Thursday, December 29, 2005

What new year?

As of right now I have no plans for New Year's eve. Anyone want to help me amend this situation?

Seriously, I'm up for just about anything.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Holiday wrapup

Okay, I finally managed to drag myself away from games and installing and tweaking, and can now run down everything I've done in the past few days.

Christmas was the standard affair, my dad's side on Christmas Eve, my mom's side the next day. Two giant dinners, presents, the whole nine yards. The dinners didn't disappoint, as they never do, and I ate entirely too much, as I tend to do. I'm once again sick of turkey, and hope I never see it again. until next year.

Presents were a fairly mundane affair. I got a lot of socks, a new toque, some shirts, and a pair of jeans for clothes. For fun stuff, I got my aforementioned computer, an electronic Sudoku game, and the last 3 parts of the Dark Tower series. But not the first 4 parts, so I couldn't refresh my memory or have the complete set. No matter, it all came back as soon as I started reading part 5, and I was back with Roland's little ka-tet in no time.

Don't know what a ka-tet is? Shame on you. Pick up The Gunslinger and read the series. It's awesome. Standard warning about Stephen King, if you don't like his style, you might not enjoy these. Same if you're stupid or insane. Otherwise, you'll probably enjoy it.

Rounding out the cavalcade of gifts are a lot of food, and useful stuff like a mug, battery charger, and electric toothbrush. Here's a picture of the mug:
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Click to see it full-size. Quite amusing.

I'm sure I'm forgetting something, but that's the bulk of my presents. Overall, I'm happy.

Although it wasn't a present, I also got some money. My grandfather passed away in October, and on Christmas eve I got an inheritance. I'm reluctant to say exactly how much money I got, but it's significant. I have no idea what to do with it. I want to spend it, obviously, but I'm afraid of wasting it. I also want to invest it so I can have more money later in life, but I don't want to lock it all away. I figure I'll eventually find the right balance, but I don't want to leave it sitting around for too long. I don't want to become one of those guys who gets paranoid over his money, and the longer I sit without a decision, the more chance that has of happening.

Why am I telling you about this? I have no idea. Maybe someone can make a good suggestion for investing. I've already heard mutual funds and RRSPs, but I don't know what I want to do.

Anyway, the rest of Christmas day passed uneventfully. I played a lot of Sudoku, and I've solved puzzles in times ranging from 20 minutes to 8 minutes. I think that's fairly impressive, because until I got the game I'd never even tried a Sudoku puzzle. Amazing how 9 rows of 9 numbers can make such a fun and frustrating puzzle.

On Boxing Day my brother and I got lost in the woods. There's a large expanse of forest behind my grandma's house, and apparently she owns part of it. Eventually it either belongs to other people or is public land, and there are rough paths running through it in places. We used to get dragged up there every year to cut and haul wood, so I'm very familiar with the lay of the land, for one section of the forest. Away from that, I'm fairly clueless.

We got up into the limits of where we recognized stuff, and then decided to go cross country. We had no idea where we were, where we were going, or where we'd come out, but it was fun. The woods are pretty easy to get around in, except for the ocassional hill or rocky outcropping.

My brother tried to cross a valley on a log, but fell off after 3 steps. I told him it was a spectacularly bad idea, but he just had to try it. Luckily he avoided all the rocks on the ground and only hurt himself enough to be funny. After that I started a running monologue like in a documentary, referring to him as my guide and pointing out every act of poor guidance. It was pretty funny, if I do say so myself.

Eventually we came out behind a house neither of us recognized. No idea where we were, but we found a connecting public driveway and made our way back to the road. After that it was really easy to find our way home, and the adventure in the woods came to an end just in time for dinner. Amazingly.

Before finding the driveway we (well, him mostly) considered climbing a fence. We could see the road through a hole in the trees, and there was a fence in our way. It was a funny floppy kind of fence, full of barbed wire, so we very quickly rethought the entire idea. He refused to abandon it, but eventually one of us pointed out how stupid it was to try to climb over barbed wire. On the way home we saw that the other side of the fense had a rather long, steep drop down a rocky wall to the ground. He was glad we went around after that, I'm sure.

Following the saga of the forest, we had dinner and then drove home. I installed my new computer stuff and started playing games. I still haven't unpacked everything, but I'm getting closer.

And now you know the rest of the story.


Turns out there's a link on the main Guild Wars site that allows one to download the game. I already have an account, so it was all I needed. I have to visit every area of the world to download it, but it's not too long to wait.

