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Letters home to mom

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      Posting these cat-cartoons-without-the-cartoon was a long journey that I don’t know if I’ll repeat soon again. A daily blog is tough … even when you have your material handed to you! But, I couldn’t have done it without the artwork … Continue reading →
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This and that

Posted by joeabbott on February 15, 2014

ImageToday is clean-up day and I’m both looking forward to it and dreading it.

After the big cabinet project, many of my tools were left dull, lots were out of place, and I had more scrap lumber than I knew what to do with.  On top of that, we needed our water heater replaced and went with a tankless unit that required me to move a bunch of stuff for clearance and space (they needed to run an outlet vent through a far wall in the garage). So, at this point, our garage … or more explicitly, my “shop bay” … is a complete mess and I’m unable to do anything here except clean up.

Part of the dread is that I know just putting stuff back where it went is a bad solution: I was running out of usable space and the layout I had was not optimal. And so the perpetual cycle of projects begetting projects continues.

On top of that, I’m heading into a Microsoft Store today to turn in my Surface. In December 2012, Microsoft (my employer) gave me a Surface computer and I love it. Unfortunately, it has two problems: it’s a bit older and sluggish, and it has the potential to do so much more than a typical tablet, I feel constrained by the Windows RT OS.

Now thru early March, Microsoft has a program going on that will allow me to trade in my current unit for store credit; I plan on using that credit to pick up either the latest Surface 2 (still an RT unit but should be much faster) or the Surface Pro 2 (both faster and non-RT but more expensive than I hoped to spend). So, later today I have an appointment to meet with my Microsoft consultant to go over the evaluation of my current unit, demo the two models, and consider my options. Should be a fun trip.

After that, I’ll do a bit of shopping at Costco and await Suzy’s return from her Master Gardeners’ classes. Tonight we’ll watch a movie or find other ways to invest our time together. Last night was also a “movie night” but we ended up just sitting on the couch, catching up, and chatting until it was time to head to bed.

Why did we need catching up? Well, no surprises here, but I’ve been spending a bit of time playing a video game in the evenings: a little something called Bioshock: Infinite.

In early January I mentioned getting the game on sale and just starting into it … but holding off on playing more while I mined a few other games for gamerscore. You see, the writing for Infinite is exceptional and I wanted to focus on that: the story … the graph below should give you an idea of how I approached the game.

image

I picked up Infinite just before Christmas and played enough to get my first achievement … about 10 minutes into the game. It then sat while I played other games and got “Gamerscore Fever” out of my head. I then played another day’s worth where I learned the combat and how to play the game … for this I got another achievement. The gap between 1/9 and 1/18 was where I played X-Men: Destiny … a fun game but nothing special; I detail that here.

By this time I screwed up my conviction to miss out on potential achievements and just play the game for the story; this gave me a couple days of achievements before I took a short vacation back to MN; which I detail in this post.

imageBack in Gaming Land ™, I then settled into a routine of getting home from work, doing chores, playing a bit of Infinite until dinner, and then more after dinner. It was an engaging game and I loved it. On the day I earned the most achievements, 2/1, I completed the game. Playing the game through normal progression, I picked up five achievements for 95GS that day; all of the rest of the achievements and gamerscore came from a short bit of grinding … as you can see, it was quick because I’d accomplished most of the work toward these achievements during normal play. Which is a real credit to the game designers.

However, this left me with five achievements, about 350GS to be wrung from the game, and an incredible story worth revisiting. And so I did.

The same day I completed the game in normal mode, I restarted a second play-thru on the hardest mode. And it was grand. I pretty much used a walk-thru guide as chapter and verse this time thru to make sure I didn’t miss any of the collectibles; I’d tried to find them all the first time through but clearly didn’t look hard enough. I liked the second play-thru as I had learned more about how to play the game and that made the hardest mode easier and the game a bit different.

The first time through I used the same set of gear and relied on the same initial “spells” that you learn in the game; I also bought everything in the way of upgrades that money could buy from the machines … at least until my cash ran out (which it did).

The second time through I varied my gear and spells for each battle; carefully planning what worked best (in terms of weapons and gear) and how to exploit the enemies I’d encounter. And with money being a premium in this mode, I was very careful with which upgrades I bought and which I left on the table.

I bought the now-popular Season Pass for Infinite … which gives me access to the DLC items that come out. With two of the three planned DLCs released, I’ll wait until the third comes out before I re-enter the world of Bioshock and enjoy a bit more. Now I plan on getting back to a game I’d started ages ago: Far Cry 3.

But, looking at the clock, I see that I should shower, get a bit of cleaning done in the garage, and then prep for a trip to the Microsoft Store. Such is my life, my small world, and how I’m spending my time. Thanks for looking in and I hope your day, the little and big things, go to plan.

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