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March 19, 2009
March 19, 2009: TSO and 2D RPG are now bound to be 2.5D instead of 2D. My squealing power supply (sound recording available!) was replaced, resulting in delay with update. I played FF8 - how boring that was! I finally finished FF5 2 years in the making. FF6 was replayed - more progress than before thanks to YouTube comments. My left ear was plugged for 10 days. I maxed the score in Mario 3's first level. For a week, YouTube was unreadable. A major snowstorm struck - photos available! Tomba 2 - played before but never finished... until now. Pizza rolls? Make that deep dish minis! Red milk is now pink. Homestead revisited - junk. Volunteer work again - random computer stuff. Some details about my story are available. 21 new dreams recalled, one well-recalled. Dream journal undergoing restructuring - may take a while.
#1 FF8 played and finished - how boring!: I knew it, it was a boring game. At first, it was the heavy drawing, but that only has a minor effect overall. The worst is the dull, boring music. Most of the game's music has negative compatibility, a few of which are neutral, but only one of them is considerably high - that of chocobos. Second worst is the walking sound. The FF games beyond 8 do a lot better with it and I don't mind it in those, but FF8's is horrible. On top of that, battles take ridiculously long. In FF6, it takes barely a half second for a defeated enemy to go away (except if it has a final attack to unleash) and only one second for an attack to take place. In FF8, it's 4 to 6 seconds before the enemy is removed and 3 seconds (6 with Rinoa) to even take an action. Summons last seemingly forever, especially Eden, which makes me completely avoid them, unlike FF5 or FF6. The only summon I actively used was Eden and for one reason - no damage limit. I like seeing the white "14,000" popping out of the enemy instead of just 9999, which is annoying. Because of that, I used Eden quite frequently, despite it's minute-long animation. A minute!? What the!? No wonder why I don't use summons, but with that, you can easily tell how much I hate that damage limit.... I, at least, finished the game, doing most of it on level 100. I was expecting it to be 99 like the others, but why 100? That seems a bit odd. Others tell me that I shouldn't do this because it makes the game more difficult. I found the game too easy even with that. If was going to go to 100, why not have it go to 255? Hey, I'd still go after that too! I'm probably not going to play that game again for years. I'd rather play FF6 5 times over, even though the damage limit is so easy to get in that game, than play FF8. At least FF8's story is quite decent though, at least after I got past the fire cave event, it's main up side.
#2 FF5 finished at last: I got the game 2 years ago, on Final Fantasy Anthology (PSX game - a collection). I was stuck as to what to do next so I had no choice but to consult GameFAQs to get unstuck, but that was as far as I went. I constantly got bored of it trying to level up while thinking of ideas. Where was I stuck? I was two events away from doing the sand dunes event. In mid February I finished the game at last. Boy is FF5 a weird game, the weirdest of all the FF games that I'm aware of! It was mastering jobs and trying to level up that made it take much longer than normal. I once recall entering the N-zone, the game's final area, but encountering "Omega" and was not able to defeat it, so I focused on mastering the jobs while leveling at the same time. But then, I found Sshot. This attack makes quick work of practically any enemy and I have a YouTube video showing just how effective it really is. No enemy seems to get a chance to do anything. As I browsed FAQs for the game, I saw that shinryu was one enemy that others struggled with, but I got it before it even got a chance to act! Even the final boss wasn't too difficult, considering that I was regularly doing 20,000 damage per hit! Sshot has 4 advantages - it never misses, it ignores the enemy's defense (as if it was zero), it often avoids counterattacks that would otherwise be made, and it even overrides the FF series' most annoying aspect of all - the 9999 damage limit. Omega was still difficult, but by hiding or using a jump attack, Sshot also make quick work of it - taking 3 rounds. But, all in all, I finally finished FF5. As a result of finally knowing the story, it rose a little in the ranks. At the bottom is FF8 where FF5 used to be.
#3 Heavy FF6 involvement - further than last time: I wanted it quite badly - getting meteor in the first world of FF6. Meteor in this game is my top favorite effect of all. I often can't resist not using it. I soon found a place and method to getting the most EXP quickly - the cave right after the house fire event I recalled two friends struggling with from now 15 years ago (the summer of 1994, roughly). By soloing and defeating an enemy called "admancht", I could easily reach level 99 in reasonable time in the first world - 15 hours. I got Terra into it and got her to level 99 to get ultima in the first world. I posted videos on YouTube to prove this, taking on an Intangir using nothing but meteor and ultima on it. However, I was actually doing an experiment - finding out if I could actually drop a few levels by having a few high-level characters but doing the floating continent event with low-level ones. From comments on those videos, I later learned how you got ultima, where Locke and two other unseen characters were (Umaro and Gogo). I was so close to getting Umaro the previous time - I just didn't have Mog in the party, although I had him available (and as a dedicated magic user). Gogo I never knew existed, but getting to him is very weird in itself. However, this time, I tried getting as many of the characters as possible on as low of a level as possible, entering the second world on level 35. I did that river event at roughly the same level as those two friends had (with 500 HP) and didn't have any trouble and that house fire event was no different, though strangely, using osmose on that fireball boss defeated it. It makes me think that, instead of doing HP damage to it, I'd use rasp on it to deal MP damage. It almost seems like those two friends should've let me go at it, though at the time, I didn't know anything about RPGs at all (that started in 2002 with FF7). Later on though, I got Celes to level 75 (soloing in the best leveling ground I know of (with a video of it as well)) so I can withstand the ultima attack that the magic tower's boss has when defeated. I was doing very well with level 45 characters, but it was that final attack that ruined everything.
#4 The Supernatural Olympics - now to be 2.5D: With my plans as I have them, the limited draw count and otherwise high memory usage will be too much for 2D. I still want TSO to be a 2D game, but it appears that I need another approach. My old, weak, 2.4 version uses some function that Gamestudio has that causes drawing to be even 500 times faster than what I've currently got. I thought of using DirectX, but then, after several months, visions came to mind, envisioning the Northern Mebna Hills as having individualized hills, minimizing the odd gaps between the layers, but increasing memory usage even more. It would mean having to redo a good chunk of what I already did.
