Apr 24 2016

Reorganizing

Adel Gabot

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7:33PM

This past week, I finally reorganized my computer data setup, particularly my media library. I had long felt that it was wildly set up in the first place, disorganized and messy as all get out.

So I liberated an external 500GB hard drive and permanently reassigned it to my main computer as Media Drive 2, and renamed another 500GB external disk Media Drive 3 as a floating drive that holds my more “esoteric” media files (it has to be a floating drive because the cheap external case I got it heats up really fast and it doesn’t have a cooling fan).

The 1TB Media Drive 1 is a long-standing and cooled drive permanently attached to my system ever since I got it, as is Data 1, a venerable old 1TB drive that redundantly stores my, well, “data”—software installers, document backups, books, comics and magazines I want to keep, photos and audio, and really old, classic movies—and my exclusive 750GB Time Machine backup. Add those to the 1TB iMac Home Drive and I had a formidable set of disks on my system.

Then I proceeded to reorganize my data folders. Media Drive 1 is my new TV shows and movie repository, and Media Drive 2 holds the other assorted media I collect during the week—YouTube, Vimeo and various MP4 and AVI files.  This required a reshuffling of the folders, transferring them from one drive to another and erasing redundant data, which took up an entire day. I also gave the folders a once-over, and deleted stuff I didn’t really want or need to keep, and subsequently freed up a lot of space.

Now the system is finally properly organized and streamlined.

Also, it makes me realize I have a hell of a lot of time on my hands.


Apr 23 2016

Scandalous

Adel Gabot

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11:32AM

One last thing about dear departed Prince.

You may think I’m an odd duck for this, but to me, Prince’s best song is not I Would Die 4 U, When Doves Cry, Kiss or even the iconic Purple Rain.

For me, his best song was this virtually unknown one he wrote for the soundtrack of the 1989 Tim Burton film Batman called Scandalous.

Few people remember it, or I think even heard it, it’s so obscure.

It’s part of an album of songs Prince wrote for the movie, and it’s separate and distinct from the original soundtrack album written by Danny Elfman. It’s just nine tracks all in all.

Most of the songs Prince wrote were hardly included in the film, and just a few snippets were incorporated into the film, notably The Arms of Orion, and a bit of Partyman and Lemon Crush. I think Batdance was in the closing credits.

I don’t even really remember hearing Scandalous in the actual film, save for, I think, one or two lines. I’d better rewatch the movie and make sure.

Batman was an interesting film, but it didn’t really capture my idea of the hooded hero. I bought the CD in 1989, thinking it was the Danny Elfman album, and was at first unpleasantly surprised. But as I continued to listen to Prince’s tracks, I grew to like them, particularly Scandalous. (I bought the Elfman album eventually, but it’s long forgotten now, unlike Prince’s.)

I don’t know what it is about the song, but it somehow spoke to me, with its haunting refrain and arresting verses, and I grew to love it. Yes, I love his other mainstream hits of course, but nothing matched Scandalous, at least for me. Prince’s tortured yet elegant falsetto and the repetitive slow rhythm caught my ear.

I think it’s fantastic, and an underappreciated and underrated gem from the man. That’s why I’ve played it several times since yesterday, the day of Prince’s death.

And I guess, why I will continue to play it intermittently for years to come.

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EDIT: April 24, 11:25AM – I watched Batman again, and I was wrong. It wasn’t Batdance at the end credits. It was actually the entirety of Scandalous, right after Elfman’s Main Theme that played through half the credits. Hmm. Memory can play strange tricks on you.  27 years will do that.

 


Apr 22 2016

The Artist

Adel Gabot

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3:17PM

Prince died today. He was 57.

He was found unresponsive in the elevator in his estate, and, well, there you go. He’d been feeling ill on and off the past couple of weeks, and he’d even had to go to a hospital mid-flight on his jet. But they let him go after three hours there.

I guess his time had simply come. But too soon, man, too soon. He was, to put it mildly, a living legend.

Now he was gone.

He was most in vogue during my budding career as an FM DJ in the late 80s, and continued to peak towards the end of the century and the beginning of this one.

I remember playing I Would Die 4 U and getting caught up in the wonder and magic of the song, and wondering, who is this guy?

In honor of the man, I’m playing him non-stop today on iTunes Airplayed on my Apple TV and home theater.

So long, man.

Prince Rogers Nelson, 1958-2016.


Apr 17 2016

Autostitch

Adel Gabot

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7:47PM

I was able to find a nice torrent of a feature-length behind-the-scenes documentary on the creation of The Dark Knight Trilogy and its impact on the film industry entitled, appropriately enough, The Fire Rises: The Creation and Impact of The Dark Knight Trilogy, cribbed from the Trilogy boxed Bluray set.

