No boom today. Boom tomorrow. There's always a boom tomorrow.
Thursday, August 30
The Melancholy Of Tari Tari Connect
With many sadnesses, I gave up on Moyashimon Returns after three episodes. It's just not the same.
What I have been watching is that show about the high school club with no clearly defined purpose that has two boys and three girls as members and one of the girls ends up falling off a bridge and/or horse and landing on her head but then gets better.
THAT are following both Kokoro Connect and Tari Tari if you are seeking detailed reviews. Well, mostly they're shipping for Inaban x Taichi and any girl x any other girl, but they post reviews as well.
Both shows are solid if not groundbreaking (though Kokoro Connect at least has that potential), but involve Japanese teenagers, so a default Category 2 angst warning applies.
Kairosoft (makers of Game Dev Story) have been busy updating their games to work on Android 4.1 (a.k.a Jelly Bean, which is what I have).
This is bad news, because I love little simulation games like these, and they have 14 of them out on Android. And it looks like 32 in all.
IGN have a nice roundup of the most popular Kairosoft games. A lot of them came out years ago on DoCoMo phones and are now getting Android and iOS ports. They still sport the original 8-bitty* graphics, which now makes them retro and stylish, but have been adapted fairly well to the touch screen.
This is the one I'm playing right now (well, not right now, but last night): Grand Prix Story.
Grand Prix racing not your thing? You could manage a football** team:
Or a hot spring:
Or a computer game studio. Wait, what?
Update: Completed a playthrough of Grand Prix Story last night. You get 14 years and 3 months of game time - I don't know why that number, but it seems that most Kairosoft games have limits of 10-20 in-game years. After that, you can continue playing but it no longer counts to your score.
It also opens up a "New Game Plus" mode - you can take the designs for one car and one upgrade that you've unlocked with you into a new game. My first inclination was to take my V12 supercar and just clobber everyone in the early races. Problem is, you only get to take the designs with you, not your money or your team. A good V12 supercar costs around $2 million and requires a team tech score of 250 or so, and you don't have anything like that at the start of the game. Maybe the buggy and the V6, then...
* More acurately, 16-bitty. It's easy to forget how crappy the graphics were in the 8-bit days. One of the things I love about Kairosoft's games is that they could - with a bit of squishing - have come out on the original Amiga. A bit of fiddling with a screenshot suggests that the underlying resolution is 320x200, probably in 256 colours.
32GB or more of Flash storage. My 16GB model is filling up all too quickly. The current models are 8GB for $199 and 16GB for $249 (US). The 16GB model sold out. A 32GB model at $299 looks like it would pick up a lot of customers.
MicroSD slot. Really. Even if only in the new "pro" 32GB model.
See if you can tweak the colours on the screen a bit. The screen is very sharp, but the colours are a bit dark.
Make the screen even sharper - go to 1920x1200. Yes, at 7". Typography at 1280x800 is good, but not quite there.
Stylus. Don't let the Galaxy Note have it all!
Help Kairosoft get Game Dev Story fixed on Jelly Bean. Done!
Update: Asus (who make the Nexus 7 for Google) have a 7" tablet which matches most of my needs. Still 1280x800 and 16GB, but it has micro-SD, micro-HDMI, and a stylus. Loses points only because it's funny-looking. If they can make it a bit more Nexusy, I'll buy it.
I now have subscriptions to Analog, Asimov's, and F&SF.*
I used to buy Analog and Asimov's at the newsagent when I commuted to work on a daily basis, since they were very convenient reading material. I've been working from home much of the time since early 2010 and so fell out of the habit.
So what changed? The Nexus 7. It's small enough to be comfortable to hold, large enough to read easily, and the display has enough pixels to render text almost adequately.** I have about 150 books and 150 apps on it already*** and find myself using it for a couple of hours a day - sometimes four or five.
The subscription process couldn't have been easier: One-click on Amazon gives you a 14-day trial period, and you have access to the past three issues for download (just one for the bimonthly F&SF).
Most ebooks are sorry affairs, with low-resolution covers, 1995-era blue underlined chapter links, and very often, no page numbers.
All three of the magazines do a better job at presentation, with full-screen cover art, styled, hyperlinked content pages, and some (not much, but some) internal artwork. There are a few glitchy bits - try, for example, to flip back to the cover from the contents page - but on the whole they show a clear progression to what ebooks (and emagazines) should be - without becoming irritating interactive multimedia monstrosities.
