4/14/15

The PSP Archive

So when talking about archiving things for the PSP, the main problem lies in how large PSP games are (they range from ~40MiB to ~2.5GiB). There are a couple archive formats that PSP custom firmware can use without any major issues most of the time, but at the moment the best standard is up in the air.

- iso format: The uncompressed release. All cfw should be able to use it just fine, but it tosses all file space to the wind.
- cso format: The defacto standard for the PSP since forever. Similar with iso format, all cfw should be able to use it just fine.
- jso format: A rather unknown and not exactly amazing format that next to nobody uses. It is worse than cso in terms of compression ratio.
- zso format: A fairly recent addition to the PRO cfw (added Dec 2014) that is supposedly slightly better than cso in both compression and usage speed.
- dax format: Just as zso is for PRO cfw, dax support was added to ME/LME cfw in Dec 2014. Similarly, faster and smaller than cso. Has the best compression ratio out of the formats above.

Dax format seems to be the best, but it's only been added to the ME/LME cfw and so PRO cfw users are somewhat out of luck there. Having just an archive of dax files is fine, but I find that converting to dax format is not particularly hard or tedious to me, thus I tend to be slightly more zealous in saving file space. When archiving, 7zipped iso files has the highest file compression in comparison to 7zipping any of the PSP compression formats (compressing compressed files never seems to work), and is my method of choice.

Now with all of the compression out of the way, there are other things that can be done to squeeze out some more file space, but pretty much requires UMDgen and may not produce working isos. Within each PSP iso, there is an UPDATE folder that has some files that, more often than not, are completely useless to the normal PSP user. UMDgen has both an "optimize" and "find dummy files" functions to resize those supposedly unneeded files to small dummy files, generally saving ~30-40MiBs per iso. Out of the 45-ish isos I tested, 9 games failed to run after optimizing, so it's probably best to give a quick check before archiving "optimized" isos.

Optimizing each iso ends up being really tedious to extract a clean iso from my archive, optimizing, saving new dax, testing, rearchiving. All in all, it saves very little (32 different games optimized saved a little under 1GiB), and so opting out of optimizing isn't always a bad idea. Of course, some games might have some substantial savings, while others don't. So when you have hope, have at it, otherwise you don't have to fret too much  because you aren't saving enough to really fit another 3-4 games or anything anyways.

4/7/15

The PSP Phoenix

So, it has been a rather long while since I made a blog post. Partially because I wanted to swap my blog over to jurassicplayer.github.io, and partially because I've just dumped a ton of my time into a sink grabbing some quality of life stuff. Recently, that also entailed getting a rather old and somewhat busted PSP1000. A couple housing cracks here and there, no joystick, button issues, and overall just grime that had caked up inside the console.

After merging my PSP with a second PSP that my brother recently bought, having believed that it was pretty much dead, we ended up with one fairly fantastic PSP and one less than great PSP. Fortunately, the PSP we thought was dead actually wasn't and now there were two working PSPs that work to some extent.

To keep things fairly easy to return and redo in the event that all hell breaks loose on my PSP, I'm going to split up the topic of the PSP into a couple separate posts so that each post can be focused on a specific portion (such as plugins, how to archive, etc.).

In no particular order, I'm going to cover:
- Plugins
- CFW
- Archiving
- Homebrew
- Emulators
- Popsloader
- Other stuff (if I find something)

12/30/14

Revisiting Art Programs 2014

So it has been a rather long year and sometimes stuff gets updated. To keep with that trend, I'm going to update my original opinions on the art programs that I tried out over a year ago. This time, hopefully with some place markers to see how much will get updated next year (because I can't tell how far FireAlpaca has gotten since I last tried it...just a version number without a date). The list this time will also have a couple of extra programs dumped in because why not.

- Krita
- Gimp
- Paint.NET
- Pinta
- MSPaint
- OpenCanvas
- PaintTool SAI
- MyPaint
- FireAlpaca
- AzPainter

Following the previous post on the matter, the images shown are just sketches and any colors that are added were just because I felt like it. For the most part, I tried to stick with Windows on this run because supposedly everything is always worse on Windows (from personal experience) which means I might have more stuff I can bitch about. Some of these programs CAN run under wine or crossover, but the listed supported OSes are the ones supported natively.

