Saturday, August 30, 2008

More Guitar Hero

So after playing Guitar Hero 3 to death, I went out and got Guitar Hero 2, just to have some more songs to play. Since I'm totally not following the order of the games' release at all, here are some of the first few things I noticed about Guitar Hero 2:
  • The timing window for hitting a note is a lot smaller
  • Hammeron/Pulloff (HO/PO) notes are harder to distinguish from their strumming-required counterparts
  • The HO/PO window is also a lot smaller, which lead to me not trusting most of them and strumming them instead of going for the HO/PO and losing my combo
  • Activating Star Power while tapping HO/PO = lost combo every time
  • Prices for things in the store are actually reasonable
Also, it appears as though Neversoft decided that GH3 should give less skilled players a break and allow them to get money for playing on Easy, and actually be able to play through the entire setlist on Easy. I went through Easy and Medium just to 5-star everything, since completing both difficulties and 5-starring all songs on them still gives you a guitar for each accomplishment (though "gives" isn't a good word, you still have to actually pay for it, it just unlocks the ability to buy the guitar).

Thankfully I'd played GH2 a bit before, so I knew how horrible of a song Yes We Can is, and purposefully left it locked.

There's an odd bug with one of the unlockable characters, The Grim Ripper. The only guitar available to use with him is the Scythe, but if you go into career mode it defaults to a Gibson guitar instead, and you have to hit "Change Guitar" to get the scythe back. Saving the game with it set doesn't fix this either.

As for the songs, well, I'm enjoying them, though I do have one complaint: Whoever they got to sing the cover of Sweet Child O' Mine sounds absolutely nothing like Axl Rose. It's horrible. Such a bad way to ruin what's otherwise a great song. To be fair, their cover singers have hardly ever been good, in particular, the one for Blue Oyster Cult's Godzilla and the one for Queen's Killer Queen were especially bad. Those songs were in other Guitar Hero games entirely, but I've played them thanks to the internet and Frets on Fire.

I've noticed that a couple of songs I enjoy playing a lot more on Hard than Expert. Trogdor is actually manageable on Hard instead of being the alt-strumming festival it is on Expert, I can keep an x4 multiplier up until the 17 note per second part at the end of the solo and usually hit the star power holds at the end of it. Thunderhorse is just plain fun on Hard, and has a lot of random bullshit grace notes and fiddly bits on Expert, as well as a section of serious alt-strumming that I have yet to get to more than an x2 multiplier on. Sweet Child O' Mine is virtually identical on both Hard and Expert, and it's a tradeoff: Expert has fewer random strums in the middle of HO/POs, but Hard has fewer bullshit fiddly bits and a solo intro I can actually tap.

As in GH3, there is a place I got hung up and was unable to progress any further in Career Mode. Except this time I actually beat Hard (fuck you, Raining Blood! Mosh 1 is such overcharted bullshit!), and I don't have the stamina it takes to play that fucking repetitive section of Freya on Expert. The section that goes G O (YB) (pause) (repeat) followed by a section of G (RB) (YB) (pause) (repeat). Even with star power I haven't managed to make it through that yet.

I haven't even touched co-op. My Kramer's detachable neck is acting up again, currently debating whether to reapply solder and have to do it again in a month or two, or to get some Torx bits (the Kramer takes a T10), a wire cutter/stripper, and some electrical tape and just fucking hardwire the thing.

Also, just for good measure, I full comboed Heart-Shaped Box on Expert. Easy song is easy. My score would have tied for 4958th place on ScoreHero had I actually submitted it. lol.

Friday, August 29, 2008

The party has started

UVa's Comics and Animation club, better known to its members as CAINE, had its first meeting last night. Turnout was awesome, given that it rained all the night before and all day Thursday, thus preventing us (or any other club, for that matter) from going around placing chalk ads on sidewalks. If we keep even 25% of the brand new people that showed up, it'll be a success.

