As I recounted previously, I decided to replace my Asus touchscreen Ultrabook (4/128 SSD, 13" screen, Windows 8.1) and Apple iPad 2 (64GB) with a Microsoft Surface Pro 2 (8/256 SSD) and Type Cover 2. My thinking was that the Surface Pro 2 would effectively replace both devices in my man bag. Yes, there would be some concessions here and there, like a smaller screen (~10") than the Asus (which my youngest daughter now uses) and a weak app selection in comparison to the iPad 2 (which now sits on a dock on my nightstand), but ultimately, the increase in portability (a lighter bag!) and convenience of a single device outweighed the negatives.
While I used my iPad 2 for many things, my favorite function was as an e-reader. Since the iPad 2 does not have a retina display, it sometimes required me to zoom in a bit for certain types of reading material not optimized to the screen size (I'm looking at you, UK's Retro Gamer Magazine). Overall, though, it was a great reading experience for me and I've spent countless enjoyable hours in the Kindle app. It was also great to read at the gym when I was doing cardio (which I find dreadfully boring) after weight training (which I adore).
Naturally, the Surface Pro 2 would need to replicate the functionality of the iPad 2 for reading purposes, with the added bonus of its 1080p widescreen allowing for sharper text, which would hopefully translate into no longer needing to zoom in on very small details. Overall, the Surface Pro 2 performed well for me in this regard, though there were some quirks. For one, the iPad 2's screen is a 4:3, square-ish ratio, while the Surface Pro 2's is a 16:9, rectangular ratio. That basically means that the iPad 2 is more enjoyable in portrait mode (like a normal book), while the Surface Pro 2 feels a bit awkward (overly tall) in portrait mode (like all large, 16:9 tablets, really), making the Surface Pro 2's ideal reading mode landscape. Now, this was something I resisted on the iPad 2 because of the lower resolution and screen ratio, but it turns out that landscape (multiple columns) is actually a quite enjoyable way to read when you're doing it on the right device. Of course, I still sometimes read in portrait mode on the Surface Pro 2 - like at the gym - because that's what fits best on the various cardio machine holders with the Type Cover 2 attached (I'd rather not detach it and leave it on the gym floor) - and it's just fine like that, but, oddly enough, I think I now prefer reading in landscape. We'll see how that evolves going forward.
Just when I said I wasn't going to regularly post about the amazing Humble Bundles, where you pay what you want for great games and can divvy the proceeds between various charities and the publishers, came word just now about the Humble WB Games Bundle. So much for that! Now it's pay what you want for Batman: Arkham Asylum Game of the Year Edition, F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin, F.E.A.R. 3, and The Lord of the Rings: War in the North. Beat the average price (presently at $6), and you’ll also unlock Batman: Arkham City Game of the Year Edition and Scribblenauts Unlimited. All games are available on Steam for Windows, while Arkham City is also available on the Macintosh. Check it out here!
While we don't always promote the Humble Bundles due to their increasing frequency (and the fact that you should already be on their list!), we just couldn't resist passing along the info on the latest Humble Weekly sale, which features a whopping 10 of Team 17's games in the popular Alien Breed and Worms series. Pay less than $6 and get access to six of the games, or pay $6 or more and get access to all the games, each of which is accessible from Steam. As always, you can set how the money is distributed between all parties involved, including some very cool charities. Most of these games are exclusively for Windows, but a few of the games are also available on Macintosh and Linux. In any case, this is a great way to gain access to some amazingly fun games for very little money. If you haven't been following either series since they got their start back in the Commodore Amiga days, you'll be in for a real treat. Check it all out here.
Episode 7 of Randy Kindig's Floppy Days Vintage Computing Podcast, entitled, Vintage Computer Festival Midwest 8.0, gives shout-outs to two of the upcoming books I've co-authored, CoCo: The Colorful History of Tandy's Underdog Computer and Vintage Game Consoles: An Inside Look at Apple, Atari, Commodore, Nintendo, and the Greatest Gaming Platforms of All Time. Though Kindig understandably butchers both my (it's actually pronounced "Low-joo-diss") and Boisy Pitre's last names (it's actually pronounced "Pete"), the mention at - approximately the 17:58 mark - is much appreciated. Kindig should also be receiving review copies of both books for future episodes of his podcast, which is a regular listen for me. Check out the episode here.
In preparation for working on our upcoming My Xbox One book, Christina and I thought it would be a good idea to check out Microsoft's Xbox One console prior to its official November release. Thanks to the One Tour, we had our chance today in Philadelphia through an Area One party. Basically, what this meant was that we had to pick one of the three hour blocks of time, wait in line, and hope we could get in to experience "live music, live gameplay, and more..." Naturally, we were most interested in the live gameplay part.