Krita (Linux/Windows):
What better program to start off with than the premier artwork studio for the linux world. As of this post, the current Windows version is 2.8.3 and honestly I only did the most basic of things with krita, but it does have the ability to select sections, crop, cut, apply filters, etc. In short, it's still pretty much a mixture between a standard painting application with some of the finer pieces of GIMP included. Probably most of the actual drawing artwork can be done with just Krita and maybe even be used to completely finish images, or just add those finishing touches in GIMP. There was some noticeable lag with some of the brushes, though whether by design or not, I don't know. While it didn't hinder my drawing, it was a problem while filling in some white background. Possibly it might just be a Windows only bug. Drawing in Krita doesn't feel bad, but there are other alternatives that just feel better, and that is what I'm judging on this time around.

FireAlpaca (Windows/Mac):
FireAlpaca has been one of those programs that I have no idea if it's alive or not. As of this post, the current version is 1.1.12. Everything feels pretty much the same as it was before, with no changes to the interface as far as I can tell. Drawing feels smoother than in krita despite the relatively small repertoire of brushes. It has some basic selection tools and a rather nifty helping tool for perspective planes, but aside from that, it's pretty bare bones as far as image editing is concerned. As a drawing application though, it fits the bill and the UI lends itself to being uncluttered which makes usage convenient.

Paint.NET (Windows):
As one of the normal recommends by various people in the internets, I decided to add it to the list just to make the list a little longer. Current version at the time of this post is version 4.0.5. At first, the image tabs really put me off balance since it takes a rather unique approach to thumb-nailing them, but after some thought, I realized that it at least had some reasoning behind it. Paint.NET is slightly less of a drawing application and more of an image application. Brushes are absent, but the staple image editor functions are available with filters, effects, color correction, etc. It also lacks pressure sensitivity which pretty much makes it pointless to use with a tablet, thus it really shouldn't be in this list but I'm putting it in anyways. All in all, it has more features than most of the drawing oriented apps, as expected, but not really enough that I would toss GIMP aside to use Paint.NET. In terms of image editing, it's not the worst but as before, it also isn't the best.

Pinta (Linux/Windows/Mac):
Pinta is more or less modeled after Paint.NET and thus it has a large number of similarities with Paint.NET in being much more image editor heavy rather than art creation heavy. As of this post, it is version 1.5. Once again there is little use for a tablet with this program, but thanks to having a model to take from, most if not all of the same filters, effects, color correction tools, etc. are readily available. In terms of the interface itself, I like the capabilities that Pinta provides where the windows can be put as side panels, tabs, separate windows, and even tabs alongside the actual canvas. It also extendable with add ins which is a definite plus...but in terms of actual plugins made for Pinta...well they are lacking. It's better than Paint.NET at being Paint.NET, but aside from the rather flexible UI, I can't say I would toss GIMP away for Pinta either.

MSPaint (Windows):
So yet another totally not relevant image editor that lengthens this post. The infamous MSPaint that only those who want to troll or don't know any better use for their image editing. Bundled with Windows 7, I have no idea what version it's at internally, not that it really matters. It's the most basic of basic image editors with no support for layers, filters, effects, any semblance of decent selection, or any of the useful features an image editor should have. It has no pressure support, and overall I just don't like it with it's large, clunky interface. If there were something I could praise, it would be that the program at least doesn't seem buggy. But it really doesn't provide much for artwork creation aside from it's limited brush set and subpar brush engine that really lends itself to creating strange dark spots. Despite all of my hatred of MSPaint, it isn't unheard of to see some people use MSPaint to make some fantastic works of art. While I myself will never come to like MSPaint, I can't hate the people who manage to make really neat artwork using MSPaint.

GIMP (Linux/Windows/Mac):
So we come to one of the few major feature-full image editors available for linux. A variety of people claim that GIMP is about the equivalent of Photoshop (or a subpar version of photoshop), but since I have never understood Photoshop, I can't really claim whether one is better than the other for any specific reason. The version is currently 2.8.14. GIMP is pretty extensible with plugins, brushes, and it allows for numerous custom additions that the community has taken advantage of and thus there is a gallery of features available through plugins. In terms of actual artwork, it's meh. A little fiddly to get things started, as I had to go to Edit > Input Devices and change the mode of my tablet stuff to screen/window before I could get the pressure sensitivity to work well. Surprisingly enough, there is an input lag bug due to libcairo and Gimp's ruler (#736411) which can be worked around by hiding the rulers that are normally shown by default. The brush engine in GIMP isn't spectacular, but it gets the job done and with a little tweaking, I'm sure the pressure sensitivity could be a lot better. With just stock settings, it feels kind of light for the amount of pressure I'm exerting, but otherwise it's not particularly bad.

