Sunday, 9 October 2016

Cost-Conscious CPUs, CGI Cosplay and Creepy Coincidence

The word of the week is discord.

Oct 3 – Books, Not Reading

Okay, okay: I'm guilty.

At last count, I have over 50 books in my apartment that I purchased over the last two years that I haven't read yet, and that's not even counting the ones on my Kindle. Between one thing and another, I've been very lax in my reading habits.

I find this distressing, in some ways.

Normally, I read around one book a week, which only takes me an hour or so each night as I read before bed. I still keep up the habit of reading to help me fall asleep, but now I do it exclusively on my Kindle because I don't need to have a light on, which always makes falling asleep more difficult to do.

There is a word for people like me:

You have to love the Japanese, in that they have words for many things that Westerners know about but haven't codified in the language so simply. To be able to express such concepts in concise terms is a real communication triumph in any language.

I wonder if there's a word for people who buy video games, but don't play them?

Oct 4 – Back to the 80's

I love the power of animation... 

Sometimes, the only way to really recapture the spirit of some experience is through the magic of animation. Unlike the limited lens of a camera( even with modern CGI )animation can create any world, any time and any place, exactly as imagined by the mind's eye of the animator.

Meaning that if you wanted to recapture what it felt like to be back in the 1980s, you could do something like this:

Also from the 1980s: Hurricane Mumm-Ra?

Last month, I picked up the DVD set of the first season of Thundercats, an animated TV show from the 1980s. In that show, the main antagonist was Mumm-Ra, an undead sorcerer bent on destroying the titular Thundercats at all costs, as he saw them as a threat to his power. So is it weird that Mumm-Ra somehow appeared in the news this week?

This week, hurricane Matthew developed into a major storm and eerily, the weather map picture looks like a red-eyed skull, closely matching the appearance of Mumm-Ra in some weird cosmic coincidence:

Creepy Coincidence!
Yeah... the 80's resurface in the weirdest ways, sometimes!

Oct 5 – Cosplay vs Reality?

I had to look twice when I saw the picture below...

Honestly, I thought this was a CGI rendering and not( as it turns out )a real-life person, albeit one made up as part of an incredible cosplay!

A little background: the character depicted is Mavis from Hotel Transylvania, a CGI animated family movie that came out in 2012. She's the daughter of Dracula, and as you can see from the picture on the left, the cosplayer completely nailed the character's appearance:


Obviously, it doesn't hurt if your facial structure or general build is similar to the character in the first place, and in this cosplayer's case the resemblance was strongly there to begin with. All the same, it takes talent and dedication to be able to so perfectly capture the essence of a character visually, and it's all the more impressive to do so for something that exists only in CGI.

Oct 6 –  Baffled Balance

One side gets better, one side gets worse...

This week, my left leg seems to be healing nicely, supporting my weight for the most part though the tendon still feels tight underneath the foot, so I'm not pushing things.

However, the weeks I'd spent resting with my legs up has resulted in injury to my right leg, as I have likely strained my inner adductor muscle - I suspect because my right leg was laid over to the side for too long each day. I had no idea that this could happen, and it's been a painful discovery to make, leaving me to stagger around this week with a cane on my right side to try and put as little weight on my right leg as possible. Even so, it's been hard to fall asleep at night with the discomfort, and sitting involves a lot of careful shifting every few minutes.

I'm just going to have to keep plugging along, doing my best to pay attention to what I'm doing every minute of the day so that I'm not inadvertently hurting myself along my path to a full recovery. My goal of walking to work soon is going to have to wait a little longer, so that I can give my adductor muscles on the right side more time to rest and reconstitute themselves after my unknowing injury of them.

It's frustrating, but it's just one more challenge, albeit one that has been keeping me up at night and yet again literally hobbling my ability to get things done - it's really sapping my energy to walk around with my weight shifted, and my lack of exercise lately is just compounding the problem...

Oct 7 – Victory in Space!

It's been far too long... since I've played a game of Eclipse!

But that changed today, as I went over to my friend Chris's place for a 3-player game, starting around dinnertime. Setup took about half an hour and once we got used to the rules again( we haven't played since early summer, and before that it was December 2015 )we made excellent progress.

