Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Opinions on Diablo III

Blizzard's latest hit game Diablo III is quite interesting. The first act gives many nods to the original Diablo, from the events of the Fall of Tristram, to the characters involved - King Leoric and the Archbishop Lazarus - even to some of the monsters, such as the Butcher, which could be found in the original Diablo on labyrinth level 2. One of the earliest quests in the game has you saving Deckard Cain, yet again, from demons, in the catacombs underneath the Tristram Cathedral. No, he doesn't reprise his role as your item identifier, as the only items requiring identification are those of rare quality or higher, and you can identify items yourself for free, so long as you perform identification someplace where you won't be disturbed for five seconds. Town portals are the same. 

There's a new lineup of classes, of course, with the only one held over from Diablo II being the Barbarian. There's also the Monk from the original; all classes can be played as either male or female. Your stash, as opposed to being per-character, is now global (transferring items between characters is as simple as putting it in the stash, and then switching over.) So far, I've a Barbarian and a Demon Hunter (roughly equivalent to the Amazon in Diablo II.) Only one class (the Witch Doctor) has Mana; the other classes have class-specific energy reserves which are replenished or charged up in similar ways. At that, there's also no longer Mana Potions. 

Health potions have a cooldown rate - after using one, you're locked from using another for some 30 seconds or so. That's not always a problem, as many monsters drop health orbs, which instantly give you and your mercenary health as they are picked up. Also, health orbs and gold need not be clicked - simply run over either, and your character picks it up. (Imagine how useful that would have been in Diablo II, say, in the Forgotten Tower?) 

There's a few things to be disliked. One, you must register your CD-Key with you Battle.net account, making it pretty much impossible to give the game away afterwards. Two, there is NO offline mode. You must be constantly connected to the Internet to play at all. Adding friends is a two-way process, like on Facebook, and friends can hop into your games at any time - if you want to go solo, they can interrupt and there's not anything you can do about it, aside from leaving the game. The lack of an offline mode is real simple: It's meant to protect the Real Money Auction House, where in-game items can be bought and sold with *gasp*, you guessed it, real money!

The chat system is carried over from World of Warcraft, which isn't all that bad, aside from the help command for chat showing you some chat commands that only work in World of Warcraft. StarCraft II also uses the same chat system, but not as much of it (Diablo III literally has the same floating chatbox, scroll buttons, behaviours, and font as World of Warcraft. Brand identity, I guess.) You can add friends who play StarCraft II or World of Warcraft, and chat with them in-game from Diablo III.

That pretty much summarizes my thoughts. So here's some screenshots of the game, some of which were intended to be used to report bugs to Blizzard. Enjoy!
Note: Click on a screenshot to see it in larger detail.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Getting a Facebook Username

So I was asked recently how to get a Facebook username. A Facebook username is used for several things. First, it's part of your personalized Facebook URL; if your username is johndoe31, then your Facebook URL is http://www.facebook.com/johndoe31. Also, your Facebook username is also your Facebook email account name; as in this example, the email address would be johndoe31@facebook.com, and any mail sent to your Facebook email address shows up in your Facebook messages inbox.

So, let's get down to business.

First, click the downward pointing arrow on the right-hand side of the blue bar at the top of any Facebook page. It will drop down a menu. Select the "Account Settings" option under the menu:

In the General Account Settings page (which should be the first page loaded once you click Account Settings), click the "edit" link on the line for Username (click the image for a larger view):

Afterwards, enter your desired username into the "Username:" box. Please note that you only get to change it once afterwards. When done, click on the "Save Changes" button. Note that the button will be greyed out until you actually enter (or make a change) your username in the "Username:" box. This is to prevent you from losing your chance to change it later by accidentally clicking on Save Changes when you haven't made any changes yet. (Click the image for a larger view):

After that, you should be set! To try it out, go to http://facebook.com/username where username is the Facebook Username that you selected in your account settings.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Some musings for today

I'm sorry, no, censorship is censorship regardless if you're doing it to yourself amidst a "free society" because of "social norms" dictate that one should not speak of certain topics, or if some totalitarian regime is doing it for you forcibly. It's wrong and it needs to end. Period.

And no, there's no such thing as a truly free society. Such a society is a self-contradiction - for it would mean that one person would have to be free to slay anyone they choose, yet that would infringe upon the freedom of his or her victims to live. Not to mention the laws of physics themselves also limit freedom in other, more interesting ways.

It was recently published legalization and taxation of marijuana would save 13.7 billion dollars off of the national budget annually. Source.

Yes, I understand it's 0.1% of the total deficit. But it's about common sense (just do some research on what alcohol prohibition did for crime rates and society) and fiscal responsibility. The latter doesn't mean you have to go all gung-ho austerity, but at least find some lunatic fiscal policy and put and end to it!

Oh, consider how much you would save on the budgets of state, county, and local budgets as well. California has a $13 billion dollar deficit for 2012. The national savings in one year alone could put California back into the black with a few hundred million of breathing room on top of it to boot.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Bypassing Gmail's Executable Attachment Restriction

A few hours ago I tried to download a build of a program that was uploaded to uploaded.to, except that with the recent shutdown of MegaUpload, uploaded.to has ceased all dealings with anyone whose IP address originates in the United States of America.

So I had a friend overseas download the program and tried to send it to me, except for the fact that Gmail doesn't allow executable attachments, among others.

So, me and my buddy overseas cooked up an idea to bypass this. What if we just dropped the .exe extension and also used a simple XOR cipher to encrypt the data? Using a key of 0xFF, I came up with this program (after a few bug-fixing revisions, click for larger view):

The source is freely available on the text-snipplet site, Pastebin.com. View the source (updated 2012-01-27 01:32)

Monday, January 02, 2012


First off, Happy New Year 2012!

Secondly, Portmaster for FreeBSD is funny. Let me just demonstrate:

===>>> Proceed? y/n [y] yes
        ===>>> yes is not a valid response
===>>> Proceed? y/n [y]
I'm not sure if it's a bug or not, but it still makes me laugh. :)