Friday, December 28, 2012

It's the Mislabeling That Gets Me Most.

Over a year and a half ago I really got my nose bent out of shape over cartoon nudity. It was in the span of one weekend where I watched episodes of Family Guy and American Dad that had exposed wiener hanging out all over the place. Then there was an anime based off a manga I liked. I was expecting a bunch of female nudity and got none of that and instead was treated to tons of male nudity. (I promised never to talk about that series again. Here's a hint: It's about a foxgirl trying to be a “dog-god.”) I took to this blog and ranted all day about it. In the ensuing hissy I glossed over a couple of important points.

The first one is that while I would rather not see nudity or have cursing in my cartoons, I don't mind it as long as I'm warned ahead of time. Picking up a copy of UFO Ultramaiden Valkyrie complete collection I flip it over and read the back. Runaway alien princess crash lands into a boy's bathroom and they become emotionally entangled and engaged to be married. (Where have I seen that before?) With the corresponding pictures that leave nothing to the imagination and a “TV MA SL” rating I give it a try. It was cheap enough. It was in the discount bin, for good reason. Overall I had no problem with the nudity because I knew it was coming. The thing that scared me most was the fact it was originally made by Kaishaku.

The second point, and I think this is the most important one, is when things are mislabeled. I have found so much of this I don't know where to start. Well, I mentioned American Dad earlier. It does say uncensored and contains language and parental discretion. Right above that is the letter “G.” One would assume for general audiences. I remember there being a few F-bombs and it does contain the episode in which Stan's pud falls out of his PJs. (It also has the one which a couple of chicks take their tops off.) That would confuse any parent. It gets worse. Pani Poni Dash. Ten year old child genius Rebecca Miyamoto goes to Japan to teach a high school class of eccentrics. With an over your head stream of anime and manga references from the 60's and 70's this is rated PG. How does it get that with the nudity?

Galaxy Angel has been my guilty secret this year. I have put forth great effort in acquiring as much of the series as possible on DVD. That has proved to be incredibly difficult. Unfortunately I came to this series too late. I may be in luck, there seems to be a Blu-ray complete set available only in Japan, I hope it does come out over here. Galaxy Angel is cute, funny, and just a blast to watch. One of the more surprising elements were a few episodes dealing with wounded warriors. Even given the ten minute limit, they were exceptionally well done and told a great story. However (Probably saw that coming the moment you saw the words “Galaxy Angel”) there is an episode with nudity in it. The box says suggested for ages 13 on up.

I talk to all kinds of people. It runs the gamut from religious fanatics to anti-religious fanatics. Most parents agree they don't want that kind of thing in their households. They don't mind it personally, we've all read Playboy and Penthouse, they don't want their kids watching and taking it to school.

Sometimes I'm asked about a series. If I have watched it, like To Love Ru, I'll say: “Runaway alien princess crash lands into a boy's bathroom and they become emotionally entangled and engaged to be married. (Where have I seen that before?) To Love Ru is pretty generic story telling and breaks no new ground at all. Motto To Love Ru and the OVAs are not much different. To Love Ru Darkness has much improved writing and storytelling. It is rated TV 14 D for sexually suggestive dialogue. I guess because there wasn't much talking in that scene in episode one where Lala is totally naked and Rito had his hands on her breasts.”

If I hadn't watched a series they asked about? I'll direct them to YouTube.


Excel Saga. This was buy one get one free. For a dollar. Like Pani Poni Dash years later its sub focus was parodying just about everything. Fortunately most of the jokes were from the 80's and 90's so I was able to get them. The animation blew me away. This was made in the late 90's. Compared to what we get today, most of the 90's doesn't really hold up all that well. I think that had a lot to do with what was being ported over at the time. Dragon Ball and Sailor Moon's animation quality can't hold a candle to Animaniacs. (Toei to this day looks twenty years older than everybody else. Compare Air the TV series to Air the Movie.(Imagine if Sailor Moon had been made by J.C. Staff?))

I watched this two times in a row. First the English dub which was one of the best I ever heard. Then again Japanese dub with subtitles and ADV Vid Notes. (Not as prolific as Pani Poni Dash, but still a big help. (I call it Pani Poni Pause because I do that a lot since they are on screen for only a second.)) All the time I was scratching my head wondering why Excel Saga was rated 17+. There was no nudity. Sure there was cursing. Which was completely necessary. It wasn't in the original Japanese dub. So why put it in the English version? This could have been rated PG-13. Opens up a much larger audience. People complain all day and night about the restrictions put on the movie industry by the rating board. These individuals obviously haven't ever looked at the box office receipts for rated G, PG, PG-13, and R. Rare is the rated R movie that scores big.

Then there was the final episode. Yes, I was very disturbed by this episode, but there was a warning on the box, and a warning in the previous episode's review for the next episode. Therefore I gots nothing to complain about. I was warned. Though I wondered why this episode couldn't have been packaged with Puni Puni Poemy. Would have been a perfect fit. (Sailor Moon made a split second cameo in this series. She looked much better than any episode made by Toei.)

Mislabeling goes both ways. Some get labeled most harsher than they need be, some get labeled much softer. What's a parent to do? Here is a site your kid told me about where you can watch and download anime and manga for free.

In closing: I would rather not have the nudity and bad language, but If the cover says it's in there, I won't bitch. Hasting ain't taking money out of my pocket and leaving behind copies of TV MA Rosario Vampire.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Windows OEM Disk Key Trick.

