My latest online addiction

My latest online addiction is the gleemax site hosted by our friends at Wizards of the Coast. They are in alpha (i.e. free) testing of this online boardgame site. It has several of WotCs best acquisitions: Acquire, Axis & Allies, Guillotine, Vegas Showdown and the one that I can’t stop playing, Robo Rally. You can play solo against bots or you can try to get some other humans to play. I can only speak to the AI for Robo Rally (as that’s all I’ve played), but it’s pretty good. The bots are hard to beat. The code is being worked on and they appear to be responding to user feedback. I’ve seen one update so far. I haven’t come across any major bugs. My big complaint right now is that it can get laggy when you play with other humans. It’s all in java, so it works great on my Mac and should be fine in linux and that other OS. My handle is (of course) HazMatt, join me for a game sometime.

global warming?

There’s definitely something funky going on with the weather when it snows on April 19th.


Last year (2007) saw a record low for this day at 35 F. Today just about matches that. Oddly enough, 2005 holds the record high temperature of 68 F. Weird.

Mac System info on your desktop

There are a small handful of windows apps that I think are pretty useful and don’t have better Mac equivalents. bginfo_ss.jpg BgInfo is one of these. It used to be an independent freeware app, but microsquish thought it was cool enough to acquire – at least it’s still free (for now). What is does is simple: it aggregates a bunch of different bits of information about the system it’s running on and merges it with the desktop background. This may not seem very useful to most people since most people only use one or two different computers and don’t really care about things like their Default Gateway or MAC Address. However, for those who work in a dev/IT environment where they switch between a bunch of different machines or better yet, have a lab of boxes that they don’t use regularly – this is extremely handy.

Now I could not find a utility that does what BgInfo does for the Mac – at least not specifically. Then I remembered about GeekTool. GeekTool is the Shopsmith to BgInfo’s hand drill. I plan to write another post dedicated to Mac utilities where I’ll go into more detail on GeekTool, but for now we’ll just get started. If you know of something else that does what BgInfo can do on the Mac, please let me know – I’m not totally addicted to big hammers.

Here’s what you do:

  • Install GeekTool
  • Paste the following ruby code into a text file and save it somewhere like ~/scripts or ~/Library/Scripts as sys_info.rb:
@user = `whoami`
@system = `scutil --get ComputerName`
@ip = (`ifconfig en0 | grep netmask`).split
@vers = (`sw_vers | grep ProductVersion`).split
@hw_info = `system_profiler`
@up = (`uptime`).split(',')
if @vers[1].include?('10.5')
  @hw_name = 'Processor Name'
  @hw_speed = 'Processor Speed'
  @hw_name = 'CPU Type'
  @hw_speed = 'CPU Speed'
puts "User: #{@user}"
puts "Computer: #{@system}"
puts "IP: #{@ip[1]}"
puts "OS Version: #{@vers[1]}"
puts @hw_info.grep(/#{@hw_name}/).to_s.strip
puts @hw_info.grep(/#{@hw_speed}/)[0].to_s.strip
puts @hw_info.grep(/Memory:/)[0].to_s.strip
puts "Uptime: #{@up[0].strip}"
  • Open the GeekTool preference pane and add a new entry. Select Shell from the pop-up menu.


  • In the Command box, enter: ruby ~/scripts/sys_info.rb (change to your path and file name)
  • Set the refresh for 300
  • Now you should see a box somewhere on your desktop and it should have 8 lines of juicy info.
  • Play with the other tabs to set the font style and background.
  • You can drag and resize the box to wherever you like.

I know this works on OS X Tiger and Leopard and it should work fine on Panther. BTW – GeekTool works great on Leopard.
If you have any suggestions, changes or additions to this, please share.

I’ve moved the site

Sadly, the box that several of us shared and used as a web/ftp/wiki/etc. server is going away. We did really well with a Mac mini and some spare bandwidth that some of the guys employer didn’t mind us using. On the plus side, now that I’m paying for hosting I’m getting a whole bunch of added admin features that were difficult to access before and often required a lot of hand tweaking of server settings and conf files that I didn’t always feel comfortable making on a shared server. I’m now with Site5 ( and so far they’ve been great. The plan is reasonably priced, they have almost all of the apps/tools that I want and performance has been good. Plus their admin control panel web-app is great. Look for some content and cosmetic changes coming soon.

