Friday, May 29, 2009

Newgrounds Wide Layout Issues Followup

It seems they're actively working on it to some extent. The mystery meat buttons now have a fourth button with an X on it that replaces the flash with a Play button, effectively stopping the flash. I still think the Play button should be there by default (and you should have to voluntarily click it to start the flash up after the page loads), but it's a step in the right direction.

The buttons themselves are a little less mystery meat now, when you click them it puts a description of what you just did on the screen. Now if we can just get that in there when you mouse over the buttons.

They've also put an author credit next to the title of the flash. Lots of flash authors had been complaining about how the new layout basically removes the author credit from immediate view, so I guess that was warranted.

The boxes that obscure parts of the page are still there, so I wrote a quick style in Stylish to hide them. If was functioning properly right now I'd submit it, but it isn't, so I'm not going to.

Other news... let's see.
  • -3 on Story of My Life
  • -6 on Hotel California (Solo A with its blue/orange trill that isn't actually a trill (the second blue clearly sounds like it's being strummed) but is charted as HO/POs anyway)
  • Finally FCed Livin' On A Prayer on Bass (the only issue ever was the very end, it has two slides that sometimes get me)
  • Almost FCed the Chugging Riffs in Hier Kommt Alex
  • Google still hasn't fixed the location of the Vienna/Fairfax-GMU Metro station so they'll be giving proper directions
  • For some reason I'm still not a moderator on yet. I guess it's because the site is dying and nobody really cares. Not even me. Whatever.
  • We still haven't taken the few active members we have and made an entirely new general anime community yet. Nobody really wants to pay for hosting it seems. I would if I could but I can't so I won't.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Newgrounds Wide Layout Issues

I kinda like it, but it needs a lot of improvement. I have some images to show what exactly I'm talking about. Here's the image of the full page, I'll call attention to various parts of it with smaller images cut out of this main image.

First and foremost, the flash should not auto-load. I hate shit automatically loading. Even if it's just automatically loading a preloader with a play button. Most flashes have some audio right away and it's irritating. On other sites with streaming video (hey, let's take a vector animation format and use it to deliver raster content! Yeah!), I generally always pause right away because the videos try to play as they're loading and sometimes don't load quickly enough. Just like with Windows, autoplay = bad.

Second, the neat little buttons for night mode, popup (I always view flashes on NG in the popup), and wide mode don't have tooltips. They're just mystery meat icons that barely represent what they do. Also, the popup button works differently now and causes some popup blockers to whine and complain.

Third, why the extra "would you like to view adult content" confirmation on adult-content flashes? Did I not specify my birthday in my profile? Can you not do a little math and find out I'm over 18? At the very least, make it a profile preference. "Check here if you would like to view adult content" or something.

Fourth, the vote box is no longer in view on page load. I stopped viewing under-judgment submissions a long time ago. All I do now is spam my votes every day so I can deposit my 10 experience and eventually at some point I'll unlock all the secrets. I do this by going through my favorites and voting on 5 random ones.

Fifth, there's these boxes that obscure parts of the page that just look misplaced. I think they're supposed to have ads or something, but thankfully Adblock Plus cleanses them from view. I guess I'll have to write a greasemonkey script or a stylish style to remove the boxes. The long, thin one would have an ad in it if I didn't have Adblock Plus, but it isn't the one I'm talking about. I'm talking about the one that covers up part of the review above it, preventing me from potentially weighing in on whether or not I think that review is useless.

This last one isn't really an issue, but in the thread on their forums about the new layout, people were complaining about "what if you're using a low resolution?" There's no excuse for that these days. Most if not all monitors are capable of at the very least 1024x768. I use 1152x864 because it's the highest 4:3 resolution my video card does that my monitor supports a decent refresh rate for, since my monitor won't do more than 900 lines at above 60Hz. If only my video card had a 1200x900@75Hz mode. I can set it to 1600x900 and adjust my monitor's picture so that the aspect ratio is correct, but that's just weird using a widescreen resolution on a 4:3 monitor. There's no excuse for using 800x600 or lower in this day and age. Even those netbooks like the Asus eeePC and the Acer Aspire One have a native resolution that's 1024 pixels wide.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

How the hell do I keep doing this?

Just like before with Rock You Like A Hurricane, here's a shitty playthrough of Cult of Personality with way too many zeroes in the score.

I've noticed that I can almost FC Cult of Personality's first solo. Kinda scary. I'm almost good. And yet I still can't get through the intro to Through the Fire and Flames. Elbow strumming and tapping are still largely out of my league, and that intro pretty much requires both of them unless you're Guitar Hero Phenom (jump to 8:19). My arm's too damn long to do decent elbow strums, resting it on the guitar I can hit green with my elbow on the strum bar. I guess I should get one of those full-size B.C. Rich Warbeast controllers.

