Monday, April 30, 2012

Internet Diagnosis

So I've known for a while that I've had an irrational fear of phones.  No matter what I know will happen during a phone call, I just want to avoid it no matter what.  Even when calling my mom at work, which involves asking whoever answers the phone to transfer the call to her, I get all shaky.  As in, my body physically shakes.  For a much longer period of time than the phone call lasts.  Even though I know the procedure and know everything will be okay.

I also haven't answered the home phone in quite many years.  I don't remember why I started ignoring it, but excessive telemarketing was part of it.  The other, more rational reason, is that the phone is never for me.  Me answering the phone is the same as the caller on the other end leaving a voice mail message.  The logic center of my brain tells me that since the two are the same, the act of me answering the home phone is unnecessary.

This might be linked to why I'm still unemployed and why I still live at home with my parents despite being 29 years old.

On a hope that the internet would help me, I popped "shaking when picking up a phone" into Google.  After sifting through the mostly irrelevant results about phone companies "shaking things up", I found one that sounded like it might be what ails me.  Specifically, this page about Social Anxiety Disorder.  I browsed around that site for a while and it really sounds plausible.

Today's episode was brought on by the necessity of getting my car inspected.  In typical fashion, I have put it off until the very last day of the month.  It has to be done before the end of today.  I was going to call the place I usually go to and see what a good time to go there would be.  I was only going to do this because last year when I went in a similar situation a few days before the end of the month I was met with anger that I hadn't called ahead and scheduled or anything.  In the end, they did end up inspecting it, but it wasn't that positive of an experience overall.

My thoughts are going back and forth between "just go down there" and "maybe I should go to the other place just down the road..."

The shaking is what sets in first, but other things shortly follow.  Currently I still feel a bit shaky, but there's also some chest discomfort.  This is two hours after I picked up the phone.  I never even made a call, things had begun setting in before I was able to place the call.  I'm sure there were other things, but they may have gone away by this point.  I am a bit sweaty and the shirt that I'm wearing that's normally large on me doesn't feel large on me.  I've also had a harder time typing than normal while writing this post.

A while back I decided to get a cell phone.  Part of the reason was that my friends were all saying I should get one (peer pressure), and the other reason was to try and combat this fear of phones.  I have no trouble using it, though I only use it rarely because I hardly ever have a need of calling anyone, and I don't have signal at home.

I'm generally fine with social situations, though I am a bit reserved unless I have someone sitting next to me to carry on a conversation with.  I think I actually over-talk in situations like that.  I do experience times where a group of us are loudly voicing their opinions on some issue and they all agree and I disagree.  I generally stay quiet in those situations.  However I've never had much trouble with public performances.  I did piano recitals as a kid, was in the school band from fifth grade through twelfth grade (though I wanted out after eighth grade, nobody would let me quit), and even ran for class treasurer one year of middle school, which involved putting up campaign posters and giving a speech.  When I quit piano and when I tried to quit band, I was accused of "trying to run away" or "stopping when it gets difficult", which probably didn't help my development at all.

I've never really had many friends and have had to rely on special interest groups to obtain them (i.e. the anime club at UVa, which I'm a member of despite not being a UVa student).  That awkward feeling when the age gap between you and your friends gets bigger every year.

These last two paragraphs are to provide extra evidence that may or may not help in an actual diagnosis, but from reading the site I linked a mile above, Social Anxiety Disorder seems to fit my situation.  It might also be related or pertinent that according to the Myers-Briggs Personality Test, I'm an INTJ.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Magicka update!

If you read my Twitter, you pretty much already know the gist of this post.

So, I saw Steam download a relatively small update for Magicka a couple days ago.  Naturally I was intrigued since we were due a big bugfix update sometime mid-February, but mid-February came and went, and no update.

I click the handy "View News" link from the update and see that according to the notes, it's just adding the Reddit Robe.  Okay, a robe as a free update instead of $1-$3 DLC, that's nice, but it made absolutely no mention of the one thing that I and everyone else who has the game had been waiting for for quite some time now: the fix to the achievement "Banisher of Horrors".

Ever since the release of Magicka: The Stars Are Left, it was broken.  It would not log progress.  People did tests, basically standing in the room of the third chapter that spawns endless enemies, just repeatedly killing them for upwards of half an hour.  No achievement.

So, I cut my losses and fire up Magicka to check out the new robe.  It turns out the items it comes with are pretty neat.  The sword applies random effects like water, frost, poison, arcane damage, and possibly more to enemies, sometimes two at once (so you can insta-freeze people at random).  The staff will cast a spell with whatever elements you have available (well, in the Outsmouth challenge, at least), but it tends to bias towards mines, and if both shield and arcane are available that's pretty much all you get.  In an environment where all elements are available, it only lays mines.  I tried walking over them with various elemental shields on but couldn't quite figure them out, so my guess is they have a combination of elements.  Also occasionally it will throw out healing mines.

