Fun

Fake it ’til you make it


How a realist hero plans for a second cour

“Just keep throwing balls in the air and promise that you’ll catch them later, and you can end the season with lots of talking and limited animation.”

(…but still no real fan-art, so Fubuki’s resemblance to the loli mystic wolf will have to do)

Next stop, January, in which the princess of freshly-conquered Amadonia will finally show her true power and resolve.

Yeah, she’s joining the harem, and as a princess, she gets to be senior wife #2, with Juna and Aisha joining the second tier. #5 should be the last, though, if they make it all the way to the coronation and mass wedding.

What fresh Hell is th… oh, wait

The new Doctor Who showrunner, to replace Chibnall after he painted the series into a very tiny woke corner, is… Russell T. Davies.

The buried lede is that the BBC is ceding at least partial control to a new production partner, Bad Wolf, owned by two of Davies’ allies during his first run of the show.

Fingers crossed for a Bobby-Ewing-steps-out-of-the-shower retcon of the Mary-Sue Who “revelations”.

Search strings I’d never use…

The “add-an-inch tool”. 😁

Speaking of Mellow Mail…

Pretty much the last thing they managed to do was release a CDROM slideshow/screensaver app for Windows, containing 846 of their catalog pictures at a whopping resolution of 420x280 (uncompressed BMP).

Why, yes, I do have a copy…

Win a date with our cover girl!


Delay of Slime

The reason they’re not just going into season 3 of Salaryman Slime Demon Lord is that they’re adapting from the manga version, which is currently way behind the light novels. So in addition to the movie, I imagine they’ll do something with the other spinoff series that overlaps with the main story.

Cheating on Amazon

“It’s not that I don’t like you, it’s just that, well, you’re too nice a guy, I guess. I think I’d rather go out with someone more, uh, unpredictable.”

(classical reference)

I recently:

  • bought a laptop directly from HP (in fairness, it’s a custom config)

  • bought a lens from B&H Photo

Both of these should arrive in two weeks, the laptop because it isn’t out yet, and the lens because B&H is closed for Succos (although Amazon quoted me the same delivery date for in-stock-Prime-shipped-by-Amazon, so…).

Yes, it hasn’t been that long since I said I wasn’t going to do either of those things this year, due to the uncertanties of the Bidenhandler regime’s tax-and-tax-and-vax-and-spend plans. Well, I think we can call those certainties now, but at the same time, my first big batch of RSUs just vested, which is going to make my taxes more complicated anyway, and neither item is at the high end of pricing in their respective categories.

I’ve already mentioned the laptop, but the lens is the Sony 100mm f/2.8 STF GM OSS LOL AFK BRB ROFLMAO WTFBBQ. This is the updated version of the “bokeh cannon” lens, specifically designed to produce the creamiest out-of-focus areas in both foreground and background. Like the old Minolta A-mount lens, the special filter reduces the light transmission to effectively f/5.6 (“T/5.6”), while still having the depth-of-field of an f/2.8 lens when used wide open. Unlike the old one, it’s a bit shorter (100mm vs 135mm), and not only has autofocus, but also in-lens image stabilization.

Until I also buy a full-frame body, it will effectively be a 150mm lens, which would be really tight for portraits (but extremely flattering), but it should be awesome for picking out details and reducing clutter in vacation pictures. (and if the trip ends up Covid-pushed off to Spring, then I’ll definitely buy the A7S III body by then, and its incredible low-light performance will overcome the T/5.6 limitation for use inside temples, castles, amd museums)

And, yes, I hate using the English term “bokeh”, because it is emphatically not the Japanese word for the quality of out-of-focus areas in a photograph; also the abuse of “prime lens” to mean “non-zoom lens”, but no one outside of an optics textbook gets that one right.

What if they opened a porn shop and nobody came?

Mandarake, the otaku-goods chain that opens half a dozen different specialty shops near each other rather than one catchall, added an adult-oriented one in Nakano Broadway. Apparently their neighbors complained, and it was at least temporarily shut down. It looks like their focus was vintage and modern porn that flirted with the boundaries of what’s currently legal, or at least that’s what they were allegedly shut down for.

(if Jahy-sama can’t make a living as a waitress, she has a real future in adult films)

Speaking of porn…

I should call Carmen and see if this offer is still good!

File that under “things you find when cleaning out a closet and going through boxes that haven’t been opened in more than 20 years” (in this case, probably more than 30; I don’t think Mellow Mail and Night Classics lasted very far into the Nineties, and they were still using photos in their catalogs that were shot in the late Eighties).