We had what we thought was a good idea: have a pre-meeting for all the veterans (or as our danchou put it, "oldtypes" (he likes Gundam. A lot.)) so we could get all of the "OMG KANOKON" and random 4chan shit out of our respective systems before the meeting. What it instead did was just rile us up, so the first few minutes of the actual meeting were rough but we ended up calming down.

The reason for that was this year's goal: not to have someone ask "are you guys all /b/tards?" in the first 5 minutes of the first meeting, and to not have hentai mentioned or shown. I think in that respect it worked pretty well, though L had to go and shout "Kamina dies!" when we were talking about Tengen Toppa Gurren-Lagann. He somehow stopped himself from delivering Death Note spoilers though.

Overall, looks like it's going to be a good year for CAINE. We got many dues-paying members, and sold a bunch of our brand new t-shirts.

As a followup to my previous post, I got a new earpiece for my glasses. So now neither of my earpieces actually match the frames. I don't care, I can see and my glasses aren't uncomfortable, that's all that matters.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

My glasses broke :(

I've already had the left earpiece and both nose pads replaced, and now the right earpiece breaks. I'm going to go to the optometrist later on today to get a new one. But for now I have the earpiece taped back on. I feel so stereotypical.

Also, I should probably look into getting new frames and updating my prescription so those new frames will be useful. They keep telling me after eye exams "Your vision has gotten a little worse, but not enough for a new prescription." I figure if that's cumulative, I need a new prescription by now. The only problem with that is I have a hard time finding a pair of frames in the range designated "Men's" that isn't extremely effeminate. Honestly, what do the people making those things think, that all men are gay? Seriously.

Nothing against gay people, but still, I don't want frames with designs and bullshit. Just some metal to go over my ears with shitty rubber-ish plastic nosepads and some screws to hold the lenses in so I can see. Also if you could make a pair of frames whose earpieces won't break off after a few years' use, that would be awesome. You charge $100-$150 for about $0.05 worth of metal, the least you could do is make it durable.

Even with my shitty scotch tape fix, these glasses don't feel right anymore. The right lens is way too close to my face, and likewise, the left lens is too far away. Through some miracle of image processing on the part of my brain, I can still see, but... My ears feel weird.

Also if some company could make some contact lenses that let enough oxygen through to my eyes that I can wear them, that would be fucking sweet. At first I had regular soft lenses. For five years. Then suddenly one day they started making my eyes red and itchy as soon as I put them in. So I went to the eye doctor and he set me up with these 30 day disposable lenses that are thinner and let more oxygen through. Those worked great for another couple of years and then started doing the same thing. On the few occasions that we actually wear armor when sparring in kendo, I'd like to be able to see through the damn mask. My focal point without glasses is about three inches in front of my eyes, and the mask is pretty much all I can see.

And I'm too poor for laser surgery.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Things I hate about food and the people that prepare or eat it

I was going to post this on /ck/, but it's basically just an itemized rant, so at the last minute I decided to post it here instead. I also took the opportunity to flesh it out a lot more, with reasoning and shit (everything in each paragraph after the colon), just so it didn't appear to be blind hate.

Nuts in brownies: Imagine the following situation. You're at a party where there's food, and you see some brownies. Awesome, right? So, you take a couple. Upon biting in, everything's fin-*CRUNCH*what the hell? Some wiseass put nuts in these brownies! Interrupting the perfectly soft and enjoyable texture of a brownie with nuts is inexcusable.

Orange peel in brownies: I had these once, I was unsuspecting, it tasted horrible.

Sugar in cornbread: This is a southern thing, but it doesn't excuse how much it ruins the taste of cornbread.

Nuts in salad: Only a nut would put nuts in salad.

Salads consisting of 90% lettuce: Seriously. Needs moar variety. Salad is not about lettuce. Salad is about enjoying the few enjoyable vegetables out there mixed together, with some shredded cheese and vinaigrette dressing.

Sugar in whole grain bread: Suspecting here that the companies that do this think they have to compensate for the "sin" of making their bread whole grain, like they think it tastes worse and they think they need to "cover it up" with sugar or something. Also in general whole grain needs to be the default. It tastes awesome and it's good for you, so it's win-win. If you want to complain, do so by slitting your wrists. It's down the road, not across the street.

