3 Comments | Posted: May 27th, 2010 | Filed under: iPaddery, What I've Been Reading | Tags: iPad, wired
It’s pretty neat. There’s a lot to be said for embedding video and audio, (even – if not especially — in revenue-generating ads) and the interactivity in articles (click buttons to view different products that are being reviewed on the same page, or get a step-by step of the assembly of that famous ice hotel or listen to a Trent Reznor track in progress) is handled in an unobtrusive, natural manner that reminds me of a highly-refined version of their website. There are issues, though: the vertical scrolling inside of an article is not obvous enough and I was honestly a bit confused the first time I came across it and while editorial has worked hard to make sure the layout works in both landscape and portrait orientations, there’s at least one article fragment in the inaugural installment that is driving me up the wall
Still, $5 for a future magazine that doesn’t litter my floor with those annoying subscription cards and cleverly gets me to look at and interact with advertising? That’s a perfect price point. This is the first issue of Wired I’ve read cover-to-cover in years and I’m pretty sure they’ve got their hooks in me for future installments.
Comments Off | Posted: May 27th, 2010 | Filed under: Shameless Self-Promotion | Tags: red dead redemption
…as part of a roundtable over at the Bureau Chiefs site. It’s a good group with varied opinions and angles on the topic of Rockstar’s latest sandbox game, but I’m glad I got to get to the heart of the matter by complaining about one particular minigame out of proportion to its actual offense.
Comments Off | Posted: May 27th, 2010 | Filed under: She Died In Terrebonne
The third act of She Died In Terrebonne begins
Comments Off | Posted: May 25th, 2010 | Filed under: The Loneliest Astronauts
A dialogue begins.
1 Comment | Posted: May 24th, 2010 | Filed under: What I've Been Watching | Tags: elmore leonard, justified, timothy olyphant
This man can wear a damn hat.
If you’re not familiar with the show — and that’s perfectly normal as it’s on FX — Justified is about Federal Marshall Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant,) sent back to the town he grew up in by a law enforcement agency that is understandably embarrassed by his shooting of a criminal over brunch at a Miami hotel. Raylan finds his past life colliding with the man he’s become in the form of old flames, an embarrassing family history, and a clan of racist hillbillies who fancy themselves the mafia in their neck of the woods, and it’s been interesting to watch how an entire TV show has evolved out of a short story by Elmore Leonard.
Justified had a shaky beginning: a terrific pilot segued into into a more-episodic-than-expected setup with several installments from the first half of the season being pretty good TV that fell far short of the benchmarks set by the first episode. I won’t lie; I watched those episodes and enjoyed them well enough but it was mostly due to Olyphant’s exquisite manliness and charm overpowering some weak plots (the trip to LA was completely unneccessary and felt like it came from another series’ writer’s room entirely.) However, even in those weakest starting salvos, groundwork was laid for what I suspect is the series’ core theme. Raylan’s cowboy attitude and affectations run contrary to how his job should be done in the modern era; watching them bite him in the ass and seeing him try to make things right within the boundaries of the law is both entertaining and satisfying. It’s a classic redemption arc, acted well by Olyphant and his supporting cast (particularly Natalie Zea as Raylan’s ex wife and Walton Goggins’ tightly wound psychopath) and writing that has gelled nicely as the series progresses. Between this and Treme (which I can’t even start to talk about without becoming a foaming zealot,) I’m in a really good place with dramas on TV right now.
(As an aside: you’re going to be hard-pressed to find a better-looking TV show, particularly in HD. Naturalistic lighting, great composition, and depth of focus used at just the right moments all work spectacularly with the muted color palette)
Comments Off | Posted: May 20th, 2010 | Filed under: The Rack
Aaron comes to a decision about his immediate future.
Comments Off | Posted: May 20th, 2010 | Filed under: She Died In Terrebonne
Sam continues to drink as a conversation occurs
1 Comment | Posted: May 19th, 2010 | Filed under: Outbound Linkage
Comments Off | Posted: May 19th, 2010 | Filed under: The Rack
Jerry and Rick discuss the industry.
3 Comments | Posted: May 18th, 2010 | Filed under: Reviews, video games
Sunny, high in the upper 80s, 70% humidity, with a 90% change of collateral damage.
It was somewhere in the middle of my fifth or sixth sortie of the day, wiping out government facilities and terrorizing the populace of the small archipelago nation Panau that it hit me: Just Cause 2 is perhaps the ultimate interactive expression of America’s terrifying older-brother stance towards smaller countries that possess resources we desire. Sure, there are games that throw you into the middle of recent middle eastern conflicts for the sake of shooting people in different ways, but this game was different. In it, players control the actions of Rico Rodriguez, a CIA operative who is given carte blanche to create chaos (something that is literally used as a metric in gameplay,) and sway a small island nation towards a more US-friendly stance. I first attempted to stick to military targets — the mission parameters were vague enough that I thought I could advance by being somewhat honorable in my intentions — while helping various gangs gain more territory and further mire Baby Panay’s administration in woes that could further the American agenda with the country. While it was on a bigger scale, the general idea was close to how I played Grand Theft Auto IV: honorable, even if there was the occasional unnecessary explosion. That didn’t last.
