September 28, 2011

Request For Proposals

Okay folks, here's the deal.  I want to write about something related to the Pacific War, but I'm currently tapped out of ideas.  The books I've been reading recently (Kaigun, Blossoming Silk Against The Rising Sun, A Glorious Way To Die) have been fascinating, but haven't led to any huge sparks of inspiration.  So I come to you, virtual hat in virtual wing, to find out what YOU want to read about.  Got a hankerin' to find out something about the Anti-Aircraft cruiser in WWII (though I don't know why you would)?  Lemme know!  If I think it'd be a fun topic to write about, I'll do it, even if it isn't about the Pacific War!  Here's your chance to influence the direction of The Pond!  Can I use any more exclamation points!!!!11!!!

picture unrelated, but funny nevertheless

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September 26, 2011

Graphics Card WIN!

Ladies and gentlemen, our long national nightmare is over.  Chiyo-chan once again has a graphics card installed.

Okay, it's from a company with the odd moniker of SPARKLE, and yes, the cooling fan is a lovely shade of purple, but make no mistake, the GT240 is no wimp.  For all intents and purposes, it puts up the same sort of numbers as Nvidia's legendary 9800GT, but it does it while drawing 106w less power... and only requiring a single slot in my case to boot.  Doesn't even need an auxiliary power connection!

Now it's not a new card.  Heck, SPARKLE doesn't even list the GT240 on their products website anymore.  However, for my needs, it's perfect.  Just for a lark, I installed Fallout 3 and fired it up... and OMG, what a difference a few generations make!  If you'll remember, my previous card was a 7600GT, a high-midrange card released in 2006.  The GT240 first came out in 2009, though the version I have was released in 2010.  This thing is quite the upgrade.

If you've played F3, think back to the first view you get of the Capitol Wasteland after you leave Vault 101... y'know, from the scenic overlook point?  THIS view:

click to embiggenate
From this point, you can see off in the distance the remains of the Washington Monument and the Capitol building.  Off to the right is the town of Megaton.

That was not what I saw when I first played the game with the 7600GT.  What I saw basically ended at the water tower, and even that was somewhat indistinct.  That first time, I was ambushed and killed by a mole rat... that didn't draw in until it was actually attacking me.  I got used to taking a few steps and then zooming in, just to be able to see what was ahead of me.  That first game, it took me an hour to find Megaton... I kept walking past it.  It was like the entire Capitol Wasteland was enshrouded in dust or fog.  That was quite atmospheric, but kinda hard to play.  Eventually, I got it set up so I could play the game, but the tradeoff was no grass and a somewhat mannequin-like appearance to everybody.  I mean more mannequin-like than Bethesda games usually look.

Now, though?  I can actually SEE... and the game doesn't slow down.  Chances are I could even turn the settings up to "ultra-high" and it'd be playable.  Details keep popping up that I'd never seen... Moira Brown, the lunatic shop propriator in Megaton, wears a stained t-shirt under her stained and wrinkled jumpsuit.  When I played, neither had stains, and the wrinkles were kinda more like suggestions.

What I'm saying is, it looks more like what you'd expect the End Of The World to look like.  Sorta.  I guess.  You know what I mean.

The only negative I've noticed with the GT240 is that it doesn't play well with Windows Media Player on HD videos.  However, since ZoomPlayer still handles them quite well, I'm not concerned in the least.  The fan has a very quiet hiss to it, too.  When the rest of Pond Central is quiet, I can hear it... but the moment there's any other sound in the living room (the TV, a fan in the window, a radio) it's drowned out.  I'll get used to it easily enough.

I give the GT240 1GB GDDR5 two wingtips up, and the official Wonderduck Seal of Approval.  If you need a single-slot, low power graphics card, this is the one for you.  Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go and ransack a grocery store for some post-apocalyptic goodies.

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September 24, 2011

Saturday Night Tunage X

Yes, DJ Wonderduck is back, and I'm cleaning the dust off my turntables to bring you another theme entry!  I was sitting around last evening, pointedly not doing anything of value on a Friday night, when I decided to do a video search for "Live Aid", that amazing series of concerts in 1985.  While I was watching Queen burn down Wembley Stadium, the idea for this post hit me.

Longtime readers know that I used to work in the radio biz.  As near as I can figger, at least two of my readers (Brickmuppet, Greyduck) did so as well.  Well tonight, I pay tribute to the technological marvel that used to be the best way to hear music before you bought it.  Ladies and Gentlemen and Ducks, here's to Radio!  For my younger readers, there was once a time when music flew through the air instead of through cables and wires.  It was a wonderous time, a time of booming voices and catchy jingles, a time of fun and joy.  Now, it's all digital this and iPod that and auto-frickin'-tune and on and on... bah.  Get off my damn lawn.


