Monday, May 31, 2010

Enjoying things that not many others like...

I think I've made a life out of liking things that not many others around me are into. First and foremost, as a hockey fan, I'm a sheer anomaly in this area. I like the New York Islanders, not the prototypical Montreal Canadiens or the Toronto Maple Laffs.

I don't like the Boston REd Sox or New York Yankees, I like the Toronto Blue Jays. My favorite Movie isn't Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter, it's the Crow (a must see, Comic book fans!).

Anyway, I've noticed a trend in my gaming tastes recently too, in that I enjoy games that haven't been rated very well. Take for example a game I've mentioned numerous times here, Spider-man Web of Shadows. It got generally bad ratings (metacritic has it at 65 out of 100) but I love this game so much that it ranks #2 in my collection behind the mighty Mass Effect in number of playthroughs. (3 so far to Mass Effects' 6). The next game I've really taken to and it's gotten really poor reviews is Dead to Rights: Retribution (Metacritic has it at 61 out of 100). This, by all accounts, is a generic, run of the mill piece of crap dumped out because it might make a quick buck. It has very little depth, very poor story, and controls strangely. This of course, is all someone else's opinion. ME, on the other hand, can take each of those points and counterpoint. The game is generic and has a poor story in that it is a cop who fights and shoots his way through a gang riddled city in search of clues to his father's death. He can fight. He can shoot.

Hello. Anybody getting that "throwback 80's vibe"? I LOVE IT. The Story is ripped right out of a Steve Seagal movie and I LOVE IT. How many games recently have shamelessly done this? Let's look at my playlist (It is RATHER large >>that's what she said<<). :P Ahem. Anyway, there's Final Fantasy 13. We need not speak more about it's wierd story. There's Bioshock 2. Under the sea strange story. Batman Arkham asylum. Brilliantly done, but it IS just a Batman Story. AvP. Military in Space. Mass Effect. Space Opera. Mass Effect 2. Ditto. Alan Wake. Dear God it's complicated. Nothin' wrong with any of these at all, they are just trying to tell a more complex story. But with Dead to Rights, it's enjoyable to me because of the "less is more" principle. I don't need to go through the throws of major emotion, the thoughts of millions of hours of backtracking, of levelling, of anything. I just have to get from the start of the level to the end of a level with my pet dog that tears out badguy's gonads. (seriously... you even get an achievement for it called "Scrotality"... ick)

The control is easy enough. Punch. Kick. Shoot. Cover. Very basic stuff. The way I feel it was intended to be. I picked it up and played without even opening the game manual.

If you are looking for a game that won't take the world of time to finish and you want a quick romp of fun, check out games like this because simply put, a review is just some guy's opinion. Nothing more. Do you think that these people have doctrines in videogaming? Or were they like me or you who just played a lot and made a semi career out of talking about games? No matter. This is one of those "I got lucky from a blind buy". Check out Dead To Rights Retribution. On my grade scale, I'd give it a $59.99. Buy it used if you can, it's worth the dough.


I've been posting a lot of photos on flickr recently. I find it drives me, and gives me confidence in trying to be more creative with my photography. The neat little awards and accolades I've received have been great. My wife has put up maybe 7 shots, and gotten rewards on ALL of them. She likes to chase my cats around the house and get them doing cute things. She's gotten a lot of confidence out of people simply saying "neat" or "nice shot". Thanks to everyone who has commented on our photos. :)


There are now 3 official dealers for GO Maps. If you are interested, stop by the website, or drop into one of the shops. They are available at the following places.

Coastal Marine (Mt. Pearl near the Paradise overpass)
Boyd Slade Electronics (Near the Foxtrap Access Road on the CBS Highway)
Wade Atlantic (Water Street West, downtown St. John's)

This is the off season for GPS users really, so each shop is only carrying a barebones quantity of the maps. I always have some on hand, so if you find that they are sold out, simply contact me directly.


Thanks and see you next time.


Thursday, May 27, 2010

Deciding on what to get next for the camera

(Feel free to skip this post if you aren't into photography)

I'm here now looking at what could possibly be the two most useless websites ever, Phototec's and Newfoundland Camera's. If I were to go by what the site has, neither store carries anything other than UV and Polarizing filters and $1000 lenses.

I've decided to go with filters first, as lenses are freakin' expensive. I think a lense is going to be a once at a time, maybe once every 6 to 10 month expenditure, unless I find some sort of fantastic used deal. I really want a better zoom lens, as all I have right now is the kit 18-55mm and a 35-80mm. I find I like the 35-80 better, the shutter speed is nice and I like the higher zoom.

So, back to filters. I want a Macro Filter and a Neutral Density filter to start off with. I can buy them locally at a relatively inexpensive price, or get them off of ebay for a super cheap price, but risk getting burned with either a poor quality filter or not having it show up at all. (I currently have 3 different ebay auctions that have never shown up). The neutral density effect on running water is something I truly love. There are different grades of ND filters, with an ND4 seemingly being the most common. The Macro Filter is something to behold for me as well. I absolutely LOVE macro photography (see some of my previous posts). After we get the house painted, the next step is to start putting prints up around the place, and a BUNCH of them will be Macro shots.

If any of my readers are photographers and are willing to sell any old lenses they may have, let me know! I'm not above owning a used lens. :) You likely know how to contact me so gimme a call or an email and we'll work something out.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

May 25th, Part Deux

So today is a much better day than many before it. I have really been feeling burned out with work. We got really busy far earlier than we were used to this year (our busy season usually hit AFTER May 2-4). I was falling behind. Due to the day off for everyone that wasn't paid, I decided to go in and make up the time rather than go a day without pay. (briefly mentioned in last post). I did what felt like 4 days worth of work in 6 hours. It was insane, I was in the zone. Now, after some r n r time and getting that work done, I feel like a million bucks.
I had a wonderful photo shoot out in Foxtrap on the main highway (I'm pretty sure it was foxtrap, may have been Long Pond) Saturday past. It was a little chilly but not bad for the time of year. The shoot is aptly named "Weeds" as it was mostly of a little weed pond right no the main CBS Highway. Funny though, the best shot I got out of it all was a quick image from the other side of the road, of a little red well. I would have shot it a little closer, but it was private land and it seems every fool up that way with a plot of land seems to want to have a gigantic guard mutt. I'm really feeling the pinch of a less than stellar zoom lens. :(
As you can see, it is still a relatively nice scene, with the red bard and the ocean in the background. Thank you Photoshop for letting this look a little warmer too. :)

I recently just learned how ignorant I've been to lens quality and information as well. On each lense it has the f-stop listing. The lens I used for this shoot, the kit lens which has a 18-55mm with f4-5.6, I had been shooting away with and kept wondering why my shots which looked GREAT through the viewfinder were coming out less than stellar. I'd shoot something at f32 with a shutter speed of say 10. In the viewfinder I'd see this great image of whatever I was shooting with the background neatly blurred out and a crisp view of the focus of the shot. I'd look at that same shot after and it would all be in focus and the image would only be "ok". Well, this is BECAUSE THE LENS CAN ONLY DO F4-5.6 APPARENTLY. My blatant ignorance... gah.

In gaming, lending credence to "the only story you need in a video game is 'sorry Mario, the princess is in another castle'", Super Mario Galaxy 2 has been worldly renowned, given 100% scores by many, MANY legitimate media outlets. In hearing this, my wife decided to go out and get it, hence I shall lose my gaming time for the foreseeable future, as both the Wii and 360 reside upon the same, unfortunately non-HD television. She sat down with it Sunday and hasn't looked back. The game is interactive for a viewing party, such as myself as I can assist Mario by grabbing stars and freezing baddies so he has a slightly easier time of things. Visually it's basically the same as the first, but it's quite imaginative and very different than most any game I've ever experienced. Go Nintendo, for pushing the envelope.

