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Archive for April, 2009

The Outfoxies (Arcade)

April 30, 2009 Leave a comment

Long before Nintendo had the idea of having its characters jump around platform deathtraps shooting each other in the face and hitting each other with bats, Namco had the same plan. The difference is that their implementation of it was way, way more awesome.

The Outfoxies is a simple tale: a group of assassins is pitted against one another, and only one can survive. Players must navigate levels based on real-world environments and use their wits and an arsenal of weapons to kill each other deader than cow pies. Its how this is achieved that makes Outfoxies remarkable. Players not only shoot, stab, and grenade one another, they can use everything in their environment as well. For instance, as you fight your opponent on top of a building, the roof gives way. You fall into a restaurant and fling scalding soup and champagne bottles at one another. Meanwhile, the building is flooding, and electrified water is rising toward you. In the circus level, you can machine-gun clowns and circus elephants, knock you enemy into the tiger pen, or sucker-punch the ringmaster and take his bullwhip. If your adversary counters you, you can escape via trampoline, and of course, the clown-launching cannon is fully functional. Perhaps the most amazing level is an airplane, with mannable gun turrets and a pilot’s chair from which you can actually control the pitch of the level- sending your enemy hurtling to an early death if you’re lucky. As you battle, bits of the plane give way, creating deadly pitfalls. The cargo hold is even full of sliding crates that can crush the unwary.

As awesome as having bloody gunfights while destroying vast maps full of destroyable environment and helpless animals is, Outfoxies has some problems. Hit detection with level elements, especially in the rotating airplane level, can be dodgy. The game also pans out to show more of the level as the players get further apart, and its scaling engine scrambles the screen pretty bad. That said, this game contains possibly more mayhem and undirected carnage than any game ever made and is totally worth your (and a friend’s) time.

7/10

J.K. Scrumpy Cider

April 30, 2009 Leave a comment

JK Scrumpy has a sweet overtone that suggests a fruity wine. It lacks the beeriness of an American cider; you might initially think you’re drinking a french brew. However, Scrumpy is a bit different. As you drink you’ll notice a discernible cidery flavor, like the brown fall cider you get in stores. The flavor of soft cider is actually rare in hard ciders, which often have a harder apple taste, and the bite of alcohol merged with this taste give this cider a crisp, fall flavor that is unique and refreshing. It’s also noticeably less fizzy than most hard ciders, but that’s not really an issue for me.

The ingredients list tells the tale: Apple juice and yeast, nothing else. J.K. Scrumpy is a satisfying, refreshing cider with a unique character and great taste. An excellent break-in drink for soft-cider fans looking to try the hard stuff, this cider won’t let you down.

7/10

Categories: Uncategorized Tags: , ,

Dell's slow ass shipping

April 27, 2009 1 comment

Dell: “Hi, we’re Dell. We build your laptop and desktop as you order it to benefit you.”
You: “Oh? That sounds really neat, what kind of benefits do I get for having my PC built to order?”
Dell: “Well, it has everything in it that you wanted like that extra stick of ram and bigger hard drive… but you’ll have to wait another two weeks to get it… even if you pay extra for next day shipping”
You: “Wait.. WTF?! So I get everything I was shopping for in the first place and my package is now delayed? I’m going to newegg.. later.”

Dell, you fucking piece of shit. I could care less if you are building my PC as I order it. This does not benefit the consumer at all, it benefits you and your pockets. You save money by cutting costs on holding on to inventory and possibly buying too much of one product at a time. Then, you try and market this as if it it’s something special. You don’t even give the consumer many options to begin with. Maybe if you had a decent list of different types of video cards etc. then this may be more justifiable but it’s not, so screw you.

I just recently purchased a dell mini 9 for myself (my wife already has one) and I’m going to attempt to put OSX on it (more on that later when I get it). This is about the fifth time I’ve purchased something from Dell and about the fifth time I’ve been extremely frustrated and disappointed by their slowness in shipping the product. Three weeks!? That’s right, I’m not exaggerating… three weeks. I ordered my dell mini 9 and got a delivery date of three weeks from the time that I ordered it. I added some extra ram and a bigger hard drive. I mean come on, does it really take THREE WEEKS to add an extra stick of ram and a bigger hard drive into a laptop? No. I know it doesn’t, not even with the large amount of orders that Dell goes through.

