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johnsteed7 Blog

Relaxation

One of our directors called me into her office yesterday and started telling me about some projects she wanted me to work on in the near future. I was then able to use the line I've wanted to say for a lone time, "I'm not going to be in the office next week".

After spending the last month being buried with work, I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. I should get home at around 6pm tonight. Then my vacation officially begins. And it's my favorite kind of vacation. The kind of vacation I haven't been able to pull off in years. I will spend all of next week at home, not having to suffer through a single second of human contact.

Thinking ahead, I went to the grocery store last night and picked up several weeks worth of food. I just finished washing all my clothes so I won't have to endure another trip to the laundry room during my vacation. I think I have all my bases covered. Nothing left to do now but look forward to nine glorious days by myself.

Book Plug

A good friend of mine just got his first novel published. It's available for purchase here and here.

I've read an early draft of the book. If you're a fan of science fiction, or just looking for a fun weekend read, I don't think you'll be disappointed.

And in the unlikely event that you don't enjoy the book, the author reads this blog.... so you can belittle him in the comments! It's win/win!

If you want more information, here's a less biased review and a trailer for the book.

Revelry

At an early stop during my trip to work this morning a group of teenagers boarded the train. That's not something you'd normally see among all the businessmen heading into the city on weekday mornings, but I didn't give it much thought at first. But after finding their seats, these teenagers made sure it was impossible not to notice their presence by talking at a ridiculously loud volume, laughing, cheering, and generally making asses of themselves. Every few minutes someone would tell them to shut up, they'd keep quite for about fifteen seconds, and then they'd pick up where they left off, as if they'd forgotten why they were being quite all the sudden. This cycle repeated itself for the entire trip.

When we got near Grand Central Terminal I moved to the next train car before getting off. I noticed that this car also had a group of teenagers in it. Something was definitely odd here.

Inside Grand Central, I was walking near a large group of people that seemed to be standing around for no real reason when the group spotted two people walking by wearing NY Giants jerseys. The group blurted out "AYE!!!!" and got a "AYE!!!" in response. The acoustics in Grand Central Terminal are really good. I'm sure the whole block heard the screaming.

As I headed toward the exit close behind the two Giant fans the scene repeated itself with a different group of people. My ears were assaulted with cries of "AYE!!" followed by "YEAH!!!!", "Woooo!", and other nonsensical cheers. That's when it hit me. The NY Giants' victory parade was scheduled for today. Every degenerate sports fan in the area must have cut school or called in sick at work to attend. It was then that two things occurred to me.

1) My walk to the office is going to be even more grueling than usual.

2) The next time a local sports team wins a championship, I need to remember to take the next few days off.

Dodging a Bullet

There is a limit to the number of days I can spend at work before I need a long break. After awhile, the train ride into that vile cesspool known as New York City starts to get harder and harder to sit through. I start feeling nauseous. My shoulders begin to droop lower and lower each day. I have a hard time concentrating; likely my brain's defense mechanism for dealing with the horrors inflicted upon it while I'm at work. These are the signs that I need a vacation.

I have plenty of vacation days stored up, so I look through my calendar and pick a week in the middle of March. Shorty after I put through the vacation request, my boss approves it.

About two hours later, I get a meeting request. All of our top finance people have scheduled an entire morning for one of those "getting to know you" meetings where attendees discuss their various job responsibilities and how we can better work together as an agency. I'm one of the lucky people who's has been invited.

After letting out a deep sigh and resigning myself to a morning of terminal boredom, I check the date of the meeting. It's scheduled for the week that I just took off.

That may very well have been the first time I've ever smiled while at work.

The War On Used Games

I've always found game developer's attitude toward the sale of used video games insulting. They hate the fact that the law says we own the video game we legally purchase, and can do whatever we want with those games. I have every right to loan a DVD, book, or anything else that I own to friend. I have every right to sell anything I own if I no longer want it. But the people that make video games think this rule shouldn't apply to their product. They think the hard earned cash you give up to play their games doesn't mean you own that game. They want their video games to be tied to only the person who bought it, so it's impossible for a game to be lent or sold. That kind of thinking shows a lack of respect for their paying customers that, as a life long gamer, I find hard to stomach.

Recently, video game companies have enforced this philosophy via the "online pass" scheme, forcing customers to waste their time entering a special code to unlock the right to play all the content that they legally purchased. Instead of thanking the people that are keeping them employed, game developers are inconveniencing them thanks to their misguided belief in the evils of used game sales.

If the rumors are true, Microsoft's next game console will take this horrible practice a step further by making the entirety of every game only playable on the console you own. Microsoft would be effectively treating people who want to bring their legally owned games over to a friend's house as a criminal. So far it's only a rumor, but in this current anti-used games climate, that rumor is very believable.

If that rumor does turn out to be true, then the Xbox 360 will very likely be my last Microsoft created video game console. I just can't see myself paying for a product that is showing its costumers such contempt.

Resolution Fail

I got a lot of video games for Christmas. Adding them to my already impressive backlog has made me take yet another hard look at my game purchasing habits. So I've decided to take another stab at seriously reducing my "to do" pile of games before making any more video game purchases. Looking at the release schedule for the first 6 months of the year, that seems doable. I've already pre-ordered Xenoblade Chronicles, because I get the impression the North American version will be in limited supply, and Mass Effect 3, because it's the third Mass Effect game. Other than those games, I don't see anything scheduled for release that I feel I have to buy right away. So it shouldn't be too hard to halt my new game purchases while I chip away at my backlog over the next several months.