Gaming at lunch

At my last job there was an established group that met every Friday during lunch to play euros. I was a regular participant. This is something that I have definitely missed since starting my new job downtown. So I did something about it.
I posted a message to one of the Portland games related email lists and to a local Portland forum on the geek. I suggested meeting weekly in the mezzanine of my building. I didn’t get a huge response, but of the few people that did express interest, a couple of them have become regulars. Once it looked like this would happen, I started a google group for us.

So far we have had 2-3 people each Thursday. We’re played Ra, Yspahan, Category 5 and Blue Moon so far. The space is actually pretty nice with a lot of tables and chairs. There’s plenty of room for more people.

The group still feels a bit tenuous with only 3 of us, as it’s hard for all of us to get there every week. I need to publicize this a bit so that we can get a few more regulars. I may sign up with meetup or try to find a directory of local gaming groups that I remember seeing once.

Regardless, it’s been great to get a bit more gaming squeezed into my busy schedule and meet some new people. Drop by sometime, we meet at 11:30.

Wallowa Lake Family vacation – Day 3 and 4

I sort of lost my momentum here. So to wrap up this thread I’m combining the last 2 days of the tip.

Note: I am continuing to be productive on my new commute, I’ve just been working on other things 😉

Day 3 – Hike up Hurricane Creek and a boat ride around the lake

We were going to bed early while here and consequently getting up early. This morning, we had breakfast in. Kug made bacon and eggs. We learned that the burners on our ancient stove did not heat exactly evenly, but the meal was still good.
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The owner of Trouthaven had mentioned a nice day-hike when we arrived, so I get the details from him. We ended up at Hurricane creek, a 15 minute drive from the lake. We saw other families there as well as some serious hikers and even a few backpackers. There was also a string of mules packing supplies up the mountain. The trail was a bit narrow in places and even had a section right along a steep hillside with a 100′ drop to the creek. We didn’t go a long way and ended up spending a while at a spot next to the creek where the boys played. They were captured by that age-old obsession of throwing rocks into the moving water. Even Tober got into the act.
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We followed that with lunch in town at the local brew pub – Embers. We sat outside and marveled at the number of yellowjackets that were in their dozen or so traps. The greek pizza was pretty good.

That afternoon, we decided to take the owner of the cabins up on his offer to let us borrow their boat. It’s a small fishing boat they call the African Queen (for it’s vague similarities to the boat in that movie). We motored around to the south end of the lake and back. It was a nice little trip and it gave us a chance to see some of the beautiful houses along the shore.
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For dinner, Kug mastered the idiosyncratic stove and made us fondu. It was excellent.

Day 4 – The trip home

We all woke up fairly early (again) on Tuesday. There wasn’t much left in the area that we wanted to do – that we could do in half a day. We had pretty much decided at this point that Wallowa Lake and the Joseph area wasn’t going to be the place we wanted to come back to for an annual retreat. This was one of the reasons we chose to come here – we’re looking for a place that we can return to every year with family and friends. It’s a nice area and the lake is a lot of fun, but it just didn’t capture us. If you have any suggestions for somewhere that would be a fun, family friendly place with outdoor recreational activities, let me know. We’ll probably be looking around the Sisters area for next year.

With the car packed, we stopped for breakfast in Joseph and had the best meal of our trip. There are several breakfast places along the main drag and we ended up parking the car and perusing menus. We chose the Old Town Cafe. We were surprised to see swedish pancakes on the menu – a favorite that Kug and her family often make. The boys got that and Kug and I shared the Old Town Breakfast: a scramble of roasted potatoes, eggs, cheese, bacon and green chilies. It was excellent. This sort of dish is my favorite breakfast and this was the best I’ve had. The Swedish pancakes were pretty good as well. I got an americano there as we were leaving and it turned out to be the best coffee I got in the area.

We figured we would find a place or two to stop along the way back, but we didn’t have any definite plans. Griff was campaigning hard for stopping at Multnomah falls, wanting to hike to the top. We made good time on the road and with a couple rest stops and snacks in the car, it was only mid-afternoon wen we got to the city of Hood River. We drove up the main street and found a place for lunch. After lunch we dropped Kug off at a yarn shop we saw on the way in and the boys and I found a playground.Img 6162 Edit

Griff got his wish and we did stop at the falls. It turned out to be a nice finish for a fun trip. We all got ice cream and admired the falls.

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