My love affair with video games

People who read my blog and watch my youtube can conclude a few things about what I like: I like technology, I like computers, I like guitar and music, and I like video games. I’ve already talked somewhat about technology, gadgets and guitars on my blog, so now time to talk about video games and my history with them:

Computer games and video games were basically what got me interested in programming; My dad was a programmer and he was also kind of a tech geek as well, he bought the latest powerful computers (at that time was a 486 IBM PC I believe), and he always bought me and my brother CDs and floppy disks full of cool DOS games. My mother was never a fan of games and she always thought it interfered with our studies, but my dad was the one who got me into computer science and programming. I remember playing all these cool and obscure DOS games on these CDs, which were often full of things like 50+ shareware titles etc. Thats how I became acquainted with such classics as Doom, Duke Nukem 3D, Commander Keen, Shadow Warrior, Rise of the Triad, Xargon, Jill of the Jungle, and a host of other games usually by Apogee, Epic Games or Sierra. I still have fond memories of those games to this day. I think my favorites are still Rise of the Triad, Shadow Warrior, Traffic Department 2192 and Dark Sun shattered lands.

In elementary school, everyday after classes I would go to my childhood friend’s house and play Goldeneye 007 on his N64. That was the best multiplayer game at that time and we must’ve played 100s of hours worth of that game.

For video game consoles, my mom wouldn’t let me get one until I was in high school. In high school, I was allowed to have my own computer (Dell Inspiron 7500 laptop) as well as the original Xbox console. I played a lot of Gunbound and Ragnarok Online when I was in high school, almost to the point of becoming an MMORPG addict. I wouldn’t even play the game, I would just go online to chat with my online friends on there. That’s how I made a lot of friends back then, due to how shy I was in person.

On the Xbox, I would play Soul Calibur 2, Halo, Halo 2, and Call of Duty 3 with my friends. As well as GTA III and GTA Vice Citywhich was released on the Xbox a little later after the PS2 version as well as exclusives like Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic and Jade Empire. Back then, LAN parties were actually LAN parties because every game had split screen multiplayer. Halo 2 was definitely the game I played the most with my friends in high school.

In university, I would meet new friends at my computer science program, and they would often play fighting games like Super Smash Bros Melee and Street Fighter IV. I was never good at fighting games but I was pretty decent at Rock Band and Guitar Hero, which were all the rage back in those days. I would also go back to my hometown during holidays and play Halo 3 and Call of Duty 4 with my old high school friends. I would also play Magic Online a lot (those were the old days when Magic Online had the great 2 headed giant format.. I sorely miss it).

I would also bring games back home to play with my brother. In elementary school and high school we would play various obscure 2 player DOS games like Liero, Gladiator, The Ultimate TK, C-dogs, emulated games like DBZ Hyper Dimension, Final Fight 3, Super Double Dragon, Battletoads, Gunstar Heroes, Gundam Wing Endless Waltz, Metal Warriors for SNES, and Starcraft 2 Marine Arena and Rise of Legends together.

During university, I also had a modded Playstation 2 and modded Xbox 360. The reason being that I was poor in those days, and didn’t have enough money to buy games, so I just burned all my games and played them on modded consoles. Persona 3 and Timesplitters Future Perfect for PS2 and for Xbox 360 too many to remember.

After I graduated, I finally made more money, and bought the Playstation 3 and Playstation 4. Me and my good friend / coworker would play a lot games together, but usually basketball games, wrestling games or fighting games like NBA 2K or Marvel vs Capcom. On the PC, I would play Farcry 4 and Borderlands with my other friend as well. Some of those sessions are available on Youtube.

