Thursday, June 26, 2014

The Digital Age is Ruining EVERYTHING.

Today, I decided to visit the local Barnes & Noble. Now, before anyone comments, I do own a digital reading device or Nook.  A very nice Nook that is a few generations old, but it is in color and is rather nice.  I used it extensively when I purchased it a few years ago and I still use it from time to time when I am out of town on a trip.  However, like all avid readers will attest to, sometimes you just have to hold a book and turn each page.  I know, it's nuts, but I really do enjoy reading from a book rather than a digital representation of a book.

Now that I've gotten that out of the way.  So, I visited the local B&N looking for a few specific books.  Nothing too crazy.  One was "The Everything Store" by Jeff Bezos, which is a book about Amazon.  I was interested in it after listening to a story on Radio Lab and thought it might be an interesting read.  So, I checked in several areas of the store and couldn't find it.  I tried biographies, computers and I even tried the section marked Essays, but no go.  So, instead of asking a person, which in the past has been a mistake every single time I've done so at this local B&N, including the time I was looking to purchase my Nook (A story that also needs its own post), I decided to use my smart phone and see if the store had it listed as available via their website.  The only store that had that book in stock was about 20 min down the road, so I figured, well, I will just look for the second book I was interested in.

The second book on my list happened to be "The Measure of All Things" by Ken Alder.  What can I say, I'm trying to broaden my mind a little.  Reading comics, scifi and fantasy books are great, but I need to expand my horizons as people tend to say.  So I thought, hey, this might be a pretty interesting book, why not see if they have it in stock?  This time, I chose not to consult the smart phone.  I decided that I would be an average customer and scan all the sections and try and ferret out this book.  Alas, after spending a good 30 mins hunting, I came up with nothing.  Sadly, I have this problem a lot at this particular B&N.  My wife hates going there because she usually has a list of books she is looking for and every single time, they don't have it.  If she asks an employee to help her, they always say, "it's currently not in" would you like us to order it for you and have it shipped to the store?  We always decline because, if I'm going to go through the trouble of ordering a book online, then why not just do it from the comfort of my own home and have it shipped to my front door.

Is it really their fault they don't have books in their store?  That's the question I guess I have to truly ask.  Due to the digital age, people just download or order books directly online, skipping the brick and mortar stores.  If the stores don't get the right kind of traffic, then why clutter up the shelves with books that only a few people might be interested in rather than books that your database says people are more prone to walk in off the street and buy.  Of course, that doesn't excuse why they have books on mythology in the essay section or why they have more books on horror romance and Manga than books on US and World history.  Don't they know young people would be more inclined to buy online than older people?  Still, is it the digital age that's killing the book store or is it just poor management and poor stocking?  I would go in the store more if I felt they would have items in stock that would be of interest to me.  Even when I go looking for a graphic novel, they don't seem to be consistent about what items they keep in stock. They have issues 1 - 4 and then it skips to 7, 9 and 10.  Why not just get 1 - 7 at the very least, so the customer can get a more complete section of a series, rather than piece mealing it.  I just don't understand how businesses can expect to keep customers when they don't even seem to be making an effort.  It's like they are throwing in the towel and letting the digital age whip their ass.

I honestly don't think Barnes & Noble will be around much longer once they spin off their Nook division.  Once they do that, it's pretty much "game over".  Waldens and Borders already bit the dust and I believe that if it wasn't for Christmas and Starbucks, B&N would have closed their doors long ago.  I'm not saying that the digital age is evil, but it has ruined a lot of really good things.  People don't talk anymore face to face, they just text.  They don't have any real physical interaction, it's all virtual.  You don't have playgrounds, you have virtual worlds where you do all your running and jumping.   It's ruining EVERYTHING.

Saturday, June 21, 2014


Wow, its really hard to come back after a very very long break and start writing a blog.  I envy those who do it every day.  Me, I'm lucky if I can get something going once a week, but I'm going to try.  First off, lets talk about what I've been playing.

Well, I've decided to jump back into the subscription based MMO and play WildStar.  After railing against that particular gaming model, I completely reversed my decision and signed up for 3 months of play.  So far I'm enjoying it a lot.  I think what makes it more fun this time around is the community I have attached myself to, Alliance of Awesome.  Its suppose to be a collection of smaller guilds which have decided to form a larger, all encompassing guild that spans several different games.  This way, more like minded people can play together in groups, since membership in some guilds can be sparse and if you have a larger pool of people to pull from then everyone gets to play.  WildStar will be my first forte with this particular guild and so far I'm really enjoying it.  But lets chat about the game.

Let me see, what can I say about WildStar.  It plays and looks, to me, a lot like World of Warcraft.  I personally call it WoW in Space, but its really much much more than that.  Its a very complex game where as, WoW is a more simple MMO.  From crafting to ability selection to even types of gear, this game is pretty deep.  The questing is pretty simple, get quest, collect, kill or find X and return for reward.  There are also challenges which you unlock by finding and item or killing a specific mobs.  These challenges are on timers so you have to hurry to complete them.  However, if you fail a challenge, its in your quest log so at anytime you can reactivate it, just be in the right area to do it or you'll fail again.

I'm not going to go into class or race specifics.  I'm playing mostly Dominion Faction, which is the Horde side of WoW in Space.  I have a warrior, medic, spell slinger and engineer I'm currently working on.  Each has its own pluses and minuses.  I tend to die more on my warrior than any other class so far, but my warrior was my first character and as with all things, the more you play the more you learn about not dying, so I've been much more luckier with my other toons so far.  The medic isn't the only healing class, which doesn't surprise me since my medic can dish out some serious damage.  So far the only major DPS class I've experienced is the SpellSlinger and they are pretty dangerous and a lot of fun.

