Contents

Caty and Cara's Page

Our Computers

Snapshots with Text

Essays for Fun

Ken Burch's Tales

Ken's Neocron Tales

More Neocron Tales

Secret Wars

Tales of the Walker Clan

Our Cast

Why Kevin Doesn't Dance

Writing of Mine That Doesn't Totally Suck

Stuff dl Thinks Is Cool

The Old, Old Grandma Story

The Final Battle

James' Photos

James Meyer's Birds:

Introduction

Photos 1 through 25

Photos 26 through 50

Photos 51 through 75

Photos 76 through 100

Reading

` a book cover

Playing



alChandler's Halls



Serving dozens since 1999


Shameful Self Indulgence

You'll notice the white paint I'm sure. That's because I have the puzzles set to easy. I'm not a particularly observant person at the best of times and if I had the puzzles set on normal (no white paint) I would have rage quit by now. But I've played enough with my new toy for one day. Later on in the week I'll fool around with OBS's video output settings with the idea of making the videos a tad sharper.

By the way, notice that even with white paint splashed over the jutting log I still mange to overlook ot at first.

September 24, 2018


A Successful Day

You know, I generally prefer written instructions to watching a video but in the case of learning the basics of OBS, JESSEverything's video on how to use the program was wonderful. I'll think kinder of video tutorials from now on.

And it's nice to be able to talk on videos, although to be fair, I think Fraps managed it back in our Left 4 Dead Days so I may have just ignored the capability until I was forced to turn to a new program. In fact, I think I did have a video of alChandler getting creamed in L4D 2 on my hard drive but I can't seem to find it right now. It may not have survived the transition to the new drive or it may just be buried somewhere. Hope I dig it up it's the only record of the gang playing together.

But in the mean time I think I'll take Lara into the jungle.

September 24, 2018


Gaming Videos

I've played a little of Shadow of the Tomb Raider today and I managed to get Lara to the Amazon. I decided that the Amazon would be the perfect place to record a little movie so I booted up Fraps, but I booted it up with trepidation, Fraps hasn't been updated since 2013, Windows 10 doesn't particularly like it and modern games with modern graphics simply won't work with it. As I expected, Fraps didn't work with Tomb Raider.

So I've just downloaded OBS Studio, a program people use to both record games and stream them live. I managed, after much struggling, to get it to record this epic sequence from Assassin's Creed Origins:

And if I got it working once I can get it working again. In fact, I saved a very nice looking YouTube OBS tutorial to my desktop. At this point I was going to write something along the lines of, "The more features a program has the more complex the interface will be," but I'm not really certain that's true. I"m just not used to it. But if I want to continue to post videos to YouTube I'd better become comfortable with it. Besides, while it's unlikely, it's barely possible that one day my friends and I will want to stream something on Twitch.

Update:

There, it didn't take me as long to figure this out as I thought it would. I'm going to mess about with OBS tomorrow and learn a bit more about it. By the way, I do notice an improvement in the graphics with the new card. It's enough to make me want to take a look at Rolf's 4K monitor.

Update 2: There, while I'm not going to post them, I did a couple more Tomb Raider videos to nail down voice overs. I may be posting videos with my insightful commentary as a bonus feature. And now I suppose there's nothing left to do but uninstall Fraps.

September 24, 2018


Two Quick Bookish Notes

Last night I finished my second reread of The Portrait of Mrs. Charbuque and let me tell you, this is why it's good to have a library in your home. The book never really clicked with me the first two times but there was something there. This time it hit me and that's all that I'm going to say about that.

And rather then reread another 20th century epic fantasy series, this morning I finally cracked The Fifth Season the first book in N. K. Jemison's Broken Earth Trilogy. I've heard it described as a mixture of science fiction and fantasy but let's face it, all science fiction is fantasy of a sort, unless you know something about a secret NASA facility where they're testing warp drive. Anyway, two years ago I read her The Inheritance Trilogy and loved it so rather then look back, I'm taking the plunge into a geologically hyperactive world whose inhabitants call the Stillness. Nothing like a sense of humor in bad times.

And if you'll allow me one non bookish note, I was going to wait until Friday night to tackle Shadow of the Tomb Raider because I get nervous at the start of a new game (especially this year) and like to have a beer or two at the start. But I'm going to indulge myself, pick up a couple of six packs, do another news thing and boot up the game.

September 23, 2018


Upgrade Too!

That is my old card, a GTX 970, I had a love/hate relationship with it. For four years it did yeoman service but the card had a design flaw that caue it to emit a high pitched whine when it was working hard. I didn't effect anything and it wasn't overheating it was just annoying as hell.

And that is the new card. It's big, powerful and as far as I know its cooking coils don't whine when they start working.

And that's Newton who played in the box and enjoyed poking around in Rolf's stuff.

I took a quick look at Shadow of the Tomb Raider and it does look good. Paradoxically, after my intense and ultimately unpleasant experience with Divinity Original Sin 2 I'm in more of a reading mood then a gaming mood. But Shadow of the Tomb Raider looks nice indeed. As well it should, 1080 Ti cards are still a tad overpriced, it's a supply and demand thing, bitcoin miners were using it, and other cards, to generate new coins and the price shot through the roof. It's come down but at one time a 1080 Ti was going for over $1,200. But such is late stage capitalism.

September 22, 2018


Upgrade!

In February I got a new hard drive, not by choice but because my old hard drive died a horrible, painful death. But today I'm getting a new video card voluntarily, a GTX 1080 Ti. I'd like to get a shot of the beast before Rolf installs it and I'm hoping that if I write and post this now I'll remember to take a picture tomorrow.

September 22, 2018


The Portrait of Mrs. Charbuque

I'm in the mood to reread The Portrait of Mrs. Charbuque a novel written by Jeffrey Ford. In 1893 Piero Piambo is a painter who gets well paid for portraits of New York city's rich. He's starting to feel like he's lost something along the way when he's given a novel commission, Mrs. Charbuque wants her portrait painted but with the condition that Piambo can't see her face. She'll be behind a screen and while he can't see her he's free to talk to her. If Charbuque is satisfied with the painting she'll pay double leaving Piambo wealthy enough to stop doing portraits and start painting what he feels like. It's been years since I read this one.

September 21, 2018


The Last of Tolkien

Tolkien started work on what was eventually published in 1977 as The Silmarillion during WWI. After the success of The Hobbit he hoped that his publisher would be interested in his older, and to his mind more serious work. But George Allen & Unwin wanted a sequel to The Hobbit so that's what Tolkien tried to give them. But while The Lord of the Rings was set in the Third Age it was driven by events that took place in the First and Second Ages. Eventually The Lord of the Ring was about the passing of the Elder Days and the end of magic. The Elves would go west or fade, the Ents and Dwarves would die off and Middle-earth would become humanity's exclusive domain.

Tolkien died in 1973 and his son Christopher labored mightily get the enormous material of The Silmarillion into a publishable form. He succeed, at least I think he did, and spent the rest of his life editing his father's writings in what became the 12 volume History of Middle-earth He finished with that in 1996 but he continued to release books culled from Tolkien's unpublished material and The Fall of Gondolin is the last of these. Christopher Tolkien is 93, he's retired from the family trust and he's hung up his editing cap.

John Ronald Reuel Tolkien was well served by Christopher John Reuel Tolkien and I hope C. J. R. Tolkien enjoys his leisure time. But it's a little sad that the well of Tolkien material has finally run dry.

September 21, 2018


Gwydian Rince

So then, I've put 60 hours into this and while I've had a good time, it's been getting frustrating, even though I'm playing on story mode. I'm level 12, everything is one to three levels ahead of me and then there's Gwydian Rince.

In order to get some training I needed I had to rescue him. I did so and a fight erupted between my group, his captors and some oil blobs that appeared on the scene. I've been trying to get through this fight on and off for a couple of days. Tonight I was doing well on the fight when Rince, who's AI is terrible, left my party, attacked one of the bigger oil blobs and died. That pretty much ended any desire I had to continue the game. It's 2018, if you can't do a competent job on an NPC's AI then have him cower in fear until the fight is over.

Still, at 110 hours I got my money's worth. Next up is Shadow of the Tomb Raider. I bought a new video card today and I'm going to hold off on the game until Rolf installs it.

September 19, 2018


A Short Divinity Update

While I haven't updated this page in six days I have been busy. Since getting the update for Divinity Original Sin 2 I've put in a lot of time into the game:

It doesn't seem that long but then again, when I'm having fun it never does.

By the way, there was a mansion in a graveyard that I was never able to enter in my earlier play throughs of the game. Today after getting no response from the front door I decided to look around and found a side door. I knocked, the door asked me a few questions, I answered honestly and it let me in. Go figure.

September 18, 2018


The Header Picture

I ran alChandler's picture through Prisma and I'm throwing it up as the new header picture just to see if it sticks. Before I created this version of him in DOS 2 this was the canonical version of alChandler:

That's from an old game called Kingpin and the image of alChandler as balding and just a little past his prime has stuck with me for the last 19 years. And today he's back to being a dwarf, he's a few years past his prime and still wields a mean hammer.

September 12, 2018


alChandler 1980

I've mentioned that al-Chandler was originally created for a life action role playing game I participated in back in 1980. I pictured him as a sort of Bedouin dwarf from a nomadic tribe who had given up mines and caves for the desert. That game was a one shot but for some reason I remembered his name and when I played Ultima 2 in 1983 my character was a dwarf named alChandler. And just now while playing him in DOS 2 I realized that this picture is fairly close to what I was going for 38 years ago. In fact I may keep this shot around to use as the page's logo one day.

September 11, 2018


Say Hello to the Gang

So then from left to right it's the Red Prince, the dispossessed ruler of a kingdom somewhere. There are assassins targeting him but he's a good fighter and he's not the only member of the party who has to deal with that. Then there's alChandler. In this game he's back to his original form, a dwarf of the desert. He's also godwoken. That means the god of the dwarves, Duna, wants him to take his place by his side and kick the shit out of the gods of humans, elves and the rest. He's not too sure how he feels about that.

Behind him is the ghost of Sir Lora, a squirrel riding an undead cat. Sir Lora came with the update and he died almost immediately, but I got him back the first time I communed with Duna in the spirit world.

On alChandler's left is Lohse, an enchanter. She has a demon inside her who takes over from time to time. Otherwise she's quite nice.

Finally there's Ifan ben-Mezd. He's a wayfarer, they're like rangers except they can kill people for money. But so far he's been a nice enough chap.

I just finished the boss fight that ends the first section of Divinity Original Sin 2, I won on my first try. The last time I played the game I never got past it so as far as I'm concerned story mode rules. Even so, alChandler died in the battle. But story mode gives everyone the ability to rez the fallen without having to use a rez scroll.

You know, I played the firts game in the Divinity series, Divine Divinity when it came out in 2002. I found it too hard and never finished it. Didn't deal with the series again until Divinity: Original Sin in 2014. I found it far too difficult but I tried it again in 2015 when the enhanced edition arrived. The combat was easier but I found it boring. But this time I'm actually having fun. In fact since the expansion dropped I've put in 14 hours. I may actually finish a Divinity game for once.

September 11, 2018


The Book of Wonder

The Book of Wonder is a collection of short stories written by Lord Dunsany and published in 1912. Dunsany wrote fantasy and his books were illustrated by a wonderful artist named Sidney Sime. In his earlier books, Dunsany would write the stories and Sime would draw something based on them but with The Book of Wonder they reversed the process:

'I found Mr Sime one day, in his strange house at Worplesdon, complaining that editors did not offer him very suitable subjects for illustration; so I said: "Why not do any pictures you like, and I will write stories explaining them, which may add a little to their mystery?"

Now you can find Dunsany's stuff at Gutenberg and at Amazon but the curious thing is that nobody thought to release The Book of Wonder in ebook format with all of Sime's illustrations included. But a few days ago I discovered that these people did just that. And all I can add if you like dream like, elegant and witty fantasies you should check him out. By the way the illustration at the top goes with a story called The Distressing Tale of Thanngobrind the Jeweler.

September 10, 2018


And So the Warlock Rests

Lyacon has gone from level 34 to level 60 in about a month. Not only can he use flying mounts, he has access to the cool ones that alChandler has acquired over the years. I parked him on the other side of the Dark Portal in World of Warcraft's first expansion, The Burning Legion but for the moment I'm going to rest for a couple of days and then tackle Divinity: Original Sin 2 - Definitive Edition. I may get back to him though, a warlock is fun to play.

September 8, 2018


Closing in on 60

I just logged off World of Warcraft Lyacon is more then half way to level 59. That means that by Sunday he'll be 60 and able to use a flying mount.

That was my goal for Lyacon and once I hit 60 I'll fly around for a bit and then go back to Divinity: Original Sin 2 - Definitive Edition. But come October I'll take out alChandler and mess about in the latest expansion. And who knows? I just might take Lyacon through the Dark Portal in the Blasted Lands and see if Blizzard has made any changes to the game's first expansion.


So Much for Clive Staples Lewis

I finally finished Lewis's Space Trilogy. I last read it 15 years ago. If that holds then the next time I pick it up will be in my late 70s. God knows what I'll think of it at 77.

Today I went to Books a Million to buy Tolkien's The Fall of Gondolin but they were out so I ordered it from Amazon. Somehow I can't bring myself to read Tolkien on the Kindle. I also ordered a two volume edition of The Book of the New Sun. I gave my hard copies of that away and realized that I wanted go back to that book to reread certain passages. If you like to do that with a book then paper is better then an ereader, at least it is for me.

So much for books.

9/7/18 addendum: I don't prefer reading The Book of the New Sun in paper, I just want a paper copy for reference.

September 6, 2018


Warcraft and Other Stuff

At this point, I've pretty much got a handle on playing World of Warcraft and I'd like to seriously start Divinity Original Sin 2: Definitive Edition. But I'm very close to level 56 and I really want to give Lyacon the ability to ride flying mounts, so I'll stick with it for another week or so until I hit level 60.

And I'll be getting up early for a few days this week and next week. I do not bounce back from getting up early the way I used to.

September 5, 2018


I'm Becoming a Dotard

You know, as I was trying to figure out what was wrong with Divinity: Original Sin 2 - Definitive Edition I read several posts from people complaining that the game was being blocked by their antivirus software. And did I check to see if my antivirus software was blocking the game? No, I did not.

Long story short, it was, it's not anymore and the game starts normally. I truly thought I was going to have another couple of good years before senility really started to set in.

September 1, 2018