Tech + Lifestyle

games, gear, and googleplexes (joke)

Of Rock and Roll and Cameras

I purposely arrange my schedule around Apple’s media events. No really, I do. Today I actually rescheduled a meeting so that I could read about Apple’s “It’s Only Rock And Roll” event in realtime. In my defense (or defence, for you kids across the pond), I actually got it out of the way early in a responsible, adult manner.

I hate to be anything that even vaguely resembles a fanboy, but I find their announcements absolutely fascinating. Apple has managed to take something that most companies relegate to either a press release or one of a handful of trade shows and turn it into some sort of massive party/lovefest/shindig where the crowd treats company executives like rockstars and treats rockstars like, well, regular folks. Quivering journalist-types and tech bloggers hang upon their every word, frantically posting updates to their website, and mere mortals such as myself eat up those updates like so many delicious cookies. Second-hand love like that requires talent, folks; talent that Apple has in spades. I enjoyed today’s “It’s Only Rock And Roll” event as much as any other of their announcements (well, almost: I was practically jumping up and down in excitement when the iPhone and iPod Touch were announced two years ago). There was just one problem.

The 3rd-gen iPod Touch has no camera. Continue reading

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September 11, 2009 Posted by | Gaming, iPhone/iPod Touch | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Booyah Society: As Dumb As It Sounds


Booyah Society

Booyah Society

Booyah Society: the game where you get points for doing things in real life.

I got an email from a PR rep a few weeks ago about its launch. They describe it as, “The first social game based on real-life achievements.” Hmmm.

I find myself in interesting position as I write this – I haven’t yet tried it. Oh, sure, I’m interested in checking it out, but an ugly beast has raised its head – compatibility. Apparently, Booyah Society will not run on my 1st-gen iPod Touch. Checking again, I realize it does in fact state this on the App Store page, but I’m still somewhat bummed. Apparently I’m a second-class citizen of the App Store, though that’s another article altogether. Back to Booyah Society, or rather, the idea of it.

Frankly, I’m not entirely sure what to make of this yet. On the one hand, why not? It encourages gamers to spend a little more time doing things other than playing video games, which I confess often receive a disproportionate amount of my time. The concept actually reminds me of a joke several gamers/writers/webcomic artists have made – the best way to get a gamer in shape is to equate exercising with in-game training. Do some card and raise your stamina two points, bulk up to gain strength, complete obstacle courses for increased agility, and so on and so forth. It’s a funny concept, sure, but how much more palatable does it really make the activity, and for how many people will it actually make enough of a motivational difference?

Even if it is encouraging us to engage the world more directly, there’s also potential for distortion of the original intent. If we only do things to claim in-game achievements, is there really even that much worth to it? Most of us wouldn’t make much more than a minor change in our habits, but the ultra-competitive would likely end up doing things just to say they’ve done them and claim another achievement.

Incidentally, the potential for distortion of the original intent is similar to a certain type of behavior I saw while in China. Continue reading

September 2, 2009 Posted by | Gaming, iPhone/iPod Touch | , , , | Leave a comment

Snow Leopard Unboxing

At this point I’ve actually completely (and successfully) installed Snow Leopard. It’s just that I got sidetracked with a web design project, which led to a distinct lack of blog posting. Forgive, and enjoy:

Snow Leopard

Snow Leopard

Apple totally designed this cardboard sleeve

Apple totally designed this cardboard sleeve

Snow Leopard is better and stuff, we swear. It's like Leopard, only... in the snow.

Snow Leopard is better and stuff, we swear.

More Apple stickers? Dude, just what I wanted!

More Apple stickers? Dude, just what I wanted!

Snow Leopard is fierce.

Snow Leopard is fierce.

…yeah, that’s all I’ve got.

August 29, 2009 Posted by | Humor, Tech | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Death, Quietly

My iPod died yesterday.

I’m not entirely sure what time it passed, though I became aware of its demise somewhere around 8 pm. I’ve been busy moving back into my house in Oklahoma, and had plugged it into my computer to juice up. The battery on it had been absolute crap in recent weeks, so charging had been taking forever. I popped back into my room, and hit the home button to check the status of the battery.

Nothing. Continue reading

August 17, 2009 Posted by | iPhone/iPod Touch, Tech | , , | Leave a comment

Weekly Shenanigans #8

Shenanigans remind me of cliched Irish terminology and the movie Office Space. Surely, neither of those are bad things. If they are, I don’t want to be right. Anyhow, I present to you the eighth iteration of Weekly Shenanigans, that once-every-seven-days feature that you all know and love. Bastion of all things geek and nerd, purveyor of tech-news… how would you ever live without this stuff? And with that, away we go:

  • First up is an interesting (if somewhat cerebral) look at gaming terms posted onto Gamasutra entitled, “Mapping Gamer Dialect.” Intriguing, no? Click through and read up.
  • This is the POWERHAT.

    This is the POWERHAT.

    If you haven’t been reading these, you should absolutely, definitely, without any shred of doubt head over to Rock Paper Shotgun and read their newest ongoing feature – “A Fool In Morrowind,” in which Alec Meer re-discovers The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, and all the wonderful things therein. He recounts his experiences with… things… like the hat pictured at right. Hilarity ensues. GO.

