Things are Getting Silly: Beer Glasses

First, it was Sam Adams with their special pint glass. While it claims to help you better taste their beer, I suspect the real reason for it is to try to please the Sir Chugsalot crowd. There are some people, myself included on occaision, who simply drink beer too quickly. For something like Sam Adams which has enough taste to stand up to careful drinking and enjoyment, this might be something they think people miss. On the other hand, Sam Adams is Sam Adams. It’s not going to change – looking at you Yeungling – so I don’t feel guilty when I drink one quickly. For the crowd that always drinks one quickly, they might be interested in this glass, it might do something for them. On the other hand, glassware does change how a beer presents, and that’s part of the fun. Frankly, I wouldn’t mind having one for the sake of having Option 4 when it comes to glassware. For those wondering what the beer glasses are – the standard pint, the pilsner flute and the snifter are the “standard” glass styles. Little variation exists, although I usually just use a wine glass instead of a snifter. Having some kind of weird combination glass might get more mileage out of a pint, I suppose.

New Belgum decided they wanted to get on the failwagon with their own glassware. This is fine except it’s a snifter. There’s nothing really custom about it. The fact they pitch it as the same thing as the Sam Adams glass is an affront to common sense.

XBOX 360 – Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising Review

HALF out of FIVE stars. Where 5 is good and 1 is “managed to get all the textures right”.

Actually this game would deserve a 2.5 star rating except that the developers have conducted themselves in a completely reprehesible way.

What we were promised: Accurate damage models, simulations of vehicles, simulations of weapons, killer AI and realistic warfare.

What we got: A steaming turd. To aggrevate things, developers wanted to charge for the patch.

The game works well enough as a game until you get good at it and can start pushing it’s boundaries. By that I mean you get good enough at maneuvering that you’re not in fear of doing the wrong thing while orders are coming in over the radio, which often tell you to do something completely different. Case in point, there’s a mission which asks you to storm a beach. Mid storming, you’re told to sweep up the side and eliminate anti-tank teams.

Now this would be all fine and dandy, but one of the games problems is missing sound queues. There’s times where, unless you have captioning turned on, you don’t get the audio for the radio calls and you wouldn’t know you were being given instructions. To add insult to injury, if you storm the antitank crew (or the mortar crew later in the mission) because you discover them before you’re supposed to, the AI isn’t initalized and the opfor will blindly stand around until you kill them all. Kill them you will, they won’t even react when you’re knifing the guy next to them. To really make this aggrevating, the game also scripts Things That Kill You. Getting into a vehicle on a map where there’s an enemy chopper results in instant death – even if you already shot down the chopper.

This really comes to a head later when, during the night raid mission, you’re told you must not be discovered and hold out until the marines execute their distraction. Given the amount of freedom you have in maneuvering and the fact if you go low and slow like you do in Ghost Recon you can avoid discovery indefinitely, I waited a half hour for the marines to distract. Only later did I manage to sneak down to the base and found out the walls of all the buildings were simply props – the player was never intended to enter the base and the walls of the builds would let you (and bullets) pass straight through. Sloppy coding, and more on the point I had to go online and pirate the strategy guide to find out you’re supposed to be discovered. Were I playing it on the hardest difficulty which only shows you your final waypoint, I could have easilly infiltrated the base without being discovered and really been bewildered. As it stood on normal difficulty, one of the waypoints did take you through an enemy bunker which I had opted to simply skirt.

The manual is crap. There’s not a whole lot to say about it except it has a picture of the controller in vehicle context, infantry context, and airborn context in three languages. It doesn’t tell you anything about the weapons. I’m a gun nut and I hadn’t even heard of most of the weapons since you’re playing as SAS or another foreign military for some of the missions. Pirate the game guide since it’s clear they intended you would buy the guide and read that in leiu of the manual. That being said, the vehicle controls are for naught. Unless you’re on a paved road, vehicles which should reasonably be able to drive off road (tanks) get stuck on rocks, bushes, low walls, stumps and other crap. Hitting someone with a car at 60mph is an excersize in hit detection – sometimes you kill them and sometimes they pass clean through. It’s not uncommon to have jeeps, APCs, hummers and similar with their noses pointed at the sky over a rock.

