11.08.2010

The Radd's Basement Logo Museum

Now that I've completed my latest redesign, you might be thinking: "Wow, he sure does change this place a lot for a blog that nobody visits." Well my uninformed friend, a little bird (named Google Analytics) told me that more than a few people come here!  I'm currently ranked...  Well, it's higher than you might think, but to give you a frame of reference, it's less than Amazon.  And less than Google, and less than Yahoo.  Less than Microsoft, less than porn sites, less than other blogs...  Hmmm, looks like not a lot of people come here.  So I guess I change it for my own enjoyment ya jerks!

We're coming up on the 2nd anniversary of this blog, and I've changed it a lot in that time.  I thought it would be fun to look at the logos I've designed since things started (now with free bonus theme music!)




Theme song: Sega Mega CD System - We always played this music at EGM, reminds me of working there.


This is the first logo I designed when the blog started.  I remember I was sitting there with a bloody nose and drainage tubes sticking out of my nostrils from my surgery.  I was bored and had been thinking of re-starting my website for a while.  So I logged into Blogger and got to work.  This logo of course is based on the Electronic Gaming Monthly logo of the 90's using Adobe's AntiqueOlive Nord Italic font.  Simple and easy.




Theme song: Metal Gear Solid Main Theme - One of the greatest pieces of music of all time, I played this while designing this logo.


No matter how good I think my work is I eventually get tired of it.  I got to work on a new logo, and I had been playing a lot of Metal Gear Solid, so I came up with this one.  If you look hard enough you can find a font that looks like every logo in the world.  I used the most powerful tool in the world, it's called Google.  I typed "Metal Gear Solid font", and had a new logo 30 minutes later.  This logo is based on the special edition of MGS2, called Metal Gear Solid 2: Substance.




Theme song: The Hampsterdance Song - No comment.


This one...  Will take some explaining. See, sometimes I'm just bat-shit crazy.  This happens a lot around the first of April.  Every April 1st a band of rogue hamsters take over the blog and vandalize it.  I've been unable to prevent this the past two years, maybe it'll be different next year.  Anyway this logo seems to be based on the Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater logo, but made by hamsters.  This led to the creation of...




Theme Song: Snake Eater - The James Bond inspired opening track to Metal Gear Solid 3.


...a proper Metal Gear Solid 3 logo, based on the special edition of Metal Gear Solid 3, Subsistence.




Theme song: Transformers The Movie Theme - 80's cheese inspired this logo.


One of my favorites, this one took some time to get just right.  Made to look like the cardboard flap on the top of every Transformers toy box.  Made it easy to tell when I was getting Transformers as birthday and Christmas gifts, because you could always feel that flap inside the wrapping paper.




Theme song: Pac-Man Championship Edition - The thumping backbeat to the speedy sequel to Pac-Man.


And this brings us to the current incarnation, the Pac-Man logo.  One of my favorite games ever, Pac-Man just celebrated his 30th anniversary, and stands the test of time.  So what better way for me to pay tribute than to rip off his font.  For the first time I also used a matching background image for the site.  Around Halloween time the site became haunted by ghosts, and I thought a matching logo would look cool, so I hung on to it.



There was also a failed Super Mario Bros logo, but I didn't like the way it came out so I never used it and must've deleted it.  Maybe someday I'll bring it back around.  So um, there you go.

Radd's Basement - Wasting your time better than a game of Farmville.

11.02.2010

Funny story...

I got a text message from @duckhead around 10:30 PM last night:

So I call him up. Turns out he was out running, and saw an arcade cabinet in someone's garbage. Not only an arcade cabinet, but it looks like it has six buttons. It couldn't be... Could it? A Street Fighter II machine? In the garbage? It was dark and he just had a chance to do a quick inspection but it looked complete. He wondered if he should maybe grab it and bring it home before someone else comes along. I was in my Jeep and at his house within ten minutes.

We hopped in his pickup truck and drove a mile or so down the road to the house in question.  Sure enough, there's a full size arcade cabinet, with two six button joysticks.  This is too good to be true!  On closer inspection we got a good look at the marquee on top of the machine and saw this:

Yep.  This was a "Street Fighter The Movie" cabinet.  Yes, the horrible game based on the horrible 1994 feature film starring Jean Claude Van-Damme that's so horribly horrible that I act like I've never heard of it when people mention it to me.

Well, an arcade cabinet is an arcade cabinet, and this one was FREE, no matter how terrible the game inside.  So without a second thought we used our years of arcade expertise to quickly disassemble the machine and lift its heaviness into the truck bed.

On returning to his garage, we were astonished to find that the only things missing were the actual game JAMMA (who cares right?) and the monitor.  Everything else, lights, buttons, joysticks, coin mechs, power supply, and the cabinet itself are in fantastic shape. What a find!

He has plans to turn it into a Capcom Multi-CPS machine which will be pretty awesome when it's finished.  Replace the old buttons and joysticks, replace a few rusty bolts and a good dust and polish, and that machine will look brand new.  It won't be as cool as mine of course ;) but it'll be pretty damn sexy.  I'll ask him for some before and after pictures for you to check out.


11.01.2010

This is important to me.