If I had known about this years ago I wouldn't have bought so many copies of Windows XP. Every time I bought a new computer I would buy an OEM copy of XP. Almost all store bought systems like Dell, Toshiba, Lenovo, et al. come with tons of crapware that just slows things down and takes up all your hard drive space. Using an OEM disk I could wipe the hard drive and just have the stuff I really wanted on it. I found out years later that I only ever needed to do was buy one disk. First of all I was fooled by the hype from Micro$oft that said once a key was activate it was permanently attached to that system. Nope. You can transfer it to another. If the auto-activation fails just call MS and tell them that you changed the motherboard or some such. The next thing I would find out is that the sticker with the CD key can be used with a plain vanilla OEM disk from Microsoft.

There are some things you have to know to make this trick work right. You have to match up the version of Windows listed on the sticker with the same OEM disk. So for instance you have to use the CD key for XP Home with an OEM XP Home disk. You can't mix and match Home and Pro. Same thing with Vista, 7, and 8. You also must match bits. 32-bit with 32-bit and 64 with 64. Disks will be labeled, stickers not so. Most XP machines will be 32-bit. Vista machines are pretty much a crap shot. Win 7 boxes will mostly be 64-bit. (I have found some 32s.) Win 8 I have yet to find one that is 32-bit. Now if you can access the hard drive it's easy. If there is a folder named "Program Files (X86)" you have a 64-bit system.

When the prompt to input the key comes up in Windows XP, Vista, and 7 all you have to do is type in the key on the sticker affixed somewhere on the tower or the underside of the laptop. If activation fails call Microsoft. Nowadays they have a computer system for this and ironically enough it is easier than talking to a person.

Now Windows 8 is a different animal. No stickers. Go look. I went to several stores and found not one machine with a sticker on it. I did some digging and discovered that the key is now in the BIOS. Meaning the Micro$oft has finally won the battle. They have been trying for years to force PC vendors to do something like this. Ostensibly to stop pirates. That is a problem. Demo models on stores shelves are easy prey. Copy the key down and you have a free copy of Windows. In reality it is a way to force people to buy a new copy of Windows if the motherboard croaks. Are these companies really going to waste storehouse space keeping thousands of spare motherboards for each variation of computers they make? They'll probably wind up charging you for a new copy of Windows every time you send it in to be fixed.

However, the trick works. I was able to use an OEM Win 8 disk on a store bought system. The key was automatically inputed. (I used a key sniffer app on the original hard drive and on the one I used. Remember those hard drives Staples had on sale?) One caveat though: I didn't try activation. Oddly enough the machine wasn't activated to begin with. I didn't want to activate with a hand drive that I put in, I would rather use the original.

Why even buy an OEM disk? Can't you make one? Yes. You are allowed to and supposed to make a back up copy based upon the stored image on a hidden partition on the hard drive. It saves PC manufacturers all of a dollar to make you burn your own copy. The problem is that it also puts all the crapware on that copy. The OEM disk is just Windows.

Once again: Why buy an OEM disk? You can burn your own copy. Okay, but on occasion I work on other people's computers. Usually they haven't made that copy. I can use my own OEM copies on many different computers. When it comes to drivers all I have to do is download them form the vendor's web site. Also if their system has been infected with malware, there is a probability the the re-install hard drive partition has been infected as well.

Aren't OEM disks expensive? Doesn't that add a lot to the cost of a computer? Yes. Something like OEM disks are for people like me who like to experiment and tinker. Check with your local mom and pop computer store. The one I go to will make you a copy of Windows and sell it to you for about ten dollars. Providing you show them the original sticker.

Finally on an unrelated note: Rosenkreuzstilette Freudenstachel does work on Windows 8. The original version and 103a.

Friday, December 14, 2012

From Fraudenstachel to Freudenstachel: How to use RKSF patches.

Most common time for me to catch a mistake in a comic: one minute before posting it.

Second most common time to catch a mistake: one minute after posting it.

Third most common time: years and years later.

As good as the programmers are with our favorite video game franchise, mistakes will slip by. Some are not obvious to begin with. For instance why the game crashes to desktop randomly. It doesn't happen all the time. Try as you might you can't get it to repeat the crash while the screen capture software is running. Or why does the Rush Coil not appear even though you're using the Iris Stage password?

Fortunately there are patches to fix this. (Insert line from Blazing Saddles here.)

Using the RKSF patches is different from the Rosenkreuzstilette patches. The RKS ones use an EXE file the bring you to a menu that makes you search all over your hard drive to find the game and copies the new files over for you. RKSF makes you do all the copying and pasting.

As always you must make a backup copy of the original. Staples recently had a sale on 500GB hard drives. I bought a bunch. So I gots plenty of space.


I'm using Windows 7 so I don't need to unzip the files. All you have to do is just click on it like a normal folder. Highlight all the files and just right-click and Copy or hit Ctrl+C.

Here you will need to click "Copy and Replace."


Here click "Yes."

Now you have a fully upgraded version of Rosenkreuzstilette Freudenstachel. Of course it resets your controller configuration.

I keep an original copy of the game so I can continue to enjoy stuff like:

And
(Being pointed out by a guy who routinely misspells the name of his own web site.)

That second image leads me into a rant that I'll keep short. Whenever the word Asian is used to describe a person, some people will start the whole L/R stereotype BS. Doesn't matter if the country is Japan, Korea, China, Vietnam, or wherever. It bugs me because I spent two years in Korea and half the country is named "Lee." I have even gone so far as to engage in conversations with Korean-American friends of mine just to see if a joke I wanted to do in the comic would work. Ultimately I just let it go. You're not going to change a stereotype overnight. Things like that image up there don't help.

Friday, December 7, 2012

That Whole Eye Surgery Thing.

