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I’m alive…ish.

Just in case anyone wonders or cares.

I was out of work for an extended period of time, I’ve been pretty depressed. I’ve finally landed a job, but its mostly 2nd and 3rd shift, which is kinda rough.

Point is, I haven’t obtained any “new” laserdiscs this year, haven’t even looked. Orphan is building up a batch at the moment, so at some point I’ll send them the money for that, and I will get back in the capturing game.

>mfw I see the artwork in Starship Troopers

mfw

The Long ARM of Saki Miyanaga

I have watched the first few episodes of Saki, and I think I will probably try a few more, but I don’t see myself finishing the series or any of the sequels. The series seems to lean on a fundamentally bad premise, best explained by scifi author Larry Niven.

Larry Niven is best known for his “Known Space” universe, including the award-winning Ringworld. In Ringworld, we learn that mankind has been secretly subjected to a eugenics program to develop luck. Yes, “luck” is an actual force in this universe, just roll with me for a moment here.

Niven’s Known Space universe stories cover about a thousand years of human history, ultimately ending with a very lucky human species. But Niven wrote few stories that take place at the end of this timeline, because he quickly realized that having infinite luck is actually pretty boring to write about.

And this brings us back to Saki: Saki is portrayed as having amazing luck. She is practically handed amazing hands right out of the initial draw, and this is portrayed as some sort of “talent.” Sorry, I’m not convinced so much as I am bored. I want to see actual skill and decision-making, and so far I have seen very little of that.

The fact that the series assumes you know all the intricasies of mahjong going in doesn’t help my enjoyment. It could be argued that that’s my own fault, not the show’s fault. And yet, I know none of the intricasies of baseball, yet I loved Touch. I know that you hit the ball and run the bases without getting tagged by the ball. The few times weird rules got involved, they were explained. Saki does not do that, the only explanations we get are in the subtitles themselves, and they go by so quickly as to be almost unreadable.

The whole “light yuri” thing doesn’t work for me either. If you’re gonna go there, just go all-in.

I’m sorry, I got more enjoyment, and more knowledge of the game, from watching the Mondo Women’s Mahjong Championship on Youtube. Saki doesn’t quite work for me.

BLEARGH

I haven’t captured anything in the past few weeks – I’ve been rather ill, like in the hospital ill. I am doing better now. I’ll get back to capturing… soon?

On the upside, I have managed to acquire a very rare treasure. It won’t arrive for a little while yet, but you’ll know it when you see it.

Tag ’em and Bag ’em

Got another shipment of laserdiscs from Japan. I have a huge collection already, and I have learned – the hard way – that I can’t remember everything I own. Its also hard to lay hands on any specific disk, because there are thousands of them to flip through, with spines written in Japanese (which I can’t ready as quickly as my native English). So I have a specific process I started following a few years ago.

First, any original plastic the disks are sealed in, or are loosely sitting in, is trashed. This means that disks that have never been opened are opened – No “mint-in-box” in my collection. The oldest disk I have ever unsealed is Mosaica, which had been sealed for over thirty years. This might upset some, but I have my reasons. For one, I have a number of disks with damaged corners, because the original shitty plastic shrinks, and it crumples them. And I think that laserdiscs are meant to be used, and even if I never play them, I want full access to the disk and any inlays that might be in there.

I replace all of the original plastic with poly sleeves I obtain from bagsunlimited.com. For most disks, I use 12.75×12.75 3mil sleeves with flaps, which are meant for audio records, but work perfectly for laserdiscs, as the dimensions are the same. I do not seal the flaps. I put the disk in with flap on top. The flaps all flop over, which keeps dust out, while at the same time keeping the contents accessible. By not lining up the disk jacket opening with the sleeve opening, it prevents the jacket’s contents from ever accidentaly coming out. Finally, the bags slide against each other very smoothly, allowing one to pull a disk off the shelf easily without scuffing any jackets.

I have additional, specialty, sleeves. I have thin 2mil flapless polybags, which I use for individual disks in boxsets. I have 14×14 3mil flapped sleeves, which I use for smaller boxsets, ones that are 3-4 disks. For larger boxsets, I have very large 2mil sleeves I got off of Ebay years ago, I don’t know the dimensions. I think they came in lots of like 1,000, which is effectively a lifetime supply unless I hit the lottery someday. I have two giant-sized boxsets – Maison Ikkoku, and The End of Evangelion. For those I had to take several extra-large sleeves, cut them up, and re-tape them into custom-sized sleeves.

Next, I catalog the disk in a spreadsheet (https://www.otakubell.com/LDs/listing/). This is a LibreOffice document. I make sure I track the catalog numbers of disks, because as I don’t read Japanese all that well it is often easier to find disks by their catalog numbers.

Finally, I put the disk up on my shelves. My collection currently occupies four entire sets of Ikea Gorm shelving, which I have polyeurathaned to help protect it. I have a number of large flat steel bookends to hold all of the disks upright – two side-by-side sets on either end of each shelving section, help in place with screws, and two side-by-side in the middle for additional support.

