wildfillysama: Urgh.

Gastro is not my friend. Not even slightly.

24 hours of feeling ridiculously sick and sore is not how I’d recommend spending time. Feeling slightly recovered now and was able to play Cards Against Humanity this evening, as well as successfully maintain control of my stomach. Progress is small but much appreciated.

Longer post next week when I’m feeling less dead. Hope you all had good holidays (with substantially fewer digestive complaints than me!)

wildfillysama: Twelve Days of (Writing) Christmas

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On the first day of Christmas my poor life choices gave to me… one knackered spine!

On the second day of Christmas my poor life choices gave to me… two published papers!

On the third day of Christmas my poor life choices gave to me… three poetry collections!

On the fourth day of Christmas my poor life choices gave to me… four poetry readings!

On the fifth day of Christmas my poor life choices gave to me… five book reviews due!

On the sixth day of Christmas my poor life choices gave to me… six thesis chapters!

On the seventh day of Christmas my poor life choices gave to me… seven scumbag characters!

On the eighth day of Christmas my poor life choices gave to me… eight freaking rewrites!

On the ninth day of Christmas my poor life choices gave to me… nine weird plot twists!

On the tenth day of Christmas my poor life choices gave to me… ten calloused fingers!

On the eleventh day of Christmas my poor life choices gave to me… eleven alternative career paths!

On the twelfth day of Christmas my poor life choices gave to me… twelve months of frenzied typing!

 

Happy holidays everyone! 😀

lorekai: Free games.

Last week I reviewed Analogue: A Hate Story, and after doing so I had a bit of a search around to see what else it’s creator had made, aside from it and it’s sequel, and I was pleasantly surprised to find two more games, both of which are available for free.

Digital: A Love Story – While technically a visual novel, this game feels more to me like a puzzle, as a lot of play time is spent trying to work out how to progress the plot. The story is interesting, and while gameplay does feel a little bit clunky at times, it seems appropriate for the setting. If you have an hour to spare, or are just looking to try something a bit different, I would definitely recommend it.

don’t take it personally, babe, this just ain’t your story – Of the three games of the creator’s I’ve played, this one definitely seems to be the weakest, though that is not to say that it is bad in any way.  The story is good, enjoyable to read, and it explores some interesting issues, however the way that it does so makes the game feel formulaic, and interrupts the flow of the story, which is a bit of a shame. While I have some other minor complaints about, overall it’s a good game and definitely worth checking out.

That’s all this week, thanks for reading, next week is Christmas so I don’t know if I’ll be writing much then.

wildfillysama: Eventing in the Park

I spent a fair portion of yesterday sitting in a surprisingly low fold-out chair, eating ice cream, nursing a hangover, and watching horses creatively tell their riders that they really weren’t keen on water jumps.

Eventing at the Park is an annual event that features grand prix showjumping and cross-country jumps, all in the same event. Riders also have the option to attempt the challenge fence, in hopes of removing some of their accumulated penalty points. Clear rounds were few and far between. A few observations:

1. The announcer was a moron. I would have happily paid for him to shut up. Highlights included consistently announcing the wrong competitor, calling warmbloods “warm-breds” as though they were a bakery product, being unable to pronounce famous stud names or breeds of horse, and nearly causing an accident by calling one of the riders as ‘eliminated’ and getting the next competitor to come galloping in, nearly colliding with the original competitor who was not eliminated and still jumping the course.

2. The horses with the least shank to their bits did best. Just sayin’…

3. The horses who were never touched with the whip did best. See above…

4. Cross country jumps still look terrifying.

I managed to get a few photos. Here is one of the more entertaining ones.

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(The horse bolted upon landing – funnily enough, the horse with the heaviest and least forgiving bit/hackamore combination in the whole event had the worst respect for the bridle… sigh)

 

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Gorgeous little horse this one – pretty sure he won overall.

The rest are the least-awful photos I took all day. Clearly I am not meant to be a photographer.

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IMG_1696Overall it was a very fun day and the seats were brilliant 😀

lorekai: Analogue: A Hate Story Review

This week I’m reviewing, a game that was a wonderful surprise gift, Analogue: A Hate Story, an intriguing visual novel by independent developer Christine Love, available on Steam for both PC and Mac.analogue Story:

I don’t know where to begin with this, there are so many things I want to say, and I don’t know how I can without spoiling it. To put it simply this game is very well written and compelling mystery story, tragic and ultimately bittersweet, it offers multiple endings, and explores multiple issues that I have not really seen explored in any games prior. The two characters you interact are in great contrast to one another, yet the game the game leaves you feeling sympathetic for both of them. There is a lot more I could say, but I fear it would be giving away too much, and this is truly a story you should experience for yourself. If nothing else it’s a story written by a queer woman, with a female audience in mind, and that alone sets it apart from the majority of the games in it’s genre.

Gameplay:

As a visual novel, gameplay wise this game is very simple. Your main task is to unlock documents, and in order to do so you present the documents you have to either character, and occasionally you’ll be given a choice to make, and these help determine which ending you unlock. There is also a simple command computer, which among other things, allows you to switch which character you are talking to. The menus are easy to navigate, and there is never a moment where the player is left uncertain of what to do next. It’s simple, it’s effective, and it works well to keep the focus on the story.

Sound:

The soundtrack was pleasant, if a little repetitive at times, and while there weren’t any particularly memorable tracks, everything used was appropriate to the atmosphere they wanted to convey. Ultimately a far better soundtrack than what you would expect from a $10 game.

Graphics:

Graphically this game is both well presented and visually appealing, perhaps a little simple, but in a way that is appropriate to the setting of the story. I very much like the character designs as, aside from being cute, looking back after completing the game, even their clothing choices make sense as to who they are and what they support. It’s difficult to explain without spoiling the game, but what initially could be dismissed as just an arbitrary decision, is actually a clever design choice.

