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A Heavenly Achievement

Angels make the playoffs for the first time since 2009.

This may be sounding like a sports blog, having 2 days in a row of football then baseball, but since this is my team, I wanted to 'celebrate' them. They really pulled it together this season when most did not even expect them to finish 3rd in the AL West.

Today, these Angels lead the AL West by 10.5 games. They have won 11 of their last 12 games and are leading the majors in runs. And they are doing this without any hitter batting above .300 – not even Mike Trout, who many think may be the best player in the game right now. Along with that, their best pitcher, Garrett Richards hasn't pitched since August and won't pitch the rest of the season.

Right now, their bullpen is a strong point, but it is dramatically different than what they started with. Their closer did not even play for the team till a mid season trade. And now relievers are effectively starting every 5th game (since Richards went down) and have been dominating.

So my Angels are currently in the playoffs and have the best record in baseball. I am excited at the possibilities. Looking back at my last post about them, they won their first Spring training game this year, and I was optimistic. I am glad to see the team live up to where I wanted them to play. I am looking forward to the playoffs and hope to see the winning the World Series.

September Featured Link

Today I feature a post that asks a very valid question about MMO design – Grinding vs Idleness. Basically, Joseph Skyrim over at JVT Workshop wonders if it is better for games to require grinding to get to a boss encounter or if the fight should be be on a timer that players have to wait for.

I tend to prefer a timer scenario. With a timer, I can focus my attention wherever I would choose rather than spinning my wheels on inconsequential and meaningless activity. If I am going to be playing a game, I want my efforts to contribute to something. As was mentioned in the post, with a timer, I am afforded the opportunity to attend to other activities including other games or reading. Eve Onlne is particularly good at this – I've read many novels during fleet actions which typically consist of some intense action after many minutes or even hours of waiting for stuff to happen. Games that require me to perform repetitive meaningless actions in order to get to a boss fight tend to turn me off after a while.

#Angels #LAA #Baseball #Eve

 

 
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Week 2 Loss in Fantasy Football

119 to 85.3.

That was the score that my fantasy team lost by this week. I though t I made a couple of good moves, but apparently not good enough. I picked up Carlos Hyde, RB from San Francisco for my second running back this week, but he only got me 1 point. If I had played Andre Ellington, he would have given me 10.6, but he was questionable for the game. I think he has potential, but he is a pain in my side for not being healthy.

I also could have played Sammy Watkins who scored 21.7 in place of one of my receivers – Cordarrelle Patterson who only got me 7.6 points. I still would have lost by 10 points, but it would have been a closer deal.

I think my lack of knowledge is showing as I am just trying to throw together a strategy and is it hit or miss right now. Furthermore, I am quite pissed at the NFL for all their stupidity about domestic abuse. Where else does someone get a harsher penalty for smoking weed than for knocking out his fiancé? I almost abandoned the NFL when the Vick scandal came out. Now this. I would think that the players would learn a few things going to college and all. But it seems they only learn the play book.

September Featured Link

Today I highlight a post recently made by Iogro Merrybelly over at A Hobbit’s Journey that talks about Blogging with a Schedule. I think this post has a lot that I can learn from and that I would like to start implementing in my posting. Since Blaugust, I’ve been doing the daily post thing, but I know that my quality has been impacted – I no longer revise and typically send up a first draft – sloppy. Iogro makes some good points about how to schedule your posts and plan things out. I think I am am going to take some of his advice.

 

#FantasyFootball

 

 
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My top 5 shows for the week ending September 12, 2014

This week was a bit different for me watching television. Many of the shows I watched were over a few months old but I wanted to catch up or at least watch them before the Fall season began. Along with 2 shows that were older than 6 months, I watched a Fall premier and a season finale in my top 5. One interesting thing was that these were almost all I watched this week as I was pretty busy with other things.

Number 5 – Boardwalk Empire

S5E1 – Golden Days for Boys and Girls (B-)

I am happy to see this show start up again, even if it is for the final season. I am a bit taken back from the time jump and the location jump, but it is still good ole Nucky. And there is a lot of stuff moving the story along. We learn some backstory as to how Nucky and the Commodore came to be partners, we witness firsthand with Margaret the impact of the Great Depression, and we see some of the mob wars heating up. Looks like it is going to be a fun final season – so far this is miles better than what they did with the last season of True Blood.

