I have decided to get myself a cabin on the lake. I thought about a cabin in the woods, but I saw Joss Whedon's documentary and now I'm scared some evil corporation would have creatures waiting to devour me.
Anyway, I'm getting a place on the lake. It's meant to be a place to get away from it all and learn how to relax. As such, I want to be somewhat minimalist in terms of technology. My first thought was simple: no tv, no internet. However, this isn't feasible for 2 reasons. First, there may be times when I need to work. Crises can arise, or I may decide to work from home on a Friday to get a jump on the weekend. Second, in the fall, college football season will be upon us and there is absolutely no way I can live in a house where I cannot watch my games.
The way I figure it, I will need at least internet. I've gone ahead and made the order to have internet service established at the place. I've not pulled the trigger on tv for 2 reasons. First, Charter, the only game in town at this location for internet, has not yet signed up to carry the SEC Network in the fall. Second, I wonder if I can legitimately "cut the cord" and not have any cable tv service.
My plan is to get a PS3 for the cabin. This would allow for streaming of netflix and amazon and the ability to play blu-ray discs. I could elect to get hulu, but that's not a big deal. However, I couldn't find a Watch ESPN app on my main PS3 last night. I've thought about putting a slingbox at home, and then using the PS3 browser to hook into that and catch the games, but there is still the problem of Watch ESPN. See, once or twice a year, there is a pay per view game. It's typically against the Little Sisters of the Poor, and thus, isn't a compelling game, but it is still required viewing. These are usually shown for free on ESPN3/Watch ESPN. However, with the slingbox, I wouldnt have access to those apps. I'm not sure how watch ESPN works, and maybe someone can shed some light. Am I allowed to watch it anywhere, regardless of ISP since I have a login under my current ISP that does provide the service, or do I have to be on their pipe to watch it? If I can just log in and watch regardless of ISP, then I can just hook my laptop up for those games. I just don't think that's the way it works.
Another option would be to put a VPN gateway at the cabin and one at the house, so everything I do online at the cabin would be routed to my house and thus, carry my AT&T IP address, qualifying me for that service. This comes out a bit cheaper than the PS3/Slingbox idea, but then I'm kind of SOL on the CBS games, unless I can pick up the signal OTA. With that, I would probably need a FireTV or Apple TV to get the ESPN app and netflix/amazon as I think the laptop connected to the tv may not work as well I hope.
It just seems wasteful to buy cable tv service at nearly $100/month after adding the packages to get the right sports channels.
Also, on the subject of a cabin on the lake, I'm considering a jet ski. I used to hate jet skis, but then I played Kinect Sports Rivals, and thought, gee, this could be fun. Since I'm quite the neophyte, I was looking at a SeaDoo Spark, which is quite an entry level pwc. I don't need anything too fancy, and not trying to break the bank. Wondering if anyone with more experience in personal watercraft may have an opinion.
<shrug>first world problems, I guess</shrug>
So, I'm not a fan of pvp. I'm also not a fan of zombies. I can't stand early access games on Steam.
Why the hell have I logged over 36 hours on Rust, across three different servers over the past couple of weeks?
My first server was a pve, since I hate pvp. This was nice, because I could go around and harvest my stuff without worrying about people griefing me. My aversion to pvp goes back to early MMO's like Everquest, or even WoW, and continues up to CoD:MW2. I don't like pvp, because the people I'm going up against are generally asshats who only want to be complete jerks online.
That being said, with regard to Rust, pvp is an absolute necessity. A few days ago, I built a house into the side of a mountain. There was a slim chance that someone could get in from the side of mountain, and lo and behold, someone did. I entered my house and there's this guy running around. I was pissed. "Who the HELL are you?" I said into my mic. He didn't answer, he just went around to the campfires and furnace, looking to loot whatever he could (luckily, my good stuff was in a safe room behind a couple metal doors). Then, it clicked. If I were on a pvp server, and someone did this, I could pull out my shotgun and persuade them to leave or meet Jesus.
After that debacle, I joined a pvp server. It was sparsely populated, so I was able to build up a pretty good arsenal quickly and had a good time. When I would encounter people out in the open, there was more of a helpful spirit. We weren't out to kill each other, but if one of us tried to wrong the other, there would be trouble. To my sadness, I logged in one day and that server was gone. My friend was playing on another pvp server and asked me to join. I did, and immediately, I had a guy who was way more equipped than me standing right by me. "oh shit", I thought. "The griefing is about to begin". He said "hey man, you new here? Who are you with?" I answered, expecting a bullet to the face, but he gave me food, some clothing and then said "aw, I don't have an extra gun, but take this hatchet". Sure, I still have to be on the lookout and not invite trouble, but at least with the threat there that I could harm the offender, it seems to keep people in check.
