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September 25, 2009

Brutal Legend [Impressions] | Posted at 12:05 PM

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As you may know, the demo for Brutal Legend is out (for Gold Subscribers, Oct 1 for regular people).

I, of course, downloaded and played it about 4 times (on Normal and Brutal difficulty).

See, the thing is, I really, really like metal. It brings me joy to see a proper tribute to this almost-rare art form. But, Brutal Legend is a game that will entertain you even if you don't like metal.

Tim Schafer, the genius behind such great titles as Grim Fandango and Psychonauts, is at it again with hilarious laugh-out-loud writing and excellent, satisfying gameplay.

I sat down to play the demo and the first thing that jumps out at you is the clever menu (something that isn't uncommon in Schafer's games). It's a vinyl that is turned over, opened, etc. by a pair of hands depending on what option you want. Awesome.

The introduction is absolutely epic and hilarious, I won't ruin it for you, but I laughed multiple times and my friends were very entertained as well (none of whom really like metal). During the opening cinematic the game gives you the options of enabling vulgarity's (to provide an authentic roadie experience) and to enable gore (but only when it is very awesome). The game is so awesome, one of my friends wants to come over just to watch me play it.

One thing that stood out to me was the music selection. If you didn't know, it's an all metal soundtrack. The team has done a superb job choosing the right music for the scenes, building it up in all the right places. Sometimes cut scenes are annoying in other games (Metal Gear Solid, anyone?) but I could watch the cut scenes all day in Brutal Legend because they're masterfully crafted. It is very well-directed and full of heavy metal tribute scenery.

That brings me to the world of heavy metal itself… a metalhead's wet dream. Towers of skulls, gates weighed down by hotrod engines, hooded dagger-wielding henchmen, and a sweet boss. There is much to see in the world of Brutal Legend and I was sad that the demo was so short.

The combat in the game is terrific, every hit with your axe feels tactile, I almost wish they vibrated the controller on every hit (maybe they do, I didn't notice). The guitar is awesome. Every weapon has a fast attack and a heavy attack and there are multiple combos you can perform. You can even perform combos with your partner.

All in all the demo was superb and I can't wait until the game comes out. I had pre-ordered the game a few weeks ago… and now the wait is going to kill me.

Brutal Legend is coming Rocktober 13th and you damn well better pre-order the sucker now.

September 24, 2009

Spam Comments? | Posted at 2:41 PM

So I haven't been getting a lot of notifications that people have commented on my posts… but they have been and a lot were caught by Movable Type as spam.

However, a lot weren't so I let those through. One question I had for everyone, though, is why do some people leave a real comment but then try to promote their business? Some of those comments are nice and I want to let them through… but I am not OK with using my blog as free advertising.

Search engines don't follow the links in blog comments, so I am not helping their SEO, but I also don't want to make it seem like I am okay with people clicking through to these people's sites.

What do you think? I decided to allow "real" comments by these people and delete ones that are outright advertising.

September 17, 2009

URGENT BUSINESS PROPOSAL [!!!!] | Posted at 5:01 PM

Mr. George John needs my response. Sorry Mr. John, I can't put my finger on it but I think this is a scam. Not sure.

FROM DEPARTMENT OF FINANCE &
ECONOMIC AFFAIRS JOHANNESBURG,
SOUTH AFRICA.

Dear Sir/Madam,

URGENT BUSINESS PROPOSAL

After my official enquiry from the foreign trade office of the chambers of commerce & industry here in Johannesburg South Africa, I decided to contact you but I did not disclose the intention to anyone else because of the delicate nature of the project. I found your profile very interesting and decided to reach you directly to solicit for your assistance and guidelines in making a business investment and transfer of US$26,500,000.00(Twenty Six Million Five Hundred Thousand Dollars) to your country within the next few days.

Please I must plead for your confidence in this transaction. I am a high placed officially working with Department of (Finance & Economic Affairs) in Johannesburg. I and two other colleagues are currently in need of a silent foreign partner whose identity we can use to transfer this sum of money. But at this moment, I am constrained to issue more details about this profitable business investment until I get your response by email, please if you can take out a moment of your very busy schedule today to respond back to my private email below for more details and include your private telephone number in your response which I and my colleagues will highly appreciate.