I haven’t said a whole lot about the pros, and frankly I’m hard pressed to come up with any. Sniping works realistically, and all weapons have bullet drop. The zeros aren’t published but I’m thinking they used 100 yards since shooting MPBR causes hits too low. Guns jam realistically, if you’re reloading when you’re laying down or have dirt being kicked up – it’ll jam. The AI does a decent job of keeping itself alive even if it doesn’t always follow your orders. And, it’s awe inspiring to call down artillery strikes on towns. The problem with all this is multiplayer. With only 8 players maximum in an area 230sqkm, they opted to chop the theater of operation down. This is OK, but it’s still too large. What it turns into is “Who can get to the chopper” (and use missiles unopposed since the AA vechicle gets stuck on everything) or “who is a sniper”. One of the outstanding bugs is that the cover draw distance is calculated from you. Zoom in on a player on a hill opposite you and he might see himself in a bush, but there’s no bush drawn making for an easy shot. It’s even easier with guided missiles from the aircraft since they have no cover and you don’t have to aim.

Then there’s also the incredibly frustrating problem that using the medic kit causes the medic to get stuck or fall through the map. There’s several places where this happens when you spawn, but it’s really frustrating when you’re the medic and performing your job causes you to die. Enough said.

So when’s the patch come out? Well, the game only ships with three maps for deathmatch, and the only game modes are single deathmatch (each player gets a squad) and single DM (8 players individually). These numbers are both abysmally small. You can get unlock codes for four more maps, brining the total up to 7. Unlike Gears or Ghost Recon where game modes make up for lack of maps, there’s only two, essencially identical game modes. Code Masters opted to release a network patch so you don’t get dropped from games all the time (sometimes that costs you all your points and achievements), but they said the rest of the fixes would come out with the mappack.

You have to pay money for the mappack, thus you have to pay money for the patch.

I don’t really know what codemasters was thinking – anyone who buys the game used won’t get the maps, and there’s plenty of people who are going to be buying this turd used. Maybe they get a kickback from gamestop. I’m trading it in while I can still get $25 for it and buying Modern Warfare 2. Maybe when Battlefield Bad Company 2 comes out (what is with these terrible titles?) we’ll have a half decent total war game.

Amazon Screws Up – Again

This time it’s not wholly their fault, but it did put a damper on thanksgiving. I got a King Kooker as I had posted about before. The King Kooker is nice and it puts out a stupid amount of heat. Heating four gallons of oil takes only a half hour or so and this is running it conservatively. By my guessdimate I could turn it up to jet-engine epic proportions and heat the oil in half the time but there’s a very real possibility of both boiling and burning the oil. Both of these situaitons are bad.

Anyway, King Kooker also lets you buy their accessories. I wasn’t really interested in the entire lobster steaming kit, but I was interested in a fry-basket. The turkey fryer only comes with the turkey tree and it’s priced about the same. The fry basket lets you do boils and… frying things which don’t fit on the turkey tree. Like potatoes. So it’s pretty important. I got mine from UPS last night and of course it showed up and looked like the truck ran over it. Protip – it’s pretty impressive you can crush a metal drum in shipping and not notice it. Anyway, Amazon’s return policy is that if you return an item before the price changes, you can get an exchange. If the price changes (and if you know about Amazon, this happens daily) then you have to take a refund of whatever amount you paid. The nice part – they do UPS pickups. I don’t have to pay to return it. Sadly I’m out the fry basket this thanksgiving but something tells me with this many people coming it won’t matter.

