How not to use a vending machine

We have some vending machines at our business.

Yesterday, someone came up to me and let me know that our snack vending machine was just eating money and not registering the actual values of the coins that were being inserted.

I tested it out, and it appeared to be true, so I refunded the customer’s money and got out my tools to fix the machine.

It was actually a surprisingly easy solution – there were a bunch of coins stuck between the coin acceptor and the coin processor, so the coins would go through the acceptor and get stuck before they would be read for their value and dropped into the coin container.

I took apart the entire coin acceptor and processing device and pulled out the jammed coins.

Strange coins stuck inside vending machine

(Click to enlarge)

Apparently someone decided to mash two warped coins and two foreign coins into our vending machine. If you take a close look at the largest coin, the hair of the embossed person is actually quite elevated, and the whole coin itself is about twice the thickness of a regular US quarter if you account for the hair.

So, smashing in damaged or foreign coins.

That’s exactly how not to use a vending machine.

 


 

It’s a bomb

I’m at our family business right now.

I wanted to have a snack, but my snack of choice was a bit dirty. Literally.

So I took it to the bathroom to wash it before sticking it in the microwave and baking it.

On my way to the bathroom, a child shrieked at me and alerted everyone that I was holding a bomb.

Potato

That was a delicious bomb

 


 

Storm Psychology: Cognitive Dissonance

The response for the previous episode of Storm Psychology was pretty positive. Not only did people seem to like the content, but they also encouraged me to continue the series, which is something I rarely get (i.e., I get told “good job” a lot, but I rarely get told “keep going” or “make more”).

The actual content for Storm Psychology is already almost all written and done (I think there is one re­maining unpublished article left). However, it’s written in a pretty sophisticated manner, and I need to spend a good amount of time going through and rewriting it so it’s more exciting and catchy for video.

The point here is that I actually want to turn it into a consumable, entertaining video that people can watch in one sitting. I want to try to avoid turning it into a long podcast that people will listen to while commuting to work on the train. (If I don’t remix the work, it will end up being like a podcast.)

With the motivation derived from your encouragement, I decided to pump out Storm Psychology videos about once a week. Unfortunately shortly after November 30 (which was the date I released the first ep­i­sode), I got sick.

I get random illnesses all the time, and most of them aren’t even irritable enough for me to notice, be­cause I’m pretty resilient. However, I will often get a residual cough after getting sick, and that throws me off quite a bit.

If you’ve watched my stream for a long time, you might remember that I cough a lot for long periods of time, then randomly stop. After recovering from an illness (such as the common cold), I’ll have a lasting cough for a handful of weeks, and my huffing and puffing on stream is because of this.

I recovered from my illness within a few days after November 30 (I think it was another common cold), but, as I expected, I kept coughing for a long time afterwards. The unfortunate thing about my coughing is that it starts when I try to talk, presumably because the vibration in my throat makes it tickle, and my body’s response to it is coughing.

After three weeks, I’m still lightly coughing, but it’s subsided enough up to the point where I’m finally able to speak multiple full sentences again before my body decides to cough. So, I decided I was in a good-enough state to record another episode of Storm Psychology.

Source: http://youtube.com/watch?v=kUCGXhk9X2E&list=PLRz2JWFFHXPfp7U6spkl8K1HyM8K2dTC0

This week’s episode is on cognitive dissonance, which is the mental discomfort you experience when you hold two contradictory beliefs, perform an action that contradicts one of your beliefs, or receive new in­formation that challenges one of your beliefs.

Cognitive dissonance can appear in Heroes of the Storm when you’re trying to follow a guide that goes against what you originally thought was the right thing to do; when you play a hero simply because you see professional eSports athletes playing the hero, rather than because you actually want to; or when you say phrases like “worth it” to attempt to justify behavior that you know you shouldn’t have done.

Of course, those aren’t the only ways cognitive dissonance can affect your Heroes of the Storm play; check out the full video to learn more details.

If you’d rather read the original article, instead of watching the video, you can check out Corey Tincher’s piece on Tempo Storm’s website:

https://tempostorm.com/articles/storm-psychology-cognitive-dissonance

 


 


 

Have you ever wondered what the inside of a microphone looks like?

Lucky for you, while I was recording a video yesterday, my microphone broke.

I spent about half an hour taking it apart and trying to find out what was wrong with it, before giving up and using my internal laptop microphone.

Then, of course, I had to go through and edit the audio, because my laptop microphone pretty much only picks up the sound of my laptop cooling fan, and you can just barely hear my voice as background noise.

But that’s beside the point.

The internal circuit board of a Logitech microphone

I have no clue what part does what, and still don’t know where it broke.

R.I.P.

 


 

Top 5 Best Overwatch Heroes for Beginners

Yes, I still don’t like playing first-person shooters.

Yes, first-person shooters still make me dizzy.

Yes, I made my first Overwatch video.

Tempo Storm is planning on expanding into Overwatch, Blizzard’s newest first-person shooter game. I made a blog post referencing it not long ago, about how I’ve never been invited to a beta test, and Over­watch was no exception.

Luckily, my lead writer for Heroes of the Storm, Corey Tincher, also plays Overwatch, so he was able to help me get the content production part of Tempo Storm’s Overwatch division started.

I didn’t start earlier because I was waiting on other people to do their thing, but I ended up getting a bit impatient because I felt like I gave them plenty of time and I wasn’t seeing results. So, I just dove right in.

The first video that I made is the top five best heroes for beginners.

Source: http://youtube.com/watch?v=m38ZEHMHWRE&list=PLmsHcs33rbXGM_4qZJ159W2rPqgEXFK9t

The funniest thing about me and Overwatch content is that I know nothing useful about Overwatch, and I’m literally just there in the video as a personality. Luckily, I have two Overwatch writers in my Tempo Storm content team right now, and both of them are knowledgeable and easy to work with, so it made this process a lot better.

If you have any questions about the content, or have any feedback, feel free to leave them as a comment to that video. Corey is pretty good at scanning through comments and responding, so he’ll probably get back to you if you want his input on something.

If you want to contact me about this content, the best way to do so is as a comment to this blog post, as I’m pretty interactive on my website. But, I’m not sure why you would ever want to do that, as I have nothing intelligent to say about Overwatch, and I’ll probably end up making you worse at the game than you already are.

Also, don’t forget to subscribe to Tempo Storm Overwatch! It’s a completely new channel, so we’re still working on building up our Overwatch community.

 


 

First impressions of HotS Patch 15.3 notes (“The Lunara Patch”)

Today was a pretty exciting day for all Heroes of the Storm fans – we got a new patch, hero, holiday event, and matchmaking changes.

I focused in on the patch notes for today, and wrote about my first impressions. My article can be found on Tempo Storm:

https://tempostorm.com/articles/first-impressions-of-patch-153-notes-the-lunara-patch

Heroes of the Storm - Lunara

Here are some excerpts from my article, the first one from when I talk about how it doesn’t make sense to change K/D/A (kills, deaths, and assists) and reorder them to K/A/D (kills, assists, deaths):

Let’s put on our Storm Psychology hats (if you haven’t read the series, I highly recommend it – it’s my favorite series that we’ve published on Tempo Storm) and dive into a psychological phenomenon called introspection illusion.

Introspection illusion is a bias where people think they know exactly what they want and why they want it, when they actually don’t have a clue. Using this unjustified confidence, they predict what they will like and dislike in the future, without ever actually experiencing it first-hand.

What disasters has this caused? In 1985, Coca-Cola developed the New Coke flavor, which scored high in consumer feedback during testing periods; upon its public release, Coca-Cola received over 400,000 complaints about the new flavor. In 2009, Walmart’s customers said they wanted the aisles to be less cluttered; Walmart listened, and as a result, lost $1.85 billion in sales.

The new ordering of kills, deaths, and assists is strange, and doesn’t really click in my mind. I’d really like some insight as to why this change was made.

The second excerpt is from when I was talking about innovative and revolutionary cosmetics. This was in response to Blizzard continuing to release more skins and mounts, but no other cash shop items:

Back on April 1, 2015, Blizzard introduced the Big Head Mode as an April Fool’s joke. Every hero in game had their character model modified so their head would be about four times larger than normal. Of course, this was a joke, but I would still like to see this premise im­ple­mented as a cosmetic.

Let me pay 20,000 gold to put a Santa hat on all my heroes.

If Blizzard was able to inflate every hero’s head for an April Fool’s joke, then surely, the character models are designed well enough that they can easily modify the “head” of a hero? Just plop a hat on top of it, and you’re ready to spread holiday cheer. If it’s not that easy, then the earlier they act on innovative ideas like this, the better – the longer they wait, the more retroactive work they would need to do.

This same thing goes for mounts. The Cloud9 Champion’s Nexagon mount was released today as well, and, even though I already bought it for 5,000 gold, I most likely won’t ever use it, as I already have a mount-and-skin combo for every hero.

Instead, for 20,000 gold, let me activate an option to put the Cloud9 logo as an emblem on all my mounts. The theme here is similar to the Santa hat – give me something that I can buy and use in conjunction with the stuff I already have. Give me some revolutionary, outside-the-box cosmetics so I can use everything I’ve bought at the same time.

