Wednesday, July 20, 2011

6990 - The Number of the Beast

I am currently working with a computer I have named "Beast".  Literally, it's in the cs departments name as Beast.

Technically beast is the best computer you could buy right now with an AMD Radion 6990 coupled with an Intel i7 26000k and a ton o' ram.

In reality Beast is as vicious as Beast is powerful and hates locking mechanisms.  The Beast does not like to be synchronized or controlled and as such fights back the only way it can - by locking up completely.

Truly filled with a dark soul and angered by its captivity, Beast also hates restarting and takes forever to do so.  No doubt biding its time.  Waiting for another prime moment to initiate its grand betrayals.

Finally when it does restart and boot up again, it says it had an error and shut down unexpectedly.  We both know I shut it down, but only Beast won't admit it.


Monday, July 18, 2011

You Buy Bags of Delicious Waffles Here!

Maybe you can in other countries too, I haven't really looked, but in Belgium you can totally buy a bag of delicious sugary waffles!

 I went to the store looking for crackers, I came back with so much more.

Woot Belgium!


Sunday, July 17, 2011

Silent Protagonist + Chrono Cross

Silent protagonists are pretty awesome, but they don't happen nearly as much as they used to.  That's kind of too bad.  RPGs seem to be built around ever talking protagonists.

Anyway I was skimming SMPS' Chrono Cross Review again. and I noticed this bit and I figured I'd pass it on:

"Chrono Cross is the rare post-SNES JRPG that can accurately be called a role-playing game. Even though the term RPG continues to be used in regard to Final Fantasy, the Tales series, Xenosaga, etc., but there is actually very little role-playing to be found in most of these games. As soon as an RPG's player character begins speaking on his own or making decisions independently of the person holding the controller, the term "role-playing game" becomes a misnomer.

This is why the silent protagonist device is such an effective tool in video games. When the player's character in the game's interactive narrative -- and technically, every video game is an interactive narrative -- is incapable of exercising any autonomy of supplying his own voice and thoughts, there is that much less of a boundary between the player and the world of the game. In Chrono Trigger, the player is Crono, and vice versa (up until the Ocean Palace disaster, anyway). Conversely, in Final Fantasy X, the player really only acts as Tidus's arms and legs, and only when the game cedes control to him. There is no role-playing; Tidus and the player are totally seperate entities. The player nudges Tidus along and views events from mover his shoulder rather than through his eyes.

Chrono Cross uses this tool to a more daring end. Chrono Trigger was designed to be a fantastic adventure in which the player vicariously leads a life of daring action and heroism through Crono. It's a blast, but fairly typical video game fare. Chrono Cross, however, is a story that's less about saving the world from disaster than Serge's quest for identity and meaning. Because Serge and the player are inextricably bound, Serge's existential struggle becomes the player's own."
The review itself is a really awesome read and I suggest you check it out even if you've never played Chrono Cross.  It's long, but it provides a really relevant discusssion about story in video games.


Monday, July 11, 2011

Stop Spying on Our Internet

The new conservative government is attempting to push through a series of crime related legislation.  Most of which I don't really know about, but I do know about "Lawful" Access.  To be fair it was originally a Liberal initiative.  Either way it is a pretty naive and impractical bill.

The Lawful Access Bill will make it mandatory for internet service providers to collect your personal information when you use the internet and then hand it over to the police if they should ever ask.  They won't even need a warrant and they'll be able to find out litterally everything you ever do online.  Right now you may be reading this on Facebook.  After this bill, the police will know everything you ever post here - without court oversight.

Privacy aside, this bill will force ISPs to monitor and store everything everyone does online.  That seems tricky and indeed witll require them to build significant infrastructure to do so.  Running a 1984 version of the internet isn't cheap and this cost will be passed on to consumers.  To make matters worse, smaller ISPs won't be able to keep up - effectively reducing the number of providers and competition in our already dominated market.

