April 9th, 2007

#349: More anime stuff

Right now fansubs of Comic Party and Okusma wa Joshikousei (OwJ) are trickling into my system, and I don't know what to expect from them.

Well, I've heard one opinion of CP already, anyway...

I've finally gotten the first four episodes of OwJ in their entirety, so I can watch a few and see how they go. CP is coming in at the dreadfully slow rate of about 7kB per second; when you're talking about an almost 3GB batch torrent that is dreadfully slow. There have been, over the past few days, few machines on the network with those files--now whether that is because of the holiday weekend, or CP just sucking, I don't know. We'll see.

I'm having better luck with OwJ. That's averaging around 13-20 kB/s, depending; but having started it two days after CP, I still have more of it than CP. Go figure.

Ideally I should be getting much higher download speeds than this, but I can not get my torrent client (utorrent) to connect any faster.

The port randomizing and the encryption helped for a little while, but I'm back down to "modem" download speeds again.

I tried making some changes to the router settings and ended up losing my internet access. I had to go do a hard reset on the router in order to be able to use the internet again. *sigh* Anyway, I think I have everything set up correctly.

Part of the problem stems from the fact that, no matter what I do, utorrent claims I don't have an open port for downloading. I don't get it.

Oh well. It's not like it costs anything if it takes longer.

* * *

Japanese is laden with gender-neutral names. I tend to assign gender to unfamiliar names based on what context I heard them in the first time.

For example, the female lead (and tsundere'kko) of Amaenaideyo! is named Chitose--well, I think of "Chitose" as a male name, thanks to Happy Lesson. The same is true of Manaka's first girlfriend in Ichigo 100%; her given name is "Tsukasa", which is the given name of Doumyouji from Hana Yori Dango.

I'm drawing a complete blank on other examples, but I've run into a lot of them over my 13 years as otaku.

Oh--in Ranma 1/2, there is a cross-dressing guy named Tsubasa Kurenai. (Voiced, in the dub, by Saffron Henderson, whose voice I hate.) "Tsubasa" is one of those names.

Okay, not a complete blank, then.

* * *

I have a lot of AD Vision releases from the pre-DVD days, when they released a their sub tapes in hard shells rather than cardstock boxes. I keep meaning to dig those out and re-watch them, but somehow I keep putting it off.

There are a lot of things in that box which did not--as far as I know--make the cut when it came time for ADV to transition its ouerve to DVD. (Or else everything was converted and I just didn't notice it, thinking, "Well, I have that on VHS, so why should I buy it again?")

One of the great tragedies was Mighty Space Miners. It was a hard SF OVA series which was cancelled halfway through, so exactly two episodes of it exist and the story is incomplete. But it's such hard SF that I suspect the original author plotted orbits and did vector calculations when he was writing the thing. As far as I could see from the anime (which could have been changed from the original version) he made one technical mistake: he had the main character hold his breath while undergoing explosive decompression, which can be fatal. I mean, the guy was alternating which eye he had open to keep them from freezing or popping while he jumped from his repair pod to an airlock. (Yeah, the "Bowman Maneuver".)

ADV was good at picking up orphans, though. Another example was Girl From Phantasia, which consisted of one 40-minute episode.

They also translated a number of hentai titles, of course, the most notable of them being the utterly dreadful Urotsukidoji series. (I don't have to see it to pronounce it as such. I have four words for those who would doubt me: "Nazi death-rape machine". Okay?)

I got ahold of End of Summer, not realizing it was hentai; but after seeing the first tape I got the second one because I wanted to see how the story turned out. (Yeah, there was one, which was surprising. It was not bad.)

* * *

Golden Boy was one of those series which should have been longer. There are six episodes, which nicely encapsulate the series, but it would have been fun to see a lot more of it. The dub was better than the sub, because Doug Smith played Kintaro Oe with a lusty abandon which transcended the medium he was working in. As far as I know, that's the only role Doug Smith ever did, but man did he do it well. I missed out on an opportunity to meet Doug Smith (and maybe get his autograph) and I am seriously bummed. I'm not exaggerating when I say that I think that his was the best performance in dubbed anime.

I got a Golden Boy tankoban from somewhere, and it showed that Kintaro had a limerick-inspired special talent for "tucking" such that he could appear to be a flat-chested woman. Of course that story ended more-or-less the way they all do in that series--with him first getting his ass thoroughly kicked by the female lead of that story, and then her discovering the good things he'd done for her while she wasn't looking--but it was entertaining.

Every time a US company involved with manga importing and publishing asked for suggestions, I piped up, "Golden Boy!" but it never happened.

* * *

One of the things I would love to have a copy of is a parody fandub of Otaku no Video that I saw at a con a few years ago. It was brilliant.

Besides that, though, is the parody fandub Ranma 1/3, in which Ranma actually is a cross-dresser. I and my then-GF were at a room party, watching it with about 50 other people, when Steven Bennett--one of the pros at that con--came in.

"Is this a Viz dub?" He asked, and everyone laughed. And then, he asked seriously, "No--is it?" The dub was that well-executed.

I'd love to have copies of those. Neither of them is family-friendly, though, since there are a lot of sex jokes.

What I do have a copy of is Peeon Hentai Evanjellyon, which is a parody fansub of the first ep of Evangelion and which--while humorous--really isn't all that great.

