Planning Your PC Build

Building a PC is simple. Figuring out what you want to build is harder. I’ve written dozens of articles about building PCs. In many, I’ve included comforting aphorisms such as “set a budget and stick to it”. The most common one, though, is “understand your needs”. What does “understand your needs” really mean, though? Consider the idea of a PC for a moment: a general purpose computing device, suitable for a large array of compute tasks. These range from simple, […]

Book Review: The Hanged Man

Imagine a fictional world combining elements of Jane Austen in an alternate history where Queen Victoria gives England female emancipation in the 1850s with a few steampunk tropes, a little Holmesian detective work, a touch of urban fantasy, and over-the-top pulp novel action. Author P.N. Elrod imagined just that in her novel The Hanged Man. Combining these disparate styles mostly works, though jarring transitions sometimes occur. Rollicking action becomes superseded quickly by Austen-like comedy of manners, so you need to just […]

Headphones And Me

The madness started in college, as it often does. I’d gotten into my head that I wanted to learn a bit more about classical music. I’d pretty much ignored the genre until the start of my third decade, so figured it was time to learn a little more. The music library at Western Washington University offered a pretty good selection of 33RPM recordings, along with individual cubicles with headphones for listening. I started with Beethoveen’s 6th symphony, because of course. […]

Podcast: Games, Abstractions, and Players

As Game Developer Conference approaches, I began thinking about how games are made, and how players approach games differently. For example, I came across this description of a game being played: Imagine exploring space, colonizing planets, setting up trade routes. This game is so immersive, you feel like you really are setting up your own empire — unnamed commentator He’s talking about this: The game is Roll for the Galaxy. It’s actually a pretty good game, but the main mechanics […]

These Are My People, Not Characters

How attached do you get to your game characters? I’m speaking specifically about games which allow you to customize your characters, not about characters with predetermined names and histories (sorry, Lara Croft). That most often means RPGs, though I’ve recently become pretty attached to my XCOM2 team. I often don’t see game characters as somehow being me translated to a game character, but rather as people good at what they do. I send them out on vital, dangerous missions, and they usually […]

Can AMD Stay In The Game?

You have to give AMD credit for persistence. The company’s stock price is in the tank, at under $2 per share. Total revenue for calendar year 2015 came in at under $4 billion, a pretty big drop over 2014. Yet AMD continues to motor along, recently announcing its next generation Polaris GPU architecture and working diligently to bring its Zen processor by the end of the year. What about today? If you’re in the market for a new gaming PC, […]

The Bicycles In My Life: Felt Z5

The Giant OCR1 that got me back into serious cycling eventually became a chore to ride. The aluminum frame transmitted a lot of road chatter, which translated to sore muscles and stiff bones after long rides. I’m not, after all, getting younger. So I began looking for bicycles with more forgiving rides. Initially, I believed I wanted a steel frame bike, partly for nostalgic reasons, but good quality steel tubing from companies such as Reynolds and Columbus offer more forgiving […]

The Nerd in the Balloon Jacket

Long before Microsoft existed, the fields and woods around Redmond, Washington consisted of dark forests, creeks, and the occasional swamp. I know because I spent a number of weekends during high school with my then best friend, Ward Durham, trekking through those woods and swamps in an attempt to find tiny wooden markers using only a map and compass. We made it by the skin of our teeth, finding or stumbling across all the target markers. Along the way, we […]