SmugMug

Apparently SmugMug recently purchased Flickr.  This is just one of those normal things that happen with tech companies, but since I use Flickr extensively for backing up all of my photos and videos, this concerns me probably much more than others who don’t use the service.  SmugMug support assures everyone (and has reassured me directly through several direct support e-mails) that Flickr isn’t going anywhere for the foreseeable future.  Both SmugMug and Flickr will remain intact, and the acquisition will only strengthen both platforms moving forward.  I guess this is much like when Google acquired Waze.  Google Navigation and Waze Navigation both remain intact, but they are improving by sharing information and data.

I tried going with SmugMug for awhile many years ago, but it wasn’t anywhere near what it is today.  So I started trying it out again this week, and I’m in the process of migrating all of my Flickr photos and videos at this time.  I found a nice site that automates this process, and it’s running right now.  Here’s some interesting number I don’t quite understand yet:  Flickr says I have 48,888 photos and videos on their site.  That’s TOTAL – both public and private, and 31.517 of those are public.  That sounds about right I guess, those totals have been increasing slowly over the years at a normal rate.  Every photo I take auto-uploads to Flickr as my backup (as well as to Google Photos), both of which are free (Flickr has a 1TB limit, Google Photos has unlimited storage as long as I have a Google Pixel phone).  The tool I’m using to migrate Flickr to SmugMug (PicBackMan) says I have a total of 94,511 photos and videos!  That’s nearly DOUBLE my grand total that Flickr says I have, so it’ll be interesting to see what SmugMug shows when it’s finally done migrating.  A couple initial things I’ve found with SmugMug that I really like is with GIFs and just the simple motion in every photo I take with my Google Pixel phone… Flickr never showed this and doesn’t support GIFs, but SmugMug recognizes both GIFs and the motion in all of my photos and displays it!  I might eventually switch to SmugMug, depending on how this trial goes.

If you’d like to check it out as my SmugMug site evolves, you’ll find it at https://jimsphotoworld.smugmug.com/.  My cover photo is even animated.  There might not be many photos there yet, as the first album it’s migrating is my “Auto-Uploads”, which is private.  But all the others are right behind it, so they’ll be coming in soon enough.

X-Box One S 2TB Special Edition For Sale

I am selling an awesome X-Box One S – 2TB Gears of War Special Edition with an extra matching controller for $200.  This system is currently selling on Amazon for $300 and up, used (and that’s even without the extra controller).  It has only been lightly used and is in excellent condition.  If you’re interested, be the first to e-mail forsale@jimtrottier.com.  If you’re not in the Kenosha, WI area and it has to be shipped, you’ll also need to cover the cost of shipping & insurance.

Update on my Lego Worlds addiction

I certainly haven’t stopped playing Lego Worlds.  In fact, it has gotten a bit out of hand.  I now have it on 4 platforms: X-Box One, PS4, Switch and Steam.  Crazy, right?  I only mention it now because I just completed another milestone.  I just made it to 100 gold bricks on the PC version.  Here’s my stats for each system:

Switch – 985 items, 106 gold bricks
X-Box – 1175 items, 115 gold bricks
PS4 – 1194 items, 127 gold bricks
PC – 830 items, 100 gold bricks

With that goal completed, my next goal is a bit more challenging and probably only requires a bit of time:  Acquire all building block types on each platform.  On PS4 I’m actually at 100% already.  I’m not sure how, but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t coincidence.  The game seems to just “give” you another piece you need when you either tackle the troublemaker in any world or open a chest.  This is completely random though, and most of the time you’ll get other items, including gold bricks, tools, or actual brick builds.  It just seems to be very random, so it only takes time to eventually get there.  It should be interesting to see how long it takes.  I’ll keep noting my progress here once in awhile.  Not that anyone’s actually interested though.

