Tweaking Chrome: Fixing Slow or Non Webpage-Loads

Chrome has a built-in DNS pre-fetching mechanism which intends to improve page load performance. However, unfortunately the feature has known to do the antithesis of this. With DNS prefetching enabled, you may be experiencing prolonged or extended periods of web browsing resolving the DNS name, with the following text displayed in the bottom left status bar:

Resolving host…

 

Besides that, Chrome may throw blank web pages that are white without any text, or the following error message:

This webpage is not available.
The webpage at <URL HERE> might be temporarily down or it may have moved
permanently to a new web address.
Here are some suggestions:
Reload this web page later.

 

Clicking on the “more information on this error” will display the following nerdy stuff:

Below is the original error message
Error 105 (net::ERR_NAME_NOT_RESOLVED): The server could not be found.

 

The error normally goes away after a refresh button click or full Ctrl-F5 refresh or after restarting the browser. The problem really is caused by unreliable implementation of DNS caching or prefetching in the browser, or buggy coding of Google Chrome’s network I/O (input output) stack.

As a result, turning off and disabling DNS pre-fetching may actually solve and fix many web page not loading issues:

  1. Click on the wrench, then go to Options.
  2. Click on the Under the Hood/Bonnet tab.
  3. Under the Privacy section, untick the check box for Use DNS pre-fetching to improve page load performance.
  4. Close and refresh or reload the web page!

So far everything seems peachy. I have Chrome Beta 11. Sig also reports faster webpage loading and he has the latest public release of Chrome.  This could also be a DNS issue in itself. If web pages start loading slow again I may switch us to a public DNS, like Google’s Public DNS, FoolsDNS or OpenDNS, instead of the one that our ISP provides us with.

Favorite Video Game Couple: P-Body and ATLAS

Rock Paper ScissorsATLAS and P-body, called Blue and Orange by GLaDOS, are a pair of bipedal robots in Portal 2’s co-operative campaign. GLaDOS created them to complete her “Cooperative Testing Initiative” project, comprised of the most complex tests in the Aperture Science Enrichment Center, which are also uncompleted by any human.

These cute robots were designed from scraps. ATLAS’ design is based on a Personality Core, while P-body is based on a Sentry Turret. To facilitate their humanization, they were given their own personalities, and clearly anthropomorphic designs and behaviors. For instance, gender-related personalities have been applied to them, with ATLAS being masculine, and P-body feminine. ATLAS seems to be brave and fearless, willing to take on any challenge, while P-body is inquisitive and sensitive, examining the situation with care before proceeding. Both value friendship, making them the ideal testing partners.

I’m very fond of ATLAS and P-body as a couple because Sig and I were able to complete the co-op version of Portal 2 within a day! They very much remind me of Sig and myself when we play games together: solving puzzles, lots of teamwork, and the occasional hilarious death that was really an “accident”!

Most Annoying Video Game Character: Pey’j

Pey’j is an anthropomorphic pig in Beyond Good and Evil. He is Jade’s “uncle” and often acts as her sidekick in gameplay. He lives with Jade in a lighthouse on a small island on the planet Hillys. The story also says Jade was placed under Pey’j’s care when her parents felt it would be too dangerous to keep her. Using a spaceship he designed and built with Jade’s father, Pey’j escaped to Hillys, setting up a new life for him and his niece. Because of his potbellied figure, Pey’j doesn’t possess many abilities that demand endurance or agility. He does, however, have great skills in mechanic work and can fix relatively anything.

Why do I think Pey’j is annoying? Well for the soul fact he says really annoying things when I play Jade, and he’s around as her sidekick. His rather fake southern tough red-neck accent makes it worse! He also says the same comments repeatedly: “Look out Jade! Watch out Jade!”  This was a death nail pounding in my ears. I mean I can take about 10 minutes worth of commentary from Pay’j, but more than that I want to throttle his little piggy neck, rip his fat tongue out, and feed it to a DomZ Sea Serpent. What’s worse, is that I won’t buy Beyond Good and Evil 2 because of Pay’j — if it ever comes out that is.

