Jan 10

The Last Story’s not so subtle similarities

the last story logo

The Last Story is a new RPG for the Wii by Mistwalker studio, which is headed by the very fellow who created the Final Fantasy series, Hironobu Sakaguchi.  So let’s take a cursory look at the new game:

Last = Final.  Story ≈ Fantasy. Any monkey with a thesaurus could come up with that. And as you can see, the logos are also rather similar, almost formulaic.


Additionally, rumor has it that the famous Nobuo Uematsu, who composed so many Final Fantasy games – including FFVI & the amazing Dancing Mad piece – is composing the soundtrack.  This comes as no surprise however, as he’s worked with the studio on previous titles.

One such is Lost Odyssey for the XBOX360 and just so happens to be the game I am currently entrenched in.

Will Square-Enix (or squeenix) extend its muscley legal arm towards this potentially IP infringing new game (series)?

Jan 10

Fallen Frank

When I first laid eyes on Frank, he was head down, on his hands and knees in the muddy grass. An adorable hound dog puppy bounded around him. He appeared to be looking for something. Thinking nothing of it, I prepared to jog past but as I approached, he called out to me.

Frank had slipped on the mud when the pup pulled him in an unforeseen direction. He’d fallen and was unable to get up.

Frank and his wife Julie have lived just on the outskirts of Casa Grande High (CGH) for over 40 years. He, his son and his grandson graduated from CGH and his grand daughter is on her way. When he finds out where I went to high school, he asks pointedly, “then what are you doing here?”

I don’t take offense because I understand well the historical rivalry between Petaluma High and Casa Grande. I grew up on the West side, and now I live on the East. One town, two high schools, no doubt a Classic American story. How could I betray my district?! Rather easily in fact, I never gave a shit.

I simply state that I like it here, as I grab hold of Frank’s arms to help him get up.  I maintain a somewhat reserved distance as he is a stranger. I lift, hard, only to find he really can’t help and to no avail as he goes back down. He says he weighs 220, oh, no, 210 now, and he’s too heavy for me to lift up. We negotiate that maybe, if he could make it to the fence, he could use it as a hand hold while I lift him. Frank then says, that he has leukemia, “…it’s a blood disease.  My fuckin’ arms are dead, there’s no strength left.”

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Jan 10

Apple’s new shit, the iPad

Apple has officially become predictable and trite.  Their newest product was unveiled today, by the big Apple ego, Jobs.  It is a super-sized iPhone/iPod.

big iPod

big iPod

It can’t play Flash, is tied to Apple’s various stores, intended for AT&T’s network, can’t <acronym title=”Meaning: only one application may run at any one time”>multi-task</acronym>, and its design is utterly and completely devoid of originality.  It is a “giant” [~10″] iPod touch with 3G [certain models only].  Thankfully MadTV already made fun of the name, which also screams of routine.

I’d love to see this product flop, but I hold no such delusions.  Apple’s golden age is in full effect.  Their shit is gold to a vast array of much-disposable-income consumers.  It will sell and probably pretty well.  Fact is, there isn’t anything quite like it.

My biggest complaint is that there are zero surprises.  None of that unique innovation that got Apple where it is today, is evident in this “new” device.  Do not pass go, but somehow collect $200 million dollars.  We know you’ll find a way.

Jan 10

Hot water heaters

Our house’s hot water is generated by a 30+ year old gas water heater tank, strapped to a wall in the garage and wrapped with a layer of insulation.  It’s not very efficient, but it’s nearly as good as it is going to get.   A supreme pain in arse is the pilot lite to get relit.  And it takes a long time, about 2-4 gallons of water in 30-45 seconds time, to get the shower hot in the morning.  And while we do our best to reuse that water, it’s largely an unnecessary use of resources.

To shore up these inefficiencies, we’ve been considering retrofitting the old tank with a brand spankin’ new high tech tank-less water heater.  The concept of on-demand hot water is such a cool one.  But as our cost-benefits research/analysis has shown, it’s simply not worth it.

