Showing all posts by R4mzy
gibs: extracting Windows 10 spotlight pictures

yes, i’m alive.

i typed what’s below quite a time ago, why i didn’t publish, i don’t know, but now – yes…

i have more potential posts in mind, so things might pick up here again. it’d be nice to give this old place a new coat of paint, too.

Windows 10 has a thing. A thing where it displays some featured image on the Lock Screen. If you have a look at the ‘Personalization’ settings for the Lock Screen, the thing is called ‘Windows spotlight.’ Well sometimes it’s a rather nice picture and maybe you want it, yes? Well you can have it, and I’ll tell you how to get it.

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“yep, why not I guess.”

In my nineteenth year, our port was visited by some traders, their families in tow. The children wanted to explore the great Neverwinter Forest, and as a native of the area and a fair survivalist, I found myself singled out by my dock-master-employer as a tour guide. I dragged friendly Yodrick along, and took up a small hunting bow and dagger to complete the part. I thought to venture only a little into the forest, perhaps spend some time at the edge of a little brook I knew… That is, until one of the littlest children caught sight of a great stag, and excitedly rushed closer, startling it.

It bolted deep into the woods, the girl naively chasing it on. Panicked, I followed her, called out, my wards following me in turn. I lost sight of the child, thrashing through the woods as I was, my scant tracking skills burning an inadequate hole through my mind. Nightfall would soon be approaching, and I could find neither sight nor sound of the child. Until I heard a scream – a chilling sound, I followed it to a nearby clearing, and there I saw them: three of the shuffling, skeletal dead! They had the girl cornered in a shallow rock cove. One of the children behind me whimpered, and two of the dead’s attention shuffled to the newcomers to their clearing. Seizing the moment, I sped around the slow-witted bones and hurried the girl from the cove, back to her group of friends. As I would follow her, the undistracted skeleton moved to block me, while the other two began tentative shuffles towards the group. I yelled to Yodrick to lead the children home, “NOW!” He was no tracker and no fighter, but he had a strong sense of direction and knew the land. He hurried the crying kids home while I bought time… maybe with my life…

As the two creatures facing the retreating group began moving in chase, I hoisted my short hunting bow from my shoulders, knocked an arrow, exhaled, and loosed it square into the farthest ones back. It fell forward, screeching dryly, and I’d earned myself the unrelenting attention of all the dead. They shuffled at me quickly now – I loosed another arrow into the chest of the closest, and sent it tumbling over too. Shaking, I fumbled the next arrow, I couldn’t knock it… The two fallen creatures were struggling to their feet, while the last standing one was upon me, its rusted, heavy blade held high. I dropped the bow, and plunged my arrow into an empty eye-socket. The creatures’ strike was displaced and the falling blade missed my head but struck a heavy, glancing blow to my left shoulder that sent shocks of pain lancing down my arm. No time to wince, the next was on me, its steel whistling a ponderous, wide-arcing swing. I dodged back, the blade ripping through my ill-suited leather tunic, scoring a thankfully-shallow scratch across my abdomen. As the weight of the swinging sword pulled the skeleton forward and off-balance, my right hand sought the dagger on my belt. I forced myself a step forward and brought the blade up through the creatures vile jaw. It screeched, and I saw a darkness leave its eyes. Suddenly the heavy bones were falling forward, my dagger still implanted in the skull. The weight sent me tripping backward; I slipped, and cracked my head into the rock face of the cove behind me. My vision went fuzzy, a blurred mess of red and black, loose stones falling around me, thumping in my ears… I saw a red sunset, copper clouds across the sky… Rusted sky falling toward me… Rust… To me? The scene snapped back into focus. I twitched my head to the side, trading a cloven skull for a searingly cut from temple to jaw. Sparks flashed from the stricken stone beside me, and the heavy blade crushed into my right shoulder. I yelled out in pain and shock as the blade pulled back for another strike, grating across what I though had to be bone. I struggled under the weight of the dead pinning me, but my arms felt weak and ineffective. I kicked out with my boot, catching the creature in the shin. The dry bone snapped and sent it toppling backward, reaching. I kept scrabbling, kicked my way free and out of the cove, and lunged for a nearby fallen blade. The movement revealed that the rock face, the one that had sent sparks flying and nearly set my hair on fire, had saved my shoulder from the raw, cutting power of the strike. A breath of relief could come later. I grasped the hilt of the heavy blade with both hands, praying the dead hadn’t risen on it’s remaining foot. Pain shot through my arms as I stood, heaved the greatsword over my head, and rounded ’round. I saw it had taken to crawling toward me. Roaring, I brought the rusted steel down on its head, the skull shattering and sending dry bone splinters every which way. Panting, I collapsed…

I don’t know how long it was before Yodrick returned to find me, but I have yet to taste a sweeter wine than the rescuing nectar he brought with him. We returned to the village, Yodrick as near as carrying me. Our reception was, naturally, the keen fury of parental relief that their children were safe. I breathed a sigh of relief, and returned home for recovery…


It’s about time I continued this thing, no? I put Part One up back in May last year, after all… While the IIS+PHP hosting environment I talked about before has remained the same, over time I have continued work on the little page I bootstrapped back then. The page provides the exceedingly simple function of displaying the results of a SQL query.

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It’s yours if you want it: Homefront

I posted an offer for this on Reddit’s /r/GiftOfGames. Go there if you want it.

Homefront was free on Humble Bundle a week or two ago (that’s the 2011 one – not the bugfest that is Revolution. Though to be fair it may have been patched…). I redeemed it as soon as I heard, naturally. The fact that I had bought and played it on release (steel box edition and all that – yes, I drank the Kool Aid of the time) changed nothing. So I have a Homefront key (for Steam) looking for a new, ahem, home, and yeah, this is a giveaway.

The gate of San Fran’.
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gibs: ipCheck: quick and dirty what-is-my-IP script

When I made that VPN script thing, I did so mostly remotely from the host system on which it would be used, over SSH.
So where I would usually just run a quick ‘what is my ip’ web search to confirm my internet IP, that was not possible when testing the VPN script over SSH. So I made this. I still find it useful so, uh, maybe others will too.

The script also checks your IP with multiple (three) online services. You know, in case one is lying to you, or, uhh… Just… It makes extra sure, okay?

Find it here.


nordp2p: automating OpenVPN server selection and connection

One fateful day, when I’d just got light in my fibre,
An email came my way. Snigger and giggle I did,
When I read what that email did bid,
And the button for trash did I smash.

Then a little while later, another damn mail on the wire!
Taken aback, I thought “ah frack,”
And conceded to put pause to my downloader.

Applying a little gumption,
I decided to heck with this setback!
Downloader now on resumption,
There’ll be no pesky watchers of my SYN-ACK!

“This is my tunnel,” Shrek whispered…

Look ma, I done a poetry!

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A Measure of Drive

Alternately: Review: Seagate Barracuda 3TB

My hard disk failed [a time ago]. The one I used to store games and media and such. Sucks, right? Yeah. The drive presented with fast declining performance, which soon progressed to CRC errors and general unresponsiveness. I got what was important to me off before the end, though [porn joke here haha]. And now it’s been replaced by a new and shiny Seagate BarraCuda, the 3TB model (ST3000MD008). I kinda wanted a WD Black drive but, well, I couldn’t come to grips with their prices. And the benchmarks I was looking at showed these BarraCuda’s were outperforming the WD Blacks (the sub-4TB ones) on read speeds anyway, which are more important to me (for things like game loading times and what-not).

Oooh!! Barracuda.

So, in case you’re interested, I figured I’d run a couple benchmark tests on this one, to see how it measures up.

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Artifact’s not Half-Life

Did anyone really expect it to be? I mean it’s what we think we want, sure…

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The robots are coming! Why wait?

So I had an idea. I doubt it’s an original one, but I don’t recall reading or hearing or seeing it anywhere. So I’m putting it here.

There’s a lot of discussion around the idea of an unconditional (or universal, but I prefer unconditional) basic income, UBI, today. It seems many people are very well aware of our collective position as doe’s in the headlights of the fast-approaching eighteen-wheeler of ‘technological and structural unemployment.’ But it seems to me there’s a gap in the UBI videos I have watched, that being a common assumption that the state would be the one to provide a UBI, and I wonder why this should be?

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samba-tdb: automating Samba .tdb backups

I’ve been playing with the idea of running a standalone Samba server to replace an old NAS device that I’d like to repurpose. So I looked for some Samba best-practice ideas and one of them mentioned the periodic backing up and checking the small database files Samba uses for storing config and running info. I figured I’d automate the task with a script, and here we are.


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