Sunday, August 20, 2017

Monday Musings 6

Bullet Journal Migration 
Over a week's worth of the Daily Log has passed, so I'm starting a new "spread" for the Daily Log. As there are items I didn't complete the past week, I use the > symbol meaning, that these items will be migrated/written down in this new Daily Log. I believe the founder's YouTube video didn't mention this, and only mentioned that at the end of the month, to migrate/write down all the incomplete items of that past month in your next Month Log. But it made sense to me to do this from one daily log to the next.

How to Deal with Back Log
I was thinking about this issue, as I may cave in and buy Crash Bandicoot Remake even though it's against my policy of NO new games until I complete AT LEAST 3, and in fact, now considering my backlog, I really should make this TEN.

At any rate, my friend kept mentioning how awesome this game is since he saw his brother playing Crash when he was growing up. Indeed, it would be fun to play while he watches to revisit his nostalgia, and Crash is too adorable and zany to pass up. However, I'm holding out for now, at least until I complete Dark Souls 3 NG+7, Hell Blade, Nier:Automata, Uncharted 3 and 4, and the Last Guardian. Ideally, I shouldn't even get the game, since my platforming skills are awful, and this game is notoriously difficult. Further, platform games are definitely not my favorites. But at the same time, it's rather hard to resist.

At the same time, I ignored my rule and got the Witcher 3, as it is considered one of the major games of this generation.

Because of all these temptations, and the rather ineffective rule that I can only get a new game after three are completed (i.e. this rule is not enforced, lol), I've decided to donate all the games that I haven't played within the past 12 months to the library. I love win-win situations, so this is a clear win-win solution to backlog. Other people can borrow and use the games so they don't go to waste, and if I ever want to play one of these games, I can borrow, say, the Mass Effect trilogy from the library, even though I played 1 minute of the first one since I got it back in 2013, when I started seriously gaming. So I don't foresee myself borrowing one of my donated games.

I haphazardly donated video games before, but I think I'll make a larger commitment with the 12-month period rule. This demonstrates that if possible, it's always a good idea to get a hard copy if available, as I regret some of my digital purchases, since I can't give those away to someone who would really enjoy them.

Easy Bosses That Are Difficult For Me
Playing through Dark Souls 3, my goal is to reach NG+7, now that I finally memorized all the items placed in the world. I'm at NG+2 right now. During NG, being completionist, I felt the need to get all the items possible including all the Covenant items before going into the next game cycle.

There is one Covenant, Spears of The Church, where you give Filianore's Spear Ornaments to rank up, and you are rewarded a Covenant item (usually a weapon or a spell) once you're at rank 2. Since I play offline, the usual method of farming enemies who can drop these covenant items was impractical, as the Ringed Knights rarely dropped these Ornaments, despite my discovery being 500, which is very high. I respec'd to Luck 99, and equipping all item discovery equipment including: Symbol of Avarice, Covetous Silver Serpent Ring +3, Crystal Sage's Rapier, and Rusted Coin, and still no drop after 1 hour (!).

These Ornaments seem to be even more rare a drop than the notorious Proof of a Concord Kept (Concords are needed to rank up in the Blades of the Darkmoon Covenant). However, if you keep reviving and fighting one of the bosses, Halflight, Spear of the Church, you're guaranteed an Ornament. You need 30 of these Ornaments to get to the highest rank of 2.

So, yes, I fought Halflight over 30 times to be able to achieve the maximum rank, and I'm still not good at defeating her. For some reason, she's very difficult for me, even though all the guides mention that she's a "pushover" and that her AI is easy to exploit, that is offline (online, you may end up battling another person).

Even after practicing 30 times (this is offline of course), I still died 1 time, and Tears of Denial Miracle (leaves you with 1 hit point if the attack otherwise would have killed you) saved me 2 times. And this was when I was level 200s on an NG boss, and I was still struggling! The issue I have with Halflight is by the time I close in on her, and about to attack, she would often parry my attacks and get a critical in, dealing at least 1/3 of my health bar in damage. She also has a rather large AOE (Area of Effect) attack that prevents me from closing in. The best time to attack her is when she pulls out her bow and arrow, so when you strike, at least she can't parry and riposte you. However, as soon as I close in, she immediately switches to her sword and shield, so I have to back off again as I'm afraid she might parry and riposte.

On the other hand, two excellent Dark Souls 3 Players mentioned that Oceiros is one of their hardest bosses. The only time I ever died to him, was when I thought that you can cut off his tail for a weapon. So by aiming at only his tail, it led to one death, and I believe I was at a reasonable level of 70 at that time, and not my usual over-leveled self. However, the other 5 or more times I faced him, I never died, and in fact, I may have used 1 Estus Flask at most. I'm surprised that I must be doing something right against this Boss, when all I'm doing is spamming R1 the whole time and making sure I get under him.

