Headset crazinessSo people I play Xbox with have been telling me since I got my new xbox headset that I've been cutting in and out. I think it might actually be my internet connection that's not the best, but I was strolling around Best Buy with my brother today and decided to get a new headset. I was just gonna get the standard xbox cheap headset, but then I thought, maybe I'll look at these nicer ones. Maybe I'll try out a Turtle Beach or something, not like the $250 ones, but maybe a $50. I've heard good things.
So we're looking around the xbox aisle and I see a sign with a headset on it and a price of 9.99. There's also like a Gamer's Zone Club or whatever they call it logo. I thought, well, those can't be very good if they're only 9.99, and even if it's a discount you probably have to sign up for their club thing, and it'll never be worth it. So I turn to look at something else and see the exact headset pictured on the sign, this headset to be precise, only the price is 99.99.
So now I'm like, hold on, maybe it is worth it to join this club if that's what gets me a 90% discount on this headset. There's no details on the sign, it just says to ask a customer service person. So I flag down the first one I see and ask him if he can tell me about it. He looks at the sign and says, "It's a headset." And I'm like, "Yeah?" and look at him expectantly. He looks again and says, "It's $9.99." So finally I say, "Yeah, but over here it's 99.99. Do I have to like join this club to get the price or is it a misprint, or how does it work?"
He looks back and forth and then is like, "Let me get someone who works in games." He flags down a guy and says, "Do you know anything about the game department?" and the other guys says, "Yeah, I like to play games." So he tells him the situation and the guy is like, "I don't know. I think that must be a misprint." Then the first guy goes off to find someone who actually works in games and the second guy stands there for a moment before saying, "Yeah, that has to be a misprint. Because if that was the price, I'd get a pair too." Then he walks away.
The first guy shows up with the actual game dept. guy who looks at the sign (which according to the dates on it had been hanging there for a week), and is completely flabbergasted by it. Eventually he whispers under his breath, "That cannot be the right price," removes the sign and the two of them walk away without another word to my brother and I.
So I'm like, I guess that's it then. And my brother and I keep looking at other headsets and some used games. The first guy came back a couple of times to compare the sign to the actual product and then finally to take the product away as well, but he didn't say much to us. So we continued comparing the other headsets, trying to work out which combo of prices and features would be the best buy (ha, get it?).
After a few minutes the guy returns one final time and says, "Yeah, unfortunately, that sign was a misprint." I'm not at all surprised. I was just like, "Oh, ok, that's fine." Then he says, "Fortunately, we're required to honor it." And he walks me up to the front of the store where I purchase the $100 headset for $10 and change. While he's trying to type up the special circumstances into the computer a manager comes over and asks to see the sign and then she gets on the phone with someone, and I'm like, I don't want to have to join the club or pay more. So I pull out a $20 and pay for it and get out of the store as fast as possible.
So now I've got a cool new headset, and it's time to try it out!
PS. One last funny thing. My brother pointed out as we left that the poor guy who worked there couldn't spell at all. I wasn't about to complain, but I had noticed that he typed in things like, "miss print," "corpoirate," which he corrected to "corpoate" before getting someone to tell him how it was spelled, and "weekley." Usually bad spelling irritates the hell out of me, but I love this guy. So he can spell as badly as he likes.
Books are funny.So I'm rereading Michael Crichton's Congo for the first time in like forever, and this bit made me laugh. Keep in mind, this book was published in 1980 and set in 1979:
According to the new theory, the 1970s had been a decade of unprecedented growth in computers. Although the first computer manufacturers in the 1940s had predicted that four computers would do the computing work of the entire world for the foreseeable future, experts anticipated that by 1990 there would actually be one billion computers - most of them linked by communications networks to other computers. Such networks didn't exist and might even be theoretically impossible. (A 1975 study by the Hanover Institute concluded there was insufficient metal in the earth's crust to construct the necessary computer transmission lines.)
So congratulations, everyone! We've done the (theoretically) impossible, and that makes us mighty, I suppose. Too bad we had to use up the planet's crust, though. Oh well, it was nice while it lasted.
Also if you haven't read/voted in my previous journal, go do that. Part 3 is soon.
