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March 5, 2009

Harmonix: Your Quality Control is SHIT. [Rant] | Posted at 12:05 AM

Don't buy Rock Band 2 drums, they suck.

Update: Yes, I know that is not the RB drum set… but my rant still applies. By the way, my old RB drum set (that got replaced) and gave to my friend is now broken as well.

Dear Harmonix Quality Control,

Okay, I think I've had enough of this… and yes, I'm going to swear in this post, go cry to your mommy you little baby.

Since buying Rock Band 1 and subsequently Rock Band 2, I've seen or experienced these issues:

  • Replace my RB1 guitar (strummer)
  • Replace my RB1 drum set (sensitivity)
  • Throw away my broken pedal
  • The replacement guitar strum bar STILL sucks but I only have it because it looks sweet
  • Watched my friend's RB1 drum pedal break (and all the thousands of other people)
  • Watched my friend's RB1 drum pads break (yellow didn't work)
  • Watched another person's RB2 drum pads break

Oh and by the way, my girlfriend's 2 year old Guitar Hero III controller? It still is fully functional (battery sometimes gets loose). Yes, they have problems, but at least they last longer than 60 days.

On New Year's day I purchased stand-alone drums for Rock Band 2 off Amazon considering, "Hey, they must have fixed all the crap that plagued the Rock Band 1 sets, so who needs a warranty?!"

Guess what?

They're already broken. That means they're worse than RB1 drums.

First, the drum pedal wasn't working (Valentine's Day) and the pads were fine. Okay… Then my Xbox breaks (fine, not your fault) and when I get it back, the drums don't sync. They're still blinking right now, in fact. Such a simple little thing that EVERYONE ELSE GETS RIGHT.

Yes, I've tried everything the other hundreds of people have tried.

This is sickening. I paid $80 for these drums, they work for a few weeks, then 62 days later they break and I can't return them because I bought them off Amazon. That's $80 down the drain. Unbelievable.

Also, I'm not the only one. Plenty of people in these threads have said they've needed to return the sets twice until they got a good set. THREE TIMES until a good set?

It was tolerable when I could easily get them replaced without this stupid 60 day warranty bullshit. I could get them replaced within a week or two. Fine. And now because you know you have shoddy manufacturing you decide to put a limit because I bet so many people have returned faulty products.

You make good games, excellent games, but you make shitty instruments (or your manufacturer makes shitty instruments). Neversoft was correct when they said we'd buy their instruments when your shit breaks. I probably will go out and buy the GH drums when I have some money to throw away again.

GET YOUR SHIT TOGETHER, SON.

Love,

A Loyal Fan [to the game]

PS. I may forgive you of your transgressions if you can somehow manage to get Blind Guardian, Ensiferum, Heavenly, Helloween, better Iron Maiden (done!), W.A.S.P., Stratovarius, Sonata Arctica, and A Night at the Opera by Queen onto the Rock Band music store.

In other words, I will maybe never forgive you.

December 9, 2008

How To: Create a Grid of Album Covers [Zune] | Posted at 1:16 PM

album-grid-zune-software

If you are looking for a way to easily create a grid of your favorite album covers or artists, there is a decent implementation of the technique in the Zune Software. You don't need a Zune to use it.

All you do is let it scan in your library, then start playing a song. Click the bar graph in the bottom right corner to go into Now Playing view. You will see the program fill in your albums like it shows above.

You can take a screen shot and cut out whatever you want.

This gave me an idea, though. There's no easy way to customize how that grid looks because it constantly gets updated. So I was thinking of making some simple software that would do the same thing, only with better customization.

It'd be a fun project and someone would find it useful, I think. Winter break work!

October 24, 2008

Lala.com – All Sorts of Awesome [Music] | Posted at 2:27 PM

If you don't know about Lala, you're missing out. I heard about it on Buzz Out Loud and decided to give it a try, it's awesome.

Basically, there are several things you can do:

  • You can buy albums/songs as "streaming only" versions for only 10 cents. Albums cost 80 cents.
  • You can buy the MP3 for 89 cents. If you bought the web only version, then it's only 79 cents to upgrade.
  • You can listen to any album or song the first time for free.
  • You can match your collection to Lala's and access your collection online anytime, anywhere for free.
  • Oh yah, it's DRM free.