Pasted from Kotaku:
The United States Supreme Court hears its first ever case about video games this week. The stakes are high. Here's what is happening and why it's happening.

The United States Supreme Court is hearing that video game case this week, right? Right. The State of California vs. The Entertainment Merchants Association and Entertainment Software Association (aka "The Video Game Industry"). Oral arguments begin at the Supreme Court in front of Justices Roberts, Thomas, Kagan and the rest on Tuesday at 10am ET.

What's it about, again? Whether violent video games should be treated like pornography — in other words, whether there can be a type of violent video game that would be legal to sell to adults but illegal to sell to kids.

Oh, like R-rated movies? No, not like R-rated movies. It's legal in the United States for a kid to go see an R-rated movie, even if it's against the rules set forth by the movie industry. The only kind of movies that are illegal for kids to see are obscene ones (they're illegal for anyone to sell to anyone of any age). Those movies would fall under a special category defined by the Supreme Court in the late 60s for certain kinds of sexual material. California wants violent video games to be treated like that extreme sexual content, something no violent movies, books or magazines are subject to.

So who got the idea that violent video games should be treated like Hustler magazine? The government of California and a bunch of other states. They've been trying to get this on the books for much of the past decade.

What did video games ever do to them? In the middle of the last decade, California assemblyman Leland Yee, a child psychologist, picked up on an effort across several states to try to criminalize the sale of really violent video games. He says he did this because he believes ultra-violent games can harm kids in ways other forms of violent entertainment can't. He wrote a bill in 2005 that would fine a retailer $1,000 for selling really violent games to kids. California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed it into law later that year.

So it's been illegal in California to sell violent games to children? Nope. The video game industry sued, as they had in many other states, and got the law blocked from taking effect. Two tiers of courts have since said, as they had in other states, that the law violated the Freedom of Speech guaranteed by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.

All this mention of "really violent video games." Which "violent video games" would this law have pertained to? Yee and his allies often describe passages from 2003 game Postal 2, which does contain a lot of heinous content.


California would go after Postal 2 and what else? Not God of War or Call of Duty, right It's hard to say, but the California law does include the following standards, which the government would use to determine which games should be illegal for kids to buy:
(A) Comes within all of the following descriptions:
(i) A reasonable person, considering the game as a whole, would
find appeals to a deviant or morbid interest of minors.
(ii) It is patently offensive to prevailing standards in the
community as to what is suitable for minors.
(iii) It causes the game, as a whole, to lack serious literary,
artistic, political, or scientific value for minors.
(B) Enables the player to virtually inflict serious injury upon
images of human beings or characters with substantially human
characteristics in a manner which is especially heinous, cruel, or
depraved in that it involves torture or serious physical abuse to the
victim.
That first part seems familiar. It should ring a bell, if you pay attention to law. It's pretty much the Miller Test which was established in the 1970s to determine if something is obscene.

Hmmm. I wonder if anyone who plays video games would agree that there are games that "lack serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value for minors." Probably not.

Why is the Supreme Court getting involved in this? Great question, one that the video game industry, which is defending the case would surely love to know. They've been on a perfect win streak so far. Court after court has struck down the California attempt and those of other states to ban the sale of really violent video games to kids. But in April, the Court agreed to hear the case, so surely they think something here needs another look. This is the final chance for those in the California/Yee camp to win, to essentially score a knockout after losing every round of the fight.

10.31.2010

Happy Halloween (a real holiday)


Carved this today...  Better late than never.

10.20.2010

Twitter is better than Facebook

I have a Twitter account. I also have a Facebook account. Facebook is dumb. Before I continue with a blog that hates Facebook, understand that I am not living in a fantasy world where I think my blog is gonna take down Facebook. Facebook is pure business genius, and isn't going away anytime soon. Plus if Facebook went away, I'd have to build my own comment boxes for my blogs. I'm simply trying to convey to you how much simpler and easier life is on Twitter, and how obnoxious Facebook is. If I get even one reader to use Twitter on a regular basis, my life is fulfilled. Yeah, it doesn't take much for me.

The problem is, I can't quit Facebook because I've realized it's a good way to see what my friends and family (who I'm far to lazy to call) are up to or talking about, and very few of them are on Twitter. When I say friends, I don't mean Facebook "friends", I mean actual literal real-world friends over my entire lifetime. I have about 50-ish people who I'm either friends with now, or considered a friend at one time in my life. I don't need more than that. I don't need over 1000. In fact, I've stopped accepting new friend requests on Facebook and will continue to post offensive Tweets that auto-forward to Facebook until all my current friends have deleted me and I can finally quit. Then people can get back to talking to me via the proper channels. Facebook is NOT a replacement for e-mail, texting and party invitations, so don't contact me there for important things.

Back to the issue at hand. Twitter is better. But to understand why, you need a fundamental understanding of how Twitter works. Twitter is like a simpler Facebook, but it's missing all the elements of Facebook that piss me off. The most notable difference between the two is the 140 character limit on Twitter. This is an absolutely necessary element of a social network. If you can't say it in 140 characters, you need to either get a blog or shut the hell up. I got a blog. The 140 character limit was originally designed so it could be used via text messaging on a mobile phone without breaking into multiple messages. Some people say that Twitter’s simplicity makes it an annoying stream of consciousness; but it’s really all in how people use it, just like Facebook! Just don’t follow Ashton Kutcher or John Mayer on Twitter and it’ll be fine.