Dumbfucks putting mayo on my hamburger: I maintain the stance that mayonnaise is a tasteless, purposeless substance that delivers nothing but extra fat and cholesterol. The fact that I have to specify "no mayo" with every fucking hamburger I order pisses me off. And can I get that on a whole grain bun?

Dumbfucks assuming I want mayo on a BLT: Let's look at a BLT. Bacon. Can't go wrong there. Lettuce. Okay, whatever. Tomato. It's either there to soak up the gratuitous amount of salt that some fucker put on the bacon, or for taste. Slap that between two slices of bread (whole grain, please!) and it's awesome. Where in there do you see mayo? WHERE? I didn't order a BLTM, just a BLT. If I'm ever delusional enough to say I want mayo, punch me.

Croissants that taste like oranges: I had one of these in Indiana somewhere, I think that's how they do it there. I don't care, it tasted horrible.

People that call soda "pop", or worse, "soda pop" or "coke": GTFO.

That noise some female characters make in anime while eating: is incredibly cute. Keep doing it, Japan.

Blue Cheese: You're eating mold. Just so you know.

People who claim to like spicy buffalo wings but dip them in ranch/blue cheese dressing before eating them: You can't actually stand the spice level of the sauce you ordered. It's not killing you because the fat/oil in the dressing is diluting the capsaicin in the sauce. Order a lower level and build up your tolerance. The dressing is there for the celery.

Yellow mustard: I'll admit, it's not tasteless, it's just that Dijon mustard is so much better.

High Fructose Corn Syrup: This is the ingredient that's responsible for 99% of all soda tasting like water. Seriously. Drink something sweetened with real sugar (Jones Soda, or the Coca-Cola with the yellow cap and Hebrew that's in stores around Passover, for example) and you'll notice the difference immediately.

99% of all mass-market chips, whether corn or potato: Seriously, lose the salt. It's not good for anyone to have that much salt. Ever.

Imagery on food packaging: The finished result never looks like it does on the package. Stop the false advertising.

People that light charcoal with lighter fluid: Chimney starters are cheap, effective, and don't cause the burning charcoal to emit fumes that permeate the meat and fuck with its taste. How does it work? The magical principle that heat (and heat sources, such as fire) rises. The best thing about a chimney starter? It'll last a LOT longer than a can of lighter fluid, so you'll save a lot of money. You'll most likely only ever need one chimney starter, unless you got a shitty one.

People that use gas grills: Everything you've ever grilled has tasted like propane. No exceptions.

People that put vegetables on pizza: Aside from the tomato sauce, mushrooms, black olives, peppers of all varieties (green/red/banana/jalapeƱos/others), and pineapple, the only things that belong on pizza are meat or cheese. Period. End of story.

Vegans: Oh get a fucking life. Animals die anyway, they might as well die in a manner that's tasty or otherwise useful for us (food, clothing, etc.). We're at the top of the food chain, not the bottom. We're omnivores, not herbivores. Your constant habit of eating all the plants is easily contributing to global warming, as there are fewer plants to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. And the fact of the matter is, Vitamin B12, a necessary nutrient, is only usable by the human body when taken from animal protein. Which means as a vegan, B12 counts as an animal product and you can't consume it. Die moar.

Restaurants that allow you to order meat cooked medium but cook it well done anyway: News flash: Medium is defined as "some pink in the middle". Not "uniformly grey and tasteless".

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Wallpaper update

I've decided to post new wallpapers here as I add them to my Picasa account. So, let's get this party started.

Edit: Forgot to mention that, if you're browsing through my account and see a wallpaper with a character not mentioned in its tags, let me know. This will only be the case if I either don't know the character's name or forgot it, though occasional slip-ups do happen. Tell me their name just to be on the safe side. The only exception used to be a certain Negima wallpaper containing all 31 of the students, but I went through and tagged them. So, yeah.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

I've got the master plan

I will, at some point, turn my already-warranty-voided Guitar Hero controller into the ultimate Guitar Hero controller.

