Etc.

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 2560×1440 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.

Comments closed
    • DarkUltra
    • 7 years ago

    How about overclocking those Korean 27″ S-IPS 2560×1440 displays to 120hz?

    [url<]http://120hz.net[/url<] PS! only works for the 2B non-multi versions e.g. none of the ones you get at ebay.

    • dragmor
    • 7 years ago

    Why would anyone buy a $400 USA Catleap monitor with dead pixels when you can get a U2711 Dell monitor for $630 during their semi-regular 30% off sales (or cheaper from the outlet). 0 Dead Pixels, 3yr next day business warranty.

      • Chrispy_
      • 7 years ago

      Beacuse they’re only $250 on eBay at the momennt and in the grand scheme of things, a warranty and two minuscule dead pixels is not worth altmost $400 to everyone.

      Choice. Nobody is forcing you to buy one.

      • brucethemoose
      • 7 years ago

      Mine never had dead pixels. But heck, you could buy 2 Korean monitors for the price of a U2711 with a warranty if you wanted.

      And don’t forget: some of the catleaps are capable of running at 90hz+

    • ALiLPinkMonster
    • 7 years ago

    I work in a screenprinting shop in Florida with a huge 1000° infrared dryer in the middle and nothing to keep us cool but a few cheap fans that like to break on us. It gets downright miserable in the Summer.

    • Mightyflapjack
    • 7 years ago

    For a simple, free FPS that runs on low spec hardware and has graphics similar to minecraft

    try :

    [url<]http://www.ace-spades.com/[/url<] Should be excellent for young kids as their first FPS.

    • Anvil
    • 7 years ago

    Whoo! Finally a mention of the Korean monitors on TR! :p

      • brucethemoose
      • 7 years ago

      The movement’s gaining traction 🙂

      Surprisingly, none of the major e-tailors stock these things. They would sell like crazy, even with major markups.

    • Chrispy_
    • 7 years ago

    Shootmania could be great, but I’m worried that only two weapons seemed to be available. A seemingly rare/expensive/infrequently used railgun and a projectile blaster.

    Great games have been defined by the variety of their weapons. Different weapons give you advantages in different situations. I hope there are more than just these two weapons, because this thing has the speed and enthusiasm that brings hope for fludity we haven’t seen since the days of Quake3.

    • Chrispy_
    • 7 years ago

    Double post. Browser or server error?

    • Bensam123
    • 7 years ago

    Well in contrast to your glowing review of MP3, I’ve heard the complete opposite. The game is largely comprised of about 8 hours of game play and 12 hours of video. Making it extremely annoying and frustrating to play through as the game is largely a movie that you can’t play fluidly due to it being constantly split up.

    As far as games for kids, what exactly describes being too violent for your kids? Is it having any sort of projectile weapon (firearm) or just swearing? Because there are plenty of games that don’t have swearing in them. Shootmania definitely looks like a stripped down FPS though and it seems like it has all the right parts down pat. Worth a look IMO.

    I would suggest trying out Tribes: Ascend as far as FPSs go. Taunting in that game amounts to voicebind spam, the worst offender of which is ‘Damnit’, which I think they removed in T:A. Otherwise it’s just all about the Shazbot.

    BlackLight: Retribution seems to be another pretty good one that just came out. There isn’t any swearing in it as far as I can tell and you can turn down the gore or turn it off. T:A doesn’t have any gore.

      • Damage
      • 7 years ago

      You: [quote<]Well in contrast to your glowing review of MP3, I've heard the complete opposite. The game is largely comprised of about 8 hours of game play and 12 hours of video.[/quote<] Me: [quote<] This thing is half movie, half slow-motion shooter, making it something very different from your average FPS.[/quote<] Yeah, complete opposite there.

        • Bensam123
        • 7 years ago

        Hmmm… the “complete opposite” was in contrast of finding that the majority of the game being movies was a good thing. Not that there was as descripincy in how you described the game.

        Although, my adjective choice may not have been a correct match for your level of enthusiasm reading through that a second time.

        • Chrispy_
        • 7 years ago

        “Very different?”

        I hate modern games like this because they all feel like more cutscene than gameplay, feels like a cheapskate way of providing content without actually giving you any freedom to explore said content.

        That being said, some of the cutscenes done with game engines can look utterly astounding because the devs can work to exact polygon budgets and add effects that only work from a fixed perspective. I’d still rather they weren’t cutscenes, but interactive parts of the game, but it’s better than the days of FMV.

        Oh wait, games still have buckets of FMV. FML! I’ll go and get me another beer whilst I wait for the cutscene 😉

    • cegras
    • 7 years ago

    I am still of the opinion that it’s better to let the kids see violence, nudity, and sex, and teach them how to do with it in a mature way rather than give them balloon gibs and pew pews.

