Feb. 6th, 2011 01:02 pm
dxmachina: (Koufax2)
Last weekend I joined my friend Tom Z on his annual pilgrimage to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. I'd never been before, despite it being no more than 15 miles from my brothers' farm. Tom goes every year for a F2F with his online fantasy baseball buddies. Now I know how civilians feel at gatherings.

We were a little worried about the weather, as snow showers were predicted, but they didn't really materialize. If fact, there was less snow on the ground in Cooperstown than in coastal Rhody, and far less that at Tom's house in central Connecticut. We were all supposed to meet up for breakfast, but the usual restaurant was closed for renovations, and we chose the wrong backup. We met up with the group at the Hall and spent most of the day there. I have pictures here.

It was fun. It's not a big museum, and there are areas where you think they might have done a better job, although a lot of that might be personal preference. You get a little bit of everything, but not a lot of depth, which I suppose is par for the course in any museum. One item actually annoyed me. In a generally well-done exhibit about baseball movies, they include a jersey Tim Robbins wore in Bull Durham. What annoys is that this is the same institution that banned Robbins from speaking at a celebration of that movie because of his political views. Jerks*.

* The museum is currently embroiled in a bit of a scandal of another sort. Sometime in the 80's some items went missing from their collection. Some of these have now turned up at some high end auction houses. An employee at one of the houses notified the HoF, and reports they seem to show no inclination of getting the artifacts that they were entrusted with back, along with apparently refusing to assist the FBI in its investigation. Meanwhile, the nY Public Library has been much more active in trying to sort out similar thefts from their collection. More information here and elsewhere on that site, which is for a forthcoming book on the subject.

Midway through the day we all had lunch, and the conversation turned into a bit of a wake. These guys are all heavy hitters in the world of fantasy baseball, and one type of game in particular**, a game that was just canceled by the company running it. I got to hear more about the politics and business aspects of running fantasy baseball competitions than I need to know, but not enough to put me off the day (my own leanings are to baseball simulation games, and the search for the perfect sim, so I know from the zeal). Apparently the company that originally ran the game was the outfit that successfully fought MLB's bogus attempt to copyright game data. They won, but used up a lot of dough in doing so, and sold out to another company. That company was sold to the conglomerate that owns the Atlanta Braves, among other things, and the corporate PTB decided to get out of fantasy baseball. So, RIP, Diamond Challenge. Or maybe not. One of the guys at lunch apparently helped launch the game back in the day, and is now trying to launch it again under new management. I hope it works out.

** Normal fantasy baseball involves drafting a team from the current list of ML players, and seeing how they perform over the course of the season. The late, lamented game (Diamond Challenge) has the same goal, but a different approach to rosters. In the usual game, once a player is drafted no one else can get him for their team, just like in real life. In the Diamond Challenge, players are assigned "salaries", and more than any team can draft any player, as long as they stay below a set salary total. Thus every team in the league can put Albert Pujols on their roster, but paying his humongous salary doesn't leave much to spend on the rest of the team.

Anyway, it was good day.

I stumbled across Momma Mia! on TBS last night, and watched it for the first time. So, who thought it was a good idea to have Pierce Brosnan sing? Because he makes Lee Marvin in Paint Your Wagon sound like Pavoratti.
dxmachina: (Bike Snow)
I just went the entire month of January without ever seeing even a bit of my lawn. I can't ever recall having snow on the ground for an entire month. Coastal Rhody gets snow storms in winter, sure, and even an occasional blizzard, but the snow cover never lasts more than a couple of weeks. The temperature creeps up over freezing for a few days, there's some rain, and presto... The lawn reappears in all it brown and muddy glory. Not this year. I never thought I'd be happy to see February.

Yesterday we finally got a little respite as temps made it up into the mid-forties. I even considered going for a ride, but then it occurred to me that the bike path would likely be a river of melted snow. If it had been plowed in the first place. Instead, I replaced the broken third door handle on the truck with a much-better-than-the-cheap-plastic-original machined aluminum handle. That oughta last. I've been thinking about mailing the broken handle to the chairman of GM with a brief note as an object lesson as to why his company is on the verge of bankruptcy.