My solution came when I got Tomba 2 - make it a 2.5D game. A 2.5D game is a game that is rendered in 3D like a normal 3D game would be, but it plays like a 2D game which is what the core concept of TSO is and will still be - 2D. At first, I didn't think too much about it, but as I began looking at the benefits more closely, I knew it was a solution, but the benefits just kept on mounting and mounting still more. I was getting stunned as just how many benefits there were and still more were being thought of. In all, I've found 25 advantages, so many that I had to make another document for the details on that game just to explain them all. To name a few, it resolves the problems with the character making it far easier and faster to make, boosting motive significantly, smoother, more detailed than I thought possible. Another is the sheer speed. Instead of a draw count limitation, it's more of a polygon/vertex count limitation. Furthermore, memory consumption is reduced by more than half for even moderately-high quality settings. On top of this, the realism and overall quality will be greatly improved. It just solves a lot of my lingering problems.
There are still 4 downsides though. The first is that you'll have to have 3D hardware. This, however, is very common and it's the only downside on your end. Have a weak system? Tone the graphics settings down to using fewer polygons and smaller texture sizes. Have a powerful top-of-the-line system? Max the graphics settings keeping all the decals and take in the high-detail scenery - all 90 miles of it horizontally and 50+ miles into the back. Another downside is that I will have no choice but to learn DirectX, but with seeing all the advantages and the scenery through my visions, I'm now getting a much stronger motive. Third, I'd have to build a modeling program, but that means having to learn Windows programming well beyond what I currently have: menus, mouse controls (i.e. clicks and drags), and other basic things present in most programs. Lastly, it would mean having to redo the scenery again. The redo, however, will be faster and result in much better quality and it would make some things like the clouds and buildings easier to do.
Even my 2D RPG will likely take this same route as well. While almost everything about it is classified, there are only a few things that aren't classified. It was originally intended to be 2D like TSO, only using top-down views like RPGs use, but now it looks like it'll be 2.5D - using 3D rendering, but still use the top-down view as before. This adds extra realism and would, in a sense, make things easier to do. I've planned very extensively for the game, but this change won't affect much at all that I'm aware of.
One bother I have with this is lighting. Yes, I know the (rather complex) formula ("GrayShade = ((cos(Elev)*sin(Azi)*sin(Slope)*sin(Heading) + cos(Elev)*cos(Azi)*sin(Slope)*cos(Heading) + sin(Elev)*cos(Slope))*(1-Amb)+Amb)*255;"), but that's not the problem. When I was using Gamestudio back in 2006 at the latest, I could never get the lighting to come out right. It was either washed out, or was always gouraud shading, in areas where I didn't want gouraud shading. For things like spheres or even mountains, gouraud shading is not problematic, but it's flat-edged areas such as buildings that make it bad. Ambient is 20%, but directly facing the Sun should be full bright without any washout effects. Since I now know the formula, I can run some tests to check and cross check this using some test patterns (i.e. white, red, green, blue, orange, and 3 other test colors - a weird texture, I know, but it's only for testing).
To get a sense on what kind of problems I have, since this was from the days I used Gamestudio, January of 2006 (that's more than 3 years ago!), I thought I'd post screenshots explaining the effects.
Old screenshot #1: This the unlit version of this very low-poly "ball". I made it like this for simplicity reasons. Simplicity makes it easier to understand the concept, just like converting the multiplication of 38994*15680 into either 39,000*16000 or even 40,000*16000. It makes it easier to grasp. This screenshot is, essentially, the baseline, or control.
Old screenshot #2: For flat surfaces, like building walls, the lighting for that side should always be the same. Trouble is, when I used Gamestudio, I got something that looks very weird. Instead of the front face being all one shade, it's split based on the polygons used and it looks weird, very weird. On top of that, the texture is also "washed out", a common problem I had with using Gamestudio. Look at the front of the object and the darker of the two shades. That's a decent, detailed texture. Now look at the lighter one on that same side you can see the texture, but it's highly faded.
Old screenshot #3: This is the same as number 2, except that, instead of brightening, it darkens. It looks much better, but the lighting is actually unrealistic, disregarding the triangle part. It's unrealistic because half of the sphere should be all dark, not all light, with the other half being a gradient between the two.
Old screenshot #4: This is the same as number 2, except that gouraud shading is used. This is best for balls and curved surfaces light landscapes, but it's bad for flat surfaces, like building walls. Again, you can see that the texture is highly washed out.
Old screenshot #5: This is the same as number 3, except with gouraud shading used. At least it looks better... to some extent.
Old screenshot #6: This is what the object should look like, at least behind the window showing what 4 has. Notice how the front is all one shade with the shade changing based on the angle relative to the sun rather than the polygon itself? This is how it's supposed to be for flat objects. Gouraud shading is used for the front window, like before. This is Gamestudio's MED, if you bothered to look at the full-size image.
If you've seen the small-scale size of my story's front cover, that's how the lighting should look. Flat surfaces have all the same shade for each side while curved surfaces use gouraud shading. Yet, I did my book cover without using any modeling programs - I just used Excel for the math and GIMP to draw based on the results of calculations. Back during the days I was using Gamestudio, I used a 50% ambient. Currently, I use 20% since it looks much more realistic (hint: compare how bright it is in direct, high-noon sunlight for a clear sky to that of the same conditions but in shade (under a roof or balcony)).
Even my 2D RPG will likely take this same route as well. While almost everything about it is classified, there are only a few things that aren't classified. It was originally intended to be 2D like TSO, only using top-down views like RPGs use, but now it looks like it'll be 2.5D - using 3D rendering, but still use the top-down view as before. This adds extra realism and would, in a sense, make things easier to do. I've planned very extensively for the game, but this change won't affect much at all that I'm aware of.
#6 The squealing power supply - how irritating!: Since about the start of March of 2009, I've been getting this very high-pitched squealing sound. I first thought it was ringing in my ears and I thought nothing about it. However, as time went on, the squealing was getting louder and louder and began to realize that it wasn't my ears ringing as simply leaving my room softened it, but with my computer off, it was still happening which bothered me, wondering where it was coming from. Seeing a direct relationship with my computer as the cause, I asked about it on the HWW forums. I eventually found out that it was my power supply causing it. I even recorded the sound. You can listen to it here. This 272 KB ZIP file contains one second of the original WAV (file format: 16-bit, mono, 96,000 Hz, uncompressed), and 5 seconds of it in MP3 format (file format: 58 Kbps, mono, 48,000 Hz, the same I use with my music's fastest speeds) both at true speed and at half speed. I added half speed in for a reason - not many can hear the 15,000 to 16,000 Hz sound it makes, but halving the speed, as it does with my music, cuts this to 7500 to 8000 Hz, which makes it much easier to hear. By viewing the waveform in Audacity or something and zooming in a lot so you can see the samples, you can see that the waveform is quite jagged - that's what the high frequencies are from. Upon realizing that my power supply was about to fail, I significantly cut back on my computer usage and got a new power supply off Newegg. Once I got it and hooked everything up to the new one, taking an hour, I tested it and the squealing sound is completely absent. I looked into getting one that not only met my needs and was fair-priced, but also very efficient. I haven't done a repair on my computer in quite a while, but machines do tend to break down over time and when they do, they need to get fixed....
#7 Volunteer work, various computer tasks: You may recall, from before, that I went to my dad's work place for 3 days to adjust the company's Web site. Well, that was volunteer work. Now it's happened again, only this time, it's longer-running and different. Instead of updating/maintaining a Web site, it's doing various small tasks here and there, such as proofreading texts, making animations (simple ones, unlike mine which get into the hundreds or even thousands of frames), and other small things here and there. I don't know how long this will last, but beyond this, details are confidential.
#8 Plugged left ear - 20 dB lower for 10 days: My left ear, for about 10 days during the start of February, was plugged causing a reduction in audio volume in that ear of about 20 dB. There was a large amount of wax inside of it that caused this. I woke up with it when everything was fine beforehand. As this happened, things sounded rather weird. This was going on while I was actively involved with playing FF5. Things like warm (105 to 110°F) olive oil didn't really help too much, along with squirting warm water into it. It was until I took a Q-tip and slowly and carefully went in and removed the wax. By slowly, I mean less than a centimeter per second at the maximum. By carefully, I mean using the least amount of force as absolutely possible. This was to avoid damaging the ear. When I first did this, I had 25 Q-tips with almost all of them having something on them. Of the 50 total sides of these, 35 of them had something, which really explains why my ear was plugged. It took another 3 days after this before I was back to normal.
#9 Tomba 2 - finished at last: I've only played the game through renting it years ago, but I got stuck, not knowing what to do. I do recall the donglin forest being accessed, but certainly not circus village, the water temple, or the evil pig battles. The game has fairly decent music. The one for the snowy Kujara Ranch is the best. A close second is that of the first version of circus town (the second version is the worst of all). There are many very close contenders for third place, too close to each other to tell them apart. The fisherman village, pipe area's first version, Donglin Forest's second version, and the water temple's second version are all third place ties and are far too close to each other in compatibility to really give any results.
This time, unlike before, I finished the game almost in full. I had 4 or 5 events missing, the 3 towers (I've got the spells for those), something involving a precious ring, and, uncertain, probably something else. Other than that, I've finished the game.
#10 Max score in Mario 3 in very first level - wow!: This might be a world record. In about 3 1/3 hours, using only the first level in Mario 3 (world 1-1), I maxed the score. I got that card game 124 times in a row because of it. This is not only a fast place to gain score or the most number of consecutive times you can get that card game, it's also the absolute earliest possible in the game. Sure, I had 99 lives too. I'll give you a hint - there are 4 turtles on a series of 3 blocks, 3 flying and one walking. Use the turtles wisely and you should have it. I'll leave the rest for you to figure out.
#11 From pizza rolls to deep dish minis - fast: I hate having to eat, really, I do. Combined with degreasing, it takes me 2 1/4 hours to eat one of my main pizzas. Pizza rolls are even worse at about 2 hours for only half as much. It's just too much time and takes motive away. Hamburger Helper is faster, but almost always requires milk, of which I don't get too much of. Snacks aren't too reliable and Macaroni isn't too tasty unless I use the combination method of Hamburger Helper and Macaroni. Upon trying some of those deep dish mini pizzas, of which are just 5.5 or 5.6 ounces each, I knew they'd answer the speed solution. I tend to have much more of these than I do the others, even the regular pizzas, simply because they're twice as fast but still just as filling. It only takes 70 minutes (as opposed to almost 140) to eat 5 of them, though I usually do 4 instead. I'm now focusing much more toward these than regular pizzas and they have other added benefits. The "pizza thing" as I call it doesn't have to be washed since these cook in the microwave in under 2 minutes - I can just wait for ad sessions and cook it during the entire "spamming session" as I often call them (I often think that the station is getting spammed.). Essentially, they're even better than pizza rolls since I don't need a plate. I put the minis on a quad-folded paper towel (for degreasing, a shortcut I found) and heat them in the microwave. I can have these things at any time without having to bother with waiting to get the "pizza thing" washed, a plate washed, or a pan washed (the latter is for Hamburger Helper, if I have milk for it).
#12 January 2009 - what a snow storm that was!: 9 inches of snow. That's more snow than I've seen for over a decade. It was wave after wave after wave of snow storms. Fortunately, I got a few photos to show the effects this has and the photos sure are quite pretty. It gives new meaning to the Christmas song "Walking in a Winter Wonderland"....
Photo #1: So what happens to those 9 inches of snow (plus that of previous waves of snow storms) when it's on the roads? It gets placed in big piles. This is no joke - that pile there is almost 10 feet high! Fire hydrants are completely buried, road signs are almost half buried, and that's for areas that plows can't get to where the snow is still about 2 feet deep!
Photo #2: Now this is a bit scenic. This is the front of my house. Note the trees and just how much snow they've got covering them. The area on the porch has snow 3 feet deep with some areas getting to 7 feet deep, taller than I am.
Photo #3: Now for the grand finale. This is my favorite. When it comes to photos of wintry scenes, snow on pines is what I like I most (better with fog, at least with me).
