Last Christmas I asked for a pair of aviators. Cheap ones, just so I could see if I liked them enough. I’ve never been a sunglasses person, but I’ve always found aviators appealing since my Fallout: New Vegas days. I can’t really explain exactly why I like them, except they’re big and classical looking1. I wasn’t sure about them at first on the drive to the family Christmas party. Everything just seemed too dark.
Further proof that I’m getting closer and closer to proper adulting is the fact I have now started using the excellent Todoist to keep track of what I need to do. I thought using my phones calendar was worse enough, but this really tips it. I now on my first steps to being a professional adulterer1.
As to why I stared using Todoist, it wasn’t out of a matter of necessity but rather an act of design. A week or so before Christmas I was awake redesigning my phone home screen2, and to get inspiration for what my home screen might look like going into 2017 I was looking at what other techbloggers I admire had for theirs.
Most of them had a todo app of some kind on their home screen. Which made sense. Most of them were men in their 30’s and 40’s, they needed to remember what things they had to do. But myself, a young virile man wouldn’t dare think of that… Except I had used my phones calendar increasingly often to remember basic stuff that I needed to do. So I cleared some space on my phone and downloaded the first todo app I found for Android, Todoist. I spent the rest of the night installing Todoist on every device I owned to get an idea on how to use it3.
I started off rather foolishly just setting myself a bunch of daily recurring tasks… completely ignoring the fact that I don’t work that way. If I have to set myself a reminder to do it everyday, I’m probably not as committed enough to do it, even with reminders. Now, I’ve started adding reminders as I need to remember them. For example, remember to finally write about Todoist so you can add to the millions of voices also cheering about Todoist. Or that I need to install a useful extension for this site. Stuff I actually need to remember to do, not stuff I should already remember to do.
The design of the app is appealing and usable without any manuals, a clear sign of good design. I can see why Khoi Vinh loves the app so much, not only is it good but it’s design is flawless.
So far it has been a good app to me. I just wish I could bloody tell the app my day usually ends at 4am.
CD Projekt Red, the developer of The Witcher game series, has reached triple-A status, to become the industry leader in creating RPG video games, largely due to the success of The Witcher 3 Wild Hunt, the latest game in the series and in my opinion one of the best games every made.
Like any good large scale RPG, The Witcher 3 hosts a hefty amount of content and character, such as a playable card minigame within the main game itself, called Gwent. Gwent closely resembles a simplified version of other collectable card games such as Magic The Gathering or Hearthstone (http://us.battle.net/hearthstone/en/) and in many cases players find themselves playing the minigame much more than the epic tale of Geralt Of F####ing Rivia.
Gwent has become a fan favourite among the Witcher community and ever since the Witcher 3’s release the internet has blown up with a s### tonne of tweets, Facebook/Reddit posts, discussions and articles regarding it, including this one. One creative fan even made a mod that converts the Witcher 3‘s combat completely into Gwent: (http://www.nexusmods.com/witcher3/mods/953/?). It seems that everyone wants a Gwent standalone game. So what did CD Projekt Red do? They listened, officially unveiling Gwent: The Witcher Card Game, at the 2016 E3 game expo.
CD Projekt Red isn`t just creating a simple adaptation for some quick cash either, the game, in my opinion, looks to be born of passion and ambition from the studio to wade into the rising waters of the world of simulated card games. Despite the mild oversaturation of the genre, Gwent still feels special from the rest. To think it was initially developed to serve as a minigame within The Witcher 3 and has now garnered so much support to prompt the creation of a standalone is amazing to me.
To break it down for those that don`t, Gwent involves a battlefield with three different levels: infantry, ranged, and artillery. Each card has a numbered value and can be placed in one of the said levels. Rounds end when both players pass a turn and the player with the highest number at the end of each round wins it. Best of three takes home the win.
It’s a quick and fun, yet simple game. While other games in the genre emphasis well thought out and strategized card-based moves, Gwent promotes trickery and feints. You enter a tavern, take a seat and get to playing. When you really should be killing that drowner bounty you got off the last village`s notice board. Hmmm, I wonder how I can f### with this guy enough to make him use all his best cards quickly….should I lose the first round on purpose to make him vulnerable later on…maybe…maybe. These are the thoughts that go through your head as you play this game within a game. All the while listening to the excellent musical score of the Witcher 3 and its fun as hell.
With the standalone release, comes more features and increased depth. With a larger card selection and more focus on how the game’s different card factions will play distinctively different from one another. This is not the simple minigame within the Witcher 3 that you or I know. This will be the true Gwent game Witcher fans remember. Fun, Quick, addictive, and much, much deeper.
As of now CD Projekt Red hasn’t announced a release date yet, but we know it’s going to be a free-to-play title with in-game transactions. There is currently a closed beta, which I myself have applied for, find out more here: https://www.playgwent.com/en
Okay, I’m about to tell you something outrageous here, and I want to make sure that you’re going to be alright when I tell you.
Make sure you’re sitting down when you read the paragraph after this. I would not recommend reading this on your phone while walking home from the bus when you live on a busy street and you know you should really be looking where you are going. Grab your cat and pull it over. Make sure you have a firm grip on your cup of coffee. Unless you’re one of those weird people who doesn’t drink coffee. In which case, yuck.
Anyway, for the thingy: Twitter, and its 140 character limit, is actually alright.
It is now three weeks later. I’m being hunted for mass murder just by saying that. Yes, it was a fucking mistake ever typing that. I realise that now.
I’m sitting on my bed, typing this out and waiting for my door to be kicked down by the angry mobs who need to tell me why Twitter needs to expand its character limit to something like 10,000.
I never could really understand why this is a thing that we need to do. Twitter is a microblogging service, and always has been. It’s for content that is more like text messages more than long form blog posts.
Once we remove that we remove part of its appeal because we’re apparently getting shorter attention spans or something like that. But I think this is a load of bull because OH MY GOD LOOK AT THAT SHINY THINY OVER THERE :D!
And there’s another appeal in a tweets shortness. Not just in the fact that your single tweet could somehow hypothetically reach millions of people, but in its limits.
I like to call it writing in tight corners. You can make your own little poetry and cut down the words to only what you need. For example:
If a character’s true form is an amorphous and shapeless black shadowy blob thingy can I consider the thing a waifu?
Can be cut down to:
If a character’s true form is a shapeless black shadowy blob can it still be considered a waifu?
The second one is more succinct than the first one. It gets the point across all the same.
Or I don’t know, maybe I’m wrong and it will bomb spectacularly unless it improves, and we’ll all move to something like app.net or our own microblogging service that we make on our good old fashioned blogs.
I’ll check back in another ten years and see how it’s going.
After a conversation with Wayne, I am now playing Shadowrun: Dragonfall after nearly a year of owning it on Steam but never playing it. I bought the original Shadowrun Returns on Steam nearly three years ago now, and I loved the hell out of it. It was a cool blend of gritty futurism, sci-fi and fantasy that instantly drew me in, and I finished it quickly.
I’ve written before how I don’t really play games anymore, but Dragonfall has drawn me in for a couple of reasons. When I view any text, I have a descending order of the things that are important to me: Narrative ➡ Characters ➡ Action. Dragonfall excels at the first two more than the original did1, while still maintaining the tight, fun turn-based RPG combat system, but another thing it also does well is little details in the environment.
In the original Returns2 your in between missions haunt was a bar that doubled as a Shadowrunner base. It was fun and interesting, but at the end of the day, that’s all there was to it. There was no exploring or anything that made the world outside the bar, aside from the missions, seem real.
Meanwhile, in Dragonfall you can move around outside your main base, a renovated shop into a small part of Berlin, now known as the Flux State. And this is what I love mostly about Dragonfall as opposed to the original, this little corner of Berlin makes the game feel much more alive and real that Returns did. In between missions you can talk to the people in your team, and regular people on the street. Slowly you learn more about these people and their background, their desires and their goals.
Or, you can go to the coffee shop and order coffee.
It has no purpose. You lose 5 Nuyen (The currency) for buying some Soykaf, and then that’s it. There is no stat advantage on the next missions, you don’t get a caffeine hit or anything useful, you can just buy coffee.
On the bottom left corner of the map, you can tip a dancer who is always there. There is no reason to tip this dancer, but I do every damn time I’m in Berlin. Just because.
And you get a dog. Why do you get a dog? Because dog. If you talk to this dog it will follow it around. For the post part, it is simply following you around because dog.
Of course, useless additions? You could argue that. But also in maps, on missions there are useless little rooms, like this one:
This mission takes place in an orphanage, but of course being Shadowrun this is not a nice place, however soothing the music may be. There is a bathroom, and there is nothing in this bathroom, except it builds the world. The area is not to fight in. It is simply an area to add to the overall detail of the game.
And I love it for it.
To follow-up what I just wrote about, can we talk about how weirdly good baths are? I’ve only just started having them again after six years of avoiding them like the plague1 and the first thing I notice is how weird they are, but also relaxing.
After six years, you get used to the feel of scalding hot water rushing down your back and over your shoulders, before being replaced with new water. The constant stinging pressure is a reminder that you are being cleaned, there is no time to relax and you should get out as soon as you are clean.
But there’s none of that with a bath. Once you are in the scalding the scalding remains. It is hot and stagnant, with whatever bubbly stuff you used to get the required bubbles2 somehow mysteriously moving into a place which makes the scene as PG as possible for when anyone for some reason decides to walk in.
And it somehow is relaxing, the constant warm caressing you like a blanket, against the near freezing cold you feel when you remove yourself despite the fact it’s not to cold tonight. And when you get out, you feel even more sleepy and relaxed then when you got in there. You climb into bed, pull your laptop towards you and start writing an article for your blog when there’s more productive things you could be doing.
WHY IS THAT? I’ve only been awake for nine hours at time of writing, but I feel like wrapping myself in a blanket and sleeping for a long time. This is not right. I am a writer. Writer’s do not even consider sleep until they sit on the indefinite hour where you’re not sure whether it’s very late at night or very early in the morning, and shouldn’t wake up until the time period known as the magic hour for photographers has long since past and all traces that there was something other than a giant ball of plasma in the sky have long since retreated.
But instead here I sit, half my body covered by a heavy-ish and very comfortable blanket writing into my blog, looking up and giggling a bit back when the word count was 420 when I last took a glance at it. I also had a coffee when I took the bath, so you would at least think the two would cancel out. But nope, I’m feeling very sleepy, even though I probably won’t actually stop staring at this screen until about 3am.
Writers life yo!
Over at The Verge, Paul Miller wrote a piece I can connect to on a spiritual level, Life in airplane mode.
He chronicles a struggle I know all to well, the struggle of having a phone that is effectively useless without the internet. But really, it’s less of a struggle and more of a lifestyle you accommodate to. When I got my first phone over a decade ago, a Motorola Razr fliphone1, it was a credit phone, and when I got my first smartphone, the iPhone 3GS, it was also a credit phone. Even today I still have credit, and I have no desire to move onto a plan.
But really, I don’t feel as disadvantaged by this as the cliché teenage girls would be. The amount of time I actually spend away from a reliable internet source is marginal on a weekday, less than an hour on a normal day. And what do I do with my phone during periods? I read articles I’ve saved in Instapaper, I write in iA Writer, I edit photo’s in Snapseed. Instead of inanely browsing witty quotes on Twitter, or attention grabbing headlines on Facebook, or looking at quite cool stuff on Reddit, I’m actually doing something productive. Or I might ditch my phone altogether and read a book, or just observe the life going on around me.
The two disadvantages to this lifestyle are, of course, the lack of connection. In the rare times I’m not in range of a reliable internet source, I can’t contact anyone. But this is a minor and obvious point, I’m always at an internet point. The other disadvantage is that I can’t play Fate/Grand Order on the go, one of the few mobile games I play2, as it requires an active internet connection.
But really, the small disadvantages to this is tiny in the overall grand scheme. I’ve had credit plans with insanely large amounts of data and texts on them, but to be honest it’s hardly even an issue for me. When you’re out and about, In between swinging between WiFi spots like a modern hipster Tarzan, you actually do normal stuff. You’re not waiting for an email or a Discord notification. No, you’re simply going about your life like a normal person.
- Which I gave to my Grandad three years ago. He still uses it to this day, barring a brief period in between where he tried to use an iPhone 4S. And god, when I first gave it to him all he would do is play Billiards on it until three in the morning. ↩
- And uh, I’ve also gotten into Pakka Pets lately. Fun game, especially if you never stopped loving Tamagotchi’s like I did. ↩
Jonathan Poritsky, Blocking Ads isn’t Stealing:
Online ads have gotten out of control. They’re heavy, they’re invasive, and they make browsing the web worse. There are many, many outlets that will be crushed when content blocking takes off in a big way. Here’s the thing, though: web advertising is already a shitty bargain for publishers to make.
The reason you see so many ads load at once on so many sites is because they don’t pay very well. Publishers seem to think the answer to diminishing returns on ads is…more ads! I’m no economist but that sounds a lot like publishers are driving down the value of their own content big time. The value of those ads is already approaching zero.
On top of that they’re aggressively user-hostile. They gray out the page or take you to a splash screen. They cover up huge swaths of content or even paper over every image on the page. Worst of all they flip you out from the browser and into the App Store to buy something. And yes I have seen sites load all of these at once. Enough.
My main problem with this is that Jon assumes all ads are evil in their whole, and there are no good ads. There are good ads. The Deck is a service that provides good ads. Carbon provides good ads. Youtube provides good ads, despite what some may think. You either sit through a whole 30-second ad(!) Or you wait until 5 seconds and skip the ad.
On April the 7th ManyATrueNerd, one of my favourite Youtubers, put out a video on about Tidal and advertising on the web. This was before the whole iOS 9 ads blocking scenario.
If you ever watch any of his regular gaming videos, you know that he puts a great amount of passion into the work he creates. On top of this, his work is higher quality than most video’s produced.
From the above video, my favourite quotes is:
“If I every one of my viewers didn’t use ad block, I could feasibly do this as a part-time job.”
This is my main problem with ad blocking, it prevents people with actual talent and skill from gaining revenue from the content they create. For this reason, I personally don’t use any ad blocking software on any of my devices, no matter the website I visit.
Not all web ads are shitty, just like all people aren’t shitty. In everything, there’s The Good, The Bad and the Ugly. It’s just the Bad and Ugly ones that stand out the most.