I still did get a chance to try out a couple of games the weekend, Red Dead Redemption for 360 and Neir for PS3. To be honest, I just didn't like either of them, as I really am not into cowboys and indians (sorry RDR, otherwise you are a good game!) and Neir is pure generic fantasy action with no real redeeming or memorable qualities. I was actually hoping to get my hands on a copy of Heavy Rain, but sadly the rental at Rogers was out. :( NEXT TIME, GADGET! NEXT TIME!

I haven't played Alan Wake since the second day I got it. I got a little discouraged by how difficult it can get, so I put it away so I wouldn't start to hate it. Once my wife is done with her Mario fix (they typically only last a few days) then I will likely put it back in. I still have to finish Final Fantasy 13, Bioshock 2, Dark Void, Bionic Commando... oh the list goes on and on. I love being a gamer. :)

That's it this day, good readers. Soldier on and make it to yet another, far too short weekend. :)


PS: Isn't it great at how the saltiness of a nacho goes SO WELL with a well made pot of chili?

Feel better at work, take a day and catch up

I took a day this weekend to catch up (thanks to the unpaid holiday...)at work and I have to say, I feel SOOO much better now. I can take my 15 minute break guilt free if I want to! Less pressure is MUCH better.

I would recommend it to anyone.

More later!


Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Fans of Blogmania, lend me your ear...

Well, it's been long enough that I can no longer consider blogging to feel like work. It's just after 12 on a beautiful day where people in the world over will be dawdling, dilly dallying and wasting time which makes it a PeRFeCT time to blog. There's been lots going on since my last "weak" blog entry about a week ago.

Go Maps is definitely a go now. With 2 dealers on board, and one about to jump on the band wagon, the product is well on the road to success. Now, just waiting on the financial gains, and we're really rolling. Check out the updated website at It's no longer an embarrassment, and it also has comparison screens now!
There is nothing new in photography. I haven't been out on a shoot in a while now, since I went out with my god son actually. I did notice in the "big" year end competition, most photos weren't natural. There was a LOT of post processed over saturated shots. They looked fantastic, but to me, I felt it was a teeny bit like cheating. Yes, it's all about having the best image in the end, but why not take a shot that is beautiful to begin with, and be less concerned with "faking it" afterwards? I can take the shittiest shot in the world and make it bearable in photoshop (I've done it with some of my own work! :P) but in the end it feels like a graphics job to me, not a photography piece.
In gaming, my wife has been harping on me about

"the only story one needs for a video game is 'I'm sorry Mario, but the princess is in another castle!'"
As you can tell, she is a big time Mario fan, as a lot of gamers are. To be honest with you, if you distill it down to it's core idea, it's still a very predominant idea in gaming today. Yes, Princess peach has been kidnapped so many times now that it should be called "adultnapped", but it's always an endearing story that lends itself well to a game. That one basic story crops up in other games too. Alan Wake, for instance, has the protagonist trying to save his missing wife in a supernatural thriller. It's far less kidcentric than mario, but the theme is still the same.
Speaking of Alan Wake, I've just started playing that one, and so far it's great. However, to me, it's just Silent Hill with a different name. Dark settings, desolate out of the way town, wierd monsters, et-al. The story is perfectly creepy, the environments are amazing. It's too bad when the characters talk the lipsyncing is so terrible that you feel like you are watching Team America World Police marionette dolls. It's easily the WORST since last generation gaming. Why not just not have the characters move their mouths at all if you can't figure out how to do it properly? (If you can't, FOR SHAME). The game itself came with some fun swag in the sense of XBoX avatar t-shirts and a Premium Theme. I love that stuff.
With that I'll move into a conversation I had over on my friend's message board about Collectors Editions and how much junk that comes with them that's passed off as "fantastic, collectible, and worth something". So, what does anyone do with the artbook that comes with the game after flipping through it once? The "making of" dvd's sometimes pop up. They stopped putting that stuff in dvd's because nobody cared about them.
Here's an excerpt of what I wrote in saying what I feel "Should" go in a CE. I reference the new Fallout New Vegas Collectors Edition, that comes with an artbook, a dvd, a handful of poker chips and a deck of cards.

When I say junk, I look at the CE games I've bought in recent memory (outside of Mass Effect 2) and you know what has happened to the figurines, the art books, the soundtracks, etc...?

Assassin's Creed 2 - Great extra game content, figurine, artbook, etc. ALL given away when I moved.
Darksiders - Collector comic book with game art - Used as a coaster for drinks until thrown out. 2nd copy given to me is still in the humpty buried under controllers.
Afro Samurai - Figurine given away
God of War - Action Figure given away
The reason I give away or throw out most of it is because simply said, I guess I don't appreciate it as much. What am I going to do with a great looking Ezio figurine? Look at it? I smile and look at it the first week I had it, thought it was amazingly cool, and then said "what now?" A collector at work now appreciates it far more than me.
The collectors edition games that come with in game content, I LOVE that stuff. Two great mission areas for Assassin's Creed 2. Cool armor and guns for Mass Effect 2. If the content is useful, like the random t-shirt you might get (Resident Evil: Darksider or whatever it was called) had really well designed t-shirts.
I guess where I know how much many of this stuff costs to make (those fantastic artbooks cost about $1 or less to make each when mass quantities are made, including labor, the first non poseable figurine or bust you get costs a couple thousand to the maker, then each successive one costs about 50 cents, dvd's and cd's are pressed for pennies, and so on) and then I wonder "what will I do with it after the first week and the coolness has worn off", and then to me it's all just stuff that ends up in flea markets and landfills.
So, to illustrate what I think would be a GREAT Collectors edition:

1. The game with PREMIUM content, like a funky gun, armor, or different skins for characters.
2. A different case to signify the game IS actually the CE. Good example is Mass Effect 2 or Fallout 3. A Poor example is Bioshock 2.3. A second disk with deleted sections of the game that are PLAYABLE. Like a deleted scenes thing on most dvd's.
4. Also on said second disk, perhaps a copy of the first game in a trilogy if it's game three and game one was on a previous generation system. See: Mortal Kombat Deception. Came with Mortal Kombat 1 on a second disk.
5. Perhaps a throw in that's actually useful, like a skin for a controller. see: NHL 2K9, came with 30 skins for the wii-mote for each nhl team
The most expensive thing for ANY of this would be the different case, as most of the other stuff is already designed anyway.

I'm by FAR not against Collectors Editions. But pawning off a deck of cards and a handful of poker chips with a crap dvd and artbook is just not worth the likely 30+ dollars extra people will be paying for said collectors edition. Put good stuff in, and I'll jump on that bandwagon.

The things I like in Collectors Editions are the things that actually make the game "more", not just a bunch of crap that sits on a shelf collecting dust and eventually disappears. One man's junk is another man's treasure, I guess. But think about it for a moment. What will you do with an Assassin's Creed Figurine of Ezio, which is non posable, after you've looked at it once and said "cool"? It'll sit on a shelf, forgotten.
Oh! Check out a few movies that I've watched recently. You'll enjoy them.

- Iron Man 2
- Daybreakers
- Black Dynamite (hysterical)
- The Losers (this was far more entertaining than I could have ever imagined)

I Love Movies. I miss them. I'll be watching more. :)

See you next time!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Today blogging just feels like a job.

So, I will keep this brief. :)

I sat down with an expert snowmobiler last night and he gave me some GREAT insights on my GPS maps for Lowrance. This will make my maps far more useful, and MORE mine. Anyway I can differentiate myself from my previous employer's product, the better. I have put and enormous amount of work into this and would NOT want to be mistaken for theirs.

The big "end of year" photo competition is tonight. Sadly, I can just "drop and go" as I'm swamped tonight but I do look forward to seeing what I'm up against. The photos I've chosen for submission are great, but all point and click shots. I hope they stand up well, but to be included in this class is almost an honor for me. These people are super talented.

Anyway, that's it for today. :D


Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Photography is fun. So why not do it? :)

This past weekend I was given the sheer pleasure of practicing "creative exposure" with my god son on a warm and beautiful day at Topsail beach. It was his first time there so he was all aglow with smiles and amazement at the rocks and surf, which I managed to capture quite a few times. I haven't gotten into too much post processing with them thus far. acouple of the good ones looked a little overexposed, but upon further inspection it was his babywhite skin and a bright day. You can actually see the little wrinkles on his skin, even in the supposed hotspots. I just have to tone down the shots some to make them look a little better. A lot of his face shots are shaded, but it's because he found the sun a bit bright so he was always looking away from it. This is livable and believable, so I may just leave that touch in there.

The practice I was getting was for a little exercise in the book "Understanding Exposure" by Brian Peterson. It talks about having your stops and shutter speeds at different levels to give you the correct exposure while giving you different depth of fields (Forgive me, any of you who are better at this than me, if I said that wrong!:P). I did get some fun shots, but in the end all they were doing were allowing the key focus of the shot (my godson) become MORE of the focus of the picture, with the backgrounds blurring out ever so slightly on each successive step. My next creative exposure experiment will be Thomas Amusements at Night. Some of the fantastic light patterns and colors I should get there will be very interesting indeed.


Final Fantasy 13 is a real anomaly of a game. By rights, I should absolutely hate it. The long long run of linearity should have killed me, but it didn't. The next fault of the game, the "grind" of level building for my characters, is something that made me stop playing World of Warcraft. However, I just love this game. I want to develop my characters, the story, while convoluted, is fun. The battle system, as the characters grow, gets more and more fun. The baddies, while not as varied as I like, are interesting and worth a look at, and some can be particularly intimidating! (See behemoth king... ouch when he stands up!)

Even though I know this game isn't for everyone, as it does get a bit long (I just broke hour 36 of a suspected 60, 9 of which have been grinding) it's something everyone who calls themselves a gamer should at the very least try. The streamlined battle system is a breath of fresh air from the standard menu surfing of previous titles. The worlds are utterly amazing and can almost overwhelm you in detail.

Check it out.

That's it this day. Chat again soon.


Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Blogging for fun, The Purge of a Collection, Some Photography, and GO MAPS!

I think back to when I started blogging (all those 5 months ago) I said to myself that I would do this every day. It will be fun, therapeutic, and educational. Well, it seems I'm down to about twice a week, as it is a passtime for me when I am stuck at work for a day or something to do when I find 5 minutes at home. Even though I'm a little inconsistent in my scheduling, I think it's allowing me to have some more interesting blogs as opposed to a "this is what I did today".

So last week, I came home after a bad day at work, and looked around for ANY excuse to get out of the house. I looked at my game collection and said to myself "I do not play half of that shit" and decided to PURGE all games I knew I wasn't playing anymore. I ended up removing nearly HALF of the collection, most of which was worthless, and picking up one in exchange for it. There were some that the store wouldn't even take anymore. Somewhat telling of the quality of those titles me thinks. Anyway, I picked up the new Dead to Rights game, which, while generic, is like a guilty pleasure. It's like an old 80's action movie starring Steven Seagal or something. Lots of violence and action, thin plot, but damn fun. The only game I think I wish I hadn't traded was Oblivion, but it's a game that I can get on the trade wall, so it's not THAT big of a loss.
In talking games for a brief moment, I'll mention Final Fantasy 13 again. Even though I've gotten through to the open world (a feat in itself) I'm now in a region that I need to bulk up for, as my characters can barely survive a fight, and in some cases, cannot survive a fight with what is generally the run of the mill villain for the area. So, I'm left to what can be deemed "the grind", killing hundreds and hundreds of the baddies I CAN kill, and hoping that I will be able to take on some of the tougher ones a little later on. I hate the grind, honestly, but given how invested I am now in the story, it becomes far more livable.

I started dealing with creative exposures with my wonderful new camera recently. I'm still somewhat limited in the lenses I have, but have still managed a few decent shots and advanced my skill level with the SLR styled camera. The experience of using an SLR camera for me feels far more "organic" and free flowing. The point and click is a great camera, but I feel so much more free, with so many options, having to slow down and really think about what I'm doing rather than snapping shots with reckless abandonment. I've learned the joy of manual settings on the camera, FINALLY. The auto settings now feel so... limiting. Thanks go out to Geoff and Jennifer for all the great tips and tricks. I know it seems I mention them a bit and it almost feels like brown nosing. :S But... it's incredible for someone like me with such limited experience in this style of photography to have people who are seemingly joyfully willing to pass on some of what they've learned without wanting anything in return, and to me it's their just dues that they get at LEAST a thank you. :)

and Finally for today, we MUST talk a little about Go Maps, my little GPS map enterprise. Things are going well for them so far, as I've been able to wrangle down a lot of interest from local businesses for carrying them. With one confirmed dealer in my back pocket and three other likely dealers, things are looking good for the product. It's something that has been a passion of mine since I worked on the maps at the now defunct M F Kelly Ltd (now Cansel, a Survey Company Dealership). I've been poking at them for personal use for some time now and with me being in the clear to go a little further with it now, it's become a shear joy seeing a final product finally seeing light of day. I have product now available for Lowrance GPS receivers, in 1:50000 scale (good for skidooers and ATV enthusiasts) and 1:250000 scale (good for hikers and photographers). The 1:50000 scale retail for $109.95 and the 1:250000 retail for $89.95. If any groups or associations are interested in the product, I do have wholesale quantity pricing available as well. You can contact me through here, my gmail, my facebook (which this blog is advertised in), or most importantly through the website I have up for it, I've been notified that some virus scanners on high alert seem to think the site is dangerous. Preposterous... go to the settings and make it an "allowed site". It's just some basic PHP, with NO scripting, NO popups, NO ads or banners, NO porn, just good old fashioned GPS maps. BTW: forgive the bad design, the whole site was done in 1 hour. There will be upgrades in the coming days. Pass the word! I give a cut to anyone who brings me a sale. :D

Thanks for reading folks. Back soon enough.


Sunday, May 2, 2010

Final Fantasy 13... further impressions, & GPS maps

I finally made it out of the dreaded "30 hour" trench run in Final Fantasy 13 and I gotta say, the only part I found "bad" about it was the first 10 or so hours. The next 16 hours (as I did the run in about 26 hours, not 30) was quite entertaining. My favorite character in the game was originally Vanille, as she was kind of like a light in a gloomy, dreadful world. Now it is Fang, as she is quite the bad ass with some serious fighting skills.

I do wish that the trench run was shorter, I think that about 10 to 15 hours would have done fine in setting up story and building characters, but in general, I do feel better about playing this game than any of the previous couple of games. FF12 got pretty overwhelming, FF 11 was simply stupid World of Warcraft in gay tights, and FFX was really confusing. This one, while it has it's faults, gets to be quite an experience.

The battle system gets to be fun after you can have 3 members in your battle team as opposed to 2 for the first bit. The combination of skills and abilities makes for a great light show and you feel like you are actually doing something rather than just menu surfing like other RPG's. The eidolons, or summons, really aren't that useful, as I tend to not even bother with them when I fight. (I noticed that was the same in 12 as well). They aren't the be all end all like they were in Final Fantasy 7 (still the most awesome of the series). I still remember Ifrit in FF7 for the first time and saying "wow".

The story is pretty convoluted, but not near as bad as say... Final Fantasy X. Lots going on, strange terms, names, et al. But... It starts to make sense when they drop in story elements here
and there. When you finally reach Grand Pulse, you will have a good idea as to what is going on and what to do.

I will post more thoughts on my next blog post sometime this week.


Go Maps is a GO! High detailed GPS maps that are great for Ski-Dooers, ATV enthusiasts, hikers and photographers, will be available this week at Coastal Marine in Mt. Pearl, near the overpass to Paradise. They will retail for $109.95 and will be available for Garmin and Lowrance GPS units. There will be a website up to promote them this week as well.


That's it for this post.