Stupid iPhone Videos #1: Dax's Revenge

Now that I have an iPhone 4S, I've found a whole new way to waste everyone's time.

A regular occurrence at my house, Shampoo bullies Dax out of her food. This time though, Dax has had enough.



Gaming FM is back! Sort of...

Wait a minute now chum, leave us not get excited here...  Gaming FM is back on the web, yes that's true.  But before you pee yourself, It's just a social presence to allow our once great community to come together and connect again.  No music is streaming anywhere, on any one station, let alone four stations!!! Nor is there any plan for such things in the future! Phew...

I'm not sure what made me decide to put the GFM brand back on the 'net... I guess in building a web presence for the business I started (which has kept me extremely busy lately, more on that later) I realized how simple it would be to create a presence for Gaming FM as well.  It took me all of two hours to make fully functional Facebook, Twitter and Google+ accounts for GFM, and I'm now kicking myself for not doing it sooner.  Gaming FM was great once, and it's memory is still fresh in a lot of minds.  As I'm finding out in only the first couple of days after going live, maybe fresher than I realized.

Just do a Google search for Gaming FM, and it's clear our departure had a negative impact on the gaming community.  I don't think something so important to so many people deserves to go quietly into the night.  While our reasons for closing down the site remain justified, it should still exist at least in some form.  I'd like those Google searches to yield a more positive legacy for our hard work than what currently exists out there.

The big question on everyone's mind I'm sure is, will this lead to a Gaming FM revival?  Well, never say never. It's a different internet now than it was just a few short years ago.  High speed broadband is widespread and mobile devices rule the interwebs.  It would take a lot of capital, a lot of bandwidth and a lot of free time to pull it off.  GFM would have to be re-imagined from the ground up, and believe me, I've been doing a lot of imagining.  I have a lot of ideas in the cooker, but I don't feel the itch just yet.  Maybe I never will.  Don't get your hopes up for GFM 2012, but as I stated, you just never say never.

For now though, I hope you'll visit the GFM Facebook Page.  It's very important that you press LIKE so the word can spread that GFM still has a spark of life left in it.  I hate Facebook as much as anyone tho, so for the haters, there's also a Google+ and Twitter feed as I mentioned.  I'll be updating these feeds semi-regularly with video game music tidbits I find interesting and answering questions. Things are just getting started now, but hopefully we'll strike up some conversation soon.

What do you think?  Comments below or see you in the social web! Yeah I said social web.  It exists.  Deal with it.





So Google came out with a Blogger app, this is my first post from my iPhone! Well, it's my first post from anywhere in a while...

So I was invited via Facebook to my 20th high school reunion, which means it's time for my suicide pill. But seriously, I'm not going. Why not? Well lots of reasons. I'm gonna list three...

1. I can see everyone on Facebook.

High school reunions are made pointless by Facebook. There's a reunion going on there 365 a year. You can see what everyone looks like, find out if you're more successful then they are, and stay in contact via the inter-webs now. Why would I pay $50-$75 bones to see a bunch of assholes I hate anyway?

2. Why would I pay $50-$75 bones to see a bunch of assholes I hate anyway?

Video games are popular and mainstream now. If you play them, and are good, you're cool and accepted. You know when they weren't popular and mainstream? When I was in high school. Playing and being good at games carried a nerdy stigma which got you laughed at or beat up. The only reason I'd go to my reunion is to thank all the people who shaped me into the bitter old man I am today. And then beat them with golf clubs while laughing in the moonlight.

3. I already hang out with my high school friends.

I live five minutes from @Duckhead and @Olaf330, I have no need to party and drink with the rest of the LTHS class of 1991. First of all I'm almost 40 and grew out of partying and drinking at 21. Nothin' I love more than a drunk douchebag breathing alcohol in my face while stammering: "Hey we should swap e-mails and Keep in touch!" Yeah okay, the only thing I'm sending you is a bunch of malware labeled "funny cat pictures lolz". Plus, I'd have more in common with the class of 2011, at least we could talk about video games and Tosh.0. What am I gonna talk about with my class? ...oh yeah SPORTS.  A topic I can only get through taking verbal cues from my buddy Koop via text message... "Dude he asked if I saw the game last night, which game and who won?"

You know, I got my GED in 1996, so I should technically be going to the reunion of the Will County September 1996 GED test group. How do I sign up for that?

"Sent from my iPhone"



It's been a while...

I have a lot of things to talk about, just need to quit being lazy and type them out. You understand, right Sad Bill Cosby?

Sad Bill Cosby, everyone!



Kirk vs. Kirk?

William Shatner vs. Chris Pine



I'm getting way too excited about this

Dang it man, I hate Hollywood. It's turned into a damn joke with it's remakes, re-imaginings, and reboots. So I expect nothing but dog crap when I hear about a Green Lantern movie. But the more I see, the more I get my hopes up, and it's a bad idea. PLEASE Green Lantern, Don't disappoint me like Smallville did for 10 years... (More on that another day)


Peter vs. Mr. Washee Washee

Here's a video clip I found particularly funny from this week's Family Guy. Peter thinks Mr. Washee Washee, the local dry cleaner stole his shirt... Comedy ensues.


This is how the internet ended...

If you're reading this, it means my website has successfully moved to its new host at iPage. For $45 per year I get unlimited bandwidth and hosting, as well as 100% uptime.  Up till now I've been hosting on my server at home for free through No-IP.  So why not stick with free hosting?  Why move to a paid provider?  Well the answer to that riddle is AT&T.

