03 February 2014

(Not So) Frequently Asked Questions

After trying (and failing) to write the first article for SoccerDog a couple of times. I decided I better explain what the site's all about.

But bear with me cause as we all know, first posts always suck.

"What's this site about?"

I wanted to start SoccerDog to explain soccer to those who are new to the game. I'm not great at analyzing strategy, but if you need to know how the amount of spots doled out for Champions League is decided I'm your man. So I figured I'd focus on explaining the weirder points of the game to the new fans, because I haven't seen a site dedicated to that yet, and it would have helped when I was learning about soccer.

I'm sure another question I'll get is "Why SoccerDog?"

 I would assume the hypothetical people are asking Why not FootballDog? The reason for this is SoccerDog sounds better, and that the British invented both terms, and only started complaining about soccer being used when the NFL started getting popular. On this blog World Football will be refered to as Soccer, and American Football will be called Gridiron. Once they learn to share maybe we'll start using the other terms.

"No, why SoccerDog?" 

Oh! Because we already had a great mascot, and it seemed like such a waste not to use the name.

We'll put up a proper FAQ page once real people start asking questions. But for now I hope you enjoy the blog, and hopefully I'll make this strange amazing game, a little easier to understand.

11 June 2013

Kspaz Kuick Look

I think it's a buddy cop/road trip game. 
A couple things out of the way. Sorry for the lack of updates, I'm working some odd hours at my job, and my wife and I are looking for a new apartment, so I've been having trouble finding time to write.

Next from E3 Nintendo announced a new Smash Bros. game both for the DS and the Wii U. The link will take you to the official site with videos of the new character and some cool art. I don't want to buy another console but the idea of having Mega Man in Smash Bros makes me at least question it.

EA announced Mirror's Edge 2, with a short video. Didn't realize it had been nearly 5 years since the first one.

The 3rd Skylanders game will swap players and be available on 7 systems. Haven't really played the 2nd one much, so probably won't worry about this, but I bet there will be a bunch of these on eBay come Christmastime.

Also an X-Com prequel game. And a new Killer Instinct. What just happened? Did I do the time warp? Is it the 90's again?
Pick your poison.

Stranger sent me this video on Facebook...I like big mechs, and I cannot lie.

PlayStation and X-box released some more info, but someone else will be handling that can of worms.

Those are what caught my eye although I saw several I didn't know the name of, but looked interesting. So what caught your eye from E3, and are you going toward one console, or are you a PC gamer?

29 May 2013

Wait...it's Wednesday?...crap, crap, crap.

My reaction when I realized it wasn't Monday. 
So my wife and I took a vacation over Memorial Day weekend. And then we took Tuesday off, I got sick, and long story short. I forgot it was already Wednesday and time to write a weekly post.

Should I post about how there was trouble in Toontown (this time not involving Christopher Llyod*)? No.

Could I post about Miss Nerd America? I could but everything is pretty much there on the site.

Or about how you can buy a wallet made from the foreskin of a whale. No, but I do wonder if these are God's chosen whales.

Hmm...I'll tell you what I'll be back with a better story later this week.

*Spoilers: But the statute of whining about it has run out! Seriously the  25th anniversary is June 21st.

23 May 2013

Calling all Geeks

Find yourself...with Geek Streak, and this handy poster.
Thanks to the Geeks who Read and the internet in general, we recently had our 60,000th page view. We also have had a fairly successful first month back, despite not posting any where near what we used to.

And that's why I'm here today. Geek Streak is looking for a few geeky individuals who would be interested in writing articles for our site. If you're interested in something geeky and want to write about it, contact us.

You can email me at Kspaz13 at gmail dot com.
Hope to hear from you soon.

22 May 2013

Here's an Idea...

The face of Idea Channel (center) and his
co-hosts Philosophy (left) and Economics (right).
If the title for this post makes you think of the guy on the right. Then you probably already know about PBS Idea Channel.

If not...well, Idea Channel is a YouTube series where the host discusses such seemly bizarre topics as What do Santa Clause and professional wrestling have in common? Is Buying Call of Duty a Moral Choise? And Is Futurama the Best Argument Against Transhumanism?

Friends and family will probably not be surprised that I love this show. I love a great discussion, especially when it with two ideas so far removed as the WWE and Old Saint Nick.

17 May 2013

The Googlephone

It's hard to remember when my old
phone looked this new.
Thanks to our old cell phone carrier leaving the greater St. Louis area. My wife and I were soon going to be without working cell phones. We finally selected a carrier and were all set to go and get Galaxy S-3's to be our next phones, because our S-1's* that we had had for a year and a half, had been pretty reliable and good for a first smartphone.

We never got the S-3's. Why? Because of the Nexus 4.

One of our up coming posters, said I should do a review about my new phone now, and then follow up in a few months when the shininess has worn off. So here are my (mostly) positives and (some) negatives about the Nexus 4.
The Galaxy S-3 the phone I
thought I wanted.