After that, I headed down to the basement to work on the stop block system for the radial arm saw, and accomplished quite a bit. I've been trying to get some stuff done down there all month, but it was just too damn cold. Saturday, the temperature down there was in the high forties. It's amazing how much warmer 55° feels to the fingers.

Other than that, I've mostly been parked in front of the computer playing Baseball Mogul. For the first time ever, in any game, I simmed a team for an entire season, managing all 162 games, plus the playoffs and World Series. I started just before Christmas, and finished last weekend. Now I'm about two thirds of the way through the following season, although I'm only managing about one game a series, and letting the computer sim the rest. I have some quibbles with the game, but it is fast.

I haven't ridden my bike since December 14th, the longest I've gone without riding in almost two years. It's not that I haven't wanted to. There's only been one day in all that time when it was above freezing without a lot of snow on the ground and I wasn't at work, and that was Christmas morning. I almost did then, but I would've been late for dinner. I assumed there'd be other days. Last year I managed to ride 50 miles in January. This year, nada. Feh.
dxmachina: (Snow)
It's snowing again. At least the temperature is back up in the twenties.

Sunk costs: costs that cannot be recovered once they have been incurred.

Note to self: Never pre-register for a con until you get a look at the program, no matter what the discount is.  )

Speaking of sunk cost, the Dodgers released Andruw Jones last week, despite still owing him $22M. I have never seen a player fall off a cliff as badly as Andruw did last year. Most of the pitchers had better years with the bat than Andruw did. It is really bad when you tell a guy that, yeah, we still owe you a dumptruck full of money, but you have so little value as a ballplayer that we don't even want you on the bench.


Aug. 4th, 2008 08:51 pm
dxmachina: (Computers 02)
I ran across a pretty nifty puzzle game today at Jay Is Games called Duck: Think Outside the Flock. Each level is a different puzzle involving adorable rubber duckies. The idea here is that you not only have to solve each puzzle, but you have to figure out what the puzzle is in the first place. Each one is different, although later puzzles pick up where earlier ones leave off. Compared the others in the genre, the puzzles aren't terribly difficult (although at least they don't try to pass off increased tedium as increased difficulty), and there are only 25 levels. What makes it for me are the graphics and animation, which are first rate and charming. The music and sound effects are terrific, too. Little kids will love this game.

Duck: Think Outside the Flock

There is a walkthrough if you get stuck.

dxmachina: (Marvin02)
So, that was a thoroughly frustrating weekend. Almost all of the loot I bought from Amazon last weekend arrived by Saturday (and all using the supposedly slow super saver shipping), including both the Saitek Flight Yoke and the replacement battery for my Palm. After a quick inspection of the books I'd ordered, I started playing with stuff.

A Wing and a Prayer... )

Fun with superglue... )

Etc... )

At least the weather seems to have become more amenable to my biking routine. I got in two good rides. Saturday I pedaled over to the post office to pick up my mail, and just kept on going from there to the bike path and back. It was a long ride with some steeper than usual uphill grades. One thing to add about that is that there's nothing in the world quite like like biking downwind of a dairy farm on a hot and humid day. Then yesterday I drove to the path and rode about fourteen miles on the three-speed. That was fun.
dxmachina: (Rain)
Some men drink to forget; I play games on the computer. Spent most of the weekend directing an armored battalion from Normandy to the suburbs of Paris in Steel Panthers. Didn't ride my bike at all, although the only day the weather actually allowed me a choice in the matter was today, and I couldn't be arsed. The weather people have been recycling the same damn forecast every damn day for the last couple of weeks — hazy and humid with a chance of showers.

I did get one thing accomplished. I finally got around to installing the ceiling fan I bought last October. I got it to replace a much older fan I'd installed in the back room. The old fan worked, but it buzzed loudly. The new one wasn't ideal. For one thing, it was all white. The old one was polished brass. Alas, the fittings weren't interchangeable. So I bought a can of bright gold spray paint and made the thing look like brass. Sort of. It's not as shiny as the polished brass (attempts to polish just removed the paint — I should've primed it, I suppose), but it looks way better than white on a white ceiling. Sadly, it is not whisper quiet. Or if it is, "whisper quiet" should not use as a reference the volume of a "whisper" uttered by rude people at a movie theatre. There's a hum. Not happy about that. Also, it makes me realize exactly how much smaller the back room is compared the the bedroom in my old apartment. That house had 9' ceilings, and the room was 14' x 12'. The back room is 11' x 10' with a 93" ceiling. The low ceiling is the main thing. I feel like Charlie and Grandfather at the top of the fizzy-lifting silo with the fan about to chop me into hamburger.

