Tuesday, August 23, 2016

The future looks ... pretty ?

It's also quite dark, grim and uncertain too.

According to the world of the Deus Ex that is. I've written about this a while before but the latest iteration of the games in that dystopian future is out and I'm quite looking forward to seeing where the story leads.

Pretty ?
As always, click for bigger.

They're doing more and more these days in the games. There is a bit of a trick to it, the prettiest part of that picture is the city in the background. It's Dubai in the near future and our hero, Adam Jensen, has been sent in to sort out some terrorists. And I won't say any more because it'll be spoilers.

Oh - tricks ! Yep. There are two main parts to the image above. The background and the foreground. You could say that the background is an inactive part of the picture, the foreground is the active part. The player cannot go into the background or interact with it. They call things like this "skyboxes" where a complicated texture is painted on to a flat wall that is very far away. Except there's a bit more to it than that in this case because the texture moves a bit.

The foreground is where the player moves around. It's a complete 3d environment with walls, fake walls, doors, things that move, bad guys that need thumping. You'll notice that the detail on the railings isn't as good as what is out there in the background.

Still looks awesome though.

Here's what things were like in the first of this reboot, in the game from 5 years ago :
Haha, yep. Another pretty skybox in the background with a less complicated accessible environment.

It still looks pretty stunning though and the last game (Deus Ex Human Revolution) was a very pretty game in itself. I played that game to death. It didn't try to do everything but what it did do, it did extremely well.

Wait - I'm being confusing with the sequel / prequel / whatisitquel. There are 4 main games in the Deus Ex world so far, although we don't talk about one of them. We don't even register that there was one called The Fallen.

Chronologically, Deus Ex Human Revolution comes first. That's the game from 5 years ago. This one is set 2 years after that and I'm looking forward to exploring its world.

The very first one was Deus Ex from way back in 2000. How did that look ?
Hmm. A bit crude. And that was even with the improved textures pack. This one was maybe 20-30 years after Human Revolution and the one I have now.

I've stopped playing for tonight though and I've switched over to watching the Chrissa stream.
The Chrissa streams (link on the right !) are always highly enjoyable to watch and chill out to. At the moment, she's playing through Alien Isolation, a game from a couple of years ago that works on the nerves and the suspense. The expression there is one of knowing that Susan* is waiting just around the corner with a Very Pointy Tail.

*(we named the Alien Xenomorph Susan. Yep.)

It's a much darker game but also has an incredibly detailed environment to play in and hide from the alien in. I don't actually own Alien Isolation, the stealth sneaking appeals but the other mechanics definitely don't. But I did enjoy watching the Hannah and Kim playthrough and I'm enjoying watching HeyChrissa's playthrough now.

I'm veering off topic too ...

Games look better now ! But that's not really the point ...

No Man's Sky looked really pretty in a comic kind of way. But it didn't seem to be that much of a game. I've taken that one off the Wishlist now as a game I would get frustrated and bored with very quickly. I would look seriously at Alien Isolation for the hide from the alien gameplay and the ability to wander through Giger and Ridley Scott's world.

I think I'll be enjoying playing Deus Ex Mankind Divided a lot. They have a compelling world to play in there. But not tonight, I had a crash to desktop earlier which was the perfect point to put it away and have a break.

That's one thing about watching the streamers and the video people. They let you enjoy the gaming even when you're too tired to do the gaming yourself. That's me after a day's work. I'll put so much into the day's work that I don't really have the mental energy to play when I get home.

Chrissa is perhaps the best streamer I know too. Always entertaining, always chuckling along to what us in chat are bantering on about and an excellent player of the games too. It's great when you draw out the chuckles with what goes into chat too.

And I'm missing too much while posting !

Cya - and I'll hopefully find some other topics to talk about soon that aren't games !

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Back to Post Olympic Normality


It's been a good fortnight for British sport hasn't it ?

I've been quite enjoying it. Between the Olympics on BBC (excellent coverage, except perhaps the results which were better from the official site) and the cricket via the Skys, there's been a lot on and for most of it, it has been sport where it's had that magic combination to hold the interest :

Unpredictable results - cricket definitely. But so much of the Olympic sport could have gone multiple other ways.
Heroic performances - in yesterday's cricket, David Willey got a broken hand. And continued to play. Same with "Dre Russ", hamstring difficulties, still played and nearly contributed heavily to a win. In the hockey in London, one of our ladies got a broken jaw ... and was back for the next game.

And that's just the extreme cases.

Lots of variation. I've enjoyed watching all sorts of the sports on show. Be it the equestrian sport that pulled out the surprise with Nick Skelton winning, whether it's the hockey with our Scary Brit Ladies going for and winning the gold. The Rugby Sevens making a sparkling entry to the tournament. Even the more power in a straight line sports like the rowing, swimming, athletics. And the gymnastics too.

It does help having so many British winners. If you have a personal investment in what you're seeing, you care about it so much more. It's incredible seeing GB as number 2 on that medal table. Inspiring even.

(Don't worry - even if I do repair, I'm far too old to do any running around competitive stuff now).

It has been a fabulous fortnight of sport though. Far better than I thought it might be, although I suspect that the Paralympics may suffer in comparison. Lack of money etc. We haven't seen many of the crime events that I thought we would see. Brazil (or Sao Paulo) is notorious in the Formula 1 season for being really bad on the crime. Or is that because Formula 1 is a rich sport so they stand out as targets ...