For five years now I've enjoyed unlimited DSL through AT&T.  The service has been mostly good, minor hiccups here and there, but at least it wasn't Comcast.  Comcast, in addition to their horrible prices, service and tech support had started limiting the amount of bandwidth their customers were allowed to use per month.  This bandwidth cap was set to 250GB per month.  For those that don't understand them computer gizmos, GB stands for Gigabytes.  It's a way of measuring data.  250GB can be an enormous amount of data, but also very little data depending on how you USE your data. AT&T was gracious enough to put it in perspective:

Monthly Activity150 GB250 GB
Send/receive one page emails
10,000 emails
10,000 emails
Download/upload a medium resolution photo to social media site like Facebook
3,000 photos
4,000 photos
MP3 Songs downloaded
2,000 songs
3,000 songs
Stream a one-minute YouTube video (standard quality)
Watch hour-long TV Shows (high quality)
100 shows
 -and -
200 shows
 -and -
Stream full length movies (Standard Definition: SD; High Definition: HD)20 SD or 10 HD movies25 SD or 13 HD movies

Guess what I use my internet for a LOT...  Yep HD movies and TV shows.  But who cares, I have AT&T, they don't have any such cap right?  Well starting May 2, 2011, AT&T jumps on the fail train with Comcast and will begin capping their bandwidth as well.  But, not to 250GB like Comcast.  For our hard-earned money we get a 150GB bandwidth cap!  Yep, 100GB LESS than Cockcast.

So how does this affect me and why should I care Radd?  Well my fine feathered friends, if you use your internet for anything other than web, e-mail , or the occasional short YouTube video, you're screwed.  How bad can it be you ask?  Well, AT&T set up a page where you can view your current usage for the past few months: http://myusage.att.com/  Let's look at mine:

As you can see, I'm fucked.  Obviously this month I've gone well above my just under 250GB average because upon hearing about the upcoming cap, I've been stockpiling movies and TV to watch later, and this will continue right up to May 2nd, by which time I hope my massive downloads have started my internet lines on fire.

So at 150GB/mo, I can now download 10 movies per month, and that's as long as I do NOTHING ELSE with my internet all month.  Isn't America great?  So now the entire Chicago area internet is crippled by these greedy Comcast and AT&T assholes.  So long to streaming video services like Netflix in Chicago.  And all this after Comcast imposed outrageous fees on Netflix for bandwidth costs, which Netflix had to pass along to their customers. Apparently Comcast's monopoly on cable internet doesn't make them enough money to get by.  Don't worry though, Comcast's deeds pale in comparison to AT&T...  If you ask AT&T, they'll tell you the cap on internet is because they're running out of bandwidth.  If you ask any network engineer, this is bullshit lie.  AT&T's 150GB/mo cap is only for their DSL customers as an incentive to get them to move up to AT&T Uverse, their new TV/Phone/Internet service, which by the way happens to have a 250GB/mo cap like Comcast...  Hmmm, what a coincidence!  And the 250GB cap on Uverse is completely outrageous, as Uverse is a brand new network still being installed in many neighborhoods, and they're already running out of bandwidth?!  Forgive me for this, but LOL.  
But remember how I said Uverse is a TV/Phone service as well?  What competes with Uverse TV?  Why streaming services like Netflix of course!  What better way to stifle these services and force people to use Uverse TV than to cap the internet in Chicago?

Here's another act of sabotage by AT&T's corporate machine:  They're measuring customers' bandwidth on THEIR end, rather than customer's end, which for technical reasons too complicated to explain here, the numbers are NOT EVEN ACCURATE!  I compared my monthly usage on my router to the monthly usage reports above, and they are off by quite enough to cause me great concern.  So by May 2nd, I have to decide whether to return to Comcast for more accurate reporting and a 250GB cap, or to stay with AT&T and try to change my internet lifestyle. If you've been paying attention, you might be asking why I don't just upgrade to AT&T Uverse to get a 250GB cap.  Well, Uverse isn't available in my area yet.  It's been available for my pal @Olaf330 2 miles away for a while, but not here.  So the ploy by AT&T corporate to get me to upgrade for a higher cap has failed.  I may call and appeal to them to raise my cap to 250GB since I don't have the Uverse option, or I may switch to the slightly lesser of two evils, VERY slightly lesser... Cockcast.

So, to bring my latest crybaby rant full-circle, I switched my website to a paid web host to save bandwidth.  Hosting my website at home costs bandwidth, which before was no problem at all...  But internet bandwidth is now a precious commodity...  Or so the elders of the internet would have you believe.

So thanks for ruining the internets, evil corporate executives.  I hope you die in a fire.  This is why I'll never be successful, I'm not evil enough.  Signing off to get to work on that immediately... 


New Wonder Woman Fixed (UPDATE)

The Internet got a hold of the first picture of Adrianne Palicki in costume for David E. Kelley's upcoming Wonder Woman TV series. I don't like it, so I fixed it. Hover (or click) the image below to see my suggested changes as a respected comic book nerd (details of changes below the image):

She's a good lookin girl, got no problem with her look, but the costume has problems. First of all, we all know Wonder Woman has RED boots... fixed. I'm cool with going from the traditional shorts to pants, the new Wonder Woman comics have her in pants. But come on, use the right color pants! Fixed. The whole costume is way too shiny, FIXED! Toned down the lipstick so she no longer looks like a goddamn clown too.

That took me fifteen minutes in Photoshop, surely you can do better with your millions of dollars, Hollywood.

UPDATE 4.1.11:

Thanks to Koop for passing along this news - The following set photo has appeared online:

It's as if they read my blog...  SO GLAD someone acted on this one.  Too bad NBC will cancel it after 10 episodes, but still, good effort.  Thank you to whomever made this change!


