It has been a couple of months since my last update. The holiday season was oddly relaxing, though hubby and I were waiting on word regarding a position that he’d applied for up north. I’d mentally prepared for the possibility of a move but in the end he didn’t get the job. I won’t go into further details on that matter.
Just before Christmas, hubby and I went to Kinkua National Park with some of his workmates. It is half an hour south of Bundaberg and consists of mostly sand for twenty kilometers along the coast. It was a bugger getting into and without the use of our tablet for tracking our location and direction in real time. Though our Jimny handled the trails like a champ, it rained for most of our stay. We ended up having to cook in the rain that evening and left early the next morning. Hubby scored a fractured rib whilst tackling whilst a co-worker received two broken rib from being tackled by a team member during that same game. Hubby is still recovering, but has been careful at work so as to not re-injure himself.
The Steam Holiday Sale resulted in my husband and I purchasing some excellent games. Of these, we scored some titles from Telltale Games (The Wolf Among Us, The Walking Dead Season 1, Tales From Monkey Island, Tales From The Borderlands), Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel, Mass Effect 1 & 2, L.A. Noire (awesome game!) and many more. There was some real gems in there, though I am hoping that Life is Strange will drop in price soon as I would really like to play it.
So, I gave up playing Champions Online after Perfect World International abruptly dropped their support for SMS payments. I’d pretty much played out the game anyway, but it seems like a big FU to players of other games such as Neverwinter. Regardless of how much that I enjoyed Neverwinter, this move was done without warning to either players or those companies that such services went through. As such, I doubt that I will pick up any of their games anytime in the foreseeable future.
I started playing RIFT again and couldn’t keep from grinning. I still enjoy it and am slowly getting my stable of characters to cap. I participated in my first Arklight event last week. For those unaware, Arklights are one of the new mounts that can be gained for all toons from either a specific box (a small drop rate but each toon has a shot at it by finishing an achieve for completing the two Arklight dailies) or by getting 850 of the event-specific currency. You get 10 of the currency for completing each of the two dailies, with some of the currency dropping from the box. You can also pick up a box from the cash shop using the premium currency.
I gave Aeria Games’ Aura Kingdom a run a few weeks ago and was somewhat impressed. The character options are pretty reasonable, with an engaging storyline (if you chose to pay attention to it) that is a lot darker than your average anime-style RPG. The world-building seems decent, though some folks may not like the anime aesthetic. I probably won’t get into it as much given other gaming, but it does offer a lot of promise.
After viewing ChaosD1’s review of the infamous Scarlet Blade with my hubby, my hubby decided to give it a run. As nice as the graphics are, the storyline doesn’t take advantage of the world-building already in place. Seriously, they could have easily had a game that included an engaging storyline and massive boobs. It was a lost opportunity.
Last but not least is my return to SWTOR after more than two years hiatus. Logging into my account, I noticed that I had a bunch of premium currency to purchase shiny things. I learned that this was because of the small monthly stipend given by having an authenticator attached to an account. Not too shabby. I played some starship missions and couldn’t stop grinning at how much that I remembered of the game. I still haven’t played PvP since returning to the game predominantly due to comments from other players on the state of PvP. This was a complaint back when the game was subscription-only. It is a little sad, and one of the big reasons one of my gaming buddies left the game years ago. That being said, I like what I have seen of the cash shop and the availability of some premium stuff in the Global Trade Network (the GTN is the auctionhouse equivalent) as it allows players to purchase premium items using credits.
I completed a bunch of courses over the holiday season but didn’t get around to reviewing them. I will attempt to give an overview of some of the completed courses below.
Harvard’s ChinaX parts 8 and 9 over at EdX introduced the modern era of China, covering the rise of communism and what occurred in China after the passing of Mao. It has changed my view of modern China in a big way and never attempts to pretty up events such as the major purges of critics of the CCP. We see how Mao idolized the work of communist leaders in Soviet Russia, resulting in decisions that led to the death of tens of millions of citizens and the stagnation of his country. I am currently working on the tenth and final installment of the series that deals with how the country has changed dramatically since Mao’s passing.
HKU’s Epidemics course over at EdX dealt with much of the same material as The Pennsylvania State University MOOC Epidemics – The Dynamics of Infectious Disease at Coursera, but it dealt more with case studies. I liked the format and the content was top-notch. Some folks may feel inclined to speed up some of the videos though as many of the lectures talked slower in an attempt to deal with concerns over pronunciation.
UCBerkley’s The Science of Happiness covered some material that I was already familiar with but brought it all together in an engaging and logical fashion. I discovered a few more interesting psychology speakers as well. I do have some concerns over how much the answers were spoon-fed, but I somewhat understand that some students may not have access to the studies mentioned.
Open University’s Introduction to Cybersecurity at FutureLearn was extremely relevant and featured some high quality content. The content flowed easily and it helped build on some of the material on security covered in Chuck Severence’s Internet History, Technology & Security over at Coursera. It is a great introduction to the subject of cybersecurity and posts links to some neat tools and software that you might find useful.
It felt a little odd trying to get into study mode again, but I find myself excited about learning new things again. It feels amazing, but I realize that I will have to pace myself. Below is a list of the courses that I am currently studying:
- The Rolling Stones by The University of Rochester at Coursera (week 1/7)
- Introduction to Linux by Linux Foundation at EdX (self-paced chapter 2/18)
- Jazz Appreciation by UTAustin at EdX (week 1/10)
- Forests & Livelihoods in Developing Countries by UBC at EdX (week 3/6)
- In the Night Sky: Orion by Open University at FutureLearn (week 2/4)
- Elements of Renewable Energy by Open University at FutureLearn (week 1/4)
- Empire by University of Exeter at FutureLearn (week 1/6)
I have read a couple of short stories so far this year. You can locate my reviews for both via my Goodreads widget. As folks will likely notice, I am reading more science fiction classics these days. They may sometimes be a little goofy, but such stories have helped shape the imagination of artists and all manner of other creatives. I welcome and consider all legit recommendations across the wide spectrum of genres, with a particular focus on classic fiction stories, such as the Conan stories.