Beyond Good and Evil

  • Developer: Ubisoft
  • Publisher: Ubisoft
  • Publish Date: 2003

 

My Video Game Character Idol: GLaDOS

If I could be a character in a game, I would be GLaDOS (Genetic Lifeform and Disk Operating System). GLaDOS is amoral and rather sadistic. She has a clear sense of humor, but an extremely dry, bitter, and sarcastic one; her jokes are usually dark, morbid, or outright cruel. She seems to enjoy making comments intended frighten others or to undermine their self-esteem, but does not usually express open malice. Instead, she makes snide implications, seems to malfunction at suspiciously convenient times, or claims that her insults are merely objective fact. She is very “passive-aggressive.” GLaDOS lies frequently, especially about her own emotional state, often claiming to be pleased or merely disappointed when she is clearly alarmed or enraged. She usually portrays herself as an innocent victim, no matter how obviously cruel her own actions have been. Although it is often unclear whether there is any real point to her experiments, she seems to be motivated by a sincere passion for science, which she regards as her fundamental goal in life.

Why would I want to be a character like that? Well, personality aside, she’s an all-mighty computer with the ability to build strange, deadly, but cute things like turrets and weighted companion cubes. And before Chell got to her, she had an awesome logic core dedicated to cake!

GLaDOS Logic Core Cake Recipe

  • one 18.25 ounce chocolate cake mix
  • one can prepared coconut pecan frosting
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 large eggs
  • one cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 3/4 cup butter or margarine
  • 1 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 cups all purpose flower

Don’t forget garnishes such as:

  • fish shaped crackers
  • fish shaped candies
  • fish shaped solid waste
  • fish shaped dirt
  • fish shaped Ethel benzine
  • pull n’ peel licorice
  • fish shaped volatile organic compounds
  • and sediment shaped sediment
  • candy coated peanut butter pieces; shaped like fish
  • one cup lemon juice
  • alpha resins
  • unsaturated polyester resin
  • fiberglass surface resins
  • volatile malted milk impoundments
  • 9 large egg yokes
  • 12 medium geosynthetic membranes
  • one cup granulated sugar
  • an entry called: “How To Kill Someone With Your Bare-Hands”
  • 2 cups rhubarb; sliced
  • 2/3 granulated rhubarb
  • 1 Tbsp all-purpose rhubarb
  • 1 tsp grated orange rhubarb
  • 3 Tbsp rhubarb; on fire
  • 1 Large rhubarb
  • 1 cross Bohr hole electromagnetic imaging rhubarb
  • 2 Tbsp rhubarb juice
  • adjustable aluminum head positioned
  • slaughter electric needle injector
  • cordless electric needle injector
  • injector needle driver
  • injector needle gun
  • cranial caps

And it contains proven preservatives, deep penetration agents, and gas and odor control chemical’s that will deodorize and preserve putrid tissue.

My Guilty Pleasure Game: Hamtaro

Hamtaro: Ham-Hams Unite

  • Developer: Shogakukan
  • Publisher: Nintendo
  • Published Date: 2003
  • Platform: Game Boy Color

This is the cutest game I’ve ever played. I loved this game, and I still do in my heart. Hamtaro: Ham-Hams Unite! is an extremely simple adventure, but it’s deceptively fun and engrossing in its simplicity. Basically, all Hamtaro can do is talk in the Hamspeak language, but he can only say words that he’s learned throughout the adventure. Each of the 85 different words in the Hamspeak language activates an action that can solve puzzles all over the different areas. Early in the adventure he’s given the absolute basic of Hamspeak words: the standard Ham-Ham greeting (Hamha!), a dig command (Digdig!), a sniffing command (Hif-hif!), and an rolling attack (Tack-Q). With these first four words in your vocabulary, you must set off into the real world and put them to use. When you meet a new face, give them a friendly “Hamha!” If you don’t get anywhere with that critter, give them a rolling “tack-q” to force a conversation out of them. From there, it’s up to you to figure out the proper words necessary to get through the adventure. My favorite Hamspeak word was “GoPee,” which makes Hamtaro go pee on any surface he’s standing next to, and some how helps him find secrets.

Underrated Game: Auditorium

Auditorium

I think I was reading a blog post and clicked on a link. There was Auditorium: an alluring sensory experience, where audio and visuals seamlessly mix with creative and challenging game-play. Auditorium was originally introduced as an online game and highly underrated, before it was finally discovered by indiePub Games – a community of independent video game developers. as part of an indie game development competition.

In Auditorium, the player uses various game mechanics to bend streams of light particles to fill audio containers. As each of the audio containers is filled, an audio channel introducing an instrument or sound is added to the game’s music. In most levels, the audio containers are a variety of colors which the particle stream must match in order to fill it. The player changes the color of the stream by manipulating it over fixed areas of the level which dye the particles as they pass through them. The goal of each level is to direct and split the stream in such a way that each audio container is filled simultaneously, revealing the level’s full soundtrack.

