Obama’s Legacy

He’s no Rutherford B. Hayes.

Some Various Security Notes

A mini-Review You Can Use [tm]: Call of Duty: Black Ops (PS3)

Long time fans of the site will notice I rarely, if ever, review first person shooters. It’s not that I hate them — hell, I used to love FPS games. I played Wolfenstein 3D on a cousin’s PC AND the knock off, Blake Stone: Aliens of Gold, which I to this day insist deserves more credit than it gets. To pick a random sampling, I’ve enjoyed Doom 2, Hexen, Quake II, Unreal Tournament, Medal of Honor, the Deus Ex series, Half-Life, Goldeneye, Counterstrike, Red Faction, Call of Cthulhu, Ultima Underworld (and Ultima Underworld II: The Footsteps of Doom!!), the Jedi Knight series (except Dark Forces), Tribes, and the Delta Force series.

My problem is that modern FPS games are about 80% multiplayer and 20% singleplayer. The big franchises now — Battlefield and Call of Duty — are based, in large part on this premise. (HALO is the exception; I should state I have never played HALO or its successors as I do not own an XBox.)

I own some of those games too — the original Call of Duty, Modern Warfare, Battlefield 1942, and Battlefield: Vietnam. All (except the last one) are pretty decent singleplayer. So, it might seem that I’d like Black Ops. Right?

Wrong.

I got it through Gamefly, and I can say, without a doubt, “Black Ops” is the most idiotic title for the game they could have possibly chosen. There is no stealth. There is no secrecy. Hell, you actually fight in a battle in Vietnam! It’s a shooter where the enemy takes cover but you can’t. It is, in a word, the single dumbest FPS I’ve ever played.

I know it got great reviews. That’s why I tried it. I wish I hadn’t. Objectives are unclear. The difficulty in areas (the Vietnam battle, for example) is so over-the-top stupid that there’s literally no fun to be had. The story is quasi-intriguing, but not enough to finish it. The characters in Call of Duty were much better and much more likable. I guess the graphics in Black Ops are better. That’s the one thing I liked. Some parts have potential — escaping from a Siberian prison camp is pretty fun — but it sometimes feels like work, and I can’t say that about many other games.

Maybe I’m too old for FPS games. Then again, I loved Human Revolution. Maybe it’s just that CoD is designed for a different audience. In any case, I will not be acquiring any future editions of this game.

Worthless Green Notes

And I’m not talking about inflation-depreciated US currency…

  • People aren’t buying the Johnny Storm…err, Chevy Volt, so the Obama administration wants to increase the taxpayer bill per Volt to $10K from $7500.
  • Steven Hayward has a longish post on why “climate science” doesn’t matter anymore.  The thesis is:  even if the global warming doom-mongers are absolutely right, there’s nothing we can do about it.  They’re saying that we need to cut back overall production of greenhouse gases in the US to 1910 levels by 2050.  That simply isn’t going to happen:  Americans will not stand for a complete destruction of their economy.  Ask the Chinese the same thing and they’ll laugh as they keep firing up those coal power plants.  You’re talking about reducing the world to Haiti and Somalia levels, economically.  So, basically, don’t worry about it.  Either the global warming folks are wrong, in which case we keep growing economically and all is well, or they are right, in which case we’re doomed and there’s nothing that can change it.  Piddly measures (Kyoto, for example) are entirely meaningless, and as Hayward points out, they’re being abandoned en masse anyhow.
  • The Affordable Green Lightbulb of the Future is out, only $50 a bulb.  Given that I don’t receive massive amounts of federal largess, $50 isn’t affordable to me.

We’re Still Stimulated

Another stimulus failure.

To be fair, government paperwork and reporting requirements are ridiculous, and many times, you’ll be asked to provide post hoc paperwork that you weren’t asked for in advance.  Note that the $11 million was for the entire grant; they don’t specify how much of it specifically was supposed to go to clothing people.  Regardless, the federal government should not be in the business of clothing people.

And I shouldn’t be too hard on the “stimulus;” it’s why the recession ended so soon, don’t-cha-know.

Social Engineering Is Part Magic

Teller, of Penn and Teller fame, discusses deception and trickery.  One of the best places to look for social engineering information is conversations with and books by magicians.  Magic is all about manipulating the human mind, tricking people, and coming up with known results which seem to be unknowable.  Sleight of hand is obviously an important part of this, but even in this short blog article, he spends a lot of time talking about the audience’s psychology.  Understand your audience, lead them down the wrong track, and you get them to do and believe things they normally wouldn’t.