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About Odainsaker

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    Landed Gentry

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    Pale Blue Dot, Texas
  • Interests
    SimCity, Civilization, History, Geography, Art, Architecture, Urban Design...and Anime and J-dorama!

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  1. It has also been scorching hot in South Texas, so out too came the watermelon, pineapple, and glasses of strawberry lemonade. It is common here in South Texas to put chili powder on watermelon, just as it was common back in Hawaii to put li hing powder on pineapple. Chinese li hing mui, or salty dried and sour pickled plums, from which the red Hawaiian powder is made, is supposedly not too unlike Japanese umeboshi. I'm actually more than happy with just plain watermelon and just plain pineapple, but the family was too fast with the li hing red powder packet.
  2. 5886 Formal wear in Hawaii was the Aloha shirt, and I kept the nicest ones with the darkest blues, lushest rainforest greens, and deepest reds for school photos and weddings. White tabi with my flip-flop rubber slippers meant we were going to greet the visiting Emperor.
  3. The Elephant Kashimashi (エレファントカシマシ) - "Rekishi"「歴史」 ("History") I've watched so many of these that YouTube suddenly recommended this video: No way... It can't be... What the... I know that EleKashi's frontman Miyamoto Hiroji started as a young choir boy and had released hits even at that age, but, wow, is that really Miyamoto-san? Even the Japanese message boards were not sure but seemed ready and eager to think so. I've been running it side-by-side with the music video for "Mayonaka no Hero" just to compare faces. Later research tells me it's not really him, however, the CD "Hajimete no Boku Desu" was his childhood hit and is no less incomprehensibly cute, especially compared to him singing "Kanashimi no Hate" in the Budōkan. Ah well, my own humor...Michael Jackson in The Jackson 5 and Ricky Martin in Menudo were ridiculously cute too.
  4. 5882 "Star Trek: Voyager" picks up much more speed once they finally ditch the Kazon mujahedeen and meet Jeri Ryan with her dominatrix implants.
  5. It's a wonderful new project. Nofunk's building choices really do have that character. I mentioned once that his Hoffman Building looked very much like the old Exchange Building in my hometown of San Antonio. Amusingly, now his Watkins & Sons looks like San Antonio's Robert E. Lee Hotel, both of which I am sure look like many other similarly sized buildings of the period. Naturally, these are not identical relations, but buildings of these types used fairly standardized parts and easily repeatable designs and were then decorated with the aid of widely distributed trade industry pattern books. Such buildings may have been commonplace then, but nowadays are becoming more precious to preserve as we have lost the basis and ability to convincingly build them like that. I just find it funny to walk around my downtown and think, "that could easily be a Nofunk building!"
  6. I always liked this lecture by Andrés Duany, given in his younger years as a traveling manifesto of his "New Urbanism": "San Antonio By Design" Seminar, 1991: The same video can be watched here in several parts, with much more interesting viewer posted commentary. I first watched this lecture on San Antonio public access television back in the mid 1990s, and it was one of the most eye-opening programs I had even seen on public access cable. A paradigm shift in the theory of urban planning was then underway, and I was fortunate to later attended in person a more elaborately hosted version of this same lecture given in Austin. Sadly, 30-years later, American urban planning continues to further choke on its own runaway sprawl, and there is much to be said on where and why New Urbanism has seemingly not lived up to its potential promise. Admittedly, I do actually try to apply what I learned in this lecture to my simcities, even if the program doesn't necessarily give us the tools to do it. If automobile traffic isn't congested in my grandiosely idealistic simcities, then I'm doing something wrong.
  7. It's ImageShack all over again. One day the internet will capsize in a garbage-filled sea of dead links, broken images, irrelevant searches, pop-up ads, and bot attacks. What will the archaeologists of the future make of it all?
  8. That's what I thought too, as the user directories that the dialogue box won't navigate into look to all be system-based folders of some sort. However, it's only those system-based user folders that have spaces in their names that won't open, while other folders that should also logically be similarly system-protected but have no spaces in their name are still accessible. Non-system folders with spaces in their names still work normally. All this while logged on with the Win 7 administrator's account and also specifically running the original disc SimCity 4 Rush Hour program as an administrator. Oddly enough, SimCity 4 can navigate into My Documents when finding a saved region to load; it's only the import map dialogue box that won't cooperate. Even typing any path in the offered field will not work, and does not work in ways that make me think the field actually was not designed to take full paths and can only show the names of selected valid files. Others have had this problem, but I do not know how widespread it is or what specific conditions or program versions come into play, and it may yet in the end under the tangle still indeed be a particular issue of permissions. I chalk it all up to the quirks of using a cheat command to tweak a 14-year-old program that predated this operating system by six years and UAC by four, hence the trial and error to find successful workarounds. Rendering with grayscale images just saved on the desktop or in a temp folder works just as well for me and is easier than trying to troubleshoot this peculiar instance. In a similar vein, there is some quirk that is preventing ReshiramLover from proceeding to render with a selected PNG image, one that has been shown to now work. A quick and easy start to weed out quirks is to begin with simple filenames, simple paths, and simple filetypes, but the trial and error will have to be on their end.