SCEA vs. The World

I am finding the evolution of this story absolutely fascinating! For those that don't follow video game news, there is a major uproar happening right now in the world of Sony PlayStation.

There's a fellow by the name of George Hotz, who goes by the online handle Geohot.  He's a well known hacker, and considered by many to be one of the best.  I first became aware of him for his work with the iPhone.  He was one of a few people responsible for "unlocking" the iPhone, which allowed the owner to use it on carriers other than AT&T.  Why would someone want to do this?  Because as experience has taught us, competition is good for the consumer. If someone has a monopoly on goods or services, it basically gives them license to do whatever they want.  As the only carrier offering the iPhone, AT&T can offer only the features they choose to offer and charge whatever they want for those features.  What can the consumer do about it?  Unlock their iPhone to use on another carrier of course!  This is what Geohot made possible.

In addition to using the iPhone on other carriers, you can also download apps on an alternate app store that aren't sanctioned by Apple or AT&T.  Why would you want to do this?  There are hacker apps that give you complete control over the look and feel of the iPhone operating system, or give you the ability to use your iPhone as a storage device to copy files from one computer to another like a USB flash drive, or even to use the iPhone as an internet tether, giving you access to the 3G network on your laptop on the go.

You see, in my opinion, I own the device.  Right?  I mean I went to the store and dropped $200.  It's my phone, not Apple's not AT&T's.  I'm not renting or leasing the phone, so I should be able to use it in any manner I see fit, regardless of whether the manufacturer "approves" of it.  Does it void my warranty?  Yup!  Do I care?  Nope! Why not?  Look back on past experience, have you ever gotten anyone to honor a warranty without them trying to weasel out of it with some legalese or loophole like "wear and tear parts" or "that behavior is by design"?  I used to be on a tech support hotline at an electronics manufacturer, I know all the tricks, okay? Warranties equal the worth of a turd nowadays so I voided mine a week after I purchased my iPhone, it's my right as a consumer and an American.  Is this a controversial view?  Fine, call me controversial!  I did a similar hack to my original Xbox, and now every night I enjoy movies streamed from my server on it.  Can the Xbox do cool stuff like that out of the box?  Nope!  And it's all thanks to hackers like Geohot.

Thank God for the appearance of devices like the Droid and Verizon iPhone, there is finally some competition for AT&T which will hopefully give them some incentive to, oh I dunno, improve their network just a little so EVERY SINGLE one of my calls doesn't get dropped. Anyway I'm way off track, what does this have to do with PlayStation?  Well if you'd shut up for a minute I'll tell you.  So Geohot eventually retired from the iOS scene (iPhone Operating System), which has since been taken over by others and is still going strong.  He then turned his attention to the PlayStation 3.  Now the PS3 has long been known for being the last untouched and fully secure system out there.  It's been around for over 4 years and has remained un-hackable.  Geohot began work on PS3 in late 2009, and in a mere five weeks he had it hacked.

Now a bit of history here.  First thing you should know is that the PS3 is a powerful piece of hardware and it was thought by many that it could do more than just play games.  Even Sony thought this in the beginning and provided a feature called OtherOS.  This allowed you to install an operating system (like Linux) to use the PS3 for, well whatever you wanted to use it for.  In 2009, Sony released an updated and slimmer model of the PS3.  It no longer included the OtherOS feature.  This was unfortunate but ultimately fine with most people who would just keep their original PS3 which still had the OtherOS feature.  Shortly after, Sony released a firmware update for the original PS3 which disabled OtherOS permanently and without warning.  According to Sony this made the PS3 "more secure".  This outraged the PlayStation community, many of whom lost data on their Linux partition and spawned a class action lawsuit against Sony.  If you chose not to accept the firmware update, then you were no longer allowed to access any of the PlayStation Network online services.  One of the first things Geohot did as part of his early PS3 hack was to re-implement OtherOS.

On January 3rd, 2011, Geohot publicly released the hardware encryption key to the PS3 on his website, in effect allowing anyone to run software not authorized by Sony.  On January 12th, Sony filed a lawsuit against him for violation of the DMCA, computer fraud, and copyright infringement.  In the month that's passed since then, Sony has done some things that just amaze, delight and disappoint me all at the same time.  Sony is now the equivalent of "child with rich parents who got made fun of on the playground".  They've released firmware after firmware to patch the holes Geohot has found in the system to no avail.  They filed a restraining order against Geohot, forbidding him from distributing any further information on the hack.  They made a legal motion to get a hold of Geohot's personal PC, to analyse all the data he's accumulated.  Geohot was told by a judge he had to hand over the PC, and "don't delete anything" before handing it over.  The judge then told Sony "Only look at data on the PC relating to the case".  Well that all seems completely iron clad to me! (that was sarcasm).  What a waste of taxpayer dollars.  Sony's next motion in the case was to demand that Google hand over the IP addresses of everyone who watched Geohot's YouTube video on how to implement the PS3 hack.  Google advised Sony in not so many words to "fuck off", and in turn so did the judge.

Sony has now turned its attention to the rest of its end-users, raising several privacy red flags in the process.  The hacking community has uncovered some of the information that is transferred to Sony when you log on to PlayStation Network.  This includes what devices that are connected to your PS3, the information in your USB drives, the type of TV you have connected, just about any information it can find.  In addition, your credit card information is sent in plain text.  Awesome.  In addition, they've recently updated the terms of service to include this wonderful bit:

Yep, they can monitor everything you say and do and your location when you said and did it.  They can also enable and disable whatever features they see fit without warning.  The following is a direct quote from Sony:
  • A Playstation is a combination of hardware and software that ‘is functioning properly in accordance with SCEA guidelines’. The hardware is warranted to run free from defects for a year. The software and firmware (the operating system) only has to function in accordance with SCEA guidelines. This can change at any time and may be automatically changed, changed if the hardware is repaired or changed if a user-installed upgrade is accepted by the user. The purchaser has no right to expect any features provided by software or firmware to continue for the period within which the hardware remains functional.

    SCEA reserve the right to destroy any data, content, functionality or usability automatically without warning the user. This may also happen with warnings and as a result of actions taken at the same time as any service or repair of hardware is undertaken.

    SCEA do not warrantee that the PS3 will continue to play Blu-ray discs, play games online through the PSN, play new PS3 authorised software, play old PS3 authorised software or play any software without explicit authorisation from SCEA. Neither does SCEA warrantee that any authorised games or services, subscription or otherwise, will be available to the owner at any time after purchase.
I don't know about you, but I see a couple of very bad things when I read that.  First, I don't seem to own the PlayStation 3 I paid $500 for.  It sounds more like a rental to me.  Second, I need to use that rental the way it was intended, or Sony can disable it's features at any time, one by one without warning me.  They've already done this twice, first with backward compatibility with PS1/PS2 titles, and then OtherOS.  So what is a PlayStation 3 that can't play Blu-Ray discs or software titles?  Why a very expensive paperweight of course!  In addition, they can deactivate all of my PSN subscriptions and purchases at any time and I would have no legal grounds to get my money back.

So needless to say, this case has really opened my eyes to some things I really should've paid attention to before.  It's typical of companies nowadays to ask you to agree to lengthy agreements that you simply don't have the time to read through in detail.  How many times have you just said "ok" or "I agree" without reading all the legalese?  I know I do it almost daily when I install software, sign up for a service, or for example when I joined Facebook.  I've never read the Facebook terms, and when I do, I bet there'll be another blog about how pissed off I am at them as well.  When you take the time to read and really understand what you agree to when you click "I agree", it's quite amazing what companies are getting away with nowadays.  You don't own anything you've purchased, and anyone can monitor your activities anytime without explanation.  And since you clicked, "I agree" there's nothing you can do about it, because... you agreed to it.

So now Sony has begun banning people from PlayStation Network who are using any type of unlicensed software on their PS3.  This doesn't really matter to me, I unplugged my PS3 from the internet as soon as I began following this story.  But to me, banning people from PSN is a bonehead move on Sony's part.  If you're all pissed off that people might start pirating your software, then is it really a good idea to ban them from the only place you might make a few bucks off of them in the form of PSN titles and downloadable content for existing titles?  You're only opening the door for piracy on downloadables as well.  Mark my words, and mark them well:  The next generation Sony console will require an internet connection or a telephone call to "activate" all software titles a-la Microsoft Windows.

Unfortunately, as is always the case in all matters of the universe, nobody learns anything from past history.  Let's look at the original Xbox as an example.  When the original Xbox became compromised, Microsoft quickly cut their losses and released the Xbox 360 with a much tougher security scheme.  Sony's next best move would be to get PS4 out the door as quickly as possible.  As for PS3, the battle against piracy was over the moment George Hotz released the hardware key.  While Geohot himself is not a pirate, and actually speaks out against piracy, he surely knew that his actions would ultimately lead to piracy on PlayStation 3.  On the flip side of that coin, I can't help but feel that Sony is bullying him and using him as an example to send a message to hackers and their end-users at large that they will not tolerate folks who don't update to the latest firmware on their PS3.  I really hope Hotz wins the lawsuit, because I hate bullies.  But more importantly I hope a win by Hotz sends a message to Sony and other companies that write lengthy terms and conditions that we consumers have had enough of their shit.  While I write this I just read a rumor that Sony is preparing to release a new build of the PS3 with new hardware encryption, which will eventually be unlocked by the next up-and-coming hacker.

Don't get me wrong here, I definitely believe that Sony has the right to protect it's intellectual property.  But I think it can be done without threatening their end users with ultimatums and invading their privacy.  Here's the last message I received from Sony before permanently unplugging my PS3 from the internet:
  • Notice: Unauthorized circumvention devices for the
    PlayStation(R)3 system have been recently released by
    hackers for the PlayStation(R)3 system. These devices
    permit the use of unauthorized or pirated software.
    Use of such devices or software violates the terms
    of your "System Software License Agreement for the
    PlayStation(R)3 System" and the "Terms of Services
    and User Agreement" for the PlayStation(R)Network/
    Qriocity(TM) and its Community Code of Conduct provisions.
    In addition, copying or playing pirated software is
    a violation of International Copyright Laws.
    A circumvention device and/or unauthorized or pirated
    software currently resides on your PlayStation(R)3 system.
    Immediately cease use and remove all circumvention devices
    and delete all unauthorized or pirated software from your
    PlayStation(R)3 system. Failure to do so will result in
    termination of your access to the PlayStation(R)Network
    and access to Qriocity(TM) services through your
    PlayStation(R)3 system.

Go ahead and ban me.  I care about playing video games, not connecting to online services.  I'm an old man who has no need to pwn n00bs to make myself feel better.  I enjoy the challenge of figuring things out, I enjoy beta testing, reverse-engineering and using things in a manner not originally intended.  Taking things apart, tinkering and trying to break them and fix them is what keeps me going.  As I stated in regard to the iPhone, If I spend $500 on a PS3, then it's my right to immediately take it outside and run it over with my Jeep, or cook brats on it if that's what I see fit.  Whether that's the manner of intended use for the PS3 or not, again it's my money.  So no Sony, I DON'T agree to the terms and conditions anymore.  And I've disabled your ability to check up on "your" system.  You want to look up the IP address of this blog and sue me, fine.  I wouldn't put it past a company who wanted to sue people for watching a YouTube video.  I already know free speech is out the window, but you're not gonna get much I assure you.  Video games consistently make more per year than the music and movie industries and aren't going anywhere.  At the end of the day when all is said and done, your board of directors will still have access to their executive bathrooms and private jets whether software piracy exists in the world or not, and it will always exist.

I haven't pirated anything yet, but the way you treat your end-users makes me want to.  Keep that in mind Sony.

Update 2.23.11:  Police and Sony reps have raided the home of another well known PS3 hacker. Also, SCEA job postings have been updated to include Senior Paralegal, Anti-Piracy and Brand Protection, and Senior Corporate Counsel for Anti-Piracy and Brand Protection. Looks like they're forming an anti-piracy brigade!

Further reading:


My latest video game review

I found it to be long-winded and not as funny as it thinks.


2011 Blizzard - Chicago Suburbs Style!

So the worst snowstorm in memory came and went through Chicagoland last night.  It brought over a foot of snow with drifts in my yard up to four feet.  There was thunder and lightning during the worst of the storm, I've never seen such a thing.  The lightning reflected off the falling snow and lit up the air with bright blue/green light.  I went out for a Jeep joyride, but experienced no joy, only terror and horror.  For the first time ever, I gave up and drove home as the whiteout conditions and lack of a distinguishable road made it impossible to continue.  I spent four hours the next morning shoveling, and I'm now too sore to do anything but type this text.  I snapped some photos of my snowy doom for all to see here.


My Time at Sendai: A Former EGM Editor Speaks - Part 3

In case you were brought here by Google, or otherwise missed Parts 1 and 2, start here.  Congratulations for making it to Part 3!  I'll now assume you're either over 30 years old, or you know me personally.  I can't see any young gamers being remotely interested in any of this.  So if you find yourself saying "Dude, I wanna read about "Shoe" or Seanbaby, not these geriatric assholes I've never heard of! Eff this "Rodd" guy and his basement or whatever, I'm gonna go run around in a drab environment and shout obscenities at people I don't know online, while scoring a headshot and teabag…", then this blog post is probably not for you. Anyway…

Here Comes a New Challenger (or two)

So just like Martin had done for me, I was now trying to get MY friends into Sendai.  First was my buddy Danyon Carpenter.  I invited him and Mark Sarnecki come to visit the office one Saturday, again just like Martin had done for me.  I cleared this beforehand with Ed Semrad, and he allowed us to enjoy a day of gaming and junk food from the Sendai vending machines.  Of course the EGM office had the arcade version of Street Fighter II, a Neo-Geo upright arcade cabinet, as well as an all-in-one upright arcade cabinet with a built in subwoofer and connectors for any game system.  Not to mention multiples of every console known to man.  So any gamer going in there couldn't help but have the time of his life.  Plus they both had a chance to meet Ed and more importantly, Ed had a chance to meet them.

Apparently they'd made a good impression.  Before long, Danyon was on board, and Mark followed not long after, but not before passing initiation.  To get into Sendai, you had to play one of the most frustrating games ever and write a review afterward.  This tested both your gaming expertise and patience as well as writing ability.  Well, it wasn't really required; it was just fun to do to noobs (a word that didn't exist back then).  The game of course was Super Ghouls & Ghosts on SNES.  If you're saying right now, "What?  That game's not that hard…" then you're a liar and should shut up.  In any case, they both passed.

The Sendai crew, early 1992 posing for the National Enquirer
It was nice to have them on board, the three of us as (well as the whole EGM crew) were really a tight group, we all ate lunch together which was usually spent at the greasiest fast food place in town for about two hours, or sometimes at the local Enchanted Castle arcade.  Occasionally we'd go to the nearby Yorktown mall EB Games, to lord our awesomeness over the clerks there. It was easy to become a total asshole when you were young, rich and an EGM editor.  It was for me anyway.  Or maybe I'm always an asshole…  Since we spent so much time together, sometimes driving each other crazy, we usually opted to part ways after hours.  I believe I visited Mike Vallas' house a few times, and spent the night at Trickman's house once, playing R-Type on Amiga all night. 

EGM 31 Cover - 2/92
The Novelty Wears Off

It wasn't all sunshine and rainbows; I was 18 years old, with very little street smarts or knowledge of the corporate world.  Now here I was, learning how moving from three staples in the magazine to two staples saves the company thousands of dollars per month, and why we're now moving from staples to binding, and the pros and cons of 9 point text vs. 10 point text.  I'd just gotten my "raise" after having gone to salary, and I was feeling a bit of a sting.  As I said, when I asked why my salary was less than before, I never got a straight answer.  The answer I was given, and I quote Ed Semrad, "Well if you don't like it, go get a job flippin' burgers, guy!"  I had finally figured out what was going on here.  This was a fantastic scam they had going.  Get a bunch of kids to come in here drooling over video games and working for peanuts, and if they complain, threaten to kick 'em out into the real world where their only chance to survive WOULD be to flip burgers.  Very clever.  From a business standpoint, it was genius.  Suddenly playing video games for money wasn't fun anymore.  It was a job.  Once the reality set in that they didn't seem to care about me, my job performance went downhill fast.  While before I had stayed late hours and asked Ed for more work when I was finished with my assigned projects, now I was leaving at 5PM and enjoying weekends off.

This was compounded by an incident where Steve came into the office late one night around the holidays and offered a $500 bill to everyone who happened to be in attendance and called it a "Christmas bonus".  The speculation was that he was intoxicated, but I wasn't there.  Word spread quickly the next day, and those of us who didn't get the bonus lodged a complaint, because it didn't seem fair that some people got a bonus.  They deserved it for working late?  "Hey, we all busted our asses to meet deadline at one time or another" was the general consensus.  So we were begrudgingly cut checks, with tax taken out of course, so we ended up with about $360.

The peak of my frustration with the job occurred when we began to be assigned all of the pages on the pagination that had been assigned to Ed, in addition to our own pages.  We'd worked many late hours, and this was the week in particular that I worked the infamous 36-hour shift.  That's where you work 24 hours straight without going home, sleep in the closet for a few hours, then wake up and work another 12 hours, then drive home and not even remember going from your car to your bed, then sleeping for 15 hours in your own bed and returning to work mid-afternoon the next day to meet a four-magazine deadline.  At the end of this ordeal, a meeting was called, and we were chastised for slacking off and not meeting the deadline.  They asked what we've been doing all week, and were met with silence.  As I looked around and realized nobody was going to say anything, I finally said "It's because we're doing all Ed's work." 

Portable Guy

While I was praised by Steve for standing up and sticking up for everyone, it came as no surprise to me that after this incident, I was assigned the absolute worst games that came rolling through the office.  These were terrible, awful things, which could barely be called games, hand-picked by Ed, just for me.  And where were all of the lamest, worst games to play?  Why, on the portable systems of course!  So I became "Portable Guy".  As part of my punishment, I was forced to use the two most horrible tools known to exist.  The Wide Boy and the Wide Gear. 

I hate you, Wide Boy
Both devices allowed video to be passed from a portable gaming device to a television or in our case, video capture card in a Mac.  This was before the days of emulation, or the Super Game Boy and GameCube Game Boy adapter.  The Wide Boy was of course for use with Nintendo Game Boy cartridges and The Wide Gear was for Sega Game Gear cartridges.  These were not devices you could buy in any store and in fact seemed to be custom built prototypes thrown together just to get the job done.  Both devices consisted of an open circuit board with no protective casing.  What I learned eventually was that electronic devices have protective cases to protect not only the circuitry, but also protect the user from death.  These devices were a nightmare to use, both of them would reset and/or spark if moved or otherwise breathed on a certain way.  More than once I received a decent shock from both the Wide Boy and the Wide Gear.  Unfortunately I had to get used to it, because it was now my way of life thanks to my big mouth.

One time I spilled Orange Crush into EGMs irreplaceable Wide Boy, a secret which I kept to myself whenever anyone asked why the buttons on the Wide Boy were sticky.  It wouldn't be the last time I almost destroyed irreplaceable property at Sendai.  There was another time while everyone was away at CES, and the few of us that remained at the office became bored. SO, I brought the Jamma board from my recently purchased Super Contra arcade cabinet to plug into the Street Fighter II machine.  Again, this was before emulation; you had to have some hardware to play arcade games, which EGM had in abundance.  After we'd finished playing Super Contra, we plugged the Street Fighter II Jamma back in, and found that some of the controls weren't functioning.  We eventually realized the leads on the Super Contra Jamma were filthy, and we just needed to clean the connector before plugging Street Fighter II back in.  Unfortunately this discovery was made after I'd already soiled myself in fear I'd ruined the Street Fighter II machine.

CGR 11/91 Cover
The David White Conspiracy

Eventually I came to know and form a friendship with the guys at EGM's cousin magazine, Computer Game Review.  David White was the Senior Editor of CGR, basically the equivalent to Ed Semrad at EGM.  I found Dave to much more personable and accessible than any of the other managers at Sendai, he was easy to talk to and we shared a love of Star Trek.  Dave even took me to my first Star Trek convention which we attended with the other guys from CGR.  Unfortunately for me, Dave and Steve Harris would butt heads from time to time regarding certain aspects of CGR.  I learned that their working relationship had become strained, and one day I was finally told by Martin that Steve didn't like the fact that I was hanging out with Dave.  I knew they didn't get along, but what business was it of Steve's who I was hanging out with?

I didn't blame Martin. Of course Steve would never talk to me directly, and Martin was just doing what he was asked to do.  I told Martin I didn't really understand what my hanging out with Dave had to do with anything, and to let Steve know that it was my business who I hung out with outside of work.  This turned out to be a big mistake and was probably the second to last nail in my coffin.  Dave was let go not too long after that in what he described as "an argument over 9 vs 10 point text in CGR."  I lost contact with him after that which was a shame.

Fast forward briefly… About a year after I was fired from Sendai, I had the opportunity to attend the 1993 Consumer Electronics show here in Chicago (before E3 existed, all the latest video games were shown at CES).  It was an event that wasn't open to the public, but I was able to attend because my friend Scott Parus created a pretend company called "New Age Publishing" which allowed us to sign up for press passes to get in to CES.  While at CES I had an awkward encounter with Ed, who was of course there with Sendai.  He expressed very obvious sarcasm in stating he was glad I had an opportunity to attend the show.  And then made a point to bring attention to my press badge and say "Oh, New Age Publishing!  More like Dave White Publishing right?"  I just smiled and said "Ok, bye.", and walked away thinking, "Fuck off, Ed."

JAPAN – The Final Nail

Okay, back to the present, er past.  So now Ed had it in for me for ratting him out at the deadline meeting, and now Steve thought Dave and I were trying to undermine him somehow.  I had a feeling my time at Sendai was becoming short, maybe I'd gone too far basically telling Steve (via Martin) to mind his own business.  But I felt I was in the right defending my friendship with Dave.  There was no plot afoot at least that I was aware of.

