Thursday, June 22, 2017

Steam sale is upon us !

Hide the credit cards !

Prepare space for the new games !!

Yes those games !!!

The ones we'll never play !!!!
For those not knowing about the computer games, Steam is an online digital game (and other things) distribution system. It's come to dominate the market. Most games sold now are either self published or come under the Steam system in one way or another. So when the Steam sale comes along, it's a big thing.

My games collection on Steam is already fairly hefty (with some games I've never even installed too - oops. They came as part of bundles mostly ...) but there will be a few more appearing this time around.

Let's see ... what are the highlights on the list at the moment. Going in the order that Steam is showing them to me :

Nier Automata - a fighty android game with quirks that look like it would make an interesting game. I've only heard good things about this game but ... It's a similar style to Mass Effect Andromeda and Deus Ex Mankind Divided, both of which I need to actually play and complete. (Halfway through Mass Effect, barely started Deus Ex MD). And it's only 30% off. It stays in the wishlist.

Stardew Valley - a farming game with huge amounts of charm. I've watched 1 and a half playthroughs of this and it got me interested. 40% off, although I'd be buying partly for a friend, partly for picking up the soundtrack.

Watch Dogs 2 - may buy at some point but at a base price of £45 and 50% off, hell no. I like my games but I don't like to be ripped off. Refusing to pay inflated prices means you can buy more games. Same goes for Quantum Break and Dying Light.

Destination Ares looks fun - it's an Early Access game which has you managing a ramshackle colony ship. Am curious but ... I rarely indulge in Early Access, better to wait until games are actually ready. Space Pirates and Zombies 2 is another promising Early Access game.

Bounty Train - set in 19th America with you being a privateer operator of a train. Bit like Elite on rails with quests and a proper storyline and variation. Looks very interesting. Perhaps £9.50 in sale price is a bit rich though.

80 Days ! Act out the Willy Fogg story as you attempt to make your way around the world in under 80 Days. I'd highly recommend the Michael Palin series about this, where he tried it in the modern world (without cheating with aircraft). he brought his charm and wit to that series and it's a bit of magic. Ahh - the game, currently £2.80 and the cheapest I've seen it. More interested in it on iPad though.

Halcyon 6 Starbase Commander - lots of depth on this one. It's a mix between starbase managing, simple starship combat and simple away team fights. Emphasis on simple. Also looks like fun on the videos. Curious about it for 50% off.

Blood Bowl 2 for 66% off ? Maybe .... although Blood Bowl 1 is one of few games that makes me ragequit it. Games Workshop dice based games are like that. Same comment goes for Mordheim - promising but daft mechanics and still a bit pricier than what I'd want to spend on it.

Duskers - super atmospheric post galaxy apocalypse game in space where your interaction with the derelicts is through the limited sensors of drones which break down very rapidly. One for super high tension. 50% off for £7.50. If I were rich maybe.

Starbound is 33% off. This one's on my buy list :-D.

And then there are some more like Rimworld (no discount, no buy), Enter the Gungeon (looks fun, dunno if it's my type of game), Rezrog (too new for discount), Starship Corporation (needs more time in the oven), The Long Dark (good prospect, now feels meh)
Yep. I have the games about world domination too.

So what'll I get and maybe get ?

Stardew Valley, Starbound and Motorsport Manager's GT DLC are certainties.

Icarus Starship Command Simulator is a maybe, as are Duskers, Halcyon 6, Bounty Train and 80 Days. Maybe Europa Universalis IV too, although I think that one would scare me with its depth.

And games I'd heartily recommend but have already are : Stellaris, Motorsport Manager, XCom 2, Deus Ex Human Revolution, Transistor and Elite Dangerous for 50% off.

Although maybe not spending anything just yet because in the first few hours of the Steam sale, the shop front crawls to a halt as it can't handle the traffic.

Oh and ....
Cya !

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Too darn hot

Very hot in GB today. Well. Not as hot as it is in Phoenix today (some aircraft are grounded !) but we're not really equipped to deal with extremes of temperature here.

