Archive

Archive for November, 2010

TSA Security Screening News

November 19th, 2010 No comments

So, as most people know, the TSA and their full-body scanners have been in the news a LOT as of late. We can thank John Tyner (blog here) for this sudden public “awareness” of what the TSA is doing these days with his, now infamous/famous “don’t touch my junk” quip to TSA workers. My question though is this: why are there no other alternatives to the technology that they have in place?

I was reading this morning how the reason that the full-body scanners are even in place is because of the underwear bomber from last Christmas (plastic explosives went unnoticed in his underwear and then he tried to ignite it while in the air). Also, apparently they put pilots through the full-body scanners and the extra pat-downs that they have put into place just this week with the groping in the underwear. The latter makes little sense to me thanks to the fact that they are flying the damn plan and have a gun in the cockpit. The only things that you really need to be double checking on these people is are they still mentally stable and are they who they really say they are (double check ID and the like).

Ok, so that solution only reduces the use with pilots, what about all the normal passengers? I’m still unsure about why the only options are becoming a full-body scanner that creates a detailed image of your basically nude body or a pat down that includes a groping of your groin, breast, and basically everything else under the clothes. Of course, there are all the gripes out there that this is an invasion of privacy, and I’m neither belittling or disagreeing with this almost definite fact. My question is where is the supposed technological advancements we have had in recent years? Why are we unable to “read” people differently? Why are the options x-ray or metal detector plus human groping? This just doesn’t make sense to me.

Now, I know I would likely regret doing a full post about my idea for a replacement to these options, but how about a general concept. Why not measure density? More specifically, why not density changes? With those fake beer bellies, they cause a non-uniform density across your stomach area with the presence of some kind of liquid. A synthetic knee has a different density than normal bone. C4, even spread thinly across the skin, would likely have a different density than the rest of your body. I’m not claiming I know what technology could accomplish this, but coupled with a metal detector, it seems relatively benign and effective.

Console Game Saving — Beyond the Box

November 9th, 2010 No comments

Something that has confused me for a while is why there is no easy way, when you save your place in a game on a console that is on the web, to save to a “cloud server” with your credentials. Example: When you are playing a game on a PS3, it is possible to play online for free. When you are playing online with/against others, why can’t you record or progress/save your game online so you can play from any console with that game in the future?

Yes, presently there are memory cards for being able to pull your save files off a console and take them to another one, but I have never actually seen one of these memory cards. Back in the days of the N64 and Gamecube, PS and PS2, and others of the recent consoles before the PS3, Wii, and Xbox 360, the use of memory cards was exclusive because there was no other way to save a game. Now, I don’t know a single person who owns one.

Basically, why isn’t this service available! Is it possible that Sony, Nintendo, and Microsoft are intentionally confining people to using the same console? I don’t really know the answer to that question, but this has been bugging me for some time now, and will likely bother me even more when I finally get a console post-college for myself and want to get all those old save files from other people’s consoles (like my Demon Souls save files from this summer!!).

Fable 2

November 2nd, 2010 No comments

Fable 2 has a HUGE amount of content in it, but a lacking for how much of that is required for the storyline. When I say “lacking,” I mean you could commit hours and hours and hours to this game, but never get more than half-way through the storyline because you simply don’t feel like triggering the next instance. What happens when you don’t continue the story? NOTHING! There is zero encouragement to continue the story at the half-way point in the game.

But what about the game itself? It is pretty close to the first in the series, with the exception of changing both the spell engine and the introduction of firearms. That’s right, they added firearms and modified the ranged targeting system so that you aren’t just standing back and trying to snipe off the enemies’ heads with a bow and arrow. I think that the bow and arrow removal did nothing for the gameplay itself though. It does allow you to build your ranged attacks the way you want to (more DPS with a pistol, big damage with rifles, or somewhere in between with crossbows), but to me that didn’t really change the feel of things, especially with the ability to get a level in one of the skill abilities that allows you to tap “Y” at the right time after firing to immediately fire again. Suddenly the rifle turned into a DPS’ing cannon!

What about the spell changes? They honestly didn’t do a whole lot. Yes, you can now charge-up to the higher levels of a skill, but there is no reason to charge up the majority of the skills in the game because there is no mana bar. Yup, they removed the mana bar and in return made it so you would likely have to sacrifice HP to charge up to a higher level of a skill. Since I like to spam the “time control” skill so that I can fly past enemies and then strike them from behind, there was no reason to ever charge up a skill other than to either slow down time with the “time control”s AOE version or to farm gold in one of the later quests with the “raise dead” spell level 5.

So then what did you actually like about the game? The volume of content outside of the storyline itself. There really aren’t that many quests outside of the main storyline, but it is essentially a free-world. You can buy ANY property in the game essentially and either move-in or rent it out. You can marry (though I didn’t try to find out if polygamy was possible in the game) and eventually have kids in the game (grow a family, nurture them, etc.). I spent most of my game time (about a month and a half ago now) becoming a real estate mogul in the game (owned a blacksmith, couple bars, a bunch of houses, and I don’t even remember what else now).

There was a large change that made a big difference in gameplay from the first one, and that was the introduction of a companion. Think Navi from Zelda, but your dog can actually fight if trained enough, and helps you find those hidden dig spots and treasures in the game. It went from a game of guessing where to dig or find treasure to running around and waiting for your dog to let you know where to get the next bit of treasure or quest item.

But what of the storyline itself? Was it at least intriguing? Not really. They seemed to take the story from the first one and recast it for a different time in the same world. I did like how they continually tried to connect the first game and the second, but found the story incredibly short (as stated before). If I had actively tried, I likely could have beaten the main story in about 3 hours of playing. That’s right, a single sitting if I had followed all the in game cues to go through the story. The final boss fight was even disappointing. The hardest fights in the game are against the “trolls,” and they just require standing back and dodging their attacks while you shoot the targets on it as they appear and then take your final shot when the health bar of the troll is low enough. Pretty disappointing from a challenge perspective, of course, that’s not why I played the game through in the first place.

Then why did I play it through? Because of the side-story content. Buying up all the property in the game was a fun goal for a while, but I eventually did get bored. The dog was a fun addition, and its existence greatly affected my end-game “big decision.” But it simply bugged me to no end that the majority of the unique weapons in the game were all in the downloadable content. I’m sorry Microsoft, I’m not going to pay for Xbox Live just so that I can download an extra island of content in the game. Overall, the game was pretty disappointing, but entertained me for a brief period of time.