Saturday, February 16, 2019

Star Trek Discovery

Got the DVD set for xmas. I think the first episode (2?) were on regular broadcast back in the beginning, some of it felt familiar...

So finally did a binge watch of the entire first season.

This is probably the best that Star Trek has ever been.

And I say that as a guy who watched TOS as a kid. AND the cartoons 5 years later. AND the movies. AND the other shows (TNG started way too slow/weird, etc). Have seen all the TOS episodes more than once. The other shows, well, not so much.

I would argue that none of the prior series had an entire season that was a good as Discovery's entire first season.

And Discovery may not be able to repeat that. Season two doesn't start as strong, but I've only seen two episodes so far. So we shall see.

But S1 is fabulous. TV Sci Fi may never have been quite this good (although I need to rewatch Farscape for comparison). I've seen a lot of tv sci fi over 50 years, none of it was this good.

S1 has a coherent story line (well, multiple, really) that advances every episode. In addition, if you've seen TOS and know your lore, the tie-ins are clear.

I don't normally stay up all night for something like that, but damn that was good.

Saturday, December 08, 2018

Artificial Stupidity

You've heard of Artificial Intelligence of course...

This is artificial stupidity :) 

A friend and I had a joint xbox session of Fallout 76. We went to the Red Rocket large truck station, grabbed the workstation, and got several waves of attackers a little later.

Those attackers were the stupid Chinese head-crab "liberator" robots. The station has a few Protectrons. Generally those things aren't very capable, but these liberators are the epitome of Artificial Stupidity here.

In this video, you can see some of those head-crabs and a protectron (aka "red robot"). Red is standing there shooting some head-crabs. The head-crabs are too stupid for words. So stupid that they're funny, doing their very own Morris dance (imagine photo from The Holy Grail here that has those jumping ninnies from Launcelot's solo scene at the castle rescuing Alex Herbert; I couldn't find it and don't have time to frame-rip the entire movie and then hunt for that bit)

Similarly artificial stupid: when your NPC companion steps in between you and a target just as you shoot a massively hard range attack while zoomed in such that you can't see where your companion is and your companion gets killed instead. Or when a bunch of opponents stand around looking at you, but doing nothing, because altho they can see you up close, they can't figure a traversal path to get next to you to hit you--but they jiggle back and forth because they're in a weird math spot where they can't do otherwise.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

2018 Elections

It's two years later. Been a crazy time. What do I think about the elections? Recall that last time, Sept 2016, I said I thought Trump would win. 

This time? Next week...I think there's a very good chance the Republicans will retain control of both sides of Congress. [OK, I was wrong this time, yay]

It didn't look like that a few weeks ago, but then we had the Kavanaugh episode. Now we have the "Executive Order terminating birthright citizenship". 

Recall that Kavanaugh was quoted to have said "there's no such thing as 'settled law'". This is correct, regardless of what anyone wants.

The thing folks most want to equal "settled law" is the Constitution. But it's possible for an amendment to overturn any piece of it, including another amendment. We've already done that once. (Remember Prohibition?) You know Trump picked Kavanaugh because he's likely to go along with the "self-pardon" idea.

So if there are things said, whether "constitutional" or not, that cause supportive voters to go vote to keep the power structure exactly as is, well, you know what that means.

If an XO can negate one thing, it can negate another thing, and then the entire document means nothing.

So do I think this will happen? The slippery slope has already begun...I can readily imagine that the XO doesn't get challenged, some shenanigans occur, and Trump decides to alter some other things.

What happens when he decides news reporting cannot contain what he considers "fake news" ? And that the purveyors of such can be eliminated?

Or when he decides that people who voted against him are, well, need to be removed.

Given that there are clearly people in the law-enforcement arena who are more than willing to follow orders like those of separating little kids from their parents (and probably enjoy it, or they'd refuse), what happens when he decides that the names on the lists of registered Democrats are just as much a threat? 

Do you really think that no one would go along with it?

Came to an interesting conclusion just now...

Was reading a WaPo anti-trump piece, on Election Day, and there's a comment:

"[trump] massively overestimates his abilities so he is forever driving things into the ditch, and ends every venture with disaster but still manages to walk away as everyone else is carted off the emergency room"

Remember the book "A Spell For Chameleon" ?

