v6.2.1 - moving along, a point increase at a time

Για όσους έχουν γάτους

Από το κόμικ the gamercat, της περασμένη εβδομάδας ;-) Έτσι για να γελάσουμε λίγο με τους μικρούς μας "φίλους" :p

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Halo Wars | Done!

This past weekend (and after about 20 hours of playtime) I finished Halo Wars on the xbox 360. I've been kind of avoiding Halo Wars because it's an RTS game (real time strategy) and I haven't really gotten very much into an RTS since Warcraft II: The tides of darkness (which I played back in 1996 on my Performa 635).  In this game, unlike most other Halo games, your protagonist is just a regular Joe Grunt, named Sgt. Forge.  Not an ODST, and certainly not a Spartan.  While there are Spartans (and ODSTs) in the game, the person that is pulling it all together is a regular marine.

The basic gist of the story is that the carrier vessel called the Spirit of Fire, is sent to a couple of planets that are under covenant attack.  They clean house and evacuate civilians, and fight back some of the covenant, but their scientist (who can decipher Forerunner code) gets abducted by the covenant so that they can get access to the Forerunner's arsenal of weapons (big ships that can blow away humanity).  So, the Spirit of Fire and with it Sgt. Forge try to head them off and stop this. In the end (of course) you are successful in blowing up the Forerunner facility (well, you blow up the sun in the middle of that Dyson sphere, which annihilated everything in it) so you save the day.  The thing that rubbed me the wrong way was that your main character (Forge) actually sacrifices himself for this.  Argh.  Not again! Same thing happened in Halo: Reach.  Why kill of the protagonist?

The game play seems pretty standard RTS (at least from what I remember from the last time I played an RTS).  Build a base, improve the base, make some soldiers (of different classes), defend you base, and dominate over the enemy faction by destroying their bases.  The game play was pretty good, and I think the team did a pretty good job of making an RTS work with a game controller.  The only thing I really didn't like about the game mechanics was the amnesia that the game has from stage to stage.  In each stage you need to "research" things like being able to have more troops, or having a higher yield on your missile strikes, or being able to train ODSTs.  Perhaps "research" was a poor choice of wording in the game.  Maybe having a different level of base would allow you to accommodate some of these things better than a lower level base, but in reality once you've researched ODST training in an earlier level, it should be available from the start of the next level.

In terms of achievements: 7 achievements earned, making for 250/1200 points, or 21% of the total.  I was mostly interested in the story, and not the grind to earn more achievements.  Maybe in about 10 years I'll come back to this :p  Overall, the game was a solid 8/10 for me.

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Review: The Cathedral & the Bazaar: Musings on Linux and Open Source by an Accidental Revolutionary

The Cathedral & the Bazaar: Musings on Linux and Open Source by an Accidental Revolutionary The Cathedral & the Bazaar: Musings on Linux and Open Source by an Accidental Revolutionary by Eric S. Raymond
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Quite an interesting collection of essays on open source programming and culture. GoodReads tells me I've read this before, but I wonder if I just read the essay with the same name rather than the whole book (I didn't remember it, or perhaps I see it now in a different light).  I think that we need to adapt these points of view, or ethos, of the Bazzar to higher education :-) One might say that we are already there, but I'd say "yes, but with an asterisk" next to that statement. It certainly reminded me a little of my own collaborative working experiences.

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Music Rewind: Indila - Derniere Danse

Not all that old, but I was just reminded of the song the other day on a dance show.  It's funny that I was vaguely aware of the song when it came out, but I never bothered to put it on any playlists...and it was summarily forgotten (I blame MOOCs...and school :p)

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Adieu Raptr!

Well, in a couple of weeks Raptr is pulling the plug on the video-game social network which originally aimed to bring together a more unified view of gamers by allowing people to track the amount of time they put into playing games, showing off their achievements outside of closed and platform-specific views, and bringing people who play similar games together.  I actually liked this quite a lot because I could track my PC game playing time, my xbox achievements, things from my PSP, and so on.  It actually pulled in achievements (for quite some time) from a variety of networks, so you ended up having a gamer score for specific games, and in aggregate.

I guess technology changes made it not possible to continue down this road, and some gaming achievement systems (like Apple's gameroom) didn't have hooks for external services like this one, so it was harder to track time and achievements on those games.  They did pivot to game optimization as their main focus, but that's where they lost me, since most of the games I play need to play on a Surface Pro 3 (and most are old).  Well, I guess it's Adieu Raptr.  It was good to have you while you lasted :-)

Here is what my profile looked like near the end:

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This week in new musis - Jiggy

This comes from a facebook recommendation. When I first saw the video (without music on) I thought it was people replicating the music video dance (a la macarena) - but nope. This is the video :p

Silent Place by Jiggy
Verdict: Very riverdance-y.  Not bad, just not sure what to make of it...

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Review: Legacies: Book #3: Purgatory's Key

Legacies: Book #3: Purgatory's Key Legacies: Book #3: Purgatory's Key by Dayton Ward
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was the third in the "legacies" trilogy that I started reading this past summer. Fun book. I wouldn't say that the TOS crew is "my" crew (was introduced to Star Trek with TNG), but it was a fun novel to listen to (audiobook format), and it does give a bit more background into "number 1" (Majel Barrett's character in the original pilot episode of TOS). I do wonder if there are other books out there that have Captain Una as the main character.  Wonder if she ever made it to the Admiralty :-)

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Sev TNG: Parting gift for the Borg

I do wonder what Wesley would have done for the borg, given his 'traveler' abilities and all. This alternate actually made me laugh: I locked him in a closet with Barf and a dribble!

(original archive here)

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Review: Collaboration 2.0: Technology and Best Practices for Successful Collaboration in a Web 2.0 World

Collaboration 2.0: Technology and Best Practices for Successful Collaboration in a Web 2.0 World Collaboration 2.0: Technology and Best Practices for Successful Collaboration in a Web 2.0 World by David Coleman
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Not a bad read. The technology bit is a little outdated by this point. I think there is some good stuff here, if you ignore the technology. For a book that says that technology and process need to go hand-in-hand, it sure does focus on technology a lot :-). Despite the shortcomings of the book there were some interesting tidbits that could have a potential use in my doctoral research.

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Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory | Done

[Spoilers] My quest to complete all current Splinter Cell games is complete!  Last week (right before the semester start) I got to finish the last of the original Splinter Cell trilogy on the xbox. The game was originally released for the original xbox, but though the magic of backward compatibility I played this on my 360. This game played fairly well in compatibility mode. The compatibility mode provided the game in widescreen which made it feel a little more immersive than playing it in 4:3. There were some glitches (not sure if it was compatibility related, or an issue with the original game) wherein enemies were comically slow at times (which made it easier for me to sneak up and grab them).

The game, despite its age, was quite fun and you can really trace the evolution of gameplay (and abilities that Sam Fisher has in these games) while playing them in order.  The game follows an incident between Japan, the Koreas, and China where Japan creates an information defense force (I-SDF, some people see this as a violation of the post WWII constitution), but there isn't a lot of time to think because North Korea is preparing its armaments...and invading South Korea...and all hell breaks loose.   At the end of the game, a rogue Admiral in Japan (the I-SDF guy).  I have to say that it was a little weird playing this game with all the current craziness happening with Kim Jong Un in North Korea...

The overall plot of the story wasn't bad, but what really stunk was the ending.  Basically, at the end, people (your team) back at HQ patting themselves on the back up over coffee on a job well done. Seems like a poor ending (just like the second game, which was just ridiculous) :-)

In terms of product placement, I did notice a whole heck of a lot of Nokia advertising on people's monitors.  In the first game the OpSat was a Palm Pilot, the second game had a Sony Ericcson P900 as the OpSat (even though the UI wasn't UIQ, a bit of a #fail if you ask me), but in this third game the OpSat was a little more generic, perhaps opting for ads in other places (like people's computer monitors).

As an aside: Am I the only person who thought of "Super Dimension Fortress Macross" when reading I-SDF?

Overall, this game was a 8/10 for me.  Anyone else play this?  What did you think?

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