Tech + Lifestyle

games, gear, and googleplexes (joke)

Score Big with Bing

Honestly? When the Bing search engine was first released by Microsoft, all it garnered from me was a shrug. I was in China at the time, so my top priority was minimizing my bandwidth use – when you’re working at dial-up speeds, you don’t care about resource-heavy perks or the background eye-candy that Bing is so fond of. I just wanted speed.

The homepage on Bing.

The homepage on Bing.

Now that I’m back in the US, I’ve tried it out rather extensively as I order parts for my coming computer build. I’ve got to say: Bing isn’t perfect, but it’s off to a great start. Search is decent, as are the various categories that filter results. What’s great right now, though, is the cashback program. Continue reading


August 13, 2009 Posted by | Tech | , , , , | Leave a comment

I Bought Windows 7 Today, or I Am Victorious: Return of the Victorious

Pre-ordering: it's what all the cool kids do.

Pre-ordering: it's what all the cool kids do.

Before we get into any of this, note the title. Yeah, that’s witty; it even references an earlier post, which is always fun.

Okay, down to business.

I pre-ordered Windows 7 today for $49.99. Fine, $55.97 if you want to get technical and include shipping.

It was good. It was lovely. And for a few hair-raising minutes, it looked like it wasn’t even going to happen.

Newegg didn’t officially show it as in stock, and just had the auto-notify button up. Office Depot was out of stock. Microsoft’s online store crashed every time I tried to access it. Enter my hero: Amazon. Ordered, confirmed, and scheduled to arrive on the day Windows 7 officially releases.

Before any of you go off into some sort of anti-Windows / anti-early adopter / anti-other stuff rage, let me make a few points: Continue reading

June 26, 2009 Posted by | Gaming, News, PC gaming, Personal, Tech | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Weeky Shenanigans #4 (E3/Computex Edition)

Here lies Weekly Shenanigans #4…

  • Left4Dead fans were up in arms this week after Valve announced a sequel Left4Dead 2. Most felt that the sequel was taking the place of content updates or DLC. Valve’s own Doug Lombardi took some time at E3 to talk with Rock Paper Shotgun and seems to have mollified most of the gamers that were previously sharpening their blades and planning an offensive against Valve’s headquarters.
  • By far, Nintendo’s conference at E3 was the most uninspiring. Evidently they’re content with seducing even more of the casual demographic with things like the Vitality Sensor. I’m sorry, but really?! The Vitality Sensor? That sounds like a scam whose sole demographic is men with ED. They did announce a handful of interesting games, including a new Metroid from Team Ninja. I’m not sure who thought of that combination, but they deserve the biggest cookie in the history of baking cookies. With chocolate chips, and a chewy middle that’s just ever-s0-slightly doughy. The Penny Arcade guys summed it up pretty well with this:

June 7, 2009 Posted by | Gaming, Humor, PC gaming, State of the Blog, Weekly Shenanigans | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Pay Attention: This is what a GFWL Gamer Looks Like



Everyone, meet CoolingGibbon, diehard GFWL gamer.

I’ve been in contact with him over the past several weeks, asking some questions and generally trying to get a better idea of what motivates him to use GFWL. Read on for the transcript of our email interview.

Can you tell us a little about yourself?

Well, I’m a 22-yr old guy currently pursuing a computer science degree. I’ve been a PC gamer for over 8 years, before which I used to game on a NES and Gameboy as a kid. But after being introduced to classics like Wolf 3D, Quake and Half-Life… I decided to move over to PCs completely. And I’m glad to say that I find the PC undoubtedly the best platform for any serious gamer.

How did you get into GFWL?

My first introduction to GFWL was with Halo 2 a little more than a year ago Continue reading

April 18, 2009 Posted by | Gaming, Interview | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

In All Fairness: Games For Windows Live

First of all, let me start off by saying that I haven’t been too kind to Games For Windows Live in the past. Among other things, I’ve said that nobody is even aware of its existence, that it’s useless so far, and that it needs to be scrapped completely and replaced with something new.

Recently, I’ve made an honest attempt to put my own biases aside and look at the situation objectively. On the one hand, GFWL doesn’t approach the utility of Steam, not by a long shot. That being said, most Steam users have a rather short-term memory about these things – for the first several years of Steam’s existence, it was roundly mocked and derided as little more than Valve’s version of DRM. I’ve had some bad moments with Steam personally, most notably when my computer is temporarily without internet access – Steam throws a righteous fit. GFWL also has some challenges that Steam hasn’t faced, like trying to adequately interface PC gamers with console gamers. Continue reading

April 17, 2009 Posted by | Gaming, Tech | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Review: Microsoft Arc Mouse

Microsoft Arc Mouse

Microsoft Arc Mouse

Travel mice are, by definition, something of a niche product category. Not everyone needs that extra bit of mobility that one provides, and many are quite satisfied with the track pad on their laptops. Some of us, though, just aren’t as productive with a track pad as we are with a mouse, and I fall firmly into that category.

Given that I’m in China, and won’t be back in the US until August, the prospect of only using a track pad for that period, even the huge one that my unibody MacBook boasts, was unacceptable. What’s a nerd to do? For me, the answer was pretty simple, as I’d already been mulling over the potential purchase for a few weeks. My choice was the Microsoft Arc Mouse. Here’s why: Continue reading

March 9, 2009 Posted by | Tech | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Microsoft: A Study in Disaster

At the end of the day, or perhaps more appropriately at the close of business, what are a company’s top executives responsible for? The most obvious answer is that they work to make a company profitable, and if it already is, either increase profit or at the very least, maintain it. In the pursuit of that, I would argue that executives must come up with a cohesive business plan/model, something that applies to every product or service they develop. That plan is then passed on to upper-level management, who ensure that their respective divisions are working toward achieving a particular part of said plan.

That’s how it works. In theory, anyway.

Microsoft has apparently chosen an alternate method to business. All of their products are related, more or less, but creating something that is actually desired by the public seems to be optional.

“What on earth are you talking about?” you ask. “I thought Microsoft was doing pretty well, with the exception of that horrific bloatware they call Vista, and besides, didn’t they learn their lesson from that? My beta of Windows 7 is pretty good!”

Yeah, Windows 7 is a distinct improvement, and their productivity software is good, too. Even the Xbox 360 is doing pretty well, and the newest die shrink for the chipset seems to have solved the overheating that gave gamers that spectacular gift known as RROD. Believe it or not, Microsoft makes products other than operating systems, productivity software, and gaming consoles.

First, there’s Games for Windows Live. You don’t know about it? Don’t feel bad, most people have  no idea it exists. Even among PC gamers, those that are aware of the existence of Games for Windows Live are in the minority.

Let’s make a distinction here. There’s Games for Windows, which is an unnecessary initiative by Microsoft to ensure that games are compatible with Windows, as if that were necessary. Honestly, it’s nothing more than a bit of free advertising that gets slapped on the boxes of most major releases. Beyond that is a separate entity known as Games for Windows Live. Theoretically, it’s the PC gaming counterpart to Xbox Live. In reality? It’s useless, so far. There’s almost none of the functionality you get with Xbox Live. Most games don’t use it; the most recent exception to that is Fallout 3, which has admittedly given it more exposure than anything beforehand (there was Universe at War, but that’s about it). You start the game, and a little icon appears on your screen letting you know that you’ve been logged in.

Let’s say you’ve seen this. You probably thought something along the lines of sweet, what can I do with it? Does it allow multiplayer with Xbox Live gamers? Because that would be awesome. I’ve always wanted to do that.

The short answer is no, it doesn’t. (Update: CoolingGibbon has informed me in his comment that the games Shadowrun, Universe at War: Earth Assault, and Lost Planet Colonies are supported for inter-platform multiplayer. I apologize if this was misleading). Continue reading

January 29, 2009 Posted by | Tech | , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Windows 7: I am Victorious

After 24 hours of checking and rechecking four different sites for availability of the Windows 7 beta, I finally snagged myself a copy. That’s with a product key, mind you – if I were impatient, I would’ve grabbed the ISO long ago and just let it expire after 30 days. That’s the weak way to do it. Vigilance pays off, my friend. That, and about a metric ton of caffeine. On the other hand, if you aren’t as cool as me (aka didn’t get a beta key), here’s the 64 bit ISO, and here’s the 32-bit ISO. It’s crippled (no updates) and it’ll die young (read: 30 days), but I’m sure you’ll enjoy the time, right?

I’m currently sitting at 17% 24% downloaded, around 570MB 775MB so far out of the total 3.2GB file. Once I’ve got it, I’ll burn the sucker to a disk and document the super fun lovely exciting install process. It’s going onto a second partition on my Macbook, so we’ll see how that goes. In particular, I’ve got this morbid curiosity to see if the multi-touch support will actually work with the touch pad. I’m told (as in this is unconfirmed) that Windows 7 has 48 bit color support, though this isn’t even remotely useful yet as not graphics cards can take advantage of that yet.

Anyway, plenty of screenshots and stuff await your eager eyes/faces/brains/whatever. Don’t forget to check back later tonight tomorrow, my loyal (or perhaps accidental) readers.

Note: the delay in content is due to the fact that my Macbook is absolutely dragging it’s feet on the hard drive partition necessary for a dual-boot install. I’m just about ready to restart and begin the partition all over again – it might actually be faster than sitting here hoping that it’ll magically go through.

***Update*** I’ve temporarily given up on the Windows 7 beta. Boot Camp Assistant won’t recognize my burned ISO as a valid Windows Installation CD, meaning it won’t let me boot from the CD and actually use the partition I created for that specific purpose. I’ve got other PCs in the house I could use, but I’m at home, not away at school right now, so I’d rather not do an install on a computer that isn’t mine. The Windows 7 beta is tabled indefinitely.

January 10, 2009 Posted by | Tech | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Ultimate Steal

Chances are some of the people that read this are college students. If you happen to fall within that demographic, congratulations! Believe it or not, Microsoft actually cares about you. It’s either that or they jsut want to appear like they do. Either way, you profit. Read on to find out how. Continue reading

October 9, 2008 Posted by | Tech | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Computer Build Part One – Choosing Your Components

I actually completed this build about two weeks ago, but I’ve been too busy with school to write up a decent post on it. I previously wrote one post about ordering the parts for it, and another with a few teaser pics of my work area. Now I’ll finally get into it. Here we go… Continue reading

September 20, 2008 Posted by | Tech | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment