F1 Practice: Belgium 2012
They say that the one thing to remember about the circuit at Spa-Francorchamps is that it's either raining or it's getting ready to rain. So it shouldn't be a surprise that the weather was rather damp for both practices today. How wet?
The most data the teams got was after the session, when the various drivers went out onto the grid to practice their race starts. The most laps anybody turned in P2 was five; the fastest lap was 2:49.354. That's nearing a minute longer than a normal lap pace. The teams realized that the only things they could learn today was how many pieces they could shatter their cars into, and stayed in the pits. There are no small offs at Spa-Francopants. We did learn some things today, though.
For example, a couple of years ago there was something of a conversation about that chalet at the top of Eau Rouge. Well, during the Legendary Announce Team's Rain Delay Theatre today, we discovered that it's actually a hotel. Yes, I'd like to stay there. No, I wouldn't want to pay for it. Something else interesting:
McLaren has done something interesting with their sidepods; my first thought when I saw this picture was an additional air vent, perhaps to glom more cooling air for the engine, or the radiators, or something. At least, that's what it looks like from the front. From the side and back, it becomes much more obvious what's going on:
It's just a modification of the bargeboards, designed to keep airflow ducted over the sidepods. Aerodynamics are just about everything in F1, and there must be some teeny tiny improvement to be gained from it. Cost? "If you have to ask..."
Quals and the race are supposed to be dry, but remember: at Spa-Francoamerican, it's either raining... or it's getting ready to rain. See ya then!
Right, Here's The Plan...
Okay, Helltime (Saturday will be my 24th out of 27 days, 220 hours worked in those days) at the Duck U Bookstore is coming to an end... I actually got to have lunch this afternoon... so I need to start thinking about getting back into the swing of this place. Here's the plan for the coming long weekend.
Friday night will see... whatever it is I can generate for P2 from Spa-Francophobe. Quals is Saturday, but the first football game of the season is also Saturday, and I've got to be at the Bookstore for that. It looks like Hurricane Illinois-Has-It-Too-Easy is causing the local weatherfolk to drink heavily and throw up their hands in despair, vis-a-vis rain on Saturday, so we won't be taking the mobile store* to the field. Seriously, I've never seen a forecast swing so radically before: it started out with a 20% chance of rain on Tuesday, shot up to 60% on Wednesday, Thursday morning weatherunderground was saying 80%, now it seems that the weathergeeks have passed out with 40% on the screen. That's a high enough chance to keep us indoors... we don't have a roof over our heads, and rain would cost us $3000 in cash register equipment alone. Anyway, unless I get up early enough to watch Quals live, the writeup for that won't be up until sometime Saturday evening.
Sunday, of course, will be devoted to the Grand Prix of Belgium. Labor Day has the potential to see Ep02 of Ben-To... or not, depending on just how wiped out I really am. Either way, Ep02 will go up next week for sure.
So stock up on your Picky and Bretz, because it'll finally be happyfuntime again! Now, where's my bed...?
*note: not actually a bookcart from the Duck U Bookstore.
It looks like it's hooking sharper than the previously thought. Right now it looks like you just catch the very edge of the storm -- and you're on the trailing edge, too, where everything's less violent. I can see where they'd be having trouble with an exact forecast.
Quite The Fight...
So I'm sneaking around inside a mansion when a mercenary/guard literally walks into me, blowing my every attempt at stealth all to heck and gone. Nothing left for me to do but to run him through and hope he doesn't manage to alert anybody else. Alas, his dying scream brings half-a-dozen other guards a-runnin'. It's time to get all fighty and stuff. When the dust clears, I notice this...
...okay, it was a fairly intense fight, but I was never in any real danger, even against six well-armed mercenaries. Guess I might have gotten a little carried away? Maybe? A bit?
"Dude, like, I'm soooooo sorry I killed you so hard you were embedded in a wardrobe... dresser... thing. Bad on me, and I apologize. We good here?"
F1 on SPEED!: Belgium, man, BELGIUM!!! 2012
*tap tap tap*
...is this thing on? No?
My fellow Americans, I'm pleased to tell you that I've signed legislation that will outlaw Hermann Tilke forever. We begin bombi... what?
Welcome, my friends, to the return of F1! The long, long summer break is over, the teams have been let back into the factories, the drivers their cockpits, the media their free meals. And where better to restart the season than on the greatest circuit on the F1 calendar, Spa-Francorchamps? Let's take a look at the track map:
Over the years, I've written a metric farkton about this piece of racing heaven in the Ardennes forest, and I'm sure I'll write more in the future, but for now let's concentrate on the usual bits of information. The first thing you notice about Spa-Francopants when you're not looking at an overhead map is the elevation change.
