Sunday, December 29, 2013

The server is up, and there was much rejoicing

I also updated my "Defunct Kmart List" after almost a year. Check them out in the links above.

Saturday, December 28, 2013


Sorry for not updating recently, we're still trying to get the "meat" of the website up and running.

Here are the things I got for Christmas.

My siblings got me these games. Munchkin is great, though I have now two different sets that are generally incompatible with each other (the other one is zombie-themed)

Books. I tend to like books, but these aren't exactly what I had in mind. I like cookbooks, but one from the "Better Homes & Gardens" will be staying at my parents' house (they got it from Half Price Books' clearance, so no hard loss). The other, "Captain Easy", I had to look up online to see what it was. It might be fun to go through it once, but 1930s newspaper serials are hard to follow, especially when they aren't redrawn into collections later. The others are a bit less useful since I've completed most of college by this point.

VIDEO GAME T-SHIRTS. YESSSSSS. And an Oak Ridge National Labs shirt.

Candies bought from an British import store in Houston, and a bag of coffee.

More "practical" gifts, though the Austin map is a bit of a "fun" thing since I do enjoy maps of that sort. Even though it's older (note the used bookstore tag on it), it DOES show some of the new toll roads which were put up recently (even if it's "opening fall 2007"). Not shown: a $25 gift card to H-E-B, and a new keyboard which I'll pick out later.

It's not everything I asked for (a lot of it I didn't) but Christmas was great to spend with my family, and that was great. Step two: go to Amazon for the things I need/really want but didn't get. Example: EXPO markers.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

A Carbon-izer Christmas Eve

The Christmas Eve I had 12 years ago was a memorable but happy one. My first Burger King Crossian'wich (I also got a BK Kids Club "newsletter", by that time the Gang had pretty much disappeared). Said newsletter had Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring stuff with 12 collectible toys. I'd love to scan it and show it to you, but unfortunately, despite storage, it was found by my cat who significantly damaged it. Regardless, it was a bit strange to see some toys and rather simple puzzles contrasted with a somewhat violent PG-13 film. It was great going to Baton Rouge, playing Rockin' Kats, and all that, but this year was marked with a breakdown, news that my younger cousins got swine flu, and the time when Die Hard was outvoted by Scrabble and Kung Fu Panda.

Regardless, it was still enjoyable, though I was still saddened by continuing changes along State Highway 6. Calvert had recently demolished this old building, even though it had been lacking a roof for more than a decade. I never was able to find its address, even today, and a Sanborn Fire Insurance map only shows that it was a pool hall and shooting gallery a century ago.

I also tried some more head cheese this morning, which I bought the other day. For those that don't know, it is a cold cut that involves cooking various undesirable ham byproducts (snouts, tongues) with spices and letting them congeal together. While obviously not a "delicacy" (there's some soft cartilidge-y stuff to go through), it is interesting, though I've had trouble convincing others to try it ("Pork snouts" being the first ingredient). Hopefully Santa will come tonight.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

The Sunflower Motel

A picture postcard from a motel, that with some Google-based research, was torn down in 2005.

This was from my late great uncle, the checkmark is which room he stayed at.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Notes on yesterday

- Watched Thor: The Dark World. Disregarding the fact that movies tend to screw up somehow when I'm watching them in theaters (they didn't get the sounds and lights correct for the first 10 minutes), another of the post-Avenger films just doesn't seem to be as great as the previous ones. Sure, there were some great moments (better than Iron Man 3, I felt--which I didn't care for) but I felt that the stinger (Loki faking his own death and replacing Odin) mucked with the happy ending and good sacrifice of Loki, though in fairness, he did save Thor and Jane.

- Played The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker. I discovered an old save file from 2005 of mine but I decided to go for a new file (honestly, I never got past anything beyond landing in the Forsaken Fortress). Like Ocarina of Time, all the major plot elements have been spoiled, but it's a blast. And with the release of The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD, it becomes timely as well!

