Let's start with the hardest-hitting item. Costco has a $200 handle of baijiu. I'm not sure if it's more shocking that someone decided bamboo liquor was worth importing
or that there is a baijiu that costs more than 8 yuan.
The Afghanistan thing happened and gave us the some bizarre scenes (Taliban bumper cars)
and morbid scenes (Kabul and airport).
Slight market correction
The market finally had a red week
Alfred get my bathing toaster.
and there was talk of taper. So guaranteed ATHs next week.
The silicon shortage is no joke. Speaking of vehicles, the quick update on Lordstown:
- The stock dropped below $5 but rebounded a bit. I cashed out most of my puts for decent gains.
- The company revealed in its earnings call that September production would slide right by six months, announcing a newspeaky 'limited production' beginning on schedule.
- The annual shareholder meeting was a quick phone vote and restatement of the earnings call brief. No questions. No details.
- Still no working vehicles on the road (that have been photographed, anyway).
Total Theranos vibes. If they are legit, they're doing everything they can to appear headed for bankruptcy. For me, the share price is too low to open any new positions.
On this month's installment of Jim Cramer Facts.
Dying Light NG+ fin
We finished off Rais in our streamlined NG+ playthrough. Notably, I crafted the suppressed pistol but was disappointed with how unavailable subsonic ammo is
, particularly going into the DLC.
The back patio wasn't a great place for the hammock, as anyone on my happy hour zoom call could tell you (it collapsed under me). Too much sun wrecked the canvas. I refinished the frame, Jes bought a new hammock, and I relocated it to the enclosed patio
Who wore it better?
I was happy to see that the TensorFlow site has some pretrained ImageNet GANs that you can run in-browser
. They're... uhhh... a little creepy, but I'm not sure what I expect from a network interpolating between a weimaraner and a sea urchin
. I haven't run the code offline, but I'll see if I can throw more hardware at it and get a more convincing urchiraner.
Firefox, bugs, and nightly
I found it really annoying that Firefox for Android would reload a web page every time you re-entered the enclosing tab
. So like, if you're filling out some sort of form you need to finish it before locking your phone or even looking at a different tab, otherwise it's gone when you come back. Probably also not great for mobile data.
With some looking, I found that Firefox pushed a lot of configuration options to about:config
and pushed the availability of that file to a "developer browser" called Firefox Nightly. Ugh.
The internet had a lot of suggestions for about:config configuration settings to change to eliminate this bothersome behavior
. There were a lot of reasonable-sounding things like tabs.use_cache, accessibility.auto_refresh, and tabs.prevent_zombies. I even found that there are hidden settings you have to manually punch in and hope the browser understands.
After none of these worked, I came upon a recent support page that indicated this is a known issue
. There was a link to the github tracker, though I didn't save the url to post here. I guess it's a waiting game.
In doing this search, I checked in on making "request desktop site" the default. What's more, that selection is a toggle but only applies the first time you activate it. This is also being worked, even though the main Mozilla help moderator basically tells people they're idiots for wanting to see a desktop site on a mobile device.
Apple is hashing your images or something. I don't really care but there were some memes.
gave in to the Hangouts botherware announcing that chat is moving to Gmail. Finally, I can give my friends - sorry, contacts - action items!
And at last the idea of software accessing a pooled file system has been destroyed and the application itself has a file system!
The legend(ary edition) continues, Mass Effect 2
I've begun the second chapter of my ME:LE trilogy playthrough
. I last played the game
more than a decade ago.
One month after the devastating geth attack on the Citadel, humanity seized political control of the galaxy.
Now the human-led Council is forced to respond to evidence that the Reapers - enormous machines that eradicate all advanced civilizations every 50,000 years - have returned. To quell the rumors, the Council has sent Commander Shepard and the Normandy to wipe out the last pockets of geth resistance. Officially, they blame the invasion on the geth and their leader, a rogue Spectre.
But for those who know the truth, the search for answers is just beginning...
Way back when I played this on Xbox, I saved the existing (alien) council during the endgame battle. It didn't make a lot of sense that, after everything, Sovereign was written off as a supergeth
. This time I let those dbags burn, only to find that with the very cool Captain Anderson in charge of council 2.0, they won't even kick down a few spacebucks to investigate the Reaper thing that nicely explains a lot of the galaxy's great mysteries. And, like, is the explanation provided by the person that saved the Citadel.
And I'm not sure why it had to be this way. Squid-Borgs sitting in unreachable deep space aren't exactly an easy target
. The council could have at least thrown *some* resources at an investigation, staffing it with plot-friendly incompetent Volus. Or maybe some really capable Elcor who find out something awesome and tell Shepard, who is doing her own investigation (the SPECTRE way). Instead, Cerberus gets a second wind as the America First/Section 31 plot vehicle
to set up a well-explored dilemma about the ends justifying the means.
