About Les

I'm the guy that runs this place. You can contact me at: les@stupidevilbastard.com

Video gamers are so spoiled today.

As many of you know, I cut my video gaming teeth on the original Atari 2600 — or at least the Sears branded version of it — so I remember the good old days (ha!) of 8 bit gaming. Had you shown 10 year old me what current generation video games would be like, I wouldn’t have believed it possible. 

These days, video games have advanced to the point where highly detailed 3D worlds full of NPCs and tons of interactive objects are the norm. Naturally, our expectations of what a game should look and play like have risen accordingly, but there are times when I think we’ve gotten a little spoiled by the riches of modern gaming.

Take, for example, Marvel’s Spider-Man. Which has a brand new game launching on the PS4 today. I’ve been licking my chops waiting for this title to drop as the E3 demo from last year looked fantastic and it’s going to be a bit before I can get my hands on it. Probably not until Christmas as we’re at that point in the year that I tend to stop buying games for myself lest I screw up someone’s Christmas gift for me. It’s gonna be difficult to be patient because the demos I’ve seen are amazing. Which is why I’m surprised to find out some gamers are complaining that the game has been downgraded. 

Apparently, it all started with a post on Reddit that was just the screenshot I’ve included below. As you can clearly see, Spider-Man’s suit isn’t as shiny in the shot from the release version of the game as it was in the E3 demo. Also, where’d all that water go? 

It’s a Spider-Scandal! Click to embiggen.

Thus started the conversation about how the release version of the game had been “downgraded” graphically. Presumably for performance reasons. I say “conversation”, but that’s probably being way too generous. Basically, some fans went apeshit and proclaimed loudly that they were going to cancel their preorder and so on and so forth.

Eventually someone took to Twitter to send the screenshot to the developer, Insomniac Games (who are responsible for some of the best Playstation games ever including the Ratchet & Clank and Resistance series) and asked why they downgraded the graphics to which Insomniac replied that they didn’t downgrade anything.  Which didn’t really help and the “debate” raged on. 

To be fair to the folks crying foul, there is a rich history in the video game industry of final releases that didn’t live up to the demos that developers had used to build up hype for the game. Probably one of the best known examples, that also helped sell a lot of PS4s in anticipation of its release, was Watch Dogs which allowed players to live out their super-hacker dreams in a GTA-style open world. When it was unveiled in 2012 the graphics in the demo were amazing, but the final release looked more like a port from the PS3 than the next gen title it was supposed to be.

Another example is The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. The initial footage wowed gamers in 2014 so gamers were surprised when the 2015 release had graphics that had been pared back. It was still an incredible looking game and it went on to great success, but there was no denying it didn’t live up to the initial footage even after developers released a patch that improved things. 

Maybe it’s because I’m old and I come from a time when ads for games often didn’t use actual screenshots or had simulated representations on TV, but even with the examples above I think folks are being nitpicky and this is especially true with the just released Marvel’s Spider-Man. Sure, I was underwhelmed by Watch Dogs once I got my hands on it, but that was due more to the fact that the gameplay wasn’t quite as varied as they had suggested. As for The Witcher 3, I had no problems with the release version’s graphic fidelity, but that hasn’t stopped me from only playing it for a few hours. For fuck’s sake, I played Spider-Man on the Atari 2600 and it looked like this:

Spider-Man, Spider-Man, does some of the things a spider can.

Granted, that’s an 8 bit game written in just 4K memory circa 1982, but it wasn’t half-bad for what it was. It played a bit like the arcade game Crazy Climber in that it had bad guys showing up in windows who would cut your web lines and bombs from the Green Goblin you had to defuse while scaling the building. By comparison, the amount of detail and just sheer things you can do in Marvel’s Spider-Man is insane. Who the fuck cares if it isn’t quite as detailed as the E3 demo from last year? You get to swing from spider webs around a detailed 3D recreation of New York City beating the shit out of bad guys, finding collectables, and enjoying a narrative story that is more than a blurb on the back of the box the game came in. OH NOES! THE PUDDLES AREN’T AS DETAILED AS THE DEMO! I’M NOT PLAYING THIS CRAP!

