Archives for February 2014

Read In 2013

(This has been sitting in my draft folder for over a month. Better late than never, I always say.) I am blatantly stealing this idea from Zack. I love reading his post every year and use it to add books to my ever-growing list of “To Read” on goodreads.com. While my list of books read in 2013 isn’t as long as Zack’s (I just don’t have time to read as much as I’d like), hopefully it’s still interesting:

Equal Rites by Terry Pratchett (228)

This is the third book in the Discworld series and just like The Light Fantastic, Equal Rites didn’t live up to the fun I had reading The Color of Magic. There were a couple moments that elicited more than a chuckle from me, but not many. I just wasn’t into these characters. The premise (mistaken gender identity) had promise (sorry) but it fell flat for me.

Lord of Light by Roger Zelazny (296)

Indian and Eastern Gods duke it out in a battle on some far off planet where men discovered the secrets of technology not available to everyone and became more powerful than other. I had no idea what was going half the time but I still tore through this book. I had to go to Wikipedia after I finished just to make sure I understood everything I had read (I’m not too familiar with the Hindu/Buddhist pantheon of deities) and kept every character straight.

Mort by Terry Pratchett (243)

As the last kid standing on the day everyone gets chosen as an apprentice, Mortimer gets picked by a skinny guy in a black hood, riding a pale horse, wielding a scythe. Death, you might say. Get it? Mort — Death? Clever, that Pratchett guy. Mort zigged where I thought it was going to zag. I enjoyed it thoroughly.

After being a little letdown by Equal Rites and The Light Fantastic, Mort was a nice return to the humor I had enjoyed in Color of Magic.

Genesis by Bernard Beckett (150)

I picked this one up strictly on Nat’s suggestion and loved it. It is a quick read (which really doesn’t mean anything with the time I actually set aside for reading. It took me over a month to read this, my wife read it in less than a week). It would betray any charm to say anything substantial about Genesis so I’ll just say I thought I had it figured out about halfway through.

I did not have it figured out.

Lucifer’s Hammer by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle (629)

(Technically, I finished this in 2014, but I read 90% of it in 2013 so I’m counting in last year’s list)

Lucifer’s Hammer is the story of what happens when a meteor heading for earth actually splinters and ends up hitting in more than one place, causing destruction on a global level, wiping out millions of people and plunging the world back into the dark ages. It’s a grim apocolytpic future humanity has in front of it. Faced with the base need simply to survive, it’s pretty shocking what people will become.

I found it interesting that while reading this book and the clashes between the survivors, I couldn’t help think about the popularity of the recent rash of survival games like Rust and Day Z and the awful things people are willing to do (even in a digital escapist sort of way). Let’s just hope civilization never reaches that point.

I also started but didn’t finish a couple books. Like a video game, you usually know when you’ve started a book whether it’s going to hold you attention or not. This doesn’t mean these books aren’t good. They just won’t for me.

Stopped reading in 2013:

Drop Dead Healthy: One Man’s Humble Quest for Bodily Perfection by A.J. Jacobs

Jacobs has a reputation of doing “experimental books” where he tackles a subject and changes his life to fit some regiment of a lifestyle. He becomes focused (read: obsessed) on something and for a year, dedicates his life to this topic. The problem is with a topic like healthy living, there is so much to cover, that there’s just no way to hit everything in 400+ pages. You end up with a shallow book that doesn’t cover any particular subject with sufficient detail. I got a few chapters in and shelved Drop Dead Healthy.

A Brilliant Darkness: The Extraordinary Life and Mysterious Disappearance of Ettore Majorana, the Troubled Genius of the Nuclear Age by Joao Magueijo

I picked up A Brilliant Darkness on a recommendation from Bill Harris. It should be everything I like in a non-fiction book — science (specifically quantum mechanics), Europe and a little mystery. Unfortunately, the story started out slow and the explanations of the science were a little muddled. I wasn’t looking for graduate level science discussion, but those scientific sections didn’t hold my attention. It was time to shelve this one as well.

So that was my reading list for 2013. A total of 1,546 pages. I continue to make my way through the “classics”. It’s fun to see what holds up and what doesn’t.

What did you read last year?

