It Shouldn’t Be This Way

Some things people don’t know because they weren’t taught. Or it was taught in a way that didn’t make sense to the way their brains work. Or it was beyond them for some reason. All of this is fine. It’s the prideful ignorance that is really wreaking havok with this country. The following Daily Show clip is what inspire this mini-rant:

 

Yesterday I read through the intro of Don’t Know Much About Mythology. It posited that one possible reason for myths was for the rich to control the poor. I thought, “Yeah. Makes sense back then with their god-kings, but we’re smarter now.” Then I thought about American politics and realized nothing has changed over the past 10000 years.

By the way, so much of the Christian discourse in America is so far away from the actual content of the Bible that regardless of whether you believe in Yahweh/God and Jesus’ divinity, you should regard most of what you think you know about Christianity as mythology.

March to April

It’s once again time for my latest Photojojo post. For those of you who haven’t been following my blog for a long time, Photojojo is a digital time capsule service. Every two weeks they send me an email that has my most interesting photos posted to flickr from one year ago.

This time from the Cherry Blossom Festival. The blooms were predicted to come early that year, but lots of the trees weren’t in full bloom because of a cold front that came through.

March Video Games

Only Civ this month as I’ve been focused on my semester work.

Civ V ( 29 hrs):

Mesa Bros:

It was my oldest game that didn’t yet have any war, but Germany broke the peace. In general, my style seems to be OK with AI warfare. Usually I can ramp up my units quickly enough to stave them off until they exhaust their units while I build up my army. However, I’ve noticed a slightly higher aggression rate in Civilization V compared to previous Civ games so I’ve started trying  to keep my unit counts high enough that most civs won’t spontaneously attack me. Didn’t work with the Germans, but after rebuffing their first advance, I may be able to steal a city. Especially since right after they attacked I was able to upgrade my catapults to trebuchets. We’ll see how this goes because at a theoretical max of 30 turns per month (usually because of our schedules I can’t do more than one turn per day and some days we miss turns), I may or may not have finished attacking the first city before April’s up.

Lefties:

I’ve become the most powerful civ on my continent. The Austrians are much more powerful and scientific, but they’re somewhere else beating up on Dave. So I’m trying to see if I can science my way into winning this game. Tough since they are in the atomic age and I don’t think I’ve even made it to the modern age yet.

A Brave New World….

Nothing major going on. I’m in a bad spot for production right now so I’m not sure if I’ve fallen too far behind already.

OMBNW2

Just slowly growing my civilization. Haven’t really met too many people yet.

Tiny Mesa Civ

At first I assumed we’d be duking it out after a few turns. Now I’ve shifted strategies for the long term. Not sure if Dave and Dan are clashing yet, but we all picked early unit civs. It will be funny if we don’t find each other until those units are no longer relevant.

Shaka Zulu

Since I started playing a few Brave New World games with my brothers before having played it on my own, I decided to play on as a single player game to get the advisers to help me out. In an unprecedented move for myself I decided to have it grab a random civ. I ended up the Zulus. As I’ve been doing for a few years with Civilization V, I decided that as long as I’m in a strong place, I’ll attack any civilization who attacks me unprovoked. I started that and eventually ended up with such a huge army that my military adviser was telling me that no one had an army compared to me. So I decided, what the heck, why not? And went for a conquest victory. I also ended up in a very good place financially so I made pretty much every city-state along the way to be an ally and gift me units. It was a fun romp and earned me about 4 achievements, including winning as Zulu.

Civ 5 - Domination Victory

Civ 5 – Domination Victory

And, I got the Julius Caesar rating. I think the Caravan system was an interesting reappearance from Civ 2 or 3. I used it to help increase my gold and science, but didn’t use it to its fullest with intra-city trade. I also just barely got into the new ideologies system. The tourism system didn’t really make as much sense to me as it could have. But it was only my first game through. In the end, I’d say that if you jumped into Civ because Civ 5 simplified and streamlined everything, don’t get into Brave New World.

Civ 5 - Julius Caesar Score

Civ 5 – Julius Caesar Score

Listening Trends 2014 Q1

I started 2014 with a bunch of music I’d acquired in 2013, but which I still hadn’t listened to. So I created a playlist with a high weight on unplayed music from Q4 2013 to Q1 2014. I changed my Amarok settings so that instead of populating the next 11 items, it would populate the next 3. That way if I was getting bored with the new music (a lot of which is music I got for free so sometimes it’s awesome (to my tastes) and sometimes it’s just OK) I could switch to another dynamic playlist for a while and I’d just be three songs away from hearing some music I know I like. I also bought an album with 100 of the best Beethoven compositions. However, since I’m scrobbling the orchestra that played it (not the composer), I’m not sure if any of them will end up dominating the list. (They didn’t)

Eventually I switched to this playlist for a few weeks:

Uber Playlist

Uber Playlist

After I got tired of the Top 15 Songs, I went back to a playlist that only played new music as I’d been acquiring a lot of new music. I also started listening to all my music alphabetically here and there mixed between the new songs. The last time I did this it was before Amarok allowed for writing scores to the metadata. So I have lots of songs with a score of 0 and one or more plays. (Due to database corruptions that seem to coincide with new versions of Amarok. Although, I think it was a plugin I was running) It’s a good chance for me to once again rediscover some songs that I like and for them to get a score that allows them to come up when I’m listening to my auto-generated playlists. I rediscovered Aivi & Surashu who have some quite magical music. In fact, they are doing the soundtrack to the fun Cartoon Network show Steven Universe. Even so, a lot of scrobbles ended up dominated by my 2 year old’s demand for Disney music.

1. Alan Menken (276 listens) – Disney soundtrack master. Great songs.
2. Mandy Moore (153 listens) – These are ALL from the Tangled soundtrack. Yeah, Scarlett asked for it that much.
3. “Weird Al” Yankovic (90 listens) – Went on a Weird Al bender while grilling on a strangely warm February day. Something about Weird Al Google Music song metadata breaks scrobbling on my Android phone so this should be a bit higher.
4. The Beatles (77 listens) – I was looking for something different to play while playing in the basement with Scarlett and this showed up on Google Play’s main screen. Hadn’t heard The Beatles in a while so I played it.
5. Anberlin (74 listens) – Came up as I went through the artists alphabetically. Can’t believe they’re releasing their final album this year, but I’m excited to see them on the Warped Tour. Still remains the BEST personal example I have of piracy illicit acquisition being a good thing for bands. Heard “Ready Fuels” when one of my brothers got it without paying. Ended up buying every single Anberlin album. So stick it in your ___ RIAA!
6. Brad Kane (71 listens) – More Disney.
7. Donna Murphy (67 listens) – Mostly “Mother Knows Best” on the Tangled Soundtrack
8. Anamanaguchi (65 listens) – From my alphabetical listening.
9. Jodi Benson (63 listens) – More Disney.
10. Five Iron Frenzy (55 listens) – Just wanted to listen to some Five Iron Frenzy
11. Frank Ocean (54 listens) – Almost all of these listens came from my Top 15 playlist
12. Samuel E. Wright (49 listens) – Sebastian from The Little Mermaid
13. Robin Williams (45 listens) – Almost entirely the song “Friend Like Me” from Aladdin
14. Cheryl Freeman (44 listens) – One of the Muses from Disney’s Hercules
15. Taylor Swift (43 listens) – From Scarlett’s birthday playlist

Stats

Total Songs: 14 472 (up from 13 417) – Double the increase from last quarter. And I haven’t even added in all the new music I have.

Total Artists: 4309 (up from 3996) – I gained a LOT more artists than last time; 3 times as many. It’s been a great time for new music – especially with NPR’s South by Southwest sampler.