Edit: Played Radio Song for the first time since I drunkenly FCed it, and I FCed it again (this time sober). Higher score too (194,247), I guess I got more of those impossibly short SP holds.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

The day of racing

Memorial Day weekend is a great weekend for fans of auto racing. Specifically Sunday. Why?

First, things get kicking in the morning with the Formula 1 Monaco Grand Prix in Monte Carlo.

Then, at mid-day, we have the Indianapolis 500 in, well, Indianapolis, Indiana. The track and its surrounding area are actually a suburb aptly named Speedway.

Later, in the evening, you have the NASCAR Coca-Cola 600 in Charlotte, North Carolina.

1100 miles of racing on American soil alone. Add in the 260.520 km that the Monaco Grand Prix gives us, and we have approximately 1262 miles of racing to enjoy in one day. They're all perfectly timed so you don't have to miss a lap. It's great.

If you need me today, I'll be in front of a tv. At a friend's place in the morning, at my uncle's place mid-day, and finally back home in the evening. In between F1 and Indy, there'll be a stop-off at Subway to pick up sandwiches. In between Indy and Charlotte, well, there's dinner. Food and racing, what more could I ask for?

Friday, May 22, 2009

Game franchises I never really got into

This is a list of some of the best game franchises ever that for whatever reason I never got into. I try to explain why after each one, but whether or not I actually have a coherent explanation remains an exercise for the reader.

Final Fantasy

I've played portions of FF4, 5, 6, and 10. Hell, I even owned 10 for a while. Lent it to a friend, he returned it and then it mysteriously disappeared. The games are pretty good. Nice long in-depth RPGs that if you can get immersed you'll easily lose track of time. My general thought is that they were a bit too long, and sometimes got extremely confusing. I also don't quite understand the "must buy every new Final Fantasy" crowd, the games are good, but personally I think they're a bit overrated.

Legend of Zelda

I've played a few of them, and own Link's Awakening DX for Gameboy Color. I'm almost at the end of it, but for whatever reason I can't get the level 2 sword. You have to find these acorns or some bullshit and I think I gave away the shovel too early or something. Anyway, it's a pretty good series with decent continuity between games and some interesting weapons. Similar to Final Fantasy, I think the series is a bit overrated.


I own Megaman Anniversary Collection for PS2 and have made concerted efforts at getting through it (since to unlock things you have to beat each Megaman game), but they're really hard. Now, I like a challenge, but it gets tiring dying at the same spot over and over and over again. The X series toned the difficulty down and was actually pretty fun, my personal favorite is X3.

Street Fighter

I've played some of the massive number of sequels this game has and generally speaking, it's not bad. I just don't really like how slow and clunky the controls feel. You can do almost nothing in the air and the characters are so similar it gets boring. I guess I'm just used to better fighters like Guilty Gear that have way more depth and variety in their gameplay.

Soul Calibur

I've never been a fan of 3D fighters. The move input systems are so weird, it kinda reminds me of Mortal Kombat's cryptic "spam a whole bunch of directions and hit an attack button" thing. We can't have our standard quarter circles and whatnot because of the third dimension. Sure, I see the point, especially having done some kendo, which translated pretty well into drunken Soul Calibur 3 at Katsucon a few years back. Being able to sidestep does bring a little more realism to the fight, but when you're dealing with characters that have special moves and such that wouldn't be feasible in real life, what's the point?

Gran Turismo

I love racing games. Wouldn't I therefore be into one of the best simulation racers in existence? Nope. I'm much more a fan of the simpler arcade-style racers. No, not shit like Mario Kart. More along the lines of Ridge Racer. I just want to be able to jump in a vehicle and go racing. I don't want to have to mess with settings for suspension, brakes, transmission, etc. just to have a favorable gameplay experience. Isn't that what race car drivers have an entire team of engineers for? Why should I, the driver, have to decide every last detail about my car's setup? I did clear out the arcade mode in Gran Turismo 3 (including the hidden Professional difficulty with tire wear enabled), but I just get lost in the sea of options in its main gameplay.

Mario Kart

Speaking of Mario Kart... I've always found its powerups rather imbalanced. There is a massive amount of bias against the person in the lead, to the point where it becomes advantageous to lurk behind the leader and pounce on the last lap. I experienced this directly in the tournament at MAGFest 4, where I was in the lead on the final lap of the final round and one blue shell and two green shells later, finished 4th. Why should a game's powerups require seasoned players to hold back until the last moment? Shouldn't someone who's good at the game be able to lead the entire time and win? It makes no sense to allow people that are lagging behind to gain that much of an advantage. Also, the controls in the earlier ones were slippery and generally did the exact opposite of whatever you were trying to do. It's gotten better though. In terms of the "racing with powerups" style of racing game, I much prefer Rumble Racing.

