October 2012

An Offense Against All Americans

Jamie Zawinski reports, but graciously allows the offenders to escape unnamed.

Security, Convenience; pick one

In the break room just now, someone was trying out the facial-recognition security feature on his new phone. So we took a picture of his face on another phone, and held it up to the camera.

It let us in.

Best T2 drop so far

I’ve had a hard time finding an upgrade for my Engineer’s primary weapon:

Torchlight 2 Blackfang Bludgeon


So, I guess what happens in Aincrad, stays in Aincrad.

An amusingly trollish article at Sankaku Complex suggests that the end of the first arc in Sword Art Online has angered all the folks who thought they were watching a different story. Yes, it’s true, they didn’t meticulously document the leveling grind, the steady attrition of the player base, or the ruthless boss fights, and we’re all better off for it. As Kirito said, 「他人のやってるRPGを傍らから眺めるほどつまらない事はない」, “there’s nothing more boring than watching someone else play an RPG”.

In related news, desperate Democrats are imagining an Eighties-movie training montage set to the theme from Fame in which Barry the underdog overcomes all the weaknesses that got his ass kicked up between his ears in the first debate. Unfortunately for them, the real soundtrack may end up being Scandal’s Goodbye To You or Johnny Hates Jazz’ Shattered Dreams.

Kindle Paperwhite

Mine arrived today, with the leather cover. First take, I love the high-resolution front-lit screen, and the redraw is fast enough to make the touchscreen navigation workable, if still a bit pokey. My custom PDF Japanese novels look great, and page-turning performance is excellent.

It’s a bit sluggish at handling PDFs with lots of line graphics (like the JNTO tourist guides), but better than my old 3rd-gen, and the multitouch gestures work reasonably well for zooming and navigating large images, and quite well for zooming in on text.

The front-lighting is almost perfect, only becoming irregular at the very bottom of the screen, which in ordinary use is simply the status line. However, if you switch to landscape, with the default margins it can intrude into the text a bit, so a slight negative.

The wireless setup fails to correctly handle WPA2 Enterprise EAP-TTLS/PAP; it lets me set everything correctly, but my Radius logs show it still trying to use EAP-MD5. Minor nuisance, since I didn’t buy the 3G version, but I can work around it.

The worst thing I can say about it right now is that they shipped a crappy USB cable that kept losing the connection while I had it plugged into my computer. Visually it’s identical to the cable from my older Kindle, but that one fits fine, and this one is flaky.

Oh, and they added an onscreen Japanese keyboard. I’ll have to play with that later, but it seems to work.


The leather smartcover feels nice in the hand, and does the auto-on/off trick the kids are so fond of today.

However, attempting to queue up a bunch of my books for download made Kindle go boom:


A Clockwork Idol

Dear Hello!Project, I regret to inform you that the MomokoBot went a bit Westworld last night, carving a bloody path across Tokyo. She was last seen entering the H!P Wardrobe Dungeon, where we can only hope that she slaughtered every stylist in possession of a rhinestone or feather.


"Out of memory" as a generic error

After the most recent patch, Torchlight 2 refused to launch due to “out of memory” errors. It seemed related to having mods installed, since it was still playable without them. The only mod I had installed was one I created as a test (a one-liner that slightly increased magic-item drop rate in random Mapworks maps), so this didn’t affect my gameplay at all, but I was curious enough to try to debug it.

Was it a change in how it handles mods? Had they added bounds-checking to keep people from doing things like increasing the drop rate? Had they introduced a regression in their archive-file-loader, or maybe fixed an old error that third-party archivers tripped? Etc, etc, etc.

In the end, the problem was simple, yet completely unrelated to memory: I had shared the data directory, mounted it from my Mac, and copied the archive files over, convincing Windows that I had a file open. I had made my mod on the Mac, since all the current tools are Python-based, and I saw no point in either setting up a Windows Python environment or using py2exe binaries downloaded from random web forums.

