2008 Aug 31 elly-miang

Guy Blade Guy Blade---02:58:00

Temporary Controller
I found a temporary controller until my regular one returns.

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2008 Aug 29 celes

Guy Blade Guy Blade---04:10:00

Marginal Stability
So, I began playing my first 360 game a few days ago. I chose to start with Eternal Sonata because I hadn't played a Japanese style RPG since Xenosaga III. Playing this game, I discovered that the analog stick on the controller that I had gotten with my 360 was somewhat marginal. Although it did what an analog stich was supposed to--move the character as it was moved--it also exhibited behavior that it should not--moving the character when it was not moved. It seems that approximately 20% of the time, the controller will pull to the left at the lowest registerable setting after it has been used.

This behavior is unacceptable due to Eternal Sonata's gameplay mechanics. The game uses a turn based combat system wherein you have a limited amount of "action time" and "tactical time" each turn. Action time is consumed by moving, attacking, using magic and using items. Once party level two is reached, action time is consumed continuously from when you first take an action in a turn. To prevent you from having zero time to prepare when a turn begins, the game gives you tactical time. This time is consumed before you begin moving and allows you to plan out your turn. Unfortunately, when the controller is constantly pulling to the side, it means that your turn begin and you begin inching to the side. This destroys any tactical time you may have and begins eating away at the action time. Needless to say, this is one condition where blaming death on a controller may in fact be justified.

I called the 360 support line and they, after some idiotic "troubleshooting", agreed to replace the controller. Microsoft, in their infinite wisdom, does not cross ship on repairs so I'll not have a controller for the next "5 to 10" business days. I expect about a 90% chance that I will thus purchase another controller and MS will get my money for a second controller despite the fact that the defective device was theirs.

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2008 Aug 26 elly-miang

Guy Blade Guy Blade---16:30:00

So I ended up beating Heavenly Sword on Sunday. The game itself was as short as people claimed it to be: the whole thing took less than 10 real hours to beat which included various breaks to do things like eating dinner and watching the Venture Brothers. The game itself has pretty solid mechanics, not as good as DMC4, but I wouldn't expect them to be at the same level as Capcom given the number of iterations that Capcom has had to refine the system.

Where the game really shines, however, is in its writing. The main villain has some lines which are just brilliant especially about the "pollution of his royal genitals" and other such topics. The game is worth playing merely for the banter between the villain and his generals. Of course, the game also has the good-natured psychopath who also gets such great lines as "maybe I'll hit your weak point for MASSIVE DAMAGE" while pointing a crossbow at an enemy's crotch.

I recommend the game without reservation.

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2008 Aug 25 peach

Guy Blade Guy Blade---04:32:00

Greece Warrior
So earlier today, I beat Devil May Cry 4. This is notable because DMC4 represents the 300th game that I've beaten, at least according to my list. A brief analysis of my list shows that I've beaten 33 games since I graduated from college.

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2008 Aug 24 harle

Guy Blade Guy Blade---11:38:00

After Before
So, I had never particularly thought about how a prequel should end itself. Having finished Crisis Core, I must say that the correct way it to say "to be continued in [name of thing that we're prequelling]".

Overall the game way pretty good. Unfortunately, the optional sidequesting led to the strange occurrance whereby I defeated all of the final bosses forms without being hit once. Zero damage. I would say that I was probably over-leveled for the encounter (level 73), plus it probably didn't help that I had maxed out my strength. Plot-wise, however, it actually makes Final Fantasy VII make a hell of a lot more sense. Cloud's backstory vis-a-vis Zack was always quite muddled, probably due to the fact that Cloud's memory of events involving Zack were also represented as muddled. This led, however, to a problem of the backstory really missing a cohesive line that was "canonical" in some sense.

In a realted note, Aeris dies. If you were unaware of this, too bad. Final Fantasy VII is 11 years old.

