Tech + Lifestyle

games, gear, and googleplexes (joke)

Weekly Shenanigans #3

I don’t know what to say, other that I’m on a roll. Three weeks in a row of regularly posting a column? That’s something pretty close to a miracle for me. I’m the guy that regularly makes posts with the words, “Part One” tacked onto the end, and regularly fails to make follow-up posts. It might not be a big deal for other people, but three posts in a row is absolutely EPIC as far as I’m concerned.

Enough with the patting myself on the back, though. Let’s get down to business.

  • Not too big (extended ATX), not too small (mini-ITX). Just right.

    Not too big (extended ATX), not too small (mini-ITX). Just right.

    Anandtech recently reviewed a mATX (that’s micro ATX, for all you non-hardware geeks out there) motherboard from MSI, the X-58M. That pint-size sucker went toe-to-toe with the ASUS Rampage II Gene and came out on top in several circumstances. What’s more, it retails for $169.99, which is one of the cheapest, if not the cheapest price I’ve seen for an X-58 board. This looks like a great option if you’re not concerned with adding a bunch of discrete cards – the mobo comes with 2 PCI-e 2.0 X16 slots, a single x4 slot, and a legacy PCI slot. Overall, it’s a great option, and I might be considering it for my upcoming build. Score one for the budget team.

  • There’s an interesting article talking about graphical realism on Gamasutra. It’s plenty accessible, managing to avoid the highly-technical jargon that such pieces so often get bogged down with. Check it out. Continue reading

May 31, 2009 Posted by | Gaming, Humor, State of the Blog, Weekly Shenanigans | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

State of the System, Part II

This article was first published on the iPhone Games Network. To view my original article, click here.

In part one of this article, I discussed where the iPhone/iPod Touch platform is at in terms of things like visuals, controls, and gameplay, and what gamers can expect for the future.

Today we’re wrapping up with Part II, where I’ll be covering some of the more abstract qualities of the platform – specifically game updates, replay value, multiplayer, and the App Store back-end.

Game Updates:

It’s almost a fact of life for App Store users that when you buy a game, you aren’t actually getting the final version. It’ll be updated, and probably more than once. Whether or not you like the idea of buying something before developers have finished tweaking it, the practice is here to stay. In fact, it isn’t even all bad. Many games have dramatically improved since their original release, and the simple nature of the App Store’s system means that all users have the chance to get a more polished, hopefully bug-free product. While this isn’t a perfect standard, it’s still much, much better than buying games for your average cell phone, which usually goes something like this: Continue reading

May 30, 2009 Posted by | Gaming, iPhone/iPod Touch, Tech | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Demoman Intervention, Part One

Scene opens with a shot of the exterior of the Shady Oaks Crisis Center. The sun is shining, birds are singing, and a light breeze cools everything with its touch. How lovely.

The peaceful tranquility of the setting is broken only by faint sobbing coming from inside. It seem sad; a nameless victim of some sort of trauma, probably reliving past horrors in an attempt to move on and regain control of his life.

Then the entrance explodes. Continue reading

May 28, 2009 Posted by | Gaming, Humor, PC gaming | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Modern Warfare 2 Trailer

Infinity Ward has been kind enough to grace us with a gorgeous trailer for Modern Warfare 2. Releasing on November 10th, it promises to be an incredible ride. Check it out.

May 26, 2009 Posted by | Gaming | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Down, Down, Down the Slippery Slope of Internet Addiction

After much fidgeting, general agitation and doing my best ostrich-impression (head firmly buried under two pillows while mumbling, “it’s not real if I can’t see it, it doesn’t exist if I never sign up for it), I’ve given in to the silent seductress that is Twitter. I’ve managed to stay away from it since the service started, rationalizing that it wasn’t so different from the status updates I use on Facebook. My logic was doomed to fail; all it took was a wink here, a smile there, a subtle toss of the hair… how could I resist?

Fail Whale

Fail Whale

Twitter is like a streamlined version of Facebook’s stalker feed, developed solely for the purpose of learning things about other people that you never necessarily wanted to know. Getting updates from somebody every five minutes about the traffic, the food they just ate, and debates as to what the best method is for trimming nose hairs isn’t exactly fun. Correction: it isn’t exactly fun if it’s someone you know personally. If it’s a celebrity? Absolutely fascinating.

I’m bound and determined to not be like that. Don’t get me wrong – every new social service I use is like an exciting new drug, and I get a bit more addicted with each one that I use. Twitter is the (insert addictive substance #1)  to my previous favorite (insert addictive substance #2). I’m trying to maintain a maximum posting frequency of five twits per day, and hopefully that will typically be closer to one. Promise to tranquilize me and ship me off to the nearest rehab center if I get out of hand, mkay?

May 26, 2009 Posted by | Tech | , , , , | 1 Comment

Weekly Shenanigans #2

Against all odds (and by all, I mean the previously-mentioned 28% chance that this wouldn’t happen), Weekly Shenanigans is back for its second installment. I’ve got plenty of juicy, nerdy tid-bits for all you good little boys and girls, so let’s dive in.

  • Three Mile Island

    Score: Three Mile Island

    I had an irresistible urge this week to watch a movie absolutely devoid of meaning or any emotional significance. Pure visual and auditory stimulus without the need for any of that messy thinking nonsense that other movies demand – that’s what I was looking for. After much hemming and hawing, I ended up going home with a copy of Hellboy II. Believe it or not, I was pleasantly surprised to find the movie  was moderately enjoyable – maybe even good. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve got nothing but respect for Guillermo del Toro, but the original Hellboy was such a lackluster film that I didn’t have very high expectations for this one. Instead, I found a superhero movie that didn’t take itself too seriously (thank God), poked fun at all manner of stereotypes, and actually had a bit of character development. Unfortunately, the film faltered a bit near the end, but it was overall a very enjoyable work. I give it a rating of Three Mile Island. That might not sound like a good score, but it is. I think. Continue reading

May 24, 2009 Posted by | Tech, Weekly Shenanigans | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

To Boldly Go (Where A 1960s TV Show Has Gone Before)

Star Trek, J.J. Abrams style.

