Thursday, January 10, 2019

A Blogger infelicty I just hit

Entering the string %00 in the editor like this .Replace('\', ), gives a nul in the page which isn't returned to a %-escape when editing the entry, so I had to use %00 instead to achieve .Replace('\', %00).

Yet another MSBuild-on-Linux back-slash gotcha

Another variant of a known family of such issues, encountered as AltCover issue #49, the interesting tale of what you get when your MSBuild sets a task array parameter with


and the value of AltCoverAssemblyExcludeFilter is the-|xunit\.; surprisingly, the answer is


There isn't even an explicit ItemList in sight, and yet the '\' still gets interpreted as a path separator and "helpfully" *nix-ified. Doubling up the '\' via .Replace('\','\\') ahead of the split doesn't escape the character -- you just get a '//' in the output, nor does escaping on the command line as the-|xunit%5C..

For the moment, with no obvious MSBuild level fix, I'm working around this by doing .Replace('\', %00) and then converting the NUL back inside the custom MSBuild task.

Thursday, January 03, 2019

Moving on from G+

With the G+ sunset brought forwards to April, time to move my microblogging -- which is what I actually used G+ for, rather than the community aspects -- to proper microblogging sites, plural for redundancy.

So you can now find me on the Twitter (@stevegilham1) and Gab (@stevegilham), and maybe more later.

Tuesday, January 01, 2019

Anime roundup '18Q4

The quarter opened with some new shows that made me think "Come back, Captain Earth, all is forgiven!".

RErideD released the first four episodes all at once, so I watched the first three.

On the plus side, it has ABe character designs, the ghost of which can be seen from time to time in one of the girls. However...

The villain of the piece is a total stereotype of the evil arms manufacturer profiting from war, like out of the inter-war period. As to the main plot, it's like no-one on the creative staff has ever noticed Windows Update, even though it's reasonable that none of them have ever been in day-for-day release slip panics when late show-stoppers are found. When things kick off, the MC, having fallen down an ill-placed shaft, decides to climb into a coffin-like thing to hide from pursuers who are trying to kill him. Then the assassin next sent after him seems to conceal anti-tank rifles about her person, and ground-attack aircraft with implausibly low stall speeds in her hammerspace.

Not quite absolutely dropped, as it was almost so bad it's good. But it's way down the backlog, if ever.

The next early title had been fairly promising as a "cute girls do..." series from the PV -- and even if it was a mobage tie-in, then so was the excellent Toji no Miko. Alas, despite the success of many of the "cute girls do cute but unusual things" series, and a wacky premise really not that much worse than GaruPan's was, Sora to Umi no Aida just crashed and burned.

I had been prepared to ignore the dubious physics and might have forgiven the MoTW generator ecology of the artificial water-moons used for space-fishing, but had not been expecting a CGDC[whatever]T where the MC turned out to be such an obnoxious little brat, nor one where they were doing assertive grrlpower things incompetently. On top of which, the mobage tie-in elements were done in an overly ham-handed fashion.

As a comedy, it was even more un-funny than the running gags in Planet With, and as a "cute girls do unusual things", it made HaiFuri look like a masterpiece. A wretched waste of a couple of the minor characters, who looked like they might be promising for the CG bit, but in all, dropped like a colony after the first episode.

From the backlog, Animegataris was purely fluff, but it turned out to be very meta fluff, including things like a very knowing discussion of the 3-episode rule in the third episode.

I had expected Konohana Kitan to be mostly "cute gay fox-girls do cute gay bath-house things", perhaps trending towards Hanasaku Iroha (kemonomimi edition) as newcomer Yuzu gets introduced to life working at a hot-spring inn, that just happens to be located across the border from the waking world. Instead, the whimsical out-of-folklore (or urban legend) elements dominated, to make a charming little series all in all. Recommended.

Gifu Dodo : Kanetsugu & Keiji is a pretty good "Manly Sengoku notables do manly things" title, so long as you are fine with the style of having the major characters -- the occasional grotesque amongst them -- towering over the lesser folk, in a manner akin to high-level characters in One Piece. That given, it does make for a great, albeit, ahem, larger than life, historical fiction, complete with the perfect excuse for some manly tears.

The title can be slightly misleading though -- not in the series being about the Path of Dignified Righteousness, but in the way that Keiji vanishes from the tale (except in the scenes when we return to where the two are reminiscing about the things that happened many years before), after the half-way point recap episode.

By contrast, Sengoku Collection, which I picked up on the strength of a random mention from some /a/non, recommending a few specific episodes, not only starts out with the premise of historical characters from the Sengoku Era turning into girls, but was also a very early mobage tie-in to boot. As such, it had no business being as good as it in fact turned out to be in the end. It does take a few episodes to find its feet -- I would say that episodes 7 and 8 are the first ones where it definitely surpasses being "Cute Sengoku Generals Do Cute Things" fluff, and in the final third there are several simply excellent episodes.

By managing to keep the game elements down to a simple "collect the plot tokens" visit by Cute L'il Devil Nobunaga at the end of some of the episodes, it gave a strong How-To that more recent titles could have benefited from.

If only they had not made Naoe Kanetsugu constantly look like a "kawaii uguu!" escapee from Kanon (2002) in her few appearances (this was most especially jarring when juxtaposed with Gifu DoDo's depiction of same -- contrast the pink-head below with the sake drinker above).

Yoku Wakaru Gendai Mahou (~ Modern Magic for Dummies), a series from the IRL rather busy season of Summer '09, also takes a little while to find its feet and get past the "forced ecchi" elements of the first few episodes before settling down to be a reasonably amusing magical girl comedy.

Meanwhile autumn before last's Long Riders turned out to be the cycling anime I'd been looking for when I was watching Minami Kamakura GHSCC -- cute university students from a few miles further north and west of Kamakura do cute cycle touring things that are somewhat closer to what I do for amusement (though I find I hit a hard barrier going much past a 100km day at my usual ambling average speed of 10mph). As a leisure cyclist I enjoyed it, with the cute girls who'd leave me in the dust being a bonus.

The one Q4 show I have finished was SSSS Gridman. This started out in a somewhat uncertain manner, with some dubious (lack of) animation in the very first episode -- long still frames with maybe lip-flaps or pan/zoom fake motion, and the possibility that the budget had gone on making CGI kaiju, and Gridman himself, look like actors in rubber suits.

By the closing straight, it had resolved as a solid show, and, in the end, one where they did manage to stick the landing, staying within the previously established Gridman context (no sudden sub-Gainax aliens reveal/into space finale this time), and resolving the central conflict they'd set up. Plus, having stumbled upon the live-action series on the way to the final episode, I could see just quite how many call-outs there were to just the first Gridman episode alone. And they managed to get a snatch of the original OP in there as well.

My initial reaction was, of course, "Shinjo Akane"? Did you mean "Shinji Ikari"?

Where there were some dangling threads, they are the sort of things just worry the completists (apart from whatever hints we're supposed to derive from the ED sequence, any of the specifics leading up to the start of the series. What was Yuta (supposed to be) doing at Rikka's in the first place before losing his memory? Even if that was that little world booting up, with all the Repli-Compoids equipped with their proper back-stories, what scenario set-up did Gridman displace? Was it a fumbled love confession that sent Akane into the computer world in the first place? And if so, to whom had it been addressed?), being at best somewhat tangential to the main story. Definitely one of the better story-endings (as opposed to ones that are simply "see our continuing stories in the manga/LN/..." pauses) for an anime that I've seen in quite a while.

On-going, JoJo Vento Aureo is just more JoJo, and if it weren't for that meaning continuing "puzzle this out" stand battles, would probably have been dropped already on the usual "who are these people and why should I care?" grounds. As it is, it may go into the backlog (ahead of RErideD, though) at the end-of-quarter special (recap?) episode.

Index III, a series where I'm coming abroad several stops down the line, is a real curate's egg of a series. There are clearly several good ideas here, with a magical Europe (and magical England in particular) that come off really rather well, unfortunately interlarded with out-of-place dollops of chuuni nonsense (and not just the fan-servicey bits). On balance though, I'm intrigued enough to continue with this.