In essence, we each developed our Empires along certain strategies known only to us, eyeing each other's territory warily though covetously. I decided early on to go with a two-pronged strategy of developing my warship technology and planning ahead for an endgame strategy that involved buying a series of space-based monoliths that would give me a massive boost in vital Victory Points at the end of the game( NB: it was my girlfriend's strategy I borrowed! ).

Yep, I'm the Red dudes...

Turns out, my strategies worked, and I was victorious with a score of 45 VP vs a tied 29 VP for each of my valiant foes.

What I really like about this game is that it has potential for up to eight players to enjoy a full game in an evening, as long as no dillydallying takes place - our observed times shows that it takes about an hour to play per person, but that time can be likely be greatly improved if all the players are even passingly familiar with the rules.

I'm eager to have more games of Eclipse this fall season, as the cooler weather lends itself to gaming indoors. I just wish I had both the space and the money to invest in a full-size gaming table which would be a dream to play many different kinds of games on...

Ah well. First I have to get a decent-sized place to put it in, then the table will follow...

Oct 8 – Thermal Limits

Money spent well doesn't have to get expensive.

Yesterday, I completed the second of two upgrades to my computer. The first one( several weeks ago )was the addition of a second video card to my system to help speed up gameplay. This added a nice boost to my games, but it was limited by the underpowered processor that I've had in the system for the last four years.

Yesterday, I took my system into a local store to have the new AMD CPU chip I purchased on eBay a month ago( and which arrived in the mail this week )installed. Normally I would do it myself, but my groin pains won't let me lift things like heavy computers, nor get down on the carpeted floor... which isn't a recommended way to replace your CPU safely, in any case.

The 'new' CPU( an AMD PhenomII x6 1090T, for those who care )was originally released in April of 2010 and cost close to $400 in today's money( I paid only $100 )which was a real deal at the time for its features, including the ability to overclock it easily.

Unfortunately, a few tests today show that my current system set up simply won't be able to stay cool enough to safely overclock the processor by any significant margin. As I don't want to fry the CPU in its own juices, so to speak, I'll have to wait until the new year when I can afford to get a better motherboard and transfer things over to a new case that I've had hanging around for a while that should do a better job of cooling things down. Given the power of the new CPU, it heats up far more quickly and reaches higher temperatures than my old AMD 905e processor, which was designed to run cool and quiet, but wasn't powerful.

My overall plan is to keep the system running for at least another two years, until I can get a new system using the new AMD Zen CPUs and the just-released RX-480 line of GPU video cards, both of which together promised to deliver incredible value for the money.

What's really nice is that by the time I can afford them, prices should have dropped by at least 30% from their release dates - that's the plan, anyway.

Oct 9 – Strengthening Thoughts

It's hard not to feel like a loser these days, at least for me.

One usually measure success by accomplishments, and by my own measure, I haven't accomplished much in the last year: mainly, I feel like I've been treading water. But this is just my opinion, though admittedly I do pay closer attention to what I feel these days.

These latest physical setbacks haven't helped me much, especially as they've been dragging on now for 2 months and more seem to keep cropping up. It's not like I'm getting up each day and wondering what's going to go wrong, nope: I just keep getting blindsided by things I never saw coming in any way and every one of them keeps adding time the clock between me and success.

Four years ago, I finished writing the first draft of my first novel, and to date I've managed to get two more drafts completed as well as halfway through asecond book. Looking at things that way, I've managed to do something major each year since the first words were put to page, but I look back and think of all the time lost that might have been spent writing instead of dealing with life's many issues.

This is why I have to let the negativity go, and just press on.

I have a lot left to do, but I've come so far and I have a much better idea now where I'm going, despite all the distractions( major and minor )that keep cropping up along the way.

I'll get there, under my own power. The only question is how fast I'll be going once I arrive...

Well, I listed my TurboGrafx system on eBay tonight, so here's hoping somebody bites what I think I've listed as tempting bait - it would make the rest of 2016 much easier to that fish get sold. Not to mention making me much happier and banishing the current physical aches with a wash of good feelings for a more secure short-term future.