After playing around with that robe for a while, I exited the game and went about my business.  I actually went and got some sleep.  When I came back to my computer, I took a look at the Steam forum for Magicka, and someone made a fairly vague post that could possibly be interpreted to mean that Banisher of Horrors was fixed.  So, I fired up Magicka again to go check.

Get into Chapter 3 of The Stars Are Left, head on into the infinite enemy room, and kill an enemy...

Achievement Progress: Banisher of Horrors (1/1000).


I proceeded to stay there and get into a rhythm of casting spells that would kill the enemies before they got to me.  Which is made more difficult by the Shoggoth that spawns initially.  Once it's down, the rhythm is fairly simple.  Toss shield, two lightning, and two frost onto your sword.  Then stand right between the first two archways where the enemies come out.  Doing this will make them only come out of those two archways.  Swing the sword to cast the spell into one of the archways, then re-cast it for the other archway.  The frost will slow them down, letting the lightning fry them.  Keep both of them active at all times.  This is made more difficult by the camera movement, which tends to move just before you're about to swing your sword.

It really doesn't take very long once you get into the proper rhythm.  After a few fumbles I settled in and got it within about 15 or 20 minutes.  It gets a bit tiring constantly re-casting the same spell over and over again, but if you're like me and you had just that achievement left for 100%, well, you're going to have to do it one way or another.

Strangely enough, even though the Outsmouth challenge spawns the correct enemies to be killing for the achievement, it doesn't progress there...  Even though it would have taken longer, I think I would have preferred to at least get some of the progress done there, just because that challenge is so much fun.  Magicka needs more challenges that restrict the elements you have available at any given time.  It really forces you to think, since you won't always be able to rely on your standard repertoire of spells that you know and love, or for that matter, magick spam.  The Outsmouth challenge was how I discovered the awesome lightning(x2)-fire(x2) staff cast combination.  Lightning jumps between enemies dealing damage, and they all get set on fire.  It's great for running laps around the house in the middle playing keep-away from things.  Anyway.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Rogue Galaxy session 6

With Gale defeated, the story can continue.  Since I didn't leave the mines after the previous session, that was the first thing to do.  Fortunately there's a save point/teleporter nearby, so I could just teleport back to Angela's Bar rather than having to run back and go up the elevator to use that teleporter.

Apparently Angela decided to leave the place, and the crew talked Deego into stopping her, which ended up being the right decision.

Gale gets "seen off" by the Morarty family.  Or so they thought.  Gale pulls a gun and kills Zax Morarty and his henchmen.  Afterwards, he sees his old henchman and tells him he's free, only to get stabbed by him, fall down the stairs, and die.

Back on the Dorgenark, we informed Dorgengoa about what happened with the tablet and then we go after Daytron.  Apparently they're taking it to Rosa.  Kisala experiences some weird thing that she ends up explaining to Lilika.  Then we got to Rosa, finally.

Only to be interrupted by the president of Daytron manipulating the old Longardian commander into buying 300 new warships.  After securing the deal he then left for Rosa.

We arrived on Rosa, came up with a plan thanks to Jaster being the only one on the Dorgenark that knows Rosa (having grown up there and all...), and...  end cutscene.  During that final bit of the cutscene, Dorgengoa gave me a coin that's supposed to symbolize my membership of his crew or something.  Whatever, it was a revelation item, and unlocked an ability for Jaster.  Anyway.

Having regained control I poked around the menus and noticed I was able to select my party at will.  First order of business: Skip the planet and go back to Zerard to see if I can get anything else out of Galaxy Corporation.

On Zerard, I got three more quarries, and noticed that I'm four hunter coins away from a better license, which will mean reduced vendor prices and ability to buy more license-restricted stuff, though I've only noticed things that require a platinum license and my next one is gold.  Oh well.

One of the quarries I got was a monster in the Rose Nebula, so of course I had to go check that out.  I ended up having the item I needed and beat it right then.  The other two quarries are in the starship factory on Zerard and somewhere in the desert on Rosa.

With not a heck of a lot of side stuff to do, I went back to Vedan where I could get some challenge battles.  40 Hunter Coins thrown at stupid idol girl, Gold License gained.  Now I get a 20% discount at shops.  Now I just need to do 60 more challenges for the Platinum License...

After looking at some item descriptions I realized I now had the item necessary to trigger the fight for the quarry in the mines on Vedan, so I did that...  and promptly used all of my Max Heals and Healing Potions, most of my Tri-Heals, and started in on my Elixirs.  I guess I wasn't ready for that battle, but regardless I beat it, and jumped up to 17th in the hunter rankings.

After a resupply trip to Zerard to stock up on Max Heals and so forth, I headed back to Rosa and went to the ruins where the tablet was taken.  There I saved and decided to call it a night.

Friday, April 20, 2012

White Belt

Yeah, couldn't resist the joke.

So in the interests of keeping current with the state of web development, I decided I'd better learn a JavaScript framework or two.  First up is the one that seems most like I would actually want to use it in a production setting, Dojo.

