Monday, December 29, 2008

Windows rant, playing games over Christmas break

Holy cow you mean to say that I haven't updated hwan.com in 11 days? Yikes. That is.. well, I am sorry. Not that sorry, but surprised certainly. Actually, I'm here to write about windows, er, Windows. In particular, reordering of items in the Start menu. For the longest time I would, when tidying up my Start programs, press really hard on the mouse button, sometimes getting the item to drag and sometimes not, not really knowing why it would or wouldn't work. Irrational I know, but it just felt that doing so would help. I finally figured it out just now -- if you drag a folder, you have to wait for Windows to expand it. Otherwise, the expand animation unsets the click and doesn't recognize that you are attempting a drag action.

THIS IS STUPID!!! Oh WOW that bugs me ever so much. How did this possibly get past user testing? How is it that this has been this way since.. since dragging of expandable Start Menu items was allowed? Windows Explorer certainly doesn't act this way. I just realized.. WHY THE HECK DOES WINDOWS HAVE TO FADE MY BLOODY START MENU! It's the most used interface on my computer and I've been sitting around waiting for the damned thing to animate!? That's it, I'm turning that crap off right now. Hmm.. how do I remove the delay? Oh c'mon Windows, don't tell me you need time to render a few icons and text? Surely not! Hmmm.. oh I see. Apparently, Windows defaults the following registry key value to 400:

My Computer\HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Control Panel\Desktop\MenuShowDelay

Which is the biggest piece of rubbish ever. Oh, I do shake my head so.

I woke up at some fiendish hour today, maybe around 6 or 7 AM? Left work around 7 or 8? Playing StarCraft, yeah. Anyway, I can't concentrate on more than one thing right now, which probably explains why my gaming was so terrible. And a minute ago I was talking to my mom on the phone and I glanced at something on the screen and totally blanked out of the conversation. We were talking about my dad's birthday and I have NO recollection of what she said, oh dear.

Hmm.. but my mental state did not deter me from dropping a bit of fun money on some Steam games -- Prince Of Persia, Mass Effect and Sid Meier's Pirates! Steam has a funtastic little special on everything right now, and what with the economy the way it is, I decided to do a little bit of extra saving. Before 2009. Not that I need a reason to be irrational.

Christmas was alright, yeah. I spent it in Markham with the parents and sister. Ate a whole lot, stomach now on the flabtastic side. Came home Friday night, and spent much of the weekend playing the new Red Alert 3. Video games! Why aren't more people playing them? Shamus may know: Reset Button: Most Innovative Game of 2008.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

StarCraft, rating charities

"Every time I have to remove my shoes at an airport it would be nice if there were a picture of Bush nearby to throw them at." -- twoleftfeet

Been watching and playing a lot of StarCraft lately. Yes you heard right. Watching videos on GOM TV has really opened up my mind to the complexities and intricate nature of the game. Well, of course it helps that the commentary is in English and reasonably entertaining in of itself. At work too the spirit of RTS is alive and well, with many people working to improve their skills. Certainly passions also run high, and can bring out the worst in us. Oh, how the tempers do flare! What is it about creating an army and watching it die that frustrates one so? And why do we keep playing when it happens? Such a struggle!

I find the Canada Revenue Agency Charity site helpful in choosing where to send my donations. I'm thinking that I can judge them by how much of their revenue was spent on advertising. For example, the Canadian Wildlife Federation spent over $7.5 million (68% of their revenue) on advertising and promotion in 2007. The similarly named Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society spent a trim $94 thousand (3% of their revenue). Well, this is not my ONLY metric, but it does serve to give a little guidance here and there.

Friday, December 12, 2008

toothpaste, Tylenol, TTC

Chemicals! They surround us and penetrate us. They bind the galaxy together. And once in a while I find out that it's the ones in my toothpaste that have been responsible for that strange film I sometimes find in my mouth. At least, I'm fairly certain that sodium laureth sulfate (SLES) is responsible for that. The wiki article also talks about it being responsible for increasing the frequency of canker sores, which as you know I love to hate. I've also noticed that my shampoo and dishwash soap contain SLS/SLES. Surrounds us indeed.

The other chemical? His popular consumer form is Tylenol and the danger he poses is to the liver. More to the point, apparently alcohol and Acetaminophen work together as a double whammy. News to me, who has been prescribing tylenol and water after a night of heavy drinking. Yeah, oh my poor, poor liver. But no more! No, I've turned from this potentially harmful duo. Well, the Tylenol half anyway.

Finally on my list of things to mention, remember way back when I said it would be nice if the TTC used their GPS to let people know when the next car is coming? Well, apparently they were already thinking about it: Where's the Streetcar? Right there. And there. And there. Pretty sexy! Now, if only they would increase the actual number of vehicles out there. And lower their prices. And Febreezed the streetcars once in a while. But yeah, I'd settle for more frequent service.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

reading, watching, watching

'ello 'ello! Yup, December. Hey, I finished reading The Road, the Cormac McCarthy book. Pretty good! I found it reminded me of I Am Legend for that tension from having a survivalist dialog. It's kind of a far reaching comparison I suppose. Certainly I can compare it with Fallout 3, a very obvious contrast there. I find myself quite enjoying McCarthy's books, and will likely seek out his other work. I must say that I am excited to see how it will translate to the big screen, and should curb my enthusiasm as it is not Coen-directed.