The other interesting aspect of WildStar is the housing.  At level 15 you get a quest that introduces you to your plot.  Everyone gets a plot of land to erect a house, add some decorations, expand the plot if need be, and have a place to call home, which can give you special benefits like rested Xp and bonuses.  As you quest and collect loot,furnishings for your home will become available as either rewards or drops.  A lot of people will quest till 15 and then spend a week working on their house, I can see that.  However, adding items to the house can get expensive so you'll have to go back out eventually and quest to make money.  Its a vicious cycle that WildStar has somewhat perfected.

One last thing, the game runs rather nicely.  I purchased the game within the first week of release and I didn't have any major issues with the game.  I had some non responsive mobs, but that happens in WoW even after 5 yrs of operation.  The game didn't have any major lag, everything worked as expected and if I was to categorize the launch I would have to say pretty darn smooth.  Which seems pretty rare considering all the preorders and how many people picked up the game in the first couple of days.  I'm really happy so far with how this experience has turned out.  The subscription doesn't bother me and if they keep promising to add new content, which they have already done, for free, then I'm ok with paying a few bucks a month to support the cause.

I do want to thank everyone in my Twitter feed who, after chatting about the game for SEVERAL days, caused me to collapse under the peer pressure and purchase the game.  They know who they are because I game with them just about every day now.

Till next time.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Dear Blog

Dear Blog,

I want to apologize for my lack of attention over the last several months  year.  I did not mean to neglect you, although G+ is pretty, less format restrictive and just plan fun to be around, it doesn't mean I don't love you anymore or less.  Yes, I know I have spent a LOT of time with her, but that doesn't mean that deep down I don't still consider you to be my first and only love.  And to prove it, I'm going to try over the next year few  months  weeks and spend as much time as possible with you, hoping we can rekindle some of that lost long forgotten magic that we once had together.

First off lets do a bit of catching up.

Over the last year I've been engaged in several conversations of high interest. I picked up Diablo 3 thinking it would be a fantastic sequel to Diablo 2, but it failed right out of the gate and I railed against it a lot of G+.  Their Auction House idea was a disaster and people stopped playing it after reaching top level or in my case, after finishing the game on Easy mode.  I swore that the game was horrible and that I would never return to it.  However, in the past few months, I've purchased the expansion and level capped 4 different characters.  Another interesting story is a conversation I had over on G+ concerned my stern position against getting involved in any games with a subscription based model since there are way too many great Free 2 Play games out there and spending any money monthly on a game is just a waste of good cash, which is why I'm currently subbing to WildStar and not spending as much time in Guild Wars 2.  

It would seem that this past year consisted mainly of me reversing my position on a lot of things.  I feel that if I had just stayed with my blog a lot of these reversals wouldn't have been possible.  I'd not be playing WildStar, which is a fantastic game. I would never have picked up the Diablo 3 expansion and reconnected with a good college and home town friend.  I would still be a grumpy, grouchy dwarf.

Lets see, what else happened? Oh I did purchase a PS4 at the beginning of the year, after stating that I would probably wait well into the middle of 2014 before I even considered purchasing a new system.  I again failed that saving throw.  Lucky for me, there aren't any games on the PS4 right now,   so I'm not spending a lot of money or time on it.  Which leaves me free to play pinball on my Vita from time to time.  I also purchased a 3DS XL, which I promptly bought Animal Crossing New Leaf and stopped playing after only getting a few weeks into it.  I missed all the fall and winter scenes and I'm sure my town needs lot of weed pulling to get it in good scenic shape.  But I was too busy playing Guild Wars 2, which recaptured my attention for several months and then quickly be replaced by Diablo 3, which is currently being replaced by WildStar.  Oh I'm sure I'll get back to them... maybe.

I also finished my first BioShock game, Infinity.  It was fantastic.  A lot of people didn't like the ending, but I found it very entertaining.  The combat towards the middle of the game seemed rushed or a bit too much at times, but I still enjoyed the over all enough to ignore those issues.  I plan to do a replay of it at some point once I'm devoid of any games that have my attention.  I also picked up a ton of games on Steam which are currently just taking up space on my hard drive, but when a sale is on, you just can't ignore it.  Steam seems to know exactly when I have money and exactly what games they can put on sale to grab it.  I'm sure I'll eventually get to those games, once the game companies stop releasing games for 2 years.  I put my toes into several different games as well, WarFrame, FireFall, Hearthstone, Kerbal Space Program, Sim City, South Park: Stick of Truth and probably tons more.  But as usual they grabbed my attention for a short amount of time and just as quickly they become icons cluttering up my screen as I shuffle them around to make room for the new ones that grab my attention.

Well that is about it.  I just wanted you to know that I would be spending some time with you and wanted to explain that I'm wishy washy and I've mellowed a good bit over the last year.  I'm older, but I'm not very wise, and I may say GET OFF MY LAWN from time to time, but I'm not as stringent about my views anymore.  I'm open to new ideas and I think that is a good thing.  I try to be less annoying when possible and I'll be hanging my hat here for a while at least.

Thanks for understanding


Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Remembering River

Found out today that one of my favorite twitter people passed away yesterday.    People often wonder if meeting people through gaming and the internet can be as "personal" as meeting them in real life?  I have to say that the answer to that is a resounding, YES.  I only knew River though gaming, twitter and his blog, but yet I am sitting here after reading the news of his passing and feeling as if  I just got ran over by a truck.  I am very sad and depressed over this horrible news.

  I will always think fondly of our dirty, obscene rants on twitter and how he always had a way of making rather boring days at work pass quickly in short bursts of 140 characters or less.  No one will every replace him in my heart.  He was odd, funny, dirty minded, distasteful and well.. my internet friend and I will miss him deeply.

Be safe and happy where every you are.