Thursday, March 23, 2017

Book Review - Dresden Files #4 - Summer Knight

There was quite a pause for me between reading the first three Dresden books, and finally getting back into the universe with book #4 (and we’re up to fifteen now, with a sixteenth still on the horizon… somewhere). Fortunately, Summer Knight had just enough reflection on the previous books to jog my memory, but really, a new reader could jump right in with this book and not miss a beat.

Save for some deep insight behind the depth of Harry’s brooding, backstory on his werewolf comrades, and more understanding of why so many people seem to want him dead, Summer Knight is basically a self-contained adventure.

For those unfamiliar with the series, the Dresden Files books are urban fantasy set mostly in and around modern day Chicago. With the first book written in 2000, there’s a solid argument to be made that it was one of the series at the forefront of what has become a very popular sub-genre. Our main protagonist, Harry Dresden is Chicago’s only advertised wizard, and is something of a supernatural detective noir who compliments his pistol with a blasting rod and staff.

Summer Knight revolves around a fae-world mystery – the Summer Knight, the Summer Queen’s right-hand, has been murdered, and the Winter Queen wants the murder solved before the imbalance of power forces both sides to war. Since, in the Dresden world, the fae are actually the ones who control the weather, having Summer and Winter rebalancing their power in a knock-down, drag-out war would be a Very Bad Thing for every human hanging around Planet Earth.

Naturally, Harry has to solve this murder in three days, while dodging murder attempts, a Wizard’s council that mostly also wants him dead, and dealing with the re-appearance of his first love as the Summer kingdom’s representative in the investigation. Naturally things do not go smoothly. But then, it would be a pretty short book if they did.

As always, I enjoyed Jim Butcher’s foray take on the unseen world. The Dresden universe is well thought-out, with details that feel perfectly plausible. Harry is an excellent main character, skilled at what he does but hardly hyper-competent. The action scenes fly fast, and I came to the end of the book far sooner than I would have liked. Then again, a Dresden book is one of those series that will get me to stay up late reading just one more chapter.

For those who’ve never gotten into the Dresden Files, Summer Knight is a great place to start. Perhaps better, actually than Storm Front, the first book in the series, since Butcher’s style has evolved and gained polish as the series goes on. Any way you choose though, the series won’t disappoint.

I was not compensated in any way for this review. Amazon links are affiliated, I will make a small pittance back if this review motivates someone to buy the book.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Backlog Burndown #17 - Telltale Texas Hold'Em on Marooner's Rock

The backlog battles continue with Telltale Texas Hold'Em, today on Marooner's Rock.

The game, as the name suggests, a single-player Texas Hold’Em simulator. You play against four opponents, each with their own personality and tells. There’s Harry the professional-ish player, with a by-the-book strategy; Boris the most-likely a mob hitman who plays aggressive but calculated; Theodore the fratboy who plays dumb and aggressive; and Grandma, who plays a slow, calculated game right up until she crushes you.
It's not a terrible game, it's just... those jaggies. Ouch.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Logitech Mouse Double-Click Fix Attempt - New Youtube Video

A bit different video today. Last fall I made an attempt to fix my favorite mouse, a Logitech G700 that had fallen prey to the double-click problem that seems to plague older mice in this series. It... well, let's just say it didn't go precisely by the numbers and leave it at that.

Monday, March 20, 2017

More Marooner's Rock - Lightspeed Frontier EA Preview

Over on Marooner's Rock, I take a longer look at Riveted Games Lightspeed Frontier. Now that it's out on Early Access on Steam, I can go much more in depth with the game. I'm genuinely excited to see where this one goes, I feel like it has a lot of promise.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Backlog Burndown: Streets of Chaos

Backlog Burndown takes on Streets of Chaos. Billed as a sort of turn based city conqueror thing, it may well be the most boring game I've played during the burndown thus far.

Read the full Backlog Burndown column on Marooner's Rock.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Airport Explorations #1 - Y14

It started with an unseasonably warm weekend in March. In South Dakota, when the weather gives you temperatures in the 60s on a Sunday afternoon, with clear skies and dry roads, you have to take advantage. Out of the garage came the Sportster, for the second time this year. But unlike the first ride of the year, where I had no destination or plan, this time I had a goal.

Roughly fifteen minutes south is a small general aviation airport (Y14) where I hope, one day soon, to complete my Private Pilot’s license. That day hasn’t come yet, however I had it in my mind to at least find the airport that I’d only seen from the freeway and see what there is to see.

The A-7D, and my ride.
I got a Cessna on final approach crossing above a two-lane county road at less than fifty feet. I found my local EAA chapter (maybe it’s time for me to get my EAA membership and start attending meetings, considering my future plans!) I found an A-7D Corsair II serving as an airport mascot and guardian, and a mystery.
Dedication plaque

According to the dedication plaque, the A-7D standing its silent, final watch is Air Force S/N 70-1050, flown by the South Dakota Air National Guard from 1977 to 1991. One can only imagine the lack of enthusiasm that greeted the news in 1977 that these fighter pilots would be trading their sleek, supersonic, delta-winged F-102 “Deuces” for the attack aircraft nicknamed “SLUF” for “Slow, Little, Ugly Fellow (or usually a more vulgar F-word)”. The A-7 didn’t even have an afterburner!

The mystery however, comes from a bit of research about the actual history of this specific aircraft. According to Wikipedia’s sources, A-7D S/N 70-1050 was destroyed during a terrorist attack in Puerto Rico in1981, making it rather unlikely that the same airframe was restored and placed in South Dakota sixteen years later.

What airframe is actually displayed at Y14? I have no idea. Clearly a return visit to look for more information is in order.

All of this has given me a great idea though. According to the current FAA sectionals, there are at least fifteen or twenty GA airports within a two hour riding radius of me. Exploring more of these during the riding season, sounds like some great destination plans. Who knows what other cool things I’m going to find!

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Backlog Burndown #16 - To Infinity and Aveyond - on Marooner's Rock

Today on Marooner's Rock, I take on Aveyond: Lord of Twilight, the first in a four part, episodic take on the classic sprite-based RPG genre. It's got humans, good (non-sparkly) vampires, bad (again non-sparkly) vampires, and a cave full of spiders!