That's looking down from Radillon to Eau Rouge, and you begin to understand just what sort of hill-climbing this place entails. But, as they say in Brussels, "what goes up must come down," and Spa-Francoamerican does that with a vengeance. For example:
This is looking from Turn 09 down towards Pouhon, and it keeps plunging down until you reach Fagnes, more or less. Then you even go slightly uphill returning to the start/finish line. If you're susceptible to road sickness, this is NOT the track for you.
Fortunately for all of us, the Legendary Announce Team does not have that malady, and SPEED will be bringing us their usual sterling coverage of the entire race weekend! Let's take a look at the schedule, shall we? Friday:
P1: 3a - 430a, streaming
P2: 7a - 840a, live Saturday:
P3: 4a - 5a, streaming
Quals: 7a - 830a, live-ish Sunday:
Grand Prix of Belgium: 630a - 9a, live!
On the other hand, the F1 Update! crew has been working 60 hour weeks and this one is no different, with the first football game of the season at Duck U on Saturday. Who knows what the coverage will be like for P2 and Quals? The race, though? Oh, we'll be here for it for sure! See you then... I'll bring the waffles, you bring the sprouts.
UPDATE: We here at F1U! would be remiss if we didn't wish Bernie Ecclestone a happy wedding! The F1 Supremo/Troll, 81, married Fabiana Flosi, his 35-year-old girlfriend/marketing director last weekend. Through our contacts in Switzerland, we've had the pleasure of seeing the actual service; here's a short clip! Good luck, you two wacky kids!
It's the greatest track on the calendar, but it's not my favorite.
#1 on my list is Silverstone, then Spa-Francoshorts, then it's a toss-up between Japan or Canada.
Monza isn't on my short list because, while it is legendary, it's just not that interesting to me. Monaco is interesting, but it went a long time before it started to give us good races (which it's done recently, to be sure).
We'll see soon enough where Austin and Weehawken show up on the list.
Posted by: Wonderduck at August 27, 2012 08:33 PM (JwLyo)
I think the New Jersey track looks like it'll be good, maybe even *very* good. Plenty of elevation change, and being a street circuit, Tilke can't make it entirely boring. The track in Texas, though... I don't know... it might be okay, but I can't see it having any particular character.
Suzuka and Spa are my favorites on the current calendar.
Posted by: flatdarkmars at August 27, 2012 11:27 PM (I55Es)
4Here is a simulated/cgi lap of the Circuit of the Americas. The announcers keep comparing turns to Turkey, which I'm not sure is a good thing. But it looks like it should be interesting.
Posted by: David at August 28, 2012 11:45 AM (+yn5x)
Not Bad... For A Lieutenant.
Neil Armstrong, the first person to walk on the Moon, passed away today. He had been ill since having cardiac surgery at the beginning of the month. The term "hero" is bandied about a lot these days, but if there ever was a man who deserved the title, Armstrong would be him. He was a Naval aviator for two years, reaching a rank of Lieutenant (jg) in the Reserves. He resigned his commission in 1960. He received his engineering degree from Purdue, became a professional test pilot, and flew both the X-1b and X-15. He was one of the first pilots selected to fly the (failed) X-20 Dyna-Soar project before joining NASA's astronaut corps. He'd become the second civilian in space (behind the USSR's Valentina Tereshkova) during the less-than-successful Gemini 8 flight. His next, and final, spaceflight was Apollo 11. After that mission, he resigned from NASA in 1971, taught at the University of Cincinnati until 1979, then entered the business world until 2002.
Momzerduck once told me that I watched Armstrong's walk upon the Moon. As I was 15 months old at the time, I don't remember it, but she always said that's why I became such a space nut. If so, then I need to add my personal thanks to Neil Armstrong. I never met him, but he apparently had quite the influence on me.
Through it all, though he's famous for walking on the Moon, he was first and foremost a pilot. The following quote is as good a way to remember that fact as any, and better than most:
"Pilots take no special joy in walking: pilots like flying. Pilots generally take pride in a good landing, not in getting out of the vehicle." - Neil Armstrong
He'll be missed. He'll be remembered.
UPDATE: Armstrong's family released a statement this evening that ends with this wonderful sentiment: "For those who may ask what they can do to honor Neil, we have a simple
request. Honor his example of service, accomplishment and modesty, and
the next time you walk outside on a clear night and see the moon smiling
down at you, think of Neil Armstrong and give him a wink."
You know how you count links to people? I'm two away from him.
When I was a cub engineer at Tektronix, on my first big project, my software project leader was a guy named Dave.
