balooga's recent activity

  1. Comment on Sony cancels their plan to shut down the PlayStation Store for PS3 and PS Vita this summer in ~games

    balooga
    Link Parent
    I just hope we'll get PS3 (and prior) backward compatibility in some upcoming iteration of the Playstation. I was able to replace my PS4 with a PS5, but I still have to keep the old PS3 around for...

    I just hope we'll get PS3 (and prior) backward compatibility in some upcoming iteration of the Playstation. I was able to replace my PS4 with a PS5, but I still have to keep the old PS3 around for a good chunk of my game catalog. Sony would do well to consolidate all of the PS titles on a single platform, then they can pull the plug on the legacy stores as far as I'm concerned.

    3 votes
  2. Comment on What's a question you want to ask, but you're worried about how it might come across? in ~talk

    balooga
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    With apologies for my outsider terminology, I sometimes wonder if "out" nonbinary or trans people question whether the decision to transition resulted in a net improvement for their quality of...

    With apologies for my outsider terminology, I sometimes wonder if "out" nonbinary or trans people question whether the decision to transition resulted in a net improvement for their quality of life. As I understand it, it's liberating to align the gender you present with your inner identity, to correct gender dysphoria or find your true self. But in most cases, as far as I can tell, those wonderful benefits also come with the cost of judgment, microaggressions, discomfort, distrust, fear, misunderstanding, discrimination, harassment, and abuse from others. Not to mention the possibility of outright alienation from family and friends.

    I'm not excusing any of those things. Certainly not victim-blaming. But at this moment in history, any person considering a transition must be aware that those things will almost inevitably follow in some measure. It's wrong, but it's our present reality. To face that knowingly, and still proceed, takes a great courage. It seems like you'd be signing yourself up for a lifetime of frustration and anger, constantly switching between the roles of activist/educator and political punching bag, when maybe you just want to get on with your new life instead of making every moment about justifying and explaining it to people.

    I know that this is an opinion question and I'm sure everyone it applies to will have a different take on it. I'm not asking "do all trans people regret it" — but I am curious if, after however long it's been for you, you feel that what you have now is the same thing you signed up for, and whether the benefits of your chosen life over your previous one continue to outweigh the drawbacks.

    8 votes
  3. Comment on 7% of Americans don't use the internet in ~tech

    balooga
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    I'm not a statistician and I know Pew has a reputation for rigor. But I still have to wonder two things: Is a sample size of 1,502 really sufficient to draw conclusions about 250M adults? How does...

    Methodology

    The analysis in this report is based on telephone interviews conducted Jan. 25-Feb. 8, 2021, among a national sample of 1,502 adults, 18 years of age or older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia (300 respondents were interviewed on a landline telephone, and 1,202 were interviewed on a cellphone, including 845 who had no landline telephone). The survey was conducted by interviewers under the direction of Abt Associates. A combination of landline and cellphone random-digit-dial samples were used; both samples were provided by Dynata according to Abt Associates specifications. Interviews were conducted in English and Spanish.

    I'm not a statistician and I know Pew has a reputation for rigor. But I still have to wonder two things:

    • Is a sample size of 1,502 really sufficient to draw conclusions about 250M adults?
    • How does conducting surveys by random phone dial bias the results? Anecdotally, I and others I know won't even answer the phone if we receive calls from unknown numbers. I could have been selected and unwittingly denied the call, thus skewing the results toward those more likely to answer cold calls (a demographic I assume, but have no data to support, overlaps somewhat with those less likely to use the internet).
    8 votes
  4. Comment on 533 million Facebook users' phone numbers and personal data have been leaked online in ~tech

    balooga
    Link Parent
    Ah! Great security feature, that.

    Ah! Great security feature, that.

    2 votes
  5. Comment on How accurate are whois records? in ~tech

    balooga
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    I've fallen victim to domain front running before. It was for a unique, 3-word-long domain that I had never uttered to a soul besides the registrar search form. It was painfully obvious that this...

    I've fallen victim to domain front running before. It was for a unique, 3-word-long domain that I had never uttered to a soul besides the registrar search form. It was painfully obvious that this wasn't just a case of bad luck. Super scummy thing for the registrar to do, but on the bright side I was able to just wait out the 5-day grace period and pick it up from a different registrar. It ended up being a relatively minor inconvenience in the end.

    This was around 12 years ago or so, FWIW. The registrar was either GoDaddy or Register.com, I don't remember which (I've been burned by both of them and will no longer patronize either). My current registrar is Hover, which I endorse heartily.