Hopefully the close out of the event will be as successful as the event itself.

Hopefully the Olympics comes to a place I can go to soon ! I still have a little bit of the Sad for missing out on the London Olympics. I was in a far worse place when the London Olympics were on and barely strayed away from the house and from work.

How have I been doing ?

Not healed properly yet but it's like my body is really trying hard now to heal up. There are still hold out areas (like my elbows) which aren't happy but even where I redamage myself quite badly (think - gashes 2 inches and 4 inches long), the damage is repairing even quicker. The 2 inch and 4 inch gashes I did with my nails on Friday morning are nearly healed now.

Yep - you read that right. It's that easy to cause reasonably bad damage to myself. Hell, even too much pressure (in the way that my sleeveless cricket jumper would cause) would cause damage.

Hopefully not too long now though with the healing, although ... with the current rates - maybe Christmas ? That would be a good present. Finally an end to all these troubles so I can move on and put it behind me. It feels like I have missed out on far too much.

We shall see.

Uhoh - I've been hearing that microwave beeper go off for what's in the oven (my microwave is my cooking timer) for a few minutes now ... I better go rescue the remains of my dinner !

Cya !

PS I picked up some Chicken Kievs from the supermarket on Thursday. How did I go so long without these ? Lush.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Hunting the technology again

You'd think after getting shinies in the form of the monitor, speakers and mouse that I'd be happy for a while wouldn't you ?

NOOOO !!!!

This is technology.

More is better. Always.
First up - the tech I have is great. No complaints. Maybe the computer's processor is getting a little old (it's an i5-2500k from a few generations and almost 5 years ago) but it's still handling what it gets thrown in the shape of the games. How about the new stuff ?

The monitor is great. It's a breath of fresh air. New monitors will be like that but if you're in the market for tech, get the best out of what's on offer. Why buy second best if a little research can point you towards the best stuff ? Oh - it's an AOC 25" QHD monitor (1440p - more pixels, more detail) with an IPS screen. It does the trick. Pretty pictures look Pretty.

There's a thought ! My camera has a higher resolution than even this new shiny monitor. I haven't looked at the latest pics (Comic Con) on it yet.
(a few minutes later)
Oh that was so worth it.

I've been loving the speakers too but ... the mouse ? It may have started double bouncing already. Curious. (Double bouncing is where too many clicks happen).

The tech I'm curious about at the moment is :

Telly. Nah. Won't happen. The fairly old 32" telly still does me pretty well and I'm not sure that the newer panels are actually mature yet technologically.

Graphics card. One thing about getting a monitor with twice as many pixels as before, it puts a lot more strain on the thing that is painting all those pixels. And the AMD R9 380 I bought in Feb was struggling a bit in Elite. Will I replace it ? Nah. Whatever is out there now is not a significant upgrade on the R9 380 for an affordable price. I'll just turn down the number of pixels it is being asked to make.

But it's not just tech. Tech is more fun though.

Glasses ... oh wow these glasses have done me really well. They're like 14 years old now and I still have good depth perception from them. Speed perception is a little out of whack but I can adjust for that.

Actually - how do you measure depth accurately but not speed ? Speed is rate of change of depth after all. Strange but true.
Things to help you spy things better ? Perhaps.

What else - At the Mall earlier, I picked up something for my ankle to hopefully help it repair. Although it might well be odd going to work tomorrow with one foot in an ankle protector (and a shoe) and the other in a sock (and a shoe). My general condition is improving but there are areas (like my ankle) where the skin isn't being allowed to repair due to wear and tear of daily life.

But ankle protectors are boring. Thorntons fudge isn't and some may have escaped with me earlier. Oops.
Rogue One should be awesome.

The last bit of tech I've started looking into is a new phone. My iPhone 5 is still doing ok. But it has its flaws ... like Apple gradually moving away from giving customers what they want. My iPhone is still stuck on iOS 6 so that it can talk to the iTunes on my laptop. (I refuse to allow the newer versions of iTunes on because they are garbage). This is bad. It has also lost 3GB of its 13.5GB capacity to "Other Data" which I can't get back at the moment. The worst bit is the Lightning connector, it's getting harder and harder to make the connector work.

It still does its job as a phone but I am starting to look at other options. It has to do a few things :

Talk to iTunes.
Talk to the car. Send my music to the car.
Do the usual smartphoney type stuff.
Have all you can eat data.
Mobile tethering so I can have the iPad get to the internet through it.
Be as secure as Android can be.

I'm looking at the Samsung Galaxy phones at the moment. But I'll procrastinate a bunch before I actually get one. Because it's not something I actually need to do yet and I should do a little research with my old Android phone to see if the Talk to Itunes method I have in mind will work. (an app called Doubletwist).

Oh and away from tech - back to games ! I've been looking at the No Man's Sky situation over the weekend. I was quite looking forward to that game. It promised to combine the Elite aspects of flying round the galaxy with exploring planets. It looked like it could be quite compelling. It has recovered from a problematic launch where people had problems running it ... but that doesn't change the underlying gameplay.

I won't be getting this one until it significantly improves. Big problems at the moment (apparently ! I'm going from second hand reports ...) - a broken flight model and a lack of variation.

It's like throwing a dice 1000 times. Sure, you can throw it that 1000 times and get 1000 results but if that dice has only 6 sides, you only get 6 different results. The variation and therefore the interest in seeing something different dies quite quickly.

I'll be waiting for the next Deus Ex game and perhaps ... having another look at the Elite Internet Spaceships :-).

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Gamer Meme

Another meme doing the rounds at the moment is around the number 7.

There are actually two of these, one is First Seven Jobs, the other is 7 Fave Games. I hope you'll understand if I don't do the First Seven Jobs, cos most of them are jobs I won't say anything about here. They're all engineering, which is about as much as I can tell you here !

Actually - let's see : Paper round, data entry person, dishwashing person, civil servant engineer. And there's a bunch of jobs in that civil servant engineer bit.
Although repairman is more technician, not engineer. An engineer is the one who takes it apart, puts it back together again and hides the leftover parts that you didn't need anyway. The best engineers make death dealing robots out of the leftover parts.

Games ?

I'll actually do a couple of these lists because ... differences. There's a bit of a difference between "Games I have sunk most time into" and "Games I would come back to now".

First list - what's got the most hours on my Steam list and other places ...
1 - World of Warcraft. I think it was 14 days playtime to get my first level 60 and WoW was with me for so many years as I built and enjoyed the Mercenaries guild, helped out with the Guildlink stuff and then ran away to the Hot Swedish Girls* of Violence Reborn. You need a good group though for WoW, it's not a game you can enjoy solo.
*(the HSGs are the running joke but I only saw the pictures of a few of them. Pretty yes but the important thing was people like Swedish Sandra who was a massively good friend helping me out at a rough time for me emotionally)
There were some good times in that game but it has changed soooo much.

2 - Elite Dangerous has about 3 weeks worth of playtime. A beautiful game in its perfect representation kind of way. No Mans Sky has potential to be similarly beautiful in a more cartoonish style but I don't think No Mans Sky has the variation to support weeks of playtime.

3 - Defence Grid - a tower defence game which was a good one to sink a few relaxing hours into as your carefully arranged towers annihilate waves on waves of enemies. I didn't think the sequel was quite as good.

4 - Deus Ex Human Revolution - pretty much perfection in what it does. It's a stealth oriented first person shooter with strong role play elements, set in a dystopian future where cybernetic augments are becoming the norm. Loved this game, looking forward to the sequel due out in a couple of weeks.

5 - Stellaris ... and Hearts of Iron IV is coming in there too - these are strategy games by Paradox who I have to say, do a remarkable job of making ultra playable grand strategy games. I've enjoyed playing these since discovering them and ... I'm checking out their other strategy games too.

6 - Planetbase. 112 hours on record. It's a colony builder game set in space. It has great gameplay built on a few simple rules with the resources. There are a few more posts about it here :-)
7 - Elder Scrolls V Skyrim. This is an odd one. The combat system really sucks. A role play game should depend on how well the character skills are developed ... but this is all about the player skill. This one has a massive world which ... doesn't change very much at all. It does not seem to progress as you go through the story. I sunk 89 hours into this one but ... did not get even maybe 30% of the way through the story. Good game but ... it outstayed its welcome for me.

Not all of those will be in the next list, which are the games that really made an impression on me at the time :

Best games ... evah !!! In no particular order :-).

1 - Elite, Frontier and Elite Dangerous. The possibility of leaving the Earthly bonds behind really appealed and I love this game series (although Elite Dangerous is perhaps a little dead to me now, may go back now that the No Mans Sky hype is dissipating). You could fly where you want, the Frontier games let you fly all the way into the capital cities of Earth etc. Elite Dangerous is an absolutely gorgeous game.
2 - Deus Ex Human Revolution. It hit the spot and is the best shooter game I've played.

3 - Neverwinter Nights (NWN) - the original, not the newer massively multiplayer game. This one was based around Dungeons and Dragons 3rd ed rules, which are probably the best iteration of that game that I've played. it had a decent story and the gameplay was balanced for parties of up to 3 (2?) people. The earlier Baldur's Gate was balanced for parties of 6, which made it too unwieldy for me. Anyway, I enjoyed completing NWN and its expansion many, many times with multiple different character classes.

4 - Master of Orion 2 - a grand space strategy which was the best at that for me until Stellaris came along. Old ones can be awesome.

5 - Star Wars Pod Racer - best racing game for me. Hopefully it will come back to being viable to play on PC soon. It would still install and play on Windows 7 but you needed to play it all the way through as it couldn't find the save games.

6 - Tie Fighter - best story based space shooter for me. This cost me a First at uni ! Oops. Yep. Great story missions, that Star Wars soundtrack (in simplified midi format) and excellent gameplay. I bought X COM Interceptor too, which was also a space based shooter ... but they got the gameplay wrong in that despite cloning most of it from XWing and Tie Fighter. Tie Fighter was the pinnacle of this series.

7 - the Mass Effect trilogy. This story saw you racing around the galaxy as a futuristic space marine, attempting to save the galaxy from the impending apocalyptic invasion of genocidal machines. This series had the lot, gameplay, graphics, space, characters and feels from the interaction of those characters. I'm enjoying the Chrissa streams as she replays them.

There we go. There will be a few that I forgot to put on the list but these are the big ones. Honourable mentions go to games like Star Fleet Command and Star Trek Armada. Jagged Alliance 2 for squad level combat, the XCom for more tactical combat. Falcon 4 for hitting buttons as a flight sim, although it was unforgivingly unstable. World of Warcraft was an excellent adventure but at some point, you hit maximum level and run out of content unless you do group work.

