Tuesday, February 12, 2008

A Very Basic Introduction to Synergy

First I need to say that I love Synergy. I have used it at work and at home for about a year now and I use it constantly.

For those who are not familiar with Synergy, it is a utility that will share a keyboard and mouse with multiple computers over your network. So, for example, I have a Windows XP system and a Ubuntu system, both with their own monitors, with Synergy I can use the same keyboard and mouse on both systems. This cuts down on the need to have multiple keyboards and mice, and is obviously cheaper than a KVM switch.

When setting Synergy up you will select a side of your monitor on each system that is connected between both. So you can drag your mouse across the screen from one computer to the next. Kind of like having multiple monitors but between systems instead.

The Synergy website has good instructions on setting Synergy up here. Also Synergy will run on Windows, Linux, Unix, and Mac OS X.

I was a little worried when I noticed that Synergy has not had a release since April 2, 2006, but I did a little digging and noticed that there have been SVN commits since then and in a forum posting the lead developer stated that he has been working on version 2.0 and hopes to have a alpha/beta release around March.

Here are a few helpful or informative links regarding Synergy:
And here are some related apps:
  • QuickSynergy - GUI to allow easy configuring of Synergy on Mac OSX and Linux.
  • Teleport - Freeware mouse and keyboard sharing tool for Mac OSX.
  • Win2VNC - Like Synergy but using VNC on Windows.
  • X2VNC - Like Synergy but using VNC on X- windows.
  • MyWin2VNC - Another Windows based VNC app like Synergy.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

4th ed D&D. Already?!?!?!?

I have been reading and thinking about 4th ed D&D for a while now. And while I am not as annoyed or anxious as I was initially, I still have reservations. I understand that Wizards must continue to produce new material for existing games, and new editions of existing games, but I felt that it was a little too soon for a new edition, still do really.

If the improvements to the game are not as significant as the improvements made by 3.5 or even 3.0 then I will be disappointed with the new edition. And by improvement I do not mean changes, I mean improvements, changes with substance that will make the game better.

Also, I am very disappointed in the decision to make major changes in how the OGL works. A partner and I have been working on a setting that I eventually want to publish but with the new rules and new edition I will probably have to wait almost a year to do so.

Over all my remaining complaints have less to do with having to buy new books, I own well over 300 gaming books and don't mind getting more, though I don't like buying the same book over and over if I can avoid it. I really felt that with 3.x the D&D game had the best ideas for a fantasy system that is going to use levels and classes*. It has a very nice, and playable fusion of the classic d&d/ad&d feel with the sophistication of game mechanics and concepts that have developed over the last few decades.

I will give 4th edition a chance, but I really hope that it wow's me. For a good nutshell description of the changes try this blog or go to ENWorld.

* I prefer the idea of a point based system, as it seems more organic. The best example I can think of is Hero system. More on that system another day.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Friday night game 02

Last Friday two of my gamers were unavailable so we started a new Champions game. For those of you who are not familiar with Champions, it is the Hero system super hero game, and in my experience it is the best super hero system out there.

It has been years since we tried to get a Superhero game going and so far it has been a lot of fun. Tonight will be the second session and, as usual, I still need to finish my prep for the game.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

My Top Ten Favorite FireFox Extensions

I've got to say, I love FireFox. It continues to be the best browser out there for my uses. So in a continuation of the theme from my Thunderbird extension entry here are my favorite FireFox entries.

Most Useful
  • Adblock - Block even more popups with this
  • Adblock Filterset.G Updater - The best filterset to use with Adblock
  • Easylist (USA) - I now use this Adblock list
  • CustomizeGoogle - Allows you to set an enormous number of preferences for use with several of Googles products
  • DownThemAll - Ever need to grab all of the archive files from a mailing list, or a group of PDF's from a free ebook site. Well this is the tool for you!
  • FireFtp - FTP client built in a FireFox tab, I have been using this for a month or so and I love it
  • Greasemonkey - Client side javascript, this allows you to change how pages are presented to you. For example I wrote a script to stop those little annoying in text popups.
  • PDF Download - This keeps you from automaticly opening up a pdf in a tab, instead you are given several options. I hate viewing PDF's in a browser so this is a real destresser for me.
  • Tab Mix Plus - More and more of this extension seems to be making it's way into the main app but it still has several useful tab manipulation options that warrant it's use.

