Saturday, May 27, 2006

Letters from Europe - meeting a friend

Europe is... challenging. But before I get into that, I met an Indian lady today who teaches at a university in Texas, she has a really long complicated name that has Raj somewhere in there and she speaks quickly (but has very good English) and is very direct. My kind of lady, we had a lot of fun talking and she asked about some of my professors and I said LK! She said she met you at a conference so I told her I'd say hi to you and I also told her about my website so maybe I will get more info from her down the road and I can pass that on.

Okay, Europe... We have had quite the adventure, we have seen a bum fight (pretty serious with bloody faces, and we heard about another one with bottle breaking and stabbing near the train station just as we arrived), ah yes, arrival! we have missed three trains as a result of other late trains and road/subway construction which also put us in all the wrong parts of Paris (I thought I was going to die). I guess part of the reason I was so afraid is because a gang of three guys robbed/mugged us on the subway the day we arrived in Paris and that sort of ruined my peace of mind.

Later on in Rome our tour bus hit some lady crossing the street and I got minor whiplash (the victim of the incident managed to get up and hobble away in fear crying as the bus charged on) and speaking of tour buses! We got on one to visit the Sistine Chapel the other day but the line was so long (over 5 blocks) that we had to get right back on the bus! which took nearly three hours to complete the trip back to the train station before we left for Greece. Cutting to the chase... while I appreciate my dad's effort to "expose" us to Europe, backpacking style with trains and subways and no real plan or reserved hotels (which has also been problematic), I've been daydreaming of coming home and seeing my friends before moving to California. This will be a great trip to look BACK on :)

posted by Court @ 3:28 PM | 0 Comments Links to this post

Monday, May 22, 2006

Rollerblading is the hot new thing here in France

France has all of the major hallmarks of a world class city; it's historical, it boasts top notch shopping, and it even has sky scrapers. The one thing I was most surprised to find here however, was rollerbladers. They're everywhere! and it's hillarious.

Outside of the Louvre one can almost hear the charriots of Nepoleon, and feel the grace of princes and kings who once roamed the courtyards. The water fountains are beautiful and the architectural wonder of the glass pyramids of the Louvre entrance are awe inspiring... and then you see people rollerblading in flourescent spandex and remember it's France and you are eating snails for dinner.

posted by Court @ 3:27 PM | 0 Comments Links to this post

The wonderful world of France

Ahh France. I never thought much about it until a few days ago when I arrived and was promptly robbed on the subway... They say be careful and hide your money, so we did. They say don't be fooled by distractions, and try to avoid crowded areas, and once again... we did! The truth is that it seems like we did everything right but I guess these guys are pros, not to mention there are no police anywhere useful in France. We found some chilling in the crepe shop, and some more chilling near the fountains, but none on the north subway (the notoriously dangerous north subway that comes directly from the train station where all of the tourists get off). All the locals knew to avoid it, even the police warned us once we had been robbed... So how about upping the security at that stop boys?

Anyways, we were robbed and lost nearly $1,000 US cash money and some photos and credit cards. The robbers (who were more like NY gangsters) then proceeded to attempt over $3,000 in Visa charges at the local shoe store, all of which were all declined. So... if you are ever riding the subway in France and three large black guys crowd you into a corner of the train and start pulling on your packs and pushing you around don't be fooled, it's not just some wierd cultural thing... You are being robbed.

After the whole thing was over we spent nearly six hours reporting the crime at the police station which had a gigantic line (as shown below) presumably because the French police force prefers documenting crime over preventing it.

posted by Court @ 3:26 PM | 0 Comments Links to this post

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Blake the man Kimmel aM factor 10

Well, I can't blame him for loving the number 10; it's even, round, reliable and trustworthy. Ten will never let you down. You wouldn't know it from looking at this crazy snapshot thought; you'd figure 13 or something... which just happens to be my number. I'm more of a 23, 73, 7 kind of guy which is weird because I'm the organized side of ABSTRACTmall and Blake is the spontaneity. Head on over and learn some more about Blake by clicking the picture below...


posted by Court @ 3:25 PM | 0 Comments Links to this post

Tuesday, May 9, 2006

Life on the pond

Yep, living at a pond does mean allergies and the potential mosquito bite... but it also means you get to see these cute little goslings! Note: they do grow up into dirty honking poop machines but for the time being they are oh so cute!!1 In fact, one of the freshmen living in KDub got her friends to help corral the goslings and she actually goosnapped one! Yeah... not cool... she was caught and the baby was subsequently returned to it's parents who accepted it back (which is much better than the "pecking it to death for smelling like a human" alternative we have all been warned about in our more youthful days). Enjoy.


posted by Court @ 3:25 PM | 0 Comments Links to this post

Tuesday, May 2, 2006

American McGee's Alice

Well if you read my Librivox post a few days ago you know that I was inspired to read or rathar listen to Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. It also lead me to reinstall American McGee's Alice for PC. That's when the problems started. I guess with all of the latest Windows XP updates and preparation for the impending launch of Vista, game support hasn't gotten much attention. Three hours of searching the web, trying to figure out a solution led me to purchase a copy of Alice for Mac on ebay (which is no longer being sold new... thank goodness for ebay) however, there is a game package called Leave the Lights on which includes Alice, Bloodrayne, and Undying for Mac so don't give up just yet.

Anyways... I will be receiving my used copy of Alice very soon and when it comes I was told that I'd have to patch the game for my OSX 12" Power Book. I figured I'd document these resources and link up the files for anyone out there who wants the patches and trouble shooting tips provided by Aspyr (the game that published Alice for Mac). This game is truly inspirational, such beautiful music and deep storylines. The diversity of settings is astounding! Just looking at the screenshots fills me with nostalgia. The dark twist from this game injects deeper meaning into what most would consider a simple "childs story". This is my number one, all time favorite game for any system ever! I would consider buying a Windows 98 junker just to run it (If I didn't have a Mac). If there is someone out there who wants to buy my old Windows copy just email me.

Patches, Mods, and Files for Alice:

Maybe eventually I will just rip Alice and provide it as a download if it gets discontinued for Mac, but up until then it would be criminal, so go out and snag a copy of Alice in Leave the Lights On.

Alice Storyline - American McGee's Alice is a strangely familiar, yet utterly wicked adventure. Alice answers a distress summons and returns to Wonderland. Upon her return she barely recognizes the befouled setting. From the fungal rot of the Mushroom Forest to the infernal chemistry of the Mad Hatter's Domain and beyond, Wonderland is in chaos. Undaunted by the diseased ambiance, cavernous confusion, and mortal danger that surrounds her, Alice must undo the chaos. Equipped with courage, a keen appetite for the bizarre, and a lethal array of mischievous toys, she must penetrate the stronghold of her enemies, confront the forces of evil and put the wicked Queen of Hearts in her place.

Alice features stunning third person, 3D action based on enhanced Quake III technology, devious puzzles and labyrinthine mazes and familiar characters transformed. Included levels are reminiscent of the Pool of Tears, the Caterpillar's Garden, the Mad Hatter's Tea Party and more. Enemies include the ferocious Card Guards, demonic Fire Imps, ravenous Jabberspawn and more. The original soundtrack is composed and arranged by Chris Vrenna, award winning artist and founding member of Nine Inch Nails.

ESRB Rating Mature alice-screen1.jpg alice-screen3.jpg alice-screen4.jpg alice-screen2.jpg alice-screen6.jpg alice-screen5.jpg alice-screen7.jpg

Documentation originally provided by Aspyr

How does gamepad support work?
"The 1.1.1 update for Alice says it adds gamepad & joystick support, how does that work?"
Something that was left out of the readme was how to do that. You have to bring down the console (or edit the .cfg file) and type "seta in_joystick 1" to enable joystick support in Alice. Otherwise, you'll be able to configure the gamepad or joystick, but it won't do anything in the game proper.

