Thursday, December 8, 2011

Some stuff I wasted money on

Picture Unrelated
Hi everyone! Sorry, gotta bang this one out (HA HA HA HA HA) real quick, but I wanted to blurb about some toys I bought recently, so if you don't really care about toys, then go turn yourself into the police right now for MURDERING YOUR INNER CHILD.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

You've got to rescue the DARPA Chief oops oh well

Picture Unrelated
Warning: the following is purely a rant. There is nothing insightful or informative about this post. Consider this a stream of rage that was too long for Twitter to contain.

I remember the moment when I had determined that a certain friend of mine had sworn off his status of "power user" level computer literacy for good. We were at a New Year's Eve party where one of the tenants at the host's apartment was trying to play Halo 2 online or something, but couldn't seem to connect to Live. He had temporarily abandoned his efforts to get the thing working and left the Xbox on the network configuration menu. My friend, let's call him Roy, made some crack about the subnet mask being wrong, as though it was element of quantum mechanical apocrypha that only a Grade A supergeek would care about, and further insisted that he was glad he "got out of computers."

I was a little taken aback by that although it shouldn't have been any huge surprise. We had both been pretty computer adept in high school and had both taken courses for Cisco certification. Then he realized that life would be easier if he went to India to study medicine, with tuition, boarding, and bills all covered by his parents' dime and access to all the marijuana one could possibly want to consume. I, on the other hand, had gone to a four year college, lucky enough to get by mostly on scholarships and part-time jobs, where I dropped out of computer science because I found it too hard and eventually graduated with a bachelor's in broadcast production, which aside from all the required media law and theory courses, imparts one with a skillset that I posit is sufficiently obtained after no more than a high school education. Anyway, I asked Roy, "When did this happen? Why the backlash against computers?" "Cisco made me realize that I hated this stuff."

Today I find myself in a similar mindset. Not quite in the same vein of realizing that I hated a certification course for operation of a single company's IT hardware, a certification which I did eventually complete and never utilized despite interviewing for several jobs in the field. Nor am I filled with a particular attitude of voluntary ignorance, a "when am I ever gonna use this stuff?" stance such as one has when told he must solve for X or remember that a man named Martin Van Buren was once president. No, I literally hate my shitty Cisco Linksys router and feel like backing over it with a truck.

I moved into where I live now with a cruddy old 2005 Dell and a D.Link router that I "inherited" from a former co-tenant, and that was all I needed. I didn't really even need a router, other than for firewall protection, until I got a PlayStation (I love how spellcheck doesn't like it when you don't capitalize the S) 3, and I only played Street Fighter IV and Warhawk once each on that setup.

Later I ditched the Dell and got a Macbook Pro, kept the old router and simply added a TrendNET wireless access point. And that was fine. I could set up WPA2 encryption or block unwanted MAC addresses from either the WAP or the router, still do DHCP, whatever. Signal strength wasn't great in all parts of the house, but I attributed that to brick walls.

Then on some indeterminate holiday I saw that Radio Shack had a Linksys WRT120N on sale for $50. It had draft N and gigabit ethernet, so it seemed like too good a deal to pass up. The D.Link was from 2002 and I knew it couldn't last forever, so I hooked up the Linksys in my house and relegated the D.Link + WAP setup to my parents' house, where the most computer usage that ever gets done is if one of their children should come to visit. And that was fine. I had less junk to deal with myself and didn't have to fool with swapping cables if I wanted to take my laptop to their place.

Then I built the Ragequit_9000 (my current rig for those who aren't superfans of my insightful and regularly updated blog), and here's where things start getting screwy. I hadn't intended to house the computer in the same room with the router and cable modem, so I bought a USB wireless adapter. That worked fine for a while, until I tried to seriously play games online and realized that the damn thing would disconnect me seemingly at random. One day I decided that I had had enough, chunked the wireless adapter in a bin somewhere, crimped some Cat6 cables that my workplace was going to just throw out, and somewhat inelegantly wired up the devices in my house that would accept it. And that was fine. For a while. During this time I regularly enjoyed bouts of Phantasy Star Online: Blue Burst and Hard Corps: Uprising in stable, reliable wired glory. Until my connections started flapping again, not just on the PC this time, but also the PS3. So I disconnected the Linksys, took the old D.Link back from my parents' house, and went back to the old setup. Connection flapping was gone.

I kept on with this setup for several months, by some weird coincidence not playing games online at all, unaware that anything was fundamentally wrong with this setup. I had to remap some ports for torrent programs and the like, but otherwise it was all good. Up until I tried to play PS3 games online and somehow couldn't connect to any games in three separate programs. Naked on the cable modem, they worked fine. Attempts to map ports by range on the router yielded no results. I'm not sure if it's even possible or not, short of making an individual entry for every single port, but I do know that the configuration interface on that almost-decade-old model is archaic and confusing as shit. Maybe it simply is too old, or apparently what was good enough for Warhawk isn't good enough for Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker.

