Monday, January 31, 2011

Miscellaneous ramblings you'll probably ignore

So yeah I was going to have a whole sub-series of Classic DOS Games posts about Commander Keen since I got the Complete Pack off of Steam, but while the first game was relatively easy to complete and then as an afterthought go back into and screenshot the title screen which in itself was annoyingly difficult to do seeing as how every time I tried to input DOSBox's screen capture key combination the game would instead ejaculate me into the first level, I had to make due with the old "unfocus the window, then printscreen and crop the everlasting fuck out of it in Photoshop, then realize it's entirely too small and upscale it, then realize that Photoshop makes the upscaling as blurry as possible for a pixellated classic platforming game screenshot unless you set it to use Nearest Neighbor" method to generate a simple title screen screenshot, and decided to just leave it at that.

Of course, that previous paragraph was one big run-on sentence because I just finished watching a bunch of random Zero Punctuation reviews.

Anywho, the reason why I haven't posted about Commander Keen 2 yet is because I haven't yet finished it.  Mostly due to procrastination, but also because the game is a bit harder.  It took me a facepalmingly long amount of time to figure out that I start with the pogo stick obtained in the first game, and then the recurrence of the previously-used-as-bosses Vorticons as somewhat regular enemies that still kill you upon touching you (and then you find some elder vorticon in a stasis field who tells you not to shoot them because they're being mind-controlled and aren't actually evil or something.  Fuck that, they kill me on contact, it's either me or them.) makes me have to conserve ammo until I realize "hey I can just pick up enough random food to get an extra life, grab a couple rayguns, then die and repeat" and now I have over 100 shots and about four levels left to go.

A friend of mine got fed up with his laptop being containing clearly defective parts (lol srsly he had the motherboard replaced twice in less than a year and it's still fucking up) and put together a colossus of a desktop computer that I think all the rest of us who helped him put it together all collectively wish we owned instead.  I say colossus because of Colossus' yell when he uses his mutant power in the X-Men arcade game being a meme at MAGFest, and because we want him to name it Colossus whenever he gets around to actually installing an OS on it.  I even figured out how to capture audio from MAME so I could sample it from the game's service mode, and installed Audacity on the fly so I could cut down the long .wav file that resulted into something much more reasonable, as well as running a quick Normalize on the sound effect so it'd be a bit louder.  Also while I was sampling stuff I got the announcer guy saying "Colossus" when you select him, as well as the legendary "X-Men, welcome to die!" quote from Magneto that was actually three separate sounds that I had to merge back together and play with the timing until it sounded right.

While I regularly make fun of Opera, I do have a copy of it installed solely for web design purposes, better known as seeing how it manages to fuck up rendering stuff that renders perfectly in Firefox.  I updated it, because I run it so rarely that every time I do run it there's an update, and discovered that it now has extensions.

Intrigued, I hunted down their extension site (their "hey thanks for upgrading" page was eager to tell me they now have extensions, but didn't have a link to their extensions site), and browsed through.  There's an ad-blocking extension called NoAds that looked promising up until I actually installed it and discovered that its preferences would not open, and in fact the menu item in Opera's Manage Extensions window was greyed out.  Fail.  I know Opera has a built-in content blocking feature, but it's cumbersome at best to use.  I just want a centralized, automatically updated list of filters, sort of like how Firefox's AdBlock Plus has EasyList.

Anyway, after browsing through a bit more I found one called "NoAds Fixed", but it too lacked the preferences window.  I did find a few extensions I wanted that did work, including a NoScript equivalent, a GMail checker, and an extension that kills autoplay on YouTube, but allows pre-buffering videos and forcing YouTube to default to whatever video resolution you want, which they saw fit to remove from their preferences a while back.