The other weird thing about this fan is that it has a custom sized socket for the light bulb. It's about half the diameter of a standard bulb socket, but bigger than a Christmas light socket. Another specialty bulb to keep track of. I'm guessing they don't make compact fluorescents in that size, either.

Mad Money... )

Wii Not?

Jan. 6th, 2008 07:40 am
dxmachina: (Computers 02)
Spent way too much time at work yesterday, but the evening was good. Went to a Twelfth Eleventh Night party, ate way too much food, and then got my first look at the Wii. Boy, did I ever want one for about five minutes there. Mostly it was fun just watching the kids play it, but some of us adults got to play a quick game of golf on it later on, and it was just... neat. The controller is interesting.

Still, I don't want to spend money on new gadgets just now. Plus, in order to play it to full effect, you really need a largish TV screen, something else I don't have just yet. I also suspect the experience is lessened when it's played without a group of people surrounding you. Le sigh. Perhaps I should just reinstall Tiger Woods 99 on my PC.
dxmachina: (Books 02)
It took me a couple of chapters to get comfortable in Halting State, by Charles Stross. The book is told using second person narrative, and it took awhile to get used to it. (Well, that and because the first character the reader takes on both speaks and thinks in Scottish.) The device makes perfect sense, since the book is about the investigation of a crime that takes place in a virtual world, so just as the investigators have to take on avatars to investigate the crime, the reader in turn takes on the investigators as avatars.

Accountants and dragons and orcs, oh, my... )

Gem of the Atlantic... )
dxmachina: (Books 02)
I continue to bounce back and forth amongst Pratchett's books about the Watch. This time it was Men at Arms, in which Vimes gets married, Carrot becomes a Captain instead of a king, and Angua makes her first appearance. Great fun and a compelling mystery. What more could one want?

Well, one could want to become immersed in that world, which Discworld Noir does a passable job at. Noir is a computer game about the Discworld's first and only private investigator. The wikipedia article on the game claims that "The game's story line is a completely original creation," which is true, if by completely original creation you mean that the creators took the plots of the Maltese Falcon, Farewell My Lovely, and Casablanca, and rolled them around some Lovecraft while lifting lines and/or characters from the Big Sleep, Doctor Who, and To Have and To Have Not (among others). Not to mention all the stuff from Pratchett. It could have been wretched, but it's really a lot of fun watching the hero (Lewton) look for the Tsortese Falchion and a chanteuse named Therma whilst dealing with the arrival of the lover who ran out on him with no explanation all those years ago, and now Sam is playing their song in a cafe in Ankh-Morpork. The gameplay is fair to the player, and the puzzles are in context with the mysteries. It does drag a bit in the fourth (and final) act when most of the characters have left the stage and Lewton is spending most of his time doing library research on the Big Bad, but it finishes strong.

The real fun is seeing the setting and familiar characters. Among others, Nobby, Vimes, Leonard of Quirm, the Patrician, and even Death (in all his CAPITALIZED glory) are on hand. The voice acting is very good. Nobby sounds like Nobby, and Death SOUNDS LIKE DEATH. The voice for the Sidney Greenstreet stand-in (speaking mostly the same dialog) is better then the original. The only voice I was disappointed in was Vimes, who sounded like the guy who played Field Marshall Montgomery in Patton, sort of like Don Adams with a British accent.

After all the Discworld, I read Roger Zelazny's Doorways in the Sand, a book I liked a lot when I first read it back in grad school. It's about a perpetual student whose hobby is climbing things who suddenly finds himself in the middle of a Hitchcockian situation involving a missing artifact, hoodlums, government agents, and aliens who like to disguise themselves as fuzzy animals. The style is interesting. (Well, interesting enough for me to actually notice it.) Each chapter starts with a cliffhanger of sorts, followed by a flashback of how the hero got into the situation, and then switching back to the present to resolve the situation. Lather, rinse, repeat. The ending is a bit contrived (there's a bit of a deus ex machina involved), but I still enjoyed it.
dxmachina: (Koufax)
Spahn & Sain

First we'll use Spahn
then we'll use Sain
Then an off day
followed by rain
Back will come Spahn
followed by Sain
And followed
we hope
by two days of rain.