Grand Theft Auto

I've beaten GTA3 and have Vice City and San Andreas. The games offer a wide range of gameplay, basically making each session more like a "choose your own adventure" than anything else. You can literally play for hours and never get to the storyline. The stories are long and involve lots of various crimes and their associated getaways. I like a game with variety in its gameplay, but for whatever reason I never really felt like continuing. There are some weird moments like the one time in Vice City when I was delivering pizzas and happened to deliver one to a guy within a cop's field of vision. Since to deliver the pizza you use the driveby shooting controls to toss it to them, I guess the game thought I was shooting people and a cop ran me over. Can't they program an exception for the damn pizza? Anyway... yeah. Some things bothered me, like how you don't get to see the vehicle's speedometer, and how just about all of the vehicles seem too ready to tip the fuck over and explode. Combine that with missions where you need to get from Point A to Point B as fast as possible (and then usually on to Point C), and you have some warranted frustration.

I dunno if GTA really counts since I've actually beaten one of its games, but then again, I've beaten Mario Kart Double Dash!! and I included Mario Kart, so...

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

I found a bug

I'm not sure if it's a Firefox bug or a Flash bug, but it's definitely related to the two.

Reproducability is always on my computer, give it a shot and see if it happens on yours too. It's really simple.
  1. Make a new tab. The bug seems to happen per-tab.
  2. Go to any site with streaming videos (i.e. YouTube).
  3. Pick a random video.
  4. Press Alt + Home (the keyboard shortcut for your home page). You should see your home page load. (just for confirmation that the keyboard shortcut does in fact work)
  5. Now hit Back to go back to the video.
  6. Fullscreen the video, then exit fullscreen. You don't even need the video to be playing.
  7. Click the page outside of the video player so Firefox gets input focus back from Flash.
  8. Press Alt + Home again.
Nothing happens? Yeah, that's the bug.

I guess I should report it through the proper channels (to both Firefox's bug tracker and Flash's, if they even have one).

Edit: submitted it to Bugzilla, we'll see if they just ignore it or what.

Double edit: Apparently people on Bugzilla don't actually read a report fully before marking it invalid. Is this guy blind or what?

Friday, May 15, 2009

mixed drink idea results

I tried two slightly different recipes:

4 parts Breyer's Reese's Peanut Butter Cup ice cream
1 part Bailey's Irish Cream

I did 4:1 instead of 3:1 because the blender had a 1 cup marking, so it was easier to measure out 8 oz of ice cream than 6. The result was delicious.

The second recipe:

4 parts Breyer's Reese's Peanut Butter Cup ice cream
1 part Bailey's Irish Cream
1 part coffee liqueur (I used the Caffé Lolita that I bought, if making this drink for serious, you'd probably want Kahlua here instead)

This had a different taste due to the coffee liqueur, but it was just as delicious. I'm having a really hard time deciding which one I liked better. The first one was sweeter due to the lack of the bitter taste the coffee liqueur adds, but both were pretty smooth and tasty. Also a key factor is that the ice cream warmed up between the drinks, since I didn't pop it back in the freezer until after making the second drink, so the second one was warmer than the first, but still cold.

The one thing that didn't work out quite as I had hoped were the chunks of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups that are in the ice cream. They got ground up somewhat by the blender, but there was still sludge at the bottom of the glass. I was counting on the blender to make the chunks smaller than it did. Maybe it was just the blender I was using.

Also something you might be able to infer from the recipes but I'll go ahead and mention anyway: the first recipe was thicker than the second, and felt more like a milkshake. If you want the thickness of the first recipe with the coffee liqueur from the second, you'll have to adjust the amount of ice cream accordingly. I'm too lazy to do the math, but just add a couple extra scoops of ice cream and you should be fine.

As for serving this drink to others, you'd probably want to serve it in a chilled glass, perhaps with a straw since it's pretty much a milkshake. If you want to get fancy you could garnish it with a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup. Floating on top would be cool if it works, or alternatively you could carefully slice a small bit out of it with a knife and slide it over the edge of the glass like a lemon slice. Also, the usual drizzling of Hershey's chocolate syrup around the edge of the glass would compliment the drink well.

This is basically yet another variant of the mudslide. If anyone ever finds something like this for sale in a bar or restaurant, definitely let me know, I'd like to see the difference between my attempts and those of an actual bartender.

Last but not least, if it wasn't obvious already, I really like the combination of peanut butter and chocolate.

mixed drink idea

It's kind of a takeoff of a mudslide, but whatever. My whole idea is to take a delicious liquifiable food item (Breyer's Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Ice Cream) and a delicious creamy alcoholic substance (Bailey's Irish Cream) and mix the two in a blender. I have procured the ice cream and the Irish cream. Mixing time is after dinner (a frozen Red Baron pepperoni pizza that I'm adding bacon to) tonight. Parents are conveniently out of town, so I can use the blender (and clean it myself too).