There’s a group out there called Digital Foundry that came together in 2004 specifically to analyze video games and settle arguments such as the one about downgraded graphics in the final release of a title. A couple of days ago they released their video on Marvel’s Spider-Man and they argue that not only is the final release not downgraded, but it’s an improvement over the E3 demo in a lot of areas.

I don’t watch a lot of their videos, but I thought I’d check this one out given all the noise that’s been made about it. It was during that viewing that it occurred to me that video gamers have gotten spoiled. The DF folks do an amazing job of pointing out all the details that are in this game and the methods used to achieve those effects. You don’t have to fully understand what a Cube Map is to appreciate what it adds to the visuals when it’s pointed out to you. For a game that expects you to spend a lot of time swinging between buildings high in the air, there’s an amazing amount of detail at street level when you opt to just walk around a bit. From the number of unique and varied NPCs to the amount of traffic to the various storefronts, this looks and feels like a living world.

The DF folks show where you can see how the underlying game engine works to compromise between realism and playability in areas such as the reflections of other buildings in the windows of the one you’re climbing up and it’s the sort of thing you’re only likely to notice if you were looking for it. In the heat of gameplay it’ll probably never catch your attention and it shouldn’t matter that much if it does if the gameplay is fun. That stupid Atari 2600 game was as basic as you can get, but it was Spidey’s first video game and it kept us entertained for awhile and it’s nothing compared to this. Here, check out Digital Foundry’s video for yourself:

Holy shit! We have come a long way since 1982.

Isn’t that amazing? The detail on his costume alone is something that would’ve been impossible 10 years ago. It’s also a detail you’ll probably notice once before your eye is overwhelmed by all the visual candy on display. Now we’re on the verge of having real-time ray tracing in video games that only looks to make for another big leap in visual quality as it’ll help to eliminate some of the limitations current games have to work around. 

All of the reviews I’ve read for Marvel’s Spider-Man have it pegged as arguably the best Spider-Man game ever made.  So quit yer bitchin’ and appreciate what you’ve been offered here. While you’re at it, get the hell off of my lawn!

What if English were phonetically consistent?

I’ve not posted anything in awhile so when I came across this YouTube video by Aaron Alon I thought it would make a good SEB post. 

In it he demonstrates just how weird English would sound if it were phonetically consistent the way that languages like Japanese are. He gives examples of how each vowel can have multiple sounds then picks one and proceeds to use that single vowel sound for all instances of that vowel in the words that follow. Things get increasingly weird as the video progresses. 

Oh hey, look, it’s July already.

Man, time sure does fly when every day is a new waking nightmare, eh? Once again I’ve allowed myself to get sidetracked and not blog at all for a whole month. Part of it is there’s so many terrible things happening with our government right now that I don’t have time enough to finish one entry about the latest outrage before two more have occurred. So I end up trashing what I was working on to try and write something that covers the latest shitstorm and nothing ever gets finished.

So too have my attempts at vlogging and streaming fallen by the wayside. I’ve got no excuse not to be doing those things as I have a pretty good setup for it these days. I just haven’t been doing it. Sadly, I’ve fallen off the bike riding bandwagon as well. It’s been over a month since I last got on that and peddled around. I step outside and it’s like walking into an oven and I turn around and go right back inside.

This week I’m on vacation and the only really notable thing I’ve done was had my first, small LAN party yesterday. Friends Bob, Greg, and Andy came over and we were all really bad at surviving in Left4Dead 2 and then, after Bob had to leave, we played a little bit of Diablo 3 as I helped Andy get back into playing it.

Other than that it’s been eat, work, play video games, sleep, repeat for the past few weeks. Anne has been unemployed so we’ve not been going out and doing things because the budget is tight. All in all, other than keeping up with politics, my life has been relatively quiet. I will try not to let it go a month without posting something again.

Is SEB affected by GDPR?