Number 4 – The Bridge

S2E9 – Rakshasa (B-)

This is a pretty bloody episode. I am really surprised that Fausto openly went against Eleanor and the DEA, and I am surprised the DEA went against Eleanor already too. Being in a three way firefight was not something I expected. Now I'm not sure who is still alive – waiting till next week. On the other storyline, I am surprised to see that Marco was able to find Sonya. The hitman Fausto hired was a bit too much like a Bond villain and letting Sonya walk away when she couldn't go anywhere was the worst part of this series I think so far. So while this was not my favorite episode, it was still pretty good, and better than most of the stuff on television.

Number 3 – Broadchurch

S1E8 – 1.8 (A-)

This is THE episode of the show. We find out who did it and why. For some reason, when this series aired on BBC America, our Tivo missed recording this episode so we never knew the resolution of the show. To be honest, I enjoyed the show just fine without knowing who murdered Danny, but this episode seals this as one of my favorite seasons of television from the past year. The main reason I had to watch this episode was because Graceland is coming out this Fall and it is based on this show. I did not want my love for Broadchurch to be tainted by an Americanized version if that show fails. Now that I know who did it and why, I can watch Graceland and see how it compares.

Number 2 – Dr. Who

The Time of the Doctor (A-)

So this is Trenzalore and this is the final resting place of the Doctor. This episode was wonderful and full of whimsy. It was also sad as the 11th doctor, Matt Smith, turns over the mantle to Peter Capaldi. There are some really touching moments and some exciting scenes which had me wondering if this was another Neil Gaiman episode, but it was not. Moffat crafted a lovely ending to the 11th doctor that I found reminiscent of one of my favorite Star Trek The Next Generation episodes – The Inner Light. I definitely enjoyed the episode and look forward to seeing how the new doctor puts his mark on the 50 year old franchise.

Number 1 – The Leftovers

S1E10 – The Prodigal Son Returns (A-)

The season finale of The Leftovers was everything I expected it to be. There was a lot of closure and answered questions while at the same time, many things were left unresolved for next season. The BIG event that the Guilt Remnant were heading toward finally came to fruition and as I expected, the town went nuts and mob rule may have finally excised the cult from Mapleton. With Patti missing, Laurie moves the GR into their penultimate act of remembrance and she nearly loses her daughter in the process – Kevin swoops in quite literally and saves her at the end.

So much of this episode was good, including the sense of confusion engendered by Kevin's “dream” sequence. With this show, it is never clear what is a dreaming segment and what is real. So basically, we are not sure if Kevin can see and speak with Patti now or if that was just a dream. Whatever the case, we know that the minister, Matt, is someone Kevin trusts and it goes back in the family and I think this will be important next season.

Another interesting occurrence, during the 6th episode, Guest, we learned that there were many other cults that had sprung up after the event, but we did not get a sense of if the guilty Remnant exists outside Mapleton. I am curious to learn if this Remembrance day thing was a local occurrence or if the GR did this to everyone around the world. There could be a lot of dead cultists if they did this everywhere.

The bottom line for me is that this was a great first season. I really enjoy this show even though it started out with nothing but depression. I think they turned things around and proved that the show is about more than just sadness. This may actually be a show I re-watch before the next season to see if there were bits I missed.

 

#BoardwalkEmpire #TheBridge #TheLeftovers #DrWho #Broadchurch

 

 
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New Champions Online content and a CoH Resurrection?

Wow! This September, Champions Online turns 5 years old. I am glad to see that it made it to this point and am sad that I have not played it in probably 3 years.

When the game first came out, I jumped all over it. I so wanted it to be a successor to City of Heores, but it was not. There are some good concepts there and I liked the original free form characters that let you mix and match powers, but there were also problems forcing certain min/max builds. I particularly liked the teleport ability though I liked that in CoH, you could basically 'fly' with the teleport power. I think the sad part was the repetition and lack of content that Champions had. I mean there were interesting story lines and missions, but then there were only so many variations. Basically, I suppose that I haven't been back to Champions since CoH shut down – out of protest.

I mention Champions for 2 reasons. First, I got an email that said they were adding some new content and a Steel Crusade event. I don't recall the last time they added new content and it piqued my interest. I may have to update my client and see what is going on over there. Secondly, I heard that City of Heroes has a slim chance of being resurrected. Now I say slim because I only heard that a version of the code base may be released. Shannon Doyle over at Mmogames posted an interview with Nate Downes about the possibilities of brining back City of Heroes and I for one am excited. I hope it comes to fruition.

