Archive for the ‘amusement’ Category.

A better form of Dungeon Crawl!

Most of my friends know that I really like the roguelike game Linley’s Dungeon Crawl and play it often (it’s similar to NetHack and Angband, if you’re familiar with those). In it, you wander around an (ASCII art) dungeon fighting monsters and getting equipment and treasures. The object of the game is to get the fabled Orb of Zot, which is in the Realm of Zot. You can get there from the dungeon by opening the Portal of Zot using three Runes of Zot (see, there’s a theme here…). It has a wonderfully detailed play structure, and provides hours of entertainment.

The only problem, in my opinion, is that it’s impossibly hard: not only have I never won in my 6 years of playing, but I’ve never gotten a single Rune. There are also a few bugs (most notably, it seems to lock up if you’re controlling your teleport destination). I had thought that development stopped in 2003, but it turns out I was wrong: Linley and his friends stopped developing, but there is a branch called Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup that continues on. It has some really nice extra stuff added in. For instance, if there are no monsters around, you automatically pick up gold, food, potions, and certain other objects that you almost certainly want to get. This turns off if you can see a monster. The targeting for ranged weapons/spells is much more automatic. It now has a path planning algorithm in it so that you can walk to any location in the level (and it automatically stops if you encounter a monster along the way). The morgue files (summaries of your character after you die) are much more detailed. Event messages, stats screens, and your inventory are more detailed. It’s still impossibly hard, but DCSS makes some of the basic mechanics much simpler. This is great!

If you’re interested in a fun, easy-to-learn game that offers literally unlimited play, give DCSS a try.

Dear the rest of the world,

I apologise for how ignorant many Americans are about the world in which they continually meddle. Some of us actually know the answers to these questions, and we’re trying to bring the rest of the country up to speed. I hope Americans will eventually know the answers to these and other similar questions, and that we can someday start making the world better instead of worse.

My favourite part is how he introduces himself as the Prime Minister of Australia and then everyone labels Australia as a terrorist country to invade. I can’t stand how the woman at 5:47 doesn’t realize that calling Arabs “diaper head” might be offensive. and my least favourite part is how the guy at 8:54 says he doesn’t think Kyrgyzstan is a threat, but would support an invasion anyway. It’s exasperating how stupid people can be!

Quick, entertaining update, and a question

First, I want to point you all to an excellent JibJab song about the farce we call the news these days. Their stuff is so great. Also, here’s a quick illustration of Bush’s approval ratings (edit: note that the bottom of the graph is at 20%, which is a bit deceiving). Also, Senator Joseph Biden has an excellent speech about Iraq and the lack of an exit strategy. These last two were found through StumbleUpon, which I mentioned recently.

Finally, I have a question that shouldn’t be too hard to answer: a lot of people seem to be passionately against Hillary Clinton. They don’t want her to be president, they don’t even want her to be a senator. I got to see a video feed of when she was interviewed at Google, and she seemed like a pretty normal politician (she sidestepped many of the questions, but no more than any other politician I’ve seen). Other than that and the fact that she’s married to Bill Clinton (about whom I know a little), I know nothing about her. Why are so many people opposed to her? Is it just because her husband had an affair? Is it because she has some crazy beliefs that I’m unaware of? What’s going on?

Random stuff

Εὕρηκα! I have found it: final and conclusive proof that I am not the biggest nerd in the world!

This past weekend, Emily surprised me by coming down to visit. We went to the 3rd Street Promenade and had sushi (her first time eating real sushi). We also went to Venice beach and watched this dude catch a flounder. We tried to go see Grauman’s Chinese Theater, but they were opening The Fountain, and we couldn’t get through the throngs of Hugh Jackman fans. So instead, we drove up into the foothills and found some excellent views of the city. I introduced her to Jeeves and Wooster and Penn & Teller’s Bullshit. A good time was had by all.