Mellow Mail was a light-and-fun fashion/lingerie catalog in the “sell things to men who try to get their girlfriends to wear them” genre, and they added Night Classics for naughtier stuff and toys as the competition got, um, stiff. Fun fact: their headquarters was down the street from the Sunnyvale Fry’s Electronics, although Carmen and the other gals did their modeling work in Chicago and LA.

Paging Rorschach!

So a careful investigation of real-estate-listing photos of the bedroom of the alleged girlfriend-killer eagerly being sought by police revealed that he… owned a copy of Watchmen. Damn, I hope they never search my house and find my copies of Those Annoying Post Bros

Although, honestly, that wouldn’t even make the top-10 list of Problematic Things Found At J’s House…

Know your beastgirls!


What are they teaching kids today?!?

Everyone who tried to identify the character in this animated GIF of Lili from DanMachi thought she was Raphtalia from Shield Hero.

…which just makes me want to locate/commission fan-art of the two of them together…

(technically Lili only transforms herself into a beastgirl to hide from the enemies acquired when she was a bad girl, but since her power allows her to assume anyone’s appearance as long as they’re the right size, she could transform into pre-growth-spurt Raphtalia, which would appeal to a certain class of doujin artist…)

Dear HP,

When you offer someone the opportunity to create an account as the last step after placing an online order, it would be useful to link that order to the new account. Especially since you also ask them to join a “club” that gives points for how much they’ve spent online…

Cross your fingers, I bought the new Pavilion Aero 13, fully tricked out, which will supposedly ship next Friday with Windows 11. I think I’m going to name it Beelzebub:

Another note to HP: unlike pretty much every other online computer store in the world, you do not provide links with more detail about the customization options when creating an order. Seriously, if I want to know which warranty option to buy, I have to google each one and hope I end up at the right page (spoiler: it took several tries, and I’m still not entirely sure, because it looks like the most comprehensive option is also the cheapest). Ditto for all the accessories.

…and one more for your copy editors: when promoting as a feature that your laptop has a “flicker-free display” (whose doesn’t?), this sentence doesn’t mean what you think it does:

“Enjoy a more comfortable and clearer view, without flickering and reduced eye strain”

iOS 15 enters public beta!

You might think that the past few months of pre-releases were the beta, but you’d be wrong, unpaid QA person.

Slime Wars, “soon to be a major motion picture!”

Clayman insisted that they’d only end this season over his dead body, so, y’know, that happened. In the first few minutes, then pad pad pad pad (continuity) pad pad happy-crowd-shot.

Movie just announced for 2022.

Dear Pizza Hut,

When you start putting ads in heavy rotation on Reddit featuring your new “Detroit-style” pizza, you should probably geotarget it to places that still have a Pizza Hut. Covid killed the one in my town about a year ago.

Dear Amazon,

The “religion & spirituality” tile on my recommendations page currently consists of:

  • 2 Clifford Simak novels
  • 4 Christopher Stasheff novels
  • 1 boxed set of 4 Dave Duncan novels
  • a book on how to meet up with god, buddha, and allah, which sounds like a party I’m willing to miss
  • a book on becoming superconscious and activating your magic, which makes the previous one sound almost plausible
  • a how-to book on bushido
  • an introduction to Viking myth and religion
  • The Epic of Gilgamesh
  • a textbook on the religious foundations of Japanese culture
  • a book containing two essays by 13th-century Japanese Buddhist monks

The self-help tile continues to promote Everyday Life with Monster Girls. Which is actually starting to sound like a good idea, after a year and a half of Covid-induced isolation.

Dear Anchor Hocking,

A pitcher has one (1) job: pour liquids without dripping. Given that you know how to make glass measuring cups that don’t drip, why can’t you transfer this knowledge to your restaurant-style mini pitchers.

In fairness, nobody else seems to know how to do this, either. Pity we couldn’t find the really good ones we used in Kyoto at the restaurant supply store they sent us to. I found something pretty close online, but the shipping costs were murderous.

(and, yes, I refuse to try out brands on Amazon with names like “NCnnwovf” and “BCnmviku”, which have somehow escaped the recent purge of pumped-with-obviously-fake-reviews Chinese Marketplace dealers)

(pitcher, watering can, close enough)

Hexhex!


