ultranos: kino standing, staring ahead (contemplative)
Let's try actually using this thing more, because god knows we're all going to need each other.

As something of another chapter in the ongoing clusterfuck that is my life, I've been trying to figure out my next move. (the description of this year as a backgammon game where you always make the best possible move but the dice fucking hate you remains as apt as ever)

I will admit that there's a large part of me that is starting to run on anger and spite. Mostly in the form of if the people who voted for destroying my future can sleep easy, then I'm gonna turn around and spend my life tearing down everything they love. And, you know, in the process make the world better because fuck them.

So I've been poking around non-profits and advocacy groups for clean energy, clean water, affordable medical technologies, etc. I've got this collection of technical knowledge, and I want to feel useful. It's never been about the money, beyond "have enough to survive". But the more I think about this idea, the more I really like the idea of throwing myself into this world, even if it's taking technical papers and work and translating that into workable lay-speak. I'm stumbling around semi-blindly, since my previous experience in non-profit has been on "R&D for military applications" side of things, which...well, you can understand my hesitance in that when I don't trust the people in charge less far than I can throw them. Anyone have any ideas of where might need an engineer, that'd be great.
ultranos: lain is having techinical difficulties (argh)
I don't know how to start this. This isn't how I thought this week would go. This isn't how I wanted it to go. I'm like a lot of people right now.

I don't know how to start this, but I'll try.

Hi.

It's been awhile, hasn't it? I'm more active over on Tumblr these days, but...I think I needed to come back here. I'm sorry it's been so long.

So this week happened. That election happened. The atmosphere around here, up in the deep-blue parts of deep-blue Massachusetts, I can only describe it as "oppressive". Everything seems muted. The statements from the university are the same ones they send out when someone dies. It's surreal.

I can't really say too much. I keep flitting back and forth between despair and white-hot rage.

I'm already losing things. I knew Wednesday that I'm going to have to quit my PhD after getting the Masters in the spring. No funding, funding uncertainty, and the stark knowledge that I need to be able to afford to drag my parents and brother out here, where it's safer, in case the worst happens. I can't do that while in school.

I don't know what I'm going to do. It's still a gaping wound to know that I woke up one day with options and a future, and when I woke up the next those were gone. Every time I think I might be able to talk about it, put some distance between it, I just end up feeling raw all over again.

It's so cold and painful to know that the people who share blood with you don't actually give a shit about you, and that they're fine with throwing your dreams and future and safety in the trash. I don't know if I'll ever be able to talk to them again. I might have stopped caring.

I'll pick myself up again. I'm going to be too angry, too spiteful to stay down.
ultranos: koromaru (shiba inu from persona 3) looking sad (koromaru is a sad puppy)
So as it turns out, breaking your ankle in multiple places and requiring surgery kind of really sucks.
ultranos: cecilia adelhyde holding spell book (Default)
Just to prove I'm not dead yet, and that this summer is going amazingly stress-free, here's some Fun With Boxes:

Read more... )
ultranos: XKCD comic: god is a sysadmin, file your bug reports (filing a cosmic bug report)
To whatever mad weather god we offended, I can assure you, all of us in Boston are very, very sorry and whatever it is we did, we won't do it again.
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ultranos: cecilia adelhyde holding spell book (Default)
Hi. Still alive. Life got eaten by a lot of things. (LARP season. Work. Holidays. Work.)

I don't know why I don't post here as much anymore. I do still read almost everything. I just don't have much to say. Well, unless I started only using this space for venting exclusively, but I don't know if anyone wants to read that.
ultranos: kino and hermes on a coffee break (i need a coffee break)
I keep putting off posting because I don't think I have anything substansial to let people know I'm still alive.

Anyway. My life has once again gone crazy and I'm just trying to keep up.

1.) Two PC game recs:

1a.) Transistor is really, really pretty. And it's fun and fairly clever. Reviews on the internet complain that the story is a little opaque, but really, it's because they did some interesting narrative tricks instead of laying it all out for you in a linear fashion. You figure it out by putting together what ephemera you find along with the (unreliable, biased) narrator is saying. It's made by Supergiant Games, the same people who made Bastion. And they got Darren Korb to do music again, so the soundtrack is excellent.

