Oh You Poor Ponies – What have you done

Ok everypony. I think I’ve been leaving it a bit too long now. It’s been almost two years and It’s finally time for me to talk ponies again. But I have some sad news for you all. This is not going to be a positive post because, for me, something just isn’t the same about this show anymore.

For some viewers they throughout the show was ruined when Twilight Sparkle, the main character became a princess, for others, it was when they gave her a castle. Perhaps people didn’t light the addition of Starlight Glimmer, a bad character who got a redemption arc and becomes friends with the Mane 6 and a part of the main cast. I haven’t had a problem with her because she gives us a new point of view character to see things through the eyes of every once in a while.

But for me, at least unknowingly at the time, it was when they made the movie. I came into it with a grain of salt thinking this is just going to be some harmless fun and viewed it as such. From my perspective this story could have been told at any point of the story when Twilight became a princess. I can’t even remember if Starlight Glimmer was even in the movie but it mustn’t have been important. Twilight’s castle wasn’t even in it. So at the time I could have thought this was a harmless story about going on a journey, defeating a main character with some entertaining songs and having it never even need to be referenced in the show as something that happened as cannon.

It was referenced as soon as this season started as something that did just happen at that point in time. That wouldn’t have been that bad, but it was what they did afterward that messed things up for me.

Twilight Sparkle, the princess of friendship, has decided based on her journey she has just been on (and after defeating some evil character I can’t even remember any more) that she will open a Friendship School. A boarding school where creatures from outside Equestria (and some ponies inside) can come and learn all about friendship. Why? Because in her words, places outside Equestria DON’T HAVE FRIENDSHIP! We’ve reached the point where the show has applied a mass generalisation, which has even proved not to be true. When they Mane 6 went of that journey, they went to places where there were species that were friendly to them. Yet they apparently anyone who is outside of this country doesn’t know what friendship is and needs to be taught. I could get it they wanted to improve peoples friendship abilities like Twilight at the start of this whole show. But that’s not what they said.

So now we have this school shoehorned into the show and all the main characters are teaching there. It’s not shown in every episode because the main characters are also still living out their everyday lives like the school isn’t even there. So you have to suspend your disbelief that each character is overseeing the full time management of a boarding school whilst also living out their other full time jobs. Rainbow dash is in a military acrobatic flying squad, Rarity is still a fashion designer, Applejack is running a farm, Pinky Pie still works at a bakery (but this can easily be part time), Fluttershy is operating and animal sanctuary and Twilight is undertaking royal duties whist she is also the principal of a boarding school and the others are the only teaching staff! The only other character that has any staff role except for Starlight Glimmer who is the guidance councillor (which has become a running joke because she rarely has anything to do). There was even an episode dedicated to what happens when everyone has to all go on a friendship journey together (something that happens all the time) and the struggles of trying to keep the school going because no one is there to teach. Once again, something that happens all the time and I doubt will never be referenced again.

It’s stupid! This whole premise is stupid! I don’t even think the kids are dumb enough to swallow this idea.

I know. I’m nitpicking the crap out of this children’s show. But there would have been a point at the start of this show when if this idea was brought up, it would have been laughed out of the writing room as a dumb idea. But I guess this show has been going for so long now that they’re desperate to come up with something they haven’t done before. But they also don’t want to end the show so it’s become a husk of what this concept once was. I haven’t stopped watching yet, but I just don’t get exited about this show anymore. I wait for some episodes to mass up, watch them without any great detail of care and still get frustrated and disappointed at what I see. This show started out so well, but I guess that’s how the world ends. Not with a bang, but with a whimper. It might be time to put this horse down now.

So until next time,

Have fun and stay sexy!

S

Grim times with Grim Fandango

Oh my gosh! Grim Fandango has got a horrid control layout! I was expecting it to be like most LucasArts adventure games that are point-and-click. This has no mouse support whatsoever and just doesn’t feel intuitive to me at all. You use the keyboard or numeric keypad to walk around. And there are no visual cues to items that you are focused on. I think I’ll have to be in the right mood to enjoy this.

