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


FTP

FTP stands for file transfer protocol and back in the day that's how people shared files on the net. Last week it turned 50! When I got net access in 93 that's how people distributed files. Twenty eight years later and Chrome has stopped supporting it and Firefox will remove support for FTP with version 90. But dear me, I remember how magical it seemed to be able to download game demos from wuarchive.wustl.edu. Not that I'd ever want to go back to those days. It's just that I'm a bit nostalgic for the things of my youth middle age.

April, 18 2021


Rainy Weather

Blade Runner pretty much made it mandatory that a game in the cyberpunk genre has to have almost continuous rainy weather. But although gangs swagger though Night City almost unchecked and folks have customized implants, the weather is invariably sunny with nary a cloud in the sky.

Today I tried to figure out hacking and did a main plot mission that ended up as a rescue Evelyn, the woman who was responsible for getting the chip that's killing me implanted in my head. I was ready to call it a day when Regina, my contact in the NCPD, asked me to bring down a shooter hopped up on drugs. Since she's the only fixer I have any sort of relationship with I complied and took the poor bastard down. It turned out he was a corporate mercenary who got a little too old and was kicked out by his masters. Between drug abuse and PSTD he snapped. And as I contemplated the poor guy's fall, the weather finally cooperated.

Thought about putting some music from the movie's soundtrack but that would have been a bit much.

April, 17 2021


Nostalgia

Cyberpunk 2077 stores its screenshots in the C:\Users\Kosh\Pictures\Cyberpunk folder. In my younger years I used to explore my computer's folders like they were some kind of arcane text but I haven't done that in years. But since I've been in the pictures folder a lot recently, I started poking around and found this photo of Newton at six months:

I suck at taking pictures but these days my phone's camera compensates for my shaky hands. That still doesn't explain my subject matter. Of course there are lots of pictures of Jack, Cadbury and Newton; but there's also strange stuff like this picture of the pewter mug New Jersey gave me for my 20th anniversary:

I'd love to find out what I was thinking.

April, 17 2021


Trash Heap

Most of the screenshots I've seen taken from Cyberpunk 2077 emphasize the neo noir Gibsonesque aesthetics of the more inhabited parts of Night City. But this is also part of the 80s cyberpunk future. Riding to a deserted part of town and rooting through a trash heap looking for an item that's valuable to someone.

And I suspect my current quest line that has me chasing all over the city is designed to expose me to the various environments in Night City. This particular area reminds me of the northern parts of the New Jersey Turnpike. Just drive up the Parkway until you pass Perth Amboy and take the exit to the Turnpike and you've crossed over to Night City.

April, 15 2021


Armor

The good news is that V finished tonight's session with much better armor. The bad news is that it looks like this:

Cyberpunk 2077 is one of those games where the look of your armor has nothing to do with its effectiveness. Of course I had a character in World of Warcraft Named Satoribob with the same problem. He got armor upgrades that were, shall we say not flattering.

Of course the folks in Night City and Azeroth may have their own sense of style.

Update:

Several hours of play later and V has a more menacing look. She's useless for hacking and stealthing, at least right now but she's pretty good with guns. She just hit level 10 and it's probably time to drift back to the main plot.

April, 15 2021


Book Buying

That's Doctor Talos, a character in The Book of the New Sun by Gene Wolfe. It's from a $195 illustrated edition published by the Folio Society, an edition that I wanted once I saw Sam Weber's version of the good Doctor.

Almost all my books for the last 13 years have been ebooks and the last time I spent a lot of money for a collectible book it was a multivolume edition of Shakespeare published in 1787, an edition that I like having on my shelf but one that I don't actually read. But dammit, I want this two volume edition and I've banked my last two refunds.I'm going to pull the trigger.

April, 14 2021


The Verdict on Cyberpunk 2077

Switching to .mp4 format fixed the seven second black screen problem so streaming will continue at my normal erratic pace. According to Steam I played Cyberpunk 2077 for 10 hours last year before abandoning it as unplayable. Unplayable by my standards, lots of people had fun right out of the box. I've played the version with the 1.2 patch for 12 hours and I've been having a good time. Hell, now that I've got some of the systems down I've been having a great time.

So here's a video of V breaking up a robbery:

I got some money and weapons from the prematurely deceased robbers and I get to ride one of their motorcycles. I won't be able to keep it but I can probably get another one. And when I get the chance I'm buying one of these things. If you're gonna suck at driving, drive something that's fun, that's what I say.

April, 11 2021


Motorcycle!

After I did this video I realized that OBS saved stuff as .mov files by default. YouTube prefers files in .mp4 format. I switched the default save format in OBS to .mp4 and we'll see if they look any better on YouTube.

Meanwhile, I hate driving in games because I'm not very good at it. But I saved a guy from being killed by a gang and discovered two motorcycles left behind. For the first time in awhile I decided to take a risk and rather then fast travel back to my apartment, I took the motorcycle. I don't know if it will show up in my list of vehicles the next time I play but even if it doesn't I'd kind of like to get one of those things. By the way, there's a black screen for five seconds before the video starts. Damned if I know.

***

Good New: Saving movies in .mp4 format eliminates the black screen at the beginning of the video.

Bad News: I lost my stolen motorcycle.

April, 10 2021


A Tale of Woe and Redemption

My original idea was to do a little video in World of Warcraft. Then I was planning to blather on about how simulated spaces have grown bigger since 2004 but there were trade offs involved. Stormind City and Night City both have their quirks. Instead I went down a two hour rabbit hole that started when Bandicam wouldn't work with WoW.

At first I figured that WoW was picky, like Cyberpunk 2077 was. With Cyberpunk I had to start Bandicam after the game was running in order to record, so I tried that with WoW. Doing that crashed Wow and Bandicam. At that point I tried recording something in Assassin's Creed Valhalla, that was a bust too.

You know what's coming next, you search the internet for helpful information:

Have you tried reinstalling?

After that I started looking for other solutions. I'd gone from Fraps to OBS to Bandicam. OBS seemed to have gotten better since I abandoned it, at least according to anecdotal evidence, but I didn't want to deal with its persnickety interface. An article I came across suggested Geoforce Experience was a simple solution to my problem, in recent years Nvidia had added a video capture program to it, Well then, I'll try that says I. And sure enough, Geoforce Experience recorded a little video from Cyberpunk 2077. It also slowed down the game and degraded the game's video quality. I admit that Kosh is no longer state of the art but he's not a Pentium running Windows 98 either.

At that point I went into fuck it mode, I uninstalled Bandicam, Geoforce Experience and grabbed the latest version of OBS. To my delight I remembered the interface and it successfully recorded a video of V in her building's parking garage.

My own experience with video capture software for gaming is every so often some version of Direct X, or the latest Nvidia drivers wrecks havoc and you can either be patient until the devs catch up or cast about for something else. In six years I've gone from Fraps to OBS to Bandicam and now back to OBS. And if you've read this far, you deserve a picture of Newton in his bed. It's the first time he's used it all year.

April, 9 2021


Evening in Night City

So then, to stop bitching, here's how I spent my day in Night City. I got a job tracking down rogue cabs whose AI had gone crazy. I destroyed one and talked the other down. That one was frightened by all the noise on the streets but it allowed me to drive it back to the cab garage. I got 1000 per cab for the work. I stopped off at my apartment and talked a cop named Barry down from doing something stupid. His partner and best friend had died and he was stressed out and depressed. Poor guy just needed someone to talk to. I then went to pick up some money a fixer owed me and by then it was dark. I decided to just walks and stopped to listen to a street busker playing guitar and Johnny Silverhand showed up. Johnny is a AI recreation of the actual Silverhand who died in 2023, I'm carrying him around on a chip in my head.

Shades of Johnny Mnemonic.

Johnny waxed poetic about music, told me the busker wasn't a great musician but had a lot of heart, and mentioned that there were bootlegs of an early performance of his that would be worth some money. When I expressed an interest in those tapes he called me a mercenary but, probably because he was such an asshole when we first met, told me the tapes were at a nightclub very near our location.