When he was a cub engineer, he worked on a project to develop a lunar landing simulator for NASA to allow Armstrong etc to practice. It worked, too. But it was damned difficult to successfully land the thing. As part of their testing, they all tried it and they all crashed in one way or another.
He said that Armstrong showed up there one time to try it out, and landed it perfectly on his first try.
So Tired... So So Tired...
Friday, 2pm. It had been a miserable day, full of FAIL and spite, but I could take solace in the fact that my 55-hour week would be over in 180 minutes... not that I was counting or anything. Then the phone on my desk rang. It was the Duck U Veep that I report directly to, asking me to be open on Saturday for five hours.
I don't really see why. If a successful man dies of natural causes at age 82, it isn't exactly a tragedy. Everyone dies eventually.
I remember when my then-girlfriend told me that Heinlein had died. She expected me to be devastated, but it didn't really affect me. He, too, was in his 80's, and had a long and successful career, and a long and very happy marriage, and it isn't really given to most of us to do that well. I didn't expect him to live forever, and it wasn't a huge shock when he finally died.
Did Brickmuppet Visit Pond Central?
So last Friday morning, I get into the DuckMobile, buckle in, put the key in the ignition, turn it, and...
...nothing. After a sound similar to that which a lonely puppy makes escaped my throat, I tried again.
...rapid clicking noise. A third try gave the clicking noise with the sound of the engine trying to turn over. On the fourth try, the car started. Well, that's no good. A quick call to Ph.Duck obtained the loan of his car for a few days while mine went to visit the Official Mechanic of The Pond.
Yesterday, I got the call from Tom, and he started with "I've got good news and bad news."
My expression when he said this
"The good news is that your battery was old and dead; your car starts fine now. The bad news is that you've got an oil leak." At that point, I started laughing. THAT'S the bad news? I knew I had a leak, I wanted y'all to fix it! "Well, it'll be a bit difficult, what with where it's located, maybe cost a couple hundred in labor." Do it. "Are you sure?" DO IT! I want my car to stop dripping. I want to stop having to put a quart of oil in it ever three weeks. DO IT!
A couple hours later, it was all done for under $500... including the battery, parts and labor. The oil pump needed a new seal, and it had leaked all over the timing belt, ruining that fairly important item. They told me that the battery failure was actually a good thing, otherwise it was only a matter of time before the belt failed. There were some other, smaller, things that they fixed while they were at it, too. All in all, though, the DuckMobile is running like it's six or seven years old now, instead of sixteen. Well worth the cost. Just wish it hadn't happened the day before all heck broke loose at Duck U... that silence took a few years off my life! more...
K-On!! The Movie
Okay, let's get this right the heck outta the way: if you liked K-On! or the sequel K-On!!, you'll love The Movie. If the combination of cute girls doing cute things while playing cute music cutely didn't or doesn't appeal to you, then skip it... this is definitely not for you.
Azu-nyan thinks there's something wrong with you, though.
For all of you that do like such things, or are KyoAnimaniacs, or both, then The Movie is a must-watch. It finishes the school career of the Original Four members of the Light Music Club: Mugi, Mio, Ritsu and Yui... and it's time for the rite of passage known as the graduation trip. The decision is made to visit London, and they decide to bring Azuna along, since she's been the driving force behind the club. And then, say it with me now, hijinks ensue.
If you're wondering just how they could afford such an extravagant trip, just... well, be quiet and let the rest of us enjoy it, kthnxbye. That little excursion into reality aside, the movie is chock full of fun moments that fans of the show or the characters will absolutely adore.
If you don't know what this is a tribute to, I'm speechless.
Of course there's plenty of music, and wonder of wonders, there's even three or four performances! I think that's twice as many as the original two series combined had, which was my biggest complaint with the show. It's a show about a high-school rock band, why so few "live" performances? But I digress.
If there's one thing we learn from The Movie, it's that Kyoto Animation has lost absolutely none of the zip off their fastball. It's not the best looking thing they've done (that'd be The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya, that franchise's movie), but it's certainly the liveliest, most vibrant production they've put together. AND it looks great, too.
It goes without saying that The London Eye is turning in this scene (in fact, I didn't notice that until I was putting this post together). What's most impressive is that everything that should be moving, is. No static backgrounds for KyoAni, nope. It's all understated in its grandioseness, if that makes sense, but it's still a tour de force for the reigning champion of anime visuals.
If there is any major fault with The Movie, it's in the story. The trip to London is nice, but the over-arching plot of the Original Four trying to write a farewell song for Azuna got a little old for me, as did the laser-lock the thing had on Yui and Azu-nyan. K-On! works best when the entire ensemble gets into the act, and that happened only rarely here. It's not a deal-breaker by any means, but when Mio's most memorable moment is this...
...you know there's a problem. Having said that, I'll still give K-On!! The Movie a solid four stars out of five, and I'm not even that big a fan of the franchise. I'm pretty sure I never finished the second series, for example. It's just a fun, lighthearted romp... a fuwa-fuwa time, one might say. Go watch it, you might actually smile!
One of the more memorable experiences I had came during the Bandai Entertainment panel at Otakon 2010. They had started to make announcements regarding the English dub for K-On!, when, as the grand surprise of the evening (There were several.), Bandai brought out Cristina Valenzuela (Mio's English language VA.) and including among her appearance a rendition of Fuwa Fuwa Time - in Japanese. The audience were bouncing off the walls.
Posted by: cxt217 at August 20, 2012 10:31 PM (sVB41)
Good-bye Free Time!
There are a couple of reasons for the title of this post. The first is simple: this is the week classes start back up at Duck U. The first-year fledgelings moved into the dorms on Saturday, everybody else comes in on Tuesday, and the first day of classes is Wednesday. Eep.
The OTHER, primary, reason is because of an e-mail I got from my Uncle JoeDuck. Contained in this innocent-looking missive was a link to this site. Oh god, the time I've already lost there... just at random, I clicked on "W"... and eventually found this:
Click the pic for full advertising goodness.
Go to the site and marvel at the wonderment that you will find... it isn't all advertising. In fact, most of it isn't old ads, but just... stuff. It's as time-sucking as tvtropes (link withheld to prevent then entire internet from disappearing into this post).
Posting may be sparse this week... or may not be; we'll see.
Saturday Night Tunage XV
And now, by nobody's request whatsoever, Wonderduck Productions in conjunction with The Pond Entertainment presents... DJ Wonderduck with another installment of Saturday Night Tunage! It's an eclectic mix of old and new music tonight, always with an eye on keeping your ear intrigued. And some '80s, too. So lets just get right to it, shall we? Surely!
That wasn't the Lincoln Tunnel, Duck; that was the top-secret McLaren underground test track! Team RB did an infiltration, don't y'know...
Posted by: JT at August 17, 2012 08:17 AM (iStSI)
I wonder just how loud a F1 at full chat in that tunnel is? On Mr Maldonaldo, "the Shunt" must fear for his title.
Posted by: vonKrag at August 17, 2012 06:59 PM (XIY2m)
VonKrag, the marshals in The Tunnel at Monaco wear ridiculously heavy ear protection at all times. At around 26 seconds, you can see an unprotected guy frantically sticking his fingers in his ears as the car approaches... it must be horrible.
The best guess I can find is in this thread at F1technical.net. Some other site suggests 147dB in a full-throttle driveby at a distance of one foot (you brave idiot!)... over at newscientist, they say that 20 cars at spectator distance was around 123dB.
I just work here.
Posted by: Wonderduck at August 17, 2012 07:49 PM (djyNz)
I Have Joined An Elite Group.
Every hobby has a "holy grail." For us American rubber duck collectors, it's usually the Tolo Duck. For those who collect baseball cards, it's the American Tobacco Company's T206 Honus Wagner. Car collectors have different tastes... for one, it'll be a cherry '68 Mustang fastback, but another will only look at Dinos... for whatever reason. But when you're an amateur military historian of the Pacific War like I claim to be, what's the goal? Kaigun, Sunburst, Shattered Sword, The First Team, A Glorious Page In Our History... all of these are on The Shelf. In the comments of that post, CXT mentioned a title I wasn't familiar with. I looked into it and immediately began salivating: it seemed like it pushed every activation button in my brain at once. Full of histories and detailed to the extreme, it was exactly what I look for in a mil-hist book. That it's also considered one of the best references of all time helped a lot, too... until I took a look at the prices.
Holy jumpin' guacamole on a stick, $300??? Yeah, not so much. However, I kept an eye on the Amazon price listing... every now and again, it'd drop to $200, and I vowed to myself that if I had the cash on hand if the price fell to $150, I'd go for it. It still felt ridiculous spending that much on a book, but then I realized that college students spend twice that much and more on books all the time. Eh, whatever, it's only money. Last Friday, I clicked the link to Amazon, and...
Holy jumpin' frijoles in a hot tub, $150. I couldn't click on the purchasing link fast enough. Today, this Holy Grail that has been out of print for at least 10 years and had a list price of $75 in 1997... was delivered unto my hands.
And just what is this paragon of the mil-hist world?