I seriously doubt there is anyone who was reading the comic back in 2006 that still is. I know that no one is going into the archive to read the Season 18 run of comics. In them is a series of comics of me poking fun of an eye surgery.

That all started when I was just a little boy. I was born with a defect in my eye that if I didn't get fixed I would have gone blind in that eye. Due to circumstances beyond my family's control, I was never able to get the follow ups I needed. It really wasn't much of an issue. I can't see what I call "artificial 3D." When you put those goggles on what I see is barf inducing semi-interlaced double images. That aside I was still able to get my driver's license and graduated high school (thank goodness for spell checks, guess which one in this sentence I got wrong on the first try.) My eye was not much of an issue. The state has me declared legally blind in that eye, but they have never given me any guff over it.

The Army on the other hand.

Since I couldn't pass the eye test with that eye I couldn't get licensed by my company. So each and every time went to a new unit I had to go to the ophthalmologist and get permission from the doctor to drive a Humvee. Every time I saw the doctor they would say they could fix that problem. I turned them down because I simply didn’t have the time and as a private I had no pull. They also didn’t explain to me what was going on.

Then one did. He told me that while the surgery I had as a kid wasn't new, no one had done any follow up surveys until years after my surgery. It had been found out that the charts used at the time were off by one millimeter. Using the new charts he could fix my eye and if that was successful I could have normal vision like everybody else. I decide to do it because I was now a sergeant and had some pull. Also I had decided not to re-enlist and go home anyway so get it done now. I could get it done before going to Afghanistan and it should heal up a short while later. I talked it over with my chain of command and in December of 2004 I went under the knife.

2005 turned into the year of hell for me and my eye was to blame for most of it. You see, double vision was supposed to be a good thing. Why? That meant my brain was still using my eye. After things healed up my eye would go into its proper position and thing would be good. That never happened. After six months things got bad. The double vision was making me nauseous and I was having dizzy spells whenever object at high speed moved from eye to eye. I tried toughing it out as much as possible but by the end of the year I was sent home from Afghanistan to get more surgery.

Little over a year after this whole thing started I had two more surgeries which put me back to where I was before this whole thing started, mostly. If I'm tired from a long day of work, sometimes the double vision will be there. A good nap takes care of that.

I think it was a valuable lesson learned. If it really doesn't need to be fixed, then don't.

I don't blame any one but myself for all the trouble I went through. I'm the one who said yes.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Discworld Noir: An Exercise in Futility.

Update 1-18-15

I spent some time in the past week loading up Windows 10 and trying out Discworld Noir. It was pretty frustrating at first because my test machine for some reason doesn't like DWN. I did everything. Even went into the registry to reroute all the paths and rename the file on the C drive. Let me tell you what, Windows 10 is not easy to learn for people who have been using Windows for about 15 years. (Any particular reason why Accessories needed to be renamed and moved to the bottom of the Start menu?) The test machine was a failure.

During the weekend I loaded Windows 10 on my main machine and Discworld Noir worked about as well as you'd expect. On a new game you have to play in windowed mode until you have control of Lewton then you can go back to full screen. An interesting tidbit for loading saved games I learned is that when you are on the title screen you can press F1 to bring up the menu and load a game that way. No crashing at full screen.

I did do some checking into the Debug Mode I heard about and couldn't find any results other than a forum of people more devoted to this game than I. No specifics on how to enable Debug Mode. I'll be honest, while I do like the game, the only real reason I continue to do such research on it is because it is the number one draw to this blog. Far surpassing sprites, foxgirls, magical frauleins, and bipolar vampire chicks.




Update 10.5.14

Ran a couple of tests on a tech preview of Windows Ten. Don't bother trying to install Discworld Noir. It is now too unstable to play for long. The only way I could get it to go is by clicking the "tin3_dxd.exe" file on the CD. Then it would crash randomly. The Playstation version does seem to work fairly decently. Just have to figure out how to properly configure the plugins.

I have no plans to mess with it beyond that. Maybe after the retail version of Windows 10 goes on sale I'll try to see if I can get Discworld Noir to work through a virtual machine.



Update 8.10-21-13.

Turns out I have been over thinking it the whole time. (Never thought I'd see the words "I" and "over thinking" in the same sentence.)  All you have to do is install it normally. Here is the catch: each and every time time you want to play it you have to click on "New Game." On top of that you need to hit Alt and Enter to put it Windowed Mode. Then hit Esc until you have control of Lewton. Now you can go back to full screen and press F1 to load a game. So far I have had only one crash to desktop, but that was totally my fault. I was trying to look up the Registry values in my Windows 8.1 test machine and compare them to the ones on my Win 7 machine.

You see I have been having an issue now for years trying to get Discworld Noir to run on my particular Win 7 rig. Turns out I needed to fix the entries in the Registry. Since I run 64 bit the keys are in a different place.

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Wow6432Node\Perfect Entertainment\Discworld Noir
 After adjusting the "Paths" the game played fine, almost. Had to do the same process as detail above. (Note "Wow6432Node" Also note that this may (will) not represent your setup. I got involved in trying out the L-Space fix. On top of that I used ISOs I downloaded instead of the original disks I used on the 8.1 machine. I don't have the foggiest idea why it is this way in Win 7. I always test the 64 bit version of Win 8 and never had a problem with the game in that sense.)

On another note: I kinda sorta suggest getting the Discworld Noir no CD patch. I scanned it as it was downloading, I scanned it after downloading, I scanned it after unzipping, I scanned it after patching tin3_dxd.exe. So far nothing bad has happened. Makes the game much less of a hassle to play and I swear makes it a little more stable.




