Tuesday, December 27, 2011


So my dad mentioned at dinner that he had his USB flash drive set up to be bootable with some drive recovery software on it.  However, there was something he didn't quite understand about it and asked me if I could help.  So when we got home, I grabbed the flash drive, and it began.

First, I tried to be sneaky/clever and boot it in VirtualBox without having to reboot my computer.  But that failed horribly.  So, I rebooted.

After not finding an option in my BIOS specifically for booting off of a USB drive, I poked around some and eventually noticed that it showed up as a hard drive in the Hard Drive Boot Priority list.  So, move it to the top, save and exit, and bam, it boots.

Now, I follow the standard tech support cheat sheet, and figure out how to do exactly what it was he wanted to do.  It ended up being pretty simple, it hadn't occurred to him to double click on something.  Whatever.

Powered down, gave him his USB drive back, and went into BIOS to set stuff back so I could boot off of my hard drive again.  Except that now it insisted that my boot drive (the IDE Primary Master, remember PATA drives?) didn't exist.

I've mentioned before, maybe on Twitter, I forget, but anyway...  My case fans died recently.  The CPU fan is still good, but both of my fancy red LED case fans, that were in themselves replacements for older fans that had died, died.  Rather than going onto Newegg and ordering more case fans only to have the same thing happen later on in life, I removed the side panel on my computer and pointed a small box fan at it.  This is only relevant because recently I'd decided it wasn't needed and turned it off.  Computer worked just fine without it, content with just the side panel removed.

I don't know if heat played into it, but the drive appeared again after I had the fan turned on for a while.

So now boot up and go, right?  Well, wrong.  It says "NTLDR is missing".  Fuck.  I mean, I've gotten this before, and a black magic three-finger salute has seemed to make it go away.  Except this time it's persistent.  Diagnostic mode, engage.

I get out an Ubuntu livedisc.  Note to self: burn a more recent Ubuntu livedisc, as 6.06 is quite old.  At any rate, it failed to start X or something, which I've never seen before.  Even my shitty laptop with dead battery, hard drive, and LAN card can boot it.  So then I whip out my Arch Linux install disc.  Get into its install environment, mkdir /mnt/sda1, mount /dev/sda1 /mnt/sda1 -o ro (mounting it read-only because I still don't trust Linux NTFS tools), and ls the fucker.  NTLDR is there.  So obviously it's something else that's preventing it from finding that.

I boot back into the BIOS and inspect the Hard Drive Boot Priority list once again, and notice that the drive where Windows is installed isn't the first one in the list.  Shove it on up there, save and exit, and bam, now I'm here writing this post.

post-Firefox 9 update reactions

Hey wait what?  All I did was click "Check for update" in Firefox 8 and it took that to mean "Check for update, download and install without prompting for consent to download and install"?

Oh well, at least all my extensions are compatible.  Life as normal?

*sigh* yeah, life as normal.  It still appears to crash several times a day and use over a gigabyte of swap (virtual memory).

If going from Firefox 8 to Firefox 9 was such a minor update, why the hell was it a MAJOR VERSION NUMBER CHANGE?

Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas Stuff

Another Christmas come and gone...  In case any random passerby cares what I got, I'll go ahead and list everything.  If you're a random passerby and you don't care, well, too bad.

Steam games, self-gifted:
  • Portal 2
  • Jamestown: Gunpowder, Treason, and Plot DLC
  • Dungeons of Dredmor, Realm of the Diggle Gods DLC (Resolving the Humble Indie Bundle issue where the "beat the average" Steam key for one of their bundles contained it as well as Aquaria and Crayon Physics Deluxe, which I already own from previous Humble Indie Bundles and won't get giftable copies of if I redeem the key.)
  • Double Fine Pack (Psychonauts and Costume Quest)
  • Chantelise
Steam games, gifted by friends (thanks!):
  • Recettear: An Item Shop's Tale
  • E.Y.E: Divine Cybermancy
  • Left 4 Dead Bundle (L4D and L4D2)
RL stuff:
  • A bag of pistachios
  • $75 in Wal-Mart gift cards
  • $25 ABC store gift card
  • Four dentist appointments to get my teeth fixed so I can chew on the right side of my mouth and not have to live in pain
All the rest of that stuff is great and all, but the very last item was the only one I absolutely couldn't live without.