It has a really small footprint and you load in just the modules you need, which is exactly how I like my stuff to work.  If I don't need a portion of it, I can just not load it.  That means I don't have to have the code for all the fancy resource-intensive effects loaded just to hook a few browser events and do some AJAX requests.

I've done a few things with it so far just to teach myself various things.  They have some tutorials on their site that help, but I pretty much sidetracked into toying around with the parts I wanted to learn moreso than others.  I'll get to the rest eventually.

So I have three test scripts.  The first is your standard Hello World done via Dojo.  The second is adding a click event to a button that pops up an alert box when you click the button.  The third is making asynchronous requests for data after the page is loaded, perhaps better known in the industry as AJAX.

Also, I have an index page for the whole thing that uses AJAX to populate the list of all the stuff I've written and generate links to it all.

It's pretty simple and looks pretty powerful, I'm sure I'll get into it a lot more after I get some sleep.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Rogue Galaxy: Deego's Battle Preparations session 2

This might very well be the last session of preparing Deego for battle.  There will be a little backtracking to be had if I can get my hands on one of the other two keys I need, but otherwise it'll be all fighting on Vedan, with the occasional departure to see if any of the vendors that I've bought out of a few items that I need have restocked yet, and perhaps some farming of items for various things in the Factory.

So this post could be a bit short, because there's not much to say other than "I'm doing level grinding for Deego."  My goal is to get him high enough level to use the axe I found for him, which will be level 41, plus however many battles it takes to get it to the max state.

Also during the previous session, I realized that one of the quarries (essentially large bounties on unique beasts) I got is on Vedan and I have the item I need to trigger the fight and I know exactly where I need to go to use the item and trigger it.  I'll probably do that towards the end of the session as sort of a warm-up for the fight against Gale.

I probably said this in an earlier post (lol Blogger's lack of any form of a cross-referencing system), but I have no clue what a typical level curve for this game is, so I have no clue if I'm underlevelled or overlevelled.  If I'm overlevelled, it's not by much because I didn't really do any grinding at all before getting Deego.

Another thing.  I freaking hate the mines on Vedan.  All these annoying enemies that I have to jump to hit (max of 3 hit combo, then land, jump, and repeat...) that set the entire party on fire and cause lots of damage.  I guess I need to level up more or something.  I loved one-shotting everything when I backtracked to Juraika and Rosa.  If only I could freely change my party, I could see if Lillika's bow is any good against the "jump-to-hit" enemies.  Also, I need to start doing some weapon synthesis stuff, since I have a lot of weapons ready for it now.

Did you know you can actually sell things at shops in this game?  I haven't found a reason to do so yet.

Anyway.  That's the prologue to this session.  Watch it be longer than the session summary. (post-edit: lol)

Grinding levels for Deego basically consisted of running around Myna (because fuck those mines) in an area with a save point, fighting a few battles, and running over the save point to get HP/AP replenished.  It's cheap, but effective.

I was doing laps around the structure outside of Angela's Bar when I got the item I needed for another one of Deego's abilities, Wonder Howl which is an attack that hits everything.  This ability so happens to be the prerequisite for his Burning Strike, so now I have that, and I got him some Evil Resistance as well.  I began to feel a bit better about him since he finally obtained the standard repertoire of attack boost, protection, thrown item boost, and hit everything abilities.

After a while of grinding and getting bored grinding, I went and completed that quarry.  Wasn't too difficult.  In the process of all this grinding, I went up quite a few hunter ranks.  I've also noticed that the amount of experience required for the next level seems to be fixed at 11616.  I'm not quite sure why it's fixed, but it certainly makes levelling up easier.

After a while of rotating various weapons through I started doing some weapon synthesis and ended up with some pretty awesome sub-weapons for Jaster and Kisala.  After some work maxing it out, it was time to fight Gale.


Since starting Deego's Battle Preparations:
  • He's gone up 10 levels
  • He's gotten three more abilities, Top Dog, Wonder Howl, and Burning Strike Lv1; on top of Break Throw and Bone Shield.  He also got Bone Shield upgraded to Lv2.
  • He's gotten three stat boosts, Attack Up Lv1, Fire Resistance Lv1, and Evil Resistance Lv1.
  • I got him a much more powerful axe and a new gatling gun.
Down goes Gale!  I had to watch Deego's health during the fight, but between Bone Shield Lv2, guarding to refill the action meter and reduce damage, and the damage that the axe (Brave Spirit) that was the entire reason I levelled him up to 41 puts out (with Top Dog on at all times), Gale went down pretty quickly.  Oh and Deego's gatling, which I'd found a slightly better one than the one he had when he joined, was a big help when Gale was a bit away from Deego, since Deego's the slow and powerful archetype.

My reward?  A chest I can't open because I don't have the Star Key, a couple items for the Factory/people's Revelation Flows, and an Ancient Scroll II, which I gave to Jaster and upgraded his Burning Strike, which is now a 7 hit combo instead of a 5 hit combo.  Hopefully I'll start finding the things in shops and the wild soon...