  • Anandtech recently reviewed the ASRock X-58 Extreme motherboard, priced at the sweet, sweet amount of $169. It performed around 1% lower than other boards, but such a difference is hardly noticeable to most users. Given that this is a fully-featured ATX motherboard, that price is excellent, and only matched by the micro-ATX MSI X-58M previously mentioned on Weekly Shenanigans.
  • Most weeks – not every week, but most weeks – I post something about Apple. This week is no exception. It’s almost like a mini-feature within the feature. What’s going on this week, you ask? I’ll tell you – three times over! Oh, and I’m naming this sub-feature Super-Happy-Apple-Fun-Time. It just seems appropriate. Read below, fool! Also: Don’t ask why this is two separate bullets. I don’t know. Continue reading

July 5, 2009 Posted by | Gaming, Humor, PC gaming, State of the Blog, Tech, Weekly Shenanigans | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

That Joel And His Hijinks (They Ensue)

The iPhone 3G S was released recently. There was much rejoicing on behalf of the fans. I haven’t seen or touched one of the things, so I’ll leave you with a two-part interpretative dance on the topic:

Maybe it’s just me, but I think his art has improved recently. Anyway, he’s a good guy, so hit up his site.

In other news, I hope to one day be internet-popular enough that links like that actually generate significant click-through. Le sigh.

June 26, 2009 Posted by | Humor, Tech, Webcomic | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Rollin’… in my 3.0

This piece was first published at iPGN. To see my original article, click here.

Rollin’… in my 3.0 thumbnailI’m currently drowning under a deluge of updates. It’s kinda fun. With the new 3.0 firmware having recently dropped, publishers are rushing to get their newly-improved games to the public. I’ve gotten updates or new releases of Baseball Sluggers, Star Defense, and Enigmo so far. I’m willing to be that there will be more by the time I’ve finished writing this.

Oh, here comes Leaf Trombone. Sweet.

While I won’t be among the lucky few getting the new iPhone 3G S, I do get to use the new firmware – it’s the every-man’s upgrade, providing you ignore the fact that us second-class iPod Touch users have to pay $9.95 for it. It’s a fair price, though, for all the fun little upgrades I’m getting. I won’t really be going into detail on them here – expect that in a later piece. Here are the things I’m enjoying so far: Continue reading

June 20, 2009 Posted by | Gaming, iPhone/iPod Touch | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

AppStore Age Ratings: FIX IT!

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

Age ratings need overhaul and reboot thumbnail

Let me start out by saying this: I’m a big fan of the App Store. Hands down, it is the single best distribution model for mobile gaming that I’ve ever seen, and has seen more success in the last year than anyone would have reasonably expected. It’s easily accessible, with user ratings, simple updating, and fair prices. That being said, it isn’t perfect. One of the major flaws in the system is the age-rating labeling system that every game undergoes.

The age rating is supposed to inform users what age level a particular game is appropriate for. In theory, this should let parents control what their children can and cannot play. Most of us don’t bother checking what label a game has received before buying it. I’m an adult, what do I care if a game I plays is rated for preschoolers or teenagers? Allow me to enlighten you on the ratings some of the more mainstream titles have received.

Resident Evil: Degeneration is rated 9+. Assassin’s Creed: Altair’s Chronicles got a rating of 12+. Terminator Salvation is 9+. Wolfenstein 3D Classic is 12+. The limited visual capabilities of the platform mean these games can’t possibly be as graphic as their console and PC counterparts, but are the ratings appropriate? Hell, the game iDracula – Undead Awakening is rated only 4+. It consists entirely of blowing vampires, werewolves, and witches to bits. Is that really appropriate content for a four-year-old? Granted, it’s the rare pre-school or kindergarten aged kid that will actually ever play the game, but the standards by which games a given ratings really need an overhaul. Continue reading

June 15, 2009 Posted by | Gaming, iPhone/iPod Touch, Tech | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

WWDC ’09: My Take

This image shamelessly kidnapped from IGN Entertainment

This image shamelessly kidnapped from IGN Entertainment

WWDC 2009 happened yesterday for most of you. For me, it happened early as balls this morning. I stayed up and watched as reports flooded in from 1AM until 3AM local time. This was one of those times where the time difference really, really sucked for me.

Some of you might be scoffing right now. “Surely you could have slept and read about it in the morning,” you say. “There was absolutely no reason to lose sleep over this thing. You didn’t even make an early post about it!” That may well be true. I didn’t post anything super-early in the wee, partially-conscious hours of my morning. I didn’t make any sort of cutting-edge analysis of Apple’s actions. I didn’t disparage them like some, and I certainly didn’t praise them like others. I just watched, because at heart I’m a geek, through and through. I love technology for technology’s sake, even if I don’t end up buying or using it. I love seeing how it evolves, how different technologies and upgrades compare to market conditions and what effect that has on price points. I love watching companies duke it out over who has the superior product, because that means innovation and better products for the little guy.

If you’re curious, I’ve got absolutely no intention of buying the new iPhone 3G S, nor any of the updated notebooks. For better or worse, I’m currently stuck on the T-Mobile network, which means no shiny Apple phone for me. I got the aluminum unibody MacBook when it came out, so there’s absolutely no reason for me to buy the new one because the battery and screen are better and it’s being called a MacBook Pro. I will say that Snow Leopard is mighty tempting at the $29 price point, and I’ll probably pick it up when it is released this September. Smaller footprint, OpenCL and their Grand Central tech? Yes, please! Continue reading

June 10, 2009 Posted by | News, Tech | , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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