My Recipe for Gadget Cycling

So I’m a gadget geek and part of that sadly for me is spending a lot of time indoors. Once upon a time though, I used to be a big outdoorsman. I’m slowly getting back in to shape by integrating two of my loves together.

Part 1 of this was buying a cool bicycle. For me this was a Novara Gotham (2012). What qualifies it as gadgety?

  1. Hub powered headlight
  2. Disc brakes
  3. Belt drive (instead of a messy chain)
  4. NuVinci n360 drivetrain (continuous shifting with no gears)

So that’s settled. But how do I ride around this new neighborhood of mine that’s full of one way streets and heavy traffic? I tried to find a GPS unit geared towards cycling and failed. The best I’ve found is Google Maps or my standard GPS app for driving: Navigon. Both offer great bicycling turn-by-turn directions. It’s important to use cycling directions and not driving so it takes in to account bike lanes and bad traffic conditions.

Using my iPhone poses three problems though: mounting, durability, and power. I finally solved durability and power by finding the ibattz Refuel Aqua. It’s a water proof case (up to 10 feet) with a built-in 2200mAh battery. There’s plenty of things keeping me from using that case daily but for a ride it’s great.

Mounting that sucker to my handlebars is harder than you might think because it’s so big. I finally settled on a mount from Arkon. After one ride it felt pretty secure. However I do have the phone connected to my handlebars directly as well. I’m using the large and small size S-Biner from this 3 pack. The ibattz case has a little lanyard loop that fits the small S-Biner size. Then I clip the larger biner between that guy and someplace on the bike. Right now it’s secured to one of my cables on my handlebars. I might  tie or strap the small binder directly to the handlebars at a later date.

Topping it all off is a bluetooth earpiece. This way I can hear directions and data from MapMyRide without completely blocking out the world around me. I’m using a Jawbone Icon HD. It looks ok and has a variety of ear pieces to secure it to my head nicely.

GitC: Museum of the Moving Image

Are you a movie geek?  I AM! The Museum of the Moving Image (website) is a fantastic place located in Astoria (google map) near the Steinway Street M and R stop.  They have a permanent Core Exhibition called “Behind the Screen” with amazing examples of cameras and other film making equipment from over the years.  The artifacts also include costumes, props, and licensed merchandise.  They also have a couple ongoing rotating exhibitions and will soon have a permanent home for The Jim Henson exhibition.

Unrelated to movies but definitely to moving images is their interest in video games.  They host Indicade as well as other video game exhibitions.  It’s also a fun place to catch a screening!

Modern Pinball NYC

GitC: Modern Pinball NYC

Wow.  Modern Pinball NYC (website) is a magical place!  It’s slightly inconveniently located at 362 3rd Ave, New York, 10016 (google maps) not too close to the 6 train.  It makes up for it though by having over 30 well maintained pinball machines on free pay for a nominal cover charge ($7/$10/$20 for 30/60/allday minutes).

It’s been written about, talked about on TV, and raved about by people.  I recently went with a group of friends and it was a great time.  You can go in and out of the place all day if you spring for the $20 (or even less if you find a group discount online) with a 10% discount at the restaurant next door (maybe it was a bar?  I was too distracted by the amazing pinball).

Go forth and have fun!

And oh yeah, their main business is as a pinball showroom for sales.  So maybe you’ll find something you want to take home with you!

Grasshopper's Comics

GitC: Grasshopper’s Comics

A few months ago, I made a trip out to Grasshopper’s Comics (website) located at 76 Hillside Ave, Williston Park, NY 11596 (google maps).  It’s a nice enough comic book store if you want popular and trendy new books.  They have a nice selection of trades available.  Their gaming stock is made up of Warhammer style inventory and I think I remember some nice board games too.  They also have an area in the back of the store for organized play of minis and war games.

 

This is the first post in what I hope will be an ongoing listing of “geeky” type things to do in the NYC area.

Hearthstone News from Blizzcon 2013

mindcontrolMind Control Cost 8 to 10.

 

 

 

 

 

starving buzzard
Starving Buzzard Health 2 to 1.

Hunter strong at copper, silver, gold

Unleash the hounds is changing, they don’t know how yet.

 

 

Ranked play being revised to match the fun of Arena.  25 new ranks each featuring a minion (Angry Chicken rank 25, Leper Gnome 24). You can rank up and down by winning and losing games.  Each month you get reset down to Angry Chicken.  Once you go beyond Rank 1, you reach Legend rank.  You won’t lose Legend status until the ends of seasons.  You’ll unlock things like alternate card backs and golden heroes for participating in ranked play.

bestranked There’s no “best” ranked class and they used as an example 3 consecutive days worth of rankings: featuring different top ranked classes each day.