One photo I thought I got (and wished I got) was of snow going over the edge of the roof and hanging almost 2 1/2 feet down going about 8 inches over the edge. This sure has been a unique winter. The last two or 3 winters had no snow during Christmas when normally, there'd have been a lot of it. Now my only concern is flooding. Get a bunch of consecutive 50°F days and flooding is a real possibility....
#13 Very tempted to get an SNES off Ebay, even though I have one: This seems weird. I have a working SNES, so why would get another one off Ebay? One reason: I haven't seen it in almost 6 years now! I have no idea where it is. Sure my room is a mess, but the SNES has been missing since before I moved to my current room and oddly, it was never found here. I do recall getting screenshots of Super Mario World and a bug I found, but that was about the last I saw of it. It's been missing ever since. The other reasons are as follows, in order of most important to least important:
First off, there's the original Bubsy that I've got a few thousand hours of play on that's also available. I've been tempted to see what the SNES version looks and especially sounds like. I've heard that the Genesis has weak/deteriorated sound and the SNES doesn't. I've love to hear OWTLI, my most listened to song of all with an estimated 1,000,000 to 1,300,000 plays (yes, over a million - that's two consecutive years' worth, most of which obtained during the first 5 to 7 years of having the game), spanning the almost 15 years I've had the game. I'd also love to hear Desert Zone, which as roughly 350,000 to 650,000 plays, the second-most listened to song of all (that's one year of consecutive play, spread out in the same way as OWTLI only about half as often. I'd also like to see if some of the bugs present in the Genesis version are also present in the SNES version as well. I don't know what differences there are, but by playing both, I'll get a sense of this. I'd also like to see if I have a better chance of getting those 32 px/fr speeds, unlike the Genesis version which has faulty collision at times. This towers over everything in terms of the effect it has toward my temptations, more so then the others combined.
I want a video of a few bugs I know of in Super Mario World. There's one that I have screenshots of from the 2002 or 2003 times, but these screenshots are full of static because of the defective TV tuner I had. I would really like to record videos of this and other things.
There's also FF6 (known as FF3 on the system). Sure I have the PSX version, but the PSX version suffers major frame rate problems (which is odd in that a system about 4 or so times more powerful than the SNES is unable to draw 10 32x32-pixel sprites whereas the SNES can) and I'd love to see how meteor looks at true speed. Meteor is my top favorite effect of all FF games that I've at least seen. The PSX plays it at half speed due to the frame rate problems.
Lastly, there's Mario, a generalization. The NES/SNES style Mario has all but vanished, at least that I've seen. Super Mario Sunshine kind of doesn't count, but it's the only known Mario game on the Gamecube. I don't know what the other systems have for that generation or the current generation (likely the Wii, a system I don't want due solely to the controller).
That's a quite a few reasons and you can see how my temptations are getting so high. It's that first one that's really doing it because it has such a strong effect. I haven't gotten one yet, however, but it seems like I may, with 95% certainty, get one within the next 3 months.
#14 2 items sold on Ebay... and quickly: They served no use for me so why have them when I get some return for them by selling on Ebay. Sure Paypal and their sudden use of fees took away a lot of motive, I had nothing to lose, in a sense. I had quite a bit to gain - money (from the sales though not much), a slightly cleaner room (I get rid of not only the items, but a few spare boxes lying around), and useful Ebay ratings. I've used Ebay for a long time, but I very rarely use it so I have a low score, at least it's 100% positive. This is about the only time I intend on using Ebay - if an item has no use for me at all and is highly unlikely to be used (looks at an old set of cheap, working speakers covered with dust, two hard drives that need to be wiped out, and my old MP3 player no longer in use but needs a new battery). So, what did I sell? Flight Simulator X (a simulation game with horrible keyboard controls (press and hold down and the pitch should accelerate upwards, not be based on number of key presses (which is repeated based on the keyboard repeat rate (which is maxed for me at 20 repeats a second (based on hypercount - it's just beyond my upper limit))), and the old TV2000 XP Expert TV tuner that wouldn't allow me to record from the microphone and keep the original source audio. Both items had their prices a little above what they were averaging on Ebay, but free shipping was offered to those within the US to counter this.
#15 YouTube unreadable for a week: Don't webmasters (or even programmers) ever learn? Has anyone taught webmasters (or programmers) that there are configuration settings to allow users to change default colors? It seems like no one has because Ebay and recently YouTube had this (Ebay still does), among a few others. If a user wants dark themses, webmasters (and programmers) must know about this or they'll encounter customer dissatisfaction from those that use and like dark themes (like I do). If the default color is dark and undefined but the text color is defined as black, then you're going to get readability problems by anyone who uses dark themes. Audacity has this (if you haven't seen my music-processing videos, much of the text is very hard to read (if not impossible with YouTube)). I, on the other hand, know about this feature and how it works, so I develop my site and programs to utilize this so you don't have readability troubles. I use 64 as a contrast threshold. If contrast is less than 64, text will be very hard to read. If it's greater than 64, then there won't be any major problems with readability. Here are screenshots of the recent YouTube problems and what I'm referring to. I also have a video posted on YouTube showing this same thing.
Screenshot #1: This is what I see when I view "my videos". I can read the stuff in the center, but the left pane is barely readable, especially the header. I can see something is there, but with a contrast of just 8 or so, it's impossible to read.
Screenshot #2: When I click the "26" on the top video, the most recent, this is what I see. Now, you tell me that you can read that without modifying the image or zooming in. I sure can't and I've got very good vision (I can read the microprint on check signature lines without the need of eye aids or magnification). Even with zooming in, it's difficult. I need at least 2x zoom in order to begin making anything out....
Screenshot #3: When I click the envelope icon, to view PM's (private messages), and recent video comments, this is what I see, with, of course, private stuff left out. This allows me to be able to work with PM's just fine.
Screenshot #4: Before January 15, 2009, this is how things appeared. Everything was easy to read and I don't have any problems at all reading this. Of course, the help section was of no use since everything is completely irrelevent....