Heroes of the Storm: Big Head Mode

Interested in reading the full article? I also talk about Lunara’s trait, portrait border display changes, and poke more fun at K/D/A being changed into K/A/D.

https://tempostorm.com/articles/first-impressions-of-patch-153-notes-the-lunara-patch

If you have any feedback about my article, feel free to leave it as a comment. I don’t really check the dis­cussion section on my Tempo Storm articles that much, but I’m very interactive on my website, so if you have any questions or want my thoughts on something, ask here and I’ll probably get back to you within a day.

 


 

Tetris Ultimate for Steam/PC is a disaster

For those who are not already aware, I actually used to primarily be a Tetris personality three years ago. I was the play-by-play shoutcaster and event host for the 2012 world championship grand final, and I used to run a weekly Tetris show.

I left Tetris not long afterwards because I determined that there was no future in it as an eSport. The lack of support I received from the Tetris Company and Blue Planet Software when trying to organize the tour­na­ment was appalling – it was as if they didn’t want me to give their game massive amounts of pub­lic­ity for free, with just a little bit of their help.

We ultimately couldn’t even get a link to sign up for our tour­na­ment on Tetris Friends, which was the of­fi­cial Tetris “client” at the time.

Coinciding with the troubles I was having with the Tetris Company, Hard Drop, the community with which I was associated, was also going through a bunch of changes. As a result of my declining motivation to work on Tetris-related projects, someone else came up to take my place in leading Tetris broadcasting.

Unfortunately, my replacement was completely incompetent and had no clue what he was doing. He man­aged to somehow fumble together another year of world championship broadcasting, and it was a com­plete failure.

I took this as my cue to leave Tetris entirely, and transition onto a different game. Sure, I personally enjoyed Tetris, but there was absolutely no future in it.

Years later, I discovered that Tetris finally had a real client (instead of just an in-browser Flash extension), and the PC version would be released on Steam. Even though I left Tetris on unhappy terms, I still wanted to try it out.

The reason I originally started doing work in Tetris was because I enjoyed the game – I liked playing, and I liked improving myself to be better. Digging back and pulling out all these nostalgic feels, I downloaded Tetris Ultimate for Steam on release day.

I figured that, surely, after all these years, they would’ve made a great product. There were already so many Tetris clones with so many features, that they should’ve already known what the community wants in their games. There was literally no brainstorming required on the part of Ubisoft – they could literally just look at all these illegal, unlicensed copies of Tetris, and put in all the features into their own game.

That is very exactly not what they did. In fact, they took features they already had in Tetris Friends and took them out.

As you can probably tell by now, I’m very disappointed in the Steam/PC version of Tetris Ultimate. I thought this would be the next great thing in Tetris – the new universal hub for every member of the Tetris community to come together and enjoy some games. At this rate, I’m pretty sure people would rather play Tetris Friends in their browser, rather than purchase this US$14.99 inferior game.

I already had a bad impression of the game immediately after loading it up. You expect games nowadays to be crisp and clean to 1080p resolutions.

Tetris Ultimate for Steam/PC

The menu is blurry. The text isn’t crisp or clean, and it’s fuzzy around the edges. You can’t tell from that small preview, but go ahead and click on the screenshot above for the full 1080p resolution. It looks like something in less than 720p was taken and stretched out, rather than rendered at true 1080p.

Now, take a look at this screenshot:

Tetris Ultimate for Steam/PC

You’ll notice that the menu is slanted in the opposite direction. Do you know why? Because, for whatever reason, the panel swivels back and forth, depending on where your mouse is.

Sure, it’s some eye candy that makes the game a bit more flashy and fancy. But it’s probably the most ir­ri­tating and annoying thing that I’ve ever seen done with a menu.

Usually, when you see an item, you move your mouse to it and expect it to still be there when you arrive and click. When the entire menu swings around and your destination is no longer at its former location, it can get pretty infuriating pretty quickly.

So what was I hovering over in that screenshot? The “PARTY PLAY!” section. Apparently, you’re only allowed to add Tetribots to your party, unless you connect to Tetris Live. But, in my experience, even if you turn on Tetris Live … you can still only add Tetribots to your party.

Let’s stop complaining about the menu and jump into the actual game. Surely, it will be better, right? Well, not so much.

The first thing I noticed is the complete lack of control features. There is no initial hold/rotate feature, so if you play too quickly, a good number of your inputs are going to be ignored by the game. The auto repeat sensitivity and rate is very limited, and the game sometimes doesn’t even register a key release quickly enough, so the piece keeps moving, even after you let go of your arrow key.