I think what really makes Lala great is the ability to listen to any song or album you want for free the first time. This really does it for me since I like to listen to all sorts of artists but Amazon/iTunes/everywhere only has 30 second previews which are useless. With Lala, I can listen to the whole album before buying. The quality is also great, I'd guess 128kbps.

The other thing that makes Lala awesome is the ability to buy web only versions of the song. This is great because it's cheaper at the expense of not being able to put it on my MP3 player.

Of course, if you buy the web songs… you have to hope that Lala stays in business to keep your songs. I would assume that if it happened that they had to close, they'd refund your songs.

October 17, 2008

One Sentence Review: Scream, Aim, Fire [Album] | Posted at 3:02 PM

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Title: Scream, Aim, Fire
Artist: Bullet for my Valentine
Review: There is definitely some good songs on this album and damn if they aren't catchy.
Grade: B+

Buy it from Amazon MP3

September 16, 2008

One Sentence Review: Death Magnetic [Album] | Posted at 4:32 PM

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Title: Death Magnetic
Artist: Metallica
Review: Well it ain't St. Emo, definitely way better, and perhaps even "considerably" good.
Grade: A-

Buy it off Amazon MP3

August 22, 2008

Amazon Daily Deal and Friday 5 for 5 [Aphex Twin] | Posted at 10:48 AM

Today’s MP3 deal is Aphex Twin’s Classics. I don’t own any Aphex and $2 for a compilation definitely isn’t bad.

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Aphex Twin – Classics

Today’s Five for Five deal is also worth checking out. The nicest deal is the Beach Boys’ Songs of Summer, an compilation with over 30 songs for only $5. It was an immediate buy, for a fan of classic rock.

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Also up for grabs is Beastie Boys, Weezer, Fleet Foxes, and Pink Martini.

[via Amazon MP3]

August 20, 2008

Hell Hath Frozen Over: All Fake Musical Instruments Are Compatible [Amazingness] | Posted at 10:29 AM

Peace Ninjas; Credit: JoyStiq.com

I was hoping to hear this news… a bit ago, Sony announced that the PS3 versions of Rock Band, GH:WT, and Rock Revolution instruments will be fully compatible with each other.

Not to be outdone, Microsoft announced today that they are also cool and the Xbox 360 versions will be fully compatible as well!

You know what this means, right? Now there’s no excuse whatsoever not to get Rock Band 2 and Guitar Hero: World Tour.

[via JoyStiq]

August 13, 2008

One Sentence Review: A Night at the Opera [Music] | Posted at 11:00 AM

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Title: A Night at the Opera
Artist: Queen
Review: Wow, just WOW this album is crazy good and blew away my expectations.
Grade: A+

Buy it from Amazon MP3

August 12, 2008

Braid, Flogging Molly, Football, and so on… [Fun Weekends] | Posted at 12:03 AM

Braid

I was introduced to Braid through a friend of mine, who said it was “an amazing concept for a game.? I had heard mention of this beast in Penny Arcade’s news post, but only fleetingly.

So Saturday I sat down and played the Trial Demo. I instantly liked it. I bought it and I’m still working on it. I’m on World 5 now, and damn it’s getting tough.

Basically the whole mechanic Braid relies on is time manipulation. At first, it’s pretty simple… you can rewind time and you use it to get to the puzzle pieces. However, each world gets increasingly more complicated. By World 4, I was scratching my head and wondering what the hell. First, there are objects that are sparkly green which are not affected by time. Second, at some points you have to rewind time very fast before a door closes or a platform returns to its position. Then, you have to use enemies as allies, to get keys in hard to reach spaces. Now I am at the point where there is a shadow dimension, and when you rewind time, your shadow does what you did in the future. It makes it way more complicated.

The price for the game is $15. To some people, this is the end of the world. While they are fine paying for their fast food and their carbonated soda, they shun the notion of paying $15 for a quality game. Here’s the thing: Braid is a good game. Some have mentioned that it’s just a Flash-game lookalike. So… because a game is 2D, it must mean that it’s a Flash rip-off? Last time I checked there were a few consoles way back in the day that did something akin to 2D games. But wait, silly me, I forgot that Flash invented the 2D platformer! Besides the fact that most flash games are stupid and poorly designed, what does it matter? It wasn’t created by a teenager in his mom’s basement. It was created by an independent developer who paid money and spent time to make the game.

