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  • Vanberge 11:31 pm on February 22, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Netflix-X2,   

    Plugin Transfusion – Netflix-X2 

    **Updated** 2/24/2010
    I kept the motivational momentum going here and have made this plugin totally widget-capable. Totally tested and declared stable as version 1.3! Updated download links.

    Over a year ago, I decided to take Albert Banks’ WordPress Netflix plugin, fork it, and maintain it as a new plugin…

    I did this because Albert’s version didn’t support newer RSS feeds that Netflix provided, and it lacked some functionality that I desperately wanted to have (displaying movie reviews I’ve written on the Netflix site). So, I decided to maintain my own version for better, and for worse.

    My interest and motivation to work on this plugin has drastically diminished lately – but today I got a transfusion of sheer inspiration to do some much needed house-keeping. Ever since it’s inception in 2006 with Albert’s first version – this plugin has used functions from MagpieRSS to ingest and parse the RSS feeds. Well, unbeknown to me this library has not been maintained since 2005 and never even made it out of beta status (even though wordpress’ rss.php include file has it built in?). I decided to bite the bullet today and make some modifications to my plugin… Most notably it’s now using fetch_feed function from SimplePie vs Magpie’s fetch_rss function.

    I had to modify some of my other code for pulling descriptions, titles, and links – but one of the users of my plugin had already started that for me so I just had to take it the last mile.

    I did some other random cleanup, removed the annoying ^M characters that always seem to get in there when going from windows to linux, and I now call the rss.php include file instead of the depreciated rss-functions.php file. All in all, it was a good day for the Netflix-X2 plugin… maybe some day I will get around to improving the widget configuration! Right now it just hacks together an unordered-list style widget and gives no other options. but, hey… at least it is widgetized!

    Feel free to try the plugin out:
    Download the latest release: http://downloads.wordpress.org/plugin/netflix-x2.1.3.zip

     
  • Vanberge 2:01 am on February 14, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , ,   

    Trials HD “Marathon” Achievement 

    I am one persistent, stubborn, ornery ass son-of-a-bitch.

    Trials HD is an amazingly fun motorcycle game.  Sort of like the old-school “Excitebike” game with a modern twist.  I have really enjoyed playing this game backwards and forwards; enduring literally countless moto-bike spills, endless attempt at completing nearly impossible tracks, and having a blast doing it.  GG Trials HD.

    Enter the “Marathon” Achievement.

    This achievement is ridiculously hard.  You have to complete a 20-track long tournament, straight through, without falling or retrying even once.  It’s so hard, that the developers actually swapped out a couple tracks with a recent update to try to make it even remotely a possibility to attain.  Anyone that has ever played Trials HD knows that it’s a pretty significant challenge just to get through some of the tracks in that game.  Period.  The game is even nice enough to keep track of your retries and falls for you (counted as ‘faults’) – and this is a counter that I have driven up into the hundreds and hundreds.  The mere thought of attempting to conquer TWENTY tracks…. Straight… in one singular tournament without a single fault is just a staggering premise.

    Yet, I found that this was the only achievement I was lacking in this game.  I had to get it.  Had to.

    “It’s impossible – Just give up” – I heard from several different people including my Wife, my Brother (happy birthday apparently), and even my own self.  And really; I was starting to think that was the honest truth.  This is damn near impossible to accomplish.  But I had set my mind to it.  I had to accomplish it.  There was no way I was giving up.

    I started thinking about all the easy achievement points I’ve been getting recently…  Blasting from a 9,000 gamer score to over 15,000 in just a couple of weeks.  All those painfully easy achievement points demanded a penance of blood.  A consequence of my choice to pursue them.  I had to validate my gamer status, even if only to myself.  I felt a need to justify my gamer score, and that this impossibly difficult achievement would do so.  I simply had to get the Marathon achievement.

    I don’t know if I’ve ever worked so hard at something in all of my life.  I have spent an un-trackable amount of time meticulously analyzing and honing skills on all 20 tracks.  It’s so frustrating, because if you fall on the 17th track out of 20 – you still have to start from track 1 in order to get the achievement.  It really seemed like the world did not want me to succeed – on probably my best run ever; my xbox froze once on track 18 while I had 0 falls.  Just a soul crushing event.

    I kept grinding it out.  I kept analyzing the harder parts of each track and forming an exact strategy and pattern for each obstacle, trying to do the same thing every time.  I kept trying.  I kept re-trying.  I don’t have any official stats but I wouldn’t be surprised if I have played these tracks up to a thousand times.  It’s just completely ridiculous.

    But I started to notice it getting easier.  I found myself getting further and further, and more often.  I got to a point where I started to notice myself getting to tracks 15,16,17 pretty regularly without falling.

    And, then, FINALLY… Today, after weeks of pursuing the 40 point “Marathon” achievement – I have succeeded.  I got through a couple close calls, frequently paused and nervously tried to compose myself before moving into the 19th and 20th tracks…  I made it.  I finally survived this rancid despicable ordeal.  I feel amazingly good right now, extremely proud of my hard works’ eventual success.  February 14th lives onto a tri-fecta of celebration.  My beloved brother’s birthday, Valentine’s day, and the day I got the Marathon achievement in Trials HD.

