Being a Gamer Sucks Right Now. Hard!

How can I make that statement this of all years, when the best Assasins Creed “in years” launched, best “Star Wars” game ever, sequal to “Shadow of Mordor”, a WWII “Call of Duty” and oh so many other great titles come out!? Well, bare with me…

You know I’ve always been a gamer, right? Ever since my dad dragged home the first “portable” computer in the 80’s and we were playing that terrible olympic Decathlon game, through the Commodore series (VIC20 -> C64 -> Amiga) all the way up till now, I’ve always played computer games. Never been much for consoles though but that’s a different story. And playing games have been pretty much the same for most of that time. But when “World of Warcraft” launched back in 2004 it was… a subscription!? $60 to buy the game plus $10 per month!? Well they pushed out content on content so I thought that was ok. Think I paid about $1300 for “World of Warcraft” all in all. That was for over 10 years of entertainment, pretty sweet deal if you ask me!

And being a Blizzard fanboy I’ve gone through their “Heroes of the Storm” and “Overwatch” too. One thing I never really liked about those games was the lootboxes. I didn’t mind it much, I even bought a HotS lootbox pack once, but I can’t say I liked it. But in Overwatch it was always just skins which made it more ok than in HotS when it was actual characters you needed. But I never actually bought HotS for $60 so still fine (I’ll give them a pass on the D3 AH because they took it down and said “our bad”). Then there’s been “gold edition” of games and DLC packs and stuff like that that ads value over time, but it’s always been optional.

But now it’s just getting a bit much. Like most other gamers out there I am so very frustrated at the new schemes coming out of Ubisoft, Activision and most of all EA. Ubisoft has had “cosmetic” items for purchase a while for both “Assasins Creed” and “Division” but nothing more than that. Now it’s changing and it’s affecting gameplay! The most recent and extreme example of this is Battlefront II. With their way of pushing lootboxes on consumers I absolutely won’t be paying $60 for that game! Maybe I’ll pick it up next year on Black Friday sale, I dunno, but paying $60 for game where I have to grind grind and grind to even play characters that should be there out of the box?! Or you can buy lootboxes for more money! Really!? And then EA releases Need for Speed with… “speedcards” that you can fast-progress by buying lootboxes! Another game I was absolutely planning to already be playing was the new Mordor game (“Shadow of War”). But oh no, they had to go ruin that game too with in game store to buy Orcs. Yeah, buy Orcs in a game for real money!

And they even have the balls to call it “microtransaction”, you know like the “micrtransaction” for a Android app that cost like $1? No, because here we’re talking about getting 20 lootboxes for $60 – as much as the f*cking game costs! And don’t come with any “but games have been $60 for ages now!” because yeah, they have, and have the profit of any publisher gone down because of that? No, they’ve made more and more money every year! Look at “Cuphead” that cost like $20 which is turning out to be one of the best games all year! No, games don’t have to cost $100 million to make! You don’t have the PR push it that bad if it’s good enough, you don’t have to have 1000 song in the music library like GTA!!

What makes this even worse is that in some of these cases you’re not even buying the thing you want – your paying FOR A CHANCE at the thing you want! You may get the Orc you want, but you may end up with nothing. You may get the power up for your Heavy stormtrooper, or you might get a silly emote! It’s gambling and feeding on addiction and it’s loathsome and everyone should be ashamed of it. I know I am and I’m not even buying or playing those games! The irony is that Battlefront 2 is made by DICE – a Swedish studio. And the government in Sweden are pretty strict when it comes to gambling. Pretty strict as in “only government run gambling is allowed!”. Yeah, someone should maybe look into this! (and not the ESRB, that’s like Donald Trump saying his son is a good person!)

The last game I bought was Assasins Creed Origin which came out a few weeks ago. And so far I haven’t run into much lootboxes or “pay to get this über gear” yet, if you don’t count the gold edition addons. But looking at the horizon, I have no idea what I’m actually willing to buy even though there are plenty of games I should love to buy and play but my moral compass really gets in the way.

Fortunately people are rising up and raging against the machine. Just youtube “lootboxes” and you’ll find tons of videos on the topic. Or you may have seen the news that EA’s reply on reddit regarding Battlefront 2 progression is the most “thumbs down” comment ever on reddit?

Microsoft Ignite Conference

Lobby of OCCC South

The whole reason I went to the US was to attend the Microsoft Ignite conference. It’s an annual conference Microsoft has where they reveal a lot of new stuff they are either launching or working on and have sessions and workshops. Our company sends 2-3 people to that conference but since the ticket, hotel and flight (not to mention the time from doing actual work) the cost goes up quite a lot for the company. This year I got to go for the first time as kind of reward for good working migrating to Exchange Online. My cloud-colleague Michael also got to go but unlike me he knew some Swedish consultants that were also going so we could hang with them when we’re not at the actual conference. After an initial scare it was going to be called off thanks to Hurrican Irma we were ready to go!

And it really was fortunate that we were the ones to go since sooooo many of the sessions and talk was about Office 365, Azure and the cloud! It was really hard to find sessions that talked about on premises stuff but I managed to go to a few! The event started officially on Monday morning with a vision keynote by Satya, the CEO of Microsoft and had a bit of this and that in it.

Trying to get the new about OneDrive

After that it was a technical keynote of the digital workplace and then it was just one “breakout” session after another. I think I attended a total of 20 sessions in total and almost got overloaded with information. I used my cellphone to take photos of some presentation slides to remember what that session was about and what we’d covered in what sessions!

Another great thing about these events is that you meet the people who are actually working on the other side – when I’m freaking out over the bad SharePoint Online admin center “well that guy right over there is the program manager of that, go talk to him”. Which I did. “Well you’ll glad to know we’re working on version 2, mail us and we’ll get you into the preview”. Done and done! And seeing some really pros at doing presentations, like Anne Michels who constantly made jokes on her expense (and sometimes even Mr. Michels).

And on Thursday evening Microsoft had “rented” the entire Universal Studios Orlando theme park for us! All you can eat, drink and ride all evening long! That was certainly an experience since we don’t have anything close to these theme parks in Sweden! We have plenty of amusement parks, but no theme parks, certainly not like this where you can walk into Jurassic Park and have a dinoburger!

Then friday was kind of winding down and collecting thoughts and writing reports on what I’ve learnt and then on Saturday the long trek back to Stockholm began. I checked in at the airport at about 2pm on Saturday and passed through customs in Stockholm at about 1pm on the Sunday.

