Archive for the ‘ My Three Cents ’ Category

A Nerd and His Bike

“Every time I see an adult on a bicycle, I no longer despair for the future of the human race.”
-H.G. Wells

If there is one thing that every kid wants to learn is to ride a bike. I was that kid and many of my friends were as well, you were cool if you had a bike in the neighborhood I resided at for the majority of my childhood. The main reason was that us kids lived next to the hill we called “Devils Peak” and whoever could ride to the top of the hill and race back down without crashing or getting hit with a car was given a plastic attachment to put in the tire spokes, making any ordinary bike sound as fierce as a motorcycle (because that was cool too).
Now I’m 19 and I still enjoy using human-powered vehicular transportation. Many people that know me (and likely other people) wonder why I don’t have a car at my age; I don’t have a license, therefore I have no choice but to ride a bike to get to and from work. I don’t mind at all, even in 20 or 90 degree weather because the benefits exceed what some would call “burdensome”.

So I have devised a list of things that makes cycling a better alternative to driving cars. (And it has nothing to do with carbon emissions or any kind of Global Warming issue–I’ll leave that to Rush Limbaugh)

  • Better Health- Increased cardiovascular endurance, stamina, strength, and improved balance. In 30 years down the line you could be known as “Thunder Thighs”. (“Ya’, buns and thighs.”)
  • Relieves Stress- Regardless of the main reason you mounted yourself on two wheels you’ll get to where you need to go feeling relaxed and happily energized, giving you a dose 100% self-esteem.
  • Makes You Feel Like A Pokemon Trainer
  • Burns Calories- You could lose around 11 pounds a year if you cycled for 30-60 minutes everyday. It also increases your metabolic rate.
  • No Gas- (that reason could win any argument)
  • Less Maintenance- Far less than any Pinto or Smart Car.
  • FREE PARKING
  • Road Advantage- In a worldwide crisis (or the Zombie Apocalypse) traffic will slow to a halt and those stuck in their cars will have to walk the rest of the way, being subject to dangers and flesh eating creatures. Those on bikes will be able to maneuver their way around town, dodging critical impasses and traversing where no car has gone before.

My bike–or otherwise known as Betty.

Many people think and say that those who ride bikes are lame and wear funny hats, but I have come to conclude that they have never experienced the true joy of riding a bike (or aren’t aware of proper safety equipment). Just to say to those who do think so, just remember; I’ll be 85 years old and still moving like Jagger.

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAWWWWWWWWW YYYYYYYYYYYYEEEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!!!!

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Minecraft: Puny Edition

There I was, surfing through the web in a desperate attempt to find a good game to play. I had grown out of Neopets, Dragonfable was getting boring, flash games on Kongregate were nearing their end, and nothing else would fulfill my needs–then it happened. I stepped on a Lego getting out of my chair (which was quite painful) and I sat back down to mend my throbbing heel. Inspiration struck and I searched online for something that could allow me to build Virtual Lego models to decrease the chances of a similar incident I just suffered later in the future, minutes later I found a site which talked about the Lego Digital Designer and a particular comment in the bottom of the page caught my eye.
This is nothing compared to Minecraft.”
Oh really I thought to myself therefore preparing to test this theory. Google brought me to the website and the link to try the Classic Version beheld before me. That was when my life changed forever…

Okay, that was a bit exaggerated. I did fall in love pretty quickly though, only taking me about a week to pre-order it. I’ve spent countless hours digging for diamond, bashing some zombies into oblivion, witnessing the horror of The Nether, and creating mansions of brick and wood. When I heard about it’s release on the mobile platform I was absolutely enthralled because I knew that I was able to spend countless more hours playing anywhere in the world I wanted. So then I borrowed an iPod and began my quest in Pocket Edition.

