Serving dozens since 1999
Last week sometime I read a snarky comment that said, "It's nice that older people self segregate on Facebook." I admit there's a lot of truth in that. Meanwhile, Facebook's stock dropped by 12.53 and that led to a sell off on Wall Street.
Facebook's business model is to encourage its users to share a lot of information about themselves. Facebook can take that information and sell it to interest parties. So far that's worked rather nicely but things seem to be going badly for them right now. A company named Cambridge Analytica got data from 50 million of Facebooks's users in 2016 and used that information to send targeted posts to help the Trump campaign. Robert Mueller requested internal documents from the company as part of his investigation into Trump's campaign. And the company's chief of security, Alex Stamos, is leaving the company in August because he thinks it should be more open about how Russia gamed the system.
I've no doubt a lot of people will want to have a chat with him.
I've no objection to Facebook's business model, but I do wish that people would think twice before they share stuff on that platform (says the man who just posted the latest in a series of pictures of Newton drinking from the toilet).
March 19, 2018
Searching for Armor
I'm having two problems with Ghost of a Tale, the first is that since I can't knock out the guards I have to use precise timing and coordination to get by them, things I don't have in abundance. The second thing is that I have no sense of direction, so navigating the prison I'm in is very hard.
Today I realized I had everything for a suit of armor except the greaves. If you find all the scattered pieces of the armor you can wear it and walk among the guards as one of their own. So I figured it would be a cakewalk to grab the greaves, Then I wouldn't have to worry about dodging the rats. That was at 6:00 PM. It's now 4:00 AM and I finally got them.
On one had I'm finding this difficult, but the upside is that if I can get through this then maybe I can get through games like the Metal Gear series, games that are less forgiving then Thief, Splinter Cell and Dishonored when it comes to knocking out guards.
March 17, 2018
Adventure of a Mouse
In games with a stealth element there's generally an achievement called Ghost. You enter a place, do what you have to do and get out without anyone knowing you've been there. I've gotten it a few times over the years but not often. I'm more of a knock the guards out and pile their bodies in the corner kind of guy. I don't have that option in Ghost of a Tale and I have to change up my game a little.
Like a lot of games, this one starts in a prison. You're a mouse and the guards are rats so knocking them out for the duration isn't an option. If you have a bottle you can throw it at them and that will take them out of action for a little while but that's the full extent of your offensive capabilities. So far I've been able to sneak by them. They're slow and fairly stupid so even if you're spotted you can scamper (literally, you drop to all fours when you run) to a hiding spot and they'll lose interest. Fair enough.
There are also environmental puzzles. A door labeled Screaming Door is locked. There's a key hanging on a peg but it's too high for a mouse to reach. But wait, there's a stool around the corner, so move the stool use it to reach the key and open the door. There's also a guard who patrols the area so you have to wait until he leaves. I suck at puzzles but stuff like that I can figure out.
By the way, the rat guards owe a lot to the rats in The Secret of NIMH, especially Brutus.
The guards even walk like Brutus.
The game has an interesting save system. You can only save if you're hiding so you have to get to a chest or a barrel and hide there, but you can have as many saves as you like.
One last thing while I'm rambling, at first I couldn't save my game at all. It turned out to be BitDefender's fault. A lot of games, including Ghost of a Tale, keep their save data in your documents folder. BitDefender 2018 sees that as an attack and blocks the save unless you open it and tell it to allow the changes. Figuring that out was the first puzzle I solved in the game.
March 16, 2018
Ghost of a Tale
That's right, I'm role playing as a mouse bard who's been thrown in prison. I'll explain later.
March 15, 2018
Home Again, Home Again
I'm back and when I wake up tomorrow (later today actually) I have to drive to the vet and pick up a cat who will be very displeased with me.
Newton has been boarded since the Tuesday before last. He tolerates being boarded for a weekend fairly well, but these longer stretches really upset him. So I'll have to be extra nice to him I suppose.
March 15, 2018
Meanwhile in North Jersey
Donna got me a brand new Kindle for my birthday to replace my rapidly aging one. This time I'm going to try to force myself to remember that I don't have to keep 900 books on the device. Between Amazon, Project Gutenberg and my external hard drive I'm fairly certain that access to my books has been secured.
Also, Donna strongly suggested that i should get a new laptop sooner rather then later after she saw how annoyed I was getting at Little Kosh. We'll see about that, I had planned to wait until after May for that but the fact is that Windows 10 is getting too bloated for LK to handle anymore.
By the way we got snow here a few days ago!
March 11, 2018
AKA the laptop. On one hand, LK is getting old and slow and a new laptop later in the year is looking good. But the reason for LK's spotty performance has nothing to do with any flaws in the computer itself. I don't keep LK current with updates and when I trot it out for the trip up north it churns for hours downloading critical updates. That's on me.
The other problem is the net connection here. It's DSL and there are a fuck ton of devices hanging off Donna's connection. There's nothing to be done, the cable company won't connect to the island unless the residents are willing to pay fore everything themselves. They aren't.
It would be nice to have a better laptop to play a few games while I'm here. I can play WoW but that's about it but I don't know if the occasional enjoyment I'd get out of that would be worth the extra money.
Still, I will have to do something, when I got this thing Windows 7 was state of the art. This thing is 9 years old and it's not going to last much longer, so something laptop wise is going down this year.
