September 2019

DanMachi 2.8


We’ve secretly replaced our usual damsel-in-distress with Folger’s CrystalsBell Cranel. Let’s see if anyone notices.

Besides Bell, that is, who faces a fate worse than death with all the grace and dignity of a fourteen-year-old boy molested by a hideous troll.

Where is the series going? The first season covered five books worth of story in 13 episodes, which despite the breakneck pace actually worked pretty well, because they had a natural stopping point. Eight episodes in, and we’re not done with book 7 yet, with both Takemikazuchi and Aisha delivering some desperately-needed exposition, plus bonus flashback-y goodness. After refreshing my memory of book 8, there’s some potential there, but they’d have to dispose of Ares pretty quickly to get to the good stuff.

…and by that I mean Lili’s shocking proposal, and Welf demonstrating that he has the biggest brass balls in all of Orario.

Books 9-12 would make a good second cour, with a much flashier finale than padding out the fox-girl reclamation project, but I’m seeing references to this being a 12-episode series, which leaves me wondering where they’re going to end it.

New game character this week is good/bad-girl Amazon Aisha. I’m just going to hang onto my Iris for a while, in hopes that some of the time-limited units I’ve already got a few bonds for will get a rerun soon. Some of the time-limited characters in the current event are interesting, but it would take thousands of Iris to even have a chance to max-limit-break the new Lunor and Asfi, and I’m not going to spend money on it.

Not that she shows up in this episode, but I confess that seeing the name “Cassandra Illion” just makes me want more episodes of The Librarians.

Unrelated, to my surprise they managed to fit quite a bit of fan-service into the “tales of Homare’s dad” episode of Sounan Desu Ka?. It seems our girls are comfortable enough in their exile to worry about washing their underwear and rubbing on sunscreen. Shame they actually spent time on Dad…

Toho Peace Ring


One of the side activities at the Retreat was labeled Peace Ring, which had a kind of hippie-drum-circle sound to it. Fortunately it wasn’t, although I found it taxing for a different reason: I’m rubbish at sewing together tiny beads.

But I gave it a shot anyway, and can proudly say that I almost managed three rows before politely giving up; well, technically I managed two rows twice, with different errors. The first problem was that the photocopied instructions were tiny and low-resolution. That was solved when someone who had the original PDF made a quick run to the hotel business office, but even the readable instructions were iffy for a novice. The second problem was the diffuse lighting in the conference room, and while my glasses allowed close focus, they lacked magnification.

It would have gone a lot more smoothly if they’d illustrated the technique with something larger than 11/0 seed beads; still tricky, but at least I’d have known what I was doing. So I made a note to dig out a bunch of cheap wooden beads and some string when I got home, to figure out the technique.

Final result:

After the jump, scaled-up pictures of the steps in the PDF:

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Labor Day…


This is not an accurate illustration of how I spent the 3-day weekend, but I did do some cleaning and laundry, and ripped out a bunch of dead bamboo.

This is not quite how I’ll be relaxing after…

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Cop Craft 7, 8, 9


I was AFK for a week, then busy at work for a week, so it’s catchup time!

Episode 7 starts off quick, with Tirana already undercover as fresh meat in an expensive brothel. I’d have liked to see the awkward fun of getting her into that situation in the first place, but the real point of the story is getting her to make friends with another of the girls, the cute short-haired elf from the OP.

From her appearance with a camera, I’d assumed she was Spunky Gal Reporter. Sadly, Friendly Whore Selling Secrets is not a trope that comes with a long lifespan. Pity; I was hoping for a little grown-up cheesecake to balance out Tirana’s lock on the lolicon market.

It ends with her determined to avenge her murdered friend, so naturally the next episode and a half are spent on Wacky Hijinks and (literally) mindless fan-service after a rogue magic item body-swaps her with the cat.

Episode 9 (after finishing off the cat/girl tale) starts off with Kei being an annoying prick to his co-workers, so, y’know, same-old-same-old, but poolside, with Tirana sporting new and more confusing headgear to go with her school swimsuit. The plot thickens, slowly, until we’re pretty sure that Villain #1 and Villain #2 are both involved. Or is it Villain #2A? Next episode.

And, yes, the headgear and the swimsuit mean precisely what you think: they’re up to book 6. You might ask what happened to all the story material in the middle. Well, better learn to read Japanese and go buy the light novels; last time I checked, all 6 were in the top 20 on Amazon Japan.

The Fuckin’ Union That Works For You…


…and by “you”, they mean “them”, suckers!

Classical Reference.

