My ‘Vegas Vacation’ (of sorts)

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My month in Las Vegas comes to a close this weekend, and I’m both incredibly excited to return to Boise ¬†and a bit sad to say goodbye to the wonderful city of Vegas. I jokingly call it a vacation, but in reality I’ve been down here for Red Flag.

I had never visited Vegas before, so a lot of my preconceptions about the city were formed from TV and film. I expected the strip to be extravagant while also wild and lawless. The city ended up being much more tame than I imagined, which was surprising.

First of all I was incredibly surprised by the amount of children I saw on the strip, even late on Friday nights. There are kids everywhere, even in the casinos. I saw a ton of children in their early teens wandering around the casino floors on their own during all parts of the day which I didn’t expect at all. It almost made me feel a little awkward carrying around a 50 oz margarita in a souvenir cup shortly after noon. Almost.

50 oz margarita souvenir cup vegas

It was a bit jarring to see children with their parents pass by the guys on the street corners and pedestrian bridges peddling escort cards. One evening we were walking back behind a family as two young boys trailed their parents gawking at the cards of naked women discarded all over the ground.

The city was not nearly as wild as I had imagined it would be. Sure you can carry drinks up and down the strip at any time of the day, however there were no crazy Hangover like moments to be witnessed. There were groups of scantily clad parading bachelorette parties, and as amusing as it was to watch them drunkenly stumble down the strip, the majority of the foot traffic consisted of families and tourists.

Ultimately, Las Vegas is just another tourist attraction, not unlike Times Square. In fact, the street performers, costumed characters taking ‘tips’ in exchange for pictures and all of the people trying to push their mixtapes on everyone passing by reminded me all too much of the annoying parts of every New York City trip.

It may sound like my Vegas experience was overly negative, but that’s not true at all. My impressions were way off, but I still had a great time!

I didn’t really fall in love with the city until Vanessa visited this past weekend. I’m staying on base for work, so only really experienced the city on the weekends, and this past weekend was the best yet! We stayed at the Luxor Friday and Saturday night and packed a ton of fun into the weekend before she had to fly back Sunday.

I had a great time enjoying drinks by (and in) the pool Friday afternoon. Standing in the water sipping an ice cold margarita in the blistering sun was pretty awesome (though we payed for it with some mild sunburn).

Gambling was fun, but luck certainly wasn’t with me. I played roulette for the first time and failed miserably. I had my mind set on a number (15) and the first table I walked up to it hit my number before I could place a bet. This was frustrating and put the dangerous “I could’ve won big” thought into my mind. After throwing a few $10 minimum bets at 15 on another table I decided to call it quits. Before we left my friend and I bet red and black, figuring one of us would win at least. It hit 0. I decided to try roulette again and Vanessa won money rather quickly at the table. I figured I’d stick to just betting colors, and kept betting red. It hit black six times in a row, which seemed absurd, and on my final bet the game decided to spit in my face by landing on 0. I don’t think I’ll ever play roulette again.

Slot machines were much more fun, and on some machines $20 could last almost an hour and bring in a few free Coronas. Earlier in the trip I made the mistake of buying my own beers in the casinos, while also gambling. Being impatient doesn’t really pay in Vegas.

Friday night we saw Blue Man Group which was a blast. I had seen them in Orlando before, and while much of the show was similar, there were a few new things. We were seated behind a family with something like four kids who kept screaming and talking loudly, which again was annoying (why so many kids in Vegas??) but the worst part was the mom kept taking pictures and posting them to Facebook every few minutes. Nothing ruins a show quite like a phone popping up in your view followed by the bright light emanating from Facebook. Not cool.

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Saturday was just as exciting. We gambled a bit more and headed to New York, New York to check out the roller coaster. Vanessa had never ridden a roller coaster, and had always been deathly afraid. With a lot of convincing we got day passes and eventually made it onto the ride(with a lot of kicking and screaming from her!). As we were ascending we saw the thick smoke from the pool fire at The Cosmopolitan (well I did, her eyes were shut). The roller coaster was fun, although at times painful because of the sunburn. We rode again awhile later and intended to ride it once at night as well, but the line was absurdly long later that night and we were exhausted so we skipped it.