Beyond that, you don't have "Friends" on Twitter, you have "Followers". There isn't that awkward friend request system where you have to suffer through that moment of ignoring someone possibly close to you who you just don't want as a friend. On Twitter it's all been simplified. There are two settings, "Public" and "Private". If you're Public, people can automatically follow you and you can follow them. No requests. If you're Private, you have to approve requests, AND your posts don't appear on the public timeline. THAT'S IT. Those are the TWO settings. Facebook on the other hand has provided you with so many options for sharing all different types of information, that it's become an obnoxious clusterfuck.

And while we're on the subject, let's look at the different types of information Facebook wants you to share. Your birthday, your anniversary, your family's names, your employer (with address because you're automatically linked to the group for your employer), your hometown, your current city, your high school, your likes and dislikes. So I'm a criminal, and I want to steal your identity. What's one of the dumb security questions on any website? "What's your mother's maiden name?" "In what city were you born?" "Where did you graduate high school?" Well, all I have to do is find out who your grandmother is and your hometown, and bang, I'm you. Thanks Facebook! Luckily I don't want to be you, I'd rather not get into why.

Here's the Twitter profile page: Name, URL, Location, Bio. And you're not penalized and given warnings if you leave information blank on Twitter. Facebook seems to be in the business of collecting information, which is beyond baffling to me in the day and age of identity theft (which has happened to me, but not because of Facebook [that I'm aware of]).

So let's get back to the part where I was talking about the "Public" and "Private" settings on Twitter. You might be saying, "Well Radd, if I join Twitter, and set my profile to 'Public' then ANYONE can automatically read my tweets! I don't like that, I like friend requests!" Well, my poor idiot, you're living in Candy Land if you think your Facebook posts are truly private. They're on the fucking INTERNET! Nothing is private on the INTERNET. And on top of that, people love to tell secrets. Chances are someone who has "friended" that person you don't want to friend has shown them your Facebook page and tells them what you're saying. But failing that, IT'S ON THE INTERNET!! Now, if you're simply interested in personal privacy on Twitter then "Private" is the setting for you. Because most of Twitter is public, there's been nowhere near the privacy scandals that Facebook's been involved in. I believe Facebook is up to a scandal a month now. Just remember, the only way to be truly "private" is to not join a social network. But if you're like me and like to talk, then that's not really an option.

Moving on to the Terms of Service. An interesting read. Let's compare:  Facebook - Split into multiple pages of subcategories, last updated a couple weeks ago. Give that a read sometime and keep up with its changes... I know I won't.   Twitter - One page, updated 9/18/09

Twitter has NO ADS or "suggestions", and most importantly, NO STUPID GAMES, and no one inviting you to play stupid games like FarmVille or Mafia Wars. I've been playing video games since I was four, and I was even an EGM editor. If there was ever an authority on the subject, it's me. Facebook games are STUPID. I'd give them a 4, except my editor would just change it to a 7, but that's beside the point.  However, I will say I'd be a fool not to understand why Facebook games exist. It's business genius. In fact, Facebook as a whole is designed to keep you there, clicking away. Games keep people on the site. More visibility equals more revenue for Facebook. This is also why you see only certain updates from certain people in your News and Recent. Facebook has a carefully guarded secret algorithm in place to determine which posts will be interesting to you and keep you on board clicking away, all the while viewing more ads and generating more revenue for them. I can hate Facebook while still recognizing it's brilliance as a business platform. On Twitter, you see EVERYONE'S posts. If that gets too overwhelming, then you need to follow fewer people or set up favorites. Point is, Twitter leaves the decision-making in YOUR hands.

Speaking of following people on Twitter, since it's public, you can follow your favorite celebrities and find out what they're up to as well. You're not just limited to your boring old friends and family. Go to my Twitter page to see who I'm currently following, you don't have to be my friend or anything! And you won't find out any of my personal info!

There are no links on Twitter that require you to take a quiz before you can look at them, and there are no annoying GROUPS. "Bob Bemis has joined 'I HEART VARIOUS THINGS'"... Feck off Bob. I wouldn't be surprised if "I fell out of my bed and bumped my head" and "My balls itch" were actual Facebook groups. On Twitter there's "Trends" which are automatically generated based on keywords that people are talking about. For instance "Paranormal Activity" is trending as I write this. Since it's America, the trends are usually stupid things. "Justin Bieber" is another popular trend. But you can find out what's being talked about in your town, your state, your country, or the planet. In fact, news travels faster on Twitter than any other platform.  If you decide to talk about a trend on Twitter, you're not automatically added to a group with others who like the same thing. As if I want to talk to strangers about our common interests. I understand it's called a "social" network, but it's ironic that although I like to talk, I'm not social. I generally hate people. Maybe none of this is for me. In fact, forget everything you've just read...

This pretty much sums it up.

Press my hypocritical Tweet and Like buttons below!

10.16.2010

Happy Sweetest Day!

Yep you're seeing right, an unprecedented back-to-back blog post. I've been meaning to write about fake holidays for a while, today just reminded me.

