Saturday, February 28, 2009

My Firefox Setup

In case you cared. I also typed up a bit about each extension, sometimes even including why I use it. Go me.

Theme: RedShift v3 - I like black/red color schemes (as you might be able to tell), and this one is awesome.

4chan - Adds various controls to the boards and threads on 4chan such as quick reply, thread collapsing, and a thread watcher.

AdBlock Plus - I kinda liked the original better, but it seems to have died off while the inferior AdBlock Plus lives on. I had a custom filter list that totally annihilated ads without false positives in the original. Constructed by manually blocking each one as I came across it. A slight difference between the original and Plus is that the original could be configured to prevent the browser from going to sites in the list, even if they were entered in the location bar. That feature is strangely absent from AdBlock Plus. Which leads me to the next extension in the list...

BlockSite - Expressly created to provide the site blocking functionality that the original AdBlock had that's gone in AdBlock Plus. I use it to block DownloadHelper's page it loads after an extension update, and mIRC's nag-you-to-register web pages (both of them).

BugMeNot - Ever wanted to read an article on or and gotten that annoying "you must register a free account to view our content" bullshit? exists to counteract that. It's a community-collaborative effort. People register dummy accounts using fake information and submit those accounts to BugMeNot, which you can then use by going to their site. This extension just streamlines the process, enabling you to log in by right clicking and saying "Log in with BugMeNot". Also works wonders with IMDb.

Custom Download Manager - I would much rather be using Download Manager Tweak, as it has more features and less bugs, but it hasn't been updated for Firefox 3. This extension allows me to open Firefox's download manager in the sidebar (or in a tab), and hide that annoying thing that pops up in the lower corner of the screen telling you that a download finished. LOL NEVER MIND I'M AN IDIOT

DOM Inspector - Allows you to view the document object model of a web page, or even that of a Firefox window itself. Pretty handy for a web designer. I use it a lot in making styles for Stylish.

DownloadHelper - Allows downloading videos from flash video sites like YouTube.

Download Manager Tweak - Customizes the download manager, allowing you to open it in a window, tab, or in the sidebar. All the other download management extensions are crap compared to this. I'm looking at you, Download Statusbar. (I used Download Statusbar for a while during the tense period between updating to Firefox 2 and waiting for Download Manager Tweak to be updated for it)

Fast Dial - Visual bookmarking. Whenever you open up a new tab, it shows bookmarks you've configured it to show, complete with either a thumbnail of the website or a logo you've told it to use for that bookmark.

FireFTP - Firefox does have a built-in FTP client, but it only lets you download. This is a full-featured graphical FTP client that you can open in a tab or a separate window. It will store authentication information so all you have to do is select the server you want to connect to and hit Connect.

GMail Notifier - Tells you when your GMail accounts have new email. Supports multiple accounts. Clicking it will open up GMail and let you get right to reading your new mail.

NoScript - Javascript does some nice things, but it does a lot more really bad things. This blocks Javascript (and other things like Flash, Java applets, etc.) by default and lets you build a whitelist of sites you'd like to allow to use these things. The description of this one in the Addons dialog is xbox hueg, but you can edit it down in about:config (type extensions in the filter box, scroll all the way down, it should be obvious from the values which one to edit). Mine says "Blocks scripts and shit." Much better.

Not4chan Extension - Created for use on not4chan, but works on 4chan and a couple other *chans. Makes mass-downloading the images in a thread easy. The site says it hasn't been tested in Firefox 3, but I can verify that it works. I'm actually using an old version (1.13) that I hacked to change the maximum version of Firefox it would install on. XPI files are just ZIP files renamed. Whee.

Screengrab! - Takes screenshots of web pages. It will do just the visible portion, the entire page, or an area you select. It'll save it to your hard drive or copy it to the clipboard so you can paste it into photoshop or whatever.

