Saturday, April 30, 2016

DS9 Season 1, Epsidoes 8-14

"Dax" is an interesting episode, which explores the relationship between Jadzia Dax and Curzon Dax. Jadzia gets put on trial for Curzon's crimes, and there's a lot of discussion about her symbiotic nature. It reminds me a lot of the Next Gen episode, where Data was put on trial to determine if he counts as a unique species. It's interesting world-building, but there's not a lot of meat to this episode, besides that high-falutin' philosophy stuff.

Also, it kind of annoys me that Dax refused to tell the truth about the murder, until the end. Maybe I've played too many Phoenix Wright games, where the client keeps things a secret without a really good reason.

"The Passenger" was a good episode, where a super-clever criminal fakes his own death and takes over the station. Dr. Bashir got a chance to do some grandiose acting here, which was a nice change of pace!

"Move Along Home" is basically "Jumanji" (which came out two years later). Four of the characters get trapped inside a deadly board game, and they must beat the game in order to live! In this case, "deadly" board game means "they solve hopscotch puzzles". No, I'm not joking. I liked this episode, but the Internet tells me that it is widely hated. True, it's very silly and light-hearted compared to the rest of the series, but I still liked it.

"The Nagus" introduces Grand Nagus Zek, who instantly became my family's favorite character. It's the villain from "The Princess Bride", only now he's been promoted to King. Great actor, great character, I loved it so much, I skipped ahead in the series to watch the other episodes with this character. (And I accidentally stumbled upon Kira, pregnant with O'Brien's baby. WHAT? Also, Worf. Hey, Worf. You're on this show, too?)

The episode was great. My only real complaint would be that the Nagus doesn't say anything for the first quarter of the episode, to give him an air of mysteriousness. I didn't like that, partially because I already knew what his personality was like, and that's the best part of his character! He's hilarious when he's plotting and scheming, but not so interesting, if he's just being quiet and hiding in shadows.

"The Vortex" is another episode where the first quarter is good, but the rest sort of fell flat. There is a criminal named Croden, who gets involved with a murder at Quark's. At first, it seems like we're going to have a mystery, figuring out who was killed and why. Then the story shifts, so it's all about Odo. Croden claims to be the only person in existence who has been to Odo's home world, and he more or less badgers Odo into taking him there. It turns out that Croden is lying; he was making up excuses, so he could reach his long-lost daughter. Poor Odo, not getting to meet his own family.

"Battle Lines" is about Kai Opaka, who is basically the Pope of the planet. We haven't seen her since the pilot, so I kind of forgot all about her. Anyway, our heroes crash land on a planet, in the middle of a war. The twist is that nobody can die on this planet, so this war has been going on for decades. Our heroes try to broker a peace, but they're unsuccessful.

The episode seems kind of long and drawn-out, because there's no resolution to the war conflict. Also, there is about ten minutes of O'Brien and Dax in a spaceship, trying to get everyone off the planet, through the use of technobabble. The ending with Kai Opaka deciding to stay on the war-torn planet was probably the best part.

"The Storyteller" makes three episodes in a row that I don't like! Sad. The storyline is that O'Brien is mistakenly elected as a religious leader, and the main message is "Ha ha, all religious people are superstitious idiots!". Definitely not a good follow-up to an episode with a kind and generous Pope figure, and besides, it's a story we've seen before in other Star Treks. There was also a fair amount of technobabble--O'Brien is a magnet for that stuff--so I pretty much skipped over those parts. The other storyline is about the boys, Jake and Nog, both getting a crush on the same girl. That part was okay.

Friday, April 29, 2016

DS9 Season 1, Epsidoes 1-7

While I'm still thinking about Season 1 of Deep Space Nine, I figured I could talk about the various episodes. Sort of like my reviews for the Land Before Time series? I dunno. I can review the first season's episodes, at least, and if people don't like it, I won't continue.

Does the pilot count as an episode? I liked it a lot, and I especially liked the god-aliens who live in the eternal present. Great idea, great execution!

"Past Prologue" introduces Garak the Cardassian tailor, who is a really fascinating character. I liked that! The other storyline was Kira's old boyfriend, who tries to reconnect with her, but it ends up being a trick. I did not like that.

In "A Man Alone", Odo is framed for murder. At one point, he asks why Sisko trusts him, when the two men barely know each other. That's the main problem with the episode! We don't know Odo's character and what he's like at this point in the series. It's only the second episode! I think I would have liked this episode better, if it was at the end of the season.

"Babel" is more of a traditional Star Trek episode, in that the crew is suffering from an unknown ailment, and we need to figure out what it is. They easily could have done this story on one of the other Star Trek shows. I seem to remember that it was mostly well done.