So yeah Sweetest Day. Yep, I'm complaining about this. It's a day of reflection for me, on just how fake a holiday it is. Seriously. Are people are still buying into this? I can assure you with 100% certainty that my wife is not expecting a box of candy and a card today. We're practical people. We don't even exchange gifts on Christmas, let alone Valentine's Day, so the prospect of Sweetest Day to us is taken about as seriously as Boxing Day, Friendship Day, Ninja Day and 4/20. Let's not forget First Contact Day on April 5th. Yeah, it celebrates our first contact with the Vulcans in 2063. People really celebrate it. Apparently I'm not the biggest Star Trek fan.

While my wife and I do celebrate our wedding anniversary, I don't need a fake holiday to remind me it's time to do something nice for her. In fact, let's take a look at the origins of Sweetest Day. According to Wikipedia (which is never, EVER wrong), Sweetest Day (The "sweetest" day of the year) was created in the 1920's by candy makers to boost sales. Assuming this information is accurate (which it is, because it's from WIKIPEDIA), we see that it's by very definition a manufactured holiday. IT'S FAKE! AND, it's only celebrated in the Great Lakes region! It's so lame the rest of the country has decided not to bother with it!

Here's a list of REAL holidays in order of importance:

Christmas
My Birthday (or yours I guess)
Thanksgiving
Halloween
Easter

All others are fake. It's my blog, these facts are irrefutable.

Groundhog Day? In which we watch a marathon of the 1993 Bill Murray Film.
Valentine's Day? A celebration of the martyrdom of a bunch of people in the Middle Ages
St. Patricks Day? I think I have some Irish in me, but I'm not sure why should I still celebrate a Patron Saint of Ireland whose original associated color was blue, by wearing green.
April Fools Day is fun I'll admit, but it's not real.
Columbus Day? He didn't DISCOVER America, his boat crashed into it, and then he looked at it. Celebrate his journey, not where he stopped to take over.
Black Friday? This is where we celebrate women murdering each other in Wal-Mart.
Winter Solstice? Hooray! The Earth is still rotating!
Kwanzaa... Let's just move on.
New Years Eve? Or as I call it, "Alcohol Day".
Don't forget New Years Day, also known as "Hangover Day because you're a moron - seriously, you're in your 30's for God's sake!" I'm working on a shorter version of that one.
A lot of these holidays are just superstitious hokum, or have dubious origins.

Even the real holidays I mentioned have completely lost their original meanings. I just call them "real" because they're actual celebrations more than holidays. Even their names reflect their lost origins. Thanksgiving is now Turkey Day, and Christmas is now X-Mas.

Getting back to the point at hand, sweetest day is fake. I'm not even bothering to capitalize it anymore. Save a $20 today and walk in empty-handed. If you're spouse is practical, they'll understand. If you get the cold shoulder and stink eye, well then good luck with that relationship pal!

HAPPY SWEETEST DAY IDIOTS!

10.15.2010

Suck it Lexmark.

So here's the deal. I own a Lexmark X5650 multifunction printer. I originally purchased it because I needed to receive faxes every morning from my job. Now I don't use the fax anymore, but I still use the printing function quite a bit. I print out a lot of postal labels for eBay. This uses a lot of black ink. And never in my computing life have I been witness to a bigger scam. For the remainder of this blog, I shall refer to it as the "Lexmark Printer Cartridge Scam", or LPCS™ for short. Nah, actually I take that back, I'll probably refer to it that way for the remainder of my life.

Here's how the LPCS™ works: You purchase a Lexmark printer for super cheap at Wal-Mart. So cheap in fact, that you leave the store feeling like you just scammed the corporate machine. But what you didn't realize was that it is you, my poor idiot, who has been scammed. You get the printer home, hook it up, and start printing. What you soon realize is that the printer cartridges are being used up at the rate of 35 sheets per cartridge. Which using a little math, my wife's area I know, but I'll give it another go, is a FUCKING DOLLAR PER SHEET. I could hand write everything, then drive to the library and photocopy it and still come out ahead.

Here's where the LPCS™ really shines as a brilliant scam. The printer hardware, as well as the driver software on the computer DO NOT ALLOW you to use the cartridge once it determines it's "empty". It refuses to print and gives you a link to the Lexmark website to purchase another cartridge. This feature really comes in handy when you need to print a time sensitive boarding pass for your flight the next day, or you're late for a job interview and need to print a résumé. Sorry, you can't print, but here's a link to our website, you'll get your replacement cartridge in 4-6 days and we'll hit you with shipping charges. You missed your flight and didn't get the job, but hey you'll always have quality printouts.

Now I've NEVER seen a printer that didn't allow you to print after the cartridge is empty. Usually they'll warn you that it's low, then eventually empty, but you can still get another 20 pages out of it before the colors start banding. Another brilliant part of the scam is that you can't refill the cartridges either. There's no way to reset the ink level. Once it's empty, the printer ALWAYS registers that cartridge as "empty" even if refilled.