I went to the spot and found out that the nightclub had become a sushi place. But the chef knew an old guy at the market who sold records and if anyone knew about the Silverhand tapes it would be him. So I went to the old guy and he did have the tapes from the nightclub but he wasn't going to give them to someone who knew nothing about Samurai. However with Johnny helping me out, I convinced him I was a huge Silverhand fan and he gave me the tapes, passing the torch to the next generation of Silverhand fans as it were.

Now all I have to do is find a buyer. And get enough money to buy a car, mine was totaled by one of the rogue cabs. The cab company if fixing it for me but their resources are strained. That's why I'm tracking down rogue cabs, for each one they get from me my repair job gets moved up in the que.

So that was my first day of doing side missions in Night City. By the way, Keanu Reeves isn't just phoning his performance in, for whatever that's worth.

April, 9 2021


Side Quests

The Lord of the Rings isn't a book or a movie, it's a role playing game. The basic plot is to stop a guy named Sauron from taking over the world. This is accomplished by making sure that a hobbit named Frodo sneaks into Sauron's kingdom, Mordor, and throws a magic ring into a volcano, that will destroy Sauron's power forever. You have a choice of two player characters. If stealth is your thing you can play as Frodo's servant Sam and help Frodo stealth into Mordor. If you're more of a fighter you can play as Aragorn, your job is to keep Sauron's attention centered on you.

As it turns out, two other hobbits, Merry and Pippin, have been kidnapped by orcs. They're friends of Frodo, they know the whole plan and if the orcs make it to Isengard an evil wizard named Saruman will find out about Frodo and BAM! You've lost the game. And that's why Aragorn and two NPCs have been tracking the orcs through Rohan, it's a race against time. But wait! There's a dying Rider of Rohan over there. There's nothing you can do to save him but you can honor his last request, take his sword back to his farm and give it to his son. If you accomplish that you'll get a helmet your dwarf fighter can use and three large health potions.

So off you go, Merry and Pippin can wait. You take the sword to the settlement, get the helmet and potions, and your elf archer levels up. But the best part is when you get back to tracking the orcs you find that they haven't moved. It's as if time has no meaning when you break off from the main quest to do a side mission. Because The Lord of the Rings is an open world game and you have to do a lot of side quests to make sure that Aragorn's level is high enough for his endgame: Warning, you will not be able to go back to Gondor after leading your army to the gates of Mordor.

Open world RPGs are all like that, there's a task you must complete but you have plenty of time to level up by doing side quests. I finished Assassin's Creed Valhalla a couple of months ago and even though it was vital to build a coalition to defeat King Alfred, I often had to screw around with raiding monasteries and killing wolves to level up.

And yes, Cyberpunk 2077 is like that and at this point in my life I'm fairly sure it doesn't have to be that way. Surely there's a way to integrate side quests into the main plot, or at least have a better explanation for going off the main quest then, "Fuck Alfred, I need to go up a couple of levels."

I've just started the second chapter in Cyberpunk 2077 and while I have important stuff to do I'm going to blow it off and take back my favorite gun from a pawnbroker who's keeping it.

Priorities man.

April, 8 2021


Guilt Trip

Newton has his quirks but angst isn't one of them, however he's pretty angsty today. I planned to go to Donna's for Easter and discovered that the Vet who boards Newton wouldn't take my reservation until Newton had a distemper shot. So two weeks ago I take Newton in for his exam, he's whisked in and gets his shot. When he's returned to me he's pretty pissed, normally I go in with him but Covid.

And one week later I dropped him off on Thursday and I picked him up yesterday. For the last 24 hours he's been pretty clingy.

Which is to be expected I suppose. At the moment he's asleep on the ottoman in the office and I'm not going to disturb him when I leave for the grocery. Meanwhile, Newton has no way of knowing that I needed the trip up north, nor would he care if I had some way of explaining it to him. He's a cat after all.

Update: After I had been playimg World of Warcraft with Moon for four hours, Newton decided that things were back to normal and wandered out to the living room.

April, 6 2021