Monday, March 31, 2008

Where To Go When You're Bored Reading This Blog

When you get sick of my blog, be sure to checkout the blogs I've linked to on the left. For you email subscribers, you'll actually have to come to my blog's site to do this. I finally changed them to reflect most of the blogs I read during my lunch. I added a few sports blogs and another general blog written by MoCoLotion for a nice change of pace.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

I Give Thanks For My Spring Break Commute

With what little space my humble blog takes on the Internet, I would like to thank the local DC, MD, and VA school systems for their spring breaks the last two weeks. A special thanks to the Montgomery County school system for its spring break this week. My commute on Route 29 and around the Beltway between Georgia Avenue and the American Legion Bridge has been spot on since Friday in fact. Not having to deal with school buses and their at-the-speed-limit driving has curved my urge to go all Grand Theft Auto on them and the kids waiting by the curb.

In 3-4 years, the stadium will be this full after the newness hype wears off and Washingtonians realize the team is awful. Exhibit A: My awful O's at Camden Yards the last 10 years.

Alas, commutes will return to a grinding halt after tomorrow. Daily drivers won't get a reprieve until vacations start in the summer. At least it can't get much worse than trying to drive through the District this weekend with cherry blossom tourists, the national marathon, and the opening of the new Nats stadium.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

To Buy Rock Band for the Wii or Not to Buy

It was announced yesterday that Rock Band was finally coming to the Wii on June 22 for $169.99. Individual guitars, drums, and microphones will also go on sale that same day. I've had Guitar Hero III since November, but it has been collecting dust for the last month. I'm not bored with the game, I'm just not willing to put the time in to make the jump from medium to hard. Plus, I still have 50 some odd stars left to get in Super Mario Galaxy. It'd help if I could play some friends online in GH3, but it doesn't seem like that's going to happen. Stupid friend codes.

The jury's still out on the Wii version, but kinda excited.

The Bad
Early reports from Wii fan sites (four of which I sadly check every morning) state that the Wii version of Rock Band will be more like a port of the PS2 version. This implies no downloadable content (DLC), World Tour mode, character customization, nor online play. DLC would be nice, but it's not a dealbreaker for me, and while World Tour mode would be great, having to go through a predetermined setlist is the same as GH3 which I'm used to. Of course, if I played the World Tour mode on 360 or PS3 I'd write something different. Also, the Wii version won't use the Wiimote meaning the GH3 guitar won't work with this game, so to play both bass and lead guitar you'll have to purchase an extra guitar. Rock Band also costs $80 more than I paid for GH3, but you get so much more.

Is this worth $169.99? Probably.

The Good
Rock Band is coming to the Wii! Finally we get to play with something other than "just" a guitar, but also drums and a microphone. The game includes 63 songs plus 5 additional ones for the Wii. Just as I'm getting kind of bored with playing GH3, I can expand my fake music experience and get others involved instead of having just one person play guitar while everyone else watches. Rock Band is more welcoming to first-time players because they could at least sing if they're not good with rhythm-based instruments. Plus, my SO has been talking about playing the drums forever. As far as the $80 price difference, I could always take up Activision's offer and sell my GH3 back to them to get a check for $132 and use it toward Rock Band in June.

Final Decision
I have until August to ask for a refund from Activision so I will just wait and see just what Rock Band on the Wii entails and read a few reviews closer to June 22. Maybe the game won't even be worth buying. Plus, I'm still counting on Tiger Woods 09 as my next purchase for the Wii because I hope that it includes online play and even tighter controls.
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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

No User Names at Windows XP Login Screen

365 days ago this past Saturday, my computer booted as normal until it went to the Windows login screen asking me to select a user name. Two problems with this: 1) My computer should go to the desktop after I turn it on; and 2) There were no user names to select. Well, wouldn’t ya know it, but this past Saturday the same error occurred. I called Dell support knowing the end result – the computer needs a complete reformatting and operating system install. Just great. We tried CTRL+ALT+DEL twice to bring up a Windows network login window, but passwords (none were assigned to the user name) nor user name changes to Administrator did anything. A recovery install followed from my SO’s XP CD with no luck.

So it wasn't this bad, but my computer is still craptastic.

Fortunately I had made backups of 90% of my data (MP3s, pictures, and sports videos) last month on DVD to clear some hard drive space. Unfortunately, the 10% I had not backed up in the last month was data like frequently updated documents. Perhaps it was a blessing, but I didn’t reinstall XP because I couldn’t find the original CD from Dell. I also held out hope that I could somehow get the data off of the hard drive.

I thought about doing this, but Linux saved the day.

On Monday, I spoke with my buddy about this problem and he recommended I use Knoppix - a Linux operating system. I had heard of Linux, but had never used it. Well, I’m a huge fan of it now! I booted to the CD and a few minutes later I was copying any file I wanted onto a thumb drive through the operating system. On the surface, it looks and works much like Windows so it was easy enough once I gave the thumb drive read/write access.

If only my login screen had had user name options.

