RIP – actress Yvonne Craig

Holy Dilemma, Batman!  The Joker’s captured Batgirl!

batgirl

Well, I hope that Heath Ledger and Yvonne Craig are better off now.  According to an article on BBC, actress Yvonne Craig has moved on after a fight with breast cancer that had involved her liver.  She was 78 years old.

http://www.bbc.com/news/entertainment-arts-33985709

Idle (or Idol?) speculation . . .

I became a US Army veteran in September of 1982 – so I was an adult when Patrick Dempsey made “Can’t Buy Me Love” in 1987.

Like many others, my wife has been nearly addicted to watching “Grey’s Anatomy” – which stars Patrick Dempsey.

Recently, my wife and I were browsing Netflix Instant Viewing to see what might be available – and “Can’t Buy Me Love” was there, so we took a stroll down memory lane.

I found it very interesting that in CBML, the only classroom scenes with Dempsey’s character (Ronald Miller) are in the science lab – where they are working to memorize the scientific names of the bones of the human skeleton.

Pretty essential training for someone who will (20 years later) be a world-class neurosurgeon.  LOL!

A $70 lesson . . .

Before I tell you my lesson that I learned yesterday, I need to back up and fill you in on some background data.

It started between 2 and 3 months ago.  The PS3 that we used for both playing video games and watching Netflix streaming videos started misbehaving.  Mind you, it is getting a bit old, so I wasn’t upset about that.  But, there was a mild bit of frustration in it not consistently loading the audio when I wanted to play a video game from a disc.  That was the only time I noticed a problem, and at first it didn’t happen very often, so I waited.

A couple of weeks ago, it had gotten to the point that this same problem occurred about half of the time.  That was annoying, so I decided it was time to replace the PS3.

However, I had what I thought was a bright idea.  Since the old system was working fine for Netflix – let’s use BOTH systems, and put the gaming load entirely on the new system, while continuing to use the old one for Netflix streaming.  The TV had an adequate number of cable connections available to do this, so it seemed a great idea.

Thursday I got a migraine, so wouldn’t you know the new PS3 would arrive on Friday.  I looked into how the data transfer utility on the PS3’s worked, and it looked like something I should be able to handle.  Perhaps if I hadn’t had the migraine, I would have slowed down.

First, I had to do a software update for the new PS3.  That was the first problem – I’d forgotten what the password is to access our wireless router.  Ok, I’ll just reset it.

Wrong.  I’m still not exactly sure what I did wrong (I had a management utility disc and thought I was following directions) – but I managed to kick the entire wireless router off-line.  After phone calls to 4 different IT departments, I learned that I’d have to replace the router to restore functionality.  Meanwhile – we had NO internet access at all.

Why did it take 4 phone calls to learn that?  I’m so glad you asked!  The first phone call was to the tech support line for the company that hosts our ISP.  Because our phone service is connected to the internet service, when they remotely rebooted the modem to try resynching it to the router, it cut off the phone call.

Call 3 was to the tech support line for the company that owned the manufacturer of the router when I bought it.  It was their number listed in the owner’s manual.  But they sold that subsidy 3 years ago, so they don’t offer support for those routers anymore.  They were nice about it, though, and looked up the 800# for the tech support people I did need to talk to.  That was call #4.

Call 4 was nowhere near the pleasure of call 3.  They were rude, and wouldn’t even discuss my problem until they had a database file on me, complete with personal information I don’t usually give to anyone over the phone.  When I finally got to tell them the make/model of the router, they said we’d just wasted all the time making the file (well, that wasn’t their point-of-view, but it is MINE) because it was old enough the warranty had expired.  So they could help me, if I wanted to pay them a set fee per half-hour for live tech support.  I have a personal rule – never pay for anything “by the hour” if you can get it done at a flat fee.  Pay by the hour is a trick shysters use to run up expenses while pretending to be busy.

So, I made a few local calls, and found a replacement router and had my wife swing by (she was out grocery shopping yesterday morning anyhow) and pick one up.  We were back on the internet before noon.

And the lesson I learned?  Never try to do anything that requires concentration and critical thinking skills while dealing with a migraine.  I should have been able to reset those security settings with no problem, in about 5 minutes.

Anyhow, as I type this (about 30 minutes after midnight, local time) the PS3’s are both fully updated, the trophies synched, and the data transfer is about 35% done.  The on-board time estimate to completion is another hour and a half.