OpenCanvas (Windows):
This program is one that gets fairly regular updates throughout the year and honestly has some pretty compelling features. The current version as of this post is version 6.0.05. Aside from the basic needs of artwork creation, there are also some of the finer image editing features like filters, transformations, and perspective rulers. They also have a spectacular event function that can record and play back your entire drawing so that you or others can review the process up to the final product directly from oC. The provided brushes are not completely trash or anything, but I do find them to be somewhat lacking in comparison to some other programs. Interface-wise, it's clean and reasonable enough to maneuver through, though the way it looks feels dated. As a plus, the windows do have edge snapping, so aligning windows side-by-side is a snap and they all have shortcut keys bound to them. oC covers most of the bases that a lame artist such as myself could want, as I would expect from a paid program, but I feel like the brush is a little heavier than what I want.

MyPaint (Linux/Windows/Mac):
Previously this was my favorite art program for linux and so I had some decent hopes for it on Windows despite knowing that there would definitely be bugs. Updates are not lightning fast and the current version is 1.1.0. Somehow the UI had a little bit of a revamp since the last time I tried the Windows version, but it was also broken. Moving around some of the windows was impossible, and I had to compromise with tabs. This isn't present in the linux version though and honestly my recent try of MyPaint on linux was commendable. It has relatively little extras like a scratchpad and some layer blending modes, and for the most part is a plain and simple drawing application. If anything, I would consider MyPaint in the better half of this entire list despite it's lack of the finer image editing features like a selection tool. This does make corrections a slight hassle if you aren't accustomed to reworking your stuff, but in a sense, it does provide a closer experience to the pen and paper.

PaintTool SAI (Windows):
Once again, we come around to PaintTool Sai and the original reason why I wanted to give everything a second shot. It was surprisingly updated within this past year to version 1.2.0, but as far as I can tell, nothing has really changed at all. Supposedly there is also another version in development that is available for download. That was updated earlier than 1.2.0, so it's technically older going purely by the date, but it's apparently a complete revamp of SAI. At this point, I'm fairly used to the interface despite it being an older styled UI unlike the windowed UIs that a lot of other programs tend towards. There is something about the brush engine that just feels nice about SAI and thus even after a year of much derping, I still enjoy drawing on SAI. Of course, I still gripe about SAI not being on linux, but it isn't like that is going to change anything.

AzPainter (Linux):
The final program on our list unless I magically find another one. Currently at version 1.0.5 as of this post. It has a somewhat slightly convoluted past of originally being a Windows only program, getting reworked from the ground up as AzPainter2, and then getting ported to Linux as AzPainter again, not to mention that there is a companion program called AzDrawing which is for the linework/inking...Luckily enough, the linux AzPainter is the latest and greatest from Azel (the developer) since he swapped to linux fulltime. If I were to be completely honest, I hate how everything looks because it's all so grey and hellishly old looking. I would describe the brush engine as...heavy...really heavy. So heavy that I literally crank the the opacity to 20% when I use a brush and even then, it's pretty solid. Some slight setup is needed to get everything ready for single handed tablet use (need to right click on eraser, set as registered brush, and then change device settings to set button 3 to use registered brush). You can conveniently setup shortcuts to everything available and so I set all of the windows to qwertasdf to be able to toggle them on/off. I noticed that a certain times, the mouse seemed to lag for a little bit (but possibly that could be attributed to my linux setup since you never know with linux). It has some nice filter options, the ability to align to certain patterns (grids, or a focal point for those speed lines, etc.), mirror view, an image window (for if you are copying from a reference), a rather fancy select tool, and some other really nice features. I didn't find any rotation or transformation tools (for selections), which is kind of disappointing. My major gripe is that there isn't a brush outline that shows how large the brush is, but otherwise it's a pretty good drawing application whether using the new linux version or the finalized windows version (AzPainter2).

And with that, my current top picks still stick to the past choices of MyPaint and PaintTool Sai, but AzPainter probably follows right behind that. Mostly it's because drawing with AzPainter vs MyPaint just feels harder to draw what I want and the lack of an indicator that drop AzPainter out of my favor.