-- Gerald V. Hern

Sain and BoutonBack in the day, when my best friend Richie and I used to play All Star Baseball under the maple tree in my backyard, one or the other of us would almost always pick Johnny Sain to pitch for our team. To be honest, I knew nothing about Sain as a pitcher. He'd retired when I was two. What I did know, based on his ASB disk, was that he'd been a heck of a hitter for a pitcher. Each player in ASB was represented by a disk that fitted over a spinner. You spun, and the outcome of the at bat depended on which numbered arc the spinner ended up in. (If it was on a line, we called "foul ball" and spun again.) The size of the arcs were based upon the players' actual stats. Sain didn't have much power (homers were "1"), but he hit a ton of singles ("7" and "13"). Plus, he hardly ever struck out ("10"). You really couldn't ask much more from a pitcher in a game in which pitching had absolutely no effect on the outcome.

When I got older, I read Ball Four, in which Jim Bouton sang Sain's praises as a pitching coach. (We had Bouton in ASB, too, but he hardly ever got in. I mean, look at all those frelling 10's.) Everyone who worked with him seemed to think he was the best pitching coach in the game. Leo Mazzone, probably the best pitching coach in baseball today, was a pupil.

Johnny Sain passed away Tuesday at 89. He was a terrific pitcher, a terrific coach, and a pretty decent hitter, too. Rest in peace.
dxmachina: (Charlie Brown)
Major League Baseball Advanced Media, i.e.,, the marketing arm of Major League Baseball, took one in the earflap yesterday as a judge ruled that MLB cannot copyright facts. I've mentioned the case before. MLBAM has been charging license fees to the companies that run fantasy baseball leagues for the use of its statistics, taking the position that MLB owns all the data generated from its games. Despite the dubious legitimacy of that claim, the fantasy leagues paid the extortion, as did the video and computer game makers. (This led to the current state of affairs where there is currently no licensed PC-based computer baseball game, because MLB granted an exclusive license to a company that only produces games for video consoles.)

MLBAM denied a license to one fantasy game company, so that company went ahead and used the stats anyway, and also filed a lawsuit against MLBAM to have the statistics recognized as factual information that is not protected by copyright. MLBAM argued that it was not about copyright, but instead about the right to publicity, i.e., the use of someone's likeness for profit. The judge didn't buy any of it, pretty much airing them out like Charlie Brown on the pitchers mound in rejecting all of MLBAM's arguments in finding for the plaintiffs.

Maury Brown has the text of the decision here, and there's a brief discussion at the Griddle as well. One thing that was brought up over there is that video and computer games still aren't completely free and clear of licensing requirements, especially if they want to use things like team logos and uniforms. It should be a boon to text-based games, like Strat-o-Matic and Out of the Park baseball, though.

ION, my hand is still swollen, and is itching like crazy. I count five separate places on my thumb where I got stung the other night. The good news is that my midnight attack with the bug bomb seems to have wiped out the nest, so I'll be able to use the grill again.
dxmachina: (DX-Opus)
Got up bright and early, despite having gone to sleep late. I may sleep on the couch tonight. I seem to be able to sleep better there than on the futon. Since I was up, I was able to make it over to Tire Pros just as they opened to drop off the punctured tire from the other day to be repaired. Stopped at the post office, and ran into my ex-landlady. It was just starting to rain again, so I gave her a lift back to her house, and we chatted for a bit. It was nice to catch up. We haven't seen each other for a while. Afterwards, I went home, gathered up all my non-working and broken watches (well, three of them, anyway) and took a ride in to Wakefield to bring them to the watch hospital. The two non-working ones got new batteries, so now I can tell time on two wrists, and the broken watch got shipped to their main store to replace the crystal. I rarely get down to Wakefield anymore, except on bicycle, so I stopped in a couple of other places. Unfortunately, it was still too early for either of the used bookstores to be open. So I drove back up to Wickford, picked up my repaired tire (at no charge, because I'd bought it there), stopped at Wal-Mart to buy a hydraulic floor jack (so I don't ever have to use the miserable POS jack that came with the truck ever again), and headed for home.