A little more exploring would reveal a few more chests, one containing a new costume for Deego.  Also, I found the thinking circle for my other quarry, but I don't have the item to trigger the fight.  Oh well.

So, story.  Turns out the Morarty family was just using Gale, and it's likely that the Daytron Corporation is responsible for the whole thing.  That and they stole the tablet.  So I have to go back empty-handed...  Not that I could have picked that thing up anyway, it took a huge transport ship to lift it in the cutscene.

Hunter rankings-wise, I got up to rank 40.

Sub-session complete.  I suppose it's only appropriate to end a battle preparation sub-session with the defeat of the boss that caused me to need the battle preparation sub-session in the first place, so next session will be a real session again.  I didn't even leave the mines, so I haven't seen what if anything happens when I return to town (I imagine I should talk to Angela...) and when I return to the Dorgenark.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Game Projects

So, I casually mentioned on Twitter that I have a PS2 game lined up after Rogue Galaxy.  This will be in addition to Project 'Bout Fuckin' Time, or rather alongside it.  I'm not saying which game it is yet, and I won't until I consider myself done with Rogue Galaxy.  "Considering myself done" means that I've beaten the game and checked out any stuff I missed and/or post-game content, because I believe there is a post-game area with some extra stuff to unlock.  GameFAQs' "cheats" page says that I can get a swimsuit costume for Kisala...

Of course, I'm far from beating Rogue Galaxy, so perhaps it was a bit premature to say what I said on Twitter, seeing as how it's set off a series of responses from my friends all hoping I'm choosing specific games...

@miki_sei said "Is it Persona? Because it should really be Persona."

@therealmonsoon said "oh man please say your next PS2 project is God of War 1+2. Everyone should play those."

Well, sorry to say, but it's neither of those, and speculation is useless because you probably won't guess the game.  I'm only going to give a vague clue that won't help at all because I've never really discussed this with anyone, and that would be that it's a game I've wanted to play for a long time but never had the chance to do so until now.

Don't get me wrong, Persona and the God of War series are both generally highly regarded games that I might get to at some point, but they're not what I chose...

Rogue Galaxy: Deego's Battle Preparations session 1

Since I need to get Deego more abilities and stat boosts and whatnot before I can even think about taking on Gale, I pretty much need to grind items for his Revelation Flow.  I took this opportunity to use my newly-unlocked galaxy map travel to revisit a few places and pick up some missed items, most notably the Earth Key in the Chief's hut on Juraika.  It'd be really nice if there was a guide that has all the locations of all the chests that require these keys, as manually scouring everywhere I've already been for chests is going to take a while.

I was worried that since the mission to recover the tablet was essentially Jaster's test to see if he stays on the pirate ship, that returning to it before beating Gale would auto-fail the mission and give me a bad end, but it didn't.  So, whatever.  I needed to get items for peoples' respective Revelation Flows off of Juraika anyway.

While on Juraika, I made a note of where the keyed chests were that I don't yet have the proper key for.  I continued making these notes while revisiting Rosa and Zerard.  I was really hoping that one of the chests I found that required the Earth Key would give me either the Sun Key or the Star Key, but no such luck.  At least I'm now keeping track of the locations of these chests I'm going to have to backtrack for later.  Also, along the way I found a few regular chests that I'd missed, explored an entire area of the Starship Factory that I wasn't able to explore when going in there to fight Jupis, got some better items (one of which is a better axe for Deego, which he's too low level to use), and farmed some Revelation Flow and Factory stuff.

Deego now has the ability Top Dog, which increases his damage.  In addition, I've gotten him up to level 35, he's now only three levels behind the rest of the crew.

The factory stuff I did involved a lot of running around stealing people's ideasgetting blueprints, and then realizing I could make a few of them.  I now have access to the Trap Canceller, which disarms traps on trapped chests with 100% accuracy.  I also now have access to the Tri-Elixir, which refills everyone's HP and AP.

After having gotten two different fourth-wall-breaking quips from Kisala a few times ("Hey, shouldn't you save soon?" and "Wow, you've been playing forever.  Why don't you take a break?"), I decided maybe I should have a snack and stop playing for a while, so I headed back to Vedan where I'll really begin grinding Deego's experience levels.  There's a big beast there I need to hunt down anyway.

I'd love to get the items I need to unlock the abilities that are the precursors for Kisala's and Deego's Burning Strikes.  Unfortunately I have no clue where I need to go to get them.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Ugh, Comcast

It's no secret, Comcast is one of the country's worst ISPs.  What sucks is, they're essentially the only choice for internet around here.  DSL is balls slow, and Verizon said "lol you know what, we're done rolling out FIOS, so if you don't have it, fuck you" a while back.

For the past few months I believe Comcast has been throttling my internet connection.  They've gotten in trouble with the FCC for throttling in the past, and that's what led to them putting the 250 GB/month limit in place.  The only problem: 250GB isn't nearly enough.

