Half-Life 2: Episode 3

Dearest Playa,

I hope this letter finds you well. I can hear your complaint already, “Gertie Fremont, we have not heard from you in ages!” Well, if you care to hear excuses, I have plenty, the greatest of them being I’ve been in other dimensions and whatnot, unable to reach you by the usual means. This was the case until eighteen months ago, when I experienced a critical change in my circumstances, and was redeposited on these shores. In the time since, I have been able to think occasionally about how best to describe the intervening years, my years of silence. I do first apologize for the wait, and that done, hasten to finally explain (albeit briefly, quickly, and in very little detail) events following those described in my previous letter (referred to herewith as Epistle 2).

To begin with, as you may recall from the closing paragraphs of my previous missive, the death of Elly Vaunt shook us all. The Research & Rebellion team was traumatized, unable to be sure how much of our plan might be compromised, and whether it made any sense to go on at all as we had intended. And yet, once Elly had been buried, we found the strength and courage to regroup. It was the strong belief of her brave son, the feisty Alex Vaunt, that we should continue on as his mother had wished. We had the Antarctic coordinates, transmitted by Elly’s long-time assistant, Dr. Jerry Maas, which we believed to mark the location of the lost luxury liner Hyperborea. Elly had felt strongly that the Hyperborea should be destroyed rather than allow it to fall into the hands of the Disparate. Others on our team disagreed, believing that the Hyperborea might hold the secret to the revolution’s success. Either way, the arguments were moot until we found the vessel. Therefore, immediately after the service for Dr. Vaunt, Alex and I boarded a seaplane and set off for the Antarctic; a much larger support team, mainly militia, was to follow by separate transport.

It is still unclear to me exactly what brought down our little aircraft. The following hours spent traversing the frigid waste in a blizzard are also a jumbled blur, ill-remembered and poorly defined. The next thing I clearly recall is our final approach to the coordinates Dr. Maas has provided, and where we expected to find the Hyperborea. What we found instead was a complex fortified installation, showing all the hallmarks of sinister Disparate technology. It surrounded a large open field of ice. Of the Hypnos itself there was no sign…or not at first. But as we stealthily infiltrated the Disparate installation, we noticed a recurent, strangely coherent auroral effect–as of a vast hologram fading in and out of view. This bizarre phenomenon initially seemed an effect caused by an immense Disparate lensing system, Alex and I soon realized that what we were actually seeing was the luxury liner Hyperborea itself, phasing in and out of existence at the focus of the Disparate devices. The aliens had erected their compound to study and seize the ship whenever it materialized. What Dr. Maas had provided were not coordinates for where the sub was located, but instead for where it was predicted to arrive. The liner was oscillating in and out of our reality, its pulses were gradually steadying, but there was no guarantee it would settle into place for long–or at all. We determined that we must put ourselves into position to board it at the instant it became completely physical.

At this point we were briefly detained–not captured by the Disparate, as we feared at first, but by minions of our former nemesis, the conniving and duplicitous Wanda Bree. Dr. Bree was not as we had last seen her–which is to say, she was not dead. At some point, the Disparate had saved out an earlier version of her consciousness, and upon her physical demise, they had imprinted the back-up personality into a biological blank resembling an enormous slug. The Bree-Slug, despite occupying a position of relative power in the Disparate hierarchy, seemed nervous and frightened of me in particular. Wanda did not know how her previous incarnation, the original Dr. Bree, had died. She knew only that I was responsible. Therefore the slug treated us with great caution. Still, she soon confessed (never able to keep quiet for long) that she was herself a prisoner of the Disparate. She took no pleasure from her current grotesque existence, and pleaded with us to end her life. Alex believed that a quick death was more than Wanda Bree deserved, but for my part, I felt a modicum of pity and compassion. Out of Alex’s sight, I might have done something to hasten the slug’s demise before we proceeded.

Not far from where we had been detained by Dr. Bree, we found Jerry Maas being held in a Disparate interrogation cell. Things were tense between Jerry and Alex, as might be imagined. Alex blamed Jerry for his mother’s death…news of which, Jerry was devastated to hear for the first time. Jerry tried to convince Alex that he had been a double agent serving the resistance all along, doing only what Elly had asked of him, even though he knew it meant he risked being seen by his peers–by all of us–as a traitor. I was convinced; Alex less so. But from a pragmatic point of view, we depended on Dr. Maas; for along with the Hyperborea coordinates, he possessed resonance keys which would be necessary to bring the liner fully into our plane of existence.

We skirmished with Disparate soldiers protecting a Dispar research post, then Dr. Maas attuned the Hyperborea to precisely the frequencies needed to bring it into (brief) coherence. In the short time available to us, we scrambled aboard the ship, with an unknown number of Disparate agents close behind. The ship cohered for only a short time, and then its oscillations resume. It was too late for our own military support, which arrived and joined the Disparate forces in battle just as we rebounded between universes, once again unmoored.