$2.99 per month for Analog and Asimov's, and $0.99 per month for F&SF. That's a little cheaper than the cover price, but it's only one third what I was paying for the paper edition here in Australia.
They're DRM'd, unfortunately, such that you can only access them on a mobile device. I wouldn't accept that for my books, but it's something I can live with for a periodical.
What I want now is the entire back-issue catalogues of Byte, Dragon, and Scientific American to land on the Kindle store. Oh, and Unix Review. I used to buy it every month just to drool over the workstation reviews. Eventually, I got myself a Silicon Graphics O2. Oh, and a Sun Ultra 5, but the O2 was my true love.**** Of course, these days the O2, even the R10000 version I had, is outclassed in every way by the entry-level AMD Bobcat, but I can assure you that in 1996, it was shiny as all get-out.
Aside: I don't recall the exact power consumption of the R10000, but it was somewhere in the vicinity of 20 to 25W, low by modern standards, about mid-range for even a laptop CPU.
That was for a 150MHz 4-issue out-of-order (OoO) CPU.
AMD's current A10-4655M also uses 25W. It offers two 2GHz CPU modules, again 4-issue OoO, each with two sets of integer execution units and two 128-bit floating point vector units. (But with a shared instruction decode unit, which limits the throughput.)
The O2 had a single 128-bit vector chip called the CRM, running at 66MHz.
The AMD chip has a built-in GPU with 384 shader units (each a 32-bit FPU with MADD) running at 360MHz. That's 96 times the width of the CRM at 5 times the speed.
The O2 was fast and elegant. That AMD chip is considered slow.
* Yes, they're all still alive.
** I'm fussy about typography.
*** Google, get a 32GB model out STAT! Better yet, a 32GB model with a micro-SD slot.
**** I seem to recall they were named Akane and Kodachi. Haven't booted either one up in years.
A Kickstarter project aimed at producing those missing dice - i.e. d14 and d18. (And now d22.)
I've signed up for a full set: d3, d4, d6, d8, d10, d% (d10 but numbered 10, 20, 30...), d12, d14, d16, d18, d20, d22, d24, and d30.
And they're talking about a followup project to offer d5, d7, d9, d11, d13, d15, d17, and d19. For hit dice for your demi-barbarians (d11), and damage rolls for your two-and-three-quarter-handed sword (d13).
Unfortunately, no-one has discovered any new Platonic solids in the past couple of years, so some of the new designs are a little outré. d14 and d18 look simple enough, and d16 is similar to the well-known d10 design, just with more sides. But that d22 is... Funny-looking. Computer modelling has been applied to make sure all the designs are fair, however odd they may look.
And if you're looking for a game to play with your fancy new dice* why not try Numenera, from P&P RPG industry veteran Monte Cook?
Monte, you had me at "Gene Wolfe, Michael Moorcock, [and] Jack Vance". A weird-out far-far-future science-fantasy setting like Vance's Dying Earth or Wolfe's Shadow of the Torturer** would make a welcome change from the approximately-medieval standard we've fallen into.
Both campaigns have already exceeded their modest goals, so all is right with the world.
* I have no actual idea if Numenera does or can use d14 and d18.
I think summer is probably over here. A week ago we had two days over 101F. Then the temperature fell like a rock. Tuesday morning I had to turn on my heat for twenty minutes because it was like a refrigerator in here. (I made the mistake of leaving one window open all night.)
The latest-but-one version of Google Chrome beta had a layout bug which tweaked the width of certain sites (including mee.nu) and wrecked font rendering. Well, when I say wrecked, I mean it was kind of bleh. Also, the scrollbar was in the wrong place, not hard against the right margin.
This is noteworthy not so much because of the bug, but because I'd forgotten I was running the beta release at all. It's the first time I've had a rendering issue in Chrome since... Well, the first time I can remember at all.
Opening Scenes Of An As-Yet Unnumbered And Untitled Lyra Genevris Story, Though Possibly The Fourth, Girl Talk, Presented For Your Delectation
I climbed down from the stool and took a step back to survey the fruits of my labours.
The dummy was still a couple of inches taller than me, and that after shortening her legs twice. Other than that, she looked more like me than I presently did. She sported my usual fair skin and blonde curls, where I was now as brown as any South Isles pirate, and my hair was the raven pixie-cut of an Old High Kingdom lady.