The error-handler in their startup code just assumes it ran out of memory when anything goes wrong. Hopefully their debug builds are a bit more precise.

"But without the bun..."

“​…your hands would be covered in meat and cheese!”

cheeseburgers gone bad

“Okay, we’ll look into that.”

Homework matters, presidential debate edition

Um, wow.

Romney: "When the president took office, the price of gasoline here in Nassau County was about $1.86 a gallon. Now, it's $4.00 a gallon."

Obama: "Well, think about what the governor--- think about what the governor just said. He said when I took office, the price of gasoline was $1.80, $1.86. Why is that? Because the economy was on the verge of collapse, because we were about to go through the worst recession since the Great Depression, as a consequence of some of the same policies that Governor Romney's now promoting. So, it's conceivable that Governor Romney could bring down gas prices because with his policies, we might be back in that same mess."

Dear APC,

When someone plugs a serial cable into one of your commercial-grade UPS units, the correct response is not to shut the unit off, interrupting power to the expensive device that’s being protected by it.

Dear Sword Art Online production team,

If the anime concludes with the Fairy Dance arc, as it appears it will, I will be very disappointed if it doesn’t snow in the final scene.

(based on comments about how it ends and the presence of Kanae Itō in the cast…)

Dear Apple,

Apparently no one told you that cellular bandwidth isn’t free and unlimited. Perhaps they thought you already knew, what with this being the sixth major release of your phone OS.

Challenge Accepted

more below…


Pirate merchandise

Bodacious Space Pirate merchandise, that is, including a calendar and your very own 1/1300-scale Bentenmaru.

[Update: in vaguely-related news, AsoIku book 16 came out last week. I really need to catch up on these.]

Appreciating strong female characters...

…with boobie mousepads and naughty hug pillows. I confess I’m just glad that they’ve left Silica-chan out of it for now. For now.

That’s not the only Asuna merchandise available, of course; you can get figures and coffee mugs and cellphone straps and keychains and iphone cases and posters and coasters and throw pillows and t-shirts and dog tags and cosplay outfits (starter, endgame, and post-Fairy Dance) and sword and wig and tote bag and wtf is all this shit?!?.

Okay, sorry, had to get that out of my system. I wouldn’t object to the Immortal Object t-shirt, though, if it came in XXL (which, being Japan, it doesn’t).

Dear Jerry Brown,

Crawl back under your rock, you slimy little worm.

From: Jerry Brown
Subject: Let's not let Arizona bandits steal our democracy

Dear John,

In just a few days, Californians will decide whether to vote yes or no on Proposition 30. A no vote means a shortened school year, laid-off teachers, crowded classrooms, and higher tuition. A yes vote means we can avoid all those things. It seems like a no-brainer to me, yet we find ourselves in a very close race.

The problem is, there are some anti-tax zealots out there who are so rich they think they can buy this vote. They've sunk tens of millions of dollars of their personal fortunes into a shameless propaganda campaign to defeat Prop 30.

Last week, we found out something even worse. Someone's been using a phony non-profit in Arizona to funnel money from unnamed donors into our state. Under California law, you have a right to know who's spending money to influence our state's elections.

Who are these guys? Are they foreigners? That's illegal. Are they Californians using Arizona to hide from their own state's sunshine laws? Also illegal. The situation appears so suspicious that the Fair Political Practices Commission has filed a lawsuit to make them give up their names.

But that's going to take a while, and our schools need saving now.

Let's not let Arizona bandits steal our democracy.

Let's step up and meet these masked men, dollar for dollar, and keep spreading the truth about Proposition 30.

[donation URLs deleted, because these lying SOBs don't deserve another fucking dime of taxpayer money]

Yours truly,

Jerry Brown

Got whipped cream?

[Update: For those wishing to google, that’s Shizuka Nakamura 中村静香, Mai Nishida 西田麻衣, Manami Marutaka 丸高愛実, Chika Toono 遠野千夏, and Konona Shiba 柴小聖.]

“Need a clue, take a clue,
 got a clue, leave a clue”