jonathanspence.com

10 Years

Thursday, August 7th, 2008 at 4:49 pm
jonathanspence.com in 2001

jonathanspence.com in 2001

This month makes 10 years that I have been doing web development, and 10 years that jonathanspence.com has had it’s own domain and hosting. Lots of things have changed, yet the site is still remarkably similar to what it was like back then.

This design is pretty much the same one it has had since 2002, although I have moved from my own custom built CMS to WordPress, which makes things a lot easier to manage.

I’m working on updating all the old info, since I managed to go almost two years between updates this time.

You Can’t Go Back

Wednesday, April 4th, 2007 at 6:39 pm

With the recent ending of some of my favorite shows, and seasons ending for others, I have been thinking a lot about the state of television storytelling. I think one of the main problems that a lot of shows that go on for more than a season or two have is that they can’t go back to where they started.

Most good shows start at a slow pace, take their time introducing who the characters are and their motivations, and then build to an important, but not too complicated climax at the end of season one. They hit the ground running in season two, and since the climax at the end of season one wasn’t too huge, they can play out the majority of season two much the same as the first season. There usually haven’t been any huge earth shattering events yet, and the characters are still much the same as they were in the beginning, just better, since the producers, writers, and actors are all in the groove. There is a big climax, usually with something dramatic, sad, and story altering. This is a good thing, and it’s the reason we watch good TV. Examples of this progression are Buffy, Veronica Mars and Alias, although most arc driven shows have the same issues, if not on exactly the same timetable. The problem comes with how to deal with this in the third season and beyond. There has been drama, betrayal, and possibly death, so how do you go back to the slower lighthearted pace of the beginning, that made the show great? The answer is, you can’t, at least not in the same way with the same characters. It’s just the nature of good drama to get darker as it progresses. Characters mature, get emotional scars, and change, they are damaged. Even if they were already damaged at the beginning of the show, this is different, because we saw the damage happen and it changes how we look at them. The story as a whole is usually darker and more serious too, it’s difficult to go on like normal when the world was almost destroyed, someone important died, or some other season finale level event happened. This is where shows usually start losing some fans, because they don’t like the new tone, or their favorite character took a turn they didn’t like.

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Back in Houston

Wednesday, March 28th, 2007 at 5:47 pm

I seem to have a lot in my head to write about lately, so I will once again attempt to post here regularly. In November I decided that ten years in East Texas was enough and none of the reasons I had for staying were valid anymore, so I moved back to Houston. So far, I love it. The only thing I miss is Fugler’s, since despite being the eating out capital of the world, with over 9000 restaurants of all kinds, I can’t find a place with a good hamburger. There are plenty of places with passable ones, but nothing even comes close to Fugler’s so far. It’s mind boggling considering that Houston is geographically in East Texas even if culturally it might as well be LA, and there is no good reason why a Fugler’s quality place shouldn’t be here somewhere.

I always have people look at me like I’m crazy when I say it’s much faster to get around in Houston than back in Marshall or Henderson. As long as It’s not rush hour, or construction, I can get from where I live at 290 and the Beltway to the Galleria area in less than fifteen minutes. Back in East Texas, it took forty five minutes to get to a decent restaurant, and even then there were only a few to choose from. I think people just get zoned out when they are driving on rural highways and don’t realize how much time they are wasting regularly just to get to the store.

Media Integrity Script 1.1

Friday, August 11th, 2006 at 10:49 am

I have updated my Media Integrity script to version 1.1. This is a small update, but it makes it a lot more functional if you have a very large tree of files you are validating. When preforming a verify operation the script will now prompt whether you want to repair the repairable files unless you specify the -n flag.

DS Lite Loose Screen Fix

Friday, June 30th, 2006 at 4:17 pm

For any of you having the issue with the bottom screen moving around a little, I have figured out how to fix it if you don’t mind opening your DS. The bottom part of the DS Lite is laid out something like this horribly not to scale diagram:

[    |xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx|   ]
[    |    vvv        |   ]
--------------------------
[________________________]

The dashes are the circuit board, and the “x”s are the screen. The “v”s are some tiny resistors that are the only thing that sticks out from the board where the screen is. There is a thin foam pad all along the back of the screen, but the screen appears to just sit loose in it’s place. What ends up happening is the screen rocks back and forth over the resistors. Why they designed it this way I have no idea, the only thing I can think of is that the actual production models have thinner foam or something, and once they found there was a problem it was too late to change it. I have noticed the same issue with the demo Lites at my Best Buy, but it is much less pronounced than on my import.

It doesn’t seem to impact functionality at all, but it’s the kind of thing that gets into my head and won’t let go, so I decided to fix it. I ended up making two pads of paper to slip in on either side of the resistors to brace the screen, and it works perfectly. I don’t have any movement at all now and everything still works.

Taking it apart is not too hard as long as you are careful and have a small enough tri-wing screwdriver. There are five screws on the outside, two on the left, two under the little rubber pads, and one in slot 1. There are two inside the battery compartment, one in the upper right and one in the very bottom right. The one in the center of the compartment is unnecessary to remove to take off the case. After you remove all of those, you can take off the case, be careful of the power and volume sliders that are loose. You should probably then carefully remove the shoulder buttons, they have a little spring that is likely to fly off somewhere when you are messing with the rest if you don’t. After that there are just two obvious screws that secure the circuit board to the front of the case. You can’t remove the circuit board easily, or even move it very much, but you can pry it up enough to see what’s going on and put something in there to stop the movement.

I wouldn’t do this unless you are really comfortable taking stuff like this apart and it really bugs you, but if you are the kind of person who already has a tri-wing screwdriver it’s pretty easy. Compared to installing an afterburner in the original GBA it’s very easy.

Media Integrity Script

Friday, June 9th, 2006 at 4:46 pm

I just uploaded my media integrity checking script into the software section. It can automatically create and verify par2 files in nested directories of files. I use it to make sure that my mp3s don’t get corrupted, and that some errant program (iTunes for example) doesn’t mess with my tagging. I have been using it for a few days and it works well. I will probably add some kind of logging to file so that I can schedule it to run after my nightly backups.

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