How Realistically Can They Wrap This Show Up In Time?, #12

If this isn’t heading directly into a second cour, the next episode is either going to spend 30 seconds baffling viewers with a summary of each dangling plot element, or ignore the lot of them and just as-you-know-bob the aftermath. They at least briefly showed one of the battles that Team Hero won without significant effort, then moved on to Urban Pacification Through The Power Of Song.

(the Witch of the Highlands says, “my show has fan-art!”)

Random hex strings

If you have Bash 4.1 or newer (Mac users, get it with Homebrew), you can do it this way, without any forking around:

nibbles=32
export LC_ALL=C
read -r -N 1024 hex < /dev/random
hex=${hex//[^0-9A-F]}
echo ${hex:0:$nibbles}

Old-school, and a bit slower:

nibbles=32
export LC_ALL=C
head -c 1024 /dev/random | tr -dc 0-9A-F | cut -c1-$nibbles

Much, much faster, especially in bulk:

count=1000
nibbles=32
openssl rand -hex $(( $nibbles / 2 * $count )) |
    fold -w $nibbles | tr a-f A-F

The LC_ALL=C line is necessary because all the old reliable byte-based tools have been updated to handle multi-byte character encodings. Which means they barf on things that don’t encode correctly, like /dev/random. And, yeah, if I’d wanted to go really old-school, I’d have used dd instead of head -c.

(Lain is not impressed by shell scripts)

Dear Amazon,

Categorizing an adorable kitten as “dog supplies” is just mean.

Your daily reminder that Twitter is garbage

Promoted tweet:

…and so is the Bidenhandler administration

Yes, they’ve finally admitted that our-best-and-brightest drone-murdered an ally and his children to divert attention from their bungling in Afghanistan.

Unicorn chaser: practical applications of kumihimo

I wish to upbraid her…

Meat don't fail me now!


Komi Can’t Stream

…unless you subscribe to Netflix.

Also, two-week delay after it airs in Japan? What is this, the stone age?

I can haz Boar’s Head

Turns out there’s an independent grocery store south of town that has the full line of Boar’s Head meats, Star Market. They close a lot earlier than Safeway and Nob Hill, but my work-from-home hours are sufficiently flexible that that’s a lot better than driving to Del Rey Oaks.

Dear Amazon,

My “everyday essentials” recommendations include both 30TB and 60TB Ultrium data cartridges, 8TB NVMe SSDs, and cables with connectors I don’t even recognize. Are you sure you haven’t confused me with a high-end 4K/8K video producer? I mean, seriously, the most advanced technology I’ve bought from you in the past three months was a new Yubikey.

Cosplay by Azami

The young lady responsible for the Gawr Gura naughty cosplay photos has Patreon and Twitter accounts.

Quality is job 10...


…right behind Security.

Kicked Out Of A Restaurant To Another Komi

In a bit over two weeks, the new season of anime begins. I expect to watch Restaurant To Another World 2 and Komi Can’t Communicate, and idly attempt to watch Overpowered Pharmacist And His Busty Girlfriend.

(the Queen of Chupacabra is unrelated)

Or maybe all these “Aria” series that Funi picked up…

Starting September 21st.

(Misty’s a big fan, obviously…)

Meanwhile, in Slimeville

Everyone effortlessly wins their part of the battle, leaving plenty of time for random exposition and the most-telegraphed plot twists of the season. Next episode: finally effortlessly killing Clayman. Unless they try to drag it out again.

(Little Miss Fan-service is definitely related, and happy to stop pretending)

I voted, in person

Sadly, almost no one else is doing so, so they have no way to find out if someone already voted in their name before they mailed in their ballot. Assuming they even lived at the address the ballot was mailed to, were planning to vote, made sure it actually arrived, and dropped it off at a secure location.

If the recall seems to be succeeding, expect them to suddenly “find” a few overlooked boxes of mail-in ballots a few days from now.

Interesting note: I received three completely different sets of text-message spam (some more than once) telling me I should vote “yes” on the recall. Two of them asked me to vote for specific candidates to replace him, but the other just wanted him gone. Nobody texted asking me to save the little shit. Nevertheless, the media is predicting he’ll survive.

Update all the iThings!

MacOS? PDF files executing arbitrary code. iPhones, iPads, iWatches, and MacOS? GIFs in iMessage executing arbitrary code.

Bonus: because Apple recently locked my iCloud account again and I hadn’t bothered to fix it yet, it was unable to try to change my account settings after the updates. It sounded a bit butthurt about that. 😁

Not all good, though; post-upgrade, it failed to notice that it was plugged in, and when I left it running overnight to do a post-upgrade backup, it got halfway through and then hibernated. And the way Time Machine works, it takes a lot longer to run a backup after one fails (especially on a network volume where it’s stored as a file system image that needs to be fsck’d).

