I’m Still Blogging

Hello everyone! In case you may be wondering if this site is still active, then no need to fear.

I haven’t been able to update this WordPress site in a quite so I apologize for being absent since my last post on the Nintendo Switch.

Field_FRONT_0You should expect more posts in the weeks to come, especially radio related content. I recently purchased a slightly used Eton Field with Bluetooth. It is basically a newer version of the Field 550 but with Bluetooth so you can stream content to the radio from a PC or smart device.

The Field BT will be reviewed sometime after I get my hands on it next week. I had also traded in my two year old Sangean WR-22 to Amazon.

I am thinking of doing something special on YouTube once I get the Field BT. There’s an idea of possibly creating a weekly YouTube stream session on weekend evenings.

It will be via Google Hangouts and viewers can interact with the show called “Shortwave Tonight.” It would something similar to a game session on Twitch, but with radio and other radio listeners.

I am planning on doing it primarily on Saturday nights between 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. However, times may vary depending on availability or some internet fluke.

Needless to say, I think it will be a lot of fun interacting with other SWLs and a talking about radio while listening to some interesting stations.

Thirty Days Later With The Nintendo Switch

It has been 30 days since I purchased Nintendo’s newest console. The Switch is a hybrid console that docks into a charging station and displays on a TV. It also can play as a handheld console much like a PlayStation Vita or Nintendo 3DS.

This is just a brief summation of my experience of the Switch. I won’t give too much details because there are already numerous tech reviews that do a better job of explaining the system.

Since March 3rd, 2017 (the launch day), I have been playing the Switch every single day. It’s unlike any console that has ever come out. Nintendo has hit it out of the park.

The Switch is versatile. It plays like a home console but you can also take with you. I was able to take it with me when I went to Boston for PAX East and continue playing Zelda while away from home.

The controllers share the same versatility. You can connect the Joy-Cons to a grip, separate them similarly to Wii Remotes, or operate them as two separate controllers.

As for game selection, it is still barebones but the library of titles is growing each week. However, the main system seller at this point is The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. It is easily my favorite game in the series and I am only halfway finished with it.

Other titles like Fast RMX, Blaster Master Zero, Shovel Knight, Snipperclips, Snake Pass, Binding of Issac, and few others are fun and low cost games to tide Switch owners over after Zelda until more releases are on the way.

I like that how I able to be in the same room as my roommate while we both play Zelda. Other consoles like the PS4 and Xbox One have remote play features that try to achieve this with other devices, but the Switch is independent of internet connections that could hamper play on a laptop or Vita.

Overall, I love the Nintendo Switch and it’s my favorite Nintendo console thus far. I still have concerns like Virtual Console, third party lineup outside of indies, and online infrastructure.

Admittedly, owning a Switch now does feel like a beta test but I am enjoying with my time with it. I am looking forward to what Nintendo has to offer later in 2017 and beyond.

Game Of The Year 2016: What A Ride!

Gaming was great in 2015 as there were many great titles like MGSV, Fallout 4, Rise of Tomb Raider, and others. It was a tough call, but The Phantom Pain was my favorite release of that year and perhaps my favorite Metal Gear Solid in the series.

This past year, 2016, did not have as many heavy hitters but there were solid games. Like the previous post, I had a tough time picking my Game of the Year.

There are two games that are very enjoyable. One of these came out during the summer while the other released late November.

A Very Close Second Place

uncharted-4

I will just go with the runner-up first. Uncharted 4 is a masterpiece and wonderful looking game.

If you are a fan of the franchise, then you need to play this game. For newcomers, you don’t need to play the older games, but there are some character threads that might be worthwhile exploring.

I am just say Nathan Drake is a baffon and he is well aware of his flaws. It’s actually why his character is only of most endearing aspects of the series. You seem him mature a bit, but falls into older habits which will ultimately haunt him later.

Gameplay is similar to the PS3 entries, but blends some mechanics from The Last of Us, another excellent Naughty Dog Sony exclusive. Stealth kills are possible and Drake can run in a straight ride and jump better without falling into a precipice. I won’t spoil plot details but there’s a pretty awesome yet frustrating fight at towards the end.

The Winner: Final Fantasy XV

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Admittedly, I have a bias because I am a huge fan of Final Fantasy. It’s not why it is my Game of the Year.

I have yet to finish this game, but the ending draws near. The road trip between Noctis and his pals has been a fun ride.

The boys in black are on a trip to see the Prince’s bride-to-be while an militaristic empire invades their homeland. Torn over his duties and own desires, Noctis seeks out an ancient power to reclaim his kingdom while looking for his fiance.

15443069_10102422217483930_5937583710742483285_oSome of the narrative is a bit convoluted, and it is better explained through the Brotherhood anime on YouTube and Kingsglaive movie. Although I have not completed the story missions, I have a better understanding of the overall plot and it is a decent story.

With that said, there are some holes in the narrative. If you didn’t watch the extra media prior to Final Fantasy XV’s launch, then you might be lost.

Despite that, I am able to grasp the main story, but I am still wondering a few things like the Empire’s intentions, why they want the Crystal aside from being a source of power, and does Noctis actually love Lunafreya.

Those are a few questions, but I feel the plot is similar to quality of the SNES era FF games. Rest easy in knowing it is leaps and bounds better than the mess in Final Fantasy XIII and its spinoffs.15259405_10102401298385970_1040456577925797878_o

Gameplay is pretty good and a step forward. Kingdom Hearts fans will find FFXV approachable because of the combat.

I can go on and on about this game that most reviews have covered. I will put my two cents in.

Final Fantasy XV, while flawed in some ways (especially the glitches), is what the series needs right now. The story is fine, but there is enough content and combat from keeping it boring.

I am 64 hours into it and still have numerous hunts and side-quest yet to be unlocked. This might be the longest Final Fantasy game yet.

15252521_10102397013123670_5353952262437231001_oThe relationship that Noctis and “his bros” feels genuine and their camaraderie is strong. Most Final Fantasy games centered around a “love story” but this one is more platonic than romantic. I wouldn’t be surprised if someone hasn’t made comparisons between Noctis & Friends with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

It took Square-Enix 10 years to make this game and it was well worth the wait. By 2016, the series has seen underwhelming or underperforming titles.

They didn’t capture the magic that earlier games like FFVII were able to capture. This game’s magic is a calumniation of Final Fantasy’s best qualities.

There’s a little bit of every Final Fantasy game in XV. It reminds of Final Fantasy IX without the medieval/steampunk aspect.

It’s not my all time favorite Final Fantasy game, but it is definitely in the top 3. Certainly, it is my Game of the Year for 2016!

 
Also, let me leave you with this amazing glitch! Ignis is a master chef, but terrible chocobo rider.

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New York Travels: Taking A Bite Out Of The Big Apple

In the second article about my trip to New York City, I wanted to write about some of the restaurants inside the city. I actually composed a list of various places to go, but I actually went off the rails with most of the eateries.

 

The Meatball Shop

6d6e04d4After I landed in LaGuardia and settled in my hostel room, I took the L-Train and went to The Meatball Shop. Located near Union Square, this was one of the first places to check out.

It is highly reviewed and I’m a sucker for pasta. On the menu, you can choose the types of meat, sauce, and cheese.

I went with a mix of beef, pesto sauce, and mozzarella. There are 4 large meatballs that sit on a plate of pasta with a slice of bread.

By far, The Meatball Shop was one of my favorite places to eat in NYC and I will recommend every potential visitor to check it out. The meat and sauce was so tasty.

 

Deli’s 48

Later on that same day, I looked around midtown Manhattan especially around Rockefeller Center. As the sun started to set, I began my trek back to the bus stop.

delis-48During my walk, I wanted to stop by a smaller shop and grab a dinner to-go. New York delis seemed like a good solution.

There’s one called Deli’s 48 that appeared on my route. Inside the establishment on 48th Avenue, there is a deli, coffee section, and an international food buffet.

I ordered an Italian Supreme Cold Sandwich, which contained ham, salami, pepperoni, pepper, prosciutto, lettuce, tomato and oil vinegar. For a nine bucks sandwich, it was very large and thickly loaded. It was well worth the money.

 

Coney’s Cones

13331028_10102083991820870_8150673938224398280_nOn my second day, I spend my time in Brooklyn and Queens. Toward the late afternoon, I took the train to Coney Island and checked out the boardwalk.

While looking at the ocean, I went to get some ice cream at Coney’s Cones. For about $4 or $5, you can get two heaping scoops in a bowl or waffle cone.

I got chocolate and mint chocolate chip rounds of ice cream. It’s the best of both worlds as they are my favorite flavors.

Out of any ice cream parlor I’ve ever been to, Coney’s Cones is my favorite one. The price is steeper than Baskin Robbins but you get what you pay for.

 

Danny’s Pizzeria

A short walk from the Moore NY Hostel, there’s a pizza place in Brooklyn called Danny’s Pizzeria. I wanted bona-fide NY style pizza and there was no shortage.