I started with a smile and I left distraught ready to question Mojang’s integrity. I knew of course that there wasn’t a way possible at the time to get the entire Minecraft experience on an iPod or any Android phone for that matter, but the lack of crafting missed the mark so many were expecting the game to hit. The main reason for Minecraft’s popularity and success would have to be it’s crafting mechanics and the survival aspect that made it challenging and extremely fun. Pocket Edition only injected more life into it’s free classic mode available on the website, but charging us iOS users seven bucks for it. (Android users too, but they don’t count.)
Before I could complain Mojang reassured that the glorious Survival update would come, when the day came I was up and ready to divulge in the Mini-Minecraft world again. This time the results were better than expected and the future of Pocket Edition grew brighter–however crafting is still planned at a later date. Along with the addition of mobs, animals, and health, tools were also added in the mix. The pick, sword, axe, shovel, and sheers are available for use with no risk of wear and tear. New blocks have also appeared such as doors and fences, but doesn’t even begin to surmount to the amount you can get on the PC.
Another feature that has been implemented is flying…if it were actually flying. After the update and checking the new reviews a large amount of people praised the mechanic saying “I can fly now!! Hooray!” or “Imma Supa’ man flyin’ and snatchin’ up yo sheep.”.
I cannot stress enough that it is not flying, but floating. Double-jump and you are now Marty Mcfly on a hover-board. The only way to gain altitude is to (quite literally) jump off the tallest peak.

I always try to correct myself from making it what it really isn’t, finding comfort in calling it “Puny Edition”. Don’t get me wrong though, I am aware that Mojang is planning a lot more updates to make it as good as it’s big brother, but for now it suffices as a great game that will last well until then.

As much as I’d hate to admit it Minecraft has to be the best PC game I have ever played. (Yes–better than Combat Evolved.) If you haven’t bought it or played it yet–go here. Now. (www.minecraft.net)

Conquer the world--one block at a time

Gathering The Magic

A whole Multiverse of trouble.

If someone were to ask what the best card game that ever existed would be I would respond with a grin and say boldly “Magic the Gathering”. For those of you who have never heard of it (or have and simply paid no attention to it), Magic the Gathering is a card game consisting of 2 to 10+ players (depending on how intense of a game you want); each player represents a “Planeswalker” or a being who possesses extraordinary magical powers allotting them to deploy spells, artifacts, and (sometimes) dangerous creatures depicted on their own individual cards. Like many other strategic card games each player has a deck with a minimal amount of 60 cards, while it’s possible to create a larger deck with no maximum size it is frowned upon (and from my experiences it’s not exactly the greatest idea in the book). There are a variety of different deck types with different strategies for each one: Beatdown, Burn, Aggro, Goblin, Combo, and Control are some of the many available to create and customize to your heart’s content. The cards follow 5 basic colors or “Mana Types” (White, Blue, Black, Red, and Green).
Every deck of mine has had some kind of Graveyard play, either from sacrificing creatures and zombies to pump my other weaker creatures then bring them back or overwhelm my opponent with a horde of zombie tokens. (I love me some Zombies). Mana is the primary resource for playing spells typically drawn from lands, but it can also be generated by non-land permanents and spells as well. I have a feeling that if I continue to explain the rules of the game and it’s gameplay mechanics this would probably be the longest blog post in modern history, so I decided to provide a handy little link to quench your curiosity (http://wiki.mtgsalvation.com).

The massive amount of cards makes every game different and I predict that I will be at an old age and still be playing at the nearest Magic distribution center. As big as it may be there are many who believe that the game is stupid and appeals only to immature teenagers and 50 year-old virgins who fail to escape from their grandmother’s basement, I must assure you that not only is it fun and a great social tool, but also exercises your brain and increases your mental health. 😀
May sound like I’m releasing hot air (…or foreign characters–for you more technical beings), but it’s true. The game can be played by all ages…except maybe those who are younger than 16 or so only because of the artwork that some display, which could cause some uneasy feelings in parents.

My love for the game is more than just playing it, each and every card and character released has a story to it that connects it to the main plot line Magic the Gathering centralizes on.

*Pop quiz: which came first, the story or the cards?

