One Year of WordPress

WordPress tells me its twelve months since I registered this blog. While that’s not the first anniversary of this blog (it started in October the year before) it’s still a milestone.

BBB has seen some changes in that time. From a blog focused on WoW pretty exclusively, it has broadened somewhat with some bike stuff, some home stuff and random other things. It even became a travel blog for three weeks!

WoW has disappeared in that time and the expected rise of MWO didn’t occur. It’s actually turned in to a general gaming blog, covering all sorts of games. I know the change dramatically affected my already small readership. Not sure there is a big blogging community in MWO. Actually I never checked youtube… I still have some faithful readers, and I’m sure there are a few lurkers out there (hi!). I’m glad you find something of interest here :)

Odd things I’ve noticed… my post on the Razer Naga scores a lot of hits through Google searches of Naga reviews. Followed by this post on real life (I think the picture gets the hits actually) and then my car mechanic success story but that’s probably the picture too.

I’ve found a bunch of interesting people out there in the interwebs. I’ve reconnected with an RL friend too. Most of all I’ve found it a nice place to get my thoughts down. So thanks for everyone’s comments and thanks to all the readers out there.

And if Navi comments, I have to respond so I can stay ahead of her in the comment count on my blog than me (wave at Navi!)…. ;-P

Decisions, decisions

Ok, Mrs has obviously been taken away by aliens and replaced by a copy. How do I know this …. it’s pretty simple, she seems to be letting me buy a new motorcycle. Soon… like weeks (not centuries)*

I’m going to post this here, so I can keep it a surprise from most of the guys I ride with, but I’m really excited and have to tell someone. I already have looked through a lot of bikes, and previous posts have discussed some. I test rode a GSXR-600 a couple of months back and enjoyed it, but most of the people I’ve discussed the matter with (in roundabout ways so as not to arouse suspicion) have agreed that the 750 is a better buy, a couple who have the 600 wishing they had the budget to stretch to it. I like the 700-800 capacity after my many years on the VFR800 that I ride.

So a Suzuki GSXR-750 is on the shopping list. And here is your part dear reader… colour choice. First up…. Blue/White, the classic Suzuki sport bike colours.

2013 GSXR750 Blue/White

2013 GSXR750 Blue/White

Or Black, with a tiny bit of grey running through it.

DSC_3237-XL

2013 Suzuki GSXR-750 Black/Grey

(Thanks to this post in the PNW Riders Forum and there are more pictures there if you want to look at different angles before making your choice.)

Okay, it’s probably already decided, but I would love some input from the peanut gallery. Comment on your colour preference.

*okay, so that’s probably pretty unfair to my Mrs. One of her motivations is that she’s worried I’ll have a crash because my bike is old (it’s only 9 this year, its not like its 30!) which is a pretty nonsensical fear, but really sweet.

Riding to Rylstone

Stopped at Grey Gums

My wife has made a couple of new friends over the last couple of months through her gym. Turns out that one of the girls husbands also rides (he has an 03 CBR1100XX). Last week he invited me on a ride this Saturday. The plan was to ride up the Putty to Singleton, then the rough idea was to head west, before coming back over the Blue Mountains to Sydney.

Wife had no objections but I did have a couple of concerns. First up is that the proposed route looked pretty long, like more than 8-10 hours away from home. Second is that I was supposed to be on call at work that weekend. To actually get called out is pretty rare, so I figured I could do part of the ride and then head home. I figured I could head up and back the Putty for a shortish day trip. Killing two birds that would also mean I’d only be away 6 or 8 hours.

I rode to his place where we waited for the third guy to arrive. He turned up on his BMW R1100 and after a dash to the petrol station for a top up and tyre check, it was off to Windsor to start the Putty.

Yesterday was the hottest day on record for Sydney. I think it made over 45C in the city, and parts of the suburbs were almost 47C. Today was not. Overcast and only 20C when we started, the forecast predicted rain later in the west. I gambled and didn’t take any rain gear. I also wore my leathers and not my summer jacket.

