Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Thanks, game industry, for giving me the time to write this.

I'm writing this while I wait for yet more launch day downloads for Mass Effect 3 to complete. I had a similarly terrible experience when Mass Effect 2 came out (which I had bought for the PC), but this time, honestly, seems worse. Thought you could just buy a game, put the disc in your console, and play it? hahahahaha. Check it, bullet point style:

  • last week, had to spend at least an hour finishing the demo of an unrelated game (well, unrelated except that EA also published it and is hoping it can ride the coattails of the more popular Mass Effect 3) to unlock an extra weapon and armour in Mass Effect 3. [also about an hour or so to download, as it was 1.3gb or something)
  • ~10 minutes: Install game Disc 1 to Xbox hard drive (admittedly optional, but will help, in light of the next point. Also will have to install Disc 2 at some point).
  • be annoyed that half the time, the xbox doesn't properly recognize the disc or has read errors (remember, this xbox is less than a year old too!). At least since the disc is installed, it only needs to recognize it at startup, and I shouldn't have to worry about a read error mid-game causing me to lose progress or crash.
  • launch game. Go through EA's mandatory "connecting to servers" crap, and luckily get to skip some of it because I already tied my EA/Origin account that I never wanted to my Xbox Live account for Mass Effect 2. Still a few screens to click and wait through (and get connection errors from, since probably tens of thousands of other people are doing the same thing today)
  • enter 25 digit code from EA for buying a new copy (enables online play, and some extra content) (can't remember how long this download took. A few minutes.)
  • enter 25 digit code from Gamestop for pre-ordering from them (tiny download, just a license file that unlocks some content in the game)
  • enter 25 digit code from EA for the Avatar item (optional, doesn't affect gameplay) (a few megs, doesn't take long)
  • enter 25 digit code from EA for buying the Collector's Edition. 680 mb download. still going, giving me time to type this.

Holy crap, I'm glad I have the chat pad keyboard thingy for my xbox controller, if I had to enter 100 digits like that using the onscreen keyboard I would have had to throw my controller into orbit and hoped it landed on an EA executive's house.

Hey, at least this time the game has some multiplayer content to somewhat justify the online connectivity and online accounts required! Here, just for giggles, I give you the post I started to write in January 2010, when I opened the Mass Effect 2 box:

I have long been a proponent of buying games in a retail box. I like the tangible aspect of having the game manual. I particularly like "Collector's Edition" games, which generally include such bonus content as soundtrack CDs, printed maps of the game world, bundled fiction (books, comics) related to the game universe, behind-the-scenes DVDs, books of artwork, etc. I like having all of these things in a form that I can hold in my hand and read on the john.

So it was only natural that I would pre-order the Mass Effect 2 Collector's Edition. I mean, check out the features! Hardcover art book! Soundtrack CD! Issue #1 of the Mass Effect comic! woooo, sign me up!

... also apparently I was reading an outdated feature list, because it just arrived in the mail from Amazon, and there is no soundtrack CD. There is a bonus DVD though, which I don't care much about honestly. Meh. Whatever.

So anyway, here's what I get to do with my physical box+disc copy of ME2 that I couldn't do with ME1, which I bought from Steam (digital delivery service, for those who don't know).
- sign up for 2 separate online services in order to play. Yep, gotta have an EA account and a Bioware social account in order to activate all the game content. So 2 accounts, and its not even a multiplayer game. Wow.
- enter 4 (FOUR!!!!) seperate authentication codes to activate the content.
-- one to install the game
-- one to get the pre-order bonus (in-game weapon and armor) [must sign up for Bioware account for this]
-- one to get the "you didn't buy this game used" bonus (bonus content: missions, a character, items, and whatever they throw in in the future) [this one is done in-game, I think? maybe on Bioware's site?]
-- one to get the collectors edition bonus

... never finished writing the post, nor posted it, but now you know this is not a new annoyance either.

Also, I give you this image, can't remember where I found it, but it's hilarious and sadly true (if a bit outdated):

... hey I just heard my Xbox beep. Maybe I can actually play now? Ciao.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Euclid stole my thunder

I've often said that my learning style is "learn the system or rules, and then I can figure out everything else later", as opposed to some people who memorize specific results or even specific formulae. (I think the only specific thing I remember from any math class ever is an acronym "FOIL" for multiplying binomials.)

Today is an example of just how true that is, although it also makes me think that perhaps I could save myself some time by memorizing *some* formulae...

I decided [for reasons that are not relevant here] to pick a random problem from Project Euler to solve. The problem I happened to choose was #5... go check it out, I'll wait.

Starting from a blank slate, working through it in my head and writing code in C# (part of my goal was to solve it in a way that is computationally efficient), I figured out the solution. Partway through I realized that I was re-deriving basic things like "how to find the least common multiple of two numbers", and as part of that "how to find the greatest common divisor of two numbers" ... isn't that elementary school stuff?

Afterwards, I went and looked up these things to see how my results compared. On the plus side, my results are good. On the minus side, I'm 2300+ years behind the curve on being first-to-press with the Euclidean algorithm. But it only took a few hours, why did the Greeks make such a big deal of this? It isn't hard :P

Note: If you feel like commenting on this post, and you also happened to have felt like solving the problem yourself, please do not post your answer. I'd hate to end up as a cheater's search result for people who are working on the Euler problem.

Addendum to note: heh. Go search for some web calc that does least common multiples for number sets -- I tried one and it got the question wrong :) It told me "18044195" .. c'mon guys, that is not even an even number! Try harder! And use unsigned long integers in your code!

Thursday, January 5, 2012


Hey, it hasn't even been two years since my last post, and the silence is broken. It is, as of this writing, not the only thing that is broken. As usual it will fall to Randall Munroe of "xkcd" to properly illustrate the point [how does he keep illustrating my life in advance? Temporal bugs, I assume. I mean, this comic is YEARS old].

dPain over dt

you laugh to keep from crying, you do math to keep from crying...

It may interest the audience to know that I've decided not to do anything too stupid within 3 weeks of yesterday, or while intoxicated. Both of which rule out "right now".

I am wondering what exactly is the purpose of life, though. Right now I'm not seeing it, though I seem to remember points in the past where I did see it, and now I just don't know what it was that I saw. Therefore I have to assume that at some points in the future I will again see it, so I'll hold out for those moments. Isn't logic a lifesaver?*

How poorly have I been living my life to end up at a point after 32.n years where I don't even have anyone who can provide a shoulder to cry on? (within range, anyway. Yes, I have family that would gladly fill this role. You're all more than 700 miles away, and I loathe telephones. Thanks for the thought, though.). Hmm, that was probably presumptuous to use "you" as a form of address there... after a 2 year break, it is certainly possible that nobody is checking this for updates anymore... :รพ meh, whatever. I don't really care, because I think I needed to write this more than anyone needed to read it.

Maybe everybody goes through this at some point. I don't know, I started late with this whole "relationships" thing. It took me a while, and a few relationships of various lengths, but finally I'd found one where I had actually started believing that we could spend our lives together, and now that is gone. Are there valid reasons for it to end? Yes. Was the ending of it the right thing to do for both of us? Yes. Probably. I don't know. Does that make it any easier? No.

Yesterday wasn't too bad. Maybe it was too fresh, being "day-of" and all. Today had intermittent showers. Tonight is a thunderstorm. I don't even want to think about tomorrow.

*pro tip: do NOT poke holes in this logic. <Hulk>You wouldn't like me when I'm logic-hole-poked.</Hulk>

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Cake is a Lie

In case this is you:

or if you have been living under a rock for 5 years...

...you may be interested to know that you don't have to wait until 2013 to know why the cake is a lie. From now until May 24th, Valve is offering Portal for free to PC and Mac users. Get it while it's hot, people!


Seriously, go get it now. There's a good reason this game won a gajillion awards, and even if you don't think you'd like it, you should get it and try it anyway. This game probably gets the most wide personal endorsement I have ever given to a game... Yes, it is worth signing up for a free Steam account to play it (since presumably that will be required).

People with no internet connections on the computer they play games on are exempt =P

Monday, May 3, 2010

Non-swinging cats.

Alan was kind enough to look after my cats while I was on a recent trip out of town. Little did I know that he was just looking for photography subjects who work cheap! Anyway, long story short, here are a bunch of pictures he took of AC/TC :)

AC is the one with more white, and the creepy eyes.
TC is... the other one. (Larger, blacker, friendlier, but apparently harder to get to hold still for the camera).

These two are particular favorites of mine. Of course, they are all good.

Thanks, Alan! Extra special kudos for managing to get these great pics within the constraints of the cave-like lighting conditions in which I live :)

... It feels weird to see a picture of a cat without a large, white, block-lettered and misspelled caption, doesn't it?

Sunday, February 28, 2010

xkcd strikes again

Yet another moment of my life (you may remember past spreadsheets, flowcharts, etc), chronicled by the talented Randall Munroe over at xkcd.

Except he made a few factual errors, since he posted that sometime in December, and we didn't go see Avatar until today.

...please don't stab me.

Saturday, January 30, 2010


xkcd from Friday, 29 January, 2010.

alt-text caption: "On January 26th, 2213 days into its mission, NASA declared Spirit a 'stationary research station', expected to operational for several more months until the dust buildup on its solar panels forces a final shutdown."