Screenshot #5: When I view my channel, of which I very rarely view, everything is fine. This is because of one reason - the user can set the styles here to their best wishes. This can't be done with the rest of the YouTube website....
Screenshot #6: This is the same thing as screenshot #2, except when viewed with Internet Explorer. I strongly dislike using IE because I find it highly insecure (the main reason I went with Firefox). The only rare times I take it out is for testing. Oddly, everything is different and I can read the comments just fine.
Someone needs to retrain their webmasters (and programmers) so that they know about the existence of user themes, especially that dark themes can be used as well. Assuming that everyone uses a white background, which is what Windows uses by default, is unwise, considering that Windows and almost any browser has a feature to set default colors and when colors are not defined, what is set in the browser or Windows themes is what will be used.
#16 From homogenized (red) milk to skim (pink) milk: For well over a decade, potentially even 2 decades or longer, I've always used homogenized milk (the type with the red carton printing). I recall an event in kindergarten where I got a bad-tasting bit of the 2% milk (the blue carton), and I refused to drink it. It was a one-cup-sized carton. I asked for the red type, but they refused, so I asked for the pink type (skim milk) and they accepted it. I was the only one that, thus, used it. To this very day, I still don't get why milk is often served in school at this low of a grade level (I often consider kindergarten as grade 0 and preschool as grade -1.) but not throughout much of the rest of the time. Well, it was during late February that I changed to using the pink milk, first to try it and how much of an effect it had toward my Hamburger Helper and macaroni and I can barely make out any difference. Then again, it could be my weak sense of taste as well. Skim milk is supposedly better for you so I'm taking the opportunity to squeeze out more calories.
#17 Sand blasting... for the first time: Sand blasting - all that dust fills the air, but it cleans metal quite well. However, instead of doing it in the open, polluting the air, a dedicated chamber is used which keeps almost all of the airborne particles inside. It also minimizes waste by recycling - reusing the sand over and over again. On Jan 24, this is when it happened. I was given this small piece of metal 16x10 inches in size to remove rust from. It took a bit of time to get used to, but, since I learn best by fiddling with things, I did a little experimenting before I went to the main task.
#18 Homestead revisited, for a bit: Years ago, before I even first had my site, I recall using Homestead, a program that builds Web sites visually instead of textually (like I do with Wordpad). At the time, it was free, but then, suddenly, I couldn't save at all because I had to pay for it in order to do so. It isn't the first version of my site, since I don't think it ever went online. Just recently, I tested it out, but I found the program far too limiting. You can't manipulate the HTML like I'm used to, grid snapping is always to multiples of 10 (there doesn't seem to be an option to change this to, say, 4, 5, or 8 (I like powers of 2), since 10 seems a bit much. The grid size is multiples of 30, which is rather odd (50 I'd expect more, along with 25). The worst of all, of which I didn't experience, is that it won't accept PNG images at all and I'm quite dependent on it (GIF and JPG are the only things supported, but GIF is limited by colors and JPG is lossy while PNG has neither such limit making it better). I don't use such programs to build my site with. Instead, I just use Wordpad, a simple text editor or toned-down version of Word. While I don't get much sense of the visual layout, at least I get full control on almost everything but it does require knowledge of HTML. Most of what I do when I update my site is type actual human-readable text, spending far, far more time doing that than formatting HTML. On top of that, I've got shortcuts I use for getting the HTML aspects done quickly. Despite taking about 20 total hours for an update, only 5 or so minutes is spent toward typing HTML content, just a measely 0.4% of the total, and this is a high-end estimate.
#19 My parents wanted and got a Wii - what the!?: Now this is something I find very strange. Neither of my parents play video games at all. Nope, they've never played Mario, Sonic, Final Fantasy, anything. But, suddenly, they were, during the Christmas time, looking desperately for a Wii but no one in town had one. I have no interest in the console at all solely because of the controller. I'd rather put up with the defective (weak buttons) controller for my Genesis to play Bubsy than use the Wii....
#20 Hole-ripped sheets finally replaced: For over a year, almost a year and a half, I had the same bed sheet, but it was getting small tears. It started because I simply stepped in just the right spot and a hole was formed, just a small one. Over time, as I stepped in that spot, the hole got progressively bigger, but it was slow. With the bigger hole, I began to also trip over it which made it still bigger. During the start of 2009, the holes were so big, nearly a square foot (folding the sheet made it nearly 4 square feet at the biggest), that it was becoming annoying. Negative motive prevented me from doing anything with the sheets. During February when I was actively playing FF6, this hole was getting annoying, so much so that I had to had to go to another position about 2 feet away that is less comfortable than the sheets originally were. It wasn't until the start of March that I finally had the motive go above everything so that I could change the sheets.
If this long wait isn't unusual, it's still nothing compared to that with cleaning my room - it hasn't been cleaned since April of 2004, which is when I moved into my current room! Unlike the sheets where they were causing annoyances with both sleeping and playing my games, my room isn't causing as much of an annoyance. The motive is climbing, but very slowly.
#21 21 new dreams - one very well-recalled: I haven't been recalling dreams as much lately, but even then, I still have 21 new dreams available. One of these dreams, involving Borneo, is a high-favorite and is very well-recalled (88% in tact for the story), something that hasn't happened in quite a while. There are now 789 dreams.
#22 Dream journal redesign: It's messy I tell ya, messy. It's cluttered with references to old formats and designs, along with other things. The "other" category is getting too cluttered as well that for the video game dreams and travel dreams. This new design will be not available until it's fully completed. I can tell you that there are 21 categories in all and the main document is only 1/3 as big. The dream title banners are also changed some, though this isn't entirely certain yet. Instead of seeing "Dream 14-12: Title", you'll see either "[ ] real exploration 12: Title" or just "[ ] 12: Title" or something like that. The "[ ]" is an image representing that of the category such as a ghost for "nightmares", a world map for "foreign travel", etc.. Some elements are currently uncertain such as those with "fictional" in it, though I'm thinking about having the image on a book page or something. The images will be something like 48x24 pixels and I may make the dream number as an image as well, resembling a puffy cloud.
I actually started the redesign back in 2006 or 2007, but motive went into negative territory and it stopped. This, however, only referred to the ratings bars and not the redesign of the dream journal itself. Some dreams are also listed in a nonchronological order, especially the older, pre-2004 dreams. The ratings bars of dreams pre-2007 or so use the confusing and often misleading 0 to 10 scale. Misleading: I use too high of values for high-rated dreams. Because of this, the dream journal document is cluttered up with details about this older, confusing system. By converting these to the current format, I can get rid of this and clean up the mess some. The FAQ is also being moved to a separate page, further uncluttering it. It's mostly just the older dreams that really need the ratings bars converted. The newer ones don't but they still need to be reread to determine their category in greater detail, due to many categories being split and even new creations (chases and escapes for example). A dream formerly marked as 5-108 may be something completely different, whether 20-14, 6-8, or even 2-62, I won't really know. The category number and even dream ID number are almost certainly going to change.
This adjustment may take a few weeks to do, at best, but once it's done, I won't have to do it again. Any new dreams, even it goes on for another year, won't likely have to be redone though since they'll quickly be in their rightful category and already preprocessed. I'm hoping to get done with it before June of 2009.
#23 Blue-white car headlights - outlaw those things!: As I go to the grocery store, I'm often faced with vehicles having these very bright, blinding blue-white lights. They're apparently 4 times brighter (about 80 lux versus 20 at about 8 feet (2 1/2 meters) ahead - a rough estimate with a considerable logarithmic margin of error of about 40%). In the city, they're not too much of a problem, because the street lights and building lights help. However, there's a big problem when you're outside of a city. These things are so bright that they blind oncoming drivers due to the glare making the driver unable to see the road. Even though I don't drive and I have very good vision (500 to 600 dpi), even I can't see the road due to the glare. This doesn't happen with the standard headlights.
As a consequence, these headlights should be banned. They may help the driver see better, but it seriously hinders the ability for other drivers approaching that car to see anything in rural areas. They even make it harder to see while in the city as well, especially a low-light city like my medium-small-sized home town.
#24 If I were to donate money, I'd put it...: Let's say I won a sweepstakes, but there were strings attached. I won $250 and was to donate 20% of that (which is $50). The guidelines state that the donation can go to whatever charity or the related I wanted, as long as it was donated, otherwise, I don't get any of the money. Above all, I'd put that $50 toward the environment and to fight global warming, and I wouldn't hesitate to do it. $50 toward the environment, in the long run, is like $200 toward Red Cross (and that's without inflation) or even $1000 for a coastal metro area. I get this for one reason. With continued global warming due to things like CO2 (carbon dioxide) and CH4 (methane), deforestation, etc., the polar ice caps and Antarctica's ice sheets would melt and raise sea level. It's already happening and it seems to be getting worse. With sea level rise, coastal cities, where most live, will frequently be flooded (or even be permanently flooded and cost a huge amount. With flooded cities, the residents would have to move elsewhere and it would cause chaos all over. If Katrina was bad, think about it happening along every coastline around the entire planet. While $50 toward environmental protection may not seem like much at first, it'll amount to a few hundred in the long run. What about the Red Cross? With a lot of climate refugees, they'll easily get overwhelmed. I, thus, would think that tackling the global warming issue should be next to the top for priorities, almost tied with that of fixing the economy.
#25 Daylight saving time - my thoughts on it: I hate it, but that's not the point of this headline. Instead, it's about how I feel it should work. Instead of adding an hour for about 6 (now 8) months, make it subtract an hour and leave it constantly subtracted (that is, so clocks don't have to get set frequently). Let's consider each detail more closely and how my idea is justified.
Let's begin with the current setup. From mid March until, I think, mid October (that's 7 months) within the same year, clocks must set ahead one hour. Let's take the typical 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM work day. One wakes up probably at, say, 6:30 AM. If the clocks were set ahead, this means the real time (astronomical time as I sometimes call it) is 5:30 AM. The Sun is at the lowest elevation at midnight real time and highest at noon real time. This means that 6:00 AM should, in a sense, be sunrise for the equinoxes. At this time, it's quite dark out early on. It'll be quite light out by the time they leave for work, at 9:00 AM which is 8:00 AM real time. At the end of the day, it's 4:00 PM real time but 5:00 PM for the clocks. For 8 hours of sleep, the norm, bed time hovers around 10:30 PM which is 9:30 PM real time - the Sun has already set long ago.
Now, let's consider my idea where clocks are set back instead of forward. 9:00 AM on the clocks is actually 10:00 AM real time and 6:30 AM is actually 7:30 AM real time. This way, the Sun can be used to wake up. At the end of the day, 5:00 PM, the real time would be 6:00 PM where the Sun is about to set. With the Sun set, energy-hogs like air conditioners don't have to run at full force as much because it'll be naturally cooler, saving energy and thwarting global warming. Artifical lighting will still be needed and more often though, but these, now, don't have much of an effect. At bed time, 10:30 PM, the real time is 11:30 PM. During the summer, this is a little different. The Sun rises much earlier and sets later. Sunrise may be 4:30 AM astronomical time and sunset may be 7:30 PM astronomical time (this'll obvious vary depending on your latitude). 4:30 AM becomes 3:30 AM on clocks while 7:30 PM becomes 6:30 PM.
From what I'm getting on the way this is, I think that the optimal thing is to just not have daylight savings at all, since it gives an optimal balance between the benefits of each. Adding hours gives more daylight toward the end of the day for doing things outside during the warmer seasons, but subtracting hours saves energy. This method allows natural sunlight to wake up from, limits the need of air conditioners for those that don't go out much but also needs less artificial lighting as well. It seems like the optimal balance - just go back to the astronomical time system used for millennia.
