Monthly Archives: February 2013

B.G. Willers Podcast – Melting Snow

The storm has finally moved on!  I’ve been a bachelor for a few days so I cranked out a podcast.

Topics:

  • Winter Storm Agatha
  • Vectrex… again.
  • Backlog of games grows
  • Andrea got Guild Wars 2!
  • EA Wants Games to Cost $69
  • Podcast Music
  • Mystery Song

DOWNLOAD HERE

Impending Doom

Agatha

I’m ready for it.  Bring it on.  I have plenty of beer.  I have Spam and bread.  I have a wiener dog for company.  I have 4 stacks of firewood.  So even if we lose power for a few days, I can handle it.

At work we took it upon ourselves to dub this coming storm, “Winter Storm Agatha”.  We’ve been using that term on the air on two radio stations and on the work Facebook pages.  I’m curious to see if people just assume we know what we are talking about or not.  Haha.  I figure if the Weather Channel can unilaterally name a blizzard “Nemo” we can call this one Agatha.

One of two things will ultimately happen.  One, I get out of work before it gets really nasty tomorrow, get home, and likely snowed in Thursday morning.  Or two, things get too nasty to drive home after work Wednesday and I end up getting stuck at the radio station.  I’d much rather be stuck at home than at work.  But we’ll just have to see what happens.  I really don’t want to get the Cutlass stuck anywhere, so I’m not going to take any travel chances.  I’m just going to stock up on creature comforts and food on my way to work tomorrow and hope I don’t need any of them.

My gut always tells me they over exaggerate these storms.  They seem pretty certain this will be a fairly significant event though.  So we’ll see what actually materializes.  Dad said it best when I was talking to him on the phone tonight, “They’ve narrowed it down.  We are for sure going to get somewhere between 2 and 22 inches of snow.”  Haha.

Hunker down.  Agatha beckons!

Why I Hate People

meteor

So early this morning a ten ton space rock slammed into the atmosphere above Siberia.  It streaked across the sky then exploded with the force of an atomic bomb miles above the surface.  It was an amazing sight but also somewhat tragic as around 1,000 peopled were injured by shattered glass from the enormous shockwave it created tearing through the air.  Now for thousands of people it has become difficult to heat their homes and businesses with no windows in weather that is well below freezing.

But taking away the spectacle and tragedy of the event I found myself appreciating one fact.  For once, at long last, here’s an event that no one can point fingers on.  This meteoroid had been circling the sun long before humans even walked on the earth.  From the moment the universe was created, that ten ton rock was destined to crash down to earth today, whether there were humans here or not.  So we can’t blame it on global warming, politicians, corporations or policies.  There are certain forces in our continuum that are beyond our ability to control, and this was a shining (literally) example one of them.  A tragedy of inescapable fate.

But even I underestimated human arrogance.  It didn’t take long for political figures to call for more robust sky searching and a plans to seek and shoot these things out of the sky.  Commentors on the stories cried of the injustices of cutting science and exploration program budgets that could have PREVENTED this!  I find it hard to believe that some people think so highly of the human race.  That we are only a few misplaced intentions away from solving any problem that stands in our path to Utopia. Doesn’t anyone ever reflect on our utter insignificance in the universe?

I think people just don’t fathom the scale involved here.  The sky is a big place. The sky is measured in degrees, and the total area of the sky is about 40,000 square degrees.  By comparison the moon is only about 0.5 degrees across, which gives an area of approximately 0.2 square degrees.  So the moon takes up only 0.0005% of the sky.  That’s one-twenty-thousandth of the sky!  And you thought the moon was pretty big!  And it is.  It’s 2,150 miles wide and it’s 239,000 miles away.  Let’s compare that to this meteor that is guestimated to be (generously) 60 feet wide.  So the moon is 189,000 times larger than this meteor.  Therefore if we would have discovered this meteor as it came within the orbit of the moon around earth, it would still only appear in 1/3.8×10^10 of the sky.  That’s 1/38 billionth of the sky.  In other words… it would have been remarkable to have seen this thing coming.

Now let’s talk about the speed.  This thing entered the atmosphere at 19 miles PER SECOND.  Let’s say IF you caught sight of this tiny little thing at the same distance of the moon’s orbit, you would have almost exactly 3.5 hours until impact.  That’s 3.5 hours to detect it, calculate the trajectory, inform missle command, evaluate the probability of hitting a populated area, program the missile guidance, launch the missle and intercept the meteoriod.  Does anything happen that fast at your job?

Let’s face it.  Our lives here are insignificant and fragile.  We can no more prevent our demise than we can take credit for our existence.  That’s not a “God” thing, it’s just a sum of the forces at work in the universe.  On most days we can blame each other for most of our problems… but today was not one of those days.

B.G. Willers Podcast – Vectorized

Well, I bet you can guess what half of this podcast is about.  I promise it’s not all Vectrex though!

vectrex1

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Luke & Mommy Playing

Sorry.  Now with video!

Guild Wars Adventures with Matt & Andrea: Part 1

Sorry about the sound quality.  I had trouble getting my headset working so I ended up using my cellphone which turns out didn’t work well at all.  Andrea’s audio sounded great though.