We met up with some of Vanessa’s friends for dinner at Hash House a go go which was delicious, and after the meal I was asked if I wanted a to go cup for my margarita. Only in Vegas! I ended up pouring it into my empty 50 oz souvenir cup and we headed to the High Roller observation wheel. The wheel was wonderful, and we spent an awesome thirty minutes taking in the view of the city after sunset. I highly recommend riding the wheel. We arrived shortly after 8PM and there wasn’t much of a line at all, but as we disembarked half an hour later the line was incredibly long. I definitely recommend heading there just as the sun sets, it’s wonderful.

high roller observation wheel vegas

This ended up being a little long-winded so I’ll simply wrap up by saying it’s been a great month in Vegas, but last weekend was one of the most incredible experiences I’ve had anywhere. I can’t wait to make a return trip to Vegas, but until next time, thanks for the memories!

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Madden 15 ‘this file cannon be loaded’ fix

madden 15 this file cannot be loaded

I’ve recently been playing Madden 15 regularly again and when I tried to load up my connected franchise today I was hit with the error above (This file cannot be loaded because it was created with a differente version of the game.). The game hadn’t downloaded any updates that I was aware of, so I was a little panicked. I always keep both an autosave and a manual save of my franchise so I tried loading up the manual save and was hit with the same error. After that I was really panicked. I was mid way through my fourth season and had had an outstanding career so far.

I searched around and couldn’t find any clear solution to the problem. Some posts from 2014 mentioned deleting the latest roster updates, which I did, however this didn’t fix the problem. I also tried completely restarted my Xbox One, but still had the problem.

Ultimately I was able to fix the issue by deleting my Madden 15 save data from the console and downloading it from the cloud again. To do this press start on the Madden 15 icon in your games and apps and select manage game. From there go over to save data and select it to delete it. Make sure you delete the local files only, not both (which will delete your backup!). After I did this I restarted Madden 15 and after it finished syncing the data my save file worked again.

Hopefully this will work for anyone else who has encountered this problem. Thank goodness for the cloud!!

FIFA 16’s cover featuring Alex Morgan

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This year marks not only the first time the FIFA series will feature women’s teams (in the form of 12 national teams) but also the first time a female athlete has graced the cover of a mainstream sports game.

FIFA is one of the best selling video games in the world, so it’s pretty cool to see a female athlete featured predominantly on the cover and it’s even cooler to see the women’s national teams make it into the game. Hopefully this is the first step of many to expand the focus beyond just male athletes in EA Sports games.

I really like the cover, featuring Alex Morgan of the United States national team. I’m honestly a little tired of seeing Messi on the cover, I think they could’ve given Morgan the cover on her own to celebrate the women’s team World Cup victory.

I’m excited for FIFA 16 to release this Fall, and I can’t wait to see this cover in my digital game collection. Congratulations Alex Morgan!

Final Fantasy X HD: Just getting started

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I’ve been slowly making my way through Final Fantasy X HD on the Vita recently. Final Fantasy X was actually my first Final Fantasy game, back in high school (I first rented it from Blockbuster in 2004). I fell in love with the game almost immediately and it took me most of the summer to finish but I enjoyed every moment of it. I was blown away by the characters, the music, the world, it was all unlike anything I had ever experienced before.

So far my return to Spira has been enjoyable. The Vita makes for a great platform to experience Final Fantasy X on. It’s great to pick up and play in small spurts here and there, and yet once you start it’s hard to put down. The game looks very crisp on the display, and the HD upgrade is pleasant to look at.

Last night I made it to two of the first challenges in Finaly Fantasy X, the rapid fire encounters with both Sin and Sinspawn Echuilles.

final fantsy x HD sin

The cutscenes before and after the Sin encounter are incredibly good looking (they were mind blowing back on the PS2) on the Vita. I forgot just how darn good FFX looked at times. The battle with Sin was easier than I remembered it being, I just pecked away at Sin with Lulu and Wakka while Tidus slashed away at the Sinspawn. I finished the fight without any real trouble.

Without anytime for a breather you’re thrown right into the Sinspawn Echuilles fight, which is actually a bit more challenging than the Sin fight.

Sinspawn Echuilles Final Fantasy X HD

You’re only given Tidus and Wakka during the fight, and Echuilles presented me with my first KO situation (I suffered a few KO’s during the fight but made it through without a complete wipe!). The fight was the first exciting encounter of the game, however with some tactical thinking it didn’t go too horribly. I had Tidus cast Cheer while Wakka used his Dark Attack which saved me from most of the Drain Touch attacks. His Blender attack, however, left me in some critical health situations that I barely escaped. Fortunately I made it through the fight to be greeted with some more scenes featuring Sin’s destructive power.

I made it into Kilika and hit up the Sphere Grid before saving and calling it a night.

Final Fantasy X HD spehere grid

I remember the Sphere Grid being quite confusing at first, but eventually it became an almost addictive leveling system. Being able to see all of the ways you could power up your characters made me want to grind away and try to get as powerful as I could. I do wish the Sphere Grid would take advantage of the Vita’s touchscreen as I feel like touch would be the ideal way to navigate the grid, but it’s not so bad once you get the hang of it again.

I’m looking forward to making some more progress in Final Fantasy X over the next couple of weeks.

Ant-Man

 

Ant-Man

I’ll admitt, I didn’t even know they were making an Ant-Man movie until about last week. I don’t ever recall seeing a trailer for it or hearing anything about it. I know very little about the character, but I do remember seeing him in some old Avengers comics. I honestly probably would have never gone to see Ant-Man on my own, but this evening some people from work wanted to see it so I tagged along.

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We went to the Galaxy theater at the Cannery in North Las Vegas, and the theater itself was pretty darn nice! I loved the reclining seats, and although the only seats left were in the first three rows it wasn’t too bad once fully reclined. Heck, I’m not sure I can go back to a normal movie theater after watching a movie in these chairs, it was awesome!

Overall I enjoyed Ant-Man, however I feel that the set up was a little drawn out and overly boring. I guess most origin stories are a little drawn out, but I just wasn’t getting into the movie at all in the beginning. That said, once the character is established things start to move along at a quicker and more exciting pace. The scenes in which Ant-Man is insect sized are wonderfully pleasing to watch and they do some truly unique things with the concept. As enjoyable as Ant-Man is visually, the Marvel movie formula makes much of the film predictable and causes some of the comedy to fall flat.

In the end I enjoyed Ant-Man more than I enjoyed the last Avengers movie, however I want Marvel to step outside of the Marvel movie box a bit more, if that makes sense. I’d recommend Ant-Man to anyone both those who enjoy Marvel films in particular and even those who are just action comedy fans. There’s plenty for everyone to enjoy.

 

EA Sports Rory McIlroy PGA Tour is terribly diasspointing

Rory Mcilroy PGA Tour Xbox One

I pre-ordered EA Sports Rory McIlroy PGA Tour and was excited to check out EA’s first current gen golf game (also the first in two years and the first since dropping the Tiger Woods name). It took all weekend to download over the hotel WiFi, and today I finally got to give it a try.

What a disappointment! Rory McIlroy PGA Tour is lacking in so many ways compared to the great Tiger Woods games of the past. First of all the tutorial seems lazy and is also lazily narrated. The Rory McIlroy prologue lacks excitement as does McIlroy’s commentary (that you can’t skip).

Career mode was my favorite part of the Tiger Woods games, and I especially loved trying to rise from the amateur ranks to the PGA Tour, all while earning sponsorships and increasing my stats. Most of that is missing from this game. First of all, the character customization is terribly lacking.

Rory McIlroy PGA Tour character customization

There are hardly any customization options at all. As you can see above, there are only eight haircut styles to choose from! Not only that, but what’s even worse is you can no longer pick and choose how you spend EXP to increase your stats. The game increases your stats for you and your only choice is between a few styles to start out with (power, finesse, balanced). Career mode starts you off with the Web.com finals, and there’s no other amateur career leading up to the PGA Tour. What’s worse, is by default the game is set to simulate most of the round with you only getting to play four or five holes.

rory mcilroy pga tour round type

Once on the course the game doesn’t get much better. If you’re playing with spin enabled (arcade controls) any amount of spin at all affects the ball so drastically it’s almost impossible to use. Even a slight amount of backspin will stop the ball dead in its tracks and any amount of forward spin is likely to cause the ball to run clear off the green even if you land toward the front.