I'm wondering about the proper proportions to use. For a single drink I was thinking a cup of ice cream, but how much Bailey's do I add? I don't want it to be undetectable, but I don't want it to overpower the peanut butter+chocolate goodness either.

I would start with the mudslide recipe off of Wikipedia, but it doesn't list proportions, only the ingredients.

When I think about it, no matter how I mix it, it's going to be delicious.

Also, at parties and gatherings with CAINE I encountered a cheap Kahlua knockoff called Caffé Lolita. Being that I'm more or less an anime nerd at this point, I laugh a bit to myself every time I see a bottle of it, so I picked one up while I was at the ABC store. It's bottom shelf liquor and tastes like it, but whatever.

Hmm, all of the mudslide recipes I'm finding to try and cross reference the ingredient proportions have coffee liqueur in them (specifically Kahlua, but whatever). Maybe it's good that I impulsively bought the Caffé Lolita after all.

Just noticed a separate recipe for "frozen mudslide". Maybe I should have been searching for that instead. It's 2 oz Bailey's and 6 oz Ice cream, or exactly 3:1::ice cream:Bailey's, which was exactly what I was thinking. This is just flat dropping the vodka and Kahlua.

Last but not least, I don't know if this is bad, but when I stopped by Taco Bell to grab some lunch I got order number 256 and laughed. You know, 0x100. 28. I guess it's just a computer geek thing.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

14 Expert Bass FCs in 24 Hours

This is the first time I've really sat down and said "okay, I'm going to FC a bunch of stuff." Bass lends itself well to full comboing, as most bass parts are really easy.

Even though I didn't care about star power paths at all, I got some pretty good scores and jetted myself up to 68th overall on PS2 World Tour Expert Bass over on ScoreHero.

Here's my scores, look at that solid section of FCs on May 13th. Wheeeeee.

I was going to go farther (I wanted the subject of this post to be 24 Expert Bass FCs in 24 hours), but American Woman was being an asshole to me. I skipped over the Tool set because they suck and shouldn't have been in the game to begin with. I suppose that if I manage to FC everything else on bass, I'll go back and pick those three songs up for a nice full game full combo, but not until then.

Bass is really pretty easy. As a general rule, you don't have to worry about chords. Some songs have them though. Open notes are the most confusing thing for me on bass, because as they scroll down, I'm trying to process "okay, there's a purple (sometimes white) line across the fretboard, what do I do?" and can end up missing or trying to strum it while holding a fret. Open notes require more brain processing since you have to worry not only about releasing all the fret buttons, but positioning your hand correctly so you can hit the note after it. They only get worse when they're involved in HO/PO strings. Then there's the awkward places where you can tell that the open note really should be a sustain.

After playing a lot of bass, I've become rather annoyed at the combination of the inclusion of the purple fretboard and the fact that you can't choose your own character for single player quickplay. Even after having gone into all of the preset characters and changing anyone whose bass fretboard was the purple one to something else, I still have to cope with it because sometimes it randomly generates a character instead of using a preset one. Why put a fretboard in there that disguises open notes? Seriously Neversoft, what were you thinking?

Also, I've been trying to finish career on one instrument, but I've been running into the crashes I mentioned in my original post about World Tour. I've gotten most of the sets in Bass career unlocked, but some of them annoy me because you have to pay to play them. This would be less of an issue if the game didn't crash between songs on some sets, or if the game saved per-song on each set instead of at the end of the set's encore.

The only reason I'm trying to finish career is because, in Neversoft's infinite wisdom, the "unlock all songs in quickplay" code leaves one song locked, and you have to complete career mode to unlock it. I don't know if I want Pull Me Under by Dream Theater, but I'm kind of a completionist and at the very least I'd like to sightread it. The only exception to the completionist rule where I've intentionally left a song locked is Yes We Can in GH2, universally regarded as the worst song in all of Guitar Hero.

On a slightly different note, jameslikecoulter's video parodying the stupid comments that GH/RB players get on YouTube is fucking hilarious.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Disrupted signal in the radio song

Seriously, GH3? SERIOUSLY? I really dropped combo THREE FUCKING NOTES from the end of Radio Song?

Song is easy, SP path isn't. I don't seem to get the same amount of SP from the half-beat whammy bullshit that the path says I should.

Rum and coke Radio Song FC incoming? Updates as events warrant.

Edit: THERE WE FUCKING GO. 191963, 627th on PS2. Activations a bit shorter than optimal because whammying a half-beat sustain and getting all of its SP is impossible, but whatever.

Double Edit: I should combine rum and coke with Guitar Hero more often. I just got Ruby forfuckingfinally. 205646 points, 151st on PS2. Now I just need some 151 proof rum. lol.

Remember kids: Winners don't do drugs.