You will probably want to kill me, but when I got Japanese Cruisers of the Pacific War, I paid less than $80 for it new. Falling asleep while reading it is not recommended, since it will probably hamper blood flow in whatever extremity it lands on after you doze off.
It does look great lined up next to my copy of Norman Friedman's US Cruisers.
Posted by: cxt217 at August 15, 2012 10:54 PM (sNcHF)
...which is going for more than double this one. Used. I would enjoy having the whole series, but owning the US Carrier one is probably my next goal.
David, it is awesome indeed. It's dark in Pond Central right now, except for a golden light being cast by my copy. Also, a decent sized cut I had on my left wing (occupational hazard when one works with boxcutters on a regular basis) spontaneously healed when I turned to the first page. My voice dropped an octave, too.
Posted by: Wonderduck at August 15, 2012 11:08 PM (djyNz)
Please use the link button instead of the raw URL. Raw URLs make Wonderduck cry.
Posted by: Wonderduck at August 16, 2012 10:27 AM (OS+Cr)
Speaking of 'wonder'...I was curious enough about exactly how much it cost me, to locate the invoice for my copy of Japanese Cruisers of the Pacific War and...I paid an amount below $60 for a new copy. Granted that was a better part of a decade ago...
Related to Steve's post about his purchase - the best secondhand mil-hist book I ever purchased was a copy of Martin Middlebrook's Convoy, which I had been looking for everywhere before I got my copy.
Posted by: cxt217 at August 18, 2012 12:18 PM (eUibq)
I was able to resist the siren call of the "buy" button on that one for about...4 hours. It arrived today, and I've just spent a happy four hours in my reading chair putting a dent in my lap. Thanks for the heads up! Now my copies of Cruisers and Battleships of the U.S. Navy in World War II look like children's books. Are there any references even close to this one that you'd recommend for the U.S. or British fleets?
Posted by: David at August 23, 2012 07:25 PM (vyRm+)
Actually, yes... Norman Friedman "US (ship type): An Illustrated Design History" series is in the same vein, though nowhere near as good. This is not a knock on Friedman's books; when you're being compared to Japanese Cruisers of the Pacific War, you're expected to come up short. Here's the link to the Carriers entry, but there's also Destroyers, Cruisers, Battleships, Submarines and Amphibious Ships. I've never read these books, but I've read other Friedmans, and they've been uniformly excellent.
Another series of books that I've not read but have heard good things about is the "Battleships" books by Dulin and Garzke. There are three: Axis & Neutrals, Allied, and United States. Here's the link to the Allied book.
So there's a ton of 'em... perhaps literally... out there! I lust after them all.
Posted by: Wonderduck at August 23, 2012 07:45 PM (LdbNL)
I have been working backwards in collecting Norman Friedman's references. As Wonderduck said, while each of his books are not as detailed as Japanese Cruisers, they are among the definitive sources on their subject (Friedman is a consultant to the Defense Department, so whatever is in his book is as close to Gospel as you can get unclassified.). He also has written books about the Royal Navy too, as well as a wide range of other subjects (His book on Operation Desert Storm, Desert Victory, has some rather amazing info not generally known even now.)
Friedman also has gone back and revised some of his books - the current version of US Destroyers is the 2003 edition, with extra info. I had to wait until Amazon started carrying the book again before I got it.
Garzke and Dulin's three books about US, Axis, and Allied battleships are, like Friedman's works, the definitive source on those topics short of a narrow subject reference. They have revised the volume about US battleships, but the Axis and Allied volumes have not been updated IIRC. Oddly enough, while it is possible to easily acquire a new copy of the volumes on US and Axis battleships, the Allied Battleships is out of print with no new printing run in sight. That is a pity since it had the most interesting and varied subject matter of the three (The proposed Dutch battlecruisers was my favorite part of the book, which also covered the Sovetsky Soyuz class.).
Posted by: cxt217 at August 24, 2012 12:57 PM (sVB41)
I've discovered that there's always a certain excited anticipation in my
thoughts when I start an episodic recap for a new series. Like a
runner in the blocks waiting for the gun, a parachutist standing in the
door waiting for the signal to jump, a F1 driver waiting for the lights
to go out, a fast-food employee waiting for the french fry machine to go
"ding", I find myself wondering in what direction a show will take me.
Will it be serious, like the early Ga-Rei Zero reviews or snarky like... well, like everything else? So, Ben-To, how will I be watching you?
This is Our Hero... and I think I know which way the writeups will be
going. It's nice when the show makes it easy for you, isn't it?