    Sorry I don't have an answer to your question about the veracity of WHOIS record timestamps. Pretty intriguing twist if these guys are forging those to look more believable. It was only 4 hours off? Did you account for timezone offset, etc.?

    3 votes
  6. Comment on What did Ada Lovelace's program actually do? in ~comp

    balooga
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    This was a great read, thanks for posting. I loved the bit about how Note G actually included a legitimate claim for the title of Oldest Computer Bug. Interestingly, that predates both Grace...

    This was a great read, thanks for posting. I loved the bit about how Note G actually included a legitimate claim for the title of Oldest Computer Bug. Interestingly, that predates both Grace Hopper's literal bug (a moth) in 1947 and Edison's coining of the (computer-unrelated) term "bug" in 1873.

    I've been an admirer of mechanical computers and other clockwork devices for many years, from the Classical-age Antikythera mechanism up through chess-playing automata, Babbage's inventions, and of course the Wintergatan Marble Machine X. There's something almost magical about being able to observe the logic, up close and at any speed you like, as it physically flows through the device. As a modern software engineer, I'm used to having all the low-level computation abstracted away. But I'd encourage anyone in the field to explore the fundamental principles that make it all possible. A gravity-powered marble board like the Digi-Comp II (free replica details here) or Turing Tumble is a great place to start.

    5 votes
  7. Comment on UN treaty banning nuclear weapons takes effect, without the US and others in ~news

    balooga
    Link Parent
    I consider it a monumental success that we emerged from the Trump years without a nuclear incident. The thought of that man in control of the American nuke arsenal is a terrifying one. For all of...

    I consider it a monumental success that we emerged from the Trump years without a nuclear incident. The thought of that man in control of the American nuke arsenal is a terrifying one. For all of his failures in office, he managed to at least avoid pushing that button.

    7 votes
  8. Comment on What are some RPGs that really capitalise on player choice and branching story? in ~games

    balooga
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    Lengthwise it's on the shorter side, and it has plenty of flaws, but The Outer Worlds did prioritize player agency and did a fine job of it. I would recommend that one as a fairly recent answer to...

    Lengthwise it's on the shorter side, and it has plenty of flaws, but The Outer Worlds did prioritize player agency and did a fine job of it. I would recommend that one as a fairly recent answer to your question. TOW is something of a "spiritual successor" to Fallout: New Vegas, which itself is an even better answer to your question (but it's 11 years old).

    3 votes
  9. Comment on Retiring Tucows Downloads in ~tech

    balooga
    Link Parent
    In fairness, most of the web looked like that in the mid '90s!

    when I found it in the mid 90s it was full of garbage and basically looked like a scam site

    In fairness, most of the web looked like that in the mid '90s!

    5 votes
  10. Comment on What games have you been playing, and what's your opinion on them? in ~games

    balooga
    Link
    Assassin's Creed: Valhalla: What can I say? This one continues the AC franchise with the playbook established in AC: Origins and refined in AC: Odyssey. If you've played those you know what to...

    Assassin's Creed: Valhalla: What can I say? This one continues the AC franchise with the playbook established in AC: Origins and refined in AC: Odyssey. If you've played those you know what to expect. The open world is colossal and gorgeous, but mostly just superficial dressing for filler content (half-baked side quests and collectibles). I've been playing the series since AC2, and I've never been able to resist exploring every viewpoint on the map the moment they're available, before I continue the story. I always regret this. In Valhalla this is a Herculean task. I'm something like 30 hours in and I've finally got 90% of the map revealed, and I've still barely advanced the plot.

    I like some of the new mechanics added for this title. Flyting is a proto-rap battle contest minigame that rewards success with Charisma stat points. It's silly and immersion-breaking but I think it's fun. Reminds me of insult swordfighting from the classic Monkey Island games. You can summon your clan to raid monasteries, which results in a full-scale viking assault complete with looting and burnination of thatched-roof cottages. There are drinking contests, which are pretty pointless but fun. I'm still not a huge fan of all the RPG elements added to recent AC games, like elaborate skill trees and leveled equipment with magical effects and "rune slots." I miss the more grounded realism of older entries that didn't have you hunting legendary monsters and killing gods (handwaved away here as hallucinations or Animus glitches, but still). Even so, I'm having fun and looking forward to actually seeing what the story is about.