Smart Stop/Reload - Merges the Stop and Reload buttons into a single button. It makes sense, since you only ever really need to do one or the other at any given time.

STOP! Hammertime! - Whenever you hit Stop (or its keyboard shortcut, Escape), this plays the sound clip its name comes from. Lawyers are trying to make this extension disappear. Isn't it sad that they've got their panties in a bunch over a two second long sound clip?

Stylish - Modifies the look of websites by allowing you to specify custom CSS to use when that site is loaded. Can also modify elements of Firefox itself, since that also is defined via CSS. I've used it for a number of reasons, both on websites and on Firefox itself.

Tab Mix Plus - I thought that this might have been obsoleted by Firefox including a session manager as a standard feature beginning with Firefox 2, but it offers so much more that it's still good to keep around. Of all its features I primarily use the Closed Tabs List toolbar button and the tab bar New Tab button. I also have it set up to hide the tab bar close button and the all tabs list dropdown (which is accessible via Ctrl + Tab) and only ever show a close button on a tab when that tab is being moused over.

Now you know.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Finally fucking beat Nightfall.

Guild Wars story spoilers for all campaigns abound and un-spoiler-tagged.

Here's me dancing behind the portal in the Throne of Secrets, the special area you get taken to after beating Nightfall. I was trying to wait for the credits to end, but got impatient. Normally when you walk through a portal you go somewhere, but here, you have to talk to the NPC standing directly in front of it (the one I have targeted). Weird.

Holy crap that took forever.

And yes, that's the best picture I have.

Everything was fine up until the Realm of Torment, where my computer suddenly decided to shit itself every 10 seconds. I could only fix this by turning the graphics down all the way. I pressed on and hit a brick wall at Gate of Madness, the penultimate mission.

Why the brick wall there? Well, to beat the mission, you have to fight the end boss from Guild Wars Prophecies and the end boss from Guild Wars Factions. Simultaneously. The Lich is a pansy compared to Shiro, his skill set is slightly different from the end of Prophecies and he doesn't have the annoying requirement to be killed on the center of the bloodstone or he respawns with full health. I can easily take him down while Shiro beats on random heroes or henchmen. Shiro doesn't have a couple of the skills he had in the end of Factions but overall is a much bigger threat than the Lich.

The best time to do the bonus (capturing the gods' shrines) is actually between killing the Lich and killing Shiro. You just run around the end area of the mission, killing random Margonite groups and capturing the shrines they're guarding, with Shiro in tow and beating on you the entire time. He's not really that much of a threat until you engage him directly.

Engaging him directly is where I ran into the brick wall. He has these two stances, one gives his attacks life stealing equal to the highest damage he takes while it's active and the other makes him teleport around like crazy whenever he's hit. The latter isn't actually all that hard to deal with. The former is a bitch and a half, and on top of that, has a slight nuance. I decided to use Triple Shot (bow attack, shoots three arrows at the same time with a slight damage penalty per arrow, overall it amplifies damage) on him while he had it active, and discovered that now his attacks had three separate life stealing amounts. Party wipe, I decide to give it a break.

So yesterday morning I did it again (my patented technique of putting it down for a while and then picking it up again) and made one slight change: My two warrior heroes had been using two completely different builds, one adrenaline-based, the other energy-based and containing the all-important attack Wild Blow, which ends the target's stance when it hits. I basically just swapped out the adrenaline build for the energy build, had double the Wild Blows, and steamrolled Shiro.

And that was just the next to last mission. I still had the Nightfall campaign's end boss, Abaddon, left to defeat. There's a lot of story, but basically Abaddon is a god who was confined to the Realm of Torment by the other five gods. He's trying to break out and wreak havoc, and you're there to stop him. After getting served by him just to get that out of my system, I wiped once and then wiped the floor with him. He's actually pretty challenging, being invulnerable until you kill some stuff to chain him down so you can wail on him for a little bit, then he breaks free of the chains and the process repeats. He's also attacking you the entire time, though most of his attacks are negligible in the long run. I had a harder time with Gate of Madness, to be honest.

