The Art of War

artofwarWhile recently traveling to LA I picked up a copy of The Art of War by Sun Tzu (Translation by Thomas Cleary… Shambhala Dragon Editions). This has always been one of my favorite strategy/business books as it is amazing to me how applicable 6th century BC teachings outlining success in battle are to current day business and corporate culture.

What I really admire is that success even then was defined by more than winning. Winning is key in today’s corporate culture but many people differ on their thoughts and approaches to achieving victory.

It was very interesting to revisit the importance of the human element specifically the human psyche and how vital “fullness” is to success on the battlefield and the boardroom.

Some of the other interesting concepts are as follows:

One of the principles outlined was the importance of “fullness”. Fullness is when leadership and subordinates are of like mind and operate together. Emptiness is the presence of rifts and dissatisfaction within the team. If this exists it is difficult to achieve the overall objective. It is important to empower your team so that “fullness” may be realized.

Regarding leadership “Leaders plan in the beginning when they do things” and “Leaders consider problems and prevent them”. This speaks to the importance of planning and having a clear understanding of more than just what is directly in front of you.

In terms of defining leadership Sun Tzu stated that Leadership is a matter of intelligence (plan and know) , trustworthiness , humaneness (Compassion), courage (Seize opportunities to make certain of victory), and sternness (establish discipline).

Make yourself invincible, and then watch for vulnerability in their opponents. This really speaks to the importance of knowing yourself, strengths and weaknesses. Thus recognize areas where you are weak and make them strong.

The success of military operations was dependent on the harmony of the people. This is directly applicable to business today as those in harmony will contribute naturally, without being exhorted to do so.

And finally it is the unemotional, reserved, calm, detached individual who wins. Not those seeking vengeance or ambitious seekers of fortune.

“So a military force has no constant formation, water has no constant shape: the ability to gain victory by changing and adapting according to the opponent is called genius.”

If you have not read it I would recommend it. It is a quick read and it is interesting to see how little has actually changed in terms of what is required to be successful in any competitive situation.

Episodes of a Dad – Part 1

If you would have asked me 10 years about how many kids I would have or what kind of dad I would be I would have looked at you like you were from another planet. Fast forward 10 years and 3 kids later and I would not want to be anything else than my kids dad.

Gavin (5), Audrey (3), Grant (6 months) and my beautiful wife Cherlyn are the reason I get up every morning. Well that and my daughter likes to wake me up at 5:30 in the morning. Outside of trying to be a good role model and teaching them the ways of the world I occasionally have to perform a “Dad” duty.

Last night was one of those times. Being a medic in my time in the Army you would think that I would not have any issues with anything to do with a health related issue. I have given IV’s, numerous injections, etc… so last night my son Gavin had a loose tooth.

Being the trooper that he was he wanted me to pull it. No problem right? Step 1 reach in mouth, Step 2 grip tooth, Step 3 forcefully extract, Step 4 bask in the toothless glory of his new smile. Except somewhere between Step 2 and Step 3 I ran into a slight issue.

The tooth was definitely ready to go from the initial look and feel. I asked how he felt, he tensed but was ready. Then the first pull…. no tooth in my hand… a bit of blood and some screaming ensued. Tried again no go. So this right of passage is becoming an episode of Friday the 13th. Now as a dad there is nothing worse than seeing one of your children in pain so what do you want to do? Remove the source of pain right?

So now it was about distracting and calming. So I used the “let’s dry your mouth” as an opportunity to pull it while he was calm. A few wipes, a quick snap and the tooth was out. Back to my army reference. The site of blood does not bother me, but something about seeing the blood of one of your own definitely took me back a step or two. That and physically removing a piece of bone from your little ones mouth.

Well here was the finished result… mission accomplished :)

gavin

40,000 Gamerscore

aunlockedYesterday marked the passing of the 40,000 gamerscore plateau. It took 151 days to go from 30,000K to 40,000K with an average gain of 66 points per day. So I thought I would take a moment and archive some fun facts from this latest points quest.

