Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
Truecrypt Version 6.3a (2009/11/23)
Sun VirtualBox Version 3.1.0 (2009/11/30)
FTK Imager Version 2.6.1 (2009/8/3)
Sysinternals Suite (2009/12/1)
7-Zip Version 4.65 (2009/2/3)
Scale2x Version 2.4 (2009/7/8)
Potrace Version 1.8 (2007/5/22)
Windows Server 2003 Resource Kit Tools (2003/4/28)
Wget Version 1.11.4 (2009/4/29)
Windows Tools (Not Free):
EnCase Version 6.15 (2009/11/19)
Forensic Toolkit 3.0 (2009/9/23)
Tableau Firmware Update Version 6.50 (2009/9/22)
Tableau Disk Monitor Version 1.2 (2009/7/31)
Linux Tools (Free):
System Rescue CD Version 1.3.3 (2009/12/07)
DEFT Linux Version 4.2.1 (2009/10/20)
dcfldd Version 1.3.4-1 (2006/12/19)
The Sleuth Kit Version 3.0.1 (2009/2/2)
Gnuplot Version 4.2.6 (2009/9/3)
Partimage Version 0.6.8 (2009/9/29)
NTFS-3G Version 2009.11.14 (2009/11/15)
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Video of a young Zhao Changjun performing his ditangquan can be seen here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gzubS_5dJww
His extensive digongquan curriculum consists the following:
Linked Five Palms, with Extra Version and 2-Person Version (連五掌(附‧對打))
Kicking in Eight Directions (踢八方)
White Horse Descends Mountain (白馬下山)
Slippery Cart 1, 2, and 3 (滑車一，二，三段)
Drunken Style (醉拳)
Black Tiger Mountain (黑虎山)
Seizing Forgiveness Mountain (奪諒山)
Small Five Hands (小五手)
Hooking Parrying Fist (抅樓拳)
A video of the first form of Su Kegang's digongquan can be seen here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fmpcuyKJpEI
This style of ditangquan seems to favor some unique movements such as toad jumping (蛤蟆式); as a part of chuojiaofanziquan, it also mixes in the unique kicks of that style as well, such as mandarin duck kicking. The existence of weapon methods in this style is also very interesting.
Monday, August 10, 2009
Caltrops, daggers, darts, knives, slings, staves
In 3e, wizards were given the following weapons:
Club, dagger, heavy crossbow, light crossbow, quarterstaff
Unlike clerics or druids, whose limited weapon selection derives from religious views, magic-users have no real reason to avoid weapons like swords, spears, or maces. One reason for limiting their weapons selection might be to limit them to only simple weapons that can be learned easily, but of the weapons listed above, the staff is most definitely not a simple weapon at all, as I have been finding out through personal experience recently!
Any weapon requires some proficiency to be able to use it to kill someone; further, any weapon requires much more proficiency to be able to use it to attack, defend, and parry other weapons skillfully. I would not expect a magic-user to be able to do much with any weapon at the latter level, but some weapons require quite a lot of time to be able to be used at even the former level.
A sword, for example, can be quite heavy, but is rather simple to use in a lethal manner, even for a magic-user (as long as he has the requisite strength to lift it fairly easily). A blunt club is fairly simple to use as well, even though it lacks a blade. However, the long staff is a rather complex weapon that is hard to use in a lethal manner due to its great size and special manner of wielding (i.e. with two hands at different parts of the pole). With skill, the staff can be a very potent weapon, using both ends to attack and defend, by poking, swinging, and blocking; however, without skill, a staff is very hard to use at all.
Thus, although magic-users are often thought of as staff-toting old men, I think that learning to use a staff well would take days and days of training - something that they would probably prefer to spend in the old, musty tower, reading magic tomes.
Perhaps a better list of simple weapons would be:
Caltrops, daggers, darts, sling, crossbow, spear, club, mace, short sword, hand axe, hammer, short bow.
A few heavier weapons are simple as well, and so perhaps a magic-user with STR 13 or more could also use:
Long sword, bastard sword, footman's mace, morningstar, battle axe, staff sling.
Of course, there is nothing wrong with a magic-user using a staff as a walking stick!
Saturday, June 27, 2009
In the end, I decided that I preferred the old PC RPGs compared to the old Japanese console RPGs, so I went in another direction (i.e., Dungeon Craft). Still, it was a good system for what it was, with a well-made interface and nice graphics.
Incidentally, many years back I was working on quite an ambitious game with this program, with lots of art (including big, anime-style pictures), but my hard disk basically blew up and I lost it all! Needless to say, that really sucked, and I had instantly lost many hours of work. I do sort of want to "revive" that somehow, but... I would have to redraw everything and all...
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Today, I spent a few hours fiddling with a less console-like and more PC-like RPG construction kit, Hephaestus, by Mark Damon Hughes (URL: http://markdamonhughes.com/Hephaestus/index.php). This particular RPG engine requires some programming in Java, but does come with a mapping tool. Luckily for me, Hephaestus seems to use 48 x 48 icons in general, so I tried using my Dungeon Craft art and seeing what I could come up with:
Not so bad, eh? Luckily, it seemed happy with 48 x 48 icons (the sample game uses 48 x 70 for humans), although some conversion was necessary (namely, it uses separate GIF files for each frame (with a particular naming scheme), as opposed to Dungeon Craft's unified PNG files with all frames). Unfortunately, there were a few problems that bugged me:
- I was unable to make maps larger than 11 x 11. Strangely, in the Map Editor, even though you can select map sizes larger than 11 x 11, it doesn't seem to let you edit any spaces outside the minimum 11.
- I was unable to set equipment types (i.e., I wanted to have my dagger in the map be a weapon so that Irene could equip it), leaving my poor player unequipped and usually an easy target for the ice troll wandering around there...
For smarter people than me, there is the option of generating maps automatically through Java coding, but that is somewhat abstract and hard for ol' me. As it is, this RPG kit does have good potential, especially for Java-conversant folks, especially if one is into old Rogue- or Ultima-type games. I confess that my ideal is something like an overhead-view Gold Box game, or maybe Ultima VI, or something like the Baldur's Gate series; I guess I never really got into the whole Rogue-like thing.
Saturday, May 23, 2009
Thursday, May 21, 2009
There are both English and Japanese sections; perhaps in the future I will add a Chinese section, but my Chinese is not really up to par (not sure if I can manage that). At present, the only members are me, myself, and I, so please go ahead and join! Feel free to be the first poster (there are some events listed, however).
The name of the board is Orthodox Baguazhang Research Society (正宗八卦掌研究社), and I hope it can serve to unite the various branches of orthodox baguazhang so that we can research together. (Orthodox, meaning verifiable lineages from Dong Haichuan - no home-grown bagua, please!)
Saturday, May 16, 2009
Still, as I am a lazy person in general, I think I will use this as-is, and also leave the blank gray areas (on the tops and sides of the walls) as-is, too.
I do have to go and make four versions of the background at some point, though (so that is three more than I have now), because it is a bit weird that there are mountains no matter which direction you walk in...
Thursday, April 30, 2009
Unfortunately, a lot of rare animals discovered by science fairly late are given obscure and irrelevant names like "Przewalski's Horse," "Baird's Beaked Whale," and "Dice's Cottontail." Although it may seem that these animals were named after the scientists who discovered them, this is not the case - most often, they are named after famous people (often biologists) chosen by the discoverers. These names may be meaningful to the biologists who named them, but they aren't very descriptive of the animals that they describe. Even worse, this rather meaningless trend continues as scientists discover new animals and try to select appellations of a similar note.
Luckily, it seems that, at least in some groups, these sorts of names are falling out of favor; at any rate, sometimes we have other options to use when talking about these animals. For example, the Prezewalksi's Horse is sometimes called the "Asian Wild Horse" or "Mongolian Wild Horse;" in older days it was sometimes known as the "True Tarpan" or "Mongolian Tarpan." The Baird's Beaked Whale is sometimes grouped together with the very similar "Arnoux's Beaked Whale" and called the "Giant Beaked Whale." These latter names are much better and more interesting.
On another note, when including such animals in a CRPG (such as Dungeon Craft), these more descriptive common names can be useful, as it would make little or no sense to have your adventurers encounter a "Baird's Beaked Whale" or "Prezewalski's Horse."
Sunday, April 19, 2009
The seminars appear to be concentrating on Liang style as passed down through Guo Gumin's (郭古民) disciple Gao Ziying (高子英) and then his son Gao Jiwu (高繼武), taught in monthly chunks of material, from foundational calisthenics, walking circles, the old eight palms, basic palms, elbows, kicks, locks, and throws, linear palms, linked palms, and even weapons. At $150 per seminar, this looks like a great opportunity for New Yorkers to learn substantial parts of the Liang baguazhang system, which is in general somewhat conservative and closed-door. (A bit of material from other styles is mixed in, notably the Tiangan (天干) exercises which come from Gao Yisheng (高義盛) style, as well as a few exercises from other styles, like crane stepping, which comes from Yin style.) Of particular interest are the weapon seminars, like the Bagua 64 Saber (六十四刀), which is normally quite hard to get teachers to teach you...
