Linux and Microsoft

Windows 8.1 is still being supported, and they say will be until  January 9th, 2018. Windows 7 has, according to their site, been cut off though. A terrible decision, in my opinion, given the huge success of that OS. A lot of people have jumped ship because of Windows 10, and I don’t blame them.

Linux has a bit over 3% of the market share, according to Wiki’s graphs. Linux has been gaining ground for many years, while interest in various Windows iterations is dropping. Fewer people are using Windows as time goes by.

I use Linux (PeppermintOS 7, built on Ubuntu 16.04 LTS) more than ever now; it’s my primary OS and I rarely go near Windows. Thanks to privacy and glaring security concerns, I don’t think I’ll ever feel safe using Windows anymore, despite having used and loved them since Windows 3.1 at primary school. Linux has opened my eyes to a new way, ‘though it wasn’t an easy journey.

I don’t like the way Microsoft conducts their business and I don’t think they care about the customers at all, only money. I find them deceptive, manipulative, and underhanded.

Linux, however, is open source; it’s all about sharing, creativity, and freedom. There’s even a Hannah Montana distribution; ridiculous? Sure, but wonderful that someone was able to create that and freely share it. At least if you don’t like a developer of your chosen distribution, you can jump to another; it’s not like you’re short of options.

That said, I am, or at least was a gamer. I still dabble. I’d need Windows for gaming. Linux does support games, and I do have Steam on it, but the graphical performance in many games seems terrible or lackluster in comparison, at least in my experience.

I have a feeling I’ll eventually just let go of the many Windows-only games on my Steam account and stick with Linux indefinitely. I barely game anymore anyway.

With Linux gradually gaining ground and Windows steadfastly losing it, that leaves Linux an opportunity to really step up. I think it needs some serious work in both gaming performance and a more approachable UI for those uninterested in the command line interface (Terminal) before it’ll have a shot at some day besting Windows.

I’m all for choice though, so if Microsoft is offering what you want, that’s fine. There’s a lot of Linux fans that generally make it all really personal against users of Windows and probably Mac too, but that’s not where I’m coming from here — not at all.

My issue is with Microsoft.

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Screw You, Technology

I’m so sick and tired of technology.

How is it, after all these fantastic years of discovery and advancements, we have computers so smart they get sent into space, yet here on planet Earth, this Toshiba laptop refuses to use official drivers from two official locations, both Toshiba’s site and AMD’s site, on an operating system with which it was originally sold?

I’m fed up of Windows troubles. I’m sick of Skype not working; dying on Android then dying on my PC for seemingly no reason with no decent help to be found online, for others too. Messages not getting sent or received, calls being dropped, video failing to show, and surely more issues have plagued my various Skype installations for too long.

I’m sick of Microsoft with their questionable business decisions and obnoxious software changes, forcing us into some crap for which some of us frankly don’t give a shit. What exactly was so wrong with Windows Live Messenger with Plus! which worked so well, looked fantastic, and was so popular? Don’t even get me started on the initial XBOX One fiasco!

I’ve had enough of troubleshooting; having to test, remember each and every setting in-case the computer implodes at any given moment, and trying to figure out just how technology has somehow screwed me.

I’m sick of companies like Google sticking their noses up something that was perfectly fine the way it was! Sure, because we really needed Google+ and Google’s interference with what was a perfectly fine and dandy system on YouTube. Yeah, I said it.

Use Linux! I hear you shout. Well, I’ve ran into arguably more issues there than I ever have with modern Windows (7 and 8.1) so I have no clue what the hell to think of Linux. Crash after freeze after failed installation mixed with a terminal and computer jargon with which most probably don’t care to deal—not fun.

I’m tired of technology advancing so fast, making you spend so much money just to play games in a stable and pleasant way, despite having spent a sizable chunk of dosh to have a decent experience. Assuming, of course, the damn companies don’t make a complete and utter, dire, joke of a mess of these so-called AAA games; stutter, horrendous FPS on solid machines, CtDs, freezes, errors, corrupted saves, and so much more await many a modern PC gamer.

Technology, kindly go home, because you’re well and truly wankered.

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Are You Addicted to Gaming?

