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I needed to replace the headphone jack on the Nokia Lumia 521 I use as a portable media player, so I decided to record myself doing it in case seeing the process could help someone else. Thankfully, it’s a quick, cheap, and easy repair; that being said, don’t look at me if your phone implodes when attempting this fix. ¬_¬

The music used in the video is “Gramatik – Guitar Madness” from the album “Coffee Shop Selection,” which you can find by clicking here.

My Thinkpad T400 had a good long run, but it finally had to be retired due to a hardware failure that wouldn’t have been very cost effective to repair. That system was certainly showing its age, but it was still usable for day-to-day tasks, albeit a bit sluggishly depending on what you were doing. After it died there was a period of a few months where my mobile computing was limited to what I could do on my phone or tablet, toward the end of which I was given an older single-core laptop to act as a stop-gap. Using a single core system with 3GB of memory in late-2016 isn’t ideal to say the least, and while it was frustrating to use I was no less appreciative of having something to hold me over until I could find a suitable replacement.

Now, I’m not exactly swimming around in a Scrooge McDuck money vault over here—my budget for a laptop is around the $350 mark, which leaves me with precious few options that meet my needs. After a bit of research I decided that the Asus F555LA-AB31 would be my best bet, being one of the only systems in my price range that meet nearly all of my needs, one of the most important and hardest to find being a 1080p display. A combination of procrastination and financial constraints led to me putting off the purchase for a while until a better option eventually showed up.

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I’ve had an interest in photography for several years which has thus far been a hobby that I seldom indulge in; I wouldn’t count out the possibility of eventually trying to do it professionally, but I don’t necessarily have any significant aspirations of doing so at this time. My primary reason for not engaging in the hobby more often than I have is laziness, but the equipment I’ve had at my disposal has also been a factor.

Taken with a MotoG with some adjustments made afterward (color, contrast, vignetting).

Taken with a Moto G.

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Here’s a collection of videos from some of the games shown at this years E3 which have caught my interest.

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The Deus Ex Bible

Something worth checking out for fans of the series who may not already be aware of it: The Deus Ex Bible. It may not be entirely relevant to the series as it is today, but it’s interesting nonetheless. I’m sure the people currently responsible for the continuation of the Deus Ex universe have read the original design docs or at least independently gathered what information is publicly available from various sources to draw from to some extent.

This document is intended to summarize the key backstory information behind the Deus Ex universe. It is comprised mostly of excerpts from the design documents of Deus Ex 1, with a few additions and modifications for the sake of maintaining consistency with the final game. The hope is that the amount of information will be helpful without being overwhelming.

Be aware that much of the backstory detailed below never made it into the final game. Some of the events described were intended to be missions (Texas, the space station, moon base, Mt. Weather; etc.), and a lot of that content either doesn’t appear in Deus Ex or does so in glancing, fragmentary ways.

What that means is that the related pieces of backstory should be considered truthful and should be supported whenever possible but not necessarily with religious fervor. It would be perfectly valid to re-imagine what’s really going on at the “moon base,” for instance.

This document was also used for the foundation of Deus Ex: The Conspiracy for the PS2, and will probably be used in some fashion forDeus Ex 2 to maintain continuity.

I figure my neglected blog could use some sort of new content, so why not post my impressions of the Thief reboot? I got this as part of the second Humble Square Enix Bundle that was available not too ago and skulked my way through it over the course of a week. I won’t go into much detail because this post is just supposed to be a brief overview of the impression the game left me with rather than a proper review, and also because nothing about it was memorable enough for me to go into much detail a couple of weeks after the fact.

Thief (2014) Screenshot

Before I get to what I didn’t like, I suppose I should get to what I thought was alright about this reboot. Visually speaking, it sports a solid look—from the environments to the characters, lighting, shadows, and art style. That’s not to say that it holds up in every regard visually; a lot of people don’t like Garrett’s redesign with a common complaint being his black eye liner making him look “emo,” but it’s not that hard to overlook if you don’t get caught up on it and you could even come to view it as something that makes sense given his chosen profession. The change of voice actor also didn’t really bother me, which is another hangup some people have when comparing it to its predecessors—other voices are either good or mediocre.