(this seems to be a Thunderbolt power-negotiation issue between the MacBook Air and my Anker dock; I think during boot, the firmware security refuses to trust the dock, preventing it from successfully negotiating power delivery, so you have to either power-cycle the dock or unplug it from the Mac briefly)

TIL…

…that you can use Stasis on those korok acorn-archery puzzles in BotW.

Also that you can do the diving puzzles by jumping off an ice block.

And, yes, switching my muscle memory back from Fenyx’s controls was painful, but I wanted to try the ice-block trick after seeing it mentioned somewhere; those puzzles can be tricky to do “as intended”. BotW rewards creative problem-solving, and rarely drops you into bottomless pits.

Should have done BRIAN BLESSED!

The voice acting for Typhon in Fenyx really sounds like the actor was instructed to mimic Andre The Giant in the castle assault scene from The Princess Bride.

Buy/Don’t Buy

I’ve had a semi-annual bonus burning a hole in my pocket for two weeks now, and… nothing I really want to spend it on. That is, I want a Sony A7S III and one or three premium lenses, but it’s out of stock everywhere due to the chip shortages, and it’s not like I’m going anywhere interesting to take pictures of. Ditto for a new Windows laptop (to kiss Apple goodbye, and not on the mouth), for both reasons. And I want a new car, but it’s not like I’m going anywhere, period. And, yes, chip shortages hitting that market hard, too.

And I want a new range and hood, and a new oven/microwave/convection combo, but everything I’ve liked is out of stock until at least November, for a variety of reasons.

I’ve even thought about upgrading my nearly-20-year-old elliptical crosstrainer, but the Precor model that looks most interesting isn’t coming out until the end of September. Unless there are, say, ongoing chip shortages or something.

At least I can thank James Hoffmann’s youtube channel for convincing me that the one thing I don’t want to do is buy a real espresso machine and matching grinder. Even if I had the spare counter space, it’s just too fussy of a hobby for me, and a lot of what the modern “third wave” enthusiasts seek out are “coffee that doesn’t taste like coffee”.

Count on Twitter to promote utter drivel

Erotic Hololive Cosplay

Gawr Gura Edition (NSFW! Disable Javascript!). Just to, y’know, cleanse the palate after that last one.

I think the model is really cute, and I’d like to see her without the cosplay. In both the “as herself” and “just take it off” meanings of those words. 😁

Fight fiercely, Fenyx...


How A Realist Hero Handwaves Major Battles, episode #whatever

“We outsmarted them and won. On to the next one!”

(there is still basically no fan-art for this show, so you can have your cake and bunny-girl too)

The hardest boss in Fenyx

Bottomless pits.

A typical vault (puzzle dungeon) experience involves figuring out how to get a few different styles of movable boxes and balls onto the right switches without running into lasers or fireballs, steering an arrow through a torch and then around a few corners, and in between, making precise jumps from platform to platform. You can almost always get replacement objects if you muff a throw or carry, and you’ve got unlimited arrows, but almost all platforms are over bottomless pits, with zero tolerance for imprecise button combos.

This honestly looks like someone watched a demo of Breath of the Wild, took a few notes, and handed them off to a team to implement, with a short deadline. There is very little variety in puzzle themes, and checkpoints are spaced so that you will have to repeat multiple sequences of actions to get back to where you just failed. My latest ragequit was after successfully dodging multiple lasers and swinging fireballs while riding a moving platform, only to discover that my platform was about to vanish into a wall, and I needed to determine without any clues which way to jump off and glide around in a precise path before inevitably falling into a bottomless pit.

You could not see this from the start point of the moving platform. You have to fail it at least once, and then repeat the entire sequence of dodges in the hope that there’s a checkpoint where you land. You can’t manually save in the middle or leave and come back, except for a few specific plot-related vaults.

Outdoor puzzles can be just as annoying, though only a few of them punish you with bottomless pits. Last night I spent twenty minutes unlocking a button that gated access to a sliding-tile puzzle, which requires steering two arrows around corners and then sprinting through a building while going around and jumping over lasers, and the time alloted has zero tolerance for errors. Miss one of the shots? Clip a corner while turning around the laser walls? Accidentally double-jump while sprinting? Do It Again, Stupid.

All this because there are only about 4 kinds of outdoor puzzle, and the 2x2 sliding-tile variety are trivial to solve unless you lard them up with some other restriction.

