I know I haven't posted here for a long time, and I'm really sorry about that. I haven't been doing much with Dreamwidth lately.
However, my life is about to be turned upside-down, and I have a huge request to make.
At some point in the near future (probably in just over a month or so [see edit at bottom of post for new dates]), I'm going to need to stay in or near Bristol for a while - I don't know how long. I can't really talk much about the reasons why, except that they involve a dear friend of mine who's having a lot of issues right now, and will need a lot of care.
The trouble is, I have nowhere to stay while I'm there. I do know another friend in Bristol, but I've already asked a lot from them recently and it wouldn't be fair to put this on them as well. (I also haven't talk to them for a long while as I haven't seen them online for ages. I should get back in touch.)
The upshot is that I'm going to need to be able to stay with somebody in about a month from now, for an indeterminate length of time. (I'm imagining a maximum of a few months, but the truth is I just don't know.) I know this is a huge thing to ask of anybody, but is there anybody who might be willing to take me in? The closer to Bristol, the better. (Ideally, located *in* the City of Bristol, but that's not an absolute requirement - anywhere within Greater Bristol would work. I might consider offers from further afield like Cardiff if I don't have any closer, though.)
I would be bringing my own car, so I wouldn't need lifts anywhere. I would probably be gone for several hours a day, but when I'm back I would be able to give lifts, help about the house, and so on. I would pay for my own shopping, but might need some friendly reminders to actually *go* shopping or to do it online.
My name's Sophie Hamilton, and I'm a 33-year-old transgender woman. I tend to be fairly quiet and keep myself to myself, but I'm probably going to need to talk about things sometimes, and may need physical comfort if things are particularly bad. I'm good at listening, and have helped many friends through tough times.
I try hard not to be an asshole. I try to think about what I say before I do so, and I am very open-minded. I think that the interests list on my Dreamwidth profile does a pretty good job of describing my personality.
I'm a computer geek; I love to program, and I delight in knowing how things work. I like creating music - I've recently been experimenting a lot with SunVox, and I'm still working through my project to recreate every tune from the Chrono Trigger soundtrack in General MIDI.
I like gaming - computer or otherwise - and would love to play games in the off-time.
If you think that you might be able to help, or you have any questions, then please get in touch with me by commenting below (comments are screened for privacy and to allow for contact details and such to be posted) or sending me a private message. Also, please do point others to this post if you think they might be able to help! Thank you. <3
[edited 2015-10-02: I wasn't certain about plans when I initially made this post, but plans are a bit surer now. I'm going to need accomodation starting in the middle/end of November, though still for an indeterminate length of time. I still haven't got exact dates nailed down yet, but I'm working on that. If you can help, thank you so much!]
For a while now I've been on a project to sequence the entire soundtrack from the original Chrono Trigger in General MIDI, with an emphasis on accuracy. By that, I mean that it should both be as close to the original source material as possible, but that it should also *sound* as close to the original source material as possible, within the limitations of General MIDI, without relying on or abusing the rendering of any given MIDI synthesizer, and attempting to have it be playable on any General MIDI synthesizer (within reason).
That's not as easy of a task as it sounds. For me, the thing that really differentiates most existing Chrono Trigger MIDI tunes from the original is the SNES' distinctive echo effect. General MIDI doesn't have an echo effect, so most of the existing MIDI conversions I've heard just don't have any echoes. To me, that's a great loss, because the Chrono Trigger soundtrack made superb use of it and to hear it without the echo takes a lot away from the experience.
Of course, the echo isn't the only thing good about the soundtrack; Yasunori Mitsuda managed to compose one of the greatest video game soundtracks I've heard (on the SNES or otherwise), as did Nobuo Uematsu and Noriko Matsueda on the songs they worked on. Unfortunately, most of the MIDI conversions I've heard don't do the originals justice.
So I'm currently working on doing a complete conversion of the entire Chrono Trigger soundtrack by hand, from as close to the original source material as I can reasonably get. In this case I'm using YK's SPC dump. I'm using JCOM-SPC to play the dumped music (which uses the SNESAmp core) and to listen to each channel individually. From there I sequence it by ear, using MIDI to achieve as close a representation as I can achieve while still being true to the original music. (Yes, including echoes!)