Furthermore, the last boss ever of the entire SoulsBorne series (sniff), Slave Knight Gael, is pretty easy for me, though many find him difficult. My strategy is to guard with Havel's Greatshield +10. After Gael finishes his hit combos, slash twice at him with the refined Broadsword + 10, on a quality build. The Havel's stability of 80, and the fact that it blocks 100% physical and over 86% of the rest of the elementals, make Gael surprisingly easy.

Due to the high stability of Havel's, you really don't run out of Stamina, though having your highest ranked Chloranthy ring equipped is highly recommended. I don't have to use any buffs using this particular method. However, this is only good through NG+2, I'll have to see if it holds up on the hardest difficulty level of NG+7.

And, then there are Bosses that almost everyone finds difficult, such as Darkeater Midir (shudders).

I find it fascinating how we have our specific talents, rendering some bosses really easy that others find difficult. At any rate, which bosses are easy for you that most people find very hard, and vice versa? 

The How of Happiness Review

Monday, August 14, 2017

Monday Musings 5

Why I Hate Modern Family
I really don't understand how this TV show has been so critically and commercially acclaimed. It boggles my mind, especially as I was ready to despise the show before watching it. I'd read this article about an episode that belittled Nigerians as "grinning, dumb Africans"...a great piece which goes into depth about the "hilarious" racism and other chauvinism, and the clips provided made my blood boil. I'm sure some defenders might say I'm missing the context since I didn't see the entire episode, and in fact, had never watched any previously. However,  there's no context in which this is funny, rather than simply mean-spirited at best. One of the best things about the U.S. is our freedom of speech, and I'm glad to use mine to chime in about how obnoxious Modern Family is.  If I wasn't such a fan of the First Amendment, I might approve banning something as pathetic as this.

However, I try to keep an open mind, so when a couple of my friends, who love this show, wanted to show me a "funny" Bad Asian Driver episode, and I learned that at least one of the series' writer/producers was Asian-American Elaine Ko, I wondered how bad could it be?

In "Fears", the couple of blatant caricatures of Euro-American gay men, who have adopted an awful Asian daughter stereotype (if she were 18 years old or more, she would meet the criteria for Antisocial Personality Disorder, aka a sociopath) had their Asian-American pediatrician (Suzy Nakamura) over for dinner. At one point, she discusses how she triumphed over her parents by refusing to follow traditional roles for Japanese women as exclusively wives and mothers. Series creator Steve Levitan, even with a token Chinese-American on staff, didn't realize that another Asian-American stereotype is for Asians to solely work in "professional" fields such as medicine, law or engineering--truly clueless.  But, at any rate, after hitting that point over the head, as she begins her drive back home, she backs up into a garbage can. Funny? Not so much.

Since I wasn't so keen on the show already, I wondered if I was letting prejudice intrude unfairly. Was I a "special snowflake," the kind we read of in internet space, especially as Modern Family is noted to be so very"progressive" as well as Emmy-winning? For instance, if I found out that Joss Whedon wrote this Asian episode, would I find it funny and not offensive? After thinking about it, I'd probably give Joss Whedon the benefit of the doubt, or a pass this time, but would wonder what is the poor guy thinking in writing such dreck? Has he lost all of his writing skills overnight? (My cat Emmy, portrait in blog masthead above, probably would've slept comfortably through these episodes, if she didn't choose to yowl at the screen.)

On the other hand, I do find Bad Asian Driver jokes funny if delivered well in interesting ways, such as Wanda Sykes' joke about Tiger Woods crashing his car.  Sykes' delivery was brilliant and absolutely hysterical, as she pokes fun at stereotypes (and inept "news coverage").  Ali Wong's Asian jokes are also equally humorous, in part because she knows what's she's talking about, in her Netflix Special Ali Wong: Baby Cobra.

Perhaps the "silver lining in the cloud" is that at least I only had to suffer through two complete episodes to know that Modern Family is still atrocious, since my friends then showed me another episode featuring the Asian daughter (that's how I came to find out that she has Antisocial Personality disorder). One episode of Modern Family is one episode too many.  Even so, if this episode had been in any way actually good, I might've had to watch a few more to fairly assess that Modern Family is dreadful. It was a relief that the episode "Fears" was as bad as I suspected it would be.

My Mario Character
Since I found Super Mario Odyssey gameplay quite compelling, I occasionally Google the video game to watch more clips. Unfortunately, one of my Google searches led to the controversy that Nintendo may have incorporated yet another culturally insensitive insult with "Sombrero Mario" in their upcoming game. I can't speak for the Mexican community, but the name "Sombrero Mario" was enough to make me cringe, given the history of Nintendo and the already unfortunate stereotyped depiction of Italians in Mario and Luigi themselves. I'm expecting the worst. As an Asian-American woman, if Mario was "Rice Hat Mario," I wouldn't find this as honoring my heritage.

