Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Long Awaited Spore

Okay, I guess I need to write this.

But I keep getting Distracted by playing the game.

It's really addicting.

My first game, I played just bumbling along upgrading as I go - No real plan for my species. I named them Skawish. I wanted to see how close to Mr Squishy I could get, but I didn't name them that because I didn't want that name stuck to them if I didn't like them. I played as a carnivore, and pretty much just wiped out anyone that got in my way—it seemed like an easy way to go. Then I got to space.

In space stage all I really wanted to do was explore, but there were all these needy races that occupied the space around me. I was running all kinds of missions for everyone and got tired of it, so I just started to ignore them. Which apparently upset a couple of them—trespassing or some nonsense—and they declared war on me. Which was bad.

I mean really bad. I had no economic system in place, so I had no money. Since I wasn't making money, I couldn't really upgrade my ship with weapons or health. On top of that, every time I turned around, my home-world was being attacked.

I gave up on the Skawish. I found a relatively close star to the Skawish and started the Scrom race. I made the Scrom race Herbivores and added a second mouth as soon as I could so they could be Omnivores. This allowed me to eat Fruit instead of other creatures and led to a race of a peaceful religious nature. In Civilization I took one city by military force, but the rest I converted.

So the Scrom are in space now, and I make friendly with every race I meet. This has made for a very pleasant space stage. By this time I had also sort of figured out the Economics  of the game. I'm not rolling in it—but I have enough to upgrade my ship. I got the Black hole key, so I can jump through black holes. I was just checking it out, and whaddaya know—I ran into the Grox. I was specifically trying to avoid them, because I had heard that they don't make nice, regardless of the situation. I hightailed it back to my home planet, and I avoided going through the black holes for a while, but I ran out of missions from my home planet, sort of, they wanted me to declare war on someone, but I don't want to ruin my reputation, and then they just started bugging me about finding the Grox. So I went and said Hi again. and they pretty much just ignored me, but my dang home planet wants me to find out the secret of the Grox at the center of the Galaxy. Fine, so I went through some black holes and then started to move toward the center of the universe, but My interstellar drive wasn't good enough, so I was running into dead ends, and then the Grox were everywhere. I was just ignoring them, hopping from star to star, but they started to attack. I gave them money to placate them but as soon as I hopped to another star they attacked again, so I went home. I'm current;y trying to get achievements that will unlock the highest power interstellar drive then see if I can do a speed run to the center of the galaxy.

I'm also trying to find the Skawish, in my Scrom game. See if I can help them out a little.

The one thing that surprised me about this game. I was so looking forward to using the editors to create. But Every time I'm playing the game and I have to stop to create, it can be a little annoying. What you can do however is create things ahead of time and then just use them when it gets to that point in the game. I'll probably do that the next time I start a new game.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Geek Test

Every Once in a while I take the Geek Test again.
Todays Score: 56.80473% Extreme Geek

Monday, September 22, 2008

What Happened So Far

The hard drive on my Inspiron 6400 was doing some "clicking"

I, being responsible, used birthday money (thanks Harriet) to purchase a new Hard Drive. I connected said new hard drive via USB and was prepping it to put into the laptop.

Now, Certain Dell Laptops have a cool feature called Media Direct. It is essentially a highly specialized installation of Windows, with it's own specialized user interface, designed only to play Media. It boots up fast and can play media files, DVDs, and Office Files—and that's it.  The Benefit is it uses less battery power to do so than your typical windows environment. If your booting up just to watch a DVD, or to present a Powerpoint—Media Direct is a nice way to do it. The installation of Media Direct 3 is located on a separate partition of the hard drive. Oh, also it has it's own button—so when you want to boot into Media Direct, instead of pressing the Power Button, you press the Media Direct Button; or if you're already in Windows and Want to use Media Direct, press the button and the program loads in the windows environment.

Also, Dell computers have a Partition set aside that has a customized Windows Installer that can restore the system back to what it was when you originally received the laptop. Some people find these partitions that are taking up precious hard drive space to be bloat, and blow them out when they first get a laptop. That's fine - generally that's me too, but in this case I wanted to keep it all.

I was going to use Ghost to copy the partitions "as is" to the new hard drive and then expand the C:\ partition
to take up the rest of the space (the new drive is bigger), then partition off a new section and use Ghost to copy the system restore partition. I was doing some research into partitioning and the way Dell has theirs set up. I learned that Media Direct 2 is insane and I'm glad that I have 3, but 4 would be better, but is likely unattainable. I also learned that there is some special preparation the drive must go through
 for the Media Direct to work. Using the Media Direct CD that comes with the Laptop you can run a program that sets up the partitions as they need to be. Most people that upgrade hard drives seem to run the Media Direct Installer, to prep the new hard drive and then use Ghost to Copy the windows installation to the new hard drive. This is what I thought I was doing.

But What I had actually done, was not prepare the new drive at all, and repartitioned my system drive. Losing Everything.

So I've spent the weekend just building the system on the new drive.
The old drive has not been formatted, just repartitioned, so there is a SLIM chance that I may be able to extract some things off of it—I'm not holding my breath though.

I've been searching my memory to figure out if there was anything really critically important on that drive. And I can only think of a few things that aren't backed up somewhere. There are some things that are gone that I will miss: My Original Photoshop Files of Squishy Comics, and My saved Game from Spore are Notable.
But I can live without those.

I'm going to Give Test Disk a shot, but won't be brokenhearted if I'm out of luck.


Using Test Disk I was able to restore the partitions to their proper order. All the Data is still there. I'll try booting the system later.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

A Tale of Two Canons

When we were in Sun Valley, it finally happened. It's been threatening for a while. But in Sun Valley, it bit the Bucket. This is a sample of what our camera was doing.

And it only looked like that, if there was a LOT of light. Normal Lighting conditions generally gave an all black image.
Well, then Kella was born, We borrowed my sister's camera in the hospital. Well, with a new baby and no camera—that's living in the Dark ages. So I found the same model we already had on E-bay for about $60, it was Just the camera, no battery, memory card, not even a wrist strap. Since it was the same model we already had all that stuff. 
I got repair quotes from Canon and from Local Camera shops and every one quoted $180. Now that we had a replacement I was going to be brave and open the thing up and see if it was just a loose connection. I wasn't about to crack it open blindly so I went online and was trying to find information. I'm glad that I didn't open it, I should have known this, but didn't think about it — the flash holds a pretty significant charge and I can see myself getting a pretty good shock. The other thing I found out when I was researching, was that the problem my camera was experiencing was covered regardless of warranty status, as it was a manufacturing defect. So I sent it in and they repaired it Free of Charge. They even paid the shipping, both ways.
So, now we both have our own cameras. 

UPDATE: I thought all was well, then I started taking pictures with the camera that was returned. The Camera is Near Sighted. With a new Baby in the house Close up pictures get taken a lot; then I was taking some pictures down town and they were all coming out blurry. Every picture I take that focuses past 4 or 5 feet is blurry. 

I called Canon again and they stated they will be sending another shipping label—I'll keep you posted.

UPDATE: The Camera Has returned, it's normal vision has been restored. . . . "and there was much rejoicing—yay"

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Gaming Update

Let's see, what have I been up to (Gaming).

Zombies!!! and Humans!!!

Recently we noticed that there is a new Gaming Store that opened close to our home (Noticed before it was open and attended the Grand Opening). Which is exciting; Hastur is a good store, but I hate driving all the way over there, and the Mall store that is close to us really has a limited selection. The new store is awesome. Since it is close I have made a decision to support a local business. I purchased Humans!!! and Zombies!!! 7: Send in the Clowns from them, despite the fact that it cost a little more.

Humans!!! is great. I'd almost venture to say that I like it more than Zombies!!!. The Mechanic is a little more complex, and I don't think we quite have the intricacies of Humans fighting back figured out yet, but I liked this game. I've played it twice. The first time the first round of moves took. . . forever. The second time I thought it would be much easier, but I didn't remember the rules as clearly as I thought I did, so it took some time to get off of the ground as well.

Zombies!!!: 7 Send in the Clowns, unlike previous expansions really feels different. The setting is a circus and you begin trapped in a "Fun" House, when you escape the Fun house, your placed in the Circus by another player. The goal from there is to get a clown car from the Big Top and escape via the entrance to the Circus. The Zombie clowns aren't any different from standard Zombies!!! zombies, other than the Creep Factor of a Zombie Clown being much higher. I guess what really set this apart was the size of the Map. It's much smaller, and though there are only 30 Zombie Clowns included, we did not run out. The scramble to get a clown car and get out first had us stopping each other at all cost. By the end of the game there were no more Zombies on the map and we were just scrambling to get out before someone could play a card and send us away from the goal — it was quite fun.

Then there is Ticket to Ride the Nordic Countries edition.
This "Expansion" was previously only available in the Nordic Countries. It has now been released in the U.S. as a standalone game. When this originally was released in the Nordic Countries, I read about it and thought it was exactly like the Swiss Expansion, but with a different Map. While that is mostly a correct assumption, there is a key ingredient that makes the flavor very different.

