Puerto Rico: Observations from a Rookie

Wow! After playing my first game of Puerto Rico the other night, I must say that I’m impressed with this game. i can certainly see why it’s so highly rated on BoardGameGeek. There sure is quite a bit to digest in Puerto Rico as a newcomer, but if you just get down to and play you start to get a sense of some of the different strategies and options available to each player.

After a quick, five-minute rule explanation while the game was being set up, we jumped right in to the deep end. I was paying with four experienced players, and they were all extremely helpful whenever I had questions. The first three or four turns went by with ease, and I felt like I was sort of holding my own. As soon as we started to hit the mid- to later game I realized how some of my earlier choices were starting to come back to bite me in the ass.

All of the other players had either purchased the wharf, or at least one of the larger buildings by this point in the game, and I was the only one stuck without either. I would’ve had a chance to buy one of these had a passed on a non-essential Large Warehouse purchase. As everyone else was receiving loads of victory points towards the end, my early success quickly disappeared.

After the final round wrapped up, we all started counting up our scores. I brought up the rear with 34 VPs, fourth place scored 40, third had 41, second had 43 (I think) and the first place finisher racked up 47 VPs. Even though I lost pretty badly, I did thoroughly enjoy this game.

I was able to see a few different strategies during this game which allowed me to get an idea of what you need to do to win. The winner went for a more balanced, production and building technique. He used his factory to produce lots of gold which enabled him to build some helpful large buildings during the end game. in contrast, the third place finisher went for a more shipping only technique. This allowed him to get ahead earlier in the game, but he never had the money to get one of the larger buildings to assist at the end of the game.

I guess it’s a good sign that I want to play this again. I feel like this is the type of game that you get much better at after multiple sessions. Hopefully I’ll get a chance to play again soon.

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Various Board Game Thoughts

Like most board game fanatics, I’ve been trying to read as many of the Essen ’05 reports I can find. In doing so, I’ve come across quite a few games which seem very interesting to me. The main one’s I’m interested in are Aloha, Aqua Romana, Big Kini, Hacienda, and Mesopotamia. These games seemed to have the most buzz since they were featured in almost all of the reports I read.

There were also two other games that caught my attention in a few different reports. Those were Fettnapf and Wordwild. Both of those seem like fun, light games that my wife and I would enjoy. I’m sure she’d wipe the floor with me in Wordwild once she got the hang of it. She’s a sucker for word games.

Other than that, I’m sure there will be more games that start to share some of the spotlight soon. The atmosphere at a convention like Spiel doesn’t really suit some games. I’m sure we’ll hear some good things once people get some of the less hyped games home and put them through a good play session with their normal game group. I’m looking forward to hearing the updates.

On a related gaming note, I’m going to be introducing my in-laws to Ticket to Ride this evening. I hope it goes over well. They like to play board games, but they don’t really branch out past the typical American staples. I’m hoping this will give them a taste of what’s out there besides Trivial Pursuit and Monopoly. If all goes well, I plan to convert them to full fledged “Geeks” by Thanksgiving.

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Quick Hits from the Sports World

Titans Dominate Hapless Texans
Wow, just when I thought the Titans were scraping the bottom of the barrel, along come the Texans. They are really awful. I feel sorry for David Carr. It has to suck to be the NFL’s tackling dummy. Defensive lineman have to licking their chops when they are scheduled to play the Texans.

As for the Titans, they looked very good on the opening drive, and then the Offense shut down again for the rest of the first half. After half-time, there was a bit of renewed energy, but you have to take that success with a grain of salt. It was the Texans who they were playing.

It was also nice to see a positive overall performance by Pacman Jones this week. He played strong defensively all afternoon, and his nice kickoff return sure helped to seal the Texans fate. After his initial growing pains, I think he’ll be a solid player. The fans here in Tennessee will just take awhile to warm up to him.

Astros Win Games 4 and 5 All in the Same Day
I can’t believe the Astros and Braves game went 18 innings. I’m sure the Bravos are just sick after losing that one. They all but had the game locked up when Tim Hudson was taken out. The bullpen proceeded to go to all kinds hell and let the Astros back in the ball game. At least Braves fans got to see two games worth of play on Sunday. They shouldn’t be disappointed in that sense.

Fantasy Football Sadness Report
Well, this week sure was a doozy. My WR corps took some big hits this week due to injury. Darrell Jackson (Sea) is out for four weeks with a knee injury. Joe Horn (NO) sat out again this week with a hamstring strain. I promoted Kevin Curtis (StL) to the starting WR mix for the week in place of Jackson, but I didn’t know Horn wasn’t going to play. I also picked up Andre Johnson (Hou) off of waivers to fill in my WR/TE slot. Both of those decisions probably ruined my chance at winning this week.

