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TF626 Blog

I Miss the PS2

I have said I miss the old days and I do. Yes I was excited when they announced the next Xbox, PlayStation 3... but there was just that aurora of the PS2 that I don't think will ever be matched, especially with the PS1's original game library that would be playable on a PS2. Than there's the DVD capability, I remember watching Rush Hour 2. Fond memories for sure. No doubt had the best library of any game console, and I feel as if Sony, and Microsoft let their fans down with their successors. Here's a toast to the PS2 almost going on 11 years, and some things that made it so great:

1. Great game library

2. First console with a DVD player

3. Great third-party exclusives

4. Grand Theft Auto III(mind blowing game that changed the industry forever)

5. The aurora the confidence of Sony to deliver.

Ok I don't really know how to explain the last reason, or if it should be even a valid reason but nonetheless their was just something about the PS2 that just had that "wow" factor.

Stuck in the past

I've been gaming since I can remember-- my first system was the Nintendo Entertainment System, suffice to say I have had the luxury to enjoy some of the greatest games from then on, and also played some of the worst. Playing video games has always been a big interest for me, and at times thought about them quite a bit-- I say this because video games to me are just more than pixels on a screen, but more of an art form. Video games have become a powerful tool, for game developers and visionaries to put you through an adventure you can't quite have in our world today, an escape from reality. You could be a superhero in a far away galaxy, a superstar athlete, or just a creature running around, exploring vast parts of the universe-- there are no boundaries in video games, and it's something I fondly dwell upon time to time. I have to say that my interest in video games have fallen considerably since the launch of the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and Wii. I don't see the creativity, and the passion that was once common in this industry-- a lot of it has been rehases of old franchises, and a saturation of first-person shooter games. I could probably name only a handfew games that to me, gave me that "wow" factor.

The big three-- Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo have introuduced us some neat things, such as the further expansion of online gaming, and services such as TV, movies, music, and downloable content. Your console nowadays is just more than a game system-- it's a multimedia machine with no limits. Firmware updates just expand on the capabilities on what your system can do, and the intro of old-school game downloads is a great idea, I couldn't even begin to tell you how excited I was when I seen the Mortal Kombat 2 on the PSN, or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles on XBL, or some of Nintendo's offerings such as ****cs like Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. I grew up as a kid playing these games, and they have a very special place in my heart.

It's expected that these consoles will last for a few more years, and thats something I am excited about it. Because to be honest I am not ready to see this generation end yet-- I still believe it can pop out some great titles. I am so fond of even the last generation I miss it. The PlayStation 2, Xbox, GameCube, and the Dreamcast had some spectacular games, and oh the the PlayStation 2 Launch fever, was something I swear was just yesterday. Popping in my first DVD, or playing Tekken Tag Tournament-- I knew something great was coming along.


I don't care about how powerful my console is, or what movies are on the PSN, or Xbox Live Market, heck I could careless of online gaming truth be told. Give me the games that were memorable, that made me sad, happy, and take me out of this world for awhile. I just don't see it this generation.

Tekken 6 Rant

I've always been a die-hard Tekken fan but two complaints:

Scenario Mode: Don't care for it, shouldn't have to play through it to unlock characters so I can play them and unlock their endings. Really irritates me, it's crappy, lock-on system sucks, and if you ask me just a poor mode, and horrible story.

Online: Online is slow, and experience a lot of lag. Namco, how dare you ruin such an experience.


The Year 2000

It's amazing to look at the landscape in the gaming industry, and to see just how the gaming has become more popular, and the implementation of technologies in these consoles-- beefier processors, super-smart artificial intelligence, new ways to play games through motion sensing perhipherals, and also online gaming. I wouldn't have even imagined some of these additions to the gaming world-- I knew online gaming was the next big thing, and of course consoles evolve every generation featuring more powerful hardware.

Gaming has become much more social through online gaming, and for me this is an amazing thing. The world as a whole is becoming more of a connected universe, and not just video games either. But who would have known that this phenomenon would take off as it did, and to be honest online gaming is only growing to grow. I remember when I first played Ridge Racer 7 for the PS3, and how cool it was to play with people from all over the world-- I met gamers from Hong Kong, Japan and ripping it up in MotorStorm played against Europeans, and Aussies.

