April did, in fact, begin with showers. By which I mean rain.

Taskmaster 15 Is Risen! - April 2023

2,568 words.

Taskmaster 15 Is Risen! - April 2023

April did, in fact, begin with showers. By which I mean rain.

Gaming Context

I can’t think of anything significant that happened in gaming within the last couple of weeks. Perusing the list of games released, I see nothing that has been mentioned by anyone.

Resident Evil (PC)

I finally finished the Resident Evil 3 Remake. It turned out to be a very short game, about 8 hours. Still, thanks to burnout, it took me about a month to complete it. Good game, but, you know, exactly the same as the Resident Evil 2 Remake. Less puzzles, though. Much more of a pure action game. Our heroine Jill sustained at least a dozen concussions from getting knocked around but her hair never strayed out of place.

The next major game, Resident Evil 4 (just released, but I haven’t gotten it yet), moves the setting to Europe with protagonist Leon Kennedy, the hapless rookie cop from Resident Evil 2. There was mention of Europe in one of the notes found in 3. Unfortunately, Leon wasn’t my favorite character. He seemed kind of dumb.

I didn’t expect to become so invested in the characters of the Resident Evil universe and their overarching storylines from game to game. There are a couple of PlayStation games (Survivor and Code: Veronica) that continue some character stories between 3 and 4 that I might at least glance at. Claire’s still looking for her brother Chris–one of the survivors of the “mansion incident”–who was last seen “on vacation” in Europe, according to a suspicious note found in Resident Evil 2. Claire didn’t buy it and I didn’t buy it, either.

Far Cry 5 (PC)

I don’t recall exactly why, but I installed Far Cry 5 again. Remember when Far Cry 5 was controversial and caused a huge uproar? Seems like a long time ago. Now I suppose the only controversial part is that Ubisoft made it; I think they’re still on the list of forever toxic game companies. Anyway, it’s a fun game. All Far Cry games are fun games. It’s just what they are.

I had previously completed the entire Holland Valley (John Seed) region, and have now moved into the Henbane River (Faith Seed) region. I keep hoping for a narrative path that will let me join the cult and turn against the good guys but that’s not the Ubisoft way–the stories are mostly on rails, and, despite a lengthy soliloquy from a character railing against society for robbing him of his free will, you–the player–have no free will whatsoever.

Before now, I’ve played Far Cry 1, 2, 3, and 4 in their entirety, and now I’m playing 5, and someday I’ll play 6 (although the little bit I saw of Far Cry 6–one of the stack of free titles that came with my PS5 last year–appeared to have shockingly awful facial capture). Far Cry games are extremely predictable, but solidly-made first-person shooters from the before times (that is, before the scourge of looter shooters), among the best in class in terms of “feel.” Especially great if you don’t want to deal with the cesspools of human misery found in most online multiplayer shooters, but, at the same time, don’t want to go so far back in time that you’re playing a “boomer shooter.”

Ghost of Tsushima (PS5)

With my patented strategy of playing less than two hours a week, if that, I’ve gotten all the way to 22% game completion on the PS5, which seems extremely high compared to the amount of land area I’ve covered on the map. It’s a pretty rote open world game, to be honest. Much like Assassin’s Creed Odyssey was (and, frankly, the Horizon Zero games). Go to a place that looks mostly the same as any other place in any game, mash some buttons, watch some cut scenes, call it a day.

I switched from Japanese to English dialog. The English voice acting is a lot better than the English was in Sekiro, so it works.

Blog Maintenance

Keen observers (e.g. not me) may have noticed that my comments have been broken since about November.

That’s because the dynamic IP address updater for uvtek.hopto.org hadn’t been updated since then, so the link to my comment server couldn’t resolve. Yes, that’s how long it takes me to notice basic problems on my own web site.

I should setup some kind of notifications for these things, or just turn off comments once and for all. I can’t overstate how much of a massive chore (and minor monetary expense) it is for me to implement comments on a static blog (did I ever write a post on that architecture?). And if no reader mentions a fully missing web site feature for five months, it’s a pretty good indication that the feature isn’t needed at all.

If I do end up removing the comment server, the only way I could see comments returning is in the form of a fediverse reply system, but that would be equally onerous to maintain for a static blog (since, you know, I have to write it from scratch–if anyone is actually interested in building that project I can open up the git repo for contributions).

Otherwise, you know, send me a note on Discord or Twitter (or if you absolutely can’t stand Twitter, I have some Mastodon accounts I could publish but I don’t really watch the fediverse so it’s unlikely I would see any communication there for a very long time, and wouldn’t ever post anything there so it would be pointless to follow me anyway).

I had an idea recently for adding a “send me a message” box, which might be a slightly less onerous chore to setup. The hard part is security, but I think I can do it by adding a couple of cheap AWS resources (an API Gateway and Lambda functions) without having to setup a server anywhere. (The moment you need a VPS or physical server somewhere is the moment that headaches and expenses start to go up dramatically–unless you can work out how to run things from a box in your living room, which isn’t always feasible or advisable. See: recent blog comment outage.)

Spring Account Cleaning (Security)

I decided to start doing some maintenance–Spring Cleaning, if you will–on all my important Internet accounts. Changing passwords, using random strings where possible (anywhere that I log in with a LastPass-enabled browser and don’t have to physically type the password), making sure two-factor authentication is setup, things of that nature.