If people are hesitant to sign up for ALL the seminars (there are 20 planned altogether), I would recommend at least the following six, which cover core Liang style material:
Seminar 2: Fixed Posture Palms (定式八掌) - circle walking, of primary importance in baguazhang.
Seminar 6 and 7: Old Eight Palms (老八掌) - technical basis of baguazhang
Seminar 17 and 18: Bagua 64 Saber (六十四刀) - oversized saber, one of the representative weapons of baguazhang
Seminar 19: Bagua Rooster Claw Yin Yang Knife (鷄爪陰陽鴛鴦鋭) - unique weapon of baguazhang, said to be Dong Haichuan's (董海川) favorite weapon
In addition, the following six would be very nice as well:
Seminar 10: Elbow Methods - various elbow forms
Seminar 11: Throwing Methods
Seminar 12 and 13: 64 Hands (六十四手) - linear forms created by Liu Dekuan (劉德寬)
Seminar 15 and 16: Linking Palms (連環掌) - linking form, advanced version of old 8 palms
Of course, all courses would be even better, but...
There is of course additional material in Liang style baguazhang (such as swordplay, additional techniques, training methods, forms, etc.) - perhaps one could join Tom's regular class for some of that...
Thursday, April 2, 2009
As Japan is a rather clean country, Japan's population has steadily been succumbing to cedar allergies, while the government seems to do nothing about it at all. As a result, Japan's allergy sufferers have been quietly buying up antihistamines, surgical masks (to block the pollen), noseplugs, lozenges, and other products advertised as alleviating allergy symptoms. This is good for companies producing such products, but for most people, the cedar pollen season (from around Valentine's Day to May or so - not short by any standard!) is mostly a horrible time of running noses, difficulty sleeping (due to stuffed noses), and fatigue.
I personally have tried a number of methods to alleviate symptoms, while avoiding antihistamines (because I generally dislike medicine), and have found varying results:
- Baguazhang Walking: the prime training method of baguazhang, i.e. walking in circles, seems to have a rather strong effect in alleviating allergy symptoms. Walking in circles for 20 minutes in the morning usually alleviates the majority of my symptoms for a whole day; walking 10 minutes or so is less effective, but is still much better than not walking at all. In general, I can also sleep quite normally (I don't have to wake up in the middle of the night), so it seems that the effect lasts for a rather long time.
- Yogurt with Active Cultures: yogurt with active cultures seems to act as a mild antihistamine; imbibing the stuff works quickly with almost instant reduced symptoms (although they do not disappear). The effect seems to last for 5 hours or so, so it may be necessary to eat the stuff several times a day if one is depending on yogurt only. Yogurt substitutes that contain active cultures, such as Yakult drinks, seem to have a similar (if weaker) effect. This year, active culture yogurt with fruit added is being sold, which is nice; before, they only sold plain active culture yogurt, which is a bit too sour for my tastes.
- Showers and Baths: taking a shower or bath after getting home wipes the body clean of pollens picked up while walking around outside, giving one a welcome respite from the sniffles at least until one has to go out again. This often helps one to sleep soundly as well (make sure that you change into clean, pollen-less clothes)! Some people additionally vacuum their clothes and hair when entering the house to enhance the effect, or buy air purifiers to use at home.
- Lozenges: various lozenges purported to contain yogurt, pollen, and other ingredients that alleviate allergy symptoms are for sale in Japan, but they only seem to have a minor effect, if any. Mostly, I found that they seem to clear the nose (much like other minty lozenges), but only if one has but minor allergy symptoms.
- Shiso and Shiso Drinks: shiso (a kind of leaf) is often purported as a good remedy for allergies in Japan, resulting in various shiso juice drinks being sold during the allergy season. Although they taste okay, they did not seem to have much of an effect on my allergies (I tried chewing on a shiso leaf as well, but that did not work, either; perhaps red shiso leaves work better, but they are not available during the cedar pollen season).
By far, solution #1 worked best for me with the longest duration of effect; nowadays I depend on it, with some of solution #2 as well for good measure (I like yogurt, anyway) or for when I wake up too late in the morning.
Sunday, March 29, 2009
However, it is important to note that Miffy, a rabbit character very similar to Hello Kitty, was created in 1955, 19 years before Hello Kitty, by Dick Bruna in the Netherlands (Miffy's Dutch name is Nijntje). Dick himself thinks that Hello Kitty is a clear copy of Miffy, as he noted in the July 31, 2008 edition of the British paper The Daily Telegraph:"'That,' he says darkly, 'is a copy [of Miffy], I think. I don't like that at all. I always think, "No, don't do that. Try to make something that you think of yourself'.'"
Perhaps it is important to give credit where it is due - Japan owes its current character aesthetic to Dick Bruna,whose Miffy is often mistakenly thought of as a Japanese creation today. (Japan has, however, characteristically worked very hard to mass-produce a huge number of characters based on this aesthetic, though, which has ironically ultimately resulted in the very misconception that that aesthetic is natively Japanese.)
Sunday, March 15, 2009
1. (East) Asians may not be cast as leads in any movies, even specifically Asian ones, unless they are Jackie Chan or Jet Li (other Asians who happen to know kung fu unfortunately do not count). This is good because Caucasians with hair dyed black look exactly like Asians and can hardly be differentiated (pure genius!) - so basically, we don't need Asians in movies (except for Jackie and Jet).
2. Asian males are not allowed to have kiss scenes (or (gasp!) love scenes), ever, even if they are Jackie Chan or Jet Li, because that would be offensive. (Asian females are allowed to have kiss scenes with Caucasian males, however, because, you know, that's cool.)
Basically, this means that Asians may only be cast as:
1. Kung fu masters (but only Jackie Chan, Jet Li, or a few others. Being Asian (even Chinese) and learning kung fu does not give you this right. Females get it a bit easier here).
2. Yakuza/Triad members or otherwise shady characters
3. Dorky/horny/harmless buddy-type character
Now, I know that Hollywood is afraid that casting Asians in its main roles will make its movies automatic failures - this is understandable, as Asians are of course lacking in attractiveness and coolness and all that; I'm not blaming anyone. Heck, I've never even watched the Avatar TV show even once - although I am glad that they based the main character's martial art on my own favorite martial art, baguazhang. I do think that they could have at least given a few of the main characters' roles to Asians (heck, the usual rule is that Asian girls get roles while Asian guys don't) and helped a few starving actors break their fasts and get some roles for once.
These last 10 years or so, I do think there are slightly more Asian actors in movies now, but only a little - it would be nice to see more progress soon.
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
- Dungeon Craft allows any size of combat icons, as long as they are in some multiple of 48 pixels (i.e., the smallest icon will be 48 x 48 pixels, which is twice the size of the typical FRUA icon (24 x 24 pixels)). This means that I can draw all monsters (even huge ones like dragons) to a constant scale, which tickles both my amateur biologist tendencies (I can draw all sorts of existing and extinct animals to the same scale) as well as my RPG nerd tendencies (I can also draw dragons, trolls, and so on to the same scale for comparison). The size is also a fairly reusable one - I can use these same images as 2-frame animated gifs, or just line them up together to make a cetacean sizes chart (for example - this is one of my "secret" dreams) - the ability to reuse images is always nice.
- Dungeon Craft allows various resolutions, but I use the 640 x 480 one. 640 x 480 is nice, because it is smooth and detailed enough that creatures look fairly realistic, but it is also easier to realistically achieve than higher resolutions such as 800 x 600 or greater. As I basically use pixel art as my method for creating graphics, higher resolutions means much more work, and so it is always nice to be able to find a good compromise between smoothness and workload.
- Dungeon Craft does not use palettes, meaning that artists can freely create PNG files as they like (well, except for alpha transparency). Palettes are a headache to play with, and it is always nice to be able to ignore them (I have used them in other game maker engines and found them a headache in general).
On the downside, all of this means that I tend to spend more time drawing animals and such than working on my game... but hopefully it will culminate with my game being more detailed and interesting in the end.
Wednesday, March 4, 2009
In addition, in the 20th year of Guangxu (光緒二十年) (1894), Liu Dekuan, Liu Weixiang (劉維祥) (Guo Yunshen's (郭雲深) disciple of the Xingyi school), Cheng Tinghua (程廷華) (Dong Haichuan's disciple), Geng Jishan (耿繼善) (Liu Qilan's (劉奇蘭) disciple of the Xingyi school), and Li Cunyi (李存義) (also Liu Qilan's disciple) met in Beijing to combine the three families of Taiji, Bagua, and Xingyi into a single family, removing stylistic boundaries to study together and improve the arts. Through these exchanges, Liu Dekuan was able to further his study of Baguazhang and learn Xingyiquan as well.
As Liu Dekuan was well-versed in many styles and methods, he is an enigma in that a great many schools of martial arts are connected to him.
Liu Dekuan taught his taijiquan, which in modern times has been called "baguataijiquan" (八卦太極拳), to Cheng Youlong (程有龍) (Cheng Tinghua's eldest son), Guo Gumin (郭古民) (Liang Zhenpu's (梁振浦) disciple), and Wu Junshan (吳俊山) (Shi Jidong's (史計棟) disciple). Cheng Youlong taught Li Cunyi's disciple Guo Zhushan (郭鑄山) in his father's name. Guo Gumin taught Wu Yue (吳岳). Wu Junshan taught Zhang Xiangwu (張驤伍) of the Baji school, Fu Shuyun (傅淑雲) who later emigrated to Taiwan, He Fusheng (何福生), and Zhang Wenguang (張文廣) of the Cha school.
Liu Dekuan taught Six Combinations Boxing to Liu Caichen (劉彩臣) and Zhao Xinzhou (趙鑫州)； Liu Caichen in turn taught Ma Yuqing (馬玉清), Wu Zizhen (吳子珍) who later founded the Simin Martial Arts Society (四民武術社), and Yin Ruchuan (尹如川) who later emigrated to the United States. Zhao Xinzhou taught Wan Laisheng (萬籟聲) who later learned the Natural Style (自然門) from Du Xinwu (杜心五) (who was famous as a bodyguard of Sun Yat-sen (孫中山)) and Liu Hongjie (劉洪傑) who later joined the Bagua school.
The Bagua school in particular benefited greatly from Liu Dekuan's efforts, absorbing Liu's qinna (擒拿) methods, spear skills, halberd skills, and the 64 hands (六十四手). The 64 hands are a linear Baguazhang set of 8 lines of 8 techniques, based on Liu's rich experience in baguazhang as well as his experience in the other arts outlined above. Another method that is often attributed to him is the fighting body spear (戰身槍), a well-known Bagua spear set. Liu Dekuan taught his baguazhang methods to Guo Gumin, Cheng Youlong, and others, who in turn passed them on to others in the Bagua school.
Monday, March 2, 2009
1. Why is Goku not Asian?
Specifically, Goku should be Chinese, as "Goku" is just the personal name part of "Son Goku," which is the Japanese pronounciation of the Chinese name "Sun Wukong" (孫悟空), which is, as we all should know, the name of the protagonist of the famous Chinese novel "Journey to the West" (西遊記), sometimes known as "Monkey" in the English world. Yes, Dragonball was a very loose adaptation of this story, which is obvious to almost anyone familiar with it! "Goku" (what ever happened to his surname, anyway?) should most certainly NOT be a Caucasian high school boy who is being bullied at school, or whatever.
2. Why does this movie seem so much like a gazillion other Hollywood movies?
Specifically, the movie seems like any other superhero movie, where an all-American kid gets superhuman powers (rather easily), and then beats up the high school bully (yes, high school bully) with his newfound powers, and then goes and saves the world! It just seems weirder with the strange, orange uniform and stretchy staff that he has to carry around.
3. Why is Goku so old already?
Hollywood has always loved having their heroes be aged around 16-20 or so. Japanese comics prefer their heroes being aged around 10-14 or so. This is not as drastic a change as the above two points, but this also reeks of Hollywood standardization (i.e., the inability to make movies besides the ones one already has made). I also wish they kept the talking animals... Oh, and Krillin, too...
4. Why is "Roshi" Chow Yun-Fat?
Sorry - but where's the beard? And why is he so young-looking? I hope that they at least kept him a pervert... It would also have been nice if Chow Yun-Fat actually knew some kung fu...
5. What is with the "standard girl kung fu pose" that Chi Chi is flashing? (You know, front first low, back fist high and next to the cheek - check Charlie's Angels posters for other examples of this.) I wish that they would look to actual kung fu styles for better (or just alternate) poses...
I am sure that there are more problems with this movie that I will think of later...
Friday, February 6, 2009
1. Draw only the closest straight wall and then use Photoshop to distort the others walls to the right shape. This method is quick compared to the others, but stretching the first wall to the size of the other walls can be tricky (my attempts always seem to be slightly wrong...). Some retouching is sometimes required after distorting.
2. Draw all walls by hand! This method is slow, manual, and rather hard! Although I have done a few walls this way, I think I will only reserve this method for special "walls" like trees, etc.
3. Same as #1, but using only a few colors to make the work faster and simpler - in this case, only 10.
At this point, I think that method #3 has won out - I like drawing monsters and animals more than walls, so the less work, the better...
Now that I have one wall that I like, perhaps I will need a new door to go along with it, or perhaps a nice background for indoor locations?
(Edit: Uh-oh - I just noticed that I made a boo-boo and stretched the closest side-walls wrong! Guess I will have to fix this tonight...)
(Edit #2: Finally replaced the image and fixed the wall! Phew...)