Star Trek, J.J. Abrams style.

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…

Wait, wrong franchise. Ahem.

Space – the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise…

Much better. Anyway, like half the geeks in the world, I recently watched the new Star Trek movie, and I felt like reviewing it. But first, an anecdote!

I went to one of the many, many stores in Kunming that sell DVDs of questionable origin with one goal in mind- getting the new Star Trek movie. When I got there, I found not one, but TWO versions of the movie. Perplexed, I asked the clerk if they were the same, just in case. He said that they weren’t the same, so I asked what the difference was. His reply? One was five yuan, the other was ten. *Fail*

I’m not going to ruin the movie for you unwashed masses that haven’t seen it yet by discussing any of the plot points, so this will be a fairly short review. Instead, I’d just like to point out what was so awesome about this movie:

1. Hot Fuzz… In Space

I don’t care who your favorite character was from the original series, Simon Pegg stole the show this time around. He didn’t have a ton of screen time, but this performance was one of the best I’ve seen out of him, and he managed to do so while getting Scottie’s character right. Continue reading

May 23, 2009 Posted by | Movie Review, review | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Like a Boy Scout, Man. Like a Boy Scout.

Plan (T+L)

Plans. Plans are good.

I’d like to think of myself as a decent gamer. I’m not too hardcore – I actually get outside from time to time, for starters. That being said… I dabble. A twenty-four hour gaming session now and again, the occasional Mountain Dew IV drip; nothing too serious, you know?

That’s why all these recent Team Fortress 2 announcements have me shaking in my boots. The Spy? Really? Really! I feel like I’m at least decently proficient at most of the classes in TF2, but the Spy? For all the sneaking and skulking around I do in other games, for all the times I choose to be a rogue, or thief, or solar-powered ninja, I’ve never been able to wrap my head around the Spy. The backstab? Haven’t mastered it. Disguising myself and making it to the other team’s intel without being detected? Can’t do it without half the people on the other team taking one of those just-in-case shots at my head, even when I’m invisible. No, scratch that. Especially when I’m invisible.

That’s why the Spy freaks me out, man. I can’t defend against him. How can I when I’ve got no idea what a typical Spy would do in any given situation? One time the same Spy killed me 39 times in a row. I didn’t touch my computer for a week after that. My therapist said that’s an understandable emotional response to emotional trauma. Then I told her that I’ve started to hit my friends whenever I see them, just in case it’s a spy in disguise. She referred me to a specialist. Continue reading

May 23, 2009 Posted by | Gaming, Humor, PC gaming | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

State of the System, Part I

This was first published on the iPhone Games Network. To view my original article, click here.

Apple’s App Store was announced over a year ago, and since then we’ve seen it explode, with over one billion apps downloaded, independent developers striking gold with the likes of Trism, and mainstream powerhouses contributing AAA titles like Super Monkey Ball, Tiger Woods and Assassin’s Creed. The quality and variety of games has multiplied dramatically, and with those increases comes a question – have developers reached the potential of the platform? If not, where will it go from where?

Frankly, there’s quite a bit of material to cover on the topic, so I’m splitting this into two parts. In the first, I’m focusing primarily on classic gaming elements like visuals, physics, gameplay, and controls. In Part II, I’ll discuss some of the more abstract qualities like updates, replay value, multiplayer capabilities, and the App Store back-end. Continue reading

May 22, 2009 Posted by | Gaming, iPhone/iPod Touch, Tech | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Weekly Shenanigans #1

It might be fun to add some sort of structure to the old blog, right? At the moment, I just sort of slap posts up as they come to me, with absolutely no consistency or discernible pattern. I’d like to try to change that. Maybe I won’t be totally successful at first, but eventually I’ll chisel out something of a schedule, with weekly columns and whatnot. Theoretically I’ll put out something like mobile gaming posts on Mondays, tech tutorials on Tuesdays, etc. Stuff like that, but without the horrific 1950s-style alliteration.

Sounds cool, right? I think so.

Now, it’d be all logical to just start organizing the posts that I already make into categories, but that would be boring and not very T+L-esque. Instead, I’m starting at the end, and writing up a wrap-up of tech and media items of note that caught my eye during the week but weren’t quite post-worthy, as well as some personal tidbits. Furthermore, I’m starting the posting of this column, entitled Weekly Shenanigans, on a Tuesday (because that’s when it makes sense to post something that is part wrap-up, part update, and part caffeine-fueled musing). Never fear, you intrepid logic junkies – that’s only going to be temporary. The following Weekly Shenanigans will go up on Saturdays, or possibly Sundays. I haven’t really worked all the kinks out yet.

Oh, and in the interest of full disclosure, and because some guy somewhere once said “know thyself” or something along those lines, I’m estimating that there’s a 28% chance that this will be the first, last, and only ever Weekly Shenanigans. That’s how I roll (28% of the time).

Okay. There. The column has been sufficiently introduced. Without further ado, and in no particular order, I present the contents of Weekly Shenanigans #1. Continue reading

May 19, 2009 Posted by | Personal, State of the Blog, Weekly Shenanigans | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment