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.

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