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filling the void

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Ember Prime

His hunger gnawed at him. He knew he should have eaten before the mission, but a chance like this doesn't come along very often. He crouched behind a box of mining equipment. Further in to the cave, he watched heavily armed and armored men and women pacing back and forth, their eyes darting around, looking for intruders in the shadows. He had made it this far without too many detections. Nothing he couldn't handle. He'd had to kill a couple of people, but so what? The value of what lay before him in that Orokin vault was just too good to pass up. Besides, they had been Grineer. They cared nothing for his kind, and would have returned the favor the first opportunity they got.
He had gotten the call 45 minutes ago. A vault believed to contain a prime blueprint had been discovered. A prime blueprint he needed. He had had to move immediately, taking his ship through the rail to Mars, dropping in unseen at the edge of the caves. The idea that those cloned meat bags would beat him to the price he'd sought after for so long was worse than the hunger he now felt. He had made his way in carefully, but not too carefully. He knew that at any moment, if it came down to it, he could set the world on fire. He was wearing his Ember warframe for this mission. Sure, it was a copy of copy of a reverse-engineered warframe, but it was his strongest frame. Today, he'd emerge with an even stronger one.
The blueprint in that vault was the final piece of the puzzle he needed to construct Ember Prime. A prime warframe. Made from original Orokin blueprints. Not many of those in existence. Fewer still available for sale. Buying wasn't his style, anyway. He'd pay for good information, but when it came to the acquisition, he prefered to do it himself. Less chance of failure. Less chance to get screwed.
This blueprint would allow him to finally manufacture the Ember Prime warframe that he had been collecting parts for for such a long time. While his current Ember has served him well, there's nothing like a Prime warframe to get that extra edge. Extra power, extra control. Everything just a little bit better. Everything just a little more fine tuned. The Prime warframes were what the Orokin has originally constructed. The Orokin would accept nothing less than perfection in all things. As a result, the Prime warframes were forces to be reckonned with.
Unlike the reverse-engineered warframe blueprints, the prime blueprints were physical devices. Nano-machines in gided housing that contained not only the instructions for how to build the parts, but also the machinery to do so. Sure, they needed to be connected to a foundry to source the raw materials, but the actual construction and control came from the device itself. This was why he had to be there in person. No downloading of copies of blueprints possible. The machine could produce a single device, then it was spent. The Orokin hadn't been around for a very long time, so there was no one around who could construct new ones.
Suddenly there was commotion ahead. Two solders had arrived, carrying a large wooden crate with rope handles between them. A decidedly low-tech carrying solution for such a high tech occasion, but then again it wasn't the box they carrier, but rather what was inside the box. Inside the box, he knew, was a Void key. Void keys, and only void keys, unlock Orokin vaults. How they had gotten the correct key for the correct vault, he didn't know nor care. All he knew was that the soldiers in front of him had just delivered the piece that he needed.
He checked his rifle. Fully loaded.
He checked his energy reserves. Fully charged.
Now was the time. Transference was holding steady.
He stepped out of the shadows.
The first guard, closest to him, its back turned, fell to his blade. The next fell in a hail of bullets.
Now the game was afoot. "Tenno skoom!", the cries went out. He had been seen.
This was his element.
He set the world on fire.
Small meteors dropped down from unseen places in the air, forced into existence by the warframe's combat nano-machines and the energy that fueled them. As the meteors struck the soldiers, he began firing. They were heavily armored, but they were also on fire. An armor is good against bullets, but it does nothing for you if you're on fire. The ones that had been hit with the fire dropped their weapons, clawing at what little exposed flesh they had, begging for the fire to go away. This made them easy targets. A couple of bullets each, and down they went. The ones that were not yet on fire returned fire. Bullets slammed in to his warframe, steadly depleting his shields. He had the upper hand for now, but unless he finished this engagement soon, his shields would be completely depleted, and the bullets would start to actually hurt. Not hurt him, of course. He was safely squared away in orbit, but he was damned if he was going to lose his warframe and the blueprint he had come for.
