alias_sqbr: (dreamwidth)
This is my personal/fannish journal. For topics I feel require a more serious and moderated approach I have [personal profile] sqbr.

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Things I assume you know about me.

Things I like in creative works.
alias_sqbr: (dagna)
I've been thinking that maybe all the current races are elves who've been cut off from the Fade to various extents and in different ways.
Read more... )
alias_sqbr: Zuko with a fish on his head (avatar)
Overall the show ended really well, and if you gave up in books 1 or 2 it has gotten much better since then.

The main issue with this season is that it gave me what I wanted, eg one of the weirdly hot animated morally ambiguous badass butch brunette women is in her 30s instead of super young or super old...and she's basically Hitler. THANKS SHOW. THAT TOTALLY MAKES ME FEEL LESS WEIRD.
Read more... )
alias_sqbr: (dagna)
So playing an ambitious, violent, snarky "screw the chantry" elf continues to be fun as I near the end of the game. Right now I am at level 17 and about 38 hrs playtime, things are definitely going faster than last time.
Read more... )
alias_sqbr: Apologises for the terrible prose it's probably accompanied by, reads an e e cummings poem (Default)
As developed trying to finish a Phd with worsening cfs, and then doing Coursera courses with even worse cfs. I initially wrote this in response to a particular person then realised that in the meantime they'd dropped the class, making it unhelpful. So I guess advice part zero is: sometimes the smartest choice is not to write the essay at all. But if you're going to...

Just sit and type out whatever stream of consciousness thoughts come into your head. Make note of (a)any main ideas which seem good (b) anything you'd like to explore but need more info on. Take a moment to look at your draft and decide if you want to change anything about the overall structure/theme.

Then sit and slowly hit your head against each of the smaller parts. Research any holes. Turn each small idea into a complete paragraph/section. Don't worry about the bigger picture, or about being good.

Throw it all together. Do a rough read through to find any major errors or inconsistencies that jump out at you. Halfass an intro and conclusion by just smooshing together roughly one idea from each paragraph/section with some attempt at an overarching theme.

Once all that's done, consider trying to make it good. Accept it probably never will be.

Hand it in anyway and feel GODDAMN PROUD.

And if you can't do any of that, that's ok.
alias_sqbr: (ham!)
I feel lIke I watched/read a bunch of stuff lately but all that comes to mind is...

Silver Spoon: a really good comedy/slice of life anime about a scholarly teenage boy who burns out during his middle school exams and so decides things will be easier at an agricultural highschool. I watched the first episode months ago and decided I wasn't in the mood, then devoured the rest of the two seasons in two days. It ends in one of those "pretty satisfying considering it's based on an unfinished manga" places.

Based on manga by Hiromu Arakawa, the author of Full Metal Alchemist, who grew up on a dairy farm, so it's very well written, funny, thoughtful, heartwarming and bittersweet. Much lighter and more domestic than than FMA, but it doesn't totally sugarcoat the realities of dealing with livestock and the academic/economic pressures facing the students. Like FMA it focusses very much on guys, but treats it's female characters pretty well and I found the level of heteronormativity bearable. There's two fat characters (a boy and a girl) who eat a lot and are somewhat made fun of but are also sympathetic and not defined just by their weight.

My main issue is that I think I'd enjoy it more as an ensemble story, I like the main character but I would be happier with more from the point of view of other characters (...ok yes, mainly the girls) Might be annoying for vegetarians, since it's discussed as an option occasionally but universally rejected.

Spirits Abroad by Zen Cho: Just read the first two stories so far (I've got it on the kindle for waiting in doctor's surgeries) I quite liked them, they had the same cute, funny, empathetic style as the other stuff by her I've read, and it was cool reading stories set in Malaysia. She can be a little twee, but there's some nice social commentary in there too.

Both of these have settings I know very little about, so I can't say for sure that they're true to life, but they felt it. Everyone feels like a person, which is something I love in fiction. They're also both genres I usually avoid (shonen slice of life and short stories)
alias_sqbr: (dagna)
My new Inquisitor! She was designed to be fun to play and she is :D

Major spoilers )
alias_sqbr: (atlantis)
So I just read Ancillary Justice and Ancillary Sword by Ann Leckie and they were great, and aimed right at my id: intelligent space opera about a space ship AI stuck in the body of a human :D :D No time travel, alas, but she's thousands of years old and there's flashbacks to earlier times.

