Life marches on…

I remember spending a couple of summers on my Uncle George and Aunt Yvonne’s farm when I was about eight or ten years old. Two of my Uncles, George and Charlie Gillies, and my Grandma lived near Big Beaver, Saskatchewan. The family farm, split between the two brothers, had grown to several thousand acres from Grandpa’s original homestead. It sat on the American boarder…as I recall, the big “excitement” was going across the border to Scobey, Montana, to use their swimming pool or shop in the American stores.

Continue reading Life marches on…

Merry Christmas!

Irene and I opened our gifts a couple of hours ago. We both received lots of wonderful things, but most of all we got the best gift of all: each other.

Each year at Christmas time I like to take a moment to reflect upon everyone who is not so fortunate, or who as I often do lacks the will to see their good fortune for what it is. I’m so very lucky. I’m basically healthy, as is everyone in my immediate circle of friends and family. We have enough for essentials plus a great deal of non-essentials.

Continue reading Merry Christmas!

Crysis: a First Person Shooter as it should be done

Title Crysis
Developer Crytek
Type First Person Shooter
Platform(s) Windows XP/Vista
Kelly Score ™ 95

I bought Halo 3 on my XBox 360 shortly after it came out. I didn’t expect much from it- and that’s what I got. The Halo franchise is good, but has never really “wow”ed me.

At its root, I’d say the problem is partly a matter of the story as presented in the game coming across as “weak”, and partly the visual perspective the game plays from. I understand the back story behind the games is very detailed and rich…but the game doesn’t convey that well to me. As for the perspective: they seem to consistently do something with Halo that combines to irritate me (“an endless stream of passages, all alike…”) and give me motion sickness. First person plus acres of similar looking views equals nausea for me. Add these considerations to the fact that I made a mistake and played 9/10ths of the game on “easy” before discovering that you have to play on “normal” to get any achievements…the thought of playing the game through again made me put the DVD away.

Along comes Crysis. This game is as “different” as Far Cry was a few years ago, and that’s not too surprising I guess as both games were developed by Crytek. Note that Far Cry 2 was *not* developed by Crytek, so who knows what that will be like.

Moving back to the topic…Crysis has the bog-standard first person shooter plot. A super-soldier is part of a squad tasked with investigating some strange happenings on an island near China. The cause turns out to be some sort of alien invasion- much gunfire ensues. What makes Crysis “better” than the standard fare has more to do with how the story is presented, how the player is allowed to interact with the world, and how natural the whole process feels.

Continue reading Crysis: a First Person Shooter as it should be done

I like boxen…so why are hard drive enclosures so bad?

If there is one thing that can make me giddy when I’m working on a computer upgrade project, it is a well-designed case or chassis. Well-designed means:

  • the pieces slot together with minimal effort
  • I can open the box without special tools or fiddly screws
  • the edges and corners are nicely turned with no sharp edges
  • the paint/finish is clean, smooth, and elegant
  • there is more than adequate room for all the necessary cables
  • all marks/writing/labels are clear and easily read during assembly and future disassembly
  • the chassis as a whole feels massively solid and robust: no wobbles, no crappy plastic-y bits
  • lots of spare parts and cables included
  • good cooling/heat management design, with space for additional/optional fans where appropriate

My favorite case manufacturer to date has been Antec. Their cases generally meet or exceed all the items on my list of requirements. My most recent full computer chassis from them was the P180: it’s a fantastic case, and I’m very happy with it.

Choosing a hard drive enclosure early this year seemed like a no brainer since I like Antec cases so much. I bought Antec’s MX-1 “actively cooled” enclosure. It looked like typical Antec: well made, easy to open, all screws easily accessible and nicely sized, with excellent cooling. Unfortunately, after just a bit over six months of use it died…rather completely. And finding a replacement wasn’t a picnic…

Continue reading I like boxen…so why are hard drive enclosures so bad?