April 12th, 2007

#355: How to cheat at Freecell.

The new version of "Freecell" has some features which make it possible to raise your win-to-lose ratio.

That's if infinite undo and no auto-lose aren't enough.

What you do is get a game so that it's one move away from winning. Open up the options menu and check "Always save game on exit". You can also check "Always continue saved game" if you want. Then click "OK" and exit the program.

Restart the game; if you checked "Always continue saved game" you'll be presented with the game you just exited. (Otherwise you'll get a dialog box asking if you want to continue your saved game. Click "Yes".) Finish the game.

Here's where it gets interesting.

If you select "Exit" rather than "Start a new game", and then restart the program (again, selecting "Yes" if you are asked if you want to continue the saved game) you can win the game again and the "won game" counter will increment.

You can win that game any number of times you wish, and it always counts as a unique won game even though it's the same game over and over again.

If you don't select "Exit" after winning the saved game, just make sure you finish whatever games you play--don't leave any cards on the screen. The next time you start "Freecell", that one-move-from-won game will still be there and you can pad your "won" count before starting another game.

I haven't tried figuring out what happens to this stuff when you lose a game.

I discovered this because I--while trying to get the new hard drive working--was in the middle of a game when I wanted to reboot. So I checked the "save" option and exited the game.

The next several times I restarted Freecell, I was presented with that exact game, in the place I had left it. Foolishly I had expected Microsoft to have written "Freecell" so that the saved game was cleared when it was won--I was wrong. Anyway, it got me to thinking, so a little noodling around led to this little discovery.

Okay, it's not going to win me a Nobel Prize, but I think it's pretty nifty.

#356: I hate Windows Vista less today than I did yesterday.

...because I installed Neverwinter Nights (NwN) and then immediately upgraded it to version 1.68...and it works.

I was actually able to play NwN on this computer. With the widescreen LCD monitor and the much faster processor (and more video RAM to boot) it looks awesome, too. I can see everything and there's a ton of screen for the map display, dialog display, inventory, etc, etc.

It's only been a month since I last played NwN...I'm having trouble remembering what keys do what. But at last it works, so that's a major sticking point for me that's now been resolved.

Now there are only about 5 or 6 other things that I need to be able to do on this computer; once those needs/desires are satisfied, my hatred for Vista will go away.

I want a CD and DVD authoring program which is easier to use than the freeware one I downloaded. It's good, don't get me wrong, but I can't drag-and-drop files to the compilation; I have to use an "open file" dialog box. That's kind of clunky, and I don't like it. (Can't argue with the price, though.)

I'd like a good "Mahjong" program. The GameHouse Mahjong program I had on the P3 won't run under Vista, and that's a shame. I don't feel like paying $50-odd bucks for the privelege of upgrading to Vista Home Premium, so I can play the "premium" MS games. There's a Mahjong game in there, as I recall, but I doubt it's worth $50.

...I'm drawing a blank on the rest of it, though.

The point is, this is approximately what I have been hoping for: that my problems would, little by little, be addressed. Since MS is pushing for Vista to be the standard operating system now (to the point of charging for all XP support, dropping support for most previous versions of Windows, and such) I expect that the software industry is doing its best to patch or upgrade their software so it will work. MS kept Vista close to its chest, so developers had to wait almost until launch day to get their hands on it. This has kept malware to a minimum (so far) but it's also made usability testing problematic for developers.

Well, that's changing, slowly.

Maybe once I have a couple GB of RAM and get all my stuff working, I'll be happy with Vista. But for the moment, I only hate it less than yesterday; and that'll have to do, for now.

#357: Comic Party et al

I like it.

I just finished watching the first episode of Comic Party and I really enjoyed it.

It started with the main character dreaming he was in To Heart, and they even got the seiyuu from that series to reprise their roles. I nearly busted a gut laughing.

And then he got dragged to an analog of Komiket.

"Komiket" is the big big BIG comics, cosplay, and anime convention in Japan. As far as I know it's a one-day event and it is the Japanese comics fan's WorldCon. It serves as a mainstay for the amateur (or, really, semi-professional) self-published comics industry.

I'm not going to go into a big discussion of the world of Japanese "fanzines", but it's a pretty sizable sub-industry in a country where comics of all sorts generate well over a billion dollars in revenue per year. (And that was in 1994.) I'm just going to say that some people regard these self-published comics--called "doujinshi", which translates to "circle of friends"--as the "real" manga, stuff which is artistically more pure than the commercial releases.

Many doujinshi (or "doujins", as American fans abbreviate the term) are about established characters, the intellectual property of others. For example, there is a wealth of Ranma 1/2 doujins out there. This is not regarded as copyright infringement even if the doujin publisher makes money on sales of his book--doujin sales are a minor blip compared with the massive amounts of money made by the publishing houses.

A professional artist, however, is not allowed to publish doujinshi--at least, not for money. Kenichi Sonoda, artist of Gunsmith Cats and other famous titles, got caught doing it, and ended up paying fines to the Japanese equivalent of the Internal Revenue Service for tax evasion.

Anyway--Comic Party starts with the main character getting dragged to "Comiket"--and he has many bold adventures. I recognized a lot of the people at that convention...not as individuals, of course, but as archetypes.

Really, the story gave me the same kind of feeling that I get from Otaku no Video--these people are Fans and they are my people! So I guess that's why I really enjoyed the first episode, and expect to enjoy all the rest.

* * *

Okusama wa Joshikousei, after two episodes, is pretty good stuff. There's some good fan service in this series and most of the characters are very likable, or at least understandable.

* * *

Girls Bravo second season has started it's "final story" arc. Miharu has been taken back to Seiren--why? We'll find out eventually; there are 2 episodes left. In the meantime it looks like it's going to be enjoyable.

* * *

I am really, really enjoying Amaenaideyo!. The opening theme is really catchy, the girls are cute, and the stories are pretty entertaining.

In episode 6 we get to see Haruka in a cat costume--yay! And she pulls down her neckline and exposes her breasts to Ikko in order to set off his "inner monk", the one that comes out and kicks ass when he sees boobies. Haruka in a cat costume and flashing her breasts--this is a great episode. I was moved to tears.

* * *

As for Ichigo 100%, I've now watched 8 of the 13 episodes, and I'm still really enjoying it. As previously stated it really should have been longer and less compressed. But I'm enjoying what I'm seeing.

* * *

I've been so busy with all this downloaded anime I haven't even thought about unwrapping some of the DVDs I have sitting on my shelf. I saw two copies of the Excel Saga box set at Best Buy the other day, but neither one had a price on it and I was in too much of a hurry to ask about it. I've seen the first DVD of that series and I absolutely love Hyatt. It's insane and funny. I'd like to see the original manga and see why they show that disclaimer about the author's permission, at the beginning of each episode.

But that's a task for another time.