Sunday, September 28, 2008

Logitech Harmony One Video Review

Here's the video review as promised.

[flashvideo filename= /]

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Anti-game partisan, Jack Thompson DISBARRED

[caption id="attachment_731" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Jack Thompson, part douchebag, part asshole loses his privileges as an attorney."]Jack Thompson, part douchebag, part asshole loses his privilages as an attorney.[/caption]

If you're a fan of video games, and find yourself frequently reading up on video game news, then you've probably heard the name Jack Thompson before.   Jack Thompson is one of these dumbass people that have a personal vendetta against violent video games.  He makes these cases claiming the violence in todays video games are what bring kids to go on shooting rampages, (like Columbine) and therefore these games ought to be banned.   There have been numerous tests & surveys performed that have resulted in similar conclusions stating that video games have an insiginificant role on the decisions that todays kids make.

To give you an idea on Thompson's douchebag-ness, here's an example of a stunt he pulled:
In 1992, a complaint from Thompson led Florida Secretary of State Jim Smith to withhold a $25,000 grant to the Miami Film Festival; Thompson claimed that the festival was using state money to show pornographic films. In response, Thompson was named an "Art Censor of the Year" by the ACLU.  The next month, Thompson faced disbarment over allegations that he lied while making accusations against prominent Dade County lawyer Stuart Z Grossman.  Thompson ultimately admitted violating bar rules of professional conduct, including charges that he contacted people represented by an attorney without first contacting their attorneys, and agreed to pay $3,000 in fines and receive a public reprimand. **This excerpt is from Thompson's Wikipedia article**

Judge Dava Tunis recommended permanent disbarment for Jack Thompson, on account for being a complete douchebag against video games...  No, really.....

Kidding... He's been disbarred on account of ignoring the sanction placed upon him from being able to self-submit frivolous filings against video game companies.  Thompson ignored this rule and even attempted to submit a file against the referee asking for the report against him.

This whole disbarment started when Thompson was at the Florida Supreme Court February 19th - March 20th and was going through disciplinary proceedings, on account of abusing the legal system by submitting "numerous, frivolous and inappropriate filings".   Despite being warned not to do so.  In fact, it was reported that Thompson walked out of the courtroom at the final hearing in this matter because the Judge would not allow him to "to turn the disciplinary proceeding into a press conference.
"Thus, after careful consideration of the underlying facts in the instant cases, together with the Florida Standards for Imposing Lawyer Sanctions, the applicable aggravating and mitigating factors and the precedent case law, this Court makes the following recommendations for John Bruce Thompson:

A. Permanent disbarment, with no leave to reapply for admission.
B. Disciplinary costs currently totaling $43,675.35"

This guy is not a rational thinker.   He's the type that shoots first, then asks questions later; doesn't ever think about the consequences.   As far as I'm concerned, the idiot had it coming.

To learn more about douchebag Thompson, check out the following links:

Friday, September 19, 2008

Professor gets $100,000 grant to study World of Warcraft

The National Science Foundation has agreed to give the University of California Irvine a  $100,000 towards studying World of Warcraft (WoW).  Now the only reason why I can imagine they would choose the University of Irvine is because the campus is closest to Blizzard's HQ.

Note: Blizzard's offices used to be literally within walking distance of the University until Blizzard recently relocated to expand their company.

I can't fathom why somebody would need that much money towards a game that costs about $70 + $15/month subscription.  Lemme break down the actual costs here:

  • World of Warcraft: Classic - $19.99

  • Burning Crusade Expansion - $29.99

  • Wrath of the Lich King Expansion (not yet out) $39.99

  • Monthly subscription cost: $14.99

TOTAL COST: $104.96 (not including sales tax into the equation)

So where else would the remaining $99,896 go towards?  Well assuming you don't have a computer (who doesn't now a days) you could spend about $2,000 for a respectable gaming machine that would have more then enough power to run the game at maximum graphical settings.

That brings it down to  $97,896.

Ok, ok.... Enough speculation, this is where the focus of the money is going...