13335841_10102084093067970_3153748107829155425_nHowever, I searched for nearby places and Danny’s Pizzeria was close by and has decent reviews on Yelp. After a long wait (there was a large crowd in front of me), I ordered a personal sized “Danny’s Special.”

The “personal sized” was actually quite large for one person. It was more equivalent to a medium at other establishments.

Danny’s Special had Italian sausage, bell pepper, pepperoni, onions, cheese, and mushrooms. It didn’t look like the most appealing pizza, but it was very flavorful and delicious.

It was about $12 and was probably the most filling meal I had during my vacation. I earned it though as I walked all over the city during the trip.

 

Bill’s Bar & Burger

Located in Rockefeller Center, Bill’s Bar & Burger was one of the those random places I walked by and took a gamble. You couldn’t get a burger wrong at a burger joint. At least, that’s what I said to myself.

I tried out a Bacon Cheddar Burger with fries and Keegan Mother’s Milk Stout. The stout had a familiar taste. It wasn’t Wiseacre’s Get Up to Get Down, but the taste and texture was similar. Still, it was pretty good.

The burger itself was on-point. It wasn’t moving mountains, but it was a pleasurable meal.

 

Happy Lucky Restaurant

aaedb5c92696ca0f70e279b371add339Little Italy and Chinatown were two areas in New York to check out for some unique food. I wasn’t able to go to Little Italy but went to Chinatown instead.

Chinatown in NYC was a very interesting neighborhood. There were a ton of shops and restaurants wanting a visitors attention.

As I was going from outdoor menu to menu, there was a man for this particular one that wanted me to check out his eatery.

I went inside Happy Lucky Restaurant and it’s pretty much what you’d expect in every Chinese restaurant.

One thing to note to future travelers to New York: bring cash if you go to Chinatown. Many places here do not take debit & credit cards. You don’t want to hustle to the nearest ATM once you get your ticket.

Aside from that issue and no air conditioning at Happy Lucky, it was a very full meal of General Tso’s Chicken. Plenty of chicken, rice, and teas. It was almost too much.

The magnificent feast only set me back about $10.

 

Heartland Brewery

13344713_10102086779354630_7023604804722250177_nAfter going on top of the Empire State Building, I went back down to the bottom floor and went inside Heartland Brewery. Prior to leaving Memphis, I checked out their menu and was determined to try the Oatmeal Stout and the NY Strip Steak Sandwich.

The sandwich tasted good and has pepper jack cheese, onion straws, chipotle mayo. It was served on a brioche bun and fries.

The Oatmeal Stout was similar to the milk stout at Bill’s but this has a dark chocolate flavor and was more foamy.

This was the most expensive meal I had in New York. The NY Strip Steak Sandwich was $19 and the Oatmeal Stout was $8 for a pint.

 

Hard Rock Cafe

13315628_10102088776527280_7580482972107402094_nI am probably going to get some flack for going to it, but Hard Rock Cafe in Times Square was my last stop on my final day in NYC. If you been to any of them across the country, then the food here is virtually the same.

I came here to actually check the place itself instead of the food. There’s a lot of rock memorabilia here including a guitar from a famous Beatle. Speaking of guitars, there a section of wall embedded with them.

As for the food, it is the same menu in all Hard Rock Cafes and it wasn’t to write home about. It wasn’t bad either. If I remember correctly, the meal was a Buffalo Chicken Club Sandwich with remoulade sauce and a Sam Adams.

 

There were many more eateries I wanted to experience in NYC, but 5 days isn’t enough time to get the full experience. Hopefully on my next visit, I’ll go to places I missed out on the previous trip.

New York Travels: Entering A Hostel Environment

ny-moore-hostelI feel bad about not blogging about it. With an upcoming trip to Boston in six months, I’m compelled to talk about my somewhat-recent trip to New York City.

Earlier this year, most of my friends were having these great vacation plans while I still didn’t act upon mine. In March 2016, I booked a Southwest flight from Memphis to the Big Apple.

Along with a flight, reservations for a living space had to be made. Hotels and AirBnb were considered, but they were a bit expensive.

The vacation was planned around Memorial Day (just three months away). There was not much time to save a lot of money so I opted for a hostel.

For those wondering about them, hostels are a cross between hotels and a college dorm. The amenities of a hotel are present at most hostels (like Wi-Fi, showers, beds, towels, coffee, etc.) but one shares a living space with other travelers. The trade-off is they are much cheaper.