Now that I’m over here on Disqus—a popular site for, you guessed it, discussing things—I’m able to come across some interest topics and give my own 2 cents.

I stumbled across this post and thought I’d take the quiz (originally listed at this address) myself! Am I addicted to gaming? So, feel free to copy the 20 questions and fill in your own answers; I’m sure the OG wouldn’t mind, provided you added a link back.

Do you often re-live gaming experiences or think about future ones?

Not anymore, but I used to!

Do you hide or lie about your gaming?

Nope. I’m pretty honest about it, really.

Do you get very angry when someone or something interrupts a game?

Nah. I might’ve been pretty pissy in the past, as a kid, but not anymore.

Have you ever taken a break from gaming and binged uncontrollably upon your return?

Uncontrollably? I dunno, perhaps in the past.

When upset, do you soothe yourself with games or plans to game?

Yeah, sometimes, but hopefully that’s not a sign of addiction, rather, a coping mechanism.

Do you find yourself gaming in the early morning?

This sort of depends on one’s sleeping pattern, surely? I sometimes do, or more particularly, used to, especially during the night and day, but not so much now as I tend to do other things, like create blog entries for nobody to read!

Do you find ways to game when away from home?

Nope. I prefer PC and sadly I cannot take that with me wherever I go. I don’t game on my phone and have no portable gaming devices such as a PSP.

Do you set limits with gaming and then break them, playing hours longer than intended?

I used to, yes. I remember once trying to go on a long break from gaming. I think I lasted a month or something, gradually adding in one game every week, but old ones, in order to play less and appreciate them more.

Do you lose hours of sleep to gaming?

I certainly used to, a lot, as a kid especially, but not so much now.

Have you called in sick or late to work or skipped classes to game?

Nope. At least one time, I likely was late for college or school because of a game, or because I slept in, being so tired from staying up so late on games.

Have you sworn off a game, uninstalled it, and later returned to it?

Absolutely, but surely we’ve all done that? I did that with Runescape. I “quit” after the huge combat overhaul, then came back some years later. I’m not “into” it now, but once in a while I’ll log in to the German server and use it as something to do and a means of practice.

Do you feel guilt and shame around your gaming?

I used to, and I think if I did now, it’d be because of how I was, how addicted I’ve been to games like Terraria, Dungeon Defenders, Diablo II, Path of Exile, and of course Runescape.

Does gaming contribute to arguments in your relationships?

What relationship? Heh.. heh heh… heh… no, that hasn’t been an issue, thankfully. I like a woman who can appreciate a good game, anyway.

Has gaming taken the place of any hobbies or sports you used to enjoy?

I don’t think so. Sometimes I procrastinate by using a game, but don’t we all?

Do you forget appointments, responsibilities or deadlines in work or school when gaming?

Of course, who doesn’t?

Do you become irritated and defensive when people suggest you might be gaming too much?

Um, I probably did back in the day, but no, not now. If I’m gaming too much, I usually am aware of it because I sleep worse and forget responsibilities.

Have your hours spent gaming increased over time?

Well yes, obviously. Time does sort of go forward. If I no longer spent time gaming, I wouldn’t be a gamer, and I certainly wouldn’t be filling out this questionnaire! But seriously? Nope, they’ve drastically lessened, if anything. Gettin’ old, now.

Do you blow off social events to game?

I probably have in the past, such as not visiting my best mate because of Diablo II; that game was dangerous to one’s health.

Have you lost contact with friends and family since gaming?

Don’t think so. Gaming tends to be a way I can connect with people, rather than disconnect.

Do you have intense feelings (highs, lows, anger, fear) while gaming?

Intense? I may need clarification of what you class as intense. Off-hand, I’d say that 100% used to happen when I was younger, and perhaps later on, but nowadays, not so much.

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Gamification und Gamifizieren [ENG/GER]

Ich benutze Spiele hin und wieder um mein Deutsch zu verbessern, aber es ist nicht die volle Geschichte. Warum? Na, weil ich noch viele Arbeit machen muss, die Worte und die Grammatik zu lernen. Davon suche ich bei Google und anderen Seiten nach die Sinn und Klarheit der Wörtern und so.