The ghost piece feature also clearly wasn’t thought through that well, because the game matrix is blue, and the J piece is blue. The ghost piece outline is an extraordinarily similar shade of blue as the matrix, so it’s very difficult to see where your J piece will end up.

Tetris Ultimate for Steam/PC

Sure, if you’re looking straight at it, then you can tell the difference between the two shades of blue. But, when you’re playing at an extremely high level with great speed, you end up just barely glimpsing at all the elements on the screen, rather than focusing in on one thing, because you need to take in as much information as possible, as quickly as possible.

When doing that, it’s far too easy to not realize where your J piece ended up, especially because of the excessive number of inputs the game ignores. (Meaning, you press the keys and expect the piece to end up in one place, but because the first few key presses were ignored, it ends up somewhere completely different, and you don’t have a reliable ghost piece system to tell you that the piece will not drop where you expect it to.)

Tetris Ultimate for Steam/PC

The profile and achievement system is also wildly mediocre. Not only can you not really tell what the a­chieve­ments are, because they’re so poorly organized, but the clear achievement series that you can tell (because it’s right at the top) – the belt system – is very shallow.

You automatically get a green belt if you finish all the levels of Marathon mode. You get a black belt if you can complete Level 28 in Endless mode. (Also, since when is purple belt ever better than a red belt? Some martial arts even have red belt ranked higher than black belt.) There is absolutely no depth to it – you can literally become a black belt without ever really knowing how to play Tetris.

The other achievements are so hard to keep track because of how badly the panels are organized. It seems like this game was designed for console, then, when transferring it over to PC, instead of redesigning it to work well with computers, they just copied the controller-based menu over.

Grouped in with a bunch of random percentages that show up when you open your profile page (that represent the Tetribots’ achievements) (wait what?), it’s very difficult to actually build up a profile of Tetris credentials because none of it is very intuitive. Not to mention, if you do manage to get badges, they’re all very pixelated.

After playing Tetris Ultimate on Steam for a few hours, and thinking decently hard about it, I’ve concluded that this game is geared towards very casual players who are used to playing console games, but for whatever reason, want to play the PC version of Tetris.

There is no way high-level players can appreciate Tetris Ultimate because of how little it addresses com­petitive needs. People who play at the highest speeds simply cannot, because there is a forced delay be­tween pieces where inputs are not accepted. Players who play at the highest levels against others world­wide, again, simply cannot … unless they are able to figure out the multiplayer settings better than I can.

This was Tetris’ chance to prove that they really do care, and that they really have been keeping up with the communities of players who love their game. Without a doubt, they failed.

In a quickly advancing and evolving era of gaming, where even near-perfect games still cannot become big, Tetris is eventually going to be buried as one of the classics that couldn’t break through into the mod­ern industry.

After trying out this game, I’m glad that I left and moved on to games made by better companies with brighter, more innovative developers – instead of continuing to meddle with the struggling Tetris scene.

 


 

Second snowfall of the season

The second snowfall of the season happened last night (with the first being a little over a week ago).

(Click to enlarge)

Snow on tree in Chicagoland suburbs on December 2, 2015

Snowy neighborhood in Chicagoland suburbs on December 2, 2015

Snowy neighborhood with melted roads in Chicagoland suburbs on December 2, 2015

Take a look at the last photo – I have a puzzle for you.

Why does each house have one garbage can that’s covered in snow, and one that is not?

(Once you figure out the answer, you’ll think “oh of course,” but I’ve had a good handful of people who took a while to come up with the solution.)

 


 

Storm Psychology: Delayed Gratification

One of the writers for Tempo Storm, Corey Tincher, started a new series a few weeks ago called Storm Psy­chology. He apparently has a psychology degree, but never really had a chance to put it to good use.

He decided to whip out his psychology skills to start a series where he describes a psychology concept, then connects it with Heroes of the Storm. He explains in what ways the concept affects Heroes of the Storm, and if it’s a phenomenon that can affect your gameplay, you learn how to avoid the negatives and opportunize on the positives.

The first episode is on delayed gratification, or the ability to resist temptation for a small, immediate re­ward in order to receive a larger reward in the future.

Source: http://youtube.com/watch?v=Qe6Z70EqVNw&list=PLRz2JWFFHXPfp7U6spkl8K1HyM8K2dTC0

I’m particularly excited about this series because I, myself, also have an undergraduate Bachelor’s degree with a focus on psychology. So, not only will I actually have a true passion on the topics I’m sharing in the videos, I’ll also have a solid background and actually be knowledgeable on the subject.