I have just now suffered a third consecutive defeat in Monopoly at the hands of my Okaasan. That is not what makes it insufferable.

There are various elements listed below, each of which contributed to the insufferability of the situation.

1. The fact that, just when I finally got two monopolies and built them up, in two consecutive turns I got one house repair card and then the other.

2. The fact that, in three consecutive turns, I landed on my Okaasan's built up property.

3. The fact that in twelve turns neither my Okaasan or Otousan were anywhere near my property (they continually rolled in Jail, failed until the third try, and then ended up in jail again).

4. The fact that I feel like I should have won because I had money, lots of property, and potential.

The result is that I lost a game I should have won, and it's one of those losses that has my competitive blood screaming at me for bloodthirsty revenge. Monopoly being what it is, I will have to wait at least a day if not a week before the opportunity arises.

I should take consolation in the fact that I can no longer sit back and largely take it easy and expect to win around my host parents anymore, and that it is my tutalage that has brought this about. I don't care about my reputation as a skilled Monopoly player, nor do I care so much that I lost. What truly gets to me I think is that I had every opportunity to use vast amounts of free parking money to establish myself, I had property I could have expertly used to bolster myself. Instead, I haphazardly made serious mistakes that led to getting monopolies after both of my host parents, and thus left me behind in terms of cash flow. With most of my resources spent funding my host parents monopolies, I died.

Be forewarned anyone who seeks me out on my return. Within me is kindled the fire of my viking ancestry, which screams for the victory that slipped my fingers this night. The gears of my mind are being polished, refined, and prepared to reawaken the long dormant sectors which rested while waiting for a real Monopoly challenge to arise. They are purring and waiting for a chance to strike out and redefine what it means to trade.

I have grown too lazy, and now I have felt the sting of the apathy I succumbed to. I grew fat on the easy victories of September and October. Now, I find that I can not play the game thoughtlessly, and am ashamed I assumed I ever could.

I hearby swear that in the next game, bad luck or good, fair winds or storms, free parking or jail, there will be not on the board but the destroyed fortresses of my foes, and the shining bastions of my cause.




I like World of Warcraft. The game is fun, involved, and addicting. It's not perfect, but nothing is.

I've always been obsessed with Paladins. As a kid, I pretended to be a holy warrior cleansing the world of secret evils. As a preteen, I still loved those knights in shining armor, and anything resembling them in a game got my strict attention. As a teenager, I played Diablo 2, almost strictly as a Paladin.

And then there's WoW.

Paladins in WoW have, for a while, been significantly handicapped compared to other options. What ability they had was spread too thin, and what customization they had was too weak to make much of anything viable. I still had fun as them, not that I played for terribly long before migrating for the fall to a land in the east, despite the obvious weaknesses.

Blizzard promised to fix the problem and they'd already done a bang up job with the Warlocks (who now only suffer from one not terribly major problem), Priests, Hunters, Warriors, Druids and so on.

Now the first part of Blizzard's fix for the Paladins has started in the testing area, where any players can see a beta version of upcoming changes, and let's see what the people have to say on the matter.

And I quote:
"im gonan quit my pally if they dont fix this"
"i dont know if u noticed this but... ur 'dmg tree' 31 talent its still a buff... not even a damage one"
"will not be playing my paladin much"

Jargon aside, I would like to highlight a few things here.

I left out the long, incomprehensible single paragraph epics that have flittered across the Blizzard Paladin Forum, but I think that these quotes illustrate two points.

1. People aren't happy.
2. They are also illiterate.

The incredibly lengths to which these people have gone to decimate the English language are obscene. I by no means claim to be perfect in all my grammar and spelling. However, I at least try and think about whether or not I spelt a some words correctly. Even now the possibility of a mispelling of "illiterate" gnaws in the back of my mind.

I can put up with a certain amount of grammatical stretching on the internet. I love proper punctuation, I love proper capitalization, but I can understand that for some people typing on an instant messenger or to a forum doesn't immediately place priority on such things. However, a complete disregard for proper communication is something I can not gaze upon without my brain screaming at me in pain.

Yeah, I'm a masochist, and the internet is my tool.

Preservation of our once noble language aside, I want to get a little more in depth with "People are unhappy" assertion. People are largely complaining, and people are also largely complaining about other people, and people are also complaining back. Very few people seem content.

Most of the complaining is directed at what is being called a pathetic excuse for a patch that hasn't even been finalized yet. There isn't any change someone isn't complaining about. However a few things struck me.

A post by a Blizzard Representative in the forum stated several important facts.

1. They are not ready to reveal everything yet.
2. The minor details are listed within said post.
3. The minor details are basically the content of the current test area patch notes.

So, from the horse's mouth, we have that we do not yet have the information as to what the major changes will be.

Now Blizzard, who did a bang up job of fixing every other class with only minor bits and pieces of problems here and there, are reacted to in one of the following ways.

1. They are called liars.
2. They are called lazy.
3. They are accused of hating Paladins.
4. The person claims that they are quitting the game.
5. The person claims that Blizzard doesn't listen to a thing the players say.
6. The person cites that Blizzard is too obsessed with the special system of combat for the Paladin.