UPDATE! UPDATE! UPDATE! 6-23-2013!

NEW ROSENKREUZSTILETTE SLIDESHOW IS NOW UP AND RUNNING!

In other news: Discworld Noir is now up and running on Windows 8.

Here is what you need:
Windows 98 SE (Boy have those prices gone up.)

direct_x_9c-redist (Optional. I got the game to work without it.)
(I made sure to save copies if they should ever disappear off of the live web.)

Step 01: Install VMware Player.
Step 02: Set memory to 64MB and HDD to 5GB. (You can set it higher if you want.)
Step 03: Install Windows 98 SE on the virtual machine.
Step 04: Place VBE9X and SBPCI on Win 98 Desktop.
Step 05: Right click My Computer, Properties, Device Manager tab, Display adapters, double-click listed adapter, click Driver tab, Update Driver, Next, make sure “Search for a better driver...” is selected, click Next, deselect “Floppy...” and select “Specify a location,” click Browse, navigate to VBE9X folder and select “Uni,” click OK, keep clicking Next until done.
Step 06: Restart. (I forgot how much Win 98 loves to restart.)
Step 07: Double-click SBPCI and install.
Step 08: Restart, again.
Step 09: Install Discworld Noir.

Playing Discworld Noir:
When you start a new game you will need to hit Alt+Enter immediately after clicking on “NEW GAME.” For some reason during the opening sequences the game will crash to desktop. The graphics will be screwed up, but this is the only way to get past the crash zones. Once you see (if you can) Lewton standing in his office hit Alt+Enter again to go back to full screen. 
(Press the Esc key often to warp past all of this.)

I have not played the whole game so I have no idea where else the game may crash. So employ RPG Rule #1: SAVE OFTEN! Then there is a small issue with sound. The voices just aren't quite right. On my test machine they sound is if they are talking into a cup. Then with headphones they had a slight electronic sound to them. Oh well. It now works.

That is until Windows 9.

Be sure to click for a larger view to a thrill.
 Now back to your regularly scheduled and very wrong blog post.

What in the world ever made me think that I could play this game on Windows 7 and Windows 8? Well, the fact that I am playing it on Win 7. Now I'm not talking about the PlayStation version. That works on Win 7 and 8. Surprising since the emulator I use is about seven years old. However, while the PSX version is a more polished game, the PC version is more fun and easier to play. It was designed for a mouse not a controller.

The PC version of Discworld Noir presents a very unique challenge to play on modern systems. Hell, it was a chore to get it to run on Windows 98. Most of the conversation I found tended to center around running it natively or in DOSBox. That talk was several years old and didn't discuss newer operating systems.

So now I come in. I'm having a fun time playing this game on Win 7 I want to tell the whole world about it. Now comes a challenge. You see I don't have your standard setup that most people have. Most just buy their systems off the shelf. The most common version of Win 7 is Home 64 bit. The most common version of Windows 8 is Windows 8 64 bit. I wanted to give a clear concise set of instructions that anybody can follow to play Discworld Noir on their machine.

After about a day or so I gave up. I did get the game to play, but it ran like crap. I tried many different setups but each one failed in some way. I'm not going to bore you and describe each one, I'm going to to skip ahead to the ones that actually had some success. On Windows 7 using Virtual Box with Windows 98 installed. On Windows 8 using VMWare and Windows 98. In both instances I had to use an independent set of video drivers that really do not work all that well. The sound would be static-y or the video would be choppy. (By the way: VMWare doesn't have audio drivers for Win 98.)

I was disappointed.

Okay, now how am I playing Discworld Noir on Win 7? You see, Microsoft Virtual PC 2007 does work on Win 7 Pro and Ultimate. It has the drivers you need to run Windows 98.

What is the point in writing about a failure? Well, I'm hoping that some day someone a whole lot smarter than me may see this and go “Oh hell, all he needed to do was this.” Then comment in on how to fix things.

There are some bonuses to having done this project. I had to work with Windows 8 quite a bit. While it didn't win me over, I found it to be not as bad as I thought. There's this myth running around that Win 8 is just Win 7 with a Start Screen. No. No. I could not get Microsoft Virtual PC, WindowsVirtual PC, or Virtual Box to work on it. (Update: VB does work now on Win 8.) I found that the Start Screen to be really nothing more than the Start Menu with the functionality of the desktop.

I got introduced to a nifty little program called MagicISO. At first it's not obvious how to use it, but I was able to figure it out after awhile. The free version is fine for about 99% of everything you need to do. I had to use ISOs because Win 98 doesn't recognize thumbdrives and I have never been able to get shared folders to work.

The most important thing I did: After all these years I finally went out and bought a real copy of Discworld Noir.


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Sunday, November 11, 2012

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Rosario Vampire Season 2 Volume 10.

Total number of panty shots: Two, maybe three.


At the end of the last volume we were told to expect this one in October. Well, October rolls around and nothing. Ironically enough not even by Halloween. (Though I think it is kind of poetic that a monster manga comes out on Election Day.) The most surprising thing was that it came out in electronic form first. I got an email from Viz saying so. I thought that was incredibly stupid. If they had changed the way the images were stored on the iPad I could see it, but they are still stored as individual JPEGs. They got it right before: Sell the hard copies for a couple of months and then release the digital version. This is the smart way because no doubt there is someone seeding torrent sites with official copies as I type this out. 

It was interesting to read it that way first. The backlight of the iPad really helped me see all the detail put into it. The screen size really enhances the readability of the manga format used by Viz Media. It is really-really nice to be able to read a page flat as it was intended without it having a bend.

