Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Last Day

It's the last day of NaNoWriMo. You see, I have a slight bit over 24 hours left to write my book. Unfortunately, despite the fact that I intended to write 150,000 words originally, I fell behind on my schedule to write even the normal 50,000 words in time.

That's why I am keeping this post short and just mentioning that quickly. Now, I will be able to go and write. I'll just have to make the fifty thousand by the end of the day. It's that simple.

I do promise that I'll post something on my results near the end of tomorrow. It's quite likely that it'll be after midnight, though.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Chuck: Going Strong

Big news: here in the Netherlands we are way behind when it comes to series being broadcasted on tv. Well, not too much new, but anyway. It's a changing thing, as the executives hands' are being forced by the fact that downloading series and watching them long before the come out here is becoming more main stream. Personally, I think Comedy Central NL is also playing a big movement setting some of the new frontiers, but it is working on a rather limited budget so it's also doing some pretty old shows.

Anyway, I don't watch all my series on my computer. I do that when I really like a series and it's somewhat older, but in general, I do that to series that have finished already and that I really want to watch. I usually do not do that to series that are on tv here.
Well, most importantly I don't do it with things like sitcoms or other series which have episodes that can easily be viewed in a vacuum like South Park. This way, I can still turn on the tc and watch an episode without the chance that I have seen it already being too big (it's still pretty big as I do watch a lot of tv and because the broadcasters that have some of the series I like more are on a limited budget so doing the same (very good) series every once in a while.

However, I do also do the same thing for other series. For example, a while back Comedy Central started broadcasting Buffy episodes. Pretty Awesome. I don't see where the comedy is in that, but never mind that, it's just a good series and that's always welcome. I suppose they ran out of the episodes they had or something and then some executive decided they wouldn't buy more because it wasn't comedy, though, as it is no longer on.
Another of those series is Chuck. So, I'm quite a bit behind and I don't even know where the series it right now or if it is even still running. And either way, I don't care all that much. I don't need to know. I am enjoying the series right now and that's enough for me.

Anyway, so I just saw the bit with the transformation to the intersect 2.0. Well, not just, it's been a while and I have seen a few episodes since. But anyway, that change made me wonder where the series was headed, considering they had done so far. Though I spent quite some time doign this introduction, that is really what I wanted to write a bit about, where the series is now headed.

And the thing is that I am quite surprised about that. In a positive way. At the time, I had felt that the writers had done a pretty constricting job of writing themselves into an impossible corner.
However, it turns out that is not the case at all. Instead, they are taking a lot of risks and doing some and most of them are paying off pretty well. They are doing some pretty good stuff. The issue of Chuck and Sarah is also neatly handled as they actually made everything a lot more awkward than it had been before. And you know what, this time their relationship is actually more relatable. At least, that's my opinion.

However, I do feel there are some problems with the series. They mostly lie in the way that only seeing parts of the series has become a lot more troublesome and missing an episode is more of a problem than ever now. Most of it is to be expected when taking so many risks, but I do think I there are some things they didn't do exactly right. The thing is, though, that these things are inspiring me as well. They are part of my inspiration to be working on tv series theory as I did in yesterday's article. I want to be able to quantify what I feel they did wrong and find out how I think they could have done nearly the same thing, but do it a lot better by making some small changes here and there.

I'm looking forward to more of this series. It's been really good lately.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Tv Series: The Gamechanger

I have been thinking about tv series theory a lot lately and I am sort of setting up my own theories doing so. Things are still shaping up and they just need time. However, I decided that I would start of with sharing some of the terminology I have been coming that has already shaped up.

One of the most important things that has been wandering in my mind is the gamechanger. It is about something that changes the premise, goal or the means to the goal the series is taking. Perhaps I will be able to make this into something more quantifiable later on, but for now it's a rather abstract and it requires a lot of feeling. However, let me get into some examples.

Star Trek: Enterprise has a Gamechanger at the end of season 2, when a ship of exploration goes to war. The actual game changer is the event in which the Xindi attack.

Chuck has a Gamechanger when the events leading to the Intersect 2.0 (I find this one hard to pin down, though. I think there's more going on than just a game changer as well).

Battlestar Gallactica had a gamechanger just about every midseason finale and every season finale.

Other series, don't have a gamechanger.