- Tried "Thai Kitchen: Pad Thai" microwave dish, which I wanted to try since I got it with a bunch of other food items for my birthday a few months back. Despite obvious warning signs, such as overwhelmingly negative reviews on Amazon, the noodles smelling like Play-Doh, and a few other facts, it created a foul smell in the microwave, and I tossed it. The contingency plan: a fully-loaded baked (microwaved) potato worked better.

- Learned the sad fate of MobyGames and how its new corporate owner botched the site layout (unchanged since '99 and a bit dated, but it worked and worked well). It's a shame, because it was comprehensive, well-known, and other alternatives are awful.

Friday, December 13, 2013

What to write

The hard thing about a blog (and now a website) is what to write. No more politics (at least very often)...that seems bitter and won't make you friends. Video games too make you seem like an embittered nerd. Stuff that would be better on Facebook is too narcissistic. I suppose what I should do is just what strikes my fancy, I suppose.

Frankly, general blog writing should take a backseat to the new things coming up. I plan to launch another feature "Carbon-izer U", featuring educational stuff, and of course plan to pad out those others up there, but I need server space (Dropbox seems a bit risky to host HTML pages on long term). That's why, when linking to the stuff that I have up there now, don't link directly to them. That all should be sorted out later.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

A Word on Raising the Minimum Wage

With all this talk about raising the minimum wage, particularly for fast food workers, no way would I even come close to supporting that when those clowns often do at least one of the following:

1) Screw up the order somehow: worst case is if they charge you for something without actually serving it
2) The old problem where you're the only one in the restaurant, it takes forever, and your food is still somehow lukewarm
3) Blatant food safety violations (I stopped going to a certain Burger King after watching someone assemble my sandwich without gloves)
4) Fry container knocked over in bag.

Meanwhile, burgers get smaller and price continues to climb, so that's a strike against the industry as a whole (and no, having a TV that plays news will not make me like fast food more).

The whole idea is bad. Good workers who care about what they're doing should get higher wages than those that don't care (and move up the career ladder, as they should), and anyone striking should be on the short list for firing--there's a bunch of teenagers and college students out there who will happily do it for the same price and deliver service with a smile. Debate is welcome.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

1990s Games and Other Systems

Last night, after a weary hit of finals, I wanted to play some games, but the only things that came to mind on the SNES emulator were The Lost Vikings and Final Fantasy VI, prompting me to give "Boxer", the DOSBox-based Mac tool a spin. While Boxer performs beautifully, my distaste with DOS began to formulate. Ignoring the fact that DOS is a nasty, cryptic mess, it's true that DOS got tons of good games for the 1990s--the market share was huge, but as a gaming machine, it's terrible.

In one corner, there's the Mac, with a superior user interface, with higher resolution, and even decent sound (the Mac's native sound chip won't blow anyone away, but didn't need expensive sound cards like DOS did to not sound like garbage). In the other, there's the SNES and Genesis. While neither could handle CD-based games very well (Sega CD was not exactly a revolution, and of course the SNES had no CD input at all), and the SNES had the Genesis beat in nearly every category (though the Genesis had a few neat features and some extremely effective marketing).

This isn't the case anymore, as between the Mac and PC you've got a formidable system. Console games just aren't what they used to be, and Nintendo has fallen onto a third-tier system riding on its extremely popular franchises and multiplayer-focused abilities.

I'm not going to turn this into a whole "consoles vs. PCs battle", even though one of the reasons why computers are superior gaming machines is not just upgradeable specs, affordable software, and non-game uses, it's also the ability to play legacy software with not much effort. Consoles are still superior in other aspects, particularly in the ease of use in setting something up to play, the fact that even when buying old games, they're tuned to the system (emulators for systems made after 1994 often require a lot of fiddling to get to work properly, if they do work properly at all), and nothing beats playing games on the TV.

In 2011, I gave up on the Nintendo fanboyism and accepted computers as the superior system (getting a Steam account, though I have far less games than you'd think) but still have a love for the vintage, particularly consoles.