Das Gute über das Lernen einer Sprache beim Spielen eines Spiels auf die Sprache die man lernen willst, ist, dass man etwas neues vielmals wieder lesen und hören kann, was sehr hilfreich ist, da der Fokus auf die Erinnerung von etwas liegt.

Repetition is key, sag ich immer. Warum nicht lernen und spielen gleichzeitig?

Auch gibt es etwas anderes, an das man denken könnte, …but I’ll explain in English. It’s just tricky for me to explain this in German:

As I understand it, basically, (or not) when we achieve something, our brain releases a chemical called Dopamine; the feel-good chemical. We have it wired into us that when we achieve something, we feel good. It makes sense for our survival, when you think about it: if a tiger were to chase us, then we got away, I’d imagine we’d feel pretty damn good about it! It has encouraged us to devise new ways by which to survive, and even to attract a mate in order to reproduce and, ultimately, survive.

So, what I’m getting at here, is that if you feel good about discovering or understanding something new or challenging, there’s a good chance that thing will stick, because it’s important to us. You can look at it as survival or the simpler psychology of something having meaning to us on a level deep enough that we’d remember, such as associating words with something that is important to us, emotionally. Ever notice how we easily remember the bad stuff? It’s because it sucks! Sometimes so hard that you cannot forget it; it seems to have, at least sometimes, the most impact.

The reason all this is so important for learning via gaming, is because gaming can often illicit emotional responses, such as excitement, a sense of reward or accomplishment, anger, fear, and so on; these are key to remembering something because it’s not just a word, it’s a feeling. This goes doubly so when you incorperate all this, socially, into an MMORPG in which there are many opportunities to “feel” and therefore learn, not to mention cooperate.

Bit rambly, but I hope you get the Idee.

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Humble Bundle Incorporates Questionable Business Practice

I’m a bit annoyed with Humble Bundle’s latest endeavor. They’re charging $12 on a monthly subscription for completely random games. They state on their website “a highly curated bundle of our favorite games at one fixed price. Includes everything from recent hits to hidden gems to timeless classics – every month.”

Note the last two categories, which they state are “hidden gems” and “timeless classics”; scrub away the persuasive language and this clearly translates to “ancient games and budget indie games most people probably won’t know or care about.”

They state the games are “suitable” for Windows and “sometimes more!” so, pray tell, what good is that for people without Windows, those who prefer to game on Linux, or even people who, for whatever reason, use Mac for games? Incidentally, what good are Linux or Mac games to Windows users who, for the most part, aren’t going to bother with other operating systems?

What happens if I already have the games? This is a likely issue when you follow a service like Humble Bundle which frequently recycle the same games—after all, there’s only so many games out there that actually grab people’s attention.

I consider this a middle finger up at gamers. It’s clearly driven by greed and it’s a disgusting practice that I thought was non-existent in Humble Bundle. Oh, but it’s OK because some money goes to charities!

5%.

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Am I Too Old to Play Games?

I’m currently twenty-eight years old, almost twenty-nine, and I enjoy gaming as I have done since I was a kid. Occasionally, the Internet tells me I’m too old for gaming, that I shouldn’t be doing this, should be doing that, and recommends that I, “get a life.” Is this fair? I don’t think so; at least that’s the opinion which I voice. Deep down, like I often do, I doubt myself. So here I am, asking the question: am I too old to play games?

I think in order to attempt an answer to this question, I also have to enter into the debate of whether games are potentially a positive influence on us, helping us in various ways that actaully can make quite the difference.

But I'm so wound up!

When you’re stressed or outright angry, should you go out to the pub to get bladdered and start a fight with that local Scottish guy who keeps telling you how boney things are? Ach nae—you’re better off whipping out some hardcore games, sitting your arse in-front of a computer or TV, taking hold of that controller, and frantically smashing those buttons until you’ve had your fill. I think this works in my favor, because games are, for me, a stress-reliever, amongst other things.

What if I have no friends?

Come on, let’s face it, you’re sat at home playing World of Warcraft because there’s a big, scary world out there, with real, animated people who can physically interact with you. No? Well, I wager some of you—OK, let’s be frank—a lot of you, myself included, perhaps don’t have the best social lives, be it because we’re socially inept or simply too busy, … playing games. Whatever the reason is, there’s no denying that games offer us an alternative way in which to socialize, and so this is a point in my favor.

