This is my Blog, on it I simply write stuff that I feel like writing about. You'll find it heavily slanted towards tech, games, entertainment and the like. I write about other stuff too, and somethings I write about things. I also do photography, the link is on your right.

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Windows 8 my Indie gaming!

So I was surfing the ol’ internets, as I often do, and I came across this little gem of a headline on Kotaku.com.

Notch: “I’d rather have minecraft not run on win 8 at all than to play along.”

This isn’t the first time the self appointed elder-god of indie gaming has voiced his complete and utter distain for Windows 8.  He’s not the only one either, Gabe Newell of Valve has also expressed his distaste for the OS.  The crux of their collective argument is that it will turn the windows platform into a “Walled garden” type environment not unlike the Apple ecosystem.  Somehow this will stymie innovation, the windows app store will take control and it will all be over.  Dogs and cats living together!  Mass hysteria!

Now, I know both of these fellas are pretty big names in the gaming world, and I personally respect Mr. Newell a great deal.  I have to wonder though, what the fuck are they blathering about?  Notch feels that the app store will hamper indie developers and discourage them from developing software.  Well, have you looked at the windows phone app store recently?  The store that soon will be one and the same as the Windows 8 store?  A huge percentage of the apps there are made by fucking indie developers!  Gabe feels that a lot of top tier OEM companies will exit the PC market, and leave Win 8 for dead on the side of the road.  Clearly not the case; as I covered in a previous post, everyone and their grandma is making a Win 8 device this season.

You have to realize that Windows 8 is still fucking Windows!  It’s an optimized version of Win 7 with a touch based interface glued on top of it.  Nobody is worried about Win 7 somehow locking out developers and software that doesn’t have the Microsoft seal of approval stamped on it, so why do so many people have their panties in a bunch about Win 8?  It’s basically the same thing.

I have a few suggestions for Gabe.
1)Make a cool little Windows 8 style live tile for steam that shows all the current sales.  Now people can shop on steam when they aren't even on steam.
2)Do exactly what you are doing now, offering a incredible PC gaming distribution experience.
3)Stop being a whiny little bitch.

And some for Notch.
1) Go make games!  You know, that thing that made you rich and famous?
2)Stop being a whiny little bitch.


Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Apple Vs. The World (iphone 5 edition)

I have a bit of a reputation of bashing Apple, but I feel I’m a bit misunderstood.  You see, I don’t hate Apple products.  Apple make very nice devices, I feel they are way overprice for what you get, but that doesn’t bother me, I don’t buy them.  What I don’t like is people who go insane over these devices.  Not everybody is a rabid fanatic, you will find plenty of people with a lot of technical know-how that use Apple products simply because it works for them, and to that I say, “good on you!  Keep doing what you’re doing.”

As of late there has been a lot of flak directed at apple for their new iphone 5.  Some even from myself.  Do they deserve it?  Well, yes and no.  Let me explain.  On one hand, it is a very nice device, and a completely logical upgrade to the 4s.  I’m sure it is designed and built with the same signature care and quality that Apple is known for.  So in that respect, no they don’t deserve the criticisms they are garnering.

This is where it gets interesting, at least to me.  Traditionally new technologies have always been market by way of what it does.  I mean, that would be anyone’s first question when a new whirly-gig-o-rama comes out.  What does it do?  Along comes Apple and flips the script.  They are not marketing on what it does, but what it means.  What does it MEAN to have an Apple product?  It means status, it means style, it means sophistication, it means taste.  Having a shiny new iMac on your desk is just plain sexier than a plain beige or black box under the desk.   They use words like “magical” in their adds.   This strategy has help them sell products like gangbusters!  Two million iphone 5 orders in 24 hours, that’s insane. 

What burns bright never burns long though.  There is only so many times they can say “revolutionary” before it starts to become meaningless.  Apple is painting themselves into a corner, and thus they have started to get tepid responses from the people in the tech world.  The early adopters.  This is also where the poking fun at them comes in.  The iphone 5 is good, possibly even great, but its not forged by Odin himself, and tempered with unicorn tears.  So, in this regard yes, they absolutely deserve it. You reap what you sow.

So, how does this affect people?  Well like I said, for a lot of people, not at all.  They just use the damn things for what they need them for.  However, there is a segment of the Apple buying population that have fostered a manic rabid devotion to the company.  This is a direct result of the way Apple has done their marketing.  I honestly think their marketing teams have been watching evangelical churches, and taking careful notes. In many ways Apple is no different from any other large corporation, they make, market, and sell products, just like everyone else.  Yet they still stick out like a sore thumb, with countless wars waged on either side, all over the internet. I’ve never seen anything like it.  All because some marketing genius on the part of Apple, technology as a status symbol.

Or maybe it’s just fate that Apple is destined to create controversy.  Even in a post like this, where I’m simply trying to suss out why there is such a constant hoopla over this nonsense, people will probably fight and argue about whether I’m right, or completely off base.  Hell, simply by writing this post I’m inadvertently jumping in to the fray.


Would you cry and throw a fit if you couldn’t get a new iphone?  Would you trample and stampede your way into a store to get one, stepping on orphans and old ladies? Would you buy a new iphone simply because everyone else is?

Well then, I don’t like you, and I will continue to bash you and your ilk.

Are you going to buy a new iphone because you need a new phone?  Or your contract is up?  Or you’ve done some research on all the phones out and decided that it’s the best one for you?

Well then, I like you.  Gimmie a hug!

Peace everybody.


Monday, 10 September 2012

Guild Wars 2: First Impressions

So I just picked up Guild Wars 2 the other day, and I thought I’d share my thoughts on my experiences so far.  I’m doing this partly because I’m really digging this game, partly because I need to generate some content, and partly because I’m secretly hoping that someone from a big website happens across my blog and wants to hire me to scream barely coherent profanity at the internet.  Let’s get this abomination of a blog entry started shall we?

First up, I would have really preferred to buy this game, like I do all my games, via digital download.  I went to the site to buy it and lo and behold, they are sold out…of digital downloads.  Evidently they had temporarily stop generating CD keys as their servers were getting slammed with people trying to buy the game.   My only hope was to find a physical copy, which due to my keen insight, I managed to pick up at the first place I stopped.  Who would think to go to a drug store to buy a PC game? Me I guess.  I can’t even recall the last time I used this archaic method to buy a game, in fact, it’s been so long that my DVD-rom has been broken for well over a year, and I haven’t bothered to replace it, I never have any use for it.  So, after installing my new DVD-rom, I set about installing the game and I’m proud to report that installing and setting up an account went off without a hitch.

So now you might be wondering WTF is a Guild Wars 2?  Whelp, it’s a brand spanking new MMMMOORRPGGGggggggg……..that is Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing game.  There a few things that set this apart from others like WoW and what have you.  This biggest one is that it is completely free to play.  No micro-payments or subscription fees.  EFF AR E E, free.

After running the game for the first time, there was a 2 gig patch to download, which is not unusual for this kind of game.  Thankfully it went extremely fast.  Once that was done, you log on and you have to choose a server.  One thing I was disappointed to find out was that once you choose a server, you are stuck on it. You can’t make characters on a new server unless you pay a fee of some kind.  What the hell is the point of that?  After that, you get to make a character.  You have a choice between five different races, and eight classes.  Now, for some reason I’ve always enjoyed making a seemingly conflicted character, a “good” race with an “evil” class or vice versa.  So I decided to go with some sort of leafy plant person, who was a necromancer, and that’s when things started to go south on me.

As someone who is a veteran of countless MMORPG’s over the years, I think I have a pretty good handle on what to expect, but for some reason my first experience with this one was an extremely jarring one.  First off, the starting zone for the leafy people felt extremely alien and hard to navigate.  Secondly, my necromancer played and felt nothing like any necromancer in any other game I’ve played.  Instead of a spell caster with a mastery of the power over death, casting debilitating spells from afar while their minion attacks, I found myself smack in the middle of the melee.  Yes, necros in this game are pretty much high damage melee with light armour.  Squishy yet deadly.   The combat, although quite different from traditional MMO’s, is actually quite similar to The Secret World.  There is a heavy emphasis on fast paced, action oriented combat.  Just not quite so punishing as unforgiving as TSW.

