Friday, December 4, 2015

Going Back Into Battle - JSA

It was always a possibility but I had hoped that I would have found a job by now. After claiming ESA long enough for them to finally give me an assessment (11 months where it should be 2) I didn't get enough points and was told to switch back to JSA. I got the call on Friday and they wanted me to apply then and there unfortunately for me I was waiting for someone to drill into my teeth so I decided to wait until I got the letter.



Letter arrived on Tuesday informing me that my ESA was stopped on the same day they wrote up the letter on Friday so then it meant it was time to apply. Here's one wrinkle my area is now a Universal Credit area so I could not apply online. I am intending to appeal my ESA assessment and those on appeal can't be part of the UC pilot. Is it still a pilot after all these years? I don't know.

So now I've got my JSA first meeting on Monday where I will finish out the application and be required to sign a Claimant Commitment. This is where the battle starts to ensure that it doesn't force me onto Universal Jobmatch or to a totally unrealistic number of jobs to apply for each week.

I know some people might assume that it is being lazy or that Jobcentre Plus isn't out to get you, unfortunately they are and the numerous reports of sanction targets and my own posts about the various attempts at sanctions should serve as evidence.

I do not look forward to this fight or the wait to actually receive my benefits which are on pause while the new claim goes through but I'm assured it will happen by the 23rd. So just in time for Christmas unless I had to post presents at all.

I'll keep you posted on what happens on Monday.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

A Month Is A Long Time

I have not posted in a whole month which is pretty bad. Things have been moving forward sort of. Shall we summarise:
  • Job hunting, cranking out maybe 15 a week as a minimum
  • No interviews this week
  • Booked my place for a really cool Star Wars: The Force Awakens Party
  • Trying my best to put in some work for Nanowrimo
I am trying to remain positive but it is not easy. Thankfully I am stubborn and I am just not willing to give up yet. I've been getting through a lot of books and a number of my favourite series came to end this year or will next year.

I've been doing a bit more with my volunteer role hopefully that means that we will get our accreditation back so I can go cover events. It is something that is fun and also means that I am gaining new skills as well as working on improving existing ones, communication skills can always be better right?

So a short update for sure but hopefully I will be back soon with more.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Dealing With Disappointment

How do you deal with disappointment? It comes to us all right? I certainly can't claim to be any worse off than anyone else but disappointments get me down all the same. I find myself trying to stay positive while not having much luck in terms of job prospects.



I have been looking at ways to generate my own income like a small business but that requires capital which I don't have. I tried a little wheeling and dealing but that is just a start and trying to get that to the point where I can live off is a big, big step.

The latest disappointment was connected to things well outside of my ability to control, the site I work for lost a year's worth of posts which includes most of the time I was writing for them. That affects a lot more than me it also means that our site lost their press rights at a range of conventions and media events until we can re-establish ourselves.

For me it means I lost out on one of the two events here in the UK that are relevant to what we cover. It was something I was looking forward to it was a lot of fun and also a chance to add to my CV which apparently needs all the help it can get.

So how do you deal with disappointment ideally in ways that the rest of us will think of as positive.

Oh look I just broke my mobile phone with an epic accident I am too embarrassed to fully explain.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

3 New US Shows To Try

Blindspot


Strong Female Lead And A Puzzle To Solve

Jaime Alexander stars as Jane Doe in this new NBC thriller. A lot of people have been drawing comparisons with The Blacklist and I can see that strangely enough people seem not to be comparing it with Prison Break you know that show about a guy covered in tattoos that form part of an extensive plan.

The show has gotten some stick from certain reviewers for treatment of Jane Doe as an object, the first episode does have her emerging naked from a bag in Times Square then being poked, prodded and scanned by the FBI. Is it uncomfortable watching, yes is it there to titillate? I very much doubt it. The showrunners are undoubtedly portraying Jane as a strong woman who undertook this bizarre mission for whatever reason.

Now strong woman can be thought of as a negative term which is not what I intend when I describe Jane as that I think in a time where we have lots of action shows we have a majority of men doing the physicality in the lead roles the only current show I can think of that does that is Castle. They bring back memories of Alias and Buffy The Vampire Slayer


Everything I have seen tells me that this has what it takes to keep the audience interested but trying to judge audiences is a difficult thing but this is a show I’d recommend.

Chances of Season 2: 85%

Limitless



I really wondered about this when I started writing about this adaption of the film but seeing it in action may have made me a believer. I like the way that they strictly define the ups and downs of NCT so while Brian is on a whole other level he does have limits.

