NBI 2016 – Kill Hippy GIFs With Fire

The topic of animated GIFs came up in the NBI Discord this morning so I thought I’d write a little bit about it.

I hate animated GIFs.

That is all.

No, really, I hate them. I lived through the 1990s World Wide Web, so I have vivid memories of the days when every advertiser put obnoxious blinking animated GIFs in every web ad, making every web page into some crazy dystopian night-time Las Vegas scene with blinking neon signs in every direction. (There was an early Futurama episode that captured this very well–I think it was A Bycyclops Built For Two.) It was horrible. It was so bad it birthed the entire ad-blocker industry.

Then there was Geocities, where every web page had an animated opening-and-closing mailbox for an email link and an animated construction-worker-with-a-shovel icon to indicate the page was still under construction.

Not to even mention that from a technological standpoint, it’s really a horrible format. I’ve written code to read GIF files (back in the 1990s). It’s the silliest way to encode an animation in the entire world. It was tolerable when all the animations were hand-drawn 16-color pixely creations made with Microsoft Paint, but now everyone makes full motion video animated GIFs, and I stagger to think of all the wasted bytes going into those files.

So I still have a possibly PTSD-related visceral reaction to animated GIFs. Something like: Nuke them from orbit. Kill them with fire. Drown them in … I dunno, water I guess. That kind of thing.

I don’t remember when or why animated GIFs came back into web culture, but I was never consulted about it and if I had been, I would not have approved it. Maybe this is the real issue that separates the Old Internet Generation from the Young Internet Generation. Get off my lawn, you damn hippy GIFs.

That being said, the entire issue for me could be solved with one simple checkbox in my web browser of choice: Do Not Play Animated GIFs Until I Tell You To. Yet for some reason, presumably a secret pact between the Big Animated GIF Lobby and The Web Browser Consortium, that most basic of user interface settings remains missing.

Oh, wait, I just Googled how to disable animated GIFs in Chrome and apparently there’s an extension for it. Sweet! Nevermind. :)

I shouldn’t get too excited, though. It doesn’t fix the Twitter app on my Android phone, which feels no shame in showing every animated GIF in the world without my consent, forcing me to disable images entirely. (Twitter looks very different when you turn off pictures btw–it’s mostly a gibberish of hashtags and links.) Nor does it fix any other app on my phone, which is apparently a territory that remains under the exclusive control of the Young Internet Generation.

P.S. I’ve really amused myself with the notion that future generations will be divided not by liberal or conservative political issues, but by how they perceive animated GIFs.

P.P.S. Okay, some animated GIFs are pretty cool. But it’s like 1 in 1000.

Black Desert In Tweets

Since I am too lazy/don’t have time to write a coherent post about Black Desert I thought I would take the very simple route of pasting a bunch of my tweets about it into a post. Boy was that a mistake. It turned that it wasn’t easy at all, and this post took far longer to create than I wanted it to.

This is a big problem because I just got the “Learning Higher Processing Skills” quest from Ficy in Heidel, which opens up the “Pure Water for an Experiment” quest from Flaviano, which then allows you (I think) to heat Melted Copper Shards into Copper Ingots, a task I’ve been wanting to do for some twenty or thirty hours of game time now.

A Year Of Blog Stats

Way back in April, Endgame Viable became a year old, statistically speaking. That is to say, in April, I had accumulated my first full year of WordPress site statistics. (The Endgame Viable “brand” was actually born on October 16, 2013, while the first post on this blog–ie. the database that powers this blog–was June 29, 2012.) I’m not one to keep a close eye on statistics, but they can be useful to see what “works” and what “doesn’t work,” and some new bloggers might be interested in what I’ve learned.

Slide Rule
A WordPress engineer calculating blog statistics. (Not really.)

The biggest thing I learned: People really love to search for information about ArcheAge. My most popular posts and incoming search terms–by far–have been about ArcheAge. So if you’re starting a new blog and you’re looking for a subject that will rocket you to stardom, I’d recommend ArcheAge. In particular I’d recommend topics on how to cheat… errr… get ahead in ArcheAge. :)

The most popular non-ArcheAge post I did was the one about the Best Subscription MMO. Not surprising given that the title is the exact phrase you’d type into a search engine.

Back in April and May of 2014, a lot of my referents came from Facebook. In June of 2014, they faded, and then in July, they stopped. I have no idea why or how people came from Facebook or why they stopped. (I have a page for Endgame Viable on Facebook but I’ve never done anything to cultivate it, and I stopped crossposting to it in January.) If anyone is reading this from Facebook, um, why are you doing that? :)

Apparently there’s this thing called “spam referrers.” I got a big chunk of referrers from places called buttons-for-website.com and make-money-online.com. I added some rewrites to my .htaccess to block them, but they keep changing their domain names every month though so that’s probably a losing effort. Now I just click the “spam” link in WordPress to hide them.

After search engines, Twitter is my second-highest traffic referrer. Except while Facebook was referring and it was my second-highest traffic referrer. (Seems like I should put Facebook integration on the old todo list.)

I got more comments on this blog in February 2015 than any other month.. I have no idea why. (This month is looking pretty good so far too.)

Looking at the most popular posts month-by-month, it seems pretty obvious that the most viewed ones tend to be reviews or first impressions. That seems logical, since those are probably the kinds of posts that come up in searches.

I don’t do anything to track RSS views. Now that I think about it, I don’t know if WordPress counts them in their statistics… probably not. Maybe I should look into that.

Posted on Blaugust Day 12. Read all of my Blaugust posts here.

Blaugust 2015 Feeds In OPML

Blaugust 2015 logo totally stolen from Belghast

Somebody else might find this useful:

Blaugust 2015 OPML

That is a list of Blaugust feeds exported as an OPML from InoReader. Presumably you can import that into your RSS feed reader of choice (Feedly, etc.). If the URL doesn’t work directly, you should be able to save it as a file and import it that way.

P.S. I got the list from Belghast’s list of 69 Blaugust challengers.

P.P.S. This is not a Blaugust post. :)

UPDATE: I updated the list because I left myself off of it lol. Also in case anyone sees the numbers not adding up, Missy’s Mojo is technically on there twice because I noticed she changed sites and I put them both on there.

Blaugust Plans

Interstaller Tidal Wave

To hold myself accountable, I’m going to announce publicly that I’m going to try to participate in Belghast’s Blaugust this year. That means posting at least 31 times during the month of August (once a day).

Fortunately for me, I’m sure I have at least 31 half-finished posts in my Drafts folder that I can choose from. So don’t be surprised if you see posts about very old topics that everyone’s long forgotten. :)

Difficulty in The Witcher 3

witcher3 2015-06-06 18-53-46-99

I’ve just about had enough of the Hard difficulty in The Witcher 3. It’s fine for normal encounters, but when it comes to bosses it’s over that fine line between challenging and frustrating. And it’s not because the encounters are actually too difficult, it’s because of two things: 1) The controls are not responsive enough, and 2) It takes too long to re-load from your previous save.

The controls. Arg, the controls. I guess it’s “animation lock” that’s the problem. You know, where they make it a priority to make sure the character animations smoothly transition from one pose to the next, instead of prioritizing your button presses and the actions you actually want to do. So if your guy is in the middle of doing something–say, swinging his sword–you have to wait for him to complete that action before he’ll start the next thing–say, dodging–and during that interminable wait, you get nailed and die because on Hard difficulty the bosses hit pretty damn hard and fast. To me, that says the developers are more concerned with the gameplay experience of the people who might be watching you play instead of the people actually playing the game. Yuck. I hate it. Frickin’ respond when I press the buttons!

So inevitably you die because the game doesn’t respond to your button presses fast enough. You click to re-load your last save. You wait. And wait. And wait. The waiting really makes me want to rage-quit this game, because I’m already mad that the game killed me even though I knew exactly what to do and pressed the buttons in plenty of time to avoid dying. And in the case of the !@#$!@ Werewolf in that one side quest, it’s killed me repeatedly at least a dozen times already and I’m just sick of it.

So yeah, I might drop back to Normal or even Easy. But it keeps telling me I won’t get an achievement if I switch, so maybe I’ll slog it out a little longer…

The NBI And Starting A Blog

Two weeks into May, and after posting a talkback post, I realized that I hadn’t even mentioned The Newbie Blogger Initiative (NBI). This is a good indication of how bad my blogging has been lately. But enough about me.

NBI is a very cool effort to promote new blogs and to spread the word that now is a great time to start a blog if you’ve been thinking about doing so. NBI is generally focused on gaming blogs but nobody is going to stop you from starting a non-gaming blog, too.

Good reasons to start a blog:

  • You like to write or you want to get better at writing.
  • You have something to say but nobody will listen.
  • You want to join a loose community of crazy blogger people.
  • You want to learn more about web publishing.
  • You have some knowledge or experience that could benefit others.

Bad reasons to start a blog:

  • You want to make a lot of money.
  • You want to make a little bit of money.
  • You want to make even a single cent of money. (Insert your local country’s smallest denomination of currency there.)

I’m not saying it’s impossible to make money by blogging. I’m just saying that “content marketing” is a huge commitment and unless you’re a robot, or quite lucky, or you started your blog ten years ago, your time would probably be better spent on other ways to make money. Perhaps self-publishing an ebook. (Your chances of making money there are small, too, but I would say slightly better.)

The point is that most bloggers blog simply because they love to blog. Starting a blog is intimidating at first–not knowing if you picked the right name, not knowing if anyone will read your posts, not knowing if your RSS feeds are working, not knowing how to insert pictures or fiddle with widgets or customize the CSS or whatever. But over time it gets easier, and you’ll start to find a voice and a rhythm that works for you.

Then, if you’re like me and I’m sure most other bloggers, you’ll eventually lose your voice and your rhythm again and have to re-discover it over and over again. Because blogging, like writing itself, is not always easy. But it’s very rewarding to be able to look back over your body of blogging work as it grows month after month and year after year and say, “Hey, neat, I did that.”

Party Business and Bio Break both have far better lists of the NBI participants than I could do, and of course the NBI site has tons and tons of blogging information.

Welcome and good luck to everyone starting or re-starting a blog this month!

FFXIV – New To Me Dungeon Diary

In my latest FFXIV ventures, I’ve done a number of level 50 dungeons for the first time, which is something I really hate, especially so long after they’ve been out. I just hate being “the new guy” in a dungeon, especially in FFXIV because it actually announces it to everyone. (Fortunately there is a reward to the other players for running with a new person, so nobody is likely to kick you out.) Here is my brief diary of how they went. (Spoiler: They all went better than expected.)

The Wanderer’s Palace. As I recall the only troublesome part of this dungeon is the last boss, and our tank wanted us to burn him instead of dealing with the actual mechanics, so it was pretty easy. (I ran this a second time for a Zenith book and it was the same: Expect to do a “speed run” and basically ignore the mechanics.)

Pharos Sirius. I don’t remember anything about this run, except I’m pretty sure we bulled our way through most of the mechanics without much finesse. I think I died a few times during a trash encounter with Puddings that kept splitting.

Copperbell Mines (Hard). The tank seemed fairly new. The experienced person was very nice but for some reason felt compelled to explain how to do the “speed run” version of the dungeon, so we kept dying because the tank wasn’t used to it. In the first part we ran through and ignored the mobs and focused only on the Stone Walls. With the first boss we did some crazy strategy where we stacked right at the beginning and burned the boss while standing in all the AoEs. It seemed like a terrible idea to me, and I would have hated to be the healer, but it worked on the second try.

Lost City of Amdapor. I went through this with a new, tentative Warrior who was accompanied by an experienced Ninja, and an experienced healer. It went very smooth but kind of slow because this was the first tank I’ve seen in a very long time who didn’t run headlong into danger without any care for the consequences. At some point the healer got impatient and started running ahead to pull things. Normally that would start a fight but in this case I think the tank actually appreciated it. Anyway we had enough DPS that we didn’t have to worry about the doors on the last boss, which was nice because I didn’t really understand them from the video I watched.

Snowcloak. Main Scenario dungeon. Everyone was nice and the run went very smooth, despite nobody saying anything or explaining anything to me. I watched a guide though so I had some foreknowledge of the mechanics. Main Scenario dungeons tend to be easier than the others anyway, and there was very little to worry about except getting out of AoE effects. On the second boss, don’t attack the Spriggans or Snowballs, and on the third boss, run behind the last spike when the Big Bad Wolf does a Lunar Cry, and that was about it.

Keeper of the Lake. Main Scenario dungeon. My first time through this was a very quiet, businesslike run that went smoothly with hardly any complications. The only mechanics I worried about were moving out of AoEs. (Somebody else kicked those canisters around on the second first boss–I’m still not sure how to do that.) I don’t remember any of the trash or bosses being that difficult or complicated, and I’m a bit surprised this is one of the “Expert” roulette dungeons. I ended up with a Bogatyr Bard coat which I thought looked pretty cool so I might just glamour it up if I can get the rest of the set (and all the fiddly bits you need to do glamours).

Something I learned after Keeper of the Lake: I had been under the impression that I needed to unlock all of the “High-level Roulette” dungeons before I could unlock the “Expert Roulette.” But after doing Keeper of the Lake, I noticed that all you have to do is complete the last three dungeons to unlock it, even if you’ve not done any of the others.

P.S. I feel like they should sync down to 90 instead of 110 for some of the earlier 50 dungeons (and Labyrinth of the Ancients). At 110 people can just blitz through them and new people like me end up not knowing anything about the real mechanics. You see it all the time in Labyrinth: Nobody does the Bone Dragon right anymore but everyone is so overgeared that you still make it through somehow.