Sort of related, but the Holiday Gift Pile thing that's happening on Steam right now made me play Spiral Knights again, and I got a full set of two-star equipment and made it to depth 8 (Moorcraft Manor) finally.  I actually got there in epic fashion by defeating Snarbolax solo.  For what little it's worth, now I can start adventures from depth 8!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai

It just wrapped up, and since it draws a bit of a parallel to my own past life, I felt like I should post about it.  Despite not actually wanting to post on the subject.

Two side notes:
  1. The anime's name is abbreviated to Haganai.  This is because of how it's written in Japanese.
  2. Now that I've re-read it, it's actually a spoiler-free summary of the series with some extra crap about me talking about how much my high school life sucked.
A few seasons ago, when Ore no Imouto ga Konnani Kawaii Wake ga Nai was airing, a few friends of mine made blog posts about what it was like growing up as an anime fan in a family that generally hated upon the medium for no reason.  I can draw a similar parallel to Haganai.

I never really had a lot of friends.  I was that "unpopular one", the one nobody would ever talk to and everyone would find the most trivial of reasons to make fun of.  The fact that I have a hard-to-pronounce-correctly last name didn't help.

My mom always assured me that once I went to college I'd make real friends who were actually mature and willing to look beneath the surface and see the person within and that sort of stuff.  She was right, too.  You definitely can make friendships that last in the years before college, but it's the years after graduating high school that you begin to discover who your real friends are.  Except for me it took a bit longer because I didn't really find where I fit in until a few years after I joined CAINE, essentially once all of the old members had graduated and I was essentially among the group of people that had been there the longest.

So basically I was part of the group that hung out with each other because nobody else would hang out with us.  We got along fairly well despite our differences, but there were still the trivial reasons to make fun of people.  We even became hypocrites in senior year when we excluded someone from our group.  To be fair, she was a bitch to everyone.  I'm trying not to use names here but the wording is going to get awkward, so bear with me.  Basically she was the girlfriend of a member of the group.  I had known her from a long, looooooooooooooooooooooong (longcat long) time ago (we're talking preschool here) and didn't like her then.

Anyway, I'm drifting off topic.  Haganai reminded me of my less-than-pleasurable high school experience.  But even then, it takes a few things to extremes, because that's what anime does.

The main character, Kodaka, is pretty much an idiot.  He transfers into this high school and is running late on his first day.  Yet he doesn't bother to stop and catch his breath before walking into the damn classroom, which results in a scene filled with misunderstanding where he's branded as a delinquent.

He and Yozora, a girl in his class whom he discovers has an "air friend" basically start a club, which is this anime's version of "the group of people that hang out with each other because nobody else will hang out with us".  Along the way they pick up a few extra members with the aid of a cryptically worded flyer containing a hidden message.
  • There's Sena, the daughter of the headmaster, who is the generic "oversized breasts" character, who generally has guys doing whatever she wants but doesn't really like that life and wants real friends.  She's also massively into dating games.
  • There's my personal favorite, Rika, the genius child scientist who isn't required to attend classes and is only at the school to make the school look good, who continually tries to get into Kodaka's pants for "research".
  • Then there's Yukimura, the guy who's always picked on and is rather effeminate, who ends up dressed in female clothing for the rest of the series.  Including the beach episodes.
  • Finally there's Maria, the child nun who always likes to call things she doesn't like "poopy", and Kodaka's little sister Kobato, who watches some anime about a vampire and is always cosplaying and acting as the main character, to the point of wearing a colored contact lens to gain heterochromia.  The two are always at odds with each other because of the whole "church vs. vampires" thing.
Obviously, those sorts of extremes gathered all in one place don't exist in real life.  Which brings me to my next point.  The series seems similar in story structure to Haruhi, somewhat.  Think about it.  Main male meets main female, they start a club.  They recruit a select few more members, including one who is essentially in cosplay for the rest of the series.  I even think I recognize one of the music cues.