Actually, we don't do that well in cold weather either but that's mainly down to people being idiots on the roads and politicians being idiots with winter fuel allowances.

Anyway. This post is meant totally in jest, to poke a bit of humour at the hot situation here at the moment. Take none of it seriously ! This could go absolutely anywhere (there are no plans here!) And I hope there are more than a few chuckles in there.
I saw something horrid today.

Someone melted. In the street. It's true !!! They had the misfortune to be standing near a storm drain too. Poof ! Down the drain. I don't think we'll see them again. All that is left is a pile of clothes and a forlorn pair of boots. I think someone was attempting to phone the family but the mobile left behind in one of the pockets was scorching and .... welded itself to their hand.

Samaritan and phone are now waiting for an ambulance.

Good luck to them ! A white van man over there is looking very puzzled at his melted tyres. I hope the ambulance fares better.

I narrowly avoided a stampede earlier. It started with the sound of an ice cream van .... I think the ice cream man is now in a PTSD ward.

We have been warned away from going near Currys up at the Mall. A group from a council house estate have set up a primitive dome (with lots of fans) with a sign : "Aircondome". I hear the conditions are : "Two men enter !!! One man leaves with an air conditioner."

The trains are not moving. The rails have melted. Trains are stuck to the rails. One train even disappeared into the earth when the rails and the concrete underneath melted under the weight. There are sad tones of mobile phone ring tones coming from the deep. Yep. Crazy Frog has been buried.

Ice cubes are now more valuable than gold. More than platinum even !

A fight broke out at the local coffee shop when they announced that they were down to the last 5 cooler coffees.

Car parks with tarmac are now more hazardous than quicksand. I have actually seen with my own eyes (actually true, albeit 19 years ago) a computer sinking into the hot, melted tarmac. When they prised it out of the ground, there were four mysterious squares. Like the crop circle of the car park.

Aircraft are being grounded. They've been able to solve the tyre on tarmac problem but it is too hot for the engines plus the metal boarding ramps are scorching.

People have been evacuated from work due to the fire alarms activating. The sensors believed it was "OMG IT'S BURNING !" temperature.

Swimming pools are suffering extreme overcrowding.
Sardines are now laughing at the thought of these people crammed into the pools.

A UFO was spotted in orbit briefly. It scanned the country with a heat beam and the UFO is not to be seen any more. Psychically sensitive people went into a trance and chanted "Axlt Bbooolm". No one knew what they meant but the extreme heat rash that erupted on them suggested they were picking up extreme temperature.

On that .... a grocery store selling mercury thermometers was evacuated after the tops of the thermometers started flying loose. They were bursting on the pressure from the mercury filling up the tubes. A Hazmat team has been called to clean up the mercury but ... those melted tyres again. I think they're also asking for help from extreme conditions rescue personnel.

Mount Snowdon has become an active volcano and erupted again.
This fella looks cheerful but he may be the last of his kind. The erupting Snowdon incinerated the gift shop at the summit (Yep ! A mountain with a gift shop - and a railway) where he came from.

A swimmer was rescued from attempting to cross the channel. The lobsters had been taking turns to pinch them to test how well the swimmer was cooked in the boiling waters of the channel.

Splinter groups of our more extreme political parties are blaming the Venusians while others are campaigning for an orbital parasol to give us some shade.

Christian Priests are giving up their heavy robes for the lighter, airier garb of Muslim Imams in a show of religious solidarity.

Reservoirs have emptied overnight. The Lake District is to be renamed Death Hills. The people who attempt Land Speed records are looking at the dried out Lincolnshire Fens as their new flat racing ground.


It's getting bad here and I am sure there are worse stories to come.

Hang in there and I hope you're close to air conditioning or fans !

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Hot Racing

First up,
Happy Father's Day to all the dads out there ! I've just given mine a call. He's doing all right, which is better than usual ! He's been breaking more things, including his arm which just came out of plaster. Hope he'll be ok.