March 9, 2018
I just had spicy salmon sushi for breakfast. There goes my street cred.
March 9, 2018
A Few Words about Clark Ashton Smith
The Los Angeles Review of Books has an article about the fellow. For what it's worth he was a much better writer then Lovecraft. He was also a fair poet too.
Bow down: I am the emperor of dreams;
I crown me with the million-colored sun
Of secret worlds incredible, and take
Their trailing skies for vestment when I soar,
Throned on the mounting zenith, and illume
The spaceward-flown horizons infinite.
That's from The Hashish Eater -or- the Apocalypse of Evil. I think it's a pity that he's not better known. Back in the day Lovecraft, Smith and Robert Howard were the heavy hitters over at Weird Tales. Lovecraft and Howard are fairly well known but Smith has been forgotten by all but horror aficionados.
Anyway, his stuff is collected at The Eldritch Dark if you're in the mood to give him a try.
March 4, 2018
Good News/Bad News
The bad news is that after trying to get into it for 16 hours, I dislike almost everything about Seven: Days Long Gone. I was going to say it's bad but nope, can't say that just because I don't like it, personal preference verses value judgment and all that. Still, that leaves me without a game and that makes me antsy. But I'm heading north in a couple of days and that will occupy my time.
The good news is that I've finally fixed the problem of my slow loading icons. Or rather, I rediscovered the page that helped me with that problem the last time it happened. You know at one time it was easier for me to fix things with my computer. But the damn things have become so reliable that when something is off I know longer have the intellectual tool kit to trouble shoot the problem. The price of progress. And remember, if something does go wrong, Google is your friend.
March 3, 2018
When I was 12 my Dad gave me a cassette tape recorder and like a lot of people back then, I'd record music from the radio. On one hand, I'd like to play those tape and find out what I was into 50 years ago. On the other, I'd probably be mortified to find out what my taste was like in 1968.
I still collect music that way though. Today I was listening to Pandora and it threw up the live version of a song called Mexico by a group called Moe. I'd never heard of them before but I loved the 22 minute jam and bought the track.
Actually, I wish I had remembered to give Mexico a thumbs up while it was playing so the vast and brooding Pandora AI would throw up more stuff from Moe in the mix. But I missed my chance.
Actually no, I've just discovered you can scroll back through the songs played. Cool.
March 2, 2018
Kevin's Social Skills
March 1, 2018
Seven: The Days Long Gone, Murder and Mastermind
I was given a job to burgle the safe in the local temple of the biomancers. The problem is that the safe was in the office of the local abbot and his bodyguard. To add to the fun a sick man came in every so often and sobbed for a minute or two.
Eventually the guard and the sick guy would leave and the abbot would turn his back, that gave me the window of opportunity to crack the safe. That took you to a minigame based on Mastermind. I've mentioned many times how much I suck at logic puzzles. And after a few tries someone would notice me and I'd get killed. Fortunately I hit on an elegant solution. I waited until the abbot was alone in his office and back stabbed him with my twin daggers and left. Then I came back, hung out until the bodyguard left and when the crying guy came in I back stabbed him and left. Same drill with the guard.
With the three of them dead I was able to crack the safe and get the report that Ramus, the crime lord of the shitty city I'm in at the moment, wanted. It may seem like I've become a swine but my last game was called Tyranny after all. Besides, I now have the robes of a biomancer in case I need them later on in the game. If this keeps up I'll be playing Puppy Murder Simulator by August.
March 1, 2018
Authority is the second book in the Southern Reach Trilogy and it follows John Rodriguez, the new director of the Southern Reach Agency. The Southern Reach Agency has been tasked with finding out what the hell is going on at Area X. They've been trying to do that for 30 years and as the decades have gone on and Area X seems to have stabilized the agency has become a backwater, an obscure item in the annual intelligence appropriations bill. The whole place has a sad air about it, in fact it reminds me of my last few years at the Casino Control Commission.
Authority is the unpopular book in the trilogy. We don't get the crawler, we don't get the tower, we don't even get the moaning beast. We get bureaucrats fighting turf wars and scientists who have no idea what's up with Area X and a director in way over is head. Nary a human eyed dolphin to be seen.
And yet the Biologist in Annihilation observes that just because the Southern Reach Agency only knows of one entrance into Area X doesn't mean that there aren't others. Whatever is in Area X is subtly colonizing the agency. And I sat subtly because the mind games and deceptions that the staff pull on each other aren't too different from the shit that goes on in government work in real life.
True story, I put in my retirement papers on July 1, 2010 after I saw the report released by the Governor's Commission on Gambling. My date was September 1 and at the end of August I had my exit interview with Marvin Askins, our affirmative action director. When he asked me why I was retiring I told him that I didn't think my job would be around for very much longer and I didn't want to be around for the last act. At that point he gave me a spiel about how great thing were going to be happening at the Commission at it was a shame I wouldn't be part of it.
That November the position of inspector was abolished as of March 31, 2011. So yeah, I get the Southern Reach Agency, and I like the book.
By the way, if you've read Authority then you know what the crawler is. I think I may have posted this picture of it before but I like it and am positing it again:
I really like that picture and it doesn't seem to be on the net any more, at least I can't find it.
February 27, 2018
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