According to the OCRegister, the money is going to be used to study the disparity including the cultural and institutional factors.  Nardi a WoW fan herself did some of her own studying and had this to say:
The vast majority of Chinese players are not ‘gold farmers’ (people who play to generate game gold, which is then sold for real money).  They’re ordinary players like anyone.  The media has blown that story out of all proportion. Many people think Chinese play for a job.  They play for fun.

Chinese people play the more challenging form of World of Warcraft almost exclusively.  They find the less challenging form of the game ‘boring.’ Here, about 50 percent play the challenging form of the game and there, about 95 percent do.

I would agree that the media has blown the whole "all people that play WoW are gold farmers" stories out of proportion, and at the same time I think Nardi's research is pretty damn accurate.  World of Warcraft currently has about 5 million players alone in China which equates to about half of WoW's subscription.

I think the National Science Foundation could have put that money towards a better cause... I don't think they're going to learn anything new that's going to benefit anybody.


Thursday, September 18, 2008

Harmony One Remote review... Coming soon!

[caption id="attachment_707" align="alignright" width="300" caption="The Logitech Harmony One Universal Remote Control"]The Logitech Harmony One Universal Remote Control[/caption]

Wanted to give a heads up...

I have an upcoming review coming out (hopefully sometime early next week) on the Logitech Harmony One Universal Remote control.

This is a device I've owned for about 7 months now and I'd like to share with you my experience in using probably one of the most unique remote controls out there.

Stay tuned.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Each Nintendo employee generates $1.6 million for the company

[caption id="attachment_701" align="alignright" width="257" caption="Each Nintendo employee generates the company about $1.6 million per year."]Each Nintendo employee generates the company about $1.6 million per year.[/caption]

This statistic came as a surprise to me.  According to Financial Times, "the programmers of Super Mario Galaxy will generate more profit this year then the average Goldman Sachs banker has ever managed."  The average Goldman Sachs employee generates about $1.2 million, each employee at Google about $626,000.

Nintendo employs about 3,000 people - most of which work in game development and R&D.  The interesting thing about this is Nintendo actually outsources alot of the production, but has the producers of Nintendo overlook the projects.  The results of their profits comes from the volume of sales Nintendo has received from the Nintendo DS and the Wii.

Pretty amazing stuff.


Tuesday, September 16, 2008

McCain - Rick Rolled Obama Style

You may remember the first version of the video posted here, the same guy whom edited that video released this awesome compilation of footage staging it as if Obama took over the Republican Convention:

Monday, September 15, 2008

Fitbit - Tracks your physical activity, & sleep

[caption id="attachment_655" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Fit Bit, (prototype displayed) a tiny monitoring device that tracks your physical activity"]Fit Bit, a tiny monitoring device that tracks your physical activity[/caption]

I've never been one that's been too conscious of my physical well-being though I need to start taking it into consideration.  I was listening to Leo Laporte's TWiT podcast, and they mentioned this website, that's working on a device which will monitor your physical activity throughout the day as well as monitor your sleeping habits.  The idea seemed interesting so I decided to dig a little deeper and get a better idea as to what this product does.

The company Fitbit Inc., was founded by two former members of CNET, Eric Friedman and James Park, both who were former co-founders of Windup Labs, a P2P file sharing photo site which later was acquired by CNET.

The Fitbit Tracker is a ultra-compact wireless wearable device that automatically tracks and wirelessly uploads data about your activities, such as exercise intensity levels, calories burned, sleep quality, and measurement of the number of steps/distance traveled. (1)

One interesting about the FitBit tracker is that it uses motion sensing technology (similar to the Nintendo Wii) which allows it to capture your movement/activity throughout the day.  The pictures you see are not the finalized product; the tracker is to include an OLED screen which will provide you calories burned, steps and distance taken.   It will also provide you information showing progression towards your goal in a form of an avatar that will change as your advance or fall behind.  They mentioned that it's been tested hundreds of times on several different body sets; meaning they've had people of all sizes try this thing out and the accuracy of this tracker is said to be about 95-97% accurate. (2)

[caption id="attachment_657" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="The Fitbit tracker charging station.   It's my guess that it also acts as the base station that receives the information from the tracker and loads it online automatically."]Charging station for the fitbit.  It's my guess that this is also the device that recieves the information from the tracker, and loads it online automatically.[/caption]

The tracker will include a base station which uploads your activity wirelessly online to the Fitbit website where you can view a more detailed report of your status.  Synchronization is automatic assuming you're within range of the base station.

