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BobC Blog

I [heart] Las Vegas

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More details on the trip later, including:

-Pictures from my trip to the gun range. I shot some MP5, some M4 (.223), and some Thompson SMG.

-Video of this 171 ft. jump. (or fall, as it were)

-Story of seeing some guy hit quad-kings at the 3/6 hold 'em table at the Mirage. Thank goodness I wasn't the one getting pimpslapped by that hand. I did make out ok, ending the trip up $175 at poker.

God, I love Vegas.

My Warlock in Full Dreadmist

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I finally did it. All 8 pieces of the Dreadmist raiment, collected. Yea yea it's months after release and you or your buddy already have all the Felheart or blahblahblah. I don't care! This is cool! http://wow.allakhazam.com/db/itemset.html?setid=183

If you look at it though, the set bonuses are kind of crappy. I wonder if I'm better off just picking up a bunch of +crit to spell gear in Dire Maul. But you know...it's the principle of the thing, and besides, none of that stuff is gonna make my eyes glow red. So what am I gonna do now that I have the full set? Start working on Felheart of course. DUH. And I don't have my epic warlock mount yet. :(

In case you're wondering, the rest of my gear is:

Neck - Tooth of Gnarr: http://thottbot.com/?i=20126

Cloak - Shroud of the Exile: http://thottbot.com/?i=18376

Rings - Blood of the Martyr: http://thottbot.com/?i=17127 , Seal of Rivendare: http://thottbot.com/?i=14960

Trinkets - Eye of the Beast: http://thottbot.com/?i=13106 , Ward of the Elements: http://thottbot.com/?i=15385

Weapon - Inventor's Focal Sword: http://thottbot.com/?i=19595

Offhand - Penelope's Rose: http://thottbot.com/?i=19080

Wand - Stormrager: http://thottbot.com/?i=4895

Curt Schilling: Secretary of Homeland Defense

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Someone pointed me to this ESPN Page 2 article. And while the way the article is written implies that Schilling never actually said any of this...it sure sounds plausible!

http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2/story?page=page2/schilling/050428&num=0

Here's a choice excerpt:

Page 151: On the War on Terror.
Writes Schilling, "Everyone is going about this all wrong. Where's Osama bin Laden? He isn't in jail. I'd know. I surf the Web all the time and believe me, I would have read about it. I'm not even going to get into all the things that need to be done differently – that's a whole different book. But let me just tell you that I've been playing lots of video games – the Medal of Honor series, Splinter Cell, SOCOM ... you name it. Not only that, but I own hats commemorating two different battleships in the U.S. Naval fleet and I watch the History Channel three hours per day. So I know what's up. And I know how to fix it."

Yea dude. If we sent in Sam Fisher AND Solid Snake as a dynamic duo to thwart Osama bin Laden, that guy'd be dead by now!!!

Irony

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OK only hardcore Cal football or NFL draftniks would find the irony in this picture of Aaron Rodgers in Madden.

After all the bullsh...hay...that's been made over the way Rodgers holds the ball up by his ear, here we see him taking the traditional QB windup, wasted motion and all, while a Vikings D-Lineman bears down on him. You know, if he had the ball behind his ear, the ball would have been out of there by now...

Six bucks? For two maps?

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http://www.gamespot.com/news/2005/04/25/news_6122893.html

"Four maps are now downloadable via Xbox Live. Two are gratis, while two are bundled into the Killtacular Pack, which costs $5.99."

It's amazing that Halo/XBL players can be suckered into paying money for content that PC shooter players have enjoyed and demanded for free for YEARS. If Valve ever tried to charge money for two lousy CS maps, they'd cause a worldwide riot. Ok actually there'd be no riot. Quite simply, no one would ever play those maps, even, as James Yu said, if they were called Dust III and Cobble II. Of course, the fact that the community at large is not empowered to create content on consoles (as they are on the PC) probably contributes a lot to this.

Sony and Nintendo Try To One Up Microsoft's MTV Premiere

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So right after getting the PR from Microsoft about the premiere of Xbox next gen on MTV, I got these two releases in my inbox from Sony and Nintendo. Wild!