I’ve had several chip shots get stuck on the flag rather than sink into the hole, and putting is impossibly hard. Even with putt reads enabled putting is hopeless. In fact half the time the reads seem to be completely wrong and indicate the ball breaking in the complete opposite direction. You’re better off ignoring the reads entirely, but prepare to be frustrated beyond belief with putting. I’ve never had this much trouble with a Tiger Woods game.

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There are so few courses and gameplay features in Rory McIlroy PGA Tour you’re much better off picking up any of the recent Tiger Woods games (I recommend The Masters). Rory McIlroy PGA Tour is terribly disappointing and I can’t recommend it even to the most hardcore golf fans.

Recently Watched: The Gambler

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I’m here in Las Vegas this month for work, so what better time to watch The Gambler! I had wanted to see it for awhile, but never got around to it, so I finally picked it up from Redbox this weekend.

Mark Wahlberg plays the character Jim Bennett wonderfully, and it was both agonizing and enjoyable to watch his journey to and out of rock bottom throughout the film. John Goodman and Brie Larson are also incredibly enjoyable to watch, and both play their characters well.

The transition scenes that count down the days until Bennett’s deadline to repay his debts, and the beginning of his romance with Larson’s character are some of my favorite parts of the movie, but the thrilling conclusion and the runup to it is just as good. I definitely recommend checking out The Gambler if you haven’t already.

AT&T Galaxy S6 update seemed to fix my signal issues

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Shortly after I upgraded from the Galaxy S5 to the S6 I started having severe problems with the phone. I didn’t necessarily want to stay with Android, I wanted to go back to Apple, however I had purchased a Galaxy Gear watch early this year and I didn’t want it to become useless.

With the S6 I started having problems maintaining a data connection, even if my device said I had full bars and LTE. The internet would simply stop working on the phone for no reason. I would try turning airplane mode on and off and occasionally this would work for a few minutes, but the data connection would slow to a crawl and be entirely useless. This would happen at work and all throughout Boise where previously I had a strong signal everywhere. This issue was so frustrating because I had grown to rely on having an internet connection in my pocket wherever I went and now it felt like I went back to having a flip phone. I would also experience dropped calls even when I had full bars.

I talked to AT&T tech support and they couldn’t come up with any solutions, and in the end they referred me to Samsung tech support. I talked to Samsung who also were no help and denied that this issue even existed despite there being forum posts all over the place from users experiencing the exact same issue.

Yesterday my phone took an OTA update, a 146MB update that changes the build number from OE2 to OF3, and now it seems my phone is functioning normally again (knock on wood!). I hope this was the fix because I was seriously about to just go out and pay full price for an iPhone 6. If you were experiencing the same issues go ahead and update your phone and let me know if the update improves anything. Best of luck!

 

Recently watched: Ted 2

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Yesterday afternoon we made it out to see Seth MacFarlane’s Ted 2. The original Ted was a movie that had me laughing from beginning to end, however it was hard to convince people it was worth seeing as most just thought the concept was silly.

So far Ted 2 hasn’t really made much of a splash at the box office which had me doubting whether it’d be worth seeing, but I’m happy to report it was an enjoyable experience. The theater was rather empty, however it was a 1:30 showtime on the Fourth of July, so that wasn’t unexpected. I’m a little bummed we didn’t make it out to see it on opening weekend¬†since it’s always a blast seeing comedies in a packed theater, but it was still enjoyable.

Ted 2

The movie had us laughing pretty hard quite often, however it’s not as outrageously funny as the first for sure. A lot of the jokes are quite predictable for anyone who’s seen the first film or has watched a lot of Family Guy, yet they still were able to produce laughs. Some of the more unpredictable moments really hit their marks, unfortunately a lot of these moments come from the supporting cast.

There are a few things that I didn’t like at all about Ted 2, one of which being the opening credits. They were well produced, but it seemed like they just dragged on which was a bit of a bore. The movie is also a bit slow moving at times, mostly while trying to set up the plot which is a bummer. Sometimes I wish comedies didn’t even bother trying to set up a coherent narrative, and I think the narrative is Ted’s weakest point. It’s the moments in-between pivotal story moments that really shine, and luckily they’re able to produce enough laughs to make the rest of the movie bearable.

If you enjoyed Ted, or love Seth MacFarlane’s sense of humor you’ll probably enjoy Ted 2. Is it spectacular? No, but it’s still an enjoyable ride.