As much as I love my 13-inch 2015 Macbook Pro, it doesn’t fit well into a small bag for quick trips or my daily commute. And if I’m honest, I don’t need the power of my Macbook Pro for most of the things I use it for, like writing articles, working on my novel, or watching the occasional YouTube video (oh who am I kidding, the occasional YouTube binge session, like streaming sumo in bed). For things like that, a more compact (and less expensive) machine can do the trick.
But I still wanted some power for a commute-able daily driver. And so, to compliment my aging-yet-lovely Macbook, I purchased my first new Windows machine in over a decade: a Microsoft Surface Go tablet. And after a few weeks of fiddling, playing, pushing and writing, I’ve developed a few thoughts about my mobile companion.
I understand that I’m not the average gamer anymore, but have evolved Pokémon-style into a curmudgeon. I don’t give a rat’s ass about how pretty a game is, how “enhanced” the tech gets, how many polygons a piece of hardware can push, any of that. Maybe I’ve aged out of the main age group of gamers… I know I’ve disconnected just enough that my finger isn’t as “on the pulse” of the industry as it used to be.
In short, that means mostly Overwatch these days, the occasional RPG (Persona 4 Golden is still a classic), a moment with one of the various classics collections (the Sega Genesis Classics version of Altered Beasts won’t play itself, y’know). But that doesn’t mean I don’t still, occasionally, enjoy a new release with all the promise that brings.
Like how I just downloaded Arcade Archives Shusse Ozumo, an arcade game previously exclusive to Japan, released in 1984, and made available to me here in the US on July 11th, 2019.
After the year that was 2016, with a ton of celebrity deaths (of celebrities people actually liked, like David Bowie and Carrie Fisher) and the election of a xenophobic candy corn here in the US, I could always find some kind of solace in a good book. And I got through 23 of them this year, which is a happy number, since my goal is at least 20 every year.
2016 has been an interesting year, and not one I would like to forget any time soon from its upsides (instead of as a cautionary political tale). I started dating a sweetheart of a human being, two of my best friends got married, I attended some awesome press events even if I subsequently took a break from being a professional video game critic late in the year. I interviewed a sitting world champion of pro wrestling (AJ Styles, the best wrestler on the planet with or without the belt) and attended my sixth E3. I moved into a new room. Got my first two tattoos.
It’s been a productive year, when I really sit down and think about it. And 2017 is going to be better, because I’m going to MAKE it better.
Like I did with the 2015 list, here is the list of what I read, along with a two-sentence review and a final score. Hope this might help tune you into some good books for your 2017!
Back in August of 2016, I did my first review of hardware of any kind: my now-standard headphones, the Kingston HyperX CloudX Pro Gaming Headset. In June the pair were dropped in front of me, and I played with them over two months to see if they were really worth the effort. And damned if they were, I now take the clamshell with me every time I leave the house with my work bag. (And wherever else I may be when I need a pair of headphones, for that matter.)
As I said in the review, I’ve owned my fair share of crappy headphones that just can’t do the trick the way a high-quality $100 pair can. But sometimes, an inexpensive pair can get a person through some rough times when carrying a bulky pair just isn’t in the cards. And tonight, I bought the cheapest pair I’ve ever owned of physical headphones, from my favorite cheap-o store.
Being as how I haven’t written a proper review of anything in a little while, I thought I might break that cycle and lay down the law on that new pair. Simply because they’re not only better than I thought, but that their price led me to believe.
Back in the school year of 1999/2000, about 16 years ago, I started writing video game reviews in a school notebook when I should have been studying electronics. I would’ve been about 15 at the time. And instead of being fascinated by the electronics room’s dissected Atari 2600 heavy six-switch (though admittedly I was), I was dawdling writing my thoughts about games that had spent their fair share of time in my home consoles. And the first, which I remember with some clarity, is why this comes to my mind now: I reviewed Pokemon Yellow for my Game Boy, a game now being re-released nearly twenty years after its initial launch in Japan. I don’t still have the ripped-out page for that review, which is for the best… I feel like reading it back now would bring back my desire to burn things.
So over the course of 2015, I found my way through 24 books, and I thought a nice way to wrap up the year would be a brief review of each, say a sentence or two and a basic overall score. If you want to know more options about any of these, do let me know and I’ll be happy to elaborate in comments.
But first, a little housecleaning: I didn’t finish the second draft of my manuscript this year. Maybe it was the reading, maybe it was the articles I was tasked to write, but for whatever reason I just didn’t get it done. I got a lot of work done on it – I’ve elaborated on characters, extended scenes, added depth to the story – but it wasn’t done. I’ll have more done over 2016, and hopefully finish this draft (and maybe even work on something new). I’ll keep anyone interested apprised over the next 12 months about progress there.
For now, let’s get to the books! This year was pretty good for my bookshelf, and I caught up on what was already on my shelf (they looked good in the store but I got distracted after purchasing, that sort of thing). Many were read on my Kindle, but exactly half were physical copies. There’s nothing quite like kicking back on the couch and flipping pages in the quiet… but there’s also nothing quite like never worrying about lighting up the page and hurting my eyes.
(Side-note: After all these books I got my yearly eye exam, and I have a new pair of reading glasses coming through the mail. Because reading significantly points out the flaws my eyeballs have, and made a few things worse.)
A few months ago I supported a Kickstarter campaign for a small, underpowered computer based around the Android OS. The computer, the Remix Mini, is currently plugged into my TV and running… and, in fact, I’ve written the majority of this review ON my Remix Mini. Writing there, it seems like a good enough test while I have a YouTube video playing in a secondary window.
So what do I think so far, after about an hour and a half with the tiny titan? Let’s talk first impressions.
When I started out my annual Points List breakdown of what I wanted to accomplish, I included with it a list of books I hoped to get through in the coming year. I posed the question of what I should read to friends on Facebook, and the first one that popped up was an old college friend who offered one of her favorites: Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk.
The book that inspired a movie that inspired a series of kitschy one-liners and unnecessary hospital visits, wrapped in an ideology nobody wants to admit appeals to them. And don’t worry, I intend to be just as corny with some of the sentences (like that title up there), as I am one of those people who enjoys their own past a little more than they probably should. And this is going to be indulging in some of that past with newly-glassed eyes (in that I have newer glasses than when I would’ve read this before) and a completely different outlook on my world than my early college years.
Be warned: I don’t intend for them, but there is the possibility of spoilers. But if you haven’t read it yet, it’s been almost 20 years since it came out, so that’s your fault.