So yay I finally have Hard Mode unlocked in Nightfall and can do Sunspear/Lightbringer point farming so I can max out those titles.

I love my party build that I used in the last two areas of the game, the Desolation and the Realm of Torment. It's fairly straightforward, but it works wonders. It all revolves around the hero necromancer spamming Order of Pain on the entire party, which only lasts 5 seconds but adds armor-ignoring damage to any physical damage attack. The rest of the party was just themed around that, dealing physical damage, and using attacks and skills that add on extra bonus damage, since bonus damage ignores armor. This party really cranks out the damage, and I like that.

I'm too lazy to link all the Guild Wars terminology I used, but you can look it all up on GuildWiki.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

"Alcopops"? Seriously?

Relevant link: Bill Would Make 'Alcopops' Less Available (go here if it bugs you to log in)

So I gave today's Washington Post my usual glance to see if anything would catch my eye besides the comics. Lo and behold, I saw a small blurb on the front page of the Metro section talking about fruit-flavored malt beverages and how they're trying to limit their sale or some bullshit.

They call them "Alcopops". I'm not making this up. I couldn't come up with anything half as stupid if I tried. When you make up a diminishing name for them like that, it's going to be pretty easy to get whatever legislation you want passed in regards to them. That name (made up by opponents of the drinks!) does more of a job of making it look like they're marketing towards underage people than any of the actual official marketing does.

Basically, they contend that somehow these fruit-flavored malt beverages are contributing to drunk driving and underage drinking. You know, moreso than all the other fucking alcoholic beverages out there. They say that "Alcopops are not beer" and therefore they need a higher tax and can't be sold in places only licensed to sell beer, meaning that right away the only place we'd be able to buy these things is at an ABC store. The only times I want to go to an ABC store are when I need more whiskey, rum, or vodka. Because a 5.5% alcohol by volume malt beverage is so on par with something that's been distilled to be 40% or higher.

They're actually right about the "they're not beer" thing, though. From a technical standpoint, they're not beer. However, they're similar enough in alcohol content (fucking weak) and form factor (bottles, sold in six packs) that they should be treated the same.

What this boils down to in my eyes is the government trying to take parental responsibility into its own hands. If parents would be vigilant about preventing their kids from drinking, preventing them from hanging out with the people who supply them with alcohol, and teach them about the dangers of drunk driving with an emphasis on "DON'T DO IT OR YOU'RE FUCKING RETARDED" (okay, maybe a little sugarcoating on that), we wouldn't have this problem. We don't need laws to do what parents should have already been doing.

It's true that this is happening in Maryland and that it doesn't affect me since I live in Virginia, but if it passes, it will set a legal precedent and other laws like it in other states are sure to follow. I'm not a lawyer (lol disclaimer), but being the offspring of an electrical engineer (with two patents) and a computer science major, I can think logically.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

FCs waiting to happen

This is all GH3.

The entire first two sets (random fuckups)
When You Were Young (random fuckups)
Lay Down (Haven't gotten close to the random -1 run I had a while back)
Paint It Black (several stupid -3s in a row)
My Name Is Jonas (I've FCed it in training mode several times now, just haven't gotten around to doing an actual run)
Helicopter (I've FCed Get to the Choppa! (that's right, no overstrums!) and only messed up Get to the Choppa! 2 because of going for SP and I suck at using select to activate SP while alt-strumming)
Go That Far (the blue/green altstrumming is easy to overstrum on, I've FCed the solo in training mode)
Hier Kommt Alex (random drops in the Chugging Riffs, and I drop that pesky red+blue chord at the end of the main chorus riff sometimes)
Metal Heavy Lady (the solo activation completely mystifies me, it's supposed to be pre-tilt but my guitar doesn't activate it fast enough even though I have no trouble with pre-tilt activations elsewhere (Generation Rock, My Name Is Jonas, Cities on Flame with Rock and Roll))

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Yet another Generation Rock FC...

