Neko (lofulah)


Flying to Taiwan for two weeks.

Currently at NRT (Narita airport in Japan)

Quick bullet notes:
• Plane was a 787-8, ANA metal. 787 Dreamliner was pretty. If you've ever flown Virgin America, take their planes and add windows that adjust the amount of light that gets through with buttons. It kinda bothers me that it doesn't go completely opaque though.
• It felt like business class, but apparently it's actually, according to seatguru, the plane is only split into business and economy. I was in economy.
• The seats for economy don't actually recline. Instead, the actual seat slides forwards a bit. I don't like it.
• The toilets onboard 787 have bidets! And also a overactive flush sensor.
• I was so happy to see Wolf Children Ame and Yuki as one of the movie options onboard. I've been looking for a fansub / torrent, but hadn't found one. And not only was it available, it was subtitled in English!
• Also watched Bourne Legacy (meh) and Total Recall (interesting idea, but also kinda meh in the end)
• Leeching free wifi to download the latest pony episode. Yay pony! (Although I've been downloading in chunks between airports. Yay wget -c)
Neko (lofulah)

Stupid MLP GameLoft Game

Yes, I'm still playing it, although now it's been heavily modified to the point where I'm effectively just cheating for competition. Honestly, a waste of time, but I want to complete the game, thank you very much.

First, I used freepone, found

It essentially redirects the request for latest prices to a local file, roughly speaking and provides the option to make everything in the store free, or worth bits. I opted to make everything worth bits.

Then, once I hit the quest where I had to collect 10 gem for Spike, I sobbed, raged, and poked Google.

Turns out someone already reverse engineered the save file. Huzzah! (So glad I didn't have to try and install gdb on my iPad and see if I could tweak the memory directly. Fortunately, I didn't try that route, as it's apparently a lot harder than I would have been able to deal with. See following link-)

So some genius geek already do all the work:

Grabbed the perl scripts, found my GameLoft UID, modified the xml file to give myself more hearts and gems, set the quest so I had collected "9" gems, then proceeded to get the missing gem through the balloon popping quest. Also updated a few timestamps, removed all the huge rocks and stupid parasprites and bumped the trash timer up by a few factors of 10, so hopefully they won't pop up for a while.

Things are much happier now. I'm even thinking of rearranging my buildings so my version of Ponyville is prettier.

Back to NaNoWriMo now. 37419 words. I'm kinda hoping to get to 45k before I sleep. I never write much during the week, so 2-2.5k words per weeknight is unreasonable, making a 45k target a must.

On the bright side, I've written (via harsh, faster telling, instead of showing) what happens in the following 'chapters', so writing from now on will only involve me fleshing out the action. This is going to need a lot of editing in the end if I want to upload it to There's periods of semi-acceptable, graceful prose, followed by terrible chunks of ugly, Ben-got-tired-of-writing-about-this-and-decided-to-transition-things-abruptly.

Also, I've got a bad tendency of making typos when typing really fast. I'll think 'close' and muscle memory ends up typing 'cloths'. Blargh.


Yet another open letter to GameLoft:

Dearest GameLoft,

Thank you for bringing My Little Pony to the iOS (and Android) worlds. It's not polished to what I'd prefer, but I'm sure kids will love it.

However, the biggest problem with it is the economics. Please, find a game designer and ask them to crunch the numbers. Or walk through a simulation of how long it would take to acquire everything just by grinding. I'm not even sure it's possible.

Yes, you say, we want you to give us money.

Thing is, we would love to give you money. But not in the hundreds. If I could clear the game with $10, you would have had it yesterday. I think the target price point should have been 1-2 pennies per gem, not 10 cents per gem, especially considering the total price required to complete the game.
Neko (lofulah)

Stupid MLP game

Well, nargh. Stupid iOS MLP game nicely tuned and correctly designed to make us want to spend money.

Princess Celestia: 950 gems <= Dearest Gameloft? I hate you.
Rarity: 90 gems
Rainbow Dash: 500 gems <= I hate you for this too, 'kay? Just so we're clear.

For references sake, gems can be purchased at about 20 for $1.99, 55 for $4.99, 120 for $9.99, 260 for $19.99, 700 for $49.99, and 1500 for $99.99. I think I get a daily bonus of 1 or 2 gems for playing each day? That'll be... 250+ days for Dashie, and years for Celestia. =.=

There's periodic "sales" in the store that last around an hour or so, despite it saying "2 day" or "3 day" sale. Not sure if that's a typo, or "day" as in in-game "day".

Anyways, I have things set up decently well so that I have three production building that complete at 1, 2, and 3 minute intervals with three ponies in each, netting me about 10k in gold coins per hour, I think. Then there's a few slower building that I rotate ponies through to net the third-pony production building bonus - those complete between 25 min - 1.5 hours. In general, the iPad I'm playing on just sits by my keyboard, with the sound off. When a completed building notification pops up, it gets tapped once (I let the game auto-collect my coins and such) and I go back to what I was doing (usually writing for NaNoWriMo).

I have 16 ponies unlocked at the moment. (Twilight, Bon Bon, Mrs. and Mr. Cup Cake, Cheerilee, Lyra, Braeburn, Big Mac, Apple Bloom, Scootaloo, Pinkie Pie, Snips, Applejack, Octavia, Spitfire, and Fluttershy). I've "explored" to all of the Elements of Harmony locations. I've pretty much stopped playing the minigames to level ponies now, since I've got 4 4 ponies at with 5 stars and 2 with four, and that's generally enough to run my production buildings.

Unfortunately, I only have 5 gems now. I've lost probably half of the gems I've collected to accidentally bushing a "Use gems to speed this up" buttons. Makes me wish I could save and revert sometimes. (Probably could. Should try archiving the save file data sometime, and rolling back / etc. I've looked at the data file. Could not immediately determine format, nor could I find values I was looking for (places to change how much stuff I had))

Most of the gameplay right now is just flat out grinding, really. And if I ignore having to level up ponies, it's pretty pain-free, since the mental cost is relatively low (context switching to tap something on a screen, while distracting, isn't too terrible.)

If only I could convert gold coins to gems. Even at a 10,000 -> 1 gem ratio would be acceptable. 9,500,000 gold coins for Celestia, while being an insane number, is well within the realm of being actually doable.


In other news, NaNoWriMo is past 15k now. (Although I'm supposed to be closer to 22k tonight. Blah. Spent too much time watching older episodes of MLP, looking for character data, and then watching Sword Art Online (anime series where players are stuck in an MMORPG, and death there means death in the real world. With no way to exit the game except by beating it. It's surprisingly well done.).
Neko (lofulah)

NaNoWriMo 2012 Status

NaNoWriMo status: Words written today: 3,345. Total: 7,745. I'm 3,921 short of where I should have been by the most recent midnight. 5588 words short of where I should be tomorrow. According to Dropbox's revision log, I've been writing for about 5 hours. Sigh. Maybe another 5 hours tomorrow (err, today - it's 2 AM?!), then more time friday.

I wish I had an app that tracks when my writing app has the current focus, so I can see just how much time I've spent writing. Even cooler would be if it could grab my word per minute average. Right now, it looks like it's approximately 600-900 words per hour (so about 10-15 words per minute, which is slightly below the 19 wpm listed for composition on Wikipedia).

At this rate, I should need another 6-9 hours to get caught up with where I should be tomorrow. Obviously that won't happen all at once tomorrow, so... yeah, another 5-6 hours after work tomorrow once I get into the flow. Then all day friday, hopefully, if I don't slack off. That's a danger.

(I get friday off, since it was my birthday this past tuesday, and the job comes with a your-birthday = personal holiday policy, so I opted to take friday off instead of taking tuesday off.)

Also, got Halo. Thankfully resisting the urge to play more. I've got self-control, right?
Also picked up a 3 TB external hard drive to act as a separate local backup (for now) of my other externals. I have BackBlaze (highly recommended cloud backup), but I generally don't back up everything there, since it takes ages to transfer all the data, and some stuff I don't care _that_ much about (like downloaded anime series that are just sort of sitting around, a bad habit from hotline server days, when you needed stuff to trade...).
Neko (lofulah)

NaNoWriMo 2012: A MLP fanfiction.

As posted on Facebook:
Phooey, Nanowrimo is down (nginx failure, apparently). I'm only at 375/50,000 words. This has been a terrible start. At least I (kinda) know where I'm going with this story. Having a plot sketched out beforehand makes a surprising amount of difference when writing. Whether this is a good thing or a bad thing has yet to be seen. Also, as fanfiction, working in someone else's world (additional constraints on locations and characters) is quite interesting.

More about the planned story / other stuff not posted to FB:
Standard adventure plotline, generally following Voyage and Return on one group and potentially The Quest on the other group. (,

Using the My Little Pony world, although adding a few race of felines (Hey, there's Diamond Dogs. Shouldn't there be cats of some sort? Other than Opal? I need a name for these, by the way, so suggestions are welcome. Otherwise, they're tentatively named "Carbon Cats", but that's silly and boring) and working in a race of Deer from a different fanfic (, although I think said deer are going to be more seers and tricksters than the deer that was in that story.

Making use of the Equestria Map found here:
And the Ponyville Map drawn up by Aurebesh found here:

Kinda nice not having to design my own map. Although it also means I'm somewhat constrained by the geography. Can't randomly plop in a mountain. XD

As for characters, I'm using the CMC and the mane 6. So yay, don't have to design my own characters. And arrgh, need to figure out how to write in Applejack's accent. And stay true to their characters. And writing 6 characters traveling together is going to be interesting. (I think the big challenge here is making sure they get equal "screen" time. I'm not sure how to accomplish this.)

In other news:
MLP Season 3 really really soon. Squee!

Halo 4 getting released on Nov. 6. A wonderful birthday present, whee. I've preordered, although I hadn't planned on doing NaNoWriMo when I preordered, and now that I am doing NaNoWriMo, I'm not sure I'll have the time to play. :\

Voted (by mail). Yay. Gods, I hope Obama wins.

Life / status update:
PuzzleBang 2012 went well. Prizes were awesome, all money put towards the event has been covered by my company or ACM via company sponsorship. I think everyone had fun - I know I did.

I live up in San Francisco now, in a small, and bloody expensive studio in North Beach. Old place has finally been rented out (just barely covers my rent, which is nice). I really appreciate having a 10-15 minute bike commute, instead of a 1.2-1.5 hour bike-train-bike commute. Although, I'm not sure I've used the time effectively to get more done. Slightly less exercise too (2x 1.5 mi bike rides is now down to a 2 mi bike ride).

I really should be writing more in NaNoWriMo instead of blogging, but... meh, need to 'talk' about something else. Depressingly, this post is past 500 words, almost twice what I wrote for NaNoWriMo. Blah. I need to be more descriptive when writing. Wish my knowledge of words was stronger. I envy some of the fanfic authors who've got this awesome control over building pretty things with words. Like "Short skirts and explosions"'s The End of Ponies ( ::le sigh:: Maybe I should to re-read their works (or maybe read other works of fantasy and fiction I have) and copy their style. If only I had time...
Neko (lofulah)

No more RSS feeds in Safari.

Arrrgh, Safari 6 removed feed support silently, so now the feeds I have in my bookmarks bar to track new anime releases and other news is completely useless. I could track them in Mail, but... bleh. Anyone want to suggest nice Feed consumption apps for Mac?

Also, backspace (err, delete) to navigate was disabled. If you're like me and you use it, run:
defaults write -bool YES
Neko (lofulah)

Ubuntu 12.04 LTS (Precise Pangolin)!

[ Warning | Ramble-ly. Pretty technical. Probably boring. I'd skip if I were you. ]

So I finally got around to poking at the 1U HP DL320 G5 server (HP ProLiant DL320 G5 C352 3.20GHz Server, I think?) I picked up sometime back off the side of the street one night on the way home from broad games. It was marked "free" and "works", just missing hard drives and hard drive mounting rails.

I finally got around to booting it up. Threw in two 80GB SATA hard drives, replaced 2x 512MB chips of RAM with 2x 1GB, bringing the total up to a respectable 4 GB.

Surprisingly, everything works except for the DVD-RW drive, which is a tad bit of a pity. Rather, the drive works on boot, but it seems to die after sometime. Ended up downloading Ubuntu 12.04 and dumping it onto a USB stick.

Ran into an odd problem where it kept thinking it was supposed to read from /cdrom. Had to switch into the shell and manually mount /dev/sdc /cdrom, then exit. Rest of the installation went pretty smoothly, aside from learning about LVM and messing up my GRUB install the first time around.

Just finished installing openssh, apache, rvm (ruby-head, etc), mysqld, memcached (not sure why I decided to install that - I'm probably not likely to get around to using it, actually), node.js...

Today I learned about "apt-cache search ...". And how to copy and paste in vi. You'd think I'd know the latter, but I usually get away with using the MacOS X Terminal, where I usually have a pointing device to select text and do your normal copy and pasting.

I just wish it wasn't so damn loud. Stupid fans. Compared to my Mac Mini (that acts as my primary server and backup computer while my laptop gets repaired*), it sounds like a hurricane. Even when the fans aren't on full blast. :\ I dunno, maybe I could sell this for $600-800 and buy another Mac Mini. Although a friend has offered to host this in his basement, and that would work quite nicely, I guess.

I guess the next step is probably going to be to find some way to mask the majority of the sound without tossing it into a closet and causing it to overheat. :\ Failing that, maybe I'll take an early vacation out to Chicago to visit my friend and install the server at his place. XD

*Wifi/Bluetooth cable managed to break. I think a combination of heat and stress and casual use resulted in weakening the surface mount adaptor head or something. Either way, covered by AppleCare and is somewhere in the repair process.
Neko (lofulah)


Because it's been a while since I watched anything, I watched Dog Days and Guilty Crown the past few days. Marathon style, whee.

It's 3 AM, and I do have work in a few hours and really ought to be in bed.

Dog Days was amusing, silly, but not much more than that. I was kinda hoping there'd be more catgirls. Was not the case, unfortunately. Light harem situation, but that's pretty much it. It's adorable how they wage "wars" - apparently there's some sort of magic field in place, so wars are non-lethal - getting "killed" turns you into a ball. A squishy, bouncy ball with dog ears and tail. And there's some sort of scoring system to determine who wins the war. Silly, but I think we should try adopting it as the way we do wars on this Earth. Probably won't watch again, although a second season is coming out, and I suspect I'll watch it for the heck of it.

Guilty Crown was.... well, it was shiny. That's about it. I hated the main character ("Help, I can't decide if I'm going to be a wimp or actually have a spine or try being evil!"), the plot was terrible (let's add all the plot twists we can!). It felt like they were trying to take all the good things from other series and cram it into one to see if it would work. (Hint: It doesn't.) Series not recommended. If I wasn't watching it at about 3-4x, I probably would have given up a lot earlier.

And now, sleepytime.