Remember how I said Kodaka is "pretty much an idiot"?  Well, yes.  He continually has Rika trying to get in his pants, and continually denies her.  Come on, you have a girl who's only a year younger than you basically throwing herself at you (sometimes literally) and you turn her down every time?  Seriously?

Regardless of the intelligence of the main cast, it's still a decent series overall.  I've kind of sidestepped around a subplot that is actually a major part of the latter portion of the series, but whatever.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Top 10 Games of Recent Memory

This was going to be a "top 10 games of 2011" post, but I never kept track of which games I played this year that were actually released in 2011.  So instead, it's basically "top 10 games I played and liked in 2011".

This list is in no particular order.  I don't wish to infer that any one of these games is better than any other one of them.  So really, it's more of a "10 awesome games I played in 2011" post.  You may very well recognize some of these titles from my previous posts, and may also very well see more in-depth posts about some of them later on.

Magicka: The Stars are Left

Finally got my hands on this highly anticipated DLC campaign for Magicka.  It offers three more chapters of adventure, with all-new enemies and magicks, more challenge maps, and two robes (one of which has to be unlocked).

It's set 20 years after the original adventure.  Vlad appears and suggests, then tells, then basically forces you to go on this new adventure.  Also, he's quick to remind you that nobody is to find out about his "little secret".

This isn't really a review, because I'll blatantly tell you right now: If you already own Magicka, GET THIS DLC.  There, I said it.  This post is more about impressions and strategies, and does basically spoil the entire thing.

There are 7 magicks available in The Stars are Left, in comparison to the original campaign's 23.  Two of them are Revive and Haste, the other five are entirely new.  There are some things that you can only obtain if you're using the Investigator robes: a weapon that polymorphs your target, and a magick.

At the beginning, break down the door that led to the very first Sherlock Holmes area in the original adventure.  Shoot a rock at the tree, and a magick tome falls down.  Get it to learn Tractor Pull.  What does it do?  Well, you stomp the ground.  I think it makes stuff on the ground move closer to you.  Not entirely sure.  It's not all that useful.

The first boss is a giant spider named Parker, and when you beat him you get the achievement "No power = No responsibility".  Yeah, a Spider-Man reference.  A Magicka content update wouldn't be complete without more references.

During the second chapter, having the Investigator robe equipped will enable you to open a gate and get the Chain Lightning magick.  Before that, when you reach the village where Gram's Workshop is, if you talk to the guy by the fire repeatedly, he'll eventually give you a magick tome.  Stop talking to him when he says this (if you talk to him too much, he takes back his offer), then go to the shop nearby to get it.  Sadly, just like Tractor Pull, it's not all that useful.  So not useful that I forget its name.

The second chapter is also home to... Endermen.  Yes, the ones from Minecraft.  Except that instead of picking up terrain, they pick up you.  And then eat you.  They also teleport around.  They're a lot more frightening than Minecraft's Endermen, quite frankly...

If you remember coming through the part with the Endermen in the original campaign, you'll know that you can freeze the river just after the checkpoint to get to a Sherlock Holmes area with the Sword of Masters (aka the Master Sword).  It's still there, and it's one of the better weapons available, so you might as well get it.  The cultists shoot Arcane at you (despite the fact that it looks like Lightning), so give yourself an Arcane shield and you can pick them off from afar with the sword's projectile.

The second boss is a winged demon that makes a couple appearances in the third chapter as well.  Nearby where you fight it, there's a book for a much-needed magick: Levitation.  I highly recommend grabbing this one, as it comes in incredibly handy in the third chapter.  The boss isn't actually all that difficult, it just takes a while to wear it down.  Basically he jumps around and tries to convert you into a cultist, which is an instant-kill attack.  Luckily, it's at point blank range, so stay mobile and you won't even have to worry about it.