The plot is involving and the prose easy to read, I blew through both books in a day each. There's supposed to be a third book in the trilogy but both end on pretty satisfying notes. But I do hope the third comes out soon :)

They're not totally fluffy, there's serious themes like colonisation, rape, and grief and a fair number of unpleasant things happen, but the characters are likeable and develop satisfying relationships, by the end of each book I felt reasonably happy. I was reminded of the Culture novels, Vorkosigan novels, and *cough* the better written Homestuck fanfic about the Alternian empire. But with less makeouts and visceral violence, and not quite as satisfying as those at their best.

The narrator's culture is basically gender blind, so she calls everyone "she" and and every time she's expected to correctly guess people's gendered pronouns like it's obvious she gets gumpy. Most of the characters' genders are left ambiguous, which made for very interesting reading as I considered them as various combinations of male, female, or other.
Some thoughts about the world building, nothing too spoilery )
alias_sqbr: (dagna)
Overall: really liked it! I think I got a but overhyped about it being better than the previous games: it was, but was still the same basic kind of game. Which I like! But part of me hoped for something more unexpected.

No major spoilers, all stuff I would have wanted to know going in )
alias_sqbr: (dagna)
It's not a real Bioware game unless you end up staring at your screen in horror thinking "What have I done?".

I try to go with the decision I feel in my gut that I'll regret least, balancing being in character, interesting plot, not feeling gross (eg I am ALWAYS anti slavery, even if it makes sense in the universe, unless I KNOW that choice is actually worse for the slave(*)), and gameplay advantage. And I have tried REALLY HARD not to go back to previous saves and change my mind unless I genuinely misunderstood what the question was asking, reminding myself that a character who screws up and is left traumatised is an interesting character.

Marijn Cadash is turning out to be more and more interesting.

SPOILERS )

(*)Yes the fact that I have had to make this choice multiple times does say something unfortunate about Bioware's writing decisions. See also: all the times I had to decide whether or not to commit genocide, and all the mercy killings of disabled people. Sigh.
alias_sqbr: (genius!)
Distract me from the fact that I don't know exactly when my copy of Dragon Age Inquisition is arriving and I want it NOW.

No zombies. No Dragon Age either, just for this round :)

All prompts will be DROPPED LIKE A HOT POTATO once the game does arrive, but I’ll get back to them…eventually.
alias_sqbr: (genius!)
I was boggling that I hadn't done one of these since June then looked at my post titles for the last few months and remembered how sick I was for a while there. But I managed to draw some stuff anyway through the fog :) Also I got a copy of Manga Studio 5, which does some lovely lines and painting...that make my computer cry :(

All art has transcripts/descriptions at the link.

Prettiest:

Snow White and Red Riding Hood


Most interesting:
News From The Sea: A little fantasy comic adapted from this short story I wrote. Created for a Comic Books and Graphic Novels course. Transcripts in chapter 2.

As far as I can tell I got...120% for this comic? And that's getting less than half of the available extra credit. lol coursera. But it was fun!

Person of Interest, Avatar: The Legend of Korra/The Last Airbender, Guild Wars 2, Dragon Age Origins, Mass Effect 2, Red Dwarf, Bastion, Dr Who, Original, Game of Thrones, The Hobbit, Fresh Pretty Cure )
alias_sqbr: (up)
By sheer chance I met a guy who adapts cars and motorbikes to use lithium batteries as a side business. I asked if he did wheelchairs and he offered to take a look, in the end I decided not to go for it but thought people might find it interesting.

He spent a while poking through parts lists to find a combination which would fit the space and give me the amperage the chair needs, this could all be different with different chairs or a scooter. Also I may be confusing amps and volts etc, for some reason I find electronics really confusing. It's possible other mechanics (electricians?) could do a different setup with different specs, especially since wheelchairs aren't his speciality.

The overall cost was about $1500. About $900 for the batteries alone, I think. Ordering the parts would take a while, but the installation would take a few hours at the house.

He wasn't sure it would give me significantly more than the 10-15km I currently get with a brand new acid battery, and unless I paid an extra for a fancy new charger it wouldn't charge all that much faster. Also he'd have to do a few cludges to get everything to work, including gluing a simple "amps drawn" guage to the side of the controller which I would have to reset at the start of every trip. I'd have to watch the guage and remember the number that meant "about to run out of juice" because my only other warning would be the chair coming to a complete and utter stop.

The advantage is that the batteries wouldn't degrade. Currently my batteries last maybe a year if I'm lucky, and cost about $600 to change. Which sucks, but given all the downsides lithium doesn't seem like it's worth the change right now.

I haven't mentioned his name since the only contact I have is his Facebook, but if anyone wants his details I'm happy to pass them on. He's friendly and enthusiastic and his electric motorbike didn't explode or anything :)

Journey

Nov. 13th, 2014 08:44 pm
alias_sqbr: (I like pi!)
Journey was as beautiful, subtle, and affecting as everyone told me it would be.

What noone mentioned was that it's a #%^%$ing jumping game.

An artistic jumping game where your characters floats across the screen aesthetically instead of coming to a neat halt where you want them to.

On the plus side it's all pretty easy, and there's usually a way to get yourself back on track without too much trouble. But some of the transendental beauty was definitely spoiled by me shouting "NO NOT THAT WAY" at the screen as the PC artfully floated down past gorgeous landscapes I wanted it going up. I am really quite remarkably bad at jumping games.

But I did finish it, and it's an amazing game, so chances are unless you are SUPERNATURALLY bad at jumping games you should be ok. Just accept that there are some cool look shiny things on hard to get ledges you're going to have to let go.

I haven't mentioned the plot because there isn't that much of one...basically you are a little robed figure going on a surprisingly emotionally affecting journey across different landscapes, facing different challenges. There's no fighting, just exploring and interacting and jumping. There's also the apparently EVEN MORE TRANSCENDENTALLY BEAUTIFUL option to connect to other players via the Playstation network, we don't have that set up and it was still pretty great.

NOTE: it's only on Playstation. 3+ I think. We got one as a media centre which is working pretty well apart from the inability to read subtitles on avis.
alias_sqbr: (I like pi!)
So after putting it off for ages I sat and devoured books 2, 3, and 4 of the Steerswoman Series over the last day or two (here's my previous review: I am Doomed). And they were great, and the ending was satisfying enough for the middle of a series and no new books have been written in the series in over a decade.

They continue to be very readable, engaging, clever, compassionate science-y fantasy. They remind me a lot of Lois McMaster Bujold, though not as well written or morally complex and more science-y. The two flaws that bugged me were (a) The occasional Stupid Girly Mean Girl, and not many sympathetic girly girls to make up for it and (b) certain repeated plots. I like those plots, and they were all done well, but they were so similar it feels almost insulting that she still expects us to be surprised by the same twists.

She does the "wait did they have sex in that gap between chapters?" approach to relationships, but friendships are taken much more seriously. Some pretty awful things happen (including, very occasionally, to children), but the stories are mostly pretty optimistic. She seems to enjoy fridging men more than women :D

There's an unselfconscious diversity I like, gender and physical disability being the two done best, women and disabled people are just there being common and competent and actual people. The racial diversity is a little more heavy handed (and almost perpendicular to ethnic groups, whose depiction I'm still chewing over) and there is a single clunky scene of IT'S OK TO BE LESBIANS. Not so much with the trans or non binary people, while gender roles vary there's definitely Men and Women.

Anyway! If you can handle ending on "we have won this battle but not finished our overall quest" I reccomend the books pretty strongly.
alias_sqbr: (atlantis)
Do you like space? Like, really like space? Do you have a soft spot for theoretical physics taken to imaginative extremes? Can you cope with yet another story about the future and fate of the world which centers entirely around white american dudes (and a light scattering of white american ladies and black american dudes) to the extent that the entire rest of the world might as well not exist? Do you really like space?

Then you might enjoy Interstellar.

I do really like space, as long as it walks that careful line of realistic enough not to make me roll my eyes but over the top scifi-ish enough to be fun (eg more Contact than Gravity) And this movie walks that line pretty well, getting some physics right that NOONE EVER GETS RIGHT but willing to sacrifice accuracy for rule of cool here and there (also The Power of Love. Like Contact with The Power of Faith, except Mathew Maconnahey is older and on the other side of the argument. And the main character :/)

It's like a live action version of the 90s hard sf I devoured enthusiastically all through my late teens, getting through the slightly hackneyed personal relationships and self indulgent dull sections through solid sensawunda. Definitely worth seeing on the big screen, you have a lot of long 2001-esque shots of slowly revolving space stations to sit through.

The world building has some interesting aspects if you don't think too hard, and the plot is ok if ponderous and unsurprising. The female characters aren't quite as useless as the trailer implies, and the black guy gets...some lines...and they're all competent, driven science nerds. But this is very much a Christopher Nolan movie, with all the incoherent morality, skeevy subtext and parochial blather that implies. ALSO NOTE: the start of the film is literally just about farming. For ages.

But, eventually...space!

(Also some background AIs. Predictably, I am both impressed at how well they were made to feel like a natural part of the background worldbuilding without the movie ever losing Space momentum and becoming About AI, and wanting an ENTIRE MOVIE about them. Set in space. Starring all the non white dude science nerds, and space)

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