1) Consecutive Days Played Streak – 23
2) Retail Titles Completed – 13
3) World Gamerscore Ranking – 2958
4) Achievements Gained since the beginning – 1394 (Avg. 28 points per achievement)
5) Largest single day achievement gain this cycle – 25
6) Most points in a day in this cycle – 1000
7) Completion Percentage (0 score games removed) – 51%
8) Total Games Retail (83)/Arcade (42) Owned – 125

Here is a breakdown of the games played between 30,000 & 40,000:

1) Bionicle Heroes
2) Surf’s Up
3) Jumper: Griffin’s Story
4) Rainbow Six Vegas 2
5) Feeding Frenzy
6) Rocky & Bullwinkle
7) College Hoops 2K8
8) Iron Man
9) Ikaruga
10) Kameo
11) Burnout Paradise
12) NCAA March Madness 08
13) MLB 2K7
14) Undertow
15) Brain Challenge
16) Dark Sector
17) College Hoops 2K7
18) Avatar: TLE: TBE
19) Army of Two
20) Mass Effect
21) Lost Via Domus
22) Scene It? LCA
23) TheSimpsons
24) Medal of Honor Airborne
25) Halo 3
26) Fuzion Frenzy 2
27) Marvel Ultimate Alliance
28) Guitar Hero 3
29) NCAA Football 08
30) All Pro-Football 2K8

 

New Phone System

While I was traveling to Detroit for business we had a new phone system installed at the office. This is a very slick system, soft dialing, queues, etc…What I didn’t know was another plan was unfolding around the phone system.

There was a phone box on my desk and a few of my co-workers/culprits (John Balod, Deryl Dorsett) kept asking me about my new “wireless” phone so we made it back to my office and I opened the box to find a new “phone system” alright. The system consists of two Green Giant cans of corn connected by a long string complete with hand drawn instruction manual and a “long distance” add-on…. extra long pieces of string.

This was pretty funny, but it actually works as well! I may keep my new phone system vs. the high-tech system that everyone else is deploying :)

<phone system

Skate 2 & Skate It

skateIt is now official to discuss that Electronic Arts Skate franchise will release 2 new titles.

Skate It for the Wii leveraging the Wii fitboard will arrive late in 2008 and the highly anticipated Skate 2 for the 360 will hit stores in 2009.

In mid April I was in Vancouver meeting with various EA teams at their Blackbox Studio including members of the Skate team. I had the opportunity to play an early build of Skate 2 on the 360 and it was phenomenal. More details to come once made public by EA.

Otherwise, Vancouver was great. In fact some of the best coffee that I have had in a long time was at Caffe Artigiano.

Xbox 360 TheBlackFin Retail Game Library

aunlockedOne of my good friends recently posted his game library as part of his blog. So following that lead here is my collection of Xbox 360 and PS3 Retail titles. I also have 40+ Arcade titles that may be listed later. I have recently acquired a PS3 as well and those titles are also outlined below.

185 Xbox 360 Retail Titles Owned (Game Reviews I have written are highlighted below). I own 8 PS3 titles and 22 Wii titles