September Featured Link

Today I will mention a memorial to a great Bond villain – Jaws. Roger over at Contains Moderate Peril posted a very nice article covering the movies of Richard Kiel who passed away on the 11th. For me, he was the iconic Bond villain and probably the most memorable character that was not named James. Roger mentions movies I did not know about and provides some interesting tidbits of information opabout his role in Moonraker and The Spy Who Loved Me.

#CoH #CityOfHeroes #Champions #JamesBond

 

 
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ArcheAge begins…

So the ArcheAge Headstart begins today.

I am looking forward to this sandbox game, but haven't played any of the beta thus far. It looks like it will be a lot of fun but I didn't want to get too involved before the game went live. As I've stated before when I anticipate a game I prefer not to play in the alpha and the beta. From what I've seen on Twitch and YouTube things seem to be pretty exciting in this game but it doesn't seem to have gotten the hype level that Wildstar had. Do you think this will do as well or better than Wildstar? How about ESO? I just hope it's fun. I'll let you know after I create a character and give it a try this weekend.

September Featured Link

I woke up this morning to see Fr. Roderick posted a link to a YouTube clip for Star Wars with out John Williams.

 

Very funny. When I first saw the title, I thought there was no way they could do the next movie without the wonderful score, and I am thankful I was mistaken.

 

 
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A Lone Wolf for 2014

In the mid 80s, I started playing Dungeons & Dragons. Back then, the killer graphics and kick ass stories were all in my imagination and I would drag my brother and a couple of neighborhood friends through dungeon crawls and many a monster mash. I would read the Dungeon and the Dragon magazines and was very into Tolkein and other fantasy novelists, including David Eddings and Piers Anthony. Then there was a wonderful addition to the fantasy genre that hooked me – Joe Dever's Lone Wolf series.

The Lone Wolf series was a great mix of story and gaming called choose your own adventure. In the story you controlled Lone Wolf, a Kai initiate and later a Kai Master and battled bad guys. It was a cool concept and one that I think helped a lot of kids gain an appreciation for reading.

Flash forward to 2014, and Lone Wolf is on the iPad. You are still given a good story and get to choose your adventure, but now there is interactive graphics and turn based fighting. I just picked up the game from iTunes and played through the first battle – it's not easy. I am totally transported back to those days of Ronald Reagan vs the Soviet Union and text based adventures. The app is broken into chapters, and I'll let you know what my thoughts are as I get through each one.

So far, it's been fun, but be warned – if you don't like reading, this is not for you. While the combat is interactive, the story involves a lot of reading to set the scene and develop the world of Lone Wolf.

September Featured Link

Today I found a link through another blog to Kurn's Corner. She has a good post about the privacy controls or lack of privacy controls that Blizzard offers after all these years. I totally agree with her about the problems of not having control over your social footprint and am surprised that Blizzard has not corrected this issue – it's been 10 years, time to get this right.

 

#LoneWolf #DungeonsAndDragons #Blizzard #WoW #iPad #iPhone #MobileGaming

 

 
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To Buy or Not to Buy an iPhone 6

iPad and iPhone gaming has been a big part of my gaming lately. Games like World of Tanks Blitz, FTL, and Rules! have been a lot of fun, and they fit very nicely on these devices. I've tried them all out on both my iPad and my iPhone 5S, and feel the games work really well on these smaller than PC devices. But do I feel a need for a larger phone?

I've been of the opinion that the larger phones might work well for Shaquille O'neal or Andre the Giant, but I never wanted to feel like I was holding my iPad up to my ear to make a phone call. For me, a phone should fit in your hand and bigger is not always better. But for gaming, it might be nice to have something larger than my 4 inch screen. It also might be nice for reading comics. But isn't that why I have an iPad?

One thing that disappoints me about the new Apple phones is that in order to get the better specs, you have to get a bigger device. What ever happened to miniaturization? Give me the better processing chip, motion chips, and resolution,but let me keep my small screen. I want my phone to clip on my belt, not need its own seat on an airplane.

In any case, I very well may grab one of these large phones in order to get the better performance, but it's not something I am going to jump at. I'll wait and see how much improvement they provide – after all, my 5S will work with the iWatch, which I will buy on launch.

September Featured Link

When I saw this review of Lifeless Planet by Roger Edwards over at Contains Moderate Peril, I knew I had to give this game a shot. The story sounds cool, the vistas look great, and it seems like the type of game I would really enjoy. So I went out to Steam and grabbed it. I'll let you know how I like it, but if Roger's experience is any indication, I'll love it.

