They Changed It! Now It Sucks! 
2011.03.14 08:51 - Entertainment, Microcode, Internet Stupidity, Whining
Been playing Dragon Age 2 for the better part of the last week. After some ridiculous number of hours, I've finally cleared the first act. ... I'm a little slow, here. I also gave up and turned the difficulty down to 'Casual'. Haven't quite got the hang of managing a whole party in this game, and the big fights seem to require it.

As noted, I'm a little slow, so while I've been getting out of tutorial land and into the meat of the game, the ├╝ber-nerds seem to have already cleared the game. Good for them. I'm seeing complaints (have been seeing for weeks/months, actually) that Dragon Age 2 is a poor sequel on the basis that changes a bunch of things, retroactively: the appearance of the Qunari being the most obviously visible change. BioWare was said (paraphrasing) to be selling out, EA was blamed, assertions were made about the long-term impact of this strategy on BioWare, and generally much hay was made by the nerds in the audience about the downfall of BioWare.

All I can say is this: the PC version of Mass Effect? Super crashy on my machine. Dragon Age? Also very unstable; so much so that I abandoned it before finishing the Battle of Ostagar. Dragon Age 2 has not crashed yet, and I've only run into a bugged quest (very annoying, but not the end of the world). If this is the result of EA's influence on BioWare, I think I'll take it.
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I have a Remington 870 Express, now. 
2011.02.09 08:55 - Guns
18.5" barrel, +2 magazine extension. So far, I have replaced the factory, orange, plastic magazine follower with a stainless steel follower from Vang Comp, and changed out the trigger group for one with a metal housing.

Long term plans probably include a shell carrier on the side of the receiver, and a bayonet lug0, but I haven't made major decisions past that.

I haven't been to the range with it yet, owing to the weather and the various other demands on my time and money. I'd like to get a couple swivels and a sling, first, though.

0. It makes me laugh.

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2011.02.09 08:46 - Whining, Work-related
I was informed yesterday the interface to a library introduced in our current release is changing in our next-current0 release, to support a change in our data model: function A is being replaced with function B, which has the same parameters and return type with a different name.

Although function B is named more accurately than function A with respect to current understandings, this could have been avoided by giving A a more generic name in the first place, and the description is not so wrong as to confuse anybody currently working on the project. I suggested that function A could, instead, be rewritten to perform the new behavior, thereby reducing impact on other code. I was told that perhaps I would like to write the library, next time.

Not that it was ever an option, because $other_developer would rather pull an 80 hour week than delegate work he finds interesting. Frustratingly, I like $other_developer, but I'd just as soon not have our next-current release be a bigger screw up than it's already going to be1.

0. This is another point of consternation.
1. So much consternation.

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The Mechanic 
2011.02.07 10:51 - Entertainment, Movies
I watched The Mechanic Sunday afternoon. Smarter movie than I'd have guessed (though that's not saying a lot, really). Apparently, it's a remake of a Charles Bronson film from the 1970's.

Two things:
First, it really earns that R rating. The violence I expected, but the sex scenes were a bit of a surprise. Maybe I'm just sheltered, though?

Second, there's a training montage in the first half of the film with some nice slow-motion film of cinder blocks being shot, etc, which includes a really nice clip of a spent case being ejected from a gun and tumbling through the air ... which affords a really excellent view showing the case is from a crimped blank.

All told, I thought it was a good film and would give it about 3.5 out of 5. Not very deep, but what's there seemed (mostly) well done.
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Fans are Mystifying 
2011.01.20 11:32 - Guns, News and Politics
Not that I have any.

I spend too much time (which is to say, any time) watching the Magpul forum at arfcom. I do this because Magpul makes good stuff, and this has, in the past, been a good way to find out what works and doesn't work and how to use some of less conventional bits. The long-suffering people at Magpul even keep an eye on the forum and answer questions, now and then.

Over the last three years, though, their participation has become more narrow and less transparent: less information about stuff under development, more guarded answers, and less direct involvement, generally. They've cited multiple reasons (including problems with industrial espionage, IIRC: stuff that hadn't been officially announced getting knocked off by competing companies), and I don't blame them: if you've been burned, the natural response is to pull your hand out of the fire.

This week, SHOT Show is going on in Las Vegas. SHOT Show is sort of like E3, or CES: it's a big, industry-specific trade show, and is not open to the general public. New media participation has been pretty large the last couple of years, though, and that has made news from the show much more widely disseminated. As a result, I suspect that SHOT is suffering some of the problems that E3 and CES have and/or do: instead of being a big dog-and-pony show from the traditional press, it's starting to become watered down by public marketing.

Last year's launch of the Bushmaster ACR might even be a big contributor to this problem: the news was public almost immediately, and internet-based kvetching started the same day (and you'll find some of it here: I wasn't thrilled, but I also figure I have a readership that can be counted without removing my shoes).

In the past, Magpul has shown off various new and upcoming goodies at SHOT Show: rubberized grips, new handguards, weapon systems, etc. When the new products did not materialize on whatever schedule was mentioned or assumed, the webweenies complained. When the new products didn't cure cancer, the webweenies complained. (If you can't tell, I think the bulk of these complaints are unjustified.)

I guess the complaining was producing more negative PR than showing stuff off was producing positive PR: this year, Magpul's not showing any new stuff at SHOT Show. And, as above, I don't blame them at all.

But, of course, the webweenies are now complaining that there's nothing new to complain about. I guess Magpul can't win on this.

Related (really): I know Apple has its ridiculous fanboys. Do they get similar shenanigans?
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