I also had to start Aaron Brooks (NO) this week in pace of Kerry Collins (Oak) who was on a bye. Needless to say Brooks single handedly screwed my team at the most inopportune time. All I wanted out of him was at least 200 yards and a TD, but he played like absolute dog shit. It was pitiful.

I have to see if there is some sort of trade I can work out to get my WR situation under control. In retrospect, I probably should’ve held on to Larry Fitzgerald (Ari) instead of trading him a couple of weeks ago. I figured his production would drop since Kurt Warner (Ari) is out with an injury. I still have a strong RB group, Shaun Alexander (Sea), Domanick Davis (Hou) and Thomas Jones (Chi), and I’ll also get my regular QB back this week. Those things should help me right the ship.

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Update on Wireless ReplayTV Connection

In a previous entry, I talked about the frustration I had to put up with as I tried to modify a couple of Linksys WRT54G routers in order to get my two ReplayTV’s talking to each other wirelessly. I’m happy to say that all is well here in ReplayTV land. I took back both of the Linksys routers, and I purchased two Buffalo WHR-HP-G54s to take their place.

These Buffalo routers support WDS bridging right out of the box. Set up was a snap. I was up an running in less than 2 hours. I also didn’t have to deal with any command line Linux. That was too much for me. I’ll stick with the little bit I know how to do in Terminal here on Mac OS X.

If you’re looking for a way to wirelessly connect two or more ReplayTVs, then these Buffalo routers are your best bet. I purchased mine at Buy.com for $49.95 a piece (right now they’re $77 each). They are easy to set up, have tons of features and the Buffalo support team is top notch. You can’t go wrong with these.

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More on NetNewsWire’s Functionality

So, I had a little downtime this afternoon at work waiting for some responses about a project. I figured now would be a good time to try and see if there are any other Applescripts out there for NetNewsWire that would allow me to email an article to someone. The only one I could find that seemed to work was Feed Mailer by LittleAppleScripts. This is a great little Applescript, but it only works with Mail.app. I use Entourage at work, so I wanted something that would work with it. I’m assuming that it’s impossible to implement via Applescript because you would think someone would’ve done so by now.

While I was browsing the Ranchero NNW Scripts page, I found a new listing for a del.icio.us and Cocoalicious tagging script. I’ve been using the older Post to del.icio.us script since I started reading my feeds in NNW and I thought it was OK in it’s functionality. Reading about this new script turned me on to Cocoalicious which is an excellent piece of software all Mac owners should have if they use del.icio.us.

This new script allows you to post tagged items to del.icio.us by going through the Cocoalicious interface instead of popping up a browser window. It saves a few seconds this way, and it also allows you to keep your focus on reading your feeds. Now I can see something I think will be handy, post it del.icio.us and keep going through all of my feeds. This script will even post straight out the News Items list. Those are two huge time savers over the previous script.

I love finding more options within a piece of software I use everyday. This makes my investment in NNW worth so much more. Now, as long as this program keeps up it’s stellar track record, I won’t have to worry too much about this rumor currently making it’s way around the Mac Internets. News Gator better not screw this one up. There will be many Mac Zealots who will be royally pissed off if that happens.

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NetNewsWire & Bloglines

I’ve been using NetNewsWire for about four months now to keep track of all of my RSS feeds. Before, I was using Bloglines to keep track of my feeds at home and at work. I always knew NNW could sync up with my Bloglines account, so I thought I would give it a try this morning just to see what the results were. Unfortunately, they weren’t what I was expecting.

I guess it has to do with the Bloglines API and it’s limited functionality for adding feeds and lack of groups support. I like to have all of my feeds neatly sorted into different categories so I can decide what topic I want to read next. In order to keep my Bloglines account updated via NNW, I would have to throw all of my groups out the window. I don’t really think I could read my feeds without them at this stage in the game.

The other feature I disliked is the inability to add feeds from NNW to Bloglines. I would really like to see this implemented (if possible) on the API. There are many times when I’m reading a feed and I get linked to a site that is something I would like to add to my collection of feeds. In order to do this with the NNW/Bloglines setup I’d be required to login in to my Bloglines account. Again, this type of workaround is just something so foreign to me now that I’ve been using NNW exclusively.

In all, I commend Ranchero for adding this functionality to NNW. I know they did the best they could with the Bloglines API in it’s current form. Hopefully there will be some increased functionality added to it by the good folks at Bloglines. I still use my Bloglines account when I’m on the go; I just wish I could keep my feeds updated from NNW in a more comfortable manner.

