Monthly Archives: August 2010

iTunes woes

Oh man, this is terrible.  iTunes for windows truncates filenames and folder names to 40 characters, but iTunes for OSX doesn’t.  Which means when I try to sync everything, any files or folders that get truncated in windows, will have conflicting versions, and then all hell will end up breaking lose.

There’s multiple routes I can go through here (note that the HP laptop is out of the picture for at least this quarter):

1) use the desktop as master copy, only sync the macbook via a full manual rewrite sync, which works fine.  Pro of this is that it’s extremely safe, and also don’t have to deal with sync shenanigans.  Con is that I can’t add anything using the macbook (not so bad), and the macbook ends up being out of date a lot (kind of bad) and syncing becomes a real pain.  Side effect pro is that the music library will end up getting backed up onto the external more often

2) use the desktop as a master copy, sync the macbook but have the macbook use the truncated names by setting itunes on the macbook to manage file locations manually.  this lets me keep the macbook synced without a complete rewrite (i only have to rewrite the library file, which is what i’m used to), though it means I shouldn’t ever add or change anything on the macbook.  This could also work vice-versa too (using the macbook as a master copy), but it can’t go both ways, because that would mean doing #4.

3) don’t even store music on the macbook and just access the desktop remotely.  This could actually be an option, because the macbook isn’t permanent anyways, plus the desktop should always be on, plus stanford always has wifi, plus the macbook doesn’t have much HD space anyways.  Con is that if I have no wifi I have no music (except chiptunes).

4) use manual folders for everything.  unacceptable since it makes adding music harder, and the library is already organized according to itunes’ mess anyways.

5) find a goddarn different program to use.  not going to happen because i’d need to find something that’s fully-featured, is cross-platform with win and osx, lets me sync in an easy way, and can work with my ipod mini as well as future ipod touch.  Don’t “foobar!” me because that’s not for osx.

I guess I’ll try #2 and see if I run into any snags.  I guess if #2 ends up working then it’s not actually that bad of a problem.

I am the number one reader of my own blog.  So not only have I written more blog entries than all of you people *points*, but I’ve read more as well (not to mention the x gajillion blogs I check on a regular basis, which even if you combined all of them don’t manage to update more frequently than me xD).  Okay, okay, maybe I’m exaggerating a bit here.  But it makes me smile a bit to know that my own writings are still really interesting to go through, a year later.  I’ve just read through perhaps a good 3 months of my life…

A possible project: typing letters to undisclosed recipients, and typing out wishes and dreams.  Perhaps this could be a step towards improving myself, ever so slightly.  I was just a little bit tempted to slap the “everyday” word here, but I thought better of it.

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Dear —,

As time passes I find myself growing ever so slightly more anxious.  I feel as if I’m not building up courage, but instead I’m attempting to ride for a fall.  To what degree that fall will happen, I do not know, but I think it is inevitable that it happens, even if it’s unnoticeable.  There are a number of things that I fear, but one painful one is that I might return to that unhealthy state that I was in so, so long ago.  It didn’t used to be a fear, but I don’t know anymore.  After all, I can only hold out for a finite amount of time–and after a while I will inevitably start to break down out of frustration.  Actually, that process has already slowly started to happen.  What will happen to me?  I don’t know.  I’m scared…

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My wish…

I wish I could be part of that world.  Yes, with all of the pains and hassles of it too.  Of course, it wouldn’t be a magical solution to my problems, but…I wish I could be part of that world.

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Hm, on second thought, there’s no way I can be as frank as I need to be in this blog, unfortunately.  Scratch this idea for now.  One might think that I could make a private blog that’s only for myself and myself alone, but somehow I find myself rejecting that idea.  Perhaps I need to start writing in my diary again…

OSX wins…this time.

Though it’s not actually “winning”, it’s just standing its ground.

This weekend I was planning on doing a bootcamp partition install of win7 on the macbook, but david helped me realize that it wouldn’t be worth the trouble at all since the only thing it would let me do is run FL Studio (probably not up to par, and having to deal with a boatload of troubles), and some other stuff (touhou games, which already run on osx anyways o_o;), and have my familiar windows UI back.  So it’s really not worth it.

