So Long, 2017!

Wow.

Didn’t expect December to sneak up on me so fast.

Sorry this blog has been so inactive the past few months. I’ve not updated it for a variety of reasons, but the chief is mainly lack of energy and inspiration, plus battling with the feeling that my screams were going into the void.

As funny as it may seem, a combination of Nanowrimo, low self-esteem at work and trying to journal every day via WriteADay (which has failed whenever I am at home and have access to GDocs and am too lazy to look at phone) has basically encouraged me to write.

In terms of setting down hours to write.

I noticed I now have short spurts where I feel I need to be writing. Not necessarily creating, because that word means a completely different thing to me, but just to be putting down words.

And that digressed pretty wildly.

So I’m writing this just to mention a few things:

Blog updates

  • RSS Feeds:
    I’m killing Feedburner. It’s long overdue; I’ve been putting it off simply because Feedburner itself is still running.

    • Subscribed via RSS readers and/or browsers: If you’ve subscribed anytime before today (4 December, 2017) via your browser’s services I think you should be fine.
    • Email subscribers: You’ll need to re-subscribe, sorry! I’ve got a widget in the sidebar for it.
  • Changed themes: Mainly due to previous theme somehow ending up switching my “Previous Posts” page with the RSS feed page from Feedburner (which is also why it has been removed). This theme is much simpler and cleaner, I hope.

  • More postings? Probably. The biggest obstacle I have to overcome is the inertia to write and publish. It’s been… weird and sad to say the least.

Life updates

This year has been fairly interesting. A few notable milestones:

  • Finances
    I bit the bullet and dug deep into one of my emergencies fund to clear off my credit card debts. My study loan too, should be repaid in full by the end of the month. This means that in January, I should be hopefully only be saddled by long-term debt aka my housing and car loans.

  • Shopping
    I admit I bought a lot of things this year. Unlike previous years though, I don’t think I went that crazy, but among the noticeable purchases were:

    • Bought a new car, because my old one was condemned and my brother wanted his MyVi back.
    • New HP – I got the Galaxy Note FE (aka the Note 7) which was also one of the reasons why I decided to simply clear off all my credit card debts.
    • Bought a new monitor too, to replace the one my brother lent me all those years ago. I consider this payback for having to deal with his crazy ex.
  • Health
    This year has been about recovery. Refilling the creative well. While I’d like to think I’ve been fairly successful, a few things have stood out:

    • End of year slump
      Towards the last quarter of the year, I often get itchy butt syndrome. I notice this is also accompanied by a dip in productivity and errors made.

    • Return of the viral fever
      I had viral fever earlier this year. Took me out for almost a week. To top it off, I also had rashes at the end of the the fever. The itch was really bad and annoying because why in the world did I get rashes after the fact?

    • Hello weight gain
      I have stopped running for the past few years and suddenly I’m larger than I’m used to (gone from a size XS/S to a M/L depending on the cutting). While I like the size of my boobs, the fat around my waist has me worried, so I will probably take up Pokemon Go as an excuse to walk and exercise more outside of mall running (I work in a mall now, window shopping is a legitimate exercise).

What’s next in 2018?

My wishes are simple: more cash (period, I just want more money) and healthier lifestyle.

My goals on the other hand, have nothing to do with my wishes (ha!). All I wanna do is write the two stories I have bouncing around in my head and sell some more to others. Simple, aren’t they?

The voice in my head is laughing at me, in case you were wondering.

Have a good 2018 everyone!

[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.

What does “new preview” mean for Facebook Pages?

Facebook new preview

So for the past few weeks, I’ve been getting notifications from Facebook that my various pages have had new views or a new preview.

Now, “New Views” has a very simple answer. They are simply how many people have gone to your page for the first time to see what your page is all about. More New Views basically mean more people discovering your page. Whether they like is another matter.

“Previews” on the other end, was much more nebulous. What did a new preview for a Facebook page mean?

The answer, as it turns out, was stupidly simple, but in Facebook’s usual way, obscured. And the fact that this surfaced for me in a Facebook business post instead of a news post means they’re either testing it or they’ve introduced a new feature that no one has found useful.

What does a Facebook page preview mean?

It simply means that someone hovered over your Page’s name to see a preview of your page’s content. That’s it.

At a glance, it may not seem useful, but if your business depends on people discovering your Facebook page and liking your posts then these Page Previews are a good way to see why potential fans are not converting.

Also, there are new metrics to show the age and gender of those who previewed your page but didn’t like it, so you can determine if you’re hitting your age group or not.

Useful or not? Depends, but I’m hoping at least this answers the question. The first answer on that Facebook business page is a completely useless error message. It was Benji’s answer that made more sense.

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