Some Random Announcements

By Shamus Posted Tuesday Jun 1, 2021

Filed under: Notices 103 comments

I’ve gotten several comments, emails, and messages asking the same few things. Rather than answer them one at a time, I’m going to do a brute-force info dump.

//BEGIN INFO DUMP:
1. The e-reader version of my book has been updated.

Originally, footnotes didn’t work. And if you’ve read the original series, you know there are a lot of footnotes. On my testing platform, the footnotes worked as expected: You’d tap on the number and get a text pop-up, which you could then dismiss with a second tap. Footnotes were also provided on a per-chapter basis, so if the tap functionality didn’t work on your device you wouldn’t have to go very far to find it manually. But this functionality was stripped away after I uploaded, meaning there was no good way to access a footnote. All of the footnotes were in one giant list at the very end of the book. So to read a note you had to jump all the way to the very end of the book, hunt around manually for your footnote, then somehow find your way back to where you left off.

At least in a physical book you can stick a finger in the book to keep your page. Amazon’s digital book was somehow less convenient than a physical copy. Absurd!

This time I uploaded an EPUB file. According to the tests I’ve run (thanks to those of you who helped test) it should be working more or less as intended. I don’t know how Amazon devices handle updates or if you need to do anything special on your end to get the new version.

2. The DRM-free version of my book is coming.

Technically, I don’t use any DRM on my book at any point in the process. But I assume Amazon adds their own stuff to the book after I upload. In any case, lots of people are interested in getting a copy of the book away from Amazon’s ecosystem.

It’s on the to-do list. I don’t have a time estimate. My first priority is fixing the Amazon copy, since those folks have already purchased the book and I ought to get it working nicely for them before I go chasing new customers with new formats.

3. I’m playing through Prey 2017 again.

This game is amazing. I think I’m enjoying it more now than I did back in 2017. If all goes well, this ought to be my next retrospective.

4. It doesn’t matter which version of the book you buy.

Some people want to know if I make more from the e-book or print version of Mess Effect. As it turns out, it depends on region. In general, I make about one or two dollars more on the print version. Although, some regions I might make less and occasionally actually make nothing for one or the other. (Expanded distro networks where Amazon essentially sells the book to a company that sells the book. It’s weird. I could opt out of those regions, but sales will be in the single digits so who cares?)

The Amazon backend is MADNESS, and there’s a ton of stuff that makes no damn sense. Like, LOWERING my royalty from 70% to 35% can RAISE my cut by 40 cents. There are so many situational fees and region-specific costs that it’s too complicated to really get a handle on.

So… I probably make a little more from print, but print is almost 5x more expensive for you. So if you’re that worried about making sure I get money, it would be better to buy the e-version and then PayPal me a few extra bucks. I’ll make a little more, and you’ll spend a lot less.

Personally, I’m just happy people are buying the dang thing, regardless of platform.

5. Issac’s Computer is working.

He still has more parts on the way, but he assembled what he’s got and everything seems to work. This is his first truly new computer. Until now, he’s always inherited computers from other people. Which means he’s never known the joy of a nice fresh clean install of Windows, before registry bloat and gigabytes of /User data clutter makes the machine wonky and slow. This is also the first time he’s had to deal with Microsoft’s clingy, creepy, passive-aggressive garbage. He’s never tried to get rid of Cortana or say “no” to Internet Explorer before.

The only problem so far is the Windows license. We figured out how to get the Windows product key from his old machine. This is unreasonably difficult and apparently Microsoft doesn’t like users to know their own key. He attempted to use the key on his new machine and was told – in typical cryptic Microsoft error-message language – that the key was “invalid”. What makes it invalid? Is this a valid key but we’re trying to use it in an improper context, or is the key completely bogus?

Conjecture: The old machine began life as a Windows 7 box, and was then upgraded to Windows 8 and then to Windows 10. So the underlying key was probably a Win7 key? I don’t know how it works and I don’t get the impression that Microsoft is in a hurry to explain it to us.

Whatever. Now he needs to buy a full Win10 Home license. I don’t mind doing that. The operating system is an important part of the computer and I’m not against paying for it if I need to. I just get irritated when the rules are unclear and I’m not sure if I need a license or if I’m just making a mistake in installation / license transfer.

6. This video is off the hook.

Nobody asked about this, but I feel the need to tell you that this ridiculous thing has been stuck in my head for days.


Link (YouTube)

This absurd 80-second song is the result of a real interaction the artist had with a French woman on Instagram.

As of this writing, it has just over 30k views. It should have millions. I feel like this guy is going to blow up any day now like another Marc Rebillet. (He’s already big on Instagram, but his YouTube following is still pretty small.)

To spoil the joke a bit: I’m willing to bet you a baguette that the “I get tired when I translate” is itself a poorly-translated idiom. I doubt the woman was claiming that translating makes her literally tired.

Imagine if a French woman asked me when the DRM-free version of Mess Effect is coming out and I replied with, “Ugh. I’m so sick of that question.” On her end, the auto-translate would probably say something like “This question is giving me the flu.” or something similarly nonsensical. The woman in the song wasn’t claiming that she was literally tired from translating, she was just saying she didn’t want to do it.

Even so, it’s still a really strange interaction. But it led to this ridiculous gem of a song, so who cares?

 


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103 thoughts on “Some Random Announcements

  1. John says:

    Has Isaac considered Linux? Because (1) Linux is free, no product key required, (2) a typical Linux install involves a lot less bloatware and intrusive fuckery than a Windows install, and (3) the Java version of Minecraft–i.e., the one with the fancy shader mods–runs perfectly well on Linux. Of course I can’t make any claims or representations about any other games that Isaac may want to play or about any productivity software he may wish to use. Best of luck to him regardless.

    1. tmtvl says:

      While I myself have been running GNU/Linux as my daily driver for 9 years now and I can’t imagine switching back to Windows or *shudder* Mac (just painful to use), I think people like Shamus and Issac, who are deeply invested in the Windows ecosystem, can’t easily switch over.