I've done this for 20 tunes from the soundtrack so far; the total number of tunes I'm converting will be 69, plus at least one 'bonus' track not included in that dump. (I am not converting the sound effect tracks, the two variants of People Without Hope, or the version of Underground Sewer that includes the water sound effects.) I started work on this six months ago, but I've just come out of a break of about four months, so only two months or so of that has been doing actual work on the project.
The reason I mention all this is because two days ago I did the conversion of Peaceful Days (the overworld music for 1000AD). Once I'm done with the whole project I'll release it all (and I have no idea when that'll be - sorry), but I think this tune is one of the most beautiful tunes in the soundtrack and I'd like to share the converted version with you now.
Here are the relevant download links for my conversion of "Peaceful Days":
(Please note that although the MP3 is rendered using an XG-capable synth, the MIDI uses only General MIDI; I simply prefer how the S-YXG2006LE synth sounds.)
And for comparison purposes, here's a YouTube link to a recording of the original music
[edit: YouTube link for the original music edited to a better version.]
So I discovered an interesting anomaly in the Dreamwidth stats recently.
One of the things I do is keep historical daily copies of the raw stats file for Dreamwidth, which is updated daily. I've been collecting this file automatically every day since September 2010, and today I decided to take a look at today's file.
One thing I noticed was that the number of accounts with a birth date listed that would put them at 5 years old seemed to be really quite high compared to its surrounding data. While the number of accounts "aged" 6-12 totalled 107, the number of "5-year-olds" alone totalled 259.
It's worth noting at this point that you can't create an account if you put in a birth date that would indicate that you're below 13 years old, because Dreamwidth doesn't want to have to deal with COPPA. In other words, to have an account listed as any age between 5-12, you'd need to have created the account with an earlier birth date and then adjusted it after creation to be the birthdate you wanted it to be.
I decided to take a look at the historical copies of the stats file. The biggest part of the rise seemed to have taken place mostly in April-May 2014. At this point I plotted a graph to show the statistical anomaly, which internally I felt very conflicted about doing. (Without knowing why the graph was plotted or seeing the data, it sounds very creepy to plot a graph plotting the number of accounts with a birth date indicating they were 5-12 years old over time.)
My first thought was that these must be bots or RPers. I shared it with Dreamwidth's IRC channel and we all pondered over it, before pauamma realised what must be happening.
It turned out that what we were seeing was basically a replay - much diminished, mind you - of the growth Dreamwidth experienced in open beta when it started in April 2009 - 5 years ago! Some of the accounts created then must have set their "birth date" to be the date of the journal's creation - an account birth date rather than the user's birth date. We hadn't noticed before now because the stats file only goes down to 5 years old, and even though there were accounts in closed beta, the figure wasn't high enough to particularly notice before now.
What I'm saying is, we basically missed Dreamwidth's fifth birthday, if we take "birth" to mean the start of open beta. Dreamwidth is officially five years old!
As most readers of my journal know, I am a transgender woman. As part of the process of transitioning, I've been changing the names of the various accounts I use online.
I encountered a roadblock when I wanted to change my Steam username, but couldn't because of Steam's policy that accounts cannot be renamed. (That situation eventually got resolved when you guys spread the word about what was going on, but at the time it was really frustrating.)
Since then I've been keeping track of whether their policy has changed. That appears not to be the case, sadly - one-and-a-half years ago I asked if anything had changed, and the answer was no. And now, it appears as if Steam is at it again, in exactly the same way as it did three-and-a-half years ago with my original request.
A new friend of mine, Katy (kateunafraid) is trying to get Steam support to change her username.
( Here's how her ticket started (ticket 4642-QTSL-8416, reproduced with permission) )Oh hey, I recognise this. That's exactly the same stock answer they sent me, with just the name of the menu option to click changed.
Now, like me, Katy has already done all this. Changing the names that are visible to other people isn't the issue here; the issue is changing the username itself.
As I stated in the follow-up post when this was resolved for me:
...a username is not just an arbitrary selection of letters and numbers. That is to say, from a technical perspective it is, but in all other respects it's part of an identity. For a lot of people, that identity overlaps with their real life identity, and if that identity changes, it only makes sense that the username should be able to be changed along with it.
Now, it's true that a lot of sites don't have the ability to change your usernames. Conversely, however, those same sites often do not involve financial transactions, or if they do, they normally allow at least an option to transfer any purchased assets to another account.
Steam doesn't even do that. What Steam expects you to do if you want to change username is to register a new account and re-purchase ALL your games. If you don't do that, you will be forced to either split your games between two different accounts, or to leave Steam entirely.
Um, no. Nobody should ever have to give up hundreds, even thousands of dollars' worth of games because of an identity change. Yet that is exactly what's happening with many people in the same situation. Why is this allowed?
You may remember that in my post one-and-a-half years ago where I asked Steam staff if they had made any policy changes
, I outlined a deliberately narrow group to ask about, because I felt that if any policy change had been made, it would apply to the people within these criteria:
...having had a legal name change (with evidence in the form of legally-recognised documentation such as a deed poll or statutory declaration), a username which was clearly based on their old name, and a clean VAC record...
I believe the option to change username should be available, at the very least, to people who meet these criteria. I would not be fundamentally opposed to this username change being subject to an additional charge, but I do believe that if you fit these criteria, imposing an additional charge on top of the charges already incurred by obtaining the legally-recognised evidence doesn't really make sense.
I don't believe that these criteria are unreasonable, and Katy meets all three. That being the case, I believe that it's reasonable to ask Steam to allow Katy to change her Steam username, hence this post.
As with the last time this happened, this is a public post on DW (as are most of my posts). Please feel free to link to it from elsewhere if you agree!
(Subscribers to this journal should watch for another post after this one that I'm going to make access-only; I'm writing an email to Gabe to hopefully get this sorted out for all trans people, and I'd like your thoughts on it!)
It's been a while since I last thought about importing my LiveJournal entries into this DW journal. In fact, I make it more than three years ago, and that only as a passing aside.
But the thing is... I've gone so long without doing it that I'm not sure I feel the need to do so any longer. I mean, it would be nice, but I don't think it's absolutely necessary at this point. There's also the problem that it makes it harder to use access groups since I've barely added anybody to access groups over here at DW.
To that end, I think I'm going to finally, definitively say that I won't be importing my LJ journal into this one. I will import it into a separate account (sophie_archive - yes, I have had that account for a long time!), and all the posts there will be access-locked (as they would have been had I chosen to import it into this journal). If you'd like access to it after I've imported, I'll post an entry with a poll that you can respond to; I'll almost certainly be happy to give you access. (Do bear in mind, however, that my LJ stretches back to 2003, so there will be plenty of instances of my old male name and references to me as male, in case this matters to you. On the flip side, it does contain extensive documentation about my transition prior to starting my DW, which you may find interesting! These posts are in a separate filter; I'll ask about filters and who wants to be on them later.)
My LJ will not be disappearing, and I'm going to continue crossposting, so subscribers to my LJ don't need to worry.
Once I've imported into sophie_archive, I'll post about giving access to the journal and opt-in filters, and add people to each as wanted.
I just had a very interesting conversation with the support team at Amazon.co.uk.
I was calling about a $1.00 Amazon MP3 credit that I had acquired on the 27th of July 2013. This credit was given to me on Amazon.com (as opposed to Amazon.co.uk, where my account actually is) for a 'Free App of the Day' order I made in the Amazon Appstore for Android app. (Note that none of this is referring to gift certificates. It's possible they may have the same issues, but I was not calling about that.)
My issue was that I couldn't use the credit on Amazon.com, because it would keep asking me for my card details, and I obviously didn't want to give them.
I learned a few things from the call:
- It is not possible to use the promotional credit unless you turn on your 1-Click setting.
- If you have a promotional credit on your account, Amazon will use that before your selected payment method.
- It is not possible to see whether you have any promotional credit on your account before you purchase; you have to contact Amazon by phone and ask.
All of these combine to make the ultimate money-sucker: Thought you had Amazon MP3 promotional credit but actually don't? Normally you'd be able to see that sort of thing on an order confirmation screen, but sorry, you have 1-Click turned on. Boom, that's £0.99, sucka.
But that's okay, she said, I have a £1.00 credit on my account, so you'll be fine.
"Wait a second," I said. "Is that 1 pound
or 1 dollar
She confirmed to me that she was seeing a 1 pound
credit on my account on Amazon.co.uk which I had received on 12th October 2013 and expired Tuesday 30th September.
So I go to check my email, wondering if I'd missed something... but no, I didn't get any email about this credit at all. In fact, I never even *made* any orders on Amazon.co.uk in October 2013, a fact that I was able to confirm by looking at my order history on the site. On Amazon.com I hadn't made any orders in 2013 at all.
She couldn't tell me which order the promotional credit came from; I'm not sure if this was for security or simply because nothing was showing up.
So at this point I'm left with a mystery promotional credit for £1.00, and I have no idea where it came from. (And it wouldn't have gone to my Spam folder as I have filters specifically set up so that any emails to my Amazon account email addresses do not get flagged as spam; I've had this set up for ages.)
So, now we have a case of: In order to use promotional credit that you don't even know exists
, you need to turn on 1-Click.
Does this seem fishy to anyone else?
If you use Skype, you may have noticed the number of people online on your contacts list dwindling a little lately.
I myself was signed out of Skype last night. I can no longer log in; my old version of Skype, 5.10, is now considered to be too old.
I can't say I'm *entirely* surprised about this; I was given ample warning that this would happen, and I just didn't heed it because the older version still worked long past the cutoff dates given to me. Unfortunately, this has left me with the problem of how to tell everybody that I'm probably not going to be using it any more. This is a shame, because I actually used it quite a lot.
Why will I not be using it any more? Why can't I just update to the newest version?
Well, for some people the answer will be that they're still using Windows XP, which the newer versions of Skype don't support. That's not the case for me, but if you know that a contact of yours has Windows XP and you haven't heard from them for a bit, that may be why.
But no, the thing for me is that I've been hearing a lot about how Skype is connected to the NSA. I probably don't need to explain why this is a bad thing, but it's possible some people reading this may not realise that the NSA collects data about you in bulk, including recording audio of phone calls, recording IMs, web sites you visit, and a lot of other things. Recently news came out that they were targetting the privacy-conscious.
To put it lightly, the NSA are violating your privacy quite deliberately and knowingly - even if you live in the US. (The NSA's states that it only applies data gathering to foreign countries, but I'm willing to bet that there are sites you visit that aren't sited in the US. Same applies if you live outside of the US and thought you were safe; if you use sites sited in the US (note: Dreamwidth is such a site), then the NSA is interested in you.
The NSA also lies about how much data is collected. It was thought that the NSA "only" recorded metadata about phone calls such as time/date, phone numbers of each party, etc. Turns out that's untrue; apparently, "At least 80 percent of all audio calls, not just metadata, are recorded and stored in the US". I am a little doubtful about that figure (and there is no evidence for this, unlike with Edward Snowden's leaked files), but if the figure is off then it probably isn't off by much. Even if the figure was 60%, that's still a frighteningly large amount.
I see no reason to believe that Skype is exempt from this, especially as there are news stories about Skype being connected to the NSA. (The linked article is just one such article.)
I also found out today that Skype comes pre-installed with Windows 8.1, which follows their phase-out of Windows Live Messenger (also known by many as MSN Messenger). This makes Skype an incredibly attractive target for not just the NSA but also for hacking/cracking groups. Mostly the NSA, though.
So what is someone to do? I believe I can no longer use Skype as a permanent solution. Note that using an alternative Skype client will not solve the problem; any recording of data would be server-side, so it really doesn't matter what client you use to connect to it. (Not that Skype has exactly had the best of compatibility with third-party clients anyway.)
Does anyone have any ideas?
I'm living with my parents again.
I'm not sure how I feel about this. :/
I want to apologise for my last entry. (This apology is being made without any prompting or feedback from anyone.)
As a game, Air Control does not live up to the standards expected by most people. But developing and publishing the game is likely a learning experience for the developer, and they chose to publish it. I do not normally engage in public shaming when the problem is most likely due to lack of experience, and I'm kinda embarrassed that I did so here. I should be holding myself to better standards than that, and I failed in this case. I'm sorry.
I believe that with encouragement and experience (including the experience learned from developing and publishing games like this), people can create awesome things. Killjoy, please don't let the experiences of this game stop you from learning more about game creation.
Thank you, and I'm sorry to anybody I may have triggered with my public shaming.
[content note: Public shaming. I have apologised for this post. I am leaving it here because I believe in owning my mistakes.]
Hey, remember when Steam used to be a store for quality games?
Nowadays, Steam seems to have dropped its quality threshold entirely. Still, games on Steam always seemed to have at least some modicum of quality, even for games like Airport Simulator 2014, which revolves around you waiting for planes to land at an airport, then driving utility vehicles to the plane one-by-one, then waiting in real time for the jobs to be done, being able to do absolutely nothing else in the meantime, then driving the vehicles back to their original positions and waiting for the next plane to land. With the currency you earn you can hire workers to do some of those jobs for you, and eventually end up with all the jobs filled and you winding up with absolutely nothing to do other than exit the game.
It's not much of a game, to be honest. I've seen it called "the worst game on Steam".
I'm here to tell you that's not the case. I'm not defending the game, mind you. It's quite a horrible game. But you can tell that a fair amount of effort was put into it; the overall presentation of the game is nice, the graphics are relatively detailed, and the game obviously works the way it was intended to work, even if the actual game is somewhat lacking. That's not something you can get without putting a fair amount of effort in. I'm very forgiving when it comes to games, unlike many people.
There are other games that are low-quality on Steam, too. But none of them are as low-quality as the game I watched a video of today. It's called Air Control and it goes to show that Steam has absolutely no quality control these days. There has been pretty much a bare minimum of effort spent on this game.
I don't mean to say that the game is simple; simple games can be very fun if done correctly. (Think of things like Super Hexagon.) This is not a simple-concept game (although the gameplay is more-or-less simple to a point), and it is most certainly not done correctly.
I can't do justice to how jaw-droppingly bad this game is (though the fact that I'm even writing about this should say something to many of my readers), so let me link you to NerdCubed's video on the game.
This is being sold for money. Not a small amount, either - £4.79 as of right now, and not on sale. For a scale of reference, The Binding of Isaac (sans DLC) is £3.99, Terraria is £6.99, and Bejeweled 3 is £4.25. (All prices are without sales discounts; it helps that none of them are on sale right now.)
Now go watch the video, if you haven't already. Judge for yourself whether the price tag is justified.
Steam, what the hell are you thinking?
It's been a long while (more than a year!) since I last posted here about myself, and nearly half a year since I posted here at all. I apologise for that.
A lot has happened since my last personal update. Among them, cxcvi and I are no longer in a romantic relationship. (I had originally worded this as "no longer engaged", but while that's true, it's also ambiguous.)
Other things: in September last year (while we were still engaged), we moved into a rented house together. Unfortunately, due to circumstances (among them the relationship, but others too), we've separated again. I'll be moving back to my parents' place on the 25th of July; cxcvi has already moved back. Neither of us want to do this for a multitude of reasons, but at the moment it might be for the best.
I'm so sorry I haven't been around on DW. I really need to work on it.
So, a new game called Game Tycoon was released on Steam a few days ago. It's a game where you create games and move up in the games industry, with new technologies becoming available over the years.
Does this sound familiar? If so, it's probably because of Game Dev Tycoon, which is also on Steam and has exactly the same premise.
Now, before I go any further, I want to say that Game Tycoon is not a ripoff of Game Dev Tycoon - it's been around since 2006, whereas Game Dev Tycoon has only been around since 2012. (The "release date" mentioned on the Steam page is the release date on Steam only.) So please don't think that it's a blatant ripoff, because it's not. It's just that Game Dev Tycoon has had a *lot* more hype.
However, Game Tycoon is not a good game. I don't have it, but from what I've watched and read, it seems to be riddled with bugs, and the initial release on Steam didn't even include the EXE file needed to run it!
It's getting a bad enough reputation that I feel the need to make this PSA about it to make clear that the two games are different. GDT is actually fairly good, though a little too limited for my taste. Please do not mistake Game Tycoon for Game Dev Tycoon when reading its reviews!
Thank you. :)
(Yeah, I know, I haven't been updating this journal for anything apart from PSAs for ages... I'm sorry!)
A PSA for anybody who uses SourceForge still - I recently read that they've rolled out something called "DevShare", which is basically something that projects can opt into to have their downloads bundled with adware, monetising the download for the project owners.
I used to trust SourceForge downloads. I won't be able to do so any more. :(
(more information: reddit, article)
Just so that everybody knows, Left 4 Dead 2 is free on Steam for today only. I already have it, but other people might appreciate this!
I hope everybody has a great holiday season. :)
(And yes, sorry I haven't been updating! I will at some point, I promise.)
|An experiment about PINs
I want to try an experiment.
Imagine you're calling an automated phone system to set up an account. The phone system asks you to make up your own PIN code to control access to the account, and to press the # key when done.
Did you think of a number? Good. Hold that in your head. I'm not going to ask you for it, but I do want to ask you a few questions about the number you chose under the cut, as an anonymous poll. (Meaning that even I can't see who answered what, for security.) If you haven't thought of the PIN code you would use in this hypothetical situation, do so now.
I explain why I'm doing this in another cut inside the cut below!
( And here are the questions )
I've been meaning to post this for a while. I made another mashup! I already posted this one on Twitter a while ago when I released it, but didn't post it here. Oops.
This one is called (You Drive Me) Crazier Than Life (direct download link) and is a mashup of these two songs:
- Larger Than Life, by the Backstreet Boys
- (You Drive Me) Crazy, by Britney Spears
Thanks to a friend of mine for the suggestion to make this mashup and for the ideas for what to do with the mashup while I was making it!
As always, feedback is very much appreciated. :D
So, you may remember that two years ago, Valve transferred my games from an old Steam account to my current one, in what disappointingly appeared to be a one-off.
Just to make sure, however, four days ago I asked Steam Support for an update on what would happen nowadays for people that were in my position.
( These are my three contributions to the Support ticket. )The main question I asked in this ticket was this (emphasis added):
If someone else were in the same situation as I was two years ago, having had a legal name change (with evidence in the form of legally-recognised documentation such as a deed poll or statutory declaration), a username which was clearly based on their old name, and a clean VAC record, would Valve be willing to change the account name upon the submission of such evidence? (For the purposes of this question, 'change the account name' may also include creation of a new account and all licences registered on the old account transferred to the new one, as that was how my own ticket was resolved.)
Now, I realise that this is a pretty narrow field. This was intentional in order to increase the chances that they might be receptive. I do realise that there are trans* people out there who don't meet these criteria. Policy changes always have to start somewhere, though, and I understand the issues involved. I figured that if any policy change at all had been made, this narrow definition would fit inside it.
Today, they responded. (In fact, it was Walter who responded; the same person who replied in the other ticket to assist me with transferring the games.)
So, what was their answer?
4 Message by Support Tech Walter on Thu, 16th May 2013 8:26 pm
We have not changed any policies regarding account names. As mentioned in your original ticket, this is for security reasons.
While we understand this is a frustration for you, we have this in place by design. There are no plans to change this at this time, however I have passed your comments on to the appropriate people.
Disappointing, to say the least. There is still no reasoning given for not being able to change account names, besides the very vague "this is for security reasons". (To be fair, I didn't actually ask for an explanation in this ticket, but still.)
I'm really disappointed by Valve right now. :(
It's been a while since I've written anything here (excluding the mashups and status update) and I'm kind of wanting to get back into writing stuff. Only thing is, I don't know what to write.
So, consider this an AMA (Ask Me Anything)! I saw kaberett doing this and thought it was a great idea. Basically, feel free to ask me anything in the comments and I'll do my best to answer. If you want to know more about me, or if you have requests for things I should write, or even if you just want to say hello, here's the place to do it! Anon commenting is enabled on Dreamwidth (though IPs are logged), so if you need to go anonymous, feel free to do so. (If you're watching me on LJ, you'll need to click the link just below this post where it says this has been crossposted if you want to go anonymous - otherwise feel free to ask on either LJ or DW.)
Looking forward to answering your comments. <3
So I decided I quite liked doing the last mashup, and I decided to make a new one. This one is called Disturbia Night (direct download link) and mashes up these two songs:
- Night Is Young, by Nelly Furtado,
- Disturbia, by Rihanna
"Disturbia" is about mental anguish - I liken it to suffering from depression - and its lyrics reflect that, even though it's a pop song (and this mashup is even more poppy). In addition, the juxtaposition of the two songs makes it sound like the person suffering from depression is being told that they can just stop suffering by merely wanting to do so. Of course, this doesn't actually work.
Let me know what you think!
(Don't worry, btw - I'm not intending for this to become a journal of mashups. I've found that I do like making them, but this is still my journal first and foremost, not a collection of links.)