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Final Fantasy 15 – A beautifully rendered disappointment

Final Fantasy XV - PlayStation 4: Square Enix LLC: Video Games
(See online!)
For full disclosure, FFX and 7 were my favorites, 9 and 12 were decent, 13 was barely playable, and 8 was my least favorite. If that lineup doesn't match yours, my review may not mean much to you. Fair warning

Final Fantasy XV is, at it heart, "A Jpop Band Tours Yosemite national park". You spend essentially the entire time driving and running back and forth, back and forth almost endlessly through the same terrain and areas. Yes, if you follow the main story over everything else, you see some neat maps and enemies, but the majorty of it is repetitive and far more "80 hours in a car with your family on summer vacation" than actual fantasy.

There's almost no sense of discovery because the game is completely open and you can pretty much see everything from the very start (and have to criss-cross it endlessly because of it – very much like FF8). Combat is moderately interesting, but I never felt like I was building power and capability like what made FF13 finally interesting (and most other FF games of course). As someone who likes to perfect characters and unlock new skills and powers, this game felt like you were only in control of the main character and the rest were pets that you could sometimes switch to when you got bored of Broody-mc-popstar's endlessly repetitive battle style.

The game honestly felt flat and dull. When something really interesting actually happens, you're left wondering why and maybe a little excited to find out, but you're locked out of most of the map and are stuck on a luge heading for the games highly mediocre ending. I guess what I'm really trying to say is that you could get about as much enjoyment from the game by watching other people play it on Youtube for a few weeks as you would from actually playing.

I can see that the Steam version has had some major updates (prominently displayed flying car) which is clearly their attempt to polish a turd. If you think that's good enough (or if the price is so cheap, it's worth it to you to find out for yourself) go for it. Otherwise, there are far, far better games to play.

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Big Bang Theory – Bazinga

Bazinga! A graphic representation of one of the funnier moments in the Big Bang Theory show
(Image source is unknown)

This is my first post in a continuing series I'm going to call "Geek Culture". Like many other societal groups in the world, geeks have certain tendencies, traits, features, and history. I've decided that now might be a good time to begin sharing some with you.

First up: some fan art (artist unknown) from one of my all-time favorite shows – bbt

I don't know where this came from, but the furthest I can trace it so far is here.

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12 Year Old Boy Uses World of Warcraft Skills to Save Sister’s Life

(Image used under: Fair Use doctrine)

So you think all those online games rot your brain, make you slovenly, and are a complete waste of time? You're still right, but there are some unexpected benefits it seems.

A Norwegian boy who apparently plays the popular online game, World of Warcraft, used the skills he learned in the game to save his sister and then himself from an angry Moose.

Hans and his sister got into trouble after they had trespassed the territory of the moose during a walk in the forest near their home. When the moose attacked them, Hans knew the first thing he had to do was ‘taunt’ and provoke the animal so that it would leave his sister alone and she could run to safety. ‘Taunting’ is a move one uses in World of Warcraft to get monsters off of the less-well-armored team members.

Once Hans was a target, he remembered another skill he had picked up at level 30 in ‘World of Warcraft’ – he feigned death. The moose lost interest in the inanimate boy and wandered off into the woods. When he was safely alone Hans ran back home to share his tale of video game-inspired survival.

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Possible Trend: Movies on USB Drives

To the movies!
(Image is in the Public Domain)

Ghostbusters has become the first movie to be distributed on a USB drive. It includes a strong form of DRM that they hope will prevent people from copying it. Whether that proves more effective than the DRM they've tried on DVDs remains to be seen.

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If Fonts Were People

(Image used under: Creative Commons 4.0 [SRC])

This is one of the funniest and geekiest things I've seen a while. Chances are less computer oriented people won't enjoy it as much, but I thought it was hilarious.

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Second Life Market About to Crash?

(Image source is unknown)

It seems that the Second Life client can be made to connect to open servers run by anyone. If that's the case, then what will maintain the Second Life market structure? A lot of their income came from land (which you had to pay a monthly fee to own), but if you can now go to an open server for your land where there's no charge (or run your own), what will Linden do?

Even worse, if the only thing keeping people from copying items is a terms of service agreement, what's to stop someone from doing it on a completely open server? This is also great news for those involved in virtual sexual deviance ("age-play" for example) who will now be able to do what they wish without interference.

