Friday, February 19, 2016

Clash of Clans

I got started playing Clash of Clans over the summer, mostly as a way to prevent boredom.  I was terrible at the beginning - and I'd say I'm probably just Pretty OK at it now.  But I log in to play (even if it's just to check in on my base) at least once a day; I'd say without a doubt that this is the most I've ever played a video game - and I'm including countless hours trying to beat Star Wars on the original Game Boy (oh man, that is an impossible game!  I never made it past the Death Star).

For a little bit though I was growing a bit bored with the game.  The only thing keeping me coming back to it was that I needed to upgrade troops/buildings/etc and participate in Clan Wars.  I could see myself slipping away from the game eventually.

But Supercell, the company that makes the game, released a pretty major update about a month ago.  I won't go into full detail, but the biggest change was to add a daily 5-star bonus system.  The gist of it is that once a day you can collect bonus loot that gets added to a protected treasury.

Most mobile games have a daily check-in bonus to keep you invested in the game, but I think this is the best implementation of it that I've ever seen.  In most other games, you simply log in once a day and collect a bonus.  In Clash of Clans, you can earn 5 stars every 24 hours (and the 24 hour clock starts once you collect your first star - so if you time it right, you could start earning stars again immediately after your 5th star).

The genius part about this system is that it gets people attacking other clans outside of war more often by creating a bigger incentive.  Where before I might have attacked once or twice a day, I will attack 3-4 times in order to collect bonus stars.  The update also balanced the game a little more, so while you get raided more often - you don't lose nearly as much loot in comparison because you can gain so much more.

All that said - everything they put into this update has breathed some new life into the game for me, and is keeping me interested in it.  The update also showed some thought and care put into the game, and wasn't just a lazy code addition.  A job well done!

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

X-Men Days of Future Past re-watch + Other observations

Last weekend I had a second viewing of X-Men: Days of Future Past.  I first saw it in theatres, and enjoyed it.  Apparently not everyone did?

Anyway, my only problem with the film was the opening exposition from Patrick Stewart / Professor X.  It felt very clunky and put in solely for the movie watching audience - doesn't it seem funny that none of the other mutants were already aware of Mystique's actions to fast forward the Sentinel program?  Other than that, it was a fast-paced film that works really well.  For pacing, it felt a lot faster than First Class - which I think is actually the better film of the two, so far.

Other observations

X-Files: No, not the new season.  Space ran a marathon of classic X-Files episodes the weekend leading up to the new season; I didn't watch the entire marathon, but chose a few to record based solely on the episode descriptions.  I picked some good ones so far!
- Squeeze I spent the bulk of this episode assuming it was actually the second episode featuring Victor Tooms, and was confused why neither Mulder nor Scully realized who they were dealing with.  Good episode, but the characters were a little wooden
- Ice I really liked this episode.  It was both creepy and suspenseful, and had a good sense of mystery around it.
- The Erlenmeyer Flask Really well done episode, and you can tell the writing team, director, and actors are all on their game at this point.  I had seen the pilot episode months before for the first time and appreciated the nice little bookend of the season 1 pilot and finale with the Cigarette Smoking Man in the Pentagon warehouse.
Clyde Bruckman's Final Repose The most recent episode, I just watched this one last night.  This episode was most representative of the bulk of the X-Files episodes I have seen - more monster of the week, scale tipping a little bit to the comedic side.  I really liked this one as well.

Weight loss

I've been trying an 8/16 fast - eat for 8 hours, fast for 16.  It's been going alright; there are times I feel very hungry, but I've been able to work through it.  Usually with water.  I'm into my second week of it now and I'd say I'm not feeling as hungry as I was when I first started it.  When I do eat, I feel full.  So far, it seems to be helping!

Friday, February 5, 2016

Get Creative

This is going to be part of a series of three posts about what I'm doing as of February 1st to get back on track with various things.  I wrote about it last week if you'd like to read more

Get Creative. 

This is the last part of my so-called life reboot.  It's not as important as the first two (Get Healthy/Get Organized), but I think it fits in with the others.  This is a pretty wide-reaching goal, but I've narrowed it down to two things.