I didn't like "Captive Pursuit". The first third was interesting, as a strange alien appeared on the station, and we had to figure out what was going on. That was neat, and the mystery was good. But then other aliens appeared, and we learned the story: they're hunting the first alien for sport. Cue a LOT of moralizing about how hunting is evil. I don't like hunting myself, but I thought it was overdone.

I talked about Q-Less elsewhere.






Thursday, April 28, 2016

State-Level Voting

I've talked about voting a little bit in this election cycle. Right now, weird things are happening, because a lot of states are going into Round Two of their voting process.

Round One is where everyone votes in the state votes. The candidates get delegates, based on what the voters decided.

Round Two is where they have county conventions. Here, people get to pick delegates for the state convention. At the state convention, there is another vote, and the candidates get delegates, based on what the voters decided.

This is supposed to be the same basic idea of candidates getting delegates based on a vote, but it's a lot convoluted, when you're voting on the county level, for people to represent you on the state level. I guess the idea is that it balances things out, if a candidate wins a lot of different counties but loses overall.

In my state of Oregon, Round One decides 55% of the vote, while Round Two decides 27% of the vote. (The remaining 18% is made of superdelegates.)

Most states delay Round Two until May or June, when the primary election is usually over. The states that haven't delayed Round Two have given us some surprises and turnabouts. Most recently, Cruz won Round Two in Maine, with 95%! (He got less than half in Round One.) Sanders lost Round One in Nevada, but he has a majority going into Round Two, meaning he's probably going to win overall.

I wonder how close the Presidential race must be, for someone to lose Round One in every state, yet win the general election because they dominated Round Two.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Custom URL

YouTube has given me a custom URL. It's https://www.youtube.com/c/arglefumph

Pretty neat! Not too different from https://www.youtube.com/user/arglefumph, though. I wonder what the "/c/" stands for.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Deep Space Nine

I'm done with the first season of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Here are my various thoughts.

The show's critics say that the show is Star Trek Airport. The complaint is that they always stay on the spaceship, and they never go anywhere else. That's not the case in the first season! There was a fair amount of leaving the station, travelling to other planets and meeting new species.

It reminded me a lot like the first Star Trek series, where every episode had a gimmick. What if everyone was sucked into a board game? What could make our heroes try to kill each other? What if they got trapped on a planet with endless war? What if all the viewers were huge fans of the first series, and we just reused ideas from that show?

I personally prefer the episodes where the characters stay on the station, instead of doing space exploration. I think that's mainly because my favorite character is Quark. He's both funny and interesting, and the constant tension between him and Odo is good fun. They're my favorites, followed by Dr. Bashir.

Surprise, surprise, Michael likes the comedic characters.

As for the other main characters, I'm kind of indifferent to them. O'Brien doesn't seem to have much of an emotional range, beyond "vaguely flustered" and "vaguely annoyed". He tends to use his "I'm spewing meaningless technobabble" voice at all times, even when dealing with his wife, which puts me off. As for Dax and Kira, I want to like them, but they didn't have any good storylines! Kira's storylines were mostly "she has feelings for a guy who turns out to be a huge jerk". Dax's best (only) storyline was about her past, when she was a completely different person. Interesting, but I'd rather have some focus on who she is now, not who she used to be.

Which brings me to Commander Sisko. He was great in the pilot episode! But that was the only episode where he's the main character. The rest of the time, he only took center stage in ensemble episodes. As the season went on, I found myself liking him less and less. It's not that he's a bad character who I actively dislike, but he doesn't get enough focus for me to take an active interest in him. Most of the time, he's just the guy who talks in a calm voice.

I dunno. I wonder what it would have been like, if Deep Space Nine had Commander William Riker in charge. You know, like a more traditional spinoff show. I find it odd that O'Brien was picked as the character to center a spinoff around.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Group Membership

Something I've been wondering about is how much you can disagree with a group, while still being a member of the group.

With politics right now, the bar seems to be set pretty high. If you disagree with a political party on an issue, even a relatively minor one, they tend to attack and denounce you. It's like both parties want 100% compliance.

At least, it feels that way to me. I disagree with the Democrats and the Republicans about a third of the time, I agree with them about a third of the time, and about a third of the time, I'm neutral. That's not good enough for them; both parties say I'm an outsider to them.

So I wonder if there's a magical percentage. Like, if you agree with the group 80% of the time, you're a member. If you agree with them 70% of the time, you're not. Does that exist?

There are probably some non-negotiables, as well. Like, you agree with the group on 99% of all topics, but you disagree on one, crucial topic, therefore, they don't want you.