Feb 1: Eat, daily check, work on and finish banners, play Tomba for a bit, then play FF5, resuming. I primarily focused on leveling and mastering jobs using the best and fastest training grounds, accessible as soon as the submarine is available - it's a short cave. I got almost 2500 ABP just today alone. My ear is apparently back to normal now. Woke up at 4:17 PM and went to bed at 7:01 AM. Feb 3: FF5 dominated the day. I'm still after mastering the jobs. I'm now almost done. Level 63 is my current level as well and I need over 100,000 EXP for another level. Once jobs are mastered, shield dragon seems decent for leveling... to some extent. I also got a video of this, fully processed and uploaded. 2 handed+Sshot on a physical powerhouse would make quick work of enemies. Woke up at 5:41 PM and went to bed at 7:16 AM. Feb 4: Got somewhat rudely woke up at 5:06 PM but couldn't get back to sleep. All jobs are mastered for what is available. 2-handed plus Sshot means 15,000 damage! I have yet to find the grand combo. After mastering, I found the other 2 lithographs. Woke up at 6:08 PM and went to bed at 10:32 AM. Feb 5: Another dream involving a supernova.... Processing documents, after eating, was first, then FF5. Now I'm stuck again. I've visited every dot on the map but nothing. One with a time limit I don't like. I got the legendary weapons (I thought I could only get 3 of them, not all 12, and spent a while reloading memos and seeing the effects of each. I got all white, black, and time magic, 4 of 33 blue magic (!), and a few summons are missing. One job is supposedly missing, still. Given the manual, it's mime. I'm still looking for better leveling grounds though - 1000 EXP per battle and 120,000 to get is a bit slow. This 2 abilities for the "bare" job is quite limiting. 3 or 4 would be nice. Woke up at 9:24 PM and went to bed at 1:16 PM. Feb 6: FF5 dominated the day. I explored new areas. I found an area that serves as a very good training ground, the fastest I have - 1200 EXP per battle and 45 seconds per battle for 1600 EXP per minute - 30% faster than before. Seeing how fast I could take on enemies, even one with 25,000 HP, I thought I'd try that 7-minute time limit area. I did it in 5 and got another job - mime. While it had 3 abilities that can be set, it's equipment is weak. But, I have a way to, in one round, deal nearly 60,000 damage - Sshot and 2 weapons. With this, I can take on pretty much anything. I'm now after mastering it in my new leveling area. Woke up at 11:36 PM and went to bed at 1:20 PM. Feb 7: Eat, daily check, then FF5. I attempted to get a video of the new leveling grounds video, but I need take 2. I took a shower then went to dad's work place for a discussion with someone. I left for the grocery store soon after, getting lunch (unexpected) beforehand. I went to bed after putting my stuff away, 20 hours awake. Woke up at 11:45 PM and went to bed at 5:57 PM. Feb 8: Slept 10 1/2 hours... FF5 finally done! It took 2 years, but the space area has the best music (processed in full) and best area for ABP. I had to defeat Omega to get there and it took several tries thanks to its counter attack that I couldn't prevent. 3 uses of Sshot and it was history. Just have someone available to jump or hide first then unleash Sshot and it was history. Let them come back to restore HP and confusion and repeat. I got a video of Sshot's effectiveness. Sshot gets rid of practically anything before it acts, except for counterattacks or if the enemy has over 60,000 HP and is fast. The Ragnarok sword increases this to 64,000 and that's without criticals. The song and video were processed at the day's end. The video was uploaded. The song is best around 90% true speed. Woke up at 5:26 AM and went to bed at 9:42 PM. Feb 9: Slept 7 hours after being awake for 17 1/2? I went to bed drowsy 4 hours after getting up. I ate, did my daily check, then leveled in FF5 for a bit. I got another 70 minutes more sleep. I reached level 78, finding a much faster leveling ground. I set up the form for the list of weapons, but haven't set up the table or query yet. I've also somewhat updated the plans list, since several areas haven't been accounted for plan changes over the last 8+ months. Masamune guarantees first strike, even without high speed. Sshot is defense-ignoring too! It was extremely foggy out - 1/4-mile visibility, if that. Woke up at 6:20 AM, went to bed at 10:11 AM, woke up again at 12:23 PM, then went to bed at 11:38 PM. Feb 10: Working on my 2D RPG's plan dominated the day, redoing the design of the main menu to account for the latest plans, now targeting 1440x900 for the resolution, for maximum compatibility and quality for target release times (like 5 years down the road). No FF5 was done. The roads were all iced up so dad stayed home. Mom had to go and she forgot something important to her.... Woke up at 8:50 AM and went to bed at 12:00 AM. Feb 11: What a weird dream that was! FF6 dominated the day, focused on leveling. I went with a party of 2 instead of 4 to speed up leveling. I brought Cyan in and got him from level 26 or so to 39, attempting to learn spells as well. Terra is the other, since she has ultima available (upon reaching a level around the max), among others. I could pretty much actually solo, getting 1500 EXP in one battle, in the first world! Woke up at 10:19 AM and went to bed at 11:47 PM. Feb 12: FF6 dominated the day. I continued leveling for a bit then made story progress. I got a video of the burning house scene I recall from 13 years ago (or so). I reached the final event of the first world then resumed leveling for a bit. I got the battle music (not yet processed for my MP3 player), then processed the video. I uploaded it to YouTube then updated my desktop background - it was 10 or so months old. Woke up at 11:34 AM and went to bed at 5:06 AM. Feb 13: Friday the 13th - superstitious? Eat, grocery shopping, daily check, FF6 - Celes at level 57 (6 levels in an hour (about 130,000 EXP)). I ate again watching TV and "Door to the Dead", then went to bed. Woke up at 2:48 PM and went to bed at 2:30 AM. Feb 14: The day of love, as I call Valentine's Day. FF6 dominated the day. First it was leveling some then I had the urge to start a new game. My intent was to finish the first half of the game as quickly as possible then focus on leveling upon reaching the floating continent part. The river event was done with just 340 HP for Banon, which resembles exactly what I saw the 2 friends 13 years ago have. I still found the boss (Ultros) quite easy which makes me wonder why they didn't let me try it. I've reached the opera house event, not yet started. The opera house is a boring one, though not as bad as the loss of the good world map music during the second half of the game. I could go to that leveling ground and fare quite well. I spent the