Killing and Dismembering an HDD

My parents PC started to act up a few weekends ago. I knew the motherboard was defect already, so I have decided to buy everything new, including an SSD – but I thought the old HDD can still be used for data storage. I was ronk. When I built the thing, it was still acting up, and finally I got the message that S.M.A.R.T. detects problems with the drive. So I decided to nix it and throw it out. It did not contain any important information, but even so I wiped it repeatedly, then performed full format, and then I disassembled it, run the platters over with a screwdriver and with strong neodymium magnet. Hopefully not even Nick Fury should now be able to recover the data that once was there, and should he go through the trouble being pissed at finding a bunch of flowers and gingerbread pictures.

When building it back together I did not build in one crucial part – the two half-moon shaped neodymium magnets that you can see to the left of the center in the photo. They are very slim and very, very strong – it is not easy to pry them apart in hand. I decided that they are simply too nice in themselves to throw into recycling and they might be useful in my workshop later on.

Two days later I got an idea how to use them and they might prove to be THE solution to a problem that I was looking for for over a month now, or at least a good part towards a solution. I hope to try that out soon, the weather is getting warmer, the flu or whatever was trying to kill me seems to have failed, so hopefully next weekend I will be able to resume working on knives.

©Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

Youtube Video: Nurgle Plague Sword Build

Michael Cthulu is not a smith, he is a welder. And he does not make historically accurate replicas, he makes ridiculous, humongous swords from computer games that have no chance whatsoever to being actually functional in the real world.

But he is entertaining to watch and he has shown some tricks in his videos that are valuable to me in my workshop – like his unique working goggles with replaceable glasses.

He also seems to be a genuinely nice person, at least judging by the ammount of his products he auctions for charity ever since he makes enough money for comfortable living.

Mild content warning – the video takes almost an hour and contains half-naked and very hairy dude in his fifties doing dangerous things with fire, electricity and fast spinning machinery.

New Game: Foundation.

Foundation is a grid-less, sprawling medieval city building simulation with a heavy focus on organic development, monument construction and resource management.

The game features in-depth resource management akin to the Anno (Dawn of Discovery) series, expertly mixed with city building elements from SettlersSimCity, and Pharaoh all topped with narrative encounters inspired by Crusader Kings II to create the ultimate medieval ant-farm simulation!

In this strategy city-builder economy simulation game, players must create a prosperous settlement as the newly appointed lord of a region untouched by man.

Setting to redefine the city-builder genre, Foundation puts the emphasis on the organic aspects of urbanism in the cities of old, powered by Polymorph Games’ in-house game engine, Hurricane, which allows for full mod support and is optimized for the thousands of moving parts that come with building humongous cities.

Among other things, the engine provides the player with robust building tools to create countless unique monuments that can then integrated into your settlement.

With medieval architecture and urbanism at the forefront of its design, Foundation’s vision is to allow players to recreate cities of that period as they envision them or even as they really were.

You can read and see more about Foundation at Medievalists, or just head straight to the Kickstarter, which has garnered much more than the initial ask.

David Lynch Teaches Typing.

A lesson from David Lynch Teaches Typing (image via rhinostew.itch.io, used with permission).

A lesson from David Lynch Teaches Typing (image via rhinostew.itch.io, used with permission).

Have trouble typing? Perhaps this surreal typing game with David Lynch will help. Or perhaps not.

Super Mario tried to teach me how to type correctly when I was a kid, as did a required semester of typing at my high school, yet I’m somewhat embarrassed to admit that I continue to always look at the keyboard and only use about half my fingers (unevenly favoring my right hand). So when I found out there’s a new typing game taught by a pixelated version of filmmaker David Lynch, I thought this might finally be my chance to learn.

Available as a free download for both Mac OS and Windows, David Lynch Teaches Typing is the brainchild of Los Angeles-based filmmaker Luke Palmer — “no relation to Laura,” he clarified in a phone interview, ensuring me that Palmer is, in fact, his real last name. Palmer and his collaborator, developer Hyacinth Nil, used to work at an after-school program together, where they came across a ridiculous game called Cooldog Teaches Typing. Later, when Palmer spotted a video game where one of the levels took place inside the Red Room from Twin Peaks, he had an “aha” moment. Palmer and Nil worked on the game for about five months before releasing it earlier this month.

You can read and see more at Hyperallergic.

Toy Trends.

AFP/File / Christof Stache.

The Nuremberg Toy Fair opened yesterday, and all the hot new toy trends are making happy waves.

The Nuremberg toy fair, the world’s largest, opened its doors this week to an industry in the throes of reinvention as toymakers vie for the attention of children increasingly glued to smartphones and tablets.

With traditional toy companies torn between joining kids in the digital world or coaxing them away from their screens, here’s a look at some of the most eye-catching trends from the fair’s 69th edition.

[…]

Parents whose pleas to “play outside” routinely go unheeded may be happy to hear that nature is, apparently, in.