One thing I've always wondered about is the fall of Sega. Atari's fall stemmed from some awful and arrogant choices back in the mid-1980s and any efforts to return post-1984 were undermined by Jack Tramiel's control (reminds me of a certain discount store/department store company, whose name rhymes with "tears"), but Sega's was different. The Sega CD notwithstanding (it was awful looking back, but at the time wasn't a bad idea), the real problem starts with two bad choices in the mid-1990s:

1) The Sega Saturn's botched launch, screwing over discount stores and having very few games at launch
2) The Sega 32X.

Now, I know that the Saturn was an extremely expensive console ($400) but I think had it launched with the ability to play Genesis cartridges and Sega CD games, it would've at least given a boost in the "software" department.

The Dreamcast of course had other problems, and even if the Saturn had backwards compatibility it had other problems (particularly difficult development problems--it rendered everything in quadrilaterals instead of the industry standard of triangles, which warped textures at best).

The Nintendo 64 was sadly doomed either way. The N64 had great games, but cartridges held a fraction of the data CDs did and were more expensive than CD games (games never went below $30, many new releases were $70-$80, and that was late 1990s money). If Nintendo 64 had released the 64DD as planned and even managed to get the storage size upped to equivalent CD sizes (the disks were planned as 64MB, as opposed to Super Mario 64's 8MB, but cartridges eventually got to that size by the time Conker's Bad Fur Day rolled around in 2001, and that was puny compared to the 550+ MB capacity CDs had), then it could've worked, but that would've made the machine even more expensive. From there on out, every system was awful was in a special way. The GameCube's problems were detailed in the 2011 post, and the Wii, released in late 2006 (a fantastic time in the history of Nintendo, which I am absolutely sure we'll never see again) was completely unlike anything on the market and lowered the barrier to entry to video games by creating a new controller, was the "Virtual Console", which re-released old games from the NES, SNES, and N64, which you bought off the system for a small fee. Although there were some mixed feelings about it then, notably a flat $5 price for NES games which seemed reasonable for classics (The Legend of Zelda, Super Mario Bros.) but a waste of money for others (Donkey Kong Jr. Math, Pinball). It also made you feel better since you pirated all of them years earlier but refuse to pay some jacked-up price at the video game store.

It sold a ton of systems for years but really fell apart later, marred by shovelware, the inferior power compared to the 360 and the PS3, and the controller working against it when it came to games. The Wii U...well, the less said the better.

In the end, there is going to be no "super system". Even the vaunted computer systems often need a lot of tinkering to play games, even ones released on older variants of same system.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Movies again

While I didn't see Frozen with my cousins like planned (the 4:20 show sold out, next one at 7:50, which was too late for me), I have seen a bunch of movies that I didn't see before.

Forrest Gump, which I saw immediately prior to the vacation was one that I can finally check off of my "movies to watch" list. While I didn't love it like others, it's great to fully get all the quotes and whatnot. It heavily implies that Jenny dies of AIDS, likely to due to heavy use of drugs/needle exchanges, but she looks awfully healthy for someone dying of AIDS. If my art history class I took at a community college a few years ago taught me anything, AIDS caused many formerly healthy people to waste away. The best thing about Forrest Gump was that a sequel wasn't made. Gump & Co. would've followed Forrest up to 1995, with the Oklahoma City bombing, except a few problems visible already is that the plot would've assumed O.J. Simpson was innocent (an egregious error that would've been frowned at by now), ends on a clearly bad note, and is too short (the original covered basically from the early 1950s to the early 1980s, whereas the sequel would've been about ten years).

Beetlejuice was an enjoyable but weird movie. Yeah, it was kind of funny, full of crazy claymation stuff, but the pacing seemed off, and I was a bit surprised of how they got away with using the F-word in one scene (and still kept their rating). Conversely, Gump got PG-13 for not much more (except, perhaps, the principal's grunting when Forrest's mom has sex with him to get him into public school).

Monty Python & The Holy Grail was one I hadn't seen before but needed to see for the cultural references (Ni!) was one of those movies that seemed to get away with a lot for a PG rated movie (Airplane! I heard was another). I generally did like it.

I also tried fruitlessly to get an N64 emulator working with a controller I had (the axes are all screwy), plus they released an update that won't work on my system. Another day, though--I got the other buttons completely mapped out from trial and error.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

The new Carbon-izer

Welcome to the New Carbon-izer. I still intend to update this blog, but I've added new things. I intend to give the page a new coat of paint.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

I made a YouTube!

10 views already! This is good stuff. Check Two Way Roads soon enough in regards to it.

Monday, November 4, 2013

The Smell

I woke in a half-asleep grogginess Sunday (4-6 am, due to the ending of DST) to a familiar smell in my nose. A second of identification remembered it as the smell of my uncle's old house in Baton Rouge. Not the upstairs (that could be achieved with the Nintendo Powers and poor ventilation, the latter of which isn't an issue anymore), but the downstairs, the first thing you would smell as you ventured toward the guest bathroom (not the inner vestibule with the toilet, but the one with the sink). Instantly I felt a new vigor in me, returning to the place that I hadn't been in for nearly 2 years. I began planning a project that I hadn't done in a long time...but then as I woke up, the smell was gone, and the project that I wanted to do forgotten. Was it all my imagination...?

Friday, November 1, 2013


Over at Brazos Buildings & Businesses, I bemoan the lack of a creamery at my home college while there is still a creamery at a rival school, LSU. At first glance on Google Earth, LSU doesn't look so bad, they have many of the same amenities, it doesn't seem like cronyism has taken over the campus, and the off-campus eateries and shops are comparable to the bar wasteland up here. Baton Rouge is a larger but not necessarily better city (no H-E-B or Kroger, but there is a Trader Joe's now), and they have a way cooler mascot: a real tiger. We have a collie, which is lame.

But if there's one thing I'll never get about LSU, it's this "Geaux". As in, Geaux Tigers. It's a French-derived suffix that is pronounced as "oh", so that translates to "Go Tigers". But I'll never get it, and it always comes to me as "ghee-ox tigers". That's just how it is in Louisiana, which does give it some culture (something one of my least favorite states, Ohio, does not have). I don't know what the limits of using the "eaux" suffix is, but I hope it's anywhere where it replaces an "oh" sound, so we can have the Pillsbury Deauxboy and "Breauxs before Heauxs", or perhaps putting Sweet & Leaux into your coffee. It nevers sneauxs in Louisiana, and...okay, I'll stop now.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Total recall?

I found out that prior to my physics class I'm taking in college, there's a prerequisite quiz. It's nothing too horrible, in fact, they're all high school concepts, which are often shrugged off in college (an alarming number of people tend to use calculators for even the simplest of multiplication). One part dealt with linear travel along a not-quite-linear line on a graph. The solution (I thought) was to divide things up into triangles and use the old "base times height times .5" formula, and then work from there. Great.

The next part dealt with the meaning of cos, sin, and tan, also known as one of the many unholy trinities high schoolers come across. Instantly I recalled "SOH-CAH-TOA! That's it!" but immediately came across static after that, and I had to do some Google-searching to know what they mean. Of course, part of the problem is that I really don't want to recall high school in general. In fact, I've succeeded in convincing myself that high school was far better than it actually was. On the other hand, I had also convinced myself that the high school was a labyrinthine dungeon (although they recently renovated to try to dispel that) stuck in a deteriorating neighborhood, which may or may not be really true.

Returning to the graph problem, I found that there was a problem, as some were far more than others. Horrified, I realized that bh(.5) wasn't for measuring hypotenuses, but measuring area.

So assuming that x and y were the sides of a right triangle, we would get for measuring the hypotenuse.

This is all rather troubling as the more I remember about what I learned in high school, it also brings to light the negative aspects of high school (and not just academics, EVERYTHING) which undermines the belief that high school wasn't so bad.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Houstonia magazine

One of the worse things on the Internet (but not the worst) are lists. Always clickbait, mostly in the slideshow format, and usually poorly researched.

However, that didn't stop me from being intrigued by "H-Town vs. Big D: 273 Reasons That Rivalry's Over And Why We Won", the cover story of Houstonia, one of the magazines that my work carries that wasn't there when I started working there. Well, that did pique my interest somewhat, and given that I tend to hold magazines in higher regard to the Internet (generally), I looked up the article when I got home. Houstonia is one of the magazines that tries to go for the entertaining and informative, a bit like early MacAddict, except while MacAddict at least made a pretty strong effort to show that they were fun, interesting, cool people, Houstonia's writers are like "friends" you have at bars. They're slimy if you know actually them, but once you've had enough booze, that doesn't matter.

Obviously, with its 250+ reasons, there are bound to be some that are tongue-in-cheek. The problem is, ALL of them seem to be so. Some of the particular ones that got to me is how Houston is better than Dallas because Dallas invented convenience stores and ATMs, and that's bad somehow, or how there's numerous ones about how unpretentious Houston is (irony), or some hyper-subjective craziness (like Dallas not having liquor stores on every corner), or ridiculous sweeping generalizations.

Oh, there's others too, from stretching boundaries, like how they claim they've got Texas Renaissance Festival, which is 25 miles outside of the edge of Houston (that's regarding some odd gerrymandering with city limits, in reality it's closer to 35 miles). To put in perspective, that would be like College Station taking claim to Hempstead, which itself can be considered a Houston suburb.

There's also some incredibly poor research: Steak & Ale went bankrupt about five years ago, or the fact that they completely discounted the Dallas farmers market. They even believed (falsely) the Asian district was some strip malls in Richardson (it's more than that). They even played the old "Some of My Best Friends Are X" un-ironically. Or maybe it is supposed to be ironic. Or maybe it's because they don't know how stupid they sound. Or maybe it's just another tongue-in-cheek entry. Or perhaps, it's ALL tongue in cheek, and the idea was to mock not Dallas, but the idea that there is some sort of rivalry at all. In that case, it would be pretty brilliant, if a bit poorly executed.

If it WAS meant to be mostly serious, it's worth saying that a good editor could've whittled down their 273 reasons down to a 50, cutting out some of the nonsense (SNL quotes, falsehoods, extreme subjectivity, tongue in cheek stuff, etc.) and creating a more compelling list that could reasonably be taken seriously. Less is more, you see, but that doesn't matter, because their purpose is to sell magazines, not to tell the truth (like most mass media).

Of course, the Houston-Dallas "comparison" is an example of how the magazine is objectively terrible. Regurgitating listings from a 1983 Texas Monthly listing? Hardly journalistic integrity. It's great material for a blog post to be certain, but a magazine? Not so much. (The writer is John N. Lomax, who fired back at Keep Houston Houston, another left-wing leaning Houston blog with a bit of tounge-in-cheekiness, except backed up by someone smarter. Even he bashed this horrible magazine. The bright side is Houstonia magazine is relatively new (less than a year, actually) and hopefully it will shrivel up and die like many magazines (some longer-lasting and better ones, that is) do. Or maybe they'll improve, which is unlikely.

It's all such a shame because new magazines are pretty rare these days. The format of Houstonia in particular isn't clogged with ads like many of its contemporaries are, and there is a lot of great things about Houston. Too bad the magazine is terrible.

OK, to Houstonia's credit, it did teach me how to quit mangling a few names: "Kuykendahl" is pronounced "kirk-en-doll", not "koi-ken-doll". I knew Bissonnet, and I probably should've known about "Fuqua".

EDIT: I want to take back some of what I said Houstonia magazine, as I learned that the Houston/Dallas rivalry runs pretty deep, so it's important that they find as many reasons as possible, even if most of them are pretty silly. In an alternate universe, an article in Dallasia magazine is pointing out how "Dallas" comes first in an encyclopedia before "Houston".

Monday, July 22, 2013

Thoughts after seeing a re-release of Back to the Future

So I recently saw a special re-release (as part of a "Classic Movies" event wherein the cinema has old movies every week with limited showings) of Back to the Future. It was fantastic: I saw details that I never noticed before and probably aren't visible with standard screen sizes (in case it isn't obvious, I don't have a huge home theater setup). It was then I decided that they really shouldn't have made any sequels, as sometime after the release of BttF someone decided it should be a trilogy. While II and III weren't bad movies (though the late Roger Ebert wasn't too fond of them), it created all sorts of problems for continuity and introduced numerous new plot threads. Here's why they should've stayed at one movie. In case it isn't obvious, major spoilers ahead:

1) They replaced Claudia Wells (Jennifer) with another actress, following some sort of breakdown Wells had. They also replaced Crispin Glover (George) after he requested too high a fee. Actor changes are never good: that was one of the reasons I didn't like Iron Man 2 too much, because they replaced Rhodes' character with someone else who looked and sounded nothing like him (and frankly, after seeing Hotel Rwanda, it didn't seem like a good fit for the new actor anyway)

2) Showing 2015 was ridiculous, as it was fun to see hints of "the future" (specifically, the flying car and Mr. Fusion) but not so much to actually have Hill Valley 2015. Silly, stupid, and unnecessary.

3) Even after being punched out by George in 1955, Biff is more than ready to repeatedly kick Marty in the stomach, and in 2015 Biff is still a bit of a bully. This doesn't introduce, but makes worse a problem from the original film: if George stood up to him, then why is Biff working auto detailing instead of bullying and building off the success of another schmuck?

4) Creating a character flaw for Marty in between two movies? And in the Original 2015, he suddenly seems to forget everything he learned in the first film after the wreck with the Rolls-Royce in 1985?

5) The multiple playing of actors is weird: the enhanced breasts/wig/gaudy clothes Lorraine of 1985-A, Thomas A. Wilson playing Old Biff of 2015, his mentally unhinged grandson, and Buford "Mad Dog" Tannen. And let's not forget Marty, who plays Old Marty (2015), along with his son Marty Jr. (who looks exactly like 1985 except with greasy, stringy hair) and Marty's daughter as well (the less said, the better)

6) They had to destroy the DeLorean in the end. And the flying train was ridiculous, along with a similar flux capacitor which makes even less than needing plutonium to run ("it runs on steam!")

The original ending used the time-honored "And the Adventure Continues" ending, in which it was vague (the filmmakers didn't know there would be a sequel at that point) but could be used as a sequel hook if necessary, but it also makes Doc a liar as well ("Oh no, both you and Jennifer turn out fine" and "This concerns her, too").

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

New flavors of spam

I run another blog, College Station Roads and Retail, which is mildly popular (to put it in the best terms possible). I get the gamut of spam comments, including weird Cyrillic characters, false compliments, mangled English, and the like "My bгother rеcommendeԁ I may like this blοg. He wаѕ once totally rіght. Тhis post actually made mу day. You cаn not consider simply hоw much time I had ѕpеnt for this infοгmation! Thank you! Also see my webpage: herbal acne treatments", or "Fantaѕtic goods from you, man. I've remember your stuff previous to and you are simply extremely magnificent. I really like what you have got here, certainly like what you are stating and the way in which in which you say it. You make it entertaining and you still care for to stay it smart. I cant wait to learn far more from you. This is actually a tremendous web site. Here is my web site - dog seat".

These of course, go straight to the spam folder automatically (the porn-related ones, definitely) and don't mess up the main posts, and I get just get enough real comments to make it worth it (occasionally spam isn't automatically caught, but all comments are filtered). This is what wound up in my email box today. The flags that went up is that it was sent through SMTP, which means the email address is spoofed and not legitimate.

Secondly, the email body has absolutely nothing to do with the blog post whatsoever, another red flag.

"Celine James via

10:39 AM (2 hours ago)

to me
Hi there,

I wanted to reach out and connect with you about an in-depth interactive guidebook that aims to help students decide if furthering their education and going to graduate school is the right thing for their future and/or career.