Never fear, this blog has a happy ending. I'm a problem solver, and a bit of a scam artist myself. Nowhere near the caliber of Lexmark, but I get by. Enter the ultimate defense against LPCS™:


Yep, ordinary tape.  It doesn't have to be Scotch, or satin, or gift wrap.  Just some damn tape, this isn't a commercial!  So you tear off a strip and place it here:


If it's hard to see, you can click to enlarge, but I've placed the strip so it covers the five vertical dots on the edge of my black ink cartridge. Now, the printer can no longer read the ink level in the cartridge. I'm able to print again! When I do, the black ink level now looks like this: (note the question mark)


So there you have it.  By doing this I'm cutting my ink cost in half.  Yep, that's DOUBLE the amount of pages out of the ink cartridge.  Now that you know the dangers of LPCS™, I hope you'll act responsibly when buying your next printer.  It's quite simple, just don't buy a Lexmark.  Walk right on by to the other brands. Additionally you can knock all the existing Lexmark printers off the shelf and kick them down the aisle till they break to protect your fellow consumer.  Although I don't know how that would fly with the Wal-Mart night manager. 

So why am I wasting my life with such minutiae?  Hey, what you call waste of life, I call saving money.  Who are you to judge me anyway, dick? It's my hope that the keywords "Lexmark" "printer" "X5650" and "reset ink level" will be picked up by Google and distributed to all the other poor bastards who have also been scammed by Lexmark.  If successful I'll save a lot of people a lot of money.  Or be forced to remove this blog by a Lexmark court order.  Either way, it's nice to be noticed.

10.09.2010

It's a CONSPIRACY!

Drove my wife to the airport last night so she could meet her brother in FL for some Halloween festivities. Drove her car (an automatic) so I wouldn't burn out the clutch on my Jeep driving home in rush hour traffic.

Made it all the way to Channahon, and was quickly pulled over on the side of Rt. 6. I was going probably 5 or 6 mph over the speed limit, so I assumed that was the reason he pulled me over. I've been pulled over before, so I grabbed the old license, reg and insurance card. He comes to the window and asks the usual question, "Do you know why I pulled you over?" I immediately respond, "Well, I might've been goin' a little fast, that's the only reason I can think of." Everyone always says you should do or say certain things when you get pulled over, like don't volunteer any information, but I don't usually listen to the advice of others because if life's taught me anything, it's that other people are stupid.

He says, "No, it's not that. You've got a cover over your license plate." I'm like, "Oh, that's not allowed?" He says "No, you didn't know that?" I reply "No, I didn't, it's been on there for years, had no idea!" He says, "Well they can glare and make it hard for us to read the plates." I say "Ok, well no prob, I'm like a minute from home, I'll grab a screwdriver and pop it off as soon as I get in the garage." He checks my license, I sit and read the latest Twitters. A few minutes later he sends me on my way with a warning. I go home and remove the cover.

I'm writing about this because I'd first like to warn anyone else that may use one of these. Also, I'd like to submit a few thoughts for consideration.

I submit: "Do you know why I pulled you over?" Again, people would say to me "You just reply, 'No I don't.'" But I'm not the type to try and scam my way out of trouble, if I've done something wrong I want to correct it. But given a million guesses I would've never said "Is it my license plate cover?" How would I know that? I would guess things like "Do I have a busted taillight?" or "A potato in my tailpipe?" or "A deployed airbag?" before I guessed that.

Also, this cover has been on the car since The switchover to the red and blue license plates. How long ago was that? How many years? And no one anywhere has noticed and pulled over my wife? Oh sure, they wait till I'M driving the car. Yeah, I can say whatever I want on here. My wife's in Florida!

Another thing to consider. These new license plates suck and rust, which necessitated the cover in the first place. The old license plates didn't rust. How do I know? The proof is on my garage wall.

Finally, why are these covers even sold in Illinois if they're not legal? It'd be like selling fireworks in Illinois. Or crack.

So my conclusion is the state of Illinois has a scam going where they make these license plates that rust, then sell protective covers to keep them from rusting, THEN make the covers illegal and give out tickets to generate revenue for the state. You might say, "But Radd, the cop didn't even give you a ticket! How can you say it's a conspiracy to generate revenue?" thereby rendering the entire blog I just typed irrelevant. To you I say, "Well played."

If you have one of these, I suggest you turn yourself in. Or throw it out.

10.06.2010

I like when cool stuff happens.

So there's this guy named Tim Langdell who founded a gaming company called EDGE GAMES a LONG time ago.  The last time Edge Games published a video game, the year was 1994.  Since then, Tim has made a meager living suing every game company that used the word "Edge" in their releases.  He can do this because he's supposedly trademarked the word "Edge".  Ever heard of the Game "Soul Edge"? Very popular arcade fighting game by Namco.  Guess what the home version is called?  It's not "Soul Edge", it's "Soul BLADE". Guess who's responsible for that change? Yep Tim Langdell. Getting the picture here?

Recently, he sued EA over "Mirror's Edge" (of course).  Probably extremely happy such a large company produced a release with "Edge" in the title.  Since it's been 10 years since his case against Namco, he was probably short on cash. He stood to make a killing on this case!  Unfortunately for Tim, he may have bullied the wrong kid on the playground.  The court believes he lied to the US Patent and Trademark Office.  In addition, the court brought a charge against him, citing that he's been "trolling" the industry for opportunities to license his "trademark". This could lead to "penalties" against him.