Although I wasn't able to find any information about your physical activity and goal information being private, I am assuming this is the case.  According to their press release, the website is supposed have a "motivational looking" interface, which can be sharable among family and friends, and allow you to log your nutrition weight and other health information in order to gain a complete picture of your health.

The estimated battery life (between charges) they claim is approximately 10 days.  I would hope this is true because the longer this device is off you, the less accurate reports you'd get.

[caption id="attachment_666" align="alignright" width="259" caption="A sample of what the Fitbit Report/Dashboard will look like."]A sample of what the Fitbit Report/Dashboard will look like.[/caption]

The entire Fitbit bundle will cost you under $100 and there are no additional monthly fees to access the reports online.  The Fitbit device should be available late Dec. 2008 - Early 2009.

I've decided to pre-order one of these things, to at least try this thing out, granted I'm not content in saying this device works, I'll play the guinea pig here and write about it whenever I do get it.


  1. Fitbit Website

  2. Fitbit Press Release

Friday, September 12, 2008

A Phil Hendrie flashback.... "Clang"

[caption id="attachment_650" align="alignright" width="200" caption="Phil Hendrie, radio personality best known for the voices he does on his show."]Phil Hendrie, radio personality best known for the voices he does on his show.[/caption]

I stumbled across this audio bit while I was trying to make space on my hard drive.  This is a flashback to the Phil Hendrie Show where Phil's assistant Bud Dickman helps Phil order out Chinese takeout.  Phil is unable to understand what the guy is saying, and Bud out of the blue starts speaking "Chinese" with the guy taking the order.   Hilarity ensues.  Listen to audio clip below.


Also see:

  • The Phil Hendrie Show Story

  • Phil Hendrie

  • Bud Dickman

Monday, September 8, 2008

Spore's DRM causing major backlash

It shouldn't come as a surprise that once again DRM (Digital Rights Management) is causing an uproar within the internet community.  There have been other games which have had the same issues in the past including Mass Effect, and Bioshock.  The game Spore includes DRM from SecuROM which places the following restrictions upon you:

  • 3 Installations of the game*

  • Mandantory online activation to play the game

  • After the 3rd installation, you are required to contact EA and explain why to them you need to reinstall your game

* EA is claiming it's 3 "concurrently active" licenses, however other documentation found online from EA counters these claims.

[caption id="attachment_633" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="SecuROM restricting the legitimate people who fork over the cash to buy this game are ultimately the ones that get screwed over with this copy protection crap."]SecuROM restricting the legimate people who fork over the cash to buy this game are ultimately the ones that get screwed over with this copy protection crap.[/caption]

Because of the DRM included, users were claiming that SecuROM is installing rootkits on their computers.  However no true evidence of a rootkit has ever been found.   This accusation was a result from Microsoft's Rootkit Revealer which gave a false positive because of some folder and registry entries placed by SecuROM.  Ken Fisher from Ars Technica helped clear the air with this rootkit rumor by investigating the issue himself.  The result of his investigation was exactly what SecuROM stated "Those folder and registry entries are only used for storage of license information to assist in activating the game online." (1)

People are pissed off at this DRM because they are essentially "renting" the game from EA since the installations are limited.  I can't blame these people honestly.  The reviewers from Amazon are certainly expressing their frustration.  The average star rating for this game (currently as of 9/8/2008) 1½ of 5 stars.  Reviewer J. Stewart from Amazon gave his opinion of the game:
I have long awaited purchasing this game. I have been slavering and drooling over videos since they were released. NOW I find out that there is simply no option to purchase this game, that it's a $50 rental or nothing else.

I won't rent my video games, EA.

The DRM on this thing is less friendly than my recent colonoscopy- You get three installs. That's it. No install returned for uninstallation, or anything else. You install it three times, then you're out $50.

No, thank you, EA.

