Old News: January 11, 2004 to February 5, 2004

12:35 a.m. [GMT-8:00]
5 Feb. 2004 (Thu); Post #445
I just saw the new Dawn of the Dead trailer (came out Jan. 27th). Looks like it'll be pretty scary; I'll definitely go see it. But it kinda bugs me that they changed some of the basic tenets of the Dead setting. I.e., you can see the zombies running. WTF? Zombies don't run! They shamble, stagger, limp, even lumber, but they never run. The only things zombies can do quickly are fall and chew. Also, in the trailer, the rising of the Dead seems very sudden, like in a single night. Definitely not the case in the original; the 1978 movie implies the zombie phenomenon had been around for days, maybe even weeks before it became a real catastrophe for those in the cities.

Anyway, I'm not one to deprecate a movie just because it doesn't jive with previous material. Heck, I even liked the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen movie. I'd still rather see Twilight of the Dead get made before they start remaking the sequels. Well, whatever.

Oh, and my web site's down right now. Actually, all the HostPC stuff seems to be offline, even the forums and my mail server. I didn't get any advance notices, so it must be a hardware failure or a virus or something. Hopefully everything will be up and running tomorrow.

7:32 p.m. [GMT-8:00]
4 Feb. 2004 (Wed); Post #444
Holy crap, Newegg's fast! That SATA150 PCI card I ordered on the 2nd arrived this afternoon. Less than two days; that's pretty impressive.

Anyway, I installed the sucker, wrote a signature to the drive, moved the drive letters around, and formatted it in NTFS.

Also got a 2 qt. slow cooker in the mail from my grandma today. Going to try it out... make some kind of soup... Okay, that's all I had to say.

Screenshot from Disk Management.
Two hundred GB goodness.

1:07 a.m. [GMT-8:00]
4 Feb. 2004 (Wed); Post #443
Not much interesting going on. Drew started watching Full Metal Alchemist, came over today around two (I was out fixing other ppls' computers) to raid my archive (eps. 1-17, 2.87 GB). I haven't seen the last three, been kinda busy.

Haircut, from the AnandTech Forums, answered my question about converting bases in Excel (I needed an equation that could change decimal numbers into quintal, e.g. 3210 to 1125). Apparently you can add Visual Basic modules to a spreadsheet through the Tools > Macro menu. Then you can use functions from the VB modules as if they were built-in Excel functions. He even posted VB code for base conversion. Anyway, it works really well... should make some things easier for my GURPS game.

Installed Nero For some reason, wouldn't recognize the 40x12x40x burner I installed in Freya. Nero 6 is really cool though. I burned 8 CDs last night (programs, backups, anime). Since I was installing new apps, I upgraded to ObjectDock v1.0, build 285 (had been running v0.99a). Seems to be more stable and it came with some new icons. My next UI project will be getting Kk Menu v2.80 to run properly so I can get rid of the link to my Quicklaunch folder. (I wish they'd make ObjectDock so it supported multiple rows of icons. Oh well.)

This week, my favorite songs are "There Are Places I Remember" by the Beatles and "Satisfaction" by Benny Benassi. Okay, bye.

Excel screenshot.
Behold, base 10 to base 5 in a single cell!

1:36 a.m. [GMT-8:00]
2 Feb. 2004 (Mon); Post #442
Happy Groundhog Day! Well, had the Reign of Steel/Stargate game on Saturday. I think it went okay. The PCs, especially Ryan's (surprisingly), are very ethically-challenged. Id est, they have no qualms about genocide or the manipulation of primitive peoples through religion. For some reason however, they're very opposed to slavery. Go figure.

Did some Win 2K Server homework last night. The OS simulator the instructor gave me really sucks, so I'm thinking about installing the real thing on one of my spare systems.

Finally switched cases on my main system (Freya). While moving things over, I installed two more LED fans (a green and a blue), the 40x12x40x CD-R and 16x DVD drives (pulled from Chesty), and the 80 GB/8 MB cache Hitachi SATA HD. In fact I just ordered a PCI SATA controller (the Koutech PCI to SATA 150 card) on Newegg for the last one.

Read this collection of Lenore comics (#1-4) by Roman Dirge (here's his site, SpookyLand). The whole anti-cute/torture-as-comedy thing gets old pretty fast, but I still found it amusing. Dan, from Infinite Frontiers (my FLGS), recommended the Lenore trade paperbacks to me when I bought some Jhonen Vasquez stuff on Friday. I think I'll pick up the second TB next time I'm over there.

Working together, Drew, Hanwool, and I managed to figure out exactly what's been causing problems with his system. Turns out his motherboard has at least one bad RAM slot. Slot 3 works fine though. Going to do the paperwork for RMAing his mobo in a few minutes. Pinpointing the problem wasn't easy since it was intermittent (some of the later memory tests actually came back with no errors) and the Windows 2K Pro install kept giving different errors that seemed to suggest the hard drive was the culprit. Anyway, it was interesting.

Got my Best of Blümchen media package from Germany. Fortunately, the DVD isn't region-coded (though it doesn't have any English subtitles or menu options). There's some neat videos on there... I really like the one for "Bicycle Race."

New case in the light.
My new Aspire X-Dreamer II ATX mid-tower.

New case in the dark.
With the lights off. There's actually 4 LED fans in there; the camera doesn't show the internal glow very well.

5:08 p.m. [GMT-8:00]
30 Jan. 2004 (Fri); Post #441
Did a couple online tests and some homework yesterday. Fun. Drew helped me with some of the Access stuff. Downloaded a fan dub of Naruto episode 1 [14.1 kB .torrent]. I never thought voice acting was that hard, but it must be, judging by the KNS audio.

As promised, here's some info for tomorrow's GURPS game:
Nutshell description: This campaign focuses on the dozen-or-so human survivors at the Tranquility base on Luna in the Reign of Steel setting (advanced a couple hundred years; the PCs have been in cryostasis). On Earth, some infighting between the ruling AIs has taken place. Boreholes have been opened in Zone Zaire and Zone Mexico City, raising the surface temperature nearly 60° F worldwide, making human survival (more) difficult between 40° north and south. Zone Orbital has been completely cut off from Earth resources and has been surviving, just barely, on a trickle of materials from Zone Luna.

For those unfamiliar with the Reign of Steel setting, I wrote up an incomplete précis of the setting's background (it covers most everything except the last 10-year period from 2037 to 2047; it doesn't cover the evolution of the individual Zoneminds, the rise of the robots, or the end of AI unity).

Game notes: The available technology in RoS, especially the robot templates, has been modified to more closely reflect the standards used in the Transhuman Space setting. The tech level available to Tranquility is essentially TL9, but with biomods, most nanotech, brain-interface cyberwear, and advanced space travel effectively off-limits. PCs are allowed 250 points with up to -40 points in disadvantages and -5 points in quirks. Disads shouldn't be too crippling as these characters had to be able and sane enough to make it into space. Disads that represent injuries from the attacks on the American lunar base are permissible.

Most equipment will be supplied by the base; personal inventory should be limited to stuff that could fit in a 1 cubic foot locker; nothing with an LC of 3 or lower. Cyberwear is allowed, programmed allies (a la THS) are not. Characters should be built with explorer, scientist, and soldier templates in mind, but this is only a general guideline. The campaign will likely include a wide variety of alien environments, so be prepared for most anything.
So that's about all I can say right now. I'd like some things to be a surprise, or for the PCs to figure out on their own, so I can't go into too much detail about the setting. Anyone interested in understanding the history of Reign of Steel can borrow my book if they want.

Anyway, game's tomorrow at 4:00 PM. Try to have your characters done by then. If you've got any questions, call my cell.

5:42 p.m. [GMT-8:00]
26 Jan. 2004 (Mon); Post #440
Planetes #12 [17.9 kB .torrent file; Anime-Empire sub] just came out at 3:31 PM PST (GMT -8:00). Been watching Stargate SG-1. Season 5 is really good. According to Amazon, the season 6 DVDs come out on March 2nd. The Transhuman Space group changed over to a new Yahoo eGroup cuz there were a lot of problems with the old one (most of the messages were getting bounced). Ummm, that's about it.