So I hooked the Linksys back up, forwarded the port ranges that I'm told the PSN uses, connected to and played a Peace Walker game with some random guy, and everything was great. Until those damn connections started flapping again. At seeming random, PSN, mIRC, Trillian, or whatever I have up that requires a constant connection will drop connection. I'll look at the Windows 7 systray, and sure enough, there's a little red X on that thing that looks like a computer monitor wielding a pitchfork. Router logs show DHCP requests galore. While typing this, I had solid connections for what seemed like a good 45 minutes until, just to add another variable, I tried to search for open games in Hard Corps: Uprising, and it picked that particular moment for everything to come crashing down. If networking devices were capable of the human concept of trolling, this would be a good example. I've updated firmware, to no avail, and the only thing else I can think to try is static IPv4 setup on all my devices, then once again sitting around like a doofus and waiting for the connection to flap again (EDIT:: didn't work lol). Still, it looks like I may have to buy a new router.

MORE EDIT FUN:: So I took a trip to Best Buy, thinking it best to at least check out the local options before ordering something. I went in with the mindset that I wanted gigabit ethernet and didn't really care what wireless features I was or wasn't getting. I was also armed with and iPhone so as to punch the SKU for any particular router I was looking at into Newegg and give a quick glance to the user ratings. This experience only served to confuse and infuriate me more. Apparently gigabit ethernet, which I had assumed standard based on my WRT120N purchase years before, is now phased out of all but the most expensive pricing tiers, which includes models usually saddled with things I don't need like Double-fisting 600N Wireless and USB NAS support. I also learned that Belkin routers have really mediocre online reviews. So eventually I decided (with a little friendly suggestion and Newegg review peer-pressure) to order a WRT54GL from Amazon. In effect I'm forgoing gigabit ethernet and 802.11n, which I doubt I'll miss at all. If the 54 is as solid as they say, I'm happy not having to break the bank on a higher-end Netgear.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Review: Green Lantern

Why do I need an image anyway
Before I talk about Green Lantern, there's another review I want to get out of the way real quick.

Review: The People in the Theater Where I Saw Green Lantern

Guy who repeated the lines verbatim for the "don't talk during the movie" PSA - I thought this character was artificially trying to sell the effectiveness of the PSA, kind of a disingenuous attempt to make the audience relate to it and seem like only "cool" audience members get the joke. If the spot's producers and whatever cellular provider was sponsoring it (advertising is effective!) had any faith in the script whatsoever, this character wouldn't have any reason to exist. It was like watching a post-Waterboy Adam Sandler movie where all the characters are in on the joke, just not the viewer.

Middle-aged couple who kept getting up during the movie - Look, I get it. You're old and you have to pee a lot. But anyone cast in a bit role like this probably needs to realize that they should sit on the end of the aisle. Some of us don't have the benefit of stunt doubles who also happen to be Cirque du Soleil contortionists. There's only so much room we can give you while your fat ass waddles past our seats.

Guy who kept explaining the comic books to his date - I guess it goes to show Hollywood's pandering to the lowest common denominator (or unwillingness to reward viewers who pay attention) that they felt the need to include an expository character like this. Having played this role in my movie-going career before, I understand what a thankless part this can be, which reinforces my belief that this trope needs to be jettisoned altogether. I don't think your average theater patron is going to care who Guy Gardner is, and if they do, they probably aren't going to have sex with you.

Kid who kept kicking the back of my seat - Must be some new force-feedback technology that we were being test-marketed for. The effect seemed to only come at random intervals, so it didn't really help with the immersion, if that was the intention.

Overall: F+

Oh yeah, there was a movie in there too, wasn't there?

Saturday, May 14, 2011

This post was dubbed in Canada

I started collecting anime when I got some Robotech VHS tapes around the time I was in middle school. Being at the mercy of parental transportation and no steady income outside of a meager allowance, however, I didn't really begin collecting in earnest until I got a car and a job. Over the years, though, I sold off or traded a lot of it, and thanks to losing interest in the medium at the time, it was my intention to sell off the vast majority of it when I finished college. For various reasons, I didn't get around to selling most of it, so the remains of my anime collection has been collecting dust in a closet for the past four years. Since I've been steadily getting back into watching again, I exhumed a few boxed sets from their tomb which I may or may not re-watch in the near future.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Top Ten Over-the-Top Theme Songs

I just wanted to use this image.
Theme songs and intro animations for nerdy kid's action shows and cartoons usually had to be loud, flashy, and bombastic to capture the attention of our ADD-addled brains. Even after we had forgotten the vapid plots and our parents had gotten rid of our action figures in a yard sale, usually the theme songs managed to stick with us. Generally the audio component of such show openers could never be considered bastions of good taste, true, but there were some that transcended the over-the-top quality so prevalent in the medium. These are the kinds of songs that you, to this day, secretly think are kind of awesome, but you would be embarassed if anyone else heard you listening to them. Here are ten songs that I think are the pinnacle of overly-bombastic intros. I tend to shy away from the obvious nostalgic choices, or crap that falls into the jaded motif of our generation's propensity to like things "ironically." Hell, for a lot of these, I barely spent much time with the products themselves, and found the theme songs to be entertaining enough not to require further viewing. These are ranked on an arbitrary scale of memorability, over-the-topness, and cheese factor that can't be rationalized and quantified because honestly I just kind of stuck these in random order.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Birdy Flash, or whatever her catchphrase is

Birdy the Mighty: Decode 1 and 2 have been on Netflix instant for a little while now, but I didn't even know there was a 90's Birdy OVA until just after wrapping up Decode about a week ago. I think it's worth a watch just to compare differences between it and the reboot, and at four parts, it's not a very hefty investment. As a teaser for the Decode review I'm working on, I thought I'd give some quick impressions of the OVA. Note that this will contain minor spoilers, for the OVA and possibly Decode.