Opera also added some other features I like, such as search keywords (that Firefox has only had for years), and tab stacking.  Search keywords let you easily access various search engines from your location bar, rendering the separate search box unnecessary, except for one very crucial thing: setting the list of search engines and their keywords in the first place.  You see, instead of just having search keywords work off of bookmarks like in Firefox, Opera had to continue to be gay and make it its own thing that can only be accessed from the search box.  So any time you want to add a new search engine and make a keyword for it, you have to put the search box back in your toolbar, then configure your new search engine, then remove the search box from the toolbar.  As for an example of a search keyword, well, here's mine for Google (in Firefox).  Remember, this is a bookmark.

Keyword: g

That's it.  The %s gets replaced by the text you type after the g in the location bar.  So to search, say,"why can't I own a Canadian" in Google, you'd simply type "g why can't I own a Canadian".  Anyway.

Tab stacking lets you group together related tabs so that they only take up the space of a single tab on the tab bar.  If only there was an option for doing it automatically by domain or something.  I've wanted a Firefox extension to do this for a long time.

Unfortunately, even though Opera is getting better as a web browser, I'll be sticking with Firefox.  Which is a shame because Opera's resource usage is a lot better.  It just needs a working ad blocking extension and a way to manage flash cookies.  Also it'd be better if its built-in user styles and user scripts things could become a little less hidden and cumbersome to use, in comparison to Stylish and Greasemonkey, respectively, for Firefox.  Also, it still has the tooltip issue I mentioned a while back, with no way (on Windows) to tweak the tooltip colors.  If only it would respect my tooltip background color that I've defined in Windows...  It respects just the foreground color, which is white, and I end up with white-on-white tooltips.  Thunderbird 3 fixed its tooltip issue, so why can't Opera?

tl;dr Commander Keen 2 is hard, Zero Punctuation is awesome, I wish I had my friend's new computer, and Opera still sucks.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Everything I Know About Life, I Learned From Minecraft

Random observations about the world presented in Minecraft.  With a jump break here so the main page doesn't get clogged up.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Feeling horrible sucks.

Pretty much the night after I got home from MAGFest I got a pretty bad combination of congestion and sore throat.  This totally killed my plan for that week, which was to go interview for a job so I could get my shit in gear or something.  Somehow I don't think it would have made a good impression if I showed up to the interview coughing like crazy and using tissues every couple minutes.

During that time I didn't really feel like watching anime either, so I've got a bit of a backlog built up.  Most of it is winter season stuff that I set up filters for so I could check it out, but there's an episode of Index 2 in there as well.

I derp'd and started taking various medications that relieve my symptoms and picked up a bottle of Bolthouse Farms' C-Boost fruit smoothie drink thing at the store.  I also did my signature thing which I don't know if it's good or bad for me to be doing it, but whatever: I continue on with life.  This means I still go out and hang out with friends.

I felt a lot better when I woke up last night around 11PM or so.  I haven't felt the need to take any medicine yet, though I did have the last 8oz. of the C-Boost.  Still coughing periodically and still kind of congested, but it's definitely going away.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

MAGFest 9

This is the end-result of me omitting most of the 119 tweets I posted during MAGFest, summarized and expanded upon in case you'd rather read a blog post instead of 119 tweets that will only become more and more buried in my Twitter history.

Jump break here to keep the main blog page uncluttered.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

[remuXT] No Need for remuXT

Looks like Lucky Star is getting a bluray release.  Thus I can just wait.  Hopefully someone will OCR and re-typeset a.f.k.'s subs rather than taking the easy way out with R1 subs...

Seems like a lot of wasted effort, downloading the Exiled-Destiny release and remuxing 3/4ths of it only to never actually watch it, but whatever.

Edit: well, looks like Coalgirls have said that they'll use a.f.k.'s subs if they do it (someone posted a mediafire link of pre-OCR'd subs), and apparently Doki is planning to release with a.f.k.'s subs as well...  Win.  Though the true winner will be whoever releases it dual audio, as Lucky Star's dub wasn't all that bad if I remember feedback from my dub-watching friends correctly...

Winter Season revised

Well, no chart in this post (chartfag did release one after all, and it's way better than The Cart Driver's), but...

