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


A Question About Windows 11

Microsoft is rolling out Window 11 and I'm sure they're hoping that it will be widely adopted, that's why the whole thing with TPM 2 puzzles me. TPM stands for Trusted Platform Module and it's on a chip that's on newer motherboards, If you bought a new motherboard or computer during the last few years, you have it. But the chip is disabled by default so while a lot of people have the capacity to run TPM 2, very few of them are actually doing that.

Back in the 80s and 90s if you were going to have a personal computer you either had to learn the intricacies of DOS or have a Wizard who'd keep your box running, but that's not the case anymore, not for the average user. In fact, it's quite possible to have a computer for years without ever looking under the hood. So I'm thinking that expecting an average user to follow instructions like this to turn on TPM 2 is asking a lot.

My new motherboard arrived this summer and I had to turn on TPM 2 so I'm guessing that outside of a corporate environment most people using computers can't run Window 11 right now.

Look, simpler is better. You don't see TV repair shops anymore because modern televisions don't need to be repaired. Computers aren't at that level yet but you don't need to mess around with things like the BIOS to keep them working. Maybe I'm being pessimistic and Windows 11 will be a success from the get go, but I wouldn't be surprised if they ditched the TPM 2 requirement sometime next year.

October 17, 2021


Deathloop

My game completion streak has ended at nine games, I finally gave in and took Deathloop off my system. I'm afraid that I found it boring, painfully boring. Perhaps if I were better at its mechanisms I'd feel differently but I'm not and since there's no real save system I ended up going over the same sequences over and over again. I play games to lower my blood pressure, not to raise it.

I haven't deleted the folder where Deathloop saves your progress between sessions, I might get bored enough to put it back on Kosh someday. But for right now I'm glad to see the back of it.

October 16, 2021


The Lucifer Variations

In The Sandman Neil Gaiman introduced Lucifer as an antagonist for Dream of the Endless, Morpheus to his friends. Gaiman told the artist, Sam Kieth, to draw Lucifer as David Bowie:

After The Sandman ended, Lucifer got his own book, Lucifer, written by Mike Carey. Here's how he looked there in a cover by Peter Gross:

Then Lucifer got a television show, Lucifer. It had only a nodding acquaintance with Gaiman's version of the character but was still fun to watch.

Netflix is bringing The Sandman to television next year, Gwendoline Christie is playing Lucifer:

So there you have it, four versions of the same character, Christie's version will be as close to Gaiman's conception as it's possible to get.

October 16, 2021


Time Millionaires

Time millionaires: meet the people pursuing the pleasure of leisure. The tl;dr version is that some folks are leaving high playing but stressful jobs for lower paying jobs that offer them more leisure time and less stress.

October 16, 2021


Waiting for the Exterminator

Some kind of bird got into the ductwork the other day. It's gone but I'm having an exterminator take a look.

October 14, 2021


New Rule

I must never answer texts with my computer glasses on.

October 14, 2021


Early Morning Computer Fun

It's two in the morning and I just got Kosh starting up the way I like him to start up after a two hour detour. Not really a big thing but I haven't had to mess about with the operating system in many years.

I downloaded a little utility from Microsoft to see if Kosh could run Windows 11, he can't but that's another story. To use the utility I had to log into Microsoft with a user name and password. There were other options but it allowed me to use my Skype information to log in. The next time I started Kosh I had to put in my Skype credentials, MS made a brand new administrator account with my Skype login. Since admin accounts have to have a password and I've never passworded Kosh I was kind of pissed. After about two hours of fumbling I was able to fix that by starting Kosh with a local, unpassworded account called Kosh. It's a little thing I know but I live with a cat and don't want to sign in with a password each time I boot up the computer. And the moral victory here is that I didn't have to call Rolf up about the problem. Go team alChandler.

By the way, did you know that alChandler is 41 year old? I created him for a Dungeons and Dragons game in 1980. Damn.

October 14, 2021


Deathloop

In Deathloop you play as Colt, a man trying to break free of a time loop. In order to do so you have to kill eight visionaries on Blackreef Island in a 24 hour period. If you fail, or die more then three times, then the loop resets. You can use stealth or simply run and gun, picking up powers along the way. I'm still playing the game but I haven't posted anything in awhile because I find it boring. If there was another single player game out there that piqued my interest I'd give up on Deathloop but there isn't one so I'm still dipping into the game from time to time but I can't recommend it.

A lot of people are loving the game and that's great, I don't want to see a project fail. But I get the impression that they're better at games then I am. There's no save feature, just the three death mechanic, the result is that I have to go play sections over and over again.

Not going to lie, I have fun from time to time but by and large I'm disappointed with it.

October 13, 2021


Easy Reading

This year I read three dry, 800 page histories. They were good for me but I resolved to indulge myself for the rest of 2021. So over the last three days I've read four books by Michael Moorcock featuring his hero Corum Silverhand. As Moorcock goes, I've read better but it was just what I needed. I don't have to spend a lot of time on Corum's motivations. He's like, "Oh woe is me, my people are dead and I am in despair. But wait! What is this, a fight? Fucking awesome!" I may just continue this way and reread his Von Beck series. Or perhaps not, I don't have to decide right now, I still have two Corum novels to go.

October 12, 2021


Transmogrification

I've played World of Warcraft for a long time now and when the game added a way of changing the look of your armor, called transmogrification, I resisted. The process doesn't change the stats on your stuff, just its appearance. Never the less I stuck with my armor's boring look as a point of pride. Moon on the other hand changed her look quite frequently. Yesterday I decided to experiment with transmogrification, went to a shop and ended up looking like this. I'm on the left, Moon's on my right.

So there you go, I look like a badass until you see me in combat.

October 8, 2021


Down the Rabbit Hole

The other night I watched a movie I loved as a kid, The Seven Faces of Doctor Lao. It was based on a 1935 novel, The Circus of Doctor Lao, by Charles Finney. I came to the movie first and the book much later. The movie stars Tony Randall is the Chinese magician Doctor Lao, because white guys were cast as Asians back then. Lao has a little carnival with attractions like Merlin, Pan and Apollonius of Tyana. In the book Lao's attractions were real but in the movie it's clear that Lao is playing all the attractions himself.

At a certain point a woman goes to see the fortune teller, Apollonius of Tyana. Poor Apollonius is blind and as I watched that part of the movie it hit me that Apollonius was a real person and wasn't blind. So I dug up Finney's book and sure enough, Apollonious was there and he could see. Apollonius lived in the first century CE and was a was a Greek Neopythagorean philosopher. He also performed miracles, there was a lot of that going around back then. In the third century Philostratus the Elder wrote a biography of Apollonius and a translation was available for Kindle for a couple of dollars. I picked that up and did a search for a prophet who I knew was blind, Tiresias. Tiresias was a guy who found two snakes having sex. He whacked them with a stick and to teach him a lesson, the goddess Hera changed him into a woman. So, Tiresias became a priestess of Hera, married and had kids. Years late Tiresias came upon another snake couple and this time she let them be. And so her penance was over and Hera changed her back.

Later still Hera and Zeus were arguing about who enjoyed sex more, men or women. Zeus insisted it was women and Hera claimed it was men. Since Tiresias had been a man and a woman, they asked him to rule and Tiresias said that, "Of ten parts a man enjoys one only." That pissed off Hera and she blinded him. Since no god could undo the action of another god, Zeus couldn't restore Tiresias' sight but he did give him the gift of prophesy by was of compensation. There are other versions of how Tiresias became blind but that's the one I read first.

But Apollonius wasn't blind, nor was he blind in Finney's book. As to why he was blind in the movie, well George Pal the director is dead, Charles Beaumont the screenwriter is dead and for that matter, Tony Randall is dead, so no answers there. I imagine they just thought a blind Apollonius was cooler. As for me, Philostratus' biography is short and I'll get around to reading it sometime this year.

As to The Seven Faces of Doctor Lao, it really doesn't hold up but I have a sentimental attachment to it. Weakness of age and all that.

October 6, 2021


Beer Night Gaming

I played some Warcraft with Marie, then I fired up Deathloop a game I really have mixed emotions about. The game's mechanic is that you leave your tunnels, interact with the world, explore and kill stuff. You can gather loot but if you want to keep it you have to make your way to your tunnel and hope you have enough residuum to infuse the stuff you want to keep. If you do then the items will be available to you when the world loops, if not they're gone. I hate this mechanic, given my skill level quick save is my friend.

But today was Beer Night so I entered one of the scary places on the island, the fortress of a visionary named Fia Zborowska. She's having an affair with Charlie Montague and if I wanted to kill them both at their private place I had to find four pictograms in her fortress, kill her (she'll be fine next loop) and prevent her people from blowing up her reactor in a last ditch defense effort.

This was the third attempt, I entered her area at dawn and did enough to attract my nemesis, Julianna. I killed her and while she can respawn on another part of the island, she can't respawn of Fia's turf. I went back in the afternoon and chose teleport and invisibility as my two powers. Previously I had tried shooting my way through her fortress but that ended up triggering the detonation. This time I turned invisible and took down her guards one by one. Eventually I made my way to her chamber, killed her and then searched for her pictograms. I'm not a visual person and even with net I had a hard time finding them.

But find them I did, it took over an hour of searching her now deserted fortress. I made my way back to my tunnels and called it.

I've played a lot of stealth games but I always had quick save as my buddy, this run was frustrating as hell but I must admit to a certain satisfaction at having pulled it off. The game was up front about its mechanics but until I played I didn't realize how frustrating they'd be for me. For a lot of people Deathloop is a short game but I'm 40+ hours into it and I'm not even close to the end. I may not finish this game but if I can pull off killing Charlie and Fia it will be a personal victory. But I'm still not sure if I like this game, if that makes any sense. Meanwhile, now that I have the four pictograms I can use them to to enter their trysting spot. But not tonight.

October 1, 2021


Newton Turns Eight

If we were characters in Peter Jackson's LotR movies, he'd be Sam and I'd be Radagast, the lug and the eccentric. It works, surprisingly.

September 30, 2021


Julianna

My character, Colt, is on the right. My frenemy, Julianna, is on the left. I'm trying to kill all eight visionaries in one day to break the time loop I'm caught up in, while Julianna is trying to keep them alive. Julianna likes the defacto immortality the time loop gives her.

There are three setting for Julianna. You can allow total strangers to take control of Julianna and pop into your games, you can restrict the folks who can play as Julianna to people on your friends list, or you can restrict anyone from taking control of Julianna and the game's AI will handle her. To be honest, AI Julianna isn't the most formidable opponent I ever faced but since most players are better then I am, AI Julianna it is. Never the less she had one good moment.

When Julianna appears in your game the exits to your tunnels are locked. If you succeed in killing her you have to make your way to a radio transmitter to unlock them. I had killed Julianna, looted her corpse, found my way to the radio, sent the signal and was on my way to my tunnel. I walked up to the entrance and blew up. She had placed a mine in front of my entrance. Well done indeed.

September 26, 2021


The Sandman

In 1989 Donna Lea was on jury duty in Mays Landing. On her lunch break she went across the street to a comic book store called Fantasy Factory and picked up the first issue of Sandman as a present for me. I was hooked instantly.

The Sandman was written by Neil Gaiman and is about Dream of the Endless. There are seven Endless and they are all personifications of the force that they control. In the first issue Dream, in a weakened state, is captured by a sorcerer and held prisoner for decades. I'm tempted to blather on about this but all you really need to know is that Netflix is turning Gaiman's work into a show, Gaiman is one of the writers and the first teaser trailer is out.

The show will probably drop early next year.

September 25, 2021


Yahtzee Reviews Deathloop

Reviewers have been almost universally kind to Deathloop. To balance the scales a bit, over at the Escapist Yahtzee panned the game.

September 24, 2021