February 2012


Ready to geek out? I knew you were! What’s the best order to watch the Star Wars movies in?

This dude Rod Hilton claims to have solved the puzzle.  And you know, I think the man makes sense.

His solution: 4, 5, 2, 3, 6.  This combine two ideas:

  • It keeps the Vader reveal, and deepens it with a two-movie backstory.  Two movies about Luke, two about Vader.   The cliffhanger at the end of 5 works even better.
  • Bag 1 entirely.  None of it turns out to be necessary, and you lose the most annoying parts of the series (Jar-Jar, midichlorians).

He admits that 2 isn’t very good, but it’s necessary to understand 3.

Now personally I’d go with: 4, 5, 6.  Then go play KOTOR.  If you’re insomniac in cable hell some night and 3 is on, watch it, drinking some J.D. from the little fridge, otherwise leave the prequels alone.  But if that seems too severe, follow Hilton’s advice.

Wow.  I like Keith Loutit’s tilt-shift videos, but this one done with Jarbas Agnelli is exceptional.

The City of Samba from Jarbas Agnelli on Vimeo.

Rio on the ground isn’t anywhere as beautiful, but from a heigth the mountains, ocean, and skyscrapers are a treat. Plus Carnaval!

So, you’re undoubtedly wondering what I’ve been playing lately.  Mostly Deus Ex and Skyrim, and there’s plenty left to do in each.

Detroit felt kind of tinny; I think they did a much better job with Hengsha.  To begin with, it’s built in two levels… i.e., there’s a normal city with skycrapers, and then, built on really big pillars, a whole ‘nother level on top.

Let's hope they didn't skimp on reinforcement rods

Plus, I dunno, they just seem to have had more fun with it; it’s a way more interesting place. I spent a long time just walking around exploring, hearing conversations in English and Mandarin. (Should have been Wu, but I guess they didn’t want that level of accuracy.)   Most inexplicable sight so far: a building lot filled with haphazardly placed a/c units, piled up several stories tall.

I’ve been getting into a groove as Jensen, too. I try not to kill anyone who’s not a terrorist or merc. So far I’ve mostly snuck into places and knocked off guards one by one. I like Malik so I’m helping her out with a side mission. I have a few praxis point to burn– haven’t decided what yet.

I gotta say that the character models are subpar for a game released in 2011. Clunky, with bad animations.  There’s something off about most of the female models– faces too small, I think.  Malik is the only one that looks right.

I’ve also been back in Skryim. For now I’m on the main quest. It’s still one of the prettiest games ever. This pretty much blew me away:

There were some suburbs, but they fell into the ocean

That’s the capital, Solitude.  There are a lot of beautiful natural vistas in Skyrim, but this is the first townscape in Skyrim (or Cyrodiil) that’s really wowed me.  Mostly Bethesda’s towns are well done, indeed just what you’d want a medieval town to look like, but not awesome.  But this one is pretty amazing.  It makes me want to create at least one really astonishing city in Almea.

After 16 years, the online Language Construction Kit was in need of an overhaul.  And here it is!

http://www.zompist.com/kit.html

It’s been Unicoded and generally prettified, I’ve greatly expanded the phonetics section, and corrected a number of errors or obscurities.  (In most cases this meant bringing in text from the print LCK, but not always.) 

There’s also two entirely new pages!  One is a guide on writing your grammar.  It covers outlining, how to create paradigms, how to write glosses, how to know when you’re done.

Plus, I’ve created a Javascript vocabulary creation program, gen. It runs in your browser, so I don’t have to make versions for multiple operating systems.  The neat thing about it is that it chooses possibilities according to a power law, rather than assigning all of them the same probability.  This is far more naturalistic.

This is a great little comic, by Boulet– nom de BD of Gilles Roussel.  (If you know French, read the original instead, as Boulet’s translation is wonky in places.)  I think it’ll speak to any guy who’s had a friend who has inexplicable success with women.

It starts out a little slow, but soon picks up, and I love the way he adds just a bit of surrealism that reinforces the story.  Don’t miss the glass of whisky that turns into Count Chocula.

What’s most impressive is that it’s a 24 hour comic.

Amazon provides authors with some fun sales reporting tools, such as this one— a chart of US print sales by region:

(I redid the text portions to make it sprawl a bit less.)

Go, Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago, and Detroit!  If I ever do a book tour, I know where to go!

Sadly, the chart doesn’t show foreign lands, which make up about a third of my print sales over this period, nor Kindle, which are about 30% of my total sales.  I wish I could get more than 2 months of data at once, too.

If you’re curious, total LCK sales are now over 2100, and PCK sales above 550.  Those are fantastic numbers for basically no publicity, and I’m very grateful.  It’s also why I’m prioritizing writing another linguistics book over getting more novels out there.  (APAF sales have inched up to 55.  On the plus side, the people who’ve read it seem to like it!  Go buy a copy and you’ll see!)

I’m on page 134 of LCK2, by the way.  My desk consists of a pile of linguistics books right now, and I need to get more to get up to speed on some of the more obscure subjects.

I keep trying to convince my clever but lazy friends to publish with Yonagu.  I may have a bite on the line!  More on that later.

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