Star Trek: Picard

Note: Minor spoilers ahead (but there are still like 10 episodes worth of plot reveals and twists left in the season).

I thought the trailer I saw last year looked pretty compelling, but it's taken me a while to finally get around to watching the first episode of Star Trek: Picard. Now that I've seen episode one I'd say it's off to a good start. Patrick Stewart is as good as ever. It's kind of wild to see him play an elderly version of my favorite captain- he's the same Jean-Luc and yet time has taken its inevitable toll. His mind remains sharp, but his physical limitations are apparent. He's going to need a lot of help if he's going to start gallivanting around the galaxy again.

I think the premise of a synthetic life ban and Data having one or more daughters (possibly thanks to a missing radical superfan scientist who may be behind his outlawed offspring) is pretty compelling. I was kind of shocked that the Dahj character was killed off so soon after being introduced, but it turns out she has a twin and that one's still out there (apparently in some kind of Federation assimilated Borg cube!) for Picard to track down. And the dream sequence conversations between Picard and Data have been really good as well, it's awesome to see Brent Spiner reprise his role.

Other random things I liked in no particular order:

  • Number One is a pretty solid dog even if he pretends to not know French.
  • The Romulan refugee staff that help Picard run his vineyard are pretty great.
  • The fight scenes were a lot better than at least one person I followed on social media described them as being.
  • It seems like the synth hunters are some kind of Romulan special forces group, but there's got to be more to it.
  • Data was really the only other STTNG character out of the gate and hopefully they'll dole out the old cast appearances slowly and they'll be more than mere cameos.
  • Sounds like Patrick Stewart personally asked Whoopee Goldberg to reprise her role as Guinan- I'm particularly looking forward to that one.

CV vs. Prep

I caught the big showdown between Central Valley and Gonzaga Prep tonight since I was nearby and we play CV Tuesday. It was an entertaining game even though Central Valley was pretty dominate from the beginning. I was kind of surprised to find out Hodges Flemming ended up with 18 for the Bullpups because he was ice cold from outside the arc, but he had a bunch of sweet drives and pullups in the key that obviously added up. Liam Lloyd was held to 10 points so that was a big reason Prep struggled offensively.

Gavin Gilstrap continues to dominate against smaller teams, which basically means the rest of the GSL. Prep had no real answer for his 6'10" size and Jayce Simmons is the best point guard in the league hands down. It's to Simmons' credit that he's able to fit his game into the confines of an offense that plays at a slower pace1 than one that would best suit his speed and talents.

With five games left in the regular season I don't see Central Valley dropping two games barring a significant injury or a surprising collapse. Their defense is looking really solid and I'm still puzzled that they lost to Richland earlier in the season. They're going to be a tough test for Ferris once again when we face off on Tuesday.


  1. As it absolutely should to take advantage of Gilstrap!

Adam Savage Tests Boston Dynamics' Spot Robot!

(www.tested.com)

Adam welcomes a new member to the Tested family: Boston Dynamics' Spot robot! All throughout this year, Adam will be conducting builds and projects with Spot, integrating it into the workshop and taking it on adventures in the field.

I've always thought that Boston Dynamics robots are amazing1, but giving Adam Savage access to one of their Spot robot dogs for a year is going to be incredible. Can't wait to show my kids this video.


  1. And maybe just a little uncanny valley creepy too.

Spokane's new flag design will be a community effort

(www.spokesman.com)

Over the coming months, the newly formed Spokane Flag Commission will undoubtedly review a deluge of designs for a new city flag. But one thing almost everyone appears to agree on is that Spokane’s current banner, adopted in the 1970s, should be neatly folded and stuffed into the city history books.

“In a nutshell, the design is very complicated,” said Joshua Hiler, chairman of the commission, which held its first meeting last month.

I'm happy to see that thoughtful work on a new Spokane flag continues. The current incarnation is atrocious and we're long past due having a sound design that adheres to vexillological principles.

CRPG Update

I have not yet fully completed Bard's Tale as of today, but I'm pretty close. Levels 4 and 5 of Mangar's Tower plus the final battle with Mangar himself are the final challenges that await me. The third level has a lot of darkness, traps, and spinners that make navigating the dungeon challenging even if you have a map. I've got to say from a modern perspective that I question the fun and entertainment value of that design. Wandering around in darkness and bumping into things doesn't feel particularly rewarding and is not my idea of a good time. To be honest I wouldn't mind a few more battles than I've been seeing so far and a little less darkness.

As far as the next game to tackle goes, I'm considering Bard's Tale 2, but strongly leaning towards picking up Forgotten Realms: The Archives - Collection Two on GOG1 because Pool of Radiance is one of the CRPG Addict's top 3 classic CRPG games based on 10 years of reviews. The other highly interesting title in the collection is Forgotten Realms Unlimited Adventures, which is basically a toolkit for building your own game using the Gold Box engine. I'm a complete sucker for game construction sets and the whole thing is so inexpensive it ends up being an amazing value just for the six other games in the series.

FRUA has a big following and modding scene across the last 25 years with extra tools and ways to overcome some of the original limitations. Additionally there's a modern FRUA inspired fan remake of the editor and engine called Dungeon Craft. Dungeon Craft is even more flexible and powerful, but it has the drawback of beeing Windows only. There's a dedicated forum with a ton of good information on both the FRUA and DC systems and I look forward to exploring them further over the next couple months.


  1. Only $9.99 for 8 games even when it's not on sale.

Crazy Finish

My Ferris Saxons ended up losing to Mead by 3 tonight after leading by 9 points at the half. The second half in particular was a pretty intense series of momentum shifts with Mead charging back into the lead within the first two or three minutes of the third quarter thanks to strong offense and a series of Saxon miscues. We eventually came around in the fourth quarter and reestablished about a 7 point lead thanks to some stops and timely 3s from Zach Fleming and Kobe Smith, but then inexplicably let Mead star Tyson Rogalette score 12 straight points off 3s and free throws to take an insurmountable four point lead with about two seconds and change.