A Moment's Indecision Part 2Caine ran all out for the engine room, the sound of her boots on the deck plates echoing hugely in the empty corridors. On the way she came across one of the other hi-pods and slammed her hand against it as she passed. If she was very lucky, it might be enough to wake up the engineer occupying that pod and get them working as well. It was worth a shot, at any rate.
The closer she got to the rear of the ship, the more ominous the continued silence of the engines became. Casius was supposed to be alive with that hum, the ever-present pulsation of the power core, the heartbeat of the ship. Without it, the whole place felt dead, like the inside of a tomb. Which, of course, begged the uncomfortable question, if Casius was a tomb, what did that make Emily Caine?
A profound sense of relief washed over her as she barreled around the final bend and stopped to catch her breath just inside the engine room. The displays were all darkened, in stand-by mode, but the carnage she’d encountered in control hadn’t been repeated here. If someone was trying to kill them all, they seemed to be going at it kind of half-assed, but she certainly wasn’t about to complain.
As she brought up the various readings, she saw that the engines weren’t damaged; they’d just been shut down. Not shut down properly, though, which meant a lengthy startup procedure as she recalibrated many of the settings manually. Normally that was something the engine room computer system would have done in tandem with the main computer, but with every relay in control turned into a smoking pile of slag, it was going to take a little more time. Time…
Much to her own astonishment, she made it. Just as the ship had begun to skim the fringes of the outer atmosphere above PH2 b, the engines kicked back in. Casius roared to life and set itself into a stable orbit above the planet.
That done, Caine set off a complete engine test sequence. It was a very short-term measure as it would only last an hour or so, but at the very least it would prevent anyone from changing the ship’s course again the moment she left the room. The thought kept hanging there in the back of her mind. Someone, most likely someone on the crew, had caused all of this, and they could be anywhere. It was a problem that needed to be dealt with. Unfortunately, there was at least one other, more immediate problem. Test running, she pelted back the way she’d come, heading for the life support center. The fact that she was still breathing was a good sign, but it did seem to be getting a bit cold.
The life support center had a much simpler design than the comm room. It was a big empty box, and all along the walls, huge half-cylinders jutted out at regular intervals. These were the CO2 scrubbers and big thermostatic coils that kept the ship’s atmosphere and temperature regulated. For once the lack of noise wasn’t a bad sign, as this room was always supposed to be relatively quiet. The blinking red lights on every single cylinder, though, were another matter altogether.
The computer terminal here, identical to the one in the comm room, was just to the right as she entered the room, and she immediately folded down the keyboard and brought up the status screen. It was worse than she’d imagined. Everything was offline. Everything. She’d been living off of ambient oxygen since she’d come out of the hi-pod, and the heat within the ship was slowly leeching away into space. Fortunately there was a lot of open space in the ship, if she’d still been in a hibernation pod…
“Oh no,” she gasped, bringing up the readings for the hi-pods on the life support screen. Three of the pods were still occupied, but it was too late. It was much too late. There was no oxygen left in any of them, and there hadn’t been for almost an hour, practically since she’d left her own pod. No wonder she’d been so disoriented when she woke up. A few more minutes, and she’d never have woken at all.
There was another empty pod, though. Somewhere out there someone else was awake on the ship. She couldn’t tell who it was. They didn’t exactly have assigned pods. The idea was that on a 4-month trip like this one, there would always be at least 1 person out of hibernation to keep an eye on things. They could stay out for as little as a week or as long as a month, and some people liked it more than others. She knew guys who signed up for these things just to get paid to catch up on their reading or watch some vids or whatever on the trip out. Then there were people who just about lost it if they had to spend a week out here with no one to talk to. After a person was done with their stretch, they’d wake up the next engineer on the roster and usually just take their pod, although there were enough for everyone to have their own, just in case.
One problem at a time, however. Restarting the life support systems was easy. After all, they weren’t ever supposed to turn off. A few keystrokes and everything was going again. She could literally breathe easy for a bit. The ship was safe, and she wasn’t about to run out of air or freeze to death. Now all she needed to do was find the murderer onboard, (and whoever it was was a murder now, no mistake) and/or call for help. There was a flicker of static from the speakers, and it drew her attention back. Calling for help sounded like a great idea, but they were a ways out, and the comm system was still down. Her first instinct was to go on and repair it next, but now that the immediate dangers to the ship were taken care of, she was growing more and more concerned about whoever was still on board. She hadn’t run into them yet, which was a minor miracle. She needed to know who it was. More importantly, she needed something to defend herself with when it came to that, and it would. For the second time since she’d left her hibernation pod, Emily Caine faced a moment’s indecision.
Isolation weekendThere's a project that I've been writing on slowly for a really long time. I've always got ideas bumping around in my head, but I never seem to get anywhere. I've repeatedly heard from people here and elsewhere that if you're gonna write, it's helpful to eliminate distractions, like this site for instance. I can't count the number of times I've started working on something and then thought, hey, I'll just check my alerts real quick, and before I know it, the day is gone.
So I've decided to try and focus for the space of a long weekend. I've taken today and tomorrow off of work. I've got a few important things to get done today, not to mention a late-night showing of Iron Man 3 to go to, but after the movie, everything is going off. No internet (except wikipedia and google for research purposes). No books, TV, movies, video games, etc. Just writing. Maybe I won't be able to do it. Maybe I'll be more productive than ever before in my life. It'll be interesting to find out one way or another. So I'm gonna give it a go. To give you a little something to do during my absence, I'll be posting part two of A Moment's Indecision, my choose the adventure story, this afternoon. It's been done for a bit, but I keep forgetting to post it. So this seemed like the perfect time.
And to my admin buddies out there, keep an eye on the TV forum this weekend, will ya? Particularly the My Little Pony thread. That place is a wretched hive of scum and villainy if ever there was one. Feel free to thread ban people for going off topic or looking at you funny or breathing loudly or whatever. It's the only way they'll learn.
So wish me luck folks. Maybe I can actually accomplish something this weekend. That would be a hell of a thing.
A Moment's Indecision Part 1Emily Caine woke up slowly, hesitantly, as if she were not at all certain that awake was where she wanted to be. Head lolling, eyelids flickering, but when she moved to stretch her arms, a bolt of primal claustrophobic fear blew straight through her entire body. Trapped. She was trapped.
The panic adrenaline hit her like a shot to the heart. Her sleepy brain snapped into sharp focus and she found herself pounding on the transparent surface in front of her. "Not trapped."¯ She said, forcing herself to calm down and locating the switch near her left foot. She kicked it, probably a little harder than she needed to, and the hatch glided open in a quick, fluid motion.
"Not a coffin."¯ Caine reassured herself as she stepped out onto the deck. "Hibernation pod."¯ The hi-pod closed silently behind her. Hibernation could be disorienting. It took your system a bit to snap back from being slowed down so that a night's sleep could stretch out to a month, but it was infinitely safer than cryo. You let someone freeze you into a human popsicle, and you never really knew if you'd wake up again. If something went wrong you might stay frozen right through the end of the universe. Hibernation, on the other hand, was really no deeper than a nap, even if it could last for weeks. That meant the crew would be quick to wake up again if there was a problem, some sort of ... emergency.
Then she heard it, the distant sound of alarms, coming from the direction of the control center. She was off running without a second thought. The alarms quickly got louder as she approached. It didn't make any sense. If there was a problem severe enough to set off the alerts, there should be sirens coming out of the PA systems all across the ship.
That problem was almost immediately back-burnered, though, as she rounded a corner and slid to a halt in the entrance to the control center. Through the thin pall of electric smoke that still hung in the air and the flashing emergency lights, she could see that the room had been systematically destroyed. Someone had taken a long bar of e-steel and smashed everything that was even remotely smashable. She could tell because the bar had been left behind, jutting out of the main computer screen. She knew at a glance that there was nothing left that she could use.
Casius, one of the advance ships for Assurance Enterprises, was designed so that every system routed directly through the control center, but there were independent backups at major system junctures throughout the ship.
This was Caine's first contract for Assurance, but each of the crew of five engineers knew the system architecture by heart. You couldn't risk anything less when you were so far out. The nearest backup interface was in the communications hub, just off the control center. So she headed that way.
As she entered, the first thing she noticed was that the constant hum that the room usually generated was absent, which she thought was probably a very bad sign. The room itself was a maze of bulky objects, closed-in, hyper-cooled processors for the internal and external communication systems as well as lines that fed into the huge comm array that was mounted on the ship's hull just on the other side of the bulkhead. It wasn't really a people-friendly sort of place. Everything was automated and any manual input was supposed to happen in the control center. Still, the back wall had a computer interface mainly intended for the convenience of anyone needing to perform maintenance in the comm hub.
