The Refresh Continues…

As I work to refresh my blog and expand with new blogs, posts here will be deleted and moved to a more proper location.

The basic breakdown is: – Life improving methods and technologies. Includes science and computers.
These Old Games – All old games of any type.
My GSIV Site – Posts relating to Simutronics Gemstone IV game.
Wonders of New York – Travel ideas and natural beauty in NY State.
Pretender to the Power – Art and Literature.

But enough about me.

I love to read as much as possible. Blogs enable me. :)

Here are a few blogs I read :
Attack of the Vegetables – Carol has compiled recipes using produce she has grown herself or obtained at the local market.
Life in the Nest – Jen, family and friends have complied a collection of ideas, recipes and methods for living frugally and simply.
Black Crow, White Owl – Melissa is an aggressive and talented artist. I became familiar with her art via her photography, but soon discovered she works in collage, mixed media, acrylics, graphic design, watercolor AND photography!

The Breaking of the Blog

The time has come to break the blog. I intended Pretender to the Power as expression of my creativity, and while I have met that goal, the overall theme has been stretched beyond all limits. Blogs are very focused on a single topic and I have not been focused at all.

I will fix that. Today I have launched two more blogs named These Old Games, My GSIV site, unpwnd, and Wonders of New York. The first two blogs will concentrate on games, the second being linked specifically to Simutronics’ Gemstone IV game. These Old Games will focus on both old computer games and pen and paper games. Unpwnd will be a site focusing on technology and the Wonders of New York will be a travel log of New York State and the natural beauty of our region. As time goes on, I expect to launch several other sites to discuss other topics.

At this time I have decided not to remove posts, but over the next few weeks I will migrate posts and images to these new sites. Once complete, Pretender to the Power and her sister sites will be rich in content and strongly driven to meet my personal goals.

I hope you have enjoyed this site as much as I have enjoyed creating it. Stay tuned – I will be posting more updates, including an explanation of the name of this site.

Gambling with Google Translate

When I enrolled at school, taking a language was not in the cards for me. That soon changed as I completed all the interesting Art and English classes. Soon it became clear that a language was a necessary requirement for graduation. I found that the skill set provided by the English classes were inadequate for my purposes. I was missing the basic English skills required and the classes that covered these skills were remedial at best. My only option was a foreign language.

Language has always interested me. The complete integration of reading, writing and speech has always been a source of wonder. In my mind speech is one skill, reading a second and writing is a third. They are as different as unicorns, internets and shoes. I find it quiet amazing that the human mind can grasp all three and combine the three into the ultimate means of expression.

Learning a foreign language forces a person to review their native language and their skills with it critically.

Do I want to say “internets”? Yes. Is “internets” correct? No. What is wrong with it? No capitalization and the pluralization of a singular item. I am still going to use it? Yes. Why? Because it is funny in a defective way. Is that all? No, “internets” provides word play value as it is not REALLY a singular item and not a proper noun. I can write “Library” and “library” and even “libraries” and “Libraries”, so technically I should be able to do the same with “internets”. In English.

Could I do that with Spanish? Not without sound daft or dumb if you prefer.

Humans have an inherent level of error correction that allows them to overcome flaws in the application of language. There is a certain level of correction used on a daily basis that allows for communication. Broken language skills forces a listener to make allowances. Exposure to too many errors can cause reproduction in the listener. That “copying” will degrade a person’s language skills unless they question and review their skill often.

Just a few weeks ago, Google rolled out a Chrome extension for translation. How does it fare? Actually not bad.

Lets take a look at a Poker website. Being a geek, I have to use a game website, it wouldn’t be cool to use a government page. I don’t play cards much but would like to learn. And this site does have a link to Facebook, which I use all the time.

Chrome provides an obvious button at the top for the translation, allowing the user to read on should they speak that language themselves. It also identifies the name of the language which is a nice touch.

Clicking the translate button creates some technical issues.


As you can see, the major features of the page remain unchanged. The banner is an image so it remains unchanged. The flash images in the center are also unchanged.

A little zoom shows the text body is now rendered in English.

Zoom text

The first sentence translates clearly; I understand everything. It isn’t poetry or marketing gold, but it works. Moving to the third sentence, I see a phrase that stands out: “the place”. An American website would capitalize that cliché for all it is worth – “THE PLACE” or some other variation. American marketroids are addicted to capitalization in all of its ugliness. There are hints that this is a machine translation, but it is a very good machine translation.

Language is very subjective, humans endeavor to have the best tools available for any skill. Is Google Chrome Translation the new dictionary/thesaurus? Not yet, but…

Tricky Unetbootin install – CentOS

Unetbootin is a wonderful piece of software. It will create a bootable USB drive of your favorite Linux flavor.

Well, most of the time.

CentOS is a special case. The files needed for CentOS* reside on mirrors and not the support website. So, Unetbootin cannot reach them. Obviously there are ways around this. The most obvious is to download the files from the mirror, but let us forget about planning and forethought, shall we?

Step one, download Unetbootin.

Step two, open it.

Launch Unetbootin

Select the desired flavor of Linux. Note: If you do not choose CentOS this is the wrong guide for you. Be 100% sure about your drive letter. This step can cause all sorts of file deletion and badness.

Select CentOS

Now wait for the OS to download. There are no files on the CentOS website, so this will not take long.


The last step is to reboot. I would recommend against using your one and only computer for this. Take the USB drive to a different computer and boot that one.


The installer is very user friendly, so I will skip everything up to the ftp address. The installer requires two pieces of information: the ftp site name and the Red Hat Directory. The example of this data is from the University of Chicago.**

FTP site name:
The Red Hat Directory: /5/os/i386/

Select ok and watch the magic happen!

* CentOS does have the option for a live disc, however I have not found a way to install using those files. To be honest, I didn’t try very hard.
**The FTP site listed has CentOS 2-6. Choose wisely.