Now Sony, and Microsoft have tossed their hats into the ring, in the world of motion-sensing gaming, and hands-free gaming through Sony's Move, and Microsoft's Kinect. While the Wii has been the dominant force in interactive ways to game, it's time that the two lagging in sales have decided to finally catch-up with Nintendo. I have played a Wii several times, but never really got into it(shame on me), but perhaps I'll give it another try. I am also excited for 3D gaming that Sony promises to implement.

The bottomline is we're gamers-- will play anyway we can. As long as developers keep cranking out games, we as a gamers will continue to play. The amazing thing is how many ways there are to play games. Looking back 10 years ago, I never thought the gaming landscape would be like this-- the once untouchable Sony is for now a third, and Nintendo is back on top. I sure hope this generation lasts a couple of more years, because afterall who needs new hardware right now? I am pleased with the current generation, so let's keep this train going.

As for what was I doing 10 years ago, you know I couldn't really tell you. I do know for a fact that I was eagerly awaiting the PlayStation 2 launch. My greasy fingers bashing those buttons as I rocked out to Tekken Tag Tournament, and high-speed racing in Ridge Racer V. Watching my first DVD ever-- Mission Impossible 2 on my brand-new PS2. Amazing how fast time is going, here's to another 10 great years in gaming!

iOS4 vs. Android

There's a storm brewing, a battle for your money, for your loyalty, and of course for your time. Google, and Apple are waging a bloody battle in the smartphone wars, and as smartphone penetration continues to move at a rapid pace, it seems as if Apple and Google are leaving the competition behind particularly Nokia, RIM to name a few. The iOS4(iPhone), and Google's Android army are in my opinion the two giants in the smartphone wars, despite the fact that Nokia is the market leader, and RIM's iconic BlackBerry rules the smartphone market in the United States. While I am an iPhone user, I've spent my time on several of Google's Android handsets, mostly the Motorola Droid, and the Droid Incredible. While I haven't spent extensive time, I'd like to share my thoughts on this on-going battle between the two tech giants.

ANDROID will win this war. For better, or worse.

Google's Android platform has been rapidly growing ever since it decided to enter the market. But if you ask me the first true killer phone Google delivered on it's Android platform had to be Motorola's Droid phone. I spent sometime with the Droid, and it truly was the first iPhone competitor. Not only that but there's so many phones that are running Android OS, it's just a matter of time before Google plays catch-up.

This is good, and bad. This will bring up intense competition between the companies for your money. They will come out with better features, faster processors, more memory, new upgrades to the OS, which in the end, the customer truly wins in this regard. This is also bad because, there are discrepancies between the Android devices. And this is evident because there are some smartphones that won't be running Android 2.2(Froyo). So in a sense, all Android devices will have different experiences.

With Apple and it's iPhone, you'll get a similar experience. Apple is pretty good with making sure it's older models are able to somewhat take advantage of the latest upgrades, as evident with the iPhone 3G being able to take advantage of iOS4 in some ways, and the iPhone 3GS being able to take advantage of all the new features except the new features of the iPhone 4 such as FaceTime, iMovie App, Retina Display etc. With Apple you'll get good support for your device, and to me this is a plus.

iOS 4, and Android penetration

There's no doubt that the two companies shaking up the smartphone wars is without a doubt Apple, and Google. RIM is in serious hurt, and hopefully BlackBerry OS6 will be able to keep it competitive, and Windows Phone 7 coming out this year, it seems as if consumers are going to have more choices, which is a good thing. But the market penetration I think will belong to Apple, and Google. Microsoft maybe too late, and it's Windows Phone 7 needs to amaze if it wants to stand a chance.

I say this because, Apple not only has the iPhone, but it also has the iPod Touch, and iPad to further make it's App Store a cashcow. With sales of over 50+ million iPhones, 32 million iPod Touches, and 3+ million iPads(Apple says there's over 100 million iOS4 devices active, so I imagine iPod Touch sales are higher than the 32 million I found on the internet), this is going to be a big factor in growth for the platform. I think the iPad will popularize the slate computer market, and will be a big factor for Apple growing it's mobile platform. I see this as a problem as well though-- depending on your opinions, it's also a good thing. Apple doesn't license it's iOS mobile platform and stays on Apple's devices. This is good because you are going to always have quality products, both hardware, and software. I see this ending up like the Apple, and Microsoft war when the Mac and PC we're fighting over marketshare in the computer industry. To many PC manufacturers using Windows on their PC's, it overtook the Mac. But as I said, as with any Apple product you'll definitely get a great experience both hardware, and software wise.

With Google, as aforementioned earlier it's Android OS is seeing itself land on so many platforms, that in matter of years, will over take Apple. While Google will have it's Android running on smartphones, and as well as tablet computers. I see the same effect happening-- Google will flood the tablet computer market with it's Android platform, and eventually overtake the iPad in total sales. It's just common knowledge in my opinion, but there are rumors as well of a BlackBerry tablet, and I haven't read to much on Windows 7 tablet, so I can't really comment much on that.

It will definitely be an interesting few years. I think Apple can definitely help itself out especially in the United State's, by offering the iPhone on Verizon, T-Mobile, and Sprint. If it can take it's iPhone to multiple carriers in the U.S, I see it gaining more customers, but will not ultimately put it in a position to win the mobile OS war with Google. There's just to many Android devices.

CHINA an untapped market

China looks to be a market, where there is little presence between Apple, and Google. Apple seems to be looking into China for new growth-- and rightfully so, because this is a market that can literally make Google, and Apple more money, and flood it's devices into the world's largest consumer market with over 1 billion people. Apple plans on opening more stores in China, where Apple products such as the Mac, iPhone, and iPad are in high demand. Google will enter this market as well, as HTC plans on releasing smartphones into the market under it's HTC brand.

This could be very important for both Google, and Apple because China has the largest wireless customer base in the world, and is home to the largest Chinese wireless operator-- China Mobile. There's no doubt there's a vast number of customers in China waiting to get their hands on those iPhones, and Android phones. This will also open up sales to other customers such as Mac computers, iPods, and iPad. I think the market in China will do more good for Apple than for Google, do to that "iPhone effect", in terms of sales of other Apple products. Although I think Google will ultimately reign supreme in China, Apple will definitely have a huge influence in the Chinese market.

CONCLUSION

I definitely think there's definitely a lot of room for growth for Apple, and Google's mobile OS platform(s). People are putting an increase need on their smartphones that Microsoft is literally playing catchup in the mobile OS war. Microsoft has depended to much on it's Windows platform, that it's losing to Apple and Google. Even with the introduction of Windows Phone 7, it could be all to late for Microsoft to gain significant marketshare, especially when Apple and Google are growing at a rapid pace. Microsoft envisioned tablet computers, and now it's behind Apple. When Apple released it's iPhone, it set off a revolution on what a cellphone can do-- it's touch-screen interface, it's App store, pretty much making it's iPhone the go to device for anything, Google jumped on the bandwagon quick enough to be able to counter Apple in the market.

But perhaps that's why Microsoft fell behind Apple. They grew comfortable with their cashcows in Windows, Microsoft Office products, and it's Xbox division. I am putting a lot of emphasize on Microsoft to the end of my editorial because it's literally losing to Apple, and Google. Windows Phone 7 will come out this year, but it's gonna have to be amazing, absolutely flawless. Microsoft isn't practically in the "cool" crowd, or has the brand recognition that Apple has.

This is a bloody battle between Apple, and Google who we're once the perfect match made in Heaven. Now these two companies are on a full-frontal assault for your money, for your loyalty, and your time. Either path you choose, you'll undoubtedly get a great product, with increasing capabilities as these two tech giants, try to out due each other. But it will be ultimately Google that will have the last laugh.

iPhone 4 Review

I know in a separate post I was still going to stick with my iPhone 3GS, but after seeing a deal for $350 on Craigslist, I ended up buying the iPhone 4. The guy who sold it to me offered me a generous deal-- he ordered to many iPhone 4's for his family, and had two left over. He owned his own dental office, and I figured he was selling it for a measly $350, and I took the bait. I am glad I did because the iPhone 4 is a quantum leap from the 3GS.

DESIGN

Apple put a lot of thought into the design of the iPhone 4-- it's elegant, beautiful, feels great in your hand, and in typical Apple fashion, is extremely appealing device, and gives a level of sophistication no other smartphone on the market has. The design which has glass covering the back, and the front of the device, with a stainless steel band between the two pieces of glass makes you question the durability of the phone, but make no mistake it seems like its for the better in terms of design. Gone is the plastic backcover, although it becomes a magnet more than ever for fingerprints, which can be wiped off clean with a swipe of your shirt. It also includes a second microphone to cancel out noise, the volume rocker is now two separate buttons and a ringer switch. The top also features the 3.5mm headphone jack, with the lock bottom.