I also wonder about this, when it comes to religion. I've met Catholics who don't agree with the Catholic Church's views on God, morality, the Bible, priests, etc., etc. At some point, I have to wonder how and why these people are still Catholic, when it seems like they're opposed to pretty much everything the Church teaches.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

No Blog Post Today

No blog post today! I keep writing long blog posts, then deciding to delete them.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Rube Goldberg Machine

Someone made an Arglefumph / Nancy Drew Rube Goldberg machine!



Pretty neat. It reminds me of the Rube Goldberg puzzle in Nancy Drew: Legend of the Crystal Skull. That was a neat puzzle.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Cat President Now on Steam Greenlight

I've been talking about Cat President on this blog for many months. Now the game is finally available on Steam Greenlight!

Please vote for the game! As I understand it, the game will be published on Steam, once it gets enough votes. 900 votes? Is that the limit?

By all accounts, it generally takes several months before a game makes it through the Greenlight process. The more popular the game, the faster it goes through the process. Let's hope our game doesn't get stuck in Greenlight Purgatory. I'm told when that happens, your game only moves up in the rankings when games ahead of it get removed.

We are currently a little over 2/3 of the way through programming the game. Let's hope the game is finished, around the same time that it's greenlit! If not, we'll release it on itch.io first.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Land Before Time: Adventuring in the Mysterious Beyond

The last Land Before Time DVD is a themed one! In every episode, our heroes visit the Mysterious Beyond, the dangerous place where carnivores live. I find it amusing that this is the DVD's theme, considering how they do this in the majority of episodes. That's like having a Simpsons DVD, themed around Homer doing stupid things.

First is "The Great Egg Adventure". This episode features the return of the bullies from the third movie, and I was impressed by the writing here. The episode does a balancing act between their original bully personalities from the start of the movie, and their reformed bully personalities from the end of the movie. Characters with semi-complex personalities? That's way more effort than the rest of the show has led me to expect.

The story is that our heroes find three carnivore eggs. They don't want the carnivores to hatch near their home, so they decide to move the eggs far, far away. They split up into three groups, with each group getting one egg. The entire time, the mother chases them and tries to kill them. The mother made for an interesting enemy, partially because she's the only female carnivore we've seen (besides Chomper's mom) and because she was smarter than your average enemy on this show. Other enemies have been scared away by things like echoing voices and smelly flowers, while this one was smart enough to knock down trees to hurt her foes.

Overall, a good episode! It has an above average villain, and the movie cameos worked well. The only downside to the episode that bothered me was the fact that Hep looks completely different from the way he looked in the movie. He's a lot smaller, which is ironic considering that his theme song is "When You're Big". I imagine some people might dislike how the episode kicked Cera, Spike and Ruby out of the group, to make room for the three bullies, but that was probably for the best. Otherwise, the episode would probably have a character overload.

Second is "Escape from the Mysterious Beyond". There's not a whole lot of story to this. Our heroes are lost in the Mysterious Beyond, where they get chased by carnivores. That is the entire story. In the subplot, Chomper, Ducky and a carnivore get stuck on an island. The carnivore's tail is trapped, so it can't reach them. Tensions are high, as they deal with the nearby carnivore and worry that they won't be rescued by their friends.

The subplot was the best part, and I found it to be really different. Ten minutes of two characters talking to each other in a closed space, while someone three feet away tries desperately to kill them / break their morale. Not a typical storyline! Also, not typical for this series for the heroes to hold conversations with the carnivores. Plus, this is only time Ducky and Chomper have had an extended conversation by themselves. The scene of her hugging him for emotional support probably inspired a lot of fanfics.

I'd probably give this episode a 6 or 7 out of 10. The animation was neat, especially with the carnivore attacks. This could be the only time Red Claw is shown as a legitimate threat, and not just the stupid villain that gets easily defeated over and over again. But on the other hand, the episode's story is so non-existent that it's overshadowed by the subplot of two people talking for ten minutes. The last episode was also nothing but chase sequences, but at least they had eggs and different characters to talk about, instead of just screaming and running the whole time.

Third is 'The Lonely Journey". Everyone is celebrating the Time of Great Giving, when some of the adults make racist comments against Sharpteeth. Chomper is offended and sad he doesn't fit in, so he goes to the Great Beyond and tries to make friends with the Sharpteeth there. Things go badly, and he gets rescued by his real friends. Chomper sings "Feel So Happy", end episode.

Wasn't there another episode with this exact same storyline? It feels really familiar. The scene with Chomper talking to the young Sharptooth was interesting, but other than that, it was a generic Chomper episode. I liked it, even if it was a kind of average episode, with Chomper re-exploring issues he's already explored.

