Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Classic DOS Games: Commander Keen Episode One: Marooned on Mars

Oh yeah, now we're talking.

This game (and its entire series) are available as a pack on Steam for $4.99 outside of a sale.  That's right, 5 classic DOS games for $5.  Go get it now.  It's ok, I'll wait.

Monday, December 27, 2010

The Future of Wallpaper Updates

Since I'm taking in wallpapers at a much slower rate than I was, the updates are naturally becoming less and less frequent as well as smaller in size.

I've had some ideas as to how to keep them alive, but as I've previously mentioned, making each one is a giant hassle.

My ideas (well, my idea, I only had one) was to change them from wallpapers I use from series I've seen or am currently watching, to simply wallpapers from currently airing and recent series, whether or not I've been watching the series or use the wallpapers I post.  The trouble with doing that is having to go out of my way to obtain wallpapers from a series I'm not even interested in.  I'd have to use a second Picasa account to hold them since I want my main one to be for wallpapers I actually use (and the other random pictures posted on this blog).

What I really want to do is just stop doing them altogether and simply recommend that you make use of the RSS feed for my Picasa account to see new wallpapers as I add them.  That way I can go on my merry little way and add wallpapers as I find them, and you can just ignore the ones you don't want.  I'm also half tempted to look through the blogger gadgets thing and see if there's something I can stick in the sidebar to show thumbnails of the last few images I added to the account.

So, yeah. (I use the phrase "So, yeah." a lot on this blog, don't I?)

Edit: Well, there is indeed a gadget to show recently added pictures on a Picasa account, but it's not showing mine.  Maybe it has a hidden unconfigurable timeframe that it only looks inside for pictures.  Being that the dates on my albums are used solely to force them to be sorted alphabetically, that won't work.  I should try uploading an image just to see what happens.

Edit 2: Okay, I uploaded a random picture of Stocking from Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt that I found that happens to be 1600x1200, and it's not showing up.

Edit 3: Yeah, it's most likely got a hidden unconfigurable date threshhold.  The RSS feed for my Picasa account is fucked up since I messed with the album dates so they would sort alphabetically.  Each picture has its own upload date, but Picasa seems to cheerfully ignore that.  Useless.

Edit 4: I might as well link you to the image I uploaded.  Here you go.  Slightly NSFW, but when was the last time anyone cared about that?

Sunday, December 26, 2010

[subfiXT] Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt - 13

That was a hell of an episode.  Can't wait for more.

So I don't have to host as many redundant files, I'm going to remove all the single episode archives after a month or so.  Posts will be updated when that happens.

Just to recap for anyone who's just now discovering this: I got annoyed with various things in the Crunchyroll subtitles for Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt.  Fortunately, there are groups who rip the subs off of Crunchyroll and mux them to better raws.  Because of this, I was able to patch away all of my subtitle concerns, as well as fix a few errors in the subtitles while I was at it.

By now you're probably like "I know, I know, tell me how I can use these patches already!".  Download Underwater's releases of Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt.  Once all downloads have finished, for the easiest way possible to get my fixes, download the "All xdelta patches" archive from the links below.  Extract the archive into the directory you downloaded Underwater's P&S to, run "patch all.bat", and when it finishes, you'll have the fixed files.  Episodes 1 and 10 don't need any patching, so don't delete those, but you're free to delete the originals of 2 through 9 and 11 through 13.

A list of everything my patches change in the subtitles is included in the readme.txt file found in the archive.  Also, please reply to this post with constructive feedback.  My aim wasn't to improve translation accuracy so much as fix the occasional typo/omission and the things that annoyed me.

All xdelta patches | Episode 13 patch | All ass files | Episode 13 ass file


So yeah, Christmas.  Honestly, I didn't get much, but I didn't ask for much either.  I got some stuff I asked for that was both for pleasure and practicality, as well as things I didn't ask for but will enjoy anyway, so I guess I can't complain.
  • Various gift cards in varying money amounts despite me not asking for gift cards (I'd much prefer cash or a prepaid debit card)
  • A prepaid debit card (haven't actually received yet, my mom got confused somehow with the options presented to her)
  • Commander Keen 5-pack on Steam (haven't received yet, mom said to bug her about it) (She actually looked at the prices on Steam and said "I'll just buy you your entire wishlist." Win.)
  • Scott Pilgrim volumes 1-6 (sadly not the movie also, I'd love to re-watch it alone, as opposed to in a room of possibly non-sober people that see no reason to not talk during the fucking movie)
  • New warm fuzzy slippers, since the soles of my old ones were getting all crusty
  • Fluxx 4.0 and Zombie Fluxx 1.1
Now that that list is out of the way... a completely different subject.  You'll find that I'll be doing this a lot in this post.

I've been remuxing the Exiled-Destiny release of Lucky Star I mentioned a while back.  So far, only to change the default languages.  I need to do some experimentation to get chapters in.  The first barrier is figuring out where to put the chapters on the first episode, and the second barrier is seeing how reusable those timecodes are.  Then it's "how easily can I get all that into mkvmerge".  If I'm going to release my remuxes as patches, I don't plan on releasing them until after chapters are in.  I'm using a slightly different tag for this one ([remuXT] instead of [subfiXT] since I'm not really editing the subtitles at all).

For whatever reason I started playing around with redstone in Minecraft.  After building all the basic gates (not, and, or), I set out on an epic quest to make an xor gate, which failed horribly.  Then I found a video on YouTube of someone showing how to make an xor gate and his solution was a lot simpler than the one I'd been failing to get working.  I then proceeded to try and wire up some double doors with an xor gate and switches on both sides so that whenever the switches were different the doors would be open (this is what an xor gate does, it outputs high if only one of its two inputs is high, and low if they're the same).

Because I'm a n00b or something I couldn't get it working on both switches, only one of them.  Space was somewhat of a concern since I was basically mining out a hole in the ground to hold the circuit, and I kept having to modify it so I could pass one redstone wire over another without them connecting.  After trying a ton of slightly different setups and never getting both switches working, I said "fuck it", picked up all my redstone, filled in the hole, and removed the switches and doors.  Maybe I need to get a demo of it working somewhere, but in my singleplayer world I lack the secure space to run redstone wherever I need it.

Having gotten Fluxx, a game which is completely awesome and easily extensible, I started brainstorming and ended up with a semi-complete Minecraft expansion for Zombie Fluxx.  It still needs a bit of tweaking, mostly in the "interactions with existing Zombie Fluxx rules, actions, keepers, and goals" area, but in terms of interactions with itself it's pretty solid.  I used Zombie Fluxx as a base so I wouldn't have to create my own Zombie cards.  I simply add Skeletons, Spiders, and Creepers.  Adding Creepers is fun because it introduces ambiguity: Zombie Fluxx has a card type called "Creeper" that generally prevents you from winning and has some condition for moving around from player to player, as well as maybe some other condition that negatively affects your gameplay.  So I have a Creeper that's a Creeper.  All of my card descriptions currently say "Creeper (card type)" whenever necessary, since I know of no better way of disambiguating them.

I finally watched Suzumiya Haruhi no Shoushitsu.  It relates pretty heavily to the Bamboo Leaf Rhapsody episode from the second season.  Overall it was a really good movie and seeing the settings and characters in 720p was definitely better than watching a.f.k.'s 704x396 xvid/mp3 avi encodes.  I think I'd gotten used to seeing the color bleed or something, because it's really a lot sharper encoded in h264.  The added resolution only contributes, as a 704x396 h264 would invariably look better than xvid.  I re-watched Bamboo Leaf Rhapsody after the movie just to remind myself of what happened in it, since I'd mostly forgotten, and I understood bits of the movie a bit better after that.

It was actually snowing most of the day on Christmas here.  It didn't really accumulate until night time.  Of course, I didn't go outside at all so it doesn't really matter.  As long as the weather is decent enough for me to get to MAGFest, I'm fine.

In the store a couple weeks ago I saw the José Olé Taquitos next to the TGI Friday's section and upon main ingredient comparison determined that they were about the same thing as TGI Friday's Chicken Quesadilla Rolls, except a lot cheaper.  I grabbed a box thinking "hey, if they taste good enough, might as well save some money!".  Long story short, I'm getting José Olé Taquitos from now on.

Ending this post here.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

[subfiXT] Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt - 12

What an eventful episode.  Episode 13 (the last episode!) should be interesting.

While making the patch I discovered that I somehow fucked up the batch files for episode 11.  They're fixed now.  Sorry 'bout that.

Don't expect the next patch until Saturday afternoon.  Since Saturday's Christmas and all...

All xdelta patches | Episode 12 patch | All ass files | Episode 12 ass file

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Winter Anime Season

There's always so much indecision about what to watch, and something I would have been interested in always slips under my radar...  I guess it shows how usable these charts are for determining what you want to watch.  Oh and the chart comes from The Cart Driver.

