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I have come to the conclusion I am below average :(

Hello, frens. I played my game instead of coming up with something interesting to post tonight, in a pattern that has repeated in my life for upwards of six decades.

I’ve come to the conclusion I’m quite bad at vidya game combat. I’ve hated boss fights increasingly in recent years and finally had to nerf this one right down to easy mode to beat the big battles.

I’m supposed to have killed, like, five trolls by now, but any trolls I find bound across the room and smash me to jelly with one good whomp. Humiliating.

I keep taunting myself that this is a game for literal children, but I’m not so sure. The game and the rig to run it properly are not cheap and I wonder how many middle schoolers are playing.

Also Deek, my house elf, has been told to teach me how to breed magical animals. He has instructed me to capture one male and one female Thestral and buy blueprints for a breeding pen.

I’m dreading this.

April 16, 2024 — 7:50 pm
Comments: 4

Yes, I believe they would

Have you switched (I won’t say upgraded) to Windows 11 yet? I’ve got two machines running it at work and I can’t see much difference.

The Notepad has multiple tabs now and doesn’t automatically close the file when you close the program. There’s that. I use Notepad a lot, so I noticed it right away.

But the main thing is they moved the Windows key – the one you click to open programs – from the left corner to the middle left. Doesn’t sound like much, does it?

But they didn’t leave the left corner empty. Oh, no. There they put a news aggregator. So however many times a day you go to open a program and poke that corner by force of habit, you get a faceful of Microsoft-approved headlines.

I learned pretty fast not to do that. Mainstream news! Brrrr.

Do I think Microsoft would make a whole ‘nother operating system just to try and steer everyone’s news consumption? Yes I do.

By the way, Windows 11 updates on exactly the same schedule as all my Windows 10 machines. I bet there aren’t many differences under the hood.

April 15, 2024 — 7:12 pm
Comments: 9

Ha ha! The wizard game has a real-world problem

The Hogwarts game has an insurmountable problem: it’s set in a mythic English public school. To work, it has to be stereotypically English, and aggressively so. But white people are bad, m’kay? and must never be allowed to congregate without brown chaperones. Goodness me, English people are like turbo white people. What to do?

You can accept an African or Indian professor because I guess a school of magic would want representation from other magical traditions (lookit me, taking the world building seriously!). But when the student body is more brown than white, you start to wonder if you’re really in Albion any more. Subvert expectations too far and you’ll break them.

This is happening in meat-space, too. There’s a school near us that attracts a high number of foreign students. It isn’t a terribly good school, but Johnny Foreigner doesn’t know that. It has smart school uniforms and a horse riding program and it looks like Hogwarts inside. That still has cachet around the world whether our masters like it or not.

I read that the school has a target of…either minimum 40% English students or maximum 40% non-English students. I forget which. They struggle to maintain it.

It’s hilarious to see something marketed for its whiteness and Englishness, particularly when I know for a fact they’re exaggerating the whiteness and Englishness because whiteness and Englishness is their main selling point.

p.s. This is a very fun game in spite of itself.

p.p.s. I screwed up somewhere along the line and gave myself pink hair.

p.p.p.s. Good weekend!

April 12, 2024 — 7:06 pm
Comments: 6

They’ll grow anything here

Giant redwood trees were imported into the UK in the 1850s. They became a status symbol and were often planted at the gates of great parks, cemeteries and estates. As a result, there are half a million giant sequoia growing Britain today. There are 80,000 in California.

Many of Britain’s trees are known specimens – they know when and where they were planted. Knowing the growth rate, they’ve been able to determine the trees do just fine in the English climate.

And they’re still planting ’em. Greenies love them because they suck up so much CO2. At 150, though, none of them have yet reached ‘giant’ status – not like the ones we saw in those old postcards from the Fifties, anyway.

We have to go out tonight, so I’ll leave you with that happy tree-hugging thought.

April 11, 2024 — 2:56 pm
Comments: 7

Help a weasel out

I have reached a state of spiritual purity: I no longer desire material things. This is a problem because my birthday is next month and Uncle B is pestering me for ideas.

There’s nothing big I want and anything small I want I buy as I go, so it will have to be something novel. Bought any interesting knick-knacks or gadgets lately? Nothing too dear, please.

I did the first mow of 2024 this morning. The grass was way too wet and I kept having to pull wads of clogged vegetation from under the blades in a process that gives me the willies, safety release or no safety release. But it is done.

