Archives For pcnerd37

While I can’t say I understand what all the fuss is about IKEA having never been to one (I was living in Utah when they got theirs but it was so crazy when it was brand new that I wasn’t going anywhere near that place), I have heard enough about it to know you have to assemble everything yourself which is the idea behind this awesome build your own Borg Collective t-shirt design!  I’ve always thought it would be cool to have my own Collective but my hardware building skills just aren’t good enough, much less trying to fuse the hardware with flesh.  Maybe I will get that good some day!

If you have sense of humor when it comes to Star Trek stuff like I do, than this t-shirt is perfect for you!  The amazing folks over at TShirtbordello are selling this Build A Borg t-shirt for just $14.99!  This shirt is certain to make all of your Borg loving friends laugh, especially if they are also IKEA nuts.

Just remember, while wearing this shirt, your standard greeting must be “We Are the Borg. You Will be Assimilated. Resistance is Futile.”

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Build A Borg T-Shirt

Build A Borg T-Shirt

Build a Borg T-Shirt Design

Build a Borg T-Shirt Design

[Source:  TShirtbordello]

Although I have had the game since nearly the time it came out (well, I think it was the first big Steam sale after it came out because these days I will almost never pay full price for a game), I still have yet to get around to playing Bioshock Infinite.  Truthfully, I never did make time to finish the first game and haven’t even started on the second but I think this awesome metal sculpture has given me the inspiration I need to move the games up to the top of my list of games to play.

This amazing Bioshock Infinite inspired metal Patriot sculpture was created by Geargoyle Metal Art.  I don’t know any of the interesting details like how long this took to create but however long it took, I would say it was time well spent!  I think it looks great!

If you were hoping to buy this, sadly it apparently sold last year sometime but I’d recommend checking out his other creations that are for sale over on his Etsy store.  It is too bad it is sold already because it would look great on my desk.

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Bioshock Infinite Metal Patriot Sculpture

Bioshock Infinite Patriot Metal Sculpture

[Source:  Geargoyle Metal Art]

Net NeutralityIt may surprise you and I expect I will probably get some nasty e-mails about this but I am not a supporter of this Net Neutrality movement that everybody is up in arms about.  While I agree that we have some serious problems with our current system ranging from cable company monopolies to crazy prices for crappy speeds compared to the rest of the civilized world, I believe the net neutrality concept that everybody is pushing for right now is a horrible idea that will come back to bite us all if it goes through.  Why?  Let me explain.

There are three primary reasons to my objection to the Net Neutrality that pretty much every website, blog and podcast I listen to are supporting.

First, I want to address the whole “common carrier” / Title 2 thing.  If you go and take a look at the Title 2 that everybody is saying the FCC should use to classify ISPs as common carriers, it wasn’t designed to regulate internet companies and makes no sense to try to shoehorn them into those regulations where they really wouldn’t do anything because it wasn’t designed for the internet and the things going on today.  And even if it did, do you really want your ISP to become a utility?  Think about the current utilities you have to pay for already like electricity, water and gas.  With those, you don’t pay a flat monthly fee like you currently do with your internet.  Instead, you pay based on what you use which is something you internet provider would love because it would mean a lot more money for them, especially with all of the Netflix, Hulu and YouTube lovers out there who use tons of data.  If you already pay for internet access and a subscription to Netflix, do you really want to pay more just to have the privilege of using your Netflix subscription?  I know I don’t!  And what about horribly low data caps?  You already have to deal with those with your mobile carrier (assuming you aren’t on Sprint who still offers unlimited data), do you want to have to deal with that from you ISP, especially when most people don’t have more than one option to go to if they don’t like there current ISP?  I know I don’t!

Speaking of data, my second major point is data has never been treated equal (any experienced IT person will tell you that as it is vital for the management of network resources) and it shouldn’t be!  Sure, having your Netflix speeds downgraded would suck but if you are in a situation where you are being operated on by a surgeon who is working remotely, don’t you think the surgeons connection should be considered more important and given a higher priority given that your life is on the line compared to someone going on a House of Cards binge?  If it was me or someone that I care about on that operating table, I would want the doctor to have the best connection possible, not one that was having to compete with traffic from unimportant things like cat videos and tweets about what somebody is having for lunch.

Finally, perhaps one of the most worrying things about the proposals so far is how the benefits of this neutrality and such would only apply to ‘legal’ content.  So while companies like Netflix might ‘benefit’ from these proposals, what do you think is going to happen to your bittorrent traffic?  Do you recall what Comcast did a few years ago when they were meddling with Bittorrent traffic thanks to the company Sandvine?  They were slowing things down greatly and not allowing you to seed to others regardless of whether the content you were transferring was something illegal like a movie or something completely legal like a Linux distribution.  If the current proposals are allowed to happen, you can expect this to come back but much worse than it was before because now it will have the support of the government where before it was the government that stepped in and stopped it.  And what about sites sites where people say things that thanks to all of the ludicrous anti-bullying laws that are taking the nation by storm, could be deemed illegal because somebody was offended by something they read on there?  This anti-bullying garbage makes it trivial to deem a site illegal based on what somebody said on it and with that goes any net neutrality protections you may have.  Between the anti-bullying laws (which may as well be called anti-free speech laws) and ‘net neutrality’, soon the internet will be a shadow of what it is today where free speech is no longer welcome and the amount you will be paying will be a lot higher than today.

