This project needs to be backed to the fullest.  Anyone who believes that everyone should have anonymous access to the internet, free of censorship and spying needs to back TOR and should definitely look into this brilliant little ethernet “condom”.  Here’s the link to the Anonabox Kickstarter campaign: http://kck.st/1sxMtQI

This year Brandy and I decided that instead of getting each other expensive gifts we should hand craft something for each other and stay under a $10 budget (her idea).  That proved quite challenging for both of us, but she pretty much knocked it out of the park by making me a Super Mario Bros. bouquet filler with fire flowers and ice flowers!  She also made me a box of chocolates in the form of a series of 4 question mark blocks filled with handmade chocolate power star power-ups!

Power-up!

Super Mario Bros. Fire & Ice Flower Bouquet

I was pretty proud of my gift for her too, though it was a little less kick-ass than her’s :P

 

<3

Circuit board moon & star earrings

<3

Circuit board moon & star earrings

Happy Valentine’s Day!

 

I’m so super stoked that my TARDIS tattoo is finally complete! I sat with Guf on Friday for an extended, elbow grinding session and I couldn’t be more pleased with the results!

This my next session will be to freshen up my lower arm to tie it into the newer top portion a bit better, then we’ll discuss my next piece. Can’t wait.

20131229-182117.jpg

Doctor Who TARDIS tattoo (Complete) on Vladzilla by Guf of Tattoo Royale in San Diego, CA.

20131229-182133.jpg

Doctor Who TARDIS tattoo (Complete) – Details, on Vladzilla by Guf of Tattoo Royale in San Diego, CA.

20131229-182156.jpg

Doctor Who TARDIS tattoo (Complete) – Bananas! on Vladzilla by Guf of Tattoo Royale in San Diego, CA.

Oh, and now I’ll always bring a banana with me to parties!

That is all..

20131115-122602.jpg

Ok, ok, this one is less distracting (but it helps to have a person in the photo for size reference):

20131115-162359.jpg

Also, I should note that the game Knack (on screen in the photos above) is a total waste of money unless you’re either a five-year-old or a sentimental who’s jonesing to play Spyro the Dragon with pretty textures and high polygon count.. Otherwise, it has no business being sold during this console cycle. If you want to be wowed, play Killzone or Battlefield 4 or Assassin’s Creed, seriously.

20131115-164215.jpg

My buddy, the Howling Bromando, has a hookup at Sony and was able to get his hands on a PS4 a day early.  We had it home and hooked up by 6:00pm Pacific!  Here are my first impressions, bulletized:

    • Boots up quick.  Initial boot took a matter of seconds
    • Initial setup takes about 5 to 7 minutes, including some cool intro videos
    • We noticed that the console itself is a little on the noisy side with audible clicking when the powering on and off and the disk drive also whines a bit, but once you have audio coming out of your speakers it’s no longer noticeable.
    • The controller is really nice and comfortable.  I have normal-sized man hands and my friend’s hands are the size of fire engines and we both felt like the same controller was made for our own hands so, considering the amount of time people will potentially be spending with these things in hand, that is a BIG plus.  Another huge plus is the material the controller is made out of.  It appears to be very similar to the surface on Bicycle brand playing cards which they very accurately refer to as an “air cushion finish”.  Basically there are a bunch of tiny indentations on the areas of the controller that your hands come into contact with allowing for air to get trapped between, minimizing the amount of total surface contact.  This makes for an extremely comfortable, non-sweaty interface between you and your new appendage that any hardcore gamer will appreciate very much.

20131115-131925.jpg

  • Day 1 patch took seconds to download and a couple of minutes to install and reboot (2 reboots)
  • Setting up accounts (Facebook, Twitter, etc) is super fast and easy
  • Ready to play in 15 minutes including all hardware setup, fiddling with controllers and gawking at the console’s sexy angles and shiny surface
  • Once in game pressing the Share button makes taking screen shots and sharing them unbelievably easy and when you do, a recording of the last 15 minutes of gameplay is created and also ready to share. There’s also a function to stream your gameplay live to either Twitch and Ustream.
  • Overall, everything you want to do works just as you would imagine.  It all makes sense, and when in doubt just press the button you think will do the trick and you find out in milliseconds if you were right (relax noob, there aren’t many buttons)
  • There’s a speaker on the controller, too.  Just one, unlike the Wii U which has one on each side of its massive table controller… but for this application, where you aren’t playing a game on your controller itself, one is enough to bring a neat little extra dimension of sound to the experience, even if it’s a subtle one

The verdict: I’m super pleased by the system both, technically and aesthetically.  It feels like a $400+ piece of home entertainment history should and will definitely be contending for the top slot this console cycle.

20131114-181449.jpg

I was doing a “cute baby animal” Google image search for something to cheer up my PIC and came across this image which is just dying for a caption:

I really need a witty caption...

Cute Baby Animal from http://maxcdn.thedesigninspiration.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/09/cute-animals/baby01.jpg

Brandy and Vlad Halloween 2013 - Circus Sideshow: The Bearded Lady and The Contortionist

Brandy and Vlad Halloween 2013 – Circus Sideshow: The Bearded Lady and The Contortionist

This Halloween’s costume endeavor was super successful, although super time and labor intensive.   After spending several long nights planning, building, breaking and rebuilding Brandy’s contortionist costume we finally ended up with a killer design that worked so well she was even able to dance and sit on bar stools.  By the third iteration of the design we figured out a way for her to enter and exit the costume in under 3 minutes which made packing it into the back of our Scion fast and easy.

All in all, our circus sideshow themed costumes were a huge hit and about a hundred or so people took pictures with us throughout the night.  We eventually went on to win a total of 3 prizes ($150 cash, $25 Amazon gift card, 2 huge bottles of Grey Goose and some candy) from two venues between the two of us.  I love Halloween.

Here are a couple more photos:

Winner of The Most Creative Costume Award: Brandy's elaborate circus sideshow contortionist costume - Halloween 2013

Winner of The Most Creative Costume Award:
Brandy’s elaborate circus sideshow contortionist costume – Halloween 2013

Winner of The Best Costume Award: Brandy's elaborate circus sideshow bearded lady costume - Halloween 2013

Winner of The Best Costume Award:
Vlad’s circus sideshow bearded lady costume – Halloween 2013

Brandy and Vlad Halloween 2013 - Circus Sideshow: The Bearded Lady and The Contortionist

Brandy and Vlad Halloween 2013 – Circus Sideshow: The Bearded Lady and The Contortionist

 

 

 

Took another trip to SoCal with my amazing wife to spend the holiday weekend with family and to have another 4.5 hours worth of work done on my TARDIS sleeve.  I’ve gotta say that coloring in the Dalek hurt like a mother fucker.  Isn’t that appropriate?..

All colored in except the tentacles

Doctor Who TARDIS tattoo (2nd color session) on Vladzilla by Guf of Tattoo Royale in San Diego, CA.

All colored in except the Doctor and the tentacles

Doctor Who TARDIS tattoo (2nd color session) on Vladzilla by Guf of Tattoo Royale in San Diego, CA.

 

 

 

 

Did you buy one of those aftermarket Microsoft Xbox 360 wireless controller receivers for your PC?  Did it come with a worthless CD labeled “PC Driver”?  Having trouble getting the damn receiver drivers to work with your Windows Vista, 7 or 8 OS?  No problem, just follow these simple steps which, by the way, also work for the Official (expensive) Microsoft version of the receiver hardware (pictured below):

  1. Go to the Device Manager
  2. Look for an “Unidentified/Unknown Device” (Yellow triangle with “!”)
  3. Right click on the device –> click Properties
  4. Driver –> Update driver
  5. Browse my computer –> Let me pick from a list of drivers on my computer
  6. All devices –> Microsoft (If MS is not listed its okay)
  7. Choose XBox 360 Wireless Receiver for Windows –> Next
  8. When the driver warning pops up say yes or next.

A couple things to note: this method works for all of the Xbox 360 wireless receivers for PC.  It doesn’t matter which version you have or who made it.  They come in black, white, clear, with markings, without markings, etc…  It doesn’t matter.

Also, some people go through hell trying to install it on their own before looking up instructions online.  If you’re one of these people, chances are you may have a goofy, nonfunctioning install of the device sitting in your device manager.  If this is the case, start by right-clicking the device in Device Manager and selecting “Uninstall” to remove the device from the list.  Then unplug the device, reboot your PC and plug it back in before following the directions above.

Lastly, I’ve been told this works with Windows XP as well, but if you’re still using XP you’ve got other issues…

Install the Xbox 360 wireless controller receiver for PC drivers manually

Install the Xbox 360 wireless controller receiver for PC drivers manually

Just did another 5 hour tattoo session with Guf over the weekend to knock out the first bit of color on my TARDIS tattoo.  I couldn’t be happier with the results.  Next session coming up in 30 days!  Can’t wait.

The Doctor depicted here is Ten.

Some color – Closeup at different angles.

Were you wondering how to change your steam settings to open a game in windowed mode?  So was I.  Here’s what I found.  It’s a 20 second video from Portalzombies on YouTube showing you how to do it (super easy).  Basically, you just right click on your game in the Steam Library and choose properties.  Then, you click on the “Set Launch Options…” button and type “-windowed” in the field (minus the quotation marks).

-edit: This doesn’t work with Planet Side 2.  It crashes the game.

 

I just went under the needle for the line work and some of the shading shading of my new Doctor Who inspired tattoo.  Drawn and tattooed entirely by Guf, owner of Tattoo Royale in San Diego.  I traveled 500 miles to get this work done. Totally worth it, can’t wait to get the color work started in a few short weeks!

