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Dec. 28th, 2014 @ 10:15 am Dream Journal: Midwest Rust Belt Edition
Current Location: Long Island
My parents and I move to a nice, newish house just off a main road in some Midwest town. Two main roads run through the town, Montauk and Phila. (In real life, one is a main artery on Long Island and one is a small offshoot of Broadway in Saratoga.) The two run parallel to each other, separated by maybe ten streets in a business district. Montauk and Phila have high rises, almost like parentheses, and on either side of them residential areas start.

Two people visit us, though I forget the order in which they do so. I’ll try to reconstruct it.

Soon after we move in, this one guy comes by to say hello. I forget his name so let’s call him Dave. I ask you to call to mind the stereotypical Canadian lumberjack: flannel shirt, warm hat, thick jeans with maybe suspenders, and a fine later of dirt on his hands and face, just enough that it looks okay; he’d only get cleaner if he spent an hour and he’d only do that for a wedding.

Dave is friendly, but makes it clear that he doesn’t like our home. He and a collection of locals are forming BAMMF, and acronym whose meaning I forget but we’ll say it’s “[towncitizens] Against More Modern Façades”. They are trying to preserve the historic nature of the town, and are fighting against the new buildings going up – the high rises on the main streets and our modest family home the next street over. He leaves us with a warning about Rick, head of the informal Homeowners Association. As if on cue, this guy in a mint green polo shirt walks past, six… things in tow. Take a hedgehog and make it less cute, with more jaw. He walks them like barely controlled dogs.

(Rick, of course, being a reconstructed name, as I don’t think he was named.)

Later on, Rick comes knocking, his creatures left at home. He gives us some tips for the house, including the yard. (In real life, my yard is in pretty rough shape.) The town won’t let him create a formal HOA but he’s trying to get the neighborhood to look as nice as possible.

By way of comparison he takes us a few more streets off of the main street. The homes are older and there’s leftover infrastructure from the manufacturing heyday of the town. The tone is downtrodden, depressing. I grab some trinket, some small piece of piping work, as a sort of memento. This, it goes unspoken, is what Dave is trying to save.

We loop back to our road and start following it up. There’s some sort of rally forming and we take a spot on the bleachers. Rick speaks about the good his movement has done, showing the economic growth of the city, and how others would hold us back.

There’s a sound behind us. I turn to look and it’s Dave and some followers, carrying a few carts of antique furniture. I walk along the back row of bleachers following them, step down and somehow get in the way. Rick isn’t pleased and shoos me behind him; I’m now the last thing on his mind. The two exchange heated words, and a gate opens up near me.

The six beasts come out. There’s a small fence in front of the bleachers, so Rick’s followers are safe, but I’m not on the bleachers. I’m near them. They slowly move in on me. I manage to get back to Rick, but they pounce, and one grabs me by the leg. Rick turns to help get it off, and Dave says, “Now!”

More followers burst out of the furniture armed with various clubs. Fighting breaks out, BAMMF with a surprise advantage over HOA. We’re not on any side and hide with a few others in the bleachers. An HOA couple help me bandage up my leg, and express their disapproval of Rick’s methods but that they like what he’s trying to do.

We cut to a cinematic angle, a close-up of a BAMMF guy breaking out of an armoire. “Are we doing the right thing?” he frantically asks, giving me hope for their side as well.

“Or are we just letting bad things happen to good furniture?”

The dream pretty much ended there, presenting the choice of following a bad leader with good people or a good leader with bad people.

The dream was fairly economically classist. In real life plenty of people live in older houses and older towns perfectly happy and perfectly economically sound. It reveals my biases, though; I wouldn’t want to live in an older house, and Steph and I passed up a good number of nice houses largely because of their age and the neighborhoods they were in.

Anyway. That one was so detailed, and I remembered it so well, that I thought it was worth sharing. Hopefully you enjoyed it.
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Dr. Horrible Human Contact
Apr. 8th, 2013 @ 11:46 am (no subject)
Been a while. I was going to update on Vapes' moving road trip back in February... then this kinda fell off the grid. Think I'm more or less done with LiveJournal. We'll see.

BTW, when this gets imported to Facebook, might be a bit TMI concerning personal health.

Over the last... half year, maybe, my face has sort of erupted into... something. Acne, rosacea, some sort of redness and blisters or whatever. Just yesterday they started actually hurting with the slightest pressure. If the changing season doesn't alleviate it I'm pretty sure I'll have to scrounge up money from somewhere (that's a whole other post, I'm sure) and see a dermatologist. Kind of not eager to see what a sunburn might want to do on top of this.

Weirdly enough it's been doing Boter Cooks Something that first made me aware of it, now that I can look back through a dozen videos plus some blogs and see it progressing. If it gets any worse I might go camera shy, I don't want to do that. (Well, that or figure out some sort of makeup to hide it on camera, that'd go well...)
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Snow NINJ4
Jan. 17th, 2013 @ 12:13 pm Windows Phone 8
Alright. So I got my new Nokia Lumia 920 in on Tuesday, played with it a bit that night, and got it activated the next morning. Here are some thoughts on the phone, and it's operating system, the still-neophyte Windows Phone 8.

Cons: (listing these first so the post doesn't feel as negative)

No third-party browser.

Bing search.

No file manager.

No support from Google.

No customizing any notifications - text, mail, etc. - other than ringtones.

No built-in menu button.

Various other problems that can be summed up with "closed ecosystem".

Coming from Android, even a version as old as 2.3 (current is 4.1 or so), these were a shock to me. I love the way that Dolphin Browser on my Android handled searching and tabs. Type a search request into the address bar, it brings you to Google search results. Open something in a new tab, then scroll up or hit the menu button to see all of the tabs you've opened. IE10 is very different. It can open up to 6 "tabs" but you still need to hit a button to display all of the pages as tiles, Mac OSX Exposé style. That is not tabs. Also Dolphin would open as many tabs as the RAM could handle, and more, if you asked it to. Finally, IE10 doesn't have a forward button. I mean, what's up with that?

I have nothing against Bing search, aside from preferring Google. However, any search done with the phone uses the Bing app. Even if I type a search request into IE10's address bar (why is that at the bottom, BTW), it pops back to Bing. And since Bing isn't in the browser itself, you can't open up its results in a new tab.

There *is* a Google app, and it even functions as a rudimentary browser, but it doesn't have tabs, so my major complaint with the Bing/IE10 synchronicity goes unaddressed.

Lack of alternatives isn't (completely) the fault of developers that don't want to develop for a new mobile OS; it's Microsoft's fault for closing down the ecosystem. Apparently iOS is pretty closed off too; someone going from iOS to WinPho8 isn't going to have as much of a problem with this as me coming from Android, and the same goes for a number of my other downsides.

There's no file manager on the phone. I *can* connect it to my PC and browse its file system that way, which is an upgrade from previous versions of the OS, but I can't do so on the phone itself. This apparently was a huge security thing for them, they didn't want developers to access files in the system or from other developers. Makes sense, I suppose, but seems unnecessary. Since I can't access all of my files on my phone, and no developers can do so, there is no FTP app. If I take a picture and want to upload it to my web server, tough shit. It's to Facebook with you, or maybe Flickr or something. Also I took a picture then deleted it, but it's still there somewhere because it's still showing up in the Photos Live Tile.

A big blow to the operating system is Google's intense reluctance to develop anything for the system other than the aforementioned search app. that means no Google Drive app - something I was starting to use a lot - and no Gmail integration, among other things. (Gmail can be used on the regular mail app but some features of Gmail would be inaccessible.) These are of course all accessible through the browser, but... well, the browser. On a related note, Facebook won't develop an app for it either, leaving Microsoft to work with a reduced feature set when developing one on their own.

Notification customizing is pretty self-explanatory. I want my Halo 3 ODST note for texts, dammit.

