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The Ill Communication

Fast 5

January 28, 2017 | 17:05 | Written by: snake911

Here are five random images I found on my phone.  All of them are 7+ years old!  Eeek!

This is the only Del Taco I've been to that had these cool looking bottles set up as decorations at the condiments table.  They were illuminated from the inside and represented their three hot sauces including Del Taco's signature Del Scorcho and Del Inferno plus good ol' fashioned Heinz Ketchup.














 

A co-worker told me he knew of a donut shop that sold these massively huge donuts near where he lived.  Not believing him, he bought me one as proof of its existence…and he was right.  It was big.  So big in fact that I needed to place a dollar bill next to it so when I tell others about this mythical blob of flour, sugar, and oil as a reference for just how massive this thing actually is.



 

I didn't know it at the time that this was going to be rare, but this photo was taken when I went to a live taping of The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brian.  This is not to be confused with Late Night with Conan O'Brien that he did between 1993 and 2009 or the show that he currently does on TBS.  This is the short lived 2009 – 2009 show he did after Jay Leno passed it to him and before Jay stole the show back only after Conan hosted it for only a few months.









 

I found an arcade that had Street Fighter IV in the US.  This was at the time before the console versions were released, but shortly after Japan arcades got them.  Rumors were going around that some arcades in the US actually had SF4 setups and I happened to come across one in Walnut, CA at an arcade called Super Arcade that specialized in arcade games from Japan.  Man was that a rad arcade; spent some time in there during my college years.  Good times.

 

A pretty cool indi game shop that has since closed down.  Many classic games were bought here that are now in my collection.



















 

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Transparency in 20oz

January 24, 2017 | 23:18 | Written by: snake911

I came across what I believe is a rarity of a beverage while waiting in the checkout line at the grocery store yesterday.  In the countertop cooler that lines up a variety of soft drinks for impulse buyers, I saw something that was clearly different amongst the other bottles that contain darker colored liquids.  I saw a bottle of Crystal Pepsi!

Probably the last time I saw a bottle of this clear stuff was back in, like, the early ‘90s when clear, non-colored drinks were a short lived fad that even crossed over to liquor with brands like Zima.  Even back then I don't remember ever participating in this phenomenon by drinking any transparent sodas, so I never knew what it tasted like.  But twenty years later I was given a second change to rectify my past sin and can now taste what I've been missing for all these years.  And as you can probably expect, the anticipation was high when I finally had it in my hand, cap removed, and ready to take a swig.

The results? Meh.

It does kind of throws you off with the first sip because knowing ahead of time it's a Pepsi, so you expect to tie together the taste to what you visually see in the bottle to what you already know about the drink, but with my brain expecting it to be black rather than clear, it confused my taste buds, but after you take a second mouthful is when you get it figured out.  To me it doesn't taste like a traditional Pepsi.  It had a strange after taste to it.  I've never drank hand sanitizer (and I never plan to), but that back taste I got from it gave me that inclination.  Next time I see one, I think I'll pass on it.

So in conclusion: I didn't miss much.

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Get ready to brain dive!

January 19, 2017 | 23:26 | Written by: snake911

It's here!  The first entries for the Ghost in the Shell feature that covers the materials of the franchise prior to the soon to be released live-action film are here for your perusal.  This first duping of content includes all of the OG media that's critically acclaimed.

As noted in an earlier blog entry, these are sort of but not really reviews for the listed media, along with some personal opinions dashed in for some originality.  Hey, this is my personal blog after all, so it should come as no surprise.  All of this is to let people get a glance of the Ghost in the Shell world that inspired the upcoming movie starring Scarlett Johansson, which I’m anticipating to watch when it comes out, but am also cautiously optimistic to see if it’ll be good enough to capture the reasons why this franchise is so great.

The order which I’m releasing these may be a bit off from a US release standpoint.  When I organized everything by date via a spreadsheet, I decided to go with the Japanese release dates, but using the dates in which the collective books (tankobon) were published instead of the original comic release dates.  That seemed to make the most sense to order this feature.

Oh, and remember that there will be some spoilers in this GitS feature, so watch out if you're sensitive to knowing plotlines or characters, or endings.  I'm noting it here and at the top of the index page too, so consider yourselves warned!

Ghost in the Shell - Manga

The one that started it all and spawned a huge cash cow for Shirow Masamune.  Oh yeah, in this entire feature I’m referring to him as "Shirow Masamune" rather than what I believe is actually "Masamune Shirow."  Why?  Because all of the US content has it shown with Shirow as the first name, so that’s why and I’m sticking to it.

