Life in a Gun Shell is a weekly comic written by Andrew Mussey involving the trials and tribulations of living in an 8-bit world. A new strip is run every Friday.

June 1, 2011 at 12:59 PM EST (GMT -5)
Google has just sent out email invitations to buy their first "Chromebook". The Samsung laptop comes bundled with 2 years of free Verizon service up to 100MB a month. This service can be upgraded with no binding contract. Complete details are listed in the picture below:

Original Email:

January 2, 2011 at 8:21 PM EST (GMT -5)
So, it's been over a year since I posted an update for the Rock Band Stage Kit controller program SK Lightworks. The program allowed for full control of the Stage Kit from any Windows PC. Since it's original release, Rock Band 3 has been released, removing support for the Stage Kit.

This is version Because, you know, we all love super long version numbers. This version includes the following updates:
  • The ability to run scripts!
  • Feedback and highlighting to show which LED pattern is in use
  • A panel to show which lights are on, and to allow the user to click and power on certain lights
  • An updates button that will alert the user to a new version
  • The [crude] ability to allow for the use of multiple kits on a single PC
  • Better thread usage and termination

The biggest part of this new version is, as mentioned above, scripting. Users have the ability to write basic commands that can be played either once through or looped. A demo file ( is included that, if opened in a plain text editor, outlines all of the commands and their parameters.

Download links:

Download SK Lightworks

These may or may not be required based on your system:
Download .Net 3.5 Redist
Download XNA 3.0 Redist
Download the Xbox Controller Drivers

I've personally tested it on Windows XP SP3 32-bit and Windows 7 64-bit so it should run on everything in between, but again, if you run in to any problems, let me know. I have a page hosted for the project at I'll try to respond as quickly as possible, but I'll be reporting on the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas for the next week, so I may be in and out.


Link to the original Rock Band Mods Forums post

November 16, 2010 at 9:46 AM EST (GMT -5)
As per usual, I'm a little bit behind on the current events. As most of you have seen, it! Magazine ceased publication on October 15, 2010. Life in a Gun Shell Comic 245 was published on that day, and sadly, for the last time.

I want to thank all of you for your continued support through the nearly 4 years and over 200 comics of publication. Writing these comics and interacting with the it! staff has been some of the most fun I've had.

Is this the end? For Life in a Gun Shell, probably. However, I have been in talks recently with a couple different sources on reviving the comic in another form. The Collegiate Times is interested in picking up the comic as either a daily or weekly strip, though I can't imagine in its current format. I will be working in the mean time with Randy Hubbard on his new comic "Braindump", which will soon be available at

Once again, thank you for your continued support. Please continue to check back and I'll post updates as much as possible.

September 14, 2010 at 11:06 AM EST (GMT -5)
Yet another Uncensored Comic!

August 26, 2010 at 1:34 PM EST (GMT -5)
Good afternoon, everyone. For starters, let me thank you for continuing to come to Despite my being behind on posting the comic, we're still seeing nearly 5,000 unique visitors to the website every month, and even more readership through the "it!" section of the Free Lance-Star.

Life In a Gun Shell is now in its fourth year of internet publication, and is a couple months off from being at that same point in the paper. At one point, two comics hit the internet every week. It was shifted to one a while ago. Now, it is time for another unfortunate shift. From this point on, Life in a Gun Shell will only be published in the Free Lance-Star every other week. It was a decision come to between the editor of the section and I. I will, however, be making an increased effort to update the website with a fresh comic on a weekly basis.

Thank you again for your continued support!

July 19, 2010 at 2:36 PM EST (GMT -5)

June 30, 2010 at 10:37 AM EST (GMT -5)
I didn't think that these were special enough to go in to the "Uncensored" section, but here are two original versions of recently uploaded comics.

June 26, 2010 at 2:34 PM EST (GMT -5)
I hate to contribute to this flame war, but I've got an honest question: How many people here have jumped off of their carrier just because of the iPhone, or some other phone, recently? If you have the choice between carriers, or easily have the ability to switch around, then great. Perhaps this war is more significant for you.

