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branchandroot: oak against sky (Default)
And, lo, here we have the Subscribe to Filters poll.

I tend to post a lot of things locked and filtered. Some security decisions I make myself, but most of my filters are content filters. The divisions are as follows:

Filter descriptions and poll )
branchandroot: pen with burning ink (ink burns)

Cross-post from my archive.

Fandom/Arc: Have and Hold, Kuroko no Basuke
Characters/Pairings: Aomine Daiki, Kagami Taiga, Kuroko Tetsuya, Kuroko/Aomine/Kagami
Summary: Kuroko decides to push Aomine a little further, and offers to spank him for breaking his collar (again). Aomine is perfectly pleased, but Kagami needs a bit more reassurance.
Meta: D/s, Porn, I-4
Wordcount: 2880

"You know," Tetsu murmured, fingers stroking over the line of Daiki's new collar, "sometimes I think you let them break just so I'll put another on you."

Daiki looked up at him, relaxed by the feeling of being collared again. "You did say that you would, as often as necessary."

The corners of Tetsu's mouth curled up faintly, and he set his fingers under Daiki's chin, keeping his head tipped back. "I did, and I will. Though I'm starting to wonder if I should punish you, when you break another one, for putting me to the trouble."

Ring Led )
branchandroot: Fay grinning (Fay grin)
It's been a while since I did an anime review, but this one is special.

So, you know how there's been a fad for "let's do something with the historical figure of Oda Nobunaga" anime lately? Most of them are silly or boring or both. This one... you kind of had to be there.

So, our main focal characters are a shy schoolgirl who's the reincarnation of Oda Nobunaga and a cool-type silver-haired bishounen who's the reincarnation of Jack the Ripper (only actually it's weirder than that). Together they fight alien monsters!

Along with the reincarnations of Mahatma Gandhi, lecherous schoolboy, and Issac Newton, busty blonde bombshell. You... kind of had to be there.

Our Heroine, Shiho, is a strategic genius when it's really crunch-time, and when she can take time out from madly fangirling the tanks and jets she suddenly finds herself surrounded by. Did I mention she's a total weapons geek without any influence from her "E gene progenitor" at all? She is. It's unspeakably cute when she starts getting shoujo sparkles over military hardware. And she invariably saves the day with her enormous gun. She's every shounen fighting trope ever, mashed up with every shoujo wallflower trope ever. I love it.

The best part, though, is how our focal characters are, in fact, a classic romantic trope! Kind of. They fight like cats and dogs, and only stop bickering to wreak bloody mayhem... at which point they really get along. They bond romantically over their mutual occupation as bloodthirsty psychopaths. They get these identically insane smiles. It's adorable.

...possibly you had to be there for that one, too.

The ending is a little abrupt if you're expecting several seasons of action, but if you watch it as, essentially, a one season romance of bloodthirsty psychopaths saving the world, it totally works. It also helps if you envision the writers running around behind the scenes jamming lampshades on every single trope they can cram in, cackling with glee all the while.

In short, I definitely recommend it!
branchandroot: pen with burning ink (ink burns)

Cross-post from my archive.

Fandom/Arc: Have and Hold, Kuroko no Basuke
Characters/Pairings: Midorima Shintarou, Takao Kazunari, Takao/Midorima
Summary: Comes in the middle of "A Good, Free, and Unconstrained Will". Takao won the coin toss. Midorima doesn't actually mind that.
Meta: D/s, Porn, Fluff, I-4
Wordcount: 895

Shintarou lay waiting for him, breathing deep and quick, but still not looking. And that was why Kazunari let him keep that arm over his face for a while; he was, after all, a point guard, and no one should be surprised if he liked to be in control. The way Shintarou's breath caught when Kazunari's hands slid down his thighs to spread him wider, the open way he moaned when Kazunari's cock pushed into him, the way he relaxed into Kazunari's hands so easily, Kazunari loved all of those.

Heads or Tails )
branchandroot: pen with burning ink (ink burns)

Cross-post from my archive.

