To V or Not To V?

So many people are freaking out about Street Fighter V, saying that it should never have launched, it’s unfinished, the netcode/network is terrible, or “Input lag! WHY!?” I understand that it’s not USF4, but games and game developers will always have issues. And players will always have issues with the games they play, even if the game is near perfect.

I trust that — given time — SFV will get much better. You have to consider that Capcom is under a lot of pressure to maintain this legendary franchise’s reputation, whilst meeting the demands of their other IPs (MVC:I included). If you really love these games, you’ll be patient and throw them a sack of bones.

Not to mention, as of this writing, Capcom has just announced that they will be beta testing CFN changes, as well as the upcoming April balance changes on PC. You naysayers out there are going to have a lot less to complain about. Decreased loading times for online Ranked and Casual, Training Mode settings will now be saved, and you can add friends and follow them directly in game. Here’s the blog post announcing the beta test.

The fact that they are beta testing these changes, it’s huge! This has been something players have been complaining about since it’s release, and it’s finally happening! There’s no better time to jump in to this game than now. If you ever thought that Capcom wasn’t listening, we now have proof that they have — in fact — been listening.

Additionally, if you care about the FGC, you’ll support SFV. Not simply because SFV is a fighting game, but because it has more of the public’s attention than all the previous iterations combined. If you’re a lover of Street Fighter like me, and you want to see this franchise grow, you’ll buy it and play it. And here’s why: even if you don’t like/care for SFV, you’re investing in Street Fighter 6. Do you want them to keep making these games? They need money to do that. So be a Doll, and pick it up. 😉

To V or Not To V?

The Man Edison Couldn’t Keep Up With

[ image courtesy of teslasociety.com ]

I am a Tesla fan, and have been ever since I saw the Prestige (2006). I’m not saying that I get my history lessons from movies, what I am saying is that it can take a movie to get me interested in history. Not long after seeing that movie did I peruse iBooks on my iPhone to find a short biography of Nikola Tesla. In it I discovered the atrocities that Thomas Edison and J.P. Morgan threw on this brilliant scientist. But I am not here to protest the treatment of Tesla, but to discuss the other stuff that I read about him. Namely, his inventions and concepts.

In that same biography I learned about the already well known Tesla Coil. But did you know that Tesla was the first person to produce a fully electric car? Or what about this: toward the end of his life, Tesla had made a working prototype of a FLYING CAR! Well, it was just a box the size of a dishwasher, but still. It used no wings, no propellers, and no jet engines, and caressed the air as it moved freely about, ever as agile as a butterfly. He did a live demonstration in front of several people (whose names escape me at the moment), who were all marveled at the dream, but were more baffled at the idea than impressed.

As an aside, did you know that, while Elmo Marconi is credited to having invented the radio, it was actually Tesla’s invention? You’d be surprised at how many things we now consider commonplace today, that were said to have been invented by Edison or other people when they were actually conceived of, and invented by Tesla. The only reason he lost any grip on his inventions is that when he was found dead in his home by the landlord, the landlord went to get call the doctor. Not long after the doctors reported Tesla deceased, a small army of men, whose affiliations are still a mystery today, entered his home and boxed up all of Tesla’s diagrams, notes, and lab equipment. Some say it was the government who wanted to get a hold on Tesla’s diagrams and specs for what was dubbed the Death Ray.

Tesla also had a working prototype of free home electricity, and it wasn’t solar panels. He built a tower that pulled electrical charge from the ionosphere, and shot it into the ground. All you needed to do was drive a copper rod into the ground and connect it to your home wiring. One tower could power a whole neighborhood. I am baffled at the lack of implementation on these concepts! Why are we not funding this?!

Just wanted to spit this out. Not very many people know about this. And they should!

The Man Edison Couldn’t Keep Up With

Unsung Heroes: Final Fantasy Tactics

I was listening to Joystiq’s podcast earlier today as they were talking about The Banner Saga, a tactics style RPG about Vikings on PC. And what surprised me was that they presented it as being akin to XCOM. Hello!! It’s an obvious take on Final Fantasy Tactics!

FFT is one of my favorite games to play on the regular PlayStation, and even though I don’t have my gray box anymore, I still have my copy of FFT in its own box somewhere, collecting dust. There’s a funny thought: a collectible collecting things. Anyway, I just couldn’t believe that these people totally breezed over it like it wasn’t an awesome game. I mean, WTF mate! It was because of FFT that they made Disgaea and Dofus! It proved that there was still a market for the genre, and while talking about a tactical RPG, it doesn’t even get an honorable mention. The nerve!

