Sunday, November 11

It's hard to overstate my satisfaction

I want.

Now if they'd only hurry up and make the companion cube available.

If you haven't played Portal, this will not make any sense.

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Tuesday, October 23

Embarrassing

It is a sorry state of affairs when my Xbox 360 is blogging more than I do.

That gives you a rough idea of how I am spending my free time these days.

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Sunday, August 19

Dead again

return of the red ring of deathMy Xbox 360 has once again failed and is displaying the red ring of death. For those playing along at home, this is the second failure my Xbox 360 has had, and I just got it back from the first repair at the end of February. That repaired unit lasted a whole six months.

I'm glad that Microsoft has owned up to some quality issues in the 360 and extended the warranty to 3 years. I know that this decision cost them 1.2 billion dollars. It is going to cost them even more if they can't fix the damn problem the first time.

I know I shouldn't reward Microsoft's quality screw ups by handing them more cash, but frankly BioShock is coming out this week, as well as Two Worlds. Being without an Xbox for three weeks while a clearly awesome game and a potentially fun Xbox Live game are out of my reach is simply too much to bear. It's also clear that having a failover Xbox 360 isn't a bad idea. I've ordered an Xbox 360 Elite as a replacement so I can also have a bigger disk as well.

My Elite should be here tomorrow. Hopefully it will stay operational until my other 360 is repaired. I'll treat it very gently for the next three weeks just to be sure.

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Monday, July 30

A Wind Blows Through the Big Brother House

Even in these times of Mr. Hankey the Christmas Poo and Fox Television, the original television networks still try to come off all wholesome and decent. Things may have changed, with the occasional fart joke, but generally farting itself is usually not shown and is considered taboo.

So hats off to CBS and Big Brother 8, for their honest and candid depiction of farting. This has to be one of the best, most authentic reality TV moments.


Evel Dick is my new hero for showing all of America a man respectfully farting while in the middle of a conversation, as he would in his own home, without shame.

His technique is so masterful, it warrants further analysis.

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What's been on the Xbox lately

The Darkness

A gimmick game with a very fun gimmick. Basically it's Chronicles of Riddick with the sci-fi prison motif replaced with a supernatural gangster one. Not deep, nor innovative, but you do get demon tentacles that sprout out of your back and eat the hearts of your enemies. The graphics aren't great, and the story is fairly typical video game fare, but it is done competently enough for its brief length. Still, I had a good time with it. I haven't tried the multiplayer, mostly because it's just the usual deathmatch and capture the flag nonsense.

Mad Tracks

Here's a cute, fun racing party game for Xbox Live utterly destroyed by a completely broken lobby, or more correctly, the absence of a lobby. One good patch to this game could redeem it, but the developer made it pretty clear it's not a big priority to fix it. So while this one had a lot of potential, with two packages of downloadable content with more maps and mode, I wouldn't bother.

Catan

Settlers of Catan, the classic board game, arrives on Xbox Live in this close to perfect version. While true Settlers' fans might complain that their favorite expansion pack isn't available, the original game is where it's at anyway. My only minor nit is this is a game that screams out for Xbox Live Vision support, and oddly, it's not there.

Carcassonne

Another great boardgame comes to Xbox Live. While generally a solid implementation, it could benefit from better player tools to help predict final scoring (which always was the hardest part of mastering the game.) The current tools are awkward to use, and buggy (I've crashed twice using them), but hopefully that'll get patched. At least there's Xbox Live Vision support.

Bomberman Live

A solid version of Bomberman, a classic game I had heard about but never played until now. Conny, a veteran from an earlier Bomberman back in the early 90's, gives it a thumbs up. Supports multiple guests on one console, so up to 4 people can share one Xbox Live account to play online (for a total of 8 players in a game.) Clever use of the camera for the after-game summary (the "Gloatcam"), and the ability to customize your Bomberman with outfits is a nice touch. We played for almost 3 hours last night, which is impressive when you realize one game lasts less than 3 minutes typically.

And when we aren't playing board games and party games on Live, we've been spending our time with some old standbys made a little fresh: terrorist hunts on the new Rainbow Six: Vegas maps and getting re-familiar with Chromehounds, which has been patched to adjust game play (twice since we were actively playing.)

Plenty of good stuff to hold us all over until the great games rolling out for the holiday season start hitting the shelves.

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Friday, July 27

Bless This Big Brother House

I don't think I keep it secret that on my cynical days, I'm an atheist, and on my more humble days I'll cop to being agnostic. I do respect other people's religions, as long as they don't try to spill any of it on me, and I do know a few people who are truly deeply spiritual and devote themselves to good works, and I admire them for it.