Overall. The writing was a little hack in this volume. Explaining Fairy Tale's plan with Moka and Alucard twice. The whole boss rush thing. Character development did get pushed a little but was overshadowed by other elements. The background artwork was mostly outstanding but was punctuated by simplicity. Same with the characters. This is a technique employed by artists the world over. They work their asses of to put awesomeness out for a few pages and then switch to ink saving, time saving, writer's camp/carpal tunnel preventing giant head on white background. I did notice what seems to be a style change going on. It's in the eyes.

Did I say "Boss Rush?" Oy Vey. 

These types of stories get tedious after awhile. Made even more so because I am concurrently reading Oh My Goddess. Its boss rush is running somewhat similar to Rosavam's: The overwhelming power of the boss is defeated by the clever tactics of the goodguys. The badguys are really nothing more than monster-of-the-day with no backstory to make you care about what is going on. You do learn a little bit more about the goodguys, but it seems more of a retcon than anything else.

The first match starts off with the witch who really knows how to crack the whip: RUBY!


This match is so typical: Ruby gets her ass handed to her throughout. Ruby does get in a few blows. When it seems that Ruby is about to lose, Ruby uses her magical spell book to invoke science fact to win the day. I think it was a very clever way of teaching the reader a little bit about some of the properties of electricity.



 Then we have this:

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The Dirty Little Secret of Early Voting.

I am basing this on pure speculation backed up by a conversation I had with an election observer many years ago. The rules in my state probably have changed quite a bit since then. I certainly can't speak for whatever state or state of mind you're in, but I can speak for both of me.

I went in and early voted a few weeks ago. I did this for several reasons: What would the weather be like today? Would I get stuck somewhere far away from my polling place? I mean, the day I early voted I got stuck in a ten hour traffic jam. It was a HAZMAT spill that closed the only two roads through that section of town and evacuated another. On top of that some car got tangled up in the truck that was leaking. Fortunately no one was hurt. However the whole time I was worried the Taco Hell I had a few hours earlier would get me moving before the highway did.

Probably the best reason for early voting is you can time it so you don't have to wait in line. Go to your county elections office, vote, go get another taco.

When I went in something seemed amiss to me. We all had to fill out an absentee ballot request. Why? Give me the ballot for my precinct and enter my name in the computer as having voted. Then after voting I was instructed to fold my ballot (something would should NEVER do,) stuff it into an envelope, and then put it in into what possibly could be a secure ballot box. It was right then it hit me: my vote may not get counted.

My vote, my dad's vote, my brother's vote, my grandmother's vote, our friends' votes, everybody in the elections office that day, the butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker, the guy at the liquor store, and all the other people that early voted may not get our votes counted.

Why?

Laziness, mostly. You see, why do all that extra work if the margin of victory far exceeds the total number of provisional and absentee ballots? Even if the margin is less than the total uncounted ballots, then statistical analysis is used to avoid counting them all. One guy gets 1000 votes and the other has 900, what are the chances that 151 of the remaining 200 absentee ballots are going to the other guy?

So why vote at all? That's a decision you have to make. Remember: you get what you vote for. All I can really do at this point is get on my soapbox. Even if you are caught up in the aftermath of a hurricane, snowstorm, or a south of the border restaurant's stool softener of a secret sauce, put forth the effort. So what if your state is called for the candidate you're voting for or against months in advance? There's other races, initiatives, propositions, and constitutional amendments. There's also momentum. If a candidate wins by only a small margin or in some rare cases by fewer votes. He or she can't push their agenda forward as easily if they had a landslide.

Do you want him to have a mandate because you didn't even try?

Friday, November 2, 2012

A Hard Headed Holdout for Hard Copies.

Something to keep in mind: as I write this out I am currently downloading the last couple of episodes of Puella Magi Madoka Magica. Why? Because the brand new disk I bought is so screwed up the last couple episodes are unwatchable.

Each generation is a tween generation. My dad had to go the the movie theater to watch movies. Then he stopped doing that because in the 1980's you could buy them and watch them on TV. His dad got to live in a time period in which we went from the horse and buggy, to cars, to watching a man walk on the Moon, on TV!

My generation saw the computer go from a $2000 typewriter to a $200 movie theater. Going from however much the Encyclopedia Britannica cost to free on Wikipedia. Now you can recycle those voluminous volumes and make more space for movies, books, magazines... ...but, you can now get all that on your computer.

I must say, I'm going to miss looking at my book shelves and seeing them full of all the books and movies I bought. I look over and see Arthur C. Clarke, Terry Pratchett, J.A. Jance, House, The Closer, G.I. Joe, Transformers: Victory, Haruhi Suzumiya, Oh My Goddess, Rosario Vampire, and lots more. Soon it's going to be terabyte hard drives. Even then, how long is it going to be before the online storage companies can give you terabytes of storage? With all this you can by stuff on the web, how long is it going to be before all brick and mortar stores disappear? Suncoast and Borders are gone. Best Buy is cutting way back. Even Hastings slacking off on stocking the newest greats.

Why buy a movie, book, or video game that you really only use once and it sits on a shelf taking up space that you can use for something else? A thumb drive the size of five cents worth of cents can hold all 18981 cents (not counting tax) worth of 450 square inches of Rosario Vampire books.

(How long are we even going to still have pennies anyway?)