All I really wanted to do was enjoy a game tonight. I thought having a go at Grim Fandango would be a good idea. I got it installed but the custom launcher I tried wouldn’t work with Windows 98. So I throught I’d just use the standard one it came with. The game wouldn’t even load. It turns out you need to install a patch if the CPU is 400 MhZ or higher. But there is a way to copy most of the data from the CD to the main drive. But the cd needs to be in at all times for it to work. At least I have it working now. But I had to reduce my screen resolution for anything to show up on my monitor. What a nightmare!

I’m not ready for this in my frame of mind. I’m just going to go play Monkey Island instead. So until next time,

Have fun and stay sexy!

S

A Return from Melbourne and a Return to Myself

Well I’m back from my trip. I managed to somehow enjoy myself despite the team losing badly. It’s still a great bonding experience travelling as a group and hanging out with people who know. Some who live in Melbourne that you like saying hi to and others you don’t get to sit with at Adelaide who you get to see more of.

But like every overnight bus trip I end up really wanting the comfort of my own bed by the time I’m about to get home. Sleeping on a bus seat with hardly any leg room whilst wearing the same clothes for days when you haven’t showered is the same length of time can get you feeling really icky. So as I force myself out of bed late in the afternoon, It’s important for me to go through the rejuvenating process. I’ve done this so many times that I have it all mapped out.

It’s best to not have anything on during the next day. I’ve had times when I’ve gone to stuff, but that’s the exception and not the norm. I even know people who have less than three hours sleep and go to work in the morning. I couldn’t possible do that.

I get myself some caffeine and head straight for the shower. In this case it’s a can of energy drink which I drink whist I’m actually in the shower. It stays on a self clear from the water stream, soap suds or water run-off. That way I can wake up whist I wash my days of gunk away. I even have a stool in the shower so I don’t have to stand.

For me, it’s important to get my hair back into shape so it gets a good shampoo and conditioning. My hair gets ridiculous by the end of the trip. There are tangles galore. You think bed hair is bad? Well you should try bus-trip hair. I forgot to pack a hairbrush which I thought would improve things mid trip but I only just thought of it at the last minute.

After the long shower session it’s time for my to dry off and do the last minute bathroom things including giving my hair a blow dry. This isn’t essential but the weather has been cold so I wanted to feel nice and warm. This is important because after I get myself dress I have to leave the house.

Why am I leaving the house when I’m not feeling the freshest? Because it’s time for some nice comfort food. Sometimes I’ll get a curry or some Nandos, but today I am in desperate need of some bonus restoration. It’s time for the big guns. I need a Yiros. Whatever the food is, I make sure it’s something really warm, filling and extra comforting. This isn’t just food. This is a pick me up. And there’s no way I’m making any food today. I could even get it delivered if I’m really needy. But the walk outside also does me good. It forces me to stretch my legs, get some fresh air and realise that the world is continuing and I should too.

But then I get home and take it really easy after that point. In my case today, it’s the point I started writing this post. But after I’m done (at about 7:45 PM) it will be a case of lying in bed and watching something on the computer. It could be some YouTube stuff, some TV shows, a movie or a bit of everything. I might even have some icecream to go with it. But after wrapping up the day and another long sleep, I will be back to my usual functioning self again. So until next time,

Have fun and stay sexy!

S

An excuse to post is HOVERing above me

Well it’s me from the past writing Saturday’s post on a Friday. A few hours have past since my teeny tiny Friday post. I have packed my bag and had a shower. That is all I’ve really done but there was one other thing.

I suddenly remembered a game that came with the Windows 95 CD called hover. I thought it would be nice to get it running and see how that game worked again. It’s a simple game where you’re driving in a hovercraft (probably just an excuse for bad floaty driving mechanics) collecting flags against an AI hovercraft that is doing the same. There are power-ups and booby traps throughout the map including speed-ups, slow-downs, jumping springs, walls you can place, a cloaking device and an electrical shock that will temporarily break your map radar.

When you open the program it tells you that the game doesn’t run well in anything that isn’t 256-colour mode. And, you know what, it’s not right about that. It runs slower in true colour mode even if it doesn’t have any extra colours. There are options to speed up the game by decreasing the graphics, but it’s best just to whack the screen into 256 colours, copy the game to the hard drive and turn the graphics onto best quality for the best experience.

It’s not the most technical game but it’s a good time waster like that pinball game that was on Windows 2000, ME and XP. So until tomorrow,

Have fun and stay sexy!

S

Can’t talk now, I have to pack

The next few days are not going to have the greatest posts in the world. That’s because I have other things on my mind. I have to get ready to go on an overnight trip!

Late this Friday night I will be getting on a bus chartered to go to Melbourne overnight. It’s booked by the Port Adelaide Football Club’s Cheer Squad because the Power is playing Collingwoord on Saturday at the MCG. I’ve been on a few of these trips and whether they are a win or a loss, they usually turn out to be a fun time. I have to pack really light because everything is stored on the bus or on myself, so I can only take a backpack. Showers are few and far between so in this case it’s not important to bring a towel. Just a few spare shirts, socks and some extra clean underwear is all I need apart from my supporter gear and a few snacks for the bus ride.

It travels Friday night and returns on the Saturday evening where it stops in Ballarat for dinner and arrives in Adelaide at about 4 or 5 AM on the Sunday. That day is usually spent catching up on all the lost sleep. So I don’t think I’ll be busy Saturday but also only running on adrenaline.

Well anyway, I’ve got a bag to pack and another post to write and schedule. So until tomorrow,

Have fun and stay sexy!

S

Curing the Curse of Monkey Island CD Issues

Today I have finally gone to the effort of putting Office 97 on my Windows 95 drive. I have finally got what I really wanted back in the day when the old PC was becoming a really old PC. Windows 95 and Word 97. My old PC with Windows 3.1 and Word 2.0 just wasn’t cutting it in the modern day world of the time. Even if it was only primary school, computer classes wanted things like Wordart, fancy page borders and graphs with 3d graphs with gradient colour. The only way I could use any of the work I was doing on my old computer was to save everything as Word 2.0 files. In the end it was all kind of pointless but the writing was certainly on the wall for what was being expected in the future. Eventually in 1999 we got a PC with Windows 98 and Office 97 Small Business Edition, which had work and Excel but lacked PowerPoint. I finally got Everything when I ended up with PowerPoint when I got Office XP Professional in 2002 for my new PC which got me through High School. But it’s nice to finally get the combo that I originally wanted after all.

The other thing I wanted to do yesterday was to play “The Curse of Monkey Island” which I did get going in the end. I Put in my CD and ran the installer which went without hitch. But when I was running things I felt like it was not going as fast as it could. You see, The installer only puts about 2MB of files onto the hard drive and expects you to run everything else off the 2 CD’s is comes with. I guess it’s my expectation of how a game like this should run, but every time a screen changed or a cutscene would happen, there would be a pause for the 4x speed drive to spin up and load everything (I have no idea what speed the drive really is but it ain’t fast). Surely there would be a way to copy the game data off the CD’s so that it made loading times quicker.

My first instinct was to just dump the entire contents of the CD into a folder on my PC. This did not go as planned because the main problem is the program launcher. The only .exe file is a small screen to with a button to launch the game. It only looks for the data on the CD. I guess this is the game’s way of doing copy protection because CD duplication was a really tricky thing in the mid 90’s.

 

So I go to the Internet to try to find a solution. I did find a different launcher that somebody had made. But it “officially” lacked Windows 9x support. It did say it would probably work but it just had not been tested. So I copied this onto my drive and tried to launch it up.

It wanted a specific gdiplus.dll file that wasn’t there.

I’m thinking that this isn’t going to work. But I’m curious to see if finding the “gdiplus.dll” file and putting it somewhere in the system would make it do it’s thing. Searching the Internet further took me to a software company that discussed it. These specific files are on Windows 2000 and up as well as some versions of Windows 98. They provided a copy of it to work with their own software, which I think was some calendar thing. They say to keep it in the same folder as the .exe file. This did the trick and the launcher program boots up.

There is an options button, which lets you copy the game data onto the hard drive. What it does is basically dump the rest of the 2 CD’s into the Monkey Island folder in the Program Files section of the C: drive. It makes the whole install about 1GB instead of 2MB. There are options to run the game fullscreen and windowed. And now it works like a dream.