Funny how things turn out.
The dummy had a melon for a head, but in the opinions of my mentor, my mother, and the captain of the city guard, so did I, so the resemblance was unmarred. From that head ran a slender cord of black-dyed hemp, through a pulley fastened to the rafter above, though a second pulley fastened to the supporting beam, through a third pulley bolted to the corner post of the building - I had been busy - and then down to my little cot tucked away under the eaves, neatly out of sight of the windows, skylight, and stairs.
By tugging precisely on that cord, I could animate the dummy to perform certain simple actions, courtesy of a couple of magical trinkets I had expropriated for the task. For example, two short gentle pulls would cause the dummy to close her book, sigh, and rub her brow, while a single lengthy draw on the rope -
The bolt shattered the window which I had replaced only yesterday, caught my dummy right between her painted eyes, splitting her poor head and showering the loft with melon seeds, lifted her bodily from her post, whipping the cord from my hand, carried her the length of the loft trailing my best wig and my second-best dress behind, and finally buried itself inches deep into the crossbeam above the far window.
Then it caught fire.
My name is Lyra, rune-carver, wire-drawer, weir-worker, princess-without-portfolio, and I’m almost certain that someone is trying to kill me.
I was born the day of the Battle of Blackfriars Bridge, to the most tumultuous events in the Eastern Marches since the day the Bishop of Ironguard married his horse. Though my tale has somewhat fewer deaths and a happier ending.
It would all have turned out very differently had I turned out differently. My improbably early arrival had raised tensions in the ducal household, but in that uncertain part of the world a grandson is a grandson and an heir is an heir. But when I showed up pink and squalling and indubitably female, the old duke declared my step-father a fool, my mother a whore, and myself tragically still-born.
But before he could actualise this potential, my mother, protecting her honour and my existence, stabbed the old monster to death with a soup ladle.
Yes. Yes, I know. But my aunt, and hence half of all surviving witnesses, swears that that is what happened. My mother never spoke to me about it - I didn’t know that my birth had involved anything untoward until I was twelve and my cousin started asking awkward questions and I discovered that she knew more of my origins than I did myself.
And it’s hardly the oddest thing my mother ever did.
So, the scene: My mother, my step-father, and my aunt - oh, and me, safe in my cradle I would guess - and on the floor the rapidly cooling body of the reigning duke. And then upon this scene enter two of the castle guard, hastening to report the rapid approach of a small body of armed horsemen - on a day when the army was two days’ march distant, facing off the largest northern incursion in living memory.
And the loyal - perhaps overly so, given the man’s past, but let’s not fault them for that - the loyal guards, seeing my mother standing over their duke with a bloody - well, again, a bloody ladle, but let’s not dwell - spring belatedly to his defense.
And so my step-father, in an ill-timed attempt to defend his wife, quickly found himself cooling on the rushes beside his own father, and the guards found themselves in the position of having killed their duke’s younger son.
My aunt, always a woman of action rather than reflection, seized my mother and my infant self and hustled us out of the room before the unfortunate guards could compound their error, down to the castle courtyard where a young army captain was dismounting, bearing the ducal signet ring and news both joyous and tragic.
First, the invading northerners had been soundly defeated and were suing for peace, on favourable terms.
Second, the duke’s elder son, leading the battle, had been mortally wounded, poisoned, and was not expected to live out the day.
And he found himself without anyone to take his report, because the day’s events had left him the second most senior military commander in the entire country.
And then he saw Lady Whitewater - his sister, in other words; his new-born niece; and Lady Charlotte, Baroness Blackfriar - my aunt - bearing down upon him with even worse tidings.
Because, if you are still following, this dashing army captain was my mother’s younger brother. My uncle has hinted that his elevation had been because having a mere lieutenant in the family was beneath even the younger son of a duke, though my aunt avers that it was more to do with the sudden abundance of vacancies in the command structure, what with the northerners having wiped out half of the eastern army.
In any case, my aunt, faced with a late duke and no male heir, but the signet ring and a dashing army captain (a dashing army captain five years her junior, which fact she insists did not enter her calculations for a moment) close to hand, and impending doom for the entire nation if matters were not put to rights and promptly at that, found that a priest and a chapel were readily arranged and that the old duke’s senior counselors, once apprised of the situation - leaving out certain details, I would assume - could be trusted to provide an interpretation of the rules of succession in close alignment with her own.
