WoW Classic Is Back. And I Like It.

The big name in games is back in classic form. Who would have thought World of Warcraft Classic would be so popular on Twitch and with gamers alike. Blizzard certainly didn’t. So much so that they didn’t have enough servers on launch.

I have played World of Warcraft since about a year after the game launched and have sunk countless DAYS in to the massively multiplayer online role-playing game. Until WoW there just wasn’t a game like it that interested me though I did have my bouts with Guild Wars several times. I even tried Everquest. Bleh. Continue reading “WoW Classic Is Back. And I Like It.”

Stan Lee, Creator of Many of My Personal Favourite Heroes, Has Passed Away

Stan Lee, a man of incredible imagination and talent, has passed away at 95. While I think many knew he had less years ahead than he had behind him no one wanted to see him leave us behind.

Lee of course created a legacy of comic book and now TV and movie heroes that even non comic book fans have come to love.

Some of the heroes he has cultivated and created that I really appreciate include Captain America (even though I am Canadian), Iron Man (always love mech suits and this is the best), the Hulk (Hulk Smash! need I say more?), Spider Man (I was a huge fan of the 90s animated series), Daredevil (relatively new on my radar with the Netflix series), and Ant-Man (also recent with the new Paul Rudd movies).

Variety has a great background on Stan over on their site and rather than restating all of it here check out their coverage. 

Excelsior, Mr. Lee.

Virtual Reality On a Budget – Oculus Go

A couple years ago everyone was excited with the release of the Oculus Rift funded through Kickstarter and HTC’s Vive. Both are basically dumb high quality stereo displays with sophisticated sensors on board to detect what position your head and feet are in relation to things in a game.

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The HTC Vive.

Both the Rift and the Vive require a high end PC to be tethered to it to experience anything otherwise all you have is an expensive mound of sensors and displays. Continue reading “Virtual Reality On a Budget – Oculus Go”

Star Trek Discovery – First Season Thoughts

Star Trek has been my go to science fiction for a long time. Well at least until I discovered Stargate SG1 and Atlantis. Neither SG1 or Atlantis have the staying power of Star Trek.

This year we were given a new high-production mini-series to watch, Star Trek Discovery. Star Trek is near and dear to many a nerds heart and many poo-pooed the idea as soon as it was announced. Even I was not very excited.

But then I watched the show.

And it didn’t suck.

I did a “first impressions” post on this show when it launched and I was pretty happy with it then. Among a few choices I would have chosen to leave out. The constant talking in Klingon being one of them. While I appreciate the absolute nerdiness of that I don’t enjoy listening to that language.

Was there anything else I would have changed? Yep. Star Trek doesn’t need love scenes. Don’t care who you are you don’t need it. If you do you shouldn’t be watching Star Trek. This was annoying infatuation throughout the entire run of the series. Why does every female lead need to have a boyfriend? Seriously, this happens in way too many things.

Other than that, the special effects were incredible. The props were incredibly detailed. It was all very well executed.

Anyways, the second half of the season proved to be the reason to watch the show. The first half while interesting was a bit of a mess. The past of Captain Lorca catches up to everyone and we see some familiar faces.

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I gotta say the final touch for me was seeing the Enterprise hail the Discovery. Man they did a great job bring the constitution class from the Original Series in to this era.

My only regret is that these mini-series seasons are only supposed to focus on one era every season. It turns out I really want to see more from the crew of Discovery.

Star Trek Discovery is totally recommended.

Star Trek Discovery – My Thoughts

Like many nerds world-wide I have been waiting on a new Star Trek television series for ages. Since the demise of Enterprise no one was sure if we would actually see another show on the small screen.

Be warned. I am going to do my best to keep out any spoilers or really any information about the show so you can enjoy it yourself when you watch it. That means the following descriptions will be as intentionally vague as possible but I may unintentionally slip something out. Continue reading “Star Trek Discovery – My Thoughts”

Why I Still Use Bluray

Since the launch of the phonograph (and Edison’s wax wheel thingamabob) humankind has enjoyed listening to and eventually watching what was on those different types of media. Some of the most popular media formats in audio include the vinyl record, eight-track, cassette tape and the compact disc.

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On the video side we’ve had a bit of a shorter history. There were many kinds of film formats that were used for personal video camera recording but video as a consumer thing really took off with VHS. Looking back at VHS it amazes me we put up with the less than stellar video quality being put out on those tapes. From that we moved on to DVD and eventually Bluray rose above HD DVD to become the high definition format of choice.

Of course millennials and others would have you believe the only way to watch video nowadays is to pay for a digital download or streaming session. Here’s the thing, while I do see these digital services as useful for renting a video, in most cases they just don’t have the quality.

Most of you reading this probably just took a double-take on that last sentence. Don’t have the quality? Are you mad?

No. No I’m not.

You see, while the videos are far less compressed than they used to be (thankfully to better internet connections now available), a digital download can be decent experience with a relatively sharp picture and good audio. However, more often than not you can see artifacting especially in scenes with a lot of movement. The colour depth tends to be lacking especially in the dark bits of film as well. To me this is incredibly distracting.

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You’re now thinking I must be watching these digital videos on a less than stellar display. Well sometimes I will watch them on my Zowie 24 inch monitors but they actually have pretty good colour depth. Yes you are right, sometimes my monitors will show a lack of depth but my 32 inch Samsung 1080p hdtv has one of the best displays I have ever seen. Digital downloads on my Samsung will show a lack of colour depth as well. Believe me, this is hard to make that television do as I have it dialed in perfectly.

I never have a problem with colour depth with Bluray. When they make the transfers to Bluray the studios or whoever is doing the transferring seem to take better care when they do the compression to 1080p.

Yes it costs more to own a copy of a movie on bluray but here’s the thing. It’s good value. Most Blurays are sold with the Bluray, dvd and a digital download. Pretty good really. What’s a digital copy cost? Well often the same as the Bluray or a bit cheaper. Of course renting is available in digital as well but five to ten dollars to rent every time can add up pretty quickly.

Though I suppose that’s the weakness to my argument now as well. Most millennials see movies and music as disposable now. See the movie once and many don’t care to see it again. But perhaps that’s a deeper flaw in movies being released nowadays. They just aren’t good enough that people want to see them again. That’s a topic for another day.

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Perhaps the greatest reason to buy a physical copy of a movie is that you will always have access to that movie to watch. If you rely on a digital media service like the ones on Xbox One, Playstation 4 or even on Netflix you can never be sure whether you will be able to watch the movie you want when you want to. This is because licenses to these movies, and tv shows for that matter, are always changing and one day the service may offer Back to the Future and the next day they pull it due to not having the rights to stream, rent or sell the movie.

It’s the same reason physical media is still great to have for console gaming. In fact recently one of the best examples of a game being pulled from sales is Alan Wake. This was pulled from Steam recently due to the music licenses in the game expiring making the game ILLEGAL to sell. That is an older game of course being released in the PS3/XBOX 360 days and if you owned it on physical media from those eras you are good to play the game as long as you still have a PS3 or XBOX 360 (not sure if that’s available as an XBOX One backwards compatible title).

So they cost more usually but, in a world where things may not work because of a licensing technicality, owning a visually superior Bluray is really the only way to go.

The Blurays I own will always work. Same with my DVDs (even if their quality is much more questionable).

So the next time you decide you want to watch a movie, consider buying a Bluray. You won’t regret it.

Cutting the Cord

Cutting the cord. That’s a buzzword or uh, buzz phrase nowadays isn’t it? Cutting the cord usually means to drop cable TV service and or phone service to your house. And it makes total sense.

In the age of relatively good internet plans (if you shop around and not just give in to the big communications companies like Telus, Bell, Rogers and Cogeco) would you bother having a cable television service? Cable television is a dinosaur. They come from an era where they still expect you to “DVR” a show you want to watch later just because you aren’t home at the time it airs on TV. I mean seriously, how backwards is that? And on top of that those recordings will only store as long as the content providers allow it on your box. Stupid.

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Cutting the cable service cord should be easy for all Canadians. Netflix Canada has become a pretty good service over the last year or so and you also have CraveTV to bounce back to if there’s something else you want to watch. I mourn over the loss of Shomi though. They didn’t stay in the game long enough. Their service was fantastic. I mean yes we still don’t have access to a lot of what the United States gets like Hulu or other services but Netflix and CraveTV have everything pretty well covered.

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The best thing is if you pick up an unlimited data plan from a company like Teksavvy you can watch to your heart’s content the same episode of Doctor Who as many times as you want. No DVR needed.

Of course less can be said about cutting the phone cord here in Canada. Our cellular coverage is mediocre at best but our land line network is state of the art. Cutting that cord can be difficult initially but then you realize that you can easily get a VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) connection if you have an unlimited data connection.

We’ve done just that at home. We recently dropped cable do to a poorer and poorer channel arrangement from Cogeco. My family was subscribing to their basic digital package that included 100 channels of absolutely nothing to watch. The only channel my dad kept watching was a business network but as a last straw Cogeco announced they were moving that network to a premium package and in place we would receive another Disney network and at the same time raise the cable rates. Again. What the heck, Cogeco?

So we dropped Cogeco. They had it coming for a while. So I now have them hooked up to a Roku with Netflix and CraveTV on board. While dad still can’t watch his business network he can still watch shows on those services.

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We cut the phone cord not long after we moved to Teksavvy’s cable internet service (which ironically is back-boned on Cogeco’s network) and moved to Teksavvy’s VoIP service. I won’t lie, initially it was not a good experience. Often calls would sound tinny or drop altogether. I figured it was because we were using all these streaming services at the same time as calls so I recommended to mom and dad that we upgrade to a faster service. Today we are on a 60mbit down and 10mbit up connection that very rarely goes down and on the positive side the VoIP connection seems to be incredibly stable.

There are a few things to note on moving to VoIP though. You can call 911 but you will have to inform them of your location as that is not transmitted to the 911 call centre from your VoIP box. Also if the power goes out so does your internet and thusly your phone as well. I have installed a hefty battery back up for emergency use though even that will only last a couple hours of use.

Thing is nowadays most people have cellular phones and even though where we live it’s signal is weakly served (even with two towers around our town) we can still use our cell phone’s in an emergency as well.

It’s time we start telling these cable companies to offer services we want or we’ll move. We have. Have you?