Turkey Fryer

For my birthday and Christmas, people usually give me gift cards to either Cabelas or Northern Brewer. In the spirit of “people have to come to my house because I’ve got a baby”, I bought a turkey fryer with the gift cards this year. I ended up paying only $22 (I had the oil and needed to get propane anyway). But, oh god, the turkey was good. Last night we had a test run of the thing to see how well we did and my folks brought over a turkey. If you’re wondering, it’s a King Kooker. Not the huge one, but the smaller one up to 18lbs turkeys. Reason being that most turkeys at the store are less than 16 lbs so there’s quite a bit of extra room.

The process is dead simple – thaw turkey, bring heat up to 350F, toss turkey in, cook for 3.5 minutes per pound. This actually results in the bird being slightly overdone, so if you want less crispy turkey, knock off a few minutes.

King Kooker also has the Right Stuff for BTUs (plenty) and their kits all have parts you can buy online. So the turkey fryer kit can convert to the steamer kit and can convert to the fry basket kit all by purchasing all their optional accessories. But the most importantly the burner puts out 60k BTUs and the stand will accept my brew pot for boiling beer.

And the turkeys?

This was the first time we’ve ever had turkey in my family and there weren’t a ton of leftovers no-one wanted to eat in the fridge.

hh, too many forks, PIDs got reused, we’re confused

I’m not entirely sure I’m in love with EXT4. I’ve installed OpenSuSE 11.2 on my laptop (64bit, SMP) and I said “WOW EXT4 IS OUT LETS USE BLEEDING EDGE FILESYSTEMS WHAT COULD POSSIBLE GO WRONG?”

Everything.

This laptop has a slow, slow harddrive, so I figured any filesystem doing bleeding edge fast stuff might help. My previous favorite was XFS which I’ve had nothing but fantastic luck with. EXT3 was also nice on the servers and was bulletproof, although noticeably slower than XFS. EXT4 is fine until you put the filesystem under load. It’s blazing fast until it runs out of cache, and then you’re screwed hard waiting for it to catch up. In my case I managed to blow it by coping my documents directory I backed up to my other PC back to my laptop (about 6GB worth of crap) while running X, firefox and setting up YAST update sources. I thought things were going way too well when we hit the commit wall. The drive was on solid, and I could move the mouse. Clicking on things resulted in the drive chugging for a bit and then slowly starting the animation. Nothing ever launched. Eventually I couldn’t even kill X. I ended up pulling the plug.

The good news is that it recovers gracefully from a crash. The dreaded “empty file” error didn’t happen to me, but I’m marginally pissed the filesystem will let you outrun it catastrophically. That being said, when I restarted the SCP, I got the cryptic error: hh, too many forks, PIDs got reused, we’re confused…

Happy 0th Birthday Alex!

Well I haven’t been blogging because… I haven’t been at work or really interacting with anyone. In fact I’ve been spending almost all my time looking after Kelly and Alex because Alex came almost three weeks early. Although he’s healthy, we ended up doing an emergency C section at Phoenixville Hospital.

Needless to say, don’t go to Phoenixville if you have a choice. I know medical stuff isn’t an exact science for things like epidorals and whatnot, and they did take good care of my grandmother. However their birthplace is nothing short of terrible. The anesthesiologist had the gall to answer his personal cellphone and leave for three hours while “the drugs worked”. In total they tried three times to get the epi right and failed it quite badly. Dr Brown also seemed to be clueless and generally unconcerned, which is bad when you’re the only people in the unit. Dr Cadajew was quite nice. The nurse staff was terrible and ended up in an argument about how the interuterine contraction machine worked. PROTIP – Press “ZERO” when she’s at the low side of her contraction. How fucking hard is it? Kelly defended them saying it’s not an exact science, but my opinion is that it doesn’t need to be, it just needs to work. And they weren’t working.

That being said the hospital itself generally is nice and the PennCare for Kids has Dr Kline who is also extremely nice and knowledgeable. Anyone who laughs at “shitpiss” for “diaper status” has my business. Anesthesiologist is some foreign piece of trash, Dr Brown did nothing to impress me nor her dyke nurse (also black). Deliver somewhere else, but do check out their Penn Care for Kids if you live in the area.

baby boy

There's Alex, born 27 OCT 2009