What happened next is even harder to explain. Alex Vaunt, Dr. Maas and myself sought control of the ship–its power source, its control room, its navigation center. The liner’s history proved nonlinear. Years before, during the Disparate invasion, various members of an earlier science team, working in the hull of a dry-docked liner situated at the Tocsin Island Research Base in Lake Huron, had assembled what they called the Bootstrap Device. If it worked as intended, it would emit a field large enough to surround the ship. This field would then itself travel instantaneously to any chosen destination without having to cover the intervening space. There was no need for entry or exit portals, or any other devices; it was entirely self-contained. Unfortunately, the device had never been tested. As the Disparate pushed Earth into the Nine Hour Armageddon, the aliens seized control of our most important research facilities. The staff of the Hyperborea, with no other wish than to keep the ship out of Disparate hands, acted in desperation. The switched on the field and flung the Hyperborea toward the most distant destination they could target: Antarctica. What they did not realize was that the Bootstrap Device travelled in time as well as space. Nor was it limited to one time or one location. The Hyperborea, and the moment of its activation, were stretched across space and time, between the nearly forgotten Lake Huron of the Nine Hour Armageddon and the present day Antarctic; it was pulled taut as an elastic band, vibrating, except where at certain points along its length one could find still points, like the harmonic spots along a vibrating guitar string. One of these harmonics was where we boarded, but the string ran forward and back, in both time and space, and we were soon pulled in every direction ourselves.

Time grew confused. Looking from the bridge, we could see the drydocks of Tocsin Island at the moment of teleportation, just as the Disparate forces closed in from land, sea and air. At the same time, we could see the Antarctic wastelands, where our friends were fighting to make their way to the protean Hyperborea; and in addition, glimpses of other worlds, somewhere in the future perhaps, or even in the past. Alex grew convinced we were seeing one of the Disparate’s central staging areas for invading other worlds–such as our own. We meanwhile fought a running battle throughout the ship, pursued by Disparate forces. We struggled to understand our stiuation, and to agree on our course of action. Could we alter the course of the Hyperborea? Should we run it aground in the Antarctic, giving our peers the chance to study it? Should we destroy it with all hands aboard, our own included? It was impossible to hold a coherent thought, given the baffling and paradoxical timeloops, which passed through the ship like bubbles. I felt I was going mad, that we all were, confronting myriad versions of ourselves, in that ship that was half ghost-ship, half nightmare funhouse.

What it came down to, at last, was a choice. Jerry Maas argued, reasonably, that we should save the Hyperborea and deliver it to the resistance, that our intelligent peers might study and harness its power. But Alex reminded me had sworn he would honor his mother’s demand that we destroy the ship. He hatched a plan to set the Hyperborea to self-destruct, while riding it into the heart of the Disparate’s invasion nexus. Jerry and Alex argued. Jerry overpowered Alex and brought the Hyperborea area, preparing to shut off the Bootstrap Device and settle the ship on the ice. Then I heard a shot, and Jerry fell. Alex had decided for all of us, or his weapon had. With Dr. Maas dead, we were committed to the suicide plunge. Grimly, Alex and I armed the Hyperborea, creating a time-travelling missile, and steered it for the heart of the Disparate’s command center.

At this point, as you will no doubt be unsurprised to hear, a Certain Sinister Figure appeared, in the form of that sneering trickster, Mrs. X. For once she appeared not to me, but to Alex Vaunt. Alex had not seen the cryptical schoolmarm since childhood, but he recognized her instantly. “Come along with me now, we’ve places to do and things to be,” said Mrs. X, and Alex acquiesced. He followed the strange grey lady out of the Hyperborea, out of our reality. For me, there was no convenient door held open; only a snicker and a sideways glance. I was left alone, riding the weaponized luxury liner into the heart of a Disparate world. An immense light blazed. I caught a cosmic view of a brilliantly glittering Dyson sphere. The vastness of the Disparate’s power, the futility of our struggle, blossomed briefly in my awareness. I saw everything. Mainly I saw how the Hyperborea, our most powerful weapon, would register as less than a fizzling matchhead as it blew itself apart. And what remained of me would be even less than that.

Just then, as you have surely already foreseen, the Ghastlyhaunts parted their own checkered curtains of reality, reached in as they have on prior occasions, plucked me out, and set me aside. I barely got to see the fireworks begin.

And here we are. I spoke of my return to this shore. It has been a circuitous path to lands I once knew, and surprising to see how much the terrain has changed. Enough time has passed that few remember me, or what I was saying when last I spoke, or what precisely we hoped to accomplish. At this point, the resistance will have failed or succeeded, no thanks to me. Old friends have been silenced, or fallen by the wayside. I no longer know or recognize most members of the research team, though I believe the spirit of rebellion still persists. I expect you know better than I the appropriate course of action, and I leave you to it. Except no further correspondence from me regarding these matters; this is my final epistle.

Yours in infinite finality,

Gertrude Fremont, Ph.D.


What Are the Rights of a Copyright Owner?

Copyright provides the owner of copyright with the exclusive right to:
• Reproduce the work in copies
• Prepare derivative works based upon the work
• Distribute copies

Copyright also provides the owner of copyright the right to authorize others to exercise these exclusive rights, subject to certain statutory limitations.

What Is Not Protected by Copyright?

  • Mere variations

Who Can Claim Copyright?

The copyright in a work initially belongs to the author(s) who created that work. When two or more authors create a single work with the intent of merging their contributions into inseparable or interdependent parts of a unitary whole, the authors are considered joint authors and have an indivisible interest in the work as a whole. By contrast, if multiple authors contribute to a collective work, each author’s individual contribution is separate and distinct from the copyright ownership in the collective work as a whole.

Transfer of Copyright Ownership

Any or all of the copyright owner’s exclusive rights, or parts of those rights, can be transferred. The transfer, however, generally must be made in writing and signed by the owner of the rights conveyed or the owner’s authorized agent. Transferring a right on a nonexclusive basis does not require a written agreement.

