May 24, 2006


Learning is fun.

No, seriously this time, it is.

I've noticed a few times before that using bittorrent applications would occasionally, and apparently randomly, simply kill my internet connection. Or, check those assumptions, internet connectivity simply dying to the point that a reboot was required seemed to be correlated with such programs running.

Then it hit me: you know, Gar, you're allegedly technically savvy. Why are you just accepting that kind of behavior? And I replied: I've got a point!

Anyway, research commenced. What I found led me to this link. Actually, it also led me to others so I could get second and third and fourth opinions on the broken English (I'm not being mean; my German is surely far, far more broken, and there's days where my English is a good old rafter in my eye, so). The gist is, when there's more than ten simultaneous connections, as a "security" feature, Windows reacts by barfing all over its connectivity. Apparently, SP1 didn't have any limits on it whatsoever, so for SP2 Microsoft (or should I say MICRO$OFT, amirite, lolz! (kill me)) seriously overcompensated. Linked page contains a utility to change tcpip.sys to use a more reasonable 50, or user-defined--I slapped a hundred in there. Obviously backup the file before doing anything, and when you run it Windows panics and throws a warning message which you can ignore, and things still work swimmingly after that--and no more torrent-related connection losses.

posted by Gar @ 9:47 AM

Poodle Fitness

If anyone needs me, I'll just be in the corner, hugging myself rocking in the fetal position and repeatedly banging my head into the wall in a futile attempt to make the images stop.

The last time I felt like this was the first time, over ten years ago, when I channel-surfed into something called "The Xuxa Show" after being up for something like 36 hours. It involved a simultaneously angry and perky-looking woman hosting a kids show with a soundstage packed beyond fire code with screaming children, who were being herded and corraled by ~13 year olds in quasi-showgirl outfits. It most memorably involved two teams of kids wearing helmets with large bowls mounted on top, in which they had to try to catch fish that were catapulted from seesaws being stomped on, while the near-riot of other children were led in chants of "CATCH THE FISH!"

That was somewhat more intense, but I've found that Poodle Fitness has brought back a strong enough echo of that kind of unnatural stress to bring the Xuxa memories back. Goddamn you, Japan.

posted by Gar @ 7:51 AM

May 22, 2006


Further interesting product names

Earlier tonight, I took a stroll down to the grocery store for a few items. Its liquor store branch is built right into the same building, and on the way I pass right by its main corner window. In that window is this big display stack of plastic buckets, I'd say about half-gallon ones. The banner hung on the table they're on states, in big bright bold font, BIG BUCKET BIG FUN.

I'm sure that if I'd looked closer at it, it's probably a very innocuous product, much like the Fondue Fountain. But I avoid temptations like that, because not looking closer at such products really keeps a certain sense of magic and wonder in the world. I'm going to believe that it was really just a stack of buckets filled to the lid with fresh-distilled ethyl alcohol, and on clearance to get rid of the inventory before the plastic got eaten away from inside. It's better that way.

posted by Gar @ 8:26 PM

Take the Death Tunnel straight to the pretty, pretty Pain Cave.

...then hang a right up through the Agony Grotto, take a left at Misery Stump, and Suffering Meadow is about a mile further on, on your right. You can't miss it!

So Dave and I were at The Source (one of the more impressive comics, games, & crap hobby stores I've ever seen) about a week back. I was initially looking for a copy of Delta Green (Call of Cthulhu setting, modern day, the titular organization being a sort of non-retarded version of X-Files; a secret government branch tasked with containing Mythos threats; in my opinion a much stronger setting than the default CoC approach which is basically Scooby Doo, only with insanity and it's Nyarlathotep under the mask instead of Old Man Jenkins, but I digress), because I'd had a kickass dream a few days before that about a couple operatives in one of their cells who reported to Art Bell. Art's radio show is apparently just a cover on the side, you see.

They didn't have it, which surprised me at the time. I'd had the memory from last year that Eos Press was issuing a reprint of it, dual-statted for D20 and the original Chaosium BRP system--both of which I find pretty irrelevant, I mostly just wanted the setting stuff. (If I ever did chance to run it in whatever venue, I'd want to use Nemesis, which combines a streamlined and generally tuned-up version of ORE, a much slicker dicepool system than you usually see; appeared originally in "Godlike," which is a pretty nifty low-power superhero rpg set in an alternate WW2). I found out later that they didn't have it because the reprint still hasn't happened. They're now claiming by summer this year--however, that's what they claimed last year, so who knows if it'll ever happen. But I picked up alternate products (second edition of Exalted; nice setting, horrible system; and a Paranoia supplement. Other games aren't fun; Paranoia is fun. The Computer says so), so that was fine.

However, we passed the small section of non-anime DVDs, and the title "DEATH TUNNEL" leapt right out for obvious reasons. Obviously I had to rent it later, and viewed it the other night.

It's not very good, by the way. I have a vague recollection of the opening credits of "Seven" (also not very good, but I find myself in an inexplicable minority in that opinion). I don't claim it's an eidetic recall, but: discordant music, lots of really quick jump-cuts and jittery camera and static effects and oversampled feedbacked screams and whatnot. Now picture ninety minutes of that. Also, no one could really act, but they did have big titties, so there's that--you have expect casting to perform triage for this kind of movie.

Which was sort of a shame, because an abandoned hospital is a great location to shoot such things in, if you hold the camera still for takes that last longer than ten seconds. I recommend "Session 9" for a similar location and altogether better flick.

posted by Gar @ 7:58 AM

May 04, 2006


Why I should never hit publish post too soon

Because it only occurs to me afterwards that I should have helpfully pointed out that, if you've got a worm-treatment-friendly disease, you can pay the dude for a custom course. Five hundred bucks and he'll hook you up.

posted by Gar @ 11:49 AM

This kicks ass

Not literally. Literally, it just sucks ass, or more correctly, sucks guts. I've said it before: nature is truly beautiful!

posted by Gar @ 11:39 AM

...Star Wars, nothing but Star Wars...

This is my shocked face at this news. I realize you can't see it, but trust me, I'm shocked. I'm even more shocked that it's a "limited" release so it can be done again in a few more years. Doubleplusshocked even. Reeling, really. I need to collect myself.

Seriously though, good news. I'll finally own the original trilogy in any form. While I'm definitely not a fan of the prequels, I'm also not in the "George Lucas raped my childhood" camp. At worst, he inappropriately fondled my childhood, but I've long since worked through that in therapy. (I'm not sure about that analogy, but I think the spirit of it holds true.)

posted by Gar @ 9:28 AM

May 03, 2006


snootchie bootchies?

Recently stumbled across good-natured schlub-director Kevin Smith's blog. The title link goes to the first of a nine-part roughly-novella-length telling of his side of his friend's career-length addict time and adventures in rehab and dehab. I found it a pretty entertaining read, in the sense of gawking at a really nasty-looking car wreck that it turns out everyone's pretty much okay at the end due to German engineering of crumple zones.

posted by Gar @ 8:36 PM

So now you listen, 'cause I'm omniscient

So after months of basically gathering dust, I picked up my Nintendo DS again the other night and started playing Ossu! Tatakae! Ouendan! again. It was easy to do, it hadn't left the system since the last time it'd been powered on. This time, I'm slowly working on beating the thing on the normal difficulty--I'd done so previously on easy, which for me...wasn't.

The thing is, I'm terrible at rhythm games, always have been. The pat answer is of course that I have no rhythm--which is undeniably true. I already knew and accepted that. But it struck me, as my brain seized up the nth time on seeing and reacting to the proper sequence of contracting number circles to the beat, that there was a further neurological thing going on here, at least as regards games of the electronic variety.

The bulk of games I ever play are basically the polar opposite of rhythm. Rhythm games involve reacting to stimuli--that's the primary focus. The gamestate simply is what it is, and the player conforms his input to it. My brain handles the opposite much better--in which the gamestate is plastic by design, and the player's input conforms the gamestate to his will. There isn't a tempo to hold to, no beats to click to or lose life, other than a minimal needed to maintain the gamestate in an ongoing fashion. There's a chicken-and-egg situation here, inasmuch as obviously someone without rhythm will be drawn to that kind of thing more strongly anyway. But the taxonomical split hadn't really occurred to me before.

I think one of the reasons Rez is considered a classic by many is that it's one of those very few games that attempt, with varying success, to bridge the two types Rail shooters in general have arguably always done that, but I think Rez stands apart mainly because it does it deliberately rather than accidentally. (I know this because I'm telepathic, yes.)

Ouendan is pretty much the only rhythm game I keep playing and returning to even though by any objective measure I'm terrible at it. I think because it serves as a sanity test in that classic definition of insanity, you know, the one about doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.

posted by Gar @ 9:04 AM

May 02, 2006


Yeah! See ya!

Great fight scene. And by "great" I mean...well, just watch it.

Also, welcome to Best Buy. You're instigating our shirts!

The latest version of Inform just came out, and it sure looks neat. It's one of the major languages used today in the niche field of what's being called Interactive Fiction these days, and what the rest of us call text adventures. You know, like Zork and the other Infocom games back in the day. Inform's evolved into something of a quasi-natural-language syntax, built around rules and relations rather than the object-oriented approach of something like TADS. It's an interesting approach to making programming them a bit more appealing to non-programmers, plus the toolset it's built into has some really neat features as well--on-the-fly editting, a "skein" showing the narrative branches of things for testing purposes that's intended to automatically generate walkthroughs when it's out of beta, etc.

I've fond memories of text adventures because one of the formative experiences that brought me into computers was being at a 4-H meeting as a tyke (it's one of those memories that's infuriatingly non-age-indexed) and having that classic Adventure that's been around since mainframe days in various iterations demonstrated on someone's Vic 20. "look in tree" and by God, you looked in the tree! Blew my mind at the time, and probably thermoset some important neural paths. Years later when the family got a computer, I even got respectably far into a BASIC spaghetti-code mess of arrays and lookup rules and tangled nested IF-THEN-ELSEs that was very nearly a functional, if retarded and simple, parser, before getting distracted.

I expect to do the same thing with Inform that I've done with TADS before--muck around a bit with it and then forget about it. I will still marvel at its neatness.

posted by Gar @ 12:24 PM

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