11/10/14

If I Used Firefox

So I somewhat follow the Linux Action Show because at some point I started following it as a convenient source for possibly important linux news, but that is completely besides the point. I'm only bringing that up because they are having a firefox challenge sort of thing where they try to live in Firefox for a week. Today's post is just a what-if situation where I would have to use firefox. Granted, there are probably tons of people who use firefox without a problem...so I'm ignoring those people.

Firefox itself doesn't really surprise me or anything, it's just a simple web browser with the normal features that I'd expect. Rather, I went exploring for some extensions and userscripts to make everything cooler for the generic me. Most of the stuff I came across were extremely limited and so the list was wonderfully short.

Extensions:

- Adblock Plus: Well this one was a given. Obvious reasons are obvious.
- Ank Pixiv Tool: A rather nice one-click button that you can use to download pixiv images, though it doesn't exactly click together with the userscripts I also found and thought worked well. For the unenhanced pixiv experience though, this makes downloads simpler, even if only by a smidgen.
- Download Status Bar: This really isn't something needed or anything, but I'm a chrome/chromium user...I'm used to it.
- DuckDuckGo Plus: For a more private search...though if you are really gunning for privacy, you need a combination of things rather than just a search engine that doesn't save searches. On the other hand, !bangs are great if you remember to use them.
- FireGestures: A convenience thing so I'm not dragging my mouse all over the scre- OH WAIT...
- Greasemonkey: The gateway to userscripts. It's definitely a requirement for any and all userscripts.
- PDF Viewer: It's a jealousy thing. Chrome has it, so Firefox should too.
- SoundCloud Downloader - Technowise: On the rare occasion...some things just HAVE to be in my possession.
- TinEye Reverse Image Search: Sometimes it's just too much effort to use Google's image search when this extension has a right click context menu option.

Userscripts:

- Get Random Anime: It adds a link to the top of any myanimelist anime list and returns a random anime that isn't on said list. It's uses are limited, but at least it could waste some time if need be.
- Pixiv++: Adds some rather nifty features that make browsing Pixiv even more unbearably hard to stop.
- Manga OnlineViewer: Honestly this reminds me of android manga readers. It has the standard load all pages in one page, but it also has a great toggle-able thumbnail filmstrip on the bottom to jump to any page in the chapter.
- Manga Loader: If Manga OnlineViewer were considered feature-full, Manga Loader would be the opposite spectrum and be next to feature-less. It loads up the pictures in a no-frills page, with a little more speed than the previous one does.

Unfortunately, there really isn't very many anime/manga related userscripts or extensions. Of course, everything should have equivalents in Chrome, though AllMangasReader is still by far the best way I have found to manage my manga. Some things that were skipped were Rikaichan and NyaaTorrents Search. I don't have a real reason for skipping them aside from just not really using them personally.

9/24/14

A Short Lived Gentoo

Around the beginning of the month, I decided I would take a jump and try to gentoo it up. After a day of derping around, I gave up on it for the time being, so don't expect some amazing success story where my laptop became razor fast.

A lot of the day was spend doing partitioning and copying magics to re-organize my partitions and split my single arch partition into a root and home partition to share with my gentoo install. This included a fair amount of resizing and moving partitions as well, so much time was wasted.

Installing gentoo itself is actually not really hard, somewhat time-consuming, but nothing that would take more than a day. Customizing the kernel was probably the part that took the longest because there are quite a few options, most of which I have no idea what they deal with or the major differences that would occur by using one over the other. Compiling only took around 10-15 minutes and at worst, installing the base system would probably take just an hour to a couple of hours. The REAL grind is what comes after installing the base...at which point I gave up. I wanted to be somewhat lazy and install wicd because I couldn't trust myself to remember how to manually set up internet connections.

This was a terrible decision. From base, I needed another 165 different packages and all of them had to be compiled :/...So after many more hours of compiling, I finally exited the liveDVD I was using (yes, I used the liveDVD instead of the minimal liveCD) and rebooted to my brand new gentoo install. Apparently I was still missing dbus and so I couldn't launch wicd. At this point most of the day was used on the install and thus I decided to give up on it for the time being. The gentoo install is still on my hard drive, but nothing is going to happen to it for a while.