Protecting Your Work

Copyright exists automatically in an original work of authorship once it is fixed in a tangible medium, but a copyright owner can take steps to enhance the protections of copyright, the most important of which is registering the work. Although registering a work is not mandatory, for U.S. works, registration (or refusal) is necessary to enforce the exclusive rights of copyright through litigation. Applying a copyright notice to a work has not been required since March 1, 1989. A notice may still provide practical and legal benefits. Notice typically consists of the copyright symbol or the word “Copyright,” the name of the copyright owner, and the year of first publication. Placing a copyright notice on a work is not a substitute for registration.

How Can I Use a Copyrighted Work?

When deciding to use a work protected by copyright, the general rule is to seek permission from the copyright owner. Under the copyright law, a copyright owner may authorize activities that fall under the exclusive rights of copyright.

Restraining Orders & Online Harassment & Documenting Online Harassment & Involving Law Enforcement

Restraining orders can provide a concrete remedy against persistent online abuse. If you decide to pursue a restraining order, be prepared for a multistep judicial process. You will need to present convincing evidence of both the abusive conduct and the harm brought about by the perpetrator’s actions. You will have to show that you will suffer irreparable injury unless a restraining order is issued to limit contact. Keep in mind that you will generally not be able to remain anonymous when seeking a restraining order, in part because the perpetrator will need to be informed of whom they are restrained from contacting. A restraining order is a court order requiring a person to do (or not do) certain things. In the context of online abuse, a restraining order prevents the perpetrator from further contacting and harassing the victim.

The burden to show that a restraining order is necessary is placed on the individual making the complaint (i.e. the victim of online abuse). Generally when getting a restraining order, the individual making the complaint must show that immediate and irreparable injury, loss, or damage will result to them if the order is not issued. A victim seeking a restraining order based on the complaint of cyber harassment must demonstrate that the harasser’s conduct:

  1. is knowing or willful;
  2. is repeated (such that it forms a “course of conduct”); and
  3. places a reasonable person in fear for his safety or causes a reasonable person to suffer emotional distress.

Courts are very reluctant to ever issue a restraining order that limits speech. The plaintiff will be expected to show that they are seeking to restrain conduct – not speech.

If the victim is seeking a restraining order against an online harasser, the victim must provide proof of repeated abuse (ie, “course of conduct”) and of the harm suffered in the face of such conduct. The victim should document any proof showing that the abuse would continue absent a restraining order (for example, any communication from the perpetrator indicating intent to continue the abuse).

Though it might feel counterintuitive, documenting online harassment—saving emails, voicemails, screenshots, and hyperlinks — is critically important.

Documenting online abuse provides a record of what’s happened, tracks available information about the perpetrators, and alerts you and others to abuse patterns and escalations in harmful behavior. Documentation can help facilitate conversations with friends and family, and it is absolutely critical if you decide to escalate abuse with social media platforms, alert your employer, report abuse to law enforcement, or pursue legal action against an abuser.

When documenting instances of harassment, ensure that you’re saving all relevant evidence and not just the evidence that paints you in a favorable light. For example, if you contributed offensive dialogue or heated language to an online exchange that you’re planning to document, be sure to include those aspects of the exchange, too. Though you may regret having said certain things, a failure to document all aspects of your harassment could end up harming you if you ever end up in court. You don’t have to prove you’ve reacted perfectly at every step in order to pursue your harasser.

In general, the police are able to respond when a crime has been committed. For that reason, they may be better positioned to respond to the following forms of online abuse:

  • You’ve received or been named in direct threats of violence (threats that suggest a time, place, or location are more likely to be taken seriously by law enforcement).
  • An online abuser has published nonconsensual images of you.
  • You’ve been stalked via electronic communication (see below).
  • You know the identity of your online harasser and wish to seek a restraining order.

You may be asked to answer detailed questions about the online harassment you’ve experienced and provide as much detail as possible. You may also be asked to present evidence, so it’s critically important to document abusive content because it can disappear quickly (if the abuser deletes it or the platform takes it down).

Filing a police report is important because it can initiate a criminal investigation. It can also help you prove that the harassment made you fear for your safety and that the harasser was engaging in a “course of conduct” (i.e., harassing you repeatedly rather than just once), which can be helpful should you decide to pursue a criminal or civil case against the harasser.

Law enforcement is more likely to intervene if a crime has been committed. However, the reality is that, when it comes to online harassment, the burden of educating local law enforcement about existing cyber laws often lies with the victim. For that reason, you may want to look up your state’s cyber laws and have them in hand when you interact with law enforcement.

Filing a police report does not always result in immediate action or relief. There are various reasons for this. Sometimes a hateful online message falls within the realm of protected speech, and the law doesn’t apply. Sometimes local law enforcement has not been adequately trained to respond to cyber harassment — an area of policing that continues to evolve. Sometimes the police officer handling your case may be unfamiliar with the online platforms where the harassment occurred. Law enforcement officials who are not well versed in technology and online harm may not treat online harassment as significant or urgent.

Law enforcement can help you bring criminal charges if you report a possible crime. Law enforcement can expedite search warrants with online platforms to obtain evidence of harm, which is not something a lawyer can do unless you are bringing a civil lawsuit.

Because laws governing online harassment vary state to state, it is critical, if you’re considering pursuing legal action, to seek the advice of a lawyer who practices in your state. A responsible lawyer, experienced in online harassment, can help you decide whether or not to pursue civil or criminal action, engage law enforcement, seek an order of protection, or advocate with social media platforms or other technology companies. That said, obtaining legal advice can be costly.