By now, I’d guess that some of you are asking yourselves, “What the crap is this game? Final Fantasy Tactics? That’s a dumb name.” If you’re really curious, check out Wikipedia’s article on TRPGs. It’ll fill you in. Admittedly, this video game genre is not for everyone, but in my opinion, Final Fantasy Tactics perfected the genre and gave it frickin’ clout.

The genre started out as a tiny niche for a select few strategy gamers in 1983 (what a good year), but it wasn’t until Nintendo released the first installment of the Fire Emblem series that it got any legitimate press. And even then, it couldn’t make it to the top-list area of reviews or hype in the gaming magazines of that time. Yeah, it may have gotten mentioned somewhere, but was almost immediately pushed aside for the big Super Mario World cover stories.

And then there was Final Fantasy Tactics. For Squaresoft (now Square Enix), their Final Fantasy series had lived in the JRPG world. Then they had one of their dev teams make this game, and it is legendary! The story is excellent and executed extremely well, the gameplay is easy to pick up but difficult to master, and the depth of the job system is so vast, you’d need Captain Nemo to fish out the bottom. In order to have just the main characters master all of the jobs, you’d need to play through the entire game at least twice. And then there’s the other peripheral characters that you can hire throughout the game. So depending on how much of a complete-ist you are, you’re looking at, at least 3 to 4 play throughs to get it all done. And this ain’t no beat-it-by-the-end-of-your-lunch-break kind if game. We’re talking at least 30 hours of gameplay before you reach the end… Once. So the replay value is extremely high.

Since it’s original release, it has also been remade for other platforms like Gameboy Advance, and there’s even a mobile app version of it in the App Store. I’d definitely recommend you pick up this game. It’s awesome!

Unsung Heroes: Final Fantasy Tactics

For The Love!

If it’s one thing my wife calls me on the most, it is when I make generalizations, or blanket statements covering entire social groups. All it is really, is my short usage of stereotypes or things that don’t actually apply to the entire said group. It can be somewhat annoying for me, especially when the issue she sticks me with was said simply to make a point. But in all actuality, she’s right, and I am thankful for her pointing it out. In the almost 5 years that we have been married, I have learned to catch myself when I am about to make such generalizations, and I am the better for it. But when it comes to religious prejudice or stereotypes, there are people who harbor no tolerance for Christians.

As a Christian myself, I find it entirely confusing and contradictory when people say that we need to be tolerant of all beliefs, but in the same breath, they rag on Christianity. Understandably, I can cope with this if they’ve been personally burned by someone who claimed to be a Christian, which is unfortunately very common; but what about the person who trashes Christians based on the idea that they’re the intolerant, genocide-inducing, our-way-or-the-high-way types? And all their information comes from hearsay, what they’ve read, or second-hand experience? I often find myself thinking, “So, by saying that we should be tolerant and respectful of all religions, except Christianity, are you saying that Christianity is not a religion?”

Last I checked, in the state of California, if you have 4 people who adhere to certain beliefs, you can get recognized as an official religion. So, let’s see… In 2010, it is reported that 64% of Californians fall under the Christian doctrine category. In that year there were just over 37,250,000 residents of the state, which means that over 20,000,000 people in California are said to believe in Jesus Christ. And that’s just one state out of 50, not to mention the world’s Christian populace. So I guess the problem isn’t that they think it’s not a religion. Well, what is it then?

I tend to listen to more podcasts than music, I’m just wired that way for some reason, and one that I listen to almost every day is Ravi Zacharias. He is a Christian apologist (in layman terms, he defends Christianity from scrutiny and accusation), and is one of, if not my favorite speaker. He has a lot of great things to say to counter any accusations a person might have on the subject. But some of the most common things that people confront him with are the likes of the Medieval Crusades, Christianity’s intolerance of other religions or lifestyles, and (the always classic) hypocrisy.

People who say that Christianity should be boycotted because of the atrocities committed during historical events like the Crusades and the Inquisition, or even the Salem Witch Trials, try to make Christianity out to be some sort of abased lifestyle. Well, if you follow that same logic, then we’d also have to write off atheism based on the Holocaust alone. (Yes, Hitler and Stalin were both atheists, in case you didn’t know.) I won’t even get into other belief systems, as there are too many unfortunate, and sickening events to discuss, it would just take way to long.