At least that's what I thought until Destructoid pointed me toward this great sale on Rayman Origins. It's only $20, with free shipping! I'd be a fool to pass that up, right?

But seriously, starting tomorrow, no new game purchases. I mean it this time.

Reading Dates Is Not Hard

One of the most common help desk tickets I see are requests to change the dates on patient visits entered in our system. The request will usually go something like this: "I saw 3 patients on 12/10, but the visits are dated 12/5. Please move visits to the correct date".

It's never only one visit, it's always several. And the visits always have signed documentation attached to them, meaning it is impossible for staff to change those visits in any way. The best explanation for this phenomenon that I have gotten is that the staff entering the visits are not very computer literate. How computer literate does someone have to be to try and enter documentation for 12/10, see the date 12/5 on that documentation, and realize that the date you've entered is not correct? I think I could have handled that task by age 7.

I recently had someone request that I change the date on 4 visits and then a week later send me a different request to change the date on TWELVE more visits. This means that a week after being lectured to pay attention to the visit date when documenting she proceeded to create a visit on the wrong date, write paragraphs of documentation on a patient, sign the documentation without proofreading it, and then repeat that process ELEVEN MORE TIMES before finally deciding to look at her work and notice she screwed up.

Have you ever signed an important document, like a contract or mortgage? Did you look it over before or after you sign it? If you answered "after", congratulations! You very likely could get a job at the company I work for.

But my favorite help desk tickets are the ones from people complaining that they entered a bunch of visits and now those visits are gone. Obviously something is wrong my computer! It's erased all of my work! You need to fix this!! Every single one of these cases ends with me finding out that they're looking for their visits on the date they thought they entered them for, as opposed to actual date on the visits.

As frustrating as it is that staff routinely make mistakes on something you learn in grade school, I can at least understand the reason why these mistakes are never caught in time. After all, why take a minute or two to double check your work when you can have some IT guy waste hours of his life paying for your mistake?

Let That Be My Last Battlefield

I enjoyed the Battlefield: Bad Company games. The lighthearted tone of their stories and their focus on destructible environments really helped those games stand out from all the other military shooters out there. Being starved for a good FPS, I didn't hesitate to pick up Battlefield 3 when it came out. This purchase helped remind me of an important game buying philosophy that I once knew, but that amazon.com pre-order sales and bonuses had helped me forget; always wait for the reviews.

The destructible environments of the Bad Company games have been completely removed from Battlefield 3's campaign. Instead we get linear, scripted missions that are trying desperately to be Call of Duty. There's a reason I gave up on the Call of Duty series some time ago. The campaign is really short, which in most cases would be a bad thing, but by the end of Battlefield 3 I was so bored I was glad it was over.

This left only one way for me to get any kind of enjoyment out of the game…. the multiplayer. The Battlefield series contains are some of the few… heck, maybe even the only…. games where I can actually tolerate the online multiplayer. Their focus on vehicles and support classes help alleviate the monotony inherent in so many competitive multiplayer games. There's a lot of variety in Battlefield 3's multiplayer, and you can tell this was the main focus of the developers. But at the end of the day, it's still multiplayer. So, while me being able to play it at all is a major achievement, I can still only stomach it for so long. I got a few achievements, played some games with wavey_gravey and Gen_Warbuff, but I think I've reached the point where I just can't take it anymore. I'm done with Battlefield 3, and I'm likely done with the whole Battlefield series. I'll just have to add it to the growing list of video game franchises that no longer care about appealing to single player gamers like me.

On the bright side, I have a Zelda game that I'm playing instead. Skyward Sword was the clear favorite in my poll from last blog, so I started it yesterday. So far, so good.

Zelda vs. Skyrim. Fight!

My Christmas vacation is coming up, which means it's time for me to start a nice, long adventure/RPG that I can sink dozens of hours in. Fortunately, I recently acquired two, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (a birthday present) and The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword (my birthday present to myself)

But I'm not really sure which one should win the coveted title of Christmas vacation game. Everything I've read says they're both great games, and either one is long enough to take me well into the new year. I just can't decide!

Does anyone who's played either game have a suggestion? Help decide the fate of my future leisure time by posting in the comments.

Too Many Changes

After my computer crashed yet again last week, I decided to break down any finally buy a new one. So now I can experience the joys of Windows 7.

I can't find any way to organize my files by anything other than name. It used to be simple for me to sort any folder by date created, last date modified, file type, etc. But Windows 7 either doesn't let me do that or has hidden that option so well that I can't find it. I thought updates were supposed to add features, not take them away.

My new computer comes with Windows Live Mail as its email program. It's... okay. But things I use often, like the "send" button, aren't where I'm used to finding them. The first few days of using this thing I found myself clicking on "paste" and then wondering why my email wasn't being sent way too often. Do people paste things in emails so often that that command needs to be the largest button in the entire email window?

I have the same problem with the recent Xbox Live dashboard update. There's nothing really wrong with it, I'm just used to finding things in places where they aren't anymore. I'm old and inflexible Microsoft! Think of me next time you decide to update something!