Android and iPad clients would be coming in 2014 and they announced iPhone, Android, and Windows 8 Touch versions.

PC and Mac open beta coming next month (December).

 

Official summary of the Hearthstone fireside chat from Blizzcon: http://us.battle.net/hearthstone/en/blog/11524460/hearthstone-at-blizzcon-fireside-chat-panel-highlights-11-8-2013

Sleeping Dogs

Sleeping Dogs

Sleeping DogsI don’t play games to finish them.  Sometimes I do, but most of the time I never see the endings.  For me the enjoyment in a game usually comes from the experience of playing  rather than the proposed end goal of completion.  Occasionally a game comes along that grips me with it’s narrative.  Sleeping Dogs by United Front Games (UFG) and published by Square Enix, is definitely one of those titles.  My experience with this game was so great, I knew I had to write something about it before I was even finished with it.

I have a feeling though, that a lot of people are going to have a very different experience with the game.  There are a few unique connections I have with it that combine to create a fairly unique perspective.  While everyone comes at things with different views (beauty is in the eye of the beholder ) I feel like explaining mine may help others get more out of the game and maybe even sway some to try it.

Contributing to this uniqueness of perspective is UFG’s dedication to what has to be a source of inspiration for them: Asian cinema.  The Internet is full of people talking about their favorite Hong Kong crime dramas and gangster films in response to playing Sleeping Dogs.  Square Enix even sent the UFG team along with two of the voice actors to the New York Asian Film Festival to screenings of Infernal Affairs 1 & 2.  If you haven’t seen Infernal Affairs, I highly suggest it.  Scorsese liked it so much, he recreated the first movie as The Departed.

As an ABC (American Born Chinese, not the already been chewed variety of gum), one of the ways I connect with my heritage is through film.  While normally my preferred genres of Chinese movies are kung-fu and art films (by directors like Hou Hsiao-Hsien, Wong Kar Wai, etc.), I’ve seen movies like Infernal Affairs just because they’re so critically acclaimed.  I’ve also definitely seen more serious action films from elsewhere in Asia (Chinese kung-fu movies are often over the top in their action or comedy) starring people like Tony Jaa, who inspired the combat system of Sleeping Dogs.

What’s surprising by all this inspiration by Asian film is that it didn’t get lost in translation.  Hong Kong was once a British colony, and like many other places in similar situations, reflects that in a strongly influenced culture and set of customs.  While both Cantonese and English are spoken there, a lot of conversation is done in ‘Chinglish’ or mishmash of the two.  This is strongly represented in the game and was even respected by the game’s settings.  Like many games with dialogue, there’s an option to enable subtitles.  In this game, you can set subtitles on for all dialogue, or just lines featuring Cantonese.  This was a wonderful addition that showed the care and attention given to the culture that the game world inhabits.  Unfortunately, this is only true for the true dialogue of the game.  The game environments feature a lot of background speech and off comments.  As your character pushes through crowds of people and jostles with city traffic, there are all sorts of remarks that are made in Cantonese but don’t receive the subtitle treatment.  I feel like a lot of that impact is lost on a player if they don’t know what’s being said.  This game has a lot of cursing, and most of it isn’t in English.

Along with language, the backbone of the plot: The Triads, is informed a lot by Chinese culture.  I don’t have too much to say about this, except that to me it feels similar to the way the mob might feel to an Italian American.  Mixed feelings I suppose.  There’s the whole aspect of brotherhood and belonging to a group that is deeply rooted in that area of the world.  If you have an understanding of that, any sort of fiction about organized crime takes on new meaning.

HK in the rain

They definitely got the gritty feeling that the movies the game takes inspiration from.  HK is a mix of new and old and the game illustrates that wonderfully.  That screenshot above there is one of mine.  If you have the ability to play the game in Eyefinity or some other way to play in an ultra wide resolution, I highly recommend it.  It’s new for me and it brings open world gaming to another level.  I will call this level: fantastic.

In the end, I wanted to say a lot more about this game.  It’s wonderful.  Funny when it needs to be and serious at the right times.  It does nothing bad, everything good, and some things really well.  Also: it’s just plain fun.

The Kestrel

2013-09-20_00001Mission Log

Day 1 – The first day of our mission.  Myself at the helm, Peterson manning shields, and Igoe firing the guns.  I have a good feeling about this one.

Day 2 – A rebel fighter!  They’re not friendly.  Peterson targets their shields with a Artemis missile while our Burst Laser charges.  It hits!  Their own missile takes out or O2 generator.  Repairs will have to wait!  After knocking out their weapons and O2 with laser fire, we accept their surrender.  For fuel, scraps, missiles, and some long range scanners, it was a good exchange.

Day 3 – Stumble upon some scrap and laser floating in space.

