Monday, July 30, 2007

Death of a Ninja

My ninja died a horrible death. Not in battle or during the course of a mission, but by the most grotesque, most foul entity known to man. Yes, I speak of poor software design. I had just completed the last mission and wanted to try a female avatar to see all the cool clothing. I swear, half the fun is dressing up your ninja in various kinds of interesting things like eyepatchs, parrots, frogs, even a machine gun. But anyways, after creating a new ninja and selecting all the different features, the game just automatically saved over my existing file, didn't prompt me to create a new file or give me a warning. I found out later after reading the boards that it was because autosave was on and the game only allows 1 save slot per profile. Why the heck does it only allow 1 freaking save file per profile? It has 10.3 gigs of HD space and yet, the designers didn't think to add the option to save "in another slot?"

On the bright side, I think a lot of the clothing looks better on a female avatar, plus I get a chance to play all the missions again. This must be the way that the developers thought of to increase replayability.

Overall, I think Tenchu Z was great fun. I really think a higher penalty for being detected would be nice. It is so easy to get Ninja 5 rankings in missions that it definitely takes away some of that satisfaction after a perfect run of a level. The Xbox Live coop certainly adds a higher degree of difficulty since if your partner screws up, and you are close by, you will get spotted as well. Here's to looking forward to more Coop wackiness.

On the computer side of things: The packing company is coming today to pack up all the stuff our house guests bought. My dining room looks like a miniature Sam's Club with all the bulk quantity items in there. Hopefully, this signals that they will be leaving soon. I didn't mind the 10-year old and was actually kinda starting to like him, but I certainly wish some ninjas would SK the 13-year old. I hope to regain control of my computer sometime this coming week.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Computer breaking

It seems like I have finally computer broken the 10 year old. He plays whatever he wants while I am not home, but when I get home from work, he knows that his time is up and that I can kick him off the computer at any time. When I do kick him off, he doesn't go into emo mode and start ranting and complaining like the 13 year old. He just walks away and goes to play Xbox.

While using the computer, he loves to play runescape. I had read about the fierce rivalry between WoW and Runescape and how the two communities hate each other, but I don't really see how people can like Runescape. The graphics are so horrible and the combat so boring. He whacked this goblin for 15 minutes before finally killing it. 90% of the time, both he and the goblin were hitting each other for 0 damage.

The most amusing thing was that some other player, let's call him Snal, had told the kid that he could customize armor. Being completely naive, the kid gave his armor to Snal, who promptly ran off with it. Ahh, brings back memories.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

I am a spider!!

Catnipped had been telling me about Tenchu Z and how exciting and satisfying it was to pull off these amazing stealth kills. This brought back fond memories of Hitman 2 and pulling off "Silent Assassin" rankings on all the missions. The allure of the cooperative multiplayer (all 50 levels in the game!!) through Xbox live was the icing on the cake.

After a failed attempt at acquiring it from walmart, I was able to pick it up from the local Gamestop. I popped the disc in with illusions of being the ultimate silent assassin, blending in with the shadows, and all that other cool ninja stuff. Sadly, that was quickly shattered as I screwed up on the training mission with the VERY FIRST guy. He even had his back turned. Instead of actually pulling off a stealth kill, I decided to sneak very quietly up to the guy and proceed to make menacing slicing noises behind him without actually hitting him. Of course this alerted him to my presence and I had to run away as that "I am a spider" thing totally didn't work.

The next part of training was supposed to teach me how to use the grappling hook. Now, this would seem like a piece of cake but because my TV was so small, I couldn't read the instructions given on the screen. After finally figuring out how to shoot the damn thing, I decided to do my first ultracool ninja type thing. The plan was to grapple onto the ceiling, then leap into the middle of these three patrolling archers and quickly stealth kill them in rapid succession. The attempt went well enough at the start as I was able to quickly grapple onto the celing; however, I forgot to take into the account that the ceiling was a little too high and so instead of landing gracefully, I ended up falling face first onto the mat right in the middle of the group.

The next part of the training was about how to quietly move through the water. The instructions said to press the green button to "roll quietly into the water." What it failed to mention was that if you press it while you are ALREADY IN the water, your ninja does this amazing high jump out of the water and then proceeds to do a cannonball back into it causing a huge amount of noise.