The third chapter is entirely the buildup to fighting Cthulhu.  There are puzzles you need to solve to activate various mechanisms to enable you to reach his room.  The orbs that activate the mechanisms are red, and what else is red?  The Arcane element.  What's its opposite?  Life.  Whack each orb with Life and it'll turn green and activate whatever it's linked to.  Whack it with Arcane to disable again.  The disable mechanic is really only needed in one room, where you have to bounce a life beam off of three mirrors (and all the way across the room in the process) to activate an orb that opens a door next to you.  This door is on a timer and will close after a short period of time.

One of the rooms had me puzzled for quite a while, and it ended up having the derpiest solution.  One room has a bunch of steam vents that will push you off of the walkway that goes past them.  The solution?  A rock shield.  Apparently it gives you enough weight to prevent the steam from pushing you off.  On the other side of the steam vents is the mechanism, activate it and the walls rise up and you'll have a fight on your hands.  Unless of course, you have the magick I'm about to mention...

Also attached to this room is a platform with a semi-useful magick: Portal.  Unfortunately, due to an oversight by the developers (or something) if you're not playing on a widescreen resolution, you can't use the stairway that takes you to this platform.  Instead you'll have to Levitate and Haste over from the other side.  Now that I think about it, I have occasional troubles exiting one of the previous rooms as well.  It's the one with the unlimited numbers of enemies that Vlad so helpfully accidentally awakens for you.

Anyway, Portal is indeed a reference to the game of the same name.  Predictably, you'll have to cast it twice to get any use out of it at all.  Also, its usability is limited since you can only place portals in already-accessible areas.  However, it can be used in the steam vent room to bypass the walled-in fight after activating that room's mechanism.

There's a sword you can get before you make the tentacles go away.  Haste and Levitate yourself to the platform where the Portal magick is, and go through the door.  The sword is stuck in the tentacle.

Partway through solving all of this, the winged demon will challenge you again.  Just defeat him again and move on.  Keep him frozen for an easy win.

All this buildup, and once you've got all three main mechanisms activated (the bridge, the door, and the water), you can finally exit the top of the main room and fight Cthulhu.  While technically, yes, you can indeed enter the room without activating the water, you will die upon entry, lose your weapons, and the boss fight can't be triggered.  Strangely enough it still shows the bubble effects where Cthulhu first comes up out of the water, even though there isn't any water.

Let me tell you now, Cthulhu is a really difficult boss.  As in, Assatur is a pansy.  Cthulhu really tests your knowledge of Magicka's spell mechanics and your ability to adapt to what's happening.  Easily more difficult than the entire rest of Magicka combined.

I had two bulleted lists here containing all the stuff that happens in the fight and how to deal with it, but it was even more tl;dr than the rest of this post, so I removed it.

Now, for the actual strategy that worked.
  • Throw on a rock shield (self-cast ED) at the beginning, and refresh it whenever you have a free moment.
  • Stay at the very top of the stairs in the middle area, this way the tentacles can't hit you.
  • QFQFASA.  Queue up the next one while you're hitting him with the current one.  The DQRQRQRQR method may deal more damage than the full duration of the steam-lightning beam, but it's less repeatable than the steam-lightning beam.
  • The lesser demons that get summoned periodically will die to a single area-cast QFQFASA.
  • Once the winged demon is out, Haste yourself, get close, and cast EARAR on it.  I prefer to put it on my sword to cast it, but it works just as well when regular cast.  This will freeze it and keep it in place.
  • Throw up a shield (regular cast E) in the general direction of wherever Cthulhu is.  Yes, we're ignoring Cthulhu for now.  Whenever the shield gets taken out or needs to be relocated, put it back up.
  • Keep doing the frost-lightning shield attack on the winged demon until it dies.  This will be tricky because it jumps across the room periodically.
  • When the winged demon jumps, make sure you're not beneath it when it lands, since you'll die instantly if it lands on you.
  • Resume steam-lightning beaming Cthulhu (and responding to his attacks, obviously) until you win.
After beating Cthulhu, the Cultist robes are unlocked.  They come with a sword that inflicts poison, and a staff that can summon those weird fire things from Chapter 3.

