Saturday, November 26, 2011

Double Agents?

It appears there has been some sort of leak in the security of Top Secret information among the Fascist faction.

Yes, that's right, I'm talking about the Lakewood War.

As I mentioned before, I assumed that I had the upper-hand since I had made my allegiance to Helen and Susan known to them by finking on my co-worker. What's more, it seemed that I'd not feel the heat of a Junta counter-attack right away since I was given free reign in the decision on when, if ever, to pull the trigger to get that person fired.

Well, this morning Katherine got her double chair make-shift bed all set up, and cozied up in it right after rounds. Before long she was snoring away in Sleepy Sleepy Land. I sat there contemplating the use of my secret trump card but decided that the current situation, with an informed yet inactive Gestapo was probably best and I continued to watch my Netflix-streamed movie and ignored her sleeping. If I really felt slighted, I said to myself, I could always act on it another day.

Then the oddest thing...

The office phone rang on Line 4. This line is rarely used. I've only seen it used by a friend of Katherine's who would occasionally call her on it. (Why not her cell phone? I don't know.) I woke Katherine up joking saying she had a call on her "private" line since I thought it was her friend. She answered it and she said "It's June!", kinda surprised. She listened for a bit then gave June her cell phone number. A minute later she answered her cell phone and left the room.

She was away a few minutes and when she came back she put the second chair back in the other room, sat upright in her chair and called up who I assumed was her friend. (Her friend, BTW, is, I think, a former co-worker from another residential facility who works overnights, thus the availability to talk at 3:00 am) Katherine started talking about how she had to be on-guard now and was pissed that her job was in jeopardy.

Was she talking about my communication to Susan?

If so, how the fuck did she find out?

I certainly didn't mention anything to June and I would doubt Susan would say anything to anyone "unloyal".

But afterwards Katherine was still nice to me and her actions didn't seem at all indicative of someone cautious or vindictive so it may not be me she was warned about, if that's what the whole thing was.

It remains a mystery...

What does Katherine know? Who is she mad at? Why did June call her? If June warned her, how did June come to know? Is she able to hack my private email? Maybe she reads this blog? Does Susan confide stuff to a Junta supporter? Am I the only one saying Katherine sleeps? Is it about sleeping or something else? Will she sleep again? If not, have I lost my football? If I don't have the football, who does? The Grand Duchy of Finwick?

(Cue the cheesy dramatic "Ton Ton TAAAAAAAA" cliffhanger music!)

Friday, November 25, 2011

Notch vs. Yogscast Controversy

Oh there's a flame war goin' on between the creator of Minecraft and one of the biggest Minecraft-themed YouTube channels, but it may all be over a simple misunderstanding.

It all started a few days ago when Notch, the creator of Minecraft and founder of Mojang, an indie video game developer seems to have "drunk tweeted" (or sleep-deprived tweeted) deprecating remarks about the Yogscast. The Yogscast are mainly two guys from England who, although already-established gaming video makers on YouTube, hit YouTube fame and "fortune" when they started doing Minecraft playthrough videos.

Mojang had just hosted last week's Minecon, a convention celebrating Minecraft, in Las Vegas and Simon and Lewis (aka The Yogscast) were also there as presenters. Though they prepared video material and agreed to a Q&A panel as well as autograph signings, they apparently were only compensated by getting free rooms from Mojang. (And, though it's never been stated as being the case, we Americans know how Vegas works...because of the business the convention was going to bring to the hosting Mandalay Bay, they [Mojang] likely were given a free bank of rooms from the hotel) so it probably didn't cost Notch (who's made millions from Minecraft's incredible success) a penny.

But Notch, for whatever reason, said via Twitter, that he felt Simon and Lewis were inappropriately rude and not indicative of the Minecraft community. He mentioned they'd "dropped the F-bomb" in front of and directly to kids. He also called them egomaniacs and implied they tried to mooch from him some kind of payment for being in attendance.

Well before you could say "Diggy Diggy Hole" the "Minecraft community" was up in arms, splitting into two camps like Twilight fans and it soon became an internet-wide war between Team Notch and Team Yogscast.

The boys made a very brief video response to Notch's statement and a professionally-written post about it on Reddit. If you ask me, the Yogscast showed their maturity and have definately deflated Notch's rants to that of misunderstanding or out right lies.

I fully support Simon and Lewis. Having watched enough of their videos, you can tell they're not mean or spiteful. They do have a bawdy sense of humor though and I could see that some could get the wrong idea.