After going 0/3 on steath kill attempts, I made it to the last part of the training which was doing rapid chain stealth kills. The guys were lined up perfectly for the attempt: backs turned, unaware, never turning. I crouched forward towards the first guy and just when it looked like I might actually pull this off, instead of kiling him with a cool move, my ninja decided to choke hold the guy, creating a lot of noise and alerting the entire room. I figured out that this was because I did not have my sword drawn when attempting to execute a stealth kill. So this time, I snuck up quietly to the group again, and then drew my sword.....which instantly caused all of them to turn around again because the act of drawing a sword causes noise which they can hear.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

DunX5 Tourney

Since there was talk of team VGI participating at the PAX 6-man team BF2 tournament, KiraTomato and I have been trying out the 16 player versions of the maps against bots. This makes even the most boring maps into fierce infantry CQC maps. All the 16 player maps are also Double Assault so no side has a uncappable (except Karkand, where USMC has a uncap). We put the bots up to max difficulty and while they do provide a fair challenge in terms of shoot-outs (they actually aim pretty well), their sense of tactics was severely underwhelming. Oftentimes they would just sit there and not do anything when near a enemy flag even if the point was undefended.

Hopefully with some practice, Team VGI can make a good showing and pwn some other teams there. If not, then real life C4 maybe be needed to "auto-balance" the teams =)

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Sweet Reprieve

The kids are staying with some other friends for the weekend, so I can actually use my computer!! Of course, let the little kid use the other computer for 3 days, and he breaks it. I am not sure WHAT he was doing, but the 10 year old has managed to destroy the hard drive on the old computer. I really wish I had some C4 right now.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Set for Life

Bless the people who developed this. Now, whenever I have kids, I will never have to worry about doing chores again!! Kabitzin is a noob!!, I already have a level 70 toiletmaster, 70 laundrylord, 70 Dark Vacuum, 70 Carpeteer, and currently leveling a 64 Lawntamer. Just 74 more gold until I can afford my epic.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Karaoke Television

The new string of Karaoke game shows are great and all. They certainly try to make it VERY suspenseful by taking well timed commercial breaks. But....since you can just Google the lyrics, kinda takes the edge off.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007


Apparently, birthdays in a corporate environment are a little different from birthdays elsewhere. Today was the designated "birthday" for people born in July. There was much talk from my officemates about how awesome the company birthdays were so I was curious as to what it was all about. 2 pm rolls around and it's time to attend this birthday. I was expecting some decoration, some festivities, maybe a song or two.

I was sadly mistaken. The entire "party" consisted of our going there, taking a birthday...pretzel? (actually quite good) and leaving without even uttering a "happy birthday" or making any small talk with the sparse crowd that had gathered. What a way to age another year!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Totally Organic Experience

Ate at this little restaurant called the Field of Green's today. It came highly recommended by another family friend (with whom the owner bought insurance) who was treating us and our house guests. It's a restaurant that specializes in organic food and vegetables. The overall experience was pretty nice considering I came in with extremely low expectations. The strawberry banana smoothie was actually quite good. It had no extra sweetening and the natural flavoring made it very tasty.

Many different things were served, I personally enjoyed the Salmon steak hamburger and the wild pita pocket the most. The salmon burger was arguably better than a regular beef burger. The salmon was seasoned just right and was nice and juicy. The wild pita pocket had some soy "chicken" and pieces of seasoned tofu which mixed together very well. The house special is the eggplant sandwich, but according to the owner (and chef), the other cooks didn't cook it to her specification and so she decided not to serve it to us.

While the rest of us were busy enjoying the foods that the owner recommended, the two children had other ideas of fun. The 13 year old girl ordered this ginormous Greek salad that must have had 10 lbs of beans and rice in it. I was equally shocked when she actually ate the entire thing. The 10 year old boy was too busy playing with his Pokemon cards to eat, but when he was finally hungry, he ordered.....French Fries. I think he totally missed the mantra of the restaurant.

The meal ended with a dessert of chocolate granola pie. This was an interesting concept as the chocolate was supposed sweetened with maple syrup instead of processed sugar. Instead of pie dough, the bed of the pie was made with granola. It was pretty good..if a bit thick in texture.

Your Space? NO!! MYSPACE!!

I don't quite understand the allure of myspace and how someone can spend 25/8/366 on it. Out of curiosity, I asked the resident addict just what was so important that she couldn't leave my computer. Her response was that "it would be rude not to reply to the comments on her myspace." When asked to consider that it may also be rude to hijack another person's computer without permission, her reply was "psssh, whatever!!" A strong rebuttal indeed.

However, during dinner with our house guests last night, she revealed a critical weakness that may be exploited to rescue my computer from the depths of spyware. The Harry Potter book release! Her parents will not allow her to go to the midnight premiere nor will they get up early the next morning to get a copy. My plan is to get a copy of this fabled book, then slowly tear pages out of it one at a time in front of her until she caves in and abandons my computer. Harsh? yes. Necessary? absolutely!

Monday, July 16, 2007

Wanna buy some knives?

Both Catnipped and I have experienced the awesomeness that comes with selling Cutco Brand knives. We were both duped into attending their "interviews" where the only requirement to get the job is a working car. Even though the whole recruiting process was a bit sketchy, apparently the knives themselves are quite awesome.

