Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Frustrated with P(o)S Home

Before I get into that, I thought it was cool that the cheap 42" Samsung Plasma I bought supports stereoscopic 3D. Now I just need a game or movie that supports it. LOL

Anyway, ever since the first time I logged into PS Home, I haven't been able to get back in. It keeps telling me I have a "bad download", and I can't get it to launch. I've formatted my hard drive twice and redownloaded home but it still pukes like a drunk jackass.

After almost 2 years with the PS3, it is still frustrating. I'm trying to get something besides Blu-ray out of it, but waiting 20 minutes to download/install updates for everything I try to do with it is getting old. I even have the damned thing in my room, and I just don't have the time to deal with it.

One interesting note was that I sat a little closer to my new TV during a Blu-ray flick and it starting looking grainy.'s supposed to be the other way around. Whatever.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

And Blu-ray becomes "clear"

So out of all of the Televisions below, which one do you think finally got me to do a double-take on a Blu-ray flick?

  • 26" Westinghouse LCD 1080i @ $600

  • 57" Mitsubishi DLP 1080p @ $1750

  • 46" Sony Bravia LCD 1080p @ $3000+

  • 42" Sharp Aquos LCD 720p @ $1200

  • 42" Samsung Plasma 720p @ <$900

Note that the prices were at the time of purchase, not necessarily the current price.

Well, here I am with my new 42" Samsung Plasma. The picture is quite impressive, even on the UMD I was playing out of my slim PSP earlier. What is getting me right now, is that I only bought this TV because it comboed with a 360 Pro at Best Buy for only $900 and 2 years no interest. I didn't buy it for an upgrade to my game room, but rather just a lower-cost upgrade to my bedroom.

Although I think all of the above TV's are of great quality, I've been really impressed with Samsung's display processors the last couple of years. When I get the 52" for downstairs, I'm definitely going for Samsung.

So I should be sold on Blu-ray now? Nope, but now I can appreciate the picture.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Blu-ray gets symbiotic with DVD

As usual, I was complaining about Blu-ray again not long ago. One of my gripes was bashed in the face, as BD/DVD hybrid discs are finally....there! Not here, but there...being Japan. Our grubby paws probably won't have to envy overseas for long, as this is a better idea than providing "free digital copies" that don't work properly because of iron-fisted DRM.

The unsettling feeling that we will be forced into Blu-ray still continues inside me, punching at organs. My question is, when will I see a Blu-ray movie that will make the movie experience notably different? As a reminder, I have a 1080p 57" television with a fantastic picture, so it's not the TV (and I've tried PS3 Blu-ray on other TVs). So in my mind, if they are going to force me into wasting money on Blu-ray down-the-road, then they might as well lube up our rears with these hybrid discs.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Playstation Home fails to impress

In typical Playstation 3 anti-playing, I've not had a good experience with Home so far. As usual, the download was slow so I let it run and did other things. A couple days later when I realized I had left the PS3 on, I found that I needed yet another update to use Home. More waiting, less playing. This seems to be PS3 mantra at this point. Can they really not make updates go as smoothly and quickly as they do on Xbox Live? It's been an irritation since the PS3 stepped into the scene.

Anyway, after that was done, I finally jumped into the character creator. There were plenty of options for distorting what should be a human into something personal. Alas, many of the options took 20 seconds or more to load, leaving a bunch of option boxes with only question marks. This doesn't bode well for the impatient that are just trying to mock up a representation of themselves quickly.

After giving up on further customization, I proceeded. My character was thrust into a beach side apartment filled with some couches, chairs and tables. And you can *gasp*, sit on them. Experimentation with the menus revealed some awkward dancing and gestures that provided several minutes of amusement. Once that wore off, I tried to go out the front door.

The Main Plaza was another 20MB download. Sony must be under the assumption that users won't have an interest in leaving their virtual cave? It didn't make much sense to require the main area of Home be a separate download. The wait for the Home download is already long (on a 7Mb down), so why not just lump it together?

I've tried downloading the Main Plaza twice. The first time, there was never an indication it finished when background downloading. The second time, the PS3 froze half-way into the download; I couldn't even pull up the XMB. I had to do a hard shutdown. That was enough for me.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Blu-ray gets voted in as one of the worst techs of the year

Looks like Blu-ray isn't impressing Yahoo! Tech at all. The usual arguments are here (direct or referenced) that it's slow, expensive, and not much of an improvement to the average consumer.

The comments on "Is Blu-ray the new Laserdisc?" shows both sides of the fence well. The videophiles are throwing tantrums that everyone is essentially a blind idiot if they can't discern the extra pixel count and "better" sound (read, "everyone should open their wallet-holes"). The average joes are saying that upscaled DVD is comparable and the cost isn't justified. And so on, and so forth.

When a commenter inferred that only an average consumer would think upscaled DVD is comparable, I laughed a bit. I hardly consider myself an average consumer, taking the challenge of playing the movies side-by-side and on different televisions to try and be amazed by Blu-ray. I keep taking Hollywood Video up on their Free Blu-ray Rental coupons, but we still switch between DVD and Blu-ray with no complaints of quality.

My stance: Does Blu-ray look better? Yes. Does it impact the experience enough to demand an upgrade? Hell no. How much time it takes for me to forget I'm watching Blu-ray? 2-5 minutes. DVD didn't have a picture problem to begin with. I think that's why Blu-ray is in trouble. They try to sell special features on BD, but most people couldn't care less about special features.

In the end, I believe that they will have to come up with either a more convenient media or a new way to experience movies (3D, holographic, etc.). On that note, I have yet to see anyone mention how the media form factor hasn't changed yet (CD sized media). Every prior major media shift has included a size and form change. With the full-circle wow-factor missing from it's technology, it's difficult to say there's a long future for Blu-ray unless the studios force it upon us.

Attack of the teens?

It looks like someone decided to vandalize my mailbox by bending the pole all the way to the ground. It was easy enough to bend it back to vertical, but it looks like the culprit had stolen my review copy of the new Destory All Humans game and left me with the packaging carcass in my driveway.

The irony is that I moved to a city with half the crime per population and that's when this happens (never had a problem in Ogden). Ogden, UT has about 6.5 crimes per 100 people, where Roy has 2.8 crimes per 100 people. For perspective, New York, NY has about 3 crimes per 100 people, and Los Angeles, CA has about 4.8 crimes per 100 people. *shakes head in disdain*

Quick reference to the holy information grounds known as the internet shows it is a Federal crime to vandalize a mailbox, with fines that can be up to $250,000. The link also gives some tips on what to do in a such an event.

There are worse things, but it certainly is annoying. Hopefully I will be able to obtain a new review copy.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Avatar New Formal Clothe

There are new avatar clothing available for the price of zilch. Yup you heard it right, still free and counting. Hopefully this free spree doesn't run out any time soon. There are new clothing for the male and female avatars under the customizable section.

Quote (Major Nelson)

For the gentlemen we have
Blue Tuxedo (save that one for prom season)
Black Tuxedo
Shirt with Cummerbund
Black Trilby
Bowler Hat

For the ladies we have:
Elegant Ball Gown
Little Black Dress
Formal Trouser Suit
Elegant Watch
Red 60's Shades
Strappy High Heels
Platform Shoes

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Raving Rabbids proves Wii's purpose

The Wii's purpose: To turn the world into a room full of jackasses.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Review: Roadie Pro Upgrade

Well, probably about anyone who wanted to upgrade to the ION Drum Rocker has a master plan to evolve into a drummer. Of sorts, at least. This also means a watchful eye must be dedicated to equipment used to convert the ION a regular electronic drumkit.

ION recommends the Alesis DM5, which is a full-featured, and pricey drum module. What isn't highlighted by the Rocker manufacturer is that a kick pedal, kick trigger, and another cymbal trigger are also needed to make the conversion. With the DM5 already at $300+, that's already making the investment seem sketchy. A kick trigger is around $100, another cymbal trigger with mount is $50, and kick pedals can range from $50 - $300+, it'd be better just to buy a separate kit!

Sigler Music has a cheaper alternative with their Roadie Pro Upgrade. I've mentioned it before, but now I have the upgrade kit in-hand and ready to review.

Continue reading...

Out of the box, the parts were good-to-go. The kick pedal was a perfect tension for accuracy. The kick pad housing is sturdy and stays in place. The hi-hat pad is much sturdier than it looks in the picture. The only complaint I had about the now-open-box special is that the packing was poor; mostly just parts drown in packing peanuts. Nothing seemed damaged, but more care in the packaging would have reduced some uneasiness.

The picture instructions do the job, but the text instructions could have been better. All of the parts in the kit install easily, and use the same mounting hardware as came with the ION. It should be a no-brainer for the most part.

