08 Nov 2023 @ 2:50 PM 

From Jeff Gordinier’s “X Saves the World,” I present the Generation X Aptitude Test:

  1. Do you want to change the world?
    1. Yes, and I’m proud to say we did it, man. We changed the world. Just look around you!
    2. Yes, absolutely, and I promise I will get back to doing that just as soon as the interest rates return to where they’re supposed to be.
    3. Omigod, omigod, changing the world and helping people is like, totally important to me! I worked in a soup kitchen once and it was so sad but the poor people there had so much dignity!
    4. The way you phrase that question is so fucking cheesy and absurd that I am not even sure I want to continue with this pointless exercise.

That’s the only question, and you know what the correct answer is if you’re truly Gen X.

Posted By: Gary
Last Edit: 08 Nov 2023 @ 02:50 PM

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Categories: Literary, Musings
 25 Sep 2023 @ 2:48 PM 

I’m in a bit of a waiting period for some scenario development at work, so I’m looking at my stupidly large boardgame library.

In the past six months or so, the question of “good games that play six or more players” has come up a few times. I checked, and my collection includes over fifty games that claim to work with more than five players.

Roll & Write games are the obvious way to go for many, because some of them allow essentially infinite players. The reason so many can play is that there is literally no player interaction. So, let’s set those to the side (although On Tour is a REALLY good roll & write which I have 12 USA boards for).

Another genre that often caters to large groups are party games, many of which are “two teams of any size” competitions. It’s easy to view all party games as “more an activity than a game,” but some actually do have some degree of strategy in them, such as the various Werewolf style games.

I’ve got a couple very light games that play up to eight, including Guns or Treasure, Chicken!, and Zombie Dice. Those are fun, but not something with any depth of play.

Robot Quest Arena can play up to seven, although I question the value of squeezing that many players on the board – the board is the same size for 2 or 7, after all. I think I’d consider this a four-player game, maybe five.

Illuminati plays up to 8, but it’s a pretty weird game that doesn’t appeal to a lot of people, despite being in print for over forty years.

Chez Geek plays up to 8, with decent player interaction (a LOT of “screw your neighbor” play), and light enough for anyone to learn very quickly. I’ll keep that one in mind for the future. The theme is fairly adolescent for anyone over the age of 25, but we are all channeling our inner children at game tables anyway.

Isle of Cats (both OG and the lighter Explore and Draw) plays six, and has a fun table presence. Project L is a bit lighter and also plays six, if you really can’t get enough polyomino action.

Card games often play up to six, include Gift of Tulips, Lunar Base, and the trick-taking game Enemy Anemone. We’ve played Valley of the Kings at six – it takes a lot of table space, but works even using the unsanctioned “every expansion at once” variant. I’ve only played Long Shot: the Dice Game with up to five players, but it might be tedious with the max of eight.

I really want to try Factory Funner with a big group – I imagine we’d decide very quickly if the “everybody grab pieces from the supply” option is desirable.

What games have you played with six or more players that really worked for your group?

Posted By: Gary
Last Edit: 25 Sep 2023 @ 02:48 PM

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 08 Oct 2021 @ 6:43 PM 

There are going to be some spoilers for parts of the season, but I’m going to avoid specifics of the finale itself. You have been warned.

From the very first episode, the way that Nate has been portrayed in season two is at odds with the way his character was established. He was full of himself and rude to people in episode one, and then he got so froggy he kissed Keely (seriously, does everyone on this show want that woman?), and then of course the big story from the final two episodes.

By the beginning of the finale, Nate somehow has developed gray hair, which I don’t remember being a thing in the rest of the season at all. This is just the most obvious visual example of my perception of his character development – none of it feels earned. There’s nothing in the season that serves to truly explain why he’s gone from being a loving team member to a raging narcissist.

Bill Lawrence has said that the show was meant to have a three-season arc, so that final season is going to be a challenge to write and make us feel good again.

Posted By: Gary
Last Edit: 08 Oct 2021 @ 06:43 PM

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Categories: Entertainment, Video
 15 Apr 2012 @ 1:58 PM 

It’s been over a month since my MythTV DVR committed suicide and I replaced it with a Tivo from my cable company. I think I’ve explored the features enough to be able to deliver a decent comparison of the two. Overall, I think I’d be very satisfied with a Tivo if I’d never used MythTV. Let me go into some more detail.

