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Believe·in·Robots


Tomodachi Hetero-normative Collection


Let’s talk about Tomodachi Life Collection, The game has largely been referred to as a life sim in the west, and that is not an entirely inaccurate description but it is remarkably different in a number of ways. The game features Miis (avatars) of the player and the player’s friends and acquaintances from the console’s network features. The game in some capacity assigns semi autonomous personas to these avatars. The game play mostly revolves around the user thrusting their character into scenes and mini-games, while watching their Mii interact with random avatars in unexpected and humorous ways. The lack of control over one’s avatar is a central part of the game as the unexpected and often hilarious emergent behavior of the Miis is the core game.

The game has had multiple releases in Japan and western commentators were a bit interested last year, when Nintendo seemingly patched a bug that occurred when importing one’s save game from the older DS game into the newer 3DS release. The bug prevented the user from saving their game after the import, but also seemingly had some chance of accidentally creating same-sex relationships in the game. (Or at least this is what Nintendo told one game journalist about five weeks back.)

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Posted by trashHeap on Wed, 21 May 2014

Brendan Eich, Mozilla and the Paradox of Tolerance

Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich was the center of a lot of controversy shortly after his promotion to the position of CEO.

Brendan Eich had donated to Prop 8 back in 2008 which made political active LGBTQ folks and allies within and without Mozilla uncomfortable. Wide spread criticism and boycotts followed. Developers of Firefox OS applications even pulled their apps.

Brendan Eich was slow to comment and when he did the damage control was honestly pretty terrible. At one point seeming to imply that championing marriage equality might hurt Mozilla’s chances at expanding into Indonesia with Firefox OS.

The spectacle ended with Eich’s stepping down.

The whole state of affairs left me feeling very uneasy. For the first time in my memory two causes I champion were in seemingly direct conflict. The open web v marriage equality. Part of my uneasiness int this conflict was derived from the fact that the open web itself can’t really take to many serious punches. It is facing a number of threats and Mozilla is one of the few last defenders still standing (former open web allies like Google have not looked like terribly good allies as of late.)

Mozilla itself is also facing an existential crisis of its own. Firefox has finally slipped below Chrome in popularity and of the four major desktop browser vendors in play (Internet Explorer by Microsoft, Chrome by Google, Firefox by Mozilla, Safari by Apple) three of them have essential cornered the mobile browsing market through the mobile ecosystems they control. Its becoming more apparent with every passing day being a successful browser means having a mobile ecosystem. Firefox OS is Mozilla’s attempt to safe guard their future in that vein, but it is by no means a sure thing.

I whole heartily endorsed the criticisms and the boycotts of Mozilla but privately felt uneasy about joining along in promoting a boycott of Firefox itself and privately winced when OK Cupid started pleading with its users in mass to switch to proprietary browsers.

When Eich stepped down I had a sigh of relief.

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Posted by trashHeap on Sat, 26 Apr 2014

Exult for the GCW Zero

Good Old Games had the whole Ultima VII Collection on sale for the holidays dirt cheap this past week. I ended up picking it up with an eye towards getting it running Exult on the GCW-Zero (Exult being a free software implementation of the game engine, and the GCW-Zero being a handheld shipping an almost entirely free software stack. )

I had some problems wrangling the libraries in the GCW SDK. However, with a minimum of trouble I was able to get it running. The biggest problem was getting a configuration file together for the GCW’s resolution, as Exult tends not to expect it’s host environment’s resolution to come close to the original. It fought me a little bit to turn off the scalers.

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Posted by trashHeap on Thu, 19 Dec 2013

On the State of Instant Messaging.

Instant messaging is in a bizarrely fractured state right now and what strikes me as odd about it, is that on the whole people are happy with it.

The Past

I started being active on the Internet in a serious capacity around ‘96 or ‘97, at the time the vast majority of folks I encountered were on ICQ or AOL Instant Messenger. These protocols were by and large closed and proprietary (That is somewhat of an over simplification of AIM’s history considering the nature of the OSCAR vs TOC protocols, but that can be tabled for our purposes.) Half my friends were on one, half my friends were on the other.

Needless to say toggling back and forth between both clients was a bit of a nuisance, when Yahoo Messenger arrived on the scene in ‘98 and MSN Messenger arrived in ‘99 I merrily ignored their existence not wanting more balls to juggle.

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Posted by trashHeap on Fri, 22 Nov 2013

YouTube Subscriptions Sans a Google Account

One of the toughest things to nail when thinking about deleting my google account was what to do about my YouTube subscriptions. I may have some beef with with google, but YouTube is frankly a damn fine product.

One does not need an account to view YouTube videos, but one is left to one’s own devices for finding out if or when any particular channel updates.

Luckily the Internet has a prescribed mechanism for subscribing to and updating feeds with information in them via RSS. It also just so happens that Google internally uses RSS feeds for all Youtube channels. They do not advertise what these RSS feeds are, typically. They do however, follow predictable patterns.

I am likely not the first person to do this, but largely because I didn’t want to do it by hand (and partly because I thought it would be a good exercise) I wrote a small command line utility to parse URLs from YouTube and output RSS feeds. It can operate in an optional batch mode reading URLs from a text file, and outputting a OPML file for a RSS reader.

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Posted by trashHeap on Mon, 4 Nov 2013