With that being said, I'd like to say to all of you people competing on Big Brother 8 (or any other reality TV game), that if there were a God, He wouldn't give a shit about whether you win or lose. The outcome of any head-of-household challenges, veto competitions, or elimination voting is not in God's hands. It's in the hands of the producers, maybe, or even your fellow players, or perhaps in your hands. But I'm pretty sure even if the Pope were playing Big Brother, he wouldn't be mistaken in thinking that the result of food competition was God's will.

Going on some reality show and claiming that the Almighty is tuned in and rooting for you, or perhaps should even intervene on your behalf, doesn't make you look spiritual, or even religious, it makes you like a self-centered ass who thinks God is nothing more than a Fairy Godfather who grants wishes to his favorites. Not exactly the deepest spiritual or philosophical model to base your faith upon if you ask me.

Yes, I'm looking at you Amber, and you too Kail. But, I've spoken to the Flying Spaghetti Monster about both of you, and His Noodliness has assured me he'll take care of it so that neither of you win.

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Thursday, July 26

Privacy please

I've helped a couple of friends host blogs, and one of them needed to convert to a private, members only blog. It was pretty clear the right way to do this was to have each user have their own account and password, and ideally, the users could simply register and get approved, minimizing administration time. Unfortunately, this was a Blogger blog being hosted on my own server, and there's just no way to do that without doing a lot of work.

After looking around, it seemed like WordPress would be the best platform to use for a private blog. Even though WordPress doesn't support a private blog model natively, it can be done with just two additional, easy to install plug-ins, without making any template modifications. Here's how I did it.

  1. Install WordPress 2.2.1.
  2. Install the Bouncer plug in. This will add a facility to Wordpress requiring an admin to approve new accounts.
  3. Install the Post Levels plug in.
  4. Make sure you turn on the "Anyone can register" and "Users must be registered and logged in to comment" options under Options - General in WordPress.
Now whenever you post, make sure you set the post level to "0" instead of public to make a post that only your approved members can read. People who aren't logged into your site will only see public posts. People who log in (with an account that you authorized) will see all posts.

This also seems to keep the feeds private too, requiring authentication to get the full feed set, which is what you would want for a private blog.

There was one other thing I discovered in the process if you are trying to migrate from a "new" Google Blogger weblog. I learned that the magic import from WordPress can sometimes spaz out depending on your publishing options. So if your import stops after a certain number of posts, screw around with your archive settings, date header format and template a bit. I can't be more specific, because I did all three (monthly archives, different date header format, and simple blog template) and suddenly the import worked.

I can't really help with other migration issues, since in this case, because the site is going private, we didn't care about maintaining permalinks and such. But I did find some good tips about what to do in that case.

I may just finally get my ass over to WordPress myself one of these days.

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Wednesday, June 27

Where boredom is the excitement

After watching some Ice Road Truckers, it's clear the folks at the History Channel are hoping to strike some extreme blue collar reality TV gold like the Discovery Channel did with "Deadliest Catch."

While Ice Road Truckers is interesting, apparently it's not interesting enough. The producers are always trying to amp up the danger angle to the point of hyperbole. And truth be told, even when there are real risks involved, it's hard to make one guy sitting in a truck cab driving 15 miles an hour for 20 hours over monotonous terrain all that exciting. Even when you keep cutting to the same under-the-ice shot and play the same ice cracking sounds.

A handful of men in a boat out upon an unforgiving arctic sea, braving the elements to hopefully score a good catch of crab is natural drama. A guy in a truck on a road, not so much. Even if it is an ice road, it's really really cold, and there's a lot of snow.

But the good news with this being a History channel show is their relationship with Activision. I can already see the awesome tie-in.

Immerse yourself in the intensity, drama, and danger of the most extreme freight logistics experience on the entire planet!

Put your life on the line as an Ice Road Trucker on a grueling and treacherous 350 mile dash for the cash through the unforgiving Northwest Territory. You will haul tons of equipment and supplies across a desolate white landscape at speeds averaging 15 miles an hour, all while dealing with the constant risk of jackknifing, breakdowns and accidents.

Ice Road Truckers has TrueImmersion technology, allowing no pausing and no in-game saves during the 20 hour run, giving you the full-action experience of an Ice Road Trucker. Also has full support of Xbox 360 Wireless Racing Wheel.

Screenshots from Ice Road Truckers






I hear it is best played if you turn up the air conditioning a lot while you play.

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