Main

April 26, 2011

New RSS Feed

I'm moving from an ancient installation of Movable Type to a current installation of WordPress. The new RSS feed is here: feed://www.ology.org/blog/?feed=rss2

All old posts & comments should have been successfully imported to the new site, but if you're seeing this, you're still reading the old feed.

January 14, 2010

New Armory Feature

New character posing/3D model viewing tool from inside the Warcraft armory came out tonight. Wowhead has had something like this, but this one finally lets you scan through the animation loops, and has pretty high quality visuals to boot. I'm kind of surprised they didn't add Twitter & Facebook links though -- that seems de rigeur these days :)

My main:

My eeeeevil alt:

...and the somewhat camera-shy in-game standin for me:

January 02, 2010

Revisiting Star Trek: The Next Generation

We've been re-watching ST:TNG lately. It was a good show for me as a kid. It espoused an idealistic view of humanity. It was pro-science and pro-rationality. Every problem could be solved in short order through communication, intelligence, and gadgetry. It's clear to me in retrospect how this show helped form my own ideals and attitudes.

Unfortunately, two decades later, the show's flaws are more evident. The "Rubber Science" of Star Trek is, of course, a long standing joke. But what's truly striking to me now is how pervasive the problem is. In literally every episode, some dramatic new technological event occurs. I've just watched two episodes in a row where eternal life gets invented. In the first, the ability to download brains to computers! In the second, the ability to use the transporter to filter out old age!

These are interesting and deep ideas, well and truly explored throughout the sci-fi literature. But in Star Trek, they're just part of a fusillade of the sci-fi smorgasbord that's being hurled at us. In a good sci-fi, these kinds of ideas are used as a backdrop, and what becomes interesting is the exploration of the societal impact. But Federation culture is impervious to change. The Prime Directive seems to apply more to the Federation itself than to the noble savages they continuously encounter. Disruptive technologies assault the crew of the Enterprise on a daily basis, and yet they rise above, serene, impermeable.

Perhaps this is why Babylon 5 was so attractive; it was arguably the first modern sci-fi show that acknowledged that change happens. Re-watching Firefly in the past few days (in between discs of ST:TNG, since Firefly was so mournfully short) also demonstrates a sci-fi universe where technology has cultural implications.

Here are some examples in the past two decades of ideas that would have been throw-away plot devices in ST:TNG:

  • laptop computers
  • pervasive high speed networking
  • dramatic improvements in visual rendering
  • the web
  • pervasive mobile access to data

For example, seven years ago, the iPod was just coming out. Now, iPhones, Droids, and Pres have dramatically changed the way we look at computing. Where, in ST:TNG's seven year run, is the impact of ANY of their throwaway ideas shown? I'd argue the closest Star Trek ever comes to this is the Holodeck, a technology introduced with the first episode, and which ends up having great impact on the social interactions of the crew.

The show is nice to re-watch, largely because it does harken back to a simpler time. After a stressful year, it's nice to watch a fairly low-impact and innocuous fantasy, where people are just fundamentally trying to be nice to each other. But the elephants in the transporter bay are hard to overlook.

November 16, 2009

Mars Edit 2

OK, I finally bit the bullet and bought Mars Edit 2. I'd used Mars Edit since forever, but I really wanted something that made it easier to embed my Flickr photos into blog posts. Guess what showed up first when I googled for that?

So here's something from Flickr, double-clicked in from the media manager:

The Globe (Exterior)

It looks like it also supports uploading & inserting, but it's more annoying -- it doesn't integrate with my iPhoto media panel, and it has no support for resizing the image on upload. Meh -- I just upgraded my Flickr account today too, so that remains a perfectly great option for me to get images up to the web. Streamlining the Flickr integration is worth the $10 upgrade alone for me.

Most of my online output is going to Twitter (@tilt) or Facebook these days, but I wanted to dust this setup off a little bit for the purpose of a few essay ideas rattling around in my head.

Update: Mars Edit 2 has done this since 2007, it turns out. I just failed to pay much attention at the time. Whee!

November 03, 2008

Solving the phone problem

As much as I love our house, it has one critical problem -- only two rooms in the entire house have hard phone lines. I've had Vonage for a while now, but the voice quality sucks for whatever reason. The few times I've used voice over iChat, it's been fine.

My cell phone, regrettably, is a crap shoot at the moment. I like to use it, but I seem to be on the edge of 3G service here, and I hate toggling on and off the 3G support.

So. I need a solution where I can use the USB headset plugged into my desktop computer to get and receive phone calls, with good audio quality. It needs to work on a Mac. Optionally, it should allow me to port over my Vonage phone #.

My first thought was Skype, but poking around their site, I couldn't find a way to port an old number. Heck, I couldn't even find Austin in their bewildering drop down list of available area codes, which seem to be a greatest hits of small towns that aren't fully using their number space.

Vonage has something called a "SoftPhone," but my understanding is I have to have a second phone # in addition to the "land line" supported by my Vonage hardware box. This, if I may be so bold, is incredibly stupid.

So, has anyone else tried to solve this problem, and have you found a solution you like?

October 27, 2008

For two weeks, anyway, I've beaten the World of Warcraft

The final boss of the final dungeon in WoW emerges:

and then is cast down as we rekindle the Sunwell:

The 3.0 patch definitely made Sunwell a lot more beatable, but Kil'Jaeden was still a pretty hard fight -- it felt very satisfying to beat. I'm feeling a bit of a rush right now. It's also nice we were the first Alliance guild on Spinebreaker to achieve this feat. It was kind of fun knowing the other ally guild that had been ahead of us all this time was racing to do the same alongside us :).

As a side note, I also finally got this cool rare fiery horse from the first boss in Karazhan yesterday:

Virtual life is good.

August 08, 2008

Cynne Stormwalker


Cynne Stormwalker, originally uploaded by tiltology.

I'm aware that my occasional hobby of making MMO character portraits is just one of the many ways in which I am a huge dork. This, however, is extra dorky because it's formatted for use as my iPhone background. OH THE BURNING.

July 16, 2008

Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog

A video production in three parts, from one Joss Whedon. Sounds like a punk kid who'll never get anywhere in life. However, it does continue to add to the oeuvre of "things NPH would or would not do."

http://www.drhorrible.com/act_I.html

Update: web version only available until the 20th according to Wikipedia; next few parts to be posted on 17th and 19th. I imagine I'll be purchasing the DVD when it comes out.

June 17, 2008

Mass Effect for PC

I've been replaying Mass Effect on the PC; I'm almost caught up to my XBox 360 save.

Misc notes:

* It's amazing how I'm pretty much playing the game in the same order. I wasn't even able to successfully make a different looking character. I'm not sure what that means. I'll probably try it again later as a Renegade, though -- hopefully that'll help me mix it up some.
* I had vowed to not to do the side-quest planet missions; this is a vow I did not keep. Now that I'm almost up to where I was, though, I'm remembering *why* I made the vow. I'd thought it was because I found the travel & quest log system irritating. These turns out to be minor inconveniences. What wears on you is yet another planet where you have to listen to your buggy go "wrrrrrrr" while you try to get over this really large mountain that your FREAKING SPACESHIP could have dropped you on THE OTHER SIDE OF.
* And then, once you get over the mountain, you get to either see the Cave Dungeon, the Installation Dungeon, or the Spaceship Dungeon. Seriously, guys -- 5-6 more stock dungeons for your side quests wouldn't have killed you.