When you take your head out of the sand and realize that this DRM prevents MANY more sales than it "saves", (As it doesn't save a single sale. Pirates were passing a cracked version of this game around 5 days PRIOR to release date.) give me a call, won't you? (2)

EA should have learned learned from the mistake 2KGames made.  2KGames, publisher of Bioshock removed their DRM a few months later because of the backlash the game received.  The midnight release of Bioshock was canceled in Austria because of technical issues that stemmed from the activation servers which unlocked the game. This among other issues drove 2KGames to the point where the activation was more trouble then it was worth. (3)

What will it take for these publishing companies like EA to realize that they're doing more harm then good?  It's one thing to put in a product key activation to allow people to play the game online, but limiting users from being able to install the game THEY OWN as many times as they want is not the way to handle the situation.  You're always going to get backlash from your fans, and these stunts are result in people turning to piracy because it removes these restrictions.

Hey game publishers, get it through your heads, DRM hurts nobody but the honest consumer...  Stop screwing them over.


  1. Ars Technica stating no rootkit found from SecuROM on Bioshock

  2. Amazon's reviews of Spore

  3. Bioshock's DRM controversy on Wikipedia

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Famous voice over actor, Don LaFontaine dies aged 68

[caption id="attachment_618" align="alignright" width="150" caption="Don LaFontaine, famous voice actor, dead at age 68. (August 26, 1940 – September 1, 2008)"]Don LaFontaine, famous voice actor, dead at age 68.[/caption]

That sucks!  Don LaFontaine had an awesome voice!  He was the guy you'd hear doing the voice overs for movie trailers.

He died on Monday at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.   He had complications of Pneumothorax. (collapsed lung)

LaFontaine, had been doing voice overs for the last 25 years, and earned the title "King of Voice overs."   Outside of doing voice acting for trailers, he also voiced Entertainment Tonight, The Insider, as well as other shows on the ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX networks.  If you've ever listen to the TV or radio, chances are you would recognize his voice as he's done hundreds of thousands of voice overs between the two.

Don was considered one of the most busiest actors in the Screen Actors Guild (SAG).


  1. Entertainment Tonight - link broken

  2. Don LaFontaine's article on Wikipedia

Google launching their own browser: Google Chrome

This came as a surprise to me that Google themselves would develop their own open source internet browser when Firefox is already (to me) the most superior browser out there today.

However upon further reading, Google might have something that could make the Firefox browser yesterdays news.  John Lilly, CEO of Mozilla doesn't seem at all worried, yet.  Google had some agreement for funding for them for the next 2-3 years.  Although it's not an issue now because they're buddies now, but this is the internet, and things can change and evolve without notice.

What makes Google Chrome interesting is what they're focusing on.  Rather then divulge all their time focusing on what all internet browsers do, render pages on your screens, Google is really focusing on adding better application integration and memory management into their Chrome Browser.

[caption id="attachment_607" align="alignright" width="256" caption="Google explaining how if there is a bug encountered with many of the applications that run within a browser, the tab running that application will display a sad face file if something is wrong."]Google explaining how if there is a bug encountered with many of the applications that run within a browser, the tab running that application will display a sad face file.[/caption]

The idea is rather then have the browser run things like JavaScript, Java, Flash, and other applications into one process, have each of these processes run separately.  Google wants to run each process in a separate tab on their browser.  So while the one tab is busy processing that Java application, you can still easily browse elsewhere without it impacting your browsing experience.  If that Java application for whatever reason crashes, then rather then having to shut down the entire browser and lose what pages you're looking at, that tab running the Java application will close itself out instead.

Now considering this multi-process idea,  the browser will use more memory up front to handle these applications.  But over time, it'll also mean less memory bloat.  You might be asking yourself "What does that mean?"  Let me give you an example:

Say you open your existing browser to start a new web browsing session, none of the components used to render web pages are loaded.  You go to your favorite website say for example, this website requires an application to playback the videos on your browser.  YouTube requires Adobe Flash which is one of the many applications you use, and you may not even know that.  You type in a different web address and visit some other website, like for example.  That Flash application will still remain in memory even though you're not using it anymore, and will until you shut down your browser entirely.  Now lets assume you haven't shut down your browser yet and you open up a new tab and leave open.  The new website you visit (we'll use in this example) will also use Flash, but when visiting Newgrounds, you'll notice for whatever reason the site is sluggish and you grow impatient because of how slow loading it becomes. Google Chrome will allow you to look at the running processes (just like Windows Task Manager when you press CTRL+ALT+DEL) and see what the problem is, and allow you eliminate it instead of having to shut down your browser entirely.  This will allow you to eliminate the process causing memory bloating and keep better control of things.