This works on Windows 95 and Windows 98. There are other launchers on this website for other Lucas Arts games so this should probably work with Grim Fandango and Escape from Monkey Island. Although, if you wanted to play this game on a current version of Windows, you’re much better off using ScummVM to do it.

So until next time,

Have fun and stay sexy!

S

Installing Sim Tower onto my Tower

Today is a pretty lazy day. I don’t really have that much to do as I sit here and eat leftover chinese takeaway from the night before. I’ve been thinking about playing some Monkey Island but the one I want to play is “The Curse of Monkey Island” which needs Windows 95 and I’ve got Windows 3.11 open at this machine. I could turn it off, swap it all over and give it a go at installing but I’m in a lazy mood. So Sim Tower it is.

The install went really smoothly. Just a case of putting in the CD and running the setup application which I did with the run command like most installers tell you. Sure, it’s possible to do it from File Manager, but that’s another program you have to run when resources could be an issue (even if they aren’t in this case). But it does need a Windows restart so I better save this file and go do that.

It ran a weird looking dialog to get the best display settings which I rarely see. I guess it’s because of Windows 3.11. I don’t think it does that in Windows 98 which is the only other place I’ve run this recently. But now it’s going well. I’ve learned that the sound effect stop when another application is in the foreground.

Sim Tower is similar to Sim City in that it is a game where you managed some infrastructure and income. But that’s about it. You are creating a building that contains different elements like shops, hotel rooms and condos. It’s only a 2 dimensional tower with a front on look but it’s still pretty engaging. There is no real endgame or goal other than to make a structure as lavishly as possible while still being financially viable. Certain additions to you tower are unlocked when you achieve certain goals like population, positive ratings and the installation of certain fixtures. It’s a nice timewaster.

I remember playing this on a computer at school on Windows 95. I wanted it because it was clear to me that this could run on Windows 3.1 at a time when that was the computer I had access to at home. So it was one of the more recent games that was still in stores I could play. This could have been around the time when I had a 386 machine in my bedroom with it’s really crappy small hard drive around 1998-ish. So I have a feeling this was the first PC game I had bought for my own computer (although I don’t think it was with my own money).

Well that was a nice trip down memory lane for me. So until next time,

Have fun and stay sexy!

S

When Disney lost it’s Disneyness

Today’s tea is a licorice tea. Yes, just for today I have decided to bring back the tea. It may be only because I happened to have it on me and I was thirsty but I’m damned well going to mention it! If I’m doing that then I may as well start writing about Eurovision and Ponies again. I do actually have a few episodes to catch up on with the ponies. I haven’t been as into the show recently because of the direction it’s been taking. But I’ll let them amass up and binge instead of doing it week by week like the days of old.

I was once looking through the local Big W and there was a stand of Disney books. Just the usual story book fare with a mix of Disney classics as well as more current ones. It’s a big seller for Disney and I remember books like them from my childhood. But one of them caught my eye. That was 101 Dalmatians. I was curious about some things. And I just had to flip through the pages to see if my suspicions were correct. To the usual passer by, they wouldn’t have noticed anything unusual, but to anyone who knows enough about the history of Disney animation like myself, they would see something glaringly wrong with this picture.

If you asked someone to describe a main distinction of the classic Disney artstyle, you would have so talk about it’s soft outlines. And yes, this picture has the soft grey outlines. That is exactly what is wrong with it.

Because this movie doesn’t have any soft lines.

Quite a number of Disney movies don’t actually have any soft lines in them. For example, The Jungle Book doesn’t have them either. So what exactly is going on here? What’s the story behind it?

Sleeping Beauty came out in 1959 and was, at the time, a financial flop. There was a lot of effort put into the movie as well as a lot of time and money. Each animation cell was drawn painstakingly by hand. They had always made their movies this way. It took a long time but good work takes time. But it was taking too long for Disney make their animated movies. More films on a more frequent release schedule for less money. That was what would keep the animation department financially viable.

The answer was something called Xerography. This could be simplified to, photocopying the animation cells. Instead of drawing each cell by hand, the studio could have a set of outlined master cells that could be duplicated through the photocopier in whatever size was needed. Then the colours would only need to be filled in to finish the cells. The result was a dip in quality, but hopefully the audience wouldn’t notice.