I read that when it was new, 40 years ago. The book is about a parallel universe zone in Florida near Okeechobee where magic is a real thing. Each person there has a magic skill. Except the hero. He has nothing. The book is a classic "voyage of self-discovery" in that he DOES have a skill, but it's a passive skill, not an active skill. That passive skill is that he cannot be harmed by magic. *Something* will happen to negate or block an magical attack on him. It's not a thing he controls, it just happens. 

The quote in the comment feels like this. His actions may produce disasters, but he emerges largely unaffected by the outcome, and always claims a win.

The problem in the book was that "sticks and stones could break his bones, but magic could never hurt him". Most of the rest of folks had what could be attack magic, but everyone could use a stick.

trump feels like that, a bit. Reagan, the "teflon president", kinda did too. Altho Reagan's disasters were not on the same scale. 

That'd lead to some weird personal assumptions--like "everything I do works out good", even when it doesn't. 

Friday, November 16, 2018

Another weird episode on my Mac

I'm not sure what brought this on...

Some months ago (less than six, but more than one), after an OSX update of sorts, Messages stopped showing peoples' names and began just showing the phone numbers.

Quite irritating. For any given messager, for the very few I have a photo of, I could see that, or, if the number matched a Contacts entry, I could see first and last initials ("AB"), but that darn number was always there in place of the name.

For computers, it's more efficient to use the numbers. But for people, well, we don't work like that. Partly because we tolerate duplicated names ("John Smith") where the computer cannot.

If you look online you can't find a solution. Apparently talking to Apple Tech Support won't get it done either. (???)

Well, ok, you CAN find solution online.

Here's my situation: all works great on my iPhone. But suddenly not on my Mac. Mac running High Sierra.

Nothing I do/try fixes it.

Until this:
  1. Close the contacts app. Close Messages. Close Mail.
  2. Go to ~/Library/Application Support/ (in Finder, using command-shift-G)
  3. Rename the "AddressBook" folder to something like "AddressBook-old" just to be safe
  4. Open the contacts app. Wait a couple minutes for it to resynchronize
  5. It will create a new AddressBook folder that syncs to icloud properly. Wait until you see all your contacts re-appear.
  6. If it's all dandy delete the renamed AddressBook folder
OK, if it's NOT all dandy, quit Contacts, delete the NEW AddressBook folder, and rename the old one back to AddressBook.

But this worked for me. (other folks found that making sure the phone number format lined up exactly the same did the trick--but I would argue that that is a different problem)

Really don't know why. If *I* were the author of the software, Contacts, Messages, all that contacts-using stuff, this wouldn't ever happen, and some other annoyances would also go away. 

All this "Account" stuff in OSX has got some fundamental issues, primarily associated with what happens when you have a bunch of accounts and old ones go away.

Mail has never had this problem for me, but maybe that one is better about multiple accounts.

The inconsistency is annoying.

Sunday, November 04, 2018

3D work on-screen

Just discovered this:


If you've used OpenSCAD, and you are comfortable with programming, you REALLY need to check that out.

It is NOT an online OpenSCAD, although it's very similar to such a thing. You type in your code, which in this case is javascript plus all the OpenSCAD functions, and you press F5 or Shift-Return, it renders something using the OpenGL interface in your browser.

the basics:

your code has to include:

function main() {

   itemA = cube([1,1,1]).translate([-2,-2,-2]);
   itemB = sphere({r:2,center:true});

    return [itemA, itemB];

The return there is what gets drawn.

This is pretty nifty. Although you might feel like it takes an Advanced Degree(tm) to figure it out.

Note that the ".translate([])" is like, but not identical to, OpenSCAD:

translate([2,2,2]) cube([1,1,1]);

The .translate is a Javascript-style coding. Same thing gets done, but the syntax approach is different.

Looks like it can generate STL output, for going straight to 3D printer (yeah, agreed, you probably have to do the triangle correction step somehow).

It will generate an STL file you can download. I have no idea if it's any good, but the ASCII version is readable.

What you probably cannot do (nor, really do I think I would try) is load/copy/paste your existing OpenSCAD into OpenJSCAD. Not going to work--you'll have to fix it up quite a bit.

Thursday, November 01, 2018

Fallout 76 B.E.T.A. and released game

This game is several things right now (Nov 1 2018):

1) multi-player, which I do not do.
2) Aggravating, which I do not like.