There's only one carrier that works the very well in my area: Verizon. So, that's really the choice I have. I'd love to have an iPhone, but it's just not an options. My choices break down to "Do I want something the size of the Droid X? How about a physical keyboard?"

Maybe I'm underestimating the number of people who have that choice, and have the ability to easily jump between carriers (I'm on a family plan, so switching would either involve everyone moving, or a second plan, both of which are relatively expensive). "Oh this phone isn't nearly as good as the new iPhone! Where's the front camera? Where's the high-res screen?" We aren't fighting the Zune vs. iPod battles anymore. It's not a gaming console war. Sure, there are features that are lacking in the phones, and innovation shouldn't grind to a halt simply because people are tied to a network that has nothing better to offer, but at the end of the day, it's a phone, and the question must be asked: Can it make calls?

But, this is a battle that will keep waging. Maybe once there is a CDMA iPhone, I'll be willing to revisit this argument. Of course, we'll also be debating if it's humane or savage to eat the wings off of pigs.

June 21, 2010 at 12:28 PM EST (GMT -5)
I was at the local Verizon store checking out the Motorola Droid and HTC Incredible. The Incredible is back-ordered by over a month, so I couldn't place an order, but I snapped a couple of blurry size-comparison shots to my current LG Env2 (VX9100).

June 15, 2010 at 2:20 PM EST (GMT -5)

Thanks for the important update!

May 10, 2010 at 6:57 PM EST (GMT -5)
I can possibly be the only one who continues to have this happen to his headphones. Right around here:

the cord has been breaking internally, rendering one hear completely dead. This has happened to, as of today, 4 pairs of headphones.

Anyone else run in to this, or know of a simple solution to either fix or prevent it?

April 21, 2010 at 4:13 AM EST (GMT -5)
I really need to clear the cells before adding to them so I don't end up with awkward scenes like this:

April 13, 2010 at 11:42 AM EST (GMT -5)
In the last couple days, an insane Apple vs. Adobe war has broken out after Apple released the new iPhone/iPad SDK. The updated terms of service that accompany the SDK state that:

Applications may only use Documented APIs in the manner prescribed by Apple and must not use or call any private APIs. Applications must be originally written in Objective-C, C, C++, or JavaScript as executed by the iPhone OS WebKit engine, and only code written in C, C++, and Objective-C may compile and directly link against the Documented APIs (e.g., Applications that link to Documented APIs through an intermediary translation or compatibility layer or tool are prohibited).

Basically, anything that converts from one language to an iPhone compatible language is out. This eliminates multiple different translators, including Unity and, more importantly, Adobe's iPhone compiler in the newly released CS5 (a better summary of the battle can be found on TechCrunch at http).

So, what's next? Adobe just taking blow after blow, complaining on Twitter or starting grass roots campaigns Facebook groups in an attempt to show Apple they're wrong, all the while pushing out more and more products for their OS? That seems to have worked in the past! Look at my Google Voice Application on the iPhone... oh, wait...

One of the primary reasons that Apple is popular is because of their flagship market in design. If the Creative Suite wasn't on OSX, a large percentage of users, including myself, would veer in other directions.

Maybe it's time to show Apple that you're serious, Adobe. They've screwed over huge projects that you've created, turned down your software for the iPad, and shot comments across the bow at your entire lineup. Perhaps it's time to take it nuclear: Remove Photoshop from the Mac.

I don't mean directly break the software with some update, or pull it off machines ala 1984 on the Kindle, but let the world know that the next iteration, CS6, won't be available on OSX. If the trend continues, there will be another two years before we see that on shelves; That's plenty of times for things to relationships to be mended.

In the mean time, Apple has just released their new Macbook line. Don't you think some of the sales would fall to other vendors if designers knew CS6 wasn't coming out on that OS?

This could even benefit the users in the long run. Benchmarks on equivalent machines show that the OSX version tends to perform slower than the Windows version (Edit: Ars Technica has a review showing the opposite for certain tests).

Of course, there are a dozen of other factors that make this argument more complex, but Adobe if tired of being bullied by Apple, perhaps it's time to take more action than complaining. Your move, guys.