He rolled sideways, into a corner, and returned fire. One by one they fell, but not fast enough. His shields were almost depleted. He was going to have to do something, and do it quickly. He threw out his reserves of fire accelerant, hoping that his enemies would be stunned. The ones that weren't would still be covered in highly flammable liquids, which, once the fiery meteors of death landed, would make quick work of them. The solders neares him were blinded, accelerant in their eyes. The stopped firing, trying to regain their eye-sight. This was the opening he needed. With the nearest solders out of the way momentarily, he could fire and maneuver, moving so that they were between him and the solders still firing. Bullets slammed in to the blinded solders, as the solders behind them tracked him with automatic fire. He fired into the remaining armed soldiers, taking them down one by one.
Just as quickly as it had begun, it was over. The soldiers lay dead on the ground before him. The only sound being heard in the silence of the cave was his warframe's shields charging back up.
As he approached the wooden crate on the ground, he drew his blade. Can't be too careful here. Can't just riddle the box with bullets to get it open. Can't risk harming the key.
He inserted his blade under the box's lid and levered it open. The nails creaked as they were pulled out of the wood that held them. As he opened the lid, he saw the key. It was a large thing. Large enough to require both hands to hold it. As he picked it up and carried it towards the vault door, it hummed in his hands. As he approached the vault, an iris opened, getting ready to accept the key. The vault had sensed that the correct key was near, and made itself ready to receive the key. To be opened again after all this time.
To the Orokin, this vault had probably been no more than a broom closet, but to this Tenno, it was a treasure chamber with value beyond measure.
He inserted the key, and waited. Waited in the darkness of the cave, lit only by the remaining work lights that had not perished in the fire fight, and the soft glow of the key. It felt like an eternity. Why wasn't the key working? Had he damaged it somehow? A million thoughts rushed through his head. Fear. Doubt. Disbelief. Having come this far only to be thwarted by his own carelessness, and that of the Grineer.
Suddenly, the key started turning. Circles and layers and patterns and lights on the key began to move and turn and slot into various configuration he neither understood nor cared about. As the last piece finally fell in place, he heard a satisfying click. The key had unlocked the vault.
He had to hurry now. Any time the Grineer commander would come, wanting to open the vault for themselves. To claim what lay inside for the so-called glory of the queens. That wasn't going to happen. Not today. Today he was going to emerge victorious. Today he was going to win. The vault door swung open, revealing a space large enough to fit one warframe, but not two. There it was. The gilded cube. No larger than a closed first. As he reached in to grab it, he heard voices behind him. He quickly snatched up the blueprint, elated at finally having the last piece of the puzzle.
"I have what I came for. Time to find extraction", he said to himself. He smiled, briefly. It mirrored something someone had said to him in the past. Someone who was no longer with him. He shook his head. No time for that now. Extracing with the blueprint safely was now his primary concern. As he didn't care, at this point, about being discovered, he decided that a fast exit approach would be the best.
He started running. Sliding where he could, jumping, and gliding. He soon encountered the source of the voices. A very surprised commander, with two soldiers flanking him. "Get clem!", he shouted, but it was too late. As he sped past the surprised Grineer soldiers, they fired after him, but to no avail. Taken by surprise as they were, their aim was not good, and not a single bullet found its mark.
As he was speeding through the twisting caves and corridors underground, he heard more exited voices and shouting. They were aware now that he was here, and what he had done. No matter. He would be out of here soon anyway.
Now more bullets. More Grineed soldiers. More shouting. There, the opening! The entrance to the cave. The way to his ship.
As he approachees the opening at full speed, a Grineer soldier steps into the opening, baring his way. He hears the wind-up of a machine gun, knowing that those bullets will soon slam in to his warframe, cutting this mission short. He pulls out his blade, picking up speed, and crouches down to the ground, into a slide. As he slides towards the surprised Grineer machine-gunner, he slashes out with blade, severing the soldiers legs, and effortlessly glides into the darkness. He's free. Now only the open air remains between him and his ship. He sprints towards the edge of the plateu on which the caves sit. He knows his ship is there. He knows that if he can just make it to the edge, he's home free.
He reaches the edge in a slide, and at the last moment jumps up and out. It's a powerful jump. Clean and clear. As he sails through the air, his arms outstretched, he turns. Now facing down, he sees his ship speeding up to meet him. At the apex of his arch, he makes contact with his ship. The rotating entrance to the ship is turning to receive him. In one fluid motion, he's on the entrance, and without stopping the momentum of the revolution, the entrance rotates shut, and he's in. He's safe.
As the ship accelerates up, out our the atmosphere, and towards the darkess of space, he is content. A successful mission today. A shiny new warframe tomorrow.

