My Archives: March 2006

Friday, March 24, 2006

Haha, I love how I titled the post "Pointless Rambling" since that's all I ever actually do here. Redundancy for the win!

After taking my Psychology test yesterday (which I probably got a B on...possible variation of one letter grade in either direction), I got to pondering my own development...go figure, I'd just spent 4 days studying learning and human life-cycle development. As I mulled it further, I figured I'd toss it up here as something of a "Review of Krinny." In other words, this is probably why I'm so screwed up.

For those who are unaware, I'm a former military brat...Air Force to be exact. In case you didn't know, the military moves people around quite frequently...this meant that I had to move as well. We averaged every 3-4 years another move...which makes talking to people who still live in the same house they were born in quite strange. Anyway, my early life constitued Harrisburg, PA to San Antonio, TX to Colorado Springs CO, to Hampton, VA to York County, VA (which may not seem that far, but when you're talking about 10 miles via highway to someone below driving age, that might as well be another state).

Where am I going with that? Well, as a result of all those moves, making friends was quite difficult for me. It seemed like about that time that you had a steady friendship, it was time to move again. Obviously to a child, who doesn't fully understand all the things going on around them, this is not a fun experience. My folks had purchased an Apple IIc computer at some point (I believe in Colorado) and I began using this at a fairly young age (5 or 6). As the moves went on, my attachment to the computer and things like it (such as our old Nintendo) became more concrete as they were always available, whereas friends I'd make were effectively gone with each move (from the child's perspective at any rate...and it was the 80s and early 90s, so means of communication were still somewhat Internet, no cell phones for kids, etc.).

The computer (and by computer I'm also including computer-like things), in a sense, began to fill that "best friend" role. It was something that could keep me amused, could help me learn, and could even allow me to create. If I wanted to write a story, I could...if I wanted to pretend to be someone else for a while in a game, I could. I think that need being so readily and easily fufilled in some ways diminished my desire to pick up "social" skills. While anyone who's met me knows I'm not exactly the quiet type who wants to get out of a room as fast as they can, they can also tell you that I'm not someone who goes out of their way to seek social interaction. I think that's a lasting side-effect of those childhood years...why spend the effort on making friends I'd eventually lose when I could fill the same niches in a different way?

That obviously has had some negative impacts. I think my gradual weight gain is due mainly to a particularly sedentary lifestyle. With no social demands to get me out and about, the energy consumption is quite low. Also, I can go on and on for lengths about games and computer gear, but am really, really bad at describing any problems I'm having with other people. I just lack that same reference of experience and comfort in talking about it.

Now, it's also had some good side effects. I don't waste money on a lot of pointless activities. I know one guy who goes out every weekend and spends about a hundred dollars a weekend. $400 a month, just for that. I'll go out maybe once a month with people and spend a far more reasonable $60-80 a month. Is that "better"? Meh, he's got a steady girlfriend and an active lifestyle, but I don't think he's any happier for all that. On the flip side, I don't really notice when payday is since I can afford to pay my bills fairly readily with the money saved while he sometimes has to be sligthly concerned as he'll have $100 to last for two weeks. Also, it has had the obvious benefit of that which I learned as a child is what I'm currently paid to do...that innate understanding of my "friends" allowing me to, in a sense, just "know" what is wrong and where to go to fix it.

Also, with the emergence of the computer as a communication tool, I've come into contact with an insane world of people that I would have had no way of knowing otherwise. Before, my friends were isolated little groups here and there, and usually had some unifying theme to them. Now, as a result of the computer, I have friends ranging from people still in their teens to folks up past 40 and beyond. My affiliation with online gaming clubs has really produced something of an online family unit. Do they completely replace the real world? No, but they provide such a similar support network that they take on more of the day-to-day roles. Not sure what it'd be like without those guys, but I'm fairly sure it wouldn't be good.

Anyway, I've rambled on for long enough now I suppose...but I thought it was interesting how one minor detail (my father being in the military) can lead to the events that nearly define what a person does and becomes.