So thats my history with video games. Some of my favorite games are FPS or RPG games. I love Goldeneye 007, Halo 2, Duke Nukem 3D, Star Wars Battlefront 2 (the old one), Starcraft & Starcraft 2, Timesplitters, Persona series, Chrono Trigger (the best RPG ever still IMO), Knights of the Old Republic 2, Fallout series, Deus Ex series, Farcry series, Borderlands series, The Sims (I used to rec-create all my friends/classmates/coworkers) starting from Sims 2, Saints Row series, Liero, and Sleeping Dogs (a game I REALLY wish they would make a sequel to).

thoughts on Technology and Movie updates

I just realized I haven’t ranted about what I’ve been ranting to people in real life about for months so.. here goes

2016 Macbook Pro:
if its anything that proves that Apple has turned from a formerly innovative company to a company that just cares about making money here it is.
-$300 more than previous generation
-only 2 USBC ports on 13 inch, and 4 USBC ports on 15 inch. No HDMI, No SD, No USBA. I realize that USBC is way of the future but cmon.. at least be like other manufacturers and have a mix of both USBA and USBC! nope now we have to carry dongles for everything…
-no extension cable for adapter anymore
-no bootup sound anymore
-no glowing mac logo anymore
-no MagSafe anymore
-touchbar is a gimmick
-new butterfly keyboard still doesn’t feel good to type on

.. all this to make the Macbook Pro thinner. WHY? thats the goal of the consumer Macbook or Macbook AIR, not the Pro model! The Pro model is supposedly to have more ports and features and be for professionals.. as it is the new Macbook Pro is simply an upgraded Macbook Air Retina. The defense for the removal of the ports was that Apple has always been future forward “but they removed optical, floppy drive, etc’ here’s my rebuttal to that: In the case of floppy drives, it was replaced by optical media. Optical media in turn, was replaced by thumb drives + downloadable content. What is HDMI and SD replaced with? Well? Does your 4K TV come with a thunderbolt port? Does your DSLR come with a thunderbolt port? until then, there is no replacement for HDMI and SD. Which makes this move kind of baffling and definitely not something Steve would have done. I get that he had obscure connectors like mini-DVI or mini-VGA but never would he suddenly ditch all data transfer ports and video ports and combine them into a single port while *reducing* the number of total ports as well. This is all based on greed of course. Apple increased the prices of MacBook Pros by $300, took away things like the glowing logo, startup chime, and extra extension cables that you used to get in the box, and does not even provide a cable to connect your iPhone (nor does the iPhone provide any cables to connect to your MacBook Pro).

Let’s not mention that USBC is also a very confusing port, because not all USBC ports are created equal: There’s USBC ports for data only, USBC ports that support power delivery, USBC ports that support DisplayPort and USBC ports that are Thunderbolt 3. The latter is the most powerful and Apple has chosen to implement the latter on all their laptops which is great, but not all computer makers are like that. PC makers have generally mixed these up. My Alienware 15 for example, has a USBC port that is data only and another USBC port that is T3, on the same laptop. They look the exact same. Now that is confusing isn’t it?

Apple watch / Air Pods:
-Yeah Apple Watch and smartwatches in general still look stupid. But hey I’m a traditional watch geek so I’m conservative like that.. I don’t want to have more things to charge
-Air Pods look like Qtips and you couldn’t pay me enough to wear them

2017 iPhone X:
-first off, I still hate that Apple enlarged their phones with the iPhone 6 and got rid of the headphone jack in iPhone 7. So many things still require a 3.5mm connection for example DACs, audiophile headphones and old cars only have aux jack. You could lose the dongle when carrying it around, and bluetooth is still something else you have to pair and charge all the time. A hassle. And you can’t listen to music and charge at same time with the dongle.
-its $1k. I mean cmon.. Essential Phone, Razer Phone, Oneplus 5T, Samsung Galaxy S8, Google Pixel 2 / XL, those are all great options for way less
-Wireless charging is a gimmick. Its not really wireless. You just put it on a pad, which actually decreases the usability since you can’t use it while it’s charging.
-no TouchID. There’s no doubt that TouchID is faster and more convenient than Face unlock + swipe. One is one action the other is two.