Total Albums: 3333 (up from 3052) – This matches the total artists increase pretty well since I get lots of singles.

Average Songs Per Album:  4.34 ( a slight decrease from 4.39) – I added a ton of singles, so no surprise there.

Average Songs Per Artist: 3.36(same as last time 3.36) – This is really weird.

Scrobbles at End of Quarter: 74,852 – so close to 75k! I wonder what will be my 75kth song. Will it once again be that Five Iron Frenzy song? A favorite song or a relatively unknown new song?

Total Scrobbles for this Quarter: 3772 – The Top 15 accounted for 1226 or 33% of the Scrobbles. Lower than last quarter, but similar to 2013 Q3. So a plurality of what I listened to isn’t accounted for here – but that makes sense given the reason why. (Recap: It’s because I listened to about 300 new artists and they mostly had singles)

Yesterday, just outside my neighborhood, my Civic reached 100 000 miles. So far the only problem is that the radio’s a bit wonky with the front speakers.

An Interesting Trend that shows that Teens just want their own special space

Here’s a funny fake-news video reporting on the mass-migration of teens from Facebook (where their parents have migrated) to the comments section of a slow-motion Youtube video of a deer running. While I don’t think there’s going to be mass-migration of all the world’s teens to one comment board, there’s a grain of truth here. My old Informationweek editor, Mitch Wagner, once discovered some young girls holding a gossipy chat in the comments section of an old blog post of his; when he asked them what they were doing there, they told him that their school blocked all social media, so every day they picked a random blog-post somewhere on the Internet and used it as a discussion board for the day.

February Video Game Report: Civ, Analogue & Hate Plus Review

Civilization V ( 20 hrs):

Lefties

Civ 5 - Lefties 1896

Civ 5 – Lefties 1896

Dido tried to be opportunistic and attack me while I was at war with the Celts. Now she is facing my wrath. I will not stop until she has been wiped off the map.

Civ 5 - Lefties 1898

Civ 5 – Lefties 1898

Left a contingent behind to make sure the Celts don’t get cute.

Civ 5 - Lefties 1902

Civ 5 – Lefties 1902

About to pay back this city state for attacking me on behalf of Dido.

Mesa Bros

Civ 5 - Mesa Bros 680AD

Civ 5 – Mesa Bros 680AD

My most peaceful game thus far. Maybe because of my Great Wall? My borders continue to advance so quickly that my territory spans beyond the Great Wall.

A Brave New World….

I got the latest expansion pack for Christmas and Dave started a new game.

Civ 5 - Brave New World 3640 BC

Civ 5 – Brave New World 3640 BC

I am doing early exploration of the terrain. Scouting for other civs and for city locations.

Civ 5 - Brave New World Ruins

Civ 5 – Brave New World Ruins

Who wouldn’t want to join my awesome civ?

OMBNW2

Civ 5 - OMBNW2 - 3820BC

Civ 5 – OMBNW2 – 3820BC

My beautiful capital city. Not much else has happened yet.

Civ 5 - OMBNW2 - 3760BC

Civ 5 – OMBNW2 – 3760BC

Ancient Ruins!

Tiny Mesa Civ

I started a new game that has just the three of us competing. After the pounding I’ve taken in the Lefties game, I was curious what would happen if the three of us faced each other without any AIs in the game.

Civ 5 - Tiny Mesa Civ 3700BC

Civ 5 – Tiny Mesa Civ 3700BC

Appropriately, each of us has a civ with a powerful early game unit. Should be the most fun and maybe the first game to end.

Civ 5 - Tiny Mesa Civ 3640BC

Civ 5 – Tiny Mesa Civ 3640BC

If it turns out that I am where I think I am, this is going to be a very interesting game.

 

Analogue: A Hate Story ( 4 hrs): SPOILERS BELOW!