PlayStation 3 to Debut on VH1

San Diego, CA - April 11, 2005

Viacom Corp and Sony Computer Entertainment announced today that the next generation in interactive entertainment will make its world premiere on Viacom's VH1 cable music and pop culture channel. The PlayStation 3 will debut on a special episode of VH1's hit show, Best Week Ever, on Wednesday, May 11, at 9PM EDT in the United States and Canada. The show will be hosted by Best Week mega-stars Hal Sparks, Christian Finnegan, and former MTV VJ Kennedy. Special guest host and gamer Tobey Maguire, star of the Spider-Man films and the reigning champion of the 2004 Phil Hellmuth Invitational No Limit Hold 'Em National Championship of Poker, will also make an appearance on the show, along with a special musical performance from The Postal Service, who will be playing select songs from their hit album, Give Up.

"We wanted to make our debut on a TV show befitting of our new console. With the announcement of the PlayStation 3, it truly will be the 'Best Week Ever' for gamers all over the world," said Ken Kutaragi, head of Sony Computer Entertainment. "Well, except for the launch of the PSP. That was the Best Week Ever. Until May, I guess. Whatever. And I swear that the square button won't be busted this time, or else I'm getting fired for real."

"Gaming is certainly an important hobby not just for our viewers, but for the entire world. We're excited to host the world premiere of the PlayStation 3," said executive VP of programming and production at VH1, Fred Garver. "That and we couldn't let those twits at MTV steal all the glory with that other box. So we decided to upstage them. Eat it, Real World losers!"

Nintendo Revolution Launches on Nickelodeon

Redmond, WA - April 11, 2005

Nintendo of America and children's cable television channel Nickelodeon have announced a joint venture to promote Nintendo's upcoming Revolution home entertainment system. The aptly named Revolution promises an innovative and ground-breaking interface which will take games to the next level. The new system will make its world premiere on a special hour-long show on Nickelodeon on May 13 at 7PM EDT. The debut showing of the Revolution will include appearances by Mario, Donkey Kong, and Samus Aran, all of whom will introduce their new games that will launch along with the system in early 2006. Special guests Raven "That's So Raven" Baxter and SpongeBob SquarePants will emcee the special show. Megastar actress and singer Hilary "Lizzie McGuire" Duff will also make a special appearance to perform her platinum hit single "So Yesterday."

"We were looking for an appropriate outlet to debut our new console. Nickelodeon just made a whole lot of sense as their viewership demographics mirror ours very closely," said Nintendo President Satoru Iwata. "That and kids are the only ones gullible enough to drink the Kool-Aid I'm hawking."

"The kids who watch our station and the nostalgia dorks who watch Nick @ Nite are super excited about their favorite game company debuting the newest and hottest hardware on Nickelodeon," said Marva Smalls, executive vice president of Nickelodeon. "And we're ecstatic to have Lizz...I mean Hilary, singing 'So Yesterday' on air as well. It should remind everyone of a time when Nintendo was actually the leader in the video gaming world."

Hi Ho, Hi Ho, Encoding DVDs I Go

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I picked up a PSP on launch day. I actually got up early in the morning on Thursday before work (after being up pretty late for the Metreon event), and drove over to Best Buy in Pinole at 7AM where I was the 35th person in line for the store to open at 8AM. The whole rigamarole ended up taking more than 90 mins, as far as putting in my game and accessory orders (I got Lumines and Wipeout and a 512MB memory stick) and checking out. Out of curiosity, I drove a block down to Target afterward, where I was able to stroll leisurely into the store, right up to the electronics counter and buy another PSP and Metal Gear Acid without waiting in line. Great. I could have gotten 90 mins more sleep that morning and gone straight to Target!

I hit up two more Targets on the way to work, and again, there was no line, and no commotion. I just walked up, bought another PSP and walked right out of each store within five minutes. So by the time I got into the office I had four PSPs, three games, a memory stick, and a voice mail waiting on my phone from the credit card company wondering if I'd been the victim of CC fraud. Of course, there turned out not to be any big nationwide shortage of PSPs like there was with the PS2, so I ended up just selling the units off at cost to Ricardo and Jason. Word got around that I was some kind of supplier, but Alex and my buddy Lester were too late to take advantage of this erstwhile PSP vendor. I checked the Target in Albany again after work out of curiosity and they still had units in stock! I didn't buy any more however. My MasterCard thanked me.

I went PSP shopping again, with a friend yesterday, and the first couple stores we tried, Frys in Concord and CompUSA in Concord were actually sold out. But we tried the Toys R Us in Pinole after that and they had plenty of units in stock so he picked one up there. Bottom line is that it seems like as long as you're smart about calling around you should still be able to find a unit in store. So if you're one of the few dolts who overpaid for a PSP on Craig's List or Ebay, you should immediately punch yourself in the face. Next time you sneeze, go ahead and blow your nose into a Benjamin.