I'm playing on the Xbox, a 1X, on a 4K TV, so it looks beautiful. Far more detail that F4/etc, and apparently a much larger map.

It really seems like you MUST do it as part of a team, because what happens a lot is that you get swarmed by opponents 10 at a time--by yourself you are dead fast. And while you can respawn, you dropped all your "junk" at the death place. You can go back and get it, which is good. But the swarms are aggravating.

It is like playing survival-mode F4. I did not do that mode--the excessive focus on food/water/rads is aggravating--you spend way too much time worrying about them. I don't personally burn through food and water anywhere near that fast, IRL, so it's quite aggravating here.

The card-based "perks" system is aggravating. The Skyrim approach to all this is best; F4 is ok...but it really should be the case that you get better at lockpicking by doing more lockpicking, not by finding a perk card.

You can do PvP if you want, or you can turn that off. Which is good, or the aggravation of having others attack you would lead to servers all being populated by assholes who go around killing newbies.

As it's the Beta, there are problems. One of the worst is that there is a serious issue about clipping. More than once I have found myself "inside" an opponent, that is doing melee hits on me, and because I'm inside it, I can't even see it, so I can't shoot, but I can't even know that it's there.

Do I recommend this game? Well, no, I guess I don't. Not yet. When it's $20. It needs to become less aggravating. Am I going to continue to play? Well, yeah, but not a lot. Can't really play at home, don't have enough bandwidth--or a 4K--but of course the worst thing about multi-player is how to you put together a team? Clans? Not interested even slightly. So if you play solo some, and team some, your team is going to be level-lopsided. That said, it does feel better than ESO; I have that, may have played 4 hours. It wasn't interesting. Only paid $10, not sure it's worth even that. ESO seems very weighted towards teams, too.

Events are weird things. Every so often, in various places, there's an "event", like X is attacking Y, help out for 20 minutes. Morgantown Airport has one, where five waves of "scorched" attack. You kill all scorched in all five waves, in the time limit, you get goodies, and there's a large goodie-box dropped on you. I did this battle once with a friend, and bumped into it solo...turns out if you don't participate, it times out, there's only the first wave, and they stand around being stupid.

You have a portable "C.A.M.P." that is a "base" location. You can build walls, crafting stations, etc. In fact, you really kinda need to. But it's portable, so if you DON'T build stuff, you can relocate the camp.

Excess weight doesn't slow you down, but it takes Action Points to run. Power armor is just like F4: there's a frame, takes fusion cores to run it, and you can eventually put armor pieces on it. I have seen some power armor crafting frames, but no armor, although I know of a place where it does spawn, because friend got it there. Not really that useful unless you are able to find/make fusion cores. In F4 I have approx 100 cores, perked them up to double-duration, and I use PA non-stop. In F76, not clear that you EVER use it.

As much as anything, F76 is about finding or creating useful loot. Occasionally you do find really interesting things: I have a piece of armor that does health regen--I love that stuff.

I think the BETA agreement is that I don't publish anything about the game until it's officially released, in a couple of weeks. So this waits until after that.

Have seen critters attack each other; saw a mirelurk fighting some rats today. Robots fight each other, too. This is good; it can't be true that all the opponents are friendly towards each other. One of the robot varieties is rather much like a headcrab, all jumpy and bitey.

Apparently there are giant bats that look like dragons that somehow create[d] the scorched. A swarm is scorched is aggravating, but they carry guns and ammo. (OK, that giant bat is the ScorchBeast, L50).

Not enough merchants, so you probably do more scrapping than selling.


Released game

Not enough merchants. For sure. Altho I did bump into an L50 Super Mutant wandering Merchant named Grahm; he's friendly, you can trade/sell. Saw him getting attacked by the other SMs at Grafton Steel and doing nothing. Eventually he "woke up" and beat the snot out of them (they were L10, so there was no way it was going to go well for them).

Have found things to be glitchy. The released game seems to have more trouble than the BETA; I would bet that is server issues related to the sudden large increase in players.

It has "crashed out to desktop" on me several times, leading to the conclusion that the BETA was more stable. Well, the server load was less.

Found an L50 Queen Mirelurk. And a L40 "glowing one" protecting a loot cache crate.

A weird thing I've experienced a couple times: some actions suddenly cause the respawn of a batch of opponents. Right next to you. Which then kill you fast.

