Contents

Caty and Cara's Page

Our Computers

Snapshots with Text

Essays for Fun

Ken Burch's Tales

Ken's Neocron Tales

More Neocron Tales

Secret Wars

Tales of the Walker Clan

Our Cast

Why Kevin Doesn't Dance

Writing of Mine That Doesn't Totally Suck

Stuff dl Thinks Is Cool

The Old, Old Grandma Story

The Final Battle

James' Photos

James Meyer's Birds:

Introduction

Photos 1 through 25

Photos 26 through 50

Photos 51 through 75

Photos 76 through 100

Reading

` a book cover

Playing

alChandler's Halls



Serving dozens since 1999


Circe

It's difficult to make gods relatable without diminishing their divinity. A tug one way and they're remote, alien figures of powers. But make them too human and you get the MCU's Thor, one of the gods of the firm handshake as Lucifer once dismissed him. And that's why I'm enjoying Madeline Miller's Circe. It's Circe's story told in first person and while you can understand her Miller never lets you forget that Circe is not a human being. She's the daughter of Hyperion the Titan. It's quite impressive and I'm enjoying her book more then any other fantasy I've read in the last few years.

July 22, 2018


Reproducible Results

Landing once in a starport is nice but in order to actually play Elite Dangerous I have to be able to do it on a regular basis, at least until I can get hold of a docking computer. I haven't touched the game since I made my first landing early Tuesday morning. So I just started the game, fired up the docking tutorial and landed on my first try. In the words of Sam Gamgee, I think I'm getting the hang of this.

July 19, 2018


The Core i9 MacBook Pro

I don't follow computer news the way I used to but Rolf still maintains a healthy interest. The other day he told me about the 2018 MacBook Pro. It's expensive but if you're buying anything from Apple these days then you have to set aside mundane matters like the state of your bank account.

The MacBook Pro comes with an Intel i9-8950K processor that starts at 2.9 GHz and go up to 4.8 GHz. Unfortunately that kind of power generates a shit ton of heat and Apple hasn't designed a cooling system that can handle it. And I'm not talking about the 4.8 GHz speed, it can't handle its base 2.9 GHz speed. So if you buy the thing to use it for video rendering your i9 processor will be chugging along at 2.2 GHz, slower then the 2017 MacBook Pro.

The consensus seems to be that the computer is so slim that Apple can't fit an adequate cooling system inside the thing. Apple has always sacrificed practicality for style. And to be honest I really don't know anyone personally who uses Apple computers for serious stuff, although I know a few who still use iPhones. If anyone asked my advice, not that it's worth much anymore, I'd steer them away from Apple products, but that's just me, and what do I know? I'm still using a case that looks like it was cobbled together from Darth Vader's old armor.

July 19, 2018


Made It!

It's taken me two fucking years, not metaphorical years but actual years, but I finally landed a ship in a spaceport! For two goddamn years I've felt like Charlie Brown but no more!

Today's landing took patience and a lot of beer but it's done. I may never play this game again but I landed a ship in Elite Dangerous. Seriously, this is the proudest I've been about any post retirement thing I've done.

July 18, 2018


Phone Books

There are four condos on my landing and two phone books were delivered. Since I don't have a land line they weren't for me. The books were enclosed in a plastic bag and one of my neighbors took the bag and left the book. The other one was just left for days until I brought it inside.

I wonder, is there a state requirement that Verizon has to distribute the things? Or is it just that they still make money off the yellow pages? And as to the phone book I rescued, don't worry, I gave it a good home. It lives on John Stewart's farm where it can run and play with the other phone books.

July 17, 2018


Meanwhile

There's a story behind this picture.

My Dad made several attempts to get me interested in electronics. One time he made a Morse Code setup for me. The idea was that I would learn Morse Code, learn all the other electronic shit and then get a ham radio license. I never got beyond the Morse Code part and I suspect that most people who did learn it and go on to get their license never used it again. In fact a few years ago the FCC dropped the Morse Code requirement for a license.

Today I decided to put the other space game I own, Elite Dangerous, back on Kosh and screw around with it. I never got beyond the second training exercise, docking. In the original game, circa 1985, I learned how to dock. Here's a video of what docking looked like 33 years ago:

That's not my video but that's how you docked and I was very proud that I learned how to do it. Eventually I got a docking computer and after that I never docked manually again. In Elite Dangerous docking is more complicated.

I played Elite Dangerous a more then a year ago and while I could get my ship inside the station, I could never find my landing pad for some reason. I'm not going to lie to you, I didn't succeed in docking today, but I did find my landing pad. That made me so happy I took a screen shot. My pad is that illuminated yellowish thing at the top of the screen. I might have landed too had I known about my compass and that F and R were vertical thrust keys.

This game has a lot of keyboard commands, far more then No Man's Sky has.

I don't know if I'll play Elite Dangerous very long but I'd like to dock successfully at least once. And I've no idea why I couldn't find my assigned landing pad in when I last played the game. However, I'm not the greatest driver in the real world and that probably has something to do with it. If I do keep the game around, I'll save up 8,500 credits and buy a docking computer to automate the whole process. It's sort of like the Morse Code thing.