Ghost in the Shell - Film

I think most people were introduced to the Ghost in the Shell universe starting with the 1995 film rather than the manga.  Acclaimed by many including Roger Ebert, it’s become a classic for both cyberpunk and anime buffs alike.  In terms of availability, I think it’s on every streaming service, so it shouldn’t be very difficult to track down if you want to watch it.

Ghost in the Shell - Game

I don’t think a lot of people know about the PS1 game that allows you to control a Fuchikoma.  The proof for that may be the reasoning as to why the price for the game on eBay is so darned high: a minimum amount of copies exist.  And if that’s the case, then that’s a real shame because it’s a fantastic game with great graphics, fun gameplay, and a cool soundtrack.  Un-oh, I think this article might have upped the price on eBay by a few bucks.

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Oldies

January 17, 2017 | 23:20 | Written by: snake911

All weekend from Friday to today, KROQ's been playing nothing but ‘90s alternative music with Roq of the 90s Weekend.  So far, it's been what I've been mainly listening to over these last few days.

Not that they've never done this before, but it's been a while since I've heard a lot of ‘90s music in a concentrated amount of time; and it's been awesome.  Why?  Because since there is a lot of time to fill for the station, they've been playing not only the big hits, but also minor hits that I've completely forgotten about like Bush's "Comedown" and King Missile's "Detachable Penis."

I guess tomorrow we go back to the new stuff again.  Now old man me wishes there was an KROQ HD3 station that only played ‘90s music similar to KROQ HD2 that only plays ‘80s music with Roq of the 80s.  But maybe too much of a good thing is bad.

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Moonshining the good stuff

January 11, 2017 | 23:01 | Written by: snake911

Love eating oatmeal, but sometimes it's just too much for a weekday breakfast.  It's a problem because I'm a slow eater by nature, and it takes me a while to eat any meal you pass my way.  Oatmeal is one that takes me a while to go through; though not because of the taste (I got over my childish hate for it long ago).  I think it may be because of the runny-like texture it has.  I think it just causes me to consume it more slowly when compared to something more solid.  This may be the reason why I can eat oatmeal and granola cereals faster than a traditional bowl of the oat-to-the-meal.

A pretty good solution was found on the package of the last box of oatmeal I bought.  Rather than showing the recipe for making oatmeal cookies, they instead showed something I've never seen before: overnight oatmeal.

While skeptical that it would taste good (I never ate raw oats from a cold serving), I decided to give it a shot because the recipe was simple enough to where a non-chef doofus such as myself could assemble this together with little effort.  That and the picture on the box looked too tempting to not pass up on trying it at least once.  The ingredients include:
- 1/2 cup of oats
- 1/2 cup of low fat milk
- 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup of blueberries
- banana slices

As the name suggests you make it the night before and then eat it the next day.  It's actually pretty tasty, which I think is thanks to the vanilla extract, spiking the sweet factor up by an extra 10 points.  Of course the blueberries and banana contribute to that as well.  When you consider the health benefits, this thing is loaded with heart healthy oats and antioxidants.  I can sense my blood getting redder bite after bite.

The only negative I can think of is the price.  More specifically, the blueberries and vanilla extract.  If you already have a cupboard with this sweet nectar, then I guess it's not a problem, but those tiny bottles sure do cost a lot when you need to buy more, and then there's the blueberries setting me back about $4.00 a pack, which only allows for about 3 servings.  But when you consider this as a meal that keeps you full until lunch, then I guess you can call it a saving as you can skip the late morning snack.

So yeah, overnight oatmeal.  You have my approval.

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The future is now

January 9, 2017 | 19:27 | Written by: snake911

Hope everyone enjoyed that short exploration of Microsoft Home software because that last one with a big dive into Scenes with screensavers and wallpapers was the final one.  Actually, I know you guys like them as those blog entries are one the most trafficked pages on the site.  It was short lived, but I was able to cover all five major categories the catalog of software had to offer, which was my mission all along, so I'm proud to say the mission was a success.  But don't fret because as one feature gets sunset, another will take its place; and this time it's going to get its own section.

I'm pretty excited for this one.  This is one of those ideas I had mulling over in my brain for a number of years now, but am now finally getting my butt in gear to finally put it out.  Ladies and gentleman, I present to you: Ghost in the Shell: Post Factum.