F’real shakes


During the long drive back from Mt. Hood, I stopped for gas somewhere, and found something I hadn’t seen before: a self-serve milkshake machine from F’real. You select your flavor from the freezer, load it into the machine, select your preferred thickness, and wait for it to spin up and aerate your shake. Not bad at all, but I can’t say I’d go out of my way for one. I mean, their web site says there’s one at an ExtraMile just off the highway in Gilroy, but the map shows that it’s right next door to a Sonic

Downside: it’s too slow to deliver any non-trivial volume of shakes. If there had been even one person in front of me, I might not have hung around waiting, and if there had been more, forget about it. Given that it takes up a fair amount of counter space, I suspect it’s going to be a hard sell for many gas stations and truck stops, and will quickly be replaced with something less tasty but much faster.

Isekai Overload…


Magical Terrapin Andii says:

“There is a manga series about a guy who started out as a slime in a fantasy world, died, and got reincarnated as a Japanese office worker.

“Still haven’t found ‘That time my smartphone got reincarnated as a spider farm’ but it’s probably in there.”

Having some “experience” in the field, may I offer a few suggestions that may aid your search?

That last one’s for Pete (who I’m sure has already read it…), and the full title is: “異世界で最強の杖に転生した俺が嫌がる少女をムリヤリ魔法 少女にPする!”, in which Our Hero, a magical-girl otaku, gets hit by a truck while saving a little girl, summoned to another world by a busty, scantily-clad sorceress, and reincarnated as the strongest magic wand. Annoyed that a world full of magic doesn’t have magical girls, he becomes the Producer for a busty, scantily-clad young beauty, and works to overcome her reluctance, shyness, and crippling lack of self-esteem to groom her into becoming his new world’s first true (busty, scantily-clad) magical girl.

A few small repairs…


Early yesterday morning, I got email from a server whose RAID 10 array was rebuilding. As far as I could tell, one of the SSDs had briefly gone offline, just long enough to force the controller to resync it.

Mildly disturbing. I told the team to make sure we had a cold spare ready to go, and we should prep to swap it in if we saw anything else unusual before we had a chance to schedule a maintenance window.

Early this morning, two SSDs failed in that server, and this did not include the one that blipped yesterday. That reeks of RAID controller failure, and since we didn’t have an identical one on hand with identical firmware, the best bet was moving the whole damn thing to completely different hardware (more precisely, our shiny new VMware/Tegile cluster).

Fortunately it’s only half a terabyte, backed up at least three different ways, and everything’s on a 10G network, but pretty much all of engineering is twiddling their thumbs until it’s back, so “no pressure”.

Update

Start to finish, it took about 7 hours from the time we pulled the trigger on the move. A good chunk of that was spent checksumming the data and copying back the dozen or so files that were corrupted.

Now I’m just watching the rsync backup run with “-c” to make sure the corrupted data didn’t propagate. Honestly, it would be faster to blow away the destination and do a regular rsync, but then I’d have one less mostly-valid backup for N hours. I don’t really care how long it takes to run, and doing it this way reassures any management types who ask questions later.

Pixiv Champloo 7


Server rebuilt, data verified, meal cooked and eaten, episodes of Senko-chan watched. Now loading… cheesecake!

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Got Yahoo?


Hopefully not, since their DNS servers all seem to be offline right now, taking out every site that uses them, including things like Engadget (which is the one I noticed).

Thing-A-Ma Jig drafting paper


Quick custom grid paper PDF for the popular wire-bending tool. I don’t know who let the trademark lapse, but there seem to be at least six different companies slapping their brand name on the same made-in-China product, of which the best seems to be Artistic Wire’s Deluxe Jig. I think mine was labeled “Bead Landing Thing-A-Ma Jig”, but it’s all the same thing, modulo how much they’re willing to pay the contract manufacturer to inspect for defects and ensure the accessories are included. (pro tip: if you don’t have enough little plastic pin retainers, or they don’t work as well as you’d like, cover the plate with masking tape and poke through)

(I could, of course, just buy an assortment of pegs at the hardware store and drill out any size or shape of grid with my CNC router…)

There’s a range of products from WigJig that have a wider variety of wrapping pegs, but despite the significantly higher price, they don’t say anything about the relative sturdiness of their plastic bases.

Celebrate Diversity!


…with all four food groups!

(grilling encouraged)

Dear Amazon,


Should I point out that I can buy three singles for less than the price of the two-pack?

Dear Argentina,


Can we borrow some gauchos for a few months? We’d like to deploy them into Antifa-controlled territory…

Sounan Desu Ka? episode 10


In episode 10, Shion finally discovers she’s good for something: a cliffhanger ending! On a related note, given the way they’ve handled the fan-service, I was honestly surprised that the jars full of fresh honey did not end up smeared on someone’s half-naked body, then licked off to avoid wasting food.

Surprised, and disappointed.