      Though I will agree that giving it an honest 2-month try is always worth a shot.

      1. John says:

        I think that getting a new machine is one of the best times to try Linux. If you’re going to install an OS from scratch anyway, then installing Linux is just as easy and probably easier than installing Windows. But, yes, if you need to use the same software on the new machine as you were on the old machine and that software doesn’t run on the new OS then sticking with the old OS is perfectly understandable.

        Though I will agree that giving it an honest 2-month try is always worth a shot.

        The funny thing is that I gave Windows 10 an honest 2-month try back when I acquired the computer I’m using now. Then I installed a Linux partition so that I could dual-boot because, frankly, Linux is better at running old Windows programs than Windows is. Then I realized that I hadn’t used the Windows partition in months and switched over to Linux permanently. Approximately the same thing happened years ago when I first discovered Linux. I installed a Linux partition on my laptop, realized that I hadn’t used the original Windows partition in ages, and switched over permanently.

      2. Raygereio says:

        I think people like Shamus and Issac, who are deeply invested in the Windows ecosystem, can’t easily switch over.

        I think people who have been using Linux for a long time tend to underestimate how much of a hurdle it still is to switch over to Linux.

        Linux in general is quite good at being accessible these days. But still, I’ve been using Linux on a secondary home PC and on a few work PCs for a while and still find it often an awkward and annoying experience. Especially when it comes to troubleshooting problems.

        1. Geebs says:

          I built a relatively up-to date PC which runs Ubuntu (because it’s the preferred distro for R Studio Server). Because the CPU I used is a whole 2 years old at this point, the only motherboard I could find in my area had no onboard wifi, so I picked up a USB dongle (the box had a penguin on it and promised linux support).

          In order to get that wifi dongle to work, I had to Google for an hour or so, visit a half-broken page on a defunct linux forum, and download, compile and install an unofficial wifi driver (root access, natch), trying several different make scripts in the process.

          This is the experience for *every* bit of troubleshooting in Linux, and consequently *every* new desktop Linux user has gone through a phase of entering half- understood console commands they picked up on some internet forum. Apart from the fact that this means that the idea that desktop Linux in some way benefits from the security of properly-administered server Linux is a complete joke (I am working under the assumption that my box is pwned to high heaven after all that); no, it is absolutely *not* accessible to the average user. At all.

          1. John says:

            I’m sorry you had a hard time, but your experience is by no means universal.

            1. Raygereio says:

              My experience with Linux (and honestly that of anyone I know), definitely lines up with Geebs’.
              It has improved. But I still would not recommend Linux to anyone who doesn’t have strong computer troubleshooting skills.

              1. John says:

                Look, I’m not saying that Linux is trouble-free. I’ve had occasional driver issues myself. But when I bought a USB wifi dongle and plugged it in to my computer, it worked just fine. And when that dongle eventually died and I bought a PCI wifi card and plugged it in to my computer it also worked just fine. Was I just lucky? Possibly. But I did a little research before making each purchase, so I doubt luck had all that much to do with it. The vast majority of the Linux trouble-shooting that I’ve had to do has been related to tasks that were bound to be trouble by their very nature, like getting really old hardware or software to work properly. Those tasks would have been just as difficult if not more so and in a few cases outright impossible if I’d been using Windows.

                1. Bubble181 says:

                  Right. But “doing research to make sure what I’m buying is going to work is something the average computer user isn’t really into.
                  Consider that one of Mac’s biggest features is that” everything just works together”. Consider that, frankly, you can but a pc and you it up to your TV and plug in a controller and you’ve probably got a better gaming machine for less money than a new console – yet consoles are easy because if you buy a PS4 game and stock it in your PS4, it’ll just work. There’s a reason “plug and play” is such a big thing for a lot of things in Windows.

                  I’m not saying Linux is in any way or shape bad – I’m quite convinced that in a lot of cases it’s a lot better than Windows. But even the “easy” distro’s require you to have some measure of computer literacy and desire to tinker/explore/understand what you’re doing.
                  I give computer support for a living. I’ve had people call in their IT guy because I asked them to open a csv file in excel, and then in notepad. For the average user, plugging in a new RAM stick is a Big Deal, if not outright “I need a computer guy for that”.

                  1. John says:

                    Well, I don’t know about you, but I always do research before buying new hardware. It has nothing to do with my OS of choice and everything to do with not wanting to waste my money. I wouldn’t be buying parts willy-nilly even if I were running Windows rather than Linux.

                    I wouldn’t recommend Linux to a technophobe any more than you would, but we’re talking (or I am, anyway) about Isaac, who this weekend was building his own computer so that he can run all the Minecraft mods he’s interested in. I think he could probably handle Linux if he were so inclined.

          2. tmtvl says:

            That’s odd, I just plug in my smartphone and activate USB tethering and it works (I don’t have a long enough CAT cable to hook my workstation up to my router).

            That said, I started with Pangolin, and while that worked great out of the box, when I tried upgrading to Quetzal it broke my X11, so I had to downgrade and wait for Ringtail.

          3. Karthik says:

            My experience with Linux has been similar, and I say this as someone who uses Linux for everything except AAA games.

            One of the pitfalls of switching to Linux is to assume that you can throw it on any hardware and it will work fine. The unfortunate meme of “Linux will run on anything, including your toaster” continues to ruin most people’s first experience with it.

            It’s not that the toaster won’t switch on. It’ll boot fine, then toast each slice to a different shade of brown, burn one of the corners, and occasionally the bread will refuse to pop out and you’ll have to use a knife to pry it out. You’ll find plenty of advice online on how to fix your toaster that contradicts itself, and when you finally tweak it to the point where the bread pops out with a sort-of even color, it’ll be time to upgrade your kernel and something else will break.

            To anyone who’s considering using Linux for their daily computing needs: It’s free, but there is a big price to be paid. You can pay it before or after you install it. Paying it upfront takes the form of doing research on hardware compatibility before taking the plunge. This can involve buying new peripherals or components and maybe sticking to older hardware, but it’s by far the less stressful approach.