This fund accrued legitimately to us as commission from foreign contracts, through our private connections.

The fund is presently waiting to be remitted from the bank here in South Africa to any overseas beneficiary confirmed by us as associate/receiver. By virtue of our positions as civil servants in my country, we cannot acquire this money in our names.  Because as high placed civil servants, we are not allowed by the civil service code of conduct to own or operate bank accounts outside of our shores. On the other hand, it is not safe for us to keep the money here due to unstable political environment. I have been mandated as a matter of trust by my colleagues, to look for an overseas silent partner who could work with us to facilitate transfer of this fund for our mutual benefit, Hence the reason for this email.

My proposal is that after you receive the funds, it would be shared as follows: (1) 30% to you as commission for your co-operation and assistance in facilitating the transfer, while the remaining 70% belongs to me and two colleagues. You will be free to take out your commission immediately after the money hits your account in your country. Since our objective is to invest the money in a foreign country, it would be appreciated if you could also help us with advices and direction on investing into profitable ventures in your country.

However, this is optional, and if it is not convenient for you to further assist us with investing the money, we can end our cooperation after you make available to me our part of the money. The transaction, although discreet, is legitimate and the money will be transferred successfully with all necessary back-up official documents showing the legitimate source/origin of fund.

The transfer will be effected within a period not longer than two weeks as soon as we reach an agreement and you furnish me with a suitable response indicating your interest for processing the transfer. I plead with you on one issue, whether you are interested or not, kindly do not expose this information to any one else. I confirm that the transaction is legitimate and without any risks either to yourself or us. For confidentiality purposes I would appreciate it if you could respond through my alternative email address: xxx

Yours Faithfully,

Mr. George John

September 16, 2009

The Down Low on ZipCar [Nice Ride] | Posted at 8:54 PM

So, as previously mentioned, I promised to talk a little about my experience using ZipCar. Today I took the service for a spin and here's what I have to tell you.

First, I said that ZipCar sent my ZipCard to my apartment. At least, that is what the rep over email told me. Turns out he was wrong, something went awry and it was sent to the billing address (the default shipping address). While I waited two weeks for my ZipCard I found out that it was at home when my mom called and asked what this Zip thing was in the mail. ARGH.

So I called up ZipCar, told them about it and they said they would send me a new one to my apartment. I also told my mom to send me the one at home (I called ZipCar before I knew the original ZipCard came to my billing address). The one at home arrived at my apartment before the new one sent by ZipCar did (by a few days). It wasn't a hassle to activate the "old" card, a quick phone call and I was all set (and now have an unusable ZipCard next to me). I was only frustrated for having to wait almost three weeks before I could use the service (killing some of my weekend plans).

With all that behind me and with ZipCard in hand I reserved a car today, about 15 minutes before I needed it (5:45pm) and for a whole 2.5 hours. There were six cars available from 6pm-8:30pm which is pretty impressive for such short notice, albeit a weeknight.

I picked the Honda Insight and took it for a ride. It was easy as pie to open the car, hold your ZipCard to the windshield and the locks come open. I used my University's parking pass to leave the ramp and was off to the wild blue yonder.

My overall experience was very good. The only thing I had some trouble with was gas and once you do it, you should be able to do it quickly afterward. On the Insight, you push down on the gas cover to open it. It took me about 10 minutes to figure that out, looking through the manual. I am used to pulling a lever/switch inside the car to open it.

You then swipe your ZipCard at the pump, then enter in the odometer mileage and your member ID. Once verified, pump away!

When I returned the car, it was a little confusing as to how to make sure ZipCar knew you returned the car on-time. They say you swipe the card and make sure the doors lock. I did that but there's no "special" indication that it knows you're done… but I don't know if ZipCars know when they're home. It's not a big deal and it might be nice to still get into the car once you return it before your time runs out, in order to get groceries or something. Maybe a txt at the end of your reservation that says, "Thanks for using us!" or something that isn't, "YOU WERE LATE!"

So, are ZipCars real? Yes. Do they work? Yes. Are they sweet? Yes.