We both tend to bull on through our problems and just do things anyway, which tends to aggravate the problems. Well, I do when I summon up the motivation to start. That's a really bad habit. I need to actually initiate more jobs that need to be done (like the washing is out of the machine but I need to hang it up).

I will go back to the doctors ... soon. What I really need to do is stop helping the feet by aggressive cleaning, it just does more damage. There's a lot of scar tissue on my feet I think and trying to clean that up sees me going too far and causing damage. But it is getting there, ever so slowly and not helped by me attacking it.

Enough about me though. Too hot ! Far too hot !

I was out again on Friday for a fun games and dinner session and I think that pretty much finished me off. Wasn't feeling at all well yesterday. Not ill, just out of sorts and not really wanting to do much apart from watch Le Mans. (Hence the washing going on today instead of yesterday). I did manage to head out for pizza, although that would have put the kybosh on attempting to sleep normally.

One year, I'll actually stay up for the whole of the Le Mans race. I've done a couple of all nighters this year thanks to a Stellaris game that has a magic "just a few more months to next tech" factor. But I wasn't particularly feeling interested in playing games yesterday, instead catching up on a few videos.

I'll try and keep up with some onrunning series but a lot of the time, I'll relegate the playlists to a slow mode, where I give up trying to keep up with releases and just watch a few at a time in my own time. So what am I watching at the moment ? It sometimes starts as evaluating a game, sometimes because I really like the presenter/player, sometimes because watching the game is more enjoyable than playing it.

Watch Dogs 2 with Hannah is on in the background at the moment - it's an open world game that tries to have as much fun as possible with its setting and does what it does quite well. Not bought it ... yet.
Rezrog (with Katherine of Sky) looks very promising as a game. Could be odd mechanics though. It's a dungeon crawler game where you take one single hero through to beat the dungeon.
Dungeons II with Aavak is a dungeon builder game. I think I got this as a freebie but this time, it's evaluating the game. I haven't actually watched one of these videos yet.
Factorio (with Katherine of Sky again) is a factory building game. You crash land on a planet with rather nasty wildlife and have to build a factory to research your way into a rocket. I've tried starting this and it intimidates me ... Or is that trying to get one of the tough achievements on my first run through.
Northgard with LadyShelab is one that interests me as a simple/depth real time strategy inspired by the old Settlers games. Another I probably won't buy but it is interesting ...
Transport Fever with Shenryyr is a new take on doing planes, trains, automobiles and boats. Not buying this one because the game has too many bugs but I'm enjoying listening and watching.

Some of them have that gift of making the game fun and interesting, it does help if there is a wonderful voice there like the warm voice of Katherine of Sky and the about-to-break-into-song voice of Radderss on the streaming. There might even be a break into laughter (and lots of swearing) Chrissa stream later.

On the gaming for me front there is Stellaris (of course). I've abandoned my boring pacifist far too strong and dominating the galaxy race for a race of pure evil.
Yes. We burned the neighbour's long lost holy book before invading them and replacing all their leaders with our people. Our next plan is to confiscate the tea and force them to have coffee instead (you can't actually do this in game). I may have overdone it again on this one, my race has a silly powerful economy although I have affected that somewhat by choosing a ring galaxy (has all the planets concentrated into a band, means more star systems under your control)

Le Mans ! It was an epic race this year. Much different to previous Le Mans, where the competition was between the manufacturers of the top cars. The result of the entire event was in doubt this year after much mechanical gremlin trouble was had.

Toyota brought 3 cars, 2 of which dramatically failed on track within 30 minutes of each other and couldn't be dragged back to a garage where the third Toyota was being mended. They got the third stricken Toyota out again and it finished 9th after losing 2 hours.
Porsche brought 2 cars, 1 of which lost 90 minutes to having a broken front end fixed. (It's where the electric motor lives). The second Porsche broke down within 2 hours of the finish. Very dramatic again. At the time, a LMP2 (fast prototype, not hybrid) car was leading ....

