It was a bad day. A lot of bad stuff happened. And I'd love to forget it all. But I don't. Not ever. Because this is what I do. Every time, every day, every second, this: On five, we're bringing down the government.

Saturday, April 27


XCOM Thingy

You remember how there was that XCOM shooter under development, and how relieved we all were when that faded into the background and we got a new real XCOM strategy game instead?  (Even if I haven't had a chance to play it yet, I was as relieved as anyone.)

Well, it seems the shooter didn't go away, it quietly soldiered on towards a launch this year, and - here's the thing - judging by the trailer, there's a chance, just a chance, that it might not suck.


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Thursday, April 25


Just My Opinion

Web and app designers who employ grey text on a grey background for copy should be shot.*

Right now, looking at you, new Google Play app.

It keeps happening because it looks great. It's a miserable experience to actually read, but it looks stylish and elegant.

* For grey-on-grey headings, they should merely be slapped with a dead sturgeon.

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Honi Soit Qui Salle Blanche

Just dropped a jar of honey-soy sauce on the kitchen floor.

  1. Honey-soy sauce is as sticky as honey and as apt to stain everything within 20 feet as soy sauce.
  2. Cutting your foot on a stray shard of glass and bleeding all over the place doesn't help.
  3. Bleach does.

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Wednesday, April 24



Start8 from Stardock turns Windows 8 into a fairly sensible (if artistically inept) update to Windows 7.  It makes the start screen, charms bar, and hot corners go away.  If that's what you want - each item is independently configurable.

And it gives you back a nice, clean, functional - and very configurable - start menu.

For just $4.99 it turns Windows 8 back from a screaming heap of garbage into a practical, useful operating system.  Highly recommended if you find yourself in a situation where that might apply.

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Tuesday, April 23


And While We're At It I Want Aliens

And werewolves too and I wanna be a beta tester!

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Apart from the Windows 8 stuff - you shouldn't have to fight your operating system, much less your user interface - Sasami is pretty good for the price.  Definitely needs more memory - it ships with 2GB, and it has integrated graphics which eats a good chunk of that right away, about 400MB by default, and I'm running Chrome (which can easily eat over 1GB), PyCharm (which can use several hundred MB on even modest projects), and Xshell (which can also use several hundred MB if you have lots of sessions with lots of history).  So right away I'm using all the memory and then some.

So I'm thinking I'll add another 4GB, and give it the old SSD out of Lina (my Linux box; it has a 300GB Intel 320, but I have a new Samsung 840 Pro to replace that).

That should do for starters.

Also, according to the manual it does have USB 3, which is great news.  My experience with USB 3 thus far consists of plugging drives in and having them work perfectly at speeds well over 100MB/s.  That's not something you want to give up.  

Also also, the GPU apparently delivers 80GFLOPS, not 48.  Still a long way short of any decent desktop card, though - my faithful passively-cooled 4850 is my benchmark card, at exactly 1TFLOP, and my 7950 is nearly triple that.  It should be just fine for playing Terraria or Starbound, but forget KSP - that runs slow even on the 4850 when I launch a complex rocket.

Battery life looks to be in the 5 hour+ range for normal active use (neither leaving it idle nor pounding on it constantly), which is fine for such a cheap notebook.  The only essential upgrade then is the memory, which right now is kind of expensive - the DRAM spot market is going through one of its seasonal conniption fits, with prices up about 60% since the start of the year.  4GB of RAM will cost me nearly $40!  (I can remember paying $500 for 4MB of RAM, for my Amiga 3000.)

Oh, and it comes with a trial version of Norton Anti-virus.  I downloaded Start8 to give me back my start menu.  Norton deleted it.  I deleted Norton.  Problem solved.

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Windows 8 Sucks

There are some good bits.  The Task Manager is a solid improvement.  And the file copy activity dialog is what it always should have been.  Those are a couple of minor items, though.  Overall, it sucks.

Needlessly, because there's a perfectly functional operating system underneath; they've simply layered a whole bunch of crapware and crippling and blatantly idiotic configuration choices on top and broken it.

I give it zero out of ten, as in, there is zero reason to use it.  If you want to run Windows, stick with 7; if you want a touch-enabled device, use Android.

It might be redeemable with something like Classic Shell; I'll find out.  Of course, again, there is no reason why you should need to do that, but if you're stuck with a Windows 8 laptop (like me) and (unlike me) no spare Windows 7 keys, there's potentially a way to fix the most egregious of Microsoft's fuckups.

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Conents May Settle During Shipping

Your mileage may vary.  Barooina brand Puppy Chow may not contain actual puppies.  Do not taunt happy fun Kerbal.

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Sunday, April 21


Age Of Miracles And Wonders And Budget Notebooks

I bought a Windows 8 computer today - an HP Pavilion DM1-4306AU.

Looks like this.

One the one hand, it's woefully underpowered - a mere dual-core 1.4GHz, only 80 graphics shaders delivering a pathetic 48GFLOPS, just 2GB of RAM, and only 320GB of disk. The screen is a tiny 11.6" at a lowly 1366x768.

On the other hand, I haven't bought a new notebook in more than three years, haven't tried Windows 8 at all, and it cost $298 at the local hi-fi store.

And for a little perspective, it has four times the memory and four times the clock speed of the amazing Digital AlphaServer 8400 TurboLaser that I ran an entire phone company on back in 1995. It's not so long ago that this would have been a dream machine; it has 8 times the memory, 4 times the bandwidth, and 16 times the CPU performance of my SGI O2 - and that cost $25,000.

I don't think it has USB 3, or even gigabit ethernet  (Update: Looks like it has gigabit ethernet but not USB 3; the higher-spec but more expensive US version has both.) but it's small, light, has a decent screen (if rather sensitive to viewing angle), is surprisingly responsive (I played with it in the store), and supports up to 8GB of RAM and a full-size notebook drive.

Now all it needs is a name.  (Interim name is Sasami.)

Posted by: Pixy Misa at 04:07 PM | Comments (10) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (Suck)
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Saturday, April 20


Shiny Things Weekly

  1. Toshiba's Kirabook: It's a 13.3" Windows 8 (but let's not hold that against it) ultrabook, with a Core i5 or i7 processor, 8GB of RAM, 256GB SSD, a 2560x1440 display, and weighs 2.6lbs (or 2.9lbs with the touch screen option). That makes it a Macbook Pro competitor that's lighter than the Macbook Air. It's not cheap - starting at $1599 for the i5 model without touchscreen - but if you're sick of bargain-bin 1366x768 displays, it may be quite literally a sight for sore eyes.

  2. Australia's NBN to roll out gigabit speeds. The NBN rollout has been pathetically, miserably slow; they don't even have a plan to deploy it where I live yet. But at least the speeds where it has been deployed are good. And if it actually rolls out at 1Gbps on schedule, I will move to it rather than waiting for it to come to me. (I work from home most of the time now, so fast and reliable internet access matters more than location.)

Posted by: Pixy Misa at 03:44 AM | Comments (2) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (Suck)
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