But all in all it was an absolutely awesome experience and conference to attend for me. The downside was of course being away from my family for 8 days, that really felt long in the end. My and the wife have never been away from each other for that long since we moved in together 8 years ago!

Visiting Kennedy Space Center

KFC monument för JFK

I’ve always been a NASA-fanboy. I’m the guy that won’t ever say no to seeing Apollo 13 for the 500th time, or will sit through “From the Earth to the Moon” over and over again. And as a Trekker I’m loving the “exploration” theme and drive over there. The very human need for exploration and need to know what’s out there. So when I planned the trip, going to Kennedy Space Center was one of the musts. Fortunately my traveling companion Michael shared that need so along with a few fellow IT nerds we rented two cars and sat out to drive over there.

SpaceX byggnad & launchpad

We went on the “explorer tour” which gave us a trip around the cape and the launch sites of missions past but also the SpaceX stuff going on there now. We had a great tourguide Kurt who was totally right man for the job! Perfect amount of geekiness but also wanting to share that geekiness everywhere. He was amazing!

After that 2 hour ride we were dropped of a the Saturn station (or whatever it was called) which was just this huge museum for the Apollo program! I completely geeked out there, running around photographing every mission banner there was and every little thing! After a quick lunch we set off back to the Visitor center where they had a Atlantis museum which was an awesome 3-stage display climaxing in a reveal of the actual space shuttle Atlantis! Completely geeked out again! Like a kid in a candy store on Christmas!! Then it got really emotional! I still don’t know why I get all somber up and even tear up at it, but at the end of the exhibit was the Challenger and Columbia memorials.

We spent a total of 7 hours there and I could’ve stayed a while longer! Absolutely one of the best experiences of my life. My only regret is that my wife and son wasn’t there to share it or see me get that excited about it.

Then we went to what these IT nerds who have been here a few times before thought was the greatest steakhouse ever – Morton’s. To sum it up and as my wife could say – I could’ve done more for less. I mean, it wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t all that and it was a pretty pretentious restaurant. But at least the company was good.

All in all a really great day!!

Coming to America

If you’ve followed this blog long enough or have heard me ranting you may know I’m not that big of a fan of US of A. And not only because of their most recent choice of president although that hasn’t helped. But a few months ago my supervisor asked me if I wanted to go to Microsoft Ignite. If you don’t know what it is, it’s a huge convention that Microsoft holds once a year in USA. It’s their greatest week of the year when they release a lot of new stuff for our techies and declares their visions for the future.

At first I didn’t know if I even wanted to go since it would mean actually going to the US. The only time I’ve been here before was when I went to Guatemala and had to pass security when going from one international terminal to another so I’ve never actually sat foot on their soil. But much like 14 years ago when I was asked to work on the project for the state department my initial feeling was “I don’t want to leave my comfort zone”. But realizing that.. I had to accept! After making sure my wife was OK with it I signed up. Fortunately a colleague of mine is also attending so I won’t be alone. And he has a lot of friends in the consultancy business so we’ll be hanging out with them. And there’s always the big “Swedes only” party to go to.

Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida

Then hurricane season began and when I saw the footage on CNN from Orlando, where the convention is happening, it made me doubt they could pull it off, getting all stuff ready for a convention of this size in less than 2 weeks. Fortunately that wasn’t a problem and MS announced well in time that everything was good to go.

So on Saturday my wife dropped me off at Arlanda, we kissed good bye and I went off through security checkpoint to start my journey… and flight delayed!! Some part of the plane broke and they had to fly in a new one from Copenhagen (which I believe is airliner talk for “the crew wasn’t allowed to fly anymore because if union rules and we had to fly in a replacement crew). So about 3 hours later (plus one free beer!) we lifted of for Newark airport at New York. After passing through security, customs, security, passport check, customs, security and a tram between the terminals we arrived at the new gate with about 2 hours to spare. We were supposed to have a 6 hour wait, but 3 hours late departure plus all those lines meant we only got 2. And that was plenty because unfortunately Newark airport is something out of the 70’s. It really does need a fix up! Then we went for a bite to eat but when I went to the food court I got this familiar smell of deep fry oil from my days working at a fast food restaurant so my heart told my body I don’t want to eat here. So I didn’t. Fortunately my metabolism goes down, way down, on airplanes to it really wasn’t a problem!

The New York skyline, all the way from Newark

Then onto that airplane that was gonna take us to Orlando in Florida. And when we were supposed to lift off we hadn’t even left the gate yet. The captain announced they had to reboot the plane! I shit you not, it was a literal “have you tried turning it off and on again”-moment!! But it actually worked and off we went. Slept all the way!

After arriving something happened that has never happened in all my travels – my luggage was already waiting for me!! I think there was a mixup in Newark and the flew my baggage out on the flight 2 hours before ours, which goes totally against international regulations of not allowing a bag onto the plane without it’s owner! But I didn’t complain, we went out to grab a cab… and no! Not a cab in sight! Another first for all of my travels, an airport with no cabs! We only had to wait 15-20 minutes for one but they are usually lined up!

So, off to the hotel and sleep ahead of the new days travel to Kennedy Space Center. I’m hoping I’ll get to post about that soon, but I’m actually here to work so not sure when I’ll have the time for that!

Buying a new car – how hard can it be? Part III

[Previously on the blog – me and the wife wanted to buy a new car and ordered an Audi A5 for 492.000 SEK and it was delivered in late February but only after wondering if this was their first car delivery ever!]

Now that was 3 weeks ago. And in those three weeks unfortunately enough has happened to make me say “I won’t go back there again”.

Not only because of the reasons I’ve already listed (1) them telling us to go away from the business section in a rather rude manner, 2) the unprofessional way of handling the tyre situation 3) noone informed us of the deposit we had to make before we got there) but as it turns out they made even bigger mistakes – one huge mistake during the ordering process and two pretty big mistakes with the delivery.

