Main | June 2008 »

May 31, 2008

Drivers for your laptop GeForce Go card | Posted at 5:13 PM

If you're like me, you bought a nice laptop so that you can game on the go. However, you soon realized that the included drivers suck horribly (in my case, Dell). Furthermore, I found out that the nVidia mobile drivers won't work with my selected video card and manufacturer. To be fair, I did upgrade the video card it came with originally to a GeForce Go 7800.

It took me a long time to find drivers that actually worked, but then I was stuck with old ForceWare 77.xx drivers instead of the new ones.

Today, I found ones that work beautifully. It's the 169.xx series which were made for desktop cards, but work perfect for my laptop, too.

For reference, I use a Dell Inspiron E1705. I downloaded the drivers from the awesome site, LaptopVideo2Go.com. You can check out their updated forums for new drivers. Here's how you install them:

  1. Head to the 169.61 driver download page for XP. Depending on your OS, you might want to go to the parent forum to find the Vista drivers.
  2. Download the original nVidia installation package (the "Driver" link).
  3. Extract the nVidia driver to a folder.
  4. Download the "Modded INF" file, and save it to where you extracted the nVidia drivers. It should ask you if you want to replace the file nv4_disp.inf and you click "Yes."
  5. Install and test it out!

I was able to play Oblivion, Ultra High, at 1360x768 (my LCD TV's supported VGA resolution) with minimal slowdown. More importantly, I could use the nVidia Control Panel to add some custom resolutions. One bug I saw is that I couldn't see the text for the nav menu options in the control panel. It's okay though cause you just click them to see them. No big deal.

Enjoying the new TV | Posted at 12:45 AM

My family just got their new Toshiba REGZA TV I picked out for them delivered today. I set it all up and have been enjoying it all day.

Within the week I will post a large review, with pictures, since when I was researching the TVs I never found a good review for the TV. I want to wait, so I can calibrate it and hook up the Xbox 360 via HDMI to really see how it performs. So far I've tested 1080i HD material (via Comcast), the Wii, and 480p DVDs. I have to say I'm impressed with even SD material, but I'll elaborate next week.

May 27, 2008

Red Alert 3 Preview | Posted at 11:38 PM

ra3logo.jpg

IGN posted a preview of the upcoming title Red Alert 3. I also watched the developer walkthrough which was a good 15 minutes of real footage.

I've been a die hard fan of the CNC franchise, but that was for Westwood's titles (up until Red Alert 2 really, that had EA influence though). After that, the only CNC game that got any respect from me was Tiberium Wars, but it still wasn't catchy enough for me. I loved RA2 and Yuri's Revenge and I think it had a lot to do with its colorfulness, comic humor, and outrageous units.

I can't believe I am admitting this, but RA3 actually looks worthy of being RA2's successor. CNC 3 was a step in the right direction, a bigger step than Generals (finally, no more accursed bulldozers!), but RA3 looks like the real deal. What I noticed most, and I hope will stay, is that they use all of the same sound effects. Granted, for new units they could record more, but I am really glad they're sticking with the original sounds. I loved them and I couldn't see Red Alert without them, unless of course they are world's better. What's more is that they kept the same music.

My impression is that they'll be replacing most of those assets because it would make sense to tackle that last as you can build on your previous assets to minimize development time. I hope that they keep a lot of it or at least make the new SFX on the same tune as previous franchise installments. What interests me greatly is the new naval aspect. I've not played a game with a strong naval RTS element and I loved using naval units in RA. Building bases on the water sounds awesome.

Apparently there's going to be a new co-op campaign mode, that will be pretty fun. Co-op maps on RA2 were a lot of fun, I hope that proves true for this. They'll also be featuring FMV cut scenes ala CNC 3. From experience, I expect it to be really cheesy, but damn if the original RA's cut scenes weren't bad ass. CNC 3 just was dumb and super cheesy. RA2 was pretty decent but not as cool as the original. Maybe it was because I was 8 when I played the original RA and everything was badass about that game.

If they have good writers and good actors, they could pull off some decent video. But really, looking at the material RA3 has to work with, you can't expect much seriousness to go on here.

Anyway, I am looking forward to seeing how it fares. It will be on Xbox and PC, but I want to LAN it so PC it'll have to be. Maybe I will have bought a better video card by then to run it at full specs. On that note, SLi is a friggin' joke. Two 7900GS's can't match my friend's 8800GT. What a load of crap.

May 25, 2008

Extended Review: On the Rain-slick Precipice of Darkness, Episode 1 | Posted at 10:03 PM

Every once in awhile there's something I review that I enjoyed too much to limit to one sentence. One of those things is Penny Arcade's new foray into gaming, "On the Rain-slick Precipice of Darkness." The series is episodic and one can only hope that the episodes aren't Valve-style year apart releases.

