Friday, 5 July 2013

german grand prix

German Grand Prix this weekend.

It's not normally that interesting a race.  The German actually alternates between two circuits and this year it's from nurburgring, but it's not the ring that you think of when you hear that - it's a custom built track that's basically alongside it (well - it might use a bit of the original).  It's certainly not the miles and miles of track version.

We also get to see what happens with the tyres.  As I understand it they've tweaked them so that they should be stronger and tougher, but they want to do more significant changes which aren't possible in the time available.

I have to confess I found the whole tyre blow out thing really quite scary.  In open-wheeled racing like this tyres are one of the big weak-points that remain.  Touching tyres often leads to the worst sorts of accidents, with cars flipping in the air.  A sudden puncture or deflation when you're in any car is a disaster, but when you're going nearly 200 miles an hour it is a very dangerous thing indeed.

I'll also be trying to watch lots of anime so I can get it on e-bay.  I may actually try to play some of the games I need to get through.  I've played quite a bit of SimCity these last few weekends, but I think I may have gone off it somewhat.

I'd mentioned I'd got some really good tips off of YouTube and they'd helped me play the game a lot better, but the problem was that therefore meant I got a lot further into the game.  What do I mean by that?

Well, basically up until recently I hadn't ever got to the stage of wanting to start a great work or being in a position to unlock the more interesting ones or have the resources to stand a chance to build them.  Instead I'd abandon the region and start a new one, hoping to make a city that was better at whatever.

However, with my most recent region I basically had some rocking cities that meant I had all research done and was pumping out the resources needed by the bucket-load.  I therefore decided to do the solar plant.  I started this in my electronics city and sent it all the processors.

I then thought I'd do the plastics, only to discover that my petroleum city didn't think the solar plant had been started.  Indeed, it even let me buy the solar plant again.

Oh dear.  Well, perhaps it was just a synching thing?  I came back the next day... and there was no change.  And my metals city couldn't see the Solar plant either and again let me buy it.

My tourism city could see it and I started a city I'd always been intending to use to do trade and that could see it from the get-go (I'd wondered if maybe it was a game calendar thing, but that put a kibosh on that).  What I therefore ended up doing was going to y petrol and ore cities and sending the required resources to by trade city where I could then send them on to the solar plant.  So my petrol city can't help build the plant, but I can send the resources to another city that can then send them to the plant.

Well I stuck with that process (man was it fucking tedious waiting for it all to happen) and eventually completed the solar plant.  And my other cities still couldn't see it.

A quick search of the interwebs confirmed this is a fairly common problem.  We're now on version 5 and something that is surely fundamental to the regional, multi-player gameplay that's supposed to be what the new SimCity is about still doesn't work.  And wasn't 5.0 meant to address the region play?

So I may play some other games.

Thursday, 4 July 2013

loads of anime pt 1

I thought I'd do the first lot of the mini reviews of anime stuff I've watched today (well I sure as heck haven't done any of the reviews of films I should have).

heaven's memo pad

I quite enjoyed this.

A lot of anime just recently have focused on NEETs, which is an acronym that stands for "Not in Education, Employment or Training" and is usually understood to mean young people who are not really making anything of their lives.

In this series the idea is that some of these NEETs have banded together to form something akin to a detective agency.  The members all have particular otaku-focus, so one is a military nut and the leader is a young girl who is a genius hacker and a hikikomori (a shut in, basically).

There are also quite a few peripheral characters to the main agency people, many of whom add their own interest.  The protagonist is roughly your typical nothing special cypher for the viewer, though as it goes on we see he does have some appropriate skills, though not quite in an otaku type way.

Overall the series is pleasant enough.  It takes an interesting forma in that it's a very mushed-together version of independent episodes and on-going stories, such that you could watch some episodes as stand-alone, though not quite get everything and others only work as part of a particular ark.  I guess what I mean is that it has blocks of stories, but these can run across a variable number of episodes.


This is a fighting-and-fan-service anime at its core.

And as far as those two things go, it's a pretty good example.  If that isn't your cup of tea then I really wouldn't recommend this over and above it.  It does do a lot better in the story and characterisation department than other anime in this area, but not to the extent that I'd recommend it if those aren't of interest, if you see what I mean.

The story is bobbins, obviously - a mash up of a variety of random religious and spiritual things, smooshed together with giant inter-dimensional monsters that bare an un-canny resemblance to something out of RahXephon (though with the religious overtones it has a distinct Eva feel to it too).  However, it's not that intrusive of a plot - it keeps going with the story, but you don't end up with entire episodes of info dump.  Indeed, they also didn't attempt to wrap the whole thing up in a single short season, so it doesn't actually end by the close of the series.  This, I guess, ties into the length of the manga it's based on, but is interesting because they've only just announced the second season, suggesting the second wasn't guaranteed.

While the plot may be daft, the characterisation and the development of those characters is a lot better done.  It's not subtle - a lot of the characters are quite arch and they don't tend to hide their feelings.  I have to say the girls are all a little odd as well - they all seem to basically hate each other, and it's not really clear why.

I think part of it relates to the more contentious aspect of the fighting, which is that the girls get genuinely quite badly hurt when they fight (they need to practice for fighting the bad guys, obviously).  I think the idea is that, although they get hurt, their special powers and super-science can patch them together.  I guess this makes them quite antagonistic towards each other, as otherwise they're just horrible for no real reason.

Anyway, overall I quite liked it and will certainly pick up the second season, but you have to remember it is what it is.

majikoi oh! samurai girls

After watching this I guess I now know what the anime equivalent of a train wreck is.

I actually went on Wikipedia to look this one up as I know it was based on a light novel series, and I also looked at a couple of reviews on MAL.  Part of the reason for this was because it felt like I was missing something - the series seems to start in the middle of something and also seems to do stuff like make running jokes for the first time as if you already knew they were running jokes.

It's also horribly inconsistent with its characters.  The main protagonist can be the most pervy guy with a group of pervy mates in one episode, trying to sneak a peek at one of the girls naked, and then the next he's some milquetoast who seems to want to run away if any of the girls come near him and only has eyes for the main girl.  Who is some sort of non-lesbian-lesbian - she seems to lust after girls, but also seems to expect the main guy to be in love with her and is in love with him.  Or something - as I say, it isn't consistent and doesn't make a lot of sense.

Of course at its heart this is another fan-service-and-fighting anime but compared to freezing or ikki tousen the fighting isn't particularly interesting (and a little thin on the ground) and the fan-service is kinda hampered by some non-descript character designs and a rather low animation budget.

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

parcel fuck up

So I thought I'd do a quick update on the parcel I mentioned a few weeks back.

Basically I'd been sent two figurines from Japan and HM Customs made a complete mess of the charges.  The figures themselves were worth less than £90, but they'd somehow managed to work out that I owed them more than £200 in import VAT & other charges.

Clearly this was ridiculous and it was so far off what I should pay I wasn't willing to stump up the money, even if I could have afforded it, which I couldn't.

As such, I filled out the required form and sent it in, including loads of supporting evidence, such as a photocopy of the sticker on the box and e-mails from the company I bought it for showing the real price.  I even worked out what the charges should have been for them.

And of course I heard fuck all back and the parcel was returned to Japan.

I've therefore had to pay again for the figures to be sent to me.  What I did, though, was ask them to split the order and send each figure individually.  Unfortunately, by putting them together in one box last time they had to send it via the airmail tracked service, so it cost a lot of money.  By splitting them up and sending them individually via surface mail it was a lot cheaper.   Although of course I will have to pay twice as much in the way of parcel force charges.

I did also ask parcel force to hang on to the figures for as long as they could, but if they did then it was only a few days over the norm.  I'm also going to be sending them a complaint as I was told I would receive a reminder, but never did.

But the point is it means that the useless fuckers in customs (those who can do, those who can't become civil servants and don't get me started on the immoral robbery that are sales taxes) have cost me extra money  I'm going to send in a complaint, though I may wait until I finally get the figures.

