Sunday, May 24, 2015

Day of Racing 2015

I'd just like to begin by saying how much I don't enjoy watching races with my dad and his friend, even though we've been watching them together for decades.  They blab on the entire time and I can't hear what's being said on the TV.  They'll DVR the thing so they can fast forward through the pre-race.  They'll start watching a race late because DVR lol.  I'd like to watch a damn race live and without idiots talking over the TV the entire time.  This mostly applies to Formula 1 races.

It begins, as always, with the Formula 1 Grand Prix of Monaco.  Formula 1 is always criticized for being "a bit of a parade", and the Monaco track is the easiest example of that.  It's the narrowest track on the F1 calendar, really only having two passing zones, but you have to force the issue in both places.  Typically, the winner comes from the front row and your chances drop off dramatically the further back you start.  Today was no exception.  It was a typical ho-hum all-Mercedes front row, and Lewis Hamilton controlled the entire race up until Max Verstappen crashed trying to overtake Romain Grosjean in turn one and brought out a safety car.  Mercedes has made questionable decisions regarding pit strategy all season, and for whatever reason they decided to bring Hamilton in.  He rejoined in third, and Rosberg went on to win his third Monaco Grand Prix in a row, joining a very elite club in the process.  Because NBC cares more about soccer than having a proper F1 production, the podium ceremony and interviews weren't aired live.  I dunno, but last I checked, soccer was one of the least popular sports in the US, right down there with baseball, hockey, bicycle racing, and golf.

From there, it was a quick jump to Subway to get our sandwiches (and cookies!) for lunch, and then my uncle and the beer arrived just in time for the Indy 500.  The Indy 500 has way too much pre-race shenanigans, but it finally got underway.  After some stupid lap 1, turn 1 stuff involving Takuma Sato unwisely trying to make it three wide, people settled down and got into a rhythm.  Unfortunately, my eternal pick to win, Tony Kanaan, crashed out in the later stages of the race.  For a while it looked like Will Power couldn't be caught.  But fortunately for everyone involved, good ol' Juan Pablo Montoya overhauled him with three laps to go and held the position to win.

It quickly became clear that my dad had no intention of watching the Coca-Cola 600 live.  When looking up details to remind myself of the start time, I realized that Fox Sports Go is available to anyone with a cable subscription, and I do happen to have an account on my parents' subscription.  I went through the annoyances of trying to figure out what I needed to do to actually log into the damn thing, then finally gave up and just used SRWare Iron, which I keep purposefully un-tweaked so it'll Just Work™.  Well, I had to disable blocking third-party cookies, but I got it working.  It worked up until just before the end of the pre-race show, when it promptly died.  Trying to log in again gave me a message that said I wasn't authorized.

Confused, I drove to my local Buffalo Wild Wings and watched the race there.  I missed about the first 50 laps in the process, but the race is long enough that it doesn't really matter.  I'm not incredibly invested in one team or another in NASCAR, but it was an enjoyable race.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Hardee's El Diablo Thickburger

A friend of mine already did a Let's Eat™ on this, but I had one today and wanted to register my thoughts.

It's listed as having sliced jalapeños, jalapeño poppers, and an "habanero sauce" as its main spicy ingredients.  I place the habanero sauce in quotes because I didn't really notice it too much, and fast food places are too chicken to use anything spicier than a jalapeño pepper without diluting it down to jalapeño levels of spiciness anyway.

The sliced jalapeños were what I honestly expected, rather than what I had hoped for.  I always hope that restaurants will use fresh peppers, but they're packed.  The packing process sucks away some of the texture as well as a fair amount of the spice, and turns them that ugly greenish-yellow color.  Compare packed jalapeños to a fresh jalapeño pepper next time you're in a grocery store, and tell me which one looks more appealing.

The jalapeño poppers were as I expected them.  In fact, they tasted like someone just ran across the shopping center to Food Lion and grabbed a whole bunch of them from the freezer section.  The cheddar cheese in those just has this weird taste and texture to it that normal cheddar cheese doesn't have.  Thankfully, as I just implied in the previous sentence, the jalapeño poppers were stuffed with cheddar cheese and not cream cheese.  Cream cheese is kind of like ranch dressing: it works in some cases, but not in the vast majority of cases where people actually use it.