* * *

Finally, I saw the last episode of Piano and was satisfied with the ending. It was not exactly what I was hoping for--I wanted more denouement--but at the end of the series you know what happened, and what's going to happen next, so it's all good.

#350: OS update (or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Vista...sort of.)

I have discovered a few compensations for Vista's annoying crap. They don't make up for, oh, most of my software not working but they do make a few things easier.

One of the big features of Vista is the new-and-supposedly-improved infrastructure, including the API, which bring Windows into the 21st Century and take advantage of the ultra-nifty hardware we now have.

In prior versions of Windows, if you wanted to grab a frame of video for later use, the player had to support that feature. You couldn't just stop playback and hit "PrtScrn", then fire up Paint and paste the image. If you did that, you would find yourself with a second playback window. Saving the image would, later, give you a black rectangle.

Prior versions of Windows also treated sound cards such that if you wanted to record "what you hear", you needed an application that supported it. The Creative Labs SB Live! card in my P3 had a recorder applet with such a feature, and it was really useful. But otherwise, you could only record audio from recognized hardware inputs such as Line-In, CD-In, and Mic-In.

Well, Vista does things differently.

First off, you can now PrtScrn video frames, which surprised the hell out of me. I haven't tried it with DVDs yet, just DiVX and AVI files.

Second, you can now use the included Sound Recorder applet to record "what you hear", and you can actually record more than a minute at a time.

Having found a CD burning program which can actually make audio CDs from my audio files helps, too; it came with a freeware audio editor I downloaded when I discovered that Sound Recorder has absolutely zero editing functions.

"Freecell" now has "infinite undo", which means you can back up all the way to the beginning of the game if you want to. Even better, if you move yourself into a corner, it gives you the option either to lose, or to back up and try again--no auto-losing! So as of this moment I've won 355 games in a row, because--let's face it--this error message still applies:

Little by little I am regaining the functionality I had under WinME (boy, doesn't that damn Vista to a particularly nasty Hell!) even though I am having to find freeware applications to do it. I have not yet tried re-installing Neverwinter Nights or Diablo II even though I am told that the former now works. D2 may work in compatibility mode; I uninstalled it before I knew about that. One of these days I'm going to reinstall it and see what happens.

First, though, I want another hard drive. My E drive (which was formerly the D drive from the P3) is almost full, especially since I've been on this anime downloading binge. Also needed--and pretty soon!--is more memory. Vista chokes on half a gigabyte of RAM (this was not entirely unexpected; recall please that when I was trying to build an upgrade system, I got two gigabytes of RAM for the thing).

I am amazed at the plethora of freeware which is available these days. And lots of it is polished stuff, too. Since Adobe Acrobat 4 won't work I found an app called "Cute PDF", a freeware PDF creator. I like it.

I am still really unhappy with Vista, but my unhappiness is diminishing slowly. I think Vista's raging asshat-ery caught everyone by surprise, though; here's how I characterized it in a recent chat with a friend:

Win 3 to Win 95, no problem.
Win 95 to Win 98, no problem.
Win 98 to Win 2000, no problem.
Win 2000 to Win XP, no problem.
Win XP to Win Vista,

I think there may be a lesson there for all of us.

#351: I want to punch the "Face of PeachCare"

Neal Boortz mentions this article in today's Neal's Nuze.

Happy and comfortable in their neat wood-frame home in a well-kept, modest subdivision, Connie and Michael Post pride themselves on being solidly middle class folks who "thank God every day" for their salvation — and PeachCare for their solvency.

"Without it, we'd be broke," says Michael Post, 38, welcoming visitors into his home.

Two of their three young children are screaming playfully behind him. Post's wife, Connie, 36, is just inside, patiently trying to calm them down.

Financially, the Posts — like many families with kids at their income level — are having a tough time making ends meet.

Why are they having a hard time making ends meet, you may ask?

"...in February, Michael Post left a job making $42,000 as pastor of Friendship Baptist Church to become a freelance minister. He supplements his unpredictable income by painting houses and doing odd jobs." [emphasis mine]

You know why they're having such a hard time?

Because the asshat quit a solid $42,000 per year job.

Well, it says "left", not quit...but "left" sounds voluntary to me, and it would make their fiscal hardship more poignant if he had been fired, laid off, "let go", or whatever.

His wife is making $25,000 per year as a schoolteacher. If he had kept his job, then they'd be pulling down a combined gross of $67,000, which is a pretty decent income for a family of 6, which they almost have.

But no! He chose to become a "freelance minister" (whatever the hell that is). So now their family is having a hard time, and they're grateful that there is a government program to help pay for their kids' medical expenses! Oh, but woe, things are going to change!

"...the program may become less generous. A bill that passed the state House recently would require families to be poorer, reducing eligibility from 235 percent of the federal poverty level to 200 percent. The bill would also make PeachCare families pay for now-free dental and vision coverage."

"The wrangling about PeachCare has made PeachCare families 'extremely anxious,' says Connie. 'We just hope they don't take away the therapy benefits.'"

You know what? If you quit a good-paying job don't whine about how poor you are, asshat! If you choose to leave a good job to follow your heart you had better expect to have to scramble the pay the goddamned bills, and don't whine about how unfair it is that the government is trying to rein in costs. That money doesn't magically appear; it comes out of the pockets of people who behave responsibly and keep the good-paying jobs--even when they are not being true to their hearts--in order to provide food and shelter for their squawling podlings.