Category: Status Updates

How My Weekend Went

I spent the weekend with a sore throat, so I took it pretty easy. Gargled saltwater, took warm baths, sat around, played Mad Max.

I did manage to make it out to the mall and see Thor: Ragnarok. It was good! While I was out there, I also found out that Barnes and Noble is having a 50% off sale on Criterion Collection movies. I bought a few. I will probably buy more after my next paycheck. The signage said it's going through November 30, though the lady behind the counter said she thinks it might get extended through Christmas.

So as blog posts go, nothing exciting or insightful here. We'll see if I can rustle up something tomorrow.

C-C-C-COMBO BREAKER

Welp, I didn't post anything yesterday.

That's the first day I've missed since last June.

I didn't miss a day of posting when I went to Montana. I didn't miss a day of posting when I got married.

But, the server went down for a couple days, so here we are.

It happens. My hosting is comped by a former employer. And I know my old boss has had a busy day or two getting everything back up and running. He's a good guy, and it's not an easy job -- I think they've fixed a lot of what was wrong when I was working there, but I'd wager he's still overworked and underpaid.

For my part, I started at a new job today -- coincidentally, the same company that I refused an offer from to go to work for the aforementioned hosting company back in aught-six. I suppose it remains to be seen whether I'll be overworked and/or underpaid there -- but I wasn't today. Easy setup stuff today.

And then I came home and, for the first time in a month, felt good enough to hop on the elliptical.

It's good to be getting back in the swing of things. In both cases.

I think tomorrow I'll even get up early and hit the elliptical before work.


Reading: Rapture of the Nerds, by Stross and Doctorow.

Sick and Tired

So I made it through the past couple weeks of being both sick and crazy busy with a wedding, without missing a blog post. So I guess I'd feel pretty silly to miss one now that I'm merely sick, and no longer crazy busy with a wedding.

Damn thing's still hanging on. Indeed, it's still in "too sick to go buy comics on Wednesday" territory. I'm improving, but not nearly damn fast enough.

Finally went to the doctor today and got some antibiotics. So, one more pill to take a couple of times a day; we'll see how it goes.

Mostly just trying to take it easy, heal up. Which is kind of a bummer because my dad and brother are still in town and I'd rather be out with them. Ah well -- plan on grabbing lunch with them tomorrow.


Reading: Just finished A Study in Scarlet. It spent rather a lot more time talking about the Mormon settlement of Utah than I expected.

Playing: Cthulhu Saves the World, and the original Half-Life in its new native-Linux version.

Ze Germans

Not sure if I'll stick with OpenSUSE for the long haul or not.

I quite like YAST but it doesn't have the level of package support that any given apt-based distro does.

And it's slow. I heard OpenSUSE was faster than other KDE-based desktops, but that hasn't been my experience, even switching from HDD to SSD. Firefox routinely pegs the CPU. So does Xorg (which I think is down to my keeping LibreOffice open most of the time). RSSOwl -- which does not have an OpenSUSE package and was a straight-up bitch to set up -- is frequently slow and unresponsive (good ol' Java).

So why RSSOwl, anyway? Well, I like to keep my RSS feeds synced across my desktop, my laptop, my phone -- wherever. At the moment I'm using Google Reader for that.

I used to use Akregator, but it doesn't sync with Google Reader.

I tried Liferea, but...well, it's coded by a guy like me. A power-user who wanted specific network functionality and isn't very good at UI design. It's missing such basic functionality as being able to rename a feed (a necessity when it chokes on as simple a thing as an apostrophe -- my feed list contains "Kurt Busiek's Formspring answers" followed by "Neil Gaiman's Journal"), and its syncing with Google Reader is spotty as well.

Also its name resembles "diarrhea".

So I tried RSSOwl.

Under Ubuntu, it was simple enough to set up RSSOwl -- had to add an external repo, but that was it.

There's no repo for OpenSUSE. There's a binary download, but here's the rub: it doesn't work out of the box. It requires xulrunner 1.x -- 2.x does not work. And OpenSUSE 12.2 doesn't have a package for xulrunner 1.x.

It took me ages to find, but I found a good RPM package of xulrunner 1.9. It's for Scientific Linux, but it installed fine under OpenSUSE, and worked once I symlinked libhunspell-1.3.so.0 to libhunspell-1.2.so.0 . It throws the occasional warning when I run updates, but I've been able to navigate those just fine.

And that's another thing about OpenSUSE: YAST's options, when it runs across a version conflict on a dependency, are pretty opaque and incomprehensible (and it frequently lists the same option multiple times), but at least it gives you options. Ubuntu's package management, in my experience, just throws an error and quits when it runs across that kind of conflict. So score one for OpenSUSE there. Sort of.

Still and all, for all I like about its configuration center/package management system, I'm having a hard time seeing OpenSUSE as Worth It. Maybe when I've got some time to do yet another damn reinstall, I'll give Mint a shot, or something.


Playing: Got in some good Arkham City and Mass Effect 2 time today -- after my job interview. Working my way down that list...

GTK

That's GTK the Australian music show, not GTK the GIMP Toolkit.

June, '73. Yet another fine upload by tomtiddler1.

Many of the commenters observe, and I'm inclined to agree, that Frank seems to loosen up once he realizes the interviewer actually knows his music.

His comment on censorship in Australia is on the money -- that's still a real problem down there. Last I heard they had banned porn involving women with A-cup breasts, and still didn't allow an adults-only rating for video games.

ParaNorman

It was a busy weekend! I had a friend in from out of town, then had my cousins over for cartoons and games, then had more friends out of town and went drinkin' with them.

Caught a couple movies, too, including ParaNorman at the cheap theater. I liked it!

First of all: it's a kids' movie that does shit you're not supposed to do in a kids' movie. My favorite gag involved the rather gruesome image of the ghost of a dog who had been hit by a car. It's funnier than it sounds.

The flick does some fun things with genre conventions, has the usual kids' movie message that it's okay to be different, adds the rather more complex message that bullying is caused by fear and begets more bullying -- but mostly it's just a damn pretty, weird, creepy, funny, unconventional kids' horror movie, from a couple of directors whose resumés include Flushed Away, Coraline, and Corpse Bride.


Playing: Oh so very many things. This weekend we threw down on Scott Pilgrim, Gears of War, Super Smash Bros. Brawl, Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 (purchased used -- my boycott remains unbroken), and most recently Batman: Arkham City, which my cousin loaned me. I was going to buy the PC version to use with my sweet PC graphics card, but on finding out it had SecuROM I decided not to pay for it and just borrow the Xbox version instead -- you listening, Square Enix? Of course you're not.

Rellenos and Republicans

Still can't quite get this beer batter thing right. 4:1 ratio of beer to flour is just runny liquid; 2:1 is pancake mix again. I'm thinking maybe next time I won't mix the flour in, I'll just dunk the chili in the beer and egg and then roll it in the flour.


I really do love that the Senate Conservatives Fund decided to say, "Hey, remember that guy who said that really offensive thing that made our entire party look bad who we said we wouldn't give any money to? Let's give him three hundred grand and see what happens." and he immediately turned around and said more crazy misogynistic shit.

First of all: instant karma is the best kind of karma. After all, if you wait an hour before you whack your dog on the nose with a rolled-up newspaper, he will not make any connection between what he did wrong and the fact that you are punishing him. This way, even the dimmest conservative organization can't possibly help but think "I just made a huge mistake."

Second: It's always better to see right-wing organizations throw their money down a bottomless pit than contribute it to races where it might actually help their candidate. (Like all that money Sheldon Adelson threw at Newt Gingrich. You know, for a casino magnate he's really pretty terrible at predicting odds.)

And speaking of candidates who they could have helped, that brings us to #3: this is actually hurting other candidates who they've endorsed in close Senate races. The Dems in Massachusetts are calling for Scott Brown to give their donation back and they're going to try to hang it around his neck until the election.

(Now, in point of fact, I don't especially dislike Scott Brown; I think he may very well be the only Republican left in the Senate who might actually be willing to compromise to get laws passed. And I wouldn't be devastated if he were reelected. Nor do I want him to lose his seat because I care unduly about the numbers game -- the Democrats couldn't pass shit when they had 59 seats plus Lieberman; there's really not a hell of a lot of difference between 45 Democrats and 60 Democrats, thanks to the automatic filibuster.

But Elizabeth Warren is legitimately my single favorite person running for office this election, and I would love to see her win, not because she's a Democrat but because she's Elizabeth Warren.)


Playing: Decided to take a crack at Soul Blazer. So far it's pretty neat!

Another Migraine

Welp, stayed home with a migraine again today.

Hate that this happens right as my job's up in the air. Not so much because I'm worried that my bosses will think I've got a chronic condition that interferes with my work (I only miss a day every couple months, and they've always been pretty understanding, especially since I haul ass when I'm there), but because I don't get sick pay and every day I miss is a cockpunch right in the wallet.