I, perchance, have also spent some time in the Warlock forum. I noticed some similarities with regards to Blizzard's work being done on fixing one final problem with the Warlocks. The reactions to Blizzard's work and posts were along these lines.

1. They are called liars.
2. They are called lazy.
3. They are accused of hating Warlocks.
4. The person claims they are quitting the game.
5. The person claims that Blizzard doesn't listen to a thing the players say.
6. The person cites that Blizzard is too obsessed with the special system of combat for the Warlock.


My own experience with WoW was spent playing the game. I was never inclined to visit the forums for any reason, because I could just be playing the game. This experience seems to be similar for most players that I meet. The average and above average player does not spend their time in the forums, but actually playing the game.

From all this, I conclude the following:

1. The vast majority of people in the forums do not spend much time playing the game.
2. The vast majority of people in the forums are not good at the game.
3. The vast majority of people in the forums will call Blizzard lazy if they say nothing, and liars if they say anything but "We gave the Paladin a spell where he summons God, and wins."
4. The vast majority of people in the forums believe that Blizzard has no grasp of the game they made.
5. The vast majority of people in the forums complain regardless of what happens.

Having played the Paladin, my opinion is that the minor details that we have are very exciting, and definately worthwhile. For minor details, it's quite a bit of goodness. Not an exceptional amount, but a good bit. If that's just the minor details, the major ones should be super awesome.

If there really are no major details, I won't be too upset either. What Paladins are getting already is pretty good, although not on par with what the other classes recieved. The only thing that will bug me is the misrepresentation of what the Paladin would be recieving. However, as Blizzard has generally shown themselves to be excellent, I'm more than willing to forgive them that. Companies have done far worse to their game than marginal improvements (I feel for the loyal players of Final Fantasy and Star Wars: Galaxies).

So, in summary, the people of the Blizzard forums are an illiterate lot who are inherently distrustful of anything a competant authority says unless it is "We're about to make your life super easy" and would complain if they won a million dollars because it wasn't two.



If you never played Perfect Dark for the N64, you could probably care less about the following. Otherwise, read on.

The Xbox360 has finally been released, although the weary at slashdot.org will likely not be through with the barrage of related articles for a month yet. With it has come something I have hoped and feared for some time.

Perfect Dark Zero.

Why am I dedicating an entire monologue to this game? Quite simply, I was enslaved by it's predecessor.

Perfect Dark was my freshman year of college. I spent many an hour blasting away my closest friend on campus. He didn't care that we were actually on the same team, he was just annoyed that I gave him his comeuppance after he blew me up.

Needless to say, I have a lot of interest in whether or not the sequel turned out well, or whether there is the potential for it to be salvaged if it didn't.

From what I hear, the gameplay is very much akin to the original. Some people bemoan the jumping (there is none) and the poor controls for beating someone down with a weapon. I'm not so concerned with how it stacks up in comparison to the dime a dozen FPSs out there or even Halo, I want to know how it compares to the original.

In my quest for information, I came across many good and bad things similar to above. However, almost all the information was tainted with either malice towards all things Halo, or malice to anything that isn't Halo. The only information that wasn't so tainted was a list of the weapons.

Perfect Dark did for weapons in FPS games something I've never seen done well elsewhere. Weapons had multiple ways to use them, and unique ways at that. Some guns could fire grenades, some guns could turn into portable sentries, most guns could be dual wielded, it was all amazing. My favorite weapons were all Maian, the Phoenix, the Callisto, and the Farsight.

While the listed secondary and even tertiary functions of the weapons in Perfect Dark Zero is impressive, I am disturbed by the weapons themselves. Quite simply, saying that "many" of the classic weapons are in the game is like saying that "many" people are still employed after a company implodes on itself.

The Falcon is there, The Laptop gun, the RCP, the CMP150, the SuperDragon, the Rocket Launcher, and the Magsec. The shotgun and the magnum are still around as well. They've all recieved interesting changes, which is good. However, the other twenty weapons from PD are MIA. Those aren't the only weapons in the game, there are a total of twenty-four. However, that in and of itself is a far note short of what PD had.

Every gun in PD managed to be unique despite the vast number of them, and while Rare appears to have done a great job of this again, there is the notable difference that there are only twenty-four weapons, a good number of which are from the original game anyway. Not that using the originals is a bad thing, but I would have expects more new weapons in addition to more of the originals.

I am terribly saddened for the most part because a great number of the truly fantastic weapons, such as the Cyclone, the Mauler, the Devastator, the Slayer, the Reaper, the Callisto, the Phoenix, and the N-Bomb, are not present in the game at all. I can understand there not being a Farsight (getting sniped out of nowhere is rather annoying) but the other weapons were not overpowered (you were just as likely to blow yourself up with a Devastator or Slayer), were really cool and unique, and most importantly fun (there was little as cool as pinning a person down with a reaper, and running madly at them when the ammo ran out).

Whether or not the fun simulant variants have returned I could not find out, and it is always possible they and other weapons are unlockable, but my sources claim the weapons lists I read were from a strategy guide, which usually covers just about everything.

Now, given that Halo 2 and Ninja Gaiden received some truly awesome additional content post release, I can see that any problems with the game can be addressed. This is something I am actually happy about, as I like the idea that if something is supremely screwed up in a game for a console, it can be fixed. This won't always be a good thing (Star Wars Galaxies is certainly a cause for concern), but I think overally it will be.