Good to have

Developer tools I like

Well, that's all the time we have today kids, but tune in tomorrow for another exciting episode of "Flush that Onion". Until then, keep a flushing!

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Felicia Day's 'The Guild' and supporting Joss Whedon's Alumni

A few days ago I was checking out You Tube, as I occasionally do, and I noticed a video called "The Guild" on the front page. It looked interesting so I clicked and watched. (Actually it was not the first in the series so I went to the first ep and watched from there.) Then I watched the next episode, and the next and so on till I had watched all 6 episodes(4, 5, and 6 ). Then once the laughter died down I sat and waited for the next episode...

Anyway "The Guild" is very funny, and I found it to be compelling as well as hilarious. While I was watching it I thought that the lead actress looked familiar so I did a little digging and found out that she was or is Felicia Day, aka Vi from season seven "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" for us Joss Whedon fans(fanatics, freaks... whatever). Well I thought that this was pretty cool, but then I found out she wrote the show herself, and I was even more impressed.

So I did some more digging and found her website and her blog, "The Flog" which is a pretty good read. So this provides a great opportunity to support one of Joss Whedon's Alumni. Everyone should run out and buy a copy... oh wait you can't, you will just have to watch it for free on You Tube. Go ahead and do it now, I'll wait till you are done to finish up here....

Funny huh? :)

So to continue my thought, BtVS is my all time favorite TV show, and so far I have liked or loved (usually loved) everything I have seen or read that Joss has done (I am trying to collect back issues of Runaways so I can read them in order). And if only for that reason I would support his future work. But beyond that, I find his work to be moving, exciting, pretty much the best that Hollywood has going for it. And he has a way of finding, or drawing (or maybe summoning) the best talent, from his writers to his crew, to his actors, almost all of his alumni are worth keeping an eye on and Felicia Day is no exception.

It is worth noting here that Felicia was an avid WoW player and is writing these shows from inside experience. :) So watch her show, read her blog and keep an eye out for her in upcoming shows.

Oh and apparently she has started playing D&D too! How cool is that!!

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

My Top Ten Favorite Thunderbird Extensions... so far

I got the idea to do my own favorite Thunderbird extensions list from the blog TwisterMC.

I think that if more people listed their favorites some of the "hidden gems" would get more exposure and perhaps encourage the developers to continue their great work.

So here is the list:
  1. Lightning - This allows calendars in Thunderbird. I was using Sunbird and I liked it but this is a lot better for me. It has allowed me to actually move forward on getting my GTD system setup. See my previous post.
  2. Provider for Google Calendar - This allows the two-way (not read only) access to your Google Calendar within ThunderBird. See my previous post.
  3. Minimize to Tray and Minimize to Tray Enhancer - This allows me to minimize Thunderbird to my system tray, which cuts down on the cluttered feel Windows gets when many apps are open.
  4. QuickText - I have just started using this and it is already saving me time. I have a regular signature that I use on some but not all emails. This allows me to insert commonly used text into my email so I can easily add that signature when I need.
  5. Thunderbrowse - This allows web links to be viewed within Thunderbird, which I find to be useful from time to time.
Let me know what extensions you have found to be useful!

Monday, February 4, 2008

Using Google calendar in Thunderbird

I have been using Thunderbird for a while now, and I really love it! It does what I want it to and like FireFox it is extensible. I have used Sunbird a bit for calendaring, and I found it to be a great tool, but really wanted that functionality in Thunderbird so after looking around a bit I re-discovered Lightning (a friend of mine had pointed this out before but I forgot), and then I discovered Provider for Google Calendar (found out about it at this well done blog).

Lightning added the basic calendar functions that I needed to Thunderbird and Provider added two-way updating in Thunderbird for my Google calendar!

So now I can check my Gmail and Google calendar very easily within Thunderbird.

In case you need some guidance here is a site with excellent instructions on how to setup Lightning and Provider.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Some Ebay Tips

I finally started using eBay to sell things recently and so far I am actually enjoying it. I have made some mistakes and learned a few things that I thought I would type up here.

Take good pictures:
  • Have very little clutter to distract from the item you are selling in the picture
  • If you are using a digital camera try to take the picture with and without the flash, often turning off the flash will result in a better picture
Package the item for shipping before you weigh it. This cost me a couple bucks with the first couple of items I sold.

More later...