About Les

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

I might not buy this year’s Call of Duty.

I love the Call of Duty franchise. Much like how World of Warcraft ruined all other MMORPGs for me, Call of Duty has been my go-to First Person Shooter for multiplayer since the first game released in 2003. I still play others FPS games like Borderlands and Far Cry, but the former’s multiplayer is co-op and not versus and the latter just doesn’t feel right. While I do own a few of the Battlefield series, the only one I really enjoyed the multiplayer in was Bad Company 2.

Today was the multiplayer reveal of this year’s release called Call of Duty: Vanguard and after watching the Sledgehammer presentation on it, I am underwhelmed. Here’s the presentation in full.

Meet the new Call of Duty, very much like the old Call of Duty.

Back when Modern Warfare 2019 was released they made a big deal about how it was an all-new engine (it wasn’t, though it was a major overhaul) and how that engine would be the basis of all future CoD games, I was concerned that we’d end up with cookie cutter releases. The release of Black Ops: Cold War offered some hope that this wouldn’t be the case as it made some major changes, but it still shared a lot of similarities to MW 2019. Vanguard looks practically like a reskin of MW 2019 with a few new additions tossed in such as breakable parts of the environment, a blind-fire ability, and the ability to move back and forth while mounted.

Pew pew pew!

To be fair, it’s a good-looking game and they’ve obviously made several improvements to the graphical fidelity, but many of the perks, kill streaks, and field upgrades are reskinned carbon copies of what you’d find in 2019’s CoD and I already own that game. There’s a couple of new perks and kill streaks, but most of it’s the same.

For example, one of the things I really hated about MW 2019 was the fact that Dead Silence was a field upgrade instead of a perk. That means it’s on a timer that has to fill up before you can use it and when used it only lasts for 12 seconds, though getting kills will extend it a few seconds. Cold War made it back into a perk called Ninja that didn’t completely eliminate your footsteps, but came really close and it was active all the time. Vanguard is using MW 2019’s field upgrade version of Dead Silence and I’m really disappointed at that. I like stealth builds and having Dead Silence along with suppressors on the guns was a big part of that. In Cold War two of the 6 perks I take on every build are Ninja and Ghost — silent movement and invisibility to UAVs — and I only ever use other options in that tier when needed to complete a challenge.

I’ve not preordered Vanguard yet and that’s a first for me. I’m reserving a final decision on it until after I’ve tried the Open Beta in a couple of weekends. I love the franchise deeply and there’s no other FPS out there that I would enjoy the multiplayer as much. I keep hoping someone will come along and put out something that feels as good that I can switch to. I thought Respawn would manage it seeing as the guys who founded it started Infinity Ward which made the original CoD, but they put out a sci-fi shooter with giant mechs and grappling hooks instead and it just doesn’t work for me.

Dunno what I’ll do yet, but I’m definitely disappointed.

I’m headed to easy street.

It seems there was a class action lawsuit against AMD for something they did ages ago — I have no idea what — that I apparently signed onto. I just got my settlement payment from the lawsuit. My payout?

$1.75

Yeah, I’m sittin’ pretty now, baby.

The Conservatives have a new free speech Twitter clone.

Republican douchebag and former Trump spokesman Jason Miller is the latest Conservative to attempt to launch a social media platform with an obvious Twitter clone that they’re calling GETTR. It’s not clear if they’re just using one of the various Open Source Twitter clones out there or if they found someone who managed to whip up a halfway decent looking facsimile, but at first glance you’d be forgiven if you thought you went to Twitter by accident. The selling point they are pushing as to why you should use it is because they are “fighting cancel culture, promoting common sense, defending free speech, challenging social media monopolies, and creating a true marketplace of ideas.”

