What is that? It's a duck pond. Why aren't there any ducks? I don't know. There's never any ducks. Then how do you know it's a duck pond?
Friday, September 28
Pollies Gone Wild
In case you haven't been following Australian politics of late (and I wouldn't blame you one bit), our federal government - specifically, the Attorney General, Nicola Roxon - has been floating a trial balloon to collect unprecedented amounts of information on the people of Australia. Between ASIC and the AFP - roughly equivalent to the FTC SEC and FBI in American terms - they want to record all online communications and phone calls of everyone, and keep all the data forever.
I estimate that to be around 5 exabytes per year, and growing at about 50% per year. Hardware costs for the storage alone would run about a billion dollars a year, never mind the expense of managing and maintaining it all.
First, everyone involved in this criminal idiocy should be removed from office at the first opportunity.
Second, time to invest in VPN companies.
iiNet (my ISP) also made the point that such a database will be an irresistible target for hackers, and given the government's plans to foist the operation expense onto the individual ISPs (of which there are several hundred), it will get hacked.
(As I mentioned to help, I recently had my mee.nu blog spammed, and after I deleted the offending comments, my recent comments widget was borked.)
Posted by: Mauser at Tuesday, October 02 2012 06:59 PM (cZPoz)
Yes, the comment ordering gets kind of skwiffy and needs to be reset. That should all be cleaned up shortly.
Posted by: Pixy Misa at Tuesday, October 02 2012 08:45 PM (PiXy!)
We'll be switching from MySQL to MongoDB soon because of this. It's not a MySQL bug - it's a Minx bug - but MongoDB's indexing is more powerful and removes the need for the fiddly code with the bug in it in the first place.
Posted by: Pixy Misa at Tuesday, October 02 2012 08:48 PM (PiXy!)
In short, Torchlight II offers you more and better Torchlight. More character choices (four classes, all available as male and female, against the three choices in total in the original), more pets (up from two choices to eight), more towns, more dungeons, more monster-splatting goodness. The story picks up right where the original left off, with everything you'd set to rights promptly going wrong again.
I played the Vanquisher in the original (read: hot shooty chick), so I'm playing a female Outlander in the new one, which provides much the same deal, though I'm mostly using a shotgun this time rather than dual-wielding pistols. A shotgun with a bayonet, mind you, which is frankly terrifying.
I'm likely to come back for a replay later too, because both the Embermage and the Engineer look like interesting classes to play. (And it's about time an RPG had an Engineer character class!) I tried the Destroyer in the original (hulking barbarian type), and it was all a bit meh.
If you enjoyed the original and wanted more, then this truly delivers. If you didn't like the original, then you're a bad person.
And if you haven't played the original, there's never been a better time to pick it up. It's available for Windows, Mac, and Linux, and it's part of the latest Humble Bundle, which means you can get it DRM free, plus four or five other games, for just a few dollars. The Humble Bundle is a name-your-own-price deal, but you get extra goodies if you pay more than the current average, and part of it goes to the EFF and Child's Play, both well worth supporting. The current average is just $5.84, but they've sold over 200,000 bundles in this deal so far.
Metacritic is showing an average review score of 90, and an average user score of 9.2. (Why one is out of 100 and the other out of 10 I don't know.) Diablo III rated 88 on reviews but a dreadful 3.8 on user scores, because it disappointed the existing Diablo fans, particularly with the flaky servers at launch time.
Torchlight II doesn't disappoint. This is no story-driven epic like Dragon Age: Origins, but it doesn't want to be; it's comfortable with what it is. And what it is is a whole lot of fun for twenty bucks.
I'll go with the crowd here and give it 9/10. It's not going to change the course of computer gaming (I have my hopes pinned on several recent Kickstarter projects for that), but if you ever wanted to take a firearm to a fantasy trope, this is for you.
Also, it has goggle-wearing ferrets. That in itself is worth the price of admission.
Torchlight II: Shooting ratlins so hard they explode since September 20.
Update: If you're still on the fence, try this: Engineers can build robots. Clanky little steampunk robots. And you start out armed with a hundred-pound pipe wrench.
I looked at one of the trailers, and my impression was that this is like Diablo. Is that the basic idea?
Obviously it's a lot newer, and obviously therefore it's got a lot better graphics. Does it have any kind of multi-player mode?
I really liked Diablo, but after I really got into it and started playing it heavily, my right hand started to hurt really badly. I had to quit, and it took months before the pain went away. I assume it was "repetitive stress" etc. caused by me holding onto the mouse strongly while playing.
In Torchlight (and in the earlier Fate series) you could have a dog or cat as a pet. Your pet carried their own little backpack (allowing you to collect more loot), assisted you in combat, and could be sent back to town to sell off unwanted items while you continued exploring the dungeon.
Torchlight II adds a wolf, a panther, a bird, a sort of dinosaur thingy, a stupider sort of dog... And a ferret, wearing a tiny pair of goggles.
