I've spent the past week and a half softmodding my Wii U and ripping my library to it.

There are a few reasons for this -- the primary one being that the copy of Breath of the Wild that I bought used worked for about the first ten hours of the game and then quit reading.

Another reason is, it'll be nice to be able to put all my discs in a box somewhere and get some shelf space back.

The guide at wiiu.guide is a great walkthrough for softmodding your Wii U. But there are a few details I had to figure out myself, and I'm going to share them here.

First of all, here's the hardware I used:

A 1TB Western Digital Elements USB3 hard drive. This is excessive; I have 11 games installed on it and they only take up about 90 GB of space. However, I happened to have it lying around unused (I'd bought it for my grandma as a backup drive and discovered, when I went over to her house, that she already had a backup drive), so that's what I went with.

A 64GB Sandisk microSD card with SD adapter.

Here are a few things I discovered along the way:

It's probably a good idea to repartition and reformat the SD card before you get started. I found that mine had a few MB of unpartitioned space at the beginning, and I got an error with the NAND backup program saying it wasn't a FAT32 disk.

Also, make sure the FS type is C. That's FAT32. I used mkdosfs and wound up with 7 (ExFAT).

Something to note about the hard drive: I didn't need the Y-connector that wiiu.guide recommends, but I did need to plug it into one of the USB ports on the back of the console (I went with the top one). When I plugged it into one of the front USB ports, it would frequently hang on long file copies. When I plugged it into the top back port, it worked fine.

Copy all your save data before you rip any games. By this I mean, as soon as you format the hard drive to Wii U format, go into Wii Settings and Data Management, and copy all your save data. (It's safer to copy it than to move it; if you want to delete it from your NAND, wait until you've made sure it works first. A NAND backup and SaveMii backups are probably a good idea too, just to make sure you don't lose anything.)

This is totally counterintuitive, but here's how it works: save data on the NAND works for disc games (and, presumably, games stored on the NAND, though I haven't verified this), but games installed on the hard drive will completely ignore it. If you've got Breath of the Wild installed on your hard drive, and a saved game and a few gigs of updates installed on the NAND, then when you fire up Breath of the Wild it will behave as if it's being run for the first time. It will try to download updates, and start you out at the beginning. If you want a game that's installed on your hard drive to see your updates and your saves, then they have to be stored on the hard drive too, not the NAND.

And, even more counterintuitively, you have to copy the saves first. If you install the game on your hard drive and then copy the save data over, the save data will overwrite the game on the hard drive and you'll have to reinstall it. But if you copy the save data and then install the game, the game won't overwrite the save; the save will still be there and the first time you run the game off the hard drive, all your save data, updates, and DLC will be there, ready to go.

Hope that helps somebody. It would have saved me a lot of extra hours if I'd known that stuff before I started instead of having to figure it out for myself.

James Gunn recently got fired from Guardians of the Galaxy 3 over some tasteless and offensive jokes he made on Twitter some years back.

That's not the subject of this post. You want to read someone's opinion about the James Gunn story, there are plenty of places to do that.

But it did get me thinking. You know who else has said some stupid shit on the Internet that's still up there where anybody can see it? Me.

I've had this blog since 1999. I was seventeen years old when I started it. Some of the content is even older -- KateStory started in 1994.

So, given that this website has a pretty steady stream of stuff I've written that stretches all the way back to when I was twelve? Yeah, let's just say I've had plenty of opportunities to say things that were really dumb. (At least unlike James Gunn, I have the "I was in my teens and twenties" excuse.)

I can think of specific examples, but I feel like pointing them out isn't going to help anybody. If I said something hurtful a long time ago, and I start talking about it again now, I feel like that's hurtful too, even if I'm doing it just to apologize.

So I won't. But you know the type of stuff. I used words I don't use anymore. I made jokes I don't make anymore. Transgression just for the sake of transgression -- say something offensive for a cheap laugh, then when somebody says "Hey, that's offensive," say it's their fault for being offended, and laugh at them.

So if you're going through this site, particularly through the really old stuff, and you find something that makes you say "Aw, come on, man" -- yeah, that's how I feel about it too, and I'm sorry.

