[rant] urgh Gardenscapes why

Gardenscapes header

So I love Gardenscapes. Made by the people at Playrix, it’s essentially a match-3 game that has a lovely story attached to it, filled with characters that come to life through the things you do in-game. I’ve reached puzzle 1324, which is not too bad since I started playing this game almost a year ago.

The person who takes you through Gardenscapes’ main story is your butler Austin. Yes, your butler, though from the way he orders you around I kind of doubt that. He comes across as a somewhat enthusiastic and friendly chap at first glance.

However, as I play the game more, I’m discovering inconsistencies with his character. I’m not sure if it’s lazy writing or a suspension of disbelief, but there are some things he’s done recently that make me wonder if the writers actually thought things through.

About 300-400 puzzles ago (I think it was then), Austin asked his friend to Robbie (who happens to be black) to help fix the bridges in the garden.

Robbie says that he can’t as he has too many orders for the day and that he could do it tomorrow, but Austin forces him to anyway. Robbie quickly comes over and does a quick job and then has to rush off.

The bridge falls apart later, turning Austin indignant, who believes Robbie had endangered Austin’s potential love interest. Austin goes into a fit, says some mean things to Robbie, and then more or less sulks. When the truth comes to light, Austin “apologises” to Robbie by buying an expensive tool he knew Robbie was eyeing.

Now, here’s the thing that pissed me off. From what I can see, Robbie did the best he could with the bridge, given the time constraints that he had. When it fell apart, it had nothing to do with his skills (beavers are to blame). But he gets the blame anyway.

There’s also the fact that nowhere does Austin acknowledge that he emotionally blackmailed Robbie. Nor does Austin, at any point, directly apologise to Robbie for blaming him falsely.

It feels a lot like Austin is taking advantage of his privilege as a white man, even if he isn’t aware of it. He seems to take most others for granted and his interactions with the few people of colour in the game is subtly different compared from the others we see as white. His “apology” took for granted that Robbie would forgive him, would always forgive him.

Which brings me to the current storyline.

[DETAILED SPOILERS AHEAD]

Alex is an intern at a cleaning company. She’s to help Austin clean the garden. During the cleaning process, they uncover gorgeous ballgowns and learn that that part of the garden is suitable for hosting parties.

Austin decides that the ballgowns are no longer needed and should be sent to a museum, since they’re early 1900s (maybe?) pieces, and in really good condition. Alex, who had been hoping to dress up in said gowns, is disappointed, but she can’t really ask Austin to give the dresses to her. Who is she anyway?

During this plotline, we see that Alex is an enthusiastic, well-meaning girl who is a real romantic. She’s so romantic, that when a random person comes up asking Austin for help with his wedding car, she takes it upon herself to decorate the car. Alone.

So, we’ve established she’s a romantic. She’s good with wedding stuff. And she loves music and to dance.

What happens?

Alex sends the ballgowns to the museum on behalf of Austin. That night, the player and Austin are awoken in the middle of the night by a mysterious sound and subsequently a figure that runs through the garden to escape them. This figure tracks mud all over the garden including areas you, the player, have already fixed.

Oddly, while Austin is alarmed, he doesn’t seem as spooked or angry or surprised. This is odd, considering how he panicked earlier in the game to the point he insisted on getting a dog.

The next day, as they are cleaning up, we discover that the intruder was Alex. She had taken one of the gowns for herself and decided to have a little midnight dance.

Her uncle/family decided to punish her (at least from what we see in the game) by making her clean a spooky old basement filled with spiders and other creepy crawlies. What is Austin’s reaction?

“Oh no, we must help her! Let us ask this other guy who is handy with vacuums to give her one as she asked so she can finish her job quicker.”

The thieving model with her sculptor takes a break
More or less. Alex is thus freed to “model” for the sculptor, who is recreating the romantic story that led to the ballgown’s discovery earlier.

Throughout it all, Austin’s reaction to Alex breaking his trust and stealing from the player has been sympathetic and forgiving. In fact, he never brings up the point that she abused his trust and/or she had stolen things but instead helps her to finish her punishment quicker.

It seems Austin is so desperate to win the approval of the eligible females in the game that he doesn’t just overlook their horrendous behaviour, he encourages it. I’m terribly disappointed with Playrix because they had started so well with the game’s earliest chapters.

Well that's nice of Austin
Contrast this to the way he treated Robbie. To say that he threw Robbie under the bus without even apologising is a major understatement. Heck, even when Claire couldn’t make it he is nicer to her than he was to Robbie!

Really Playrix, you can and should do better. Gardenscapes is a really fun game and I like the touches you’ve added to the match-3 component. I like the characters. What I don’t like is your lazy writing; glorifying Alex’s criminal transgressions while making light of the hard work like Robbie does.

When Windows breaks your MMO…

This is the culprit of that Disconnected from patching server before patching completed error

So, for those wondering what “Disconnected from patching server before patching completed” here’s a quick guide to figuring out what’s the problem:

As of August 11, 2017:

  1. If you have updated to Windows 10 Fall Creator’s Update, check your App Settings. This can be done through Settings > App Settings > Apps and Features.
    • Change your settings if it’s set to install Store apps alone. I have temporarily enabled all apps to ensure my update works
  2. Otherwise, check your WiFi settings.
  3. Run the .exe as Admin after that (Right click > Run as Administrator).
  4. Pray it works.
  5. Have fun!

How I discovered this (aka I want to curse the idiot that is myself)
So, about 6 days after Fall of Oriath dropped, I finally decided to install the patch and PLAY. GGG (Grinding Gear Games) usually has an “Allocating Space” step before actually downloading the patch, so I went for a nap to let Kuro (le PC) do its thing. Woke up to find the update stalled so I cancelled that process and started again.

Allocated Space went through just fine. Then I had the “Disconnected from patching server before patching completed” error. This happened twice and I am now kicking myself because I decided to do the whole “delete your content.ggpk file and force the client to REDOWNLOAD the entire game (8GB and counting) in a single file” step as a solution.

You see, right after that I got an error from Windows saying “Oh this app isn’t from the store, installing it is a bad idea” and it clicked in my head that my update had probably failed because of this and not because of GGG. Unfortunately as the file has been deleted, I now needed to wait for the Updater to re-run the Allocated Space (about 45 mins minimum) AND download the game again (hello Unifi why am I getting speeds of only 200+KB?).

Moral of the story? Be patient kids.

Find unread emails for Outlook

If you are like me and you hate having to click through 500 different menus to find your unread email in Outlook, here’s the command for the search filter:

isread:no

You’re welcome. * muttergrumbles about Word making it unnecessarily hard * What is wrong with just telling people on your Help page that the command is that?

PS: In Gmail, it’s:

in:unread

[Quickie] i-Rocks Crystal USB Keyboard

i-Rocks Crystal USB Keyboard in Black on my office desk

TL;DR: The i-Rocks Crystal USB Keyboard, also known as i-Rocks IK6, is an actually pretty decent piece of hardware, great for the sale price I got it at, but definitely not at full price.

So a few days ago I was at Digital Mall with the Bear after watching Guardians of the Galaxy. We were browsing for a cheap keyboard for me to use in the office; the keyboard on the Dell Latitude I was using drove me nuts.

As it turns out, it was Labour Day weekend, and so everyone was having a sale. We passed by Jayacom and saw people lining up like crazy. Bear and I decided to skip that queue and just go on our normal route when in Digital Mall. This means heading up to AllIT and working our way down.

When we came down an hour and a half later, I was already half-set on getting a cheap RM19 keyboard from V-tec (despite seeing an e-View at RM17 but that was mushy as hell) when I came across the Jayacom Labour Day sale.

The first thought that went through my mind was “Ah, so that was the crazy queue.” The second, of course, was to see what they have. As it turns out, they still had stock of the keyboard deals. Of the three, only one was not a keyboard bundle.

They still had 2 units left of the i-Rocks Crystal USB keyboard, aka the IK6.

I actually still had my doubts about the keyboard even after buying it, mainly because the videos about the sound was quite loud. I wasn’t sure if my colleagues were going to kill me when they heard it.

As it turns out, it’s a case of “it sounds loud on video, but is really quiet in real life.” Which it is. The i-Rocks is very soft compared to even some of the membrane keyboards I tested, but it has this really nice solid feel when typing. At the very least, the rate of errors I made during the test was far lower than it had been on the Latitude.

And in case you wanted to know what I was typing, check it out below. Note that I didn’t use the entire video, just parts of it as the OnePlus 2’s mic actually picked up the conversations in the office.

This is a rather quick typing and sound test to see how loud the key is in real life.

If you listen to a lot of videos, the iRocks, which is supposed to be mechanical, sounds really loud. However, in actual life, they are very muted. In fact, I think they are actually much more silent than even a good old Dell or Logitech rubber dome, depending on which you get.

This video was taken in my office, and I shall stop the recording now because I think that is enough for the day.

[Geekiness] Batch wav to mp3 conversion

Girl with headphones. Image by Matthew Henry on Stocksnap.io

This happened while I was trying to convert my Yuta Tanaka CD that the Wind_Goddess returned. I had already ripped the audio to wav, and now I wanted a mp3 batch.

Here’s the silly thing. The first few results told me to download random software, and I forgot I had the best batch wav to mp3 conversion software already on my PC.

Hello Audacity, you lovely little thing!

So here’s how you do a batch wav to mp3 conversion.

Easy Batch .wav to .mp3 conversion with Audacity

Step one: Import music files into Audacity

Step 1: Open Audacity. Drag and drop your files into the window. If you are going to make any changes to your music, then use the Make a copy of the files option as your import method. Otherwise, Read the files directly from the original should do the trick.

Note: you will need to select this for every file you’re importing, so I recommend doing it in small batches unless you want to spend the next 10 minutes clicking “Ok.”

Step 2: Export Multiple from File

Step 2: Once they’ve all been imported, select “Export Multiple.”

Step 3: Selecting your export format and other details
Step 3: This is where it gets fun. Specify your format and the bit rate. Then select Split files based on tracks. When naming files, the easiest is to Use Label/Track name.

When you click on Export, the usual metadata box will appear, and you can populate the details as needed. By the way, this is also a manual, file-by-file process, so if you have hundreds of files, you may be here a while.

And then while it converts, go and have an ice-cream or have a drink and sandwich before coming back to your new mp3 files! Many thanks to this Audacity thread for the help!