Oh, and when I said I was pretty sure I could shoot myself in the back with steerable arrows? It’s much sillier than that: you can shoot yourself in the face. I use them for scouting now. Whenever I find a puzzle that’s solved by lighting a brazier with an arrow, I stand next to it (unless the puzzle requires standing on a specific button), send the arrow off to find a source of fire, then steer it back to me.

(why am I still playing? Because as soon as I stop, I’ll completely forget the control mappings, and since the main game has no replay value, I might as well get my money’s worth now)

Next time I’ll gripe about the ham-fisted character models and animation (literally; even the goddess Aphrodite has giant man-hands). And maybe about the extremely repetitive arrow-to-the-knee NPC comments at random intervals, especially from the Dread Pirate Typhon.

Fenyx needs better fizzycs...


The Last American President

Trump showed up today. Biden’s pre-recorded announcement could not be reached for comment.

No iBrator for you!

(classical reference)

Apple warns that iPhones should not be attached to motorcycles, because the vibration will damage the camera’s image-stabilization and autofocus. Well, that rules out my idea of having Thanko and Tenga collaborate on a new USB-powered phone accessory.

(Jahy-sama is unrelated, unless she’s managed to make enough money to afford some toys; no idea, I never made it through the second episode, even after three tries)

No Blackfriday after Friday!

I’ve switched the Hugo config that generates this site to use the new Goldmark Markdown processor, with its comically-bad “typographer” extension disabled. It took a while to diff 4,000+ blog entries after running my script to hardcode the smart quotes in the source files (source control is your only friend), and while I think I managed to catch all the small breakages it introduced, I wouldn’t be surprised to find some from the MovableType days that look a little funny and need cleanup.

I will not be offended if someone says, “hey, this old page looks like crap now”. I did a lot of hand-formatting workarounds in the old days. 😁

Neighborhood Noise Pollution

The summer continues to be cool and damp, and there aren’t any fires near me, so I’d love to have all the windows open. Except that every afternoon, someone at a nearby house is running a continuous mix of loud music, old enough for me to know the songs, and just loud enough that I can recognize them by the distorted reflections off of every house in between.

During my last meeting of the day Friday, it was what sounded like an extended remix of Rapper’s Delight. Either that, or they just put it on repeat.

…and then came The Eye of the Tiger, so muffled and distorted it took a full minute to recognize…

The Neverending Tutorial

The Switch version of Immortals Fenyx Rising is 60% off for a few days, so I picked it up. It eventually becomes a more-or-less open-world adventure, with terrible voice acting and a mandatory online account so they can push microtransactions. Mostly cosmetic stuff, it looks like, but still a bit intrusive.

There’s a free demo, which is basically a side quest where you get to play with all the powers you’ll eventually unlock. The tutorial in the full game, though, lasts several hours, leaving you wondering just when they’re going to let you off the rails. Even when they do, you often get ambushed by cutscenes to remind you which rail you should be on.

Gameplay is fine, although the controls are awkward and oddly mapped. My least-favorite is the way double-jumping tends to turn into a triple jump, which will send you into the pits of Tartarus (literally; Hell is a platformer). It feels very much like a surface-level clone of the Breath of the Wild gameplay, with bad voice acting, single-solution do-it-again-stupid puzzles, and arcade action replacing depth, immersion, versatility, and replayability.

For instance, I’m currently picking off monsters from extreme distance with arrows that can be steered around corners and obstacles, with the only range limits being my character’s stamina and the game’s draw distance. I haven’t tried shooting myself in the back of the head yet, but I’m pretty sure I could:

🎶 🎶 🎶
Watch out here comes my arrow,
it flies superfast,
and kills everyone.
Watch out here comes my arrow,
Legolas sucks,
and Yondu is the one.
🎶 🎶 🎶

(hey, she’s got an arrow, that’s related!)

File under baffling the fact that they automatically populate your world map with other people’s screenshots, complete with a like button. I’d be a lot happier if they’d made the map more useful as a map; quest navigation is cluttered and confusing. And had a button to say “always play this single-player game offline, dammit”.

Also, in an inverse of the usual console-to-PC porting fail, the menus are navigated with a cursor that does not snap to the buttons, which is incredibly clumsy on a console controller. And while sometimes you need to just press on a menu option, other times you need to press and hooooooold.

I would have been unhappy if I’d paid anything close to full price for it.

(Genshin Impact’s Ganyu is unrelated, and cuter than Fenyx)

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