This was prompted by receiving a “sextortion” email, the first such email I’ve ever received. Or, at least, the first one that didn’t immediately go into a spam folder. Of course nobody has penetrated my home network and installed invisible root kits to secretly record videos of my perverted activities from my webcams and whatnot, but it did prompt me to wonder if there were any vulnerabilities in my online security posture. The email itself actually advised me to change my passwords, so, you know, thanks.

I had changed my Facebook password about six months ago. At that time, I also setup two-factor authentication. Fast forward to now, when I tried to log in only to find the message:

You have Code Generator set up as your two-factor authentication security method, but we’re no longer supporting that feature. If you have previously saved your recovery codes, enter one to regain access to your account.

Everybody’s whinging about Twitter screw-ups but this is a next-level screw-up from Facebook, as far as I’m concerned. To simply stop supporting a two-factor authentication system without sending any notifications that they were going to do so? (I checked–nothing at all from Facebook in my email). Thereby permanently and irrevocably locking people out of their accounts?

And no, of course I didn’t save any “backup” or “recovery” codes. That defeats the whole purpose of two-factor authentication. But I guess I have to start saving those from now on, to protect my accounts from the companies that manage my accounts.

Luckily this rant has a happy ending because I still had a valid login session on an old laptop, and was able to log back into Facebook there and disable two-factor authentication until they figure out how to implement it right. (I set it to both of their recommended authenticators and it immediately told me it did not support them anymore. It seemed safest to disable it completely.)

Day Job

Another sprint has passed (coincidentally, the publishing of a blog post coincides with the end of a work sprint on my new team).

I’m learning about such React-based topics as Flux, Redux, Stores, Reducers, and Sagas, which is a whole different world of terminology for Javascript web development (things that probably didn’t need new terminology but, you know, branding). The bottom line is that the model-view-controller paradigm is out, now it’s store-view-action-reducer-saga, or something like that. Learn the lingo, and that’s most of the battle.

  • Flux: A design pattern for a better way to make Javascript-based web UIs.
  • Redux: A framework that implements and extends the Flux pattern.
  • Store: A place that holds state data used in rendering web pages.
  • Action: A user action, which we used to call an “event,” such as clicking a button.
  • Reducers: A “pure” function that modifies a store based on an action, named after functional programming nonsense.
  • Saga: Still dissecting this one, but I think it’s some sort of state cache.

And this late-breaking new thing to think about: Next.js. Listen to this shockingly new thing that Next.js allows you to do: Run code on the server to reduce load on the client!!! Because you actually can’t run massive monolithic applications in the average web browser’s Javascript engine, it turns out. Who knew?

Anyway, the common refrain I see as an explanation for why these new things exist is that it was too hard for newer developers to understand the older paradigms, so new paradigms were invented to make things “easier to reason about” (a very common modern developer phrase). I personally think the new paradigms make no sense whatsoever, but you know, I understood the old stuff, and still think of every web site as a series of HTTP requests and responses across a network.

In any case, I have learned that React Redux still doesn’t make a large Javascript project not look like a sprawling mess of spaghetti code.

Another common refrain I see a lot is something along the lines of “functional programming is easier to understand than imperative programming, so you should always favor functional patterns.” Even ChatGPT tried to tell me that.

I personally think it’s nonsense. There are developers who reason better with functional programming, and developers who reason better with imperative programming, and I’m one of the latter. I need to see the loops to reach true enlightment.

Video Production

I previously decided to scrap all of my Resident Evil 0, 1, 2, and 3 videos and not upload them. But then I got it into my head that instead of just discarding three months of work, I should edit the 20 videos of the Resident Evil 1 series down into a single video of the entire game. A highlight reel, if you will. That way, my time and the content wouldn’t be completely wasted.

After a Sunday, the full scope of my folly became apparent–it’s quite impossible to condense 16 hours of video into less than an hour and retain any semblence of the original. It takes a merciless mind to butcher out whole sections that you thought were pretty good.

However, continuing this year’s theme of doing something different with video, I do still like the idea of reinventing the traditional Let’s Play series, so I might continue to tinker with the idea. Creating a hybrid between the Let’s Play and a traditional documentary appeals to me. Something that might appeal to both young kids and old curmudgeons, which, at the same time, conveys to non-believers why people like to play video games. I haven’t yet seen anyone crack that puzzle. There are still plenty of people in the world, both young and old, who still dismiss video games out of hand as childish folly.

In the meantime, I changed my mind and started uploading the Resident Evil videos anyway, marked as unlisted. I know how much blog readers love to watch YouTube videos instead of reading, so you should be able to see them in this Resident Evil playlist, but they will otherwise be invisible, since my fickle public did not care much for my Resident Evil 7 videos, so screw ’em.


Rejoice! Taskmaster Series 15 is Risen!* This is the first such series I’m watching live as it happens.

I’m still watching Richard Osman’s House of Games, and I even found some episodes of House of Games Night on YouTube.

I think it would be quite fun to create a quiz show. If I did, it would be heavily inspired by House of Games.

World Context

* An oblique reference to Easter Sunday, which was April 9th–the end of the most exhausting week in the Christian calendar for anyone who works in church music.

And now, the moment you’ve all been waiting for: Proof that I wrote this by hand and didn’t write it with AI (as if you can’t tell just by reading it):

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