Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Getting pummeled

I've been breaking my one-post-per-month rule lately, I suppose this is a way to make up for some of the lacking activity around here.

I finally threw my gamepad in the trash bin and installed DSFix + DSMFix, and made my way to the Undead Burg without too much trouble. And suddenly Dark Souls became incredibly good. Just for fun I made a new character and wasted the Asylum Demon on my first try (not yet on the first encounter, that will probably come later, and no black firebombs as a starting gift!). Currently trying to kill dark knights for gud lewt, but my parrying must have taken a dive. Did two in a row in the beginning, but suddenly I cannot do it anymore. Now that I know I should do light instead of heavy attacks after a successful parry.
Bottomline: Screw all of the people who say you must play with a gamepad, the game plays great with keyboard + mouse + fixes.

Playing the violin pretty much every day now until my neck hurts. Fortunately, all of my typing exercises at work keep my fingers and hands in shape so those parts are fine. I really do need to get a proper chinrest soon however, can't put a big wad of towely material on the violin forever. I'm almost able to play the first three Etüden from Wohlfahrt with good intonation all the way through again, the next step will be better bowing. It took just a few days to go from bowing all over the fingerboard (even when looking) to keeping the bow in the proper +-cm area. For 15 years, my 7 years of childhood playing was hiding deep down in my heart, and now I'm letting it blossom again. The big hurdle right now is to finally learn proper beautiful vibrato, which is the main reason my neck is clamping down on the violin like a vice. Ave Maria by Schubert...

Might start _the_ big origami project soon. Still thinking about whether to use one 1.5x1.5m^2 or two 2.0x1.0m^2 pieces. The big version would be magnificent, but I'm not sure if I would ever be able to forgive myself for the joint in the middle :p

I should order a Teensy and hack my HHKB, the warranty is over by now anyway. Would be great to have any flashed keyboard layout wherever I go with my HHKB. I read about an idea to use CTRL-tapping for ESC since I'm a vim:er, and that sounds incroyable. I should also finish my own keyboard layout optimizer, I have a scoring system which is rather different from most where Normal does very well, and I'd like to see what the optimal layout would be this way. The scoring is based on which would be the most comfortable key to press next, rather than which keys are most comfortable to press overall. The latter produces a lot of funny stretches and tension (Colemak...) which my scoring tries to eliminate.

Power is off in parts of the cave, cannot do much. So I did this. And thinking about what to topple on my todo-list.

Monday, 2 March 2015

Just getting out of jetlag...

So... Long delay was long.

Went to Japan. RIKEN, in Wako, Tokyo. Worked morning 'til evening almost every single day. A co-worker planned and I strung along for a single trip outside of Tokyo, to the bonsai village in Oomiya and a way too late sightseeing tour on foot of a few parts of Kawagoe. When I say "planned", I mean that after a few hours of walking around a diffuse area of a few square km we asked for directions in Japanese, and fortunately I knew just enough Japanese to pick out some keywords. The trip to the bonsai village took about 3x longer than expected, so it was pretty much dark when we arrived in Kawagoe.

I did go twice to Akihabara (of course), and tbh, that place is too nerdy for me. I know that sounds like a blatant lie -- I did enjoy trying all the amazing keyboards they make in Japan, and I bought two old SNES games in mint condition boxes for a friend of mine as a wedding gift -- but the other trip was much nicer... This was strictly business. I'm the producing kind of nerd, not the consuming kind.

And the food... Nostalgia and colors and delicate flavors and everything that is Japanese cuisine for me... The one thing I regret is that I didn't have enough of the shrimp snacks that I love so much. Another co-worker told me "these snacks were made for you, I can see it from the way you're eating them". And he's Japanese. I actually know _exatly_ how and where to put them into my mouth, infallibly, one after the other.

Calpis concentrate!

I also ordered a violin from a company in the UK while in Japan, a Romanian Gliga Gems 2. As mentioned in another post, I had picked up the violin back in my family home and enjoyed it so much I wanted to start playing again. The seller sent it to me immediately (after some nerdy requests from me, esp. that I wanted the original tailpiece and just a single fine-tuner on the E, like the professionals have it), but it took about 2 weeks until I had sorted out the payment, but now it's finally paid for. I'm practicing my vibrato at least every evening, together with intonation and some bowing that's become a bit shaky. I want to play so many songs now...

And the jetlag title. Well, ever since I came _to_ Japan, I've woken up at 4-5 o'clock in the morning. And this didn't stop until just yesterday. I've lived off of ~5h of sleep every night for over a month. I'm exhausted. For some other reasons as well, but, uh, not important (I know, you don't have to :p ). Anyhow, I've been practicing my vibrato some mornings at 6 o'clock as well, that was the point with this paragraph.

There's really a whole lot more to say about Japan even if I didn't go out much, but I think the best way to explain it is to force you to just go there. It's such a nice place. First day after I came back to Japan, I went into the GSI cantine and thought "open mind, fresh thoughts, let's enjoy German food!", read the first sign saying "Pommes Frites und Putenschnitzel" and then I turned around. Figuratively.

Pics because it all happened:

Fyi, Grim Fandango remastered.