Overall:

If you do not have this game, I would definitely recommend getting it, it has a lot to offer for $10, and if you are uncertain there is also a demo.

That’s all, thanks for reading, next week I’m not sure what I’ll be writing about, though I rarely ever am.

wildfillysama: Why I haven’t done my homework

I was meant to edit my Nanowrimo novel work last weekend. Technically, I did edit some of it… just not nearly as much as I’d meant to do. 32 pages is better than nothing, right? But here is what I did instead:

1. Stalk mare and foal around a paddock, taking a few hundred photos.

2. Feed dried coconut to myriad of adorable small birds, one of which came to perch on my chair (almost my foot) to demand further snacks.

3. Chased a VERY LARGE lizard around a living room with a broom until it was embarrassed enough for the both of us to leave.

4. Chased another RIDICULOUSLY LARGE lizard around the living room, which outwitted me by climbing the walls to evade the poking of the broomstick. It resides on the carvings above the windowsill to this day, I believe.

5. Bothered mare and foal some more, mostly with slavish adoration and grooming. Also liberal posting-in of carrots and feed.

6. Defended veggie garden from four marauding chickens.

7. Spent about 7 hours driving back and forth between home and the house where all these creatures were residing.

In short, I had a pretty awesome time house-sitting last weekend. Editing fiction was an after-thought, but at least some got done. I hope that everyone else, if you were editing or meaning to do something more productive than frolic amongst animals, have been more successful!

EbolaBooze’s Astro Corner: Eye of Newt(onian) and Banks of Fog

Seeing is crap and the weather’s a dog.

Half a point to whoever gets the reference.

So! Still cloudy and windy, and seeing in the range of 4-5 arc seconds in the clear breaks. Here’s a (somewhat) recent synoptic chart for those interested.

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It’s summer now, for the record.

I did promise a breakdown of what Newtonian telescopes (Newtonians, Newts) were good for, and here it is!

 

Newtonian Telescopes

Named after their inventor; Sir Issac Newton, mathemator of the letter x, lord of apples, the deadliest son-of-a-bitch in space, the Newtonian is a versatile design, and one of my favourite types of telescope.

A classical Newtonian is a purely reflective system, composed of a parabolic (or spherical, or hyperbolic) concave primary mirror, and a flat elliptical secondary mirror angled at 45° to the light path.

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Newtonians in their purely reflective form suffer from coma, which is the tendency for point sources of light (like stars) that are not in the centre of the field to be distorted, appearing to have a tail (coma) like a comet. In Newtonians, this is due to the fact that though a parabolic mirror will focus light rays to a common focus; this is true only for parallel, on-axis rays. Light rays from objects that are not on the optical axis i.e. the light rays strike the primary mirror at an angle, are not focused to the same point. This is only really a big problem on Newtonians with a focal ratio of f/6 or faster (lower), as the curve of the mirror increases with decreasing focal ratio.

The second major drawback of Newtonians is the fact that they have a central obstruction, caused by the secondary mirror required to reflect the light rays into the eyepiece/camera. The decreases the effective light-gathering area and the contrast obtainable by a scope of any given size, and is dependent on how large the central obstruction is. Again, the faster the focal ratio, the larger the secondary obstruction as the light cone has steeper angles and the mirror needs to be larger to intersect the whole of it.

Newtonians are also rotationally asymmetric, what with the focuser hanging off the side of the tube. If you’re mounting one on a German equatorial mount, more often than not the eyepiece will end up in an awkward position. For astrophotography though this doesn’t matter as much since the tube can be rotated to face the camera towards the mount axis.

That being said, the Newtonian is a design just as versatile as a refractor, and cheaper to boot. They can be had in apertures from 152mm (6”) all the way to massive monstrosities in the metre-class.

Aperture for aperture, a Newtonian is cheaper than almost any other type of telescope, and is the only option for amateur astronomers past around 50cm (20”) aperture.

The Dobsonian variant is one of the more popular types of telescope – in essence a Newtonian telescope placed on a simple alt-azimuth mount. Motorised tracking and computerised versions are available for ease of observation as well. These are primarily visual telescopes, able to offer impressive views of most objects in the sky for reasonable prices, up to apertures of half a metre.

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For astrophotography purposes, a Newtonian of focal ratio f/4 or faster on a good German equatorial mount is recommended. However, for decent images a coma corrector is a mandatory purchase – this will add around $300 to the price of the telescope, if a good quality one is purchased.

Focal lengths can range from 800mm for a fast 200mm aperture f/4 telescope, with the upper limit really determinant on the mirror size. A good upper limit for general astrophotography would be around 1600mm, achievable with a 406mm (16”) f/4 mirror, or a 306mm (12”) f/5 mirror. Various tube designs also exist, from solid metal tubes to open carbon-fibre truss designs.

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Most Newtonians tend to be in the f/3 to f/6 range, and depending on aperture are suitable for imaging most nebulae and some deep space objects. A caveat is that faster Newtonians tend to be significantly more expensive, as the mirror geometry becomes increasingly complex to grind.

My current primary imaging rig is a 254mm (10”) f/4.7 customised Newtonian. The 1200mm focal length is suitable for most nebulae, star clusters and the closest few galaxies to us. Larger nebulae need a focal reducer for an increased field of view and further-away galaxies need a Barlow lens or a tele-extender. The medium focal length doesn’t lend itself well to planetary imaging. Ritchey-Chrétiens and other Cassegrain telescopes, with their much longer focal lengths are much more suited for planetary imaging.

More on those next week.

 

Clear skies!