disconnection and reconnection

May 21, 2013


So I replaced my broken hard drive over the weekend.

I’ve never been a fixer.   I’ve never had a mechanically-inclined mind.  When I played with Legos as a child, I never created things – I gained intense pleasure from building the thing that was on the cover of the box, following the instructions to the letter, and that was the extent of my creativity with physical objects.   (This is, I think, a reason why Minecraft holds no appeal for me.)

So, yeah; I had a busted hard drive and absolutely no idea how to fix it, and even less desire to learn.   The broken hard drive was a $100 problem; if I tried to fix it and ended up breaking something else, I’d then have a $1000 problem, and that’s just not something I can deal with right now.   So early last week I’d asked my Facebook friends for advice, and a friend of mine who lives in the neighborhood offered to fix it, but at the last minute he had to cancel and wouldn’t be able to help until next week, and I knew I’d start to go insane if I had to go that long without a working PC.

So I put on my big-boy pants, sent the manual to my iPad (since our wireless printer is on the fritz, which is a problem I have NO idea how to solve), got myself a screwdriver, and prepared for the worst.

And 5 minutes later, my new hard drive was in place, and I was installing Windows 7 again, and now everything seems to be working quite well – better, in fact, than it was before the old hard drive failed.  (The PC had been having very weird problems for quite a while, actually – so, in a way, this was a boon.)

The new PC is strictly a gaming machine now – the only applications it’s running are Google Chrome, Spotify, and Steam.   (Previously it had also been running ProTools… until, for some strange reason, it couldn’t run it anymore.)

Let me interrupt myself here to say this:  I love the cloud.  I finally get the cloud.  There wasn’t really all that much on my PC that I needed to save, and it was backed up on an external hard drive anyway, but truth be told everything I’d be using on this PC is either in Google Drive, Spotify, or Steam, and I didn’t need my external hard drive for any of that stuff.

The only real pain in the ass is rebuilding my Steam library, and it’s only a pain in the ass to the extent that my download speeds aren’t where I want them to be.  (They generally average around 2.5 MPS, but sometimes they just conk out completely.)  But I’ve also realized that I don’t need to download everything.  Before my old hard drive failed, I had over 100 games installed.  This time around I’m just going to stick to the essentials, the stuff I may have already beaten but still enjoy wandering around in.  (Cloud saves are great, by the way.  I’m finding that I’m less inclined to re-download stuff where there are no cloud saves – Far Cry 3, for example.)

I have more to say, specifically about being disappointed by Metro Last Light and about feeling disconnected from gaming in general, but the XBOX event is about to happen and I suspect my tune may change considerably once that’s over with, for some reason.

and now a brief bit of self-promotion

May 14, 2013

I’m very excited to announce that my very first solo album, “UNTRUE SONGS”, is now available for purchase, should that be something you wish to do.

http://jeremyvoss.bandcamp.com/

UntrueSongscover1

This is a collection of songs, sketches and loops written and recorded over the last 8 years or so; I picked the best 15 out of, say, 100 or so… cleaned them up a bit, trimmed a little fat, tried to put them in some sort of order that made sense, and, well, here you go.  I hope you enjoy it.


May 13, 2013

I know posting’s been light around here lately, and so this post is here to explain that, unfortunately, it’s going to be light for considerably longer than I’d anticipated, as I woke up Sunday morning to see an error message on my PC indicating that my hard drive failed, and that I needed to back my shit up IMMEDIATELY and then turn everything off and don’t come back until a new hard drive is ready to be installed.  I then spent around an hour with Dell customer support in an attempt to get a second opinion, and, well, yes – my hard drive is toast.  Now, they tell me I ordered a new hard drive and some free Windows 7 installation discs, but I haven’t yet seen an email confirming any of this.  So either my new drive shows up on the 20th, or else… it doesn’t, and I have to start paying attention to my newborn son on a more regular basis.  (Joke.)

As the PC was becoming my primary – well, only – gaming hub, this is a real kick in the balls.  My 3DS isn’t doing much for me, I still don’t have a lot of console time, and my iPhone 4 is dying a very slow death and running everything verrrrrrrry slow, which renders it pretty much useless as far as subway gaming goes.

Not that I was doing a tremendous amount of gaming anyway, to be honest.  I’d mostly been dabbling in a bunch of things – the PC port of Fez (which I still love, but which is a weird game to replay after over a year), a few mid-game missions in Saints Row the Third (because I needed a little bit of mindless fun to suit my sleep-deprived state), the first level in Metro 2033 (because I’m curious about this week’s sequel and realized I’d never played the first one even though it was sitting in my Steam library all this time), and a little bit of Monaco (which I want to like a lot more than I actually am).  I guess the biggest thing that I ought to mention is that I picked up System Shock 2 when it came out on Steam last week, and I played it for around 30 minutes or so – long enough to sorta get the hang of it, while also being confronted with the sad reality that even the best games of yesteryear do not age very well.

Anyhoo.  My rental copy of Metro Last Light for the 360 should be arriving later this week, and I’ll see if I can fit that in during the wait between twilight feedings of the wee one.  But that’s pretty much it, as far as gaming goes, here at SFTC HQ.

a few words on intimidation, over-compensation, and apathy

April 25, 2013


This post might be a little rambly and random; last night the baby had, to put it kindly, an “uneven night’s sleep.”  I keep thinking I’m getting used to his sleeping patterns, but then every other day those patterns change into something totally different, and I get totally derailed.  It’s funny; I used to complain that I didn’t have enough hours in the day to do all the stuff I need to do; but now it feels like each 24-hour day actually lasts for, say, 72 hours, and yet I feel more and more incapacitated.

As always, Steve Martin says it a lot better:

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A few nights ago I attended a small, informal meeting of the NYVCC.  It was a very pleasant evening and I met some super cool people and I might be getting involved in some interesting-sounding future projects, and so this is all wonderful… but to be honest I was just happy that I didn’t totally chicken out and not go.  Social anxiety is still a very real pain in my ass, and even though I’ve gone to great lengths to overcome it (thank you, Ativan!), it’s still a source of frustration and agitation.  Still:  I showed up, which counts as a victory of sorts.

Of course, I should also mention that among the attendees were people who write for sites and outlets that I actually read on a semi-regular basis, and so I found myself engaged in this weird sort of social anxiety dance in which I was  somewhat intimidated by the pedigree of my fellow peers and thus desperately over-compensating by spewing forth opinions that may or may not have been a little half-baked.  It is an exceedingly strange phenomenon to find oneself pontificating about certain issues in front of the very people who provided one with the information in the first place, and so I am glad that I was a little drunk so as to dull the vertigo a bit, even if it loosened my tongue a bit too much.  Maybe next time I’ll remember to eat something first.

 *     *     *     *     *

It came out yesterday that Microsoft will be revealing its new console in less than a month.  Why don’t I care?

I’m not necessarily an Xbox fanboy, but the truth is that at least 80% of my game time this generation was spent on the 360, primarily because that’s where the bulk of my friends were.  And so I figured I’d get a bit more excited about hearing what’s next… but I’m finding myself surprisingly apathetic about what the big reveal will be.

I’m not sure it’s Microsoft’s fault, actually, even if Sony’s made tremendous strides of late in terms of courting and supporting indie developers (which is the very thing that XboxLive used to pride itself on).

I suppose it’s really just me and how my life has changed in the last few weeks.  Having a baby – and the financial repercussions that follow from such an event – means that I’m not sure I’m going to be acquiring both a PS4 and a new Xbox, and if I can only pick one, then I need to pick the one that will offer the most bang for the buck.  (And if we’re being brutally honest here, my choice between the Xbox and the PS4 becomes more or less null and void if the much-rumored Steam Box is actually a real thing and is sold at a reasonable price point.)

And I’m not even sure I know how to define “the most bang for the buck”, either.  I presume that both devices will continue to offer streaming video services, and that the new Xbox will come with a Blu-ray drive.  I also presume that both devices will have some sort of cloud-based storage system, and also that each will have a digital storefront that would allow me to download new games instead of buying discs.

Once again, it comes down to content.  And Sony’s been terrific lately in terms of offering exclusive, high-quality content.  And if the rumors are true and the PS4 is as easy to program for as the PS3 was difficult, then maybe the PS4 version of a multi-console release won’t be the “shitty” one.

But – again – if we’re talking about content, then what’s better than Steam right now?

If I look at my play habits over the last 6 months, I think it’s safe to say I’ve turned into a PC gamer almost exclusively; I’ve barely touched either of my consoles.  The living room of my apartment is too busy a place these days for me to effectively kick everybody out; whereas my PC is in the office, where I don’t bother anyone and nobody bothers me.  My aging PC still runs AAA games quite nicely, and Steam sales make acquiring those AAA games rather affordable.

And you know what else?  I don’t quite care about Xbox Achievements the way I used to, which is a huge psychological burden that I don’t have to worry about anymore.  It’s stupid, right?  And yet I always felt obligated to get big Achievement scores so as to be able to prove (to whom?!) that I was hardcore, or something.  Even if Steam has achievements, I don’t really care – there’s no “score”, and they don’t get all up in my face about it.  I still appreciate how Achievements fundamentally changed the way I play games – in terms of really diving in and exploring certain facets of a game that I might have otherwise overlooked – but I’m not hyper-competitive about the actual number anymore.

I suppose I reserve the right to completely change my opinion once the new Xbox is revealed, and then after E3 rolls around and the actual list of upcoming games comes out – because by the time the new consoles are actually released, I expect my son to have established some more regular sleeping habits, and so I won’t feel so guilty about claiming the living room again.

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