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Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Ware Tetraology

I've gotten to perhaps 2/3 (towards the end of the 3rd book) of The Ware Tetralogy by Rudy Rucker, but I have to stop. In the beginning it was great. Now it's just terrible. It's boring, it's slow, and the slang! If you're an author and think that inventing slang for your characters to use is a good idea. Don't!

If this had just been the two first books, I might have lusted after the next Rudy Rucker book. Now, I'm done with him. This has left a bad taste in my mouth, I'm sorry to say...

Thursday, July 12, 2012

On the state of national and international security

Look, I'm tired. I really am. Whenever I turn on the news (read check twitter), I'm bombarded with news stories about some treaty or other that will fuck with the civil liberties in the world, or some warrantless tapping scandal, or some gitmo abuse, or waterboarding, or any other redneck republican shit that we're forced to endure on a daily basis. I'm tired of hearing it, and I want it to stop. I want to read happy news about cars and photography and computer science and puppies and unicorns and all the other fluffy stuff I'm actually interested in.

While I could simply stop listening to the people that bring me this sad news, I don't want to. In fact, I want these people to go on doing what they are doing, and reporting the atrocities they find. I simply want them to have less to report about. I want there to be fewer atrocities committed by governments all over the globe. I want the governments of the world to simply stop what they are doing in the name of security and protecting the children and whatnot, and get back to maintaining roads, running hospitals, and giving us clean water to drink. I want the good news to drown out the bad news. I want to hear less bad news, while listening for more bad news.

tl;dr: Governments, stop fucking over your citizens!

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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Production Values

Yesterday and today I came across some short movies. Some were fan made, others were not. Some were in between. None of them were "real" movies, in the sense that they were feature length, or big hollywood productions. While the acting, props and settings were all fine, you could see that there was a distinct texture difference between them. One of them (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nf75iUZVn7Y)(1) had a very professional look. The other (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q9UwlAAnlmg)(2) did not. Sure, the budgets were different, but the acting seemed similar in quality, and a behind-the-scenes look at the latter one revealed perfectly professional looking equipment, lighting and make-up. Therefor, I wonder, what's the difference in end result? Why do they look fundamentally different? Clearly it's not just a "throw more money at it" issue. Neither of these are simple home videos, they are more-or-less professional productions. The movie in between (http://kinostalker.com/?lang=en)(3) was more professional, and probably longer, than the second, but clearly suffered from the same home video look. Is this a matter of post processing or using filters or lighting or what? I'd be very happy to hear your thoughts.

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Friday, March 04, 2011

Ken Jennings Answers Questions On Reddit

This is all sorts of awesome: http://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/fwpzj/iama_74time_jeopardy_champion_ken_jennings_i_will/
Ken Jennings, it turns out, is not just awesome at jeopardy, but also just an awesome guy. And, for those people who keep track of these sort of things, racked up 47k karma on reddit with a single post. Guy's an instant internet hero.

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Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Android Launcher Replacements

I just tested a bunch android replacement launchers (Android 2.3 Launcher (Home), GO Launcher EX, ADW.Launcher, Home++ beta and LauncherPro). I was giving them a spin to see if any of them could make a good replacement for the sense launcher that I'm currently using on my HTC Desire Z. The thing is that I like the whole Sense integration with email, contacts, facebook, twitter, everything. My problem is with the launcher itself. It has one huge phone button, an apps button, and a horribly useless "personalize" button (a function with is otherwise only 2 clicks away). I had been browsing the forums and reading stuff online about which launchers might be best. It came down to the ones listed at the top. I installed each one of them, and gave them a try.

You know the saying "you never get a second chance to make a first impression"? Well, the first impression I got from all these launchers was horrible. They were all slower than molasses. Clicking icons to start apps would take 2-3 seconds before the app actually started. I'm not talking about the startup time of the app itself here, I'm talking about the time it took for the launcher to understand that I had pushed the button and to start launching the application.