first 2 hours listing benefits of making TSO 2.5D - there's over 20! Woke up at 1:18 PM and went to bed at 6:46 AM. Feb 15: FF6 dominated the day. I reached the point I was after 2 days ago... at level 25 to 27 for most. The house fire thing wasn't too bad though oddly, using osmose on that boss defeated it (since I was low on MP from curing everyone repeatedly). I then began soloing in my main leveling area. At level 28, it's possible and not all that tough. I reached 42 in only 2 1/2 hours. Relm is the lowest of all at 24, but it seems possible as low as 18 (if you get this far on that low of a level). Terra is the main one I want levelled. Woke up at 3:48 PM and went to bed at 6:20 AM. Feb 17: FF6 how to solo video was recorded and processed in full - it took a long time to process, especially the time lapse part, and the video was uploaded as well, including adding annotations. I grade part 1 a B+, part 2 an A-, and part 3 a B. I sorted my videos at day's end, doing cleanup - 20 GB saved! I got Celes to level 37 by day's end. It's also the last day of analog TV - uh oh! Woke up at 4:20 PM and went to bed at 8:41 AM. Feb 18: Level 38 or so to 63... in 5 hours. I found a new area for soloing that is not only easier, but twice as fast. I want to get a video of this, but I want it a bit before I get meteor. At level 61, it only takes 8 to 10 minutes for a level up - it's that fast! Before FF6, I looked through computer hardware for 5 hours to get an idea on the total cost for a new budget computer for someone. I only encountered one problem - motherboard compatibility. Woke up at 7:13 PM and went to bed at 9:58 AM (±1 minute). Feb 19: FF6 dominated the day. I reached level 96 - 3 more to go and at 180,000 EXP per hour, 99 is reachable in 80 minutes. Meteor is available in under an hour, at level 98. Level 96 in the first world... a video is due! Level 1 fire does over 6000 damage targeting multiple fire-weak enemies - yow! I got pearl and flare as well... in the first world. Pearl comes in the 70's (past 1 million EXP) flare on 81 or 82. I have someone on 96, another on 43, and the rest in the 20's. What an odd combo for levels.... Woke up at 7:52 PM and went to bed at 11:46 AM. Feb 20: Working on a car dashboard dominated the day. I just went on to redo the gauges and the 2 big ones are especially nice. I like the RPG one - my favorite of the 5. I'm supposed to animated it (the needles mainly). The first frame is done but the other 77 should be quick. In FF6, I got meteor in the first world and got a video to prove it. In addition, I got level 99 as well. I replaced Celes with Terra and got her to 45. Until I one-hit everything, the process won't be all that fast. Woke up at 9:49 PM and went to bed at 1:05 PM. Feb 21: Eat, daily check, form plan for gauge animation, FF6 to gain levels (12 in 100 minutes) to 58, shower, leave for dad's work place, go grocery shopping, eat upon coming home, then went to bed. Woke up at 10:52 PM and went to bed at 4:21 PM. Feb 22: Between the laptop troubles (now drivers) and the dashboard animation, I didn't get a chance to play FF6. The dashboard animation is done - forgetting to charge my MP3 player's battery did it. The laptop (Dell Inspiron 5100) was also restored but I constantly had internet troubles since the driver was unavailable. 500 MB of downloading got nowhere. No USB controller means no mouse.... An found repair/restore CD makes this much more difficult.... Woke up at 3:31 AM and went to bed at 7:45 PM. Feb 23: Drowsy all day - I hate that.... For FF6, I got Terra to level 77, getting "quartr" on 75. At day's end, I began making my 2D RPG's world map, working on the area where the first events occur. Finish it and the story could be done in greater depth. Woke up at 4:21 AM and went to bed at 5:46 PM. Feb 24: 2 dreams in one night - nice! Level 81 and lots of progress with my 2D RPG's world map, all in the starting area. I'm basically doing the world map in the intended order of the story, taking notes as I go along. I left off, on one of the areas of my visions, a favorite. There's other visions as well, one done. Woke up at 4:59 AM and went to bed at 8:09 PM. Feb 25: Metroid dreams... oy! Level 99 and ultima at last! Strago is next (to 60 or so) followed by Locke, to 70 or so. On CNN, I first heard of "Locke", not knowing at all if it was a real name. FF seems to like using rare names.... I got a video of both ultima and meteor together in use. It also seems like researching on my dreams may be done - details classified.... I made little progress on the world map, mostly mountains on the starting continent (it's unnamed, not necessarily classified but would be even if I did think of a name for it). Woke up at 6:33 AM and went to bed at 12:03 AM. Feb 26: Dream journal reorganization started. The main document, now 1/3 the size, is done, but the FAQ still remains (it'll go on a separate page. I'm making a master list of all dreams, converting the ratings bars into the new system's design (needed to unclutter the main document), reorganize them so they're listed chronologically, and reassign categories as needed (into one of now 21 categories). 19 dreams have been processed, all 15 computer ones (2 are multicategory) and 4 exploration ones that haven't gone into either of the exploration dream categories. When the master list is done, then I put all dreams into their rightful categories and paginate as needed. Woke up at 9:30 AM and went to bed at 11:17 PM. Feb 27: 2 dreams in one night, again. One is quite well-recalled. I did a few more dreams, but ate, got involved with trying to sell the TV tuner (the old TV2000 XP Expert) and Flight Simulator X (bad keyboard controls). Grocery shopping was mixed in. Science News came at last! Mountains So Far Away at 45% true speed on my MP3 player is excellent. Woke up at 8:50 AM and went to bed at 1:04 AM. Feb 28: Flight Simulator X sold already!? Wow! I have 2 watching the old TV tunerr last I checked. I have 24 dreams processed with number 25 started - drowsiness made progress halt, followed by FF6 which made up the rest of the day. I got Strago to level 52 then swapped him out with Gau who is already level 45 (from 28) and he has to learn every spell, including 2 required ones - vanish to prevent damage and osmose to keep MP in check. Next is Locke, who I haven't seen what he looks like when casting. Woke up at 11:36 AM and went to bed at 1:29 AM.
The news entry headlines in bold are color-coded for a reason. They tell how big the event was for the headlines and how good my day was for the daily entries. From May 2006 onward, a slightly different system is used, of which has triple the precision. For dates prior to this that use color coding, from the white color, skipping two to red and so on is used. Here's what each color represents (for updates to before May of 2006):