Whether or not Perfect Dark Zero will benefit from this remains to be seen. It sounds like a good game, but I fear that it will remain largely unplayed by me for some time yet, as the Xbox360 does not come out here for a month yet, and after that I will be at home before college resumes anyway. By then I should know more about whether or not the game has any of the 1337 weapons I know and love.

Worse comes to worse, the Revolution should have the original, or barring that, the N64 isn't expensive these days.


Bow to my Flammability!

I have recently come to dominate a small nation somewhere in the Pacific. It is the Holy Empire of Flammable Entities. Bow before my greatness and weep!

And so, the long road to world domination begins...

...except you can't dominate the world proper in that...

..oh well.


Shumatsu is Japanese for weekend.

This weekend several things happened. I tried calligraphy, I got to wear armor in Kendo for the first time, and I went sightseeing with my host family. Some of that you may already been aware of, but today I have some pretty pictures! Only two, as A) I want to give my family a long slide show of my experiences in Japan (an endless stream here would defeat the purpose) and B) with a limit of two per post I avoid clogging my posts and page with far too many images.

That said...

Shodo, the Japanese art of calligraphy. In a two hour lesson, I showed the "good sense" that I am often attributed when I try activities that are very Japanese. I did very well, having never had a lesson before. This is the only picture I have of my experience, as I was too busy practicing and paying attention to bug anyone for photographs more than once. However, I have a wealth of calligraphy I did to show off, which I think makes up for it.

The picture's slightly blurry, and I have others, but I'm lazy so...

It may be difficult to tell, but that is me. I got to wear Kendo armor for the first time on Saturday, and will be able to for these last four weeks of time I have in Japan. Having started Kendo at the very end of September, I have apparently made stunning progress. I had my first Kendo match, which I lost, but only one of two points were scored on me (we ended by exceeding the time limit). My opponent was surprised to learn how short a time I had been learning Kendo. I was thankful for the praise, as I couldn't hit him. He had the inherent advantage of knowing how to block.

As these four weeks begin, I have a sense of sadness and relief at the same time. I love my life here very much, it has nothing short of devastated what I now see as low expectations of how great this trip would be. However, at the same time I miss home a heck of a lot. I am a homebody to the core, and as such the people, places and things of home have been continually growing in my mind. The sense of relief is extremely slight, being more of an expectation of when I return than anything else.

Until then, I will continue my studies.


0h n03z!11

Forgive the 1337 title, I had to, really I did. Okay so I didn't, but I'm infected with the ITD (Internet Transmitted Diesease) and there's no cure. I mean, just look at this!

Can't you see the pain?

Anyway, including this one there are four entries in the blog today. First up being this general update. I've got the entries set up in order of importance, from "none whatsover" at the top to "important" on the bottom.

I've been aware that Dr. Weis, Josiaphus, and Franklin haven't made an appearances here for a long time. I couldn't fit them in the suitcases I brought with me. As such, we won't likely be hearing from them until after New Year's. However, I did find some delicious Japanese warning labels from a rather interesting website. I'll post these occaisionally (about once a week), as a Caution series.

Aside from that, I've posted some recent happenings, and a rant about the not latest Harry Potter movie.


Caution: Air Purifier

CAUTION: Air Purifiers are dangerous objects and not to be misused. Follow the above guidelines or serious injury and/or death may occur.

If you see anyone using an air purifier in any of the hazardous manners shown above, expecially if they are a ninja, keep a safe distance away from the party involved.


"Shodo" is Japanese for caligraphy, or the artistic drawing of Kanji characters. It is one of the many arts of the Samurai in Japan, and purportedly helps concentration and swordsmanship.

In continuation of my Samurai training, I spent some time yesterday learning Shodo. It was an immensely enjoyable experience, if slightly frustrating at times. My brush rarely acted in the way I wished it to, spoiling some of the work I did at inopportune moments. However, overall I did extremely well considering that I have no real experience with the art (although I appear talented in everything Samurai).

Some of the other foreign students participating have actually taken lessons. I'll admit I felt some small amount of pleasure in the fact that I did as well if not better than them. However, everyone was good overall, and I did not seek any compliments on my work (although I recieved many). The professor was especially impressed with the Kanji "Kebin" name my host father gave me.

The name "Kebin" is two kanji, Ki and Bin combined (Ki becomes Ke). They mean "Spirit" or "Heart" and "Quickly" or "With All/Great Speed". Exactly what the combination means is up in the air. It might mean I can build my spirit with incredible speed (ala Dragon Ball Z power ups! KYAAAA), quickly and with ease display great amounts of spirit, or simply mean that I am both spirited and quick. In any case, all the Japanese who see it declare it to be an incredibly good name.

Those comments have actually spawned some envy in students who have not been given Kanji names from their hosts. However, I think something is lost when you ask your hosts for one. The greatest things I have recieved from my host family have been unasked for, such as my name, my Shogi set, and my kendo practice sword (not to mention a lot of Love). If I asked for them, the magic I now associate with them would be very different.

But, back to Shodo.

If you are a perfectionist, Shodo is not calming at all. Nothing looks anything like you want it to, and when the professor creates beautiful work with ease it only compounds the problem. Trust me on this, there were a lot of frustrated perfectionists in the classroom yesterday.

If you are patient, and willing to settle with imperfection, Shodo can be an incredible experience well worth trying. There is something calming about the way the brush moves and the strokes are made when you become less focused on whether it is perfect or not and more focused on the simple act of the art. Like other Japanese arts, there is a strange feeling I find whenever I try them. It is the appreciation of simple elegance, I think, the understanding that in something as simple as a letter there can be art and beauty that makes Kendo, Shodo and most things Japanese so wonderful.

And also what makes the iPod popular here (expensive though it may be).

I'll be bringing home the work I did (all of it, good and bad), so look forward to (or dread if you like) my showing it off.

Later I shall see if, as Japanese lore says, the caligraphy will help me with my swordsmanship!

Kendo away!


With people at home raving to me about how they'll be watching the upcoming Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire movie, I decided to finally watch the third installment.

I'd been turned off from the movies because the second film had been somewhat disgraceful. Simply too little time had been spent developing the characters, expecially the exceptionally narcissistic Defense against the Dark Arts professor. I can't say it was horrid, just disgraceful.

The Prisoner of Azkaban started well, with the usual "Behold the Dursley's and their insistance on being wordly fuddy-duddies" that starts nearly every book and film. However, the warning bells should have been blaring when I noticed the first in what became a flood of very small things that deviated from the books. Harry left home without Hedwig, something I don't believe happened in the book.

It was early in the film, and I was ready to forgive. There's only so much time, and there's only so much one can do therein.

For a while yet, the movie was good, enjoyable and fun. However, little things like the Hedwig incident kept happening, and a dread of larger things being cut grew larger and larger.

I came to this movie with a clean slate. I had cast away my prejudgements, cast away any thought of this movie would be anything like the second. I sat down and I let myself be entertained. In the end, the battle of Entertainment vs Hollywood Stupidity was won by Hollywood.

Quite simply, some of what I considered to be the best and most important elements of the story were simply cut entirely, even giving rise to possible reprecussions in the next movie. The Marauder's Map is taken by Snape, but at no point does he insinuate anything about Messers Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot, and Prongs. Never does Lupin reveal the truth about the map, the shrieking shack, and the Whomping Willow. Never do we find out how Lupin knew anything about the map, how Snape, Lupin, and Sirius knew about the shrieking shack, what the purpose of Trelawney's mysterious prophey was (or that she was even remotely hackish in the first place) and worse things too.

In the books, when Harry sees Lupin for the last time, they have a discussion concerning the events of the night before. Here the greatest and most Christian message of the Harry Potter books is completely omitted. In the movie, Lupin and Harry discuss how Harry's saving of an innocent man made all the difference. In the books, the biggest and most greatest thing Harry did was not save an innocent man, but spare a guilty one. One who was clearly undeserving, unrepentant, and only concerned with his own self. Harry displayed the one trait that the terrible dementors lacked entirely, and he displayed it towards one no one else would have spared.

And this was lost.

I could go on about how the new actor for Dumbledore failed to portray the character in even the faintest similarity, how Harry's Patronus's resemblence to Prongs failed to be discussed. How vital elements of the story were replaced with an extended scene of a purple bus screaming through London. But really, none of that matters compared to the sheer travesty of changing the very nature of the story. Both the major points of forgiveness and how people live on within us are maligned for the sake of saying "Saving innocents is important!"

I think that any shred of my faith in Hollywood to produce a film based on a novel with any accuracy has been long lost. I'm looking to New Zealand from now on, and if that means I won't find out about excellent films until five years after they leave the theatres, so be it.



Kimochi is a Japanese word whose closest translation is "Good Feeling". I'm going to relate this to video games.

I'm an anti-social freakish nerd, I'll tell you, and I know full well I am. I've had a lot of very bad experiences with group projects, group video games, and group field trips. I've had incredible single player gaming experiences. Still, I will admit something that is true.

Playing with people can be heaven.

Immediately notable is the "can" in that statement of fact. What I am saying in one sentence is "The gaming experience can be augmented by the additional of other living persons such that its enjoyability increases to undetailable levels, or such that it loses all semblence of entertainment." In english, people make games either more fun or terrible.

I've had far too many experiences playing online where people suck. Not suck in the sense that they are bad at the game, that is forgivable. Everyone sucked in that fashion at some point. The kind of suck I am talking about is the suck of cheating, laziness, and general apathy that makes playing with people extremely frustrating.

This is especially true of my years playing the real life sport of soccer. Many of the teams I played on, I was the single player on the team who felt that properly playing the game meant I had to work hard and sweat. My teammates had some weird notion in their head that they didn't need to run around to play soccer, or that they could singlehandedly take on the other team of eleven people. It's a team sport of a reason, and they didn't get it.

So, it is very true that playing any game with people can suck, very much so. However, often the opposite can be true.

Some of the best gaming I've done came in the form of the Halo 2 sessions that started at my college after its release and continued every friday from evening to the late, late hours of the night. Twelve, sometimes sixteen people all together in their battle for flags, frags, and fun. That was good.

But there is good, and there is "kimochi".

I'll begin with the anti-kimochi, the worst gaming experience possible as related to people. This is when playing with people results in such an unenjoyable experience that it crushes our spirit and wish to play anything for a time. There was a game I played with my brother and some random online people where this happened. After my first death in this game, I prepared to start fresh and fight anew. Unfortunately, while the game allowed for this, the other players wouldn't have it. Whatever I did, I could barely erect the most basic structure of my base before I was utterly crushed by my foes' unhindered forces. They didn't adhere to the, "Don't hit a man while he's down" rule. They not only hit me, they had a DDR party on my bloated corpse. I've never even spoken the true name of the game since.

When "kimochi" happens, it is a feeling that is unparalled in any other experience I've had. Whether in competing against people, with people or both, the feeling acquired is simply magical. It's pure excitement and joy poured into you without want or care. It is simply, kimochi.

I've only had a few experiences of kimochi in my life, but they were simply incredible.

The first kimochi I ever experienced was in a old MUD named FreeMUD. It was free, it had a small userbase, and it was kimochi. I played it with my brother, my sister, and people I didn't know. It was always a good feeling to play, it was always great to roleplay with other people, and it was the best MMORPG-like experience I've ever had. But, like all good things, it ended when the MUD disappeared as it was moving to a new server, and I never found it again. That feeling became the ideal of group activity that little has ever lived up to or even partially obtained.

Another significant instance was my first experience of two person, one cart play in Mario Kart: Double Dash with my brother-in-law. I don't think I've ever felt that in sync with a person before. Even when we messed up, it was still awesome. Everything was fun, everything was awesome, and it was all because I wasn't playing alone. The experience is one that I do not easily forget.

There have been other cases, but the point has been made. Kimochi is a great thing to achieve in anything.

The unfortunate situation of life now is that it is increasingly difficult to achieve online. Years ago, even after the days of FreeMUD, the number of people who we'll call "losers" in the world of online games were very few. There weren't people cussing out other people simply because there was a chat function, there weren't people going crazy and intentionally killing their own team, it was a safe place to play games because everyone knew the goals and did their best to accomplish them. This doesn't mean there was always kimochi, as people will often do what they deem best as an individual, but it wasn't an impossible dream.

Such is not the case today. While World of Warcraft has been a very good experience for me, and so has been playing Counter-Strike online, I've inevitably found that there are always people who lack the fundamental understanding that the point of playing in a group competition game is to support your own group and defeat the enemy. The sad state of things in WoW is such that players in "The Alliance" (team 1) will stand around and do nothing while one of their own is battling and being killed by one of "The Horde" (team 2) who snuck up on them and attacked them out of the blue. The real life equivalent is someone is being murdered in the streets, and people (instead of either trying to help or running away screaming) watch the event as though it was a pair of pidgeons fighting each other over a prime spot for picking up bread crumbs. In Counter-Strike, some places will ban you outright for simply making a mistake, not to mention hackers. Kimochi is technically possible, but it had become the impossible dream it once wasn't.

All kimochi has left in the world of games are groups of people, like the Halo 2 sessions I adored, getting together in the real world and playing. Until the anonymity of the internet no longer makes people assume they can cheat and do whatever they want, kimochi will not be easily found there.


The Root of the Problem

So there's this thing, a computer thing, a Sony thing, a nasty thing called the Rootkit.

Now this thing has a noble purpose. It's supposed to prevent the spread of illegal mp3s. That's just fine, but this thing has some interesting ends to this means.

This thing installs itself from a Sony music CD loaded into a PC CD-ROM. It doesn't ask, it just does. It does its job, this thing, rather indiscriminately. So much so that it can crash your computer hard. It will do everything in its power to prevent you from burning CDs, or ripping if it isn't positive your CD is legitimate.

This thing also phones home. It sends a little message to Sony, making sure the CD you're using is unique. There isn't much to the message, just a simple request for some data from Sony so this thing knows what to do. But, when two computers communicate like that, information gets out. IP addresses, MAC addresses, connection type, and given the nature of the communication, the CD you purchased, all these are easily known.

This thing also hides, oh how it hides. It hides so well hackers now use it to hide their malicious programs so that nice programs like Norton don't know, so that they can cheat in online games, so that they can do what they want.

This thing, this "Rootkit", doesn't sound so noble now does it?

The worst part, this thing is everywhere.

Nice thing ain't it?

Prose aside, Sony's Rootkit they couples with a lot of recent music CDs has been a hot topic because of how it both violates personal freedom in the name of DRM, how it acts just like a trojan, and how it can be easily by hackers to hide programs they use to cheat in online games (such as WoW).

If you haven't bought any recent Sony CDs in the past month, you should be fine. Otherwise, you should probably find out whether it's on your computer, and what you can do about it. Sony certainly hasn't been the kindest company in the world in terms of dealing with the growing rumblings this has caused, and still hasn't provided a decent way of either detecting or removing it.

Ughification at its best.


The following is the result of never once deleting a single e-mail I recieved on my college address. It was never important to me, I always told other people to use my preferred address if they wanted a timely response, and the interface was always blah.

While in Japan, I've had to check it regularly because the school's policy is to send everything from emails of 0 importance to "If you don't read this in 12 seconds you will die" importance. Sometime between yesterday and today, a limit was finally imposed on how much of the crap they bombard me with I can just leave lying around.