            1. Liam says:

              Yeah I’ve got a couple of Ubuntu VMs running for some contract work, and I’m so glad I don’t have to deal with those inconsistencies on a daily basis in my main machine.

              The various Linux distros seen to love throwing out some major component or other and replacing it with something completely incompatible with each release, so most of the troubleshooting stuff you find online is irrelevant or outdated.

              When I want to do some Linux stuff on my main PC, WSL comes to the rescue. It’s truly awesome! It gives me all the command line stuff that Linux does well, whilst avoiding the windowing and desktop experience where it doesn’t.

            2. Tom says:

              In my own, somewhat limited experience, GNU-Linux is generally fine on most modern hardware – except for stuff from the handful of manufacturers who remain openly, stubbornly, perversely hostile to the open-source movement, and so design their hardware (and, more importantly, its closed-source drivers and technical documentation) accordingly.

              Once one has a general idea which of the big names to avoid like the plague, (*cough*HP*cough*), the frequency with which one experiences hardware issues using GNU-Linux tend to abate somewhat. That said, it’s still always both a crap-shoot and a waiting game whenever some radical new design paradigm comes alone, like Optimus graphics, and often has to be painstakingly reverse engineered before it can be supported.

          4. Bloodsquirrel says:

            I’ve got to concur. Every time I try to use Linux for anything, I run right into some seemingly minor issue that nonetheless prevents me from doing what I want to do, and I can’t ever find help or documentation because Linux is a chaotic, seething mass of different versions of everything and whatever fix you can find is for a different distro or a different version of your distro, or the person who posted the fix has his distro configured differently, etc.

            Until it becomes as easy to get things to work on Linux as it is to find somebody who will tell you that their Linux install works just fine, so they don’t know what you’re talking about, desktop Linux is going to remain an extreme niche product.

        2. Philadelphus says:

          I think us experienced Linux users definitely fall prey to the Curse of Knowledge, forgetting that stuff which we know but actually took us a long time to acquire isn’t universal knowledge.

          I was also reminded, while thinking about it, of C. S. Lewis’ discussion of how there are some proper rewards of activities which cannot even be begun to be desired until progressing to a certain level in that activity; for instance, the desire to read and enjoy classical Greek poetry is a proper reward of learning to read Greek, but one that cannot be desired in any truly meaningful way until one has already acquired enough Greek to be able to start to read such poetry. I wonder if some of the benefits of using Linux are not in that category, and those of us expounding such benefits may be in the position of extolling the benefits of Homer in the original language to those who do not yet know the Greek alphabet.

          For instance, the ability to solve most problems one encounters on Linux with the use of a few terminal commands: the first time I tried Linux, I really didn’t appreciate it—I wanted the familiarity of digging through menus and registry setting like I was used to on Windows rather than typing in a few mysterious, arcane commands. Now that I have more experience, I find the idea of digging through mysterious, arcane menus and registry settings to fix a problem rather than typing a few simple commands at the terminal utterly repellent. Another example, neither Windows nor macOS having the middle-mouse button secondary clipboard has also become—surprisingly to me—an utter deal-breaker in terms of productivity, but when someone who hasn’t used Linux doesn’t have it to begin with, how do you get across the incredible utility it offers? It’s like a bird trying to explain the joy of flying to a snail. Sure, birds have to deal with a lot of things that snails don’t, like preening and upkeep of feathers, but…flying!

          We can talk about the benefits of Linux all day long, but if they’re ones that can only be appreciated with enough exposure (rather than, say, the immediately graspable, “it’s also free, monetarily”) then it may not be particularly effective evangelizing. I don’t have a proposed solution to this, by the way, or think myself free of this problem; just felt like writing down my thoughts on the matter.

      3. Leeward says:

        Didn’t I read that Heather was using Ubuntu several years ago? If it’s true, they might have a resident expert who knows how to deal with normal type issues that crop up.

        When I set up my sister’s laptops (she goes through one every few years) I add myself a user and ssh key so I can remotely troubleshoot. I’ve only used it for basic installation and maintenance, but it’s super useful.

        Modern distros are very good at being easy to install. I just put bullseye on an old mac mini with the realtime kernel so I could use it for music production. It worked the first time, took about 20 minutes of my time, and hasn’t needed to be touched since (X applications are forwarded to my desktop).

        That said, I’ve been doing this for about 20 years so I probably don’t even know what pitfalls I avoided.

    2. Anachronist says:

      Our house has two Linux computers, 3 Windows laptops, and a couple of Macs. I like using Linux, but even after so many years of Linux existing, Linux is still just too fiddly. I use my Linux computers, I’m used to it, but I must admit stuff in Mac and Windows “just works” but doesn’t in Linux.

      By “fiddly” I mean basic things. For example: We have a network-attached storage drive (NAS) on our router, so the whole family has a central place to store stuff and it doesn’t matter what computer you’re on… unless it’s Linux. While the File manager can access the NAS (and that wasn’t straightforward), applications inexplicably cannot. Peripherals like SD card readers are not automatically recognized by applications either, even though the OS mounts them. There are plenty of browsers available (Mozilla, Opera, Chromium) but they do not display all content (particularly videos) that the same browsers can show by default on Mac or Windows. And Heaven forbid if you want to put some app icons on your desktop. You can do it, but there’s no intuitive way to do it, and it doesn’t work for all applications.

      Sure, these problems are surmountable, but I’d rather not have to spend my time searching online for solutions that should just work. And I certainly don’t want to foist it on my kid. So when his hand-me-down Windows laptop started acting up, I converted it to my second Linux computer and bought him a new laptop. The old laptop runs Linux a lot better (faster, snappier) than it ever ran Windows (it started out on Windows 8), but Linux still has those issues I mentioned.

  2. Chris says:

    Only Windows licenses that you buy retail are transferable from one machine to another. OEM licenses are not, which is probably why you’re getting that invalid key message.