My point is that $15 isn’t a whole lot to pay. It’s one dinner at a restaurant. It’s one and a half albums. It’s two outings to Arby’s. It’s a new movie. However you want to view it, it’s not that much. Don’t you have a job or something? That’s 1.5-2 hours of work or less! If you spent 2 hours making the money to buy it and you get 6+ hours of entertainment out of it, doesn’t that pay for itself?

Irish Fest

The other thing I did this weekend was go to Irish Fest and see Flogging Molly. I’ve seen them before when they came to the U but this was a different beast.

It was a lot of fun. I got a keychain with my Irish family name on it, Gallagher.

Keychain

I also went with my girlfriend, her mom, and my other two friends so I was surrounded by pretty women.

Irish Fest 075

That tall guy in the upper right with the white shirt was pretty high the whole time.

Needless to say, Flogging Molly was awesome. Here follow some photos of the event:

Irish Fest 8-11-2008 11-27-18 PM

Irish Fest 8-11-2008 11-27-38 PM

Irish Fest 8-11-2008 11-27-44 PM

My camera can’t take the best pictures… my friend had the nice camera:

Irish Fest 8-11-2008 11-27-32 PM

It was a lot of fun and I was just glad I got to go this year. Parking over on Harriet Island was tough but we found a good place that had a lot of spaces open and wasn’t too far away.

The crowd during the show was crazy. We weren’t super close but we were in that zone of people who want to get closer, so we were continuously pushing people around. My girlfriend went back earlier to get water and had a tough time finding us, but she did and after a short while moved back to a more relaxed portion of the crowd to properly enjoy the show. Since you can’t get out of there without shoving people aside, some guy took offense to me trying to burrow my way through, but he let me through anyway even though he tried to shove me back a bit. I’m sorry I had to push you, sir, but suck it, I had my girlfriend in tow.

Football

I went to the Vikings pre-season game last, when was it, Friday? Yes, that’s it. My friend’s family had extra tickets so I went with her. I had never been to a football game before so I decided I’d try something new. It was interesting, to say the least. I know the mechanics of the game so I understood what was happening but I still enjoy watching basketball more. The football crowd, however, is more entertaining. Lots of drunk people saying nonsense.

There were some guys to the upper left of us who were hilarious, though. They were smashed but they were funny, not unfunny obnoxious-like. The guys behind us were obnoxious and only slightly funny. One of them asked me who I thought would make it to play-offs: Vikings or Dallas. Not really caring or knowing much about such matters, I just said Vikings, to which one guy nodded his head in enigmatic agreement and the other saying that I was “smoking? and “high on shit,? but in a joking sort of way. I wasn’t about to argue.

Of course, if you followed the game, you know what we lost… which wasn’t a massive surprise. We left close to the end, though about half the stadium beat us to it.

Aquatennial

Earlier in the month we went to the Aquatennial fireworks display, reportedly the fifth best in the nation, according to my buddy. They were fantastic, that’s for sure! I didn’t get to see any fireworks on the 4th, so this substituted very well instead.

Aquatennial 8-11-2008 11-25-47 PM 8-11-2008 11-25-47 PM Aquatennial 8-11-2008 11-25-47 PM 8-11-2008 11-25-50 PM

Aquatennial 8-11-2008 11-25-47 PM 8-11-2008 11-25-54 PM Aquatennial 8-11-2008 11-25-47 PM 8-11-2008 11-25-57 PM

Aquatennial 8-11-2008 11-25-47 PM 8-11-2008 11-26-01 PM Aquatennial 8-11-2008 11-25-47 PM 8-11-2008 11-26-07 PM

Aquatennial 8-11-2008 11-25-47 PM 8-11-2008 11-26-12 PM

Besides the big tree in the way, it was superb.

August 7, 2008

Amazon Daily Deal: Dragonforce [Awesome] | Posted at 10:52 PM

Oh yah, who’s awesome? Me.