On the plus side, the PC combat is more fun than the XBox combat, if for no other reason then you can hotkey abilities and not be pausing all the time. Also, the load times are way better, and I'm not in constant fear that the XBox will decide to stop reading my disc and effectively lose my progress.

I need to remember to make a sniper/tech class next time though.

I'm definitely digging it as much the second time through, though -- I think I might actually finish it this time.

April 28, 2008

The 360 has re-entered the building...

...and the 20 minutes of Rock Band we tried before bed last night were pretty awesome. The hour of unpacking and setting up Rock Band -- less awesome. But hey, that part is done now!

February 14, 2008

Notional Postcards from an Imaginary Land

I'm not sure what compels me make these postcards from an apocalyptic alternate land of struggle and magic, but make them I must. All for you, the home viewer. I imagine Cynne traveling on her many journeys, and thinking -- say, I bet the folks would really enjoy the scenery that underscores our impending struggle between good and evil.

She's more considerate than I am, in many ways. Odd and crazy... but true.

November 21, 2007

Virtual Bling

Here, by the way, is what I needed a working copy of Photoshop for:

A Collection of Flying Mounts

My various alts don't really have a chance to hang out together much, you see.

November 20, 2007

Irritations with Photoshop Elements

PE 2.0 doesn't work in Leopard. This sucks.

So I go to Adobe's online store. PE 4.0 is available! It can be bought online and downloaded! Yay!

Weirdness number 1: PE6 is the current Windows version. PE4 isn't even really "supported" for Leopard (but some Googling indicates it'll work, so whatever.)

Weirdness number 2: The full price for PE4 -- today, at least -- is $5 less than the upgrade price. Oh, Adobe. Why are you so crazy about your upgrade prices? Whatever -- full version emboughtened.

Weirdness number 3: I literally just bought this 10 minutes ago -- why did you let me download 4.0 instead of 4.0.1? Why am I going through an updating process that's taking as long as the original download?

Oh, the hate -- it makes me powerful.

I woulda used Pixelmator, but it (a) crashed when I tried to open several images and (b) doesn't seem to have a magnetic lasso. The magnetic lasso is all I care about people. It's. All. I. Care. About.

September 06, 2007

The Lego Store at the Mall of America

We had some time on Monday before our flight out of the Twin Cities, so we went to an ur-greasy spoon that runs out of an old railroad car: Mickey's Diner. I didn't quite grasp that if you wanted veggies on your burger, you had to order it wussy "California Style," but it was still quite delicious.

Then we attempted to go the Minnehaha Falls, but they turn out to be a popular destination on Labor Day, and there was no parking to be found. So, with terror held in our hearts, we approached something that was -- in fact -- no moon, but rather the Mall (all-all-all) of America (erica-erica-erica).

Fun fact: From the outside it doesn't look so big. What makes it terrifying is the density inside -- four levels and lots of replication. The core is taken up with, no joke, an amusement park:

IMG_0667.JPG

...but we didn't come for that. We came for the Lego Store, which is both a hoot AND a holler, which I'm sure you'll all be delighted to learn.

IMG_0670.JPG

IMG_0685.JPG

IMG_0687.JPG

I've got the rest of the pictures up on Flickr in a set for your enjoyment, as well.

September 04, 2007

A Wedding in the Untamed North

Carrie and I spent the Labor Day weekend up in the Minneapolis/St Paul area, to attend the wedding of Florence and Marty. Florence is an old friend of ours from our Carnegie Mellon days (are we old enough to have old friends? The answer, apparently, is yes). We met Marty for the first time this weekend, and it was wonderful to see how how well they were matched for each other.

Florence and Marty's Wedding

Florence and Marty's Wedding

I was incredibly charmed by the children attending, especially this young stinker:

Florence and Marty's Wedding

Carrie generally ran around being awesome and making things go, but she also engaged in some craftiness, making the table runner for the head table:

The Table Runner Carrie made

Some detail:

The Table Runner Carrie made

One small bit of trivia: the bride & groom met playing boardgames, and the groom is a big boardgame geek. So he designed a game as part of the party favors for the guests to take home:

Wedding Decorations

August 22, 2007

third in a trilogy

Kotaku continues to demonstrate they have no cognitive ability whatsoever in the conclusion to widescreen-gate.


So, yeah. I'll paraphrase the game developer's response: yeah we designed to the widescreen experience, and set up all of our assets with that in mind. But we had to deal with 4:3, right? So we had two choices -- letterbox, or just render the top & bottom portions you wouldn't otherwise see. We decided not to screw with the field of view, because you know what? The screen would look funny and pinched if we did that. We decided not to design to the 4:3 screen and then just add extra crap to the left and right because then you'd... feel like you were in a fishbowl.

I mean, guys, guys? You did notice that those TVs are different shapes, right?

My favorite response in the comments from the above link:

"The arm in the comparison screenshot keeps going in the 4:3 version. This would only make sense of the widescreen was cropped down from the full image."

Seriously, wow. That's brilliant, man. The man really stuck it to you by continuing to render the rest of the arm model so that it wouldn't look COMPLETELY STUPID in 4:3.

I hate people. Just wait until I release "I hate people episodes 1-3 -- a prequilogy."

For what it's worth, the claustrophobic feel of wandering around BioShock on a 16:9 screen is pitch-perfect. It's like some game designers, like, designed it.

Decline and Fall

If forum posters really behaved that way in real life: Internet Commenter Business Meeting (audio contains swearing and is probably NSFW without a headset).

(from kill ten rats)

In other news, I played BioShock some last night. I really like what I've seen so far. The introductory sequence is beautiful -- put me right back onto that tram in Half-Life, but even better. If you like System Shock 2, this will feel very familiar. I confess I was a little surprised they finally got away from their obscurely sophisticated leaning system though :).

August 21, 2007

The Stupidest Thing I've Heard All Day

So, get this. Apparently BioShock's widescreen support is "screwed up". Go ahead, click the link, look at the example.

Yeah, that's right. People are pissed off because the camera they control is showing a view that's wider than it is tall on their widescreen TVs. Let's stay focused on that core issue -- the camera that THEY CONTROL.

Seriously, reading the comments is like bad comedy. This isn't a freaking movie where shots are all carefully framed. This is an FPS. If you play an FPS on a widescreen TV? The top and bottom aren't there. The viewport is a different shape. Maybe you noticed this when you bought the TV.

August 07, 2007

Oh yeah...

we shipped. Woot!

July 27, 2007

Candy Mountain, Charlie


Candy Mountain, Charlie, originally uploaded by tiltology.

Went to go see Ocean's 13 at the Alamo for my birthday tonight; afterwards we went to Amy's for ice cream. One of their specials was "Candy Mountain," which of course caused our entire group to utter "Candy Mountain, Charlie!" which gasted the flabber of the kids behind the counter. "You old folks know about the internets!?" So they comped us for my Candy Mountain. Then I nerded out and dialed up the video on YouTube on the iPhone. It was a good birthday.

July 24, 2007

Mobile Newsgator

The Newsgator Mobile Edition returns an iPhone-friendly version. And NetNewsWire seamlessly synchs with Newsgator. This is unbelievably cool.

I guess I'm supposed to be upset I can't download and install apps that work, like, on my phone. But I've been there. I've done that. I kind of hated it. Web 2.0, baby. People have even figured out freaky usages of data: URLs to bookmark local copies of "apps" onto your phone.

July 10, 2007

China Admits Executing Former Food Safety Chief

http://www.voanews.com/english/2007-07-10-voa19.cfm

I confess I have mixed feelings about this.

July 09, 2007

Tracking rainfall via the web?

Has anyone done some kind of app that looks at publicly available weather data, specifically average rainfall in an area, to estimate, say, when you should water your lawn?

Yes, I'm a big nerd.

July 03, 2007

TEDTalks

Through happy coincidence, I find myself with a chance to catch my breath and catch up on things I haven't had a chance to read or watch, including various podcasts on technical and other topics. I find the TEDTalks to be intriguing, as a sizable subset show off some interesting UI thinking.

However, I have one complaint -- the titles! The damn things are all titled by person, not by topic, indicating that it's more important WHO is talking rather than what they are discussing. This should perhaps not be surprising, as the E in TED is entertainment, but as I've become enamored of using my iPhone to watch these things, it can be frustrating -- since I can only browse by the title, not by the description. Argh.

June 29, 2007

iPhone -- obtained

While I will be getting a second iPhone in a month (which will be Carrie's), my enthusiasm could not be contained and I decided to go get in a line today in order to obtain my long-awaited phone. I confess, I have been eager for a phone from Apple for years now -- I have always hated the phone experience, while at the same time feeling the phone is the only gadget I can realistically carry around at all times (as much as I love my teeny weenie camera). So, the idea of a phone with a user interface that didn't, well, completely suck is undeniably appealing.

I started to go off on a tangent about phones that suck, but that's not what we're here for today. Instead, let's talk about the iPhone buying experience. In a word: amazing.

I thought about going to an AT&T store, as had been hinted broadly was the right move, but instead, I decided to head to The Domain's Apple store here in north Austin. I figured if the line was impossible, I'd change gears, but the idea of buying the phone in an actual Apple store was too compelling. I got there at 4 -- two hours before they were to re-open. I figured that was my max time I was willing to wait, and if it was too nuts, well, at worst I'd order one online.

The line was long when I got there, but not crazy long. I reckon I was #200 or so in the line. The Domain is an outdoor mall, but with plenty of shade, so it was nice to be in this strange outdoor world for a while. It was hot and humid, but there was a nice breeze, and I ran down my poor old RAZR's battery talking to my Mom for an hour or so. After that, I listened to my current audiobook and crowd watched. It was a pretty fully line -- by the time the store opened at 6, I was probably at the 2/3 mark. By the time I bought my phone, the line was back to where it was when I started. So... I suspect we're going to report good sales numbers today :).

Everyone was polite and enthusiastic, and there was a definite energy to the crowd. Once the store opened, the line moved pretty fast -- it probably took 30 minutes for me to actually get in the door, so that was two and a half hours spent total in wait. Inside, they'd set up like they do for the holiday iPod sales, with a very fast path for people who just wanted iPhones. Once you got an iPhone, you were welcome to keep shopping and make a second purchase if you chose. They had different queues for those folks buying 4Gs, 8Gs, and 1 or 2. There were still quite a few stacked up even when I got mine, so I suspect first-day demand will be well met, unlike, say, the Wii (I finally obtained a Wii two weeks ago through a lucky accident, even though it's been out for half a year).

The actual phone is super slick looking -- just a little taller than an iPod, but about the same width. The screen is bright and sharp. The web browsing is all I've tried so far, but it seems to work great -- the double click enlarging is very fast and smooth, and seems to use the web layout itself to inform the resizing. Yes, folks, it's the VERY FIRST EVER use of the semantic web. I already posted my first twitter from the phone -- using the web browser, not SMS. Woo!

And now that I've finished synching and setting it up, I'm gonna go mess with it. I'm pretty stoked!

June 12, 2007

iPhone SDK

You can look at yesterday's announcement like this: No iPhone SDK Means No Killer iPhone Apps.

Or you can look at it like this: suddenly there will be a full pocket-size Web 2.0+Ajax environment in 10 million pockets. That actually seems way cooler to me than yet another SDK.

May 11, 2007

Audio Jobs in Austin?

Do I know anyone who knows anyone who has an in with the audio recording industry in Austin? My brother Chris is thinking about job options, and if it turns out I can shamelessly exploit a connection to get him some work here in audio production and recording (film & TV kinda stuff) then I'm all fer it.

April 26, 2007

Hi.

How ya doin'?

Wassup.

Edit: Ironically, in re-installing my web apps on the new laptop, the "comments on" default was turned off.

January 02, 2007

Memory is Funny

My memory seems to behave in this extremely context-sensitive way. I've now walked downstairs three times, and when I get near the TiVo I remember I'm supposed to look up when The Dresden Files is going to start airing. Then I walk upstairs and poof it's out of my head. Yesterday, every time I got into my car, I remembered I was going to use Google Maps to look up the street layout near my house, so I didn't get lost going on a walk again. Every time I got back to my computer? I immediately started paying attention to whatever web browser windows I had open.

Sometimes, this is incredibly useful. It helps a lot when I'm dealing with a massive, sprawling code base. There's no way I can remember what all the code I've written over the past six years (O_o) does, but when I start working on a part of it, the details come flooding back. Sometimes, it's pretty frustrating -- I'm not very good about small talk or telling stories spontaneously, because I usually need to get some context before my memory kicks in. Once it does kick in, I'm fine, although I find I have a tendency to tell the same story over and over again for weeks once I have one in my grasp.

So, yeah. I get the impression not everybody else has a whacked-up brain indexing scheme like I do. How does your memory seem like it works to you?

P.S. It starts on January 21st, which is why the damn thing isn't look-uppable on the TiVo yet. And the last time I tried to look that info up, I got distracted finding out that the third book in his fantasy series was finally out. Which I promptly forgot until just now. BRAAAAAAIN!

November 23, 2006

HD Movies on the 360 Completely Unable To Keep Up With Demand

So, Microsoft launched its new movie download service yesterday, and -- since I've been engrossed in Gears of War, I figured we could try it out and see how V for Vendetta looked.

My user experience? Multi-minute delays just trying to get a response from the server when attempting to buy the "Microsoft Points" that I still had yet to actually redeem to rent the movie. I hadn't even yet attempted to download the movie, and after that delay, decided not to bother. I'm glad I hadn't, considering Kotaku's experience of a 10 hour ETA on movie download. This, of course, has been downplayed by Microsoft, but it's pretty clear these guys didn't actually do any capacity testing before launching this service on -- wait for it -- the day before Thanksgiving.

I'll still try the service out, once stuff calms down, because I'm interested to see if this is a viable alternative to obtaining an HD DVD player. Still, so far I'm underwhelmed. Let's review the strikes against it, shall we?

  • Only rental, not purchase, of movies. Rental terms are 14 days to start watching the movie, and 24 hours to watch the movie as much as you like once you started watching it. All for the low low price of $6 for a HD movie. Gosh guys, that's... awesome.
  • One movie takes up roughly 30% of your XBox's 20G HD, so you're really only ever going to be streaming these things anyway. Plus, even if it was purchase and not rental (like with the TV shows you can purchase) how are you supposed to archive this thing off of your 360?
  • You can't use real money to buy it. No, you have to buy Microsoft Points with real money (at the weird exchange rate of $1 == 80 points), and then use MS Points to rent/buy your content. Ohhhkay.