Back in 2016 the E.U. passed a new law to protect user’s data called the General Data Protection Regulation that goes into full effect on May 25th, 2018. This is why you’ve been getting emails from so many online businesses on their Privacy Policies and how they handle your personal information. According to Wikipedia, the general gist of the law is this:

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) (EU) 2016/679 is a regulation in EU law on data protection and privacy for all individuals within the European Union and the European Economic Area. It also addresses the export of personal data outside the EU and EEA. The GDPR aims primarily to give control to citizens and residents over their personal data and to simplify the regulatory environment for international business by unifying the regulation within the EU.[1]

Superseding the Data Protection Directive, the regulation contains provisions and requirements pertaining to the processing of personally identifiable information of data subjects inside the European Union. Business processes that handle personal data must be built with privacy by design and by default, meaning that a system must be designed from the start to adhere to the principles of data protection, and use the highest-possible privacy settings by default, so that the data is not available publicly without explicit consent, and cannot be used to identify a subject without additional information stored separately. No personal data may be processed unless it is done under a lawful basis specified by the regulation, or if the data controller or processor has received explicit, opt-in consent from the data’s owner. The business must allow this permission to be withdrawn at any time.

A processor of personal data must clearly disclose what data is being collected and how, why it is being processed, how long it is being retained, and if it is being shared with any third-parties. Users have the right to request a portable copy of the data collected by a processor in a common format, and the right to have their data erased under certain circumstances. Public authorities, and businesses whose core activities centre around regular or systematic processing of personal data, are required to employ a Data Protection Officer (DPO), who is responsible for managing compliance with the GDPR. Businesses must report any data breaches within 72 hours if they have an adverse effect on user privacy.

When I first heard about the law my first thoughts were, “Well, I’m not in the European Union so this doesn’t apply to me,” but it turns out that there’s a chance that it might. So much so that WordPress has had new features put in place specifically for creating a Privacy Policy and giving users the ability to see what data has been collect and export that data from the blog. There’s been a ton of articles out there on what the GDPR is and how it might affect bloggers, but all of the ones I’ve seen so far assume you’re blogging as a small business. I’ve yet to find a clear article on what it means for someone who does it as a hobby.

From what I’ve been able to gather, any website that captures so much as the IP address of someone visiting it is at risk of being in violation of this regulation and thusly possibly liable for fines for up to €20 million for non-compliance.

Now, I’d be surprised if the E.U. suddenly decided to come after me and the blogs I host for myself and friends and family as we’re decidedly small fish in the ocean of the Internet, but I’ve noticed a sudden influx of new user registrations on SEB from a bunch of people all using the same domain name which is a known SPAM account domain and I have to wonder if there’s going to be a trend of scammers trying to blackmail non-compliant bloggers into coughing up some dough. Which is why I’ve been trying to learn more about how this law applies to people like me.

In short, the whole thing is a huge pain in the ass and could bring about the end of Stupid Evil Bastard if I can’t figure out what I need to do to be in compliance. Turning off user registrations and disabling comments wouldn’t be enough as IP addresses would still be captured and that’s enough to be an issue. Short of blocking all traffic coming from the E.U. (and that wouldn’t stop users on VPNs), I don’t see an easy way to deal with this and I’ve got three days to figure this out.

Considering I’ve been researching it for a couple of months already, I’m not sure I”m going to be compliant in time.

UPDATE: It turns out that WordPress’s privacy policy tool helps you to set one up with suggestions that take into account what plugins you have installed. You can see SEB’s shiny new Privacy Policy here.

It’s back! Return of the Son of the SEB PODCAST!

Despite it being almost three years since the last one and no one suggesting anything for us to talk about, Dave Hill and I managed to blather on for an hour about whatever we wanted to including some spoilery talk on Avengers: Infinity War. You’ll find it embedded below and the spoilers start at 47:17 so skp the last 13 minutes if you don’t want to hear them:

The Return of the Son of the SEB Podcast.

Hey, remember how Dave Hill of ***Dave Does The Blog and I would occasionally get together online and talk about stuff that you guys wanted to hear our opinions on? Remember how the last time we did it we were both shocked and appalled that it had been three years since the previous podcast?