On Gaming and Linguistics

While visiting London, Gamasutra contributor Leigh Alexander, American, noticed how gamers in the UK assign a different linguistic value than what she’s used to hearing to the term used to express that he or she has completed a game in its entirety. I almost said ‘beat’ the game but it looks like that expression is mainly used by us Yankees. She postulates, however briefly, about the cultural difference between ‘beat’ and the UK usage ‘finish’. So she took her thoughts to Twitter and posted some interesting replies on Gamasutra. The link below could be just the beginning of a legit anthropological linguistic study. Very cool.

Beating’ Games Around the World

Scrolling through her post brought to remembrance some recurring thoughts I had while playing Eve:Online last year. The MMO is home to over 5,000 playable star systems. A majority of the systems are named. How exactly are these names generated? Some are quite sharp and eloquent (Hakodan) while others, if sounded aloud, sound like drunken mumblings (Penirgman). Across the central cluster of New Eden you’ve got the likes of Sehmy, Keproh, Barira, Ishkad, Goni. Each name ┬áseem to follow a loose root-and-pattern template – they do not spiral out of control, and yet, sounding some of them out can be quite the phonological workout. Being an MMO, this a fun little quirk of the EVE universe. I was on a teamspeak channel with my fleet while out on a roam, the fleet commander would call out which system to jump to, and, whoa doggies, this guy from Minnesota pronounced ‘Sasiako’ way different than I have been all along.

Ever since then I’ve had this nagging, musing wonder if someone has done some kind of phonology study across New Eden. 500,000 players from all over the world, different regions producing different phonetic practices, trekking across these 5,000 named virtual star systems. From a testing standpoint, the stage is already set: It’s a closed system with quasi-control groups and each player already has a microphone. The amount of raw data a student could collect from this would be staggering. Staggering, I tell you. From this, what could be deciphered about the Eve universe?

February Releases

There still hasn’t been any great next-gen (which I guess is now this-gen) titles to really hit the release list yet, but things are getting better. But February is a great month of games if you haven’t moved on to the Xbox One or the PS4. The Playstation 3 line up is particularly strong this go-round. With that said, on to this month’s releases:

Xbox One

Week of February 4th
The LEGO Movie Videogame

Week of February 18th
Rayman Legends

Week of February 25th
Thief
Plants vs Zombies Garden Warfare

Week of February 4th
The LEGO Movie Videogame
Fable Anniversary

Week of February 11th
The Borderlands 2 & Dishonored Bundle
Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII – I gave FFXIII the real college try and it never clicked. Now that I’ve been methodically working through my backlog I wonder if I’ll ever get back to it.

Week of February 18th
Earth Defense Force 2025
NASCAR ’14

Week of February 25th
Plants vs Zombies Garden Warfare
Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2
Thief

Week of February 4th
The LEGO Movie Videogame

Week of February 18th
Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze

Week of February 4th
The LEGO Movie Videogame
Bravely Default – This is probably the only pick up for me this month. I’ve heard great things about Bravely Default and hope to grab it after I finish A Link Between Worlds.

Week of February 25th
Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy

Week of February 4th
The Sims 3 Roaring Heights World
Airport Simulator 2014

Week of February 25th
Thief

PS4 Banner

Week of February 4th
The LEGO Movie Videogame

Week of February 11th
Week of February 18th
Rayman Legends

Week of February 25th
Thief
Putty Squad

Week of February 4th
The LEGO Movie Videogame

Week of February 11th
The Last of Us: Left Behind DLC
The Elder Scrolls: V:Skyrim & Bioshock Infinite Bundle – This is the “I only have time for two games this year” Bundle.
Far Cry Compilation
Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII
The Borderlands 2 & Dishonored Bundle – This is the “I love loot and killing things in gruesome ways” Bundle

Week of February 18th
Earth Defense Force 2025
NASCAR ’14
Ragnarok Odyssey ACE

Week of February 25th
Putty Squad
Magus
Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2
Tales of Symphonia Chronicles
Thief

Week of February 4th
The LEGO Movie Videogame

Week of February 11th
Toukiden: The Age of Demons
DanganRonpa: Trigger Happy Havoc

Week of February 18th
Ragnarok Odyssey ACE

Week of February 25th
Putty Squad

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