When delivering an Audi, the representative is supposed to help you sign up to the myAudi account and tie your car to that account. Nope, didn’t happend! Fortunately I know my way around Internet and websites but it led me to the next big issue. They also failed to inform us that the little plastic badge on the set of keys we got was actually very, VERY valuable since it had a PIN to enable remote access of the car! Without this I couldn’t use the electronics I paid for and selling it would be pretty damn hard! Fortunately we hadn’t thrown that little plastic thing in the bin yet but at no point did we think it was something we needed to keep! But the major f*ck up was discovered when we were loading up the car with some kids and realised this model didn’t have 3 seatbelts in the back, only 2!!! I didn’t even know that was possible but apparently it’s an extra option for Audi that costs a mere 3.600 SEK! Had the original salesguy informed us about that we would absolutely have clicked it. But he didn’t so now we’re stuck with a car that only has 4 seatbelts! This was a dealbreaker when we started this (one of the reasons we didn’t go for a Mustang!) and we made sure to check that it did have it when we were in the showroom! I can only imagine the salesguy picked up on us only having one kid and in an attempt to keep the price below 500.000 didn’t click it but it leaves a very sour taste! Fortunately we have a cheap ass VW Polo that has 3 seatbelts in the back so if we ever need one extra seat we can use that. But still… And “we should have checked it ourselves”, yeah you could say that, but as I said in part I, it’s a freaking jungle!! Unless you work there knowing what’s included in the “2017 A5 Sportback Proline Sport Edition” from the go, it’s damn impossible! And when adding stuff BAM! you’re told that it’s not compatible with the current loadout! It’s rediculous! Sometimes I think those configurations should have a “these things are NOT included in your layout”-list, that would have spelt it out for us that it was an extra option.

So, expect a new one of these in 3 years when it’s time to buy a new car again. Maybe we’ll go for a Mustang that time around or maybe Tesla if they are affordable by then.

Read Part I here.

Read Part II here.

Buying a new car – how hard can it be? Part II

[Previously on the blog – me and the wife wanted to buy a new car and ordered an Audi A5 for 492.000:- and was told it would be delivered end of March]

And so we waited. And waited.

Eventually in mid February we got an e-mail from the insurance company telling us it was time to insure our Audi. ??.. so we called up the dealer in Järva, got put on hold and eventually told by the manager that “I’m gonna have to call you back”. And so he did. And yeah, the car had arrived and we were free to pick it up next week. At this point I’m wondering “how long has it been there and when were you going to tell us!?” but I was just too excited and grateful that it was already here to question that. After our dealing with Toyota I thought it’d be best if we gave them the week and come in on Friday afternoon. This gave them over 8 days to get the car ready. And then he assigned the delivery to another salesman which I thought was weird but as it turns out the salesman, Daniel, that I liked so much and ordered the car from was no longer working there for reasons noone wanted to get into. When I woke up on Tuesday, 3 days before the delivery, it was snowing. And I remembered we hadn’t ordered the winter tyres so it would be illegal for us to drive our new car home from the dealer without it! So I called them up and asked what they usually do in this situation when customers have ordered cars without winter tyres and it’s snowing. And he had no clue. His first response was just hoping it would get warmer and thaw so it wouldn’t be a problem. I couldn’t tell if it was a joke or serious but it was absolutely unprofessional! So I had to ask him if he could fix winter tyres for us which he ofcourse was willing to try to do but couldn’t make a promise he’d get them in time. Seriously, he had 3 days to find new wintertyres for a new car in Stockholm, how hard can that be, pick up the phone to Euromasters and have them send over a set with DHL!? Well, he couldn’t just call anyone to get any kind of tyres, he had to order Audi originals regardless if we wanted it or not! Then we didn’t hear anything from him and we were just left assuming it was sorted when we went in to pick up the car on Friday afternoon. And much to our delight and surprise he had sorted it. On the car was now brand new Audi original winter tyres! “Great, so can we get the car now” … “well not really because you still haven’t paid us the 130.000 that was due”. Huh? Well, as it turns out we were supposed to send in the money to them so they had it before we could pick up the car and noone had told us about this. He said it was the “other guy” that had missed informing us of that. Personally I think it should be on a check list when preparing to deliver a car to make sure the car is legal to drive on the day of delivery and that the payment was settled, but apparently this guy didn’t think that was on them, those were my problems to solve!

So I ended up using Swish, a Swedish “send money instantly to another phone number” system that is quite a common way to send money here – just not supposed to be used for transactions of this size!! Fortunately my bank allowed the transaction, otherwise I don’t know what they’d do but I was furious enough to leave there and then and have another look at the Cupra – just ask Toyota. So now that that was sorted we got a big, long debriefing on insurance options. After that he unveiled our new car. And it was glorious!! I knew the car was so hitech that we were in for long education of what everything did.. but nope, he wasn’t into that, “I could spend an hour talking about everything but you pretty much want to get on the road huh?”.. well that didn’t stop him from talking insurances for a very long time but ok so let’s get on the road.. nope, we had to take a detour to their servicecenter to pay for the tyres. Fortunately the guy there was an absolute professional and got that over with quickly in the kind of “getting it done!” method I love. After that we got an ok to go out on the road, finally!

To be continued tomorrow…

Read Part I here.

Read Part III here.

Buying a new car – how hard can it be? Part I

Me and the wife were in the market to buy a car. And my wife has expensive taste. And we had the cash to spend. Sounds like a dream for any car dealer, right? But you know after our dealings with Toyota last year that I didn’t think very highly of car dealers… and that was about to get even lower!

My wife have always wanted to buy a Mustang. But purchasing a new Mustang in Stockholm proved pretty impossible as the only dealer we were in contact with didn’t have any available for us to try as other customers had crashed them both and we didn’t want to order one blindly. Besides I got the feeling he wasn’t too eager to sell one to us anyway. So we checked out a secondhand dealer that had a great Mustang waiting to be bought. After sitting in it we both kinda realised this isn’t the kind of car you use driving back and forth to school or to Ikea. So that idea was put on hold.

The next idea was a Tesla. But in Sweden the start at about 750.000 SEK which is shitload of money but when you start adding on stuff it goes up to 7 digits quite fast. So no, not yet.

Then we went for a sport version of the car we have today, a Seat Leon Cupra. The only dealer we had even remotely close to us turned out to be amateurs! They only had one for customers to try out. And the owner was using it as his private car. And we had to book an appointment to testdrive it! Well we did but it turns out the boss’s wife or daughter had taken the car for high street shopping that afternoon and got stuck in traffic. Who knew there might be traffic jams when going from Stockholm city to Barkarby at 5pm!? And when we test drove it we found their candy stash, we found her wallet and some left over shopping. As I said, amateur hour. Unfortunately the car was an absolut beast and we were tempted to buy one had it not been for the dealer.

So then we raised the bar! As we’ve been happy with both our Volkswagens and our Seat we decided to test the upgrade in the family and go for an Audi! Now I wanted to use Möller Bil again since we were so pleased with how the Seat turned out and how professional they’ve been but no Möller retailer close to us sells Audi. So we went to the Audi retailer in Järva. First thing that happened was they didn’t respond to my e-mail requests. Usually not a big thing but car dealers are supposed to be more eager than this, but oh well. So we went to their showroom and were told that we weren’t welcomed because we were in the business section! Should have gone home right there and then to be honest because the only reason we were in the business area was poor signage from their end! But we didn’t go home, we went up a floor to the consumer section and met a really friendly and nice salesguy, Daniel. He tried to understand what we wanted and our criterias – the wife wanted a bit of luxury but I wanted to pay the least amount for it! We went there looking at an A4 but when the wife saw their latest A5 Sportback she was totally sold! And when I saw their virtual cockpit, so was I. We tested sitting in an A5 to get the feel for the interior, noting that there was indeed 3 seatbelts in the back (more why that was important later!) and then we testdrove an A4 with identical engine to get the feel for the cars power. We were both very, very pleased. So we sat down to go through the list of options for the car to try to come up with a good car that fit our needs and what that would cost us. He went through every option (or so we thought!) with us and based on what he knew of our needs made recommendations. Since every manufacturer has their own terms/language, options and editions it’s a real jungle to sort it out but he did a good job of explaining it. I really liked this guy! So he came up with a car for 492.000 SEK, almost half a million. Naturually we needed to have a talk about it but after two days we made the decision to go for it. We went back and talked with him again to place the order. No fuzz at all, we agreed we’d put down 130.000 which we’d get from selling our current car when we got the new car. It would take “about 5 months” to get the car. A bit long but it would be worth waiting for. Now, did we want winter tyres on this or not? That was an extra 20.000 SEK. I knew I could get tyres for about half that price, and 5 months from end of October would be and of March so no really need for it, so no thanks. And the order was placed and we were happy with it all.

And then we waited. And waited…

Read Part II here.

Read Part III here.

IT Nerdiness

I’m going to start another blog. I’ve been thinking about it for quite some time but never really got around to doing it. I’m gonna start a boring IT nerdy blog with my own “experiences from the field” from work!
If you didn’t know I’m an IT pro working with SharePoint both in house but also in the cloud, as wel as alot of other “Office 365” things for an enterprise with some 25k users. And one thing that us IT pros do well is share information. I wouldn’t be able to solve half of the issues I’m faced with all the time if it wasn’t for other IT pros out there sharing their experiences and their tricks. And one of the things I think I can contribute with the most is Powershell script.

Nothing too advanced though, just basic powershell tips that other people in my line of work might find usefull so they don’t have to write them their selves. I’m sure some of these scripts can be approved upon, so please let me know if you have suggestions!

Enjoy!

Admitting When I’m Wrong

I’m one of those people who welcome being corrected when I’m wrong. Unfortunately I’m also offended when people try to correct me when I’m right, it’s not a good quality to have.

The most recent thing I’ve been wrong about is Pokemon Go. When it came here to Sweden in July I thought it was a fad, I didn’t take it seriously and I even made fun of people playing it, which I now regret. I still stick by that it’s dangerous though because if you get too much into it even when walking you can hurt yourself or even other people!

Because now my entire family is playing it! My son wanted a go at it and we couldn’t really stop him by saying it’s childish since… well, he’s 6! But after getting him started we realised we needed to learn it and so we started. And now, two weeks later we’re hooked and I like it. Not the game itself, it’s so rudimentary, it’s classic “get people hooked and then make them pay up for the next fix” and not even one little bit creative. But I like the effect it has on us as a family. We go out Pokemon hunting, sometimes just to the nearest city center, sometimes we go to some place that just has plenty of Pokestops. We spent four hours in “Rålambshovsparken” last Friday hunting Pokemons and Pokestops (and looked like complete idiots while doing it!). And we walk – alot! I shit you not if I say we must’ve walked 150 kilometers (that’s be about 94 miles) since we started two weeks ago. And as an added bonus when doing all that walking, except the calorie burn rate, is that we see places and stuff we never knew existed! As an example, we have a school that I pass twice every day to and from work but I’ve ever only seen the front of it. Now I know what the rest of the outside looks like since they placed a “pokemon gym” on the other side of it!

Star Citizen. Again.

So after a few rounds with customer service at Cloud Imperium Games I got the LA County “Department of Consumer and Business Affairs” involved and that’s when my refund request was finally accepted. So I got all my money for all digital purchases and pledges refunded and my accounts closed and within a week the money was safely in my bank account. End of story (until the game comes out, if ever) I thought.

Well it wasn’t. Because the response to my request from their legal counsel was… in lack of better words – horseshit!

The reasons I stated for requesting a refund was
– They changed their terms of service to free them of all accountability to actually deliver anything. That’s an indisputable fact. I was totally fine with my initial Kickstarter pledge going down the drain but that was a small portion of all the money I’ve pledged to the project so far. Chris, the man in charge, stated years ago that they were solid financially and would still be able to deliver a game if funding stopped. It didn’t yet they haven’t.
– The game is nowhere near being complete. The content that has been delivered so far is barely 10% of everything promised and it’s all buggy as hell as it’s still in alpha. That is also a fact. If you forecast based on that it’s gonna take them several years to deliver the rest and then do the polish to go from alpha to a launch-able game.
– They themselves set “estimated dates” for when features are launched and they are constantly missing them. That is also fact.
– They set November 2014 + a 18 months delay (that’d be May 2016) for launch or they would show their financials and explain “wtf happened!?”. It’s now August 2016 and they haven’t launched any part of the game nor taken any accountability for the failure. Those are also facts.

Those were my 4 main reasons. I never mentioned anything of all the other rumors (like their Austin office being shut down) or issues one may have with the project (like the fact that Chris the CEO is married to the marketing director/actor Sandi) that involves anything that isn’t fact or tangible.