Needless to say, the case against EA has been dropped, putting an end to the ridiculous industry ban on the word "Edge". In addition, now this guy is in legal trouble.  The moral of the story is that I love when people get what they deserve.

8.21.2010

Back on the trail, and back on the blog!

Yeah, I'm back. Went on an unplanned, unscheduled bike ride today with Patt Blaz. I figured on a test of his newly assembled bike around his neighborhood, but he wanted to brave a trail he knew of near his house. This trail, surrounding the cooling lake for the Braidwood Nuclear Power Plant looked to be at least 10 miles long. I've been off my bike for the last month, Patt had been off his for the past 10 years. I cautioned that we might want to turn around after three miles or so, and go a total of six miles. Patt was optimistic that we could make a full lap, so we bravely and foolishly threw caution to the wind.

A lot of the trail was downhill, so it was making our ride easy. We joked that it was good we decided to go all the way around because it would suck to have to ride back uphill. Guess what? At the halfway mark, there was construction underway blocking the way forward. Nice... First geese nearly kill me, and now this trail would surely be the end...

After a short cry, we made our way back and by the end we were both close to death. But we survived to laugh about it another day and I've documented the entire ride here. If you zoom in to maximum you can see us crying when we hit the dead end. Click the link below for a full screen map with ride stats:

Braidwood cooling lake trail


Duration: 2 Hours, 1 Minute
Length: 10.2 Miles
Average Speed: 5 mph
(Note: stats represent two old out of shape dudes, we'll do better next time)

6.03.2010

Possibly the coolest thing ever...

This was originally sent to me by @grafxguru73 months ago, and I finally got around to checking it out.  So some crazy internet dude with a copy of Flash and a lot of free time made a version of Super Mario Bros. where you can not only go through the game as Mario like normal, but as other popular 8-bit characters like Simon Belmont and Mega Man. It's absolutely ridiculous how fun this is, click below to play it yourself, you'll need Flash installed or enabled, sorry iPhone users...


If you have a gamepad connected to your PC, you can play it with that using JoyToKey to emulate the game's keyboard functions. I did just that, and it made playing it much easier and more fun!

The creator also just released a trailer for the next version of Super Mario Bros. Crossover, featuring a cool new character:


5.22.2010

I'm tired of paying for things

Here's my latest scheme to save a buck...

Since I live in the Chicago suburbs, the closest TV broadcasts to my home come from the Sears (sorry, "Willis") Tower and John Hancock Building in downtown Chicago.

You might be saying, "Wait a minute, my closest TV broadcast comes from the cable Comcast installed in my living room, or from the satellite dish installed on my roof." Well, refer to the title faithful reader... I'm tired of paying for things.

Enter the Channel Master 4228HD antenna. It's a "deep-fringe" antenna, capable of receiving over-the-air (OTA) television broadcasts from as far as 60 miles away. Since I live about 50 miles from Downtown Chicago, this one was the way to go.

"Wait a minute", you might be saying again, "An antenna? That's from the 70's man, nobody has an antenna anymore!" Well the fact of the matter is, lots of people do have antennas and more and more are getting them because, like me, they're tired of being raked over by Comcast among others.

So here's the deal, since TV first appeared (hundreds of years ago for you high schoolers) it's been broadcast free of charge, over the air, financially supported by advertising. You may remember all that craziness a few months ago about the digital transition. What that meant was that all of the stations are now being broadcast in crystal clear high definition which in most cases looks better than even Comcast or Dish HD which are highly compressed to save bandwidth. I may be getting too technical here. In simple terms, I put a metal contraption on my roof and now I get free (and legal, not pirated) HDTV. Ok?

So the first step was to visit http://www.antennaweb.org. By typing in your address and answering a few questions, the website will tell you what channels you can receive and how to orient your antenna to receive them.  In my case, my antenna needed to point at 48 degrees to be angled toward Chicago. The installation was fairly simple, using a mount purchased at Menards for $20 and some bolts and RG6 cable, I used a compass to identify the proper angle and point the antenna. I ran the wire through an attic vent to an amplified splitter (Channel Master CM-3418) in the attic. From there, the signal distributes to all my rooms.

I haven't purchased it yet, but there's also an OTA DVR (Channel Master CM-7000PAL) that you can purchase to record your programs for the hefty price of $350.  No monthly fees like TiVo, it instead uses the TV Guide service which is also sent free over-the-air to fill its program guide.

I purchased the antenna from Warren Electronics in Moline IL.  All told, the total investment was...  Well, let's do some math:

Channel Master 4228HD Antenna: $64.55 at Warren Electronics
(I bought on sale for $53.55 at Warren)
Channel Master CM-3418 Amplifier: $38.58 at Warren Electronics
(I bought on eBay for $26)
Channel Master CM-7000PAL DVR: $349.99 at Fry's Electronics
(Don't have this yet)
Various cables bolts, mount and accessories $20-$40 at Menards
(Got these for free from work, except the $20 mount)

My total investment: $99.55, yours might be slightly higher, but right around $100 unless you jump on that DVR.  $100, for free TV FOREVER, or at least till the world ends in 2012.