You play a player-created character whose house is smashed in by a giant robot. Thirsty for revenge, you meet up with detectives Tycho and Gabe (the comic's creators) tracking the robot. Before you know it, you're up to your knees in hobos, urine, mimes, and vulgar little robots.

First, half of what makes this game is its style. The game is a 3d rendition of Penny Arcade's art style and let me just say it looks fantastic. It has its own unique look ala Psychonauts. If you've ever read any of the news associated with each entry of PA, you know that the authors have some way with words and that really shines through the game. Where other developers might have totally ruined the story with bad dialogue and un-funny banter, Tycho and Gabe fill it with hilarious writing and silly phrases. Dialog is split from the 3D scenes and instead in comic book form, with you selecting different responses to advance the conversation. In true comic book style, there will also be 3rd person descriptions of goings-on during the conversation (e.g. "The mime looked to his right, startled at the sight of his bloodied appendage."). Further, sometimes different sound FX will accompany events during the conversation, it's just very well thought out.

I think the most fun comes in the battles which are real-time turn based style. Each character can perform 3 actions along with 3 additional support character special attacks. You can use an inventory item, perform a basic attack, and then perform a special attack. Strategy plays into this sequence because you have to wait for each action to charge before using it and they charge sequentially, resetting if you use one. This means that if you want to, say, increase one character's attack you should use a different character's inventory action so that the target character can perform a charged special attack. In addition, there's a few cool enhancements you get in battles which I'll let you discover.

While the battle and inventory system incorporates RPG elements, the main game is an adventure game. You can click on objects to get a short witty blurb or to interact with them. The camera is fixed but it doesn't bother you or get in the way. NPCs are a bit lacking, providing only a few different lines of dialogue in an area but there are several you can do "quests" for and interact with. There are a number of cut scenes that are absolutely great and well-done. They preserve the comic book nature of the game very well.

Amazing art, hilarious story, and witty writing aside, RSPD is found wanting in a few areas. I would have preferred it to be longer, because 3-4 hours probably doesn't justify the $20 price tag. I was able to collect most of the bonus content and got all the weapon upgrades, robot parts, and maxed my characters. I think having more of the town instead of quickly traveling to your destination would have increased the time, as long as there were things to do on the way. I think there should have been more to do in general, as most cases (quests) get closed by the time you beat the end boss. The narrator of the game is amazing and I wish there had been more voice overs of the same quality because he is entertaining as hell.

That said, this is an independent game and is the first episode and because of that, it's an excellent first attempt (better than I could accomplish). They had the awesome combination of good artists and good writers (themselves) so all they had to get was good developers, which they did at Hothead Studios.

One Sentence Review: On the Rain-slick Precipice of Darkness, Episode 1 | Posted at 9:54 PM

rspd.jpg

Title: On the Rain-slick Precipice of Darkness, Episode 1
Blurb: You are a guy tagging along with detectives Tycho and Gabe on an epic adventure.
Review: Psychonauts meets Paper Mario meets text adventure meets "Awesome."
Grade: A+

May 24, 2008

Thoughts on Google Reader | Posted at 10:32 AM

I recently switched from using my iGoogle homepage as an aggregator to using Google Reader instead, because let's face it, I read a lot of blogs. I love it, I think it's really neat. Plus it lets you add a widget to iGoogle so I still use iGoogle as my homepage.

If you're like me, you don't like to keep visiting sites to get updates. For example, for my YouTube subscriptions I just added them to Google Reader. A quick Google search brought up this page from YouTube detailing how to get RSS feeds for specific users (or tags or categories, etc.).

Now I can get updates when I read my blogs/view subscriptions on Reader. Cool! I also added my shared items to the right.

May 22, 2008

GamePie Facebook Application | Posted at 11:48 PM

I recently added the GamePie Facebook application, created by some developers at GameFly. I was impressed with what I saw and decided to help out a little. I created a mockup of a new layout and design for their profile page.

The problem right now is ease of use, information is too many clicks away, and not enough to do. Flixter (Movies) application is amazing and so is VisualBookShelf because they are so well integrated with the profile and your friends. I think that GamePie could become another big application if they do it right.

I actually created a thread about some ideas and posted this mockup:

mockupgamepie.jpg

I spent about 2 hours working on it, so no big deal. The funny thing is, after I created it, I was really sad the page isn't like that.

More about Tyson Motsinger/Nebraska Book Company | Posted at 11:35 PM

Update 1/22/10: Tyson responds to complaints.

If you are looking for the latest information regarding the issue with Nebraska Book Company aka Tyson Motsinger (and a few other aliases), check out the Seller Soapbox on Amazon Seller Community. There's a few threads on the issue and are kept up-to-date.

I got an order from them a few days ago and they haven't canceled on me yet after 3 days. So, I will be shipping the package tomorrow and pray for the best.

I called Amazon Seller Support and the rep said that I should send it with Sig and Delivery confirmation. If I have problems, I should contact them again. Apparently Nebraska Books is being monitored by Amazon since many sellers have gotten huge numbers of canceled orders.