I played Gran Tourismo so now I can drive in real life!

Luckily, there’s a real license to acquire before one can legally drive. Behind the facetious subheading, what I’m really saying is that there is much to learn from games. I did actaully learn a lot about cars from Gran Tourismo. My dad, having a history as a mechanic, knows a lot about cars, and as such, was only too happy to tell me when I was speaking nonsense, but, surprisingly often, Gran Tourismo did a lot right. OK, you might argue that if I wanted to learn about cars, I needed only to go to college and learn such knowledge from Prof. Fancypants; well, good sir or madam, if I might interject! Isn’t playing a game a metric crap-ton more fun when it comes to learning, not to mention, as a result, more successful at teaching us things? Here’s some paraphrasing of what Wiki has to say about Gamification:

Gamification has been studied and applied in several domains, with some of the main purposes being to engage, teach, entertain, measure, and to improve the perceived ease of use of information systems.

Come on! That says it all, right? I’m sure if you dig deeper, you’ll find lots of positive studies that show how helpful it can be to play and learn, but don’t just take my word for it, or the word from the people with fancy qualifications, but instead try it for yourself!

As has been mentioned elsewhere on Taut with Thought, I’m interested in languages, specifically, English and German, but I’ve tip-toed into Dutch and French. I’m by no means a polyglot, but gamification helped me a lot with my German.

There’s a website called Duolingo that I would strongly recommend to anybody learning another language. Duolingo won’t do it all for you, but what it offers is truly useful—I think perhaps the most useful thing from Duolingo, is the community, some of whom offer sound, informative advice. I’ve also had some gamification from actaully playing regular games, like MMORPGs, but in German! The entire client all set in German, playing on German servers. Since I can’t go to Germany, that’s almost as close as I’ll get to immersing myself into the language.

My point, ladies and gentlemen, is that gamification often works, which I believe gives a solid point in my favor.

Thanks to gaming, I learned what morality means!

Admittedly, it’s probably not a great idea to base your entire moral compass on games like Grand Theft Auto, in which you eventually discover that you can get laid for the grand price of zilch, if you simply whack the hooker once you’ve done the nasty.

Wait! Put down the bat, inhale, and step away from that there dame. I’m saying Grand Theft Auto is the bad kind of thing from which to learn! Dammit, go back to your games— you’ve got more to learn about morality, son.

The thing is, and this is just a theory that just now cropped up deep within my brain, but what if games don’t teach us morality, so much as give us the opportunity to find our own morality? Perhaps you are a psychopath who enjoys boning then maiming your local prozzie; hey, that’s cool, because you discovered that from within a wonderful, vibrant game world.

I am of course mostly joking, but I think there remains a point here, somewhere, but I’m somewhat on the fence—what do you think?

Age is just a number, though.

Now that I’ve established some positive things to take from gaming, it’s time to add into the factor of age.

As we all too often see, there are a great many games that contain adult themes, such as sex, disturbing scenes, frightening imagry, and other such messed-up kit that you most definitely shouldn’t show a young child. With this in mind, doesn’t that then mean that a lot of games have been intentionally made more adult-friendly?

While a young child shouldn’t really play Grand Theft Auto, an adult sure as hell can! What about those freaky movies y’all watch on your little flick-box? What about the saucy material you read about late at night, alone, in the dark?—your sticky book made visible only by the moonlight glimming through the window pane. Come on, whether you’re in your 20s or 90s, it shouldn’t make a difference.

I just don't have the time!

Yet, you have the time to watch TV, read books, and to go out for the sole reason of getting bladdered—are you just making excuses for yourself? Games aren’t some shady, top secret you have to hide in a dark corner of your dank cellar amongst your shackled family and the used bog roll you just can’t help but to buy from eBay; that’s a thing, right?

To conclude:

Gaming may have started off as a gimmick for the incredibly bored youth of the 1970s, but that doesn’t mean we’re still living in such times.

