Archive for December 1st, 2011

2011/12/01

Thursday, December 1, 2011

So, well, let’s see.

Here is a random image, in the sense that it was the first hit on a Google Image search for “random image” (without the quotes). It has lots of numbers in it. Also, the second hit was a picture of Chuck Norris.

(Google seems to have made it harder to construct image-search URLs, or I’ve just forgotten the simple method. I thought you used to be able to just change the “www” to an “images” in the standard Google search URL, but now it seems you have to set “tbm” to “isch” in the query-string.)

For the first time, I have started a NaNoWriMo novel, and then not finished it during November. New experiences are good. Somehow I just sort of lost interest, and although sitting down and making myself write 1,600 or 2,500 words was still fun, it was I guess a familiar and already-known sort of fun that didn’t prevail against all other sorts of fun one might use one’s leisure time for.

(Will I ever finish it? Will we discover who, if anyone, murdered Viridax, called The Wise? Will the mysterious narrator’s origins, unknown even to emself, be revealed? I don’t know!)

I started playing The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, and then sort of stopped, and so far have continued to stop. Or (interesting verb tense there) have at least not started again. A few notes on Skyrim:

  • It is indeed rather pretty, but there are lots of rather pretty videos around, and either I amn’t all that impressed by mere eyecandy, or it’s just that this eyecandy isn’t all that to my taste, and I’m just more a Windwaker sort of d00d. (Awful lotta grey in the palette, too; maybe if I played it for long enough I would get to more omg-colorful places, Oz-style. Or not.)
  • It is realistic in some good senses; the female characters, for instance, do not have huge mammaries and skin-baring armor, unlike a billion other games one could name,
  • There is at least for me rather an Uncanny Valley effect in some of the realism (for some reason I always think “Eerie Valley” at first instead of “Uncanny Valley”, but Google reads my mind and knows this and takes me to the right place anyway); for instance a very realistic-looking tree sticking through the side of a very realistic-looking building is somehow wronger than that happening in a cartoon world; and a very realistic-looking person behaving in a weird robotic way (see below) is more disturbing than a cartoon character might be.
  • And what’s up with the incredibly stupid and annoying NPCs, anyway? Bethesda has made a bunch of these games, you’d think they’d know how to do it by now. But no, go into the back room of the shop to look around, turn to leave, and there are the shopkeeper and your housekarl, standing side-by-side blocking the doorway, staring creepily and not getting out of the way. Since people are not penetrable as they are in WoW, the only way out of the room is to push on the blockers until one of them moves; and the one that moves will make an annoying annoyed noise, like “Huh?” or “What?” or “Whoa!”, and they’ll make that same noise every single time you have to push them out of the way. Which will be lots.
  • Companion NPCs are also horrible at battle tactics. I’m exploring an ominous cave, an arrow comes twanging out of the dimness, I press my back to the wall to get out of Line of Sight, and my housekarl goes rushing off down the corridor, sword held high. Facepalm. Players who do this kind of thing in WoW get kicked from the party. My kids say they don’t take their housekarl around with them because of annoying stuff like this; but then you can’t do as many quests at low levels, without the help. (It’s possible to tell your companion to stay put, but that’s not what’s wanted either; if there’s a “don’t be stupid” mode, I haven’t found it yet.)
  • Which brings me to levels of things. Now really it’s unrealistic in WoW, say, that you can just select something and the game tells you what level it is, or that it’s so high level that you’d better stay out of its way. But on the other hand in Skyrim when someone says “Could you go get some lemon verbena for me”, you’d think they might add “oh, and the thing guarding it hurls Enormous Fireballs of Instant Death, so you’ll want to level up for a few days before you try it”. Only polite!
  • I find having to use separate control-things for where I’m walking and what I’m looking at to be a PITA (this is on the “xbox 360” console-thing). I’m always finding myself staring up at the sky while my little person walks off the side of the stairway and falls into a lake or something. The kids say that this is how First Person Shooters generally are these days (DOOM wasn’t!), but really Skyrim spends most of its time not being a First Person Shooter, so you’d think there’d be at least an optional “camera follows you sensibly” sort of mode like WoW and SL and and and…
  • Complain, complain, complain, moan, moan, whinge.

