Category Archives: Nintendo

What Happens to Pokemon in a World with Pokemon GO?

It has been a big year for the Pokemon Company, the entity founded by Nintendo, Game Freak, and Creatures back in 1998 to manage to suddenly successful Pokemon franchise.  Nintendo is the senior partner in that group, and is the one that owns the trademark on Pokemon, so people generally just refer to Nintendo, but there are actually multiple entities which I will mention in this paragraph and then go back to ignoring as usual.

Anyway, 2016 has been a big year.

To start with, the Pokemon franchise celebrated its 20th anniversary back in February.

Pokemon20

As part of that that celebration there have been legendary Pokemon download events every month, often accompanied by additional Pokemon download opportunities, mostly covered at the official Pokemon20 web site, which I have blogged about here.  They even released versions of the original Pokemon games for the Virtual Console on the Nintendo 3DS hardware.

The games that started it all 20 years ago

The games that started it all 20 years ago

In addition to that going on, there are the Pokemon World Championships, the culmination of events around the world, here in San Francisco this weekend.

Pokemon come to Baghdad by the Bay

Pokemon come to Baghdad by the Bay

On top of that, there is new Pokemon game coming out for the 3DS this November, the next in line in the venerable core Pokemon RPG line of games.  You would have a tough time convincing me that a good chunk of Nintendo 3DS sales are not related to the fact that it is the platform where the main line of Pokemon games, from which everything else in the franchise stems, is released.  Not when 1 in 4 3DS owners bought a copy of Pokemon X & Y.

So a new Pokemon game is always a boon.

Sun and Moon coming in November

Sun and Moon are coming!

Pokemon Sun & Moon coming out this November!  And that has meant the usual slow drip of news and updates about the title as the date approaches.

All of which adds up to a pretty big year for Pokemon.  Nintendo has even been pushing some of the other titles in the franchise on the Nintendo Store as party of the anniversary events.

not even close

not even close

There you can find the main RPG titles that are available on the 3DS (however, all the DS titles are no longer available despite the 3DS having support to play them) as well as spin offs like Pokemon Mystery Dungeon, Pokemon Ranger, and… Pokemon Pinball… okay.

And in the midst of all of this Pokemon frenzy there dropped Pokemon GO.

PokemonGO_500px

And since it hit the App Store back on July 6th, you can barely hear any of the over the roar of Pokemon GO hype.

I follow six general gaming news sites in my RSS feed, and Pokemon GO has been a headline item on at least one of them… on occasionally all of them… every single day since it launched.  I think Massively OP, which is an MMO site, had a two week string of headlines about the game, though they got Raph Koster’s blessing when he declared it an MMO I guess.  I was writing about it being a phenomena after the first weekend, and nothing I have seen since would convince me it has been anything less than this summer’s runaway hit game.

Kick's Chicken in Naiperville

It is in our food even!

Just yesterday Guinness announced that Pokemon GO had broken five records:

  1. Most revenue grossed by a mobile game in its first month,
  2. Most downloaded mobile game in its first month,
  3. Most international charts topped simultaneously for a mobile game in its first month in terms of revenue
  4. Most international charts topped simultaneously for a mobile game in its first month in terms of downloads and revenue
  5. Fastest time to gross $100 million by a mobile game.

And, in that environment of Pokemon GO fever, I started wondering what this meant for the franchise.  With a Pokemon game available on iOS and Android, the potential audience is huge.  I like the 3DS hardware, and it has been a decent seller, moving nearly 60 million units as of June 30th of this year, but Apple has sold that many iPhones in a single quarter on a couple occasions, including the first quarter of 2016.  And that doesn’t even start to count Android sales.  So There are a lot of devices out there that can play Pokemon GO.

But the game people are getting when they download Pokemon GO is, at best, a shadow of the experience that is the mainline Pokemon RPG.  There is the “Gotta Catch ’em All!” aspect to it, and some form of gym battles present in the game.  But there is no trading… a key founding concept for the game… no head to head battles, no breeding, no story, and only some vague goals beyond collecting.

Add in server problems, bugs, security concerns, battery life issues, controversies over features and changes, the sporadic presence of Pokestops and Pokemon, cheating, and the inevitable backlash that shows up when anything becomes popular, and I started to wonder whether or not this would be a good thing for the franchise.

