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Monthly Archives: September 2009

After sending a very vicious and scathing e-mail to Adobe, I managed to get a fairly curt response pointing to an obscure and vague ‘Troubleshooting’ page on Adobe’s website that gives direct links to the flash player download WITHOUT having to use GetPlusPlus.
I’ve coined a new phrase for this type of seedy tactic of ‘bundling’ software. I call it ‘shitware’. Forget ‘crapware’, as that’s way above this load of shitware. Shitware is the type of software that makes you wonder ‘why the fuck did they bother!?’.
Its the lowest of the low, the bottom of the barrel and its primary characteristic that differentiates it from mere ‘crapware’ is that its ubiquitous so we can’t really ‘ignore’ it without losing out on something like being able to watch YouTube videos. I’d say YouTube is one of the main reasons Flash is so damned popular.

All I can say? Hell fucking yeah. This is how you get results, by cussing them the fuck out till they realize their stupidity and handle things properly. Lets only hope that enough people cuss Adobe out that they manage to get rid of ‘GetPlusPlus’ altogether.

Click here for the actual ‘technote’

Click here for direct download for non-IE browsers

Click here for a guide to uninstalling the Adobe Flash Player

And of course if you want to ‘downgrade’ to an older version (I recommend either version 8 or 9, no lower) then click here.

Please be aware that if you do downgrade your Flash, just be damned sure you have a good set of security software to avoid known security issues with older versions of Flash.
Avira Antivirus
Comodo Firewall (install only the firewall during installation)
Firefox with the Flashblock addon to make sure nasty flash doesn’t get through. There’s also a portable version of Firefox if you have an aversion to installing things.
-You can also try the AdBlock Plus addon for even more security and privacy on the web.

**************UPDATE**************
Due to an overwhelming response and traffic to this blog regarding this issue, I’ve gone ahead and put a step by step install and uninstall guide to getting what you want without the crapware. This is a guide if you’re using Firefox on Windows, since Macs are ‘easy like a cheap slut’ and Linux people, by virtue of being able to install the Linux distro of their choice without their computer imploding, should be easily able to figure things out on their own or searching the net for it.

Installing Flash without the shitware:
1 – Get Adobe Flash here.
2 – Remove the checkbox next to “Free McAfee Security Scan (optional)” to make sure that shitware doesn’t install
3 – Very carefully read the light-grey text that says: “Adobe may use the Adobe Download Manager to seamlessly install your software.”
4 – Click the yellow button marked ‘Agree and Install Now’ after you make SURE there’s no checkmark next to the McAffee Security Scan.
5 – If you’re using Firefox, it “prevented this site from asking you to install software”. So just leave that alone.
6 – Click on the link that says “Your download will start automatically. If it does not start, click here to download.”
7 – Flash 10 will now install WITHOUT any crapware.

Uninstall/Removal of the shitware if its already infected your computer:
1 – Go to Add/Remove Programs and remove the ‘Mozilla GetPlusPlus’ plugin there.
2 – Once this is complete, do a ‘Find File’ search for the file named ‘np_gp.dll’ and delete it if you find it. Sometimes an ‘uninstall’ doesn’t really do its job.
3 – God help you if you want to uninstall the McAfee shitware. Its beyond the scope of this guide and I damn guarantee its a lot more convulated to completely remove it then to simply use ‘Add/Remove Programs’.

Here’s what McAfee has to say about its shitware. Yes, you read that right, its a program that pretty much duplicates the much-more-widely-supported functionality in ‘Windows Security Center‘ that’s enabled by default in WinXP Home and Vista, only they instead shove their McAfee shitware on you. I wouldn’t be surprised if it just reads the information from that API and just displays it in their own window. I might see if the program even runs when you disable Windows Security Center, lol.

SecuROM is horrid.
SafeDisc is ridiculous.
DRM in general is killing the gaming industry slowly, and it really has to stop.