  9. For this problem I have no idea why it wouldn't work, but I admit I am finding the import menu dialogue box that appears when using the CRTL-Alt-Shift-R key-combination to be quirky. In my case, the resulting dialogue box will not let me select and browse into the My Documents folder, and so I cannot navigate to My Documents/SimCity 4/Regions/ when trying to import any customs maps. I can click on the folder and highlight it, but the game doesn't open it or otherwise respond. Apparently, SimCity 4's old menu navigation in the import map dialogue box cannot cope with folders that have a space in the folder name under some versions of Windows, and "My Documents" with a space is virtually chiseled in stone under Windows. After some trials, I have found I have to do a personal workaround: stick all my grayscale images in some other convenient folder under a path with no spaces that the dialogue box will let me open and then import them from there, as it is not actually mandatory that the grayscale image to be in the Regions folder. You may have to do some similar trial and error on your end with this one, of which a quick one might be to check for spaces in any folder or file names.
  10. I was looking up a reference in Suzhou, China, when Google spit out this: Nope, it's not that one in London! It's this year's recently finished Suzhou Tower Bridge, one of 56 bridges in the canal city outlandishly modeled after famous bridges of the world. Suzhou has become China's City of the Clones... Oooooo...ahhhhh! Actually, it's too overblown and gimmicky for my taste. However, I suppose that if we in the West can contort traditional Chinese buildings into fast-food takeout joints, then all is fair with the Chinese plopping supersized copies of Western landmarks in their cities. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery...though, I must admit, SimCity is not the only place where plopping Eiffel Towers looks really peculiar. My mind is more boggled and even terrified by the overbuilt scalelessness of the surrounding mega development of the New China in the background. For comparison, we might consider the core area of "old" Suzhou, the romantically picturesque "Venice of the Orient": Like all the other clueless tourists flocking old Suzhou, I'll wonder why the city planners don't just run with this throughout the entire city.
  11. Nomura Securities Head Office, a 1920s-1930 art deco Tokyo landmark by Gobanboshi, It can be found on Gobanboshi's site in the commercial BATs section along with many other wonderful Japanese BATs.
  12. That latest PNG image actually does indeed work, and I just successfully imported it into a new SimCity 4 region without making any changes to it. This is what resulted while using a 16x16, all-blue config.bmp to define the city tile borders: Again, I can't speak to the awful edge reconciliation of the large city tiles, which is an issue unto itself, but SimCity 4 on my system at least did accept the grayscale PNG image file as is. This was the config map I used, which the imgur host turned from BMP to PNG, but which you can use again if you resave it as a BMP: The most likely stumbling block now is the procedure used to import the map into SimCity. There are specific steps that should be done to import any map successfully into SimCity 4, which are carefully detailed here. It will require a config.bmp, in this case one 16x16 pixels in size such as I used, and if you are making a custom config.bmp in the same Photoshop that created the grayscale map, you will need to make sure that your Photoshop preferences are again not causing anything peculiar to happen to the config.bmp as was happening to the grayscale map. "SimCity 4 still won't use the image..." is too vague: Can you navigate to the image in SimCity, does SimCity freeze, does it create an error message, does it crash to desktop, does it seemingly process the map indefinitely, or does it create a map still underwater?