I’ve been making some really stupid mistakes at work. Hopefully I can put a stop to them and get back to doing stuff correctly.

and I know I need to post news soon…

Joining the ranks of Chuck Norris and Brian Boitano…

…is Bruce Schneier, the world-renowned security guru. From the website, a list of my favorites →

A couple other things

First off, quite possibly the first science fiction movie was Le voyage dans la lune, a silent film made in 1902 based off stories by H.G. Wells and Jules Verne (the French narration can be found here). It has some surprisingly good special effects, and is well worth the 14 minutes it takes to watch.

Also, it appears that Microsoft is actually going to require that all kernel-space drivers be certified in Windows Vista, which I think is going to be fantastic. They are permanently moving graphics stuff into user space, so I don’t anticipate many drivers needing certification. I expect that this will make the Windows kernel much more stable and secure, to the point that the BSoD might be a thing of the past in a few years. The Slashdotters are naturally wanking about OSS issues, but I think this is actually a pretty great change. The worrying part is that they could very well put copyright enforcement stuff in there, which no one would be able to change, even for legitimate reasons. Yes, that would be a poor design decision from a stability/security standpoint, but Microsoft hasn’t had the greatest record with that stuff in the past. Here’s hoping that the execution goes as well as the planning!

Protected: More info about my job

This content is password protected. To view it please enter your password below:

Fun on Google Video

I’ve never really thought impressions were that funny, but Frank Caliendo (as seen in this movie) is absolutely fantastic.

Also, remember the Portal trailer I posted recently? I’ve now played its precursor, Narbacular Drop. It’s the same game idea, but with crappier graphics and a slightly buggy engine. You can even create your own levels! There are some people out there who have made incredibly complex levels, which are pretty cool.

A Fun Post for a change

First off, I am seriously considering switching OSes: the world file on my Gentoo system (kernel version 2.6.17-r4) seems to have been destroyed, and I’m having a lot of trouble rebuilding it and keeping everything working. I’d like a system that is less work to maintain. I’d been trying to choose between the different flavors of BSD when Mac showed me Xubuntu (a variation of Ubuntu that uses the XFCE desktop environment), and that definitely has possibilities, too. I’ve got a bunch of questions I want to have answered before I switch, though. Who among you has administered an Ubuntu system?

I have found a beautiful new webcomic, called XKCD. I suspect computer scientists will appreciate it more than others, but it has some insightful, witty concepts in it (it discusses computer science, love, happiness, “your mom” jokes, and much more, all with a postmodernism twist), and smatterings of beautiful abstract art (sandwiched between the stick figure drawings of which most of the comic is made up). Definitely worth browsing the ~150 comics in the archives (though the current strip is kinda lame). Fun strips can be found here, here, and here.

Several weeks ago, Michael showed me a trailer for a game called Portal, which seems to be a takeoff of Halflife (it will be released with the next Halflife game). It’s a puzzle game with a really cool premise.

Since this was a Wednesday, I naturally spent the evening drinking. A bunch of Googlers went to Ye Olde King’s Head Bar (about 5 blocks from work), and hung out for about 4 hours. A group of about 8 of us formed a team to compete in the weekly trivia challenge. We took 7th place out of 10, though we could have taken 5th if we hadn’t gone for broke in the final round. It was a pretty fun evening.

If you are so inclined, go take a look at DownsizeDC, which is trying to introduce the Read The Bills Act into Congress. The basic idea is that nearly all bills are passed into law without more than a handful of lawmakers actually reading them. An excellent example of this is in 1971 when the Texas Legislature unanimously passed a bill praising the Boston Strangler (a member of the house had introduced it to demonstrate that his peers pass bills without reading them). The Read The Bills Act would require all congresspeople to either read or listen to the entire text of a bill before voting on it. This will hopefully stop more pet projects, controversial measures, and unpopular riders from being unknowingly passed. It would also limit the amount of legislature that could be created, hopefully leading to smaller government. We’ll see. If you think this would be a good idea, please write/call your congresspeople!

