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As a heavy PC user, I tend to upgrade or change my system every few years. My previous desktop had 3 years now so I started to look for replacements. I hesitated between a laptop, upgrade parts for my current system, and something that seems to be gaining traction: an all-in-one PC. I tried a laptop some years ago and found the experience displeasing. To get the same amount of performance in the smaller form factor requires a lot more money, and I dislike having a screen so close to the keyboard.
I was very tempted by the all-in-one since to me, Windows 8 only makes sense with a touch screen. But the problem is that even though the form factor is much better, you still end up with laptop components, capped in wattage and without a discrete video card, meaning you need to pay far more for the desktop equivalent. Since I play games and make renders, I need a certain performance. In the end, I decided to buy parts and build an upgraded desktop. This is what I ended up with:
* Intel i5 4570k 3.4GHz
* Gigabyte GA-H87N-Wifi board
* Cooler Master Elite 120 case
* 8G of memory
* 500GB hard drive
* Zotac GTX 650 Ti
* 27'' LG 27BW IPS monitor
I have to say the much larger monitor is what makes the biggest difference, and a fresh Windows install helps also. I kept the drive and PSU. The case I picked especially because of its small, more compact size, and the new 4th Gen Intel chip is much faster (I'm no fan of AMD). As for the board, I had some issues getting it installed and would not recommend it. Overall, it gives me much more power than a laptop or all-in-one would and costs several hundreds less.
So Blizzard revealed the next World of Warcraft expansion, something I was looking forward to since I still play WoW rather regularly, despite MoP not turning out all that great as I had predicted, and the rumors pointed to an epic storyline about the Blood Legion invading. Unfortunately this isn't what we got.
- New level cap at 100 with ability to boost to 90 instantly. This can be good for altoholics I suppose, but I feel this will empty out 90% of the world as nobody levels up anymore.
- Expansion centred around Orcs, starting with Garrosh. This is so disappointing. We just got done dealing with him and a million orcs, and now we go back to Draenor, the land of the orcs. Then there's the whole time travel deal which is worth a massive facepalm.
- New character models. This I was worried about, having experienced the same back in EverQuest, but it seems they are just improving the resolution of current models, so that's fine I guess.
- Garrisons. I personally like player housing as a place to customize and display achievements in a visual way, but the way they explain it I fear it will become too much like a RTS inside of a RPG. I never got into the FarmVille they added in MoP for that reason.
- No new race or class. It's a slight disappointment, but it does seem too bad.
My main issue really is that they could have made a great expansion with an epic storyline, and even a hero class with the demon hunter. Instead we get orcs and more orcs, along with time travel. I am pretty pessimistic once again. I felt MoP was the worse expansion to date, and WoD may manage to be pretty close.
I hesitated a lot before buying an Apple TV. I don't use a Mac, but I have an iPhone and iPad. My TV used to share a connection between my BluRay player and PC, which I used to play stuff like YouTube, podcasts, TV shows and such. The main issues I had was dealing constantly with the TV being seen as a secondary monitor, and the awful iTunes interface on the PC. As I buy more and more things on iTunes, it made sense to look at Apple TV.
On the plus side, it's very easy to play bought movies and TV shows. Everything can be accessed easily from the main screen, and regardless whether I use my phone, tablet or TV, all the content is there. It also works nicely for podcasts, with pretty much all the popular shows available there, and again it all syncs between devices. Everything is responsive which is a nice change from my Samsung player which is slow as hell. With the addition of AirPlay and the ability to stream to the TV, it's a pretty nice device.
On the down side, the YouTube app is terrible, barely usable. Fortunately I can use the iOS app and AirPlay the videos over. Also, I wish iTunes had more sales, especially for older shows, but that's not really an Apple TV issue. I'm happy with the purchase and would recommend one to anyone who lives in the Apple media universe, at least partially.
Games used to be about a lot of things for me. The lore, the story, graphics, but also the challenge and gameplay. I still remember the original EverQuest, a game I played for so many years back in early 2000s, and the challenge in this game was the epitome of MMO gaming. Raiding a new area took 72 people and many hours of practice. I never got bored of it, and was among those complaining when the industry eased the challenges, making the game more approachable. I also remember early Dungeons and Dragons titles from the 90s, and the hundreds of hours spent killing monsters.