Again, comments ran to how "special snowflakes" are ruining video games by being upset needlessly over Nintendo's possible negative depiction of Mexicans. Even the writers of these articles themselves seem to feel that any controversy is overstating the case.  This is one of the first articles that comes up on Google where the writers find any outrage ridiculous.

I've decided, then, to make my own Mario Character who might go over quite well with the Asian population (and any who aren't charmed just have to be Wrong). His name is Ching-Chong, and his brother is Ching-Chang.  His skin color is yellow, with prominent buck-teeth, complete with Asian Rice Hat, pocket calculator, and also an abacus.  It's important to conflate Asian cultures (since we're all the "same"), so he's wearing a Karategi (i.e. karate uniform).  When he jumps, he says "Ah so, ah so."

The story behind this set of platform games is that Princess Ming is kidnapped by Bai-Luo who forces her to be a "Comfort Woman". Our intrepid hero, Ching-Chong, the Electrical Engineer, needs to save her.

In addition to Ching-Chong's platform games, there's Ching-Chong Kart. Here, I program the analog sticks to be inverted, ranging anywhere between 1 to 10 seconds in randomized manner. By not knowing when the sticks will invert, it's very easy to crash the Kart. Ching-Chong is the only character that has this control scheme, while the other characters have pin-point precise control over the steering wheel. Therefore, the only Asian driver is easily the most accident-prone one of the game.

I think even if this were done in a satirical manner, the bad jokes and, say, offhanded references to the atrocities of the Rape of Nanking would get old very fast. If you really and truly want to honor a community, its crucial to speak to members of that community and run your ideas by them. I don't think it costs a lot of time and effort to do that, and certainly, a multi-billion dollar corporation such as Nintendo can easily afford to do so.  However, I've a strong sense that Nintendo did not do that and just thought it was "cute" to put Mario in a 1940s American cartoon-style Mexican outfit.

New XBox One Elite Controller
Fortunately I had a warranty and was able to get a full refund on the controller. I learned that due to the build-quality issues of the old model, Microsoft released a new one, and the new Elite controller surprisingly is even better.  The LB and RB buttons are now so easy to press that you only need light pressure.  Further, you can press these buttons with the same light pressure from any angle, any location that you feel comfortable.  I like pressing  at the very edge, when with the regular XBox One and the old Elite models, you had to press a bit harder from a certain angle.

I'm so happy with this controller, since I can kill enemies with considerably less effort, as I can press the RB (i.e. R1 for Sony) hit button so quickly.  It amazes me that it's made the gameplay significantly easier and more enjoyable.

I also hope that this new version holds up considerably better than the old one did.

Another thing I would like to see improved in this controller: the face buttons to be color-coded, so X will be blue and so forth, as opposed to the current situation where all the buttons are gray.

The How of Happiness Review

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

DARK SOULS 3 All Items

Here's the link to my notes.

I finally completed the notes to Dark Souls 3! These items include NG+/NG+2 Rings. The Soul Items are NG, and in parentheses, these Soul Items are in NG+ and beyond. For instance, Soul of a Deserted Corpse (Proud Paladin), so you get the Deserted Corpse in NG, and Proud Paladin in NG+ and beyond.

This list does not encompass all the NPC quest lines, but it does include all items found in the world. If you notice anything missing, please feel free to comment.

I used (but what else?) DieNoob's Youtube video, cross-referenced with the Dark Souls 3 Cheat Sheet, so I believe this is the most complete list. 

However, if you notice anything missing, please feel free to comment! 

Since I numbered the items, it's easier if you just delete the numbers as you get each item, as opposed to laboriously using strike-through. 

The How of Happiness Review

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Bullet Journaling 101

I've decided to write this post to go over the basics of Bullet Journaling. I'm including my own entries to demonstrate that you do NOT NEED TO BE AN ARTIST! In fact, the best place to start is the creator's own YouTube video, and he has no artwork featured. I had to take notes as he went very quickly over the system, but I appreciate how he's not dogmatic and actually states you can use any notebook, as opposed to the official one.

Since I had to take notes during the video, I don't mean to offend anyone by pointing out the obvious, because I needed these most basic things pointed out to me when I started out. So, I'm writing this post to cover the absolute basic things.

The other reason for writing this post, is to show you my entries because they're very basic and require no talent, just notebook, pen and ruler. When you see other people's Bullet Journals, I wonder if they all are graduates of the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), which made me feel overwhelmed.

Indeed, I was excited to see one YouTube video on Bullet Journals, to get more understanding of the basics, as he insists that he can't do art, and that all the ideas he had was from other Bullet Journalists. Come to find out, on his Key page, he had this very handsome artwork on it. 

At any rate, I also have gotten ideas from other Bullet Journalists and put together something that is very basic that everyone can do. 

But again, watch the YouTube video first, and then you can get ideas below.

I'm using a Leuchtturm A4 Master Slim notebook as Leuchtturm is the general consensus, most preferred Bullet Journal.

Terminology:

Spread. This just means two pages, when your book is lying flat:

Spread
The order of Each Spread is: Content, Key, Future Log, Monthly Log, Daily Log, and Collections. I will break each component down.

The Leuchtturm has a Content page built-in and also numbers every page in the journal for you. Otherwise, you'll have to number the pages by hand. Also, I like how the Leuchtturm Content section already has the page numbers on the left for you to write in, and then the subject is to the right:
Content Page, Close-Up
As you can see in the Content page, the first page is the Key. I like to put the Key on Page 1, which Leuchtturm numbers for you. If you have to hand-write all the page numbers, you can number your pages any number you want.

(Aside: if you noticed, I also wrote the Key on the Content spread, just for reinforcement, but I wanted to have a complete new spread for the Key and so I also rewrote the Key on Page 1. In other words, I wrote the Key in two different places).


Key


At any rate, on the left of the Key page, I put down the Bullets, and on the right, Signifiers. Note how I scratched things out, so this is clearly not "professional" and you'll do a better job than this.  Here's a close up of Bullet symbols.  As we go into the details of the various logs, the symbols will be explained:
Bullets, Close-Up
 Here's the details of the Key page, Signifiers:
 
Signifiers, Close-Up
On the next Spread, I have the Future Log spread on pages 2 and 3.  You put 6 months per Spread.  The beauty of this system is that unlike planners, you can start at any month you want, instead of the usual January. Here, we started in August, so the Future Log spread runs from August 2017 through January 2018.

 
Future Log

Here's a close-up of the Future Log's September, which has the taxes due. 
For taxes due, that's on September 15th, I circle that day on the calendar. To the right, I put, in order: ! (signifying Deadline), * (signifying Important) and • (signifying Task).
 
Future Log, September, Close-Up
After the Future Log spread, here's the Monthly Log spread, Pages 4 and 5. On the left side of the spread is the calendar, and on the right is the Month's To-Do list, events, appointments.

Monthly Log for August
Close-up of the Monthly calendar, I have put in the events and appointments:
 
Monthly Log: August Calendar, Close-Up


This is the close-up of the other page of the Monthly Log, which is your to-do list, events and appointments. The • are the Tasks, ◯ are events like Birthdays, Holidays, and △ are scheduled events like Doctor's Appointments. As you can see here, blog is due on the 6th, 13th, 20th, and 27th. I'm quite surprised that I was organized enough to put all the dotted tasks first, followed by appointments below, and then on the right side, all the events. That's unusual for me, and most likely, in the future, this would not be organized.  However, by looking at the Monthly Log's calendar of this spread, you can see when all the events/tasks are scheduled/due, so organization of the To-Do List section of the spread is NOT necessary.
Monthly Log, August To Do List, Close-Up


After the Monthly Log spread, next spread is the Daily Log, pages 6 and 7. At the bottom is the Daily Habit Tracker. I only added 3 Habits, but will add more once I'm more consistent:

Daily Log Spread
This is a close-up of the Daily Log. The • is the Task, and the X means I completed the Task. The ◯ is an event and * is important:
 
Daily Log To-Do List, Close-Up


This is a close-up of the Daily Habit Tracker which I put at the bottom of the Daily Log. I made only three rows of the habits, and then the columns are the days of the week. I put X when completed the tasks:


Daily Log: Daily Habit Tracker, Close-Up

For the next spread after Daily Spread, you can include your Collections.  My Collections are: Gratitude Journal, Exercise Log, Video Games to Complete, Blog Ideas, and Dark Souls 3 Notes. You can make your Collections any subject you want, or not have any Collections.

My Gratitude Journal is very simple, on pages 8 and 9:
Collection, Gratitude Journal, Close-Up

Exercise Log follows on the next spread, pages, 10 and 11. I circle the days when I do at least 10 consecutive flights of stairs, so it can give me an easy visual as to how many days/week I've been exercising. As you can see, last week, I exercised twice, which are circled. Below the calendar, I just wrote dates, and #Flights. It may be hard to see, but the last entry is 8-2 = 10, 10 = 20 Flights:
Collection: Exercise Log, Close-up

Video Games to Complete, 11 and 12, this is a close-up to get a general idea. I put • next to each game, to cross out • once game is completed:
Collection: Video Games to Complete, Close-Up

Dark Souls 3 Notes is self-explanatory, but I made sure I start it on a new spread as per usual:
Collection: Dark Souls 3 Notes, Close-Up

The beauty of this system is that once you fill up the daily log, you can easily go to the very last blank spread, to make your next daily log. This is not an issue because you can index those pages so it will be easy to find. Further, the Leuchtturm has a bookmark that you can place for your current daily to-do list. If you run out of space for any of the Logs or Collections, then add that to your next blank spread, index those pages, and so on and so forth.

