Mass Effect 3: Initial Impressions

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I received Mass Effect 3 via Amazon.com on the release date. I’ve only played about five hours. This is May. The game was released in March.

Something is wrong with this game. It’s not terrible, but it’s lost something that the first two games had. I can’t really put my finger on it but I can point out some of the things that I think are bad.

Note that I’m nowhere near completion yet. However, since some of the things I’ve seen are spoilers I’ll continue my rant after the jump…

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Amazon.com Air Mattress Randomness

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We’re planning to have some friends stay for a night this week so we decided to order an inflatable bed. While combing through various reviews I came across this product photo:

Bad.

So very, very bad.

And then I found a product review in which the first line caught my attention. Ah, if I only I could say the same (and do so without incurring any debt to attain such a milestone):

RemZZZs – CPAP Mask Liners

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Updated 09/15/2011: I’ve reversed my opinion of the liners since I wrote this post. I began to have less effective rest after a few days. Last night I removed the liner and ended up sleeping well despite only having about five hours of rest. It’s still possible it was a fluke but in the end I’m not sure these really add much. I can’t say with certainty whether or not they improve or inhibit rest but for the cost and uncertainty I’m ruling that they just don’t make much of a difference for me. I still have 28 more liners left so I may try them again. If my opinion changes I will update this note.

Updated 10/25/2011: I’ve tried them a few more times since my last update and I still haven’t seen that they help me. However, my wife tried one (that wasn’t even fitted for her mask) one night and thought that it made a big difference with her medium ResMed Quattro FX mask). I’m going a different route. I’ve ordered a Pad-a-Cheek Mask Liner. I’ll add a new post after it arrives and I’ve had a chance to use it a few nights.

After recent spell of a few nights of bad sleep I started looking into anything that might help prevent mask leaks. Fortunately, I managed to make a few changes that let me sleep well without any new CPAP equipment. Yet, I had already ordered some mask liners after reading various product reviews and a few forum posts.

Last week I purchased a set of RemZzzs Padd Full Face CPAP Mask Liners from CPAP.com for $24.95 (before shipping). Note that you can purchase these from other suppliers but it’s important to ensure that they’ll fit the mask and mask size that you use. CPAP.com has a chart on the mask liner page that will match up different masks with the appropriate liner sizes. In my case, since I use a Resmed Quattro Full Face Mask (Large) the chart listed the “Large A” mask liners as my preferred size.

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My Airport Extreme Base Station Cost Me Another $45 (Because It Couldn’t Do One Thing)

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<rant>

Before I go into the rant I need to state that overall, the Apple Airport Extreme Base Station is a very good residential router, in most cases. In my experience, it’s very stable and most of the features work very well.

But not all of the features… and this one’s a real pain to work with and could be a deal-breaker for many considering purchasing this device. If you plan to use Microsoft VPN PPTP to connect to a system within your network then I suggest that you do not purchase an AEBS.

The description states that it supports VPN PPTP pass-through. Well, I guess that’s only guaranteed for outgoing connections (not specified) or it’s an incompatibility with Microsoft PPTP connections. It would take too long to describe the various forum posts, support documents, and other resources I’ve combed through trying to figure out how to make this work. I’ve spent countless hours trying to find a work-around but I just can’t make it work.

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A Bad PS3 (Hard Drive)

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For the past several months I’ve had various problems with my Playstation 3. On a regular basis it would show corrupt file and disk warnings and then spend several minutes restoring the file system. I’ve tried formatting the drive but while downloading updates or trying to launch or play a game it would freeze. I followed several suggestions from various forums that recommended using the built-in recovery tools for the PS3.

Finally, I decided to put the original hard drive in it and remove the 250 GB drive I had installed. The original drive has worked perfectly since. The larger drive passed one scan test using a third-party program but showed a bad sector after scanning it with chkdsk in Windows 7. For now I’m just going to leave the original drive installed – I use the PS3 so infrequently these days I’m not sure if I’ll need a larger drive anyway.

Updated 07/12/2011: Based on my experience I’m left to conclude that either the PS3 file system is not capable of marking bad sectors and ignoring them, or the implementation is very poor. Essentially, this may mean that it doesn’t matter whether or not you run chkdsk in Windows. When the drive is re-inserted it will be formatted by the PS3. Since the marking of bad sectors appears to be a file system task then the information collected in Windows (or another OS using similar utilities) may simply be lost or ignored and the PS3 will continue to access the bad sector.

The 250 GB drive I was using only had one sector detected as bad, but it was enough to cause numerous problems when installed in the PS3.

Why is Science so Bad in Movies and Television?

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I’ve been a fan of science fiction since before I could read. A long time ago I discovered that the best science-fiction was usually only found in written form. Sci-fi movies as a whole are typically riddled with bad science along with horrible plot holes (many of which are tied to the bad science). I suppose I’m a bit of a hardcore sci-fi snob.

That’s not to say that I don’t enjoy sci-fi movies or shows that aren’t based on real science. In fact, I really enjoy some of the odd or silly sci-fi movies including The Fifth Element and Doctor Who. But I’m often frustrated because stories that are classified as sci-fi are really sci-fi/fantasy or just plain fantasy. The Star Wars universe is a good example. Much of it is great (I grew up watching the original movies over and over again) but they’re littered with elements of fantasy. (Even one of my favorite series, the original Dune novels, is sci-fi with fantasy elements.)

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