Xbox 360 Library

  • Afro Samurai
  • All Pro Football 2K8
  • Armored Core 4
  • Armored Core For Answer
  • Army of Two
  • Assassin’s Creed
  • Assassin’s Creed 2
  • BattleField: Bad Company
  • Batman Arkham Asylum (Collectors)
  • Battlestations Midway
  • Bionicle Heroes
  • BioShock
  • Bladestorm: The Hundred Year’s War
  • Blazing Angels
  • Blazing Angels 2
  • Blue Dragon
  • Burnout Paradise
  • Call of Duty 2
  • Call of Duty 3
  • Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare
  • Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2
  • Call of Duty World At War
  • Cars
  • College Hoops 2K6
  • College Hoops 2K7
  • College Hoops 2K8
  • Command & Conquer 3
  • Conan
  • Crackdown
  • CSI: Hard Evidence
  • Dark Sector
  • Dead Rising
  • Dead Space
  • Devil May Cry 4
  • Dragon Ball Z Burstlimit
  • Dynasty Warriors: Gundam
  • Dynasty Warriors: Gundam 2
  • EA Sports Fight Night 3
  • Earth Defense Force 2017
  • Eragon
  • Fable II
  • Facebreaker
  • Fallout3
  • Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer
  • Farcry
  • F.E.A.R.
  • F.E.A.R. 2
  • FIFA 06 RTFWC
  • FIFA 07
  • FIFA 09
  • FIFA Street 3
  • Forza 2 Motorsport
  • Fuzion Frenzy 2
  • Gears of War (Collectors Edition)
  • Gears of War 2 (Special Edition)
  • Ghostbusters
  • Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter
  • GI Joe Rise of Cobra
  • GRID
  • Guitar Hero Aerosmith
  • Guitar Hero Metallica
  • Guitar Hero Worldtour
  • Guitar Hero II
  • Guitar Hero III
  • Gun
  • Halo 3
  • Halo 3 ODST
  • Halo Wars
  • Hawx
  • Head Coach 2009
  • Hellboy The Science of Evil
  • Hot Wheels: Beat This
  • Iron Man
  • Jumper: Griffins Story
  • Kameo
  • Kung Fu Panda
  • Left 4 Dead
  • Left 4 Dead 2
  • LEGO Batman
  • LEGO Indiana Jones
  • LEGO Indiana Jones 2
  • LEGO Star Wars II
  • LEGO Star Wars: TCS
  • Lord of the Rings Conquest
  • Lost Odyssey
  • LOST PLANET
  • Lost Via Domus
  • Madden NFL 06
  • Madden NFL 07
  • Madden NFL 08
  • Madden NFL 09 (Collectors Edition)
  • Madden NFL 10
  • Marvel Ultimate Alliance
  • Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2
  • Mass Effect
  • MLB 2K7
  • Medal of Honor Airborne
  • Mercenaries 2 World in Flames
  • Mirror’s Edge
  • Monopoly
  • Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe
  • Naruto: Rise of the Ninja
  • NBA 2K6
  • NBA 2K7
  • NBA 2K8
  • NBA Live 06
  • NBA Live 07
  • NBA Live 08
  • NBA Live 09
  • NBA Street Homecourt
  • NCAA Basketball 09
  • NCAA Football 07
  • NCAA Football 08
  • NCAA Football 09
  • NCAA Football 10
  • NCAA March Madness 07
  • NCAA March Madness 08
  • Need for Speed Carbon
  • Need for Speed Most Wanted
  • Need for Speed Pro Street
  • Need for Speed Undercover
  • Need for Speed Shift
  • Ninja Blade
  • Ninja Gaiden II
  • NHL 07
  • NHL 08
  • NHL 09
  • NHL 2K6
  • NHL 2K7
  • NHL 2K8
  • NHL 2K9
  • Oblivion: Game of the Year Edition
  • Open Season
  • Overlord
  • Pirates of the Caribbean At World’s End
  • Prey
  • Prince of Persia
  • Prototype
  • Quake 4
  • Rainbow Six Vegas
  • Rainbow Six Vegas 2
  • Resident Evil 5
  • Robert Ludlum’s The Bourne Conspiracy
  • Rock Band
  • Rock Band 2
  • Scene It? LCA
  • Section 8
  • skate
  • skate 2
  • Soldier of Fortune Payback
  • Sonic Superstar Tennis
  • Sonic The Hedgehog
  • Sonics Ultimate Genesis Collection
  • Soul Calibur IV
  • Spider-Man 3
  • Spider-Man: Friend or Foe
  • Splinter Cell: Double Agent
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars Republic Heroes
  • Star Wars: The Force Unleashed
  • Street Fighter IV
  • Surf’s Up
  • Tenchu Z
  • Terminator Salvation
  • Tetris Evolution
  • TimeShift
  • The Chronicles of Riddick Assault on Dark Athena
  • The Darkness
  • The Godfather
  • The Orange Box
  • The Simpsons Game
  • Tiger Woods PGA Tour 07
  • Tiger Woods PGA Tour 08
  • Tiger Woods PGA Tour 09
  • Tom Clancy’s ENDWAR
  • Too Human
  • Transformers The Game
  • Unreal Tournament III
  • Viking: Battle for Asgard
  • Viva Pinata
  • Wanted: Weapons of Fate
  • Wartech: Senko No Ronde
  • Wolfenstein
  • X-men
  • X-men Origins: Wolverine