I just managed to get my chrome script running on the macbook, and it seems to work just fine, opening up all my tabs in rapid succession.  yay…

I would still feel a little…distaste at having to carry around this thing in public, but I’ve always got my faithful desktop around after all.  And besides, now I can defend both Mac from the Mac-haters -and- windows from the windows-haters!

Oh, how the Swarm has fallen

[offtopic]still feeling disappointed at not having partaken in cosplay; apparently there was a meetup at valley faire too; eff…well even if i had known about it that wouldn’t have changed anything anyways because i would have been at work.  whatever.  blahblahblah.  I’ll make up for it, promise.

There are various reasons keeping me from purchasing a copy of SC2.  One of them is that I don’t really find myself buying games nowadays.  I rarely pick up new games period, and if I do it’s usually some weird cult game like IWBTFG or TGM or Touhou that doesn’t require me to pay.

One of the reasons is that comparing my experience (though somewhat limited) with the beta to my experience with BW, I can most definitely say BW was more fun.  Even now when I think of BW, I get this certain sort of -excitement-.  When I =first= started playing SC2 Beta I also had that kind of excitement.  But now that nothing’s new anymore, it’s all gone.  Well, I guess it’s to be expected–BW has had a long time to mature well, after all.

But probably the primary reason why I’m reluctant to get SC2 is that my race is broken.

Yes, I’m a Zerg player through and through.  Even in my naive SC days back when the game first came out (my god, how long ago was THAT?), I liked the Zerg.  Nothing pleased me more than being able to mass my lings and hydras and send them on glorious unstoppable rampages.  Yes…the Zerg were lovely.  The Hydras were my favorite unit (though they would later be replaced by the Zergling), and no other race really had any unit that was nearly as cool.  Protoss?  Well Zealots were cool, but dragoons were ugly and clumsy, high templar were spellcasters (ew), archons were too expensive, reavers too slow, and let’s not even mention those scouts *snicker*.  Terrans had their M&M(&F) which was neat, but somehow Hydras were just more fun.  And siege tanks had serious mobility issues; goliaths were only good against air, and vultures were just weak.  But Hydras–you could use them against ANYTHING, and that satisfying green spurt as they shot their (invisible) grooved spines was just ever-so-satisfying when combined with that “pwek!” sound.

And then around the college-day “resurgence” of SC, I turned to Zerg again and found much more joy in the race.  I quickly learned, for example, that zerglings were THE BEST UNIT EVER.  And I learned that mutalisks were 10 times cooler when micro’d properly.  And when I pulled off my first few scourge cloning maneuvers, taking down 3 science vessels at once, the “dewdewdew!” explosion sounds were pure joy.  And then of course the late-game power of ultra-ling.  My fingers and mind quickly became accustomed to the race–I rifled off 5sz6sz7sz7sz8su9su0sd like some kind of practiced piano exercise, and damn; zerg macro felt GOOD.

Enter Starcraft 2, where, unfortunately, Zerg is just not fun anymore.  It’s a complaint shared by many of us Zerg players, and the discussion has been dealt with many times before, but I’m still going to make my own stand about it–despite being a lowly player who doesn’t even own the game. 9_9

The first thing I want to point out is that I didn’t say Zerg suck as a race.  That’s because I don’t think the problem is in the imbalance itself.  I think that they’re definitely correlated problems, and I think that you can’t make Zerg fun without getting rid of some of the odds that are stacked so heavily against them.  But the issue is much more than just not being able to win as much.  After all, those times I played my friend ZvT in SC:BW, I lost most of the time because he was clearly a superior player, but even then it wasn’t always bad.  The losses were still decent fun, and the times where I managed to make it into mid or late-game were really fun.  But in SC2, the Zerg just has no -heart-, and so it’s very hard to feel passionately about it.  Even when we win games, it still feels like a hollow victory of sorts.  And when we lose games, it doesn’t feel like an “exciting” loss–just an annoying one.

