Thursday, September 30, 2010

Update: X-Mouse Button Control

Original post:

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  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
  • 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. 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, 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.