Club Admiralty

v7.0 - moving along, a point increase at a time

Club Admiralty Blog

A blog about life in general, in as many languages as I can manage. Ενα ιστολόγιο περι ζωής, πολυγλωσσο - σε όσες γλωσσες εχω μεράκι να γράψω.

End of the Iconian War

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Well, the end of the Iconian War is upon us!  The story arc that started with New Romulus a couple of years ago is now seeing its conclusion.  During this arc we've explored ruins under New Romulus, we've discovered Dyson Spheres (two of them, in-fact) we've fought the Elachi, the Hirogen, the Undine, the Voth,... and the Iconians (wow, that's a lot of people to fight), and we've re-discovered the Krenim and their timeships.

The latter part of this game's season saw a lot of moral questions about whether it is right to just go in an obliterate whole civilizations from history just to eliminate one pervasive threat.  The kicker here is that [spoiler] the alliance, - well Sela specifically - is really responsible for this entire Iconian War!  See, Sela, Kargan, your Captain, and others head back 200,000 years ago to Iconia to eliminate the Iconians back them (desperate measure after getting their rear ends handed to them in orbit around Earth).  The Iconians seem to be the Federation of the olden times, where they support other, less technology advanced, species, but they won't interfere with their natural development.  The flesh-and-blood Iconians also look a lot like the Asgard from Stargate (just taller).

Well, while your team is there, the Iconians are attacked by other species with whom they have refused to share technology (due to their prime directive equivalent), and you help them evacuate.  Sela, however, is upset at all of the destruction and only allows 12 Iconians to escape to safety, the rest perish.  Wonk-Wonk!  Sela ends up causing the whole damned war...if only they had saved all Iconians...

Your team is then beamed to the present, where you meet with the Iconians, now in their energy form (they look inspired by Taelons from Earth Final Conflict), and you give them back their Orb of Wisdom which they had thought lost after that kerfuffle 200,000 years ago.  They recognize that you helped them back then, and this whole time paradox thing, so they cease their attack and go back into seclusion while they deal with what they need to deal with.  -The End.

This season wasn't bad.  The Iconians were pretty powerful early on, the first few missions I needed to respawn a few times to complete.  The most annoying thing about midnight, this last episode in the Iconian Arc, was the "wait for Sela to stop talking" or the "wait for Kargan to stop talking".  When I played it the first couple of times I did listen to the entire dialogue. However with 3 more alts, and re-playing this mission each week to get the new gear (the Sol Defense space set), means that I don't really want to sit there and listen to the same dialogue over and over.  I just want to press F through the dialogue quickly.  If this feature were retired from future episodes I'd be quite happy :-)

The thing I noticed, playing through with my alts, is that for Eris Ezri, the newest alt who just has "basic" mission-based gear (none of the reputation gear), the amount of damage I do, and the healing abilities are not nearly close to what my other characters have.  This probably means that I have to grind at least through one reputation to get some gear at some point. I didn't bother grinding through the reputation for gear this time around on any of my characters. They are all level 5 in the Iconian reputation, so I got the traits, but the gear seemed to be a little too far.  I would probably grind through one character for the gear if the other characters were able to get it for free (or significantly less grinding), but as it stands, I have better ways to spend my game time :-)

Do you play Star Trek Online? What did you think?
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Another apple keynote? When did that happen?

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When I was younger I used to inhale Apple Keynotes.  I think part of it was Steve Job's presentation style that really drew me in.  I was also a big Apple fan (well, I still am), so I really wanted to know what products came out and get all the related specs and dirt as soon as possible  Early on this meant buying MacAddict, and heading to the Boston Public library to read the most recent MacUser, and MacWorld magazines.  Later on, in college, it meant watching the live-feeds from websites like The Unofficial Apple Weblog (TUAW) and Engadget (and rapidly refreshing to get up to the second photos and text of what was happening), and later maybe watching the recorded keynotes.  Finally, we had the livestreams, and I watched a few of those, but my interest started waning a bit in keeping up to minute. So much so, in recent years, that I was looking at my RSS feeds one evening last week and realized that there was a lot of Apple product news - there must have been another keynote ;-)

So - what's new now?

Apple Watch
Lots of hype around this watch. I've seen it around on campus (and sometimes wonder how undergraduates can afford it), but it really fails to impress me.  I see potential, but I like my Sony Smartwatch a lot and the Apple watch does not entice me to change.  One interesting thing, regardless of the brand and OS of your smartwatch, is that  the step counters in these things are encouraging people to be more active, which in my book is a good thing.  With recent  changes made to my campus, however, even the watch doesn't encourage me to go out and beat my own best score (but I do get a kick out of seeing more than 11,000 steps per day!).