Vote Democrat! (humor)

THE TOP “10” REASONS TO VOTE DEMOCRAT !!

# 10) I vote Democrat because I love the fact that I can now marry whatever I want. I’ve decided to marry my German Shepherd.

# 9) I vote Democrat because I believe oil companies’ profits of 4% on a gallon of gas are obscene, but the government taxing the same gallon at 15% isn’t.

# 8) I vote Democrat because I believe the government will do a much better job of spending the money I earn than I would.

# 7) I vote Democrat because Freedom of Speech is fine as long as nobody is offended by it.

# 6) I vote Democrat because I’m way too irresponsible to own a gun, and I know that my local police are all I need to protect me from murderers and thieves. I am also thankful that we have a 911 service that get police to your home in order to identify your body after a home invasion.

# 5) I vote Democrat because I’m not concerned about millions of babies being aborted so long as we keep all death row inmates alive and comfy.

# 4) I vote Democrat because I think illegal aliens have a right to free health care, education, and Social Security benefits, and we should take away Social Security from all those who paid into it.

# 3) I vote Democrat because I believe that businesses should not be allowed to make profits for themselves. They need to break even and give the rest away to the government for redistribution as the Democrat Party sees fit.

# 2) I vote Democrat because I believe liberal judges need to rewrite the Constitution every few days to suit fringe kooks who would never get their agendas past the voters.

And the # 1) reason I vote Democrat is because I think it’s better to pay $billions$ for oil to people who hate us, but not drill our own because it might upset some endangered beetle, gopher or fish here in America. We don’t care about the beetles, gophers or fish in those other countries.

How to kill a video game franchise . . .

I don’t talk very much about gaming on this blog, because I have a LiveJournal account where that is most of what I do.  However, because I posted my open letter to the gaming industry here, I did think that it might be appropriate to look at what the industry can do wrong.  Mostly because when they do it wrong, they go big on the error.

My case study for this is the 3rd installment of the franchise Dragon Age.

This one is called Dragon Age: Inquisition.  Both of the previous installments became “Game of the Year” award winners, and I loved the games.  So my hopes were high.

First up – the controls.  Every game in this series has had a different map to the controls.  Frustration levels run exceptionally high when you are in combat situations and instinctively try to attack with the previous habit motions, but your character dies because that button/trigger now does something totally different.  DA:I takes this to a new extreme.  Where the previous games started with very simple controls, and slowly opened up new commands over the course of the game, DA:I is more complex at the start than the others were at the end.

Secondly, let’s look at in-game story continuity.  In the first game of the series, you could play as any of 4 different basic character types, with up to 10 different back stories (plus the option of playing each as male/female), and your decisions both at character generation and throughout the game had real in-game impacts on how events unfolded and how NPC’s reacted to you.  In the second game, you’re only allowed one race choice, thus only warrior/rogue/mage types, and male/female.  However, you were allowed to import your save file from the first game to fill in the back story to adjust how the NPC’s behave in the game – a first in my gaming experience, and it was awesome!  DA:I adds one new race as a playable character (Qunari), but does not support importing save files from previous games.

On to trophies.  We all want to be acknowledged for our hard work – the same is true in gaming.  So imagine the disappointment average people will feel in finding out that no matter how many times they play the entire game, they will never be able to earn a “Platinum” trophy (or Achievement on the Xbox systems).  This is because there are two trophies that absolutely require you to play the entire game on “Hard” or “Nightmare” difficulty settings, and most people who play these games won’t be able to do that.

Next up is the User Interface.  There is a HUD-type map that appears on the screen to help you navigate to objectives.  Or at least that is what it is supposed to do.  It fails completely because the compass freely spins as you change directions, resulting in you never being certain where you are or how to get to your chosen destination.

Now on to character leveling – the process of improving your character as you progress through the game.  The previous two installments of this series handled this fairly well, and with good planning it was possible to keep your character’s build ahead of the demands of the game.  Not so with DA:I – which now has a “power” stat that is the measure of the influence of the Inquisition.  The power stat goes up rather independently of the XP that you need to raise level, but is directly tied into the level of the opponents you face.  It shouldn’t be hard to imagine the pain and frustration of having a level 6 character who is suddenly facing level 10 demons!  Oh, and I’ve also had the “pleasure” of having my level 4 character run into a DRAGON.  FYI – one fireball from the dragon wiped out my entire party.

