Games Sales

Steam is a platform for gaming that I have found to be very handy. The games are installed on your local hard drive, but if you change computers or want to put your games on more than one computer, all you have to do is install Steam on the computer, and then have Steam install the individual games. And you can choose which games to install. Some can run on Linux so you can install them on a Linux computer, but most require Windows unfortunately. Still you could decide only to install a few games on a laptop with a smaller hard drive, or all of them on a desktop with terabytes of disk space. So while it is not the only platform I use (I also have a lot of games on GOG Galaxy, for instance), I find it quite useful. And both platforms let you update your games easily. Steam in particular makes it very easy to add DLC (Downloadable Content) to your games. for instance, Civilization VI has added lots of DLC to keep the game fresh, such as the Leader Pass, which adds new leaders to the game every few months. You purchase the Leader Pass once in the beginning, and then the new leaders automatically get added to your game. You just open up Steam, and download all available new content for any of your games.

One of the nice things about both Steam and GOG are the sales they run. GOG seems to run sales monthly, while Steam does it four times a year, Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter. You aren’t going to find bargains on the latest games in these sales; these are about catching up on games you may not have played when they first came out but might want to try when it doesn’t cost much. And you can get some real bargains if you look.

One of the YouTube channels I follow is a fellow from New Zealand who uses the handle JumboPixel, and he will do reviews of the games on sale on Steam whenever there is a sale, and I find his reviews valuable because he likes the same kinds of games I like. I first ran across him as someone who did videos on Civ V and Civ VI, and then he covered Humankind, which I bought but haven’t played a lot of yet. I always watch his review videos to see if there is anything I want, and in Summer 2023 I saw that Steam had something awesome on sale. Steam, if you didn’t know, is a platform put together by the game publisher Valve, but which has games from any publishers. But the Valve connection may be why they offered the Valve Complete Pack. This bundle of games included:

  • Counter-Strike: Condition Zero
  • Day of Defeat: Source
  • Team Fortress Classic
  • Day of Defeat
  • Deathmatch Classic
  • Opposing force
  • Ricochet
  • Half-Life
  • Half-Life: Blue Shift
  • Half-Life 2
  • Counter-Strike: Source
  • Half-Life 1: Source
  • Half-Life 2: Episode One
  • Portal
  • Half-Life 2: Episode Two
  • Left 4 Dead
  • Left 4 Dead 2
  • Portal 2
  • Counter-Strike: Global Offensive
  • The Lab

First, note that Source in a number of game titles refers to the Source 3-D game engine, so these are all 3-D games. Second, you might not want to play all of these games but there are some real classics in that list. And the bundle cost me, with tax included, $6.94 for all them. For that price, if you only played one of these games for a couple of afternoons you got your money’s worth.

Over at GOG I can see the combo of Master of Orion 1&2 for all of $2.39, Baldur’s Gate and Baldur’s Gate 2 for $4.99 apiece, and Myst for $2.99. These are all classic games. In fact, GOG has 50 pages of games for under $5. And once you establish an account at GOG you will get regular emails from them with the latest games on sale. I also want to mention Humble Bundle. They package up a group of games, generally with a theme of some kind, and let you decide how much you want to pay. The more you pay, the more games you get. A portion of the proceeds goes to charity, and the games can easily be added to your Steam account. Right now as I write this I see they have a bundle of up to 16 Train Simulator games. That is a niche audience to be sure, but I fondly remember many hours playing Sid Meier’s Railroad Tycoon, so I get the attraction. And I have purchased bundles of indie games that run on Linux from them, and run them on Steam, which is also available for Linux, but can only run games that are written for Linux specifically. So, there is no excuse for the game lover not to be playing a ton of great games for not very much money, just by knowing how to shop the sales.