More »

Posted By: Gary
Last Edit: 15 Apr 2012 @ 01:58 PM

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 13 Feb 2012 @ 11:16 AM 

I was thinking about playlists (formerly known as mixtapes) the other day and decided to make one that involves songs which evoke a particular location or event. Since this set of criteria is so loose as to allow a playlist of thousands of songs, I set myself some rather arbitrary limits. It had to fit on a standard audio CD (74 minutes) and each song had to be specific to a particular location/time and only one song per location/time. So, although high school is four years long, it gets one song. I went to Korea three times for a total of four years, so that’s three songs (one per trip). I also decided that any trip of less than two months didn’t count. So, no song for BNCOC or CEWIOC or business trips. Here’s the 57 minutes I ended up with; commentary follows:

Doug E Fresh La Di Da Di
Living Colour Cult of Personality
Violent Femmes Blister in the Sun
Faith No More Epic
Ministry Everyday Is Halloween
Divinyls I Touch Myself
Ace of Base The Sign
Soundgarden Black Hole Sun
Los Del Rio Macarena (Bayside Boys Mix)
Smash Mouth Walkin’ On The Sun
Kid Rock Bawitdaba
Transplants Diamonds and Guns
Evanescence Bring Me To Life
The Waterboys When Will We Be Married?

More »

Posted By: Gary
Last Edit: 15 Feb 2012 @ 03:32 PM

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Categories: Journal, Music, The Woman
 11 Jan 2012 @ 7:50 AM 

Switchblade playing QuakeLast year, Razer introduced the Switchblade mini-PC concept at CES. The idea was that you’d have a netbook-sized device which was primarily aimed at gaming, costing under a grand. It had a keyboard backed with a backlit LCD, so the keys would change to reflect whatever game you were playing. Something always felt off to me about this concept – what about the mouse? Every demo was behind glass or on video. Nobody actually saw this thing being used by a real human. It had a touchscreen, but no trackpad (nor room for one). And yet they told everyone that it would be great for playing first-person shooters as a gaming PC on the go. If you’re on the go, do you really want to bring along a mouse that is half the size of the computer itself? Or, do you want to poke the little bitty screen to move, thereby obliterating your view of the game?

Razer BladeEventually, Razer announced an actual product with Switchblade DNA, the Razer Blade. This is a full-sized laptop, and it still has some might morphin’ key action (for ten special keys), but they added a trackpad where the number pad would go on a normal PC 104-key keyboard. This seems like a great location for a trackpad for right-handed people and a complete deal-breaker for lefties. Also, that trackpad has a screen under it to allow the “screenpad” to reflect game-specific details. Nifty. Of course, it also costs over two thousand dollars.

Fiona Render

This year, Razer is showing off the Project Fiona concept gaming device. Instead of a tiny laptop, it’s a largish tablet. Unlike any tablet you’ve ever seen, it includes gaming sticks bolted to the sides. Using an analog stick to replace the mouse is at least plausible, although I wonder how it would work in action. Fortunately, many FPS games include gaming controller support, so they should work well with this device. But, it’s still not going to work for those games which really need a mouse, like strategy games and war games. Just like the Switchblade before it, Razer claims to be aiming at prices below a grand for this Windows 8 tablet with a Core i7 CPU and otherwise secretive parts.

What do you think, does this make sense to you? And do you think anything close to this design will ever be available for anywhere close to this price?

Posted By: Gary
Last Edit: 11 Jan 2012 @ 08:28 AM

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Categories: Entertainment, Geek, News
 09 Nov 2011 @ 10:13 AM 

Due to the relative paucity of information regarding precisely what applications will be available for the Kindle Fire, speculation was rampant. The biggest question for many people: would Netflix be allowed to compete with Amazon’s own video offerings? This morning, the answer arrived: yes.

Rest easy, pre-ordering early adopters; the Fire will not be a complete walled garden for you. Considering that B&N also has a curated app store for the Nook Tablet, this puts them on a relatively even footing in the app battle. That still leaves the subtle differences: Nook is somewhat more powerful and has significantly more storage, but costs more and isn’t named “Kindle.” Does Amazon also benefit from their giant PR blitz, which garnered them a million or so pre-orders before the Nook Tablet was announced? How many people will cancel a Fire pre-order to jump over to Nook? Seems unlikely to me.

Posted By: Gary
Last Edit: 09 Nov 2011 @ 10:14 AM

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Categories: Geek, Literary, Video
 07 Nov 2011 @ 10:16 AM 

Barnes & Noble just finished their big reveal of the new Nook lineup. The press conference seemed like a lot of poking at Amazon, which is fun to see. The e-ink Nook Simple Touch is getting dropped to $99, which brings it inline with the Kindle Touch. There are a few differences, though – the Nook doesn’t support audiobooks or text-to-speech, but it also doesn’t come loaded with “special offers” at that price. The Kindle costs $40 more to nuke the ads.

Of course, the big story is the new Nook Tablet. Surprisingly, they aren’t putting the Nook Color out to pasture; it becomes their entry-level color device instead. The Nook Tablet gets twice the RAM and twice the storage of the Kindle Fire, as well as an expansion slot. Those are the most obvious differences in the hardware. The screen is supposed to be slightly better, and the CPU is 20% faster, but those differences are a bit harder to notice I’m betting.

