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Malik (11/14/11)

For the first time this season, I didn't see anything more than maybe five minutes of the Seahawks game. Normally, this would be a bonus since the Seahawks are a form of torture not meant for watching by anyone with a weak stomach. Well, of course, since I missed the game, they once again knocked off a #1 team in a division. First they took out the Giants in New York and this time they beat the (formerly) 6-2 Ravens. Now the Ravens are 6-3 and the Seahawks are 3-6. Stranger still, Seattle had some good stats with Marshawn Lynch picking up a second 100+ yard rushing game in a row and also seeing Lynch pick up 50+ yards in the air.

Seattle only did manage one single touch down (Lynch), but Hauschka picked up five successful field goals to tie a franchise record for successful FGs in a game. If I didn't know better, I'd swear that it sounds like Seattle was a solid team for the second time this year. Of course, I missed the game, so I don't know if Seattle was that good or if the Ravens had some form of epic collapse. Losing to the 'Hawks implies the later.

By the crazy is it that all four NFC West teams won in the same day?  I mean the 49ers are amazing this year, but seeing the Rams, Cards, and Seahawks all win in the same day is nothing short of unbelievable.  Good luck seeing this "aligning of the stars" again any time soon.

I missed the game since I've been playing a tiny bit of Skyrim. When I say tiny bit, I mean that game owns my life. My life was forfeit the moment I figured out how to get the 360 controller turned off and keyboard and mouse turned on as the controller.

Ok...I need to air a few complaints before anything else. The game is amazing, so some minor complaints should be told of before claiming this game is the epic awaited dose of awesome that it is.

First off, if a 360 controller is plugged in to your PC (PC version all the way with the inevitable mods that will come), it is the default controller and the keyboard and mouse do nothing. Literally, nothing. You want to start a new game from the main menu when you first boot up Skyrim? You need to use the 360 controller. You actually cannot change this until after your actually start a new game, or until you unplug the 360 controller. When the back of your PC is a mess and finding the right USB to unplug is not a thing of simplicity, you have some work to do in the settings menu in the game. No pre-game settings will change the controller input.

Secondly, the menu system is crap. It reminds me a lot of the original Mass Effect 1 menu system. It's more a list of items than skills than a thoughtfully displayed GUI. The only exception is the skill menu, which is just a confusing mess the first time you look at it. Luckily, this is not a game breaker, but I look forward to the inevitable user made mod to put classic The Elder Scrolls menus (like we saw in the previous outings) into this otherwise amazing game.

Lastly, the psychic crime detection system is back...with some new twists. Let me just explain how I found this out. I wanted to use my sneak attack to see if there was any special animation for an instant sneak attack kill. There are special death blow animations, so it doesn't hurt to check. The only "foe" around was a single chicken. No person saw me as I sneaked up to this chicken of doom. I then draw my mace and proceed to slay the mighty beast in a single shot. Then the messages appear on top of the screen, in this order (paraphrased since I forget the exact wording)...

You crime has been witnessed

The witness has been silenced

Your crime will not be reported

Apparently, that chicken was the witness to my crime of slaying that chicken. Luckily, by committing my crime, the chicken was silenced from telling the guards. Yes, I think the game is actually allowing farm animals to report crimes to town guards. If this is not a problem or an oversight, I don't know what is.

Still, this did give me a brief moment of silly fun. Also the random nature of the side quests is helping with silly fun. Without spoiling anything, a drinking contest is probably one of the best events that could happen in this game and leads to one of the best TES related quests I've ever seen. As far as I'm concerned, I have no desire to touch the main quest for a while. I have too much fun ahead of me with the small single shot side quests, the thieves guild (which has been great so far), the companions (like a fighters guild), and my desire to track down the Dark Brotherhood (I think I'm on to a good lead).

So far, this game is to Oblivion in the same way Oblivion was to Morrowind. Oblivion felt like it fixed the problems of Morrowind...and Skyrim solves nearly all of the failings of Oblivion.


Malik (11/15/11)

Instead of going off about Skyrim, I have a minor issue that I feel the need to bitch about. This one is an oldie but always popular in this modern world. Comcast...and how they love to be "Comcastic" on all of us. I'm not a fan of monopolies, and Comcast sure likes to remind me of what a monopoly can do to our bills each month.

Right now Comcast has ads talking about locking in a 2 year price without a contract. Of course, this is for new customers. What do they do in return for loyal customers? The opposite. When our Comcast price went up in the last month, we had to negotiate. After all, the economy is not getting better (when will it finally be declared that we went into a double dip recession?), and the line up offered by Comcast is not getting better. In fact, if you don't count getting HD versions of established channels, then I have not seen any improvement in their TV offerings for a few years. The last true improvement was NFL Network for all people who bought a more premium of offering from Comcast.

When we renegotiated, we were offered a 2 year price with a contract. However, when the contract arrived in the mail, it was actually a one year price at a normal level followed by a second year at an inflated price. This was with a contract and we were lucky enough to notice during the first month, when the contract could be voided. When we tried to stop this inevitable price increase, we were once again forced into a two year contract of a different type (lower service, but still with a price increase in the second year). Despite being loyal to Comcast longer than they were loyal to us (we were with AT&T Broadband cable before Comcast bought them nearly a decade ago), we were given the option of a contract or a major price jump. No other ways around it.

