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October 29, 2009

Uncharted 2: Playing a Movie [Reflections] | Posted at 12:56 PM

I am about 90% done with Uncharted 2, in fact I should be done by tonight. I couldn't help but talk about this game even before I finish it because there are a few things I want to say.

The first is that every other game with a story needs to learn from this game because this is the first game in a long time (along with Arkham Asylum) that I can play for 4 hours straight and still want to keep playing. My roommate stayed up until 6am playing this game to get to the end.

Uncharted: Drake's Fortune was a really great game but the story was really what kept it going along with the excellent platforming. Uncharted 2 takes everything that was good about the first game, multiplies it by 5 and then adds crack cocaine to it. I seriously can't think of anything wrong with this game. It has an amazing story, incredibly fun and challenging gameplay (you will die), excellent graphics, fantastic voice acting, and surprisingly fun multiplayer. There were moments in the game where I couldn't believe that it was even possible to do.

Speaking about voice acting, Nolan North (Nathan Drake) and Emily Rose (Elena) do a fantastic job at making you love the characters. You want to keep playing because you want to know what happens next. It's like an addicting book in video game form. The story is paced perfectly, the villain is actually scary, and there is plenty of intrigue and romance that I think is much better than most movies today.

One thing about me is that I hate dying in games… yes, I am a baby but I like to enjoy the story continuously without being interrupted by things like death. The thing about the first Uncharted was that I could only play a few firefights and then quit because I'd die so often, even though I was on Normal. In Uncharted 2, I chose Very Easy so I could get through the game and hear the story. That said, I still heavily enjoyed Uncharted 1 even though I kept dying because it was a lot of fun.

Games like Ninja Gaiden, Devil May Cry, where I die every second are no fun to me because there's no reward for living other than to go on and fight and die more often. In games like Batman, Uncharted, BioShock, and Half-Life 2, when you die you want to keep going because there's a new narrative waiting to be told or a discovery to be made. I think that a part of what makes the firefights fun in Uncharted 1/2 is that there's a goal at the end, a place to get to, or a secret to be found. In other words, give me a reason to fight these people and then I won't quit the game.

I will be writing soon about this year in games because quite frankly it was an excellent year for gaming… and still could be even more excellent considering the upcoming releases of Assassin's Creed 2, Dragon Age: Origins, and Left 4 Dead 2.

One Sentence Review: The Beatles Rock Band [X360] | Posted at 12:38 PM

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Title: The Beatles Rock Band 
Platform: Xbox 360, PS3
Blurb: You are The Beatles and you play Beatles music.
Review: If you like The Beatles you will like this game, plus the way it tracks achievements makes it pretty addicting and has lot of replay value.
Grade: A-

One Sentence Review: Scribblenauts [DS] | Posted at 12:32 PM

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Title: Scribblenauts
Platform: Nintendo DS
Blurb: You draw stuff and solve puzzles.
Review: This game's fun factor is directly proportional to how creative you are.
Grade: B+

One Sentence Review: Batman Arkham Asylum [X360] | Posted at 12:30 PM

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Title: Batman Arkham Asylum
Platform: PC, XBox 360, PS3
Blurb: You're Batman and you kick ass.
Review: This is what a superhero game should be: kicking ass and taking names.
Grade: A

One Sentence Review: LittleBigPlanet [PS3] | Posted at 12:27 PM

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Title: LittleBigPlanet
Platform: PS3
Blurb: You're a sack person jumping on everything.
Review: Super creative, super addicting, you must play this game with other people, because it is absolutely fantastic. 
Grade: A+

One Sentence Review: Uncharted [PS3] | Posted at 12:24 PM

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Title: Uncharted: Drake's Fortune
Platform: PS3
Blurb: Treasure hunter Nathan Drake is trying to find the lost treasure of El Dorado…
Review: Fantastic storytelling, classic gameplay, I feel like I am Indiana Jones when I play this game.
Grade: A

October 20, 2009

RE: Where did my sidebar go? [Windows 7] | Posted at 12:19 PM

If you noticed that your sidebar will not start or doesn't work anymore there may be a simple solution.

If you have the Logitech camera software installed, that is the culprit. To fix the issue simply:

  1. Click the "Change Settings" button.

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  2. Click the Application Preferences button, then Settings under "Video Effects application support."

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  3. In the list, remove "sidebar.exe" (I removed everything, as seen below).

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  4. Restart your computer

That should fix it! I had the same problem and after doing this it finally worked.

If your sidebar isn't working and you don't have the Logitech cam software, I can't help you.

Via Windows7Forums

October 14, 2009

Hey, Be Reasonable Now! [Web Site Release] | Posted at 10:56 PM

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I just finished a new web site today, BeReasonableNow.com, for a lifestyle guide. The web site was created for a friend of mine. I've seen the guide, there's nothing magical about it, it's totally practical and pretty funny. Check it out!

I decided since this was a one page deal that I'd try out a few design ideas I've seen lately including subtle radial gradients and larger text. I like how it turned out.

All the effects except the gradient and title image are CSS: border-radius, box-shadow, background gradient, and text-shadow primarily. I was also thinking of using the new @font-face but Arial didn't look that bad so I just left it.

I have to say, it's a pretty catchy title for a lifestyle guide.

October 6, 2009

Digital Receipts [Ideas, Ideas, Ideas] | Posted at 12:39 PM

So I was thinking earlier today, wouldn't it be great if I could view all the receipts from my purchases online in my bank account? Not only would I have a permanent record, if the format was open, I could get a lot of info on my spending habits or even an inventory of what I own.

I figured this was not a new idea and was glad to see that it's being worked on. Well, who knows if it still is, that article is from 9 years ago. The standard (ARTS Digital Receipt XML) is being used by some third parties. The only way for this to work is to get banks on-board so there can be a way to easily view these.

Not only could brick and mortars use these receipts (since they already send your credit card info to a clearinghouse), but online stores could use it too. Which means no more keeping receipts/invoices in a file cabinet! I keep receipts in empty Kleenex boxes… just in case. I don't keep receipts from small or insignificant purchases, only ones where I'd possibly need to return something.

Anyway, I thought it was a good idea and hopefully in the next decade we'll see it come to pass… I can dream, can't I?

Facebook's Gross National Happiness Index [Stats] | Posted at 12:20 PM

I was just reading the write-up on Facebook's data analysis on the use of positive and negative words in status updates.

I thought the graph was interesting. If you zoom down to a week level, you can easily see that people are happier on weekends than weekdays. Big surprise there I guess.

October 2, 2009

You Don't Need Photoshop: Get Paint.NET | Posted at 11:21 AM

Saying you don't need Photoshop is probably false if you really want powerful photo editing abilities but for those that just need a powerful image editor and don't want to pay $400, then Paint.NET is for you.

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The best part is that is totally free and is constantly being updated. Above you can see the latest beta version and it is awesome.

There are layers, history, and filters along with common tools like magic wand, pencil, brush, shapes, freeform shapes, and more. It has everything you need for creating images and more. It also works great with tablet PCs.

I've installed it on every computer I own and always recommend it to my friends. It's easier to use than Photoshop is and is friendly to newbies.

So what are you waiting for, get Paint.NET!