So when I wasn't vegging out to Lumines, or concentrating intently on Metal Gear Acid this weekend, I was ripping and encoding DVDs into PSP format. All of a sudden this modest pile of DVDs I'd collected over the years that I've hardly touched, has become so much more appealing now that I can watch the movies on this snazzy new device. Retarded? Yes. But that's not the point. The point is that I'm finally getting some use out of these DVDs. Sort of.

I realize this is getting into a gray area of legality, so if this part of the journal post is missing later you'll know why. Oh and "CNET does not encourage or condone the illegal copying of copyrighted material." Here are my movies I've encoded into PSP format so far, in the order they were encoded. I guess a person's movie collection says something about him...:

Bring It On ("I'm sexy! I'm cute! I'm popular to boot!...")

Hard Boiled (not only John Woo's best work, but also the single greatest action film EVAR)

Rounders ("You know what always cheers me up? Rolled up aces over kings.")

Fight Club ("How's that working out for you? Being clever?")

Monsters Inc ("Don't worry! They're lemon!")

Ocean's Eleven (I still need to see the original...)

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (this one doesn't quite fit a 512mb stick :( )

The Little Mermaid (still the best of the musical-style Disney movies)

The Bourne Identity (Gotta love the car chase)

Catch Me If You Can (first movie with di Caprio I didn't hate)

Next On the List:

Grosse Pointe Blank, Chicago, Amelie, Predator, High Fidelity, Saving Private Ryan, Chicken Run, Finding Nemo, Heat, Pulp Fiction, Moulin Rouge. Circuit City has The Princess Bride and Menace 2 Society on sale this week at $7.50 each so I'll probably pick those up and rip/encode to PSP also. Is this an eclectic set or what?

So after several puzzling failures, here are some tips to save you time not making the same mistakes I did:

In most cases you want to encode at 320x240/384kbps 29.97fps/ stereo/96kbps Any higher bitrate than 384, and your movie probably won't fit on a 512MB memory stick. For the most part 384 looks fine, although fast action sequences (like fights in Bourne Identity) can get blurry. If the movie is 1.5 hours, you might be able to get away with 512kbps and still fit onto a 512MB memory stick. But any longer than that and you better go with 384.

The reason you wanna do 320x240 (and not 368x208 ) is b/c most widescreen DVDs come in 4x3 format with the black bars built in. Just set PSP playback mode to "zoom" or "fullscreen" and you're good to go. The correct one varies from movie to movie..in some movies, the picture is skewed at zoom, but not fullscreen. Other movies it's the other way around.

If your movie is 2.5 hours long, you better push the audio rate down to 64 kbps or even 48kbps b/c the sound quality is still fine at those levels, and you'll be able to still squeeze it onto that 512MB stick.

For foreign language movies like Hard Boiled, I was not able to get subtitles to work, even though I selected the English subtitle stream specifically while ripping. So yea I have to watch HB in Cantonese with no subtitles. It doesn't matter so much for this movie, but for others like Crouching Tiger, I'm gonna need the subtitles (and no, using the dubbed English track is NOT a reasonable option), so if anyone's figured out how to encode those in there, let me know. Either that or I better go learn Cantonese.

Irrational and Bioware, sitting in a tree...

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_ _ _ _ _ _ _

Right now it seems like a superficial partnership, with Bioware promoting the new Freedom Force game on its site.

http://www.bioware.com/biozone/articles/2005_03_08_freedomforce/index.html

But any longtime PC fan should be salivating at the possibility of the two collaborating in the development of a future game. Think of the resumes the two teams bring to the table--System Shock 2, Freedom Force, Baldur's Gate, Neverwinter Nights, KOTOR. Irrational and Bioware would be a one-two punch the world hasn't seen the likes of for a while. We're talking on the order of Shaq and Kobe. MJ and Pip. Simon and Garfunkel. Astaire and Rogers. Desi and Lucy. Hall and Oates. Martin Lawrence and Will Smith. Mork and Mindy, even. And dare I say it: Bill and Ted.

You get the idea. Hopefully if it does happen, the two can get along better than some of those other dynamic duos of pop culture.

Think of the Possibilities

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Someone passed me a nutty idea the other day. What if there was an NPC in WoW that you could talk to who would order delivery food for you in real life. Think about it. Your account is tied to your credit card already, so they could just charge that. I wouldn't have to even pick up my cell phone which I leave off while I'm playing anyway! It's brilliant!!!!

Of course, there is that whole matter of who is going to get up and open the door for the guy and bring the food to you. Meh.