Trump vs Clinton: Round One.

On Monday night this week, 84 million Americans sat down in front of their television sets to watch Trump vs Clinton. The first of three presidential debates was the most popular to date, beating the Jimmy Carter vs Ronald Reagan debate back in 1980 by almost 4 million viewers.

Among the many viewers was your truly. I live in Europe, which meant I had to get up at three in the night. I also didn’t want to wake up my wife1, so I spent the night sleeping on the couch downstairs. But why do I bother to get up in the middle of the night to watch a political debate on the other side of the world? I don’t even follow domestic politics closely. The main reason was that I was hoping for a mental breakdown by Donald Trump on live TV, so I could tell my grandchildren that, yes, grandpa personally witnessed the Great Trump Meltdown of 2016.

While that never happened, at least we got to see Donald Trump being his rambling self. He occasionally managed to express himself using coherent sentences, but he spent most of his time pointing his index finger in the air, blaming Clinton for ISIS, getting visibly angry, and talking about Sean Hannity.

Clinton, on the other hand, managed to stay calmer, more focused, and even managed to give reasonably constructive answers to moderator Lester Holt’s questions. Holt, by the way, didn’t do an amazing job keeping the two candidates in check. Trump was allowed to interrupt Clinton 51 times without Holt lifting a finger.

Continue reading "Trump vs Clinton: Round One."

Fire Starter.

Let’s talk about smoke detectors, people.

You know those annoying things that start to make semi-regular, high-pitch beeps when you need to replace their batteries. But smoke detectors aren’t invented just to tick us off. They are there for a very good reason. As the name implies, they excel at detecting smoke, and most of us have at least one installed at home. Too much smoke inside your house is usually a very bad thing. You see, you’re absolutely terrible at breathing in thick, black smoke. No matter how many cigarettes you manage to puff through in a day, your lungs won’t magically start to accept smoke as the new O2.

Too much smoke and you’ll die. And dying is not good for you.

When I was a kid, me and my family woke up one night from the sound of a howling smoke detector. The freezer in our basement had caught fire, and the smoke from the fire was filling our townhouse apartment. But thanks to the wonders of the smoke detector, we got out safely, and the fire department saved the day. But who knows what might have happened if my parent’s hadn’t been safety conscious and installed the Magic Round Box? I might have been dead, Anniken would have been married to an alcoholic wife-beater, Vilde would never have been born, and this site would have been run by some other guy who would have posted his incoherent ramblings on an irregular basis.

So this episode with the fire, and the smoke, and the loud, loud beeping, and the fire department and me carrying the nasty smell of an electric fire with me for a month, has kind of stuck with me since. It’s the reason why we have smoke detectors installed on every floor1 of our house. If one of them detects that something is amiss, they all go off, and the fire department is notified immediately. It’s also the reason why when I’m outside and hear a smoke detector crying its loud wails, I try to find out why.

Continue reading "Fire Starter."

The Tale of a Doomed Colony.

It’s not over until everybody’s dead.

As part of my twenty four hour gaming binge, I spent a little time with RimWorld. RimWorld is an indie space colony management game developed by the Montreal-based developer Ludeon Studios. The game let’s you play as three survivors from a space craft that has crashed on an unknown planet, and your main goal is to make sure they survive and prosper. RimWorld is very much inspired by Dwarf Fortress, and freedom and deep simulation are key elements.

I’ve tried to come to terms with Dwarf Fortress several times, but the ASCII user interface has broken me every time. When you learn it properly it’s like looking straight into the matrix, but the learning curve is pretty much just a massive brick wall you run into. RimWorld, on the other hand, gives you much of the same experience as Dwarf Fortress, but with a graphical user interface us mere mortals can learn to use without our brains exploding in the process.

One of the most interesting side-effects of deep simulation games like Dwarf Fortress and RimWorld is the stories they create. The fable of Boatmurdered, an epic tale of incorporating hordes of belligerent dwarf-eating elephants, floods of biblical proportions, and flaming puppies, is among the better known that Dwarf Fortress has spawned. Inspired by the story of Boatmurdered, I decided to scrawl down a few notes as I played to see if my first experience with RimWorld could result in something that would be worth reading.

(Fredrik, you can safely stop reading now.)

Continue reading "The Tale of a Doomed Colony."

RIP Kent (1990-2016).

One of my favorite rock bands, Swedish Kent, has decided to call it quits. Here’s why that’s no real catastrophe.

After 26 active years, the band will release their final album, “Då som nu för alltid”, this year, pushing the number of released studio albums to a very respective 14. The album will be followed by a Scandinavian tour, concluding with the closing concert on 17 December.

I first discovered Kent when they released their third album, Isola, back in 1997, but didn’t really fall head over heels in love with the band until the release of their fourth album, Hagnesta Hill. After that, I obtained copies of what I missed from their back catalog and continued to purchase new Kent releases on CD up until the 7th release, Tillbaka till samtiden, in 2007. From there on out, Spotify has covered my musical needs, including new Kent releases. Over the years I’ve also gone to a fair number of Kent concerts, and my closet is full of well-worn, washed out, and too small band t-shirts – because you don’t throw away band t-shirts.

Continue reading "RIP Kent (1990-2016)."

An Evening With the Oculus Rift DK1.

Through work I’ve managed to get access to an Oculus Rift DK1. It was manufactured back in 2013, which makes it quite old in technology years, and I had a slim hope that it would be compatible with my even older computer.

So yesterday night, after the kid was safely tucked in and sleeping, I carried the spare heater into my freezing basement office, poured myself a glass of Johnnie Walker, and started to rig the Rift.

I wanted to try the virtual reality support in Euro Truck Simulator 2, which is without doubt the game if you’re looking for something that simulates the experience of driving a truck around Europe. You might think that sounds like something immensely boring, but the game is amazingly popular: It’s one of the the highest rated games on Steam, with reviews like “I let my girlfriend have a try at this game, she started growing chest hair”, “if you didn’t find inner peace while playing this game you were playing it wrong”, and “like Skyrim with trucks”.

“I let my girlfriend have a try at this game, she started growing chest hair.”

At first, setting up the Rift went smoothly. The Windows drives, although still in beta, was compatible with Windows 10, and installed without any trouble. I connected the headset to my graphics card with the provided HDMI cable, the card’s configuration utility reported that the Rift was connected, and I even saw the extended Windows desktop when peeking into the headset. Everything literately looked good.

But then; catastrophe!

Continue reading "An Evening With the Oculus Rift DK1."