Microsoft Announces Windows 10

Ugh, too much Microsoft news for my taste. So Microsoft this last week revealed Windows 10 for the first time. I gotta say, between the naming of the X-box One and Windows 10 and the purchase of Minecraft for $2.5, I feel like Microsoft is incredibly bad with numbers and math. For realsies though, Microsoft is skipping Windows 9 because a lot of programs look for “Windows 9*” when determining your operating system thanks to Windows 95 and Windows 98. This created a programming problem with some things that worked fine with the code, but because of the name of Windows 9, would have gotten screwed up. Woulda been nice if they kept to nontraditional naming like XP and Vista a little longer, but oh well.

I have seen someone doing a quick run through of some of the features that they have showed off so far. I have an overall meh towards it. They added multiple desktops where you can basically create save states of what windows you have open and switch between those states on the fly. This was a much needed addition to Windows and am happy to see it. So far that seems like the biggest addition.

You can keep the start screen of Windows 8 if you want, but the reality is that only touch screen users will do so. Otherwise all those tiles now have a place in the start menu which is finally returning. I don’t particularly like this as I feel that it makes the start menu seem really bloated. The weird thing about Windows 7 and 8 is that I really love the Windows 8 start screen, but I don’t love that they got rid of windows and the start menu and the task bar as those things made using Windows on the PC less frustrating. I would love it if the desktop was the start screen of Windows 8, but you still had windows over the top as normal and the start menu and everything. So basically remove the icons of windows 7 and earlier and replace it with the Windows 8 Start Screen. Allow for people to customize it with backgrounds still, it really is a style change (preferably allow people to choose which way they like best).

Honestly, I always kind of liked the idea of desktop widgets from Windows 7, but there really weren’t many widgets worth having and it tended to slow down the system more than it was worth. And in this day and age I also think that icons are in need of a desperate update, and honestly I thought the look of Windows 8 was very attractive.  So I’d be all about making that what I saw all the time. I don’t understand why Microsoft needs to make it a one or the other proposition… Why can’t I have the good thing about Windows 8 and the good things about Windows 7 at the same freaking time? Why do I have to choose which one I am using right now? Microsoft, I continue to be baffled by your more recent moves.

Will I get it? I don’t know. So far Microsoft hasn’t shown a lot. I suppose it depends on whether the gaming community follows. A lot of developers went out and said they would not build games for Windows 8 because it was that appalling to them, will they come back for 10? Is there really anything different from 10 to 7 that requires the purchase? I don’t know the answer to these questions right now so I will watch as more info comes in. Right now I would lean to probably not worth the $100 investment for my old PC to upgrade. Probably worth it for any new PC that I have to get a new operating system for (which I actually am looking at right now).

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Microsoft Bought Minecraft

After a lot of rumors, it finally happened… Microsoft bought the company that made Minecraft, Mojang, for $2.5 billion. I am overall sad by the purchase, but my general feeling is that it was a good deal for Notch and I don’t blame him at all for pulling the trigger. I mean.. It’s 2.5 billion dollars, would you turn your back on that?

I think the problem with Minecraft is it’s age. Minecraft was released to the public on May 17, 2009 and after a couple of years of public alpha and beta tests, the public version was released on November 18, 2011. Now sitting at over 5 years old, there is a bit of age in the game. Yes profits of the game were up, what 30% last year? That’s an amazing number after 5 years, and I think the 360 sales finally passed the PC sales as well. I am sure this next year will see another rise in profits as well with releases to the PS3 and Xbox One. 1 2015 may be a decent year as well with expected releases on the PS4 and the PSP Vita, though who knows if both of those will follow through with this recent purchase. I wouldn’t be surprised if the PSP Vita one in particular was canned even though Microsoft doesn’t have a portable competitor to put it on. The point is, there might be maybe one more year of good profits before the game starts dropping off, and at that point the Mojang crew really needs to start considering a follow up somehow.

