Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Monday, September 29, 2008
Sunday, September 28, 2008
Or, if you don't want to view full, here's just the achievement.
Yeah, you know you're an addict when even the game tells you so...
See the rest of “Now it's Official, I'm a Spore Addict”»
Saturday, September 27, 2008
Well, this is it. This is the last installment of the Cruise Ship Watch series for the year. The season ends Monday with the Millennium. I'll leave the series in the sidebar for a while.
This is the Serenade of the Seas. It was only in town twice this year; once in the beginning of the season and now, once at the end.
See the rest of “Cruise Ship Watch: Serenade of the Seas”»
My dad and I hiked up to Perseverance Lake yesterday (Sep. 25th), then on up to the top of Ward Mountain. The trail continues beyond where we stopped. It goes across Minerva Mountain, but the boardwalk ended at the top of Ward Mountain and got really mucky. Click an image to view full.
Here's Perseverance Lake. It's bigger than what you can see in the photo.
Here's a shot of the lake's shoreline.
This is what the trail's boardwalk looks like. Most of the trail is like this, through varying densities of trees.
Here's the view from the top of Ward Mountain. That's the old pulp mill you can see, it has been shut down for years.
Looking in a different direction, you can see Connel Lake (the big one), and just up and to the right of it you can see Talbot Lake.
Thursday, September 25, 2008
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Hmm... Chair tribe...
The game randomly downloads the creations of other players to populate your galaxy with. I just happened to find a tribe of sentient furniture. Can I facepalm yet?
That holographic image is of the main species I'm playing, they are modeled after the Vortigaunt from the Half-Life series.
See the rest of “Chair Tribe”»
This is what it's all been building up to. Think of the past 4 stages more as a way to shape your creature's appearance and philosophy. Now the actual game begins.
First off, you need to design your space ship. Just like the building creator before, there's pre-made or other user-made ships to choose from if you don't feel like making your own. You get a couple of tutorial missions, then you're released into the sandbox. Sandbox is a term that describes the type of gameplay; you're free to do what you want without being forced to follow a set story line.
Your first order of business will be to find a planet that produces either pink or purple spice. The idea of spice came directly from the book/movie Dune. I have never read the book or watched the movie, but it's easy enough to pick up the reference. The saying, "He who controls the Spice controls the universe" holds true in Spore, as well. To mine spice, you have to colonize a planet that has a terra-score of at least T1, this means it has at least somewhat of a biosphere. Your colony will generate whatever color of spice the planet produces. There are 6 spice colors: red, yellow, blue, green, pink and purple. In that order, red is the least valuable and purple is the most valuable. You'll be doing a lot of collecting and selling spice from here on out. This is how you make your money and enlarge your galactic empire.
You'll find that Drake's Equation was way off; life in the galaxy is much more common than expected. In fact, in the beginning to mid-game you'll find yourself getting smothered by other empires. There won't be enough star systems to go around. This is why I have found the aggressive approach sometimes works best. Start a war with a smaller empire, and be sure to capture their homeworld. Your own homeworld is quite useless. It uses a different scale for spice production than the rest of the galaxy, so it epicly fails at producing spice. Feel free to completely ignore and neglect your homeworld, it can't be taken over by enemies anyway. You can only place a maximum of 3 cities on a planet you colonize. A homeworld from another empire has more than 3 cities on it, and thus produces much more spice. Your first alien homeworld will be the most difficult to acquire. After that you'll be able to get enough money to afford better weapons for your ship.
Eventually you'll hear about the fabled Grox. You'll even get a mission to go find and meet the Grox. Don't! They are modeled after the Borg in Star Trek. They are extremely evil and powerful cybernetic life forms that inhabit the center of the galaxy... The entire center of the galaxy. They control over 1,000 star systems. Their ships are more powerful than any others you will encounter, except your own. However, there are many of them and only one of you. The good thing is, until you make contact with them, they will leave you alone. When you do decide to contact them, be prepared for the worst-case-scenario.
The ultimate goal is the reach the center of the galaxy, bringing you right through Grox space. I've made a run for it and made it, but it's not worth it. You'll get constant Grox attacks on your systems after.
"The spice extends life. The spice expands consciousness. The spice is vital to space travel."
Monday, September 22, 2008
Now your species has reigned supreme on your planet, and it's time to start a civilization. Build your very own city. However, not all of your species think alike, so different nations form.
Your first job is to design what your city hall will look like. Then you get a cute little cut scene involving pie, and you design what your land vehicles look like, and their properties. The 3 properties are health, attack power, and speed. As they are all percentages, if you increase one the others go down. That little point took me a bit to figure out.
You're still paying an RTS at this point. You have to defend your city, and take over all the other 9 cities through either religions, economic, or military means. This is what you use your vehicles for.
You also can design and place different types of buildings in your city; homes, factories, and entertainment. Their placement matters. Factories must be places adjacent to homes in order to make money. Entertainment must also be placed adjacent to homes to make the people happier. If entertainment and factory buildings are adjacent, it causes an unhappy effect. You want to keep your people happy, because they make more money and are less susceptible to being taken over religiously.
Global unification is required before you go on to the space phase. Perhaps that's why we don't have interstellar space travel yet?
Saturday, September 20, 2008
Friday, September 19, 2008
I had problems with the patch for Spore. My game was relatively bug-free until I put in the patch. The patch broke my game.
Basically, a bunch of stuff was invisible, sounds weren't playing, and then the game would crash. Good times.
I had to reinstall Spore, and this time I'm not doing the patch. I'm going to wait until they're sure it's fixed with another patch.
Thursday, September 18, 2008
So you've got a sentient species now. They build a hut. Now your “currency” is no longer DNA points, but food. And your species isn't the only one to become sentient, several other tribes of other species rise as well. The game has changed genres again, now it is an RTS. You control each member of your tribe separately.
I was least impressed with this stage. It was really confusing for me in regards to interacting with other tribes. Then, once I did figure it out I had my first problems with glitches and bugs. With one species, they'd all gather around to play their music, but they'd never actually play. I had to reboot my computer between each performance in order to get past that stage. You have one of two options with opposing tribes, play a musical performance for them twice to become allies, or attack and destroy their hut.
The tribal stage was also the least fun for me, even when it worked properly. More strategy goes into being hostile then befriending other tribes. Also, the other tribes never seem to interact with each other; just you. Overall, I am not too impressed with this stage at all. It's more of an obstacle for me to get through so I can continue having fun with my creatures later.
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
The second stage of the game begins when your little cell's brain grows a little, and he moves up onto land. You're dropped into the creature editor where you can change the look of your little creature in a 3D environment (up until now the game has been 2D). Then there's a little cut scene that shows your newly-created creature reaching the surface of the water and going onto land, calling the others of his kind to follow him.
The game has changed to an RPG type of game. Now you don't get DNA points and advance in the game just simply from eating. You still have to eat, though; there's a hunger indicator. You advance (and get DNA points) by either making friends with a neighboring nest of another species or eradicating them to extinction.
Just like the cell stage, you call for a mate to enter the editor (although now you have to be near your nest). Also, just like the cell stage, you're such an unimaginative intelligent designer that you have to find a part before you can add it to your creature. Unlike the cell stage, however, is that there's so many parts that it takes a long time to find the one you want. My first time through I was almost to the end of the creature phase before I found any new eyes; I was stuck with the ones from the cell stage for the longest time.
If you find any rouge creatures, be sure to befriend them. As your brain grows you can add other creatures to your pack and rouge creatures are bigger and stronger than their usual versions. They're great to bring in a raiding party.
Also, beware of Epic creatures. They're about the size of Godzilla and can't be befriended. They like to one-hit kill you with a stomp. And despite their size, they have a way of sneaking up on you. It is possible to defeat them in the creature phase, because there's an achievement for it. Yes, there's people that already have, too. But it's tough when it has 1,000 HP, you're at maybe 50 HP, and it can one-hit kill you.
After you've collected enough DNA points, your brain grows and you go on to the Tribal phase. Congratulations! Your creature has become sentient. You'll have one last time to do any finishing touches to your creature's appearance.
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Monday, September 15, 2008
Sunday, September 14, 2008
So I've been playing Spore, and pretty much neglecting everything else I usually do on a computer (you knew this would happen). I'll go over the game stage by stage, because of how the game is structured.
First is the cell stage. You chose your approximate location in the galaxy from the main menu, and select start new game. It's right here that you choose if you're going to be a carnivore or herbivore. Choose wisely, it has a large impact on everything to follow, right on up through the space phase. You also name your planet. You're treated to a little intro cut-scene that shows an asteroid whiz by your sun and crash into your planet. The asteroid breaks open in the water and you swim out, not much more than an amoeba with a flagella and mouth.
Your immediate mission is to eat 5 food particles, sort-of a tutorial on how to eat. After that, it's more of a hunt to find parts than it is a hunt for food. That's right... You don't evolve your own unique parts, you have to steal them from other cells or find them in asteroid bits, then you can add them to yourself. The creature phase is like that, too. It's like you're an extremely unimaginative intelligent designer, and you can't just think up new parts for your creatures; you have to copy ones that you find elsewhere.
So anyway, in my over-zealous quest for parts, I often take on cells larger than myself and surprisingly, I die the most in the cell stage. It's not even all that tough to get all the parts either, I just want them as soon as I can get them.
Also, you have a type of currency: DNA. You get more of this by eating food bits. However, food is so abundant in both plant and random meat chunks, that you never have to look far. You don't even need to kill anything as a carnivore because there's so many chunks already floating around.
You continue through the stage, calling for a mate any time you want to make a change to your creature. The mate is never very far, you call for one and they're right off screen; you just swim in their direction.
When you eat enough, you'll fill a little progress bar at the bottom and you'll be able to move on to the creature stage.
Saturday, September 13, 2008
Friday, September 12, 2008
Thursday, September 11, 2008
Here's a parody I found of the webcomic Ctr+Alt+Del. It seems lately, the actual comic has been heading in this direction anyway... The parody is a 9-part series entitled "The End". Click a comic to see the (slightly) larger original.
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
Today they will start to circulate the first particles through the Large Hadron Collider. However, the first collisions aren't scheduled until October 21st.
You might be wondering, what is a hadron anyway? A hadron is either a proton or a neutron; you know, the stuff atoms are made of. Its name could be taken the wrong way. It's not colliding over-sized hadrons, it's the collider itself that is large. It's the largest particle accelerator built to date, at 17 miles in circumference. It will accelerate those hadrons to near light speeds, traveling around that 17 mile circumference about 11,000 times a second. Then smash them into each other and see what the resulting debris is.
Why do this? Because the high energy levels involved might give some insight into what the first milliseconds of the universe were like. Hopefully, it will give some clues as to how and why properties like mass and gravity came to be. After-all, hadrons have a mass 100 times greater than the quarks that they are comprised of for reasons yet unknown. Truly, greater than the sum of their parts.
As I've said before, there's no chance of creating a black hole that will devour Earth. We've been bombarded with natural cosmic rays that have higher energy levels (moving at speeds even faster than those possible in the LHC). However, the natural occurrences are sparse and unpredictable, so they can't be properly observed with the right equipment. That's why we need the Large Hadron Collider.
EDIT: Oh, I just had to add this when I saw it. Take a look at Google's logo for today, it's the Large Hadron Collider:
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
We're coming down to the end of the cruise ships for the year. The 29th of this month marks the last ship of the year. There haven't been many new entries in this Cruise Ship Watch series lately because frankly, I already have most all of them.
Here's the Spirit of Columbia, it's another small ship owned by Cruise West. That's the Volendam in the background.
See the rest of “Cruise Ship Watch: Spirit of Columbia”»
Google Chrome has their logo that looks like a pokeball, I have my glowing green ball with an "M" across it. It all works out... I might make some banners and buttons later, but right now I don't have much need for them.
Monday, September 8, 2008
Sunday, September 7, 2008
A while back (May 13th) I went part of the way up Deer Mountain until the snow became prohibitive. I took some pictures that day along the way and shared them here. Yesterday (September 6th, 2008) my dad and I went to the top. So here's a few pictures from 3,001 feet of elevation here in Ketchikan, Alaska. Click an image to view full.
This is a true bird's-eye view of my home town; Ketchikan, Alaska. You can see the top of Deer Mountain from about everywhere in town, so you can see about the entire town from the top.
This is the view off to the left of the previous picture. This is South of town and the Alaska Native town of Saxman. Off in the distance you can barely make out Metlakatla if you view the full-size image.
This is the very top of Deer Mountain, with an official height of 3,001 feet above sea level.
Looking across the mountain ridge to other mountains. You can see, there's still some snow up here. I really like how the alpine looks up here.
This is down off the top of the mountain, right in the alpine you can see in the previous picture.
Saturday, September 6, 2008
Friday, September 5, 2008
How many times have you loaded a page and started to read it, only to have it jump around because the pictures are still loading? That won't happen here now. I have specified the size of each picture in every post. That way the browser knows the size of the picture on its first pass and will start out with a space that size for the image. So when the picture loads, the text won't jump around to make room for it.
It might be worth it to go back and re-look at some of the photos I've put here in the past. Now when you "click to view full" you'll actually get the full-sized image; usually 2560x1920 pixels if it's a photo I took. The picture to the right is a good example; it is fish swimming upstream, I took the picture on August 31st (of 2008). Before, I had to shrink the "full size" images down or else the Picasa hosting would do it for me. They'll shrink down any image with a dimension over 1600 pixels. Now that I have my own hosting, I can provide the true full-size. It took some time to re-find the originals of the photos and upload them, but it was worth it.
Just under half a gigabyte of pictures (461 MB) have been moved over to the host. With this slow internet connection I have, I was uploading at a rate of about 0.4 MB every minute. So that 461 MB represents over 19 hours (1,153 minutes) of uploading (yes, have pity on me). It was spread out over the past week and a half, but that's still a long time to spend uploading. And that doesn't include the time I spent re-touching-up the original pictures in a photo editor and re-writing the html code for each image.
Each picture now has its own unique ID I can link to. If I want to talk about any specific picture I've put here in the past, all I have to do is link to it like this, and the page will automatically scroll down to the image when it loads. In that example I linked to a view of Ketchikan from my little trek over on Gravina Island.
If you're subscribed to my webfeed, sorry if things have been jumping around out of order. Some readers organize entries by date edited rather than date created. It should calm down now that I'm done with updating the pictures.
Thursday, September 4, 2008
I'm a resident of Alaska, and I approve of This Message on Total Drek.
I was going to talk about what I think of Sarah Palin as Vice President after the shock wore off, but Drek beat me to it. Let me just do a quick rundown of the issues Drek outlined, rearranged according to my views of Pro and Con:
- Sarah Palin opposes same-sex marriage and would deny benefits to same-sex couples.
- Sarah Palin supports creationism in the classroom.
- Sarah Palin is anti-choice in virtually all cases, supporting abortion only when necessary for the health of the mother. She believes even rape victims must carry the child.
- Sarah Palin opposes sex education other than "abstinence only."
- Sarah Palin isn't sure she thinks Alaska should be part of the United States.
- And, might I add one to the list: Sarah Palin's complete lack of experience if McCain should die.
- Sarah Palin believes that global warming has nothing to do with human causes. Let me just say I somewhat agree with her on this one. We may be accelerating the warming process, but I think it's a natural cycle. So this is actually a "Pro" for me. This was a "Con" of Drek's.
- Sarah Palin supports drilling in ANWR. And so do I, so this is a "Pro" for me as well. This was a "Con" of Drek's.
- She is, by all accounts, female. We haven't had a female Vice President before.
- Would prove that even pageant runner-ups can be Vice President.
- Makes it apparent just how old John McCain really is
Overall, I agree with Drek and really don't want to see the McCain/Palin team in the White House. So I will be voting for Obama, and here's why:
Elections are won by men and women chiefly because most people vote against somebody rather than for somebody.
- Franklin P. Adams
That's right, mine will be more of a vote against McCain than for Obama. That quote can be found along with many others in my Quotes section.
See the rest of “Issues With Sarah Palin”»
Wednesday, September 3, 2008
[ ALERT! THIS IS A PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT. ]
It has been determined by an independent panel of scientists that infertility is unlikely to be inherited.
[ THIS HAS BEEN A PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT, BROUGHT TO YOU BY: Master Marf. ]
Tuesday, September 2, 2008
I've did away with the poll widget in the sidebar to make room for the new "Live Blog Activity" widget by Wowzio. I may do polls again later, we'll see. The polls were not as active as I would have hoped, so it was time for something new.
Here's the results from the poll before I removed it. "More posts about...": Me (the author) 2, Ketchikan Alaska 1, Random crap 3, and Other blogs 3. I I'll keep it in mind that random crap and other blogs ranked the highest. I was actually a little surprised that Ketchikan, Alaska didn't get more votes.
How did I find this widget? I was checking out some of the links in a recent Blogger Buster article about tutorials and sites for Blogger users. A few of the other links in the article were interesting as well.
It's going to be interesting to watch the widget. Sure, I use Google Analytics to track my traffic. I could already see locations and such of my visitors. But there's just something special about seeing the live hits. Oddly enough, among my most popular articles is More About Sea-Monkeys. If the screenshot I took of the widget is any indication, you'll be able to see the live data to back up that claim. Another popular one is Lots of Google Images.
Please, leave feedback about the widget in the comments if you wish.