Here's what it looks like installed on my roof, pointed directly toward Chicago.  Not too much of an eyesore like some of those monster antennas I've seen, but you'll need to go to antennaweb.org to see what kind of antenna you'd need.  Good luck!

5.20.2010

Star Trek - Retirement

Well, it's been a while since I talked about... well, anything on my blog, but specifically about Star Trek Online.


Since my last STO blog post, a lot has happened. I went on a bunch of missions, fought in a lot of battles against Klingons, Gorn and Orions, and learned a lot more about how the game works and plays. I started to realize that the missions began to feel somewhat repetitive. They'd probably be more fun with other players, but I've been flying solo since @Olaf330 retired citing the same reasons, repetition.

Now this isn't really a bash on the game. It's well thought out and well done, looks beautiful. But the problem is it's new. It's not polished, and there's room for a lot of additions, a lot of new missions, and overall bugfixes/improvements. It almost feels like a beta. I've played many games still in beta over the years, and STO feels unfinished, so I have also retired. But definitely not permanently. My character and status are all safe on Activision/Cryptic Studios or whoever owns the servers. I definitely plan on returning to this game, it's a dream for Star Trek fans, but I'd like to play a more finished version.

I accomplished a major milestone before retiring though, pretty cool. My final battle to reach my new status was long and difficult, and unfortunately cost me my ship. If you don't remember my last post, my ship is pictured above, the U.S.S Solitude. It looks a bit different now:


I was in a battle against a Klingon Negh'Var class flagship and several Klingon Birds of Prey inside of a nebula. If you don't know this nerd talk, a Negh'Var is the most powerful ship the Klingons have. WAY more than a match for poor Solitude. I had to survive for two minutes until a Starfleet Task force could reach me to assist. In the end I survived, but my ship had to limp back home and was in no condition to go on.

Upon my return to Earth Starbase, I was summoned to the Admiral's office. He congratulated me for exposing the Klingon task force hiding in the nebula and was honored to promote me to Lieutenant Commander. YEAHHHHHHH! I OWN! My first new orders were to report to spacedock for new crew and new assignment. WOO! I get a crew to order around! and spacedock? What could possibly be there waiting for me?  I hopped in a shuttle to find out.


What's this? A ship... looks Constitution class. Hmmm, let's check this out...


Definitely a sleek looking Federation Starship, but what does it have to do with me?


AWW YEAHHHH it's just like the end of Star Trek IV where it's the -A version of the... AWWWW MANNNNN!


So yeah, I got a new starship.  The U.S.S. Solitude-A.  It's so bad ass.  Look at how cool I look in the big chair.  Lieutenant Commander BITCHES!


This new bridge is so roomy, lots of room for iPod parties. Let's take this bad boy out for a spin...  ENGAGE!


Wow, I am the coolest guy and this is the coolest ship in the goddamn galaxy.


Oh yeah, and my all girl bridge crew is totally sweet, here's my Vulcan first officer T'Mimo telling me something totally important, but I'm way too busy with my Ryan Seacrest haircut and this Tribble, yo.

Ahem, perhaps I've gotten a little buried in my role.  Anyways, I left the game shortly after, but as you can see, I had a lot of fun.  I'll be back when the game's a little more polished and there's more to do. I'll also have more silly pictures of my exploits to share.  See you... (Shatner pause) out there!


5.18.2010

Goose-free bike ride

Much more relaxed, peaceful, and most importantly goose-free bike ride today with @Olaf330. This time we traveled north from the Bridge St. access to the I&M trail, and went 6 miles to Rock Run Preserve. The wind was against us the whole way and I began to lag behind a bit, but the way back was quite literally a breeze. I'm enjoying the exercise, it's good for old American gamers to get off their rear and get some exercise, I encourage more fat-asses to do the same. Here's a map for reference if you're ever brave enough to hop on a bike and hit the trail...

I&M Trail Channahon: Bridge St. to Rock Run.


5.05.2010

Geese are dicks

Just returned from another bike ride. I decided to tackle the next section of the trail down Cemetery Rd. here in Channahon. I'd been anxious to try out the bike ever since @olaf330 gave the crappy old thing a new lease on life with his bike repair skills. He wasn't around, so I went alone, which may have turned out to be a mistake.

Things were going great until I ran into a family of geese, complete with goslings... Awww, how cute. I decided I'd take a picture to show the wife. I stopped the bike and readied the iPhone camera. What I didn't realize is that geese are very protective of their young. And by protective, I mean total dicks. They started hissing at me, and raising their wings. I quickly snapped the pic and decided it was time to get my black ass outta there.

Within seconds of snapping the photo above, the goose was airborne and heading toward me. I turned and pedaled, for some reason believing I could outrun a large bird in mid-flight. He passed right overhead, forcing me to duck on my bike, and with the skill of a surgeon, or possibly a ninja, he placed himself directly above and slapped the bejesus out me with his giant wing. It's a sting that lingers even now. I finally escaped the shocking and grizzly attack with only minor injuries.

So what's the lesson here? Well if you see a family of geese in the wild, my advice is to leave them be...

Or they'll murder you.

I&M Trail Channahon: Cemetery Rd. to Gun Club Rd.


4.15.2010

Rode bike, didn't die.

