in orbit

I mostly talk about video games and the world wide web


Rest Assured, CSS Is Awesome!

Things that highly amuse me include: making the (famous?) CSS Is Awesome mug design in actual CSS:

css is awesome

I Was On CNN The Other Day

After you sit through what I assume will be a ~30 second unskippable ad you can jump forward to 1:50 or so to see me doing computer stuff (or you can watch the entire report if you want). I was actually working on a thing that randomly censored the search results on our site for the day (because SOPA/PIPA are the worst, but you already knew that). Also I didn't know the camera guy was recording me. It's pretty amusing to be the 'guy who is working in the background' on CNN though. I always knew I'd make it!

Pretty exciting, I guess! Also: happy 2012!




This is how you hack, right guys? Right? Yeah? Computer? Mirror, you have made my day.

Spam Central. Population: Me

For a while the cursory spam checking I wrote for this blog back in 2005 (or so) worked, mostly due to the unbridled predictability of comment spammers and at least partially due to the complete obscurity of both this specific blog and the CMS it runs on. In particular I think the way it handled comments before I redesigned it was totally insane and no half-assed spambot parser could figure out what was going on.

But then I redid a bunch of front-end stuff, which included making comments easier to make (though the underlying system remained the same) and apparently that opened the floodgates. Also oddly enough I made an error in the javascript that made it impossible for real people to comment and any spambot that didn't first parse the javascript would have no issues posting. I'm not proud, though in my defense nobody told me and I never comment on my own blog unless it's a reply to someone.

Regardless, the ways of the old have been thrown away and I finally implemented akismet filtering (I had written a simple class for another project so I was mostly able to drop it in). So hopefully that is that. Oh and I also fixed that javascript error so if you want to leave a comment you totally can. I swear.

Gawking, Part II

As a brief follow-up to my critique of Gawker network's design I feel that I also ought to critique the thing I am perhaps more qualified to; namely the tech behind it all.

Along with Twitter (specifically 'new Twitter') and I'm told Facebook (I don't use it enough to really comment) Gawker has adopted the hash-bang syntax (see the #! in their URL? hash-bang) which basically lets Javascript manage the entire site. Any web developer worth his salt can obviously attest to how much of a good idea this notion is. Personally I consider myself to be a front-end developer (with a great degree of back-end experience) and even as a big fan of Javascript and all it's capabilities I would never entrust it to such a task. That would be like entrusting HTML to be consistent between Safari and IE6.

Others have covered the issue in greater detail than I, but suffice to say the type of framework that depends entirely on Javascript is not one I would prefer to depend on myself. The hash-bang syntax is a hack at best, and a potential disaster worst. When your single point of failure is Javascript of all things you may be in for a world of pain. Go ahead, disable JS and take a look at or new Twitter and compare it to any other site. Even JS-heavy sites like Google News work with it disabled. I can access an HTML-only version of GMail, a web app that doesn't even need to follow web conventions. It's something to think about.

Hopefully hash-bang does not become some kind of new standard, but you never can tell with these things. In the end leaving display of your site's content up to the client is a poor decision, at best. We'll see how things pan out in that regard. I won't actually get upset until the New York Times web site starts to use it.



While the Gawker Media collection of sites have never really been my cup of tea for any number of reasons (which I won't get into) you really can't deny the popularity of their network in their respective industries. If you want some video game news out there you need to get it up on Kotaku. If you want the world to know about your new unreleased iPhone, leave it in a bar so Gizmodo can buy it off some guy. If you're a celebrity and want your inner-most secrets leaked to the public then a good bet is to contact someone at Gawker. I'm starting to get catty so I'll just move on, but you get the idea.

For once the news of the day for was not the content of one of these sites but rather how it is presented. Let me get this out of the way first: the new design, aesthetically, is a huge improvement over the old design. The old design was fairly hideous and wasted a lot of space. About the only things it did well were present a ton of the site's most recent content and keep some big-ticket articles of note up at the top. But now, out with the old, in with the new. The new Gawker sites look like a professionally designed iPad app. In fact that's the thing that most people seem to think of first when they see it, which was obviously the intended reaction.

That itself isn't bad, but sadly the site not only looks like an iPad app but seems to function as if it was intended to be one. This fact is made highly unfortunate due to the site being broken in mobile Safari. I don't have an iPad to test it in myself but it's more or less unusable on my iPhone, and I haven't heard much better from iPad owners.

Continue reading...


The Latest and Greatest

After a roughly two day hiatus this blog is back and (possibly) better than ever. That's actually partially a lie since for it to be better than ever I would have to get rid of this CMS (written in my foolish youth) but that's a project for another time.

Continue reading...


Three Stories

You are alone. Or at least it seems that way at first glance. In front of you are grassy hills spattered with trees, and behind them lie some larger mountains and some odd looking stone structures. You turn around and see sand and a vast body of water. Is it an ocean or just a large lake? Difficult to say. You can see some islands off in the distance but not much else. You take in your surroundings and gradually realize that you're not actually alone. Up on the hills appear to be a few cows and a pig. They don't seem to be doing much, but it's nice to know living things inhabit this place.

Okay, now what? Better look around, right? Seems logical. You head towards the hills and mountains. You discover hidden alcoves and shallow caves. You meet more cows and pigs and even some sheep and ducks. What exactly is this place? You keep wandering and eventually stumble onto a much deeper cave. It's dark and scary inside. You can't even venture too far in before it becomes impossible to navigate in the dark. You turn around and head back to the outside. The sun is setting. That makes you nervous, though you're not sure why. Maybe you should take up refuge in this cave? That thought doesn't sit well with you, plus the cave is too dark anyway. Instead you dig up some dirt with your bare hands, just enough to make a small makeshift house in the side of a mountain. You leave only an opening big enough to walk out of.

Continue reading...


Chrome: Faster Than A Potato

I just kind of enjoy the Chrome ads in general:


CSS3: I Should Not Be

After hearing about it and knowing what it does and even seeing a few examples my curiosity finally got the better of me and I decided to mess around with some CSS3 stuff. For those of you who may be less web developer-y, it's just CSS but with some added wackiness that actually goes beyond just simple styling and into crazy territory. Of course it also goes into browser support territory and ends up being woefully inconsistent among most browsers (shocking, I kn0w), so it's ultimately useless right now unless you want to force people to use Chrome or Safari (which is not recommended).

Clicking 'Read More' will get you some quickly done examples of a couple of CSS3 properties, including some Webkit specific animation stuff. So if you want the full effect I recommend you read this post in Chrome or Safari or your Webkit nightly build of choice. Firefox 3.5 will work for some, but not all, and Internet Explorer will fail in every way. See how annoying that was?

Continue reading...


Pretty Awesome eXpo

I have a fairly substantial write-up coming where I outline all the totally sweet (and totally lame) games I played or watched someone play at PAX, but it turns out there are an asston of them and it takes a long time to write about an asston of games. Asston, by the way, is a real unit of measurement. I think it's British.

At any rate, I have had some thoughts about PAX kicking around, and after reading both Simon Carless' analysis on why PAX works and Steve Gaynor's blog post about game experience (which isn't related to PAX at all, but I think it applies) I feel I can pretty well put it into words, though perhaps only words that have already been spoken by those two.

Having never attended PAX before, I have to say I really enjoyed it. At the surface PAX is a pretty huge convention (2009's being the biggest yet), which would quickly bring up comparisons to E3 or San Diego Comic-Con (neither of which I have ever attended, though I know a lot about both). If you look at it from afar, and this is probably true for non-gamers, PAX is similar. A huge convention about video games and other geekery. Granted Comic-Con is spread out over a number of other things, but E3 seems like it would share a lot of similarities with PAX. This is not the case however.

I've heard PAX described as 'a large convention with a small convention feel' and that is pretty much the most accurate of a description you will get. Somehow a huge amalgam of gamers, both video and tabletop, have gathered in Seattle for one weekend solely due to promises of sweet games, cool events and of course game-related junk (free or otherwise). It's entirely a consumer show, catering to the people who, at the end of the day, make the video game industry run. Gamers. It's a pretty novel idea.

And PAX seems to be very genuine, which I think is the key to everything. There are areas where you can just go play games (PC, console, tabletop) if you don't want to take in any presentations or wait in any lines. You can preview some anticipated titles, or just goof around with friends. Or if you really want you can sit on a beanbag chair and play DS all day, because there are two or three hallways filled with the things. Can you imagine that happening at E3?

It's really something special to see it, really. Just tons and tons of people who love games and are there to enjoy themselves. It's something special, and I have to say in spite of what I thought, I really enjoyed myself. Pretty awesome.

Touch A Spider

The iPhone as the future of portable gaming is a notion that's never really sat well with me. For one, when a device intended first to be a phone/media player/web browser gets shoehorned into being a gaming device after the fact it makes me a bit suspicious. Apple clearly designed the iPhone with ease of use in mind, but the ease of use that comes with things like web browsing, Google maps, email and various other applications used for day-to-day tasks doesn't necessarily translate to games.

The iPhone's most prominent feature is of course the touch screen. While the Nintendo DS also possesses such a feature, it also contains a standard set of buttons. The best DS games seem to be ones that utilize one or the other, with many mediocre games ending up as a painful mishmash of ideas. You get the sense the developer of these games really wanted to use the touch screen but perhaps didn't know the proper way to integrate it into their game.

So now the iPhone comes onto the scene without any buttons at all. This also creates the interesting issue for seasoned gamers of there being no feedback whatsoever. I've seen a number of games devote a portion of the screen to being a controller, however I've always felt this a sloppy implementation. Just touching a bit of the screen to shoot or move forward or any other action feels almost artificial. Likewise I feel using the iPhone's tilt mechanisms for almost anything feels clumsy and uninviting, plus you can end up looking pretty goofy if you play it in public.

So when presented with making a game for this device you end up with a lot of strange ports of games that perhaps shouldn't be on any portable, nevermind the iPhone in specific. First-person games like Wolfenstein 3D or Duke Nukem 3D or even Prey feel clumsy and unintuitive (Wolf3D, I would say has the best possible control implementation and still feels wrong). On the flip side there are also excellent implementations of the touch screen for some ports. SimCity and Civilization Revolution are excellent iPhone games since with both games the translation of mouse (or cursor) to finger is nearly 1:1.

The game I initially wanted to talk about before going on this tangent was Spider: The Secret of Bryce Manor, which utilizes the touch screen wonderfully. The premise of the game is pretty simple, you're a spider and you need to catch bugs. Most of them (with one exception) need to be caught in a web, which you can make with three or more strands of silk shaped into a triangle or any other closed shape. Different bugs have different behaviors and require different tactics to catch. Some need to be herded, some need to be tackled, and others just require some other level of prediction or trickery to catch. The gameplay is divided into levels consisting of a single area, each generally taking around five minutes to complete, making it perfect as a pick up and play type of game.

The real genius of the game, however, is the implementation of the controls. Touching to the right of the spider makes him move right, to the left he moves left. No clumsy pseudo-buttons or tilting needed. To make him jump you simply flick him in the direction you want him to go. Since he sticks to almost every surface and can jump quite far you generally don't need to worry about missed jumps or falling into a hole or anything. There's nothing at all that can cause instant death and, more importantly, nothing to cause instant frustration.

The web building mechanics are likewise intuitive and just plain fun to make. Some areas may require a bit more precision to form a proper web, especially later in the game, but there's nothing that I would consider an extreme difficulty curve. The most important aspect of the game is that in every way it's enjoyable to play. Once you beat the main adventure mode you unlock three additional game modes, which adds a pretty nice level of replayability to the game.

So there you go, I'm practically gushing over an iPhone game. Who would have thought? At $2.99 the game is a steal (iTunes link) and certainly worth picking up if you have a long trip coming up, or really even if you just want a cool game to play.

Holy Crap Stuff

If I may take a moment to stop talking about web browsers and video games (and analytics stats), I just need to go over the insanely hectic schedule that is my life over the next month and change. Realistically I'm not doing this for any other reason than to sort of put my thoughts into some tangible form that doesn't involve me thinking "HOLY FUCK" every 30 seconds. So I don't really need any sympathy (though I will accept it if you have any to give I suppose) and I'm not trying to weirdly impress anyone, though I can't imagine why anyone would think that since the aforementioned schedule involves two very nerdy conventions. Regardless!

So at current moment it is August 4th. The first thing on my list is Quakecon, which I am going to for the second time with the first one being in 2007. I mostly go to hang out with people from Game Fly and drink a lot, and it was pretty enjoyable (if not nerdy) in 2007. Anyway that's August 13 - August 16. The week I come back will likely be a very busy week at work, and the following weekend, August 22 - 23 will be spent packing because I am moving into a new apartment roughly four blocks away. The following weekend, August 29 - 20 is the weekend I am able to move into our new place. For a period of around a week I will have two apartments as the move out date of the current place is September 4 - 6. However this weekend is also the weekend of PAX, which I am attending for the first time ever (and mooching a hotel room, courtesy 2K Games) for some reason. And then when PAX ends I will be flying out to New York for a week to attend Elizabeth's big sister's wedding (which is actually taking place outside of Philly, but that's not entirely relevant).

Anyway now that I've laid all that out it doesn't seem that bad, which is exactly how I wanted to feel about all of this! Anyway that was uninteresting and blog-tastic so I will try and have something more interesting next time.

Hot Hammerhead Sister

I'm not normally one to post about search referrals, but when they're amusing, they're amusing, so what can you do? It also lets you see how few people get here via web searches, but whatever I never claimed to be popular:

KeywordsVisits% visits
hammerhead sharks736.84%
hot sister210.53%
canadian bills joke15.26%

Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0;)

I happen to have IE6 installed at work for CSS/Javascript testing purposes and also perhaps to make my life somewhat bizarre; I often bring my MacBook into work so I can test stuff in IE8. Word on the street today was that YouTube is dropping IE6 support. Indeed:

The final nail in the coffin? One can only hope. I've been dreaming of this day for almost a decade I think.

Blueberry Garden

At the surface Erik Svedäng's Blueberry Garden doesn't appear to be much. As far as games go, it's fairly stripped down. It comes across as a platformer, though one seemingly without a clear goal. the world is mostly white, with plants and random animals adding some color to the bleak world. Unlike a regular 2D platformer, however, your goal is not to move from left to right to get to the finish, but rather to explore and find out what your goal is.

The goal itself becomes fairly evident after your first playthrough which will almost certainly end with your demise. Find various large objects such as apples, pencils and top hats hanging around the world and stack them. Touching one of these objects (or standing next to it) will cause it (and yourself) to teleport to the stacking point. The higher your stack the more you can explore by jumping or flying over the game's geography. Some items are easy to collect; just walk over to them. Some take a bit of thinking to get to.

There first 'mission' of the game is to turn off a large faucet that is flooding the world. There's a water level to the entire thing and after a certain amount of time the water will begin to rise. Our player cannot survive underwater unaided for very long, so once the water raises above all the land (or your stack) the game sadly ends.

Helping you out during the game are various kinds of fruit. There are red berries of some sort, something resembling onions (though they grow on trees), some kind of star-shaped fruit and of course blueberries. Red berries and onions alter the terrain when you eat them. So the area you happen to be standing by can be warped by eating one. This adds an interesting element to the game since stacked items are positioned in the stack in the same position they are collected in. So if you have a pencil laying on its side it will appear that way in the stack, however if you tilt it 45 degrees by utilizing berries then it will appear in the stack tilted 45 degrees as well. Using this method it's possible to create a taller stack with fewer items.

The game's soundtrack, a simple, almost somber piano tune, adds immensely to the atmosphere of the game. Often kicking in when you leap from your stack and fly across the level, the sparseness of the world combined with the music is something of an experience. It's a very 'indie' experience that some may not notice or care for, but it made the game extremely relaxing and enjoyable for me.

At a meager five dollars on Steam (sorry non-Windows users, it's an XNA game), Blueberry Garden is certainly not a major purchase. Once you figure it out there's not much more to the gameplay (I have played it for a total of 1.7 hours according to Steam) but its mechanics are simple enough, and its atmosphere interesting enough that you may find yourself replaying it even after you've completed it.

E3 Wrapup

I didn't update yesterday because nothing really happened at E3 (nothing I really noticed anyway) so now I'm mostly just poking around and seeing the stuff I missed.

One intriguing thing I found was a little DS game called Scribblenauts which is an amazing looking game that almost looks too good to be true. That trailer will explain it better than I could (especially the last few minutes where they show off sandbox mode) but essentially you type in the name of an item and it's given to you and used to solve puzzles or beat levels. It's really intuitive and inventive and if it works as advertised (and why wouldn't it, that was a live game demo) it could be pretty entertaining.

This interview on IGN with Shigeru Miyamoto also sheds a small amount of light on the next Zelda game for the Wii which hasn't been formerly announced but is clearly in the works. Miyamoto notes that the concept art of Link shows him much older than he's ever appeared in a game before and without a sword. What that means Miyamoto obviously won't say just yet, but apparently it's of at least some significance. The interview also touches briefly on Pikmin 3, which appears to still be early in production.

Update: Nintendo has released the image of Link. He's not as old as I was expecting, but certainly at least as old as he was in Twilight Princess. And of course the missing sword is evident.

Alan Wake, a game most people never thought they'd see, also has some intriguing gameplay. I'm not entirely sure what to think of it just yet, but that gameplay footage was enough to stick with me. Horror games generally tread a thin line between terrible and good, and Alan Wake looks like it might actually come out on the good side. The jury is still out of course, but as of right now it looks pretty spooky and has a pretty interesting light/dark thing going on. I could probably do without the voiceovers by Wake though. They're not quite noir enough so they mostly come across as hokey instead of awesome ala Max Payne. Also the awkward shots of the guy playing the game in this footage are weird, but just ignore that I guess.

I also want to talk about Microsoft's Project Natal and Sony's motion tracking thing, but I will probably make a longer update about that and I need to collect my thoughts a bit. At any rate, that's more or less all my random and mostly unedited E3 thoughts, so everyone who reads this (all four people maybe?) is now safe!

E3 Day 2 Impressions

With the first party press conferences all wrapped up I think most of the big announcements and 'hey, remember us?'s should be out of the way at this point. A lot of anticipated games seem like they are not going to be with us until 2010, but that's cool I guess. More time to save money or something. The big press event today was Konami, who showed off their new set of MGS games which had already been shown at Sony and Microsoft's events. Peace Walker for PSP, Metal Gear Rising for 360/PS3/PC, which is I believe the first simultaneous multi-platform Metal Gear game (though I think the first game or two had a PC release). I'm kind of interested in Peace Walker, just because I like to actually use my PSP once in a while. Not a requirement, but I've only played like three games on it.

Konami's biggest announcement was a new Castlevania game, Lord of Shadows. First time a Castlevania has been on a non-portable in a decent while. Kojima doesn't seem to be as involved with it as Konami wants people to think as they attempted to play up his involvement with the project quite a bit, perhaps to soften the fact that the studio making it also produced Clive Barker's Jericho (sorry for linking to metacritic, but it does prove the point I wanted to make).

Another game that's actually sort of come onto my radar in the past couple of days is The Beatles: Rock Band of which I basically said I was sick of plastic guitar rhythm games. However, the opening cinematic is extremely cool (done by the same guy who animates everything for Gorillaz, as well as opening titles in various movies) and the gameplay trailer paints an interesting picture of the band's extremely varied career and all its famous stages. Also it's done by Harmonix, who are generally the best at this stuff, so it will probably end up being pretty cool, even if you're not a huge Beatles fan.

The new Aliens vs. Predator trailer (for a game, not a movie) is also pretty exciting. I'm actually surprised there weren't more games after the two (terrible) movies were released, but perhaps that's a good thing since this game won't have to be shoveled out to coincide with a movie release. At the very least it looks nice. Hopefully they take a page from the first two AvP games.

Finally, I keep harping on it, but Left 4 Dead 2 continues to polarize nerds across the world. I've decided that it's going to be awesome and I'll pay $50 for it and love it, though sadly most people seem to feel Valve will drop all support for L4D after its release and that they are owed more content. Gamasutra and Shacknews have interviews with Tom Leonard (L4D lead) and Doug Lombardi (Valve's marketing VP) respectively that seem to state at least somewhat otherwise. A big influx of potential L4D addon content is probably not coming, but there seem to be at least some plans in the work for supporting or integrating L4D and L4D2. Valve won't say what just yet of course, but with the game already looming five months away, I suspect we'll learn more fairly soon.

And as if that wasn't enough, Peter Molyneux is now creative director of Microsoft Game Studios Europe. Yep.

E3 Day 1 Impressions, Sony Town

Since I missed the Sony press conference I guess I'll watch it now and tell you what I think. Weird! It's like a delayed live feed or something. It's here on Game Spot if you want to check it out. The intro is ridiculously long. Was this actually in the thing or was it added after? I see a pink PSP, did that exist before this? Whatever! This crap is two hours long, I am probably not going to watch it all. Skip to 12:00 for Uncharted 2 footage.

Uncharted 2 - I never knew much about the first one, not having a PS3, bit this one looks pretty damned awesome, though the terrible resolution of this video kind of ruins it. Either way, action-platformer sounds pretty awesome. Like Tomb Raider but without boobies! Well, like the non-crappy Tomb Raiders. If I had a PS3 I'd probably buy this.

MAG - The concept of 256 players on a battlefield sounds cool. It looks pretty overwhelming but is certainly a cool concept. Battlefield 1942 comes to mind, and that generally had around 50 players to get a suitably epic feel. The concept of having a ton of players seems to be the game's main draw, however, and it doesn't look to do anything overly interesting beyond that. Also I question how well the game will work if it potentially requires that many players, since people on the internet are unreliable jerks. We'll see I guess.

PSP Go - Not a game of course, but a digital media only PSP. It looks pretty cool, with a crazy slide out controller. I applaud Sony for building a gaming machine without any tangible media, since it would essentially be ignoring retail which is a huge thing to do. The PSP 3000 of course still exists and won't go away, so I suppose this is looked at as another option. Who knows how well it will do, but the smart move to put a way to access PSN from a PC was the obvious move to not have it fail. I'm rooting for it, though I'm not sure I'll be buying one (I already have an original PSP).

Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker - PSP Metal Gear I guess. The trailer didn't offer up too much, but it looks like it could be cool. Konami is certainly whoring the shit out of Metal Gear after years of Playstation exclusives though. One game every two or three years for a long time and now like three simultaneously on different platforms. Crazy.

Continue reading...


E3 Day 1 Impressions, Nintendo Edition

Nintendo and Sony had their press conferences today. I missed Sony's entirely but I watched the last half hour or so of Nintendo's. As expected, some boring stuff, but also some cool stuff.

New Super Mario Bros. Wii - I can't find anything to dislike here. A new Mario 2D platformer? On the Wii? Awesome! The co-op stuff sounds interesting as well.

Wii Fit Plus - Yeah I'll pass.

Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story - Crap, more awesome Mario games? Following on the heels of Superstar Saga (which I enjoyed but not enough to complete) and Partners in Time (which I loved), this one apparently takes place, uh, inside Bowser? I saw some videos for the Japanese version of this a while back and it looked pretty great (you also get to play as Bowser), so I'm excited.

WarioWare DIY - I never really got into the WarioWare games, and this sounds mostly like more of the same but with the added 'make your own' aspect, which could be cool I guess. I'm sure it'll be fun (the series is a pretty big seller for Nintendo) but I can't really make myself care.

Golden Sun DS - While I'm not generally an RPG fan, I did play a decent amount of the original Golden Sun (on GBA) and it was enjoyable until I just gave up. I'm glad to see they're revisiting the franchise, but I doubt I'll pick it up. RPGs scare me.

Mario vs. Donkey Kong: The Minis March Again - This is actually MvDK 3, with the first one being a kind of obscure GBA game that was a sort of puzzle solving platformer and the second one being very akin to lemmings. I loved the first, and enjoyed the second but found myself getting bored after playing it for a while. This is also on DSiWare, which is intriguing. I don't have a DSi either, so I guess even if I was super enthused about it I would still need to pick up a new DS (again).

DSi Facebook Integration - I'm sure this would be cool if I used Facebook more than I do (which is barely at all).

COP: The Recruit - I don't know much about this except it's a third person action game for DS kind of like GTA. Who knows? It could be cool I guess.

Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days - Hey, I don't care! What does the name mean though? Kingdom Hearts 179 Days? Oh well.

Wii Sports Resort - I want to say I don't care, but it might actually be kind of cool. At least for parties and stuff? No? Well screw you.

Wii Vitality Sensor - Uh, what? Pulse monitor? This is where I almost started to lose faith in Nintendo. I am not ashamed to admit that.

Super Mario Galaxy 2 - Awwwww yeah. I loved the shit out of Mario Galaxy, and this looks like more of the same awesome (hopefully with less swimming). I will confess that I switched browsers during this part so when I started watching again I missed that it was SMG2 and I kept wondering why they were showing clips from the first game. It's similar, though that's not a bad thing.

Metroid: Other M - This was a pretty good way to end the conference. Brawler-style Metroid game (with 3rd and 1st person stuff) made by Team Ninja? Pretty awesome. I still need to play a Ninja Gaiden game, but I'm pretty excited for this just because those games are so popular. Hopefully it'll be awesome!

E3 Day 0 Impressions, Part 2

Since more stuff popped up, why the hell not?

Left 4 Dead 2 (Update) - Rock Paper Shotgun has a preview up and it sheds some light on the fairly surprising game. Namely that it seems to be L4D but better, but a good amount. Bigger maps, more interesting (and larger) environments, a better AI director, more types of common and special infected and some kind of crazy backstory for each character.

I almost get the feeling that Valve wanted to put all this stuff into L4D but it was just out of the project's scope. Wedging backstories and everything else into the existing game might have just been too difficult. I'm potentially making excuses now, but I think the game will have enough content to warrant being a second game. I can't even really pinpoint what makes L4D2 seem so offensive. Perhaps it's Valve's tendency to release free content-heavy updates for many of their products months or even years after their release. All this content seems like it should have been an update for the full game? Is that really what it is? Are we somehow self- entitled to all this glorious free content? Why don't we complain about yearly Call of Duty games in the same way? Because Activision never did what Valve did? If it had been called an expansion pack would that make it better?

I don't have an answer to any of these questions, by the way, just something to puzzle over.

Singularity - In the works by Raven Software, this game has piqued my interest just due to the time/physics control gimmick. Obviously a game with a feature so central as Singularity's manipulation of time space needs to be careful not to become tired and gimmicky (as Prey can attest) or overstay its welcome. Raven has a tendency to make technically and artistically sound games that somehow lack a soul, however, which could be a problem. I'm very curious, but I feel like it could go either way.

Red Steel 2 - Didn't play the first one in spite of it being the "number one 3rd party Wii launch title" (with it's major competition being Monkey Ball and Excite Truck) though reviews pointed to it being overwhelmingly mediocre. I'm not excited about the second one, and the trailer wasn't very impressive. I'll remain that way until someone tells me otherwise.

Splinter Cell: Conviction - I never really got into the Splinter Cell series (though I'm pretty sure I'd enjoy it) but this game doesn't really look like Splinter Cell. Aren't those stealth games? I mean, using a silenced pistol is stealth and all, but falling into a room via an air duct and killing four dudes doesn't seem very subtle. Sam Fisher is an angry old man now I guess.

No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle - Fuck yes! I already knew about this game of course, but seeing the trailer is also good. Gameplay looks like more of the same, which is certainly a good thing. Very much looking forward to it. The brief glimpses of boss fights in the trailer make it look like they are at least attempting to make up new, crazy boss fights as well. Game of show!

I think that's it for today.

E3 Day 0 Impressions

With working on launching a crazy E3 announcement myself (though that was to do with the web site and not the game itself; that part I leave to the professionals) coupled with an unfortunately timed Paypal incident that broke a number of orders, I didn't actually get to witness what E3, day 1, had to offer until 4:30pm Pacific time. Since I finally have a short break to collect my thoughts and watch a few videos, I thought I'd randomly share what I have to say about these announcements. This is quite a lot to take in. I'll go in order.

Borderlands - First time I've seen this game in motion. I wasn't sure what I thought about the new renderer, but in stills it looked pretty nice. In motion it's somewhat less impressive. It almost seems like a game that was built to look like a standard shooter but had the renderer changed for no real specific reason. Could be fun though, we'll see. Hopefully E3 has some more footage for us.

Continue reading...


To Boldly Go

In spite of being a fairly large nerd, I've never really been into Star Trek. The original series was of course before my time and the first film I actually recall releasing was The Undiscovered Country, which is the final one set in the original series universe. That was in 1991 when I was ten years old, and I believe I only recall watching it on HBO. The only scene I can recall is Captain Kirk kicking an alien in the knees, only to discover that he's kicked the poor fellow in his genitalia.

Aside from that my exposure to the original series is pretty minimal. I've seen scenes from multiple episodes, but I don't believe I've ever sat down and watched one in its entirety. I've avoided all the films with the exception of a few scenes from The Wrath of Kahn and The Voyage Home. In fact the only Star Trek film I've actually seen all the way through was First Contact and that's only because my college broadcasted it on the university-only movie channel (which appeared to just be someone showing DVDs and was apparently not legal since they stopped showing them in my senior year and just gave us HBO). I've seen a number of episodes of The Next Generation since I was fairly into it when I was younger, though even then I think I was watching reruns.

Point being that I have no real attachment to Star Trek as a franchise. When I heard J.J. Abrams was directing a series reboot I admit I was intrigued since I will apparently watch anything he is involved in (except Alias somehow, though saw an episode of Felicity once) but I didn't really put much thought into it beyond the initial intrigue.

So anyway, after an impressive trailer and a massive amount of internet-based hype, I decided it was time to break my Star Trek motion picture cherry, so to speak. Actually the trailer was enough to make me want to see it because it ended up looking awesome instead of boring, which I think is an important quality for any movie to have. The internet-based hype was an added bonus to get me to see it sooner and avoid being spoiled (spoiler: I was minorly spoiled a couple of times anyway).

Continue reading...


Game Publisher Consistency

Dave Perry recently posted some game review scoring stats gleaned by an independent source in his blog. The list of 20 publisher (the full, unreleased list contains many more) shows the top and bottom 10 publishers based on their games' Metacritic scores which are of course a weighted average of review scores from various sites.

The results are interesting for a variety of reasons. First off the top score (held by Rockstar) is 19. The system works by awarding positive, negative or zero points based on review scores. In R*'s case they have 23 titles in Metacritic. Six of them are worth 2 points, ten worth 1 point each and three of those points are canceled out by three D-rated games (worth -1). If you're wondering why that only adds up to 19 games it's because four of them simply don't count for or against the score. This seems off to me, but we'll just run with it for now.

Regardless, R* has the top score clocking in at a whopping 19 points. The bottom score is held by Ubisoft with an impressive(ly depressing?) -148 points. For those of you keeping track that puts the median score around -65, which means that the vast majority of video games are shit.

My second issue with the data is how it doesn't quite seem 'right'. For instance look at the #3 and #4 ranked publishers. Blizzard, highly commended for their addictive, polished and downright beautiful games, has a score of 11. Microsoft comes very close to Bilzzard with 10 points. However looking only slightly deeper we see the apparent flaws in this system. Blizzard's 11 points come from a meager sevem titles, four for 2 points, three for 1 point each. Blizzard has zero games that didn't count or counted for negative points, which would seem to mean they put out only a few games (less than one per year) but those games are of very high quality. Conversely Microsoft's 10 points comes from a set of 110 games. They published 103 more games than Blizzard since 2000 but also earned one fewer point. So it would seem the distribution of points among Microsoft's games is nowhere near as good as Blizzard's. Indeed if you look at the breakdown the majority of MS published games fall in B-range with the rest mostly distributed below B and only eight (7% of total) getting an A score.

A perhaps more accurate gauge of how consistent a publisher is would be to look at the average score per game, and indeed this paints a much different picture of the stats:

PublisherAvg. Score
2D Boy2.00

This places Microsoft much lower than Blizzard by quite a bit. In fact MS's per-game average is below 0.1, as is Nintendo's (which is even lower). This is more or less intuitive based on the number of titles each publisher puts their name on. There are a bunch of AAA titles (Gears of War, Halo etc for MS, Mario Galaxy, Twilight Princess et al for Nintendo) that bring up the overall score enough that the publisher remains consistent in the eyes of the calculation.

Keep in mind that the maximum possible average (obtained by 2D Boy) is 2.0, so the fact that Blizzard is hovering near 1.6 is very impressive. Speaking of 2D Boy, it's also worth noting that they should probably be dropped from the list entirely because their publishing efforts consist of two titles; the PC and Wii versions of World of Goo. Both of those scored very well but with such a small sample consisting of what is realistically only a single game doesn't seem to be statisically relevant.

And so, if you were looking for the most consistent publisher in video games that would be Blizzard, as one might expect. However I'd hesitate to suggest these stats, or even Metacritic in general would be a good gauge of much of anything. Essentially throwing away an entire set of scores for each publisher (the C-level games) as well as not weighting anything in any significant way based on the volume of games makes it suspect. However I'm sure there is some useful info to be gleaned from Metacritic, though I'm not going to hold my breath thanks to arbitrary score scales or bizarre scoring systems that many game review sites use. All that we cab really gather from this data is that there are a lot of games out there and the majority of them are not very good, and I confess I already knew that before we started. Video games!

Safari 4 Web 2.0 Beta Podcast Blogosphere

In an effort to remain consistent, I'm going to write a quick update on the release of Safari 4, or rather Safari 4's Beta, as seems to be the new software custom.

Weirdly enough a good portion of Safari 4's UI seems to have taken a page from Chrome, though it's obviously stylized to Apple's standard (which is perhaps more appealing than Chrome's look). In fact the layout of the browser is almost an exact mirror of Chrome's, with a very minimalistic navigation bar containing front/back buttons, the URL bar and two settings buttons. Safari opts to have the refresh/stop button in the URL bar similar to the iPhone version of Safari whereas Chrome places is next to the back/forward buttons. The tabs in both browsers are at the top of the application in lieu the standard windows application header.

Also in what is perhaps an answer to numerous complaints, the tabs in Safari, at least when using the Windows Classic theme, utilize the color scheme and look of Windows rather than duplicating what the program looks like on the Mac.

Also, in keeping with my update during Chrome's release the Javascript engine, a very important feature of any browser, has been reworked.

Running the same speed test (which, again, is by no means any sort of official benchmark) I found the old version of Safari I had (3.2) took 300ms to run. The new version has improved upon that quite a bit as it completed the test in a scant 64ms. For reference sake, Chrome is still much faster (version runs it in 28ms) and Firefox 3.0.6 is much slower (clocking in at 258ms).

Other interesting aspects of Safari 4 are nice, but largely cosmetic. Apple's take on Chrome's 'Most visited' page speaks volumes about the two companies. While Google's version is simple and utilitarian, Apple's accomplishes the same thing with a good degree of style thanks to some simple graphical additions. Your 'Top Sites' are displayed as if on a curved surface, complete with a reflection. It's gratuitous and perhaps unnecessary, but looking at it next to Chrome's simple, flat version is almost jarring.

Also not to be outdone, Safari implements its own version of iTunes' coverflow for the browser history and bookmarks. Instead of a simple link you get a bunch of screenshots that you can flip through. I'm not entirely sure what I think about that as it seems mostly unnecessary for such a thing to exist, but it doesn't really hinder the browser, and you can still use the bookmark list if you like (you can even shrink the coverflow graphics so you can't see them any more).

Mostly I'm excited about the Javascript thing though. I'm really looking forward to see what happens with Firefox 3.1 since it seems they've now stumbled their way to third place in that regard.

Tweet This

Yo bro, I heard you like to blog so I put a blog in your blog so you can blog while you blog.

Fuck. Anyway I finally made a Twitter account. Twitter is stupid but also oddly fun. I take back whatever I said about it. I'll probably add it to the sidebar some day too. It's a blog within a blog!

Internet Site One

With the inauguration of Barack Obama comes the most immediate result of his presidency, the White House web site. It's interesting because Obama is really the first technically inclined president. The first we've had who has embraced the digital age. Clinton was 46 when he was elected in 1992, back when the internet was very, very young. didn't actually launch until 1994 and was sparse at best. One or two (very 90s) redesigns followed including probably the most memorable, at least to me, though I couldn't tell you why.

George W. Bush was elected in the year 2000 and sworn in in January of 2001. Shortly after a horrible thing was put up to replace the minimalist Clinton-era site, though it was improved upon from time to time.

After the September 11, 2001 attacks a newer version was put up, though is missing anything between July and September of 2001, so it may have gone up sooner. That version, while not overly great by today's standards, was reasonable for 2001. Tabular layout, half-assed use of CSS and your old friend Verdana.

The 2001 version of the site received some tweaks during its tenure as First Web Site, but mostly kept the same look in a post-9/11 world. The last version I linked to remained the president's site through his 2004 reelection and up until early 2007 when a new version was put up. This new one, although better looking, was mostly just a restyling of the previous version. It was slightly wider but still had a tabular layout, which while acceptable in 2001 was a crime in 2007.

And now we have the current site, which was put up at almost the very moment the clock struck noon in Washington (elected presidents become president at noon on the third Tuesday of January regardless of whether or not they take the oath, which is mainly a formality). So now we have a site that looks a lot like Barack, probably because it was designed by the same guy. There's a news ticker/slideshow at the top with crossfades, lots of little details and the site is remarkably standards compliant (stupid image borders). Also I should mention, since I've been harping on it, that the layout is entirely CSS driven. There is a single table but it's used to keep a form in line (which isn't perfect, but I can accept it). It's actually a nice looking, competent, well designed government web site, which is saying something since there are some pretty terrible ones out there. Okay that last one I mainly threw in because the URL is hilarious (and horrifying).

At any rate, while I may not be overly excited to finally have the word 'blog' be associated with the President of the United States, I think Obama's technical initiatives as well as him being the first president to utilize things like 'computers' and 'e-mail' at least shows some signs of hope for the future. Does it mean that the government will finally stop being baffled by technological wonders such as MP3 players and video games? Probably not immediately, but the chances of congress understanding things like DRM and government-sanctioned censorship of violent games and why they may not necessarily be the best thing for the American people may not be as far away as I once thought.

So how about that? A little hope from a simple web page. Promises as advertised. Let's see what else this new guy can do.

Thumbs Up Something, or

For those who listen to the 'cast of the Idle Thumbs variety, they've finally put up their Games of the Year, deftly named the in a flash of brilliance. Or grossness. Anyway the picks by Chris, Nick and Jake are somewhat expected if you keep up with the podcast, so I suggest the reader GOTYs for some insightful, hilarious and unconventional picks.

Ranging from GTA4 to Mega Man 9 to Imagine Party Babyz the list has it all! Also a couple of my own hastily written reviews can be seen on pages 2, 4 and 5, written as such since I thought they were casting a GOTY pod (Jake works the same place I do, so I usually know when he's leaving to record one) and I wrote my email in about 15 minutes. They weren't doing that at all though, so I could have maybe written something more readable and with less use of the word 'retarded'.

I'd like to have my own list of sweet 2008 games on this blog thingy like I did last year, but I haven't played some of the games I feel I'd want to add to the list, so if I manage to finish them up in the next month I might do that, but otherwise just take the list since it's pretty good. Except for Space Giraffe. Fuck that game.

I'm Dreaming of a White Elephant

Hey it's the yearly Shacknews White Elephant thingy where a bunch of nerds on the internet give another nerd something hilarious or possibly something totally useless! Either way it's kind of fun. Sadly I have been slacking on my gift giving this year (though I plan to remedy that soon) but I weirdly enough received mine from someone I actually know in real life. How crazy is that? Anyway he sent me some items which may or may not include a large, pink dildo and some tampons. Kind of takes the meaning of 'better to give than receive' to a whole other level.

What's Happening 2: The Happening

So for those who may not have known, my domain (one of them anyway), (don't click that, it doesn't go anywhere) was hosted on a very old Linux desktop machine cobbled together from old, abandoned computers and parts I bought on eBay for cheap. Literally the only new part in it was a 64MB stick of memory. The hard drive I believe is now headed towards 10 years old, and god knows how old the rest of it is (though I can assure you the hard drive is the oldest piece). Anyway, for the last six or so years it's served as both a very crappy web host as well as a firewall/router/gateway machine for those who live in the vicinity of it.

Of course I moved out of my parents' house in aught six (as an aside I can't believe it's only been two years since that; it seems a lot longer somehow) and when your server administrator is a 52 year old woman with limited computer knowledge and a 58 year old man with very little patience for computers, well, you apparently end up with a computer that gets rebooted every other week. Amazingly none of that fried the server itself and I am told it still exists and still chugs along.

What it does not do is share internet access, which sort of defeats the fundamental purpose of the thing. Myself now being 2,944 miles from the computer (that's what Google Maps tells me) makes it a bit difficult to do tech support, and so my advice was to buy a router.

So that went well but it turns out that that machine also hosted its own DNS (both primary and secondary servers), which of course spells disaster when it is not connected to the internet. However Mike, of not myself fame was already hosting my blog to begin with and offered to pick up the DNS of So now this site actually works and will probably continue to work. If you used any other services (and I know one or two people who read this may be curious) they probably won't be back in the immediate future, though I do have a spare computer that I had initially planned to be a replacement (and then some sort of media/gaming computer, and then sort of a waste of space) and it may yet fulfill its destiny.

In other news I said goodbye to Verizon for the first time ever and said hello to AT&T after I was tempted by the magic of the iPhone and its "whole internet". This is actually the very first Apple product I've owned, and it's pretty slick to say the least. I recommend it (or the iPod Touch if you have no need for a phone) to anyone who likes to have a single device dominate their life. For example you don't ever need to know where you are going when you have one... or how to get there. Also if you ever wanted to get your e-mail whenever you wanted (for example I just took the dog out to the bathroom and read my latest Google Alert) and never ever have any downtime from it, well, there you go. Granted many people already did that prior to the iPhone, but not in such a stylish way. Also having played around with Blackberries and Windows Mobile phones I will also put it out there that the iPhone's UI is far, far better.

And that's all I have to say about that.

A Browser Named Chrome

So, Google Chrome is out. Google's shot at making their very own browser. It's an interesting take on a browser. I'm actually using it right now on my laptop which is a 1.73GHz Celeron M with 1GB of memory because it's a bit faster than Firefox 3 and seems to, on average, use less memory.

As a browser it's surprisingly minimalist. It takes the Safari route by not using the OS look and feel for the application. When I first checked out Safari for Windows I was annoyed by that, but I've since softened. My favorite media player is still Winamp, and generally any other media player has its own skin. In fact I strangely prefer it when they do; media players such as Foobar or VLC look like ass. So thinking about why a browser would annoy me but a media player does not... I don't know. Maybe years of using Steam have taken their toll, but Chrome's non-standard look has entirely failed to bother me.

Anyway aside from being a magical blue thing that sort of reminds me of XP's horrible default theme the UI is amazingly minimalistic. There's the usual minimize, maximize and close buttons in the upper right, but there's no title bar or brazen display of the application name. Indeed only a very tiny 'Google' appears next to the buttons on the right when the window is not maximized. When maximized the browser makes maximum use of space, with only tabs and the address bar filling up non- web site real estate. No border and no title bar at all.

The options are few. You can view history and downloads only in their own tabs (as opposed to the sidebar most browsers use), and there are some minor settings you can change, but nothing is really customizable. It's the essence of a browser, really. There's no extra stuff. No insane security settings, no extensions, no custom buttons or adjusting the size or order of the interface elements. Even the status bar at the bottom only shows up when it needs to and takes up the least amount of space necessary before quickly fading back away.

Another argument entirely is if or not this is a good thing. There are arguments for both sides, obviously, but regardless of that Google was successful in building something that's purely web browser and nothing more.

Perhaps the most compelling thing about Chrome, however (at least to web developers such as myself) is the new Javascript engine, V8. The thing is incredibly fast. It's sort of hard to figure out how fast it is first-hand since most web sites have their Javascript fairly optimized. I came across this Javascript test which essentially just runs a bunch of fairly common JS functions 1 million times each. While by no means any sort of official benchmark, it's a pretty good gauge of how quickly browsers run JS. At work I have a bunch of browsers installed so I ran it through each one with these results:

Chrome: 37ms
Firefox 3: 223ms
Firefox 2: 587ms
Opera: 261ms
Safari: 254ms
IE6: 705m

I don't have IE7 installed on my work machine, but I would think it as well as IE8 would put up similarly sad numbers to IE6. IE also limits runaway scripts by the number of times a loop iterates rather than execution time of the script (or actually what seems like a combination), which causes a large number of errors to display when you try and execute those scripts. While there's a marked improvement from Firefox 2 to Firefox 3, Chrome clearly blows everything else out of the water. In fact Chrome is able to execute 1 million parseInt functions (probably the most intensive Javascript function) in less time than the average of all those functions in any other browser.

As if this wasn't exciting enough news, Firefox 3.1 (due out sometime later this year) will have its very own Javascript engine rewrite called 'TraceMonkey' (a name I find hilarious). Not only that but developer benchmark comparisons show TraceMonkey is up to 1.28 times faster than V8. Now of course this is only a couple of milliseconds we're talking about (29ms compared to 37ms, for example), but it's still impressive. Not only that but both of these engines are (or will be) open source, meaning other browsers can pick them up. I don't expect Internet Explorer to start using TraceMonkey or V8 any time soon, but Opera and Safari picking up one or the other certainly couldn't hurt.

I guess, really, what this comes down to, is that the browser market is finally moving somewhere again. There was a huge stagnation period where nothing was really better than IE6. Mozilla was the only real competition, but most people felt that was too bloated. Firefox (or Phoenix as it was called back then) aimed to change that by removing all excess stuff from Mozilla and eventually it paid off. During the period of Firefox's rise there wasn't really any actual competition and it consisted entirely of Firefox chipping away at IE6's market share. Slowly. Very slowly.

And then recently (within the last two years or so) there was a resurgence. Opera stopped charging for their browser, Microsoft finally released a new version of IE (though IE7 is sort of the WindowsME of Internet Explorers) and has another one in the pipeline. Safari was released for Windows, and now Google, champions of the entire internet, have their own browser. It's about as exciting as browsers can get. There's competition in the browser market again, and that's never a bad thing for anyone.

Firefox 3 is a Fat Jerk

If you happened to be here since Firefox 3's release you may have seen the sidebar pushed all the way to the bottom below the content. Firefox 3 seems to have modified the behavior of left/right floating divs so that every so often divs that aligned correctly in not only Firefox 2 but every other major browser suddenly did not. I don't know why exactly, but adding a wrapper div fixed it. Also, as if it weren't obvious, I decided to change the design again because I was sick of the last one already. This one is much better. Fun fact: it's the first design for this blog to use more than one image. The way of the future.

The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

This is something I've been sitting on since I saw the movie on opening weekend, I guess both due to lack of time and also my desire to make sure I was not jumping on some crazy Internet hate bandwagon fueled by Doritos and nostalgia for the older Indiana Jones films. However a decent amount of time has passed and I'm now pretty firmly in the camp of Indy 4 not being as good as any of the previous three.

It does of course get held up to a higher standard than any other movie because it is an Indiana Jones film. This is perhaps somewhat unfair to it as a movie in the general sense, but I think entirely fair given that it's part of a franchise. We hold second and third seasons of television shows up to standard based on how much we liked the previous season. The Phantom Menace led to disappointment in part due to it's unattainable expectations but also simply because it was not as enjoyable as the previous films. Star Wars wasn't perfect, and neither was Indiana Jones. What the Indiana Jones films did have going for them, however, was excitement, good action, and characters who usually evoked some sort of emotion in the viewer, many times the emotion intended by the writer.

The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, while for the most part technically impressive and competant, fell slightly short as an adventure movie but pretty much failed as an Indiana Jones movie. Actually, let me rephrase that slightly. It failed as a good Indiana Jones movie. It did have all the components to make it an Indiana Jones movie, it just failed to use them in an engaging way.

Since I'm in the mood to write entirely too much text, the rest is a click away. Many spoilers lie ahead!

Continue reading...


A Tale of Two E-Mails

I seldom use the 'article' feature of my blog because I never have much that can't be stuck into a standard update. However, I feel that I finally have a story that may be at least partially worthy of this feature. Behold, A Tale of Two E-Mails! It's a story of uh, some guy who thought that my e-mail address was his for a couple months. I shit you not. Check it!

Gaming Moments

A recent thread on Shacknews posed the question of favorite gaming moments. To me this is a pretty interesting list or concept, because it removes lists of what usually encapsulate entire games and brings it down to sections or moments of games which, as a whole, may not be as excellent as some individual moments.

Due to the list being full of spoilers for games you may or may not have played, I'm going to put the article a click away.

Continue reading...


Greg Stephens of Nottingham, UK

So here's an amusing anecdote:

Marmite is a genius

After me saying about being unable to get a copy of GTAIV, he sent the "preorder phone text" to my mobile for me to try and get a copy.

So on the way home I walked into a game, showed the text and said "I've just got the message about my preorder, I've been unable to find my receipt though" to which they responded "You must be Greg Stephens, you're the last one to get your preorder", to which I replied "Yes, yes I am"

So I now have my copy of GTA IV, because Marmite is AWESOME.

From this Shacknews comment. Greg Stephens of Nottingham, UK is gonna be pissed!

The Internet is Magic

Stories like these always warm my heart:

Which may be why Montgomery looked at himself — a 45-year-old former marine with a reddish mustache, bulging gut, and disappearing hair — and decided to become someone else. That person, he wrote on Dynabrade stationery that he stored in his toolbox at work, would be an 18-year-old marine named Tommy. He would be a black belt in karate, with bullet scars on his left shoulder and right leg, thick red hair, and impressive dimensions (6'2", 190 pounds, and a "9" dick"). Emboldened by his new identity, Montgomery logged onto Pogo in the spring of 2005 and met TalHotBlondbig50 — a 17-year-old from West Virginia, whose name, he later learned, was Jessica.

For the full bizarre story (and trust me that paragraph is only the tip of the iceberg), check out the article on Wired (it's many months old, but it's new to me!)

White Like Me

Stuff White People Like may just be the greatest web site in the long and storied history of the Internetweb. Hilarious and even awesomely painful at times, I don't think you will find a better collection of suggestions with which to ensnare and catch your very own white person.

Elephants of White

So every year Shacknews posters do a White Elephant. This year I got some shit from Iceland and the dude I had was from the land down under. Anyway he finally got it and seemed to enjoy. I sent him my old DS and a bunch of games I did not pay for (hooray for being generous, 2k Games) and a weird cactus shot glass I bought for like $1.75. You can see the pictures in his shackpost or view the gallery if you like.

More Than Meets... Something

In the movie industrie's growing impatience, midnight showings seem to have been bumped down to 9pm, or even 8pm showings. I recall the big stink over Transformers being released on 7.4.7 (it's on all the posters) which was then shifted to 7.3.7... thusly seeing it on 7.2.7 was accomplished. I suppose it was midnight somewhere.

I sort of grew up with Transformers. The original series ran from 1984 - 1987, which means I was six when it was canceled. Of course it was rerun many, many times while the series and toys were milked for about ten years until Beast Wars (the second iteration of the series) came out.

I've always been a opponent of nostalgia. Not in the sense that I don't think people should have it, but in the sense that thinking all the shit you enjoyed as a child was awesome and is untouchable is just silly. You will always have the memories, no matter how crappy the TV show was. I would argue that the vast majority, if not the entirety, of animated children's programs produced before 1992 (that's when the Batman animated series came out, which by the way still has its own set of issues) were rather poor in quality. Transformers was most definitely in that category. Silly plots, bad animation, mediocre voice acting, poor writing all plagued the original series with a few exceptions (Frank Welker, voice of Megatron and Soundwave and probably a fuckload of others, remains one of the greatest voice actors of our time, and Peter Cullen, voice of Optimus Prime (as well as Eeyore if you are familiar with Winnie the Pooh), has pretty much the perfect voice and delivery for the role). I've watched a few episodes recently, and the original movie, and they do not hold up to viewings today. Still, there's always been something special about Transforming robots that like to shoot each other with lasers and cause property damage that probably makes insurance companies want to add 'giant robot damage' clauses to their policies.

Anyway the point of all that was I don't care if Michael Bay 'rapes my childhood' because the very concept of such a thing is stupid. Transformers could have been two hours of Optimus Prime and Megatron having gay robot sex and peeing on Chris Latta's grave (who, by the way, aside from being Starscream and Cobra Commander (I never watched GI Joe) was also the original voice of Mr. Burns back in '89-'90) and it wouldn't have mattered because a) you can't take away my childhood memories and b) the original series sucked anyway, so get the fuck over it.

Oh right, so there was a movie. Essentially it's exactly what you'd expect from Transformers and Michael Bay. There are large robots who transform from various vehicles into robot form. Half of these large robots are Decepticons, and the other half are Autobots. Decepticons and Autobots are like Democrats and Republicans (I'll let you decide which is which) in that they fucking despise each other, but in the end they're all giant assholes who like to wreck up the place.

Also as with Transformers, there are a variety of humans who you honestly don't care about. In fact they are kind of annoying. There's the main character, Sam Witwicky, who does a decent job of comedic delivery, and his way over the fucking top parents. He's also got a girlfriend who is hot, only she's not his girlfriend until the very end of the movie, but rather just some random chick he lures into his car. Then there's some NSA/hacker kids but their plot never goes anywhere, but one of them is a hot blonde with an accent I can't quite place, and the other is a hilarious fat black man, which is just asking for wacky hijinks. Their plot never goes anywhere. In fact I don't even remember what happened to them, and I don't really care.

The movie spends some time meandering since Sam has purchased a car that turns out to be an Autobot but he's also trying to pick up girls... I don't know. There are a couple Decepticon fights, and by fights I mean they fuck the humans up. Then just when you're getting tired of human banter and obvious jokes fucking Bumblebee finally calls in the calvary and a few more Autobots show up. From where? Space. That's all that needs to be said.

Following that we get an awesome sequence where Sam looks for some glasses in his room (the Autobots need them for... something) while the gigantic Autobots attempt to hide from his parents. I know it sounds weird but it was quite amusing.

After that they finally get to fucking shit up and there are some really well done fight sequences and lots of explosions and tons and tons of property damage. Megatron is only in the movie for about a half hour, and he's not overly menacing. Also the final fight ends sort of abruptly and not at all how I was expecting it to (it's almost anti-climactic). However, the lack of a decent story or any sort of meaningful character development can be overlooked because in the end it is giant transforming robots with lasers shooting the shit out of each other. And in the end, isn't that what really matters? Yes. Yes it is.

I Hate Drupal

Drupal is a content management system. For those of you not familiar with it, it's sort of a Swiss Army Knife of the CMS world. It can do a shitload of things, and thanks to a pretty extensive community and a quite excellent plugin system (essentially you just take some PHP written by someone (to spec of course) and shove it in a specific directory and it works), anything it can't do, it can still do.

The problem with anything Swiss is that when it tries to do everything, the individual pieces suffer. It's like, with an actual Swiss Army Knife, you have like a pair of tiny scissors and a knife and a nail file and maybe even a tiny saw and probably a bunch of other sharp things that you're not sure what they do, but there's a fuckload of them so they must be used for something. So when you're out camping it's nice to have them because it's compact and convenient, but the reality of the situation is that if you had brought some real scissors and a real saw and a nice steak knife and your nail clippers with the fold out nail file you would be a lot better off because individually all of those things are 100% better than their corresponding component in the Swiss Army Knife. Sure they take up more space, but would you rather use a nice serrated steak knife made by a knife company that knows what they're doing when it comes to knives, or the Swiss Army who are kind of okay at making knives but mostly they're just awesome at cramming a bunch of random tools into one item.

Drupal is kind of like that. If you use Wordpress or fucking MovableType for a simple blog, it's better than Drupal. However if you want to make anything more than a simple blog with Wordpress you're kind of fucked. This is where Drupal comes in.

I just checked out the development site we have up (I'm not going to mention where I work or what site just in case), and the home page has quite a bit of information. It has to pull headlines from all over. This is what it has informed me: Executed 1779 queries in 2445.35 milliseconds.

Holy shitdamn fuck.

1779 queries?! Mind you there is caching not present for this since I'm logged in as the admin user, but holy Jesus on a stick what? Dear god. The way it's put together is so complex and convoluted that is has to pull from a million different tables and files and oh man it's awesome.

Still it has its moments. Like I said the modules/plug-in engine is really awesome, and it's really apt at themes and there's a ton of ways to customize it without ever editing a single flat file. You can add new types of content and list it how you want and sort and filter and everything you'd expect.

I have no ending for this, because I'm tired just thinking about Drupal. I really want to take a nap now. Holy crap. Good night!

New Pants

As you perhaps might know, the CMS on this site is entirely built by me because I apparently have some sort of weird affinity for reinventing the wheel since there are a large variety of CMSs that do what this one does and probably more. However it's a fun project and I enjoy figuring out new ways to attempt to block spammers, thus far the biggest hurdle to not using a tried and true system like Word Press or something.

At any rate, I have been making a fuckload of changes to it over the last few months and I finally reached a point where I decided to roll them out to a non-test site. I think the biggest change is currently the search function, which is not too shabby because I make the database server do all the work.

That's all for now. I have an entirely too long tirade about Spider-Man 3 that I will post some day, but I need to finish writing it first. Yes it's very long and nerdy.

Hey Look At My Stuff!

So my iRiver Clix was delivered to me yesterday while I was at work. It's a tiny ass device, but it's pretty slick. Plays music, movies, displays text files, plays (basic) flash games, FM radio, image viewer (including display of album covers)... only 2GB of space, but I already have a 20gb player, so I'm not worried about that. Even though the screen is tiny (2.2" wide according to the specs), I have been randomly encoding shit to play on it until the novelty wears off. Last night I ripped Spider-Man 2 from my DVD and now I'm watching it on this thing for whatever reason. I have a 26" LCD TV, but whatever I can't put that in my pocket!

Anyway I'm bored, so here's a stupid low-quality YouTube video of Spider-Man 2 playing on it!

I'm done for now.
iRiver Clix



My offers completed! My free thing is in the mail! Woo! Stay tuned. Also spammers are running rampant on my blog. This greatly upsets me. Time to write some kind of comment management system. Joy.

Freedom Isn't Free

I feel like after getting a 'free' MacBook (it ended up costing me around $175 after I forgot to cancel one offer) I should be done with this crap, but no. No. ShopFreePay (which, by the way, is a really sketchy name for a fairly sketchy site, and should have been a warning sign) is a site following the same premise. Sign up for some offers and get free shit. Sort of. I decided, what the fuck, why not try it? So I figure why not try to get an iRiver Clix because it's cool to hate iPods and I like to be a nonconformist or something stupid like that (actually in reality I would rather not deal with any program aside from explorer.exe to drag files to my mp3 player). Great. So I do two offers. I buy some Jack Bauer t-shirt and get a DVD on how to master Windows (woo!). Done. Final offer? This is harder, but I sign up for a credit card. Once you get approved you get credit. I am instantly approved but I do not have credit for this offer well over a week later. Fine. Next stop, Lunarpages, some web hosting thingy. I do not need web hosting. I signed up on Friday but I haven't heard anything. Where is my free shit you son of a bitch!

Anyway, I think the moral of the story is that, uh, I'm kind of stupid. Maybe I'll have this thing soon. Lunarpages isn't that bad though, and I think I may use it for freelance shit (which I suddenly have been doing recently) rather than draining poor Manc's server.

Speaking of freelance, writing a password authentication system in Javascript was fun. I died a little on the inside doing that one. True story.

It Just Works

If you ever wanted to see entirely too many images of a Macbook Pro coming out of its box, then boy are you in luck!

Total cost (excluding cab fare to get to the UPS place): $167.82
MacBook Pro



Okay, so apparently if you don't have ID with your current address, you can just Photoshop your name into your cable bill and fax it to whoever is trying to ID you for government taxation purposes and it will all be fine. Apparently my 'free' MacBook Pro will be here in less than thirty days. It's over!

In other news, SSX Blur is pretty fun.

Laptop, More Like Craptop

You know I'm having a really awesome day so far. Sarcasm. Anyway, I just dropped my laptop off somewhere on the west side because the stupid 'A' key doesn't work right. Roughly 50% of the key presses actually cause it to register an a, and only if you hit it fairly hard. It's annoying and lots of words have an 'A' in them so I can't live with it. It's under warranty though, and the dude said it would take a week to fix maybe, so here's hoping. It will be awesome with a fully functional keyboard.

In other laptop news, I hate Shacknews for getting me into this god damned free MacBook thing. The deal is (or was anyway, it's no longer offered fixed because Josh Clark says I am wrong), you sign up for 18 stupid things and they give you a free MacBook Pro. After you sign up for and wait for verification and cancel all the offers (which all sign you up for some kind of subscription where they charge you $20 or more per month until you call them up and cancel) you end up spending around $150, though if you got in early it was possible to spend around $40. So all told I guess it's a decent deal, but I am highly pissed off, but I won't reiterate my angst because I suppose I am getting what I deserve. It's way more headache than just going out and buying a MacBook, but I also don't have to spend $2000, so I guess it's some kind of horrible, horrible trade off. I will reserve full assessment for a later date, however.

Laptops Are Fun

And I have a new one now. Because my old one had a floppy screen and I think it's overheating. This new one is really small too, like 12.1" screen and it weighs 4lbs I think. It's not too fancy, just a Celeron M with 1gb of RAM, but laptops never do any workhorse gaming for me because, uh, why would I game on a 12.1" 1280x800 screen when I have a gigundo 22" screen on my desktop? Why?! I have no answer. (LOOK AT ALL THE COOL STUFF I HAVE EVEN THOUGH I AM NOW BANKRUPT HAHAHA. Damnit.) Pictures!
New Laptop!

Old and busted.

New hotness.

Together forever... or until I give the old one to my sister.


I Can See My House From Here

So those fancy Dell widescreen 22" LCD monitors were on sale for $299 the other day and I bought one because a) my roommate convinced me (she bought one as well) and b) my old 17" LCD was like 4 years old and had two or three dead pixels and I apparently have enough disposable income to drop $300 on a new monitor. Anyway, it's quite sexy and wide and stuff... I have a lot of desktop room now, and Counter-Strike looks great in widescreen.

The only problem is now my laptop screen seems even more insufficient because it's only 15" with a native resolution of 1024x768 (the new screen is 1680x1050 by the way)... also the screen hinges are kind of wobbly so the screen doesn't always stay up all the time. Oh well. Anyway, that's all I have to say about that! Before and after pictures to follow!

The new Phoenix Wright game, Justice for All is also really good. Same fun of the first game, though they changed some of the music to be not quite as good (mainly the courtroom music is less in your face, or something like that), but it's still pretty good stuff. Also apparently Phoenix won't be a playable character in the third game (which will not be a port of a GBA game like the first two), which is why the emphasis of the logo shifted from Phoenix Wright to Ace Attorney. So I guess it's the Ace Attorney series. Also the fact that I am talking about a video game where you play a lawyer is highly amusing. TAKE THAT!
Dell Widescreen LCD

Old and busted

New hotness


Nintendo Wii. Great Console, or Greatest Console?

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. They call me Ismael. Today, November 19th, was the launch of that Nintendo Wii console I may have mentioned a couple of times. My plight is one of, uh, lots of waiting. And plightyness. Firefox 2.0's spell check is saying that's not a word, but I don't believe that.

Anyway, the original plan was to wake up early today and head to a Best Buy or possibly the Nintendo World Store and hope to get one. Instead we get some insider info that the Toys R Us in Times Square will be getting in 5000 Wiis. Five thousand. So we, my roommate and I, rush down to the place. The line wraps around the block. As in, the end of the line and the beginning of the line were very close to each other. We get a spot and a wrist band and we're about 2500 people into the line. It's a little after 8:00pm. We wait.

And wait.

The store closes at 10pm and then reopens at 12am just for the Wii launch. The line starts moving at 11:50pm. It's dark and cold and random tourists are mocking us. All five thousand of us. We play DS (side note: Elite Beat Agents is awesome) and wait and wait. The line starts to move. Slowly. By 2:10am we are inside Toys R Us. There are tons of Wiis and remotes and games and it's quite glorious. We buy a Wii and an extra controller and three games and run home. Mission complete.

Quick reviews? Excite Truck is fun as hell. Super Monkey Ball is kind of confusing. Wii Sports is pretty neat. I haven't played Zelda yet. Also I need to get component cables I think. So far the Wii is really fun to play and I can't wait to get my hands on Mario and Metroid and see what else developers can do with the controller functionality. Should be sweet. That's all for now! Enjoy these pictures!
Nintendo Wii

Inside this box is... pure magic.

The flash makes it hard to see how awesome it is. It's very white and Apple-ish. But I forgive it.

This is the bag Toys R Us gave us. Spared no expense. There's the remote below.

The Wii and four games! Excite Truck, Monkey Ball, Wii Sports and Zelda. I haven't cracked Zelda open yet.


Can't Sit Here

You know what sucks? Going to the Nintendo Store, which apparently has 'tons of pre-orders left' and asking the dude behind the counter if they are still taking Wii pre-orders, only to have him inform you that they stopped taking pre-orders hours ago. Fuck you, clerk! I couldn't get to the store until Friday! Now I have to crapshoot. Jesus. I haven't bought a non-portable console since the Sega Genesis. This is a lot of trouble! Imagine if I wanted a PS3? I'd probably be having a heart attack. Curse you Nintendo, curse you!

Also, many months later, 'Wii' is still a stupid name. However I have grown used to it, so I can accept it.

Spam: A Lament

I hate spam. A lot. And spammers. Today at work our SMTP server was (and still is being) brought to its knees because it's getting hammered by spambots attempting to use it for outgoing mail. The guy who runs it says it's getting about four messages a second. Nobody can send e-mail and there's not much we can do. Hooray for Fridays! Fortunately we have been able to use an alternative port for outgoing e-mail that was set up a little while back in order to allow people to use our SMTP server from their home ISP (most ISPs, as I'm sure most of you are aware, do not let you use an outgoing mail server that isn't their own), but it's got a new use for this day.

Another different, but equally annoying type of spam is web page comment spam. This blog gets maybe one or two a week at most because a) the content-management system is non-standard and b) it's very low traffic. However it's still obviously spammable because I still have to nuke spammy comments every so often.

Continue reading...


Back In Black

In happier news yesterday I stopped by Walmart even though I hate it with all my being (in spite of their every day low prices) and they happened to have a crapload of black and pink DS Lites in the video game cabinet. I almost didn't notice them because I was planning on buying one during my lunch break today so I wasn't really looking. Thanks Walmart, for not caring about street dates (even though they didn't have Vice City PC until a week after it was released, jerks)! I now own a brand new, shiny pink black DS Lite!
Black DS Lite


The Nintendo Store Is Fancy

In keeping with my Nintendo-themed updates (I hope I'm not a fanboy now, because I really hate Nintendo fanboys and that would really be a conflict of interest), on Friday I went to Nintendo: World Store in Manhattan with dahanese. It's really shiny in there. They had tons of Game Cube and DS and GBA games as well as consoles and DS download stations and all that stuff. Plus a crapload of Nintendo-related junk like toys and t-shirts. I didn't buy anything because there aren't any games I want right now, but dahanese scored a copy of Meteos (they also had many copies of Phoenix Wright and Trauma Center, so if you need some harder to find games, Nintendo Store is where it's at) which we played the fuck out of. Meteos is fun, but playing against and taunting someone while playing Meteos just multiplies how awesome it is.

After that we met up with some other folks from for dinner and drinks. They are becoming less 'Shackmeets' to me (though I suppose that is the correct technical term for them) and more hanging out with awesome people. I'm not sure what that means, but I'm pretty sure it's a good thing. I love you, internet friends!

It Doesn't Matter if You're Black or White... or Pink

So I can finally stop asking when Nintendo is going to release a non-white version of the DS Lite, because black and pink (okay, onyx and coral pink, but whatever) will be out on September 13th! Woot! Regular DS is starting to annoy me because it's really pretty ugly. This will also be the second time I have repurchased what is essentially the same exact Nintendo handheld with a prettier and slightly improved design (GBA and GBA SP was the last one). Damn you Nintendo!

In not-really-related news I was looking for a post I made complaining about the DS Lite when I found a post where I complained about FEAR being on five CDs instead of one DVD. Well I recently ordered Prey from GoGamer because it was on sale for $30, and it turns out I got sent the European DVD edition. That is to say it's the standard version of the game on DVD, and it comes in a regular DVD case! It's awesome! Why the hell don't we have this shit in America? We're supposed to be the most powerful and annoying country in the world yet we don't release standard editions of games on DVD? Lame. Prey is okay, by the way. It's fun, but not worth full price. I may have a review up when I finish it, because I've taken a lot of screenshots with the intent of writing a review so I may as well put them to use.

Update (8/27 2:09am): Okay I just beat Prey and I sort of take back what I said. I'm not sure if it's worth $50 still, but the end is a lot of fun, and I think overall it was a pretty fun game. Nothing great, but lots of fun combat with lots of monsters and stuff coming in waves and such. If you can get it cheap, I'd say go for it.

Please Clean Your Trampoline

I don't normally get into the what happens during my daily life because frankly I don't feel my life is overly interesting (and I'm sure you'd agree). However this is my stupid web page and I'm supposed to do that sort of thing and I guess you wouldn't be here if you weren't, at the very least, totally bored. I had a somewhat interesting weekend.

Things happened on Friday, but unfortunately I can't really write about them because I'm not 100% sure who reads this and who does not. If anything comes from Friday's events, I will be sure to give a full report here because it will be very exciting. Oh yes.

Saturday I got into a car accident. A very small one. I was leaving Walmart and some guy in a gigantic van backed into me. There's a small dent in my passenger side door now, and I have to go to the body shop tomorrow because my insurance company is retarded. Or maybe I'm retarded. By the way, Progressive is kind of a shitty car insurance company. They take forever to get you money and my deductible is massive ($1000), which is annoying. However they are very cheap, so I guess you get what you pay for. I hate car insurance so much.

The guy who hit me was actually really nice and very apologetic (I guess because it was his fault). He even gave me all his info twice (I had to call him back) and said he would tell insurance that I wasn't moving when he hit me (since in parking lots both cars are at fault almost 100% of the time). I'm not sure what will come from all this, but it won't cost me too much in the long run (I'd estimate the damage to be around $700 at most, but what the fuck do I know). So annoying though. Plus another reason to hate Walmart. Sorry mewse. I do enjoy their every day low prices though.

I also bought Kirby Canvas Curse for DS. It's a really fun game, but once again in the dorky, goofy Nintendo way. That is to say I love it as I have loved many DS games, but I feel like a total dork when I play it. But then I guess I am a total dork so it works out in the end. I will punch some nerds to compensate.

Today was fun. I went to my uncle's house for father's day and he has a pool and a trampoline. If you ever need an excuse to not grow up and act like a kid just visit a house with a pool and a trampoline. It's like you have to try as hard as possible to not have any fun. And even then you will still probably have some accidental fun. My socks got really dirty though. People need to keep their damned trampolines cleaner. It's just proper etiquette.

New Computer!

There is possibly nothing sadder than updating your blog on a Friday night. I was actually too lazy to call my friends this weekend, and I figured I'd just do nothing this weekend and hang out next weekend, but I just realized I'll be away the next two weekends. My sister graduates this upcoming weekend, and then I'm of to Washington DC the following weekend for my company's... show of some kind. I have no idea what it is because all I have to do is keep the computers from breaking. And I think I have to run a PowerPoint presentation because the CEO or whoever can't talk and click at once... that's what my boss says anyway. I hope the CEO never finds this page. Nobody tattle on me!

Anyways, thanks to my fat tax rebate ($200 state, $600 federal; mainly due to me working part-time last year and only making $17k) I decided to finally upgrade my stupid computer. I picked up an AMD64 3500, X1600Pro, a spiffy MSI motherboard (ATI RD480 chipset, whatever that means) and 2GB of fancy RAM (they're fancy because they have red dealies on them). Oh, and a new power supply. After struggling with Windows (I had to reinstall, god damnit), I finally got everything working and now I'm installing FEAR so I can play it with stuff turned on and in a decent resolution instead of with everything off in 800x600 like I did on my last playthrough. I would be playing Counter-Strike, but Steam refused to work, so I uninstalled it and it decided that meant it should delete all my Steam games. Great. FEAR is five CDs, by the way. Can we get the DVD edition for regular price, please? I don't want to pay $10 extra and get some crap I don't want just so I can have it on DVD. Fuckers. Oh well.

Anyway, I'm just rambling now, so I'll end by saying that the new Tool CD (which came out May 2nd; or two weeks before that if you got a leak) is okay. I don't like it as much as Lateralis or AEnima, but it's got some good songs on it, so I forgive them. And that's that.


I love people from the internet, because no matter where they're from, I always seem to drink a lot when I hang out with them. Shacknews is a website where we argue about abortion and religion and sometimes we even talk about games too. And once in a while we'll even meet up in New York City for drunken hijinks. It's the best kind of hijinks, you know.

Naked Day!

Today is the first annual CSS Naked Day, and I'm participating because, uh, I have nothing better to do I guess. I added a special feature to allow me to remove the stylesheet without having to edit any files just for this day! It's cool to be naked! This page looks kind of crappy without a stylesheet though, so I half-assed another feature that lets you specify your own stylesheet right in the URL! Fancy!

More Mother Fuckin' Snakes!

I'm going to keep updating about Snakes on a Plane because there is no way it won't be awesome. There's a teaser trailer up, complete with awesomly bad CG snakes. What more could you ask for?! How about snakes in some cleavage? Okay!! How about chopping off a snake's head with a mother fucking ax!? YOU BET!! How about Samuel L. Jackson using a snake as a fucking whip!? THAT'S HERE TOO!! I think New Line may have the next Lord of the Rings franchise here!

In other news I've been slowly tweaking the blog software I made. Now I can assign updates multiple categories and I can add a 'full article' section so super long updates don't have to show up on the front page in full now. In fact, I've utilized this feature in this very update! Happy St. Patty's day, and have fun drinking! I know I will!

Continue reading...


A Boy and His TV

To start this fascinating story, you need to know my dad works as a salesman. He works for a company that produces various machines used in car body and frame repair. Their main product is this big, expensive machine that actually unbends and reshapes car frames after they've been mangled in a particularly bad accident. They also sell some kind of not as expensive diagnostics computer

That's not important though. What's important is that the company offered any employees who could make a certain amount of money for the company a free plasma TV. My dad, being a big fan of television as well any form entertainment that doesn't require much movement (and I can hardly blame him, since he's traveling all the damned time), decided to work his butt off to acquire said plasma television. Long story short (and it would be even less of a story than it already is if he failed), the TV showed up at our door on Tuesday. It's quite the sexy beast, if I do say so myself.

There's not much more I can say, except that HDTV is awesome. Also, what sort of dork would I be without taking pictures of me watching Spider-man 2 and playing Half-Life 2 and Duke Nukem 3D on it? Not much of one, that's for sure.