Mapping the scroll wheel to your Logitech G600's buttons with AutoHotKey

I've just spent the past day or so wrestling with a stupid shortcoming of Logitech's drivers..... I have a long and sordid history with the head-shaking incompetence of Logitech software, but I keep buying their products anyway because the hardware is so good... and lately, I was actually starting to think that their days of useless drivers were finally behind them.... but then, I bought a G600 mouse, installed the Logitech Game Software drivers, and discovered that not only do they possess no way to map the extra buttons to the scroll wheel (or map the scroll wheel to anything else), but you can't even just map those buttons to F13-F24 to let AutoHotKey handle it. In fact, not only that, but now I can't use F13-F24 on my G11 keyboard EITHER, even though the OLDER drivers (before updating to LGS replaced them too) could!

So that's awful and stupid, and there would be so many ways to fix it. For one thing, you CAN control the scroll wheel via their LUA scripts, but there's no way to make an event keep firing while holding a button down (without piling up an event queue through a bizarre hack involving the keyboard's M keys, or integrating some external LUA libraries), so that's useless for a 'hold to scroll' feature. All they would have to do is add a timed 'still holding' event to their scripting system, or add 'turn the scroll wheel' to their standard macro system -- or even just give us back F13-F24 as spare signals for something like AutoHotKey to pick up!

But anyway, this post isn't (entirely) just to lambast Logitech's engineers -- as it turns out, AutoHotKey is powerful enough to handle things like this without even NEEDING help from Logitech's drivers, thanks to the AHKHID library. AHK scripts are very very tricky to get going though, there's all sorts of flags you need to know to set before it can capture USB HID signals in the background... but like I said, after a day of fussing with tutorials (and some very helpful advice from folks in the #ahk IRC channel), I now have a working script that will turn G11 and G14 on a G600 mouse into 'hold to scrollwheel' buttons! And since it was such an ordeal, I figured I might as well post the script here publicly, where hopefully Google can find it, and I can save someone else some time.

I'm not going to explain how to install AHK scripts, you can find that elsewhere on the internet, but I WILL explain that in order for this to work properly, you should set the affected Gkeys to UNASSIGNED in the LGS software, in order to prevent both drivers from doing something. Also don't forget to unassign it in the g-shift mapping as well! (This script uses g-shift as a button you can hold to speed up the scrolling.)

If you want to change which keys do what, it's as easy as changing the "upHeldNew := " (etc) lines; unfortunately you WILL need to know what bits (of what bytes) each key represents, but you can find that through just logging all the values and watching what changes when you press the keys. (If you don't know what a bitwise-AND is, find someone who does and ask them for help.)

Anyway, for the script itself! This is my first AHK script (and is based 90% on the AHKHID example files), so there might be really stupid things wrong with it, or ways to make it more performant, but at least it works. ;) )

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potential Team Hatoful game: Gone Home?

- It's short (barely over 2 hours)
- Plenty of feels (:P), but not in too downer-y a way
- I played it solo, but I really felt like it would have been the kind of game that would be great to play with people to discuss it as it goes
- Plenty of things to read aloud, even (although there's also some narration spoken aloud by the game)

It's a first-person exploration thing -- like The Stanley Parable, except not insane :P I don't want to say too much about it, because going in blind is kind of the point, but it's about a family.

Part of me doesn't want to spoil (and semi-pirate?) the game by making a video that just walks straight through it, but.... I guess if someone hasn't played it by now, then they won't play it at all anyway... (or maybe we could just do the first few sections and let people finish it themselves?)

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For the sake of googlers:

From what I can tell from my measurements, I think the proper size for a native-resolution iOS 7 iPhone 5 wallpaper is 744x1392 (52 extra pixels on either side horizontally, 128 extra on either side vertically).

But if anyone can get at the files used for Apple's ones and get me a better answer, I'd welcome it! :)

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Is there a Team Hatoful schedule somewhere? Are we doing it this week?

(or, y'know, a more central place to post group questions besides an open LJ post? :P)

Animal Crossing!

So after years of observing them from afar, I finally have an Animal Crossing game. And I've got mixed feelings! I'm only about a week in, but I still want to jot down my impressions...