It’s ridiculous and Dell needs to do something about it. Don’t get me wrong, Dell has some pretty good prices and products overall, and their customer service is not that bad (if you can understand their accents). However, shipping is your first impression of a company and if you just dropped down a large chunk of change on a new laptop, and paid an extra fifty bucks for next day shipping, only to find out you’re getting your laptop next month… I think you are going to be a bit miffed. Do you walk into a store to buy something, bring it up to the counter, hand the lady your money, and then say “See you in three weeks”? No. If you are purchasing something (and I know this is not just me) you want it now, not later. You are giving up your hard earned cash in trade for goods or services. The cash leaves your hands long before you get your final product in Dell’s case.

I also have to argue how this can be beneficial to the consumer. Is there really that many different configurations for a laptop? Would anyone really want that many different configuration options? The choice of whether you want to add that web cam or extra stick of ram is not that far off from the standard build that it would take that much longer. Dell knows this, and I wager that this can’t go on much longer. Especially as more and more people start to move all of their shopping online, the average joe is not going to just deal with this. They need to include some options for those that choose a semi-standard build. A choice between extreme customization that takes three weeks to build and deliver, or a pre-built system with some specs that the majority of the masses would choose with standard 3-5 day shipping, or next day, etc.

All in all, yes I’m frustrated with Dell, yes I’m taking this a bit too far, yes I know that this probably won’t change (at least anytime soon), but I know I’m not the only one who feels this way. Everyone I have talked to, or the several stories I have read online all point to the same frustrating scenario… that Dell has some slow ass shipping. nuff said.

Categories: Uncategorized

Apogee Duet Firewire Recording Interface

April 24, 2009 Leave a comment

This one is for the musicians out there. By day I’m a geek, but by night
and on the weekends I write, play, and produce music. Since this is one of
my primary uses of technology, I have spent a boatload of time and money on
the right gear for the job. Not so long ago I had the need for a small
recording interface I could use with my MacBook Pro to get rough cuts of
guitar parts I’ve written. I find that I have trouble remembering
EVERYTHING I come up with, so recording is a good way to jog my memory if I
need to. Since my practice space isn’t at home and my recording studio
is…I had to find something mobile that would fit in my laptop bag and not
take up too much space.

The Apogee Duet is a 2 channel Firewire recording interface for Mac. Sorry
Windows users, this one’s not for you. I’ll have a review of some Windows
compatible gear soon. It has 2 balanced XLR inputs for microphones or DI
boxes, 2 Unbalanced 1/4″ inch inputs for instruments such as guitar,
keyboards, bass, etc., and 2 unbalanced 1/4″ outputs to connect to your
studio monitors, monitor management system, or amplifier. All of the I/O is
provided via a breakout cable and the entire interface matches the Macintosh
aesthetic well. It provides phantom power on the XLR inputs and is host
powered so you don’t need a power adapter. I won’t go into installation of
the driver and software here, but rest assured, it’s a painless process.

The first time I monitored a mix with the Duet I was blown away. I was
using a Presonus FireStudio as my primary interface which sounded good, but
the Duet sounded clearer and seems to have a flatter frequency response than
the Presonus. I could hear such a difference that I could pick out flaws in
a recording I had already mixed within the first few minues. Since then,
I’ve also replaced my studio monitors with MUCH nicer monitors and I’m
reviewing the mixes again. I’ll review those monitors soon.

I’ve used all of the inputs on the Duet. To be clear, you can’t use both
the XLR and 1/4″ inputs simultaneously on the same channel. You can use
different connectors on separate channels, though. I’ve used each
configuration available on both channels. The frequency response and
headroom are very good. Recording guitar from my Line6 Spider Valve
amplifier couldn’t have been easier. There is a balanced XLR output on the
amplifier which sounds superb when connected directly to one of the XLR
inputs. I use this for quick recordings at least once a week and am quite
pleased. Plugging microphones into these inputs works very well. Also,
recording dry guitar signal to re-amp works nicely with the 1/4″ inputs.

All in all, the interface is solidly built. There’s tons of headroom in the
Mic Preamps. The frequency response is superb. For anyone who uses a Mac
to record and needs either a solid 2 channel interface or something small
that can be packed away in a laptop bag, the Duet is at the top of the list.

