January 25, 2014

There IS something good this season

Sekai Seifuku Bouryaku no Zvezda. I just finished the first episode, and I'm so glad I have the second to launch right into. It is out and out hilarious.

Our hero is an ordinay school boy, Jimon Asuta, and we open with him fighting with his dad on the phone, and essentially running away from home, for which he is ill-prepared (Starting off broke and hungry). But before you think the world is ordinary, outside a convenience store he meets a classmate who reminds him that "Martial Law level 2" is in effect. And it's Curfew time. And she's gone, and the stores all shutter instantly before he can buy something to eat.

Evading police patrols, he runs into a very strange little girl with what he thinks are delusions of world conquest and being the leader of a secret organization. Hoshimiya Kate AKA Lady Venera, leader of the evil secret society Zvezda. With nothing better to do, he follows her around, and that's when we discover that not only aren't we in Kansas any more, it's not even on the same map! Explosions go off and it looks like the military is fighting some giant monster, that can only be seen for the moment by the flashes of the explosions.

They continue to wander the empty streets, but they aren't entirely empty, as some strange individuals are around. Jimon gets a little tired of the game and gives Kate a dose of what he thinks is reality. She zooms off on her little bike, and feeling regret, he chases off after her, only to nearly be run down by a police car (more of an APC). Nearly, only because one of those strange individuals cuts the damned thing in half with her sword so she can interrogate him about the whereabouts of Kate. A second stranger appears, and they argue while Jimon slips away.

He finds himself in a park, and then he finds himself underneath the giant monster as Apache Gunships launch missiles. He also find himself in front of a company of tanks, and he finds the stuffed animal Kate was out looking for.  And then he's really lost. The stuffed animal, along with a boatload of these little fuzzy ball creatures were what the monster was made from, and the tanks managed to blow it up, releasing them all. A deluge of thousands upon thousands of tribbles.

For some reason, he braves the charging tanks to scoop up the doll, and they surround him. The mask he's carrying that Kate game him makes them think he's the enemy who was controlling the monster (It was actually another guy he encountered in the park). The tank company are about to capture him at the orders of their general when SHE steps in. The Primary Target, the Leader of Zvezda. It's the little girl, in a costume change. And the tank commander takes the initiative and fires at her, point blank. She stops the shell with her fingertip (with a large floating glowing magical symbol at the tip). Jimon is speechless, thought-free, and probably this close to involuntary incontinence.

The stuffed animal is, apparently some kind of power focus, and Kate uses it to manifest a giant hand, and smash the tank company. The shattered tanks and the unconscious tank commander are thoughtfully labelled with a symbol indicating they've been "Conquered".

Later, after the strangers chastise their member who unleashed the monster too early, Kate joins with them and introduces Jimon as their newest member. He does not take it too well, but what's he going to do?

This was just so over the top, full of weirdness, I loved it. If you liked Kill la Kill, give this a try.

Posted by: Mauser at 03:53 AM | No Comments | Add Comment
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January 21, 2014

Upgraded

Himawari got a third drive. A 3 Terabyte Seagate. And what is this massive storage going to be used for?  Backups.

Himawari started with a 2 T Seagate, which was divided in 2 for historic reasons (C: and D:). And got a second 2T for backups (E:) and to help me save all my stuff from the painful process of the Win XP-7 upgrade process. Well, the D: partition was where the torrents were going, and it was filling up, and the backups of C: and D; were filling up E:. I pondered aiming the torrents at the new drive, but really, with E: freed up, 2T should hold the torrents and future downloads, D: could be freed up for who knows what (C: has scads of space too).  F: now will comfortably hold the backup that was filling E: up.

The real painful process though was getting uTorrent to point at the new folder. I copied the CompletedDLs folder in the File explorer, and changed the directories in the preferences, but to get the torrents to point to the new location was painful (one thing that helped was renaming the original directory on the D: drive, because uTorrent then defaulted to the new folder, saving a lot of hunting). Basically I would select a bunch of torrents, chose "Advanced>Set download location" and then say no when it asked to overwrite the existing file. However, about a dozen torrents didn't like having their download directory changed. It didn't seem to "Take" for the files inside them. The common factor was that they were torrents with directories inside them, ones where the torrent name and the directory name didn't necessarily match, and typically ones that had been altered by some torrent echoing service that likes to add little text files saying they were the source to them. Some were easier to fix than others, but some ended up needing the individual files set to the right location, which often would result in the files in the torrent getting names with a fully qualified path. I never could get them to look the way they did originally, which probably means the torrent's structure was mangled from the beginning.

Well, everything points in the right place now - running Force Re-check on everything is a good way to make sure. but some of them are still ugly.

Would it have been better to let uTorrent relocate the files, I don't know. It probably did help to not start anything new until everything had finished seeding.

Posted by: Mauser at 04:08 AM | No Comments | Add Comment
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January 12, 2014

I iz a Writer

I've been putting stories and serializing a novel on my DeviantArt page for a number of years now. But some friends of mine have had some pretty good luck joining the eBook revolution, and it was time I got on the bandwagon. Eventually the novel will be completed (although it's been taking a lot longer to complete than I thought it would), but to at least try to get the tool-chain working, I chose one of my more recent shorts, a novelette, technically, and ran it through the process.

Voodoo is probably a better term for it, since the single hardest thing to get right is the starting location, and even then, half of the viewing tools don't seem to honor it (Calibre doesn't, Amazon's online Kindle simulator doesn't, their PC reader does, and the Kindle itself does, IF it's set properly, but nobody seems to agree what properly is).

A lot of the process is centered around using Microsoft Word. I don't use Word, I use OpenOffice, and while it's mostly compatible, I think there must be a subtle difference in the bookmarking feature. So instead of trying to directly upload .docx format, I found a nice tool called Alkinea that can translate .odt into .ePub format. It can supposedly run the .ePub directly into KindleGen to get a .mobi file, but I can't make that work. Amazon can take either the .ePub or the .mobi format. Or hey, you can even try to use Calibre to go all the way to AZW3, the main Kindle format.

But in any case, you need to unzip the .ePub into its respective .xhtml files to make some edits, since the first file will be your front matter (copyright statement etc) and you want it to start at the second one, then zip it up again. PeaZip has an advantage over 7-Zip in that it has a context menu for opening any file as an archive, saving you from one extension change (but you need to change extensions on the way back, alas). PeaZip can also open .cab files, which isn't relevant here, but it saved me once for a driver install.

Amazon's uploader can take .docx, .ePub, and .mobi. But even though KindleGen takes the same .ePub that Amazon would convert into a .mobi, uploading the two files produces a different final product. .mobi seems to remain a little more faithful to one's intent.

The author of Alkinea has put out a new version in response to my issues, but I haven't gotten to try it yet.

And somewhere in the fighting I managed to let Calibre "Smarten" my quotes and turn my scene breaks from --- into a single em-dash, but since that file worked, I quit while I was ahead. So I don't exactly have a tool-chain per se, at least I can eventually get where I'm going.

Oh, I suppose I should put a link here. This is Kiwi on Amazon (For those outside the US, it should be the same ASIN with your local Amazon domain substituted). It's about a rather bigoted human who gets locked up with a female alien criminal. While the expected eventually happens, it does not work out well for either of them. In the week it's been up I've sold 6 copies. Woohoo! (And I had one jerk from the UK buy it, read it, and return it the next day. Apparently that's legal, and little can stop him from keeping a copy anyway.)

Posted by: Mauser at 10:01 PM | No Comments | Add Comment
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