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Audacity Update 20230702

I have been using Audacity for a variety of audio processing needs for some years now, and until lately I have been quite satisified. But lately it seems to have developed a hyper-sensitivity to errors and refusing to load files from my podcasts. I like to use Audacity to process those podcast files as described in my article “Preparing Podcasts for Listening“, and when those files won’t load that presents a problem. Among the errors I have gotten is a complaint about Bad Huffman Code, or Bad File Length, or Forbidden Bitrate Value. Now it is entirely possible that these are real errors of some kind, but are they really bad enough to just refuse to load the files? I think not. In fact, some online searching has disclosed that Audacity decided to enable error checking in libmad, which is the decoding library, which it had not done before. But they realized that it was picking up a lot of really minor stuff, so in the next version they may relax the error checking. I hope so, though I note that some of this information is from 2020.

My work around is to use online File Converters, which load the files just fine. Then I convert from MP3 to OGG, for instance, download the converted file, and then let my Audacity script run on the converted file, which it does perfectly. I have found a couple I like, though there is no shortage of converters out there. The two I have used are Convertio and Online Audio Converter. They are both fast and easy, and I note that both have now added some simple Video Editing tools. You wouldn’t use them for really serious work, but for combining two clips or cutting out footage they would probably work just fine.

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My Review of Traitor’s World

Traitors’ World by Stephen Goldin

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


This is #7 in the ten book series about the agents of the Imperial Special Investigation Service, and I found it to be one of the better ones. I like Goldin’s writing which I discovered through E.E. “Doc”Smith. This book is a combination of Space Opera and Spy Thriller. The two problems they have to deal with are first, that the conspiracy against the Empire is still out there and still trying to overthrow the Tsaritsa. Second, they have found a person who was supposed to be safely imprisoned on the planet Gulag, and how had she gotten out? Is there something going on there. The two husband-and-wife teams are separated, with one team going to Gulag to work from within and see what is going on, but for this to work they have to commit treason at a level below the kind that earns the death penalty but will instead earn them a sentence of banishment to Gulag. The other team will try to infiltrate the pirate fleet that is known to be part of the conspiracy. And there is a deadline because the Tsaritsa is coming of age and will be invested with full Imperial power, and this will be the obvious signal for the conspiracy to act.

As this is the part of 10 book series that has its own arc, I do not recommend it as a stand-alone novel. But it you are the kind of person who enjoys reading a multi-book series, give this a look. The books are light and a good read.



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My Review of The McCartney Legacy, Vol. 1 : 1969-1973

The McCartney Legacy, Volume 1: 1969-73 by Allan Kozinn

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


This is the definitive work on the music of Paul McCartney as a solo artist, following the breakup of the Beatles. It is clear that a massive amount of research went into this volume, and it reminds me of Mark Lewissohn’s magisterial Tune In in the depth of detail. It is clear that they not only searched out everything on the public record, but interviewed many people close to McCartney. The portrait they reveal is that of an artist with definite flaws, but also undeniable genius. Unlike John Lennon, who wanted nothing more than to tell everything that was in his mind, Paul McCartney is a very careful man in interviews who wants to control exactly what is said about him. That is why interviewing him would not be all that useful since the very things you would want to find out he would want to conceal. Lennon, on the other hand, would be very candid, and the next day he would also be very candid and contradict everything. And one of the themes that runs through this volume (and sums it up in the final chapter) is that Paul just could never give up control. You see that in the Get Back video, and it caused the first incarnation of Wings to break up. But there is a lot more as well. As a big McCartney fan, I enjoyed every word of this book, and recommend it highly to any other fans.



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My Review Of Under The Ivy: The Life and Music of Kate Bush

Under the Ivy: The Life & Music of Kate Bush by Graeme Thomson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


If you, like me, think that Kate Bush is one of those rare geniuses that only comes along rarely, this is abook you will love. It is both a biography of her life and a study in how she created her music and related works. The author clearly talked to every important person in Bush’s life to get these insights into her working methods, and this let’s him bring to light the subtexts to a lot of her songs. And I want to note that this not a hagiography. Sometimes Bush failed at what shje attempted, and the author is able to look clearly at those events as well. And of course she was recently in the news when one of her songs, Running Up That Hill, was used in a popular TV show and shot back up the charts.