Let me remind you at this point that all of this is based on my point of view at the time.  Just gut-feelings and vibes I felt.  I will never know how Ed and Steve really felt about me, nor at this point does it matter.  I'm just telling the story as I recall it.  And maybe my radar was completely out of whack, because it was at this point that I was chosen to go on the yearly trip to Japan with Ed.  If they weren't happy with me, would they send me to Japan?  But then again I was technically next in line, maybe it was just my turn, again I'll never know or care.

I was very nervous and excited at the prospect, and grateful for such an amazing opportunity.  Unfortunately, through a horrible lack of a sense of direction, (before the days of GPS, my current savior in all matters of driving), I got lost three times trying to get to the place I need to go to get my passport, so I was cutting the deadline close to be prepared to leave.  At the very same time, things were getting bad at home between my parents.  It was looking like a divorce was imminent.  And since I'd never learned how to manage my money, I still lived with my parents, and this was something I had to deal with firsthand every day.  All of this happening together was very stressful to say the least, and a couple nights before the trip, I was contacted at home by Ed.  He asked if I'd gotten my passport yet.  I could tell Steve was in the room, because every time I gave an answer to a question, I was put on hold.  I told Ed I had not gotten the passport yet, I had trouble finding the place and was dealing with some heavy matters at home.  After being put on hold again, Ed returned to say that Steve was coming to pick me up in a limo to take me where I needed to go.  I decided that this was just too much to handle.  I wasn't ready for this responsibility at this point in my life, and it was more important to me to be at home during this time.  I let Ed know how grateful I was for the opportunity, and apologized for my meandering on the matter, but declined to take the trip at this time.  I was put on hold again, and after a short five seconds Ed returned to say "Come in tomorrow and we'll work out the details." Puzzled, I replied, "Details of what?" Ed responded, "Your termination of employment." All I could say was, "Okay?" Ed very quickly shot back "Goodbye!" and hung up.

When I arrived the next day, I was advised by Ed that I would have to pay back the cost of the non-refundable plane ticket that was purchased in my name.  I laughed and said it was going to be a little tough without a job.  Ed let me know a bill would be sent.  To date I have never received it.  Either the multi-million dollar company was somehow able to weather the cost, or it got lost in the mail.

Catch you next month for those last two, Ed.
From EGM 35 - 6/92
End of a Short Era

I look back and realize that at the time, I wasn't ready for any of this.  It was a terrible first job for me to have.  I learned no responsibility; my first life lesson into adulthood was that you don't have to work hard.  Just drop out of high school and you can be a successful editor for a national magazine.  I was terrible with my money, and never learned how to manage it.  I thought I was better than other people, and turned into an asshole.  This is what happens to people who make a ton of money at a young age, and never learn the important lesson I learned after I was fired from Sendai.  That lesson was humility.  Although I missed the people and the environment, getting fired was the best thing for me at that time.  As I gathered my things from my desk in a haze of disbelief, I wouldn't understand that lesson.  It wouldn't be until years later when maturity set in that I'd really get it and appreciate the path my life took.  As I slung my backpack over my back for the last time and said goodbye to my friends, I turned to leave and locked eyes with Steve in the hallway.  An awkward encounter for both of us I'm sure.  He looked at me as if to say, "You have something you'd like to say to me?"  Somehow, somewhere in the back of my mind, I knew it wasn't worth saying anything, positive or negative.  I could tell him what I thought of him at the time, or I could plead for my job back.  But in the end, neither was good for me right now.  Somehow I knew that turning and walking away was the right decision.  Eventually I watched from afar as each of my friends were either fired, or quit because they couldn't take it anymore.  The few who toughed it out and stayed on were rewarded for their hard work by being let go when Steve Harris Sold EGM to Ziff-Davis, in favor of college-educated people who could be paid startup wages.  I made the right choice that day.  So, playing video games for money; not as glamourous as you might think.

As I mentioned, I attended Lutheran school as a youth.  I believe the most important thing I learned there was the golden rule, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you".  If you don't get it, it just means don't be a dick.  I show the utmost respect to everyone I meet, and I don't think it's too much to ask for a little respect in return, even from people who employ me.  This was the first job I lost to my stubbornness in holding to this belief, and it certainly would not be the last.

Look Closely... From EGM 21 - 4/91
I would just like to say that I didn't write this blog to discredit anyone, or out of some sort of vengeance or spite.  I'm simply recounting the events as I remember them.  In order to tell the complete story, I chose to recount the good as well as the bad.  I wrote this blog simply for the sake of telling an interesting story that happened to me once, which most people won't ever be able to experience.  I don't blame anyone or hold any grudges, in the end it was my own stubbornness that led to the end of my career at Sendai.  I have nothing but respect for Steve Harris as the man who created EGM, and the man who again holds the reins there.  He's a great businessman, but in a boss/employee relationship, we weren't a good fit.  Given the opportunity, would I do this again?  Probably not.  Gaming is different now, and I'm in the minority when it comes to what's hot and what's not.  I'll take a game of Pac-Man CE DX over a game of Black Ops any day.  A disembodied hand holding various weapons in a drab environment is not a video game, people!

Although there were ups and downs, the day to day enjoyment of the environment and the people is what I remember and miss most.  I was very fortunate that I was able to work with three of my close friends, and the rest of my co-workers were unique and amazing people who became my friends.  Again, gaming has changed.  My experience would be impossible to repeat today.  Nobody would dare hire someone to a position like mine without a journalism, desktop publishing or graphic design degree.  Reading this, you can see how very lucky I was that the circumstances fell into place the way they did.  I was able to work on EGM during what I consider to be the golden age of gaming, and I helped make an indelible mark on popular culture.  I was given the opportunity to learn some amazing skills which I still use to this very day to design this blog.  You won't see my name when you look up any past history of EGM, and I like it that way.  I know my role in the grand scheme, and I'm proud to have played it.