It is interesting to see Eddie Morran in this role as both a potential ally or an enemy and I want to see what happens next and if there are any more Big Bads to appear and what is the story with Rebecca's dad. This show lives or dies on the back of the line walked by Jake McDorman between loveable slacker and jumped up asshole. From time to time he goes over that line but got to be patient as it is only up to the second episode.

If you watched the film I think you'll be pre-disposed to liking this and if you haven't seen the film the pilot makes sure that you are pretty well filled in about stuff.

Chances of Season 2: 75%

Minority Report



Another film to TV series Minority Report continues the story five years the Pre-Crime Division was shut down after the events of the film starring Tom Cruise. I'm not sure which way this will go we've had a future procedural with Almost Human which should never been cancelled or had its running order changed so the character development made no sense.

Hopefully Minority Report won't make those same mistakes but it is too early to say. There are some fun things to see in this show

Chance of Season 2: 45% (That's been optimistic for a Fox show)

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

ANIME REVIEW: Rokka No Yuusha

Rokka No Yuusha (English Title: Rokka: Braves Of The Six Flowers) is a 12 episode anime series produced by Pony Canyon. It was originally a light novel series written by Ishio Yamagata then a manga and now it has been adapted for anime. The series despite its fantasy and magic setting is best described as a mystery.


PLOT

When the Majin awakes from the depths of darkness, the deity of fate selects six heroes and bequeaths them with the power to save the world. Adlet, a boy who proclaims himself the strongest man in the world, has been selected among "The Heroes of the Six Flowers". However, as the heroes gather, they soon begin to suspect that someone amongst them is an imposter.

WHY I WATCHED

You don’t get many anime series that revolve around mysteries, I’ve watched a few Hyouka is an interesting one that I thoroughly recommend. I chose this as something to break up the usual parade of mecha, fantasy and fighting anime.

WHAT I THOUGHT

I am writing this review up after the first 9 episodes of the show but I think given the mystery premise that’s fine. This anime is pretty much a run of the mill whodunit where instead of a remote hotel or a dinner party caught off by a flood you have a group of warriors stuck inside a barrier with the equivalent of a locked room mystery to deal with.


The mystery is at the core but this is about a group of warriors so we do see amazing fights with a range of interesting fighting styles and the interpersonal relationships and how each warrior reacts to one another is interesting to say the least. The warriors are very different from different social classes we have everything from princesses to commoners.



There isn’t much more I can reveal that doesn’t get into major spoiler territory so I will just say that trying to figure the mystery out is a great little brain teaser and makes me eager to see how things work out. I don’t know whether this is just a first season or if this was just meant to be a one off, I tend to think it could be the former subject to ratings.




If you like things like Sherlock or mystery books than you could do much worse than this anime which is just the kind of whodunit fix you need.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Adventures In Ebay

So I have been going to and fro about taking the next generation console plunge. Money is always and issue so I thought the best way would be to put up my PS3 for sale on eBay because I don't have space for both with only one monitor - below is all the fun stuff that happened.



eBay is pretty much the only viable way I think for getting rid of your PS3. It is so late in the game that I doubt Game or other video game store would want it and heading to a pawn shop would most likely get me £30 at most. I figured that most likely in a free bid situation I should get more than that so if I add postage I would have been fine.

Obviously doing the eBay thing does require some preparation time taking nice pictures of what you are trying to sell. Having a PayPal account to deal with payments is pretty much a requirement. A good step is searching for what you intend to sell and pick out the good stuff that makes the listing appeal to you and adding it to your own.

I think to set my one up I spent 45 minutes before making the listing live. Oh pay attention to what eBay suggests you might as well use their stats but of course be aware that if it is low you might take a bath finance wise. It can be a little stressful sometimes.

I set my PS3 for £40 with a few games which I could live with along with the postage that I had already got a quote for. I used myHermes it allows for collection from your home and has decent prices but do your own research.

FEES, FEES EVERYWHERE

The problem with doing the eBay thing is the fees and not just in the obvious ways, eBay charges a monthly fee based on your sales for that month and insists you give its direct debit access. Now that might not be a deal breaker for you but I've never been a big fan of that also not a fan of the way this stuff doesn't kick in until your second or third sale or bunch of sales.

Also another fun thing that happens after a few sales is Paypal start holding onto your money for up to 21 days. The first time I called them up to ask why they said bring my status to Above Standard then they changed that. For now the rules seem to be add tracking for your package on Paypal and they will release it three days after delivery is confirmed. Now there is a problem there are only three postal services that are integrated into Paypal so the rest (like myHermes) won't confirm delivery through Paypal so you have to call them up and get them to check it through the site. Yeah makes no sense to me either.