Analogue: A Hate Story - Intro

Analogue: A Hate Story – Intro

I bought this game on a whim during a Valentine’s Day sale. I’d heard a lot about the creator and the price was right for something I had no idea whether or not I’d like. It’s now in contention for my Game of the Year. The night after I started this game I spent nearly every waking moment of the night obsessed with this game. I’ve read a lot about people wondering about the future of fiction now that we have e-readers. Clearly the traditional authors haven’t been spending much time with those creating video games because I think this game shows at least one way in which storytelling can evolve in the future. Sure, it’s not the best way to tell all stories, but for a certain segment of stories that revolve around the reader learning about the world and the characters from a state of mystery, I think it works rather well.

Analogue: A Hate Story - An External Connection

Analogue: A Hate Story – An External Connection

The game also contains a conceit right at home with the science fiction short stories I listen to via Clarkesworld or Escape Pod. A generation ship that was supposed to found some colonies was lost hundreds of years ago. Recently someone spotted it and the player is asked to go to the ship and retrieve any data they can from the ship’s records so that their distant relatives on Earth can find out what happened. The player connects to the ship’s Unix-like terminal and eventually launches a GUI to help them go through the ship’s records. The ship contains a helpful AI, named Hyune-ae, who helps to comment on what you’re reading. At first it just seems like a story of mundane fighting among nobles, especially nobles jealous of The Pale Bride who has become the Emperor’s consort because his first wife cannot give him a son.

Analogue: A Hate Story - The Pale Bride

Analogue: A Hate Story – The Pale Bride

I love how the horror unfolds little by little and the final twist is gut wrenching. First you learn that The Pale Bride is a girl who had been put into cryogenic sleep in the hope that there would be a cure for her disease in the future. The first bit of tragedy is that somehow things have degraded in the future. People have a lot less scientific knowledge and the society is also backwards compared to where the girl is from (which seems to share our values). Then you find out the AI and the girl are the same – or rather that she uploaded her memories into the AI.

Analogue: A Hate Story - The Pale Bride's Diaries

Analogue: A Hate Story – The Pale Bride’s Diaries

Then a point is reached where it appears there is nothing else to do. So I activated the other AI, Mute.  I thought it was neat how you go through all the records with both Hyun-ae and Mute. Mute was the ship’s security AI and she shares that society’s values. So she has nearly the opposite reaction to each of records than Hyun-ae did. Then comes the huge shocker – although she’d been increasingly antagonistic about Hyuna, she tells you to ask Hyuna-ae why she killed everyone on the ship. I’d seen some of the other plot twists (although not many of them) coming, but this one just made my jaw drop. Not only because of how cute and polite Hyun-ae had been, but because the story had treated her as a nearly helpless victim the entire time.

Analogue: A Hate Story - Mute talking about Hyun-ae

Analogue: A Hate Story – Mute talking about Hyun-ae

At this point Christine Love showed off her sense of drama and storytelling by suddenly having the ship have issues with the core. The game leaves you and Hyun-ae scrambling with a timer to try and fix the core. So the question and answer the you want most is delayed while you try and keep the ship and your answers (and work) from exploding.

 

Analogue: A Hate Story - Reactor Trouble

Analogue: A Hate Story – Reactor Trouble

After that you find out why she killed everyone. It was one of the most horrible things I’d experienced in fiction and I actually found myself thinking, for a second, of committing genocide against the society that would think it’s OK to do this to her. Of course, afterwards I realized it was still wrong, but Christine Love left me with so much whiplash that it was then tough to choose not to take Hyun-ae with me when the game suddenly became a slight dating sim. (Which it had kinda been the entire time)

Analogue: A Hate Story - Hyun-ae begins to explain her genocide

Analogue: A Hate Story – Hyun-ae begins to explain her genocide

The Korean culture was so integral to understanding the game, that I thought for sure that Christine Love was Korean. However, from what I can tell from my Googling, she isn’t. She’s just incredibly well read in Korean culture. Lack of Korean culture knowledge was not a barrier, but I think I could have enjoyed it more as a Korean or Koreaphile.