So what do I propose instead if anything at all?  I say leave the internet alone because once you start making rules for it, you are going to screw things up and you are going to end up with consequences you never intended.  If you want to do something that is best for consumers, do something to bring some competition to the market.  Competition will allow the industry to keep itself in check while giving people options which they currently don’t have now because ISPs like Comcast have monopolies in practically every market they are currently in.  Competition is the answer, not net neutrality!

Now that you have heard my rambling, let me know what you think in the comments below!

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Other than classic shows like Friends and Frasier, I don’t watch too many sitcoms these days.  There just aren’t that many that I really find appealing with perhaps the only exception being the Big Bang Theory.  Thanks to the geeky nature of the show, I can identify with it perhaps more than any sitcom I have ever seen (although it still isn’t my all time favorite).  Anyway, while I could go on about how much I love the show and why for days, I doubt that is why you are reading this post so I will skip to the good stuff, this awesome Big Bang Theory ball pit cake!

I’m not sure who created this amazing Big Bang Theory Bazinga ball pit cake but it came across my Facebook feed last week from a Sheldon Cooper fan page.  Whoever made it, I’d say they did a pretty great job recreating the hilarious ball pit scene with Sheldon and Leonard!  Unfortunately, I don’t know any of the tasty details either so there isn’t much more I can say about it however, if you know any of the tasty details or who created this awesome cake, let us know in the comments below so they can get credit!

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Big Bang Theory Bazinga Ball Pit Cake

Big Bang Theory Ball Pit Cake

[Via Sheldon Cooper on Facebook]

Nintendo Game Boy

Nintendo Game Boy

After turning 27 last week, the last thing I really wanted to see was something that would make me feel really old but since those around me insist on making me feel that way anyway, I figured I might as well watch this video of some kids reacting to Nintendo’s classic handheld, the Game Boy.  I’ve seen similar videos in the past which I have generally found their confusion amusing but this video had me banging my head on the desk (especially when the one kid thought it was an iPhone case) and screaming at my monitor.  Maybe its just because I have always had a huge love for the Game Boy and have acquired a nice collection of them but I couldn’t help but rage when the kids tried to put the cartridges in upside down and called it junk.

A couple of these kids give me a little bit of hope for the future but the ones that call it junk and want to throw it in the trash make me want to sit in a corner with all of my Game Boys and cry.  This is why I have always believed kids should be exposed to gaming the way I was, oldest to newest, not the other way around!

Have fun watching this video and if anybody needs me, I will be in bed playing Tetris on my Game Boy.

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[via Kotaku]

Age of Empires OnlineWhen video game companies shut down the servers for their games, it generally doesn’t bother me too much (unless we are talking about the greedy smacktards at EA who like to kill multiplayer servers after just a year or two for some games) largely because even though the multiplayer may be dead, at least those who purchased the game can still play single player or local multiplayer.  Unfortunately, the more games move toward a massive multiplayer experience, the less possible that is and I would like to take a few moments to talk about one such great game that is being shut down this week (July 1st, 2014 at 4PM PST for those wondering) and that is Age of Empires: Online.

Like many PC gamers, I grew up playing Age of Empires.  I still remember in the mid to late 90s hogging my grandparents phone line for hours at a time because I wanted to play Age of Empires with my friends from school.  Whether we were seeing who could out cheat code the other person or just doing a normal game, it was one of my most enjoyable memories from childhood.  Of course, as time went on, I moved on to Age of Empires II, then Age of Mythology and Age of Empires III and most recently, I have loved playing Age of Empires: Online.

While I’m sure many true Age fans probably followed the same path through the Age franchise, my story becomes a bit different with Age of Empires: Online which has made it a very special game for me and that is the story I want to share with you today.  With the game shutting down completely tomorrow, I decided to share my story as a tribute to the game.

To begin, I honestly never cared that much for Age of Empires III for a variety of reasons ranging from the weird shipments mechanic to the spawning of groups of troops however I still played it once in a great while.  It never felt like people enjoyed it as much as the older Age games because it was so different from the previous games even though it was really pretty.  After that, I wasn’t sure there would ever be another Age of Empires game (or if I wanted to play it if it included those same elements from Age III that I didn’t like) when Microsoft shut down Ensemble Studios, the developers that made all of the Age of Empires games up until that point.

While I always loved the older games, I rarely played them much after Age of Empires III and spent most of my RTS gaming time playing the various Command & Conquer games.  I certainly longed for a new Age game but I never thought I would see one.

Then, one day I was checking my e-mail and out of nowhere, I got an e-mail from Microsoft inquiring about if I might be interested in helping out with the beta for an upcoming game.  I was a little surprised by the e-mail as I knew I had signed up for something from Microsoft quite some time before that saying I was interested in future game betas but I had never received any e-mails about betas and after that e-mail, I have never received another one.  After reading the e-mail and signing my life away with their NDA, a short time later I got to check out this ‘Project S’ aka ‘Project Spartan’.  At that point, it was still in alpha and I think a few weeks away from beta but I installed their Games for Windows Live client, downloaded the game and fired it up.  After the build was updated, I finally got into a game and started to check out the campaign quests.

While the artistic style was far more cartoony (think Team Fortress 2 type cartoony), I could immediately tell it was an Age of Empires game thanks to the music and the fact that the gameplay was virtually identical to the old Age of Empires / Age of Mythology I used to love.  As soon as I realized just what the game was (it wasn’t until a ways into the beta phase that those of us testing it were ever officially told it was an Age of Empires game much less that it was called Age of Empires: Online), I could not have been more excited.

With my excitement, I was playing the game at any opportunity I had and since I wanted the game to be the best that it could be, I was often submitting dozens of bug reports a week if not a day.  The game was definitely rough in those very early days with missing building textures, pathing problems, and a whole array of other issues but with each new build we were given, those problems were fixed and things got progressively better until it ultimately turned into the incredible game that it is today.  Of course the path to greatness was not always easy as they did have to reset our civilizations a number of times which meant everybody lost all of the progress they had made (quests completed, our level, gear that we had earned, ect.) which was beyond frustrating and annoying but in the end, I understood it was necessary and for the games benefit.

Of course the early days weren’t all just about playing games and submitting bug reports, there was also a message board set up for those in the alpha/beta to discuss the game, talk about problems, suggest features, and interact with the developers.  The forums were always a great place to hang out and talk about the game (especially since we legally couldn’t talk about the game to anyone else at that point) and the community was fantastic!  As more were let into the beta, I think things felt a little watered down but it was still a great place to talk about the game.  However, it wasn’t all talking, that forum almost changed my life!

How did it nearly change my life?  During the beta, the developers posted about an open position on their balance team and being a huge RTS fan since 1995 and interested in an opportunity to work at Microsoft, I immediately inquired about it and exchanged a few e-mails which had be believing things looked REALLY good for me to get the position.  While things did sound really good and the developer I was talking to seemed really enthusiastic at the idea of having me on board, I was told I would have to go through one of the temp employment agencies they use and from there the formal interviews and stuff would get rolling.  Of course I had no objection to it at the time because I really wanted the job and having interviewed for positions at Microsoft before, I knew that was pretty much how things worked.  Unfortunately, the employment agency they pointed me toward stuck me with dealing with some lady that seemed like she was deliberately trying to sabotage my attempt to get the job and she ultimately screwed around long enough (for weeks) that I lost the opportunity for the job.

I was bitter about not even getting a formal interview because of the idiot temp agency lady for quite a while after that because getting to work on the Age of Empires team was a childhood dream of mine.  Eventually, I moved on to other things and quit dwelling on the situation and started enjoying the game again (that is not to say that it wouldn’t be real tempting to give that lady a swift kick in the pants if I ever happened to meet her in person).  However, it wasn’t until after the game launched that I found my real love for it.  Once all of the features and everything were out there and there were a lot of people to play with, I then realized just how great it was.  When the Age of Empires community team started going community challenge events on twitch on Fridays, I would always try to sneak in watching it at work because I was blown away by just how good and relatively well balanced the multiplayer gameplay was.  Watching those games with some of the best players in the community had me hooked.

Eventually, I started streaming myself and found it to be a fun experience which eventually led to me streaming games like CounterStrike: Global Offensive and others.  It is amazing what you can learn by watching the streams of others or them watching yours and critiquing your skills!

Well, sadly all good things must come to an end and it is the end of the line for Age of Empires: Online.  It has been one of my all time favorite RTS games and sucked up hundreds if not thousands of hours of my life.  It sucks to know that after July 1st, I will never be able to play this great game again.  It also sucks that I suspect I will lose some good friendships that I have made because of it as well.  I don’t think I have ever been this emotional about the shutting down of a game before but it is like a part of me and my life is dying.  I will truly miss it and I will always think of it fondly.

For those interested in checking out a couple of my games or want to see what this game was like if you never had a chance to check it out, below are two of the games I streamed on twitch this past weekend (I lost both games because even though I have spent a lot of hours on it, I am still not that great at PvP).

Wololo!