Friday, August 26, 2016

End of Games of Summer 2016

Opposites attract and same colors repel, as you get dynamic
control over your polarization to jump through these
puzzles. Ohh, and one-hit-deaths.
This month has been a doozy! I've played 3 new games this month, starting with a free PS+ game called Teslagrad. The former is a hand-drawn puzzle platformer, with no vocals or dialogue, with a pretty short playthrough. I like the game's campaign length, and simplicity. You get an ability to teleport short distances, and an ability to polarize red or blue, which attracts or repels objects including yourself. Otherwise, you collect 36 objects for 36 trophies, and that's it.



Frickin jam out to Chop Suey!
Guitar Hero Live has a very premium presentation. In Live mode, you play sets of 3-4 songs in front of a live audience, and the whole thing is live-action, recorded in super-crisp first person. This is one of the best versions of the view I've ever seen. Your band members are a tad overdone and you'll spot the acting, but GHL is an ambitious project that succeeds. As if this offline component wasn't sweet enough, you can also play GHTV, the 24/7 drop in/drop out continuous streaming of songs. There are at least 100 free songs, each with their own music video as you haul ass on the guitar. The controls have been overhauled from 5 keys down the neck to a more-compact 3x3, which was surprisingly easy to pickup after playing at least 10 guitar games with the 1x5 layout. The trophy path is challenging, but not as hard as some of the past games. I think one of those games had you play ~100 songs in a row without failing or pausing, or some complete garbage. The hardest one in GH Live might be hitting all notes in 4 songs on the hardest difficulty...or 1 song 4 times. Otherwise, there is playing the online mode for a total of 24 hours, and strumming the guitar 1 million times, which just take some perseverance.

This month also saw the win-some-lose-some release of No Man's Sky, which disappointed a decent amount of people in the same way that I was disappointed with Dangerous Golf. I'm not one for sandbox games, and really didn't care about No Man Sky's potential. I just don't do games that don't have goals, and games that have long completion times better be the cream of the crop. I hope the people who were disappointed with the game get a magic patch with all the missing gameplay features they're waiting for and a little stability...I'll keep my eyes forward for Final Fantasy XV.

Think...Marvel Ultimate Alliance + StarCraft
A free PS+ title this month is Kill Strain, which is pretty much what the dismal failure Evolve should have been. The game currently only has one map, with a dozen playable characters. Each match takes about 20 25 minutes, and starts 4 v 4 v 2. 8 of those players use human characters from several classes and try to kill either the other human team or the Strain team. The Strain team has its own unique 3 classes, and a small chance to infect a human after killing them. When this happens, the Strain team grows in number, as the previously-human player now joins the Strain team. Having one map, and only 250 players online at a given time, the game could use a little flushing out. However, from reviews of Evolve, this free game has a decent chance to run the full-priced game a run for its money.

Other than that I am still plugging away at Overwatch and Gems of War.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

August update

July's monthly goal of eating the contents of my freezer and pantry was a bust. The purpose of doing this was to prevent a buildup, keep items from spoiling or losing taste from being frozen, curb food shopping expenses for the month. I didn't quite make it through all of the 6 packs frozen vegetables, and there's a tube of chorizo that I should use pronto. Everything else, like ramen, the 4 cans of beans and tomatoes, and Trader Joe's meals still has a very long shelf life. My girlfriend moved in near the end of the month, and brought her stored food as well, derailing the mission.

I have been chosen to volunteer over Labor Day weekend for PAX! That was a relief, though the position I'll be working is apparently 12-hour shifts, and will probably deal with a lot of noise. This is in stark contrast to last year's position at the Handheld Lounge, where I sat in a chair the whole time, talking with fellow volunteers and chatting with people about Pokemon and Final Fantasy.

The day before PAX will be my last day working customer service at my current job. Lots of people would tell me how irresponsible that is - choosing a 4-day convention over stable employment, but I dare you to work customer service for 8 months after having way cushier jobs, and not make the same call. Quitting the company will give me a much-needed kick in the ass to find higher-paying work so I can get back to saving. Let me add, though, that because of my awesome saving, I have a cushion of "f- you money." I recently sold all of my Apple stock - after 1.5 years of mediocre performance - and will be spending that on necessities instead of reinvesting it. This will buy me time to find a job I want more than simply settling as quickly as possible. So, consider the freedom that a chunk of savings can earn you!