And was overhauled within 30 minutes of the finish. But that wasn't the closest finish ... An Aston Martin and Corvette of GTE Pro were locked in battle right up to the final lap, where the Corvette ran out of tyre grip and binned it off the track. Pressure tells ... and the result said Aston Martin win.

Another epic Le Mans. The trick is to ignore most of it and wake up for the drama. There is a story that unfolds through these races. Like the two broken cars that came out again to win. Like an Audi last year (I think !) that had a major accident coming back on three wheels .... which was repaired and out again before the crash barriers were fixed. Like last year's Toyota disaster where the car leading by a lap failed with 5 minutes to go.

Winning for 23 hours 55 minutes does not win a 24 hour race ...

Huge cheers again for the entertainment this year around. I must get my passport updated (and my outsides fixed) so I can go to the actual event.

I didn't manage to stay awake this time. Again. I had mixed feelings there because I knew I would have problems due to the pizza if I tried for sleep, I just emerged when the problems were about to become ... a problem. So to speak. This year I went for nappage at 3.30am and emerged at about 9.30am. Caught up via the Twitters, there are a lot of active Twitter accounts that capture the most important events.

I'm off work again tomorrow, which should help my feet out if I let them.

It's been a good weekend. I resisted going to Weston air show, which sounds like it was a good idea because the M5 road there was supposedly at car park stations. Le Mans was even more epic organised unpredictable chaos than usual and Friday's games and dinner was extremely enjoyable.

(We'll just ignore the not feeling great yesterday !)

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Collections of Tech

After mentioning various bits of tech and how I've been using them to create the last couple of posts, I thought I'd talk a bit more about them ....

The warts, the good, the simples, the annoying, the too complicated to actually work ....

Lots ! Maybe.
Let's start with Comic Con. Two bits of tech there - the phone and the camera.

The phone doesn't do very well at Comic Con. I think it's because there are far too many other phones out there asking for the attention of the limited cell towers, so none of them get any data out and they burn through their batteries trying to get that signal through. You'd probably be better leaving phones in the car, although their cameras are doing better and better now.

Talking of cameras .... I really like my camera. I like it more and more the more I use it. The only problem I have with it is that it doesn't talk to my computers, although that isn't a serious issue because I can just take the memory card out and transfer pictures over that way.

It's a Canon Ixus 265 (disclosure note - I paid for it ! No freebies alas). It's an instant compact digital camera, a few years old now. It replaced a Nikon Coolpix from much longer ago, which would murder batteries at an alarming rate. The Canon is far better (modern efficiency), with the batteries lasting through Comic Con plus half of Lords. One bit of daftness though, it stays on 3 bars out of 3 for a very long time, then goes through 2 and 1 bar very quickly.

It's an excellent camera. Most of the Lords pics were taken at long range, maximum optical zoom (there's a digital zoom too) with the camera braced on my knee. It works pretty well at that, hopefully the picture quality in the Lords post shows that. There must be some kind of stabilisation system in there that stops motion blur. You can also control it from an iOS thingy or Android widget (like my phone) with it hooking up via a wifi signal that the camera broadcasts. Pop the phone on a tripod, retreat to a suitable distance, take picture.

The wifi signal is also how I get the pictures off the camera for broadcasting to Twit/Book on the day. Very effective, works well although it does take a few seconds for the phone to pick up the camera. Far better than the attempt at using Near Field Comms, this didn't want to play at all.

All this work does take it out of the batteries though. The phone battery was down to 30% by the middle of the day. Better than an Iphone but still ... Pretty low.

I now have 3 battery packs. If you get one of these, pay attention to 2 things :
Whether it has charge level lights (very important !)
The mAh (milliAmp hour) rating of the battery.

The charge level lights tell you how much juice to expect out of it, plus they'll tell you if your battery pack is a waste of time or not. One of my 3 battery packs is something useless by the Kit label. It claims 4000mAh but barely put 10% charge into my phone before it died. There are no lights on that to tell you if it has any charge.