  13. The PNG image just posted still has the same previous embedded color profile as was previously mentioned. Just changing between types of saved file formats is futile until this underlying issue is resolved. Photoshop still sees the image as having the color profile "Dot Gain 20%" and then processes it under its color management schemes to appear lighter for ultimate use on a printing press, but the image is actually darker than we think it is. When a matching "Dot Gain 20%" color management scheme is not being used, such as in another graphic editor customized a different way or in SimCity 4, the image will be read as darker than we saw it in Photoshop. The PNG image colored profiled this way, when turned into a BMP or JPG and rendered in SimCity, will render as all underwater. As we are not intending to print this grayscale image on a printing press anyway, we should not be using "Dot Gain 20%" as a color management profile. I took the PNG just posted directly above and ran it through Photoshop and changed the image's color profile. Different versions of Photoshop have the menu command in different places, mine was here: Top Menu-->Edit-->Convert to Profile... (I have another version of Photoshop which instead had the command here: Top Menu-->Image-->Mode-->Convert to Profile... Your mileage may vary.) Once the command has been found and selected, the Convert to Profile dialogue box should appear: It showed that the current PNG image had a Source Space Profile set as "Dot Gain 20%", a setting optimized for use with a black & white printing press and a default setting of some versions of Photoshop geared for professional printing services. I chose the Destination Space field to use the Profile: "Gray Gamma 2.2", the setting commonly used for monitor displays and generally shared internet images. Window's users will typically use Gray Gamma 2.2, though I understand Mac users typically have a different gamma setting, 1.8. All the many different color profile settings have their own special graphic art and imaging purposes, but we just want the most universally generic profile for our computers for SimCity. After the conversion as complete, I saved the converted image as a BMP, and then sent it off to import into SimCity 4: We can see that it renders with a stomach-shaped land surrounded by "water" at the threshold of sea level. As the original PSD file showed that the "water" was a granular pattern of colors using values that skirt above and below SimCity's default sea level, the granular beach-like render would be the expected result. I do not know exactly why the city tile edges reconcile so poorly like that, and can only guess that it is because we are using values so close to the threshold of SimCity sea level that the game doesn't know whether to reconcile up or down. Regardless, the result is in line with what we would expect given what was seen in the original PSD file: a stomach-shaped land just above a surrounding composite water set to just skirt above and below the threshold of sea level. It think this makes it clear that the issue is in the gray space profile of the original PSD image and/or in the working gray space of the Photoshop program used to create it. What the Photoshop program is set up to use as a color management profile preference, what the grayscale images are initially created with, and what SimCity 4 is expecting all need to match.
  14. I'm not familiar enough with Paint to really understand the mechanics of this issue, but, after some experimenting saving and passing images converted in different formats between Paint and PaintShop Pro, I don't think Paint can handle 8-bit grayscale jpegs. Any 8-bit grayscale jpeg I feed into Paint brings forth the problem, which looks suspiciously like Paint has somehow on its own munged the color depth down to seemingly 4-bit with only 16 colors or gray steps, creating all the crazy dithering artifacts. Wiki tells us Microsoft Paint actually does not have a grayscale mode and does have unavoidable limits and complications when colors use less than 24 bits, are not True Color, or do not come saved as their own indexed palette, and heavy dithering destroying images will be the result. Any work around would seem to necessarily involve using another graphics editor to convert the image into a form that Paint can handle, and then afterwards converting anything saved in Paint back into a form SimCity can use. For sanity's sake, the best solution might be to just find another, more robust graphics editing program without this particular quirk. GIMP seems to be popular in the SimCity community.
  15. zoning

    I really dig the top-down map view for planning. It just feels so much more natural to imagine planning in this way than from a usual SimCity perspective. I am reminded of two port towns here in Texas, El Copano and Galveston. El Copano was a small pirate cove on Copano Bay that was recast as a proper Spanish port town, the first in South Texas, by the viceroy in 1785. As the deepest port on the Texas coast with a strategic promontory, it provided logistical support for Spanish and later Mexican garrisons marching to the new provincial seat of San Antonio de Béxar 120 miles inland, with a royal road connecting to the presidio town of Goliad and then the ranch town of Floresville before reaching San Antonio. While the harbor seemed excellent and Copano Point was strategically sited, it was difficult to maintain fresh water and the area with its surrounding bayou were prone to annual devastation from Gulf of Mexico hurricanes. A railroad to Goliad and San Antonio was never realized, and, after enough hurricanes, Copano was finally abandoned in the 1880s, with its population moving inland to the town of Refugio. Copano, once the key access port for the Spanish colonization of Texas, is today a ghost town inaccessible from land whose ruins are slowly collapsing into the bay. Nearby, however, were later founded fishing harbor of Port Aransas on the barrier island and then the larger city of Corpus Christi, sitting only 30 miles away and sharing the same bay and lagoon complex as Copano to become a major Gulf port for the export of South Texas oil and agriculture. Galveston Island, a barrier island sheltering the natural harbor of Galveston Bay, was another pirate haven whose settlement was reorganized into a port town by Mexico in 1825 and which later became a major port for American and European immigrant entry into Texas. By the end of the 1800s, it was one of the largest ports in the U.S., particular for the export of cotton. The storm surge of the Great Galveston Hurricane of 1900 drowned the island and destroyed the exposed island city, and it has never since fully recovered its former prominence. Development shifted to Houston 46 miles inland, and the opening of the Houston Ship Channel giving that city sea access to Galveston Bay has allowed Houston to become a major U.S. port, an export center for the oil and gas industry, and a Beta+ ranked global city. Rebuilt Galveston, eclipsed as a seaport by Houston, still remains as a museum of Victorian architecture and a popular historic town catering to tourists and cruise lines. Hopefully, these two stories with a few hurricanes might give some inspiration.