Of course, all this raises another question: why keep it? Why keep all the old stuff, even the stuff that I'm embarrassed by or ashamed of? It's my blog, after all; I can delete anything I feel like.

I guess there are a few reasons.

I'm kind of a pack rat. I have trouble getting rid of stuff. I've still got my '90s Spider-Man and X-Men comics -- and I hate that stuff. It's just that actually going to the trouble of getting rid of it (seeing if any of it's worth anything, selling the stuff that is, donating the stuff that isn't) seems harder than just hanging on to it. And my blog doesn't take up nearly as much space as all those shortboxes.

I have a genuine affection for some of this stuff. The KateStory in particular. It's something my friends and I did together when we were kids. Sure, there's adolescent bickering, and dumbass "edgy" "humor", and there are plenty of places where it outright makes me cringe. But it's my friends and me, goofing around, saying whatever damn fool thing popped into our heads. To me, at least, the good outweighs the bad.

If I'm being honest... To a large extent, this blog shows me growing up -- transforming from a dumbass kid into a guy in his mid-30s who is hopefully at least a little bit less of a dumbass. If I cut out the stuff I said and did that was bad or wrong, I'd be cutting out the actual growing up part. And I feel like it would be a copout, like I'd be hiding my mistakes. I'd rather own them. I'm not proud of everything I've written, whether on this blog or elsewhere, but I acknowledge it. This, what I'm writing right now, represents who I am. The old stuff, the stuff I wrote ten or fifteen or twenty-four years ago, represents who I was then. I like to think there's some daylight between the man I am and the kid I was.

A lot of stuff is gone. Prodigy's gone. The Pyoko boards are gone. A lot of stuff I've posted online is gone. Honestly, in a lot of cases that's for the best. But I do sometimes wish I could go back and find something I wrote that isn't there anymore. This is as complete an archive of stuff I've written online as there is. I don't want to make it less complete.

It's not like that damn many people are reading this thing anyway. I mean, let's be honest. I'm not the director of Guardians of the Galaxy. I'm some guy who's been yammering on a blog for damn-near 20 years. If somebody is actually looking back through this blog at some dumb, offensive thing I wrote in my twenties, odds are pretty good that someone is me.

Sometimes I think "Hey, I should blog more."

The reason I've been thinking that lately boils down largely to this post I wrote on Brontoforumus the other night:

...there is a guy in the Ars Technica comments section right now who is arguing that Joss Whedon's behavior isn't anti-feminist, because if he were gay he would treat men just as badly as he treats women.

I need to stop reading the Ars Technica comments section.

Fellow Bronto Büge pointedly responded by quoting my post back to me in modified form:

I need to stop reading the [...] comments section.

She's got a point.

It's not an original observation that comments sections, by and large, are terrible. Even on a site like Ars, where most commenters are insightful, knowledgeable people, the minority who are obnoxious trolls get to dominate the conversation.

Part of why that happens is, people feed the trolls. And I'm part of the problem.

I'm not as bad about that as some people are. I've learned to make regular use of Ars's Block button. Hell, I even wrote a script to add block functionality to Techdirt's comments section. And yet, I still find myself engaging with people who I really shouldn't.

Sometimes it's an honest mistake. Sometimes it's not clear that somebody is a troll when I first engage with them, and it takes a few posts before I realize I've been wasting my time trying to engage in a good-faith discussion with somebody who isn't interested in good faith.

But sometimes, trolls are obvious, and I feed them anyway.

Take the other day, f'rinstance. A guy in the comments for an article titled News of Trump passing cognitive test may make it harder to detect dementia said this:

So we should defend the country by forcefully elimating Trump?

Seriously. Elimating.

And I spent multiple posts responding to this guy. Explaining why democracy, despite its flaws, is preferable to a violent coup.

The conversation ended with me telling the gentleman in question to go fuck himself, and blocking him. Which was entirely foreseeable, from the get-go.

Why did I bother having a conversation with a person who was not only advocating the violent overthrow of the government, but couldn't even spell it correctly? Why didn't I save myself some time and just go straight to the Block button?

Certainly part of the answer is that my impulse control needs work.

Another part is, I really do enjoy writing stuff. I write stuff every day. The trouble is, these days most of what I write is in comments sections on sites like Ars and Techdirt. What I need to get better at is focusing my writing towards somewhere productive -- or, if not productive, at least somewhere that doesn't leave me thinking, "Christ, why did I waste all that time and energy on that?" when I'm done.

Maybe that can be the new tagline for the site.

corporate-sellout.com
It doesn't leave me thinking "Christ, Why did I waste all that time and energy on that?" when I'm done.

(Your mileage may vary.)

I've been meaning to write a post about Steve Ditko's creator-owned comics for quite some time. Ditko's recent death has me thinking about that, and so, here's something. I'd still like to write something a little more detailed later on down the line, but this should serve for now.

Steve Ditko stopped working for mainstream comics publishers in the 1990s, but he never stopped making comics. For the past 20 years, Ditko's comics have been published by his friend, editor, and collaborator Robin Snyder. Ditko has also written essays, some of which appear alongside his comics, others of which appear in Snyder's zine The Comics, and others in 9 small pamphlets called The Four-Page Series. Since 2013, Snyder has funded twenty Ditko comics on Kickstarter, with more to come; Snyder noted in a Kickstarter update last month that he and Ditko were working on two new titles, and a prior Kickstarter update discussed out-of-print books that Snyder intends to send back to press.

Snyder does not have a website, but Bob Heer's ditko.blogspot.com is an invaluable resource, and its Ditko Books in Print page serves as a catalog of what Snyder has available and how to order it.

Of course, merely seeing a list of titles can be daunting. Where to start?

The most in-depth article I've seen on this subject is Steve Ditko Doesn’t Stop: A Guide To 18 Secret Comics By Spider-Man’s Co-Creator, written by Joe McCulloch for ComicsAlliance in 2013. You should read that.

But if you want my opinion? You should start with The Mocker.

Of the Ditko books Snyder has on offer as of this writing, it's the most accessible, the one that feels the most like Ditko's work for Marvel, DC, and Charlton. It's a straightforward, tightly-told story of a costumed crusader fighting organized crime and corrupt police.

I only have one complaint about The Mocker: it was clearly intended to be printed at a much larger size. Ditko fits a lot of panels on each page, starting with 16-panel grids and eventually settling on 20. The comic was originally printed at magazine size; reduced to standard comic size, it's often difficult to tell what's happening and to tell characters apart, especially in action scenes. (Ditko sure draws a lot of men in suits and fedoras punching each other.)

After The Mocker, there are a few different directions you can go. The most obvious is Mr. A, Ditko's best-known creator-owned series -- if you're interested enough in Ditko that you've read this far, you probably already know who Mr. A is, at least in passing. My favorite Mr. A stories are When is a Man Judged Evil? and Right to Kill; both appear in a 32-page comic that's just called Mr. A -- which, sadly, is currently out of print. I'm quite fond of the whole series, though; there's good stuff in every issue. I believe #4 contains the earliest Mr. A material that's in print, while #24 and #7 are the two latest issues (in that order, and no, I don't understand the numbering) and include the two-part story The Knifer.

Alternately, I'm partial to Miss Eerie, one of Ditko's later creations and another masked vigilante in a 1930s setting. She appears in Ditko Presents and The 32-Page Series #3, #6, #14, #20, #23, and #26. The 32-Page Series itself is an anthology comic and something of a grab bag; it's a great, eclectic collection of Ditko's late work.

From there? Well, I was all set to recommend Avenging World, a collection of comics and essays that I consider to be Ditko at his purest -- but, sadly, it's out of print. Here's hoping that changes.

For my part, I have varying degrees of affection for everything Ditko did. His comics are often eccentric and didactic; his essays are often impenetrable puzzle boxes. But he always had something interesting to say. He was one-of-a-kind. I'm going to miss him -- but for now, at least, I can expect a few more new Ditko comics still to come, and older Ditko comics like Static to become available again.

"Weird Al" Yankovic's Ridiculously Self-Indulgent, Ill-Advised Vanity Tour has come to a close. And now every show is available on Stitcher Premium. And they're DRM-free MP3s -- Stitcher doesn't provide a convenient "download this" button, but they're easy enough to download; view the page source and do a search for ".mp3". (There are probably browser extensions that will do this without having to muck around searching the source, but when I tried to find one I found a million extensions for downloading MP3s from YouTube videos and none for downloading just plain streamed MP3s.) It's not hard to sign up for a free month of Stitcher Premium, immediately cancel automatic renewal, and download the entire tour -- plus many other fine Stitcher programs, including Gilbert Gottfried's Amazing Colossal Podcast, WTF, and Black on the Air.

But back to Weird Al and the Ridiculously Self-Indulgent, Ill-Advised Vanity Tour.

I caught the Mesa show, and I'm glad I did. If this was my only chance to catch a Weird Al show like this, then I'm glad I got it. But I hope it wasn't.

While Al promoted the tour with self-deprecation, as its name implies -- as something nobody really wanted to see -- it's quite clear that that's not true. I sat in a sold-out house. I could hear the people a couple of seats over singing along with songs like Your Horoscope for Today and Why Does This Always Happen to Me? No, you wouldn't want to play a setlist like that at the Arizona State Fair (where you've got random fairgoers seeing Al's name on the marquee and walking in expecting to hear Eat It). But clearly there was an audience for the Vanity Tour, because it sold out venues all over the country.

I think Al could spend the rest of his career performing shows like the one I saw. And I hope he does.

I've seen Al's big shows -- at least six times. (As noted in my Weird Al in Concert post, I lost count at some point.) I love them. I love the costumes and the videos and the showmanship and the sheer precision.

But the Vanity Tour felt like something special.

Every time I've seen Weird Al, I've gone with my dad. And usually, when we leave the venue at the end, we talk about what a great performer Al is.

This time, as we left the venue, we talked about what a great singer he is.

Strip away the glitz and the hits and the fat-suit, and it lets you really focus on just how damn good Al and his band -- Jon "Bermuda" Schwartz on drums, Steve Jay on bass, Jim "Kimo" West on lead guitar, and Rubén Valtierra on keyboards -- are. Hell, when they played Why Does This Always Happen to Me?, I wouldn't have been able to tell Valtierra's playing apart from Ben Folds's on the studio original.

They didn't play every song I would have liked to hear -- of course not. The way I see it, that just means I can hope there's a next time, that I get another chance to hear some deep cuts. (Though I'm realistic and don't expect I'll ever hear a live performance of Hardware Store or Genius in France.) But another one of the wonderful things about this show was the sense of constant pleasant surprise.

You know what song I really enjoyed hearing? She Never Told Me She was a Mime. As Al himself noted before playing it, it's not exactly a fan-favorite -- but something about that made it more impressive. It's a song I wouldn't have requested, and I had low expectations -- and I think those low expectations meant I was just that much more impressed by how good it was. No, it's not one of Al's more impressive songs lyrically -- but hearing the band kill it, and hearing Al hit those high notes, helped me appreciate a song I didn't appreciate much before.

So sure, I'd have loved to hear Biggest Ball of Twine in Minnesota. And I hope some day I get a chance to. But I got to hear songs like Jackson Park Express and I Was Only Kidding and, yes, I was even blown away by lesser songs like She Never Told Me She was a Mime. (And because I avoided reading about his set list as best I could before the show, I didn't know he did one straight cover every night. At the Mesa show, it was Suffragette City; you can hear a few seconds of it in the YouTube video embedded at the top of this post.)

Weird Al is a great singer and a great songwriter, with a great band. The Vanity Tour underscored that, more than any other Weird Al show I've ever seen.

If this represents a new phase in his career, and this is what he does from now on, I will be a very happy Weird Al fan.

"Weird Al" Yankovic's Ridiculously Self-Indulgent, Ill-Advised Vanity Tour kicks off tonight in Poughkeepsie, NY. This tour is unique: rather than the usual costume-filled, parody-focused multimedia extravaganza (which I've seen six, or maybe eight, or maybe ten times; as I noted in yesterday's post, I've honestly lost track at this point), Al will be focusing on his original songs.

Consensus among Weird Al fans is, the originals are better than the parodies. That point has been a fixture of Nathan Rabin's The Weird Accordion to Al series, which, for those of you just joining us, is what got me talking about Weird Al these past few posts.

I love Al's originals, and I wonder which ones he'll play. He's kept the set list under wraps, but he confirmed two things in a Rolling Stone interview last October: he'll be playing Albuquerque, and he won't be playing Hardware Store. Hardware Store is a fan favorite, so it's disappointing to hear it won't be part of the tour -- but Al explains, reasonably, that it's just too complex to play live on stage.

And if Hardware Store is too complicated, I'm guessing we won't be hearing Genius in France, either. That's a shame too -- but man, there are plenty of other great options.

I think Dare to Be Stupid is a given. I can't imagine making a list of original Weird Al songs without it.

I've seen him perform Dog Eat Dog, One More Minute, and The Night Santa Went Crazy live before. I'm not sure if that makes them likely contenders for the Vanity Tour, though -- after all, if he's focusing on lesser-known songs, breaking out the originals he's done on previous tours doesn't necessarily fit the theme.

But there are plenty of other great choices. Frank's 2000 Inch TV and Everything You Know is Wrong are old favorites. Close, But No Cigar features some of my favorite lyrics ("She had me sweatin' like Nixon every time I was near; my heart was beatin' like a Buddy Rich solo"). His last album, Mandatory Fun, has some great damn originals, including Lame Claim to Fame, Mission Statement, and First World Problems.

Or maybe -- and perhaps most exciting of all -- he'll do some new stuff. This is, after all, not one of those concerts that people are going to because they want to hear the hits.

I'm sure fans will be sharing the set list by tonight, though I'll try not to peek; I want to be surprised by the time he makes it to Phoenix in May.

And tonight's set list won't be every song he'll play on the tour; Al said in the Rolling Stone interview that he'd have two shows' worth of material ready.

Maybe I'll have to head down to Tucson so I can see him twice...

This is the latest in a series of stories about my experiences as a fan of "Weird Al" Yankovic, inspired by Nathan Rabin's The Weird Accordion to Al series. Previously, I've posted about my earliest encounters with Al's work, and my memory of the first time I heard I Remember Larry. This one is about exactly what it says on the tin.

I'm not sure how many times I've seen Weird Al in concert, but it's at least six.

The first time would have been at the Arizona State Fair in 1997. I remember he played Dare to Be Stupid and Dog Eat Dog. But the most memorable thing about that concert is that it was the first time I ever asked a girl out.

I had just turned fifteen. She was the girl who I would spend most of high school hopelessly, madly in love with. Unrequited, mostly.

And she said yes.

I asked a girl out, for the very first time; a girl I was crushing on, badly. And she said yes. My knees were jelly but it was all worth it. It felt good. Good enough that when she called me a few days later to tell me she couldn't make it because she had church, okay, that was a disappointment, but it still felt pretty good that she'd said yes at first.

The next Weird Al show I remember for sure was at Celebrity Theater. I'm pretty sure that was the show where he did The Night Santa Went Crazy and the fake-snow machine got all gummed up and dumped a huge pile of white crap on some poor bastard in the front row. (My dad swears that was one of the State Fair shows, but my brother and I agree it was at Celebrity.)

And I saw him again at the State Fair sometime after Running with Scissors; my dad and brother were with me, as was my then-girlfriend. I remember this one because there was a bit he'd do for the encore; a Jedi-hooded figure would come out and work the audience a bit, then pull back the hood to reveal...that it wasn't Al, it was the keyboard player. My brother made fun of me because I fell for it, even though we'd already seen them do that bit at a previous show.

We saw him at the Dodge Theater some time after that. I remember it was a relatively small show for the Dodge; they partitioned off the ends of the hall. I also remember that the very next night, we saw Ringo Starr's' All-Starr Band at the same venue -- to a larger but far more lethargic audience. Weird Al put on a better show than a goddamn Beatle.

And I remember seeing him again at the State Fair, where, unlike every other time I'd seen him, he put the Star Wars material right before intermission, instead of using it as his encore. What, then, would be the encore? I wondered. I was quite excited when I found out the answer: when he came out and played the opening notes of Albuquerque, I actually cheered.

The last time I saw him was at the Celebrity again. Dad and I got front-row seats. And got his spit on us during the gargling part of Smells Like Nirvana.