So if you want to sell things for a reasonable price not the pocket change that cash convertor style places offer go to eBay just be aware that it can be a fair bit of work.

Monday, July 13, 2015

ANIME REVIEW: Terra Formars

Terra Formars was originally a manga serialised in Weekly Young Jump which was then adapted for anime in 2014. There were also two OAV (basically one-off or very short anime series) covering the earlier missions often referred to the show.


The anime ran from September 26, 2014 to December 19 2014 and consisted of 13 episodes
For those interested I did a little research and unfortunately could not find any evidence that there will be another season. There is still a manga to read though.

WHY I WATCHED

Terra Formars was marketed as a Horror/Sci-Fi which sounded pretty interesting to me and other than that it pretty much came out of nowhere. It sounded like a fairly cut and dry idea, hard to go wrong, it reminded me a bit of Gantz but could just as easily be described as Attack On Titan in space.

WHAT I THOUGHT

Terra Formars is a wild, wild ride. There is a OVA which is like two episodes wrong but I’m not whether or not you should watch it first, it shows the previous missions will be referred to in the show from the beginning so make up your own mind. So first up is Terra Formars scary? Definitely not in a jump scare serial killer behind you sort of way but more of a no one is safe so don’t get attached to that character you find endearing.

One thing of note is that when Terra Formars was first broadcast is was heavily censored (what else would you do with a horror show) so trust me when you I say you want none of that action it is more horrifying than any of the deaths on the show.

Zeroing in on the show’s core reveal it to be a battle anime (think Naruto, DBZ) with the fights being more violent but just as intricate with just as many “let me just pull this special move out of my ass” moments which will make you smile.

The explanations for the Science behind the abilities of our protagonists and the enemies is well worked though it doesn’t exactly have me wanting to queue for that surgery. The announcer is awesome I kind of want to check out the English dub to see if he is up to scratch but somehow I think I will be disappointed.

As I mentioned previously absolutely no one is safe but if you had to watch one character it has to be Michelle K Davis as one of the leaders of the crews and perhaps the most badass female anime of recent times (say last five years). She is one of the few female protagonists you see in a show where you think yeah even without her powers or abilities she still kick the crap out of most who tried to take her on.

The show isn’t all action though there are flashbacks which serve to show why people would choose to go to Mars on what could be well be a suicide mission. The flashbacks speaks of mega corporations and the divide between rich and poor growing even larger.


So if you have a strong stomach and a love of epic multi-episode battles handled a lot better than they were in Dragon Ball and if you want to see some strong women calling the shots than go pick this up on DVD or on a streaming service if you can find it.

Monday, July 6, 2015

ANIME REVIEW: Is it Wrong to Try and Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon

Familia Myth is what I will be referring to this as from now on but having the full title is useful.

So in no particular order these are its titles.

Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? - Eng Title
Danjon ni Deai o Motomeru no wa Machigatteiru DarĊ ka - Long Title
DanMachi - Shortended Title

Familia Myth is the anime adaption of a light novel series from SB Creative – GA Bunko. The anime series had an initial 13 episode run and started broadcasting on April 4th.

PLOT

The story follows the exploits of Bell Cranel, a 14-year-old solo adventurer under the goddess Hestia. As the only member of the Hestia Familia, he works hard every day in the dungeon to make ends meet while seeking to improve himself. He looks up to Aiz Wallenstein, a famous and powerful swordswoman who once saved his life, and with whom he fell in love. He is unaware that several other girls, deities and mortals alike, also develop affections towards him; most notably Hestia herself.

WHY I CHOSE IT

I was not sure about this show at first but decided to give it a try and when I checked it out on the various anime sites I saw that word most dreaded of anime fans "

WHAT I THOUGHT

I was not sure about it at first and even a look at that cover was a bit off putting somehow I could sense the harem issues but after a bit of back and forth probably 2/3 of the way into its run I took the plunge. The show is not a harem at least it is not the only thing it is. It really can be described as the typical male anime protagonist gradually proving himself and rising up through the ranks, this story has been told dozens of times but I was entertained all the same.

If I could de-construct DanMachi into its constituent parts and look at them I would probably come out having no idea how the show manages to work as well as it does. It is also interesting because this is basically an anime version of most fantasy JRPGs. The idea of experience and talent trees are presented in an interesting way.


Bell Cranel is the protagonist of the show and starts out as a level 1 adventurer (yes they have levels) who is just beginning his career. He is a nice if oblivious dude which should give you some idea of the character arc you’ll watch but still he is compelling to watch.


