Trying a Starbucks Reserve Coffee

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Usually my trips to Starbucks involve enjoying a latte, mocha or Frappuccino, but today I decided to try something a little different. After reading about the Starbucks Reserve store / tasting room opening in Seattle (it looks amazing) I figured I ought to try one of their Reserve roasts.

Reserve coffees are described as “the finest coffees” they offer and as “exquisite and rare.” They are made in a special brewer and from beans sourced from a single location. The drinks are priced in the same range as lattes and mochas (about $3-4).

I asked for the barista to recommend a dark coffee to try and ended up getting the Sumatra Lake Toba coffee. I’m no expert in describing taste, but I can say it’s strong and dark yet smooth and doesn’t taste burnt. I’ve had plenty of dark coffees that taste burned, so it’s nice that it can taste strong and yet still be smooth.

I’m interested in trying more Reserve coffees, so if you have any recommendations throw them my way in a comment. I may also have to purchase some beans at some point and get a coffee grinder.

 

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My ‘Halo and Brews’ Twitch Broadcast from last night

Last night I celebrated the return of the SWAT playlist to the Master Chief Collection with a ‘Halo and Brews’ Twitch Broadcast where I enjoyed a couple Square Mile Ciders and saw my performance get worse and worse through the night. Enjoy!

(Apparently Twitch muted the second video due to copyright, so there’s that. I guess I’ll throw some YouTube music into it or something in a bit)

 

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Destiny’s The Dark Below’s lack of content hard to digest

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I really wanted to like Destiny, and to an extent I do enjoy parts of it (the shooting is solid and quite satisfying) but the game has way too many downfalls for it to be enjoyable. I could go into extensive detail, but I’ll just list off a few of Destiny’s shortcomings: Story (there is none), mission variety (you literally do the same mission over and over), the loot (nothing ever feels special), the lack of voice communication (so much for being a multiplayer game) and the lack of matchmaking in raids.

If you expected Destiny’s first expansion, The Dark Below, to make the game more enjoyable you’re probably in for a disappointment. The $20 expansion (which released this week) brings barely any new content to the game which was already lacking in content from the start. For $20 all you get are three new missions, a single strike and a single raid (and a few Crucible maps if that’s your thing). Heck, there aren’t even any new achievements added. It’s really hard to justify coughing up $20 just to breeze through a few new missions before heading into another grind where you’ll repeat the same strikes over and over again just to gain access to a single raid.

Maybe you enjoy Destiny enough to put up with all the repetitiveness, but personally I think it would take two or three more expansions just for there to be a reasonable amount of content in the game. And even then a $120 investment will get you much less bang for your buck than the $60 you could spend on an Dragon Age: Inquisition or the Master Chief Collection. If I were you I’d save your money and skip The Dark Below.

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What to do when you can’t select dialogue in Dragon Age Inquisition

So I just ran into my first major glitch in Dragon Age Inquisition. I was in a dialogue situation but could not select any options. Moving the analog stick did nothing and I couldn’t back out of the conversation. Luckily I discovered (by accident) that if I held LB it would bring up the action wheel and then while that was open I could move the stick and select an dialogue option from there. Weird, but just figured I’d share in case this happened to anyone else and you don’t want to load a save.

Best of luck!

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Fantasia: Music Evolved is more fun than I expected

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Yesterday I rented Fantasia: Music Evolved (Xbox One) with very little in mind other than to use it as a background activity while having some beers. It turns out to be more fun than I initially expected, which is a pleasant surprise. Coming from Harmonix (of Rock Band fame) I guess I should’ve known up front it would be a quality experience, but Fantasia never really ended up on my radar.

The first thing I noticed about Fantasia is that it seems quite responsive and not at all unpleasant to play (something the 360’s Kinect was somewhat notorious for). Performing the motions feels smooth and enjoyable, and I can’t get enough sweep cues and punch cues. I just enjoy doing the hand motions. The visuals are also pretty superb, and I absolutely love the effects on screen as you perform.


I apologize for the rough cut between songs in the clip above, it’s a bit jarring. 

I’m quite early in the game and it’s not overly challenging, but I assume the performances can be made to be more complex as you progress further into the game. I haven’t yet been able to check out the multiplayer mode and I haven’t unlocked composition spells yet, but I’m excited to dive deeper into the Fantasia experience. I’m just hoping we’ll continue to see some quality Kinect games now that Microsoft has unbundled the Kinect.

If you’re looking for a fun family friendly Kinect experience this holiday season, I highly recommend checking out Fantasia: Music Evolved. If you want some more great Kinect experiences, both Just Dance 2015 and Dance Central Spotlight make for an enjoyable time.

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An annoying trend with SiriusXM lately

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Just a few weeks ago the Foo Fighters were set to take over the station Lithium to promote the release of their latest album, Sonic Highways. This would’ve been fine, however it seemed like SiriusXM as a whole would stop at nothing to promote the takeover and the album. Foo Fighters were getting played regularly on channels that I’ve never heard play the Foo Fighters (or at least not very often) such as Octane and Faction. It seemed like every time I got into my car I was hearing “Something From Nothing” on just about any station I turned to. If I wanted to listen to the Foo Fighters, I would’ve tuned into Lithium and listened to them there.

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Not only was “Something From Nothing” receiving an abnormal amount of airplay all over the place, but every station was promoting the Foo Fighters takeover excessively. You could easily hear a plug for the takeover what seemed like several times an hour, all day, all over the place. It quickly got on my nerves.

Now AC/DC has taken over Classic Rewind and it seems the same thing that happened with the Foo Fighters is repeating. I can’t say that I’ve ever heard AC/DC receive airplay on Octane, but over the last few days I’ve heard “Rock or Bust” on Octane more often than it should be. I’m not saying it’s terrible, heck I enjoy it a lot more than the Foo Fighters, and the band fits in better on Octane than the Fighters, but still I feel like money and promotion is causing songs to get preferential treatment over the music listeners might actually want to hear.

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I understand this is nothing new to radio, but I always felt like satellite radio was at least just a little above that. I’ve listened to Sirius for several years, and maybe this has been happening for awhile, but it seems like it’s been getting more frequent lately.

I know I’m not the only one reacting this way. For example Octane has had exclusive content from In This Moment and Twelve Foot Ninja recently and around the time those events aired both bands saw an abnormal spike in airplay. Posts promoting the bands on Octane’s Facebook page saw an overwhelmingly amount of negative comments about both bands. For as often as they promote the Octane “Air Force”, where listeners get a say in what should be played more often and what shouldn’t, it’s difficult to believe they really listen to their audience’s feedback when these promotions take over the airwaves and the music their listeners want to hear gets put on a back burner.

More often than not lately I find myself plugging my phone in and listening to Spotify where I can control what I want to listen to. Most of the time I do still enjoy listening to SiriusXM, but I’m getting a little sick of having all this promotional stuff shoved down my throat over and over again. Anyone else feel the same lately?

 

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Halo Master Chief Collection matchmaking is STILL slow (5 December)

So after yet another patch this week, Master Chief Collection’s matchmaking issues have still not been eradicated. It’s been slightly better than it was launch week (nearly a month ago), but not by much. I’ve managed to get into 3 matches today, but the latest patch now forces you to back out and search for a match again after every match. You cannot stay in the same lobby after a match. Not only does this slow down the matchmaking process further, it also harms the multiplayer experience.

If you have a close match or a good team you’re out of luck after the end of the match. You’re forced to press B backing you out to the matchmaking menu where you’ll have to start the search for a match all over again. This is severely disappointing. It can be quite difficult to group up with a good group of players and to be forced to disband the lobby after every match is just ridiculous.

Also waiting two or more minutes for a match only to have it spontaneously end after the loading screen is not cool. You can see my latest attempt to get into a match below.

I guess I should just play more Advanced Warfare…

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Where is Telltale’s Game of Thrones on Xbox One?

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If you’re an Xbox One owner and were looking forward to checking out episode one of Telltale’s Game of Thrones adventure game today, you might be slightly disappointed. Although it’s been released on PC and PS4 today, it won’t make it to the Xbox One until tomorrow, December 3rd. It’s not too long to wait, but it’s unfortunate that we have to wait awhile longer to play the highly anticipated game.

Game of Thrones will also be released on iOS on Thursday, the fourth.

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Pre Funk, a great place for beers in Boise

I have driven past the Pre Funk bar in Boise countless times and have always wanted to give it a try, but never made it out there until just last weekend. I don’t go out to bars very often any more, however there was something about the look of Pre Funk that made me want to learn more. It also helps that being only a mile away from my house it’s within walking distance.

We had dinner plans on Friday so we decided we would walk over to Pre Funk and give it a try before walking downtown for dinner. Before heading out I did a Google search to find out what exactly Pre Funk had to offer and I was quite impressed. Pre Funk offers an extensive list of craft beers, most of which I had previously never heard of (check out their tap list). I’m not very adventurous when it comes to drinking, and I tend to stick to handful of beers (Yuengling on the East Coast, Corona, Sam Adams or Smith and Forge Hard Cider out here where Yuengling can’t be found). Pre Funk is a great place to discover something new.

I tried out the Square Mile Cider, which is a rather new beer and company out of Oregon. I immediately fell in love. It was cold, refreshing, smooth and easy to drink yet still tasted like beer as opposed to an overly sweet hard cider. I loved it so much I didn’t allow myself to try anything else the rest of the night. I had a few before dinner and had to stop off on the way home to get one more before calling it a night.

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The bar is housed in a former garage and I really enjoyed the atmosphere, lighting and outdoor seating. Pre Funk is quite clean, and wasn’t loud of obnoxious at all during our visit. There was a nice variety of music playing at a comfortable volume, and the atmosphere almost feels like a Starbucks for beer drinkers. In fact Pre Funk’s ‘about‘ page describes the bar as “the party before the party… Come here before you go there” and I think that’s a great description. It’s a great place to go and grab a few awesome beers before or after dinner and enjoy good conversation in a wonderful atmosphere. I absolutely love the view from the outdoor seating area at night, I adore viewing the city while enjoying a great beer.

Pre Funk Boise outdoor seating

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In case you were hoping to play Halo: It’s still broken

I have many fond memories of spending Thanksgiving nights playing Halo with family members, and if you were hoping to relive your own Halo festivities this Thanksgiving with Master Chief Collection you’ll probably be disappointed.

Despite yet another patch getting released yesterday, I am STILL unable to get into any Master Chief Collection matches. I’ve been trying for the last ten minutes (entirely too long) and have gotten nowhere.

I did however get stuck with the Connection Failed message that is now appearing behind all of the menus and won’t go away, so there’s that.

Master Chief Collection Connection Failed

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