April 12, 2010 at 1:49 AM EST (GMT -5)
Taken near midnight on the Drill Field during the April 9-10 Relay for Life:

March 30, 2010 at 11:55 AM EST (GMT -5)
It's day 2 of Radiothon week for 90.7 WUVT-FM! Help contribute and keep the station on the air! Their home page is

As a practicing AM DJ, I'll be helping around the station and performing a show. We'll be surfing through different stand up artists from 4AM-7AM tomorrow (Wednesday, March 31). You can join us and listen live here!

March 23, 2010 at 7:51 PM EST (GMT -5)
I was listening to the most recent episode of "This Week In Google", featuring Leo Laporte, Jeff Jarvis, and Gina Trapani. For those who aren't familiar with the show, the discussion, usually led by Leo, revolves around news for the week in the field of cloud computing. There was a lot of talk this week about the upcoming Internet Explorer 9. They talked about Internet Explorer 6, and Microsoft's need to force people to upgrade. Mention was made to Microsoft's difficulty of having to keep local computers up to date, while Google only had to keep their servers up to date (automatically updating every user). Someone mentioned that Google's Android operating system was subject to the same problem as Internet Explorer, where devices are still being sold containing Android 1.6, with the Nexas One using 2.1.

However, there was a point they didn't discuss: Google's Chrome web browser. I pose a question to all Chrome users: Have you ever seen your browser update? I for one never have, and I started using it as soon as it was announced in December of 2008. My computer is currently running version Since the first install, I have seen huge features added without any prompt, or without ever running Windows Update. They have, effectively, perfected the silent update.

Could this be a solution for Microsoft? Could operate in the way Chrome does, running a scheduled process occasionally to update the rendering engine or to grab bug fixes?

The pros to a solution like this have already been outlined; You never inconvenience the user when they need the browser the most, they're never faced with an update screen, and they're never.

On the opposite side, you have no choice. Firefox and Internet Explorer both make updates very clear to the user. I have once, recently, run in to a problem with Chrome that caused it to crash on a site I frequent. I'm uncertain if it's was a problem with the browser itself, or with some other conflicting program I had installed, but it effectively stopped me from using the browser for a week.

Could it be time for Microsoft to change their model?

Note for full disclosure: I regularly run Internet Explorer 6/7/8 (XP/7), Firefox 3.6 (XP/7/10.6), Chrome (XP/7/10.6), and Safari (10.6). I have Opera 10.51 installed on OSX 10.6, but don't feel I have enough experience with it to reference it in this article.

March 23, 2010 at 3:17 AM EST (GMT -5)
I thought I'd share some pre-release material from an upcoming comic:

The making of the bear.

March 17, 2010 at 5:02 PM EST (GMT -5)
Check out the new site over at! (Or, if you're already reading this from over there, thanks for checking it out!)

February 12, 2010 at 5:33 PM EST (GMT -5)
Today marks the 150th comic published in the Free Lance-Star! Thank you guys so much for your continued support, love, and humor.

Keep it real!

January 27, 2010 at 12:34 AM EST (GMT -5)
(I simply tagged people from whom I've received a spam notification from recently or who could shed some insight in to the issue. If you feel as though you were wrongly tagged, please untag yourself.)

It seems like there?s been a sudden spike in spam notifications showing up in my inbox recently. So, here?s how to tell if an app notification is spam.

Oh, hey! C commented on my photo!


Facebook will NEVER require your permission to view a standard post on your news feed or photos. Here are some other signs:

One more fake one:

I hope this helps everyone! Keep these in mind, and help keep Facebook clean!

January 17, 2010 at 6:03 PM EST (GMT -5)
For those who haven't been baraged by posts, check out the week-long CES blog produced by myself and my father over at:

Also, be sure to check out the new it! web site:

January 8, 2010 at 2:37 AM EST (GMT -5)
We came in through Dulles international airport with relatively few problems. Security didn't seem to be much heavier than previous flights. We took South West out on a 4 PM flight, with a landing at 6:50. Luggage pickup was quick. The shuttle from the airport, for which we were charged nearly $20, took around 45 minutes, as it dropped people off at every hotel on the strip. I highly recommend, if you are traveling with more than one person, that you take a cab.
Check in time at Treasure Island was horrendous. With about 30 people in front of us in line, and only 3 people working the desk, it took about 45 minutes.
More coverage will come about the opening day of the expo soon!

