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3.31.2008

Photo - Why You Gotta Be an Muppet Hater?

I saw this in traffic the other day. That's pretty warped. I mean I still hate Barney...but you can't hate Elmo. He's only 3 and a half. You can't drag a Muppet toddler under your car. It's just not right.

3.28.2008

Big Lots - Adventures in Bad Product Ideas

I once heard a comedian refer to Big Lots stores as "the Free-Admission Museum of Bad Ideas". I think it's totally true, even though I have to admit that I personally love Big Lots. I'm always shopping there for off brand masking tape or knockoff Rubbermaid storage containers.

I was backing up the pictures off my old phone when I found this picture that was taken on a Big Lots excursion. Let's look close and see if we can figure out why this DVD is living at Big Lots instead of a major department store chain. Bonus points go to the first one to catch it and post a comment.

3.27.2008

Old School - Sega Game Gear

So, as you may have noticed, I've been on a video game kick lately. Maybe it's due to the fact that I cleaned the garage last week and was reorganizing my stuff and going through my old gaming hardware. Regardless of the reason, I have the itch again. The one that makes me want to scrounge very old gaming consoles out of basements and pawn shops. During the peak of my addiction in college, I had a huge collection of Atari cartridges, but I sold them all when I moved. Well, I think I'm going too start collecting again. I mean I've always been trading and collecting odds and ends here and there, but I want to actually start actively looking for 5th generation and earlier hardware now. With the weather getting better, these old systems will start popping up at garage sales soon.

So, my first week back collecting, I found this:
If you're young enough that you've never seen one before, this is a Sega Game Gear. It's the 3rd color screen portable ever released. It was released just after the first gray scale Nintendo GameBoy. Basically it's a portable version of the Sega Master System, but with a slightly improved color palette. When I say "portable", read it as "luggable", because this thing weighs a couple of pounds, and is about a foot across. It runs for 4 to 5 hours on 6 "AA" batteries. Optionally, you can use that battery pack to power it. The battery pack is a slender lump the size of a cordless phone, and includes a stylish belt clip for added portability. (oooh, sexy) It looks great attached to your fanny pack. I got this from a guy at work. He had taken good care of it and had all the accessories except the battery pack. He even had manuals for all the games, and the jumbo magnifier lens that you can strap to the system.
I found the battery pack the next day at B&B Loan here in Ft. Wayne. It's a good pawn shop near the city building. I discovered it while checking a bin of accessories and controllers, and the folks there gave it to me for free because they didn't think it would sell. We'll see if it'll still hold a charge. I mean it's only 11 years old...it should work, right?

3.24.2008

Diet FAIL

Video Game Deal - DS lunchbox and accessories

Southtown WalMart had this one. Lunchbox and accessory kit for $10.
Seems like a decent deal since it includes the tin, case, and a car
charger. They also had packages with a board games DS game or Elite Beat Agents and a similar accessory pack for $10. This package didn't include the tin lunchbox.
The Coldwater location didn't have this price on either kit.
I found the same accessory kit w/o a bundle, it included card cases, styli, screen protectors, DS Case, and car charger, and it's $20.

3.22.2008

Game Hunting

I was at Disc Replay looking at CD's this week. They had some interesting stuff in the classic games area at the back.

A classic top-loader NES2. $60 seems steep, but they're hard to find, and they almost never get the blinking light of doom...so people will pay it.
A stack of TurboGrafx 16 games. I think the bottom ones are HU-Cards, but I'm not certain. I've never owned a TG16, so I don't know them by sight, and they're behind glass.
A whole row of Sega Saturn games. Mostly common sports titles, but there are a couple good ones in there.

3.21.2008

3.20.2008

Mobile Test Post for SA Visitors

I see I'm getting hits from a forum thread running on Something Awful
and ModMyiPhone. Looks like you folks are trying to figure out if
emailed posts from the iPhone are formatting themselves with weird
line breaks due to the way the Mail app works. I hope this post will
help you figure it out. I have entered this with no return characters
on the phone and let it wrap the lines itself. So whatever you see
appear on my blog I'll leave unedited in Blogger except to add
categories later.

3.16.2008

Half Price Wii Points Cards at Wal-Mart




Wal-Mart was selling Wii accessory value packs at Christmas. These packs included a Wii Classic Controller "Glove" and either a Wii Points card or a Wii Classic Controller. Both of these were $20 or so during the holidays. Wal-Mart must have bought too many, because they're selling them for $10 and lower at various stores.

Several Indiana members of www.cheapassgamer.com are reporting that their local stores have these bundles ranging from $7 to $10. This is probably being handled on a store by store basis by their managers, so the discount may vary according to which store, and how many they have left over. The Wal-Mart near my house is selling them for $10 and had about 20 points card packs, and maybe a dozen classic controllers. This is probably a YMMV (Your Mileage May Vary) deal, and may not be happening everywhere.

Why is this relevant? The cards are for 2000 Wii Points. They normally sell for $20 each. This means you can get the points for half off. If you're not familiar, these are the currency used on the Wii Shopping Channel to buy Wii Ware (like the Opera Browser) or Virtual Console games. I picked a card up last night and bought the new imported N64 game Sin & Punishment on the VC.
If you didn't pick up a Classic Controller for you Wii, this is a good chance to get one. Super Mario World and a few other titles are almost unplayable on the VC using the GameCube controller, so if you're interested in playing VC titles, you'll need one eventually. I'd pick one up while they're $10 if you haven't already.

[edit - 3/23/08 - These are all gone, the spots where they were is now marked back to the $20 price. ]

3.14.2008

Video: Crysis Sniping Basics

Here's another video I created inside Crysis. It's a few quick tips that should help you be a more effective (read "less dead") sniper. You can watch the embedded flash player below, or click this article link to download the quicktime version.

3.13.2008

*@!?&* Commercials on Children's DVD's

To the people responsible for Barney DVD's:

You must not have kids, or you don't let your kids watch Barney DVD's. If you did have kids, you'd know how annoying it is when there are unskippable commercials at the beginning of a children's DVD. You obviously have never had to put on a toddler's favorite DVD only to listen them cry, whimper, or grunt at the screen as they sit through 3 screens of copyright information and two commercials about the educational value of Barney.

At least Elmo's World will allow you to use the FF button to run through the 1 commercial at 30x speed. Baby Einstein's newer disks don't forbid scene skipping the commercial. Maybe they got tired of listening to their own kids have a fit.

Just so you know...I'll be thinking about these commercials when I decide what to buy next...and it won't be the products promoted in the annoying commercial.

3.12.2008

Waiting at Werner's

I'm waiting on the rental company to come pick me up at the mechanic. Werner's Garage rocks...seriously. If you need import work done near Fort Wayne, get a quote from Werner's first. They do really good work at fair prices. They are especially good with VW and Mercedes. I think Werner has been in business since the late 60's or early 70's. He definetly knows his stuff. I've had to take my car in there twice now. Both time's I was able to get an appointment within a day or two, they don't have a two week waiting list like Vorderman's did.

Since my VW's out of factory warranty, I haven't felt the need to use the dealership's service center. I've found Werner to be capable of dealer quality or better service at about half the price.

Anyway, I'm sounding like a commercial now, so I'll quit.

3.10.2008

Funny Video: "Mario: Game Over"

Did you ever wonder what happened to Mario and the Princess?
I thought this video was pretty funny.

Video: Resident Evil 4: Wii Edition Review

I posted this a while back on my original Blogger account, my proto-blog if you will.
Here it is again. This was a video review of Resident Evil 4: Wii Edition I did for another website. I did a little edit to the intro and exit of the video. I'm not 100 percent happy with the edit. As you can hear the Snowball mic I'm using now has a much cleaner signal than the old USB headset I originally dubbed this with. I'd redo the voiceover, but I think it would be impossible to sync the action up to my dialog again.

Anyway, here it is. If you don't feel like watching, let me explain...no there is too much...let me sum up. RE:4 Wii Edition is $20 most places, and it's great, if you haven't played it, and you own a Wii, you should go get it.

