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Archive for April, 2017

When I get serious about blogging, I’ll follow this advice

Posted by joeabbott on April 30, 2017

I get a surprising amount of information\news from Twitter these days. I’d originally avoided the service as my perception was that it was a place people went to post things like “I hate rude people” and “Ate a great sandwich just now”. The sort of comments that aren’t really helpful or entertaining. But, since joining, lurking, and curating folks I follow who caters to my interests, I find it both helpful and entertaining. At some time in the past couple weeks, this came across my feed:

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I don’t follow Darren, so I got the item as something someone else shared, but I’m a fanatic about writing well. Unfortunately, I rarely edit my posts and so, upon rereading them, I feel I very much need this sort of advice. Darren’s Twitter post then links out to this page, which contains the 9 crucial tips. While I encourage you to read the original post, I’ll summarize his nine tips here, with a few notes from my experience:

  1. Plan before you write – aaagh … I fail the first rule!
  2. Avoid editing while writing – agree … I often let things sit for a day or two before getting back to it
  3. Don’t go straight from writing into editing – yup … your head is still too into what you’d just said to be objective
  4. Edit the big picture first
  5. Cut down the introduction – this is a place I often suffer (I start a post about one thing and wander off to another)
  6. Add a call to action
  7. Don’t let spellcheck do your proofreading
  8. Don’t agonizing over making it perfect
  9. Preview the post and check the formatting

That’s it: just some simple tips that may or may not work for you. A lot depends on whether you’re writing a blog, but most of the tips are solid enough to work against any writing you do. Thanks for dropping in.

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Now that’s pretty cool–weather influences in your area

Posted by joeabbott on April 30, 2017

I save snippets and websites throughout the week when I come across them at work and, those I think are interesting, are sent to my home email address. Not all are winners … I just discarded a list of “15 things Kurt Vonnegut said better than anyone” (it was interesting but just didn’t inspire me as I thought it would) … but a simple link I’d sent myself filled me with a sort of sense of magic; the kind of thing that makes me happy we have the Internet. Here’s the link: https://www.windy.com.

That was all I’d forwarded to myself and, on clicking it, I silently smiled a minute or two as I scrolled around the site. Here’s the sort of image you’ll see:

Windy.com

Zooming in shows local effects from terrain, let’s you see what’s happening in your area, and is just fun to play with. In addition to tracking wind, the site allows you to look at temperatures, precipitation, cloud cover, and pressures. Add to that the ability to see a forecast over days and even show weather at various elevations and this is one cool website. On top of all this: no ads. Yup, as of this writing, none. Love that. LOVE. You never realize just how tired you are of this model of monetization until you get to a clean site that’s truly useful but doesn’t have a sidebar widget trying to sell you the last thing you looked at on Amazon.

I hope you find a little time to play around on the site. I’m not a weather nerd but but found this to be both interesting and well done. Kudos to the developers!

Posted in Trivia | Tagged: | 1 Comment »

Dark Souls dominance

Posted by joeabbott on April 2, 2017

I’ve been infatuated by a game called Dark Souls for a while now; in late 2014 I mentioned in this blog that I had “dipped my toes” into it. Well, it’s been two and a half years and a full-on immersion but it’s now completed, by achievement standards. This morning I picked up my last achievement in the last Dark Souls game than I had yet to complete … my quest is over. Sort of.

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I say “sort of” because I completed Dark Souls 2: Scholar of the First Sin this morning but I hadn’t completed the play-through … and so I’m left without beating the final boss and in this weird situation of not having complete closure. Additionally, in the last couple of days I’ve found a co-op partner who is a pretty cool guy and doesn’t have the same quirks as some of the other players I’ve met online … and it’d be fun to play more Souls with him.

So, I think I’ll be playing more but my obsession to “complete” the series is over, and I can start to dip into my game library for other distractions.

I was late to the Dark Souls party by playing the original game some three years after it came out. I made a longish write-up about the game here (Dec 2015) just a month after I picked it up; it grabbed me almost instantly. Within a couple months I had beaten it (not “completed” … I didn’t complete the game [get all achievements] until August of 2016) and finished my second run-through in early 2016 (Feb 2016).

By that time I had tried Dark Souls 2: Scholar of the First Sin but it just didn’t sit well with me; the game was harder and just felt unfair … where fairness was a hallmark of the original game. The original was hard, yes; but with patience it was a challenge you could overcome. But, Dark Souls 3 had also just released and so I jumped onto that train (April 2016), a full-on fan-boy of the series by this time.

But, again, the challenges were a bit too challenging and so I turned back to the original Dark Souls game and tried my hand at a Soul Level 1 run: completing the game while never leveling up; which makes all of the challenges, well … challenging (to say the least). I finished that in May 2016, so I made quick work of it and then turned my attention to completing the original Dark Souls … but after that was done, it was back to Dark Souls 3. With help from online friends, I completed that game in early 2017 (January 2017) and then jumped full-force into Dark Souls 2.

Dark Souls 2 had an original release on the Xbox 360 but it was a polarizing release: the level design and enemy placement wasn’t as exquisite as the original Dark Souls and some felt the tweaks made to the game made it harder and removed some of the fun. After releasing several DLC add-ons, the game was rereleased on the Xbox One with all extended content as Dark Souls 2: Scholar of the First Sin. Additionally, the game designers tweaked some of the enemy placement, making what purist thought was a much better game but they also making it harder by just adding a lot more enemies to each area.

With Dark Souls 2 (on Xbox 360) perceived as easier, I tried that version. Well, time hasn’t held up well for Xbox 360 games: the visuals were muddy, the gameplay stilted, and overall it was a chore to complete. But, after going through that, getting back onto the Scholar of the First Sin edition on the Xbox One felt amazing. The textures in the game felt better (in most places), the character moved well, and the increased frame rate helped everything feel crisp. And, with understanding the general map layout, I was quickly able to feel at home in this version and complete the game.

And that’s it. I feel the pull to complete my current play-through of Dark Souls 2: Scholar of the First Sin, I feel compelled to try the original one more time, and I want to enjoy some co-op with new friends who are also fans of the series. Fortunately, I can probably do all of these things but mostly I can be happy to have completed a good challenge in a fun game.

Thanks for stopping by and listening to me blather about gaming. Hope your diversions keep you as engaged!

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