Games often do one bit well but fall down on other things. Sometimes they try and do too much and the failings take the gloss off the rest. The Civilisation games were great ... until they got to end game micromanagement. This is where Stellaris really scores over Master of Orion 2, because it takes that micromanagement away from you.

Time to get back to that Mass Effect stream though :-).

G'nite !

Monday, August 08, 2016

Attack of the Memes

I've been spotting the word memes appear again ... I have two for you today (if I can find the second !)
Don't worry. That's the only meme pic I'll post today. Maybe.

The rule on this one is that every answer must start with the last letter of the previous answer.

Name - Sleepypete
Animal - Elephant
Boys name - Trevor
Colour - Red
Movie - Divergent
Something you wear - T shirt
Drink - Tea !
Food - Anchovies
Item in the bathroom - Sink
Place - Knightsbridge

Ok. Some of those were a bit more weird than I thought. It could have been weirder but I couldn't think of a drink to go with tea towel and a movie to go with maroon.
More meme ! Bigger one this time :

1. What was the last thing you put in your mouth? A strawberry bonbon. Lush.
2. Where was your profile picture taken? Erm .... should have been at home because I have this pocket dragon but ... I was lazy and stole it from the Googles and then modified it for shades.
3. Do you play Pokemon Go? Nope. Never got this craze
4. Name someone who made you laugh today: LTK
5. How late did you stay up last night and why? About 1.30am to watch the finish of a stream. And then I think I yawned my head off in bed until quite possibly 4am or later. Still got up in time for work.

6. If you could move somewhere else, where would you go? Gloucester and Sharpness canal is the most likely suspect at the moment. Or the Moon.
7. Ever been kissed under fireworks? Nope.
8. Which of your friends lives closest? I have a neighbour friend who will almost certainly read this soon !
9. Do you believe ex's can be friends? Absolutely. Hate is too strong and costly an emotion to allow to drive you. Part on good terms, stay friends, remember why you went out with them in the first place. That must have been a good reason !
10. How do you feel about Dr Pepper? What is this Dr Pepper ? Do they do appointments ?
11. When was the last time you cried? It almost got me in the streams over the weekend. Heart Mordin. Heart Thane. Hopefully Tali survives.
12. Who took your profile picture? Erm - see question higher up about me stealing it from the googles.

13. Who was the last person you took a picture of? Cupid's Gift.
14. Was yesterday better than today? Hmm - was back at work today but excepting that Lazy > Work, today was better. My outsides are better today than yesterday.
15. Can you live a day without TV? Hides in a corner and cries.
16. Are you upset about anything? My outsides not fixing yet, likelihood that I won't see Ben the Staffy again.
17. Do you think relationships are ever really worth it? Always ! Whether that be the unconditional love of a dog for its master, the benevolent overlordship of a cat for its servant or the sharing of a partnership. Things are better shared.
18. Are you a bad influence? Depends - do you like strawberry bonbons - muahaha.
19. Night out or night in? Each has potential for chill out and enjoying. The key thing is to enjoy.
20. What items could you not go without during the day? Coffee and the water the coffee goes in.
21. Who was the last person you visited in the hospital? My dad, he escaped not many days after.
22. What does the last text message in your inbox say? it's actually a thumbs up. I never quite know how to respond to those.
23. How do you feel about your life right now? It's in an inbetween stage for where I live, where I work, who I share things with.

24. Do you hate anyone? No, see above about hate being a worthless emotion. I can get spectacularly angry but I'll also recognise how destructive anger can be. Better to turn the emotions to better emotions.
25. If we were to look in your inbox what would you find? Lots of email, lots of spam, occasional email worth a read.
26. Say you were given a drug test right now, would you pass? Yep, not even had alcohol for I dunno how many months.
27. Has anyone ever called you perfect? Hmm. I dunno there - possibly the mum.

28. Someone knocks on your window at 2:00 a.m, who do you want it to be? The emergency services with something really important. Anyone else should be expecting to be ignored and if they persist, Dire Consequences. Or it's someone wanting me to turn the music down but they don't count as someone I'd want knocking on the window.
29. Name something you have to do tomorrow? There's a few work things. Other than that, there are things I will be doing but I don't have to do them.
30. Do you think too much or too little? I suspect thinking too much is why I'm having trouble sleeping at the moment.
31. Do you laugh a lot? Always confront problems with laughter.
32. Do you have any fears? Oh yes. Many. My biggest fear is being ignored, of reaching out and getting absolutely no response. I would say that I steer clear of such people now but I steer the emotion towards amusement again. Like one of those internet video people who occasionally proclaims how lonely she is, yet who spurned all the approaches. I gave up that way a long time ago but still send the tweets over ... and I'm amused when they get ignored as per usual.

That's probably a bit unkind there on number 32. I call those efforts to be something well and truly in the past. What I'm doing now is to try and bring amusement to random people, which sums up most of my efforts on twitter and in the Heychrissa streams. And it warms the heart to see the chuckles the messages bring out.

That's what I'll close with. Don't dwell on the bad emotions, like the being ignored by someone you think you might have gotten on well with. Turn the emotions to better ones. It's better to make that effort, reach out and be ignored, than to stay in your shell.
Indeed. Chase your dreams !

Saturday, August 06, 2016

Looked back, time to look forward ?

It occurred to me that yesterday's post had a lot of looking backwards but not much for what comes next ?

I'm looking forward to a few things at the moment. The big one for the next few weeks is sport. But there are also the games and I should really check for new music.

I'm also getting healthier apparently, which is a bonus. Hopefully that continues and I don't ruin it again like I usually do !

Sport ? Olympics just started and it's where we watch all those sports we rarely watch at any other time, while cheering on our people. It's a special time.

I quite enjoyed the drama of the cycling today and I'll enjoy watching the women's race tomorrow. The course is a true Olympic test, probably the most dangerous and challenging one there has been in the Olympics. There were a few broken bones too (we think!). Hopefully there won't be too many serious injuries this time round.

I was watching our GB ladies in the Rugby Sevens too. That's a scarily powerful and skillful side. They could go a long way. I missed the hockey but I don't think I've missed much, our GB men hockey players haven't been too good for a while now.

They currently have the gymnastics on at the moment so I'm half watching that, half watching the Chrissa Mass Effect 3 stream and listening to the musics. Current track is the sad "I'm Scared" by Duffy.

Olympics has so much sport, I'm interested in some, not interested in most. That's why the gymnastics is only being half watched at the moment. Same with the athletics and more with the swimming. Gymnastics is high skill but doesn't really interest me. Athletics and swimming are just "how fast", there's no real skill there.

But I still want to know who wins. That's the best kind of sport, where anyone can win and where the result is in doubt until the last few seconds. We had that with the cycling today.

We have that with the cricket as well. I'll be glued to that all day tomorrow as well. It's England and Pakistan still and all 3 results, Win, Lose or Draw are still possible. Probably be a draw but I think it'll be close.

There is more cricket to come, the domestic Twenty 20 season has its quarter finals over the evenings of next week and the final Test match starts on Friday. Yep. Lots to watch. Probably too much to watch !

It's not just sport though.

There are a few games coming soon which I am .... a mix of looking forward to and curious about.

New games have always been a bit of a mixed bag. If they come out when they're ready, they can be pretty awesome. The two Paradox games I've been enjoying (Hearts of Iron 4 and Stellaris) have been liked that. But other games are rushed out and are bug ridden messes. So what's coming that's on my radar ?

No Man's Sky is the big one. It's another Internet Spaceship game like Elite but looks like it's more focused on a journey to the centre of the galaxy rather than the all round game that Elite is. They're both quite different. No Man's Sky is more like a solo player exploration thing and is more developed in that than Elite is at the moment. Sure, they have a grand 10 year plan for Elite but I'm not wanting to wait that long for it to be fulfilled.

NMS comes out at the end of this week and I'm curious to know whether they pull it off. I'll watch a few early reaction gameplay videos (and a stream) for it and then make up my mind as to whether it's worth the time. But that won't be until after the Olympics.

Another one for after the Olympics is the next Deus Ex game, Mankind Divided. I really enjoyed the first of the rebooted Deus Ex series, Human Revolution. I should probably play the old original at some point. These are first person shooter games with strong elements of role play mechanic as you build up your character's abilities.

The first was a cracker, so I'm anticipating good things from this one.

There are others coming soon too, games like :

The Flame In The Flood - another explory survival game.
Space Run Galaxy - tower defence ... in space ! I enjoyed the first of these.
Factorio - build a factory, escape a planet you crashlanded on.
Rimworld - build a space colony.
Starbound just came out properly, I may pick this up when it's on sale next.

But the key thing is - when they're ready. One does not preorder video games any more, there is too much potential for your money to be wasted on unfinished rubbish. And we have all those youtube and streamer people who show us what the games are like with no filters. So we see all the problems as they encounter them. Or we get interested in playing games we wouldn't have thought of getting.

Must give Battlefleet Gothic a good run sometime soon.

But first - Olympics ! Cricket !

Lots to watch. Will watch the Suicide Squad movie as well soon, that should be a cracker.

Friday, August 05, 2016

Just Chillin'


It's been 9 days since the last post. Don't worry about me - I didn't carry out the thoughts in the last post about turning the Macbook into a FrankenWindows machine, so I haven't been off having surgery to get my head retrieved from the pike in front of the Apple Store to be put back where it belongs.

No - Plan A for this week was to lay low and get some healing time in. Some rest time too as I'd pretty much come to the end of the batteries again. Saying that though, I did have a nice little burst of hyperactivity due to helping a new boss get up to speed but I could feel those extra batteries running out too.
I go like that, I seem to have a little bit in reserve available for when it's really needed that I can dip into ... up to a point. It's when I've burnt through that reserve that I need to escape for a little while.

One thing that has been good is that people have been asking after me. That does a lot for a sense of worth that can suffer with too much inattention. That's one thing about that new boss, I think he's appreciated me being a right hand man for him and he'd quite like me to stick around for a while. That suits me quite well because :

The place I'd been looking to jump across to around Xmas - no longer seems viable. The project is subject to the long screwdrivers and the personnel have changed. Actually one has improved but I still wouldn't want to work for him.
There don't appear to be other places looking for people ! Actually there have been but they haven't been interesting to me.

But that's work and I've been trying to avoid thinking about work this week.

What have I been up to ?

I've been happily addicted to a couple of games from a company called Paradox. One has been Stellaris, a space strategy game. I've been enjoying that one, it's the space strategy game for me for now. I have actually gone back into the old Moo2 again but that one reminded me of its diplomatic randomness. Races can be perfectly happy with you in one turn and will then declare war on you with no warning.

Yep. Stellaris has been pretty good. It has game mechanics that take away the boringness of middle game micromanagement, preserving the grand plan aspect of the game.

I've been drawn into their Hearts of Iron IV game too. This time it is World War 2 grand strategy where you control things from the division level. This one seems to have the micromanagement taken away too, which is always a good thing. It leaves you with a game that remains fun to play, fun to watch as the situation unfolds.

In my last playthrough, I was running Australia. The war in China continued while the rest of the world watched. Germany and Russia had a cold war where they just looked angrily at each other with Poland in the middle. The normal history of WW2 didn't happen, Paris didn't fall and the Germans and Italians were thrown back (with Aussie help). Japan never attacked America.

It's curious to see what can happen when you turn off the "go by what history said" setting.

I'm also curious that the Internet Spaceship game (Elite-Dangerous) seems somewhat dead to me now. After being happily hooked on it, I've not had any interest in playing it again. Maybe that's due to the impending No Man's Sky (which is having backlash on its hype at the moment). Perhaps.

It's not just been games ... I watched a recording of the recent Everest movie on Monday night and the boys and me went to see the new Jason Bourne movie on Wednesday.

Everest - I had been very curious about this movie. The wildlife documentaries or more the living in the wild documentaries have always had my interest. This movie, a tale of adventure at the top of the world, of danger, of tragedy, of those great visuals ... was dead to me. Sure the visuals were there (as they were in Revenant) but the story left me utterly cold (as with Revenant). I had no emotional engagement with any of the characters.

Bourne was better, although they really need to leave shaky cam behind in the 20th century where it belongs. It's a decent movie but it falls into the stereotypes established through the series : double crossing, technology used for tracking, silly car chases and that abominable shaky cam.

Watch Star Trek instead. Or Suicide Squad, that looks promising from all the trailers so far.

I'm watching the cricket instead now with the hotdog legs.

Actually they're not hotdog legs ... they have the old muscle tone back (for a while, my legs were so swollen that running made them bleed) and they're back to their normal size but there's still lots of damage on the surface. Less damage than a month or so ago but still quite a bit of damage. It's similar on my arms, improved but still looking like I've lost an encounter with a thorn bush.

That's the thing with my healing - it can be ridiculously easy to cause damage that takes a month or so to repair. It has improved over the course of this week though. Plans for helping it ?

Seeing the doctor. Sadly this hasn't happened. I'm still having lots of trouble getting to sleep. I can be yawning away in bed but my brain just won't shut down to sleep. And then I lose the hours between maybe 6am to noon. I was actually up in time today to call them but too late, no appointments available. Ho hum.

Wearing protective stuff. Sleep time is the enemy still. I'll let my guard down and attack the healing parts and that can set healing back in seconds what will take weeks to repair. So I've been wearing my old cricket whites (yes they still fit) to protect my legs and tubigrip on my arms. I still cheat though so not all fixed yet.

The games !!! Yep. I'll concentrate so deeply in the game that it keeps the hands busy and away from the damaged bits.

Keeping it clean - although I have to watch out here too because the outside of the skin is so delicate, being too aggressive with the cleaning can cause more damage.

And a bit of moisturiser too.

It is gradually healing though, despite my attempts to set it back more. And I was feeling the old hyperactive restlessness on Wednesday too which is a good sign that the energy is coming back.

Oh !

One thing about Bourne that meant I enjoyed it less than it deserved - the sound !!! The set up in the cinema was atrocious. The balance between bass and treble was all messed up, the volume was too loud. I like my loud music but I like to hear all of the music. What we had on Wednesday was too much bass, too much volume, leading to clipping that drowned out the other parts of the sound. The dialogue was still audible but ... you can do better Vue.

Or maybe I've been spoiled with the desktop speakers I picked up. They're actually really good ... (Edifier M1380). I'd actually describe them as being close to hifi quality. They only have one input (which makes them annoying for hifi use) but ... they sound great.

As I'm verifying by listening to and enjoying Youtube* videos for Ting Tings The Wrong Club, Tori Amos I Can't See New York, Air All I Need, Madonna's How High from the amazing Confessions album and one last one ?

*(yes, even with the bad sound quality Youtube usually gives you ! Gotta admit, the definition is not quite hifi level but that may be the source)

For all those who have been looking out for me while I've been quiet : I Really, Really, Really Like You (Carly Rae Jepsen). You're awesome :-).

Oh - just one more. Another angel with an incredible voice is Mindy Gledhill who came out on Facebook to give her fans a little bit of thanks. When it comes to voices like that, I have to say "I do Adore".

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Bring me the head of Sleepy

After having some frustration over the weekend, I've been having crazy thoughts.

Heretical thoughts.

Dangerous thoughts ...

Oh and here's a gratuitous shot of an Internet Spaceship.
Bit dark maybe. I thought I should try out what the new monitor and desk arrangements were like. Now my desk is clear, I can go back to a better posture position having the flightstick where the keyboard usually goes and the keyboard on the top deck.

Yep. More roomy.

It does look a hell of a lot better in flight but most of that is down to new monitor factor. Monitors burn out after a while. With the old Cathode Ray Tubes, it was literal burn out where the electrons being fired at the bits that made colour would burn away those bits that made the colour. Now it looks like burning out of the LED backlight. So a fresh backlight makes the colours all rich again.

Very shiny.

It looked great too as I had the ship flying through space towards its destination. The stars flinging themselves past the ship. Actually, not stars because you're in-system at this point travelling from the star to the planets. Perhaps space dust immolating itself on the warp field ? Being burnt away by the influence of the shields ? Little Space Fireflies flying along with you ? A case of overthinking on the behalf of the pilot perhaps ? Someone descending into space psychosis ?

