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Reading Online

Looking at my recent blog history, you’ll find that it has been rather bookcentric. This is largely a function of a quick book review being easier to write than a longer, more personal post; however, it belies how much of my time I actually spend reading books. I sometimes bemoan the fact that I read less than I used to, but I think I can chalk that behavior up to three factors:

  • I read a lot more in high school
  • I still get to read more than most people
  • I now read more content online

The first point is part of growing up, and the second point is part of a larger sociological question that I’m not qualified to address, so I’ll focus on the third point: how and where do I find and read short- and long-form content on the web? The list probably won’t be too surprising (Twitter, Facebook, blogs, news sites, etc.), but I’ll go into more detail on what clients I use to keep track of everything. It should not be surprising that my acquisition of an iPad in April of 2010 significantly changed how I interact with text online.

This has been a topic kicking around my head for close to a year, since I spend a lot of time connected, although some of my reading/archiving methods have changed over time. The most recent inspiration to write this up was a discussion I had with my mom back in October about how to save articles that she finds online, the way one might clip an article from a physical newspaper. Another one was this post from Brett Nordquist in May of last year about personal online recommendations, in which we happen to use a lot of the same sources/services.

Below the cut, my rather verbose recommendations on how to quickly filter a wide variety of text content online for eventual reading.

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Posted in Reviews, Social Media Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,

Top 200 Video Games of All Time According to Game Informer

Introduction

Oh yeah, I have a blog! Lots has been going on in the intervening months (see my Twitter feed for short attention span details), but I figured a video game post during NaBloPoMo would be a good way to get back on the wagon, even if I’m not actually posting every day during November.

While visiting my Little Brother this weekend, I noticed a rather unusual magazine cover… a (very pixelated) monster from the original Doom. This turned out to be the latest issue of Game Informer, specifically Volume XIX, Number 12, Issue 200. In honor of this decimalist anniversary, they published their Top 200 Video Games of All Time list, which unsurprisingly is linkbait for any video game fan who likes to rant about what should and should not be included in such a list. I ran through my opinions quickly with my Little, mostly fixating on why so many recent games were already on the list, but decided a deeper analysis was in order.

Instead of complaining about the contents of the list, I thought I’d use it to track my personal video game history (much as my father has in the past used the Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums of All Time and Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Songs of All Time to guide his music purchases). I’ve also done some histogram breakdowns of what’s on the list. I would say that my guideline for inclusion on any such list would involve adjectives like “innovative” and “influential”, and explicitly avoid conditions like “critically acclaimed”, “popular”, or “best-selling”. This in turn means that inclusion must be viewed through a somewhat temporally distant lens, for sufficient perspective on a particular cultural artifact’s import.

How many of these have you played? Do you strongly agree/disagree with any of the rankings?

The columns are Game Informer rank, game title, platform(s), and year of publication from the original article; I believe using this data for commentary is covered by Fair Use. I added platforms in a few places to account for the particular port of a game that I played. I have also added columns for myself, for Played, Owned, and Completed. The full table and further analysis is below the cut.

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Posted in Video Games Tagged with: , , , , , ,

Underworld 3: Not Terrible

I know what you’re thinking. Why would I inflict this movie on myself? Well, I find no shame in admitting that I liked Underworld, mostly liked Underworld 2: Electric Boogaloo: Evolution, and generally don’t mind crazy action/horror movies that primarily involve Kate Beckinsale kicking ass and taking names. I had seen several previews for Underworld: Rise of the Lycans, and was going in with pretty low expectations for a prequel. I am going to try to keep this review spoiler-free.

If you’re interested in a plot synopsis, check out the Wikipedia article. Well, you may be surprised, but I liked this movie. Yes, it was terribly cheesy, but in an entertaining way. There was a metric boatload of computer graphics, to enhance the fight scenes; I’d say the most unrealistic aspect were the excessive sprays of blood. Bill Nighy seems to have been born to play an over-the-top vampire villain. I’m guessing Michael Sheen would prefer to be remembered this year for his work on Frost/Nixon, but he did a good job given what he had to work with. Based on the previews, I thought this movie had a distinct lack of Kate Beckinsale. I was surprised when she (yes, I know, getting to that…) showed up early on in the movie, and then proceeded to hang around the entire movie. I didn’t realize that the part of Sonja was not some past version of Selene until the very end of the movie, that’s how much Rhona Mitra and Kate Beckinsale look alike (especially when made up and costumed similarly). I would not be surprised at all if most viewers were also confused (it had been a few years since I had seen the first movie, in which they reference the fact that Selene is Viktor’s “replacement” daughter).

As far as the writing goes, my biggest complaint was pretty much with the cheesiness of some lines, and not so much with the overall plot and where it fit into the Underworld series.. Another review I saw online called it “were-Spartacus”, and that was pretty much my problem – these post-Enlightenment ideals about freedom and self-determination (for the werewolves Lycans, out from under their vampire masters) just didn’t fit in the dark fantasy setting. There were some nice rousing speeches, and they certainly tried to make Viktor’s dictator-character as ruthless and decadent as possible… but it just didn’t quite fit, somehow.

I thought the costuming was pretty cool, from the worker leather armor of the Lycans to the almost elf-like Death Dealer armor. I’d say that Weta Workshop’s work on the Lord of the Rings movies really raised the bar on what people expect from fantasy movies in terms of prop detail, even for a prequel with relatively low expectations like U:RotL.

I should also add that I have no interest in getting into the whole debacle about whether or not this series rips off of White Wolf’s intellectual property; you can read a bit about that on Wikipedia, but since there was no final decision in any lawsuit, I see it as a moot argument. It falls into other silly geek debates like how Warcraft rips off Warhammer, D&D rips off Tolkien, Star Wars rips off Kurosawa, etc., etc. Feel free to argue the point, I just won’t reply :oP.

Posted in Movie Reviews, Reviews Tagged with: , , ,

Nicolas Ward

Software engineer in Natural Language Processing research by day; gamer, reader, and aspiring UltraNurd by night. Husband to Andrle
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