    Hitman 2: I'm a little late to the Hitman party, this is the first game in the series I've ever played and a newer one just came out so I'm already behind the times. I've only completed a couple missions so far but I'm really enjoying it. Each mission is an elaborate "puzzle box" you can solve in myriad ways. The game holds your hand for some of the solutions but you're really encouraged to experiment and find your own way. Looks to be highly replayable with lots of challenges available for more skilled players (which I am decidedly not).

    The game demands a high degree of patience and unfolds at a leisurely pace as you familiarize yourself with each scenario. I'm a bit intimidated by the expectation to spend several hours in a new one, learning the lay of the land, studying character behaviors, eavesdropping on conversations, identifying useful item and disguise locations, etc. Maybe I'm playing it wrong? I think part of the fun comes from having advance god-knowledge of how the entire scenario plays out deterministically, and injecting yourself into strategic moments to manipulate the timeline. The first few plays are a slog but as you master it you discover a lot of room for creative improvisation. It's a fun sandbox with surprising emergent properties. I'm liking this one a lot.

    3 votes
  11. Comment on What were the best games you played this year? in ~games

    balooga
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    I have no shame in saying that Skyrim is the best game I played this year. It's my comfort food. I don't know what it is about that game but it's got serious staying power for me... no matter how...

    I have no shame in saying that Skyrim is the best game I played this year. It's my comfort food. I don't know what it is about that game but it's got serious staying power for me... no matter how much I play it, I continue to love and return to it. I've enjoyed plenty of newer games in the years since it came out, but I don't return to any of them like I do to Skyrim.

    Runner up may be No Man's Sky, it's in a similar category of replayability. The nice thing about that one is it continues to improve with every free update, long after any reasonable dev team would've dropped it and moved on to the next project.

    8 votes
  12. Comment on Chris Pine to star in ‘Dungeons & Dragons’ movie in ~movies

    balooga
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    D&D is a medium for storytelling, not a story unto itself. This is like announcing "Books: The Movie" or "Cartoons: The Movie."

    D&D is a medium for storytelling, not a story unto itself. This is like announcing "Books: The Movie" or "Cartoons: The Movie."

    9 votes
  13. Comment on The Mandalorian | S02E07: The Believer in ~tv

    balooga
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    I don't understand why Mayfield took off his helmet in the first place, and moreover never put it back on. If you're infiltrating an enemy base in disguise, your identity is the last thing you...

    I don't understand why Mayfield took off his helmet in the first place, and moreover never put it back on. If you're infiltrating an enemy base in disguise, your identity is the last thing you should be cavalier about. So much of the plot of this episode was the direct consequence of that stupid decision.

    I couldn't help but wonder if it was contractually obligated "face time" for Bill Burr, or some sort of narrative shortcut to make it easier to tell which character was talking when he and Mando were walking around in identical suits. Regardless, it felt like a huge plot hole to me.

    5 votes
  14. Comment on These vehicles are dead for 2021 in ~news

    balooga
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    As the owner of a Honda Fit, it's a bit sad to see it on this list. It's a nice little car and it's done me and my family very well for the past 8 years.

    As the owner of a Honda Fit, it's a bit sad to see it on this list. It's a nice little car and it's done me and my family very well for the past 8 years.

    8 votes
  15. Comment on Cyberpunk 2077 epileptic PSA in ~games

    balooga
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    I really feel for people with epilepsy, especially those who are gamers. I can't even imagine the constant fear that something you enjoy doing could suddenly turn into a literal life-or-death...

    I really feel for people with epilepsy, especially those who are gamers. I can't even imagine the constant fear that something you enjoy doing could suddenly turn into a literal life-or-death scenario, without warning, just from something as innocuous as a flashing sequence of lights or colors. There should absolutely be a way to experience games like Cyberpunk 2077 without exposing anyone to that risk.

    I don't think my solution would be to "just patch it out" though. Since not all (actually a small minority of) players are vulnerable, I'd put it behind a setting. Make it a prominent setting that you are prompted for when starting a new game. Those who wish to experience the game in its full, intended psychedelic strobey glory should still be able to, without accidentally exposing anyone who's susceptible to seizures.

    I noticed when exploring the system settings in my PS5 that I can set global defaults for certain common game settings. Things like "always show subtitles" and "always favor framerate performance over visual detail." I don't think the previous gen had this ability, not sure if Xbox does it too, but I love the idea of having a central, set-it-and-forget-it way to manage stuff like that for every game in your collection. IMO an "always use epilepsy-safe mode" option would be the perfect solution for this problem.