What I'm going to miss a lot is the thrill of the chase. Going from store to store all over town and all over several towns. Searching for that one place that has what I'm looking for and rewarding them with my money. While I'm in each place no doubt I will find something else that grabs my attention and I might buy that as well. I went into one place looking for Yuki-Chan and came out with Madoka and Outland. Ironically that is what annoys me about iTunes and Amazon. I type in my request and they give my hundreds of suggestions other than what I'm looking for. Don't misspell it. They'll just say we don't have Paula Madako. In a real life even if you don't have the right spelling, at least you'll be in the general area. Of course the may file Haruhi under H.

The thing I will miss most of all is supporting my local businesses. I really believe in that. I want them to stay open and do what they do best: make money and give people jobs. If I and everybody else buys Family Guy on iTunes, why should Hastings, Best Buy, or even Wal-Mart hang around? I've already seen a lot of cutting back. The economy has been crappy for the last five years, but with Netflix and Amazon on the scene, it gets harder and harder to justify stocking stuff that barely sells.

Thinking about it a little deeper, there's a lot involved in tracking down Family Guy Volume 10. I get in my vehicle that I bought from a local dealer. It needs gas which I buy locally. (Okay, I admit, not so locally because my town doesn't have the best prices, it's the next town over.) My car's dirty, and I'm not using MY water to clean it. So of to the car wash. I usually use an automatic wash because that way I can get a good coat of wax and tire shine put on. The automatic car washes, the gas stations, and car dealers all employ people and pay them for their services. Of course I pay them for their services. Oh, and I forgot: in order to buy that vehicle, I needed a loan. So off to the bank.

Look at all those people and local businesses that I have already supported and I haven't even made it to Hastings, Best Buy, or some used video store that bought out all of Hollywood Video's stock.

Then again what do I do if all 5 Wal-Marts, 5 Hastings, both Best Buys, all the second hand books and videos, and numerous pawnshops don't have what I'm looking for. Or worse yet, disk three of Makado is crap? That leads into next time's discussion.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

First Thoughts: Rosenkreuzstilette Freudenstachel.

I now have a file folder labeled Rosenkreuzstilette Freudenstachel. Its sole purpose is so I can highlight and copy/paste the name Rosenkreuzstilette Freudenstachel.

Just got my own LEGAL COPY of  Rosenkreuzstilette Freudenstachel thanks to Super Justin. As to my first impressions, let's say that fans can be the harshest, but perhaps the fairest critics. Let's get the stuff that's bugging me out of the way first. The first one is something I really hesitate to bring up because I think it is two things on my part. It is the screen resolution. At 1x all the details are too small for me to see. Then 1.25x and 1.6x the graphics get distorted. Finally 2x too big for my screen because the top and bottom portions of the game window get cut off. Then full screen is right in your face. A lot of the problem is most likely my monitor. It's a tweny-inch widescreen. I went back and played a little of the first game and trials and it seemed to be wrecking some of the same havoc. (I haven't really played the games in a couple of years and back then I was using a smaller monitor.)

The other reason is that my eyes are not as good as they used to be. Long time reader of the comic can probably guess why. I do have plans of talking about it at some length. Now's not the right time.

There were numerous changes from the trials to the final product, one change that had me scratching my head was why was Eifer's attack changed from leaves to energy balls? Also her vine attacks from the ground come in an easily avoidable set pattern instead of always focusing on Freudia. Makes for a much easier battle.

I guess at this point I should admit to only playing two stages: The Prologue and Luste's stages. Right now, I just don't have the time to give the game a thorough play through. Yesterday I got caught in a ten hour traffic jam which made me almost too late to vote. Now I have to get my vehicle in for service and then it's off to a friend's for a Halloween Party. On top of that is all the stuff I need to do for the web site and blog for 2013.

Now the one thing that is bugging me the most:

    

Okay, it's a Megaman clone. WE GET IT! What makes it even more annoying is the fact that such graphics are incongruous with the rest of the game.

Now let's talk about what was done right. Unlike the previous examples, when other stuff from Megaman was borrowed, the concept was improved upon. In Megaman 4 you had the ceiling going up and down. Here it's the floor. Plus badguys and traps are hidden from view to surprise you. I think that almost every apsect of the original Rosenkreuzstilette that was imported in was very much improved. I think that the musical score is holding its own when compared to the previous game. The best part: if you are playing Story Mode, just hit the Start button and you're warped right through it. Why bother playing Story Mode if you do that or even can't read Japanese? Easy, there's lots of little things going on that are not in Arcade Mode.

Give me some time and I'll play through the whole game and review it.

Addendum:

It has come to my attention that my criticism of Isemiya and Womi's blatant use of Dr. Cossack and Beat may have left an impression that I was implying nefarious motivations on their part.

NOT AT ALL.

My criticism is based on a couple of factors. The first being is that these graphics stick out like a sore thumb. They are of a style that clashes with the rest of the game. There are plenty of other characters from Megaman and other games that are used in RKSF and those graphics have been reworked from scratch to fit in properly.

Now I know in the past I have criticized the programmers for doing too much. That stems mostly from having to wait so long between sequels. The point in this article is that if you use one style, you must use that style at all times. Dr. Cossack and Beat look good, they just don't work.

Second: Most of us playing RKSF have played Rosenkreuzstilette. We know that it is a Megaman clone, it feels as if it is being rubbed in our faces. One of the funnest parts of playing Rosenkreuzstilette and RKSF is reference hunting. What video game, manga, or anime is being used here and there. Those images totally spoil the fun. Couldn't they have used Talos? Or go for the really obscure reference and used Reggae.

Jeeze, where are they getting their graphical advice from: a sprite comic?

Friday, October 19, 2012

I'm Not New to Downloading.

In my last article I discussed how much I liked going from store to store in search of whatever treasure I was having O.D.D. issues over. (Mind you, that article is going to get posted after this one so that way it will be in somewhat of a coherent order. I hope.) Now I am getting dragged kicking and screaming into the 1980's.