The weapon swapping UI is terrible. FO4 did ok with this. FO76 is bad. They need to change to the FO4 approach.

You can play OK by yourself. You will want to be careful and stealthy if you do, there are plenty of places where you can get unexpectedly overwhelmed by a crowd.

I don't think the ability to have a "Permanent CAMP" is going to work. Today I wandered past someone's camp...if that is permanent in all map/world instances, one of these days the entire map will be filled with CAMPs. How could it not? Imagine 100 thousand players, each makes a permanent CAMP, that will dominate the landscape as far as the eye can see.

Power armor shows up here/there randomly. You'll find it before too long. I have a frame, have seen several others (which is nifty because you can take the fusion core from each one, and they have had a couple of other pieces of armor...Armor that I can't use yet, but I do have T46 (L25) and T51 (L30) armor pieces.

This is a survival game. You have to manage your food, water, rads all the time. This is really mostly annoying, because you can find enough stuff to drink and eat that there's more or less zero value to having to craft it, or be extra careful about what you're doing here/there. It interrupts game flow.

I did find a piece of "regenerating leather armor" that I am wearing. It seems not to work in power armor? But I do like these items, they let you not have to use your stimpaks all the time. Sleeping works too, but I never do that--where would you be safe? (OK, your CAMP, if you built it in such a way that it was virtually inaccessible from the ground; seen this of course violates physics and construction realities--in essence the weight of all walls/floors/etc is zero, but their strength is you can build in a choke-point corridor killing field where a wad of turrets can shoot anything on an approach vector, because you control the vector)

Monday, October 29, 2018

Incorporating H2 database into Eclipse

So I finally did this.

Here's a decent explanation.

but it goes wrong at the end.

(This is for Eclipse Oxygen; Eclipse Mars can't even do this, on my machine at home; Eclipse Luna doesn't do it either. This is curious, it doesn't feel like a new thing.)

Here's much the same thing over again:

Menubar File->New->Other...

Good god. My pasted-in pictures all got lost. Yeesh. Gotta do them over, saved as files. Yeesh.

Choose "Connection Profile" and "Next"

See this: and click Generic JDBC

Type "H2 JDBC" for the name. (When you try to do this again, you can't use the same name, you'll get told it exists). Click "NEXT", and get a new dialog window.

Click on the strange icon inside the red circle:

See this new dialog:

Click on Generic Driver. Enter H2 JDBC Driver for the name.

If you don't click on Generic, you can't do the next thing:

which is click on "Add JAR". Find your H2 jar file.

Now comes the absurd part. Click on the H2 jar file name. Click on Properties tab button. It's blank. Go back to JAR list. Click the jar file. Click Properties. Still blank. Back to JAR list. Click the H2 file name.

The Edit button will now be active. Click that, the click Cancel in the file dialog. Now click Properties. Yay! props table.

Driver class is org.h2.Driver (capitalized just that way). URL is jdbc:h2:tcp://localhost/wherever-your-db-is. Name is whatever you want as a name. I'm not sure what this is for. Click OK.

enter a password, click "save", click "test connection" to be sure you don't have a typo somewhere.

The tab for "Optional" parameters would be something like mvstore=false; or other jazz.

I don't recommend turning on "connect every time". Regrettably, you'll have to go through this again every time you have a new database, but the end result here is that you can create a .sql file in a project, and connect it to this database, and run sql live right there from in the buffer.

I should have done this years ago...but Eclipse is not really the best of all possible interfaces to H2. Especially since it won't show the result from "SELECT * FROM my_table;", just whether or not it executed error-free.

I have some other tools I wrote for real database interface work, but they don't do text-edit buffer.


Of course, H2 already has to have that database created...I was trying to get a CSV dumped into a single table to practice some SQL with. Just the load was trickier than I wanted.

How to load a table from CSV into H2:

(Yep, I'm looking at some FCC data.)

H2 doesn't give a very good explanation for CSVREAD to load a DB. Tried it before, and spent an hour today trying to guess what it wanted for syntax. It's actually really simple, simpler than it looks in their doc.

INSERT INTO table(col, col,col...) SELECT col,col,col... FROM csvread("file-location.csv");

There's a simpler way if your table will have exactly the same columns as the CSV, but mine had that extra "ID" column first.