Maybe I'm just naive, and happened upon a server with a lower population and composed of more like minded folk who just want to build their fortress and craft some stuff. On the other hand, maybe, just maybe, pvp does work.
Haven't blogged in a while. Figured I'd do a brain dump on what's been going on.
Christmas - went up to Massachusetts with the lady and kids for a few days. It was a good time. Scored a few interesting books - Star Wars Frames, The Making of Star Wars and The Making of Empire Strikes Back. Unfortunately, Frames was hella heavy (or wicked heavy as they say up there), so it's being shipped back to to GA. My lady bought me a foam Han Solo in Carbonite prop. It's only the Han Solo part, so I'm going to have to build the enclosure and all of that. Should be a very fun project. All in all, it was a Star Wars-y Christmas.
On the subject of Star Wars - I picked up the radio dramas from the 80's. Putting some of the voices asisde, I thought Star Wars was very well done, and they did a good job fleshing out some of the backstory. I'm only about a third of the way through Empire, but so far, it doesn't seem to have as much extra stuff in it as Star Wars did.
Video Gaming - I haven't done much with the PS4 in a while. After numerous issues with my save file in Battlefield 4, I just shelved it. Killzone Shadowfall didn't float my boat. Speaking of boats, I kind of got bored with them in AC4, so I haven't played that much.
On the Xbox One side, I've been spending most time in Max: The Curse of Brotherhood and Peggle 2. Max is a bullshit, cheap as shit game that relies on shitty design. The game is punishing, and just makes you die by trial and error. The visuals are top notch though. Peggle 2 is just Peggle. It gives that "just one more try" feeling, even at 2:30am. I haven't been back to Dead Rising 3 in a while. Had fun with Ryse. Still suck at Madden even on the Xbox One. Haven't played Forza in a while.
I picked up a lot of interesting stuff on the Steam sale. I try to avoid early access games, but Darkout seemed very interesting. It's kind of like Terraria with a sci-fi angle. Still looking to try out Nether and 7 Days to Die. Yes, zombies aren't really my thing, but damn it, they're freakin' everywhere.
Board Gaming - I ran the woman and kids through Dead Panic the other night. I dumbed down some rules a bit as the kids haven't played Castle Panic yet. I'm not really about zombies, but the game does the whole Zombie swarm very well. I kind of screwed us from the start when I picked a very bad event card that essentially doubled the zombies in play. I feel it is a lot tougher to win than Castle Panic. Castle Panic, while fun, can be easily dominated by one or two strong personalities playing. Dead Panic, on the other hand, really puts you behind the 8 ball from the onset, and you're almost playing catch-up from the start. Also ran the kids through Munchkin. I keep forgetting what a fun game it can be.
Painting - I'm not an artist. I like creative writing, but I can't draw to save my life. The other night, my lady took me to a painting class. I have to admit, it was a lot of fun, and my painting actually came out quite well for a first effort. I'm looking forward to doing some more, and have a couple ideas for some new projects.
I pondered talking about some of the results in college football, but it's been such a buzzkill.
I've been halfheartedly investigating the possibility of getting a vintage pinball machine for the house. My research seems to indicate that maintenance can be a bear.
That's about that. I'm ready for spring to spring.
The PS4 is nearly upon us, and for the life of me, I can't find a damn launch game to play on it. I originally had the plan of going with Watch Dogs, with Drive Club as the backup racing game - I suck at racing games, so a f2p game that I can grow with sounds pretty nifty. Alas, these two are delayed, so what is there really to get? Knack seems to be missing the mark so far, and I believe the xbox will be my lead platform for multiplats due to my preference for the xbox style controller.
I figured I would go with Killzone, so I booted up KZ2 this weekend to get familiar with the universe. I found the controls to be crap, and made the game nearly unplayable for me. I felt like the controller was working against me, and it was just a frustrating effort. I can get my head around using R1 for shoot, rather than the more intuitive R2, but R3 being used for a critical mechanic like iron sights/zoom is a big problem. Couple with that the inability for sticky crouch, and crouching being L2, which seems wrong and I just can't get into this game. I analyzed my controller preferences and I think where I'm failing is that I expect character movement to be thumbs, weapons to be fingers and the KZ2 control scheme (yes, I tried a couple) seem to expect shooter controls to be an exercise in koyaanisqatsi. Needless to say, KZ4 will not be making an apperance in my shopping cart.