I used to read all the time.  Last year I barely got anything read.  I just didn't make the time for it.  Now, I'll make some time for reading every day, even if it's only a little bit.

Write more. 

It doesn't matter whether it's non-fiction or fiction, private or public, I just need to write more.  The goal is to write a little bit each day as well.

Other minor stuff that aren't as paramount to this...
- Keep updating my podcast (Alternative Airwaves)
- Actually, that's about it.

OK, so in 2 months...I'll have an update on everything and what I'm doing to accomplish each goal.  It'll be a lot more condensed so only one post, instead of 3.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Life Reboot #2: Get Organized

This is going to be part of a series of three posts about what I'm doing as of February 1st to get back on track with various things.  I wrote about it last week if you'd like to read more.  Read my first entry, Get Healthy, to catch up.

Get Organized.

This is something I always struggle with, and something I want to improve upon.  Before the new year, I started keeping a notebook in a hybrid version of the Bullet Journal.  At Christmas I got some brand new Moleskine journals that I really love, so will be using those going forward for my journals.

This part of the process isn't nearly as involved as getting healthy, but still pretty important.  Here's what I need to do (or keep doing).

Stay up to date with notebooks.

A no-brainer; this notebook system is only as useful as I keep it updated.  Previously I was going several days in a row without updating it, and some days I'd check it every day.  I need to be checking it every day.

Write down important things. 

Another no-brainer.  If I don't write anything down, I won't remember them.  If I'm not able to write down what I need to in my main notebook right away, then I need to write it on anything available - scrap paper or my cell phone.

That's it!  Last entry coming Friday.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Life Reboot #1: Get Healthy

This is going to be part of a series of three posts about what I'm doing as of February 1st to get back on track with various things.  I wrote about it last week if you'd like to read more.
I've done some thinking and brainstorming about my life reboot, initially thinking I'd focus on 7 things I want to fix or adjust.  I broke it all down to three major categories:

Get Healthy
Get Organized
Get Creative

I'm used to a pretty rigid reporting structure and having things fall under neat packages, so this structure is going to work well for me.  I have different priorities outlined for each of the categories, and a 6 month goal for everything.  I'll be checking in every two months on my progress.  

This week I'm just outlining what my goals are and what I plan on doing to achieve them.  Today, Get Healthy.  Wednesday will be about Get Organized, and Friday for Get Creative.  

Get Healthy

This is my number one priority.  This is a pretty broad goal to achieve, so I've decided that the measure of success here is dropping some weight.  My goal is to drop 20 pounds in 6 months, and to do that, I need to work on a few things.

Drink less beer.  

I think this is the number one thing on the list holding me back from losing weight.  I curl three times a week, and I end up having at least 1-2 beers each game.  I need to limit this to one night.

Better sleep.  

I haven't bothered to look into all the research, but I've heard that getting proper sleep is important to keeping healthy.  There are two things I want to do with this: 1) Stop hitting the snooze button; and 2) Go to sleep at a more consistent time.  

Be mindful of coffee consumption.  

I wouldn't say that this is a problem, or is contributing to my lack of progress, but a recent discussion with a friend reminded me that restaurant portion sizes for coffee are, to put it mildly, out of whack.  The solution here is that I'm not going to drink a cup size larger than what my Keurig machine can brew (which is about 10 ounces; by contrast, a McDonald's large coffee is ~19 ounces).  

Notably missing from this list is the usual "exercise more" option.  I purposefully left it out, because I feel like I already get enough exercise.  The issues I'm having are more in the diet and lifestyle areas, rather than exercising.  I'm too quick to be lazy and grab a fast food dinner rather than taking the time to prepare something at home on the weekend.  It's easy to grab 6 new beers to try from the LCBO.  

For exercising, I frequently choose walks at lunch time instead of reading.  I've conditioned myself to a point where I want to go out walking, even in winter.  I curl three nights a week.  I play lead, which means a ton of sweeping (especially on night we only play with three - I do a LOT of sweeping).  Generally I try to stay active, so that's not the problem I'm having.  

Get Organized is coming up Wednesday.