Curious to see how it’s going so far; I went over to take a look. The home page only has two posts on it. It appears that, unlike Twitter, you have to look at individual accounts to see anything other than announcements from management. The first post is the expected welcome post and the second one is an announcement that, due to heavy signups, there may be delays in your activation code being sent out and to, please, for the love of God, stop submitting requests for codes repeatedly. Above the two sole posts is a list titled “Suggested for you” which has a number of major players such as Newsmax, convicted criminal Dinesh D’Souza, Mike Pompeo, Jenn Pelligrino, and Ben Carson. Not sure how they figured out that these would be people I’m interested in other than they’re interested in promoting them. To be fair, Miller himself doesn’t show up until 7th place in the list so his ego isn’t too big. Also interesting is the omission of FOX News in favor of Newsmax showing that they prefer the network that is as fact free as is possible.

There’s also a GETTR News sidebar and I figured I’d start with that to see how things are going. The first news story is about how Trump is stronger than ever!

When you hate Twitter so much that you make your clone look exactly like it, you’re a GETTR!

Clicking the three dots in the upper right corner gives they usual Follow, Mute, Block, and Report options that you’d see on Twitter. While there’s plenty of other functionality that’s missing, the basics of what you’d need to rip off Twitter are all present and accounted for. OK, so what are the replies looking like? Oooo, that’s gonna be a test of their commitment to free speech I bet.

It takes a while before you come across replies that appear to be from legit MAGA folks, but there’s a few to be found.

As you scroll through the replies there is a lot of repeat postings and it’s not entirely clear if it’s because folks kept submitting the same replies over and over again or because the site is bugged in some way. I’m leaning towards the latter because the repeats come in blocks of the same replies in the same order over and over. The fact that I kept getting this pop up:

Also suggests the site is not without its early issues. Still, I’m happy the Conservatives have a new site they can fall in love with and then become disillusioned with once it starts yanking clearly illegal content in spite of it being all about “free speech.” Hey, at least it’s not banning profanity the way Mike Lindell’s sad attempt at a free speech platform tried to do.

So, that’s my one and only visit to GETTR. Based on what I’ve seen I don’t think I’ll ever need to go back for a second helping. It’s exactly the sort of stuff you’d expect to find from a Conservative social media platform. To be fair, it’s not like Twitter doesn’t have more than its share of trolls who shitpost random replies repeatedly to famous accounts, but I thought I’d see a larger representation of Conservatives chiming in to complain about the trolls and, really, there was just a handful of them present. Granted, it’s only been live for a day or two so maybe most of them don’t know about it yet. The trolls, however, they arrived quickly and they look like they’re there to stay.

Video capture tech has come a long way.

Back when Courtney graduated high school in 2008, I wanted to put together a DVD of home movies of her to play on a loop during her open house. Naturally, this required buying a video capture card so I could get the footage into my PC and then burn them out to a DVD.

KWORLD DVD MAKER PCI
Click to embiggen.

I ended up buying a KWORLD DVD MAKER PCI card. You put it into an open PCI slot in your computer and it had a single S-Video connector for the input. Plug your VCR into that, load up the capture software, press record in the software and play on the VHS and, in the amount of time it takes to play back the video tape, you had a video file on your machine. I don’t remember how much it cost at the time, but it probably wasn’t more than $80 to $100 and it worked reasonably well for what I wanted it for. I still have the card around here someplace, but I’ve not had a motherboard with PCI slots on it in ages.

I thought about it recently when I stumbled across the manual while digging through my boxes of computer stuff looking for something entirely unrelated. I realized that we have a number of home videos locked onto VHS that are going to end up deteriorating at some point so I should probably think about making digital copies. Mostly videos of Christmas gatherings, but also some parades mom marched in as a clown and I think a birthday or two. When my mother moved in, she brought a working VHS/DVD combo player with her so I had half of what I needed to make this a project.

So, today I went onto Amazon and started looking at video capture options and there is no shortage of products to choose from. With the rise of YouTube and gamers wanting to share videos of gameplay, there are a ton of them that don’t even need a computer to work. You just hook it up to whatever you want to capture from and pass the signal through to a display and it’ll capture the video to a microSD card in the device itself. There’s several that are full-on PCIe cards meant for industrial usage that have multiple inputs. Then there’s an absolute shit ton of USB based products.

The last option is the one I decided to go with, purchasing a “REDGO Video Audio VHS VCR USB Video Capture Card to DVD Converter Capture Card Adapter” as it’s labeled on Amazon. It should be arriving sometime tomorrow and the difference in size between the KWORLD PCI card and the REDGO USB stick is impressive.

Even more impressive? It costs $9.99. Now that could be because it does a crappy job and, admittedly, it is not the highest rated of the USB based capture cards out there. That said, it shows up on a lot of recommended lists as a second or third option behind the best.

The best one being from Elgato, maker of many of the stand-alone game capture devices as well as PCI cards. Their Elgato Video Capture will set you back $88, which was a bit more than I wanted to spend. I can justify tossing $10 and some change (after tax) at the REDGO option and if it turns out to be shitty, well, I’m only out $10 if Amazon won’t accept a return. Which they almost certainly would.

Elgato’s much more expensive, but arguably better, option.

Now I’m all set to digitize all the old home movies to my PC. With the 4TB mechanical HD I have as a data/backup drive, I should have more than enough room to save the files and then load them up in DaVinci Resolve for a try at editing them a bit.

Given that it’s been 13 years since I bought the last capture card, I suppose I shouldn’t be too surprised at how the tech has advanced. Still, when I see the image of the naked board in the USB device compared to the PCI card of the old one, it still impresses me. I’ll let you guys know how good of a job it does. I’m not expecting miracles as we are talking digitizing Standard Definition VHS tapes and then playing them back on high resolution flat panels, but it’s better than losing the videos altogether.

Happy or healthy.

In August I will turn 54 years old, just a year younger than the age at which my biological father died. If I recall correctly, he died from pancreatic cancer. Not something I’m too worried about as my doctor started screening me a couple of years ago and I don’t have the smoking and drinking habit that he had. That said, I’m not exactly in great health myself. I’m morbidly obese, diabetic, and have peripheral neuropathy in my feet. These two facts, that I’m closing in on the age my father died and that I’m not exactly in great shape, have led to me considering my own mortality a lot lately. Specifically, whether it’s better to be happy and die young or miserable and live longer.

Despite not being in the greatest shape, I’m pretty happy with life at the moment. I’ve managed to accomplish most of the stuff I’ve long dreamed of — getting married, owning a home, etc. — and while there are things I’d love to do, like travel more, or, at all, I’m happy with where I’m at. Meanwhile, the attempts I’ve made at getting healthier such as eating better and exercising only make me miserable. In part because I stress over the fact that I’m not doing these things like I should be.

As a result, I find I’m spending a lot of time pondering the question of being happy or healthy. My doctor, being an excellent doctor, would argue that once I get into the habits of exercising and eating healthier and lost the weight and got some of my energy back that I’d be even happier, but the fact is I’m happy now and getting to that supposedly happier status would require a lot of misery.

It doesn’t help that when I bought an elliptical and made a good effort to use it regularly for three months, I ended up gaining weight instead of losing it. Everyone said it would get easier after a couple of months, but it never got any easier. As is the fate of most home exercise equipment, it became a coat rack until we sold it when we moved out of Ann Arbor 6 years ago. In a proper and just universe, exercise would show benefits within a couple of days and not months or years later. It would be much easier to be motivated if I actually experienced some of the supposed benefits sooner rather than later. Gaining weight, even if it is new muscle, is not the result I should be getting for my efforts. Not to mention that food that’s good for you would taste better than the bad food.

When we bought the house 4 years ago one of the first things I did was purchase a bicycle to ride around the neighborhood. I even bought one of those stupid helmets. My thinking at the time was that I had to find something that was fun to do so it felt less like exercise and more like playing and I used to love riding my bike as a kid. However, much like the elliptical, I rode it a couple times a week for that first summer and then parked it in the garage for the winter and it has not seen the light of day since. I look at it every time I pull the lawn mower out to cut the grass and I think I should check to see if the tires are still in good shape and maybe pull it out, but I never do. Hell, mowing the lawn is really the only exercise I get at this point and that’s enough to wipe me out for the rest of the day.

The one change I did manage to stick to was giving up drinking pop and switching to water for the majority of the day outside of a couple cups of coffee. That’s mainly because it’s been long enough that drinking pop — both regular and diet — tastes like malted battery acid these days. Doesn’t stop me from missing it or hating every drop of the water I drink, but at least I’ve managed to stick to it.

I’m at the point where I have resigned myself to my fate. I know I should be doing more to improve my health, but I just get depressed whenever I think of what it would take. I’d rather not die young, but I also like sitting and sitting is considered a lethal activity these days. The one thing I am doing is thinking about it a lot. While sitting, of course. Now if only that burned more calories.

Do you live in a political bubble?

SciBabe over on Facebook had a link to a NYT article that asks: Do You Live in a Political Bubble? You can enter your address and it’ll generate a map of the ratio of Republicans, Democrats, and Independents in your immediate neighborhood. She lives in a Democratic bubble whereas mine is the opposite as you can see below.

My Westland, MI neighborhood political bubble.
Where my fellow Independents at? Not this neighborhood, that’s for goddamned sure. Click to embiggen

I had already suspected as much based on the number of Gadsden flags that are flown in the area and there’s been at least three straight up Trump flags I’ve seen. Hell, just the number of inground flag poles is a good indicator. American flags in particular are a near-constant presence. I have an American flag which I take out for Memorial Day and July 4th, but otherwise it stays folded up in the garage. Our flag mount came off the house a while ago, however, so unless I get motivated, we may miss those holidays this year.

The article is interesting because it turns out that 1 in 3 Americans lives in a completely isolated political bubble, surrounded by neighbors of the same political party. The city of Inkster, MI which is just a few miles away from me, is almost entirely Democrats.

I will have lived here for four years officially on June 1st and in that time the only neighbors whose names I can remember live in the houses on either side of me. I’ve chatted briefly with some of the younger families during Halloween trick-or-treating, but beyond the occasional wave as we’re passing in the street, I have almost no contact with them. None of the other folks living here have made an attempt at introducing themselves and the look they give when you see them out in their yards does not invite you taking the opportunity to do so yourself. Additionally, the pandemic over the past year has also not helped in getting to know one’s neighbors.

Which is probably for the best, considering most of my neighbors are Republicans. I doubt I would have much to say of interest to them to begin with. My new neighbors on my right (facing the house) are Trumpers, much to my dismay, but have otherwise been nothing but friendly. I’ve even been told by them that I am a good neighbor. I keep debating if I should attempt to reach out to the other folks in my immediate area to see if there’s any common ground to be had. So far, I’ve not psyched myself up enough to bother with it. Tales of neighbors waging war on each other have done nothing to encourage any interactions.

That said, I am looking into what it would cost to have a two-flag pole installed in my yard so I can fly my American flag alongside an FSM flag, just to offset the number of Gadsden flags I see. Surely nothing negative would come from that, right?

You spilled what on your laptop?

Tech Support Kitty is seriously done with your bullshit.
Click to embiggen

First world video gamer problems.

When you play video games for as many years as I have, a lot of it becomes muscle memory. This extends to and includes things you might not think of, like how you launch a game. A while back, Blizard made a change to their games so that everything is launched through the Battle.net application on Windows. Considering that most Blizard games require an online connection to play, this isn’t an entirely bad change because it saves you having to type in your credentials each time you play the game.

If you play a lot of Blizard titles — or titles hosted on Battle.net, like Call of Duty — you might have pinned the Battle.net app to your taskbar. Like I have. I also have Steam pinned there because that’s the second most common launcher I use. Recently, Blizard decided the Battle.net icon needed an update and you can already see where this is going.

On the left is the old Battle.net icon. In the middle, the new one. And on the right is the Steam icon. Below is what my taskbar looks like.

Now when I go to launch Battle.net I instead end up clicking on Steam because it more closely matches the color scheme of the old B.net icon. Every. Single. God. Damned. Time.

That icon in between them? That’s GOG Galaxy, the third launcher I use most often as I have been growing a collection of old games on Good Old Games. Plus, it ties into every other platform — including PlayStation and Xbox Live — allowing you to track playtime, trophies, and friends. You’d think my muscle memory would work off of where the B.net icon is and not its coloring, but nope.

*Click*, open Steam, close Steam, open B.net. Sigh exasperatedly.

Lil Nas X’s MONTERO (Call Me By Your Name) has a lot of Christians shook.

With all the talk and memes about Lil Nas X, I thought I’d look up the video to see for myself. Until this blew up, I hadn’t heard of him because I’m stuck in my little musical bubble of 1980’s Synthpop and Electro Swing and I don’t tend to listen to commercial radio these days.

I had heard that the video for the song involved the Garden of Eden and the talking snake and Lil Nas X being stoned to death and then pole dancing his way to Hell where he gives Satan a lap dance before snapping his neck and taking his place on the throne. And, yeah, that’s pretty much what happens.

As for the song itself, I won’t claim to understand the meaning or intent behind it after just a couple of listens, but I liked it. Which is saying a lot considering it’s way out of my usual musical choices.

A lot of Conservative Christians are, of course, outraged. Not only by this video, but by his stunt of selling ‘Satan Shoes’ that he collaborated on with street wear company MSCHF. With only 666 pairs being made, the Nike Air Max 97s had all the usual Satanic iconography you would expect including a pentagram pendant, Luke 10:18, and a bubble in the heel that supposedly contained a drop of real human blood.

Nike was none too pleased about it themselves. They released a statement saying they had nothing to do with the production of these shoes and then hitting MSCHF with a cease-and-desist order almost immediately, but not fast enough to stop the $1,018 shoes from selling out. The video was actually released after the shoes and did nothing to sooth the furrowed brows of America’s righteous Christians.

Lil Nas X who is, if you couldn’t tell from the video, openly gay is unapologetic:

https://twitter.com/LilNasX/status/1375857638869585922

I’m not his target audience, but I can appreciate both this song and his trolling of Conservative Christians. I can especially appreciate the open letter to his younger self he published to Twitter after this all blew up.

Amen to that.

As for the video itself, I found this opinion piece by Heather White, author of Reforming Sodom: Protestants and the Rise of Gay Rights, helpful in understanding it.

But this about a lot more then gleeful provocation. Lil Nas X’s comments about his use of Christian imagery shows that his core aim is not to offend. His latest art is in fact deeply personal, depicting his own struggle with self-acceptance amid a claustrophobic and shaming religious culture. A gay son of the Black church, the real devil on Lil Nas X’s back is one familiar to many LGBTQ folks reared in conservative Christianity: being told that who you are is a sin.

Lil Nas X’s ‘Satan Shoes’ trolled some Christians. But ‘Montero’ is about more than that. – NBCNews.com


I’m white, straight, and male which puts me in the most privileged of positions in American society. The only the way I could be more privileged is if I were rich. I cannot begin to imagine the daily stress black Americans deal with just trying to get by and to add being gay on top of that can only make things so much worse. As an atheist, I am tickled by the trolling of Conservative Christians, but I also understand that this is about more than just pissing off the overly religious. I hope this goes a long way to not only helping Lil Nas X be more comfortable with who he is, but also inspires others who are experiencing the same forms of self-loathing to come to accept who they are as well. Bravo sir, well done indeed!

The SEB Podcast That Wouldn’t Die

Well, it didn’t go off without a hitch, but considering that this is my first successful use of Open Broadcast Software to do something like this, it went pretty well. Getting this to work involved installing an NDI plugin to import a Skype conference call into OBS. At first, Dave sounds a little robotic because OBS was capturing his audio twice. Once from Skype itself and a second time via the desktop audio capture.

Having corrected that, the rest of the podcast went fairly smoothly other than a couple of glitches on Daves end that paused his video for a moment and then left the audio out of sync until it paused a second time and corrected it.

Lastly, my mother started watching TV without her hearing aids in mid-way through the stream and you can clearly here it in the background. I will make a mental note to be sure she has her hearing aids in before starting a podcast in the future.

The only other problem was arguably a lack of direction in what we were talking about. It’s been three years and we spent a good chunk just getting caught up. I’m also ADHD so my train of thought meanders as I’m talking.

We are planning on trying to do this again next month which should help improve all of these things. Hopefully you guys at least find it mildly amusing. I always enjoy making these with Dave.