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Woke Up On the Wrong Side of the Country Tony 
Posted by: Tony at 2:19 AM EST on 7/25/2003
File Under: Whatever

I woke up today and realized I had accidentally moved to California (I used to live in Illinois.) The feeling is odd. I hope to provide a review of Illinois soon.

Upgrade? Uh, more like downgrade... Plus HTPC stuff. Tim 
Posted by: Tim at 3:04 AM EST on 7/18/2003
File Under: Misc Tech -> Computers

So, as I said in my previous post about my new laptop, I was having some issues with the sound. Namely, it sounded like shit, which put a bit of a damper on my plans to use the machine as a media center for music and movies. Additionally, the function keys on the keyboard that were supposed to increase and decrease the volume just flat out didn't work - and lemme tell you, it's a bitch to open Volume Control and make fine adjustments with a touchpad every time you want to bump the volume up or down a notch.

So yeah, naturally, I couldn't leave these problems unsolved. In my tinkering around, I reverted back to an old set of drivers and, amazingly, the volume keys started working, and sound was about ten times as good as it was before. I hooked the system up to my stereo and I was just like "Holy shit, I hear bass now!" So yeah, I'm happy. I just have to wonder what the hell they fixed that was so important as to make it worth totally crippling the computer's audio otherwise... Or maybe they just fucked up.

Anyway, now that my computer is pumping out some MUCH nicer sound, and I don't have to spend $50 on an external soundcard, I'm enjoying my media PC. Playing emulated games and DivX/XviD movies on the TV, and listening to mp3s on my stereo is some cool shit. To streamline the whole process, I went and got a couple little programs that I highly recommend.

First is myHTPC, a nice interface for Home Theatre PCs. Basically, it gives you a nice menu system with big friendly letters and graphics that are nice and legible on a TV screen. Just point it to your pictures, music, and movies directories and you'll be able to open any number of media files within a matter of a couple clicks. Best of all, it integrates with Windows Media Player 9 to provide you album covers and visualizations for music.

The other program is JoyToKey, a tiny little program that lets you use a joystick to emulate mouse or keyboard input. This is absolutely perfect in combination with my PC Magic Box, which lets me use a PS2, Dreamcast, or Saturn pad on my PC. So, I can just sit back and relax with my Dual Shock and play some SNES, N64, or MAME games without constantly going back and forth between the computer and my chair - the controller acts just like a mouse for me. It's the ultimate in laziness, so, naturally, I absolutely love it.

P.S.: It's my 21st birthday this Sunday. Oh hell yes. I'll be gone for the weekend. Take from that what you will.

Glover on the N64... Check it out if you missed it. Tim 
Posted by: Tim at 4:16 PM EST on 7/17/2003
File Under: Games

I don't feel like writing a full review (or even a quickview for that matter) but I figured I'd just mention this game really quickly. I've been playing around with Project64, the N64 emulator, and decided to give Glover, an old platform game, a try. It never got very good reviews back in the day, but editors for big magazines and sites are retards (I should know, I used to be one) and rarely give low profile games adequate coverage.

Anyway, the premise of the game is that you're a glove trying to return six crystals to a castle to return a wizard to his normal form (he accidentally turned himself into a fountiain (...yeah, I know) in "The Accident" which scattered the crystals all over the world). The catch is that Glover turned all the crystals to rubber balls to keep them from shattering on impact, and now you have to take control and return the balls to the castle by bouncing them, throwing them, floating them across water, and even morphing them into a bowling ball or iron ball. All of this is done to solve puzzles and avoid enemies in traversing each level.

So yeah, chances are that you missed this one the first time around. If you like 3D adventure games and tough puzzles, see if you can dig this one up in a bargain bin somewhere, or just emulate it. As far as platformers go, this one is incredibly unique, original, and challenging. It's definitely worth playing.

Use the damn messenger, please... Tim 
Posted by: Tim at 3:48 PM EST on 7/8/2003
File Under: Site News

Okay, I need to test something, so I want you people to leave me some messages... Just click my name a couple lines up and say whatever the hell you want. Just for kicks, the most amusing/informative/brown-nosing/whatever one that I recieve in the next few days will get posted here. So, say something stupid and be immortalized on the web. It's everyone's dream come true, right?

Harry Potter Disa 
Posted by: Disa at 7:18 PM EST on 7/7/2003
File Under: Whatever

Thought I was dead, eh? Well, you can't get rid of me that easily. I'm back and I'm here to talk today about the most recent addition to the Harry Potter lineage.