The ecosystem is one of the deciding factors for these semi-mobile devices, and that’s going to be interesting to see work out over the coming months. Now that both retailers are going to have similar devices on the market simultaneously, the head-to-head competition will heat up more than it has in the past. When there was no color or touch Kindle, it was easy to dismiss the competition as being too dissimilar to really count.

Ecosystems…Amazon has their Prime program, which gets them an annual subscription fee and which gives the customer a variety of benefits. There are streaming videos from TV and movies, as well as free two-day shipping of many tangible products from the Amazon behemoth. Most recently, they added a free book “loan” per month (based on the explanation at Good E-Reader, it sounds more like they’ve paid for the books and are giving them away to entice more brand loyalty). Amazon also has their own Android app store, as well as the books they’re known for and their Audible book subsidiary.

Meanwhile, back at Barnes & Noble, they are touting the relative openness of the Nook Tablet in contrast to the curated experience at Amazon. You’ll be able to stream Netflix videos and Pandora music, as well as many other Android apps from the Nook app store. The Nook Color has become well known for being easily rootable; there’s no reason to predict the Tablet will be harder to root as B&N doesn’t try to lock people in as much as Amazon does.

So, the Fire gets you one location with all your media paid for annually and bit-by-bit. Nook gets you several services with their own payment systems and subscriptions, but with more storage and speed for $50 more money upfront. Which model becomes the big winner will be hard to predict, but it sure makes this holiday shopping season more entertaining to watch.

Posted By: Gary
Last Edit: 07 Nov 2011 @ 10:17 AM

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Categories: Geek, Literary, Music, Video
 21 Oct 2011 @ 7:48 AM 

Garbage is finally going to release a new album (in six months, darnit). Want, now!

Posted By: Gary
Last Edit: 21 Oct 2011 @ 07:48 AM

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Categories: asides, Entertainment, Music
 28 Sep 2011 @ 10:19 AM 

Amazon just made life difficult for several competitors, but not Apple. Sorry, anyone looking for the iPad Killer, a 7″ tablet just isn’t the same category.

But, Barnes & Noble – you’ve been served notice now, beyotches. The cheapest Kindle is on sale right now, today, for $79. Cheapest Nook? $139. Oh, that’s gotta hurt. Coming in a month, the Kindle Fire competes directly with the Nook Color. Fire costs $200, or $50 less than the less-powerful Nook Color. There’s another stinging sensation right there.

Meanwhile, the ereader vendors who come out with alternatives, such as the ECTaco, Pandigital, and even venerable Sony brands are going to have a hard time finding buyers when they compete against a $79 Kindle backed by the Amazon bookstore, or the $99 Kindle Touch edition. Heck, the new top of the line e-ink Kindle is only $189 with 3G and wifi (save forty bucks if you don’t mind ads when the screen is “off”). None of the new models from the Amazon competitors include 3G free, and the “but I like to borrow from the library” folks got that problem answered last week when Overdrive’s Kindle support finally went live.

It’s really hard to believe that in November of 2007, $400 bought one of these ugly things, with 250MB of memory:

And in 2011, you can get this for only $79, with 2GB of memory:

I can’t imagine what magic Sony and B&N will have to pull out of their hats to have a chance of competing with Bezos’ latest babies.

Oh, and if you really want a Kindle with a keyboard, the Kindle 3 with Special Offers just got dropped 15 bucks to $99.

Posted By: Gary
Last Edit: 28 Sep 2011 @ 10:23 AM

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Categories: Geek, Literary, News, Video
 26 Sep 2011 @ 7:08 AM 

The Air Force loves acronyms. They love them so much, it doesn’t matter if they make things more confusing, or not even any shorter than an equivalent English word – they’ll use an acronym wherever possible.

I finally found out what “SMU” means in zoomie speak: Small Marching Unit. This was quite a surprise to me, as every email I get on-base that uses the acronym uses it as a verb. Here’s one from this week:

Please have all “A” shift ITP/ATP Airmen SMU to the parade field…

So, to expand the acronym (and no, I don’t know what ITP and ATP mean either):

Please have all “A” shift ITP/ATP Airmen Small Marching Unit to the parade field…

Notice that there is no verb after Airmen now, and yet they are to DO something to the parade field. This would normally require an “action word” as we were taught back in elementary school. This requirement oviously does not apply to Air Farce English.

The mystery of “SMU” has now been solved, and it is stupid. Not as stupid as when they use “ATT” instead of “now” but still pretty stupid.

