The Secret World

I’ve had a burst of gaming enthusiasm in the last month or so, ending my streak of playing basically nothing since Christmas. As usual, I tend to gravitate toward RPGs and MMOs.

The last MMO I played before my break was Star Wars: The Old Republic, which I found enjoyable, but not enough to keep playing past the free month. Then recently, on an impulse, I bought TERA, which boasted a totally fresh new action-based combat system, but again, it didn’t keep my attention past the first month. After that I played LOTRO again, which is a bit dated now but still one of the best MMOs around.

Then, I got an email from Funcom, who makes Age of Conan, with a couple of game codes for the final beta weekend of The Secret World, an MMO I’ve heard mention of for quite a while but haven’t looked at in detail. So I tried it out and, on impulse again, decided to plunk down the $50 to pre-order it, because it’s different enough for me to vote positively with my dollars.

The Secret World has sort of an urban fantasy motif, where the key selling point is a class-less, level-less progression system. You can use guns, or swords, or magic. It’s odd, but I’m curious to see how it works out. It has a number of departures from normal MMOs, actually.

Anyway, according to another email I got, the head start begins today, so I’ll be head-starting this weekend.

It’s kind of a bummer actually. After the TSW beta ended I got back into Rift again, this time playing Defiant. I just joined a guild yesterday and even healed for a dungeon run.

Verizon Galaxy Nexus continuously rebooting after Google Maps update

My Verizon Galaxy Nexus started rebooting continuously after I updated Google Maps.

I installed some of new app updates from Google on my stock Verizon Galaxy Nexus today (running Android 4.0.4), and the next thing I know, my phone is in a constant cycle of rebooting itself. It would reboot to the unlock screen, and then roughly 30 seconds later, no matter what, it would reboot again.

Through trial and error, working in that 30 second window, I was able to isolate the problem to one of these three apps: Google Maps, Google Earth, or Google+. I uninstalled the updates for those three, and now my phone doesn’t reboot anymore.

Later, after some deep breaths to calm myself after narrowly avoiding having to do a factory reset, I updated Google+ with no problems. I have no need for Google Earth so I left it as it was. Then I tried to update Google Maps, and the phone rebooted and showed an alert saying the Maps package file was invalid.

So I guess you should avoid that Google Maps update. And if you’ve already gotten it and your phone is rebooting continuously, in that brief window while you’re able, open up Settings, go to Apps, find the Maps app and tap Uninstall Updates.

UPDATE: Phone is still crashing sporadically. I think it’s Chrome. It crashes instantly if I try to clear the cache or uninstall it. Might have to do a factory reset after all.

UPDATE 2: Now Chrome won’t even run, saying that critical resources are missing. And running the Android browser causes an instant crash and reboot.

UPDATE 3: Now that I’m home, I suppose I’ll be backing up my pictures and then doing a factory reset.

Surprise, Vizio Makes Laptops

Picture of a Vizio laptop

Just when everyone’s done talking about the new Apple MacBook Pros, along comes a slick new PC laptop from Vizio. Yes, Vizio, the television maker. This is exactly what I was talking about: It’s one-third of the price and 85% as good. And it plays PC games! I’d swap my big clunky Asus G73 for that Vizio i7 model in a heartbeat. Half of a heartbeat even! Although I suppose I should wait to read a review or two first.

P.S. It reminds me of the white TRS-80 Color Computer. 🙂


The New MacBook Pro

Pictures of MacBook Pros

One of the neat things about Apple is that they have distinct milestones that you can talk about once or twice a year. The tech press loooooves it. With PCs, something new comes out roughly twice a day, so it’s impossible to keep up.

At the WWDC conference, Apple announced their new MacBook Pro model. It’s a beast of a laptop, and it looks beautiful. The top-of-the-line model has a 2.7GHz Quad Core i7, 16GB of RAM, and a 512GB SSD. (I didn’t even know they made flash drives that big.) It’s got a “Retina” display, which is what Apple calls any screen with 200 dpi or so, which is roughly the density where the human eye can’t distinguish individual pixels any more. And somehow they claim to get 7 hours of battery life out of this things. This is an awesome laptop any way you slice it, and it would be awesome to have one.


It is hella expensive. If you thought Apple was getting soft in its old age and bringing down their prices, wait until you see the $3249 price tag for that top-of-the-line MacBook Pro model up there. Oh, and you can get a 768GB SSD for an extra $500. Of course, financing is available. 🙂

Still, it’s really hard to justify paying that much for one Apple product when you can take that same amount of money and fill a whole room with PC products that are 85% as good. I can’t ever see myself getting one of these unless someone else pays for it.