However, those shelves are currently full, and I don’t have enough disks, or any room, for a fifth shelving unit yet. So, the overflow is being put into plastic corrugated archival boxes, also from bagsunlimited. Ikea no longer has Gorm, so I’m gonna have to figure that out someday.

OTAKUBELL.COM REVERTED

Unfortunately, ran into a serious problem and had to revert otakubell.com from a backup. Unfortunately, I’ve been a bit lax on backups, so the last backup was from 9/8/16. I’m so sorry.

Gundams I Have Known and Loved (or not)

I’ve had the Gundam franchise on my mind from playing Dynasty Warriors Gundam Reborn, and it has finally prompted me to finally begin watching Gundam Seed. So, here’s all the Gundam I have seen in my lifetime with very brief thoughts:

  • Mobile Suit Gundam – A true classic, and with good reason. Some fruity mech designs, but otherwise quite excellent. Its hard to believe it was actually cancelled – the ending doesn’t feel rushed.
  • Zeta Gundam – Another classic. Its a dark mirror of the original series and a personal favorite. I fansubbed the first half of the series in the pre-digital days, so you know I love that shit.
  • Double Zeta Gundam – Tomino developed this to kill the franchise, and it backfired spectacularly. This series is an absolute insult, and I was insulted. Once I saw Bright reduced to defending the Ahgama with oranges, I was fucking done. Only saw the first four episodes, will not ever watch more.
  • Char’s Counterattack – Great movie, but it requires you to be familiar with the events of the original and Zeta to get the full impact.
  • Gundam F-91 – Starts well, gets more compressed as time moves on. Could have been great as a TV or OVA series, but as a movie, not great. Intriguing, though.
  • Victory Gundam – Covered elsewhere in detail on this site. TL;DR version: Don’t waste your time.
  • Gundam 0080 – Another favorite. It leads you along for the first four episodes, and then shoves you off a cliff. Also features character designs by my favorite artist.
  • Gundam 0083 – Decent enough plot, decent enough action. Falls completely apart on the character level. Kou is boring as shit. Gato is a tin soldier. Why Nina has an interest in these two blockheads is a mystery – she comes across pretty dopey for somebody who is supposed to be some sort of genius. Can’t quite recommend.
  • The 8th MS Team – I could not get into this, because it retcons the UC universe WAY too hard to not be completely distracting. If the Federation had ONE team of Gundams, never mind EIGHT of them, the war would have been over in about a week.
  • G Gundam – I went in with no expectations of liking this, and my expectations were met. Bailed after two episodes, no interest.
  • Gundam Wing – Plenty of plot holes, plenty of plot armor, and Operation Meteor is like the dumbest plan ever. The series is carried by its characters, who are a fairly insane and colorful lot. Entertaining overall, but it isn’t the best Gundam series around.
  • Gundam X – The best intro to any Gundam series I have seen – VERY powerful. Unfortnately, it quickly pissed all of my good will away. Garoad is an awful protagonist. Once you get past the first six episodes, what little plot there was is out the window. This series earned its cancellation. I bailed after episode 8.
  • Turn-A Gundam – Beautiful soundtrack, amazing designs, unique steampunk-ish aesthetic. Unfortunately, there is, as near as I can tell after ten episodes, little in the way of plot, and the characters are all intensely stupid. People love this one, and I wanted to as well, but I do not get it.

Gundam Seed – First Impressions

Though I’ve been capturing LDs, I haven’t actually watched much anime lately. I decided to finally do a little catching up, and decided to watch Gundam Seed, finally.

I have watched the first six episodes, and I am quite impressed.

Server upgrades and whatnot

Otakubell.com has been upgraded.

Otakubell now has more RAM available to it – but that’s not why it was down for as long as it was.

Otakubell was running on Debian 7.x, which, while still getting the occasional update, is the legacy branch.  However, I was not keen on moving to Debian 8.x, because Debian 8.x introduces SystemD(icks).  Now, I don’t mind SystemD on my home computer (I run Manjaro at home).  But I don’t really like the idea of it being on a public-facing machine like Otakubell, because its too broad an attack vector.  Unfortunately, Debian was one of the last holdouts against the SystemD plague.  There’s still Gentoo and Slackware, but eh.

So, I tried switching to FreeBSD.  I had messed with in in virtual machines for a while first, so I was fairly confident at first.  But VMs will only take you so far, and as I got into the minutia of setting up the actual server, I realized I was in over my head.  So, I wound up wiping everything and installing Debian 8 after all.

I have also finally dumped MySQL in favor of MariaDB, because fuck Oracle.

You can expect all sorts of disconnects and instability as I continue to tweak and modify.

NOPE NOPE NOPE

Massive assault launched on my front page today – a whole lot of IPs from all over the globe tried to hax WordPress all at once. They failed. Thanks, Mod_security! Thanks OWASP!  Thanks Marco Gatti for assembling current builds for Debian Wheezy!  (http://www.marco-gatti.com/2014/05/05/stuff/modsecurity-2-8-0-and-mod_pagespeed-for-debian/)