But as I become older, I just don't have the same drive anymore. What used to be a challenge now seems like a chore, and what used to be core gameplay, like killing endless amounts of monsters or collecting virtual loot for hours is now a grind. I used to care deeply about weapon handling and recoil in shooting games, now I can't be bothered. I'm still very interested in the story, but the gameplay just isn't what it used to be, to the point that for some games, I find it far more pleasant to watch a Lets Play session on YouTube than play through the actual game. I now spend more time and money on movies and TV shows than on games.
So did I go soft, and join the crowd to which these easier and easier games seem to be aimed at, or am I just getting old? I think there's a physiological change that happens and explains why most gamers are around 15-25, and I'm just physically out of the gaming generation. It feels strange.
I'm an iPhone user, because I simply like it better than Android. I tried two Android phones over the years, the Nexus G1 back in the day, and the Samsung Galaxy S3. The hardware was great, but I just never liked Android, for many reasons. Now with Apple introducing the iPhone 5S and 5C, I'm slightly disappointed. The major feature that the company pushed is the fingerprint scanner. I think like most other security systems, it won't be long for bad guys to find a way around this. One rule in security is that once you have physical access to a device, it's just a matter of time until you can break in. Other than that, the 5S has a slightly better camera and some more color options, nothing that entices me.
With that said, some may be tempted to switch to another platform, but I'm keeping my iPhone 5. I still think it's the best phone out there, and the main reason is iOS. Apple is well known for its ultra-controlling attitude, but this can be both a curse and a blessing. This means apps can't send you spam in your notification bar, they can't run in the background and eat battery life even after you tried to kill them, it means you aren't stuck with carrier apps that you can't remove, and it means you get a consistent experience across the interface, all things that annoyed me both times I used Android.
So in my opinion, the iPhone 5S was a pretty weak announcement, not a device I'm intending to get. But with that said, I'm still an iPhone fan and will keep using my iPhone 5.
I haven't been doing emergency preparedness for very long, and last month I took care of my medical supplies by getting the minimum I think I should have for $50. This month I decided to do the same things for tools. On this front, things were a bit different. I did have some tools already, but they were spread all around my place and of little use. For example I had at least 4 sets of screwdrivers, most of them of poor quality or broken. So I decided to set my limit to $50 again and get a decent looking toolbox that could be of use both in daily life and in case of a survival event, disaster, emergency, etc. This is what I came out with:
The box was actually a great find I got from Staples for $18, and is big enough to fit everything in it. The following tools is what I would consider essentials, things to bring in case of a bug out situation:
There's work gloves, a T-shaped screwdriver that accepts both screwdriver bits and socket bits along with a belt holster, a Dead-On urban demolition tool which includes a mace, demolition bar, wrench, axe and chisel, a foldable saw with holster, and a small case with screws, nails, bits, and so on.
Finally, here are the other items in the box:
Obviously there could be a number of other items but I wanted to keep this to a minimum, and have it all fit inside of a single case.
Inspired by a truck load of EDC (Every Day Carry) videos and forum posts I've seen, here is my updated EDC for urban living, along with some points I'd like to make about it.
- Why no bag?
I dislike wearing bags in normal situations, so unless I go out for an extended period I only carry these things, which fit in my pockets and that belt case. This is for daily use and short term emergencies. The goal in those items is weight, cost and usefulness.
- Why no shelter, fire making material, rope, hammack?
I live downtown. If I need shelters there are buildings everywhere, and I won't freeze to death in them. I'm not planning to run into the wood at the first emergency.
- Why no weapon?
I live in Canada.
- What's with the tiny bottle?
Water is big and heavy. That 100ml of water weighs more than everything else combined. This is enough to keep me hydrated, and with water fountains everywhere I always keep it full. If I know I'll be outside for an extended period then I'll bring a bag and a bigger bottle.
- Why no multi tool?
I dislike most multi tools. They come with a lot of useless or redundant tools and they tend to be lackluster. I would rather carry less tools but items that work well.
- What pocket knife is it?