Fandom/Arc: Fullmetal Alchemist, Tamashii
Characters/Pairings: Alphonse Elric, Edward Elric, Scar
Summary: Al finds his brother. In a way. LAST CHAPTER, INCOMPLETE
Meta: Drama, I-3
Wordcount: 632

Even asleep, Al could tell this dream was different.

The Simple and the Subtle - Chapter Five )
branchandroot: pen with burning ink (ink burns)

Cross-post from my archive.

Fandom/Arc: Fullmetal Alchemist, Tamashii
Characters/Pairings: Alphonse Elric, Scar
Summary: Gil assists Al and has a bit of an epiphany, and finds some peace with his past.
Meta: Drama, I-3
Wordcount: 1410

Alphonse looked stubborn. "I need to not be afraid. If I'm afraid of the Gate, I'll just keep running away from it and forgetting and I'll never be able to find Nii-san through it." The stubbornness shifted into the earnest entreaty Gil was far more wary of. He had fewer defenses against it. "Please, Gil-san. I do think it should be you."

Gil stifled a sigh. He wasn't at all sure he was ready for the burden of that trust, but if it was laid on him already he couldn't bring himself to break it. "Very well."

The Simple and the Subtle - Chapter Four )
branchandroot: pen with burning ink (ink burns)

Cross-post from my archive.

Fandom/Arc: Fullmetal Alchemist, Tamashii
Characters/Pairings: Alphonse Elric, Scar
Summary: Al settles into closer company with Gil and, as the year draws on, finds the key he needs—if he can use it.
Meta: Drama, I-3
Wordcount: 1895

He frowned down at the sheaf of papers in front of him, the delicately colored and carefully labeled concentric circles and the dissertation below on their interrelations. "All these accounts and explanations... they all talk about joy," he murmured.

"Of course." Alec-san blew on a carefully copied page to dry it and pulled up a fresh sheet of paper, turning to the next page. "They speak of the pathways to completion, to perfection, if you will."

Al frowned some more, tapping his pencil against his chin. If that was so, then why was it only fear that he remembered?

The Simple and the Subtle - Chapter Three )
branchandroot: pen with burning ink (ink burns)

Cross-post from my archive.

Fandom/Arc: Fullmetal Alchemist, Tamashii
Characters/Pairings: Alphonse Elric, Amos, Scar
Summary: Gil does his best to make restitution and finds himself being drawn out by Al.
Meta: Drama, I-3
Wordcount: 2600

Gil had not been surprised when Alphonse mentioned nightmares. The boy had died, been hauled back by his heels and bound to a suit of armor, tramped all over the country running after the false hope of the Stone, been transmuted into the Stone, and finally sacrificed those years of love and effort to be returned to true life. Nightmares were surely to be expected. He hadn't quite expected his new houseguest to start up in the middle of the night, screaming, though.

He certainly hadn't expected it to happen every night.

The Simple and the Subtle - Chapter Two )
branchandroot: pen with burning ink (ink burns)

Cross-post from my archive.

Fandom/Arc: Fullmetal Alchemist, Tamashii
Characters/Pairings: Alphonse Elric, Amos, Scar
Summary: Al goes to Ishvar, searching for answers.
Meta: Drama, I-3
Wordcount: 2380

Al sighed. Getting to New Ishvar had been simple. Finding the temple had been even easier; it was the tallest building in the city and by far the most finished-looking one. The next step was proving a little harder.

The Simple and the Subtle - Chapter One )
branchandroot: rainbow D (DW rainbow)
I would just like to thank the DW spam killing team: overnight I got one of those idiotic "contact me with your credit details so I can send you money from overseas" personal messages, and by the time I logged in this morning the user was already suspended.

*kisses to the spam team!*
branchandroot: Yuugi facepalming (Yuugi oy veh)
I upgraded to Mavericks, mostly to get desktop iBooks. It wasn't too bad an experience.

I had to re-set a handful of settings, of course, in particular the nohidden flag so I can see my own goddamn Library folder, honestly what do they think we are fucking two year olds? And, because I do website development, I had to go through the command-line song and dance to re-enable php and re-define /user/Sites as the root folder for the built in instance of Apache, which was exactly as much of a pointless pain in the ass as always but at least no more so. Aside from that, though, this was a remarkably smooth upgrade.

Download of the installer took about ten minutes, and that was only the day after release. Installation itself took about an hour total, and only badgered me for authentication twice, once at the start and once at the end. Nothing crashed afterwards. There weren't even any alarming hang-times.

Of course, I did my homework and updated my Javascript runtime instance beforehand (and even so Vuze was a diva and demanded to update its own local version separately, but that was one of those "hit yes and make tea while you wait for a restart" things, no pain involved). But all my Adobe and similar products lit right up the first time I opened them after upgrade, with no snarls. And I'd already turned off my Calibre notifications, which is currently causing crashes on that one. So everything works and nothing is too weird, though I could do with a few more options for the interface settings of Notes (for which read: any options at all, especially larger font without having to manually select all and increase the font size of every note individually or else edit /Applications/Notes.app/Contents/Resources/en.lproj/DefaultFonts.plist, I mean seriously).

I even quite like the new Calendar, which gives much more sensible views of your schedule at month end-and-start than the old "fake blotter" model.


As I said, I updated mostly to get iBooks on my desktop. And most of iBooks is very well done. The Category (that is, genre) and Collections and Authors all manifest as sidebars from which you can select to see the books in that group, and it's easy to switch back and forth among them. The "shelf" (grid view, rather) discreetly vanishes when you select a book to open unless you click the book's toolbar to get it back, and returns just as automatically when you close the book window. Once you click on the body of the book window itself, the space-bar will page forward/down like any sensible desktop app. There is no page animation, but there is the very briefest instant of slide animation to cue the eyes that a new page has been "turned" to. You can have iBooks display author and title in addition to cover, for each book on the "shelf", which is a definite value-added option. Best of all, you can have more than one book open at a time, a true boon for academics.

Minor gripes: the authors are sorted by first name, not last, which is utterly counterintuitive to me, and you can't change that. The sort options within groups are by title, date-added, or manual, manual meaning literally drag and drop, with no option to sort by author within a genre or collection which is frankly a bit of idiocy. Those are relatively minor, though, and I've certainly seen worse in other reader apps.

There is truly only one unforgivable sin Apple has committed with this app, but it's a doozy: there is no way to access a book's metadata any longer. In iTunes, you could change a book's metadata just like you could change the data of any other file. No longer. If there's a typo in the author's name, or you want to change the category/genre to something more intuitive or useful to you? Tough luck, sucker! There's no way. You can't even hunt down the iBooks folder of book files (which, incidentally, is hidden inside a container so you have to find the container where it's tucked away in a very non-obvious place, right click and tell it to show package contents, and then navigate to the actual book file folder from there) and open the file there to change anything via Get Info, because every book file is renamed with a random alphanumeric string and you can't tell which is which! The intention seems to be to make it as impossible as can be to do anything with the book files except through the GUI, and the GUI has no options for editing any of the metadata. Absolute fail, Apple, absolute fail.

Just to make things even better, just when Apple has figured out how to make Collections and Authors and Categories useful for organization and navigation in the desktop version, the iOS version of iBooks has made them absolutely fucking useless. It used to be that viewing Authors gave you all the authors in your library, and same for Categories. Now? Those views only give you the authors or categories inside whatever Collection you're currently in! Hello, what the fuck good is that going to do me, Apple, you morons? The iOS iBooks has just become nearly un-navigable unless you either a) use only Collections to organize and find things or b) don't use them at all. Can you actually fail any harder on this front, Apple? (Ironically, using the Author 'view' within a collection that you are also viewing in grid/shelf format acts to order the collection by author, the one thing that the desktop version won't do. Are these versions being developed by two mutually feuding dev teams or something?)

So my verdict: use Calibre to curate your ebook collection, and only use iBook to read and annotate it across devices.
branchandroot: pen with burning ink (ink burns)

Cross-post from my archive.

Fandom/Arc: Fullmetal Alchemist, Tamashii
Characters/Pairings: Alphonse Elric, Pinako Rockbell, Rose Thomas, Winry Rockbell
Summary: Al visits home and tells everyone about how his studies are coming, and Rose talks sense to him.
Meta: Drama, I-3
Wordcount: 1218

Al ignored the rattle of the train wheels to scowl over his notebook, certain at the bottom of his heart that his notes weren't going to do him any good. Plenty of people wrote about the Stone, but as far as he could tell no alchemist, in four hundred years and more, had written down anything about the Gate. Given his own experiences, he supposed he couldn't blame them, but still...! And Sensei must agree that his books were a dead end, or she wouldn't have loaded him on the train for a visit home without a single book to his name except one volume of poetry he'd bought a year ago and hadn't opened since.

Rotation )
branchandroot: pen with burning ink (ink burns)

Cross-post from my archive.

Fandom/Arc: Fullmetal Alchemist, Tamashii
Characters/Pairings: Alphonse Elric, Izumi Curtis
Summary: Al stumbles over the clue to finding his brother that he was looking for, in a way he didn't expect. (Continued after a seven year hiatus, I recommend re-reading the first two stories in the arc.)
Meta: Drama with Angst and Philosophy, I-3
Wordcount: 1468

Al picked an easy path, down by the lakeshore under the trees where the light rain wouldn't get him too wet. Sensei was probably right. His brain felt so full it might spill if he moved too fast, and his thoughts jostled against each other. He was pretty good at modern alchemical codes, but he'd been reading much older texts, and if you went back far enough it was as much philosophy as science and every statement seemed to mean at least three different things at once. Probably more, actually, but he had threes on the brain; it was Trismegistus' fault. And Salmon's. Mercury meant spirit meant animal, and where did that get him?

Not the Direction of Gravity )
branchandroot: Hatsuharu looking pissed (Haru black)
Apple TV continues to be an unsupported piece of shit hardware, and I have my eye on the rplay app coming out for Raspberry Pi, and another eye on developments in the digital receivers. Because it might be better to get a good /receiver/ from someone who knows how the fuck to do A/V electronics. Not that the old Technics isn't still going strong, but that kind of makes the point; a good receiver is way better than a piece of hardware the company calls a "hobby" and yet releases and charges a hundred bucks for anyway.

Fuck you, Apple, you have so lost my respect as a company, lately.

This post brought to you by the developing buzz and popping in my precious Bose speakers and the two hours of carting different bits of speakers and cable around the house in an effort to find some configuration that would test where the problem was. !Surprise, it was the Apple TV.

Notes so far, for fellow sufferers:

The wi-fi signal dropping problem can be mostly fixed by re-ordering your network in Settings > Network > little gear button. Put wi-fi on top, save, and restart. Note that iTunes itself is partially at fault, and will still drop the TV sometimes if you're changing settings.

Changing the Dolby setting on the Apple TV under General > Audio and Video does a soft re-set that helps with the static/popping/clipping. This does not fix the actual problem, which is that Apple TV is a piece of shit that can't send a clean signal, but it may alleviate the symptoms without having to do a full re-set.
branchandroot: Hiruma saying ... (Hiruma ...)
KT's latest twist in Bleach leaves me with mixed feelings.

On the one hand, I have long held that KT isn't completely making the story up as he goes, that he has always had an organizing principle, that principle being, essentially, Ichigo's path through 'reincarnation' in six worlds (okay, probably only five) and on to eventual enlightenment. We've had the "introduce all these people arc", we've had the asura arc in Soul Society, we've had the hungry ghost arc in Hueca Mundo, we've had the human arc with the Fullbringers, and so far all of those things have been relatively well integrated. Some parts were more clearly off-the-cuff and unbalanced; in particular, I think KT couldn't quite decide for a while whether he wanted Sado or Orihime to be more associated with the hungry ghosts, and when he went with Orihime that left Sado with a bit of re-orientation needed. He didn't really put in as much narrative work as that re-orientation required, though, leaving Sado peripheral to what should have been the arc centered on him as much as on Ichigo. That was annoying.

