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Showing posts from March, 2014

OK Google why do you want me to go to that creepy place?

Google Now keeps directing me to a spot in some isolated woods near my home. I am pretty sure I have never visited that spot.  Is Google trying to tell me something? This intelligent personal assistant is also convinced that the only blog I read on a regular basis is Greedy Goblin though I have never subscribed to him. At least I have finally managed to convince the oracle to stop giving me a daily blast of profanity from the Urban Dictionary. For years I tried to resist the ever more intrusive data gathering of Google, Facebook and similar services but a few months back I bowed to the inevitable. Accepting that Google, GCHQ  and the NSA already have more than enough information to profile, analyse and categorise every single aspect of my on-line existence I decided to go all in and at least try to get some benefit out of it. I started a new Google+ account in my own name to which I linked my email accounts and web searches. I switched to the Chrome browser and turned on location sha

I can't find stuff in my Steam library any more.

I have almost 300 games in my Steam library an I appear to have crossed a threshold where it is now genuinely difficult to find a particular game among the multitude. I can search for a game if I know part of the title but sadly even that simple hurdle often defeats my middle aged brain. "What is the name of that strategy game I picked up on sale last week ...grrrgh". The built in filters: Games, Software, Recent, Installed and Favourites are very little help. (Recent means recently played and not recently acquired). I have started using the Favourites label to tag games I am particularly keen to find later but if I had no interest in playing a game at all I probably wouldn't add it to Steam in the first place. I do try to rein in my acquisitive tendencies when buying new games but holiday sales and gaming bundles have thwarted my efforts. I do have a personal rule not to buy a game unless there is a real chance I will play it in the near future. Holiday sales present

How to Find Hidden Gems of Gaming.

One of my pet things is to try and find hidden gaming gems. Game that garnered mediocre reviews on release but are actually excellent none the less.  I wrote a pretty good summary of my method in a long response to a recent post on the Kill Ten Rats blog. For completeness I am reprinting that comment with slight edits here as a post. If you have any suggestions of your own to add to the list I would be delighted to hear from you. I fully agree that meta critic has become an essential aid to sorting through the overwhelming bounty of games available in bundle sales these days. It has become something of a hobby of mine however to try and find overlooked gems: games that received mediocre reviews but are actually very enjoyable. Tell tale signals that a game may rise above its meta-critic score are 1. A game in a genre that I like with an aggregate score (critics or users) above 60 may be worth considering. An aggregate score below 60 from both groups is likely to be irr

Whatever happened to that passing fad called e-books?

Four of the last five books that I read were old fashioned paperbacks. I realise that the global e-book market is doing just fine without me but I am curious to know why, despite living in a household awash with e-readers, tablets and smart phones I find myself migrating back to paper. What surprises me most about my reverting back to paper is that I was an enthusiastic adopted of e-books a few years ago and I have written several blog posts about it. The small size of e-readers is a big plus for me because I do most of my reading sitting on public transport while travelling to or from work and an e-reader is far easier to carry round than a bulky paperback. I also firmly believe there is an economic inevitability that ebooks will displace paper books in the relatively near future but I think there are reasons why my personal ebook conversion has slowed. The first big issue for me is book discovery. This has at least two facets: the number of places that I can discover new books t

Why I am spending a good part of my weekend struggling with a backup scheme.

I continually struggle with the best means of keeping our personal digital information safely backed up. I recently upgraded my wife's photography PC to a 4Tb hdd and it is taking several days to transfer all files and set up an appropriate back up regime. How do other people with less patience that I have manage this? First a confession: I do not back up my own files any more. I have handed over responsibility for doing so to Google, Microsoft and Dropbox. However my wife is a keen amateur photographer who generates hundreds of gigabytes worth of images every year and cloud storage would be prohibitively expensive for this amount of data. At first glance the problem and solution are fairly straightforward because there is actually only one practical and economically feasible method of backing up a multi terabyte hard disk: copy the files to a USB connected external hard disk. Unfortunately even this apparently simple approach turns out to be more complex than it first appears:

What I've been playing

I am still working through the bounty of Christmas game sales. Dragon completely enthralled me once again for all of January and well into February. I started with the new to me expansion "Awakenings" but then I went back and did a complete play through of the original game. There is still hours of content left in the DLCs if I ever feel inclined to dip back in. I spent a few days playing with Far Cry 3 Blood Dragon. This is a very clever re-skinning of the original Far Cry 3 which ports the action from tropical island to a Sci Fi dystopia complete with laser shooting dragons. I liked it and I liked the setting but it didn't hold my attention long enough to do a complete playthrough. Sticking with Crytek I played through the single player campaign of Crysis 3. I thought it was very good with all the flexibility and free roaming that Crysis 2 had abandoned. You have a multitude of choices as to how to overcome your enemies ranging from a stealthy bow to all out explo