So I'm a fan of Ghost in the Shell, and have been a fan since 2004 when the TV series premiered in the US.  Yeah, I knew about the franchise much earlier when I was first exposed to it when playing the demo for the PS1 game back in 1997, but I really didn't get into it until the TV show aired; and since then I've been a fan of it.  Well, to be honest, more like a casual fan, as I never really consumed anything other than the TV shows, the original game, or the first manga book.  I kept buying everything GitS related over a decade's time between 2005 and 2010, but never actually took anything out of the shrink wrap.

But now that the live action film of the series is coming out soon, it's acting as a motivation in an effort to finally get through all of the material before the movie debuts in what should be late March.  So over the next several months, I'll be dumping my opinions regarding every book, movie, TV show, and games related franchise into their own articles, so you can get a small sampling of the content that inspired the live action movie.  My goal is to be finished with this feature before the movie premiers.  That's a tight deadline, but I think I can make it; even though Let it Die has been hampering my efforts!

Now even though I hate spoilers and I try to make my write-ups as spoiler free as possible (like my games journal feature), I'm going to make an exception for this feature, so expect to see spoilers throughout it.  I'll provide a warning on the hub page for this feature, so be cautious if you don't want anything ruined in the way of me telling you certain plot points or endings!

And due to the rush in getting this feature accomplished, the index page and a few other things will look bare bones and lite on original designs.  All of that will be added later on after I've written all of the content.  So expect the index page to get a facelift after it's all done.  To get to the index page, click the image you see at the top of this entry, or click the link on the right-hand side of this website where the other features are at.  The first batch of content should be hitting the website next week.  Hope you'll stick around for them :-)

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Delicioso

January 7, 2017 | 20:34 | Written by: snake911

Finally got around to trying out one of the Platos meals at Del Taco.  It's pretty expensive, but you can tell quality is included as part of the cost, and that makes it ok.  From the menu, you can pick from one of four main dishes: two street tacos, two beer battered fish tacos, a chicken verde wet burrito, or a carne asada wet burrito.  For me, I decided to go large and get the carne asada wet burrito.

As what you'd out of one, it was packed with meat, covered in lots of cheese, and drenched with red sauce.  It was dense and the quality of the meat was good as there was no "stringiness" to it when chewed and it filled the burrito from end-to-end.  To top it off, they placed avocado slices to complement the meaty carne asada with a hint of a soft, buttery texture and flavor.

For the sides, all Platos meals come with rice with some pico de gallo on top, chips and salsa, and a whole lot of refried beans with cheese on top.  All the sides were a great filler to the main course, but I wished they doubled the amount of tortilla chips as there's way too much beans for just the amount of chips they offer, so if you plan to get this meal you should either buy a second helping of chips or make sure you have some at home if you decide to do take-out.

For next time, I'm considering getting the chicken verde wet burrito as I love it when our family makes it for dinner from time-to-time, but man does it disagree with me after a few hours simmering in my stomach.  But that's the pain I'm willing to take for deliciousness.

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Echoes from the past

January 4, 2017 | 22:31 | Written by: snake911

Last night I was rummaging through some old backups and I unintentionally went and did a deep dive into it, killing a lot more time than I would have like to.  However, during that expedition I found some real treasures I thought were buried in the sands of time.  And when I mean “treasures,” I mean I found a lot of image editing projects.

This is the earliest one I can find.  It's dated October 2001 and that makes sense as that was the time I bought a used laptop for college, which I started a few months earlier in July.  A friend gave me a butt load of software to go with the laptop, including a copy of I believe ImageReady 3.0, which would be my introduction with photo editing software.  It's like a very lightweight version of Photoshop that included layers, basic filters, and nothing else.  A few months later he would give me a copy of Photoshop and Illustrator 6.0, which opened things up greatly.

Anyways, that image was created as a concept for a game I was thinking about creating once I graduated from college with a degree in computer programming.  Since it's been 15 years and I haven't created even one game, I guess it's okay to let my idea out and let everyone know what a fresh and ignorant 18 year old had in mind for a game.  But as you'll see, over the years, some of the ideas and story points in it would be seen in other games, so it's not really that original anymore.

The story for Outlaws begins in the future where a large corporation dealing with making major leaps in technology fields like medical and aerospace were creating a teleportation system able to travel large distances for space exploration, but accidently created a time portal that pulls in a scientist, along with a bunch of other equipment in the lab, to the old west.  Meanwhile, a pair of outlaws during the old west days, unfortunately being around the same physical location where the lab would be at in the future, witness the time portal open up, throwing the scientist into their time along with one of the outlaws being pulled into it, throwing him into the future.  In addition, the portal causes the surrounding areas to be infested with spiritual beings that came from the portals and possessing people and animals.  Ultimately, it would be a survival horror game.

