Monthly Archives: January 2010

Mass Effect 2 + Chuck?

Great news if you like Chuck and the actress that plays Sarah Walker, one Yvonne Strahovski.  She does the voice acting for the character “Miranda” in the game.  Evidently she served as the actual character model as well.  Pretty cool – and if we learned anything from Mass Effect, it’s that the lead character can get a little freaky with his crew mates.  Here’s to hoping 😉

Looks pretty close to me...

Looks pretty close to me...

Mass Effect 2 is sounding better all the time!


Zune Update 4.2

Running Windows update with the Zune software installed gets you a little point release upgrade.  Ars Technica is all excited about how this software added some mysterious phone support.  Myself, I am thrilled that xvid, avi, and divx are all recognized by the player!  Even though they have to be re-encoded to work on the Zune, they now show up in the library and the re-encode is handled natively by the Zune software which uses at least two cores and seems to give good audio/video quality.  Previously, I had to re-encode all the crap from the internet into .mp4 or .wmv manually and separately.  This additional codec support is going to be a huge time and effort saver for me.  Evidently the Zune HD will play these files back natively in the future, which would be perfect.  With anyluck, they’ll support .mkv files in the next few months too, totally eliminating all that messy manual re-encoding 🙂

Which, incidentally, brings me to the big new iPad.  Its codec support is pretty sucktastic and speaks to how tightly integrated it will have to be with iTunes to get crap onto that device.  It really is just a big iPod touch…  it gets less and less cool the more I think about it.

I would take a 7″ Zune HD for $300 though :p  (Please, Kristin?)


Mass Effect 2 Launched, crap…

I’ve been really enjoying Mass Effect, the only issue being the free time sink that the game is to play.  I’ve logged twenty two hours of play time so far, which is likely enough time to have blasted through the main campaign but I am the type of player who just cannot ignore the side missions.

The truth is that the game is truly epic and has a attention to detail that is second to none.  Realistically, the only issues I have had so far are around inventory management which is fairly awful even compared to Fallout 3 (no hotkey to open the inventory directly?  you have to open the inventory to switch weapons?) and just grotesque after having played a dungeon crawler like Torchlight where inventory management is a constant mini-game in of itself.

Evidently Mass Effect 2 fixed these issues, but I am pledging not to read about it until I finish the first one.  I am not going to buy the game until at least its first price cut anyway, but knowing that there is a better game out there I could be playing will crush my desire to finish this one.  After 22 hours, I need to have some closure.

If you play Mass Effect 2, please don’t tell me about it for a couple weeks 🙂


Epic Choke Job by the Vikings

What hurt the most about the loss last night to New Orleans Saints was that it was a game, barring one statistic, that the Vikings should have won.

Look at these stats!

The Vikings had twice as many first downs, twice as many yards and ten minutes more time of possession.  Perhaps the only truly glaring team mistake was the yardage allowed on kick returns; a long kick return to start off Over Time basically sealed the deal.  Even on penalties, the Saints did worse despite the crowd noise.  The fact remains that they shouldn’t have been in overtime at all except for one important stat.

Turn overs.  Six fumbles, three lost.  That must be some sort of record.  New Orleans put the ball on the ground three times and only lost it once.  That punt return fumble by Reggie Bush should have resulted in at least three points (no overtime!) but AP and Favre managed to bungle a hand off about three seconds later and give it back to the Saints.  Brett Favre had two interceptions whereas Brees had none.  Too bad Favre threw the interception at the end of the game that took Minnesota out of the drivers seat for what happened to be the rest of the game.

It was like the offense just didn’t want to win!  Two opponent red zone lost fumbles, one in our own red zone that set up a New Orleans TD.  The defense did their part I believe, it has to be almost impossible to keep the other team from scoring when they get the ball on your ten yard line.

Bottom line, the Vikings had a great team and a great shot at winning a super bowl this year.   They’ll still be a good team next year but it is hard to believe that they will do this well and have so many of the right pieces again.    It is really disappointing.  Dave Brahn welcomed me to Vikings fanhood after the loss last night.

Thanks, I guess.


Fun with Update Manager

After having a mornings worth of issues troubleshooting an error in vCenter Update Manager, I stumbled across a great blog entry that had the answer.  After we had a server (the server I am trying to patch, ironically) act up and give some VM’s fits, our first reaction was to bring it up to date with patches.  Update Manager wouldn’t do anything but scan hosts for baseline compliance, which makes patching pretty difficult.