So what did the legal counsel say? “Customer’s allegations […] are completely unfounded and based on internet gossip. Oh and he made the allegations to the wrong corporate entity!”. That is just so insulting! Everything I’ve said are facts that can easily be checked by anyone! If they didn’t think it was good enough reasons to give a refund that would have been one thing, but to say that I’m lying and quoting gossip, what the hell is that about!? That pisses me off so much that my initial thought was “crash and burn you assholes!”. But this is so much bigger than that, it’s a million people strong community, a game that is based on some of the most amazing games I’ve played, the most successful crowdfunding campaign ever, the biggest “up yours!” to major game publishers ever and so much of that good stuff that I can’t be so egotistic and want it to fail just because they insult me. But it really pissed me off and I wonder where the line for “slander” is! And also I hate whenever a company makes that stupid remark about “it’s the wrong company” – I ALWAYS go to the people that I actually paid. It doesn’t matter if it’s a game or whatever, I make the claim to the company that charged me!

“Star Citizen”… Never Ending Story

You know I’m a nostalgic, retro kind of person right? And I’m a gamer. So I fondly remember the days of “Wing Commander” I & II, the space fighting but most of all the story and the interaction with the crew. And I very fondly remember “Wing Commander III” with Mark Hamill and Tom Wilson and the rest of the cast. And I very very very fondly remember playing “Wing Commander IV” for days, weeks even months. I really wanted to see every possible way that could go, the “evil ending” and everything in between. I absolutely loved it – not for the space combat but for the story. The dialogue is cheesy and the plot quite simple by today’s standards but still, for a computer game it was awesome!!

So in 2012 when I heard that Chris Roberts is coming back with a “spiritual successor to Wing Commander” I got excited. It couldn’t be called “Wing Commander” since EA owned the rights to it so it was called “Star Citizen”. Or “Squadron 42”.. at first it was a mess what was what but that’s to be expected when a small group of people get together to try to do something great. But this time Chris didn’t want a big publisher telling him what to do. He didn’t want a publisher that demanded the game be released at this date, finished or not. He didn’t want a publisher to tell him to make the game so it can be ported to consoles. He wanted to do the game his way, released when it was ready and for PC only. So they started a crowdfunding campaign that got so much attention their initial web server couldn’t handle it and they had to take to Kickstarter for crowdfunding. I happy bought into it at “Colonel” level which then was $125. That’s quite a lot for a computer game I agree but I thought it was worth it considering how much joy his previous titles had given me. I’d gladly paid that for “Wing Commander IV” any day!
Back then they set the “estimated release” at November 2014 but I’m actually pretty sure that’s because Kickstarter forced them to set an “estimated delivery” date and the max they could set was “2 years from now”. So I actually never expected them to deliver that. As a matter of fact, their “Terms of Service” agreement was even altered in 2013 to give them a 12 (then 18) month delay window.

After the initial crowdfunding campaign they kept promising more and more stuff. Not only had the game gone from being the “spiritual successor of Wing Commander” (a single player game), it was blowing up to be a full MMORPG. And I was fine with that. At first. I was so fine that when they showed off the Retaliator bomber I loved it and dished out $225 for one. And the idea of being information smuggler sounded cool so I dished out money for that too. But then as they continued to get millions of dollars every month I kinda saw it getting out of hand. I fully realise I know very little of what it actually takes to deliver a game and I know it takes a lot of time to make a game. A delay can easily be a year. But when they were promising new features, new ships without actually releasing much I kinda saw the problems of this ever being released. If they take two-three months to get a ship to “flight ready” and they keep coming up with 7-8 new ships every year, how are they ever to get done? If they add new feature to the scope before releasing the basic ones promised during Kickstarter like trading, how are they ever gonna get done? This picture to the right pretty much sums up what I felt all throughout 2015. And during July of 2015 Derek Smart happened. He’s a game maker who has tried to pull off these grand space games for years and never really made it. Which means he knows some of the pitfalls of even trying. He started criticising the “Star Citizen” project – very vocally, bullyuishly, annoyingly, contrived, “deliberately wanting to turn everything into a bad thing” way. And he got very personal against Chris Roberts, his wife and his lawyer (that all co-founded the studio) in a way that was really uncool. But he always stopped right at the border of lying or making shit up. Yes, he twisted everything into a negative thing. And I was right there to point out the actual facts. But the problem of trying to argue with him was the fact that “CIG” (the studio making the game) never managed to prove him wrong. They never managed to shut him up by stepping up to the plate and deliver. Instead, they made his case stronger by coming up with more irrelevant features (plants anyone?), more subscriber flare, more ship-concept sales, more of everything except actual game content. An all this while constantly missing “estimated” release dates that they themselves estimated and set.

Then they went ahead and wrote a new Terms of Service that we have to accept. Which is fine, Blizzard does it all the time. But I actually read those things, it’s a result of working with lawyers for 8 years – I actually read before I sign. And in this Terms of Service they had removed any accountability what so ever, every chance of demanding a refund. It was basically a carté blanche for them to sail away with the $117+ million they had gotten from backers and as long as the company CIG was still “active” and stating the game was still being worked on (without ever actually delivering anything) then we had no rights at all as consumers. I really wasn’t OK with that. So I refused to accept the terms of service. That had the side effect of me not being able to login to the so called “game”.

And what they call “the game” (as it was the last time I checked) consist of
1) running around my hangar looking at the static non functioning ships that have gone from concept to “hangar ready”.
2) Fly around in a very gorgeous but limited space environment fighting against enemy ships without ever feeling like “I’m so into this battle”, it’s rather plain but a totally acceptable test bed for flight mechanics.
3) Run around one planetary landing zone. Think of Orgimmar in World of Warcraft. But about half the size if that. And never being able to go out the gates.
star_citizen_bug4) Run around a station, call the ships I “own” that are “flight ready”, getting on board, flying around trying to repair comm relays, exploring a small little station for clues about corporate evilness
.. and that’s it. And it’s all full of game breaking bugs as you can expect from alpha. But compared to what was promised even in Kickstarter, before they even had $20 million, this simply won’t do. There is no exploration, there is no trading, the space combat is mediocre at best, there are no systems to travel between (so no jump points with that mechanic), there is just this. And that’s at “estimated delivery + 18 months”. And there is nothing to indicate that is about to change, that there is a magic key that once implemented will unlock all the missing features and mechanics.

At the end of last year they came up with a trailer for the single player game “Squadron 42” that promised released in 2016. It was freaking amazing! The “admiral” speech was precisely the classic cliche dialogue I know from “Wing Commander IV” and the visuals, oh man… but there is nothing to make me believe that it will actually happen. The space combat right now is way to limited to be close to what has been promised. The cutscenes may be breathtaking but it all needs a space combat simulation to build on, or I might as well see “Wing Commander The Movie“.

I really do hope I’m wrong and that they do actually release “Squadron 42” this year, or maybe even next year. I really do wish that they actually release the game they’ve promised. But right now I don’t see anything that suggests they will.

So where does that leave me? Since I haven’t accepted the TOS I can’t login to the “game” that I’ve spent well over $600 on (not counting merchandise). I was fine waiting until 2020 to see the game develop into what was promised, I really was. But when I’m banned from the game for simply not accepting the most consumer-hostile terms of service I’ve ever been presented with, that becomes impossible. And since there is very little to support the idea that the game will be done anytime soon I find my only recourse is to demand a refund. Although I fully accept that backing a Kickstarter project can go either way and is a bit of a gamble, when they were successfully funded and kept bringing in millions it goes from a gamble to being a downright fraud. My first attempt was denied. But I’m not giving up. Even though I’m fortunate enough to be able to write these $600 off as a dream that didn’t happen, it doesn’t mean I have to accept it without a fight.

And this is not on Derek Smart – this is on CIG failing to deliver. Piling up the “to-do” list of ships and features to get into the game, wanting to release a perfect and fully featured product, delays and now not taking any responsibility for it in their TOS. And I’m not putting the project in jeopardy by requesting a refund. This is a $117+ million project, my ~$600 of that should be less than a fart in space. Think of this as a customer cancelling a preorder because the game changed too much since I made the preorder – which is exactly what I did with The Division & the new Deus Ex when those publishers changed things. Because no one can honestly say that what CIG are pushing today is what they tried to sell during Kickstarter!

To be continued – unfortunately.

Going To the Movies The Proper Way!

As you probably know I have a home cinema in a, almost, dedicated room for the purpose of showing movies on a big screen with good audio. But I still like going out to the movies. The contrasts between the two are ofcourse that going out is about going out, it’s an event, an occasion. And you’ll take the long queues in to the movie, the bad service, the cramped space, trying to carry popcorn & soda while getting the tickets ready, the people talking, the queuing to get out and all of those bad things. When watching a movie at home you don’t have to put up with that – but all of a sudden it’s not so special anymore.

But the new VIP theaters at Mall of Scandinavia in Stockholm puts a completely new spin to it all!! Firstly you’ll get to a restaurant so you can eat actually good, cooked food! Not the food courts of Heron or Kista. You can then order in all the snacks and drinks you want for the movie and it’ll be delivered in a nice basket – even have a beer if you want. Then you go into the movie theater without the queues since it only fits about 40 people! And “why does it only fit 40 people” you ask? – because of the amazing personal space you get! Not only do you get to sit in a comfy recliner chair, you also have more leg space than you’ll need plus a good 30cm of space either side to put your snacks and drinks! Forget about people talking, you’re so far away from each other you can’t really talk when the movie is playing! Then after the movie is done you just calmly leave and go back to the restaurant for some beverage or whatever you like. Yeah, it was expensive but you’ll have to go there alot to make up for all the $$$ that goes into building and maintaining a home cinema.

It’s almost all of the pro’s of watching a movie at home but actually “going out to the movies”! The other con’s against going to the movies (1 – the time to get there 2 – the fact you actually have to drive so one person has to be sober and 3 – the lack of a pause button for bathroom breaks) well I guess there’s really nothing to do against them is it? I mean, scheduling a 5 minute break in the movie for people to do their things might work, but the chances of the building one close enough to me so we can walk are slim to none.

So basically I think this is as far to perfect as a movie experience can get!!

Making Sense of Disney Infinity

A few years ago my wife’s nephew was playing Skylanders on his PS3 and all he wanted was Skylanders figures to “unlock” in the game so he could finish it. I bought him a 3 pack figure set once because I can’t say no to kids wanting video games.

Fast forward about 4 years and I saw the trailer for Disney Infinity. And so did my son and he basically said “I have got to get me one of those!!”. I remember it well, it was when we saw the “Minions” movie. And I explained to him that it was pretty expensive, €90 for the “big” PS4 version that they were advertising. So he started saving up money and we started giving him allowance on the premise that we won’t buy any more toys, he has to do that himself now. We had a little setback with Minecraft on the PS4 but now he finally had money to buy it so off we went.

2015-09-19 - Sams första spelköp 2We got to Webhallen, he got to hold the big box himself and we went back home for the unboxing.

I expected a rather quick “here’s the disc, here’s the base, here’s the figure, let’s go!”. But no! First I had to create a Disney account. Then it had a parent check, and then enter the codes from the cards in the box to tie them to the account (you know, so I can’t return it or sell it second hand if I’m not happy with it), and all that has to be done on a PC. I wonder how many parents give up at this stage? Because after that you have to login to that Disney account on your PS4 when booting up the game and then… it started in a weird demo kind of way with testing different characters from different Disney franchises when all we wanted was to play Star Wars!? Aha, the “play set” item has to be on the base too so it knows what game we’re playing? Ok, done, “Twilight of the Republic”, go!

Finally it booted up to the awesome Star Wars theme followed by.. “this character isn’t available in this play set”?! What? Oh, we tried playing as Luke Skywalker in a “Clone Wars”-era game, well if that doesn’t work why tha hell does he, Leia and Boba Fett come in the pack?! Oh, you have to unlock the characters in the playset by finding their “champion coin” in the game (or play set?), not cool at all but ok, YouTube helped me and my son to sort that out. Now let’s test “Rise Against the Empire” play set that we got in this PS4 exclusive collector edition. This is the original triology, Darth Vader era Star Wars I know and love. Aaaaaaand “this character isn’t available in this play set” when we had Anakin on the base? Because ofcourse the champion coins are unique for the play set and you have to unlock Anakin “champion coin” in this playset since he “belongs” in the other playset?! Googled around to find out I had to get to the top of a building to get the “coin” for Anakin?! But this means if you buy a “Rebels” era character like Ezra you have to fin his coins in both play sets?!

But ok, all characters unlock in all games… sorry I mean “play sets”.. and let’s roll. On Monday evening we’d finished both ga… sorry, “play sets”. There was two of them and me and my son had them beat in less than two days? And he did most of the playing and he’s 5! What tha hell, what to do after this? … wait for the next gam… sorry, “play set” with the characters from “Inside Out” which kinda requires that Sam sees the movie to understand.