Smells Like Fox Spirit


Helpful Fox Senko-San is one of those series that I just didn’t manage to watch while it was airing, a failure I’ve remedied this week. Good stuff.

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DanMachi 2.9


Decision, action, revelation, action, flashback, action, cliffhanger, action, victory? Next episode: Action!

So, maybe wrap this up in 10, cover the aftermath in 11, and pull in Welf and Lili’s bits from book 8 for 12? Either that, or 10 to escalate the fight and 11 to call in the cavalry, leaving 12 for cleanup?

New character in the game this week is bad/bad-girl Amazon Samira, whose only virtue (anime or game) is her battle bikini. I’ve got plenty of AoE physical fighters, so I’m still saving my Iris.

Thought for the day…


The only difference between the KKK and Antifa is student loans.

Good Eats! The Return 3-6


Episodes 3 & 4 are much more of a return to the classic “crunchy” Good Eats sort of show than 1 & 2. I get the feeling that Alton’s been getting twitchy from not having a venue to ramble on about food geekery like xanthan gum and immersion circulators, which he’d have covered years ago if he’d had his own show.

Episode 5 is about a dish so trendy that I’ve never heard of it. Did I miss a meme somewhere, or is “shakshuka” just a food-show thing?

Episode 6 could have been titled “J’s childhood birthday cake”, something I haven’t made for myself in 20 years or so. Tempting…

Cop Craft 9.5


Spoiler: nothing happens.

Okay, they changed the OP to include English credits, covering up a bunch of the art.

And they added a new ED animation and song.

But it’s just a clip episode with a voiceover, recapping the opening story.

3D Cheesecake: Bathtime Buddies


Personally I use a pressure cooker, but the classic way to make cheesecake is with a water bath. Either way, adding water to cheesecake keeps the skin from drying out.

Adding soapy water to cheesecake only works for the kind that involves rubber duckies. Whipped cream goes well on both kinds; apply immediately before consuming.

For obvious reasons, most of this set goes behind the NSFW tag, and even the ones that aren’t are a little more suggestive than the usual bikini pics.

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Sounan Desu Ka? episode 11


Ponytail Shion is Best Shion, but Homare is still Best Girl. Especially since she finally ignored some of Dad’s advice.

Well, at least they’re consistent…


Today, the NY Times blamed inanimate objects for mass murder:

“Airplanes took aim”, huh? I look forward to their upcoming editorials demanding waiting periods and background checks for airline owners, bans on high-capacity planes that have no legitimate use, and quotes from experts showing that if you’re foolish enough to own a plane, criminals justice-involved-persons will just take it away and use it against you.

Not because they want to, you understand; because the nature of the object somehow demands it.

So, which is worse?

  • NY Times editors don’t supervise the junior interns writing their twitter feed.

  • They do.

Amazon Echo Auto


You know what I hate? Being alone in the car without a giant corporation listening to every word. Sure, I could turn on Siri, but I still haven’t forgiven her for her first failure. I’ve never even tried the G or M listeners, which means A is for Alexa!

Last Wednesday, just shy of a year after I signed up for an invitation, Amazon finally offered me the chance to give my car a voice of her own. Friday night, it arrived, and was quickly, easily set up.

Saturday morning, I spent about five minutes trying to find the correct incantation to get it to open Waze and navigate me to a friend’s house. I ended up settling for Apple Maps and looking up his street address, and only later found out that choice of navigation app is a global setting for your account, not something like “tell waze to take me to Scott’s house”.

Not a big fan of Apple Maps for in-car navigation, by the way; the colors seem off at night, and it automatically activates the matching Watch app to try to get you to look at your wrist while driving. Having walking instructions show up on my wrist is one thing, but driving? No. (and, of course, the place where I’m most likely to need walking instructions is Japan, where Apple Maps ain’t so hot)

Interestingly, one of my friends got his Echo Auto two months ago, and considers it a piece of junk, based largely on having to re-link it to his car and phone pretty much every time he tried to use it. He’s on Android, though, which may explain why the device is still invitation-only; iOS may be a moving support target, but Android is a swarm of locusts.

The biggest challenge I faced getting it working was the fact that it comes with a vent mount, and with my phone already vent-mounted, I really didn’t want to cover another vent. The results are kind of clunky at the moment, and the long-term solution may involve Velcro.

Functionality-wise, it only supports streaming; the 60+ GB of music on my phone is inaccessible, and it can’t even communicate with the phone’s iTunes app. It can link to an Apple Music account and stream from it, but that’s it. It can’t even tell an app to start playing, at least, not successfully; I managed to get it into a state where nothing would play audio via Bluetooth until I rebooted the car. Fortunately I had the audio cable hooked up as well, and the Echo successfully fell back to it.

