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.

Review: Star Trek: The Q Conflict

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Star Trek: The Q Conflict Star Trek: The Q Conflict by Scott Tipton
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This issue of IDW's star trek comics brought together 4 supernatural beings (Q, and a 3 from the TOS era) as well as the crews of 4 series (TOS, TNG, DS9, VOY). The supernatural beings are warring. What VOY taught us is that extradimensional wars affect our universe. So... the superbeings decide to let humans complete tasks in their proxy to determine the victor. Overall this was an OK story. It was interesting to see crews mixed and matched. However, what gives with the lack of the ENT crew? Come on IDW :-)

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Καλά Χριστούγεννα!

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Χρόνια πολλά και καλά Χριστούγεννα σε όλους! Και του χρόνου μαζί! 😁



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Now that's one expensive Mac...

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Ever since I can remember, whenever a new Mac was announced I'd always rush to the online store to spec it out.  I knew that I could not afford to get one fully decked (or even get one period since my existing computer worked just fine), but it was always fun to answer some "what ifs" (what if I won the lottery and could get a decked out mac?)

It seems like I am not the only one who does this.  Over the years, as my computing has become more pragmatic I've stopped going this, but others have stepped up.  With the new Mac Pro out (albeit without all possible configurations available as of this writing), it looks like this mac will cost you around $53,000 without any monitor.  The casters on this thing cost $400 (no thanks, I don't want wheels on my computer).

Some of the specs:

  • 2.5Hgz 28 core CPU
  • 1.5TB of DDRM ECC RAM
  • 2x Radeon Vega Pro II cards with 2x32MB each
  • 8TB SSD drive
  • Apple Afterburner card (whatever that is)


For now, this remains a "well, if I won the lottery, this would make an awesome machine... ;-)
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Review: Adults in the Room: My Battle with Europe's Deep Establishment

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Adults in the Room: My Battle with Europe's Deep Establishment Adults in the Room: My Battle with Europe's Deep Establishment by Yanis Varoufakis
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I wasn't really sure what to expect reading this (having read some commentary from online friends who read it as events were unfolding), but I read it anyway. I think it's a valuable read for individuals who want a glimpse into how large systems function, and how there are (potentially) unintended consequences to the way things are structured in broad governmental structures. I also think that it exposes corruption and creative accounting that every citizen (whether they live in Greece or not) should be aware of.

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IKEA 2.0

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This was an interesting video produced by the Verge on IKEA's foray into the smarthome (or home-smart as they call it).  I've noticed their offerings of smart devices over the past year whenever I've visited the local IKEA showroom.  I am intrigued and want to see more from them :-) It's interesting to know that the number of articles in a physical store doesn't go up whenever they introduce a new product.  If something new comes in, something must leave.



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Bionic Commando: ReArmed | Done

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Oh wait...I guess I forgot one. This was truly the last of my xbox 360 games that was not backwards compatible that I completed (I guess I can now put my 360 away for now...)  This game was completed on June 15, 2019


The plot from Wikipedia:
Rearmed centers around two warring factions: the Federation and the Empire. It begins with the Imperial forces discovering classified documents regarding the development of a secret weapon known as the Albatross project, originally started by an organization known as the Badds, but never completed. Killt, Generalissimo of the Empire's forces, decides to complete the project himself. When the Federation learns of the Empire's plot, they send in their national hero, Super Joe to infiltrate the Empire. During his mission, Joe is captured by Imperial forces. The Federation sends in a second operative named Nathan Spencer to rescue Super Joe and assist him in completing his mission.