It was a high-resolution copy, weighing in at around 3.5GB. That is, if it came in one package. Unfortunately, the torrenter thought it best to split it into two files: Part 1 and Part 2, around 35-40 minutes each. I don’t know why, but he or she did.

After downloading them, I had to put both parts in a folder and give them the exact same name (except for the part numbers, of course) because that’s how I do things, it makes it simpler for subtitles to work on them (if it had subtitles), and I think it looks nicer that way.

I had intended to stitch them into one file using video software (Quicktime or Handbrake), but that’s always a pain. It takes forever and doesn’t always work. I hadn’t gotten around to doing it yet, but decided to watch the documentary anyway. I used Plex on my new Apple TV to play the files and figured I just had to weather the trouble of playing two separate files.

Plex figured out on its own to play the first part first, without any user intervention, and that was fine. But more interesting was that it also played the second part without user intervention as well—and it did it automatically. It autostitched the two files! In fact, I could only tell it had gone on to the second part by a quick and almost imperceptible stutter in the video.

Nice!

I have to commend the makers of Plex for putting in this (heretofore undocumented and undiscovered) thoughtful and considerate feature. Really, some of these developers sometimes do things right.

Sometimes.

By the way, the documentary, in case you’re wondering, was fantastic.

 

 


Apr 15 2016

I keep losing in Falcon Lost

Adel Gabot

 

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1:55PM

I couldn’t be more excited last Tuesday, when they released the first update for Tom Clancy’s The Division.

I had been coasting on patrolling the city, trying to clear the unclearable streets of New York of bad elements, after hitting the game’s ceiling. Going to the Dark Zone was too much effort; I often get creamed within yards of entering, and trying to kill the near unkillable NPCs really requires too much effort for higher-level gear and weapons (that you have to extract from the Zone to even use—and they weren’t really that high-end to begin with; that good stuff is really hard to come by) wasn’t really my thing.

They introduced a new scoring mechanic in the update, a new way of leveling up: a Gear Score. Each item on your person has an equivalent Gear value, and taken all together detemines your score. Then, that score determines your eligibility to enter the new mission, or Incursion, they put in with the update, Falcon Lost, which requires a minimum Gear Score of 140, preferably a comfortable 160.

I looked at my score, which I thought would certainly be enough given all the work I’ve expended patrolling the streets and getting, or rather buying, high-end gear and weapons with my credits. It was a measly 122.

Dammit. I can’t even get in on Falcon Lost.

That entire Wednesday I spent trying to find out how to get my Gear Score up, but I couldn’t figure it out. I already had Superior gear and one High End item, and I had crafted a High End pistol and bought a High End primary weapon, and I couldn’t for the life of me find out how to get better stuff.

Until I thought to buy a High End secondary weapon too. There was a nice exotic and powerful shotgun the guy was selling at HQ, but my credits were barely enough; it cost nearly a half-million credits, and I had a little over 400,000. So I acquired and sold more stuff, crafted new things and sold those, and when I had enough, I bought the weapon, which I equipped immediately.

New Gear Score? 142!

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I immediately teamed up with three other players and jumped into Falcon Lost, and equally immediately got very frustrated; it was fucking hard!

It involves fighting off 15 (15!) waves of 32-level and higher NPCs in an enormous, cluttered, multi-level hall. I have enough trouble dealing with level 31 enemies in the Hard and Challenging Modes in the regular game. These guys, you expend entire clips into them and they’re not even fazed.

Plus, they’ve introduced a new kind of enemy to the game: drones. They’re a bit hard to kill, but not impossible, but they’re also a big nuisance. The drone pop in every now and then, and having to deal with them while fighting off aggressive, hard-to-kill NPCs is really a big pain.

I went online and researched how to solve the new level, and what I found was really difficult. It required players to get to a trench in the center of the big hall and dig in, while 15 waves of high-level NPCs and drones try to kill you, all the while being rained upon with a mortar from the APC you’re trying to ultimately kill.

And killing the APC itself is another extremely difficult job: you have to bomb it four times, from bombs that you have to steal from four different and specific enemies, equally distributed among the 15 waves, and requires different combinations of weapons, talents and skills in the right order. Falcon Lost is really a bitch. When Ubisoft released it, even the developers said they haven’t gotten through it yet.

So I haven’t finished the Incursion yet, and it looks like it’s gonna take a while and require a lot of patience and persistence. In the meantime, I’m trying to finish the Daily and Weekly missions to get my Gear Score up. It’s now up to 144, and my target is that elusive 160. Which seems difficult to obtain now, but I’m more afraid for the future: I saw the minimum Gear Score requirement for the next forthcoming free Incursion: 220.

God.