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AFL Grand Final

I don’t know how may people here in the States got to watch the Grand Final live, but in Nashville we weren’t able to see it because of Hurricane Rita. I think the feed for all of the Eastern States goes through Houston, and there wasn’t anyone at the control desk to turn on the feed since they’ve all been evacuated prior to Rita making landfall.

I know people on the West Coast (L.A.) were able to see it. I talked to one of my Aussie buddies who just moved out there after the game to confirm it. They were able to see the whole game live and in color. It kind of made me sad. We hooked up someone’s laptop to the HDTV our bar had to see if we could get a feed off of the Internets. The best we could do is getting someone in Oz to point their web cam at the TV to transmit a screen capture of the Television every 3 seconds or so. Combine that with the live audio feed in the Net, and we were in hog heaven.

I asked some of the Australians in attendance at our bar if they ever thought they’d be watching and listening to the Grand Final over the Internet with a delayed web cam feed. They all responded with a definite, “Fuck No!”. I can’t believe Fox didn’t realize this might be a problem. Why couldn’t they reroute the whole country’s feed to another location. That would seem to make more sense.

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Lost Season Premiere

Lost Logo-1

Damn, if this wasn’t the best damn season premiere ever. J.J. Abrams gave us just enough to make the season finale seem like it happened just last week. That’s how fast they hooked all of the viewers again. I loved how the first five minutes were of the guy in the hatch. At first your watching and thinking, “Who’s backstory is this? Saywer?” But then they tie it back in with the hatch explosion and you realize watch you’ve just been watching. That’s damn good television.

I guess the producers were right when they said we wouldn’t be disappointed at the Emmy’s. I’ve always thought that this show would be more of a tease than anything else. I mean how much can really go on with 40 people being stranded on an island. I guess I just didn’t have faith in the show’s creators. I’m right there with them now.

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Frustrating Weekend of Linksys Router Hacking

Recently my wife and I remodeled our upstairs to make it a master suite (pictures once we get all of our furniture situated). In the course of moving up stairs, we finally were able to install a TV back in our bedroom. Our other room downstairs didn’t have a cable television feed., My wife wants to be able to watch the shows we record on our ReplayTV on our TV upstairs. For all of you who are married, you know you have to deliver once the wife gets an idea in her head.

So I went about setting up another DVR in a normal fashion. I purchased another ReplayTV to serve the bedroom, and I also went out and bought two Linksys WRT54G wireless routers. I have heard that it’s easy to upgrade the firmware on the WRT54G, so I figured I would be up and running in no time.

I couldn’t have been more wrong. The problem lies with the fact that all of the latest Linksys routers you can buy at your everyday Best Buy or CompUSA are now Version 4. It seems that very few of the third-party firmware developers support Version 4. The only 2 firmware projects that support what I needed (WDS) are HyperWRT and OpenWRT.

HyperWRT is the most similar to the stock Linksys firmware out of these two. It actually has a web based admin page which makes it very easy to configure. I had to search around for some user based scripts to save in the firmware in order to enable WDS. Unfortunately none of those seemed to operate correctly.

The other firmware, OpenWRT, is an entirely Linux command line utiity. I’ve only just dabbled with Terminal in OS X, so my Linux chops are sorely undeveloped. I have to say getting a baptism by fire in command line Linux use is not a way to spend a weekend, unless of course you like torturing yourself. I stayed up into the wee hours of the morning on both Saturday and Sunday poring over OpenWRT documentation trying my damnedest to get the routers to talk to each other.

After fiddling with both routers most of the day on Sunday, I decided that I was just going to reset everything to the default settings and return the routers. I’m going to do what I should of done in the first place when I started the crazy plan, which is buy a Buffalo Airstation WBR2-54GS. It supports WDS right out the box. Sometimes I just have to know when to throw in the towel.

“You win some. You lose some. But you live, you live to fight another day.” – Mr. Jones, Friday

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Strange Things Are Afoot at the Circle K

For some reason I’m having problems logging on to a couple of different sites from home. I can’t get to BroadbandReports.com or ReplayTV.com. I don’t know if this is an isolated issue, or if it’s some sort Comcast related shenanigans. I could see why Comcast would want to block both of these sites. I just hope that’s not really what’s going on here. I did have a DNS problem a few months back, so maybe that’s cropped up again.

I always think the worst when I can’t get to a site. I wish there were more options for broadband access. Unfortunately there isn’t. The Supreme Court obviously didn’t think it was a good idea to deregulate the cable lines. What do they know anyway. They said it was cool for the Government to seize private property so long as someone had a better use for it.

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