1b.) I accidentally 9 hours on Sunday playing Endless Space, which I guess is best described as Master of Orion-meets-Civ. 4X space game that's actually playable and doesn't feel overwhelming with micromanagement in real-time (it's turn-based). I hear the DLC expansion kind of sucks, though.

2.) I somehow got myself roped into staffing and being a plotwriter for a woods-LARP. As a corollary to that, I've found myself with the task of writing an entire critical mechanic system over the summer. Why I do this to myself, I'll never know.

3.) Trying to get my contract extended at work. This may or may not happen, depending on a grant. The probability of getting said grant might increase if I can manage to get a paper submitted. Which is where most of my energy is going. What's not going to that is going to the back-up plan, which is "find a new job". This plan is annoying. (On that note, anyone looking to hire a mechanical engineer with too much EE for her own good, who actually likes fluid dynamics, and has spent more time than one would think doing signal processing for biological systems?)
ultranos: elizabeth weir with arrow pointing at her with text "Has +50 to her Diplomacy Check" (roll your diplomacy check)
(I'm doing the "give me things to talk about" meme, with a few caveats. Feel free to leave me prompts. Leave more than one, if you want.)

[personal profile] auguris gave: "Summarize your perfect RPG. (Console or tabletop. Hell, both if you're up for it.)"

I'm going to tackle tabletop for now, because the tabletop system I'm writing has eaten my brain entirely.

As some of you might know, I'm in the process of writing a tabletop system and setting (and it's apparently grown a LARP setting) called Salt, Silk, and Steel. The impetus for this had a lot to do with a general state of dissatisfaction with tabletop RPGs.

First off: setting. I am fucking sick of Western European-inspired fantasy settings. I'm even more sick of them when they try to add other cultures in some bid for "inclusiveness" and come out looking like Imperialist caricatures, draped in the worst bits of Orientalism and "exotic" fetishization. (DnD Oriental Adventures, I am side-eying you so. hard.) The last woods-LARP I was in I left in disgust over having my complaints about a rather problematic take on my mother's culture ignored by the all-white staff. Let's not even get into rants about fantasy novels, as I have some rather unkind things to say about a rather popular and beloved YA fantasy author's portrayals.

So what I want is a setting that kicks the Western-Euro-centric setting of most fantasy systems to the curb and explores anything else. (In 3S, it just might be canonical that the Western Europe analogue is the least-interesting part of the world. I AM THAT BITTER.)

Second, and this is probably the most important: mechanics-roleplay integration. I want a game where both are equally important and necessary. In a lot of DnD, for example, the non-combat skills feel a bit tacked on (this has been lessened in later editions, but it's still somewhat there in 4E). And then you have games like FATE, where it's all roleplay and the mechanics are very lightweight. There needs to be a balance between "crunch" and "fluff". Something where someone who is a very good roleplayer can socially manipulate his way to his goals without necessarily needing to roll for it all the time, but at the same time, the mechanics junkie who isn't quite as good at talking to people off-the-cuff still feels like she can match him head-on if she puts enough points into the correct skills and the dice favor her.

That sort of balance is incredibly hard to even think about hitting. Hell, it might be impossible. But I'd love to see it happen.

Third: customization. Something where two PCs might look to have similar stats, but play very, very differently. Where it's pretty hard to find the One True Optimization, and a system that rewards unorthodox combinations and lateral thinking. Also hell to design, but we're on "perfect RPG" so why not.

Finally: A system where a single combat is tactically interesting and doesn't take 3 hours. :)
ultranos: sam and part of the derivation of navier-stokes (controlling the flow of ideas)
With regards to the "ask me things" meme: The next prompt will be answered in the future. I'm on stupid lab hours this week, and want to at least try to get some sleep before one of the cats decides to cry outside my door at 6am (I don't know why he does that. I don't feed him. The automatic feeder magically gives him food at certain times).

Also, feel free to leave me prompts there.
ultranos: cecilia adelhyde holding spell book (Default)
(I'm doing the "give me things to talk about" meme, with a few caveats. Feel free to leave me prompts.)

So [personal profile] synecdochic gave me: "Now that i know you are involved in the Mystery Hunt: what got you interested, and what are some of your favorite Hunt stories?"

Which is fitting, because Hunt ended a week ago (not counting wrap-up). (I think Zoz was still answering puzzle call-ins yesterday. Because he's Zoz.)