    All I can say, once again, is I am one persistent, stubborn, ornery ass son-of-a-bitch.

     
    • Jeffrey 3:02 am on February 14, 2010 Permalink

      Let me know when you beat COD4 on veteran.

    • Vanberge 8:02 am on February 14, 2010 Permalink

      I would wager that the marathon achievement is more difficult.
      You should try to get it; so that you can give an honest review of wihch is more challenging jja.

    • Vanberge 8:28 am on February 14, 2010 Permalink

      Yeah I’m going to stick to that wager – The developers re-tooled this achievement because nobody could get it.

      They removed some of the harder/expert tracks but that only makes the achievement minutely possible.

      However I am curious – clearly they are both elitists achievements displaying top notch and 99th percentile manhood.

    • vanlandw 11:06 am on February 14, 2010 Permalink

      COD4 is hard but I was horrible at Trials there is no way I would even attempt to try to learn that game.

      I am glad you obtained this achievement last night I saw you got it and was going to send you a “GG” message but you were away and something in my heart told me you would boast about your achievement somewhere.

      Congrats vanberge you are an Xbox master.

      brb

    • Vanberge 11:11 am on February 14, 2010 Permalink

      It is far and away the hardest thing I’ve ever done as it relates to video games…

      I wish I could find some hard statistics – i come across forum posts and stuff that talk about it being like 1%, very rare, etc, etc. But I can’t figure out where to find that stuff.

      Thank you very much Vanlandw I was very proud.

      I celebrated by G whoring in Madden 06.

    • vanlandw 12:21 pm on February 14, 2010 Permalink

      http://www.trueachievements.com/a35343/marathon-achievement.htm

      13,644 tracked gamers have this game (363 have completed it)

      Yeah it’s not “everybody” on XBL but that is a pretty good sample of people obtaining this achievement.

      You have officially slaughtered my gamer score.

    • Jeffrey 5:02 pm on February 14, 2010 Permalink

      Neg. I loath games like Trials. Thats why I need you to beat CoD4 on veteran so we can get the comparison.

    • Vo 5:31 pm on February 14, 2010 Permalink

      Now you need Megaman 9 and 10. I would almost bet you can’t get the achievement for beating the game with out taking any damage. I’ll give you a cookie if you do.

    • Jeffrey 6:13 pm on February 14, 2010 Permalink

      Ha. Vo may have you there. I cannot even imagine doing that, especially on the Xbox. I could not even beat all stages with the Xbox controller.

    • Vanberge 6:48 pm on February 14, 2010 Permalink

      I think Vanbergs could make an honest comparison – he has played both MW and Trials HD…

      What say you vanbergs – If somebody said to you: “Would you rather beat Modern Warfare on Veteran; or get the Marathon achievement in Trials” – which would you consider to be a more realistic venture?

    • vanbergs 3:56 am on February 17, 2010 Permalink

      I promise all of you that Trials HD is a harder game to “complete” than beating any CoD on veteran difficulty. Vanberge should truly be proud of his accomplishment. While I do enjoy Trials quite a bit (it’s very addictive, simplistic gameplay…kinda like Contra on 2 wheels with the pattern memorization and demanding of utmost concentration, where one failure means your death), I definitely don’t like it enough to try and go through what my brother did.

      But you really have to look at the word I chose to place within quotes…”complete.” Simply “beating” Trials HD isn’t really a possibility, because until you get gold medals on all the events, you cannot reach 100% for the individual groupings (tourneys, etc).

      It’s like trying to complete GTA4 with 100% of everything. Sure, you beat the story mode, but how much time and pain are you willing to sacrifice to get the 100%?

      I can tell all of you right now that the hardest game I’ve ever tried to deal with in this type of situation was Contra: Shattered Soldier. The game mocks you and punishes you for continuing. Its requirements to allow the player to actually play all the levels and see all the endings are unfathomably difficult. And, unlike Trials, you can’t really get far enough to see everything the game offers, so as to run through trial & error. If you make it to the final level/boss ONCE, then that’s the first time you get to be there, so you’ll likely die a lot. From there, you can’t continue, because you won’t get the full ending. So then, you have to play another faultless game to make it back to the final level/end boss just to try and memorize the pattern. Then, and only then, do you get some options of trial & error.

      So I will say, yes, the Marathon Achievement is probably more difficult than CoD Veteran, but what happens when a player wants to beat CoD without dying? Is that more than simply “beating” the game? Vanberge literally defeated Trials. He more than ‘beat’ the game, he beat the game designers themselves.

      In the end, it comes down to context and what counts as “completing” I guess…

    • Brian 2:45 pm on March 22, 2010 Permalink

      I just got Marathon last night after months of effort. I beat COD4 on Veteran a week or two after buying the game. With COD4, you’ve got checkpoints to help maintain momentum, it’s just a matter of time until you get the timing and strategy right and get through the whole thing. The Marathon achievement was a lot more frustrating, spine tingling, and satisfying when I finally got it. GT: briguymaine

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