There are two upsides: hidef, and the 360 is already connected via hidef cables to the nice TV. Frankly, though, this just whets my appetite for the iTV and for iTunes to hopefully start offering hidef content.

November 09, 2006

Quiet Dignity and Grace

From the Austin Statesman: Former House member charged with assaulting man who defeated him.

November 08, 2006

Congratulations!

To my re-elected State Representative Mark Strama and to newly elected Valinda Bolton! It's a delightfully Blue day, even here in Texas.

Weird World

So, the weirdest thing on Yahoo News this morning was not, for me, the happy news that our new Speaker of the House is Democrat Nancy Pelosi. No, the weirdest thing was this familiar mug staring back at me:

(which I found about when brother Doug sent me a perplexed e-mail.)

November 07, 2006

Election Day

I voted!

Update: the ivoted tag.

November 03, 2006

Truly the end times are nigh

A non-ironic travel article in the New York Times for Second Life.

October 26, 2006

Dark Messiah of Might and Magic

Dark Messiah of Might and Magic (reviews) came out yesterday, and I spent a fair bit of last night playing the first part of it. My short take: best fantasy FPS ever.

Things I like include:

  • It's very pretty. They use the Half-Life 2 engine to excellent effect. Now that I have a card that can deal with it, I think high-dynamic range support really makes things look kickass.
  • The sword fighting just feels... right. So much more so than the swordfighting in Oblivion. Rather than just beating someone down until their health hits 0, you try to gain advantage -- knocking somebody down and then delivering a coup de grace is much more effective than outlasting their endurance. Also, your special moves use up fatigue, a fast to lose but fast to recharge statistic. When your fatigue gets low, the game lets you know -- you can hear your character's labored breathing!
  • ROPE BOW. My favorite item from the first two Thief games.
  • Like Deus Ex, the game contains a rudimentary but effective skill system. You can mix and match elements of sneakery, hack & slash, and magic. So far, I'm enjoying the ability to freeze someone, which takes them out of combat and then later knocks them down, exposing them for a finisher.
  • I just can't get over how much fun a rough & tumble sword brawl in the game is. You can KICK people. Over ledges. To the ground. Into various hazards strewn around the environment.

Probably the only con is that it's an FPS, so like all good things that aren't MMO crack, it'll come to an end, sooner rather than later. But that's a strength, too. Oblivion had a lot of stuff to explore, but in the end, it was a breadth first exploration of a shallow world. This game, by virtue of focusing on linear level design, really pulls off a deeper and more interesting gameplay, since you don't get lost in the min-maxing details.

I'm pretty intrigued to try the multiplayer, though.

Download the demo. If you like the demo, you'll like the game. It's well worth the time to take a look.

Update: I'm still enjoying the game, but I'm starting to encounter random crashes on level loads. This makes me sad. Hope there's a patch soon. Also, I find myself keeping stuff in my inventory even when I'm not using it, because I keep expecting to find a merchant. I don't think there's a merchant, so I'm not sure why they bother limiting my inventory slots.

Heroes

Heroes is an incredible show with a crappy advertising campaign. Three episodes aired before I discovered it was a show about superheroes, instead of, say, firefighters. The ad campaign is all grim everyday New Yorkers and a dark skyline -- is it any wonder I thought it was yet another 9/11 cash-in?

What it turns out to actually be is an X-Men ripoff, but a really well done one. Instead of starting with spandexed heroes already in the batcave, we get to watch multiple characters dealing with the fact they have crazy superpowers -- and trying to hide those powers so they can keep living life as usual. And then we get to watch them rise to the occasion, and be heroes.

My favorite is Hiro, the very enthusiastic Japanese office worker/nerd. He's just so HAPPY! Seeing the contrast in how his character changes in the most recent episodes really shows off the strengths of the actor playing him.

So, yeah. If you like the superhero genre in any way, shape, or form, and you're not watching this -- you're doing yourself a disservice.

October 20, 2006

PicLens

PicLens, a plugin for Safari on the Mac, is pretty darn cool. It only works with a few sites (Flickr and Google Image search, notably), but it gives you a really cool way to navigate through image search results. Basically, if you're on a page it knows how to parse, when you click on an image it'll scale up to take over your full screen. Other image results will show up as thumbnails along the bottom, and you can search through them, kind of like iPhoto's full screen mode.

The only minor annoyance (other than that it only works with a small handful of sites) is that it seems to screw up the tab highlighting in Safari, so it's hard to tell what your current tab is. Boo :(.

September 29, 2006

There's hope for the PSP yet...

...because both Loco Roco and Lego Star Wars are incredibly cool and fun on it. What's the secret? Colorful, stylized, but high rez graphics, and addictive gameplay. These games really show what the PSP can do when it's not trying to be a little bitty PS2. Sorry, DS Lite, but the PSP gets to ride in the airplane bag next week.

(Yes, I'm aware Lego Star Wars is an example of a big console title that got ported to the PSP, but it still feels like it was meant for the PSP.)

September 18, 2006

The Fall and Rise of Darth Emo

So, has anyone else noticed that when Anakin goes all Darthy, it's to try to save his family? And when Darth is redeemed, it's to try to save his family? Wait, I could have sworn some pompous jackass told me the Jedi were supposed to be above this personal attachment crap.

Seriously, why did we find this guy scary?

September 16, 2006

Software Expectations

I recently got an HP 3055 fax/scanner/copier/printer for my home office. Unlike my previous printer, this one was supported on the Mac without jumping through hoops, and even the scan functionality was supported. So, you know, cool. The install was relatively straightforward -- the only weird part was that it wanted the printer connected for the install. OK, fine.

The machine it is attached to also has Boot Camp installed, so I decided to install the printer drivers on both sides, so that printer sharing wouldn't be busted if I was using the Windows side. What surprised me was how much more irritating the install process was on the Windows side -- even though HP created both installers.

While the Mac install required my attention a couple times at the start, the Windows install was like a needy child, seeking my attention at intermittent intervals. Now, I don't object to answering questions, but the issue here was that it didn't ask all the questions up front. Instead, it would ask a question, then start a progress bar -- universal code for "you can ignore me now while I copy some files." So I'd turn my attention way, only to discover a few minutes later that it had made about 10 seconds of progress before demanding some new information.

So... why the big difference? I propose that Mac users have an expectation of straightforwardness -- Windows users are resigned to over-complication. The different teams writing the two different installers proceeded from the assumptions of their user experience expectations.

On a side note, I went to grab the latest DirectX using Firefox. I was faced with an insistence that I install the "Windows Genuine Advantage" update before it would let me proceed -- and that I actually had to get a special Firefox plugin to even do that. So -- in order to make the computer function properly -- I had to install an update whose only purpose is to make it easier for Microsoft to disable my machine if they decide I am not in compliance with their intellectual property agenda.

All I want to do is is swing a lightsaber :(. Is that so wrong?

Star Wars: I-VI

As previously mentioned, we're watching the Star Wars DVDs. The Empire Strikes Back really stands out for having, how shall I put it, subtlety and acting. Comparing the love story between Han and Leia and the love story between Anakin and Padme -- well, there is no comparison.

On the other hand, OH MY GOD, why did we ever think Darth Vader was anything but comical as he swings around his lightsaber while dressed up in that ludicrous suit? Episodes I-III justify their existence solely by virtue of their badass lightsaber fight choreography.