This is what happened.

This wasn't from gigantic files, this was from thousands of random messages often having absolutely nothing to do with me. Why in the name of anyone was I getting messages directed at seniors as a freshmen? Why did requests for college girls get sent to me? Heck, why did I get e-mails specifically directed at art majors when I am a computer science geek?

In any case, I just spent a lot of what would have been useful time clearing out six hundred and forty megabytes of e-mail I never wanted in the first place. Being only able to view 200 e-mails at one time and instantly being reset back to the first page after doing anything aside from clicking "display next" is rather stupid.

I'm back down to the point where I can send and recieve e-mail from that address, not that I even intend on using it much. However, it is my only lifeline to the administration of Messiah College, and however crappy it is I need it.

Still, it's rather distressing to one day be able to freely recieve important e-mails detailing such important aspects of my life such as where I might be living come Spring, and the next day have to delete thousands of e-mails via an inefficient and frustrating interface in order to do what was carefree the day before.

I'll be extremely glad when I can leave behind Novell and its e-mail webclient forever.


Blue Sparks

The basic summary of this post is this: If you ever played a video game and had fun, the Nintendo DS is for you.

Because the ultimate goal of this is to make people as excited about the DS as I am, I've been trying to edit out as much boredom as possible from the rant. Unless you don't play video games at all, I sincerely hope you give my words a shot.

C:\Rants\Nintendo\DS>run DSFanboy.EXE

I've had my Nintendo DS for a couple of months now. I had a bunch of reasons for purchasing it, but all of them really faded away into the greater whole of the truth of the DS. The small, unassuming electronic device is fun.

In these, the early days of the DS, I've already found two entirely excellent games in the form of Ouendan and Jump Superstars, and that's restricting myself to Japan-Only titles. Entire generations of a console will find me only truly impressed by one or two of the titles availible, so realize the weight of that.

On top of that, if not one of you people or anyone else I know picks up a DS, I can still find people to play. For $30 I can by a device the size of my thumb which plugs into my PC and allows my DS to wirelessly access my computer and through it the internet to play other people. The service is free, and if I already had a wireless router I wouldn't even have to pay the initial $30. This is only for select DS titles, but oh what titles they are.

Mario Kart DS will be one such title, and I've heard nothing but good about it. Take everything good about Mario Kart: Double Dash (minus two people in one cart), everything good from Mario Kart 64, and everything good from Super Mario Kart, and throw in you and eight friends. That's the kind of insane fun the DS offers, and cheap.

Better yet, not all of you would have to own a copy of the game or even most games, as the DS's download play comes with most games, allowing one person to share the joy to other people nearby.

If you're scared of technology, or even slightly confused by it, you don't need to fear. The DS is exceptionally easy to use. Even the internet play mentioned before is as easy as throwing a CD in you computer, letting it install, plugging in the thumb sized device and hitting one button on your DS. After the first time, it simplifies further down to the last two steps.

Quite simply, the DS is simple to use, fun, cheap (comparatively), has great quality and low priced games, doesn't require you to spend a fortune on batteries (it's rechargable), has a long battery life, and is one robust piece of equipment.

Admittedly, you and eight other people buying a $130 DS each is not cheap, and if you aren't a serious hardcore nut like myself, you can probably survive not having the latest and greatest in video gaming. However, if you are even thinking of buying a console, even one from this generation that is coming to a close, consider the following.

On top of the initial cost of the console, you need to buy games, controllers and memory cards. Controllers easily cost between twenty and thirty dollars, and good games (even including used games) between $20 and $60 dollars. Even if you get a used PS2 or Gamecube for $50, you still need to spend at least $15 four times over for controllers, $20 for the smallest memory card, and $20 for a game. That's $150 right there, and that's for the last generation (and being very generous towards prices being cheap). For the new generation, you're plopping down $300-$400 (the Revolution might be $200) for the initial console, $35 per controller (up to seven in the case of the PS3), and $50-$70 for a game. That's $600 for a fully equipped Xbox 360 with four controllers and a single game. You can buy four DSs for that price, one copy of Mario Kart DS (and even another game) and you, your wife, your brother-in-law, and your kid can all race wildly around a fun world of Turtle Shells, Mushrooms and burning rubber. If the family of four next door did likewise, you can all play together.

To sum it all up, the DS rocks. If you play video games, you should have one. It may not have Bloodthirsty Killer 2006, but it has style, it has fun, and that is ultimately what is most important.

Execution Finished



I'm a geek.

And I just became completely obsessed with geeky T-shirts.

Maybe I'm selling out to the corperate machine, maybe I'm proving that people like myself who claim to be different from everyone else are all really the same, or maybe I'm just a geek. In any case, I now really want to expand my geeky T-Shirt collection beyond one neato Zelda Shirt, a special Metroid Prime 2 preorder shirt, a super Excitebike shirt (one of 500 in the world mind you) and one pixelized Atari shirt (which needs to be hand cleaned of pen stains).

In any case, partly for my own purposes, partly to help people who might want to buy me christmas presents (although I would probably nudge most of the people who read this blog to save their money), but mostly to show everyone here just how geeky I am.

Let the linking begin.