Spencer traverses several areas, eliminating many Imperial leaders along his way. As he progresses, he finds new technology and travels deeper behind enemy lines. The plot culminates as Super Joe is rescued from the bionic Imperial soldier Gottfried Groeder, and both Spencer and Joe set out to destroy the Albatross project. During the mission, Spencer encounters "The Leader", the resurrected head of the Imperial forces. Spencer defeats The Leader, and together with Super Joe destroys the Albatross. The game ends with both heroes hanging onto a helicopter, flying off as the Albatross explodes.
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This game feels a lot like the NES game Bionic Commando in terms of the game play.  It's basically a platformer where the hero (Spencer) traverses various stages via an over-world-style interface to take out the bad-guys.  If you've ever played the original on the NES you will recognize this game.  There isn't much to say about this game other than it was fun, and quick to complete (or at least it felt quick, compared to other games that I've played).  As you can see I didn't get a ton of  achievements on it because I just blasted right through it.  I do think that this game has a ton of replayability as part of its value proposition, sort of like all of the older style games like Super Mario and the original Bionic Commander.  For this reason the game gets an 8/10 for me.  Watch the walkthrough at the end of the blogpost if you are unfamiliar with original :-)


20/200 points
1/12 achievements



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Kane & Lynch | done

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Wow!  I can't believe that I made it to the end of my non-backward compatible reviews on the 360!  And, my 360 is now safely wrapped up, protected from dust and water.  This mini review is for Kane Lynch: Dead Men on the xbox 360. This game was completed in March 2019 (so I hope I remember much of it)


The plot from Wikipedia:
The game opens with a voiceover of ex-mercenary Adam 'Kane' Marcus, reading a letter addressed to his daughter Jenny. Kane is traveling to death row after being convicted of manslaughter. Another death row inmate, James Seth Lynch, lets on there will be a breakout. Their truck is involved in a head-on collision by a group of mercenaries. The two are taken to a construction site, where they are confronted by four members of a gang of criminals called The 7, led by The Brothers and their henchmen Carlos (a close friend of Kane) and Mute. They accuse Kane of stealing money from them, and reveal that they have taken his wife and daughter hostage. Kane is given three weeks to retrieve the money or his wife and daughter will be killed.

After the meeting with The 7, they are dropped off at an abandoned mall, where they are given supplies and a vehicle and Kane goes over tactics with Lynch. However, police officers arrive and the two are forced to shoot their way out to escape. Later, Kane explains that he did not steal from The 7, but knows who did, and where they hid it. Kane and Lynch rob a local bank where the money is being kept. Only half of the money is inside the bank's safe, but Kane believes he knows where the other half is. Meanwhile, Lynch, who is revealed to suffer from mental illness and periodic episodes of violent psychosis, blacks out and kills all of the hostages after his medication wears off, forcing Kane and Lynch to shoot their way out and flee in a van driven by their getaway driver. Losing the police in the subway after the van crashes, Kane informs Lynch that they need to go to Tokyo to retrieve the other half of the money.

In Tokyo, the pair go after Retomoto, a Japanese crime lord, by kidnapping his daughter Yoko as ransom. While Kane is negotiating with Retomoto over the phone, Lynch accidentally shoots and kills Yoko while trying to stop her from escaping. Kane, Lynch and The 7's hired guns then proceed to escape from Retomoto's hitmen. Kane is furious with Lynch, but he soon realizes that they are out of time, and must return to The 7 with only half of the stolen money.

Lynch reveals to Kane that he made a deal with The 7 to betray Kane in order to ensure his survival as well as a position within The 7, but he is also betrayed and knocked unconscious at the construction site where Kane and his family are to be executed. The leaders of The 7 deny Kane's plea for additional time, after which The Brothers and Carlos depart for Havana, leaving Mute to carry out the executions. After being brought to the construction site along with her daughter, Kane's wife expresses her disgust with Kane but is executed by Mute before he has a chance to answer her, even though the 7 promised to let Kane speak with his wife. Regaining consciousness, Lynch attacks his kidnappers while an enraged Kane beats Mute to death. Kane and Lynch then protect Kane's daughter Jenny from The 7's reinforcements as she cries over her mother's body.