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic 2 -- Followup

We've been re-watching the Star Wars movies lately, which inspired me to pick KOTOR2 back up and finish it. (Here's a link to my initial impressions.) I'd originally given up on the game about 10 hours in, because the promised lightsaber was nowhere in sight. It turned out I was still a good 2-3 hours away from the lightsaber, but I stuck it out.

Allow me to recant everything I said in my initial impressions. Upon further play, I found:

  • The plot was pure George Lucas: overcomplicated, unsatisfying, and chock full of pseudo-mysticism.
  • After taking a break from it, I have a renewed appreciation for Jade Empire's fighting style. The abstraction level on top of D20 really doesn't work very well, since there's no good feedback for enemy challenge ratings, and deciding what kind of attack to use is really just guesswork.
  • The game went from insanely hard to insanely easy once I got force speed (extra defense and attacks) and a lightsaber. While entertaining, that kind of disparity is not good game design.
  • Several of the subplots were inconsistent, or poorly fleshed out. There's like 4 or 5 ultimate badguys, and most of them I didn't really care about. You can only play the shadowy mysterious presence card so many times.
  • I will say I did like the twist on KOTOR1's "mysterious veteran of the war with no past" storyline. But still, the reveals on that storyline were too slowly paced.
  • Starting and ending combat is irritating and distracting. Starting requires rebuffing your 20 second long buffs EVERY TIME. Ending requires finding the body to click on in order to loot. Why does a Jedi or Sith Master care about loot anyway? I think this game would have been better served leaving commerce out altogether. Maybe you get reputation (good or bad) for doing stuff, and can use that to improve your stuffs.

So, yeah. It had some good moments -- enough to keep me playing and to finish it. But it was much more deeply flawed than I originally thought.

August 31, 2006

It's all symbolic and shit

Today was all about debugging. We had an insane outbreak of fire ants last week -- the exterminator came today. Also, I quashed the last two bugs for our current milestone -- hooray, now I get to move on the giant backlog for the next milestone.

Dear universe, fuck off, this kind of metaphor/reality shit isn't funny any more. Srsly.

August 28, 2006

Boy No Longer

Yesterday's Scary Go Round is kind of charming, although I don't know how entertaining it will be to non-followers of the strip. But who wouldn't follow this strip? It's grrreat.

August 08, 2006

The Bat Signal

Brother Chris and I went down to the Congress Avenue Bridge to see the bats.

Bats Emerging

After that, we took some arty shots of downtown lights on long exposures.

Congress Avenue Lights

We concluded by rocking, and not bothering knocking.

Brother Chris

August 03, 2006

Media Update

Boing boing points us to The Amazing Screw-On Head, a pilot that the SciFi channel is airing on the web. It's brilliant. If you like Mike Mignola (of Hellboy), you'll like this.

Also found -- Jim Butcher's Dresden Files series of books, which I like immensely, appears to finally be being turned into a TV series. You can find a promo on the SCIFI web site. I'm not superthrilled about the casting, but... we'll see.

August 02, 2006

Hosting Issues

Dreamhost, our hosting provider, has posted a very informative account of the recent hosting woes that have been fallout from record heat in CA and various power issues.

The issues have been frustrating, but DH's frankness in describing the problems and what steps are being taken to remedy them are what I like to see out of a company. Hopefully we'll see the rest of the lingering issues cleaned up soon, if they haven't been already.

August 01, 2006

Half Moon Bay

Half Moon Bay

We just got back from an overlapping work trip -- Carrie was in San Jose for BlogHer (as was Skye), and I was in Cupertino catching up on some long overdue meetings. Then we both kicked around for the weekend in sunny CA and met up with folks, including Nigel (who was also in town on work!) and large chunks of my family who drove down from Sacramento and met us in Oakland.

Before finally heading for the airport, we did sneak off to see the ocean, at bee-yoo-tiful Half Moon Bay. I finally indulged myself and picked up a Canon SD700 IS ELPH for the occasion; I love my SLR, but it's bulky enough that I don't want to take it for casual photography. So, after two years of pining, we decided it counted as a birthday present :). It's ideal for casual photography -- I couldn't be happier.

Meeting the Ocean

Meeting the Ocean

Half Moon Bay

Seagulls

July 20, 2006

Flag Ninja

Flag Ninja

This past month or so, I've been feeling the Warcraft Player vs Player love again. Way back when, we all chose to get ourselves onto a PVP server to give the virtual world that little extra frisson of risk. It's been a mixed bag -- bored and decently-geared children (this includes adult children) can "grief" or harass lower leveled players who are just trying to have a little fun. On the other hand, engaging in the defense of towns, or even just turning the tables on an ambusher when set upon out in the world, can be an incredibly fun experience.

About a year ago, Blizzard introduced "battlegrounds," which were specific areas designed for team vs team PVP content. There's a big 40 vs 40 map that -- to some extent -- emulates an actual Warcraft III map. It's interesting, but too impersonal for me (not to mention a multi-hour game). There's also Arathi Basin, a 15 vs 15 map that's sort of like Battlefield 2 -- control nodes to get resources to win. That's a lot more fun, as even 2-4 organized players can make a difference at a node, and the game goes quickly one way or another.

My heart, however, will always belong to Warsong Gulch. This map is straight up capture the flag, 10 on 10. It can be incredibly frustrating compared to Arathi Basin, since it's easier to get into a stalemate (or just get steamrolled). But, but... my DRUID can turn into a CHEETAH and RUN REALLY FAST.

Even if I inevitably die because our defense can't keep or retrieve our flag... there's still nothing like the rush of dodging obstacles and dashing across the field to home base.

This last few months, I've been slowly but surely moving up the PVP ranks. Just this week, I got the superior-grade druid PVP set, which has a speed boost as part of the bonuses, making me as speedy as most mounted characters in the game. Oh yeah, that's right -- that's my dust you're eating.

Yes, my name is Cynne, and I'm a flag ninja.

July 19, 2006

Portal

Valve has released a trailer for an upcoming game called Portal. Holy crap.

July 18, 2006

Titan Quest

Kevin's been talking up Titan Quest this last week, so I finally broke down and picked up. It's pretty fun!

Here's the short version: did you enjoy Diablo 2? Do you ever find yourself wanting to re-install it to relive its joys, and then when you do, discovering to your horror that graphics didn't age worth a damn? Do you want a version of Diablo 2 that has an extremely shiny 3D graphical upgrade, but is otherwise exactly the same game, ripped off with loving care?

THIS IS YOUR GAME.

It's totally Diablo 3, with Greek Gods instead of Christian ones. The animations are even eerily reminiscent. It's crack-tastic.

THE INTERGALACTIC NEMESIS

Salvage Vanguard Theater is a local indy theater group Skye turned me onto that puts on a variety of interesting shows. I've only been a few times, but they've always been enjoyable. (Flawed sometimes, but enjoyable and interesting.)

My fave show of all time, though, was The Intergalactic Nemesis. It's a live show done in the style of a radio serial, replete with sound effects by genuine foley artists. It's space opera cheeseball-tastic. I still need to see part 3; I suspect a CD purchase is in my future.

(Thanks, Ben, for the link!)

Freedom to Tinker » Blog Archive » Taking Stevens Seriously

Ed Felten better expresses what was bugging me about this whole thing: Freedom to Tinker » Blog Archive » Taking Stevens Seriously. He also does an excellent analysis of how Stevens was probably trying to defend big telcos with his argument, a subtlety which I confess completely passed me by in my rush to try to comprehend at all.