Y'know, in some ways, this series will be quite difficult to recap
because I really liked it. Heck, I'm on record as liking it before it even started airing,
and it did nothing to change my opinion as I watched it. It's not
perfect, though... in fact, there's enough flaws that I should be able
to do terrible, awful things to the poor thing. Probably undeserved,
but what the heck, it's what I do.
So enough talk... let's get ourselves into the underground world of martial arts combat for supermarket prepackaged dinners. Ben-To begins now!
Wacky premise, clueless male lead, bevy of weirdo girls... talk about a hit-or-miss scenario.
Posted by: GreyDuck at August 15, 2012 09:01 AM (Buiw/)
I wanted to like it, but I only got three episodes in when I realized the eye-candy was all that was keeping me. Your write ups are much more interesting.
Posted by: Tom Tjarks at August 15, 2012 09:53 PM (yNpP3)
Can anyone comment if this scenario has the slightest basis in real Japan, as opposed to Animeland? Are half-price lunch boxes really that coveted?
I recall a reference in Mahoraba "Heartful Days" to the half-price god, although there he was just uncle half-price. His passing caused a terrible storm of housewives. This is the only similar reference I have seen, even in Animeland.
Posted by: Anonymous Coward at August 17, 2012 04:27 PM (QbDss)
Just Another Skyrim Picture
Even now, after eight months and over 200 hours of gameplay, Skyrim can still throw things at me that make me just sit back and gawp in amazement.
click for the full picture... I recommend it.
On those occasions that I get all introspective and crap, I remind myself just how much computer gaming has changed over the years. When I got my first real computer, "pretty graphics" looked like this:
...so it's just mindblowing to see stuff like this:
Woohoo, a screenshot from the original Wing Commander, with Paladin and Angel.
Back in the days when I was tooling around on the hand-me-down Commodore 128, Reach for the Stars and the like had pretty graphics made up of essentially ASCII characters. I thought the jump in graphics quality was great when I got a PC, but now...
Posted by: cxt217 at August 12, 2012 08:08 PM (a1piG)
It bears repeating: Whatever they paid their art director and that entire art team, they got their money's worth and then some. Freakin' gorgeous game.
Posted by: GreyDuck at August 12, 2012 10:22 PM (Buiw/)
Posted by: Wonderduck at August 12, 2012 10:56 PM (aZ8MF)
Amusingly dated graphics notwithstanding, in my mind I can still hear the background music that accompanies that bar scene on the Tiger's Claw, so clearly they were doing something right...
Posted by: flatdarkmars at August 13, 2012 11:23 AM (I55Es)
Trust me, I wasn't criticizing. I think the Wing Commander series is still the best star-fighter-zappy-zappy sim out there. Particularly III and Prophesy, but even the weaker games (I'm looking at you, IV)are better than 90% of the stuff that's come out since.
Yes, better than X-Wing, better than Tie Fighter, the works. If GOG carried them, I'd rebuy the whole series...
Actually, Prophesy helped me sell a half-dozen computers when I was working at RadioShanty. People were just amazed by it...
Posted by: Wonderduck at August 13, 2012 05:43 PM (aZ8MF)
Have you heard about these guys? First part of the game became available in March.
GoG has been a bit odd with Wing Commander. They have all the games except Prophecy, but they have none of the expansion packs for either WC1 or WC2. They DID get the DVD version of WC4, judging from the size of the game listed in their specifications, which gives the $10 million production budget Chris Roberts had for The Price of Freedom some justification.
Prophecy was nice to look at, and I was one of those people who actually bought the Prophecy Gold Edition. Fortunately, I had also bought the original release, with the really cool starmap that they left out of the Gold Edition.
And of course...RIP Jason Bernard.
Posted by: cxt217 at August 13, 2012 10:03 PM (a1piG)
Y'know, or maybe not. My broadband connection has been down almost all day, other than for a hour or two around 5pm. As a result, I've gotten zero work done on Ben-To! Ep01. Hopefully, my connection will be alive tomorrow (yeah, right) so I can do it then. Until then, here's another teaser for you.
Because I'm nothing if not nice and friendly to my readers.
All Right Already, Hold Your Horses!
11pm. I'm sitting in the thronecontrol living room of Pond Central. I receive a text message. Brickmuppet is having lunch in an Italian restaurant (spaghetti and steak) somewhere in the heart of Tokyo on his way to Harajuku to be swarmed by cosplayers wanting to speak to a native English speaker. If I miss my guess, he'll also be shopping, but what do I know?
This text message, from 14 hours in my future and halfway around the world, is berating me for not having finished my writeup for Ep01 of Ben-To.
Saturday night. I promise. Okay, maybe early Sunday morning, but tomorrow. I've got the final registration day for incoming Duck U fledgelings tomorrow morning, but after that I'm off until 830am Monday. So I'll get it done, I promise.