More than anything this was just something fun we decided to do after listening to the Guild Wars Soundtrack the other day and getting all nostalgic.  We decided to start brand new characters, just like it was day one all over again.

Here’s Part 1, I’ll make sure I get a new headset before I record part 2.

Unboxing the Vectrex

Happy Vectrex Day!

I hereby dub February 7th as Vectrex Day hence forth on B.G. Willers.com!  I wasn’t too sure if it would even show up today, because the the tracking information never updated once the package left Wichita.  So in an effort to not get my hopes up, I just figured it would come in tomorrow.  Then the mailman comes lugging a box up the stairs at the office around 10:00AM today and with “FRAGILE” written all over it, I knew it HAD to be the Vectrex.

Of course each and every passer by had to make the “Frajeelee” joke from A Christmas Story, and plenty of “What’s in the box?” questions.  I had no problem sharing with my co-workers what hopefully sat inside that box, a hopefully functioning Vectrex.  But I wanted to wait until I got home to open it up.  I’ve been dying to make some videos, and this was the perfect opportunity.  So with great restraint I let the box sit on my desk behind the monitors.  It did help that I had a ton of work to do today which served as a useful distraction.

After work I really just wanted to go straight home and tear into the package, but I had to stop off and do some computer work.  The good news was that by the time I got there, their computer was magically working just fine.  Sometimes just threatening computers with my presence is enough to fix them I guess.  So at long last I was heading home.

Got the package in the house, cleared off the poker table and set it down.  I’d feel a little guilty though if I didn’t spend a little time with my family that I hadn’t seen all day first, so we all ate supper first.  Afterwards, the three of us headed down to the basement.  Luke was in a super good mood and all he wanted to do was play.  I didn’t really want to record a video with his squawks and squeals in the background, so I figured I’d just hold off a little bit longer until he went to bed.  So instead we watched Andrea hilariously play some Gran Tourismo 5.  I say hilariously because it took her some time to get used to the controls, so there was a lot of time where all four wheels weren’t on the ground.

I bet you’re tired of looking at a cardboard box… so was I!

At long last, Luke was going to bed, and Andrea was on her PC, so I could fire up the camera.  I have the video uploading now, but thanks to my awful service provider, it’s going to take 15 hours to upload.  So you’ll just have to enjoy some still images for now.

For the most part it still works very well.  If there are any flaws they are minor.  The images are slightly off center, but I believe there are some Horiz & Vert adjustments you can make inside the case.  There is a bit of a hum in the sound, but I think most Vectrexes had that when they were brand new.  And I found some guides that you can use to help reduce the hum.  In the video I shot, I thought there was a bit of a problem with some re-tracing going on in the middle of the screen, but turns out I just had the brightness turned up too high.

The case is a little scuffed but no cracks.  And the controller could use a good reconditioning as the joystick is a bit loose, and some of the buttons take a little extra effort to push.

All in all, I’m very happy with the purchase.  Now I just need to find a permanent place for it.

VECTREX!

Man, I haven’t been this excited for anything I’ve bought on eBay since the Panasonic Q fiasco.  A long sad story that ultimately ended with me getting screwed out of $400.  Worst case scenario, I’ll get screwed out of a lot less on this deal.

Still holding my breath to see what actually shows up in the mail this week or next, but I still can’t help but be excited.  I’ve said before that the Vectrex is my “holy grail” on my retro gaming wishlist.  Mostly because they have been going for more than we spent on the Wii U recently.  But for whatever reason, it seems like prices have gone down on them in the past few weeks.  I found one that doesn’t look quite perfect, but appears to be fully functional and in pretty good shape for something that’s 30 years old now.

For those not up to speed on what the heck a Vectrex is, here’s a fantastic review from one of my favorite Youtube Channels: Classic Game Room.

My infatuation with the Vectrex is a bit perplexing, even to me.  I never had one, nor known anyone that had one.  Honestly I’ve never even seen one with my own eyes.  So it’s not like it’s nostalgia that is drawing me in.  It’s just so totally different than anything else.  It’s like getting the keys to a time machine and being able to go back and experience these games in exactly the form they were 30 years ago.  You can hook up an NES today, but to get the purest retro experience, you need to hook that NES up to a 25 year old cathode tube TV too.  Well with the Vectrex, the video, the sound, the controller… it’s all still there preserved as one unit.

I’ve played some vector games before.  I most vividly remember a Lunar Lander arcade cabinet that they had when I was at “Space Camp” at the Cosmosphere as a kid.  But most of us are far more familiar with raster games.  Like Mario or Tetris.  Where the images are made of pixels.  On the Vectrex, there are no pixels.  Rather the images are drawn from vectors, or lines from point to point.  At the time this gave designers the ability to do some cool things, like scaling or rotating images, which required more processing power than was generally available from console hardware at the time.  One of the drawbacks was the lack of color, which actually lead to one of the Vectrex’s coolest features: the color overlays.

So yeah, I’m stoked.  Hoping not to get my dreams crushed when I open the box… that hopefully eventually arrives.