January 8, 2010 at 1:16 AM EST (GMT -5)
In the interest of transparency, this is just a personal list for my loadout. Dad may chose to release his later on (primarily, the list of items used to animate the nightly CES cartoons).


Macbook Pro
- 2009 Unibody Model
- 15" Display
- OSX 10.6 and Windows 7 Enterprise dual boot
- Intel Core 2 Duo @ 2.66 Ghz
- 320 GB Hard Drive

Fujitsu U810
- 5.5" Display
- Windows XP Tablet Edition
- Intel Atom @ 800 Mhz
- 60 GB hard drive

Digital Media Players/Recorders:

Sansa Fuse 4GB Player/Recorder

Camera Equipment:

Nikon D80 12 Megapixel Digital Camera
- 50mm f/1.8
- 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6
- 50-200mm f/4-5.6 VR

Fujitsu FinePix F30 6 Megapixel point-and-shoot digital camera
- 640x480 Movie Recording

December 21, 2009 at 12:14 AM EST (GMT -5)
I just finished updating the SK Lightworks program to include some more features. There are now more patterns for the LEDs and more options for the fog. Check out the video:

SK Lightworks
Download .Net 3.5 Redist
Download XNA 3.0 Redist

December 20, 2009 at 12:34 AM EST (GMT -5)
There wasn't any truly simple program that allowed the Rock Band Stage Kit to be used stand-alone or to be hooked up to a computer. So, I wrote one.

I started playing around with this API and wrote a quick program to do just that. This is the first thing I've ever coded in C#, so please report any bugs you run in to. It's fairly basic (and ugly... I'll change it away from the standard VS style later on), but it will easily let you control the strobe and fog box. It also has really basic circular patterns coded in for the LEDs. I plan on adding more functionality as I have time.

As of right now, there is only control over a Stage Kit set as player 1. I've only been able to test it on my desktop, running a Core 2 Quad and Windows 7 Enterprise.

Download Links:

Download SK_Lightworks 1.0

I haven't tested it outside of Windows 7 which already had these installed, but if you need them:

Download .Net 3.5 Redist

Download XNA 3.0 Redist

Known problems:
- The LEDs won't stop instantly when you hit any of the kill buttons. They wait until the end of the cycle.
- The program randomly takes up large amounts of the CPU. I'm pretty sure I fixed this, so let me know if it occurs.

Future plans:
- Add support for more than one Stage Kit.
- Add additional light patterns.

I plan on releasing the source later on once I can clean it up. Enjoy! :)

December 9, 2009 at 8:37 AM EST (GMT -5)
I didn't write this. I don't support it. Posted for your enjoyment.

November 9, 2009 at 9:57 AM EST (GMT -5)
Removing the Suggestions box

  1. Download the Greasemonkey plugin for Firefox (

  2. Reboot Firefox

  3. Navigate to

  4. Hit the giant "install" button, and you?re ready to go!

To disable it, while on the front page of Facebook page, click on the monkey icon in the lower right hand corner. Click on the "Remove Suggestions" option to uncheck it. Refresh the page, and you?re set!

Dislike button

Groups for this have been popping up EVERYWHERE. There?s a Firefox plugin that will allow it:
Simply click the "Let me install this experimental add-on" checkbox, click install, and reboot Firefox.

I still think there needs to be a script to let me double-like statuses... but, anyway, until I can figure out how to pull a 1984 and double plus like your triple plus good status, have a good week!

November 4, 2009 at 9:43 AM EST (GMT -5)
Download Guide:

It seems like very few students actually know about this, so I figured I should put some sort of guide together.

First, navigate here:

Punch in the required info. The new password you create must be at least 7 characters long and contain 1 uppercase, 1 lowercase, and 1 special character/number. Sometimes you?ll have to fill this out two or three times, as it fails to send for no explainable reason.