Perhaps. It does look good. If a little less consistent on the frame rates because pushing pixels around at 1440p is tough for a mid level graphics card like what I have.

What are these dangerous thoughts I tempted you about ?

I am considering putting Windows 10 on my Macbook.

I know. Absolute heresy. If the MacFanBois here, they will hunt me down, burn me at my stake and before you know it, my head will be on a pike in front of the nearest Apple Store.

Why would I do this monstrosity ?

It comes from some of that frustration at the weekend. Apple devices are getting notorious for breaking when you put updates on them. They appear to be using this to counter falling sales. It's anti-consumer and Apple haven't figured out that consumers will desert the anti-consumer sellers after a while when the gloss rubs off. Consumers occasionally get smart and ignore the hype and marketing.

Ok :

Causes of frustration - being unable to run games like Darkest Dungeon on the Macbook. Like Elite. Like Planetbase. Like pretty much any game (there are exceptions that run) on the Macbook. The reason is that I keep it on 10.8.5 so I'm not forced into a downgrade of iTunes to version 11+.

And at the weekend it was getting in the way of me watching the Grand Prix, the cricket and World Endurance Championship ... simultaneously. The GP was on the desktop, the cricket was attempting to go on the laptop and WEC was on the telly. Laptop wasn't playing with the cricket particularly well. One reason is Sky using Silverlight, which wasn't cooperating with the Firefox browser. Switching to Safari mostly sorted that but ... unnecessary frustration.

Reasons for changing :
Windows 10 is actually really smooth. I'm impressed. It's stable too, I've only had one BSOD since switching and that's definite oddness (it happened after I tried to put the proper graphics drivers on - there's conflict there somehow). Putting Windows 10 on there would sort out all of the annoying software incompatibility problems.

Reasons for not changing :
Disk space - there is currently 80GB left free on the laptop with all my music ... better not clutter it up more.
Money - I'd need to buy a Windows licence ... these ain't cheap and I'm not a pirate.
It's unnecessary - the laptop's job is not to play games. That's why I maintain a good spec desktop.
MacOS X 10.8.5 is actually still pretty good - it's the upgrades that cause problems.
Pretty sure it wouldn't talk to my camera any more - there's a bit of software called Calmain (Canon Camera Access Library) which I can't acquire.

And the whole thing of it being pretty insane to consider changing the software a laptop runs on. There is so much of the proprietary in laptops that causes problems.

I think there were a bunch more reasons too.

Not those fan bois though. I'll just shout "Your mother uses an iPear !!!" at them and they will run away crying. Or I'll show the pictures of Pear computers that were in something I very vaguely remember (it's an imitation on Nickelodeon) (actually they're real ... wow) and they will run away screaming.
Oh and ... Pretty black Cookie Cutter spaceship.

Which you won't see on my laptop screen due to ... reasons. Which aren't anything to do with me not really wanting to play the game at the moment. I did two trading runs tonight which was probably more than enough. I think I'm kinda burned out on Elite at the moment, it has gone very samey and definitely very grindy where no real progression happens without a lot of work.

That might come back over the next week - I've been feeling burned out in general and next week looked like a good opportunity to take a break.

Hopefully I get some rest, repairs and recuperation in !

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Star Upgrades Beyond

I watched the new Star Wars last night !

Or was it Galaxy Quest (kidding aside, need to watch that movie again, it's a classic). Nope. Battle Beyond The Stars ? Another classic I haven't watched for too long. Fifth Element ? Multipass.

Star Trek Beyond is another excellent movie from the reboot franchise. Some like the reboots, some hate it. I kinda like what they've done with the place. Beyond borrows from previous Trek (with that much in the Trek universe, you cannot help but repeat some of what has gone before) but presents it in a whole new way.

Yep. I liked it.
I don't want to give any spoilers away though. If you enjoyed either of the reboot Star Trek or Into Darkness, I think you'll like this one.

I reckon the cast do a great job with it too. They're not the same as the legends of the past but they carry off their performances incredibly well. In my opinion.
I do miss that tremendous melodious baritone of the William Shatner though. His voice has a certain rhythm and rumble to it that is utterly unique and if I ever do the Voice Attack accompaniment thing for Elite, the William Shatner voicepack is the one I would get.

Last night wasn't all about the movie though. I went upgrading ... And didn't have enough time between that and film for proper munchies. Oops. Popcorn for tea is bad folks, don't follow my example.
Yes kitty.

Upgrades ? I've been feeling that my monitor has been dimming lately, which is a sign that the backlight is dying. That's the real death sign for a monitor. Oh and I kinda wanted something better too. The Samsung I had before was a bit naff. I've also gone for some new speakers which sound so much better than the portables I had before.

Size matters with speakers, small ones can sound good and the Cambridge Audio ones did. But bigger ones designed for the purpose do so much better with the overall sound.

What did I get ? Did I fall into temptation from salesmen ?
Maybe not, although I did end up spending more money than intended. Oh well. But I do have a better solution for me.

How to choose ? I look up reviews by professional sites but I don't really trust them. The disclosure can be a bit dodgy. Have they given the widget a good review due to placing ads ? Is their opinion swayed by built in What Sony bias ? Do they give the Oh Keep It After The Review freebies higher marks ? Nope. I go by what Amazon customers say. I don't think there is much curation there, or deletion of reviews that are outside the opinion of "buy our stuff", I don't believe Amazon care about that.