 

 

 

 

 

Lego Worlds – A review

Hello, my name is Jim and I’m an addict. Yeah, I’m a grown-up… And still I play with toys. Legos are all the rage these days–even in the movies. So when Lego Worlds was recently released for the PS4, I jumped on it almost immediately. I’ve had the Early Release version for the PC on Steam for quite some time, but I only played it once in awhile. It was a really cool open world system, and you just dove in and started playing around with objects and characters, building and breaking things, etc., etc., much like Minecraft. I find many games a bit difficult to play on the PC unless I have my Steam controller optimally configured for that particular game, and in the case of Lego Worlds on Steam, I just wasn’t able to get it working to my liking, and often gave up trying to get it to work properly for me. So when the PS4 version was released, I knew that, finally, it must have a controller configuration good enough to work with on the PS4, so I gave it a shot.

I don’t know if the Steam version ever received the same treatment that the PS4 version now has, but there certainly wasn’t Tutorial levels and gameplay like there is on the PS4 version when I was playing it on Steam! My initial experience with the PS4 version was totally new, and it’s really interesting how it first teaches you the basics, giving you lessons along the way, and as you progress through the tutorial levels you learn more and more about how everything works, more items are given to you, and you basically (at least in my case) become addicted and want more and more eye candy, game candy, object builds, blocks, gold bricks… The tutorials end after 3 or 4 different worlds are “completed”, then you unlock the main “game” that in-turn unlocks everything else. The ultimate goal being to reach 100 Gold Bricks, which unlocks the ability to create NEW worlds of your very own. So this is all sort of a huge “training ground”, or a giant tutorial if you will, to prepare you for the open world creation freedom that is to come–which then, I imagine, works somewhat like Minecraft, where you can either start with a blank world, scarcely populated or completely blank, and build upon it whatever you will. Except that with THIS game, the tools at your disposal are far beyond anything I’ve ever seen in Minecraft!

But getting that far (100 Gold Bricks) is still on my horizon, so I can’t really say for sure how that part of the experience is yet (hence the “incomplete review” title). I’m at 71 Gold Bricks as of this writing, and climbing daily. The pace at which you gain bricks varies quite a bit, from what I’ve seen though. What happens after the tutorials is the ability for you to generate random worlds, then travel to them, explore and plunder them, all in an effort to gather everything you can from the world. This includes completing quests the characters on that world ask of you, finding chests filled with objects (including Gold Bricks), exploring, tackling troublemakers (who will come up to you and taunt you with the game piece they’re holding, then run from you as you try to tackle them to get the piece) and just plain trashing everything you can to gain studs (every Lego game’s currency). When you “Discover” an object in the game it gets added to your inventory, but you can’t actually “use” the object until you purchase it in the game using some studs. The value of each object in the game is pre-defined–for example it might cost 2,500 studs for a particular in-game vehicle–so if you pay that to unlock it, you can then deploy that vehicle anywhere, on any world, and use it in whatever way suits you. Or, perhaps an object is needed to complete a quest, and you have it… Use it and get rewarded with even more studs to use in the game. Added to all of this is the expansion of world sizes you can play in. You start out with just small worlds (as if that doesn’t overwhelm you enough), but after obtaining so many Gold Bricks you unlock Medium-sized worlds and everything is a lot bigger. Then, further on you unlock Large-sized worlds, and then, finally, Huge-sized worlds.

This very open-ended random-world generation makes things pretty interesting, and definitely a one-of-a-kind experience for everyone, and your own personality and tendencies come into play quite a bit. For example, there’s some really neat dungeons in the game, which are filled with traps, puzzles and monsters… Get through those successfully and you’re rewarded with many huge piles of studs! This is all really fun to play around with, but a smart kid just in a hurry to reach the end-game knows that with all of the tools available at that point in the game, one could simply pull out the landscaping tool and level the entire dungeon in one fell swoop.. or use to bazooka to blast right through the walls to the treasure. I considered this myself, briefly, before deciding to take the high road and experience the dungeon like I assume it was intended. Maybe later on I’ll come back and play around with leveling it, even if only to see how it was built and to possibly use some of it’s traps in the free world-building part of the game that I haven’t gotten to yet.

The game isn’t without it’s little quirks and bugs though. But I’d expect as much for a project this vast. There will no-doubt be updates to fix it up, I’m sure. One complaint I have might be a bug, but I’m not really sure. Right now it’s just an annoyance for me. Another family member found an awesome random world and wanted me to try it out. There’s an option to enter a random world “seed” on the main world selection screen, so I assumed this would allow me to enter the number he provided and I could then play that same world. So I entered the number, it appeared to show it in the mini map, but when I travel to the world, it’s a completely different random world! I can’t seem to get it to accept that exact number sequence, though it does allow me to see a preview of it. Very annoying. I can’t find a solution (or others even complaining about the same thing) on the web yet, so I think it’s just a bug that hasn’t been discussed yet.

So that’s the game, in a nutshell. I’ve been through the desert, the old west, a few very hot lava-filled planets, a few made of candy, some desert islands with interesting surprises, many caves containing buried treasure among other creepy things like spiders, scorpions and even zombies and swamp monsters, cloud cities and have even found many underwater treasures–including sunken shipwrecks, sharks, fish and even a few underwater cities. I can tell that the creators sure spent a lot of time either manually building whole areas brick by brick or wrote one heck of a procedural engine to generate worlds! It seems they are endless in their quantity, somehow. Like Minecraft, it boggles the mind. And, in the process, it feels like by the time I’m up to the 100 Gold Bricks needed I will have amassed hundreds of “discoveries” consisting of vehicles, characters, animals, insects, weapons, objects, and even whole “brick builds” (one-click mass-builds of large objects that assemble themselves before your eyes, instantly), and I will have learned quite a bit about the Lego world and what I am capable of as a “Master Builder”. I can see there’s also a lot of artistic skill needed as well, so for me things are going to take a lot longer to get right if I’m going to create any Lego Worlds of my very own. I’m sure going to want to, after spending this much time working through the entire game.

I’ll be sure to come back and complete this review or write a completely new one after I have completed the 100-Gold-Brick goal and am able to create entirely new worlds in the game. At that point I’m sure I’ll know even more about it and have much more to say. Now I’m going to head back into this Atlantis-looking underwater world I just found… I sure wish I could hold my breath for longer though… maybe I’ll find a or earn some scuba gear soon.

The Finish Line – Update added 3/24/2017

I made it. Last night, after sitting at 98 Gold Bricks for a day, I jumped in and made the push to 100 and made it. I saved the last 7 minutes of my gameplay if you’d like to watch it: https://youtu.be/NFaPjYGQ39c. As a subtext to the video: I had a trapped, frightened gingerbread person stuck on a rooftop. He/She had a gold brick, and if I could save them I would get my 100th brick. I had previously tamed several pigs, so they were following me around at this time. After some playing around with the landscape tool I managed to get the character to drop to the ground. As the gingerbread character pulled out its gold brick to throw it to me, he was attacked by my pigs and killed! NO BRICK FOR ME! Nazi Soup Pigs. But soon it happened again–another frightened gingerbread person in the same area… So I immediately took action, usied my scimitar, and sliced me up some tasty bacon to get that elusive last gold brick!

Obtaining 100 gold bricks gives you the rank of “Master Builder” and also unlocks the option to “Create custom worlds” in the game. So I played around with that option for the rest of the evening (and this morning before work) and I must say, the options are nice. I was a little disappointed at first when I couldn’t find an option to just start with a completely “clean slate” – just a blank, empty world, flat, with nothing in it – but I soon found that this was probably not an oversight, it was most likely done on purpose. You can, as they say, “create the Lego world of your dreams”, and if you desire a blank, flat world, well… go for it! It’s doable. Just do it.

Technically, you can’t actually “Create a new world”, as the voiceover announcer describes it at the end of obtaining 100 gold bricks (as you hear him say in my saved video). That’s deceiving, and I think it was actually a mistake. the game itself shows the option as “Create a custom world”. This is a bit more accurate, because you can only choose the individual Biomes, Animals, Characters, Vehicles and the world size you would like, then click the “create” button, and what it does is give you a world seed of that size, with those options set. It’s still a pre-defined world, with a seed you can share with any other Lego Worlds player. Your version of it might be just initially populated a little differently than anyone else’s, based on your preferences.