Think about it.  There's YouTube, Netflix, Steam, and any number of other entirely legitimate internet services that essentially rely on sending you large amounts of data when you request it.  Even if you don't save 250 GB worth of files from the internet to your hard drive every month, you can still easily reach the limit.  I myself use YouTube fairly often, and have a Steam account through which I download games periodically.

And this is where you begin to realize the conflict of interest.  Comcast wants people to pay them to watch their TV.  So they institute a low monthly cap on their internet connections to curb the amount of entertainment people can get that doesn't come from them.

I'm not sure how, but somehow this needs to end.  The difficult part is gathering evidence to prove that connections are being throttled in the first place.  It seems fairly obvious at first glance, because you can just say "hey, yesterday my connection was fine, but today it's slow as balls", but there are other factors that can come into play that they can easily try and shift the blame to.  What we need is proof that anyone that goes over 250 GB in a given month experiences slower connection speeds.  Which is difficult to obtain for most people because Comcast offers zero monitoring software to see exactly how much you've used.  Monitoring software does exist in various forms, for example, the router software pfSense contains a page that will tell you how much you've used.  There are also various freeware programs you can download to monitor it.

So, yeah.  Comcast, stop throttling my internet.  If I wanted to watch anything on any of the TV channels that you have, I'd watch it.  Hell, I do watch stuff, just not as often as I guess you'd like me to.  It's mostly auto racing and random free movies from your on demand service.  Speaking of your on demand service, can we get more Gabriel Iglesias Comedy Central specials?  You can re-run the old ones and I won't mind one bit...

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Cherry Blossom Festival 2012

Due to weather being, well, unpredictable, the cherry trees bloomed a few weeks in advance of the festival in DC.  I know this because we have two cherry trees in our front yard, and let's just say our driveway has returned to being black.

Coming from a sarcastic suggestion from the King of Bad Ideas™, CAINE actually ended up joint-chartering a bus with Japan Club.  However, there was an extra cost to ride said bus (driver and company gotta get paid, you know...), and a select few of us said "fuck it" and drove.  Which ended up unwittingly being the better decision, as I'll delve into later.

So in the interests of saving gas and money, a friend and I carpooled up to the Vienna/Fairfax-GMU Metro station.  The station wasn't very crowded, kind of like last year.  We got our day passes for the metro and hopped on.  Both of us noticed this extremely cute asian girl a few seats away from us.  I dunno about him, but I had a hard time not staring.

Anyway, we got to the festival and never saw her again, so I guess it doesn't matter.

First order of business, as always, was food.  We did a quick flyby of all the food places to see what was available and went to the place with takoyaki and okonomiyaki, which ended up having one of the slowest lines of any of the food places.  Then when we got to the head of the line we were told we'd have to wait 10 to 15 minutes to get takoyaki and okonomiyaki.  So we waited.  And then we ate.  Then we went a few tables over and got some taiyaki from a much faster place for dessert.

Food taken care of, up next was wandering the street to see what was available.  One of the vendors had the Perfect Grade model of Evangelion Unit 01.  We resigned to the fact that we didn't have enough money to get it, even without actually inquiring about the price since it wasn't listed, and walked around more.

Honestly, I think I just go to this thing for the food.  I don't think I've bought anything from any of the other vendors, ever.  We walked around for a few more hours, then decided to leave a bit early so we could beat the crowd on the metro.  It was about 4 PM once we were finally on the orange line headed back towards Vienna/Fairfax-GMU.

Meanwhile, the bus people had to meet up a bit before 4 PM to get on their bus to come back.

After being caught off-guard by there no longer being a Wendy's on 29 South near the I-66 interchange, we ended up going to a Burger King in Warrenton.  No big deal, it was a straight shot from 29 South, so it was easy to get back on track once we were done.

We rolled in close to 7:30 and went our separate ways.  Since my friend actually drives on a regular basis, he actually understands the concept of gas money, and I actually got some gas money.  Anyway, I went across town to my usual fill-up spot and actually got a full fill this time.  296.5 or so miles on my previous tank, which wasn't a full fill.  I love being able to drive to DC and back on one tank of gas.

Got home, took a look at TweetDeck, and discovered that the bus that the rest of the club was riding had broken down and they were trying to fix it.  Then, after a while of being stranded and apparently failing at fixing the bus, they called in a backup bus.  I still don't think they're back yet.  Hopefully, our on-scene Twitter correspondent, @rune_devros, will keep us informed of what's happening.  If I'd been in charge I would have called the backup bus in immediately, gotten people where they needed to go, and then worried about the broken bus...

So, yeah.  Glad I didn't take the bus.  I instead took a nice relaxing shower.

Edit (10:56 PM): As of 10:32 PM, they appear to have gotten to the outskirts of the city now.  Which probably means everyone's either home now or off drinking somewhere trying desperately to forget that experience.