So your lesson in all of this? Backup your data regularly, even if it’s just emailing yourself a copy, especially the files that change frequently. If your computer didn’t boot tomorrow, what data can you afford to lose? My lesson in all of this is that it’s time to replace my computer from 2000. Anything that has had three reformatting and operating system installs will just as well breakdown in another 365 days.
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Monday, March 17, 2008

Stubbornly Testing My Gas Tank's Capacity

I pushed my luck with Friday's traffic and arrived at work with the low gas warning light all lit up. I really cut it close this time because I was able to fill my 20-gallon tank (it seems much less when I have an estimated 15 miles until empty) with 16.266 gallons of the lowest grade (I am Cheapo Depot afterall). At $3.299/gallon, I paid $53.66 to drive my car. I'm sure it'll get higher in the next few months, but I still have to drive so I don't have much choice.

It's funny that I continue taking such chances with the gas tank. When I was younger, I had this incredible fear that we'd run out of gas and be stranded. Of course stranded meant Route 4 or Route 17 in Paramus, NJ, so we weren't exactly far from civilization. Yet, now that I drive on my own (read: adult), I find myself pushing my car's gas usage limits at least once a month. It's a stupid game because I don't know what traffic problems will emerge, forcing me to idle when I expected to make it driving at full speed without issue.

Maryland House rest area elevator goes up...elevator goes down.

I have lost this game before. I ran out of gas on 95 north because I thought I had just enough to make it to the Maryland House rest area. When the power steering went, I quickly got out of the right lane and onto the shoulder to wait for the roadside assistance with egg on my face.

Friday, March 14, 2008

TiVO Highlight Reel Needed

I have really enjoyed my TiVO the last 20 months and look forward to 16 more until my contract runs out and I work'em down to a cheap monthly price. I've learned to never question it when a show is not recorded and if TiVO tells me a show will air, the show will air. It never fails. I could live without it and just watch less TV, but its convenience makes it a very nice luxury.

Don't be so sad, I'll probably renew next year.

After my buddy showed me how to set the remote to skip ahead in 30-second increments, I was set. This function is great for football games because it's about 30 seconds between plays, allowing you to miss the worthless instant replay of a 3-yard run and the announcer banter. To my SO's bother, I try to use the 30-second skip during non-sporting shows and I always mess up. I always skip too far ahead and have to hit the 8-second rewind button 3 times (meaning I overskipped by 24 seconds).

The guts that let me play God with TV scheduling.

The only feature TiVO needs is a simple and instant way to record small clips of programming to make a highlight reel. Whether it's a sports play, punchline, or kick to the groin on America's Funniest Videos, it'd be cool to call those up at a moment's notice. I could make my own using the same method for my Super Bowl DVD, but most clips aren't worth that much effort. People of TiVO, you have read my wish.
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Friday, March 07, 2008

The Evolution of the Evolution of Dance YouTube Video

An easy post today...YouTube clips! Always a crowd pleaser, this "Evolution of Dance" video is the most popular YouTube clip ever:

This is the best wedding dance version:

Then Optimus Prime made his version:

Optimus danced like a human, so here's a human doing the best Robot ever (36 seconds in):

Monday, March 03, 2008

Motorola RAZR Phone Calendar Predicts the End of Civilization

Because I was bored during yesterday's procrastination, I found that my Motorola RAZR's date book "only" goes until December 25, 2088, a Saturday. Somehow the phone knows that civilization will end on Jesus' birthday in 80 years. I can make an appointment until 11:59 PM, so at least those who celebrate Christmas have time to open their gifts. I will have already received my presents with Chanukah ending ten days earlier so I'm not too worried.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

My Sister's LA Marathons Makes Me a Lazy Bum

My sister moved to the Left Coast a few years ago and reminds me of how nice the weather is every freakin' day of the week. I don't blame her. As B and T Crowd children, we endured many cold winter months that weren't conducive to consistent outdoor exercise. Since she moved to Cali, she has enjoyed the weather by running on a consistent basis, with as much, if not more success than she had during her strong high school track days.

She joined a running club and runs 20 or so miles with them every Saturday....20 miles! The running club has helped her run not one, not two, but three marathons in the last year. Her marathon running is the greatest athletic achievement in the family. Sure, we don't have back-to-back Super Bowl MVPs like the Mannings, but for us, it's damn impressive. As Members of the Tribe, we have to celebrate what athletic accomplishments we have.

No marathons for these there!

Her second LA marathon and third overall, was completed today as she shaved several minutes off of her first marathon last year. I had plans to at least run on the treadmill for 20 minutes today, but got distracted (procrastinated really) with editing my homemade Super Bowl DVDs. Oh sure, I was also a good brother by keeping everyone abreast of her location, extrapolating (how scientific) when she'd arrive at each milemarker, and making a video of the streamed KNBC feed from the finish line when she crossed, but I didn't exactly break a sweat today.

Now it's dinnertime and I'm eating Safeway Select pizza.

I have done little to burn any calories today and haven't done much since Thursday. This means that today's sibling calories burned scale is something like: 3,000 for my sister and 27 for me. I was a lazy bum today. The healthy sibling rivalry in me makes me want to workout and maybe compete in the Army 10-miler, yet I did nothing toward that goal today unlike my first false attempt.

Oh...there she the white!

I love that she runs marathons and enjoys her annoyingly consistent weather, but I end up moping that I don't run as much. I should stop procrastinating with this blog post about procrastinating and break a sweat tomorrow afternoon. After all, it's a rare winter day here that's warmer than a southern California night.