For instance, I found this on Simon's Facebook, apparently submitted by a tweenaged-looking Minecon attendee asking "Y U do this?":


I get the satire, obviously poking fun at the whole idea of fandom and autograph seeking, but you can see where a kid might not "get it" and take it literally. And their parents might not have found the joke very funny either. Especially when they just paid hundreds of dollars for their kid to attend a convention they themselves probably didn't see the value in.

EDIT: A few days after posting this I happened to rent the absolutely hilarious comedy film "Paul" and saw yet another connection to the "Fuck Off" remarks at autograph signings. In the movie, a fictional "famous" (famous to Sci-Fi geeks, anyway) science fiction novelist is begrudgingly enduring a book signing. He is hostile and rude and when one fan asks for an autograph yet has not purchased a copy of his book he tells them to "fuck off". Now this character was an over-the-top pompous jerk but one could imagine spoofing his actions for inside joke comic effect that would more-fully be appreciated by viewers of this film...and I'm sure a lot of Yognaughts had seen the movie and "got it".

Whatever. I for one hope this blows over soon. The boys need to move on. Notch has already made some conciliatory remarks on Twitter regarding this ordeal. 'Nuff said about it.

I hope it doesn't mean the Yogscast is going to self-censor their videos and make them G-rated just to placate a few overly-sensitive types. And Notch better not make good on his initial threat to never work with them again. Minecraft on its own is a cute game but it looses its lure rapidly since it can be too unstructured. Simon and Lewis add spirit to Minecraft that is otherwise lacking.

And besides, like I posted about when I first discovered their videos, it really is more fun watching them play than playing it myself.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

The Mouse That Roared?

After receiving my email, Susan called me Monday morning and said she was very appreciative of the information. She was planning on notifying June and asking her to call her when on-shift if Katherine fell asleep so that Susan could do a "surprise" visit, catching her in the act.

But I told Susan that that might not work out so well since I believed June was complicit if not engaging in the same behavior as Katherine. This didn't seem to surprise Susan, I guess she suspected it. She said she'd make an unannounced visit that night and I suggested around 2:00 am.

But the next day (yesterday) when I arrived on campus for a scheduled in-service, Susan caught up with me and mentioned how she didn't do a spot check and would wait 'till I was on-shift so I could call her when Katherine pulls her sleepy-time mode again.

So no fireworks or drama, this week. No one knows about this Pearl Harbor email except Susan (and Helen, I would guess) and me. As I see it, though, it works out sweetly because now I have the best of both worlds...

I can elect whether or not to call Susan in whenever I feel it is needed. Kinda like having the "football" and the power of deciding when to launch the nuclear missiles. Until then, I can continue to enjoy the subtle corruption of a shift filled with 90% leisure time while enjoying the security of a boss who now thinks I'm totally loyal to her.

And if Susan or Helen ever do pop in to inspect, and they find folks doin' what they're not supposed to be doin', at least I can't be assumed culpable. I gave them warning.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

It's Like Google Earth

But it's real!

Check out this awesome footage taken as a series of photos from the ISS.



Really makes you feel special and lucky to be living on such a beautiful and precious planet.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

She's Here!

Oh my new baby has finally arrived. The stork (aka Fed Ex) just delivered her yesterday afternoon and I've been losing sleep messing around with her ever since.

She's a little different than the item I'd ordered originally. That one was cancelled rudely by Dell when they couldn't confirm my financing. Turned out I was approved but it still showed pending on their end. No matter, I cleared it up with the financial folks and then I got transferred to sales to reorder my rig.

The sales guy hooked me up with a bigger hard drive but he pulled a Slim Shady on me and reduced my graphics card from a 6770 to a 6670. Still a nice card but I didn't catch it otherwise I would have held firm on getting my original choice especially as the 6670 is about 500 points less than the 6770 in Passmark's benchmark comparisons. Also, Edmer (the sales guys name) threw in a ton of bloatware which I found a little irritating but I know he's just trying to inflate his commission. With a terabyte hard drive I guess it won't chew up too much space. Just gotta make sure the crap doesn't bug me with registration pop-ups and stuff or a-deleted they will be. Oh and the "savings"? Ten whole bucks...big fuckin' deal.

But all's well. She's hooked up and though I'm still loading and tweaking, she is a fine specimen, let me tell you. The fastest computer I've ever had! And really not a bad price...just over $900 with tax. Figuring the buck and a half I forked over for the monitor, it all came up to just over a grand.

Oh, and what's one of the first things I got to test out her power? SKYRIM!

I bought it on Steam last night and played a few hours through to today. It's maxed out on Ultra High graphics and it looks and behaves like butter! So fast and smooth and gorgeous!