As an aside to all of this, why can't I use any of the new weapons, staves, and magicks in challenge/versus modes?  There's a rather awesome staff that allows you to conjure lightning while wet, and a sword that can fight on its own without a wielder (never used it, not sure how it works)...

Thursday, December 15, 2011

SOPA and PROTECT IP: Why I fear for the future of the Internet

Pretty much anyone who gets around on the internet has heard of these two bills by now.  These bills, created for the purpose of preventing copyright infringement on the internet, basically set up the framework to allow our government to control what sites we can and can't visit, effectively turning America into China.

Never mind that there's already a system in place for dealing with infringement of copyrights on the internet.  It's called the Digital Millenium Copyright Act.  Under that act, any corporate entity who finds one of its copyrights being infringed on the internet simply has to send a takedown notice to the site with the infringement.  That notice has to include the page holding the content and an assertion that the company does indeed own the copyright in question.  If it's ignored or contested, legal action is the next step.

Unfortunately, rights holders, and specifically the American entertainment industry, don't see this as enough.  You see, there's this thing called 'other nations', and they are sovereign, meaning they have different laws than us and aren't subject to our laws.  Generally speaking, a website is subject to the laws of the nation in which that site is hosted, and not subject to the laws of any other nation.

Basically, what it boils down to is one simple thing.  Right now, sites aren't responsible for user-posted content.  This means that if a popular content-hosting site, let's say YouTube, has a user who uploads something that infringes on a copyright, they're not liable for that.  All the copyright holder has to do is send them a notice (or use their Content ID thing), and they'll take down the infringing content.

Now, issues with claims verification aside, the system works as-is.  But the American entertainment industry doesn't think that's enough.  They want sites to be liable for user-posted content.  This presents a very real threat to anyone who hosts a community with forums, no matter how small.  In fact, I'd wager the smaller communities are at a greater risk because copyright holders know they have less resources to fight back.  All it takes is one user posting an infringing link, and bam, your entire site is gone.  I wouldn't put it past the entertainment industry to pose as regular users on sites, post infringing links, and get those sites taken down, either.

The chilling thing is, as I hinted at, that all it takes for any of this to happen is a mere accusation.  You don't get your due process, your opportunity to defend, or anything.  To the government, the entertainment industry is infallible.  You see, entertainment industry, there's this thing called the Constitution of the United States of America.  One of its amendments states that all American citizens have the right to a trial by a jury of their peers.  Setting up a system like this that bypasses that is, well, unconstitutional.

Sadly, these unconstitutional bills will probably pass.  Why is that?  The entertainment industry has money, and that's what drives our government.  Whoever has the most money gets their way.  It's sad, but true.  Also, another reason they will probably pass is because of the general public's ignorance towards all things technology and internet-related.  A third reason is the fact that neither of these bills have been front headline material or even made the evening news, so the general public for the most part doesn't know about them.

I'm worried for a number of reasons that can be derived from the past wall of text.  One, because I am the administrator of a community where any one of the links already posted could theoretically be considered infringing, since we revolve around comics and animation and frequently indulge in fan-translated manga and anime.  Two, because unlike anyone in our government, I actually understand the internet and every word I hear about these bills tells me nothing more than that they are bad for the internet.

The entertainment industry has struggled to come to terms with what the internet lets people do, and has made all kinds of bad decisions while failing miserably at adapting to modern society.  I believe they would try to pin anyone who dissents on the subject of preventing piracy to be a pirate themselves.  Unfortunately for them, it's not their intended result that we dissent against, it's the method they're using to obtain that intended result.