As a science fiction story, the only thing I felt was unexplained was getting her memories into the computer. And even that didn’t really come into play until Mute criticized her at one point and said that the AI was just a construct, not really her.

During the Mute section of gameplay there was a lesbian relationship and part of the reason was just to have Mute criticize it. But part of it was to show the beauty of the relationship in a world that tolerated men sleeping around, but wasn’t open to women being sexual in almost any way, especially as lovers with each other. It was refreshing to see another point of view in games. Not only was it great for this one to have a strong female protagonist, but to also have gay characters, but not done in a preachy way, was very neat.

I’ll mention in the Hate Plus review why I actually ended up going back and replaying for the different endings: Hyuna-ae, Mute, Harem. Until I got to hate plus, I didn’t see a point in playing multiple endings. I’m just not that much of a completionist and I don’t have lots of free time.

Hate Plus (8  hrs): SPOILERS BELOW!

Hate Plus - Intro

Hate Plus – Intro

Hate Plus is a bit of a play on words because not only is it more information about the world of Analogue: A Hate Story, it also uses New Game Plus conventions of loading a save from the previous game to inform this game of your relationship to the main character. (Go to load to do this – not new game, I didn’t do it at first)

Hate Plus - With Hyun-ae

Hate Plus – With Hyun-ae

Christine Love creates a reason for replay by having different reactions from Mute and Hyun-ae as we’d seen before. In fact, while I didn’t really have any interest in replaying Analogue for the different ending achievements, Hate Plus, having Mute as the central character gives a compelling reason to replay Analogue, ending up with Mute in order to play through Hate Plus with Mute. Love doesn’t disappoint as you IMMEDIATELY get logs from when Mute first wakes up in the Analogue world, filling in some of the history you didn’t have before – which is a large part of the point of Hate Plus.

Hate Plus - New Logs when playing with Mute

Hate Plus – New Logs when playing with Mute

As I mention in the preceding paragraph, Hate Plus is a prequel to Analogue. That immediately makes it simultaneously extremely interesting and slightly deflating in that you know how things will end up. My first play-through was Hyun-ae and it was interesting to see how seemingly unimportant small changes led to the vastly different world in Analog. This game focuses a lot more on regular folks who go through the transition period and come out the other side chewed up by the machinations. Unlike the following generations, they didn’t grow up in this new world, so they have a hard time going from a world that appears to have freedoms similar to modern-day America to the world in the first game. We also see the minutes of the meetings of the noble families who control the ship.

Hate Plus - The diaries of the commoners

Hate Plus – The diaries of the commoners

It was actually quite depressing to see how, just like today’s politicians, by vying for power and trying to play to their bases, they end up screwing over society. Little changes here and there end up with society less educated to the point where they can’t even read hangol anymore in the world of Analog. I see so many parallels in what’s going on now with anti-science politicians and it worries me. At least we’re not on a generation ship – there are still other countries that may not be self-sabotaging the way we are.

Hate Plus - The minutes of the Council Meetings

Hate Plus – The minutes of the Council Meetings

The game has the conceit that the player’s ship doesn’t have enough power to go through all the records in a row. You can only do a few per day.  It’s pretty awesome that the game actually makes me wait 12 hours between days to force me to wait and decompress on the info I learned. In practice that led to me waiting until the following day, just like my character in the game.

Hate Plus - End of Day One

Hate Plus – End of Day One

This game upped the ante on the gay relationships quite a bit, but while the other game was about how it was forbidden and, in some ways, seen as “cute” by one of the husbands, this game was about how the changes in society lead to the destruction of relatively amazing relationships.

While both games follow multiple characters with a very nice ensemble feel, each has a slightly more main character; Hyun-ae in the first game and Mute in the second game. However, put together it’s almost like the Star Wars Trilogy and then prequels. Mute, like Darth Vader, is a jerk the first time you meet her. After seeing how she ended up that way, you have a completely different understanding of the character. Although, unlike Star Wars, Hate Plus does not suck.