1980's? Yep, or was it the 90's? I don't remember. I do remember playing with the C64 and being on Q-Link. (That's where I got most of my trolling habits out of my system. Most.) Printed out a bunch of those car acronym jokes. You know: Fix It Again Tony, Found On Road Dead, Cracked Heads Every Valve Rattles Oil Leaks Expensive Trash. If you were really adventurous you could download music and games. It would take about eight days to get a minute thirty MIDI onto a five and a half inch floppy. Only downloaded one game. It was an overly simplified version of Risk. Bunch of hexagons provinces with up to six players duking it out to be king. However the NES was much simpler: pop in a game and away you go. Then of course it was remove the metal bar and insert two games and a pen.

     

I would take my leave of the internet for awhile. Then it beckoned me back a number of years later. Friends would tell me all about the games, books, videos, college and correspondence courses that could be had. I was intrigued until a guy showed me a nude picture of Sailor Moon he printed out. I asked “Is the what the internet is all about?” He said “Yeah! Isn't it great?” I snorted and turned away for about another year. Fortunately other friends that used the Net for real work showed me the real deal. What had me hooked was a site in which you could make free phone calls from all over the world. I bought a new computer that week. Then it was several more months before I could actually get on the net.

Boy did I have a lot to learn. I ran for the first year or so without an anti-virus. No kidding. I was copy/pasting those fanfics. Many an image was lost because I didn't know about internet caches and right-clicking. NES, SNES, Genesis ROMS? I thought for the longest time those were circuit boards you had to buy to insert the ISA slot on your motherboard.

Then I found Napster. I now could locate songs that I had heard on the radio for years, songs I had on rapidly deteriorating audio tape, all those anime themes at full length. Best of all, I could try out a song and see if I actually liked it without having to buy a $20 CD. Yes, I would put every effort into finding a hard copy of that song. I considered it the right thing to do. Studies have shown that even though you could get free music off the internet, most people would still buy the CD. For me another reason is that often one crappy version of a song was all you could find on Napster.



Let's fast forward to today. There are advantages and disadvantages to downloading off the Net. They really are no different to having a hard copy. A fire can wipe out you book shelf, a fire can wipe out your hard drive. Someone can break into your house and steal your hard copy of Flash CS6. Someone can break into your house and steal your computer. There is one advantage to a hard copy: I bought Rosario Vampire on the shelf long before it showed up in the Viz Media app.

Then the irony being is was Puella Magi Madoka Magica that got me into it. When I did my review of it I wanted images to comment on. I'm not tearing apart my copies, and I'm not buying another copy to rip up. The manga site I got the images for Rosavam didn't have Madoka. The Yen Press app still doesn't have it. Viz Media does have all of Rosavam. Unlike Yen press that puts its manga in a big blob, Viz stores its manga as JPEGs in file folders. Unfortunately it is not backed up on your computer inside the app.

I know, I tried. You see you can copy the app IPA into the Zorin OS Linux distro and open it up like a file folder. Try it with Angry Birds. You can find all the music, SFX, and graphics. However you won't find Rosavam and all of Moka's ass kicking action in there. So here's how you properly

Back that APP up.

There's two ways of going about it. The first is noninvasive way. Just take a screen shot of each page.

Then there's the somewhat frustrating but much faster way.

I used iExplorer for Windows. Get it from the official website. Not anywhere else. I went with CNET. While it is a good place to find software that is not virus laden, they love to junk up the install with 80,000 toolbars. You may have to instal another variation of the .NET Framework. Always best to get it directly from Micro$oft. Once everything is set up. Plug in you iPad and turn on iTunes and double click iExplorer. The best way to go about is to right click the app and copy the whole thing over.


There you have it. The main advantage to the Net: saving multiple copies of your 19 volume set of Rosario Vampire on as many hard drives as you want. As well as the online back up of your choice.

Plus they're not as expensive as the actual book.

Friday, October 5, 2012

The Thrill of the Hunt.

(Keep in mind this is part three of a series. Part two will get posted next time and part one will the time after. Also, there is nudity in Girls Bravo.)

In part one: A Hardheaded Holdout for Hard Copies, I discussed going from store to store looking for whatever movie or book I'm obsessing over. I am a firm believer in supporting my local businesses. What if none of these big boxes or mom and pops doesn't have what I am seeking? Or worse yet the copy I got is screwed up?

Remember the fecal storm of cursing I had over the anti-virus AVG? The hard copy I bought in the store turned out to be no-good. AVG made it good two months after I installed the competitor. Here's the thing, the version of the program I wanted wasn't on the shelf, it was in the online store. On top of that the boxed version I got was out of date. The company has honored the key code so far. There may come a time.

Other than supporting local people there is a technical reason for buying boxed software. When I installed Windows 7, my downloaded copy of Bejeweled wouldn't activate. You see Pop Cap lost my registration information. If I had the disk it would have worked no-prob. A lot of companies put excessive registration forms on downloaded software. It is even made it way onto CD/DVDs. I understand why: in this age of high speed internet and massive hard drive space it is easier than ever to upload Photo Shop CS6 to some torrent site. Cracked and ready to to go. If only these companies would realize that by dropping the price to a reasonable rate and stop with the DRM rootkit schemes that more people would buy their products. All that stuff really does is turn honest persons into pirates. People will support you if you give them a reason.

Oops. Seems as if I drifted off onto another soapbox. Where's the soapbox labeled for digital downloading? There it is.