There's some things I'll probably check out, but as for stuff I know I'm watching, guaranteed, there isn't much.  It's mostly DVD/BD specials.  In fact, it's entirely DVD/BD specials.

Monday, December 13, 2010


RELATED FUCKING POSTS: http://xt-8147.blogspot.com/2009/06/sleep-at-last.html

This time it was the valve under the kitchen sink.  You know, in my post about the last one I mentioned that the plumber said these fucking valves were ticking time bombs, right?  That's exactly what I told my dad.  His response: He got two valves replaced.  The one that had to be emergency-replaced, and the one on my toilet.  The plumber recommended replacement for the entire house.

We can go on like this if you want, dad.  It'll be the most expensive game of "I FUCKING TOLD YOU SO" ever.

Water's off, parents asleep, and the best part is both my parents need to shower when they get up.  Sucks to be them.

I've got two hours until my mom gets up, until then I get to dry the kitchen floor.

Further edits as events unfold.

Edit 1: well, dad made a temporary fix involving duct tape.  When they leave for work I'm going to turn the water off again just so I don't have to fucking worry and can get some goddamn sleep.

Edit 2: for whatever reason the plumber can't get here until Thursday.  So this duct tape fix has to last until whenever in the afternoon they feel like showing up.  At least this time my dad's going to spring for the full-house replacement.

Edit 3: and yes I already dropped the "aren't you glad I haven't moved out yet?" bomb.  If I hadn't been here, water would have been spewing into the kitchen (and leaking through into the basement... our house was constructed awesomely like that) for around 2.5 hours before anyone would have noticed.  So basically I saved us a ton of money by still living here and being awake at 2 AM.  Now to get my dad to realize that.

Edit 4: and then to find a job that pays well enough that I can move out so I never have to deal with my dad ever again.

Edit 5: the plumber showed up today and replaced the broken valve.  Apparently the other ones are a different size or something and couldn't be replaced today.

Edit 6 (December 27th): apparently the estimate the plumber gave for replacing all the other valves was unreasonable, and my dad, being an engineer and noticing it would be far cheaper to do it himself, is going to do it himself.  All an engineer needs to do anything is proper tools, the materials, and a general understanding of how it's done.  Pretty much why most engineers stay single longer, since love is not a system that one can learn and operate within.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

[subfiXT] Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt - 11

This episode introduced a new annoyance.  Fortunately there's only two more episodes left, so the probability we'll see it again is rather small.  Panty calls Stocking "Sto-chan" a couple times, and crunchyroll fagged it up to "Stockers".

Fun fact: this episode was the first one that I remembered to load up Aegisub and s/Stockin'/Stocking/g before watching.

All xdelta patches | Episode 11 patch | All ass files | Episode 11 ass file

Monday, December 6, 2010

Dr. Oetker Ristorante Pizza

I wouldn't have even bothered with this, but we got a checkout coupon and I figured "why the hell not?"

Looking at the varieties that Giant carries, I picked the one that looked the best on its picture: the Pizza Generosa.  The Mozzarella one just didn't look right, and who the fuck puts spinach on pizza?

Just looking at the package, it's kind of strange.  There's an upside down fork stuck into the middle of the slice of pizza.  To make it even more strange, the perspective is off.  Nobody stabs a piece of pizza with a fork to eat it.  Nobody.

Anyway, now that I'm done nitpicking about the box...  This may be the first frozen pizza I've found that has a reasonable oven cooking time, of 10-12 minutes at 425.  The directions actually specifically say to leave the pizza in the freezer while the oven is preheating.  Most instructions leave that part up to the person following them.  They use some weird symbols for different oven types, I'm not entirely sure what they're supposed to represent.  The most prominent one says 425, so that's the one I used.

The Pizza Generosa variety has pepperoni, various different colors of bell peppers, and onions.  All of their varieties appear to be thin crust, sadly, which may be contributing to the reasonable bake time.

Looking at the serving size, it appears as though they're six-piece people.  The serving size is a third of the pizza.  The pizza itself is quite small, only measuring 9.5 inches in diameter.

If there is tomato sauce on this pizza, it's undetectable.  The rest of the toppings seem good though.

Overall, I don't know if I'd get it again (I haven't been eating a lot of frozen pizza lately), but it's not too bad.

Sunday, December 5, 2010


It's about time I posted about the indie game that's taking the internet by storm: Minecraft!

Yeah, it really looks like that.

[subfiXT] Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt - 10

Easiest release ever.

No changes required, episode doesn't need patching.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Wikia sucks

In case anyone reading this doesn't know, Wikia is continuing a long-standing tradition among "web 2.0" websites: Completely changing their look and feel without any community consultation and ignoring all feedback.  In most cases the site is still usable, but with Wikia, it's clear that the change is all about the ads.

A lot of wikis are leaving Wikia because of this, and two of them happen to be GuildWiki and PvXwiki.  They've completed their moves, so I went through all my previous Guild Wars posts and updated all the links to point to the new sites.  Since Wikia staff are a bunch of dicks, the old sites still exist, but those versions should be less maintained and may completely change to fit the new style.

Wikia's method of running their site has always been a bit strange to me.  They've always been focused on adding all these stupid social networking features, like forums, blogs, user avatars, and transforming the watchlist into a "following" list that becomes public unless you turn it off.  Last I checked, a wiki was a collaborative documentation platform, not a social networking platform.

They went wrong with the new layout in a few ways.  First off, they forced it on everyone.  No exceptions, except if you're Uncyclopedia.  What, do they sleep with the people in charge?  Second, the new layout has a fixed content width that can't be changed at all.  The worst part is that the fixed width is a mere 680 pixels.  Remember when display resolutions were that small?  Yeah, didn't think so.  The third thing is the ads.  They float all over the place, overlapping page content, and generally being as obtrusive as possible.  I haven't experienced them myself due to the wonders of AdBlock Plus, but I've seen the screenshots.  The fourth and final thing is that they sprang this on everyone with relatively little time for any individual wiki that had issue with it to raise their issue only to have all their ideas shot down.

Now, any user can edit the site CSS via their userspace, after all, this is still MediaWiki.  In fact, that was their proposed solution when people rightly bitched about the tiny width.  So basically, a wiki's only recourse is to redesign every single page to conform to the new width and ad layout, and hope it still looks decent when overridden by user CSS.  Users can also set their skin to Monobook, the old MediaWiki default skin, which is far superior to any skin Wikia has shat out over the years.  But again, you can't have your wiki set to Monobook unless you're Uncyclopedia.

I'm too lazy to start up MSPaint to make a simple Venn diagram, so just imagine this.  There are two circles, one labelled Wikia, and the other labelled Common Sense.  The two don't overlap.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

[subfiXT] Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt - 09

Now this is more like it, timing-wise.

Next week's might be later (perhaps Sunday morning) since my regular weekly schedule resumes after Thanksgiving.

All xdelta patches | Episode 9 xdelta patch | All ass files | Episode 9 ass file

Thursday, November 25, 2010

[subfiXT] Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt - 08

Yeah, I know this is late.  Hopefully future releases will be more timely.

Download links:
All xdelta patches | Episode 8 xdelta patch | All ass files | Episode 8 ass file

I grabbed a torrent of a Lucky Star dvdrip and not only are the subs R1 subs, but they're only in SRT and vobsub.  Also, the files are dual audio and default to English audio with only sign subtitles.  I know I'll be remuxing so it'll default to Japanese with English subtitles, and I was thinking of restyling the subs and adding chapters.  Dunno if this will be a [subfiXT] release or not, but either way it won't happen for a while.

Friday, November 19, 2010

[subfiXT] Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt

I got annoyed enough at some of the stuff in the crunchyroll subs that everyone seems to be using for Panty & Stocking to fix the scripts myself and make patches available for anyone else who's annoyed.

The primary thing that annoys me is that pretty much every time Panty refers to Stocking by name, instead of subtitling it as Stocking they subtitled it as Stockin'.

The other thing that annoyed me is quite probably specific to the group whose CR rips I'm downloading, Underwater.  Episode 6 had a line of dialogue missing, that was present in the CR subs.  I took the opportunity to add it back in.  I know it was there because every week we watch it on CR at a friend's place.

How did I do all this?  It's simple really.  You need Aegisub for loading the script from the .mkv and editing it, and mkvmerge to remux the .mkv with the edited subtitles in place of the original subtitle track.  To make the patches, xdelta3 is used.  Coincidentally, xdelta3 both makes and applies the patches.

Fortunately, as I said above, I've already made the patches.  Since it's just a script change, a relatively small portion of the file is different from the original, and thus a patch is far easier to distribute than the full modified file.  Let alone the six of the (currently) seven episodes out currently that needed fixing.  Episode 1 needed no fixes at all, and episode 6 wouldn't have needed any if it weren't for the missing line of dialogue.