Spent the rest of the day staring out my window, watching the rain come down in sheets. Didn't get any in the basement, though. I was mightily surprised by that. I cleaned some, did my laundry, had some ice cream, and listened to the Dodgers paste the Phils. Four rookies started today, and all did well. Matt Kemp hit his third home run in four whole major league games. At that rate, he'll pass Barry Bonds sometime in 2012 or so. Dinner was pasta carbonara and a glass of Riesling . Mmmm, bacon.

I also finally got around to installing Civ IV. There are a lot of changes from Civ III. The neatest one so far is that there's a voiceover of an applicable quotation for each new technology when it's discovered, similar to what was done in Alpha Centauri. The big difference is that instead of some anonymous voices, the quotes in Civ IV are done by Leonard Nimoy, which surprised the heck out of me when I first heard him. Very cool.

Still raining Tasmanian devils outside, and the power just blinked. So tired of rain.
dxmachina: (Calvinball)
There is much joy in Boston as Pitiless Theo apparently decided to take pity on the Sox and return to work. In other Red Sox news, Kirk Cameron Bronson Arroyo signed an extension with the Sox well below his agent's expectations because he like playing in Boston. Scott Boras has no doubt now crossed Arroyo off his list of desirable clients. While there is much to admire in Bronson's attitude, one has to wonder if the Sox will show him the same loyalty, given that he's, like, seventh on their depth chart of starting pitchers.

Out in LA, Neddy "the Dealer" Colletti made another trade, this time sending top starting pitching prospects Edwin Jackson and Chuck Tiffany to Tampa for one-time all-star relievers Danys Baez and Lance Carter. Dodger dealings... )

ManagementSpeak: "Boy, we dodged a bullet on that one."
Translation: "What's bad isn't that we shot ourselves in the foot. It's how fast we reloaded and fired again."

MLB is suing a fantasy baseball business for using MLB statistics without paying a royalty. Hey, you missed a toe... )

30 days until pitchers and catchers report.
dxmachina: (Default)
Made the mistake of taking a nap just before dinner time, and now I can't fall asleep, even though I feel tired. Well, my eyes are tired, anyway. I've even been reading one of the most boring baseball books ever written, George Will's Men at Work, which normally puts me out within a page or two, but no such luck tonight.

Have accomplished nothing of note so far this week, other than resurrecting a simulated USS Lexington from its grave under the Coral Sea, and relocating it to Narragansett Bay so I can attempt to land planes on it in FS2004. I have been spectacularly unsuccessful at that last. A softball buddy of mine used to fly F-14s off the Eisenhower, and I'm always amazed at how easy guys like that make it look as they land a plane doing 150 kts on a deck doing 30 kts that is also going up and down as the ship moves through the waves. Now he flies 747s to Japan. He says it's much less stressful. The relocation involved doing latitude and longitude calculations for the four corners of the arresting gear area on the deck, which involved all sorts of trigonometric arcanery. I eventually gave that up and fudged the calculation based on an empirical measurement of a Google Earth satellite view of a real carrier, the USS Saratoga, which happens to be parked over in Newport waiting to be turned into a museum.

Ad Copy

Nov. 6th, 2005 01:58 pm
dxmachina: (Calvin)
I was browsing through this month's issue of Computer Gaming World when I chanced upon an ad featuring a picture of an Iowa class battleship being attacked by Japanese planes. Being a naval battles buff, I read the accompanying text, quoted here verbatim:

"Send your enemies to the bottom.. a game like you've never seen"

The story of "Navy Field" was based on the WWII which is considered to be one of the most unforgettable and largest wars of the 20th century. As you can tell by the title, "Navy Field" is the story of naval battles during WWII. In "Navy Field", players can take command of historical ships such as the Yamato and Musashi, US New Jersey, US Missouri, U.K. Princess of Wales, and the German Bismarck. As well as providing these historically well known ships and images, "Navy Field" also allows the opportunity for players to experience such vivid moments of WWII naval battles in individual battles with up to 128 simultaneous players. If you wish to be a hero; join "Navy Field" today!