The Putty was in good shape and the weather stayed even as we found our way to the Grey Gums about 1000. We stopped here for some breakfast (none of us had eaten before we left). I recommend their pies, the bacon and eggs looked pretty good too.

A bit of a chat watching various bikes come and go, before we set off ourselves. We rode north to Singleton to fuel up before backtracking slightly to turn onto the Golden Highway. This was all new territory to me, the Highway being pretty straight and a little busy. It was warming up now, clear and 30C. I was starting to regret not wearing my summer jacket.

Bylong Valley Way

Bylong Valley Way

We turned left just before Sandy Hollow, towards Bylong and Rylstone. Up to Bylong was okay. The seal had gotten a bit rough and each had unsettled moments on various lumps and bumps along the way, thankfully no one came off. A small shower just before Bylong was a bit worrying as we stopped for a break and to figure out lunch. I was feeling a bit worn out, I think it was mostly dehydration. I drank a bottle of water and munched an ice cream for some quick energy. A sit down (to finally stop the bumping…) helped immensely and we decided to head to Rylstone for lunch, only about half an hour away. More than one choice there.
Stopped at Bylong

Stopped at Bylong

We left Bylong and climbed out of the valley. This was a really nice patch probably the second best part of the ride. Once up top though, the rain arrived. I got wet and the locals (and my mates) had a little laugh when I arrived in Rylstone for lunch, looking a bit damp :)

Lunch at Number 47 Gallery was tasty (we had thought it was a cafe, and it is, but also a Gallery) and the others debated whether to put their wet weather stuff on. I think they were just doing it to tease me :) The rain had lessened a fair bit when we headed off. I wasn’t going to get much wetter, but I wasn’t go to dry out either.

We headed for Lithgow in the rain, taking it easy. In the dry this would have been a swift flowing ride until we hit the busier Castlereagh Hwy. By the time we got to Lithgow it had cooled down to 14C, so we were getting a taste of all kinds of weather on this ride. Now I was happy I had worn my leather

We fuelled up in Lithgow, and said our goodbyes as didn’t plan another stop on our ride down the mountains before we split off to our homes. The ride home was a crawl thorough traffic and roadworks. Made even worse by the fact that the Mountains were in cloud, so a good chunk of the ride was peering through the gloom. At one stage I found a traffic light and realised that I was halfway through Katoomba and hadn’t even noticed I was in a town, the cloud was that thick.

It wasn’t raining though and the road was dry so the riding was okay, just had to watch the visibility. Eventually the hwy turned into the M4 and I was on my way home, arriving a little after 7pm, covering about 600km. I’d been away for 12hours and was expecting to be sleeping on the couch that night.

But no, I wasn’t in trouble as I had been led astray by the other husband. I figure me not in trouble with my wife, him not in trouble with his meant it was all ok.

I spent much of the ride far behind the others as our pace were quite different. If you’re not careful there’s a lot of pressure in this kind of situation to ride faster than you’re are practiced at and get into trouble, something to watch out for. But if you ride your ride (as one said at a stop… race yourself, not us) you will be fine.

I think (and the ride turned out like this) I really enjoy starting of with a “We’ll meet at XXXXXX” and everyone just rides and there’s no pressure to stick in the group. It does mean that if you get into trouble, your friends might not notice as quickly, but with everyone riding their own pace, trouble is less likely. So that’s my plan for the next time I go out in a group.

Sorry for the lack of photos, I didn’t want to hold them up more by stopping for pictures. I do reckon I need to get a GoPro or Drift camera, to show you guys the Aussie roads better. Any suggestions on which might be better? I really like Drift’s Video Tagging option.

Bike wise, I am going to book in for the CCTs to be replaced, at some points the VFR sounded like a Ducati with a dry clutch rattle! The original ones last 50,000km and these have lasted 80,000km so not too bad.

Gizoogle…. (some language may offend)

Here’s something random I found..

