April 20, 2019, at 08:56 AM


January 26, 2013, at 09:06 PM

Xander Mingxuan Zhao

He's been keeping me busy since 3rd January.

December 11, 2012, at 09:52 PM

I’m Not Dead

...just busy. Meanwhile, here's an awesome monster.

March 12, 2012, at 09:56 AM

Wonder Boy In Monster Land Sphinx Questions

This isn't really anything new but I did the research all over again so I thought I may as well put it somewhere. There are three English variants of Wonder Boy in Monster Land - a prototype, a Japanese release with English text that would never show, and a final Western release. There are a bunch of differences between them, but the one that entertains me the most is the editing done to the questions the Sphinx asks you, the hints you get and the answers...

Question: what was for dinner yesterday?

Earlier versions: Question: what did I eat yesterday?

Recently, the sphinx seems to be dieting
No dinner

No changes.

Yesterday, one of our chickens disappeared
Fried chicken

In the prototype it says Chicken and rice. However, while that's a perfectly cromulent thing to have for dinner in the Far East, it's a crazy thing for Westerners who would rather have some KFC or whatever.

Question: what is my hobby?

Or Question: what is my hobby recently? in earlier versions.

Sphinx has many clubs

In the earlier versions, the hint is the more entertaining Recently, the sound of window glass breaking was heard.

Sphinx makes strange noises when it rains

The rain bit always confused me there. In the earlier versions, it's Recently, it's so noisy at night with the solution Karaoke or Karaoke singing. I guess people go to karaoke at night, but they saw fit to erase the Karaoke part because Westerners wouldn't know what it meant? But by 1988, wasn't Karaoke pretty well-known worldwide?

Question: how do I stay in shape?

In earlier versions: Question: what is the method by which I get rid of stress?

Sphinx has new shoes

Earlier versions have the hint Recently, earthquakes occur in the morning. I guess Sphinx is rather heavy-footed?

Sphinx likes green diamonds

That means nothing to anyone outside the US, Japan and Korea. They erased Karaoke but added this? Anyway, in earlier versions the focus was not on fitness but relaxing, and how better to do that than by developing cirrhosis of the liver?

The sphinx often visits our bar
Alcohol (prototype)

Which game have I been playing recently?

Or What is the game that recently I'm most interested in?.

Sphinx took a ride he'll never forget
After Burner

Was I hear that the sphinx easily become sick when riding in a vehicle. The Sphinx seems a bit of a wuss. Was he playing the hydraulic arcade cab, or the less awesome home version? Anyway, perhaps Sega felt it was inappropriate to suggest that one of their games would make you nauseous.

Sphinx has strange glasses
Missile Defense

Was The sphinx often wears strange glasses.

If you can easily get hold of the Japanese text I'd be interested to translate that too (with any variations) to see what other differences there are...

January 03, 2012, at 10:07 PM

Statue In A Restaurant

January 03, 2012, at 09:55 PM

Cats In A Fridge

January 03, 2012, at 09:45 PM

Elephant Paints Better Than I Could

September 21, 2011, at 02:50 PM

PDF Password Brute Force

So I was sent a PDF file which was "protected" by a password, which was supposed to be my date of birth in ddmmyyyy format. But that didn't work, even when I tried various variants of it. I even installed Adobe Reader in case it was some proprietary nonsense (Chrome is my PDF viewer these days). So I emailed them to see what was up.

However, I couldn't help also wondering whether I could brute-force the password. If it was a typo then I would have a search space of 1,000,000,000 possibilities (assuming an extra character as part of the typo, and digits only). If they'd just used someone else's date of birth, the size is a lot lower, more so if I assume a reasonable range of years.

So I came up with this (or rather, an uglier variant):

@echo off
setlocal enabledelayedexpansion
for /l %%y in (1970,1,1990) do for /l %%m in (1,1,12) do for /l %%d in (1,1,31) do (
  set pw=0%%m%%y
  set pw=0%%d!pw:~-6!
  set pw=!pw:~-8!
  pdftotext -q -upw !pw! %1
  if not errorlevel 1 goto :foundit
goto :eof

echo Password is %pw%

It does a bit of unnecessary checking of impossible dates (31st February, for example) but it found the answer for me in about 15s.

(pdftotext is part of xpdf, which is an awesome tool for manipulating PDF files into not-PDF files.)

So I emailed them again to suggest that their security is rubbish, and I didn't need that new file after all... it'd be nice to imagine they'll do something about it, but I don't have much hope...

July 27, 2011, at 10:36 AM

Mini Review: Frogger

This is a sequel of sorts to the original Frogger arcade game from 1981 (and its many ports). Apparently due to legal issues, there weren't many sequels until the late 90s. This version was a little earlier, but was never released (possibly for the same reason) although it is a complete game. Refreshes of early-80s arcade games are often terrible, but Frogger acquits itself remarkably well.


July 26, 2011, at 05:46 PM

Mini Review: Gear Works

I'm a sucker for puzzle games, but the genre's not well-populated on the SMS (apart from Korean MSX conversions). The Game Gear is better suited to the genre so there are more to be found. Gear Works did the rounds on home computers and some consoles back in 1993. What we have here seems to be a conversion from the Game Boy, but is it as interesting as you might hope?


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