NOTE: These have been edited slightly. I made an addition, but mostly I grouped them into categories for the sake of priority. Some of these are harder to come by than others, and as such I'm taking a few matters into my own hands and grabbing what I can find of the rare ones.

Easy as Pie:
SQL Query
+20 Shirt of Smiting
RPG - Choose Wisely
The Code
It's True
Emergency Exit
I'm on Fire!
Jesus Saves
Ressurect Now?
Not Found

Classically Trained

Rare/Ultra Difficult to Find:
Olde School (Kevin Found! Check!)
Eat Me!
Home Schooled

Lotsa fun eh?

For anyone wondering, including myself, M or L works for size.

That's a lot to try and get, costing in total something on the order of $200 in total. Unfortunately, I must first acquire new shoes, and perhaps a new backpack, before I can think of purchasing any.

Sadness I know.


All Growed Up

1up.com has a funny comparison of the Dreamcast and the upcoming Xbox 360. If you're not aware of what either are, then don't bother. However, if you are aware that the Dreamcast was SEGA's final console which, while decent, failed to make them money and was scrapped so that they could avoid bankruptcy and continue on as a software company, and that the Xbox 360 is Microsoft's upcoming console which is arriving under both a lot of hype and skepticism, the enjoy the read.

In any case, I read a comment which said a few things of interest. It basically noted that these days gamers seem a little more imperviously to hype, and that they're more aware of what is actually decent and what is fluff. I responded as to why preconceptions such as "kiddie" (which Nintendo's Gamecube got stuck with) and "bulky" (the original Xbox) are no longer important.

If you are lazy, here's the summary. The people who actively play games, "gamers", have already made up their minds on which console they will get and the amount of change in who will buy what per dollar spent on marketing is so small that Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo will only market to them enough so that there is no perception that any mistake has been made on their part. The focus of all three is on the casual player, because that's where expansion, and a lot of cash, lie.

Now for my comments in full.

"Quite simply, the kids who thought they were too good for a kiddy console have now at last reached a level of maturity where having Pikachu in something does not automatically sell it. They now hate and despise the rat, and the only consoles where you can beat the crap out of the bugger and his pals are Nintendo's.

Basically, as it stands the well informed crowd, "gamers", are pretty aware that the hype surrounding all the players may not be what it cracks up to be. We know that Microsoft will pour money upon the Xbox 360 win, lose, or draw. We know Nintendo will make some incredible games for its controller even if everyone else either botches their attempts or doesn't bother, and we know Sony will ride on the popularity of the PS2. Everything else is hype, speculation, or insanity.

However, it is the casual crowd, the people who watch MTV, the people who still play nothing but Tetris, the people playing the Sims, the people who play the cheesy games on their cells phones and generally the people who are scared of using anything beyond Internet Explorer, Word, and Outlook Express on their PC that are the target of the three companies.

Sony, Nintendo, and Microsoft all know that the casual game player doesn't read Slashdot, doesn't hear the word of mouth, and doesn't have any preconceptions about one system over another. Each is targeting these untapped fountain of cash with their crosshairs. Sony plans on using their tech hype and previous popularity, Microsoft is using a jump start on the competition and MTV (casual players are not going to buy more than one system), Nintendo is simply targeting everyone under the sun with a controller people will look at and not be as afraid of as the calculator on Windows.

All the speculation we have here is from a crowd who, for the most part, know what's going on. Biases included, we know more than Joe Somebody on the street when it comes to this. We've already decided which system we'll be getting, and nothing save from a miracle or a tragic mistake is going to change our minds. As such, the big three are only focusing on avoiding blundering with people like us, and and working to get the casual people into the game.

We laugh at the Halo 3 comparison, because we know all the sweeter, juicier FPSs there are. The casual crowd doesn't, they know Halo. Don't underestimate the casual players, they outnumber us, and they more than anyone else will be the determining factor in who comes out on top this coming generation, whether you measure success in marketshare, profit or both."


Racial Stuff

Nope, not Racism, World of WarCraft races.

Before I dive into this, I'll note that today is a another three set of posts. Don't miss them.

Blizzard announced their expansion to WoW at Blizzcon, and there have been mixed reactions. A lot of people decry the addition of Blood Elves to the Horde as silly, and simply a misguided attempt to filter over people wanting "pretty" races to the Horde to balance the sides a bit. Some people are concerned about the increase in levels. And still others are upset that no new classes will be added. Still, the biggest issue of all is that while the Blood Elves were announced for the Horde, less than peep was said about the Alliance.

All sorts of theories rage around, but all of them discount the possibility of what I would consider the best possible one. The Pandaarans.

Quite simply, I doesn't surprise me that people discount them as possible. When the possibility arose with the addition of the Pandaaran Brewmaster in the WarCraft 3 expansion could get the game banned in China (the Brewmaster was in Japanese Samurai armor, something that would undoubtedly offend the Red Nation), it became clear to Blizzard fans that Pandas are a serious matter to the Chinese. As such, the likelyhood that they would let an entire race of them abound in a video game is unlikely.

Blizzard has too much at stake in China to ditch the Chinese and appeal to only Western audiences. While there are three million players in the west, a record set by Blizzard for any MMORPG here in the States, there are one and a half million in China. Cutting off one third of your customer base is a silly idea. Additionally, the largest MMORPG in China reached fifteen million players. WoW is expected to reach at least ten million. China is, quite simply, crucial.

