Archive for November 2013

Picked this up cheap in the Steam sale. On the one hand, it’s another zombie game, but, on the other, it does a lot of things right. It’s less about killing zombies (e.g. Left For Dead) than surviving the zombies, by collecting survivors, building a base and keeping them alive. It also has permadeath, where any of the characters in the game can die; that’s not as bad as it sounds, because you can switch to another character, but you’ve lost any progress you made before that point.

However, at the same time, it is horribly flawed. The most obvious is the control system, which is designed for people with tentacles. For example, by default the ‘execute’ key to kill a zombie on the ground is ‘Z’, and I would need triple-jointed fingers when my hands are already on WASD to move. There are just too many keys, and they’re counter-intuitive; for another example, you press Tab to open the inventory/status menus, but you have to press Escape to get back out, pressing Tab again switches to the next screen.

I’m only about an hour and half in so far. More as I have time to play it.

So, I’ve been trying to register an account on a web site I won’t name. I keep trying, I keep entering the details, and, when I go to register, it keeps saying:

“Sorry, there has been a problem with your registration.”

Yeah, and?

There’s been a problem. You know what the problem is. I have absolutely no idea what the problem is. WHY DON’T YOU TELL ME WHAT THE PROBLEM IS?

How am I supposed to fix ‘a problem’ if your error doesn’t tell me what it is?

I did eventually figure it out: what the site meant is ‘we can’t register you at that email address, because you already have an account that you registered here using that email address years ago.’

Why couldn’t it tell me that? What kind of company unleashes such a crappy web site on the world without testing the simplest of issues?

Rhythmbox has broken pause sometime in the last few months. Now, any time I pause and then try to start again, it just keeps jumping onto new songs without playing anything.

Anyone know what broke it, and how to fix that?

As Chekhov said: If you hang a scythe in the barn in act one, it should stab something through the head in act two.

Well into the second act now in NaNoWriMo at around 33,000 words. I’m busy splitting the characters up, one is dead, one is badly wounded, several are mildly so, and the werewolf fetishist makeup girl has got some action.

Now 71% of the way through; had to take a break from writing last night and cleared out a lot of the missions and activities I hadn’t yet done.

I have to say, some of them are much more difficult and annoying than others. I could happily never do the Rift racing activities ever again, and the Genki telekinesis activities are nowhere near as fun as the old Genki games in SR3.

The worst part, though, is that I suddenly ran into a limit on the number of save games. I have a 3TB disk with nearly 1TB free, yet the game won’t let me save more than about fifty times. It’s an insane limit that’s probably carried over from crappy consoles.

I was updating my Xbmc machine, which we use to play videos recorded by MythTV. Running apt-get kept complaining that it was out of disk space, yet ‘df’ showed there was plenty on every partition.

Turns out that’s because it’s lying. It’s not out of disk space, it’s out of inodes. For some reason it’s not cleaning up old kernels, and is leaving the kernel headers in /usr/src. That’s a staggering number of tiny files that eat up inodes much faster than they eat up disk space.

So, if you see this error, you need to remove old kernels and headers to clean up space.

Fake script

Horror Movie cover

I’m busy writing the new version of Horror Movie for NaNoWriMo. I think I’m going to rewrite the original later, and release it as Horror Movie 2: The Sequel; I like the characters too much to abandon them, but it’s more of a comedy than a bloody, rip-your-throat-out horror.

Cover still needs some work, too.

How can you win a war when you can’t define what winning means?

I’ve been reading Losing Small Wars, and, recently, a thread on a web forum where people, many of them British military, were arguing about the British Army in Afghanistan and how they should stay there until they win, etc.

The problem is that no-one has ever been able to explain what ‘winning’ there would mean, in any sense that could actually be achieved.

In the Falklands, it was easy: throw out the Argentinian military and return the islands to British control. In the first Gulf War, throw the Iraqi forces out of Kuwait and return it to the Kuwaiti government.

Even the initial invasion of Afghanistan made sense: capture or kill bin Laden, and kick al Qaeda’s ass. But they let bin Laden get away, yet they still couldn’t manage to leave. Rather than withdraw most troops and send in Special Forces to hunt down the remnants of al Qaeda, they switched to ‘nation building’.

Every suggested definition of winning since seems to pretty much come down to turning Afghanistan into Surrey, which makes about as much sense as trying to turn Surrey into Afghanistan. Given the British government’s attempts over the last couple of decades to turn Britain into an Islamic state, the latter might actually happen, but first you’d have to get rid of those annoying British people in Surrey who don’t much like Sharia law. Similarly, turning Afghanistan into Surrey would be possible, but only by getting rid of those annoying Afghans who don’t want to be Western liberals. I guess the ideal solution would be to do a swap, with the Afghans moving to Surrey and the Surreyans moving to Afghanistan; then everyone could be happy.

I finally watched this old British fake documentary from the 1970s, telling a story of the coming global catastrophe which had lead governments to build a base on Mars to sustain some members of the human race. It’s been a stable of wacky conspiracy theories for years, even though it was admitted as fake at the time.

I don’t remember seeing it on TV when first shown, it was probably too late in the evening for my parents to let me stay up to see it. I can see how the ‘low information’ viewers could well have been fooled. It looks like a real documentary of that era, and goes to some lengths to make the footage look real, but the use of actors rather spoiled it for me; I’m sure I’ve seen the lady in the first scene in other shows, and Shane Rimmer from Thunderbirds and other Gerry Anderson shows plays a major part as an Apollo astronaut who never existed. At least, in this one, he got Miss Norwich as his buxom blonde wife.

Not something I’d pay a lot of money for, but an interesting historical artefact for a few bucks from Amazon.

I realized the other day that zombies are really a metaphor for Marxists; they come into your world, eat your friends’ brains, and turn them into mindless drones who want nothing more than to make you one of them for their own greedy ends.