And then there’s the idea that Christianity practices hate for those who hold to beliefs contrary to its own. Let me make one thing clear, and I will make my point by utilizing a concept from one of my favorite bumper stickers, “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.” That is to say that if someone who claims to be a Christian tells a homosexual that they should die because of their sinful lifestyle, DOES NOT MEAN THAT IS CHRISTIANITY’S STANDARD PRACTICE!!! Hate has never been utilized in Christianity’s doctrine, but teaches the exact opposite. The great commission is not to tell everybody how evil they are and that they’re going to go to hell. The Great Commission is to spread the Gospel message over the far reaches of the Earth. But, how do we go about that? Here is my all time favorite quote from St. Francis of Assisi:

Preach the Gospel at all times, and when necessary, use words.

This is a no brainer. What St. Francis is saying here is that we are to show the love of Christ, and not necessarily through a verbal medium. This goes way back to what Jesus taught in that we are to love one another as He loves us, and in doing so, others will know that we are His followers. Or classically, “they will know you by your fruit.” We need to remember that the only people that Christ openly berated were those of the very religion He is God of: the Pharisees and Sadducees. He never condemned anyone who was not of the Hebrew faith, but showed them love and mercy. I guess the gist of what I am trying to say is that just because certain Christians practice “hate” against those who live contrary to our beliefs, doesn’t mean that all Christians are that way, or should be. A person of the Christian faith who practices hate is not living the way Christ intended, and they should be prayed for. Yes, I am saying that people who unrepentently and consistently do unchristlike things are not only conning and damaging others, but also themselves. What I am not saying is that they’re not Christians, that’s for God to decide on the Day of Judgement. The true Christian faith teaches us not to have judgement for outsiders, but that we are to call out sin in our own congregation, as clearly stated by the Apostle Paul in various places of his letters.

Hypocrisy is probably one of, if not the biggest issue that people outside Christianity have a problem with. But if we look at humanity as a whole, hypocrisy is rampant everywhere you go. Even in the groups that call out Christians on it! A little ironic don’t you think? But at the same time, I almost have to think that this is, and will be the case for as long as it takes us to change. Heck, God could be utilizing non-Christians calling us out as a check for his followers to wake up. Wouldn’t that be interesting? Now, I’m not saying that God is the perpetrator of Christian persecution, so don’t you even go there.

This is my call to repentance for all Christians who are out there giving other Christians, and in turn, Christ, a bad rap. Christ told us that we would undergo intense persecution and scrutiny, all the more reason why we need to be so careful how we act around people who don’t know Jesus. We also need to humble ourselves when we get called out on something we are saying or doing that is contrary to Christ’s teaching. So, for the love! Show the love, not the hate.

Catch you later!

– M

For The Love!

Confirmation

If you had asked me how my relationship with Christ was a week and a half ago, I would’ve told you that it was rocky, and in dire need of repair. Though, If you would’ve asked me on January 6th, I would have exclaimed, “Jesus loves me!”

In 2013, I started going to school full-time on top of a full-time job. I had been doing fairly well with my spiritual life up until that point. So, I figured God would understand that I had to take some time to focus on my school work and the rest of my life for a short period. But little did I know that a short break in my devotions would result in some terrible feelings, and even some rocky instances in my marriage. I’m not going to go through all the details of my negligence, but I will just say that my time with media and God became grossly out if balance.

On Sunday, January 6th of this year (2014), I was sitting in the second to front pew in church with my wife and younger brother. My pastor (Brad Bell) had just finished giving his message when the campus pastor, Andrew, came up on stage and announced that we were going to take communion. I didn’t think anything of it as I had been regularly taking part in communion since I was a young lad.

After they passed around the grape juice and mini crackers, the worship band began playing a song called I Need You, which is one of my personal favorites. I’m not exactly sure what happened, or what moon and stars proverbially lined up to make this happen, but, I just began to weep. In an instant, it was as if all of my negligence and self service of the past year came crashing down on me. In that moment I felt shame, conviction, and comfort, each of it’s own intense variety. I can not compare it to anything I have ever felt before. It was in that moment that I asked Jesus to forgive me, and somehow, I knew I got my answer.

You see, nearly my entire life, I have been begging God to give me confirmation of my salvation. “Give me a sign!” I would say (and sometimes yell). “Speak to me, God,” was the other phrase of choice. I never really felt like God had saved me, mostly because I didn’t think I was worth saving. “What would God have to benefit from adding me to His congregation?” Here comes the negative self talk: I am not special; there is nothing spectacular about me; I find most people to be awkward and hard to approach for gospel reasons; I have nothing to add to the flock but selfishness and negativity. In reality, I am just your average person. A middle-class, paycheck-to-paycheck semi professional with a few hobbies. It wasn’t until after church that I realized what had happened. But first, let me go through the “symptoms” I am still feeling.