Hestia is a god one of the pantheon who came down to the world at some stage in the past to live with humans. She’s called the “Loli-God” down to looking like a kid, those ponytails and her other apparent assets. I couldn’t tell you why other than the obvious but she makes me uncomfortable, it is not the first time I’ve see Lolita with overly large breasts but her body combined with her personality makes it super weird.


Ais Wallenstein is the superstar of the world of Dungeon and considered to be one of the top adventurers as well as one of the most beautiful who Bell falls for in the first episode.

So to settle up if you like adventure anime and JRPGs then DanMachi is a show that is worth checking out. This initial season looks good for a renewal though I can’t confirm that. So just remember that as I said before this is so much more than a harem show.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

FRIDAY NIGHT FIGHTS End Of Season Event

This Saturday was the End of Season 2 Event of Friday Night Fights – the free Fighting Game Community event hosted by Xtreme Gaming Colchester.


At the end of every Season (16 weeks or so) we hold a special event with a tournament and give out prizes to the top 3 placed players as well as a raffle earned through a points based system.
This was my first full season as I joined the first in the middle and I feel like that made a world of difference.

Season 2 consisted of weekly tournaments of two games Ultra Street Fighter IV and Skullgirls. I went into the second season feeling a lot better about my chances as I now had Ultra Street Fighter IV at home and a decent Fight Pad to hone my skills.

I managed to finish 1st in the 2nd season check out the points break down below it is a league system with points for turning up on each night and for doing well in each tournament.


Season points results:
1) 82 Points, Kinneas
2) 69 Points, DW|Kuniku
3) 37 Points, MOP|C4IQ
And I won this for coming 1st.

Mad Catz F.R.E.Q Headset


Xtreme Gaming and Friday Night Fights has been a revelation for me, a very welcoming community and lots of people to talk to with shared interests and not just gaming.

You can find out more about Xtreme Gaming here.

The event featured a Mortal Kombat X and Ultra Street Fighter IV tournament I managed to finish 3rd and 2nd respectively.


Thanks to the offline practice I’ve been getting I managed to get up the courage to pit my my skills against top ranked UK players at a major tournament next week.


So definitely consider coming down if you’re based in the Essex area for a cool free night of Fighting Game Action

Thursday, April 16, 2015

What's Been Happening With Yours Truly

So there may be some hope on the horizon or at least something to inspire me. I have found out that my local gaming tournament will be hosting a qualifier in August for a major tournament one of the Capcom Tour events.



It has reignited my passion for training in Ultra Street Fighter IV where to be honest it was starting to wane. My local tournament is also about to start a new season with the addition of Mortal Kombat X so I’m hoping that will mean more numbers. More numbers means new matchups and a learning process but even if I lose at first I know I’ll improve.

On the job front things are looking… unchanged but I’m still applying and I chased down my last interview when they ignored my repeated requests for feedback in the end I received the following:

“I understand from the manager who interviewed you on the day that although you possessed a number of the essential requirements for the post, you did not satisfy all the criteria.”

That is the entirety of my feedback right there, my application, the studying before and attending the interview. I’m a little bitter I know not particularly at the institution involved but the whole process and the way candidates are treated.

So new fun fact that happened last night my phone stopped working. To supply detail there is a little internal switch thing that works behind the outside power button that fell off and now I can’t find which means it is impossible to turn the phone on. For techies sometimes you can turn a phone on by hooking it up to your computer via USB, not in my case though.

I went into town and half of it was cordoned off apparently last night someone was killed during a fight or something and I think they are looking for a murder weapon or something. Honestly my town isn’t as crazy as it sounds.


Enough about me what are you the nameless viewers out there up to at this moment?

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Feelings Of Limbo

An unsuccessful job interview has left me a bit dazed and confused. Maybe I should be used to unsuccessful interviews but that is a scary thing to get used to it feels a lot like giving up. I have been looking to more local roles as scarce as those are but those are the types of applications that you just fire and forget you don't get any acknowledgement of your application past the automatic ones made by the job site.

I've been blogging, keeping up my volunteer work it is good to keep some skills sharp. I have been working on my own project too which you can have a look at right here. I would like to widen the scope of the blog a bit but not sure how.

I feel like I can get back into the endless jobsearch grind but I will need a little break to gather myself. Things need to change as I can't keep doing this. There are some other things in the horizon some bigger projects than my volunteer work that I hope to update you on as soon as possible.

Sorry to have such a downer of a post on here I will try to make the next one be more positive.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

GAMING POST: The Salt Is Real

Picture the scene the weekly Fighting Game Tournament - Ultra Street Fighter IV being the game in question. This week one of the established Top 3 of the tournament is in attendance so things are going to get competitive. I made it through the first round but the second round brought the Top 3 guy and of course that meant it was on.

