Gaming

Review: Republique

Republique completely fails to follow through on its solid elevator pitch.

Imagine a high-tech Orwellian dystopia. A teenage girl known as 390-H (or Hope, as she calls herself) is caught with an illegal political manifesto and scheduled for “recalibration”, an unexplained but undoubtedly nefarious process. Using a cellphone, she contacts you – the player, a mysterious entity in an undisclosed location – and begs for help. Your task is then to help her escape by jumping between the ubiquitous surveillance cameras in the strange facility, hacking doors and other equipment, and telling Hope where and when it’s safe to go in order to avoid patrolling guards.

The elevator pitch is great, but sadly, Republique completely fails in delivering a satisfying, cohesive experience.

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Gaming

Review: Oxenfree

The most natural conversation system I’ve seen in a game combined with excellent voice acting makes this five-hour experience a worthwhile one.

I’ve never attempted to hide the fact that I’m a sucker for big open-world games with complex mechanics. But games can be so much more than that. In particular, I’m fond of short and focused games that know what they want and how to get it across succinctly, without pointless filler content. Oxenfree is just such a game.

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Gaming

Review: Life is Strange

Life is Strange touches on important topics and, despite some flaws, is well worth experiencing.

Most games lack complex characters with any depth at all. Most games steer clear away from important topics and issues. Most games do not concern themselves with evoking more complex emotions than “I’m having fun”.

Thankfully, Life is Strange isn’t like most games.

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Tech

The Mythical Man-Month: Too obsolete to be useful today

Review of “The Mythical Man-Month” by Frederick P. Brooks, Jr.

One cannot venture far into the world of software engineering literature without hearing about The Mythical Man-Month by Frederick P. Brooks, Jr. The book is consistently hailed as a classic, so in my quest to grow as a software practitioner I decided to shell out and see what all the fuss was about. Unfortunately, being written in 1975 (re-issued in 1995 with minor changes to the original material), it seems so out of date now that I doubt it can have more than academic appeal.

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Gaming

Review: Just Cause 3 – everything looks better on fire

Rico’s new grappling hook makes all the difference.

I finally got around to playing the now half-year old Just Cause 3, and you know what that means: Time to chew gum and blow stuff up, and I’m all out of gum (no really, I am). The series’ third installment follows squarely and safely in the footsteps of its predecessor, but while it is in most respects a better game, you wouldn’t think a whole six years have passed.

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Tech

The curmudgeon’s take on the malpractices of software engineering

Review of “Facts and Fallacies of Software Engineering” by Robert L. Glass.

Software changes at an accelerating pace. People, on the other hand, stay the same. That’s why some software engineering books are timeless classics: They speak to the human rather than the technical side of development. Robert Glass’s Facts and Fallacies of Software Engineering seems to be hailed as one such classic, and I too found this a highly rewarding read.

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Gaming

Review: Far Cry 4 – just another take on Far Cry 3

In an alternate world, Far Cry 3 and 4 could easily have switched places.

I recently blasted my way through the second half of Far Cry 4 after having meticulously collected and completed everything in its first half. The transition in my playing style happened when I realized that 1) much of Far Cry 4’s “unique” content is really just slight formulaic variations on the same concepts, which aren’t really that interesting in the first place, and 2) I’ve got better things to do. So here’s a ranty kind of review of Far Cry 4, which may be a bit negatively biased because I’m already grumpy about Ubisoft sandboxes’ lack of respect for my time.

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Tech

The slightly outdated and not entirely Pragmatic Programmer

Review of “The Pragmatic Programmer” by Andrew Hunt and David Thomas.

The Pragmatic Programmer: From Journeyman to Master promises to make you a better programmer with around 70 concrete tips covering many different aspects of software engineering. But while I would have hoped for 70 deeply practical and thoughtful tips, many of them aren’t really that great. Pragmatic Programmer lacks depth, and its age (15 years) means that some of its tips are not nearly as helpful today.

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Gaming

So Long, and Thanks for All the Draugr

On putting Skyrim away for good.

Skyrim, Land of my Ancestors,

I write this to you now, at the turn of the era, as my bones have grown weary and old. My arms and armor, imbued with powerful magic still as potent as in my glory days, have been laid to rest throughout your lands, to be discovered by the intrepid adventurers of the next age. Only the Thu’um remains to me now.

In this forsaken place at the far end of the world, I have little save my quill and parchment. It is to these tools I now turn in my final hours on the plane of Mundus. There are things I need to tell you.

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Books

Welcome to Extremistan – don’t feed the Bell Curve

Review of “The Black Swan” by Nassim Nicholas Taleb.

According to Socrates, “the only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.” In some respects then, Nassim Nicholas Taleb is very wise indeed, though judging by The Black Swan his ideas are better than his communication.

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