The next morning (January 7th, 2014) I awoke with an overtly positive attitude. As the day progressed, I realized that I was joyful. Joy is a feeling that I have rarely felt in my life, but I still knew that it was just that. My mind was clearer than it had ever been, even more than when hopped up on ginko biloba, or other “clarity” supplements. My creative muscles seem like super heroes, and my productivity has skyrocketed. My heart for people that I would have otherwise felt awkward around changed to feelings of love, compassion, and smiles. Needless to say, God gave me my confirmation by giving me His Holy Spirit, who brought all of my symptoms with Him.

I can not tell you how much my life has changed in the last week. I’ve had 2 different conversations with my wife that I have wanted to have for years, my personal projects have taken a major upshot, and my face just shines with joy. I feel good! Not just physically, but spiritually and mentally. I am loving life and have the confidence that I can take on anything with His help.

So this is me the past couple of weeks. I hope you take some level of inspiration from my story, and potentially start your own journey down this road. And, if you like, I’ll walk it with you. Take care of yourself!

Catch you later!

– M

Confirmation

Smart Gadgets v. Smart People

[image retrieved from Engadget.com]

Flying Car | Invisibility Cloak | Ninja Sphere

Are the technological advancements we are making in recent years causing the populace of the US (or even the world) to become less smart? Depending on who you are, you might have a different complaint that the general public is too stupid for their own good. My wife often jokes about a coded lock on the inside of the house door that would require a person to solve a math or science problem in order to unlock the door and let them out into the wild. But that is beside the point. What I want to talk about right now, is what our future might look like as consumer technology advances to levels we never dreamed, and what authors and movies only tease us with.

It seems like almost every other day, a new smartphone is released, or a major company such as Samsung announces a new smart watch that connects via bluetooth to your other devices. What these “revolutionary” devices are attempting to accomplish is do the things you can’t do, or don’t want to do, or “shouldn’t have to do” as some might put it. Things like monitor your heart rate while jogging (read: FitBit), or act as an alert hub for when you get a call or text (something that is already plainly visible right on your phone). The way things seem to be going, I can only speculate as to what the next ten years will look like. The idea of a flying car seemed so 22nd century to me, but I’ve recently read about a man who built a prototype flying car (linked above)! Or invisible cloaks that render the user imperceptible to the naked eye (also linked)? Sometimes I wake up and think that I’ve fallen into a scene of Bladerunner! Is this ridiculous, awesome, or scary?

If you were to look up Moore’s Law on Google, you’d find that he is recorded satating that processors and such will double in speed and power every year. It might not be that much at first, but geez! Think about it! If the power of technology doubles every year, and there are 20 smartphones released ever year for the next ten years (to put numbers to it without getting too math-y), that would be 10 x 20^2 (or 10 years times 20 phones squared). The result is 4000 smartphones being released every year by the year 2024. Gah!

I know that number may be unrealistic in terms of quantity, but if you apply that to the meta data, development and what we are capable of (or will be), and what the devices themselves are capable of doing, it’s unbelievable! We could have Light Sabers by 2017! Excited! But, I’ve gone through all this to ask the question: what will technology be able to do for us in 10 years? Or a better question would be: In 10 years, what will we not have to do anymore because technology does it for us? I’m talking about the simple tasks like, making to-do lists, closing your garage door, or even warming up the shower. As it stands, there are currently home systems out there that can turn your house into what they’re calling a “smart home.” With a system like that you can turn the lights on as you’re pulling up to your driveway, or even lock or unlock your front door, all from your phone! There’s even a gadget on Kickstarter (the Ninja Sphere) that can tell you where your pets are in the house by going to a website or looking at your phone! I mean, come on, we even have refrigerators that have touch screen computers and TVs in them. Are we really that far gone?

My concern is that since we have become so dependent on technology, what is going to happen if our children or grandchildren get caught in some sort of post apocalyptic scenario where electricity is hard to come by? Satellites have shut down, cell towers are inoperable, TV and radio spew static, or God forbid the internet should crash! What then? They won’t have a freaking clue what to do with themselves! I can see a teenage kid sticking his or her self in the corner crouched in the fetal position, rocking back and forth because they can’t check their crops on FarmVille. Do you see what I am getting at?

Relinquishing our eyes and minds to glossy screens is not a way of life. Life is out there! Waiting to greet you with love… or a sucker punch. Either of which has potential to be more rewarding, both materially and experiencially, than letting your leg muscles atrophy and your gut expand into pantless territory because you couldn’t pull away from Candy Crush.