Mojang has tried to make follow up games to Minecraft since it launched. There have been several mini-game/tech demos made during mojams, there is 0x10c, and Cobalt and Scrolls. I feel like there has also been a couple other games but I can’t recall them. The point is none of these games have really worked out. Scrolls in particular started development in 2011 and after 3 years of development is most known for a lawsuit with Bethesda because Mojang tried to trademark the word Scrolls and Bethesda didn’t like that with Elder Scrolls being out there.

This means at some point in time over the next couple of years, Mojang’s next best shot is to make Minecraft 2, in order to get more income out of Minecraft and get all the initial purchases again. The problem with this plan is can Mojang repeat the magic they struck with Minecraft? The thing with Minecraft is that it seems to be one of those games that everyone who tries it loves. The other examples in gaming history that are similar to this that I can think of are Pac-Man and Super Mario Bros. It didn’t matter what kind of gamer you are, whether you were male or female, these are games you love. And Minecraft was in the same boat really. I have a few friends who play the game who I don’t really have in common any other genre. I know a lot of FPS players get into Minecraft even though it isn’t a game that I would generally consider FPS gamer friendly. I have also heard the Minecrackers talk about how the only game that they all have in common is Minecraft and they have a hard time playing other games because there isn’t a shared interest almost anywhere else. About the only people I have heard who dislike the game, really have never played it. Minecraft was special and I don’t think Mojang was going to really be able to repeat it. In fact, trying to make a sequel would have the potential of killing the original player base due to factioning the player base and may even had the ability of lowering the number. 2

So yeah, sell it to Microsoft. Mojang was near the end of the road with their magical horse, might as well sell it while it is still hot and make the most out of what you have. What does Microsoft get? Not entirely sure. They will face the same problem Mojang would have with a sequel but will probably try to do it anyway. I do see potential in offering officially licensed servers, but would have a difficult job making it so no one else could sell Minecraft servers without alienating the existing base. I don’t see Microsoft making back 2.5 billion off this though. Even if they sell servers and continue merchandising push, and Minecraft 2 is a moderate success… i don’t see 2.5 billion. I don’t get it. I mean think about it on this side… let’s assume Minecraft 2 comes out and is a success and sells 2 million units on name recognition alone and let’s say that the cost to make Minecraft 2 is free and they don’t advertise it and don’t sell it in retail… well they just made $100 million… they are still short by $2.4 billion… where do they see the money? To put it into perspective, Disney bought Lucas for $4 billion which included Industrial Light & Magic, Lucas Arts, the Star Wars franchise AND the Indiana Jones Franchise (plus some other stuff like Skywalker Sound). Marvel likewise cost Disney $4 billion. I feel Lucas got ripped off here. But there was serious money in the franchises Disney bought… all Microsoft gets here is Minecraft and from the sounds of it, Notch walks free and doesn’t even have to work at Microsoft.

On Mojang’s side, it’s kind of sad. I mean even though I get it, Mojang was really the company that proved that you didn’t need a big publisher to do it. They were an early indie victor when indies were coming back and they were also a big reason that PC made a come back. And then they went and did their best to support the indie community wherever they could. So to see them sell out to Microsoft seems to fly in the face of what indie is all about, though I don’t blame them. It’s just too bad…

  1. PS3 release was in December of 2013, but outside of a few X-mas sales I bet the bulk of sales come this year.
  2. I note AC1 and AC2. AC1 was at its prime when AC2 came out, but not everyone wanted to make the move so half of the players left leaving a more lonely AC1 playerbase. AC2 never worked out for various reasons and many of the players went off to different games rather than returning to the original. And many from the original left too due to lower numbers. This sort of thing happens a lot in the online space and is why sequels with online games are dangerous. Minecraft is technically not an online game but if people stopped playing and/or youtubing, further new players may diminish as well.

