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.

bringing you awesome whenever I feel like it