But before I go into the bad, I have to mention the good.  After all, I don’t think SC2 Zerg should be the same as BW Zerg.  That’s silly–if I wanted BW Zerg I’d just play BW! (and I would, if I had to choose)  Despite many people protesting the removal of the Lurker, I actually applauded it.  Even though the Lurkers are such a pivotal unit in BW ZvT and ZvP, I always thought they were…well, a bit weird.  They fit the Zerg image in character, but they feel a bit off to me in terms of their mechanic.  To have to micromanage a unit in that way seems rather unfitting to me when I’m used to my ling/hydra swarms.  Which isn’t to say that I don’t like lurkers in BW–on the contrary, I learned to really like them–but when I was first starting out I never really liked using them because they took too much effort.  And then after I learned to like them, I -still- think it’s kind of silly that if you move your lurkers in, all the Terran player has to do is stim and move his marines out of range, and you’ve effectively done zero damage.  Again, I’m not saying I don’t like how the ZvT mechanics work out–I’m just saying I think it’s a bit silly how the Zerg gets outmaneuvered in this situation (though it makes sense because zerge needs -some- way to hold a choke and take some ground).

Some other good things–I thought the spawn larvae mechanic was a nice try.  I think it threw off the traditional zerg macro style perhaps, and I think it’s silly how each race has one “macro mechanic” because that just seems like something that’s very, very gimmicky.  But the thing I liked about spawn larvae is how it gave you lots of larvae.  LOTS of larvae.  Even when I’ve only got 2 hatches–one at my main and one at my natural, I could have something crazy like 12 larvae.  That’s 24 zerglings.  The fact that 4 larvae pop out instantly at one time is just -excellent- and meshes with the zerg philosophy so well.  Zerg is all about producing a shitton of units, so it feels immensely satisfying to be able to make that many units at once.

But now we get into the bad.  And unfortunately my friends, there is quite a bit of bad.

First, the roaches.  Those damn roaches.  They don’t belong in the swarm at ALL.  They’re a tier 1 tanky unit.  Think about it.  It doesn’t mesh with the Zerg philosophy at -all-.  The Zerg philosophy doesn’t believe in tanks.  The Zerg philosophy dictates: all we have are weak, cheap units.  And because they die so quickly, we just make a fuckton of them.  So what is this TIER 1 TANK doing in our lineup?  It makes no sense.  NO sense.

Second, the hydras.  Besides the wonderful green spurt being replaced by an unsatisfying “flit” which isn’t audible, and is barely visible, and the animation looks awkward, etc etc etc.  They made hydras into super-soldiers.  No!  Wrong!  I don’t want better hydras, and I certain don’t want -bigger- hydras.  I want MORE hydras.  Again–breaking the zerg philosophy.  Hydras in SC2 are bigger and stronger and tankier.  And I don’t like any of those three things.  Think about the zerg BW lineup.  They only had ONE unit that was tanky–the ultralisk, and you don’t get those until Tier 3 when you’re all the way into late-game!  All of the other zerg units are weak.  Zerglings?  cannon fodder.  Hydras?  Get taken out by siege tanks like nothing.  Mutas?  They get raped by marines, corsairs, wraiths, hydras, you name it.  Stronger units do not -belong- in the Zerg hierarchy.  Again, we don’t want stronger units.  We want different -types- of units, sure (think about the difference between lings and mutas), but we just want them in greater quantities.

Then, there’s the scouting problem.  Zerg are severely outplayed in the scouting war.  Terran can build one reaper, and that reaper can do everything.  It can harass you, picking off some drones.  It can scout for you for the entire early game.  And it keeps the Zerg player in his base.  In contrast, the Zerg can send one drone scout, very early on the game otherwise he won’t be able to make it into the terran base (because of walling in), and that scout will die after the first marine is produced.  Which means Terran can even do a fake build until after that first marine is produced.  And there’s no way that Zerg will EVER know about it unless we sacrifice an overlord.  And even IF we sac an ovy, sometimes it gets shot down before we get to see something anyways.  Basically imagine every comstat scan causing a supply depot to blow up, and comstat scans will fail 20% of the time (and you still lose a supply depot).  That’s what it’s like to play Zerg.