So the 1961 movie One Hundred and One Dalmatians was an experiment of sorts. Was it possible to use the cost and time cutting measures of Xerography and have a hit? It makes sense when you look at the movie. The Dalmatians are all in black and white so it lends itself to photocopying really well. There is even a scene where the dogs are all disguised in soot to make them all black. Even easier to photocopy! There was a great deal riding on the success of this movie. In fact, the entire animation studio was at the risk of closure because of how badly Sleeping Beauty had under performed. Beauty had made $51.6 million on a $6 million budget, but it had taken almost eight years to make so needed a more significant return. In comparison, Dalmatians was made with only $3.6 million and was made in less than 2 years. It made $215.8 million. The gamble had paid off! If Disney could use this technique and maintain a more frequent release schedule, it could make bank. The animation studio was saved.

I think in hindsight there was a lot more going for the two movies. For example I find Sleeping Beauty to be much more of a slog to watch. It’s a Princess movie but while Aurora, the Sleeping Beauty, is the main character, it it’s not Aurora that gets the main focus. Instead it’s the three fairies and their relationship with Maleficent that this story is about. Maleficent is truly the star and I can see why the remake does to her what Wicked does to the Witch of the west in The Wizard of Oz. I should really go and watch Maleficent to be honest. But while Beauty has a lot of detail in it’s artstyle, the film feels slow and dreary, whereas Dalmatians feels like it’s moving at a much better pace with characters that contain more depth.

But in the land of business, it’s the numbers that make the most sense. Xerography movies are a go go! They didn’t care that the quality had dipped a bit. They could make them much more easily and frequently. Two more animated movies were made during Walt’s lifetime. The Sword in the Stone and The Jungle Book. Both of these were Xerography movies as well as many more after. But not only did the visual quality go down, so did their storytelling.

Welcome to the Dark Age of Disney.

I will plan to follow up on this when I try to find where things started to turn around. Because obviously they did. Disney has it’s soft edges back to the point where they’re even drawing them in books from films that didn’t even have them. So I plan to find out when it was that they came back. But I’ll need to do my research by watching some footage. So until next time,

Have fun and stay sexy!

S

Obsessed with old PC Parts

Today I stare at the screen of one of my old computers wondering what to write about. Behind me there are plastic tubs of PC stuff that I have amassed over the last year or so. I guess that could be worth writing about. Why do I have so much old IT stuff. What do I do with it all? What did I intend to do with it?

I was watching YouTube videos of people who mess around with old computers and it gave me the bug to start playing around with them too. I still had my old PC that I had from 2002. It used to run Windows XP, but not very well in the end. It wasn’t the fastest machine in the world but it was my PC. It had a 1.1 GHz Intel Celeron Processor (from the P3 era), 256 MB of SD Ram, a 40 GB hard Drive, integrated graphics and only PCI slots. It did have driver support for Windows 98 which I discovered actually runs way better.

But I wanted something better. I wanted it to be the best Windows 98 computer that I could make it. I wanted to use my newer PC. My AMD Athlon 64 PC I built in 2007. The first PC I built from parts. My PC I had 4 GB of DDR2 RAM for but could go up to 8 GB if I tried. The motherboard with a PCIe graphics slot that I had a Geforce 8400 in. My PC with SATA so I could use an SSD if I wanted.

That is when I discovered that drivers were a real issue. No chipset drivers. The onboard sound wouldn’t work. PCIe cards wouldn’t work. I couldn’t get more than 16 colours and 640×40. Also that too much RAM won’t let Windows 98 boot. But I had workarounds. I found smaller RAM sticks. I had bought a new PCI GPU and a new sound card to make my other machine work better. It still worked without chipset drivers. But it didn’t seem right.

I had started looking through OP shops for older PC’s. And I found a better candidate. It was a Pentium 4 era machine that had Windows 98 driver support. I had something way more stable even if it lacked AGP slots like all my other PC and STILL had just a Celeron (But a 2 GHz Celeron none the less). It had 256 MB of DDR1 RAM. Perfect! I still had my Audigy 2 ZS sound card I had bought as well as my PCI Geforce FX 5600 card. I had something way better.