Just thought I'd share. I'm off to work tonight, having to deal with my now comparatively ancient and creaky old Toshiba laptop.

But I'll be thinking about my new love every minute, waiting anxiously to ride again through the forests and mountains of Skyrim with my red hot mama!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

WAR!

So it has begun.

I knew I'd have to be the one to fire the first shot and just a few minutes ago I did.

The workplace war has begun!

What's weird is the enemy doesn't even know I started it. Not yet, anyway. They'll find out soon enough, I'm certain.

The factions are basically loosely divided as such. My placement among the troops was cemented just now as I fired off my scathing email.

The Fascists:
Helen and Susan

The Fascist Informers:
Charmaine, Theresa and now, I guess, me.

The Fascist-leaning Independents:
Aurea, Stephanie and Chris

The Junta:
Phyllis, Evelisse, June, Katherine, Mikisha

The Junta-leaning Independents:
Josh, Marquis, Enjoli and Alma

The Clueless Newbies:
Ryan, Jeremy and David

Here's a reprint of my email. Surely a declaration if I've ever seen one. We'll soon see where it takes us. BONSAI!!!:

Susan,

I have to let you know that it's gotten quite uncomfortable for me working with Katherine. I've spoken to her on several occasions about sleeping on shift but she continues to do so regardless. It started a while ago when she began getting in the habit of kicking off her shoes and propping her feet up on another chair she pulls over from the other room. She then started to nod off and I'd have to call out to her to not fall asleep. Now, it seems almost every time I'm on shift with her she gets into position and proceeds to fall asleep, even to the point of snoring. Last night she actually went into the break room, turned on the TV, shut the light and slept there. When I needed her help, I had to shout out to wake her. She's again snoring in her double chair set up as I type this.

I'm at wits end. I hate to communicate this to you and if it were just a one time thing it might be understandable but I pride myself on trying to do a good job and I have, though it can be difficult, made all necessary adjustments to my personal life even before I started here in order to accommodate an overnight work routine.

If you feel this behavior of Katherine's can be corrected by some action on your part I'd look forward to it since as it is it's like I'm working alone and I'm concerned for the safety of the residents.

Sincerely,

Michael

Saturday, November 19, 2011

MINECRAFT MANIA: Minecraft 1.0

After what I'd say was the longest and most prolifically-distributed alpha and beta releases of a video game I can think of, Minecraft 1.0 has finally arrived.

So that means after two and a half years of "testing" the game should be bug free, right? Well...


Here's my fabulous "We Built This City". Seems the same as beta 1.8 but we're facing towards what I used to think was the north. And now the sun sets here. So basically, the Minecraft planet (which as proven in the "Moon" mod is indeed a cube, or maybe a flat square...the jury's out on that one) has flipped 90 degrees on its "axis". Oh well, no bother to me. We all know this isn't Earth after all, so strange positioning of the sun and moon is no biggie.

I've also noticed grass has different shades now, making my fields of greenery look a bit odd. Trees have variation of green which does look nice. Water looks darker and very different. Of course all this could also be due to either my re-installation of the graphics drivers (which were giving me an irritating error message each start-up) or the fact I've begun using my new 24" monitor which arrived a couple days ago.

Sounds are a little different too. There's a "clink" when you wear out a tool and there's a bone-crushing thud when you fall; no more "ohhph!".

But my city survives. And when I get the new 'puter with her blazing specs, there'll be no limit to how magnificent she'll shine. Even if it is in the blare of a southern sunrise.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Hey World! Look At Me!

I love it! This is exactly what I'd do in the same situation!

I happened to be looking something up on Google Maps near this location and as I was "virtually cruising" down the road in StreetView, I spotted this:


This kid obviously saw the Google car and struck a pose for his 15 minutes of internet fame.

Check it out yourself here.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Banks Deserve To Burn In Hell

In. Out. In. Out. Ahhhh.

Oh, excuse me, I'm doing some deep breathing exercises to calm myself down.

I'm mad as hell, and I'm not going to take it anymore!

Alright, Howard Beale's rant aside, I just realized I'd been swindled by one of my credit cards and the worse thing is I WAS TRAINED TO KNOW ABOUT THIS!

As I so memorably mentioned here on this blog many times during the months I worked at Chase, I was taught to screw people and was expected to keep a Disney-esque smile on my face while doing it.

One of the biggest scams the bank had was the ol' residual finance charge computation scheme.