Finally, in The Economist recently I read an article about Kinky Friedman, who is running for Texas Governor. He seems to be running on a platform which notes that everyone is fed up with both Democrats and Republicans, and want someone new (this is pretty much why Jesse Ventura and Arnold Schwarzenegger were elected). He seems to want to curb bureaucratic government spending while giving more money to teachers, firefighters, and other people who are actually doing useful and underappreciated things. I’m not sure he has the wherewithall or policital know-how to actually pull this off, but it would certainly be interesting if he was elected.

Scrabble n’ such

Whee! Remember over the summer when I was so excited that I got my first 7-letter word? Well, in the past couple weeks, I have played two more games, and gotten two more words! Sara and I were playing, and Kenny and Rami were watching (I have no idea what they were doing in my room, but it was cool to hang out with them anyway). The 2nd turn of the game (that’s right – the second turn!), I built off of Sara’s “HONEY” to get a triple-word score:


That netted me a good 80 points. Weirdly enough, we tied at the end — 275 each. This was a bit humbling, because this was the first time I’d gotten a 7-letter word on her, and it was also the first time I didn’t beat her. hm… I guess part of it was that I didn’t get any of the high-scoring letters (she got the Q, Z, X, and J), but part of it was that I definitely didn’t box her in enough. She managed to put the X on a triple word, and put QUIZ on a double word. All in all, though, ’twas a good game.

Then, tonight, Robert, Kenny, Rachel and I played Scrabble. I had had a slight lead all evening, and then, just as we ran out of letters to draw, I pulled the perfect ending move. Earlier that game, I had placed BADE just above the bottom center triple word score, so that no one could possibly get it (JADED was right above it). However, I then managed to play BULLPEN like this:


Landing the B on a triple word score and ending the game in one fell swoop! 92 points that turn. We played that everyone else got one extra turn to try to get rid of letters, so Robert got rid of his Z, and Kenny even managed to run out of letters as well (though he only had 3 or 4 letters in his hand). My final score – 215. Kenny came in 2nd with 124, so I’m feeling pretty good about the game.

Alex stopped in to visit, which was nice. She seems to be doing well, and is certainly visiting much more this year than last. The two of us, Mac, Elisa, Kenny, and Amanda watched The Professional, which we all missed at FNMG this evening. It was… interesting. Certainly a very violent movie, but at the same time, it was rather emotional. I’m not sure I’d recommend it. And there were some really creepy parts, as when Natalie Portman (who was about 12 when this movie was made) tells Jean Reno (who is in his 30’s) that she loves him. Not a daughter-father love, but a have-sex-and-get-married love. ew… At the same time, I’d be interested in finding out what other directors have watched this, because some of the same sort of imagery shows up in things like Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels (hit-man raises a child, takes the child to kill people, yet makes sure the child doesn’t swear, smoke, or be rude), the new Ocean’s Eleven (the SWAT scenes), and in Road To Perdition (I won’t say anything about this, because I don’t want to give away the end to either movie). One thing I didn’t know before this evening that the director (who also played the bad guy) also directed the Fifth Element (where he again played the bad guy) and Nikita (don’t recall if he played the bad guy or not). So… yeah. Interesting movie, all in all.

Yesterday, I finally got DMA turned back on for my hard drive (I’m using ReiserFS for my main partition). Huzzah! I can now watch more episodes of Bullshit (Amanda, thanks for giving me new episodes), and my music doesn’t sound as crappy any more! At this point, my computer is pretty much back to where I left off, except for the 2nd monitor, which I can’t get to work for the life of me. It does just fine at 640×480 resolution, but that’s less than 1/4 of the resolution I should be getting (I know it works at 1024×760 at 60Hz). Damn it! Well, I’ll get it eventually.

In the meantime, it’s now a touch past 3:00 in the morning, so I’m going to bed.