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September 20, 2011

The Day Everything Changed

It's been two years since Momzerduck passed away.  It's amazing how much of that day and weekend remains crystal-clear in my memory, like it happened just yesterday... and how much of it remains just a grim haze.  I remember the Bears beating the Steelers that afternoon.  I remember having pancakes for brunch at a crowded Greek restaurant.   And above all, I remember the last hour or so in that room at the U of Chicago ICU.  I can close my eyes and experience it all again, which I really don't enjoy.

But most of all, I remember how much Momzerduck loved me and how very much I miss her.

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September 19, 2011

Patrol, Bomber, Consolidated Aircraft

There was nothing particularly revolutionary about the PBY Catalina's design.  It had a long range and was fairly sturdy, but it was neither fast nor maneuverable.  Yet the Consolidated Aircraft design Model 28 was produced in greater numbers (at least 4000) than any other flying boat, served in the militaries of 29 different countries, is one of the best-known and most-loved planes of all time, and is still flying today.  What was it about the Cat?

The answer: versatility.

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Well, I don't know if the writer's block is gone or not.  The "big guns" I mentioned in the last post was going to be a full-on episodic review of Rio Rainbow Gate! Ep01, but I discovered that I couldn't bring myself to do it.  The reactions I had in the first five minutes were enough to put that thought out of my mind: cold sweats, shaking, nausea, and the sudden urge to hurt someone... anyone... and a sudden bout of self-loathing for willingly attempting to inflict the show upon myself and others.  I just couldn't do it.

I ordered another graphics card, a GT240 by SPARKLE, this evening.  1GB of GDDR5 should make it pretty good for a low-power card (it draws its power from the PCIe slot only; no extra connections needed).  It's probably the best I can do considering my system is five years old and its design only allows for a single-slot card.  I could have put a 9800GT in... with liberal use of a dremel tool (which I don't have) and a willingness to hack bits out of the back of my case (which I also don't have).

I have Monday and Tuesday off.  The reason for that will be revealed soon enough.

With any luck, I'll actually get the PBY post done on Monday.  I've run through it enough in my head that it should be fairly straightforward, though time-consuming, to write... except for one thing.  I can't seem to get it to flow well.  Eh, either I'll figure it out or I won't.  It'll be a voyage of discovery for us all.

Suddenly, the Hosho appears!

I'm going to bed.

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September 17, 2011

Writers Block? ME?

Sunuvabeetchmartin.  I've got writer's block.  I've sat here for the past hour trying to put something interesting on the screen, and it ain't happening.  Words aren't flowing worth a darn, every bit of verbiage is a struggle.  I've had blogblock, where I can't come up with something to write about, before but I've got something to post this time... and it isn't coming.

I'm afraid there's only one cure: more cowbell drop the subject I'm working on for a while and pull out the big guns... like this one.

Yup, that big.

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September 16, 2011

Graphics Card FAIL!, Part Two: The FAILening

In our last installment, Our Intrepid Hero ordered a dual-slot graphics card instead of a single-slotter.  Chagrined but infinitely wiser, he then began researching graphics cards that would actually fit into his computer, power supply and budget.  A few hours later and a decision reached, the order went in for Nvidia GT240 as released by PNY.  Only 512mb of video ram, but it's GDDR5.  Various benchmarks and tests suggest that it was faster than the 1gb of GDDR3 on many of the other GT240s out there.  And $59 with a $30 rebate?  Score!

The order was accepted, the credit card was charged, and all was right with the world.  Until Monday evening, when I still hadn't received a notice that the card had shipped.  Nor on Tuesday morning.  When I looked back at the above linky, it now said the item was backordered.  Huh? 

A quick call to TigerDirect confirmed that yes indeed, the card was backordered, but that an order had been placed with PNY to get more in, and if I hadn't heard anything else by Friday, I should call back.  Which I did, at lunchtime today.  And lo, I was informed that "there is no delivery date."  Ah.

In my many years of experience working retail, I've learned that when I hear "no delivery date," that means that there's a very good chance that there will never BE a delivery date, ever.  And so, I've canceled that order.  So two weeks after I first placed an order for a graphics card, I'm still without one.  I suspect that if I order another one from TigerDirect, it'll be eaten by a Pale-throated Three-toed Sloth or something before it ships.

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September 13, 2011

The Duck Collector's Holy Grail

I'm sure that most of the readers of The Pond are aware that I collect rubber duckies.  The Flock is nearing 500 members, so I've got all shapes and sizes of duckies: huge duckies, tiny duckies, devil duckies, cast iron duckies, the list goes on and on. 