Post-mortem edit: The whole bus thing was neat, but overall I think maybe CAINE should reconsider having to pay more per-individual to charter a bus than it would cost to pay those of us in the club who drive gas money.  Just sayin'.  I'm not trying to make a profit here, the money goes strictly to gas.  Which costs a lot.

Friday, April 13, 2012

I Get It Now

It kind of hurts me to post such a scathing opinion of a company that's making a game that I'm extremely excited about, but they're just annoying me too much right now.


Guild Wars 2.

Fascist Non-Disclosure Agreements.


I'll tell you why.  They want to prevent regular people like you and me from posting our opinions about the game.  They can't control our opinions.  They can't control what screenshots or videos we post.  This is why they have such a fascist NDA that doesn't even let people mention that they're taking part in whatever's going on.  This is also why they give much less restrictive NDAs to popular internet gaming news outlets.  Because they know they've got those places indoctrinated and that they'll only give good reviews and opinions.

This is not about protecting any "trade secret".  If there were any "trade secret" to protect, they wouldn't have shown gameplay at multiple game conventions or had computers set up at those game conventions where people could play the game.  It's quite obvious they want people to know what's in the game.  They just look at the free and open internet and go "oh no we can't control that gotta clamp it down".  In that sense, they're no better than the RIAA, MPAA, or any other supporter of SOPA or SOPA-like legislation.

There are aspects of the game that have never been revealed to us either through official articles or articles from their indoctrinated news sites.  I want to know about these aspects.  I want to know what the party interface is like, how using skills on allies will work, what the racial bonuses are, what the stats are, what the traits are, and more.  But they're not telling or permitting anyone who's played the game to tell.  The only way we'll find out is after the first Beta Weekend Event.

I'm sure Guild Wars 2 will be an awesome game.  Everything I've seen from their indoctrinated media outlets has said so, at least.  But I don't want puppet opinions.  I want public opinions.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

YouTube CSS Tweaks

I've mentioned this off and on on Twitter, but never actually showed anything about it.  Basically, YouTube's new layout for the subscription box has way too much padding everywhere and it makes the page scroll unnecessarily.  So, armed with the Firefox extension Stylish, I set out to bring it back in line, and a victory was had.

As a plus, I forced everything to stay within the layout, so the page never has a vertical scroll bar.  It still scrolls if there's too many videos or if I subscribe to enough people, but the scrolling happens entirely within the interface as opposed to making the whole page scroll.  I'd wanted this for a while and just never got around to forcing it until now.

Without screenshots, mentioning this is kind of useless, and that's exactly why I wrote this post anyway: to post screenshots.  Two of them.  The two that matter.  Being what the subscription box looks like without my CSS tweaks active, and what it looks like with them active.

Before my tweaks
After my tweaks

I didn't post the CSS anywhere right away because it needed some cleanup and a lot of commenting.  I've done all that now.  The reason for the necessity of the comments is that a fair number of values need to be adjusted to suit your display resolution and Firefox interface size when you have the browser maximized, and I needed to explain exactly what the relationships between all the values were so they could be easily adjusted.

Some parts might not look all that great, for instance, the menu that pops up over the layout when you click your account name.  However, it works and it never makes the page scroll vertically, which was my main concern.

Anyway, here's a link to the CSS.  Directions for adjusting it to fit your display resolution and Firefox interface size when the browser is maximized are included within, as previously stated.  To get started, you'll need to copy/paste the CSS into a new style in Stylish.  Enjoy.

Also, feel free to use this CSS as the basis for your own YouTube CSS modifications.  A suggestion would be applying the padding reduction and layout width increase to the whole of the site.  If you use this CSS or any portion thereof in your CSS, all I ask is that you give me credit, place my blog URL in your CSS comments, and let me know where I can get a copy.

Edit (4/18/2012): Ugh.  Figures.  Just after I'm happy with it and post it, YouTube makes tweaks that fuck it up.  Looks like I'm going to have to redesign the entire thing.  Fuck you, YouTube.

Edit 2 (4/18/2012): Re-did the entire thing, and somehow the CSS is a lot simpler now.  The link now points to the updated version.  Despite being almost entirely newly-written CSS, it looks nearly identical to the original.

Edit 3 (4/18/2012): Afterthought: The sheer amount of tweaking this CSS requires for different display resolutions and browser setups is why I'm not posting it on

Edit 4 (4/27/2012): Between page views Firefox decided that the page needed a vertical scroll bar, and because my CSS doesn't leave enough room for one in the layout's width, a horizontal scrollbar as well.  I did some tweaking and fixed it.  Also you can once again have the addon bar active without causing a scroll bar.

I then realized that a lot of what I'm saying works is entirely dependent on my Firefox config.  I run a pretty heavily modified setup using the theme Classic Compact, its configuration extension Classic Compact Options, and a few more tweaks that Classic Compact doesn't do done via CSS in Stylish.  So in the end a lot of the vertical heights (well, just the big one really) will need to be fine-tuned by you if you choose to use this CSS.  I could add a proper content_height calculation that depends on an interface_height variable and make you screenshot your Firefox and load it in a graphics program to get the interface_height, but I don't want to.  Just make sure that when you're tweaking the height, you have the addon bar active, even if you don't use it.