Really Disney? I know you want to make money, I’m not naive but .. really? Not well played Disney, not well played at all. Or to quote the Roberts – “this is bullshit”. You have to make it THIS complicated only to suck as much money out of us as you can? You have gone and totally confused me with “play set”, “power coin” and I haven’t even started with the “power discs” yet and you charge €90 for 2 “play sets” I could’ve played through in less than 3 hours each had I wanted to? That’s really low, the Lego games are atleast challenging and goes on and on! Speaking of which, guess I have to buy the Batman Lego game now that this is already done.

So if you plan to buy Disney Infinity for your kids, get prepared and read up.

That Plane That Crashed Into The Alps

I am an avid fan of aviation. Always have been, always will be. I, like any other boy, wanted to be a pilot but never worked hard enough to get the grades to get into that and not doing military service (which was obligatory in Sweden at the time) kinda ruled that out. So I wanted the next best thing, an air traffic controller. I got as far as the trialouts at Arlanda (Sweden’s biggest airport) but for reasons unknown to me they decided “I didn’t have the proper predisposition for this job. This decision is final and cannot be appealed”. That was the end of that dream and I got into computers instead which worked out pretty nice for me.

But I’m still interested in aviation. And I try to see every episode of “Air Crash Investigation” that I can and do my best to follow it when something happens. The bad side is that it takes months, sometimes several years, from a crash until the investigation can conclude something. Like that Air France plane from Brazil that dropped into the ocean, took them 2 years to find them (good job on that by the way).

And about 3 weeks ago I saw the “Air Crash Investigation Special” on the 1 year anniversary since the disappearence of MH370. In it they through the Sherlockian (I love making up words) method of eliminating everything they know didn’t happen come to the conclusion that one of the pilots, most likely the captain, sent away the co-pilot, locked the door, disabled the transponer and the ACARS (which really only a well trained pilot would know how to do), dropped the air preassure so everyone but him would lose consciousness and then he navigated around radar stations before setting a course for the antarctic. They never had a clue why anyone would do it but that’s the only theory that is NOT disputed by the available data.

And exactly 2 weeks after that airs, a Germanwings plane crashes into the alps killing everyone. I’m not going to say that “I knew it must have been a deliberate thing by a pilot” because I really didn’t. I think it was clear right away it was “human error” because the rate that they were loosing altitude couldn’t have been missed by anyone and the fact that they didn’t turn back or radio anyone suggested that what happened wasn’t a technical glitch. Unlike the Greek plane where everyone lost consciousness when a service engineer had forgotten to reset a switch, this plane crashed right away whereas the Greek plane kept on going for hours. So it couldn’t have been a technical reason for it, it had to have been caused by the human factor which is the case in a surprisingly amount of crashes. But I really didn’t think it was deliberately crashed but very quickly it was clear that that’s what happened. And I have to say I am very surprised that this amount of information have been released this soon. As I said these usually take months or years, this one was a few days. The full investigation, with the proper recommendations to the airline industry and regulatory institutions, will ofcourse take a few months but it’s really rare to see it being cleared up this quickly. And I think that’s a good thing, if not for the world to feel safer flying again (or do we?) then for the victim’s families that already this soon have answers. I like that.

I also can’t help but to feel that this isn’t entirely unrelated to the post about corporate greed in the airline industry that I posted a while back. This was a pilot that had mental issues he delt with but from all official channels was cleared to work. But he always had this cloud of uncertainty hanging over him because of the situation in the airline industry – and remember, the Lufthansa pilots have just been on a strike about their situation so it’s got to be serious for them. Not that I’m justifying his actions but I just want to raise the point that that might have been a small contributing factor that shouldn’t be ignored. I’ve been fortunate enough never to have been unemployed in my entire life, although I’ve been close 3 times and all of those times I’ve been extremely stressed out over it. Once I almost got an ulcer because of it so I think everyone can relate to a persons worry about his employment, especially if you’ve worked hard enough to reach the pilot seat.

Another point here is that I don’t think this is just an issue in aviation. This could just as easily have been a train driver that deliberately drives his train into Paddington station at full speed in rush hour, imagine the death toll on that. And the accident in Spain a few years back when a train driver wanted to challenge how fast he could take a curve proves that there aren’t safeguards there either. Did the train industry decide all of a sudden that there should be two people in the driver seat for trains? No, but they have on planes.

But still – you’re more likely to die on the way to the airport than on the plane!

 

My Issue With Tidal

Yesterday there was a big event by some of today’s biggest artist to together really kick off the music service Tidal. It’s the newest and most likely candidate to challenge Spotify’s ownership of the digital music throne. I should like it. But here’s why I don’t – and keep in mind these are MY issues, they don’t apply to everyone!

– The artists keep saying that this service will reward the actual artists way more than the evil Spotify. And that sounds noble, right? Well that certainly goes against most research I’ve read that says Spotify is most certainly paying their share – it’s just not going to the artists. Reason for that is.. well, they aren’t the ones with the contract with Spotify, the labels are. (their own report can be found here and here is a report from Time.com)

– They say it’s good for consumers. And usually I’d agree, nothing like some good competetivness to bring out the best in people and companies. But this is different. With Spotify I have ONE music service where I store my music library. And I can access that music from any cellphone brand I want, from my TV, from any of my computers, from my Playstation, my Sonos and even my TV. If you add another service which has material the other one doesn’t it forces you to either choose or have both which will cost you €20 per month. How is that good for consumers? And the amount of time it will take for Tidal to be supported by say my Samsung TV, Sony Playstation or Sonos… it’s just not good for consumers – IMO – from that technical point of view. It’s the same with the “video on demand service” – I wouldn’t mind paying €50 for one service that had it all, but I don’t wanna pay €10 for 5 difference services!

– They say their music quality is better. I don’t know about you but 90% of my music listening is done from my cellphone on the move. And with those small earplugs I dare say noone will ever notice the difference between Spotify HQ audio (and most people don’t even sync their music in HQ mode in Spotify because of storage limits) and Tidal HQ audio. I hear the difference between 128k and 192k audio in MP3’s but above that it’s simply not noticable – for me! Sure there are audiophiles out there that can spend €500 on earphones and maybe they will notice, or I might notice when turning it up in my home cinema. But it certainly won’t be a big enough quality different to hear it!

– I trust Spotify more than I trust JayZ. JayZ with wife Beyonce have enough money to not give a shit for the rest of their lifes. If the Tidal service is bad, “so what”, that don’t matter shit for them, just a failed project. If Spotify is bad they’ll hear it and change because they can’t afford not to. I got pissed when Spotify introduced their “you have to have a Facebook account” but after tweaking it I really don’t mind. And I trust that Spotify will not make an exclusive deal with say Apple that the hottest music will only be available on the iPhone app first because Spotify can’t afford to piss Android, Windows and PC users!

So I’m left thinking this isn’t just a noble thing and JayZ’s gift to the world of music industry that it’s painted out to be. It looks to me more like it’s their way of trying to increase their revenue. Which is totally fine by me, I wouldn’t wanna work for free. But just don’t make it sound so noble and say it’s for us consumers.

I Finally Made It – MCSE !

Wind back the clock some 17-18 years when I was working as a computer guy at Min Dator spending my days building computers and installing them for our customers. I thought I was pretty darn good at what I did and good with computers. But then we merged with a consultant firm and getting to know those guys with high certification levels made me realise I didn’t know a helluvalot. And then we merged with Pulsen and I tried being a consultant but I could never compete with those guys. And it didn’t help when the boss referred to me as a “resource filler” – that kinda killed my ambition. Then I worked at the lawfirm and it was the most secure employment I could ask for and I had no need or reason to get certifications. But as I was doing my two rounds of trying to get a job before and after the Carema disaster one question kept coming up during interviews. “You’ve done a few courses, do you have the certifications?” – which I didn’t. I never heard anyone say that was bad or that was the reason I didn’t get a job but it showed me that employers actually do care about that.

So when I got the job here I said I didn’t only want to take the courses I wanted to take the certifications too – and my employer said ok to take that expense (granted, it’s only €100-€150 each but still a nice gesture). And after I had the first course, studied for the exam and made it with flying colours I realised how easy it was for me. So my boss and I sat a goal for me (which we use for bonus calculations) to become MCSE – Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert.

MCSE_SharePoint_Blk (Custom)Now 2 years and 7 exams later I did it! It doesn’t change my salary, it doesn’t help me with the ladies, it doesn’t do much at work or at home at all – but it’s a personal achievement that has been in the making for quite a while but I never got the thumb out of my ass to do. It’s also something of a growing up thing – which is totally lame thing to say 3 months shy of being 40. But it is for me! I don’t expect anyone to really understands what it means to me since I’m the only “me” there is – but just respect the fact that for me it’s AWESOME! AND EVERYTHING IS AWESOME!! (yeah, we just saw The Lego Movie)

New Photo Album Application

I’ve tried alot of photo albums addon for WordPress but not really liking any of them. So I decided to use a feature in my NAS for this because it works pretty damn good. One feature that I’m working on is the ability to geotag photos so you can map out where we’ve been and the photos from that place (in the top right corner, simply choose “Map”). Unfortunately this means going through every picture and you know me and how retro I can be when I go down that path!
photo_map
Anyway here is the address for it : http://photos.kristoffer.com/photo/
The login is “Gäst” and the password is the Swedish, short name of my employer.

Geek Complaints Because Size Does Matter

If you’ve ever bought a harddrive you know that what is said about it’s size on the package doesn’t equal what Windows says the drive is. What I am really starting to hate is that now that the drives are so damn big I’d say it’s a fraud selling a harddrive as 3TB when in fact it’s only 2.7TB.

The geeky explanation why this has happened is : When 1 kilobyte was established it was with binary math as 2^10 = 1024 bytes. But with the next step, megabyte, math says that 2^20 = 1048576 bytes. But the manufactureres didn’t like that so they decided that 1MB = 1000KB. And now that we are talking TERABYTES this math has gone so wrong that an average disk sold as 1TB disk will in fact only be 931 megabytes (or 0.9TB) in Windows and any other OS or application. That’s almost 7% gone because the manufacturers are saying one thing when math says another.

Why is this bothering me now? Because now I have 5x3TB harddrives in a RAID5 at home. RAID5 means that 1/[number of disks] of space is wasted for parity so I can retain the data if one drive fails. In this case that’s 1/5, that’s 3TB, is gone for that. So 5*3-3 = 12TB. So I should have 12 beautifull TB of space. But I only have 10.8TB. That’s 1.2TB gone – 11% because manufacturers are taking the piss out of math. And it’s really starting to piss me off now that we’re talking about drives in the TB class!

Do you know any other market where a retailer sells you something and you totally accept to only get 89% of what you paid for becuase of math?!

And now you might start to realise … I can do clickbait to! 🙂

So Very Close

Just a little personal congratulations to myself for having passed 6 Microsoft exams now, and I’m just one little exam away from being a Microsoft Certified Solutions Engineer. I don’t know why that makes me gigly, not likes it’s going to go down well with the ladies but for me it’s a big deal. And it’s not going to give me a payraise nor going to stop my ear from peeping. So it’s just to boost my ego. If all goes we’ll I’ll be on the advanced Sharepoint 2013 course in one month and write the last exam after that for that glorious title.

Yay for me.

Why Filesharing Won’t Go Away

I doubt you’ve read this article : http://torrentfreak.com/uk-users-need-27-services-to-get-most-popular-films-report-finds-141208/ . What it basically says is “if you want to watch the most popular movies the legal way online you have to have 27 subscriptions”. It doesn’t say how much they cost but in my case that is irrelevant. Or you can have one subscription to a good Torrent/Usenet site and get it that way.

It’s the same issue with having physical purchased Blurays versus digtal media files. With the digital media file you simply double click and the movie starts. With buying a physical purchased Bluray you insert the disc and sit through adverts, commercial, trailers, discailmers, copyright notices, sound checks and animated menus that fly back and forth and then the movie actually starts!

That’s why filesharing won’t go away – because it’s a way more convinient way of consuming media today! I’ve started using more of online webservices like Netflix & Viasat which are great but still some issues. They don’t have deals with all studios so they can’t have all the movies & TV series. And the TV shows don’t have the latest episodes shown in the states. So as long as the entertainment industry is set in their ways and don’t want us in Sweden to see the latest episodes/TV series, as long as they have their distribution strategies and insist on showing us trailers, disclaimers and stuff on our discs when all we want is to watch a movie then filesharing won’t go away. I’d gladly pay $50-$100 per month for a service where I could see -> everything <-. But I don't want to pay $10 per service per month and still not get the latest stuff. That's what I think...