You would be surprised what the answer is if you knew nothing about it. I was amazed too and it doesn’t seem plausible that all these cards originated from one massive story. Of course many cards were created to fit into it and therefore expanding the story even farther and deeper into it’s mythology, there’s no other game like it (BUT still not better than Halo, sorry folks.) and that’s why I am loyal to the game regardless of others opinions. More hours and dollar bills have gone into Magic than I can count, honestly I’ve seen pay checks quite literally transmogrify into these cardboard objects in order to satisfy my cravings and obsessive desires to become the very best (“…that no one ever was–to catch them is my request…”).
For now my Magic antics has subsided at the moment, I miss attending  tournaments every other Friday, but casual play here and there keeps me from collecting dust. Working does a terrible number on your priorities and the welcome into adulthood was anything from warm. (I think I can hear one of my fathers proverbs echoing in my skull.)
The Magic community I feel might one day gain the attention of the movie business which could mean Hollywood could someday redeem itself from their past spin-off failures if they did a good enough job, the problem with that is the exact plot of the film. It sounds completely ludicrous to make a movie based on a card game, but it wouldn’t be any different than making one based on a board game. (*cough* Battlefield *cough* Monopoly *cough*) The other problem would be to which storyline the plot would follow. Let’s say I were to do the movie I would graciously base it on Innistrad and the story surrounding the Planeswalker Sorin Markov and the rise of Avacyn the angel.
To avoid spoilers I will stop there.
I wouldn’t mind however if the possible plot would be all the Planeswalkers in the Multiverse joining forces to destroy the dragon Nicol Bolas who threatens to destroy their planes..or something more epic if they prefer. (In a diabolical scheme I would make J.J. Abrams learn everything about Magic the Gathering, train him in the art of the game, and convince him to begin production on the film.) Haters gonna’ hate.

I suggest to any curious fellow who has the chance to pick up a cheap deck or observe a tournament needs to do so, I’ve had loads of fun playing the game and it’s quite easy to learn, but years to master. Who knows…you might even make a living out of it. (<this guy tried to)

The Curtain Unvailed

My faith in 343 Industries was ambiguous to say at the least, and for months I felt like Halo would never be the way it was again…
…Oh how I was wrong.

Behold the Spartan IV Program: Bigger, better, faster, stronger, and ready to kick some Forerunner butt.
Today the first ever look into the actual game-play of Halo 4 was released which showed the amazing work 343 put into the new game. From the words of Kiki Wolfkill–the executive producer of the Reclaimer Trilogy–Halo 4 is being built from the ground up. New sound, new music, new effects, and a completely revamped engine. Not to mention new multiplayer maps such as “Wraparound”, a Forerunner complex that seemed to function as some energy factory…whatever it is I don’t care because it looks incredible. While showcasing the new maps I was able to glimpse at some of the new armor customizations and to my guess this time around we could actually change more than just the basic pieces that we’ve had to live with for years, I remember reading or perhaps hearing that some kind of perk system would be integrated within multiplayer gameplay to the likes of Call of Duty or some-other-game-which-slips-my-mind.

I was left in awe after seeing what I saw, it was four minutes of pure joy and excitement and the nerd-gasm I had was enough to scare anyone who happened to be in the room. (TMI?) I want to say that everyone should disregard what I said in my previous post, what I have seen has restored my faith in 343 Industries and the fact the Frank O’ Connor still has a large part in the development gives me a greater reassurance that this will be what we are all wanting from Halo 4.
Nevertheless I still have my doubts, even after all I have seen to this point, I have a faint outlook that even after all of the overhauling they may still miss the very aspects that we really want. (Will this be the “pretty-boy” of the series?) For example the arsenal improvisation mechanics that will be in the game will radically change the mechanics of combat; do I really, really need that? Keep the way the fighting has been and I’m sure no one will complain, although I haven’t tried it so this argument may have been invalid from the beginning. I still give my kudos to 343 Industries for their hard work and determination to make this an amazing piece of art, I might have to shut my mouth for the time being until more is released which then I will certainly post.
This Christmas may take longer to come than I could ever imagine.