PlayStation 3

  •  Dead Space
  •  Gundam Cross Fire
  •  Little Big Planet
  •  Ninja Gaiden: Sigma
  •  Resistance: Fall of Man
  •  Resistance 2
  •  Metal Gear Solid 4
  •  Haze

Upcoming Titles that I am going to pick up upon release:

  • Splinter Cell: Conviction
  • Bioshock 2
  • Mass Effect 2
  • Dragon Ball Raging Blast
  • LEGO: Rock Band
  • Army of Two: The 40th Day
  • Singularity

 

 

Telligent Named “Best Place to Work” in 2008

I mentioned previously that Telligent was one of the few companies selected as Best Place to Work in DFW by the Dallas Business Journal.

Last week was the official luncheon and awards ceremony to find out exactly where we placed in our category and overall. So, Rob, Jason, Scott & I went to represent the team. It was an interesting event as I definitely did not expect the turnout that was on hand. There was easily over 1000 people in attendance and each of the winners received a short introduction and a few tidbits about some of the interesting offerings that keep their employees happy.

In our category of small business we finished in the top 10 and Telligent finished 11th overall out of a record 270 companies that qualified for the award.

Telligent was also one of 12 companies featured in the recently published “Best Places to Work” supplement.

2008 DBJ

Looking back at the culture of Telligent that led to this award and the new leadership now guiding the company I highly doubt that this will be repeated anytime soon.

7 Periods

I was lucky enough to be at Game 6 of the Stars and Sharks Sunday night. The plans just happened to come together on that day and I am really glad that they did.

Rob Howard, Scott Dockendorf, Deryl Dorsett and I were excited to catch some playoff hockey. None of us expected what turned out to be the equivalent of a double header.

The Stars came out aggressively in the first and you could tell that they wanted to close out the series and turn tonight into hand shake night. The Stars were the first to score and the building erupted. Towels were waving, people were screaming and it seemed as if the roof was going to blow off of the AA center.

After the score it seems as if the team went into a mode of protecting the lead vs. being the aggressor. The Sharks started to inch ahead in the shot column (over 100 shots total in one game) and finally one went past Turco to tie the game. Luckily that would be the last shot to get by Marty on the night.

The third…fourth…fifth… and sixth periods turned into a stalemate with both sides playing tenacious D and neither side willing to relent to the other until the Stars finally ended the drought with a Brenden Morrow goal in the middle of the 7th period.

The game in and of itself was amazing. Outside of the game action we had fun between periods from an unlikely source. You could send a text message to the Stars and they would display the messages (good or bad) across the jumbotron. This was one of the best parts of the night as a lot of people had fun with the Sharks among other things…. Comments about eating, grilling, spearing, etc… I even got a message about Scott D on the jumbotron…. Scott D eats Sharks for Breakfast scrolled by with a chuckle from our group. I should have sent in Our CEO can beat up your CEO as Rob had gotten booted from a hockey game earlier in the day for let’s just say defending himself from a high sticking…. :)

Needless to say it was a great game and I think I am still tired from watching 7 periods of hockey but we all got to see what we were waiting for… Hand Shake night. On to the conference finals!!!

Stars

Bring on the Red Wings!!!! Go Stars!!!

Game Review – Iron Man

coverI have been a fan of Iron Man since I was a kid. Granted he is not on the top of the super hero food chain but I did pick up the occasional issue of the Invincible Iron Man.

You may or may not have heard that a summer blockbuster was just released starring Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man. On a side note I have to say I REALLY enjoyed the film. They could not have cast a better actor to play Tony Stark (Iron Man). Definitely check it out you will not be disappointed. Also be sure to stay after the credits for a nice preview into what is to come with the Avengers.

I know what you are thinking. Not another movie/game release. The last decent license title was the Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butchers Bay and that was in 2004. The last title on the 360 that even came close to a decent metacritic score was King Kong (80) and let’s just say that is a bit of a stretch! Nevertheless with the release of a major summer movie based on a Marvel character you knew that a licensed game title would be released as well.

