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Archive for September, 2010

So…

Microsoft announced it is going to pull away from it’s Live Spaces in favor of WordPress. Back in the day (which was a Thursday, and yes, that joke never gets old to me) MSFT had a nice little blog service through MSN, which then got swept up in the Windows Live rebranding, but instead of going through it again with some kind of Bing Blogs, they are pushing all 30 million users from Windows Live Spaces to WordPress. Yep, all those nerds are coming to WordPress.

Now here’s where I gotta start talking about Ke$ha, or for the sake of spellcheck, we’ll just go with “Kesha”.

(Photo from Wikipedia. Go read the article on her if you’re not familiar. I ain’t got time to recap!)

Let’s think for a moment about Microsoft: corporate, in your face… like bubblegum pop. Thinking about a Microsoft sponsored and run blog is not my idea of creativity on the surface. Windows Live blogs are probably filled with more references to “Excel Pivot Charts” than… well… the Excel help page itself. I’m guessing there’s a handful of Zune pages out there for people who just thing that iPods are buying in on Satanism.

But what if there are some really fun and creative blogs out there? Is it possible to… find… new… stuff… I like…?

http://www.youtube.com/v/6GShxQZTyGY?fs=1&hl=en_US

My preconception of Kesha: boring dance pop brat making corporate music with limited appeal and invading my radio, my airwaves, my YouTube. So I go to the video.

Kesha’s “Your Love is My Drug” starts off innocuously enough, there’s that cheesy thump fuzz “bass” line to start off, chick on some sand, ok, I’m guessing some coordinated dancing and maybe some wacky waving inflatable arm guys. Ok, there’s an elephant and some drug culture analogies. About 45-48 seconds in, there’s a little change up from the girl rap speak, so ok, there’s some dynamics. THEN:

What’s that noise in the background in the chorus? Is that the Duran Duran bubbly sync noise from HUNGRY LIKE THE WOLF? I THINK IT IS! Ok, nice chorus. This is tolerable. And catchy.

Second verse, a little bubbly, and you can’t go wrong with a guy in a beard in a canoe and OH MY GOD CARTOONS? IS SHE ABOUT TO RIP OFF YELLOW SUBMARINE? (Technically, it would be ripping off Heinz Edelmann, so ok, let’s remove the Beatles from the discussion of inventing the style. Point: Ke$ha. I mean Kesha.)

So at 1:44 into the video, I’m thinking, “This is more interesting than I thought,” and Kesha is just setting me up for the punch to the gut. And she does. And she did. This video is a hoot. All the way to the end when she says she loves the dude’s beard.

So Kesha, thanks for opening up my mind that maybe, just maybe, these new Microsoft blogs coming over to WordPress are going to be much much cooler than I thought. Like everything, you have to come to put your stereotypes aside, make your own decisions, and draw your own conclusions. Thank you Kesha. And please… don’t ever ever ever run for public office, because I’m sure this video is not going to win any debates on healthcare.

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If it didn't power up, imagine a fist-sized hole right here.

So glad my new mini PC wiring worked. There was a point where I was staring at a motherboard drawing, and the actual motherboard, the wire drawing, and the actual wires, and realized that not all the pretty colors matched. But it’s alive.

More on the build to come. And installing an OS.

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Hmm maybe I should use “Jackoquick” as a tag for any shotgun fast reviews I post…

Halo is a phenomenon in gaming.

Microsoft has now created an event level moment for each game in the main Halo series. Don’t believe me? You haven’t clicked the link above. And yes, that’s a REAL person in a jet pack in Trafalgar Square in the article above.  But now the review…

Halo- Reach box art.png
HALO: REACH

Class was torture last night, knowing that my pre-order copy of Halo: Reach was on my front porch sitting in a vinyl packing envelope from Best Buy. Once I ran home (at 10pm) I tore it open, sat down with my tacos, and popped it into the Xbox360 with my 40″ HD TV.  You do a quick customization of your armor and then off you go into the campaign.

Wow.

The intro sweep of the planet was on par with a Discovery Channel or National Geographic special, beautiful landscapes and then the harrowing shot of your beaten and bashed-in helmet.

Halo Reach will not end happily.

For those that don’t know, the Halo game series is a 3 game main arc of the Master Chief, a future super soldier left with the task of fighting the Covenant, an alliance of aliens set on the destruction of humanity. Imagine the Independence Day aliens, the Predators, and that 4 eyed guy from Monsters Vs. Aliens teaming up with the Mars Attacks baddies. That’s the intimidation factor involved with facing the covenant.  Over the 3 Halo games, long story short, you save the universe, but the prequel that is always referenced is the Fall of Reach, an outpost planet where the Covenant pulled a Pearl Harbor on mankind. Yes, I just compared a real life tragedy to a video game, but that’s an analogy folks, but the bottom line is that you enter the Reach experience knowing that you will, ultimately lose.

You are playing a game that you will 100% lose.  Let that sit.

What a game.

You join Noble Team as the new sixth member on an elite tactical squad sent to investigate insurgency on Reach. Very quickly, you learn the personalities of other players and sadly, start to become fond of some of them. I’m finding that Jun and Jorge are two characters that are well written and humanized to the point that I’m already sad that they are going to meet some terrible demise.

The graphics are great, though at times there are some shiny edge lines on the figures that are an accepted side effect of modern hyper-realistic graphics rendering engines. But the game play is fluid when multiple targets are on-screen. 

I’m not huge on multiplayer death matches and games on XboxLive as I do not enjoy playing against foul mouthed 12 year old rich kids who think Good Charlotte is “classic punk”, but Halo: Reach does have a feature outside of campaign that I did think was a blast (literally and figuratively), the Firefight.

Firefight was in Halo 3:ODST but this was my first experience playing it; I passed on Halo 3:ODST as it felt/looked more like add-on content, and reviews were definitely not kind to it in comparison to other Halo games. For one person of multiples, Firefight allows you to take on multiple successive waves of attackers, and is great practice for using different weapons, working on maneuvers/combo attacks, and strategy. I played alone last night with just myself as a single Spartan fighting incoming drop ships and was amazed by the intensity and fun at just having nonstop action.

So after playing 2 out of the 3 gameplay types, I’m already giving this a 9 out of 10, and would highly recommend to fans of shooters and sci-fi. If you’re a “Call of Duty is better” fanboy, then go play Call of Duty. But don’t call a great game like Halo “weak” and I won’t call a great game like “Call of Duty” weak. Fair enough?

Thus speaketh the Jackalope.

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This week started off terrible. I severely underestimated the time investment in my Networking Fundamentals class or whatever the official title is… and bombed the assignments.  The new plan is to get the readings done during the week, and focus on getting the online quizzes and labs done before Saturday; the assignment due date every week is midnight on Sunday.

Sounds like a plan, right?

It would be great, in theory, if not for the arrival of a certain video game franchise’s final/first chapter today.

Yes, it’s HALO time again.

I preordered my copy, and it’s on the way today, so when I get home from class, I’ll be able to fire it up for an hour or so and deal with the mayhem of 12 year olds cursing like sailors on XboxLive. 

Ah Halo. How I’ve missed ye.

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Well what a fun week already. Lots of random stuff today, so if you want a cohesive story, watch Transformers 2.

Video Game Culture and Design Class is fun but tough… to deal with kids who have short memories and tunnel vision. Most of them can’t relate to anything done before 1990, let alone anything that’s not a squad based first person shooter. If you put “deathmatch multiplayer” on a box of diapers, they’d run into the woods in Pampers and cry man-tears of joy.

If you can get past the shouting of “SUCKS” or “RULES” after each game mentioned, our teacher did bring up Jesper Juul (visit him at http://www.jesperjuul.net/ ) and his rules/theories on gameplay. Jesper is kind of heady, but his explanations of what makes a game rewarding are quite a cool read.  I’m just going to leave his website link there, but if you’re interested in games, psychology, or sociology, explore his page at your own pace.

Things on my mind today keeping me busy:

The fact that I need to shore up my linux device security.

Kidd Chris is on KUFO 101 FM in Portland.  NICE.