Okay, so that basically means that you have to read a minimal set of data (which, remember, could be fake), and then be prepared for anything that can come from that.  That’s not fun.  That’s called stressful.  And it’s even MORE stressful because in SC2 the maps are horridly, horridly small.  Scouting takes noticeably shorter than in SC1, and moving units to attack your opponent’s base takes noticeably shorter.  Which means that whereas in SC1 you could start morphing your sunken colonies as soon as you see your opponent move out and have them ready in time to defend, in SC2 you just already have to have everything ready for defense, otherwise it’s too late.  So it’s even more stressful.  And when you’re playing as Terran or Protoss?  Well, you don’t have this problem because all you have to do is wall-off your base and then one marine or one zealot can hold off infinity zerglings.

Then there’s the fact that Zerg can’t harass anymore.  They just can’t.  It used to be that you can try an early speedling runby against a protoss FE and sometimes it would pay off and you can go in there and seriously screw their economy up.  And mutalisks are used in 95% of ZvT games (and a good number of ZvP games) for harassment.  Compare this to SC2, where mutalisks suck (not to mention turrets, thors, vikings, banshees, marines, and anything else rip them to shreds) and have no mobility, so the only thing you’re left with is speedlings, and…oh wait, that’s right, there’s a wall at the front of their base, so that one marine or one zealot can kill infinity speedlings.  The Terran, on the other hand, have all SORTS of harassment.  Reaper harass.  Hellion harass.  Banshee harass.  Viking harass.  And we have to deal with all of these kinds of annoying hi-stress things because they’re all very common.  And we can’t do anything in turn.  It’s not fun.  It doesn’t even matter whether this makes the matchup imbalanced or not.  The fact is just that preparing for all of these different scenarios (which you have to be prepared for–remember, you can’t scout worth beans because of that wall), and having to deal with them when they do happen, is really hellish for a Zerg player.  It’s a lot worse than in BW, even, which is terrible because even in BW it was hard to deal with vulture harass sometimes.  In BW things are better because the harassment abilities scale over the course of the game.  High Templar / Reaver / MnM drops are really annoying, for instance, but you can’t do those until relatively late, when A) you’ve already got your macro game set up so it shouldn’t matter quite as much B) you’ve already gotten a “good” feeling up until this point C) you have more tools to deal with given harass.  Same for DT/corsair stuff–that doesn’t happen until midgame when you have hydras/scourge coming to deal with them.  In contrast, reaper harass can come as the very FIRST thing that happens in the game.

And then there’s the fact that battles just aren’t as satisfying.  Even when I see ZvT matches where Hydra/Infestor beats Marine/Medivac/Marauder, the battles are really boring.  It isn’t the fast and frenzied bloodfest that BW battles are, with intense APM and clicking everywhere because everything just dies so -quickly-.  Instead it’s just two huge blobs of stuff (SC2 units are also just harder to tell apart) and they shoot at each other mindlessly until the size of each of them is noticeably reduced.

And then even winning isn’t as satisfying.  Brood lords are hella good, and possibly the one unit that Zerg can actually feel proud about in SC2.  But I don’t even like those, because winning with brood lords doesn’t fit the zerg philosophy.  They’re essentially big floating bombers, and that’s not what Zerg does.  Zerg does MASSES OF SHIT, not big slow powerful units.  It’s all wrong.

The last thing that I’ll mention is the creep.  Zerg units moving faster on creep is an interesting idea, but it’s stupid.  Yes, it’s true that it’s not that hard to get creep spewed on a lot of places on the map, but why even have the ability at all?  It makes Zerg feel more defensive, which is already wrong (Zerg is all about tons of units that move fast and frenzied; there’s no need to be defensive!), and then it makes it so that your speed sucks whenever you’re not on your own territory.  Which is sad.  No more swarming your opponent, unless they happen to be attacking on your ground.  It’s just silly.

There’s tons more to be said–zerglings not being as good anymore, corruptors being really boring, infestors having not a very coherent moveset, overlords morphing to overseers, the loss of the scourge, but I think I’ve said enough to get the point across.  Zerg has lost its heart, and it’s not because of the fact that we have no more scourge, or no more lurkers, or because zerglings aren’t as good, or because mutas aren’t as good.  It’s because Zerg lost what it’s all about.  Zerg is about the SWARM.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-gcBqcstXV8

Just watch at 16:30.  It’s glorious.