From the backlog, I'm currently on Frame Arms Girl, a toy commercial that is Pantsu Witches meets Angelic Layer, and ClassicaLoid S2 which is more of what S1 provided.

Re-watched -- Rocket Girls still cute, RahXephon somewhat more coherent when not watched one DVD at a time as it was released, but still rather "meh!"

Re-watching -- Real Drive by half-way suffers a bit from knowing where it's going, so less mystery/wonder and more being irritated by some of the characters, by contrast Dennou Coil is still good, at only a few episodes in.

December cycling

I ended the year at 1021.1 on the summer bike, or 128.1 miles for December or 2008 for the year, with more cycling than expected in a continuing mild month. Which mild weather means that the garden still hasn't shut down properly yet -- I even mowed the lawn once.

Friday, November 30, 2018

November activity

This month I ended at 893.0 on the summer bike + 10.5 miles off-meter or 151.4 total miles (1880 YTD); or about one more long ride to a pub lunch than last month -- all still riding to get some place, in cooler weather. Also wetter, which means that the convenient bridleway short-cuts are starting to get muddy enough to declare them generally closed until the spring.

However, it's not been so cold that I've been able to dig the vegetable plots, and December looks to be opening with mild enough weather that the lawn-mower might see some more use yet this year.

In the gym, now, having gotten to be able to address the bar properly for squats, I've started putting weights on, slowly. The fun is in judging what is enough for a proper load-bearing whole body exercise, while still leaving me enough reserves in the same muscles I'll be using for the cycle ride home.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

RIP rawgit

Going to put a new package on NuGet, the icon doesn't come out. So I paste the rawgit URL into the browser directly to check what's up and get a 403 that directs to, which says the service is being sun-setted, offering the following possible alternatives.

For me, the first one "just works"™, so that's what I'm migrating to, at least for the moment.

Thursday, November 01, 2018

October activity

This month I ended at 752.1 on the summer bike or 127.1 miles (1728 YTD); all just riding to get to some place (usually the gym at the Y) rather than just to be out in the open covering miles, even though the autumn weather has been generally mild so far.

And with the season advancing, it's been time to start putting the garden away for the winter, with the last of the outdoor crops gathered by the end of the month.

Meanwhile, having resumed doing weights nine months ago as a general bit of physical maintenance, I'm pleased that I've made increases in what I've been lifting. Most significantly, in trying to do squats, the major blocker has been shoulders too tight from years of hunching over keyboard and handlebars -- and a couple of months extensive stretching has finally reached the point where if I'm warmed up and well stretched (i.e. late in a session), I can actually get into position under the bar without the sinews in my upper arms complaining. Beyond the general posture improvements that this has given me (i.e. not being like these guys), it's also meant that the amounts I'm doing on the chest press machine has suddenly leapt up in a few weeks than it had done all year.

Monday, October 08, 2018

Anime roundup '18Q3

Another thin season.

Of the new shows, the only one that seemed interesting was Planet With, but after two episodes it was plain that it was not only LOL!aliens again (including our MC and his adopters), but also yet another of these series where my ideological sympathies seem to lie with one of the antagonist groups (the apparent humans). The un-funny running gags didn't help either.

I did skip ahead to the the End of Evangelion reference in episode 7, but that episode wasn't enough to make me want to follow along again like I had done with DarliFra, because here there was nothing to make me want to care about any of the characters.

The one summer show that I did watch to completion was Encouragement of Climb S3, where it seems that the girls definitely needed some firmer encouragement because there was very little in the way of climb this season (for all that it was only September/early October in continuity), or even getting equipped to climb, just plenty of mid-season misunderstandings -- maybe a third of the episodes were outdoor activity related, and even then, it verged on being YuruCampΔ at points (not that that is in itself a bad thing).

In the carry-overs, I finished ClassicaLoid S1 which abruptly went from larks about fried mandarins or brewing the perfect cup of coffee to "Suddenly, *ahem* Instrumentality..." and "Suddenly, LOL!aliens..." in an unforeshadowed burst of uncharacteristic escalation. Being a not-too-serious sit-com, it actually took these developments in its stride, unlike certain other, more recent, series.