Triple Edit: Holy crap, I just 5-starred One again. Alcohol FTW.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

To all makers of 100% whole grain bread products with sugar or other sweeteners

Seriously, sweetening bread ruins its taste. Stop it NOW. Whole grain bread has plenty of flavor on its own, especially when you combine multiple whole grains together. There is simply no need for sugar and/or sweeteners (sucralose, etc.) in bread. Ever.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

More Music Maker Madness

Alliteration FTW.

No, I haven't finished or even resumed work on Don't say "lazy". This is a new project entirely, and exposes some other flaws of the deeply flawed music creator in World Tour.

Specifically, you can't change BPM mid-song.

I need to do this to prevent it from auto-charting hammerons in my latest project, my favorite song from Megaman X, Storm Eagle. I thought it'd be neat to have the boss fanfare in there as the intro, and charted it just fine. It sounds about perfect at 120BPM. However, for Storm Eagle's actual stage music, I need to double it to 240 to prevent auto hammerons. (Edit: okay, after doing the entire melody once, double is too fast. Maybe to 180BPM (120 * 1.5)?)

I have a couple of options for charting this. The first, which is the one I'm currently doing, is simply charting it with sixteenths where there would normally be eighths at 120, but I'll have hammerons all over the place.

My other option is to leave Storm Eagle's stage music as 120BPM eighth notes and just have a half-speed lounge version or something.

The even less desirable option would be to leave the boss fanfare as its own 9 second long custom and chart Storm Eagle at the max available BPM (160) and just blame shitty developers for not providing more options where they're feasible. (Edit: it's really 180, so... 90 BPM and still have to cope with hammerons, or keep it 120, chart triplets (ugh) and still have to worry about hammerons)

I've already FCed the fanfare on guitar and the bassline I made up for it. I bullshitted some drums as well since it didn't have any, doesn't sound all that great but it sorta fits.

Doing the drums is where I ran into the other stupid thing. I thought it would be neat from an artistic license point of view to have a cymbal roll from the fanfare into the stage music. World Tour's drum charts have drum/cymbal rolls charted as sustains. However, you can't chart a sustain on drums.

My only option, thus the one I'm currently doing, is to chart it as a string of 32nd notes on the orange cymbal, first one is an armor note since climactic cymbal rolls sound better when the first hit is hard and the rest are soft and gradually build back up volume. That and strings of 32nd armor note orange cymbals sound like shit. I can't actually play the chart since I don't have the drum kit (and why can't you buy them separately from the rest of the game?), but at least sound-wise it sounds good.

To aid myself in charting the song (which I pretty much had memorized, but whatever) I remembered that ZSNES has toggles for the SNES' SPC-700 sound channels. So I loaded up a rom of Megaman X, got through the intro stage, and went into Storm Eagle's stage and fiddled with them until I had just the drums. I ended up having to add the melody back in just so I could listen for places in the song where the beat changes up and actually know where they were.

I really don't know what I'm going to do for the ending. I figure I'll repeat the main melody once or twice if time/notes allow, but I have no clue how to end the song, since the stage music loops. Maybe just chart the "you died" sound effect as a joke. Who knows.

I'm taking some artistic license on the guitar part, since it's clear there's more than just guitar/bass/drums in the song. I'll probably stick some backing chords or something in the rhythm part. There are plenty of chords in the lead melody, so currently my plan is to have the chords in the rhythm and single notes in the lead. I might end up moving the guitar to the rhythm, but that would make the single notes sound like shit since they'd be chords.

Ugh, Neversoft, why are the parts so damn restricting? The reason you gave on ScoreHero doesn't even make sense. "Technically impossible to tell whether we should chart a single note or a chord" my ass, if I'm holding multiple frets, I want a chord, if I'm just holding one, I want a single note. How does logic that simple escape you?

Also, during this process, I've found a really good way to cut off a sustain on one of the beat lines. Chart it past the beat line you want to cut it off at, then go back to that beat line, change your snap to a 16th note, move one 16th note up, chart a note, then delete it. Your sustain will get cut off perfectly on the line. I think it's even perfect tick-wise. (as-in, a two beat sustain made with this method wouldn't change the last two digits of your score)

I just realized, if I hear it correctly, Storm Eagle is in the key of C sharp. That could be why, to cram the song onto 5 frets, I'm having to change my settings for which colors produce which notes and occasionally change the pitch on consecuitive notes of the same color, something I hate that Neversoft did in most of their customs. They also went down in pitch going up the fretboard a few times too.

Edit: Grrrrrrrrrreeeeeeeeeeeaaaaaat. It won't let me chart the note two octaves above the root note, no matter what. I really need a high F but I can only get the mid and low Fs. Middle finger to you, Neversoft.

Friday, May 8, 2009

mp3 player oddness

I think I mentioned a while back that someone left a blue SanDisk MP3 player in the LAN room at MAGFest. I posted on the site about it, and gave its owner a few months to claim it. No response. So, I claimed it. I removed the music from it (I still have it around, I guess I'm just paranoid) and have been using it for myself.