Side note: They sing "Feel So Happy" in eight episodes. Each time it has different lyrics. How do we know which version of the song is the official version?

Last is "The Hermit of Black Rock", featuring the return of Guido from the 12th movie. He's not as annoying here as he was in the movie, but still, I wasn't thrilled to see him again. Guido gets flying lessons from Petrie, when they both get caught in a wind and end up at Black Rock.

There, they meet a blind pterodactyl. I wasn't expecting to see a kindly, elderly blind man in this series. All three of them work together, to get back home, with Guido testing the wind and Petrie guiding the blind one. I don't think there's a subplot in this episode; it's all just Petrie and Guido. In other words, the worst character with one of the weaker movie characters. The episode is all right, but it's still the worst one on the DVD.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Facebook Page

Okay, the Arglefumph Facebook Page is now up and running! Thanks to everyone for their help!

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Facebook, Part 2

Okay, people seem to agree that my Facebook Page should be listed as "Entertainment". What sub-category?

  • Album
  • Amateur Sports Team
  • Book
  • Book Series
  • Book Store
  • Concert Tour
  • Concert Venue
  • Fictional Character
  • Library
  • Magazine
  • Movie
  • Movie Character
  • Movie Studio
  • Movie Theater
  • Music Award
  • Music Chart
  • Music Video
  • Performance Art
  • Radio Station
  • Record Label
  • School Sports Team
  • Song
  • Sports League
  • Sports Team
  • Sports Venue
  • Theatrical Play
  • TV Channel
  • TV Network
  • TV Show
  • TV/Movie Award

None of those seem to fit very well. I looked for better sub-category matches in the other categories. "Public Figure" has "entertainer" and "producer" as sub-categories, while "Brand or product" has "website" and "videogame" as sub-categories.

Edit: I'll probably ask my wife, if us blog-types can't come to a consensus.

Facebook

I'm thinking about starting an Arglefumph Facebook page. Like, an official one. Up until now, I've just been using a Facebook group and friending Arglefans. Is "Arglefans" the correct term?

So, what is an official page? It looks like it's called community pages. I totally didn't know those existed, until just now. Looks like they're on the left sidebar, second from the bottom, and...

...I have 20+ notifications in my pages feed. Seriously, why am I finding out about this just now?

Oh, wait, it looks like I'm already subscribed to a few community pages, like Gemini Laser and Bishop Frank Caggiano. Huh. I thought I was just following people, in those cases. Well, good! I've been using community pages without knowing it for years, now!

So I tried making my own community page on Facebook, and I got stuck immediately. Which of the six categories should I choose?
  • Local business or place
  • Company, Organization or Institution
  • Brand or Product
  • Artist, Band or Public Figure
  • Entertainment
  • Cause or Community
Artist, Band or Public Figure sounds like a good fit, but that also sounds like I'm super full of myself, thinking I'm a big public name. Maybe entertainment. For tax purposes, my YouTube channel is a business, though...

Monday, April 18, 2016

Recording iPad Footage

I'm trying to record iPad footage, so I can do a walkthrough for Nancy Drew: Codes and Clues when it comes out.

So I bought a Lightning HDMI Adaptor, something which connects the iPad to a TV. This works perfectly. Whatever is on the iPad screen shows up on the TV screen. The daughter loves this.

I figured that I could then record the iPad footage, the same way I record videogame footage. My videogame recorder is the Hauppauge PVR. Maybe you've seen me use it for the Zelda Gamecube games or Barbie Detective #1. But for some reason, this doesn't seem to work! I get the machine set up the right way (I think), and all it gets is a blank screen!

Do any of you readers have suggestions as to how I can fix this problem?

The Internet suggests that some HDTVs auto-block video output when there's an HDMI input, as a copyright protection measure. The Internet also suggests that I use a Hauppauge PVR 2, which has HDMI input, but I don't want to drop $150 on a device which more or less does the same thing as the one I already have.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Backlog

I actually made some progress with my videogame walkthrough backlog recently! Here are the games that are left:
  • Awakening 7 (already recorded)
  • Grammar Games (already recorded)
  • Pepper's Adventures in Time
  • Book of Legends
  • Spy Fox: Some Assembly Required
  • Nancy Drew DS
  • Spy Fox: Operation Ozone
  • Miles Edgeworth 2, Case 3
  • Pokémon Yellow
  • Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective (already recorded)
The last three are the tricky ones, because they are super long games. As I've discovered, juggling multiple long games does not work. What inevitably happens is that one of the games gets ignored. In this case, it was the Edgeworth game. I did the first block of videos for that in December, and the next two blocks are going up this month. It'll bring us to the end of Case 2.

