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Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Completly Oblivious

Bethesda Softworks has finally got Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion on the shelves. Needless to say, since Elder Scrolls III is the basis for Arvil Bren's Journal this is big news around me. My oldest son, who introduced me to the Elder Scrolls games in the first place, had a preorder copy which arrived the day it hit stores, and I built him a new machine specifically to play it. In return he bought me a copy, which I loaded into my almost current game machine. It is the totally immersive experience that is the claim to fame of the Eleder Scrolls, and I'd say neither of us is disappointed. But there are some key bits of information...

The PC version has a few bugs, and Bethesda is apparently working on a patch. This is not too surprising really. ESIII: Morrowind went through the same kind of growing pains, which I was happy to have missed out on. The patch will be available to download at some point, and some people might want to wait for it. The most aggravating bug to me is that the installshield seems to never quite close (has worked exactly once in a series of five reinstallations done for various reasons).

Next on my irritant list is the system requirements. The kid's a hard worker and pretty frugal about almost everything else, so for him to be able to spring $1700 for a machine geared to top the recommended specs in almost all areas was not a big surprise. His old one was a dinosaur. My game machine though is not that far out of date...really...no, really, it isn't! But, I was willing to go with the 'it's a cutting edge game so a little out of date is too much...we couldn't make it reverse compatible' explanation. Except I think the guys at Bethsoft should have been able to do it during the years we've been waiting, since a couple of 'garage developers' on the fan boards have gotten it done in the couple weeks since it was released. Okay, maybe they had beta copies, I dunno, but anyway.

So on my machine that doesn't meet the minimum processor speed, barely meets minimum memory, and has an 'unsupported' video card, oblivion runs like a bat outta hell, and looks quite a bit better than Morrowind does, though nothing like it looks on Scott's new machine. It's fun to play though, no doubt, and until my loyal readers come through with a vid card it will have to do.

Here's how it's done, for those who want to know:

This site belongs to the community minded guy who came up with the 'Oldblivion' loader. It loads reverse engineered 'shaders' that work with older vid cards that another guy developed, and automatically does all the patching to make them work. The shader package is bound into the zip file, so it's a one stop shop. You will note there are some cards listed as 'unsupported' (even here), and some listed as 'poorly supported' (which are unfortunately very common, but here's the good news) including mine. However, 'poorly supported' is actually due to the cards being technically capable of dealing with the new generation shaders. In fact my machine can run a good high visual quality slide show without using the Oldblivion patch, it's just too slow to be playable. So the trick is to change one switch in the ini file to force the shader selection into the patch. No big sweat. After that it was just a matter of getting settings that didn't overwork the slightly shaky system.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

It takes a Superbowl

Okay, so it's been months since I posted anything. But I'm back. Mostly the 'politics free zone' was a mistake. Most things I have found humerous or rant-worthy the last few months have been political. Now I'm gonna rant about football, which is probably too close to politics anyway.

How can I rant about football? It's OVER. Dead and stinkin'. Well, there is the ProBowl. As I said, over, dead and stinkin'. Who cares about the ProBowl? I wish the football pundit media did, maybe they could stop yammering about the 'bad calls' in the Superbowl. They could talk about the ProBowl, or they could admit there's no football going on and turn the sports pages over to the annual NBA/NHL battle for column space...but NO...they are creating a bad call controversy like some sort of desperate cottage industry.

The Seattle media is of course taking the lead. They want to talk endlessly about the pass interference call on Darrell Jackson. The ball is going to Jackson's left. He launches himself that direction with both feet and his right hand on the defender and makes the catch. There wasn't a lot of contact with the defender, but that IS pass interference...'pushing off to get an advantage'. Outside of the most rabid Seattle fans I don't think anyone is denying that there was interference. The big argument seems to be 'it wasn't MUCH contact, so it COULD have been let go since Seattle scored on the play'? Why? So the media could be screaming on Pittsburg's behalf instead?

The Seattle fans might be better served asking Jackson why he persistently ran his go routes like there was extra credit for tight-roping the sideline. Had he not been out of bounds on all his subsequent potential touchdowns the pass interference call would have been a moot point.