But then I got the real tip. Look into the E-waste recycling. People are throwing out their old PC’s just because they’re upgrading or they thing their whole computer is broken when it’s just one part. This is when the collecting became crazy. I was getting hardware from left and right. For next to nothing too! It became a real hobby finding it, finding out what works. Finding out what the best I could do with the hardware. I have the most suitable sound cards, graphics cards, motherboards with AGP support. Sure, it wasn’t always the greatest and there it so much stuff that is hard to find that I haven’t come across. There are things that do need some TLC because of broken stuff. But it’s repairable broken stuff.

I also still get the occasional things on eBay that are new but compatible. I love the IDE to SATA adaptors that let you use modern drives with older computers. Windows 98 on an SSD is a sight to behold. It’s not as blisteringly fast as a modern machine because of the speed limits of IDE. But it’s the fastest that IDE can do which is still better than any old spinning Hard Drive. They have larger capacities too. That was always my limits with using all this older tech back in the day. My drives were always too small.

It has now got to the point where I could have a great machine from many different eras. I have a great PC for Windows 98. A great PC for Windows XP. An excellent DOS PC. I could make a great Windows 2000 machine too.

I really wanted my Windows 98 machine because I wanted to mess around gaming with it. But I’ve spend more time just playing with the different hardware that it’s become the greatest game of all. But I am starting to slow it down. There is only so many times you can see wether or not a CD drive works or a specific motherboard. I want to play around with some stuff that I would need to spend real money on to obtain. A 3dfx VooDoo card. A Gravis Untrasound card. A top of the line Nvidia Geforce 4 or an equivalent Radeon.

I also need to go back to making a setup that is practically usable for what I want so I can enjoy the games I want to play.

But I’m also thinking of selling some of this stuff I have amassed. Especially if I keep collecting it like I am. I know what I’m doing but there a plenty out there that don’t There a plenty of people who might want an old PC like me. Something that runs better than a VM or using Dosbox. I could easily make compatible machines if I can have a more reliable supply of things that are trickier to come across. Stuff like the retail SB Live sound cards or the more decent graphics cards. Reliable storage solutions and the like. I would need to suss out the current eBay market and see if I could make it viable. Not as a fully blown business but at least as a way to finance this hobby of mine.

So Until Next Time,

Have fun and Stay Sexy!

S

I’ve Hit the Wall Again

This is the moment. The moment I was afraid of.

When I was wondering if I wanted to do Blaugust again I wasn’t indirectly thinking about this point, but it was probably there subconsciously. I didn’t want to do thins if I wasn’t going to enjoy it. If it felt like a chore. If it felt like I was doing it just for the sake of doing it.

I’ve hit the wall.

It’s not necessarily because of creativity. I do have so much I want to write about. It’s the focus that is the issue for me. I need to be in the right mindset. And I don’t feel like I’ve been in that right mindset recently. I’ve noticed it in my last few posts. I’ve been writing about unengaging things. I’ve been putting those arbitrary time constraints on myself. Like I feel like if I don’t write every day then I’ll stop writing. Like this is getting in the way of other things. Like I feel busy even when I’m not.

It’s a mixture of things in my everyday life as well. Just the general mood and the way that my days have been going. Everything in the background like the environment I’m in, the weather and the people around me.

But looking back to the blogging, I’m getting those uneasy feelings again. I’m trying to do this in a way where I shouldn’t have to care if people are reading or not. But the truth is that I do care. I want to feel like someone is seeing this and taking notice. Yet I don’t want people to see me putting out something I’m not proud of. It turns into this total mess of feelings that I wonder if it’s genuinely worth it.

This is the point where I emotionally packed it in last year. I could see that nobody was watching my videos. I wasn’t proud of them. I could feel I wasn’t getting my sense of accomplishment that I would have liked to have felt had it all gone well.

So I feel like I need to do a reassessment. Do I go back tomorrow and keep going? Because I don’t feel the desire to keep going if I’m not enjoying what I’m doing. It might be beneficial to take a day off perhaps. Or to write something later in the day if I’m feeling more up it.

So until I more in the mood,

Have Fun And Stay Sexy,

S