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Month: July 2012

Metro 2033 Video Game

I played this game on a MacBook Pro using OnLive and had no technical difficulties.

This first person shooter has a lot of problems, it starts out slow, takes a long time to get going, and then at the very end throws some odd control issues at you. It is definitely “on a rail” and appears to only offer one pretty flat story to tell.

Maybe its biggest problem is that it is trying to tell a story. It may have been a better game if there was more than one way to get to the end and something in all the dialog that let me know that the end was coming.

But for all that, it is not a half bad shooter and it is available for less than $10 when on sale.

From the publisher:

Set in the shattered subway of a post apocalyptic Moscow, Metro 2033 is a story of intensive underground survival where the fate of mankind rests in your hands. In 2013 the world was devastated by an apocalyptic event, annihilating almost all mankind and turning the earth’s surface into a poisonous wasteland. A handful of survivors took refuge in the depths of the Moscow underground, and human civilization entered a new Dark Age. The year is 2033. An entire generation has been born and raised underground, and their besieged Metro Station-Cities struggle for survival, with each other, and the mutant horrors that await outside. You are Artyom, born in the last days before the fire, but raised Underground. Having never ventured beyond your Metro Station-City limits, one fateful event sparks a desperate mission to the heart of the Metro system, to warn the remnants of mankind of a terrible impending threat. Your journey takes you from the forgotten catacombs beneath the subway to the desolate wastelands above, where your actions will determine the fate of mankind. Metro 2033 is a gripping, atmospheric first person shooter experience powered by cutting edge technology to deliver incredible visuals. Witness the everyday horrors of a broken society living in constant fear. Brave the darkness of the tunnels, where mutants hunt their prey and ghostly spirits lurk. Explore the desolate city-surface, trusting your gas mask and rifle to protect you from a poisoned world and the creatures that roam there. Steel your nerve and prepare to face the terrors that await.

I rate this game a 7 out of 10.


Basic Economics, Fourth Edition: A Common Sense Guide to the Economy by Thomas Sowell

I read this audiobook written by Thomas Sowell and narrated by Tom Weiner from Audible.

"Economics is the study of the use of scarce resources which have alternative uses."

Read that sentence above a couple of times, it took me awhile to realize just how true and important it is. I learned from this book that government interference in a free and open market is the source of most of the world’s economic pain. I believe the world would be a much better place if everyone understood the lessons contained in this book.

Do yourself a favor, find this book and read the summary that is the last chapter of the book. You owe it to yourself and the community you live in.

From the publisher:

The fourth edition of Basic Economics is both expanded and updated. A new chapter on the history of economics itself has been added, and the implications of that history examined. A new section on the special role of corporations in the economy has been added to the chapter on government and big business, among other additions throughout the book.Basic Economics, which has now been translated into six languages, has grown so much that a large amount of material in the back of the book in previous editions has now been put online instead, so the book itself and its price will not have to expand. The central idea of Basic Economics, however, remains the same: that the fundamental facts and principles of economics do not require jargon, graphs, or equations, and can be learned in a relaxed and even enjoyable way.

I rate this book a 10 out of 10 and a must read for anyone.


Fallout 3: Game of the Year Edition

I bought this game on Steam and played it in Windows 7 in Bootcamp on a MacBook Pro.

There were a lot of crashing with the game initially; apparently the default install is a horrible experience full of crashes and blue screens for many, many players. It took a lot of searching and a lot of fiddling around to get the game to play for more than 10 minutes without crashing but eventually I found the right combination of settings and the game played great.

When the developers say that this is an open world game, they are not kidding. You can go almost anywhere at any time and while wondering around can be solid fun, later in the game I found it annoying. I would stumble upon things that were obviously a part of some quest but I had not found the guy that would give me the quest yet.

For example I found a violin in one of the Vaults (a place where people lived to get away from the radiation), it was definitely part of a quest as I had found nothing else like it in my travels, but I had no idea what to do with it or who could possible give me such a quest. With the help of the Fallout Wiki I found out where to get the appropriate quest and the game did a great job of giving me a good option to complete the quest easily once I found the right person.

That is one of the most impressive parts of this game, how it compensates for the user not following the main quest arc. I did all kinds of things trying to see how I could break the game and felt that I never did.

I really enjoyed this game and look forward to playing the next in the series, Fallout: New Vegas.

From the official web site:

Vault-Tec engineers have worked around the clock on an interactive reproduction of Wasteland life for you to enjoy from the comfort of your own vault. Included is an expansive world, unique combat, shockingly realistic visuals, tons of player choice, and an incredible cast of dynamic characters. Every minute is a fight for survival against the terrors of the outside world – radiation, Super Mutants, and hostile mutated creatures. From Vault-Tec, America’s First Choice in Post Nuclear Simulation.

I rate this game an 8 out of 10


2012 Trip To Las Vegas

Bobbie and I traveled to Las Vegas in June and had a great time. Part of the trip was the Usability Professional’s Association conference, which was really cool, and the other part was pure vacation.

We spent 4 days at the M Resort well South of the strip. The M is an interesting casino; they focus on the locals while catering to conferences. We ate at Anthony’s where we had an amazing steak and at Anthony’s Burgers and Brews, which was just ok. Their buffet is award winning and a couple of locals highly recommended it to us, but we did not eat there.

Our room was very nice with a King sized bed and a large soaking tub, but the view was not very appealing.

While I was at the conference, Bobbie took advantage of the beautiful swimming pool and spa. She came back each day raving about how wonderful the spa was with people waiting on her hand and foot. One day she had her hands “done” and the next her feet. I think she really enjoyed herself.

For the weekend we moved downtown to the Golden Nugget on Fremont Street. I chose this hotel because of their amazing swimming pool and their wide array of poker tournaments.

We spent a lot of time at the pool and I must have gone down the slide 20 times or more. In the middle of the pool is an aquarium full of fish and a handful of sharks, and if that is not cool enough, there is a water slide that twists its way down through the middle of it. A few times I was able to slow myself down and actually see the sharks swimming around me on my way down. It was a lot of fun.

On Saturday morning I played in a sit-and-go poker tournament with 10 players, I placed 5th, which was ok as it was my first time playing poker with strangers. Sadly I did not get a chance to play any other poker.

In between we visited the strip and spent time at New York New York, where I played some blackjack; the MGM, which is undergoing remodeling and is a total mess; Caesar’s, where we watched the animatronic show; the Bellagio, where we watched the fountain, ate at the buffet, and had some desert. Bobbie also visited the Coca-Cola store and the M&M museum.

We also visited the Pinball Museum where I got to play Xenon, my favorite game from middle school, and Getaway, a game that I played for many hours while in boot camp. Bobbie found a Doctor Who pinball machine that was a lot of fun.

Saturday night we got to see the Penn & Teller show at the Rio, it was an amazing show and we had a great time. We even got our program signed and pictures taken after the show.
And, we also stumbled onto the World Series of Poker at the Rio. We watched some game play from afar, took some pictures of the final table, and bought some souvenirs. Didn’t see anyone I recognized, but I didn’t look very hard.

The Smoking!

The only really negative thing about our trip was the amount of cigarette smoke. Everywhere we went we were assaulted by the overpowering stench of cigarette smoke. I laughed pretty hard when I saw the non-smoking section in the M Resort casino, in total it was 9 slot machines placed between a wall and bar area that allowed smoking.

The only non-smoking places we found all week were our hotel rooms and the room at the Golden Nugget where they held the tournament.

The smoke was so bad that I would think real hard about returning to Las Vegas for a vacation.