I’ve been spending too much time with Joshua and Galen. Let me explain that.
In the Old High Kingdom, succession was governed pretty much by whoever could seize power and hang on to it. In the lazy south, it’s put to the vote among those eligible for election, with the rather inspired twist that no-one is allowed to eat, drink, or leave the assembly hall until the matter is settled.
It rarely takes long.
In the Eastern Marches, the rule is simple: The title passes to the senior surviving male blood relative, delete whichever is not applicable.
Thus, if there is no male blood relative, the title may pass to a relative by marriage, and if there is no male blood relative, it may pass to a female - all depending on how those present decided to interpret the wording of the law that day.
Such matters are, however, frequently later disputed by those not present that day.
My aunt, who can size up a complex situation faster than anyone I have since met, saw that, by marrying herself - oldest daughter of the late duke - to a war hero and brother of the late duke’s late younger son’s wife and mother of the late duke’s acknowledged grandchild - that is to say, my uncle - she could twine those two strands inextricably together to ensure a lasting peace.
Now bear with me a moment, because here it gets complicated.
My step-father, who I never knew (rather obviously, given that he died within an hour of my birth) had, witnessed by the senior surviving member of the family (my aunt again), formally acknowledged me as his own, making me his heir - after my mother, when it comes to property, but first by law when it comes to title.
My step-father, however, was the old duke’s younger son, and not heir. On the old duke’s death at the hands of my mother, title and estate would have passed to his eldest son, who was occupied that day securing the nation’s borders - and, as it turned out, being slain in battle.
And what that means is this: If my late uncle, the eldest son, died first, then his titles would pass back to his father, then both sets of titles to the younger son, my step-father, upon the old duke’s death.
If the old duke died first, and then my late uncle, then title would have passed to him, and then, upon his passing, to his wife as regent pending the birth of their son, another of my many cousins, and his reaching the age of majority.
You ask how it was known the unborn child was a boy, and not that I was a girl? Well, you see, my mother was - is still - a weather witch, and you can’t read a witch (or a magician) in that way. Hence the surprise and all that followed.
And finally, if the old duke died first, and then my step-father, and my uncle last of all, then my step-father’s and my mother’s titles would have flown to my uncle and his wife, along with the duchy itself.
Unfortunately for history, what with persuading certain parties that the war was truly over, and the treaty negotiations, and the need to make camp, no-one recorded the time of my uncle’s passing until several hours after the fact.
And given that my mother, in the brief season of weddings and funerals that followed, disavowed all lands and honours in favour of her infant daughter - that’s me - and that my aunt had been handed more loose ends than even she could neatly braid, I was somehow left holding the title of the female presumptive heir to a vacant throne, even while the throne was not vacant, and I was not in actual fact the heir to anything.
Which means that technically - technically, mind you - the line of succession of the Stormcoast runs through my cousin Isabel, Lady Greyhaven, which title would normally belong to the duke’s wife, my aunt, except that she is in her own right (as third most senior child of the previous duke) Baroness Blackfriar, and the two titles are held independently by tradition older than the nation itself, followed by my cousin Lord Ramon, my late uncle the eldest son’s own son, and then to the Princess of Whitewater - which is to say, again, technically - me.
Though if anyone should decide to put their own interpretation upon matters, that order could conceivably be rearranged in any way you might imagine, depending on how forcefully they pressed their point.
"Oh, and Galen, your desk is on fire.”
Which indeed it was. The bolt, which, after I had beaten out the flames, I had extracted with considerable effort from the heavy oak beam in which it had implanted itself, had proceeded to eat through the heavy canvas wrappings I had transported it in, and had now set fire to the wood beneath.
With some muffled swearing and judicious use of heavy leather gloves, the bolt was soon relocated to a brass urn that had seen better days, and the desk itself set more or less to rights. Galen shook out the charred remains of some report, sighed, and placed it neatly atop a stack of similar, if less weathered, papers.
Joshua raised his head from the urn where he and Sergeant Berenson had laid the bolt to rest.
"Tsarotic acid. Nasty stuff. Old High Kingdom assassins liked to use it, to make sure their victims stayed dead. Once it gets into your system, it quite literally sets your blood on fire. Nothing left for even a necromancer to work with.”
