Thursday, April 28, 2016

Login screens need to move forward.


Whether it's 5 minutes to kill or the last 2 minutes until nuclear meltdown, we've all been stonewalled by logins. Everything requires an account now, and some these are completely useless. Pinterest is a prime example: you need an account just to browse pictures and other peoples' hobbies. Rullly? On the other hand, I'm glad my financial sites check the IP I logged in with and ask security questions. My main gripe is some of the unnecessary stress that passwords cause us.

My Outlook box at work demands I change my password every 3 months. I can understand executives wanting this feature, but when most of the company uses email in place of chat (to discuss team projects and customer orders,) the information just doesn't need that level of protection. As a matter of fact, between sick days and high turnover in the entry-level positions, a team having to wait for one person to get his or her password right could be a problem. For me, frequently changing passwords often causes the ohh shit, I need to check something before I need to go home, and forgot my password situation. This leads me to my password retrieval gripe.

Digging up or fixing your forgotten password is a nightmare. After your 3 failed attempts because you logged in standing up and your wrist was resting on CTRL, what's the next step? Call IT, which is already closed for the day.

Some sites will ask your security questions and personal info before either resetting the password, or triggering a reset password email. That is a good thing. Attention companies: automating password retrieval is the way to go! Having to call someone to get a password for your login is silly, unless you work somewhere with incredibly important data. However, even those places have the James Bond random number generator key chain thinggies that make the password reset call unnecessary.

This site gets it!
Also, I recently got burned for not knowing whether I had an account or not. I was applying for a new position within my company, and forgot my password. Now, I have 10 memorized passwords, which is probably more than the average Joe, but still less variety than I should. Anyway, I used the forgot password link, entered one of my 3 emails, and was rewarded with this.

Seriously, fuck off. If? I'd done this with 30 minutes before I had to head to work, and waited around like an asshole to know whether or not I'd already created an account under that particular email. I don't know if that's more or less infuriating than that 5-minute wait for the password reset email when you actually do have an account.

No one has screwed me over as much as Microsoft, though. My hotmail account was hacked 10 years ago, and there's no tech support number to call - in fact, someone took notice of this and posted a number as a Google result. I got halfway into the call when someone with an accent asked me for $69 and a credit card number. Bless that guy and fuck Microsoft for not having a normal retrieval process. They have a list of about 50 security questions to answer, with your personal information and even a open answer part with "some of the last subjects your emails were about." In theory, this is genius, but if someone hijacked your account and sent out 100 emails, then whatever you guess isn't going to work. And surprise! It didn't. Instead, some clever thief capitalized on Microsoft's inability to satisfy a common issue.

As much as I rail on Apple, I'm really glad that they've tied most of your logins to when you unlock your phone. Most of the frivolously protected sites/apps with logins being opened with a swipe works juuuuust fine.

I'm not saying get rid of logins altogether, and I'm not calling for sci-fi eye scanners on every device, but some companies need to realize just how much a pain in the ass their accounts are to access.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Games of 2016: Trophy train!

March was the month of PSN games. I completed the entire 5-part Tales of Monkey Island, as well as all of the offline Duke Nukem 3D content. Monkey Island is a point-and-click adventure game that you progress through by dialogue choices and providing items you find. The game follows Guybrush Threepwood in his pursuit of LeChuck, the "evil" pirate who isn't really that evil. The game is loaded with bad puns and really mild humor, as well as some decent challenges that are solved by listening carefully or watching closely.

Tales of Monkey Island's light-hearted humor never got me to laugh until the last game. You're in a cemetery with all these goofy headstones, and one says, "RIP Finnius, AKA "Shark Fighter", AKA Shark Bait."

Died from a bear attack."

