Howdy.  Hope you enjoyed the odd combination of a holiday sandwiched by weekends.  The past week was a strange one for those of us who work on the web, since the flow of news and traffic was so very slow.

In the interim, I've managed to collect a bunch of tidbits that I feel compelled to share with you, so buckle up.

First, the extremely hot weather here in Kansas City led to some impromptu investigation of the question of whether or not one could truly fry an egg on the sidewalk.  Of course, here at TR, we can't just let fly with the egg and tell you what probably happened.  Heck, I've tried that in the past and found that successfully frying an egg on the sidewalk is difficult and, at the very least, somewhat unlikely.

Instead, last Friday, I wandered outside with an IR thermometer at mid-day to measure some temperatures.  The sidewalk here on that 102° F day?  133°. The black asphalt of the street next to it? A roasty 155°.  After some googling that led me to an article by Bill Nye, I determined that the asphalt was warm enough to give it a shot with my kids the next day, so long as we were willing to patient about cooking times.

On Saturday, the mercury hit 106°, and the asphalt measured at 152.5°.  Down went the egg on the asphalt, and we hurried back inside to wait in comfort.  Nothing much happened for 30 minutes or more, except that a moth got stuck in the egg, adding a nasty garnish.  Eventually, though, the egg's yolk mostly cooked to a nice, snotty consistency, like so:

I don't know if that's a victory for science or what.  We're just hoping a neighborhood dog or a coyote from the wildlife reserve nearby will wander over and eat the egg.  Nobody wants to clean it up.

Meanwhile, across town, TR biz guy Adam Eiberger took the less literal and much more sanitary approach of bringing a skillet out into the sunlight and seeing what he could achieve. His results were more compelling, or at least more appetizing, and his skillet surface hit a considerable 167° F on the power of the sun alone.

Point is, it's been hot.

Fortunately, the highs are expected to be around 90° over the next few days, as we host baseball's All-Star Game here in town.  KC is hoping to put its best foot forward and play the good host, but anybody who complains about the heat when it's 15 degrees cooler than this past week may not see the best of midwestern hospitality.

Incidentally, if any TR readers are in town for the game, let me know.  If there are enough folks visiting, perhaps we could have an impromptu meet-up or something.

Speaking of meet-ups, the mother of 'em all, TR BBQ 2012, is coming up on August 11 in Holland, Michigan.  You really need to come and join us this time.  I know Adam already has some TR shirts to give away, and I believe more swag is forthcoming.  We're hoping to bring in Jordan and have him document the event with one of his amazing podcast reports.  Hit the forum thread for directions, details, and to RSVP.

If you don't follow me on Twitter, you're missing out on various short, banal comments.  You also probably missed last Friday's burst of inspiration, during which I ordered one of those sub-$400 Korean monitors on eBay for review.  The specs are just too good to be ignored: a 27" S-IPS display with 2560x1440 resolution and purportedly great viewing angles and color reproduction (befitting an IPS display).  I'll be writing up my impressions once it arrives, which should happen some time this week.

On an entirely different front, you may recall that I've had difficulty finding an FPS multiplayer game that's really appropriate to play with my kids.  After some hunting around, we eventually settled on UT2004 with "mature taunts" disabled, which isn't a bad option as long as you're comfortable with clouds of red, cartoony blood and gore.  Some parents won't like that, I'm sure, which is why I'm pretty excited about the prospects for Shootmania Storm, by the Trackmania guys.  Here's the trailer, which nicely demonstrates the sports-like, non-violent nature of the game—which remains a pure FPS for all important purposes.

I signed up for the beta on the strength of that trailer, and I just got the e-mail this morning offering the first beta download key.  Worth checking out of you want to introduce kids, especially younger ones, to FPS gaming.

At the complete other end of the spectrum, there are games like Max Payne 3.  Violent, gritty, dark, and did I mention violent?  I have quietly been locking myself in the office when the kids are in bed and playing through this game in recent weeks, and I believe I'm part-way through the final level.  This thing is half movie, half slow-motion shooter, making it something very different from your average FPS.  I'm enjoying it, though.  The bullet-time mechanism is compelling, and the rest of the game tells an engrossing enough story to keep me pushing onward.

As I mentioned on the last podcast, it certainly doesn't hurt that the game looks amazing.  The combination of the game's art style, extremely large textures, tessellation for smooth character silhouettes, very effective FXAA anti-aliasing touching virtually every edge, and frame rates consistently in excess of 60 FPS makes for very compelling visuals.  Above is a cropped but otherwise unretouched and non-resized shot from the game showing max's chrome dome and tropical print shirt.  Really is a notch above most games, I think, and in a nice way.

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