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Archive for December, 2011

Before the first steps

December 15, 2011 Leave a comment

This week my first child is eleven weeks old. It is amazing the amount of “firsts” that a person has. When a baby is born they can’t really do much beyond flail around and hope that something edible/suckable is placed into their mouths when they are hungry. While my child can stand (with assistance) he doesn’t have any mobility (yet). A few weeks ago we purchased some wrist rattles for him. They are soft balls, dressed up like an animal’s head, with a velcro wrist straps. This allows them to be attached to the baby, allowing the baby to create rattling sounds by shaking their arms. No hand coordination required. My son has yet to catch on with idea that shaking his arm to make noise might be fun. At the moment he’s just too oblivious to the concept of “things” and how his hands might be able to control/manipulate said “things”. This generally results in him hitting himself in the face with a rattle, should we try to get him to hold one.

The other night was a first though, he seemed to be actually playing with one of these wrist rattles. It wasn’t strapped to his wrist though; we were able to get him to grab onto it and he held onto it. He wasn’t shaking it around, rattling it and making noise, but he wasn’t disinterested in the rattle either. He’d look at the object in his hand and then work it towards his mouth. Not always successfully, but frequently enough. He’s then lick it, or try to gnaw on it, and then look at it again. It was very interesting to be holding him while he went through this process. He did it for about twenty minutes. It felt like the first time he was discovering something and we were witnessing it. It was certainly the first time he was doing anything which could be described as “playing”. Up until now he hasn’t played before! While baby’s first steps are a major accomplishment that my wife and I have yet to enjoy, watching his first playing made us feel quite proud.

Categories: Health and wellness

Why you don’t want to run as Admin

December 12, 2011 Leave a comment

I’m a big fan of Windows UAC. It allows users to run as non admins, but still gives them control to make changes to their computer, but only when they want to make changes to their Windows computer. I’ve been a big advocate of running all computers as standard users and (virtually) never logging into the computers administrator account. I was able to convince my brother that this is the proper way to run a system and it seems to have averted him from disaster.

Yesterday my brother noticed that a fake Windows Defender popped up saying his computer was infected. I don’t know how he recognized it was fake, but props to him for recognizing that it was. Then it tried to make changes to his computer which required administrator privileges, but since he runs as a standard user the malware was getting blocked by UAC prompts. Since my brother wasn’t actively doing something which required admin permissions (he was trying to view a video on the web) he kept denying the prompts. Eventually he shut down his computer and rebooted it, but this time logged in as the administrator account. He then used Malwarebytes to scan his system, and it did find issues with his standard user account. Apparently the Symantic AV on the system wasn’t able to block/detect this malware. In between the two, they were able to cleanup his system.

He then logs back into his standard user account, but he can’t start any program. Any shortcut he clicks on to start a program results in a pop-up asking which program should be used to open the executable (which really doesn’t make sense, executables know how to run themselves). If he double clicks on a data file, the program registered for that file type can open, but launching the program directly does not. I have him check the properties of one of the shortcuts, and instead of targeting a program in the Program Files directory (which is where the program is installed) it was pointing to some folder in his user accounts AppData section. The malware had retargeted all of his links from what they should have been to something the malware wanted them to be. But now that the malware had been removed, none of the links in his account worked anymore. At this point he decides that it’s easier to abandon the account than to clean up every shortcut in his account; plus there might have been some other quirky things left behind. He says it took him about twenty minutes to create a new account and move all of his data over to the new standard user account.

Now if he had been running as admin the situation would have been a lot worse. The malware probably would have done lasting harm to his Windows laptop. Because he chose smart practices over the convenience of not dealing with UAC prompts, he was able deny the UAC requests and protect his computer. Of course if he knew what caused the malware to infect his account in the first place, he could avoid that too, but there should still be precautions in place for learning experiences. Defence in depth.

Clone Wars Season 4 is avoidable

December 4, 2011 Leave a comment

I really like the Star Wars Clone Wars series. The first season started off uninteresting, a bit childish (which is its targeted demographic), but then started to become interesting. It became interesting on an adult level without being inappropriate. The first half of season two wasn’t great, but the second half was amazing; the entire third season was amazing as well (besides the Children of the Force story arc). So far only the first half of the fourth season has aired (I’m assuming we’re at the half way point given that there have been 11 episodes and there are usually 22 episodes in a season), and I haven’t found any of the episodes all that intriguing.

The first story arc of three episodes started off with potential, even if the setup was Clone Wars stereotypical. A planet has two species and even though the planet is a member of the Republic it feels that it’s okay to have an ambassador from the Separatists there. The Separatist ambassador gets the two sides to fight, but turns out to be back stabbing in the end. What made these episodes boring was the constant back and forth fighting; one side wins the battle, then the next pulls a trick and wins, and back and forth and back and forth. It got dull. The main victory in the end was that the story arc was over.

The next episode was the same stereotype setup, but thankfully made for a single episode story arc. It felt like some Clone Wars story generator website must have spit up.

The next two episodes made up a unique story arc which was imaginative, but don’t fit in with the rest of the series. C-3PO and R2-D2 go trundling along with a series of adventures happening around them. I don’t dislike the producers of the show for doing these episodes, they are targeted for a younger audience, but they seem to have lost their touch in doing shows which were both childlike and still interesting.

The next four episodes made up a promising story arc, but took too long to tell, and feels really out of place with the entire series. The Umbra story arc is very dark, and for the first time too violent. While the conclusion was interesting (a Jedi turning because he sees the Jedi falling apart as an organization), the overall violence of the story arc made me dislike it. I realize that this series is about war, but the series traditionally keeps the action to acts of heroism. Not in Umbra though, the violence seemed repetitive, senseless and extreme; not something I would be comfortable having kids watch.

I don’t know if they shifted around writers, or what, but I sure hope that Lucasarts brings back the writers from the second and third seasons. Those episodes were very entertaining and well worth watching. So far the latest episode in season four is “Kidnapped”, and it was a good episode. Hopefully it’s a good sign of the Clone Wars getting back to good story telling, and entertaining action.

Categories: Entertainment