The day after PAX is when I say goodbye to my girlfriend for a very long time, as she has to return to Korea. Her student and work visas have run out after 5 years, and so has the money. The plan is for her to work in her home country, and blow her savings every couple months to visit, but the frugal part of me is shaking my head. I think the best option would be for me to take a limited teaching term in Japan through a program called Westgate, and visit from there. I'll talk more about that in another post, though.



I've seen a little bit of the Olympics, but since I don't have cable, it's been interesting figuring out how to unconventionally watch something that should be free. I think it's a basic citizen's right to watch countries the Olympics, but NBC doesn't agree with me. Also, Rio has done a splendid job of hosting the Olympics, despite all of the concern. We're only a week in, and I wish the greatest luck and appreciate Brazil for hosting.

Gaming update will come separately, of course.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

How Frontier Communications is going to screw me over

Credit score; your financial IQ. It's one of those things that's useful in a handful of contexts, but is prized a little more than it should be. Luckily, I do not plan on taking out a loan in the next 10 years, as I'm flexing frugal muscles for the long haul.

Here's the deal. When I moved into my own place, I figured I would stick it to the larger cable company by going with the smaller guy, Frontier Communications, and I will pay for my insolence. They advertise a $39.99 per month 3Mbps service on a DSL connection with no contract, which is a pretty good deal. Some people get free installations and $40 is all that they pay, which I was told by the representative. After I asked him to sign me up, I was told that there was a $100 fee for a technician to come out to your house and hook up the router, which consists of connecting 2 wires. Well, smart me knows shit about computers, so I opted for the free self-install kit. I was excited for about 10 seconds until the agent saw that my apartment complex wasn't eligible for the self-install kit, but because it was the only option, my fee would be waived. Sweet! 5 days later, the friendly technician comes in and hooks up the connection, telling me that the aforementioned 3Mbps was based on how close you live to the company's station. Shucks. Ahh well, internet is crucial, so I would take whatever I could get at the time.

Installation waived? False.
I used the service for a day and found the speeds so unbearably slow that I scheduled Comcast to start their service the very next day. A week later, when my 30x faster connection was up and running, I called Frontier to cancel the service. I was prepared to pay the $40 monthly fee, chiding myself on how un-frugal it was to have two internet connections at once. 2 weeks later, my first bill arrives for $200.92. Also, the Frontier technician depot is a 15-minute walk from my house, and the $10 shipping/handling fee for the technician bringing the router is almost hilarious.

I called Frontier 4 times, using Skype, another service that doesn't work as well as it should, and 3 of those times, the agents couldn't hear me. I also had to laugh at the absurdity of having connection problems with a communications company.

On the 4th try, the agent was able to hear me, and after 45 minutes, told me that the entire $200 would be prorated for the 6 days the service was active. I have to wait 3 billing cycles to see the adjustment. That's when, 3 weeks later I get the following:

"Please be advised that your account is seriously past due in the amount of $200.92. Your failure to respond to this debt will initiate additional collection proceedings, which may include referral to an outside collection agency within 10 days of this letter."

This company is going to report me to collections? Aww, hell no. I called them back, asking if there were any notes to when I cancelled the service, and whether or not the amount was to be prorated. Nope. When I explained myself, the representative, Dean, told me that he would get the installation fee waived, and that I would see the changes in 3 billing cycles. I recorded that 25-minute phone call to use if shit gets anymore real.

In 2 weeks, it will have been 5 billing cycles since the madness began, and 4 cycles since I talked to Dean.

Since I work customer service, I have to bring up a pet peeve of mine. A lot of consumers will have an issue with a lost package or damaged item, and the company I work for will fix the mistake and apologize. A lot of people will say they got shitty customer service. I would like to say that they had a shitty customer experience. The service I provide is exemplary, and the customer service at Frontier was also nothing but polite agents, and, as I mentioned, a very nice technician. My customer experience, however, with Frontier Communications has been a fucking nightmare. I cannot dis-recommend a company any more than Frontier. Run at all costs. Save yourself, don't try and make a stupid statement like I did.

Grey Friday: Know your brands