New ThinkPads
I’m a huge ThinkPad fan so this one gets me as well. Lenovo announced in their 2018 CES the new X280 would be thinner, lighter, but also remove the PowerBridge feature, full size Ethernet port, and have soldered RAM. Basically its become a budget X1 Carbon now.

The ThinkPad line to most hardcore ThinkPad users, has been slowly dying off, in favor of becoming more and more like consumer laptops. The X220 is a great example. The pinnacle of old school robustness and design. Old school 7 row keyboard, tons of ports, etc. The X1 Carbon on the other hand (introduced in 2011) is a computer that seems like its meant for mainstream users than for business users, then ever since Lenovo has been slowly transitioning ThinkPads to be more and more mainstream. Gone is the old keyboard replaced by a new chiclet style with less travel. Gone is the ThinkLight. Gone is the VGA port. All to make the chassis thinner. Now with the X280 they removed the PowerBridge feature, made the RAM soldered instead of slotted, removed the 2.5″ slot for M.2 slot, removed full size Ethernet port for a dongle. I can’t see how many business users would actually be pleased by this, just to get a thinner and lighter laptop.

Ok so thats my tech gripes now onto the movies…

Star Wars The Last Jedi:
The one movie I really have to complain about this year is Star Wars Episode 8: The Last Jedi. This much anticipated movie got GREAT reviews from critics but polarizing reviews amongst fans. For me, I really didn’t like this movie. I liked the action and visuals and sounds those were all great, but the actual storyline and the way they treated the characters especially the ones from the original trilogy, really made me angry.

So first off, I don’t like Force Awakens either. I thought it was a poor rehash of a New Hope and I thought that Rey is a Mary Sue character who became too powerful too fast. I thought that Rogue One was a pretty decent movie in comparison.. very original plot and well executed.
Now Last Jedi is even worse than Force Awakens. It basically took a lot of pre-established points from the Force Awakens and threw them away. Also, the storyline is messy and incoherent. A lot of new characters introduced were just thrown away. Here are just a few grievances:

-Luke Skywalker fundamentally changes his character. The Luke that thought that Vader was redeemable somehow thought that his nephew Ben Solo was worth killing, if only for a moment.
-Luke dies a hermit instead of going out in a blaze of glory. I felt this was in poor taste and disrespectful to Luke.
-There’s no one on one lightsaber battles at all.
-Snoke and Rey are random beings who are randomly powerful without explanation. This makes even less sense when we consider how Rey was built up in the Force Awakens. Like how did Maz find Luke/Anakin’s lightsaber? Why did Rey get visions? Where’s the Knights of Ren? What about that vision of Rey’s parents flying away? makes no sense.
-Finn doesn’t know how to pilot in TFA but knows how to pilot just fine in TLJ
-Leia floats back to the ship and no one says a thing.
-Prank call at the beginning went on for too long.
-Rose falls in love with Finn in less than 12 hours. They both should have died when their speeders crashed. And the walkers should have killed them while they were making out.
-The codebreaker they were supposed to get is in a brief scene but never mentioned again.
-The replacement codebreaker is never seen or heard from again either.
-Captain phasma is useless.
-They went to canto bight to free some animals basically.
-Apparently gravity exists in space.
-Luke milks some space aliens for some reason.
-Luke throws away his dads lightsaber without even blinking.
-Luke never reacts to Hans death.
-Porgs are completely useless.
-Rey went down a dark hole and.. nothing happens.
-Kylo ren has a brief moment where he could become good but then goes back to bad again.
-Leia is never killed off even tho Carrie is dead.
-Admiral Ackbar dies off screen while a new character we see for 10 min gets sacrificed instead.

