UT2004: Winkyboy.com Overhaul Imminent!

>> Tuesday, December 25, 2007

I'm going to totally dump the winkyboy.com site and upgrade it to the latest DotNetNuke portal. Sadly, this means all the user accounts will be gone. I can't import them because the jump between v2 and v3 of DNN just won't allow it. (I'll be jumping all the way to v4) There's just so much more that can be done with the newer DNN.

I haven't touched the editor since September, and I still want to finish the last map for the SeaPack before getting into some UT3 stuff. I have bought the game (naturally) but haven't gotten into editing for it, yet. The SeaPack is the last remaining UT2004-related stuff I need to get out the door, and DeepSix really is close to completion.

For what it's worth, the old Winkyboy forum did have some nice hits in the day. I don't have any tracker on the latest incarnation, but it's nice to be able to look back on these numbers:


Rhymes of the months relating to Marriage

>> Monday, December 17, 2007

I've been carrying around this little scrip of paper for most of my life; it's been moving from book to book as a marker and I've always intended to DO something with it - thus, time to DIGITIZE and put it on the web.  It's a clipping from a newspaper, and I'll just post the entire text right here:

Dear Miss Page: Will you please give me the rhymes of the months relating to marriage? It begin, "Marry when the year is new." - SOPHIE

Marry when the year is new,
Always loving, kind and true.

When February birds to mate,
You may wed, nor dread your fate.

If you wed when March winds blow,
Joy and sorry both you'll know.

Marry in April when you can,
Joy for maiden and for man.

Marry in the month of May,
You will surely rue the day.

Marry when June roses blow,
Over land and sea you'll go.

Those who in July do wed,
Must labor always for their bread.

Whoever wed in August be,
Many a change are sure to see.

Marry in September's shine,
Your living will be rich and fine.

If in October you do marry,
Love will come, but riches tarry.

If you we in bleak November,
only joy will come, remember.

When December's snows fall fast,
Marry, and true love will last.


Programming: Flash: Kerning Dynamic Text Fields

>> Thursday, December 13, 2007

Thanks to Random, I whipped up this function that allows you to set the kerning value of any dynamic text field in actionscript.

function kernText(whichField, kerning)
    whichField.html = true;
    var newFormat:TextFormat = new TextFormat();
    newFormat.letterSpacing = kerning;
    //newFormat.font = "Arial";


Making Facebook more user-friendly

>> Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Jumping straight to the goods, after this disclaimer: Use Firefox, it's got the ability to make browsing what it should be.
  • Absolutely use Adblock Plus!
    • This makes ALL of your internet surfing practically AD-FREE. Seriously.
    • Once installed, also make sure to add "http://*facebook.com/beacon/*" (without the quotes) to the blacklist - this denies the tracking by Beacon (even if they do re-enable it. I understand they turned it off after all the hullabaloo) This is adapted from the Idea Beacon blog.
  • Get the Boost plugin for Firefox .
    • Auto-login (read the note for the Toolbar Auto-login!)
    • Quick-zoom rollovers for all Pics
    • Easier (lazy! Yes!) Pokes
    • Download photo albums, stylish/Ajax album view
    • Skins
    • Hide All Ads (It almost works 100% - see Greasemonkey note below)
    • Pop-up notifications for many useful things
    • Side-bar of friends' status changes
  • 8hands – standalone social network unifier
    • Displays update alerts from multiple social networks, such as Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, YouTube, Flickr, etc.
    • Note that this is alpha state software. I've noticed that it crashes sometimes - not often - and I've seen some other odd quirks here & there, but nothing really horrible. I think the worst is that it's not memory-optimized yet. But it still only takes up 10-20 meg, I think.
  • TwitterSync (Facebook app)
    • Monitors your Twitter status (recommended to set it as Public) and syncs your Facebook status when Twitter changes.


Health: Diet: Found the plateau.

>> Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Being at home all the time, while quite enjoyable, disrupts my ability to regulate when and where - and how much - I eat.  Thus I seem to have found myself once again at a weight loss plateau.  The scales haven't changed for about four days now, even when I swear I've done enough in the day to deliver improvement.  Being that much closer to the exercise machines doesn't seem to help, either. It's all a mental attitude of Just Getting To It. 

I've also noticed that - while still far from "bad" - my diet tends toward the heavier foods when I'm at home.  You see, I really enjoy being able to cook for my family when I get the chance, and when I do so I often stretch for the fancier gourmet menu choices WHICH often include high calorie menu items.  Twice in the past week, I've made scrumptious varieties of chocolate chip cookies.  Twice, I've also made chocolate waffles with a banana ganache for breakfast.  Delicious, but not helping!

Having finished my three most recent health related books, my mind no longer seems *constantly* focused on the greens, either.  This is upsetting.  I'll need to re-read something, or get a new health-conscious book to keep my focus, I think.  That actually reminds me: it's been a handful of years since I read one very important book, Lick the Sugar Habit.  This is one of the first books that really opened my eyes to how awful the American food supply has become, pointing out how sugar (usually in the form of high fructose corn syrup) is in practically everything.  Eating sugar with a meal causes the vitamin and mineral content of the food - no matter how good it is - to be drained, essentially because the body prefers to digest the sugars first since they're  easier to work on.  This allows the good food to enter your intestinal tract in a state that's not really ready for digestion.  This is also what causes some allergies; undigested food due to sugar intake.  Okay, yeah.  Time to re-read that one.


Work: Days Off

So I've a few days of PTO saved up and since they don't carry over, I've decided to just take a couple of days off each week.  It's working out fairly well so far, but I think I could be using my time off more efficiently than I am.