Once inside the large warehouse area, we were treated to our choice of multiple game areas where we could sit or stand and play some of the Xbox One launch and launch window titles, which included: Crimson Dragon, Dead Rising 3, Forza Motorsport 5, Killer Instinct, LocoCycle, Ryse: Sone of Rome, Max: The Curse of the Brotherhood, Zoo Tycoon, and Kinect Sports: Rivals.
Considering the amazing number of devices most of us have access to these days, including smartphones, tablets, consoles, set top boxes, and computers, I'd be curious to know how everyone goes about playing. Do you stick to a handful of devices (and if so, which ones) or do you like to sample from everything that you own? What if you're like me and also have a collection of vintage platforms to choose from as well? There's a point where you have "option paralysis," of course, where you have so many gaming options to choose from that you tend not to play much of anything. Have you reached that point?
As for me, I find my habits fluctuate greatly. One week I might be on a vintage platform kick, while another I might exclusively game on my tablet or PC, while another still I might pick a recent console. Other times I want to play multiple things on multiple systems and end up not being able to choose or be limited by real world demands on my time (or energy), despite my enthusiasm otherwise. I suspect this will get worse as the two latest consoles get released this November and interest in the previous generation of systems wanes and we have to start making decisions about what to do with these now "legacy" consoles. Of course, that's to say nothing of things like low cost Android devices and even the upcoming "Steam Box," which will add further options (and confusion) to the mix. All these choices are truly both exciting and overwhelming.
So, what's YOUR plan of action?
As an unapologetic technophile, I naturally crave the latest and greatest technology. However, somewhat stifling those cravings are the reality of the high costs of new technology, available space, and the needs of my present workflow. In other words, even though I spend a disproportionate amount of my money on technology, my purchases must still be carefully considered for a variety of reasons.
While I have a demanding day job as a Technical Writer, I'm also a professional author and journalist, which requires a certain amount of portability if I don't wish to be chained to a desk for 12 - 16 hours a day. This portability is particularly important to me as I always try to make a point of balancing my working life with my personal (especially family) life.
I'm thrilled to officially announce that another one of my new books, Vintage Game Consoles: An Inside Look at Apple, Atari, Commodore, Nintendo, and the Greatest Gaming Platforms of All Time, written with Matt Barton, is now available for pre-order from booksellers everywhere, including Wal-Mart, Barnes & Noble, and of course, the publisher's (Taylor & Francis/Focal Press) Website. As always, my personal favorite place is Amazon, where you can buy it at a nice discount from the full retail price, plus, if the price drops upon the book's publication sometime in February/March 2014, you get it for the lower price. Of course, you don't get charged until it actually ships.
What Vintage Games: An Insider Look at the History of Grand Theft Auto, Super Mario, and the Most Influential Games of All Time, did before it for software, Vintage Game Consoles, does it now for hardware platforms, covering 20 of the greatest game playing computers, consoles, and handhelds of all-time. This full color paperback and ebook is packed to the gills with well over 400 pages of content and 400 images. Nathan Strum's amazing cover art, inspired by legendary magazine, Electronic Games (the first I ever bought myself as a child and incredibly influential to my future path in life), rounds out the package.
Also in early 2014, be sure to look out for My Xbox One, written with Christina Loguidice (the follow-up to My Xbox: Xbox 360, Kinect, and Xbox LIVE), and of course, published this holiday season, CoCo: The Colorful History of Tandy's Underdog Computer, written with Boisy Pitre.
I'm happy to officially announce that my next book, CoCo: The Colorful History of Tandy's Underdog Computer, written with Boisy Pitre, is now available for pre-order from booksellers everywhere, including Wal-Mart, Barnes & Noble, and of course, the publisher's (Taylor & Francis/CRC Press) Website. My personal favorite place is Amazon, where you can buy it at a nice discount from the full retail price, plus, if the price drops upon the book's publication sometime in November, you get it for the lower price. Of course, you don't get charged until it actually ships.
What's nice about the book (available in both paperback and ebook versions) is that this is the first time the story of Tandy's Color Computer - affectionately dubbed "CoCo" - will be told in this manner. The first version of the computer debuted on July 31, 1980, and it and its successors were staples in Radio Shack stores into the 1990s. While never the most popular computer series, the ubiquity of Radio Shack's stores, catalogs, and overall advertising meant that it was impossible to ignore, even if systems like the Apple II, Commodore 64, and IBM PC garnered all the headlines. Thanks to extensive interviews with most of the principles involved in the computer's creation, community, and support, you'll have a definitive first-hand account of how the computer series came to be, from an extensive pre-history right through to what's going on today, where a small, but enthusiastic cadre of fans still enjoy working with the systems. In short, you get to learn about the "soul" of this underdog computer series, including all the business decisions that went into its creation, all the personalities both directly and indirectly involved in its support, and some of the herculean efforts needed to keep the platform alive.
Finally, for those not interested in pre-ordering, I'll be sure to post again once the book is actually ready to ship. As always, I greatly appreciate the support.