Generation Rock is a really easy song. Really easy. I FC it for warmup every time I start up GH3. By the end of the song my strumming arm is ready to go since I downstrum the entire song. Ho hum, another FC, right?

However, two new things happened. First and foremost, I finally broke 280k. Second, I got the run on video. I don't know how long it'll be up, since Warner Music Group has their panties in a bunch about people posting Guitar Hero/Rock Band videos on YouTube (lol fair use what?), but for the time being, it's up.

I'm too lazy to copy the embed code, so here's a link to the video. I added annotations for the lulz. I ganked my dad's webcam and used it to record the run, which is why it looks like shit. That's also why the song is barely audible, and I guess why my strumming is amplified. I'm really not hitting the strum bar all that hard.

You might notice that during the intro and the section like it later, I hold green the entire time. I play that section with green held and my middle, ring, and pinky fingers poised ready to hit yellow, blue, and orange, respectively. It sounds like it's uncomfortable but it's not really. You need to be able to do that to hit green+yellow+orange chords anyway.

Sunday, February 15, 2009


ClearType is neat

Here's a side by side comparison of what my blog looks like with it both off and on.

ClearType offClearType on

Don't be fooled, I didn't make those screenshots on VistAIDS or Windows 7. I installed the ClearType Tuner PowerToy for Windows XP. So now I have sexy antialiased text. While I was at it I also installed the Alt+Tab replacement, which is pretty neat when it can actually give a meaningful thumbnail of the window but most of the time just gives you the title bar. Last but not least, I've been having problems with TweakUI lately, so I reinstalled it, but it didn't fix it. It always seems to freeze whenever I try to make it do something. The settings changes it will change them and then freeze, but if I try to rebuild the explorer icon cache (because I was messing with icons for video files after updating CCCP and it fucked them up), it just freezes and doesn't do it. So, bleh.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Windows 7 Beta

So yeah, I'm running it in a VM. I'm not sure how much of the new stuff is new since VistAIDS and how much of it was added in VistAIDS (I've never used it), but I know what wasn't in XPoop. And since it's a public beta, there aren't any NDAs or any of that faggotry involved, so I get to tell you about stuff.

I'm not sure if some of my complaints are caused by the fact that it's a beta, or the fact that I'm running it in a VM, or the fact that I gave it half of the 1 GB of RAM that Microsoft recommends. I just didn't feel right giving a VM half of my computer's total RAM. It's a bit sluggish with only 512MB of RAM, but still usable. Keep those three facts in mind when reading the rest of this.

Tsuruya watching me install the Windows 7 Beta.
The install is actually fairly quick. I was surprised, given how XP's takes bloody forfuckingever. Boot off the DVD, it copies and extracts files for about 15 minutes, then you remove the DVD and reboot and it's maybe another 15-20 minutes (with some interaction such as entering account name, computer name, password, and product key) and you're good to go.

VirtualBox setup for Windows 7.
If you want to run it in VirtualBox like I am, you'll need to set the network card to the Intel PRO/1000 Desktop card, as it doesn't have AMD PCNet drivers. Once you have the network card set properly, you won't have sound (even if you've set that up properly), but it'll solve that itself with a feature I find partly really neat and partly scary: It just goes out onto the internet, finds the device driver, and installs it all by itself with no prompting or interaction required.

Annoyingly, they turn on ClearType by default, and have it set to do subpixel rendering by default instead of just anti-aliasing. They also claim to have invented ClearType, which just makes me laugh. Subpixel rendering and antialiasing were around and even implemented in other OSes long before Microsoft caught wind of either of them. In addition, subpixel rendering only works on LCDs. Being that I have a CRT, I could see the green and red borders on either side of things. Once I got through the install I went straight to the control panel, found the ClearType tuner, adjusted it to just antialias things, and text looks pretty good.

