 13 episodes. Although not explicitly stated, the show is not expected to return for a fourth season. If you haven’t seen this awesome show, you should make an attempt to watch the remaining 8 episodes of this third, and likely final, season. Also, check out Wikipedia for a primer on the show.

A Boeing 777-200LR Worldliner set the record for the longest commercial flight earlier today. The plane flew a little more than 13,422 miles Eastbound from Hong Kong to London in a flight that took almost 23 hours. The plane flew across the Pacific Ocean, the United States, and the Atlantic Ocean, where the passengers saw their second sunrise of the trip. The plane had eight pilots and was carrying an additional 27 passengers and crew, including Boeing representatives, journalists and customers. Boeing even setup a website to commemorate the flight. Awesome.

Well, it wasn’t so much a brush as it was a glance. At around noon today I decided to walk to my office after working the morning from home. I noticed immediately after walking half a block that Fifth Street was swarming with motorcycle cops and closed to traffic. Fifth Street was closed at all streets South of Market, including the street I live on. It had been closed for about 10 minutes and a crowd was gathering on both sides of the street. Since I knew Prince Charles was in town, I decided to wait a few minutes to see the caravan.

The caravan was being led by several police cars and motorcycles as escorts followed by two large limos. The second and larger of the two limosines had British and American flags on it. As it passed by me, I peered into the glass, which to my surprise wasn’t tinted, and there he was. It was a bit dark in the limo, but you could clearly make out a few facial features and his unmistakeable profile, which included his “distinctive” ears. It was Prince Charles. He was talking to a female passenger that was sitting next to him. A shadow was cast on her face as she passed but I can only guess that it was Camilla.

And just as quickly as it approached, it passed and it was gone. The limo was followed by several large GMC SUVs containing secret service agents. They didn’t seem overly concerned with the gathered crowd since the agent riding shotgun had his window down and was talking to the other agents. He was sporting dark sunglasses, a dark suit, and as he passed he even spoke into the radio on his wrist. It was a bit cliche but it was cool to see nonetheless. The SUVs were followed by five or six more SUVs, which I assume were part of Prince Charles’ public relations staff and State Department officials. Needless to say, it wasn’t so much a caravan as it was a convoy.

The whole thing lasted about forty seconds. Once they passed the streets were opened up and everyone went about their business. As I walked to work and reflected on what I had seen I felt rather accomplished. Why? Based on my choices in life it is highly unlikely that I will ever be that close again to Prince Charles, so this was as good a day as any to see him from about 20 feet away. It was a once-in-a-lifetime moment that didn’t feel like a once-in-a-lifetime moment when it happened.

As of this writing, France has seen eleven straight nights of rioting and civil unrest. Last night alone, rioters burned 1,408 vehicles and over 4,300 vehicles have been burned since the riots began. The violence seems to be worsening, increasing four fold since just two nights ago when only 345 vehicles were destroyed. In addition to burning cars, rioters are now taking shots at police and becoming increasingly defiant. At this point, it doesn’t look like the French government can get this under control on their own.

My Xbox Logo

The Xbox 360, Microsoft’s next generation gaming console, will be released in a little more than two weeks on November 22nd. Leading up to the launch, you can sign up to My Xbox to get an Xbox Live gamer tag on the Xbox website. You should setup a profile now, since the gamer tag you want may go quickly. I’ve setup “Tdk01” as my gamer tag and linked the card to the blog in the left sidebar.

The new and improved Xbox Live system tracks Gamerscore and Achievements that you obtain when you play any Xbox 360 game (check out a sample, this one belongs to J Allard). Bragging rights can be truly earned in a particular game by simply comparing your gamer tag profile with your friend’s. The Gamerscore and Achievements won’t lie and will lead to a greater sense of both community and friendly competition.

Check out the Xbox website and get ready for launch day!

The Nug was feeling a little stale, so I changed the blog template to a new style. Some of you may remember that this style was the second runner up to the one that adorned the site for the last year and a half. I think that the black text on white background should make it easier to read–lemme know what you think.

I have my creative hat on tonight in an attempt to design a banner for my own website. Whilst searching for some inspiration, I stumbled upon Symbols.com, an ‘Online Encyclopedia of Western Signs and Ideograms’. With over 2,500 symbols catalogued, it’s an impressive site that gives explanations to the origins and uses of each of its symbols. Symbols.com is right up my ally. I have a great fondness for trivial tidbits of info and this place is stacked with them.

A man is seeking $30,000 in punitive damages from his ex-girlfriend for, get this, supergluing his genitals to his abdomen. Huh? Here’s the whole story. The guy contends that his ex-girlfriend invited him over to her home on May 7, 2000, where he fell asleep. He woke up to find that she had used Crazy Glue to stick his genitals to his abdomen, glued his buttocks together and spelled out a profanity on his back in nail polish. I mean they don’t call it “Crazy Glue” for nothing. Adding insult to injury, she made him walk a mile to a gas station to call for help–apparently she would not let him use her phone.

She told him that it was payback for their breakup. He pressed charges and she pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault and served six months’ probation. Now, I guess the mental anguish of the incident is causing him to seek monetary damages. Damn, this guy was seriously punked and is probably lucky to be alive. Because chances are that if you can Crazy Glue a penis you possibly have enough crazy in you to stab somebody. He should have let sleeping dogs lie, because now that this is public he’ll never live this down.

Who knew that Arnold Schwarzenegger had a Sesame Street appearance? Well, sort of. Anyway, check out this flash cartoon so that you can meet some of the people in Ahnuld’s neighborhood. Also, remember to vote in the California Special election on November 8th. Big ups to my wife Mama for finding the link.

Paris Riots

Now freedom must be fundamental
In Johannesburg or South Central
On the mic, ’cause someone should tell ’em
To kick in the township rebellion
— Township Rebellion By Rage Against the Machine, 1992

This has not received a lot of press in the United States, but the residents of poor Paris suburbs have been rioting for the last week because a couple of teenage kids were electrocuted as they tried to evade police. The rioting, which started on Thursday of last week, has spread to about 20 towns outside of Paris. Somehow this has become less about the kids that died and more about the injustices and inequalities that the poor people in these towns have suffered, just like the Rodney King riots in Los Angeles over a decade ago. Hey, living in the projects sucks no matter what country you live in. But alas, can’t we all just get along?

Fiery riots spread beyond Paris, CNN 11/04/05
Arson attacks plague France as unrest spreads, MSNBC 11/04/05