Tuesday, June 26, 2007

I've Entered The HD World - VU42LF

I did it, I’ve finally ventured into the HD world. Vizio’s new VU42LF combined with Costco’s $200 off coupon was too much for me to bear. I’ve been planning this purchase for quite a while now and yesterday morning I finally went out and got it. Unfortunately I had an entire day of work ahead of me with my thoughts turning back to the tv every five minutes.

Oh quick note, be sure to always carefully measure the transporting vehicle for both final storage as well as getting the box into the car. I ended up with about six inches between my chest and the steering wheel, not exactly a comfortable position.

Some discomfort driving was worth it though. Last night I was like the proverbial kid on Christmas. I got everything hooked up, calibrated the display using the handy dandy THX Optimizer from my copy of Clone Wars, and basked in 1080P goodness.

I popped Gears of War into the 360 and it was amazing. DVDs were upscaled nicely too. The wife was happy about her tv channels coming in crystal clear. Of course CBS is only available in fuzzy analog (darn indoor antenna). Strangely enough, Fox has a digital channel here that runs music videos all day and there are several channels of something called ION which I’ve never even heard of before.

Friday, June 22, 2007

15 Things I'd Say to My High School Self

Lazy Man's dream inspired him to post Fifteen Things I’d Like To Say to High School Lazy Man. He had so many great points that I decided to run through the exercise myself.

15. Don’t max out that credit card when you’re 18. A $5,000 credit limit gets charged up a lot quicker than it gets paid off on a PFC’s salary.

14. Don’t stop by that girl’s house to pick her up for the DEP meeting. She won’t be there and the detour will expose you to a drunk driver who will hit you head-on.

13. Go out with your friends more often or else you’ll regret it later in life.

12. A better way to spend the money from your high school jobs would be to buy domain names. Buy as many as possible because they'll eventually make you a nice profit.

11. I know Amy O. appears to be out of your league; but she has a huge crush on you. Ask her out ASAP because otherwise all she’ll do is drop hints that go way over your head.

10. Try out for the football team, don’t say that you’re too small and end up waiting until the Marine Corps to discover that you’re actually pretty good at the game.

9. Ensure that Meka knows that driving while tired can have dire consequences and make her promise you that she won’t ever do it.

8. You can do a lot more in foreign countries than drinking and partying.

7. While you’re living in Hawaii, buy a motorcycle instead of that crappy car. It’s going to break down anyway and it will be a few years before you learn to ride if you don’t do it while you’re in Hawaii.

6. Don’t worry about what people in high school think about you because you won’t see more than a few of them afterwards. Besides, you’re better liked than you think. Most of them don’t even care that you’re poor.

5. Double-check your enlistment contract and point out to your recruiter that he “forgot” to put the Marine Corps College Fund in there. If you sign it before it’s in there you can kiss that benefit goodbye.

4. Demand that your mother introduces you to your biological father. All the leads will be dead ends if you wait too long.

3. You’ll fall in love with Judo and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, don’t wait until your twenties to find good instructors.

2. While you're home on leave from boot camp buy a lotto ticket for The Big Game that covers November 26, 1999, with the numbers 17, 21, 22, 33, 38 and 34 as the special number.

1. You will have a beautiful daughter and a loving wife. Follow the previous bit of advice so that you can enjoy your time with them instead of always working.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Xbox Live Account - Original to 360 Migration

I recently bought a 360 and even though I originally planned to delay my play until I got our new TV on Monday, I just couldn’t wait that long. Unfortunately, Microsoft believes that neither I nor anyone else should be able to use the online name that I’ve been using for seven years.

You see, I made the mistake (in Microsoft’s eyes) of never paying for my old Xbox Live account with a credit card. So now, according to the various employees at 1-800-4MY-XBOX, my old gamertag is in limbo. It can’t be recovered, nor will it ever be deleted. It will simply be a place holder on their servers, never to be released into the wild.

The biggest question in my mind is what purpose does this serve? I can’t see how it makes anything easier on their part and according to the supervisor I talked to, it infuriates a number of customers.

Do they realize how much some gamers identify with their handles? Being told that the name I use for my online identification had me seriously considering the return of over $600 worth of merchandise, including a 360 Elite that had me calling every electronics store within a 100 mile radius. I didn’t return it and I’m not threatening to; but they forced me to think about it.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Censorship Hits Manhunt 2

“Censorship always defeats its own purpose, for it creates in the end the kind of society that is incapable of exercising real discretion.” - Henry Steele Commager

"Censorship is telling a man he can't have a steak just because a baby can't chew it."
- Mark Twain

It’s always amazed me that some people think that they should have the right to tell others adults what they can and cannot view. First it was books, then movies, and now videogames. Due to their ratings board refusing to issue a rating, Manhunt 2 will be banned from being sold in the UK. Ireland has followed suit as well.

So why exactly did they feel the need to ban the game? According to BBFC director David Cooke, “Manhunt 2 is distinguishable from recent high-end video games by its unremitting bleakness and callousness of tone in an overall game context which constantly encourages visceral killing with exceptionally little alleviation or distancing.” Both the Saw and Hostel franchises would fit this description quite well. So why were they given a rating equivalent to R? If the content is truly the issue, then shouldn’t the standards apply equally across different mediums?

The U.S. ratings board for videogames is almost as bad. The ESRB has given the game an initial rating of Adults Only (AO), which is equivalent to an NC-17 rating. It seems like we have another case of issuing a more restrictive rating due to the medium.

On the positive side, one might be able to make some cash buy eBaying copies of Manhunt 2 to people who live where freedom of speech is heavily restricted.