I just installed vmcNetFlix which lets you watch your on demand NetFlix movies via your Vista Media Center or any Media Center Extenders like the Xbox 360. It works well but fails poorly with some cryptic error messages and long timeouts. Be sure to get NetFlix on demand movies working in your browser before installing this plugin. Once I did that everything worked very well.
To test it out I watched Ong-Bak: The Thai Warrior in which Ting must travel from his country village to Bangkok where he works with his cousin in the city to recover his village's stolen religious artifact. Its a mix of Perfect Strangers, Street Fighter and Pad-See Ew. Martial arts movies, like porn and video games, aren't required to have a strong plot but Ong-Bak has a fine plot line and enjoyable Thai martial arts. I saw the Tiger Knee in there several times. An enjoyable movie that reminded me of watching martial arts movies with my friends in high school.
Internet Explorer 8 has made my plugin Feed Folder obselete in functionality and implementation -- which is good!
I made Feed Folder for IE7 because I wanted the Live Bookmarking feature from FireFox. The Feed Folder plugin for IE7 would allow you to display your feeds as virtual folders in your Links Bar. When your feed is updated the virtual folder is updated as well with the new feed items. I use del.icio.us to store all my links so I could add virtual folders of my daily links, my friends blogs links, quick reference links, etc. etc.
My plugin relied on shell folders to implement the virtual folders I described above, but IE8 doesn't support shell folders in the Favorites Bar. But I'm OK with Feed Folder not working in IE8 since there's a much better implementation already there. IE8 does better than my plugin on a number of points: First, there isn't the horrible perf. issue that my plugin had on Vista. Second, when a feed is updated the virtual folder flashes to note the change in status. Third, unread items are bolded and the bolding bubbles up from feeds contained in subfolders. And lastly, the middle click button is supported to open items in a new tab.
Accordingly, I don't plan to work on Feed Folder anymore unless someone comes up with a good reason. Instead I mark Feed Folder deprecated and suggest you use Internet Explorer 8 instead.
To use this feature in IE8 simply drag a feed from your feed list in your Favorites Center onto your Favorites Bar. Or, when viewing a feed, click on the 'Add to Favorites' Star Plus icon thing in the upper left, and select 'Monitor on Favorites Bar'. A .url Internet Shortcut file is produced as usual, but if you open up the .url file you'll see there's some additional info about the feed.
This post is about creating a server side z-code interpreter that represents game progress in the URI. Try it with the game Lost Pig.
I enjoy working on URIs and have the mug to prove it. Along those lines I've combined thoughts on URIs with interactive fiction. I have a limited amount of experience with Inform which generates Z-Code so I'll focus on pieces written in that. Of course we can already have URIs identifying the Z-Code files themselves, but I want URIs to identify my place in a piece of interactive fiction. The proper way to do this would be to give Z-Code its own mimetype and associate with that mimetype the format of a fragment that would contain the save state of user's interactive fiction session. A user would install a browser plugin that would generate URIs containing the appropriate fragment while you play the IF piece and be able to load URIs identifying Z-Code files and load the save state that appears in the fragment.
But all of that would be a lot of work, so I made a server side version that approximates this. On the Web Frotz Interpreter page, enter the URI of a Z-Code file to start a game. Enter your commands into the input text box at the bottom and you get a new URI after every command. For example, here's the beginning of Zork. I'm running a slightly modified version of the Unix version of Frotz. Baf's Guide to the IF Archive has lists of IF games to try out.
There are two issues with this thought, the first being the security issues with running arbitrary z-code and the second is the practical URI length limit of about 2K in IE. From the Z-Code standard and the Frotz source it looks like 'save' and 'restore' are the only commands that could do anything interesting outside of the Z-Code virtual machine. As for the length-limit on URIs I'm not sure that much can be done about that. I'm using a base64 encoded copy of the compressed input stream in the URI now. Switching to the actual save state might be smaller after enough user input.
I signed up for the pre-release beta and purchased a Chumby last year. Chumby looks like a cousin to a GPS unit. Its similar in size with a touch screen, but has WiFi, accelerometers, and is pillow like on the sides that aren't a screen. In practice its like an Internet alarm clock that shows you photos and videos off the Web. Its hackable in that Chumby Industries tells you about the various ways to run your own stuff on the Chumby, modifying the boot sequence (it runs Linux), turning on sshd, etc, etc. The Chumby forum too has lots of info from folks who have found interesting hacks for the device.
When you turn on the Chumby it downloads and runs the latest version of the Chumby software which lets you set alarms, play music, and display Flash widgets. The Chumby website lets anyone upload their own Flash widgets to share with the community. I tried my hand at creating one using Adobe's free Flash creation SDK but I don't know Flash and didn't have the patience to learn.
Currently my Chumby is set to wake me up at 8am on weekdays with music from ShoutCast and then displays traffic and weather. At 10am everyday it switches to showing me a slide-show of LolCats. At 11pm it switches to night mode where it displays the time in dark grey text on a black background at a reduced light level so as not to disturb me while I sleep.
I like the Chumby but I have two complaints. The first is that it forces me to learn flash in order to create anything cool rather than having a built-in Web browser or depending on a more Web friendly technology. The second complaint is about its name. At first I thought the name was stupid in a kind of silly way, but now that I'm used to the name it sounds vaguely dirty.