While these launchers deliver some extra things in the launcher part itself, it cannot possible make up for the incredible slowness of the applications themselves. Such a simple thing as populating the app drawer, something sense does immediately (certainly fast enough for me to not notice any delay) would take several seconds with these launchers.

They may be pretty, and they may offer increased functionality, but when it comes down to it, speed is king. When the launchers get down to millisecond start times, I might take another look. Unfortunately, though, I doubt that's going to happen any time soon.

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Saturday, January 29, 2011

Hackers Are People Too

What a fitting price for such an item. Taken from Amazon.com

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Thursday, January 27, 2011

Blue buttons in firefox

Turns out I got a bit more than I bargained for when I ran firefox in XP compatibility mode. Loading local HTML files is difficult, and mouse button (back & forward) navigation no longer works, along with a slew of other small nitpicky problems. I guess I'll have to find another way of making firefox not look like ass in Windows 7.

Edited: Solution: https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/xp-on-vista/


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

No more blue buttons in firefox

I recently started using windows 7. When I did, I noticed that the look of firefox had changed. In windows XP I was used to the back and forward buttons being green, the stop being red, etc. In windows 7, everything is the same godawful blue color. "How do I change firefox in windows 7 so that it looks like it did in windows xp?", I asked myself (and googled for). Well, it turns out that the answer is quite simple. You run it in the windows xp compatibility mode. By setting the compatibility mode to windows xp, service pack 3, the nice familiar look came back. I don't yet know if it'll have any adverse effects, but I'm assuming I'll find out later. Problem solved, and the internet at large was absolutely no help at all. A friend of mine on IRC figured it was worth a try and he was right. Thanks, friend!

As an aside, I can't write for shit these days. It should like someone else is blogging for me. It's like I only have something to say, and I type it up. No sense of style of cadence or anything. It's terrible. In this case, I wanted to share my new-found knowledge with the internet (since a google search gave me nothing). Normally, though, ... Well, like I said, I've got nothing... Maybe next year...

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Saturday, December 11, 2010

The result of playing the whole "cyan - transmissions" album with the windows speech recognition running


Monday, October 11, 2010

Drive-by downloads

I consider myself a fairly computer savvy user. I block ads via my hosts-file, I don't click on untrusted links, i don't run flash except by whitelist, I don't click on punch the monkey. I've never had any viruses, never been infected with any trojans. Until today. Today, I got the "AntiVirus 2010" virus. It's a variation of the other similar viruses that circulated in 2009 and 2008. It basically shows fake virus alerts, prompting you to buy the full version to clean all the fake viruses off your system. Obviously, the only virus, is "AntiVirus 2010".

I was very surprised to get this virus, as I'm a firefox user. I always keep both my windows installation and my firefox installation up to date. I thought I was immune to this crap. I was wrong. I got it by means of a drive-by download. I was visiting fairly innocuous sites, looking at some pictures, and them BAM, out of nowhere, this thing is already downloaded and installed on my machine. There are .exe files everywhere, and it lives in my system tray. I never saw a dialog box or anything.

Perhaps it's my own fault, for not running any anti-virus, but quite frankly, most anti-virus solutions are total fucking resource hogs, and since they are only actually useful in extremely rare cases, they are a total waste of money and cpu cycles (hey, run-on sentence, what the hell, man?).

So I ask you now, what can I do to prevent this shit? Obviously the bad guys are getting smarter and the good guys have their hands full. Clearly being up-to-date is not sufficient anymore. I've installed no-script, but last time I did, I got so frustrated with how bad the internet worked, that I simply disabled it. I guess we'll see how long it lasts this time.

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Thursday, August 26, 2010

what if adobe prevented photoshop from running on os x

what if adobe prevented photoshop from running on os x, just like apple prevents flash from running on the iphone? If nothing else, just to stick it to steve jobs. Who would blink first, apple or adobe?


Tuesday, July 13, 2010

My life's been up and down since I walked from that crowd...

Amen, brother...

