February 15, 2010
Motivation for finishing my time machine ...Yesterday I stumbled upon this article on the New York Times website about personal ads from the Victorian era. They were mostly from men, but there was one salacious ad from a young woman from upstate New York. Hold on ladies from the past (just have to finish my time machine...now where did I put that flux-capacitor?)
February 13, 2010
Lost - final seasonThis Onion video about LOST fans is so accurate its not really satire. And I think the creators of LOST should consider this the highest compliment. (My friend Bridgette showed me this.)
I'm looking forward this season of LOST, not the the degree of the fans described in the Onion video. I got pulled into the LOST universe late in the game. But no matter how it ends, it will be interesting to see how it all plays out. If you're new to the show, like me, or you just generally have some questions about the show, then the Lost-a-pedia should prove to be helpful.
Another show I've gotten into is Party Down, from the writer/creator of Veronica Mars, it has a talent at making the misfortunes of its cast very funny.
My Phone DilemmaFor the last week or so I've agonized over choosing a new phone. My last phone, like many of the phones that came before, proved just how not water resistant it was, as it slid off my knee into a mug on wine positioned between my legs. I immediately ripped the battery out of it and tried drying it the best I could, even gently subjecting it to a blow dryer later, and it ended up working, but now on or off with the battery plugged in it is perpetually in vibrate mode. Ah well. I was fortunately due for a new phone, but choosing one proved to be a very difficult task. I have for months and months lusted after a multi-functional smart phone, I am somewhat ashamed to say, but not being in a business related career (currently) and being somewhat frugal I just couldn't quite make the justification for the internet service plan which is required to use a smartphone, which would add up to several hundred dollars over the course of a year. I did the math, I made spreadsheets comparing all the options – I was so close to making the smart phone leap. But even with an employer discount the cheapest smart phone plan was around $850.00, over a year, while the cheapest option with a simple feature phone was considerably less, at around $540.00 over a year. The cost to benefit ratio just didn't add up.
And another thing that attracts me is the Android operating system. I was really excited about the Droid phones that came out last December, especially the less expensive and in my opinion a lot more stylish Droid Eris – made by HTC. The more expensive Droid by Motorolla does have a better quality screen, and a faster processor, and the most recent version of Android OS with free voice-controlled GPS with Google Maps; but it also had a not-so-pretty boxy design and a sliding physical keyboard which I don't find interesting – the less moving parts, in my opinion, the better, especially with my knack for destroying phones. Playing around with the Eris in person just intrigued me even more. This was the closet device to an iPhone (which I have also lusted after for some time) that I had come across. The Android OS is so sleek, simple to use, and capable of doing a lot of interesting things, especially with respect to social networking apps like Facebook, Twitter, etc. But most importantly, being that development of Android is pretty much open-source, the Android OS is wide open to developers to make whatever apps they choose, unlike the iPhone's app selection which is under the careful scrutiny of Apple (and admittedly there are some advantages for iPhone users to have Apple's scrutiny on their behalf in the sense that Apple is looking out for their interest and keeping iPhone users safer, sort of how Apple OS users are generally safer than Windows users – still the freedom of Android making possible a much wider array of apps is something I find very appealing). If I was going to get a smartphone, an Android based phone was the phone for me. But I just couldn't justify racking up the fees for Internet access.
Also to consider with the Eris: besides being not quite as powerful of a phone as the regular Droid by Motorolla, a.k.a. MotoDroid which runs Android 2.0, the Eris runs Android 1.5ish and also has a slightly altered user interface (UI) designed by HTC called SenseUI, which included some features lacking in the plain Google designed UI for Android OS – most notably including the pinch-to-zoom capability for web browsing, picture viewing, etc. which is a feature that makes the iPhone so amazing. But the SenseUI isn't really the user experience that Google necessarily had in mind with Android, and I really wanted a truly Google-designed phone.
Then not long before my phone splashed into a mug of wine, Google released a new phone sold directly from its website called the Nexus One (which by the way is clearly a clever pun on the classic science fiction literature Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, later turned into the brilliant scifi film Blade Runner, in which the main antagonists of the book and film are androids of a series called Nexus 6). This phone, more powerful than the MotoDroid, and made to Google's exact specifications by HTC, maker of the Eris, includes a just-released newer version of the operating system – Android 2.1 – with some fairly cool new features, like interactive backgrounds (imagine your finger stirring the surface of water). Not only that, I recently read that Google would be adding (or really allowing) the capability for pinch-to-zoom in its Apps, which was the leg up that Apple had with the iPhone, and the leg up HTC had with its SenseUI extension on Android. (This development might be because of a recent parting of ways between Google and Apple, two tech companies that in recent years have been somewhat allies, even sharing Bord Members) The Nexus One truly is THE Google Phone. But the Nexus One is not yet available with my cell phone carrier (although there is a note on their site indicating that it will be sometime this Spring).