Went on a 14.1 mile bike ride today with @Olaf330 and @duckhead. Did surprisingly well, didn't die or anything. Got a cool app for the iPhone called EveryTrail that records the trip and lets you share it online. If you click the link above the map it traces the route and shows the ride stats: Duration (1:45), Average Speed (8mph), etc. Pretty neat!

I&M Trail Channahon: Bridge St. to Cemetery Rd.

4.02.2010

April hacks day!

Mastermind hacker, caught in the act.
Sorry about the downtime yesterday, some sneaky little bastard hacked my site again. Coincidentally, same day as last year... I had the culprit in custody, at which point he apologized and promised to never ever do it again. Shortly thereafter, he gave me the finger, bit me and ran off shouting "See you next year a**hole!" The hacker is currently still at large.

That hamster's a dick...

And I've quite possibly lost my mind.



3.03.2010

List of things I will never do...

Lieutenant Radd, standard MMO character
  1. Facebook account.
  2. Play an MMORPG
  3. Gaming on PC
  4. Gaming with keyboard/mouse
I'm sure there's more I'm forgetting, I say a lot of things and really don't think them through. So here I am, another year goes by, and I'm doing things I said I never would.  I must be getting old...  Nah that's not it.  It's these damn company executives green-lighting these projects to tempt me. First Facebook on Xbox, and now Star Trek Online.

As you might have guessed, I bought it.  And I'm gaming on my PC, which I said I'd never do.  I'm playing an MMO... with a goddamn mouse and keyboard! I'm working on the latter, gonna get me an Xbox360 pad for PC.  Keyboard and mouse navigation is not for me.

So there he is...  The young fellow pictured is my character, Lieutenant Radd.  Here he his slacking off at Earth Starbase.  The game takes place 30 years after Star Trek Nemesis (the last Next Generation movie).  It takes into account the events of the New J. J. Abrams movie, in as much as Romulus was destroyed, but is not affected by the events of the alternate timeline that was created.  Confused?  Look is all simple time travel stuff, look it up.

So the destruction of Romulus (and Remus) has caused galactic turmoil in the Alpha Quadrant.  A Romulan civil war to claim control over whats left of Romulan space, the Kilingons are back to their old ways, trying to lay claim to whats left of Romulan territory, and the Federation has finally been dragged into the chaos against the Klingons.  The Klingons have become powerful by conquering the Gorn and Orions, the Cardassians are still rebuilding from the Dominion War, and the Borg and Species 8472 are on the move.



So needless to say, the Federation needs all the able-bodied Starship captains it can get.  That's how Star Trek Online starts. I began as an Ensign on the U.S.S. Miranda, defending against a Borg attack. Conveniently, all the senior officers were killed, leaving me to take over and save the ship.  My actions are recognized by Starfleet, and I'm quickly promoted to Lieutenant and given my own ship.  Not a bad day's work.

So I set to customizing my character and ship.  The available options are rich, you can make your character one of many Federation races, Human, Bajoran, Betazoid, Vulcan, Andorian, etc... I chose to be human to start off, picked my area of expertise, (Tactical, Science, or Engineering) Tactical, 'cause I wanted a red uniform... and headed to the Shipyard.

You start with a choice of three very basic classes of ship, (No Galaxy or Defiant Class yet) so I chose the Miranda Class.  The U.S.S. Reliant from Star Trek II was a Miranda Class to give you an idea, so here's my first starship of my very own...

Miranda Class Starship hanging out above Earth, not getting much done.

So once you've customized your ships overall design with everything from custom saucer, neck, nacelles and even war paint, it's time to name your ship and enter a registry number.  I decided I'd let the name of my starship reflect my playing style:

U.S.S. Solitude:  NCC-93555

So then I was off on my first mission.  Well, I should've been, but when you turn a Star Trek nerd loose with his own starship in the Star Trek universe, some things have to take priority.  I promptly ignored the hails of the admiral with the Solitude's first mission, and decided instead to explore.  Goddamn tachyons interfering with communications I suppose will be my excuse. I'm off to my favorite destination, Deep Space Nine.

Lieutenant Radd on the bridge of the U.S.S. Solitude, currently AWOL.

Luckily my entire crew agreed that a trip to DS9 for some Dabo and Holosuite time was more important than any proper missions the admiral might give us. I'm a good captain. So I explored the DS9 promenade, and then took off for Wolf 359, The Badlands, Bajor, Vulcan and then back to Earth for my first real mission.  I was joined by my pal and fellow slacker Lieutenant Danyon, and together we took on some Orion Raiders who were attacking a cargo vessel.  Pretty sweet!

The U.S.S Solitude in orbit of DS9, about to crash into Upper Pylon 3

I definitely like the starship combat, you have to really pay attention to your shields, you have to keep your weakest shields away from your enemy, and adjust systems mid-combat.  It's a lot to manage at first but I'm getting used to it.  Ground combat and missions aren't as exciting, but hey, it's Star Trek! There's always a few boring episodes...

So far I'm limiting the amount of time I spend playing it, but the few hours I've logged so far were a lot of fun.  I'll update you as I get more involved.  But so far so good.

For the record, I'm STILL NOT a PC gamer.  Just wanted to throw that out there.