It’s also just a problem about SC2 in general that things take longer to die, so battles are slower-paced and less frenzied and intense.  Which is bad.  I don’t want any semblance of WC-style micro–if I wanted that I’d play WC3.  Instead I want “large-scale micro”.  But I remember playing a bit on my brother’s computer and I was awed at the fact that 12 zerglings attacking an immortal took so god damn long to kill it.  Seriously, 12 zerglings attacking a reaver would definitely not have taken that long at all.  Urgh!

Didn’t dress up today.  I was busy with other stuff and more importantly, it wasn’t going to be fun.  Maybe tonight, because i still want to.  Wouldn’t be fun to dress up with no girlfriends around anyways!

Also, heard some more mainstream tunes since my co-worker was playing some.  I realize that the strategy to enjoying this kind of music is to not try to pay attention to the vocals at all and pretend like I’m just listening to the backing track.  When I listening to Empire State of Mind and tried listening to the lyrics it made me dislike New York.  How terrible =(

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As an addendum, how come I’m totally okay with Trance lyrics, and Japanese lyrics?  argh…people must just be dumb. 9_9

OHC099

http://compo.thasauce.net/rounds/view/OHC099

You’ve just woken up. You still remember the dream you were having, but vaguely. If only you could remember… was it something light hearted and fun? Or was it something more sinister? Will you ever remember it? Todays theme is “Dream Catcher.”

When I read this theme I -immediately- knew that I wanted to do something chiptuney and Kirby-ish.  I had made something similar a few weeks ago for my work project so I already knew I could do it (and the end result turned out being quite similar, to be honest).  Checking back on the IRC channel I saw that people were talking about doing ambient things and stuff so that was even more of a green flag to do something that surely would break the norm of what other people would do for this theme.

But before I go into my own entry, I want to say that this week’s OHC was extraordinarily awesome, and you should go and listen to everybody’s entries right now and marvel at what can be done by talented people in the course of one hour.  That, and I ended up winning last week’s OHC, which was neat =D.

Anyhoo, back to my entry.  I used a bunch of really simple synths, which actually made things easier so I could concentrate on arrangement, which is a little trickier since I don’t usually do this style as much.  I mainly just used 3xOscs with one oscillator and no effects, or tb_peach (love that VST).  The first 4 measures are basically a dead giveaway to what style i’m going for–if they don’t scream kirby at you, I don’t know what else does.

The next section is actually not quite as strong as it could have been, unfortunately, and I think the song I did a few weeks ago is better in this regard, but it still works out pretty nicely.  But my idea to turn the descending scale passage at the end of the first section into octaves, and then somehow from there go into an UNNTS UNNTS section was brilliant.  I seem to have some kind of hidden talent for spontaneously busting into UNNTS UNNTS in the middle of a song where you would least expect it.  I love it.  I used tb_toad as well here for some of the sound effects, yay!  Anyhoo, this part was basically supposed to be a “boss battle” of sorts.

Then the boss dies, and after some fun sfx we hear a really simple but cute victory fanfare, and then we get this belly triangle synth playing a passage of descending major seventh chords, which is supposed to be the “after stage” section.  You know, imagine Kirby having defeated the boss and the warp star is ready to take you to back to the stage select screen.  So that was definitely a nice touch.

My song was really well-received in the IRC channel during the listening party, which pleased me a lot.  Everyone was laughing at the beginning, going “of course you would have dreams like this” and “living up to your namesake”, hahaha.  Someone else commented about how it was like I was making an entire soundtrack in an hour, hahaha.

Yeah, OHC.  It’s awesome.  Next week is OHC #100, which I’m sure will be SUPER EPIC.  I’m really, really not sure how it can get any more epic than this, because as I already mentioned this week’s entries were AMAZING, but I can’t wait.