Tournament details and write-up can be found here
Venue: Xtreme Gaming

I went with my main Chun Li and he picked Cammy and things were going good with a solid win in the first round but it looks like I peaked too soon as I went on to lose dumped into the second round of losers. So yeah OK that was a loss and it stung but then I got drawn against my nemesis of sorts a Rolento player.

I don't know what camp you fall in whether you think Rolento is one big backward rolling, gimmick laden, online curse or an interesting character but he drives me mad, it becomes so much worse online as his moves go from hard to punish to pretty much invincible if you suffer any latency at all. This was of course and offline tournament so that is no excuse in this case but again despite a bright start I found myself losing in straight games.


Then the salt flowed, I'm not the kind of guy to go smashing my controller against the nearest wall or throwing my club into a pond but that didn't mean I was any less annoyed. I managed to beat that Rolento the last time we played and there were moments against Cammy where I didn't maximise my opportunities.


Still in the end the only way you can deal with this is train, train, train until you reduce the errors and turn those losses into wins so I'll hopefully be there next week playing better and winning more. The only thing that could be thought of as a positive was my win at the Skull Girls Tournament where I was expecting to go out first round.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

GAMING POST: Gaming Journal let's talk about

I haven’t written a great deal on here about video games but it is something I have taken a greater interest in. Through taking part in activities such as the regular Fighting Game Event at Xtreme Gaming and following YouTube Channels like Crosscounter.tv and Capcom Fighters I have really got into the community which is so much bigger than I expected.

I had heard about competitive gaming through things like Starcraft mostly just hearing various tales of it being professional over in Korea and it being well respected there I only knew that because I played World of Warcraft so the marketing just sort of washed over me every year during the Blizzcon hype.



All this was years ago and I never really thought that much about it I liked WoW fine but wasn’t really that much of a Starcraft fan only having played the first one a little while I was at College. It wasn’t until later just from following one person who shared my interest in anime that I found myself getting into the Fighting Game Community.


So you can now follow a little of my progress on Fighting Games on my preferred game of the moment Ultra Street Fighter IV on my gaming YouTube Channel. Views and Likes appreciated as well as any thoughts.

Next time let's talk about my limited experience of Events in the FGC.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

BOOK REVIEW: Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson

Steelheart is a 2013 novel by noted fantasy writer Brandon Sanderson. It is also the first book in The Reckoners Trilogy. The ISBN is 057510399X and the book was published by Gollancz on 26 Sept 2013. I purchased this novel.

BEWARE OF SLIGHT SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW SO READ THE BOOK BEFORE YOU READ MY REVIEW.


PLOT


Ten years ago, Calamity came. It was a burst in the sky that gave ordinary men and women extraordinary powers. The awed public started calling them Epics. But Epics are no friend of man. With incredible gifts came the desire to rule. And to rule man you must crush his wills.

Nobody fights the Epics... nobody but the Reckoners. A shadowy group of ordinary humans, they spend their lives studying Epics, finding their weaknesses, and then assassinating them.

And David wants in. He wants Steelheart - the Epic who is said to be invincible. The Epic who killed David's father. For years, like the Reckoners, David's been studying, and planning - and he has something they need. Not an object, but an experience.

He's seen Steelheart bleed. And he wants revenge.

WHY I BOUGHT IT


I bought this on the back of the incredible Mistborn series by Brandon Sanderson which lead me to believe that maybe this guy was a decent writer. That series was an excellent adventure epic with a magic system that you just have to experience to understand how creative and interesting it is. Seriously. There was even some talk of a video game adaption though I’m not sure where that is at the moment. I have also read Legion which was ok and the follow up to the Mistborn series which I hope he continues soon.


WHAT I THOUGHT


This book essentially takes a common nerd “What If” and makes it into a gloriously fleshed out thesis. That premise is what happens if Superman went bad essentially a god on earth unable to oppose. Of course if you have ever seen a Superman movie you might wonder how much more damage he could do after destroying half of downtown Metropolis but this book gives you an idea of that.

Epics
In this world those with super powers are referred to as Epics, very catchy if you ask me the important thing to remember is that if you are an Epic and you “use” your powers they corrupt you and slowly make you a worse version of yourself. Steelheart of the title is the ruler of Newcago (formerly Chicago before he took over) and is seemingly completely invulnerable having killed or subjugated anyone and everyone who has tried to take him on in the decade or so he has been in control. 