I have all the graphics options cranked to full, and the game has only lagged once. That's in a lot of hours of gameplay, only once. And it was in an area where it always lagged anyway (in Ascalon City, turning to go down the stairs from where Warmaster Tydus is into the area with the crafters), so I feel very good about everything.

I've gotten into PvP in the least practical way: snowball arena. As part of the Wintersday celebrations (which go on until New Year's), there's a special arena where all your skills are replaced with snow-based warfare, and the object is to pick up presents and deliver them to your deity. The goddess of life and the god of death are at war to decide the fate of the world (spring or eternal winter), and I guess they couldn't decide of a better way than with a snowball fight.

Each side gets one unique skill, and each class gets a unique skill. The other 6 are the same for every player, and as with anything in Guild Wars, how you use the skills is much more important than the skills themselves.

For example, the necromancer's unique skill is to sacrifice all your health, deal 50 damage to every enemy around you, and give them -15 health degeneration. The degen actually caps at -10, but the monk's skill gives +5 regeneration, so the necro skill overrides it. Now, the skill's fairly powerful, but if you use it when nobody's around, it's wasted. If you use it in the middle of a tightly-packed cluster of enemies, you might kill them all. In the snowball arena resurrecton is instant, so you can blow yourself up and then get right back to where you were, possibly keeping the enemies in that area with the massive degen. It's all in how you use it, which is one reason why I'm starting to like the PvP system.

I'm sure I still won't enjoy regular PvP, just because I know everybody out there is going to have a build that will absolutely destroy mine, but until the new year, I'm addicted to snowball fights.

More info about Christmas will be coming soon, I just can't stop playing Guild Wars.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Calling in a favour

Hello to all my readers in the Ottawa area. I know most of you used to play Guild Wars, and I know a few of you still do.

I need to borrow your installation CDs. Mine got scratched somehow, and I decided beforehand that it would be the first game I played on the new computer.

The decision was made because it's probably the prettiest game I own, not to mention the newest. If anyone has a Half-Life 2 cd they can lend me, let me know. I'd like to give it a shot too.

New Windows blues

Well, I got my new hardware all installed, and a fresh new copy of Windows running on it. I know, some people don't like Windows, but it's what I'm comfortable with. Now for the most annoying part of any computer user's life: Getting the new version to look like the old version.

Not only do I have to track down that dll file that lets you change themes without upgrading to the plus version of Windows, I also have to remember where I saved the theme I like, and then find a Trillian skin to match. The one I made to match the old theme has mysteriously vanished, and I'm kind of upset about that.

In addition, I have to fiddle with the video settings to get the colour back to normal, and that's an ongoing process. I couldn't save my old settings, so it's back to square 1 of figuring it all out. Why didn't I write down the numbers? Why, oh why?

I haven't even had a chance to install any games to test out the new setup. I've been busy fiddling and tweaking, but soon, soon I shall play.

Computer hardware tip: If the new motherboard has a plug that that powers the CPU specifically, the computer won't work until you plug that in.

Friday, December 23, 2005

A Festivus miracle!

Happy Festivus to everyone. I don't know if I'll get around the the Airing of grievances or not, because I'm in a pretty good mood. Complaining about you all might ruin it, so I'll keep it to myself unless something later annoys me.

I'm currently waiting for my brother to get home so we can go pick up my Christmas present. I'm getting a bunch of stuff to upgrade my computer. No longer shall it be the lumbering dinosaur of the lan party! Imagine, being able to play all the same games as everybody else. Mindblowing.

I'm not jumping up to the top of the line stuff, but it's stilla hell of a lot better than what I have now. Money was an issue, so I looked for the best bang for the buck, and came up with a 2 GHz AMD processor that can emulate some 64-bit instructions. It's the Sempron 3400, if I remember correctly, and performance-wise it's equivalent to the Athlon 64 3200. It just costs roughly half the price :)

Add a gig of DDR memory and a motherboard that supports 8x AGP, and I'll finally have a system that can use my video card to its full potential. My joy is bubbling over. Seriously.

Now I need to get ahold of some games...

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

I wonder

I installed Opera 8.51. Hopefully whatever problem 8.5 was having with Blogger has been fixed.

If this text appears, I will be happy. Oh so happy.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

What's going on?

Lots of gaming, that's what's going on!

In order, Twilight Imperium, Munchkin, and Guild Wars. All over the span of a few days, and I've managed to not win at anything in weeks. Steve, on the other hand, keeps kicking everybody's ass at everything we play. I think he's cheating.

We played Twilight on thursday. It was supposed to be a fairly standard crew, myself, steve, Cid, Kyle, Brian, and we were going to teach Srol how to play. That part went according to play, but Kyle and Brian both bailed, so it was a 4 player game. Fortunately I really like the 4 player version of the game because it uses all the strategy cards in every round. Although I like to get a card with a stack of bonus tokens on it, it makes the game go a lot better when every strategy gets used.