Also finished was Majestic Prince, a decent enough not!Gundam, and another data-point, along with Fafner to suggest that Hiraiface has now become the badge of the superior mecha series, having burned its bad karma with Seed/Seed Destiny. Alas, at the last minute it went into a "Japan doesn't into endings"; the down-to-the-wire final battle ended in the closing seconds of the last episode but one, but the final episode was just filler/side-story/omake rather than being any sort of epilogue. Otherwise, generally good, apart from a few howlers in the closing episodes : "If you get in your [Mobile Suit] and go out there, you could die!" -- well, no shit, Sherlock, it's a battlefield out there; and "[Character], withdraw now!" -- well, the guy he's going toe-to-toe with might have an opinion about the feasibility of following that order.

Bonus point, though, for the character who could blend in quite happily with the Nines (their boring hair colour and un-Nine-like battle-rage aside).

On the rewatch front, DP Flash OVA2 is much weaker than OVA1 (though I can appreciate some of the parodies more this time around), and OVA3 weaker still (and not improved by knowing more about anime tics in general since the first time I watched it).

Somewhat better was Ghost Hound. Even knowing that it all falls apart at the end, the first episodes are still so very strikingly and eerily atmospheric. It's at around the 2/3 mark that the signs emerge of it going horribly wrong, before grinding into an anti-climactic ending which hand-waves away the core conceits of the story in favour of resolving one strand that had only emerged a few episodes earlier.

Sengoku Basara S1 OTOH is just plai... PUT YER GUNS ON LET'S PARTY!

Other new-from-the-backlog series included watching a bunch more episodes of Shiki, but I put it to one side again after the rather underwhelming episode where the doctor vivisects (necrosects?) his wife; and Captain Earth, which for the first three episodes it was shaping up as a so-so mech series, with a novel way for the main mech to combine out of parts, and a sub-MajPri style of antagonist faction from outer space.

Then, episode 4.

After it having been stated that should the bad guys reach Earth, Bad Things™ would happen, in this episode, the invaders (both of them) drive a truck carrying one of their mechs off a ferry from mainland Japan and into the good guys' Secret Main Base with its sea-front location on some small island. Bad Things™, however, do not happen. This is one of the dumbest things I've seen in anime in years. I think I lost the will to continue.

Also in this state of dropped after a trial is selector Infected WIXOSS, which looked like it was shaping up to be Mari Okada's Mean Girls' Club, when from the aesthetic it could and should have been more like [C] but without the wonky economics; and Pandora in the Crimson Shell : Ghost Urn, which you could tell was minor Shirow (and not in a good way like Healthy Drive or Ghost Hound); at least it refrained from importing all his fetishes. Both dropped after two episodes.

More successful was GitS:Arise (watching the original OVAs plus the TV finale), which as yet another GitS continuity, works fine -- it imports some of the aesthetics of the later GitS manga, especially in the cyberspace sections, both in look-and-feel, and in that Makoto has her robot helpers along with her, so doesn't fit as a prequel to anything. That said, the c1990 vision of the world of the future (and the not-the-Iraq War) is being rapidly encroached upon by the present day (even at the time of making), and not in a good way.

Also looking promising are 2013's Gifu Dodo : Kanetsugu and Keiji and the previous year's Sengoku Collection -- though watching episodes of these in quick succession can be quite amusing, going from the Fist of the North Star look to the almost 1990's anime girls and they're meant to be the same character; and a rewatch of Rocket Girls, which even with the CGI of a decade ago, is still as delightful as I remember it.

Monday, October 01, 2018

September Cycling

This month I ended at 625 on the summer bike or 192.4 miles (1601 YTD), with just the one long bike-ride to add the arc around Biggleswade to the limits map.

The weather stayed fine and warm, almost to the end of the month, one wet and windy week aside, so I took advantage of the last warm day for the long ride, taking two other quiet crossings of the A1 to make the revisit I'd promised myself last month

The Anchor at Great Barford

with the weather still being warm enough to want to sit outside and enjoy the view

The view from my table

Having thought of the A1 as a barrier, it turned out to be remarkably porous once I planned ahead rather than doing a tour on a whim. Other busy A-roads get in the way far more.

Friday, August 31, 2018

August Cycling

So the month ended at 15778.6, 432.6 = 64.4 + 187.6 for a total of 252 miles (1409 YTD), beating May's total by 5%, and adding another arc to the limits map.

The weather had moderated by mid-month, and that meant that conditions were much more pleasant for long-distance rides. So, having got the summer bike back and done a warm-up 40-miler to the NE of Cambridge (well within the established bounds) I plotted a course that would take advantage of two quiet crossings of the A1, and a convenient Sandy-to-Bedford off-road cycle route. And though the OS map I was using was silent on the subject, I also found a good pub for lunch, the Anchor at Great Barford, which I shall have to visit again at some point, on another bounds-busting ride to the west.

Saturday, August 04, 2018

July Cycling

So the month ended at 15714.2, 245.0, battery exhaustion on the folding bike odo between using it and coming to record the mileage here = 13.3 + 147.1 + 47 estimated for a total of 207 (1157 YTD); the second best month for the year, despite excessive heat for much of the month, and a sudden failure of the back wheel of my summer bike.

A new kind of fail

Holidaying in Southport and some runs down the coast from there, in slightly cooler (and slightly wetter) weather than down south, helped pull the total up. Of course, slightly didn't prevent the countryside being tinder dry, and in places burned or even burning

Wildfire on Rimrose Park

This on a park alongside the Leeds and Liverpool canal, surrounded by built-up areas, not some remote moorland.

Friday, August 03, 2018

Today has been day 6789

Counting the days since 1-Jan-2000, as in the automatic versioning for .Net files in the "1.0.*.*" format.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Libera me from [DLL] Hell

First, some mood music...

I think I've finally worked out one bit of .net core behaviour that has been causing me otherwise inexplicable file load exceptions for dependency assemblies of ones I've written. It happens it places where my code is loaded by some other .net core process (MSBuild, pwsh, ...), when I update some of my dependency .nuget files, even when the dependency is both in the manifest and is published alongside mine. This impacts things like MSBuild tasks linking FSharp.Core for versions > 4.3.4 on a machine with dotnet-msbuild (VS 15.7.5) installed; or PowerShell Core 6.0.2 loading netstandard2.0 assemblies that directly or indirectly link against one that is netcoreapp2.1 (which brings in a higher version of System.Runtime).

My working hypothesis, to explain when things fail, is that if an earlier version of the same assembly has already been loaded by the system into which yours is being integrated, any requests for a more recent dependency version will be rejected; whereas requests for older versions are ignored and the (newer) currently loaded one substituted instead. On the up-side, this would mean that .net core just assumes forward compatibility of the "older" (or at least linking-against-older) code, so your clients can happily update their systems and your code will continue to work; the corresponding down-side is that if you, as a developer, try to keep dependencies up to date, at best this means that the minimum supported version of the environment is dragged up (if you link a Task against Microsoft.Build.Utilities.Core 15.7.179, then your users will need to have VS15.7.5 or later), and in some cases that the code will outright fail, as above, and the update will need to be backed out.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Anime roundup '18Q2

This was a fairly thin season; of the newly airing shows, I only watched any of Last Period so as to get to the gratuitous Higurashi cross-over, Uma Musume didn't hook me with the first episode, and after two episodes the new Legend of the Galactic Heroes only had technical improvements in the spaceship animation over the OVA; very little that was on offer appealed, and of those tried, none really caught.

I did mop up some backlog, finishing Battle Girls -- Time Paradox, which was generally inferior all around to the somewhat similar Koihime Musou. I gave the 3 episode treatment to Yatterman Night, which probably would have worked a lot better if what it is affectionately subverting had been something from my childhood, and Dracula moves to Hinamizawa Shiki, which is being ever so slow and deliberate, so those ended up on hold. More successful was the resumption of ClassicaLoid and picking up Majestic Prince, both of which are ticking over in the background. MajPri is quite surprising in that it manages to mostly overcome the Hirai sameface which overwhelmed Fafner.

One series I did finish was 17Q4's Uruhara -- cute girls fighting cute alien invaders in a somewhat psychedelic version of Tokyo's Harajuku district, with a side of the usual crippling social anxiety about (not) having friends. Entirely fluff, but harmless; had it been played as serious drama without the cute, it would have been way too over-wrought, but as it is, it works quite nicely as a diversion. It's not as pretty in real life as it is in the anime, alas.

The carry-over series I did watch -- Toji no Miko -- ended with an interesting take on the idea of setting everything up for climactic final battle, then spending the last episode just talking, which turned out to be quite a satisfying way for it to resolve (plus, what I gather was a hat-tip in the direction of Kannadzuki no Miko in the final scene). Despite the loss of momentum for a few episodes after the mid-boss battle, and shift from it being just two girls on the run to a more political thing, all in all, it was a decent series for cute girls, cute aradama, and well animated sword-fighting (stills just don't do the series justice); and a surprisingly overlooked one.

The phenomenon of the quarter, though, was the spectacular train-wreck that was Darling in the FranXX, which was probably one of those series where you just had to be there at the time. The second cour opened with a flashback episode that replayed the one from Elfen Lied, only with no dismembered corpses this time, then quickly proceeded to the point where both the big planned battle and the story of Captain Save-a-ho and the Manic Dino Dream Girl seemed to be resolved in one sickening saccharine power-of-love upgrade that one-shotted the big bad with more than a third of the series to run.

So then it boarded the troller-coaster, and became "The 14 words, nihonjin edition -- the anime", turning to one of the secondary couples, including a big wedding on the 19th May (which was where I picked this back up), a back-story episode that poorly emulated the Evangelion episode "The Birth of NERV", and the revelation that the real big bad was not the dinoklaxosaurs, nor a breakaway faction thereof, nor rogue AI, but aliens (hey, with an ex-Gainax team at the helm, it having worked in Nadia, Evangelion and TTGL, why not use what you know, I guess).

At this point the series really came off the rails, with way too many ideas being crammed in, and a total lack of editing, especially continuity editing, becoming painfully obvious : even before this point, the number of character resets and repeated "separate the mains for happy reunion" cycles had been apparent, but, now, things that had been trailed as significant were just dropped without mention or completely underplayed -- we didn't even get the obvious closure where Hiro gives Zero Two the name "Honey" (as opposed to oni) at the end. Clearly this was a case of not seeing the wood for the trees, because the level of attention to minute details, from the heraldry of the various cities in the early episodes to the cameo appearance in the last episode of the cat we had seen around the pilots' lodgings at the beginning, to show that it had survived all the excitement, continued throughout. It couldn't even be a completely deliberate thing, where every bit of literary foreshadowing was thwarted "because life doesn't work like that", as on the one hand, the discovery of a book about childbirth did trigger a pregnancy sub-plot, and on the other the conveniently discovered warp-gate in the penultimate episode that we were told would allow a surprise attack on the alien menace actually emerged at a point that required a further two year cruise to the intended destination.

And then to cap it all off, suddenly the main couple didn't get the one last "power of love" boost to destroy the alien uploaders (just a sudden "power of friendship" yelling at the sky from the stay-at-home team, and a complete disregard for speed-of-light limitations), were instead taunted by the alien upload core as having but a weak connection, and concluded with an only marginally successful kamikaze attack (despite doing the GunBuster pose with their mech), while everyone back on Earth lived happily ever after and rebuilt civilisation.

Then suddenly it was souls, not uploads, and an out-of-nowhere reincarnation ending centuries later : no race-mixing half-gaijinklaxo mutts allowed in this Brave New World, thank you very much. Indeed, all in all a series that seems to try to trigger pretty much anyone with its sexual politics, from the doggy-style piloting, the celebration of female mate selection in the pregnancy sub-plot, and the placing of the gender-fluid pilot squad with their candy-coloured hair as rivals/adversaries to the main squad (and, in being wiped out, the source of most of the named-character casualties).