Posted by: Pixy Misa at Saturday, September 22 2012 01:18 PM (PiXy!)
I don't remember adding the #1 comment up there. Did your new caching software permit someone, who visited just after me, to post as me?
I have a new server up and running at new provider ReliableSite in New Jersey, but I've been looking for a second source because I don't want to have all my digital eggs in one basket.
Just got a too-good-to-turn-down offer at Incero in Dallas, and placed an order for three servers. They're smaller than the server I have at ReliableSite right now - 4 cores and 32GB vs. 16 cores and 64GB - but with the same disk space and less than half the price.
Two are general-purpose servers, with 2x2TB disks and 2x256GB SSDs in RAID-1; the third is a storage server with 4x2TB disks in RAID-5. These are just a 1ms ping away from the existing servers at SoftLayer in Dallas.
Oh, and each comes with 30TB of monthly bandwidth on a gigabit port, and a private back-end network.
The plan is to have two of these general-purpose servers in Dallas and two in New Jersey, replacing place of the current single larger server there. The four of them combined will cost about the same as our current main server. The new archive server costs about the same as our current archive server but has 50% more space, RAID-5, and eight times the RAM.
The new servers each have a four-core CPU, compared to our current dual-CPU 12-core system. But the new quad-cores are as fast as the older six-core chips, and we have twice as many of them in total, so we're doing pretty well there too.
In New Jersey we'll have Aoi and Midori; in Dallas, Akane and Mikan. Archive server will be Sakura. Our current high-bandwidth server, Kurumi, will be cancelled, since we have plenty of bandwidth on the new main servers and won't need it.
Once the migration is complete it will be cheaper than the existing servers and far more robust and flexible. If one server goes offline I'll be able to bring things right back up on another one; even if one entire datacenter goes down I'll have backups at the other site, and be able to get things up and running again pretty quickly.
Now I just need to work out how I'm going to use all this capacity. But that's a good concern to have.
Since Double Fine blew the lid off indie gaming funding six months ago, every old-school gamer has been keeping a list of people and companies they wanted to see on Kickstarter. And near the top of many lists have been Chris Avellone and Obsidian, who in a previous incarnation brought us the immortal Planescape: Torment.
Their goal of $1.1 million is low for an RPG, but high for Kickstarter. Will they make it? Right now it's anyone's guess, but they've hit 65% in just twelve hours, so anyone's guess is yes.
Update: Well, there you go. Took a whole day, but they're now closing in on $1.2$1.3 $1.5 million and have announced stretch goals (including Mac and Linux versions) out to $2.2 million, which I expect to see them exceed handily.
In less glorious news, BGEE has been Novembered. Awfully close to the release date to announce a ten-week schedule slip, but still, I'd rather have it actually work when it comes out, and it's not like I'll have nothing to do in the meantime.
I am still waiting for someone to come up with a Master of Orion fantasy turn-based strategy (Or maybe realtime with pauses, unlike how Majesty plays.) on Kickstarter. Or a sci-fi RPG (Other than Wasteland 2.).
Posted by: cxt217 at Monday, September 17 2012 02:51 PM (juwHe)
Posted by: GreyDuck at Friday, September 14 2012 05:06 AM (LNOjy)
Too late, I pre-ordered it.
Just coincidence that the oft-delayed release finally lands exactly on my birthday.
Posted by: Pixy Misa at Friday, September 14 2012 01:08 PM (PiXy!)
Now, that's timing! My daughter's birthday is a few days later...
Of course we're in "embarrassment of riches" territory, here: Borderlands 2 closely followed by Torchlight II. We didn't get into Borderlands until a few months ago when Steam put it on an incredible sale ($7.50 for the full meal deal), and now I'm hooked.
Posted by: GreyDuck at Friday, September 14 2012 11:04 PM (Buiw/)
And Baldur's Gate EE is out on the 18th, and then XCOM on the 11th of October.
And that's on top of my Nexus 7 and the 15 Kairosoft games I've bought.
Posted by: Pixy Misa at Saturday, September 15 2012 01:02 AM (PiXy!)
Given the tenor of the questions put to Romney vs. those (not) put to Obama, the press are essentially treating Romney as though he were already president and Obama as though he were simply irrelevant.
Do they know something we don't* or are they just a bunch of brazen partisan hacks?
Yes, they're certainly brazen partisan hacks. But they also seem to take Romney much more seriously than Obama. You don't bother with a coordinated attack plan unless you consider someone a significant threat.
Posted by: Pixy Misa at Friday, September 14 2012 02:45 AM (PiXy!)
This tweet sums up what I'm seeing from the other side of the world:
Latest embassy attacks in Yemen look really bad for President Romney.
Posted by: Pixy Misa at Friday, September 14 2012 02:57 AM (PiXy!)