Overall, the burger was really tasty, with a fair amount of spice, and if I went to Hardee's with any regularity I'd get another.

Side note: Hardee's, you really need to step up your french fry game.  It's seriously lacking.  You don't have to reach Five Guys' level of awesome, but at least get on par with McDonald's and Burger King, okay?  Hell, even Cook Out has better fries than you.  Also, where's the damn ketchup?  Don't pull a McDonald's and keep it under lock and key...

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Ridge Racer 3D: Flex Nitrous

I bet you didn't think you'd see a post about THIS game again.  Because I'm able to StreetPass myself, I can constantly send myself laps to beat, and thus I've been playing around with things while unlocking the rest of the vehicles and nitrous options for each vehicle.

I'd been using the Hi-Nitrous with the Kamata RC410.  The car is so well suited for the high-speed tracks with fewer drifting opportunities, that I needed to be able to fill nitrous tanks on those tracks to actually be able to use nitrous at all.  Since the Hi-Nitrous charges faster than normal, that seemed like the go-to option.  Before that, I was using Auto-Nitrous, which, as the name might suggest, automatically fills nitrous tanks.  Unfortunately, it does so too slowly for my tastes.

Flex Nitrous had always been sitting there, as one of the options I unlocked just to have everything unlocked, but otherwise ignored.  Until now.

What does Flex Nitrous do anyway?  Well, instead of having multiple nitrous tanks that you can fill up and discharge with the press of a button, you just get one nitrous tank.  One really big nitrous tank.  Instead of the usual "press button, nitrous discharges until tank empties, keep car under control in the meantime" thing with the other nitrous options, this one is more like "hold down buttan to go faster".  Any time you have any nitrous at all, you can just hold the button to use it.  Hold it down long enough and it goes to double nitrous, granting you even more speed.

This makes getting Ultimate Charges ridiculously easy.  Just nitrous down a straight, and release it when starting your drift.  The rhythm you'll need to get into is basically that.  Nitrous down straights, drift the corners to get more nitrous, repeat.  You end up with so much more of the track being viable for using Nitrous when you can use however much of it you want at a time.  This leads to faster lap times.

I was having trouble beating my ghosts on a regular basis until I switched to Flex Nitrous.  Well, one of them, anyway, as the one on the more curvy of the two tracks doesn't really use Hi-Nitrous very well and I was stomping it even with Hi-Nitrous, just by using nitrous more intelligently.  Now the only reason I ever lose to the other ghost is if I fuck up and get a bad start.

Flex Nitrous certainly isn't for everyone.  It takes a lot of good timing, finesse, and perseverance to get the most out of it. You can certainly do really well with Hi-Nitrous or any of the other options.  But if you're looking to eek out those last few hundredths of a second for the perfect lap, try Flex Nitrous, and discover there may actually be a few more seconds you can save.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

A Rant on Flash Video Players

Oddly enough, this doesn't apply to YouTube.  In fact, YouTube is used as an example of how to do things properly, which in itself is kind of sad.

In reality, this only applies to one site: The Escapist.  All I really care about on their site is Zero Punctuation.  So I go there to see what Yahtzee's been up to lately, and the player doesn't load.  Further inspection reveals they've got a new video player.  Fine, I go inspecting all the domains that NoScript is blocking to figure out what I now need to allow for it to work.  Except that before I fumbled around and found the solution, I clicked their handy link they provide for you to click if you can't get their new player working, and get this: THEY ACTUALLY TELL YOU THE DOMAINS YOU NEED TO ALLOW.  Most sites don't do that and it's just a fucking guessing game.  (side note, if you block scripts here, I've got noscript tags that tell you what you need to allow so everything will work, and functionality that I'm in control of gracefully degrades when scripts are blocked)

Then I read this page a bit more and find that the list of domains I need to allow is actually a part of a bigger paragraph where they deliver both the standard "plz disable adblock" and the guilt trip of "we needz teh money", and even go so far as to say "if our ads don't load the video might not load" to try to scare you into unblocking the ads.  Well, guess what.  Allowing script execution from the one domain in your list that I wasn't previously permitting to do so fixed your player's lack of loading.  Now that the player and the video I actually want to watch are both loading fine, I reveal your "player won't work if ads don't load" argument to be FUD.