But I digress. I wound up being the humans, who are a war race that's not a war race. They aren't very good at anything, really, but they can put free ground units on any planet by spending a strategy allocation. If I had done that at one crucial moment in the game I might have won, but I didn't. Lousy humans.

Steve and I quickly allied, loosely, an alliance that was helped by the fact there was an asteroid field between our home systems. I had a lot of useless planets nearby, he had a lot of good planets, and Srol had a bunch of wormholes. He placed them both, so he obviously had a plan. We kinda screwed him by passing the "close the wormholes" law, but he did really well without them. In that he didn't get destroyed by the might of Steve's armada.

Steve wound up with the technology race, and he made very good use of them. I think he had every technology possible, except for maybe one or two of the really advanced ones. I don't think there was any way to stop him, now that I think about it, which makes me feel slightly better about losing the way I did.

I'm going to gloss over a lot of the game, but essentially Steve and I weren't meant to be allies and we kept chipping away at each other. Srol kept calling diplomacy on Cid and then not doing much else, so all the fighting was on our side of the galaxy. I managed to fend off his biggest fleet, so that was an accomplishment. And by "fend ff" I mean "got destroyed by him in one turn and then I mopped up his survivors with my next turn".

Even though we were fighting constantly, we still managed to work together. We both had to hold Mecatol Rex (the centre of the galaxy) for our secret objectives, and we had a gentleman's agreement. He'd complete his and then vacate, letting me complete mine. I kinda screwed that plan up by playing a Signal Jamming action card on him (as revenge for his attack on me in the previous round, if I remember correctly). Signal Jamming activates a system, which basically shuts down a system so nothing can move in or out of it, and any space docks inside the system aren't allowed to build anything. I thought it was such a clever move, making him wait a full round to complete his objective. Turns out he had the action card that let him move ground troops from any planet to another, and he didn't hesitate to use it. Of course, with his objective complete and the system activated, he couldn't leave, so I just wound up screwing myself.

The next round he called diplomacy on me and then took over two of my empty planets, thus denying me the sweet 2 point public objective, while taking it for himself. Because of the diplomacy, I couldn't activate the system because he had units in it, and he could activate it because I didn't have units in it. If I had used my free ground troop ability the turn before, he wouldn't have been able to do it, and I'm still kicking myself about it.

So, Steve won Twilight, again, and I pouted and sulked and yelled at him, and then flipped the table and punched his cat.

Well, I yelled at him at any rate. Imagine me doing the rest if you want to think I'm a sore loser. Imagine me doing that and then burning his house down if you want to think I'm a lunatic. And now I've regressed too far into the realm of fantasy.

Following Twilight, we played some Munchkin. Specifically, Munchkin-Fu, the kung fu-themed version. It was myself, Steve, Cathy, and Cid for the game, and Cid and I had never played before. Munchkin is too awesome to describe, but I can summarize it. It's essentially a tabletop role-playing game without the role playing. You fight monsters and get treasure, and whoever gets the most powerful the fastest wins. Since it was my first time playing, it took me some time to figure out what I could and couldn't do, and it turned out I could do pretty much anything.

Any game with a card that lets you cheat is a good game. Seriously, the card is titled "Cheat" and it lets you use an item that you ordinarily couldn't use. Although the situation never came up, I played it on a weapon that only males could use, just in case I fell into a trap that would turn me into a woman. Cathy got one of those, but she didn't have any female-specific items so it didn't matter much.

I got a dual-class card right at the beginning, and I ended the game as a level 4 Ninja-Monk. I wanted to be a Yakuza-Monk, but I got a bunch of ninja-specific items from a monster, so I switched so I could use them.

Anyway, Steve won Munchkin as well. He was a Samurai, and they get an extra level if they kill a monster alone. He got a monster that gave 2 levels if you beat it, and then switched to Yakuza so he could discard some of the cards in his hand to pick up the last monster in the stack, then switched back to Samurai and fought it again. That's 6 levels in 2 turns. The game is a race to 10, so the rest of us never had a chance.

During the Twilight game, Cid mentioned he'd started playing Guild Wars again, and he was quite amused by the message I had left before leaving the guild. I essentially said "Not that anyone will ever read this, but I'm leaving". Two months later (maybe 3, I forget when I left), someone did read it. Hooray.

Someday we'll have to get together and finally get Srol through Thunderhead Keep. I just got my necromancer there the other day, so whenever he's ready, I'll be ready. I have him on my friends list, but I never see him online. I need to get Cid there too, so if either of you read this, add Scott The Green to your lists if you haven't already.