I unfortunately don't have any comparison screenshots, but if you've been putting up with the way it was, you won't need to hunt and peck for the changes.  That and I'm kind of a completionist and as such would need to screencap from crunchyroll to complete the screenshot comparison for episode 6, but I really don't feel like going there to try and see if I can load it up without having to part with money.

I'm aware that episode 8 comes out later today.  The archives linked to below obviously won't contain any necessary script fixes for it until after I download it and see what needs fixing.  I guess this'll be a weekly thing where I post the patch for each episode as needed.  Even though honestly I don't want to have separate archives for each week, it'd possibly be annoying to have to re-download all the patches just to get the one you're interested in.

Here are the download links.  I offer you two varieties of fixes:
[Download] xdelta3 patches: download patch, patch files, delete originals, you're good to go, forever (xdelta3 included in archive for convenience)
[Download] .ass files: less time-consuming up-front, but if your player sucks and won't load them with the video it might not work.  Also not a permanent fix.

Those archives will be expanded as necessary to include the rest of the fixes.

As for the tag I chose, [subfiXT], it's "subfixed" changed to have XT in it.  But you knew that.

Also, don't count on me doing this for any other series, whether past, present or future.  I'll only do this for a series if I'm watching it and I'm annoyed by some part of the subtitles.  Edit: No guarantee on timeliness either.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Playing Around With the 2010 Guild Wars Halloween Costumes

I know this is late.  For monetary reasons that ended up not actually existing, I didn't buy the 2010 Halloween Costume set from the in-game store until mid-afternoon yesterday.  So, let's play with costumes, shall we?

That picture is a screenshot I took during the very first Halloween event, all the way back in 2005.  I actually used it as a wallpaper for a while.  Playing with costumes after the break.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Wallpaper Update

The first one in quite a while!  This one is taking a different approach though.  Here, instead of having a lot of wallpapers from a few series, I have a few wallpapers from a lot of series.  Let's get to it, shall we?

Yeah, I know it's smaller than the last several.  I'm not saving wallpapers at nearly the rate I once was.  Also, a lot of images that aren't actually a standard wallpaper resolution but are suitably high enough in resolution have crept in recently, because I hate having to crop stuff out of a picture to make it a proper resolution.  I've done that with wallpapers in the past, and I'm kind of regretting that now.

The two Squid Girl wallpapers are actually screencaps from the anime.  They're both from the sponsor screens that show after the OP and ED.  Yeah, they really look that good.  It's like they were meant to be wallpapers.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Fate/Unlimited Codes

Fate/Unlimited Codes is a 3D fighter based on Fate/Stay Night.  While the graphics and stages are 3D, it plays much more like a 2D fighter with sidestepping added.  The camera normally stays in a fixed point of view, but moves in for throws, supers, and anything else worth adding a bit more cinematic quality to, which is actually pretty damn cool.  It makes the gameplay a little less boring when the camera moves to show you how awesome the move you just inputted is.

The graphics are great and the animation is extremely fluid.  The characters are generally easy enough to pick up, though people new to the game may want to use Saber first, just because she's the most straightforward.  I haven't actually settled on a character yet, though I have played everyone, even the three unlockable characters.

If you're familiar at all with the visual novel or the anime (or the Unlimited Blade Works movie), you'll of course recognize pretty much everything.  I'll just leave this here: it takes a lot of time and dedication, but you can actually use Unlimited Blade Works.

The primary method of unlocking things in this game is completing Arcade mode.  Survival mode unlocks after a few times through Arcade mode (I forgot to count), and a few things are unlockable via Survival mode.

At the end of Arcade mode, while the credits are rolling, press a button other than start and you can play a minigame during the credits.  Skeletons will run in and attack Illyasviel.  She blocks, but to get the counter to go up, you'll need to hit your parry button (X by default).  Consistently parrying at the right time makes the counter go up faster.  If you want to play this in a more repeatable fashion, unlock and play Berserker's EX mission.

The game has a mission mode, which I can kind of follow but after a bit I get lost in trying to figure out what the hell it wants me to do in whichever mission, since the instructions are in Japanese.  Some of the missions are just crazy, like requiring you to perform a long combo, but others are much simpler.

Also available is Watch mode, which basically lets you set up a fight and let the CPU battle itself.  Protip: turn the difficulty up before going into this mode if you don't want to be bored to death.  Just remember to put it back where you had it when you're done.

It bears a few similarities to the Melty Blood series, which kind of makes sense seeing as how they're both Type-Moon games.  I won't delve very deep into the mechanics, but the magic circuit gauge works pretty much the same as in Melty Blood.  The way it does its supers is different though.

It probably goes without saying, since pretty much all Japanese fighting games have this in common, but the game is fairly import friendly.  All the menus are in English.  You'll only need to know maybe one Japanese word (or at least recognize the symbols, even if you don't know what they mean) to make your save file (select はい and press circle when you start the game up, then go into the options and turn on auto save), but that's the same for any other import game, and once you turn on auto save, it becomes less of an issue.  Also, as always, Circle is confirm and X is cancel.

Overall, Fate/Unlimited Codes is a pretty solid and fun fighting game.

I've reorganized this post slightly.  Information about the unlockables is now after the break.  If all you want to read is the review, you don't need to click "Read More".

An Exercise in Hilarity

Also known as: Fall Season Anime Post. Or, A Rant on CrunchyRoll Subs.

I know I've posted about them before, but here... Just the funny ones.  Which really, since Index 2 has had some funny moments with all the nuns lately, it should be here as well, but whatever.

Panty & Stocking has been funny since the beginning, but the first episode I had to watch again was episode 3, solely for its second half.  The color scheme, the imagery, the metaphor they're drawing...  I was laughing the moment I realized when I saw it the first time.  At first I was like "wait... no, really? really?" but then I was like "lolololololololololololololololololol".  Episode 4 was great too.  I dunno how much liberties crunchyroll are taking with the subtitles (and sadly, the only releases I can find are CR rips, though thankfully with better sub styling and typesetting), but the reference to that AnimeJunkies Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex subtitle was hilarious.  It fits with what had happened earlier, but I dunno...

Shinryaku! Ika Musume has been one laugh after another since the first episode.  Thankfully here, there's a group (that's right, one. One group.) releasing real fansubs instead of waiting out crunchyroll's 5-day delay between airing and when they release.  Thank you, FFFpeeps.  I've seen the CR subs, and I don't like them.  They modify their translation for every single squid pun, and seeing the word "squid" portmanteau'd with a random word every other line gets old quickly.  Anyway, what else can I say?  Every episode has been hilarious.  Oh wait, I already said that.

Seriously though, I don't like CR's subs in general.  They put no effort into typesetting or making them readable at a distance.  If there's a light background, they're very difficult to read.  Also, they don't translate the opening and ending songs.  And people pay money for this?  Suckers.

Fortunately, the last series I'm going to talk about in this post actually has multiple real groups releasing it.  That would be Ore no Imouto.

The premise is interesting enough, that a guy finds out that his little sister, who is good in school and is popular and seemingly as normal as one can get, is in fact a massive otaku.  Every episode has been exploring various bits of being into anime, manga, eroge, and so forth.  After what happened at the end of the fourth episode, I honestly can't wait for the fifth.  The episodes are starting to link together in ways other than the overarching story.  It's been pretty funny too, perhaps not as funny as the other two series I'm mentioning here, but it's definitely in the comedy area of things.

So yeah.  Shinryaku! Ika Musume is the most consistently funny show I'm watching this season, by far.

Also, if you've been watching my twitter thing over on the right you may have noticed me talking about Fate/Unlimited Codes...  I'm working on a post about that.  There's one more thing I'd like to comment on that needs to be unlocked, once I have that I'll finalize the post.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Followup: Melty Blood: Actress Again

Original post: http://xt-8147.blogspot.com/2009/12/melty-blood-actress-again.html

There's only one reason I'd follow that post up: I now have Archetype:Earth Arcueid unlocked.  I'm not entirely sure how I did it, either.  I'd been fruitless at my attempts to beat Boss Rush without continues (even setting the difficulty all the way down, the damage all the way up, and doing nonstop beamspam with Neko-Arc), and I wasn't about to beat Arcade Mode with all characters.  I just turned the game on and there she was, like she'd been unlocked.  So yes, I saved.

This means I can now comment on Eclipse style.

Eclipse style: Basically, it's the "boss" style.  While it doesn't give you infinite Magic Circuit, it does generate it pretty quickly.  Also, on a successful EX-Shield, there's an automatic counterattack, just like in Half-Moon style, but the rest of the style's mechanics are like Crescent Moon style.

Through what I can only assume is a glitch, you can play with Archetype:Earth Arcueid in Crescent Moon style as well.  If you select her via the Random Character selection, she'll come up in Crescent Moon style.  Her move list is different and completely hidden.  A fair number of her sprites for Crescent Moon style also don't have proper transparency, which only contributes to thinking of this as a glitch.