That mAh thing is a rating of how much energy is in the battery pack and it's useful to look up your phone to see how much % phone battery charge you can expect out of the pack. My phone is now a Samsung Galaxy S7 with a 3000mAh battery and I picked up a Pebble battery from Lords which claims "2.5 smartphone recharges !" from a 3900mAh battery. Nope. One and a bit at best, on the day the precharged pack took the phone from 30% up to the high 80s. Happy with that. It should do better when I'm not using the phone for Twit/Book, Discord and the camera.

The charge level lights are most important though. Blinky lights are best.

Hmm - what else !

I'm in one of those frames of mind again where I get random thoughts that then disappear as quickly as they arrive.

My old iPhone has been pressed into service as an iPod. It's quite happy doing that in the car again now, after not doing so well when I had two phones connected via Bluetooth in the last car. New car better. Yeah, Bluetooth has impressed me as a connection method. It's far more effective and reliable than the FM retransmitters I used in the cars before. Doesn't get jammed out by commercial radio for a start. If my Airport Express widget that I use for network audio streaming becomes non-viable, I will buy a Bluetooth widget instead. Sorted.

My other phone has a bit of trouble though. It loses text messages ...

This is very bad.

The fix seems to be to clear the cache data and then I start receiving text messages again. For any Google Hunters, it's a Samsung Galaxy S7 having problems receiving text messages and the fix has been to clear the cache data partition. Google will show you sites with the instructions !

Laptop - I've been starting to investigate my next laptop .... I'm actually investigating whether I need a desktop upgrade but I think that can wait. The desktop needs performance, which I'm happy with at the moment. The laptop needs hard disc space and is down to 55GB free out of 250. Because I can't replace the hard disc with a bigger one (it's Apple), filling up the drive with too much music is what would trigger an upgrade. That's a while off because my music library is only up to 95GB.

Only ? :-D.

The next laptop will be something different. Microsoft are going in bad directions at the moment with Windows 10. It started out as an excellent system, a worthy upgrade but it's been getting worse with each forced update (Anniversary ed, Creators update). It is less stable now. Apple are worse, I can no longer talk to devices from the Macbook which it was happy to talk to before. Shame on you Apple. I will not be buying anything more from Apple.

It'll be a Linux machine, which loses some compatibility but offers similar enough applications to the norm to make that not a problem. The main problem is games .... but I rarely play games on the laptop. Music and connectivity to the phone might be an issue that can be worked around through alternate software.

The desktop has to stay anchored to Windows due to games.

Any more tech ?

There's always room for more tech. Later !

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Off to Lords !

This has become an annual pilgrimage now, although it nearly didn't happen this year.

The Interservices Twenty 20 tournament is something I've attended for a good few years now (I have lost count ...). It involves teams from Army, Navy and Air Force and is in a triangular format where each team plays each other. This year, Navy took on the Air Force first, with the losers staying on to face the Army. Then the last game would be winners of the first vs the Army.
Lords was looking fabulous as per usual, that new Warner stand over there looks the business, joining the more traditional Lords Pavilion.
Real piece of history over there. Oh and as per always, click for bigger on the pictures, these are all taken on my decent camera (Ixus 265) which gives very impressive picture resolutions. I must get its second battery charged up again ...
Camera zooms well ? Ha - this was taken with the camera at maximum zoom, camera rested on my knee to minimise the movement ... Oh wait ! The cricket - Navy bowlers and tight fielding were keeping a good rein on the Air Force batsmen who were often spectacular (Swipe above !) but ineffective (Miss ! above). Air Force did eventually get going late on to set a target of 151.
Navy innings was a tale of two ends ... One opener was blasting his side to a win that was looking easy, the other end was horridly bogged down. (Been there, it happens). This game was really tense. It went right down to the wire, the last over, the last ball. Our opener got all the way to 99 not out, we thought he had reached the century but alas it was not to be with the final run being marked down as a leg bye (an extra run off the pads instead of the bat which isn't scored to the batsman).
Result - a tie with the Navy being given the result by virtue of losing fewer wickets. Next up - the Royal Air Force take the field again against the Army (with a short interlude for quick cricket for the kids and lunch hunting for me - it was a rather lush chicken burger).
And this was one of a few occasions where the sun threatened to emerge from behind the clouds. We got all of the expected play in, despite a very light amount of occasional drizzle which was enough to get a few spectators moving but didn't cause any excitement for the ground staff.
This game saw a quite cagey start with the two openers falling for 1 each before the numbers 3 and 4 came in and well and truly turned the tide. They kept pace with each other with the fella above soon hitting his way to an excellent 81 and his side to 175 for 3. A bit too much for the Air Force, who's innings can be summed up by :
Yep. They didn't have much of an answer for the Army's superior bowling and fielding and wickets continually fell leaving them well and truly in third at 102 all out. Their number 3 got half the runs and half the wickets. Star of the day. Cue the marching band for the next interval.
And another refreshments trip around the ground for me. This time it was to a lovely little tea shop underneath the new Warner Stand.
To the final game ! Army take the field with the Navy batting and the hero of the first game quickly departs cheaply.
Some excellent skill from the Navy batsmen nudged them up to a defendable 125. It was going to be a tight second half ...
And on to the final battle ...
The star of the last game tried to get the score moving quickly with some solid hits ... but in the end the hit above was just not quite solid enough. Caught on the boundary for 36.

