vili's recent activity

  1. Comment on This week's album and EP releases in ~music

    vili Link Parent
    Thanks for the heads-up! I really like this one, and it's pretty much exactly how you described it. A great find.

    Thanks for the heads-up! I really like this one, and it's pretty much exactly how you described it. A great find.

    2 votes
  2. Comment on This week's album and EP releases in ~music

    vili Link
    I've been waiting for the new Donna Grantis album "Diamonds & Dynamite" for months now. And after my first listen, I must say that I'm not disappointed! In fact, I'm hugely impressed. It's...

    I've been waiting for the new Donna Grantis album "Diamonds & Dynamite" for months now. And after my first listen, I must say that I'm not disappointed! In fact, I'm hugely impressed.

    It's understandable if you just went "Donna who?". This is labelled as her first solo album, but strictly speaking it's neither her first nor really solo (it is an album, though!). Her first full release was "Suites" back in 2012 under the Donna Grantis Electric Band title. But what she's best known for, and how she also came to my attention, is for playing guitar in Prince's last band (2014-2016), the 3rdEyeGirl. They were a brilliant band live, and also put out one album, Plectrumelectrum. The title track to that album was actually written by Donna, not Prince.

    When I listen to "Diamonds & Dynamite" today, I hear a lot of Prince in it. In fact, if someone had handed these tracks to me and said that they are unreleased songs from Prince's fusion jazz experiments, say from the early 2000s, I would probably not question it one bit.

    But having said that, "Diamonds & Dynamite" is not a Prince-wannabe project. It is an album that very much has its own identity. Like I said, I'm hugely impressed by what Donna and her band (with a guest appearance from Pearl Jam's Mike McCready) have put together here. It is complex, it is groovy, and it is extremely competent.

    Anyway, thanks so much for this list! Once I've played this through a couple of more times, I'll dive into some of the others on your list. I actually keep checking new albums weekly from various sources, but it would be absolutely wonderful to have an authoritative weekly listing somewhere.

    Also, and please take this in the most unbullying way possible: your post labels Donna's album as "hard rock", but it really isn't. I would say it's a funky jazz-rock fusion album.

    3 votes
  3. Comment on Heavy Rain, Beyond: Two Souls, and Detroit: Become Human are coming to PC, leading next wave of Epic Games Store exclusives in ~games

    vili Link Parent
    Maybe I don't understand the full picture, but it seems to me that Epic will be having the same arrangement.

    Just to make sure: Tim is lying through his teeth.
    Valve's model allows games to have much lower prices that Epic's model.
    Valve allows devs to generate keys which cam be sold at any price: Valve takes a 0% cut of the copies sold this way.

    Maybe I don't understand the full picture, but it seems to me that Epic will be having the same arrangement.

    2 votes
  4. Comment on Leonard Cohen - You Want It Darker (KARIYAN & Dorian Mast Retouch) in ~music

    vili Link
    Is this an official release? While the instrumentation is an interesting contrast to the original, I must say that I don't really like what sounds like quite crudely sped-up vocals. Vocal delivery...

    Is this an official release?

    While the instrumentation is an interesting contrast to the original, I must say that I don't really like what sounds like quite crudely sped-up vocals. Vocal delivery was such an integral part of Cohen's music and his voice tended to communicate so much beyond the linguistic surface level of his already complex lyrics. With this specific song, the singer's struggle with his mortality and what lies beyond doesn't quite come through in the same way as in the original, and as a result the altered vocals end up cheapening the song for me considerably.

    1 vote
  5. Comment on Human body might be able to pick up on Earth's magnetic field in ~science

    vili Link
    While this doesn't go as far as to claim that the magnetic field necessarily influences our behaviour in any way (more research needed), studies like these always make me wonder how much may be...

    While this doesn't go as far as to claim that the magnetic field necessarily influences our behaviour in any way (more research needed), studies like these always make me wonder how much may be going on "under the hood" in our bodies without us being aware of it and its influence on who we are what we do.

    2 votes
  6. Comment on Is Computer Code a Foreign Language? in ~humanities

    vili Link
    I did my master's degree in theoretical linguistics, hold another degree in language pedagogy, and these days spend many of my days programming. So this question got me thinking. One often used...

    I did my master's degree in theoretical linguistics, hold another degree in language pedagogy, and these days spend many of my days programming. So this question got me thinking.

    One often used definition of human language is that it employs a finite set of rules to generate a potentially infinite number of expressions. This is what differentiates our communicative system from those of other animals, whose modes of communication have only been observed to operate within very finite boundaries. For instance, although some birds can apparently adjust the meaning of their songs (e.g. the size of the area that they are claiming, or the type of danger that they have spotted) by tweaking the length, loudness and pitch of their song's individual parts, they can't really mix different songs or reorder existing ones, and neither do they create new ones. Meanwhile, we humans create new communicative constructions all the time. In fact, it is statistically almost certain that at least one sentence in this paragraph is a sentence that no human being has ever in the history of mankind uttered (or written down) before. Such is the flexibility of human language. We have finite sets of rules, but they generate an infinity of expressive possibilities.

    Compared to any human language, computer languages are extremely simple constructs. Yet, they do actually satisfy this "infinite from finite" test. This probably shouldn't come as a surprise though, considering that computer languages were created by us and were (for the most part) specifically designed to be as flexible as possible. Still, from this perspective, learning a computer language could be seen as an alternative to learning a more fully fledged human language. A "language lite", if you will. Mechanically, the learning process engages fairly similar skills.

    However, human languages are so much more than just logical sets of rules. (In fact, there is very little that's logical about natural languages.) Perhaps most importantly, when you learn another language, you must also learn another communicative culture. Any student of Japanese, for instance, quickly discovers that the language is fundamentally linked to local social customs, and the grammar of almost every sentence that you utter is heavily dictated by your social relationship with your interlocutor. Meanwhile, many students of English need to learn the peculiarities of English speaking communicative cultures, such as the concept and meaning of small talk, which can be a pretty alien idea for someone who grew up in a communicative culture that doesn't place such a strong emphasis on communication as a means of maintaining social relations. Every language has its peculiarities, and every dialect within introduces more variety, more cultural diversity.

    Hence, learning another human language almost automatically gives you glimpses into other modes of life, other ways of thinking and other ways of organizing our societies and our relationships with each other. It has the huge potential of making you understand and accept difference, as well as seeing that your way of living is not the only valid option out there. In doing so, it makes the Other less scary, more approachable, more acceptable. And I think that it is a direction that our world could always move more towards.

    24 votes
  7. Comment on what creative projects are you working on? in ~creative

    vili (edited ) Link Parent
    Thanks for the feedback, it's much appreciated!

    Thanks for the feedback, it's much appreciated!

    1 vote
  8. Comment on what creative projects are you working on? in ~creative

    vili Link Parent
    Thanks for the interest! Mac/iOS are definitely possibilities but I don't own a device that would allow me to convert the code and publish in the Apple store, or test the game for that matter. I...

    Thanks for the interest!

    Mac/iOS are definitely possibilities but I don't own a device that would allow me to convert the code and publish in the Apple store, or test the game for that matter.

    I added a gif to the website to give you a very basic idea of the gameplay. Does it?

    3 votes
  9. Comment on what creative projects are you working on? in ~creative

    vili Link
    I'm working on a narrative scifi puzzle game that I call Hexed Space. I have most of the 250 levels ready to go, in fact have had them for almost a year now, so I'm now concentrated on writing the...

    I'm working on a narrative scifi puzzle game that I call Hexed Space. I have most of the 250 levels ready to go, in fact have had them for almost a year now, so I'm now concentrated on writing the somewhat branching "choose your own adventure" type story. This has been slower than I anticipated due to the number of variables that user choices can introduce, and also because of my general lack of time these past months.

    But I've been working on the game for three years now (evenings and weekends mostly), so it's not like I'm in a rush or anything.

    9 votes
  10. Comment on What re-recording or variation of a classic song do you believe beats the original? in ~music

    vili Link Parent
    Ah, do note that the liner notes are not by the saxophone player Eric Leeds but his brother Alan Leeds, who worked as Prince's tour manager, as well as the president of Paisley Park Records. It...

    Ah, do note that the liner notes are not by the saxophone player Eric Leeds but his brother Alan Leeds, who worked as Prince's tour manager, as well as the president of Paisley Park Records. It was Alan that actually introduced Eric to Prince.

    Outside of the Prince empire, Alan has notably also worked with James Brown (which is actually why Prince hired him), Maxwell, D'Angelo, Raphael Saadiq and others. Something of an industry legend, that man.

    1 vote
  11. Comment on What re-recording or variation of a classic song do you believe beats the original? in ~music

    vili Link Parent
    I would definitely say that Fischer was one of Prince's most important collaborators. Fun fact, which you may already know: despite Fischer doing arrangements for Prince for almost three decades,...

    I would definitely say that Fischer was one of Prince's most important collaborators.

    Fun fact, which you may already know: despite Fischer doing arrangements for Prince for almost three decades, the two never met. Prince was extremely happy with Fischer's first arrangements for him (which actually were for the Family project - I think the tracks High Fashion and Desire) and apparently got a bit superstitious, thinking that it might ruin their working relationship if they ever met. He even avoided Fischer at industry events that both attended.

    As for The Hits compilation, it was a wonderful release back in the day as it came with extensive liner notes (by Alan Leeds), a CD of hard-to-get B-sides, as well as four preciously unreleased tracks: Nothing Compares 2 U, Pink Cashmere, Pope and Peach. And they were all different and all oh so brilliant. Happy days.

    1 vote
  12. Comment on What re-recording or variation of a classic song do you believe beats the original? in ~music

    vili Link Parent
    The Prince version of Nothing Compares 2 U that was released last year actually predates the version by The Family, but it wasn't released at the time as it was more of a demo for the Family...

    The Prince version of Nothing Compares 2 U that was released last year actually predates the version by The Family, but it wasn't released at the time as it was more of a demo for the Family project. The Family version is still largely a Prince track, as he is playing all instruments (uncredited) save for the saxophone (Eric Leeds) and the string orchestration (Clare Fisher), with St Paul Peterson and Susannah Melvoin on vocals.

    My favourite version of the song is the one included on Prince's 1993 Hits collection, which has a live recording of the song from 1992, with Prince backed by the NPG and Rosie Gaines sharing vocals.

    2 votes
  13. Comment on What is the best ‘game within a game’ you have played? in ~games

    vili Link
    I'm not sure if this is really within the spirit of the question, but Day of the Tentacle included a fully playable copy of Maniac Mansion within the game, which you could access through one of...

    I'm not sure if this is really within the spirit of the question, but Day of the Tentacle included a fully playable copy of Maniac Mansion within the game, which you could access through one of the computers in the game. It blew my young mind back in the day and demonstrated how far computers had advanced in just six short years (well, technically the years were regular length and plenty had happened, including the fall of the iron curtain, but you get my drift).

    I don't know if you would really want to play through the entire MM that way, though.

    5 votes
  14. Comment on How can I best offset my emissions from flying? in ~enviro

    vili Link
    Here's one way to approach an answer. First, you will want to select an airline that causes as little emissions as possible. A recent study notes that not all airlines are the same. You can in...

    Here's one way to approach an answer.

    First, you will want to select an airline that causes as little emissions as possible. A recent study notes that not all airlines are the same. You can in theory more than halve your CO2 footprint just by choosing the right airline.

    But whatever company you choose, you will end up causing emissions. (Well, whatever you do on this planet, you cause emissions.) So, how to calculate and compensate for them?

    The reality is that it's practically impossible to calculate the environmental impact of your actions perfectly. Your decision to buy that flight ticket has an effect on a huge number of things that have happened and will happen (think of chaos theory), so the exact use of resources and output of emissions is unknown. It's really an endless rabbit hole when you start to think about it.

    But we don't need perfection. It's enough to get a good enough estimate. If you do a Google search, you can find a number of calculators that tell you what your flight's footprint might be, roughly. Usually, these estimates are given in "CO2 equivalent" numbers, which basically takes all greenhouse gas emissions and converts them into CO2 equivalent numbers. This gives you a working number. Remember, not all airlines are equal, so round up the numbers that you get, unless you know better.

    Now, there are a number of ways to offset CO2 emissions, but one of the best ways is through reforestation and forest conservation, particularly in the tropics where trees grow much faster than up north (and therefore also sequester CO2 faster).

    It's of course more complicated than a simplistic "trees = good", and it's not an immediate magic bullet, but I would say that it's still the best approach, at least if done well, and one that in addition to CO2 sequestration also has a wider holistic impact on climate change, biodiversity, ground water quality, erosion and local soil health, not to mention potential social impacts.

    Rather than planting the trees yourself (which can be a potential recipe for disaster if you don't know what you are doing), you will probably want to use an organisation that does it for you. I have personally dealt with Trees for the Future within a business setting but there are many others like them. Just do a background check because these things unfortunately also attract less trustworthy operators.

    Whatever organisation you use, you need to find out where they plant trees and what their trees' estimated CO2 sequestration rate is. As an example, Trees for the Future plant forest gardens in Sub-Saharan Africa and IIRC calculate that on average each tree sequesters 2.88 kg of CO2 in one year, within an estimated lifespan of 20 years, so 57.60 kg / tree. These seem to be quite low estimates for tropical trees, which is good, because you want to err on the side of overcompensation.

    Now, one question that you also have to answer is how quickly you want your compensation to offset your emissions. You can't really make it happen immediately, but do you want it to theoretically happen within one year? Or is it enough if it takes place within the next 20 years, if that's the average life span of a tree planted by the organisation that you choose?

    So, let's say you take a round trip from London to New York. CO2 calculators will tell you that your footprint will be around 2.4 tonnes of CO2 equivalent emissions.

    Let's then assume that you use Trees for the Future for tree planting. If you are ok with the CO2 sequestration happening within the next 20 years, the numbers (2400 / 57.60) tell you that you need to plant 41.67 trees. Let's round that up to a nice 50 to err on the safe side.

    On the other hand, if 20 years seems like too long a time, let's say you want the trees to compensate for the emissions within one year (in practice this won't happen because young trees sequester CO2 slower, but let's not get that complicated). In that case, the numbers (2400 / 2.88) tell us that you need to plant 833.33 trees. Let's call that 900.

    Or you can pick a length of time anywhere in between.

    Now, the cost of planting a tree varies greatly, but since we have used Trees for the Future numbers for the CO2 sequestration, I'll use their prices as well, which have at least previously been $0.10 / tree, at least for business partners. In this case, you should donate them between $5 and $90, depending on the speed with which you want to offset your emissions.

    It's not a perfect way to do it, but I don't know of a perfect way. And "good enough" is much better than "nothing at all".

    11 votes
  15. Comment on I want an emulation box for my TV. What options best fit my needs? in ~games

    vili Link
    Have you looked at Nvidia Shield? It's an Android TV based media box that is powerful enough to run many emulators. Do research it a bit though, as the Dreamcast emulation in particular seems to...

    Have you looked at Nvidia Shield? It's an Android TV based media box that is powerful enough to run many emulators. Do research it a bit though, as the Dreamcast emulation in particular seems to have some issues on Android.

    Now, I don't actually own a Shield myself, but it's something that I have been looking at for a while as a solution to replace my ageing htpc.

    The Shield would be within your budget and there is a version with a controller as well. I'm pretty sure you can also use other controllers, including USB based retro controllers - the system is marketed as a gamer's media box. You can also use it to stream games from your PC and from Nvidia's own online library.

    That said, it is my understanding that when you move into emulating sixth generation console systems like Dreamcast, PS2, GameCube and Xbox, you really need a gaming PC. If you already have one, or a powerful enough laptop, you could in theory use those to run the emulator and stream the game to the Shield and your TV. That of course isn't as straightforward as running something directly from a box under your TV. Streaming also causes some lag, and probably requires using a wired home network, rather than wifi. But then, buying a Shield is more straightforward than building a small gaming PC. You win some, you lose some.

    Anyway, take a look at the Shield. It may be what you are looking for. Or not.

    8 votes
  16. Comment on Recommended 2-player board games under 60 minutes in ~games

    vili Link Parent
    I actually don't really know anything about Spirit Island. Looks quite interesting though, thanks for the recommendation!

    I actually don't really know anything about Spirit Island. Looks quite interesting though, thanks for the recommendation!

    1 vote
  17. Comment on Recommended 2-player board games under 60 minutes in ~games

    vili Link Parent
    Thanks! I've actually been eyeing both seasons of Pandemic legacy for me and with my wife recently, but haven't bitten yet. Maybe after we finish with our current endeavour of trying to beat all...

    Thanks!

    I've actually been eyeing both seasons of Pandemic legacy for me and with my wife recently, but haven't bitten yet. Maybe after we finish with our current endeavour of trying to beat all the scenarios of Robinson Crusoe.

    A funny (?) story, though. With a group of childhood friends, we have this long tradition of renting a cottage in the middle of nowhere each year for the last weekend of September. Depending on everyone's availability, between 15-20 of us get together to catch up, play board games, consume copious amounts of alcohol and get seriously sleep deprived. Good for the soul, bad for the body.

    Some years ago, one of the guys brought the first season of Pandemic Legacy. I was quite curious about it, but when he said that he wanted to play it through that same weekend, I declined to participate.

    Still, he managed to get a group of four players together and heroically they started the campaign on Friday evening. For three days, those guys, sitting around the kitchen table, played nothing but Pandemic Legacy, game after game after game. While there was much enthusiasm in the room on Friday, come Saturday afternoon we started to hear exchanges like "This game is total shit." "So, another round?" "Of course, we haven't finished yet." from the kitchen, every hour or so. On Sunday morning, they finally finished the campaign. Asked if it was worth it, we got a very resounding NO. I think they may actually have burnt the game later that morning.

    Now, their mistake of course was that Pandemic Legacy isn't meant to be played in one sitting. As I understand it, the rules don't change enough to keep it fresh and carry some 20 hours of almost continuous play. Or at least it didn't for them. Still, for anyone not participating in this campaign towards insanity, but checking out the progress every couple of hours and seeing how each time the guys were more tired, more annoyed, more bored, and more drunk, it is a memory that I will cherish for years to come.

    3 votes