Then there's the Rothlisberger touchdown call. A Seattle defender has been quoted saying 'he didn't score, we pushed him back'. The Seattle media has blathered that for a week. I think the guy who said it is correct, they pushed him back. When he is about a foot and a half off the ground the ball is excruciatingly close to the goal line, and by the time he reaches the ground it is not. Before they pushed him back did the ball reach the goal line? Seattle fans say no, of course. Pittsburg fans say yes, of course. Anyone else who isn't trying to stoke a controversy says 'geez that was close' and moves on. That was about all anyone could say from watching the replay, including the referee who reviewed the call.

Then there's the offensive lineman called for holding who doesn't even deny that he held on the play. He just says the defender was offsides, like that makes holding okay. The media types of course break out the old chestnut about 'there's holding on every play'. No one bothers to mention that since the guy felt justified about the holding because of his beliefs about the offsides he just dragged the guy down like a crocodile with a gazelle. They also don't talk about the line officials on both sides of the field watching for offsides and false starts. There may be holding every play going uncalled, but when's the last time you saw the two guys staring straight down the line miss a false start or an offsides?

To top things off we have Mike Holmgren stirring the pot. He blamed the bad calls on his way off the field at halftime, and no doubt he continued to do so after the game. Maybe if he had been thinking less about bad calls at halftime he might have done something about the atrocious display of clock management his team had just finished the half with and they wouldn't have done even worse with the clock at the end of the game. That would be a lot to ask of him though, we are talking about a coach who complained about the officiating EVERY time his team lost this season. Hell, he complained about the officiating when his team WON!

I think today I read my last football column for the season. I expect they will all just be reruns from now until the draft.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Can't Stand Prosperity

This week I have actually gotten ahead on my writing. I used to always keep two or three days ahead on my serial fiction, just in case I had a day where something really got in the way. Unfortunately that got sidetracked before the rash of computer problems and laziness came along. Anyway, I'm finally getting back on an even keel...I thought.

Then I somehow managed to post tomorrow's entry this morning. Daft. Completely daft.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005


Some friends of my girlfriend are in a battle with Best Buy over a defective television. She came home last night and asked me "What's that consumer advocate guy's name?" I did know one off the top of my head, oddly enough, so rather than a more generic search she went to the internet looking for David Horowitc.

I remember him having a segment on local news in LA called 'Fight Back' I think. You could write to him care of the station and he would go after the evil car dealer, insurance adjuster...whatever. He came off like a real do gooder. When I was a car salesman I was not impressed by some of his stuff with car dealers, since it often seemed like blackmail; 'you are definitely in the right, but once we splatter you over the airwaves that won't matter' type stuff.

I feel vindicated now. I hadn't seen Mr Do Gooder on the air in a long time, but he is apparently still active. If you have a consumer type problem he will resolve it, according to his website. As I well remember, he makes no distinction about whether or not you are in the right, he just trusts his market power to force the company to give in...for a minor fee. Of course if the target checks his website they will see that all they need to do is hold out through three letters...since that is all you get from him for your $175.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Another trip to the airport

I've been comparing. Last week I went to LAX to pick up my mom. Dropping her off for her trip was easy, I didn't even have to park the car. Going to pick her up was typical. I seem to be cursed. When I meet a plane it is generally late.

It was made worse by really knowing her plane would be late. The weather that day had the biggest storm cell in the country looming over the midwest; a huge blot obstructing the path from Chicago to LA. But knowing that makes no difference when you are a couple hours from the airport.

So the logistics of the pick up trip are definitely worse than the drop off.

But today my girlfriend is coming back from a business trip to Dallas. This will be a great visit to the Burbank airport. Far better than taking her down there Monday.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

I'm so proud of myself

Blogger's spell checker has been on the fritz for three days. So far I've gotten no editorial comments on Arvil Bren: Trail of the Archmage. Three posts proofed mano a mano. And I didn't even throw this out there on Monday as a plea for mercy.

What I'm most proud of though is that I am getting back on track with the writing every day.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Trying to find humor

I have this idea that what I write here should be funny. Maybe not every time, but at least frequently. I'm pretty good at keeping myself amused at the misadventures of my day to day life, so one would think I should be able to point out at least one thing that I laughed about today.

Unfortunately I recognize that a lot of my amusement arises from things that would fall into a lot of people's idea of 'sick humor', and in the wake of the hurricane that demands some discretion, even from me. Plus, I've promised to keep politics out of this blog, so the biggest jokes of the moment are out of bounds. You know who they are.