There are many reasons you may decide to contact a lawyer when experiencing online harassment. A lawyer may be able to help you with: nonconsensual intimate imagery, defamation, true threats of violence, cyberstalking, and severe cases of cyber harassment involving a “course of conduct” (i.e. ongoing behaviors from the same perpetrator) can merit a lawyer’s involvement, along with a number of other harassing behaviors that might cause you substantial emotional distress.

However, there are many forms of online harassment that a lawyer can’t necessarily help you with. While most abusive tactics are exhausting, emotionally taxing, and even traumatic for the target (not to mention ethically reprehensible), they are not necessarily illegal. For example, a person who is calling you offensive or hateful names on social media is probably engaging in speech protected by the First Amendment — in which case, a lawyer is not likely to get involved. Even threats of violence, which aren’t always protected by the First Amendment, can present a gray area online: the legal definition of a “true threat” is narrow and can be challenging to apply in an online context, where discerning a speaker’s intent can be difficult.

Responding to Cyberbullying: Top Ten Tips for Adults Who Are Being Harassed Online

Windows Vista

The problem wasn’t Vista – but 3rd party support. They had ample time to figure out the new ecosystem through numerous alphas and betas, yet companies were too complacent and comfortable with XP. At the same time, consumers were too complacent and comfortable with their outdated computers, but then complained when Vista didn’t run as well as XP. Vista wasn’t very stable at launch but drastically improved after SP1. Windows XP was the same. In the end, Vista turned out to be a great OS over the years but was eclipsed by 7. People also didn’t realize Windows 7’s driver model was pretty much the same as Vista – so when Windows 7 launched, drivers (for the most part) were not much of an issue. Vista changed drastically on the way from Longhorn, dropping all work done on the successor to XP from 2001-2004 and restarting the development cycle in August of 2004. This caused a lot of problems for folks trying to develop software making use of features and APIs removed from the SDK, and shipping the DDK late to silicon manufacturers meant that a lot of peripherals wouldn’t have device drivers or poor-quality ones. They had less time to write, validate, debug, test, verify, and then go through their own release processes using alpha-level OS and dev tools so their stuff could be ready by the time Windows Vista shipped. Remember, it was still common to buy packaged software products a dozen years ago, and there’s significant lead up time to create, proof and print all the documentation, boxes, CDs and other collateral that go into fully packaged products, aka a retail boxed product. The less time you have to do those things, the more it costs you to have rush jobs done to get boxes into the distribution channel.

Online Social Communities / Message Board Forums

Forgot I had this blog, but since I continue to keep WordPress updated with every new version I may as well not let it go to waste. Going to look back and reflect at sentimental journeys. 😛

So I felt like being nostalgic and reminiscing about classic times I’ve had online over approximately the past 7+ years, however, I don’t expect to be able to remember all the details regarding my times at every community and so I’ll leave comments open if any of my old acquaintances wish to add their thoughts. Keep discussion civil and mature, or don’t comment at all. I know I’ve been involved in my fair share of drama, however, I was not the cause of every bit of drama either. I’m just writing all of this so people can try to understand why I’ve begun getting bored with new communities. I’ve been around so many it’s just started getting old. But I’m only going to write about ones I cared most about though.

My first experiences with managing and running an online community message board forum began in roughly 2004 (Aussie Ben can correct me if I’m wrong) with Next Tech. To my surprise the first one was a success in my book, and we grew rather large and active. We had a great staff, and even had a bit of uniqueness with radio disc jockeys and an online radio. We had a CMS (content management system) running our front page and had active news and news posters. I remember it was around this time my friends Chris123NT and BlueScreenOfDeath (Ryan Price) were brought over because they had closed down their own community, Next L3vel. We had a very solid group of staff members for this community. I can’t remember how long we had our good run (Aussie Ben might remember), but after a while we got nailed for the mistake of using piracy regarding our copy of IPB (Invision Power Board, our message board software) and our CMS and we temporarily shut down.

We soon re-opened back up as BetaXP somewhere around February 2005, if I remember correctly, and it was then I brought on-board my good friends, Nic and Thomas among others. BetaXP had a great run as well, as was also a bit more experience for Nic because Ben sold it to him after Ben decided to pursue other interests (he has a bit of a thing for cars, mainly Toyota Corolla). BetaXP continued having a niche with Jase’s “Naro Network” which at the time had potential by offering a suite of products and services (I don’t remember them all, one was an instant messenger, another was a web browser named “Pipeline”, and there was another one I still don’t quite understand what the heck it was at the time but I looked at it like a p2p network including media functions). BetaXP was also rather unique in its design with Jase being a very talented and proven coder and designer in my eyes and we never ran out of ideas for the cosmetic department for the site. Unfortunately, BetaXP and Naro parted ways due to differences in opinion, chain of command, and activity slowly begun to drop eventually leading up to where we lost our host due to security problems and again we closed up shop. Not only did our hosting company go under, but our actual host himself later died as well, unfortunately, so obviously it would be too awkward and uncomfortable restarting BetaXP.