Now that you see how simple it is to make your Content, Key, and Future, Monthly, Daily Logs, and Collections, the organization plan is quite brilliant, which we'll break down.

However, first, watch the Youtube Video as it makes more sense to see the system in action.

For each day, write down • Tasks in the Daily Log. If you remember that you have something scheduled way in the future, like taxes due, put the Scheduled symbol (<) next to it. The < visually points back to the Future Log spread, and reminds you to add the task to the Future Log.
 
Daily Log, Migrated Tax with < sign

Then, go back to the Future Log, and put the Tax task in your calendar. As you can see, in this close up of the Future Log, I circled 15, and to the right, wrote down the Task (•) of paying taxes, with the deadline (!) and important (*) signifiers:
 
Migrated Tax Task to the Future Log
At the end of this month, August, look at all of your Daily Log lists. Scan for all the • that have NOT been crossed off, and see if you really need to do them. If not, put a line through the entire task.  But, if you still need to do them, put a Migrated symbol (>) on it, and write that task in the next month's Log, September, in the To-Do List section of the spread.  The > points forward, reminding you to put this in the next month's Log. 


Since we're not at the end of August, I don't have any examples of Migrated tasks, but will update this post with picture when the time arrives.

Next, look at the Future Log to see if you have any tasks for the upcoming Month, September, and then put that September task in your September monthly log spread. So, starting in September, I'll put taxes due in the September Monthly Log, and when it comes to the 15th, that would be on my Daily Log to do list.

And that's all there is to it!

I really love this system as you can see everything on paper, and can easily flip the pages back and forth, which is much faster than electronic systems.

Conclusion: Do not be intimidated by the fancy artwork, perfect handwriting and calligraphy, fancy fountain pens, and terminology of the Bullet Journal world. Your Bullet Journal can be as simple as the one I've shown. Those who are creative, by all means draw! This is your journal to do whatever you want with it!

The How of Happiness Review

Monday Musings 4

DARK SOULS 3 PROGRESS 
I finally memorized the main game, and am now working on the DLCs, which I'm frankly dreading. I kept going over the same last three areas of the main game due to procrastination. I "felt" that I didn't quite master Lothric Castle, Grand Archives, and Archdragon Peak, when in fact, I can visualize these areas and all items in my mind. The DLCs were so difficult for me, even when I was SL300s (?!??) I had a lot of problems, that I'm really not inspired to go through the DLC areas.

Even though I'm now using a PC/Steam with cheat engine, so that there's one hit kills, enemies can't move, infinite stamina, infinite weight, and infinite HP, I still feel the dread because of past experience. If you want to memorize the game, I recommend getting the PC/Steam version and using such a cheat engine as it would make it SO much faster to make a save-file of the entire NG+2 game, leaving all items behind. I mention NG+2, as that game cycle will have all the NG+/+2 rings. So when I want to go to an area, I just bonfire to the area.

To find this master save file (the one that the PC/Steam system uses), you need to search for %appdata% as it's a roaming, invisible file. Then you'll see the Dark Souls 3 folder, literally titled Dark Souls 3.  Copy and paste that onto another save file and/or USB drive.  I'll pretend that you copied the file to your USB drive. Once you pick up all the items and you want to practice again, just copy and paste the USB drive file onto your %appdata% folder.

However, make sure both your Steam and game are running off-line as you can be soft-banned if you play on-line, and perhaps even off-line, which happened to me with Dark Souls 2. This is the trainer that I use. Since you'll be invincible with infinite stamina, weight, HP and FP, and the enemies aren't moving (you need to turn that feature off for Yhorm, though, since he'll get stuck on the throne and you can't hit him), do NOT turn on infinite Souls, infinite Items, or messing up your stats in any way, as I'm quite paranoid that even off-line, From's servers can magically find and ban you (they look for any suspicious amount of items and overly high SL levels for the game time), which happened to me with Dark Souls 2. I worked around the Dark Souls 2 soft-ban by creating another account, and using the Family Share when I want to do co-op. This goes on to my gripe:

FROM SOFTWARE AND HOW WE PLAY GAMES
I really don't understand the soft-banning of players who are actually playing off-line and using cheat engines. I mean, who cares if someone beats the game by cheating? What is wrong is if you use cheat engines so your infinite HP, FP and weight character can beat up on other real human players in multi-player, or if your infinite character co-ops and you get a cheap kill, so that the summoner doesn't get the fun experience of killing a difficult boss (unless it's your friend, and you want him or her to do that for you).