Apple's "Retina display" has caught a lot of attention, and it's no surprise, this is without a doubt the best screen on a smartphone. I played around with a Droid Incredible, and a Motorola Droid and thought there screens we're amazing, but the Retina display on the iPhone 4 just blows past the competition. The iPhone 4 also has dual camera's, one VGA on the front of the phone for FaceTime, and a 5 megapixel camera with LED flash. The picture quality is very good for a phone, and you can also record 720p HD movies which is done well. I also tried FaceTime with a friend and it's extremely easy to set up, although it's limited to WiFi, and during my FaceTime chat it seemed a bit slow at times, so you'll want a good WiFi signal. Overall the iPhone 4's new screen, and new design really just puts it above the rest-- there's no doubt you'll get some looks walking down the street with it. It feels more sturdier, and comparing it with the iPhone 3GS, the 3GS really feels outdated. There's no doubt that a redesign of the iPhone was essential this time around, and Apple has done a amazing job.

iOS4

When Apple releases new hardware, there's generally new software with it as well, and this time around Apple gave us iOS4. To say the least it's made some great changes, the unified e-mail inbox is great and now you don't have to switch between e-mail accounts. This was something that many iPhone fans have been asking for, and its extremely welcomed, and also displays multiple e-mails in threads. The other features like being able to change your background also gives it another level of customization nothing seen on Apple's phone until now. Other features such as multitasking have been implemented, although Apple has drawn some complaints from this. It's not "true" multitasking, but as a user it works fine for me. You can run third-part applications like Pandora radio, receive VoIP calls in the background. By double clicking the home button, it will pop up all of your open applications.

Some applications I noticed though such as Last.fm won't run music once you switch apps, although I haven't ran into any other applications doing this, but with an update, and using Apple's new API's it will solve the problem. There's also the ability to create Folders, which is a nice addition to reduce clutter in the background. Although it's limited to 12 Apps per folder, which is a bit of a disappointment in my opinion. They also added iMovie for download where you can download for $4.99 to create, edit movies from your iPhone 4. I haven't tested this so I won't say to much on it. There is also long overdue features such as internet teethering, although it'll require you to pay for it through AT&T.

CALL QUALITY/SPEAKERPHONE

Okay, let's put it this way-- while there is the huge antenna problem with the iPhone 4, I have not had any problems with it. I held all around the whole antenna band, and didn't see any drop in signal. I don't know if it's just a few units affected, but in all honesty, the iPhone 4 is probably the best iPhone model in terms of reception I've had been able to toy with. The calls aren't perfect, but it sounds much better, and the implementation of the noise-cancellation mic helps out with clarity. The speakerphone is also much louder, something you'd find in a BlackBerry bold. Although when I put the volume all the way up, I can hear a drop in quality of the speakerphone, but it's definitely a big improvement over the 3GS which I always thought was too quiet.

CONCLUSION

If you ask me, I think the iPhone 4 is the best smartphone on the market right now, but who know's how long Apple will hold that throne. With Google flooding the market with multiple Android devices, it's a faster pace market than most. But one thing Apple did do is improve an outdated model and gave it some exciting new features. I don't know whether or not FaceTime will kick off, but once there's more users I could see more people using it. The design of this phone is just amazing. While some may say it's more prone to break, I think it's a pretty durable design. The front-back glass is made stronger according to Apple and more scratch resistant than ever.

No doubt Apple has retaken it's spot as the king of the hill. While there is some negative press on the iPhone 4 in terms of it's design, I haven't personally had any problems with it thus far. Redesigned, new features, iOS4, and better call-quality rounds it out to be a strong contender in the smartphone wars.

iPhone 4

I remember back in early April I ended up going to AT&T and buying an iPhone. I am very pleased that I ended up getting an iPhone 3GS, I was considering a 3G but opted to go with the better model, and I am sure glad I did. iOS4 will have all the functionality of iPhone 4 except of course from what I know it doesn't have the new design, the FaceChat, and all that good stuff. I am however aware during my purchase of my iPhone that Apple would eventually upgrade their model in a few months, and than several weeks later Gizmodo had their hands on the newest model of the iPhone. I guess Steve Job's thunder was stolen today when he announced the completely redesigned iPhone 4, and I am still impressed-- not impressed enough to upgrade. Well maybe I just don't want to throw down $599 to upgrade to the 16GB model, but I am kicking myself in the ass a bit, but also very satisfied with my 3GS.

It seems as if Apple just set the bar even higher, with it's mobile platform war with Google, and RIM. But it also lacks some features such as turn-by-turn GPS available on many new smartphones, while introducing new features such as voice chat, and introducing the best screen for a smartphone. iOS4 will also include many new features and long overdue such as multitasking-- but this is just how Apple works. It's definitely a beautiful looking phone, and their's no doubt it's probably one of the best looking phones on the market. It's sleek, it's display is beautiful, and it's extremely powerful.

I am also not surprised that Apple kept the size of 16GB and 32GB, that's larger than most phones offer, and for me it's perfect storage space. I ended up buying the 16GB 3GS and I still have 8.4GB of space left. I still have a dedicated iPod, I just put a few songs I like the most on my iPhone, and a few of my favorite movies. It's new features will definitely stir up some noise, and cash in some big bucks for Apple. It's just a bit sad, Gizmodo had to ruin the whole thing.

It also got me thinking, while Apple redesigned it's iPhone, and introduced a plethora of new features, and releasing iOS4, Apple has a very steep battle ahead with Android, and RIM for that matter. I honestly love my iPhone, and maybe I am being biased a bit but I plan on sticking with my iPhone even after my contract is up, I will probably stick with it. I think Job's mindset is fending off Google with iPhone 4, but in all honesty, Android will probably become the most dominant OS platform for smartphones.

First and foremost, Android is available on more than one phone, and it's also available on more carriers. iPhone is just two phone models, and while it's available on more carriers around the globe, in the United State's the only way you can own an iPhone is through AT&T. Android just has more exposure, and it's available on more platforms, and it's going to continue to bite into Apple's market share. I don't however think the iPhone will "die", just because it's an extremely popular device, but there's no doubt Google know's it has the upper hand.

Either way I am excited for the new iPhone, and especially iOS4. It's definitely going to sell very well, and there's so many new features and hardware upgrades that it will definitely be worth jumping on the bandwagon, and upgrading to the new model. Hell I would if I could but for now I am stuck with my 3GS for at least another year and a half. Don't bother me to much, but hey if something drastic happens and my phone breaks or something, I'll definitely just get iPhone 4. And for $99 you can also stick with the new 8GB model 3GS.

I Love my Wife

Marriage. It's a big commitment. I remember during my younger days, how intimidated I was at the prospect of marriage. I had my good and bad relationships like any ordinary person, but I often wonder if you really do know when you met that one woman, that you would do anything for. I never had that feeling during my younger years, and I am still young only 23 years of age. When I got stationed in Germany, I found out that Europe is a fantastic place to meet, hook up, and have a great time with woman. I guess during my time in Germany I began to fall in love with international woman. They are so different from American woman in regards to family issues, they are more independent from my experience, than American woman.

I am not saying American woman are bad at all-- but it was just my taste. I remember meeting my wife in 2006 right before I left for Iraq. I met her five months prior to leaving to Iraq, and we started out as friends. I didn't want a girlfriend nor did I desire one, knowing in couple of months I would be leaving. We built a strong bond those five months, and I remember my heart sagging the day I left. I was so busy in Iraq, that I didn't necessarily have the time to always be chatting with her, but I do remember all the letters she wrote to me on the computer-- I'd be gone for six days, and see four letters in my inbox. I thought to myself, well how thoughtful. I don't think I have ever met a woman who was willing to write quite a bit, and this I knew I couldn't really fall in as I wanted too. Obviously I was deployed, and wouldn't be back for a year, and during R&R I went back to the United State's to visit my family.

I ended up making it back to Germany. I was of course excited to go see Kate again. We ended up going out to dinner a few days later. We became close again during the first three months before we started dating. I wasn't sure how it would work out, but after spending so much time with her, I began to fall in love with her quirky humor, he cute English, her wonderful personality, but most of all her smile. She was such a hardworking woman balancing out school for nursing, working, and spending time with me as well, while dealing with everyday issues. I understood not all the time we could be together, but we both knew we wanted to be together and the lack of spending time together at times, wouldn't affect our relationship.

We ended up getting married June 20th, 2008. Of course being a young man, I was of course nervous. I didn't second guess my decision about marrying this woman-- I was just nervous. We tied the knot of course, and got our own place. When I got PCS back to the United State's she moved in with me. It took her awhile to get adjusted to life in the United State's, since it's so different. Than in 2009 I ended up leaving for Afghanistan, and my wife moved back to Germany until I returned home.

While being away from my wife was difficult, and probably the hardest time in my life. I don't think there is a better feeling in the world than when a man loves his woman, because I just adore my wife. She's not only my wife, but she's also my best friend, and we get a long so well together.