Edit 5 (4/28/2012): Noticed that the video list wasn't quite tall enough by 3px (rough eyeballed estimate that ended up being spot-on correct), and fixed it.

Edit 6 (5/09/2012): YouTube changed the name of a CSS class, which broke one of my style rules.  Fixed.

Edit 7 (9/06/2012): Added interface_height constant, updated content_height calculation, and added explanations for all the hard-coded values in the calculations.  Also, as noted here, I now run at 1440x900 instead of 1152x864, so the CSS is now pre-set to work at 1440x900.

Monday, April 9, 2012


With TweetDeck having been acquired by Twitter and the subsequent removal of useful features including but not limited to TweetDeck's long update service,, that let you post updates that were longer than 140 characters, I've been thinking about switching Twitter clients.  I moved to TweetDeck originally because the very first New Twitter was absolutely horrible and the redesigns that have followed haven't improved it at all.

A few friends of mine are using Janetter, so I downloaded it and tried it out for a bit.

It's got a simple interface similar to TweetDeck and lets you easily follow conversations between people.  TweetDeck has that feature but it's glitchy and sometimes only shows one tweet from one of the people.

Also, it has something that intrigued me.  Its themes are done entirely with HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.  This came into play straight away because I browsed through the themes and discovered that what I really wanted would essentially require me to combine aspects of a few of them together.  I most definitely have that capability, but it suffers from a complete and total lack of documentation.  I can't just make a new folder in the directory where the themes are stored, copy data from another theme there, modify to my liking, and have my results show up in the theme list automagically.  There is a button you can click to add a new theme, but it prompts for its own special format, which may possibly just be a renamed ZIP archive, but once again, there's no documentation.

Playing around with it I noticed it's got some horrible custom window border bullshit by default, but when changing themes you can check a checkbox that says "Use the default Windows visual style".  And you have to do so every time you change your theme, because the box helpfully unchecks itself.

I was a bit disappointed that it doesn't seem to have the ability to disable automatic updates.  I don't really want anything I have installed automatically updating any portion of itself.  This even goes for Steam and games released upon it, but there even if you disable it you'll find the automatic updates mysteriously re-enabled if you go back in some time later.  I would much prefer a simple notification of an update and a yes/no choice for installing said update.

Feature-wise, it's missing a few things I use in TweetDeck, like the ability to see tweets from people you're following that are replies to people you aren't following.  You can actually see those tweets, but it's buried on a dialog box.  Also missing is a UI column that shows you who's following you.  Once again, it's buried on a dialog box.  And even within that, you can't use Twitter's "Block and report spam" feature.

So, whatever, it's a Twitter client, and the main functionality works.  I kind of went about my business and ignored it for a while, while I did other things.

Then I decided I wanted to play around with it some more, only to discover I couldn't find it on my taskbar.

Double-clicking on its tray icon brings it back up.  I went into the options and verified that "Show in taskbar when minimized" was checked, but it still minimizes to the system tray instead.  I then thought "well, maybe I need to restart it for that change to take effect", so I closed it.  Or so I thought.  The close button also just minimizes to the system tray.  Instead of, you know, actually closing the program.  To close it, you have to right click on the system tray icon and select "Quit".  Which is retarded.

I absolutely hate "minimize to system tray" as a general principle.  I want my shit to be right there on the taskbar where I can find it.  I hide all my system tray icons so that there's more space for the taskbar entries.  I really don't want to have to go into the system tray on a regular basis.

After noticing several updates from people I was following in TweetDeck and having Janetter not notify me about them, I inspected the notification options and noticed that the one notification feature anyone would ever want over any other possible notification feature, being notified of new tweets from the people you're following, is disabled by default.  A lot of sense that makes.

The verdict: I guess I'll just stick with TweetDeck, until the Adobe Air version stops working.  After that, I don't know what I'll do.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Rogue Galaxy mini-session

This wasn't a real session because it was all of about 15 or 20 minutes of gameplay.  At our regular game night, people had migrated back from the consoles to the board games, so after I played some Guitar Hero and got fed up with the lag on the TV, which was still affecting things even after I thought I had it calibrated, I fired up Rogue Galaxy and said "well, maybe I can defeat this fucking boss".

Haha, yeah.



The mining robot is still easy, it just takes time to wear down.  Gale still pwns Deego.  That's that.

So after I re-loaded, I decided to go grind for a bit, since Deego was several levels lower than the rest of the party when he joined.  Then game night started to wrap up, so I went back to the save point, saved, and shut off my PS2 so I could pack it up and go home.

I think what I really need to do is grind items for Deego's Revelation Flow.  Right now he only has two things, Break Throw and Bone Shield.  If he had more abilities and some of the stat boosts, he might stand a chance.  That's my theory at least.