But this was a very interesting design choice for the game, as you’ll see. I set out, then, so create what I just mentioned above: A flat world, like a clean slate to start with–no animals, objects, or anything–sort of a complete beginning–so I know exactly what’s in that world, and everything in it I know came from me. The various tools available in the game are very fun to learn and use, so it’s not a problem at all. I chose the smallest world size, and just one “open prairie” biome, so the world would be as easy to flatten as possible, with the least number of objects to have to destroy and clean up. I used the “flatten” landscaping tool to level everything down (or up) to the same level, making it all flat. I guess I should say “am using”, as I’m still actively working on this world as I write this. My initial world came with many vehicles, animals and characters spread all over it, including a quest area or two, so I have plenty of work to do. As I level the landscape, animals on it will shift up or down to meet the ground and keep travelling on it, and I’ll select them and “remove” them to pop them out of existence. Sometimes I’ll run into a character or animal I haven’t discovered yet, requiring me to complete a quest first, before I can work with that particular animal or character. This is a fun side-objective, and it also provides you with more characters, objects and animals to use in the game. It even makes the dullness of simply flattening everything on the entire map much less so.

So create the Lego world of your dreams is fun, and there’s plenty to do along the way, so get busy. There are even plenty more gold bricks I can obtain as well as secret “Legendary” puzzle pieces which can be assembled to reveal even larger “Legendary Gold Bricks”, as well as many other things. It also seems like I will never have every single object, animal, character or vehicle in the game, so opening chests and completing quests can always earn me something new and unexpected along the way–especially with the possibility of downloadable content and add-ons that are sure to come later on. So I’m heading back in now, gotta keep flattening. Haylie wants an empty landscape to build her dream world on the next time she visits. This concludes my review.  I really like this game.

Playstation Now

Sony offers a new service for PS4 users called “Playstation Now”.  What it does is offer a free “streaming” library of classic PS3 games that you can run on your PS4, much like how Hulu and Netflix offer streaming movies.  You pay a monthly fee for full access, and in return you get open access to their entire library of Playstation Now titles (currently over 400 games).

Kevin and I are trying it out right now with a free 1-week trial.  So far, it seems to be pretty decent.  Another big benefit is that with this membership you also get the ability to play all of these games on a PC.  This doesn’t come without it’s own little hitches though–your PC must meet the minimum specs to run the Playstation Now software and you must connect a PS4 controller to your PC, either with a USB cable or with an adapter available for an additional fee from Sony.

I’ve been on a 7-day free trial for several days now, and I’ve tried most features as well as dozens of games.  The pricing is currently $19.99/month or $44.99 for 3 months (about $15/month).  Somehow the games really are “streamed” too.  This means they’re not installed on your PS4 or your PC, the data they use is streamed over the internet while you’re playing the game.  There may be some temporary storage on your local drive, but this appears to be removed once you exit the game you’re playing.  I have played over 40 games from Playstation Now so far, and have noticed no decrease in the free space on my PS4.

Gladly, each time you play a new game from the service, an icon for it is added to your PS4, just like any other installed game icon.  This means that in order to play that game again, you only need to open that icon and don’t have to re-open the Playstation Now application each time (unlike Hulu or Netflix).  I love this feature!  This way, I only see my favorite games on my PS4 and I can organize them any way I wish.  I chose not to mix these titles with my installed and purchased PS4 games, so I created a folder called “Playstation Now” and I put all of those games in that folder (along with an icon for Playstation Now itself, for easy access when I need it).

Sony has been pretty active with adding new games to the service, and I believe 20+ games were added just this past month.  This is quite a few more than Playstation Plus, which is currently offering 2 games per month for PS4, 2 games for PS3, and 2 games for PS Vita–their handheld game system.

When you start a game from Playstation Now, it downloads what it needs from the server, so naturally it takes a little longer to start a game.  But with today’s internet speeds, and Sony’s Internet speed requirements for subscribers to actually be able to use the service, this isn’t very long at all.  At least not for me.  I must admit, however, that I do have the top speed tier with Time Warner Cable, so I’m not sure how much of a difference that would actually make compared to other Internet Service Providers.