I haven’t tried any skills or other app integrations, and haven’t tested it on a long trip or with dubious cell coverage. There are reports that it can consume quite a bit of your data plan if you use it a lot, but I don’t have any plans for a long drive until February.

Now, if I could just manage to convince Alexa to play a song without wasting 30 seconds mispronouncing the title and artist and reminding me that I’m using Amazon Music…

Pixiv: Fox-Girls


There are plenty of kitsune musume (狐娘) on Pixiv who are not 800-year-old lolicon bait. I have a few on tap…

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Epiphany…


Was watching an episode of Zombieland Saga just now, and realized that one reason people are disappointed with Cop Craft is that the OP isn’t over-the-top enough. It’s more exciting than the show they actually made, but within the bounds of plausibility. They could have made a show like the OP, and since they don’t seem to care how coherently they’re cramming six books into 12 episodes, perhaps they should have.

The fundamental problem is that Zelada is built up as the Big Bad with a connection to Kei’s past, but he’s not in books 2-5. Someone decided they needed to wrap up the story from book 1, and took a chainsaw to the other books to make them fit. This week’s clip episode suggests they’re having trouble gluing it back together.

Dear Amazon,


Unlike last time, you at least did the math to make sure I know the 6-pack’s a ripoff…

DanMachi 2.10


Cavalry! Action! No, wait, heroic rant first, then action.

Pro tip: do not piss off Ottarl. Nice touch having him show a moment of kindness for contrast.

And Bell, you really need to work on the MCSA effect for your firebolts.

Next episode? Ares.

Pleasepleaseplease finish this season off with Welf proposing to Hephaestus and Finn proposing to Lili.

Haruhime is (finally!) the new character in the game this week, and I’m pretty sure she’ll be showing up in a lot of Wargame teams. Possibly all of them, since I went ahead and spent free Iris on her 10 gacha pulls, and got enough to max-limit-break her (guaranteed 3, got 6; even if I’d had any paid Iris, I wouldn’t have needed to spend it).

9/19 Update

New Wargames started last night. A Haruhime buffed with increased counter rate is as unkillable as an old-school WOW pally. Why?

This is her standard attack, which hits all opponents and significantly debuffs them:

Akane
[Foes] Fast Mid Fire M.Attack & Str. and Mag. -40%/3 turns

This is her passive effect:

Encouragement: I
When countering, instead of attacking regularly, it (Lo) Heals an Ally. Prioritizes an Ally with lower percentage HP.

There is no limit to how many times this effect can go off in a turn. If her counter rate is buffed, she’s constantly healing the most-damaged member of her party. If you can’t one-shot her, even damage-over-time effects won’t wear her down. And guess what one of her other attacks does?

Shiika
[Self] 15% MP Heal & [Allies] Counter Rate and Penetration Rate +30%/3 turns

And if you make her assistant “[Cyan] Naza Ersuisu” (which you should, just to have a bikini hot dog with a kimono hot fox), here’s her effect at level 80:

Cyan Drop++
[Allies] 20% HP Regen & Heal and Counter Rate +10%

California, concisely…


Driving home last night, I passed a Lincoln Navigator sporting a Bernie sticker.

Dear Apple,


I wiped the disks on an old Mac Mini running Yosemite 10.10.x and went to reinstall the OS from the recovery partition. It went online and verified that the system was eligible to install this OS, asked me to agree to the license, and then failed, because Yosemite was not available.

Following the misleading and at least partially incorrect instructions on the support site, I rebooted while holding down Option-R, and got the same behavior.

So I rebooted while holding down Command-Option-R (seriously, is a fucking boot menu too usable for your designclowns? has no one ever thought about replacing the ever-expanding suite of invisible magic keystrokes with a few lines of text? or even cryptic pictures?), and it downloaded and began installing Mountain Lion (10.8.5, possibly, although I won’t find out for 3.5 hours).

So, the OS that last shipped 2 years ago isn’t available for download, but the one that last shipped 4 years ago is? And I’ll have to upgrade through 6 major releases to get it current (hopefully without multiple intermediate installs…)?

Ironically, I only really wanted to get the updated firmware and recovery partition, because the spinning disks in this box are far too slow to run Mojave, and I’m going to crack it open next week, install SSDs, and reinstall the OS again.

If the upgrades finish by next week, that is.

(all with the goal of having a machine that stays at Mojave forever to run all the 32-bit software that Apple is screwing over next month…)

Update

Well, that didn’t work. Turns out that was a 2011 Mini, which won’t run Mojave and is stuck at High Sierra. Good thing I have a 2012 Mini that already has an SSD in it…

Pixiv artist: Kemineko


For obvious reasons, Kemineko doesn’t post new work as often as the more cheesecake-oriented Pixiv artists.