Anyway, back to the Apple Watch:  I originally thought that the digital crown was a pretty stupid idea, however the time-shifting UI (scrolling back or forward in time in your calendar) is pretty nifty. That said - I think that the phrase 'game changer' is overused.  The watch does seem to have some nifty features (the Airstrip demo was interesting for example), but why would you not do this on a bigger screen?  The screen on an apple watch is tiny (smaller than my Sony smartwatch for that matter).


iPad Pro
Recently I was listening to a podcast (the Verge?) where the people on the podcast were saying that no one they know bought an iPad for themselves. They either got them as gifts (parents and grandparents) or they got them in school.  I am not sure if this was a judgement for the value of the iPad or tablet computing, or if it's a commentary on shifting the costs of ownership.  In any case, Tim Cook (and apple) indicate that the iPad is where Apple sees personal computing going - and this is evident with the new iPad Pro.  Biggest screen, better processor, very compact and portable.  I see apple replacing the Macintosh line at some point in the future with some sort of iOS/MacOS fusion (perhaps going off intel chips completely). The use cases of AutoCAD and iMovie seem to point toward this direction.

The four speakers on the iPad Pro make it a nice upgrade for me since I tend to use the iPad mostly for video and audio consumption.  The smart keyboard just reminds me of other cover-keyboards out there (including the one I have on my Surface Pro 3). The stylus (aka 'pencil') seems pretty interesting, but is also a bit laughable.  It's interesting because for work reasons I still need to sign things (oh those 'wet' signatures), but the $99 price-tag is something that makes me consider this as a potential purchase.  If it really feels and works like a writing instrument on paper, I could see it taking off. The funny thing is that the 128GB iPad Pro (wifi) is around the same price I paid for the SonyEricsson P800 when it first came out ;-)


AppleTV
The future of TV is Apps! I wonder if this is what Jobs was referring to when it was reported that they cracked that nut. The interest thing about the new AppleTV is that they finally made one of Google's ideas potentially viable - one search to rule them all.  Want to see what's new?  AppleTV will search throughout all apps (amazon seemed to be absent) and tell you what's new. This was one of the big features of Google TV, but Google TV flopped. I think trying to integrate cable operators into the mix, and getting broadcast data is where the big failure point was.  Apps have built-in metadata which makes them searchable.  Television listings you have to go out and get it (or make it your own), which TV stations might decide they don't want to share. From a technology perspective this product is quite interesting, but it's definitely not for me.  I've been plugging my macs (PowerBook initially, then Mac Minis) to my television since 2003, and I do enjoy asynchronous digital-only content (i.e. I don't watch broadcast TV) since 2008, one TV + MacMini does it for me.  This is, however, a good solution when your computer is tied up elsewhere and you want to watch something.  I wonder if you can hook up a Superdrive to it so you can play back your DVDs. The one thing that is potentially an issue is content disappearing from providers like Netflix.


iPhone 6S & 6S+
Finally, the iPhone 6.  I like iOS and the iPhone even though I've been an Android user for the past few years. Of course, the new iPhones are "the most advanced iPhones ever" (that phrase is becoming meaningless, it was fun and novel with Steve, but you're definitely not throwing an even to show us something old).  With a new iPhone each year, the updates seems just iterative in nature to me.  I don't doubt that incredible feats of engineering (both hardware and software) went into creating these new iPhones, and they are certainly contenders for my attention when my phone dies, but I don't see a reason to upgrade at the moment. Just like computers, I think we've hit a plateau with this paradigm.  I wonder when the next paradigm will come along and make our current glass slabs seem and feel like flip phones feel like now.

Your thoughts on this event?


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Πάμε εκδρομή... στην φάρμα;

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Η φάρμα που πήγαμε
Την πρώτη μου χρονιά σε αμερικανικό λύκειο, όταν είχα το μάθημα οικιακής οικονομίας, είχα και την πρώτη μου εκδρομή. Αν και αυτή την χρονιά γράφω για το 10th grade (πρώτη λυκείου), η σεζόν μου θύμισε μια ιστορία για την πρώτη εκδρομή. Στην Ελλάδα, αν θυμάμαι καλά, είχαμε, στάνταρ 2-3 εκδρομές τον χρόνο και πηγαίναμε στη γήπεδο Αμαλιάδας. Είχα και εγώ την εντύπωση πως θα είχαμε και στην Αμερική διακοπές, έτσι για να κολοβαρέσουμε και λίγο, αλλά αυτό που συνειδητοποίησα την πρώτη μου χρονιά είναι πώς τέτοιες εκδρομές, γενικά, στα σχολεία δεν έχουμε. Είναι όλες οι εκδρομές εκπαιδευτικού χαρακτήρα (πάνω κάτω) - σνίφ/κλάψ.