I do have a few concerns about the service at this point though:

  1. What will Sony do when they run out of old PS3 games to offer?  And when will this happen?  I’m not too sure developers are still developing games for the PS3, and if they are, it has to be much less than when it was Sony’s top gaming platform.
  2. One time, when trying to start a Playstation Now game, I was told that all of the servers were busy and I had to wait in a queue.  The wait time was currently 1-2 minutes.  After that wait time, the game launched.  As the service gets more and more popular, will this happen more and more and will wait times get longer and longer just to play?  Or will Sony reliably add more and more servers as needed to keep up with the volume?
  3. Did Sony choose to not allow backward compatibility on the PS4 just so they could make more money with this subscription service?  X-Box One has backward compatibility, though not 100%, but they’re improving it more all the time.  We still have our old PS3, and plan to keep it, now that we know we can’t play any of our old games on our PS4–unless we keep paying for Playstation Now–which offers many of those games, but still not all of them, though it does include many other good games we hadn’t ever played on PS3.  I guess I’d have to add up the possible cost of the entire Playstation Now library (which continues to grow all the time) and compare that with the monthly fee times how long we’ll potentially keep our PS4 to see which would save us the most money in the long run.  That’s a tough one.

Life is but a stream…So it seems like you’re actually running your game on a PS3 server somewhere at Sony, and your PS4 (or your PC) is simply serving up the screens it’s fed.  If this is the case, I don’t know how it can keep up without severe lag, but somehow it does…most of the time.  Several times during gameplay I have noticed the announced warning icon appearing in the corner of the screen.  They explain this icon each time a game is started, explaining that this means your internet connection quality (speed) has decreased, and you should save any progress you’ve made, if possible, just in case you lose your connection to the server.  Nearly every time this appeared, it disappeared again a short time later and I noticed little to no effect.  There may have been some frame loss resulting in a little jittering in image quality, but nothing else.  In one case, however, I’ve lost connection completely and the game exited on me.  A few minutes later I was able to re-launch it and pretty much picked up where I left off pretty easily.  Basically, before you subscribe, you definitely want to go with the free 1-week trial and make sure your own internet connection is reliable enough to play the games without issue.

Another key question I had with the service was whether it worked just like purchased game licenses work on the PS4.  This is where you can purchase one license for a game, install it on two PS4’s in your household, and two players (the players set a “primary” users on each other’s PS4’s) and both play that game together or separately.  I was hoping that this functionality also applied to Playstation Now, and I wasn’t disappointed.  It worked fine for Kevin and I, and we both played a long session of “ibb and obb” together (a simple, yet very interesting mind-bending puzzle game–something, it turns out, Kevin is actually better at than me!).

But so far, overall, I’m impressed.  I had no idea at all that you could stream games this way, using virtually no local hard drive space.  I had assumed this service would end up maxing out my hard drive and I’d be constantly swapping games out and installing others just to play everything.  The price seems a bit steep, but since the entire library of 400+ titles and growing weekly or monthly, I think it beats to 2-titles-per-month that Playstation Plus gives you…even though Plus gives you genuine PS4 titles that you then own a license for and have to install locally (but on the other hand, you own that license to the game, even if you stop subscribing to Playstation Plus, unlike Playstation Now where you lose access to its entire library if you stop subscribing.  At $15 per month (paying 3 months at a time) it would work for both Kevin and I on one account, so we could split the cost.  That brings it down to just $7.50 per month for each of us, which isn’t bad, in my opinion.

That’s about it.  Now let me go play some Red Dead Redemption, which I see was just added to the PSNow library…

PS4

I recently got a PS4.  The world of console gaming has changed quite a bit, so I figured it was about time I started catching up…at least for a while.  I’m sure I’ll soon be behind the times again and this brand-new console will be considered “old”, but until then, I’m going to enjoy it!

One of the big changes with today’s consoles is digital versions of games.  Every game can now be purchased as digital, which means you no longer need a CD or–God forbid–a cartridge–to play a game.  When you purchase a digital game, you simply download and install it directly on your console’s hard drive, and can play it whenever you want.  This also means you can install it on multiple consoles, and as long as you’re a user on that console, you can play it there.

Today’s games can sometimes be ENORMOUS, however, so the digital versions can consume a lot of hard drive real estate quickly.  Even most disc-based versions of today’s games require installing to the hard drive anyway though, due to the speed advantage it provides when loading and playing the games, so there isn’t even much benefit gained by having a disc-based game over a digital version.  If fact, these days I find it much less convenient to have to insert a disc to play a particular game rather than just choosing it from a menu to play–just like today’s digital movies.  I haven’t played a physical DVD or Blu-Ray disc in AGES, it seems like!  But that convenience doesn’t come without a price: SPACE…the final frontier… Having all digital games will quickly consume all of the hard drive space you have on your console, requiring you to either upgrade to a larger-capacity hard drive or you’ll have to remove older games you aren’t currently playing to make room for the new ones you want to play.

Luckily, right now hard drive prices are ridiculously cheap compared to what they were in the past and the amount of space they provide.  It would cost me less than $100 right now to double the size of my PS4’s hard drive, and eventually I’ll probably do that.  Right now I’m at about 50% full on my 1TB drive.

Sony also makes the process as painless as possible, only requiring the removal of one screw to pull the hard drive out and replace it.  Re-installing all of your data and games is another story.  You can’t simply copy your installed games from your old hard drive, even if you install it in a drive enclosure and connect it to your PS4 via USB.  Sony doesn’t allow this.  Only your game save data and settings can be backed up and restored from USB media.  All of your games and addons have to be re-installed from the Playstation Store…or they can be transferred over your network from another PS4 system.  The latter is the easiest option, if you have another PS4 on your network.  The data and game transfer is blazingly fast–much much more so than re-downloading everything from the Playstation store–so if this is an option for you, it’s definitely recommended over the re-downloading option.  Remember when using this option, however, that anything that you haven’t purchased yourself–like any games or addons that were purchased by another user–will appear as “locked” on your PS4.  You will have to either purchase that content for yourself in order to use it, or that user can still use that game or addon when they are using your PS4.  You’re also free to uninstall or delete any locked content on your PS4 at any time as well.

There is one odd way that two PS4 users can share purchased content, but it only works with exactly two people–and you better trust that person very much too, because you’d be opening up your entire account access to them.  You just have to activate the OTHER PS4 (the one the other person uses) as your PRIMARY PS4, and activate YOUR PS4 as the other user’s primary PS4.  Then you just use your account on your PS4, like normal, and since it’s his primary PS4, his purchased content is playable by all users on your console and you can play your own purchased content on it as well.  And because his PS4 is set as YOUR primary PS4, he can play his content on his PS4 as well as yours.  It works great.  But like I said, just make sure you trust the other user completely, because they have full access to your account and content!

X-Box 360 Upgraded

My X-Box 360 is now upgraded.  I was shocked at the simplicity.  Not even any tools needed!  The hard drive on the X-Box 360 is actually attached to the left side of the console (at least on MY model it is–I think there have been one or two new versions released since mine though).  You just push in a button there while pulling on the drive and it disconnects and pops off.  No wires, no muss, no fuss.  Connect the new drive the exact opposite and you’re half done!  The transfer cable then attaches to the old drive, which I just disconnected, and provides a USB connection that plugs into the back of the X-Box.

After attaching the new drive and connecting the old one via USB, I powered up the X-Box and looked around. My profiles were still there, but obviously no content.  Without the “transfer disc” that I had seen on the Interwebs, I was a little concerned about the process.  So I went to Settings >> Storage, and there I found the options I was looking for.  The drive showed that it was Internal and empty, and the options on it included “Transfer data”.  I chose the “transfer data TO this drive” option, and was then able to select a source device, which was the external drive, then I was given the list of item types on the source drive (Profiles, Demos, Games, Videos, etc.) and asked which ones I wanted to transfer.  I chose everything, then deselected Demos and started the process.

With a 120GB drive, it took about an hour to reach 100%.  Once it finished, I powered off (but wasn’t prompted to), disconnected the old drive connected to the rear USB jack, and then powered up the X-Box.  Ah, quietness!  The system is much quieter now, though still a little noisier than I thought.  I think the DVD drive mechanism is just loud when it checks for a disc.  It still works fine though, so I’m not concerned.  The system came up fine and all games and content looks great, installed, and I still have over 390GB free–lots of breathing room with everything I currently own for the console already installed.  I just wonder if ALL of Microsoft’s consoles are this easily upgradeable, or if I just got lucky with this one.