You can only use Crescent Moon style and Eclipse style with her, and once you have her in Crescent Moon style, if you reselect her without moving your cursor, she'll still be in Crescent Moon style.  Moving the cursor away and back resets the glitch and will give you Eclipse style.  I guess this is good for the sake of Vs. mode, since Eclipse style is kind of overpowered.

Upon further inspection, she seems to have regular Arcueid's move list in Crescent Moon style.  So expect a similar gameplay experience when using her in Crescent Moon style.

Monday, October 18, 2010

My thoughts on this Guild Wars survey

A while back they had a survey about War in Kryta, and I made damn sure to fill it out to voice my discontent.  The results were posted earlier today and I'm not entirely pleased, though overall it skews in a direction I like.

I'll provide my responses to each question and then try to give some sort of constructive reasoning for why I feel the way I do.  As much as I really want to just type "holy fuck this shit was too fucking difficult" over and over, everyone's heard that and constructive criticism goes over much more favorably.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Slider Wars

I was at Giant today picking up some stuff and noticed TGI Friday's Anytime Sliders.  While my preference is definitely White Castle, I figured I'd give 'em a try.

So how do they stand up?

White Castle
  • 6 to a package, wrapped in twos
  • Cooking directions for two at once
  • Thin patty, mostly bun
  • Buns are soft once heated
  • No extra sauce packet or anything
  • Remove from wrapping before heating
TGI Friday's
  • 4 to a package, individually wrapped
  • Cooking directions are only for one
  • Thick patty, less bun
  • Buns tough when heated
  • Two sauce packets, and a paper tray that the instructions never mention
  • Heat in wrapping and remove afterwards
As for the taste, well, the sauce combined with the thicker patty weighs heavily in favor of TGI Friday's.  However, the overall ease of heating and eating award goes to White Castle.  Combine that with the fact that you get six from White Castle compared to four from TGI Friday's, and White Castle is the winner.

Let's face it: nobody eats just one slider.  That's why they're so small in the first place.  White Castle used to have cooking directions for an entire box, but those have disappeared somewhat recently and they only advise you to cook two at a time now.

The paper tray mystifies me.  It's the right size to hold two of the sliders.  You know, the ones you're only supposed to heat one at a time.  The serving size is also just one.  Don't they pay attention to how people actually eat sliders?  The serving size should at the very least match White Castle's, which is two.

Also, with the sauce, messiness becomes a factor.  White Castle's sliders are only messy if you add messy stuff to them.  Basically, don't eat these without a napkin nearby, and be prepared for sauce drips, because they will happen.

As far as instructions go, they have the already much-ranted-about "make sure they're 165°F before eating" note, and a useless "Caution: food may be hot after microwaving" warning.  Of course it's going to be hot.  I just put it in a 1200 watt microwave for 50 seconds.  If it isn't hot, there's something wrong with the microwave.  Also, the flavor packet didn't pack nearly as much of a punch as it's made out to.  It's just oversweetened BBQ sauce...

The fact that you have to take a piping hot slider out of a plastic bag is just crazy.  What were you thinking, TGI Friday's?

In summary: Just stick with White Castle.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Fall season kicks off.

I'm organizing this post in a very specific manner because what I actually want to post in regards to one series is sort of long-winded compared to the rest.

The only series I went into this season knowing I wanted to watch was To Aru Majutsu no Index 2 (A Certain Magical Index 2).  Having watched Index on a friend's recommendation and then following up with all of Railgun as it came out, it basically goes without saying that I'm watching this.

The first series I didn't know I'd be watching is Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt.  I've described it before, but it's basically Gainax parodying American animation.  It's been pretty funny so far, and I'll continue watching it.

Another series I picked up is Shinryaku! Ika Musume (Invasion! Squid Girl).  I'd heard that it was supposed to be funny, so I watched the first episode, and yeah, now I'm watching it.

If you're paying attention, you'll realize that's three rather short descriptions, and you may be thinking "XT, don't you always say you run into issues with watching more than three series in a season?"  Well, yeah.  I do.  However, I only run into those issues because for whatever reason I put off watching things.  It's the same exact reason why my backlog got so huge and why I never realized, even though I knew the time requirements very well, that I could marathon something in my backlog either overnight or in a couple days depending on its length.

Anyway, the final series is Ore no Imouto.  I don't really feel like typing out the full title, but it's My Little Sister Can't Be This Cute!  It's gotten a couple of my friends talking about various issues surrounding being an anime fan in a world that kind of looks down upon us, and while my story isn't as involved or screenshot-supported as theirs, I still feel like posting it.

I got into anime in high school, when my friends and I discovered it.  My friends and I were basically the people that hung out together because nobody else would hang out with us, and we didn't really know of any social stigma at the time, so we didn't even think about it.  We got in pretty much the same way everyone else did in America back then: mainstream shounen anime on Cartoon Network.  Basically, Dragonball Z, Gundam Wing, Tenchi, and Outlaw Star.

Going off to college really only furthered our discovery of what was out there.  For a variety of reasons, one of my friends and I both left our respective colleges after one semester and came back to Charlottesville.  He discovered that UVa had a comics and animation club and that they welcomed non-student members, so we went to a meeting, and didn't stop coming back after that.

At this point you may realize that my group of high school friends basically all went their separate ways after graduating.  I kept in contact with a couple of them, but one drifted offHell, I even lost the other for a while.  So for almost the entire past decade, the anime club at UVa has really been my only source of friends.  I do have friends outside the club, but most of my friends are anime club friends.

Funny thing about being a "townie" and having friends at a university: the age gap increases over time.  So basically, whenever I'm in a meeting or at any other activity taking place on grounds, I feel like "that creepy townie".  I'm basically the third oldest member of the club.  I feel especially awkward at the first meeting every fall semester, when we have the same meeting every single other club at UVa has: go around the room and introduce yourselves.  I generally always make sure to not be the first townie to introduce myself.

As far as social stigma goes, that's pretty much all gone for me at this point.  Almost.  There's a certain subsection of the club (who shall remain nameless) that continues to make fun of people's tastes (often behind their back, or unwittingly in their company as is the case with me) when they're not "normal", but for the most part, the majority of the club maintains a very open atmosphere that I'm comfortable with.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Bosses, Weapons, and Dragons (oh my!)

After a randomly long period of time not playing Secret of Mana, I picked it up again.  A couple nights ago actually, but that was just weapon level grinding.

Continuing that into my most recent session, I now have everything level 5 except the gloves, axe, and javelin.  I have them forged with their fifth orbs, I just haven't gone around killing things to level them up.  Also, for whatever reason, the whip is now one level ahead of everything else, so it's forged with its sixth orb.

Elementals are at level 4.  I'd better get two more pretty soon if they're going to keep up with the weapons...

Story-wise, I killed my way through the area to the northwest of Empire Northtown, and then killed my way through the castle in Empire Northtown.  There were several bosses, but they were all pretty easy.  Just chain-cast level 4 Exploder with the sprite and use Faerie Walnuts as needed.  Most of the bosses I fought either didn't have a specific elemental weakness or were weak to one I don't have yet.

Once I defeated the Mech Rider 2 atop the castle, I finally got my world map transport: Flammie the dragon.  I then proceeded to get massively lost, as when you're flying on Flammie there aren't any labels to tell you where things are, you just have to feel around in the dark.  I guess you could eventually get used to the world map layout, but having textual labels would be nice.

After finding my way, I tried to land in Potos for fun, only to have the game put me down outside it, just next to the guy whose only purpose in life is to prevent you from getting back in.  However, now that I have Flammie, I can use the glitch to get back in whenever I want (and just call Flammie when I want to leave).  It's pretty simple, you hold up and mash select.  You'll move up a tiny little bit every time you press select, and eventually you'll be back in the town.  This was apparently fixed in the European version of the game (by way of adding a dialog box that shows up when you get close enough, it's still possible to glitch your way in, but it's harder).  I lol'd that the people in Potos will still interact with you and that you can still stay at the inn.  I saved there just for the lulz, then called Flammie and got lost again.

After realizing I was headed in the total wrong direction from King Truffle's place, I found the Lofty Mountains (which so very helpfully aren't labelled on the world map that's on GameFAQs).  You know, that parenthetical statement brings up a pretty good point.  Secret of Mana is not nearly as thoroughly documented as Chrono Trigger is.  The stuff on GameFAQs is missing a few things, whereas if you look at GameFAQs' Chrono Trigger section, practically everything you'd ever want to know about the game (and then some) is sitting right there.

So basically I'm ready to go into the Palace of Darkness.  I guess I'll level up the weapons that need levelling up here.  Since I now have world map travel, part of me wants to find the best armor that you can actually buy (the absolute best stuff is only available as drops) and see if I can outfit my entire party with it now, just to save money.