It works like this:

You as the unwitiing customer pays off your credit card (or at least you THINK you do...more about that scam in a second) but because you paid it down to what seemed to be zero after the start of the next billing cycle (of course it is since you don't get your statement until the commencement of the new cycle) you are going to be assessed a finance charge on the average daily balance of the entire billing cycle, including the few days you had a balance on the card prior to your payoff. So, you are understandably confused when you get your next statement and it has a finance charge on there.

But wait, now for the real mind fuck...

If you are like me and just pay the amount on your end of statement balance online you are still going to get another finance charge based on the tiny fraction that was on your account as of the payment date in addition to the amount on the statement. For this amount, you need to call the bank and ask for the total amount to pay in order to "pay off the account in full". Say it like quoted lest the rep pretend to misinterpret you and give you only the statement balance. They're not the same!

Like some shim-sham sleazy telemarketer who tries to get you to agree to something without you even knowing it by either twisting your words or acknowledgments or requiring you to utter phrases in a rigid context, these banks are running a freakin' shell game on you.

My bank in question...let me call them out: Credit One Bank (I know, I know, one of those cards. But I had a poor credit score back in '06 so what was I to do?) They actually, it would seem from the conversations I've had today with 2 reps, train their customer service personnel to tell the customer that they are charged a finance charge on the annual fee which is broken down into monthly payments.

Now, of course that's not actually accurate. If it were it would be a total violation of the Credit CARD Act of 2009.

But wait a minute...

I just checked Wikipedia's article on the Credit CARD Act and it says even though it's law currently, it cannot be applied retroactively. That is, if I agreed to the Terms and Conditions of my credit card PRIOR to the new law's effective date of February 2010 (which is the case for me since I signed the agreement back in 2006) I could be victim to practices that are currently illegal!

Now I'm pissed at the government!

How can a law not apply across the board?

Why are there so many fucking loopholes and why is it the little guy gets screwed by all of them?!

Excuse me, I have to go now and find out where the nearest "Occupy" protest is going to be held so I can join my downtrodden, unwashed masses.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

There's Gonna Be A New Girl In Town

Eh...so I have faith in the brand, ok!
As you may recall, I purchased an iPad last month and owned it for just a few days before I hemmed and hawed but finally caved into my buyer's remorse and returned it.

About 4 months ago, I bought a new desktop computer for an amazingly low, budget-friendly price, only to return it a day later since, after checking it out, it seemed to be not even worth the $400 I'd paid for it in quality and potential. What a let down.

Well, like they say, third times a charm so maybe this time, it's gonna work out...

That's right, I bought another computer.

This one cost more than the prior two combined.

But it should be worth it, check out her specs:

Dell XPS 8300
Intel® Core i7-2600 processor (8MB Cache, 3.4GHz)
Windows 7 Home Premium, 64Bit
8GB DDR3 SDRAM at 1333MHz
750GB HDD- 7200RPM, SATA 3.0Gb/s, 16MB Cache
AMD Radeon HD 6770
and separately:
AOC 24" Widescreen LCD Monitor, 1920 x 1080, 60Hz, 5ms, Piano Black - 2436VW

Yes, it'll replace Mildred 11 who is quite obsolete and showing her age. She served me well these past 5 years though...

...or has she?

Remember this, and this, and this? And those posts focus on only one of the THREE reformats I've had to do on her over the years.

The virus whore! Good riddance! ;)

Friday, November 11, 2011

SIMS CREATION: TV Memories Series "The Munsters"

Oh my goodness, what a pain it was to get this one shot.

I decided to use Sims 2 since I wanted the special architectural features in the Mansions and Gardens pack to create the Munsters mansion. But I realized not long into it that my beautiful home wouldn't be photographed well since I had to get so close up to capture the characters features.

The resolution is high since it's Sims 2 and even my under-powered laptop can handle that old game well. Well it makes things harder to see since everything is so tiny on my 15 inch laptop screen.

Next I hadn't played Sims 2 in quite a while so I forgot that even with self determination off these guys are still antsy, needing to pee, shower, eat, play and complaining every three seconds if they don't get it. Not like Sims 3 where if you take them off self control they are much easier robotic-like subjects for your photo session.

Also, pesky neighbors would get in the shot and it seemed I lost daylight awfully quickly (and I couldn't remember if you could turn off time like I think you can in Sims 3). So, I went with a nighttime pic which actually works out well since I was able to set up lighting to give the photo a more scary look.

Other than Marilyn looking a little perturbed (which she shouldn't, she was always so sweet and innocent, if not sad since she thought she was the ugly one, remember?) I guess it came out alright.