I don't fear that will happen to Ishida; his centrality to the I'm-guessing-hell/Quincy arc has been signalled from the start. The part I think is really falling apart is the convincing integration of Ichigo's powers.

Spoilers for recent manga chapters )


Jun. 3rd, 2013 01:52 pm
branchandroot: blowing dandelion (dandelion blowing)
Well that's that. I'm doing regular adjunct work next year, since they took someone else for the visiting line. (Some poor sucker with a creative writing masters, digital humanities background that no one will know what to do with, and a specialization in early brit; which, you know, with as many holes in the faculty as we have now, I totally understand needing to plug as many as possible at once, and my chair is all on board with helping me pump up my vita for the next interview season, so.)

Which, in a lot of ways, is a huge relief, because oh my god I'm going to be going insane enough developing two new courses and then trying to get my diss revised and defended. And my paychecks will be enough to take some of the pinch off. It's just, it would have been /really nice/ to have a bigger paycheck and a "fully employed thanks" line on my vita. Ah, well.

Hopefully this means I'll be able to crank down the meds again soonish...
branchandroot: coffee.exe missing; insert cup and press any key (coffee.exe)
So, for several reasons including Adobe's increasing idiocy in re their pricing and distribution model and also the vastly greater ease of getting ahold of them, I'm experimenting with replacing my two biggest Adobe software workhorses with open source alternatives.

So far, this involves one day per app of utter, screaming frustration while mashing buttons and googling documentation and cursing wildly, and a second day where everything starts to make sense and work nicely and I stop wanting to kill the developers with the power of my mind. That's actually a pretty good ratio.

Dreamweaver -> Aptana Studio 3: Aptana is even more powerful than Dreamweaver, in a lot of ways, and incorporates a lot more OS and collaborative development tools like git. Of course, this means it's even more confusing to look at. Once I'd spent the one frustrated and screaming day, though, I found the bits I needed, went and started up my native installation of Apache AGAIN (fuck you so very much, Apple, for turning that off with every OS upgrade and not even giving me a freaking preference pane to turn it on with any more, and did I mention the part about changing the default root folder, seriously, fuck you) and everything worked nicely. Sites, or now Projects, are defined, with ftp upload/download settings in place, I found a black-on-white code color theme (handily named "Dreamweaver" for code immigrants) and the design view, or now Preview, is working smoothly. I like the real-time feedback of the Console pane, too, which gives me command-line reflections of whatever I'm doing when connected to the remote sites. Having the remote site view be its own tab is also really handy.

Photoshop -> Gimp: Now, I actually started out with Gimp many years ago, so I thought this acclimation would go faster. Ahahaha, it is to be laughing. Nope, still one day of utter, screaming frustration and banging on the desk and asking thin air why anyone would ever think that defaulting the Move tool to grab whatever it hovers on instead of the active layer was a good idea. Once I got to day two, though, I found my tools again, remembered where the settings are and to check them the first time, and have decided that I may actually like Gimp's workspace layout better than Photoshop's. Photoshop has resorted to stacking tools on top of each other, and I found that more than a bit annoying. Gimp spreads them out over a lot of different panes, which can be very frustrating at first, but I still like being able to see all my stuff better than having it hidden in a button stack. At any rate, I successfully designed an ebook cover, which involved a lot of layers and text and messing around with growing and shrinking things and tinkering with colors and fonts; it all worked, and I have a cover I'm satisfied with, which seems like a good indicator.

General conclusion: This will work, but you need to be the kind of person who's willing to bang on it and google the forums and, in the final analysis, just click on things until you start getting the hang of it. I strongly recommend starting with a non-vital scratch project, each time, so you don't worry about destroying important work and can try, and erase, and swear at gods and devs as much as necessary.

The only thing I can say about Inkscape is that clicking blindly on stuff until the right thing happens works just as well as it does in Illustrator. I never used Indesign, so someone else will have to review Scribus, but I have a copy on hand at least, should I ever need it. I raise a toast to Adobe putting themselves out of most of their business. *clinks glasses all around*
branchandroot: Wolfwood with gun (Wolfwood shoot the deserving)
Honestly, can't they test anything any more?

For the benefit of others whose iTunes suddenly no longer connects to their older AirPorts for in-house streaming: You just need to turn off IPv6 on your network settings (because older AirPorts can't handle that protocol and Lion plus newer iTunes makes it the default).

Open Terminal.

Paste in: networksetup -setv6off Wi-Fi

Return. Paste in: networksetup -setv6off Ethernet

Return. Restart iTunes, connect to your bloody AirPorts and enjoy once again. Possibly pause to shower curses on the new management of Apple who apparently don't allow for little things like backwards compatibility any more.

Incidentally, to reverse this, just go into Settings > Network > Ethernet/Wi-Fi > Advanced and re-set the IPv6 drop-down menu to Automatic. Why the "off" setting couldn't stay included there without screwing around in the command line is beyond me. You'd think they were getting interface engineers from Microsoft or something.
branchandroot: bare foot reflected in water (dancer's foot)
You know what I'm liking about this arc of Kuroko no Basuke? The emphasis on how much difference physical endurance makes. The MiraGen have amazing skills right from the get-go, but they're still twelve/thirteen years old and just plain aren't physically developed enough to play through two games in a day. So, one, I like the realism of that.

What I like even more, though, is the perspective this gives to Kuroko's "weakness". Akashi says flat out that Kuroko's skills and reactions are good; it's his endurance that's seriously sub-par, below that of even his age-mates.

Kuroko's endurance is improving, though. We've had this marked really viscerally twice already: at the start of his third-string training, that level is enough to have him throwing up. (Brief aside: that's usually what happens when you over-do an aerobic activity, not a purely muscular activity, and actually it can happen really fast.) He keeps working and improves his endurance, though, and by the time of his test he can keep up with third-string, and implicitly with second-string, just fine. When he moves to first, though, he's throwing up again. We know, though, that he gets past that eventually, so first-string isn't his ultimate limit either.

Now, by the start of canon year, he can only sustain the concentration required for misdirection on top of the physical effort required to keep up with the MiraGen for about fourteen minutes. (Anyone else think about what that fourteen minute figure means? What it means that both Kuroko and Kise know it so well and assume it's a hard limit? It can only have been the limit of Kuroko's endurance in combination with the MiraGen's level of play, and neither of them seem to make that connection. The MiraGen have become Kuroko's measure for standard play, the level he assumes in the back of his head that everyone will have, the measure that he has to meet and surpass to be satisfied. Kuroko never accepts his limitations, or anyone else's, as a weakness, which is both a blind spot for him and kind of awe-inspiring.) At any rate, we know that he's still having trouble with endurance at the start of canon year, still having to build it slowly, far more slowly than most of the other players, including the ones with considerably less actual skill.

And yet...

And yet, what the current arc really emphasizes, when you think about it, is that Kuroko has been building it. He can play for longer, now, than he could at the start of the year. He's still moving forward.

Kuroko has not yet hit the wall in his development as a player. (Possibly because his response to what most people would consider the wall is to start climbing.) This arc is showing us his rate of progress, and by that measure we can see pretty clearly: Kuroko is still getting stronger.
branchandroot: Battousai with gleaming sword (Battousai swordgleam)



This is just astonishing new levels of incompetence, and yet they reach them effortlessly. Oh my god.
branchandroot: butterfly on a rose (butterfly rose)
So, Fujimaki kind of fell down on explaining a lot of what Kise did in the semi-final match; this, of course, means that I needed to poke at it and try to come up with a rationale. It's actually surprisingly easy, and over and above that it also suggests some interesting things about the shape of Kise's real talent and why it hasn't manifested completely yet.

The very short version is that Kise simply doesn't have enough experience; his story is the one that has the most need to keep going into next year to develop. It's actually kind of ruthlessly realistic of Fujimaki, considering.

First, though, let's back up and think about what it is he actually does.

spoilers obviously )

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