Meanwhile I was teetering on the edge of getting the Eris, but then I realized that what I really wanted was two separate things, a simple phone (with a simple minutes plan), and a device that does all that Android does but without the monthly internet fee. The iPhone has this feature in the sense that it has a little brother called the iPod Touch (a.k.a. the iTouch by Apple enthusiasts), which basically is an iPhone without the phone. This is exactly what I want in an Android device. Basically what it boils down to is: I want an Android OS on an iTouch-like quality device. No Internet service fee, just all the fun and freedom of Android on a sleek powerful yet simple to operate portable device.
So the question is, how long before there is a device for Android thats as sleek as the Eris or Nexus One, but not tethered to a cell phone carrier such as is the Apple iTouch?
Dear Google, I (and I assume many others) would really like a Nexus One without the phone component (or at least not having to pay for a data plan). Can that be done?
February 10, 2010
Wiish ListA while ago I predicted that Nintendo would win the war in next generation video game consoles even with a less robust piece of hardware, the Wii. Because the heart of Nintendo is strictly a video game company (although in its over a 120 year history its been: a trading card company, a taxi service, and operated “love hotels” a popular service in Japan where space for privacy is at a premium), unlike its major rivals now, Sony and Microsoft who are involved in multiple business models.
I really like the concept of the Virtual Console, which allows Wii users to download copies of classic games to play on the Wii. In particular I really enjoyed “platformers” (platform games), which basically involved 2-dimensional side scrolling characters jumping side to side to various platforms. More recent genres of games often involve 3-dimensional environments, such as first-person-shooters, often require computers to assist in creating the visuals. But I much prefer the animation of those older games, and the simplicity of running and jumping from platform to platform. On some of the more challenging games (Ghoul's and Ghosts) it requires amazing timing, to the same degree required for the best players of Halo.
One of my all time favorites, Contra, combines the platform genre with the run-and-gun genre as the characters jump and shoots at outer-space invaders. Unfortunately as of yet it is not yet available on the Wii Virtual Console – which brings up my number one complaint for the Virtual Console: the lack of games available.
The Wii's Virtual Consol has the potential to be really profitable from people like me who are very nostalgic for games from our past. There are some great titles available but there are some surprising one's missing, which is why I've compiled an updated list of additions to the Wii Virtual Console line up broken down by their respective consoles:
NINTENDO (a.k.a. Nintendo Entertainment System, or NES)
-Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2 – The Aracde Game
-Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 3
SUPER NINTENDO (a.k.a. SNES)
SEGA GENESIS (a.k.a. Mater Drive)
-The Castle of Illusion Staring Mickey Mouse – this was an awesome game with a great sound track.
-Sonic And Knuckles
-Contra: Hard Corps
-Battle Tanks - Global Assault
-Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
-Ghouls and Ghosts
Of the games I've listed, its quite surprising to me that some of these have not become available for the Virtual Console. The top of my list would be The Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse, which was an amazingly fun game with a great soundtrack. I've been waiting for Sonic and Knuckles, which has been available on the Japanese version of the Virtual Console for quite some time. Konami has released Super C (NES) and Contra III (SNES) and gone to the trouble of creating an all new Contra game called ReBirth, so why isn't the original Contra available? Original arcade games have recently started being released on the Virtual Console, so I'm hoping the original arcade version of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles makes it's way to the VC (and of course its NES port!). (TMNT is one of my favorite arcade games. I spent so many quarters in this game at an arcade by a boardwalk in Ocean City Maryland. Ah, memories!) Bubsy and Cool Spot were excellent side-scrolling platformers made for 16 Bit systems – they would be big hits I'm sure.
I wonder if despite Nintendo's success with the Wii its old rival Sega might have a 1-Up being that it has left the console wars and can develop games on multiple systems. I really enjoyed the latest Super Mario Bros which goes back to Mario and Luigi's 2D “platform” gaming origins – but I was always enjoyed Sonic a little more than Mario...so I was really excited to read that a new Sonic the Hedgehog is in development that goes back the the 2D platform formula. Its goes right back to where Sonic and Knuckles left off. It looks like it plays just the original Sonic games, but the graphics look updated to today's high definition standards. It will be available as a direct download to Wii, Xbox 360, and PS3. I must admit that while the business model of direct downloads probably makes a lot of sense financially for the games publisher, the inner nerd in my desires to hold the physical copy of a game disk and examine its game manual. But I would not let that one holdup to keep me from getting excited about this upcomming Sonic game.
It would be remiss if I did not acknowledge that there are some of the great games available currently on the VC: The Legend of Zelda – A Link to the Past is one of the best video games ever made. Sonic The Hedgehog 1, 2, and 3, Contra III, Super Mario World, and Super Metroid were and still are a lot of fun to play. Donkey Kong Country has graphics that are still amazing nearly 15 years later.