"Dissent is the highest form of patriotism" --Thomas Jefferson


Apparently I forgot to mention that one of the scariest parts of this is that the people in Congress who ultimately make the decision have readily and openly stated on the record that they know nothing about computers or the internet.  They don't understand the implications of this bill, and they're only hearing one side of the issue: the lobbyists' side.  They're not hearing the public outcry against it.

Also, here's a rather comprehensive video by TotalBiscuit on the subject.  He says some things in better ways than I do, and since he's actually speaking rather than typing, he can convey the proper level of emotion to go with his words.

The video that led me to TotalBiscuit's is this episode of Far Lands or Bust.  Kurt discusses the issue for most of the episode and makes a few points that TotalBiscuit doesn't.  They both slip up and name Activision as a supporter when in fact it's EA, though.  Just FYI.

I personally will boycott any company that supports either of these bills.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Fewer Complaints About Flash Cookies

So, after updating Firefox, installing a newer version of BetterPrivacy, and managing to accidentally delete all my flash game saves before hacking BetterPrivacy again, I decided on a whim to keep the settings cookies around this time.

The settings cookies store your settings for each domain that has ever tried to set a flash cookie on your system.  They're stored in a separate directory structure from the actual cookies themselves.  In the past, I kept deleting them, but as I've found through experimentation, they're important.

I'm not sure what else they store, but it doesn't matter.  They store one critical piece of information: whether or not you want to allow that domain to set flash cookies.

Yeah, how could I have overlooked that?  lol

You access a menu either by right clicking on any given Flash object and selecting Global Settings, or by (at least on Windows) going into your Control Panel and selecting Flash Player.

This settings dialog has four tabs, but we're primarily interested in the first one, titled Storage.  There, you can click one all-important button: Local Storage Settings by Site.

In here you can see every domain that's ever tried to set a Flash cookie, and set each one to Ask me, Allow, or Block.  Don't want a flash cookie from a specific domain?  Select Block.  Want them?  Select Allow.  Rather get a question from Flash asking for each individual cookie?  Select Ask me.  There you go.

Honestly, once you get this set up for all the Flash-using sites you visit on a regular basis, there isn't much need for BetterPrivacy.  Set Flash to ask you when a new site wants to store information, hit Deny when that new site wants to store information (or Allow if you'd rather allow it, lol), then open the settings and configure for that domain.  There you go.

Now I've got Newgrounds automatically allowed and all the other domains ever blocked.  And it hasn't affected my use of Flash games or video players at all, unlike the "disable third-party flash cookies" option that's only available if you somehow find your way to the other, more obscure settings page buried on Adobe's website.

I haven't yet tested this with locally-run Flash games, including the titles I previously mentioned: Machinarium, TRAUMA, and The Binding of Isaac.  Therefore, I don't know how configurable that is.  But internet-wise, I'm set.

Just remember: keep the settings cookies.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Seeking a Real Solution

So I just accidentally deleted all my flash game saves again.  This so happens to include saves for Steam games written in Flash, like Machinarium, TRAUMA, and The Binding of Isaac.

I'll definitely re-hack BetterPrivacy again, but that's only a temporary solution in that it only affects me.  The real problem, as I've stated before, is that the mass deletion confirmation dialog is completely unintuitive.

This has to stop.  I've just submitted a bug report on the author's website, we'll see what happens.

Also, while it's on my mind, I'll bring it up.  Blogger really needs an easy way to cross-reference a previous post.  To do so I have to open another tab, go to my list of posts, find the one in question, copy the link, and paste it into the "create link" dialog in the post I'm working on.  There's all that empty space in the column on the right that plays home to all the post settings, they could stick it there.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

post-Firefox 8 update reactions

Holy crap, I can layer the tab bar over the title bar!  Space saved, plus I can have the location bar visible all the time for a net screen space usage change of zero!  *uninstalls disablemenu*

App tabs?  What are these?  *investigates*  Oh cool!  *pins GMail as an app tab, uninstalls GMail Manager*

Hmm, that orange button for the menu is a bit big, imma use Stylish and make it smaller.

