Well that's good. Fantastic. That gives us 20 minutes to save the world and I've got a post office. And it's shut!

Wednesday, August 29


Samsung Galaxy S3 Rawr Edition

No, that's not a typo.

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Monday, August 27




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.
** Soccer.

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Knock, Knock

Who's there?


Gwendolyn who?

Two copies of Gwendolyn and the Underworld, your free M is for Mutt, and your second set of Building an Elder God.

Kickstarter goodies are showing up on my doorstep on a regular basis now.

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Usage And Abusage

Of, in this case, obsolescent computer hardware.

(Give it a minute.)

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Saturday, August 25



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.

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Thursday, August 23


Haven't Done One Of These For A While...

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Wednesday, August 22


I Want To Make A Complaint

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.

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Friday, August 17


When It Absolutely, Positively, Has To Be Annihilated Overnight

That's not actual gameplay footage - it's pre-rendered video.  But it shows their hearts are in the right places.

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Thursday, August 16


The Problem Of Weevil

On a brighter note, if you Google "spavined weevils" the sole result is now that Ars Technica article about Hachette UK.

I'm not sure what, but I feel I've won something.

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.

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Wednesday, August 15


Beautiful Words

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.

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