      • Bensam123
      • 7 years ago

      Leads you to question why people don’t blow up into balloon gibs in real life when you shoot them.

    • ludi
    • 7 years ago

    Here’s hoping that the heat stays as just heat. Here next door in Colorado, we got several days of 100F+ in the midst of wildfire season, with the result that half the state up and burned down.

    Then, for irony, the July monsoon season arrived and voila, two inches of rain over the weekend. In some of the canyons near the burn areas, kayakers report that the water is running black from the fire sediments. For the final touch of irony, I come to work Monday morning in a beautiful 68F morning and discover the office is almost 80F, because the HVAC system was on the fritz (again).

      • Srsly_Bro
      • 7 years ago

      I’m on the other side of the mountains in Utah. We had weeks of 95°F, then it rained and 71° felt like 30°. We’ve had many fires down here, but I nothing as crazy as what’s been happening in CO.

      • Bensam123
      • 7 years ago

      That’s not cool, if I remember right the ash contains a lot of nutrients for new growth after a forest fire. If it all gets washed away there is a good chance of it stinting new growth.

    • Ihmemies
    • 7 years ago

    Get a parabolic solar cooker… they’re pretty good at making food on sunny days 🙂

    • Ryhadar
    • 7 years ago

    I know we set some records in June, but, on average, has it been significantly warmer in years past? The only thing I’ve witnessed a significant increase in is the amount of talking about how hot is.

    This absolutely isn’t a shot against this post, it’s just the catalyst that made me want to verbalize what I’ve been pondering for awhile now.

    At any rate, I can’t tell that it’s been really that much hotter than from years gone by. I live in PA, though, so maybe it’s different in other areas.

      • BobbinThreadbare
      • 7 years ago

      In central Illinois we’ve set several records for hottest low temperature ever on that day.

      • Thrashdog
      • 7 years ago

      According to NOAA, the past six months have been the hottest first half of a year since they started keeping records in 1895, and the 16th driest. Only the Pacific Northwest has had below-average temperatures.

      You can peruse their maps and charts here: [url<]http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/temp-and-precip/maps.php[/url<] See also this [url=http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/temp-and-precip/time-series/index.php?parameter=tmp&month=6&year=2012&filter=12&state=110&div=0<]handy historical graph[/url<], which shows one hell of a peak on the right-hand side.

      • just brew it!
      • 7 years ago

      It has been running noticeably above average here (Chicago area) since this past winter. I was brewing out on the patio in late December (normally by November I have retreated indoors to the kitchen); it topped 100F on Memorial Day weekend (unheard of!); and over the past couple of weeks we’ve hit the 100F mark multiple times. Some years we don’t hit 100F all summer, let alone multiple times starting in late May.

      I’m scared to see what my electric bill looks like.

      Heard yesterday they’re worried downstate that the corn crop will fail, due to the extreme heat and below average rainfall.

    • Yeats
    • 7 years ago

    Hard to tell from the photo, but that may actually be a skipper butterfly caught in your egg, not a moth.

    Always nice to do these sorts of nerdy things with one’s spawn.

    • Sam125
    • 7 years ago

    Wow, those are some insane temps! Stay frosty, my friend, stay frosty!

    • entropy13
    • 7 years ago

    While not QUITE that hot, temps are at a slightly “cooler” 34-36C if it isn’t raining. If it’s raining it understandably cools down considerably, but also led to some flooding in the past weeks. At least it rains now, when it was still summer time it’s all hot (even reaching 39C) and barely any “warm”, much less “not warm”.

    • Chandalen
    • 7 years ago

    While not QUITE that hot; it was 100 each day we were without power due to a nasty storm that hit the midwest. 9 full days of no power whatsoever in our neighborhood.

      • Arclight
      • 7 years ago

      Life without electricity nowadays is incredibly unconfortable. Did you at least have running water, or the water treatment plant neaby was also our of power? BTW how did it feel when the lights were on again?

    • excession
    • 7 years ago

    Damn Scott, I am glad that I’m not in Missouri THIS summer! It’s raining and around 70 degrees here in the UK and I know where I’d rather be, barely survived last summer!

    Excited about your thoughts on the IPS monitor – both the backlights on both of my 4:3 dinosaurs are getting a bit… interesting…

      • MrJP
      • 7 years ago

      While I’m usually a fan of our Great British summers, being at Silverstone for the F1 GP this weekend was a bit too far from not too hot. [url=http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/motorsport/formulaone/f1-picture-galleries/9381211/British-Grand-Prix-2012-soggy-Silverstone.html<]Here's a taste[/url<] for those that missed it.

      • Bensam123
      • 7 years ago

      I agree… considering all the hype here on TR about those monitors I’m really sorta interested to see what they turn out to be.