That leaves me in a dilly of a pickle. My only other thought is to get Assassin's Creed on the 4, but to be honest, I'm not a huge fan of Assassin's Creed. It's fun for a few hours, then I lose interest. Not saying I won't ever buy Assassin's Creed 4, but I'm going to wait for the inevitable $20 price in a few months. Also, according to the information I've seen thus far, it doesn't seem like ACIV on the PS4 is a noticeable increase over current gen. I want something that makes me feel like I did the right thing by early adopting. Sure, I could download DCUO, and that may be fun, but is it "spankin' new system" fun? I'm just not seeing a compelling reason to own the PS4 until The Order 1886 comes out.
I've also gotten the recommendation to keep the PS4 preorder and test the waters after release to see if I can make a quick profit by selling it. While this sounds fine, I'm not sure there will be shortage of PS4's. Releasing within 1 week of the xbox, and with a fairly paltry launch lineup, Sony doesn't want people who want to play BF4 or COD to just change their minds to the Bone - ditto MSFT. I think these mostly bullshit "shortages" of console releases past would work against both companies this year and as such, there will be plenty of stock for each.
On the Xbox One front (and really, I think Bone is a fine nickname for the system, I don't know why MSFT disagrees) - I think I'm going with Dead Rising 3 and maybe Forza 5. I will get the Killer Instinct "generous demo" and see where it goes from there. I may pick up Just Dance 2014 for the kids, so they can experience some new console fun. I'm also keeping an eye on Ryse. It looks really nice graphics wise, but I'm skeptical on the game itself - would like to be more informed before making that purchase. Since I don't play CoD or BF competitively, I'm going to wait until I've finished MW3 before heading into Ghosts. BF, I may pick up, may not - I'm more a fan of the Bad Company campaign. My lady doesn't know it yet, but she's fixing to be pissed off since Peggle 2 is being pushed back.
Playing: Diablo 3 on the 360. Sure, I have it on the PC, but there is something fun and invigorating about playing it on the console. Having a great time with the game through 2 playthroughs and just starting hell mode. Tried playing Kingdom Hearts 1.5 on the PS3 and had to tap out early on. Just found the controls too floaty, and way too much talking, not enough playing.
Debating: So we have both PS4 and the BOne coming out in a little less than 2 months time. I can't for the life of me pick out any launch titles. SteamOS looks interesting, but am I the only one who thinks there's a ton of risk with it as well? Anyhoo, I'm looking forward to building a steam machine of my own whenever they release SteamOS.
Reading: Star Wars comic by Dark Horse. A good glimpse into life after ANH. Also picked up "The Star Wars" which is based on the original Lucas draft. It's okay, but weird. Issue 2 should be out soon. "real books"? I have a couple in my queue, which I haven't gotten to, but nothing worth noting at present.
Playing (Analog): DCC RPG. This has been a fun game to get into. The randomness of the character generation was great and fit in with what the game is trying to do so well - ie, you're not a hero, you're just a poor schmuck who wanders into a dungeon. You'll probably die, but you might get a character up to level 1. Lots of fun. Wish I could get into the Star Wars Edge of the Empire RPG as much. Really want to play more board games but college football is upon us.
Watching: Dexter series finale was a letdown. Breaking Bad was near perfect. I'm dieting again, so don't like to sit idle by the tv, gets me thinking too much about pretzels.
Taking: In my last blog post, I mentioned how red wine was soothing my heartburn pain. My doctor theorized that it was anxiety. Being a small business owner, I do subject myself to stress quite a bit, so I followed his advice and tried Ativan for 2 weeks. Son of a bitch, the shit worked. I don't really want to get dependent upon a benzo, so I took the two week course and didn't get a refill. Of course, now, the pain is back. However, I may have been able to lessen it some with Kava - a south pacific herb that some hippies say promotes relaxation. So far, I can say that my chest pain, while not completely gone, is doing better than being on nothing. As another benefit, I swear I'm feeling better moodwise. This could be a placebo effect, or a result of the aforementioned diet, but it has been an interesting experiment.
Well, that's about that for the time being. Alabama has mighty Georgia State this weekend, so I don't anticipate any stress pains there. The SEC is looking weird this season. I don't know yet if Bama, UGA or LSU are for real A&M's defense will cost them 2 or 3 more games. Auburn is playing 60 minutes of football, even when outgunned. Tennessee is really bad. South Carolina's defense looks bad - I think Clowney's already signed with Jay-Z and is just biding his time to his million dollar payday.
After I got my gall bladder taken out in February, I've had awful acid reflux. The discomfort is there all the time, and sometimes, it hurts like a motherfucker. On Monday, I had a sales dinner with a partner company and we got a bottle of Zin. I had 3 glasses, and wouldn't you know, no more acid reflux pain for the rest of Monday and all of Tuesday. It started hurting again today, so I stopped off at the store and got a 4 pack of the single serving bottles of cab (I'm not much of a drinker these days). I drank one, and lo and behold, my symptoms have vanished. I wonder if I'm on to something...
Dragon*Con is coming this weekend. I'm not really into it this year. After last year's Celebration VI and Dragon*Con falling on subsequent weekends, I'm kind of burnt out on cons. I kind of want to go, but I'm already planning on skipping Saturday so I can either attend the Alabama game at the GA Dome, or watch it at home. I think I'm going to stick to board gaming for D*C this year. I'm about to start a DCC campaign, and they're running some Pathfinder campaigns, so that may be fun. I'm going to skip the parade. I still love the 501st and all my Star Wars costumes, just not a fan of some of the politics. Speaking of costumes, my Tie Pilot was approved, and I'm working on an Emperor Palpatine now. Unfortunately, my source for robes seems to be flaking out, so that may be a long while.
Game wise, I've been playing a lot of Marvel Heroes lately. Still playing Neverwinter, and was suckered into giving FF XIV another try. Papers, Please is probably the most fun I've had with a game in ages.
Board gaming wise, I've been on a Ticket to Ride kick and try to play it analog, digital or what have you as much as I can. I'm also getting more comfortable with X-Wing Miniatures. I was hoping for a tournament at Dragon*Con, but no such luck. I also picked up Space Hulk Death Angel card game, it's a fun but wicked hard solo experience. I've yet to play with a group of people.
Last weekend, the lady went to some con in Kentucky and I stayed home and tended to the wicked children. I decided to take them to see Pacific Rim, since what 9 and 11 year old boys wouldn't want to see giant robots fighting giant monsters. Going into it, I had zero expectations.
This flick was awesome - if taken for what it is - a summer popcorn movie. Yes, there are plot holes you can walk a jaeger through, yes, the acting is hammy, yes, it reminds one of a 90's era NES game, yes, the action is in your face and yes, the film is very predictable. However, all of this works and I must say, this is probably the most fun I've had with a movie in a long, long time. I'm not saying it's the best movie in any genre, just that it's a real fun way to spend 2 hours. Sure, previous summer movies like Avengers were great and all, but I went into those with such high expectations that I started the experience already on the "I'm entertained curve".
Anyway, I highly suggest you landspeeder, don't bantha over to Pacific Rim.
Think I'll go see the conjuring tonight. My friend commented that it made him nauseous. I said "odd, it doesn't look that gory" and he said "It's not, it was the tension that got to me". I think this will be a fun movie.
Last Tuesday, I loaded up the woman and the kids and the dog and me in a rented Chrysler Town & Country minivan. On the first day, I drove about 13 hours and ended up in Clinton, NJ, the second day was a short trip up to SE Mass. Everyone was well behaved and the drive could not have gone better. I got into a slight bind on the GW Bridge in NYC when there wasn't a person in the booth to take my $13 toll, so I expect to be fined for slipping through, but that was the worst of it.
I spent too much time in Plymouth, MA, but that was out of necessity. The first day was general sightseeing, the second day was a whale watch, followed up by surf and turf in Mattapoisett. Had a great Saturday in town with the USS Constitution, some lunch in the North End and a full walk of the Freedom Trail (25000 steps on the fitbit that day!). We also spent some time in Salem, did a ghost tour that was "meh". Spent a while in Connecticut catching up with my sister and her family. I wish I would have had a little more time to do the Cape up properly, but that just wasn't in the cards.
My dog did very well in the hotel for the first two nights, then got a little too comfortable and began to bark/growl at anyone who walked by the door. This was a real drain on sleeping, so I had him stay with my parents. They were happy to have him, I think.
I am very impressed with how well the kids behaved. We had literally ZERO blowups on the drive. I could not have expected that with an 11 and 9 year old. As the kids were behaving so well, they did get to watch the entire Star Wars prequel trilogy (yeah yeah, some will say that's a punishment) and Empire Strikes Back.
The Town & Country was a surprising ride. It was comfortable, well appointed and got very good mileage (around 27 mpg on the trip back). It took about 2 tanks to go from Taunton MA to Roswell GA. In total, I put 2780 miles on that thing.
After being away for a week, I did have to stop and pick up NCAA 14 for the 360, and then decided to stop by the game store for the Star Wars Edge of the Empire core rulebook and game master's guide. I hope to dive into that. I also picked up the Star Wars LCG Edge of Darkness expansion.
The woman and the kids are off to do a cub scout camping excursion so I'm home alone for the next couple of days. Hopefully I'll be able to recharge some. I've got tickets to the CONCACAF quarterfinals at the Georgia Dome on Saturday, looks like the games will be Panama vs Cuba and Mexico vs Trinidad & Tobago. Kind of upset that we didn't draw the US. Oh well, I should be able to check out some attractive Latin women at the very least if the games get boring. I guess I'll pull for Panama since they uncovered North Korea trying to smuggle military equipment from Cuba. I guess I'll also pull for Mexico since it's not fair that they have to play both Trinidad AND Tobago at the same time. ;-)
The lady (and my mom) have been hounding me for a while to take everyone up to Boston for a summer vacation. I'm not usually one for vacations as such - I have a hard time relaxing. I have been on 2 real vacations since leaving college 18 years ago. So, with the Boston trip, I have been keeping it in mind, but it wasn't until earlier this week that the brevity of summer became apparent. I asked the lady when the boys were due to go back to school. The answer: August 12! I then had her run down the schedule and it looks like next week is about the only time we can make this trip. Of course, flights are crazy expensive, so I came up with the idea of renting a minivan and driving up. I'm kind of looking forward to it, as I've found that since quitting smoking, driving is a lot more pleasurable/tolerable. Also, I get to take my dog with me, so that's cool. I've planned out a good amount of things to do while we're up there, and it does look like this will be an active vacation with a lot of walking throughout Boston and the Cape. Of course, this morning, I woke up to a stiff back, and just driving to work was not fun, so who knows how 17-19 hours in a car will work out.
The bad back will have to get better soon as tonight, I'm scheduled to go visit friends in Alabama for the weekend. I plan on bringing my smoker and cooking up a nice turkey. The lady will be brining that today, and I just need to figure out what kind of wood I want to use. I'm currently thinking of going with cherry wood, and maybe finishing it off with a bit of hickory. Of course, we're scheduled to have rain all weekend, so I'm trying to decide what games to bring. My friends enjoyed Castle Panic last time, so I'll bring that, Pandemic, Cards Against Humanity and maybe King of Tokyo to round it out. Dixit may be another good one.
So, I got an Ouya. The way I figure, at it's core, there's an interesting little machine that can be hacked and played with. Upon initial setup, I came away very unimpressed. Not so much with the Ouya itself, it seems snappy, has a fun little form factor. No, the games seem to be mostly of "bush league" quality. I downloaded some emulators as that was about all that looked appealing to me. There is a Plex app, so if you're of the Plex persuasion, this could be a nice little gadget for you. So far, I haven't dabbled with Plex, so that feature is lost on me, however, I can appreciate it being there - after all, I think the most readily apparent hack for the device would be in a media server capacity. The controller isn't bad, a bit clunky and not quite as high quality as an Xbox 360 controller, but overall, pretty decent. It takes 2 AA batteries, and the placement of the batteries is kind of weird - you have to remove the two front plates and install one battery on the right, one on the left. Kind of goofy, but not a dealbreaker. Hopefully, there will be something worth playing on it at some point. I cringe at the likes of "Get to tha Choppa!!1". While it's nice that every game has a demo version, you still have to download these to try them out. So, you still have to decide if you want to even invest the time taken to download the better part of a GB to try something that you really have no idea about. It would be cool if they included streaming trailers or a direct feed to people playing the game (a feature OnLive had that was underappreciated) to get a feel for the game. Also, there is no mention of the price of the game until after you download the trial. Not a huge deal, but a bit of a blip in the user experience. So far, I think there's some potential there, but let's see if it gets mired down in crappy games or if we start to see some innovation.
As a followup to my board game discussion - a pox on Raider30! Long story short - the other day traffic was hella bad. By trying to avoid congestion, I ended up at the game store near my house, and worn out from fighting traffic, decided to buy the Marvel deckbuilding game, Legendary, as well as it's expansion (Raider30's suggestion). There is, I believe, a metric shit-ton of cards between these two boxes. Also, the cards are of a level of sturdiness that, while not poor quality, suggest the use of protective sleeves. To make matters worse, these cards then have to be organized into the huge box. The game provides dividers, and there are custom dividers on board game geek. I've had the game for 2 days and I'm not yet done getting it ready for first play!
Aside from that, the kids are enjoying their foray into D&D 4th edition. We've gotten through the red box character creation quest and tonight, the plan is to start our first true team adventure.