My personal theory as to why mum was the word about the Alliance race is not the typical cry of "Blizzard simply has no idea who it will be." with the implication being there aren't any feasible races left in Azeroth, but "Blizzard has no idea who it will be." in that they want to give us Pandaarans, but they want to make sure China won't ban them for it. They'll certainly have a backup race planned, but they're trying their best to get Pandaarans, and they simply don't want to disappoint people by announcing anything they can't produce.

So, I will still hope for Pandaarans, even if it seems unlikely.

Phantom Menace

Star Craft: Ghost has been in production for a very long time. It was originally due out in 2003, and we are now fast approaching 2006. It was originally going to be on the Xbox, PS2 and Gamecube, the last of which was recently dropped. While those of us who are Blizzard fanboys have simply come to expect this of Blizzard's titles, this isn't exactly a good thing.

On the PC, the only thing that changes with time is the average system specs people have. Old computers become obselete, obselete computers become paper weights, and new computers are moved in. If you simply aim ahead sufficiently, you'll be able to make a great looking game that fits most people's specs.

Blizzard has done a very good job on their games thusfar in this way. Warcraft 3 was beautiful when it came out, and to a large extent still is. WoW is definately pretty, and with recent retoolings to allow for better texture loading in graphic intensive areas, I'm looking forwards to tweaking the graphics settings when I get back.

However, the beauty of consoles is that they are all the same, roughly. Minor changes are made over time, but in essence all Gamecubes are created equally. Nailing bugs is easier because you do not need to account for hundreds of different system setups. This does lead to what we call console generations, where one generation's hardware become obselete, and so a new one is made.

Because of this, there is really a very small window for making a game on a particular console. With production times between two and four years, many games simply don't get a sequel until the next generation comes around.

When Blizzard announced Ghost, the consoles were still new. Halo was in its early days, the biggest game on the PS2 was the original GTA, and the Gamecube was chock full of Wind Waker preorders. Now, the Xbox 360 is coming out in the next month, with more consoles on the way in the next year.

Blizzard now faces the problem that if they don't release Ghost at the current release date (early spring), they are going to find themselves in a very tricky predicament. While there will certainly be lots of people who still have PS2s and Xboxes, their thunder will be stolen. They are already in some small measure of trouble in that with the current release date that is already partly true. Pushing it back any further simply means publishing a game which might be overlooked because it isn't in line with the latest generation.

Obviously Blizzard isn't stupid, 4.5 Million WoW subscribers says so. It also says Blizzard has enough money to do whatever is necessary with Ghost.

The Gamecube has been cut because online and LAN play are becoming key components to the game, and the Gamecube doesn't have a good user base for that. A lot of people don't buy this explanation at all. The PS2 is similarly poorly equipped in that field, if only slightly better. The only console that is really good for online and LAN play is the Xbox. Why drop the Gamecube?

Basically, the current theory is that the Xbox is ready for it, the PS2 has a large user base, and the Gamecube has neither. So, it gets dropped.

However, an alternative possibility struck me. There may be the possibility that the Revolution might get a port of Ghost, given that Nintendo is fully committed to online activity with the console. However, I think that until the Xbox and PS2 versions come out, we won't hear about it. The last thing Blizzard would want to do is say, "We've got versions for the old consoles, but you can always wait and get it on this new one!" It would kill the Xbox and PS2 sales of the game.

Given that Blizzard has said they are still interested in making games for Nintendo, I don't think my idea is too far fetched.

In any case, I'm likely to watch the price of Xboxes on ebay closely as the release of the Xbox 360 comes and goes. While not a fan of Microsoft, I like Halo 2, I love Ninja Gaiden (with a cheap special edition out, I'm frothing at the mouth), and adding Ghost to that makes three games, and that's (finally) enough reason to get one. If it's cheap that is.

Four Day Weekends Ahoy!

Various news to report.

Firstly, I just registered for my last semester of college's classes, and submitted my "I'm graduating" form. My class schedule, quite simply, rocks the world.

J-Term: UNIX Administration Every Morning.

Spring Term:
Monday: Self Defense 7PM-9PM
Tuesday: Seminar, Islam and Sociology.
Wednesday: Nothing.
Thursday: Seminar, Islam and Sociology.
Friday: Nothing.

Basically, aside from learning how to defend myself from random attackers, I have a four day weekend every weekend, with an additional resting day in the middle of the week! ROCK THAT!

Also, with only a total of 13 credits, and only 10 of which will be in the larger Spring Term, I should have lots of free time...

...which will likely get eaten up trying to find a job, and working on my Senior Project. However, with five days a week free, I can easily allocate two to actual schoolwork, and three to Project/job.

Fun, eh?

Other news of interest is tomorrow I'm having a party with some Kendo club members after practice. There's going to be great food (apparently my Okaasan is going all out, which is scary considering how delicious her barely trying food is), great people and Monopoly of course.

Speaking of which, I recently retook my crown from my Otousan, who forgot that perhaps not being under the influence had helped his victory before and drank a lot before the game.

All in all, tis a happy time.