Recently I noticed a weird problem with it. I had put a few entire albums on it and had been listening to them on shuffle, so I hadn't noticed it until I tried to browse for a specific track to play at a party. It basically sorted my music in random order. It's not completely random, however. The files I have in the root of the player are sorted alphabetically by name as one might expect. The complete albums (in folders by artist), however, were completely randomized. My naming format is <artist> - <track number> - <title>, which coupled with the player's tiny screen means that I have to wait for the filename to slowly scroll across the screen to see which track it is.

So, I broke out Advanced Renamer, a batch-renaming utility I got off of SoftPedia a while back, and used it to rename one album to <track number> - <title> - <artist>, using its handy dandy feature that reads ID3 tags from music files. I figured if it didn't fix the problem, at the very least, I'd be able to find the track I wanted a lot more easily. I start the thing up, go into the folder, and wham, everything's sorted by track number as it should have been to begin with.

The only logical explanation that I can come up with to explain this is that it uses only the first few characters of the filename to sort the list, to save time over comparing each character until it finds a difference. Maybe that saves battery power or something.

So if you've got one of these and are experiencing this problem (or for that matter, are experiencing this problem with any audio player), try renaming your files to put the track number first. This will especially help if you're trying to listen to an audio book on any player affected by this problem.

I dunno if there's a firmware update that fixes this or not. When I look at the player's software version, it says "2.0.007A 2005/09/09" and the most recent firmware I can find is 1.24. The player is a refurb, maybe they have a special fimware version they install onto players when they refurbish them.

Now that I've explained the problem and its solution, I can drift away from the topic. Here's some of the features that I like.
  • It appears as USB Mass Storage instead of requiring the use of special software.
  • That means it can be used on any OS that supports USB. Cross-platform compatibility is always a huge plus.
  • Simply open a file browser window and drag files onto (and even off of) the device, when they're done copying, you're ready to go.
  • It has an FM radio that gets pretty good reception. I successfully used it to listen to WCNR 106.1 FM. Compare that to the clock radio I have on my desk which loses the signal if I get up from my computer (no joke).
  • It also has a voice recorder. I haven't used it except to record short clips of me saying "testing, testing", but it works pretty well. Not sure how well it'd work for recording audio that's coming from farther away (say, your professor's lecture).
  • It's fairly configurable. You can change equalizer settings, tell it to keep the backlight on longer (or shorter), turn on a sleep timer, and much more.
  • It runs off of one AAA battery. I haven't evaluated the battery life, but I got a couple hours out of it at the party with no dent to its battery meter (which only shows three bars, terrible resolution).
  • It gets its power from the USB connection when you plug it into a computer, instead of using your battery.
As with pretty much anything, there are some downsides:
  • The UI is fairly horrible. You have to navigate it with this tiny stick that can be pushed in four directions as well as inwards.
  • Pushing the button inwards and releasing it quickly lets you browse the folders, pushing it and holding it brings up the config.
  • To go into a folder you don't push the button in, you push it towards the right. Luckily you can play a selected file by either pushing right again or hitting Play.
  • The screen is tiny. The Gameboy Micro has a bigger screen.
  • No ogg vorbis support. Just MP3, WMA, and WAV. I could get so many more songs into the 512MB of available space if it supported vorbis :(
I don't think it's worth looking for one of these, as I don't think they're manufactured anymore. To find anything related to it on SanDisk's website I have to use their search. Their Sansa players are featured much more prominently and look to be much more iPod-like in appearance, whereas the SDMX1 is a clear take-off of an iRiver IFP-700 or similar looking audio player.

As for Advanced Renamer, all I can say is I wish it supported regular expressions. If someone releases a batch renaming program for Windows that does, I'd use that in an instant. Yeah, I did link you to the portable version, but whatever. Just tell your unzipping utility to make a folder in Program Files and unzip it to that, then make a start menu shortcut pointing to ARen.exe. Bam, same effect as an installer.

The verdict: keep and use until someone makes one that supports regular expressions. Maybe someone already has, there are a few other batch renamers on SoftPedia.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

What the hell?

I just got a -1 run on Helicopter.

I dropped like crazy during the choppas and they were apparently all overstrums.

What the hell.

The only note I missed was the chord right before the choppas that I simply didn't strum for whatever reason.

What the hell.

I could have had gold stars had I fucking strummed that chord.

My score is absolute shit because of all the overstrums (it doesn't even make my top 5), but...

What the hell.

Random -1 was random.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Yay for consistency?

It's official: I've just gotten my THIRD score of 279,914 on Generation Rock. I've had to FC the song to get in the top 5 for a while now, but that's not all that hard. Still, three of the exact same score? And a while back the list had my 280,298 FC, the two 279,914s, and two 279,906s. I've since improved my top FC by 8 points (two ticks in the O hold activation, whee), but whatever.