Would Pokemon GO serve as an introduction to the franchise or would people walk away from the whole thing after the somewhat shallow experience that Pokemon GO can provide?

We are finally getting some early indications of what effect Pokemon GO will have.  Several sites are reporting NPD’s July 2016 hardware sales results which indicate that Nintendo 3DS sales have gone up considerably, with the 3DS outselling the XBox One which added a new model to its lineup.  Additionally, Pokemon titles for the platform, specifically Pokemon X & Y and Pokemon Alpha Ruby and Omega Sapphire also saw a significant spike in sales in July.  (Sources: Game Informer, Perfectly Nintendo)

So the initial reaction to Pokemon GO, as far as the overall Pokemon franchise goes, seems to be good.  Pokemon GO seems to more than just a passing fancy and is actually raising awareness of the whole Pokemon game ecosystem.  We shall see if that holds until November and the launch of Pokemon Sun & Moon.  If it does, those two titles might themselves set a record for the franchise.

The Pokemon 20th Anniversary Continues with an Arceus Event and More

The celebration of the 20th anniversary of Pokemon continues.  This month’s legendary Pokemon is Arceus, a legendary Pokemon that first showed up as a special download during the Pokemon Platinum era.

Arceus of Legend

Arceus of Legend

This month the Pokemon 20th Anniversary event requires another visit to GameStop to pick up a card with a code to claim Arceus.  I haven’t been by the store yet, but I suggest getting out early.  With previous such GameStop Pokemon card events, the cards have gone quickly, often ending up on for sale eBay.

Arceus is another legendary Pokemon I remember going to an event to collect back in 2009 as part of the war up for Pokemon HeartGold & SoulSilver.

Arceus is Coming!

Arceus pre-event promo, August 2009

As before, the code on the card is only good for Pokemon X & Y or Pokemon Omega Ruby & Alpha Sapphire on the Nintendo 3DS or 3DS XL.

Upcoming download events for the rest of 2016 are:

  • September – Victini (Nintendo Network)
  • October – Keldeo (Nintendo Network)
  • November – Genesect (GameStop)
  • December – Meloetta (Nintendo Network)

Meanwhile, we are continuing to get more news about the upcoming Pokemon Sun & Moon, due out later this year.

Sun and Moon coming in November

Sun and Moon coming in November

One of the lastest tidbits is about the Pokemon players will encounter in the Alola region, the setting for Pokemon Sun & Moon, which is modeled on the Hawaiian islands.  In addition to new Pokemon, there will be “regional variants” of some traditional Pokemon.

Variations on what we know

Variations on what we know

From the site:

Pokémon Adapted to the Alola Region

Some Pokémon have adapted to the distinctive microclimates of the Alola region, taking on different forms than they have in other regions. These Pokémon are called regional variants. Taking root in the Alola region, they live like native Pokémon. Regional variant Pokémon can have different appearances and types, and their ways of living can also differ from that of the forms previously known.

I am not sure how I feel about that.  On the one hand, they did pick a few choice Pokemon to use, but on the other, it does seem a bit like a cheap copy/paste method to fill out the required minimum 150 new Pokemon that need to show up for any new region.   I suppose I should be glad of it, as there are so many Pokemon at this point (721 total in the current full National Pokedex) that I am not sure I could remember 150 more, so new flavors of old ones might be a good thing.

And, finally, the Pokemon 2016 World Championships , which combine both the trading card game and the video game versions, are coming to San Francisco, August 19-21.

Pokemon come to Baghdad by the Bay

Pokemon comes to Baghdad by the Bay

I would buy a poster-size copy of that graphic.

Living just an hour’s drive away, I may have to see if I can roust the child out of the house to go up and see what is going on.  They usually have side events or special downloads for spectators… or maybe just some Pokemon GO hunting in a new location.

The Pokemon GO Phenomenon

Dad, there is a Zubat on you!

-My daughter, in the middle of the SF MOMA

Pokemon are literally everywhere these days.  Pokemon GO was the theme of the weekend.

PokemonGO_500px
I must admit I am a bit jealous of those who have smart phones for one.  The lure of Pokemon made me consider ditching my ridiculously cheap pre-paid burner phone… that is pretty much just a phone… in order to be able to join in on the fun.

It is one thing for my Twitter feed to be all abuzz about some new game, but it is quite a new thing to be able to actually see people engaged with a game out in the world.  On Saturday I drove my daughter up to the store to get a new inner tube for her bike.