Gizoogle.net   A website that among other things, can translate webpages into gangsta speak.  Here’s a sample from the Mechwarrior post I just made..

To mah crazy ass tha game was at its peak just before they removed knockdowns. From dat patch onwardz tha pimpers have steadily added complexitizzle without balizzle n’ have introduced bugs andz instabilitizzles tha fuck into partz of tha game dat was hittin dat shizzle fine. Even bugs dat should done been obvious from even a lil’ small-ass amount of play testin (the screw up wit missile damage when Artemis was introduced fo’ example) before bustin it on tha Beta servers…. one assumes they have they own internal test servers….. assumes…

 

ECM, by all accounts is straight-up messin wit tha game. It didn’t have ta be yo, but they’ve juiced it up a must have fo’ everyone, limitin yo’ mech chizzlez if you wanna have any real chizzle of bustin well up in a match. There is no reliable way fo’ big-ass mechs ta combat lil’ small-ass mechs without knockdowns (in tabletop you could even fall if you turned whilst hustlin, now you won’t fall if a mech charges tha fuck into you). They is havin a shitload of problems wit lag n’ rubber bandin (I remember mah duel wit a light I be thinkin I discussed up in another post).

Use in moderation :)

Mechwarrior

I just received an invite to buy a founders pack for MechWarrior Tactics, the RTS game being developed alongside MWO. I am feeling a little “once bitten, twice shy”, though actually if I add SWTOR it’s more like twice bitten.

MWO, I’ve spent a bit, with the founders pack and the pc upgrades. And I haven’t felt any interest in playing it for some time, several months now. I’ve spoken to colleagues who are still playing and by all accounts it has gotten worse.

To me the game was at its peak just before they removed knockdowns. From that patch onwards the developers have steadily added complexity without balance and have introduced bugs ands instabilities into parts of the game that were working fine. Even bugs that should have been obvious from even a small amount of play testing (the screw up with missile damage when Artemis was introduced for example) before making it on the Beta servers…. one assumes they have their own internal test servers….. assumes…

ECM, by all accounts is really messing with the game. It didn’t have to be, but they’ve made it a must have for everyone, limiting your mech choices if you want to have any real chance of doing well in a match. There is no reliable way for large mechs to combat small mechs without knockdowns (in tabletop you could even fall if you turned whilst running, now you won’t fall if a mech charges into you). They are having a lot of problems with lag and rubber banding (I remember my duel with a light I think I discussed in another post).

The other concern is that some of the “news” on the website suggests that with the timeline they are running it’s about 3-4 months before we have the full Clan invasion. They haven’t even started the metagame part of MWO and they’re about to introduce a whole heap more to this game! That’s surprising a few I’ve been talking to.

The overall feeling is that they are not balancing the game properly, and spending too much time introducing new hardware, without fixing existing game and balance issues. Adding more mechs, when people really want more maps (bigger ones!) and more game types (and the metagame).

So that’s MWO… now I have this invite for the MWT founders. Same deal, instant access to beta, with varying amount of bonuses depending upon your spend. MWT is being published by the same company but it seems to be developed by someone different from MWO.

Honestly, I’m not really positive about it. Anyone else have any thoughts on the games?

A finished game???

Oh, even with all my game playing history, last night I did something that is pretty rare… I actually completed a game! I finished The Walking Dead. I’m still of the opinion that its an interesting game and good to play through. There’s a season 2 coming eventually… and that’ll be high on my shopping list in the future.

But actually getting the whole way through a game is pretty rare for me. In the dozens (its not that high a number even) that I’ve played, I wonder if I could list all the ones I’ve completed…..

