Thoughts, Words, Works

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...


Review: So-Ra-No-Wo-To @

Kanata sits on stone steps in Seize

This comes very belated, since ソ・ラ・ノ・ヲ・ト, also known as Sora no Woto or Sound of the Skies, is a show I watched as it aired several seasons ago, but since I can't get it out of my head, I'm reviewing it now. 12 episodes long, Sora no Woto kicked off A-1 Pictures' "Anime no Chikara" project with TV Tokyo to create original anime. The show is widely dismissed as "Military K-ON!" and there are superficial similarities between the two, but at their heart the two series are worlds apart.

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Anime Review: Gekijouban Bungaku Shoujo @

Just an ordinary literature girl

(Whoops... typed this review up last night and forgot to post it. Don't mind!) I've been looking forward to Literature Girl The Movie since a friend pointed me at the OVA episode and short special that had been released a little while back. Technically, the movie was released earlier, but it only recently came to DVD and got translated; both are based on a series of light novels. It's made by Production I.G. and clocks in at just over an hour and 40 minutes including the end credits. (By the way, there's a little something after the credits, so don't stop there if you watch it.)

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Missing Cycles - 1 @

Axalis stood on the brink of disaster. In front of him, the concrete ended and the thick summer air stretched down forty stories before coming to an abrupt end at the street. Behind him, the echoes of footsteps resounded through the stairwell, signaling his incoming pursuers. "So it has come to this," he mumbled aloud.

Jordan Burk kicked open the door to the roof with the full force of resentment. He saw the hacker standing on the ledge top, raised his gun. "Give up, Axalis. You don't have to die for this. Turn yourself in."

Axalis took one look over his shoulder, his face a complete blank. If Jordan had been asked, he would have said it looked like the last emotions had been drained out of the man. The last look was merely an instinctual reaction to being spoken at. Then Axalis took one step beyond, and even before Jordan's reflexes fired his gun, the hacker had vanished from sight. The shot echoed into the dead summer's night as two more police finally reached the top of the stairs. Huffing, and puffing, Lt. Shande asked where Axalis had gone. Jordan didn't hear him.

* * *

Axalis did not dream well. He had once enjoyed dreams of falling, flying, soaring through the endless space of uninhabited air. But he awoke in a cold sweat this time, almost certain he had just faced his own dream-death. You were supposed to wake up before it happened, he thought... but what should happen is not always what does happen. Axalis felt the phantom pain of crushed limbs and a skull leaking his life-blood into the corrupted night.

The radio was blaring out a wake-up call to Axalis when he awoke. "Look around us," it said, "at the world we've made. Look at the achievements of industry. Look at the quibbles of politics. We've spent hundreds of years advancing technology to the point where our lives are meaningless. Our greatest advances and developments have left us with a life that is easier than we can handle. We go to incredible efforts to merely perpetuate our glut of free time--"

He shut it off. Axalis wasn't interested in some pseudo-religious rambling this early in the morning, especially when his head was throbbing like this. He must have had a hell of a night to be so hungover, he thought to himself. Yet, he could not remember a single detail about the night. Where he had been, and why... they were a mystery to him.

Without stopping for breakfast, Axalis fired up his hacking rig. It hummed to life with a familiar rumble, and Axalis punched in his password as usual. It didn't work. He entered the same password again, in case he had made a typo the first time. It still didn't work.

Continued in Missing Cycles - 2...


Reaching for the Stars @

Battlecruiser Hyperion of StarCraft II

Note: This post retreads some of the same thoughts as an earlier one in a slightly different light.

I've passingly mentioned that I'm currently playing StarCraft II. But I don't mean that in the same way I meant it when, for example, I said I was playing Metroid: Other M recently. No, I'm playing StarCraft II in a sense that perhaps more closely resembles if an athlete were playing football this fall, or a more intellectually-inclined individual might say he were playing chess. In other words, I'm not approaching it as a work to be completed, I'm approaching it as an activity to compete in and get better at. The distinction may seem academic, but there's a pretty different attitude involved and, to be honest, it's taken me by surprise that I'm interested in this sort of thing.

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You must purchase additional video cards @

I built my current computer, Trace, in November of last year (2009), which means that it's now a grand old age of 10 months old. This day, as I upgrade Trace's hardware for the first time, I feel somewhat nostalgic, and I'll take this opportunity to reflect and memorialize my last computer, Arcueid -- not even because of a special letter I received today from 5 years ago. Along the way, I'll talk about my experience migrating to Linux, the odyssey of driver support leading me to the eventual concenssion and purchase of a new nVidia GTX 460, and I may as well do like all the cool kids are doing and chat a bit about StarCraft II before it becomes passe.

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