The login screen.Select Pin to Taskbar...
...and it gets pinned to the taskbar. Yay.The taskbar with Firefox and Windows Explorer pinned to it and running.
Taskbar properties.
What I noticed almost right away: The taskbar. It works more like the dock in OS X and has a feature that can greatly help reduce taskbar clutter. Instead of having the Quick Launch bar, you can instead pin any program in the start menu to it from the right click menu. When you run a program that's pinned to the taskbar, it doesn't create a separate taskbar entry for it, instead it just highlights the pre-existing icon. If you have more than one window of that application open it shows a small bar next to it (like it's layered, like a stack of playing cards or something) and you just hover it to get a menu showing all the windows. From that menu you can restore/focus each individual window, or even close it without having to give it focus. Also, by default, taskbar icons are grouped so that multiple windows from one application make the aforementioned menu, and the taskbar entries are also just the application's icon by default (i.e. the text is hidden, but you can un-hide it in the options if you want). I tweaked the taskbar a bit (small icons, and auto-hide), but generally the defaults are good.

System tray config.
The next thing I noticed: It actually fucking obeys your preferences for hiding system tray icons, though annoyingly enough you'll still have to tell it to hide each and every one. XP would just be like "lol wut you don't want to see this icon? I'll show it for you! I r being helpful!"

My custom theme file, open in the Windows version of gedit.
I've been unable to change the Aero window color from the default blue. Even though it comes with themes that set it to yellow and pink and I found the color value in the theme file and set up a black one. It also supports alpha blending on windows, but even though I've specified that it doesn't do it. By the way, the only way to set the Aero window color or the alpha blending is to locate the theme file itself (which is a chore), open it in a text editor (it's just a text file), and then figure out that the 32 bit color value is organized as such: 0x(AA)(RR)(GG)(BB) where 0x designates that it's hexadecimal, A=alpha, R=red, G=green, and B=blue, and the parentheses aren't actually there. In case you're wondering, the color value visible in my screenshot (and that should be applied to the window, but isn't) is pure black with about 80% opacity. Explaining hexadecimal is beyond the scope of this post.

Built-in wallpaper rotator!
While we're in the Personalization control panel (that's what it's called), I noticed there's a built-in wallpaper rotator, which is nice. It will resample while respecting aspect ratio if you set it to "Fit", but annoyingly converts everything to a jpeg (including any animated gif wallpapers you may have, which strips the animation).

UAC only seems to ever happen when I go to install something or when a program needs to change system settings (like when I was associating Media Player Classic with various file formats). So it's not that annoying. I dunno what UAC was like in VistAIDS, but generally everyone complained about it. UAC is strangely absent on control panel applets, I thought that all system changes made by all programs would have to go through it instead of just anything that isn't Windows itself.

Also, a side effect of UAC being required for file association changes means that if your browser isn't aware of this and tries to set itself as the default it won't work. This happened with Iron. I had to run Iron as an administrator (which is weird because of the next paragraph) to set it. Firefox prompted to set as default during its install, after I'd already given UAC the okay, so it set itself as default without a hitch.

The user created during install is an administrator by default. I'm not sure about the default for new accounts beyond that. Even then, I get told "Access Denied" when trying to browse some system folders with my supposedly administrator-level account.

I think this may have been a VistAIDS feature, but the start menu is actually fucking sorted by name all the fucking time. As opposed to XP's behavior of "lol wut always sort by name why would you want that?"

Multiple time zones!Larger display with calendar.
The system clock has an interesting addition that I've been informed was also in VistAIDS: you can set it to show up to two extra time zones besides your system default. So if you want to know what time it is in some other time zone, this is built into windows and accessible by getting it to show the taskbar clock's tooltip. In addition, if you click the clock, it brings up a larger display with a calendar.