Wonderful. Because four feet of inch-thick steel wasn’t a sufficient health risk.
Galen returned his focus to the task at hand.
"All that is of great significance to the Stormcoast I’m sure, Miss Genevris, but why exactly should it be causing trouble in my city now?”
Good question. Unfortunately, I believed I knew the answer.
"Because, Lieutenant, it’s all just hypothetical until two things happen. First, the present duke has to die, and second, the heirs must reach the age of majority. Otherwise my aunt would automatically become regent and she’d sort everything out inside of ten minutes.”
"And you are the oldest heir?”
"Yep.” If anyone could have followed that tangled tale in one hearing, it was Galen.
But those first pages are sometimes better than the completed story could ever be.
Posted by: Pixy Misa at Monday, August 20 2012 12:53 PM (24day)
Anyway, the reason I write this piece is because I figured out last night how Lyra's backstory worked - I'd said apparently contradictory things in a couple of places, and this resolves them all. So I had to get it all set down before I went to bed. And having done that, I thought I might as well put it up here.
Posted by: Pixy Misa at Monday, August 20 2012 12:55 PM (24day)
Is this the same protagonist as the one in that unfinished fantasy novel from way back when - at least six years ago? I seem to remember she was some sort of glyph-using witchy sneak-thief. What ever happened with that?
Posted by: Mitch H. at Tuesday, August 21 2012 12:09 AM (jwKxK)
Yes, same one. That stalled because I never worked out how it was supposed to end. I'm hoping that noodling around with a sequel might enlighten me.
Posted by: Pixy Misa at Tuesday, August 21 2012 12:27 AM (PiXy!)
It was a beautiful clear winter’s day. The sky was the aching pale blue of a flawless topaz, with a ring of pearlescent clouds at the horizon framing the dome of the heavens like those plaster molding things that hide the gap between the walls and the ceiling.
Sorry. If I couldn’t steal it, I never paid much attention. A character flaw I’m paying for to this day.
My name’s Lyra, thief turned thieftaker, disgraced child of a distant soil, student of magic, scribe and amanuensis to Joshua the Magnificent. This morning I was engaged with drawing pictures with my finger in the frost on the window panes.
A thump from behind me indicated that another book had failed to yield up answers. I stared out at the snow-covered rooves, the snow-covered trees, the snow-covered everything else.
"I thought you told me that weather magic was impossible.” I tilted my head to admire my handiwork.
"And what else did I tell you?”
"You told me that a single example outweighs a thousand dusty treatises.”
"Did I?” I turned around. Joshua was beaming at me. "That’s rather fine, don’t you think? Have you -”
I patted the thick journal on the bench beside me. "All safe.”
"Good, good.” He paused for a moment, uncertain again. "You must admit that we do have rather a striking example here.”
We did indeed.
I said I studied magic, and so I do, but the truth is that magic is drawn to me in rather the same way that large rocks are drawn to the moons. In other words, in no perceptible way whatsoever. What I could do, what I could do apparently rather well even by magician standards, was seemagic.
This is something of a trick, a skill young magicians need to learn and master over the course of years. They say that if you stare out to the horizon, and then extend your gaze again, out to the horizon beyond the merely physical borders of the world, there, faint and flickering, are the living threads of magic.
For me, though, it’s just there. It’s not so much that I don’t have to make an effort, as that I can’t unsee it even if I try. It’s been that way as long as I can remember.
And three days ago, someone had doodled a lace doily on the sky.
I turned back to the window, tracing the lines and whirls again.
"My mother also told me that weather magic was impossible.”
"How is your mother, by the way?”
I’d recently received a letter, wrapped in oilcloth, stamped with the Ducal seal. It seems that being the disgraced sister of the Duke carries benefits that don’t extend further down the family tree.
"She’s well. She thinks she’s an elf.”
"Really? What kind?” I didn’t bother to answer, continued tracing the pattern in the sky onto the glass. Joshua coughed. "In any case - your mother may be something of an expert on the subject, but still…”
It was, as I said, a beautiful winter’s day. With its coating of snow, the city looked like a particularly fanciful wedding cake, and I knew that from the far end of the loft I could look out and see the ice shining in the harbour like a million tons of uncut diamonds.
It was the middle of summer.
