Wednesday, May 25, 2011


Finding the willpower to write about Minecraft is difficult, because in order to do so, you have to stop playing Minecraft. This was intended to be a much longer, more in-depth review, but I think it cuts to the chase effectively.

You find yourself in a strange world which renders around you as arrive. The sun is out and it's a beautiful day. The graphics are blocky, but adequate. You take a moment to gather yourself and examine your surroundings.... but the clock is ticking. The sun is still rising, but when it sets... The monsters come.

When first dropped into Minecraft, this is what you know: "In 10 minutes, the sun is going to set and I will be set upon by monsters which will kill me. I need wood, I need coal, and I need it now." It's such a primitive concept, but executed beautifully. It's a virtual commentary on the theory of Human Motivation.

First: shelter, survival and safety - just the basic needs.
Second: Comfort, expansion of your safety and the accumulation of wealth and materials.
Third: Creating and sharing with friends, socializing etc.

The game comes together so organically, it's hard not to be impressed. The panic that sets in as night falls and you are still exposed; When you discover a new cavern deep in the earth and the zombie you've been hearing groan is suddenly RIGHT THERE. The mile-stones to mark your progress are plentiful and enjoyable, but almost all self-generated.

There's so much to explore and do, that it's easy to be overwhelmed by your options.
You can create a tree/wheat/sugar farm, develop a complex system of mining, create a portal to the hell world to gather rare materials, build elaborate traps to catch and kill monsters or just wander the world taking in the interesting sights and struggling to survive.

Should you decide to try the game, you will definitely want to view this video:

and you'll probably want to check out the information here:
Minecraft wiki beginner's guide

These will help you with the absolute basics. If you're worried about spoilers or developing your own strategies, you should still watch the video and view the basics page in order to get to a point where you'll understand how the game works.

Just remember: In 10 minutes, the monsters come.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have some mining to do. And a farm to attend to. And I want to build a road to connect our various bases. Oh! And I want to explore that cavern! And I still need to figure out how to use mine-carts... We should open a portal to the Nether.... AH CREEPER! RUUUUUN.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

GM for a day. Now with 100% less Bucky.

Let's try this again (blogger lost my first draft). Here's my goal in this post: I want to get a look at what we can spend in free agency on a center after we re-sign our players. I'm assuming we can't get Connolly on the cheap (He probably wants out with the level of disdain fans here have for him). I tried to trend the numbers towards a "worst case scenario", so that if it seems like I'm overpaying, that's a bit by design.

Here's how I treated our NHL Unrestricted Free Agents:
Cody McCormick: $400k raise to $900k. While he seemed to fade down the strech, he's a goony guy with the ability to play hockey. Worth keeping around at a reasonable price.

Connolly: I'd give him a cursory 1 Million/yr offer with the expectation that he leaves.

Montador: We don't have the room on the blue line for the price he'll fetch.

Grier: If he's good to go, a $800k offer to play. Otherwise, I'd offer him a video-analyst position of some sort where he can work with the young guys.

Neidermayer: Epic playoff performer, but just doesn't have a full-season in him any more, unexpectedly sad to see him go.

Lalime: Some organizational role seems like a good idea for one of the better team-first guys we had last year.

Here's how I treated our NHL Restricted Free Agents:

Stafford: $2.1 Million raise to $4M. The big fish. More than doubled his salary for 1 or 2 years and that gets him to UFA status. Seems fair to both sides. It might take 5 Million a year to get this done. Either way, I think you pay it. (A 3.5 Million longer term would be acceptable as well).
Grabner at 3 Million is comparable stats-wise, but with only one season under his belt and a lower Point-per-game pace than Stafford I think a higher price should be expected.

Gerbe: $350k raise to $1.2M. Such a lovable little guy, but has to prove he can do it year-round. Very young, still a RFA - 1.2 Million seems pretty reasonable.

Sekera: $1 Million raise to $2M. Good, young defenseman who's still learning and growing as a player. 100% raise is justified.

Butler: $650k raise to $1.5M. Perhaps a bit much, but with the TOI he had during the playoffs, I think he's earned a solid bump in salary.

Weber: $1 Million raise to $1.55M. I have a heterosexual man-crush on Mike Weber and I'm not ashamed to admit it. I've paid him accordingly.

Gragnani: $1 Million raise to $1.5M. His Playoff and World Championship performances provide a lot of support for a big raise.

Enroth: $1 Million raise to $1.566M. He's going to get a raise, probably not that much - but he will be seeing some more ice time next year.

This ends up being a little under 1 Million LESS than the Sabres spent last year.

In all, with the 15% increase in salary that Ted Black mentioned (~7-8 Million extra), the Sabres have about 8 million to spend on a new center. (A little less with a 13th forward on the roster, a little more without). Seems like a good spot to be in to compete for Richards or make a trade for a big name and replace a traded piece. Here's an approximation of the final roster:


Thomas Vanek ($7.142m) / [Insert New Guy Here] ($7.500m) / Jason Pominville ($5.300m)
Brad Boyes ($4.000m) / Derek Roy ($4.000m) / Drew Stafford ($4.000m)
Patrick Kaleta ($0.907m) / Tyler Ennis ($0.875m) / Jochen Hecht ($3.525m)
Nathan Gerbe ($1.200m) / Paul Gaustad ($2.300m) / Cody McCormick ($0.900m)
[Zach Kassian ($0.900m) as first call-up, not included in calculations]

Jordan Leopold ($3.000m) / Marc-Andre Gragnani ($1.500m)
Tyler Myers ($1.300m) / Andrej Sekera ($2.000m)
Mike Weber ($1.550m) / Chris Butler ($1.500m)
/ Shaone Morrisonn ($2.075m)

Ryan Miller ($6.250m) / Jhonas Enroth ($1.566m)

BUYOUTS: Tim Kennedy ($0.166m)

CAPGEEK.COM TOTALS (follow @capgeek on Twitter)
(these totals are compiled without the bonus cushion)
SALARY CAP: $59,400,000; CAP PAYROLL: $55,058,690; BONUSES: $425,000
CAP SPACE (20-man roster): $4,341,310

Edit: To clarify why Kassian wasn't included in my calculations.