There isn't a menu button built into the phone; instead, there's Back, Start, and Search. Most apps have a menu button in them already, but there's a few times when I've missed it.

Okay, Negative Nancy. That's stuff I don't like. What's that upshot? Well, I'm gonna use the web a lot less, I think. Before I got my Backflip, and later my Atrix, I couldn't dream of using the web on my phone. Now I use it all the time. Now I'll use it less.

Now, for stuff I do like.

Pros:

Style.

Integration.

Camera.

Dedicated buttons.

Camera button.

Looks like less, but stay with me. Style is a huge thing. I was ambivalent on Windows Phone 8's visual style, but it's quickly growing on me. The Live Tiles are great, each with the potential to be a widget in addition to the button that launches the program. The Start Page looks pretty cool. It has the potential to get cluttered, but with the ability to resize the Live Tiles and moev them around, an organized person can keep it together really well. The only downside is that to keep data and power consumption low, these will by default only update every 30 minutes or so unless you open them manually. Exceptions are apps made by Microsoft - Mail and the like.

The system relies a lot on text and very little on pictures. It's an all-digital system in an industry dominated my the skeumorphic - iOS and, to a lesser extent, Android. It's quite different, and many people prefer it. Me, I like different for the sake of different, so I'm enjoying this so far.

Furthermore, apps are integrated very well into the style. Open up the Facebook app and it is unmistakably on Windows Phone 8. (It also has less features, since as I already said it wasn't developed by Facebook itself.) Because of the issues with the browser I find myself using the apps a lot more. Mail works great, contact lists all work great, and all use WinPho8's unique design language. The phone imported my Hotmail contacts when I connected the account; I'm working on adding phone numbers to all of them currently. Well, no, I'm not, but I should be.

I like the style of the handset, too. Big, yes, heavy, yes, but very solid feeling, and very smooth. It has no battery door, so no replacing the battery, but that also means I won't abuse the battery door like I have on previous phones. I like the feel of the curved glass edges along the front. And with an absolutely flat top and bottom, I can stand my matte black phone up on my desk, monolith-style.

The camera is probably what sold me on this phone. Photos are looking great so far, guys, this is awesome. It's got a lot of controls, from ISO to white balance, though I can't manually set everything (exposure still uses the phone-standard +2 to -2 range, for instance). The Scenes could come in handy (Night Portrait I hear is great, and Backlight tells the phone not to expose for the blown-out window behind your subject).

When I say "dedicated buttons", I mean that Back, Start, and Search stay there at all times. I had this on my Atrix, but current Android phones don't do that anymore. Weird. At any time, I can go back, or just go straight back to the Start screen. Or use Bing if I'm feeling masochistic.

And oh, physical camera button. How I've missed you.

So. There's still a lot of adjustment going on. A lot to get used to. But I think I'll be able to adjust, and that which I can't fix I probably just won't use (that browser, ugh). Also, with how young the OS is, hopefully it keeps evolving while I own the phone and some of these get fixed. (Also, that they don't just go to a new OS version and leave 8 behind in the dust... 7 got at least a token update after 8 came out but that had only been out for a year.)
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Snow NINJ4
Jan. 14th, 2013 @ 06:47 pm (no subject)
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I realized a day or two ago, "Hey, Monday is Jen's birthday and I still haven't gotten her anything!" So, I decided to get her a gift card. I cooked up this plan leaving my first job today to make it more interesting.

And that is how, and why, I texted Jen and we played a text-based adventure game for her to redeem her card.

Transcript below, numbers changed and autocorrect/typos fixed. Also, first message was totally out of the blue, I can only imagine her puzzlement at seeing it and going, "Uh, okay..."


Welcome to your BIRTHDAY ALTERNATE REALITY GAME. Reply "1" to play or "2" to just skip straight to the gift.

-1

You are outside the enemy base. You don't know the passcode, but your inside source does. Who or what is your inside source?

-A Cyborg.

The Cyborg connects to your radio to tell you that he robo-rampaged through 123 of the enemy. You try that, and the door slides open.