First of all, there is far, far less to do in the game than I had always had the impression of there being. You basically run around town and click on things, either to collect them or to exchange pleasantries with them. Despite this, though, while I perpetually feel about five minutes away from getting bored, I haven't yet *actually* gotten bored! It's oddly satisfying, maybe because you never know what you'll get from the chores or the neighbours, maybe because the interface of wandering around a little forest is just more pleasant than the disembodied "click the things that you're floating above" that superficially-similar Facebook games would ask of you... it's making me realise that you can sell people on a pretty simple interaction, as long as the experience itself is nice (and maybe as long as the outcome is at least slightly unpredictable)..... after all, that pretty much describes most RPG battle systems when you think about it!

On a similarly love-hate note.... Animal Crossing is one of those games that proceeds according to the real world's clock. And I love the way that paces you; accomplish something great, and they'll say "fantastic; your reward will be ready tomorrow!", and you can turn your system off, and you have something to look forward to. It's cute, and nicely relaxing.... it's nice to have a game that isn't designed to keep you playing. (Well, actually, it IS designed to keep you playing, but in the long term, rather than being designed to keep you from putting it down.) Unfortunately, the OTHER thing that it uses the clock for, is having certain events take place only at certain times, or on certain days...! And that seems absolutely insane. Almost all week I was unable to advance in the game because the store that I needed to access was closed whenever I got off work. I had to play on the subway in order to get into the store and make the next (i.e. nearly first) thing happen. Who thought that would be a good idea? Who could take a concept like "we'll make a game that encourages you to play at a leisurely pace" and then think "and also we'll force you to try and find time in your schedule in order to have fun at the times we designated for you"? (As it happens, there IS an option to make the stores stay open late..... but they cost in-game money to use, and require the storyline to be advanced to a certain point, which you CAN'T advance to without playing by their rules for several days first...!) And for example, right now, I'm aware that my villagers are all participating in the bug-catching contest, and I can't attend unless I stop what I'm doing to go play the game.... and I am just not fond of the idea of having to schedule my days off around playing games that I don't want to play at the moment, which I guess means that there's some content in this game that I'll just never encounter! (Common knowledge on the internet is "mess with your system's calendar to play Animal Crossing how you want", but if I have to resort to things like that to make a game enjoyable, then the game's designers have made a misstep somewhere.)

Another thing is how bizarrely false the whole town feels, because of a choice I don't understand... Basically, the "villagers" in your town don't have jobs (they just mill around 24/7), and the "workers" in your town don't have homes (they are either behind a counter or they stop existing)! This doesn't sound like much, it's certainly how most games work, but when the ENTIRETY of your game is the experience of talking to the characters around you and the feeling of living in this town, it really brings to your attention the bizarre falseness of RPG towns.... when you wonder why Crono's mom doesn't have a bedroom, you think "whatever, I'm sure it's around there somewhere, I have to save the entire planet now"; but when a fellow villager tries to tell you they just spent their life savings buying an eel from you, it just immediately feels strange because you saw this character wandering around ALL DAY, doing nothing.... And by the same token, this game's whole concept is that it encourages you to try and befriend the villagers; they'll notice when you talk to them more often, you can send them presents, or drop by their house and see how they live... and just as you're starting to cozy up to the idea (it really is rather cute, if a bit shallow), you meet the people who run the shops... and they're adorable, and personable, and friendly..... and all completely nonexistent outside of work. I want to visit the kindly old man who runs the museum at home, and talk about something besides his work! I want to visit the family of raccoons who run the shops, and learn about their lives. Hell; they set up your 'mayoral secretary', the character who appears on the game's splash screen, as being your supporter and ally in this new town; she helps you get settled in, asks how you're doing and how you're integrating into the town, tells you about her life and how she regrets always working so hard...... and then, rather abruptly, as soon as you complete the tutorial quest, she just completely refuses to talk to you about anything other than the 'menu options' that she basically exists to present. The 'how are you' option just straight up disappears. I feel snubbed! It's even worse than with the other workers, because UNTIL then she had existed as a character who was apparently my confidant, but then she just runs out of script and turns into an automaton. I'm worried that it sounds like I'm expecting too much, but you have to understand -- this is all that the game has to offer, and it goes out of its way to encourage your suspension of disbelief in the matter, but then it just turns around and says "no, no -- only them. Leave the WORKERS alone." Even though it has a full system for cobbling together semi-dynamic characters -- there are over 200 villager characters in the game -- they couldn't outfit the worker characters with that same system? Or better yet, populate the stores with random villagers instead of predetermined workers, thereby solving BOTH problems at once...?

