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Monday, September 30, 2002

It's done then!

Finally! A great boulder has been lifted off my numb shoulders. I've sent the letter asking the dean to let me change faculties. There's no turning back now. Now I can only wait for an answer. I'm terrified.

| 9/30/2002 02:40:00 AM Reading blogs at work? Click to escape to a suitable site!

Thursday, September 26, 2002

Torture. Exams. Agony.

Prologue: I've slacked all semester. I cared about my lessons 0.1% of the time. Those occasional bursts of will to sample a little studying were either stunts, or me briefly in vague fear of an uncertain future. I'm on dangerous ground. I've been praying that somehow, someway, I'm going to make a great escape from this mess.

Today is a one-day break smack in the middle of the exam week, a much needed breather. I'm not doing well at all. I can't rely on my natural smarts this time. But I don't want to flunk every paper like I don't care; I want to keep some face as well. So I had last-resort, one-night-before revisions, which were so damn hard to carry through, getting sleepy and shit. Fortunately, I had sufficient intelligence to comprehend a good portion of one course worth six months in one day. Unfortunately, my NOT studying for the last six months was what paid off.

It's hard to describe what happened in the exam hall. Apart from being in the mood to mouth a profanity or two, I was most of the time in straightforward, just-do-all-I-can mode... a kind of an emotion limbo where frustration and dread dissipate... to make way completely for tackling the task at hand, however bad I was at doing it. I wasn't about to leave the papers half-empty; I don't wanna be that person. My papers could've been full of nonsense and fairy tales, but what the heck.

Epilogue: The week, and therefore the anguish, is not over yet. Can't hardly wait.

| 9/26/2002 08:12:00 AM Reading blogs at work? Click to escape to a suitable site!

Sunday, September 22, 2002

The weblog as yourself

I'm quoting Kottke who quoted Justin Hall about "why the Web is so engaging despite not being a face-to-face medium.

"Anyone who meets me online -- including possible friends, fellow Web design enthusiasts, or potential employers -- has access to 4+ years of my thoughts before they even have to strike up a conversation. That's damn powerful stuff."

Especially if one intends to make one's blog the closest online representation of one's mind. That's how I know one so well.

| 9/22/2002 10:08:00 PM Reading blogs at work? Click to escape to a suitable site!

Money matters

Since the day I got here, I've been keeping tabs on cash like crazy in a simple personal ledger. (A lesson was learnt during matric college when I easily ran out of it, counting student allowances from the government.) I ruminated long and hard before buying anything. I tried to make sure my RM50-at-a-time bank withdrawals were as seldom as possible. I did just fine, stressful as it was (I see it this way now).

After going through June and July I began to get tired of it. It was frustrating to religiously jot down my expenditures every single time, and at the end of every week my actual cash-in-hand would so not be in sync with the calculated balance. I was making life so hard for myself, yet when I look around everyone's spending on luxuries like CDs, candy and suppers. Torment!

On the fateful day I received this enlightenment, I thought ledger kiss my ass goodbye because I'm in university, and it's like the twilight of my youth and I should enjoy it while I still. If not now, when else? Fuck being wise and cautious.

So till this day I freely fork out a little cash for things like 1-2 ice-creams (the more expensive kinds) a week, for instance. Yum, expensive ice-cream. Not that I've gone reckless; good habits die hard. I'm just allowing myself for the occasional indulgences. Good for me, yes? Just need to keep it smooth. RM10-20 for video or game CDs, RM6 for TONE magazine, and RM4 for laundrying every month. That's RM30 tops for the regular luxuries monthly. Heh, life's a breeze.

Of course, personally I need to allocate a sum for episodes of carelessness. Like when I picked up my exam slip several weeks late, RM15 penalty charge. Shit.

| 9/22/2002 09:56:00 PM Reading blogs at work? Click to escape to a suitable site!

Thursday, September 19, 2002

Prime time on Trabaca.com...

According to his blog Bart finally confessed his gayness to his parents... and you just have to read about what happened all week, starting here. I can relate to what he's been taking in and I feel his pain. No, not about being gay. I mean about his parents. I have to agree that a serious parental lecture, let alone a two-hour-long one, is the most agonizing experience (apart from giving birth maybe) you could go through in your whole life. Of course the subject of my parents' lectures is totally different from Bart's, heh. The cool thing about this guy is that he apparently manages to keep his wit and humor intact throughout the... parental gauntlet he seems to suffer all week.

It's one of those rare blogs where you can't wait to read what happens next. This is a must-read!

| 9/19/2002 01:08:00 AM Reading blogs at work? Click to escape to a suitable site!

Wednesday, September 11, 2002

Lets do this for world peace!

Masturbate for Peace: Using Masturbation to End War.

Read the petitions. They're priceless. (via wannabe)

| 9/11/2002 09:26:00 PM Reading blogs at work? Click to escape to a suitable site!

Thursday, September 05, 2002

Emperor: Battle for Dune

I recall the three faces of the Westwood real time strategy over the years: 2D (Red Alert; Dune 2000), pseudo-3D (Red Alert 2; Tiberian Sun) and the newborn full-3D Emperor: Battle for Dune. I'm sure Emperor is not the first ever fully 3D RTS game, but I know it's Westwood's first. (And how fitting; I believe Westwood's Dune II was the world's very first RTS game.) Emperor is the fourth installment of Westwood's Dune series, which is based on Frank Herbert's sci-fi classic. (I've never read a single Dune novel and I've no clue where to start, therefore I probably never will.)

It's pretty easy to tell if an RTS game is Westwood's. (This encompasses the successful Command & Conquer series as well as the Dune series..) There's always the Construction Yard, a fantastical engineering feat of a building from which all other structures are built before they are placed. There's almost always a map in the beginning of a mission from which you choose a territory to attack. And there are always live motion cutscenes and the bad acting that comes along with them.

Gameplay is fairly simple; using the same Westwood formula that makes all their RTS games play the same familiar way. The difference is of course the 3D-realism that yields certain gameplay aspects unavailable in most RTS games; for example, structures can be built facing in any of four directions, and units can't fire over or through structures and other obstacles.

The controls are pretty sparse, even for a modern Westwood game. (I say Red Alert 2 has the best so far.) It helps to know the shortcuts, and the silly thing is that they're not even documented. So here I am to the rescue:

T — Select all units on the screen of the same type as the one selected. Hit 'T' twice to select all units of the same type on the map.
P — Select all armed units on the screen. Hit 'P' twice to select all armed units on the map.
S — Stop.
X — Scatter.
D — Deploy.
G — Guard mode. Units on guard actively pursue nearby enemy units.
R — Retreat to the Construction Yard.
Q, W, E — Infantry, vehicle and structure production tabs respectively.
K, L — Repair and sell modes respectively.
Ctrl+click — Force attack.
Alt+click — Force move.
Left+right drag — Rotates the camera. It's what being 3D is all about, baby.

There's a button on the control panel that issues a '"retreat all units" command. Don't worry if you accidentally click on it; an "Are you sure?" message will present itself. After pressing "No" you'll find that you'll never use this command...ever.

You play for one of the three Houses vying to conquer the planet Arrakis aka Dune: goody-two-shoes Atreides whose aresenal includes the Sonic Tank which supposedly "kills painlessly" and the Hawk Strike which does not harm but only "scares" units off the map; the evil Harkonnen which uses a superanti-infantry Buzzsaw vehicle plus lots of flame and nuclear weapons; and the devious Ordos who rely on hit-and-run tactics and making enemy units attack each other. Along the way you can choose to ally with some subhouses including the stealthy Fremen, the ruthless Sardukar and the hi-tech Ix.

In past games such as Red Alert and Dune 2000 you may remember maps being presented before a mission from which you select a territory to attack, which was really just choosing a variation of the same mission. Well, perhaps realizing the otiose excess that it was, Emperor incorporates a beefed up version of that map thing and made it a truly significant part of the game. Working like some sort of board game, you choose from available adjacent territories, each spawning one in over a hundred missions with side objectives (the main one being conquering the selected territory, f'course). Here is where you also work on your alliances with the subhouses.

The campaigns are essentially parallel storylines that will eventually end the same way. Picking a House to command is your very first decision; from then on you will choose who and where to attack, which subhouse to ally with and whether a side objective is worth completing. There are surprises, like in the middle of the Harkonnen campaign when you have to choose between the two feuding sons of the Baron. Future cutscenes even suit to the choice you make. Basically you're just spoilt with choices all thoughout the game. Depending on how you look at it, they're either great or pointless.

You might think that with hundreds of missions to play the game would take a long time to finish. Well, it depends on you. If you want to get it over with quickly, then pick one opposing House and punch right through its territories towards the furthest one, which is where its headquarters is. From there you'll be off to attack the House's homeworld as well, and your final victory won't be far away. On individual missions, the secret is to scout for the enemy base early and then attack swiftly before it develops. My personal choice of helpful subhouse allies would be the Fremen and the Ix for their stealth units.

So was Emperor worth it? Hmm... four CDs for an above average game, versus either Blizzard's StarCraft or WarCraft III, which is one CD for something more robust and memorable.

| 9/05/2002 07:40:00 PM Reading blogs at work? Click to escape to a suitable site!

Wednesday, September 04, 2002

Am I boring you?

Yes, I do care. It's obvious that I'm getting all high with the games and the batch files and any other geeky stuff since I got my computer... and you, you are seeing my nerd side. I'm putting you off. You don't play games. You warm to batch files as you would to a handful of sand. Or you don't know computers. Then I wonder how are you reading this blog.

I just need you to know that I do think of you. (puke)

By the way, people are frequenting my place more, thanks to the said gadget. And I kinda like it. Who says I'm antisocial?

Song in head: Everlong, Foo Fighters.

| 9/04/2002 07:37:00 PM Reading blogs at work? Click to escape to a suitable site!