Measure Map – Blog Stats Done Right

Cinder Inc. has very little traffic, but I have always liked to keep on top of how many people came by, and how they got here. It’s always interesting to see what search terms brought people by, where they come from, which pages they saw and even the technology they used to visit. I used to use the kludgy stats system of my webhost, 1 and 1. It’s been a great webhosting service, but their stats system left something to be desired, was slow and never really gave me all the information I needed.

Enter Measure Map. It’s in a semi-closed beta right now, as they are still adding features, but you can sign up for an invitation and recieve it in due time. It took me a month or two before I recieved mine, but it was well worth the wait.

In short, Measure Map, sets up in minutes and lets you see your website statistics quickly and easily. It answered all of my needs in terms of how people got to Cinder Inc and what they saw when they got there. It’s fast, easily navigated (thank you!) and been a breeze to work with. I can’t wait to see what else they add.

Blockbuster – The Zombie

Saw this over on Edward Jay Epstein, who writes about movies and the associated industry for Slate, writes of Blockbuster’s zombie like status at the moment.

I can’t say I’m not surprised. With their brick and mortar stores requiring upkeep, and the fact that DVD’s are so cheap and easy to just buy, or easy to get through a service like Netflix it makes their storefronts the domain of people who need to get a movie tonight, and only really want the latest releases.

On a side note, the success of DVD was due in large part to the low price and extra features it offered. I think the movie studios are going to have a much harder time selling the “HD” revolution to the people. If the price point is not there like it was for DVD, it’s not going to sell, or at least it won’t until more people can take advantage of it. Most people still only have a normal TV that is not going to take advantage of the HD content. This technology sticking point will be it’s biggest stumbling block, as they can’t get the prices down from mass production, is there is only a niche market of movie and tech buff’s buying it.

I saw an article saying that the HD-DVD vs. Blu-Ray will be decided in large part by gamers, due to the differing support by the XBOX 360 and the Playstation 3. In reality, I don’t see most people who by either of the systems being that concerned with the HD support, because they won’t have the technology in their TV to take advantage of it. Prices are coming down, and people are looking to upgrade their TV’s for sure, but in large part, most people don’t want to get a new TV just to play games and play movies when their current TV could do it just fine. It will be interesting to watch. Don’t get me wrong. I want the HD TV’s and the content that comes with them, but I’m definitely not a typical “Best Buy” type consumer.

WordPress 2.0

So I just saw that Word Press 2.0 just came out. I’ve been using WordPress for Cinder Inc. since it started and have been impressed with it all along. Even with the few hiccups that happened with the 1.2->1.5 upgrade, they were minor and I ended up with a much nicer and easier to maintain site (though that implies I was actually updating!)

Some of the newer features sound good, and I’ll probably get a chance to do an upgrade here in the next few weeks. Not sure what the front page differences will be for you, but on the backend I’ll be able to manage comment spam much better (it’s down to about 10-20 a week that I have to go through, which is better than the 20-30 a day I was having for a while), among other things. I’ll let you know how it goes.


Getting time while commuting over the last few years, I’ve had a lot of time to think, and contemplate things. A common occurrence is to continue to think of my “projects” that I have mulled over for years, but still have never had the time to really sit down and do. Well not all of it is time, some of it is pure getting distracted by a new (or old) game or just lacking the knowledge to complete them. I thought I’d share a few things I hope to at least try, or at least enjoy planning in my head.

– A homemade arcade controller – Since seeing the home built MAME arcade cabinets people have made over the years, I’ve always wanted to do something, but on a smaller scale, like a nice two player set-up where I could play Street Fighter 2 against my wife and friends, and have something nice to actually play these arcade classics correctly. I’m sorry but the keyboard, or a game pad is not the way to play a fighter.

– An EEPROM Burner – This ties into many different ideas and projects, but basically it would be a great way to get back to electronics, and allow me to move into some NES Development and hacking. I’ve always wanted to create my own cartridge of some of the hacks and translations of old NES games, and be able to play them on my TV. All this leading eventually to getting the NES hooked up to the Internet. Possible? Don’t know, but it would be fun to try.

– A Podcast of my very own – So in thinking of ideas for doing a podcast, I thought of covering my rentals from Netflix, as Jess and I have tended to get classics and foreign films, it might be fun to discuss them and talk about them in a podcast format. Though I wonder if I could actually talk long enough to make it interesting.

– A nice working house media server – I think I’d have a hard time convincing the wife that this was necessary (since it isn’t) but it would be a lot of fun and with technology going crazy it’d be great to be able to play movies on my TV from a computer that is down in the basement, or something along those lines. Neat? Yes, but I’m going to be realistic on this one and say it’s not going to happen.

There are a few more, but I’ll save them for later.


Netfilx, one of the few .com companies to survive the blow out and keep going strong. Being as nerdy as I tend to be at times, I’m suprised that I didn’t get into the service until just a few months ago.

I thought it might be a hard sell to Jess, but I think her friends at work did a better job of selling her on it than I ever could have. So we signed up a few months ago. Started a queue, and now with 50 movies or so in it and more that could be tossed in, it’s great.

It’s been a great way to pick up older classics (Hitchcock, Kirosawa), foreign and fun newer movies. Not to make this a cheesy ad for Netflix, but I like the ability to find obscure movies and keep them until I actually have a chance to watch them (I have had Kirosawa’s Rashamon for a month and a half now).

New Stuff

– I was pointed to this little gem of an independant game by Quarter to Three, a board I’ve taken to visiting recently. Mount & Blade is a fairly addiciting medieval combat game at the moment.

You create your character, the usuall stats type system, but the game also has a really robust face creator for creating a unique character for yourself. Then you go out and build yourself an army of locals and train them and yourself to take on river pirates and bandits, before moving on to other larger and harder bands of roving bad guys. The game has an impressive combat engine, where you can ride your horse to battle or move on foot to take on your enimies. And all this done buy a husband and wife team from Hungary. Check out Mount & Blade.

Star Control 2 – one of the best games I’ve ever played has had it’s source code released a few years back by the authors and there is a crew of people updating the game to run on modern computers. The Ur-Quan Masters has just released version 0.4 of their project. Go get it, try out the amazing music re-mix packs as well.

– I’ve heard a few rumblings that George R. R. Martin has finished up the fourth book in the Song of Ice and Fire series that he’s been writing entitled “A Feast for Crows.” After five years of waiting, it’s about time.

BBS: The Documentary is now shipping. This guy devoted years of his time and hours and hours of footage to interviewing people who were involved in the old days of BBS’s (Bulletin Board Systems) in the days before the Internet as we know it exsisted. BBS’s were usually more community based and you tended to actually know a good deal of the people visiting them. I’ll review it more when I recieve my copy.

Firefox 1.0

Mozilla’s Firefox browser has now reached version 1.0! What does this mean to you? Simply this, a more satisfying browsing experience, a more secure browsing experience, and also a browsing experience that you are able to customize easily and quickly.

Seriously, if you havn’t tried it yet, it’s worth a download. You’ll be amazed at how many bad little things you used to take for granted (like having to close all of the popup windows all the time) are now taken care of. Spyware jacked your system? Firefox isn’t going to be so insecure that it will let it happen.

CNN’s even covering it it seems. I’ve been nothing but happy since starting to use it, and couldn’t ask for more.

Random Links – Again!

– A history of Mario Sprites, from his Donkey Kong roots to his more ugly pixelated recent Mario vs. Donkey Kong game. Some good commentary, but just fun to see all the different versions of our favorite plumber.

– SpaceShipOne made it up and back safely. This is great to watch. Their next flight is scheduled for October 4th and then the X-Prize will be theirs. Fun part is, a friend of mine works for Dynon Avionics, who has some of their systems in the SpaceShipOne.

– Here’s an excellent guide to where trojans and malware hide on you system. Pretty much I’m going to check my system when I get the chance. AdAware on gets so much of the junk.

– From RandomURL, comes this link to a electoral vote predictor based upon how the polls are in the different states. I see this changing as the debates go on, but time will tell. Breaking my own rule on not talking about politics, when is middle America going to realize that our president lied to them so he could go to war and change American foriegn policy and the world view of us forever? On another note, this guy makes arguments against the electoral college. He’s got some points, but then everyone has their arguments.

Copy Protection

I found an excellent article summing up software copy protection. It’s written by Brian Hook, who’s site has a number of well written articles that I may cover later. But onto copy protection.

Like most of us, I love digital technology. The possibilities that it presents for the future are amazing, and the ability to preserve the past and make it available is also one of my favoite features of the digital medium. With the growth of the download speeds in the US with broadband connections, the ability to get intellectual property (music, movies, games, software in general) for free over the net has increased. This is all well known and well documented, and also better covered by thousands of sources out there. Moving on.

Brian Hook’s article covers software protection. He mentions at the beginning of his article that most any computer user has “pirated” at least $50 worth of software sometime in their user experience. Probably a copy of MS Office, or getting a copy of Warcraft II from your dorm buddy. Thinking back, I was way over that $50 before I was even a teenager. My friends and I readily traded back and forth games and their schemes for copy protection (usually some sort of manual look up (oh do I remember the days of “Page 32, Paragraph 3, Line 4, Word 13”)). It was natural almost. It’s not that we didn’t buy games, but it was generally understood that if we bought games, somehow our friends had copies too.

Fast forward to the 90’s where games got bigger (whoa, multi-media) and making copies was unfeasable, and my dialup was certianly not going to get me the latest Tie Fighter expansion. I bought during this period, after playing demos of games that I was interested in. Quake, Diablo and more. I played, knew it worked well on my system, and wanted more, so I bought it. I had the disposable income to do so in a few ways.

Nowadays though, sigh, I wish I could say I bought all of the software on my system. It’s not the case, and while I know I’m only one of hundreds of thousands with something I didn’t buy on my system, I know there is room for improvement. Taking a look around these days, if I need a new application to help get something done, I’ve started to look on Sourceforge first to see if there is an open source option for the program I’m interested in. Be it an FTP program, browser or random editing tool. I love this option. Also as my system ages, I like the option of demos for games. Independant software developers have always been good at this and I love the trend.

Back to the article, Brian does a good job of covering excuses, complaints and reasons of software piracy, but as well covers how improvements might be made to prevent losses, and as well as prevent alienating their paying user base with intrusive copy protection schemes and authorizing features. Excellent read, and worth the time.