So if the Amazon customers give 1* reviews, those are the ones I look at. If there are no 1* or even 2* reviews, that tells me the quality is good enough that the kit won't break early and the performance meets the standard too. If you have a choice between 2 items of the same price, you're going to buy the better one aren't you ? Aren't you ? I hope you are !


Monitor - AOC 25" IPS panel 1440p. That means it's got more pixels than most which will definitely help with those graphic edits, it's smaller than the 27" which means its fits on my desk and the screen goes pretty much edge to edge making it easier to keep clean.

Speakers - Edifier M1380. Pretty standard desk speakers with subwoofer. Sounds good.

And I have a clean desk too for the first time in years. Feels odd. That monitor is super bright too, I may have to turn it down a bit ! I look forward to seeing what it does in Elite and other pretty games.

It didn't go without hitches though, when I first fired it up I got the monitor startup splash screen followed by ... black. Oh dear. I think I know why ... my graphics card has several outputs :

DVI-I - a good connection but not good enough for the 1440p.
DVI-D - looks exactly the same as the DVI-I ... should work, not tried yet.
HDMI - like on your dvd or bluray player. This worked just fine.

Lesson - if it doesn't work right away, there's hopefully a reason. It worked with that different connector for me so ... happy. Tired happy.

Stream is starting so I'm going to close here ...
That goes for you too. Oh and I felt like giving a little salute every time Anton Yelchin, he who played new Chekov, came on screen. I really liked his Chekov, he'll be missed. As will Leonard Nimoy, who has a little tribute in the movie. Apparently there is a tribute to Anton Yelchin too but I missed that ... a cinema large diet fizzy drink has a certain persuasiveness !

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Scorchy, scorchy, shopping and a meme

It's been un(un)seasonably warm here !

I'd show the picture I took of the car thermometer on Tuesday but I really need to dust off the glass cover for the instrument display. Oh and it also shows the car being in Drive when I took a picture. It also shows a speed of 0mph but ... it could get used against me so. No pic !
Ok. Maybe a different pic.

This week, getting into the car to go home from work I have seen temperatures of :
Monday - 25 degrees. Nicely warm.
Tuesday - 35 degrees. Yep. Plus 10 up on the day before. Not right. Definitely not right. English people don't do well with that kind of temperature.
Wednesday (and today) - back to a comfortable 25 degrees again.

We actually have rain now which is taking some of the heat out of the air.

I think the heat got to me on Tuesday because it saw me head off to the Mall to try and spend some money. What did that little green fella say ? Do ... or do not. There is no try. It does help if the shops want to sell you what you want to buy. What was on the list ?

First and more important - mouse. My Roccat mouse was dire. It didn't have the precision plus the scroll wheel was just really, really bad (it went unreliable and the button pressed when you didn't want it to). Roccat are now on my Do Not Buy list. There is plenty of competition out there. I now have a Logitech G402 which feels fairly good and that scroll wheel works well.

I like a good scroll wheel. And I should probably put the right drivers in for the mouse at some point. Dunno. Hasn't seemed necessary yet.

Second - new monitor. I dunno. My Samsung is ok but I can do better. Like a 27" IPS panel from AOC. I have my eyes on New Shinies. But ... the cheaper place (the retail one) does not have one available within 30 miles. Naff. So I'm keeping the Samsung for a bit longer, even with the white light bleed through that it has had on parts of the display.

Third - new speakers. I've been using my portable speakers for my desktop since the last ones blew up and they do a good job. But I would like to return them to their primary purpose of being portable speakers. I have my eye on a pair from Edifier as they have the least bad rep on Amazon.

Amazon is handy for checking out how kit really does as if it is unreliable, people will not hold back on giving 1* reviews with reasons. Turns out the competition with speakers at the £30 ish price point have problems with their kit having an early death or otherwise poor quality.

I had another look today as a "I will order online tonight and collect tomorrow" but apparently the monitors are gold dust. That's a good sign as it means they're probably worth the cash. I'd have gone to see the new Star Trek movie after too.

Oh well. I think I'll be on the cricket watching too. Or rain watching. We shall see !

Meme ? Meme :

Four names I go by:
1. Sleepy

2. Dwagonman
3. Keela
4. Iceangel
Four places I've lived:
1. Bristol
2. Northern Ireland (classified location)
3. Nottingham
4. Ruskington
Four things I love to watch on TV (right now):
1. Dark Matter. Oh yes.
2. Deadliest Catch
3. Cricket !!!!
4. A Town Called Eureka (reruns)
Four Places I have visited:
1. Portsmouth
2. Orlando
3. Kennedy Space Centre
4. Sagittarius A*. Yep. Really.
Four things I love to eat:
1. PIZZA !!!
2. Teacakes
3. Lemon Sherbet Popcorn
4. Hot dogs.
Favorite drinks:
1. Coke/Pepsi
2. Hot Chocolate - although I react to it now.
3. Strawberry milkshake - been a while, I probably react to that too.
4. Actually developing more of a taste for tea too. Cornish brew.

Meme done !

PS Other news :
Me - recovering still but hyperactivity from the start of the week has burned off and my outsides are improving but still frustrate me.
Dad and Ben - no news. Taking this as a good thing but I must give the parents a call soon.
Stellaris - is an awesome game.
Hearts of Iron 4 could be too. Not acquired it yet.
Fingers crossed for England in the cricket tomorrow.