It's also no surprise to my readers that I'm a fan of anime.  In particular, I tend towards what are called "slice-of-life" shows.  In recent times, the best slice-of-life show to air was called Hidamari Sketch, which starred a rubber duck and six art-school students.  This particular rubber duckie, called Yuno's Duckie, is quite possibly the duckie I wish to have in The Flock the most... but that's a personal thing, my own wish and desire.

However, for serious American rubber duckie collectors there is one particular style of rubber duckie that is very difficult to obtain.  It's called a Tolo duckie, so-called because of the maker, Tolo Toys.  They're a UK company that sells children's toys and playthings... and they don't sell here in North America at all.  Back in the days when the internet was fresh and new, I stumbled upon a website that, amongst other things, had a "webcam" of a rubber duckie doing things (sitting on a balcony, sitting on top of a computer monitor, sitting in a combat boot, stuff like that).  That particular duck was my first exposure to a Tolo duck (though I called it a "chubby duckie" instead), and I immediately wanted one... and this predated my heavy-duty duckie collecting!

How hard is it to get one here in the US?  Over at The Web's mecca for rubber duckie fans,, there was a forum thread where the participants wound up getting a dozen or so of them from a shop in New Zealand, but only after places in the UK and Australia wouldn't do it.  So a chubby Tolo duckie is, truly, the Holy Grail for any rubber duckie fan.

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, friends, Romans, countrymen... I have gained the Holy Grail.

According to Ph.Duck, this was the only rubber duckie anywhere in Northern Europe.  Y'see, he was visiting family in Sweden last week, and went looking.  As he put it, he purchased the duck from a British toy store chain in a Danish city using Swedish kronor while waiting to get on a French-made airliner to fly to America.  I would have loved to have seen the look on the customs agent's face when Ph.Duck answered "A duck" to the usual question "Do you have anything to declare?"

Even better, Ph.Duck had no idea there was anything particularly special about this duckie, had no idea that I would practically wet myself with excitement when I pulled it out of the bag at dinner last night.

It's actually hard for me to believe that I have my own "chubby duckie", after all these years.  Thanks, Ph.Duck!

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September 10, 2011

Graphics Card FAIL!

When did the Nvidia 9800GT go dual-slot without me noticing?  Looks like my choices are now the GT240 or stick with onboard.

This is the first time I've ever regretted getting a BTX-style computer.

UPDATE: Just to clarify, the title of this post really should be "Reading Comprehension FAIL," since it's my own darn fault.  There were pictures at TigerDirect and Amazon that would have made it perfectly clear that the 9800GT wouldn't fit into Chiyo-chan, I just didn't bother.  Wonderdumbarseduck, that's me.

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September 09, 2011

Mashup Madness!

While we all wait for my brain to decompress enough to get around to writing up the Friday Practice post for the Italian GP weekend, I've gotta share these excellent mashups I've stumbled upon recently.

First up, Sad But Superstitious:

Stevie Wonder and Metallica... who wouldathunkit? 

Second, One Of These Heatwaves:

Martha & The Vandellas and Pink Floyd... who wouldathunkit?  Actually, I have a confession to make... this was probably the first mashup I ever heard.  I've had the mp3 for quite a few years.  So it's not something I stumbled upon recently.  So sue me.

Third, from the game DJ Hero, We Will Robot Rock You:

Stick with it... the first 40 seconds are a little slow.  I have a feeling that Freddy would have loved this.  Oh, almost forgot... Queen and Daft Punk... who wouldathunkit?

Finally, Casbah Circulation:

The Clash and an image song from Bakemonogatari?  Who woul... nevermind, you know the drill.  Too bad about the "glitchy" parts, as the masherupper calls them... the mp3 doesn't haven't 'em, by the way.

Off to get my brain working again, back in a while.

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September 07, 2011

Why Blog?

A few days ago, I got to wondering just why I blog in the first place.  It surely wasn't for the public acclaim, fortune and fame.  It wasn't because I had something important to say... or indeed, anything to say at all.  So why do I do it?  Why do I spend hours staring at a computer screen, trying to convey... something... to the various denizens of the intartubes, most of whom don't care what sort of effort and research I may put into a post?

Kinda like this, except without the pencil.  Or the paper.  Or the android.  And with more ducks.
 So really, nothing like this at all.
I've read that the primary reason that bloggers blog is narcissism, that they think so much of themselves that they figure that everybody will be enthralled by their every word.  I suppose for some (most?) that's the case: look at the preponderance of "I Love Me!" blogs, facebook pages and tweets out there.  Anybody who knows me would immediately start laughing at the thought of me being a narcissist... probably to the point of hypoxia. 

I started The Pond all those years ago because the Official First Reader of The Pond, friend Mallory, suggested that maybe some other people might find the e-mail I sent her after every F1 race funny too.  After some poking and prodding from her, I finally gave in.  After a short post about Azumanga Daioh caught the eye of Big Papa Pixy Misa, founding father of MuNuVia (and later MeeNuVia), he invited me to join his burgeoning empire.  And here I've sat, ever since.  I reconnected with The Official First Friend of The Pond, Vaucaunson's Duck, more or less through The Pond, an amazing feat since we pretty much hadn't spoken much since our time in high school.

Somewhere along the way, Steven Den Beste started to linkify me for reasons that baffle me to this day.  Via that connection, I starting conversing with the Brickmuppet off-blog.  My expansion into WWII history brought in The Old Man, flatdarkmars, David, Peter the not-so-great and readers too numerous to mention.  Various and sundry anime posts caught the eye of Siergen, Avatar, Ed, Author, Ben, Don, Ubu Roi, Jeff Lawson, and Robert from the Anime Corner Store every now and again... and plenty of other people as well.  GreyDuck and Colleen started dropping by when they found out about the rubber duckies... I think everybody else just tolerates the ducks, otherwise.  Heh.

But the F1 Update! has always been the heart and soul of The Pond, I suppose.  The Official First Overseas Reader, Flotsky, dropped in because of them.  People have said that they didn't give a rat's hindquarters about motorsports at all until they started reading the F1U!s.  And hey, The Pond started because of Formula 1.  But as of late, F1 has also been my bane; it takes a lot of time on race weekend to adequately cover a F1 race: just watching Practice 2, Quals and the race itself is six hours more or less, not to mention the hours it takes to do the writeups for them... and the F1U! itself usually takes as long as any two or three other posts combined, somewhere in the vicinity of three or four hours.

So why do I do all of this?  Surprisingly, the answer is pretty simple, and can be boiled down to one word:


Friends like Pixy, Steven, 'Muppet, The Old Man, flatdarkmars, David, Peter the-not-so-great, Siergen, Avatar, Ed, Author, Ben, Don, Ubu, Jeff, Robert, GreyDuck, Colleen, Flotsky, Mallory, Vauc, and all the other myriad readers of The Pond I haven't named.  You guys make it worthwhile when the jerks come out.  When I don't have the energy to write much.  And you understand when I don't write at all.  And I never would have met any of you if it wasn't for The Pond.

That's why I blog.

Thanks, all you lot.

PS - If you weren't named, don't take it personally... there aren't enough pixels in the world for me to thank everybody the way I'd like to - Wonderduck.

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September 03, 2011

Going Shopping For Some Toys

My computer has three burning needs at the moment:

1) A new graphics card
2) A new external hard drive
3) A wireless mouse

The mouse I already have picked out, but I'd like some advice from the tech nabobs out there on the other two.  I'm looking for a midrange graphics card that'll work with a 400w PSU, PCIx16 of course, but that doesn't cost an arm and a leg.  I'm partial to Nvidia.  Any thoughts?

For the external HD, I've been looking at the LaCie Minimus, for which the user reviews I've seen have been pretty good, but I'm open to anything.  2TB or more is preferred, but if someone knows about a great 1TB drive that's a must-own, I wouldn't say no.

I'm running Windows XP SP3 with an AMD Athlon 64 X2 3800+ with 3GB of RAM. 

So, lemme hear your opinion!

UPDATE: Brickmuppet, Nori is not a nerd.

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September 02, 2011

I Think It's Over

I've made it through Friday, bringing an end to the Bookstore Death March that has been my schedule for the past month.  You know what that means, right?  Break out the dancing gifs!

Of course, I was supposed to have last weekend off, and we all know what happened then.  So I guess it's possible that it isn't all over after all... maybe a hail of frogs, or suddenly from out of nowhere: BADGERS!  Maybe I'll get a call tomorrow morning saying I have to go back into the store...

"Dozo!  Have a starfish!"
Right.  I'll shut up about that.  Regular blogination will resume as soon as I regenerate some hit points.

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September 01, 2011

Almost There

Just one more day.  Day 19 in a row.  I figured out that I worked 28 of 31 days in August and at one point, 23 out of 24.  Yes, the overtime is sweet, but what good is it if you can't actually generate the energy to actually spend the cash?

Or to blog, for that matter.  It'll come back soon enough... but for now, here's something goofy.

See?  Goofy.  Ho ho.  Ha ha.  It is to laugh.

Posted by: Wonderduck at 08:23 PM | Comments (4) | Add Comment
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