Friday, June 28, 2013

Rant Ramblings: Week of 6-28-13

My first book is now available for the Nook, Kobo, and Apple devices, as well as the Kindle. You can download it here, and you'll receive a zip file containing Nightmare Escapade in mobi, epub, and pdf formats, so you'll be able to read it on pretty much any device. Go check it out, and spread the word!

Weird Al did an AMA yesterday! Go check it out, some good stuff in there.

There have been plenty of "I found a sealed safe!" posts on Reddit, but here's a photo album from someone who actually followed up, opened it, and photographed the contents!

That's it for this week! Just haven't had the time to put together a larger post this week, between working on my next book and the usual stuff. (Although, I've been working on it long enough that it probably is part of "the usual stuff" at this point.) Anyway, everyone enjoy the weekend, and I'll see you next week!

Friday, June 21, 2013

Rant Ramblings: Week of 6-21-13

What a week! Wednesday brought the stunning news that Microsoft has done a complete 180 on the mandatory online check-in and the used game restrictions that were recently announced for the upcoming Xbox One console. (Although the internet was quick to claim some sort of victory, we can be pretty damn sure the move is motivated by Microsoft's realization that it would wind up making far less money if it dug in its heels and stuck with the various restrictions. The outcry was loud and violent enough that it was an unmistakable conclusion.)
Personally, I thought the announced policies were restrictive enough that they partly led to my decision to preorder a PS4 rather than an Xbone, but the outcry was taken to rather ridiculous levels. Reddit, in particular, seemed extremely hypocritical; Valve's Steam platform is absolutely adored, and Valve can do no wrong, but when Microsoft tried to implement something very damn close to Steam's system, they were crucified for it. I think the restrictions were a bad idea, but I don't like them on Steam, either. Of course, it must be noted that Steam also brings many positive features to the table along with the drawbacks, and Microsoft was bringing the negative aspects of the service with no evidence that the good stuff would be included with them. People do not like being told how they can buy their games and what they can do with them, and if you're gonna try doing that, you'd damn well better have some great bonuses to make up for that lack of freedom. Microsoft may well have delivered on that, but there was no indication that they would, and they paid the price. Under the circumstances, backing down was far and away the best option.
If you're still undecided about which next-gen console you want, here's a handy graphic with direct comparisons in pretty much every category.

Here is a fun photo gallery chronicling a group of people decorating an old van with Sharpies.

Stephen King did an AMA, so you might wanna check that out.

Finally, I've gotten pretty sick of some of the complaints about Man of Steel, the thoroughly awesome Superman movie that debuted last week. (Maybe you've heard of it.)  No movie is flawless, of course, and I have no issue with people who just didn't dig the movie. However, some of the incessant gripes are downright ridiculous, even by the standard of whining we've come to expect from the internet whenever a comic-based movie is made. Spoilers lie ahead, so highlight the following if you want to keep reading: "Superman DOES NOT KILL" has become the mantra for a great many people in the past week. To them I say, "Oh, is that so?" That looks an awful lot like Superman executing three super-powered criminals to me! Oh, and one of them is General Zod, the very same dude who Superman is forced to kill in Man of Steel! This is from 1988's Superman #22. Not a hoax, not an imaginary story! It also bears mention that the beloved Christopher Reeve version of Superman also killed Zod in Superman 2. I've never heard anyone go apeshit over that, and Superman was far more callous about it, and didn't show a shred of remorse. Look, the movie has its flaws, and not everyone is gonna like it. But c'mon, don't try to bash the movie based on something as spurious as this. People love to claim fictional characters as their own in some way based on their personal ideal of the character-- and surprise, surprise, that nearly always just happens to be the version they first encountered when they were children-- and deem anything that sways from that ideal just plain wrong. If someone doesn't like the movie, that is just fine, but they should at least try to judge the movie on its own merits, without dragging their own personal baggage into it as if the director should have hired them as a consultant for the project. I don't normally get so annoyed about people on the internet disliking something, but I've encountered this several times daily since last Friday, and I had to have my say.

That's it for this week!

Friday, June 14, 2013

Rant Ramblings: Week of 6-14-13

I'm taking a break from working on my next book for this week's post, so it'll be a pretty short one.

We saw Man of Steel last night, and it is pretty awesome. Performances are fantastic across the board, Hans Zimmer's score is amazing, and WETA continues its streak as the best digital effects studio in the business. Russell Crowe is a standout, bringing so much pathos and dignity to Jor-El. I was very pleased that he has so much screen time. There is no post-credits scene, however, so don't bother waiting. I recommend the movie highly, so make a point of going to see it this weekend. Man of Steel is the Superman movie we've all been waiting for.

Much of this week has been consumed watching all the videos from E3, where Microsoft was the victim of a sound kick in the nuts by Sony. I was more interested in seeing what Microsoft brought to the table, since we'd seen little of the games that are on the way for the Xbox One. Micrsoft did have a very strong presentation, showing off tons of exclusives. Most of them are interesting, and a few look truly awesome.
Still, the specter of the announcements that the Xbox One will require you to check in online once a day to play your games, and that publishers can disable the option or charge a fee to play used games cast a pall over everything. When the $500 price tag was revealed, it didn't help matters.

Enter Sony. After a decent conference, they dropped a sequence of bombshells: The PS4 requires no internet check-in. Ever. The PS4 has no restrictions on used games. On top of all that, the retail price is $399, a full hundred dollar less than the Xbox One. Without being burdened by an expensive new Kinect, Sony is able to undercut the Xbox One significantly.

The upshot of all this is that the PS4 has been enjoying a massive surge in popularity, and many longtime Xbox loyalists are even jumping ship. Personally, I've gone with the Xbox for the past two console generations, but I'm no fanboy with some misguided sense of company loyalty. I always evaluate what is available and go with what fits me best. That was the Xbox the last two times around, but not this time. Sony got pretty arrogant and made some bad decisions with the PS3, but they've learned from those mistakes, and built a new console that is exactly what their customers want. Meanwhile, it seems that Microsoft has only been interested in building the console they want.

Microsoft is not doing anything with their new console that Valve hasn't been doing for years with their Steam platform, but until they demonstrate that these restrictions will also bring the positive aspects of Steam as well as the negatives, I won't go near it. I preordered a PS4, and I'm looking forward to it.

A couple of quick Reddit links: Bill Nye did an AMA, and so did Hans Zimmer.

That's it for this week! There should be a new Trash Rant next week, and hopefully some news about the new book.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Nightmare Escapade, my first book, is free until June 13!

For the next five days, you can download Nightmare Escapade: A Horror Anthology for free! Get it here! If you don't have a Kindle, Amazon has free Kindle apps for pretty much any device from a PC to an Ipod, so if you're reading this page, there's an app that will let you read the book. Once you've read it, taking a few minutes to leave an honest review will be much appreciated.
Now, back to work on my next book...