Categories
Education Rants

Online Coursework Sucks*

I have a love/hate relationship with online coursework, especially college. I love it because it frees up time that could otherwise be wrapped up in potentially boring classroom lecturing, travel or administrivia. Additionally, it allows you to digitally access resources without having to fumble with paper and other physical assets. On the other hand; For many classes, teachers put the minium effort into them. Not that this can’t happen in a physical setting, but at least there they have to dress up and show up. Also, you don’t get any personal interaction with anyone. The other classmates posting in discussion boards may as well be bots; Faceless names with randomly generated text.

All of these are the reasons that I primarily pick courses around my physical availability. If I’m paying premium for education, I want my ass in a physical location being taught be an actual human being who has to at least show up. However, things are changing with education that are pushing some colleges to look at being more online.

COVID Online Coursework

COVID-19. The big ugly mess of late 2019 and most of 2020 so far. As far as schools go, it has thrown pretty much all of them into a tizzy. My son’s school system had to basically throw together a whole online education system wrapped around Microsoft Teams (angst aside, they’re doing pretty well with that, I have to say). For my college courses, I had to end this semester with online coursework, which sucks. It gets out of sight and out of mind quickly. I feel less involved and the course work just feels like a chore.

I know some colleges offer only online courses. I actually “attended” Phoenix University for a semester. While the work was easy enough, I was getting exactly nothing out of it. Most classes just required you check in by posting something to the discussion board. I feel like we’re moving the needle in that direction with all this distance learning being spun up.

The push to move more online also feels like a cop out in a system already looking for more ways to water down the experience for the most money. Colleges are rife with adjuncts who could care less about teaching, so long as they get some side work. Course materials are skyrocketing and classrooms are left with second-hand tech that is run by overworked IT people just trying to keep their Rube-Goldberg machine running until the end of the semester.

Look: I like college. For a lot of people it’s a great avenue to get the knowledge to work in any number of fields. However, I don’t find that I’m getting a lot out of it. I learn by doing. Going online is just going to make the rest of this Bachelor’s degree a slog.

*: For me.

Categories
Feelings Media Politics Rants

Political Apathy

This year has been longer, in many respects, than any I can remember. It’s not just the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s everything. When you have lots of stuff to do and things to occupy your time, news cycles and information tends to be a little more sporadic, a little more manageable. Even with all of that, I tended to pare it down to just the things I’m interested.

Now that we’re all stuck inside and dealing with the fallout of how our leaders have responded to the crisis (good or bad), the news seems more in-your-face. No longer can I go days without hearing what this person said or how that political party is messing things up. All we get now is news, concentrated and brimming with information that just makes me want to push it away more.

I don’t think I’m alone in this thinking, either. We, I should say Americans, but it’s more than just that; Have it good. We’re well taken care of in many respects and while things can always be better, we still feel good about how our systems work. Though this is a whole topic itself. The point I’m trying to make here is that we’re pampered to the point where we don’t feel the need to protest things in large numbers anymore, we don’t strike or demand better politics. We have fallen in love with the two party system and are more than willing to take sides.

Political Escape

I used to watch the Daily Show as a way to escape, to laugh at the absurdity of the circus that is professional politics. I used to be invested in helping decide who we should elect to lead us. I used to join the voices for justice when wrong was discovered.

Now? Now I just sit home and sleep. I repeat the same daily actions. I don’t even know (or frankly, care) what our sad excuse for a leader is doing to appease the bullies and paranoid supporters who seem ready to die or kill for him. I just want out. I’m tired and I just don’t care anymore. If this is where we have decided to go, collectively. I want out.

Categories
Games Rants

Animal Crossing: New Hype-rizons

I love Animal Crossing. It’s such a chill game and something you can play at your own pace. You don’t have to deal with irritating players who are constantly mucking up the world or unlocking content way ahead of pace like MMOs; You don’t have this stupid sense of urgency around anything, just do it when it suits you. Animal Crossing is a lot of fun.