July 17, 2018


Ganked

Although ganked sort of implies that humans were involved. It was an NPC ship that destroyed me, I ended up back at a space station with my ship but my supplies were gone. I'm not sure that I'm having enough fun in this game to start rebuilding from scratch. Hell, had I known I'd lose everything but my ship I would have run.

July 16, 2018


Return to Computer Gaming World

From 1985 to 2006 I read Computer Gaming World, eventually I subscribed to it. The CGW Museum has every issue in PDF format if you're interested in the history of gaming on a computer. I had the whole thing on my hard drive but lost them in February's crash, so today I downloaded them all again.

In the late 90s the magazine's page count began shrinking. CGW had a three month lead time and that meant that if a game came out in July, you'd read the review in October. In the 80s and for most of the 90s you simply had to deal with the lag, but once people started using the web, CGW, and other computer oriented magazines were in trouble. Three months simply wasn't acceptable anymore. People, myself included, started getting our reviews from gaming sites. I still subscribed to CGW until the end but it was out if sentiment more then anything else.

The last issue of CGW was the November, 2006 issue. The magazine had a brief half life as Games for Windows and lingered on until April, 2008. And I know I've mentioned the CGW Museum before but...

I got my Commodore 64 in 1983 and I bought it to play games. So I've had a computer for 35 years now, more then half my life. And while I don't subscribe to any gaming magazines these days I check out several gaming sites on a daily basis and the only podcast I listen to regularly is Gamers with Job. And the truth is that at 62, I think I'm permitted a certain sentimentality for my past. But sentimentality aside, I wouldn't want to return to the past.

July 14, 2018


A Gaming Revelation of Sorts

Now that I have a hyperdrive, I need to keep it fueled with a warp cell. I had two of the three components for that but I was missing something called heridium. I was all set to do a search for the stuff when I got a signal that there was a fuel source on a planet in the very system I was exploring. So I go to the planet, fly to the source and find the monolith you see in the screen shot. But while I found the monolith I couldn't find the fuel. A quick trip to Google told me that I actually had to interact with it by pressing the E key. Feeling especially stupid, I went back to the game, pressed E, had a nice chat with it, and got my warp cell.

Without going to Google, I would have been stuck at the monolith for a day or two.

And that's why the games I played in the 80s would take me months and months to finish. My Commodore 64 had no modem and if I was stuck I was shit out of luck. It wasn't until the mid 80s that I discovered Computer Gaming World.

Sometimes their columnist, Scorpia, would do a walkthrough of the game I happened to be playing and I'd be in luck, but most times I was still in shit out of luck mode.

But today we have video walkthroughs and life is wonderful. No, the early 80s weren't better unless you enjoyed being frustrated for days, weeks, or sometimes months. Meanwhile, I think I'm still going to look for heridium. One warp cell is good, two warp cells are better.

July 14, 2018


Stanley Kubrick on 2001

Recently an old audio clip of Kubrick talking about the ending of 2001: A Space Odyssey turned up:

I've tried to avoid doing this ever since the picture came out. When you just say the ideas they sound foolish, whereas if they’re dramatized one feels it, but I'll try.

The idea was supposed to be that he is taken in by god-like entities, creatures of pure energy and intelligence with no shape or form. They put him in what I suppose you could describe as a human zoo to study him, and his whole life passes from that point on in that room. And he has no sense of time. It just seems to happen as it does in the film.

They choose this room, which is a very inaccurate replica of French architecture (deliberately so, inaccurate) because one was suggesting that they had some idea of something that he might think was pretty, but wasn't quite sure. Just as we’re not quite sure what do in zoos with animals to try to give them what we think is their natural environment.

Anyway, when they get finished with him, as happens in so many myths of all cultures in the world, he is transformed into some kind of super being and sent back to Earth, transformed and made into some sort of superman. We have to only guess what happens when he goes back. It is the pattern of a great deal of mythology, and that is what we were trying to suggest.

That's pretty much what Arthur C. Clarke said in his novel and while we were all sure that Clarke knew what Kubrick was thinking, it's nice to have the director confirm it.

July 12, 2018


Two Gaming Notes

I still don't no what to make of No Man's Sky. I'm still in the first system but my ship now has a hyperdrive and I should be able to join the rest of the galaxy fairly soon. I play it in short gulps, today I got the plans for the hyperdrive, went to the system's space station, bought the equipment I needed to assemble the thing and left the game, about an hour's worth of playtime. At an hour at a time the game is all right and it's there for me until my next major game comes along. I just wish the game would patch in joystick support, but that ain't happening.

And while I'm writing this Divinity: Original Sin 2 is downloading. I liked the game but I found its detailed, tactical combat frustrating when it came to the bosses. But next month the devs are releasing a patch that will add a story mode to the game. So I just may finish that game yet. And I no longer feel the slightest twinge of shame about playing games on easy mode. If I were a golf pro I'd be on the senior tour by now, you know?

July 12, 2018