Well, fuck me if it hasn’t been almost three years again since the last one.

So it’s about damned time that we get together for another one. The last one was accomplished via a Google Hangouts live stream and, other than a small technical hangup audio-wise early on, it worked pretty well so we’re doing that again!

That means we’re once again looking for suggestions of things you’d like to hear us talk about whether we’re qualified to pontificate on it or not. Given the political prediction I made during the last one that I was completely and totally wrong about, you can be sure I’ll probably be completely wrong about something I say during this one.

You can leave your suggestions in the comments here, on ***Dave Does the Blog, or on our social media accounts if that’s what suits you. We’ll scrape ’em together and see what kind of trouble we can get into with them.

The actual live stream is set for 1PM EDT on Sunday the 6th of May so you’ve got some time to think up something good. I’ve got an event for it on G+, but it’s currently set to private. If there’s sufficient interest in watching it live as we stumble through it I can always make the event public. Let me know.

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It’s the end of the world and I feel fine.

If you’re reading this then chances are the world failed to end on April 23rd, 2018. Again. This time courtesy of “numerologist” David Meade. According to Mr. Meade, today the sun, the moon and Jupiter will line up in the constellation Virgo fulfilling one of the signs from Revelation 12:1-2. Specifically, the bit about a woman appearing in the heavens “clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head. She was pregnant and cried out in pain as she was about to give birth.” Thus heralding in The Rapture via the appearance of the mythical Planet X passing by the planet causing all sorts of holy hell to break out.

By Brad – Revelation 12 Daily, CC0, Link

One small issue: the sun, the moon and Jupiter won’t actually line up in the constellation of Virgo today. Jupiter will be in the constellation Libra, the moon in Gemini, and the Sun in Aries. At least from the Earth’s perspective. Also, Planet X is a myth.

One other small issue is that this isn’t the first time Mr. Meade has made this prediction. He made a similar claim last September and when, spoiler alert, the world failed to end he tried to shift the date around a couple of times, but the world persisted in spite of his predictions.

Hopefully, you didn’t sell all your belongings in preparation for this latest apocalypse as some folks have done in the past. It would’ve been a real shame if the world had ended today as this is the first really nice weather we’ve had this year and I’m planning on riding my new bicycle.

Plus, had it ended before I got to see Avengers: Infinity War I would’ve been super pissed.

Shocking new study says most Americans don’t make it past 11AM before cursing!

I’m a man of few vices. I don’t smoke, do drugs, and hardly ever drink alcohol. Sex was a bit of a vice in my younger years, but it’s arguably not much of one now. Eating too much and cussin’ are the only vices I tend to partake in these days and I have plenty of company on both counts.

In fact, according to what I am sure was a rigorous scientific study by the researchers at, uh, 9Round Kickbox Fitness most Americans utter their first curse word by 10:54AM. To which I say, “Pfft! Amateurs!

Dude looks pissed. Or constipated. Hard to tell with stock photos. Either way I bet he’s swearing up a storm.

According to their survey, the reason 1 in 4 Americans can’t get past 9AM without dropping an F-bomb or two, is STRESS:

What the @#$%! Americans can’t get through the day without cursing — NYPost.com

[…] financial worry to be the biggest cause of stress and frustration among Americans (56 percent).

Followed by such time-honored stress-contributors like not getting enough sleep (36 percent), health concerns (35 percent) and work (30 percent).

But some Americans are stressed and frustrated about things that one might not expect.

For instance, one in ten (9 percent) listed the environment as a source of stress and frustration for them and four percent actually said the national deficit stresses them out. A curious three percent said they’ve been stressed about the national deficit within the past week.

The bar is low, as even something as mundane as slow wifi is enough to send 52 percent of Americans into a tizzy of frustration.

Let me just say right here, stress is the least of the reasons I cuss. Sometimes I just fucking feel like it.

Sure, I don’t shy away from swearing up a storm when I’m stressed and frustrated — you just have to watch me play Call of Duty multiplayer for a short time to see that truth borne out — but being upset about something is not a requirement. For me, cuss words are much like parsley on a fancy dinner plate: Totally unnecessary, but a nice garnish to fucking drive a point home.