Something about Epics that is not necessarily well known is that all Epics have a weakness, yeah like Superman and Kryptonite but some of them are so weird as to be completely unguessable but it completely disables their powers rendering the high level Epics killable when usually they’re pretty much invincible.

We learn that with the emergence of Epics the United States crumbled, it would seem that much the same thing would happen across the world but in the first novel we don’t find out anything conclusive on that front.

The idea of power corrupting people is not a new one and it was one that made me thing, I love comics and I pretty much know that if I woke up one day with some non-lame powers I would quickly probably think I was godlike and do some things I shouldn’t (after thinking up a name and a costume of course).

There is also a movement in that world of people who think that eventually there will be an Epic who isn’t corrupt one who will save the normal people from the brutality of the Epics.

The Reckoners
The Reckoners are an almost mythical group of regular people who have killed a number of Epics around the US (possibly Canada?). They are a hidden network of agents who through research and observation find the weaknesses of Epics and then kill them though they tend to stick to Epics who are far from the best of the best.

The Reckoners are an interesting bunch, eccentric you could say but they are all driven but one of the things you come to learn about them by the end of the novel is the secrets built on secrets at the core of the team. You get the idea that this isn’t something that can go on indefinitely especially given what happens at the end of the book.

David
David lost his father and his innocence to Steelheart when he emerged shortly after the event known as Calamity. Steelheart killed his father after a crazy series of events lead to Steelheart being shown to bleed which seemingly hasn’t happened since. Since then David has obsessively collected information on Epics on their powers, habits, weaknesses and such which is part of his greater drive to somehow kill Steelheart and get revenge for his father.

David is an intriguing character totally focused on revenge to the exclusion of everything else you can quickly tell how socially awkward he is and the fact that he is a loner with seemingly one real friend at the beginning of the book also he has had to grow up pretty fast and though a teenager he is in a lot of ways a lot older. He also has a healthy respect for guns not in an action hero but as someone who respects the danger they represent and strives to know as much about them as possible.

One of the most interesting things about this book is the fact that it is interesting, we all know where it is going and while we don’t know if David will be successful given how powerful Steelheart is we tend to think that whether it be in this book or in later instalments we think that he will kill Steelheart even though we know the trajectory of the plot there are still more than enough subtle plot points and one or two surprises that you don’t see coming that make you glad you read through it, David is adorably awkward any time he isn’t talking directly about dealing with Epics or his research you can see the price he has paid for his obsession and it makes at least me respect him for those sacrifices.


There is so much more to the book but you know that because you have read it I hope, still to others who are fans of superhero comics and want to see a whole other take on all things cape and spandex then grab the first two books of The Reckoners Trilogy and then wait around in a small dark room until the final book Calamity is released.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

BOOK REVIEW: Firefight by Brandon Sanderson

Firefight is the second novel of the Reckoners series written by Brandon Sanderson. The series is published by Gollancz and was released on 8 January 2015. The ISBN for the book is 0385743580. I purchased this book.

PLEASE NOTE: There will be spoilers of this and the first book in the series Steelheart. So don’t read further if you haven’t read the first two books of the Reckoners series AND the novella Mitosis.



WHY I BOUGHT THIS BOOK
Steelheart (Reckoners #1) really took the idea of super powers and our traditional ideas of heroes and did something original. Add to that the lore of the world he created meant I was always going to head back once I realised it was a series.



WHAT I THOUGHT
Wow I certainly wasn’t expecting that when I heard about Firefight being released for the first time probably back in December. I was really looking forward to visiting the world of the Reckoners again and to learn more about Epics. I’m not sure how I feel about losing two of the central characters right off the bat. We may not have learned a great deal about them for the first book but then that is the point of a second book right to take the time to look at the other characters within a central cast instead we kind of discard them.

After a brief prologue of sorts in Newcago where the novella Mitosis is mentioned (so maybe check that out first if possible) we move to a whole new city. I find David frustrating some of the time I can understand why he does what he does and other times I just want to throw the book down in frustration.

Too many times he says one thing and do the complete opposite. It becomes frustrating but overall I think he is a likeable character. Perhaps it is a way of showing that he is feeling a little lost after realising his revenge against Steelheart. Also he has had to deal with the fact that he was only able to kill Steelheart through the direct help of two Epics. I just wish he would take the time to assess his thoughts on things like his approach to dealing with Epics and whether he ever intends on actually carrying out an order he gets given.

We also have to talk about Epic weaknesses which were introduced in Steelheart but were really a theme in Firefight. I bring them up because I think if you read Steelheart and Mitosis by the first third of this book you should know what the nature of all Epic weaknesses is at least the theory of it while of course not being able to know what it exactly is without a fair history of that particular Epic.