And speaking of which, there was actually another figure that the company sent me shortly after these two but there's no sign of it.  This was sent via surface mail, which can take a while, but I've not had it take this long before.

everything's falling apart

Internet issues meant I couldn't post this yesterday.

I seem to be plagued at the moment by things that are breaking or otherwise falling apart.

My dehumidifier has stopped working.  I've had it for years, though it is the second one I've had.  The problem is I put it on during the day in order to help keep the humidity down - my bedsit has very poor ventilation and is quite prone to damp.

The plug I use by the cooker for the kettle has also started playing up.  For some reason you have to turn it on and off a few times for it to supply power.  My landlord suspects it may be the points that have corroded a little, and this would make some sense - obviously being near the kettle it will get quite humid there.  But it's hardly an encouraging sign.

My clothes have also started to fall apart - particularly my underpants.  There are two problems colliding there, rally.  It's been ages since I bought new clothes - much longer than usual - but I've also held back because I was supposed to be losing a lot more weight.  Many of my clothes hang off me since ~I lost the bit of weight, but recently I've struggled to lose any more, so I've been stuck not wanting to buy clothes because "they won't fit after I loose x more stone" but not actually loosing x more stone.

And this last weekend my main pc started making some weird noises.  It sounds like the sort of regular noise you get when a fan is not properly seated.  I did recently clean out the pc so it wouldn't have surprised me if one of the fans on the top or side was not properly screwed back in, but I couldn't' see any evidence of that.  However, also, it seemed to cause the PC to freeze.  I'll have to pop the case to see if perhaps a cable has got stuck in the fan on the heat sink, but otherwise it could be something more serious.

What makes these particularly annoying is I don't have any spare money to actually buy them.

Monday, 1 July 2013

british grand prix

Well now - that was eventful!

It was the British Grand Prix this weekend, and it was quite the race, both for good reasons and bad.

The BBC showed the full race, obviously, and that meant they showed all the practice and qualifying too.  However, when I got back on Friday I had a bit of a shock as my PVR had failed to record the Friday stuff.  Indeed, it seemed to have stopped recording anything from Thursday evening.

I’ve had it do that occasionally before, though this time it stopped recording after I switched it off, rather than doing it while it was on standby.  I managed to get at most of everything I lost via repeats, so no harm in the end.

The practice on Friday was unfortunately wet and because the forecast was for the weekend to be nice so they didn’t do much running.  Qualifying was good as Hamilton ended up on pole, but unfortunately the Ferraris were rather poor.

But the main event was the race itself, which given some people seemed out of position meant there was probably going to be some overtaking.  Well there was plenty of overtaking- sometimes Silverstone can produce some dull races and sometimes some great ones.  Overtaking is possible, but not easy.

However, the race was also eventful for other reasons as apparently 6 Pirelli tyres failed.  Four of these were caught on camera and all were basically catastrophic failures.  I was a bit weird, actually.  They’ve had several tyre failures in previous races this year, but this is the first where it’s happened repeatedly.

All the failures were spectacular and it’s really just a matter of luck and skill that there were no serious accidents.  It’s a shame, really, as Pirelli did such a good job when they came into the sport of adding interest with the tyres, but for whatever reason all the coverage will be quite negative from this, I’m sure.

There’s a chance that the cause of the failures was them being cut on the curbs.  The cuts would have been on the side of the tyre and because Silverstone is the first proper circuit with lots of fast corners that’s why there have been so many.  However, the tyres should have been able to take it - it’s not like they’ve never raced there before!

The real shame of it was it messed with the results of the race - Hamilton was the first to get one and it meant he ended up fourth, and others obviously suffered too.

One of the problems is that they obviously want something to be done, but the next race is only a week away and they will probably have already shipped the tyres (or made them at the least).  There’s a more decent gap after that, and the nature of the next race (German) is that if it is down to the high-speed corners it will be less of an issue.