    11 votes
  16. Comment on The philosophy of Star Trek: Is the Prime Directive ethical? in ~humanities

    balooga
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    I think something like the Prime Directive makes more sense with regards to truly "alien" encounters. Things like the Crystalline Entity, Junior, the Devidians, or Species 8472. Creatures so...

    I think something like the Prime Directive makes more sense with regards to truly "alien" encounters. Things like the Crystalline Entity, Junior, the Devidians, or Species 8472. Creatures so un-humanlike that interactions with them can have wildly unpredictable consequences.

    However, it turns out most of the galaxy is populated with people who are basically humanoid, living in civilizations that parallel ours in predictable ways. I don't think the Prime Directive does those species any real favors.

    5 votes
  17. Comment on Advent of Code 2020 has begun in ~comp

    balooga
    Link Parent
    I'm in! Finished the first two in JS, will keep going as time allows.

    I'm in! Finished the first two in JS, will keep going as time allows.

    3 votes
  18. Comment on What games have you been playing, and what's your opinion on them? in ~games

    balooga
    Link
    I was fortunate to snag a PS5, but I don't have any actual PS5 games for it, except for one that came free this month for PlayStation Plus subscribers: It's Bugsnax! I very much wanted to enjoy...

    I was fortunate to snag a PS5, but I don't have any actual PS5 games for it, except for one that came free this month for PlayStation Plus subscribers:

    It's Bugsnax! I very much wanted to enjoy this one but honestly it just isn't doing anything for me. I love Kero Kero Bonito's theme song for it, at the very least. The easy-puzzle gameplay and wacky, brightly colored design will probably appeal to my kids when they get a bit older.

    I also have been enjoying Astro's Playrooom which is bundled free with every PS5. It's a nice showcase of what the DualSense controller is capable of. A reasonably fun and very cute little platformer thing.

    Apart from those, I've brought over my existing PS4 game library and I've been cycling through titles to see how they look on the new hardware. Even if they don't offer any PS5-specific enhancements, a number of them were boosted for PS4 Pro, which I never had. So I'm seeing improvements across the board in varying degrees. I picked up a 4K TV earlier this year and it's nice to finally have a true 4K signal to send it.

    I installed the free PS5 native update for No Man's Sky. I haven't spend a lot of time playing it, but it looks stunning so far, with increased draw distances and 4K@60Hz. It implements the DualSense haptics very well. Many words have been written about the HDR bug that makes everything look insanely bright, and it's true that was pretty awful. I've read that it may have been fixed (or at least toned down) in a recent patch but haven't played since then to confirm. Regardless, I still love this game and will be putting in a lot more time with it soon.

    Apart from that, I'm playing The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim yet again. Seriously, I picked this one up on launch day 9 years ago and somehow I still continue to discover new things. I previously played through the Dawnguard DLC as a vampire hunter but never pursued the alternate path of becoming a vampire lord. It's wickedly fun. What surprised me though was when I stumbled into the huge "Lost to the Ages" questline that I had no idea even existed. I haven't noticed any real differences playing the game on PS5, except that load times are significantly reduced. I'll take it! Love this game.

    Unfortunately I can't enjoy most of my PS4 catalog at present because there wasn't room on the PS5's internal storage to transfer everything. A year or two ago I installed a 2TB SSD in the PS4. Since the new console replaces the old, I'm gonna salvage that drive and stick it in a USB enclosure so I can keep all my legacy games on there. Can't happen for another couple weeks though, since I put that enclosure on my Christmas wish list, haha. We'll see what happens.

    4 votes
  19. Comment on Guybrush Fact vs Fiction in ~games

    balooga
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    This is such a weird niche thing that I have no idea why you posted it here... but it's exactly my weird niche thing and I love it, so thank you. Ron Gilbert's a gaming legend and his Monkey...

    This is such a weird niche thing that I have no idea why you posted it here... but it's exactly my weird niche thing and I love it, so thank you.

    Ron Gilbert's a gaming legend and his Monkey Island games are perfection.

    5 votes
  20. Comment on What's something you don't understand the appeal of? in ~talk

    balooga
    Link Parent
    For me a big part of the appeal of travel is to experience a diversity of cultures and learn to empathize with people who aren't like me. If you spend your whole life in one place, immersed...

    For me a big part of the appeal of travel is to experience a diversity of cultures and learn to empathize with people who aren't like me. If you spend your whole life in one place, immersed exclusively in the culture of that place, you're going to have a dangerously narrow view of humanity and your place in it. That environment fosters an ignorance and bigotry that are very difficult to overcome through other means.

    7 votes