I guess that goes for any other Guild wars players who read this. The more the merrier!

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Stop slacking!

Okay, here we are a week later. Semester's over and I've had two full days of sitting around doing absolutely nothing. My promise to start blogging regularly again hasn't been forgotten, it just needs a little jump start.

A bit earlier in the year, I talked to the Disabilities people to see if they could pay for speech therapy. They told me that all that money comes from OSAP, so I'd have to qualify for it before they could do anything. No problem, I thought, I'll apply when the semester's over.

I just finished trying to get in to the OSAP site, and it was the most frustrating thing I've ever experienced. In order to log in, I need to give them either an OSAP number or my Social Insurance Number and a password. Since I've never applied for OSAP before, I clicked the New User link and followed the directions.

SIN, password, repeat password, set up two questions for future password recovery. Easy enough, right?

Apparently I've already applied for OSAP, because no matter what I put in the system rejects me. It says my password is already on file and that I'm not a new user and I need to log in with my old password. A password I don't have, because I've never applied for OSAP.

I can find out my password by answering the two questions, but because I've never applied for OSAP, I don't have questions. I can set up some questions by logging in with my SIN and password, the password I don't have because I've never applied for OSAP.

I checked the FAQ, and they don't mention anything about this conundrum. I checked their feedback form, but it's only about customer service. I checked their tech support, but it's only for technical problems with the site. There's no way to use the site to find out what's going on in my situation.

I looked at the paper version, and it's 20 pages. There are questions there about stuff I've never even heard of, and quite frankly it scares me.

Guess I'll have to go in to school and talk to financial aid. I'll no doubt just get rejected by OSAP because I don't need the money. I only need to qualify so the school can help me speak better. Is that so much to ask?

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Deep breath

Turbulent waters. Waves roll and crash, surf spraying off them. Rough black seas rage against an indifferent night.

A hint of motion under the surface. A hand breaches the water, clutching for something to hold on to, clinging to one last hope.

It finds a grip.


I'm not sure what kind of style that is, but it's official, I'm finished with assignments for this semester. I realize the blog had begun to turn into the "Scotty complains about how much work he has to do" blog, but now I have no work to do. Just a test tomorrow and an exam on Monday, and then I'm free until January 2.

I know, the semester starts on quite possibly the worst day possible. I guess Algonquin doesn't allow for 2-day hangovers. I have no idea if I'll be drinking for the new year or not, but it would be nice to welcome 2006 with some friends and stout ales. Or whatever's available.

So, Twilight Imperium tomorrow. I've gone a few games without getting anywhere close to winning, and I'm going to have to remedy that. I keep getting stuck with war races, and they don't suit my play style at all. I'm not aggressive enough to keep attacking people; I need a slower pace where I can build up my influence and make a few partnerships.

Sure it's slower than other people might like, but everybody always seems to be afraid of me for some reason.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Well that's a reflief

OC Transpo has settled its labour action. The union was threatening to strike starting tomorrow if they didn't reach an agreement today, and they reached one. This a huge relief to me because I depend on the bus to get to and from school, and I really wasn't looking forward to walking an hour each way if the deal wasn't reached. I can't afford to take cabs, so the old feet would have been my only option.

Also on the relief front, I've started making headway on my proposal. I should really be writing it and not this, but I wanted to make sure that everybody who reads this knows the buses will still be running tomorrow.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

One down

I went out and bagged me a content specification template. The only assignment I had that had a concrete dealine attached to it, and it's now a trophy hanging on my wall. Or a file on my hard drive, but that sort of destroys the hunting metaphor I was running with there.

Anyway, that just leaves the proposal and the research paper, and I'm going to start one of them after grocery shopping. I have some momentum now, now I should be able to get moving. Anybody who points out that one has to be moving to have momentum will be ignored.

Bowling last night was a lot of fun. The alley we went to only had 5 pin, so we made do with the smaller balls. We played two games, and I bowled 148 in the first and 151 in the second. A perfect game of 5 pin is 450 points, apparently, so I guess I still did pretty well. I came in 2nd on my team both games, and lost to a different person each time. Go me.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Here we go

Next week is the big one. Everything is due, and very little of it has been started. I'm just trying to settle into a comfortable zone, and then all I'll have to do is sit back and wait for the words to start flowing.

It will happen. It has to happen.

Going bowling tomorrow evening. I haven't bowled in a while, so it'll definitely be interesting. I'm predicting at least 3 perfect games, maybe 4 if we decide to stay that long.