Bitcoin Values Tank

Bitcoins are heading down along with the stockmarket. Which lends credence to the bitcoin supply currently involving a lot of speculation.

Something to note, though, is that the number of available bitcoins is still in flux while people are mining them. It doesn’t feel like it’s leveled one way or another on exchanges just yet.

Also, mining itself hasn’t tanked to nearly the extent that the price of bitcoins has.. which would lead one to believe that the mining portion of bitcoin creating isn’t driven entirely by speculation on the future value. Even when prices went from ~30$ to ~6$ the amount of mining going on increased slightly.

But we’ll see how that washes out in the coming weeks if values stay depressed.


Ubuntu 11.04 CUPSD Not Printing to ttyUSB0 Fix

So you’ve got a serial device that needs printing output sent to it and you’ve installed Ubuntu 11.04. Cups responds with an Unable to open device file … Permission Denied. Well!

Ubuntu has thoughtfully explicitly denied access to /dev/ttyUSB devices through apparmor. No reason you’d ever print to serial devices in Ubuntu, eh?

So to get your receipt printer, Okidata 320ML serial printer, or whatever working you’ll either need to uninstall apparmor (I imagine) or change a line in the file /etc/apparmor.d/usr.sbin.cupsd from “deny /dev/ttyUSB*” to “/dev/ttyUSB*”.

That should do it.

Puzzle Agent 2 Review

Game: Puzzle Agent 2
Publisher: Telltale Games

Puzzle Agent 2 from Telltale Games brings us back to Scoggins, Minnesota to delve into the unresolved secrets of the first installment. The FBI’s sole agent in charge of the US Department of Puzzle Research, Nelson Tethers, has decided there’s a puzzle left unsolved.

Graham Annable returns with his sketch-art animation and folk-lore hidden people. The animation and story board are a good bit of the selling point for the Puzzle Agent series, with Graham’s ability to pack emotion into a fairly low-detail form of art. The art’s fun, unpretentious, and surprisingly engaging.

Audio in the game sets the mood nicely, complementing the gameplay and settings without being overbearing. Voice acting is on par with anything I’ve watched. The best complement I can pay any game not about music is that I don’t remember the soundtrack, only recalling that it was good.

And that’s the case here.

Too many titles wedge in music that undercuts the gameplay rather than underscoring it because someone “did music” or they’re trying to get an extra sales angle in.

Puzzles in Puzzle Agent 2 are slightly easier than in the first game. Some of the aspects that could make solving puzzles irritating have been altered. I really didn’t find them hard, more along the lines of a brain-teaser or Saturday newspaper puzzle than MENSA material.

There are also abundant hints available if riddles are a bit too challenging. Or if you don’t have knowledge of a particular subject.

Coming in at about 4 hours of playtime, Puzzle Agent 2 is a bit longer than an episode but shorter than a traditional long-format game. Which is about right for a ~10$ pricetag.

I liked the game. It was fun all the way through. With the sketch animation style, puzzles, and clean content Puzzle Agent 2 delivers.

Footnote: you should play Puzzle Agent first, since Puzzle Agent 2 is somewhat of another episode. It’s not going to hurt to start on the second chapter, but why would you want to?

Puzzle Agent 2 is Out!

Nelson Tethers is back for another installment of puzzle solving and chasing small red gnome’s around Minnesota. Just picked up a copy of the game, and half-way in it’s still interesting. While you’re not going to get any Mensa puzzles in there or Hollywood cut-scenes, it’s cute, fun, and probably a great game to play with kids (or remind you of games you played when you were a kid).

The series features pencil-on-paper animation and offers up some decent voice over work. No emotionless anime-dub voices here.

I quite enjoyed the first Puzzle Agent, and I’ll post up a full write-up once we’ve finished the game.

Puzzle Agent 2 Website

Agent Tethers from Puzzle Agent 2
Agent Tethers Scared by .. Something

SSHd Server On Android

Android devices are great unless they’re not. One of the ways they’re not-great is when you don’t have Android Marketplace installed for whatever reason and need to get applications to them for install.

So if you’re looking for a solution to getting files over to your android device in relatively secure style, an SSH server is probably the way to go.

Two of the options that I’ve picked out that that work are:

SSHDroid: A free ad-driven application that allows you to open up a somewhat configurable compile of the Dropbear SSH daemon.

DroidSSHd: this one is ad-free but doesn’t include sFTP support. It also didn’t like SCP running through it, but that may have been due to where it dumped the client in the directory structure. If you’re looking for a clean compile of Dropbear sshd for android, they’ve also got that, along with instructions on how to cross platform compile sshd for android yourself.

Creating USB Thumb Drives the Easy Way

So you’ve got yourself an ISO and you want to turn it into a thumb drive. Sure, you can hack that thing together yourself.

Or you can use unetbootin. It’ll whack out a USB thumbdrive running a handful of Linux distributions and bootable utilities such as Parted Magic, Ophcrack, Gujin, or Freedos. All automatically downloaded for you after choosing a couple of options.

Even if you’ve got an ISO image that you need to load up onto a thumbdrive that isn’t included in the list unetbootin should be able to handle it. The more you know!

Changing Default Applications for the Gnome Desktop

Ever wanted audio, text, or video to open up in a different application than whatever Debian has slotted for your default? Want to get down to the nuts and bolts and do it manually?

Well then. Take a look at /etc/gnome/defaults.list for what application is used to open up what extension or mime-type, and bring up the /usr/share/applications/ directory for the configuration files that dictate how that application is going to open up.

For instance, I changed .pls and .mp3 from Totem (possibly the last media application installed) over to audacious2-gtkui for better integration with the look and feel of the gnome desktop.

Minecraft Server Start, Stop, and Auto Save Scripts

If you’re running a Minecraft server on Linux and you want a simple way to automate starting, stopping, and backing up the server with a single command-line option this might be for you.

These scripts are something I cracked out for the Minecraft server we run here. Feel free to grab a copy and modify them for your own use.

You’ll need basic unix utilities and “screen”, which may not be installed by default. If you’ve got all that, the only thing that it’s necessary to change should be the startup directory setting in the main file.

If you’d like the backups to be run automatically, put the backup script in your crontab file. If you need help doing that, look up “edit vixie crontab how-to” on google. If you’re not using Vixie Cron.. well.. you probably know what you’re doing.

Also note that this was created to be the absolute bare-bones of what you’d need to effectively run and back-up the server. There certainly could be more options, wrappers, MOTD on entry daemons, etc. But they won’t be in these scripts.

If you need to pop into the Minecraft server command line once it’s up and running, type “screen -r” as long as you’ve only got the single screen session running. When you want to leave the server, and exit back to your prompt without closing it down, press CTRL-A CTRL-D.

Hopefully they help, and good luck!

Minecraft Start/Stop/Backup Scripts

Book Review: The Unincorporated Man

300 years in the future everyone’s incorporated. Not just a futuristic take on corporations ala David Louis Edelmen’s Multireal but full owning percentages of people.

Into this steps a man from the dawn of the 21st century, having preserved himself cryogenically in a last crapshoot at cheating death.

Quite a combination of themes, drawing from our current trials and memes combining them with a Rip Van Winkle from our time (in both plot and mechanic) to lend the reader eyes with which to look out at the future.

What we end up with is a solid first novel in a presumed series. It’s got some quirks in how people interact socially, but that’s par for course with science fiction. It’s easily overlooked in light of the excellent writing and storytelling presented. Go read it.

Unincorporated Man, Dani Kollin and Eytan Kollin