Those are the six shows I definitely remember as six distinct shows. I'm pretty sure there were some other ones in there too. I wanna say there was at least one more show at the fair and one more at the Celebrity. But it's been twenty fucking years, and it's all started to get a little hazy.

I didn't make it to any of the shows on the Mandatory Fun tour. But I'm damned excited about the Ridiculously Self-Indulgent, Ill-Advised Vanity Tour, which kicks off tomorrow night and promises to be unlike any Weird Al show I've ever seen before, whether I've been to six of them, eight, ten, or whatever. No costumes, no videos, few parodies. A concert of Weird Al originals.

I've got my tickets for the Phoenix show. I wonder what he'll play?

Boy, it's been awhile, hasn't it?

I got sick, and busy. This post is about the Weird Al song I Remember Larry, and I originally intended to post it to coincide with Nathan Rabin's entry on I Remember Larry in his The Weird Accordion to Al series. That went up on December 20. So...yeah, I've been sitting on this one awhile.


In 1996, I moved back to my hometown and started high school. I met some new friends and started hanging out with them at lunchtime.

One day, one of them handed me his Walkman and his headphones and told me I had to listen to this song.

The tape was Bad Hair Day. I was something of a casual Weird Al fan by that point; I'd heard Amish Paradise and Gump. I may even have bought the Gump single by that point; I'm not sure. But I don't think I'd heard any of the other songs on the album, and I'd certainly never heard the one my friend played for me that day.

It was I Remember Larry and my friend was right: it was funny. It's one of Al's cheerful, upbeat songs that ends in murder (I don't think I'd heard Good Old Days yet at that point, but it's certainly reminiscent of that earlier song, albeit bouncier and featuring a much more relatable protagonist).

Some sixteen and a half years later, the kid who played I Remember Larry for me on his Walkman performed my wedding.

Brad performs a wedding

Now, I'm not saying there's a clear path from point A to point B here. I'm not saying that Brad and I became and remained close friends because of I Remember Larry. But I suspect our mutual appreciation for pitch-black humor wrapped in an ironically cheerful veneer is a big part of why we clicked.

He had me keep listening through Phony Calls and The Night Santa Went Crazy, too.

I caught some kind of head cold, or maybe the flu that's going around, and stayed home from work today.

Reports indicate that this year's flu vaccine may only have a 10% efficacy. But if you haven't been vaccinated, do it; 10% efficacy's better than nothing. I got mine -- and if I hadn't, I might be feeling even worse right now.

In my last couple of posts, I've talked a bit about the drawbacks of iOS and Android, but acknowledged I've found the alternatives lacking. Ultimately, I went back to Android -- but not stock Android.

Android -- at least, the base OS -- is free/open-source software. As such, there are many different variations of Android available.

Replicant is the only Android variation endorsed by the GNU Project; it seeks to provide an Android experience with only free/open software. Unfortunately, it has drawbacks: it has a very limited number of supported devices, the most recent of which is the Samsung Galaxy Tab 3, which was released in 2013. Replicant itself isn't quite that outdated; the latest version is 6.0, based on Android 6.0 Marshmallow (2015). And even though Replicant itself is free, it still requires proprietary firmware in most cases.

I've ultimately settled on LineageOS, an Android distribution descended from the previous CyanogenMod project.

You can install Google Services and Apps (Gapps) on top of LineageOS, but on my latest installation, I opted not to do that. I get most of my Android software from F-Droid, a free software repository.

I do run a few proprietary apps; the Amazon App Store is one source, and there's a program called Yalp Store (you can get it from F-Droid) that lets you download apps from the Google Play Store without installing Gapps -- though keep in mind that does violate Google's terms of service.

Someone also recently recommended microG to me; it's a free re-implementation of Google Services. I haven't tried it out yet, but it looks promising.

All in all, I was surprised by just how easy it ended up being running an Android-based OS without Google's proprietary apps and services. That's easy for values of "easy" that include being comfortable flashing your phone, of course, but so far it's worked out pretty well for me.

I'd sure like to see one of those alternatives get a better foothold, though. More competition is good for everybody, especially if that competition comes from free software.