#WoT #FTL #Rules! #iPad #iPhone #MobileGaming #LifelessPlanet #ContainsModeratePeril #Steam

 

 
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Monday Night Fantasy Football Week 1

Watching Monday Night Football last night, I was impressed with the Destiny trailer that was shown.

I really thought initially that it was a Star Wars preview but was not disappointed when I saw it wasn't. It does bring up an interesting point though – will actual game play be anything like the crafted commercial?

So many times what looks like a great game in trailers and commercials turns out nothing like it in real gameplay. When games can use actual gameplay to portray the trailer rather than the cut scenes, I think we will have a revolution in gaming. Does Destiny attain this level of gameplay? I certainly hope so. I doubt it will happen with my measly Xbox360, but I expect to see cinematic quality gameplay from the nextgen consoles. Anyone see it yet?

Monday Night Fantasy Football

The reason I was watching MNF last night was my fantasy team. I went into the day with 58.2 points on the week, down over 30 points to my opponent. I had 2 players going while he had one. Fortunately, my 2 guys were Matt Stafford who picked up 34 points and Calvin Johnson who grabbed 31.9 points. What was a 30 point deficit ended with me on top by over 20 points. For a first week, I think I did well and I feel like I drafted well. Next week will be interesting as I am sure Andre Ellington will still be questionable so I am not sure who to use as my running backs. I suppose on the whole, I watched a bit more football, but mostly, I watched my ESPN app on my iPad to see how I was doing.

September Featured Link

Today I feature a link from Syp over at Bio Break. Since yesterday was the 48th anniversary of the premier of Star Trek (the original series), I thought it would be appropriate to feature his post In Defense of Star Trek Online's Ground Game. It brings up some very valid points about what was the most unwieldy part of that game when it came out, but what has evolved into one of the only squad based tactical combat simulations in MMOs. While I do like the space combat better since it is reminiscent of Star Fleet Command and Star Fleet Battles, the ground combat has come a long way and is much more enjoyable that it was. Syp lists off 6 reasons supporting the ground portion of the game, and I suggest you give it a read and check out the combat for yourself. It is free to play after all.

#FantasyFootball #BioBreak #Destiny #STO #StarTrekOnline

 

 
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My view on the “Journalism” side of Gamer Gate

I guess looking at a bit of this GamerGate thing really perplexes me. Perhaps I am more skeptical than many out there, but I never thought the gaming press was objective. To me it always seems that gaming journalists are expressing their opinions rather than providing simple facts about the games they report on.

In my view, so much of today's media is opinion rather than journalism. Fox News, CNN, MSNBC, and all the rest are entertainment for whichever slant you prefer. Sure there are tidbits of real news, but in their attempts to maintain ratings and please their audience, there is more opinion than fact in many of their stories.

With the big media outlets motivated by ratings, I find it hard to believe the gaming media is any kind of bastion of good journalism. Not when many receive some form of quid pro quo. Game developers ARE the advertisers that fund these sites so while not all reviews are going to be positive, I hold any review with a bit of skepticism. How many times have reviews about a game been all positive but in reality the game is crap? Too many to believe in the objectivity of gaming journalism.

I suppose I am not the typical audience in any case. I do not drool over the latest uptick of graphics. I grew up when story drove the quality of new games not how many pixels were on the screen, and creativity was shown in new titles rather than how many sequels and clones could be sold to the masses.

In any case, in this aspect of the GamerGate, I do not see the problem. But then, I have never placed so much weight on gaming journalists to feel betrayed by them as I know some do.

September Featured Link

As Belghast mentioned in my featured link yesterday, this article is a pretty good run down about the GamerGate thing. Other than that, the article in Forbes covered things well too. I think between the two, I got a decent idea of what went on even if I only focused on a small part of it.

#Gaming

 

 
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My Top 5 Shows of the week ending September 5, 2014

Over all, I think this was a pretty good week of television. Along with my top 5, I started watching a neat show called going Deep with David Rees. It is a show about how things work. I watched an episode about how to shake hands and another on how to make a paper airplane. Pretty cool show on The National Geographic channel for all ages.

Along with that, a show you definitely would not want to have your kids watch, The League started back up. It's a fun show but disgusting at times and in poor taste most of the time, but I feel a bit more in touch with it as I am in a fantasy football league this time around. Maybe I'll learn something I can use in my league.

On to the top shows I watched this week…

Number 5 – Manhattan – S1E6 – Acceptable Limit

This episode sees a field trip by Charlie and Helen to a Tennessee nuclear reactor/plutonium factory that is being prepared to go online. It is the first time we see other people dealing with radiation and just as the folks in New Mexico, there seems to be little concern that things could go wrong. We learn that the medical tests have all been staged and there really is no care for radiation exposure on the base even when someone consumes $1 million in plutonium. Things are getting real as Frank finds out that the Germans are ahead of the team and could have a bomb soon. I expect the next episode may have some dramatic catastrophe at the Tennessee plant. I really do enjoy the historical nature of this drama even though I know what the outcome is going to be.

Number 4 – Intruders – S1E1 – She Was Provisional

This is a new show I started watching – it showed up on BBCA before/after Dr. who and I thought the title and description looked interesting. I'm glad I recorded it. This first episode leaves many questions unanswered and speculating on the answers makes this a fascinating show. I do think it interesting that a BBC show is set in Seattle, but with that setting alone, you get a sense of the show. I look forward to finding out more of what is going on.

Number 3 – The Knick – S1E1 – Method and Madness and S1E2 – Mr. Paris Shoes

This is another new show I started up. This is more of a period piece rather than SciFi like Intruders, but it is compelling just the same. The basic story is that of a hospital in New York during the early 1900s – before most modern medical practices. Racism, drug use, and corruption for the backdrop of attempts to advance medicine. Many people die as the surgeons try to perfect their techniques and the visuals can be disturbing to watch, but the interplay of the doctors, nurses, administrators and patrons drew me in during the first few minutes.

The first episode introduces Dr. Thackery who takes over as chief surgeon after the previous doctor commits suicide. Dr. Algernon Edwards is brought in to be his 2nd, but because Edwards is African-American, conflict ensues. While Edwards is provided an office in the basement, we learn of Thackery's drug addiction. In the second episode, they get electricity in the hospital for the first time and we learn of the corruption of the administrators who allowed crummy wiring (which kills a nurse) so they could get a kickback.

Steven Soderbergh directs this show and you can see the talents he brings to the small screen. Clive Owen and Andre Holland play Drs. Thackery and Edwards, and I think they do a great job portraying leading surgeons from the early 20th century. Definitely an interesting show and one worth watching.

Number 2 – The Bridge – Goliath

My main thought on this episode is that I am glad Fausto made it. While the raid on his hiding place took out most of his minions, he escaped to fight another day. But with his hiring of a hitman to kill Sonya, I don't think he is out of hot water yet. Speaking of which, Sonya is in some serious trouble and she had previously alienated everyone who might miss her – I'm not sure how she is going to get rescued. I do enjoy this show – halfway through the second season and we and the female lead finally learn the details of how Marco is related to the drug lord of the show. And the person to tell her was a troll (I can't get past remembering Abraham Benrubi as Anya's Troll husband in Buffy). This would have been my highest ranked show, but I had a show to watch that I had put off for months.

Number 1 – Dr. Who – The Day of the Doctor

This was an historical episode. The 50th anniversary of Dr. Who. was impressive and I was happy to see all 12 (13) doctors represented. Not only did we have 3 doctors in this episode and multiple crossed timelines, we got quite a few details about the infamous Time War on Gallifrey. They really went all out on this one – the battle scene on Gallifrey had more special effects then I think an entire season usually has. It was nice to see just how different Tennant's and Smith's doctors are, and the War Doctor, John Hurt, was definitely a darker incarnation. Loved the history, loved the story, and I loved the solution. I think we will be seeing this one referenced in future episodes.

September Freatured Link

Looking around for a link today brought up a bunch of references to #GamerGate. I don't know what they are talking about so I figure I should look into it. But in any case, while I look into it, my link today goes to Belghast over at Tales of the Aggronaut and his post from yesterday – Finally Turquiose. In it, he talks about the GamerGate thing and Final Fantasy XVI, but the part of his post that I was interested in was the part about Rift. I too am interested in the Nightmare Tides expansion. I will head there to experience the new content and hopefully make it to max level. One things that I did with my main character there was to level using events, dungeons and rifts. I don't feel that I really saw most of the content so at some time, I need to go through the quest lines and actually “play” the game rather than just leveling.

#TV #TheKnick #Intruders #Rift #TalesOfTheAggronaut #DrWho #Manhattan #TheBridge

 

 
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