In the car she was telling me all the Pokemon she could see.  Meanwhile, just looking out the window I could clearly see people hunting for Pokemon.  You see three guys with their smart phones out in their hands, one wearing a Pikachu shirt, and there is little question as to what they are pointing at.

My daughter wanted to get her bike going, which she has ignored for a few years, in order to ride around with a friend in search of Pokemon.  The park in our neighborhood, which has a Pokestop , has people walking all over with their phones out.  My daughter says that there is a group that camps the park and has a lure… a cash shop item that attracts more Pokemon to a location… running all the time.

Nintendo has been big on getting its users to get up an exercise from time to time, there being the Wii Fit, or the Pokewalker that came with Pokemon HeartGold & SoulSilver, to the built-in pedometer in the 3DS, to the simple reminders that come up during some games to encourage players to take a break, stretch, and maybe get some exercise.

But if Nintedo’s plan was to get its fans up and out of the house, it has succeeded. (Complete with sound track I guess.) In my daughter’s case, my wife has gone from, “You need to leave the house” during the day to “You need to be home by…” pretty quickly.

Meanwhile, people I know who pay no real attention to video games know what Pokemon GO is suddenly.  Without any big marketing campaign, it made it to the top of the download list on the iTunes store and, more importantly, to the top of the highest grossing app list as well.

Not there haven’t been problems.  A couple of times my wife handed me her iPhone 6 so I could try the game out, only to be thwarted because the servers were down due to the overwhelming load.  And then there is the battery drain.  The app uses GPS, data, and your phone’s camera, which conspire to kill battery life at a prodigious rate, though a fix to help that is reported to be on the way. (Some battery tricks are available.)

Then there have been the real life issues.  Along with the usual tales of people driving or riding bikes while playing, or restaurants dealing with the whole thing, a news story surfaced about somebody finding a dead body while out looking for Pokemon near a river, while a group was using Pokemon lures to attract players to a remote location in order to rob them.  And then there were some simple bad taste moments, like a Koffing, a Pokemon that emits noxious gas, being found at the United States Holocaust Museum.

But otherwise the whole thing seems to have been a rousing success, where the biggest problem is simply too many people wanting to play the game.  They have held off rolling it out in other countries until they get a handle on the server issue.  Nintendo’s stock is up and I expect that we will be hearing a lot more about Pokemon GO over the next couple of weeks.  Cue segments on the news, late night talk shows, and Ellen this week for sure.  There is a Blastoise in the fountain at the White House and people are going to talk about it.

Even today’s XKCD features the game.

This could be a moment of change for Nintendo.  After the tepid response to the Wii U, largely due to self-inflicted issues, Nintendo seemed to be grudgingly heading towards the mobile market to appease shareholders.

The culture of the company has always seemed to me to be that of a hardware maker, for whom software sells the hardware. (I’ve worked for companies like that before.)  They make new versions of Super Mario Bros. in order to sell more consoles in to the family room and new versions of Pokemon in order to sell more handheld units.  And that has been a viable plan for the most part.  Certainly the GameBoy, DS, and 3DS lines have been sustained by Pokemon.  I own a 3DS solely to play Pokemon, and I doubt I am alone in that.  But while they like software sales, they measure their success as a company in hardware units sold.

And, suddenly, they have a runaway success on somebody else’s platform, a runaway success where they are only the software vendor in an environment where they do not control everything.

This has to be an eye opening moment for Nintendo which has, in the past, disparaged the idea of things like 99 cent apps, stating that their games have more value than that.  And now they are making bank on an app they are giving away for free vie the age old scheme of giving the razor away and making money selling the blades.

I don’t think Nintendo is suddenly going to give up on hardware.  That is too ingrained in their culture.  It is too much a part of Nintendo’s identity.  But I imagine they will be even more serious about this sort of “software only” thing in the future.

In the mean time I am waiting for people to draw the wrong conclusions from this sudden success.  You know that, right now, somebody out there is going, “Hah, I can make a GPS AR app better than that!” while forgetting that the immediate success of Pokemon GO is in large part because Pokemon is a 20 year old franchise for Nintendo that has enjoyed immense popularity.  Pokemon is second only to Mario at Nintendo, and the plumber showed up nearly a decade and a half earlier.  Ars Technica has a post up on some of the realities.

It will be interesting to see how this changes things, if it changes things at all.

Back in our little corner of the world, my daughter caught several Pokemon at the SF MOMA.  While the place seemed to be mostly populated by Zubats, she did get a Growlithe, which made her happy.  She was a bit upset that we wouldn’t let her run out of the MOMA when there was a Bulbasaur across the street by the Metreon.  When we finally did walk over there it was gone, but there was a Jynx nearby.  We went over to grab that.  As my daughter was trying to catch it, I saw somebody else walk up who was clearly there to catch it as well.  Pokemon are contested and whoever catches it first gets it.  My daughter managed to grab it, but there were not hard feelings, just a nod to a fellow fan who moved off in search of further catches.

So it sounds like Pokemon GO will be a thing for a while, the app of the summer.

Addendun : Security concerns if you used Google to log in.

Others on Pokemon Go weekend fun:

The Pokemon 20th Anniversary Continues with a Shaymin Download Event and Other Tidbits

The celebration of the 20th anniversary of Pokemon continues.  This month’s legendary Pokemon is Shaymin, the hedgehog-like legendary grass type Pokemon from the Pokemon Diamond & Pearl era.

Happy Shaymin

Happy Shaymin

I remember going to a Toys R Us event to download Shaymin about seven years back.

Shaymin Event

Shaymin Event back in February 2009

This time around you do not have to go to Toys R Us (or GameStop) to get Shaymin, you can download it directly to your copy Pokemon X & Y or Pokemon Alpha Sapphire & Omega Ruby via your Nintendo 3DS wifi connection.

Next month though it will be a return to GameStop to pick up a code for Arceus.  Here are the upcoming download events:

  • August – Arceus (GameStop)
  • September – Victini (Nintendo Network)
  • October – Keldeo (Nintendo Network)
  • November – Genesect (GameStop)
  • December – Meloetta (Nintendo Network)

And, for the first time in a few months, there is no other download event going.  Of course, that may be due to there being enough other Pokemon related things going on.

Nintendo has been releasing more and more details about the upcoming Pokemon Sun & Moon, slated to be launched this November.

Sun and Moon coming in November

Sun and Moon coming in November

There is also the Sinnoh Classic Pokemon Global Link event coming up, which will require you to compete online with only Pokemon available from the Pokemon Diamond & Pearl era. (Rules here)

Back to when there were only 493 Pokemon

Back to when there were only 493 Pokemon

You need a Pokemon Trainer Club account and a copy of Pokemon Alpha Sapphire or Pokemon Omega Ruby in order to join in.

In addition, the 2016 US National Pokemon Championships ran this past weekend in Columbus, Ohio.  That leads to the 2016 Pokemon World Championships, which will be held in up in San Francisco (about an hour from where I live) on August 19-21 at the Marriott Marquis Hotel.

[Insert stock location establishing Golden Gate Bridge picture]

While the main event itself is invite only, there is at least the promise of some sort of side events for people showing up just to gawk, so I’ll have to keep an eye on the news to see if there is a reason to head up that when when it happens.  If nothing else, it ought to be a gold mine for street passes.

And, finally, this week saw the release of Pokemon GO here in the US.  Pokemon Go is the augmented reality game for your Android or iOS device that lets you catch Pokemon in real world settings.

PokemonGO_500px

While my iPad 2 is to old to run Pokemon GO, my daughter grabbed it immediately for her iPhone and almost immediately caught a charizard in our family room.  Then she wanted to head out the door to the park up the street where a PokeStop was located.

While I wasn’t able to play, other bloggers in our corner of the internet were on the job, so you can read some first hand experiences with the game here:

The Pokemon 20th Anniversary Continues with a Manaphy Event and More

The celebration of the 20th anniversary of Pokemon continues.  This month’s legendary Pokemon is Manaphy, a legendary Pokemon from the Pokemon Diamond & Pearl era.

Happy Manaphy

Happy Manaphy

I remember Manaphy well as, during the Pokemon HeartGold & SoulSilver era, getting a Manaphy was my key to collecting all 493 Pokemon then available.  I had to play Pokemon Ranger Guardian Signs to get it and then use another DS to transfer it into SoulSilver, but the deed was done.  Then I left it in the Pokemon Day Care with a Ditto to breed Phione and, for a brief moment in time, I had collected them all.

