Risen: Spiritual successor to Gothic 3

Title Risen
Developer Piranha Bytes
Type RPG
Platform(s) XBox 360, PC (reviewed on PC)
Kelly Score ™ 75 / 100

Risen is an old-school role playing game that does very little to make itself appealing to the more “casual” gamer. In terms of overall characteristics, Risen is similar to games like Oblivion- but whereas Oblivion tries to make it easy to progress and overcome your mistakes, Risen makes no such allowances. Interestingly enough, although I generally like “easier” games, I’m actually really enjoying Risen… on the PC. From what I’ve seen and heard, the XBox version should be avoided.
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I will be buying an iPad… but why?

Apple ended months (for some people years) of speculation today by finally announcing the upcoming release of a tablet computer, the iPad. Like pretty much everything Apple releases, there is an overwhelming amount of hype surrounding the device, and many “true believers” are disappointed by what the device offers.

Even so, I plan on buying one when it becomes available. I thought it would be appropriate to explain my rational on the theory that my friends and family may doubt my sanity more than usual as a result.


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Bayonetta: Everything that is wrong with this type of game

Title Bayonetta
Developer Platinum Games
Type Action/Fighting
Platform(s) XBox360, PS3
Kelly Score ™ 40 / 100

Action games are a genre that I really didn’t understand until I played Bayonetta. I could therefore say that the $60 I spent on this game was educational: I have been taught that I should not buy this kind of game. The kindest things I can really say about Bayonetta from my perspective are that the graphics are impressive, and the main character has one of the finest digital rumps in computer history.


If you generally agree with everything I say, you have no need to read further.

Continue reading Bayonetta: Everything that is wrong with this type of game

DARPA worried there aren’t enough young geeks…

The U.S. Defence advanced research guys are worried that not enough young Americans are pursuing the sciences or engineering. They are looking for ways to encourage more young people to pursue degrees in these areas.

There is a problem here, and I can tell you exactly what it is. For years, the largest American employers of scientists and engineers have been pursuing a policy that clearly identifies technical skills as pure commodities. As commodities, they are trying to fill positions in these areas with the cheapest resources possible: that is, they are finding their geeks and scientists in India, China, Russia, and Brazil. The basic premise: they can get four or five guys with science degrees “over there” for the price of one in North America.

The big U.S. companies been doing this for a decade. The numbers are staggering: millions of technical jobs have gone “off shore” since the late 90’s. North American technologists wanting a continued career are increasingly being forced to lead a team, manage projects, provide “business analysis” services, or consult. None of these roles really require a technical degree, and they certainly don’t emphasize geek skills.

As a young person just going in to university/college, it isn’t very hard to see the trends. If you want a job in North America, you want business skills: a B.Comm, an MBA, or similar. Oh sure, you might pick up a science degree as well, but you’d be best off eliminating any geek-like tendencies from your personality early on. If you truly like programming, there is some hungry guy in China with a PhD who’ll do it for what would be starvation wages here: and the vast majority of Canadian and U.S. companies are more than willing to hire him rather than you.

The long term result of this “offshoring” of originality and creativity is, to me at least, obvious. In several decades, the United States will no longer be a significant innovator, creator or manufacturer. All of the skills necessary to do these things will exist somewhere else. The U.S. will be a nation of managers, with no one to manage: and I’m pretty sure that the Chinese and Indians can figure out how to manage people pretty well.

I hope I’m wrong. But my guess is that the trend is irreversible- as long as sending skilled technical work elsewhere is cheaper, companies will continue doing it regardless of the consequences. The one hopeful factor is that salaries in “developing” nations are gradually catching up. Maybe it will become less appealing to send a job overseas when it costs nearly as much as it does here. Time will tell…

Tracking my calories…

I sort of stumbled into a diet and exercise website called LiveStrong the other day. I was looking for a way to test out the BlackBerry App World, which had been giving me trouble, and decided to download the LiveStrong BlackBerry app which works with the website itself. It all looked pretty good, and reasonably legit: the company is now owned by a former founder of MySpace, and is associated with Lance Armstrong, the professional cyclist. The next thing I knew I was tracking the calories and nutrients in my food, and I was putting my weight loss goal at the top of my website. I’m talking about this thing:

Continue reading Tracking my calories…