09 January 2013

.hack revisited

I've decided that for the time being, I'm not to pick up any major game. Not only do I not have the money for a new game, but I've got a nice pile of games to finish. The year started out with finishing Assassin's Creed III and the last level of Child of Eden.

I'm going to put down the PS3 controller for a bit. No it's not to pick up the Dreamcast or Genesis (love my SEGA systems). Nope. I'm going back to PS2 to finally start a series I'd finished long ago.

Let me explain. During a rather boring Summer in high school, I went to the local movie rental / game shop. I'd seen an extended review/trailer for the .hack series as part of a demo disc (remember those?) a year or so prior, so I was intrigued already by the idea of an RPG/Anime combo.

They had .hack//Outbreak, the third in the series of four, so I grabbed it. Now, let me be perfectly frank: I was not getting into this game at all. The opening cutscene was really cool, but I was not digging the dungeons and grinding (something I have since come to love). However, this was the only game I had and it was going to be a long summer if I didn't try to get through it. A few weeks later, I'm hooked on the story, the anime that came with it, the upgrading weapons, equipping fellow party members, etc.

I continued on from that game to finish .hack//Quarantine (I can't find my copy anymore and it's $80-$150 on amazon now). I watched the prequel anime, .hack//SIGN, read the sequel manga, .hack//Legend of the Twilight aka .hack//Dusk, and enjoyed the second/third generation of .hack as well.

The one thing I never did though was to play the first and second games, Infection and Mutation. I bought them to watch the anime and complete the set (the cases lined up next to each other complete a picture of Kite riding a Noble Grunty).

A rather long winded history and explanation, but I've decided to go back and play at least the first two .hack games.

So far, I'm really impressed with the quick pacing of .hack//Infection. A lot of the really famous dialog happens within the first few hours of gameplay. Compare this to the .hack//G.U. series where the best scenes are arguably much later.

I decided to grind a bit right at the beginning, because level 1 is no fun to run through the main storied bits. I like to grind and be a little over-leveled for the dungeons that matter. There's few things more tedious than getting game over when you are just trying to get to a cutscene you know must be awaiting you at the bottom of a dungeon.

So, there’s some things that I came to recall about the game

  • Monster design - It's completely bizarre
  • There's a layer of depth to this game's story and story-within-a-s I always forget about
  • I love the dungeons, but the living one's heartbeat still creeps me out
  • fuck goblins. Seriously, always raining on your parade. I friggin hate having to carry around a bagillion antidotes when I go into dungeons.

30 July 2012

My Childhood's Games

These are all games that I played and remember very well most from elementary school days.
This isn't to say I didn't play Saturn, N64, or Playstation or earlier consoles' not listed games. I had plenty of friends with those consoles. Still, if you don't own it, you don't become intimately familiar with a game's secrets and tricks.


I barely remember these, but as a tiny guy this is what was running on the ol' DOS box. 

The Island of Dr. Brain

Duke Nukem

Commander Keen

Crystal Caves

Break Free


We didn't have consoles growing up, but It was okay since I could still play killer games and be a Sonic fan on my home computer.

Sonic CD

Sonic 3 & Knuckles

X-Wing v Tie Fighter

Tomb Raider 2

Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine

Pod racer

GameBoy Color

Of course, the great power of the Color was it's backwards compatibility, letting you enjoy both the massive libraries of original and color games. Pokémon is here twice, because both of those Pokémon generation releases were massive, important, and occupied loads of my gaming hours.

Wario Land 3

Pokémon Red

Zelda: Link's Awakening

Pokémon Gold

23 July 2012

Usefulness Philosophy of Belief

This is partially just my reaction to blanket agnosticism, or the idea that we should label ourselves as fence-sitting on subjects that are not useful to believe.
What happens when we choose our beliefs on what's useful to believe? I will examine some obvious and less-obvious examples of what I mean. You might decide on a different analysis for this and other beliefs. That's cool, it's more about the process.

This is wholly unscientific, by the way.

The Golden Rule

This is a one with horrifying counter-examples: the fail for this rule is rape.
The argument goes that one should always do unto others as one would want done to them, but a rapist usually wants their victim to have sex with THEM, so why shouldn’t they have sex with their victim?
It’s more useful to believe in the “shadow of the future”. This states that people will behave selfishly unless they are afraid of burning bridges. It’s more useful to trust someone to be afraid of consequences than that they will go against their own interests to do good.
Are some people just “good people” or “jerks”? Sure, but this is likely a product of behavioral reinforcement: Some people learn to look out for #1, others have been praised for being a nice person, and still others are trying hard not to do what another did that made them “fail” in life.
With the “shadow of the future” idea, either type of person is explained and can be prepared for.

Flat Earth

In the medieval ages there was a great case for agnosticism, it never mattered... unless you were a sailor, merchant, or fisherman with secret cod fishing banks in Nova Scotia.
It’s more useful now than ever to believe the world is round - could you imagine international flights that avoided some “edge” line?

Germ theory

It’s hands down more useful to believe in the germ theory of disease that the sin theory of disease.
Let's say your kid gets chicken pox in kindergarten. It's definitely possible that kids are natural sinners. However, it's much easier to treat illness with ramen soup and antibiotics than good behavior.

Creationism v. Progenitor Race v. Evolution

  • Creationism posits that a an omnipotent being created everything we know.
  • Progenitor theory posits that life on our planet came from extraterrestrial sources.
  • Evolution posits that the known good rules of thumb, simple things lead to complex things and things change more the more time you have, to biological diversity and a proposed chemistry/biology transition.

Evolution is more useful to many people, animal breeders, vaccine researchers, archaeologists, etc.
It also removes the extra complexity of one’s explanation causing more questions, Occam's Razor.

  • If progenitors or deities existed before life on Earth, where did they come from? 
  • If a creation deity always existed, why couldn't we say that life just always existed?

Simple chemicals led to genetic chemicals, which led to simple life, which led to complex life. Evolution is neither random nor intentional.


Free Will

It’s more useful to beleive it does exist.
  • Should we not negatively enforce or deter people for antisocial behavior?
  • Should people not be held responsible for actions?
  • Should soldiers “just follow orders”?
I argue that it doesn’t matter a single bit whether or not any person has free-will.
It is simply more useful and constructive for a society to be built on accountability for choices (though not necessarily for the options one has to choose from).
This is part of the reason it’s good we have a volunteer military, otherwise it’s proper operation would depend on it’s members not having free will.


Death is Final

More useful to believe.
If people only have one life to live:
  • Martyrdom is less attractive
  • Other people’s life is more important, too
  • Mourning involves actually accepting the loss
  • It empowers you to improve your life now, not accepting bad things for a “future reward”

Also, the comfort argument for usefulness isn't necessary if you take on a certain mindset, like Mark Twain.

"I was dead for millions of years before I was born and it never inconvenienced me a bit."
-Mark Twain


This is actually a tough choice.
Real studies have shown us two things.

  1. Praying for something like the health of a patient won't work.
  2. Wishing for more 1’s in a random number generator actually works.

So perhaps it says that what religions say will happen at a macro scale is really an allegory of what quantum and string theories show happen at a microscopic level.

Useful course of action: wish for things, but don’t waste your time directing it towards a deity.

Remember, take everything with a grain of salt and a lot of thought. 
I'm just not sure I've found a case where sitting on the fence was better.

The best action isn't often inaction.

Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Waterson

22 July 2012

Simplicity & Beautify for KDE

A few people are of the opinion that KDE user experiences have become complicated. Too much emphasis on developer ideas and not what it means to the user.
So, I've got a couple ideas for simplification, without loosing ability.

System Settings

This is what  it currently looks like. There are two "Appearance and Behavior" sections. Also, there are too many options you'll never click.

This is my proposal.
Let's put all the personal options: IM, Account Details, and Personal Info into one place.
Let's break out passwords so that it's obvious we can control our passwords.
I'd pull out certain things and combine others in all areas; but I've not proposed any KCM be removed although I can't place Information Sources.
Most of the Network and Connectivity section can be rolled up into a Network item.


This is the current shutdown dialog. Note the options we already have chosen from. These three options are severely redundant and a bit confusing.
The other thing that felt out of place to me was the moon. Are we saying good night? It feels part of an astrological theme I wasn't aware I'd set my computer to. 

However, I like the countdown attached to the "Are you sure?" dialog.
Also, It's not clear in the slightest what exactly those down arrows do. It requires you to hold the button down to open the menu. This is very bad design for such a button. If you don't immediately figure out how to get the menu to open, you have to wait for your computer to shutdown and reboot in order to try again.

Notice the simplified OS selection, like GRUB (v2) currently does. Advanced OS options are best left to the user to choose in the bootloader itself.

You may have noticed I've used widgets, this is not for any reason other than the fact that I know how to use Qt Designer and not Plasmate.