Archive | January 2015

ESO dumps the subscription, and Cortana will offer digital assistant. The Coffee Break: 21 Jan 2015.

This first piece of news comes as no surprise to any of us: Elder Scrolls Online is abandoning their subscription model in favour of a model similar to that of Guild Wars 2. According to PC Gamer.com, Bethesda has announced that they will discontinue their subscription model in March with player accounts being transferred over to the new format titled: “The Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited.” However before you go onto their site and register an account, be aware that this game is still buy-to-play, meaning that in order to play the game you must buy the game first (akin to how Guild Wars and Guild Wars 2 marketed their products). There will also be an in-game currency for microtansactions, but all of the specific details you can find at the link below this segment (because I am feeling lazy today, and will not recite the entire article for you (humor intended)).

elder-scrolls-online

Now this is of no surprise; the game was already suffering quite a bit to begin with, and with a subscription slapped on top of a game that many would call as a complete and total failure it is without question that the company is looking to salvage operations before the ship takes on too much water and sinks into the deep blue abyss. Even Angry Joe tore this game a new one in his video review; something that took us all by surprise as we expected ESO to be Skyrim Online. Instead it was revealed that questing with friends in the game is broken, the combat is boring, the leveling progression is unbearable, and income earning is slowed down to the point where a player has to fork over more cash just to get an edge in their leveling experience – this and the Imperial Race (the one touted to be able to join any faction) was locked off behind a pay gate. ESO – even when it goes buy-to-play – will not be on the list of games I pick up this year; I do not play broken pieces of trash, especially since my free time is limited.

 

PC Gamer: The Elder Scrolls Online drops subscription.

http://www.pcgamer.com/the-elder-scrolls-online-drops-subscription/

 

Cortana is a feature that will appear in Microsoft’s new Windows 10, making the latest operating system part of a list of programs this AI functions on. On PCs with Windows 10 installed, Cortana will also be able to search local Hard Drives, One Drive, and One Drive for business to find files through natural queries. Adding to this Cortana will also be able to filter search results and then organize the results based on what she thinks is most relevant to what you (the user) wanted – this alongside the already existing features currently enjoyed by Windows Phone users.

Cortana

Interesting; well I’ve always wanted a pseudo-AI in my machine – particularly in my car now that provincial legislation prevents me from touching my cell phone while driving. Long story short it is illegal to drive while talking or texting (safety issues and all), therefore the only way to answer incoming calls is to use hands-free technology like ear pieces, or wiring your entire cabin of the car to act as one giant ear piece (as a friend of mine did in the past). Cortana would come in handy at that point as she can help the driver organize quite a bit of data, answer calls for them (the driver still does the talking, but they can verbally command Cortana to answer the phone), and help them be a safer driver (because the road is caked with idiots who love to cut corners, speed, and otherwise behave like animals; though they probably won’t invest in this piece of tech so whatever).

 

Perhaps when Windows 10 is released, we can further examine Cortana’s functions – this is an interesting move, but one that might just work out in the end.

 

IGN: Cortana is Windows’ digital assistant.

http://ca.ign.com/articles/2015/01/21/from-halo-to-phone-to-pc-cortana-is-windows-digital-assistant?watch=&utm_campaign=fbposts&utm_source=facebook

 

Okay folks, that’s the Coffee Break for the 21 of January 2015 (PST) – take care out there, and we shall see you next time.

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The Man in the High Castle: season 1 Episode 1 (Pilot) – thoughts.

Amazon made a pilot episode for a television series based on a book by Philip K. Dick? Now people, there is no need to get alarmed; it’s good. Beginning this piece with a bit of shock is similar to how the pilot episode of: “The Man in the High Castle” carried out its mission. Indeed like the book, the series is set in an alternate history United States where the Axis powers have won, and the US is divided up between Imperial Japan, and Nazi Germany. Within the story lies two characters who get involved (through different avenues) with the resistance, all the while Japan and Germany wage a sort of cold war; neither certain what to do, or whether to advance on the other.

the man in the high castle poster

Similar to the author of the IGN article, I was left feeling uncomfortable as I watched the episode. Life in a puppet state/occupied territory is scary; far worse than any of those insane tosspots who idolize extremism can imagine (well, maybe they have a place in that world). Closer to the end, an interesting cliffhanger was thrown in there – as fearful as I am, I wanted to know more.

Now before I continue, spoiler warning (I am about to go into the plot of the first episode; skip two paragraphs down to reach the end).