Yes, my phone is also a TARDIS.

Stoked on my new Piece!

The Doctor depicted here is Ten.

Closeup at different angles.

 

Wtf?

Seymore the Sexy Sea Lion Candle

You know why I like thrift stores? Because they have sexy sea lion candles, that’s why.  I never even realized I needed one of these things, but now that I have one I can’t quite imagine what life would be like without it. I have no idea why this thing even exists, but it does and that’s good enough for me. What does it do, you ask? It’s a wax candle made in the likeness of a sea lion that’s holding itself up and looking back in as provocative a stance as any sea lion can muster. Why? Who the hell cares because it’s awesome and now it’s mine and it will live on for the rest of its days on my dusty office bookshelf amid a bunch of other pointless bizarrities…  being awesome.

ALSysIO64.sys BSOD

Page Fault In Non-Paged Area BSOD

Need to share this with all of you overclockers out there who are currently pulling out your hair trying to figure out why you’re getting a BSOD from the ALSysIO64.sys driver:  Do you have Core Temp installed?  Good.  Uninstall it.  You’re welcome.

w00t!

Custom Doctor Who Mug

My secret Santa bought me this super cool, customizable mug for Christmas from Starbucks.  It took me until now (May) to finally whip out the pen it came with and draw on the damn thing but I’m totally stoked on the results.  My wife tells me that if I’m inclined to make more of these she’ll sell them on Etsy.  Stay tuned :P

 

 

 

If you’ve ever needed to know how to apply thermal paste here’s a great video from Tek Syndicate which covers all of the popular methods and does a pretty good job of proving why most of them are garbage.  I’ve been using the “Pea Method” for years and it hasn’t failed me, but in light of what I’ve just learned I will be promptly switching to the “Metal Method” (as seen on the video at 1:50).

 

I just finished building a new rig and I’ve gotta say I’m super stoked about it.  The goal was to build a machine that could play current FPS titles (Battlefield 3) on “Ultra” video settings without overclocking and while staying roughly around a $1K-ish budget.  Additionally, I wanted the machine to run cool and QUIET.  That last one I just threw in there is the kicker, actually, because quiet is a bit difficult to achieve on a budget.

Here’s what I built:

  • MOBO – ASUS M5A99FX Pro 2.0
  • CPU – AMD FX-8230 8 Core 3.5Ghz (4.0Ghz turbo)
  • CPU Cooling – Corsair H100i Extreme Liquid CPU Cooler
  • RAM – Corsair Dominator Platinum DDR3 8GB
  • Video – EVGA NVidia GeForce GTX 570 1GB
  • OS Drive – Samsung 840pro 256GB SSD
  • HDDs – (Various sizes and speeds)
  • Disk Drive – ASUS BW-12B1ST Bluray Writer
  • Case – Corsair C70 “Vengeance” ATX Mid-Tower (Black)
  • Case Cooling – Corsair stock 120mm fans x6 + 2 on H100i radiator
  • PSU – Corsair TX750M 750w Modular Power Supply
Vlad's Gaming Rig

Vlad’s Gaming Rig

The first thing I noticed upon firing it up once the OS (Windows 8 pro 64bit) was installed is that the 840pro SSD took my typical few-minute boot-nap and turned it into a six-second party from cold and dead to fully fired up and ready.  Awesome.  Then I fired up Battlefield 3.  Now typically when you play current FPS titles on a AMD FX 8 Core processor it tends to run really hot and if you used the stock fan+heatsink combo you notice that it really screams trying to keep up with all of the heat that the chip is generating.  This wasn’t the case with this build since it is liquid cooled.  When I fired up BF3 and ran it at max settings there was no change in sound from the PC, just the sounds of battle and flying bullets from the game.

See the next image for a brief summary and conclusion:

FPS1

A final word for the enthusiasts out there who expend tons of blood, sweat and tears, (not to mention gobs of mullah), this setup is not “top-of-the-line” by any means, nor is it my intension to present it as such.  The ultimate goal here was to build a kick-ass machine that can handle all current (and near-future) content like a champ without putting a massive dent in my wallet and blowing out my eardrums with a million decibels worth of fan cooling.  Mission accomplished.  That being said, if you have the cash with nothing better to spend it on consider the possibilities of building a machine that will cause a brownout in your area when you power it on.  Think about how badass your rig will be when it takes a custom cooling loop that only runs on unicorn tears to cool it.  That’s right, you’ll be like Conan the destroyer in Lil Wayne’s jeans with women clinging tenaciously to your ankles everywhere you go…   Until then, build something awesome that’s within your means, but whatever you do try to do as much of it as you can yourself.  It’s so much more rewarding that buying out of the box.

Edit, January 10, 2014:

My buddy just hooked me up with his spare GTX 580 video card last night! Triple screen setup, incoming!

20140110-141639.jpg