Rants tag

Rants, ruminations, and rambling remarks from my mad, muddled, meandering mind.

Friday, March 24, 2017

What's Rowan Watching?

World of Warcraft took a back seat to nominally more passive video viewing this week. I say "nominally" because the show Scooter and I spent the most time on was actually a pretty engaging mystery.

Where TX 95 hits US 290 from the northBut first: We haven't spent our entire week sitting in front of the boob toob. On Saturday, we got out and went on a little road adventure that involved quite a few country roads and a tour through some model homes we'll never be able to afford, nor that we truly need. (I'd like a bigger place, but it's really only the two of us and the puppernauts. We don't need a house three times the size of our current one at four times the price.) After a very roundabout journey, we ended up at the oldest barbecue joint in Texas. Hands down, Southside Market and BBQ in Elgin has the best smoked brisket and turkey I have had in almost two decades eating Texas barbecue. Normally, I find smoked brisket to be a bit too dry, preferring the cut as the perhaps more familiar slow-cooked corned beef. Smoked turkey breast also tends toward the dry side, but usually has a good flavor.Delicious, though not my pic The folks at Southside have managed to keep their meats moist and tender and flavorful, perfection. I also had the pork, which is very well done, but not a stand-out. And their sausage is delicious; though again, not my favorite thing to eat. The sides are typical BBQ fare, I had potato salad and mac & cheese (with real cheese, not Kraft powder), while Scooter sampled the pinto beans as well as the potato salad. They did have salads available (for an upcharge), but the lack of fresh veggies or fruit has always disappointed me when going to places like this. In any event, I highly recommend that you try this place out if you're driving between Austin and Houston. Or just out for a little weekend adventure in Central Texas.
"No one's neck is incredibly thick as Gaston."
A rare phenomenon, Scooter and I stayed up late Saturday evening to attend a 10 pm showing of Beauty and the Beast. You don't generally come here for movie reviews, Dear Reader (or restaurant reviews either, come to think of it), so suffice it to say we really enjoyed this new live-action version of "a tale as old as time." If you enjoyed the animated classic when you were younger, I think you'll like this version. My only complaint was that Luke Evans, while performing admirably in the role of Gaston, just didn't have the stature/bulk of the animated character. I feel that there are actors in Hollywood that could have pulled it off both the look and the performance.
"Cut a branch and another grows in its place."
Lastly, for the past several evenings, Scooter and I have been watching Frequency on Netflix. The show was running on the CW here in the U.S. this past fall, playing out roughly in real time during the course of the short season. Apparently, it has not done well in the ratings, so they pushed it to Netflix along with another CW program in hopes that it might generate more interest. As far as I can tell from the news, that effort has not been successful. However, I think the show is a worthy successor to the 2000 film of the same name that starred Dennis Quaid and Jim Caviezel. In the show, Peyton List and Riley Smith star as a New York City police detective and her father (also a cop), separated by 20 years and communicating with each other through a quantum entangled (magic) ham radio. If you've seen the movie, the concept is generally the same, though it plays out differently over the course of the 13-episode series. I recommend it be watched on a binge over a few nights as I did. Unfortunately, I fear the premise of the show—with its time jumps and "butterfly effect" timeline—did not play well in weekly installments. Still worth a watch though, which is saying a lot since I hardly watch any television anymore.
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Creative Commons License
This article from I Have Touched the Sky is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. If you repost part or all of the work (for non-commercial purposes), please cite me as the author and include a link back to the blog.

Scooter proofreads almost all my articles before I post them, for which I am very grateful. However, any mistakes are mine and mine alone (unless otherwise noted). If you are reading this post through RSS or Atom feed—especially more than a couple hours after publication—I encourage you to visit the actual page, as I often make refinements after the fact. The mobile version also loses some of the original character of the piece due to simplified formatting.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

By the Skin of My Teeth

I am absolutely not going to skip another February completely (not my fault if you're not up to read it). Lots of stuff going on this month, though, including a business trip: four weeks of nine- and ten-hour days. I got back into TSW a bit, apparently just in time to witness the impending relaunch of the game, whatever that will mean. I don't think we have enough information at this stage to judge how that will work out, but I am interested to see. Of course, World of Warcraft is my priority, with Scooter and I getting our Dorf Shammy and Gnomelock into the upper sixties and the Blade's Edge Mountains of Outland, with a plan to head into Netherstorm as soon as we are able. I, for one, am eager to return to Azeroth and Northrend to face the Lich King's minions.
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Creative Commons License
This article from I Have Touched the Sky is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. If you repost part or all of the work (for non-commercial purposes), please cite me as the author and include a link back to the blog.

Scooter proofreads almost all my articles before I post them, for which I am very grateful. However, any mistakes are mine and mine alone (unless otherwise noted). If you are reading this post through RSS or Atom feed—especially more than a couple hours after publication—I encourage you to visit the actual page, as I often make refinements after the fact. The mobile version also loses some of the original character of the piece due to simplified formatting.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Ups and Downs

or

A Retrospective of My Seventh Year Blogging

Year Seven was an interesting year on the blog. I didn't defeat any dark wizards, nor do I feel prepared for A-levels. I posted fewer times than any other year—only 50 in total, including yesterday's last-minute postlet. At the same time, around the middle of May, my pageviews shot way up, making previous peaks in my graph look like foothills. After peaking in June with over 50k, my stats haven't dropped below 20k. I can't claim any credit for that, especially given my dreadful posting rate, but it is pretty exciting.

A highlight of the gaming year was our trip to PAX South in late January. Unfortunately, my work schedule intrudes on PAX weekend this year, so we will be unable to attend. As a result of PAX, Scooter and I have discussed doing some tabletop gaming, but it hasn't developed into action yet. As far as computer games go, it was almost exclusively Star Wars: The Old Republic until about June, when Scooter and I, inspired by the Warcraft Movie, re-upped in World of Warcraft a month or so before Legion came out. Strangely enough, even though we kept our SWTOR subscriptions for a couple months after subscribing to WoW again, the game just sort of disappeared from my posts after May.

I got a little more political both on the blog—and a lot more on social media—in 2016. Especially in this election year, so much more seems to be at stake than in years past. I even considered starting a second blog devoted to political stuff, but with the U.S. presidential election going the way it did, the wind has gone out of my sails a bit. I'm not sure I have anything to contribute that isn't already being said by thousands of other people in the United States and around the world in that regard.

The past couple weeks have been pretty big on the handy-man front. Scooter and I built me a new computer, and I replaced the 30-year-old kitchen sink in our house with Scooter assisting at critical points. They both work great. I'm settling into the new rig, but flubbed some of the data transfer because I forgot where things were and then reformatted prematurely. I promised a review of how well it works—which I may still provide; the screenshot above of Stormsage and Soffe is a small sample—but for now, suffice it to say it's quite an improvement over my 6-year-old laptop, which was very nice when it came out.

So once again, we've made it through another year. It's a time to celebrate (with cake?). My love for my bride grows with each passing year. I still love games. I still love blogging, and interacting with those wonderful people I meet online. As may be obvious, I struggle with posting on a regular basis nowadays. But in this new year, I resolve to do better. I can only hope what I write is interesting to you, my Dear Reader.
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Creative Commons License
This article from I Have Touched the Sky is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. If you repost part or all of the work (for non-commercial purposes), please cite me as the author and include a link back to the blog.

Scooter proofreads almost all my articles before I post them, for which I am very grateful. However, any mistakes are mine and mine alone (unless otherwise noted). If you are reading this post through RSS or Atom feed—especially more than a couple hours after publication—I encourage you to visit the actual page, as I often make refinements after the fact. The mobile version also loses some of the original character of the piece due to simplified formatting.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Seven Magnificent Years of IHTtS

This is going to be perhaps a bit lame, but I wanted to commemorate my blogoversary at least in some small way. I'll have a better retrospective tomorrow, since this weekend so far as been a very busy one. Thank you, Dear Reader, for sticking with me for so long, even when the posting gets a bit thin.
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Creative Commons License
This article from I Have Touched the Sky is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. If you repost part or all of the work (for non-commercial purposes), please cite me as the author and include a link back to the blog.

Scooter proofreads almost all my articles before I post them, for which I am very grateful. However, any mistakes are mine and mine alone (unless otherwise noted). If you are reading this post through RSS or Atom feed—especially more than a couple hours after publication—I encourage you to visit the actual page, as I often make refinements after the fact. The mobile version also loses some of the original character of the piece due to simplified formatting.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

New Year, New Computer

As I indicated a couple posts ago, my 6-year-old model laptop finally gave up the ghost in early December after a traumatic plane ride to Las Vegas. That's not entirely true. Because of previous experience, I believe it is the trip through the airport luggage system that damages computers, not the flight itself. I did not own this particular ASUS G73 for 6 years, I've actually had a succession of three. The first was stolen in a home robbery forcing me to buy another. The second suffered motherboard issues after a different trip; and this most recent one, a Franken-puter of my old one and another sold to me by a good friend, was getting to be out of spec for modern games and expansions before its failure to boot. According to diagnostics, it's possible it only needed a recovery of Windows, but the DVD drive no longer worked, and I'd been wanting a new computer anyway. I'd started to save up a bit for a new rig already, but unexpected expenses in November threw me off my timeline. My sweet bride offered to use household funds to pay for the new computer, which I would then replenish after the fact.

In talking with a coworker who also travels frequently, I came up with a plan to build my own computer, a portable desktop rather than a laptop. I would be able to plug into hotel TVs using HDMI, and have a powerful computer for less money than a higher end gaming laptop. Plus, I had never built a computer from the ground up before, and I wondered if I was up to the challenge. Many of you fellow techies are probably laughing now, because it turns out not to have been particularly difficult at all, especially with Scooter's help. The part I was most nervous about was screwing up the thermal paste on the CPU cooling unit. However, in some ways, the hardest part was actually getting the necessary drivers to run the network interface card, so I could download the rest of the drivers, many of which updated automatically as soon as I had a connection.

[EDIT: Revised list, not all the components were correct. If anyone is interested, I can add links to Amazon]:

-Gigabyte Motherboard (GA-B150N)
-Intel Core i7 (BX80662I76700K)
-Corsair Vengeance LPX 16GB RAM (PC4-21300)
-Gigabyte GeForce GTX 1070 Mini ITX (GV-N1070IXOC-8GD)
-Noctua CPU Cooler (NH-L9I)
-Intel 600p Series m.2 512GB SSD (SSDPEKKW512G7X1)
-HGST Travelstar 7k1000 SATA 1TB HDD (0J22423)
-SilverStone Milo Mini-ITX Computer Case (ML08B-H)
-SilverStone 500W SFX-L Power Supply (SX500-LG)
-ViewSonic 22" Gaming Monitor (VX2252MH)
-Logitech K350 Keyboard (to go with my M570 mouse)
-Windows 10

I'll blurb a bit in a different post on my so-far limited gaming experience with this setup; I was downloading World of Warcraft as I typed the original draft. When all is said and done, the project has cost more than any other computer that I have owned. However, some of this is due to purchasing the new monitor and keyboard, and a really nice graphics card.
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Creative Commons License
This article from I Have Touched the Sky is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. If you repost part or all of the work (for non-commercial purposes), please cite me as the author and include a link back to the blog.

In addition to providing computer construction expertise, Scooter proofreads almost all my articles before I post them, for which I am very grateful. However, any mistakes are mine and mine alone (unless otherwise noted). If you are reading this post through RSS or Atom feed—especially more than a couple hours after publication—I encourage you to visit the actual page, as I often make refinements after the fact. The mobile version also loses some of the original character of the piece due to simplified formatting.