“Today's Amazon MP3 Daily Deal goes out to Kamran Ayub of Minnesota who requested a little more metal. Dragonforce's The Valley of the Damned, down from an everyday low price of $8.91 to $2.99.? – Amazon Daily Deal FB Notes

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Damn. Right.

This album was before they went mainstream and is chock full of cheesy awesomeness. Needless to say, I bought it.

August 5, 2008

Thoughts: On The Band Called “Queen” [Awesome Music] | Posted at 9:39 AM

I am ashamed to admit that I did not own any album by Queen until last night. On Amazon MP3 the Daily Deal was “A Night at the Opera? for $4. Obviously it was too sweet to pass up.

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Here’s the thing. I thought the album was going to be mediocre because even though I love Fat Bottomed Girls I didn’t like We Will Rock You very much. But in fact, this album is fricking amazing.

I love all the songs on it… I had never really heard Bohemian Rhapsody though I knew of it and I can see why it’s such a classic. Some of my other favorites are Prophet’s Song and Good Company.

Even though it was the Daily Deal yesterday, it’s still $4 so grab it while its hot!

August 3, 2008

Bands To Watch For [Reminder] | Posted at 1:04 AM

Note to self: Watch these bands for potential album/song buying.

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Firewind

Heard these guys off the Century Media Summer Sampler. I liked “Head Up High? from The Premonition.

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Bullet for My Valentine

Usually I’d kind of pass this off as metalcore, and maybe it is, but it’s really metalcore. It has lots of elements of good metal… with maybe the exception of the singer’s voice, but it’s passable and I find myself humming these tunes a lot. Many of the songs are catchy and neat sounding.

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Nachtmystium

This is a weird album but sort of draws me in… I enjoyed the track “Assassins? because it has a catchy chorus. The other things are mixes of different genre and sounds but still incorporate a blend of black metal elements. Weird but kind of cool.

July 14, 2008

Amazon Daily Deal: The Doors | Posted at 9:41 AM

Are you a Doors fan? I have a couple albums thanks to my girlfriend but I couldn’t pass this up.

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$4 The Doors – The Future Starts Here: The Essential Doors Hits

[via Amazon MP3]

July 9, 2008

Bands I’m Watching | Posted at 11:23 PM

I wish Amazon had a wishlist or a “Save for later? feature with its MP3 albums. I am one of those people who browse a lot, listening, then later buy something.

Here’s who I am watching right now:

Epica – The Divine Conspiracy

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Another female-fronted metal band. Apparently one of the band member’s brother is head of After Forever which makes sense. Epica sounds similar, but I like it.

Ride the Sky – New Protection

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Never heard of these guys but I am really digging the sound of this album. It’s like power metal but it’s also progressive, too. The drummer has been in Gamma Ray and Helloween.

Testament – The Formation of Damnation

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This is pretty heavy and I don’t own any Testament. I like the sound, though, it’s very headbang-worthy.

Spellblast – Horns of Silence

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I’ve never heard of these guys but I really like their sound. It has some elements of folk and power metal, it’s fun. I actually found them accidentally searching for one of my favorite bands, Dark Moor.

Amorphis – Tales from the Thousand Lakes

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I’ve heard of Amorphis but never checked them out. They are a bit heavier and darker than Ensiferum, but I like their songs. Ensiferum did a cover of Into Hiding that I really like.

I don’t know when or if I’ll buy these albums, but these ones have caught my attention.

Today I bought “The Scarecrow? by Avantasia. I own “The Metal Opera? and I really liked it. I listened to the previews for this album and I also really liked it. The Scarecrow title track is fantastic.

Yesterday I bought “Sagas? by Equilibrium and I love it. I’ve listened to it three times already.

One Sentence Review: Sagas | Posted at 10:26 PM

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Title: Sagas
Artist: Equilibrium
Genre: Epic Black Metal
Review: I was not disappointed by this album, I am really enjoying it a lot.
Grade: A-

Buy it from Amazon

July 6, 2008

Amazon Daily Deal: Van Halen, 36 songs for $7 | Posted at 6:42 PM

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Today’s deal is a $7 album worth over $35. 36 songs for $7!

And I don’t have any Van Halen, so this was an instant buy.