 

Also, I might end up dressing up tomorrow. =O

GRE scores, Colleges

Dammit, it happened again.  For some reason as of late when I talk for an extended period of time my throat ends up feeling hoarse.  It’s like not only my mental block, but even my -body- is telling me not to talk.  Maybe I should try speaking in girlvoice more often 9_9.  Speaking of which, still haven’t decided whether to partake in this so called “International Cosplay Day” on Friday.  It’s one of those things that you wouldn’t really take so seriously, but it could be a nice excuse…then again I’m not sure exactly how fun it would be at work anyhow.  Maybe…maybe.

So after my “GRE score get!”, I had to choose which 4 schools I wanted to send my scores to.  I didn’t bother sending to anything other than CS departments, since I’m very confident about my major choice.  The only other possible majors for me would be EE, which would just be inferior, and Music Science and Technology, which is at Stanford anyways and I probably wouldn’t be interested in grad work in that field anyways, not to mention it wouldn’t actually be useful to me.  Anyways, the first choice was obviously going to be Stanford because that’s the school where I’m actually applying for the co-term program.  But the other three…

Well, the first schools that come to mind are places like MIT and Harvard.  And I guess maybe Caltech and Berkeley.  In fact had I gone for things without thinking about them at all I would have just put down Stanford MIT Harvard Caltech.  Maybe I should have.  But instead I thought about things, and I realized that I couldn’t bear to go out of state for grad school.  I’m too entrenched here, and I hate exploring new environments too much.  And I can’t even imagine what a sheer horror it would be to have to start anew and try and establish a new social circle in a foreign land, without the generous safety net that I have here.  I don’t think I could do it.  (not to mention the cold and everything)  So MIT and Harvard were both out, based on that conclusion.

Caltech was interesting because for a moment I actually thought I might send my scores there too.  But then I decided that I didn’t like the sense that I got from Caltech.  It was pretty borderline, so perhaps this was a mistake, but in my mind I saw my own (probably inaccurate) caltech stereotype of nerdy asian people, and despite the fact that I -am- a nerdy asian person (though i’m different than the rest, i swear!), i don’t want to be around those types of people.  I don’t think I have liked nerdy asian girls as much in the past either; for some reason it’s harder to open up to the smart ones.  Maybe they’re intimidating.  In any case, Caltech was unfortunately, out.

Then there’s Berkeley.  I flat-out vetoed Berkeley, and spent a good 20 or 30 seconds vetoing it.  I don’t have anything against Berkeley as a school.  I don’t buy into the whole Cal sucks hype (which is not even that hyped at Stanford anyways 9_9) or anything.  But as of recent I’ve begun to realize that I hate SF.  Every time I go there I become very, very glad that I live in a place that is very unlike it, and shudder at what would become of me if I had to live in the city.  It’s just so, not, me.  The only good thing I can think of that’s there is Westfield mall.  That, and the fact that the sun is never out.  But, thinking about living in Berkeley, just makes me really depressed.  And not being able to say, walk around at 4 in the morning without a second thought as to my own safety, would be hurtful to me too.  So Berkeley was out too.

In the end I just ended up blindly putting down UCLA, UCSD, and UC Davis.  In retrospect, I probably should have just gone with MIT, Harvard, and Caltech, because going to grad school at UCLA, UCSD, or UCD would just be somewhat of a disappointment.  Though on second though, I guess a disappointment is better than a miserable time anyways.  But in all honesty, in the event that I don’t get accepted into the co-term program, I’ll probably just apply to grad school at Stanford.  And if I don’t get in there, then…well, I would probably just not do grad school at all.  It’s not something that’s -terribly- important to me after all.  Or perhaps I could just take a year off for that ever-popular soul-searching business that people do.  Etc etc etc.

When I think back on it, picking Stanford for undergrad was really, really the right choice (not that it wasn’t really a no-brainer).  I don’t think I would have been nearly as happy at any other school, really.  I can see slight glimpses of some sorts of happiness that I would have been able to achieve at other schools, but that happiness that I can see is intermixed with a bunch of problems and discontent; even depression.  God knows I’ve had a hard enough time keeping myself happy at Stanford; who knows what would have happened to me if I were stranded off on the East Coast somewhere, or living near SF!  Gah!