27 October 2011

Going Wiki

The people this mostly concerns will likely have already heard about this via Wave or Facebook, but I'll write a blog post too, since it's a not an un-trivial update to my website.

For well over a year now I've been running a fantasy RPG set in a world I made up, called Va'ita. The world itself was in development for several months before the game begun, and I wrote a fair amount of background material which I put up on my website.

The thing is, except for a small content update not too long ago (I blogged about it), I haven't really expanded this background material at all. 'Cause, you know, I'm lazy, and stuff.

On the other hand, we've got some creative people in the gaming group who have in the past contributed many cool ideas concerning both their characters and the world itself.

So I started thinking, what if I'd turn the world's website into a wiki? This would have the benefit of allowing other potentially interested people to contribute material, and also make it easier and faster for me to edit and add material. Now, of course I'm not expecting a flood of cool material, but at least it has the potential of becoming a useful tool in the continued development of my world.

I installed MediaWiki on my host server this afternoon. This is probably the most widely used wiki software out there, best known from Wikipedia. Installation was pretty painless, and I have now more or less completed copying the material from the original website. This material is of course in dire need of editing and reorganising to make the most out of the wiki format. And then there are the many topics that should be written about. So many red links...

And the wiki itself can be found here.

26 October 2011

Another Post with Free Music In

Like instrumental post-rock? Like free music? Then read on...

Um, er, what is post-rock, you ask? I think I've mentioned listening to that sort of stuff earlier in my blog. Wikipedia says:
'Post-rock is a subgenre of rock music characterized by the influence and use of instruments commonly associated with rock, but using rhythms and "guitars as facilitators of timbre and textures" not traditionally found in rock. Post-rock musicians typically produce instrumental music.'
And later:
'Post-rock compositions often make use of repetition of musical motifs and subtle changes with an extremely wide range of dynamics. In some respects, this is similar to the music of Steve Reich, Philip Glass, and Brian Eno, pioneers of minimalism. Typically, post-rock pieces are lengthy and instrumental, containing repetitive build-ups of timbre, dynamics and texture.'

So, I've also mentioned the webcomic Questionable Content earlier. Well, guess what, its author, Jeph Jacques, is also a pretty good musician, and has released a bunch of tracks under the name Deathmøle, which actually originates from the comic, being a band made up of some of its protagonists. While he's released this material for free, finding it all seems to require a bit of detective work, since he's originally released them one track at a time. This post, however, contains links to zips of some of the albums.

Another band I discovered not too long ago is called Shadowcast Sun. I found it through a website called freemetalalbums.com, a site which may well contain many hidden gems. Their albums can be downloaded from their website.

Both these artists lean towards the heavier side of post-rock, and could probably be classed as post-metal. They have a nice, atmospheric sound, though, and I like to listen to them late at night, with lights dimmed.

17 October 2011

MaSu Concert Video - For Free

Want to see a not un-neat metal gig, totally free?

I've mentioned the band Machinae Supremacy before in my blog, for a couple of reasons. One is their video game influences and use of SID chip sounds in their music. The other is the fact that, in addition to several regular, commercial albums, they have several albums worth of material available for free download on their website. While of course the quality of such material might be a little more of a mixed bag than their commercial albums, it is still something I respect greatly.

This summer they played at Assembly (an event I also blogged about). Assembly TV wasn't able to broadcast the gig live at the time, but now, after some quality post production, MaSu has released the concert video for free, via Pirate Bay.

This is a high quality video, 80 minutes long. As they say in the release notes, 'sharing is caring'. I'm sure there are other bands that could learn something from this.

14 October 2011

The Passing of Two Computer Greats

Last week we heard of the passing of Steve Jobs.

Now, while the entire Internet was going crazy in praise of him, I must confess I had difficulty at first in relating to all that. You see, when I think of Apple, I think mostly of (overly) expensive hardware, restrictive and dysfunctional operating systems that make a mockery of their Unix roots, and DRM galore...

But of course it is not fair to judge Jobs by the Apple we know now. Jobs and Apple early on did have a profound impact on the modern state of home computing, and perhaps particularly on user interfaces.

With this in mind, I (as did probably almost every other webcomic author) did a little tribute strip for Escape from Lowresia.

Then, yesterday, I read of the passing of Dennis Ritchie.

This was not a name I would have instantly recognised, although I've probably run into it before (I've never been good at remembering names). But once I read the articles, I was more than a little impressed. This was the man credited with the creation of the programming language C, and one of the main original developers of the Unix operating system.

While I've never actually used C myself, it's impact on all modern coding and software is simply immense. You could perhaps go as far as calling it a sort of lingua franca of the programming world, since it has been, and still is, one of the most used languages around.

While the majority of the software I (and you) use is likely coded in C, Unix has perhaps had an even more direct impact for me personally. As some of you will know, for years already I've used variants of GNU/Linux, which is, of course, very much based on Unix, as my main operating system (with a brief interlude using Mac OS X, also a Unix-based system, albeit crippled by Apple). I couldn't imagine using another OS in the foreseeable future.

13 October 2011

There Are Zombies Outside, Dear Liza

It's less than a month till Halloween, so here's a little Halloween filk for you:

There are zombies outside, dear Liza, dear Liza
There are zombies outside, dear Liza, zombies

Well shoot them, dear Henry, dear Henry, dear Henry
Well shoot them, dear Henry, dear Henry, just shoot them

With what shall I shoot them, dear Liza, dear Liza?
With what shall I shoot them, dear Liza, with what?

With a shotgun, dear Henry, dear Henry, dear Henry
With a shotgun, dear Henry, dear Henry, with a shotgun

The shotgun is empty, dear Liza, dear Liza
The shotgun is empty, dear Liza, empty

Well load it, dear Henry, dear Henry, dear Henry
Well load it, dear Henry, dear Henry, just load it

With what shall I load it, dear Liza, dear Liza?
With what shall I load it, dear Liza, with what?

With shells, dear Henry, dear Henry, dear Henry
With shells, dear Henry, dear Henry, with shells.

Where are the shells, dear Liza, dear Liza?
Where are the shells, dear Liza, oh where?

In a box, dear Henry, dear Henry, dear Henry
In a box, dear Henry, dear Henry, in a box

Where is the box, dear Liza, dear Liza?
Where is the box, dear Liza, oh where?

In the shed, dear Henry, dear Henry, dear Henry
In the shed, dear Henry, dear Henry, in the shed

Where is the shed, dear Liza, dear Liza?
Where is the shed, dear Liza, oh where?

Outside, dear Henry, dear Henry, dear Henry
Outside, dear Henry, dear Henry, outside

There are zombies outside, dear Liza, dear Liza
There are zombies outside, dear Liza, zombies...

4 October 2011

Trine (and Bundles, Again)

Right on the heels of Braid, I played another cool indie platformer, Trine. Like the previous game, I got this as part of a Humble Indie Bundle. The latest bundle is still available as I write this, and if you pay enough (currently more than $4.66), you'll get Trine and other games as well as a bonus.

Although I was slightly wary of playing another platformer right after Braid, Trine proved to be lots of fun, and quite addictive. And a very different type of game altogether. I've once again written a brief review for my website.

This game alone would have been worth the few measly bucks I paid for the bundle, and there's still several others I haven't tried. Of course I would've gladly paid more if my financial situation was any better. It's for charity, after all. But this is how it should be, of course. Good games ought to be within anybody's reach, not just for the wealthy.