Friday, June 23, 2017

Let's Play Star Wars: X-Wing Alliance - Joining the Alliance, Mission #2

This is one of those fairly standard dogfighting missions. Starts off easy enough, with a 1v1, progresses to 4v1, then you start adding wingmen.

It can be a little glitchy at times, but basically just fly normal, and shoot anything hostile.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Sorry Tested - Testers are Makers Too!

The Tested channel on Youtube is a very cool channel run by former Mythbuster (yes, I know he's done a lot more than just Mythbusters, but that's what everyone knows him from) Adam Savage. This week, in celebration of National Week of Making, they've been running video essays from various makers.

Now these are very cool, and inspiring, but one of them kind of set me off a little. Here it is below.

Let me preface this by saying that what this woman is doing is fantastic. I'm glad that she loves coding, got into game design, and is encouraging more people to follow her path.

But, I have a huge issue with the idea that game testers, or testers in general, can't be makers. Now I'll admit, I'm a bit biased, what with being a tester for most of my career. But that's kind of the point. I'm a tester. I'm also a maker, specifically in the professional sense that she's talking about.

Okay, entry level game testing isn't much of a maker position. You're given a game, provided a series of test cases to execute, and if you have any decent amount of initiative, you'll soon be ad-hoc testing other areas when you have nothing assigned. However, anyone who can get past their first month in QA will quickly find that they're making things. It may just be bug reports at first. Then it moves into test cases, area test plans, and eventually test plans for an entire game!

Testers with coding aptitude often migrate to QA Engineering (like I did) where you're building entire small scale programs to solve problems encountered by other members of QA, and to automate some of the worst drudgework in testing. THAT'S MAKING!!!

One of the big tenets of the Maker community is having a curiosity for how things work. A lot of people talk about this manifesting for them in a fascination with taking things apart, and putting them back together again. Testers take things apart. We look for new ways to take things apart, new ways to combine things that developers haven't thought of yet, but that some user out there will.

Testers absolutely are makers, and I very much hope that this video doesn't discourage some brilliant future tester (who may go on from testing to be a fantastic game designer, programmer, artist, or any number of other paths for which QA provides an entry point) from going into the industry because "I guess testers are just consumer-grade controller monkeys."

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

One Year In - Riding Gear Review

After celebrating a year riding by accomplishing one of my long-term goals, I figure it's time to take a good look at my gear. I ride ATGATT (All The Gear, All The Time) both for reasons of personal safety, and because I will require my kids to ride that way while they're under my roof, and I don't want to have any more "Do as I say, not as I do" arguments than I'm going to end up having anyway.

Let's start with my helmet.

Helmet: Harley-Davidson Branded HJC IS_MAX 2

Pretty much this one, only with the H-D logo on the forehead rather than HJC. It's not a super expensive helmet, but seems to work well. It's broken in to be pretty comfortable, enough so that I was perfectly fine having it perched on my head for all the riding I did for the Bun Burner 1500. The visor is pre-drilled for Pinlock, which is an absolute necessity for riding into the fall, and the integrated sun visor works well without interfering with my prescription glasses

I do wish the chin vents had a screen of some sort though. I've enjested a couple of bugs onto the inside of my visor that had to be dealt with by quickly flipping the visor up to clear them. Not my favorite kind of surprise!

Overall though, this helmet has been a good performer for me. It's reasonably quiet, and the modular design comes in handy when stuck in traffic or needing to take a drink of water on a long ride, without compromising my overall safety the way a half- or three-quarter helmet would. I should have bought it in white though. Black cooks my head in the summer

Jacket: Harley-Davidson FXRG Switchback Textile Riding Jacket

This thing is brilliant. Definitely my favorite bit of gear. It breaks down into four separate layers, with built in CE rated elbow and shoulder armor in the base mesh layer, plus a pocket for a back protector. I do wish the back protector came with the jacket, because it was a $65 extra item, and a bit of a squeeze to get into the pocket.

In the summer, the mesh layer gives pretty good protection, while allowing plenty of airflow to stay cool once you're moving. In the spring and fall, I gradually add/subtract layers as need. With the windshield on my motorcycle, this keeps me comfortable in 30 degree freeway riding, and becomes my winter coat when it's January and -15 degrees. When this jacket eventually fails, I'll buy another one. It's well worth the money.

Gloves: Alpinestars SP-2s
These are great summer gloves. Well vented, pre-curved for less hand fatigue on long rides, and I'm very confident in their protection level. My only issue is that ventilation gets severely excessive when the temperature drops below about 60 degrees. A good set of thermal liners helps, but I need to find another pair of gloves for approximately October - April.

Pants: Spidi Motorcycle Jeans & Strength & Tourmaster Pants
 My ride everywhere pants in the summer are Spidi Motorcycle Jeans. They're reinforced for better durability, and have CE rated armor in the knees and hips. They're well ventilated, but they get heavy when you're off the bike. Certainly better protection than just a regular pair of Wranglers, but not a lot of fun to wear when you're off the bike in the summer.

When colder weather hits, I throw a pair of overpants on. This makes commuting a lot easier, since I just keep my work pants on underneath rather than changing at work. They're also nice for freeway riding in cooler temperatures. I pull the hip and knee armor out of the overpants, leave them in my Spidi jeans, and am decently warm at high speeds.

Feet: Milwaukee Motorcycle Boots
They're boots. They do the job, they're reasonably durable, and they seem like they'll stay together pretty well. I really wish I'd bought a pair with a side zipper, which would have been much less of a pain in the ass put on and off all the time.