And this little puffball snoozed through it on the other side of the fence. Not so the chickens, who know for a fact lawn mowers are the very devil and the only way to ward him off is to scream and run in circles.

It still knocks me out that I can see behbeh sheep from my lawn chair.

April 10, 2024 — 7:30 pm
Comments: 8

“Maybe not quite so heavy”

Just watched a Portal fan film called GLaDOS – which, frankly, wasn’t very good. It had lots of fun call-backs to Portal (and Half-Life), but it needs a tight edit and it’s not really for normies.

But it made me think of the night I finished Portal for the first time. I was sitting in this very spot. Uncle B had gone to bed, but I knew I was close to the end and wanted to stay up and see it through. It was a stonking experience. And then the credits rolled.

I think Still Alive is the cleverest passive-aggressive manifesto from a deranged and murderous AI ever written. It’s brilliant work, and you’ll enjoy it even if you haven’t played the game.

Want You Gone from the credits of the second game is also good.

I’ve been thinking about the mess DEI is making of AAA games in 2024. There are 186 games in my Steam account (most of which I’ve never even looked at). If they never make another game I want to buy, I can still play vidya for the rest of my miserable life.

April 9, 2024 — 7:31 pm
Comments: 5

Is it over? Did you die?

From this side of the pond, it looked like everyone in America was running in circles quacking. Why the overreaction – anyone know? Or was the news deceiving us again?

Photo from NASA.

Yesterday, we had a bumble bee stuck in Uncle B’s greenhouse. We like bees and we’re always being told how endangered they are. We had to try to free him.

Problem was, he’d gotten himself stuck under the bubble wrap that serves as insulation and it was going to be tricky to free safely (female bumblebees can sting, though rarely, the internet tells me).

I know, a soup ladle!

There I am, skipping around the greenhouse trying to scoop up a bee with a silver ladle without breaking any glass and I thought, “I don’t even know why I’m playing the Hogwarts game.”

April 8, 2024 — 6:42 pm
Comments: 11

My TV has a [Magic Explorer] button, y’all

But only when the pointer color is changed to purple, I guess. Another learning curve. Swell.

We got a new TV today. Our old Sony was rock solid, but it was 15 years old – right at the dawn of the smart TV era. It was kinda dumb. We saw an OLED running in a shop and thought…yes, please.

This somehow has a bigger screen with a smaller footprint (the Sony had a thick frame around the outside). It weighs about a third what the old one did and costs £0.19 a year to run all the time on standby.

We spent the afternoon watching 4K videos of cats and forests. Whee!

Have a good weekend. Any smart TV tips?

April 5, 2024 — 6:52 pm
Comments: 10

But I could if I wanted to

It blows me away what you can buy here. These four 18th C glass goblets have come up to auction for guide price, left to right, £300 – £500, £100 – £200, £50 – £100 and £500 – £1000. The engraved ones are naturally worth more because each is a unique work of art.

I can’t say I was even aware of 18th C glass before I moved here, but I’ve developed a real taste for it. Not sure why. If I bought these, I’d only contribute to their rarity by breaking them. I am a very clumsy woman. But it doesn’t mean I can’t window shop.

These four auction lots start here, if you’d like to see them big. Plenty of other things to enjoy in that auction too, if you poke around.

Me, I’ve been fighting technology all. day. long. I am exhaust.

April 4, 2024 — 7:51 pm
Comments: 5

Leaning into it

In contrast to several recent expensive AAA flops – corrupted by the dour influence of blue-haired “story consultants” – an unabashed shoot-em-up leaning into the Starship Troopers theme has been the surprise hit of the year so far. Helldivers II.

Seriously, watch the trailer. It’s funny as hell, in a fascistic sort of way. Is there a word when someone is tongue-in-cheek, but really sort of means it, too?

The motto of the studio is “a game for everyone is a game for no-one”. Sadly, it’s probably not a game for me.

It’s a co-op you play online with up to three friends, and all my friends are frail, elderly Englishwomen. I don’t think I can get them on board. So anons it would be, then.

Also, it’s hard. I avoid any game that requires good reflexes and not completely losing your mind under pressure, especially online where I’m likely to play on a team of anonymous 14-year-old boys. I got a lot of poop kicked out of me before I learned that lesson.

“Managed Democracy” – still chuckling.

April 3, 2024 — 7:39 pm
Comments: 4