Archive | August 2016

“I’m going to move to Canada if so and so is elected!”

Right I felt this bit was important to write considering a recent report on how Canada Border Services Agency or CBSA has seized more guns than usual from American visitors coming up north. See if you think you can just simply move to Canada because a political official was elected to office, you can think again.

 

First, you will arrive as an immigrant; stay here with the words: “it is my right,” without the proper paperwork and they will deport you as an illegal alien – we do that too. Second, you will be competing for jobs with the rest of us, and while you are welcome to put in your effort, again you are an immigrant to a foreign nation – you will be left out of government work, and certain jobs that require security clearances will require you to wait five years before being allowed to progress through the application process. With all that said, if you are willing to tough it out with low-end work for a few years, then perhaps there is hope for you yet.

 

Finally we come to the gun rights; here in Canada we are allowed to own guns, but our options are severely restricted. See you folks down south have it good, you have access to quite a lot in terms of self defense, and even collecting – we lack a lot of that up here in Canada. Thus when you decide to move up north, understand that you are not gaining freedoms, but losing them. Sure freedom of speech and free association exist up here, but “gun rights” are gun privileges up here, and self defense is stripped down to bare knuckle boxing or a stick if the attacker is also using a stick – no guns allowed on the persons for any reason (cops and armored car guards are the only ones who can lawfully walk around in broad daylight with a holstered weapon).

 

Sure this is probably a knee-jerk reaction, and yes they will most likely remain in the states, but just so that you are aware of what awaits you up here, please think carefully before you venture north – you will lose a valuable freedom (I am jealous of you down south with your gun rights), and you will have to suffer the life of a new arrival to a foreign land; it isn’t the same as being a tourist, and it will be a very tough few years.

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Monday musings. The Coffee Break 22 August 2016.

Hello folks and welcome back to another coffee break for the 22nd of August 2016 – figured I’d write another one just for the heck of it. After all it has been slow for content on this blog as of late, so there must be something published soon lest readers forget about the wonderful Thoughts and Topics (like you would remember us anyways (humor intended)).

 

Over the weekend I had the chance to play some more Star Wars Armada, and after suffering a humiliating defeat a thought popped into my head; I need corvettes (well, after looking up the ships available this morning). The Raider-class corvette on offer seems to be the perfect fit to tackle those pesky rebel fighters – with 2 shields all around, and decent anti-fighter batteries it seems like the perfect answer to my problem of fighters bombing my Star Destroyers. Now some of you may ask: “what about your TIE fighters?” Well the fighters have limited use, and while they can be good at intercepting the enemy fighter squadrons, the Imperial fleet’s strength lies in their capital ships – the firepower and shields it can bring to bear is something the rebels lack, hence their reliance on faster, cheaper but lightly armed vessels and their X-wings.

Star Wars armada blog image 1

Moving along, I recently reinstalled World of Warships and have begun my operations on the high seas tackling enemy battle groups wherever they may appear (it would seem that fleet fever has reached a new height). One noteworthy engagement in particular was when I was working to unlock the tier 3 American cruisers and battleships – this ship was the Chester. After taking it on a few matches I realized that this ship suffered from the M3 Lee syndrome, that being it performed very poorly in-game.

 

One engagement had me square off against another Chester, and my initial thought was: “if I fired on him first and continued to land shots and keep up the pressure he will eventually sink.” Thus I lined up my guns and opened up on the enemy Chester, and to nobody’s surprise it took the hits but remained afloat. Then I tried again, and again – still no change apart from some basic damage hits. The enemy Chester at this point noticed me, and opened up on my vessel, doing a bit of damage here and there. Eventually the opposing Chester turned and came straight at me, which at this point I was stopped in the water attempting to kill the enemy warship as quickly as possible (also to stabilize my guns for better accuracy). They came straight towards me and reduced speed, all while exchanging shots with me, and when they neared my vessel they turned to face parallel to my cruiser. Yet this was not the embarrassing part; that came in the form of us sitting side-by-side exchanging shots at one another while unable to sink one another while our respective teams finished off one another on the other end of the map.

World of Warships Chester blog image 1

Sadly it took a friendly Dresden to knock out the enemy Chester; I had spent the entire match just exchanging shots with a carbon copy ship while being unable to sink it or be sunk by it – lovely. Thankfully that is all done with now and I am the proud owner of a shiny new St. Louis tier 3 cruiser and am working towards the South Carolina battleship – good days to come.

 

While I am enjoying the game immensely, I have a bit of a dilemma to contend with: should any of the games I have release an update patch that is over 6 gigs in size, I will be in some trouble. See the game took a good 30 gigs to install, and with only 6 gigs left on my hard drive I have run into a bit of a problem in that I have to pick and choose which games to terminate from my machine lest I run into the problem of a half-updated product with not enough space to complete it. “But Writer, why not get an external hard drive?” Right now the externals are not on sale, and with the death of my old external for my PC, I have had to re-install a lot of my most played games back onto my machine. There is a train of thought on my end that I should hold off on externals and just work with what I have as my machine is nearly 6 years old going on 7 – she’s an aging lady at this point and I will probably do better if I upgraded to a new computer in due time, which is a lot better (and cost-effective per se) than running into the store for a new external hard drive. The old machine can still serve, but the new machine will take up its post and – hopefully – have enough hard drive space to take on the games I presently own on this one (fingers crossed). That is the present strategy, but of course we shall see in the near future as I am aware that Windows 10 does not work so well with certain older titles, and this presents a difficulty as I have little interest in software that just does not work right out of the box – still it is a challenge, one that us PC gamers have to embrace as our hobby offers a greater degree of freedom than console gaming via mods. Sure it is a headache in some cases, but no one said life was not without bumps in the road. Anyways folks that about wraps it up for this issue of the Coffee Break for the 22nd of August 2016 – take care out there and I shall see you next time.

“Competitive pay” is a fancy way of withholding information.

Anyone else feel that when you look at a job posting, the words: “competitive pay” usually equates to just two or three dollars above minimum wage? The experience on this end thus far with said statement is when a job posting does not disclose how much a worker makes per hour it is a trick to lure them in for an interview before they slam on the details like: “no benefits, no vacation time, no pension, oh and let us not forget that we could lay you off tomorrow and you would have only worked a day.” The “competitive pay” label is utter tripe, and does not accurately reflect what they say – their pay isn’t competitive, after all why should they make it competitive when the competition does not even bother to fight back (improve pay rates, benefits, etc to attract workers – they follow the same run-of-the-mill wages as the rest of their forsaken industry)?

 

Workers are being cheated when they write: “competitive pay” under salary/wage offerings; they are swindled out of precious time and energy all because some idiot in charge of company recruitment does not want people to look at the physical number, the actual number a worker will earn, and say: “no thanks, the other job posting seems better.” Imagine if a shop did this with their prices: say a can of soda listed as: “competitive price,” rather than 1.50. People would flip tables and throw flaming torches at the shopkeeper for engaging in such a practice, yet we allow companies who hire people get away with this? Now don’t even give me the excuse of: “profit margins,” or “the company needs to make a living too ya know!” Well then, don’t hire so many people, simple! Should a company find that their work force is sufficient to meet present and future needs, they should stop hiring. This way, people will not be given false hope, and the company will be able to move on in its life cycle and earn some cash – everyone’s happy in the end.

 

“Competitive pay,” more like: “come work for us for peanuts and chicken feed and don’t complain about it – you signed up so suck it up.”

Monday musings, The Coffee Break 15 August 2016.

Been a while since we have seen a coffee break on here has it not? Well I figured it was time to write an article for the readers as I am sure some of you out there are dying to read what I have to say (probably not, but hey wait until I perfect my propaganda techniques, then you will be eating out of the palm of my hand!).

 

Right where do we begin, well I finally tried out Heroes of the Storm, and as a person who generally dislikes MOBAs it was a nice change to see a game grab my attention and really entertain me for hours on end. Indeed Heroes was quite easy to pick up, and playing against AI is a nice feature when all other MOBAs tend to make you play against other players only – I get enough of that in World of Tanks.

Heroes of the storm blog image 1

Character-wise, I initially thought Nova would be fun to play, but it turns out there are particular play styles that just do not suite my approach to combat – Nova being a prime example. When you load up as Nova, you have to select your targets, you have to engage single targets when they are exposed or alone as you lack the cone of fire or area of affect attacks that other heroes tend to utilize (some, not all). With Nova, I found it increasingly difficult to contribute to my team as I was used to Valla (the Demon Hunter) who possessed a few multi-target attacks. With Valla, you can hit and run while damaging multiple enemies at once – a very handy tool in the arsenal when you need to quickly kill off some pursuing minions.

Heroes of the storm Valla blog image 2

Sylvanas was also quite fun to play, and her attacks were somewhat similar to Valla albeit with some key differences in how she deals damage (more so condition than raw damage per se). Sylvanas tends to require a few other players in tow in order for her to do any real damage (as I have found through several matches), but then again the game works if players concentrate on key areas with minions in tow to provide maximum damage output so that is not something new. Now in terms of skins, I immediately went with the Ranger-General skin as I felt it was a better fit for the character – though her dialogue of: “victory for the Forsaken” sounds odd without her undead echo.

Heroes of the storm ranger general blog image 3

Moving along I recently reinstalled World of Tanks and after several matches where I died while trying to even dent the enemy armour I decided to invest time into earning some heavy tanks. Indeed by now in-game I have unlocked the Matilda which is a British tier 4 medium tank; not quite the heavy tank I had in mind, and yet it functions similar to a heavy tank in some respects. Now back before I stopped playing World of Tanks, I went light tanks and tank destroyers; the problems arose when I unlocked the tier 4 Chinese tank (the only tier 4 Chinese tank) the M5A1 Stuart, and discovered (upon return to the game earlier last week) that it was a pile of crap against KV-1s and 2s – don’t even get me started about versing premium tanks in that tier. Thus after hearing: “we couldn’t penetrate their armour,” or “we didn’t even scratch them,” I said to hell with it and started working on unlocking heavy tanks (the Matilda is classified as a Medium, but thus far it works well as a substitute until I can unlock the next tier).

World of Tanks Matilda blog image 1

In-game I have managed to get at least a few kills per match before being eliminated, and this is a nice change of pace from the M5A1 when I can only take pot shots at the enemy or spot them for the team – it was not fun when THEY spotted you and fired on you as your armour was paper-thin. Thus far I am enjoying using the Matilda, and I will definitely keep this tank in my arsenal when I unlock the next tank in line.

 

One surprising thing to note is that the Czech tech tree is now available, and I have begun to work on those vehicles to see if they are worth the time and effort. First thing to note about the tanks, they look good colour-wise; I like the Khaki-brown paint job they have, and the vehicles perform about as well as any tier 2 or 3 tanks would in-game (French tanks didn’t do so well in this category so I have seldom unlocked anything in their tech tree). Right now I’m on the LT VZ. 35 which is a tier 2, and it’s got some decent stats with a good 37mm gun which can penetrate most armour in that tier, and the top speed is about 34km/h which is good compared to some of the tanks in the same tier. Suffice it to say I like it, and I enjoy rolling into combat in this tank from time to time; their starter tank however looks weird. The Tier 1 Czech tank, the Kolohousenka looks like an Ice Cream truck that someone took, added some thin plates of armour, two track assemblies, a turret, and called it a day. The thing runs poorly, but it’s gun did alright for the first few matches where I managed to kill some T1s (US Tier 1), and a few other vehicles as well – but I sold it (which got me nothing) and converted the crew into the LT VZ. 35 because they would be playing cards forever in the barracks if I did not.

World of Tanks Kolohousenka blog image 2

 

Ultimately it has been a good week for gaming on my end – two free-to-play titles that I dived into or dived back into (in the case of World of Tanks) which provided a nice alternative to premium titles where there is a barrier of entry (a cost to buy the game before you play). With the recent issues surrounding No Man’s Sky on PC, and the disappointment of titles like Halo 5 Guardians I cannot help but wonder if it is worth it to invest into a game financially at the start (one can wait of course), or try out the free-to-play market where (while there are some god-awful titles that should be sent to the deepest, darkest depths of Hell for existing) there are a good portion of decent titles that are worth your time and – in some cases – money. Only time will tell, but in the mean time I will go on to enjoy Heroes of the Storm and World of Tanks – both are good games, and why toss them aside when I could just keep playing them?

 

Well folks this is it for the coffee break for the 15 of August 2016, take care out there and I shall see you all next time.

The annoying re-organizing of Data with the Old Republic Launcher.

There are moments where a game causes frustration – these moments can be easily rectified with a break and analysis of what went wrong. Then there are games where the problem is persistent; a live game that is meant to be supported by the developers because there is new content coming out regularly – it is a living, consistent revenue stream for them. Yet they seem to lack the interest (or initiative) to fix their launcher, and as such the end user suffers as a result.

frustration

This problem is of course the Old Republic’s launcher program.

 

Now you all know from a year or two back that I adore this game – great experience, and great setting. Yet now, here in 2016, I have had it with the launcher and late last night uninstalled the bloody title in an effort to avoid further waste of time and energy. The launcher keeps going into “re-organizing data mode” (as I like to term it) and takes forever to finish BEFORE going into patching mode, and the subsequent updating of data files – this can take an entire day. Now normally I would leave my machine on overnight to do such things, yet with the frequency of how many times I have had to re-organize data for the game I do not want to wear out the internal components of the computer and be forced to buy a new machine to replace something that was broken by user error and or poor judgement.

 

The game always does this; hell there was even a time when the launcher even failed to update, and I had to reinstall the ENTIRE game – that is 30 gigs of information gone in an instant, and all because whoever developed this program failed to fix it when called upon to do so by the community.

 

Why is it that a game like World of Tanks – launched immediately as a free to play title rather than transitioned into a free-to-play like TOR – can provide an excellent launcher program with smooth updates and excellent flow of information? Thus I have tossed TOR into the storage compartment for the time being, and am going to focus on titles that – while updating is necessary at times – can provide a smooth flow of information which helps us get to the game play portion of the day faster, I am not waiting another day to play one game anymore. Good night TOR, go over to the corner and think about what you did.

Incompetent recruitment procedures.

I recall back when I signed up with the Army Reserves, how frustrating it was to wait and wait and have to go through so much paperwork for a part time job that did not even pay as much as someone working at a coffee shop. Yet I did this with the sense of duty in mind; that I had to contribute to a greater cause. I failed in this regard, not the least bit because I ended up quitting after a year and have sat there biting on my frustration ever since.

 

Now here we are, nearly six years later, and I wish to rejoin – seems easy, right? All that work and record keeping should make it easier for me to sign on with the army again. Well that is entirely wrong, and not the least bit because the system in place is even worse off than it was six years ago. Wait times from what I have read online are almost four years, FOUR YEARS TO BE INFANTRY!?!?!

 

Sure you can argue that they have a lot of papers to process, but is the nation not taking its national defense seriously? Do people actually work in these departments anymore, or is it all automated with regards to collection, and one pencil pusher sits there sifting through three candidates per day when the list keeps on growing? How embarrassing folks, how embarrassing indeed.

 

Normally I would call upon the political leaders of this country to act, but forget it – national defense is like exercise to them, an after thought. Well I want to vent it all right here then, as there is no other place to vent – I want to let people know just how inept the system is at processing recruits and getting them into training so that we can meet our defense quotas. Indeed the Defense Department is even worse than some private sector employers who you expect behaviours such as never calling, or losing your papers, or even taking years to process and application, and by that time you found work elsewhere (so much for expediency). Come on people, you have healthy, willing candidates who wish to rejoin the Forces, and yet the system fails them in that they take forever to process, or this is incorrect or that is incorrect – nothing is correct, why don’t you just take a lighter to the papers and forget it!! Every time I hear the reports of how they fall short of X-amount of recruits each year, I no longer look at this as a call to action – I see this as a failure to act on part of the government to better recruit new candidates.

 

Forget the propaganda that the statistics branch spews out, and forget the lip service the commanders spew about how we are seeing shortfalls in recruitment – you are the ones who are taking no action to address this, and as such you should suffer from your own sins. The rest of us, we’ll keep waiting – thanks for nothing.

Rwby.

Funny spelling for “Ruby,” but it is a creative title I will give them that.

 

Greetings folks; figure I would write something akin to a review for the series Rwby as thus far I am quite entertained by how the show has progressed, and hopefully with this I can convince some readers to check out the series on Rooster Teeth’s site, or on Youtube – both of which are free for the viewer.

Rwby blog image 1

A friend of mine introduced the series to me, and initially I was hesitant – I had some bad experiences with Anime/Anime-inspired shows having suffered through the Gundam Seed series which hosted a truckload of teen angst and all sorts of nonsense that made me walk away from the series entirely. Fast forward nearly a decade, and here we are with a show that is not Anime per se but is inspired by the genre – Rwby, a show about a young girl and her team as they venture through the academy system to become Huntresses and go out to fight evil creatures known as Grim.

 

Now for those of you who have seen the seasons of Red verses Blue where they hosted a ton of animated fights, the fight scenes will have the iconic Rooster Teeth high-flying characteristics built right into it, and hands down it is some of the most impressive fight scenes available to this day. Combat in the show is fluid, and I like the cell-shaded animation style over most conventional Anime in which they feature more of a pencil-drawn format so to speak. The art style I quite enjoy, and that serves as a positive point for my scales.

 

Now the show is not without drama – there is a bit of that with the main cast interacting in said fashion. Yet I find that there is less of the teen angst drama and more of the “mature” material, so to speak – there is humor and there is heartbreak, so it balances out well. Character development is present, so they do grow and mature unlike some shows where they remain virtually the same – a pity given how some of the shows in the past showed great promise.

 

Going into Volume 4 (season 4) I do have high hopes for the show – they even got the voice actor who plays Cortana to be the villain this time around so things will get interesting. Ultimately where the series is going heading into season 4 it is shaping up to be a very exciting story arc that viewers interested in genuine storytelling ought to check out. Rwby ladies and gentlemen, a good show indeed – thanks for reading folks, and I shall see you next time.