Enter Iron Man by SEGA of America. I played the pre-release demo on Xbox Live and I was captivated by the open/non-linear battlefield and the mechanics of controlling Iron Man. Plus being the fanboy that I am it was a natural choice that I would pick it up on the same date of the release.

Overview:  Let me see, um you are Iron Man; you pretty much fly around and blow stuff up. Rinse and repeat. Seriously though this is not a Spider Man Friend or Foe experience. The open battle fields, flight ability and the armor upgrades keep the levels fresh and you can replay levels with new and upgraded armor as well.

There are only two play options since Xbox Live is not supported. You have the movie based campaign as well as the One Man Army mini missions (You basically take out a certain number of enemies in a given timeframe) as the primary avenues to Iron Man based destruction. But this comes with a price as Iron Man will not be making your most days played list by any stretch as replayability is really diminished without Xbox Live Support.

The campaign mode follows some of the major events of the film with a few additions. As with a lot of movie driven titles you start with a cinematic cut scene and this plays true throughout each mission break of the game. There are thirteen missions in all. The first two missions focus on acclimating you to the Iron Man controls. Mission one with mainly primary weapons and melee and mission 2 based on mastering the flight controls. By mission three you are fully engaged as Iron Man via the MARK III suit (Red & Gold) in all of his ion beam shooting glory. From there you will participate in a number of missions expanding on the movie and leading up to the final confrontation with Iron Monger.

You will be thrown into combat against scores of tanks, SAM’s, attack helicopters, and aircraft as well as some new and familiar faces such as Titanium Man, The Melter, and of course Iron Monger are some of the primary baddies in the game, only Iron Monger appears in the film.

Gameplay: The game boasts a fairly flexible battlefield where you are ultimately in control of how you want to attack your objectives. You have specific objectives and certain elements are timed but you are ultimately in control of where the action takes place. While on the battle field you also have the option to reallocate power in your suit to either support additional power to life support, melee, weapons or your thrusters. This combined with the ability to customize your power distribution between levels allows for a decent level of customization and control.

The element I enjoyed the most was the ability to be fully involved in ground combat and a second later engaging with jets in full flight. The flight mechanics are good and don’t feel forced but they do take some getting used to as this is not Ace Combat by any stretch.

One of my favorite elements of the game is the ability to catch projectiles and redirect them. I can catch a missile in mid-flight and redirect it back to the sender for a nice surprise. You also have the option to grapple a SAM or howitzer and basically use them like big shotguns. You also have the ability to grapple with certain objects such as tanks, armored personnel carriers, jets and helicopters all can be destroyed by flying close, grappling and then rapidly hitting “B” to get a rewarding cut scene. There are also achievements tied to grappling and throwing certain items like planes.

Weapons: In this game you pretty much are the weapon. You have the standard ION beam and repulsor attack options as well as a variety of auxillary weapons from energy shields to guided missiles. As you progress through the game you will be able to upgrade your armor from the Mark 1 through Mark 3 suits (Classic Red and Gold) while gaining the ability to upgrade specific systems for better performance. You have the ability to unlock a number of different armor variants including: MARK I, MARK II, MARK III, Classic, MARK I Classic, Extremis, Hulkbuster, and the Xbox exclusive Silver Centurion models.

Online: There is no Xbox Live Support for this game.

Achievements: The achievements are not the standard complete the level get the achievement. They are tied to specific objectives in the mission such as ensuring no civilian casualties, or destroying certain objectives. It appears through the first run that most of the achievements are well achievable without a very large investment in time. Through my first play through I have been able to pull down 37 of the 39 achievements (850 points) in roughly 7 hours of gameplay. Granted I play for score so if you want to replicate this amount be sure to review the list prior to entering the mission as they are not mission completion based. Here is the full list of achievements available in Iron Man.

Ratings & Comments: If you are going to play Iron Man just know that this is not Halo, Bioshock, or COD4. It is what it is supposed to be a tie in to a summer blockbuster that is supposed to give you a weekend of enjoyment. Do I recommend buying a copy? Only if you are a fan. Otherwise update your gamefly list or go to your local Blockbuster and give it a go. I rate it a 7.5 out of 10.

Pros: