November 30, 2011

FIghter Argument Taking Longer Than Expected

I spent 90 minutes researching one of the planes, and typing details up took another hour.  At this rate, I'll be done sometime around next July.  Yeesh.  I don't want to keep y'all in anticipation for too long, though.
While you're waiting, have a Wildcatfish!

I love that name...

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November 26, 2011

Some Thoughts About This Latest Re-Install

My graphics card still doesn't play well with HD WMVs on WMP10.  It all works on ZoomPlayer though, so it's all the same to me. 

What's a little weird is that, somewhere along the way, XP lost the drivers for my (integrated) sound card.  No surround sound, in other words, which is odd.  It's not a big deal, since the subwoofer still works perfectly well and I had a marginal surround setup anyway.

I'm now using FireFoxy 3, and... it'll take some getting used to. 

I dunno if Microsoft Security Essentials is working or not, though it says it is.  One thing that I really like about it already is that it isn't nearly as intrusive as my former antivirus program.  For as long as I've been blogging here at The Pond, it's always taken a long time for any page inside the blog to load... as long as two minutes or more for the "New Post" screen, for example.  Now?  A couple of seconds, max.  Uploading pictures takes nary any time at all, where it used to take for-frickin'-ever... which made all those picture-laden RRG! posts even more painful, if that's possible.

That's all, nothing really to report.

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November 25, 2011

The Never-Ending Re-Install II

Great googly moogly.  I started this latest reinstallation of my computer's operating system around 10am Friday morning.  Six freakin' hours later, I had finally... FINALLY... completed all the downloads, updates, installs and reboots.  Never mind such things as loading up the usual suite of programs, of which only Firefoxy is now installed.  I had to take a frickin' nap, I was so exhausted!  Or maybe it was because Thanksgiving was exhausting, one of the two.

UPDATE:  In the comments, Steven asks what the above picture is.  Would you believe it's a water tank?  It's part of the Metropolitan Area Outer Underground Discharge Channel, just outside of Kasukabe, Saitama, Japan.  Built to prevent flooding of the city during typhoons, there's also five containment silos and about 6.5km of tunnels involved.  Combined with the pumps in the 177m x 78m x 25m water tank, it can move 200 tons of water per second into the Edogawa River.  I first became aware of it from Ga-Rei Zero, where it's the location of the climactic scene of Ep01.  See the below picture from how it looked there!

...and then the Schoolgirl In Black kills everybody.
There won't be a post about the Brazilian Friday Practice because, quite honestly, it was the same as always.  If something significant had occurred I'd let you know, but other than a chance of rain sneaking in for Sunday, a sighting of Racey The Owl, and Force India going completely insane...

Force India's mascot for the race.  I should send them a rubber duckie.
...nothing really happened.  So I'm going back to finish restoring my computer to full operating status, and I'll see you all for Quals in the morning!

UPDATE: Does anybody have the uTorrent 2.2.1 installer sitting around on their hard-drive?  The version I have is 2.0.4, and it won't update... and I've heard bad things about 3.0.  Lemme know in the comments!

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November 23, 2011

Dragons Weep

When I was a young duckling of 9 or 10 years, confused and frightened by the divorce of my parents, I discovered the genre of writing known as science-fiction.  While my first book was Frank Herbert's Dune, and my favorite author Robert Heinlein (whose status remains unchanged some thirty-plus years later), the first series of books I ever read was the Pern series by Anne McCaffrey.

I don't know how I found it, to be honest.  It may have come my way via Official First Friend of The Pond Vaucaunson's Duck, which means it probably came from the library of Vauc's father, Dr John.  It may have been one of the many books I read when I visited mid-state Illinois.  It's even possible I stumbled upon it on my own.  However it occurred, I remember being utterly fascinated by the combination of ugly politics, high action, (what I now think of as shallow) characterization, and everywhere, everywhere there be dragons.  Psychic dragons. 

As a young'un, I totally loved the whole Pern universe.  I inhaled the six books in the series (Dragonflight, Dragonquest, Dragonsong, Dragonsinger, Dragondrums, and White Dragon) as fast as they came my way, then read it again.  And again, because I knew that the story was over.  Then Moreta: Dragonlady of Pern came out, and I thought I had died and gone to heaven: it was a prequel, which meant plenty of time (and stories) for more books!  I was slightly confused by Nerilka's Story, the next book, because it told the same story as Moreta, just from a different point of view... nowadays, I find that sort of thing to be very clever, perhaps an offshoot of my love for secondary characters (don't tell me what Kirk does, tell me what Redshirt #4 did).

And then, somewhere along the way, I "grew up."  Oh, I still read the Pern books when they came out, but the critic in me began to notice the fairly bland characters, the overly-simple plotting, the incredible amount of Mary-Sue-ing and on and on.  I began to think of McCaffrey's world as one for a younger Me.  I was excited to have The Masterharper of Pern come out, as it finally filled in the backstory of my favorite character of the universe, Robinton.  Then... the books kept coming, but I stopped reading.  Then they kept coming, but with Anne McCaffrey's son Todd's name on the cover, and I rolled my eyes.  Not for me, thank you very much.  I had moved on to deeper, harder science-fiction.

Today, Anne McCaffrey passed away after suffering a massive stroke.  While I haven't opened one of her titles in years, inside of me that scared nine year old mourns the loss of a very creative writer, whose books helped shaped the sci-fi reader I am today.  Thank you, Anne.

UPDATE: Friend GreyDuck has similar thoughts.

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November 20, 2011

Photojournalism Teaser

A while ago, I said I was working on a "photojournalism project."  It's taking much longer than I expected.  It's also costing more than I expected; supplies have run around $50 or so, and there's more coming... mostly batteries. 

While you wait for this massive project to be completed, I'll leave you this teaser:

No, I'm not going to give you any point of reference for it... you'll just have to either wait or figure it out for yourself.  Heh.

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November 19, 2011

Disaster Averted

As I mentioned in the comments of the post below, following what seemed to be a perfectly harmless link late last night/early this morning dropped me into a world of computer nightmare.  To whit, my computer was infectorated with some nastyuglyick.

My anti-virus program is proving to be more turnstyle than blocker, I have to admit.  To be sure, it notified me of the nastyuglyick, asked me if I wanted to block it... and then let it through anyway.  That's not the first time that particular sequence of events has occurred, either.

Oddly, this nastyuglyick didn't really seem to do anything other than do annoying crepe.  Much of that, I'm sure, is down to the wonders of Malwarebyte's Anti-Malware program, which did yeoman's work in cleaning and polishing my computer.  I've done nine passes (including three full scans and one full scan in Safe Mode) with that greatest of disinfectorators, and I've been clean for the past six.  Tack on a system restore to Thursday night, and I think a disaster has been averted.

Since last night/early this morning when the nastyuglyick first hit, there's only been one symptom... but it was a doozy, and I only just now finished fixing the last of the affected items.  Somehow, the nastyuglyick changed every file folder to "hidden" status except for one: the programs folder, and everything in it.  Every icon on the desktop was hidden as well, except for My Documents, the Recycle Bin... and My Computer.  Everything else was missing, including everything under the START button.  With the programs folder still being visible, I was able to run The King of Disinfectorators directly.  With My Computer still being visible, I was able to get into Help & Support... which gave me a link to System Restore.  And lo, it was cured.

Which doesn't mean that I trust that assumption, oh no.  There's a Windows reinstall in my near future... fortunately, it's the week o' Thanksgiving, which means the Duck U Bookstore closes early on Wednesday... and I won't have to be back until the following Tuesday!  I'm taking Monday off so I can devote my undivided attention to the last race of the F1 season on Sunday... all day, if need be.  I suspect the reinstall will be done on Black Friday, that day that all retailers love and all retail employees hate.  As I no longer work in "traditional" retail, I don't have to worry about it, and indeed for the past 7 years I've never left Pond Central at all on Black Friday... I refuse to inflict that on myself for any reason, now that I don't have to.

So, a question: anybody have personal experience with Microsoft Security Essentials?  Is it as good as the reviews suggest?  Does it work?

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November 15, 2011

Lassitude

I find I just don't have much in the way of spare spare time these days.  I'm working on a huge bit of photojournalism and playing Civ V and getting the Duck U Bookstore through inventory and playing Civ V and reading 3000 pages of fiction and playing Civ V and trying to catch up on my anime and playing Civ V and you get the picture (and playing Civ V).  Inventory was today, so that'll loosen things up a bit; I won't be coming back to Pond Central as exhaustipated as I've been. 

The fiction came as something of a surprise, as other than the Haruhi Suzumiya light novels, I've not done much "casual reading" the past few years.  What happened was that we got a shipment of remaindered books at the Bookstore, including a copy of Off Armageddon Reef by David Weber... for $3.99.  I picked it up, started reading... and kept reading.  I then picked up the next three books in the series and read those, too.  I finished the fourth book last night, so that'll loosen things up a bit.  I won't be coming back to Pond Central exhaustipated and craving another fifty-odd pages.

The photojournalism... well, you're just gonna have to wait for that one.  On the Anime front, I'm watching Fate/Zero and Ben-To as they come out, and I'm casually finishing up Yuru Yuri and iDOLM@STER from last season.  Ben-To has turned out to be the surprise hit of the Fall... a surprise to everybody but me.  From the moment I heard of the concept, I loved it. 

So I'm sorta not focused on the blogginating at the moment.  That should change soon, but unless CXT coughs up his topic from winning the last Mystery Ship contest, I'm not looking hard for anything to write about.  That's okay, Civ V is waiting...

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November 10, 2011

Just For The Record...

I gots nuthin'.  Nuthin', I tell ya.  And so I'm posting to tell youse that I've got nuthin', so youse don't come here thinkin' I got sumthin', cause I gots nuthin'.  I'll have sumthin' tomorra, and I hope to have sumthin' really swell on Saturday, but right now?  Nuthin'.  But I'm not gonna leave youse with nuthin', nuh-uh.  If I leave youse with nuthin', youse might t'ink that nuthin's all I'm ever gonna have, so here's sumthin' to keep youse from t'inkin' dat.

See, dat's sumtin' fer nuthin'.  One t'ing it ain't is nuthin' from nuthin'.  'Cause nuthin' from nuthin' leaves nuthin', and you gotta have sumthin' or you gots a song that ain't gots no melody, I wanna sing it to my friends.  Will it go round in circles?  Will it fly high like a bird up in the sky? 

See?  Nuthin'.

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November 03, 2011

Name This Mystery Ship VIII


Go ahead, name this mystery ship!  I dare you!  If anybody gets it, they get a post of their own choosing (and I'll dine upon my chapeau).

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November 01, 2011

Cloverfield

Back in 2007, the hype machine kicked into high gear for a film called Cloverfield.  It was one of those movies that I really wanted to see... while I've never been a monster movie kind of duck, this one seemed to be pretty clever.  When it was released in early 2008, however, I never had a chance to get to the theater and it came and went before I could.   It got good reviews, cleared a tidy $150million over its production costs, and was generally considered a success.  Thanks to the wonders of satellite television and a DVR, I finally got to watch it this evening.

Essentially a Godzilla film for the 21st Century, the concept was that a giant monster is attacking New York City.  The hook, however, is that the entire movie is actually "found footage," from the digital video camera of a guy amusingly named Hud (which is an acronym for "Head's Up Display").  From the initial attack in the Hudson River (just barely seen from a rooftop) to a last desperate attempt to kill it by the US military, everything we see is from the point-of-view of Hud's camera.  We see what he sees, or pointedly doesn't see.

As a result, the monster is for the most part seen only in brief glimpses, and we never see the entire creature in one shot.  This is a great conceit, one that goes a great way towards ramping up the tension of the movie.  We "ride along" with Hud as he follows three of his friends, first in an attempt to get out of Manhattan, then in a rescue run of one of their girlfriends.  Along the way, we see the Brooklyn Bridge destroyed, a battle between the US Army and the monster, people exploding from monster toxin, one tower of the Time-Warner Building leaning against the other, airstrikes, bombing runs from B-2 bombers, an oil tanker capsizing, people being eaten, self-propelled artillery pieces being stepped on, and on and on.  The special effects are excellent.  You can believe that what you're seeing was actually happening and being filmed on a handheld camera... shaky picture and all.  It's quite the wild ride to be honest.  There's a lot of things to like in Cloverfield.

Unfortunately, the characters aren't one of them.  The four main people are Rob, Lily, Marlena and Hud.  Rob's a self-absorbed jerk who drags his friends on a quixotic mission to rescue his girlfriend... who is on the opposite side of the monster from where they are.  Lily is a cipher.  Marlena is a sarcastic, annoying twit who shows one brief flicker of humanity just before she dies, and Hud is a whiny twit who's constant complaining is just grating.  Of course, he's the one who's dialogue we hear the most, mainly consisting of "Rob!  Hey, Rob!  Rob!  Oh my god!  Rob!"  To be fair, they are under a lot of stress... it's not every day a 30-story monster eats your city... and they're supposed to be normal people thrust into a decidedly not normal situation, but I think Director Matt Reeves and Director JJ Abrams went a little too far emphasizing that fact.

I realized about halfway through the movie that, while I couldn't care less what happened to the characters (unless they died... I was okay with that), I was having fun.  That's the mark of an entertaining movie... maybe not a good one, but an entertaining one.  As is, I'd give Cloverfield three and a half stars out of five, with a warning that the "shakycam" style of filming will not suit everybody's taste.  It was definitely worth the 90 minutes, though it's not likely to be a rewatch.

The real star of the film

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