Unrelated and amusing, I just got a variant on the “I hacked your account and recorded you watching porn” scam email. The content is the same, but the subject line includes emoji (🍆✊💦) and the body text is mangled with similar-looking Unicode characters (“I ίɳfected your ɗevίce”, etc). The, um, “thrust” of the message is familiar nonsense.

(sending it to an email address at a vanity domain that has never had any kind of account or password associated with it just adds ❄️ing to the 🎂)

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“War. War Never Changes…”


And by that I mean the war on users filling up file systems.

When I got into this business, it was whack-a-meg, as undergrads discovered Usenet binary newsgroups and the “zurich” ftp site at MIT, and tried to be clever about hiding their stash.

Over time, it became whack-a-gig, and largely moved from porn to work-related stupidity, such as tarball-based version control (bonus for having multiple sets of tarball, compressed tarball, and unpacked source tree), two-year-old copies of Production logs (often with an accompanying set of tarballs…), laptop backups including music and video libraries, etc, etc.

This week it’s whack-a-terabyte, as I try to figure if there’s actually a legitimate reason for the accounting share to have multiple folders that are each larger than the entire company’s 13-year source-control history…

Sounan Desu Ka? 12


In which Shion learns a new survival skill, opening up the possibility of an exciting career in the soapland industry.

“Let us never speak of this again.”

Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Alice Wndr’lnd wgah’nagl fhtagn


Proof that the stars are aligning to seal our doom is the announcement of a new Hogan’s Heroes tv series, sure to destroy my few remaining childhood memories.

Oh, Sweet Meteor Of Death,


Why Hast Thou Forsaken Us?

Anyone who thinks this is a good idea, please write on the board a thousand times:

Therapeutic Role-Play Is Not Gaming.

UPDATE!

Someone has responded with the treatment it deserves:

This is a DM-less narrative RPG. Before play commences, players need to have read and filled (anonymously) the RPG CONSENT FORM. If any items where ticked, then do not, I repeat DO NOT, play the RPG CONSENT FORM: THE FREEFORM RPG.

The object of the RPG CONSENT FORM: THE RPG is to create a romantic scene that tried to break from the normal tropes and cliches. Here is how to do this.

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“Fixed that for ya…”


I’ve made a modest revision to that “rpg consent form”…

3D cheesecake 22


“Cheesecake. Cheesecake never changes.”

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The G is for ‘game’


Spoofing that stupid “rpg consent form” helped me decide what I most dislike about it: it’s adversarial. It’s the exact opposite of friends and strangers coming together for a shared narrative fantasy experience, replacing it with an attempt to control the experience for others.

You don’t sit down with a group of friends and say, “you can’t say or do anything that bothers me, including but not limited to everything I’ve marked on this form”.

You don’t sign up for a 1920s Call Of Cthulhu game at a con and say, “you can’t discuss blood, gore, torture, police, claustrophobia, racism, sexism, kissing, hurting animals, forest fires, or thirst”.

About the only scenario where the overly-specific contents of this form could be useful is if you were a teenager who just moved to a new town and wanted to join an open game at the local hobby shop without getting eaten alive by a group of total assholes. Who would just use your answers as ammunition to make you run off in tears, so maybe not there, either.

So I inverted it.

Dear Amazon,


[this late-night blog post brought to you by a blown transformer that took out power to my neighborhood for three hours tonight…]

There’s one thing you could add to your web site that would vastly increase my shopping satisfaction: a checkbox to exclude randomly-named Chinese knockoff products with obviously phony 5-star reviews.

Here are the “brands” of the top-rated (“4 Stars & Up”, with Prime!) handheld vacuum cleaners. In order:

  1. KITHELP
  2. MOOSOO
  3. HOKEKI
  4. Onshowy
  5. Holife
  6. Homasy
  7. WELIKERA
  8. Kimitech
  9. Kimitech
  10. GOOVI
  11. Dibea
  12. NOVETE
  13. Cofuture
  14. PHYSEN
  15. MECO
  16. ONSON
  17. VacLife
  18. LOZAYI
  19. Hikeren
  20. Dibea
  21. Holife
  22. NOVETE
  23. AUELEK
  24. Aiskki
  25. Kimitech
  26. zswell
  27. EMHFLYFN
  28. TopWolf
  29. Bissell
  30. Shark
  31. Shark
  32. (16”x13” Emoticon Drawstring Backpack 12-Pack)
  33. Janker
  34. Silipower
  35. VacLife
  36. DataVac
  37. NOVETE
  38. Shark
  39. Nayamo
  40. FUJIWAY

Seriously, the first actual recognizable brand you might find in a store other than Walmart was #29! Sure, they’re pretty much all made in the same three Chinese factories with different labels and quality-control standards, but I can’t even pronounce “EMHFLYFN”, much less get support or service from them.

To add insult to injury, take a good look at “Amazon’s Choice” box for the actual most-popular, best-selling product in this category:

Cop Craft 10, DanMachi 2.11


Since last week’s clip episode gave the Cop Craft team extra time to make an exciting, coherent story… No, wait, it’s a mess. I really wasn’t expecting this series to end up at “who’s interfering in the mayoral election?​”. The chase scene wasn’t bad, but Kei finding the needle in the haystack broke up the action in a way that just sucked all the fun out. It’s possible I’ve already forgotten half of this episode. Also, blah-blah-blah-technomancy-blah-blah.

Meanwhile, DanMachi pulls an “as you know, Bob” to chop out 80% of the Ares plotline in book 8 and focus on the important things in life: Bell’s reaction to Haruhime’s panties, Hestia’s reaction to Haruhime’s attraction to Bell, Lili’s reaction to Hestia’s overreaction, Hestia’s reaction to Bell’s reaction to her “hypothetical”, and everyone’s reaction to Ares’ reaction to Ganesha’s stupidity. Followed by a literal cliffhanger ending.

This week’s new character in the game is of course Ares. I didn’t even look at his stats and skills, since as I mentioned in my update to last week’s comments, Haruhime is so OP that she utterly dominates the current Wargames, and when both sides have her counter rate buffed, the fight is like watching paint dry. She lacks the cleansing power of the 3-star Lili that carried my party for so long, but her combination of heals and buffs and debuffs is insane, and she has good AoE damage.

Seriously, if you could configure your Wargames party with a “kill the foxgirl first” button, everyone would. Her in-game powers have almost nothing to do with her book/anime power, but the net effect is pretty much the same.

KILL THE FOXGIRL FIRST!
(unless she's on your side)

UPDATE

Looks like the whales have figured out which units to combine to counter her. For those of us unwilling to spend hundreds of dollars per month on a mobile game, victory is “killing the other guy’s foxgirl first”.

The data Apple hides from you


Was looking at free disk space on my MacBook (which, since Mojave, has always been less than the sum of used+snapshots), and tripped across something new: DataVaults. TL/DR, unless you turn off System Integrity Protection in the firmware, Apple apps can create data stores that no other software can access. Not for backups, not for privacy scrubbing, not even for running a simple stat() call as root. I don’t even know why Mail.app has a secret vault, but it does, and it’s not the only one.

I do not like this.

Finally, Alita


One of the side effects of having the power go out Saturday night was checking the Amazon app on my iPad to see what I had downloaded, and suddenly remembering that I hadn’t watched Alita yet.

I have only a very vague acquaintance with the source material, and while I could see a few seams and obvious cuts, I found the result quite entertaining. In particular, the Big Eyes that seemed off-putting in early publicity shots quickly faded into the background as Just Part Of The Character, helped by the fact that no one ever called attention to it. Honestly, the only thing I disliked is that Jennifer Connelly is in desperate need of some calories. The severe look worked for the character, but oh, what has been lost.

The usual discrepancy between media reviewers (61%) and movie-watchers (91%) once again demonstrates how irrelevant they’ve become to the whole process. (not that every movie I like gets high audience ratings; I may be the only person in the world who thinks the Sam Rockwell/Anna Kendrick flick Mr. Right is a fun romp with high rewatch value)

Good Eats! The Return 7-10


Don’t ask me why the episode list on the Food Network web site is in a completely different order from how they’re actually airing. By air date, the most recent episodes are:

  • 7: Oyster poor boy sandwich
  • 8: Steak tartare and poké
  • 9: Dates (stuffed; sticky toffee pudding)
  • 10: Sourdough (cheese crackers; waffles; post-apocalypse)

All entertaining to watch, none of them things I’ll ever make.

Three more to go (one double-length) before we’re back to reruns, although there’s the promise of more revised classic episodes.

Divine Diversity


In the DanMachi universe, the economy of Orario is adventurer-driven. Not only do they protect the city (and the world), the magic stones that monsters drop are the basis of all technological advancement, and their most lucrative export. But to get magic stones, you need adventurers, and to get adventurers, you need gods to provide their blessings.

So when the gods make requests…

(from the mobile game)

The novelist came up with a pretty good way to make sense of classic fantasy RPG tropes, but while he’s fleshing that out and exploring some of the darker implications in the side series, if you really step back and look at it, the ugliness and brutality goes to the bone.

All those sweet, pretty guild advisors are sending children to their deaths every day. Not just in the sense that the gods view all their followers as “children”, but young teens and tweens, and if you look around in crowd shots, sometimes much younger. How long do they last, before it hits them that the upper levels are a meat-grinder lined with the bones of the kids they sent in?

It’s not a story I’d enjoy nearly as much as the cheerful harem comedy we got, but sometimes I think about how the world we’re not shown is seriously fucked-up.

Not from The Babylon Bee…


This just in:

Landfill Road with ‘Putrid Stench’ to Be Named After Barack Obama

The SFGate source for the story leads with the Republicans Pounce angle, of course.

Pixiv Champloo 8


A little something to stir up my Pixiv recommendations, which are a bit heavy on foxgirls after that last post.

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Weasels gotta weasel


It is indisputable that the Google Chrome updater crashed thousands of Macs, primarily those used by video production studios. FFS, the smoking gun is right there in their updater logs:

GoogleSoftwareUpdateAgent[1213/0x7fffc9d683c0] [lvl=3] -[KSLockFile(PrivateMethods) deletePathIfSymlink: except: ] Found and deleted symlink at path /var

And it logs an error message if it can’t delete /var, which means nobody in Google QA reviews log errors before saying “ship it!”.

But how did they spin it? (emphasis mine)

“a Chrome update may have shipped with a bug that damages the file system on macOS machines with System Integrity Protection (SIP) disabled”

There are reports that it has affected people who have SIP enabled, which seems to be due to them having gone through multiple OS upgrades, starting from a version that didn’t have SIP, with permissions somehow getting changed from the defaults over the years.

The reason it hit video studios so hard is that they were all running external Thunderbolt 2 GPUs to accelerate Avid, and to run the required unsigned kernel drivers, they had to turn off SIP.

“Hey, I know that voice!”


Finished watching Kanata No Astra (which really needed 18 episodes, but got 12, with 2 of them double-length), and when Ulgar’s brother got some screen time, I immediately recognized his voice as a very different character: Dennis Elbaji, from the first story arc in Cop Craft.

What didn’t hit me while watching either show was that it was the same voice actor as Kane McDougal from Mouretsu Pirates. Also Dionysus from Sword Oratoria and the DanMemo mobile game (a character who admittedly doesn’t get a lot of lines).

Kanata, of course, is another voice I hear a lot of, as Welf Crozzo. And Aries is Hestia, Yunhua is Ryu, Polina is Tsubaki (Sword Oratoria), and Ulgar was Soma (DanMachi 2).

Another interesting note: the primary scriptwriter for the series was the creator of the School Live! manga.

Sadly, fan-art of this series is pretty limited. There’s some inept porn, some awkward attempts at drawing something that resembles one of the characters, and maybe five decent pics of the girls. Nothing like, say, an extended remix of the bikini paradise scene.

The thing that makes episode 12 so unsatisfying is that they wrapped everything up by telling, not showing. Laying it out all at once as talking-heads scenes highlighted every weakness in the backstory, drawing attention to elements that frankly don’t work. Playing it out over, say, 4 more episodes would have improved the story by letting them reveal less about the universe.

Seriously, “we established a world government that abolished guns, religions, nations, languages, and the history of the world, and all of the survivors went along with it for the rest of their lives. Also, abolishing guns (except the world government’s, who never lets them fall into the wrong hands or abuses their monopoly on force), religions (nobody cares enough about those to ever, y’know, worship in secret and have their faith strengthened by persecution), nations (trivial!), and languages (even more trivial!) created lasting world peace.”

“And we all agreed to hide the secret of wormhole technology by leaving it in the hands of the company who invented it and made themselves royalty, despite the fact that they somehow let it fall into the hands of random terrorists and criminals who were responsible for accelerating the fall of Earth.”

…and that’s just the parts I noticed while they were plotsplaining. If I actually went over episode 12 and compared it with what we were shown at the start of the series, I think it would come off a hell of a lot worse. I just don’t want to, because I liked the parts leading up to that point.

If you give an Apple an app…


The publishers of the DanMemo mobile game learned an important lesson Wednesday: never update your servers until you’re sure Apple has approved the new version of your app for download. The resulting lengthy “unscheduled outage” could be painful when your business model is based on convincing people to constantly buy imaginary coins to trade in to collect imaginary toys.

Up next, a Halloween Hogwarts event:

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Dear Apple,


Oh, hell no!

Good news, Apple users! The mothership has released critical security updates this week for all platforms.

Bad news, iOS users! If your device supports iOS 13, you can’t get the update to 12.4.2, and have to accept all the new bugs and brokenness in 13.1.

iOS 12.4.2
Released September 26, 2019
Available for: iPhone 5s, iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPad Air, iPad mini 2, iPad mini 3, and iPod touch 6th generation

Impact: A remote attacker may be able to cause unexpected application termination or arbitrary code execution

iOS 13.1 and iPadOS 13.1
Released September 24, 2019
Available for: iPhone 6s and later, iPad Air 2 and later, iPad mini 4 and later, and iPod touch 7th generation

Impact: A person with physical access to an iOS device may be able to access contacts from the lock screen

The watch updates are similarly fucked.

Update

If you update your iOS devices to 13.1.1 (yes, 13.1 lasted only a few days before they figured out it sucked, too), not all of the iCloud functionality is compatible with Macs running Mojave. You must upgrade to Catalina (which hasn’t been released yet, and which is likely buggy as hell; the betas certainly were) to get everything to sync cleanly again.

9/30 Update

…and here’s iOS 13.1.2, fixing Even More Bugs. It’s almost like they knew they were inflicting buggy crap on millions of customers and didn’t care.

No, wait, it’s exactly like they inflicted buggy crap on millions of customers and didn’t care.

Dear Amazon,


I’m going to go out on a limb here and suggest they used the wrong picture for this product listing:

DanMachi 2.12


…and…done. With a post-credits scene setting up the next season, whenever that will be.

A quiet, warm finish, with Hestia having a rare moment of serious goddesshood before reverting to her wacky self.

New character in game? Peasant wench Ais. I’ve already got eight versions of her (and way too many Bells and Hestias, most of them useless), and the only one I’ve maxed out is Summer Princess, which was the first character I was able to max-limit-break, and still a reliable front-line fighter.

Haruhime is my only other maxed-out character, who more than doubled my high score in the current RecordBuster, allowing me to finally finish off the last of the Expert Adventurer missions and get a guaranteed 4-star pull (which, sadly, ended up being that asshole Hyakinthos; good for a fire team, if I were to pull him five more times and invest a lot of resources, but honestly, I’d rather sell him for Dulb).

Hey kids, comics!


He’s an orc warrior tired of rapine and slaughter.

She’s a busty knight who can’t handle emotional conflict.

They fight crime make manga!

In random isekai news, I just stumbled across the first two translated volumes of The Knight Cartoonist And Her Orc Editor on Amazon. The gimmick is that the knight’s armor frequently shatters under the stress of emotional damage, exposing the goods.

You’d think Al Gore was in town…


Potentially-historic snowstorm in progress; 60 MPH winds and 4 feet of snow to hit the northern Rocky Mountains.

Dear Amazon,


If I buy Echo Frames, Echo Buds, and an Echo Loop, and sit in a car equipped with an Echo Auto, will they all misunderstand me the same way?

More seriously, will they all fight over the Bluetooth connection to my phone, rendering their functionality non-deterministic?

Also, is it just me, or does the name “Ring Stick Up Cam” sound like something to wear in case you get mugged?

[Not buying the glasses, by the way, because I hate the way thick plastic frames look on my face. Not buying the earbuds, because I have Ankers, and they’re pretty good. Not buying the ring, because it’s huge. Not buying the smart oven, for the same reason I don’t want a gas range that has WiFi: fire bad. Also not buying the Studio, the Show, or the Glow. The Flex has potential, since it replaces the common hack of mounting a Dot on an outlet, but I won’t buy one unless you offer a trade-in on earlier-generation devices; they still work, so why buy more?]

Cop Craft 11 & 12


Episode 11: cops do cop things, shallow allegories do shallow allegorical things; Our Heroes outnumbered, a wild villain appears!

(in the final scene)

Episode 12: talk-talk, talk-talk, talk-talk, fight! voiceover, decision, and…done. Our Heroes ride off into the sunset, to adventures that will never be animated.

The mostly-straight adaptation of the first novel was good. The chainsaw-and-superglue attempt to race to book six as the finale, not so much. Honestly, they used the middle novels and the supporting cast so little and so poorly they’d have been better off jettisoning it all and focusing on Our Heroes versus Zelada.

Focus. That’s what was missing. The vampire story from book two? Interesting, but nonessential, with dangling plot threads that went nowhere. Tirana’s undercover work and cute whore girlfriend, which was apparently anime-original (replacing her going undercover as a schoolgirl and losing a completely different friend)? Some nice character development, ruined by the baffling decision to completely ignore Tirana’s justifiable thirst for revenge, start the next episode as if nothing had happened, and put her into the cat’s body for an episode and a half. And then suddenly we’re in book six, and as that story starts to unfold, they break it up with a clip episode. WTF?

The alternative, in the hands of a good team, would be to build on the source material and set up the confrontation with Zelada for a second cour. Do the cop stuff, do the wacky stuff, flesh out the supporting cast, and leave the audience demanding another 13 episodes.

So much potential, so sadly wasted. I’m not sure it even works as an ad for the novels, although the first few episodes got the whole set into the top 20 on Amazon Japan briefly. Since then, book 7, originally scheduled to come out in September, has been delayed, and doesn’t show a release date.

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