Started watching Summer Heights High, an Australian mockumentary centered around three characters in a high school. The twist is that all three people are played by Chris Lilley and it is down right eerie how good he is at it. Surreal. Oh, I suppose one could compare it to The Office (the UK one) since it also has that authentic documentary feel. You can find some clips on YouTube to get a taste of it.

I've been trying to go to bed earlier, but apparently it does little good in getting me to work at a Christian hour. Is this coffee addiction at work, or malaise? Eh, a little of column A....

Oh right, I sat through Real Genius on Sunday. Huh. Why did I expect more? The plot kind of made me ill. And I couldn't stand watching the main actor -- something about him just bothered the heck out of me. It's the way he LOOKS. Nice to see Jon Gries (of Napolean Dynamite!) in an early role. Yeah, the nerd/physics stuff is nice. I suppose if I had seen this during or just before my university days I'd be more inclined to spout its perceived cleverness and wit, but the older, current me just doesn't feel it.

Friday, December 05, 2008

festivities and some StarCraft ideas

Silly times, my friends. Drinking, drinking, drunk. Tonight more of the like for the office Christmas party, this year at Tappo Restaurant out in the Distillery district. Yesterday was the Charlotte room, Wednesday was Bar Wellington. Oh my sides! In the latter parts of the evening I was trying to convince my friend to drink some water, him being in the state he was, by applying various slogans to make water more appealing. "Water, It's In You To Give", "Water, Nature's Fruit-juice", "Water, The Sweat of the Earth". Actually, the bartender came up with the brilliant "Water, Turn It On" and the memorable "Water, Put It In Your Mouth". Indeed.

I floated in out and out consciousness, trying to sleep but my mind all a-buzz. I thought about the upcoming StarCraft 2 and how, if at all, they plan to improve the game. I mean, aside from the graphics. A huge gripe of mine with the original (bless it's well-balanced heart) is that controlling units is too dependent on accurate mouse handling. I thus had the idea to have a set of buttons on the side that automatically allow one to select groups of units visible on the screen. For example, if you have a bunch of Marines, Medics, and Tanks (which is quite often for Terran), in order to StimPack your Marines you have to either already have them assigned to a hotkey or to doubleclick on one, a tricky endeavor in the chaos of battle. Instead, there would be a list of buttons on the side, one for all the visible Marines, one for the Medics and one for the Siege-mode Tanks and one for the mobile ones. Remove this layer of mouse control and even up the playing field a bit.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

words beginning with the letter "h"

SCATTERGORIES... it's harder than it looks! Hit Forward, erase my answers, enter yours, send it on to 10 people including the one that sent this to you. Use the 1st letter of your name to answer each of the following. They have to be real places, names, things.. nothing made up! Try to use different answers if the person in front of you had the same 1st initial. You CAN'T use your name for the boy/girl name question.

WHAT IS YOUR NAME: Hwan

BOY NAME: Hortense? Harry

4 LETTER WORD: hide

GIRL NAME: Hilary

OCCUPATION: Horse-whisperer. Hairdresser? Hoser? Haberdasher!

A COLOUR: Hazel (this one took me 5 minutes)

SOMETHING YOU WEAR: Hat. headpiece.

BEVERAGE: Heineken?

FOOD: Hamburger

SOMETHING FOUND IN A BATHROOM: Handle?

A PLACE: Himalayas (there be my Sherpa playas).

REASON FOR BEING LATE: Hissyfit.

SOMETHING YOU SHOUT: HOT DAMN. Or How the heck? Or simply Hell.

Monday, December 01, 2008

The Wages of Daily Living

Blast this weather! How is it that it always manages to ruin my complexion, and thus my mood, and hence my mind? Cannot think, cannot feel. Aching, itching. Mornings are still a struggle, unrested, unready.

This morning was more tedious than usual as there was some kind of streetcar stoppage at the corner of Queen and Roncesvalles. Eventually a bus came by to pick us up, but it unfortunately struck (or nearly struck) an old woman crossing the street at Dufferin and King. Yes it was nutty, but I think she was more shaken up than physically injured if indeed there was contact as I didn't witness it directly.

Not really watching much these days. I did see an old French film on the weekend, The Wages of Fear (1953) a black and white thriller. It takes a while to get going but once it does WHOO it's a wild ride. I saw the Criterion Collection version and wasn't happy with the translation used -- there were times when even I, with my faltering French, could tell that details were being left out, that nuances were missed. I guess however that it's not the dialogue that makes The Wages of Fear the memorable experience it is.

Did you hear about that taxi cab that hit a cyclist, amputating his leg? Cabbie charged with assaulting cyclist who had leg amputated [cbc.ca]. The story makes one squeamish to be sure. I've driven past the mentioned intersection often, as recently as yesterday. Toronto definitely needs a better bicycle infrastructure but I certainly hope that this incident is not indicative of driver attitudes towards cyclists! I'm not sure if I mentioned here before but I really believe that we need designated lanes for cyclists if cars and bikes are to share the roads. Dancing that thin line between the curb and moving traffic is fun and all but it's just not worth it.

Christmas! Seriously, what is up with that. Will nothing stop the flow of time?