Of course, the audiovisual side of things is less important than the gameplay, and in that regard I found Thief to be underwhelming but (mostly) competent–from the mission design, to the sneaking mechanics, pacing, level design, etc. Unfortunately, a lot of what’s good about the game gets bogged down by various annoyances which include:

— Lots of repetitive forced animations. Grabbing loot, opening drawers and cabinets (many of which are empty and just waste your time), opening windows, enemy takedowns, etc. There’s also a long animation of Garrett moving a wooden beam out of his way that they reuse way too many times—sometimes they want you to mash X to move it and sometimes they don’t, although unlike the windows (more on those below) these are always used to section off map areas within a map or serve as a transition to a new area.

— There’s no indication as to whether or not a window leads to a lootable room within the map you’re in, or if it’s a transition to another area until after you’ve already initiated the animation; if you get the prompt to tap X it’s a lootable room, if you don’t it’s a map transition.

— I don’t believe the glow on rooms that strictly serve as loot locations goes away after you’ve cleared them and left, so you might end up going back into an empty room at some point if you don’t remember all of the places you’ve been.

— Somewhat clunky, limited movement. The context sensitive run/jump/mantle function screws up sometimes. There are areas you should be able to get to but can’t because the rope arrows only work at specific points. I understand the need to keep you caged to some extent, but there were times where I felt my options where limited when they shouldn’t have been.

— Cutscene direction and dialog was a bit stilted, the story felt like it wasn’t fully realized and the ending was kind of a mess. The only thing notable about the “Thief-taker General” is his massive bald spot and his penchant for being a douche, other than that he was just a one-dimensional filler character that never amounted to much and got too much screen time.

— Awful audio mixing; sounds cut off abruptly instead of fading in and out and there are inconsistencies in how loud some sounds are compared to others.

—I understand it’s a reboot and they want to do their own thing, but I wish they had kept the Order of the Hammer in as a prominent backstory element. They only ever really indirectly refer to the Hammerites when they reference “The Old Gods” and with the brief appearance of the hammer symbolism in a specific area later in the game, outside of that it’s pretty much been taken out of the lore.

— Lastly, and perhaps most egregiously; the guards don’t indiscriminately call people taffers.

I don’t have much attachment to the original games but this one still managed to disappoint me in various ways; however, with all that being said I didn’t necessarily dislike it, it just has some glaring faults and questionable design decisions which left me feeling like it was largely wasted potential—unfinished and average in nearly every way.

The tracks featured in this installment have a chill sound to them and incorporate elements from genres such as jazz and hip-hop.

Note: I usually try to link to videos on official YouTube channels to minimize the chance that they’ll be removed in the future, but unfortunately that’s not the case this time around.

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Today’s theme is electronic music with what I guess you’d call a “dark” or “moody” sound. This post only exists because I’m bored and doing this is more productive than staring at my ceiling fan, so I can’t be arsed to write a proper intro—deal with it.

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While I was born in the 80’s, it was too late for me to be a child of that decade—not that I’m lamenting that fact, mind you. Despite appreciating its weird obsession with dystopian futures (which I figure was influenced by a global recession, the cold war, and cocaine) I consider the 80’s largely awful; it’s synonymous with bad hair, bad clothes, and bad synths. How odd it is, then, that I’ve found myself developing a liking to some music which aims to emulate the sound of the 80’s.

If what I’ve embedded below strikes your fancy here are a few good places to discover more of this nonsense: LuigiDonatelloNewRetroWave, and Maniac Synth.

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The Things

This is somewhat old, but I just stumbled upon it recently and I’m sure I’m not the only one who wasn’t aware of it before. It’s called “The Things” and it’s a short story written by author Peter Watts which takes place from the perspective of the alien entity in “The Thing”. The entity perceives everything in the context of a creature that experiences life as a single unified being and its thoughts are all structured as if it’s a world unto itself. It talks about being separated from and rejoining parts of itself, talking about how it has assimilated parts from other worlds before becoming stranded on earth, not knowing how long it had been in its frozen slumber on our planet and whether or not parts of itself are still alive elsewhere in the universe. The entity also expresses confusion at the concept of individuality, later showing discomfort toward it and pity toward those whose existence the entity feels is limited by it. I thought it was an interesting take on the events of the film, attaching a consciousness to the alien makes it a little more unsettling than when it’s nothing more than mindless space monster.

You can read the original text version here, but there’s also a reading of it available on YouTube which has background music added to it that I thought was neat (Part 1 & Part 2).