Nearly home

I’ll be back in the states in a matter of days and I couldn’t be more excited! Things have been slow here, but I’ll be getting back into the rhythm of blogging once I settle in back home. I’m looking forward to putting my new gaming PC to the test with Fallout 4, Quantum Break and Dark Souls III during my two weeks of R&R. I’ll certainly be streaming once I get everything set up, so you can look forward to me getting incredibly frustrated with Dark Souls III.

I’m also looking forward to finally checking out the new Apple TV, and setting up the Amazon Echo. I’ll probably take some video of the setup process of the Echo along with some first impressions, so there’s that to look forward to as well.

It’s been depressing to watch my daily site visits drop by at least 100 visits a day, but that’s what happens when you only post once or twice a month. I’m incredibly excited for this deployment to be over, and can’t wait to get back to a normal life!

Thanks, as always, for stopping by! I’ll be back soon!

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I don’t understand why piracy is still a thing in 2016

I know I’ve talked about this before, but after listening to the song “Exposure Bank” by Sunrise Skater Kids, I’ve been thinking about the issue of piracy again. I just don’t understand how piracy is still seen as an acceptable route to obtain media without paying in 2016. With all of the options available today, getting access to a wide variety of media, be it music, movies, tv shows or even magazines, has become easier than ever. Spotify and Apple Music effectively let you download just about any album you can imagine for the price of a single album a month. Downloading music to your phone using Apple Music, for example, is as easy as searching for an artist and tapping a download button next to an album. It’s much faster and more reliable than pirating music, and it’s safer too. So why do people still pirate?

“We have so many loyal fans, It’s good to know our future rests in their hands, We all do this for the thrill, Real musicians don’t need much to pay the bills”

Napster became a thing when I was in middle school and it truly did revolutionize the way I consumed music. Before Napster I had very limited means of accessing music. My exposure to music came from what was played on the radio, what few CD’s I could buy in a year, and the music shared between friends (occasionally by trading ‘burned’ CD’s). Once I discovered Napster essentially the entire history of music became available at the click of a button. I was able to discover music quicker than ever before, and rather than spending hours at FYE using their listening stations, I could just download a song and if I didn’t like it I’d delete it.

“Buying bad music is the worst, Be sure to download every album, piracy comes first. Once you decide you like it, Get some merchandise and we’ll be supported.”

For a while most of my music was acquired via piracy, however the launch of the iPod and eventually the iTunes store changed everything again. All of a sudden it was easier to purchase a digital album than it was to pirate it. You would be guaranteed a certain level of quality for a price that CD’s could never compete with. The iTunes store was the first step in the right direction in an effort to supersede piracy as the default method of acquiring music, however in recent years another revolution has changed the music industry yet again: streaming.

When I first discovered Spotify’s premium service, which allowed you to download entire albums from just about every artist you could think of in a matter of seconds, my mind was blown. Once again an entire world of music became available to millions of users at the tap of a screen. Spotify Premium became the way I consumed music (outside of the car, in which I still enjoy my SiriusXM radio) until I switched to Apple Music upon its release. Apple Music works much the same as Spotify does, however I like the app better.

Apple Music iTunes

I can’t understand how anyone with any sort of appreciation for music could still pirate in 2016. For just $120 a year you can essentially “own” every piece of music that releases that year and all the years past. Not only that, but you have access you your entire music library on all of your devices, without ever having to transfer any files. It’s so easy it boggles my mind why anyone wouldn’t subscribe to a streaming music service.

$10 a month for all the music your ears desire seems too good to be true, and while it’s great for consumers there is some validity to the fears that the services short change artists. That, combined with the fact that I love vinyl, is the reason I still continue to buy music that I really love. For example, I’ve recently become obsessed with The Strumbellas and immediately ordered their “We Still Move on Dance Floors” album, and pre-ordered their upcoming album “Hope” on vinyl (I also bought both on iTunes, as I REALLY love them and want to support them!)

“Yeah, pats on the back, Yeah, live on the streets, You’re entitled to our music, You did so much to deserve it, Yeah, download a car, Yeah, don’t need to eat.”

There are so many options in other forms of media as well. The app Texture offers a sort of ‘Netflix for magazines” where for either $10 or $15 a month you get access to a wide variety of magazines including back issues. The higher priced plan includes weekly publications such as The New Yorker, TIME and Newsweek.

As for movies and TV, Hulu now offers an add on subscription to Showtime for $9 a month, and HBO and Starz both have streaming services that no longer require cable. You can get access to a wide variety of movies for relatively little money by subscribing to these services. If you want the latest and greatest, I still think the iTunes store offers great prices on movies. I’ve grown my library quite a bit lately just by watching out for sales in which popular movies go on sale for $9.99 or less on iTunes. A lot of new releases sell for $14.99 as well, which is cheaper than DVD’s and Blu Rays ever were. It’s cheaper than ever to watch movies legally, for the sake of the entertainment industry I hope that more people start to choose the high road.

 

R.B.I. Baseball 16 on the Xbox One

Opening day is here, and for those of you looking to get a baseball fix on the Xbox One you have but one choice: R.B.I. Baseball 16.

RBI Baseball 16

There hasn’t been a ‘true’ baseball game on an Xbox platform since 2013’s MLB 2k13 on the Xbox 360. Therefore, for those of us who don’t own Playstation platforms, we haven’t been able to scratch our baseball video game itch for over four years. R.B.I. Baseball 16 is the third game in the revived series that originally debuted on the NES in 1988 and returned to modern consoles in 2014.

R.B.I._Baseball_Cover

If you’re looking for a realistic baseball experience, don’t expect to find it in R.B.I. Baseball 16. The R.B.I. series has always offered more of an arcade style experience and that’s still true in the 2016 version. The gameplay is incredibly simplified, in that at any given time you only need two buttons and the D-pad to play it. Pitching consists of pressing ‘A’ and using the D-pad or analog stick to either pitch a fastball (hold down), slow-ball (hold up), or curve (hold left or right). That’s it. Hitting and fielding are no more complicated.

R.B.I. Baseball 16 screenshot

On the plus side, R.B.I. Baseball 16 presents the game of baseball with a pretty realistic looking presentation. The stadiums look great and the players don’t look entirely cartoony. Unfortunately there is no audio commentary which would make for a nice addition.

For $20 R.B.I. Baseball 16 is better than having no baseball at all on the Xbox One, however I’m left wanting the simulation experience that the MLB 2K series offered.