A single guard is outside of an important-looking room. You take him out easily. How do you interrogate him to get the rooms' door code?

-I put in earplugs and play Justin Bieber's "Baby" until he talks. Screw the Geneva convention.

Two measures in and he's a whimpering... well, baby. "456!" he cries. "456!" You open the door and enter, leaving him to his musical misery.

You are confronted with the enemy mainframe, the last piece of the puzzle. Log into the terminal to continue.

-User/password?

Wow, their security is atrocious. 7890 blinks onto the screen.

You leave the base, all codes and intelligence in hand. Where do you go to enter the code?

-The back of a cereal box.

You turn the box around. It's Teem-O's!

Enjoy your League of Legends gift card! Happy Birthday!
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Shades, Gun 2
Jan. 12th, 2013 @ 10:37 pm (no subject)
In my defense... well, I have no defense. Life hasn't exactly been boring, but it's been samey. Go to work at Bigler, work at GameXChange a few times. Boter Cooks Something has resumed for the second half of the season on an every other week basis, it's the best I can manage while still having some free time. It's essentially a third job, albiet one that I don't get paid for (yet, I'm considering monetization but I don't quite know the legalities of it - do I need to voer brand names, what do I do for music, etc.). Especially since I don't have an actual NLE on my PC to speed up the editing. AE is capable and all but man, I've been spoiled by Final Cut at work. And before you ask, I prefer to keep my personal projects on my PC.

I'm also writing a script. I'm helping Vapes move at the beginning of next month and we want to have a road trip movie of some sort to keep us occupied on the drive. We threw around a few ideas, like criminals on the long drive to the border while they're on the run, but eventually went back to one that Vapes, as Key Pixel's very own Promoted Fanboy, has wanted to do for quite some time.

And so it is that on the way to his place, I will be stopping by my parents' and dusting off the ol' red cap.

Also along for the ride will be an upgraded phone. My Atrix is getting rough around the edges so coming in this Tuesday is a Nokia Lumia 920. I upgraded about a month early to get the free wireless charging plate and got the early upgrade fee waived because of it; yay.

Um, I think that's it for updates. Onto a couple of pictures!

Here's my car hitting 100,000 miles over Christmas break! Pretend that Steph, also in the car, was the one taking this. It's plausible because of the center-mounted dash. (Not to be confused with the dash-mounted Dash.)



And it was crazy foggy tonight; foggy most of the day but especially tonight. I love being able to see the beams from the headlights so clearly.

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Snow NINJ4
Jan. 3rd, 2013 @ 08:18 am (no subject)
In my defense, LiveJournal has been down for a couple days.

Really quick - and hopefully tonight I'll do my year wrap-up and resolutions, if I think of any.

Christmas was great. I worked Christmas Eve, then we went down to Dee's place. We came in at the tail end of Home Alone, and also watched Ted. The first half was Family Guy jokes drawn out too long (and not too funny too long, just too long), but the second half was genuine and I enjoyed it.

Tuesday morning we set out for her parents' place. It's a Christmas miracle - there was no traffic through the city!

We hung out there for a few days, seeing The Hobbit on Wednesday and hanging with Mina - and finally meeting her boyfriend - Wednesday night. (Cue his mock-disappointment that he couldn't remain so elusive.)

Joanna also got us hooked on a couple of quick apps, icon quiz games. Good stuff, I'm doing decently on the logo one but by no means stellar. Knowing foreign car companies hels a lot, thanks Forza!

Thursday we drove back to my parents' place. Dad immediately regaled us with the small differences between the Hobbit movie and the book-

Sorry, forgot to mention, saw it in glorious 24p2D-

and again we generally hung out, doing our gift exchange there as well. Jen went to the AT&T store to get a charging cable for her phone, and I looked at the red casing for the Nokia Lumia 920. Yep, that'll be my next phone. February 1st, baby.