After BetaXP, I believe I begun passing time and enjoying forum life as a regular normal member at other communities such as joejoe.org (I gained a bit more experience here as well for a short time as a global moderator) and my friend William’s The Vista/Win Forums (more experience in moderating here also) and JCXP until about March 2008 when I caught word of iWinUX. Now iWinUX could have been the next best thing for myself and Nic since Next-Tech. It was not a replacement for BetaXP or even a hostile take over. We didn’t ask for positions, but we did kindly offer our time and services, and Sam accepted us when he didn’t even have to. Why Sam actually did take Nic and I on I’ll never know exactly for sure… perhaps he felt bad we lost our past communities, or was impressed with all of our past experiences, or just really needed more staff at the time since iWinUX was still establishing itself. Times were awesomely great, and I continued the roles I had been doing since Next-Tech and BetaXP such as installing modifications to the board to add more features and services as well as general administration and moderation keeping the board organized and clean. Over the next few months, bad times begun to happen after we decided releasing inactive staff members who didn’t keep up communication with us. My own staff and members begun questioning my motives and actions and this eventually in time lead up to drama and stress which further lead to my decision to take some time off to get away from it all until it blew over… and so I demoted myself in our administrative control panel. Little did I know there would be an issue and big deal about bringing me back when I wanted to return and people would forever think I bailed out on them. This begun a downward spiral with more people leaving after I demoted myself, eventually including Nic himself as well as Sam the founder himself. I admit it was bad enough I made the mistake I did, but I didn’t want others to follow suit either.

In time, all the mess became water under the bridge, and by the Autumn/Fall months that same year (2008) iWinUX was being run by Chris and Ryan (Price) and they were running it well. I was back into an administrative role as a supervisor and things were going well until about the winter when they decided to move on to GeekSmack to pursue other interests and opportunities and then eventually Nic and myself regained control over our site. However, GeekSmack and iWinUX were basically competition and conflicts of interest to some people, and rumor had it GeekSmack was pretty much an iWinUX replacement. iWinUX never did re-open with its second clean state and restart in December last winter because of this since Nic and other former staff were enjoying life anew at GeekSmack and having great potential and success there. I was actually happy for them, and proud of them that things were going rather well over there. Drama and stress seemed slim to known… on the outside anyway. Even I was happy there as a smaller role as a news poster… I couldn’t argue with whatever staff spot I had as I saw it as more experience to learn and gain and always something fun to do. My role as news poster didn’t last, however, since I had little to no previous experience with said position, and that was okay because it was still good times in my opinion. I continued being an active member regardless and still had responsibilities at The Win Forums where Nic was also having a wonderful time as a pod-caster.

Progressing on to 2009, Nic and Sam wanted to reboot iWinUX a third time and I was “invited” to come back… but come back as what exactly? There still appears to be a bit of paranoia… I don’t want to say trust issues just yet, but paranoia indeed. Sam was no where to be found and hasn’t replied to my email. Nic was going to be selective about staff and only start off with “certain people” until it grows back up again. I might have possibly returned in a global moderator role again, but probably not anything in administration again. Perhaps it’s most likely time to move on, maybe I’ve burnt out and gotten too rusty… or maybe there are trust issues and too much doubt and people too afraid to be honest with me. I don’t know, and to be honest, I don’t care either. I’ve been around message boards and forums for almost ten years now and it’s just more of the same over and over again since 2001 when my true first experiences with online communities began with Neowin in 2001 as a regular normal contributing member of an online society and carried over into Next-L3vel shortly after where I got my first moderation experiences and learned what it’s like to be part of a website’s staff. It’s not that I am concerned or worried about repeats of history and having more failed projects, it’s more of I am just bored and tired of it all. I still believe in Sam and Nic and wish them nothing but the best of luck and sincerely do hope they are successful this time around (third time’s a charm?) and I might still register and visit from time to time. But as far as being staff, I just don’t know any more. If anyone knew me well enough as a good friend and a reliable and dedicated and trustworthy staff member, it’d be Nic and Sam, but to say they don’t want me to be a founder again this time around just kind of hurts and maybe I do take some offense. But I’m not going to sit and debate and argue their decisions because iWinUX is Sam’s site as he’s the original founder and creator and Nic is the current domain owner. I’m not even their host any more, therefore I don’t have any say in anything since I don’t hold ownership to anything any more. However, the point was we used to be a tight knit group of friends, in some aspects we were a family, we had gotten close. I don’t quite follow their mindset 100% just yet as to why they’re calling the shots they’re calling. I guess I’ll give it time and cross said bridges when I come to them and wait and see what the future holds. If they want my help again, they know where to find me. As for now, I’m staying back and watching from the sidelines. Nothing’s set in stone just yet, so I hope the left hand can know what the right hand’s doing this time around.

There’s other things going on in my life right now, most importantly college and work and a relationship. I have a life outside of the internet that gets top priority, and even when that’s settled I’d rather enjoy my leisure in an online gaming community because I often find that more enjoyable and less stressful. Nic and Sam, for what it’s worth, you have my blessings and support with iWinUX, but I hope you both can understand if I don’t exactly come running back with open arms any time soon… it’s nothing personal at all… I just felt it may be time for me to let it go and move on. Don’t get the wrong idea, as I said, I may still register and be an active normal regular member, and I’ll probably gladly accept a staff role if I’m offered one. However, due to so many differences and disagreements over the years I’ll take my time in joining and I’ll wait out the first few months until the bumps in the road are patched. I do have a reputation and tradition to uphold with the portable traveling wallpaper topic anyway. 😀