Those are just few grievances. This movie has all the action and cast but it doesn’t do the right things with them… thankfully I did watch a much better sci-fi sequel a month before (Blade Runner 2049) so not all my childhood scifi franchises were destroyed

Dragonball Super
DBS has so far proved to be underwhelming to me as a DBZ Fan. The animations are very childish and simple, it focuses too much on Goku and Vegeta, the power scaling is messed up, the transformations are lackluster (SSJ4 in GT > any DB Super transformation), and a lot of things don’t make sense (Trunks x Mai? Goku is reduced to an idiot outside of battles, Future Trunks hair is blue while kid trunks remains purple, etc). SSJ Rage is completely unexplained, as is Super Blue Vegeta / SSJB2 Vegeta and how Goku/Vegeta got SSJ Blue. Frieza becomes super powerful in just 4 months, as does Android 17 in 6 months. Stamina is apparently not an issue in the ToP for Goku/Vegeta since they keep regaining it back. Caulifla & co get super saiyan transformations like they’re nothing. Future Trunks pulls a spirit sword out of his ass. SSJ3 Gotenks was beaten by a copy of Base Vegeta, at one point.

I think its odd that Future Trunks got rage boosted in Super and Gohan never did. But lets face it – Z is a better anime than Super.
I dont think anyone is going to disagree with this. Out of DB, Z, Super and GT, the gold standard and what makes the Dragonball franchise so popular and helped make anime popular worldwide is DragonBall Z. And part of that reason is that Z was so good at focusing on various characters, not just Goku and Vegeta which is what Super was up until the ToP… until all the other universes dropped out, then its back to the Goku + Vegeta show again (at least Frieza keeps things interesting). In DBGT, At least Trunks and Pan got their moment.

In the Saiyan Saga, we got showings from Piccolo, Gohan, Krillin and even Yajirobe got his moment. In the Namek saga, Piccolo, Gohan, Krillin, Vegeta and Finally Goku again all had a turn against Frieza. The Cell arc is what really got interesting because probably for the first and last time ever, a character that was not Goku, was the most powerful character in the show. That was Gohan. To this day, I think SSJ2 Teen Gohan in the Cell Arc + Bojack Movie was the most badass character in all of Dragonball. He just didn’t give a F about anyone. He toyed around with Cell, kicked Cell Jrs in half, and punched his fist through Bojack. That was Gohan’s peak. I don’t think that Gohan is ever coming back.

In the Buu Saga, Goten + Trunks got their moment to shine with Gotenks, and of course Vegeta redeemed himself, all while saving the galaxy from Majin Buu. Gohan had his part in there too briefly until he got absorbed.

Super doesn’t come close to any of this. Except for Ultra Instinct I don’t think any of the other transformations really had the same impact as in Z. The focus is mainly on Vegeta and Goku. Gohan and the others get left behind. Goten+Trunks are completely forgotten about. I feel the same way about this anime as I do about Star Wars the Last Jedi: the visuals are exciting and the nostalgia kick is great, but it ruins my childhood in a lot of ways. I feel like they disrespected some of the characters that we grew up on. TLJ disrespected Luke Skywalker in the same way that Super disrespected Gohan. What I’m saying I guess is that I want more fan service. I don’t want my character kicked to the curb like a weakling.. but I guess childhood nostalgia can only last for so long…

Video Games
Video games have just gotten worse and worse over the years. Back in the day, we just had to pay for one game, ONE time and that was it. We could play with a friend using LAN, local multiplayer, just set up an ad-hoc network and go. Or we can play hotseat or split screen. Expansions only came when they were necessary, like in Doom II or Diablo II or Starcraft. And they were great expansions. And there was always a great single player mode in there too. Doom, Duke Nukem 3D, Goldeneye 007, Rise of the Triad, Quake III, Unreal Tournament, Halo 2, these are all great games I played with my friends.

Now these days, all video game companies can think about, is profit. They sell you a half baked game, sometimes with no single player at all (see: Star Wars Battlefront), and sell you season passes because they already planned out the DLC. There’s usually no co-op or LAN support at all, and you have to get your friend to buy the same game (or if they are on console, buy the same game, same console + sign up for Xbox live or PS Plus), and then connect over the laggy network and jump through a lot of hoops to play with them. And even then, the gameplay is still limited by the fact that they try to sell you DLC and Microtransactions else you are at a disadvantage. No better example than the new Star Wars Battlefront 2 and Destiny 2 games. Even The Sims 4, which was a great video game franchise, has gone all downhill selling you ‘stuff’ packs every chance they get. Its ridiculous, and unfortunately the days of good old video games you can just play on a couch with your friend over is gone.