Cut because this really got away from me )
ultranos: cecilia adelhyde holding spell book (Default)
So I've been seeing the "give me a list of topics and I'll talk about one each day for a month" meme around, and it looks kinda interesting. So I'm willing to try it with the caveat that I suck at blogging and my schedule is screwed up enough that I might not actually make the "each day for a month" bit. However, I'm pretty sure I can promise to try to eventually write about each topic, even if it takes me more than a month.

So have at it. What would you like to see me talk about?
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ultranos: cecilia adelhyde holding spell book (Default)
The last few days have been a bit crazy. Work was expecting me to do the impossible, which was made moreso by the fact I'm on a lot of meds to get rid of a terrible lingering cough. But I think I got my PI on my side, so things will be less crazy.

I also came within 26 hours of missing a deadline for a grad school application because I misplaced the sheet of paper with all the dates on them. But I didn't, and that's what matters.

On Thursday, I came home to an email from one of the schools I applied to telling me that they'd like to offer me a flight-and-expenses paid trip to their department open house in March. I'm not accepted into the program yet, so the invite is a little baffling, but I'm taking it as a good sign.

And then I've probably slept about 18 hours in the last 4 days. Because, see, it was the annual MIT Mystery Hunt. Last year, I was on team with the name [the entire text of Atlas Shrugged] (we, uh, discovered there was no character limit on the team name submission box. Someone suggested we take advantage of this), and won the 2013 Hunt. Our reward was writing the next one.

I don't really write puzzles, but I've been testsolving some of them for the past year. And in an attack of guilt for not doing more during writing (due to attacks of real life), I signed myself up to be available for whatever during runtime. So I spent the last four days running around campus doing NPC and organizer interactions for various teams. And since this hunt had the theme Alice in Wonderland, that meant I threw dignity to the wind and allowed myself to be crammed into costumes to play the stoner Caterpillar, the Tweedles, voice the Jabberwock, and very nearly was stuffed into a dress to play the Queen of Hearts (I couldn't fit the costume. So a guy much skinner than me was the Queen of Hearts in drag). I also almost had to be the Cheshire Cat, but the boss realized I'd been limping at that point (before even I had) and asked if I really wanted to try running around for the next 4 straight hours after 20 hours awake at that point. (The people on the team are some fantastic human beings, for a lot of reasons.)

(The writing team and hunt name was [Alice Shrugged] for what should be fairly obvious reasons at this point.)

So this is what I've been up to for the past year. And now can cross that off my list of obligations.
ultranos: cecilia adelhyde holding spell book (Default)
Happy New Year from the exceedingly drunk.
(It was an excellent way to start the new year. I definitely needed it after the last.)
ultranos: red stickman on fire (the burning!)
1. That a song entitled "my long forgotten cloistered sleep" on repeat is what's actually helping me be insanely productive is somewhat hilariously tragic.

2. Yelling "FUCK YOU, WORDS" is not, in fact, a proscribed method of making more better words appear when you need them on paper.
ultranos: cecilia adelhyde holding spell book (the world in my hand)
Well, two of 'em.

BOOK!
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. The world has suffered an energy crisis and is pretty much a collection of overpopulated and polluted cities. The only solace is OASIS, which is what replaced the internet: a virtual reality MMORPG. Teenager Wade Watts, like most people, use OASIS as a refuge for their incredibly crappy lives. The creator of OASIS has died, and because he was a bit of an eccentric, his will has an interesting little quirk: there is a giant Easter egg hunt in OASIS, and the person who finds the egg inherits his fortune. The only clues are buried in the creator's writings, and the only cipher is...1980s pop culture.

It's pretty much a love letter to the 80s, especially "nerd" culture in the form of shows, movies, books, and video games from that decade, in a sci-fi plot.

VIDEO GAME!
Gone Home by the Fullbright Company. Gone Home is...difficult to describe. It's more of an interactive story than a "game". The year is 1995. You are Katie Greenbriar, a 20-year-old who just came back from a year overseas to a house your parents bought while you were away. You take an earlier, cheaper flight back and a shuttle home so your mother doesn't have to pick you up. From there, nothing is quite like you expect: you arrive at a locked, empty house, in the middle of the stormy night, and you have to figure out where everyone is, why no one is home, and how to get in the house.