The original Duke Nukem 3d is a classic, mostly famous for it's adult humor, wisecracks, and pop culture parodies.  However, the gameplay is solid and I want to shout out for level design. The original 3 10-level episodes take place in cityscapes that are very well-designed. There are bank blowups, shopping store shootouts, and alleyway assaults. All the levels are connected in a way that tells a story of where you're headed without mood-killing cutscenes, which is something that current FPSes can't seem to do. However, the expansions throw that great design out the window. One of them is a whole collection of Christmas levels dedicated to blowing up snowmen and elves that culminates in a really hard fight against Santa. The other replaces your weapons with water pistols and coconut launchers as you progress through a beach/Miami-themed episode. These both sucked.
These things creepy silent elves were
the source of many scared jumps

Regarding weapons, you're probably going to use mostly the shotgun and the ripper, which is a vertically-positioned chaingun. Some less-common-to-fps guns include the shrink ray, freeze cannon and expander, which makes enemies larger to the point where they explode.

Other than that, I've mostly been playing the Zelda Wind Waker HD version for Wii U. It's hard to believe this sleeper hit is from 2002, the cell-shaded graphics definitely provide some anti-aging, and the update to 1080p and new lighting and textures makes the game look RAD. If you play with the gamepad, you can hotswap your inventory, look at your maps, and use the MiiVerse without pausing the game. There's a lot of sailing empty ocean in this game, and checking MiiVerse messages and items while sailing enhances the experience dramatically.


My absolute favorite part of the MiiVerse, Nintendo's social networking, is that your in-game camera now lets Link take the most adorable selfies. At almost any point in the game, you can write a message in a bottle and chuck it in the water or on land, and other players will find it as they progress through their own story. There's a Nintendo Gallery in-game, where a man makes figurines out of certain pictures. It's completely optional, but the MiiVerse's sharing pics also makes collecting photographs of monsters and characters easier.

The contrast...

Monday, April 11, 2016

The Force Awakens thoughts *spoilers in episode VII*

Now that this movie is right around the corner for home release, I wanna Jabber-the-Hutt about it. I'd like to start off saying I loved this movie and have already posted on how wonderful a night it was seeing the opening IMAX screening. There are tons of theories out there, and don't let mine replace yours. I have avoided reading other opinions online and have some ideas I want out here, and maybe you can watch it on BluRay or whatever streaming service with these in mind. Feel free to disprove or confirm, though I really want to keep my own ideas and avoid spoilers for sequels.

My knowledge of outside-of-movie cannon is very limited; I haven't even watched the Clone Wars cartoon, which I hear is dy-no-mite!

I think the title refers to Finn. How do you make it through all the military training and suddenly have remorse? Okay, maybe it's his first mission, but how is a sewage specialist assigned to ground combat? I didn't get the impression that the First Order was desperate for soldiers. I think that someone orchestrated that, uhh, career shift so that the Force would awaken inside of Finn in the form of his sympathy.

Where would Finn have gotten the ability to use the Force? Maybe Leia Organa and Lando Calrissian hooked up. We don't know the rules, nor timelines of these relationships in that universe, and neither of the two smugglers seem particularly faithful. Also, if Anakin Skywalker struggled with the light and dark sides of the force, having grandchildren on different sides of the spectrum makes sense.

Rey is too obvious to be the next jedi, and the series would be much more clever with this distraction. What if the next movie starts with Luke saying, "Where the hell is Finn?" "Or, who the hell are you?" or something similar? What if Luke became super bitter and starts training Rey as a sith? It would greatly contrast the chemistry Finn and Rey have if they turned into bitter enemies. Even better if they were reluctant to fight, and the two ended up softening or eliminating the Jedi-Sith rivalry.

No matter how the series turns out, I'll love it. The new cast feels young and fresh, and is a pleasure to watch. It's really nice to get this series made by fans of Star Wars, and I really like what I've seen. There's the added bonus of no-risk because people will pay shitloads of money regardless...if JJ Abrams wants to pull the wool over our eyes for a sweet-ass secret, then more power to him. I look forward to surprises, and will avoid trailers and teasers and advertising for the next movie as well.


Grey Friday: Know your brands