Friday, May 21, 2010

Social Networks Share Information Without Permission

Facebook caught sharing secret data with advertisers (arstechnica.com)
Facebook, MySpace, others, sharing personal information w/o permission (wsj.com)
Major social networks (yes, Facebook) sending data about you to advertisers (mashable.com)

Are people actually surprised when shit like this happens? What could make you possibly think that the valuable information that you gave to these companies (facebook, myspace, etc) would not be used by them for profit? No matter what a company says in their policies or EULA or whatever the present you with before taking your personal information, these companies will use your information for profit if they find that the reward is larger than the risk. Either they lie to you and do it behind your back (greater risk) or they simply say "fuck you" and change the terms that you both agreed on (if there was ever any actual agreement. This could simply have been a statement on their website, in which case it's not exactly binding) and share it anyway.

In short, if you can't stand loosing your personal information, don't give it to somebody else!

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Friday, May 14, 2010

Maverick Strada XB

I have a new hobby. An old one, perhaps I should say. I've recently gone out and purchased something that I used to have, but then did not use for a long time. I've gone and purchased a radio controlled (or rc) car. I've had two Kyosho cars before. One electric buggy, and one nitro Corvette. I think my nitro Corvette is still somewhere in a box in my moms storage or something. Too far away for me to play with, in any case. My new car is a buggy. A Maverick Strada XB, built by HPI. It's what's called a "Ready To Run" (or RTR), which means that it came fully assembled with a radio and battery, charger and everything. While I prefer building these things myself, kits are considerably more expensive than RTRs (why?), so I opted for something cheaper now in the beginning.

Today was my first day out with it. I had 4 fully charged NiMH batteries, and I was ready to go. I went downtown to a larger abandoned square, I can't remember it's name, where I had previously seen people drive RC monster trucks (that experience was the first in a series of events which led to this recent purchase). When I arrived, I saw that something was not quite right. This place is made up of cement plates, connected by metal things. These metal things are like lids for the gutters that form between the cement slabs. The problem was that a good 90% of these metal plates were missing or protruding from the ground at odd angles. I decided to try it out anyway. It turns out that, due to the nature of my car (buggy, lot of ground clearance, big tires), these missing plates proved to be nothing more than a nuisance. Driving across them (perpendicularly) was absolutely no problem at all. I flew over these gaps like they did not even exist. Occasionally, I'd hit one going parallel to it, which caused my car to stop, but that was easily fixed by simply lifting it out.

I decided to run two batteries there, and two batteries in the park. Said and done. I'm there, running close to the end of my second battery, when disaster strikes. As I mentioned previously, some of the remaining metal covers were protruding from the ground at odd angles. Unfortunately, I hit one of these. It was sticking out of the ground at about 30-45 degrees. Had I come from the "good" side, this would merely had made it a ramp. Unfortunately, I accidentally hit it from the other side (don't ask me how, I don't even know). This would probably not have been an issue, had it not been for the fact that I hit it full blast, with a fairly sensitive part of my buggy, and it got stuck. Pulling it free, I instantly saw the damage done. My front left shock absorber had a nasty bend in it. So nasty, in fact, that I couldn't even compress the shock. I had effectively gone from 4 nice shocks to 3 nice shocks plus one solid metal stick. Luckily, it didn't impact performance that much, but I felt it sucked that I had to get a new shock absorber after my first day.

Luckily, this is not the end of the story. After coming home and cleaning the car, I went to town on the shock absorber. I got out my meanest tools (read polygrip) and started manhandling the shock absorber in an effort to make it straight again. This would have been considerably easier if I had been able to actually remove more than just the top mount. I had to do this with the bottom still attached to the linkage assembly, and with the spring still attached. Pulling that spring up all the way and holding it with your hand while you exert force on the tower with a large tool is not as easy as it might seem. After about 15-30 minutes, I had gotten it to a place where it would compress almost smoothly. At some point I could compress it fully, but then it would not shoot back out again. Hardly an optimal situation to be in. In its current state, reattached fully to the buggy, it will compress and expand with a small bit of resistance in the middle. I'm going to consider this to be fine for the moment. If another shock breaks, I might buy a set of 2 and replace this one as well, but for now, this will have to do.

As for the driving experience; it was childlike fun. I spent about 1½ hour out there, running down 3x3000mAh and 1x1800mAh batteries. The park was infinitely better than this square, so that's where I'm going back next time. I absolutely love driving radio controlled cars. There was a time when I thought I wanted a helicopter, but cars are simply too much fun. Why I've been away from the sport/hobby for so long, I don't know. I'm back, baby! I managed to get 3 teenage boys to ask me if they could drive (and I let them, since I was such a nice guy), another group of people asking me how much I paid for it (roughly 230 euro), yet another two 4-or-so-year-olds chasing after it with childlike glee, and finally a small puppy playing with it as well. It was a hit for me and the park as a while. I can't wait to go back. Cezara even thought it looked like enough fun that she considered buying one at the same time as me so that we could drive together. In the end, she opted not too, but I think that she might change her mind when she starts playing with mine...

Now all I have to do is to find a track and a club, and I'll be as happy as a fish in water! =)

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Sunday, February 14, 2010

Bing maps

While I haven't actually tested this myself, there's a TED talk from 2010 about Bing maps, and it looks absolutely fucking amazing. Google maps is NOTHING compared to this. In case you don't believe me, and have 8 minutes to spare, watch it yourself and get blown away

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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

They killed my laptop!

Yeah, this is totally a reasonable thing to do: http://www.engadget.com/2009/12/15/airport-security-guards-kill-literally-kill-a-macbook/

I realize that things might be a bit tense down in Israel, but wtf?! I don't know the whole story, but from what I can read in the article above, it seemed pretty unwarranted. Shoot the woman's laptop then let her go? If you shoot the laptop and take her in to custody, I could have imagined that something was wrong, but just shooting it and then telling her, essentially, to fuck off?

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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

"With all due respect, ma'am, you can go jump off a bridge,"


I used to live in the US once. More than 10 years ago now. I was, in essence, also sent to the principal's office when I both refused to recite the oath, and when I didn't want to stand. I got out of reciting the oath, what with me not being a citizen and all, but I had to stand, because the other students were jealous of me sitting down when they were all forced to stand.

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Friday, November 06, 2009


Welcome to Diablo 2.5! After having spent only a handful of hours with Torchlight, I can already proclaim, with a fair bit of certainty the best game of the year. It's made by many (if not all) of the same people who made Diablo 2. I have played countless hours of Diablo 2. It was my goto game for several years, before WoW took hold of me. Anyway, Torchlight is a lot like Diablo 2. So much so, in fact, that anyone who has ever played Diablo 2 might think that this is simply a sequel.

What does differ from Diablo 2, however, and what makes Torchlight a better game (so far anyway), is primarily that there seems to be a more open quest system. As some of you may recall, Diablo 2 had a fixed set of quests that you repeated in all difficulties, until you were "done". This was a fairly small set, 30 quests per difficulty in the last expansion, if memory serves, which made the Diablo 2 end-game more about loot hunting than anything else. Don't get me wrong, I liked that too, but having played a lot of WoW, I really like the almost endless supply of quests that you have. Sure, Torchlight won't be like that, most likely, with a comparatively smaller world to explore, but it does feel like they've given this particular part some though. The other very nice part is that you can have a pet companion that not only can carry things for you, it can go back to down and sell them for you! No more having to TP to town every 3 minutes because your inventory got full. You can also equip your pet (a dog or a cat) with rings, amulets and spells. It's like a better version of the hirelings that you could have in Diablo 2.

For everything else, Torchlight is exactly like Diablo 2. Similar game mechanics, similar interface, hell, even the hotkeys are mostly the same. This, of course, makes Torchlight, for someone who loved Diablo 2, a wonderful experience. If you didn't like Diablo 2, though; Torchlight is probably not for you.

So, if you were not completely against playing Diablo 2, there's a fair chance that you will love Torchlight. I know I already do. Start playing this game today! You won't regret it!

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Thursday, November 05, 2009

It's OK to not write unit tests

This guy is 100% correct. It's perfectly fine to not write unit tests for everything.
I don't even know what to write here. This guy is just so fucking right. Read the article, and follow some of the links. Do it! Stop being a slave to dogma!

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Monday, November 02, 2009

Blast From The Past

I came across this name the other day on the internet: Keill Randor.
It rung a bell, so I started investigating. It turns out that he's a character in a book I read ages ago as a "young adult" that I loved. I no longer have the book (I wonder where all those books went), but I remember it fondly.

Since it is written for "young adults", I doubt that I would like it, should I re-read it now, but it was still quite funny to happen upon this little nugget of my past.