Instructions on how to download Manaphy to your copy of Pokemon X and Y or Pokemon Alpha Sapphire and Omega Ruby are available on the Pokemon site.  You have until June 24th to make it happen.  There are other Manaphy themed items available as well.

Meanwhile the word is that the June Pokemon Trainer Club newsletter will contain a code that will allow players to download Mew.  (To get the newsletter you have to sign up for the Pokemon Trainer Club, detail for which are available on the site.)

The alleged reason for the Mew code is that the GameStop cards from February giveaway went very quickly and ended up on eBay selling for real cash money.

Mew GameStop Card

Mew GameStop Card

In order to make it up to fans who might have missed out on the GameStop card, this will be an opportunity to get the missing Mew.  The only catch is that you had to have signed up for the newsletter by June 1st, so I hope you are already on the list.

That is this month’s anniversary news.  The upcoming download events for the remainder of the year as we count down to the launch of Pokemon Sun & Moon are:

  • July – Shaymin (Nintendo Network)
  • August – Arceus (GameStop)
  • September – Victini (Nintendo Network)
  • October – Keldeo (Nintendo Network)
  • November – Genesect (GameStop)
  • December – Meloetta (Nintendo Network)

Still plenty of rare Pokemon to collect.  More information is available at the Pokemon 20th anniversary site.

The Pokemon 20th Anniversary Continues with a Darkrai Event and More

The celebration of the 20th anniversary of Pokemon continues.  This month’s legendary Pokemon is Darkrai, the nightmarish legendary Pokemon that first showed up as a special download during the Pokemon Diamond & Pearl era.

Darkrai brings nightmares

Darkrai brings nightmares

This month though the Pokemon 20th Anniversary event requires another visit to GameStop to pick up a card with a code to claim Darkrai.  I went by GameStop already with my daughter and a friend in tow to grab a couple cards.

Darkrai GameStop Card

Darkrai GameStop Card

While there were three of us standing there when I asked about the cards, the clerk only handed me two.  I suspect he thought I was asking for the kids rather than for myself primarily.

As before, the code is only good for Pokemon X & Y or Pokemon Omega Ruby & Alpha Sapphire on the Nintendo 3DS or 3DS XL.  Other Darkrai related items are also available in May.

That is the main event for May, but it is not the only Pokemon available.

There will also be three, one week only direct download events this month featuring Pokemon from Pokemon X & Y.  The Pokemon available are:

  • May 2–8: Zygarde
May 2-8 level 100 download

May 2-8 Level 100 Download

  • May 11–17: Shiny Xerneas
May 11-17 Level 100 Download

May 11-17 Level 100 Download

  • May 20–26: Shiny Yveltal
May 20-26 Level 100 Download

May 20-26 Level 100 Download

Xerneas and Yveltal are the X and Y styled Pokemon from which the Pokemon X & Y entries in the franchise derive their name.  Zydarde is the Z, who might have gotten his own follow up title if Nintendo and GameFreak had been on their old plan of putting out an interim title between (e.g. Pokemon Emerald or Pokemon Platinum) major releases in the series.

And, to wrap up the month, if you signed up for the Pokemon Trainer Club newsletter, as I mentioned in last month’s update, you would have three codes in your email inbox by now to download the legendary trio of Articuno, Zapdos, and Moltres.

May is for rare flying Pokemon

May is for “Many” Pokemon

So if you are on the ball and serious about this sort of thing, you could be adding up to seven legendary Pokemon to your collection this month.  And the events will carry on through the remainder of 2016:

  • June – Manaphy (Nintendo Network)
  • July – Shaymin (Nintendo Network)
  • August – Arceus (GameStop)
  • September – Victini (Nintendo Network)
  • October – Keldeo (Nintendo Network)
  • November – Genesect (GameStop)
  • December – Meloetta (Nintendo Network)

The events will culminate in the release of the next entry in the Pokemon RPG series, Pokemon Sun & Moon.

 

Friday Bullet Points from Beyond the Blog

Or just some tidbits I want to bring up which didn’t quite justify posts of their own.

Nintendo and More Nostalgia Validation

As part of the 20th anniversary of Pokemon, Nintendo released Virtual Console version of the original Pokemon Red, Blue, & Yellow on February 27th of this year.

