About perfectionism, social, changes and family

This will be one of those long posts, very long, since it will synthesize, willingly or not, my last years of (semi)inactivity.

For starters, as you can clearly see, this is no longer what my website used to be. I had to ask myself a question: “What’s important as of late?”. “High FTE and low TTM”. The website was very cool, if architecturally old. And worked great too. But it had a problem, common amongst the works of several creative individuals, explained quite perfectly in this post by levelsio:

We creatives have one common problem: finishing things. From musicians to writers to developers, we are perfectionists and projects simply never are “just done”. There’s always that extra part to arrange, that extra chapter to write or that extra feature [to] add. Then when our projects are close to finish, we forget about them and go to the next one, without even launching them. We like the feeling of starting something “new”, we despise the feeling of finishing something “old”.

It’s the same conclusion I came to a few days ago, unconsciously, while applying the last changes to the SkyDubh project, to date mostly private. A reason why I stopped posting is the feeling of being able to do the same elsewhere. Twitter, Facebook and their ilk are but palliatives of pseudo-social communication. Sure, you can write, and you can often have a lot of media exposure if we’re talking about promotional pages, but if we go in depth what do we find? Products developed to sink other projects, hyper-financed by public entities, built around the gathering of personal information or the collection of guinea pigs, and not around the need of communication or socialization. Any real message, not centred around huge masses, is but a poorly accepted white noise. Just as Twitter was born to move messaging traffic from SMS to internet (did you ever notice how the character limits in SMS and Twitter messages is the same? No?), most of internet communications became superficial, covering superficial topics  in a superficial way. Given the increasing lack of written messages on Facebook (and its economic resonance for the company) they created monitor & analysis of strokes written but deleted in never posted messages. Translation: if you type a message in the text box but choose not to publish and delete it, Facebook keeps a copy of it and studies it to understand how to better set you in the mood to publish it.

Add to that all the past happenings with PRISM, Locksmith and whatnot, what’s left? Good ol’ blog. “But development requires time, and so do writing and formatting, and the new design…”. True, but we can use an OpenSource CMS. “But connection from and to USA is often slow, sometimes depending on time frames, and all the traffic is monitored anyway, so what to do?”. We pack it up and bring it all home, in Europe. Have you ever noticed how much Facebook slowed down in the past years, but in truth everything being hosted in America? I do. My website, previously answering within a 50-60ms delay, has moved to an average delay of more than 182ms. This means that given the same start, and the same endpoint, the time needed to traverse the same path has grown threefold. What’s the cause of this? The answer is so easy I’ll leave it up to you.

What you see here is the answer, temporarily shown with a theme I’d refer to as obscene, though pleasantly minimalistic. Today, just like in the past, I had to make up my mind and pick between appearance and essence. Although I would always go for perfection in the past, and the perfect launch, today I chose essence. Appearance may follow, no rush. And the huge amount of work I had to go through to convert all the content from the format of my own CMS to an OpenSource one, simply do not matter: the hard work will be fully repaid thanks to the faster content management, because there’s no denying it: unless a single or time/security critical project is involved, no one-man job can ever be superior to a project developed by a team over the span of years. Although my CMSs have always resisted the countless attacks and infiltration tries, its TTM is simply too damn high. Remember my previous posts about the new website? Just like levelsio said before, it’s been ready from months (if not years), but it’s never “simply” finished, and as of today will never see the light. The micro-blogs, WoW and Code, will soon be incorporated in this one, with different aspects. The same fate awaits the SkyDubh project which, though still powered by my CMS, will move from splash-screen version to 3.0 without the world ever knowing it. But this is not our main topic today. Quoting levelsio again:

[…] projects simply never are “just done”. There’s always that extra part to arrange, that extra chapter to write or that extra feature [to] add. Then when our projects are close to finish, we forget about them and go to the next one, without even launching them.

There are many, way too many incomplete projects, or complete but never published. Or programs written, rewritten, completed, used but never published. Just as there are songs composed but never heard. Just as there are proses written but never read. A real shame. It’s a seemingly inescapable trap from which I want to break out, standing resolute as it is fit of me. And I mean to change right about now, sharply changing my attitude towards work and location. All the writings, the songs, the software and the drawings never released before will be published as a whole. ALL OF THEM. No exceptions.

Unlucky enough to be born and raised in Italy, I had yet another handicap: the masses of demotivators infesting my country. As previously stated in my whoami, I always held the idea that criminals should have been forced to go away, not the righteous. My biggest mistake has thus been the “will to change the world, even though the world will never change”, or by quoting Uriel Fanelli:

[…] takes into consideration the general idea upon which “the majority wants this, if you want to change you need to change their minds: it’s democracy, Darling”.

What a surprise it was when I discovered that the answer to my doubts and ideas was in an essay dated 1849, Civil disobedience, written by a person who died in 1862, Henry David Thoreau:

It is not a man’s duty, as a matter of course, to devote himself to the eradication of any, even the most enormous wrong; he may still properly have other concerns to engage him; but it is his duty, at least, to wash his hands of it, and, if he gives it no thought longer, not to give it practically his support.

As a matter of fact, there are whole countries developing cities to attract new talents. Cities adapted as a whole to accomodate freelancers, spaces created exclusively for coworking. As a response on the other hand we only have a plentiful of people sentencing “find yourself a day job”. And by the time you ask yourself “what’s holding me here?” the decision is already made. If living has a cost, and my needs can be fulfilled anywhere, then why not live where it benefits me most. I don’t owe anything to anyone. Moving out is also quite simple, although coming back never is:

The experience of living abroad was a huge, adrenaline-pumping high. And coming home, a floor-shattering free fall.

So upon coming home, surrounded by familiar faces and places, I began to find comfort again in those old familiar things. Simultaneously, since I myself was no longer the most familiar thing, I began losing touch with my Self. And so starts a downward spiral off a euphoric high. This is the most shocking part of coming home.

I felt flat. Anxious. Insecure. Lost. A general uneasiness and sense that something was missing. I was uncharacteristically apathetic toward everything. It feels like the worst hangover ever.

Upon coming home, I noticed how quickly I began to compare myself to others. There’s an uneasy heaviness in this. […] just being in the presence of people who know me back at home, I feel more influenced.

While traveling, I felt zero need to impress anyone but myself. And with no set agenda, I was able to do whatever the hell I wanted to do.

This is why travel is sometimes referred to as a drug. Similar to drugs or alcohol, travel has the power to temporarily remove all inhibitions and superficial worries, heighten the senses, and if only for a moment, allow one to ignore ego and feel a sense of oneness with the world. For me, travel evokes a sense of aliveness that is unparalleled to anything I’ve ever experienced.

Surrounded by people who know nothing about me, I had the opportunity to be whoever or whatever I wanted with each new country, city, or hostel. But instead of creating some false persona, I just acted like myself. With no inhibitions. no reservations, and no superficial bullshit there’s only one thing left: the purest feeling of being alive.

Something funny happens when you accept who [you] are and are free to do whatever you want. First, you feel at peace because by doing only things you want to do, you’re being true to yourself. Second, like-minded people enter your life as if they’ve miraculously dropped out of the sky and placed purposefully [in] front of you.

And what if, within the prisons of routine and familiarity, I have a hard time remembering that? Well, maybe it’s time to pack a bag and hit the road again.

What is written here is true, and I can personally guarantee it, as I lived it on my skin. That probably is another serious mistake I made: stopping moving out of my country on a yearly basis. Different places, different faces, different thoughts help people understand themselves. Thinking about Germany, the freedom to be oneself is marvellous. Are you committing crimes? No? Then you’re free to do it. Doesn’t matter what it is. Doesn’t matter you say, if it’s legal then you can do it. The unpleasant atmosphere back home, the never spoken words, the never expressed thoughts cause a very strong identity crisis. Being intelligent is turned into a weight on the shoulders, a weight from which you can not escape, because back home idiots do not have to learn, instead the intelligent people have to express themselves on comprehensible terms. How can you talk about multiverse and chief systems with people only able to evaluate alcohol percentage in boxed wine? You can’t, not because of their ignorance, rather because of you since you “were not able to express yourself”. Opposing to all this national behaviour there are dozens of countries ready to welcome with open arms new impulse and to get rid of the so hated parasites. But I’m still here. We are still here.

For how long though, at least this, has to be seen. Albeit somewhat old to emigrate without issues, the time has come to act and react, to move and publish, to be rid of doubts and to bring creations to life, “perfect or not, matters not”. Right about now.

The free time section will also see the consequences of this: I have all the intention to restart composing, by force if necessary, and I also will definitively shut down my Demons of Razgriz clan. It will maybe born again in a new form, or maybe not, but I no longer feel as justified my little lone war against the windmills. Not anymore.

I disobey my rule of not posting anything too personal or identifiable and I show you my grandparents, in the event of their 60th wedding anniversary. They were to me like additional parents since the day I was born, and they recently passed away one year after one another, leaving an emptiness inside of me that is impossible to fill. Every action, every word, brings with it their memory. Being so similar to him does but aggravate the loss. I openly lied a few moments ago. I absolutely and decisively need to improve the lives of people around me and mine, at the cost of throwing every (little) thing to the winds, to grant a better future for myself and my family. I owe this to someone.

I owe them.

Google’s Pacman

From here (link removed) you can download Google’s Pacman.

The current version has a couple problems. Sound don’t work when working offline. And when working online, for example on a local server, it won’t work on Opera but works fine in IE and Firefox.

Hour is getting late and I can’t really be bothered any longer with it, will eventually get back up to it. In the meanwhile, enjoy.

Update: Look here for an update.

Censored Bay? Not really.

A few day ago I wrote a little post on FB about the ways of bypassing Italian censorship based on DNS poisoning of The Pirate Bay (and every other similar situation). Italy, well aware of the errors of the past, wisely decided (lol) to apply another layer of “filtering” based on IP. What does it mean? It means that if you try to connect to TPB from Italy, you won’t get past your ISP.

The DNS poisoning solution was, just like I wrote in the previous mini-paper, to adopt DNS servers provided by OpenDNS. This method allowed the people to reach real IP address of the Bay, and not the localhost (thepiratebay.com and every related subdomain was mapped to This method alone though can’t be used (alone) anymore.

Most of you are already aware of Tor networks, proxy servers and whatnot, but I would like to provide you with yet another solution synthesized in “Opera >> ALL”. Explanation follows.

Whoever knows me also knows that I don’t use any other browser but Opera, best web browser for any existing platform. No, Firefox ain’t better for nothing. But let’s get to the point.

Today I made a discovery pretty interesting about Opera’s feature called Opera Turbo, which works like this:

  1. Opera Software’s servers download the web page
  2. Opera Software’s servers compress the web page
  3. Opera browser (your client) downloads the compressed page

Can you see the pattern here? Well, after a few hours spent setting up a proxy plus tor on my router, I figured out that with a little quick click on opera turbo it’s actually possible to bypass every sort of ip filtering towards any ip address without any performance slowness. Even better, it’s even faster! So:

Opera, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways…

I’ll just say it again: if you didn’t do it by now, start using Opera!

Win7 (x64) & FF8

Windows 7 (x64) and Final Fantasy VIII: A Flawless Victory!

A little time ago I decided to play again my so beloved FF8, which is the first game of the saga I ever played. But this time, since my girlfriend owns the PC version, I decided to give it a try and to use the graphics improvements that are available around the net, and I am thus writing a little howto to both help you out with this task should you ever need it, and to help myself remember this little steps in case I forget. And I forget quickly, so…

In order to start this, I’m assuming you have the following:

  • All the original 5 CDs of FF8
  • The Eidos patch for FF8 (1.02)
  • FF8 Launcher (1.31)
  • Griever
  • Windows 7 (64 bit)

About Win7, I only tested it (as clearly stated by now) on a Windows 7 box running a 64 version of it. Which means some of the registry keys will be slightly different. I have no doubt that by running a simple registry search you can find the appropriate one, however I did not delve into it, and thus I’m not reporting about it. Also, while FF8 Launcher IS needed in order to run the game on a higher resolution, Griever is just a MemoryCard Modifier, but I considered I should mention it anyway.

But let’s the fun begin. After installing FF8, the 1.02 patch, and after copying both the launcher and Griever into the game directory, let’s hack with it. The first thing you will want to do is run FF8Config.exe in order to set minor settings up.

Final Fantasy VIII Graphics Configuration

As highlighted in the screenshot, you need to set up the Movie Resolution to High, and Use High Res Fonts up. In order to do this you might need to set the display resolution to 640x480x16, but don’t be fooled by this as the resolution will be set externally. Once the graphics have been set up, the next pass is to set up the keyboard/controller.

Final Fantasy VIII Input Configuration

I’ve uploaded a screenshot with the original PSX bindings on it. This will let you understand easily how to remap the keyboard and/or your joypad assuming that, just like me, you haven’t played in a while and don’t actually remember everything. It’s worth mentioning though that you may want to swap Triangle with Circle: this will allow a way more “natural” style of playing with menus, which is the same as most FF, including the most recent Dissidia for PSP, but it’s really up to your likings.

FF8 Launcher Setup

Getting back to the graphics, the launcher is where you are really going to set it up. After selecting your Display Mode, you should enable the Expert mode.

FF8 running with some artifacts

The expert mode will allow you to modify the way the screen is shown, in order to correct graphical problems ingame. This is done using “<Ctrl>+,” “<Ctrl>+.” “<Alt>+,” “<Alt>+.”, as you can see in the README. While in-game, with those commands you will be able to fix some artefacts you may encounter. I strongly recommend to use those only after loading the game, as it’s easier to find them and fix them.

FF8 running with no artifacts

After you’ve done so, you should be fully able to run the game. And if so, start playing and have fun!

You may though encounter in some sort of registry errors. I’ve been notified for example that some people might not be able to run the game and load the game CDs if FF8 is not started in administration mode. This obviously sucks big time, I myself would never want it to run with admin rights, even though it’s not really much harm it can do, so I started some research on my box. What I found is that there are, at least on Win7 and I believe the same applies to Vista too, where some different user privileges redirects the user to a different location in the registry. After a little delving and fiddling I found out that the settings for the user mode are stored here:

HKCU\Software\Classes\VirtualStore\MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Wow6432Node\Square Soft, Inc\FINAL FANTASY VIII\1.00

Usermode registry settings of Final Fantasy VIII

I’m fairly sure that if the CD error appears to you, the DataDrive will be something like C:. In this case is enough to change it into your CD drive and the issue should be resolved.

This is all there is to it. If you encounter some other problems feel free to notify me.

See you around, SeeDs!