(I'm pretty sure the solder fix voids the warranty, even though my warranty sticker is still intact. That point is actually moot because I've owned the controller longer than 60 days, and that's the length of the warranty.)

Step 1: Learn how to solder. Shouldn't be that hard, I've done it before (many, many years ago, one of those stupid "put it together yourself" phone kits) and my dad's an electrical engineer.

Step 2: Hardwire the neck of my controller to the body, removing the flaky connections entirely. This has the side effect of making the neck non-detachable. Boo fucking hoo. Maybe do something to the neck to prevent errant/mischievous detach attempts from fucking it up. The neck has two screws at the very end and I'll want to maintain their accessibility for further modding of the neck if I decide to do that.

Step 3: Make a star power pedal out of a cheap effects pedal and rig it up to the select button in the controller. Preferably rig it up with an 1/8" stereo jack/plug so it can be unplugged. Will need a cable long enough that it won't become unplugged while rocking out, a 5' cable should be plenty.

Step 4: See if I can't remove the tilt sensor and short the necessary parts of the circuit to make it think it's still attached, so the only way to trigger star power will be via select/my pedal.

Step 5: File off the damn ridge on the yellow fret button so my fingers won't wear out after a while.

Step 6: See if I can't somehow reduce the xbox hueg dead zone on the whammy bar. On the calibration screen it says it's in its resting position until I've pushed it down over halfway, which is fucking ridiculous. I'd like to be able to whammy short holds, dammit.

Step 7: Once I'm happy with all of that, get another Wireless Kramer controller and do the same stuff to it so I have two.

Most of this is surprisingly enough already documented somewhat well within the community. Everyone and their bastard son has had trouble with the detachable necks, and there's plenty of imaginative and enterprising GH players out there to take pictures and write up mod how-tos. I'll see if I can't take pictures as I go along and document the whole process as well.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Drunkenness is good

I went out bowling with some friends earlier tonight. Didn't do that well, but managed to break 100 on a round. Anyway. On my way home, I stopped by the store and picked up a 6 pack of Smirnoff Ice Raspberry Burst, which I finished off fairly quickly.

Smirnoff has this thing going with codes under their caps, so I figured I'd go ahead and enter them and see what I got.

I ended up with two of the three codes I entered getting me download codes for music from Apparently they only let you enter in three codes a day or I would have entered the other three. Anyway.

Turns out is getting digital distribution right. No DRM. This means that, unlike other similar services like Rhapsody, if you cancel your subscription, you can still listen to the music you've legally obtained. Unfortunately, the only available format is MP3, but they'll learn sooner or later. I redeemed my codes, and had a look through their library to see which two songs I'd download.

Upon registering an account, they'll try to get you to download their software. They assert the claim that it's free of spyware, and even have Mac OS X and Linux versions (wow, Linux support, I'm amazed). In small text next to the download links they mention that the software is completely optional and that their service can still be used without it, albeit less conveniently: you won't be able to download an entire album with one click. Since I was only there for two tracks, I declined to install it.

After much debate, I ended up downloading Clarence Carter's Strokin' (the Long and Dirty version, for those who care), and Wesley Willis' Fuck You, which was the only one of the Wesley Willis tracks they had whose preview I immediately laughed at upon hearing, probably due to drunken amusement more than anything else. Sadly, they don't have The Bloodhound Gang's A Lap Dance Is So Much Better When The Stripper Is Crying or I would have downloaded that instead.

Most of's service is a monthly fee-based service, but my small preview let me see how nice it was. Tomorrow I'll redeem these other three caps and see if I can't get any more downloads.

The verdict: A step in the right direction. Now to get legal Ogg Vorbis and FLAC downloads...

Friday edit: The other three caps gave me three more download codes. Now to figure out what I want...

Much later edit: emusic's glaring problem is that their library is almost devoid of anything mainstream.