Jul 15

From a Mac gamer: "Why I ditched Mac and why mac gaming sucks"

Why I switched to PC for Mac gaming.

For a number of years, I defended Mac gaming. I used to be a big PC gamer back in the day before I switched to Mac (Powerbook G4). I continued to game on my Mac up to getting my Retina Macbook Pro with its under-powered Nvidia 650M GPU. Gaming was acceptable..just. I would always lower the graphic settings to minimum, lower the resolution etc etc to get acceptable frame rates, but then I bought an Oculus Rift. The performance on the Mac with the Oculus Rift was un-acceptable, even with Windows 8 installed via Bootcamp and the latest graphic drivers installed. Then it clicked...within the space of a few minutes I came to a conclusion. For years, I compromised in favour of having a decent operating system (MacOSX) and a reliable machine. Watching everyone else with their i7, GTX 980 powered gaming monsters made me somewhat envious and I realised I had stopped being a Mac gamer...why? read on.

1 - Poor Performance

Sadly, there's no way around this. My Macbook cannot compete with high-end gaming systems. The Mac release of games are nearly always poorly optimised ports of the Windows versions, even with the big Mac game publishers, Aspyr and Feral Interactive. At times, more often than not, you'll find these ports are actually just the Windows version in a wrapper to make it run on a Mac, therefore it's not optimised for Macs. There are definitely some developers who develop directly for the Mac (Valve, Blizzard etc), respect to them, but the majority do not.

Mac users seem to be happy to have a decent gaming experience at the expense of visual quality. Why do that? Why compromise? Why not use your Mac for more serious pursuits and purchase a mid to high end gaming PC and enjoy gaming properly without compromising.

2 - Poor Support

A number of developers out there will rush out a Mac version of their games, and forget about it, focusing all their support on the Windows versions. Need some support down the line? Forget about it.

3 - Cost of mac games

This is biggie for me. I know Macs do cost more and therefore, the games cost more. I can forgive this in some cases where the developer has done a lot of work to support the Mac and developed a native (i.e. non-wrapped) version of the game. In this case, they do deserve to be compensated for their hard-work. In other cases, however, some developers are charging more for the Mac App Store version of the game 'cause they can'. Frequently, you'll find the App Store version costs twice as much as the Steam version , which can frequently be run on multiple platforms (Windows, OSX and Linux). It makes no sense to buy the game from the App Store when the Steam version offers more value for money.

4 - Lack of Variety

There are a lot of games for Mac. There is no denying that, but compared to the availability of Windows games, Mac is very very small. I look at my Steam account, I have to say that about 20% of the games on there also have a Mac version. The majority do not. The amount of Mac gamers who miss out on the huge variety of Windows games is staggering.

5 - Delays in releasing

This is another biggie. There is a huge amount of legal wrangling involve when developing a Mac version of game and porting companies are delayed when they have to deal with this sort of issue. It's definitely something that will have to change if things are going to improve. Other companies release games, without warning, on Mac months, sometimes years after the Windows version has been released. It's an obvious cash-in, especially when they wash their hands of the Mac release after it's released and neglect the Mac users who have spent the cash to actually buy their products.

In conclusion. Mac gaming will not be taken seriously, at least not in the short term until things improve, the hardware gets better, the developers support their users better and releases are timed correctly. In the end, I jumped ship and bought myself a i7, GTX 980 powered Windows gaming rig and I've never looked back.

I'd recommend Mac gamers do the same, and either get yourself a decent console or a decent gaming rig and enjoy games the way you're supposed to enjoy them without compromise.

Oct 11

Rudyard Kiplings "If"

This is a poem very close to my heart. It's one that should be read and re-read by anyone involved in Scouting or not as it really hits the mark. Read it when you're feeling discouraged or down.

If by Rudyard Kipling

IF you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise:
If you can dream - and not make dreams your master;
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: 'Hold on!'

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
' Or walk with Kings - nor lose the common touch,
if neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man, my son!

May 10

7th Paisley JNI Scouts in Inchmurrin, 1975

I discovered an old video posted by Gordon Barr, the son of my old Scout leader, John TK Barr (Ian) from a scout camp in Inchmurrin, just off Loch Lomond in Scotland. I wasn't there (I would have been only a few weeks old at this point), but I do recognise some of the leaders (love those glasses Roger) who are still there to this day.

1975 Scout Camp - Inchmurrin from Gordon Barr on Vimeo.

The video was created in 1975 by Ian who was an avid film maker and has made several films over the years. I think it's interesting to look at these videos and realise how much Scouting has changed over the years. I hope some old members of 7th Paisley JNI Scouts will look at this video and maybe bring back some long forgotten memories. Thanks to Gordon for posting this.

Feb 10

Walk - Windsor to Marlow

Marlow is set in arguably the most beautiful stretch of the Thames Valley. The wooded slopes of the Winter Hill rise on the opposite bank as you reach the town and there are views of grand homes starting with the grandest of all, Windsor Castle. We started off from the Eton & Riverside station on a bright Saturday morning in January. Windsor seems like a very nice and picturesque place with brief views of Windsor Castle towards the area of parkland which would be the start of our walk to Marlow. There are an abundance of swans on the river and families on days out throw bread for them. We continue our walk to the outskirts of town and cross a small but pretty pedestrianised bridge. We now continue past the boat houses to reach some riverside meadows. The Windsor racecourse is on the right handside and seems to go on for miles, continuing as we pass Boveney Lock. The Lock is well maintained with well maintained gardens and even a little flower pot man by the footbridge over the lock.

The path became increasingly tree-lined as we continued, and as the racecourse was left behind Windsor Marina and the magnificent Oakley Court became visible across the river. This was replaced with what must be some fairly expensive riverside houses, but all the time the path remains in trees. Soon the noise of the M4 starts to intrude our walk, and soon we are passing under this large steel structure to approach Bray Lock.

It was nighttime at this point and the sky was clear with a full moon illuminating everything. Soon, a road was joined with some houses to the right, and then one of the highlights for me of the entire walk of the Thames Path came into view - Brunel's Sonning Arch that carries the Great Western main line over the river in two arches. This bridge is still the lowest, flattest brick arch in the world, and carries far heavier trains at far greater speeds than when it was first constructed nearly 170 years ago. We soon reached Maidenhead bridge, which carries the old A4 over the river. This bridge, despite being less than a century older than Brunel's railway bridge, is of an entirely different generation, with a series of small stone arches carrying the road over the river. It is a pretty bridge, but details well how much Brunel pushed the engineering of his time, and indeed how fast civil engineering was progressing in the early nineteenth century.

A long road walk followed northwards alongside the river, with some fairly pleasant views over the river. Before long we passed by the bustling Boulter Lock, next to which in the middle of the river is Ray Mill Island.

Shortly after the lock the path thankfully left the road and headed along a path behind houses, with some pleasant view across the river. The houses were soon left behind and a rough path continued along the riverside for about a mile, and just after the boathouses at Cliveden on the other side of the river were reached the path left the river to had inland towards Cookham. Cliveden, now a hotel, is best known as being the scene of the Profumo scandal in the sixties, and apparently the riverside cottages was heavily involved.

We reached Marlow and stayed in the Crowne Plaza hotel for the night and headed back to London the next day.

Our next walk will be in the Yorkshire Dales to explore the Gordale Scar on Saturday 26th February. Keep a look out for the report on that one. This is an area I have dreamed of exploring ever since I was a young boy.

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