Monday, October 29, 2007

Back from Oootaw


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Well we are back from Salt Lake City and our visit with Ben and Karen (and 4 kitties). It was lots of fun. Miranda seemed to do passably well on the airplane, but it was only a 2 hour flight so we weren't really pushing it. In fact, I think any longer and we would have been in trouble. But it was fun seeing friends that now live in a lonely part of the world.

We did our routine match of Munchkin (Cthulu) along with some gaming on the DS and knitting (although you can guess who was doing what). Sleeping was interesting. Miranda slept great, we didn't as we heard all of her tossing and turning. Honestly, I didn't think you could run a marathon in your sleep but now have to reconsider my assessment.

I got to watch part of the Lions victory (woo-hoo) even though watching football makes Karen break out in hives. Also Ben introduced me to Portal which might have to be the coolest game I have run across in a long time. The graphics were great and the music was fantastic, but the real killer is that it is a first person puzzle game. Really makes you think through a lot of the levels. So that is my stamp of approval. Lots of thinking, lots of fun (the voice acting and script are fantastic) and it just makes for an enjoyable 4 hours.

As for the Lions... well, they were not stellar on every play but overall they made each drive on offense and defense strategically important to the game. They made the Bears work for long stuff while going soft on the short and I have to say that I was very impressed with the defensive line while there were a few breakdowns on the offensive line. But they were going against the Bears.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

10 minute draft timer

Thank goodness. Last years draft (which I watched all of) and this years draft (which I watched all of) took way to long. Finally they are going only have the first 2 rounds on day one and they are shortening the time to make the pick (which I think will lead to more Minnesota type draft day snafus).

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Family tries

Well we pass through a few weeks since I last did a family update. Everyone's fine. Yup. Miranda had her 18 month checkup and the doc is pleased with the weight she has regained and with the motor skills. Also Miranda went to the pumpkin farm on the same day and thoroughly enjoyed playing in the mud puddles.

I'm doing ok and Michelle seems to be doing ok. We survived the windstorm. We've been playing way too much puzzle quest on xbla. Michelle is doing a bunch of alternative cooking where she puts pureed vegetables in various things (meatloaf, cookies, mac and cheese, brownies) and to be honest it is pretty good. I can definitely say that I could use the additional vegetables, so big win for Michelle. Miranda is still picky, but occasionally decides she will gorge...

Lately I have been reading Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson. Great book. The book centers around a book called Cryptonomicon and the families that have had a heavy involvement in it, covering both modern day and WWII. The writing is excellent and engaging and the characters are interesting. Once I get further I will put up a review but I have been working on it for about 2 weeks and am only half way through.

Finished Ringworld by Larry Niven and found it to be good and interesting, but at the same point it did not grab me and make me read till I couldn't keep my eyes open. The story of a vast engineering marvel created by an advanced civilization that doesn't seem to be around anymore in any great numbers, while the science was good, the characters were neat but not great or compelling. As I try to increase my reading base, I figured this was a book I needed to read although, I am thinking I should have read The Mote in God's Eye instead, although I may read that at a later time.

Next up on my reading list is Speaker for the Dead (Ender, Book 2) by Orson Scott Card, although I may insert Ender's Game (Ender, Book 1) before it as I haven't read the first book in the series in about 8 years so maybe I should brush up on the story... Either way I am looking forward to reading some OSC.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Why George?

Dear owner of the Star Wars franchise,

I have been dumb enough to purchase many things that are part of this extensive franchise over the years. Some have been pretty good like the original trilogy and the Bioware games based on the license, but some have been just plain bad like some of the various books using the same recycled plotline or perhaps the Darth Vader voice helmet. I am really saddened by how much you have taken something that was iconic in our childhood and used that lovely nostalgic feeling to drain our bank accounts and destroy a memory. Sometimes tighter quality control can help, but sometimes it is just better to STOP.

Thank you,

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

More on the mini music revolution....

Jeff Townes aka DJ Jazzy Jeff talks about his views on the digital music movement. It is interesting to see other artists talking about what music means and what the recording industry is trying to go through. One of statements:
As a result of his commitment to understanding the digital space his revenues from being a DJ have seen a dramatic increase now that he practically gives his music away for free and focuses on "super-serving" his customer with an "experience" vs just selling plastic discs. (Sounds very Long Tail right?) He is the first to say, "Music should be free, the experience is what you should be paying for"

is interesting especially if you have had a chance to the read the book, The Experience Economy. People pay will pay more for better experiences. Does that mean that music is now a commodity and all we are seeing is the industry fighting that fact. A fact that many other industries have had to face?

*** UPDATED: I removed the link. For some odd reason it was empty. I don't think I posted it empty. But maybe I did. Either way, my searching the net did not bring up the article :(

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

So, Amazon's not evil, right?

So it is kinda weird that I am writing this given I work for them, and to be honest, I don't think they are evil. However some believe we are near enough. Recently Amazon released digital music downloads sans DRM. This is definitely something I have been very passionate about. All the DRM solutions just seemed so damn hard just to listen to music that I spent money to listen to. Not to mention that the RIAA's view that I should feel privileged to even listen to these great <accent type="french">artists</accent> that they have tied to them. Where as I have felt that the Record companies should feel honored I decided to spend money with them for a non-essential purchase. Be honest, music doesn't sit up there with food, housing, heat, etc. Being an amateur musician (sorry if it isn't great) at one point, I know that getting paid for created content is important, but at the same point as a performer, it was much more important that people who want to listen to my stuff should not be inconvenienced.

So it becomes very interesting to me when Ian Rodgers of Yahoo! Music talks about MP3s and Amazon in a recent presentation. Excerpt from the presentation:

But now, eight years later, Amazon’s finally done what was clearly the right solution in 1999. Music in the format that people actually want it in, with a Web-based experience that’s simple and works with any device. I bought tracks from Amazon (Kevin Drew and No Age), downloaded them, sync’d them to my new iPod Nano, and had them playing in my home audio system (Control 4) in less than five minutes. PRAISE JESUS. It only took 8 years.

And I get even more excited when two of my favorite bands decide to connect in a more directly with their fans by going without a music label. Hey artists, you need to do this. I am more likely to give you money for your work than the suits and paying for them to prosecute music lovers, albeit some that are really guilty. Put it out there, I will buy it. Make it easy and I will buy it. Because in the end, even though it does not stand up there with food, housing, heat, etc, it still has some magic way of touching us and moving us in good ways.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Review: Halo 3

Maybe I should support subtitles. You know something along the lines of Halo 3, now with uber-nerd helmet. That is exactly the edition that I bought. First off the helmet is surprisingly good quality and about the size of a regulation volleyball. Unfortunately, the design has the inside of the helmet be a 3 inch by 6 inch slot, which makes it not able to fit on anything really but the base. There goes my plans to have Master Cat with a kick-butt helmet on. I am sure Tigger is happier because of this.

Alright, enough of my banter, tell me about the game.

I have read a number of review sites that either say one of two things. Either it walks on water and turns water into poptarts, or people find it ok and actually a bit turned off by the hype. So to set the story straight, I can say that if you have not played the first 2, then you will likely fall on the it's ok standpoint. If however you have played both Halo 1 and Halo2, then you will likely feel that this one walks on water. Basically this falls into the category of run of the mill first person shooter where you go out and kill aliens and zombies. However, if you have played through the whole story you will discover a depth here that many games don't have. There are novels that go further. Entire games that exist in the same universe that expound on the backstory (see Marathon). It really is a good story of the end of the world and one super soldiers fight through it. Sound like a movie you have seen? Even if it does, Bungie has captured the essence feeling like the star of an action movie. You feel like Arnold Schwarzenegger during the movie Commando. Except killing aliens and zombies instead of taking out rogue mercenaries.

Some of the improvements are better party capabilities for multiplayer mode, tweaks to weapon capabilities, more vehicles (I personally like the new human flight vehicle), as well as just gorgeous textures and graphics.

  • For those that have played both previous games: 5 out of 5
  • For those that have not played either: 3 out of 5

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Kalaloch Lodge

Well I am home sick after a thoroughly fun trip to the Olympic Peninsula. We decided to take a trip with both the Vassigh and Dykstra families over to the Pacific Ocean and the Kalaloch Lodge where we got a two family cabin for the weekend. The more surprising part is you got two xbox addicts to leave their boxes alone at home on halo3 launch weekend. But I digress. It was fun and it was great to see the kids play in the surf even if they got stuck inside on day 2 because of classic PacNW fall rain. So rather than tell you about it, there are loads of pictures you can look at.

One of my faves....

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