Monday, September 29, 2008

Cursed

I'm sure I mentioned it before, but I think Reno is cursed. Both times when I returned to this dreadful place, things have not gone to plan. The Accounting idea seems to be heading towards a brick wall, so that'll be a no-go for next semester. After coming to that realization, I've started the FT job search and that has garnered zero responses after a few weeks of applying. Of course it doesn't help that our financial system and economy is heading towards the gutter. How often I find myself as part of the negative statistic...but only in Reno...why is that? I believe I see a pattern here. -Sigh-

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Logitech ClearChat PC Wireless Headset (Random Product)

This little item was this year's Birthday present. I wanted it because my last headset pair broke when I was dancing one evening, forgot how far away I was from the computer, and pulled the cord hella hard which thus jacked up the speakers. Since I use Skype a lot these days, I assumed that this would be a good purchase.

Description
On the functional end it works great. It uses a radio frequency instead of infrared, which means that there doesn't have to be a direct line of sight in order for the device to work. Back in college I had a pair of infrared ones and it sucked that I always had to be in visual range of the receiver. I always thought that it would be pretty neat to be listing to mp3s while wandering into the bathroom to take a piss.

Controls
The controls are very handy and are built right into the design of the headset. On the right-hand side, there are 3 controls for volume up, volume down, and microphone mute. When the microphone itself is put up, it auto-mutes the mic and vice versa if it's put down, so that's a very convenient feature.

Distance
The headset works very well while wandering around the house. I have a 3-level place and it still works even when I'm on the bottom floor with the garage and my computer is on the highest floor. It does start losing connection when you get too close to a working microwave since it uses the same 2.4GHz frequency band.

Battery
I did some strict testing on this, and it turns out that after a full charge, the headset will last for approximately 5 hours before dying. And when I say "die", I do mean die. It's not like a cell phone which starts beeping when you start running low on juice. This headset will straight up, binary die. The charger also tries to trick you. When you plug the device in to charge, a little orange LED starts shining, but that light goes away in a little under an hour. Unfortunately this does not mean that the headset is fully charged, it only means that the light is a brat and does not want to shine anymore. I usually have to leave it charging overnight to get the full 5 hours.

Overall
It's a great, compact unit that works as described, but I don't think most people realize how much time they usually spend in front of a computer. The 5-hour battery charge goes really fast and it's just annoying to have it just die on you. I also thought that this item would assist in me not breaking anything while dancing; I was wrong. Instead of pulling a cord, I have to watch out for the headset flying off of my head and busting onto a wall. Seeing a C-note note go out the window is not my idea of a good time. The price also leaves much to be desired. If you can live without being able to wander around the house, it's probably still more affordable to buy a wired headset and a cheap, yet functional Logitech speaker set.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Street Kings (Crime Drama 2008)

It’s good to see that Keanu still has some fight left in him. You don’t see him in many movies anymore ever since The Matrix series ended. I’m sure Neo will always be his de facto character, just like Christopher Reeve with Superman. This film was your run-of-the-mill action cop flick. It had an O.K. story and some action, but that was about it.

Keanu played this cop who was all about getting things done without all the BS. This meant that he was all over killing peeps rather than arresting them. This made for a few entertaining gun-fight scenes. After an ex-partner got killed, he went on this vendetta spree, beating the shit out of baddies and trying to find the peeps ultimately responsible.

Forest Whitaker acted well, but it seemed like he was overacting at the end. Too much emotion, but I guess the director might’ve wanted him to seem a tad crazy. Chris Evans from Fantastic Four did a fair job in his supporting role, but it was hard to take him seriously as a cop for some reason. Hugh Laurie, the main actor from House, was also in this film. Funny how his odd mannerisms stay the same even though he was playing a different character. Who knows, maybe he's like that in real life.

This type of film has been done on more than one occasion. Cop flicks are usually either average or really good, like The Departed or Heat. This movie goes into the former category. Although it was fair, there was nothing that made it stand out. I’m sure that was expected of course, but it was still a nice filler movie.
Rating - B

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Boo on School

I totally promised myself that I would post something since the wonderful world of movies seems to be far beyond my grasp under my current educational circumstances. Yeah school has definitely not improved over the last few weeks and now the first round of midterms will be coming up soon so more suckage is on its way. I would much rather be working FT...

This summer I purchased an Electricity Load Meter because it seemed like a very informative tool. I don't have a lot of stuff in my house, but I used it on everything that had a plug. Here are the results:

From the pic, it seems like running a vacuum cleaner is the most draining while a Sonicare toothbrush recharger takes the least amount. Some items totally drain electricity even if its off but plugged in, while others are hella variable and jump all over the place. I don't have accurate measurements of a laptop since I got rid of mine off, but I think it drained around 75 watts maxed, which is pretty much half of a desktop machine w/o factoring in the LCD monitor. I do wonder how much big appliances like a washing machine or a dryer drain? Probably a ton more.