Grand Theft Auto 4? Skipped…
Spore? I skipped it cause of EA’s ridiculous DRM.
Bioshock? Ditto.
And now there’s the game Dragon Age: Origins by BIOWARE, of all people. I really can’t believe they decided to let EA publish their game. ANY publisher would’ve gotten the game out and it would’ve sold like hotcakes. But nope…same old EA.

I think that I could miss out on Bioshock without too much hassle (basically watched all the in-game movies via YouTube) but I do feel I missed out on that experience. But DA:O seems to be the type of game that really would appeal to me even moreso then other RPGs. A very visceral and mature storyline, no holding back…even the legendary ‘brothel’ that was taken out of ‘Temple of Elemental Evil’ makes its way into this game, in 3D no less! Goodness knows that any implied bestiality, even jokingly, will make the evening news and send everyone into a frenzy by calling for boycotts and bannings. Ah well, it worked for RockStar, did it not?

It seems developers feel that PC games will be heavily pirated unless they use DRM. The problem is that DRM is easily bypassed within hours, if not days, or even a week. Anyone with drive and determination can bypass DRM because (at least in the USA) we are exercising our consumer right to create a ‘backup’ copy of any digital or electronic software/games that we purchase. This right was given to us by Section 117 of the US Copyright Act. Even the official copyright office itself agrees with this sentiment. The DMCA is a joke and never should’ve been passed. But then again money makes the world go round, and our oh-so-helpful law-making Congress is all to eager to be bought out by the corporate whores of the RIAA and the MPAA, among others.

I guess I’ll have to skip out on buying any PC games for the forseeable future. I’m done with it. Pirating may be an option but only after I’ve exhausted my current extensive collection of PC and PS2 games. Hopefully by the time that comes around, we’ll have one of two types of futures here. Either we’ll be living out Orwell’s ‘1984’ in a dystopian future with a totalitarian regime and nobody will have any freedoms anymore, or everything will have gone out of copyright by that time (or the copyright law will be finally reduced to something reasonable). I’ve never understood the excessively lengthy copyright terms in this day and age. I mean come on, 70+ years PLUS the life of the author? And then if they sign over copyright to a company, then the copyright exists as long as that company is still in business? And even when the company goes bankrupt it can sell its copyright assets to another company or person who may then ‘renew’ the copyright, and so on and so on.

Copyright has become endless. The only stuff in the public domain now is either things released to public domain by their creators or works created by the US Government that have not been classified. A copyright was intended to be a limited monopoly, and to have the works eventually pass into public domain to benefit *everyone* rather then be exclusively hoarded like pirate booty. Ironic, isn’t it? The copyright holders themselves are like the pirates of yore, who ‘discover’ a treasure (in the form of something profitable) and then secure it at all costs against anyone attempting to take it away from them, regardless of the passage of time.

You must ask yourself whether you really care about movies/music/games/etc (aka ‘entertainment media’) made more then five years ago. Five years is a terribly long time in and of itself but it is quite reasonable given the rapid pace at which entertainment media fluctuates and changes based upon the moods and tastes of society. At the local dollar store I noticed they were selling $5 CDs (yeah, despite it being a dollar store) that contained about 10 or so tracks by various classical composers. Classical music in its entirety has been declared out of copyright for quite some time, and yet here are some companies that capitalize on it and profit from it regardless of that. Its pure profit since the cost of mass-producing the CDs and the artwork and CD covers is negligible (maybe $1 at the MOST). So 80% of the money they make is pure profit, from artists long since deceased.

Classical music has had a profound and lasting impact on American society, as well as the society of many other cultures. But if our existing copyright law had been in effect at that point in time, then we would’ve never benefitted from their copyright expiring.

Copyright has become a ‘Copywrong’ instead. Its completely absurd in its current form and must be amended to something reasonable. Its time to take action before things get worse. Stand up and declare that you will NOT purchase any games that have DRM, you will not purchase anything made/distributed by Sony (whose president very clearly was quoted as saying that “people don’t know what rootkits are, so why should they care?”), that you will stand up and fight back against corporate whoring and greed. If you don’t do it, not only will all consumers suffer but the next generation will have to endure this crap as well.

When you’re on Social Security and depending on us to provide for you, don’t be surprised if we don’t oblige or if we throw you to the wolves instead. Consider it poetic justice for the selfishness of your generation toward the new generation. Act now and preserve not only the future of the new generation, but yours as well.

Seems that just when I thought I’d beaten this affliction that’s been bugging me for the past 2 weeks now, it just comes back even stronger.

Here is a story about Amy Lee…

Amy Lee is a cold-hearted bitch and she doesn’t deserve your money. It seems after she obtained wealth and glory, she became a ‘diva’ and started acting all ‘holier then thou’ with the very fans who made her what she is. Since turning the ‘official’ Evanescence forums into a pay-for-access-only fan forums (you can’t post *anything* or view half the board without paying), other fans had to get together and make their own boards. One such forum (which shall not be mentioned) encountered very blatent diva-esque attitude and hostility from Amy Lee after asking for some support in helping the forums not crumble under the hosting costs (which had been borne solely by the admin of the forums for well over a year).

Like most celebrities, Amy Lee doesn’t want to give money to anyone unless it affects her somehow (her bro had epilepsy, the only reason she gives a damn about that cause). Rather then simply politely refuse a request for monetary support for a fansite, she went so far as to be so vicious in her comments that it turned me off of Evanescence for good once I read it.

I wish I could find the link to the post itself but it seems a new admin has since taken over that forum and the post that *was* posted was removed, presumably so people wouldn’t find out just how much of a blatent bitch Ms. Amy Lee is. I know she’s married, and I feel nothing but sympathy for her husband, I do. Though what a way for her to stick to tradition by changing her last name, eh?

And the music? Evanescence’s music has steadily gone downhill after ‘Fallen’, though some may disagree. After having to deal with too many CDs that always have to include one or two really horrible songs along with the rest of the great ones, I’ll just stick with streaming it for now. I will refuse to support artists or their record labels if they want to act like a diva. I’ll vote with my money, and that money goes to much better things then buying someone like Ms. Amy Lee another diamond-encrusted iPhone or whatever.

At the least, despite how many haters want to call the group ‘Linkin Park’ just an ’emo-rock’ band or whatever, they at least know how to help others. They were one of the most generous and vocal supporters of the Hurricane Katrina relief effort. Where the hell was Amy Lee, or half the richest people in the world? Nowhere to be found.

I really wish nothing but pain, suffering, and misery to anyone making more then $100K/year (or equivalent via commission or otherwise) who doesn’t donate at least 10% of their net income to charity. Selfishness is a bitch, and so is karma.

The obligatory introductory post?  Hardly.  I’m not one to banter on about my personal life, I got Facebook for that.  So lets forget the filler and get to the heart of the posting, shall we?

Final Fantasy Twelve (FF12) is a masterpiece in game design that both captivates me endlessly as well as frustrates me to no end.  Its a paradigm of paradoxes.  A cornocopia of conundrums!  Ah whatever, its still fairly awesome.  But would a game by any other name be praised and lauded so much?  Doubtful.  I mean aside from chocobos, airships, and summons, very few games bother to even be recognized as a ‘Final Fantasy’ game anymore.  And it just seems funny to still call it ‘Final Fantasy’ despite 12+ games, plus about 4 different spinoffs (and a movie) from FF7, plus the 4 ‘side stories’ that FF13 will be split up into, and more.

I’m not really sure what everyone else thinks, but the sheer development costs of developing 4 games simultaneously (and all of them being FF games) will either mean we get watered-down BS or that we get 4 masterpieces.  How much money that it’ll be the former rather then the latter, hmm?  I for one am not too keen on SquareSoft (oh sorry, Squeenix or w/e the f- they call themselves now) trying to split the games up into trilogies or 4/5/6 part epics that we have to buy several games just to get a full story.

Used to be that you’d spend $50 or so on a brand new SNES cartridge.  Yes, a f-in cartridge.  And you’d have the masterpiece that is FF6 (aka FF3 in the US).  The one with Terra, the Opera House, and all the glorious gaming goodness that has yet to be met or surpassed in story by any video game except perhaps MAYBE Chrono Trigger.  You have any idea how long either of those games were?  And this was done back in the day of SNES cartridges.  So why, in the age of cheap CD and DVD production, do they feel the need to split up games into multiple parts?  To piss gamers off to the point where they’re rabid animals lining up to purchase (for example) the entire Halo Trilogy and STILL be unhappy with the ending?  Oh that was a real f-you-up-the-arse type deal that M$ did with the Halo ‘trilogy’.  First Halo 1 and the very blatent ‘to be continued’ type of ending.  Then after all the waiting there’s Halo 2 and MORE of the same, especially with the half-assed ending.  And finally? After $150 to complete ONE story arc (which didn’t really make much sense and wasn’t even all that good really compared to games like Half Life) the lowly X-Boxers got just what they wanted.  More questions then answers, and leaving the series open for sequels, spinoffs, or even more ‘side stories’.

I understand the need for money, but since when did this become commonplace?  Since when was it OK to give us half of a game story yet charge full price?  Since when?  Since console gamers did it with Halo and every single producer started licking their lips and imagining what they’d spend all that newfound wealth on.

You vote with your money whether a game is complete, whether its bug-free, whether its a decent game, whether it drops down to budget-price within a week (thus dooming similar games from such funding), or even whether the game has DRM.  Prior to the onslaught of DRM and StarForce (along with other spyware-like infestations), I took the liberty of amassing a very impressive PC collection of the best of the best old-school gaming (anything made prior to 2006 really).  Whatever I could buy, I bought.  Whatever wasn’t available for sale for a reasonable price I downloaded off of torrents rather then paying $500+ to some arsehole on ebay just so that I can be ‘legit’.  F-that.  The saddest thing I guess is that none of my money would ever go to any of the developers that actually made the games, as I really only bought the games rather then downloading them so that I could not only save time but have a bit of history with me (artwork can be quite awesome to look at even years later).

So, back to FF12?  Well FF12 seem to do everything to absorb us into its world and it is indeed a ‘complete’ story (thank god) but with the ‘International Zodiac Job Edition’ just kinda set things on its edge.  If the game was on PC, this type of ‘update’ would’ve been released for free as a ‘content patch’ despite not really containing much new content.  Instead we’re looking at $70+ for a game where the ‘normal’ version has the ‘Greatest Hits’ moniker and is selling for $20 or so brand-new-from-the-damn-store.  Sorry, paying $50+ for a ‘patch/update’ isn’t my cup of tea.

The ‘job’ system is just a formally organized way of doing the ‘class challenge’ faqs on GameFaqs, but brought to life.  There’s some new weapons/armor/items (yay?) but not too much else.  The rest of the stuff is more for convenience then anything.  After realizing the draconian artificial bullcrap that they pulled with insane droprates (takes about 50+ tries to steal an item from a rare monster without the Thief’s Cuffs which you get MUCH later in the game), I guess they thought that charging extra for the privilege would revive this aging game?  I’d say the most significant change is the ability to control ‘guest’ members (so they don’t rush to their death) as well as being able to pretty much use any of the ‘super’ attacks of the Espers at will and control them freely.  Everything else is just window-dressing, really.

I spent about an hour looking around for ways I could make or download some type of patch to stick on my PS2’s hard drive (gotten before Sony dumped a turd on their fans and abandoned it, along with the EyeToy) that would alter the game, somewhat like a ‘cheat’ patch would do.  Only after reading around did I realize that FF12 had specific ‘anti-cheat’ code embedded into it (say what?) and that even the ‘official’ cheat devices like GameShark and such had to have very special master codes and use checksum-bypassing just in order to get their codes to work right.

I mean really and truely, one thing I would absolutely love and adore?  100% steal rate from non-rare mobs.  Really, please….please….it would be SOOOOO helpful.  But nah, I get to sit there and fail 7x in a row at stealing from a level 3 wolf because the devs didn’t give a damn.  I get to waste time running around opening jars and finding they only contain anywhere from 1 gil to 10 gil, or maybe a potion.