9/3/14

The Mobile MAL

During the many hard times that may occur over the span of your anime otaku life, sometimes internet fails and leaves your tracking a terrible mess. Of course, this is under the expectation that even without internet, you are still watching anime because something so insignificant as internet obviously can't inhibit anime consumption. So, for the most part, this is under the assumption that for whatever reason, your computer can't be used to keep a history of your escapades or you just really want to keep your list bleeding edge despite nobody caring. With this assumption in mind, the goal is the most convenient and painless way to keep your list updated on minimal internets, aka around 50 kbps aka 6.25 kB/s or slightly less. This speed was picked because t-mobile has a bunch of asshats who believe in throttling unlimited data after reaching some bullshit arbitrary limit. It's not fucking unlimited if you are going to put a limit on it.

So that brings us to the wonderful MAL clients available to us for android because I don't have or want iOS stuff (aside from my ipods). As with many projects related towards anime fandom, they either die really really quickly or die slow deaths, examples will be Herro and MAL respectively. There was no reason to point out any examples, but I did anyways. Anyways, there are a number of MAL clients and this will probably end up being similar to the manga viewer post. Once again, I'll state what I'm planning on judging this time as well. Primarily interface will be rather important, as well as speed. While extra features are definitely a plus, having a MAL client do the basic shit is essential, which includes updating your anime/manga list with additions, removals, scores, changing statuses, and giving some info about anime. To make things more confusing, we will be going in reverse order.

The list of android MAL clients I'm looking at:
- Atarashii!
- Pocket MAL Client
- MAL for Android 2
- Momo MAL
- MALO

MALO: At some point, I'm sure someone thought this was a good idea. Stick MAL with an ugly UFO icon that probably isn't a UFO icon and give it the most basic of navigation. The top has your lists that I'm sure everyone is familiar with, the Watching, Completed, On-Hold, Dropped, Plan to Watch. The bottom of the screen has a simple toggle between anime and manga lists. There is no sliding, everything is a tap to navigate. Aside from that, you have a bar that allows you to refresh/sync your lists, search for anime in your list, or search for anime not in your list. The menu button gives you the option of settings (of which there are 2...one to say if you want your manga list or your anime list first, and the other to toggle images), a broken stats button, and the option to log out of your MAL account. Unfortunately, this is where the review ends, because it still hasn't loaded my lists... In short, it's buggy at best, the UI is old, and shit just doesn't work on the throttled interwebz available to my phone at the moment. Giving this one a rank would be like giving last place 3rd. There is nothing worse than this one. Skip it and move on.

Momo MAL: So this one promises Momo from ToLOVERu which is great, because who doesn't like Momo? She's like the only one actively trying to get with Mr. Impotent and get the anime moving somewhere. Unfortunately, aside from the great icon choice and some slight jabs with shit like "Momo is sad!!", this app doesn't load my list either. It tries for a second or two before it gives up, which isn't nearly enough time to get the list on slow internet. The UI itself isn't too bad either. There is a single sidebar that can bring you to your bullshit stats, Anime list, Manga list, search, and synchronize. Sure the preferences aren't actually preferences but instead is just the option to logout or Rate app/Like facebook page and the About page, but w/e just label shit preferences anyways. If it had anything really going for it, it would be that the list interface is a nice sliding one so you can swipe across the screen to go between your Watching, Completed, etc. In this case, it's better than MALO so it gets a 4/10.

MAL for Android 2: Don't ask what happened to the first one, that died many moons ago. This client sports an ugly glossed icon and keeps things simple. There are no side bars at all and the menu button only provides you with the option to donate. No, you can't log out. There is the main bar at the top which provides the basic toggle for anime or manga list, sync/refresh, search, and the menu button. The rest is dedicated to your media list, with a cropped landscape image of the portait anime poster fitting 6 series per screen. On top of those are a simple tinted overlay that has the title and the watching count or score if it's in completed. Tapping on an anime brings up the full poster, you can change all of the basics, some stats about the anime, and a summary on the bottom. The main bar also changes to give you a direct link that you can open in a browser of your choice and the option to remove the anime from the list. Aside from everything being colored in MAL blue, it's not all that bad. It has some hickups with my snailweb and thus some of the images don't load fully, but it works. All in all, it's barely passable with a 5/10. Honestly if your internet isn't snailnet, Momo MAL might be a better choice though because if it weren't for that lacking bit about having really shit tier internet, it would probably be better than this one.