Έτσι λοιπόν, κατά τον Οκτώβρη, αν θυμάμαι καλά, πήγαμε εκδρομή με το μάθημα σε μια φάρμα για να μαζέψουμε μήλα, τα οποία τα χρησιμοποιήσαμε για να φτιάξουμε μηλόπιτες αργότερα. Η φάρμα ήταν μια φάρμα που λεγόταν lookout farm, και μαζί με τις μηλιές, τα μήλα, και άλλα δέντρα, είχε και διάφορα ζώα του αγρού, σανό, και «hay rides» δηλαδή σε βάζανε πάνω σε τρακτέρ και σε πήγαιναν βόλτα γύρω στην φάρμα. Περίεργο ήταν, αλλά το πιο περίεργο ήταν ο ενθουσιασμός μερικών συμμαθητών για την φάρμα, τα φρέσκα μήλα, και τα «hay rides». Τόσα χρόνια στη Μαραθιά βόλτες σε τρακτέρ είχα κάνει πολλές. Και με άλογα. Έτσι εμένα δεν μου έκανα τόση εντύπωση.

Τα μήλα ήταν γευστικότατα, αλλά αυτή η πρώτη εκδρομή ήταν μούφα ;-) H μηλόπιτα δεν ήταν άσχημη. Ακολούθησα την συνταγή βήμα βήμα και μου βγήκε καλή, αλλά συνειδητοποίησα πως η «κανονική» μηλόπιτα δεν μου αρέσει γιατί την βρίσκω πολύ γλυκιά. Άμα το ήξερα θα έβαζα λιγότερη ζάχαρη
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Sev Trek: To Sev where no one has Seved before

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This week's Sev Trek: Enterforaprize comic tackles the topic of....repetition, and burned out writers by the time they got to start with the Enterprise series.  I guess for the next Trek series we shouldn't do yet another enterprise.




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Hitman Absolution | Done

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It seems like it took a while to finish this game, but it was a pretty good game (so no complaints here).  Last I left Agent 47 he was being laid to rest as and the FBI director was pretty pleased with himself that he got Dianna to turn and get 47 captured (or killed).  The game ended with a faint heartbeat that kicked in once Dianna placed his two signature weapons (his Ballers) in his hands.

I was expecting Absolution to start from this point on.  What did 47 do after he woke up?  How did he get back with the Agency?  How did the Agency reconstitute itself?  Well, I guess I don't know.  Absolution starts with a contract being placed on Dianna (who is quite well guarded).  Agent 47 is sent in to eliminate her, which to me was really odd.  Really 47?  Really? You are going to take out Dianna, your old pal? The one who resurrected you at the end of the previous game?  WTH man?

In any case, it seems that 47 does indeed kill Dianna, but she had left a note for him.  There was a little girl who she was protecting, who like 47 is genetically engineered to be an assassin.  Dianna asks him to take care of her and ensure that she has the childhood that 47 was robbed of (due to the Agency).  The story of Absolution takes place in 3 parts, starting with saving Victoria (the little girl), then losing her to abduction, and then saving her again.  During this time he takes care to clean up town of corrupt officials, corrupt cops, and ultimately the Agency.  Throughout this story we see a city cop, just a regular Joe cop who had been following this ghost assassin throughout the years.  He doesn't know him but he really wants to apprehend this suspect.  Just like Robert Murtaugh in Lethal Weapon I expect this character to eventually say "I'm getting too old for this..."  Nothing much comes from this storyline, but it seems like something ripe for exploration in a future game or novel.

At the end of the game we see light at the end of the tunnel.  Dianna is alive (or is she?)  I couldn't really tell if 47 was checking up on Dianna and Victoria, after he set the up away from the gaze of the Agency, or if this was a scene from the beginning of the game, before his contract to eliminate her.  I certainly hope that Diana is alive at the end of this.

In terms of achievements I did way better in this game compared to other games, even though I completely blew the stealth missions and got myself into way too many gunfights.  I got 29/46 achievements, or 63% of the total achievements for 470/1000 points.  Not bad! This actually is making consider going back and replaying the series from the beginning.