Weather is something I thought I’d left behind with my old life. Here in the south they think they have weather, when what they really have is climate. This time of the year it rains, this time of the year it is sunny and warm, this time of the year it is sunny and a little less warm. (I’ve been to the far north. Southerners have no conception of cold.) The winds blow steadily from the north-east, then they shift about and blow from the south-east instead. (Handy to know, when your empire is built on trade.)
Where I came from, what I’d left behind, was a region with weather so obstreperous that they’d named the entire country after it.
My mother, disgraced sister to the Duke of the Stormcoast, was a weather witch. Which is not to say that she could shape the weather, rather that she could predict it, and with uncommon accuracy. That had lead to a certain amount of fame, and that had lead to her catching the eye of the old duke’s son, and that had lead to marriage and a certain amount of household tension revolving around my sudden appearance, for though I was too young to know it at the time, my conception must have preceded my mother and her husband’s first encounter by some months.
And that, somehow, had lead to my mother killing the old duke with a soup ladle. Neither my mother nor my uncle, who had survived the debacle, nor my step-father, who had not, had ever bothered to fill me in with the precise details.
That’s not how my mother disgraced herself, in case you were wondering. Indeed, the populace and surviving family alike rather thought the old monster had had it coming. That - but no, that story can wait for another time.
I don't actually know that much about Tesla, but when I think of him, he's kind of the canonical example of a mad scientist. The closest you could come in the real world to the MS in the "Back to the Future movies.
At twenty to eight I gave up waiting for the tram and started the long slog down towards the office. In the civil service, it is always better to be definitively late than uncertainly on time, and my spex showed three amber dots doing an impression of Brownian motion amid the maze of city streets. Which meant, with roughly equal likelihood, that the transponders were down, the feed was down, the trams were genuinely stuck in traffic, or all of the above.
My spex were up, at least, and I chirped in with a revised ETA.
It was Monday, one of those increasingly rare summer days when the temperature and the humidity dropped into double digits simultaneously, and I could use the exercise. My transfer last year from field work to an analyst’s desk had failed to induce any reduction in my pastry habit, and the unending overtime left me with no energy to stop at the gym on the way home of an evening. So I took my jacket off, slung it over my shoulder, and I walked.
The office is part of the sprawling sandstone edifice of Central Station. If you enter from Eddy Avenue through the colonnade, turn right into the first service corridor, go past the bathrooms and the authorised personnel only signs, enter the baggage elevator and take it down to P3 and then back up to P1, you will find yourself in a narrow pedestrian tunnel with an arched ceiling, pale green walls, and fitful fluorescent lighting installed around the time a young Marconi was first toying with spark-gap transmitters.
And if you follow that tunnel far enough, you will come to a closet door labelled DR JBB BELL.
I opened the door and went in, because that is me, and this is my story.
Don’t try to follow those instructions, by the way. Not only will you be surreptitiously fingerprinted and retina-scanned, and then very politely but very firmly arrested, but I lied about at least three critical details, and in any case, it’s not there any more.
My name is Jocelyn Barrett Beresford Bell, known as B.B. to my more irritating friends and Baby to people I refuse to talk to. My father is an astrophysicist, and my mother is a fruitcake. I have an MSc in statistics, a PhD in abnormal psychology, I turn thirty in June, and I work as a transit cop. Which partly explains why my office is a renovated broom closet in a service tunnel deep below Central Station.
But only partly.
Sydney’s Underground system is the most complex in the world, a last gift of King and Country in the decades before independence. Bored Scots engineers, run short of London silt to burrow through, had been shipped off en masse and run riot in the rich southern soil. Or so the story goes, and indeed the city had inherited an Edwardian knotwork masterpiece of brick and cast iron, weaving a spell of rapid transportation from the beaches to the mountains for over a century.
Being unique in scale brings with it unique problems, so unique – if you will forgive my phrasing – so unique that the sociological actuaries are required to carry backup weapons.
Long ago and far away I work briefly many levels underground in the bowels of Wynyard Station. My desk backed onto a cinder-block wall the other side of which was a train tunnel. Whenever a train passed through (which was frequently) the desk and all on it would rattle disconsonantly (or maybe that was just me).
Posted by: tombei the mist at Saturday, August 18 2012 07:44 PM (hGCqM)
Most people never even notice that Wynyard Station is missing two entire platforms...
Posted by: Pixy Misa at Sunday, August 19 2012 12:23 AM (PiXy!)
