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Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Horizon Zero Dawn

I just started playing Horizon Zero Dawn. I've basically finished the tutorial sections and done a couple of the side missions. I'm enjoying it quite a bit so far; I love the aesthetic with the beautiful scenery and the strange robots, the story is very intriguing so far and it's being told very well. I'm not completely sold on the Farcry-like crafting system, and the experience/skills system looks a little bit light for something that otherwise feels like an RPG, but they should be fine.

The game controls well, though I wish I could remap a couple of functions, Specifically I would like to put roll on a shoulder button: if I'm rolling it's probably to avoid a charging enemy, in which case he's probably not in my screen anymore and I will need to spend time finding him again. With roll on a face button I have to stop controlling the camera while rolling, if it was on a shoulder I would be able to track the enemy while rolling, which would be much better. I've been saying this for more than ten years now: there's simply no excuse not to allow the player the ability to remap his controls any way he pleases. I'm thinking about picking up one of those fancy controllers, perhaps I'll be able to remap the controls that way if I do plunk down the cash for one.


So... Rost has just sent Aloy off to find some stuff, and there seemed to be something bothering him. Now there's any number of things that it could be, but for some reason I have this strange suspicion that he's going to die, and he knows it. He mentions that there's something he hasn't taught her, and for some reason I just keep thinking it's a lesson that requires his death. Probably paranoid, but it's hardly unusual for writers to kill a character in order to provide motivation for the protagonist and/or free them up to go on a solo adventure.

Only one way to find out I guess.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Other days

I work in a very small team. Our project manager just left this week, which leaves our team very diminished and without guidance or direction.

The Khador forums, which I enjoy a great deal and visit five or six times a day, just closed down yesterday and might not be going back up.

I just got a phone call from my family a few minutes ago telling me that our cat just died.


Yeah, I just.... whatever. At this point it feels like nothing is going anywhere. I have neither direction nor motivation right now.




EDIT:
I needed some electrical connectors for my (currently non-functional) CNC machine. I went to the only shop that I knew to sell those kinds of things, that has been around for at least a decade (if not two decades or more). It had closed down. It was there the last time I was in the area a few weeks ago, but now it's gone. This really has been a time of things just going wrong. Not everything of course, but quite a number of things big and small have either suddenly gone wrong, or their slow decline has come to a head. At least that's how it feels.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Some days

I had a rather depressing thought today. First some context.


I just took a week off from work. I was hoping to relax and also to get a ton of stuff done. Stupid I know; relaxing and getting stuff done are two mutually exclusive activities. Well, tomorrow I go back to the office, and I have only managed to achieve a small fraction of what I had hoped to do, but I didn't get much "relaxing" done either. To be fair I had fun, I spent quality time with friends and family, so it wasn't time wasted, but... I don't think I ever actually stopped feeling stressed.


There's many reasons for it of course, but one of them is that things are really weird at work. I don't know what's going to happen next month; I could end up in a different team, a different company, a different sector, or just unemployed. Well, I've kind of felt that way on and off for... a long time now. This job just hasn't given me much in the way of job security.


Not having good job security is a bit uncomfortable when you're "trying to get on the property ladder". I've been investing in a flat for a while now. Well, it looks like the project fell apart, and I have currently started legal proceedings to try to get my money back. Fun stuff.


For several months now I've been trying to get into CNC machining. It's been harder than I expected; I'm trying to get into it on the cheap, but it turns out doing it that way requires certain skills that I don't posses. Well, I've been making progress, but it's been very slow. That's at least partly because I've just been having trouble getting anything done lately, for various reasons. Anyway, in the last couple of weeks I've finally managed to carve actual designs into actual wood.

That was pretty exciting; in fact it got me all fired up and I immediately put down a fair bit of money on tools and materials to hopefully allow me to produce actual useful items. While waiting for that stuff to arrive, I slowly started trying to produce more complex pieces, solving problems as they showed up. But one problem that I started to encounter was my computer just randomly crashing mid-carve. I figured this was a good time to update my operating system; perhaps that would make the issue go away? A fresh start seemed best, so I did a clean install of the newest version of the OS. Now it... still crashes, but in a different way. Sigh. Well, at least I was able to find some possible fixes for this new crash, which I will test out if it keeps happening.

