Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Re: 80710A06

On one note, I was wrong. Netflix wasn't blocked by not being able to sign in (though I did get regular interruptions where it was trying to sign me in).

On another note, all my personal data has been lost by Sony. To any identity thieves out there: you can have my identity, I hardly want it myself. If you happen to come across the identity of someone awesome, say who owns an island and has no need for a job, can you send it my way?

What will I be doing tonight? Keeping a watchful eye on my credit card and changing all my passwords...

Monday, April 25, 2011

80710A06

So for those not paying attention (also those having no reason to care), right now PlayStation Network (PSN) is down, and has been for many days. PSN is how PlayStations verify themselves to Sony, allowing online play and other connected functionality. Now, anyone who has a PS3 has probably run into a standard maintenance shutdown of PSN anyways. It happens, you live with it. Only it's not down due to any technical issues; this time it was attacked. (Rumor mill is anonymous, but that's just rumor, who knows?)

Personally, this doesn't get in my way much. I don't normally play video games online anyways. But I do still use it for one major thing: Netflix. That's right, these jerks have made me watching Netflix on my TV a bit more difficult, and that shall not stand. After all, what am I without my leisure time.

[caption id="attachment_691" align="alignright" width="191" caption="You may take our lives, but you may never take ... OUR LEISURE!"][/caption]

Now, I'm not saying that Sony isn't stupid for tying Netflix to a PSN account. After all, I can still use the browser. It could be some business deal which ties Netflix's hands though, licensing and such. Really, I'm just getting to the point that I'm not a fan of Sony themselves.

But I simply don't understand this. There's no way to profit from this attack. (Maybe make Sony lose face and try to short-sell some stock?) Revenge doesn't really fit. If anything, it's just an annoyance to the general public. As part of that general public, I take offense.

The attackers of this, just know, I'm putting you on notice. No one attacks my leisure time and gets away scot free. I've given a good 5 minutes towards damning you. So, take that. Yeah, not much you can do about it, is there? How's that feel? Jerks.

Meanwhile, I guess I can go outside and do something in the blinding sunlight...

Friday, April 22, 2011

Trust me, I'm the Doctor

Doctor Who

Part 3 of 3, finally reaching the latest season: The Eleventh Doctor.

David Tennant had a spectacular run, but at The End of Time, he had to go. So series 5 brings a new Doctor, played by Matt Smith, a new Tardis, and a brand new pace to the series.

At first I was skeptical because of the tone-change from series 4 to 5. At first, series 5 feels much much lighter than the others, especially in production design. But as you watch it, you realize that's purely on the surface. The show as a whole still has a solid undercurrent of heavier themes which continue to lend to its credibility. The only part that changed is the light touch they apply, which makes the deep and heavy moments seem even stronger than before.

The music is still top-notch: new title music made of the standard theme, but opening with a somewhat darker fanfare. Some more outstanding themes for monsters like the vampires of Venice and the Silurians*. And then there's the new Doctor theme itself, "I am the Doctor", predominately featured right at the end of the series premiere.

And the writing still maintains the good Doctor Who pace and fare. Entertaining and light most of the time, powerful and deep when it needs to be. This series, the Doctor gives multiple unforgettable speeches. I can think of three off-hand (not only thought of, but linked/embedded in this post! You're welcome!)

If you still don't believe me, check this out. A great scene showing off the writing, music, and grandness of the show:


Interesting side-note: the track in that video is called "Words Win Wars", how apropos for the Doctor.

If you liked that, I suggest you check out this as well.

If you're not sold on Doctor Who, then I am convinced something has broken your ability to listen to reason. Because no one should be able to deny how awesome this show truly is (at least among those who've seen it).

And wait, what's this? That's right, I waited till today to post this, because Doctor Who is back! Series 6 premieres tonight on BBC America!

* Haha! I just realized I'd put "Salarians".  No, Doctor Who and Mass Effect are not the same thing.  Have to keep reminding myself of that.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

HUGE SUCCESS

PortalFor those who have been living under a rock, four years ago Valve released a game called Portal. This game was groundbreaking: a mind-bending First Person Puzzler, all centered around the idea of creating portals connecting two points in space.

But Valve didn't stop there. The game was already new and fresh, but they decided to sprinkle in an interesting story, one which fits our mute hero well. It's very difficult to create a story which requires next-to-zero interaction from the protagonist rather than just moving forward, but they managed it. The whole time in the "testing environment", a disembodied voice gives hints, help, and provides comic relief. Only to pull the twist once you reach the end: the cake is a lie.

That disembodied voice isn't so disembodied as you thought, and it turns out she's a passive-aggressive machine bent on testing subjects for her own amusement (when she's not releasing deadly neurotoxin).

All in all, the puzzles stay fresh, and then applying them outside of the standard environment makes the final areas memorable. I recently re-played the game and still enjoyed it thoroughly.

Of course, the real reason for this post: now there's a Portal 2! So much science to do, so little time.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

A Really Long Satuday

Get A Clue
For the past seven years I've taken part in an (unaffiliated) Georgia Tech Band tradition: Get A Clue.

What is Get A Clue (or GAC, as we in the know call it)? Well, it's a day filled with reckless driving, possible trespassing, and some intellectual pursuits thrown in for the hell of it. I believe the proper term is that it's a "Treasure Hunt" game: Get Clue, Solve, Find Location, Lather, Rinse, Repeat. The trick is that the locations can be anywhere within a 40 mile radius of Georgia Tech campus. Also, it starts at about 9 AM on a Saturday, and you'll be lucky to be done by midnight (this year, we didn't finish till 3 AM).

What do you win? First place gets...

*drumroll please*

To run the game next year!

Second place is "The Real Winners"; they're team smart enough to beat everyone else and also ensure they don't have to run next year's game! It's a coveted position, the running for which causes the accidental first place (no one wants to come in last, even if it is for nothing).

Why do it? It's just great fun. Spend a day with friends driving around the city solving clues. Sure, those friends rarely do it a second year in a row (and those who do forget how long of a Saturday it really is). But once you get going, you wonder why you don't do this everyday? And then once you pass around 11 PM, you remember just how tired you get when you've been solving clues all day and have who-knows-how-many left to go.

The other part of the fun are the yearly themes. I've played it with themes ranging from "Atlanta Zombie Apocalypse" to "Where in Atlanta is Carmen Sandiego?" to even "Corporate Espionage". I stole the image at the top of this post from this year's theme: "CSI: Atlanta", complete with tracking down the notorious "cereal killer". Yes, that's right, all victims were dressed up as cereal mascots, including the hooker ("When they're dead, they're just hookers") in Las Vegas dressed up as a bunny while turning tricks (get it?).

Was returning to Atlanta for a weekend to do this worth my time? Probably not, given how busy I was. Did I enjoy it anyways? Hell yes. And made sure I got to see all my friends and family while there as well. Good trip, will have to do it again next year.

P.S. Talk about Scheduler keeping me on my toes, it keeps reposting this even though I never wrote it...

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

W√ľnderbarCon

I've finally passed fully into nerdom: I have attended a comic book convention.

Last week, a coworker pointed out that WonderCon was that weekend and that we should all go. I could come up with all sorts of excuses to try and save face, such as "he had a gun to my head" or "he threatened to punt a puppy" or "he would make a baby cry", but those would all be lies. I went along out of sheer curiosity.

For those not in the know (also, myself before I went), WonderCon is run by the same group as ComicCon, and it's basically the same. It's just smaller and not quite as many people dress up. I of course went in my standard button down shirt and shorts (a Vasili classic). I now think I should've worn my "Vasili Says No" shirt, but I haven't even tested that on my coworkers yet. (btw, since I know you're reading this, we need to update it)

So, it was a fun day filled with amazement at all the awesome costumes (and some not so awesome), the hilarious booths, searching for good book deals, and stumbling across interesting art. I found some really interesting cheap stuff, like cells from Pink Panther which'd make a good wall decoration. Other not so cheap knock-offs, and some authentic items which were out of my price range.

Of course, the best part of the day: getting my picture with Richard Kiel. The other actors don't matter, Richard Kiel was the only one worth it. The only person who would've been better would be, unquestionably, Bruce Campbell.

Did I have fun? Yes. Was it a great day? Yes. Did I spend way too much money? Yes. Would I do it again? Yes. Have I embraced my inner nerd? Definitely.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Allons-y!

Doctor Who

I promised you another post, and I'm nothing if not a man of my word.

If Christopher Eccleston gave the show a five o'clock shadow, then David Tennant's appearance gave it a big bushy beard. Not that Eccleston was a poor doctor in any way, but his approach left you with a doctor who was just gruff, angry, and lonely. Tennant on the other hand was somewhat more manic and lent a lot more to the explorer-vibe. Really though, Tennant's doctor ended up having a lot more to say for himself than Eccleston's, if only due to him having a lot more episodes to do it in.

This is again where you begin to see a real boost in production values as well (and even moreso in Series 3, 4, and 5). Sure some of the character design is a bit random if not downright hokey, but the writing is still there to pull it off. For example, "Love and Monsters" is one of the best episodes of the show so far, but the enemy is basically Fat Bastard.

Also, it maintains the, dare I say, epic-pace. Each series builds on the remnants of the last, not forgetting anything. Though each series also tends to be very centric to itself, as most occurrences build only to that series' finale. Each time they come up with a new enemy as well, or at least an old with a twist. Series 1 simply reintroduced the Daleks, who don't return purely as a "series big bad" till 3 series later. No more Bad Wolf though (wait, did that really end?). Instead now you'll learn of Torchwood, Mr. Saxon, the Medusa Cascade, and "He will knock four times". And just because each series holds it's own, it doesn't mean there won't be references to older characters. Just wait for Series 4's finale, where everyone who's anyone gets brought back, and all with their own roles to play.

The companions switch out fast in these as well, but they're all vastly different. First, there's Rose, the one true love-interest. Then Martha, the strong-willed one who's love is unrequited. Then Donna, a completely different, almost purely comical companion. Each of them complement each other and bring out a different aspect of the Doctor, from the romantic to the responsible. This is seen in the music too, Rose's theme is slightly more emotional, Martha's is more forward-looking and enthusiastic, and Donna's tramples on both by being flighty and incidental. The rest of the themes remain spot-on as well, prevalent mostly in Series 2 and 3 with "Doomsday", "All the Strange, Strange Creatures", and "YANA".

I really don't want to give much more away, but Series 2, 3, and 4 are beyond great. The 4 serials after series 4 are ok (though the end of Series 4 would've been a better ending for Tennant's Doctor IMO). But they still don't detract from the Doctor's appeal as a hero for the masses, and Tennant pulls it off: not only is the Doctor great at flying by the seat of his pants, but can also show true empathy when dealing with others suffering.

And then comes Series 5, which changes the tune dramatically...

Monday, April 4, 2011

Activity? What?

You might be asking yourself how I've suddenly become an active poster. It's because I finally found this wonderful thing called "Schedule" in WordPress. It gives me the power of time-travel! I can write something in the future and publish it in the past (lame), or write something now and publish it in the future (awesome!).

Obviously, you're not surprised it exists (nor am I). What does this really mean? You're reading a post that was written weeks ago! Yes, weeks! And yet somehow it's like I just published it now! See, it's like how I can mention <INSERT CURRENT NEWS> or <INSERT CURRENT CELEBRITY GOSSIP> even though this was written weeks ago. Without scheduling, those would be old news, but now it's like this whole thing was written just yesterday! (note to self: develop topic-insertion plugin, then retroactively apply it to this post, something you can do with the power of scheduling!)

Thanks to this though, I can prep a few posts each time I sit down instead of trying to work towards a deadline for each. Then the deadline is for me to look back over the posts and reomve any glairing tyops I might have msised. A much better way to do this.

I've assumed up to this point that whenever I've said "You" I'm actually only talking to myself. I don't just mean in this post, I mean the entire blog. However, I'm going to break from that concept for one short moment: If you, the reader, are not me, then I'd like to apologize for wasting precious moments of your life. Surely there are better ways to spend your time then reading my semi-coherent ramblings. I can only hope you get some sort of schadenfreude-ish joy from this.

Now that I've fed my delusions, back to standard operating procedure. You are me; other "possibilities" are pure fantasy.

And you/me can expect to continue seeing quality like this thanks to the magic of WordPress!