  • Wolfenstein 3D – one of the very early FPS, that was so fun, do you know you can get it for the iPhone now. I used to have a separate boot choice in order to get enough RAM to play it!
  • F-19 Stealth Fighter (Microprose) – The sneaky man’s flight simulator.
  • MechWarrior 2, 3 and 4 (and expacs etc)
  • MechCommander 1 (can’t remember if I did finish 2)
  • Tenchu Stealth Assassins (but not 2) - loved the stealthy secret side, 2 had very tricky bosses. Haven’t really found a game that comes close, but love to hear suggestions
  • Colin Mcrae Rally 1 & 2 - before bikes, I loved Rally cars (still do)
  • Tomb Raider (but haven’t finished the rest ever) – bought out of curiousity many years ago and probably my favourite franchise after Battletech
  • Trine
  • Ghost Recon 1 (and Island Storm and Desert Siege) – my favourite FPS, loved playing this co-op. I have started GR2 and recently picked up the latest one, Future Soldier
  • Duke Nukem (Time to Kill)
  • Call of Duty 4
  • The Walking Dead

Now that’s not a long list to cover over 20+ years of gaming, and there’s a bunch of years before that I can’t remember as its too far back (anything before about year 11 I don’t remember) but I don’t think I finished much.

Anyone else have such a small list of completed games? Some people do that many in a few months! What might have happened without 5 years of WoW in there??

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death

I shall fear no evil, for I will destroy them with my plasma sniper rifle….

XCom.

I downed a Battleship class UFO, these are big and the crews are heavy hitters. I’ve been levelling a crew of new troops, trying especially for a new sniper and a new support troop, while I recruit and test looking for psi active troops. This meant I sent a pretty underskilled response team into this UFO.

The biggest problem with the low skilled teams is that even though they are heavily armed and armoured, they miss more often. This is the main reason that as my section of 4 (I’d already lost a man – stabilised awaiting medivac and my drone) approached the bridge of the ship and the Ethereal alien (and his guard) there that they were whittled down to one sniper in the exchange. He was left facing two full strength Muton Elite. And there were hints of another group of aliens elsewhere in the ship that would need to be cleared. One Squaddie, with the plasma sniper rifle, a standard issue sidearm and a single grenade.

In his favour is that he had good cover for the moment, and if he could use his main weapon he could inflict serious damage. But the restrictions on his weapon meant that to fire it, he couldn’t move that turn.

Taking cover behind a bulkhead he forced the enemy to come around the corner to shoot him, but several turns passed without them appearing. He threw his last grenade over the damaged wall injuring one Muton that was covering on the other side. With one location identified, he sprinted across the opening to cover on the other side, taking fire from the second Muton. Now he knew where they both were.

In a fine show of courage under fire, taking fire from the two Mutons, the sniper calmly reduced his opposition to zero, his Titan Armour Suit absorbing the enemy’s fire in at least one exchange.

Switching to his pistol so he could fire and move the sniper cleared to the forward of the ship, the whole time haunted by enemy sounds far in the rear of the ship. Reaching the front of the ship and no aliens found, the sniper turned around and stalked slowly through the shadows of the vessel for the remaining alien defenders. He did have to kick himself for leaving his plasma pistol at the base, stuck with his normal sidearm.

Near the front of the ship he froze. Ahead was the unmistakable sight of a Sectopod and Drone. He damaged the drone before withdrawing, hoping that he could draw the Sectopod into the fire of his rifle.

468px-1_Sectopod

The drone followed immediately and another pistol shot saw it destroyed. The advantage of killing the drone first is that it will repair the Sectopod if left alive.

The sniper climbed to higher ground but found himself in the line of fire from the Sectopod so he immediately dropped to safety down the other side of the pillar. The Sectopod would have to take a longer path to approach him. However the Sectopod has an indirect area attack so just waiting would be suicidal.

There was only one thing to do now – he must take cover in direct sight of the hulking menace in order to kill it.

3 shots later and the Sectopod’s main cannon exploded destroying it.

An epic solo effort that deserved far more than a simple promotion from SQUADDIE to CORPORAL. With three members dead, one critcally wounded and our drone destroyed the price of victory, as epic as it was, is too high. The temporal gods will realign the cosmos and the mission will be rerun.

But SQ Matsumoto’s efforts will be remembered.