A fresh OS meant re-installing the controller software, which was a pain - and probably used up most of my remaining internet bandwidth for the month. Oh, did I mention that I moved recently (one of the other reasons why I haven't made as much progress on the CNC thing as I would have liked), and so far they haven't installed internet yet, so I've been using expensive and limited bandwidth through my phone? Good times.

Anyway, I finally got it up and running again, ready to carve at last. And just as I prepared to try to run a job, the spindle stopped. No idea why, it just... stopped. I poked around the controller box a little bit, but I really don't know what I'm doing when it comes to electronics, so I couldn't fix it. I'm fairly confident that the problem is the controller and not the spindle; that could make it cheaper to fix (at least if I knew what I was doing), if not easier. But I'm pretty much going to have to spend some time online figuring out how to fix it, order some parts that will take weeks to arrive (possibly even a month or more), then hope that I was right about the problem and it starts working again, otherwise... I dunno, buy a whole new spindle, controller, and power source, and try to find a way to mount them on the (not very modular) CNC frame I currently have? Plop down a huge amount of money (that I can't afford) on a higher-quality system that should work much more smoothly right out of the box? I don't know, but I don't think I'm going to be making much progress for the next few weeks.


I was probably stupid for trying to get into a new hobby anyway, seeing as I already have one: Warmachine, and tabletop gaming in general. Well, I say that, but I haven't actually played a game in over two months, and it's been over four months since I've played Warmachine.

But I can still paint, right? Yes, except... well, my first attempt this year ended in disaster. After that I decided to power through the X-Men, hoping to get to a point where I could try the Marvel miniatures game with my friends. But after the first one I basically stalled, getting almost no painting done in like three weeks. Then I found out that Knight Models has dropped the Marvel license, so the X-Men basically have a shelf life as far as gaming goes.


Since moving to the new place I've been trying to get into a better routine; waking up early, getting a bit of exercise, eating healthier, that sort of thing. For a while I seemed to be making a bit of progress, but in the last few weeks that's all stopped. I'm feeling quite guilty about how much sugar and junk food I've been eating lately.


I've been trying to find a really good pen. Long story, but in the last couple of months I've spent more than I would have expected to on a number of pens that I hoped would be what I was looking for, and they have pretty much all let me down. Like, I've bought reasonably expensive pens that just flat out did not work. What's up with that?


Oh, and my flat is suddenly full of flying ants or termites or something. This seems to happen like once a month? I don't know what it is, could there be eggs in the furniture or something? Or are they getting in from outside somehow?



So what was the depressing thought?
My job status is uncertain.
My investing in a home has fallen apart.
My wargaming hobby might not exist anymore.
My miniature paining is just not happening.
My CNC experiments are failing.
My attempts at improving my health, fitness, and daily routine have stalled.
I can't even seem to buy a damned pen that works well.

All of a sudden it feels like my whole life is failing. I've been dividing my time between several pursuits, and right now they all seem to be going south at the same time.

Somehow the idea doesn't have much impact though; I'm just kind of resigned to it I guess. Well, that and I do know that going through a rough patch isn't the end of the world. Honestly, I could use some change right now, so the fact that some things aren't working could be a good thing in the long run. For example, if I do get the CNC spindle working again, it might actually solve a big problem that I had with the system before and I was simply working around rather than putting the effort in to actually fix, meaning it could be a net gain when all is said and done. Perhaps the same could be true for some other items on that list. Right now, I sure hope so.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

New Ghostbusters Trailer

I just saw the trailer for the new Ghostbusters yesterday. First of all, I have no strong opinions on the trailer; I did not particularly like it or dislike it, I cannot judge whether the movie itself will be much good or not.