 

 

Alright so the story begins with two characters from opposite sides of the border: Joe Blake, and Juliana Crain. Both live in totally different regimes, yet both experience the same extremism that plagues the former United States of America (though the US exists still, it only extends to the old borders from 1783(approximately)). Juliana is an example of American and Japanese cultural mix; she studies a Japanese martial art (I cannot spell it, so you will just have to watch the episode to hear what it is, and find it out online) which her mother disapproves (war-widow). Juliana is also romantically involved with a man who descends from a Jewish Grandfather – something made obvious during a discussion at a bar where they meet up. Now this aspect is not used heavily, but it does illustrate just how brutal it could be for those who failed to escape the east coast for life in the Pacific States of America (also known in the episode as the: “Japanese Pacific States,” Imperial Japan puppet). Meanwhile Joke Blake is living in New York, and at first the show kicks off with the usual 1960s newsreel in a theater, but as the newsreel drags on it ends with Nazi iconography on American flags; a sign of the alternate history.

When both characters come across some unusual newsreels showcasing the allied victory, things begin to change. Juliana takes on her dead half-sister’s “mission,” while Joe – now driving a truck for the resistance – also makes his way into the neutral zone. Finally at the end, it is revealed that Joe is a double agent – he calls his “commander,” who also happens to be the jailer: beyond this I will not say more, you will just have to watch the show.

 

 

Arbitrary arrests, torture, extermination; all these themes are present in this alternate history series. Thus far Amazon has done a wonderful job with the story arc, and I – despite my fear – want to see more of this show: it is shaping up to be a promising season. Thank you all for reading, and I shall see you next time.

 

IGN article:

http://ca.ign.com/articles/2015/01/16/the-man-in-the-high-castle-review?utm_campaign=fbposts&utm_source=facebook

Supreme court rules RCMP allowed to form union, and Real Estate commissions could fall. The Coffee break. 16 January 2015.

Canada’s Supreme Court has ruled that the RCMP (The Royal Canadian Mounted Police) should be allowed to form a union. Presently as it stands the RCMP are excluded from forming a union while other public sector workers can do so – something the force has attempted to change for a few years now. One question remains however; now that the Supreme Court has ruled that the Mounties are allowed, will the Federal Government acknowledge this, or will they go about jerking the officers around for a little while longer?

RCMP shoulder flash

Now let’s not kid ourselves, the Federal Government wants to avoid a union with the RCMP because they are one of the largest police forces in Canada. Presently the strength of the force is sitting at 28,651 of which 11,509 are basic rank constables – quite a big group to be contending with considering how many unions the Federal Government needs to deal with when it comes to labour contracts. Like a corporation, the government aims to curtail unions for one thing: cost savings. Running along side cost savings, labour disputes are messy, and as such they can smear the image of the incumbent (another reason why the Federal Government wants to avoid another union) – but ultimately the officers deserve to have a union for all the hard work that they put in when it comes to policing services. Whether or not the members of Parliament agree is not of concern; they will obey the court rulings as the rule of law is the supreme authority to which all other authority is derived. Still we will have to wait and see whether or not Ottawa will play nice, or will they take the ball and run with it thereby making the officers chase after it.

 

http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/rcmp-officers-have-right-to-collective-bargaining-supreme-court-rules-1.2912340

 

Next we have Real Estate commissions falling; not entirely a bad thing to be honest. According to the article from CBC, the traditional fat commission that Real Estate Agents get may be in danger as new market forces enter the arena – these include online bidding, to small firms offering flat rates in order to win over your business. Now as sad as it may seem, let us not get too sympathetic here – Real Estate agents have enjoyed sky-high housing prices for a good few years now. Ever since 2010, housing in Canada has gone from affordable in some cities, to next to impossible for the present generation looking to move up in life. Real Estate Agents – like any other business – need to stay competitive if they are to survive in a market environment. Private businesses all do the same, and with technology leveling the playing field, it is about time that Real Estate go through the same transformation – after all who wants to mortgage a house for thirty years? Certainly not I; that and saving money is good.

 

http://www.cbc.ca/news/business/real-estate-commissions-could-fall-as-new-competition-heats-up-1.2900928

 

Alright folks, that’s the two main stories I wanted to cover for today – have a wonderful weekend, and I shall see you next time.

Target and Sony both withdraw from Canada. The Coffee Break 15 January 2015.

