Dr. Gordan Freemen’s Private Crowbar Reserve

Is that not the most epic title of all time. I can’t take credit though, I stole it from Something Awful. Still, epic. Which is my word of the day. Mostly because my vocabulary, while extensive, trends towards the obnoxious. “Epic” fits that category.

Trendy words are not why I’m posting. I felt that a general life update was in order.

First off, Mircosoft assures me that my console is in the repair process and I’ll have it by next week. I’m not holding my breath. I just realized that I didn’t explain the issue with the box when I last mentioned this. You see, last week they issued me a repair/RMA ticket and said they were sending a special box to pack my system in to send to them. Inside said box, according to their own instructions, was to be a pre-printed UPS shipping label. I got the box, I opened the box, I found no such label. Maybe I misheard them. Nope, according to the instruction sheet IN THE BOX, there should have been a label. I called them up, thinking surely they could just send me a PDF of the label, or a link to print the label from. Nope. Not only is the LARGEST TECHNOLOGY COMPANY ON THE PLANET not capable of sending me a fucking label, they can’t figure out how to let me print the label myself. No, they have to send me a whole new BOX! I wait another 3-5 business days. receive me second box and luckily this one has all it’s pieces. I pack up my xbox, send it to Mexico, well, close enough. Apparently the only Xbox repair center in the US is located dead center on the Texas / Mexico boarder. I’ve been down to the area and lets just say that restaurant menus aren’t exactly in English. Anyway, that was a week ago. Calling them yesterday to see if the system was going to be repaired or replaced, just out of curiosity, they inform me it’s been marked for repair and should be on it’s way to me soon. This should also be a good time to point out that the original rep I talked to indicated it would be a good 3-5 weeks, and most likely after Thanksgiving, before I got my system back. Either they’re over estimating and over achieving to look good for the consumer, or someone is lying to me.

This time without my system might turn out to be a good thing. I’ve actually had a chance to let these games come out, be played and reviewed, and add all these factors into my purchase decisions. I might end up waiting on Guitar Hero and Assasins Creed until post-holidays, and picking up CoD4 and Mass Effect, which I think will give me more actual playing time.

Enough games. I always talk about games.

Life itself is going well. Work is keeping me busy, which is always a good thing. My case is coming along nicely. I have to repair the lower front panel because I’m retarded and took off the painters tape with paint covered fingers, leaving big finger prints on the freshly painted stripes.

My folks were thinking about coming down for the holidays but it looks like that won’t be happening, which is sad because I was really looking forward to seeing them. My brother will be starting school back up in January. He had taken a long double semester internship at Standards & Poor’s (aka, what you hear on the news all the time as the S&P 500), the investment firm. Apparently he’s doing quite well there, enough so to buy a 360 in a whim. He called me at about 2am one night to tell me how right I was and how much it kicked ass.

Other than that, not a lot going on. I’m being constantly reminded about how much Comcast sucks all, especially now that they took over Houston from RoadRunner. RoadRunner, despite being morons, actually worked quite well. I never had any problems with them service/speed wise. The instant Comcast took over, I had 3 modem outages that week. No joke. My speed has also been cut in half, and I’m not talking about my bittorrent traffic either, I mean surfing and checking email. They advertise something like 4mbps down/512 kbps up. I think I’m getting 1/4 of that. It’s basically DSL now. Hell, I might as well switch to DSL. For the same shitty connection I could be spending $20 a month instead of $60. Actually, now that they “apartment monopoly” law was passed, I’m not forced to use Comcast anymore. I could technically get OpLink, which for $44 a month, I could be getting 6 Mbps up / 768 Kbps down. Either that or that AT&T UVerse thing looks kinda interesting.

Oh, and one last thing. The new Streetlight Manifesto CD is the most brilliant piece of music I’ve heard in a very very long time. It’s ridiculously good. I’ve got a bud here who isn’t a big ska fan, who thinks it’s unbelievable. Even Lauren doesn’t mind it, lol. Jason, back me up on this one bud.

Matt out.

Deeply Retarded

It’s a simple task I thought. I’ll just add a widget for my Amazon Wish List. Easy as can be right? Wrong! Apparently no one out there has made anything even Amazon related since WordPress 1.5, let alone a widget version. So a pre-made widget is out. What can I make myself? Well, Amazon has to provide some way for people to find a wishlist. So I spend way too long reading through some Amazon SDK shit, looking for a way to make a wishlist into an RSS feed, or something else usable. Hours later I find out that if you LOG OUT of Amazon, there’s a friggin RSS icon on the top of your wishlist. YOU don’t get to see it, it’s not available to YOU. But anyone else in the world can easily see it. That’s the dumbest thing I’ve seen in a long time. But wait, it gets better. The RSS feed from Amazon is “special”, which means it’s Amazon’s own special brew of dumb. I tried 4 different RSS readers, 3 of them didn’t work. Finally, I got it to show up in Thunderbird. So, using that exact URL, the one that worked, I added a simple little RSS reader widget, and put that as the feed. Does it work? NO! As you can see, I added it to my sidebar. Anything come up? Nope. For testing purposes I put a text link immediately below that. That takes you directly to the feed without a problem, yet somehow it’s not a valid feed according to WordPress. Where the hell am I, the friggin Twilight Zone? This is retarded. It’s an RSS feed! Arrrrrrrrgggggggg!

Screw it. Deleted the broken RSS widgets. Now there is a button. Screw the internet.

Going Pubbing

I had a strange revelation a few minutes ago. I was talking to my boss about Call of Duty coming out today. I was explaining how I was very angry that I wouldn’t get to play it on my Xbox today since it was in the shop (more on this in a minute). He, being equally excited for it, said “why don’t you just buy it for the PC”. It was then I realized that my idea of an enjoyable “multiplayer” experience had changed. For years I have been a strong supporter of “PC games first” when it came to the multiplayer aspect. There was a time where I would NEVER have considered playing a shooter on a console. For me, PC gaming was the ultimate in “team sport”. Then Battlefield 2 killed my clan, my computer aged beyond it’s years, and going “pubbing” and trying to find a server to play on became a laborious task. Taking 20 minutes to find a server with a good ping, without cheaters or retards, playing the maps I wanted completely took the fun out of playing. Plus, with no friend to play with, I was always flying solo. More recently, having played games over Xbox live, I can see the instant benefit of a “match making” system in Halo 3, or finding players with similar ranks in CoD. Take away the hardware advantage people might have on a PC over each other and go with a standardized box and you’ve leveled the playing field. Now it’s about skill again. All those problems I would have with the PC are solved simply by Xbox Live existing.

So, when my boss asked me why I didn’t just buy it for the PC, I actually had to think about it. I reasoned in my head that, if I did buy it for the PC, who would play with me? Where would I play? Who is going to run servers for it? Even if I can find some place to play, would my teammates come back to PC gaming and join me? Then I thought about playing it on the Xbox, how easy the server browsing was in the beta and how well the match making system worked.

The down side I still struggle with is the peripherals. A mouse and keyboard are simply better at FPS games. They are. There have been numerous tests to prove it in the past and on a fairly consistent basis, the PC gamers come out on top. I can add my own experience and say that there are simply some maneuvers and some shots that I know I can make on a PC that are impossible to make on a console for all but the most hardcore players. There will always been a few guys who are just one with the machine and can manipulate that controllers into doing things that no one else can, but I’m talking on the whole.

So anyway, I think simply on the basis that I don’t have anyone to play with and that I doubt the PC community will support a game like Call of Duty well into next year, makes me lean towards the Xbox as my platform of choice for this one.

Now, Team Fortress 2 is entirely different. I considered getting the “Orange Box” for the Xbox but opted for the PC instead. I can honestly say that I haven’t enjoy PC gaming this much in a long time. It’s brought me back, it really has. It made my CoD decision even harder. Truth be know, there still are some games with will live on for the PC from now until eternity. Half Life is one of those. There’s a few games coming down the pipe that fit that category as well. Unreal Tournament is one of them, Frontlines (in Jan) is another. I’ll be buying those both for the PC. Some game, although available for both platforms, lend themselves the other way though. Assassins Creed coming out next week will be most definitely an Xbox purchase, as will “adventure/rpg” games like Mass Effect. I think any time the input isn’t a consideration, the decision will lean towards the Xbox. Simple games (in terms of actions) are better with simple controllers. If I’m trying to call in an arty strike, while sniping an enemy convoy, while coordinating the attack via voice with my team mates, well, that sort of thing lends itself to an input device with more the 6 buttons. PC all the way.

As for my Xbox, you heard right. It’s in the shop. Last week it starting having random video issues. We’re not talking “red ring of death”, we’re talking a problem with the video connection coming out of the box. The video would simply go black, but I could hear the audio from the game perfectly. There was no “crash” of console or the game. I could still hit buttons and hear my character doing things. I called up MS and they said that sometimes the connector on the back becomes a little loose and they can simply replace it. It’s a simple repair and should be back to me in a week. They were actually quite nice about it. They’re sending an empty box, with packing material, a pre-paid UPS label and everything. The repair center is here in TX and they’re giving me a free month of Live for my troubles. Not bad customer service if I do say so. The box should be here today or tomorrow, so if I can get it sent off I should have it back for Mass Effect on the 20th. Until then, I can dive back into Team Fortress, so no real loss of gaming.


It seems that my content has been stolen for nefarious link spam purposes. A piece of this very post was posted at the website for the trackback comment below. I’ve left the comment (minus the link of course) so you can see what douchebaggery the internet is coming to. Honestly, why steal this and post it elsewhere. It’s not really that interesting. If it was someone reputable, this wouldn’t be a problem. But having it appear on a link-farm, google-ad, spam blog is just too much.