The game has the player controlling the two who were thrown out of their times with the scientist running around an old west town, assisted by the other outlaw (who is the boss of the two) while the other being the outlaw running through a futuristic city, assisted by the other scientist's lab partner.  There's a special communication device both sides use so they can work together in resolving this incident (the communication device was created for use while subjects were traveling in the portal).  Both parties on the opposite sides of the timeline are needed due to a lot of the lab equipment got pulled into the portal.  Time travel gameplay mechanics like burying something so a character in the future can use it in their time would be used along with survivor horror clichés of running around fighting or running from monsters and item collecting so the player can progress to new locations.

Finding out what went wrong would be on the future side, running into suspicious characters and taking note of what they were doing.  Eventually the player would discover that the lead scientist was actually part of the occult and attempting to free their god who has been imprisoned in a lost dimension that occurred millennia ago.  The time portal was close to but missed the demon's prison, giving to the reasoning behind the evil spirits.  The final boss battle would be going into that demon's dimension and killing it.  I remember I wanted the ending to have a twist in it, similar to a horror movie where everything isn't as rosy as you'd like it to be at the end, but I never got around to actually creating the documentation that explains the game in details.  All as far as I ever got was creating some title images that you see in this post.

As a contrast, with my friend and his game idea, he went way further than I did to where he pretty much had his story written and finalized with a scene-by-scene explanation, script dialogs, and even character models.  But unlike a survival horror like mine was, his was a JRPG styled game.  Before he moved to another state, he gave me a copy of his story.  Man, need to see if I still have that somewhere.  I totally forgot what it was about except for the name of the company which the story centers around: Shadow Fox Industries; or something like that.  It'd be cool if I can find it again to see it with 15 years' worth of hiding in the darkest of backups has caused it to be as good as it was when he originally told me it, aging like a fine wine.

But with my story and game mechanics, you can point out a few games that had similar plot points or mechanics.  The biggest would have to be Doom 3 with all of the demons and portal crap.

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Diaries from the Tower of Barbs -- Entry 01

December 27, 2016 | 20:45 | Written by: snake911

So Let it Die has been a real time suck for me over the past month.  While it's not the only thing I do, it has taken the free time of my free time away; meaning, time dedicated to working on this site, so that explains the reasoning why entries have recently stopped.  But man I'm having a good time with this game.  So much that I decided to showcase my activates in the game with a series of blog entries titled Diaries from the Tower of Barbs.  I figured I might as well benefit from it by having some sort of documentation of what the heck I'm doing in the game.

In the beginning I was running up the tower, getting to the first mini boss pretty quickly, but getting to that point in the game unlocked the online component called Tokyo Death Metro, a sort of multiplayer aspect of the game, and since then my progress of climbing the tower has come to a sudden halt.  It bothers me a lot when I log back into the game to find out that other players have raided my base, so since week 2 of playing, I've been very slowly building up my base's defenses in hopes of slowing down jerks from stealing my kill coins, but more importantly, my precious SPLithium.

While raiding, I notice other players will focus more attention on strengthening their banks, making it more difficult to break one of them by beating it mercilessly with weapons or old fashion fists.  For me I went the other route that involves ordering your fighters to defend the base, but that is the long and arduous route that involves a lot of time and patience of building up your bank with enough currency to buy more space in your fighter freezer and then leveling up your new fighters so they are a strong enough of a defense when people raid my base.  And for a while it was working, as many people were dying and leaving chalk outlines of their bodies in my base, but things started to change and it wasn't as effective as it once was.

Purposely, I've been staying at a lower rank so I wouldn't be clobbered by higher ranking foes, so I haven't gone beyond what I believe is the room where the first boss encounter is at.  Instead, I've been exploring the floors below, seeing every room that I unlock by defeating the mini bosses.  With eight fighters currently guarding my base, it's more of a quantity than a quality defense, but all of that is going to change now that I've recently discovered that you can upgrade your weapons at the store.  Silly me, I thought it was a one-and-done purchase where the only thing you need to do afterwards is level up the weapons by using them while running through the tower, but now that I know I can add plus X (+1, +2, +3, etc.) to weapons and clothing, I'm now on the hunt by collecting as much raw materials I can find to upgrade everything so the number of raids begin to decrease again as I dress my fighters with better clothes for armor and weapons for slaughtering.  Can you tell I don't play very many RPGs to figure out the basic item leveling system most games have? ;-)

Now my mallets are more effective than they were before (was wondering why they started to suck as of late) and I'm looking for as much iron, wood, oil, and cotton I can get to upgrade what I need before moving on to the first boss as I feel the battle is going to be rough.  I'm hoping to be done grinding by next week so I can be strong enough to progress further up the Tower of Barbs.  Oh and by the way -- those Jackals are very intimidating!