Really makes me want to give them my credit card number, I tell ya. This is why you should always hire a local ad agency when you're trying to sell your product in another country. It would also help to get your facts correct. It's USS New Jersey and Missouri, and while HMS Prince of Wales may be referred to as "she," she wasn't named after Lady Diana.
dxmachina: (Dandelions)
Heh. Spend much of the day playing Civ III, then come up for air to check LJ, and find this - Civ IV Addicts Anonymous, courtesy of [ profile] pinwiz. Very, very funny.

Labor Day

Sep. 5th, 2005 10:09 pm
dxmachina: (Hangover)
It was a long, mostly aggravating weekend with fabulous weather, apart from a brief sunshower Sunday evening. I rode the bike path twice. Saturday I did fourteen miles in the morning, and this evening I did nine. I'd planned to do more today, but I was aggravated, so I just did one out-and-back lap. It was, however, the first time I've actually felt good at the end of a ride this season, so that's progress. I also went to a PawSox game Saturday night, which I may talk about later.

I did spend some quality time down in the basement, finally finishing the job of breaking the leg lamp's wooden crate down to boards, including removing all the frelling nails. I didn't count them all, but there were probably around 200 nails all told, and me and my needle-nose pliers pulled out each and every one of them. Well, not all of them. Some were so long and tightly held that I had to remove them by clamping the end of the nail in a vise, and then using the board as its own lever the pull them out. By the end of the job my right hand was cramped and well abraded (despite wearing a work glove). I did manage to avoid getting any splinters, but on the other hand, I got a fat lip when the pliers slipped off a nail I was pulling on really hard, and they smacked me in the mouth. Anyway, now I have a huge stack of really crappy wood to do something with. I kind of wish I had a fireplace. It would make great kindling. The more I handled it, the more I became convinced that it wasn't reall good for anything else. I may try running a piece through the planer to see if it cleans up at all, but I'm pessimistic.

Beyond that, I mostly just sat around reading or staring at the computer screen. I finished a reread of Ringworld, and started a reread of The Ringworld Engineers. I'm also through two of the stories in Trouble Is My Business. I also played a lot of Civ III, at least until it started crashing every time I reached 480 AD in my current game. Bother.

My brother is finally back home from SC, after having a second surgery on his foot. Still lots more surgery to go up here.

The Dodgers were swept by the Rockies. Time to be a spoiler.
dxmachina: (Thunderbird 1)
It almost always happens after I visit Alex. We spend a good bit of time fiddling around with Flight Simulator, and I come home with the bug to fly. Granted, it's armchair flying, but that's a good thing, because my landings tend to be rough. I hadn't reinstalled FS 2002 since I replaced the main drive in my machine last year, but Friday night I decided I wanted to do some flying.

Can't it be easy just once? )

Anyway, I finally did get to fly, and I did find plenty of fun aircraft to download, like this one: Buzzing the Pru, behind the cut... )


Jun. 21st, 2005 11:21 pm
dxmachina: (Dandelions)
I spent the majority of the weekend sitting in front of the computer like a lump rather than doing anything chorelike. Okay, I did do some straightening up in the basement, and finally got around to aligning my miter saw, but mostly I just played Civ III. It's one of those games that just grabs me. I start off figuring on playing for an hour in the morning, and next thing I know it's midnight. I suppose that as a way of forgetting about one's cares and woes it's healthier than heavy drinking or heroin.

I didn't go to the airshow. Turns out I didn't need to. Sunday afternoon, I got my own private air show. (I don't live that far away from the base.)

As penance for the wasted weekend, I've been doing yardwork in the evenings. Last night I mowed the lawn. This evening, I staked the tomato plants, weeded the onion patch, and took a pruning to the evil thicket, lopping off several dozen of the more encroachy branches. I have at least one tiny green tomato out there, still attached to the plant, even. There are also two teeny strawberries, about the size of jujubes, and they're just about ripe.

One thing I did finish was Crown of Slaves, by David Weber and Eric Flint, another book set in Weber's Honorverse, featuring some of the side characters Weber and Flint have been developing over the last few years. I enjoyed it, although it certainly could've been edited down a bit. Except for the end, which seemed really rushed after taking so long to get there.


dxmachina: (Default)

February 2016



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