I really can't say more without spoiling things. Like I said, it's more of an exercise in interactive narrative. The story of the year is told through narrated segments and through the bits and pieces of ephemera that exist in peoples' lives.

You can buy it directly from the publisher here.
It also exists on Steam and from the Humble Store.

(As a note: the game is fairly short for it's list price. I finished it in about 1.5 hours. Exploring fully could probably get you 3-4 hours. They recently added a developer commentary track. Whether or not you want to wait for it to go on sale [the annual Steam Holiday Sale is likely to start in a few weeks] depends on your own heuristics for evaluating time and craft. I will say that it is entirely worth playing.)
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ultranos: ashley from Trace Memory (white-haired girl) sleeping (head down go to sleep)
A couple of friends and I got it into our heads to sorta do NaNoWriMo this year. Except "sorta" in that we're not all writing novels. A bunch of us have assorted writing projects, and this seemed like an excellent way to use the time and cheer each other on as we did it.

My project? To actually write the pre-alpha rev of my newest tabletop setting: fantasy Asian wuxia and elemental mages. I think I've mentioned it before. (I had to start a BibTeX file for bibliographic references, because this thing is forcing me to pull from university libraries. The friend who is helping me acquire those "halped" by sharing some of the more fascinating parts of Tang era Chinese sex practices she'd found in one of the books. My friends, the most halpful.)

Anyway, since I mentioned the BibTeX thing, I'm also trying to figure out the best way of organizing all sorts of random material I scribble down before I commit it to a giant LaTeX document. I've been using a Moleskine and considered a pack of index cards, but the Moleskeine is getting annoying to flip through and annotate for continued pages when I want to append ideas, and my bedroom floor is already a mess and doesn't need index cards added to it for me to trip over.

I think I want something that lets me tack virtual, infinitely long Post-It notes to my computer screen, so I can reorganize them into pretty patterns with string to make the information flow right. (Oh god, the skill web is going to be a nightmare to design without something like this.)

I remember someone once upon a time mentioning Scrivener, and apparently they have a Windows version now. I downloaded a trial, but I was glancing at the tutorial and I'm not sure this is what I want. I'm specifically not writing a novel or a report. On the other hand, I'm writing lots of little parts that I can hopefully collate later, and Scrivener might keep track of it all. I really need to see if it can export into LaTeX and if it understands BibTeX, because that'd be super. Has anyone used this software? How is it? Can I make it do what I want with corkboard webs on the computer?

Is there any other examples of document writing software like this? I don't even know what to call it.
ultranos: ashley from Trace Memory (white-haired girl) sleeping (sleepy)
*tap tap* Is this thing on?

So I haven't exactly been posting lately. I've been reading, but it's a lot easier to read than post and/or comment. Most of why I've been busy is the new job. Working between two labs is crazy, guys. But it's the good kind of busy. Even if it does mean I'm running between campus and hospitals. ("I need to go to Longwood." "What?! Are you okay!?" "What? OH, FOR WORK. I AM GOING TO LONGWOOD FOR WORK. EVERYTHING IS FINE.") 9 and 11-hour days make scheduling ridiculous, as I need to not work overtime or else the admins will get grumpy so I have to do some creative accounting to make sure everything more or less washes out in aggregate. (I don't actually want overtime. My current theory is lying about that will get me what I want in the long run.)

I am also assuming that I'm currently doing an acceptable job as both labs just keep stacking more things in my lap as I've apparently proven competent and more papers to read as I've apparently proven capable of understanding things.

In other news, apparently the fall TV season started or something. I'm out of the loop. Instead, I found myself reading manga again, and fell head-first into Shingeki no Kyojin / Attack on Titan. I'm currently describing it as post-post-(post?)-apocalyptic survival horror. Really, though, I was sold when Isayama introduced Mikasa. I will have words with you if you don't like Mikasa. (DMark has already declared he will ragetableflipquit the series if she ends up dying. Along with the rest of us.)

I also picked up from Amazon the RPG sourcebook Don't Rest Your Head on Kindle. It looks to be a neat little system, enough that I shelled out for the PDF supplement book Don't Lose Your Mind directly from Evil Hat. System looks to be strongly focused on roleplaying and narrative, rather than mechanics. The mechanics themselves are extremely simple, but the way they serve to bolster the story for the players/GM is quite elegant. I think I need to try it, perhaps running a one-shot or short campaign. I've got some ideas. I also want to see how it fits my theory of narrative torque in RPGs. (Which also reminds me that I've been meaning to run a Kuro campaign for approximately the last six months. Go me.)

