Sunday, 4 December 2016

Spacecraft, Sale Success and Stiff Necks

The word of the week is intense.

Nov 28 – Mission Accomplished!

It's funny how you sometimes find yourself back at the start of things...

I was comparing all sorts of prices from various Canadian online tech stores for half a dozen video cards last night, and in the end I wound up purchasing the very one I'd had my eye on all along, but was out of my budget's range:

The deciding factor was, of course, price: after 9 PM, all sorts of Cyber Monday discounts popped up and for this particular card by MSI, there was suddenly a 10% discount... which put it squarely inside my budget, and it was the only card of all the ones I was considering that such a substantial discount appeared for. It's crazy that some cards out there cost close to $1000+tax... which is nowhere near what I paid.

I confess, it was stressful, as my finances have been very tight this month and I was fretting that having waited all year for these sales, I wouldn't be able to get the level of replacement video card I'd be happy with, that I have to settle for something that I didn't really want but couldn't afford to jump to the next price bracket. All my months of research would be wasted and I'd have to try again when the prices finally dropped sometime in the summer of 2017 or later - a long time to wait.

Thankfully, that didn't happen, and I caught a break last night.

Now I just have to wait for the card to arrive to see just how much of an improvement it's going to make in my computer's overall speed. Even though I didn't manage to win anything in several months of trying my luck in online giveaways, I'm still pretty pleased with the price I paid today for what I got.

Nov 29 – Spacecraft 2000-2100AD!

I love how modern technology can enable fans to make incredible things.

Back when I was a boy, one of my favorite books growing up was Spacecraft 2000-2100 AD! which was a spectacular selection of sci-fi works by various artists. Each spaceship depicted had a story told over one or two pages, depending on the layout, and each one was fascinating in its own right. I vividly remember trying to get inside those stories and discover more about the ships themselves.

Now, decades later, fans of that book have taken it to the next level! Using modern CGI technology, they have created an animated 'tour' of the book, showcasing each of the ships, with the exact style and background art of the book, which is astounding. I never thought I would ever see these ships in motion!

Nov 30 – Son of a... really?

I was hoping it would last longer...

The sad news today: Pebble is getting bought out, and will vanish sometime in 2017. Meaning my lovely Pebble Time watch will be a relic, albeit a useful one until it dies.

Apparently, Fitbit is going to be buying Pebble, then shut them down.

It's a shame, but not unexpected, as Pebble's best days are well behind them. A year ago, there was an offer by Citizen to buy the company for three-quarters of a billion USD dollars... which Pebble turned down at the time, as they were riding high on their success.

Now, the company owes $25 million to their suppliers and the Fitbit buyout offer is rumored to be around $40 million - 1/10 what was being offered a little over a year ago.

Still, I'll keep using my Pebble watch until it dies, and perhaps pick up a few more cheaply on eBay sometime in 2017 to have as backups. I don't need a fancy smartwatch, just one that does everything I need it to... like the Pebble.

I certainly won't be buying a FitBit. Jerks.

Dec 1 –  More Bad News...

 Guess what was waiting in my inbox this morning?

A message from the CEO of GlowForge: it's being delayed.

However, the news isn't actually all that bad: the announcements is about a pushback from a ship date this month( December )to sometime in April or May 2017 - I can handle that.

It gives me more time to get my business website up and running, as well as focus on other things, like finishing work on my novels. It'll be nice to have some breathing space and not have to think about my GlowForge sitting at home, being underused because I don't have everything in place for it yet.

Also, the e-mail contains some very interesting addendums to help soften the blow of the shipping delay, one of which made me clap( yup! )in delight:

Isn't that incredible? My substantial investment in this device seems an even smarter choice now that it can be modified into other types of devices, albeit with the purchase of additional hardware. BUT, that expansion-hardware will listed at a be significantly lower price point as it utilizes the software and hardware that are already in place inside the GlowForge.

I'm still absorbing the news, but in the meantime, this was also released today: Adam
Savage from Mythbusters test out the Glowforge!

Dec 2   – My MSI Arrives!!!!

Talk about stressful...

Recap: After all was said and done, I managed to get the type of video card I wanted for my PC for $10 under my maximum budget, which makes me Happy.

It arrived today in the mail, which makes me even happier:

As it was my day off, I had plenty of time to pull out the old pair of video cards( two ATI 5770's from 2009 )and configure the system for the installation of the new card, which has twice the memory of both of the old ones put together and four times the speed - at least.

Installation was smooth as butter with no hiccups, and by noon I was gaming... testing out MechWarrior Online, as that's the game that I wanted to try to have the greatest graphical improvement for - and for the most part, it worked - a great card, as the reviews said!

While I discovered that I can't play the game with maximum eye candy turned on, by the afternoon, I had found the right settings to allow a much smoother average of 45 FPS( Frames Per Second )which was a big increase over the 30FPS MAXIMUM I was getting with the old setup. - one that would drop / stutter / lag significantly during the more heated parts of the game.

All in all, I'm really happy with my purchase. This card will carry me through quite nicely for the next few years until I'm able to move it into a much more capable system, which by then I should have some funds saved up for.

Dec 3 – MW5 Announced!

Finally, after 10 years, we are getting a new MechWarrior game!

It's great timing, to balance out the double whammy of bad news this week with the Pebble and the GlowForge. To be honest, I never thought that there'd be another standalone MechWarrior game and that MechWarrior online was all there was going to be... but I'm glad to be wrong!

Here's the demo, part of the announcement today at the MechWarrior Online 2016 World Championships, just across the water in Vancouver:

If you don't remember what the original games looked like, this short but wonderful video will catch you up, as it shows all the MechWarrior games released to date in order. What a long way we've come in 27 years...

Dec 4 – GoG v.2 Preview!

Dang it, not again...

The stress of this past week, combined with the carryover stress from shopping for my video card last weekend has resulted in an extremely tense set of neck muscles. While it's not debilitating to the point where I can't move my head, it does hurt to sit with my head up for long periods: my neck tendons feel like taut cables under my skin.


Along with using my neck massager( carefully )as well as some hot showers, I'm just sitting around today with a neck brace( go ahead and picture that if you must ) trying not to tense up anything above my shoulders. Good thing I don't have to go anywhere today.

Happily, the latest trailer for Guardians of the Galaxy V.2 was released today, which really helped to take my mind off things:

I'm being be very careful this coming week at work, so as not to aggravate my neck. On the bright side, I managed to walk to work - slowly - for out of the five days this week without a problem, which bodes well for considering myself as recovering in full a month or so from now. Considering all this silliness started this past August as a result of simple exercise, I'm in no hurry to rush back to that - I've still got a lot of reading to do to fully understand how to ease myself back into getting in shape again without further injury.