I could continue – but suffice it to say that everything my “open letter” said the video game should do differently has been done wrong by BioWare and EA in the third game of the Dragon Age series.  I don’t think I’ll be interested in a 4th game of this series.  These companies don’t care about your business or mine – they cater to the elite “top 3%” of all gamers, and this game proves it in spades.

Death of a Salesman . . .

No, I’m not talking about the famous play, or the movie version of it.  In fact, this isn’t really about a person at all.

It’s about our TV.  The LG 28″ HD TV we’ve had for about 7 years.  About 10 days ago I noticed that I was having trouble getting a picture when I first turned on the TV, but if I cycled it ON/OFF a few times, the picture would come up.  Then, last Monday my wife commented that she’d noticed that problem, so I confirmed it.  By Wednesday, I got in touch with our electronics techie, and he told me that it was either “swollen capacitors” on the motherboard, or the power supply was giving out.  He gave me the website for a company that specializes in selling repair parts for flat-panel TV’s.

Armed with that information, I went to the website, and found that while they did have a lot of parts for other LG TV’s – our specific model number was not listed.  It didn’t matter which problem our TV had, because I couldn’t confirm that we’d be able to get a replacement part.  When I told my wife that, we decided that it was time to get a new TV.

However, it was after 6:00 pm when we came to that decision, and our local Westco was closed.  I went online to BestBuy.com, and found a 32″ TV that would meet all of our needs (we don’t have cable TV or Satellite service) and we had the money in savings to cover it’s price, so I ordered it and paid for expedited shipping to get it by Friday.  I gave them our address, credit card number . . . and a blind email address I’d set up just for such situations so I wouldn’t have to give out my real email contact to corporations.  I did NOT give them our home phone number.

2 hours later I got an email that BestBuy.com was cancelling the order, “because we can’t confirm some of your information”.  Apparently invading your privacy for their database is more important to them than making a sale.

Well, that wasn’t going to fly with me.  The next morning, I took my wife to work and kept the car.  At 10:00 am when Westco opened, I waddled in and told the clerk helping me what I wanted.  He told me that, no matter what the Westco website said about availability, THIS store hadn’t had anything smaller than a 38″ TV in stock for over 2 years.  On that Thursday morning, the smallest TV he had was a LG 42″ HD TV – that was nearly double what I had already been willing to pay to BestBuy for the 32″ TV.  However, he assured me that we’d have it that afternoon – free delivery and setup.

It’s on our coffee table now.  The first movie we watched was a Netflix disc we got in the mail Wednesday morning – “The Fault In Our Stars”.  It was a great movie in it’s own right, but it was awesome for breaking in our new TV.

Oh, and the first time I fired up the PS3 to play one of my games – I freaked out.  I thought everything looked spectacular on the 28″ TV – the 42″ almost makes the games look photo-realistic.  I am eagerly anticipating the release in a couple of weeks of the new game – “Dragon Age: Inquisition”.

Netflix and SyFy need to make up . . .

Here is my problem.  I’ve been a joyful Netflix subscriber almost since day one.  I get unlimited streaming, plus one disc at a time.  For that I pay a modest price that I’m very happy with, that grants me legal access to watching anything available on Netflix.

However, a couple of years ago Netflix and SyFy couldn’t agree on terms to extend/renew a contract that already existed between them, and SyFy pulled all the content they were already offering through Netflix.  Well, I’m what some people call a cord-cutter.  I don’t have a satellite service, I don’t subscribe to cable-TV, and I don’t watch pirate video.  So when SyFy pulled the plug on Netflix, they pulled the plug on me, and there are several shows on SyFy that I would love to see.

The Wil Wheaton Project

Andromeda

Babylon 5

Stargate SG-1 (and all the spin-offs)

To further complicate the issue, because I have been using Netflix so long, I’m pretty well caught up on all the shows from the 70’s to the 00’s that I wanted to see but hadn’t seen every episode of.  Well, of the ones that are still on Netflix.  We’re currently working our way through the newer edition of “Battlestar Galactica” – but when we finish that, the only things we’ll still be interested in are a few projects that are still ongoing – like the wonderful geek-fest that is “Big Bang Theory”.

Mary Selway – RIP

Mary Selway – – – RIP
I know – the very first thing that crosses each and every one of you people’s thoughts is going to be – “Who the hell is Mary Selway?”

Well, she isn’t a relative of mine. I never even met her. But, never-the-less, she has had a huge impact on my life, and I never knew it was her, until tonight.

How I discovered who Mary Selway was . . .