Overall, good game!  I would give it a 9/10


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Στην χώρα των κόμικς, και πουθενά ένα Μίκυ Μάους!

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Ένα από τα θέματα που σκεφτόμουν τώρα τελευταία είναι τα κόμικς. Στην πόλη που μένω έχουμε ένα κατάστημα το οποίο πουλάει κόμικς, και άλλα διάφορα όπως action figures, παιχνίδια, αγαλματάκια, και τέτοια πράγματα που έχουν κάνουν σχέση με κόμικς, marvel, DC, βιντεοπαιχνίδια, και άλλα geek θέματα. Τα κόμικς στο κατάστημα είναι από το Marvel και το DC, αλλά έχουν και διάφορα δημοφιλή Επειδή κάνω συλλογή και πάω κάθε δεκαπέντε να δω τι καινούργια πράγματα έχουν μου θύμισε λίγο τα πρώτα χρόνια στην Αμερική.

Στην Ελλάδα, μικρός, μου άρεσαν αρκετά τα κόμικς του τύπου μίκυ μάους, τιραμόλα, και αστερίξ. Δεν μου άρεσε ιδιαίτερα το στυλ του Σπαϊντερμαν, και του Μπλέκ. Όταν λοιπόν επέστρεψα στην Αμερική το 1994 ήθελα να διαβάζω κόμικς, όπως διάβαζα και στην Ελλάδα, αλλά αντιμετώπισα ένα παράδοξο: Κόμικς υπήρχαν πολλά! Υπήρχαν κόμικς που δεν είχα ξαναδεί στην Ελλάδα όπως το G.I. Joe, Transformers, Χελωνονιτζάκια, μέχρι και x-files και Star Trek. Αλλά μέσα σε αυτή την πληθώρα, τον πλούτο, με τα κόμικς δεν έβρισκα το ένα κόμικ που ήθελα: τα κλασικά Μίκυ Μάους.

Τελικά, σε κάποια φάση, σε ένα παντοπωλείο πέτυχα κάτι που λεγόταν Disney Adventures. Αγόρασα ένα τεύχος να δω αν ήταν ο τύπος του κόμικ που έψαχνα, αλλά τζίφος. Ο τύπος του περιοδικού δεν ήταν κόμικς, αλλά ήταν κάπως σαν το «OK» ή άλλο κοινωνικό και entertainment περιοδικό, αλλά το κοινό για το αυτό το περιοδικό ήταν παιδιά και όχι ενήλικες. Βλακείες.

Έτσι λοιπόν κόψαμε τα κόμικς μέχρι να ξανα-ανακαλύψω τα κόμικς και τα Manga όταν άρχισα να δουλεύω σε βιβλιοπωλείο όταν φοιτούσα στο πανεπιστήμιο.
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Sev Trek: Human smell and the nose pinch

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This week's Sev Trek: Enterforaprize comic makes a little joke about the Vulcan neck pinch.  Curious how we didn't hear about how bad humans smell to vulcans after a few episodes...


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Falling Skies Season Finale

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It's hard to believe that the show Falling Skies has been on the air for 5 years.  I guess this is what happens when a show is on in the summer and it only has 12 or 13 episodes per season - time flies!  Even so, plot-wise, it seems like the finale to this show was really rushed and it seemed quite anticlimactic.  There are spoilers in this, so if you haven't watched it go watch the show and come back to this later...

Alright, don't say you hadn't been warned.  So, in case you had not seen this show before, the main premise, just like independence day, is that aliens come to take over the planet Earth.  They lay waste to the place, start killing off humans, and abducting their kids and putting harnesses on them to use them as communication vessels.  Later on the aliens, the Espheni,start creating human/Espheni hybrids to better colonize the place.  There are other aliens that have been fighting the Espheni, namely the Volm, who lend a hand here and there, but we don't see a ton of them. Among the humans who are fighting the enemy one rises up, a reluctant hero and leader (Tom Mason) a professor of History from Boston University who wins over the hearts and minds of people and unites earth (well...people follow him, don't know how united they are) to take on the Espheni Overloads.

This series had great promise, but it really fizzled out.  The finale starts with a proclamation that the final fight was more bloody than they expected (which didn't seem bloody on screen), and it really ends on a low, and confusing note.  Near the end the "Queen" is on earth to oversee operations. This sounds like a mythical creature even to the Volm.  The Espheni are essentially a humanoid species, but their queen looks like she is an arachnid. OK, well, the "skidders" seemed different from the Espheni, so maybe it was another case of a subjugated species.  However, the queen wants to clue in Tom Mason as to why she is attacking the planet.

So, apparently Earth is the only habitable planet in this region of space, so it would make a good planet to colonize as a refueling and supply depot in the Espheni plan to conquer other worlds.  If she stopped there it would have been all fine and dandy.  Not great, but we've seen television megalomaniacs before, so it's understandable.  But, we find out that the Espheni (the queen's "daughters") came to earth 15,000 years ago when we were primitive and our ancestors killed the overlords and ate their flesh (gasp!) so the queen is here for revenge!  Hmmm... How does a specifies  that is arachnid produce off-spring that is essentially humanoid?  Furthermore, I've heard of revenge being a dish best served cold, but what the heck made you wait 15,000 years?!  This was really disappointing. You basically had the mad, megalomaniacal, 'take over the world' villain come back and  exact his revenge.  How...stale.

From a character point of view, one thing that really annoyed me is what they did with the character of Pope.  I gave him a pass on his irrational behavior - he was grieving the loss of a significant other - but I didn't expect him to double down on the crazy. He seemed like a character whose potential was not realized, and in the end he basically prompts Mason to kill him after the war is over, basically realizing how sad and pathetic he was having come out a on the losing end.  Pope dies of natural causes, but we don't see what happens to his body.  Left to rot by the beach?  He certainly deserved better.  Needed a better story arc on this character, for sure.

Despite the pretty crappy ending, I have to say: It's still better than the Lost finale!

Your thoughts?
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adieu, Star Trek Futures

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Capt. Rachael Garrett
It seems like one of the fan films that I've been waiting to hear more about, Star Trek Futures, has called it quits.  Too bad, because the story concept, and the era, seemed quite interesting. The story would have taken place on the Enterprise NCC 1701-C, in the JJ-verse, and it would center around Beverly and Wesley Crusher, and his father Jack Crusher who is not dead in this timeline.

From the website, the concept is described as:
Star Trek Futures (STF) was a prospective live action film project aimed at delivering highly stylized Futurist visuals as well as a compelling, relatable, and emotional story. The look of Star Trek Futures is heavily inspired by a nostalgic view of mid-to-late-20th century sci-fi. Drawing from these influences, STF will rely on clever cinematography and musical interplay to create a sense of wonder and imagination set in the Star Trek universe. Using these techniques, we will tell our story in an impactful, artistic way while using our budget intelligently. As opposed to previous Star Trek media, there will be an overarching serialized storyline instead of one-off episodes. The goal is to produce a five episode mini-series with each episode being roughly an hour in length that would be distributed via the Internet. 
The story behind this Trek film is was to be as follows (from the website):
"Everything in its right place."
 Star Trek Futures is set in an alternate timeline of the late 2300s and centers on a young Lieutenant Commander, Jack Crusher, his family, and the crew of the Enterprise-C. In this new timeline, a large group of Vulcans have settled on A'ren, a planet located within a corner of the Beta Quadrant embroiled in conflict. A civil war between the native Cae and their subservient race the Ra'zae is coming to a head. The Union, which had ruled over the small star system for nearly 400 years, has been ousted and is in shambles. Meanwhile, a new fledgling government is in desperate talks with the Federation for support in their struggle against the Ra'zae. For the last few years, the Ra’zae have deployed a devastating weapon that is systematically destroying subspace. This weapon makes traveling faster than light inside the Cesera system extremely hazardous and almost impossible. The Cae also control a vital energy production and distribution system that is now under a massive blockade created by the Ra'zae. The threat of its destruction would irreparably change the balance of power in the entire sector. The Enterprise and her crew are sent to serve as a diplomatic envoy to the Federation, but unfortunately, becomes caught in the middle of the brutal Cae civil war.

The art work is pretty interesting as well, with re-imagined Wrath of Khan style uniforms (which I like better actually) and a few strange new worlds to explore, this seemed to be a good mini series.  I hope the stories, and concept art, make their way into other media (stories, novels, audio dramas, podcasts, whatever) because it seemed like an interesting project.


An interesting note is that the Enterprise in this fan film would not have been the Ambassador class we saw in the Next Generation, but rather another concept (which from what I remember was an alternate for TNG that wasn't picked). Still reminiscent of the Ambassador class, but really it's own thing.

 

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Sev Trek: Why did humans not explore the cosmos?

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This week's Sev Trek: Enterforaprize comic tackles the topic of why the Vulcans, errr, sorry, the Velcrons prevented Humans from exploring the cosmos for such a long time.



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