The Gamechanger is the event that leads to changes in the series. However, the event itself is not what makes it a gamechanger. The fact that after that things do change, is what makes it a gamechangers. It can also be hard to say whether something will be a gamechanger until the events following it are shown.
A good example would be the death of a character. For one show, this might mean that the whole dynamic of the show changes, while in another little might change at all. In the latter case, it isn't a gamechanger while in the first case it is.

Also, while a gamechanger is usually planned, it can also just happen. The loss of a cast member (for any reason) can be an unplanned gamechanger (think 8 Simple Rules). It is hard to think of a different way a gamechanger can be unplanned, but I am pretty sure that there is one out there.

There are multiple reasons that the gamechanger focuses on the event causing the change rather than the changes themselves. One reason is that this is not at all about a gradual change. Instead, it's about a sudden change in the series, which is caused by something. Another is that gamechanger itself is usually a big event in the series and already drops its hints even before you can be sure it is going to be a gamechanger. Of course the way in which I started thinking about it also plays its role.

So, this was tv series theory installment one. I hope you liked it. For me, thinking about certain events as gamechangers really changed the way I looked at some finales.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Series Premiere, Season Premiere

One of the pages I still get a lot of trafic on this site from is the one with the caveman debugging post. It turns out that people come across the term and wonder what it is, and googling it actually leads right to my blog at the top of the results. Wow.

Well, today is going to be a post in a similar vain. This time about the name for the first episode of a tv series or just the first of a season.
I have used several terms for this, but most just don't sound too well. "Beginner" and "Opener" just don't do the trick for me. We have finale on the one hand and together with the first episode of a season it makes one of the aspects of tv series that particularly interest me.

I knew I had heard a good term for it once, but I couldn't remember. So yesterday, I did some googling. Well, I ended up not finding it through googling, but through navigating my way through wikipedia. And there it was, in an article marked as bad because it didn't cite source: Premiere.

This word has one very important quality. Even if people have never heard of the term before, they will quickly enough understand what you mean with it. That is, in my opinion it's strongest quality. Of course, it's also important that it just sounds good and that it fills what in my opinion was a niche.

What I would like to do is propose the terms "Series Premiere" and "Season Premiere" when talking about tv series. And what I am going to do about it, is just use them. And I urge you to do the same. And to spread the word, of course.

So: Premiere it is!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Just a single System

Today I am writing about a thing that - as a programmer - I feel I should keep reminding myself of. Basically, that is that this is just a single system.

Writing this was inspired by a comment on a flash game I saw earlier today. The commenter was saying how the game didn't work for him, and then said that as a programmer, he knew that something serious was up and he continued to say how there was something wrong with the memory management.

Now, don't get me wrong, I program myself as well and I know how the line of thought goes all too well. However, I do feel there was something wrong with it. Namely, the commenter was sitting behind a single system (or computer, I just like the word system more in this context) and from there making comments about the entire thing. However, every system (computer) is different and the programmer could not ever have tested every single system out there.

I'm not saying there was or wasn't anything wrong with that game, but I do want to remind myself that "This is just a single system" and thus remind me that even if it doesn't work here, it might work elsewhere.

This should also be applied the other way around. When you make something, don't just run it on one computer and assume it is going to do the exact same thing everywhere. Every system is different and this is only a single system. Try it on a few more systems (try to get other people to try it as well, they often have systems that differ from yours than your desktop and laptop differ) and never be surprised if it still does something else on another system entirely.

Alright, that's all I wanted to say.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Conley Woods shows us how to play Magic

I'm watching the Magic World Championship at this very moment. If Wizards has its way - which they might have, considering they are the ones making this game - it will be the last of its kind (the plan for next year is no more than a joke), but I am not here to talk about that. Maybe I'll talk about it some other time, but maybe I won't.

What I am here to talk about is how Conley was playing in the Quarter finals, as that was just truly amazing. Really, I think that was one of the most amazing moments in the game ever, and I have watched some of the most awesome games (even if not live).

So how did things go? Well, it was best out of five, and the first two were down without a chance for Wescoe who was his opponent. Then, Wescoe took the next two without leaving Woods a chance. And then it all came down to the last game. Which was the amazing game.

Basically, Wescoe was just taking the game. It may not have been as smoothly as in the first two, but there was a point where I doubt there was more than a handful people all over the world who hadn't written off Conley. However, he made some awesome plays and two turns and a little luck (in the lack of relevance in his opponent's cards) he was actually the one who had won. I suppose you should have seen the thing. I'll update with a link once they have it up, so you can. And you should!