Pocket MAL Client: This is where things start to pick up in the UI deparment. Almost everything about this UI has a bit of sliding. The left sidebar is the navi for Watching, Completed, etc. and it even shows the number in each list along with shareable "how many days I watched anime" stat. The right sidebar has a toggle for anime or manga, the recently watched page that includes stuff added to plan to watch, and a user search. Pulling down brings out a text filter that narrows down your current list based on what is currently in the text field, and it works wonderfully. The very top bar has the generic refresh/sync, search, and menu button. The settings are actually decent settings that have a use, such as syncing at application start, showing tags, pop ups after doing certain actions (changing score, status, progress, etc.), and the godsend auto date which sets the start and finish dates for you. The list view is also fantastic and seems to employ a mix of caching loaded images and lazy loading images as needed. So stuff you frequently scroll through are already cached on your phone, and stuff that you don't see as often will pull as needed. It makes for a really nice look even without good internet. Each series is put on a card with 3 cards per screen that shows the anime poster, title, status of the anime, type (OVA, ONA, TV, etc.), your score, and your progress. Long-pressing a card puts a +1 progress button over the poster, otherwise there is a ellipsis menu button on each card that you can use. Selecting an anime brings up all of the info in a nice layout with pretty much everything you could want to access on top and the finer anime details below. You can set score, progress, dates, status, and even tags. Aside from the right sidebar (which has a gap between the anime/manga toggle and the other menu options...probably on purpose...but in general there is just something I don't feel is right with having the right menu bar, it's way beyond personal preferences here though), everything is really well done and so this app deserves a 9/10.

Atarashii!: One of the newer clients that does a couple things I find rather convenient even though their uses are severely limited without some better internet. Luckily, they all fall under pluses and thus it's not like I'm going to judge extra features under the same bullshit internet restriction that I have. This client follows a similar UI to MAL, showing 4 posters per screen with no wasted space and overlayed with the title, a menu button, and the current progress. The menu buttons give +1 progress and mark as completed options. Follows the same sort of thing as Pocket MAL with respect to poster cache management which is nice and has a simple slide to swap between manga and anime lists which is REALLY nice. A single button on the top bar is your navigation for Watched, Completed, etc. and is followed with a search button for MAL and a menu button that provides sync, logout, about, and settings. The settings provided are nice and deal specifically with how the app displays information to you and when to sync. Probably the best setting is the ability to toggle if the list should be shown with covers OR a traditional list view with cropped posters and it can fit 7 series per screen. Choosing a series shows things completely opposite to Pocket MAL, and instead of all the interactable things first, it's all of the information about the series first. It also doesn't have the finer details of the anime series (not that they matter too much...but some stuff like genre would have been neat). Here is where the judging stops, and I give a rating of 9/10. Fortunately, that is not all there is to Atarashii, as it has a sidebar that can bring up a profile page, your lists, friends, Top Rated, Most Popular, Just Added, and Upcoming series. The latter features are fantastic for finding new series to add and follow. It joins together a number of things into a single experience so you don't have to go searching around for the latest chart or anything.

So after another steel wall of solid text, we come to the conclusion of which MAL client is better. Between Atarashii and Pocket MAL, it's really sort of a toss up of preferences. As just a MAL client, Pocket MAL is spectacular and covers pretty much everything that you can do in MAL with your lists with a great UI and Auto Date. For something that can give you a fairly complete experience from season to season, Atarashii can cover you with it's pages for the upcoming anime and even stuff you might want to check out. Now all we need is for the two clients to combine together to pierce the heavens and have an application that looks fucking amazing, can do everything you can do with MAL for series editing, AND provide shit from start to finish. For myself, I will be sticking with Atarashii since my current flow relies mainly on the computer for starting series and so having the ability to search for new series that strike my fancy and add those to my list while on the go trumps having Auto Date in my case.

- Edit 09/04/24 -
I thought I would add one more to the list because it's going to be short. The application is called "AnimeTrakr" and it has a rather nice UI along with the ability to look at the running anime. There are some things that make keeping up-to-date really nice with screencaps of episodes and things. The only really problem is that those features apparently cost money and as far as I can tell, there isn't any MAL sync in the free version.

9/2/14

Tracking Anime Exploits

The number of anime series to date is a vast and constantly expanding endpoint, thanks to there being a fairly large list of new series added each season. Sometimes it's not always easy to remember that horribly obscure anime that had such a generic plot that it was completely unmemorable from any of the other similarly dull anime. Sure there are people that may find said series to be the grand tier of all anime and you are insane for not remembering any of it, but w/e I don't remember anything important from KoiChoco or Fortune Arterial besides one having an election at the end and the other having a vampire. Unless your memory is outstanding, remembering specific anime and even what episodes you are currently on for the duller anime might not be the easiest thing to do. Thus the internet has come up with some rather shitty sites that almost cover your needs of tracking what episodes you are on, what stuff you have already watched, and other useless stats that can be used to formulate just how shut-in you are. For anyone already into anime, this stuff is pretty much old hat and you probably already have an account in one or all of the websites that I'm going to list.