Next to the taskbar clock there's a button that when clicked instantly minimizes everything and if clicked again restores what you had up. So if you need quick access to the desktop (i.e. you actually have desktop icons or something) then there you go.

Fucking excess.
I've been mentioning the control panel for a while now, but not actually talking specifically about the control panel. There are a shitton of control panel applets. Seriously, there's 57 of them. 57. FIFTY FUCKING SEVEN CONTROL PANEL APPLETS. Maybe it's just because the beta is Windows 7 Ultimate, but still, couldn't they consolidate some of that? This is a default install!

This screen is cluttered!Fixed. With weird graphical glitches for good measure.
Here's what you do.
A feature that might be useful is the way you can easily maximize or tile windows. To maximize a window, nope, you don't even need to click the maximize button. Just drag the window to the top of the screen. If you drag a maximized window away from the top of the screen, it restores it to its previous size. If you drag a window to either side of the screen, it makes it fill that half of the screen. In addition, if you right click the taskbar, it will allow you to tile everything you have open. This only operates on windows that aren't minimized, so it's fairly intuitive.

The Snipping Tool.MSPaint!
It's also got a tool that I've been using all along but haven't mentioned yet: the Snipping Tool. It allows you to select an area of the screen with your mouse to save as an image file. It made making most of these screenshots pretty simple. It has the ability to do a freeform selection and a rectangular selection in addition to grabbing the full screen or just a single window. Though you can do the full screen snips and window snips with PrintScrn and Alt + PrintScrn, respectively; the Snipping Tool streamlines the process by allowing you to save the image to your hard drive without having to go to your favorite image editor, make a new image, and hit Paste first. Also, since I did a few of the shots the old-fashioned way with PrintScrn and MSPaint (the one with the Snipping Tool I had to do that way, the Snipping Tool won't let you take a picture of the Snipping Tool), I noticed that MSPaint had been enhanced somewhat, so I screencapped that too.

The verdict: I have a fairly mixed opinion of Windows 7 thus far. I like some of its stuff but think other parts need improvement.

Friday, February 6, 2009

So, I'm watching Akikan!...

I keep unintentionally turning more people on to Akikan!. All I do is simply describe what's going on in it and without a doubt, someone within earshot goes "wait, what?". Every single time.

So, what is Akikan! anyway? Akikan! is about a war between the steel drink cans and the aluminum drink cans over which will be the national standard. There's exactly one Akikan of each type of soda. When the unsuspecting person begins to drink the can that's actually the Akikan, it turns into a girl. Of course, when this happens they end up kissing (because, naturally, can opening = mouth). Akikan can be distinguished by the can tab earring they wear, steel cans wear it on one ear while aluminum cans wear it on the other. I forget which is which at the moment. Pulling on this tab reverts the Akikan back to can form. Each Akikan has attacks themed around what type of soda they are.


5 episodes are out right now, but Episode 5 ends on a cliffhanger, so if you've been following the series and haven't watched it yet you may want to wait for episode 6 to come out.

Edit: OK, what the fuck. I've now gotten the same exact score on a Generation Rock FC twice. 279914. Can I has 280k plz? I think it's my second activation, that's the only one that should be squozen I'm not getting the back end squeeze on.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

The promised wallpaper update

As I said before, it's entirely Lucky Star and Haruhi.

The very first Lucky Star wallpaper is a prime example of text I don't mind in a wallpaper. Konata and Miyuki are clearly attending their school's cultural festival, and it makes sense for there to be advertisements around. That wallpaper is also a detext, oddly enough. There was a credit in the bottom right corner, and then someone edited it and stuck an edited by credit in the bottom left corner. GONE.

Also, the first Haruhi one is an update. I found a widescreen version of the wallpaper, and it didn't have the text or the earphone cord (going to the bottle of suntan lotion, what the shit) that I had edited out of the previous version. There are also a couple of other minor differences, but whatever.