The last thing I want to mention is the weird implied message of going forth and subduing nature... The two main activities in this game, other than socializing, are to catch bugs and fish. This gets you money, and it also lets you fill up the town's museum whenever you catch something unique, which is one of the only traditional 'completable' goals that the game has. To be fair, the game absolutely never forces you to do either of these; but for lack of much else to do (and since I needed the money to unlock the later town schedule), I went ahead with it.... and it feels a bit strange to be stalking and subduing these creatures that are minding their own business, especially when the game is so flippant about their capture (I'm not sure if I'm more weirded out when it says something cute about the animal trying to escape from my line, or when it playfully mocks them for the fact that they weren't able to evade capture...!) It just feels like that whole attitude that the world 'deserves' to be caught by those who are able to catch it, which.... is a weird and uncomfortable worldview to be projecting onto people who just want to live in a quiet town, maybe even children... You could say I'm reading too much into it, but it's the subtle messages that can sometimes dig deepest, because most people never look at them consciously enough to realise what they're being taught. I dunno.

Anyway, all that to say I'm still having fun despite it all. I made my character a girl, which feels wonderfully natural enough that it probably deserves its own post, and I've been wandering around town, laying out my furniture, designing town songs, talking to the little polygon animal people who I feel 'really get me' (somehow), and giving a wide berth to the one who tells me I should be exercising more. It's oddly compelling, and it's got me thinking about how I would do it differently, and tempted to try and figure out a similarly passive experience.... for all its faults, it's one of those games that tried something wildly different enough that it's chock full of food for thought. (Which gets me thinking about the growing consensus that most of the "great" games of this generation are going to be indies, since they're the only people who are still trying new things besides "shooter", "car racer", "fighting game"... but, that's also topic enough for another post!)

I realise this journal has virtually no actual news about my life any more, since that's all on twitter........ and, so be it. ;)

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So! Today was a weird day worth jotting down. First, I nearly had a panic attack but didn't. Then, I had a panic attack.

It was just a straw-breaking-a-camel's-back thing, nothing too atrocious.... I got fixated on the fact that one of my coworkers keeps a toy gun on his desk at one point, but I talked myself down from that, realising that I was just looking for something to be anxious about.... but then all the requests and the changes and the deadlines came in one after another after another, and after hearing my tone of voice become increasingly shouty despite my desire for it not to be so, I finally just realised that I wasn't hearing what anyone was saying at me, and that my head was starting to go numb, and I stood up, said "I need five minutes", got out my ativan (which I now keep in my bag), and went for a walk in the building while I waited for it to kick in.

Ativan, when you're stressed enough for it to do something, and awake enough not to sleep through it, is apparently pretty weird..... it doesn't do anything at all for about a full half hour, and then BAM, everything feels a little funny, and you no longer give a shit. Even on ativan though, I wasn't any happier about my situation -- it's not that kind of thing. I was just able to give it the kind of "this is so full of shit" treatment that I probably always should, rather than the "this is going to eat me alive and they are all going to watch and laugh as this job deadline somehow strips the meat off my ribs in front of them" that I was getting before I took the ativan. But ultimately, it just made me dizzy, and made me lose about half an hour of time (the time between taking it and feeling it kick in felt like about two minutes, but my clock said it was 30.... which explains why I was wondering why it was taking so long, before it finally kicked in... I mean, I remember everything that happened in the duration, but it "feels" like those things took two minutes to happen, even though I know I couldn't have written that much on twitter in so short a time... but if I hadn't been watching the clock or doing something like writing, I could easily have thought that it WAS just two minutes, which I presumably did for both of my previous experiences with it!)

Anyway I'm hungry now so whatever! My boss wrote me an email at the end of the day to ask how I was, and I'm glad to say I was pretty frank in answering; I complained about the project management, and explained that the anxiety has driven me to meds, but that I'm not interested in a job that I have to be medicated to put up with, and that I'd rather be working for myself, but I'd happily stay IF I were able, etc. etc... I dunno, we'll see. FOOD TIME

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Slept in again…kept thinking I was going to get up sooner, but just kept slipping back into sleep every time. Weird how strict that timer is

Had some weird dreams—that my computer caught a virus because I left it running unattended over night (control freak much? :P)…

…that I accidentally drove through mob territory while I was on a road trip, and now they were chasing me down…

but I had one GOOD dream, about the ecstasy of letting go when a roller coaster hurls you earthward in freefall…

trusting the bar in your lap, and just becoming a projectile, one of the universe's glorious curving arcs…

part of it was just the joy of weightlessness (which made me, in the dream, resolve to buy an Oculus Rift so I could reproduce it at home!)