Who knew trying to sell textbooks would be so damn complicated!

One Sentence Review: Indiana Jones | Posted at 10:08 PM

indianajones.jpg

Title: Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
Blurb: Harrison Ford, now 80 years old, making one last attempt at being bad ass.
Review: Cheesy as all hell but damn it if Shia swinging like Tarzan isn't awesome.
Grade: B+

May 20, 2008

Exposing Hollywood: A Short | Posted at 1:21 PM

For Geology and Cinema (GEO 1005), we had to create a geology presentation for lab. Well, my team and I decided that it would be fun to do a little animation. So we did. It came out well, I never animated before and Premier Pro isn't that great at animating. I'd rather use Flash instead, but the audio is one mp3 file, which makes it impossible to sync in the Flash timeline. With more time, I would have split the tracks.

Firefox 3 RC1 | Posted at 1:08 PM

firefox_logo.jpg

I've been using Firefox 3 here at work since Beta 4 and I've been really impressed. Recently, RC1 has been released and works just dandy. At work I use an iMac and Firefox 3 is way faster than Firefox 2 on my box. I installed it on my PC too, and I'm waiting for my add-ons to be updated. Web Developer Toolbar was updated today to support RC1. I'm waiting for Firebug to be updated so I can properly debug my web applications.

May 19, 2008

Seller Beware [Updated] | Posted at 10:14 PM

Update 1/22/10: Tyson responds to complaints.

A portion of the books I sold today on Amazon were bought by a customer named, "Tyson Motsinger." Since I didn't believe someone could have a name that stupid, I looked up the specified address on Google Maps. Strange, doesn't exist. Not only that but the names of the shipee was different on each order.

A quick Google search of the name turns up this thread. Lo and behold, my instincts proved correct. It's a company, Nebraska Book Company. They apparently have a phone number you can call to opt out of their bot-using tactics. Tomorrow I will give them a call.

From reading the various comments in-between the flaming, I think that if you sell them your book exactly as you described it and with the exact ISBN, you should be okay. One of the books I bought would have probably made them scam me because it's the International Edition but I listed it under the US edition's ISBN. A regular person might not have a problem because they read the comments, but a bot doesn't so the company would assume it's the exact copy that's listed.

Anyway, once I opt-out, I'll relist my books. These kinds of tactics are really annoying and should not be allowed.

There seems to be an opt out page,

http://www.selleroptout.com/optout.aspx?id=

The ID value seems to be the order ID (xxx-xxxxxxx-xxxxxxx) and then a 'pxxxxxx' but I can't figure out what the x numbers are for after the 'p.'

What's weird is that the shipping address is Athens, Ohio, but the company is located here:

Nebraska Book Company, Inc.
4700 South 19th Street
Lincoln, NE 68512
US

It doesn't make much sense.

For people who've been scammed by this company, here's a great way to get back at them. They are a part of the Better Business Bureau. Send a complaint their way, they are required to respond. If enough of you guys complain, I'm sure some action will be taken.

File a complaint here

When it asks you to search for the company, use this phone number. It's the Administrative Contact phone on their WHOIS domain record:

402-421-7300

I can't contact them because I didn't technically do business with them. But some of you have been scammed, insofar as they didn't return the book but made you refund them. You should file a complaint. That will get their attention. Apparently this company does a lot of business.

Selling Textbooks | Posted at 7:04 PM

I just finished listing all my textbooks on Amazon (over 20). They keep it up for 60 days and after that they are taken down. My plan is to do textbook buy back with the books that don't get sold through Amazon. That way, I am getting the best price on the books I do sell and I can get rid of the ones I don't sell for some specified price closer to the time when students buy their books.

BookBytes had the best price, but they only took 6 books out of my 20. AbeBooks took the most, leaving only 4 or 5 left, but it was the same price as BookBytes' 6 books.

Oh, the Irony | Posted at 4:19 PM

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This last Saturday marked the end of my academic year. Of course, this was the most opportune time for my Xbox to lay down and die. Couldn't it have waited til mid-summer? Or perhaps just not died at all?

The worst part is, it has not succumbed to the dreaded Red Rings of Death. Instead, it just freezes. That means that I have to actually pay for my repair... I wish it had RRoD'd. The nice thing is, Microsoft sends you a shipping container that's prepaid, so I will only be spending money on the repair, not the shipping as well.

GTA IV will have to wait, I guess. Maybe I can put some time into Pokemon Diamond and Mario Kart Wii.

What is "Divide by Zero"? | Posted at 3:36 PM

I've created this blog because sometimes I have the sudden urge to write about something. Whether it be about school, life, or the world, I'd like to record it. Sometimes I want to share something that I think would help people out or is so exciting that I want to tell the world. Here's where I can do it.

I look forward to a lasting relationship.