The Good:
- Amazing screen and resolution
- Bigger screen, yet still fits in my pants pocket comfortably.
- Cheaper then the Samsung Galaxy S-3.
- Supposedly will get update to Android as they come out.
- Super fast
- Almost no bloatware.
- Amazing 8MP camera (with built in panoramic mode).

The Bad:
- No slot for micro SD card.
- Battery is built in. (This has always been a sticking point with me and the iPhones)
- Vibrate function is weak (as in I don't always feel it buzz).
- Word online is that this phone maybe fragile, even for a smartphone.
A new challenger has appeared!

The Ugly The Weird:
- Seems to be no option to turn up Vibration strength.
- Seems to be more finicky about transferring files via USB (I transferred over my photos from my old phone,    and they aren't showing up in my gallery.)
- Had to download some apps just to get the option of opening files that my old phone had no problem with.
- I seriously doubt it has an 18 hour battery life (that the salesmen promised) just based on my first week of usage.
- Almost everything that comes pre-loaded is a Google app. If your not a Google fan this is not the phone for you.

All in all though, this is how I feel about it.
Now I would suggest you take this review with a grain (...or more) of salt. Statements like super fast should be tempered with the fact that I was using a hobbled phone for the last 3-6 months while I waited to replace my old one.

Also comments on screen resolution and amazing camera, keep in mind my previous phone came out in October of 2010. So I have a feeling anything we would have bought would have been breathtaking.

Not to mention how many of The Weird section will disappear if I suddenly find the way to fix these problems.

All in all I feel like I got a good phone for a great price, but isn't every piece of tech new and exciting for the first couple of months? Or will I still be happy after the honeymoon? Keep your eyes peeled for part 2 of the Nexus review.

*The S-1 came out in Oct 2010. So you can tell how cutting edge we are, we bought phones which were around 2 years old.

14 May 2013

Ginger, on The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

A beautiful cover to be sure.
Title: The Time Traveler's Wife
Author: Audrey Niffenegger

Publisher: MacAdam/Cage
Published: 2003
Format: Paperback
                              Grade: A 

Amazon Description: 
A dazzling novel in the most nontraditional fashion, this is the remarkable story of Henry DeTamble, a dashing, adventuresome librarian who travels involuntarily through time, and Clare Abshire, an artist whose life takes a natural sequential course. Henry and Clare's passionate love affair endures across a sea of time and captures the two lovers in an impossibly romantic trap, and it is Audrey Niffenegger's cinematic storytelling that makes the novel's unconventional chronology so vibrantly triumphant.

An enchanting debut and a spellbinding tale of fate and belief in the bonds of love, The Time Traveler's Wife is destined to captivate readers for years to come.

My Review: 

Never before have I had such a personal love/hate relationship with an author. Niffenegger is
Audrey Niffenegger, author
brilliant, and I have great respect for her as a writer. So far I have read two of her works - The Time Traveler's Wife and Her Fearful Symmetry
(might be reviewed at a later date) - both of which are written superbly. Her style is mesmerizing - beautiful and harsh all at once with no apologies.

Her writing itself is so extremely realistic - She crafts characters so incredibly human in their faults and merits that they feel like people you could know in real life. Not necessarily someone you would be close to, like a friend, but but someone you know in passing and only think of rarely. And this distance gives these characters a certain credibility - the detachment lending a certain amount of realism to their make believe lives. It's because you don't know them - can't know them - inside and out that they feel much more realistic in relation to yourself. It's the closest any author has come to making a character a person. Also, Hiffenegger's ability to write scenes and settings is seldom surpassed. Each character deals with real life problems that are obviously carefully selected and tailored to that character, and the interactions dealing with those issues just add to your belief in their personal world.

All you need is love. Right?
Now, as far as this book in particular - I actually have read it twice, and had two completely different reactions to it. The frist time I read this book, I loved it. I completely sided with the over all love story and the idea that love can surpass all obstacles. Part of this reaction I believe has a lot to do with the stage my life was in when I read it. I actually had just recently started dating my boyfriend (now husband) and we read the book together - it's one of his favorites. So, I was already inclined to like the book because it had a love story and being an 18 year old girl, I wanted to believe in happy (though heart wrenching) endings and forever love. I think the easiest part of the story for me to connect to was Henry's need for Claire - he had to have her in his life or that life, as he knew it, would fall apart. I think that sort of obsession is easily to label as love when you are that young, and therefore have fewer experiances to relate to.

A life full of sadness is no life at all.
The second time I read this book was later in my life, around the age of 25 - after I was married for a few years and I read it on my own rather than with my husband again. The second time through I identified so strongly with Clarie - or at least the idea of Claire - that the story almost read like a horror novel. I'm not sure if it was that fact that I remembered some of what was going to happen to her, or my connection of actually being a wife now myself, but all I could think of was Claire and how she was always - ALWAYS - just waiting for the other shoe to drop. That's a horrible way to live your life and I personally could not come to terms with a love story where the other person (in this case, Henry) would expect and actually want the person they love to live that way. It was so heartbreaking - I can't remember the last time a book made me cry so much. Except for maybe the first time I read it with my husband - but of course the tears were for entirely different reasons.

Bottom line - would I recommend this book to someone else? Absolutely. But I would make damn sure the person I recommend this to is capable of dealing with whatever feelings this book might bestow upon them. And who knows - maybe I will pick this up again later in life when I don't feel like so much can be lost with each turn of the page.

Have you read this book? If so, what was your reaction? Let me know in the comments below! :)

07 May 2013

A Girl and her Eldritch Horrors

See cute and gruesome are not mutually exclusive.
So for the last couple months I've been trying to tell everyone I know who is into video gaming to check out one particular game.

They Bleed Pixels.

It's hard to explain this game though. At the same times it's gruesome and cute, frustrating and fun, colorful and dark (both in story and art).

This game is the story of an unnamed girl who while at a Victorian home for troubled girls picks up a bleeding book that slowly changes her into a clawed and purple skinned monstrosity little girl.

She's then plunged into dreams where she has to battle creatures and survive traps and terrain of blades and spikes.

Every review says this game is like Super Meat Boy but with a fighting element, which is fair. However I never enjoyed Super Meat Boy the way I have They Bleed Pixels. I know I'm speaking blasphemy. Bear with me.

You got to admit she seems to be taking it well.
The art while simple is perfectly suited to this game nothing distracts from where your focus should be. ON SURVIVAL. The music is catchy and the backgrounds really do look like they are not of Earth, yet none of these elements distracts your focus.

The one-button combat takes a while to get used to, but really is all you need for any situation. Figuring out how is the fun part.

Be warned however because this game is quite the taskmaster. I can't recall how many times I thought well that's as far as I'm going to be able to make it, so I'd focus on achievements in the first couple stages and come back to my problems spot later. Low and behold suddenly I was better and could get to the next area. I could advance! Even if it was at a snail's pace.

Every time I thought I was stuck this pattern would happen. Currently I have beaten the game, and the bonus levels and have 111 of the 126 achievements.

One review said "They Bleed Pixels will make you feel like a magician with a gamepad." Factual statement, rarely have felt more accomplishment about a video game.

While the difficulty is fiendish, the save system keeps you from losing all your sanity. Being able to plop down a save point (after killing a couple enemies or collecting enough blood droplets) means that one only needs to get a little bit further to advance. This system reduces, (but doesn't eliminate) getting stuck and killed at the same area over and over again. Plus the game teaches you which areas make for better save points when you revisit a stage later.

I picked up this game for $3.39 after Christmas, it usually is $10. If you like crazy platformers don't wait pick this game up. You can wait for a sale but I've put 60 hours on this game since Christmas. I'm not sure if I'll get those last 15 achievements but we'll see...how long my patience holds out. If your not sure, then wait for the sale, or put it on your wishlist. This game is not for everyone but it something everyone should try at least once.
This room will haunt your dreams.   

Also one piece of spoiler-y advice. DON'T show your significant other the last stage's cinematic. *SPOILER* My wife saw all the other little monster girls and has been bothering me that I need to save them. So if your reading this Spooky Squid Games, I need a DLC to save the other girls my wife demands it, and honestly I just want some more levels.

Update: I'm now up to 122/126 on achievements. 

01 May 2013

It's gonna be The Future soon.

So if you've been around the internet you've probably seen  Everything is amazing and nobody is happy by Louis CK (skip to 2:15 for the relevant part although it's all pretty awesome), and Explaining cell phones to the 1950's.
Not to mention the Cubs victory in 2015.

Forget the 1950's, try explaining Netflix to the 1980's.

Kspaz 2013: I have a Blockbuster inside of my computer that can show movies on my television (without a cord), and they never are out of stock. I pay $7 a month and I can watch as many movies as I want.

Kspaz 1989: *mouth agape*

You know what the biggest gripe I hear about Netflix? Lack of selection. What these people probably mean is one specific movie that they want to watch isn't on there right now. First world problems.

I can watch television from other countries for free. I wish I had had this technology when I had been studying foreign languages.

I can keep in touch with friends no matter how far away they move. Literally, if you had a friend on the International Space Station you can Skype or Facebook them. Short of the moon, nobody has gotten further away then that. Well, unless you're friends with the Mars Rovers.

I can buy really amazing video games for 1/5 to 1/10 of the price new games used to cost. Plus the developers build extra content that's either free or less then dollar. I can't remember the last time I bought a game for over $20.
Strange things are a foot. Not just at Circle K. 

We have the entirety of human knowledge in our pockets. And yes we use them to look at cat pictures and argue with people.

Don't look now people, but the future is here. The fact that we aren't constantly amazed by the technology that surrounds us...well amazes me.

Updated: Fixed typos that my wife pointed out

25 March 2013

We're Getting the Blog Back Together

Not exactly a mission from god. 
So no change on the job front which was my reasoning for not blogging anymore, but I missed it.

So I'm back from my self exile. Some of the others and I have lined up some interesting things and they'll be coming soon.

Thanks for your patience. See you soon.