The house guests came by and while casually ransacking the home, came across the Cutco Super Shears that I had bought as part of my demo kit a long time ago. They were also one of the first families that I sold some knives too. They went on to rave for 30 minutes about how good the knives were, how awesome those scissors were, and how everyone that uses them immediately want a set of their own. They have been using them for over 8 years now and and are quite satisfied. Certainly makes me feel better about taking their money.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Woe is me...

My computer is no longer safe. The house guests' 13 year old daughter is a devoted myspace addict.. This may be the last transmission before impending doom....h...e..l....p

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Simpsons MMORPG

Never saw this episode until now... it's pretty funny.

Friday, July 13, 2007

The Adventures of Friday the 13th

Friday the 13th, woooooo, how scary is it? So Scary! Anyways, I am not superstitious at all and didn't really care, however, my mom seems to have had some interesting adventures. Started yesterday when she wanted to swap cars with me so that she can get the oil changed in my car. After telling her that the steering wheel has some problems and asking if she was really sure she wanted to swap, I finally agreed.

Woke up this morning, drove to the park and ride and all was normal. Around noon time, I get a hysterical call from mom stating she had locked herself out of the house. What happened was, the garage door opener was kinda flaky and didn't open the garage when she pushed it, as she went to manually open the garage, she somehow managed to lock the garage from the inside instead of opening it. For some strange reason, she didn't have the key to the front door and the backyard door had that extra cross-bolt on. Because of the steering problems, she didn't want to drive to downtown either but the bus I took to get home apparently doesn't run until 3 pm!!

However, my mom was much more crafty than I thought as she was able to convince a nearby Nissan dealership that she wanted to have her car "fixed." As a result, she was able to use the showroom to get some free food, tea, and AC. She even snuck the groceries she bought inside and hid them underneath the sofa so they didn't spoil in the sun. Good stuff!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Jury Duty

Yay, my second official summons for jury duty. Last time I got one, I couldn't make it because I was at Cornell. This time however, I am not sure if I will be able to get an excuse not to go. Now before any of you recommend saying really dumb things at the hearing to get out of it, it did not work for this guy....

Monday, July 09, 2007

Return of the Mom

Mom's back in Houston for a month. Looking forward to some good food and lots and lots of nagging! Yay! =) So glad to be employed...

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Keep the Change!!

So today, I went to buy a monthly metro pass since I figure I would be taking public transportation for all my commuting needs. The lady calculated the total and it came out to be $74?? I was thinking, 2 bucks per round trip, 20ish days a month that I will be commuting, which comes out to be about $40 bucks. How the heck is a monthly pass more expensive than just paying per day? Well, it turns out that the ACTUAL fare is supposed to be $2.50 per trip, so $5 for the round trip. Seems like I accidentally underpaid metro last time round...Funny how the driver didn't even bother to tell me.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

So How Awesome is Houston Metro?

Sooo awesome. No rain today, even though the weather guy predicted a 80% chance for rain. This allowed my trying out Houston Metro. I basically go to my local "park and ride" and take 1 bus all the way downtown. It was super smooth and I arrived downtown even faster than if I had driven. Plus parking is free and the bus fee is only 1 dollar to and from downtown resulting in a massive transportation expense of 2 bucks. The best part is that Accenture allocates $100 per month for taking Houston Metro while only giving out $50 for parking.

Monday, July 02, 2007

The First Day

Had my first day of work today. It turned out to be pretty much your average first day of work as I was bombarded by about 50 billion different bits of information that I am still trying to grasp.

The day didn't start out too well as it was absolutely pouring rain in the morning. Plans to take the bus were soon scrapped as I didn't really feel like walking half a mile in wind-blown rain. I decided to drive there as it seemed safer. Thank goodness I left 1 hour earlier because the traffic was inevitably horrible because of accidents caused by the rain.

The last time I went to downtown, I had no clue where to park and ended up with a $18 parking fee for 5 hours of parking time. This time though, I was prepared as the nice folks at Accenture had drawn a map of downtown showing all the one-way streets and all the cheap parking garages. There was one slight problem though, they had marked all the one-way streets as going in the opposite direction as what they actually went. With 15 min to spare, I arrived at downtown, but thanks to the ludicrously wrong map, it took 10 minutes to find parking. The lot marked as only $6 bucks a day for the "early bird special" (arrival before 9 am) turned out to be $13. Damn, obviously these birds have taken the Latrell Sprewell path to financial freedom and need that extra 116% to feed their families.

The rest of the day turned out pretty well with nothing particularly disastrous happening. Hopefully tomorrow, the rain will let up a little and allow me to take public transportation.

On a slightly irritating note, it's pretty apparent that Roger Ebert really didn't do much research before writing his review of Transformers.