Still Walking

I’m partway through Episode 3 now, just got a train running.

Train

I am starting to run into a few places where the dialog has seemed a little off. Some of the time its because they have to be a little generic. Lets say there are three conversation choices, but none change they story, they’re the information conversations where you chat to an NPC until you’ve drained his knowledge.  So if there’s three choices then the finish has to fit, kinda, with however the player finishes.

But that’s a small point.

Another is that some of the conversations I really wouldn’t have said. Take this one between Carley and yourself (Lee). She been pretty smart and level headed throughout so far. And supportive of you…200px-Carley

Cheryl, while discussing whether Lee should reveal his background to the group:”Our group is small”

 

Lee: “You’re small”

Sorry, where did that come from? And how can that not be insulting? It’s like the pop song recently … “don’t take this the wrong way. girl you look better with the lights off”…. is there a right way to take that?

In a conversation you only get a choice about every fifth line, so sometimes you can be left thinking that isn’t really what I would have said if I was really in this conversation. Again, you’re hit by the limits of the rpg.

However these really are small niggles on a pretty polished game. Oh that’s the other thing I giggled at… so far I haven’t had any red herrings… (SPOILER ALERT). Clem is doing a pencil rubbing of a leaf to pass the time. Later, Lee has to figure out how to read the words written on a pad, when the page has been torn off.

See, everything is important, otherwise why include it.

Remember that next time you’re watching a mystery movie or reading a mystery book…..

ss-010

Who’s for dinner.

Dont’ Pay the Ferryman

VFR Close Up

Christmas and New Years are gone and my holidays are almost finished. The wife starts back tomorrow, so today, my last chance, I got away for a ride. I decided to head north up Wiseman’s Ferry. I wasn’t sure if I would come back on the Old Pacific Highway or the Putty Rd, or even just back on Wiseman’s, but I headed out about 0730 with the day free before me. I could have called up a few guys to join me, but decided that I really wanted the flexibility of a solo ride and some time to myself.

It was somewhat cloudy to start, but the forecast was for it to continue clearing with a top of about 25C. Sounded perfect. First place to head for was McGrath’s Hill, the launch point really. Fuelled up here and turned up the road to Pitt Town and Wiseman’s.

The trip to the ferry was a nice ride, only the last bit was a little annoying as myself and a couple of cars got held up behind some cyclists. There was no shoulder or straights, so we crawled along behind them for a while. They didn’t have the grace to stop and pull off either. Interestingly as we hit the last downhill into Wiseman’s they disappeared off the front. They had raced off down the hill faster than the car following dared. Crazy cyclists!

Ferry at Wiseman's Ferry

I was first off the ferry but pulled over to let all the cars go in front. Yes, I know that sounds weird, why would I want to be held up by all the cars you ask..

First up, at 0900 on a Thursday, they’re likely to be locals and therefore faster than average cars. I also knew the road was a bit rough to go very quickly on a bike. Lastly, I knew I would be cautious as I was on my own, it had been a long time since I’d ridden here and I planned to practice technique and didn’t want the pressure of the cars behind me.

Wiseman's Ferry Rd. Next to Nepean River.

It was rougher than I remember almost to Wollombi. It’s still fine to ride, but not a sweet smooth surface. I stopped partway at a place called Spencer, where I found their General Store and got something to munch on. Chatted to the shopkeeper about the road conditions as it has been several years since I came this way. The Government is apparently promising some work to smooth it out… I won’t hold my breath.

Stopped at Spencer

After the break I rode on to Wollombi where I stopped for lunch. This is a favourite bike hangout, but there were never more than ten bikes there while I was stopped. I even managed this shot with mine the only bike stopped at the Pub. What a difference from the weekends!

Wollombi Pub

Leaving Wollombi after a large burger, I headed to Broke. The first part out of Wollombi to Broke used to have a stretch of dirt on it, but that’s been sealed sometime in the past few years (update: It’s been about OMG 2007 when I last rode through here). Broke still has fuel which was nice, topped up the tanks for the Putty Rd.