    • drfish
    • 7 years ago

    Thanks for the unsolicited BBQ plug! I’m really looking forward to hosting again.

    Hope you have as good of luck with your Korean monitor as I did with mine! I ended up selling the Eyefinity setup it replaced for $225 so I can call it the best $75 I ever spent.

    • roadkingclassictexas
    • 7 years ago

    If you want proper outdoor cooking ideas, try a batch of dashboard cookies. Grab one of those tubes of chocolate chip cookies, slice and put on a tray. Go to work, put the tray on the dash of your car and when you come out at 5, you should have properly cooked snacks to eat on the way home. And the plus is that the inside of your car will smell like freshly baked cookies. We do it here in Dallas every summer.

      • grantmeaname
      • 7 years ago

      So full of win!

      • Prestige Worldwide
      • 7 years ago

      You sir, are a gentleman and a scholar. Kudos for being awesome.

      • cegras
      • 7 years ago

      Are you sure incubating flour, sugar, and chocolate at a pleasant 40-50 C is a healthy way of making food?

        • dpaus
        • 7 years ago

        In what other way are chocolate chip cookies considered healthy??

        • ludi
        • 7 years ago

        Considering that those canned doughs have only a trivial amount of pasteurized egg content and a whole lot of sugar, which has a mildly preservative effect in high concentrations, I wouldn’t be worried. The final product is essentially cooked and there isn’t much going on in terms of food-borne diseases.

        Now, if you were trying to fry up a plate of chicken marinated in mayonnaise, yeah, you’re not coming into work the next morning. Or the rest of the week.

          • cegras
          • 7 years ago

          Hmm, I guess it’s so concentrated to the point of not having to worry (although if they rise, the yeast certainly are able to flourish – I thought baking kills the yeast?). Sorta like honey.

            • sjl
            • 7 years ago

            Do biscuits/cookies use yeast for the rise? I thought they generally used baking powder (sodium bicarbonate, mixed with an acid of some sort to form carbon dioxide) – but then, I guess that pre-mixed dough can’t use that, since the reaction would have well and truly completed long before the dough reached the end user. Hmm.

            • ludi
            • 7 years ago

            As sjl indicates, there is no yeast. Canned cookie dough is a very close relative of the powder biscuit.

      • Bensam123
      • 7 years ago

      Fresh cookie scented car, pure win.

        • Meadows
        • 7 years ago

        Much better than the vomit-inducing car air fresheners. I have yet to find such a freshener that doesn’t make me sick.

          • ludi
          • 7 years ago

          You’re not supposed to eat them.

            • Meadows
            • 7 years ago

            That’s the scary thing about them: I didn’t.

      • Washer
      • 7 years ago

      Yep, me and the intern on my team at work did this last Monday. It was awesome.

    • odizzido
    • 7 years ago

    I am totally with you on UT2004, but if I had kids the mature taunts would remain on.

      • KeillRandor
      • 7 years ago

      I have a SFWAK (Safe for work and kids – if playing UT2004 is allowed at work? 😉 ) Garfield (Cartoon) voicepack (From Garfield Goes To Hollywood) for UT2004, if anyone’s interested:

      [url<]http://www.mediafire.com/?l584fjz0mddttnh[/url<] (I've had trouble trying to upload it to gamefront, and I don't speak German for utzone.de 🙁 ).

    • quarantined
    • 7 years ago

    Max Payne 3 is a really good looking game, but that’s about it. It was repetitive gameplay chopped up by cutscene after cutscene. And it lost almost all of that original Max Payne charm that made the first two so much fun. I beat it on hard and can’t see myself tuching it again any time soon. Multiplayer got off to a rough start too with all the kinks and flaws.

      • cynan
      • 7 years ago

      I agree. I’m finding Max Payne 3 a bit on the boring side after playing about half of the Story mode. The bullet time is cool and all, but that only goes so far. Game play is extremely repetitive (especially after just coming from Deus Ex: HR which turned out to be a surprisingly fun game – the most fun I’ve had playing a campaign from an FPS since Borderlands).

      The Visuals and cut scenes and at least somewhat entertaining story keep you slogging through Max Payne, but I sometimes find myself wishing I could skip the cut scenes – and not being able to always easily skip them on replays is a bit frustrating.

      I can’t compare with the previous Max Payne titles. I did play the first Max Payne years ago, but never completed it and don’t have a good recollection of the game.

      Sadly, the most compelling feature of Max Payne 3 after the visuals, Bullet Time, has been done better elsewhere too (F.E.A.R.) as I find the mechanics of the 3rd person control in MP3 to be a bit on the clunky and awkward side.

      Maybe worthwhile for the visuals if you get it for $20 or less, but even the $30 I paid might be a bit much.

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