To Those Who Have Inspired and Saved Me…

Video Games are an extremely important part of my life. I mean, as regular of a blogger I may not be, I do blog about them and that sort of proves the point of just how much they mean to me. I picked up on video games at a very early age and though I would never admit it at the time, and still have a hard time doing so, games offered me something that the world could not in so many ways… interactivity. This is extremely ironic to be sure, games do nothing but to try to emulate the real world in many different fashions. But for me, I could not be in the real world like others could physically due to my hemophilia. I take pride in my ability to conquer my disease and not let it stop me from doing what I want to. But the reality is, that I cannot do what others do in the same way that others do. This becomes painfully more clear to me with each passing year. I become less and less able to do what others do, but video games offer me an out. I can do what others do in games. I can be who I want to be without the pain that follows suit.

And maybe because of hemophilia, maybe because I’m too smart for my own damn good… but I have not been able to interact with other people in the same way that I know other people interact with each other. I feel very little empathy and it makes it difficult for me to go and reach out to friends or family when I maybe should have in the past. It makes it difficult for me to know when or how to help others who have needed my help in the past. But yet in games, I can helps others without issue. I mean I get to rescue princesses, rule an empire, or even start a family. Yeah, all these experiences are extremely simple compared to real life interactions, but they offer me an ability to interact in a way that I can’t in real life all the same. Even in MMO settings, I  have the ability to interact with people on the other side of the screen in a much more “normal” way than I can in real life. Maybe it is because games are MY world, when people play with me, they are playing in my home turf. Maybe without being face to face I don’t feel as judged, even if I am.

I was reminded of all this over the last few days as I lay ill, not from hemophilia, but just a random virus that has been going around our office. I laid down on my couch and picked up FInal Fantasy 1 to play again for the first time in some time. And was reminded of how ground breaking this was to my feeble 12 year old self. It caused me a great many fines from the local rental store but I just had to play it more. Or how, my grandfather was the first one to give me a console and really introduce me to games at home. Though for the rest of his life he never seemed to understand my obsession with video games, for one glimmering moment he changed my life for better or worse with a pong machine that he likely picked up at a garage sale. Or at Christmas at my Aunt and Uncle’s house while everyone else was socializing, I would leave the chaos of the party behind in order to go play Pitfall on my cousin’s Atari, thinking how amazing it was because we didn’t have one at home… one of those cousins recently gave me his PS2, somehow seemed very fitting but I don’t think he understands why.  Or after bowling, me and a whole bunch of kids would sit and play the TMNT arcade cabinet as we waited for our parents… though we bowled with each other, I didn’t entirely feel like one of them until we started playing games together. Or when I was hospitalized in second grade, it was an Apple II that comforted me with Carmen Sandiego, Oregon Trail, and some weird game where you hunted monsters that got loose in the town based on clues about the monsters… if someone knows what game I speak, please for the love tell me, haven’t been able to figure it out. And all of the people that I have met over the 20+ years of playing MMOs, every which of one I wish I was still in contact with on a daily basis but life has torn us a part.

And my mother, whom somehow for some reason understood what video games meant to me without saying a word and would bring home her work computer with Karateka so that I could play with it, enrolled me in summer school to learn how to program a Commodre 64, and bought our family a Radio Shack Computer for similar purposes. And honestly never minded a whole god damn much that I sat downstairs playing video games. A lot of people may have called her a bad mother, and am sure she didn’t like me playing that much either. But she dealt with it. Ya know what? I never once have killed a single person, never stole anything of greater value than baseball cards, never done drugs or cigarettes, didn’t have any alcohol in my life until 23 and even still have never binged. All thank you to my mother and video games. I am 36 and I grew up on video games and a better man for it.

For all that and more. Thank you mom, grandpa, Nolan Bushnell, Richard Garriott, Hironobu Sakaguchi, Shigeru Miyamoto, Sid Meier, Chris Sawyer, Will Wright, Satoshi Tajiri, Notch, Yuji Horii and the thousands of other video game developers that have created video games over the last 4 decades. Without you, I would not still be here. Don’t stop doing what you do. Thank you.

A Crazy Summer ’14

I openly admit that my blogging generally dies down come summertime. The reason is obvious. I live in Wisconsin and there are precious few months where we can go outside and enjoy being outside. So come summer every year, I go for walks and trips to the cottage and fairs and other outdoorsy like activities. There has been more to this summer though and I wanted to give a general update as to all the things that happened to me this year over the summer now that we are getting towards the end. <sad face>

I did make a trip up to my mom’s cottage with my daughter this year. It was actually the first time in two years that I have gone up there as last year I went up to a friend’s parent’s cottage instead. I think the break was well placed however as my mom’s cottage felt fresh this year when it was starting to feel old. And really, though we did go up to the cottage 2 years ago, that trip was marked with a drought which caused the lake to stink so much that we left the following morning. So in reality we had not been there for 3 years. The trip went overall pretty well. We did a lot and we did nothing all at the same time. The highlight and lowlight was an innertubing trip down a nearby river which was fun except for when I flipped over and had a panic attack.1 I actually plan on heading out to the cottage again in a couple of weeks but I will likely cover that later.

My health has been fairly ok. I’ve had a couple of back flair ups but nothing too major. And my elbow continues its downward spiral. I had thought it was acting up more often, but at a recent doctors visit I found out that last year I stated the same frequency as this year. However, I do feel while the frequency may be the same, the level of pain is going up. I also think there is more constant pain than before as well. It’s definitely to the point where I always feel my elbow which I don’t think was particularly an issue last year this time. It was stiff always, but never painful always. I will say when I flipped into the river, one of the things that was going through my mind was that I can’t swim anymore due to my elbow which is definitely not a thought I would have had a year ago. Otherwise, I don’t think my Hemophilia has been a huge issue, no major surgeries. This is good.

Work has been going extremely well. I am pretty happy with my job right now. I finished up much of my work with ICD-10 due to a delay in the project by a year due to a federal bill that got put through. So after a couple of months of nearly no work, I was eventually moved to an area that I wanted to move to since I started working the call center. It is only temporary through the end of the year. But I am the main BA on the project (and really only BA on the project) which puts me in a position to really make a name for myself. I am also learning a lot about how I need to work. It has been a very good move for me and I have enjoyed the work so far and think I will continue to enjoy it going forward.

I don’t remember if I have mentioned my gardening in previous blog entries, but I generally garden every year. The last couple i have been doing gardening in boxes on my patio. This year has been very frustrating for me. I decided to try to start the year with spinach peas and carrots in my main box in hopes that they would be done by the time the real season started so that I could grow herbs in it as normal. However, the winter meant a later start to the growing season than I intended and the carrots and peas took well into mid-June to get anywhere.I also didn’t get much out of them either. The spinach turned out pretty good however and I got some really good crop out of it. I would like to do it again just for the spinach but it will take more thought on how to do it correctly. This box had a secondary affect on the rest of my garden as I was using the cage that I generally use for my tomato plant for the peas and I didn’t get it moved to the tomato until far too late and the tomato ended up less healthy than it should have been. It still is producing tasty tomatoes, just not as well as I had intended. I also planted lettuce with the tomato, but none of the lettuce has gotten past seedling. It has been at seedling for a couple of months now and I don’t know why it won’t grow further. Lastly I purchased a bigger container so that I could grow potatoes, they grew extremely well actually… until something dug them up and killed the plants. I don’t know how the potatoes turned out, I have been letting them grow as much as they could but at this point the plants look pretty much done and I should dig up what I got. Hopefully they are actually ok but this seems way early for potatoes. Still, it gives me hope that I can do this again in the future. The one plant that has worked extremely well has been a strawberry plant that I decided to do. I was not expecting a crop from it this year and I haven’t gotten much more than a few tiny berries, but this is normal for strawberries. The plant however looks extremely healthy. The real test will be how it goes through the winter… One thing that has surprised me by the strawberries was that I expected runners that I could use in other holes of my strawberry pot and so far that hasn’t happened.

My video gaming has dropped off almost completely until the last couple of weeks. And this leads me into the reason why this has been a crazy summer. I have gotten into a game called Ingress. Ingress is an Alternate Reality Game where you go to real locations in the world which have portals that you can see in your cell phone. You can then take them over, link them together to create fields and then the fields give you points based on the population density of the area and the size of the field. I have gotten really involved in the game, but of late I have been trying to take a step back from it. It is overall a really fun game but can be frustrating when others don’t play and the secondary problem I have is there is really no point in site. There are cycles that you can win, but there doesn’t seem to be any noticeable reward for winning, or even a history of who won. Just a memory and hopefully that works. The lack of point makes it hard to keep going with it full on and I don’t think I’m the only one who struggles with it as people fade in and out quite a bit.  The game is also kind of expensive. I mean it is free, but you have to pay for gas and there is a fair amount of driving to go from place to place. It is ironic considering the game was meant to encourage people to walk but the way they approve portals makes it difficult to get portals in walkable only places. I do recommend the game even if it is for a bit just to experience it as it is fun. There are bigger events that go on periodically throughout the world. And I am looking forward to taking part in my first in a couple of weeks up in Minneapolis. This is why I will be going back to my mom’s cottage for a second time this summer as it is fairly close to Minneapolis and will make for a more affordable trip.

Well that’s my summer in a nutshell. I do want to get back into blogging both here and at bucketgeek.com but it probably won’t get back to a great frequency at least for a month.

  1. I have a fear of being on the water so it was a big deal to even be on the tubes. Flipping into the water was the reason of the fear.

The Paper

Who screwed you?
Was it man? Was it woman?
Were they gentle? Were they firm?
Was it fast? Did they take their time?
Did they twist? Did they turn?
Did they drill? Did they hit the stud?
Why did they screw you?
You were frail and thin.
Up against the wall.
You didn’t need so much effort worked.
Now you are no longer needed.
Just scraps.
Your remnants there due to the screw.
They could have just nailed you.

My love

There is a hole in me, a hole you were meant to fill.
I feel empty and alone, cold and unchallenged.
I look at my hand and it seems empty without your fingers intertwined with mine.
My fingertips push nothing without your hair that hides your face.
I can’t watch anything without your eyes to gaze.
I can’t hold still without your arms to hold.
Your scent I miss too though I have no sense of its smell.
For I have no idea who you are my dear.
I just wish you were here.

A Sign of Mine Age

When the DVD format came out, I fell in love. I never liked VHS. They were bulky, they had not great terrible, and even in high school I was aware that they wore out. They had no value to me. When DVD came along, they promised me longer life, better quality and special features. And so I bought Starship Troopers and The Fifth Element, before I even bought a DVD player.I did buy a DVD player shortly thereafter, but it was a sign of things to come as I would buy any and every DVD of movies that I liked and sooner than I knew it, my collection was quite large.

And then came the wars between HD-DVD and Blu-Ray. Personally, I sided with HD-DVD as the better format, but I waited out the battle, choosing to buy neither until one was a victor. Of course, it didn’t hurt that I didn’t own an HDTV either and wasn’t really all that interested. You know, to this day I don’t feel that the quality is THAT much better than standard def TV, but I do appreciate that the screen is a widescreen format by default now. Continue reading

NBC’s Olympic Coverage Angers Me!

I have to say so far for the 2014 Olympics, I am seriously annoyed by NBC.

First off, they apparently have no idea that people don’t want sports results spoiled. I am good lord! They have a videos section on the olympic website where you supposedly can go to watch replays of sports, but on the videos page itself they give you the results of the sports that you are trying to watch. They need at least a 24-48 hour cool down on their site before they put results in headers, and on the video section they should never give results!!! Continue reading