There is much more that Google explains about their Browser, if you're into these nerdy things, I'd advise you to check out their comic explaining how their browser is going to work.  They did a very good job explaining the idea.  Very interesting stuff.

Google Chrome is available for you to download and try out: (keep in mind this is a BETA)

Monday, September 1, 2008

My review on the Blackberry Curve 8330

Well here is it guys, I promised you a review on this phone, although I wished I could have got it out earlier this week but I was busy with other things.  My apologies for the delay.

The Blackberry Curve 8330 is the 4th model of the Curve series.   Like other Blackberries, this phone has the basic features you'd expect any Blackberry to have:

  • Phone capabilities (duh)

  • Wireless E-mail

  • Camera

  • Organizer

  • Text Messaging

  • Mobile Internet

This particular Blackberry Curve 8330 has the most features available for the Curve series.  This model has everything listed above and more including GPS as well as video recording unlike the other Curve phones.

Placing Calls/Receiving Calls & Quality

[caption id="attachment_577" align="alignleft" width="225" caption="The screen you'd see as a call is in process"]The screen you'd see while a call was in progress.[/caption]

Surprisingly, there are a few cell phones despite being called a "phone" that actually suck at being a phone, yet they have other features which are FAR better then the "phone".  There could be a number of things that attribute to this; a crappy earpiece speaker, making it hard for you to hear or understand the call; or a crappy mic, making it hard for the caller to understand you.  OR... The antenna within the phone which could be core problem with the call quality in general.

The phone quality for the Blackberry 8330 is very good.  People are very easy to understand and the people whom I've made calls to claim they can hear me clearly on their end as well.  The phone includes a speakerphone, which I've also used on numerous calls and it would seem that if the volume is turned all the way up, the output becomes so loud it'll actually distort what people are saying.  My recommendation if you use the speakerphone is to leave the volume setting to halfway and you should be able to understand what the caller is saying.

One neat feature I've noticed with this phone is the microphone seems to change when you toggle the call between the earpiece and speakerphone.  When the call is on speakerphone, the mic sensitivity increases itself to compensate so that anybody within 4½ feet from the phone will be picked up and the caller can easily hear the conversation on your end.

The built in antenna seems to be as good as any typical cell phone.  The signal quality inside the house where I am is usually 3 out of 5 bars.  My prior phone, the Motorola IC902 gave off the same signal strength, so judging between both phones I would say that the antenna is as good as any other phone.

[caption id="attachment_574" align="alignright" width="225" caption="An incoming call on the Blackberry. You can also see a picture that appears to the left of the caller information."]An incoming call on the Blackberry.  You can also see a picture that appears to the left of the caller information.[/caption]

When you make a call, you can clearly see the numbers (appearing in a large font) displayed on the screen as you're dialing the number.  You'll see additional information on the screen as well when you're in a phone call. (refer to the picture on the right) When you receive a call, you can easily see caller ID details (name & number) as well as a picture displayed to the left (if one is set) on the screen.

The Blackberry Curve 8330 also have Bluetooth capabilities and when used in conjunction with my Jawbone, the call quality when using the earpiece is very good.  Read my Bluetooth Jawbone Earpiece Review.

The Blackberry of course like any other cell phone has a call log showing a list of calls placed/received as well as a timestamp.  Clicking on any of the entries in the list will pull up additional options allowing you to call them back, e-mail, text message, etc..

Additional Features: E-mails, Instant Messaging, & Applications

This review is rather long and I'd rather not have this review stretch my home page 2 miles down, so if you like to read the full review on what else the Blackberry phone has to offer click "continue reading" below.