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



Spreading optimism since 1999


Trump on Bitcoin

And Bitcoin mining will provide high paying jobs for Americans.

June 12, 2024


Dragon Age

Today I upgraded from EA's old store, Origins, to its new store, EA, to get ready for their fourth game in the Dragon Age series, Dragon Age Veilguard.

The Dragon Age series reminds me of a Five Guys burger, enjoyable but nothing to write home about. I'm thinking of replaying the third game, Dragon Age Inquisition to refresh my memory. It's been 10 years since I played that game and while I posted this on YouTube back in the day, I don't remember the context.

Yeah, I've no idea what's going on here. I do remember that Varric the Dwarf used to write adventure serials under a pseudonym and that straight ass Cassandra read them and became a fan girl when she found out that Varric wrote them. I remember that Iron Bull attacked me towards the end of the game because I didn't go off mission to save some friends of his. And I remember that Solas the Elf Mage revealed at the end of the game that he was going to do something evil and dangerous. So yeah, I may replay the game, or just go to the game's Wikipedia entry.

Meanwhile, Newton's been watching me type this, occasionally reaching for the keys to see what all the fuss is about. Time to wrap this up and post it.

June 12, 2024


A Visit to the Lighthouse

They say that one of the reasons time seems to go faster as we age is that the world is no longer new to us. We simply stop paying attention to things we've seen and done before. With that in mind, I was under the impression that I bought the early access version of Gloomwood before covid hit. In fact I discovered that I purchased it in 2022. Make of that what you will.

When it was released the only part of the map that was ready was the fishery and the mines. The idea was you were in prison, an unseen benefactor helped you escape and after you made it through the fishery and the mines you were to rendezvous with him at the lighthouse. However the lighthouse didn't exist yet, at least not in a form that was ready to be released to the public. But the two guys making the game (Dillon Rogers and David Szymanski) added content since then and I made it to the lighthouse over the weekend. Today I made it past the lighthouse and entered the gates of the City of Gloomwood.

In other gaming news I did indeed finish Horizon Forbidden West. The game seemed substantially harder then Horizon Zero Dawn and its plot boiled down to, "You know how we thought we saved the world? Well everything broke down and now we're fucked again." After beating the game I started the expansion content, found that even harder and bailed. But it was important to me to finish the main game and that's what I did. Then last Saturday I started Gloomwood again. There's enough new content to justify another play through.

By the way, if you want to try out the original demo, GOG still has it.

And looking at my calendar, after this week the only thing I have between now and the middle of July is a telemedicine thing on 7/3 with the urologist. Life is good.

June 11, 2024


Gloomwood

There were more corpses then that one, three more. Nobody could figure out how to get past the tree, so they just milled about. From time to time one of them would get within range of my sword and I'd whack them. Eventually one of my assassin's walked into a cooking fire and started burning. He started running around screaming and managed to set two of his companions on fire. That left one guy who still couldn't figure out how to walk around the tree. Occasionally an arm or leg would get within reach and I'd do a bit of damage. I'm not too proud to take advantage of the limited intelligence of my enemies.

June 9, 2024


Election 2024

June 7, 2024


I Hate Flying

Several years ago I played Farcry 5. There was a sequence that involved getting in a plane and flying after a bad guy. The W key pitched the plane down and the S key pitched it up. I just couldn't master that and there was no way to remap the flight controls, so evil won that time.

A week and a half ago I came to a point in Horizon Forbidden West in which I had to take control of a Sunbird and fly it to various locations. Inevitably it used the same control scheme that Farcry 5 used. I putzed around with it for a bit and put the game aside. I was preparing to take the bus to New York City and was stressed out over that so I didn't need the stress from HFW. But I'm back and today I fired up the game and managed to fly the damn bird to where I needed to go. Rah team.

I suspect I'll finish the game pretty soon.

June 7, 2024


Copilot+ Recall

Remember the transition from CRT televisions to flat screen televisions? Companies made a lot of money because people kind of had to discard their older sets if they wanted to continue watching David Letterman. So consumers put on their big kid pants and bought a new set.

But since then the cost of a television has gone way down. I have a 65" set, I forget how much I paid for it but if I ever had to replace it I'd pay about $400, half the price I paid for my phone.

Companies like big profits and they hate it when yesterday's miracle thing becomes stuff that can be purchased for a fair price and gives the company a modest, but fair, profit. So, they search for the next breakthrough that will get consumers to open their wallets. And that's why Microsoft will start pushing Copilot+ Recall with their next big Windows 11 update. There will be a push to get you to buy PCs that are Copilot+ Recall ready.