3.06.2008

Video: Stupid Crysis Trick - How to jump a military truck onto the beach

Here's a little video I created while working my way through Crysis the second time.
In the level where you infiltrate the village, I noticed an exploit that lets you take the big KPA military truck off a cliff and onto the beach area. It makes entering the village from the beach much easier than trying to use the boat or sneak in on foot. If nothing else, it's just a cool stunt. Check out the video. I hope you enjoy it. I'm planning to do more of these kind of clips in the future, so suggestions of games, tricks, and tips that should be covered are welcome.

3.05.2008

Music: Jonathan Coulton Rocks!

Have you played Portal? Did you enjoy the end credits song? It was written by niche geek musician Jonathan Coulton. He was a programmer who quit his day job to pursue becoming a musician. He started by publishing his "Thing a Week" blog that featured a new piece each week for a year to build his fan base. He's now touring and releasing albums. (and making funny songs for Valve Software) I've been listening to his stuff all week, and he's one of my new favorite artists. He also supports the Creative Commons license, which is really cool, because he's letting fans to a lot of non-commercial remixes and videos using his music.

You can check out his music here:
http://www.jonathancoulton.com/store/downloads

He has full length previews, so give the songs a listen. My favorites are:
Code Monkey
Shop Vac
Chiron Beta Prime
Creepy Doll
Someone is Crazy

His folk covers of "We Will Rock You" and "Baby Got Back" are good too.

He also has a lot of his material available on his Podcasts on iTunes. But if you listen, you'll end up liking his stuff, and buying a bunch of it...so you were warned.

You can also click here to demand shows in your area: Eventful

3.03.2008

How to get your BLUE Snowball Mic working under Vista

I recently came into possession of a BLUE Snowball Podcasting mic. I was dismayed to learn that there is no official Vista driver or support for this mic at this time. Details on BLUE's support forum are sketchy at best. I spent a lot of time reading third party sites and stumbling around BLUEmic.com. I'm happy to report after much trial and error, I was able to get the Snowball working in Vista.

The big issue is that the link BLUE provides to the firmware update in their support forum is broken. When it did work, it would take you to a firmware updater that seemed to only work under Windows XP. If you could download it, you had to run the update on your mic from a XP machine and then it would work under Vista with the new firmware.

It turns out that there actually is a working firmware updater available on their site. It just happens to be in a directory that BLUE doesn't directly link to.
Just download this executable: http://www.bluemic.com/update/snowball/SnowballHighGain.exe
and run it under Vista. You will need to have Administrator privileges to run the update. It will flash the firmware on your Snowball and make it Vista compatible. Now since BLUE doesn't link to this file, or officially promote it, I'm assuming this is unsupported and may void your warranty. Run the updater at your own risk. I'll just tell you that I ran the updater on mine, and it works fine now. I've compared operation under XP Pro and Vista Home Premium using the new firmware, and everything seems to be the same on both systems. I don't run a 64-bit install of Vista, so I don't know if this will work in that environment or not.

I hope this helps some folks who are trying to use this mic for podcasting under Vista and have been frustrated thus far.

* Update -5/20/08 * - Looks like BLUE updated their website and deleted the updates directory that contains the firmware update files. I e-mailed service@bluemic.com asking if there was a new location for the fix, or an updated method to fix the mic in Vista but have received no response. For now there is no update available. If someone who downloaded the old fix recently wants to contact me, perhaps we can find a way to mirror the old fix.

* Update - 7/28/08 * - BLUE's site now says the Snowball is Vista compatible. I'd assume they're probably shipping a version with new firmware factory installed that works. I don't know if they have a way to update existing mics to the compatible version, but it's probably worth contacting their support people if you still can't get yours to work. Post a comment and let me know how they handle it.

* Update - 12/30/08* - AngryBob has mirrored copies of the updaters over on his blog here:
http://angrybob.ill-literati.org/2008/10/02/blue-mic-snowball-highgain-firmware/

*Update 11/2/11 * - Blue has put the firmware updater and a FAQ here: http://www.bluemic.com/snowball/#/support/  Some serial numbers work out of the box now with Win7, earlier serial numbers will require running the updater which is linked from the FAQ.