Also, I came up with the perfect title for a story idea I've been tossing around (one that would work better visually, but where I lack the wherewithal for that, I can certainly write a story) and it gets zero hits on Google.
I spent half an hour last night rescuing important mail from my Gmail spam folder, and spent half an hour this morning flagging mail in my inbox as spam.**
Rescue Thunderbird. Get some top UI designers to make it really pretty, and some top coders to make it really fast. Get it on Android and iOS. And then make it seamless to use it with Yahoo mail, and make it seamless to move from Gmail or Hotmail/Outlook to Yahoo.
* Marissa Mayer is the new CEO of Yahoo!, formerly employee number 20 at Google.
** And missed the tick box once and had to go and rescue a critical conversation.
So, a court case has broken out between Apple and Samsung. Apple asserts that Samsung phones and tablets are too much like Apple's phones and tablets which are completely sui generis; Samsung says bollocks - and have been presenting lots and lots of prior art to prove it.
Attempting to avert a months-long jury trial, Judge Lucy Koh set time limits for the presentation of evidence on both sides, giving both plaintiff and defendent 25 hours to present their case.
I just realised why this is completely wrong and a perversion of justice.
There is a tactic in debates - originally, evolution vs. creatonism debates - known as the Gish Gallop. It's pretty simple: You make whatever claims you like, rapidly and with certainty.
Then it's up to your opponent to answer each point, which necessarily takes far longer than it did to make the claim in the first place.
So if Apple gets 25 hours to make their case, Samsung should reasonably have 25 days.
This case is certain to go to appeal, and I wouldn't be at all surprised to see it declared a mistrial.
FFVII is out (again) on PC. I've never played it, and apparently some people like it, so I tried to buy it.
Emphasis on tried.
I can't buy it from the US store, because that only covers the US. And Canada. And Mexico, and the rest of North, Central, and South America and the Caribbean and associated bits.
So I check their global site, and it directs me to the European site. So I go there, and it lets me register (yay) then I hunt down the page to buy the damn thing, and it tells me to fuck off.
It is refreshing in a sense, this constant reminder that no-one - not Amazon, not Steam, not EA or Squenix - has the faintest clue what they're doing. It's comforting to know that everyone else is as bewildered as I am. It would be more comforting still if they showed any sign of recognising this fact.
Can't buy the middle volumes of Kage Baker's Company series anywhere, even though they're all online in ebook form from a single publisher. Can't buy Sims 3 expansions on Steam any more. (Or Dragon Age II, but that counts as a win.) Can't buy Final Fantasy VII, a game that is older now than I was when it came out.* The line of people refusing to take my money has no end.
Update: Squenix got back to me and confirmed that they are aware of the problem and will have a solution in the next couple of weeks. Which doesn't get me my Final Fantasy fix right now, but is actual human customer service.
* Well.... No. Though this is true of the first two Final Fantasy games.
This is typical of most companies online. The left hand doesnt know what the right hand is doing. And they go out of their way to be uncontactable. if you have ever had a problem with an amazon delivery and actually wanted to speak to a real person, and ebay forget about speaking to a human, you get sent on the email merry go round!
Posted by: Tod at Friday, August 31 2012 10:11 PM (l96u5)
Not quite up there with Congress shall make no law, but still:
At the publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management software (DRM) applied.
All Tor ebooks have gone DRM-free. Baen ebooks always have been. Between them, they cover some huge percentage of the science fiction market, so this is good news for recent Nexus 7 purchasers.
Now if there was just a way to import third-party books into the Google Reader app...
Update: What the hell? Kage Baker's The Graveyard Game is only availble on Barnes & Noble (for Nook only) and Apple's US store (for iThing only). Neither Amazon nor Kobo have it.
Update: Ah, it's a "not available in Australia" thing. Of course, it's not available in Australia by any other means either - unless you import the same edition from the same publisher as a physical book. That's stupid.
Update: Returned the first three books in the series for refund. At least Amazon made that part easy, because you can't turn off 1-Click for Kindle purchases, and there's no way to know in advance that it's going to refuse to sell you anything past the third volume of a series.
Update x4: Coincidentally, Ars Technica has an article on the spavined weevils at Hachette UK who are behind all my ebook problems. Two weeks ago I'd never heard of Hachette; now they are synonymous with overpriced and DRM-crippled. A Hachette job, so to speak.