Then things got weird. Down 4 points, with just over two seconds left in the game Zach Fleming received the ball and dribbled up the sideline directly into Mead coach Glenn Williams who had inexplicably stepped onto the court1 and directly into his path. The refs huddled up and made the correct call of a technical foul, awarding Ferris two free throws attempts, and one last possession with the ball. What should have been a sure win for Mead suddenly was in doubt yet again. Rubber Chicken hero McCoy Spink took the free throws, but only made the first, and we were forced to put a final desperation three as time expired. It didn't happen and we had only our horrendous free throw shooting (6-16 which was more like 6-20 based on front ends of 1 and 1 shots missed), dumb turnovers, and rebounding margin (-14 according to our stats guy) to blame.

In other GSL news tonight Gonzaga Prep got a huge 69-63 win over Mt. Spokane to virtually assure themselves a second place finish in the 4A with a real shot to still pickoff Central Valley as well when they meet Friday.


  1. More bizarrely this is actually the second time he's gotten a technical for interfering with play along the sideline in a game against us. Both times I would describe it as a flukey lapse of thought rather than anything else.

Dave Nichols: All-star showcase will present best high school basketball east of Cascades

(www.spokesman.com)

These games will pit “Metro” against “Region” all-stars and will promote the highest quality of high school basketball and provide the players an opportunity to play with and against the best basketball players – seniors and underclassmen – that Eastern and Central Washington and North Idaho has to offer.

Putting together an Eastern Washington (and North Idaho) showcase for top area boys and girls basketball players is a great idea. Hats off to the Spokesman Review for making this happen in a combined event.

Laptop Overhaul

We've had an old Dell Latitude E6400 laptop sitting under our downstairs computer desk for three or four years now and on a whim I decided to see if would even boot up. It got part way, but as I recalled it had been dropped by the kids a few times and there was probably hard drive damage. I have a few old 2.5" mechanical SATA drives lying around so I decided to swap one in and see if I could install Windows 10. The fact that the laptop seems to be pre UEFI ended up preventing me from booting up off my Windows 10 installer flash drive installer. So at that point I decided to just install a copy of Ubuntu MATE in order to get it into a workable state while I wiped it down and cleaned up the kid-grime on the exterior. That install went smoothly and really didn't take all that long despite installing on a mechanical hard drive rather than SSD.

Once I had the Latitude up and running again I decided to see if I could find a couple appropriate so-dimms that would allow me to upgrade it to more that 2GB RAM. As luck would have it I was able to track down a pair of 2GB RAM chips in my stash of old parts without too much of an issue and those worked fine. The one caveat I had forgotten was that for a certain class of Core 2 Duo laptops from this generation1 their motherboards are only actually capable of addressing 3 out of the 4GB total. So while it's an improvement to do the upgrade it's not quite a big as I had hoped.

I also did some further Windows 10 installation research after the fact and it sounds like it is possible to install that upgrade, but the successful people performed the installation on top of an existing Windows 7 installation. That method helped ameliorate the driver support difference as Windows 10 will try to continue using any existing Windows 7 drivers that don't have a Windows 10 replacement. I may still pursue this angle as this Latitude will mostly be seeing use as a spare laptop and potentially a game machine for the younger kids and there are far more gaming options on the Windows side of things. It would also probably be worth it to pick up a cheap 128GB SSD now that I know the hardware is running fine overall and before anyone starts using it again too regularly, but we'll see how it goes.


  1. Also true of some MacBooks from the same era.

What a Week for WSU Athletics!

Last week ended up being pretty incredible for WSU Athletics:

So tons of stuff worth reading about and filing away for posterity. WSU soccer was one of my favorite sports to attend during my time at Pullman and it's been awesome to see them slowly but surely grow into one of the most consistently excellent programs at WSU. It was cool to hear that Klay Thompson made a joke about the only press coverage when he played being Vince Grippi 1, whose work for the Spokesman I've been a fan of since his time working the high school beat and particularly once he started covering the Cougars. I'm also really happy to see WSU basketball on the upswing again after the post Tony Bennett2 downturn.


  1. And Ferris girls basketball assistant this season.

  2. Who I have all the respect in the world for, but always felt pretty jaded about compared to Cougar Nation at the time and I think a lot less bitter when he predictably left.

Hoops Roundup

The last three or four days have been pretty interesting for area high school and college hoops. In the GSL it was rivalry week and while there were no major upsets there were a lot of surprisingly close games. League leading Central Valley narrowly defeated University 50-49 in the Stinky Sneaker competition, Ferris beat Lewis & Clark 61-54, and Mount Spokane handled Mead 64-48. At this point the GSL 4A ranks have Central Valley solidly in first (7-0), Gonzaga Prep in second (6-1), Mead and Ferris tied for third (4-3), with University just a game behind them (3-4). Tuesday's matchup with Ferris at Mead will be huge for further establishing the standings with University almost assured of picking up a win against North Central (2-12 overall right now).

Switching gears to the college front: after a really rough stretch in northern California last week, WSU bounced back in a big way with a stunning 72-61 home win over 8th ranked Oregon on Thursday. Then Saturday they celebrated the retirement of Klay Thompson's jersey with a big 89-76 win over Oregon State. I felt great about Kyle Smith's hiring last spring, but I did not expect the level of Pac-12 success he's already managed to coach this team to (3-3 going into next week's games at Utah and Colorado). Athletic Director Pat Chun continues to make all the right moves when it comes to hiring coaches and bringing a ton of excitement and positive attention to Pullman, WA.