Game locks up while loading
"On the loading screen (the map with different levels showing), the game will stop. In the lower right, there is a line of circles, the first three light up, but then nothing. Or, the game locks up trying to get to the first main screen."
The game makes calls to various system resources (like OpenGL), so you need to make sure you have plenty of available RAM beyond what the game asks for. Make sure your total RAM (including virtual memory) is up around 216 MB or so (the more the better), and do not have any other applications open when you launch the game. For Mac OS 8.6/9.x, you can change your total RAM in the Memory control panel, increasing the setting for virtual memory. After changing the setting, restart your computer. Also, the game's allocated memory seems to need to be increased just a little. Click once on the application, then choose Get Info -> Memory from the File menu. In the resulting dialog, increase the Preferred memory setting from 148,000 K to 160,000 K. For Mac OS X, memory is handled differently under 10, so you don't have to make these changes, however, you need at least 256 MB of built-in RAM to have enough for the game and the system software.

Echoing sound or stutters
"Echos and stuttering - More often than not, character speech is stuttered or seems to echo. What can I do about this?"
If you are running Mac OS 9, first make sure that virtual memory is enabled. Mac OS X requires VM to operate, so if you are using this OS, you do not need to adjust your memory settings. To fix the sound stuttering, bring down the console and type: seta s_mixahead 0.4 And the stutter will disappear but on the expense of framerate. If the stutter still continues you might change the value to a higher one. The 1.1.1 update improves the sound performance, and is a recommended update for this issue.

"FSSpec" error
"When trying to launch the game, an error message is received that says it "Cannot continue, Alice FSSpec in GetGameAPI, -43". What does this mean?"
The installer places three library files inside the game folder. They are:
  • ClientLib Carbon
  • AliceLib Carbon
  • MW_MSL.Carbon.Shlb
These files have to stay in the game folder (even though if you try to open them, they have a message that implies they go in the Extensions folder). The updated version of the Alice places these files inside the application package, for less confusion. If you have moved these three files out of the Alice folder, locate them and move them back.

Cannot click anything at main menu
"I can not click anything in the main menu screen."
This usually happens when the game is running in windowed mode. To force the game to play in full screen mode and get the computer to register mouse clicks, just delete the file called "default.cfg" which is located in the "base" folder in the "Alice" folder. A good version of this file will automatically be created the next time you launch the game.

Asks for "CarbonLib" or crashes with error type 3
"The installer application gives a message asking for CarbonLib and refuses to proceed. Or, it crashes with a system error, type 3. What's wrong?"
Several of our games are compatible with both Mac OS 8/9 and Mac OS X, and therefore the installer needs to be able to run under Mac OS X. Doing this requires an Apple system component called CarbonLib. It is installed by default under Mac OS 9, but you may need a newer version. Under Mac OS 8.6, it is not installed, and you must add it. You can download version 1.0.4 of CarbonLib from Apple's support website here. The file you download is a self-mounting image. Double-click on it to open the image, it will open an image on your desktop. This image contains the installer for CarbonLib. The type 3 error is typically countered when a version of CarbonLib higher than 1.0.4 is installed under Mac OS 8.6. If this is the case, then prior to the step above of installing version 1.0.4, you need to open your System Folder, find and open the Extensions folder, then locate the CarbonLib extension. Drag that file out to your Desktop, keep it there while installing the game, and then afterwards, drag it back to the System Folder (you may have other applications that need that particular version).

How to "right-click"
"To use the secondary weapon, I have to click the right mouse button. My mouse only has one button."
To get a right mouse click, press the Control button (Ctrl on some keyboards). Or, go into the game's control options, and change Secondary Attack to a different key you like better.

Sound Loss Issue
"I lose my sound in the game - I have an iBook."
This is an Apple issue, involving the Appearance sound sets. The iBook Audio Update is supposed to address this, but it has not completely taken care of it. You can download this update from Apple. As a workaround, simply go to the Appearance control panel, choose the Sound tab, and turn off all of the sound effects. This does not affect Mac OS X.

posted by Court @ 3:24 PM | 0 Comments Links to this post

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