but part of it was abandoning myself to the feeling of surrender, which is something I just can't do…

I think that's why I was so miserable the one time I tried pot, because I spent the whole night struggling to hold on with a weakened grip…

but anytime something successfully makes me let go (a roller coaster, a concert, a friend holding me in just the right way) it's such a rush

I've always intended to try and be more that way in my daily life, but it's so impossible to stare down the entire human race and say "okay"

I'm growing more and more tempted to try transitioning to anxiety meds… doubly so since I remembered that Ativan helps my sleep…

The stuff you can safely take on a daily regimen has WAY more side-effects, though—ESPECIALLY during the two-week adjustment period…

and there's several different meds to try, none of which might work, so that's literally months of side-effects to float through…

I don't have the nerve to go through it while I'm trying to hold down an already-stressful job (which is another reason I wanted to quit…)


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I'm gonna try and keep this brief so it doesn't defeat its own purpose.... so my boss said he's in support of me trying to make money at my own projects on my own time, and agreed that we'll phase into the four-day week over the next little while. (That's a bit vaguer than I would have hoped, but I won't let it slide.) So I started thinking about what makes me so uncomfortable about this job... and beyond just general social anxiety, it's mostly the way their total and utter lack of understanding their own schedules leaves me worrying that I'm going to be stuck unable to get any sleep because of how they've quadruple-booked me....

and then it hit me, that the one flaw with this argument, is the assumption that I have to do whatever they tell me. I very regularly wind up staying late to finish things -- I could stand here and write stammering paragraphs about the totally arbitrary and unproductive random task switches the project managers (managerS!) have me do to try and make themselves feel productive, while of course never relenting on their original demands that I need to have spent "a full day" on their project, regardless of each other or their own subsequent pre-empting of that demand.... But the fact is, as much as I feel like project scheduling meetings are people sitting around debating over how heavy to make the collar they're screwing my neck to the wall with, like.... they aren't standing on either side of my chair with weapons. (They do often stand on either side of my chair, but, they've usually gone home by the time my workday is over :P) I can say "I didn't get it done" and get up and leave -- I can stop enabling their random requests. I'm just so programmed to go "don't disappoint the authority figure, don't disappoint the authority figure, DON'T DISAPPOINT THE AUTHORITY FIGURE" to myself that I've never bothered questioning the validity of their authority.... here I am giving myself sleep deprivation -- and making myself a sweaty anxious wreck by living in fear of sleep deprivation -- for fear of losing a job THAT I'M TRYING TO QUIT!

And that's the significant thing! I'm just so conditioned to see myself as a passenger in my own life..... I've spent all this time and energy being mad at my job.... when I've completely failed to play any role in making my job be what it should be! I've just been silently fuming and wishing for it to become something else, and making plans to leave it entirely, because the thought of making plans to change it seemed like making plans to fly to work like Superman; it's not a thing that happens. Except of course that for normal people, it is. x_X

Anyway, I'm going to get going, I do want to try getting in earlier more consistently.... it's just been a weird wakeup call to understand that I'm one of the people in my life, and that failing to choose is still actively making choices, just not necessarily the choices you'd like to be making..... envisioning myself as a paralyzed passenger child surrounded by the adults who make the decisions, however automatic and intuitive it is, is completely delusional, and only makes it harder for other people to interact with me, because they're seeing an adult human behaving strangely, where I only see a pair of floating eyes surrounded by scripted events that push it around like an on-rails shooter....


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So, this post is technically two days premature, but, since I'll be at work on monday, well, for all intents and purposes....

I'm thirty!

I honestly keep having to triple-check what year it is, because I'd swear I'm only late-twenty-something, but..... nope, the big three-oh. Three decades safely out of the way.

For the most part, I don't think I'm as upset as most people stereotypically are about this milestone -- for most of my life, I've only wanted to be older, and it's still largely true...! Every year of my life I've come more and more into my own, and while I'm starting to be happy with where I am, there's definitely still a ways to go.... My body is starting to not be as resilient as it once was (I never would have described it as such in the past, but it's even less so now!), but it's still at the point where I can feel good if I take care of it (be conscientious with food, eating, stress...) I definitely need to find time to do more exercising, but, well, that ties into my next point.