Once completed, navigate to:

Click on ?Click to agree and login?, using your new password.

Once inside, you?ll see a long list of software. Click on Windows 7. The file you want to download is en_windows_7_professional_x86_dvd_x15-65804.iso (the second one). You can also click here to start the download. We?ll go and get your serial number while this downloads.

Now, navigate to here:

Click on the second link (?Windows 7 Professional (x86) - DVD (English)?). Click on the ?Add to cart? button. Since the site doesn?t initially recognize you as being logged in, you?ll need to return to the above link and repeat these steps.

Click on the ?Check Out? button when you are viewing your shopping cart. Don?t worry, you won?t be asked for any payment information. Once you?ve completed checkout, you?ll be sent to a download page. You don?t need to download the file a second time, but your serial number is located on this page.

When your *.ISO file has finished downloading, you?ll need to burn it to a disk. Nearly every computer is equipped with a DVD burner these days, but you?ll need software to burn the file. I recommend ImgBurn (

If you have any other questions regarding this process, I?d be happy to help.

Windows 7 Impression and ?Should I upgrade??:

If you?ve purchased a computer in the last couple years, chances are you?re running Vista. If so, absolutely upgrade.

If you?re running Windows XP, and have a stable system, then it may be more advantageous to stick with what you?ve got. Unless there are particular features you?re looking for, chances are the process of backing up your data and upgrading are going to be too much of a hassle. Furthermore, if you have been tracking it long enough to know of something in it you want, you?ve already upgraded.

For Tablet PC users (most of Tech students), 7 brings huge advantages to touch technology and handwriting recognition. I?ve been running it on my Toshiba M700, on which I used to hate the touch feature, and now it?s something I can?t go without.

If you plan on upgrading, but have doubts about compatibility (mainly people making the XP to 7 jump), download a copy of Microsoft?s Upgrade Advisor from here.

Again, feel free to contact me with any questions.

October 13, 2009 at 2:51 AM EST (GMT -5)
Really, it seems to be a pretty standard color: []
You'll see it's use in this weeks comic.

Also, I'll probably release some web exclusive content either today or tomorrow between interviews for IBM. Keep checking the uncensored section!

October 8, 2009 at 12:58 AM EST (GMT -5)
I've set up a new system to easily post on both Life In A Gun Shell and AJAMA at the same time. Hopefully this means I can post more. For starters, here's a demo that Picasa's face recognition still picks up some pretty random things:

July 28, 2009 at 11:39 AM EST (GMT -5)
Check out today's Gizmodo article and see the award winning cable closet (#10).

I had originally planned on announcing a new podcast today, but sadly, all of the pieces didn't come together. We may make an attempt at another one, but I can't say anything about it right now.

July 15, 2009 at 3:37 PM EST (GMT -5)
Thanks to Google's API, comments have been enabled for every section of comics on the site! I'll also be posting a couple new comics tonight, especially in the Uncensored section.

Also, be ready for a big announcement later this week!

July 10, 2009 at 09:40 AM EST (GMT -5)
I decided to change the main page of the site to push updates to everyone faster.

Also, since Twitter seems to be the drug of our era, feel free to follow mine:

I've updated the "About Me" section with some other popular pages you can visit me on.

May 20, 2009 at 04:32 PM EST (GMT -5)
Welcome to the new Life in a Gun Shell home page! Here are some things you should know as you begin navigating around:

  • The current comics published in it! Magazine with the Free Lance-Star are listed under the "Current Comic" section.
  • The "Uncensored Archive" has two sections: Original Comics and New Material. New Material are things that were either too crude, geeky, or generally weird to publish in the paper. The Original Comics are the set that was initially released on
  • The original comics will be slowly ported over from the old template style to the newer, bolder comic box format. Some relinking may take place, but not until the entire archive is converted. I'll post something here.

Enjoy the new web site!!


Currently displaying all on one page

You can click here for the Tumblr mirror of this blog!


(c) Copyright 2004-2009 Andrew Mussey.
Contact us at Admin [AT] ajama [DOT] org.