Vineyard

The Putty is one of the best rides this close to Sydney. Its far better than the Old Pacific Highway especially since that road has had lots of speed limit changes and such. The Putty is also in very good condition and is more than 50km long, though not all of that is twisty roads.

It is popular, occasionally dangerous and in the weekend strongly policed.

In the middle of the day, on Thursday it was pretty empty (still dangerous) and no cops to be seen.

Partway down the Putty there used to be a coffee shop, I forget the name, but its long gone now, burnt out and not reopened I think. A little further towards Windsor though is the Grey Gums Cafe which has replaced it. It has free wifi and concrete parking that is exclusively for the bikes (cars etc have to park in the gravel carpark). I stopped for an ice cream and a bottle of water before setting off on the last bit home.

Grey Gums Cafe

I had a really good day. I’m definitely enjoying these a solo adventures a lot more. It fits my timetable better and the rides are more flexible. And I don’t lose three hours riding to the meeting spot, waiting for an hour for everyone etc etc. In three hours today I was halfway down the Wiseman’s Ferry road to Wollombi.

Spotted some kangaroos crossing ahead of me today too – never actually had that happen before. Luckily the mob (that’s the correct term for a group of roos) crossed well in advance and were lost in the vineyards by the time I was close, little chance of one trying to kill me.

I also had something fly in through under the chin of my helmet. I whipped open the visor which seemed to clear it, but I stopped very rapidly and took it off to check. That was definitely a new experience!

Roadside Wiseman's Ferry Rd

Walking with the Dead

Steam Sales, aren’t they almost the most evil thing on the planet???

I recently read a few reviews of The Walking Dead game.. I had looked into it before, but was mostly turn off by needing to wait for the other episodes. They’re all out now and the game was on sale in Steam. The final draw card, it’s Mac compatible. Here take my money :)

the-walking-dead-game-bannerI’m not usually a fan of RPGs on the computer, I either find myself lost in the open world wondering what I should be doing or frustrated at the restrictions the game has placed on me. TWD isn’t exactly an RPG though more of a storybook with options (like the old Chose Your Own Adventure or Final Fantasy books), and sells itself partly on the premise that your decisions affect the game.

Let’s look at that for a moment, I can’t think of a single game where that isn’t the case, seriously, even Pong has consequences to your decisions. They might be simple cut and dried obvious ones, but they are there. Is the difference that these consequences might not be obvious and may not come into play until a while later…. Well no, plenty of games are like that, think of Starcraft, your decision not to pursue a tech tree might make it difficult to fight off your opponents later. So I’m putting it down as sales hype.

So skipping the sales talk, I’m enjoying the game. It’s not rivetting, but is an interesting distraction. I do find the controls a little a hard, not because there are a lot, but because it sometimes hard to figure which is going to used in the next bit of the game – and when those zombies grab you or some guy is punching your face, you need to quickly click the right part of the screen. It would be fine if the scroll wheel on my Naga was accepted, but it’s not so I have to use the touch mouse for that, but then it’s slow across the screen making it hard for the time critical clicks so I find myself having to switch mice all the time…. ok maybe this is a problem of my own making!

the-walking-dead-game-2

The game does have some twists and turns and there are definite points where you basically have to choose between two people – one will live, one won’t. Saves only occur at the end of each chapter (There are several in each of the 5 episodes) so be mindful if you have to quit suddenly.

the-walking-dead-game-1

You do bump into people that are in the series as well. I’ve met the asian guy and the old man vet as well so far, but you aren’t playing in that story. You exist in the same world, as one of the other groups of survivors.

I’ve completed the first 2 episodes so far. Interestingly, at the end of each chapter they show the percentages of what choices people have made on some of the big decisions that occurred in that episode. So you can see that 54% of people chose X, which may or may not be the same as you etc.

Like I said, an interesting diversion, a good game to have played through.