But, really, who cares if you want to mess around with cheat engines during a single player campaign that affects literally no-one in the gaming world? Even so, I have read commentary online where people are actually ANGERED that someone is using cheat engines to beat a difficult boss. I really don't see how this is unethical, because it's not like you're cheating on an important exam that tests your knowledge of the job you're going to do. This is a fucking game! There's never going to be a life or death situation where, OMG, since you didn't beat Dark Eater Midir legitimately, the person is going to DIE!!!

I mention Dark Eater Midir because he's genuinely the one boss that I almost broke down and wanted my friend to co-op, but I finally beat him solo. But, perhaps the thinking is that "you're only cheating yourself" for not enjoying the thrill of beating the boss, but again, who really cares? There's other things that are much more enjoyable and thrilling that you can participate in, it's not like cheating in games is going to reduce the quality of your life!

XBOX ONE ELITE CONTROLLER--MUST GET WARRANTY
I've forgotten to mention in my past reviews the major issue of the XBox One Pro controller, and that is, they tend to not work properly, lasting less than one year, so I made sure I got a warranty for my controller when I first purchased. Check all the Amazon and gaming forums, and you'll see that this is not just a few isolated cases.

Mine was working fine, until recently, it has started to randomly disconnect, the playable character will go in straight line without my touching the controller, and the left LB sometimes doesn't register as the button doesn't click. Wiggling around the LB puts it back in place. The warranty gave my money back (NOT including tax, but fortunately I didn't pay tax at the time of the online sale). I'm afraid that if I buy another Xbox One Pro controller with warranty, that if it also breaks within a year, I'll have to get another one, with yet another warranty, after each broken Pro controller. That would cost approximately $20 for each broken one.

I thought that Microsoft's warranty might cover three years where they make sure they replace the controller so it will function for all three years, but they do not give out warranties for accessories.

As the warranty I had was online, and they refund your money, but not your tax (however, I couldn't find this seller so the only safe option is Amazon, which you'll have to pay tax), I would recommend buying the controller instead at Best Buy. With the Geek Squad protection giving you a full replacement, you don't have to worry about your tax not being refunded. Unfortunately, this is only for two years. What I recommend is if the controller breaks in less than 90 days, get a new one through Microsoft. Then, if that new controller breaks outside of 90 days, the Geek Squad protection will cover. If you buy the controller through Microsoft, the warranty is only for one year.

I'm not sure if Best Buy's product replacements are infinite until your two years are up. If they are, then Best Buy is the best deal. If that's not the case, then you have to get a warranty upon each new replacement, and it will cost $19.99 plus tax. I think you'll have to find if it's worth it to you, but due to the comfort, it's worth it for me. However, it is a gamble, and I'm crossing my fingers that my new controller will function for at least over a year.

The other problem is that the regular XBox One controller also breaks easily, due to the flimsy micro-USB connection, but the $19.99 warranty cost every time the controller breaks may not be worth it, given that the controller is around $40. I'm not sure what to do in this situation except perhaps buying them directly from the Microsoft store, and if you're lucky, going to a physical Microsoft store, and complain. I think if you keep complaining in a respectful manner, the managers will feel uncomfortable as other customers there will hear how flimsy the controller is, and may give you a new one despite warranty expiration. Further, it's important for the other consumers there to see that these controllers do break often so they can make an informed decision with their purchases.

CLAIREFONTAINE IS MY FAVORITE
I can safely say that almost all, if not all, bullet journalists will prefer Leuchtturm over Moleskine. Simply put, Leuchtturm is better quality than Moleskine in every aspect including paper, function, design, variety and cost. Since Leuchtturm costs the same as a Moleskine and better in every way, why not get a Leuchtturm?

What surprised me is that I love the Clairefontaine French-ruled paper so much, that despite the issues of the notebook, I prefer it to Leuchtturm. However, I think most bullet journalists will prefer the Leuchtturm due to the following reasons: you can't chose the color of the Clairefontaine notebook, it doesn't lie perfectly flat and you really have to push the paper down, no ribbons for bookmarks (and Leuchtturm has 2), the cloth-bound cover is not hard-cover, but laminated, and the pages aren't numbered. Even so, the Clairefontaine paper quality is so incredible that I can overlook these issues, and it's half the cost of the Leuchtturm, and includes more sheets.

The French-rule instantly makes my handwriting neater, as it has built-in spacing, so writing isn't squished and cramped, as you can see with the Leuchtturm. Because it's easier to write on the so smooth paper, my handwriting is naturally neater. I tried writing as neatly on both the Clairefontaine and Leuchtturm, and you can see how much easier it is to read on the Clairefontaine. They're both the same notes on Lothric Castle. Indeed, I can't impress upon how smooth the Clairefontaine paper is compared to the Leuchtturm--it's really a joy to write on, whereas Leuchtturm's paper is more functional, and not quite as enjoyable.

