January 31, 2016

Battleship, Row!

World of Warships continues to hold my attention, at least to some extent.  Today brought me a new milestone in the game: my first battleship.

As usual, click for biggernation
Yep, it's a South Carolina!  On one hand, first big-gun vessel to have its main armament all on the centerline.  On the other hand, it's only slightly faster than continental drift, some planets have a better turn radius, and its armor is... lets be charitable and call it "insubstantial." 

However, it does make for some pretty screenshots!  That's something I haven't complemented WoWS on yet: how good it looks.  For a free-to-play game, it looks unimaginably pretty.  Back when I was playing text games on my TRS-80 Model III, I never would have thought that games would look like this:

If you're only able to click on one picture to make it bigger, click this one.
Mind you, these pictures aren't from some replay system or cinematic cutscene... nope, this is actual gameplay.  I didn't even notice the gunnery clock on the forward cage mast when I was playing, but yup, it's there!  Just loads of little detailing on these models.  Unfortunately, the first match I played with the ship, I wound up being sunk by the combined firepower of two battleships and a cruiser.  The third match was even worse, as David and Clayton (aka TheSquirrelPatrol and MachineCivilization) and myself found ourselves facing Tier V and VI cruisers, backed by a couple of Kongos.  Outranged from the very beginning of the match, all we could do is close the range as fast as we could, and dodge incoming fire.  "But Wonderduck," I hear you say, which is impressive considering my headphones are cranking 'The Outbreak of World War' right now, "I thought you said the South Carolina is slow and can't turn." 

That's right, I did.  Please note, this isn't a screenshot of my South Carolina sinking, but David's.  He at least went down guns blazing.  Me, I exploderated after getting to fire a total of one volley.  I believe those rounds moistened a destroyer.  Perhaps in a few years, the corrosive nature of the salt water I splashed upon the DD will gnaw a hole in it somewhere.  Alas, that was my only contribution to the fight, for it was at that moment the Kongo got in range and suddenly there was a South Carolina-shaped hole in the ocean where my ship had been.

SoCar in better, more intact, times
Hopefully we won't be uptiered quite so badly next time.

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January 28, 2016

The Most Eagerly Anticipated

The year is 1994.  Our Hero, horribly damaged by his failed expedition to grad school, has found himself a job where his (at the time) nigh-on encyclopedic knowledge of music actually has a use: he's a shift nabob in the music department at BigBlueBoxStore.  For once I'm going to brag about myself here: we were easily the best music store in town, and I was arguably the main reason why.  Between my radio experience, my personal collection, and a willingness to listen to anything except Country (and even some of that, too!), I could help just about any customer find something they'd like.  The other members of the music department would always come to me if their customer had managed to stump them on a song title... "Hey, Wonderduck, the song goes 'Juliet, the dice were loaded from the start...', who is that?"... and chances were pretty darn high I'd get it right. 

Remember, kids, this was before Google.

Or the internet, really.

I had been hearing rumors from various radio and music trade pubs (Billboard used to be the cat's meow, lemme tell ya!) that there was a movie coming out based on a comic book which sounded promising, but it was the soundtrack that had those of us in the music department drooling.  There was no way the purported lineup could be real.  Stone Temple Pilots, Pantera, Rage Against The Machine, MLWTTKK, Henry Rollins, the Violent Femmes, and The Cure?  And there's no way Nine Inch Nails could really be part of it.


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January 27, 2016

FoF Kongo, WoWS Style

click for biggerness
So as near as I can tell, the Fleet of Fog vessels in World of Warships are simply supercharged versions of their non-FoF counterparts.  Lord knows the guns sure seem to have an extra punch as they turned me into cottage cheese in no time flat.  Non-players of the game might have missed it, but y'all take a close look at the harbor my St Louis is in... it might look awfully familiar. 

It's an enjoyable enough game, but I'm not sure if it's really catching my fancy.  If it was more "realistic", I could see myself going crazy-go-nuts over it, but the arcadey gameplay is a turnoff.  Maybe if I was any good at the game it'd make a difference.  Heh.  As-is, I have no idea how to make it more realistic without making each match hours long, but I'm no game designer.

For which fact we should all be grateful.

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January 26, 2016

"Can You Get Me Off The Hook, Tom? For Old Times' Sake?"

February 2, 1921 - January 26, 2016.

If Abe Vigoda can pass away, what is next?  The universe?

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January 23, 2016

World of Warships: High Score

Due to gentle proddings from friend Ben over at Midnight Tease, the hooligans over at Bo Time! Gaming, and my innate interest in a naval combat game similar in style to War Thunder, I downloaded the free-to-play game World of Warships a couple of weeks ago.  I'm trying to catch up with Ben so we can squad up... that seems to be the best way to play in head-to-head... but the game has a fairly robust player vs bot play too.  The bots can and will kill you dead if you give them half a chance.  After nearly 100 matches against bots, I decided to try my hand at head-to-head earlier today.  The results surprised me:

click either image for larger
The short version was that most of my team went east, while myself, another cruiser and a destroyer went west.  I was lagging behind the other two (they were in Tier IV and V ships, while I was in a stock Tier III St Louis) when they rounded the islands at that end of the map... and discovered that almost all of the enemy team also went west.  Meanwhile, the rest of my team discovered to the east that the bad guys had left three battleships to bottle up that side of the map.  Effectively, as it turned out.  When I saw the approaching red horde on my side of the map, knowing that all I could do to help my two teammates was get myself killed, I reversed course... and headed for the center capture point.  The bad guys got the west point, we got the east... and a couple of minutes later, I captured the center.  I did, however, take an aerial torpedo in the bows, the result of a desultory air attack that I couldn't quite dodge, and a stock St Louis has an Anti-Aircraft rating of "zero."  As they flew away, I noticed that they were disappearing from view after descending about 10 km away... almost like they were landing.  As the only enemy in sight was both a long ways away and something I had no desire at all to engage, I decided to see if I couldn't cause a slowdown in enemy flight operations.  Sure enough, both enemy carriers were sailing together, less than a half-kilometer apart... and on the near side of a decent sized island.  I told my Chief Engineer to disable the engine room's safety features and give me all ahead full as I closed in on two helpless Langley-class flattops.

My brave St Louis-class armored cruiser.
Well, "helpless" is a relative term.  As I charged in, they both began flinging torpedo planes at me as fast as they could.  At one point, they even managed an absolutely textbook "hammer-and-anvil" attack on me that if I hadn't seen it coming would have killed me deader than disco.  As it was, I ate two torps that took my health down to below half... anything with guns could have taken me easily.  But Langleys, like most carriers, are armed with slingshots and spitballs.  Soon enough I was giving the lead carrier full broadsides.  It rolled over and sank in a couple of minutes.  The other carrier was frantically trying to reverse course back towards the Myoko, which would have had me for lunch even if I'd been at full health.  It never completed the turn: my first volley disabled both his engines and his steering.  The third set him afire.  I didn't need many more past that.

Meanwhile, my team's carriers, given control of the air, did bad things to the Red Team's fleet; they still had the western cap point, but they never even came close to getting anything else.  We won a resounding victory; I was second on the scoreboard but I rightfully feel like I won the game for us.

World of Warships isn't anywhere near perfect.  It's very arcadey, destroyers are incredibly overpowered (the guy above me on the scoresheet was in a DD that sank three enemy ships), and the next time someone calls it "realistic" will be the first time.  But it's pretty fun, and really, that's all I need. 

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January 21, 2016

Interstellar: The Ten Word Review

I will never look at dust the same way again.

Oh, you want more?


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January 19, 2016

What? In WINTER??? Is That Even Possible?

I have to admit something to y'all... I'm sick. 

No, no, not that type of sick... I mean the illness type of sick.  A couple of weeks ago, I took a day off from work as a sort of mental health (shaddap you!) day; I was feeling somewhat stressed by life.  The holidays have never been my favorite time of the year, and with some stuff happening at work, I needed to hide away for a while.  So I did... and that Saturday night my chest started to feel a little tight.  I woke up Sunday morning with an abrasive cough.  By Monday morning, the cough was joined by a headache and indications that this was going to be ugly... but I had a more pressing issue: I was in training for claims processing on a new state.  I couldn't miss any of that... it was scheduled for three or four half-days, mornings.  So I gritted my teeth and made it through the entirety of Monday.  I wasn't swell, but I could work through it easily enough.  Or so I thought.

Monday night, all hell broke loose.  I'll spare you the details because this isn't that sort of blog, but it wasn't pretty, it kept me awake for hours longer than I should have been, and thankfully I always have an emergency pack of toilet paper stored in a closet.

And the cough had gotten worse to boot.  It had gone from a rasping thing to the biological equivalent of running piece of luon through a table-mounted router: loud, messy, and totally, epically, pointless. Tuesday's training was misery, both for myself and my fellow trainees.  Once it ended, I walked back to my desk, collected my stuff, talked briefly to my boss, and went home for the day.  I managed to make it through Wednesday and Thursday, finishing the training and working full days, though "death warmed over" makes it sound like there was a positive to be found in my condition somewhere.  And then came Friday.

I got up, got dressed, drove to work, and told my boss I was realistically too sick to be there.  When she (quite reasonably) asked why I didn't just call in, I didn't really have an answer except "I don't like to do that."  So I drove back home, crawled back into bed and slept until Sunday.  The cough changed from agonizing to productive, the headache wound down to tolerable levels, and all is right with the world.

Okay, no.  I'm still sick.  I still cough occasionally, I'm tired as hell, and while I feel okay to start the day, by the time work is done I'm miserable.  So, yeah, still sick.  The weather ain't helpin' none, neither.  The temperature is jumping up and down like a pogo stick, highs in the negatives one day, then highs in the 30s the next.  It's like my immune system tried as hard as it could, threw its metaphorical hands in the air and said "we're moving to someplace warm... like Hell.... as fast as possible."  So why am I telling you all of this? 

Gotta tell somebody, I guess.

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January 17, 2016

Random Anime Picture #108: (happy sigh)

-ARIA the Avvenire, Ep01
Don't worry, there's a review coming.

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January 14, 2016

Firefoxy, Yootoob, And Thou (Updated) (Updated again)

Earlier tonight, Firefoxy and Yootoob appeared to have a sort of snitfit with each other.  All of Yootoob's formatting went out the window, down a dozen stories and straight into the dumpster.  The dumpster was then set on fire by a guy named Sal using a half-dozen old tires, a jerrican of gasoline, a butane torch, and a hairdryer.  All the while, Firefoxy laughed and laughed and laughed, illuminated by the glow of the flames.

Yeah, kinda like that.
Even worse, the same thing happened on websites that embedded yootoob viddies.  Like, for example, Wonderduck's Pond and this post.  All was horror and trouble and everything had a toothache and dogs and cats living together.  But it was only yootoob, and it was only in Firefoxy.  Different browsers had no problem, different video sites played fine.  Updating Firefoxy didn't help, nor did the usual cache and cookie cleansing.  So what in tarnation was going on?

It is a puzzlement.
Some digging around hither and yon seemed to suggest that it wasn't, in fact, a problem with yootoob or Firefoxy at all, but with the AdBlockPlus add-on.  I was resigned to turning it off for yootoob and going through the hell of their ads once again... which would probably drive me back to smokin' and drinkin' and carryin' on.  Knowing how close the world was to a horrible fate, a couple of users over at reddit came up with a solution.  If you're having this problem, open ABP, go to exceptions, and add the following lines:


Voila!  Everything solved, even embeded videos play now!  Apparently, the problem extended into other browsers using ABP as well, so it should work with Opera, Chrome, etc, too.  So there.  That's fixed.  Everybody back on your heads!

UPDATE Friday 947am: A rep from ABP showed up in that reddit thread and says the culprit is the "Malware Domains filter".  If you disable that, yootoob is fixed.  As most people have multiple filters running, this shouldn't be a problem.  I turned off the two exceptions and the filter and everything is back to normal; indeed, it's a better fix than the two exceptions provided.  I've inquired as to what sort of timeframe we're looking at for the filter to be fixed... I'll let you know when I find out.

UPDATE Friday 402pm: As of right now, you need to actually press the "update" button on the Malware Domains filter.  Once you do that, the problem is fixed and you can reactivate the filter!

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January 13, 2016

I Had No Idea!

January 13th is National Rubber Duckie Day!

Any excuse to post a picture of Scooter, The Flock's First Duck (center).  He's actually around 25 years old now.  That's old for a duckie, but he's still goin' strong!

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January 11, 2016

A Starman Falls To Earth

David Bowie died of liver cancer late Sunday night, two days after he turned 69.

During a musical career that spanned nearly 50 years, he managed to change musical styles practically as often as he released albums.  From glam to funk and soul to blues to electronica to rock to new wave to industrial and back again, one never really knew what you'd be hearing when you popped in a new Bowie disc.  My first real exposure to his work came in his "new wave" period, with the 1983 album, Let's Dance

In many ways, Let's Dance is both the best and worst way to be introduced to Bowie.  It's easily his most accessible work, being unabashedly pop-flavored... and it and 1984's Tonight are rather unlike the darker, more thoughtful work he produced before and after.  Ironically, the short movie/music video for "Jazzing For Blue Jean" off Tonight earned him his only Grammy out of 10 nominations. (he was given a Lifetime Achievement Grammy in 2006).  I went into my next taste of Bowie's music thinking he was a slightly lightweight musician.

This is many things, but lightweight pop is not one of them.  David Bowie is very much like weather in the Midwest... if you don't like it, just wait a short time: it'll change.  But along with his music, the other thing that Bowie was known for was his ever-changing personae.  From Ziggy Stardust to The Thin White Duke to the Scary Goatee Guy to Elder Rock Statesman, again he changed from hither to yon constantly.  At one point in his life he gave an interview where he basically said that "David Bowie is the costume, the thing onstage is the real Me."  In his later career, after he married supermodel Imam and "settled down", he more or less stayed in the Statesman mode.  All the while, he stayed impeccably dressed.

He collaborated with artists like Queen, Mick Jagger, Nine Inch Nails, Peter Frampton, Tina Turner, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Bing Crosby.  Countless artists covered his work.  Countless fans adored him.  I am not particularly a huge fan, to be honest... I own a couple of his CDs, know many of his hits, but beyond that?  There are many others who will write more about him in the coming days, more eloquently and with more knowledge than I can.  This, I admit.  None of this denies the fact that I know that he was a true Rock Icon, and with his passing the music world is greatly diminished.  I also know that he is the musician behind one of my favorite songs of all time.

It felt like David Bowie was immortal.  We know now that wasn't true, to our sorrow.

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January 09, 2016

I Might Start Following Soccer

The Bundesliga is Germany's top-level soccer league... their version of the better known English Premiere League, I suppose.  However, they are the only league anywhere of any sort that have an official rubber duck race.  The 2015 season was the first, and the

Qualifying round from the Aquadome of Destiny.  That frog really shouldn't have been included... it's called the BunDucksLiga for a reason, after all.

The Duck Speedway also hosted the Final Round, which was a more exciting race than anything F1's given us in recent years.

I love how totally serious the announcer was, and the camerawork / on-screen graphics quality is top-notch.  Obviously the parent broadcaster must have been involved.  Mindblowing.

But wait, there's more... the next season was just announced, with a new twist!

I can't wait.

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January 06, 2016

That Was A Laugh I Needed Badly

The job has been kicking my asterisk something fierce of late.

I haven't been feeling all that swell, thanks to the weather we've been having.  I've got a nagging ache in my right index finger from when I slipped in the bathtub and jammed it into a broken towel rack trying (successfully) to keep myself from wiping out... the middle knuckle just hurts after a short time on the computer, which in my line of work is something of a Very Bad Thing. 

And then when I came home tonight, I managed to get the Duckmobile stuck in what looked like a perfectly clear parking space here at Pond Central.  Perfectly clear... except for the patch of ice that was located directly under where the front tires ended up.  Did I mention that the Duckmobile is front-wheel drive?  Needed a neighbor to give me a shove, but only after a half-hour of scraping and shoveling ALL the residual snow and ice from the spot and getting (literally) nowhere.

So what I'm saying is that I was in a murderous sort of mood when I got home.  After doing all the usual stuff I do when I first get home, I hopped online to see if there was anything funny out there.  After a while spent getting pissed off because there wasn't, I somehow stumbled across this clip.

That's some impressive vocaling right there, particularly since, y'know, t'ree a 'em ain't singin' whutall they's use'ta singin'.  And yes, the humor isn't exactly "Steve Martin in the '70s" level, but what the hell, it made me laugh.

Maybe it'll do for you, too.

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January 04, 2016

Ducks In Anime: In The Sticks

-Non Non Biyori, Ep01 ED

Over at some place or another, a conversation took place concerning "shows that were like ARIA."  The general consensus was that, other than YKK, there really aren't any shows like ARIA.  That led to me trotting out my theory that the two shows take place in the same universe, but that's not the point of this little missive right now.  One series that got a lot of support as feeling like ARIA without being anything like it was Non Non Biyori.  I'll be honest, I knew absolutely nothing about the series other than the name, so what the heck, let's give it a shot.  After watching the first two episodes, I've come to some general conclusions.

First, that's one darn handsome duck.  Second, neh, it's closer in feel to Sketchbook than to ARIA, which is no bad thing in my opinion.  Short version of story: Fifth-grader from Tokyo moves to tiny village out in the boonies, joins school that has four other students: 1st, 7th, 8th, and 9th graders.  They're all in the same classroom.  Hijinks occur languidly. 

Third, come for Renge-chan playing the recorder, stay for the scenery porn.  Everywhere you look, scenery porn.  Languid scenery porn, to be sure, but there nonetheless.  Should you watch it?  Heck, I dunno... I've only seen two episodes and it's kinda been hit-and-miss for me.  Languid scenery porn is nice and all, but something approximating a story would be useful once in a while.

Still... rubber duck in the credits.  A+ for effort.

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January 02, 2016

The Alhazred & Miskatonic Railroad

Cthulhu-choo-choo!  Or, should I say, "Cthulhu-Tcho-tcho"?

"In his station at R'lyeh, dead Cthulhu waits for passengers."

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So. 2016, Huh?

Thus far, I'm not overly impressed.  It's cold, it's windy, the food hasn't been very good and my finger hurts.  On the other hand, I went in to work today to make up some hours and there was literally nobody else in my office, and only three or four people from all offices total.  Which allowed me to sing along with my music if I so chose.  And lo, thus I chose to do!

On the gripping hand, anybody walking past my office is undoubtedly having a substantially worse 2016.

You all good?

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