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Archive for the ‘Hi Tech’ Category

My holiday weekend was less than stellar, mostly because I was on-call and got several alerts on several nights during the wee hours. Grrr.

However, it was not without some good. One of the high points was a new game: Horizon Zero Dawn (Guerrilla Games) which is available for the PS4 (currently on sale for about $40).

HZD is an open world, third-person POV, quest-structured game along the lines of the Far Cry or Elder Scrolls, but in my opinion HZD is far and away superior to those others and primarily for one single reason: the writing. (more…)

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While I’m working on something more meaty, here’s a bit of fun.

Like most people my age, I learned to type on a manual typewriter, an old Smith-Corona, to be precise. It was heavy — damned heavy — and came in its own nearly-as-heavy hard-sided case. It had a black-and-red ribbon that always got twisted, the keys continually got hooked onto one another, and after typing up an evening’s homework, my forearms ached from the physical exertion of pressing down the keys. That’s no exaggeration; it took some oomph to make those levers thwack with enough force to register through to the carbon copy.

What’s a carbon copy, you ask? Well, it’s a … nope, I don’t have time or space to explain it all. (more…)

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This past weekend, still recuperating from a kick-your-teeth-out head cold, I didn’t have much energy for anything beyond breathing, so I figured maybe I’d play Valley, the new game I’d purchased. Aside from that, my one major expense of energy would be to accompany my wife (who had also succumbed to the Killer Cold) on an errand to the mall. The mall is one of my least favorite places, but I managed to muster enough oomph to assist her, and I’m glad I did because whilst there, I was able to try out the Oculus Rift.

These two items — Valley and the Oculus — pretty much peg the spectrum of gaming costs. At an online sale price of $8, Valley was a superb bargain, while the Oculus headset rig ($499) is about as dear a peripheral as you can find, especially when you factor in the current requirements for both a high-end gaming PC (the model I used in the demo was $1499) and the Oculus Touch handsets ($99/pair).

Now, there’s no frakking way I’m going to plunk down over two grand for a gaming peripheral. Ain’t gonna happen. Nuh-unh. After spending ten minutes under the VR headset, though, I was tempted. Sorely tempted.

On the other hand, my expectations for a video game that costs eight bucks were low. Very low. Like, I expected to be bored within an hour, low. That didn’t happen, proving that even my jaded sensibilities can still be wrong. (more…)

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Today, we went dark. Sort of.

Today, our cable and land-line were cut off. We still have internet and our mobile phones, but the dedicated connections for television and phone are as dead as Monty Python’s parrot.

During our fortnight-long sans cable experiment, everything about our television viewing habits came under scrutiny: what we watch, when we watch, and how we watch. We learned a great deal about our habits and thoroughly re-evaluated what we considered “worthwhile” viewing. After two weeks, we no longer think of things in terms of networks, but see them in terms of providers, apps, and individual shows.

Not everything was rosy, though, and before we dropped the hammer, we had to make some compromises. (more…)

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On January 1st I woke early, made a pot of coffee, and sat down to watch the Sunday morning punditry. In general, this is not a good idea as it often leads to shouting and throwing things at the television, which tends to wake my wife and scare the cat, but it’s a hard habit to break.

First up, as always, was ABC’s “This Week with” … whomever they got for that week … George … Martha … Krusty the Clown. I turned the television on, punched in Channel 4, and was presented with a black-bordered message from Frontier Communications, our cable provider. It informed me that the distributor of our local ABC affiliate was being a pooter and wouldn’t negotiate a “reasonable rate” for their programming and, since Frontier “won’t settle for less than fair pricing for our customers,” they chose instead to deprive us of the ABC channels altogether.

It was the last straw. (more…)

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Because A.J. wanted a follow-up…

KRAG’s Law of Hype Lensing:

The Perception of an Object is distorted by the sum of the object’s anticipatory Hype and the engagement level of the observer’s Imagination.

The hype for No Man’s Sky was intense. As if three years of visionary promises and a truly groundbreaking approach weren’t enough, when Sony opened up its gargantuan wallet and bet its money on Hello Games — a tiny, 15+ person development company with only a cheesy little platformer app to its credit — all speculation was punched into warp-drive.

Usually, in such situations, I see the hype for what it is (i.e., marketing) and my Imagination compensates, essentially canceling out the effects of Hype. This way, when the game is released, it’s pretty much as I expected and disappointment levels are kept to a minimum.

In the case of No Man’s Sky, however, I made a tactical error. I figured that a small, independent company like Hello Games, run by a plucky band of earnest boys and girls from Surrey, would not yet be infected by the callous, avaricious cancer of corporate greed. I took them to be sincere lovers of games who were trying to be transparent about plans and features.

My bad.  (more…)

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On Release Day, I spent a few hours playing No Man’s Sky.

It’s not perfect, but damn, it’s close. (more…)

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