But let's talk about the elephant in the room. The big thing about this movie, the first thing everyone heard and the main talking point, is of course the fact that it stars an all-female team.

Now, I've traditionally not been fond of new writers taking excessive liberties with characters that I love. This stems largely from some of the abysmal movies made from various non-movie properties of which I was a fan, where the movie displayed no respect or understanding of the characters it was milking for profit. So when I first heard of the gender-swap, my knee-jerk reaction was to shake my head and sigh.

However, in the last few years I've grown more tolerant to writers having a new take on existing stories and characters, as long as they respect the source material and there's a good reason for their changes. So thinking more about the female Ghostbusters, I decided that a lot of it came down to the question of whether being male was an important character trait of the originals or not.

If being male is an important aspect of their characters, then swapping their genders is either a bold new take that could breath new life into the old stories, or a disrespectful abuse of our beloved characters.

If being male is not an important aspect, then swapping genders is either a hollow gesture to try to look edgy, or just not very important and nobody should care either way.


Not exactly an iron-clad conclusion there, but the point is that it wasn't inherently a bad idea; I thought casting Lucy Liu as Watson worked out quite well, for example. That said, I still wouldn't have been happy if they had made such a big change to the characters that I know and love. Which is why the trailer made me happy for one big reason: it wasn't changing their genders.

As far as I can tell, this new movie is actually more of a sequel than a reboot, as it follows an entirely new group of characters. It's not retconning the old ones, just expanding the cast.

So what does it mean then that there's an all-new group of Ghostbusters who are all female? Is it a good thing? Well, while the all-male team was arguably sexist in an almost unconscious way, this new all-female team could be seen as being sexist in a more conscious way. If we're ultimately aiming for true equality, then wouldn't it be better not to be all-male OR all-female? Well, in theory yes, but I would say that an all-female team is fine here because it's kind of balancing the previous all-male team, nevermind the overwhelmingly all-male action hero bias of most popular entertainment.

So yeah, I don't have a problem with the team being all-female; you know, as long as it's well done. What I do have a bit of a problem with, however, is the team being all-white. Except, of course, for the token minority inclusion. Yes, that was true of the original, but that was 30 years ago, and instead of getting better about it, the trailer makes this movie look even worse; the white girls are all scientists and engineers and stuff, while the black lady "has street-smarts" or something. It all seems a bit cliched is all, in a bad way.


Well, I guess that's enough speculation. Overall I'm slightly more optimistic about this movie than I was before, but I'm still not expecting it to be anything more than mildly entertaining at best, and a disappointment at worst. Of course I'd be happy to be wrong.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Am I the only one seeing this?

I just wrote a letter (well, email) to DC comics. The contents were as follows:


Dear DC Comics,

First of all I would like to establish that I am a fan of the Justice League, I have enjoyed the comics and am very fond of the animated shows; I own the Justice League and Justice League Unlimited series on DVD, for example.

The other day I happened across a clip from "Justice League: Gods And Monsters" on youtube (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fOWLqnjFN64). I had not heard of this animation, so I clicked on the link to see what it was. This particular clip was just a few minutes long and featured a Steve Trevor and "Wonder Woman" battling a giant robot.

I don't know the plot of this animated feature so I don't know the idea behind the changes to Wonder Woman, but I obviously it is not following the traditional interpretations of the character. That's fine, I'm not going to complain about a different take on an established character, I find such things can be quite entertaining. My problem is with the content of the clip.

First of all, both Steve Trever and Wonder Woman were killing their opponents. I don't have a problem with "good guys" killing bad guys if it's necessary; in Wonder Woman's case it didn't seem as if she needed to, but OK, this is clearly a more ruthless and, well, heartless Wonder Woman than I'm used to. I don't like the character, but that's OK, it's just a matter of personal taste. It just seems a little unusual for a Justice League story, as the Justice League usually avoid lethal force if at all possible, but fine. That's not the problem.

