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Quick First Sunday Update of 2018

I’d have written a personal post on a Sunday either way, but the plan was to write about planting trees yesterday and leave the other stuff for next week, so it wouldn’t really have been what I mean by the “Sunday updates” I mean to avoid. But between needing to interact with people and being around so many all that time yesterday, being just exhausted after the work and so little sleep, and the computer issues which continue, I’m quite a mess. More so than usual, I mean. So I pretty much just sat here, watched a couple of things, didn’t even continue that 11th “Divine Empire” scenario in Disciples that I started Friday, even though I’d say that’d have been a “safe” thing to do on the computer, and I’m only getting around to throwing a quick post here now.

About Emsisoft, the issue that causes it to invisibly disable at least the surf protection and behavior blocker modules repeated itself, but I had debug logging enabled for the past few days and last night I caught it when it happened, twice. Also caught a crash, though that seems to have only been of the interface, and I seem to remember some release notes mentioning something about such occasional crashes. So I sent those logs last night, among quite a series of e-mails I rather flooded the support guy with, even though the amount of detail in those things makes me feel like somebody sat here in my room and looked over my shoulder for the entire period covered, and the fact that they’re in plain text makes it even worse.
Didn’t get a reply yet, or at least there wasn’t one when I last checked my e-mail this evening, but let’s see what happens, because the issue repeated itself once today as well. I think that’s actually the first time it happened during the day, as so far I was noticing an odd pattern of it only happening at night, and it also broke another pattern I was noticing, having to do with what I had open. It maintained another one though, having to do with what it logs as having blocked just before it fails, and something the support guy mentioned in passing during our exchange so far actually made me suspect a potential cause having to do with that now that I thought about it, and I changed something which should make it not happen again if I’m right, but I really think I did my part in sorting this out either way. Now the ball’s in their court and sure hope they’ll fix it quickly, so I won’t have to worry about anything like this again!

Other than that, on top of the sunburn and the torn blister and the other spots that sting or are sore after yesterday, last night I also “managed” to burn my left upper arm as I was trying to iron some of my clothes. Had the iron close to me on the table, reached over it and my arm touched the tip. Moved away immediately, so it’s not a bad burn, but I’m left with a red area in the shape of that tip, stretched as my arm briefly moved over it, which stings a fair bit. Or it did until I put a bandage there after waking up today, as it hasn’t been that much of a problem after that. That torn blister on my right thumb does get in the way though, as it stings quite a lot. The sunburn on the back of my neck still bothers me a little as well if I try to turn my head, and would rather not touch that area if I can help it, but I initially feared I won’t even be able to put my head on the pillow last night and that wasn’t a problem. Taking a shower, earlier that night, wasn’t too nice though.

But at least I slept pretty well today. Being dehydrated as well as exhausted helped with that, as I didn’t wake up to go to the toilet at all, and didn’t even feel the need to go when I woke up at some point during the morning, probably due to dad making some noise, so I only got up around 1:45 PM. Actually thought it was later at first, but it’s good enough I guess, even if it was around 5:15 AM when I finally got in bed last night. Had only finished eating a little over half an hour before, after I rather lost track of time while taking that shower and then dad also asked me to translate a quick statement, and considering all the Emsisoft mess I was sorting out and the mood that put me in. Even left what I used in the sink, not washing right away, which I really don’t do.

Speaking of sleep, though I’ll otherwise leave aside the stuff related to planting trees now, I’ll add here that, seeing as I had to be at the meeting place at 7:30 AM and would have therefore needed to wake up no later than at 6 AM, I tried to sleep earlier instead. So it wasn’t even 9:30 PM when I first got in bed and maybe managed to get about half an hour of sleep, or up to half an hour, before getting up to go to the bathroom at about 10:20 PM. But that was the easy part, as before 11 PM I tend to be sleepy, while after that I usually “wake up” whether I nap or not. So after tossing and turning for a while when I got back in bed, I got up a few minutes after 11 PM and was at the computer until almost 12:30 AM, when I got back in bed… And tossed and turned for the next couple of hours, getting up to go to the toilet once again as well, a few minutes before 2 AM. It was likely almost 2:30 AM when I finally managed to fall asleep, and about 3:40 AM when I woke up again. So I got up at that point, as I hadn’t eaten or gotten ready that night, so I meant to get up no later than at 4 AM in order to have a chance to do it all.

But this ended up having over 1000 words again, plus that it’s getting close to midnight, so I’ll end it here. Hope to write the post about planting trees soon as well, but maybe not tomorrow, because I won a free ticket to Untamed Romania last week, valid only until Friday, and I’m thinking of using it tomorrow. Was thinking of going on a day when I’ll also go buy some things and there’s little reason to do that tomorrow, as I’m not out of anything yet, but I could still have a look, and maybe it’s better like this anyway, because when I’ll go buy things I’ll check out all the places again and therefore won’t be able to afford spending that time watching the film except perhaps after I’ll be done, dropping everything off first and then going back. So it couldn’t be something done “since I was there” either way.