The only part of this milestone that I'm not happy about is where I stand on a sense of accomplishment! I thought I would be further on the road to proving myself and having some kind of freedom to pursue interesting projects by now.... but work has sucked up more and more of my time, and more importantly, energy. My projects are actually better than ever -- as I get better at managing my anxiety, I'm actually becoming a better and better programmer and problem solver, I can feel myself comfortably grasping problems that used to panic me... and I'm actually better than ever at plugging away at things without panicking and jumping ship for something impossibly ambitious, as I used to do... :P But regardless, even simple projects just take such an absurd amount of time, when I'm squeezing them into weekends, while also trying to relax from the week, and catch up on chores, and (at least intending to) do something outside the home now and then... And the job that I'm giving up this time for is becoming consistently less and less satisfying -- I've gone to a position of being made to constantly play catch-up on fixing a half-dozen outsourced projects, and even when I DO occasionally have a project I directly control, I have so little time left for it that I'm made to rush it out half-finished just to be able to get home not too late...

Honestly, I can't complain too much -- the pay is pretty good, it's still a reasonably good opportunity to learn skills on the job (though less and less with every passing month)... the overtime isn't as bad as it used to be, and they're pretty accommodating of my quirks. In today's economy, it's a hard deal to say no to.

But honestly, I'm a good programmer -- a creative programmer -- I know I could be making money other ways..... I'm still young, single, I've got like no expenses, and a year's salary sitting in my bank account (ON TOP of what I've paid into my retirement, and paid off on my home). Other than potentially getting my home completely paid off in a few more years, I'm never going to be in a better position to take chances business-wise.... I've got a reasonably-solid bread-and-butter plan (sell games to advertisers, which there's always a market for), and a huge glut of secondary plans that I'm dying to discover the feasibility of (or at least say that I've done, even if there's no money in it)....

Gah, I'm sorry, this turned into a big rant about my job :) But, it's kind of the lynchpin of everything, from what I can see! All of the ways that I want to improve my life (more exercise, more time with friends, more creative expression) require more free time -- or at least more-FLEXIBLE free time! Part of me is worried that I'm just looking for excuses not to improve my life until some future goal is taken care of -- something I know I've been guilty of in the past -- but the only reliable free time I have lately is on weekends, and there's just too much to squeeze it all in... If I had a work-from-home schedule that I could determine myself, I could get up, do some work, go out for a walk/jog, do some work, get some chores done, and relax in the evenings... (This all comes down to how many hours of work a week it would take to make a living, of course...)

Anyway! The more I read from people on twitter and tumblr, the more I realise that life is too short and too valuable to settle without even taking a stab at making a name for yourself.... I don't want to be famous, just to have the freedom to be creative, get some ideas out.... and this job is getting less and less worth holding onto. (Besides the fact that it's my FIRST JOB -- even if I were to come back to office work, I don't even know what the rest of the market would be like...! I mean, I've heard horror stories about programming jobs, but... this is a reasonably good city for this kind of work, there must be other places that wouldn't torment their workers...)

Anyway, yeah! I guess this really is mostly about work :) My body's got some wear and tear but it's manageable.... my anxiety still causes me stress, but it's leagues better than it's ever been.... my identity is starting to take shape, though I'm still shy about showing it.... with a streak of gray in my hair and some fashionable glasses, I'm prettier than I've ever been.<3 The only thing bothering me is, I've probably got all kinds of opportunities to make my life more my own (instead of it having to mostly be my employers'), and I just need the time, and the nerve, to go through with it! I've only got a limited number of decades to turn these spinny thoughts into something concrete that people can play with, and anything left at the end just vanishes, never being seen... so there's no good reason that should keep me from spending my time doing that!

I'm sorry, I'm repeating myself. :) It's just been... so frustrating, and so scary. I want to move forward with this, but am paralysed by time, and the fear of telling my boss that I want to leave..... the sane money is on testing the water BEFORE quitting... so I'm holding my tongue, even though I would SO like to just get away from that chaotic mess of bureaucratic shortsightedness. So the whole thing has me a little pent-up.... I have so many daydreams that end in telling them I'm leaving. Ah well. Maybe if I were working on a game instead of writing this post... ;)

Anyway! I'm a thirty-something! Whoa. :) I've got more possibilities in front of me now than I ever thought I'd have -- but yet less to my name than I expected.... hopefully this will be the decade where that changes? ;)

Thank you everyone for putting up with me all these years -- hopefully there will be some return on your investment soon. ;)