Posted by krinsath @ 10:30 AM EST [Link] [No Purges]

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Yeah...being sick = not fun. Just in case anyone wanted an update on that. Maybe you heard that being sick was the new rage...the new "it" thing to do. I assure you, it still sucks.

On the upside, lost a small bit of weight, and got off of work for three days. Sure, it would have been nicer had I actually been capable of doing anything worthwhile on those three days, but a break isn't always bad.

Got to see my brother Saturday, so that was nice I suppose. I've just always hated trips that involve you being on the road longer than you're actually at a location. Granted, my brother's a special case since he's usually out of the country, but the point remains.

I've got to take a pyschology test this week (probably this afternoon), which is "teh ubersuck". What's evil is that the class doesn't stop for them, it's just part of what you're doing. I also have a test in my programming class, that is our assignment. Sure, it sucks, but at least that's all we have to do. I do think my understanding of the first chapter on this psych test was diminished by the fact that we had to learn it at the same time we were preparing for our last test. Blah. Being sick didn't help, but at least I had a chance to read the, to see if I remember it. I also need to get started on the project for that class that we were somewhat supposed to be doing throughout. Believe it's due in about a month.

On to my usual babbling about games. Battle for Middle-Earth II...meh. Again, the same thing for Empire at War...counter-units counter too well. The touting of walls is great and kind of fun....except that one siege engine with an easily obtainable upgrade can lay waste to whole swathes of it. Kind of takes the entire fun out of the feature, especially when it's bugged (at least...I'd hope such stupidity was unintentional) that you basically have to tear down an entire section of wall should one hub get destroyed. I don't get what's with the designers behind these RTSes. They're very cookie-cutter Rock-Paper-Scissors sort of things, which I find quite boring. It's not as bad as all that, but the most effective means of fighting boil down to that...fighting cavalry? Build pikemen. Opponent like building archers? Build cavalry. Pikemen got you down? Build swordsmen. Guess I'm thinking back to Dawn of War where the factions were significantly different. Think that's the problem with both these franchises is that they've basically got the same methodology and framework behind both sides. Minor variations, but at the end of the day they're the same forces with different skins. In DoW, the marines function fundamentally different from the Orks, who in turn are different from the Guard, who in turn are different from the Eldar. There's a bit of overlap between the different sides, but they really are different too.

Snagged a copy of Oblivion the other day, which was one of my main reasons for wanting to get an Xbox 360. It was also why I didn't stress too much when it didn't arrive for 4 months after I ordered it, since the game I wanted it for (at the moment) wouldn't be out until March anyway. Haven't gotten too far into it yet (there was a Molten Core attunement run last night...had to quasi-pay attention to that) but any game that lets you, quite literally, steal horses = win. Plus at level 1 I had a mount...take that WoW with your stupid "gotta be level 40" restriction. As with all Elder Scrolls yourself a favor and buy the strategy guide. Bethesda puts way too much stuff into these games for you to ever figure it all out on your own. If you're not into looking ahead, that's fine...but get it anyway for when you get absolutely stumped (if Morrowind was any indication, it WILL happen). And if you don't own Morrowind for the PC or Xbox...go buy it. Now. Game of the year edition that includes Tribunal and Bloodmoon...also get the book for that version. Seriously. Go. Now.

Posted by krinsath @ 10:05 AM EST [Link] [No Purges]

Monday, March 13, 2006

That's what I feel like anytime I deal with anything relating to the I'm driving rusty nails in my eyes.

We've got a number of units that have suspected faulty parts and Dell is agreeing to replace them proactively (including Ghost software for the hard drives) rather than just letting them fail. Nice of them, but to get the reimbursement I have to fill out no less than six forms, including two related to the IRS. It's maddening, since this is an aspect of the enterprise I'm not terribly versed in. I can handle my own tax affairs well enough (I suppose), but trying to figure out what to do when a vendor has to treat you like a business when you're anything but is quite...annoying. Not that I'm overly fond of paperwork to begin with mind you...