May Cause Belief In Humanity To Melt Away

Customer: “I bought a computer from you guys not 3 weeks ago, and my internet isn’t working.”

Me: “Well the computer itself seems to be operating perfectly…”

Customer: “It is NOT working perfectly. I cannot get on the internet. ”

Me: “I understand that; I just mean while the internet itself isn’t working, your computer is functioning properly.”

Customer: “My computer is worthless without internet.”

(Company policy is to direct her to her ISP for further assistance. So I try to get that info from her so I can give her a proper phone number.)

Customer: “Why don’t you just fix it?”

Me: “I’ve run out of things we can try.”

Customer: “What is the ISP going to do?”

Me: “They’ll walk you through a few things or at least tell you if there is an outage or other problems in your area.”

Customer: “I bought this computer from YOU and YOU should be the ones fixing it.”

Me: “It’s not the computer, it’s the internet. Unfortunately we’re not your internet provider. There’s really nothing more I can do for you.”

Customer: “How much do you charge for internet?”

Me: “We do not sell internet.”

Customer: “Than who do I buy my internet from?”

Me: “I don’t know. Verizon, perhaps?”

Customer: “I suppose I should order some internet.”

Me: “…you haven’t even signed up for it yet!?”

Customer: “I wanted to do it on the internet.”

Me: 

Working as a Tech Support Agent has to be the best job I have ever been hired to do and as much as I love it there are some “occupational hazards” that come from trying to fix others problems. You see it all the time where I work (in which I am told not to disclose the exact location), people call in about a certain issue or error that has overcome their system or program, they want it fixed as soon as possible and start to blame you for their situation.
After two (or even more) hours of sifting through their computer you begin to realize the main error is the object in between the chair and the keyboard…
Human error is the main cause for many problems, in a particular instance a customer called about wanting to backup her client data. I walked her through the problem to find an unusual pause in the conversation, I asked what was going on and she said that the program was nowhere in sight. “She must have deleted or misplaced the desktop icon…” I thought, but when I remoted in the entire program was uninstalled. I asked her why it was removed from her drive and the response that came was unlike anything other I could ever imagine.
I had to delete the program to make room for the client data.”


Now don’t get me wrong–I understand that some–okay, A LOT of people are computer illiterate, but I cannot stress the fact enough that if you don’t know what you’re doing, don’t try to fix a problem by yourself especially when it concerns a program that is vital to your occupation. If computers are necessary for your job I suggest learning everything you can about them or at least as much as you can retain mentally.
Some problems on the other hand have nothing to do with computers, but simple common sense; stupidity has overtaken this world and it’s only a matter of time before the world must be eradicated. (to those who are offended by this post the feeling is mutual)

Me: “Hello, I hear you are having a problem with your printer.”

Customer: “Yes, I changed the cartridge and it says that it’s still out of ink.”

Me: “Ok, did you remove the blue tape before inserting the new print cartridge?”

Customer: “Yep! Sure did!”

(After literally two hours of model number and cartridge number verification and even installing new firmware on the printer among many other things…)

Me: “Ok ma’am, can you take the ink cartridge out for me?”

Customer: “Ok, it’s out.”

Me: “Is there blue tape over the copper on the bottom of the cartridge?”

Customer: “Yep.”

Me: “Could you remove it and re-install the cartridge?”

Customer: “Oh hey! It works!”

(I’ve never wished more that I could slap people via telephony.)

This is why Aliens haven’t dared come near us.

Thanks for http://notalwaysright.com/tag/tech-support for the stories of complete idiocy.

The Shoe To Fill

As anyone that truly knows me would tell you that I am probably the biggest Halo fan they have ever encountered, I can’t say that I am the biggest in existence because if I were I would have the Halo 3 symbol tattooed onto my back, I would go to work and travel about town in full Spartan suit, I would have my house built to replicate the Silent Cartographer building in Combat Evolved, I would own every Covenant and UNSC weapon replicas, and legally change my name to Tony-777.
I am content with just my loyalty and knowledge (my family is as well), but I still plan on creating a full Spartan costume. Besides the point I love Halo and everything to do with it and the entire reason I do was Bungie’s efforts in making the game the best it could be adding a incredible story and gameplay that changed FPS’s forever, but now that Bungie has decided to let 343 Industries take the helm of the franchise how will they be able to fill the legendary developer’s shoes?
This theoretical shoe may be too big for 343, they have a lot to live up to and millions of expectations to meet especially Master Chief and their take on him, they have already turned my opinion of their decisions toward a (very) negative side after seeing the transformation of his armor.

He's spent a while drifting in space, but enough time to make a fashion statement?

They say there’s a story to it.
What kind of a story could explain this? Did there happen to be a spare, more fashionable suit? Did he stop at some intergalactic Old Navy? Did he level up and evolve? Or is he simply that BA and made his own custom look?
I hope it’s the latter or at least something others and I would deem as viable. It ultimately comes down to the mechanics of the game and therefore the feeling you get when you first step into the superhuman tank. The feeling must be what made it amazing for people playing the first Halo; you felt invincible, but still vulnerable enough to where strategy and quick decisions meant life or death. It might not matter for someone who played the game casually just to say that they did, but for someone who played ever since they laid eyes on the cover art would agree that this crucial and absolutely necessary for the new trilogy.
That’s right I said trilogy folks, that means after the fourth installation (*geek squeal*) 343 Industries will have two other chances to either make history or cause the biggest uproar in the gaming world. That brings me to my other concern–what kind of plot will The Reclaimer Trilogy follow? More so in what way will Halo 4 differentiate from the other games before it?
The main difference of course is the fact that the Forerunners will have some part in the story according to official sources, more than likely the shield world shown hosts the rest of their civilization, however this is only a rumor and might not be 100% true. The Precursors have also been rumored to play a part, but I’m sure a discovery like that would be saved for last. Regardless of who the enemy may be–what would they have to do for the UNSC to begin a new war? Would the Flood be involved (Again?)? Or will this (major spoiler alert, major spoiler alert!) be a paradoxical repetition of history?

If I have to endure one more level of this crap I'll...

Even Bungie co-founder Alex Seropian is nervous about the development of the game, but we are reassured by many that they wouldn’t let the crown jewel fall into the wrong hands, 343 Industries and Microsoft Studios would be foolish not to make Halo 4 the best it can be and more. All I (and the rest of the world) will have to hope for our wishes to be granted and continue with the optimism that Master Chief’s next adventure will be as epic as the ones before it.

The Artist–The new face of movies

“Cinema is a matter of what’s in the frame and what’s out.”
-Martin Scorsese

Last night at the Academy Awards “The Artist” directed by Michel Hazanavicius won the award for Best Picture. To be honest I expected Hugo to be the winner; Martin Scorsese did a wonderful job with his adaptation of the novel The Invention of Hugo Cabret and including the many other awards the movie has received the ultimate winner left me a bit bewildered.
Far from shocked however. The Artist is unlike any movie of our time, if I were a director I never would have thought about creating a movie in pure black and white and silent; I see a big risk in doing so which could be the reason in why no one though of doing it in this period of time, but thank the French for having the balls to bring something fresh to the screens.–and succeed. After the show I felt as if this finally brought the style of movies to a full round, something special happens when you bring the past into the future, but is this how things are going to be for now on?

I imagine a Charley Chaplin movie in the works since The Three Stooges are emerging back onto view and only time will tell if I’m actually correct. There’s nothing particularly wrong with old style movies becoming the new trend, but I would rather prefer seeing modern sci-fi movies taking the throne of Best Picture or at least winning an Oscar…
Nevertheless I suggest to everyone to watch this great movie that has now embedded itself into our history.

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