Both Target and Sony have announced that they will be closing their retail operations in Canada, with Target citing business losses, while Sony simply wants to shift their operations to Resellers, the online market, and telesales. This will mean that a lot of folks will be out of work – and further adding to the troubles is the slump in oil prices which are the province of Alberta’s main economic driver. While these three news items may sound like doom and gloom, allow me to present a different perspective.

 

The oil sector is only one sector, and like power, economic prosperity should come to all sectors. Indeed when oil was sky-high, trucking and shipping (which is arguably much more significant as it is the movement of goods) suffered tremendously. Now that the price of oil has gone down, people will be more inclined to spend on luxury goods, entertainment, or just simply be able to save some cash overall. Unfortunately some folks will lose in this regard, but like anything in life, some win and some lose.

falling oil prices

Next comes the Target and Sony shutdowns in Canada: minimum wage jobs are not something to cry about. When the manufacturing sector reduced their facilities in North America significantly and shifted their operations overseas, that was something to cry about – union jobs with union wages, and union benefits. When you look at retail sales you see minimum wages (barely enough to pay for rent in a major city, let alone help pay for college or help finance a house or car), no benefits (they part-time the workers so that they do not have to give them benefits, and then jerk them around with the promise of full-time employment – utter tosh), and finally the company benefits while the workers see nothing in regards to profits; not even a Christmas bonus (though the CEOs lavish themselves with said benefits). Long story short, yes there will be a lot of people out of work, but in the end who wants to do that sort of work forever anyways? One certainly cannot raise kids on minimum wages, and one cannot improve their position in life when they are trapped in part-time jobs that go no where, have no benefits, and overall do nothing to improve the quality of life – rather you work long hours for low pay, and you can get tossed out the door just like that.

 

There you have it folks, short and sweet (or bitter, depending on your point of view). The Oil sector loses but the others win, while the retail sector marches on (the amount of choices is good; think back to when Microsoft tried to turn the Xbox One into a prison console – that is what happens when there is no competition (it did not come to pass, thankfully)). This has been the Coffee Break for the 15th of January 2015 – if you like my work and want to contribute to the site, please feel free to check out my Patreon Page located in the link below: thank you all for reading, and I shall see you next time.

Patreon Page
http://www.patreon.com/thoughtsandtopics?alert=2

3D-printed Pizza, CES. The Coffee Break 9 January 2015.

Out of all the things we can talk about (the bad news from France, the good news from CES), we are here to talk about 3D-printed Pizza – delicious. Well where do we begin? Watching a video from IGN on the 8th of January, they showcased a 3D-printer that printed a pizza: an edible pizza. These things are incredible, and with the 3D printer revolutionizing the way we do things, it may be only a matter of time before the average house design will lose the oven in favour of more kitchen counter space per se.

3D printed pizza

Now this is just a short little piece, but I wanted to touch on how amazing things will be in the near future. Efficiency will be the hallmark of our civilization, and it will be technology that propels us forward – not antiquated ideas and practices. Oh how the future looks so bright: you can find the link to the video below this paragraph.

Great, now I want pizza – thanks IGN, you self-absorbed ***** (humor intended). Take care folks, be careful not to spill the sauce, and I shall see you next time.

Blog update: 6 January 2015.

Hello folks,

Well a new year means changes in some areas of life – however for you, these changes come in the form of a shift in tactics with regards to this blog.
Now as many of you may be aware, the Telegraphed Gazette has frozen still for almost an entire year. The reason for this halt in operations of the gazette is I have taken to writing shorter pieces like The Coffee Break, The Rhetoric, The Reviews, and so on. Writing the gazette (and for no pay as well) has taken its toll – too much work on my plate (among other things), and little to no reward for all my efforts.
Not that I am saying I will make my blog a pay-to-view: that is just suicide for a blog with limited views. Yet changes will come in the form of the type of content I will cover.
Regarding Quebec politics; that is going to go. The situation is not changing, and seeing as I do not plan on setting foot in that province anytime soon as a resident, I will not partake in its affairs – namely writing on the affairs of the province. Now with regards to Canadian affairs, that is staying – I am a Canadian after all, so that will not change.
Regarding the games industry, miscellaneous topics, and so on, those will remain. The key element that this blog was initially founded upon will change – but apart from Quebec affairs being scrapped wholesale, everything else will remain in its place.
Now as a writer, I am committed to writing on this blog – this page will never die. Articles will continue to be published, works written, and the whole ten yards. Should you see an article pop up regarding Quebec, it will fall under the “Canadian affairs” category.
Okay folks, this concludes the update for the blog of Thoughts and Topics – I hope you will all stay and continue to enjoy the work that I create. Take care, and I will see you next time.

