Saturday, December 29, 2007

12/28 Blues vs. Sharks Game Summary

Well, my tickets have lost their magic. For the first time in six games, the Blues lost when I had tickets to go see them. Most distressing. The sad thing is that they generally played better than the Sharks, but San Jose's goalie, Evgeni Nabakov, just put up the force field and would not allow anything through. That and the fact that the referees had obviously been having too much egg nog sealed the game for the Blues. Honestly, I have been to some badly-called hockey games before, but this one might be the worst I have ever seen. If someone actually committed a penalty they wouldn't call it, but if someone was just lazily skating by they got called for some stupid penalty that didn't really happen. Bizarre.

In other news, I couldn't help but notice that during the second intermission, when they had the trucks on the ice to shoot T-shirts from, the background music that they played was an arrangement of the song "Tank," which was the opening song to the anime Cowboy Bebop. I'm sure they picked it because of their current emphasis on more jazz and bluesy music during games, but I still find it an interesting choice.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Hobby Games - The 100 Best

Hobby Games - The 100 Best edited by James Lowder, 2007, Green Ronin Publishing

This book was a real treat to read. It consists of 100 essays by noted game designers and/or publishers, where they write about one of their favorite games. Even though the title hints that this is a "top 100" listing, it really isn't. In the foreward, the editor notes that the intent with this book wasn't to try to rank order the best games of all time, which wouldn't really be possible due to the different kinds of games (card, board, roleplaying, wargaming, miniatures, dice games, etc.) covered. Rather, each of the 100 writers was asked to submit three games that they wanted to write about, and then they were assigned to write about their highest-ranked game that nobody else had claimed yet. The result is a highly eclectic, yet fascinating look at gaming across the last 40 years or more. Old standbys like Diplomacy, Axis & Allies, and Dungeons & Dragons receive coverage, along with highly obscure games that most people have never heard of, like The Great Khan Game, Renaissance of Infantry, and My Life with Master. The currently popular Euro-style games get lots of coverage, but so do a bunch of old Avalon Hill games from the '60s and '70s. It can also be interesting which games people choose to write about. For example, Tracy Hickman, noted fantasy author and creator of the Dragonlance series, writes about an American Civil War boardgame; or Warren Spector, noted computer game designer, writing about the boardgame Tikal. If you like playing games, this book will provide you with dozens of inspirations for games that you may have never heard of before, but that you will suddenly feel you need to play, since other people seem to love them so much. A highly recommended book.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas, everybody! While this season traditionally marks the end of the year, this year it also marks the end of the audit project that I have been working on since November 2006. That was one long project. I'm not sure what next year will bring on that front, but it looks like I might be spending part of winter in Chicago. We'll just have to see. I do have the next two weeks off from work, though, so that should give me plenty of time for rest and relaxation.

Of course, if you are me, relaxation means playing games. Because of that, I have added a little widget to this blog page. If you look on the right hand side, right under the archived blog posts, you will find a listing of games that I have played recently. If you don't care at all about board and card games, then you likely won't give a hoot, but if you also like board and card games then this will give you a chance to see what I have been playing lately. The game names link over to the proper page for that game at, if you want to find out more.

That note aside, I hope everybody has a merry christmas, and a happy and safe new year.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Hewlett-Packard Customer Service, Part 2

I must say, this whole thing has turned out very well. When I got the package to send my laptop to HP in, it came with a notice that said that I could expect it to take six to nine business days for my laptop to be repaired and returned to me. However, I dropped it off for shipping on Monday evening, and it was delivered to me about 1PM on Thursday afternoon. That is less than three days total turnaround, which is very fast. I think the laptop spent more time in transit than it did at the repair center. And, most importantly, the problem is fixed and the laptop works perfectly, now. I'm real happy about it, and I take back almost all of the bad things I said about HP, with the exception of their mainline customer service, which seems to be setup such that nobody actually has responsibility for solving problems, they just pass the buck to the next group. But, all's well that ends well.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Hewlett-Packard Customer Service

Back in June, I purchased a laptop for myself through It didn't come from Amazon, though. It came from one of their partner sellers. The laptop was a great deal, as refurbished products often are. I bought a refurbished HP desktop back in 1999 and it was a great computer, so that didn't bother me. However, when I got the laptop, I noticed that the wireless function sometimes wouldn't work. In fact, it wouldn't even show up in Device Manager; it was like the comptuer didn't even have a wireless controller in it. Sometimes the wireless would work fine, and other times it wouldn't. As you can imagine, this caused lots of problems when calling HP customer service about the problem, as they would just have me restart the computer until it actually decided to work. One time it would'nt work, and they finally decided to send me a new wireless card. Of course, this required talking to a completely different group, which was busy at the time so they would call me back. Three days later they called while I was unavailable, and trying to get a hold of them again proved about impossible. And, of course, the wireless worked some of the time, so I just decided to put up with it and not worry about HP's desire to avoid actually handling my problem.

And then last week, I got an email from HP about a known problem with a few types of laptops, and mine was one of the specific types, and my serial number was in the list of potential problem childs. Sure enough, one of the potential problems was wireless not showing up in the Device Manager. They had established a special phone number specifically for those of us with these laptops, and I called that number and actually got good service. They had me flash my BIOS to the latest version, but that didn't solve the problem. So, they overnighted me a special box with special plastic holders to ship them the laptop (I was quite impressed with the holders: they expanded like an accordion to fit different sizes of laptops, and therefore were fun to play with), overnight FedEx pre-paid. So I packed up my laptop, dropped it off at a FedEx Kinko's on Monday evening, and yesterday afternoon I got notice that HP had my laptop, and I could go online and read that they found my problem as being a defective motherboard.

So, if you have a generic, intermittent problem that isn't easily solved by online technical guides, HP tech support seems designed to stick you in limbo and not actually solve anything. However, once I was put into a group with known problems, tech support was really great and seems to be doing all they can to solve the problem ASAP. I must admit it feels like dealing with an HMO for health care: if you have a standard, known problem (broken limb, knee replacement, etc.) then they already know what to do, you are put into a program for it, and everything is really efficient. If you have some weird problem, though, one that isn't easily diagnosed, then you are hosed because nobody knows what to do with you, since there isn't a pre-documented solution to the problem.

Hopefully this will end will with my laptop coming back to me in full, working condition. If not, I'll air my ire here for all to see.

Friday, December 07, 2007

New Comic Reviews

New comic book reviews are now up on my website. Back in the olden days of yore, I updated that site at least once a month. Today I noticed that I hadn't updated it since August. *sigh*

Sunday, December 02, 2007

General Update

Last week wasn't so hot for me. I didn't feel good a few days, including Thursday when I had a real bad migraine that kept me from going to work. I also had a bad headache today, as well. Unfun. In good news, though, I went to the hockey game with my friend, George, last night and the Blues won 3 - 1, which was awesome, because anytime we beat Chicago is awesome. That makes my tickets 5 for 5 currently, which is a nice change from the last couple years. Actually the Blues are one of the best teams in the entire League right now, if you go by the standings. So, congratulations to everybody! Interestingly enough, my account representative with the Blues stopped by last night to introduce himself, but I had gone to the bathroom, so he talked to George, instead.

In other news, I put up my Christmas tree, today. I wasn't able to decorate it, though, since one of my strings of lights doesn't work, so I will need to replace it. I would replace it today, but the weather is windy and rainy and I just don't feel like dealing with it. So I'll handle it tomorrow.