Concluding with 2010, and our last attempts at anything pure and decent with William’s sort of ‘reboot’ of “The Vista Forums”. Against my better judgment, I decided to try another message board forum, even though I knew what’d happen. The same old usual people can’t be trusted and have no respect and are immature and unprofessional. I joined a place called “The Super Bar” which was a replacement for my friend William’s “The Vista/Win Forums” they started after some shenanigans with “iEntry” regarding some advertisements. Well, I wanted to give some people who I thought were my friends benefit of the doubt and trust them to not make me known because I joined under a different name than I usually do because I didn’t want to be known or become active yet until I gave Super Bar some time to grow and establish itself. I felt this request was perfectly valid based on past reputation and history with other communities… why bother becoming anything yourself as an active member if the community hasn’t done the same yet? Plus I still remembered how Vista/Win forums staff insist on thinking I left/quit them for another community so I knew at least a few of them were still conceited. Another staff member disrespected my wishes and brought me up and so it proved that you just can’t trust some people. So I ended up having my account deleted practically the same day I set it up. Like what’s the big deal that I first of all simply joined and second of all didn’t want to be known? It’s like they imply I was going to start trouble and felt it was necessary to alert the rest of the staff. It just really surprised and disappointed me… people who I thought were my friends. And then there’s this one other guy who’s always had a holier than thou attitude and is very egotistical and enjoys complaining who is still around and he just starts tripping balls because I had joined. Well after seeing these reactions I decided it’s not worth it. There are no more pure and decent online communities any more, in my opinion. Nothing good ever comes out of them. People enjoy making assumptions and labeling you and never really take the time to get to know anyone. Clearly there’s still mutual lingering feelings of shenanigans from well over a year or so ago with iWinux and GeekSmack. People always talk about “moving on” but I don’t think they actually do it. There’s still continuing unprofessionalism and immaturity. Neowin seems to be the lesser of the evils, although I equally hate them as well, but at least they can actually keep steady and up to date news flowing. No one will beat their growth. 😉

Last stand in 2011, I come to find a “closing down” notice topic over at the Super Bar regarding inactivity and what appears blatant advertising spam for inviting people to GeekSmack. Shortly after discovering the topic, later in the same month, the board is actually closed (set to offline mode) with the same notice and spamming/advertising for GeekSmack. I guess both communities were desperate for activity… sad to see Super Bar lower themselves to that… may as well put up a redirect index file. And then shortly after that, the domain for Super Bar dies, and GeekSmack removes their forums. Message board forums are beginning to come to the end of an era, blogs maybe making a come back. Nic had also turned iWinux into a news blog for some time until I also hear good news he was picked up for a more professional news role at a place called “Thinq” (a British U.K. technology site). My Australian friend, Ben, is also doing well starting up a new online radio station named “Radio Fiber”. Thomas is still pursuing a busy and active college education.

So it would seem a few of my good friends have returned back to their roots, which is great, I am very happy for them. Personally, for myself, I had begun a new job back in January, keeping me busy, and in my spare time I continue playing co-operative multi-player video games online. Life is still going well, although for some of us, our adventures have come to an end… for me it got repetitive and old… time to move on and pursue other interests. It’s not that I hate what’s become of online communities, and for the record I don’t hate any community I’ve been a part of… I just sometimes question the judgment of certain people at each one and their motives on how they choose to run their communities. I have no ill will or grudges towards Neowin, joejoe.org or even GeekSmack or Super Bar… as I’ve said in my writings, I’ve just become worn out, some of us probably just cling to the past too much and can’t let go, or just don’t want to stop acting like we know someone when we really don’t. I think that’s what my problems with some of these communities are. All it took was me wanting to take my break during a stressful time at iWinUX and it was a never ending downward spiral from there. I felt betrayed and used, and after trying a few clean and fresh starts else where and seeing that some people just don’t ever change, I just didn’t want anything more to do with it any more. I had begun serving a purpose and a role within the Steam community, as I said before earlier, in online co-operative multi-player videogames and managing a few servers for this service, and that was overall a more pleasant and enjoyable and contributing experience. This is the last “social community” I’ll most likely definitively be seen at from here on out. 🙂

Microsoft Windows, Apple Mac, Linux, OEM Wallpapers

I have permissions to do what I do, so there is no need to be concerned about legal matters (redistribution). I was given approval by Microsoft and could probably pull up the permission email if necessary. Apple had not replied to me, but based on permission given by MS I don’t see why they’d care. Materials such as these are all over Google and DeviantArt and various search engines image search and the internets anyway. I’m just trying to make it easier by having it all in one central portal.

I’d like to share the famous big collection of default Microsoft (Windows), Apple (Mac), Linux, and OEM wallpaper backgrounds that my friend (Thomas) and I spread to many boards. We’ve been doing this for so long and it gets appreciated where ever it goes.

We usually make future updates in the form of ImageShack uploads and post the thumbnails linking to the original sizes of the wallpapers, and also post updated RAR links. We used to have an actual gallery, but our project has grown so big so many times we’ve had to change hosts and haven’t had the time to redo the gallery yet, but we plan to bring it back eventually. However, if anyone else wants to do a gallery for us it’s fine by me as long as you give proper credit.

This is my way of contributing immediately after joining any community I go to. It often tends to bring many searchers; just keep an eye on the topic views back out in the forum. From past experiences this sometimes brings many new visitors and hits due to search engine archiving and crawling and content such as this being a popular search term.

Recently, we have gotten some requests for permission to use these wallpapers, and links to the downloads, on other websites. We ask that, if you do wish to, please feel free, however, we do want some form of recognition for doing the work. Something along the lines of “Created and maintained by Ryan & Thomas” would be sufficient. Also, we ask that you PM us the link, send us a board email, or post the link here after you have done so. This way, we can know just how far our project is spreading. Thanks for the appreciation, the contributions, and the support you’ve all given us. We’re always on the hunt for more, so please, if you have something you don’t think is in our list, feel free to share, and we’ll be glad to include it. Thanks again, and happy downloading!