I decided to take a step back and start from scratch after that initial foray.  I went back to the drawing board and made a human guardian class.  Basically a dude in armour with an emphasis on defensive combat.  Now partly because I knew what to expect, and having a more traditional class and starting area, I could really focus on enjoying the game.  The first thing that really struck me is that this game is truly drop dead gorgeous, and the developers know it.  You get experience points for just about everything in this game: completing quest, killing monsters, helping NPC’s, collecting trade materials, crafting items, tying your shoes correctly, tying your shoes incorrectly, and even from just wandering around and seeing the sights.  I went from level six to level seven simply by wandering around the starting city looking at all the beautiful scenery.

There’s really only one quest, and it spans the whole game.  It’s the story of your character, which is based off some questions the game asks you when you initially make him.  This story will change over time depending on the decisions you make as you play the game, so no two people playing the game will have the same story.  For example, in my story, I had to deicide whether to save countless people from being poisoned, or save my best friend from being carved up by a ruthless gang leader.  Depending on what you decide, the story changes.

As for the rest of the game, there is no quest log, or npc’s asking you to kill 35 sewer rats, or collect 18 lumps of moose poo.  Everything in the game just kind of happens as you wander around.  You’ll come across a caravan making it’s way from one town to another, and you can travel with it, protecting it from various perils.  When you get to your destination, you will get XP, money, and karma.  You may even discover that the village you just showed up at is under attack by rabid weasels or what have you.  Now you are in another event, protect the town.  That’s how the game plays out, it flows along very organically and really feels like you are just an adventurer wandering the world and….well adventuring.

So far, my noble hero guy is only level 11 out of a possible 85 levels, so I haven’t really seen enough to comment on grouping, character advancement, pvp, or high level content, but what I have seen so far has impressed me greatly.  I may make a second impression post at some point, maybe I won’t, I don’t know, where am I?  Who are you people?!  Get off my lawn!

Now if you will excuse me, I have some rabid, zombie, robot, giant, killer weasels to hunt down and defeat with my +4 dagger of nerdiness.  HUZZAH!


Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Nokia Lumia? More like Poo-mia! Amirite?

So today was the big day for Nokia and Microsoft.  They’ve been gearing up for today for months now, preparing for the big product announcement in New York City.

I have to preface this post right off the bat to say I’m actually a big fan of the Nokia Windows phone, in fact my phone is a Lumia 900.  Also, like Bruce Wayne believes in Harvey Dent, I believe in Windows 8.  It’s not the OS we deserve, but the OS we need right now.  So the inevitable stream of negative to downright hostile diatribe to follow must be construed as, oh let’s call it “constructive criticism.”

Ok, let’s get down to business.  I’m not what you would call an “expert” on things like press events, or announcing new products, but I’m pretty sure that if you massively hype up an event 6 months in advance, you had damn well better bring your ‘A’ game.  You had better blow our collective asses out of the water.  What we got from Nokia and Microsoft wasn’t even their ‘B’ game, it’s was hovering somewhere around their ‘F’ game.  That would be ‘F’ as in such popular words as “Fail.”

There wasn’t a single thing at their press release today that was even mildly surprising, pretty much everything new they had to show was already common knowledge, leaked on the internet days and weeks before.  Some of the “revolutionary” new features like city lens, I’ve had on my Luima 900 for almost two weeks already.  All in all, it seemed a lot more like Nokia was announcing a new camera than a new phone.  I swear they couldn’t stop gushing about the fucking camera on this thing.  A camera with such unheard of things as “image stabilization”, and some newfangled thing called a “BSI” sensor.  They did show off some somewhat gimmicky but sort of neat after affect type apps, like animating parts of the frame, or erasing unwanted components of the image, but those deserve a footnote at best, not front and center attention.

Despite all the blathering on, they manage to say remarkably little of any real use or relevance to the people who are actually going to buy this stuff.  How much do they cost?  When are they available?  How long will it go on a charge?  Which carriers will be picking them up?   In my opinion these are the real meat and potatoes of any product announcement.  Don’t bore me with any other bullshit unless it’s really gonna blow my ass away.  In this regard, they should take a page from apple’s playbook, they know how to announce a new product.  Then again, they might sue your ass if you do that.