First, I restarted the Update Manager service without any change.  Next, I followed the above blogs guidance and unregistered some orphaned VM’s.  Even though the server I was having issues with didn’t have any VM’s on it and was in maintenance mode, this seems to have turned the trick.

Now if I could only find the Update Manger logs in Server 2008…


Batteries… do you want in?

Now that we are using the Wii more again, it has highlighted the chronic battery shortage in our house, specifically of AA batteries for Wiimotes, keyboards, mice, guitars etc.  A year or so ago, I purchased 24 low discharge rechargeable  generics and they have worked pretty well.  In case you don’t pay attention to battery technology, a new rechargeable is on the scene.  These new batteries retain their power like alkalines and don’t have a memory effect.

The cream of the crop are Sanyo Enelopes but they are pricey ($24 for 8, $3 each.)  I have found a good deal on equivalent and well reviewed batteries but the shipping is killer for just a couple packs, but doesn’t increase much when you add more as 5+ packages adds like $.50.  To that end, I would like to  propose a group purchase.  Let me know by Monday if you would like to purchase some AA batteries and I’ll aggregate a big order so we all get a good deal.

Let me know 🙂


Torchlight, great game…

Over the Christmas break, I grabbed Torchlight for Kristin and me from steam really cheaply ($10 & $5, respectively) which is showing itself to be a decent investment.   I was a bit hesitant at first, as I had really loved Diablo and Diablo 2, which this game is modeled after, but never really gotten into other genre games like Titan Quest.  After buying it for Christmas for Kristin and watching her play for about forty minutes, I knew the next time I saw it on sale that I should buy it.

Basically, you are a hero in a fantasy fiction land with wizards and trolls and you have swords and pistols and magic spells with which to kill the bad guys.  It is a click fest with hoards of enemies coming at a time with each needing to receive a click to be attacked.  There is loot to pick up in the form of upgraded weapons and armor to go with the fairly cookie cutter story line.  If you are familiar with Diablo, then this is all familiar.  If not, then this may be something new to be tried when the game is cheap.  It typically sits around $20 and occasionally drops to $10 and rarely to $5.  I wouldn’t expect the $5 price again too soon.

I’ve managed to log some nine hours into the game on what I suspect is too low of a difficulty setting for my game-play expectations.  I started on normal, which is great if you are looking for casual gaming.  I will see it through though as I think I am getting towards the end.  Unlike Diablo where you carry your character forward, you instead retire your character to bestow benefits on the next.   How this works is a bit mystical but I am looking forward to checking it out.

If I have a grip so far, however, it is that the action gets a bit muddled in the mobs and sometimes it feels like I am barely part of the action.  Walking around with a small army (8+) of summoned henchmen and the ability to setup “traps” which are more like auto turrets, I find my character not even involved in the battles.  Last night I beat a main level boss without actually shooting that boss myself.  Another boss battle against three minibosses at once went so quickly that I only had one left to target in the first few seconds.  As this is likely a function of the games difficulty level, I am looking forward at trying it again at a higher difficulty level.

The art and graphics are pretty good for a budget game.  They are more abstract and exaggerated  but effective.  One of the benefits of this are some really low system requirements with an actual “netbook” mode for your mobile gaming fix.  The test PC in this case has been one that might have been high end three years ago, a 3800+ x2 processor, a 9600GSO video card and 4GB of ram.   It runs the game at a resolution of 1920*1080 with the eye candy on high without hiccup.

Game rating: A

Solid & stable fun for the right price that runs on just about anything.  This is what PC gaming is all about 🙂

Now I just need to put this down long enough to be Mass Effect before the sequel comes out…

Creative Gigaworks S700, RIP

It was a sad day yesterday when I realized that my amp had perished on my prized set of PC speakers.  The Creative Gigaworks was a primo set from 2005, boasting 560 watts RMS of power (probably not really…), 5.1 sound with very solid 8″ subwoofer and remote control to accompany its THX certification.  They were very nice, and they were also $350+.

Perhaps the sad thing is that I should be happy they lasted so long, threads like this one are easy to find with google.  There is evidently a 105 page thread about the failures of these units on Creative’s support forums.  Evidently the glue they pasted over the internal wiring of the amp/subwoofer turned out to be conductive.  Smart.

With that, I am writing off Creative’s speaker offerings.  Their sound cards and portable media players have already turned me off, I guess this is the last straw.  When you buy the most expensive set of speakers currently available, you expect them to last a decade or more.   Like the beige plastic Altec Lansings that I have been kicking around for years…