Thursday, April 30, 2009

PS3 vs PC

One of the things sponging up my regular blog writing time is my ongoing attempt to build a PlayStation 3 theme. While looking at the default cursors, I noticed that one was missing:

No hourglass! It was easy to notice since I believe the hourglass icon has burned itself onto my LCD screen at work.

On the other hand I had a nagging issue with my PlayStation 3 about a month ago that involved random lockups. I didn't get any hard drive errors and when the lockups always occurred when the system was loading something. These lockups always required a forced power-off.

The issue started happening while we were playing Army of Two and it then spread to other games. To be fair the copious amounts of pet hair in my house have me blowing the unit out on a fairly regular basis or the PS3 will become prone to heat lockups (an issue I also had with my PS2). I think between that and the fact that Army of Two would cause the system to crash and reboot when attempting to exit the game caused some file system issues (the lack of logging on the PS3 means the operator has to guess).

The issue (I think) is that the PS3 uses an encrypted, proprietary file system so there's no third party "chkdsk" or "scandisk" that can be run against the volume. The fact that there's no "first party" tools is an egregious oversight by Sony (who I'm sure isn't alone in this regard) since anything encrypted can be rather finicky. A minor corruption that would be barely noticeable on a regular old FAT partition could bring down an encrypted volume and then on top of that there are no tools available to bring it back!

I'd put off fixing this issue for about a week or two, but when we bought Resident Evil 5 I figured I'd better have the PlayStation 3 in perfect working order before we sunk a huge amount of time into our new game. I figured what would give me the best shot at clearing up the issue was to backup the data, format the drive, and restore the data while hoping that Sony backs the files up rather than imaging the partition (which would be easier and generally faster from a technical standpoint, but it would do nothing to clear the issue). At this point I entered into an aggravating adventure with the external hard drive I was going to use to back the data up onto.

Between demos, music, pictures, etc. my backup needed about 70GB worth of space. This was fine I figured as I had a 500GB hard drive. The first issue, which I knew about, is that Windows will only create up to 32GB FAT partitions. The reason for this is that FAT is horribly inefficient ('FAT32', FATs current incarnation, was originally designed to optimize space on 500MB to 2GB drives) so if one was to partition a 500GB drive using FAT a small 1,000 byte file file would probably still wind up eating up 32,000 bytes worth of space, not to mention the fact that the partition table itself would ring in at about 64MB (source). However, I didn't care about any of that. Even if the inefficiency of FAT meant that I'd only be able to use 60% of the space, that was still a good deal more than I needed.

With my Linux boot CD in hand, I booted up and formatted my monster drive FAT (which can take quite a bit of time) and then hooked it to the PS3. Nothing. Maybe it was a partitioning problem in Linux (the tools don't exactly give a lot of feedback)? I redid the partition. Nothing, the PlayStation 3 still didn't see the drive. I hooked it to a Windows system and it saw it fine (Windows won't make large FAT partitions, but it can use them, a most aggravating 'feature'). I then attempted (at around midnight) to make a smaller partition within Linux, but the OS showed me no love (making fractional FAT partitions in Linux isn't something I do every day, or ever).

Discouraged I dumped data off of the PS3 until I could cram the backup onto a 32GB partition, backed it up, formatted it and restored. Thankfully I was rewarded for my efforts by having a behaving PS3.

From what I've read (one uncorroborated forum post) the PS3 maxes out on readable partitions at around 500GB because the size of the partition table exceeds the PlayStation 3s drive management memory limits. I wanted to find out how far 'around' 500GB that was, but I haven't had time to sink into it.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Ramadan on Hitler's Birthday

This shows how little I pay attention: Earth Day is on Lenin's birthday? I learned this after my mom pointed me back to The People's Cube:
April 22 is known in Russia as Lenin's birthday and is traditionally celebrated by uncompensated shoveling of earth. The event is called the Communist Subbotnik, or the Sacrificial Earth Shoveling Day. On a Saturday around that day all workers, peasants, and toiling intelligentsia are supposed to donate to the Worker's State a day of free labor - either at workplace or on communal property - cleaning streets, digging earth in public parks and lawns, etc. It is a good educational experience for the proletarians, reinforcing in them true communist values - sacrifice through hard uncompensated labor, humility, and respect for authority of the Party's founder. It also provides a metaphysical experience wherein the proletarians can reach the state of spiritual enlightenment as motes of a vast collective. Vodka also helps.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Uncomfortable Movie

I finally caught Mike Judge's movie Idiocracy on cable toady. I think Derb put it best when he said that the movie had it's moments, but was flawed. I think that the chief flaw was trying to make a comedy out of such a uncomfortable subject (all of 'civilization' being made up of nothing but overbred idiots). It was bad enough that Comedy Central had a 'male enhancement' commercial that ran every break, making it difficult to determine when the movie was coming back on, but when they visited the idiot filled Congress (" The House of Representin' ") with their celebrity black president it got downright depressing.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Limited Military

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates goes to show how he got to keep his job under Obama:
He also noted that there was no purely military solution to piracy in the region.
Oh I beg to differ. There certainly isn't any "deliver the pizza" style military mission that will work, but I'm sure a couple thousand daisy cutters would clear that supposedly pressing pirate issue right up.
As long as you've got this incredible number of poor people and the risks are relatively small, there's really no way in my view to control it unless you get something on land that begins to change the equation for these kids.
Daisy cutters go "on land" don't they?

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Newsflash: Obama Hates White People

Well, 'news' if you live under a rock:
While acknowledging that the recession makes the political battle more difficult, President Barack Obama plans to begin addressing America's immigration system this year, including looking for a path for illegal immigrants to become legal, a senior administration official said Wednesday.
In a completely unrelated story practically across from my place of work (in what should be a decent neighborhood):
The victim said he was in the rear parking lot of the restaurant, smoking, when a stranger wearing a black hat and bandanna over his face approached him from behind and put a gun to his head. The stranger forced the victim into the victim's vehicle and had him open the passenger door.

The victim emptied his pockets and handed over his cell phone. Then, a second stranger got into the car, demanding the victim take his car CD player out and give it to him. The first stranger hit the victim with the handle of the gun three times and yelled at him to hurry.

The strangers then told the victim to get out of the car and open his trunk. They took the speakers and amplifier out of the car, then got into another car that pulled up. When the victim looked at the car, the first stranger hit him in the chin.

The victim shoved back and ran around the restaurant, telling employees to call the police. He then ran back to his car in an attempt to follow the crooks, but realized he didn't have a cell phone to call police.

The males were described as two Hispanic men in their late teens to early 20s. The gun was black and had a long barrel.
As well, also COMPLETELY unrelated, did anyone hear that Chandra Levy was more than likely murdered by an illegal immigrant from El Salvador? I know, kinda hard to get fired up about a young liberal Jewish woman being done in by liberal Jewish policies, but still, where's our crack American reporters? Answer: busy being incompetent so that they can go out of business faster; "better dead than offend" as Mark Steyn says!

In other news Steve Sailer notes:
The city had coded the [firemen] test takers by race, and of the top 15 scorers, 14 were white and one was Latino. Since there were only 15 vacancies, it looked as though no blacks would be promoted.

After a racially charged debate that stretched over four hearings, the city's civil service board rejected the test scores five years ago and promoted no one.

"To have the city throw it out because you're white or because you're not African American is insulting," Ricci said when he and 19 other firefighters sued the city for racial discrimination.
Where was ol' Bailout Obama on the issue? As if you have to ask:
The Obama administration, taking its first stand on race and civil rights, sided with the city officials and said they were justified in dropping the test if it had "gross exclusionary effects on minorities."
Back of the bus for you whitey!

Monday, April 06, 2009

Gun Control Priorities

From WSJ:
Jiverly Wong, the gunman in Friday's rampage at a Binghamton, N.Y., immigrant education center, had a permit from California to carry weapons, a spokesman for the city of Binghamton said. It wasn't clear whether the gunman had obtained a permit in New York state, which would have been required for him to lawfully carry weapons in Binghamton, said John Feinblatt, the criminal justice coordinator for the New York City mayor's office.
Obviously this crazed gunman should have made a point of making sure his permits were in order before shooting up the place.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Video Game Cooperative

After teaming up with Kid Sandmich on Monsters, I've been on the prowl for two player co-op games. Co-op games as of late have become quite popular, despite the development challenges of coding for an AI partner for when a human co-op player is unavailable. If you've been wondering about the dearth of postings, look no further than the two reasons below:

Army of 2

This game features a cheesy meatfest plot that feels like it could have walked off the screen of an eighties action flick. The two players must first shoot lots of Muslims (including suicide bombers that accost the pair) and then (predictably) evil military contractors. I was waiting to be offended by PC sentiment through the game that would make up for their earlier transgressions, but I thought the story in particular was quite sympathetic to the regular military, contrasting it to the "do anything for a buck" private contractors within the game.

Artwork was fantastic and the gameplay nicely balanced between sniping and up close ammo fests. The only disappointing gameplay aspect was that although the game was easier when the two players actually cooperated it was nearly as effective to just run through the maps while laying on the trigger. The game also features some nice set pieces including an escape from a sinking aircraft carrier and a hurricane ravaged city.

As icing on the cake, there are also two additional free scenarios available for download which helps out what would otherwise be an overly brief experience.

Resident Evil 5

With a limited inventory it's up to the two players to cleanly split up the duties as they present themselves. This is simple enough in the beginning as most of the time both players have a whole lot of nothing with maybe a whole clip of ammo between the two. At about the halfway point it becomes more complicated and Kid Sandmich and myself found ourselves spending RPG-esque amounts of time balancing the inventory. Although misconfigured inventories could cause failures, needless deaths were most often the result of one or both of the players forgetting it was a team game and getting punished heavily for the oversight.

Most of this game is purely a matter of taste, but there's something for everyone. There's a nice story that relies on cannon but is easily accessible to those unfamiliar with the games (like myself) and a grimy art style that religiously recreates a generic West African hell-hole within intricate, involving maps. Gameplay includes everything from tense moments of running from chainsaw wielding maniacs to combating giant bosses with super weapons to (after beating the game) infinite ammo killfests. It's this lack of focus that most detractors hold against the game, but it's a rare feat to try and make a game all things to all people and succeed as well as this game does.