So I'm thinking that I should either finish the Edgeworth game completely (and put Pokémon on hold), or finish Pokémon completely (and put Edgeworth on hold). Or I could cancel one/both projects. Maybe I could just livestream the rest of Pokémon or something, to get through it more quickly. Having hour-long videos is one way of decreasing the number of videos in a playlist...

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Livestreams (Again)

I feel bad about the three failed livestreams in a row last week. But going back to Google Hangouts worked great for livestreaming! I mostly like it, because it gives a countdown to when the stream starts. I bet real streamers care about things like the chat and the picture quality, but not me! I like seeing numbers.

So to make up for last week, I did three livestreams this week. And they didn't fail!







Mary and I liked both games. We'll have to put them on the "to buy" list. But should I make a point of buying them / playing them as soon as I can, or should I finish my backlog first?

Friday, April 15, 2016

Bathrooms

Someone asked me to comment on the transgender bathroom laws in North Carolina and Washington. I think I'll decline this opportunity, because I don't want to stir up that huge hornet's nest.

I will say that I don't think people can agree on bathroom rules and etiquette, in general. For example, "flush the toilet after using it". That is one of the most basic bathroom rules in existence. But whenever I use public restrooms, I find that people break that rule constantly. They also break the rule about washing your hands after going to the bathroom. People are disgusting, sometimes.

Another thing people disagree on is the minimum age limit. How old must a child be, before they can use the bathroom by themselves? I personally think if a child is completely potty trained, it's reasonable to expect them to use a one-person bathroom alone. Other people disagree. This situation comes up in the first Baby-Sitters Club Super Special. The author takes it for granted that a six-year-old girl is way too young to use the bathroom by herself, so the baby-sitter has to be inside the bathroom when the girl uses the toilet. I found that to be strange, awkward and totally unnecessary, because six-year-olds are old enough to understand how bathrooms work.

(To make the situation even more awkward, the bathroom trip happens on an airplane.)

So if people can't come to consensus on whether or not six-year-olds can use the bathroom, I don't think they'll be able to agree on any transgender bathroom laws, especially not if the laws are super broad ones that treat all people and all bathrooms the same.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

The Joy of Love

Pope Francis wrote a new document called The Joy of Love recently. The document is about marriage and families, and it's a result of the two Synods on the same topic.

As usual, Pope Francis emphasizes mercy, compassion and love, not criticism, condemnation and anathemas. The Catholic Church has high standards when it comes to marriage. "Be perfect, as your heavenly father is perfect", as Jesus says. But when people fall short of the ideal, the solution is not to revile them or rebuke them. "Neither do I condemn you," as Jesus says to the woman caught in adultery. The solution is to treat them with mercy and to help them improve.

The letter is very long. It's over 250 pages, in fact. Some people recommend starting at Chapter Four.

The part that has everyone up in arms is the part where he talks about divorced (and remarried) people. These people are not always in a state of mortal sin; it's possible for someone to be divorced and remarried, without it being 100% their fault. Therefore, they should not be cut off from the church and the sacraments. They should consult their consciences and their local pastor, to determine if they should receive the sacraments.

People are freaking out, because they think it's not too far off from "It doesn't matter if you're divorced. You can still have communion if you want to." Some unscrupulous people have already started to twist the Pope's words, to make it seem like divorce is now acceptable, if not in law, then in practice. And of course, people will abuse the document to give themselves a free pass for doing bad things, like abandon their spouse in favor of someone else.

Pope Francis isn't changing the Church's teaching, of course. But it looks like he's changing the Church's practice concerning the civilly divorced and remarried. The previous practice was from Pope Saint John Paul II, in 1981. He took the "better safe than sorry" approach, and said that divorced and remarried people should observe full chastity, before receiving the sacraments. That way, they completely avoid the possibility of adultery. Obviously, that's a general solution which is applied to everyone; Francis would rather have things worked out case-by-case.


Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Kitchens Are My Life

My stepdaughter Mary likes to make cooking videos, and she recorded over five hours of footage for me to upload. Instead of putting them on my channel, I made a separate channel just for her stuff. Check it out here!

I've scheduled it, so a new video goes up every Sunday. Right now, this is the only video available:



My wife says Mary is basically imitating a YouTube channel called Nerdy Nummies.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Nancy is the Culprit, Chapter 3

Nancy smiled as she and Mattie walked through the hallways of Worldwide Broadcasting. It was so much fun being in a TV studio! And getting a personal tour from a famous TV star? How many other people got to enjoy that experience?

"--Pictures of our best actors," Mattie was saying, waving her hand towards the walls.

The walls had huge, life-sized pictures of actors. She recognized Mattie and Rick Arlen, of course, then there was some woman with glasses, an older man with gray hair, and...

Nancy stopped short. "Is that Tom Selleck?" she gasped.

"Yes, he works here," Mattie said.

"Can I meet him?" Nancy asked. "Please please please?"

"Sure," Mattie said. "His office is on the third floor."

In less than five minutes, Nancy was standing face-to-face with her idol.

"Yes?" he asked.

"Hi, Mr. Selleck! I'm Nancy Drew!" Nancy said. "I loved watching Magnum P.I. in the 80's!"

Tom looked confused. "You...how old are you?"

"Eighteen," Nancy said. "I've been a teenager ever since I started my detective career in 1930!"

Tom was polite enough after that, but he excused himself as soon as he possible could. Nancy could recognize that he was brushing her off.

Nancy grit her teeth. So, the people at WWB didn't believe her, huh? Well, she'd show them! She'd show them what it meant to offend Nancy Drew!

Rick Arlen was the network's biggest star, right? Then he was her target. She would arrange for Rick to have a little "accident" with a kleig light...

"Can I see the set you'll be filming on today?" Nancy asked innocently.

"Sure," Mattie said.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Livestreaming

I tried livestreaming again this week, and it was pretty much a huge failure. Sad. My apologies to everyone who tried to join the livestream events this week.

I think YouTube has two different livestreaming systems. There's YouTube Gaming, which works like Twitch. It requires a livestream program like OBS.

OBS doesn't like games, unless they can be played in a window. To stream fullscreen games, I made a weird set-up, where one program mirrors the game, and OBS streams that program. It's like a stream of a stream, if that makes sense.

Then, there's the Google+ Hangouts system. YouTube threw me into that yesterday, and it confused me, because I hadn't seen it in over a year. It's changed, or at least, it doesn't seem to have my computer's webcam as a default option. It also appears to dislike fullscreen games; Game #1 was shrunk to a small size, while Game #2 was so patchy, only half the people could see what was happening.

I'll try livestreaming again later. Maybe. For now, I need to figure out how to get Google+ to work with livestreaming older games. Probably, I have to play them on my other computer? If not, I need to figure out how to get back to the YouTube Gaming system.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Everything Wrong With Stay Tuned for Danger

Here is my "Everything Wrong With" video for the second Nancy Drew game.



Here are three problems that didn't make it into the video:

1. Game #1 is based on Book #1. Game #2 is based on Book 17.
2. According to the dialogue, this game takes place directly after the first one. But that game took place in May, and this game takes place in November. (Maybe I was wrong about when that game takes place? But the calendar at Maxine's clearly shows a 31-day month, so it can't have been in November, at least.)
3. "Here's a copy of the house keys." Nancy only uses the one key to open the front door. What do the other keys unlock?
4. Dwayne has massive debt problems, but he still refuses to accept new clients.
5. Magazine in the opening cutscene misspells "stardom" as "stardome"

Friday, April 8, 2016

Philosophy

I mentioned Bill Nye the Science Guy yesterday. There has been some minor buzzing in my circle, because Bill made a video about philosophy recently. I haven't seen the video myself, but I've heard it summarized like this:

"Science is the best, most important topic for study. In general, studying non-science is not as good and useful as science. Philosophy can be interesting, but it's not particularly useful. At best, philosophy teaches a bunch of common sense stuff that everyone already knows. At worst, it teaches a bunch of pie-in-the-sky nonsense that has no connection to reality. If you have to pick between a philosophy degree and a science degree, get a science degree."

As a (kind of) philosophy major, I feel inclined to defend philosophy! Let me just give a simple response: logic, argumentation and morality are the three types of philosophy worth studying. Those are useful and help make you a better person.

As for the more pie-in-the-sky philosophy topics like epistemology and metaphysics...yes, Bill is right, they're not very useful in everyday life. I wonder if philosophy departments are going to phase out those traditional classes, in favor of more legal-style classes. In my college, philosophy was basically the pre-law degree.

Interestingly enough, science has caused a minor resurgence in epistemology. Advances in artificial intelligence and robotics are prompting philosophical questions like, "What is knowledge? What is intelligence? How do people think? What does it mean to be human?".

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Three Things Thursday: Popular Videos

Sometimes, I have a video explode in popularity for unknown reasons. The video gets a lot of a views, but none of the viewers leave any comments. So I'm left wondering what happened.