Houkago no Pleiades is apparently being released on Gainax's YouTube channel, which probably means a Japan-only region restriction, or terribad english hardsubs like with Nyoro~n Churuya-san and Suzumiya Haruhi-chan no Yuuutsu.  I'll have to see if anyone bothers with a YT-rip as I don't really like streaming anime.

I've got the first episodes of Infinite Stratos and I Don't Like You At All, Big Brother! to check out.  As for some of the others (Dragon Crisis and Kore wa Zombie desu ka?), I'm hoping a non-CR-rip group will pick them up.  Stupid CR, fagging up each season.  If anyone who's reading this knows, is there really much of a difference between HorribleSubs and CrunchySubs?  They both release pretty much simultaneously...

Also, this isn't quite a winter season show, but too bad.  FFFpeeps is releasing the Ika Musume blurays (complete with NCOP and NCEDs), so I'll have something decent enough in quality to replace the mostly share raws they used for releases while it was airing.  If the sponsor screens are for some reason still there, I'll update the two screencaps I uploaded to my Picasa account as wallpapers once my download of BD volume 1 finishes.

I don't know why I didn't bother to check before, but I knew there was a reason I thought that Chizuru's seiyuu was really good...  She's voiced by Rie Tanaka.

I actually had a dream last night that Ika Musume got another 12 episodes to bring it up to a full season of 24.

Edit: Wait, Commie released Kore wa Zombie desu ka? episode 1?  I hope this isn't just a "release one episode then drop" like they did with Ika Musume...

Edit 2: And they're doing Dragon Crisis?  I really hope these aren't "driveby releases" then...

Edit 3: Weird, FFFpeeps is doing ordered chapters for the Ika Musume EDs even though they're different for each episode.  Most groups just stick them in the main episode's file when a series does that.

Monday, January 10, 2011

MAGFest Plans

I won't be able to work on my MAGFest post while at MAGFest because I'm not taking my computer this year.  It's just too much of a hassle and I end up missing various things I wanted to go see because I'm sitting there at my computer having too much fun.

Therefore, most of my MAGFest post will be available early, as tweets on my Twitter account.  I'll then take all that and summarize into a fairly coherent blog post and expand on some things that just aren't possible to fit into 140 characters.

All tweets will of course be sent by my cell phone, assuming of course I have decent enough service up there.  Last time I was in DC it was fine, but some people on some carriers (*cough* AT&T) have noted issues in the hotel before.

I might turn on Twitter TracFone Minute Drain™ by enabling mobile notifications of some people that I'm following.  We'll see how that goes.  Will my pocket be constantly beeping the Power Rangers communicator beep (my text message noise) all the way up to the hotel?  Or will I remain sane while driving?

Things I know I'm going to now:
  • HIROKI KIKUTA PANEL FUCK YEAH (for anyone who doesn't know, he did the music for a little game called Secret of Mana, somehow or another MAGFest got him as a guest and I'm definitely not missing it)
  • Jon St. John's panel
  • Try once again to remember to go to the trivia contest to see ScrewAttack get their asses beat for the third year in a row by a friend of mine.
Things I know I'm buying now:
  • AVGN DVD volume 4

Sunday, January 9, 2011

A Better BetterPrivacy

So I finally got tired enough of BetterPrivacy's completely unintuitive mass-deletion interface and haxored it to act more to my liking.  Now, instead of a confusing confirmation dialog where, to get the desired effect of deleting all unprotected Flash cookies, you have to answer "No"; we now have this:

Much better.  Of course, I made the necessary code changes so that it actually works like that now.  Deleting protected Flash cookies is still possible, but has been made intentionally harder as now you have to delete each one individually.  Part of me wishes I knew how to shift the default button to "No", and the rest of me doesn't care because I'm only ever going to be answering "Yes".

Also while I was poking around in it I deleted all the localizations for languages I don't know.  That's just a waste of my hard drive space anyway.  I'll just stick with good old en-US.