Okay, I forgot, Firebug doesn't let me inspect the browser chrome.  *installs DOM Inspector*  *after four hours of pulling my hair out because I had overlooked min-width on a couple things*  There we go, 25px wide orange button!

Weird, even with all the domains involved allowed, all my external javascript on my blog isn't working...  Why's that?  *tweak miscellaneous things that don't change anything*  Well, it's not some weird obscure NoScript setting...  *on a whim, replace my dynamic script inclusion with regular old <script src=""></script> tags*  Oh hey, I could have sworn they filtered out src attributes on script tags before!  *tweak the twitter widget slightly so now there's a link to my Twitter page there if the relevant script is blocked*

Oh yeah, the status bar is now the "add-on bar" and link URLs are now shown in a manner similar to Chromium...  *hides add-on bar, removes GreaseMonkey "Link HREF in title attribute" script*

*as I'm browsing around, I notice that the stop and refresh buttons automatically swap places as need be*  For-fucking-finally!  I had to use an extension to get that on Firefox 3.6, and you only ever need to see one or the other anyway...

*goes to Google Documents*  Tell me I'm using an old browser now, bitch!

So overall it's been a positive experience.  Now to leave it running for a few days and check the memory usage...  Especially because I haven't yet watched any YouTube videos after making the switch and doing all the configuration.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Updating Firefox

The time has come.  It's technically been "the time" for quite some time now.  I remember hearing about Firefox 4 and all the stuff it was supposed to have, then I ran a few of the betas and the first RC in a VM to try them out, then it was released and the "wait for extensions to be updated" game began.

Except I kind of lost track, and some wise guy at Mozilla decided it'd be a great idea to unveil Firefox 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10 shortly thereafter.  Seriously, what are they trying to accomplish by releasing so many major version updates so quickly?  Other than fuck with extension developers, that is.


I went to Mozilla's site to download Firefox and it offered me 8.0.1.  So I set that up in a VM, on a brand new profile, and went about my business checking extensions and trying to find equivalents for things that weren't updated.  I think I've got it all sorted out, because at some point I stopped installing and configuring extensions and started using Stylish to fuck with Fx8's user interface.

The combined title bar/tab bar before I fucked with it......and after I fucked with it.

As it turns out, almost everything I use or rely upon on a daily basis has been updated, and there were one or two things that I found acceptable substitutes for.

My four staples: AdBlock Plus, NoScript, GreaseMonkey, and Stylish, all stay on the Firefox bleeding edge anyway.  So no problem there.

In fact, pretty much everything was updated.  I was honestly surprised.

The only thing that wasn't updated was Screengrab!.  The flurry of Firefox updates claimed that.  But sifting through the sea of "oh just change the maxVersion" and "I changed the maxVersion but stuff doesn't quite completely work", I found a comment that recommended a different extension, Abduction!.  Installed that, and it checks up nicely.

Tweaking settings made me realize that disablemenu, which would auto-hide the menubar and statusbar, is no longer necessary.  Ever since Firefox got that mode where the tab bar gets merged with the title bar, basically.  Combine that with Classic Compact and its options extension having the option to have the tab bar always merged with the title bar, and it's available all the time now, even on the rare occasion where I don't have Firefox maximized.

I sifted out a few extensions I wasn't really using anymore and were just eating up space/memory/etc. as well.

Also I derp'd.  I couldn't find Fast Dial in the add-on search built into the addons window, and briefly had another "new tab = bookmarks" extension installed.  But then I investigated the extension's page on addons.mozilla.org and realized it was indeed compatible, I just had to download a different version that wasn't available from the nice big blue install button.

Also, I'll need to hack BetterPrivacy again, as the mass deletion dialog is still horribly ambiguous.

So, yeah.  Updating Firefox to a new major version number for the first time in forever.  Feels kind of weird.

