Friday, February 12, 2016

Alone in the dark?

Ever since I watchied Star Trek with my dad as a little boy I have been intrigued by the thought that there could be other civilizations out there. I spent more than one thought on what they might look like, how technologically advanced they could be or if any two advanced civilizations in the universe have ever met each other.
Only recently reading about and seeing gameplay footage of the soon to be released game "No Man's Sky" has made me realize how unimaginably grand the universe is.
In the game a universe is procedurally generated and even though all players play in the same universe at the same time it is very unlikely to ever meet another player. In an interview with IGN one of the developers said that 99.9% of the in game planets will probably never be discovered. Also people have calculated that even by visiting one planet per second it would take over 5 billion years to discover all of the planets in the game.
Projecting this to the real world and assuming that the real universe is probably even bigger than the generated one, leads me to believe that we are not alone in the universe because even if there is a very small probability of life existing on a planet, if you repeat it an uncountable number of times even small probabilities virtually become a certainty. On the other hand while I am sure that other life exists, I dont think that we will ever meet or even find proof of it due to the grand scale of the universe.
Whether meeting an advanced Alien civilization would be a good or a bad thing is a totally different discussion.

I love stats <3

Whether they are useless or actually have some kind of effect, I like to collect data and visualize / analyze it for alot of areas of my life.
I recently acquired a fitness tracker aka smart watch and have been tracking steps, walking distance, heart rate calories burned and other health or fitness related aspects. The most useful I have found to be calories burned in combination with recording what and how much I eat as well as how much Water I drink during the day. As opposed to the probably more common goal of trying to lose weight I discovered that I have the opposite problem. My mostly healthy diet struggles to keep up with my rapid energy consumption, which I never realized before. I am now more aware of what I eat than ever before.
When not giving it particular attention I also most definately do not drink enough water, some days even less than a liter. Logging how much I drink helps me increase my water consumption, though I am nontheless struggling to meet my dayly goal of 2 liters.
Other features like the step counter are neat features but personally havn't been of much use other than satisfying my general curiosity. I also refuse to use the social features the companion app offers as I have no desire to enter a competition of who takes the most steps in a day with my friends.
Concluding I would like to say that collecting data can be the key to solving problems or improvement of certain areas in life. Excessive use on the other hand can also be very annoying to the point of impacting social life. But then again excessive use of anything is never a good idea.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Trading Card Games (TCGs)

My first encounter with a TCG was in 5th grade. Back then Pokemon had just come out and it was all kids were talking about in the school yard. Soon after that trading of Pokemon cards became a thing. During breaks the classrooms transformed into little stock markets and through efficient trading I managed to accumulate a decent collection without investing too much of my precious pocket money. At that point I liked collecting the cards, especially the holographic ones, rather than playing the game.

A couple years later, when the Pokemon hype had quieted down, another TCG accompanied by a well known anime caught my attention. Now it was all about YU-GI-OH!
But this time instead of just collecting shiny cards I played the game with a friend. Soon we discovered a fantasy store nearby and would go there every Tuesday to "duel" other people. The whole thing got spiced up by a little competition, since for every duel you won you got a stamp in your YU-GI-OH! season stamp book. Ofcourse there was a limit to the number of times that you could battle a certain opponent during a match day, but that made it even more interesting. We quickly realized to be under the top 4 players of that particular fantasy store and a friendly rivalry turned into a race for stamps to be the number one. It all peaked in the participation in a regional qualifier for the german championship. My friend and another guy of our four man rival group qualified and actually went to the german championship, though unfortunately they didn't make it very far and reported of the insane decks they encountered. Not long after that my interest and motivation to play YU-GI-OH! faded and it took a while until I picked up another TCG again.

I am well aware that so far I havn't mentioned the ancestor of all TCGs: Magic the Gathering. The reason is that I never got into it and I am reluctant to do so since it has been around for decades and seems to have a relatively high entry barrier.
This was not a problem with the current TCG I am playing, at least not at the time I got into it. As a digital TCG just starting up including characters from my favorite old real time strategy game I quickly fell for Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft. Especially initially it was very addicting. The ability to play a TCG on my phone whenever I want against opponents around the world is very intriguing. Only the trading part I loved so much as a kid was cut out due to the potential abuse the digital world enables. Even after two years there are still more features and more content added regularly and I can't wait to see what comes next. Even though it lacks the charm of playing with physical cards going digital was definately a step in the right direction.

Whether I will stick to Hearthstone or maybe give Magic a try some day, I am a fan of TCGs and am excited where the journey will take me.