Speaking of games, I spend part of the day playing through a nifty little browser game: A Dark Room. I highly recommend it. It's a great example of minimalist game design, where every mechanic and piece of text serves to contribute to the story and world. It's also great in that it'll run in a browser tab and only demand your attention every once in awhile. You actually need to ignore it and let it run for awhile to finish it (resource generation).

Next time in this space: More game talk? Maybe I'll read a book that's not a text book? WHO KNOWS.
ultranos: arisato minato listening to music in minimalist colors (beat of a different drum)
Time for another round of "nos asks the hive mind". This time, music recommendations. The topic is "songs of vice and sin". Anything from "One Night in Bangkok" to "House of the Rising Sun" to "The Perfect Crime #2". I don't really care.

I, uh, basically might be doing something involving the seven deadly sins and need inspiration. And I'd like to see if I can actually make a playlist that doesn't involve Matthew Good in some way. :)
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ultranos: sam and part of the derivation of navier-stokes (controlling the flow of ideas)
On July 25th, I ended my appointment at the MIT Media Lab after 3 years working there. I'd been searching for a new job for approximately the last two months.

I do have a new job. I did not actually escape the Institute, as I'm now working with two labs. I'm hoping I get the paperwork done next week so I can start getting paid and back in the system, although I think I started on Wednesday. If nothing else, one of the professors handed me the textbook of the class he's teaching in the fall and asked me to read and understand it within the next two weeks. So there's that.

This time, it looks like everything is already on the table for all parties involved as to what each of us expects out of this. Since it's pretty unilaterally "grad school", hopefully this time around I'll get in. It helps that I'm totally psyched for one of the labs' areas of expertise (microfluidics! Yes, I am insane.).

Looking back at all the interviews I went on (I spent how much in Zipcar rentals?!), I wonder if I gave off the impression subconsciously that I'm happier on the bleeding edge of research and development. It's true, no matter how much I tried to say it wasn't important. I wonder if despite my efforts, the impression got through anyway. I don't think I regret this.
ultranos: arisato minato listening to music in minimalist colors (welcome to the rocking grounds)
I went and saw Pacific Rim on Friday night. I ended up seeing it in 3D, as not all of the group I was going with could make the earlier showings in glorious 2D. That being said, the use of 3D in this movie did not feel gimmicky at all, which is the usual problem I have with movies with 3D.

But I've been sort of avoiding other discussions of this movie because I've been mulling it over in my head. I want to go see it again, but we'll make due right now with my initial analysis of one of the more interesting points of this movie. (I could write reams of meta on this movie.)

Pacific Rim is a giant mecha movie. )

Profile

ultranos: cecilia adelhyde holding spell book (Default)
ultranos

Memoranda from the Usual Suspects

Media List:

Currently Watching:
-- Supergirl(hiatus)
--Pitch (hiatus)


Currently Playing:
--[null] (PS3)
--[null] (PS2)
--Fire Emblem: Awakening (3DS)
--[null] (PSP)
--[null] (XBox360)
--Endless Legend (PC)
--Fallout: New Vegas (PC)


Currently Reading:

Manga
-[null]

Fiction
-The Rook, Daniel O'Malley
-Fortune's Rising, Sara King

Nonfiction
-Ratf**ked: The True Story Behind the Secret Plan to Steal America's Democracy, David Daley


------------------

"So she's good cop, he's bad cop, you're morally-questionable cop, and I'm set-things-on-fire cop."

"Sounds about right."

--------

"WARNING: When attempting to be clever, make sure you not actually just being stupid."

--------

"Did you remember to sacrifice the goat before burning the ISO to the DVD-R?"

"Crap! Um, I've got a charred piece of meat here."

"That's called a steak. That's dinner. What about the sacrifices?"

--------

"I escape through quantum-tunneling. What do I need to roll for that?"

--------

"Why is it called a 'Monkeylord'?"

"Because it looks like a spider."

--------

"I have a moral objection to this problem. It implies microwaving a steak."

--------

"Did you eat the crazy cookies this morning?"

--------

"The GPU goes 4 by 4, hurrah, hurrah."

December 2016

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