We came back on Friday, and I worked Saturday until close, then came home and filmed a Boter Cooks Something episode. Jen and Josh came over Sunday, where we recorded the BCS season finale, and more people came over Monday night for a New Year's bash. The two of them, Shannon, Detlef, G'Andrew, even Web came by for a half hour or so as we watched Roger Rabbit. It ended just in time to watch the ball drop, then it was on to Avengers. Oh, we also did some Rock Band earlier in the night, using a few leftover Microsoft Points to get fun.'s "We Are Young".

I also played and finished Halo 4. O mans. Felt like Halo, with notable imports from Call of Duty but not in a bad way, and 343 also added a big emotional punch to the story that wasn't in previous main-series games (Reach could be argued for it though).

Back to work yesterday, for me and Steph, who'd been out of it for a spell as the company changed hands. I'm actually running late now, so I have to get going, but the requisite "haul" was games, movies, CDs, and some other things that were also cool. Good year for that; I feel bad not being able to afford much for people and hope that next year I'll have money/time to gift people back as they were able to do for me this year.
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Snow NINJ4
Dec. 22nd, 2012 @ 01:00 pm December 22, 2012
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December 22, 2012

So, the world came to an end yesterday.

Oh? It didn’t?

Yeah, I know.

You’re welcome.

Alright, so. Less cocky maybe. You know how in movies, or especially in video games, the world is going to end and only one person - you - can save it? That’s kinda where I was. Except, there wasn’t any sort of narrative disconnect. It was me. It... kinda sucked. No, no, that’s not right, it was awesome, at least looking back on it, but at the time it was as terrifying and exhausting as it was thrilling.

Let’s look back.

December 20, 2012 22:00 PM EST (03:00 UTC) Doomsday -02:00 (+3:00 UTC)Collapse )

December 21, 2012 04:00 UTCCollapse )

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December 22, 2012 13:00 EST (18:00 UTC)Collapse )
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Snow NINJ4
Dec. 18th, 2012 @ 01:10 pm (no subject)
We saw Trans-Siberian Orchestra last week. A lot of fun, especially since the show was of their second album, which I hadn't seen performed before. Also, weird that this should be the tipping point, but when I'm insured again, I should see a doctor about my light sensitivity. Starting to get aggravating.

Been sick since Friday, too. Scratchy throat then; yesterday was a ton of coughing and I'm started to get into the nose blowing phase today. I sorely hope that I'm better tomorrow so that I can get this wedding highlight wrapped up before the Christmas holiday hits.

Not much else. Work work work, both jobs.
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Snow NINJ4
Dec. 13th, 2012 @ 11:19 am Dream Journal: WeddingTF
Hey, quick, before I forget.

In my dream last night, I was getting married. Like, me and Steph, except that almost nothing was as we're planning it. We were in a church, is the biggest difference. I found myself in a greenish suit or tux, instead of... whatever we'll pick but it won't be green. And I had no idea what my vows were, I was reading and studying them during the rest of the ceremony (which was also weird). Also, unity candle, which I'm pretty sure we won't use. Probably sand but we haven't decided.

I think it was sorta a wake-up call of sorts to be sure to have stuff planned out. There's so much we haven't done yet, and sure, we have time, but a phrase that kept repeating was, "It goes by so fast."
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DeamonBoter
Dec. 9th, 2012 @ 09:50 am (no subject)
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We are most hilarious right before bed. In a stunning case of, "You had to be there," We were all talking in Batman and Bane voices. Bryan kept repeating a mantra of "Justice," and we were repeating lines both from the movie and from some fan works.

After a lull, Bryan commented - still in Batman voice - "My throat hurts."

I said, also in the voice, "You should try a lozenge." Then ensuing moment of laughter let me assemble the next bit. "Get some Halls. Then they'd be... Halls of Justice."

Two or three minutes of uninterrupted laughter.

Later on, for some reason, we were referencing a ton of Tom Cruise movies. Bryan said as Batman, "You complete me."

Me as Bane: "You had me at hello!"

So, Pixmas is fun.
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James, UCF