Friday, June 23, 2017

Review Day

There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

The 100, Season Four:
This show is still a great example of sci-fi lite, where you can go along for the ride without thinking too hard. Though the plot in this season isn't quite as interesting as Season Three, it's still entertaining and ends up with a nice shake-up that should make the next season fresher. The main flaw in this season is the continued flip-flop of characters that make wishy-washy decisions to forward the plot and then feel angsty about them.

Final Grade: B

Chronos:
This is a very polished 3rd-person Zelda-like game for the Oculus Rift. Like Lucky's Tale, the camera is your head, and your character runs from room to room fighting goblins and solving simple puzzles. It has a few instances of poorly telegraphed puzzles and I'm not very good at the fighting aspect, but it's very immersive and a good example of what VR can do for gaming.

Final Grade: B

Keep Talking and No One Explodes:
This is a fun VR party game where one player wears the headset and sees a suitcase bomb that they can manipulate. They have to describe what they're seeing to people in the real world who have a printed manual of logic rules (like "If there are 4 wires, cut the red wire"). The opening menu is a little cumbersome to navigate but the game itself evokes fun Telephone-like miscommunications that result in the bomb defuser getting blown up on a regular basis. We've only played the first few types of puzzles, but the later ones look intimidatingly daunting in the printed manual.

Final Grade: B+

Google Earth VR:
VR is one of those technologies whose impact can't truly be understood until you put the headset on yourself, and Google Earth is easily the killer app to make people understand. This program allows you to travel anywhere on the planet and fly through the world with your controllers. Because it is not yet integrated with Google Street View on the web, the illusion breaks down if you zoom in too close to person-scale, but it's still exhilarating to revisit places you've been before or trek up Mount Everest without danger. I've read that they've used this VR program on dementia patients to allow them to visit their childhood homes, and I, myself, have re-experienced all of the crazy vacations and hikes that Rebecca and I have taken. The map data improves regularly, and many of the neighbourhoods are getting 3D-ified with LIDAR data (surprisingly, Sterling Park is one of the completed ones, as seen in the screenshot below). In cases where the neighbourhood isn't available yet, the topography of the landscape is still rendered, but the buildings are shown as a flat texture.

Final Grade: B+

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Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Memory Day: Snapshots

The picture on the left is Rebecca at 4 months (October 1983), while the picture on the right is me at 20 months (May 1981).

This should allow you to extrapolate what our daughter will look like. You can check your work against the crazy 3D ultrasound image below!

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Monday, June 19, 2017

Weekend Wrap-up

We're now in week 39 of Baby Watch (or Baby Warning, if we are to use the National Weather Service's terminology). On Friday afternoon, the Ahlbins came up from Fredericksburg with their 4 kids for a night of basement camping and Wall-E, while Ben and Anna got to try out the Oculus Rift. Ben demonstrated his ability to physically dodge a robot with some sort of "sliding into first base" maneuver that took him precariously close to the descending stairway.

Not a lot happened on Saturday -- Rebecca went to a wedding shower in the evening while I ordered pizza in and finished the fourth season of The 100 and then played Overwatch.

On Sunday, my parents stopped by briefly in the afternoon to check out our swank nursery, then we made a grocery run to stock up on slow cooker chili ingredients (apparently having a newborn is so intensely demanding that you never leave the house for supply runs). Afterwards, we took a brief nature walk through Claude Moore, then had dinner at the surprisingly empty O'Faolains, where we learned that you can now swap out fries for tater tots. Of course, we did.

How was your weekend?

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Friday, June 16, 2017

Review Day

There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

Off the Grid by Bliss n' Eso:
Bliss n' Eso's newest album feels a little calmer and centered than their previous work, but not quite as infectiously fun -- it seems like many of the hip-hop artists I like at this stage in my life are all rapping about how they've kicked their alcoholism and are raising kids. I enjoyed Whatever Happened to the DJ? and a few other tracks. As an import CD, it's probably not worth the higher cost unless you're a fan.

Final Grade: B-

Hasan Minhaj: Homecoming King:
This standup special featuring one of the Daily Show correspondents is great -- best if you enjoy a story-telling style of stand-up. Free on Netflix.

Final Grade: B

Modern Family, Season Seven:
I can't believe there are seven seasons of this show now. This season is one of the stronger ones (with 4 or 5 being something of a low point), as it returns to the style and feel of the first seasons. The main stumble is giving more air time to yet another toddler -- toddler humor just isn't very funny, and should have been allowed to fade off the show when the first toddler grew up.

Final Grade: B

Patriot, Season One:
This is a show with a very unique feel about a depressed spy that struggles to complete his missions. Although it has shades of Fargo, the creator is obviously trying for something very different from your normal TV fare, and it works more often than it doesn't. If you can give it a little patience (at least 3 trial episodes) and can appreciate a plot that unfolds and expands more than it progresses in a straight line, you'll really enjoy this. I'm watching it again with Rebecca and it continues to grow on me. Free on Amazon Prime.

Final Grade: A-

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