Old games come to the Virtual Console

Old games come to the Virtual Console

They just reported some sales numbers, which included more 1.5 million copies of those three titles.  Not bad for 20 year old games.  Of course, as I noted, vanilla Pokemon, if you will, plays pretty well.

EverQuest II hits Game Update 100

I can’t recall if EQII has gone through every number, 1-99, with updates, but still, hitting 100 is something of note.  And this update has a bit of a nostalgia twist to it.  While I’m not exactly thrilled about the owl mounts, the re-use of Zek, the orcish wastes zone for additional content has me happy.  It has always been one of my favorites among the original zones, probably for its consistent/coherent “orcs, orcs, orcs” theme.

I won’t be playing it however.  For openers, I think my highest level characters are still in Kunark… which is late 2007 content.  And then there is the fact that I am still pottering around on the Stormhold nostalgia server, where I am level 22.

Nostalgia on Wayne!

Nostalgia on Wayne!  Often the theme of this blog.

However, Stormhold still seems to be lively enough.  There aren’t five versions of The Commonlands running any more, but Freeport always has a couple versions running due to population.  Still, it is nostalgia one way or the other.  That seems to be a theme of late.

Blizzard Might Give You a Free Copy of Warlords of Draenor

Way back after Blizz announced the Warlords of Draenor expansion, I had a post about phishing attempt offering a free version of the expansion.  One of the key tells was Blizz giving you a free copy of… well… anything.

Of course, things change.  As Keen reports, Blizz now has an offer out to long lapsed subscribers offering them some free game time as well as a FREE copy of Warlords of Draenor.

Nostalgic old WoW logo, image swiped from Keen and cropped

Nostalgic old WoW logo, image swiped from Keen and cropped

Blizz must be staring at the reality of a long spring/summer until WoW Legion hits.  They stopped announcing subscription numbers last year, but it would be hard to imagine they have gone up from 5.5 million in the last six months.

Of course, this offer has only gone out to people who didn’t purchase Warlords of Draenor, which is making me think about my pre-order of WoW Legion.  Given that my post-Cataclysm experiences in WoW have generally been best when I am late to the expansion party… being a year late to Mists of Panderia was excellent timing… I am tempt to just cancel my pre-order and wait a year or so until Blizz is ready to give me a free copy of WoW Legion.  Or until they open a retro server.  One or the other.

DC Universe Online and on XBox One

Well, the first title for the company formerly known as SOE has made it to the XBox.  As promised earlier this year, the five year old DC Universe Online has gone live on the Microsoft console platform.

XBox One! Would you like to know more?

XBox One! Would you like to know more?

Back during the Daybreak transition, this was one of Smed’s selling points, the ability to get titles on to XBox.  We shall see if it was worth the effort.  But at least they made their “Spring 2016” target.  Making dates is generally a good sign.

Diablo III Season 6 Starts Tonight

Just a passing note on this.  I had a lot of fun with Diablo III and Season 5… right up until the moment I got that last achievement and stopped logging in.  Goal driven much?  Still, the Season thing seems to work well, especially for those of us who are goal drive.  And here comes Season 6.

It has a 6 on a leaf, because leaves are seasons or something

It has a 6 on a leaf, because leaves are seasons or something

However I am not sure at this point if Season 6 is in the cards for me.  I might need to skip a season to keep it fresh.  I would want to play a fresh character again, but not another crusader, so I would have to figure that out.  And I would have to see if the rewards appeal to me at all.

EVE Vegas is Coming

One of the final announcement at EVE Fanfest this past weekend was the date for EVE Vegas this year, which has sort of become the US EVE Fanfest.   The official EVE Vegas site has all the details.

The would be Halloween weekend

The would be Halloween weekend

Tickets went on sale while players were still in Iceland and the early bird discount tickets were gone in a flash.  I am tempted to go.  I had a good time last year.  However, Halloween weekend seems like an awkward time to plan such an event.  It will definitely not be an “off” weekend for the strip, which means prices for everything will be up and venues will be crowded.  Not a problem for the party animals I am sure, but for a grumpy old guy who prefers discussion groups with maybe four or five people, this might not be the ideal date.  Anyway, tickets are going fast so my decision to go or not might be made for me.

Anyway, those are all the items that I had on my list of notes.  Tomorrow there will be an end of month post and then we will be in May.