Let’s talk watches

So, a lot of people might know me as the guy who geeks out about laptops, computers, electronics, guitars and such. But some people might not know that I’m also a geek about watches as well. I’ve always liked mechanical watches, in particular, because I’m at heart an engineer and the engineering that goes into something so small and precise is quite fascinating.

I like established Swiss and Japanese brands of course, but I care more about the style of the watch itself. I don’t like sporty looking watches, or chronographs, or watches with too much going on in them. Some complications I do like are date (a must have IMO), day (nice to have), moonphase (looks cool and nice to have), heartbeat (looks cool and nice to have), dual time zone functionality (useful for travelers), tourbillion (useless but looks very cool). I think those are all great looking or useful complications.

After doing a lot of research I can separate different watch brands into the following tiers:

Really cheap (<$100)
Timex
Casio
Swatch

Mainstream / Affordable ($100-$1000)
Seiko
Citizen
Bulova
Orient

Entry level luxury ($1000-$5000)
Longines
Tag Heur
Frederique Constant
Oris
Grand Seiko
Raymond Weil
Bremont
Hamilton
Ulysse Nardin
Sinn
Maurice Lacroix
Montblanc
Tissot
Tudor

Mid level luxury ($5000-$50k)
Rolex
Omega
Cartier
Breitling
Hublot
Jaeger LeCoultre
Girard Perregaux
Piaget
IWC
Panerai

High level luxury ($50k+)
Patek Phillipe
Vacheron Constantin
Audermars Piguet
Breguet
Blancpain
A lange & Sohne

So because I am not the type of guy to buy something *super* expensive (my dream car actually is only a Genesis G80 which is entry level luxury car), the watches that I go for are also just ‘entry level’ luxury brands.

My previous daily driver dress watch was an affordable Orient Sun and Moon ($300~)

Orient Sun and Moon
Orient Sun and Moon

It was a solid mechanical watch, and Orient is well known for making really good value mechanical watches for the price, and also producing their own movements in house which is impressive.

However, since I just recently got myself a couple ring for my girlfriend (>$1k), I thought it appropriate to up the watches that I wore as well. I went for two luxury watches this time, because both of these watches serve different purposes. My budget was $5k for both watches put together. I liked watches with ‘simple’ looking complications and having a very clean style. After doing a lot of research I settled on these two:

Oris Greenwich Mean Time
Oris Greenwich Mean Time

The Oris Limited Edition Greenwich Meantime ($2000) is a nice watch to use both as a daily driver sporty looking watch, and as a travel watch. I especially liked the subdial showing a second time zone. Since I travel between Korea/Canada/US very often its useful to have this feature. Also note the steel bracelet and date window and power reserve complication here. Oris makes great quality mechanical watches so this is the one I picked.

Frederique Constant Classic Moonphase
Frederique Constant Classic Moonphase

The second watch I picked as a dress watch, is the Frederique Constant Classic Moonphase ($2700). This one was more expensive due to the watch being an in house movement by FC themselves. I looked at a bunch of other cheaper options but I just couldn’t get over how beautiful this watch was. Rose gold plating (I know, not real rose gold but cmon look at the price), beautiful subdial for the date, moonphase complication and alligator strap just won me over. FC are also known for making great value mechanical watches especially when they use their own in house movements and not outsourced ETA movements.

So yeah my total cost came to $4700, which was just under my $5k budget. I know this seems pretty expensive still but I think of it this way – a good quality mechanical swiss watch can actually last several lifetimes. I can pass it down to my kids in the future. When you think about how much I spent on electronics, laptops and guitars, then $4700 doesn’t actually seem as much as you think. Anyways, I’m happy with these two watches and hopefully they will last me many years to come.