She folded down the keyboard and quickly called for a major systems diagnostic, an order to query the primary systems across the ship and make sure they were functioning correctly.
It took a moment as signals had to be routed around the damaged computers in the control center, which were supposed to be the hub for the flow of information ship-wide. So of course that was the first problem that came up on the diagnostic. Things got progressively worse after that.
Communications were offline, but she'd guessed that much as soon as she'd entered the room. That was why the PA system wasn't working and the alarms had been confined to the control center, which meant that the rest of the crew was probably still asleep, well, everyone except for whoever had taken an improvised bat to the control room.
The engines were also offline, which could be very bad, depending on exactly where they were. Navigation was still online, so she shifted the diagnostic screen to the side and brought up the nav data. She was rather surprised to discover that they were orbiting a planet, PH2 b according to the computer, uncharted. The bigger issue, though, was that, according to the nav system, their orbit was unstable. With the engines offline, Casius didn't have very long before they were going to fall right out of orbit, and that would make "very bad"¯ seem like a picnic.
She was about to head for the engine room when she glanced over in time to see the diagnostic spit out one final problem. Life support was malfunctioning. She couldn't tell to what degree without a further diagnostic, which she didn't have time for, but her mind flashed back to the smoke in the control center. It hadn't occurred to her at the time, but if there was smoke hanging around in there, it meant the air recyclers in that part of the ship were already down. Worst case scenario, the entire system could be down, and she was already living off of whatever oxygen was left over in the ship when it had failed.
Ideally, she would wake the others and split up the problems, but the hi-pods were spread around the ship, which must have seemed like a good idea to someone at some point, even if it seemed monumentally stupid just now. There wasn't time to wake anybody up and explain, even ignoring the fact that someone on the ship had to be responsible for what was happening.
Just about readySo the vote in that journal for what genre the story should be in was tied for a long while, and I was trying to decide whether to take my own vote away or make it count double to resolve the tie when someone went and did it for me, finally. So I'm working on the first part of my sci-fi choose the adventure story now. So be prepared. When the time time comes I'm going to do voting the same way I do it for Fantasy Fights. No polls, you'll actually have to post your vote. Just so I can get an idea of who is reading. It might make a difference.
And on a completely different topic, if you've been on the fence about buying the RvB 10-season bluray box set (because it's almost $200, and that's a lot), you might be interested to know that Amazon has it on sale today for $60. I am sorely tempted, but I'm not sure I can justify to myself spending even $60 when I already have the seasons on DVD. To anyone who already has it, do the bluray transfers of the older seasons look much different?
The play that never wasOk, first and foremost, if you haven't voted in the poll in yesterday's journal, please go and do that. Barring any extreme changes, though, it's looking clear which two are the front-runners. So I'm gonna start outlining the story ideas I had for those and keep an eye on it to make the final decision when the poll has been up another couple days. So go vote.
I can already tell that comprehensively outlining this thing is gonna be a bitch. I don't normally do outlines, I just write, but for a Choose the Adventure deal, it's pretty much a necessity. So because of that it may be a little bit before the story can actually begin. In the meantime, I've got something else that may interest some of you.
Almost a year ago, when Retcast hadn't put out a new episode in like a millennium, I got to thinking that the CBM folks needed something to tide us over until Retcast came back, and I remembered that long ago @Foolsfolly claimed to have written and subsequently destroyed a script for a Suddenly Heroes radio play (for anyone who doesn't know, Suddenly Heroes was a multi-writer superhero story featuring people from the site as characters, but it's not really important, just keep reading and you'll get it). He was a lying liar filled with lies, but still, here was an idea that might be very cool.
So I contacted @jedipoet and @MoreLikePuma fabulously popular Retcast guests and said, would you be interested in starring if I wrote a script for this? Then I wrote that shit. My idea wasn't for an ongoing series, but more of a single story arc (kind of like a single run when we were writing it), with a premise starting out like the original story did but quickly taking a different direction. All in all, maybe 5-10 episodes at most, 10-30 minutes long each. Just an interesting little project to try. If people hated it, well, we could still have fun, and if people loved it, we could reexamine whether to do more after it was over. Hell, I thought we might even get @Baraxis to put it up on the Retcast site, not like he was posting anything else (oh, sick burn).
