Friday, September 29, 2017

Recent Reading

So while I still hearken back to amazing old sci-fi and fantasy writers I have had a difficult task in trying to find books from modern authors that I like.

Fortunately I have kids who like to read and I have actually found that I prefer some of the stories written for older children/younger teens than a lot of the tripe out there for adult readers.

There are two series (final book in one coming out in November) that I have read in the past couple of weeks:
1) Keepers of the Lost Cities by Shannon Messenger...
2) ...and the Pegasus series by Kate O'Hearn

Both stories are sort of based in Mythology.  Keepers focuses on a girl who finds out she is an elf who was raised by humans and watched over by a mysterious group of "rebel" elves for a greater purpose.

The Pegasus series focuses on a girl who, through the ages, had the power of the Olympians passed on to her through her maternal line.  It is awakened at one point and a number of adventures ensue.

What I like about the stories is that they contain a certain innocence.  They focus on love, honor, friendship.  They are action stories and both feature strong female roles which tends to be a rarity.  They address current societal issues without being preachy as well, but they are very well done and enjoyable reads.  So much so that we are meeting the author for the final book in the Keepers series in November, and I have ordered/pre-ordered the new Valkyrie series from Kate O'Hearn.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Games I've Been Playing Recently

This is a fluff post.  Nothing to really see here, but here are the games I have played the most, recently:

1. Diablo III
2. Civilization VI
3. Civilization V
4. Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines
5. Bioshock 2: Remastered

I surprised myself by reinstalling VTM:B and playing it.  This is an OLD game.  While the graphics are not great, the storyline, music and other aspects of the game are so good that as an overall package it is still a great game to play.  There are still active mods out there too:

Unoffical Patch (by Wesp - which everything else is based on)
Pen and Paper (decent - re-enables histories, changes game play a bit)
Camarilla Edition (Good, changes a lot about the game, makes it more challenging)
Clan Quest (excellent mod - uses Camarilla Edition)
Antitribu (a little rough around the edges - alternate clans)

There are also lots of skin mods out there as well to try and help beautify the game... hard to do that but hey, can't fault folks for trying!

Saturday, July 29, 2017

AMD Ryzen 5 1600X

Built out a new system.

It is an AMD Ryzen system, the 6 core unlocked with 16 GB RAM a raid 0 pair of 2.5 inch 1 GB server drives (not laptop drives) for system and a 4 TB Toshiba HD for data.

I also splurged and picked up an Nvidia 1080 GTX graphics card w/8GB VRAM, a step up to my 1070 GTX.  I did this primarily because I have a 1440P monitor and I have found that the 1070 struggles with games a tiny bit.

This system performs very well.  If you are hemming and hawing about purchasing one of the new AMD CPUs, don't.  They have made vast improvements over the bulldozer series of CPUs... in fact these Ryzen CPUs bring them back into direct competition with Intel.  Pretty amazing they were able to pull off this chip!

That is all for now!

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Civilization VI

I have always loved Civilization.  I have all of the games leading up to and including Civ6.  I am sorry to report that I really really really do not like Civ6.

The graphics are gorgeous, game play is smooth... but that is about all I can say that is good about it.

Things that are irritating:
1. Barbarians are far more advanced than your own civilization.  While you are barely rubbing two sticks together they are coming at you with Knights on horseback!!

2. Civ placement.  Sure, YOUR city is placed at a nice location but, unfortunately, no matter how large the map and how few AI civs you have in your game, they are all placed VERY CLOSE to your own city.  Within 500 years I am at war every time, because my neighbor walks right up to my city and drops a city.  It is extremely irritating.  Extremely.

3. Politics.  Ridiculous.  The other leaders are constantly pinging you and informing you of all your weaknesses, as they are building cities right next to you.

There are other things, I am just too frustrated at the moment to go through them all.

So to sum it up, gorgeous to look at, very smooth to play... horrible and vindictive AI.  I really do not believe it maps reality.

I am about to go create a game on a huge map with NO OTHER CIVS and somehow it will find away to destroy me... probably with massive barbarian hordes with M1 tanks at around 2000 BC.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

A Week With My Civic

It has been a week since I bought my Honda Civic Hatchback Sport!  I've almost hit the 500 mile mark and it gets better every day!!

Something that impressed me with this car was the fact that is larger than the previous model yet manages to weigh less, while still retaining its 5 star crash rating.

Another interesting tidbit is that at least one (if not more) automobile magazines speculate that Honda has understated the HP/Torque figures for this engine.  Not sure what testing they have done to prove/disprove this yet, but I can say it feels like more than 180 HP to me.

What I do know is this is faster than my 2004 SAAB 9-3 and handles better.  And while it does not have the leather interior, many of the materials are as good or superior to the SAAB.  (Note, this was the GM-built SAAB 9-3).

My first tank fill shows that I am only averaging just over 32 MPG...  but I think that is great considering how I have been driving this car (it is just too hard to NOT hit that gas pedal when hitting an on-ramp or leaving an intersection behind or passing people on the highway).

Monday, February 20, 2017

Honda Civic

Been tooling around in my Dodge Ram 2500 for a couple of years.  It was a great truck, 13 MPG for the most part.  Also needing serious work done (of which I did all current work, but more was in the future).  I traded her in for a new Sedan.

I have gone from truck to sedan in the past, and back again but... honestly, I did not use the truck for anything it was meant for this time around.  I made a tough decision which has a monetary penalty, but I think in the long run the right decision.

I purchased a new (2017) Honda Civic Hatchback, sport model with a six speed manual transmission (very hard to come by).

I did some research before my purchase based on size (roominess), looks and utility as well as the "fun factor."  This car met my expectations and I test drove one a week prior to purchasing this one.  I test drove a black exterior/black interior vehicle at Bell Honda but had a hard time connecting with the salesperson and as a result, the car was sold before I could make any move on it.

I then touched base with two other dealers and the dealer who was very responsive, encouraging and helpful was Earnhardt Honda in Avondale.  They said and did all the right things and I was able to find and purchase the car I wanted easily and relatively quickly.  I would recommend this dealer to anyone looking to purchase a Honda, or any of their sister dealers that sell other vehicle brands.  They were polite, knowledgeable and despite being very busy, never left me feeling like I was just waiting... they always gave me something to do or provided me with more information about the car or the process itself.

The car is very nice to drive.  Smooth power band, smooth ride, just the right amount of engine noise, and comfortable.  The interior materials feel quite rich, far nicer than prior vehicles (chevy, dodge and subaru) and on par with my wife's Mini Cooper Countryman.  The steering is sharp, no lean in hard turns...  handles very nicely.

There ARE downsides, I won't lie.  The way the various models are laid out are very inflexible in regards to options.  I am not complaining, I chose the model I chose because it had what I wanted... nothing more, nothing less.  But if I HAD wanted an option like lane changing sensors, I could not have added them.  Another less than stellar part of the vehicle is the base sound system.  I might look into replacing the speakers in the future as the sound is not very good (at least not to systems I have had in the past).  Now, I don't NEED a great sound system since I mostly listen to talk radio anymore, but still...  when I do play my iTunes playlist, I would like to feel a little substance in the music.  Other than those two things, everything else about the Civic is wonderful!

I would definitely recommend this car to anyone looking for a compact sedan.   Hondas are rated as very reliable and safe vehicles, and this Honda in particular is fun to drive.  The "modern" looks are very attractive to me, but I have heard some people find them unattractive, so if you look at the car and LIKE how it looks, then you won't be disappointed with the rest of it.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Shin Gojira

Got to see the special preview on 11-OCT!  It was great!  I went into it with no expectations and I was pleasantly surprised, despite it not being exactly what I had expected.

I won't reveal anything... I will simply summarize with:

The monster was FANTASTIC!  LOVED it.  As with many Godzilla movies, there was a secondary, or perhaps a primary, plot aside from the monster.  It was serious and yet made the movie much lighter in spirit than I had expected.  It will be interesting to see how the English dubbed version compares to this subtitled version, when it arrives later this year.

And really that is about all I want to say.  Don't go into it expecting Godzilla itself to be the focal point, though it is the plot driver.  Just go to soak in a new, Japanese release of Godzilla.  :)