Out of curiosity, why did the folks at 9Round Kickbox Fitness feel the need to get all scientifical about why people swear?

“People of all ages face stress every day and it can be difficult to find effective and healthy ways to cope,” said Shannon Hudson, CEO and founder of 9Round Kickbox Fitness. “While listening to music or watching TV can be relaxing, one of the best ways to reduce tension is through regular exercise because it improves both physical health and overall well-being. When you are physically and mentally strong, you are better equipped to handle life’s frustrations.”

[…] “We understand busy schedules and limited time constraints that’s why at 9Round we don’t offer set class times,” added Shannon. “Members are welcome to complete our 30-minute kickboxing circuit on their own schedule and get a great, stress-relieving workout seven days a week. Our workouts change daily and you can burn up to 500 calories each session.”

Ah ha! It’s a fucking sales pitch! Feeling stressed? Cussin’ at your kids too goddamned much? Come down to 9Round and learn to KICK THE SHIT OUT OF STRESS!!

They even made a sweet as hell infographic for the article so the folks at the New York Post could pretend they were engaging in real journalism instead of a big ad disguised as journalism which I’m sure they didn’t receive any compensation for from the folks at 9Round Kickbox Fitness. It’s a damned good thing we have companies like 9Round looking out for our moral well being by giving us a way to avoid swearing like a sailor the next time the WiFi goes down.

Unless, you know, you really fucking want to.

In search of a dorky bike helmet.

Today is the day I finally pay off the bicycle I am purchasing in an attempt to engage in some exercise that I won’t hate doing on a regular basis. The bike itself is made by a company called Felt Bicycles, which I’ve never heard of before, and the bike itself is called The Bixby and has a bit of a retro feel to it. This is it here:

Now I’m all set to go to the sock hop on my cool new ride.

Single speed, crank backwards to brake, no frills, but able to hold up my fat ass as I endanger the local wildlife and neighborhood children while barrelling down the street at speeds no one my size and shape should be legally allowed to attain.

I’m going to look like a complete dork.

I may as well embrace that fact and find an appropriately dorky bike helmet to go with this bike. The folks at Sweet Bikes in Canton, MI already have something in mind for me when I go in today, but on the off-chance it’s not dorktaculous enough I did a Google search to see what I could find that would fit the bill. As it turns out, a lot of bike helmet designs seem to lean heavily on the “alien egg sucking on your head” philosophy such as these examples:

Those are all vaguely cool-ish looking and a little dorky in their own right, but not properly dorky. Not like, say, a watermelon helmet:

Or how about one that will match my favorite choice in shirts:

Both of those last two come from the folks at Nutcase Helmets and they’ve got a range of nicely dorky bike helmets to choose from including a Space Cats option that has me SERIOUSLY tempted because I love ALL things Space Cats.

These are all pretty dorky, but can we get even dorkier? I think we can. What about one that has built-in turn and brake signals?

Yeah, that one is $180 which is over half the price of my bike so I think we’ll skip that one for now.

Sadly, some of the absolute best dorky helmets are only available for kids. Things like these light up mohawk helmets:

Or this awesome T-rex eating your head helmet:

I’m bummed that this Lego Hair by Danish design firm MOEF bike helmet is just a prototype and not actually available:

Better than my actual hair.

Of course there’s nothing more dorky than a bike helmet trying NOT to be dorky:

Ha ha ha! We’re TOTALLY wearing bike helmets, but YOU think we’re just uber-stylish hipsters risking serious brain injury!

What is surprising is just how expensive some of these bike helmets can be. The ones from Nut Case that I’m tempted by are $70 or so, but I suppose that’s a small price to pay to keep your skull intact.

For now, we’ll see what the folks at Sweet Bikes have in mind, but I may just break down and get that Space Cats helmet in the not too distant future. That theme is one of my weaknesses. What about you guys? Got any suggestions for super-dorky bike helmets I should consider?

A quick vlog update.