In Closing...

EGM/Gaming FM crews, SF Tourney 2001
So what happened after Sendai?  Well I've been everywhere from the top of the mountain, to the bottom of the barrel. Right now, I exist somewhere in the middle and that's fine with me.  Thanks to the greatest wife in the world, I did eventually get my GED five years after high school, graduating in the top 10% nationally which I remain proud of.  Along with Mark and Danyon we co-founded Gaming FM, an internet radio station that played video game soundtracks.  The story of Gaming FM is one for perhaps another day.  I do still have contact with most of the Sendai crew, Mark, Danyon and I live within five minutes of each other.  I don't see any of the other guys nearly as often as I'd like.  We did get together a couple of times to have Street Fighter tournaments at Mark's house, and we were reunited more recently at the funeral of fellow Sendai staffer Andy Baran, which I spoke about before. Wives and/or children are the priority now, but hopefully another Sendai reunion opportunity will present itself soon.

The Sendai Crew 2009 - Andy's Memorial
One last thing before I close…  I tried to remember of all the "little moments" my old brain could come up with during my short, but unforgettable time at Sendai Publishing Group, to give you an idea of what it was like to be there day to day.  I will never forget any of those people, whether I got along with them or not.  Despite everything, I look back on Sendai as a positive experience and I worked with some pretty awesome dudes!  So I leave you with my EGM memories, in no particular order:

  • Steve Harris announcing in his typical deadpan style, "We'll be having a Christmas Party. If I'm feeling jovial."
  • Steve walking in with a copy of a rival magazine who had just filed chapter 11 bankruptcy, and shouting "CHAPTER 11!" over and over as he tore pages out of the magazine and threw them about.
  • Watching Steve type.  The man typed faster than any human I'd ever seen, without errors.  The computer would spend 30 seconds catching up.
  • Mark Sarnecki scanning his middle finger, printing it out and hanging it on his cubicle wall, only to have Steve discover it and state, "That's pretty funny.  Waste of resources, but funny."
  • Ed Semrad walking into the office with an optical disk in his hand, forgetting why he came in and returning to his desk at least three times per day.
  • Ed calling every Japanese game "Stupid Ninja Kids" when he wasn't sure of the proper title.
  • Ed calling everybody "Guy".  Everybody.
  • Being asked by Ed to clean the basement storage cages out, and being specifically told to throw all the old junk in the dumpster. Then pulling our cars up and filling our trunks with ridiculous amounts of swag.
  • Ed's love of burnt popcorn and stinking up the office to enjoy it from the microwave.
  • Ed walking around the office in socks, and Danyon copying the behavior, prompting us to start calling Danyon "Ed Jr." for a while.
  • Danyon getting angry whenever we called him Ed Jr, and stating each time either "You will have no tires." or "You will die.", and then Trickman mimicking him while pushing an invisible pair of glasses up the bridge of his nose.
  • Mark and I changing Danyon's screensaver to random items we scanned around the office, like a bottle of Windex, a toilet paper roll, an image of Nintendo World Champion Thor Aackerlund, and some action figure.  Danyon told on us. 
  • Martin writing a song about my fear of driving in the snow. I'm not reciting the lyrics, although I do remember them.
  • Andy Baran doing something really funny while I pretended to be annoyed, and then laughing my ass off after he left.  I miss Andy.
  • Mike Vallas introducing us to anime through a lend of Project A-Ko which Danyon, Trickman and I watched at Mark's house. Changed our lives. 127 panty shots.
  • Vallas' PERFECT impression of "Guy sitting on crate" in Guile's Street Fighter II stage.
  • Martin, Trickman, Mark and I taking a road trip to Martin's aunt's farm in Wisconsin, listening to video game soundtracks the whole ride. 
  • Martin throwing an empty box at me that he pretended was heavy.
  • Paper clip fight, turning into rubber band fight, turning into pen fight, turning into eraser fight, turning into EGM back issue fight.
  • Mark throwing everyone's jacket from the back of their chair onto to the floor.
  • Whenever an optical disk went bad, we'd stick on a Post-It labeled "Corrupt" so we knew not to save to it.  It then became common to come back from lunch or the bathroom to find that someone had marked your mouse, mouse pad, computer, monitor, TV, game systems and even your soda can "corrupt" as well.
  • Eating LOTS of junk food and soda from the snack machine.
  • Mark and I sticking SNES EEPROMs all over Danyon's cubicle walls.
  • Mark and Vallas recreating the basement break room in exact detail, but inside one of the locked storage cages.  The people in the other suites loved us.
  • Mark slipping into a meeting room in the next suite during a presentation to sneak donuts. Again, people in the other suites, just so happy to have us.
  • Mark jumping up and down in the elevator and setting off the emergency alarm.
  • Various people sleeping behind the Neo-Geo machine, in closets, or under cubicles.
  • Ken Williams' computer playing the last boss music from Streets of Rage  every hour.
  • For Sendai staffers only: "HI I'M EDNA, YOU GONNA EAT THAT?",  "HIPPO!", and "I FOUND MY LUCKY POT!"
  • And finally, playing "Mega CD title screen" with our mouse pads.  You can too, it's simple.  Just watch the video below, hold your mouse pad in front of you and follow along.  You have to sing the song though too.

I actually got a little choked up writing that list.  Congraduration! See you next! Huge Success! Thank you to the father of American Karate, All your base, and all that.

-Ray (Radd) Price (Not the country singer)