Furthermore, for fountain pen users, my understanding is that Clairefontaine is the only paper that can withstand the ink. However, for most people like me who don't use fountain pens, there is no issue with the Leuchtturm paper with ball point pens, and I used the rather smudgy Bic Crystal Ball Pen on the Leuchtturm with no bleeding or ghosting.

In addition to Clairefontaine's silky smooth paper, I love the smell of it (!), and the bright white color versus the ivory color of the Leuchtturm. Also, the lines are darker than the Leuchtturm, making it easier for me to see so I can be guided better, but most bullet journalists would probably prefer the more unobtrusive lines of a Leuchtturm and may hate the smell of the Clairefontaine paper (cross between new car smell and Play-Doh), whereas Leuchtturm's is odorless.

Now, if the Leuchtturm has Clairefontaine paper, French-ruled (and the other formats such as dotted, grid), then it will be THE undisputed choice for best Bullet Journal.                                    


Clairefontaine--Lothric Castle Notes
Leuchtturm--Lothric Castle Notes

The How of Happiness Review

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Monday Musings 3

Fountain Pens 
As I got swept into the world of Bullet Journaling, the hot topic is fountain pens, and I remember growing up, I've always wanted a very nice fountain pen, given my love of stationary, so I wanted to learn more about them.

I read about the basics of fountain pens, and my heart sank. The very first and basic point made about fountain pens is that you should NEVER let anyone use your pen as it would change the way the nibs feel, as they're shaped by the individual way that you write and place pressure, so it would warp the nibs in the wrong way, that won't be uniquely yours, if someone dares even breathe on the pen!

That's a complete deal-breaker, because the most fun part of pens is sharing them with your friends, so you can have a rich discussion into the feel, the color, how fun it is and how it compares to other pens. I remember that my friend and I were surprised that we both felt that this particular drug-rep pen is the best, because the ink has a clicky feel when using it that's extremely pleasant, and it makes you write neater, which is hard to explain, but we both agreed at once. And, it was fun to discuss why we love this pen so much. We both then bitched and moaned that we didn't have the foresight to grab all these pens, as they're not sold on the market, when these incredible pens ran out of ink. To this day, I can't find a comparable pen. 

The other issue of fountain pens is that it appears that Clairefontaine paper is the only paper that can truly take fountain pens with confidence, as other papers have issues of ghosting and bleeding, so you're stuck with only Clairefontaine and Rhodia (which has Clairefontaine paper but only at 80 gsm weight) notebooks, as the most accessible notebooks that you can buy online. There are other esoteric notebooks that have Clairefontaine paper, but hard to find. Further, both Clairefontaine and Rhodia don't quite have the style of Bullet Journal that I'm looking for, lacking many fun colors of other more "main stream" notebook lines.

The final problem is that fountain pens are outrageously expensive, some can cost a thousand dollars (?!??), so considering how easy it is to lose pens, I don't find this makes anyone comfortable to even use. I feel like I'd need it in a lock box at all times. For me, Fountain Pens are a bad idea!

Dark Souls 3 Progress
Being distracted by the world of Bullet Journaling, I've made minimal progress since last week. Since I'm really into journaling, I've been taking notes of all the items, so it certainly reminds me of my college days, and propelled me to write a review of the Getting Straight A's book. However, the note taking, though solidifying my memory, takes quite a long time.

Disgustingly Cute Pictures
I apologize for this short post, because I also have to recover from sugar overdose after seeing these pictures

The How of Happiness Review.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Getting Straight A's

GETTING STRAIGHT A's by Gordon Green, Ph.D. 
As school is about to start, I thought I should post a review of the BEST college "textbook" I've purchased, which is Dr. Green's Getting Straight A's. I never took high school seriously, most likely because it was free, and there's something to be said of having to pay for something that makes it appear more valuable. At any rate, when I started college, there was significantly less structure and less input on what is expected, as college affords tons more freedom, whereas high school tends to be spoon-fed to you. Therefore, I had no idea what I was doing, and wasn't doing well in my classes, which made me feel guilty as money was being thrown away.

I'm not sure how I came upon the book: if I found out about it after doing research, or if my friend showed me this book when we were both struggling with our classes, and told me how effective it was. At any rate, when we both read this book together, it was a complete revelation; light bulbs were turning on, and angels were singing. The reason why this book is so successful is for four reasons.

The first is that Dr. Green, being a psychologist, understands how professors think. The concept behind his system is that your professors are presenting their entire life's work and passion, and if you parrot back exactly what they say on your paper and exams, they will give you an A, if not an A+. I can NOT emphasize how true this is! Since you're validating and showing your appreciation of their life's work, of course they'll shower you with praise and best grades.