I came across this post on your site: - and given that you might have an interest in the topic, I wanted to see if you'd be interested in taking a look and/or sharing the piece with your readers. If so, let me know and I'd love to pass it along!


Well played, spammer...but I'm smarter.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Victim of Circumstance

Something for SimCity 4 I was working on before life got in the way and couldn't really afford to boot up into Windows anymore...

A pity.

Monday, March 25, 2013

The Portable Fallacy

So I got myself a slightly used iPhone, which sadly has been upgraded to iOS 6 (and I am unable to downgrade it to a superior version). But it WAS what I was looking for (mostly) and allowed me to have a decent portable camera, communicate easier, and play the demo of Ghost Trick. This last part, however, just gets me frustrated of one of my pet peeves--the belief that iPods are killing sales of traditional gaming devices. There's talk of death of the traditional way we play games, et cetera. While it's true that the iOS devices have made a truly indelible mark on the gaming industry, there's a huge factor to keep in mind.

It's not as revolutionary as we think.

The first thing is that the market expanded. Apart from the "people who bought an iOS device with no intention to play games" stat that's screwing thing up, there's the fact that the pie is expanding (as opposed to zero sum gain). Although fairly simple games like Cut the Rope and Angry Birds are popular, many of these people are people who would've never played games before. It should be a sign of hope to video gaming, not a specter of doom of the "dumbing down" of games (unfortunately, execs don't think that way).

Now let's talk about why Nintendo is suffering. It has to do with the iOS devices. And it doesn't. Since the Wii, Nintendo has had downloadable content, but it never knew how to handle it. It was always far over-priced, with $5 for any NES game. That was fine and good, except not all NES games are created equal, and so forth and so on. Wisely, the iOS App Store (released about a year after the Wii's debut) has developers set their own prices, and it worked. It also opened up development to just about anyone, which Nintendo NEVER did. And while the quality of many of those applications are debatable (to put it as gently as possible), it created a huge market where there was none. "There's an App for That" entered pop culture. Meanwhile, Nintendo selfishly clung to three downloads a week, with hundreds being approved by Apple every day. Granted, Nintendo had good reasons for not allowing just about anyone in for a licensee: that dates back to the NES days, where Nintendo had a stranglehold on licensees to prevent flooding and crashing the market. Unfortunately, with the digital world, that's not the case. There's no actual physical product.

So...back to iOS games. I played and completed the demo of Ghost Trick and decided that perhaps the DS version would've been just as good. I've never been satisfied with the overall control and depth of iOS games, anyway.

(I realize I did write something like this over three years ago but that was then and this is now)

Monday, February 25, 2013

In defense of all-purpose flour

So last semester I took a baking class (stop laughing), and one of the things that was learned was about different types of flours: cake flour, cookie flour, pastry flour, bread flour, with the notable absence of all-purpose flour. The idea was that while all-purpose flour could be used for anything, it wasn't particularly good for anything. And that, "All Purpose Flour! What is good for? Absolutely nothing!" was my mantra, as we used specific types of flour in a lab with a mix of modern equipment and some odd anachronistic pieces (some 1970s cookware, a microwave from the mid-1980s).

But things got a little muddled as time went on. The university is first-class, they're telling us to use specific flours for these recipes for their differences, and they're getting the cheapest ingredients they can find. Imperial Margarine, which has marginally more lipids than water (and it is the cheapest margarine you can get--I think even cheaper than "Country Crock"), "EconoMax Chocolate Flavored Chips" (the ultra-low-end cut-rate brand of the store), and the like.

While all-purpose flour can probably be bested by better flours, the difference is negligible compared to using cheap ingredients. The chocolate chip cookies made were terrible, but if they were made with all-purpose flour, sticks of butter, and the perennial classic Nestlé Toll House Chocolate Chips, then they would be probably some of the best things I would've tasted all month. I just can't stand the blatant hypocrisy in that class! (besides, Cooks Illustrated recommends using all-purpose flour, and they do know food)