I've only gotten a couple of non-work work tasks finished.  The kids do get "in the way" of getting things done but I can't use that as an excuse, I think. I'm sure that if I put my mind to it, I wouldn't wander off track and onto Facebook, for example.  (However, in defense, its really easy to start there while holding the baby since its difficult to use the keyboard, and once started on FB it's hard to stop.)

My parents need something different and better to do for work, too.  Delivering motorhomes is interesting - WAS interesting to begin with, but now they're  finding it wears on them too much.  It's really a job for someone without a family, too, I think.  You're just away from home far too much to lead any sort of regular life.  On top of that, if (God forbid) you should get in an accident - which is statistically more probable once you put yourself on the road in a commercial manner - you're pretty much guaranteed to lose money.  The deductable on these units is set incredibly high, which means your employer is going to be paying out of pocket for most accidents that might happen.  This doesn't sound too bad until you know that you (the driver) have to put down a hefty deposit before driving.  Your employer, then, takes the first part of the deductable from YOUR deposit, naturally, so you're actually the one paying for any "minor" accident.  You wind up losing money even when the accident isn't  your fault, which understandably is very frustrating.


Games: Bioshock vs. System Shock 2

>> Monday, December 03, 2007

Having finished Bioshock some weeks back, I found myself immediately pining for the "good old days" of its predecessor, System Shock 2.  Like a typical fanboy, I found myself complaining about this  beautiful new, highly polished gem that had been delivered to me.  But in seeking to be honest about my gaming analysis, I discovered the need to play "the original" again.  For the fourth time through.

If you want to skip the details and get right to the two cents, I firmly believe the SS2 is better than BIO.  That having been said, here's why: 

I will not even attempt to compare the graphics of the two games; you'd have to be dead not to realize that BIO outshines SS2 in that department as if it were on fire.  The differences in the two systems lie in the gameplay, interface, and as a personal choice, in theme.

A longstanding argument between console and PC games is that the controls of a console will simply never match those of a PC.  Until such day as consoles are delivered with a mouse and keyboard as their primary input device, PCs will forever have the input advantage over consoles.  BIO has, quite clearly, been programmed with a console player as the primary user, and it poisons the game as if a starvng man were fed nothing but honey.  Delicious, but sickening.

Unfortunately I have not actually played the XBOX version of the game, so I can't give a full rundown of all the differences.  The first time it was really obvious to me that there were differences was when I mentioned how sickeningly easy the "hacking game" was.  Anyone who's played th PC version of this knows that the pipe-flow minigame becomes so repetitive that it just ruins the fun of BIO.  My XBOX-playing friend had no idea what I was talking about.  Whereas the PC version of this minigame tops off about two hours into the main game, the XBOX version apparently continues to get more difficult until the finish.  What a pathetic toss to the consoler, making the gameplay dependent on one's physical control being limited.

While I'm talking about the pipe game, this is also a KEY point of difference between the two games.  In BIO, when accessing a panel to hack, the world stops and waits for you to finish your little game so you can give your full concentration to making the pipes connect up.  Even if you have to jump into the air to reach the camera you want to hack, you will freeze in mid-jump while you hack the camera.  You can make a mad dash and stop in front of the barrel of an auto-cannon, but if you press the hack button fast enough, no problem, it'll wait for you to convert it from the dark side.  A real game, like SS2, sends zombie and attack bot after you without cease as the alarm is going off during your pathetic attempts to rewire the it (until you die).  Not only that, but your hacking skill is FELT as you simply try to light up three program nodes in a row.  Hacking is hardly even a "game" in SS2, but it reaches out to you and makes you feel like you're accomplishing something as you do it.

When I reached the final stages of BioShock, I felt there was pretty much nothing else left to accomplish.  Yes, there were a few minor upgrades I could still buy, but there was no point because no enemy even gave me a flicker of worry.  Some of my weapons stayed at full ammo capacity all the way through; it was SO easy that I didn't even need all the methods of attack.  This is poor map design, unless (God forbid) it was intentionally made this easy for the console player.  Compare this to SS2, where you find yourself spending your last credit on ammo even in the final stages of the game.

In SS2 it is clearly evident throughout the game that there are distinct paths you could choose from, and it matters as well.  If you choose to go with the military (weapons) route, you'll  have access to some of the best guns in the game, but you can pretty much forget about tech or psi if you want the best of the heavy artillery.  Even if you choose the military path, you're still not going to get the ability to use the best weapon of every weapon type.  In other words, it matters what you choose because at the end of the game you're going to be playing in a very specific style of your own choosing.

With BIO, they touted the ability to attack enemies with a wide variety of methods, such as lighting an enemy on fire and electrocuting the water when they run to douse their flames.  This is very cool in concept, and I did have it happen once or twice, but in execution it wound up entirely implausible, or impossible, for two reasons.  First, it was just far easier to shoot the enemy dead with a weapon that WOULD kill instantly, and second, it wasn't very easy to tell when there was water or oil sitting around of which to take such advantage.

Finally, theme.  The noir style of BIO is very beautiful, scary, and alluring.  But it just doesn't fit to have "weapons upgrade stations" or "ammo depositories" littered about the city as they were.  I read some justification attempts about this saying something like, "the city had deteriorated to the point where such things would be feasible."  But would they EVER be feasible?  What person or company has time to develop gun and ammunition VENDING MACHINES in the middle of a civil revolt?  It just doesn't fit, and really served as a constant reminder to you that: You're playing a game.  However, of course, in SS2 these kinds of things fit a lot more - the military/sci-fi theme simply lends itself to acquiring new and better weapons as a way of life. 

The "zombies" created from genetic mutation caused by the Many are also far more plausible than the drugged-up non-zombies that wander around BioShock.  Just a note.

That's my rant.  For now.


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