It can be frustrating when something seems so evident to a reader but that characters don’t get it especially in this case where the characters have access to all the same information that we readers do.

The things I liked about this book was the way that the Reckoners went about trying to learn about how things work in Babylar it is nice to see the methodical approach instead of just running in there with no plan even if it seems that Regalia was always two steps ahead. I have to admit that in the end her plan was complete genius and pretty difficult to stop.

The thing that bugged me other than David’s character ticks was the whole tease of David being made into an Epic. As soon as the scene started I knew this was one of those book teases where a writer proposes something that would fundamentally throw everything you know about a book or main character on its head only to lead up to edge then say no no no only kidding.

EDIT: On a whim I tweeted at Brandon Sanderson with a question. I asked him what David’s Epic name would have been should he have gone through with it and he replied that we have already heard that name in the books so far I have an idea of what it might be though it doesn't give much insight into what his powers might have been which is a shame I find myself wondering if David would qualify as a High Epic or not but we'll never know as I doubt we'll be going in that direction in the last book of the trilogy Calamity.

I finished the book being eager to find out what might be happening next in the world of the Reckoners. The last book in the Trilogy will be released next year and is called Calamity.

Monday, January 26, 2015

FILM REVIEW: Debug

Debug is a 2014 Canadian Sci-Fi Horror film written and directed by David Hewlett. If that name sounds familiar to you it is because David played Dr. Rodney Mckay in Stargate SG-1, Stargate: Atlantis and in Stargate Universe. Seriously he was 50% of the reason for watching Atlantis the other half was probably Rachel Luttrell’s abs because damn.
The film stars Jeananne Goossen, Jason Momoa, Jadyn Wong, Adrian Holmes, Sidney Leeder and Adam Butcher. Debug is distributed by Signature Entertainment and was released in the UK on 3rd November 2014.

PLOT

Six young computer hackers sent to work on a derelict spaceship, are forced to match wits with a vengeful artificial intelligence that would kill to be human.


WHY I WATCHED

I just decided to take a chance but the fact that Jason Momoa (Stargate Atlantis, Game Of Thrones, don’t mention Conan) and Jadyn Wong (crushing on since Scorpion) meant it was definitely worth a gamble. I do love my B movies they are hard to do wrong though of course it does happen.


WHAT I THOUGHT

I do love B movies I’m not sure why anyone would not like them. This is a good example of the genre a decent amount of action more than a bit of gore the story is an interesting take on the old trapped in a scary house set piece of most horror films. The Sci-Fi element makes things interesting a revamp for the modern age with it being set on a vast space ship. The size of the ship doesn’t make it feel any less claustrophobic and the hacking elements are interesting. The virtual reality stuff cranks up the horror elements too which is a nice step.
It is hard to talk about Debug without having a discussion around the fan service present in the film.

Fan Service: a term originating from anime and manga fandom for material in a series which is intentionally added to please the audience and usually refers to gratuitous titillation.



In this case I can definitely point to some fan service of the racy/sexual kind. Of course this is not unheard of for horror films and it is handled well here of course it isn’t hindered by the fact that the lead Jeananne Goossen is a stone cold fox and the other actresses are gorgeous as well. Between Jadyn Wong in a T-shirt and panties and Sidney Leeder with very little of anything on there was something for anyone who appreciated fit young women. Of course noting that there is a discussion to be held about where all the pecs and sixpacks were so fans of the male form could have their turn.

So now with that aside let’s consider the film as a whole it is a great distraction for a night in with friends and definitely worth taking the time to check out. The gorgeous actresses on show don’t hurt either. So Sci-Fi fan? Horror fan? Check this film out.


Sunday, January 25, 2015

Seetec Complaint And Independent Case Examiner

So there it is after well 2 years and a whole lot of follow up this week I finally got an answer to my complaint lodged with ICE (Independent Case Examiner). To find out why you only need search my blog for Seetec and do some reading on my various issues with them. 



In the end I got what is called a partially upheld complaint which according to those in the know is a win and doesn't often happen. I won’t bore you with the details as it will take me way too long to decide what I can and cannot share but what I will say is that it is a lot of work to get that partial victory and the way Seetec twists the truth may not be worth the stress once you review the reasons given for the decision.

I have to thank a lot of people for supporting me through this:

- Unemployment Movement forums – great place to get general
- Refuted great website full of resources lots of guidelines
- Jobseekers Sanction Advice unfortunately not sure if they are continuing past January

Tips


If you think that you are going to go forward with a complaint there is one thing I must stress RECORD everything. My complaint to ICE took over two years and in that time I was contacted more than once and asked about things that happened over a year in the past and then asked if I have documentary evidence to prove things. It drove me mad and was a good part of the reason I think for only getting a partially upheld complaint.

As a result of my partial victory I should say that Seetec has to pay ICE £5000 apparently as well as giving me compensation for their poor service.

EDIT: Just when I thought my problems with DWP and their croneys was at an end I get a package from the DWP that I had to pay £15 to get from the post office. It was a data request that I had lodged more than a year ago. A request that should have been filled in 40 days at no cost to me.

Monday, January 19, 2015

GAMING: Something To Know About Fight Sticks

So I recently made a decent sized investment on a Fight Stick because I wanted to learn and doing it once a week wasn't cutting it. I decided on a PS3 Soul Calibut Fight Stick made by Mad Catz. The choice was down to cost I low balled a Best Offer on Ebay and got lucky. I thought it would be great to take to tournaments and such but there is an issue. the Mayflash PS2/PS3/XBox 360 convertor doesn't work with it.


I should also add that the Mayflash convertor when used on the XBox 360 won't recognise most if any of the 3rd party PS3 controllers this is because the PS3 pretty much recognises any controllers that would work on a modern PC while it seems that XBox 360 is a far more discerning device and needs purpose built controllers.



Still I definitely don't consider the Fight Stick to be a waste as I have a decent collection of Fighting Games on my PC and I am looking forward to hopefully doing some streaming subject to finishing up my computer upgrade. So just be aware that for now with pretty much all the tournaments being on the XBox 360 it pays to invest in an XBox controller of your preferred style be it pad or stick if you are thinking of doing a few tournaments.

So the Mayflash is fine if you're a dedicated PS3 player who needs to take his own controller to tournaments but only the official Sony ones and not any of the licensed variety. Hopefully that will save you some annoyance and having to try and auction off an unneeded stick.

Hope to see you guys in tournaments. I'll talk a little about our weekly tournaments next time.

Monday, January 5, 2015

FILM REVIEW: The Scribbler

[REVIEWER'S NOTE: This is not to be read before watching the film it is more for watchers of the film to get a second opinion after seeing it. Despite that there are NO SPOILERS contained within the review.]

I don't know why I decided to go for The Scribbler. I was unaware of the graphic novel it was based on which is from Image Comics if you were wondering. Also I thought Katie Cassidy was a weird choice as lead which I will go into later. Perhaps it was the Sci-fi tag and the inclusion of Eliza Dushku who I hadn't seen on a show or film since Dollhouse. I only found out just before watching that Michelle Trachtenberg would have a role in this.

I have to register my issues with Katie Cassidy, I'm not convinced by her portrayal of Laurel Lance on Arrow though she may be suffering from the Kreuk effect. Remember Smallville with Kristin Kreuk as Lana Lang she struggled in that rule in my view largely as a result of having absolutely nothing to do in the first two or three seasons past. Both Kristin Kreuk then and Katie Cassidy had incredibly charismatic co-stars that tended to become the fan favourites also Laurel and Oliver didn't have chemistry. Anyway this isn't a comparative study of superhero shows so let's get back to the case at hand.



PLOT

THE SCRIBBLER follows Suki (Katie Cassidy), a young woman confronting her destructive mental illness using "The Siamese Burn," an experimental machine designed to eliminate multiple personalities. The closer Suki comes to being "cured," she's haunted by a thought - what if the last unwanted identity turns out to be her?

That plot is pretty weird and the way that the film dumps you in at the deep end and you spend a fair amount of time clawing yourself back up from those depths. I find the first twenty minutes hard going but after that hump it settles down into something that is a little easier to understand.

Also at this time I have to mention the co-star in The Scribbler Garret Dillahunt (now that's a damn name) who I will always remember as the Terminator from Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles he is a huge part of the film and he is a great onscreen and helps the film to work. The rest of the film is built around crazy characters who put up and then disappear including an appearance by Michelle Trachtenberg which was cool as I hadn't seen her since the under rated crazy film that was Sexy Evil Genius.



Katie Cassidy carries this well and definitely is convincing as a woman struggling with her inner demons while trying to come to terms with her ongoing mental issues. Things get very crazy towards the end but I'll just leave you to see it for yourselves. Oh and if you happen to be a fan of Helix the Syfy show about to come back for its second season this year then you will recognize one of the cast as one of the stars from there.

The Scribbler is probably not for everyone but is a heck of a ride and definitely worth taking a chance on. See you next film readers.