Primarily because the current installation cost somewhere in the $1000-$1500 range.  And that’s being generous – I’m assuming slick deals can be had on the device itself and on the install going smoothly.  And while I’d like to think I could install it myself, in reality, that’s a challenge I don’t have time to take on or one to experiment with.  Not having hot water is practically impossible to live with.

So, we’re stuck with the tank.  Likely even when this one dies, we’ll just buy a new tank-style water heater.  In doing so we’ll nearly eke out the same efficiency bang we’d get with a tank-less for a lot less buck.  And certainly spend a lot less in the short term.

The interweb consensus is that tank-less water heaters are best suited to new construction, not existing homes.  Tanks may be out of style, but they’re certainly not out of time.

Jan 10

Commonalities google knows about relationships

boyfriend togirlfriend to

shocker - boys and girls care about different things

Fun idea implemented by predictably irrational, to probe google for common questions from boyfriends and girlfriends. The auto-complete dialog box below the search box shows the most commonly asked questions that fit the criteria typed in so far.

So, I took it a little more generally:

also gives some idea of age of askers

also gives some idea of age of askers

Somewhat surprisingly, swapping guys for boys and women for girls yielded essentially the same suggested query set.

Sexuality type questions top the list; are the days of asking Mom or Dad this stuff gone? Going even further, what if this means we are we raising generic kids? Ones who’s primary environment for learning about themselves is the global interweb? Not real sure this is a fun train of thought anymore.

Jan 10

An unlikely balance, egotism and genius

How important is ego to realizing success?  How successful can one be without an inflated sense of self?  Furthermore, is an overbearing personality a typical by-product of notable talent?

Talent and ego are certainly related.  Having one without the other is rare.   When someone is said to have a huge ego, it is never complimentary.  But no ego is far worse; it can mean no personality.  It means to be passed over, ignored by those either with more talent or bigger egos.

What a schmuck

What a schmuck

Ego is an important tool to achieving success.  It is the simple act of selling one’s self-perspective to others.  Some amount of ego is necessary to prove to others your ideas are valid or interesting.  It’s a fine line though, and crossing it means to become arrogant in the minds of one’s peers.  To name a few who not only step over the line, but spit on it: Simon Cowell, Steve Jobs, Kanye West, Terrel Owens (and most professional athletes for that matter).  [Semi-related, iPhone owners revealed to be materialistic, fickle, egomaniacs]
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Jan 10

Considering the usefulness of computer lights

Are computer hardware activity indicators (in the form of flashing LEDs) an antiquated level of abstraction? Notifying the user ought to be left up to the software layer, i.e. the OS.  It is the best position to relay relevant information as directed by the level of user knowledge and interest.

Modern Apple computers got rid of nearly all the external LEDs.  But they didn’t go far enough for all users, as I have oft missed the flashy hardware-is-busy indicators.  Especially when the system is loaded-down and unresponsive; wtf’s going on? Hard disk activity lights are fairly good for this; oh, it’s caching to disk-hell.  MacBook’s have none and that swirling beach ball [of death] definitely doesn’t cut it.

IBM/Lenovo machines, namely the ThinkPad line, excel at these, possibly to the point of excess.  On my X200, there are sleep, A/C, power-on, battery, hard drive, caps lock, num lock, WAN, bluetooth, wireless, SD card, and ethernet LEDs.  They can be a bit distracting.  But my main quip is that even with all the lights, there’s much to be desired in terms of system-to-user info transfer.  As a computer hardware aficionado, I need to know what my system is doing.

many green lights

many green lights

Something in the system tray would serve just as well as all these LEDs; I don’t always want to see them.  Process Explorer, for Windows, is the best I know of.  It lives in the sys-tray and is an indicator light, of sorts, for processor/system load.  That little app’s feed back in tandem with the hardware lights provides a quick overview of my machine.  process_explorer
(For Linux, top and system-monitor serve nicely.)

If the little chart isn’t peaking and the hard drive light is flashing a bunch, the bottleneck is in the I/O layer, and vice versa.  While this is a rather simple generalization, it usually serves well enough to answer the wtf’s.

All things considered I rather have em than not. Also, the blinky lights provide some nostalgic value, like being on the bridge in the enterprise. Nostalgia sorta explains why that ridiculous *bong* Mac start up sound still lives on.