Let’s get to the actual presentation itself.  Stephan Elop did a decent job of Bookending the whole presentation.  I mean as the CEO of Nokia, you would expect him to get up there and say a few flattering words about his company.  He performed as expected, with adequate speaking skills, if a little wooden.  For the other three presenters, two from Nokia and one from Microsoft, it was nothing short of a train wreck.  A stuttering, mumbling, awkward, sweaty under armed train wreck with all the personality of a potato.  When the presenters weren't dazzling you with their lack of public speaking skills, you can marvel at the technicians scurrying around the stage, trying in vain to get failed demo’s to work properly.  Breathtaking.  Just when you thought you couldn’t take anymore of this whirlwind extravaganza of showmanship, Steve Ballmer himself popped by to talk about….oh Christ, I have no idea, I think I was in a coma at this point.

As a consumer, and owner of a Lumia 900,  this is what I have taken away from the presentation:
The 920 has wireless charging, NFC, a slightly better camera, and a higher res screen.  Other than that, it’s the same as the phone I already have.  Sure, you can make an argument about the new dual core processor, the increased RAM and storage space, and the new OS. but here’s what I have to say to that.
“What does it DO for me?  Really, what does a dual core processor MEAN to me in daily use?” 
The answer of course, is nothing.  We have reached a point where specs don’t really mean much anymore, it’s about the experience.  What can I experience on the new 920 that I can’t on my 900?  In my oh so humble opinion, very little.

The whole reason why I’m tearing into these guys right now is because Microsoft really needed this to be great.  They really needed to add some validity to their new OS.  There is so much rhetoric floating around about it being to little to late, not able to compete with IOS and Android.  This was a great chance to show the world what they are made of.  Well shit guys, get it together!

I don’t know about you, but I’m getting a little tired of all this bullshit. Call me when you have a price.  Call me when I can go buy one.  Call me when you actually have something new and interesting to say.  But most importantly, call me from your new Windows phone.


Tuesday, 4 September 2012

The Death of the Noble Mouse

I know it might be a bold statement, but I’m gonna go on record today.  I believe the days of the ubiquitous input device that you likely have in your hand as we speak has it’s days numbered.  It has served us well over the years, and has yet to let us down.  It has soldiered on throughout the years as an unsung hero of the computing age.  Never complaining, even though lord knows what horrible shit you have clicked on; oh the secrets it must have!

Now the mouse is not going to go away completely, let’s just call it “semi-retirement,” it will always have a place, but it’s going to be more relegated to a niche corner of the world, things that require a little more precise moments that you can get touching your screen.  Gaming, graphics and design, auto-cad etc.
I know what you must be thinking right now, I’m thinking the same thing myself, “how many live chickens can I cram into my car?”  You might also be thinking, “Jer, you are a certified mad-man. On what basis can you make this bold and daring assumption about the current and future state of the wonderful world of high tech….ummm tech.”

Well, let me tell you champ.

You see, there is this little shindig they have in Berlin, (that’s Germany) every year around this time called the IFA.  What is the IFA you may ask.  Well, good question young sir or madam.  The IFA is a huge consumer electronics show where various companies come to show off there shit.  Why is this important?  That’s a very noble inquiry old chap.  The IFA is in the late summer/early fall, which means that all the cool ass shit you see there is going to be hitting store shelves just before Christmas.  I hear people love to by shit at that time of year.

Let’s have a quick look at the highlights!  Jeeves, roll the film!

The M3, V5 and S7 ultra books, all have been upgraded this year to touch screens.  They also are releasing two new Windows tablets.

They showed of a fucking 27 inch touch screen “tablet.”  They call it a tablet, but’s really just a touch screen all in one desktop.

Touch screen laptops, tablets, and hybrids, not a mouse to be seen.

Oh this is taking to long!  Ok, Samsung, Lenovo, Panasonic, Sony, Toshiba all are sporting touch screen laptops, ultra books, tablets, and desktops.  The more astute readers my have notice a pattern developing here, and you are correct, all these manufactures make electronics!  Also, they’re all touch screen.  In fact, the only computer manufacturer that I could find that didn’t have a touch screen computer is Apple.
I was planning on doing a whole bunch of thorough research and providing links to all these new products, but that seemed way too much like work, so I found a website that had already done all the heavy lifting.

You’re welcome.  

For better or for worse, Windows 8 has almost arrived.  Next month, there is going to be a paradigm shift, I really believe that the very fundamentals of computers is changing.  Anyone who tries to cling to the old ways is going to get left behind.
So, I think the only real thing left to say is goodnight sweet prince, your memory will live on in our hearts and mind forever-ish.
RIP 1965-2013