A while back I 5-starred One. I'm damn near perfect on Fast Solo B now, I've hit the entire thing except for the red/yellow hammeron bit at the end. The zigzags (and thus, the SP) are no problem, but I usually drop in the triplets.

I keep getting stupid -1 and -3 runs on Ruby. It's like the game doesn't want me to FC the song or something. Same thing for Bulls on Parade.

Can't remember where I left off bragging about FCs, but I don't think I've mentioned Metal Heavy Lady yet. The solo activation finally cooperated with me long enough to get the FC.

Songs I'm currently really close to FCing:
Bulls on Parade (-1 in Kill Switch Scratch)
Go That Far (random stupid drops in the alt-strumming sections)
Helicopter (haven't gotten the strum speed for Get To The Choppa! and Get To The Choppa! 2 correct yet)
Hier Kommt Alex (Random drops in the Chugging Riffs)
Ruby (inevitable -1 either first note of the solo or on the quick O-(hammeron)B-YO(hold) in the chorus after it)
Story of my Life (random drops that I really should iron out)

Also last night I was playing GH2 and cleared Freebird on Expert. I'd used the training mode glitch before just because I didn't really feel like playing the song, so now it's official.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

rhythm games are fun

Anyone who listens to music will usually find themselves keeping rhythm with at least some part of it. The advent of the rhythm game was inevitable. We've got so many now that some are kind of slipping under the radar.

Through a friend I found out about Osu! It's a PC clone of the DS game Elite Beat Agents, with Taiko Drum Master and its own Catch The Rhythm mode thrown in for good measure.

The first thing I noticed right off the bat is that it ties everything into its online ranking system. The game gives pretty much every complaint it possibly can if you start it in offline mode. It's like it's saying "but... but... you could be ranked against other players worldwide (who are better than you)!"

Well, an enormous barrier to the main gameplay is that I don't have a touchscreen. It sorely needs it. Even the so-called "easy" charts of some songs are incredibly difficult. This can be due to the lack of a touchscreen, or it layering one note over the next so you can't see how many of them there are in the stack, to combining layering things on top of other things with the slider notes that go all over the place, to having notes placed such that the lingering effects from hitting previous notes obscure them until the note is past its hit window. The chart design, however, is at fault there, and it's because it's community-driven instead of a professional job. One person's idea of what's easy can vastly differ from another person's.

Still, the gameplay is inherently frustrating with a mouse (or in my case, a trackball, which makes most mouse-driven games even worse).

The Taiko Drum Master and Catch The Rhythm modes are notably less frustrating, to the point where they're actually fun. Catch The Rhythm is by far the easiest of the gameplay modes available. Basically you're at the bottom of the screen with a plate, and fruit falls down from the top of the screen, timed to match the music in one way or another. You catch it.

The Taiko Drum Master mode is, well, Taiko Drum Master. If you're familiar with the game, you'll immediately be right at home. If not, read on. The controller for Taiko Drum Master is separated into four parts, two middle pads and two rim pads. You have drum sticks that you hit the drums with according to the notes on the screen. There are small notes that allow you to hit them with either of the pads for that note, large ones that require you to hit both of that note's pads, and rolls, which can be both small and large. I'm not sure if the spinners were in TDM or not, but you just flail on the controller to hit them when they come up.

Another easily noticable thing about this game is its graphics. Everything is a nice high resolution. There are some neat effects you can tweak in the options, and you can download skins that change gameplay graphics, though the individual song can override your skin. For example, Radio Song by Superbus, taken from Guitar Hero 3, has a health bar that looks like GH1/2/80s' SP gauge, and the notes look like the GH gems.

Back to this point: the content is entirely user-created. On their site, they have a rather large list of song packs, both themed and non-themed, as well as single tracks of music already charted and ready to go. All you have to do is download it and unzip/unrar it into the songs directory. They have a lot of packs, I've downloaded all the themed ones, giving me a collection of songs taken from other rhythm games, video game music, anime music, and various memetic songs (Never Gonna Give You Up, for example). Haven't gotten any single tracks yet but I just noticed they have Don't say "lazy", so I'll be downloading that before too long.

The content being user-created is a double-edged sword. On one side, since the game has a built-in editor and supports both MP3 and Ogg Vorbis audio, you can drop a song from your collection into it and make a chart. On the other side, when you get songs for it, sometimes you have to put up with other people's shitty charts, and you can't rate a chart if you can't finish it. A chart can also have a video defined to be shown in the background instead of just a static image, something most of the songs from the anime-themed song packs use.

Since it tries to force the whole internet connectivity thing down your throat, it comes as no surprise that it has multiplayer. Also built-in is a chat client that lets you talk to anyone else (with the chat window up) who's online. I haven't tried out the multiplayer yet, so I can't really comment on it. The usual expectation of online gameplay quality depending on your latency to the person you're playing with is no doubt a factor, though.

I probably don't need to re-hash this point, but I will anyway: To get any value out of the game's core gameplay (the clone of Elite Beat Agents), you really really need a touchscreen. Whether you have a tablet PC or just a graphics tablet, it doesn't matter. You will be able to be so much better at the game if you have the proper control method for it.

The last thing that needs mentioning is the updater. It's got a separate program that lets you easily download game updates and skins (but sadly, not song packs). It works fairly well, but I ran into a slight issue downloading skins: they're in a list with checkboxes beside them, but it will download a skin (or queue it to be downloaded) as soon as you check it. It's very possible to accidentally get more than one skin from a single click. I solved the issue by downloading all the skins, even though I've settled on the Lucky Star skin.

To summarize:
Elite Beat Agents clone: It's a neat system but sorely needs a touchscreen
Taiko Drum Master clone: It's pretty fun, and challenging too
Catch The Rhythm: It's fairly easy, but on the harder songs still has the potential to be challenging.
Graphics: customizable, high resolution, neat effects, overall very polished
Gameplay: begs for proper controllers/input devices for two of its three modes

The verdict: If you want something a little different from a rhythm game, check it out. If you like it, you're probably going to be better off getting a copy of Elite Beat Agents for the DS or Taiko Drum Master for whichever one of the systems you can find it on.

Edit: even the easiest chart on Don't say "lazy" is difficult as all hell. I know the song's 181BPM, but still... make a damn easy chart plz
Double edit: Their chart mods are morons and forced them to capitalize the title (making it Don't Say "Lazy" even though the correct song title is in fact Don't say "lazy"), so I had to remove the chart, edit it, and re-add it with correct capitalization. My playthroughs will no longer be ranked, but a) it's too fucking difficult, and b) boo fucking hoo.
Triple edit: I guess I'll just have to make a sane chart.
Quadruple edit: the charts they had were of the tv size version anyway.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Last CAINE showing of the semester...

... and we get trolled hard by the club troll.

We watched two movies. The first, Sword of the Stranger, was actually pretty good. The second, Tekkon Kinkreet, however... what the fuck. The entire movie is a two hour long acid trip. The plot is barely visible, nothing makes any sense, and you can't help but say "what the fuck?" at least five times a minute in parts.

There isn't really any more I can say, other than that I want my two hours back.

Friday, May 1, 2009

I remembered the site!

...but I'm not re-bookmarking it.

It was C-ville Movies.

I haven't gone to see a movie in a theater since forever.

It's a waste of money and time.

Box office figures only reflect how successful the marketing was, not the overall public's opinion of a movie. When we can get a refund when a movie sucks (i.e. Doom), maybe I'll go back to a theater. Wait, that'll never happen. So, no. Never seeing another movie in a theater ever again unless someone else pays for my admission or I manage to get in for free.

Or, you know, if Hollywood gets some goddamn original content. I'm sick and tired of all these remakes of old movies, comic book movies, video game movies, anime live action adaptations, etc. The MPAA wonders why the industry isn't making as much money, and they take the easy way out and blame piracy. If they produced content worth paying for, maybe people would pay for it. People pirate the shit because they charge too damn much for it.

Also, that's something that irks me (and a few friends of mine). How we're expected to pay for the same thing multiple times. An example: Say you see a movie in theaters. You pay for that. You want to watch it again, but it's not in theaters anymore. You're supposed to buy the DVD (a minimum $30 for most movies). You can catch it on a movie channel on TV, but you have to pay for that too (cable bill). Srsly what the fuck.

I've graduated (maybe not the best word for it) to actually saying "srsly" out loud instead of "seriously". The word "has" makes occasional appearances in my speech where I should really be using the word "have". Fuck the internet.

Someone released a fake K-On! episode 5 that's like 6 minutes long, has ass sound quality, and is dubbed over in english with random stuff. They even copied CoalGuys' opening "karaoke", which I place in quotes because it's hilariously scene-timed, doesn't have any moon runes or romaji, and the subs move around from scene to scene. Doesn't really matter anyway, I've got the ED single.

CAINE had the pre-party party for CAINE house earlier tonight. The 5 of them actually living in the house got the keys and began cleaning it up. The lease goes into effect today, and we're having a party tonight.

Dynasty Warriors Gundam is fun. It takes the classic Dynasty Warriors "place one or two people in an area, give them weapons, and make them kill hordes of people" formula and applies Gundam to it, which works quite well. We were playing it (well, Dynasty Warriors Gundam 2 to be exact) for most of the pre-party party. It's a great "pass the controllers around the room" game since the controls are pretty simple and the gameplay is easy to get into.

Nothing's happening on the internet right now. I'd go to sleep (and I haven't gotten a lot of sleep the last few nights, so I'm in dire need of a lot of uninterrupted sleep), but I've only been awake 14 hours. Well, I guess that's good enough.