Thoughts on The Hobbit: The battle of the Five Armies

Well I can honestly say that the film was excellent – indeed it was worth the money I spent, and I may go see it again sometime this month. This pseudo-review will be an opinion piece (just so you are all aware) so enjoy reading everyone! Also before we continue: spoiler warning – if you do not want to read spoilers, stop now.

the hobbit battle of the five armies poster

Right where do we begin, well the dragon – Smaug – gets a rather un-ceremonial death as he is killed off prior to the announcement of the film’s title. Afterwards, the film focuses on Thorin and his decent into madness, before his redemption by fire and blood (in battle). The armies featured are exactly as described in Tolkien’s works (more or less), though I will admit my heart goes with the Dwarves. Something about these down-to-earth (no pun intended) soldiers clad in thick steel plates and fighting in a phalanx formation really appeals to someone such as I, rather than the posh and highly ornate Elven warriors who seem to be skilled with the bow and the sword, but lack the hard-nose formation skills of the Dwarven Legions (a reference to the Roman Legions). The human forces – sadly – are just a band of hastily trained militia; given weapons held in stores and covered in cobwebs, taught how to swing, then deployed onto the field. Though their valour was commendable, and their courage unrelenting, it felt as though humanity was incapable of forming a standing army and fighting in a disciplined fashion. Then again, they had a brief period of time to train, so there can be no room for this argument.

Dain_the_Dwarf and dwarven legion

Peter Jackson did a wonderful job with the camera as the gritty realism and splendour all melded together nicely. The frozen mountain waters gave off the chill; as though you were standing there amidst the fog and cold winter breeze, while the ruins of Dale, and the damaged walls of Erebor reminded us of past glories – soon to be reclaimed. The actors did an excellent job on-screen as well; though with the Dwarven characters, their beards got in the way of some of their facial expressions – this is expected of course, so no complaints there.

The part where Lauriel felt sorrow, and asked her King to take this sensation of love away from her really stood out. Indeed true love is feeling pain when someone dies, and it is very difficult to bear initially – Lauriel felt that, and the actress who portrays her does a wonderful job.
Now the rescue of Gandalf was “lacking,” if I may be allowed the phrase, largely because I was expecting more than just Elrond of Rivendell, Saruman, and Lady Galadriel. Yet their power was awe-inspiring, and it did the job – though I still wish there was more “meat” per se, than just the three council members.

Finally there was the coward advisor to the Master of Laketown – his actor did one hell of a job as the audience just hated the freak right up to the very end when he dresses as a woman, and stuffs the dress with coins (conveniently near where the breasts would normally be positioned). That bit was humorous, and it adds the needed laughter to an otherwise rather depressing sequence of death and chaos.

The film does a good job in explaining just how Legolas and Aragorn became friends, as it was his father who suggested he go north to the people where Aragorn was, and spend some time with them. Whether Legolas felt ashamed to return to his privileged position, or he simply wanted to find purpose in his life, it was nice to see his father finally open up to his son and to tell him that his mother loved him before the two men parted ways on good terms. The ending however sort of disappointed me; I wanted to see Thorin’s funeral, and also the funeral for Lauriel’s beloved. Instead, we saw Bilbo walk off with his sack and return to the shire – it felt rushed, and it certainly did not help that it was supposed to be the: “Super fantastic ending to the three-film saga.”

Why did Bilbo not remain with the group and see Thorin off like the friend that he claims to be, why did he have to go so soon? Sure this may be in the books, but good lord does it ever feel lackluster – almost as if Peter Jackson just said: “Right, we’re done here – everyone this is it, we got it finished.” No mister Jackson, no you have not – there was a final scene in Return of the King where Aragorn was crowned, and as such I expected to see Thorin buried and celebrated – then Bilbo can have his cameo: “walk off stage” moment; hat waving, pipe ablaze, and so on.

Yet I still cannot hate the film enough to not recommend it; it is the ending we need (not want, but need). The film concludes the trilogy, and ends yet another amazing chapter in Jackson’s books as he moves on to explore other projects. Though I wish Jackson would explore the other story arcs by Tolkien, I doubt he will for the immediate future (the time between the Lord of the Rings films and the Hobbit films was about five to seven years, approximately). Still, I want to go see it again, so I might – I want to watch the film and have the moments etched into my memory so that it may last a lifetime (and you people can read all about it until your heart stops (humor intended)). Anyways folks, this concludes my thoughts on the Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies – stay safe out there, and I shall see you all next time.