During the trip, I stayed at the NY Moore Hostel, which is located in Brooklyn. The surrounding neighborhood reminded me a lot of Memphis. It had a Cooper-Young feel meshed with some industrial buildings sprinkled in. It was also close to the L-train, which was very convenient getting into Manhattan and other parts of the city.

As I checked in, the staff was helpful in taking me to my room and even gave me a tour. The living1 quarters were spacious with three twin-sized beds, dressers, lockers, and nightstand with lamp.

Bathrooms were also located in the unit and all the rooms were well-kept and clean.

There were other features including a partial kitchen (with pantry, refrigerators, microwaves, sink, and coffer makers), lounge with TV, computer room, and temporary storage for those with early arrivals or late departures.

One advantage of hostels over hotels is free food and entertainment. Each have their own ways, but the Moore Hostel would regularly have comedy nights and offered pizza. The only catch is to listen to some comedians, which NYC is well-known for.

One of the comedy nights had Tori Piskin,  Jacob WilliamsKatie Boyle, and Chris James. There were some hit and miss jokes, but by-and-large they had funny moments. It was good they took out time for a smaller crowd of strangers.

28535691Overall, the experience was good and my only complaint was the air conditioner didn’t work. The hostel staff was aware of the situation but it remained broken until I left. Other than that, it was a good stay and even folks at the front desk loaned me a lock and storage space free of charge during the trip.

Another part of the hostel experience was the roommates. One would think it could be horrible, but the folks in my room were decent folks. For my first two nights in NYC, there were two guys from Alabama. These guys were courteous and apologized one night for waking me after getting soaked in a downpour. Them waking me up was the least of my problems considering they had a rough night.

There was one night I had the room all to myself, but that changed when a kid from Detroit stayed until the final day in New York. He was okay and kept to himself, but I do remember him being on the phone a lot.

I’d say to anyone looking to visit NYC and have a lot of money, look into some other places especially if 13332731_10102088776098140_2322348117671306210_nyou are travelling with a group. I don’t regret staying at the hostel and had a good stay. If you temper your expectations, then you wouldn’t be terribly disappointed.

New York City has other hostels, including one in the middle of Manhattan, so definitely look into them if you plan on it.

This post is the first of a few more related articles about my NYC trip. There was so much to talk about that I haven’t begun to scratch the surface.

The next post will talk about some of the restaurants I visited during the trip. Hopefully you’ll enjoy these articles soon to come.

A Scooter Q & A

20160823_151400

For nearly 2 years, I have been riding on a 49cc scooter as my primary means of travel. From the day I first bought my ride to today, there have been a barrage of questions on my chosen transportation method.

Some questions are either curious piques or judgmental attempts to make me regret my decision. Regardless, I felt compelled to provide a Q & A about scooters after watching some YouTube videos of fellow scooterists.

In the near future, I hope to post an article on commuting via scooter. For now, here is a series of questions that I get on a near daily basis.

20160823_151422How fast does your moped go?
Many scooters have a good range of different engines. Some are 49 cc while others have a larger 300 cc.

My Honda Metropolitan is a 49 cc scooter. Like others in its class, it is a slow vehicle.

On average, I can ride at 35 mph on a flat surface, but tops off at 40 mph if going downhill or slows down to 25 mph if going uphill.

I can hear the sighs right now, but it is fast enough for my current needs (although I want something faster). This thing isn’t meant for busy thoroughfares or the interstate, but handles smaller streets and back roads fairly well.

Of course, something like a 150 cc scooter or motorcycle would be ideal.

How often do you fill up on gas?
The cool thing about scooters is they are fuel-efficient. Riders can get a lot of mileage on their commutes with little gas.

My Metro has about a gallon sized gas tank and only needs to be filled up once or twice a week. To put things in perspective, I commute roughly 20 miles a day.

The scooter gets about 100 miles per gallon, so after about 4-5 days it needs to filled up. Since it holds a little over a gallon of gas, it costs me generally $2 to fill it up with premium fuel.

How much does your scooter cost?
Unlike automobiles, scooters and motorcycles are fairly inexpensive in comparison. Prices vary depending on make and model.

Thrifty shoppers tend to go for Chinese made scooters like Tao-Tao which fall in the sub $1000 range. However, the most premium scooters to be found are Vespas with the most expensive one being roughly $8000 (a typical “wasp” is around the $5000 range).

I am in a mid-tier of sorts when I comes to manufacturers. Mine is made from Honda, which makes quality parts without being too expensive.

My 2015 Honda Metropolitan’s sticker price was $1600. With theft protection, taxes, and other added crap, it ended up being shy of $3000.

Can you store stuff like groceries in your scooter?20160823_151443

You can absolutely store stuff in a scooter. It’s one of the main reasons why I chose it over a motorcycle.

Underneath the seat, you’ll find ample storage which can fit a couple of grocery bags, a six-pack, some books, small laptop, or even a full-face helmet.

Some scooters have a compartment under the handlebars that can store gloves or even a travel mug. There are also some with bag holders and space in the front or back to add a little “trunk” to store additional items.

With scooters, you don’t have to worry too much about strapping something down or saddlebags.

What do you do when weather gets bad?

This is my favorite question because it seems like one that people don’t give me credit for when planning accordingly.

As some people know, I don’t own a car which has a set of challenges but I can handle it.

In the past 2 years, I’ve dealt with some bad weather and have managed to make it work.

Basically, I will ride out in any weather situation, but the most severe cases prove most difficult.

If it is hot, I don’t wear a jacket but long-sleeved shirt. If it is too cold, I put on layers.

If it is rainy, I will wear a jacket that is rain resistant. If there’s a severe thunderstorm or heavy rainfall, I either wait it out, pull over to the side and find shelter, or (in worst cases) get a Lyft ride.

For the rare instance of icy or snow covered roads, I’ll take a Lyft or Uber. If travel conditions aren’t too dire, I’ll ride slow, take my time, and make sure not to break too hard.

Fortunately, I’ve only had to do this once. Thankfully ice storms and blizzards are not common during Memphis winters.

In short, I suck it up and ride out regardless of the weather.

Do you need a special license to ride a scooter?

The laws are different in many states, but most are firm that any motorized bike with an engine of more than 50cc needs a motorcycle license or endorsement. Some states like Florida, Mississippi, and New York actually require one for 49 cc scooters like its faster brethren.

In Tennessee, you don’t need an endorsement nor registration and insurance. However, you do need a M class license or endorsement for anything over 50cc and you’re require to get tags and insurance above that threshold.

To get one, you can either take a test at a local DMV or take a MSF course. The course awards a certificate upon completion. It can be used to bypass the road & written test at the DMV and get a M class license.

20160823_151410Is it easy to ride a scooter?

I don’t have experience with higher end mopeds, but I can say riding a 49cc one is fairly easy. If you have experience riding a bicycle or even a dirt bike, then you should be okay on riding a scooter.

All you have to do is twist the throttle slowly and go. It’s also a pretty smooth ride.

For prospective buyers, I would suggest testing a ride out or find a friend that will allow you some time to get familiar with one.

I imagine lighter scooters (like the Metro or a Vespa) will handle better than something like a Honda PCX 150 or Yamaha SMAX. Weight might have an impact on riding ability though.

Have you laid it down?

Sadly, I have and the worst part was it happened shortly after I bought my first scooter. After turning onto a street with trolley tracks, the front tire got stuck into a groove and flung me to the side of the road.

Fortunately, I just had a few scrapes and some cosmetic damage to the scooter. I wasn’t seriously hurt, but it sucked.

Lesson learned: slow down while turning and avoid hazards like trolley tracks.

Do you like motorcycles or scooters more?

I do not hate motorcycles, and some of them look really cool. However for my needs and being a sucker for a retro look, I prefer a scooter.

In addition, you don’t have to worry about clutches and gear shifting. Think of it like this: motorcycles are like trucks with stick shift and scooters are like cars with automatic shifting.

Like previously mentioned, scooters have storage space. This space appeals to me so I can have a place to store my belongings or make a small grocery run.

What can you do if your scooter gets stolen and how to prevent it?

Before taking a vacation to New York City around Memorial Day, my first scooter (2014 Met) was stolen from my driveway. Without the keys and handlebars and ignition port locked, I thought my scooter was secured. I was wrong.

As of this writing, the police haven’t recovered it and I am still dealing with getting a payout from a theft protection policy. It’s an awful feeling and hate it that I didn’t do more to secure it.

After that incident, I keep it out of sight and locked up. For you, either buy a chain and lock it to a secure post, store it in a back yard or in the home (either garage, shed, or back house).

Another recommendation is get some tracking solution like a “Tile” which sends a GPS signal to pinpoint it in case of theft. You can also have a security camera to identify would-be thieves.

Unfortunately, theft is not entirely preventable, but you can cut down a criminal’s chance by taking some extra precautions. Simply locking the handlebars will help but crooks can still walk off with your ride.