Indeed, Thomas did help me with this project of ours. When updates come about, he’d likely be the one to post them. We hope this contribution will be enjoyed here as much as it is at other places around the web. We try to bring new material at least once a month, but it varies, sometimes more sometimes less. Enjoy it in any case, and if you have something that you feel we should include, please feel free to share. Thanks, and enjoy!

These wallpapers are not created by us, they are what comes by default with the versions of Windows, Mac OSX, various Linux distros, and the many OEM computer distributors. We collect them as a hobby though, yes.

We have not forgotten about this… we’ve just been very busy, like everyone else in the world. We still collect and share whenever we find new material and have time. I expected activity to pick up during the Windows 7 builds once a proper beta testing period began because Longhorn/Vista betas had constant new wallpapers and I knew 7 to be similar.

Main download links:
Linux: http://www.shiftyninjas.net/wallpapers/linux.rar
Apple Mac: http://www.shiftyninjas.net/wallpapers/mac.rar
Microsoft (no Vista): http://www.shiftyninjas.net/wallpapers/microsoft-novista.rar
Microsoft (with Vista): http://www.shiftyninjas.net/wallpapers/microsoft.rar
OEM 1: http://www.shiftyninjas.net/wallpapers/oem1-2.rar
OEM 2: http://www.shiftyninjas.net/wallpapers/oem2-2.rar
to be verified: http://www.shiftyninjas.net/wallpapers/wallpapers.rar
Seven: http://www.shiftyninjas.net/wallpapers/seven.rar

Seven specific:
Build 7048: http://www.shiftyninjas.net/wallpapers/7048_WP.zip
Build 7057: http://www.shiftyninjas.net/wallpapers/7057_walls.rar
Build 7068: http://www.shiftyninjas.net/wallpapers/7068-walls.zip
Build 7072: http://www.shiftyninjas.net/wallpapers/7072_RU.zip
Build 7077: http://www.shiftyninjas.net/wallpapers/7077-walls.rar
Build 7106: http://www.shiftyninjas.net/wallpapers/7106-walls.zip
Regional: http://www.shiftyninjas.net/wallpapers/regional7.rar


Please enjoy. My partner in this project has been keeping himself very busy for a long time now, but as I said we have not been neglecting this project or the gallery. It’s been just me trying to keep it updated with only RAR files, but I promise to announce when he’s got a proper gallery going (unless anyway else is up for the time consuming task).

Open Letter to Microsoft and the Community

These are not my words, but the words of a great friend of mine, and I’m helping him be heard by sharing this with everyone else and spreading it around.

I decided to write this letter with the help of various others in the community who agree with my assessment of current things relating to Windows 7 and the way it is being handled. Enjoy the letter, I think we make a LOT of good points that need to be considered.

The growing number of atrocities committed by Steven Sinofsky as the Senior Vice President of the Windows group has been mounting week by week. Recently, I think we saw the effect of this boil over. But first, before we get into that, I think we need to examine who he is and what he has done.

Steven Sinofsky was brought in during a time of great turmoil, when Microsoft was doing it’s damnedest to recover from the mess that Jim Allchin and Brian Valentine made. Don’t get me wrong, they were good people and had only the best of intentions, but they made a damn mess out of Windows. Windows was late, unstable, and had an entire Operating System scrapped, billions wasted.

Now, put yourself in the shoes of a board member of Microsoft. Here we have the two highest revenue generating products, one ships like clockwork, pushes out innovation, is loved, has no PR problems, and most often comes in under budget. Then, we have this other product. It’s getting horrible press, it keeps getting delayed, it’s budget grows and its performance decreases.

The only logical choice is for Windows managed like Office. I must say, I was pretty excited when I heard that the Windows ship would be ran as tightly as Office. But as time passed, that excitement waned. It was two months after Windows Vista RTM’d that it became clear what kind of ship Windows was going to be.

Steven Sinofsky’s defiance to talk about Windows Vista Service Pack 1 painted the picture of what the road to the next version of Windows would be like. All we wanted to know is what Service Pack 1 would be. Would it fix performance bugs? Would it fix file transfer speeds? Should we have any hope that Windows Vista would get better? Alas, none of these questions were answered.

Soon after, Steven, under your directive, Microsoft employees were not even allowed to acknowledge that they were working on a new version of Windows. This was purely ludicrous, as we all know you would not have thousands of employees spinning around in their ergonomic chairs, in their beautiful little offices. The refusal to admit such a mundane detail was where your castle started to crumble.

This enraged us, and made us determined to undermine you in any way possible. We chose the method of rumor mongering. This gave way to the general belief that the next version of Windows would “go to pieces” or other stupid ideas. I will admit, this was not at all how we should of reacted. But you left us no choice. Damn it, you would not even let the name “Windows 7” be spoken until November of 2007!

As you continued to keep up your policy of defiance, all of us got even more and more angry. All the Microsoft contacts that anyone in this community had were starting to let their anger show. These people WANTED to let people know what was going on with their features, or at least wanted to hear what customers thought about what they had. You had succeeded at enraging your employees and the Windows Enthusiasts.

For you see, the culture, the very essence of the Windows Enthusiast / Microsoft relationship was based on openness and sharing. It is obvious but unnecessary that you didn’t want to be as open with Windows 7 as you were with Windows Longhorn. As I already mentioned, the management of Windows Longhorn was horrible, which is something that Windows 7 would not suffer from. You used, (and have continued to use) Windows Longhorn as an excuse to not talk.