Almost 900 pages long in the North American version of this book, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is a hefty read for any Harry Potter fan of any age, although many have found it hard to put down (including myself) and had finished reading it before the end of its release weekend.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix covers Harry's 5th year of school at the Hogwarts school of wizardry and witchcraft. After the shocking end to book 4 of the series, we find that Harry has lost a good bit of his once upbeat personality as he takes on new responsibilities and tries to deal with the loss of a classmate, crimes he was not responsible for, a new teacher at school, a potential girlfriend, OWL tests, and more, not to mention that the one who had killed his parents is now back in growing force as the public remains ignorant of it all. How is a boy to keep good grades with all that going on? I'd be a bit ticked off at the world too if I had to deal with all that at such a young age.

Anyways, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is a great read and I highly recommend it. I'll warn you though, as Harry is getting older, he is having to deal with more mature themes and issues. It's not much of a secret, but someone does die in this book, although I won't say who. In any case, J.K. Rowling has outdone herself with this novel and I can't wait for book 6. Any disappointments that I had from book 4 were blown away by book 5. I got the book on the night that it came out and I had it finished in under 24 hours. It is almost impossible to put down ^_^

Hey guess what... Karyn 
Posted by: Karyn at 9:14 AM EST on 7/7/2003
File Under: Whatever

I got a new computer too! It has a very pretty flatscreen monitor, and I cannot imagine how I lived so long without one. I will not be giving the geeks specs because I honestly have no idea what they are, except that it's a Dell and has an 80 GB hard drive. Happiness, thy name is new computer.

And look how I managed to say all that without mentioning any unnatural mating practices! It's amazing....

By the way, if there are any Stephen King Dark Tower fans out there, I read that he re-released all of his books and the first one (The Gunslinger) has a lot of changes in it. If anybody has read the new one, can you confirm that for me? I'd like to know if the changes are enough to justify my purchasing it!

I take back everything bad I ever said about laptops... Tim 
Posted by: Tim at 2:29 AM EST on 7/7/2003
File Under: Misc Tech -> Computers

Alright, I got a new laptop a few days ago, and figured it was worth mentioning, since this is a techie site and all. It's a Dell Inspiron 5100 laptop, and if it was a girl, I would fuck it. As it is, all its input slots are more than a little too small. (That reminds me... Ask Karyn about her interesting theory about men feeling compelled to plug stuff into every hole they can find in a piece of electronics.)

First, we'll get the specs out of the way for the geeks.

[Comic Book Guy]This thing has a 2.66 GHz Pentium 4, 512 MB of PC2100 DDR SDRAM, 32MB Radeon Mobility 7500 graphics card, a 15" XGA display (kicking myself for not springing for the SXGA+), 30 GB hard drive, CDRW/DVD combo drive, 2 USB 2.0 ports, Firewire, S-Video out, and the usual integrated ethernet and V.92 modem.[/Comic Book Guy]

Yeah, I don't have the money for this thing, but the fantastic folks over at Dell decided I was worthy enough to be allowed to buy it on credit (or at least the bank that handles financing for them did). I guess that's one positive aspect of wrecking your car and getting a big insurance payment. The loan gets paid off VERY quickly, providing a nice boost to your credit.

But I digress. So far, I've used this thing as a MAME machine to play old arcade games on my TV (the S-Video ouput is damned handy) as well as networking it with my other computer to share files and printers. I figure I'll use the 100 gigs of harddrive space on my old desktop for storage to save the poor little 30 gig drive in this one some wear and tear.

My next thing will probably be to get one of those USB sound cards so that I can use this as a music/movie/general media center to hook up to my stereo. I hooked it up using the built in sound card, but was appalled by how it sounded. Guess I can't expect much from a system that's really only expecting to output to shitty laptop speakers and occasionally headphones. Oh well, good thing the Creative Labs Sound Blaster MP3+ is only a little over $50. That should come in handy for all my music, movies, and games. *Drool* @ listening to all my mp3s on the stereo.

In short, I love my new computer, and its one fault will soon be fixed. Oh, and the best part of it all? I'm laying in bed while writing this post... I love the convenience.

Hopelessly Addicted.... Blueblur 
Posted by: Blueblur at 6:37 PM EST on 7/1/2003
File Under: Games

Games are beautiful things. Nowhere else can you take control of such an array of characters and become addicted to their adventures. I love games; they're part of my lifestyle. I couldn't imagine being who I am now if I had gone through my adolescent life without ever touching a controller.

And damn me for being me. Like I've done numerous times before, I recently bought a game I already own, Sonic Adventure DX. Like with the other purchases, here I am a week later wishing that I would have just rented the frickin' game. Ah well. At least the blue blur is getting the attention he deserves. Heck, we got the Happy Meal toys, Sonic X (the upcoming anime), Sonic Battle (GBA), and Sonic Heroes comin' up. BTW, I must have Sonic Heroes ASAP!!

But there's lot more comin' up. Especially Mario Kart and F-Zero GX. And SC2 (no, I didn't import)! Of course, what I'm really waiting for is Halo 2. Correction: EVERYONE is waiting for it. The single player mode alone looks like it'll be vastly improved and the promise of continuous Live content... *tear-eyed* is awesome! I'm getting Live just for it (and Mech Assault, too)! But I don't trust PSO on Live; since its already been hacked. *Shrugs*

But for the here and now, Super Mario Advance 3 is surprisingly entertining (given that I've played it into the ground on my SNES) and I'm just getting my hands on some of the GBA's greatest. As for the PS2, I dunno. I got one and I still don't touch it. I even took in my only game, Jak & Daxter, to GameStop today for some store credit. I guess my Cube will keep hogging the attention.

So, how about the rest of you? What's on the currently playing list?

Currently Playing: PSO (I will stop when Sonic Team tears down the servers!), SA:DX, SMA3, Viewtiful Joe (demo)

Must Buy Soon: Splinter Cell, RE Zero, MegaMan Zero, and many more.

I'm Doomed... Tim 
Posted by: Tim at 5:57 PM EST on 7/1/2003
File Under: Games

Would you believe me if I told you that Doom could stress out a modern PC? You better, because it's true. Yes, the old FPS that once ran perfectly on my 386/DX33 with 4MB of RAM now taxes my (somewhat shitty) P3 800 Mhz with 128MB of RAM and a GeForce 256. How is that possible? Well, it's not QUITE the same Doom you're used to. In fact, it's been updated so much that it rivals many games that are commercially released these days.

Anyway, what I'm talking about are the various OpenGL updates of Doom that have been created by the fan community. iD software released the source code for the original Doom engine several years ago, and ever since, fans of the game have been hard at work making the game even better than ever.

Right now, my favorite port is JDoom, but Doom Legacy and ZDoom are also available. Basically, these three bits of software are Windows ports of the old DOS version, which support OpenGL for hardware acceleration and much higher display resolutions, online play via TCP/IP, and (my favorite feature) native mouselook support, meaning the modern style of play using WASD to move and the mouse to aim replaces the old, clunky keyboard-only style.

Anyway, as far as JDoom goes, there are some awesome features to the game, the best of which is the ability to use 3D models to replace virtually every sprite in the game. Add to that the hi-res textures and skins that have been created, dynamic lighting, and even particle effects, and you have one damn fine looking game.

Below are some screenshots of the game in action, with many of the special features in use. I have the hi-res environment textures and some dynamic lighting turned on, as well as all the 3D models. Hi-res enemy skins aren't on, though. They made my poor computer start to crawl.

Click to enlarge

Drop by New Doom to keep up to date on all the developments in the Doom community, and be sure to drop by their forums. There are some fantastic mods to download around there. Oh, and if anyone is up for some co-op or deathmatch online play, drop me a line!

Why Do Some People Not Know They Suck At Singing? Tony 
Posted by: Tony at 2:36 AM EST on 7/1/2003
File Under: Whatever

There are those who are bad at singing, often horribly bad, but they keep singing. I lost the location of where some of the following info was found (it was a website for various types of brain research.) The website did not make the connection between what its scientists discovered and people that suck at singing. I made this possible connection. (I R SMORT)

When speaking, your brain generates a signal that travels to your vocal cords. It also generates another signal that is fed back into your brain. This essentially means you are listening to yourself when you speak. The biggest problem for wannabe singers is the transfer of energy (as it usually is) when the signal to your vocal cords reaches them. That is, the signals your brain produces might be of an incredible quality, but the physical properties of your body cannot accomodate it. Those who can accomodate it better are better singers. Why do people, who suck at singing, keep singing? Because they listen more to the high-quality voice that their brain is feeding back to them than to the low-quality voice that their unfortunately inadequate physics generate.

What to do when you encounter such a person? Turn off their music and ask them to sing against a wall. You don't have to directly tell them they suck, they will find out for themselves this way.

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