First is this video for Fire Emblem Fates Conquest, Chapter Five. In the past month, it has gotten more views than my videos for Chapters 1-4 and Chapter 6, put together. I don't know why people are watching this video in particular, but not the others.



Same with this Majora's Mask video. It has 37,000 views, when all the other videos in the walkthrough average about 9,000 views. The video is from 2010, but it started picking up steam last year.

I had no idea what was going on, until Joseph Martin from GameCola clued me in. The surge in popularity coincides with the 3DS remake of the game. For the remake, they updated/changed this particular challenge. Hopefully, they also updated/changed the "you just lost 100% of your progress" feature which kicks in at the very start of the game and punishes new players for not knowing how to do the moon tear trading sequences ahead of time.



Finally, Professor Garfield, which currently gets 12,000 views a year. This video consistently gets a ton of views. Last year, it was my seventh most watched video; this year, it's number four.

Once it started getting popular, it took me six months to figure out why. This video got put on a standard elementary school syllabus; teachers are showing it to their classes as an educational video, like I'm Bill Nye the Science Guy or something. I only figured this out, because 1-2 kids left comments, complaining about how their teacher forced them to watch the video in school.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Land Before Time: Unwatchable Episodes

There are two episodes of the Land Before Time TV show that aren't on DVD. So, tragically, I won't be able to review them.

Hold back your tears.

First is The Big Longneck Test, which is a followup to the tenth movie. "Have characters from a movie come back for an episode" is a pretty standard plot in this TV series. The premise is that Littlefoot's father gives Littlefoot a test, to see if he can lead a herd of longnecks. Meanwhile, Shorty (the kid from that movie) takes the others somewhere.

Second is The Hidden Canyon. The kids discover a canyon full of addictive fruit, and they lie to the adults about it. Carnivores show up, and the kids are forced to tell the truth, because the addictive fruit is poisonous to carnivores. Our heroes get rid of the carnivores by throwing the fruit into their mouths, which sounds an awful lot like forced poisoning to me.

I've got one more TV show DVD left, and then I'm done with this review series that literally no one asked for!

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Detective Barbie 2: The Vacation Mystery

I'm having a rough time with Detective Barbie 2: The Vacation Mystery. My family and I got about 40 minutes in, before we hit a dead wall.

This game is kind of like a scavenger hunt. You find various clues, which are related to a certain location. For example, if you find teacups or sugar, you're supposed to go to the dining room. If you find the map and globe, you're supposed to go to the lighthouse. If you find a letter and a bell, you're supposed to go to the front desk.

The problem is that the game crashes, if you go to the maze, the gazebo, or the hidden passageway near the child. There is no way around this problem. So if you have a clue leading to one of these three areas, you're stuck. Game over. Impossible to win.

So there's about a one in four chance of the game being unwinnable, every time you play.

Each area has its own puzzle for you to solve. In the dining room, you have a piano puzzle. At the front desk, you move mailboxes to fit a certain pattern. To beat the game, you must solve two puzzles, and you must do two chase sequences.

The chase sequences are pretty much impossible. Here is a livestream of me, playing the game. Note how it took over an hour for me to do the two-minute boat chase sequence. And that's the easy one.. Sand rover is the same thing, with more items you have to dodge. Hang gliding is shorter, but harder, since it requires you to go along a randomized track.

Overall, the game is too hard. It's got game-breaking glitches, and the chase sequences are too difficult, considering that children are supposed to beat them. I'm still going to do a walkthrough for the game, but dang, it's tough.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Portland Hockey

Portland's hockey team had a rough end to their season this year.

The "make it or break it" point was March 12th. The team was two points away from the last playoff spot. All they had to do was win one more game, to make the playoffs. There were five games left in the season, so they had plenty of chances to win a game and make the playoffs.

The Winterhawks proceeded to lose five games in a row.

The good news is that they still made the playoffs! In Round One, they played against Everett, where they lost four games in a row.

I only saw the last two games, myself. I'd say about half of the time, it was decent and exciting; both teams were playing equally well. About a quarter of the time, Portland played really badly, and it was painful. And there was also a stretch of ten minutes or so, where Portland was on fire, and they were so dominant that the other team didn't have a chance. Everyone in the audience loved those parts.

So, Portland had a below-average performance to round out the year, but it's not anything to be super-ashamed about, because for the most part, they were neck-and-neck. I've definitely seen worse playoff runs, like the 2014 San Jose Sharks. The Sharks rolled over and died in the playoffs that year, and it's historic levels of awful, because they're only the fourth team in history to lose that badly in the playoffs.