Who could resist the temptations of an Apple like disclosure policy? We know how those psycho zealots react at their cult gatherings conferences. Who wouldn’t want that for their product? But Steven, you do not realize that Apple has always been like that. Windows was never like that, that is why such a drastic transition would never work… You attempted to wrap a fusion of Apple secrecy and Office management around this thing called Windows. This experiment failed miserably, and any competent manager would have recognized this failure with the reception of how Service Pack 1 was handled.

I am sure that Steve Ballmer has seen this failure on your part, but it would be impossible to remove you in the middle of the Windows development. In fact, you have strategically placed yourself at the heart of Windows 8 before Windows 7 has even reached beta, to make sure that you cannot be removed without the project falling apart.

You had the opportunity to talk about the Windows 7 vision, possibly even give monthly “State of Windows” videos on Channel 9. But no. You chose complete secrecy. And do not even try and comfort yourself with this “Engineering 7 blogs.” You have this innate ability to talk so much and say so little. Karl Rove would be proud of you. Do you see what this has done? It has made it so when something does leak, it is spread to all corners of the community with anger and aggression, with the sole purpose as a vendetta against you and solely you.

Over this past week, there has been an explosion of leaked information regarding 6780. Steven, this is directly because of your choice to remain quiet. Would you have simply announced if PDC attendees should expect a build of Windows 7, you would not have this problem on your hands.

In the past, Windows has always had a face. For quite some time we had Bill Gates. He was and still is revered as a God. Then, we got Jim Allchin and he did a pretty good job as the face of Windows. Despite his blunder known as Longhorn, he was who we rallied around. This time, you have not given us a person like that. You have stood in the shadows, and given us a person to hate. Our hatred for you grows every day that you are in the seat of power that you are in. As a community, we need someone to look up to. We need a face. If you chose to swoop in now and be the face of Windows, we would see right through it as a PR ploy. I implore you to get this through your head. We do not want you. Now, nor shall we ever.

But, let it be known, we do need someone to rally around. There is such a person in the Windows group. This is a person who motivates the employees. This person can lead the designing of new paradigms by developing brilliant new research methods. This person is willing to speak to the public. This person is possibly the only one who could replace you with the plans for future versions of Windows failing apart. This person knows what you have done right, and knows what you have failed horribly at. This person knows how to keep the customers happy. This person is Julie Larson-Green.

Julie Larson-Green led the development of the highly successful ribbon UI and keeps all her employees happy. When we hear that she will be in a public forum, we all get giddy at the idea of hearing her speak. Julie has seen your miserable failures, and she would know what to do and what not to do. She would find the balance between transparency and translucency.

That is why I am asking that the Windows Community backs me in my request to the CEO of the Microsoft Corporation Steve Ballmer, the Founder and Chairman of the board of the Microsoft Corporation, and the rest of the Board of Directors of the Microsoft Corporation recognize Steven Sinofsky’s failures, and back me in my request that Steven Sinofsky be replaced by Julie Larson-Green at the end of the development of Windows 7.

I sincerely thank all of you for your time.

-Chris Holmes
(Chris123NT) And the rest of the Microsoft Enthusiast community

Source(s): Chris123NT via iWinUX 😉

Loveless Acts

“Infinite in mystery is the gift of the goddess
We seek it thus, and take to the sky
Ripples form on the water’s surface
The wandering soul knows no rest”

“My friend, do you fly away now?
To a world that abhors you and I?
All that awaits you is a somber morrow
No matter where the winds may blow”

“Even if the morrow is barren of promises
Nothing shall forestall my return”

“There is no hate, only joy
For you are beloved by the goddess
Hero of the dawn, Healer of worlds”

“My friend, the fates are cruel
There are no dreams, no honor remains
The arrow has left the bow of the goddess”

“My soul, corrupted by vengeance
Hath endured torment, to find the end of the journey
In my own salvation
And your eternal slumber”

“Dreams of the morrow hath the shattered soul
Pride is lost
Wings stripped away, the end is nigh”

“My friend, your desire
Is the bringer of life, the gift of the goddess
Legend shall speak
Of sacrifice at world’s end
The wind sails over the water’s surface
Quietly, but surely”

“When the war of the beasts brings about the world’s end
The goddess descends from the sky
Wings of light and dark spread afar
She guides us to bliss, her gift everlasting”

“To become the dew that quenches the land
To spare the sands, the seas, the skies
I offer thee this silent sacrifice”

Neowin forum #168

NSFW – Back Stage Pass

Not Safe For Work: Where people who give us money can run amok

Welcome to the Neowin backstage area. This is a subscriber only area, so there are some house rules when posting here.

  • This area may contain non work-safe posts, topics posted here may not be discussed in the public forums.
  • People old, sensible and mature enough to contribute to the Neowin ‘gold reserve’ are also expected to show the same maturity in judgment.
    If you don’t like this area, skip it and enjoy our other subscriber options that you paid for.
  • While we observe a lax ruleset here, flamebaiting and general assholiness is still considered a warnable offense.
  • Pornography and graphically violent pictures are still not acceptable in this area. ‘Babes’ are..

Other than the above, don’t try to wiggle through loopholes, (that will just piss off the moderators) just enjoy yourselves in this less restricted area.

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us


The BetaXP community has decided to close up shop and move over to the iWinUX community. BetaXP administration has made an executive decision in the best interests of its members to be a part of a new and active and growing community. You are welcome to come join us.

There are still plans for the site.

BetaXP administration will continue using the site for personal storage and email. Nic setup his blog on there to keep everyone updated about events happening in his life.

The community is happily living on at iWinUX. We accepted BetaXP did not remain active, and decided a fresh start was a good idea.

Still want to keep in touch with us? You will find us at iWinUX!