But while I'm on the topic of laptops, has everyone noticed this upcoming fad with "netbooks"? I think I'm destined to get one since my celly failed to reach expectations in terms of features and usability. A netbook is a barebones laptop computer that is smaller than an ultraportable. It's only meant to be used for email, web surfing, and chatting, nothing more. It comes with an Intel Atom processor which is hella weak, even more-so than a Celeron, but it does have enough juice to do the bare minimum. It's usually pretty cheap like under $500 and is very lightweight because it has a small, 8-10 Inch LCD. Dell just released theirs and I'm still waiting for Lenovo to mass produce their version as well. You have to remember to get at least a 6-cell battery to have 4+ hours of runtime. Yeah as most have come to discover, the portability of a normal laptop really gets diminished when you have to lug around a huge power brick. Having a lightweight little toy that can get you connected when you're not on your primary system is a great little nitch market. The iPhone can handle all of this from almost anywhere, but damn is that extra monthly fee pricy. I'll also very partial to having a regular QWERTY keyboard.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion - Game of the Year Edition (1st Person RPG PC Game 2006)

I've been a fan of The Elder Scrolls series ever since Arena was released back in 1994. Of course nobody really played computer games back then, so I was probably one of the few who actually got to enjoy that jewel. Bethesda Softworks is the only game company that has ever built a true 1st person RPG game. They've made three fairly successful titles, but with the release of Oblivion for the Xbox 360, it catapulted the company and the series into the mainstream.

Story
The story in any of the Elder Scrolls games is not really important because the real fun factor is the open-endedness and being able to explore a really big world in a very non-linear way. The main story did push a plot along, but it was a pretty short plot. If you really want to complete the main storyline, it can be done in probably one sitting.

Cinematics
There weren't any real cinematics in this one. Most of the story was based from the 1st person perspective and that worked just as well in terms of immersion.

Gameplay
The game got fun after I boosted up the visuals and after I read up on how the leveling system worked. Oblivion kinda blew in the arena of stats and leveling. I won't get into the nitty gritty, but trust me that it really sucked. I had to use cheat codes to rectify the unevenness, which I hate doing, but it was necessary. But yeah after I got past that small hurdle, I was thrust into a very fun fantasy RPG that lasted me many days and hours.

Graphics
A 2006 game with a 2008 video card was great. I got to max all of my settings with 8xAA and Bloom, so damn was it beautiful, just like it was meant to be played. It does tell you something about the industry and how game makers are always on the bleeding edge of technology and how they always make something that forces you to upgrade in order to actually have fun.

Sound & Music
The music was O.K., but it got old, just like other games. After a while I only used the music to see if my character was getting chased by enemies since fighting mode had different music from traveling mode. The sounds were well done and accurate in terms of what a shield blocking a sword swing is supposed to sound like or how one would think a fireball spell would sound. Again, more traits to add to the immersive quality of the game.

Community
There is a large community of people in place who build mods. Supposedly it adds a lot to gameplay and such, but I've never been too fond of changing things.

Bugs
This was one of those games that I purchased and sold multiple times but never really had any fun with. Thankfully round three was a charm. Back, during round one, I remembered getting really pissed with broken quests because they were all bugged. Having random things crash because of crappy programing caused me to become too frustrated and deleting the game off my system. Who knew that after you patched most of the defects, that a very fun game was just waiting to be explored, just like the old Arena days.

Overall
The game was fantastic this time around. I got a very satisfying fill just before crappy school started up. There were 2 expansions included in this "Game of the Year Edition". The Knights of Nine was a nice add-on, but the Shivering Isles reminded me too much of Morrowind (mushrooms and alien-looking mobs), so much so that I didn't have the desire to play through it. So yeah, if your rig can keep up or if you have a console, this was indeed a very fun and time-consuming RPG.
Rating - High

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Smart People (Drama 2008)

This movie was pretty boring even though it had a good cast to start out with. The cause of this was that the story lacked any sort of appeal. I don't know who can really relate to any of these characters.

The film circled around a family of dysfunctional peeps. You had a sour college professor, a loser uncle, a friendless HS student, and an un-doctor-like physician played by Sarah Jessica Parker. Now I may be off base here, but who in their right mind can actually picture Sarah Jessica Parker gettin’ it on with anyone? I think it was a Family Guy joke, but someone was right in stating that “her face looks like a shoe”. Friggin' ugly man. So yeah the plot revolved around these peeps as they learned how to “mature”. I guess it was trying to show how intelligent people can still very stupid in other aspects of their life.

I didn’t really find it entertaining because the characters were all too boring. I had more fun critiquing the odd outfits that Ellen Page's character chose to wear in each new scene, rather than listening to the overly dry dialogue.
Rating - C