It is well established in Ticket to Ride, that if you want to take a wild card from the visible draw piles, you were allowed to take only the wild card. The Disadvantage here being that instead of taking two cards as normal you only get one; by drawing from the hidden draw pile sometimes you luck out and get a wild and another card, or sometimes you get two wilds, by drawing from the visible pile you can get two colors you need to complete your goals — or one wild. Taking a wild becomes a move of desperation when the colors you need are not coming up.     Nordic Countries changes all that by requiring a wild card on many of the routes — taking a wild is no longer done in desperation, but necessity. It really is different, and it really is quite fun.

Now, let's talk about thrift stores.
Sometimes, when you go to a thrift store, you score.
I have in the past mentioned, that I am no longer a fan of Settlers of Catan. At one time it was my favorite game, but now I can hardly stand to play.
I sometimes get this itch to go to thrift stores and check out what they have. I recently scored an unopened copy of The Settlers of Catan Card Game for a Dollar. That's not something to be passed up. The Settlers of Catan Card game has the same Flavor of the original, without the annoyances. I actually really enjoy it. It is a 2 player game and I find myself enjoying the game. So much so, that on a recent trip to the recently opened Friendly Local Gaming Shop I picked up the Expansions. I bought this because it was too good a deal to pass up, and I have played it enough and am not sick of it. The Set Up is a breeze and the play feels quick, though I don't think we've finished a game in under an hour yet. The Expansions are like different spices on top of the game, it's still the same dish, but each has a little different flavor.

We did an experimental 4 player version of the game, utilizing a friends sets. It lasted too long. It was harder and felt tedious. We may try again with an adjustment to the rules.

One More Catan note before moving on. We played one Scenario from the newly released Catan: Traders and Barbarians, and I still don't like traditional Catan.

Now, on the same Thrift Store Trip, I picked up a mysterious game for one reason, and one reason alone.
The Oddly Shaped D4 that was in the box.
Even if pieces had been missing I would have gotten it just for that Die (I have an obsession to feed).

Then I got it home and realized that there was some sort of Green Stain on the bottom of the Box that stunk like death. The Box (as cool and Triangley  as it was) had to go.

The Game is called: The World According to UBI.
It comes with a HUGE outdated map of the world. (The game was published in 1986)
The first read through of the rules was very confusing, that's part of the flavor of this game.
I had to read the rules 3 times to even get it.
Instead of saying, throw the 2D6. It says Roll the Rubis Cubis.

Ultimately, it is a Geographic Trivia Game, and as weird and impossible as the game is, I found it oddly satisfying. We didn't even finish the only game we played. But it is fun.

You get questions that are phrased like: Ubi Rodin's Thinker Think?
And the Answer is Not Paris. You cannot answer Paris. You have to Take the Rubicon Reticule (A hexagon window) and line it up on the map on the location you think the answer corresponds and state the Hexagon number; so the correct answer to this question is 5, or if you answer with Triangle Precision 5-A.

The rules are insane and make for a really long game for those that are not historical and geographical geniuses. Like I said, we didn't finish, not even really close, and we had to implement house rules to even get as far as we did.

The Rules state that The player Born closest to March 15 begins first. I think I should take this to the next Ides of March Party.

Then of Course there's Spore. But this Blog is already too long.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Chrome So Far

So far I really Like it.

It's Fast... No, Really Fast..... Did I mention Faaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaast?

It's only missing one thing as far as I'm concerned. I miss my Google Tool-bar Bookmarks Drop down Menu.
It's odd that there is no Google Tool-bar integrated, at the very least it should have my Google Bookmarks Integrated.

95% converted..

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

I Thought I Was in Familiar Territory

Google Chrome Launches today I understand.

It's a new browser.

I was thinking to myself, let's check it out—because I really Like Google products. (I can't live without Google Toolbar, and you shouldn't either)

So I did a search to see what I could learn about this new browser and was eventually led to this site.
It's a comic book that explains the mindset behind the creation of the new Browser, because everyone is thinking, "I already have Firefox (or insert favorite browser here) why do I need Chrome?"

As I was reading the Comic and being really impressed by the thought that went into Chrome. I kept thinking this artwork is familiar... the whole feel of this comic is familiar. I think I even said to myself this feels like Scott McCloud.

Then I got to the end credits. 

Words by the Google Chrome Team. Comics Adaptation by Scott McCloud.


I own Understanding Comics, and Reinventing Comics, and I would Like to Get Making Comics.
I just knew that the whole thing felt like I had been there done that, even though it was completely new.