Please don’t get me wrong! I love technology! The vast majority of today’s digital devices I find to be extremely useful. And if I had enough money, I’d have them all. So, if you haven’t guessed it already, I am talking about maintaining a balance between analog and virtual life. (Balance is another topic I will post on later.) If we let our minds become so akin to pixels behind glass, mental enrichment will diminish along with our quality of life. Not to mention corporate and/or commercial brainwashing, or a great potential for total life destruction by a solitary hacker or phisher. Is it really worth all that? As into technology as I am, I still keep hard copies of important stuff in a file box or my desk. Technology is cool, but having my life in order is cooler.

At the end of it, technological advancements are both awesome and scary for me. Furthermore, total dependency on smart technology is more than likely not a smart move.

Take care of yourself!

Catch you later!

– M

Smart Gadgets v. Smart People

The Real NZT

MODAFINIL

Modafinil ReviewLimitless

I am basing this on the premise of a pill conceived by author Alan Glynn in his book The Dark Fields. Now a movie featuring Bradley Cooper as down and out Eddie Spinola in the retitled Limitless (2011). While this film may not be theatrical gold, it is still a favorite of mine for the obvious reason: the big what-if. What if there actually was a pill that could unlock your entire brain for you to use at your beck and call? What if you could access memories long forgotten? What if you could strut your way to the top of the corporate ladder (or not, depending on your bent) by outperforming your peers? You intrigued? So am I, my friend. As a 30 year old male, I am constantly frustrated by my short term memory. I forget things so easily and it more often than not causes me, and my friends and family, great distress at home and at work. So the concept of a pill that can fix that is more than appealing to me.

Modafinil was originally produced to help people who suffer from narcolepsy – a rare sleeping disorder that causes them to fall asleep when they get excited. (Look up narcoleptic dogs on YouTube. It’s terrible, but hilarious.)* Out of sheer curiosity I went to the website that the guy talks about in the YouTube video above to check out what it would take to get some Modafinil (or Provigil). Based on the currency, I believe it is a British company charging you £29.99 for a 2 weeks supply consisting of 30 pills. On top of that, they want to dock you an extra £9.99 for “standard” 21 day delivery. I plugged those numbers into the converter on my phone and came up with a grand total of $65.65 (USD) for the most basic order. Given you can use a voucher code that they advertise on their home page for an extra 20 pills with every order, but still. Sixty-five dollars to try something that might not even work, AND has potential to cause insomnia, AND I’d have to wait 3 weeks to get? Nah, not quite ready for that. (Mainly because my wife would kill me if I spent that much on something that only might work. And even if it does perform, it may not be to my expectations.)

Even given the potential side effects to my wallet, I am still interested. I mean think about it: those who are struggling with similar memory issues as myself, and who are a decade or two or three older than I am could benefit immensely from this tiny pill! Have trouble staying awake at work? No problem! Can’t focus on that periodical that needs to be submitted yesterday? Piece of cake! Tired of looking stupid in front of your professor and classmates? Shazam! Or what about that old nemesis: can’t remember where you put your keys? … Right?

I mean, I have to ask: why is this not being mass produced? Why is there not an over-the-counter brand of this crap yet? This sounds like gold to me and I would trample a crowd in the most Christian way I could to get some.

Wait for it…

…but, I had seen a video on Provigil about a year ago about a guy who was taking it on a regular basis. While he functioned at astonishing levels in memory, alertness, and energy, he did not sleep. And that concerns me. He claimed to not suffer from long term effects of sleep deprivation (such as depression, paranoia, and my personal favorite, schizophrenia). I’m happy for the guy, but still, from what I can remember, he’d only been using it for about 8 months. (I couldn’t find the video for reference.) What happens when you use the stuff for a year? Three years? Five? There is a lot of potential for major problems in that scenario. Not to mention the potential for biological dependency (read: addiction), which for me, being an ex-smoker, is a big problem. I have what is called an addictive personality. What? No, that doesn’t mean if you were to become my friend you wouldn’t be able to get enough of me! (Though my wife wouldn’t blame you, she thinks I’m awesome.) What that means is that my personality has an extremely high tendency to become blazingly addicted to stuff in a exponentially short period of time. I’ve kept my distance from recreational drugs for that reason alone (and maybe some others)! And this Modafinil, sounds devilishly close to recreation, or at least non-essential.

But I can’t seem to help myself. I’m still curious.

What about you? Any takers?

Catch you later!

– M

*If you suffer from narcolepsy, I have absolutely no ill will towards you or others who suffer from it. I fully respect the seriousness of your condition. God bless you!
The Real NZT