Right now we only have three major providers and Canadians have been forced to pay more for their internet.  If this bill get's passed, not only will we have to pay more for unnecessary infrastructre, but we'll also be living in a near monoploy, so be prepared to pay again.

The biggest problem I have with this is that the police have never once shown a need for this sort of system.  There really hasn't ever been an instance where their current powers have stopped them from solving a case.  Their current tools are sufficient.

The bottom line: Please speak out and spread the word if you have any interest in your privacy, your pocketbook or sensible legislation.  An affordable open internet is important to Canada: socially, economically and culturally.  You can find more information here:

Thanks for reading


Saturday, July 2, 2011

Adventure Log 2 - Settling In

I'm currently sitting in my place drinking coffee and eating a box of truffles (woot Belgium!).  Here's what went down in the last couple days:

After spending an evening in my temporary accomodations, I moved to the Groot Begijnhof which is a UNESCO world heritage site.
Where I Live
That's kinda neat.  As it was originally constructed in the 13th century, this is by the far the oldest place I've ever lived in.  Victoria has a lot of "Heritage Houses" and other old buildings, but I none of them predate Columbus.  So if your touring Belgium and hit up Leuven and happen to find yourself checking up historical sites, you should totally drop me a line.

Bells ring out in song every half hour.  On the hour is a Belgian folk song.  I don't know about what.

Also of note, while I've never seen a cobblestone in Victoria,  they are everywhere here.  I don't think I've ever seen a "paved" sidewalk.  It's always an ever changing mix of various types of cobbles.  They can be a little bit tricky to walk ok, my rolling suitcase hates them and I bet if you wore high heels you would have to be extremely dextrous.  They give me even more respect for the Paris Roubaix.  That remind me, the Tour De France starts today and I'm in the same timezone!

My Street - Cobble Stones
Another somewhat surprising structure standing only slightly more than sixteen steps away is a massive church.

Dare I say Cathedral?
Victoria was also pretty big on the churches, but nothing like these ones.  Here is another from downtown:

There a quite a few and they are all huge buildings.  I've found that I can almost navigate on churches alone.  "Look a church, I can get home from there"

That being said, Leuven is a small but difficult city to find your way around.  I'm used to living in places that were panned around a grid system.  You have numbered streets and named streets and you the avenues make sense.  Here we get this:

There are no numbers and street signs are almost non existant.  Instead of having them on the corner of an intersection, they're usually little blue signs hidden on the side of buildings.  But even if you do find out your on Tietezstraat, were that meets Dakenstraat or Parkstraat is a mystery to me.  After spending a good portion of the day trying to find a building were I could get my internet account activated I determined two things:
  1. Without the internet, I cannot find my way around a city much less a european one.
  2. I needed a some maps and I needed to plan out my routes to and from my place
And this was how my dinner table became a map table and my dinning room became a map room.  Why? Because you can't eat, if you don't know where to buy food.

I must travel from Groot Bejignhoff to mystical place known only as Dakenstraat 2, but how!
With a system of planned routes and the recently reaccuired power of google, I've managed to get a line on everything I need to keep my alive.  That being said I often get lost on the way home.  I get turned around pretty quick whenever I go inside a building.  That being said, so far so good and Leuven has proven to be a pretty awesome little city.  I'm really grateful for the opportunity to be here.

Here are some more pictures to take you out:

Every pizza place appears to be proudly Italian.  Some even have maps which point to the specific part of Italy.  I guess you gotta have the credentials

So many building have courtyards.  It seems like your almost always in nice cobblestone courtyard. 

This is above my door.  I have no clue what it means, maybe it involves a saint?  I couldn't tell you.

The street to the right of me.  There is the church I talked about earlier.

More church.  What!? I've never ever seen a building like this before.  The inside is really awesome too.

Angela asked me if there as a subway here.  I said I didn't know, but I figured there had to be one.  Turns out Angela was asking about an underground rail network not a sandwich shop.   Well you can get sandwiches, you cannot ride underground trains. Not that you'd have to.  This city is 2km across.