AniDB: This website is kind of ugly, though can be somewhat fixed with some css magic. It's database of anime knows no bounds and it's got some nice extra details about the releases out in the wild and wonderful tags. Aside from all of the dead or nonexistant clients, and zero dealings with manga, it's probably at the top of the list providing a bunch of information on any series. The fact that there are no well maintained clients for aniDB kind of kills it's usefulness unless you want to manually deal with it, which I don't.

Uranime: Honestly, I've never even heard of the anime prior to scouring the internet for information on the topic of keeping track of anime. If I haven't heard of it, most likely you haven't either, which also pretty much means it's a website with a small minority of people and nobody really cares about them. They also don't have many clients either...there is one on Android if you use uranime though.

MyAnimeList: This website is the defacto site for keeping track of your anime and manga, for better or worse. The API kind of fails and doesn't get updates, the website layout is also rather ugly, but there are more clients than I have fingers on one hand and a number of them are actually still alive. It might have it's ups and downs...very heavy downs...but almost everyone uses it, and thanks to the exporting feature, moving elsewhere is always an option even if moving back really isn't.

Herro: A short lived dream of a single otaku to create the greatest successor to anime/manga tracking that mankind has ever known. Started in 2013, as of ages ago in 2014 the website is 404'd and dead. RIP that site. This is just incase you once recalled hearing about a tracker called Herro...because you probably only heard about it once :3.

Melative: A slightly different premise holds melative up in comparison to the rest of the sites available. It more or less is a generic tracker of the media you consume, so it isn't just anime or manga, but it can be music, light novels, visual novels, games, etc. It has a microblogging feature as well where you can blurt out how Oshino Shinobu is best girl or maybe just say all of the typos and other fansubbing errors with a hashtag like "#FansubIsDead", though I have no idea if you can actually search stuff via hashtags, so it is more for effect than anything important. The API is available and for the most part everything is fine and dandy. If there was anything to really gripe about, it's that about nothing has really changed since 4 years ago though I say this while refreshing my email inbox for that mythical reset password email that has yet to appear. So if anything, YMMV. There are some clients too I guess...but on the whole, melative is dead to all but it's users.

Anilist: The cute spawn from the guys at anichart that fancied a modern, minimalist approach. I like how they organized and displayed the information, though I guess it should be expected since anichart looks and works fantastic even on the shittiest of internet speeds. Just add some tags and release a fucking API that has been promised since eons ago, and maybe things could get somewhere. At the very least, it's still on the horizon as of July 2014 just as it was on the horizon an entire year ago. Of course, until that API gets released and people make some clients, this website is going to stay on the list of manual management.

Hummingbird: Yet another new-ish anime/manga tracker that at least has an API out, which means some clients can, and some have, add support for HB. Probably the closest to being an actual replacement to MAL/AniDB with some strange affixation towards a community profile, so each episode update shows up on your feed and you can write your own statuses too. In a way, it's like a better version of Melative with a focus on anime and manga. You can pretty much use it like a microblogging medium and it has some twitter-like aspects (followers and following), as well as the all important breakdown of what you watch. The API has two versions apparently with the first version being dead and the second being used as the base of the website already, but doesn't have any documentation at the moment. If there is anything else going for it, since moving to Github, it has seen some popularity since I remember seeing it in the trending some ages back.

So now the end result of all this derping around. Honestly, it really doesn't matter what you want to use to track your anime/manga. It can be an excel sheet or a piece of paper or even papyrus reeds for all I care. A number of the websites above do what is needed, and that is to track anime, thus it all really comes down to what sort of stuff you are expecting from it. As for myself, I like having things really easy, so a desktop client and maybe an android client are preferred which narrows this list down to just HB and MAL for me. Continuing on this convenience, converting to HB is not completely flawless and some series do get lost moving from MAL to HB and thus I hesitate a little to go fully to HB because if I ever want to move back to MAL, I'm not going to get all of that information back. To bring things to a conclusion, I'm really just waiting for Anilist and Hummingbird to mature before swapping to either, because decrepit as MAL may be, it's still there with my list of anime since years back.