Be it the humble spade, magnifying glasses or DIY gardening kits, there’s no shortage of tools to get kids interested in the outdoors. One firm is even offering the chance to raise your own butterflies.

For those who’d rather not get their hands dirty, there’s Beekeeper Barbie — comes with a hive, bottles of honey and tiny bees.

[…]

The boom in board games is showing no sign of slowing as families try to turn off their screens and spend time together, said Heinrich Huentelmann, a spokesman for German giant Ravensburger.

Old classics like Monopoly and Cluedo are perennial favourites, but there’s also been a surge in games that have no winners, such as the smash hit Gravitrax where the goal is to build increasingly complex tracks for marble-type balls.

“We can’t manufacture that one fast enough,” said Huentelmann.

Also in the spotlight are “cooperation games” where the only way to win is for all players to work together to chase a mechanical cockroach from a castle for example.

[…]

Toymakers are taking the “blind bag” craze to the next level this year, betting that children will not just want to collect the ever-more elaborate mini-toys found in surprise packs, but also the matching accessories and play-sets.

Known as “collectibles”, the cheap dolls or fantasy creatures sold inside opaque packaging are essentially the industry’s answer to the “unboxing” trend that caught toymakers off guard a few years ago, when YouTube videos of toys being unwrapped mesmerised kids everywhere.

In 2017, collectibles accounted for eight percent of the global toy market, according to the NPD research firm, making the tiny toys a multi-billion-euro business.

“Kids love the surprise element and being able to trade and swap. Key for parents is the low price,” said Gary Coppen of the Headstart toy company, which is bringing out baby and pet collectibles whose gender is only revealed in water.

And, it’s predicted that Mermaids are going to be the next huge thing, edging out Unicorns. You can read all about it here.

Black Room.

The first landscape encountered in the Black Room interactive game (all images screenshots by the author for Hyperallergic).

The first landscape encountered in the Black Room interactive game (all images screenshots by the author for Hyperallergic).

The second landscape of Black Room.

The second landscape of Black Room.

Here’s an interesting game, Black Room:

The first few minutes of Black Room are a twist on my expectations. I know I’m not playing a traditional game. In fact, according the game’s homepage, I’m playing a “browser-based, narrative game about falling asleep while on your computer, on the internet,” where I play as “an insomniac on the verge of sleep, moving through shifting states of consciousness.”

Created and developed by Cassie McQuater, Black Room is free to play (with the option to donate money), and was “conceived as a feminist dungeon crawler, [and] features a majority female cast of video game sprites from the 1970s–current day.” After the game’s opening sequence — a blue light descends through a heron-filled sky before crashing to the ground and turning into a woman — my fingers are only allowed to do one thing: move my character to the right. As I do, the background comes alive with stars and fantastical birds. I’m moving through this dreamscape, alone. When I click on the “?” in the upper-right corner of the screen, I’m told, “The sky is vast. Yawning, you feel as though you’ve just woken from a long sleep. There is only one direction to travel.” Onward it is.

As a lifelong insomniac, I might have to give this one a try. You can read and see much more at Hyperallergic.

Minecraft and The Middle Ages: All About Teaching.

Chang’an from John Miller on Vimeo.

The simple architectural elements of the game make Minecraft ideal to be used in teaching about the Middle Ages. One example can be found in the recently published book Minecraft in the Classroom: Ideas, inspiration, and student projects for teachers – one chapter examines how John Miller, a history teacher based in California, made use of the game for Grade 7 classes learning about medieval China. The students used the game to recreate the Tang Dynasty capital of Chang’an.

“They were highly motivated and inspired by the work done by previous classes,” Miller explained. “They challenged themselves to learn more and to be better and more historically accurate builders. They created choices for building materials and debated which blocks to use for greater authenticity.”

[…]

He now is planning on enlarging the project so that students “could pass through the gates, travel north on horseback, and encounter the Great Wall. Beyond that be Genghis Khan and the Mongols. As student progress, I’ll create a pathway west that would take them along the Silk Road, with building options to support the study of trade and commerce. They would eventually end in Constantinople and then travel to Florence and learn about Renaissance Italy.”

Other teachers and educational companies have established lesson plans making use of Minecraft. At Wonderful World of Humanities on Minecraftedu.com, detailed resources are offered that allow one to use the game to do things like explore Ancient Lighthouse of Alexandria or live in a medieval castle.

With access to data, the possibilities with this game even grow further. Last year the Danish Geodata Agency used official topographical data to create a 1:1 facsimile of Denmark, including  historical places, buildings, roads and monuments. “You can freely move around in Denmark,” the agency explains, “find your own residential area, to build and tear down as you can in whichever any other Minecraft world.” Meanwhile, the New York Public Library has made it possible for users to turn one of the library’s 20,000 digitized historical maps into a Minecraft world.

There’s much more to read, and many more videos at Medievalists, have a wander!

“I guess all we can do is not watch Star Trek,”

Disclaimer: I have not watched Star Trek Discovery, and unless it’s out on disc one of these days, most likely won’t see it. In spite of the various opinions I have read about it, I am glad there’s serious attention to diversity, we need more of that.