So I wrote the script. Poet said he was in. Never heard anything back from Puma. Some time in there I also contacted @CapDac thinking of adding him in after the first episode. He was totally into the idea as well. We came close. Without Puma, who was to be sort of the star, though, the idea needed reworking, and when I began doing that, I came up with a completely different approach to the project that I liked more and came up with a terrific second draft. I even changed the character I was going to play from @ErokDragun to Data. Then Retcast came back, and SH really felt like it had probably been rehashed about as much as it needed to be. So I don't know if any form of that second concept will ever be made. In the meantime, though, I thought I'd treat you folks (the ones who are still reading, anyway) to a treat from the vast vaults filled with things I've written that never amounted to a damn thing, just to have something interesting to put up before the new story starts.
So here it is. Keep in mind that this is my first attempt ever at really writing anything in script format and the first draft. I love writing dialogue but the format of a script is a little fiddly for me. One of these days I'm going to write a script for something, and I'll have to find a partner to write it with, and he/she will get to do the actual formatting. So I have no idea if this came out any good or how long it would take to perform or anything like that. I guess yall will have to give me your opinions (though, of course, pasting it in here completely destroys a lot of the formatting):
Suddenly Heroes Act 1: The Arrival (OPEN)
PUMA [to himself] Oooowww, my head. Geeze, and my back. It feels like I was sleeping on rocks.
SOUND: SMALL ROCKS SHIFTING
PUMA [still to himself] Oh, rocks. I guess that would explain it, then. Ok, ok, let''s take stock here. I'm awake. That's a good start. Lots of pain, not as good, but at least we're getting somewhere, and I am ... on a roof. Well, let's admit it, it's not the first time I've gotten wasted and passed out on a roof. Maybe that says something about me. It also says something that I'm talking to myself, but one thing at a time. So I'm awake, and I'm on a roof ... on a roof with two other unconscious guys. Alright, that part is new. Wow, how drunk was I last night? Oh, no, we didn't ... no, I'm wearing pants. They're wearing pants. It seems really unlikely that we did that. So then, what? [long pause] Maybe I killed them. Maybe I got like really really drunk, lured two guys up here and killed them. You know, that possibility should probably be less comforting to me than it is. [louder now]Sir? Hey, Mr. ... uh, Fat Guy, are you alive? Please be alive. [to himself again]I'm not completely sure which side I'm pulling for just yet, but if he is alive. "Please be alive" has got to make for a better first impression than, "Please be dead."
POET [pained moan, then not 100% awake yet] What the heck, did you just poke me?
PUMA You're alive!
POET Am I? [he's getting it together now] I guess I am. Sure does't feel like it, though.
PUMA Whew, I thought I might have killed you.
POET What? Why? What did you do to me?
PUMA Me? Nothing. ... Well, probably nothing.
POET Probably nothing? What does that even mean? How do you probably do nothing to someone?
PUMA Weelll, I don't exactly remember. I think I must have had a lot to drink. What do you remember?
POET Oh, no. Oh, God. Why does my butt hurt?
PUMA Probably because you're sitting on pointy rocks.
SOUND: SMALL ROCKS SHIFTING AGAIN
POET OH! Ok, alright. Rocks. That's fair. That's fine. Where are we?
PUMA On a roof. That's about as far as I've gotten.
The peoples have spokenNot like many of the peoples, mind you, but *shrug*. So I'm gonna write a choose your own adventure journal story. Well, actually, choose your own adventure stories are generally, because the whole gimmick is putting yourself in the story making the choices, in second person. I don't much care for writing in second person. So it's entirely possible that it will be more like "choose their adventure." I think it will be possible to write a much better story that way, but you'll still get to vote and decide what decision the character(s) make. So it's more or less the same thing, I think.
In that spirit the first decision I give to you is what genre the story will be in. Because, why not let you guys choose? I've got ideas for each of these genres, some I've written in before, some would be completely new for me as well. So it should be interesting. Here are the choices. (In case anyone is unsure of the difference between A and C, in this context I'm using A to mean a story taking place in an imaginary fantasy world and C to mean a story with fantasy elements taking place in the modern world. Those aren't necessarily the only or even best explanations for how those terms are generally used, but that's how I'm using them here.)