That is, until you play it on local multiplayer. Then it becomes a fight.

Here is a list of reasons why Animal Crossing: NH local multi-player is utter trash:

  • Want to pick up stuff you gathered to your own inventory? Nope, sorry, if you’re not the leader of the party, it goes straight to the town’s recycle bin
  • Want to access your inventory? Haha, nope, not unless you’re the leader. The only thing you can do is cycle through your tools
  • Want to go through “gated” content with your friends, like getting a museum or the town store? Nope. Only the player who started the island gets to
  • Want to wander and enjoy the lush scenery alone? Nope, you’re teleported back as soon as you’re sufficiently off-screen
  • Need to check your mail, or do anything with your house/tent? You have to wrest control of the group from the leader

I really wanted to enjoy this game with my family, but I can’t. It just turns into a collection of three frustrated players trying to do different things, but only the leader gets to choose. Everyone else is dragged along for the ride.

This leads everyone, especially myself and my wife getting mad at each other when things aren’t being done or someone wants to do a different task or just focus on improving themselves. You must follow the group and that is that.

The problems are all compounded by the fact you can only have one island per-Switch. That means if you don’t like the way the direction of the island is going, or just want to do your own thing, you can’t start your own. Or, you can, if you buy your own new Switch device.

Now, I feel guilty when I take the Switch with me and get some single player time in. My wife gets mad because I’ve gone ahead and played “selfishly” by improving myself or doing things without the consensus of the group. I don’t enjoy playing with the group because it feels like an exercise in frustration and becomes boring as I watch other people play or am conscripted into a task I don’t want to do.

Combat, town, together, apart? Done seamlessly.

Divinity: Original Sin 2 did local multiplayer infinitely better (and with a smaller team/budget). When you play with other people, if you’re close enough, the screen merges and you all play on one screen. If you move off to go do stuff yourself, no problem, the game boxes you into split screen so you can go do what you want. You can even have combat going in one area while someone is in town making money or getting into other kinds of trouble.

I have to say. After all the hype, the waiting and the build-up. I’m kind of let down. The game is fun, but it’s also frustrating for all the wrong reasons.

Categories
Games Rants

Well, Ain’t That Some Shit?

Categories
Rants

Disney+

I am a bit of a sucker for Disney. They constantly provide experiences that delight and entertain. While I know they’re a large, monopolistic company setting out on an ambitious quest to dominate the entertainment industry… I just can’t seem to dislike or even distrust them as much as I would, say, Amazon. My family seems to be much of the same.

That being said, we bought into Disney+ from the get-go. It offered a chance to see all of the classic Disney movies, Marvel smash hits and some NatGeo content as well as some specially created content designed for Disney+ exclusively. Honestly, so long as they kept up with the content, I didn’t see the problem.

Well, now we’re 2 months (as of now) in and I’m already bored with it. Mandalorian is already over, Forky with it. There are some new shorts pulled from the various Pixar movies and some Star Wars content that I haven’t seen in a while. The problem is, the vast majority of the content is either trash, or content I didn’t care about before the launch of the service.

This is a real problem. Not just for Disney, but for Netflix, Hulu (also Disney-owned), HBO, Amazon and Apple. There is a voracious desire for content, but it doesn’t come fast enough. People then look elsewhere for new stuff, or drop their subscription until content is fully loaded. I wish I could just buy the content ala carte. We’re back to the old television channels problem: There is so much crap I don’t want or need, but I’m still paying for it.

I know ala carte probably isn’t a good business model to sustain such expensive material, but tying me to a subscription that I use for only part of the time also seems like theft. It’s primarily why I keep waffling around on Apple Music/Spotify/Amazon Music Prime. I don’t listen to that much music, but I’d like to listen to it occasionally without any advertising. It’s certainly a thorny problem.

I’m probably also being a bit of a curmudgeon.