Of course, in the process of testing out my fix I accidentally deleted all my protected Flash cookies again.  But thanks to this fix, that's the last time that'll ever happen.  I just have to remember that now I need to haxor all future versions of BetterPrivacy to work like this as well.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Beat Hazard Followup

I've been tweeting a lot about Beat Hazard recently, being that I got the game for Christmas.  So naturally, with the full game in hand, it's time to revisit my old review of it.

Having made it all the way to the top rank (as determined by total score) and gotten all the Steam achievements, I can elaborate on a few things.  The type of music really does make a difference for the overall gameplay experience, but something I didn't really stress enough was how difficult some quiet parts of songs can be.  When you essentially can't deal damage to enemies and have to spend time dodging them as you wait for the song to pick up again, things get pretty hectic.  Or you could just fire off a bomb.  I often repeat the mantra of "bomb the transition".

The game's achievements are all pretty simple to get.  The ones that the fewest people on Steam have are the ones that take the longest to get, namely playing 100 songs and accumulating 10 hours of gameplay time.  The ones I thought would be the hard ones (killing a boss before it fires, not firing for 60 seconds, making it through a song without dying, and killing 8 bosses in a single song) happened to be pretty easy.  They're all either a matter of skill, luck, or choosing the right song to do it on.

Survival mode is pretty difficult, though I managed to last 25 minutes in my run for the Survival achievements (which top out at 20 minutes).  It turns up the visual intensity and difficulty on you, and you get three lives to last as long as you can.  There are no extra life powerups, no bonus lives at certain point values, etc. like other games might have.  You'll have to be at least somewhat decent to get longer survival times.

The game provides a way to check the leaderboards, so you won't have to exit or bring up the Steam overlay to see how well you're doing compared to other players.  It even has a friends section that just compares you to your friends on Steam.  Sadly only one of my friends has played more than a few minutes of the game, so I don't have a lot to compare myself to.  Also I overtook him on all the leaderboards, so... yeah.

The Beat Hazard "powerup" is simply your full power state.  Volume affects the amount of damage you deal and Power affects the spread of your weapons.  Once you reach the highest rank ("Elite"), you'll start in the Beat Hazard state, and this helps your scores a lot.  So once you reach Elite, go back and play the songs you played up until then over again to set a real score.

Sometimes the game spawns what I call "trash waves", where rather than enemy ships that fire at you, you get random lumps of junk that break apart after a few shots.  These can be tricky to handle if not done properly.  The key, as I've figured out, is to realize that the same piece of trash will leave one side of the screen and enter the opposite side, keeping its direction and speed.  So as long as you handle trash waves in a methodical manner, you shouldn't have any difficulty with them.

The only things that need to be unlocked in the game are two difficulty levels, Insane and Suicidal.  I forget what you have to do to unlock Insane, but Suicidal unlocks when you get the rank Elite 10.  After getting the rank Elite, the game will award you additional Elite ranks every 5 million points.  I'm currently at Elite 30.  The difficulty levels increase the visual intensity and number of enemies, as well as how much firepower it'll take to destroy enemies and bosses.  You may find yourself having to supplement your firepower with a bomb or two against bosses, especially on Suicidal.

Speaking of bombs, an important thing to note is that using a bomb gives you temporary invulnerability, in addition to clearing out the enemies onscreen.  You can use this to your advantage to grab powerups that a boss is camping on, get through the beam attacks they use to try and pin you down, etc.

As I mentioned before, the game unfortunately doesn't support APE audio.  Also, as I've noticed, it doesn't get along with FLAC+CUE at all.  It sees the FLAC file as one really long song, essentially ignoring the CUE file that defines where each track begins and ends.  It looks like I'll have to split all of my FLAC+CUE, which I was going to do anyway due to a weird metadata-related bug in foobar2000.

When closing the game it currently advertises an upcoming DLC pack that looks pretty awesome.  New enemies, new bosses, new powerups, and online multiplayer (both co-op and head to head).  All for $5.

Overall: Basically, if you enjoy twin stick shooters and like music, this is a good game for you.