For a few moments before writing this, I couldn’t remember the name of this game. Thankfully, Google was able to translate “music game with shooting light particles” for me. When Auditorium first came out in 2008, it was only a Flash game and I played it quite a bit because it was relaxing. I really liked the haunting classical sound track. You can now get the game on all manner of platforms including the iPhone with extended musics.

My Favorite Video Game Character: Cloud Strife

Cloud Strife

Cloud Strife from Final Fantasy VII is my favorite all time character.

Cloud is the protagonist of Final Fantasy VII and self-proclaimed ex-SOLDIER-turned-merc of AVALANCHE. Cloud was a confused boy, often arrogant, but kept a cool attitude. He kinda grows up after a traumatic experience in the Lifestream, which helps him discover lost memories of his true self. Overall he’s a mysterious character and only by playing him do you discover who he is.

It wasn’t just his spiky blond hair that made me favor him as a character I liked the most, but rather his subdued nature let me decide for myself what the character was thinking. So in a sense, it was with Cloud that I was able to pretend at being myself while inside the world of FFVII. Although Cloud had his own personality written in by the FF creators, I was okay with that because he turned out to be a cool guy.

Final Fantasy VII

  • Developer: Square
  • Publisher: Square
  • Publish Date: 1997
  • Platform: Playstation, PC

Lands of Lore

My First Video Game: Lands of Lore “Maze Game”

Lands of Lore: The Throne of Chaos

  • Developer: Westwood Studios
  • Publisher: Virgin Interactive
  • Publish Date: 1993
  • Platform: DOS

Yep, this was my first real video game.

Lands of Lore: The Throne of Chaos was a gift from my brother when I was about 15 or 16. Its a First-Person-RPG kinda game with voice acting by Patrick Stewart! To be honest, I couldn’t remember much of the plot for this RPG — Doom, my second video game, left a far more lingering memory, so I had to look up the following: Scotia, an evil sorceress, discovered an artifact that will allow her to change her shape at will, rendering her an immediate threat to the kingdom. King Richard of Gladstone (voice by Patrick Stewart) calls for a champion to take up the cause.

What I do remember is that I had the choice of four different characters to choose from. Each with different abilities in the areas of strength, magical powers, and “rogue” skills. I also remember that this game was quite repetitive. You crawl through maze…after maze…after maze, killing the scary things that around the corner. I remember that there was a forest maze, a cave maze, a mine maze, a swamp maze, and a castle maze. There was a point where I had to stop playing it because it was turning into “dungeon cleaning” maze game, and all I really had to do is keep turning left. Eventually, I’d encounter every monster and solve the maze. Doom also came out that same year, so I played that for quite a while before coming back to Lands of Lore. When I did, I finished the final castle maze and defeated the witch. Hooray me!

Are you Sick, Mr. Router?

Recently, we’ve been experiencing some network issues at our house. And I thought, “Learning to do check-ups your home network is a must; just like how we all learn how to do check-ups on our car’s oil by using the dip-stick.”

On Windows 7, its very easy to see if your network is performing normally by checking to see if  you are getting any packet loss. Symptoms of packet loss include constant corruption of files when downloading or sudden drop of internet performance in your connected applications. This isn’t the only way to troubleshoot networking issues, but it’s a good place to start for a homeowner.

1) First open up your command prompt by pressing the Windows Key+R. Then in the dialogue box, type “cmd” (without the quotes) and press “OK”

Run Window for CMD

2) In the command window, type ‘ping 192.168.0.1 -t’ (without the quotes and note the spaces) and hit Return.

Ping your Router

Let it run for a few minutes. Change the 192.168.0.1 to whatever your default gateway is (your router address) the one in the example is for a Cisco router. You should have this IP number from when you first installed your router.  They will consist of 4 sets of numbers separated with a period (.) You don’t have to ping your router address, you could also try pinging Google for example ‘ping google.com -t’

3) After about 2-3 mins press CTRL+C to stop the reading and see if you have any packet loss. You should see 0% if everything is normal.

Check for Packet Loss

If you are seeing 0% packet loss, then you know that there is no problem between your router and the computer.  If you are still experiencing problems, then you need to expand your investigation. Here are a few things to check:

  1. Check the cable that connects between your router and your PC. They can degrade over time and need replacing.
  2. If you are wireless, make sure that your network drivers are up to date.
  3. Is the Firmware on your router upto date? If not, try to install the latest version.
  4. Firmware is OK? Borrow a friend’s router and try the same test.
  5. If all else fails, try talking to your ISP. Explain the tests you have done and see if they can help on their end.

These are really simple things you can do to check your network without being a tech-head. Maybe you can catch something without having to replace your router.

