Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Oh Vista, How I Hate Thee...

For about six months, my laptop with Vista installed by the manufacturer worked fine. People would whine about Vista, and I'd shrug them off, saying, "Well, I've never had any problems with mine..."

Then, a few months ago, the problems started.

They started with an update. I'm not sure which one it was. But suddenly, the laptop's manager program stopped working. I emailed Acer (I am never ever buying an Acer laptop again, but that's another post) whose only solution was for me to use the installation disk to rollback the computer back to factory settings. Instead, I just removed the program from the startup menu. I don't need it anyway.

Next came the sound card. Suddenly, my computer no longer wanted to play any media files. I looked in the device manager, and found an exclamation point by the Realtek icon. I turned off some enhancement feature, and all my mp3s & wavs worked again.

I decided to sync my pocket PC with my laptop via usb cable. No can do. Vista won't see it, for some reason. Oh, it sees it, but it won't acknowledge that it's there. A search around the internet finds that this is a common problem. But don't worry- you can sync with Bluetooth. This laptop has Bluetooth- no wait- it doesn't. The product specs said it did, there's a switch on the front for it- but no, there's no actual bluetooth device inside. As I bought this a year ago, I can't bring it back to Best Buy and complain that even though there's supposed to be a Bluetooth device inside, I've just found out there isn't. Note to self - next laptop, make sure EVERYTHING works in the first 24 hours!

Yesterday I needed to re-record a wav file I made through a real-time effects filter to get some special effects for my game. Did Realtek have a "record what you hear" (Creative sound card) option? Yes, but it calls it "Stereo Mix." Fine, but where is it? A little searching on the internet and I found that Vista disables this option to make the DRM police happy. OK, enable it. I shut off my computer for the night...

...And today, I started up my computer to find that my removable storage devices (dvd-rom drive, card reader, & usb stick) won't work. There's a nice circle with a slash through my DVD drive icon. I am informed that "access is denied." Did Vista disable these devices so that I can't record sound off of them? I don't know, but I have a suspicion. OK, if it was the sound card, let's uninstall and reinstall it. Whoops! Now all my media files won't play again - and that little exclamation point in the Device Manager isn't there anymore to let me easily fix it. And - you guessed it - my removable storage devices STILL don't work.

Now I close my eyes and remember the scene in South Park Bigger, Longer, and Uncut when the general orders Bill Gates to be brought to him, and shoots him through the head. I imagine it again, and again, and again, and for a while, everything is right with the world.


When the Pollitically Correct Wires Get Crossed & Other Stuff

Joe (correcting a statement I made about Black History Month) "Dad- you're not supposed to say 'African-American' anymore, you're supposed to say 'Indian!'"

I made Jen watch Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band last night. For those who don't know, this god-awful film consists of The Bee-Gees, Peter Frampton, and various other 70's stars badly singing Beatles songs. Highlights are George Burns as Mr. Kite, Steve Martin as Dr. Maxwell Edison, (singing "Maxwell's Silver Hammer,") & Alice Cooper as Marvin Sunk, the Sun King, (singing "Because.") I have to admit that this no-star flop falls under the category of "guilty pleasures" for me. It's like a train-wreck - you just can't turn away no matter how much your stomach is churning.

I've been having lots of dreams about my old LeBarron convertible lately. I think my subconscious is trying to use it as a metaphor for my life. If that's true, should the fact that I smashed it on the highway years ago bother me?

Happy day after your birthday, little Sophie. "OINK!"


PS Does anyone know - are there any ports you can actually forward if you have Verizon DSL, or are the bastards simply blocking them all? I've correctly set it up on the Westell, but it doesn't seem to be working...

Friday, February 22, 2008

When Eyeballs Swarm - Tonight on FOX

Illustration Friday: Multiple

Please click the above image to see larger eyeballs.