While between missions and assignments, I found myself planting explosives on water towers in small desert villages and randomly destroying oil pipelines that kept the population employed; collecting powerups wasn’t doing it for me anymore. I needed to see more devastation, more destruction. I would drive past soldiers patrolling an area, minding their own business, and hop out of my car just to use a grappling gun to attach one to the bumper and drive down the road. I drove to an airport, stole an ersatz 747, and crashed it into massive fuel tanks at a working harbor just to more spectacularly tick that location off my “places to visit” list. The more I upgraded my weaponry by picking up units scattered across the map, the better I could explode things that offended me. The game’s mechanics aren’t perfect, but there’s enough of a visceral thrill to doing ludicrous amounts of destruction that I soon forgave a lot of the quirks and start to learn how to use the system’s ridiculous (if oddly consistent) interpretations of the laws of physics to my advantage.
This is your character in the process of using his grappling hook to hijack a helicopter while skydiving.This is something you can do without snapping at least four bones in your arm and shoulder.
The game’s mechanics and playability aside, what’s truly fascinating is how Just Cause 2 doesn’t even couch the “America does bad things because it can” message in flowery rhetoric: the CIA operative that you make contact with explicitly states that you are wreaking havoc on the general populace and working with drug dealers and revolutionaries all for the sake of Jed Clampett’s cash crop, and it’d be really great if you kept doing more of that, thanks. While your opponents are overblown cartoons and your character’s Spanish accent is unforgivably close to Triumph The Insult Comic Dog’s, the central truth of the game is actually kind of chilling, even as it’s played with just enough spin to act as a satirical goof on film and video game tropes: America isn’t really a great neighbor to other countries; our government does pretty horrible things in our national interest, particularly when it comes to petroleum.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to base-jump off a skyscraper for points before destroying a propaganda trailer and starting a firefight on an oil rig. Go USA!
Comments Off | Posted: May 18th, 2010 | Filed under: Outbound Linkage
As with everything he does, Cunningham does a terrific job in this piece about the doctor who cried “Autism!”
Comments Off | Posted: May 18th, 2010 | Filed under: The Loneliest Astronauts
Further revelations! Honest.
Comments Off | Posted: May 18th, 2010 | Filed under: The Rack
Circumstances require us to run staff picks early
. I’m sure you’ll deal, somehow. You seem strong.
21 Comments | Posted: May 17th, 2010 | Filed under: Meta | Tags: iPad, kind of a review but not really., technology
Short version, for those of you who want to get to the heart of the matter:
Oh, fuck yes.
Longer version, for those of you who require nuance and such in your commentary:
Oh fuck yes, you guys.
Seriously, such a pleasure to use and while I am halfway in the bag for Apple, I tend to err on the side of wanting platforms that do exactly what I want to do when I want to do them. For the last year or so, I’ve used a Windows XP netbook as my main writing/work/whatever device when not at home, and it’s worked perfectly well for me. The iPad, however, does exactly what I use the Netbook for: email, websurfing, porn, but with better battery life and less of a reliance on the, shall we say “quirks” that Microsoft’s operating systems have. I’ve not been interrupted once this week with a security update or needing to get a driver to do something basic, and everything just works. I’m a big fan of “just working,” particularly when it comes to things like the internet, wireless, etc. It’s what I like about my iMac at home, and it’s actually what I like about the XBox and Zune platforms as well. Others view this as removing choices from your experience, and while I can see their point of view in some sort of “smash the system, rah, open source everything” way, I also simply don’t have the time to fuck around and I want to do what I need to do.
Question One You Might Have: Do I miss Flash?
No, not really. Most of the things Flash is used for are things I don’t really do that much with my portable platforms. I don’t play a lot of Flash games, I don’t spend a lot of time on video sites that aren’t YouTube (which has an app included in the iPad OS.)
Question Two You Might Have: How’s the battery life?
Splendid. I’ve been out with my iPad with Bluetooth running (for the wireless keyboad — more on that in the next bit) and I’ve used 10% of the battery life in an hour and change while using WiFi. 3G does strain it a bit more and I’m sure if I were watching HD video, it’d drop faster, but with consistent general use, I’ve been charging at the end of the day with 30-40% of the battery life still available.
Question Three You Might Have: How’s the keyboard built into the OS?
It’s pretty good for short emails, Tweets, etc. Apple has a bluetooth wireless keyboard that’s about $60 that is lightweight and easy to toss into your bag. I use it and love it, but I presume any Bluetooth keyboard would do.
Question Four You Might Have: Comics?
Putting aside my disdain for some of the interface quirks in the Marvel/Comixology app (and the fact they need to trim the white space of their pages to maximize the art-to-screen-ratio on older material,) they are pretty fucking great. I’m now seriously interested in producing comics for this platform.
If you have more questions, ask!
Comments Off | Posted: May 14th, 2010 | Filed under: The Rack
Aaron gets a not-quite-cold shoulder
Comments Off | Posted: May 13th, 2010 | Filed under: The Rack
6 Comments | Posted: May 13th, 2010 | Filed under: Art Appreciation
Comments Off | Posted: May 13th, 2010 | Filed under: She Died In Terrebonne
Sam receives a visitor
Comments Off | Posted: May 12th, 2010 | Filed under: The Rack
The morning after and its revelations.