I’m not old, I’m “classic”

xbox-360-elite-wcontrollerWe recently dug out our old X-Box 360.  We hadn’t used it in a few years, though it was still hooked up to a TV.  Again, like our PS3, the hard drive had gotten full, so things started getting difficult, and it ended up just going unused as we moved on to other things.  I considered selling the console, and even went as far as to gather up all of the info about it, including the 26 games for it that we have on discs, and I posted it on our Slack Team’s site.

But after a day with no response–during which time Kevin discovered about 11 or 12 more games on discs that I had missed–I also found that I have about 70 more games that I purchased as digital downloads from X-Box Live that were on the hard drive!  I should have considered this before posting the ad I guess.

So I took the X-Box 360 and moved it out to the living room and set it up again so I could thoroughly go through the system and catalog its entire contents.  After doing this, and actually finding many “lost treasures” in the form of classic games from my youth, I decided to promptly pull the ad and keep the X-Box 360.  The 70+ digital games alone would be quite a chunk of cash (at least for me) to throw away, let alone the 30+ disc-based games that we had purchased.

I loaded up a few of my classic favorites yesterday, just to try them out, and quickly found myself enjoying them all over again, not wanting to close them until finishing “just one more level.”  The hard drive did start sounding pretty loud after the system was on awhile though.  It’s the system’s original 120GB hard drive.  It’s pretty maxed out with everything I purchased back in the day, leaving 2.2GB of free space on it… barely enough to hold another decent game.   And of course, you know me… I immediately jumped on the interwebs and found a replacement internal hard drive.  The largest internal drive I could find, that matched the older X-Box 360 model I have, was 500GB for $40.  So I grabbed it.  In a few days I should be able to upgrade and then have plenty of breathing room to work with on my “refurbished” X-Box 360.

Just like with the PS3, I justify it by stressing how cheap the games, parts and accessories are for these old systems… And they play all the good old classic games I love.  I hope the 360, as well as the PS3, last for many more years.  I’ll probably try to keep my youth alive as long as possible!  Let the old-times roll!

PS3

Yeah, sure, the PS3 is pretty old now.  But I’d rather like to think of it as a “mature” console.  Not unlike myself, it is “aged”.  This also makes it–and its games and accessories–a lot more affordable, which is a huge plus, in my book.  It also has a long history, and has gone through 3 versions.  I look back at my purchase history and feel good remembering those classic old games and how much I enjoyed playing them.  All 800+ purchases.  Many of them, in fact, are console versions of even older “classic” arcade games, which bring back even more memories of my past.

One of my all-time favorite games was one of the first games I purchased for the PS3–Joust.  This was an arcade video game where you ride an ostrich and fly around jousting buzzards (and another ostrich if two people play it).  If you fly into a buzzard or the other player and your sword is higher than theirs, you win the joust and kill your opponent.  Kill all of the other players on the screen and you complete the level and advance to the next–harder–level.

I purchased this game in 2006–about 10 years ago, as a digital version.  This means there’s no physical disc or cartridge, you just download the game to your console, install, and play it.  It wasn’t until just recently that I became concerned about this method of game ownership.  First of all, Joust is no longer offered in the Playstation Store for purchase, so I can’t look it up there and re-download it, like I thought I could.  I imagine there are probably several classic games that I purchased back then that are no longer in the Playstation Store.

The reason for my concern is because I decided, earlier this week, to try to get back into playing some of my favorite games, just to relax a bit, and possibly play a little during my walks on my treadmill, but I quickly discovered that the hard drive on my PS3 (320GB) is completely full!  I had cleaned it up some time ago, removing all videos, music and photos, in order to free up enough space to install GTA 5, another great game I play occasionally.  When I say “play” referring to GTA 5, I mean just driving around freely throughout the city and county in the game, driving over people, destroying properly, jumping out and chasing down people to punch them out, and basically wreaking havoc  until the police come and try to stop me.  I don’t really play many missions, as you’re supposed to do in the game, I just goof around to see how much trouble I can get into.  But I digress.  Back to my full hard drive:  As I said, I cleaned up the drive recently, removing nearly everything I could that wouldn’t effect gameplay, and after installing GTA 5, it’s pretty much full to capacity again.