Thursday, February 21, 2008

Posing As Naked Dead People For Credibility

If you're not a horny young male, you may not be aware that Lindsay Lohan has posed nude for New York magazine. (For some reason it's a "tasteful spread" if it's done for New York, but it's "porn" if you do your tasteful spreading in Playboy.) The interesting thing is that she's dressed up as Marylin Monroe, reposing some shots that the late actress did ages ago. I have to wonder why she feels she needs to dress up as anyone else. The first day the magazine posted it's pictures online, so many people wanted to see her naked that its servers actually went down. (Officially naked anyway - she's been happily popping out of her top for the paparazzi for years.) It's almost sad in a way, that even people who are idolized need to pretend they're someone else to get some sort of credibility. Maybe there's a subtext to the ill-fitting blonde wig, or some artistic meaning to the ridiculous false eyelashes. It reminds me of something the late Peter Sellers said to Kermit when he guest-hosted The Muppet Show: "There is no me. There was a me - but I had it surgically removed."


Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Tony's Wacked-Out Conspiracy Theory of the Day

What if the supposed "spy-satellite" that the U.S. Navy is going to try to shoot down tomorrow is actually an approaching alien spacecraft? Discuss.


Monday, February 18, 2008

Dream Anaysis 101

I dreamt that I was watching a Spiderman film. Spidey was desperately trying to seal a crack in a brick wall using a trowel full of strawberry jam. The Green Goblin was played by Jerry Lewis (circa The Nutty Professor) complete with coke-bottle glasses and whiny voice. There was also a night-black giant, who was holding Sipderman in the air while he did his preserves-masonry work. For some reason, he let go. As they fell, the Goblin franticly threw a set of Rosary beads into the jam-filled crack.

Any suggestions?

Friday, February 08, 2008

Whish I'd Thunk of That!

Have you ever read a book, seen a movie, heard a song, or looked at a picture, and had a little voice inside of you say, "Jeez, I wish I'd done that!" Taking a break from plugging my own stuff, here are a few animations I can't help but admire:

Maakies: Drinky Crow.
Color me depressing, but I've had quite a few days when I could relate to this. Short & Simple:

Don Hertzfeldt's Rejected
"For the love of God & all that is holy- MY ANUS IS BLEEDING!" (Quick- watch it before it gets sucked into the "removed due to copyright" vortex!)

Over Time, directed By: Oury Atlan, Thibaut Berland, Damien Ferrie.
A beautiful tribute to the late Jim Henson. A bit freaky, and might induce crying.

Feel free to suggest your own

Saturday, February 02, 2008

ABC, you've "Lost" Me

Dear ABC:

I was considering watching your show Lost, until, during tonight's broadcast of War of the Worlds, you insisted on having five-minute promos for the show during every goddamn commercial break. Now, forget it. A pox on both your houses!

Taking the annoying networks down, one show at a time -
-Tony LaRocca

Friday, February 01, 2008

3D or not 3D?

On and off over the past few years, I've toyed with the idea of making an adventure game. Like all genres, adventure games range from creative, funny, and challenging, (Grim Fandango, Myst, Submachine, Day of the Tentacle, The 7th Guest, and Sam & Max,) to the horribly boring and downright insipid (Scratches.) So my goal is to make a game that's fun, just challenging enough, and doesn't take an eternity to make. In the end, I want to sell it online for about $5 a download.

Originally, I was going to make the game with 3D panoramas. The only problem is, when you do realistic detail, then people expect a realistic game. Doors should swing open. There should be animated transitions between shots. Characters should be realistically animated. As the game takes place in a house, I really don't need a fantastic level of realism. Also, nothing is more annoying when playing an adventure game than having to wait for transition after transition with slow creaking doors to get from room to room. Like Al Lowe's original Leisure Suit Larry games, or back in the 90s when Lucas Arts was more interested in making fun adventure games for the PC rather than Star Wars arcade games for the Playstation, I want the game's enjoyment to come from humor and an interesting storyline rather than how it looks.

Also, while I've already made models for half of the house, drawing the locations would get me done a hell of a lot quicker.

Anyway, here are two screenshots of the bedroom location. One is hand-drawn, one is CGI. Which kind of game would you prefer?

(Yes, it's based on the bedroom I had growing up in NJ)