Okay, on to Pete LaBarbera, who is all upsetty about Discovery having a gay couple, portrayed by gay actors. Mr. LaBarbera is opining that this simply isn’t balanced or fair.

LaBarbera discussed the Star Trek news with VCY America’s Jim Schneider on the September 26 episode of the “Crosstalk” program, saying that the show’s decision to include gay characters is another sign that “the homosexual activists are never satisfied, they always want more, more, more.”

Wanting representation is hardly “more, more, more”, Mr. LaBarbera. Quickly, run through your not overused brain, the representation of white straight people. All of history. I’ll wait. This is one show, that is not going to be beamed directly into peoples’ heads or anything. It’s hardly the Queer Revolution, dear.

At the same time, he said, “We have yet to see an ex-gay, a former homosexual prominently portrayed in Hollywood.”

Um, well, first, catch your ex-gay star. I don’t watch bad christian films, but I’m sure this has been covered by one of them. Perhaps you could talk Kevin Sorbo into portraying a ‘former’ homosexual? I’m sure he’d do it, playing the role with all the wooden enthusiasm he brings to his caricatures of atheists. I imagine that the Hollywood number crunchers are fully aware of the fact that trying to make money on a prominent portrayal of a ‘former’ homosexual simply won’t bring an audience. Or money.

“I guess all we can do is not watch Star Trek,” he said, adding that “this sort of propaganda” and “political correctness” is “why Trump won in the first place.”

Yes, that’s fine, don’t watch Discovery. No one will cry about it. As for the rest of your tripe, no, that’s not why the Tiny Tyrant “won”. Corruption is the answer you’re looking for.

When Schneider asked LaBarbera what listeners could do to confront this kind of thing, LaBarbera said, “Remember, the other side never stops fighting. There is a battle between good and evil in this country.” He urged listeners to call their elected officials about enforcing Trump’s announced ban on military service for transgender people and opposing the “very, very dangerous” Equality Act, which “would make it easier for homosexual activists and liberal attorneys to persecute people of faith for opposing this juggernaut which calls itself ‘gay.’”

:near-fatal eyeroll: Oh cupcake…when our mere existence is enough to give you hives, it’s rather difficult to avoid the whole “persecution” shtick. Perhaps you should work on not being so incredibly sensitive, your hysterical tendencies do get all over peoples’ nerves. Go on, go sit in your closet, stick your fingers in your ears, squinch your eyes shut, and whatever you do, avoid Discovery. You’ll be fine.

Via RWW.

Chess As A Comic Book Trope.

Charlton Comics, Vol. 1, No. 36. Strange Suspense Stories (March 1958) (courtesy World Chess Hall of Fame).

Hyperallergic has a great article about The World Chess Hall of Fame in St. Louis, and chess as a comic book trope. Chess was a very common trope in much of pulp fiction, also. There are so many awesome images, I would have agonized over which to include here, so just the one. Click on over to see them all, and do some reading, too.

ST. LOUIS — “Chess and comics are a natural pair,” Shannon Bailey, chief curator of the World Chess Hall of Fame (WCHOF), told Hyperallergic. “The concepts of battle, the struggle of good versus evil, strategy, and speed, have always played a central role in both chess and comic book themes.”

Bailey organized POW! Capturing Superheroes, Chess & Comics now at WCHOF, a nonprofit institution that explores the connections between art and chess in its programming. Founded in 1986 by the United States Chess Federation, WCHCOF opened in St. Louis’s Central West End neighborhood in 2011, following the closure of its Miami museum in 2009. Recent exhibitions range from Designing Chessmen on the imagery of chess, to chess during World War II and the games designs of Michael Graves. WCHCOF is active as a collecting institution, and since POW! opened in March, collectors Floyd and Bernice Sarisohn — whose memorabilia and ephemera form the foundation of the exhibition — have decided to donate their comic books and related sets.

[…]

POW! Capturing Superheroes, Chess & Comics continues through September 17 at the World Chess Hall of Fame (4652 Maryland Avenue, St. Louis, Missouri).

You can read and see everything at Hyperallergic.

Contra & Castlevania Get Design Facelifts.

Contra and Castlevania are two of the most iconic video games in history, and both recently got brand new poster art and soundtrack LPs from Mondo, a record label and gallery that specializes in collectibles for classic and contemporary movies. As Mondo’s record label manager Mo Shafeek tells Creators, commissioning artworks for standalone screen-printed posters and the soundtracks was refreshing, given that the company has mostly worked on film and television soundtracks for many years. For Mondo, these two new sets of work are designed to appeal to anyone with a special reverence for classic video games from the 80s.

Mondo’s Creative Director Eric Garza tells Creators that the posters came about after he got a sneak peek at the soundtrack art. Garza and Shafeek, who were fans of the artists behind the soundtrack work, Eric Powell and Sachin Teng, felt it was a no-brainer that the art could translate into posters.

You can read and see more at The Creators Project.