This year is the first time they've made the playoffs, since then. Let's hope they don't lose that badly again.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Opening Sentences

My newest translation project is The Meno, by Plato. It starts with Meno asking a series of questions about virtue. How do people become virtuous? Is virtue something that can be taught? Is it acquired through habit, or genetics, or some other way? Interesting questions.

Socrates responds with a long and grammatically complex sentence. It reminded me of the Gospel of Luke, which was also written in Greek. Both works start off with a long, complicated sentence. Then they immediately revert to normal, spoken language which continues until the end of the work.

I guess it's a literary tradition to have long, complicated sentences at the start of a work.

You can see this in 1800's authors like Charles Dickens and Robert Louis Stevenson. It was almost like there was an unofficial competition to see who could write the longest opener; I seem to recall one book where the first sentence went on for more than a page, thanks to editors using tricks like "extra-big font" and "chapter starts on the bottom half of the page".

Let us have a moment of silence for all the high schoolers who gave up on these books, after reading the first sentence, not knowing that the rest of the book isn't like that.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Peril in Pemberley

An anonymous commenter asked about Miss Clue: Peril in Pemberley. What are my thoughts on the game?

I'd say the game is merely okay. The main problem is that it involves a lot of wandering around, because it's not clear what you have to do next. The game would be instantly improved, if there was a hint system or something to indicate where to go next. More than once, I was forced to search every single area of the game, looking for the one tiny trigger which caused the game to progress.

For me, the worst part was the scene in the Lantern. The trigger for this is the horseshoe. You give the horseshoe to the maid, then you leave the estate and return later. The maid tells you who the horseshoe belongs to. There is absolutely no clue or indication of what you're supposed to after this. I guessed that I was supposed to talk to the horseshoe's owner, which seems like a reasonable assumption to make under the circumstances.

But no, you have to go to the Lantern, a completely unrelated area. You need to go up the stairs. One of the steps squeaks. Now that's what I call a tiny, easily overlooked event!

I guessed that I was supposed to look at the squeaky step, since you can now zoom in on it and look at it from multiple angles. Nope! You're supposed to leave the area and come back later (again). This time, the step doesn't squeak. You can zoom in on it to notice that there's a note there.

In my walkthrough, I tried to do this part as quickly as possible, but it still required a lot of running around, as you would expect when "go away and come back later" is the solution multiple times in a row. This would have been so much better if they had a short line of dialogue like, "I should leave and return here later".

In the game's defense, maybe it was originally planned to be a segmented, episodic game like the others, and these would have been in separate segments. That would have helped a bit. It's more logical for there to be something new in the Lantern, because you're now on Episode 10, compared to "there is something new in the Lantern, because you had an unrelated conversation about a horseshoe".

So that's my main beef with the game: it follows an unclear sequence of events, and there's a lot of wandering around, even if you do things as quickly as possible.

I'm also kind of mad at a bad continuity error, at the end. To avoid spoilers, I'll use Batman names. Remember the scene where Bruce Wayne talks to Batman? The end of the game reveals that Bruce Wayne is Batman. That's impossible, because Bruce Wayne and Batman are two totally different people; we saw both of them talking to each other earlier. But the game apparently forgot about that scene. I didn't forget, and it annoyed me.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Nancy Drew TV Show

I have a confession to make: I've been lying about where I was, two weeks ago. I was actually in New York City, for the filming of the Nancy Drew TV show.

I was super-excited that they asked me to guest star in the pilot, even though this is the TV industry, so odds are that the pilot will never be seen on TV. But as it turned out, I'm not much of a guest star. I don't have any lines or, well, movement. I played the role of Corpse #3.

Basically, my body gets zipped up in a bag in the morgue, and that is it. I'm not usually claustrophobic, but I felt a little squeamish when they zipped me up and put me in the small, enclosed space. What if they forgot about me and left me to suffocate? The good news is that I didn't feel squeamish anymore, after the third take.

I didn't get a chance to talk to the actress playing Nancy, because she had to move on to the next scene. Sadness. But I did get to chat with the actor playing the morgue director, since he was the actor who zips me up and tells Nancy about when my body was found. Not the best role ever, but hey, at least he got some lines. It turns out that his paycheck tripled in size, because he got to speak on camera. Nice!

I didn't want to leave the set, so I snuck into the break room to get donuts. (They didn't have any.) That's where a woman came up to me and introduced herself as an agent from Simon and Schuster. You know, the book company that owns Nancy Drew? CBS owns them. You could kind of tell that both she and I had no business being on a TV set. Anyway, she knew who I was. It turns out that Simon and Schuster specially requested to have me on the TV show.

"But why?" I asked.

She leaned in close and said, "We wanted to kill you, because you keep giving us bad book reviews."

"Oh," I said. "April Fools."