No Comcast is Better

Six Months without Cable TV & Comcast

This month we hit our sixth lunarversary of life without cable and Comcast.

No Comcast is Better

I first started on this effort to get rid of Comcast because I discovered that they were drastically reducing the speed for streaming videos from Hulu and Netflix. The throttling of our bandwidth continued to affect my work as a web developer, and Sig’s abilities to VPN into his office for his telecommute days. We were accruing losses from lack of production because of Comcast’s meddling with our bandwidth.

Glasnost’s ISP Shaping Internet Test Page helped me hammer in the last nail into our decision to kill Comcast as our internet service provider and as our cable TV company. Glasnost tests work by measuring and comparing the performance of different application flows between your host and Glasnost servers. The tests can detect traffic shaping in both upstream and downstream directions separately. The tests can also detect whether application flows are shaped based on their port numbers or their packets’ payload. It’s a fairly handy tool for the homeowner.

On Sig’s side of things, the switch was fairly painless. He was never a big TV watcher, and prefers movies over TV shows.

Selecting an ISP: Qwest CentryLink

In the end, we went with Qwest, but not before doing extensive research on their broadband service in our area and definitely not before reviewing their customer service policies. Ten years ago we were very disappointed with Qwest’s customer service and lack of bandwidth.

At first the switch over was rocky, for the first week we ended up with a faulty DSL modem. In the third week, the switchboard near our neighborhood went down for three days. Both times I complained about Qwest on Twitter and Facebook. Unexpectedly, for both instances, I got a response from Qwest. When our modem turned out to be faulty, we got it replaced within 24 hours. When the switchboard went down, I got a call from local manager (yes a real person) explaining the events that transpired.  After those two events, our broadband has been stable and our bandwidth issues solved. Our up and download speeds are fast enough for both games and work. Only about once a month do I need to restart the modem, when our connection seems slow.

Today I use social networks to keep tabs on Qwest, not only for outages but also their business endeavors. The latest news entails the CentryLink and Qwest merger — now officially completed at the beginning of this month. Yes, this means that our beloved Qwest Field will become CentryLink Field at some point.

Typically customer service suffers from big mergers, because efficiency and cost savings are important objectives for most mergers, even though there is a larger group of customers to serve. The press releases say that Qwest and CenturyLink will continue to operate independently, just under one name. My concern of course is customer service and will be keeping tabs on my local service. I’ve been burned by Qwest, before they revamped their customer service department and I would hate to have a repeat from ten years ago.

What to Watch: Netflix & Hulu

I love streaming TV and movies to my computer and both Netflix and Hulu are perfect for that.  Today’s tech makes it stupid-easy to hook up your PC to a flat panel TV. Even my new laptop has an HDMI out and software for streaming video.  We’re not really concerned about getting the latest episodes of popular shows. If we were, we could probably purchase new shows through iTunes.

For news, we mostly go through NPR’s streaming radio and read up on local news via Google News and Seattle Times Online. Some news stations also stream their headliners online. I could subscribe to AP news RSS Feeds and get real-time news hits with desktop widgets, but I’m not that desperate for word from the outside.

Other types of media content, like sports, we seem to be fine without. We’re not big sports fans and typically find baseball and basketball boring. Though we don’t dislike soccer or football, it just isn’t big in our lives. If we wanted to watch sports, I think we’re more likely to attend a live match at the stadium.

Side Effects of a No Cable Life

We watch a lot less crap. I’m serious! With cable TV in the house, you just watch whatever is on. Without it, you tend to actively search for things to watch, and eventually the quality of what you watch goes up. We actually enjoy more of our time watching a show or movie as a result. Now perhaps the lack of cable TV created a need to read more reviews, but now we’re being far pickier than before instead of consuming whatever is being fed to us. I personally don’t feel like I’m wasting my time on shows that turn out to be stupid or uninteresting.

I’m less likely to buy things I don’t need now. I’m easily persuaded by commercials sometimes and, without cable TV I’m seeing less commercials; and consequently buying less.

We also have more time to do more rewarding activities. Sig is writing and game designing a lot more, and has created some quality products now for sale. He’s been quite happy with his Advanced Feats Series. For myself, I’ve been improving my writing skills and focusing on expanding my skills in desktop publishing and graphics design. We’ve also taken up podcasting, were I enjoy producing and sound engineering, while Sig takes pleasure in hosting and talking to guests.

Life without Cable is Better

We both think that the quality of our lives is better without cable TV. To say by how much, I can’t really say. I can say that if we do watch something, the quality of what we watch is better. We also have a better service than before. Overall, life is good without cable and Comcast.

Anne