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Trasncript of My Blogger Radio Interview on Blogcritics Magazine

(Image used under: Creative Commons 2.0 [SRC])

After my blog radio interview this last Thursday, the interviewer, who's also a writer for Blogcritic Magazine, posted a transcript on their webpage here.

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Me on Blogger Radio This Thursday

(Image used under: Creative Commons 2.0 [SRC])

This Thursday, I'll be doing an interview on Techtips blog radio. You can listen or call in to talk with me about Identity Theft issues. Link here:

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/stations/bc/TechTips/2008/06/05/How-to-avoid-becoming-an-ID-Theft-victim

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The Best Super-Power Ever

Heroic
(Image used under: Fair Use doctrine)

There have been a rash of really good superhero movies recently with the most current being the much-touted Iron Man (which I've yet to see so don't spoil it!) and Batman Begins (not only the best Batman movie ever, but one of the best movies ever made in my opinion).

Haven't you ever asked yourself, 'How cool would it be to have a superpower?
One question that always pops into our minds (ok, my mind) when watching these movies is, how cool would it be to have that power? How cool would it be to have a super-power at all! But what super-power would be best?

Well today, I give you that answer.

I thought long and hard about what powers would be most useful and powerful and there's many to choose from (Telekinesis, Mind-Reading, Shapeshifting, Illusion, and on and on). The problem is that each has a weakness or a situation that renders it useless.

Illusions don't work on machines and won't help you stop a bullet or save your darling as she plummets to her death from a tall building. So maybe go to Telekinesis to save your falling damsel, stop the bullet, and toss those robotic enforcers across the horizon, but then what about that secret poison needle that your "darling" is planning to betray you with? Mind-reading will come in very handy here, but is no good for attack dogs, Mexican wrestlers, or being pushed out of an Airplane. You see how this can go on for a while…

One superpower to rule them all...

Anyway, after long and hard deliberation, I've come up with a power that would fit nearly every need and be useful for everything from falling pianos to sticking your foot in your mouth. Undo.

That's right, undo. Imagine:

You spend four hours haggling on the price of a car and take it just a little too far. Undo the last thing you said and try again.

The red and blue lights flash behind you, undo, slow down, pass the speed trap, speed back up to 92 miles per hour.

Three words: Stocks, Racetrack, Vegas

Think of the possibilities!

Your wife gave you specific instructions to keep the dog in while she was gone, but during the game, someone comes to your door to tell you they just ran over a dog and they think it's yours. Undo, pause the game, get the dog, resume the game.

A guy breaks into your house which you find out only after they're standing over your bed with a gun telling you to "get up mutha*****!!". Undo, meet them at the door with a shotgun.

You just stepped off a curb and the blare of a horn announces your imminent grisly demise at the hands of a truck's grill. Undo, stay at the curb and let the truck pass.

And it doesn't have to be just once. If you turn down a street and get mugged only to undo and try a different street and get mugged again, go back a little earlier to when you left the hotel and take a cab instead.

If there's a limit to how far you can go, it's based mostly on how much of your life you want to relive. Maybe you just want to try the whole day over again. Maybe you made a horrible mistake a week ago, but didn't realize it until just now. Maybe you developed cancer months ago and if they had known then, you'd have survived. UNDO!

The Super-hero Gig

Maybe you can't stop a bank robbery, but you'd be able to call the SWAT team in at just the right time. Maybe you can't stop a meteor from coming down on your house, but you can back up a week and say, "Let's move! RIGHT NOW". You can't stop the violence in Iraq, but you could certainly help as an informant and keep yourself from getting killed if you went there.

Sure you don't get the glory of being in tights and impressing the all the chicks, but you'll never have to worry about missing a deadline, saying the wrong thing, being in the wrong place, or betting on the wrong horse.

The only two questions left are, what do you call yourself and is there any type of super-villain that could defeat you?

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Detecting Fake Photos

Don't worry, it's not real
(Image used under: Fair Use doctrine)

MIT is working on software that analyzes the surfaces in photos to see if the light patterns all match in order to detect fakes.

Many fraudulent images are created by combining parts of two or more photographs into a single image. When the parts are combined, the combination can sometimes be spotted by variations in the lighting conditions within the image. An observant person might notice such variations, Johnson says; however, "people are pretty insensitive to lighting."

Another technique is to check the grain of the photo for irregularities. When an object is placed within a photo, the new object will have differing grain from the original (though there are ways to reduce and eliminate this).

If you're wondering why this matters, check out these examples of how fake photos can be drastically harmful:

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