And that does it for the first entry!  Not much to report but grinding, but it's all gearing up for some grand battles coming up, so the payoff should be happening soon.  As for this feature, don't expect it to be a frequent one.  I'll probably do one every three weeks or when I feel enough has happened to warrant an update.

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MS Home - Microsoft Scenes

December 15, 2016 | 22:54 | Written by: snake911

When looking back at the archives of home computing technology, there seems to be a synonymous connection between screensavers and the 1990s.  The reasoning behind this might be due to the fact that that was the decade where non hobbyists were starting to purchase computers for their homes and with it a large amount of customization.

Starting with Windows 95, there was full functionality built into the OS for things like custom wallpaper for the desktop and screensavers when the PC was in idle use.  Sure, you could have had patterned wallpaper and a screensaver for Windows 3.1, but they were features that were lacking in options and not fully fleshed out until 95 rolled out when it began to feel complete; so much so that the windows form for these features looked nearly the same for many versions of the Windows OS following 95.

This may be obvious, but just in case you didn't know, a screensaver is a program that displays animation or a series of images on a computer monitor after a preset amount of inactivity has passed to prevent burn-in from occurring to a screen.  For today's LCD screens it's not that big of deal but back in the '80s and '90s when CRT monitors were still relevant, a static image was prone to burning itself onto the screen, creating a permanent ghost image on the display.

As part of the Microsoft Home line of software, the Scenes series of programs added a full range of customizable options for both screensavers and wallpapers.  For a selection of flavors to choose from, there were a number of different subjects you can purchase such as the Undersea Collection, showcasing fish and plant life in the oceans; Hollywood Collection, which includes photos of famous celebrities and actors; and Sierra Club Collection of photos from the organization's archives.  For this feature, the Brain Twister Collection was selected as the subject matter.

Of all the programs from Microsoft Home that we've explored thus far, this one has to be the absolutely most basic one of them all.  In fact, it's more like an add-on function to the operating system as the interface is as vanilla Windows as you can get.  After installing the software and launching it, you can see its interface is split in half down the middle where the screensaver options are on the left and the wallpaper options are on the right.

With wallpapers, you have around 40 images to pick from where all are filed under the category titled Brain Twister.  For this series of images, Brain Twister deals with funky looking, somewhat abstract photos that may cause you to say "what the heck am I looking at?"  For a better explanation, here's the official description written on the back of the box:

Using images drawn from the world around us, you'll be visually challenged by images as diverse as three-dimensional stereograms and other synthetic object to those from the natural world.  Perspectives blast you 500 miles up into space or zoom you in microscopically close with magnification of 7000 power.  It's as fascinating as it is fun to puzzle these pictures out.

Each image also has an option to have a small window display with the description of the image so you know what you're looking at.

For the screensaver, it basically incorporates all of the images used for wallpaper, but places them into a slideshow.  Options allow you to set the duration time for each image and the kinds of transitions between each slide.  Again, all simplistic and but very intuitive to use.

Probably the handiest tool of Microsoft Scenes is the ability to allow for the user to enter a password after the screensaver starts, which allows for a bit of security for the OS.  If I'm remembering this correctly, adding a password or locking the OS didn't come standard to the OS until Windows 2000 or XP, leaving all 9X series of Windows vulnerable for unauthorized access.

For a personal touch, Scenes allows you to create your own collection of images for use as screensavers.  The problem with this is pretty much one had a digital camera or a scanner for their computer back in 1994.  So to make it easier for home users to get their precious family photos for use with Scenes, Microsoft created a division to digitize photos to digital pics that they mailed back to you -- just mail them your prints, negatives, or rolls of film and they will send a disc back.  Of course, coming with a cost for the service, but it was a niche market, so they probably made some good coin on it until digital cameras began to rise in popularity.

By the way, if you made it this far on an article about how to use desktop wallpapers and screensavers for your PC, then you deserve a round of applause.

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