The PS3 has a backup feature, allowing you to back up all of your data and transfer it to another PS3 (or the same PS3 if you’re doing something like replacing the hard drive).  So I tried this, using a 64GB thumb drive I have.  So I started this process, and after several minutes of thinking, the PS3 told me it needed about a drive with about 200GB more storage space!  Agh!  I don’t have a flash drive or external hard drive available with that much space free.  I even tried one external drive that I store TV Shows on for use with my Plex media server, but that drive is formatted as NTFS, and the PS3 requires a FAT32-formatted drive in order to use it.  I know, that’s all Greek to the non-geeks reading this, so let’s just say “that drive won’t work on the PS3”.  My PS3 currently has a 300GB drive, which was pretty huge back in it’s time, but these days it’s hardly enough.

So there I was without a backup solution, and I had a brand new, 1.5TB drive (the largest hard drive the PS3 will allow) waiting to be installed in my PS3.  The way I saw it, at that point I didn’t have much to lose moving forward and installing the new drive.  I found out that I can access my entire purchase history and I can re-download everything I’ve purchased in the past, so I figured it would just require re-downloading everything I want to play.  I would lose my old game saves from way back when, but that’s no biggie for me.  Working through all of the levels in all the good ole games again just adds to the fun! I only had a 320GB drive before, so even if I install everything I had before, I should still have over 1 TB (1000 GB) of the new 1.5TB drive free when I’m done.

So I installed the drive, which was a pretty simple operation, and the PS3 simply prompted me for the latest PS3 update data, which I downloaded to a small flash drive and inserted, then it installed this and formatted the new drive.  All went well, and then I installed a few old games without issue.  They seem really tiny these days, especially on today’s huge-capacity drives!  Over time I’ll be installing a lot more of my old purchases, as I get around to more and more of my old games, and now there’s tons of space for some new ones, if I want them.  It’s nice to have some breathing room back, and it’s such a relief that Sony allows a simple method to re-download all of one’s old purchased content!  They’re earned back a little more of my trust, having lost a lot of it with their support of Cinavia–a copy-protection method that detects copied commerical media and prevents the PS3 from playing or streaming copied DVDs, Blu-Rays, and streamed movies that aren’t originals.  In today’s world, if you don’t keep a backup of something–especially something you purchased electronically, you’re always at risk of losing it due to everyday use, damage, or disaster, so backup copies are critical.  And Ciavia prevents users from being able to use those backups–basically resulting in the PS3 user being assumed to be a pirate!  This also results in the PS3 being rather crippled as a media center, in my opinion.  Whether Cinavia is still built into the PS3 these days, I’m not sure, but I think it’s still there.  I’ll find out soon, as I just installed the Plex app and will be connecting it to my Plex server soon.  Plex is a media server I use to stream all of our movies, tv shows and music to all of our devices.  If Cinavia effects Plex playback, I’ll have to uninstall it and just stick with using it through our Roku boxes as we always have.  That would be sad though, as using it through the PS3 controller or the PS3 Remote looks like it would be fun.

I also discovered, after accepting to two-week free trial of Playstation Plus, that they now offer online storage to Plus users for storing all of their game-save data!  I’m pretty sure that gives me a window of two weeks where I can swap back to my old, full drive, save all my game-save data to my online storage, and then swap back to the new drive and still access all of my game-save data (and hopefully save it back to my new drive easily) so I don’t have to keep paying for Playstation Plus after my two-week trial.  We’ll see how this goes.

Lastly, I’m really liking the fact that all of the PS3 games, accessories, and online content is, by far, a lot cheaper than just about everything for the PS4 and X-Box One!  And since I haven’t been involved with it for a few years, everything I’m seeing is new to me, even though all this stuff is probably old to everyone else.