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2008 Aug 22 namine

Guy Blade Guy Blade---11:09:00

Idiotic Requirements
So, for reasons that I have yet to understand, all of the major delivery companies allow shippers to require a signature for delivery. I am at a loss as to why any shipper levies this requirement as, at least in my own case, such requirements lead to nothing but irritation. Deliveries are generally carried out during the hours that I am at work, who do they expect to sign in such a case? Such requirements may have made sense more than a decade ago when getting a package delivered may have been a more rare occurance, but such requirements make less and less sense as the ease of online ordering has made shipping high-value items commonplace.

This particular rant is directed at DHL--Dell's shipper. DHL was the one responsible for ensuring the prompt arrival of my 360. On Tuesday, they attempted to deliver and left a note asking me to sign. I signed and the next day the left another note with the option to sign marked out in excessively repeated strikethrus. I found this excessively annoying. I have found through discussions with FedEx on similar issues that the solution to this problem is to leave a handwritten note asking the deliveryman to let the package be released without signature. Thus, I am left to wonder, was my first signature for such a release insufficient? Why is the handwritten note acceptable when the standard form is not? Why offer the sign and leave form if you do not intend to accept it? Why does anyone ship something to a residential address and require a signature?

In a completely unrelated issue, I recommend The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya.

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2008 Aug 19 harle

Guy Blade Guy Blade---07:09:00

Target Demographic
So, I now own all 3 of the current generation consoles (thanks to Dell's deal last week). This gives me the freedom to play the best games that come out without regard for platform elitism or other such nonsense. So, I went to go shopping a bit to find a respectable set of games to start my collection. What I've found so far has been, at best, depressing. I've heard people complaining about how there are no gamer's games for the Wii. A quick study of what I've purchased for each system seems to render this calculus somewhat suspect:

  1. Twilight Princess
  2. Wii Play
  3. Super Paper Mario
  4. Metroid Prime 3
  5. Resident Evil: UC
  6. Super Mario Galaxy
  7. Okami
  8. Super Smash Bros: Brawl
  9. No More Heroes

  1. Metal Gear Solid 4
  2. Devil May Cry 4
  3. Heavenly Sword
  4. Ninja Gaiden Sigma

  1. Dead Rising
  2. Perfect Dark Zero
  3. Eternal Sonata
  4. Kameo

Now, one can argue that some of these games aren't perfect (I probably wouldn't buy RE: UC again at the price I paid, for instance), but it does say something about the best this console generation has to offer. I suppose my opinion may be skewed slightly due to the automatic removal of "PC-too" games like Bioshock and Oblivion, but there should be more than one game that can drive the purchase of a system! Where are the games for which I am the target demographic? I was told they were on the PS3 and the 360, but they don't seem to be. Perhaps I'm no longer in the target demo?

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2008 Aug 14 garnet

Guy Blade Guy Blade---17:58:00

360 for less than $360
So, if you don't have an Xbox 360 yet, Dell currently has a coupon for $100 off an Xbox 360 Elite which makes the thing $350 + tax (free shipping). link. Coupon Code: V8Q199$GCXJWL$

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Guy Blade Guy Blade---07:10:00

Design Decisions
So, now that I have a nice new TV, I decided to set up my DVD player in its progressive scan mode. I hooked it up via composite cables (which I happened to have because they are identical to normal RCA cables except there are more) and was getting weird output. I figured that I had to go into some menu and change it to progressive mode. After spending like 20 minutes going through every menu without success, I pulled out the DVD player again to see if I'd wired the cables up wrong. It turns out that on the back of the DVD player is a small 3 way switch. This switch controls which output is active (composite or component) and whether or not it is in progressive scan mode and requires a power cycle to take effect. Of all the places to put such a switch, this seems like a very poor one. It is especially irritating since it means that I can't easily switch between watching on my old SDTV and my new HDTV. Ah well, I'll just have to pick one to use for video games and one for other stuff.

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2008 Aug 13 relm

Guy Blade Guy Blade---08:02:00

So, I set up my new TV and then had it auto-program--standard proceedure, right? Apparently, this means that I get new channels like 104-1, 104-2 and 104-3. I find this especially handy because it means that I now get CSPAN-2. Now I have a choice between CSPAN and CSPAN-2. Now, if only they also provided CSPAN-3...