    1. Doug Sundseth says:

      Yup. Note that you can buy the OEM version at retail rather than the “Retail Version” if you want. It’s cheaper, but it will do checks to see whether the machine has changed.

      Last time I looked, it was unclear exactly what constituted a “new computer” (the Grandfather’s Ax paradox), but some change or changes will trigger the OS to not work.

      1. DrCapsaicin says:

        I don’t think M$ knows what constitutes a new computer. I’ve had Windows try to invalidate my OS when I upgraded the graphics card, but also accept a new card no issue. The weirdest one was one time (and only once) I doubled the RAM (went from 2 sticks to 4, identical brand and speed) and it tried to tell me the license was invalidated now. Both times I called their customer support, explained what happened, was told “you can’t do that”, begged, and then got them to let me back in.

        1. Fizban says:

          God, imagine if you could afford the lawyers to tell *them* “you can’t do that,” and sue their ass for wasting your time.

      2. Rosseloh says:

        Sometimes.

        I have a pile of windows 7 keys ripped off of old trash computers, and I guarantee you if I tried activating windows 10 with them, 75% would work flawlessly, and never squawk about it even if you ripped the machine to pieces.

        My personal gaming rig is the perfect candidate for the Grandfather’s Axe or Ship of Theseus: the only thing original left in it right now is the case and power supply. Every other part has been replaced. It got a fresh copy of windows 7 in 2011 or so, using the key I bought with my student discount (which, to be fair, was retail and not OEM). It was then upgraded to 10 in 2015ish. It has never complained about activation, even when I replaced the motherboard.

        Meanwhile I’ve had other machines that start saying they’re not genuine even when they’re running a fresh OEM key straight from the factory and nothing has changed….so basically, the answer is Microsoft DRM sucks and needs to go away. I like how the server side does it (excluding the fact that CALs are a thing in the first place) – you’re required to have Client Access Licenses for each user/device on your network, but it’s all trust based, you don’t type those in to your server. You’d only ever get caught if you got audited and they found you hadn’t purchased the necessary number of CALs.

    2. Echo Tango says:

      Aren’t the licenses also only transferable if you buy an ‘upgrade’ version of your new operating system? Like, they give you some discount, because they want to keep you as a customer, and they can validate you’re transferring from an older computer to a new one. (Note, I haven’t used Windows in years, so I don’t know what their current sales / license / whatever policies are.)

  3. Tom Shannon says:

    I just started a my first replay of Prey 2017 last night. What great timing! I look forward to your retrospective.
    I’m so tired now.

  4. kikito says:

    Ok that French thing is not bad but I still prefer Flight of the Conchord’s “Foux de Fa Fa”.

    And there’s always Kollectivet’s “Give me Compliments” which *is* about being German even if the lyrics are not about being German.

    1. Shamus says:

      I’ve always loved “Foux de fafa”.

      I never got the cultural context behind “Give me compliments”. I didn’t realize this was specifically a German thing. I thought the character just really wanted compliments. Interesting.

      Also, for the curious, this is “Give me Compliments”:
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zi8ShAosqzI

      (kikito accidentally linked “Foux du fa fa” twice.)

      1. Khazidhea says:

        No direct connection, but this reminded me of a comedian, Bec Hill, a few months ago on 8 out of 10 cats does countdown.

        Both her segments are in this video, but the more relevant one is at about 2 1/2 minutes in where she ‘translates’ a French song (in pictures): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dPb7wvWHTUE

        1. Anachronist says:

          OMG, she’s amazing. Never heard of her before I saw this reply.

    2. RFS-81 says:

      I’m German and I don’t get it. Is this about Norwegian stereotypes about Germans?

      1. AG says:

        Ja, me neither. In the south of Germany, there is even a saying “no complaint is enough praise”, but maybe the Norwegian are even more extreme.

        1. pseudonym says:

          I am from the Netherlands, and I have never encountered this stereotype about our German neighbours either. The stereotype we have here is that Germans dig enormous holes on the beach. Unfortunately this stereotype is enforced by actual Germans digging actual enormous holes on the beach. But I am sure it is just a tiny minority.

          1. BlueHorus says:

            Yes, I hear thegroup known as maulwurfsmenschen are something of a minority in Germany, as all places.

          2. RFS-81 says:

            Oh yeah, that’s a thing. I wish I could explain it to you, but I don’t understand it either. Workaholism, maybe?

            1. pseudonym says:

              In this Dutch article a German claims that it is a German tradition: https://www.rijnmond.nl/nieuws/171312/Het-is-echt-waar-Duitsers-graven-kuilen-op-het-strand

              Who knows? Maybe the tradition goes back to the Hole-y Roman Empire! ;-)

              1. Geebs says:

                That pun is absolutely the pits.

                1. pseudonym says:

                  I am digging your comment on my pun. It fits the hole context of this thread! Thanks!

                  1. Lino says:

                    Why is no one moderating this comment thread?! I swear, this site has completely gone down the hole…

          3. Tom says:

            Interesting – a common British stereotype about the Germans (of which, admittedly, we have an absurdly large number) is that they always get up really early on holiday and drape towels over the good beach chairs to claim them before anyone else can.

            Apparently, the collective, transnational folk wisdom is that Germans simply can’t be trusted at the beach. Maybe, if there be some grain of truth in it, it’s because Germany has so little coastline, so when they get a chance to go to the beach they just go a bit crazy from the novelty?

            1. Geebs says:

              I think Germans just get up really early in the morning in general.

              I encountered a rather remarkable example of this when I was a lot younger. I was camping somewhere in Eastern Europe with some friends. On the second day, a van full of teenage German metalheads showed up and set up camp right next to us. They spent all day blasting German thrash (which didn’t endear them to us) and the Prodigy (which did) on their stereo. Then they set to some pretty intense drinking and all passed out after several hours.

              You’d have thought they’d have slept in late after all that, or at least they’d be nursing hangovers all day, but no. These guys were up at the crack of dawn, and the stereo was immediately back to full volume. Then they did the exact same thing the next day. And the next.

              I don’t know how many days they managed to keep it up, because we left.

              1. RFS-81 says:

                I think Germans just get up really early in the morning in general.

                Well I don’t, that’s why I had to emigrate! I also struggle with being on time.

            2. pseudonym says:

              Whoa! That’s quite a big leap from “observing some peculiar behaviour that some Germans exhibit at the beach” to “transnational folk wisdom to distrust Germans at the beach”. That distrust is simply not there in the Netherlands. On the contrary: Germans are very welcome tourists on the Dutch beaches. It’s well-known that if you want to become a waiter or waitress in the coastal areas, you have to speak German, or you won’t get the job! Lots of Germans come to the Netherlands to have their vacation. (And lots of Dutch go to Germany in their vacation. Germany is the number one holiday destination.)

              1. Tom says:

                My apologies; I do tend to exaggerate things for comedic effect, but in this case I may also be guilty of excessive extrapolation.

                You’re probably aware that an embarrassingly large fraction of the British population is, quite simply, incapable of recognising that WWII ended several generations ago, and incurably obsessed with reliving our “finest hour” – it’s almost as if our collective national character’s development was completely arrested in that moment – and one manifestation of that is simply never, ever trusting Germans, and making endless stereotypical jokes about them. It’s not helped by the various, Murdoch-owned tabloid rags, which do their utmost to keep this mindset alive so that they can exploit and profit from it – any newspaper headline that casts the Germans as authoritative, menacing and yet faintly ridiculous bullies is guaranteed a solid readership amongst this subset of the population.

                Evidently other European nations – ironically, those that were actually occupied by the Axis during that horrible time, when the UK (with the oft-forgotten exception of the Channel Islands) was not – do not share this peculiar form of madness!

                1. pseudonym says:

                  No problem. I did not take offense. These misunderstandings happen on the internet. I merely wanted to clarify my position to avoid further confusion.

                  That’s quite an interesting insight into the British population. Thank you for sharing.

    3. Naota says:

      Reminds me a lot of “Please Don’t Contact Me,” actually.

  5. baud says:

    A baguette’s not a big bet, you could at least gone for a croissant : )

  6. Dreadjaws says:

    Well, I guess it’s time for me to do that playthrough of Prey I’ve been meaning to finish since a couple of years ago. I had to stop due to a broken PC but when I finally fixed it it had been so long after that I knew I’d have to start the game all over again, so I kept putting it off. I remember enjoying what little I had played.

  7. Truett says:

    The footnotes in the book work on my tablet but not on my phone. Because of course.

  8. Husr says:

    Footnotes on my copy still don’t work. I think maybe the update didn’t apply to certain devices of something? I have automatic updates for books enabled and I went in and checked manually, but there wasn’t an update there. Not sure.

    Do you think those of us who bought on Kindle could get a dm of the drm-free epub or something eventually, if this is still an issue down the line?

    I bought the book primarily to support you and I don’t regret doing that, but it does feel kinda silly that the best way to read it still on the site.

  9. Fred Starks says:

    If Isaac is running a clean install of Windows 10, he might have luck with this set of scripts: https://github.com/W4RH4WK/Debloat-Windows-10

    It’s a collection of powershell scripts designed to clean out all of Win10’s needless bloat as well as remove the telemetry and general stalking it does. You don’t have to run all of them, which makes it easy to get rid of specifically what you want, even Windows Defender if you’ve already got an antivirus.

    (It’s worth noting that deleting Cortana breaks the home menu search bar, but the other search functions will work fine. You can even find some mods that restore all that down there to a Windows 7-like style.)

    For personal reasons, I’ve also removed Windows Update, but I don’t think that’ll be a problem for folks with good internet.

    1. Fizban says:

      Wait- I’d heard that removing Cortana killed search, but it’s literally only for the “home” menu? Who even searches from there? If you’ve got files to search through you go to the appropriate folder. The only time I’ve ever searched something starting from the windows button is when a fix tells me to boot command line from there (because no one can be bothered to learn where it is I guess, myself included).

      1. etheric42 says:

        Because it serves as a quick application launcher. Hit windows, type few letters of application, hit enter, never touch a mouse.

        1. Tom says:

          Wow. In other words, after decades of furiously trying to develop the fastest, most efficient mouse-driven graphical user interface they can, they’ve reinvented the text-prompt and keyboard.

          1. RFS-81 says:

            Windows already had that feature for a while, at least since Windows 8.

      2. Fred Starks says:

        Yep, it only applies to the home menu. The search functionality is fine everywhere else.

        Oh, and if you need a fast way to get to command line, just hit the Windows Key + X. It brings up a menu to a number of things, like Task Manager, Run, and Command Prompt. It’s a real handy shortcut.

  10. Cilba Greenbraid says:

    Checking just now with both my Paperwhite and the android app, the book has not yet updated. Are you sure the update is live?

    1. Attercap says:

      I had some download issues and had to remove and re-download, but the footnotes are working for me (Kindle Fire and Android Kindle App).

      Earlier this AM the download was flaking out, so maybe Amazon was still processing the EPUB?

      1. Liessa says:

        It didn’t update automatically, but after I removed the book and re-downloaded, footnotes now work on both the Android and iOS versions of the Kindle book.

    2. RFS-81 says:

      I’ve tried to ask Amazon to send the file to my Kindle, and to download and copy it manually, and I still seem to get the old version. No clickable footnotes and the cover has the N7 logo.

  11. Geebs says:

    To spoil the joke a bit: I’m willing to bet you a baguette that the “I get tired when I translate” is itself a poorly-translated idiom. I doubt the woman was claiming that translating makes her literally tired.

    I’m willing to bet that’s exactly what she was claiming. I went on a French exchange programme when I was a kid and the only phrase I learnt was “ça m’éneeeeeeerrrrrrrrve”

      1. Syal says:

        “The uploader has not made this video available in your country.”

        Oh no, now WE know how it feels!

  12. Chad+Miller says:

    Regarding Prey…what timing! I’m in the middle of my first playthrough of that game myself.

    I got curious last night and checked if you’d written about it and found out that I’m in literally the exact spot where you originally got stuck, having just died a couple times to that exact monster. Funnily enough, I’d done enough exploring that I encountered that same monster elsewhere and concluded that it had beaten me so badly that I wasn’t supposed to fight it yet, so having the Storage doors lock behind me trapping me with it was…is… a bit unsettling.

    Luckily I have put a decent amount of stats in combat-related stuff (went hard security weapons including Gunsmithing so I could sink nearly all my weapon upgrades into the pistol and shotgun) so hopefully it won’t have the same result your initial playthrough did.

    Even what I’ve seen so far has a lot to gush about. It should be a fun read.

    1. Fizban says:

      If you would like to specify the monster/location/available tools, myself or plenty of others could of course give you some tips.

      1. Chad+Miller says:

        Oh, I wouldn’t call myself stuck yet. It’s more like, I died twice, went to bed, and haven’t had the occasion to go back to it yet. But the monster in question is the Technopath. For more details of the above events:

        * Tried clearing the main elevator shaft, decided I was outclassed, left

        * Saw one in the Crew Quarters, had a moment of panic, realized it was outside the station, moved on

        * Entered Storage and the game said “No, you are dealing with this, buddy!”

        1. Shamus says:

          Technopaths are the hardest monster in the game for me. Yes, nightmares and weavers are supposed to be higher on the alien org chart, but technopaths work against my favored build.

          When I run into something nasty, I like to set up some reinforced turrets to deal with it while I hide in the next room. But the technopath just captures the turrets and adds them to its floating death ball.

          If turrets don’t work, then it’s point-blank shotgun time. But you can’t get close to the technopath because it usually has a couple of turrets and they will tear you apart.

          EMP is supposed to be your solution to mechanical problems, but technopath often hovers high enough that it’s out of range of most grenades. Also, the EMP doesn’t really seem to hit the technopath as hard as you’d expect.

          The best solution I’ve found is to lure it somewhere with a low ceiling, then hit it with one EMP to disable the turrets, then use a couple of recycler charges. If it’s still moving, then it’s probably stunned and it’s safe to get in close to finish it with the shotgun.

          Damned expensive fight. And the one in Deep Storage has lots of headroom, and you probably don’t have a ton of resources at that point in the game. And it’s been a long time since your last resupply, so you’re probably low on ammo.

          It’s one of the toughest encounters in the game, and I’m not really convinced it’s deliberate.

          Advice: Use the GLOO Gun or hacking to reach the second floor, where you’ll find both a recycler and a fabricator. The fight is a little more manageable if you can stock up first.

          1. Mersadeon says:

            I *think* I remember them getting lower by firing GLOO at them, too, which might help.

          2. Chad+Miller says:

            It’s one of the toughest encounters in the game, and I’m not really convinced it’s deliberate.

            Thinking on it some, I think this may be an example of something that turns out harder than expected because its abilities cover too many bases; it’s a common thing for something to be stronger than it “seems like” it should be just because it has an array of advantages that add up to more than the sum of their parts by cutting off too many counter-strategies. You see this quite a bit in competitive multiplayer games.

            For me, one of the things keeping me from clearing the Main Lift was the fact that it can shut off lab weapons; it’s accompanied by two corrupted Engineering Operators, which I could just one-shot with the Disruptor if the Technopath didn’t also shut down the disruptor long enough for them to finish me off.

            For this one, though I got it in one try the instant I sat back down to do it. The key for me was finding a vent near the entrance, so I could:

            * Shoot the thing with my silenced pistol (Gunsmithing I with full upgrades, plus max ranks in Sneak Attack and Firearms so this is nontrivial damage already)

            * The instant it looks like the monster might see me, duck into the vent

            * When it flies into the entrance chamber all pissed off, chuck an EMP grenade and then pop out with my shotgun (also mostly upgraded)

            * Use Combat Time to finish it off before it can counterattack

            (it looks like the same vent may be a way to avoid the fight entirely, but I honestly got stressed out trying to go pure stealth and instead have been using ambushes/sneak attacks to save on ammo)

          3. RFS-81 says:

            Interesting, I found the Technopaths to be less scary than they look! I invested many neuromods in stealth, shooting, and gun upgrades. Technopaths and their minions take damage from the stun gun. The tricky part was to first pick off all the possessed machinery. If you can sneak up on the Technopath before it can mess up your weapon, you can stunlock it with the stun gun.

            Now Telepaths on the other hand, I don’t have a good strategy against those. I first sneak around and drop all their human puppets, then I just do a series of hit-and-run attacks with turrets covering my retreat. They usually distract the Telepath.

            Also, that reminds me, I still haven’t finished my first playthrough! I did a whole bunch of side quests, and that kind of killed my momentum, and now it’s been ages since I played.

            1. Chad+Miller says:

              I’m finding Telepaths to be complete pushovers, but that may be because my build is such that I don’t mind just picking them off with a pistol (given how slow and large they are I can generally finish them off before they’ve even figured out where I am, with the Disruptor as backup in the unlikely event any of their thralls threaten to suicide against me, and I took the increased recycling yield so handgun ammo hasn’t been an issue for awhile)

              The Greenhouse fight turned into comedy, as I shot it a few times to aggro it, then re-locked the doors so it couldn’t send its victims after me, then sniped it from the outside as it floated through the ceiling

              1. RFS-81 says:

                Our builds sound pretty close, though. I’m basically trying to do the same thing as you, except that I have to run away in between. You might just be better at dodging, or it’s because I’ve been skimping on HP upgrades for much of the game. IIRC, I also wasn’t very far along with weapon upgrades when I got to the greenhouse.

                1. Chad+Miller says:

                  So, having just finally gotten hit by one, I think the big thing is that until this one fight I just messed up I’ve been able to keep them far enough away that they just never hit me. Stealth probably helped some because in most cases I wouldn’t finish them off with the initial volley but shoot them a few times, go duck behind something, then ambush them again when they tried to find me.

                  1. Fizban says:

                    Forgot to come back to this so you’re probably long past but- I figured it might be the Technopath*, and the mention of the stun gun stun lock above is what I would have recommended. The stun gun deals big damage to them along with the stun, and if you’re using human upgrades you can super-speed into range and just humiliate them, leading with an EMP grenade to douse the turrets if required. Even on my no-human run I still carry a stun gun with the basic upgrades ’cause it’s just easier.

                    *There’s a particular fight which can be the first time you encounter it locked in a tiny room after taking the elevator that gave me trouble and I expect does for many people.

                    As for Technopaths, the nullwave grenade is handy, or the power that does the same. Phantoms can be dealt with like humanoid enemies in most games, but I think Prey expects you to use those grenades and lockout powers as main response to all the big floaty things.

                    1. Chad+Miller says:

                      Indeed, that one was the first one I encountered and the first time I just straight up gave up on killing something for an extended period of time (I looked up Joseph Anderson’s video after beating the game and he also calls out that particular fight as an especially difficult one). This actually meant that I went all the way from Psychotronics to Deep Storage without ever revisiting the starting areas even once, until the forced fight in Deep Storage made me revisit the assumption that I couldn’t beat those.

                      (Grenades do indeed seem to be the intended way to beat the various flying guys, which is funny because they fly, but when that’s not a problem they do all indeed become soft)

  13. Dennis says:

    Isaac definitely wants Pro, not Home. It’s a lot easier to cut out Windows 10 garbage with Pro; Group Policy works miracles for disabling internet searches, Cortana, etc. I have extra licenses; email me and I’d be happy to give him one.

  14. Olivier FAURE says:

    For what it’s worth I low-key hate that French song and the mindset it represents.

    Among other annoying stereotypes:

    – The marine shirt to represent a French person.
    – Referring to exclusively Parisian monuments because France only has one city or something.
    – Baguette jokes.
    – The dumb google translations of basic sentences with crappy pronunciation.

    Like, I get that’s part of the joke of the video, but when 90% of the internet’s depictions of your culture are already centered around these dumb jokes, they get old really fast.

    1. rabs says:

      Well I don’t know, those really interested in the culture will go beyond that and watch some serious content.
      And those that come for an easy joke/meme based on stereotypes are well served. Or just a catchy song/melody, don’t really care about the details.

      Recently I dived a bit in the “gopnik” Russian culture because I liked one meme song, and started reading about how the movement started, some artists and related stuff. In an article Russians also complained about the picture it showed of Russia, as it’s a frequent stereotype now on the Internet.
      I ended up following some serious Russian artists (one that did the meme, among mainly non-meme related production), and an unrelated Ukrainian band (following recommendations). So it’s good for their culture in my view.

      Though for expatriated, I guess stereotypes become tiring very fast, no matter what they are. And annoying people are tiring for everybody.

      1. Kincajou says:

        As an Italian expat….
        Yeah sometimes it would be nice for some things to be treated a bit better.

        For me what gets to me it the guarantee of getting a mafia joke once in a while…. Like, I get it, it’s an easy icebreaker, a low hanging joke and nothing bad is intended… But good god people! Organised crime is a very real issue in Italy, people get shot in the face in broad daylight, 16yo crime cartels are a real and heartbreaking thing, families and real lives are broken by this cancerous mass…

        Maybe we can accept the subject deserves more respect? (and it must be a worse feeling for Mexican and Colombian expats too I imagine)

        I’m not necessarily saying “stop with the mafia jokes” but rather “I fully understand the anger of having your culture represented by a handful of stereotypes every. Single. Time. Without even much thought of what these stereotypes actually mean”

        1. BlueHorus says:

          I knew a Colombian guy at university. Really nice guy, but very shy…possibly related to the fact that the ONLY thing people would mention when he mentioned his nationality was cocaine. Must have sucked.

          I even see it from the other side, here in Britain. A lot of English people are obsessed with World War II; the ‘Blitz spirit’ is somewhat mythologised. So of course when they meet French people, they joke about wanting thanks, and when they meet Germans they joke about wanting apologies.
          Must be HILARIOUS for all those Europeans who hadn’t even been born in 1945…

          1. Shamus says:

            As someone from the land where everyone is fat, racist, and owns 20 guns, I know how annoying this sort of thing can be. :)

    2. bobbert says:

      To be fair, as Europe’s most centralized state, the only-the-capital-matters attitude has been a part of French culture for hundreds of years. Though I understand there have been some recent efforts to mitigate it. ‘Paris and the French desert’ was an influential work on the topic.

      1. pseudonym says:

        During a congress I went to in Montpellier, the airconditioning in the building failed due to a computer error. It proved hard to fix since… the computer was in Paris. That is hundreds of kilometres away. Why would it be designed that way? It is beyond parody. If I said it was a joke, it would be funny, but this really happened.

        That said, I had a wonderful time there. The people were very friendly and the food was excellent. Life as a tourist in France is very enjoyable.

        1. Shufflecat says:

          This is a thing in ‘merrica, too. I’ve been to and worked in places (usually industrial parks and minimalls) where the climate is controlled by a central computer 3 states away, being run by a 3rd party company contracted by the manager/owner who’s 10 states away, if not in a separate country entirely.

          So you regularly get crazy shit like the AC running full blast 24/7 in the middle of winter, making the whole building or complex borderline uninhabitable. Because the company handling the computer control is in Nevada or something, and is basing their temperature models for every property in the entire US on their own local weather and time zone. And there’s absolutely nothing anyone can do about it, because there are no local or manual controls, the company that’s controlling things is only contactable by the owner, and the owner has either ensured that no-one can contact them, or ignores any attempt at contact.

  15. rabs says:

    I’m not sure what the initial exchange was in this song. Seems like there was no auto-translation and the woman was trying to write english by herself, that’s why the weird “I get tired when I translate”.

    Some other weird sentences are in french, maybe his translation ?
    – “Non tu ne le fais pas” sound like bogus french
    – “Baises-moi je suis fatigué” also doesn’t make sense, sounds like “Laisses-moi, je suis fatigué” or it’s some kind of humor (?)
    – one subtitled “Parles-tu français” (casual form to someone we know or feel close to) but sang “Parlez-vous français” (polite form to someone we don’t know)

    Anyway the song is nicely catchy, good one.

    1. Aaron+B+Wayman says:

      Now I am not sure, as my last French class was over 30 years ago, but “Baises-moi je suis fatigue” would translate to roughly Fuck me, I am tired. Unless my teacher lied to us how to tell people to F off.

      1. chukg says:

        Yeah sounds right to me too.

  16. Raygereio says:

    The old machine began life as a Windows 7 box, and was then upgraded to Windows 8 and then to Windows 10. So the underlying key was probably a Win7 key? I don’t know how it works and I don’t get the impression that Microsoft is in a hurry to explain it to us.

    Yeah Microsoft is weird about this. The official line is that the free upgrade from 7&8 to 10 is no longer valid. But Microsoft really wants everyone to be in their 10-ecosystem so they still sort of allow it.
    But there are all sorts of weird, secret rules about what is and isn’t allowed with Pro/Home and oem/retail. There’s no reason they can’t be clear about it.

    1. Taellosse says:

      Yes there is. By being opaque and unhelpful, they can force the subset (majority) of users who encounter problems retaining “genuine” status on Windows 10 and who are unwilling or unable to bypass it to buy a new copy of Windows, while still claiming publicly that they’re being customer-friendly with the official policy.

      As an added bonus, by having complex and counter-intuitive exceptions for when the “free upgrade” applies, they can arbitrarily change the standards without notice, thus allowing that pool of helpless users who are forced to become customers again to keep growing.

      This way, they keep the bottom line of the Windows business unit in a good place, despite various factors that would act to depress sales (significantly slowed upgrade cycles for average PC users, a massive shift to mobile devices, their own “free upgrade” marketing gimmick that was established as a response to Apple’s own OS policies, etc.). The fact that it creates a bubbling pool of consumer resentment is an easily-ignored side effect – after all, as a monopoly, customer satisfaction isn’t really a top priority.

  17. Simplex says:

    Hi Shamus,

    I bought the e-book on Amazon. Perhaps I misheard, or it’s no longer true, but supposedly you can opt-out of Amazon’s DRM. Can you check if it is possible? It would be cool if your book on Amazon was DRM free.

    1. Michael says:

      It’s still true. Tor does this as a matter of policy; you can read the description for https://www.amazon.com/Great-Hunt-Book-Wheel-Time-ebook/dp/B002VBV1R2/ and see “At the Publisher’s request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management Software (DRM) applied.” at the bottom.

      1. evileeyore says:

        It’s still going to be in a Kindle only format, which is it’s own form of “DRM” (it is, but it isn’t). It’s not that hard to reformat it to epub, buuuuuuuuuuuuuut.

  18. Ericc says:

    Tom’s Hardware has a guide to getting Win 10 cheap. Best bet is Windows 10 Ed license (free) or an OEM license. Kinguin offers keys for sale ($30 for Pro), and as far as I’ve been able to tell, they’re legit. They’re just restricted to one machine/motherboard.

    1. ContribuTor says:

      Just coming here to recommend Kinguin.

  19. LevZloi says:

    Windows 10 licenses are assigned to the hardware, not the user account. Computers upgraded to windows 10 are not eligible to have the license transferred to new hardware, but this little trick circumvents it. Just annoying to have to install everything several times. Hook up an extra drive to the computer and set the computer to boot from it, Install the old copy of windows 7 to that drive. Activate it, upgrade to windows 10 activate it. The hardware will now have a digital license for windows 10. Then chane the boot order to the original clean windows 10 installation. The server will recognize your hardware and automatically activate it.

    1. LevZloi says:

      I should add that the windows 10 upgrade is still free, they just don’t advertise that.

  20. The Rocketeer says:

    3. I’m playing through Prey 2017 again.

    Cool. I’m also replaying a game you’ve covered. Taking some notes.

  21. Alpakka says:

    According to this article, there is a way which is meant to get the product key “all over the web”, which gives a real looking key, but the method does not apparently get a valid key anymore in recent Windows 10 versions. So it’s possible that the key would work but you got the wrong key.

    There are a few alternatives they propose, although at some point it might just be easier to buy a new copy as you said. And as others have mentioned, it could be an OEM copy and refuse to activate because of that.

    https://www.howtogeek.com/660517/how-to-find-your-windows-10-product-key-using-the-command-prompt/

  22. Laserhawk says:

    I really, really want to see that Prey retrospective Shamus. Prey is the sort of game I like to play, methodical rather than chaotic. Hope you get better soon.

    1. Zekiel says:

      +1 to all that. If there was one game I would love to see Shamus talk about at ridiculous length, it would be Prey.

      Very excited!

  23. Alberek says:

    Again, REALLY HAPPY you got better!

    Prey is a great game, I bet is going to age fine like the other Shock games (man… I really want to play that remaster of SystemShock).

    1. WaveofKittens says:

      Yes, happy to hear that he’s playing Prey again and that it will get some attention here.

      I finished it the first time only a few weeks ago. It wasn’t easy to appreciate at first and it goes on for a bit too long with too much backtracking, but especially the combat encounters – especially mid-game and in the early late-game – could be very interesting and varied in the way they would turn out.

  24. Khiliani says:

    The French song is by Tom Cardy, who does the live musical accompaniment for the great (and deeply cooked) D&D podcast Dragon Friends So seems a good match for this site

  25. no one says:

    It’s a huge hassle but you can call microsoft support and they will usually update your key or give you new one so that it works with a new pc. However you can buy OEM keys from many websites for about $10. I don’t ask where they come from, but they always seem to work. You can use paypal so you don’t really have to worry about getting scammed or whatever.

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