I'm happy that Cerberus brought us Martin Sheen's lawful-evil The Illusive Man, but what if he were a instead a Salarian giga-zillionaire who funded the genophage and bankrolls Aria?
While I'm not a big fan of the beginning and end of the game, I like the "build your team for a suicide mission" quest structure
. It makes the game focus on character development; undeniably the right thing to do for part two of a trilogy that can only live in the shadow of the first game's story.
Let's do this: kill Shepard and blow up the Normandy, then bring them both back within the first ten minutes of gameplay. If you *must* have Cerberus, Shepard doesn't maintain her alliance out of gratitude
(regardless of good/evil alignment) but instead by simply having no other choice. And there are plenty of reasons to temporarily scatter the ME1 squad or, hell, start with some and give them (dramatic pause) two loyalty quests.
On the plus side: game mechanics
Combat in ME2 is leaps and bounds better than even the retrofitted ME1 system
. Abilities and damage types are far more important, the introduction of heavy weapons is pretty neat as well. There is a wider variety of enemies and enemy tactics. That said, for a cover shooter I find myself rarely moving and often getting blasted by a mech when I do.
Dialogues are better in ME2, though this is more a product of a more expansive script
than any changes to the system.
In ME1 you accessed locked things by repeating a key/button sequence. Pretty uninspiring. ME2 breaks this out into:
- Hacking, used to access computers (right?). The minigame vaguely resembles assembling a ROP chain by matching code blocks, so props for that.
- Security bypass, rewiring used to access locked doors and safes. This one shows a circuit board and requires that the player short specific contacts within a time limit. Also, pretty good for a video game representation of complicated security stuff.
Mineral collection has moved from tedious traversal of empty planets to tedious orbital scanning and launching probes
. That is, it's more tolerable, but pretty grindy. ME2 introduces the nice mechanic where minerals are upgrade currency.
Trilogy sequels that were bolted on to a standalone first game like to go the dark route. You need that despair to make the story seem continuous rather than episodic. Cerberus, Omega, a plague, suicide mission, abductions... ME2 reinforces its main theme very well.
Back in oh-ten, Bioware took the Fox News-tier manufactured controversy about "aLiEn RaPe" and pushed a few more chips in. The sequel has seedier establishments, naughtier language, and a few more romantic interests.
Locales and side quests
Like characters and dialogue, ME2 expands the navigable galaxy and features Omega as heavily as the Citadel. Sidequests each have their own story arc, in contrast to ME1's cookie-cutter hostile location with textual lore and resolution
. A lot of the non-story content is a presented in a more organic way; encounters such as running into looters during a pandemic (O_O) or happening upon squabbling Citadelians.
The squad and loyalty
As I said, this game is about recruiting your squad and earning their individual loyalties through personal quests. Shepard's effectiveness at these things dictates how well the final mission goes. There are two waves of recruitment, meaning there is linear story progression with considerable breadth in between
With additional abilities, weapon types, and enemy resistances, squad selection is far more important than ME1
. Still, with something like a dozen squad members, being limited to two companions at any given time feels wasteful. The conversations and loyalty arcs live up to the quality of the franchise (going back to KOTOR) and the companion missions are nice 30-45 minute mini-adventures.
I never played any of the original DLC, so Legendary Edition brought content that was new to me. Kasumi is a ho-hum character, though her cloak attack is a fairly unique ability. Her loyalty quest is a Hollywood-style heist
- accessing a contraband vault while attending a fancy party. It predictably has two phases - a walking simulator and combat - but it's funny to see that the baddie arms dealer (or whatever) stole Liberty's head.
Zaeed is a tough as nails bounty hunter guy
. Unpleasant. Amoral. Uninventive. His quest is - you guessed it - revenge against his old partner. Why couldn't we have gotten like a Hanar stockbroker who runs a jiu jitsu dojo and is out to avenge his lost love Ashley Williams?
The Firewalker DLC takes everyone's favorite-in-2008 and loathed-in-2021 ME1 element (the Mako), removes its wheels, and sends it into shooter/platformer environments. That was a dense sentence. Yes, the Normandy crew gets a shiny new M44 Hammerhead hovercraft that is more capable and driveable than its (mostly) landlocked predecessor. The Hammerhead mission areas involve driving, precision jumping, and bouncy-shooting of Geth adversaries
. You can collect small mineral quantities via a rodeo bull mechanic at various places in the levels. It's not particularly good, but the levels are kind of pretty.
The Overlord DLC has more narrative content than the others (that I have played so far). The story arc harkens back to the first game where Cerberus and ExoGeni were heavily invested in immoral moonshots