Category Archives: Hells Yeah!

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.

 

Advertisements

A Great Day For U

We got our Wii U yesterday.  I haven’t spent a TON of time with it yet, but so far it’s pretty sweet.

Luke and I got to Gamestop at about 11:00am, and it turns out they said we were the first person to come pick theirs up!  At first I thought, “Well that’s lame, when I was younger, I would have been waiting at the door for the store to open!”  But then he said that Wal-Mart got a ton of them and decided to do a midnite launch, so a bunch of Gamestop people cancelled their pre-order and went to get it at Wal-Mart at midnight.  That made me feel better.  There’s still some gaming and Nintendo fanaticism left in the world.

We decided to go with the “Deluxe” package.  It comes with some extra stuff like stands, a charging dock, and the game Nintendoland.  Along with (I think) double the internal storage space of the basic bundle.  So for the extra $50 it’s certainly worth it over the life of the console.  Which is pretty much forever I guess, seeing as how my original NES is still in working order.  Nintendo makes some quality stuff!

I asked Andrea before she left for Wichita this weekend, “Do you want me to wait until you get home to open it?”  She said “Yes.”  And it’s a good thing I asked, or else I would have just tore into this bad boy!  But as I’ve written before, and as lame as it sounds, opening the package on this kind of stuff is a big deal for a geek like me!  And actually it kinda made me happy that I’m married to somebody who thinks its kinda a big deal too.  I mean she did want me to wait, right?

When she got home Luke had just woke up, and it didn’t take long for us to pop it open.  Everything was perfectly wrapped.  I didn’t document any of it… if you want to see what’s inside, just go to Youtube and search for “Wii U unboxing” and pick from any of the 2300 results.

It didn’t take long for the contents to get strewn all over the basement.  We had to move things around.  Unhook old stuff, hook up new stuff.

The keyboards on the floor were Luke’s doing, haha.

We decided to move the Wii to make room for the Wii U.  Since the U will play all the Wii games anyway.  The Wii console will now be queued for installation into my current backburner project, the “retro” room.  More on that in a later post though.

Luke was trying to be helpful.  Or… just trying to figure out what all these new thingys do.

There’s Luke with the gamepad dock…. in his mouth.

Here’s that queue I was talking about for the Retro Room. Years of fun on this table!

So we got it all set up, and after about a 90 minute wait for the System Update… we FINALLY got to play!  Boy, I don’t know how excited kids on Christmas morning are going to be able to handle that brutal system update… It was about to drive me nuts!  But alas, we are up and running!  I’ll do some more gameplay impressions soon!  For now, I gotta get to work!

Skyfall

We saw the new James Bond movie tonight.  Andrea’s sister Michelle and her family came up here to see it in the theater on opening night.  Our little theater here isn’t much, but it’s still kind of cool to go see a 007 film on opening night.

I’ve been avoiding a lot of info about this movie, and after seeing it, I’m glad I did.  Holy crap it was amazing.  I’m not going to even speak of certain scenes or anything.  If you’re a Bond fan even a little bit, you have to see this one.  There’s a lot of throwbacks to the old films, but they are nice and subtle for the most part.

What I will say in more broad terms is that these Daniel Craig Bond movies are really becoming my favorites.  They are grittier, darker, and more emotional that what Bond used to be.  They just feel meatier.  Bond has always been an action packed romp though the world of sex and espionage, but these new ones just have their own panache.  Okay, I’ll say it.  I think Daniel Craig is my favorite Bond.  Man… that was kind of hard to do.

The highlight of the night though, came after the film.  I was walking out of the theater, and I heard a kid, probably 14 or so.  And he said to somebody, “How many people can say they went to see 007 on opening night?”

I instantly smiled.  Because that was exactly me when I was that age.  I was such a Bond geek.  I suppose I still am, I just don’t allow myself to indulge like I used to.  But I got to thinking about bow BIG OF A DEAL the release of Tomorrow Never Dies was for me.  Oh, I followed all the hype, and bought into all the product placement stuff, and just completely dove in.  Seeing 007 on opening night for me WAS a big deal.  So hearing that kid say that with the same enthusiasm I used to have, just took me back to that place instantly.

Watch Skyfall.  And once it comes out on video, I’ll post all sorts of spoiler-rific stuff about it.  Because I’m really excited to talk about it all.  But I don’t want to ruin the experience for anyone else.  Going into this film not knowing what to expect is by far the best way to experience it.

Jeep gets new exhaust

So literally the day after we bought the Jeep.  The Check Engine light came on.  Took it to Autozone to read the code and it said “Catalytic Converter Efficiency Low”.  Basically on these new fangled things, it has not one, but two oxygen sensors.  One in front of the cat converter, and one behind it. It compares the two readings and if they are too close, it deduces that the cat isn’t doing its job and should be replaced.

And because I want to save the planet… we’re fixing it.

I test fitted everything together.  We got all the parts from RockAuto.com, since the local Autozone & O’Reilly’s couldn’t get the front pipe.  With a handy discount code that almost payed for the shipping, everything came out to just a couple bucks over $300.  Not bad considering a exhaust shop was going to charge $400 to JUST replace the cat.

Getting the tailpipe out was definitely the hardest part.  I tried cutting the pipe, but the exhaust pipe cutter I got on load from AutoZone was junk.  So luckily the old muffler was so crusty, I just hammered on the pipe until it popped out of the muffler.

My little jack is small, but it has served me well for the cars we’ve always had.  The Jeep is about 6 inches higher off the ground though.  And fully extended my jack didn’t even reach the undercarriage!  Forced to make do with what I had, I came up with the above scary setup.  Luckily I didn’t have to actually be underneath the Jeep while it was jacked up like this.  Because that’s some serious red-neck engineering right there.  If I want to keep working on this thing, I’m going to have to get a bigger jack, that’s for sure.

I had to jack it up to get the tail pipe over the axle, and I had to unbolt the track bar and drop that down too.  After that, it was pretty easy to pull the old crusty one out and slide the new one in.  Then I promptly put the wheel back on and got the vehicle back on the ground and off of that crazy ass setup!  I could just see a cinder block exploding and the whole thing crashing down.

I had to make one more cut in front of the cat and after that, everything came out with relative ease.

The whole job was prompted by the check engine light, but it was also a good excuse just to redo the whole exhaust because it had some definite leaks.  The old muffler was just plain wore out.  It had pinholes from corrosion all over it  and as you can see above was super crusty.

I didn’t get any pics of the re-assembly process because once it all started going together, I got on a roll.  Hardest part was getting everything lined up and tucked up as good as possible.  I probably straightened that muffler 10 times before I tightened everything up and it’s still crooked… oh well.  Nothing I can do about it now as it’s all locked in place.  And it’s not like anyone will see it anyway.  It is nice to see the fresh exhaust in there.  Feels rewarding.

Seems like it did what it was supposed to.  It’s definitely quieter.  We cleared the check engine code with our new code scanner.

I have to say, it was super nice working on something that wasn’t rusted solid like our other old cars.  The O2 sensors and even the bolts going into the exhaust manifold all came loose with relative ease!  Is this why people don’t usually drive 30 year old cars?  Haha.

Wow. OSU Marching Band plays video games

The Newest Addition: 1996 Grand Cherokee

Well I realized a while ago, I haven’t posted anything on here about our new vehicle.  When the Toronado went down, after about a week it became obvious that I wasn’t going to get it running in the immediate future.  So we couldn’t be with just one vehicle, that would leave Andrea and Luke stranded out here in the sticks any time I’m at work.

So we looked around, but I didn’t want to take the first thing that came along just because we were desperate.  Even though we kinda were desperate. We test drove a crappy little Ford Escort for a day.  It got great mileage, but it was TINY… two doors, and had a big dent in the side.  Driving it felt a lot like driving Andrea’s old Mustang again, only less cool and in worse shape.  I drove it around thinking… if we got this car I would hate driving it every day I have it.  If I don’t feel anything for a car, then it starts to get neglected.  And when it starts to get neglected, it starts falling apart.  So I made up my mind that I wanted something I at least LIKED, even if it was less than ideal.

I had put the word out to everyone I knew to keep an eye peeled for a car that was in our price range.  Andrea and I debated for a couple days about whether to take on a car payment or not.  Even I, seriously considered it.  But just the thought of it felt restrictive.  You know how you feel when you get a raise at work, and you have a little extra breathing room?  Well this felt the opposite of that.  So we made up our mind to look for something we could buy outright if at all possible.

Andrea and I discussed a lot of vehicles while we were looking through classifieds.  Most of the times the cars that Andrea liked were too expensive, and most of the cars that I liked were too… “grandpa”.  Then on my way to go get my new cell phone, I drove by this Jeep out front of a little car dealership.  I knew a Jeep was one of the things she would drive.  And I didn’t mind the idea of a sport utility.  Heck we are used to crappy gas mileage anyway.  But I also knew she hated red.  But it was a Jeep in our price range.  I had that going for me.  Nevertheless, I took it on a test drive and headed to Albert to see what she would say.

Here’s the picture I snapped before we bought it.

It drove right down the road.  It was clean.  It needed a list of little things done to it like latches and some touch ups here and there.  But it seemed solid and reliable.  I don’t know what Andrea thought when she first saw it, but when I saw it driving by I thought, “That would be perfect… and extraordinarily ordinary“.  Haha.

It is by far the most average vehicle we’ve had in a long time, but I like it!  It’s comfortable, it’s not hacked to bits. And while it’s not perfect by far, I can still take some pride in it.

I got it all detailed and took a bunch of pictures today out at Pawnee Rock.  I think it looks pretty good for an old average commonplace Jeep Grand Cherokee.