Kane buries his wife and decides to finish off The 7 for the sake of his daughter's safety. Kane and Lynch free a group of "Dead Men" from prison: Rific, Thapa, and Shelly. These men had been wronged by The 7 and join the duo to get revenge, although Shelly expresses resentment at working with Lynch, who he recognizes; he also then reveals that Lynch may have killed his own wife. Before flying to Havana, they return to Tokyo and kill Retomoto, reclaiming the briefcase of money to finance their war with The 7. In Havana, Kane keeps everyone motivated with promises of payment as they track down The Brothers and Carlos. Kane informs Lynch that The 7 profit from assisting factions in civil wars, with Havana supposedly the last job needed for their retirement. They find themselves caught up in an ongoing civil war, joining the Cuban Revolutionary Armed Forces and battling The 7's forces that are attempting to stage a coup d'état. They find Carlos, abandoned by The Brothers. Kane recruits Carlos, and Thapa, no longer trusting Kane, abandons the mission as a result.

The Dead Men then fight their way through the Venezuelan jungle, and locate The Brothers at their compound. Shelly demands the payment that Kane claimed Shelly, Rific and Thapa would get for helping him. Carlos tells Shelly and Rific that there is plenty of heroin in the village that they can take as a compensation. Carlos then volunteers to go on ahead and open the gates with an explosive, but vanishes once inside. This makes Lynch think that Carlos tricked them all into a trap. However, Kane and Lynch discover over Carlos's radio that The 7 have captured Jenny again. They discover in the compound courtyard Jenny unharmed and Carlos's corpse. They suddenly get ambushed by The Brothers and their mercenaries. Kane shoots a land mine beside Carlos' corpse and the two then kill The Elder Brother. The Younger Brother, however, manages to escape with Jenny and attempts to take off in an airplane.

Kane and Lynch follow in a car and disable the plane's engines before killing the Younger Brother. Jenny then pulls a gun on Kane and blames him for her mother's death. Kane tells her that whether she hates him or not, he will get her to safety. Kane is then given the choice of rescuing Rific and Shelly from the village church, where they are pinned down by The 7's mercenaries or escaping in a helicopter with Jenny and leaving them to die.

If Kane boards the helicopter with Jenny and leaves Rific and Shelly to die, Jenny will resent her father for leaving his men and tell him that she hates him. As they are escaping in the helicopter, Lynch, on the ground, says to himself, "I fucking knew it, from the first second I fucking knew it."

In the other ending chapter, Kane chooses to rescue Rific and Shelly, who are trapped in a burning church towering over a village. Kane and Lynch are too late to save Rific, but Shelly is still alive. He feels betrayed despite the rescue attempt. As they escape to the pier, Jenny is shot, and Kane carries her body along. Shelly loses his patience and attempts to escape on one of the boats alone but appears to be killed by an explosion, although his boat is seen leaving the pier. Lynch is shot as he escapes on an undamaged boat with Kane, while Jenny's status is still unknown. The boat drifts slowly with the river, while Kane holds Jenny and whispers to her about the letter he tried to send her.
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The plot of this game was fine. I felt like I played this game in order to "get through" it at times.  It wasn't a hard game, but it definitely seemed to lack the refinement of subsequent games.  The graphics were fine, but it felt like xbox 360 graphics put on top of original xbox game play, which basically meant a lot of shooting your way out of things.  There were some locations that were really interesting to play in, like the night club and Havana, Cuba, and there were others that were forgettable (like the abandoned mall).  Overall in this game there was A LOT of duck, hide, cover, shoot, repeat.  Havana (despite the location) felt a lot like that (and I died a lot).  The location took the sting out of repeated playthroughs of the same darned area I played tens of times before.  The most annoying of these "I keep dying" stages was the construction site with the dump truck...I almost rage quit the game at that point.

Overall I'd give this game a 6/10 (maybe 7/10 if I am generous).  I am tempted to give it a 6 because Lynch was shot (and presumably killed).  You can't do this to your buddy that's been with you throughout the game!


Gamerscore: 230/1250
Achievements: 13/52

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Batman Arkham City | Done

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Here's another game a finished a while ago.  This is a mini review of Batman Arkham City for the xbox 360  which I finished back in November 2018.

I am always reluctant to start a new Batman game, but I am (constantly) surprised as how much I end up enjoying the game in the end. This is one of the reasons I left this game for the end (or close to it) when I was going through my remaining non-backward compatible games.



The plot from Wikipedia:
At a press conference held by Bruce Wayne to declare his opposition to Arkham City, TYGER mercenaries arrest and imprison him in Arkham City. Hugo Strange discloses his knowledge of Wayne's dual identity as Batman before releasing him into the prison's criminal populace. While Strange prepares to commence "Protocol 10", Wayne obtains his equipment via airdrop from Alfred Pennyworth, allowing him to become Batman. He first saves Catwoman from being executed by Two-Face, who hopes to gain respect by murdering her. After Joker attempts to assassinate Catwoman, Batman tracks him to his hideout in the Sionis Steelmill, believing Joker may know the truth behind Protocol 10.

There, Batman learns that the unstable properties of the Titan formula are mutating in Joker's blood, gradually killing him. Joker captures Batman and performs a blood transfusion on him, infecting him with the same fatal disease. Joker also reveals that Gotham hospitals have been poisoned with his infected blood. Desperate to save himself and innocent citizens, Batman seeks out Mr. Freeze, who had been developing a cure but has since been kidnapped by the Penguin. Tracking Penguin to the Cyrus Pinkney National History Institute, Batman defeats his forces, his imprisoned monster Solomon Grundy, and ultimately the Penguin himself, before liberating Mr. Freeze.

Freeze tells Batman that he has created a cure, but it is rendered useless via instability. Batman deduces that the restorative properties of Ra's al Ghul's blood can complete the cure and tracks one of his assassins to his underground lair, leading Batman into a confrontation with Ra's and his daughter Talia, Batman's former lover. With Ra's al Ghul's blood, Freeze is able to develop an antidote, but it is stolen by Harley Quinn before Batman can use it. When Batman returns to the Joker, he finds his health has been restored.

While the two fight, Strange activates Protocol 10, which is revealed to be a scheme to wipe out the entire population of Arkham City and destroy the criminal element of Gotham. TYGER troops begin executing inmates as Strange launches missile strikes on Arkham's denizens from his base in Wonder Tower. A missile hits the steelmill, burying Batman under rubble. Before Joker can take advantage of the situation, Talia arrives and offers him immortality in exchange for sparing Batman's life. After escaping with the help of Catwoman, Batman is convinced by Alfred to end Protocol 10 before pursuing Talia and Joker.

Batman infiltrates Wonder Tower and disables Protocol 10. Ra's al Ghul is revealed to be the true mastermind behind Arkham City and mortally wounds Strange for failing to defeat Batman. With his dying breath, Strange activates "Protocol 11", the self-destruction of Wonder Tower. After Ra's commits suicide to avoid capture, Joker contacts Batman, threatening to kill Talia unless Batman meets him at the Monarch Theater. When Batman arrives, Joker demands the cure from Batman but is impaled and apparently killed by Talia while distracted. Talia admits to stealing the cure from Quinn, before she is killed by a second Joker, still stricken with the disease.

The healthy Joker that Talia impaled then reanimates into the shapeshifting Clayface, who is revealed to have been masquerading as a healthy Joker all along at the ailing villain's request. Batman defeats Clayface despite Joker blowing up the theater floor. Batman drinks a portion of the antidote, and destroys Ra's' rejuvenating Lazarus Pit before the Joker can use it. As Batman debates curing his foe, Joker attacks him, causing the antidote vial to inadvertently smash. Batman admits that in spite of everything Joker had done, he would have saved him. After Joker finally succumbs to his illness and dies, Batman carries his body out of Arkham City. As Commissioner Gordon asks what happened, Batman places Joker's body on the hood of a police car and leaves in silence.
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The game felt open-world, but not so much so (like Assassin's Creed Odyssey) that it felt unwieldy.   You, as Batman, end up going from section to section of the city to take care of various objectives for the game; and to some extent the game shepherds you to the sections that correspond to your ability level.  The game mechanic I like the most in this Batman game is the glide mechanic.  Batman can glide from rooftop to rooftop, or ledge to ledge and avoid the craziness that is happening on the ground.  Now being on rooftops isn't necessarily safe (there are enemies there too), but it's easier to evade them in the shadows and stalk them like a predator.  Ground combat is much more melee-oriented and you can succumb to damage done by guns of various sorts.  Batman's enemies have guns, but Batman does not, so it's best to hide in the shadows.   Another aspect of this game I like was that you take on the role of Catwoman for part of the game and you get to see the world through her eyes a bit.  I don't recall other games (I've played) having done this in the past, so it was a nice change of pace.  Catwoman controls differently than Batman, so while you do have to learn a new control scheme, it does feel like you are playing as another character.

Gamerscore: 475/1500
Achievements: 27/70

Overall, a 9/10 for me. I guess  I need to go back at some point to get more of the achievements...


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Review: Auberon: An Expanse Novella

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Auberon: An Expanse Novella Auberon: An Expanse Novella by James S.A. Corey
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

An interesting, short, novella about the newly minted governor of Auberon - Auberon being the breadbasket for the Laconian empire (sort of a replacement for Ganymede). I'd love to learn more about the characters in this book, both the "mafia" and the government side. I liked the saying near the end which was an offshoot of “no plan survives contact with the enemy”. The Laconian empire is very strict with its policies and procedures. Theoretically fine, but do they work in the real world?

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Huzzah! New software!

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I don't often get excited about new software (or now hardware for that matter). Back in the day when I had more time I was more of a tinkerer, so new hardware, and new software, meant more exciting playtime.  These days I am much more pragmatic about my tools, which means I don't often get excited about new things.  There are some tools though that I do get excited about, especially when I get them at a discount 😜.  This is one of those occasions.

StackSocial had a special the other day.  Every so often they have Mac app bundles.  I don't often bite, but this particular bundle appealed to me.  Part of the bundle was Rapidweaver 8, as well as text-expander (a tool that is often touted by Bonnie Stachowiak on her Teaching in Higher Ed podcast.  I've been using Rapidweaver for a long time now.  I think I started using the software when I got Rapidweaver 3 in 2006 as part of another bundle. I upgraded to RW5 which was the last RW version to support my old MacMini Core 2 Duo (Late 2006), but I had to keep a very specific version of RW5, with very specific versions of plugins running on it since different combinations of these two things started breaking after 2016.  I had only updated my website once in a while before because updating it meant that I needed to bring the MacMini out of retirement, plug it in, and work in a tentative environment.  Well...no longer!  😁.  I installed RW8 on my newer MacMini in the common room and took it for a spin.  As with any upgrade I expected that I will need to change some things.... so here is what works and what doesn't it:


  • Plug-ins - they are all 6 years out of date (at least).  The architecture changed, and the old plug-ins do not work with the new RW.  So, my current files don't covert properly. I've gotten demo versions of the plug-ins, so at least I can open my files, but it seems like I'll need some plug-ins.  Which is fine, I see that new features have been added to the things I used.
  • Main website:  I was surprised that this was mostly OK.  I could just tweak a few things (once I get the updated plug-ins) and with minor changes get up and running on RW8
  • Resume site file: Again mostly OK
  • Experimental CV site: no text or content at all.  Agh! This is my "everything and the kitchen sink" site. It's and offline site, and for my own accounting.  There really is not need for it to be a website, but I like the usability of a website over a long word document.  I guess I'll need to rethink this one.
I guess I'll be taking a little time off dissertating this winter to play with RW8 :-) 
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