Comics Buyers Guide offers a 35 page pdf excerpt of from their Hot Wheels book if you sign up for their newsletter

And finally

I need to read 2 chapters for my gaming class this week, plus have my first assignments for my Cisco Networking Class due on Sunday night.

And it’s football season starting this weekend, and that’s not good for homework.

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AH Chess. The sport of geniuses, game for nerds, or that thing a lot of people think is stupid or too hard to learn. Or boring. So how can you improve on the game? Play “Less Chess”!

Here’s how to play:

Set up a chessboard and all the pieces. Then, remove any one type of piece from play (except for the King). You can either pick a piece from a hat or choose a specific one, like say, removing all four Knights, that dang horse headed beast that moves in crazy shapes.

Then play chess.

Why this is fun:

Removing a piece throws off the strategy of experienced players. Someone is used to planning some grand secretive operation of tactical moves, or setting up strategic strikes like the Knight Fork or the Pin and Skewer.  So you take a Chess nut (ha! get it?) and knock them off guard, potentially leveling the field instead of watching them annihilate you.

Less pieces also means a potentially faster game. Less moves, less options, you’ll find that maybe removing all four Rooks means the King is more susceptible to attack. But that’s also part of the challenge for someone who plays a lot.

Learning is easier too. I had a psychology teacher who claimed the average person retains information in seven units at a time. But the range averages from four to ten units of memory “bits”. How many pieces in Chess? Six: Pawn, Rook, Knight, Bishop, King, Queen.  Removing one piece or two can make it easier to teach. Taking away the Bishops and Queen removes a lot of big moves, and makes it easier to keep track of pieces.  This is GREAT for teaching kids. Set up a board with just pawns, Bishops, and Kings and teach a fast playing action filled game.

For Chess fanatics of Lord Dunsany, this is just another variation. I sure as heck didn’t invent it, but it’s a way to think outside the box.  That’s perhaps the greatest benefit from playing Less Chess. Taking a scenario and removing an element is great for developing problem solving skills, like, say, if your dryer decides to die on you.

Here’s the disputed “which is the original version” variation of the song “One Night in Bangkok” from the musical Chess to get you in the mood. Or freak you out.

And yes, this is Louise Robey from the Friday the 13th Television Series….

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So my dryer died.

Apparently the heating element (or “the guts that make it hot”) have failed.  Evidence was found of wet unheated clothing with motion sickness from pointless spinning.

For the life of me, I can’t remember off the top of my head if it’s gas or electric but I have to buy a new one. I can’t do much research without knowing this key attribute in the decision tree.  After all, if you’re not aware, buying a gas dryer vs an electric one is a different cost for the same size/same feature dryer.

BUT I SWEAR, WITH MY FIST IN THE AIR, MY DRYER, YOU WILL BE AVENGED! I WILL BECOME AN AVENGER!

(Photo source: http://www.comicvine.com/the-avenger-the-avenger/37-155681/ PLEASE CHECK OUT COMICVINE, THEY ARE A GREAT SITE FOR COMIC BOOK 411!)

Which brings me to a copy of The Avenger #1

Nooo this isn’t the Avengers. It’s THE Avenger. He’s from 1955. They’re from 1963.

He’s not to be confused with The Avenger, the pulp comic hero.

And no, he’s not a Dodge Avenger, although he is quite the acrobat in the cover to issue #1 while attacking a foreign built automobile.

I’m talking about The Avenger, the scientist-turned-superhero who fought to avenge the death of his brother at the hands of Cold War Russian baddies. I don’t think the ideal costume to take on the Ruskie Reds would be a red leotard, but who am I to judge? It is oddly familiar, thinking about red tights, russians, and jumping and leaping….

Can’t put my finger on it. But how, HOW can I possibly tie this all together? Well, let’s see…

My dryer died.
I need to avenge its death.
I need to choose an avenger.
I need to buy American (or at least not Russian).
Red seems to be a recurring color.

SO I end up here:
Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Whirlpool – 7.0 Cu Ft. 14-Cycle Super Capacity Plus Electric Dryer – Magna Red Gloss

My god… this is what happens when you let comic books make decisions for you.

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