Isn’t “whinge” a great word? I think it is British. Speaking of which, that “mdr” in our previous humorous entry is short for the French phrase “mort de rire” which literally means “death from laughter” or “dies laughing”, but idiomatically is the French equivalent of “lol”. You can impress Francophones in online environments by casually saying “mdr” when amused; rather than “mort de rire“, this then means “I am a cool and with-it vaguely-multilingual modern person, and I am amused”. (At least that’s what I mean when I say it.)

Which brings us to the important question of what the repetitively intensified forms of “lol”, like “lolol” or “lololol” or “lololololololol”, mean. (It has been suggested that it means “lots of laughing out loud”, but that would be depressing.) The right question is, do these forms stand for “laughing out loud out loud out loud…”, or something more complex, as in “laughing out loud out laughing out loud…” or “laughing out loud, oh laughing out loud, oh laughing!”.

I think I prefer the lattter.

And there is a picture of a kitten which has captured a little boy. Or, for those in the more conventional time-stream, a cat which has captured a teenager. We get this alot around here, mostly when he is asleep and she isn’t. The boy also captures the kitten relatively frequently.

(If you click through on the picture you will get to M’s weblog, where you will find lotsa fun and mostly irony-free stuff about Thanksgiving and all, and pictures of more people, possibly including me. Don’t tell!)

What else what else? Still playing Glitch just a little, dropping in to learn Distilling I and maybe fight off a rook attack. Also the aforementioned Illyriad, where I have now (with much help from the training guild that I joined early on) moved my capital out of the desolate mountains onto the fertile plains, and established a second city (well, tiny village), and am building buildings and breeding cows and sending my army to fight giant snakes (they were all wiped out by some wild dogs once, owch) and sending caravans full of resources from my capital to the new city to help the building.

But I’m not really sure why, and I can easily imagine that before long I might be writing my guild to ask them if there is some way I can ship all of my goods and population off to their cities, leaving perhaps just a plaque signed “Ozymandius” to mark where in Illyriad I once was.

Or I could get fascinated by something in it, who knows…

Oh yes! And there is this picture!

Please use straw hole

which is our Annoying Inanimate-Object Request o’ the Day. (Click through to flickr for amusing Notes overlaid upon the picture itself; what will they think of next?)

Why does the juice carton implore me to use the straw hole? What if I don’t have a straw? What if I just like the old instinctive “separate and bend back the edges and push out the little spout” method of drinking my encartonned (encartoned?) orange juice?

Things like this baffle me. Someone at (ummmm) Tropicana must have explicitly decided that the carton would say “Please Use Straw Hole” there. It’s even right at the place where you put your fingers to open it in the good old spouty way. (And in fact the carton even has little indentations in the upper surface, to make the spout pop out better! Visible in the picture!) What could the person have been thinking, as they decreed that those words should appear there, in Brand-Appropriate Green?

Is there some Great Battle within Tropicana, or perhaps within the Carton Producing Community, between those that put the spout-enhancing indentations in, and those who pre-perforate the straw holes, and this printed legend represents some partial victory of the latter over the former? Was it snuck into the package design in the dark of night, by a ninja in the employ of the straw-holers?

How do they tell who is winning? Does the Nielsen company survey people about their carton-using habits? Are there little Carton Diaries, where you record which way you opened each morning’s orange juice, with little ticky-boxes for “straw hole” or “spout” (or even, horrific to contemplate, “other”)? Or do the cartons themselves contain tiny sensors and transmitters, and phone home to Carton Ninja Central to report on us?

The world is so mysterious…