Posted By: Gary
Last Edit: 26 Sep 2011 @ 07:08 AM

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Categories: Funny Stuff, Military
 02 Sep 2011 @ 9:10 AM 

I find those “my family” stickers on the windows of SUVs to be tacky and pretentious and assume that everyone who does that is a tool. So…

Posted By: Gary
Last Edit: 02 Sep 2011 @ 09:10 AM

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Categories: Funny Stuff
 02 Aug 2011 @ 6:16 PM 

Posted By: Gary
Last Edit: 02 Aug 2011 @ 06:16 PM

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Categories: asides, Video
 22 Jul 2011 @ 10:11 AM 

Well, this sucks. Not that Borders is closing; anyone who watched their Amazon outsourcing and other missteps is unsurprised by that. What sucks is that they are having a massive liquidation sale, and the closest store is 3 hours away. Stupid middle-of-nowhere town…

Posted By: Gary
Last Edit: 22 Jul 2011 @ 10:11 AM

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Categories: asides, Literary
 30 Jun 2011 @ 7:21 AM 

I haven’t seen the latest Michael Bay explodapalooza, but the reviews are coming in and they are not kind. What they are, however, is hilarious. Check out the Ars Technica review or the io9 review. Lines about Bay using the camera like a tongue whenever Rosie Huntington-Whitely is onscreen, a character who repeats “Deep Wang” enough times to become actually funny, making fun of the utter lack of respect for physics or biological reality in the action scenes – you must read the reviews, even if you have no intention of ever seeing the movie. I find the most entertaining reviews are when the reviewer is eviscerating the movie under scrutiny. This is no exception.

Update: Blastr has compiled some of the more entertaining quotes from a dozen or more reviews for you. Still hilarious.

Posted By: Gary
Last Edit: 30 Jun 2011 @ 08:22 AM

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Categories: Entertainment
 29 Jun 2011 @ 11:30 AM 

In case you thought you could play “Red Faction Guerilla” in real life, watch this video. Knocking down a building with a jackhammer is not wise.


Posted By: Gary
Last Edit: 29 Jun 2011 @ 11:31 AM

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Categories: Stupid People, Video
 20 Jun 2011 @ 9:30 AM 

This is possibly the best 30 minutes a Gen-X person could spend this morning. With more cowbell!

Facebook users: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=evA-R9OS-Vo (for some reason, FB says this is abusive, but they’re just jealous – it’s the Beastie Boys) should work for you, hopefully.

Posted By: Gary
Last Edit: 20 Jun 2011 @ 09:31 AM

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Categories: Funny Stuff, Music, Video
 04 Jun 2011 @ 9:56 PM 

The foreshadowing at the beginning was a little too obvious, but the cold open had some great explodey bits and fabulous lines for Rory. But, once again, damn you, Steve Moffat! We’ve got to wait until September to get the second half of this two-parter? Holy frackin’ Sontarans!

Posted By: Gary
Last Edit: 04 Jun 2011 @ 09:56 PM

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Categories: Geek, Reviews, Video
 02 Jun 2011 @ 12:22 PM 

Hey, Kindle users, I have a question for you. The Kindle has this cool feature where you can email things to it (either paid over 3G or free over WiFi). Do you use that feature much, if at all?

This is part of my continuing curiosity about all things ebook, and it seems that Amazon is the only one with an email address the user can shoot things to. With all the reviews for the new touch Nook this week, it just made me wonder if this is a feature that few people would even miss, or if it’s something really important.

Posted By: Gary
Last Edit: 31 Aug 2011 @ 12:22 PM

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Categories: asides, Geek, Literary
 24 May 2011 @ 10:02 AM 

Kobo announced the Kobo eReader Touch on Monday; Barnes & Noble announced the Nook Touch on Tuesday. Both use similar technologies, to the point I almost wonder if they’re basically the same device, except for the store each connects to.

Both weigh 200 grams, use a 6″ Pearl eInk screen, have one button on the bottom bezel, and use the nifty infrared touch screen technology that Sony introduced last year. If not for the four buttons on the Sony PRS-650, I’d wonder if both Kobo and B&N hadn’t just nicked Sony’s design. Well, that and the fact that Sony costs twice as much and doesn’t include wifi. The Kobo is $130 and the Nook is $140, while the Sony is $230.

So, this summer you’ll have four different 6″ Pearl eInk ereaders to choose from. Three are infrared touch-screens, and one has a keyboard and is a bit bigger than the other three. The Kindeal is $114 and has a great store integration. Kobo and Nook are in the ballpark and have their own stores as well as compatibility with ePub stores of old. Sony is odd man out, which is par for the course over the past fifteen years.

I can’t help but wonder what Amazon will do next in the ereader war.

Posted By: Gary
Last Edit: 24 May 2011 @ 11:20 AM

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Categories: Geek, Literary, News

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