As far a Copilot is concerned, it's a digital assistant. It works well with Microsoft 365, at least that's what some tech sites told me, I use LibreOffice myself. But it seemed inoffensive and I left the Copilot preview on Kosh. But on Tuesday I disabled it, because of the soon to be added Recall feature. Recall will take screenshots of what you're doing on your computer and store them locally on your drive. But there's a problem with that. As Charlie Stross describes it:

Surprise! It turns out that the unencrypted database and the stored images may contain your user credentials and passwords. And other stuff. Got a porn habit? Congratulations, anyone with access to your user account can see what you've been seeing. Use a password manager like 1Password? Sorry, your 1Password passwords are probably visible via Recall, now.

And it gets better, you can turn Copilot+ off on your end but if your doctor uses it and you dash off an email about your horrible case of anal sandworms, it will be stored on her drive.

I'm sure that the blowback from techies has reached all the way to Satya Nadella by now, perhaps they'll wait a bit before pushing Recall on the public. Or maybe they'll ship the next update with Recall off by default. Whatever they do, this is what happens when a tech company doesn't have a revolutionary product to sell and so they try to cobble something together and shove it out the door.

June 6, 2024


Welcome to Another Episode of Poor Decision Theater

Donna sent me home with a prerolled joint. Last night I smoked it and this morning I woke up coughing like John Keats on his deathbed.

June 6, 2024


Newton in Exile

That's a picture of Newton in All Star Pet Resort. While I was in New York, Newton was boarded. I sprang for the $15 a day play time I don't know how much play was involved but he did get to interact with the staff.

I got this picture on my second day in New York, Newton was letting them pet him albeit without any great enthusiasm. But eventually he got comfortable enough with them to yell demands.

Newton's at home now, asleep on the ottoman in my office. As for me, I made it to NYC and back again without any problems, so the next trip will be a lot less stressful. Meanwhile, here's the view from Donna's balcony.

So there we go.

June 4, 2024


Nasty Things, Adventures

This Thursday I'm taking a bus to Manhattan to visit Mrs. Silverman. I haven't taken a bus anywhere in 48 years and let me tell you, Frodo was less angsty when he agreed to schlep the Ring to Mordor then I am now. But I accept the fact that I'm no longer capable of driving in New York (if ever was really) and that Donna's right, after the first trip it will get a lot easier. After all, Bilbo's first reaction when Gandalf brought up the idea of an adventure was, "We are plain quiet folk and have no use for adventures. Nasty disturbing uncomfortable things! Make you late for dinner!" But after he got home he continued to meet up with Elves and even took a trip back to the Lonely Mountain after he gave up the Ring. If he can do that, I can take a fucking Uber to the Atlantic City Bus Terminal dammit.

May 28, 2024


First Contact with Gemini

Google's new AI thingy texted me today, I wasn't expecting that.

It's nice that it wants to help but I don't want the AI that suggested using glue to hold the cheese on pizzas helping me the next time I have to write a difficult message.

May 26, 2024


AI

I know why corporations are enthused about AI, it allows them (they hope) to fire a bunch of people. What I didn't know was why companies like Microsoft and Apple are trying to add AI stuff to their computers, tablets and phones. Then I read an article in the Times called Can Artificial Intelligence Make the PC Cool Again?

The A.I. PC, industry analysts believe, could reverse a longtime decline in the importance of the personal computer. For the last two decades, the demand for the fastest laptops has diminished because so much software was moved into cloud computing centers. A strong internet connection and web browser was all most people needed.

Over the same two decades I had Kosh upgraded several times but even I've reached the point of satiation, my aging RTX 3080 Ti is doing just fine thank you. And while Microsoft has pushed Copilot to my desktop, I haven't used it.

I don't object to Copilot but I don't see myself buying a new laptop or upgrading Kosh just to have a more robust version of Copilot either.

I understand that Microsoft plans to add Copilot to Minecraft. I could have used that with some of the harder boss fights in Horizon Forbidden West, although I suspect Copilot would just tell me, "Get gud asshole."

May 22, 2024


Newton Verses Saruman the White

When I get ready to leave my office for an extended period, I have make sure that Newton will leave too. He's been with me for 10 years and he still chews wires. Sometimes he'll leave willingly, other times he'll hide behind the printer table, hoping that I won't notice. When that happens I have to squirt him with compressed air to dislodge him and it's a pain in the ass, or it used to be.

Now when he does that I say, in my best Christopher Lee voice, "I gave you the chance of aiding me willingly, but you have elected the way of pain!" Then I squirt him with compressed air. Because if you have a chore that you don't like, find a way to make it fun.

May 18, 2024


America First

I went to the vet's this morning and I was wearing that t-shirt, it's a picture of a vulture perched on a dead armadillo. As I was leaving the office a woman held the door open for me, looked at my shirt and told me she liked it, then she said, "America first." I was going to correct her but then I thought it wouldn't do any good and besides, she's not totally wrong.

May 16, 2024


Tallnecks

They're placid, they're big and they're the only machines who aren't trying to kill you. They're the game's version of Google Maps and I get a kick out of them.

May 16, 2024


The Official Portrait Of King Charles III

Now that he's King, Charles no longer has to hide his allegiance to Astaroth, Duke of Hell.

May 15, 2024


Rings of Power

At best Rings of Power has only a nodding acquaintance with Tolkien's writings. That being said, I find myself looking forward to season 2 after seeing this trailer.

May 14, 2024


Newton the Computer Geek

Last year I introduced Newton to videos designed for cats, now watching stuff like this is part of his daily routine. Quality time with the cat.

May 14, 2024


Aloy and the Tremortusk

Ok, some of Horizon Forbidden West's backstory coming up. Near as I can remember, there was a meeting that was supposed to reconcile the three Tenakth clans with the Carja (the previous leader of the Carja practiced human sacrifice and the Tenakth are still a bit miffed about that). Unfortunately Regalla, a rebel Tenakth, attacked everybody at the meeting for her own reasons (I really don't give a shit about them, she's a villain).

Anyway, I doubt my character, Aloy, gave a shit about Tenakth politics either, she just wanted to head west to reboot the computers controlling Earth's environment. But to do that she has to cross Tenakth territory and that won't happen until the Tenakth get their act together. And before the Tenakth can do anything, the leaders of their three clans have to send warriors to something called a Kulrut. The warriors will have a knock down drag out, the survivors will become marshals and then stuff can be decided, like what are they going to do about Regalla.

Still with me? It turned out that the leader of the Sky Clan, Tekotteh, isn't sending anyone to the Kulrut. His capitol is protected by a natural wall called the Bulwark. So, no Sky Clan, no Kulrut, no resolution, and no traveling west for Ahoy.

At this point you're probably amazed at my command of the intricacies of Tenakth politics. To be honest, I'm looking stuff up from the Horizon Wiki. When I play it's more like, ok guys who do you want me to fuck up today? But moving on, there's one survivor from the massacre at the meeting, Kotallo. He lost an arm in the fight and while he's still a marshal, he's a one armed marshal and given the mind set of a warrior clan folks talk behind his back. He's convinced that the Bulwark won't protect the Sky Clan when Regalla shows up and while he has little use for Aloy, she's his only potential ally and the two join forces.

Aloy scans the Bulwark with her focus and discovers a way inside. She goes inside and discovers there's a machine left over from the old days. It's brimming with energy and if it blows up it will take the Bulwark with it. Aloy and Kotallo realize that if Aloy can discover it, Regalla can too. So they need to blow it up themselves to show Tekotteh that he needs to get with the program and send a few guys to the Kulrut. Aloy has nothing that can do that, but Aloy and Kotallo figure that Regalla's people do and wouldn't you know it, a little way from Tekotteh's capitol is a rebel camp. Bet they have something.

And that's where I left off a week ago. Last night I resumed the game, worried that I would have lost my grasp of the many keyboard commands. But no guts no glory, Kotallo and I go to the camp and there in a stall formed by two walls is a tremortusk, a big metal elephant. It's not just an elephant, it's also a boss. Kotallo goes off to deal with the soldiers leaving the tremortusk to me.

I'm not very strategic so I charge the thing, it comes out of its stall and kills me. After my fourth death I decide to use my head and sneak behind the thing in its stall and start to whack at it. The elephant can't turn around in the stall and by the time it moves out of the stall and turns around to deal with me it's down to a quarter of its health. I take it down to the applause of millions and the grudging respect of Kotallo.

I search the elephant, find a big gun and lug it back to the Sky Clan's capitol. We fire a blast at the Bulwark, Tekotteh comes out to scoff, we fire a few more shots and a whole section of the Bulwark becomes rubble. Tekotteh starts going into, "we will rebuild," mode, sees the looks he's getting from his warriors and agrees to send some guys to the Kulrut.

It's been some time since I really talked about a game I was playing so I decided to indulge myself. It also gave me an excuse to get the convoluted politics of the game straight.

May 13, 2024