Update 18-12-2015: Here I am, 4 years later, rereading the post and realizing I forgot to add that link... Here you go: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VXQmu_OXIzM

Saturday, November 19, 2011

NaNoWriMo troubles

This month I am doing NaNoWriMo. The idea is that lots of people all over the world are each writing a novel in a month time. There is nothing shared except the the hardship we are putting ourselves through. It's a nice thing and I am participating for the fourth time. I think I also wrote about it once or twice in the past.

However, there is a twist to this story. As there should be a twist to every story, of course. The twist is that I am not aiming for the goal that NaNoWriMo sets. After doing 100,000 words instead of 50,000 last year, I decided to draw the trend line and go for 150,000 this time around. I suppose I wanted to keep in the challenge.

The thing is, I'm not on schedule. I'm far behind. I'm not on schedule... for 50,000. I have a lot of words to catch up. And I don't know how I can possibly do that just yet, but I am not giving up hope just yet. It's like something I was talking about last night: "The only time there are no options is when you have given in to one of them."

Considering that I haven't written a single word yet today, it makes little sense that I am here writing on my blog instead of on my novel. Why then am I doing this? I suppose it has something to do with the fact that I might be doing better on writing on my blog regularly (every day in this case) than I have ever been and that's worth something to me too. I'll go write on my novel right away. I promise.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Once again: Request

Yesterday, I found that people are actually using my ages old XMLHttpRequest script. At least, that's how some people end up on this blog - after googling for "Jasper's HttpRequest script".

Well, it's quite old and uses techniques for compatibility with older browser which basically have been given up on today (IE 6). Still, I think the thing should still work. But it wasn't hosted anywhere, so now is my chance to fix that. Here's an all-new link to the script: link.

I do want to revisit the script some time and update it and all and perhaps it will even some day be integrated into GoodLooking. Until that time, feel free to use the script from the link above. There is one thing I do ask you for, though. I would like it if you let me know what you are using the script for. Just out of curiosity, really.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Honorable Mention: ComboFix

Yesterday, I had a run-in with a virus. The very first popup which said something was wrong already had the looks of not being legitimate to me, but then everything became very obvious as the virus started to get in my way whenever it could and tried to keep me from doing just about anything on my pc.

I'm good with computers and good with Windows (well, XP anyway, and that's what I'm running), so I managed to find the one way they had left open and knew how to get just about anything done from that little window I had.
I found that my files where being hidden and that it set my settings not to display any hidden files every few minutes for as long as the virus was running. I had to jump through quite a few hooks, but finally I managed to tell my updated firewall/antivirus (I used the combined term, as I was actually using a third tool: the active defense) software to terminate the virus's process and ban it from starting up again.

I fixed a few things that I the virus had left in a bad state, ran a full virus scan over my entire computer and used sfc /scannow to have Windows recover any damage to core files done by the virus. (I am pretty sure it did stuff with ping.exe somewhere along the road...)

I was still leaved with an incomplete system: my all programs menu in the start menu was wrecked and it had also been messing around with the shortcuts on my desktop and in quick start. Additionally, my virus scanner appeared not to have found the virus, so it was still there even though it was being blocked from running.

I looked for something to fix the missing shortcuts. I found a note somewhere that ComboFix did things like that.
ComboFix far surpassed my expectations. Seriously, it mentioned a few things it was going to have to remove, but moreover I found in the logs that it had removed both executables I had identified as malicious myself. Additionally, it removed shortcuts to its "cover-up" the System Fix program the virus was saying I had to purchase the full version of.
However, it did also fix Quick Start, All Programs and my desktop. I don't know how it did that - is the information which enough to rebuild those stored in the registry or something? That would explain why some applications didn't return properly (I was already assuming that they were the ones not doing things properly rather than ComboFix). It would be a bit redundant, but right now, I'm not second-guessing the situation. Everything is fixed. All because of ComboFix!

Thanks, ComboFix!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Secrets The Internet Has Not Discovered Yet

It's pretty awesome when you find out about something, and then google it and find that there are only two websites that have written about. That just happened to me.

It was all about the song "How Could I Be So Wrong" by Sylver that was playing. I suddenly heard for the first time that the singer was actually singing the line "I wish we had some lyrics for this song".

Well, I googled it and even though the song has been out for two years now, that sentence was only to be found on two sites, one in English and one in Dutch. It might be that google is set up not to search websites in other languages, so I'll just stick to the fact that I'm the second English website documenting that secret. Awesome.
And I'm proud of it.