Friday, December 2, 2011

I Miss Melty Blood

Talking with Honya on Twitter about Melty Blood made me realize how long it's been since I've played the game.  There's a few reasons for this.  Other than stating those, I'm just going to cover some of my favorite stuff to do with certain characters.  Note that I'm in no way actually decent at the game, so likely very little will apply to tourneyfags and will probably make me look like a total n00b (or as the fighting game community likes to say, scrub).

Technically I could fire the game up at any time.  I have it, the PS2, a screen, speakers, a controller, and a save with everything unlocked on my memory card.  There's no real physical barrier.

But what's infinitely more fun than playing fighting games by yourself, against the AI?  Playing fighting games against real people.  That's what I haven't had the opportunity to do.

The reason for this is due to something simple yet mind-bogglingly unexpected.  Every Friday I'd get together with friends and we'd play games.  Board games, card games, and since I was bringing my PS2, console games.  This took place with a subset of CAINE, in one of their dorms.  However, this semester, our host and all five of his suitemates somehow forgot to bring a TV.  No TV, no PS2.  Simple as that.

Now, of course, there is a solution, though it takes a lot of effort.  I've done it once, and it was more hassle than it was worth.  Basically, take my screen, PC speakers, and assortment of audio cables necessary to route the audio from the PS2 to my PC speakers.  Due to space limitations it had to be set up a fair distance away from the rest of the gaming action and was sorely underused.  Also, I'd just gotten Guitar Hero 5 at that point and was obsessed, so that's what I was playing, and hadn't brought enough regular controllers for anything else.

With the reasons out of the way, we move on to discussing fun stuff to do in Melty Blood.  I'll start with Kohaku.  I don't really have a "main", but she's the one I have more playtime with than any other character.

I love abusing her molotov cocktails.  They build magic circuit like crazy, she's invulnerable while dropping them, and if they're blocked they offer enough blockstun to be completely safe enough for me to land and try something else.  Since this is stealthily Actress Again we're talking about, whacking bombs around the screen with Half-Moon style Kohaku is also quite fun.  Basically, I play Kohaku as a troll character.

Mech-Hisui has a ton of fun stuff including a wide array of projectiles to spam.  My favorite thing though has to be her 4B flamethrower.  People think they're going to be jumping in, and surprise!  You're on fire!

Back in Act Cadenza I really annoyed the shit out of a friend with Nero Chaos' summons, specifically the deer.  Once you get that shit started it's hard to get knocked out of it.  I haven't really played him much in Actress Again, but they can't have changed him all that much.

Even though I play Kohaku as a troll character, the game has two troll characters built in.  Yes, I'm talking about Neko-arc and Neko-arc Chaos.  They're much smaller than the rest of the cast and have a wide array of moves to cause much annoyance, including screen-wide beams and a teleport move for easy mixups.  Word to the wise, stay away from their air dash, it's slow as balls.  Neko-arc has an aerial move that I use in place of her air dash, I believe it's j.214B.  I don't really feel like firing up the game or looking up a move list just to check, though.

The tag team of Hisui and Kohaku is always fun to play, just because of the combos you can make while using the sisters in tandem.  Couple that with being able to switch which one you're controlling to completely change your available move list and having access to both of their arc drives regardless of who you're controlling and you get a complete experience.  I spend most of my time controlling Kohaku, so I can abuse the Hisui assist where she runs forwards and knocks the opponent into the wall.  Following up on that (or just using it repeatedly for trollolols) is pretty fun.  Sometimes though I'll switch back to controlling Hisui and go in for some beatdown.

There's three versions of Akiha in Actress Again, and they all play slightly differently.  Oddly enough, the settings menu claims that Akiha Vermillion is my best character.  I think that's just based off of Arcade mode, though.  Regardless of which one you choose, she's got options for beatdowns.

I kind of feel like there's someone I'm leaving out that I used to play a fair amount.  Since I can't think of the name I'll just end the post here.  If I remember I may edit it in, but that's unlikely.

Since it's on my mind, can't wait for the last four episodes of Carnival Phantasm.