Archive for January, 2007

Laptop-friendly precision input solution (Wacom tablet)

Wednesday, January 24th, 2007

My wife asked me to draw a comic for a publication she’s working on. I haven’t done any illustration in ages, and I had to install my Wacom tablet to get started. The same night, I was frustrated over my ergonomics while working on my laptop – I couldn’t use a mouse too well from where I sat and the touchpad is frankly the devil’s tool. Well, at least in all the Acers I’ve used it is.

Today as I sat down to work on the laptop again, it dawned on me to hook the tablet into the laptop to take over the mouse’s functions. It’s worked very well! I have to move my hands only a bit to grap the pen, and it’s much faster and more precise than the touchpad. I can rest the tablet in my lap, with a separate keyboard on my knees – I can’t actually use the laptop on my lap, because it weighs a ton and heats up to very uncomfortable levels. It should be noted, too, that my tablet is one of the small ones, roughly A6 input size.
Still, I continue to dream about a Mac laptop – yes, even with their touchpads.

Folder Share

Sunday, January 21st, 2007

I spent several hours this morning looking for a good solution to sharing files (in this case, art) with my team members in the indie game development group I’m producing for. We haven’t yet taken it into use, but Folder Share seems to be just the ticket.

The service is still in beta. Microsoft acquired them in 2005 and the service now bears the Windows Live brand elements. It is completely free to use. To my surprise, it actually integrates automatically with my Google Desktop.
The interface is clean and unobtrusive, unlike every other similar service I checked out today. It’s completely hassle-free to setup, at least within my home network. It works precisely the way I wanted to: you work as normal, and it keeps all of your team members (and folders) up to date automatically.

The only thing I’m worried about is the web access to your own devices (not the workgroup’s), which is enabled by default, because it lets you see and access all the files you have not shared, too. It is simple to disable, though.

Bookshelf: Century Rain

Friday, January 12th, 2007

I picked up Alastair Reynold’s novel Century Rain at the airport. I quite like the author; I’m still going through his earlier effort, Absolution Gap. (And haven’t read the latest, Pushing Ice.)

Century Rain doesn’t take place in the same Revelation Space continuum as the body of his work does. It is much simpler in terms of plot complexity and characters than his space opera outings are.

The book was a good holiday read, easily digested. It didn’t always feel convincing, though: it seemed to lack a character or two and there was a bit of running on empty. The portrayal of Paris in the 1950s didn’t really hold, either. I felt the author was dropping French names to sound authoritative, without success. The future stuff held some crunchy bits, but overall I was a little underwhelmed. Not a bad effort, but I was expecting more. In the end, it feels like the author needed a break.

(Re-posted from my old game blog on January 16, 2006.)

Luxor, Egypt

Friday, January 12th, 2007

I was away on a two-week vacation to Luxor, Egypt. It was my first actual paid vacation. I’m 27, so I guess I’m a bit late to that train, but it did feel good and did the recharging trick pretty well. It’s the middle of the winter and very dark in Finland. It was good to get some sun in and be really away from the day to day.

I did miss videogames out there. I played some Dweller on the phone, but nothing more. Once I got sick and had to stay in for a couple of days, in the very cold apartment (+14 centigrade), I was longing for some multiplayer Soul Calibur II or Dead Or Alive 3. Something relaxing to take the mind off the boredom and the cold. I read the books I had along before craving for videogames, though, so I guess I’m not that hopeless. But I sure hope I had brought some card games along! Like Mythos, Pokémon and INWO – I was quite a bit into the collectible card game thing back when they were new.

Our group was mostly students of Egyptology. We didn’t have a paid guide, but the trip was organized by a former guide. We got to know some interesting people over there and two weeks of free time is quite enough to get to know a small city like Luxor (150K inhabitants). Some culture shock did set in, in the end, but I got to like the atmosphere a lot before that.

When I came back, I played some Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow, but that’s been about it. Too much quality TV occupying the free time right now: backlogs of Shield, Survivor and Desperate Housewives. Deadwood and Galactica open this week in Finland, too, so lots of tube time heading my way.

(Re-posted from my old game blog on January 16, 2006.)

Bookshelf: And The Ass Saw The Angel

Friday, January 12th, 2007

Over my holiday I read a book by Nick Cave which I got for Christmas from a friend. I had seen it on another friend’s bookshelf, but never got around to loan it. Which is just as well, I hate returning (good) books to their owners. I read the Finnish edition, Kun aasintamma näki Herran enkelin.

Cave’s writing is very fluid. The story drags in mud and ugly (very ugly) things, but the writing rolls on independent of its subject matter. I wouldn’t recommend this to everybody, but it’s very much worth checking out. It feels good to read, even if the portrayed proceedings make you feel ill. It’s all about one setting and one overall feeling to it, which pull the novel together much in the way of some of my other favorites, like James Ellroy’s American Tabloid. It’s more about the way it’s told than the story itself.

(Re-posted from my old game blog on January 17th, 2006)

Six Feet Under

Tuesday, January 9th, 2007

Last weekend we watched what was left of the last (fifth) season of the HBO show Six Feet Under. It was something like six episodes in a row.

It left me moved – in fact, I’m still actively thinking about it, three days later. Sure, the last episodes were very emotional and there was a lot of crying and saying goodbye to dear characters, but I think it had that effect on me because of how it related to my (and everyone else’s) life. When we were watching the various characters’ funerals, I was actually thinking about the funerals I had attended to and would probably still have to attend to.

You might think that a show about dealing with death would get old, but it doesn’t really. It takes time until you know the characters well enough to see things from their point of view, but when death starts calling on the ones you do care about, it just doesn’t cease to bewilder you. What do you do now? How are you supposed to feel? How do you go on? Was anything accomplished? Was it a good life? Was it a good death? How does everyone else feel?

I don’t think that avoiding to think about death is intentional with most people, but surely it would be healthy, psychologically, to realize – and accept – at least on an intellectual level, that yes, you and everyone you care about is going to die. And most likely, some of them sooner rather than later.

I think that should make one think. For many people, it must be much easier to entirely avoid thinking about death, but wouldn’t you lead (and leave) a better life if you didn’t have to avoid the reality of it? For me, I’ve thought about death over the past few years, and yes, this thinking has had an effect on some facets of my life. While hard, that is absolutely a good thing.

TV sure has come a damn long way since the days of He-Man. Even if Six Feet Under’s fourth season was largely stale.

Winter. Or is it?

Monday, January 8th, 2007

Living in Finland, I’ve accustomed to calling winter the time of year when it’s generally white everywhere. Sure it may be a sad slush in the city, but still: there’s snow on the ground.

The last snow we had was in late October or early November. It felt like winter for a week, since then it’s been just rain and darkness. Anyone saying there’s no greenhouse effect is welcome to take a peek. The grass has been green all December!

I don’t much care about the snow per se, since I’m not into any winter sports these days. But it’s so dark without snow. And of course, regular rain is also an unwelcome phenomenon at +1…+5 degrees centigrade. Snow wouldn’t make me wet and miserable.

I’m beginning to think we’re not going to see any snow this winter, but there’s still February to go, which should be the coldest month of the year. We’ll see. On the other hand I’m glad, because our new windows at home do not keep the cold outside.

This is the new sound, just like the old sound

Sunday, January 7th, 2007

Dear reader,

welcome to my brand new installation of WordPress over at mcMuumio.net. I’ve imported my posts from the Blogger account, sadly losing comments in the process. Sorry about that.

(Edit: to my frustration, the ways and means of importing Blogger posts to WordPress seem to change at a rapid pace. This “RSS and IE7″ method worked for me… today. It may be another solution is needed for my primary blog, again.)

There were plenty of reasons for the move, mostly being that A) I now have my own webspace, B) Blogger’s limitations becoming a nuisance and C) I need to train for the eventual move of my primary gaming blog, 71/78. Even though it will get a new name and I’m not even sure about importing the old posts.

Expect lots of technical and layout experimentation in the coming weeks. I’m psyched!