Anyway, while we didn't cut to the bone, we sure did cut our service a fair amount. We are also now having more feelings of apathy to Comcast than ever before. However, as long as we can keep our internet (the only service they actually do improve over time), we can make it just fine since Comcast seems blissfully unaware that their TV offering is up there with their phone service; no longer relevant. When you have cell phones in most pockets, the phone service is a joke (which is why you never get a better deal with Comcast by dumping the landline). When you have Netflix, Hulu, networks that stream on their web sites, Amazon Prime, and a dozen other online streaming options, cable TV is a dying breed. Unfortunately, Comcast refuses to see this, so they only resort to angering customers rather than building brand loyalty.

The one thing I really don't like is that they still only offer one digital box for free with a TV plan, but it's not an HD box. This is despite how HD TVs are becoming normal and common and how nearly all upgrades in Comcast service are tied in to HD channels from the already offered SD channels. If Comcast really wants to do anything to build loyalty, they should look at treating existing customers correctly, ditching contracts, and especially offering a free HD box and not just offering HD channels as a selling point without one free HD box in a package.

Anyway, in a few years, I see Comcast TV starting to go down in popularity as the internet dominates the TV scene. It's a turning point for Comcast and other cable monopolies, and they just seem stuck in their ways. While the downfall will be slower than other similar cases, this is a lot like watching Borders go down. Borders refused to acknowledge the internet until it was too late. A monopoly gets some insulation against this market shift, but not enough to remain immune forever. Unless they learn to adapt, the major cable companies will face some uncertain times in the next five or so years when standard TV is replaced with using a 360, a tablet, a PC hooked up to a big screen TV, or any other form of technology that has actually adapted rather than stagnated.

Long story short...screw Comcast. For the first time in over ten years, we have lowered our service level. We were blindly loyal (read: stupid). At least they finally opened our eyes some. Comcast, thank you for the lesson in how we don't need you in every part of our lives. Now that you were kind enough to educate us, we now can turn our backs on you, one small bit at a time. Hopefully in 2 years when this contract ends, you have either learned or are ready to see us adapt rather than remain complacent.


Malik (11/18/11)

I think it's safe to say that talking about Skyrim is pretty much useless...and incredibly useful. The game is one in which I could swear is unique for every player. When I discuss my experiences with one of my friends, it sounds like he and I are not even playing the same game. There is just too much to do and see, and far too many events which seem almost random in how they appear. For example, while I'll encounter a daedric quest in one location, my friend didn't see it (so far) despite both of us having visited the same starting location many times each.

The game is beyond massive. I've been working on the thief guild and dark brotherhood quests, and have been mostly skipping anything else (I halted my progress on the main plot after killing my first dragon). I have over 30 hours in playing time and feel like I still have a long time left in just my two main guilds. Of course, I have done some miscellaneous quests, some small random tasks, and a quest or two with the companions (fighter guild of sorts), but I still feel like I've barely even started the game. I'm still learning new techniques and new playing styles that are changing the entire way I approach the game.

The only real solid opinions I can say with confidence are few and far between. I can say that the bow is amazing (sneak and archery make for some great fun). I can say that I'm not digging magic as much this time as I did in Morrowind and Oblivion. I can say that despite trying to be a thief-mage type, I'm almost more of a one handed weapon fighter when it comes down to a real combat situation. I can also say that I don't feel like the level scaling is a real problem this time around (unlike Oblivion, in which the scaling made for a stupid experience in many quests). I can also say that while a giant looks far less impressive than a dragon, I would rather face two dragons at once than a giant with a dozen soldiers watching my back. Damn...giants are frightening when you see one launch your partner a few hundred feet into a single hit kill. No matter how strong you are, if you get launched, the fall will kill you.

I honestly cannot get anything accomplished in my life, beyond my job each day, due to Skyrim stealing all of my free time. Super Mario 3D Land? I have it and played a single level. I cannot return to it until Skyrim allows it. Rocksmith? I really want to play, but Skyrim has forbidden it. Watching football? Not when Skyrim is involved.

The only real thing I see myself accomplishing in the near future is a PC upgrade. I hate to do it, since I'm playing with something dangerous for my Skyrim experience, but I want to make Skyrim even better with a new CPU (almost double my current speed before I go crazy with some overclocking). The problem is that my BIOS will not accept the CPU I ordered and received...not without an upgrade. So, despite never wanting to mess with my BIOS version, I have to do a flash on it this weekend. First, I need a good boot disk to handle this, and with the complete demise of 3.5" floppy drives, I am needing a boot DVD/CD. With having a bad DVD burner in my PC (everything is digital distribution now), I have to install a new DVD burner (which I have received). So, if all goes well, I have an hour of simple work to do. If all goes bad, my BIOS flash will destroy my computer.

I have to assume this will all work without a problem, since I'm sure Skyrim would not allow my PC to fail me as long as the game demands my servitude.


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