Written by Cavalary on April 15, 2018 at 11:33 PM in Personal | 0 Comments

Serious Emsisoft Issues and Still Not Recovering My Speed

After the odd BOINC and SETI@home issues from a week before, which were at least most likely caused by my system messing with the time in a way that it seems to do each year around that date, this week something far more serious is wrong with my computer, and it happened three times so far, at least that I’m aware of, and I still have no idea what’s causing it. I’m referring to the fact that the surf protection and behavior blocker modules of Emsisoft Anti-Malware seem to simply stop working invisibly, as in they appear to be enabled but no longer do anything. The file guard still seems to work, at least in the sense that it detects the EICAR test file, but those, and possibly also other things I’m not yet aware of, no longer protect anything until I disable protection and enable it again. Shutting down the program completely and starting it again seems to have no effect, nor does disabling and enabling individual modules.
As far as I’m aware, this first happened Monday night, likely just after 1:30 AM, but some 30 more minutes passed before I noticed that something wasn’t being blocked and about as much again before I actually realized what was going on. Even tried to create rules to block sites and then visit them, and there were no blocks, so the surf protection module was obviously not working at all, and later, when I thought of it after the issue reappeared, around 4 AM, I also removed two behavior blocker rules and there were no prompts about those programs either, so that wasn’t working either. Also, when I first shut down the program completely, Windows didn’t detect that I was unprotected and there was no entry in event logs. After starting it again and disabling protection, Windows did detect it, and when I shut down the program after that, there was an entry in event logs, and when I started it again and enabled protection, the problem seemed to have fixed itself. But it was already after 3 AM and, like I said, it happened again not long after that. Then, after I rebooted that night and it didn’t happen again until after I installed the Windows updates last evening and rebooted in order to do that, it happened again around midnight last night. Disabling protection and enabling it again, without shutting down the program, fixed it again, but something very serious is obviously going on.
I obviously sent a support message Monday night and kept discussing the matter since then, but so far there’s no hint of a possible cause, much less of a solution. Good and helpful attitude, talking to a real person who does actually care, yes, that’s what I expect and receive from Emsisoft support, but actual solutions to problems, or for that matter any influence on the direction of development, those tend to have to do with the developers and the guy at the top, so the support people can’t actually do much of anything, through no fault of their own. But I also enabled debug logging, even though the information collected there, in plain text, spells out pretty much everything you do on the computer and I’d therefore be very wary of sending it, so let’s see if they will get to the bottom of this after all, because it’s a critical issue, leaving me pretty much unprotected with no warning like this.
What’s stranger is that it didn’t start immediately after it updated to a new version either, as that happened I believe some five or so days earlier; can’t be more specific because ever since they made the program instead of the user decide the size of logs, I barely get two days of logging displayed. Also didn’t start after applying Windows updates, as I said I did that last evening, nor did it start after the updates were released, which was Tuesday evening, to say that maybe somebody had figured out a way to exploit one of the patched vulnerabilities immediately and I happened to be a victim of it, and applying the patches after the fact doesn’t stop an existing and undetectable infection. And it didn’t start around the same time as the previous week’s issues either, so no reason to believe it may be connected to what caused that. It may, or may not, be something that has to do with the version it updated to, but there clearly is another trigger involved.

With all of that in mind, or at least with the part of it that took place Monday night, I ran on Tuesday. Pushed as hard as I could, trying to clear my mind a little, and I got back to ten kilometers, but I obviously still haven’t recovered my speed, as the time was 49:44, with sector times of 4:18, 5:07, 6:04, 4:30, 5:11, 6:04, 4:40, 5:26, 6:24 and 2:00, making for lap times of 15:29, 15:45 and 16:30. Started very fast, knowing I’ll tire and get slower later but just wanting to push as much as I could every step of the way, and the first lap was good enough, but the second was already slower than what would be needed to stay under 49 minutes and it only got worse after that. And I also somehow got a bruise under one of my toenails, so let’s see how that will go…
Admittedly, there were plenty of people in the park, I had to find my way through, slow down, at times even briefly stop, including a moment right at the start of the final sector when, after not managing to decide which side to pass each other on, I let a cyclist coming from the opposite direction pass in front of me before the stairs and then found myself almost running into a woman holding hands with a child on each side and sort of danced in front of them for a couple of seconds before she let the hand of one of the children go and I could pass between them. On top of that, I also had a slight cramp in my left calf pretty much from the start and I stopped for a couple of seconds at the start of the first lap’s second sector to feel that muscle a bit, just pushing through after that. Yet this really was all I had and I managed a time that was exactly a minute faster on January 1, when there were even more people in the park and I had slept a fair bit less as well, so that’s no excuse. The fact that I had rather stuffed myself the night before and then ate things one shouldn’t eat before running after waking up that day as well likely also had an effect, but not sure whether it all added up to those 45 seconds needed to at least get back under 49 minutes, and it definitely didn’t add up to the difference to my best times, when I also pushed as hard as I could every step of the way.