This game went right down to the final over too. We thought the Navy had it with their tight bowling and far better fielding than last year.
However, with a 6 hit off the penultimate ball, the Army came away with the title this year after a thrilling victory.

Another good year for the IST20 tournament. 2 very close, exciting games. Exciting hitting with some spectators looking for helmets. Decent atmosphere from a crowd whittled down somewhat by the threat of rain which mostly stayed away. We had an element of the crowd chanting "Another Dot Ball" as the Navy bowlers were keeping things tight. It was glorious.

So the Army took the spoilers on the day, with a team effort in the field capped off by the batsmen thumping the ball to all parts.

But it's not all about the cricket on these day. I didn't actually buy anything in Westfield after the game but I was very tempted ....
Oh yes. Maybe when it's cheaper but ... oh yes. And ....
They have a Death Star ...

Saturday, June 03, 2017

Comic Con Adventures !

Was this really last week ? Feels like the week has flown by !

But I'll write about this week some other time. First .... Pika-Friend wants to greet you !
This character was bouncing happily on the way in. I think they were anticipating a fun time.
Comic Con in London is held there, in the Excel arena. A good place, although the climate conditions (and the sheer number of people) makes for a tough day due to heat. Wonder what it's like with a less popular show ? The Comic Cons have got pretty big now. Lots of things on offer :
The cute t-shirts as always, we didn't buy anything from Genki Gear this time around but they did have some good stuff on show. (I'd just bought the best already !)
We had plushies inspired by the Stardew Valley game. I've thought about picking this one up but I'm not convinced I'll stick with it to be honest. I have enjoyed watching the Aavak and Metaselene series of this though.
Pretty trinkets ....
More pretty trinkets ....
Wonderfully weird art ...
Gorgeous cosplay ...
Darth Vader !!! The celebrities seemed more accessible this time around and not hidden away behind screens. Still loadsamoney for autographics though.
There was also his mate BB-8 ...
In several forms ... Oh wait ! Darth wasn't BB-8's mate ...
Perhaps this fella :-).
There was some truly wonderful cosplay on show there, including this lady and her dress arranging minion.
Not that Minion.
I'd love to know where this character came from.
I loved the dragonboat and its passenger.

This alien costume was a piece of wonder ...
But we thought we should escape before the Photo Police arrested me for the crime of taking blurry photos ... However ! We did escape with loot :
The last one ! Oh and .... check this out :
No. Not the ancient sofa that could do with recovering and a good clean. The Nanoblock BB-8 !

I also took away a Nanoblock Cookie Monster, Mass Effect posters plus a couple of Star Wars themed t-shirts.

We had a great day out ! Loved it. I was knocked out for a day or so due to (being old and maybe leftovers of the bugs) and all the energy expended but ... LOVED IT !