I give the Apogee Duet a perfect 10 out of 10

Amazon.com WidgetsApogee Duet Firewire Recording Interface

Categories: Uncategorized

Kindle app for iPhone and iPod touch

April 23, 2009 1 comment

I’m not the most avid reader, but I did find some interest in the Amazon
Kindle. The Kindle itself seemed too expensive to me, so when I heard about
the Kindle app for iPhone and iPod touch I tried it out.

Let me start by saying that the Kindle app for iPhone is definitely not mean
to be your primary reading device. It’s really meant to be a companion to a
real Kindle. This being said, the iPhone app really does leave a bit to be
desired.

You get all the same books as you would on a “real” Kindle as well as
periodicals you subscribe to. You get super-fast downloads straight to your
iPhone or iPod touch. I swear it took like 30 seconds to download 4 books
to my iPhone 3G while on the 3G network. It would probably be faster on
Wi-Fi. That’s more than acceptable for downloading an entire BOOK to your
mobile phone.

The disappointments abound, however. The screen size of the iPhone is just
too small to read from. I know this isn’t really a fault of the
application, but it’s disappointing nonetheless. Also, because the iPhone
has an LCD display instead of the super-pleasant E-Ink display of the
Kindle, there can be some pretty hefty eye strain after reading for a
while. There’s no Landscape support, though I don’t think this is an open
API in the 2.2 SDK for the iPhone so hopefully we’ll see it on the next
version. There is no purchasing from the application, or even from the
Amazon mobile app. This is a deal-breaker for many iPhone users, I’m sure.

All in all, the application is OK. I can’t say that I would have paid for
it had it not been free. Once the iPhone 3.0 update goes live, we’ll see if
Amazon can add some of the missing functionality. I’m hoping to see all of
the application specific issues get fixed at this point.

Overall I give the Kindle iPhone app a 5 out of 10.

Amazon.com WidgetsKindle app for iPhone and iPod touch

Categories: Technology

Woodpecker Cider

April 23, 2009 Leave a comment

Woodpecker is possibly the most English American cider I’ve ever tied. It has a very clear apple flavor without much funk. However, it’s also a little less bold- It is to English Ciders what Corona is to Sapporo, if that makes any sense at all. Woodpecker is a great dinner cider but as an experience of its own, it doesn’t impress. If it were a little stronger, it’d be a 7/10, but it isn’t. As it is, I feel secure marking it above other cheapo US ciders like Woodchuck.

6.5/10

Categories: Uncategorized Tags: , ,

Dragonball Evolution

April 21, 2009 Leave a comment

Someone in Hollywood looked at Dragonball, a goofy cartoon about farting moppets looking for oversized magical marbles. “Hmm,” they thought, “this would make a fine live-action film with a bunch of nobodies who can’t act! We’ll make it deathly serious and cast a bunch of surly teenagers!” Then they gained the presence of mind to stow Chow Yun Fat in there so people would go. I don’t know why he did it. I’m guessing he lost all his money somehow and playing an old geezer who reads porn, touches some girls’ behinds, then dies seemed easy enough.

It didn’t work out, and DBE has been losing money hand over fist. This is because it sucks. The special effects are lousy, the characters uncharismatic, and the script- well, it had to be simple so the cast could read it all off cue card next to the camera, but it’s still bad. Fortunately it’s short; it ended just as I was getting really mad at it. You may be tempted, as I was, to see this film for trainwreck appeal, but don’t bother. It is neither deliberately nor accidentally good, it is only a sad mess that joylessly marches to the minimum length for a five dollar movie than dies abruptly. This movie actually entertained me less than Mortal Kombat: Annihilation. And that’s something.

Who am I kidding. If you’re the kind of freak who reads a twittered micro review blog entry about Dragonball Evolution, you’ve probably already seen it. Here’s some fun stuff to watch for:

  1. Every fight scene is in slow motion, Like Zach Snyder came in to co-direct. The ladyfriend suggested that rather like the fictional DarkPlace, slow motion was used to stretch out the film. If so, more was needed, the whole thing is less than 90 minutes long.
  2. The girl that plays ChiChi is actually pretty hot! Then Goku beats her up and she’s out for the final quarter of the film.
  3. That dude playing Yamcha? His eyebrows are seriously freaky. What’s up with that? Look at ’em!
  4. Wow, the movie’s already over!

Look, I tried to get enjoyment out of Dragonball Evolution, my advice is not to. You won’t be rewarded. Just go watch the cartoon. I didn’t care for it, but at least it’s funny.

0/10

Categories: Movies Tags: , , ,