Day 4 – Some pirates demand a crew member.  I SAY GOOD DAY!  They smartly surrender one of their slaves.  I hope he understands that he’s a free man now, but he decides to serve as one of our crew anyway.  He seems like a smart fellow, so I put him on engine duty.  He has an unpronounceable name, not sure where in space this human is from.

Day 5 – I decide to respond to a distress beacon.  Just because we’re running for our lives doesn’t mean we can’t be decent human beings.

It’s a trap.

Those filthy slug pirates surrender once more.  Next time I hope they just surrender right away and save us the missile.  Starting to run low.  Also one of their weapons blew up my console in my face.  After I’m done with repairs, I’m headed to medbay for some fixing of my own.

Day 6 – Found a roaming merchant.  Bought two missiles, it’s all he had.  Ugh, this is a dead end.

Day 8 – After backtracking, we’ve stumbled in to the Rebel fleet.  This is going to be rough.

Day 9 – Managed to escape the fleet and run in to a mercenary.  I tell him to go frak himself.  The doors are still busted from the fight with the rebels.  I hope these rock mercs don’t start any fires.

Argh, they tore a hull breach!

The bulkheads held until we could patch it after the fight.  Thank Sol it was in an unused room.

Why the hell does our ship have unused rooms?!

Day 10 – Nothing.  Thankfully.

Day 11 – Pay toll?!  What is this a fairy tale?

One of these days I’m going to learn my lesson and stop telling perfectly respectful business slugs to go screw.

Day 12 – Thank the great spacer in the sky we’ve reached the sector exit coordinates!  Too bad some ass wants to trade us some drone parts for fuel.  Why the hell would a human ship need drone parts?!

Day 13 – Yeah, we’ll choose the civilian sector.  We’ve sloughed off too much hull to go romping in some nebula.

Day 14 – Jumped towards a ship sensor signal, maybe they can help us out.

Of course we need to stop the rebel scout attacking a refueling outpost.

Great, it’s a cloaking auto-scout.

With an ion cannon.

And missiles.

Thanks outpost, for these wonderful drone parts.  They’ll come in handy with those drones we don’t have.

Day 15 – Another ship that’s been damaged by pirates and is selling off their detritus.  Somebody should do something about these damn pirates.

Day 16 – Another store, and this guy has two humans for sale.  Too bad we need to spend our scrap patching all our holes.  Better luck next time boys!

Day 17 – Yes, of course we’re going to poke the beehive to get at the storage cache.

Just realized Igoe and myself have been bleeding for a few jumps.  Time to rest up in medbay.

Our shield upgrade 10 days ago is really coming in handy.

Day 18 – Responding to distress calls finally paid off.  It’s not a trap!  It did hurt a lot though.  Thankfully we helped that ship get out of the asteroid field safely. And with their thank you gift, we now have better blast doors, cameras, and O2 generation.

Day 19 – I pilot us away from the exit jump to answer another distress call.

whew, they just need some fuel and we have plenty.

Day 21 – After backtracking back to the exit, there’s a civilian ship under attack by pirates.  DIE SCUM!

The pirates, not the civies.

The civilians patch us up after we take out their mantis problem.  That was nice of them.

Day 22 – A new sector full of Engi.

Day 23 – More civilians under attack.  Time to make these ants pay.

Thank Sol they don’t have teleporters.  I’m not a fan of mandibles.

Sadly the civilians didn’t survive.  We’ll just have to take their stuff.

Day 24 – Yes we’re going to explore the dangerous asteroid field.

It had gas.

Day 25 – Apparently this distress call has come from some illegal miners trapped between rocks.

And I accidentally freed some pirates.  Igoe won’t fire on them.  Oh well.

Day 26 – Beautiful planet, which apparently Engi don’t like.

Day 27 – Another day, another distress call.

Of course we’ll blow up your out of control defense system little space station.

Never mind, it’s too well shielded.  Good luck idiots.

Day 28 – Yes.  Yes we’ll try to hack the auto-scout for data.

That went surprisingly well!  Disaster can only loom at the next jump.

Day 29 – OH GOD YES I WILL BUY YOUR WEAPON PREIGNITER WHAT DON’T WORRY ABOUT THOSE HULL BREACHES

Day 30 – A sad empty space station on the edge of the sector.  I wonder who died here.

Day 31 – Who put this rebel sector in our way?

Day 32 – Another auto-scout.  Whoever got the contract for these things must be rolling in scrap.

Day 33 – Apparently I’m “Federation scum”.  Oh well.

Aaaaaand they surrender.  Morons.

Day 34 – Stupid asteroid field.

We got the auto-scout but omg he took down our shields.

Day 35 – Yes! A store next to that blasted asteroid field that claimed so much of our hull.

And we bought us a mantis.  Let’s see people try and board us now!

Day 36 – Time to check out what this encrypted Federation signal on this planet is.  Surely it can’t be a trap.  The rebels aren’t that smart.

See, it’s not!  And there’s another outpost under attack!

Day 37 – We don’t have time for this radar station.  There’s an outpost to save!

Day 38 – Once again, WE DON’T NEED DRONE PARTS

Day 39 – Time to save us some Feds!

Apparently there was one man left alive at the Fed base, and that man was a Engi.

It’s getting a little crowded up here.

Day 40 – A slave trader has interrupted our FTL spool up to leave this horrible rebel sector.

Crap, they have a defensive drone.

It seems effective.

Too bad none of the slaves could make it off the ship before Igoe blew it to hell.

Day 41 – Ugh, Rebel Sector or Rebel Sector?

Day 42 – Time to buy some ship systems.

Teleporters and Drone Control!

What? So the defensive drone looked good.

I wish I had some drone parts.

Day 43 – I hate the military-industrial complex and their auto-scouts.

IGOE STOP MISSING

Day 44 – Auto-scout + nebula.  Need I say more?

Thanks for constantly whiffing with our missiles Igoe.  This isn’t GI Joe, we have a finite number of missiles.

Day 45 – Great, now the rebels are using teleporters.

Of course I trust this rebel.  He genuinely wants to return to the Federation!

And now Peterson is dead.

And seeking vengence for our crew member, Igoe fires upon the Rebel Fighter with a volley of missiles.

He missed.  I’m so surprised.

Thankfully I’ve opened the compartment with the Rebel scum to vacuum.  He should be dead momentarily.

I accept their surrender.  We exchanged crew deaths I guess it’s only fair.  If Igoe could actually hit with a missile on occasion I probably would have opted to blow them out of the sky for what they did the Peterson.

Day 46 – There’s a rebel data cache by the jump point.  I’m too depressed and saddened about the loss of Peterson to do anything about it.  I just want to leave.

Day 47 – Maybe the rock people will cheer me up.  They’re known for their levity right?

Or was that brevity?

Day 48 – We use our teleporter to rescue a poor soul from their exploding ship.  He’s green and full of energy.  I’m sure we can find a use for him.  He must be from South America though, his name is Jose.

Day 49 – The rocks reluctantly sell us missiles and fuel.

Day 50 – These rocks don’t seem too happy to see us.

Another fight, another offer of surrender.  Yawn.

Day 51 – Mercenaries?  I don’t think so.

Igoe is still missing.  I’m not sure what to do about this.

Day 52 – Tried to save a space station on fire.

Instead it blew up, killing all the inhabitants and denting our ship.

Not cool.

Day 53 – Strip down a dormant rock freighter.

Day 54 – Now who needs help?

Salvage an abandoned pirate ship.  Serves them right.

Day 55 – Rock pirates.

Holy shit Igoe hit with his missile.

Yellow hull strength means good right?

Day 56 – We’re our way out, but I’m too tempted by this deactivated rebel auto-scout.

Oops.

One of these days, Igoe is going to get us killed.

Day 57 – Chanced a trip towards the closing Rebel fleet to visit a store.

Success!  Cloaking is now ours!  They also had this nifty Stealth Weapons module.

Day 59 – Hello there slugs!

Day 60 – This looks bad.  Stupid rock distress call.

Not bad Igoe.  1 missile and 3 bursts.  One hit and it wasn’t the missile.

The rock captain says “thanks”.

You’re welcome asshole.

Day 61 – It’s a parade of jerks.  The damn slugs offer to repair then demand 15 fuel in exchange for 1 point of hull.  Then they blow a planted bomb and attack.

Of course they surrender, paying us 3 fuel.

3

Can I unaccept their surrender?  Again, Igoe refuses to fire on them.

Day 52 – Weird ass slug teleports on to my bridge and spreads his wares like a street merchant.  Why is he still alive?

Day 53 – Now I find a slug that can disable systems at will?!  What is it with these creatures?

Day 54 – More slugs, more surrendering for paltry amounts of fuel.

I’m sensing a pattern here.

Day 57 – A few uneventful days leads us to the end of our journey.

Day 58 – You know what, I’ll accept a pirate bribe when we’re this close to the Rebel flag ship.

Day 60 – The flagship.  Here we go!

We ran out of missiles.

We are screwed.

Accidentally beamed our mantis and some redshirt in to a room with too many crew.  They’ll be missed.

We jumped away to find some more missiles but keep running in to rebel ships.  This doesn’t look good.

Engines down.

O2 down.

Helm down.

Medbay down.

33% hull.

One more hit and we’re done for.

I don’t know what to do.

Good bye cruel wo….

 

bringing you awesome whenever I feel like it