I mean, if someone's gonna text me from flippin' JAPAN to prod me into doing it, guess I'd better do it, eh?
Telling A Tale
Around here, adventures tend to start in the usual cliched ways. Beggars tell a story for a bit of coin, or an innkeeper mentions a rumor, and the usual suspects go running off brandishing their sword and shield knowing that this time, they'll strike it rich. Certainly some have succeeded in the past: old Greyfang the Portly there, he slew the Witch of Glammistor and hasn't needed to work since. Doubtless there's been others, but I'll be switched if I know who.
Every time they go out, a couple less come back. "Firedrake got Beardy Ned over by the Rocks," they'll claim, then drink to their failure by reminiscing about the poor sod. Gripping tales of exciting adventure, sure, when Ned probably just fell off his horse and split his skull open on a rock. "Helmet will save yer life," I told 'em, but did they ever listen? In a pig's ear they did. Just like their fathers before 'em, not that any of that lot knew who their fathers were. Killed in the Great Marsh War, probably. Lots of men went that way, called to the colors to fight in one godsforsaken spot or another. Marshes don't seem like a place you'd want to fight for if you ask me, but what do I know?
Never can tell, though. Occasionally there's reason enough for a war, though usually not so much. "Prince Pureblood didn't like that batch of goldblossoms from Kroom, we've got to defend our honor!" Queen Soggybottom oops-I-meant-Songbird-pardon-me tried to take over Salain-to-the-North because she thought that big mountain they've got would look good on the back of our coin. Reckon she'd be right, too, except Salain-to-the-North kinda liked their mountain. Sadly, they had a lot more swords than we did, not that our General Whats-his-name was any great tactician. "Towards those ugly bastards," he'd yell and forget about flanking maneuvers or that sort of thing. Units charged and broke and ran, and he'd just yell for more. "Victory will be ours, men, or we'll die trying!"
Well, he was half right. Xenophobic dolt died trying to win against the Salainisti, and good riddance. You like the story? Zip me a coin, friend, and I'll tell you about the treasure General Whats-his-name had with him...
UPDATE: Since nobody seems to see it (I told Muppet what it was), there's a little trick hidden in the story... see if you can spot it!
All Along The Watchtower
The weather the previous few days had frankly been lousy. The ships had been pitching and rolling in a way destined to make everybody who wasn't either a natural sailor or possessing good sea legs rather uncomfortable. Alas, most of the men on board the fleet were neither. Still, nobody begrudged the weather; it kept them hidden from eyes that would be very interested indeed at their presence.
As the sun broke over the horizon that morning, the fleet broke into two task groups. TG Yoke headed to the north, while TG X-Ray steered south, towards the larger of the cluster of islands. Simultaneously, escorting ships raced ahead to deliver a short, sharp bombardment. Overhead, planes wheeled around the sky, swooping down to deliver their payloads, then return to their carriers. Below, the transport vessels began disgorging men and machines into landing craft for the run to the beach.
In the landing craft, the men were tense and prepared for everything. Everything, that is, except for what they got. While to the north resistance was remarkably heavy, to the south the landing craft and amtracks were pretty much unopposed. By the end of the first day, somewhere around 10000 men were well on their way to having landed on that island to the south. The main enemy being reported was a nigh-on impassable jungle. Still, nearly 1000 yards worth of progress had been made and the major objective was near at hand.
In the coming days and months the battle for this island would become a meatgrinder for both sides, chewing up men and machines and spitting them out with total disregard. On that first day, however, the landing on the southern island gave no indication of what was to come.
The day was August 7th, 1942. The island was Guadalcanal. 70 years ago, the War in the Pacific entered a new phase: the Allies went on the offensive. That phase would continue until the end of the War.
One of the veterans that I had the honor of meeting over the years had served with The Old Breed on Guadalcanal, and survived, among other things, The Bombardment. I still consider that one of the greatest experiences I had.
On less amusing topics, I also remember getting into an online argument with someone from New Zealand over the actions of the local longshoremen in the preparations for Watchtower (Something that was reported in firsthand accounts as well histories and official narratives.), culminating in the accusation against me that I was somehow prejudiced against working people. I found that strange then and even more so today.
Posted by: cxt217 at August 08, 2012 10:08 PM (MrRpw)
If you haven't seen it yet, here's this year's Pulitzer Prize winner for Breaking News Photography.
Yes, that's Curiosity descending under a parachute towards the surface of Mars. It was moving around 900mph at the time, approximately a minute before the rover was deployed via "SkyCrane"... i.e., dangled down to the surface on wires while the rest of the capsule hovers above the planet on rocket motors.
