Thoughts, Words, Works

Asobi ni Iku yo! Abridged, Part 2 @

Slightly cleaned up official image from the Asobi ni Iku yo! website

Now that I've finished watching Asobi ni Iku yo!, I figured I may as well continue in a previous vein and summarize what made the show amazing for those who've got too-good taste to actually slog through the whole thing. Overall, Asobi ni Iku yo! was a pretty fun watch: it never made me mad, nor bored, nor upset, and it did make me laugh. The second half wasn't quite as hilarious as the first, but the show found its rhythm and balance between action and fanservice, and managed some trite but successful character development on a few characters, while further fleshing out its improbably-convenient setting. The only real disappointment about the second half was the general lack of Uncle Yuuichi. Warning: the rest of this article contains major spoilers for episodes 6-12 of the show!

→ Read the whole thing


Missing Cycles - 4 @

Missing Cycles starts here.

Axalis really wanted to pop the memory chip into his wrist socket and see what it contained, but he had no idea where it came from, so that would be a great way to get a backdoor inserted in his cymanager, or worse. Instead, he pocketed it and started walking.

The streets were busy today, like they were every day. Axalis kept to the slow side of the pavement, while to the side of him various autocars hurled by at breakneck speeds, and above him the jetpod channels were themselves growing congested with traffic. Everyone was in a hurry to get somewhere. Axalis himself strode purposefully, though he had no destination in mind, and finally, spotting an shady-enough-looking establishment that he'd never before patronized, ducked behind a heavyset man wearing a thick coat into a black-light-illuminated... café, apparently.

Giving up on his earlier determination to start boozing at this hour, Axalis decided to kickstart his critical thinking with the strongest coffee this place offered, and found a seat near the darkest corner of the building to sort things out. He declined the server's offer to drop reflective sugar flecks into his drink, and, barely even sipping at the bitter black concoction, set to work on deciphering his situation the way he knew best.

First, he dug into his bottommost inside pocket and withdrew a handheld PC. This was an unpopular model, designed for the declining majority of people who didn't have a cymanager and some sort of network access incorporated into their person through implants. This handheld only had enough power to perform the lowest common denominator of tasks -- making calls, locating people and places, ordering groceries, and playing primitive games -- and it was poorly-designed enough that even these tasks were a chore for most people. This clunkiness, while it had done very little for sales of the model, served a purpose for Axalis, which is that it made this model an unlikely target for carpet-bombing hackers. Its designated functions were of little impact anyway, and he had loaded the little device with programs of his own design. He used it as a sandbox and a dummy for interacting with unsavory people and unchecked software. To that end, the model had one feature that was ideal: its battery was very easy to remove and put back in.

Axalis fished around in his pocket until he found the miniscule chip, and clicked it into the memory socket on the handheld PC. He was lucky it was one of the mainstream formats that this handheld supported; then again, if it had been his in the first place as Gladerice had suggested, that was by design, not luck.

Nothing happened visibly on the handheld when he inserted the chip, which was a good sign; he ran a quick analysis using a tool he'd written for this handheld, and it failed to detect any autorunning code or illegally-formatted data blocks that might be used to buffer-overflow his cymanager. He would have Baskerville inspect it thoroughly later, just in case, but for now he was satisfied. The only thing that seemed to be on the chip was a simple video, using only a tiny fraction of the memory chip's capacity. It was in a format designed for playback in ocular implants, so finally he plunged the chip into his wrist socket.

Axalis took another sip of the decidedly spine-tingling coffee as his cymanager picked up the video. Resting an elbow on the table, he covered his organic left eye as, in his other one, playback began.

Continued in Missing Cycles - 5...


Anatomy of My Computer @

screenshot of my desktop

I'm home sick from work today, in case you're wondering why this post is happening so early. Actually, I only woke up about an hour ago. Friggin' colds. But that's not what I'm here to talk to you about. I'm here to tell you about my computer. See, the thing is, over the years I've developed a somewhat unusual setup for my computer, and I noticed that when other people sit down at my computer, they tend to be totally lost. Where's the start menu? Where are the icons? How do I get to internet? The truth is, I'm a little bit of a minimalist, especially when it comes to computer interfaces. My setup makes perfect sense to me and is very efficient, but without knowing the principles behind it, it's far from intuitive. So I thought I'd explain how to use my computer, not because I want to make it easier for other people to use, but because I thought some people might be interested in seeing how others interface with a computer, and might get some ideas for things to try out themselves. Similarly, if you have any cool tricks you want to share, please add them in the comments!

Additionally, I would be lying if I said I weren't proud of all the work I put into the computer and how it works.

→ Read the whole thing


Missing Cycles - 3 @

Missing Cycles starts here.

The Black Spot Port was an establishment with two categories of clientele: the kind who dressed up in motley arrays of jackets, breeches, and silk layers, and made lots of noise and hubbub; and those who wore nondescript gray and black getups, and receded into the noise of the former crowd as if it were a shroud around them and their dealings. It goes without saying that Axalis was normally one of the latter group. But tonight was different.

The audio system of the Port was booming some sort of heavily sliced and re-textured sea shanty when Axalis ducked through the door. He scooted past a fake palm and scraped beyond some cacophony of dreadlocks and bangles that Axalis could only assume had a person beneath. He forced his way to the bar, where a bonnie wench whose busom looked fit to burst from its corset offered mixes of rum and worse. Axalis knew this girl, who went by the name Gladerice, though he had no reason to believe the familiarity was mutual.

"A Dandy Jack," he ordered, "with Elizabeth's Charm." The former was the Black Spot Port's signature drink. The latter was code for a certain additive which the establishment had no license to serve, although its availability was widely known.

But Gladerice looked at him with a dawning shock that culminated in the discrete declaration of, "You!" and left no doubt that no Dandy Jack would be had by Axalis this night, let alone any of Elizabeth's Charm.


"How can you be back again after last night?"

If Axalis had been on alert before, he was now quickly ascending to panic. "I- Why not? It was all, a, uh, misunderstanding."

She glared at him with a look that told him she didn't want to play games. Axalis only hoped she would go along with this one long enough for him to figure out what had happened to him. "The police don't let people off so fast, misunderstanding or not," she hissed.

This was bad. The police? Why didn't he have any recollection of such a run-in? Never in his life had Axalis been so wasted that he would forget being involved with the police.

"Look. Um. Sorry," he said, and left a few coins on the counter without taking anything.

"Wait," the voice of Gladerice sliced through the booming sound of bass and piccolo. "You left this here last night. We don't want anything to do with it." She handed over a memory chip the size of a fingernail.

"Thanks," Axalis said, and left.

Continued in Missing Cycles - 4...


Review: Ookami-san to Shichinin no Nakamatachi @

Ookami-san and several of her 8 companions.

I was thinking of reposting some old reviews that I had written back on Anime Remix some time ago, but in the end I decided to write a new review, for something a little more recent and a little less exceptional: Ookami-san and 7 Companions (or just Okamisan as Funimation calls it), a 12-episode series that just finished airing. Following on the heels of Toaru Kagaku no Railgun, Ookami-san is yet another J.C. Staff adaptation of a light-novel series, like Railgun's predecessor Toaru Majutsu no Index as well as the ToraDora! and Shakugan no Shana franchises.

→ Read the whole thing


Missing Cycles - 2 @

Also see Missing Cycles part 1.

This wasn't new to Axalis. More than once in the past he had, in some stupor or other, decided to change his password and forgotten entirely what he changed it to. Normally he would at least remember the fact that he had changed it, not that it mattered much. The solution was the same. Axalis carefully unplugged the transceiver card from his rig. On normal devices, the transceiver would be a tiny circuit built into the device's frame, but for Axalis's rig, he had an entire card module to hold it, specifically so that he could unplug it and run in offline mode. Nothing else was secure enough. Axalis input a series of keystrokes that took him to his secret back-door, culminating in a 14-character secret code he had memorized long ago. His screen sprung to life and logged him in.

After changing his password back to a new value, Axalis plugged the transceiver card back into his computer and began picking up where he had left off. His current job was to investigate a certain politician for signs of anything shady: connections to the underworld, infidelity or sexual deviance, drug history. It was election season, and certain parties would rather not see him return to office, so they paid Axalis to find or create the evidence that would start a scandal. It was all very usual.

It was then that a certain file folder caught his attention. He didn't remember having a folder with his birth name on it. He opened it and started poking through. There were histories and records of his own activities. A copy of his birth registration. An employment history ending abruptly at age 19. There was more. Chat logs linking his birth name to his screenname, chats betwee his account and to his associates in the network. News articles on big jobs that had been associated with his identity. It was as if someone had been investigating Axalis from his own rig, and he didn't remember doing any of it.

Axalis's paranoia began to set in. If his computer had been keylogged, then it was possible that at this very moment, someone was receiving a package containing his personal secret code, the same one used as an emergency backup on all his devices. Sure, running offline as he had done was a decent countermeasure, but only if they weren't caching the data until it went back online. His self-inspection Sniffer, Baskerville, wasn't reporting anything abnormal with either the network activity on his rig or its own identity hash. That wasn't a guarantee that everything was safe, but it was probably a good sign.

As a precautionary measure, Axalis fired up Baskerville's predecessor, Hardy, and set it to work in parallel. Baskerville wouldn't be pleased by the intrusion, but Axalis figured it was better to be a little oversensitive about security right now. Meanwhile he began looking through the documents in the folder about him. Could he have been investigating himself? It seemed strange to forget about it if he had. There was one particular file that stood out to him, labeled Notes, and with almost no contents. It simply had a single address written in it. It was the address of a place Axalis had used many times, as an anonymous meeting spot.

Fueled by curiosity and against his own self-preservation instincts, Axalis decided to head to the Black Spot Port and see for himself. He left his rig in Crawling mode with the caution level set higher than usual, and grabbed his coat. If he was lucky, he was freaking out over nothing, and a quick jolt of the good stuff would clear up his problems entirely. Axalis sure hoped that was the case.

Continued in Missing Cycles - 3...