Looking For Quacks In The Pavement

Category: Geekery (Page 1 of 91)

Tualatin Hills Nature Park – Ch-ch-ch-changes

On an absolute last-second whim, I headed out this afternoon to take a hike around one of my favorite nearby attractions, the Tualatin Hills Nature Park. It’s just two stops away via MAX light rail, but between the pandemic and everything else I just haven’t made it over there in a couple of years.

This is what the entryway to the bridge over the creek bed from the MAX station park entrance looked like in 2018.
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I Don’t Have A Hover Problem

I’d follow that title with an “I can quit any time” but if I quit having domains on Hover then this website would vanish. So, let’s not do that.

After days of pondering and puttering and such, I made some decisions:

  1. I don’t want to join one of the really big Mastodon instances. I like things cozy.
  2. I can’t find a cozy Mastodon instance that isn’t geared toward hyper-niche interests.
  3. I don’t want to spin up another VPS on Linode to run my own. Last time I tried administering a Mastodon server it blew up during an upgrade and I couldn’t get it back.
  4. I’m willing to pay a few dollars per month to make this someone else’s problem.
  5. It’s been a while since I bought a new domain for a silly project, hasn’t it?

And so, a trip to Hover and to Masto.host later, “Well, Duck Me” is up & running. I don’t yet know if I’ll open it up to other users, though if you’re a friend and have some interest I’ll probably let you join. Just give me a heads-up.

I Love Making Stuff Work

Most days, I’m just a fix-it man. Someone broke something, or entropy took its toll, whichever: I get the call and I (usually) find a way to fix the problem.

On rare, delightful occasions I get to actually build something, though. That’s the best.

Today at the office (as it were) I replaced the basically-defunct PHP Server Monitor setup with Uptime Kuma, which (if you install one extra piece of software) can send notifications to all kinds of things if a monitored website-or-whatever goes offline. Since our company lives in Microsoft Teams day in and day out, I set it to post alerts to a particular Teams channel. I showed the results to the VP and a couple of relevant coworkers and they’re all happy with it. Excellent!

A couple of hours of just hunkered down, putting a new thing into service, learning its ins and outs, and getting useful results at the end? Absolute heaven.

More of that, please.

Shave And A Codec, 10 Bits

Every now and then, when I remember that this is a thing I’m trying to do, when I’m not actively doing something else with my computer, when I can be bothered… I convert one of the shiny platters on the media storage shelves into some kind of digital format. I do this for protection against the inevitable “disc rot” of the shiny platter medium, I do this for convenience (just load up a file on the computer-like device of choice rather than inserting a shiny platter into the spinny playback machine), and yes, I do this because I’m curious to see what the state of the art looks like for doing this sort of thing in the first place.

Oh, the codecs I’ve seen. I’m old, y’all.

I’ve been doing a lot of anime Blu-Ray-to-MKV work lately. (For certain values of “a lot.” Re-read the first sentence of this post.) There’s a great blog post from a couple years ago with some superb recommendations for how to get high quality into a modest file size and it’s served me well thus far.

But what about those non-anime shows? What about a big budget live-action movie? How well would those settings fare with such fare?

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Two Hopes Isn’t Enough Hopes

I know, I know. It’s been a couple of weeks.

To clarify a bit: It’s been a rough couple of weeks, improved mainly by the fact that summer seems to have decided to hold back a bit longer. Too many people near (virtually speaking) (and in one case actually literally speaking) to me coming down with COVID sure isn’t helping my state of mind, and the less said about the state of… nearly everything else in the world… the better.

On the upside, the demo for the new Fire Emblem game arrived. If you know about our household love affair with Fire Emblem: Three Houses, well, you can imagine how ecstatic we were to try out its semi-sequel, Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes.

I described it to someone recently as sort of a Three Houses self-insert AU (and if that term doesn’t ring any bells, don’t worry about it) where someone’s going, “What if this was different and that was different and my character was even cooler than Byleth (the protagonist & POV character of the previous game)?” Basically it’s a “what if” version where the three young future heads-of-state (the leaders of the titular Three Houses) don’t run into Byleth outside of Remire Village but instead meet some other mercenary entirely, and this changes… lots of things.

Oh, and instead of turn-based strategy combat, it’s a fast-paced hack-and-slash button-mashing experience where you routinely juggle dozens of opponents in the air as you rack up incredible damage numbers. We were apprehensive about the playstyle change. I don’t think we’re ever going to love it, but at least on the lowest difficulty setting we think we’ll be able to get through the story and support conversations and all that, which is what we’re really here for anyway.

Speaking of the story, it seems like Three Hopes is going to both flesh out bits of the lore we’ve all wanted to see and subvert a lot of expectations that fans of the game might be carrying into this follow-up effort. One of the very first missions involves rescuing [spoiler] and you also run into [another spoiler], which is jawdropping because those two characters, ah, don’t exactly coexist the same way in the previous game. It’s a great way for the writers to let us know early on that we shouldn’t count on what we remember from Three Houses to prepare us adequately for Three Hopes.

What’s interesting is that the developers behind Three Hopes were actually responsible for Three Houses as well, which means they have a lot more experience with this game engine and can make it jump through hoops even better than before. They took feedback from fans of the previous game seriously, resulting in potentially interesting gameplay changes. They also reverted to some older-style Fire Emblem tropes, like “tomes” (equipment for magic users) having durability instead of casters simply having a limited number of casts for each spell like in Three Houses.

So far we’re enjoying the demo a lot and look forward to the release of the full game even more than we already were, which is saying something. If you have a Nintendo Switch, I recommend trying the demo out for yourself.

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