And it all worked. Man, can us humans do some swell things sometimes.
Which means they had to schedule the landing so that it happened when Mars Recon Orbiter was over head. Really amazing!
This particular crawler is going to be a lot more effective than the last ones were, because it doesn't rely on solar cells for power. It's using a nuclear power source, same as Galileo, Voyager, and Cassini use. It's good for maybe 50 years.
This IS The Future
I live in Duckford, IL. It's quite a bit like any other city in the USA of similar size. I'm sitting here in Pond Central, creating this post on software administered by someone I consider a friend... who lives in Australia. I've never met Pixy, maybe never will though stranger things have happened. Less than 24 hours ago, I received a text message from Brickmuppet, another friend that I've never met... who lives in Virginia. However, he sent the text message from somewhere in Japan... which looks an awful lot like Michigan, as Steven says. Steven's another friend I haven't met, who lives in Oregon. I can only assume his work on cellphones back when such things were new-ish had some influence on the text message I got from Japan.
Which undoubtedly bounced off a satellite somewhere. Meanwhile, my TV is currently tuned into the 2012 Olympic Games in London, which has athletes from 204 nations and one small group of independent athletes participating, the signal for which is also being bounced off a satellite, perhaps many of them, to arrive here in Pond Central. As I'm watching that, I'm also recording NASA TV as they prepare to broadcast live coverage of our attempt to put a new rover (named Curiosity) on Mars via a technique that Rube Goldberg would find entertainingly complex.
None of this was really possible 44 years ago. Heck, 20 years ago most of this would have been a pipe dream. I didn't even receive my first text until two years ago. And none of this is particularly exceptional today. Well, Curiosity is, but we've seen rovers on Mars before.
This IS the future! We're living in it right now. Science Fiction has nothing on the wonders we experience and take for granted every day. I can hardly believe how lucky we are.
UPDATE 1232am 8/6/2012: Curiosity made it down, telemetry confirmed. Pictures are forthcoming. Oh my god, that was amazing!
UPDATE 1234am 8/6/2012: A picture has been transmitted from Mars, Curiosity has wheels fully deployed.
UPDATE 1241am 8/6/2012:
Curiosity's shadow on Mars, sent just a couple of minutes after the landing. How frickin' cool is that?
UPDATE 1252am 8/12/2012: The landing data is coming in, and pretty much everything was about as perfect as you could hope. For example, at touchdown Curiosity was moving laterally at .044 meters/second. Still no report on how far they missed the planned touchdown spot, but the last information they said was "around 1.5km". After traveling about 154 million miles, missing the target by a mile or so is... eh, pretty okay, I guess. Heh.
I was in SE Asia on July 20, 1969 when 11 landed. Everyone that could watched in awe. Now I'm home in a comfy chair watching and only a few care. When the spectacular becomes mundane I think we as a civilization lose something.
Posted by: vonKrag at August 05, 2012 11:58 PM (XIY2m)
I was following the Curiosity landing on Google Hangout and Twitter while posting simultaneously on a web forum. Landing on Mars is still a big deal for a lot of people.
Posted by: Pixy Misa at August 06, 2012 01:11 AM (PiXy!)
It's wonderful, living in the future, isn't it? Ten years ago calling my girlfriend in Hawaii for an hour a night would have bankrupted me; now we've got full video practically any time we're both at home for free. I'm following six anime series this season, all of which are being posted online (legally!) the day they air in Japan.
I went on a road trip with only the most minimal preparation - most of our hotel reservations were done while sitting in a MacDonalds of a little town in the middle of nowhere (wifi!) from which we booked hotel rooms across the street at half the posted rate. And as for getting lost, hah! That's something that only happens when your battery runs out, these days.
I write one check a month - to my landlord, whose company obstinately refuses to step into the future. Everything else is tracked electronically. I haven't bought a stamp in... or more like, how much are they, even?
Mind you, it comes with a whole new set of dependencies. Cut my internet connection and I become an extremely unhappy camper, very quickly...
We have a photo of a rover landing on Mars, taken by a satellite we placed in orbit some years ago. I love the future.
Posted by: JP Gibb at August 06, 2012 06:43 PM (VSD03)
When I was in Austria, I got around the exorbitant fees to call my family by video chatting, much like you said, Avatar_exADV.
To top it off, on Saturday, I was discussing the progress of Curiosity with a friend who tracked it with her iPhone! She also checked when the International Space Station could be visible over our location. (By the way, the ISS is another amazing innovation from humans.)
I, for one, am someone who is still mesmerized by what we can accomplish. I, too, love the future!