9:30 p.m. [GMT-8:00]
25 Jan. 2004 (Sun); Post #439
On Saturday some of us played Munchkin and watched movies (Johnny Mnemonic and T3, though I wasn't very interested in the latter since I'd just seen it the week before).

Today my dad and I tarred the roof of my house. Hopefully the leak will stay fixed. Later on, we'll probably make some bigger changes to the roof to eliminate low points where water can pool. Turns out the carport addition, if you can call it that, is collapsing. Most of the bizarre plywood-patched "rafters" (yet another example of Mr. Sharky's insane method of home improvement) snapped under the weight of the snow we had.

Still reading Wetware. I'm beginning to change my mind about the book. It seems to be degenerating into sick poetry about smut and drugs. I don't know how anyone could write such depraved stuff and allow it to be published. Doesn't Rucker care what his family and students might think about him?

Hey, Bra'tac (from Stargate SG-1) is on The Practice! (Well, the same actor, anyway.) Incidentally, I just did a Google Image Search for "bra'tac" and happened across this weird page of Stargate SG-1 "chibis." Damn otaku furry freaks.

Bra'tac/Tony Amendola.

11:17 p.m. [GMT-8:00]
23 Jan. 2004 (Fri); Post #438
I assembled a nice system for my dad (14.1" LCD, Shuttle SN41G2, 256 MB DDR333, 60 GB HD, 52x CD-ROM). Turned out I accidentally ordered an 80 GB (8 MB cache) SATA HD for him, so I used one of my IDE HDs instead. Going to order a converter so I can use the drive.

Been reading Wetware. It's pretty good, but there's a lot of pointless casual drug use in the book. I think Rucker must be a real pothead. I dunno why some authors feel compelled to make that stuff so prominent in their books... Spider Robinson kinda does it too. Anyway, some of the science fiction elements in the book seem pretty unrealistic, which is odd, considering that Rucker's a professor of computer science. You'd think he would have a better grip on how stuff works. It's still a good read though, just not something I can take seriously.

Picked up the Stargate SG-1 Season 5 boxed DVD set (it came out on the 20th). For some reason, it was a lot cheaper (about 30% less) than the previous season box sets. I've now got 3 seasons of Red Dwarf downloaded (5, 6, & 7). Going to start the season 8 torrent tonight before I go to bed.

Nothing really planned for tomorrow. Ryan decided he wouldn't be GMing, I doubt Justin will be inflicting another session on us this week, and Hanwool hasn't mentioned anything about starting up any new campaigns lately. I had been thinking about trying a Warehouse 23 game again, but I don't think anyone's organized enough to have kept their characters this long. Maybe we'll just play Magic or something. A sealed deck tourney could be fun. Anyway, I dunno.

Ken didn't show up for the Credo online THS game on Thursday (he was really sick) and Nemtos was absent (some kind of schedule conflict), so we decided to cancel the game. We may be having a "make-up" game on Tuesday.

Gotta go empty the buckets from my leaking roof.

Another lame animated GIF I made.

6:41 p.m. [GMT-8:00]
18 Jan. 2004 (Sun); Post #437
I was going to watch A Beautiful Mind today, but when I tried the player kept skipping and crashing. Both discs were pretty scuffed up. So I took the DVD back to Hollywood Video to exchange it for a working copy. Of course, there weren't any copies left, so I ended up getting Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl. It was pretty good. I can understand what Ebert had said about the movie being a little longer than it needed to be. Still, it was worthwhile entertainment.

The game on Saturday was almost immediately disappointing. Turned out to be yet another zombie setting. The only new parts were a smattering of unrelated 300+ hit point monsters, one of them, inexplicably, a balrog (à la LotR:FotR), and a twenty-minute explanation at the end about how wizards had dropped the ball and allowed a portal to hell to open, thus causing the apocalypse. The campaign is probably best described as Resident Evil meets End of Days with a dash of Harry Potter hastily thrown in. I'm kicking myself for wasting time and effort making an interesting character when any cookie-cutter 150-pointer would've been enough to get me through that 8 hour torture session.

My roof's been leaking pretty badly. Fortunately, the problem is limited to a part of the house I rarely use anymore. A couple GURPS books got wet, but they dried out fairly well; nothing else has been damaged (except the carpet, which wasn't so nice in the first place anyway).

Planetes #11 came out. It's decent. They developed the Claire Rond character some. Apparently she's from this made-up South American country, Eltanica. The episode also continued the Hachimaki-Tanabe-Chenjin love triangle drama.

Made a new 404 error page for my site.

11:19 p.m. [GMT-8:00]
16 Jan. 2004 (Fri); Post #436
Watched T3: Rise of the Machines on Thursday. It was surprisingly good. I hadn't seen any of the Terminator movies except part of the end of T2; I thought they looked dumb. Anyway, it was really entertaining. A little cheesy, but in a good way. Fortunately, I knew some of the backstory from talking to Justin about the series.

Also participated in Eric Funk's Transhuman Space game Thursday. Apparently there was some miscommunication about the session date/time cuz Eric, Ilona, and I were the only ones there for a couple hours. Then I made a post on the eGroup and Nemtos and Ken showed up. We didn't get a whole lot accomplished, but at least we got through some of the informal introductions and everyone got acquainted with IRC. Basically, I met Cordova (Ilona's lepine alter ego) on an OTV to Luna. We caught a glimpse of some fighting between Japanese/EU craft and some "terrorist" controlled ship. (So far the news-nets don't seem to have any more info.) At customs and the baggage claim, we met up with Segeric (Nemtos) and Halo (Ken). Then we took a cab to the UCHW office... and that's about where it ended.

I wrote a really simple script for dice-rolling. You can download it here, if you want: script.ini [578 bytes]. Here's how to use it with mIRC (v6.12): Copy this script.ini file to your root mIRC directory (you may want to backup the script.ini file already there). Start your client, connect to your preferred IRC server. Click Tools > Scripts Editor. In the Scripts Editor window, click File > Load and select/open the new script.ini file. Some text should appear in the Script Editor. Click OK. Now, in mIRC proper, type "/remote on" without the quotes. Now the script is active. Join the channel you want your bot to work in ("/j #channel") and start a second instance of the client. Connect to your server, then join the channel. Now you can give the bot commands. Here's the commands that currently work: dicebot say hi; roll 1d; roll 2d; roll 3d. dicebot say hi makes the bot announce itself and list the commands it accepts, the rest are pretty self-explanatory. I might look some stuff up and fix the script so it can actually read more complex dice-roll cmds (e.g. "roll 3d+2," "roll 6dx5," etc.).

Tomorrow is Justin's Mystery GURPS game. I made a (IMO) really cool character. Bogani Mtshali, MD, PhD, South African biochemist-turned-rebel. Did the inventory in Excel, which I usually don't. Turns out its a lot easier since it can calculate multiple-item weights and costs and totals and keep everything in nice straight lines without complicated formatting like Word. And the printout looks the same.

Saw a link to the Mars Scorecard on Slashdot. Kinda interesting. Opportunity lands on the 25th. Saw Boston Public on FOX earlier tonight. First time I'd watched it. Was pretty entertaining.

2:04 p.m. [GMT-8:00]
13 Jan. 2004 (Tue); Post #435
This post is just a test to make sure my registrar has switched over to HostPC's DNS servers. Apparently HostPC gave me the special deal (I thought it had expired!); I now get 300 MB storage plus 8 GB/month transfer. If anyone needs hosting, I suggest you look into HostPC. The deal expires tomorrow. 300MB/8GB for only $2.09 per month.

Some pointless animated GIF I made. Annoying, huh?

2:04 p.m. [GMT-8:00]
13 Jan. 2004 (Tue); Post #435
This [1.52 MB MPEG video] has got to be one of the coolest things I've ever seen (still image below). Supposedly, it shows a failed attempt to interrupt inductive current with a 500 kilovolt three-phase switch at a California substation. Here's an interesting site about it.

Anyway. Phil Masters (author of Personnel Files and one of the writers of High Frontier) actually replied to a post of mine on the Transhuman Space Yahoo eGroup. It was a little funny cuz he corrected me on a minor point I made while using part of a character background from his book as an example (I said PF mentioned an SAI using "virtual alcohol" and he pointed out that it was actually a shadow and a ghost, though I figure I'm still technically correct because the shadow in question [Klaus Godot, PF50] is actually an SAI-7). But it's pretty cool that some of the authors of the Transhuman Space books actually hang out on the unofficial mailing list.

I picked up some cheap used DVDs at Hollywood Video yesterday; A Beautiful Mind, Terminator 3, and Death to Smoochy (didn't have a good copy cuz that guy from the Phillipines gypped me on that eBay auction). Been playing Warcraft III: TFT. Actually thinking about installing Starcraft: Broodwar (though I'd have to find my CD key). A bunch of us were talking about how fun that game used to be last weekend, got me kinda interested in it again. I was tentatively thinking about a possible GURPS Starcraft game. It wouldn't be hard to adapt some of the Transhuman Space rules to it. Obviously, the players could probably only be Terran... just get rid of any infomorph smarter than an NAI (since no robots seem to be used by the Terrans), say genetic engineering never got much above genefixing, allow a lot more cyberwear, and add a few low-powered psionic abilities (there's a few references to people having them, especially ghosts).

Personally, my favorite roleplaying setting is THS, but I don't think anyone besides me and Hanwool really "gets" it. I'd rather everyone have fun than slog through a complicated setting just because it interests me. This Saturday I think we're either doing Ryan's BESM game (sort of a teenage superheroes turned space cadets thing) or possibly Justin's secret GURPS game (he won't give any details except that it's somewhat horror-related and set in the present).

Oh yeah, and I finally found some hosting I really like! (I had some reservations about RippleHost.) HostPC has a deal for 250 MB storage plus 6 GB/month transfers for $25.00/year. That's about double what I was paying through Comic-Host, but it offers double the transfer and more than double the storage and extra features. I'm about to sign up and switch over my domain name stuff on Namecheap.

Still from the Lugo_SWR.mpeg video.

10:58 p.m. [GMT-8:00]
11 Jan. 2004 (Sun); Post #434
Oof. My hosting is about to disappear, so don't be surprised if this site goes away for a few days. Just got my $9.00 refund from Comic-Host. Will sign up with RippleHost.

I've finally finished my character for Eric Funk's online Transhuman Space game. He's a 200 point ghost (b. 1970, d. 2010, uploaded 2076... 130 years old, 64 of them spent conscious). He's got a really cool upgraded Stickman cybershell (added armor, thermographic vision, enhanced optics, toughened lenses, LCD cladding). The game will probably be at 4:00 PM (PST; most of the players are in the Central/Eastern time zones) on Tuesdays or Thursdays.

Watched Daredevil last night. Really mediocre. Definitely the worst Marvel movie I've seen so far. The only mildly entertaining character was Bullseye. Oddly enough, even though this one didn't include radioactive spiders or green guys capable of jumping miles at a time, it seemed the most implausible. I blame the script writer... everything just felt thrown together.

Ryan ran his BESM game on Saturday. It was good, but really short (~3 hours). Phill said he'd be there at like 6:00, but never showed up so we just played without him at 8:30. Anyway, our characters ended up getting six countries nuked (and Japan completely wiped from the face of the Earth). Then we faked our own execution and joined some space pirates.

Saw a really cool trailer for The Triplets of Belleville. Also downloaded some of the music. I really want to see this movie... but it's not playing anywhere around here and it looks like the English-version DVD won't be out for a long time (the French-only Zone 2 DVD comes out Jan. 14). Ebert and Roeper gave it two thumbs up.

Installed my old Radeon 7200 (64 MB DDR AGP vid card) in the Shuttle. It's still a surprisingly good video card. I'm gonna put Maya on that system so I can use it to render some pictures of the Volkspider I made (it's the most complex model I've done yet... about 200,000 polygons). Will post pics when I finish. I like how it came out, though I had intended for it to look more spindly.

Radeon 7200 in a SK41G Shuttle.
Video card in the Shuttle. Very tight fit!

Zorro and Looker.
The corgis have been inside all week cuz of the snow and cold. They sleep a lot.

"As long as you derive inner help and comfort from anything, keep it." — Mahatma Gandhi