So while I'm on this page, which is also their regular site FAQ, I see they've got an entire paragraph bitching at people for downloading their videos to watch in external players, saying that they'll ban you if you do it.  That's kind of cheeky.  It's all just a ruse to try and force you to watch their ads, anyway.  Besides, VPNs are cheap and IPs can be dynamic, so what can you really do?  Heck, I remember a long time ago where I couldn't watch 720p YouTube videos in their Flash player, but if I downloaded the video I could watch it just fine in Media Player Classic HomeCinema, which used my system's installed video decoder in place of whatever crap video decoder that Flash uses.

So, back to the video page.  I wondered whether their new video player would let me watch things in HD, but nope, they still have the HD video behind a paywall.  Which makes no fucking sense, given that the majority of successful video hosts provide HD video for free.  The bandwidth cost isn't really an applicable issue, because all the other successful sites have already set a precedent, and your lack of following that precedent stands out like a sore thumb.  It's kind of like how MediaFire was trying to force people to use their premium service just so they could log in via SSL, which is a completely free and open technology.  The only difference is, now HTTPS is forced on MediaFire for all members, but you're stuck watching 480p on The Escapist.

Seriously.  Taking what should be a standard free feature of any site that hosts videos and putting it behind a paywall is EXACTLY like charging people money for DLC where the content is already on the game disc.  Both in practice and in terms of ethics.

Besides, you have both ads and a premium membership.  Surely the revenue from the premium memberships eclipses that of the ad revenue.  Ads pay out in fractions of a cent per thousand views, and because the payout is so low and they're ashamed of it, you're usually under contract not to reveal the exact figure.  In comparison, premium memberships pay out far more consistently and on a much more regular and predictable basis.  Also, the argument I give anyone who considers ad blockers to be hurting the livelihood of anyone who depends on ad revenue: If you're able to do what you do full-time based on ad revenue, guess what?  You're doing that WITH PEOPLE BLOCKING ADS.  There will always be a portion of the population that will block ads, and no amount of whining, bitching, moaning, or complaining will ever be able to change that.

Furthermore, all your video content is available on your YouTube channel anyway, even if you do the douchebaggy thing of uploading it a week after it goes live on your site.  Not only that, but it's available in HD on YouTube.  So much for ever paying specifically for HD.

Now, I like to watch things fullscreen, so the next thing I did was click the fullscreen button.  Only to see that it uses browser fullscreen rather than Flash fullscreen.  What's the difference?  One is managed by the browser, and the other creates an entirely new window where the video player now resides.  It wouldn't be that much of an issue, but I run All-In One Sidebar in Firefox, and when an element goes fullscreen within Firefox, its one pixel of space where I can hover or click to reveal it is still there on the left side of the screen.  If you're already using Flash to deliver your videos, go ahead and just use Flash's fullscreen functionality.

So at this point, I'm convinced that The Escapist is just stuck in the past when it comes to their content delivery.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Unpopular Opinions

Smash Brothers was meant to be fun, not a competitive game.

Final Fantasy and The Legend of Zelda are good but overrated.

The only good Metroid games are the 2D ones.

It's a shame they never made any Castlevania games after Super Castlevania 4.

It's a shame they never made any Call of Duty games after Call of Duty 2.

Chrono Cross exists as a sequel to Chrono Trigger, and is good.

We need fewer survival crafting games.

We need fewer zombie survival games.

MOBAs are overrated.

Collectible Card Games are a waste of money.

Mobile phones aren't a gaming platform.

Mobile phones aren't a proper internet browsing platform.

JavaScript frameworks are for n00bs that don't know JavaScript.

systemd sucks, sysvinit was better.

The second half of Bravely Default wasn't horrible.  Pay attention to the story, you impatient clods!

Anime sucks now.  Everything is moeblobs, idol shit, and fanservice.  Where did the plot and story go?

The best consoles were the SNES and PS2.

Full Metal Panic?  Fumoffu was a good series.

What makes a car "fun to drive" is entirely subjective.

Sports cars are not objectively better than economy cars.

The speed limit is not just a suggestion, it's the law.

The left lane isn't "the fast lane", and has the same speed limit as the right lane.

Manual transmissions are not objectively better than automatic transmissions.

Function matters more than form.

Clothing fashion just leads to overpaying for clothing.

Experience says more about skills in a field than a degree or a GPA.

Natural teeth are too much of a chore to maintain and should just be replaced with dentures at a certain age.

Dentists are involved in a really big conflict of interest: there's such a large gap between the equipment in your dentist's office and your home dental equipment because if you could get all the dental care you needed at home, dentists would be out of a job.  Every new "advance" in toothbrush "technology" is nothing more than a gimmick to make you throw your money one way or another.

Nocturnal people have the right to a good day's sleep, and the accessibility of common goods and services at night.

Sports get too much attention and precedence over other things like local traffic.

Comic book movies are overrated.

Good music pretty much ceased to exist after 1999.  Good new artists are a dying breed.

Change for the sake of change is bad.

You should never buy things in the store of a free to play game.

Mayonnaise is nothing but empty calories and doesn't belong in every sandwich or hamburger ever.

Onions are overused.

Techno sucks.  I use "techno" as a general term to refer to all music created without requiring any musical talent from the artist, which so happens to include the vast majority of electronic music created from audio samples, on computers.  Chiptune is an exception.  Learn an instrument, people!

Horse racing is overrated.

FPSes were never meant to be played with a controller.

Arena FPSes where you can carry all the weapons and ammo ever are better than FPSes with two-weapon systems where all the weapons are almost identical.

Advertising is a privilege, not a right.

Fats, salts, sugars, and oils are overused.

Entertainment industry award shows are overrated.  They're just parties thrown by rich people, for rich people, so they can pat each other on the back.

Friday, May 1, 2015

So I Got A New 3DS...

Wal-Mart had a bundle deal going on where you could get a New 3DS XL and a game of your choice (from a limited selection) for $209 before tax.  Tax for me was $11, bringing it up to $220.  Out of all the games, most I didn't really want, and I already own Smash Bros, so I went with Fossil Fighters Frontier because I'd been looking at it on the eShop and it seemed interesting.  If Mario Kart 7 or Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds had been a part of the offer, I'd have gotten either one of those instead.

Also, I have system transferred from my Old 3DS to the New 3DS.  I'm not getting rid of my Old 3DS, rather, it now enables me to StreetPass myself for the purpose of the StreetPass games, as well as any other game with a good use of StreetPass.  I do plan on doing some StreetPass shenanigans with Bravely Default on my Old 3DS, possibly involving purchasing another copy of the game.  It'll probably be a digital copy from the eShop.  I may also get a DS flash cart to live in its cartridge slot.

All of this happened on Monday, when it arrived at my doorstep.  I decided to stay eerily silent about it until now, just because.

Because I was an idiot, there was a slight, non-fatal hiccup in the system transfer process.  Basically, my wireless router is a piece of shit.  The wireless interface on it goes down completely at random after it's been on for a few days, without the lights on the front updating to reflect this, and it went down during the wireless transfer of the SD card contents.  For some reason, even though that happens over Local wireless, it interrupts the whole thing when my wireless router decided to stop being a wireless router.  I cycled the power on the router and restarted the transfer, and this time it finished without issue.

Nintendo at least had the foresight to make the process as simple and guided as possible, to the point that before you even begin it, they refer you to their support website where you can select the options you want to use and get a step-by-step set of instructions.  That's pretty neat.  Though they say the wireless transfer will take 4 hours, mine took right around an hour.  The big variables are data on your SD card, if you choose wireless transfer, and built-in software.

I probably should have had the forethought to reset the router beforehand, or to select the PC transfer option and just copy everything around using my computer.  But the latter option would involve removing the backplate of the New 3DS to get its MicroSD card out, because Nintendo are a bunch of geniuses who don't think being able to access your SD card easily is a good thing.

After the break, we'll move on to my thoughts on the New 3DS.