I do believe I'm overlevelled, which means that the game really wasn't designed for you to try to have everything as powerful as possible at any given time.  I haven't been specifically grinding experience at all, just weapon and elemental levels.  From this I've gotten a lot of experience and a lot of money.  The FAQ I'm following basically calls each armor upgrade expensive and says "get it if you have the money".  Well, I've never had to worry about that.  The amount of money gained while levelling up weapons and elementals is more than enough to cover each next set of armor and the next weapons' forging costs.  If it's wrong to be level 49 (and pretty close to level 50) at the point in the game I'm at, I think I'll enjoy being wrong.

Yet Another Anime Season

No fancy chart this time around, I don't feel like getting it and uploading it.

This season I really only planned to watch To Aru Majutsu no Index 2 (A Certain Magical Index 2), but somehow Ore no Imouto ga Konnani Kawaii Wake ga Nai (My Little Sister Can't Be This Cute!) snuck in there.  Since you'll need to have seen Index to really follow Index 2, I guess I'll just elaborate on Ore no Imouto.

Despite what you might infer from its name, it's not an ecchi show.  I mean, for that subject, we already have Kiss x Sis, right?  Rather, it's about a guy who discovers that his little sister, who does well in school and is popular and so forth, is secretly a massive otaku.  To make things even more fun, their parents are basically prejudiced against anyone into anime/manga/etc.

Index 2 hasn't aired yet, and only one episode of Ore no Imouto has aired, so there's not really a lot I can say.

Also, I watched Fate/Stay Night Unlimited Blade Works.  The exposition covers some things the anime covers, but in less detail, then it gets on to its own stuff, which is pretty awesome.  We find out who Archer is (as in, his real name, which is of course a spoiler).  Overall, if you liked the anime, you should like the movie.  Of course, if you've played the visual novel, then chances are you pretty much know what's going to happen, as Unlimited Blade Works is one of the routes in it.  I haven't played the visual novel, so I don't know much more about it than that.

Maybe next season (winter season) we'll get the last Negima OAV episode?

Edit: Oh and add Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt to the list.  It's a pretty funny show, with an animation style more like Powerpuff Girls.  So similar that Jhonen Vasquez had to comment on it.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

OK seriously fuck this traffic light

I mentioned it briefly in vague terms a long time ago, but there's a traffic light in UVa grounds that's just fucked up.

During the day it's fine.  But overnight it refuses to turn green on the side road.

For anyone reading this who knows the area, it's the traffic light at the JPA/Brandon Ave. intersection.

Leaving Bice earlier this morning, I wanted to turn left to drop friends off at their dorm.  I pull up to the light, and naturally being the law-abiding citizen I am, I stop since it's red.  There's a nice sign that says "no right turn on red" at this intersection, but whatever, I'm turning left.

We sit there.

And sit there.

And sit there some more.

Then I realize I'm wasting fuel and turn the car off.

Then we sit there some more.

And some more.

And some more.  I don't know how long we sat there, but it felt like an eternity.

Meanwhile, the number of cars that have driven through the intersection on JPA can be counted on one hand.  This is around 5 AM, mind you.  There are zero pedestrians, because nobody with common sense would be out walking around at 5 AM when it's really cold.

We finally get tired of sitting there (and it's really cold), so I turn the car back on and turn right (on red).  I go down to the next side road and u-turn, then we proceed back on our merry way.  I drop my friends off, then go back through this very intersection on my way home.  As far as I know, the light never turned red for JPA.

This light turned green for me as recently as YESTERDAY FUCKING MORNING AROUND THE SAME GODDAMN TIME.  But in the past, it's done this a lot more often.

What the hell?  Traffic light fail.

This is what having a traffic light go into blinking mode is for.  It should blink yellow along JPA and red for Brandon Ave.  This would basically turn it into a stop sign for Brandon Ave. (and technically speaking, a yield sign for JPA) and fix the issue entirely.

Friday, October 1, 2010


I've seen these things on the frozen aisle for a while now, but for whatever reason never picked up a package.  But Giant threw me for a loop by having basically nothing that I usually get in stock, so I got a bunch of random stuff and decided to grab a box.

First off, is Tequeños even a real Spanish word?  I popped it into Google Translate in both plural and singular form, and it draws a blank in both places, so I'm going to lean towards no.

They're pretty simple.  It's cheese wrapped in dough.  Basically a Mexican miniature mozzarella stick, except the cheese in use is only listed as "queso blanco", which just translates to "white cheese" (hey, high school Spanish is coming in handy, who'd'a thought?).  Maybe it's just a fancy name for a Mexican mozzarella cheese, I dunno.

They bill themselves on the front of the box as having "No Trans Fats", but the ingredients list includes two partially hydrogenated oils, so they're lying.

The inner packaging is ballin' out of 1990.  Seriously, styrofoam?  Did they take a lecture from BP on environmentally friendly business practices?

The directions are simple, but with a slight quirk.  Preheat oven to 450°, then turn down to 425°, bake for 12 minutes, turning them over after 6 minutes if you care about aesthetics.  Then, of course, let 'em cool down for a few minutes so you won't burn your mouth off trying to eat them.  See that phrase I boldfaced?  Yeah, that definitely isn't boldfaced in the instructions.  I missed it entirely, and it's probably the reason why every single one of mine burst open.

The box says they're made with artisan dough, but really, the dough tastes about as plain as anything normal.  The cheese is good though, and melts quite well.

The serving size is pretty darn small.  They expect you to only eat two of them.  I guess they're more intended to be made as snacks for a party or something.  But who the hell serves frozen foods as party snacks?

It's suggested on the back of the box that you dip them in something.  I broke out a jar of Tostito's Chunky Salsa, Medium level.  They're definitely better that way than plain.

Overall, I'd have to say...  meh.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Update: X-Mouse Button Control

Original post: http://xt-8147.blogspot.com/2010/03/x-mouse-button-control.html

I don't know when exactly it happened (the changelog doesn't have any dates), but X-Mouse Button Control has been updated (twice!) since I wrote my review of it, and the first update added the layer-switching hotkeys I'd been looking forward to.

I now have version 1.51 installed.  Not a heck of a lot has changed functionality or layout-wise, it's mostly new features and bugfixes.  I quickly enabled the Layer Modifiers in the settings and set it to switch to layer 2 while I'm holding Ctrl.  Then I went through and made sure layer 2 was configured for everything I've set it up with.  The only change so far has been to my layout for Steam: in layer 1 it uses the defaults, but in layer 2 my double click button is replaced with my push to talk button.

Immediately sidetracking myself, there's a Steam update I'd like to see.  Specifically, relating to the Steam overlay hotkey.  The default (Shift + Tab) works for most non-Steam games I've added, but conflicts with a couple of them.  I changed it to Shift + F12, which resolves the conflict with Guild Wars, but still conflicts with EDuke32 as EDuke32 will see I'm pressing Shift and go into walk mode, and then when I leave the overlay I miss a jump and die due to not moving fast enough.  The feature I'm asking for is simple: there should be a way to override the overlay hotkey on a game-specific basis.

Anyway, back to X-Mouse Button Control.  I think my opinion of it is rather obvious, given that I use it every day whenever I'm at my computer.  So "the verdict" will be about the changes.  But first, a feature wish that came up while I was reconfiguring.

Perhaps a good feature for the future would be a way to easily duplicate one layer to another, so you can build on that base if you need to.  I would have appreciated that as most of my config changes were simply duplicating layer 1 to layer 2 so my trackball would continue to function as expected with the modifier key held in applications that I have no specific need for layers in, which I don't even know if it was necessary.

The Verdict: Great software got even better.  I look forward to having the GUI for configuring scroll wheel compatibility.  Then we get to see if I can use that to force scroll wheel functionality into Windows 3.1 for the lulz.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Akamatsu is Awesome

Normally when an author recycles things from an older story of theirs into a newer one, it sucks.  But Akamatsu Ken seems to be able to make it awesome.

Spoilers herein for Negima chapter 303, and also possibly Love Hina (if anyone can still be spoiled on that).  So if you're behind on Negima (and intend to catch up), you may not want to read this post.  I'll add a jump break here for convenience.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Anime: streaming vs. torrents

I periodically get asked by an online friend of mine why I don't stream anime when American licensing companies release it in that manner.  I have a lot of thoughts on the subject (more than I could feasibly type into IRC), so I wrote this post.

Streaming anime is a relatively new thing.  Rights holders are really only beginning to embrace the internet.  Torrents have been around for a while, DCC from IRC has been around even longer, and if you want to get technical, getting VHSes in the mail (for only media+shipping costs, they made a point of never charging more than that so there would be no profit) was the original way to get anime in America.

I've watched a few episodes of anime streamed, back when Shikabane Hime was coming out and there was some confusion about sub groups since it was licensed two episodes in.  What I got paled in comparison to even the crappiest fansub.  Here's a bulleted list.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Fuck Football

It's another fall semester, and since football games are for some reason scheduled on the same day as CAINE's showings, it means that it's (entirely randomly!) extremely difficult for me to get to them.

Whether or not I can get to them depends solely on the kickoff time.  Ideally UVa should schedule these games as early as possible (10 AM kickoffs at the latest, no TV games) so as to not conflict with the vastly more important anime club showings.  And no, that's not sarcasm.

Sports, as much as you may or may not like them, are entirely superfluous.  Some would argue that watching television shows is also superfluous, but at least there you have variety and don't always have to watch grown men of questionable sexual orientation wearing tights and trying to wrestle each other to the ground.  I mean, if you want that, there's plenty of sports-related anime to choose from, with generally better action to boot.

Both football and our showings exist solely for entertainment of their respective attendees.  The only difference is, one is vastly overrated: Football.

I especially hate how the City of Charlottesville acts about it.  Football is the only thing that happens.  Nobody does anything on gameday other than watch football.  There's no other plausible reason anyone would ever need to be in the vicinity of the stadium.  If you're there on gameday, obviously you're there for the game, regardless of the truth or anything you say.  You are presumed guilty and not given the opportunity to prove yourself innocent.

Look, Charlottesville.  I don't care about football.  Your traffic direction is getting better, but still lacks respect to local traffic.  People have non-football places they need to go, and may not have time to cope with the random street and left turn blockages.

I just want to attend showings every week and watch anime with my friends.  What I don't want to have to do is miss hanging out with my friends and then be forced to catch up in everything we're watching.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Secret of Mana-thon

I've gotten a good ways farther now.  Fortunately, I haven't encountered another situation like when I went from the starting area to the upper lands and struggled to survive.  Grinding weapons and elementals gets you a ton of money, so any time I make it to a new area I have way more than enough money to upgrade to the best equipment available.  Essentially, I've gotten to the point where money is no object.

I finished up my business in the upper lands and took a cannon ride to the desert.  Got captured, tricked idiotic guards into releasing me, defeated a guy on a landspeeder easily (wait for him to come on screen, cast Thunderbolt, wail on him with other characters until he leaves, repeat), and got into Kakkara proper.  Fun thing about Kakkara, the only thing to do when you get there, other than getting new armor, is cannon travel to the Ice Country.  So I did both.

Ice Country was a great place to grind, and boy did I ever need to grind.  You get most of the level 4 weapon orbs there.  Seemingly defying all sense of logic, the Ice Country is where you get the Fire elemental, Salamando.  After that, you venture to the Ice Palace and get, you guessed it, the Fire Mana Seed.  I did both, and ground Salamando up to level 3 on both the girl and the sprite.

Returned to Kakkara, placed the Fire Mana Seed in its resting spot, and activated it so I could get its power.  I haven't actually levelled the elementals up to level 4 yet, but I'll take care of that next time I play.  By the way, the boss at the end of the Fire Palace was pathetically easy.  I don't know if I was overlevelled or what, but I went in with the sprite having a max MP of 32.  The whole place is fire-themed, so naturally everything in it is weak to ice, right?

Well, Undine's Freeze happens to have the chain-casting mechanic.  Cast Freeze on an enemy, then just after the elemental disappears, you can cast it again.  And again.  And again.  Done correctly, you won't see any damage numbers until you stop casting.  Well, I got to a point where even though the boss was still targetable (he couldn't exactly move while I was casting Freeze over and over again), and I had enough MP, it wouldn't let me cast Freeze again.  I backed out of the menu and the boss died.  Easiest boss ever.

After that, you find out that Kakkara still doesn't have any water, so for whatever reason it's off to The Empire by way of cannon travel.  Man, when am I going to get a better method of world map travelling than shooting myself out of a cannon?  I rescued the white dragon, and King Truffle said he'd raise it...  When can I go back and get my transportation?

Anyway, I got to the Empire, and decided to grind the last two weapons I needed to be level 4, the Axe and the Javelin.  Fortunately, sneaking in through the resistance's sewer passage, I encountered some Blue Drops.  The thing about these is that if you don't kill them quickly enough, they divide.  Annoying when you just want to get through an area, but very handy for levelling up.  When you get down to just one, stop and let it divide back up to three, and resume killing.

So now I'm in the Empire's Northtown, with the best equipment available to me at the moment (Frosty Ring x3, Tiger Suit x2, Tiger Bikini x1, Tiger Cap x3), and the only thing I need to do before continuing the story is levelling up all four elementals to level 4 on both the girl and the sprite.  The girl has a little progress in that respect on Undine, since I use Cure Water periodically.  Everyone is level 41 and I'm rolling in cash.

According to the FAQ I'm following just because I don't know the game like the back of my hand as I do Chrono Trigger, I'm just past the halfway point in the game.  This would make sense given that I have level 4 weapons and can get level 4 elementals, and they only go up to 8 (well, technically the weapons go to 9, but it'll say 8:99 in the menu instead of 9: 0).

I really do wish I had friends who were interested in playing this game with me, as it would definitely make some parts easier.  Secret of Mana, like the Tales series, is part of an extremely small minority in video games: the cooperative offline role-playing game.  It's a very good concept, and it's a shame that more developers haven't done games like it.  Fortunately, the game's Virtual Console version supports the three-player mode, so if you have a Wii and the points (and some interested friends), well, there you go.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Chrono Fever on hold

Yes, technically I was going to play Radical Dreamers.  I actually started it up and got pretty far before losing horribly to Lynx and having to start over because I forgot to save state.

Anyway, a while back I started playing Secret of Mana, got a little bit into the game (two elementals, some level two weapons), and then for whatever reason forgot to continue playing.  I think rather than me forgetting to play, it was more like I was thinking "well, every time I start up Secret of Mana, 10 hours pass by without me realizing it" and trying to fit it in with everything else I do.

Earlier tonight I started it up, figured out where I was supposed to go, and continued.  Every time I got a new weapon orb, I stopped, got the new weapon forged, and ground it up a level on everyone before continuing eith the story.

Eventually I got sent to the upper lands.  Everything there initially was kicking my ass, which was interesting because I was overlevelled for the areas I'd been in up to that point.  Anyway, I managed to get going, with the help of every single Cup of Wishes I had (they're the resurrection item).  Defeated a giant mutant chicken in a few casts of Earth Slide, then got to the Wind Palace where I could finally talk to someone and get healed.  Now that I had a base to work from, I got as many levels as I could while grinding up some level 3 weapons and all three elementals that I have available.

This brings us to the present.  My characters are level 26, all three of them have all weapons except the Javelin at level 3, and both the girl and the sprite have Undine, Gnome, and Sylphid at level 3.  I can survive long enough to move several screens, which is my indicator that it's time to progress with the story.

The higher level weapons are really neat.  In addition to, you know, dealing more damage, they do different things to the enemy.  The level 3 spear puts Balloon on the enemy (Balloon is the paralysis status effect, mega-useful), the level 3 gloves put enemies to sleep, and a couple of them slow enemies down.  I mean, I could cast Balloon, but why bother when I can inflict it for free by whacking something with a spear?

Monday, September 20, 2010

Advanced Renamer

I realize now that I mentioned Advanced Renamer in passing a while back, but never made a post specifically about it.

We've all been there before.  You have a directory full of files and need to rename every single one.  Not anything drastic, but just simply reordering parts of each file name or replacing certain characters with other characters.  The last thing you want to do is rename each one individually.  That takes forever and is extremely repetitive.  This is where Advanced Renamer comes in.  Simply select the files, tell it how you want them renamed, and then hit Start Batch.  That's it.  Here's a screenshot of its interface.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Backlog almost gone

I really should be going to sleep, but I felt the need to type this.

I marathonned all of Rozen Maiden overnight.  This brings my backlog down to the following:
  • Kiss x Sis OAV (4 episodes) and TV series (13 episodes) - Waiting for the last Blu-ray release of the TV series to come out
  • Sekirei (12 episodes), Sekirei OAV (1 episode), Sekirei ~Pure Engagement~ (13 episodes, still airing) - Have Blu-ray of the first season and the OAV, waiting on ~Pure Engagement~ Blu-rays
  • Shingetsutan Tsukihime (12 episodes) - lol
  • Gundam Unicorn episode 1
Yeah, it's really that small.  LOL THAT'S WHAT SHE SAID

I'm re-watching Sekirei's first season because it's been so long I have no clue what was happening at the end of it.  I do remember that the OAV was 10 minutes and didn't advance the plot, though.

Being that I'm waiting on Blu-rays for two things, I guess next up are the two I'm not waiting on the Blu-rays for.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Tales of Fridays?

So, for whatever reason, nobody's been around to play Tales for the past couple of Fridays.  The few of us that have been there have been playing the Scott Pilgrim XBLA game.  I've ground two characters up to max level and stats now, which I have to do by myself because when I play with other people I seem to get the short end of the stick.  100 speed is way too fast, especially when hyper mode is on.  All I need to do is get them to level 6 and buy the hidden move...

I haven't been doing my grinding in the most efficient way possible either.  Basically, I grind money and use the hidden store in Level 1.  Yeah, I haven't been paying off Scott's late fees.  Two bionic arms, three never-ending fantasies (and random WP+DEF items from other stores to get the remaining 10 of each), and two speedy the porcupines.  It's expensive, but whatever.

I should actually play through the game with the characters I've maxed out now.  I've maxed Ramona and Stills, and started money grinding for Kim but don't have enough to buy anything yet.  I really like Ramona's striker.  Full group hyper mode go!

The Invulnerable achievement is really easy to get.  All you have to do is have a friend go in the game with you (and both of you can get it!).  Go into level 1, one player blocks, rolls around, and avoids the big enemies; the other player kills everything.  Use the shortcut, avoid busses/cars, etc.  The achievement unlocks before the fight with the boss, so you can fight him without having to worry (it's not like I haven't OHKO'd him with Ramona's dashing hammer attack...).  Then go through again with the roles swapped and both of you will have it.

I'm going to have to remember the codes on GameFAQs' codes page.  How do people find these things anyway?

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Flatbread Melts

So for a while now I've been eating the California Pizza Kitchen ones.  A friend of mine said the DiGiorno ones were good, so I got a couple to try.

The first one, I believe it was the Italian Meatball variety, was great except for the bread.  The bread was without a doubt the blandest bread I've ever tasted.  I was about to just write off the product as the same as the rest of DiGiorno's stuff, but then I discovered a different variety with a different box design entirely that I hadn't noticed before.  It's the Chicken and Bacon Ranch variety.  It says it has artisan bread, much like the California Pizza Kitchen ones do.  I'm not entirely sure what makes artisan bread artisan bread, but I see herbs and spices in it and it tastes really good.

I had the second one before going out for my usual Saturday night events.  The bread was better, but overall, I think generally I'll just stick with CPK.  It kind of sucks that Giant doesn't carry any other varieties of either brand than the ones I've already had.  I haven't had the CPK spinach one, but fuck vegetables.

Actually, I need to eat something right now.  I just got home from a party where I had a fair amount of alcohol, decided I'd had enough, switched over to water to avoid a hangover, and as usual I forget when I stopped drinking but I know it was well before midnight and I didn't drive home until 5 AM so I think I was fine.  I dropped friends off at their dorm (including a sober friend who obviously felt like I was sober enough to drive), didn't run into anything, and didn't get pulled over, if that's any indication.  I had a rum and coke, a second rum and coke made with Captain Morgan's rum instead of Cruzan (because Cruzan is shit and there wasn't any Bacardi), the last shot's worth of the Captain Morgan's (it was 100 proof), and a beer.  So, not too much, and not nearly as much as some people had.  I'm one of the statistical minority that knows their limits and retains cognisance while intoxicated, which makes it difficult for me to know when it's safe to drive again.

Fuck, is it really spelled "cognizance"?  That's what Firefox's spellchecker wants to change it to.  I personally like it better with the "s", even though it's pronounced with the "z" sound.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Twitter's New Link Shortening Service

Twitter sent out an email a few days ago detailing their new link shortening service, using the URL http://t.co/.  Reading through it, I thought it was nice at first, but after finishing reading the email, I have some concerns.
  • First off, its use will be automatic and therefore mandatory.  Will this be the case even if you've already used another link shortening service to shorten the link, as I do with bit.ly?
  • Second, are they trying to destroy all other link shortening services?  The number one reason there's so many of them is Twitter's retardedly low character limit.
  • Third, the only thing I really like is the preview feature, which is something all other link shortening services lack, save for TinyURL, which is ironic because it produces long links in the spectrum of shortened links.  Bit.ly has a Firefox extension that adds previews to other shortened links, but it has security issues.  Since it remotely loads a CSS file from their servers on every site you visit, bit.ly gets a nice list of every single site you visit, whether it has any shortened links or not.  They claim to not store this information, but I don't believe them any more than I believe Facebook when they say beacon data isn't stored for users that turn it off.  Those beacons still get sent, the setting only "controls" whether or not Facebook ignores the data.  It's probably a placebo switch, given the appearance of doing something while in reality not doing anything.
  • Fourth, and possibly most important: Twitter stated that link clicks will be logged "to provide better and more relevant content to you over time."  To me, this means data mining for the express purpose of tracking their users' activity for marketing and advertising.  No thanks, I don't want to be tracked or advertised to.
  • Last but not least, how exactly will the automatic shortening work?  Will it happen as I paste the link into the tweet, or after I hit the Tweet button?  This pertains mostly to the remaining character count.  Will it be accurate and shorten the link on paste, or will it be inaccurate and force me to stare at a negative number, unsure how long my tweet will actually be with the link shortened?
Link shortening integrated with Twitter would be a very nice thing to have, but it really should be optional.  Furthermore, if they made changes to the way they process and store tweets, the length of a URL wouldn't matter.  URLs have some required formatting, beginning with the protocol designation, and needing spaces to be encoded in order to contain them, so therefore a simple regular expression can find any link and exclude it from the character count.  They could then selectively shorten the link depending on a user preference or for mobile browsers.

Kind of unrelated, but it makes about as much sense so I just have to rant about it: Why do people think it will actually work when they try to retweet a message with their own commentary added?  It doesn't.  It doesn't register as a retweet.  In order for it to do so, the retweeted message must be identical, just with RT @username in front.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

A Lesson in Intuitive User Interface Design

A week or so ago I installed the Firefox extension BetterPrivacy, which lets you easily keep track of and mass-delete unwanted Flash cookies.  After flagging my savegames on Newgrounds so they wouldn't be deleted, I went about my business, periodically checking it and deleting any unprotected ones.

The dialog for confirming the mass deletion is the subject of this post.  The button you click to bring it up says "Remove All LSOs", and the dialog itself is asking whether or not to also delete the ones you've flagged as protected.  Here's what it looks like:

Does it look intuitive at all?  Not to me.  Yes is the default button?  Seriously?  I've never just brought this up and hit Enter, but doing so would delete fucking everything.  I use the mouse on this dialog.  A couple days ago, I accidentally clicked Yes.  Most of the Newgrounds saves were from games I'd played once, maybe twice, and forgotten about, but some represented a fair amount of hard work.  I've got a few of them back now.

I think that this dialog needs to be changed.  Here's how I'd change it:

Note that the default button goes from deleting fucking everything to only deleting unprotected Flash cookies.  In addition, with this design, the buttons are completely clear as to what they'll do.  You'll know that by clicking Delete ALL, you're going to delete fucking everything.  I particularly like that ONLY UNPROTECTED is right in the middle of the dialog, so if you're looking for it, you'll probably find it first.

Also, I removed the keyboard accelerators, because deletion confirmation dialogs really shouldn't have them.  Deletion shouldn't be a process that's easily done with a simple keystroke, you need a proper barrier to prevent accidental deletions.  Things like automatically selecting the choice that won't touch anything are elementary.  However, it's reasonable to expect that a user would bring this dialog up with the intention of only wanting to delete the unprotected Flash cookies.  Sites tend to dump a ton of them and deleting one by one is a pain.  I set the Delete ONLY UNPROTECTED button as default so we don't delete anything the user doesn't want deleted if they just hit Enter.

Also, I'd probably stick a confirmation dialog on the "Delete ALL" button just to make absofuckinglutely sure the user wants to delete fucking everything.

Now, the better subject: What does LSO stand for?  Can't we just call Flash cookies "Flash cookies"?

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Small tweak

The MAL signature image will now finally remember its show/hide state across page loads.  The reason I hadn't had this functionality in there to begin with is because Blogger restricts your use of certain bits of Javascript functionality, as well as your ability to load external scripts.  I found a way around it, so now the feature can happen.

I can understand them wanting to restrict those bits of functionality, but at the same time, this is a completely benign use of said functionality, so it annoys me that they don't at the very least have an API to do it.

I'm skirting around mentioning exactly what's restricted and how I got around it on purpose, but it's not too hard to figure out.

So, yeah.  XT-8147: 1; Blogger: 0.

Of course, it only works properly in standards-compliant browsers.  I haven't tested it, but it should fall back to the old functionality in lesser browsers.  It may generate errors in the process, I don't care.

In other news, YouTube thinks I'm 109 years old and I'm unable to change this.  I probably gave a fake birthday on account creation, but the absence of a way to change it mystifies me.

Going up in resolution

I was playing around with the nVidia Control Panel and discovered that my monitor can run 1280x960@70Hz in 32-bit color, even though it doesn't advertise so and even says "New Mode" in its OSD when I play with the controls.

Previously I'd thought that this monitor (an old Dell E771p) couldn't do more than 900 lines above 60Hz.

I'd go to 1600x1200@60Hz, but I can see 60Hz refresh.  It's not pleasing to the eye or the stomach.

This raises an interesting dilemma for this blog.  Specifically, how I use the "wall of text" tag.  I've been basing it solely off of the height of the post content sans images.  If I had to scroll to view all of the post content, it got the tag.  I never defined it, but basically there was a reference height in pixels that if the post was taller than it, I would slap on the tag.  Well, that reference height just changed.

I think I'll just bump my use of the "wall of text" tag up to more than a screenful at my new resolution.  I'm not going to go back and mess with previous posts, even though the new reference height makes some of them not qualify for the tag.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Tales of Fridays resumes

We decided that Symphonia is next, but first, we're finishing off Abyss.

The first portion of gameplay was us trying to figure out where we left off.  We'd been using a guide on GameFAQs, so basically it involved pausing and scrolling down the FAQ until we found where we were.  You really need a guide for the Tales games, if you don't have one, there's so much of the game you'll miss out on.

Our Fridays follow a distinct pattern: the first part is story, and the second part is side quests.  The side quests are basically everything you'd miss out on, and they get you so much stuff.  Anything from artes to weapons and items useful elsewhere in the game.  So we went through the story part.  Ion died, Anise was a spy (not by choice, but through blackmail), and Mohs is a dick.  We fought some regular enemies with enough health to be bosses, and FINALLY GOT THE FUCKING FLIGHT STONE THAT LETS US GO THROUGH THE STORMS.  Also, Mieu Fire 2, which is necessary for the aforementioned flight stone.  There was a bit more story, but then it became sidequest time.  We ground items for Din to get a specific doll for Anise (the Artificial Life Form one that gives her X-BUSTER, Honya's busy grinding a red chamber on that), then got a few costume titles, including the two remaining titles for Natalia that affect search point drops, Star of Malkuth and Adventurous Princess.  This happened in Nam Coband Isle (or... Namco Bandai Isle), filled with references to old Namco arcade games.  We lol'd.

Next time is more story (I dunno what, we've got something to do in Baticul I think).

I'm still playing Natalia, still mostly as a healer with party buffs and a couple of attacks.  I have no clue who I'll be playing in Symphonia, if I even play anyone.  There was talk of a dedicated healer and getting me drunk so I could heal people, we'll have to see what comes of that.  I heal people well enough sober with Natalia...

Also, CAINE house needs a new projector.  The bulb on the existing one has, as the projector irreversably bitches at us, "has reached the end of its usable life", even though it still works so we can see the message.  I guess technically all that needs to happen is replacing the bulb, but the projector's kind of shitty, so I guess maybe get a better one and leave it at that.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Re: What were the chances of this happening anyway?

In reply to my own post this time, here's a slight update.

First off, after having become acquainted with the level editor and haivng learned how to set up a computer hack like this one, I now know just how easily this could be fixed.  Every computer hack, when you're setting it up, has outputs on various events that can do whatever you need them to do.

Since Alien Swarm was released just so the modding community could have fun with it, there's a version of Landing Bay that's loadable in Hammer.  Loading it up and looking at the hack's trigger, it's supposed to trigger the spawn to break down the door when the hack starts.  So, what I guess happened is: since the hack started up complete, none of the OnComputerHackStarted outputs fired, and none of the other outputs cause enemies to spawn.  No enemies spawned, nobody to break down the door.

However, there are other events where the spawn that breaks down the door could be enabled.  OnComputerHackCompleted jumps out as being suitable at first, but it's probably a bit late to spawn them, since the door does take a while to knock down and we want the players to have some sense of urgency.  OnComputerDataDownloaded is much too late, if they spawned then, the players would have to stand around and wait for the door to be knocked down.  It should be set to OnComputerActivated, and maybe increase the delay from 5 seconds to 7 to account for the computer starting up to give it about the same amount of time in the end.

Yet another solution involves changing the door itself.  As it exists in the level, it's nonfunctional and not welded.  If we change both of those, so that the door can open if triggered and make it welded, players can still get through if this ever happens again.  To prevent the obvious speedrun exploit, the door's Total Seal Time could be jacked up from the default 10 seconds, and the door set to be fully welded.  This will make it take a while to unweld the door.  The exact amount of time required would need some research.  Figure out how long it takes the chainsaw to break down a default health door and go from there.  The door out of the room on the other side would need to be locked until the OnComputerDataDownloaded output of the computer hack fires.  I'm unsure as to whether or not it's locked in the first place (it's been a while since I chainsawed the door down to check).

There's something that bugs me about this though.  Looking at the outputs on the computer hack trigger, there's a broken one set for OnComputerDataDownloaded with a target of AfterHackSpawnTrigger.  This trigger doesn't appear to exist in the level.  Was this broken output originally meant to be in the level to prevent this "mystery case" from messing up the game?

The other update is to correct the data needed to calculate the probability of this happening.  I forgot to mention that for the hack to complete, all of the columns need to be moving the same direction.  So the new situation is that the hack starts up with all four ones aligned AND moving the same direction.  Basically it adds an extra bit's worth of complexity to each column.

I've noticed it start up with two of them aligned every now and then, and three fairly rarely.

One thing's for sure: The odds of anyone at Valve reading this: zero.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

I'd Tap That

Tapping is an advanced technique in Guitar Hero that involves the player moving their strumming hand up to the fret buttons to press them.  It's adapted from a technique of the same name for playing real guitar.  What makes this possible is the fact that not every note in a chart needs to be strummed.  For those who have never tried to use them before (and never played the friggin' tutorials), any note in GH3 and newer that's glowing on top doesn't need to be strummed so long as you don't break combo.  They exist in the earlier games too, but they're harder to see, and in GH1 they're almost impossible to use.  The reason a player would want to tap is simple: It makes the section of the song easier.  You only have but so much dexterity in your fretting hand, so breaking a section down into what you hit with your fretting hand and what you tap with your strumming hand allows you to get around that.  The technique is perfectly legal for both ScoreHero and Guinness World Records.

If it sounds difficult to do, well, it is.  I've been trying to learn how to do it for a while now.  I've been doing it all over the place in World Tour, Metallica, and Smash Hits thanks to the slider notes which never need to be strummed even if you break combo, but that doesn't really learn you how to tap the complex stuff since you can just start your combo back up without having to change what you're doing.

The section I've been tapping is in Guitar Hero 3.  The song Impulse has a section called Funkiest Riff In History, which ends with a fast zigzag on red, yellow, and orange that I can't hit with just my left hand.  I'm terrible at zigzags in general.  I've had a fair amount of luck learning how to tap this zigzag, to the point that I've played the entire section, started tapping, and gone back to the strum a mere two notes after the last tap several times now without dropping combo.

Some people share their fingerings for song sections and just imply that "this is THE way to do it", when in reality, different methods will work for different people.  When reading anything suggesting a fingering for a specific section, it should be regarded as "this is what works for me".

So, this is what works for me.  This image is from the chart on SlowHero.

The tricky part about this zigzag is that it speeds up.  When it gets to the last red note in measure 63, I anchor red. This slower part is easy to one-hand while I move into tapping position.  When it begins to speed up I switch over to tapping the orange notes that I circled in red.  Note the chord two notes after the last circled orange note, that has to be strummed.  Speed in moving your strumming arm is everything to tapping.  The major barrier for me is to do it without really thinking about it, which in my case will result in moving my arm faster.  I tend to think about it too much and end up dropping right when I would otherwise begin tapping.  But I just did it without even really thinking about it at all.

So if I were posting about this on ScoreHero, I'd probably just post the zigzag (well, everything starting from the green note in measure 63, and all of measure 64) using their fret icons, with number notation for fingering.  But here, with the black background, the fret icons that I'd have used otherwise won't show up properly, and just putting a random mass of numbers would be confusing.  So even though I really want to post the numbers, I won't.

Rather, I'll explain what the numbers would represent.  I slide my index finger from green to red, then use my index finger on red, middle finger on yellow, and pinky on orange.  As mentioned, when I get to the first red of the zigzag (the last one in measure 63), I hold it down for the rest of the zigzag (anchoring).  Beginning from the third orange note, I tap with my strumming hand.  This is usually my middle finger just because it's longer, but really, anything works as long as it's intuitive.  Hitting the zigzag basically becomes a matter of developing a rhythm between pressing yellow, tapping orange, and releasing yellow.  Then, after the fifth orange, waste no time in getting my strumming hand back down to strum the chord.

I just hit it again in practice mode while verifying that there is indeed no red note at the end of the zigzag.  Sometimes I fail to notice the strangest things about certain charts.  For instance, there's an orange note in Generation Rock that I didn't even know was there, even after FCing the song several times.  I thought it was blue, because it's blue when that pattern comes up earlier in the song.