Hate Plus - Mute sees The Death of Mute

Hate Plus – Mute sees The Death of Mute

I played the game as Mute and ended up with her committing suicide over how she betrayed her lieutenant. I haven’t yet had time to play the harem game so I don’t know what the effect of having both Hyun-ae and Mute in the computer will be, but I’m excited to see if I learn new information.

Both of these games together are so amazing they may as well be Christine Love’s magnum opus. But, sadly, she’s only making one more game in this style. I respect her desire to branch out and create other types of games, but I am sad that I will only get to play one more of her amazing narratives.

25th Anniversary of The Web Invites some Introspection

If you’ve been following Internet news recently, you know that the World Wid Web is celebrating its 25th Anniversary this year. Lots of people have been talking abou tthe first websites they ever set up. Unfortunately for me, my earliest sites were not captured by the Internet Archive. But I started on the web around 1995 or 1996 on Angelfire. From there I went to Tripod and Geocities. Eventually, I joined the two so that I could have a whopping 20 MB of hosting space between the two providers. I’ve mentioned it many times before, but my first web presence was a Squaresoft fan site – mostly revolving around Final Fantasy 6 (3 in the US) and Chrono Trigger. I also used it here and there in High School for various things. When I got back to Tripod in college and found that Tripod had deleted that site, I created a personal site for the first time.  Around 2003 I started messing around with running my own server using Fedora Core 1. And since 2005 I’ve been blogging here at It’s A Binary World 2.0. And in the last few years I’ve had a web comic and a site that comments on commercial comics. It’s incredible that we’ve gone from 10 MB at Tripod to my current host giving me unlimited storage because it’s gotten so cheap. I’ve gone from one website to 3 with more to come in 2014.

So I jumped into the Wayback Machine to see how my websites have changed over time. Man, design-wise I’m a bit embarrassed. It is so much easier now with WordPress, themes, and CSS customization. For example, here’s my Tripod site in 2004 – which used to be www.ericsbinaryworld.com (This is why my blog is, at the time of this writing, at server.ericsbinaryworld.com. Although, as I mentioned before, that may soon change) I had an intro video (which was all the rage back then). But even then people found them annoying so I also had a link to skip it. Which would take you here. I had used image maps before, but they still weren’t completely passe at the time. Interestingly, I had a little proto-blog going on at the bottom of that page. Also I was trying to sell my photos on ebay, how quaint. (By the way, you can use the Wayback Machine’s interface to scroll through the changes to my websites over time)

I’ve split my server Wayback into two links because when I first started I was using frames and that breaks the Wayback Machine’s ability to go forward in time past a certain point. Looking back at that it’s so funny that I thought I would somehow become a new web host running a server out of my dorm on a crappy old PC running Fedora Core 1. i was about 10-20 years too late for that. Still, the way I organized things is definitely revealing into the way my mind worked then. Later on, I went for elegance in simplicity. And it remained that way (with a few tweaks here and there) until now. I plan to change it over the next few months as I decide whether or not to move the blog and clean up links and other things that broke because of the move to Dreamhost.

So, there you go, a tour of my 18 years on the Internet, slightly more than half my lifetime. (And, unfortunately, only the last 10 years captured on the Wayback Machine) It’s been a whirlwind of a journey through different topics and design preferences. (And that doesn’t even count the often recounted way I’ve gone through so many different phases of what I talk about on the blog or the theme changes the blog has had) It’ll be very interesting to see how it goes for the next 18 years as technologies come and go and things go in and out of style. First everyone had personal home pages or fan tribute sites. Then everyone had blogs. Then everyone got scattered. Some to MySpace and then Facebook. Others stayed with blogs and yet others went to other types of CMSes like Joomla or Drupal. See you at the next anniversary.