Edit: Theory confirmed by a friend of mine who's played through the game before.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Rogue Galaxy session 5

After everything that happened on that last planet, it seemed only appropriate that there was a little time for relaxing and wandering around the ship.  After a bit of wandering around, the captain woke up from his "nap" and everyone had to gather on the bridge.

Right away he sees that Jaster isn't actually Desert Claw.  No surprise to be honest.  Everyone gets over it pretty quickly and they convince him to keep Jaster on the crew.  Before giving Jaster a new assignment he reveals his secret plan: to find the lost planet of Eden that apparently vanished a long time ago.  But before we can do that we need these tablets, and someone's found one that could be one of the tablets that we're looking for on a mining planet.  So off we go.

Oh and by the way, finding the tablet and figuring out if it's one of the ones we're looking for is Jaster's mission.

Also, YESSSSSSS world map travel unlocked.  As I suspected from the last session when I finally got the ship's galactic travel visa renewed.  It only makes sense, right?

Anyway, party for this mission is just Jaster and Kisala.  I headed off of the ship and topped off my stock of restorative items at a nearby shop.  The captain did mention that the mine in question was controlled by the Morarty family, and indeed I had a run-in with their thugs pretty much right away after I got into the city proper.  But I did learn of a place where a lot of the miners like to hang out, a place called Angela's Bar.  So while keeping Angela's Bar on my mind, mostly because the party chatter wouldn't shut up about it, I roamed around the city fighting random encounters, opening chests, and "looking" for the place.

I don't know how exactly I'm doing it, but I keep having Jaster's Burning Strike hit for 1337 damage.

Once I "finally" found Angela's Bar, after noticing it, saving at the save point in front of it, opening the chests beside it, and then continuing on to finish exploring the city, I met a guy named Gale who seems like a guy in serious need of an ass whooping.  I also met a guy named Deego who later joined my party.  He knows where we can get some black market ID cards to get us into the mine so we can have a look at the tablet.  Sounds legit to me, let's go.

After getting the ID card, Gale and some goons attacked.  I dispatched them pretty easily (Desert Wind Lv2 FTW), but then we found out that Angela's Bar was on fire and we needed to get there right now.  I teleported there via the nearest save point and got clued in as to Gale and Deego's past.  With that done, all that was left to do was off to the mines to find the tablet and put an end to this whole thing.

At the very end of the mine I found Gale with a mining robot.  The robot needed its arms knocked off before I could damage it, and it took a lot of pounding, but it wasn't too difficult.  Then Deego challenges Gale by himself.  After cleaning up Deego from the previous fight I thought I had a chance but I ran in to land some hits and got killed on my way in.  Ugh, this is why I hate playing melee characters.  On my second try, I finished the first fight a bit faster and didn't have to heal Deego, but I still got gunned down by Gale relatively quickly.

I think I'm going to give this the "put it down and pick it up again later" treatment, which usually works for whatever reason.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Spam Text Messages

I got one today.  The message: "Apple is looking for people to Test & Keep the New iPad 3! But only the 1st 1000 users that goto <URL redacted> and enter code <code redacted> will Receive it!"

This message was sent from the number 201-706-1230.

I've done some research and it looks like I'm totally boned as far as reporting it is concerned.  The FCC CAN-SPAM act seems to only apply to messages sent via email, which my phone isn't capable of receiving because it's not a smartphone.  Other places suggested that if it came from a "short code", or one of those 4 or 5 digit numbers, that I'd have options.  But if it was a 10-digit "long code" (which it was), I'm screwed.

All the online caller ID registries I can find say that this number belongs to "NEW Cingular Wireless PCS, LLC - DC" in Jerseycity, New Jersey.  My guess is that if they're not the ones sending the spam, that someone is forging the number, which has historically never been difficult.

The whole stupid thing about this is that even if I did have an option, it would only be to opt out from this one sender.  This type of thing should be strictly opt-in.  Consumers do not exist to be marketed to, it is not a given right to corporations of any size.

So to whoever sent me this message, fuck off.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

April Fools' Day ja naIKA

So there was going to be an April Fools' Day thing on the CAINE forums.  There really was.  I've been avoiding doing the things that make the site unusable for a day, like in previous years where everything filtered to desu or bacon, or the year I added the Unicode right-to-left marker to all posts to flip them around.

I was going to stick something hilarious up there, but a few days before, our host (the very possibly mis-named Dreamhost) fucked with permissions for everything and I can't edit anything to do anything.  That's why the banner for the Evangelion movie that we watched last Thursday is still up there instead of the one promoting the Escaflowne movie we're doing later this month.  Because I can't edit anything anymore.

We did manage to get in contact with the one of us who actually owns the site and has direct access to everything, and he said he fixed it, but it still isn't working.  I'm trying to communicate that to him, but... yeah.

So basically you'll just have to imagine that there was something incredibly funny on the site all day today.