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Guy Blade Guy Blade---06:10:00

1/3 Less
So today I spent approximately 1/3 of my liquid assets. I took Greg's advice with respect to determining an appropriate level of reserve for my savings. Based on an assessment with lots of rounding upward, I need something like $2850 for a worst-case month of survival (In actuallity, its probably closer to $2050). As such, I took $3000 from my savings an applied it to the larger of my two loans. This leaves me at something like $6300 in debt.

However, that was onlly 1/4 of my liquid assets, the other 1/12 was me finally purchasing a new TV. I got a 42" Toshiba LCD HDTV. It ended up being a rather good deal. It was $999.99 on sale which was already $100 less than anywhere else I looked. I then got to knock another $100 off due to the "10% off when you sign up for a Sears card" deal. After payment, I got a $10 credit on my first billing statment to knock a bit more off. Overall, even with California's 8.25% sales tax, I was paying something like $960 for it.

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2008 Aug 10 elly-miang

Guy Blade Guy Blade---12:46:00

So, I recently have been assessing my level of debt. I passed the level of positive net worth sometime back in February or March. I'm currently hoping to finish paying off all of my debt by this time next year.

Current stats:

Total Liquid Assets+13050.88
Non-revolving Debt-9271.65
Net Worth+3779.23

I've been debating lately about whether I should move money from my savings and use it to pay down my loans. As it currently stands, the interest rate on my loans is a bit higher than 5% (weighted average) and my savings account earns something a bit above 2% interest. On the other hand, I treat my savings account as a kind of emergency margin. Though I've not yet had need to use it, I am somewhat hesitant to take much from it lest it not be there when I need it.

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2008 Aug 07 anthy

Guy Blade Guy Blade---22:51:00

I took my first sick day today. I've gone to work while sicker (I went with a somewhat serious headcold after I got back from France), but I haven't gone to work while I've felt lousier. Although I wasn't very sick, I had serious doubts about my ability to do anything useful during the day. As such, I called in sick and slept another 4 hours (total 14). I feel somewhat better now, but I'm going to take it easy today and not go back in.

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2008 Aug 04 relm

Guy Blade Guy Blade---10:55:00

We've got the Funk
Earlier this weekend, I went down to Hermosa Beach to visit Buckie (more commonly known as Mr. Bookhart). He has been a friend of my family since he and my mother taught together back at North Side Middle School when I was very young. I hadn't yet gone to the beach since I'd been here. I burn rather easily, so the beach and I have a relationship best described as standoffish.

It was somewhat interesting. There was a beach volleyball competition going on at Manhattan Beach which is adjacent to Hermosa Beach. It was full of things that one expects to see at such things: debauchery, beautiful women, women who are not beatiful and should be wearing more clothing to prevent us from having that inflicted on us, people being busted for alcohol on the beach, etc.


Buckie and I @ Manhattan Beach

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2008 Aug 01 elly

Guy Blade Guy Blade---17:47:00

No More Heroes Forever
So, last night I beat No More Heroes. The game itself is a 3rd person hack and slash game with relatively solid gameplay. The thing that makes the game notable, however, is the fact that it probably has the best writing in a game that I've seen since Portal. The whole thing has an ascerbic edge that is just brilliant. If you have a Wii and haven't yet played No More Heroes, you're doing it wrong.

If you don't believe me, I'll offer the 30 second explaination of the concept that is provided at the beginning of the game. The protaganist, Travis Touchdown, runs out of money to buy video games, so he takes out a contract to kill a man using a beam katana he won on an internet auction site to earn money. After killing his target, he finds out that he has become the 11th highest ranked assassin in the world. He decides to aim for becoming the number one assassin so that he can get into the pants of the hot chick who told him that he was number 11.

No really, I'm not making this up. It is, in fact, that brilliant.

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