Saturday, November 3, 2012

Sandy, Systems and Such...

It's been a hell of a month so far, as you can probably guess if you keep an eyeball on the news. Hurricane Sandy did a number on the NYC metropolitan area and the surrounding states (in a fairly wide random areas at that), so things are a bit chaotic in a few places, yet quiet in others. We didn't get much bad damage here, but a few blocks over in any direction, the power has been out for folks, but is slowly being restored. Staten Island, parts of Brooklyn, Queens and New Jersey were beat up badly and will take ages to get back to "normal" - but with enough help and effort, they can do it, I'd say...

In NYC, among other events the annual Halloween Parade was canned (no lights below 34th street was more creepy than any costume), but celebrities had one of their own last Monday (the first of a few stupid mistakes that yet again show the clueless nature of the elite crowd). I hate Halloween in general, but I was out and about hitting a few places for wi-fi and there were plenty of kids and parents up here in the Bronx out harassing shops for free candy and scoring only if they arrived early enough. Subways and buses were free for a few days, but as usual, the MTA shafted us by not extending the deal to the weekend, meaning packs of people were forced to pay to ride around in a system that's still chick full of delays and two-fare zones thanks to tunnels still being flooded and other hazards.

Meanwhile, the world famous NYC Marathon, which SHOULD have been canceled right after the storm hit, was stupidly turned into a political football that cost our billionaire mayor some face and clued in the public that a few other organizations run by some very wealthy people don't give a hoot about the little people who don't need a bunch of skinny fast people zipping around the boroughs for a big cash prize and a new car along with the assorted street closings and usually joyful diversions (and yes, tourism dollars) the marathon brings.

The runners who showed up (and yes, SHOULD have realized the shit hit the fan around here and perhaps recovering was more of a priority than them breaking a record, personal or otherwise) really should go help out some of the people living in areas hit by the storm, as that's more of a feel-good effort at the end of the day than a two-hour or so race through parts of a city where people now have nothing.  ING and the race organizers should have donated the runner's free meals, disposable blankets, water and other gear normally handed out as freebies to city residents who could use them (it's COLD outside!) and donated to charities some runners conned into coming into NYC were running for. Boom, end of story. But of course, they botched it up good, leaving sour tastes in plenty of mouths.

Meanwhile, the iPad Mini was launched in the middle of all this and it was a bizarre thing to see on one hand, people lining up for food and water in parts of the city while others came out to buy yet another Apple product that doesn't do anything new and in fact merely exists to attempt to take interest and dollars away from better tablet devices. Still, it seems to have sold out in spots, so once again, Apple is leading the way with a tiny amount of expensive products that while easy to use, aren't really pushing the envelope compared to other devices that do certain things better out of necessity and some sort of forced competitive spirit that forges innovation.

As for devices I'm actually interested in, the Wii U ships out in just over two weeks, the WikiPad has been delayed temporarily as tweaks are added to the gaming tablet/controller combo, the NEOGEO X has hit pre-order status and despite getting a number of excellent games last month, it seems the poor Vita is struggling thanks to Sony's odd lack of focus that's been ongoing since the handheld was announced. The darn thing is well designed, but slightly overpriced (as are the proprietary memory cards the system uses) has too many features gamers don't need or use, and definitely needs more third party and indie support plus the much vaunted Cross Platform functionality in every future release. I'm gathering Sony as well as some third party devs will be responding to the Wii U's success (or failure) by adding the ability to use the Vita as some sort of controller in certain late PS3 and PS4 (or whatever that new system will be called) games, but as usual, we shall see.

Anyway, there's more to come in terms of gaming this month, what with too many big titles on the way I won't get to play until probably December. I'm not one of  those folks who feels the "need" to be first out of the gate with AAA reviews (and games like Halo 2, CoD: Black Ops 2 and a bunch of others can sell themselves in the millions without me around), but I will continue to cover smaller titles I like just to get the word out about them to folks who may be curious.OK, enough rambling - back to bed for me, as it's been a very long day and I have a LOT of work to catch up on...

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