If it were up to me, I’d only change a few things:

-Droprates & Loot. I’d have every chest in the game always spawn and always give out something decent (replacing all potions with hi-potions for instance) worth at least 100+ gil when sold (or just giving gil instead) plus increasing all droprates for all items in the game to be a minimum of 20%, and anything higher then a 20% droprate would have its droprate doubled instead. So the infamous ‘Zodiac Spear’ chest would always spawn AND you’d have a 20% shot at getting it. Sure as hell beats RNG’ing it, hmm? There are ways around it via glitching that might be considered ‘cheating’ in the eyes of many.

-Replay Value. The thing is THIS IS NOT F-IN WORLD OF WARCRAFT (WoW). AND THERE IS NO NEED FOR ARBITRARY BS TO FORCE US TO REPLAY THE GAME. FFS. Stuff like having 4 chests that are ‘linked’ to a chest containing one of the best damn weapons in the game, and if you didn’t have a strategy guide or read a walkthrough on the internet then you’d be SoL and have to either start over when you’re halfway through or you’d just suck it up or you’d ‘glitch’ your way to a Zodiac Spear. Despite the respect I have for the work they accomplished with FF12, I seriously feel like punching the face of whoever thought up that idea with the chests and the Zodiac Spear. 😛

-HiPotions. I’d allow the Clan Provisioner to CONTINUE to sell HiPotions as well as regular Potions even after you’ve defeated 4 or more marks. The fact that you’re ‘cut off’ from purchasing them after GAINING rank seems quite an odd choice, and possibly a bug. Its similar to a bug where you can gain access to an item with a certain rank, even have it one rank later, but then it disappears for a rank and you dont’ get it back until you gain max rank. Didja catch all that? 😛

EDIT: There is a way to continue to purchase Hi-Potions repeatedly throughout the game but it involves farming the ‘Nekhbet’ rare monster by afflicting it with status affects (but not poison) and just stealing from it over and over about ~100x in a row until you get a ‘Rainbow Egg’ which you can sell in the bazaar for a ‘Hi-Potion Pack’. These end up being about HALF the price that the Clan Provisioner would sell them for, so it may be worth the effort to stock up on about 10 of these and then just sell one whenever you need a bunch of potions. Just know you can only buy one bazaar package of these potions at a time so adjust accordingly.

-Buffs. If the buffs in WoW ran out as often as the ones in this game do, players would be having hissy fits all over the place. I remember in pre-TBC they had paladin buffs that only lasted 5 mins at the most and the paladin’s job was to keep on buffing and rebuffing everyone in the raid constantly, in addition to healing them. In this game you’re lucky if Protect/Shell last longer then a minute, maybe two. Its absurdity, and its insanity. There’s no reason for it, just absolutely no damn reason. Rather then forcing us to recast it, they could have it just tick away extra mana every minute if they wanted to impose a mana penalty. Though then they’d have to let us be able to remove it easily also. As it is, my poor party members are rebuffing about every minute with Protect and Shell. Eventually I just gave up on it and just did without either since it was too much of a damn pain to use them, they sucked away needed mana that I could use for healing, they don’t seem to last more then a minute, and even if I cast them just a few seconds before a boss fight, there’s a damn high chance my buffs will run out before the boss battle is done.

-Speed. Too much mindless running back and forth for no apparent reason. Am I playing WoW again here or what? 😛 Its a single-player game, not multiplayer, and not an online game. Ugh….it seems they wanted to put in as many of WoW’s annoyances as they could (even turning us into ‘farmers’ just so we can have enough LP/gil to buy what we need).

All in all I’d say that FF12 is worth about $10 if you find it used or $20 if you buy it new from the store (since it is now a ‘Greatest Hits’), otherwise pass it up. It is a decently good game, at least, but the ‘International Zodiac Job Edition’ isn’t worth the incredibly hefty premium (plus its in Japanese only, an odd choice). And maybe its just me, but it seems the majority of the effort went into making as many pretty graphics as they could, and they just shoved gameplay into a tiny little budget corner.