(Look, my wallet has a cock. I don't really want to talk about it.)

Good news is that I pretty solidly whomped the headache with a full dose of codeine first thing this morning followed by going back to bed for six and a half hours. But that left me pretty weak and dizzy. Beats a migraine but still leaves me pretty much no good for a whole day.


Playing: Red Dead Redemption.

Searchin'

Updated Favorite Searches. If there are two essential truths you should always remember, they are these: alan moore still complaining and popeye bad ass. Words to live by, my friends. Words to live by.


Playing: Oh God, you'd think I have ADD or something. Recently I have played Crackdown, Last Story, Xenoblade, Sonic 2 Delta, and Mottzilla's patch for BS Zelda. One of these days I'll probably even share some thoughts on each of them.

Reading: Rule 34 by Charles Stross.

PC Gamer's Dilemma

Well, I finally got me an Xbox 360.

It was free. My fiancée got a new computer with one of those student "comes with a free Xbox" deals.

Here's the thing: I've got a pretty solid gaming rig. And another pretty solid media rig. So I haven't felt much need for Xboxin' up to this point.

The advantages and drawbacks of PC gaming are pretty well-documented. A PC can support crazy high-end hardware, but while the games are cheaper the gear is more expensive and fiddly and there's a whole lot that can go wrong.

Me, I'm something like a niche of a niche of a niche of a niche -- I run Linux on a Mac Pro as my primary OS and keep Windows around for gaming.

This is pretty cool when it works. But here's the thing: even a good Apple makes for a pretty crummy gaming system.

Last year I bought a pretty high-end Nvidia card. ATI has better Mac support, but I've had nothing but headaches trying to get ATI cards working with Linux. Nvidia's always run smoother for me -- galling considering their total lack of cooperation with Linux and the open-source community, but true.

But it's not an officially-supported card. It works under OSX (as of 10.7.3) but it's not entirely reliable under Windows -- when it gets taxed too heavily, I get a bluescreen.

It happened a few times when I played through Witcher 2, but, perversely, it's given me more trouble on Mass Effect 2 -- a game I had no trouble playing through with all the settings maxed out on a lower-end (but officially-Apple-supported) ATI card.

I thought it might be a heating problem but it occurs, consistently, even when I crank up all my system fans with third-party software.

The game worked fine up until Omega, and then started BSoDing randomly. I managed to recruit Garrus in-between crashes, but by the time it came around to Mordin's quest I couldn't get past loading the corridor.

I could just try some other missions, but seriously, you want me to put off getting Mordin? Hell no.

I've found, from searching, that this appears to be a fairly common problem with ME2, even among people not running eccentric hardware configurations such as mine. And I've found a few suggested fixes, but none have worked for me.

I've tried running the game under WINE on both OSX and Ubuntu. Under OSX it plods (I suspect my helper card may be to blame; maybe I'll try disabling it to make sure my higher-end card is the only one the system's putting a load on); under Ubuntu it runs fine up until the menu screen but then doesn't respond to mouse clicks or keystrokes (other than system stuff like Alt-Tab or Alt-F4). I haven't turned up any other reports of this same problem, so I can't find a fix -- maybe one of these days I'll try a full clean install and see if it still does it. Nuke my WINE settings too if I have to. (Or maybe I could set it up on my fiancée's new computer...)

Needless to say, I haven't tried Mass Effect 3 yet.

And that's before we get into all the DRM bullshit plaguing the PC platform.

Never played Batman: Arkham Asylum, largely because of the SecuROM/GFWL/Steamworks Katamari of Sucktitude. Similarly, I gave Dragon Age 2 a miss once I heard reports of people unable to authenticate their legally-purchased games because they'd been banned from BioWare's forums for saying mean things about EA. (Which obviously totally disproves that EA deserves to be called names.)

It's a great damn time to be a PC gamer for a lot of reasons -- a huge indie scene supported by the likes of Steam and the Humble Indie Bundle, with both pushing more gaming on OSX and even Linux -- but it's a lousy time for other reasons.

Anyway. Now I've got an Xbox. All else being equal, I still prefer to play games on the PC, but for cases where the Xbox has less restrictive DRM (like Arkham Asylum) or titles that aren't available on PC (like Red Dead Redemption) or just shit I can get for under five bucks (like a used copy of Gears of War I just picked up), well, it's kinda cool to have one.


Playing: Batman: Arkham Asylum.