No idea on the brand, but it's serrated and costs $15, works well enough. I'm waiting for the Gerber one to try out which might replace this one.
- What's on the key ring?
A USB key with system utilities for any PC work, a small AAA LED flashlight, Philips and flat key screwdrivers, very solid and with better torque than many multi tools.
- And the iPhone case?
This is a battery case allowing my phone to work multiple days, very useful item. I don't usually carry a charger.
I rarely buy games at release date, instead I wait for them to be on sale much later down the road. But I liked Saints Row 3 so much that I decided to pre-order the sequel. Unfortunately, this proved to be a disappointment.
Basically, they turned the game into a platformer, and I hate platformers. Because of the super-powers that you get, you're constantly jumping into the air, running at full speed, blasting enemies with your hands and flying into the air. Sure there are vehicles, customization, and all that fun stuff from before, but all of it is pointless since it's far quicker to just fly across the city than to take a car. Half the activities are also clearly designed to make you use those powers, like climbing tall towers, collecting items on roof tops or jumping between platforms, activities that seem to be completely pointless other than having you use your super-powers.
As if changing SR4 to become a super-hero platformer arcade title wasn't enough, it released with serious bugs. I had the game crash on me four times, twice losing significant progress, and looking through the forums that seems to be common. The storyline was also more repetitive than SR3 and lasted a shorter amount of time. Overall, I didn't find Saints Row 4 worth the hype. 6/10
I recently decided to buy a transceiver radio for emergencies so here's a quick review of the model I picked, a Wouxun UVD1P which came straight from Hong Kong for $103, shipping included.
The radio itself is small, very small, which is one of the reasons I picked this one. It also came with a lot of accessories for a very reasonable price, including a desktop charger, car charger, belt clip, rechargeable Li Ion battery and headset. First, a lot of people say this is a very hard radio to program without software, but I didn't find it hard at all, if anything I found the menus to be pretty weird. The layout is weird, but once I knew how they worked, I could scan, save memories and program repeaters easily. Also, even though it supports several bands, 136-174 MHz and 420-520 MHz in my case, I wish it supported more. The 400-420 MHz range for example would have been nice, since it contains a lot of emergency services and other nice scanner frequencies.
On the plus side, the radio supports all the right encoding for things like repeaters with frequency offsets and PL tones, and it can listen in on many useful frequencies. Many Ham bands are covered, although I was sad to see they aren't used much around here. Out of a dozen repeaters I checked out that are supposed to operate in Montreal, I only found activity on one. It's also an FM radio and has a built-in flashlight. So despite the weird menus and lack of some interesting frequencies, the small size and different features, along with the price, make it fine for my purpose, which is to monitor frequencies, and be able to communicate in case of an emergency.
There are two types of games, those I decide to buy now or in the future, and those I'm unlikely to play, so I'll just watch them on YouTube instead. When The Walking Dead came out, I didn't know anything about it, and hadn't even watched the TV series yet, so I watched a video. But the walkthrough was so fun to watch that when it went on sale I decided to get it. I have to say it's a great game. The graphics aren't much, but the colored book style is pretty nice. I typically play games for the story, and this is one of the best title to get for a great story. The action is very sandboxed, but that's fine with me. The big feature that the developers promote is the fact that your decisions influence the story, and I would say it does influence far more than most games out there, however I wish it influenced things a bit more. A lot of decisions appear as though they matter but in the end they don't matter at all. Overall I would give this a 9/10.
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Hi, my name is Patrick Lambert and I'm a freelance content creator living in Montreal, Canada. I have over 15 years of experience in technology and I create content for many different industries.
I've written for...
...and many more!
- Steam - My Steam profile
- IMDb - My movie ratings
- TideArt - Web site for artists.
- Presentations I made:
- Android Apps - The Android Apps I've created.
- Commissions - Information if you want to commission art from me.
- Aurebesh - Learn the language of Star Wars.
- Two-Factor Authentication - Google Authenticator demo.
- Crypt - Free online encryption and hashing service.
- Vue Tutorials:
- 3D Models - All the 3D models I've done and released for free on ShareCG.
- Old C Projects - This is a zip file of my old (10-15 years) Linux projects that probably don't even compile anymore.