I'm doing amazingly well in my classes. I'd figure I'd do good in a programming course being as I have an affinity for the computer, but I'm doing about the same in my psychology course. Now, the interesting bit here is that I've never really studied psychology at all beyond what one does as natural observation (For instance, examining runts for mental disorders...granted, this is far from an in-depth analysis needed...more like "shaky grasp of the obvious" to notice... <3). So this is a class I know nothing about forrmally and I'm taking it in an online format. I figured that I was doing well on the quizzes because I could read the book and immediately log on and take the quiz. Thought the first exam would show me for the learning fraud I really am...instead I score the second highest grade in the class with a 103 (9 points of extra credit possible with 3 point curve). That test was done pen and paper, so it's not like I could refer to the book.

Also reading the section about parenting has convinced me that I would currently be a horribly unfit father. I mean, I can think of some fathers out there that I'd beat just because I'd, ya around without having guns drawn on me and dragged kicking and screaming...but I'd probably just be around. With my cat, that mode of care works well...he likes being acknowledged from time to time, but he's overall happy just being left to his own devices for the most part (mainly because I annoy him I'm sure). A baby couldn't work that way, and I'm not sure I could adjust very well. Somewhat sobering thoughts I suppose, but then again we never know how we'd act IN a situation. Still, on the whole, fairly sure my kid would end up more screwed up than me (and that's saying something!).

In other news, the WoW insanity continues unabated. It's good that I have an easily amused mind, I think I'd have burned out on this game a long time ago otherwise. My hunter is slowly beginning to resemble someone who's been around for a year, picking up his shoulders and key to the big public instance (public meaning you don't need to get a group of just people you're affiliated with to run). He needs 3 more pieces, and they've from 2 different places (one of them being where he just got the key to, which is still somewhat uncommon). So yay there...also, the paladin finally ascended to the ranks of the mounted (the fact that theirs is free helps) and it kitted out in much better gear. She needs a few minor upgrades, but that's really it.

Galactic Civilizations 2 is the quite addictive little game. It doesn't seem like a whole lot on the surface, but the ability to fully customize (barring the look of weapons/modules) the look of your ship is quite addictive. You can almost make a game out of that, to be quite honest. Sometimes that can be quite disconcerting as you lavish loads of time on a new design to have to wonder why the game doesn't seem to have progressed that much (seriously, spent 30 minutes designing a heavy cruiser). A great time sink if ever there was one. The fact that you DON'T NEED THE DAMNED CD IN THE DRIVE TO PLAY THE GAME is also quite nice, and I wish more game companies would follow that lead. I really hate having to "hack" the games I *pay for* to get the same convenience and playability that people who steal the games get. Something is wrong here, and that's all the more I'll say.

Picked up Lord of the Rings: Battle for Middle-Earth 2 over the weekend, so hopefully I'll get around to installing that one as well. In the meantime, I'm very, very tired from being up far too late playing usual.

Posted by krinsath @ 04:02 PM EST [Link] [No Purges]

Tuesday, March 7, 2006 that we're into March, I think it's safe to say the world is not going to blow up at the start of 2006. Yes, I know...the posting rate is much like that of a snail...with an inner ear infection...upside down...trying to go upstream...

First in news, has expanded to MySpace! Well, this isn't exactly news, I've had an account there forever and a day and just never bothered to do anything with it. However, this will become the first (and probably last) mirror of this blog! This wonderful syndication brought to you by the magic of copy and paste...

In actual news, I'm still dog tired from our San Diego trip. We were out there for BBWorld, a user's conference for the Blackboard e-learning suite (one of the many projects that gets passed down to me). The conference was ok...the drinks were good (if somewhat pricey in places)...but there was just way, way, way too much walking. I mean like 20-30 least...and I'm fairly sure it was uphill both ways in a blinding...well it doesn't snow in San Diego but you get the point. Walking around in Tijuana was fun, as was seeing the Mexican "border" which, I kid you not, amounted to a gate. Nobody watching this gate mind you, just there. However, the merchandise available there was not all that interesting. It was neat to say I've been there, but I don't know that it's a place I have an interest in returning to. Main lesson learned: Microsoft throws a damned good party. Anyone who thinks of putting 2 full open bars on the flight deck of an aircraft-carrier-turned-museum knows what they're doing.