The problem is what happened after the battle was over. Steve Trevor tried to contact his superiors, but Wonder Woman grabbed his communicator and destroyed it, then ripped his clothes off. Steve seemed reluctant, but Wonder Woman didn't even talk, ignoring his suggestion for a safe word. She just started grabbing at him, and pushed him to the ground, where the scene ended.


Nevermind the fact that it felt just a little bit rape-y (Steve actually looks scared when she rips his clothes off, and she never says anything or responds to his questions, she just pushes him down and has her way with him). Nevermind that it's all completely out of character for any interpretation of Wonder Woman that we are familiar with (and just makes her seem like a generic fem-jock rather than a deep and well-rounded character that the best Wonder Woman stories show her to be). What I mind is that THEY ARE SURROUNDED BY DEAD BODIES! The bodies of the people THEY JUST KILLED! The corpses aren't even cold yet, but Steve and Diana are, well, fornicating in the middle of it all!

WHAT THE HELL! Seriously! Who the hell wrote this and who the hell approved it? I wouldn't be surprised to see something like that in an R-rated slasher flick (I wouldn't watch it, but I wouldn't be surprised), but in a PG-13 cartoon? Based on child-friendly comic book characters? WHAT THE HELL?

Why are they even turned on? Was killing a bunch of people sexually stimulating for Wonder Woman? I mean, it was literally less than three minutes between her stabbing a guy with a sword and watching him die, and ripping Steve's clothes off. Even if she's a villain in this feature, that's still utterly screwed up and not something I would expect, want, or be OK with seeing in a Justice League comic or animation!


To whomever is reading this, I ask that you pass this letter up the chain to someone who is responsible in some way for the content of DC animated features. I know that doing so would require a lot of effort and is not part of your job, I realize that you are probably a very busy person and I am asking for a lot, and it may seem silly to you to get worked up over the content of some cartoon, but I ask it anyway. Please, if you can spare the time, show this to someone in charge. Personally I find the idea of this animation being shown to children to be very disturbing, and I hope that DC can understand why.

Thank you for your time.


To be honest I could have gone on ranting about all the things that bothered me about that one short clip, like how Wonder Woman just stands there and watches -with a grin on her face no less - as Steve is repeatedly almost killed by a giant bullet-proof, rocket-proof robot (with, for some reason, very prominent female features). Even when he's caught in it's grip, and could die in an instant if it simply tightened it's grip, she pretends not to hear his request for help just to taunt him. But I decided that most of the rest of my criticism was much more subjective; besides, she could turn out to be a villain in this or something (she sure as hell is acting like it). At any rate going on about the details might have diluted my main message. That is, that the clip shows the main characters FORNICATING WHILE SURROUNDED BY THE STILL-WARM CORPSES OF THEIR VICTIMS! I mean, seriously, how the hell did something like that make it into a PG-13 cartoon?

Monday, January 26, 2015

Decontamination

I read an article a while back about a bed that uses steam to kill bedbugs (I don't have a link, sorry). The idea is that it's much healthier and safer than using insecticides. So I was wondering today, could you do that to a whole house? Put some big heaters in every room and raise the temperature of the entire house to, say, 60 degrees celsius over the course of a few hours? It would be much healthier than using pesticides and you'd be able to use the house again much sooner. The question is whether there's a safe temperature range that can reliable kill all insects without damaging anything, and the feasibility of heating the whole house to said temperature. It might be expensive, but I think it has potential, especially when you consider how insects tend to develop immunities to pesticides and that forces us to use more and more toxic chemicals.

Crazy idea or business opportunity?

Thursday, December 18, 2014

What, another one?

So... yeah, I've started a third blog. The first one has pretty much become dedicated to posting about stuff I'm doing and making, and the second one is for ranting and reviewing. This one I'm hoping will be a little more random, for posting whatever thoughts and ideas I think I might like to revisit in the future.

In other words, a lot of this will probably just be stupid crap. But at least it'll be crap that's lost somewhere in the Internet rather than stuck on endless loop in my head.