Further, it shows to them that you are paying attention to them AND are equally passionate (after all you're memorizing everything they're saying), which further strokes their ego, especially if you further ask them questions to clarify. When the tables were turned and I was teaching a class, it was so much easier teaching the same material to one particular class where the students were very enthusiastic who asked questions and were attentive, but extremely difficult and uncomfortable with another class where the students were not paying attention and were disinterested. I can't impress how much I appreciated the first class, and I actually complained about how awful this second class is to my friends. We all have biases, and if you're an enthusiastic and respectful student, and your grade hangs in the balance between B+ and an A, your professor may give you the benefit of the doubt and give you an A. I know I will because I would think that you've put in a lot of hard work into the class, and deserve the higher grade.

At any rate, one comment on one of my college exams, which made me giggle, is a theory I wrote, which was literally verbatim what this professor said so many times, and he wrote (underlining the theory in question), "This is so brilliantly put, I never thought about that!", which he obviously has. I was not surprised that I got an A+ on this particular exam.

The second reason why this book is so successful is that it doesn't take a lot of time to do the system. I did NOT follow exactly everything the author recommended, but I still got A's. I do remember spending 1 hour a day of work, maybe a little more over the weekends (i.e up to two hours a day on weekends). I remember that it was in fact just 1 to 2 hours because my friend and I were incredulous that her sister's boyfriend was studying "only six hours that day" instead of his usual 10 to 12 hours/day, as we felt there's no way we can possibly study for 6 hours, not to mention 10 to 12.

The way to go about memorizing verbatim:
  1. Do the reading beforehand, so you can follow what the professor is saying more easily. Attend EVERY single class and borrow notes if you're sick (or have a friend record the lecture as long as the professor allows for it) and take your own notes when you're feeling better.
  2. Sit in the very first row up front to prevent distractions, so you don't miss a thing. Take notes verbatim. Write down EVERY word that they're saying. I scored "Brownie points" when I missed something, and asked professors to repeat what they said. If you're still unclear, attend office hours to clarify things, which I abused.
  3. As soon as possible after class (preferably that very day, ideally in between classes if you have free time), write question on one side of index card, and then answer on the back side of the index card based on your notes.
    • Ex. your professor said, "The best game is Dark Souls 1".
    • Front side of index card: "What is the best game?"
    • Back side of index card: "Dark Souls 1".
As I'm beginning to actually hate Breath of the Wild (probably due to the undue, over-the-top praise that's making me gag), do NOT test the professor by being cute and writing down Breath of the Wild instead of Dark Souls 1. I believe students might think if they give out original, creative thought, the professors would "appreciate it", which they might, but they're not going to love these ideas as much as their own.

I'm not sure what the next details are, but if my memory serves me right, over the weekend, take all the index cards and memorize the answers. Do the reading for Monday. I believe you then take all the index cards, and memorize all of them a couple of weeks before the exam. Day before the exam, go over the cards again. Then spit out the exact wording on the exams and collect your A+.

The third reason why this book is so successful is that you don't have to be organized. I read other books of this kind to see if Green's book is truly the "best" on the subject, and when I read what these other authors advise you to do, it was so complicated that I need an organizational flow chart just to follow their methods! Envisioning myself doing this, I felt so overwhelmed and overwrought. They even discussed scheduling your hygiene while in college, which is ridiculous. If, by their methods, you don't have enough time so you have to schedule when to brush your teeth, you know they're doing something wrong.

The fourth and last reason as to why this book is the best investment you can make in college is that you DO end up learning interesting things with all this memorizing, yet you only spend at most 2 hours/day on studying, and you have the rest of the time to have fun (hopefully you don't have to work during college). So it allows you to have balance in your life as opposed to following ridiculous, convoluted organizational systems of the other books. By having a balance, you'll enjoy your college life.

I didn't have any issues with writing papers, but I believe there is a sizable section in the book that describes how to write papers successfully and efficiently that is a good idea to go through, which I believe I did back then, but I forgot the details.

There's also a sizable section on how to read effectively as well, especially with liberal arts majors, the professors often give way too much reading. If you're taking math and engineering courses, in addition to the above, Dr. Green suggests doing as many problems as possible, perhaps even more than required, until you perfect your performance. I did very well in my Symbolic Logic class because I did every single question on the software, well beyond the homework requirements.

This book can be used successfully in high school and college, but I think with the amount of memorization that's involved in law and medical school, the book may not be effective.

However, if you're a high school or college student, this book is a life saver! I know I tend to recommend borrowing books first and see if you find them helpful before buying, but in this situation, I would buy the book right now so you can read it before high school/college starts. Then, you can have the book with you during your school year to refresh and refer back to if you hit any stumbling blocks.

The How of Happiness Review

Monday Musings 6

Bullet Journal Migration  Over a week's worth of the Daily Log has passed, so I'm starting a new "spread" for the Daily ...