Supposedly, there are still plans to visit my brother who is currently stationed in Rio...more news on that as the day progresses.

On the gaming front, Empire At War (the new Star Wars game) is...well, I'd give it an "ok". If you're a fan of Star Wars, it's really cool to be able to watch a phalanx of Imperial Star Destroyers sweep across the map blasting everything in front of them. From a game perspective though, it's a bit under-cooked as the units that are "counters" are far too effective, especially in the ground game. It's like you blink and the units are gone. Hopefully when LucasArts releases the promised modification tools (modtools for you uninitiated) someone out there will be able to correctly balance these things and make the game a lot less cookie-cutter. Right now there's no incentive to try different tactics...just build up the generic set of units that offsets the enemy's. I know that sounds like "strategy", but while it may sound that way, it really isn't. One of the great things about strategy games is that a variety of tactics should work. As it stands, bring a group of AT-ATs, a few anti-infantry weapons and an anti-air platform and you're basically all set.

Yesterday I got a new game in, Galactic Civilzations 2: Dread Lords. I seriously forgot that I ordered it a few months ago back when I was waiting for my Xbox 360. I had the beta, but didn't play it much since I couldn't switch out of the game to talk to people (Alt+Tab support is required IMO). Seemed promising though, I hope to find the time to give it a proper rundown. Penny Arcade gave it a decent enough mention, and usually that bodes well for a game.

Speaking of the 360, mine finally arrived...a day and a half before I went to San Diego for a week. However, that's all in the past. So far I have a grand total of two games for it: Madden '06 and Fight Night 3. Madden is a really different game on the 360...I think I'm too used to the Xbox still to enjoy that one. Fight Night 3 though is really good. I'm not a huge fan of the announcers (who inevitably end up repeating themselves 839471 times in these games), but the graphics are very nice and there's just something fun about a "realistic" fighting game where not everyone is a super-ninja-ex-SpecForces-mutant-spy with the mega-blast-of-doom. There's something honest about punching a guy in the nose and making it bleed.

No talk of gaming would be complete without a mention of the progress in WoW. After close to a year, I finally got my first character (as in, order of creation) up to the max level. Ignore that I had two other characters, one created WELL after him, get there first. As of last night, I purchased a big kitty for him to ride around on. I'm now trying to figure out what to do next. My first character ended up hitting instances constantly...but that's almost always a 2-3 hour solid commitment...4-5 if groups aren't really forming that rapidly. I'm not sure I really want to do that again, it really did turn the game into more of a job. I have a massive effort ahead of me to complete my crazy plan for the 2nd max level character as I'm somewhat sick of big kitties and have opted to go for a big horse for that one. This. Is. Insanity. Since I'm about 2/3s of the way (total), I don't feel like turning back now, but I don't recommend that course of action for anyone. I now know why there's so few people with cross-faction mounts. It's either insanely expensive, or 2-3 months of farming. However, I will (eventually) complete this goal.

In the meantime, I have 6 other characters on that realm to advance, and trying to choose between them is like trying to pick a favorite kid. The one who's closest to the max level is a class that I really don't know if I'm playing right. Groups get things done when I'm in them, but I just can't help feeling like I'm not doing it right. The next one after that is probably the most boring class to play (or at least was). The others are all so low that it'd be a very hefty amount of effort just to get out of the really annoying "no mount" phase. It's a minor dilemma, and I'm sure something will eventually strike my fancy to play.

I'm sure there's something that might actually be interesting going on in my life, but I can't think of it at the moment. If you have any thoughts, feel free to share!

Posted by krinsath @ 10:29 AM EST [Link] [No Purges]

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