After playing with the kit for a few hours, I have two complaints. The first minor complaint is it seems the drum brain is overly sensitive with the hi-hat controller. It will double and triple the clasp sound with a single engagement. The second complaint is more important; the kick trigger is LOUD. It can be heard over headphones, and can even drown out the kick-sound when externally amplified. If keeping it quiet around the domicile is the plan, than this kick pad will certainly fail the task. Thwapping noises will ring throughout the halls and drive someone nuts. But maybe after jamming with the original Rock Band kit, co-inhabitants will already be numb to obnoxious clicking and banging.

Overall, this upgrade kit gets the job done. It looks great and performs it's functions as intended. The third differently-shaped cymbal doesn't look out of place and actually works with Rock Band, which is an added bonus in itself. The brain isn't going to impress seasoned drummers, but it should do the trick for budding "drummists". The kick trigger pad needs to be quieter; maybe some extra padding and/or a different beater would help. Other than that, aspiring drummers will have the perfect kit-completer on their game-controller-turned-drumset.

3 pros:
-Converts the ION Drum Rocker into a complete stand alone drumkit
-Low price for this set of items and gives a 3rd cymbal for Rock Band use
-Excellent for starting drummers that don't know what they need

3 cons:
-Still need a kickbox to make the kick trigger work with Rock Band
-Brain is is over-sensitive to the high-hat pedal
-Kick trigger pad is rather loud and obnoxious out of the box

Personal Appraisal: $199.99*
MSRP: $199.99
Other Opinions:**

8/10 forum user

*Personal Appraisal at the time of the review
**Reviews for this kit aren't readily available at this time

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Blu-ray and multiple discs for movies....why?

So while Internet journalists continue to take the worn out stance that Blu-ray is necessary to reduce disc numbers, I'm looking at my newly purchased Dark Knight disc that has 3 discs in it. WTF.

Two of those 3 discs are Blu-ray. Isn't the whole damn point of Blu-ray to prevent this kind of thing? Shouldn't all of this content fit on their one "massively storage spaced" disc? It just doesn't make any sense. With Kill Bill vol 1 and 2, I understand they are trying to rape our wallets just because they can by making them two unnecessary separate purchases. But the Dark Knight is ONE movie.

So why is it okay for movie studios to pump out unnecessary multiple discs, but not for video games to pump out necessary multiple discs? Sure, the media is different, as-is the method of entertainment. But it seems to me that Blu-ray is NOT being used to its purpose here. Obviously they either want to gorge on price or they think that multiple discs shows more value to the consumer.

Yes, I appreciate the "free digital copy" that comes on the DVD in the set. But even that could have been on a separate layer of the Blu-ray disc so a DVD drive could read it. That's another tech possibility they've wasted even though HD-DVD is unfortunately out-of-the-way.

Consumers get pwned no matter the stance the take.

I guess DVD does win in that I still hear people constantly call BD "Blu-ray DVD", which has got to bother a few execs somewhere.


Sunday, December 07, 2008

Counterstrike + Bordom = Woah....

Friday, December 05, 2008

Lips mic support going to RB2

The long awaited update for Harmonix's Rock Band 2 to support the LIPS microphone is finally heading to a 360 near you. MTV multiplayer announced this feature to ensure consumers could rock out without having the trouble of a little wire to ruin their fun. Smart move guys, smart move indeed.

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Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Bargain Bin Review: F.E.A.R. Files

There's something about turning on "Matrix Mode" that injects a certain cool-factor to any action game. First Person shooters are no exception, and slowmo never seems to get old.

F.E.A.R mixed many of my favorite elements: horror, interesting story, and action-packed game-play. It was only natural to want more out of the game. My only regret is that F.E.A.R. was dated by the time it hit the consoles, and interest in the game had certainly waned at that point. This is unfortunate, as the multiplayer is reminiscent of Counter Strike intensity.

F.E.A.R. Files doesn't bring anything new to the formula, but it does extend the game out more for those who were yearning. Any fan of the original title should find no problem in enjoying this stand-alone expansion collection. The gunplay is still action packed (thank you, Slowmo), and they managed to make both games seem a bit less repetitive.

3 pros:
-Slowmo makes for much entertainment
-Less repetitive than FEAR
-Still has the infamous FEAR gameplay

3 cons:
-Graphics are dated, a lot of the same textures are used
-Other than cheap scare-tactics, it doesn't instill much FEAR
-Story isn't really present

Resembles/Feels like: F.E.A.R. and a little bit of Counter Strike

Rent or Buy: Rent

Personal Appraisal:$19.99*
Other Opinions:**

6.7/10.0 @ IGN
7.9/10.0 @
C+ @

*Personal Appraisal at the time of the review
**Link to other sites' reviews