Other than that, finished the tenth “Divine Empire” scenario in Disciples Monday, after starting it the day before, and yesterday I had a look through the usual three hypermarkets and those two farmers’ markets again. Just had a little money left, and found a 0.50 RON coin on the street and took another after connecting a cart someone left at the free bus stop at Auchan, when the bus came, to the others left next to the stop. But just wanted some vegetables anyway, and got them all from the bigger farmers’ market in the area, which was the last place I went to, actually finding some more cheap cabbage from one person and unusually cheap radishes from another. That first person gave me one torn 1 RON bill, with that part held by tape, among the change though, and when I tried to pay for some green garlic with it, the guy there rejected it. But I then held the bill from the torn bit when I handed it to the person I got some lettuce from and she didn’t say anything, though I also left right away after paying. Did just go to the next person selling something though, for the last couple of things, so she could have shouted after me if she’d have really wanted to.
A somewhat embarrassing thing that happened was at the start of this “circuit”, when I was passing through the area around the stadium and some guys on one of the fields there kicked a ball over the tall fence surrounding it. The ball landed right next to me and bounced away, and I just ran after it, meaning to give it back to them without really wondering how. Probably made a bit of a fool of myself even then, actually, because when I caught up with it I tried to grab it and missed, so kept going as it bounced again over my head and landed behind me. Then I missed again, letting it slip between my hands, when I tried to grab it again after turning, only managing to do so on the third attempt. And then, after getting back with it to the fence, I realized how tall it was and that I likely won’t be able to throw it over it. Did make an attempt, taking a few steps back and running a bit before throwing, but trying to put enough height on the throw meant it didn’t even reach the fence, going pretty much straight up, barely reaching what would have been the top of it even so, and then coming back down next to me. The guys suggested kicking it, but there was no way I could have managed that, so they then suggested throwing it in another way and that actually did work, barely. Then I found myself just running away from there, too embarrassed by the whole thing. Can’t even say that I just wanted to help because I didn’t even think about it, running after that ball to give it back was almost a reflex, but what happened after that sure made me feel like shit.

Written by Cavalary on April 12, 2018 at 9:40 PM in Personal | 0 Comments

Being Seconds Faster Over a Half Marathon Distance and the Rest of the Week

To continue from the end of the previous personal post, I’ll actually need to start with Sunday, when I managed to complete Her Story, unlocking all remaining videos. Haven’t played anything else since, but at least Tuesday I wrote the review for Her Story as well, even though it’s rather difficult to talk, or in this case to write, about that as one would about a game.

Something weird happened that night, when my computer decided to set the clock forward by another hour. According to logs, that happened at 2:13 AM and I didn’t realize it when I got back after eating, only noticing after 3:03 AM, when it synchronized with a time server, for some reason for the first time since March 12, and my connection reset twice as the time was set back to what it should have been. Or perhaps my connection reset first and that prompted it to synchronize, but the times are weird either way, though the logs state that this happened last year as well, also at odd times.
It actually took me a moment to realize the time issue even then, because Micky had slipped into my room again earlier, when I left the door open a crack behind me because I wanted to go back to the kitchen for something and she ran past me, again heading straight for the desk, as I tried to make her go back by walking to her, so I thought she might have gotten behind the computer and moved that cable again, and the effect only appeared later. But I did handle things differently then, walking slowly out, getting what I had to get from the kitchen, then slowly coming back and finding her trying to get under everything on my bed again, not under the desk or behind the computer, so I could pick her up easily.
Either way, once I realized what had happened and checked the logs, I pretty much shrugged and assumed that was the end of it… Only to check running processes some 45 or 50 minutes later and find that my CPU was not at 100% and only one SETI@home work unit was running. Checked BOINC Manager and it showed two as running, but it looked as if it was making no progress. Suspended them, they showed up as suspended, but no others started, nothing was logged, in fact nothing but two connection attempts being logged between the time the clock was moved forward and when I restarted the Manager, and checking running processes revealed no change. Tried to close BOINC Manager, also telling it to stop work, and while the Manager itself closed, the other processes, including the one started then, remained there, and later I saw a timeout in system logs. So I forced them all, including the work unit, closed, then started it all up again, starting boinctray.exe manually since that didn’t start on its own, but I saw the tray icon anyway, so not sure what that does.
After all of that, I saw one work unit, not sure whether the one I forced closed or the one which I guess should have finished before I noticed the issue, immediately quit with an error, but otherwise it seemed to work fine, though I also rebooted before going to bed, things seeming fine after that as well. And there was no repeat of the issue since, the only somewhat odd thing being that it reports my CPU being nearly 2% slower than it should be with integer operations, telling it to run benchmarks a few times producing results within a few points of each other. Reported floating point speed is normal though, and in fact at the high end of the normal range of results.
One more thing I’ll add here is that all of this meant that Monday morning marked probably the first time when my daily backup script had nothing to do. There have been a number of times, since giving up on writing my story, when I realized I hadn’t done anything in any of the folders it checks and made a quick edit in the text file I use for all sorts of notes, or deleted some file I no longer needed but still had lying around, or played a game of Minesweeper, or did some other such little thing just so it’ll have something to do and the log won’t look as if I hadn’t really used the computer that day, but that mess made me no longer think about it in time. I remembered when I was already in bed, but didn’t feel like getting up and turning the monitor back on just to do something for that reason.

Moving on to Monday night, I was actually getting worried about my LAN chipset, because my connection reset several times, but maybe those resets are caused by it detecting that there’s a problem with the data received and trying to reset to see whether that fixes anything. And I’m saying that because there were some windy days then and Tuesday, minutes after I got on the computer, I lost Internet access and was told a cable was torn, so it’s possible that the wind had damaged it and that was when it failed completely, but the damage would have caused issues before that moment as well. And the fact that it didn’t happen again after it got fixed that evening would seem to support this idea as well.

But the most notable thing I did this week was Wednesday, when I covered the distance of a half marathon through the park again, and despite skipping all those runs lately and the fact that there were plenty of people in the park and it was also rather windy at times, I actually managed 1:53:11, beating the previous record, set on the previous such run, which was last April, by all of eight seconds. Sector times were 4:34, 5:23, 6:20, 4:50, 5:25, 6:33, 4:54, 5:34, 6:25, 5:07, 5:37, 6:35, 5:06, 5:40, 6:36, 5:12, 5:49, 6:46, 1:59, 6:47 and 1:59, making for lap times of 16:17, 16:48, 16:53, 17:19, 17:22 and 17:47, plus 10:45 for the final part. So, compared to a year ago, I gained 18 seconds over the first lap and five over the third, but lost three over the second, 13 over the fourth, one over the fifth and six over the sixth, getting to the end of the six full laps in exactly the same time as back then… And then gaining those eight seconds over that last part, six of them over its first sector and one over each of the next two. Since I was in damage limitation mode since lap four, having the lap times from a year ago memorized and seeing how much I had lost then and that I kept losing time after that as well, that seemed rather unlikely at that point, but I just pushed and it happened.
Felt quite good from start to end though, and also after, when I wasn’t as tired as I thought I’d be and my legs and joints didn’t bother me as much as I thought they would. Did do a few things to prepare for this run, but in the end it was a matter of getting out there and just running 21.1 kilometers after having my running schedule get so messed up lately, managing it without hitting a wall or noticing any problems. Again didn’t even feel like I was about to shit myself either, and that’s a good thing, because I didn’t even take garlic with me again. Had two of those mint and eucalyptus candies, but felt no need for those either, so just took one after I was done, as I was walking back and going through all the times in my mind, to make sure I was remembering them correctly.

I did something to a muscle that night though. And it didn’t have to do with my legs, but with my left upper arm, where I felt like something tore a bit as I stretched to the bathroom window and pulled it back open, when I went there before eating and saw that dad had closed it even though we had both had a bath that evening and there was still a lot of moisture all over the walls and mirror. Think I even noticed a little purple line forming, but it was very faint and went away the next day, though moving in certain ways or holding the arm in certain positions still caused that spot to sting a bit. There may actually be a trace of that sensation left even now, sometimes, but only notice it if I specifically pay attention, so it wasn’t anything bad, at least.

In spite of the previous day’s run and the arm issue, Thursday I went out again, to buy some things, checking out three hypermarkets and two farmers’ markets… And “managing” to trick myself out of two apples, or maybe three if I’d have added some of another kind, as those are smaller, in the first market. The person selling them “helped” me do so, but whether she did it on purpose or simply followed my lead and didn’t realize it, I don’t know, because I first stopped adding apples on the scale when I got to about 1.2 kg, which would have been 3 RON, then muttered that I’ll add some more and stopped again when I went just over 1.4 kg, somehow thinking that it’ll cost 4 RON and meaning to replace one with a smaller one, so I won’t go over. At that point she said it’s all right to leave it as it is and asked for 4 RON, which I already thought I had to pay, after actually looking at the price tag again, so I paid, took the apples and only realized that I should have gotten 1.6 kg instead of 1.4 after going around the corner and arranging my money back in my pocket. Did consider going right back and seeing whether I could add the few more apples I had actually paid for, but decided against it.
Another issue that day was that I tried to get a code to recharge my phone card, so it’ll be active when I’ll go to plant trees, but I first tried to do that at the store next to Auchan and was told their printer didn’t work, so they could either charge my number directly, which I didn’t want because I didn’t want to start the active period then, or I could take a picture of the code with my phone, which didn’t exactly strike me as a reliable solution, so I just said “another time” and left. But then eventually did get the code from the store in the mall that’s close to the other farmers’ market, so I sorted that out as well. And also got some cheap lettuce from that second market, which means I’ll take even longer to make a salad these days, but I should be able to spend even more hours in the kitchen, so I guess it’s fine for a while, and I hope the prices for cabbage will go back down soon, because the new one just appeared, the year’s first harvest I guess, and this is what’s now available everywhere, at about double the price I was buying cabbage at before. Found some at a somewhat lower price in a small shop I passed by on the way back, but they were all nasty.

And this morning I went out again, going to the farmers’ market again and checking a couple more small shops for cabbage on the way, plus the Carrefour from that mall. Found one shop where it seemed really nice and considered at least getting one on my way back, but eventually decided against it, since I got another lettuce from the market and these go bad quickly, so I’ll need to use them these next few days, and by the time I’ll need something else I should see the next offers from the hypermarkets, after the (Orthodox) Easter days. If there will be nothing interesting and it’ll still look just as nice and the price won’t get even higher, I guess I’ll get one from there next week, when I think I’ll go to that farmers’ market again.

Not sure how many times I’ll manage to go to such markets… When I tried it in previous years I didn’t manage to keep it up for long, considering that the people selling things keep asking what I want or offering things and if I’m to actually buy something I need to stand there, with the person right in front of me and maybe trying to help, or hurry me along, or who knows what, while I pick stuff, which means I’m not thinking anymore and all sorts of stuff may happen, including tricking myself, as I did on Thursday, or worse. But I’ll see how it goes.

Written by Cavalary on April 7, 2018 at 7:42 PM in Personal | 0 Comments

Review: Her Story

This is a rather difficult review to write, in good part because calling Her Story a game may be questionable. It’s an interesting experiment, an interesting use of the medium, and there is something to do and progress if you do it right. Unlike a fair number of others which are clearly games, there’s even a point where it may be considered “completed”, which will typically come after the moment when you get the option to “finish” it, so there’s an end state as well. So it meets the criteria, more than a number of others do, but… Perhaps it’d be more accurate to say that it’s difficult to talk, or in this case to write, about it as one would about a game? Yes, that seems like a better way to put it…

Even though you’re thrown straight into it, after only a plain title screen, the fact that you see a relatively normal desktop should make the interface familiar enough for anyone, and specific instructions are in files anyone should know to read. Of course, I keep seeing that the typical user doesn’t read, which continues to baffle me, but one may get away with it even so, maybe finding a few specific functions on their own later, maybe sticking to the basic ones and reaching the end state even so. A few things need to be discovered by the player anyway, and that only requires doing things one would normally do when looking for something on a desktop.
Speaking of additional features, there is one which is a nice touch, and possibly also a clue, but saying more about it may count as a spoiler so I won’t. Other than that, it’d have been dreadful if videos you didn’t watch wouldn’t have been marked, so it’s a good thing they are. And having the date and time in the corner of each and readable in the thumbnails as well may also prove particularly useful at times. That may also be the case for the search history, though I personally didn’t use it. One option I did use, on the other hand, was the filter that does away with the “old monitor” look and makes the image look as it would on a more modern one. Some may see the default look as part of the atmosphere, but for me the “old VHS” quality of the videos, which can’t be improved, was bad enough and I didn’t want to put up with more if I could avoid it, so it’s a good thing that option exists, even if it seems to come at a slight cost.

But the entire game, if it may indeed be called one, relies on those videos and on the performance of the actress, which is indeed excellent. I wouldn’t call it flawless, but maybe the flaws one may spot and, perhaps even more so, the exaggerations aren’t mistakes, but there for a very good reason, clues in themselves. Or maybe not, but the whole is too good to make that not only possible, but highly probable. And, as a side note, while some seem to have found it out of place or at least too drawn out, I quite enjoyed the bit where she sings.
Also particularly commendable is the fact that they managed to make the whole thing work and make sense, inasmuch as any of it does, despite the fact that the player may discover answers in any order and doesn’t get to hear any of the questions. And yes, I can confirm that you can discover every last one of the 271 videos, which have a total play time of just over one hour and 35 minutes, without cheating in any way. A few may prove difficult and a short series, which is irrelevant anyway due to the missing questions, requires the use of a certain search function, but they are indeed all possible to unlock by playing normally.
All of this requires a script that was very carefully constructed, and that’s on top of the complexity of the case itself, all the stories told and the fact that it needs to provide at least some motivation to continue searching even if you may well find what may be the most relevant answers early on. Sometimes pulling all of it off does come at the cost of some answers not sounding quite natural, but that happens less than one would expect, considering everything, and once again I must point out that some of these apparent flaws may not be mistakes. As such, to use terms quite appropriate considering the matter at hand, there’s sufficient reasonable doubt to make it difficult to build a strong case claiming that any of them are.

That said, it’s difficult to point out actual flaws in general. The fact that the time doesn’t skip as much as it should between answers, especially in a few particular places, is an odd slip though. And one feature I clearly missed was the ability to automatically sort the videos added to the current session in chronological order. You can drag them manually, but doing so is so terribly tedious, also due to how few thumbnails can be viewed at once, that if you want to watch them in order inside the game you may be better off just scrolling through them and looking at the time stamps. Plus that, while I did this a few more times before giving up and it didn’t happen again, the first time I changed the position of a video I saw that it moved back to its original place once I added a new one to the session, so even that tedious manual sorting may not work as it should all the time.
Still, that may not be that much of a problem if you consider how you can easily watch all the videos, preferably after unlocking them in the game if you don’t want to cheat and spoil it for yourself. So the one real problem that I really want to point out is actually the one that’s certainly completely intentional and perhaps even the main point of this experiment, and by that I mean the lack of an actual conclusion. You can “complete” the game when you find all the videos and you can “finish” it when you choose to do so, after you find enough of the important ones for the game to offer the option, but the only thing you’re left with is the conclusion you arrived at yourself, if you arrived at one at all. Just like you don’t hear the investigator’s questions, you don’t see the conclusion of the investigation or anything else to tell you what actually happened, what the right answer is. You are asked the question, or at least one of them, but the game can’t know, and therefore can’t check, what you mean by saying yes.

So, is Her Story interesting? Yes. Is it an actual game? Probably, but definitely not in a typical sense. Is it worth playing, experiencing directly, as opposed to simply doing a quick search for the videos and watching them all put together, in order, if you’re curious about it? Maybe… Or maybe not. Only you can answer that for yourself… Which is perhaps the only proper way to conclude a review for a game which asks the player to draw their own conclusion, isn’t it?

Written by Cavalary on April 3, 2018 at 10:52 PM in Gaming | 0 Comments

Running Again, Dropping Off Expired Medicines, Her Story

Finally ran again this week, Thursday, and the result wasn’t quite as embarrassing as two weeks ago. With that being the only run since February 23 and the flu in between as well, it was clearly going to be difficult and I was actually quite afraid before actually doing it, which was also one of the reasons why I gave up on an initial plan to run twice this week, Wednesday and Friday. I did go for 16 kilometers again though, both because I was certainly going to once again be too slow on ten and because I need to cover a half marathon distance next week and therefore running less than half of it now wasn’t exactly going to help much before jumping straight to that after such a break.
The time was 1:23:51, which is at least better than the 1:24:06 managed when I first covered this distance, though worse than the 1:23:45 managed with the temperature below freezing and some snow and patches of ice on the path in January. Sector times were 4:36, 5:26, 6:22, 4:50, 5:26, 6:19, 4:58, 5:41, 6:30, 4:58, 5:29, 6:31, 4:58, 5:25 and 6:22, making for lap times of 16:24, 16:35, 17:09, 16:58 and 16:45. So I could have done a little better, as I realized I was leaving too much after that third lap and pushed a little more on the next two, feeling quite well all the way to the end. Having the fastest second sector on the last lap should offer some evidence of that, even if it was still slow compared to what would have been a normal time.
The temperature was high enough to be able to go wearing just a t-shirt, but the wind was a bit of a problem, and that was part of the reason why I breathed out through my mouth quite a lot. But never breathed in like that, so it was fine. Another problem was the number of people in the park, as I had to weave around a fair bit and briefly slow down a few times, when there was no way through otherwise. Also forgot to tighten my shoelaces just before starting and that resulted in the left one coming loose at the start of lap three, so I lost a few seconds on that first sector when I stopped to tighten it again. Weren’t many seconds, as I caught it before getting completely untied and needing to be tied again, but it was something. The right one was also loose at the end, started noticing it even in the second sector of the last lap, but risked it and it held to the end.

Normally I’d have gone to buy bread and yogurt on Thursday, but after deciding to run then, since I wasn’t going to run twice and that day seemed to have the best weather, I ended up going on Wednesday, first with just the 2 RON I had left and plastic bottles and one can for the recycling machine, hoping to end up with just enough for bread for the rest of the week, so I won’t have to get into anything set aside. That seemed to be a problem at first, as I couldn’t find the machine where it used to be, but as I was walking back with the bags, thinking to look in the underground parking lot and just leave everything there if it won’t be there either, even if that’d mean just getting bread for the next two days, a woman noticed what I was carrying, asked if I had bottles for the machine and where I was taking them, then told me where it had moved and that it works. Then she even spotted me again inside the store and asked whether I had found it. So that was nice… Unlike a taxi driver who spotted the bottles as I walked past him and shouted after me to ask if I wanted the one he had in his hand too, in a way that definitely sounded demeaning. Considered for a moment to say I’m not a garbage man but I guess I’ll do it to encourage recycling and take the few steps back to him and grab it, but his tone made me decide against it, so I just gave him a nasty look, shook my head and kept walking.
Even with the ticket from the machine, it still seemed I won’t have enough to stick to the kind of bread I prefer though, because the listed price was 20% higher than it had been, and 50% higher than before a first increase, which wasn’t that long ago, so I first grabbed one of another kind and then asked for just one from there. However, I noticed that the actual price was still the one I knew, so I guess they hadn’t updated it yet in the system, and that actually would have left me with exactly the 0.43 RON that’s the standard price for a small yogurt from Carrefour when heavily discounted because it expires soon. However, I ended up with 0.53 RON, because the cashier gave me a 0.50 RON coin as change instead of the 0.40 RON she should have given me.
Either way, I did go to Carrefour after that, also because I just missed the free bus that takes me right back here and barely got out in time for the one that takes me part of the way to there. And once there I also had a look at the new locks they installed on the cabinets where you should put stuff you have from elsewhere, which require a 0.50 RON coin to use, so simply left the bread and the bags in one and left it unlocked, as I wouldn’t have had enough for anything if leaving the coin I had there until I’d have retrieved my stuff. That meant I didn’t mean to wander around inside too long, and thought I’ll come right back out when I saw that the place where they put things that expire soon was nearly empty, but I quickly checked the other such spot as well and by the time I got back an employee was placing a whole lot of things in the first one, including some plain yogurt at that standard price, so I grabbed one… And then had to wait behind a bunch of girls who were trying to stuff a whole lot of stuff in a few different cabinets and taking their time about it, until one tried to open the door to the one my things were in and I just reached over her from behind to get my things, saying that one’s mine.
Decided to run nearly all the way back from there, which is only the equivalent of about half a lap around the lake, less than that since there were some parts where I walked, but wearing street clothes, with the jacket on and the bag with the bread hanging from my neck and held with one hand so it won’t swing around, it wasn’t that easy and I was content that I could do it well enough, considering the plan I had for the next day.

Ate something when I got back, but then I went out again, since I could use the metro card, just to pass by the Russian Embassy and leave a small candle for the victims of the fire. An event had been created, between 6:30 PM and 7:30 PM, but I just got there at 7 PM, left the small candle while trying to avoid the cameras as much as possible, had a look around and walked away just a few minutes later, didn’t even spend five minutes there.
Didn’t come right back after that though, since dad had given me more money and the price of bread was likely going to get updated in the system later, so I went back to Auchan instead and got all the bread of that kind that was left. It actually wasn’t enough for the entire period I wanted to cover, so I grabbed two more of another kind as well, but it was still a good thing I still found some, because I saw them run out of this kind even two or more hours earlier before. Not sure whether they made some more later than usual or people turned away when they saw the higher listed price, not knowing it hadn’t actually increased yet, but it meant I could still find some. Then I quickly grabbed yogurt for the entire period as well and made my way out just in time to catch the free bus that takes me back here. Actually caught it at the exit at the other end from where the stop actually is, but I went straight there, knowing I’ll be late otherwise, and people often wait there as well, so the drivers know to stop if anyone makes a sign.

Still Wednesday, when I got back in the evening I saw my mother making pancakes, so later I ate a few… And somehow “managed” to swallow a part of one in a way that felt like swallowing a rock. It really hurt as it went down, felt like it was tearing things apart on its way, and I seemed to be spitting blood again after that. Had been spitting quite a lot of it while having the flu, was actually getting quite scared until that seemed to sort itself out, so that made me worried again, even more so since something still felt wrong when I went to bed that night and I still wasn’t quite swallowing normally the next day either. But there was no more blood coming from there when I woke up and whatever was wrong seems to have sorted itself out since, or at least so I hope.

Moving on to Friday, after waking up I went to the pharmacy I had bought the pills that helped me with the flu from back then, wanting to get some more of one kind, since you can keep taking those for months to improve your immunity and I want to reduce the risk of anything of the sort repeating before the half marathon, which is in May, as my training schedule was messed up enough already. And since I was going there I also grabbed a couple of things for my mother as well, after having asked my parents whether they wanted anything that may be cheaper there, plus some band aids and a cream I’m using. Actually couldn’t find the exact kind I’ve been using, but this should be close enough, so hope it’ll keep doing its job when I’ll finish the one I currently have.
But I didn’t go there just to get things, but also to drop off a bag of expired medicines I had gathered, at first putting aside a few I found while having the flu and then actually going through everything that was in the kitchen Thursday evening, most ending up in that bag, plenty having been expired for around five years and a couple of things, which I believe were essential oils, even for more than ten. It was going to be the first time I was going to do that, but one obviously shouldn’t just throw away drugs and the law actually states that, and also that pharmacies are required to accept expired medicines from people in order to properly dispose of them.
The problem is the procedure, and in my case in particular the fact that I didn’t know it. Had sent a message to the pharmacy Thursday evening to ask how this goes and was told to just go there with them and a document will be filled, but then got no other reply when I asked for details. So I ended up asking the guard at the door what to do, being pointed in the right direction and then waiting first until the employee finished with the actual customers, including some who were after me in line, which was pretty normal, and then until she called a coworker to deal with me and he also took his time getting there, which I’d say wasn’t so right.
It was after he arrived that things got really awkward though, as he came with a form and asked for the names, quantities and expiration dates of everything I had, when I expected to just be able to drop it all off, possibly signing something stating that I did so. I got a bit angry then, said I wanted to do a right thing and meant to just leave the bag there regardless of what he said, but he insisted that he won’t do everything alone and we should “work together”, and since I had the stuff in two bags to avoid the risk of tearing, he asked me to take the first bag out of the second and move things to that second bag one by one, after reading the required information to him. And I eventually did that, awkwardly and getting increasingly embarrassed, since I asked whether I could at least come over to his side but was told to stand where I was, which also meant having another customer looking over my shoulder and even commenting at some point and another next to me, while I was at times struggling to pronounce the names, at times being unable to find them, or the expiration dates, in which case the employee at least waved me along. Nothing else he could have done in case of the things that had no labels or no visible expiration dates anyway.
Once it was all done, he also needed to fill in some information from my identity card, and he said it out loud while writing it down. Then he made a copy of the filled form and handed it to me, though on one side you couldn’t see the first part of the names. Not that I have any idea why would I have wanted it anyway; I was just relieved it was over and I could buy what I had to buy and then get out of there. Would have wanted to keep that second plastic bag, but had another that I could use, even if the handle’s torn, so I didn’t mention it, only mumbling that there should be a simpler procedure for this while he was making the copy.
Didn’t want to have to interact with anyone else after that, and at that pharmacy you can simply take some things that don’t require a prescription off shelves yourself, but after finding one of the things my mother asked for and grabbing what I initially went there to get for myself, an older woman asked me whether I had used that medicine before, whether it was any good and then for a few more details after I said I had the flu recently. It wasn’t a bad interaction, but I still needed to get away for a moment before getting back to searching for the other things… And eventually needing to ask an employee, because I couldn’t find them, and to give up on replacing two things which had been among what I had thrown away due to having expired long ago, as I was told that for some reason those simple, common things that definitely don’t require any sort of prescription aren’t available in that part of the pharmacy and I wasn’t going to interact even more to ask for them and choose a brand and a type. But grabbed the band aids instead, as I could at least get those from that area, and also that cream, after searching all over for the specific kind I’ve been using and finding pretty much anything except that, and even asking an employee in the end, and being told that they indeed don’t have that specific one in stock.
Once finally out of there, instead of going right back I kept going and passed through the nearby farmers’ market. Didn’t get anything, nor did I really look that much, but I glanced around enough to get an idea about what started appearing and some prices. Then also went to the Carrefour that’s in the mall that’s in that area, going in with the bag with the stuff from the pharmacy since the few cabinets they have there were full, but nobody said anything and I just got some shampoo that was on sale before finally making my way back… And sending a message to the pharmacy to say that they could have replied to my request for details, because if I’d have known that all that information was needed I’d have written it before leaving, which would have saved everybody time, spared me the feeling of embarrassment, and resulted in a more complete list than the one that ended up written there in a hurry. Also mentioned that their employee could have written the list himself, and that’d have resulted in a more complete one as well. But got no reply to that either.

As for playing, Tuesday I played and finished the ninth “Divine Empire” scenario in Disciples, actually doing so quite quickly and being done with it in the evening, before midnight. After changing my strategy at the beginning, getting a banshee right away and sending her alone to grab everything that could be grabbed, and using other banshees the same way, alone and not caring too much whether I lost them, later, it seemed almost too easy, though that was also due to the enemies… And to the fact that I didn’t fight them that much, mainly meaning to keep them away and weak enough while I went for the main objective. So that may be the way to go if I want to actually finish this, but with 12 of the 21 “Divine Empire” scenarios still to go, that’ll still take a while even if it’ll work each time, which it most likely won’t.
Didn’t play any more Disciples since then, but yesterday I started Her Story. Had been meaning to give it a try after winning it at the end of September, knowing it’ll be something I’ll quickly be able to add to the list of games finished, but didn’t get around to it so far… And then somebody spoiled it for me in the “Games Finished in 2018” thread on the GOG.com forum. I won’t link to the post itself, but it appears there wasn’t even a spoiler warning at first, and even though one had been added by the time I read that post, I read quickly and take in chunks of text at a glance, so took in the spoiler itself along with the warning, and after that I said I’ll just go through it, just try to discover all the videos if it’s not a matter of working anything out anymore. Apparently the game considered that I had watched enough of the important ones earlier today, when a message popped up, but I said I was not done and still have a handful of videos to discover. Not sure how, since I ran out of things to search for a while ago and have been trying more or less random terms, but I mean to figure it out eventually and only consider it completed once I’ll actually unlock all of them.

Written by Cavalary on March 31, 2018 at 10:47 PM in Personal | 0 Comments