Lots more pictures if you keep reading…..

Read the rest of this entry

Super Fun Weekend

After all the stress lately, this past weekend was exactly what was needed.  Some family came up and we went out to the Great Bend Airfest.  I was really worried that I would be dissapointed by what showed up, but it was completely awesome.  There were several vintage planes out there from the 1940’s, mostly WWII trainers and such, but the really cool ones were the B-25, and the P-51, both beautiful planes.

I took a bunch of pictures, but here’s some of the highlights:

Whoops… didn’t see that until later.

I have to say the P-51 is one of the most beautiful planes ever made.

 

There’s a lot more pictures, so click through to see them, or check out my gallery to see A LOT more.

Read the rest of this entry

I can finally talk about it

We just launched a new radio station at work on Wednesday.  I’ve been working on it for quite a while, but haven’t been able to say anything.  It’s pretty cool because they kinda just left it up to me to go make a radio station.  Not that I’m really qualified to do such things, but I gave it a shot, and it’s at least a radio station by definition.  Whether it’s a good radio station will remain to be seen.

I had a lot of freedom.  Infact I designed the logo for the station myself.  I hope I don’t come across as much of a bragger on here, but I am pretty proud of it.  The logo, and the station itself.  And for probably the second time ever, my artwork is on display somewhere in real life, not just the interwebs!  I designed the the banner for the electronic billboard we’re leasing for the next few months.

I have a show on the station 3pm – 8pm Monday through Saturday, so feel free to tune in if you are around.  We aren’t streaming yet, but we will be next month.

Guild Wars 2 – World vs World

I was trying to explain this in my last post about the Guild Wars 2 beta weekend.  This video does a far better job of explaining what WvW is…..  awesome.

Guild Wars 2 – Final Pre-Release Impressions

Guild Wars 2 could be the worst thing to happen to my real world social life.  Or the best thing.  Depends on how you look at it.

I spent as much time as I could playing the beta this past weekend.  It started off with a race to get onto the server we wanted.  A process which included remotely logging into the home computer from work and enduring the slideshow of setting up a character and choosing a server.  It’s a good thing we did though, otherwise the server would have been full by the time I got home from work.  I say “good thing” though the people who I was trying to play with on that server never ended up getting on… Hope you had fun doing less fun, more lame things.

I created an Asura elementalist.  I chose both a race and profession I don’t intend to play as my main character when the game is released.  But it turned out to be fantastically fun.  I’ve never particularly enjoyed the spellcaster role in games, but this just feels so much different.  You aren’t standing in one place spamming spells.  You’re constantly dodging attacks and trying to get position so your onslaught has the greatest effect.  It had a lot more similarities to the Mesmer I played last beta weekend, but I really enjoyed the zipping back and forth between close and ranged attacks that the Mesmer had.

I played a fair amount of PvE; just general exploring and questing along with the multitude of dynamic events that pop up as your wandering around.  The Asura starting area is very cool.  But not as mind blowing as the human area.  It’s hard to compare to Divinity’s Reach, though Rata Sum, the Asura city, does have a very techy sci-fi feel to it that fits their personality to a tee.

But by and large what consumed most of time time was World vs. World.  This is multiplayer PvP on a massive scale.  Literally hundreds of players on a single map battling for stratigic locations.  Supply camps generate supply and allow you to reinforce your castles or build siege weapons to bring down opposing structures or players.  They are relatively defenseless but are often near the edges of the map behind castles or keeps making them somewhat secure by geography.  Towers and keeps are heavily fortified and a battle to take down a keep can take literally hours depending on how well defended it is.

Supply can be carried by players and used to repair the damage that the attacking force, sometimes 50 or more players, are doing.  Or it can be used to build weapons to repel the mass of attackers.  The result is battles for a single map position that can last hours and require some loose strategic thinking.  I use the term loose, because there are really not clear “commanders” on your team.  The result is more like a large flock of birds that moves as a process greater any one individual in that flock.  I’m sure as the community matures more effective strategy will become common place.  For now it’s fun just being a part of this “force” that crashes against walls like waves against a cliff until that wall finally gives way.  When the walls on a castle come down and your group pours through, it really feels like what you see in the movies when the gates fall and the hordes go rushing in.  Except less pillaging.

Though the rewards are still compelling in WvW.  You get experience for everything you do.  Whether its straight forward attacking, or just escorting supply packs from A to B.  You can really play at your own pace and make a meaningful contribution to your team’s objective.

I was excited to play WvW, but I certianly didn’t expect to get sucked in like I did.  But that pretty much sums up everything about this game I’ve played so far.  Everything I’ve tried has been fun and engaging.  But most of all, it all just feels so natural.  Now just 4 long weeks until I get to play again.  But I won’t feel required to play as intensely during these beta weekends, because I’ll know at that time, I can log on whenever I want… no subscription fees.  Hells yeah.  This game is going to rock.  Now just to find a good guild.