July 14, 2006

Why can't I quit you, 24?

Top 100 Facts About Jack Bauer.

July 11, 2006

Recent Movies

Superman Returns: a lot of fun. I'm not a huge fan of the buffoonish Lex Luthor as set up by the original movies, but Spacey does a good job of taking what Hackman did and giving it depth. I prefer the comic book evolution of Superman into a kind of elder statesman of heroing, but the movie still filled me with a sense of wonder and teared me up on occasion.

Pirates 2: also a lot of fun, if more sloppily paced. Both movies push the three hour mark, but you notice it more with Pirates. Still, Cap'n Jack Sparrow is fun regardless, and Bill Nighy as Cthulhu Davy Jones is a suprise treat. Swashes are buckled in fine campy style.

A Scanner Darkly: Linklater's Waking Life techniques shine in this movie, which acts like a visually administered drug. This is easily the best PKD adaptation going. I expected to hate Keanu Reeves -- to find his presence jarring -- but his slack-jawed performance was perfectly appropriate. The real standout, though, is Robert Downey, Jr., who makes this movie worth seeing all by himself.

July 08, 2006

The Internet *is* made of tubes

Now, I'm no fan of Senator Ted Stevens. But Boing Boing's continued mocking of him for saying the Internet is made of tubes -- well, it just sums up the smarmy schoolyard bully attitude of Boing Boing that I find so frequently offputting.

You know what? It is made of tubes. Steven's description is a little loopy, but it's a pretty accurate description of the way a packet switched network works (splitting up the data into little pieces that might be split through a variety of pipes on its away across the network) versus the way a dedicated circuit network works (loading it on a truck). So it comes across as pretty snotty for Boing Boing -- which is more than happy to re-spout such meaningless aphorisms as "the network routes around damage" -- to resort to argument by authority against something that in the final analysis, isn't wrong.

July 05, 2006

Sudoku

I picked up Brain Age for the DS, since hey, everybody's doing it. It's interesting. I have no idea if it's doing any good or not, but my brain is back to its "normal age" after just a few sessions, so I guess it's at least training me to take its tests.

It also includes Sudoku, the logic puzzle number grid game. I'm surprised by how much I enjoy this. It's eerily like debugging -- it's all about eliminating possibilities until you have proof about how the system is supposed to work.

June 12, 2006

Paths not taken

I knew about the Wookieepedia, but as we were re-watching some fine quality Buffy season 4 last night, I found myself googling for Wiccapedia. Sadly, the site seems to have gone defunct -- that link goes to the Internet Wayback Machine's archive of the page.

Of course, then there's also Wackypedia and Wickedpedia.

June 02, 2006

Things that suck about being bald

Lately, I've noticed the very tip of my head gets cold. T_T

That's about it.

Maybe I need to start wearing a little cap, like in Firefly.

June 01, 2006

Moviemaking with Keynote

“I’m guessing it’s the first time that a feature film or documentary has ever been made with Keynote as its basis,” says Lesley Chilcott, coproducer of the Sundance Film Festival hit “An Inconvenient Truth.”

Holy crap. Now I really have to see this movie.

My favorite part is where the directors talk about how Keynote handles HD out of the box, and all the expensive custom video solutions don't.

May 30, 2006

No, we're not scared of women

One of the trailers we saw before X-Men 3: The Meh-ening was for something called My Super Ex-Girlfriend. The message pretty much boils down to "if strong women are scary and emasculating, just imagine how scary and emasculating the most powerful woman in the world is." C'mon, guys. This is just embarassing.

See, my wife has Supergirl pants, and that makes me say hooray.

May 29, 2006

Best Spam Subject Line

"I do for bullshit what stonehenge does for rocks."

I so want a bumper sticker.

May 16, 2006

Breaking my head

From the XBox.com page shilling for the intriguing superhero crimebuster Crackdown:

Legendary game designer: This explosive masterpiece, set to define open-world free-form gaming, comes from Dave Jones, the creative mastermind behind Grand Theft Auto and Lemmings.

GTA and... Lemmings. Ow. Head. Hurts.

Man, I miss Lemmings.

Justice League... Limited

Yeah, it's all comic posts lately. As with Teen Titans, Justice League Unlimited has come to a close. There were a few good moments in the final episode but... bleah. Maybe this new Legion of Superheroes cartoon will be good.

May 08, 2006

At long last we meet, XBox 360

Sometimes I'll just get this low level subsonic hum going on in my body that means I've got the jones for some piece of consumer electronics that I've been deferring the purchase of for months. And when the vibration hits -- well, it's good I'm well compensated. Today, the compulsion hit, and it was for the XBox 360.

It's been several weeks since the 360 finally hit production in force -- and several months since release -- and I've been biding my time, telling myself I was waiting for "the killer game" to come out. psu succumbed and has been incessantly talking it up to me, and -- although as of press time he hasn't blogged it yet -- peterb has succumbed to. Cosmic irony requires that we walked into identical Best Buys at the same time today, since clearly the compulsion hit him too. (But how could he resist -- how else was he going to play Oblivion? Too many mind control rays were focused on him, and it was only a matter of time.) And Parrish, a WoW compatriot, has been talking his up for about the same length of time.

So what did I get? Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter. This has widely been talked up as the prettiest 360 game out there, and I'm here to tell you it's all true. Oh, the textures. Oh, the high dynamic range. Oh, the little screen gewgaws. It's got the same vibe as Rainbow Six 3 from back in the day, but gussied up and ready to hit the burning, desolate town. I played the first few missions from the campaign, and then Parrish and I spent some time with the co-op discovering how we regretted we had but infinite lives to give to our country.

So what's to like about the 360?

  • It's extremely pretty. At first it seems like it might only be incrementally pretty, but then you put back in Halo 2 and play it through the 360, and you realize that no, this is hugely better. Sure, Halo 2's improved on the box, but it only points out how much better something like GRAW is.
  • The Live support has been kicked up another notch. The original XBox Live service is already a sterling example of how to do online gaming right. Now it feels like they've taken a page from the MMORPG world -- messaging is ubiquitous and easily accessed in the same way from within any game. Same with your friends list. The demo & trailer downloading just makes it all the sweeter.
  • Wireless controllers rule. I hadn't realized how much I hated dealing with cords until I tried the new controller. Of course, I have no sense for how crap the battery life is. The ability to actually turn on and shut down the console from the controller is, in a word, genius.
  • I actually like the new controller design a lot. The shifted buttons work for me. The revamping of the black & white buttons into extra shoulder buttons is great. The "Live" button works nicely, and the feedback as to which controller using works well, too. A subtle UI touch -- the same "Ring of Light" quadrant icon on your controller indicating which player you are also shows up in the dialogue blades to indicate who's using the blade.
  • The XBox Arcade stuff is cute and interesting. Hey look, games that require a fraction of the development cost that you can buy online on a whim, for whim prices! Perfect. I only grabbed the demos, though, so they didn't quite seal the monetization deal for me.
  • Apparently Microsoft has a big push to get demos from the E3 stuff out this week to coincide with E3, as well as getting trailers and other content out there. Again, brilliant.

Basically, my only complaint is that you can't start a demo downloading and then let it download in the background while you go play a game.

So yeah, I'm feeling the love. I even like the box design. Yeah, the power brick is big, but it tucks away fine.

May 07, 2006

Infinite Crises in Infinite Comic Books

I've been freaking out with the DC-verse lately; Teen Titans, Birds of Prey, watching Justice League Unlimited on Cartoon Network... I'm all about the spandexed supers. So I finally buckled down and read the Infinite Crisis on Infinite Earths and the new Infinite Crisis. I started with the current IC, read up to issue 6, and then went back and read the '80s one. The '80s one is -- to put it bluntly -- '80s-tastic. It's pretty cornball.

What surprised me, though, is how much more enjoyable reading it made the current one. I just picked up issue 7 out of 7 today and... wow. I liked it. A lot more than I expected to.

Regardless, Identity Crisis and Villains United and Project OMACS all rocked, so liking IC was just the icing on the cake.

God help me, I'll probably get a subscription to 52.

Please don't worry if you have no idea what the hell I'm talking about. I didn't provide links because if you don't know, I swear to god you don't care.

Look! Up in the sky!

April 29, 2006

That's No Moon

Photo 18

Death Star Pez Dispenser

April 21, 2006

V for Vendetta

In short: I really liked it. I was dubious -- it was adapted by the brothers Wachowski, and while I found much to like in the Matrix 2&3, I have to acknowledge the movies' flaws as well. But here, with a protagonist in a grinning mask of Comedy, they manage to sidestamp camp and affect and cut to the emotional heart of revolution.

I was also struck by the final fight sequence -- there's a kind of neat reversal from the tropes of The Matrix. After all, somebody else needs lots of guns... and actually dodging bullets is so 1999.

April 20, 2006

Only Giant Robots Need Apply

One of the things that got me going to a particular local, non-chain video store was the fine selection of anime (the other thing being that it was a local, non-chain video store). That being said, it's been a few years since I've watched any anime -- it all goes in cycles, and I've been in the videogame cycle for a while now. So, recently, I decided to dip my toe back in.

Unfortunately, either my tastes have changed, or the market has. The two things I've rented recently -- whose names I will spare you -- put Evangelion to shame for pointless emo navel-gazing and soulful singing on the background music. Don't even get me started on the literally two minutes spent with one character looking at another, and the camera just panning left-to-right from one guy's eyes to the other. OK WE GET IT*.

* that you're cheap and you want to just draw one cel and pan over it for two minutes, not to mention creatively bankrupt.

On top of this, local video store appears to have sussed out that most of their audience is really there for the tentacle porn, and it shows in their current choices of what anime gets placed "face out." I'm going out on a limb, and figuring most of those DVDs aren't about young, idealistic medical students.

So... yeah. Chris recommended Bleach, and other folks have recommended Full Metal Alchemist but... they're not really what I'm looking for either. To be honest, I think I hit the high point years ago with one of the first things I rented, Duel. Short, cheesy, had giant robots and goofy comedy -- win/win. Surely there's more of that out there?

Update: How did I forget Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex? Oh yeah -- because it may as well be in a different genre, it kicks so much ass.

April 17, 2006

Participant Culture Ate My Dog

From the inimitable scans_daily community (it's Warren Ellis-Approved™), a couple of terrifyingly entertaining videos:

Watch 'em now before they go back in the vault!

April 15, 2006

Adolescent Male Fantasies

I've been trying to figure out what the mass appeal of the Tomb Raider franchise is, and this morning it finally came to me. The game's all about jumping, running, climbing tombs, all while dressed in a variety of stylish women's outfits. Clearly, this game taps into the deep-seated boyhood fantasy we all share of being Eddie Izzard.

Steam-Powered Episodes

They were a plucky young company, with nothing more than a dream in their pocket and a nickel in their eye. They had a vision -- a vision of getting out from under "the man" and making money hand over fist on their own terms. With a couple of modestly successful shooters under their collective belt -- cult favorites about an MIT professor with an attitude -- they were ready to branch out into a brave new world. The brave new world of $20 digitally-distributed episodic content.

The hypegasm for Half-Life 2: Episode One has hit gale force recently, and I -- not being the better man -- was compelled, nay forced, to launch the Steam client and see what digitally delivered delights awaited my decisive declamation of debit card digits.

When last we encountered Steam, we were pretty sad, mainly because it appeared to be all about roadblocks in the way of the CD we'd already purchased. So, this time, I'm trying from the "right" direction. I pre-ordered Sin Episodes: Emergence so that on the day of reckoning, instead of waiting, nay fidgeting, by the phone for my EB dealer to give me "the call," I can simply boot up the machine and get the party started. And, I gotta say, this time the experience was pleasant. They've improved the Steam UI substantially -- now it feels more like a groovy kind of gray, instead of a "Welcome to City 17" kind of gray. And the pre-load experience was much less irritating when I started it, and then proceeded to go play Tomb Raider instead.

The most fascinating and unexpected part was that the original Sin game was included. Man, the things we thought looked awesome back in the day. Wow. Get me out of this crazy time machine!

April 14, 2006

Me & My Katamari

I picked up Me & My Katamari (for the PSP) a few days back, because it was one of those games I'd been waiting for forever to show up on a portable device.

And it's very Katamari.

I'm not sure there's much more to say about it beyond that, other than that it puts the PSP's lack of dual analog sticks into stark relief.

April 12, 2006

Blizzard has a sense of humor

First, see this FoxTrot strip. Then see this item that Blizzard added to the game recently.

(Yes, I just got one. HOW COULD I NOT?)

March 28, 2006

Dear The Escapist

Why are you so committed to looking like a magazine, but "on the web"? Your text is very very small, and when I try to size it up, it all flies out the sides of your fixed size DHTML rectangles. Hint: your layout interferes with my ability to read your content even more than Wired (back in the day, of course). Cut it out already!

My Precious

10-15-05_1851.jpg

March 06, 2006

Media updates

Battlestar Galactica: small dip, but still the right direction. Keep on space truckin'!

Bradamant: I just finished this audiobook, which was a small ensemble reading of a book that was, in turn, a modern adaptation of a part of the whole medieval Roland cycle. It was very strange. It fairly accurately nails what we probably all -- if we stop to think of it -- have as a picture of "the age of chivalry." And reveals just how completely nonsensical our picture of it is -- kings constantly wandering off to do single battle, multi-year quests that take the lone hero off from all human contact, etc etc. It was very strange. The voice acting was eh. The audio mixing was lousy -- background noises frequently overwhelmed the dialogue. And yet, as it proceeded, I got sucked in enough to finish it. Probably just OCD on my part.

Star Wars: Dark Lord: Yes, my Star Wars hooring proceeds apace. Only twenty minutes in, but it turns out that if you add the John Williams score and a cooler hand on the mixing panel, the high space opera adventure of Star Wars shines in the audiobook form. Fingers crossed that Anakin's grimness will shine in the absence of George Lucas's direction.

Oscars: John Stewart is at his best when he introduces video clips of Steven Colbert. Dumbest thing they ever did was splitting those two up. Why can't I quit you, Oscars?

March 01, 2006

TV victories

Showtime Arrested Development Talks Confirmed -- yes, the Bluths may very well be coming to Showtime. Yeah!

Also, Battlestar Galactica, I'm glad you took my note seriously. Last Friday's episode was exactly why I watch your show. Let's keep that hustle up!

February 27, 2006

Pitchers

I finally got Photon to correctly upload my pictures, only to discover that

(a) it wants to do a separate post per picture, and
(b) the default MT stylesheet wants to clip my pictures horizontally, and I'm too stupid about stylesheets to get it to work right at the moment.

So pictures may return later when I feel like fighting with MT some more. So this is the one thing Radio does better out of the box so far. Wheee.

February 20, 2006

Dear Battlestar Galactica:

You aren't a cop show. You aren't The West Wing. You aren't a Tarantino movie. You're a show with great space battles, interesting characters, and enough politics & religion to keep things spicy. So stop phoning in season 2.5 already, dammit.

Also, there's a particular thing role that gets filled and then... unfilled on an ep-by-ep basis. Can we cut that shit out already? You're jumping the shark!

Also also, if the damn space pilots wear vac suits... wouldn't the engineers, especially if you're at battle stations? I mean <GOB>COME ON!</GOB>*

* Also, watch Arrested Development already. It's cancelled for real now, so it'll be easy to catch up.

February 12, 2006

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic 2

I picked this up on the cheap a few days back. It's interesting that Bioware/Obsidian are clearly better stewards for the Star Wars universe than George Lucas is. In their hands, it's a rich & interesting place with a lot of history. Lucas, on the other hand, treats it like the flat facades of a "town" in a Western. I know he wanted to get that Republic serial feel, but I mean, seriously. What up, dude?

So, yeah, I'm liking what I'm seeing a lot. It's also reminding me of how much I preferred the KOTOR combat system to the quasi-fighting game style of Jade Empire. I haven't much urge to go back to JE just because I always felt like I had a 50/50 chance of having to go back to a save game every time I got into a fight, and yet they didn't autosave for me before the fights. Bleah. It's too bad, because the story seemed pretty interesting.

January 31, 2006

Neil Gaiman's Anansi Boys

...ruled. It might be his best work yet.

The audio book is incredible -- the narrator, Lenny Henry, really makes the characters come alive.

He's a published author and everything!

Old pal Peter Drake makes good: Data Structures and Algorithms in Java. The book is well organized, and extremely readable, and Pete's trademark wit subtly shows through throughout. With any luck, coming soon to a syllabus near you!

Congrats, Pete!

SXSW

For the first time since 2001, I'll be attending SXSW Interactive -- parts of it, anyway. Hopefully this will refill some valuable Austin Points (tm) for me.

Auto Assault Beta part deux

I grabbed it and tried it. It was very pretty. I got through the tutorial and quit.

Why? Mostly because the play mostly seemed to be "drive your car around using the keyboard, and try to shoot at people." I didn't see any indication of the richer combat systems I've come to expect from the MMORPG genre. And I kind of hate racing games, especially if you're trying to control a car with a keyboard -- acceleration and steering really require analog controls, which I (perhaps unfairly) associate with consoles.

I also wanted to see some content in the tutorial where I got out of my car and engaged in some person-to-person combat. Maybe that's in the game, but I couldn't see a "get out of the car" button in my scan of the controls. So after spending 90% of my character creation time dinking around with my person avatar and 10% of my time picking a paint job for my car (and not otherwise being able to customize it), I then proceeded to spend 100% of my time staring at my car. Meh. I assume as the game proceeds you get cooler cars, etc, but still.

I didn't see any indication in the tutorial as to how my "class" differed from anyone elses. I picked the "rogue" class, but how does that work if you're driving a car? I didn't seem to have any special abilities -- really, all I could do was drive and shoot. Ummm. OK.

Also, I kept getting video card crashes, leading to 10-20 second delays while the card reset itself. The final straw was when I got through the tutorial, and the faction's intro movie played, and I saw nothing and had no way to fix it. Yeah, I could have take the opportunity to go download some drivers or something, but I just wasn't captivated by what I'd seen in the tutorial.

So maybe there's this whole awesome game in there that, if I'd downloaded a new driver and fussed around and done the quests that follow the tutorial, I would have been really excited by. But I didn't get to see any of that. Every other game I've tried of this sort got me using my special powers immediately, so the message I received here was, "duuude! you get to DRIVE AROUND AND SHOOT PEOPLE -- POST APOCALYPTICALLY!"

It was pretty, though.

January 22, 2006

Fables

I just picked up book 5 of Fables; man, this series just keeps getting better and better. The basic conceit is that fairy tales are alive and well and living in New York City. To oversimplify, I'll describe the series as being kind of like Sandman but maybe not quite so self-conscious. Or late '80s.

January 18, 2006

It was madness. It was insanity.

A few years back, I want on a short Robert Ludlum jag in my Audible subscriptions, since it turns out that technothrillers work really well in the audio form. I noticed a common theme in the books: both books featured clandestine agents who were betrayed; both books were read by the same guy. Both books prominently featured -- usually when this secret agent was confronted with evidence that somebody in the (GASP) intelligence community had betrayed him -- the phrases "It was madness!" or "It was insanity!" No, really. Both books. Both phrases. Both read by the same narrator.

So, when I started to listen to the Da Vinci Code (what can I say, the movie trailer got me interested, and hey, it was better than the Margaret Weis fantasy drivel I'd gotten a few hours into), I noticed that the narrator's voice was familiar. Sure enough, it was Paul Michael, who'd narrated the Ludlum books. So I joked to Carrie that it was only a matter of time before the phrases came up.

Yeah. You can see where this is going.

Now I'm wondering if this guy has some kind of contractual obligation to narrate all audiobooks that are chock full of madsanity.

January 17, 2006

This is the ultimate showdown

of ultimate destiny. (Flash animation.). (Been making the rounds.)

How do we make money? Volume!

Yeah, I know there's a bit of new toy going on here, but my god I'm so much more willing to post when I don't have to actually fire up Radio to do it. (Or leave Radio running, and watch it keep my CPU pegged at 50-80% while it incessantly walks the directory tree to find "new files." Or use Radio's weird little textedit box.)

I'm actually using MarsEdit 1.1 as my posting tool, largely because I <3 NetNewsWire, and my NNW license also applies to MarsEdit. I still want to find something with simplistic WYSIWYG editing (I don't need much -- just italics, bold, bulleted lists, links), but mostly I like the tool a lot. I especially like the parts where I don't have to resize windows or reload web pages.

Bye bye Teen Titans

I just watched "Things Change," the final episode of the last season of the apparently now cancelled Teen Titans. It was a sentimental, bittersweet ending to a series I always had a soft spot for. The show was a fun mix of US and anime styles; it revisited a lot of the DC universe in interesting ways; and the sappy, aimed-at-12-year-olds endings never failed to bring a tear to my sappy eye. Plus, Starfire rules.

/biganimetears

January 16, 2006

Futurama to return from the grave?

Inside Move: 'Futurama' may get new lease on life (via Inner Bitch.)

Now, let's fix this whole Arrested Development cancellation problem.

Commenting

...should now be enabled. Apparently I screwed up when I tried to enter my own URL for the site before I got whisked away into the comfortable EZ ride of the "wizard," so the wiz didn't actually change my bogus URL into the correct one. Ooops.

January 15, 2006

What the...?

I'd been using Radio to power this blog, and I'd been having mixed feelings about it -- largely because Radio is client-based, which meant I could only ever update from the laptop, and that I had to use the crummy Radio web interface. Well, my laptop died, and I hadn't backed up my Radio install in a while, which made the decision simpler.

Why? Because if I were to keep using Radio, it would cheerfully blow away several months of blog posts. So, buh bye. I'm trying out Movable Type now -- we'll see what I think. Next step -- getting away from the default theme.

By the way -- here's the old stuff: http://www.ology.org/radio-index.html.