Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Unskippable

I give you another installment of Unskippable, a series wherein two guys go MST3K on a video game cutscene each week (which is, of course, unskippable). Seriously, this one is hilarious, as they reinterpret the scene as a dramatization of the inner workings of a PC (follow link for better resolution video):

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Ramblings Concerning My Favorite Video Game

Most normal people won't care about this. I just wanted to ramble a bit. Consider yourself warned!

As some of you may know, my favorite video game ever is Chrono Cross, the sequel to my second-favorite, Chrono Trigger (originally for SNES). I got a little bored this weekend and decided I'd replay Chrono Cross and try to pick up some characters I hadn't gotten before, as well as explore story branchings and choices I'd avoided because they were out of character for me. All of this has brought home just how complicated the story for this game is.

Chrono Trigger was relatively simple. An evil space-demon has burrowed inside the earth and is going to blow it all to smithereens in 1999 AD. Crono & co. get caught in a time warp and discover this. They decide to stop it from happening, and much time-traveling hijinks ensue. Chrono Trigger treats time travel from a one-timeline perspective, such that any changes to the past are immediately manifested in the future.

The designers of Chrono Cross, which is 20 years later in the same "universe," decided that a one-worldline story was for pansies, and so there are two important timelines (one in which your character lives and one in which he dies at the age of 10), multiple entities capable of drawing people/things between both different times and different dimensions/timelines and trying to manipulate the future/past by doing so, and a dimension-eating monster formed in the abyssal junkyard of timelines that never had been and never will be from a merger of the defeated space-demon and a powerful sorceress from Chrono Trigger. Add in closed self-referential paradoxes like person B going back in time to save person A, who will grow up to save person B in turn. A cosmic battle between avatars of a natural planet and technology. The complete voiding of the Chrono Trigger timeline. A time-explosion that jumbles together futures that never were with a past that never was and freezes it into one giant disaster-moment occupying an entire sea. Clearly Chrono Cross has the most convoluted plot ever.

I tell you that to tell you this: I just spent an hour reading 15K words by people trying to untangle the time- and dimension-hopping knot, and I still don't understand half of it, despite having beaten the game multiple times. All I know is that I am still fascinated by it.

PS - Chrono Cross also has the best soundtrack for a video game ever. I own it (and yes, I had to pay through the nose to get it imported several years ago - I'm a geek).

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Link Dump

What has interested me lately:

1) Is anybody really surprised by this? If so, you need a hefty dose of cynicism.

2) Chicago tests generating tickets on a dummy license plate number. Oh, wait, that's not actually a dummy plate: 170 Bogus Tickets: Chicago Tests Ticketing Equipment With Your License Plate.

3) Surprise mattress replacement bankrupts mother.

4) Onion Report: 90% Of Waking Hours Spent Staring At Glowing Rectangles

5) Five reasons Tolkien (still) rocks: "The man puts the 'epic' in 'epic win'."

6) Bureaucratic boondoggle costs kids summer vacation

7) World's shortest horror flick

8) Data mining: you're doing it wrong!

9) Ouch!

10) Why we tell time the way we do: blame Sumerians!

Kindle DRM

I haven't run into any issues, but given that I've been a bit of a Kindle cheerleader lately, I should probably point this out: there is apparently an unpublished and unknowable limit to the number of simultaneous devices you can load Kindle books onto.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Irreverent Joke of the Day

On Michael Jackson's death, feral chimp opines:

Really doesn’t put anything at all in any kind of perspective, does it?

It was “outlier” all the way out with that guy.

ROTFL!

Wow... That's quite a list....

Coyote summarizes his interactions with famous people:
Ms. Fawcett was a member of my personal klutz-to-the-stars club. I once got an ink spot on her white blouse awkwardly trying to get an autograph (back when I used to value such things). I have also stepped on Raul Julia’s foot at the academy awards, slammed a door open into Martina Navratalova’s face at a hotel in Houston, thrown up in Neal Armstrong’s bed at a ranch in Wyoming, and spilled a large fountain drink on Brooke Shields at Princeton.
To which someone purporting to be his sister appends in the comments:
You also knocked John Denver on his ass in the private aviation wing of the Denver airport in the ’70s. You weren’t paying attention and stuck your legs out right when he was walking by, thus giving him quite the opposite of a Rocky Mountain High.
Also, here:

Some years ago (maybe 8-10) my wife and I were driving through Malibu on vacation, when we stopped at a little coffee shop for breakfast. After we were done eating, my wife went to the bathroom while I sat outside on a bench to wait for her. Sitting there was another husband who was clearly also waiting for his wife to come out. We chatted for about 5 minutes, with this British gent telling me he had just gotten back from London on business.

Well, my wife came out and I met her at the car. The first thing she said to me was "Oh my god, you were talking to Pierce Brosnan." I said "??" Sure enough, on reflection, it did seem to be he, particularly since my wife also recognized his wife from People magazine. In my defense, one does not expect to encounter James Bond in a psuedo-Denny’s wearing sweats and a week-old beard. But since then, I have not really trusted by celebrity-identification skills.

HA! As I said, quite a list.