A lot of the comments I get about my age and gaming come from kids, funnily enough; I put this squarely down to the fact that they—kids in general—have an idea that adults are all boring and serious, to which I profess: “Hell no!”

I honestly think that, logically, there shouldn’t be anything wrong with adults who enjoy playing games. I just see gaming as yet another form of entertainment, just like watching the TV, listening to music, or setting orphanages on fire.

If you’re an old fart like me and you still enjoy the odd gaming session here and there, I say go for it; ignore the kids and stuffy adults who tell you otherwise.

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A Gamer’s Nostalgia

I can’t decide if I’m taken away by nostalgia, or have just aged to the point at which I see things for what they are, as opposed to the clouded view I had as a child. That said, perhaps I also have a clouded view as an adult, due to how things were when I was a kid?

I’ve played a lot of games, over many consoles and PC setups, ranging from one of the Atari consoles, to a modern gaming PC. I still enjoy some games I play today, however, nothing will compare to some of the gaming experiences I’ve had in the past.

The first time I played Silent Hill on the PlayStation and found myself haunted by nightmares of those super-creepy creatures to which you’re introduced early on in the game—in my defense, I was far too young for such a freaky, gory game!

Silent Hill Bild
A typically gloomy look of Silent Hill that still makes me cringe.

The Metal Gear Solid franchise, when it was, as I would consider, its prime. Playing those Metal Gear Solid games was a lot of fun for me, mixed with the odd mental breakdown here and there, as I tried to get past all the VR missions and snag every dog tag; never again!

I think Metal Gear Solid appeals to a lot of males that secretly dream of being someone as badass as Solid Snake. Hideo Kojima did an absolutely fantastic job captivating people’s hearts and imaginations with this series, and I certainly hope the upcoming game, Metal Gear Solid 5 – The Phantom Pain, will live up to the name, and set itself apart from the many ‘AAA’ games that have been disappointing us with a torrent of bugs, performance issues, and subjectively lack-luster gameplay.

The RPGs, like Jade Cocoon 1 and 2; Final Fantasy 6, all the way up to X-2, which still stands at the latest Final Fantasy game I’ve played; Star Ocean – Till the End of Time, the game on which I had my first experience of what we now tend to refer to as ‘achievements’; and so many more games!

Playing Final Fantasy 8 actually inspired me to write a novel, rather hilariously called, “The Isle of Fantisle.” I was a kid, my English skills were terrible, and all I had with which to tell such a silly story, was an old typewriter and a small amount of ink which I couldn’t replace. I got seven A4 pages in before calling it quits, and to be frank, it was appalling but laughably so! Here’s an exerpt:

Where am i? Huh whats that? As i try to focus my eyes i see a dark figure holding some sort of stick like a javilen. I turn around to get my barings and to see where i am but when i look back the misterious figure dissapears. “Hello?” I asked with a frightened pitch to my voice as i haddn’t spoke since the shipwreck. No answer.

I think it’s safe to say I wouldn’t have won any awards for that, but hey, those were times long before I ever had the Internet, or even much Internet access! I think I was somewhere between 13 and 15 years old.

Playing Gran Tourismo 3 and 4. To this day, I still remember how exhilarating it was to race for 2 hours straight, and how unbelievably satisfying the end was, when you were awarded a car, some cash, and the right to shout, “I did it!”

One of the many cars you can race to your heart's content.
One of the many cars you can race in Gran Tourismo 4 to your heart’s content.

It was through playing and going on about Gran Tourismo that prompted my dad to plonk me in the driver seat of his very-real Vauxhall Astra van so I could experience what it would be like in real life. Funnily enough, I still don’t drive.

The demos! Never have I ever experienced the excitement and torture of playing a demo, than the days of old, when I would spam the first Siphon Filter, or the first Colin McRae Rally game. Nowadays, you don’t see a great deal of demos, or perhaps I’m looking in all the wrong places.

I have so many fond memories of gaming as a kid. Sure, I have since gathered more gaming memories, but nothing stands up to those first experiences and the increased inclination towards actually using my imagination; perhaps that’s what it’s about? Maybe gaming hasn’t changed all that much, besides the new technologies, and maybe we’ve simply ‘been there, done that’ so much that it’s just very difficult to find something new.

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