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My Review Of Stellar Revolution

Stellar Revolution by Stephen Goldin

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


In book 5 of Agents of ISIS, the wedding of Tsaritsa Natalia is the big event, but first Pias takes Eva, his fiance, to his home planet of Newforest. There he gets an initial warm reception, until he says he cannot stay. And he can’t explain why, since ISIS is very careful about letting out information, particularly about thier top agents, like Eva, and Pias is destined to join ISIS formally himself. He gets ostracized as a result and has to leave without anyone acknowledging him. But on the ship back to Earth, they are captured by pirates, and they are part of the same organization headed up by Lady A. What do they want with the passengers of this ship? And Pias and Eva are of no use to them, so they are scheduled to be killed. And who is C, who just has come up? Is he or she above Lady A, below, and is there a B? In the climax, Judah saves the day by killing a robot who was going to kill the Tsaritsa, and the wedding does eventually come off. And Judah marries his fiance Vida, and Eva marries Pias, so all is well in the end.



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My Review Of Sanctuary Planet

Sanctuary Planet by Stephen Goldin

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


In Book 4 of the Agents of ISIS series, a problem has turned up. It seems that a number of prominent criminals have gone missing without a trace. And then the daughter of thee head of ISIS has also gone missing. They suspect she went undercover to try and solve the problem of the missing criminals, but she really doesn’t have field experience and is up against a very ruthless enemy. So the top agents of ISIS, Eva and Judah, are once again called into action to try and rescue the daughter, find out where the criminals have gone, and save the Empire. Two important new characters are introduced in this book. One is the mysterious Lady A, who seems to be the head of the conspiracy against the Empire. The other is Pias Bavol, who Eva falls in love with (and vice-versa). Another space opera romp.



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My Review Of Robot Mountain

Robot Mountain by Stephen Goldin

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


This is a continuation of Goldin’s reworking of his previous Family D’Alembert series as a new series called Agents of ISIS. The previous series was based on an idea by E.E. “Doc” Smith, and it was Smith who got all of the attention, so I think Goldin wanted something with his name on it. I enjoyed the story, which involves a threat to the Tsaritsa that is set to happen while she is meeting prospective husbands. The top agents of ISIS, Eva and Judah, are on the case but what does it mean that there is a bomb set to go off? And how does a planetary ruler with a fortress mountain filled with robots figure into the plot? Its a nice romp.



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My Review of Butterfly Stomp

Butterfly Stomp by Michael Warren Lucas

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


This is a short novella that is essentially the beginning chapters of the novel Butterfly Stomp Waltz, but it is a complete story so you shouldn’t be put off by that. It is an introduction to a series that Lucas has written involving a heroine who is like Mission: Impossible. The action ramps up from the beginning and never stops. Since this is available for free as an e-book from the usual places (I got it from Amazon), it is painless way to try out a new series. I’d say you should give it a try, you just might like it. I certainly didn’t put it down once I started.



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My Review of A History of Webcomics

A History of Web Comics, V 1.0: The Golden Age: 1993-2005 by T. Campbell

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


This does exactly what the title says it does: it covers the history of Webcomics from 1993-2005. Now, that is a pretty specialized topic, I will grant, but as it happens I like Webcomics and have a group of them I read every day, and I was interested in exploring this history in more detail, and maybe even picking up a few leads on ones I might want to add to my daily reading. Sadly, that didn’t work out because all of the ones that piqued my interest had either stopped producing or were already in my list. Ones that have stopped include, for instance, the wonderful User Friendly, which I miss, and Realm of Atland. Some of the ones covered, like Penny Arcade, I tried and decided were not to my interest. But the book still was enjoyable. I would say this is not a compulsive page turner, but a book to read a little from time to time as the mood takes you.



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