I've gone to every store in town and nothing. My first choice of online retailers is Amazon. That way I can get a hard copy. I typically reserve iTunes for music. What if disk three of Puella Magi Madoka Magica I bought from Amazon is unwatchable. Due to technical reasons and not the content per say? (Buy the way, I always have to look at the DVD cover when spelling that out.) I could always order another disk, but the anticipation of waiting for it to arrive in my mail box has long since turned to gripping. That new disk may be screwed up as well. Also it wasn't cheap. Looking at iTunes, all there is a couple of Kill QB apps and some podcasts. No episodes.

The thrill, and frustration, of the hunt now goes into the dork underbelly of the net. There are plenty of sites to be had that post anime, OSTs, and manga. I use them when all else has failed me. You can find just about everything, almost. It's these sites where I found all those images for Rosario Vampire I used in my reviews. (Another great thing is that sometimes they are far in advanced of what we get here. Rosavam 19 on the Viz Media app finally appeared two months later. Online you can get volumes 20 or 21.) Also I found Samuri Pizza Cats and that one series I promise not to talk about ever again. You know, the one about the fox girl trying to be a “dog-god” and falls in love with a human. Plus my newest guilty pleasure: Azu Manga Daio. It's free, I am not losing any money on it, except now, I just ordered it. It wasn't available anywhere locally. (I am NOT posting a video of the opening credits. It is one of the most obnoxious anime themes of all time. Even I'm not that cruel.)

What about that messed up copy of Madoka disk three? That was a hard one to find. Most sites didn't have it. One said it had the dubbed version, but alas no. It supposedly had the entire series subtitled. It had episode one complete. Which was great, but only had half of episodes 11 and 12! No kidding. Wait a half an hour for each one and only get half. (I spent that time writing part one of this series.) Checked several others to no avail. What makes it more frustrating is that it could be under Puella or Madoka, or Mahou. I finally found it on a site that had a very slow server (which allowed me the time to write out part two of this whole rambling ramble of a ramble.)

I guess hunting for anything on the net is just as frustrating as driving around. It could take awhile to find what you are looking for, it may be a bad upload to begin with, or even laden with malware. But uses less gas.

I watched the last two episodes of Madoka, and I'll save the review for some other time. Next up: the greatest advantage to those bootleg sites. Of course that will have already been posted before this article making that line seem kinda of sillier than normal. If you scroll down it will make some sense.

Won't it?



Friday, September 21, 2012

The Unintended Advantage to Bootlegging.

Coming up over the next couple of months I'm going into a long discussion about my evolution of going from store to store to buy movies and games; to going from web site to web site to download the same. I originally started on one subject and immediately rabbit trailed into several others causing me to go over one page in my word processor. I typically type out these posts there first and try to keep it at about a page to a page and a half. I just had so much to say I figured it was best to break it up into multiple parts. I'm going to post them in reverse order so that way down the road anybody doing the typical tendency on these blogs of scrolling backwards through the entries will see them come up in the correct order.

Or maybe I'm thinking too hard about it. Maybe I'm the only one that does that?

This article is really a direct continuation of the previous. (Which will be posted in another couple of weeks.) In it I discuss the advantages (to me anyway) with going to all these manga and anime sites. One I didn't touch on was the fact that often you can find translated manga and subbed anime that is not available here in the States at all. An example of this is Magikano. The anime is here, and parents, just so you know, not for kids. The manga on the other hand isn't. It is online. Might I say, it's WAY creepier than the anime. After seeing such stuff I warn my friends about it.

Now we're back on course.

I hang around a group of friends that are not otakus. They consider Japanese comic books and cartoon shows to be kids stuff. What adult in his right mind would waste his time watching that crap? So I have always kept my mouth shut and talked shop or if the discussion went to TV it would be shows I watched like House, Closer, or classics such as Knight Rider and A-Team.

After finding all the watch for free anime sites, I would then tell my friends about them. First I would ask if their kids like Japanese cartoon shows like Bleach, Dragon Ball, or Naruto. Inevitably they say yes. By now they are looking at me kinda cross wise. Then I suggest all the sites. Then they look at me like I'm clearly crazy. I can see the wheels spinning in their heads: “That Iraqi heat must have fried what little brain he had left.” Then I point out that they would probably want to preview, for free, what it is their children are asking you to buy for them. Unlike the stuff you see on Nickelodeon or Cartoon Network, the stuff you see on store shelves is a lot less like She-Ra and Bugs Bunny and more like Playboy.

My friends will say “Yeah, I'll give it a look.” Whether or not they do is up to them. From that point on it's back to work. I'm not on any kind of holy crusade here. I just want to inform parents as to what is going on out there so they can hopefully make the best decisions in raising their kids. Especially since the age range of a lot of anime is mislabeled.

Mind you, parents: You can control what your children read and watch in your home, but you have no control over what your kids watch in their friends' house. It was one of my buddies' son that told me about a couple of these manga sites.
He doesn't even have the internet!


Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Friday, September 7, 2012

Zook the Hero Z: The Complete Instruction Book.

I have been receiving numerous comment, countless phone call, not to mention voluminous card and letter. Bowing to the pressure, I shall forestall talking more about Madoka and Rosavam and instead present the entire Zook Z instruction booklet.

Sans snarky remarks by me or even long drawn out stories on how much trouble it was to scan these images.

Just so you know, I have no problem what so ever with people saving the Zook the Hero Z instruction manual scans to their hard drive. You may even go a head and upload them to the net community of your choice without any credit given. You don't even need to link back to Ravy Online, or Ravy Comics. However any link is appreciated especially to here or here.

By the way, click on each image and it will take you to a page that has a full size version.