Book Rave: Little Brother

I recommend you drop what you are doing and go get your hands on Cory Doctorow's recent book Little Brother. He allows you to download it for free here in a plethora of formats, or you can order the paper copy at Amazon. I'll wait. Got it? Good. I just finished reading it metaphorical cover to metaphorical cover (it was on my Kindle) in one go this afternoon. This is the first book to make me do that since Scalzi's The Android's Dream two years ago.

Imagine somebody read 1984, then imagined how a similar police state could be instituted in America on a local scale following a terrorist attack. Mix in a little near-future hacker culture, some generic geekery, and a moderate dose of pro-civil-liberties sermonizing (well, I did say it was in the same subgenre as 1984) and you have the most compelling read I've had in the last couple years. Go get it now. I'd be buying a copy and donating it to the local library, but they already have a few.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Three Words To Describe This Video

Potential Darwin Award:

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Coffee Selling Death Muppets

Jim Henson plugs Wilkins Coffee - with violence and threats! See:

Friday, June 19, 2009

Found on youtube

Odd, but I'm pretty sure my wife will love these.

This is my favorite of the few I've listened to:

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Funny Link Cache Dump

1) Tactical Corsets!?!?!

2) Things not to do in a Wal-Mart:
3) Student diagnoses her own disease in science class

4) PETA disappointed in President for swatting fly. No, really.

5) That's some hilarious packaging.

6) The packaging is a lie.

7) Electoral tiebreaking, AZ style.

8) Li'l Castro is an idiot.

"I have nothing personally invested in my own opinions..."

Via SB7, I bring you a truly awesome combination of rantyness and typography:

Typography from Ronnie Bruce on Vimeo.

The message ain't half bad, either.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Kindle 2 Review

By popular demand (okay, so only one guy asked my opinion), a Kindle 2 review! As you may know, my lovely wife gave me a Kindle 2 as a joint anniversary/birthday present, so that while I am traveling in CA and not near a library worthy of the name, I will not run short of reading material.

So, how is it? First off, the screen is freaking amazing. As I opened it, the screen displayed a message demanding I charge the battery. The lovely wife believed this to be printed on the cellophane screen protector it shipped with - until I peeled that off and the message remained firmly on the display. It really is as easy on the eyes as reading a paper book - I spent an entire Saturday afternoon curled up with it and no eyestrain resulted.

The battery life is similarly astounding: I can make it through about 2.5 medium length novels on one charge (so long as I leave wireless turned off).

The page turn buttons and keyboard work well, though not amazingly so. The "five-way button," otherwise known as a four-direction joystick you press on to select an item, is a bit small for my fingers, resulting in accidental selections and such when using it; I have thicker than average fingers, but not hugely so. This shouldn't have been an issue.

Another quibble is the page-turn delay; there is a fraction of a second's delay between when you press the button to turn the page and when the Kindle does so. This seems insignificant, but when reading at speed, what ends up happening is that I try to time it so that the page turns precisely when I reach the last word, and thus doesn't disrupt the flow. After the second or third book I had it down pretty well, but I still mistime it and need to back up a page every once in a while. This, combined with the relatively small screen necessitating many page turns, still constitutes only a minor annoyance.

My biggest issue with the Kindle is the way it (dis)organizes my virtual bookshelf. I can sort by recently read, author, or title. This sounds great, but it really sucks for browsing, as there are no book flaps to read. "What was that one about?" You can't tell. "Is this a book in a series?" You have no way to know unless it's part of the title - and even then you'll have to open the book to see, because the title won't fully display if it contains series info, as it's too long. Then I have all the free books I downloaded, be they from Project Gutenberg, the Baen Free Library, Tor.com, or elsewhere. These all display fine on the Kindle, but when I convert them for use on my Kindle, the file name becomes the title, which means that I have no way of inputting author info. On top of that, the search function is marginal, as it will only search the texts themselves, not titles (Who cares that the word "forgotten" appears 27 times in a book when all I want to do is find The Forgotten Man on my Kindle?)

Finally, it can't support the graphics-heavy PDF engineering papers I need to read for grad school, even when converted. The Kindle 2 is a strictly recreational (or, more accurately, text-only) reader, and I couldn't justify the extra hundred-and-some to buy the Kindle DX instead. This made me somewhat sad.

Now all of the above makes it sound like I'm kind of down on the Kindle. I'm not! I love it! Once I get into a book, the device just disappears (aside from the occasional page-turn issue), and I can get lost for hours in the narrative. It allows me to carry around and read conveniently the 153 books I have on it at the moment (and there is space for many more, I just haven't loaded them). I have paid a grand total of $10.07 for them, since all but the aforementioned The Forgotten Man ($9.27) and The Complete Sherlock Holmes ($0.80) were free. This allows me to read said free books in a comfortable manner - on my sofa with no eyestrain - and I have many, many more where that came from. Go. Buy one now. (But only if you can actually afford it and will actually use it, given that it costs almost as much as the laptop on which I type this.)

Monday, June 15, 2009

Hilarious! (And, well, he makes a good point too.)

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Why I love the internet

This would be one reason:



Awesome!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

I never saw a Bentley in Valpo...

... nor did I ever meet this guy. Valpo just got a lot cooler in my mind.