chikahiro94 / Member

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chikahiro94 Blog

To upgrade or not... hrm...

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My current video card is a Radeon 4670/1g. Right now I'm considering/looking at getting either a Radeon 4850 or 5750 (they're about the same performance wise). Not sure if I'll need a new power supply or not (got a 375w PSU).

From a look at Anandtech, I'd basically be paying ~$100 to get a card that's double the power of my current one.

Now, I know I can look at the 5770's, 5830's, etc., but honestly since I'm playing my current games fairly well, but just want some extra oomph for framerate and details, I think this range would be okay. The 4670 was bought for ~$80.

Is this "enough" of an upgrade? Or should I wait until something more powerful hits that price range? Biggest game for me is certainly City of Heroes, but I'm also playing/buying a lot of console to PC games like Prototype, Prince of Persia (I want to turn the settings up on that!), Batman, Mirror's Edge, Mass Effect, etc. Fable III is a definite buy, I think. These are likely to be my most demanding games.

Relevant specs:

Intel Q6600 quad @ 2.4ghz

Radeon 4670/1g ram

4g ram

Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit

Outgoing 360 owner: thoughts.

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I am now without a console, and am planning to sit out the rest of this generation. That could change, of course, but for the immediate future I'm not getting back in.

My friend has my 360 - I hope he enjoys it. I've found new homes for pretty much all my games and my stick. And I feel good about it.

Was the 360 a good system? Yes, it was. I did enjoy gaming with it. But, looking at things I noticed two things.

1. Consoles are social gaming for me. Simply put, I don't really have much in the way of gamer friends here, or I go to their house with other friends. I like on-couch multiplayer far more than online multiplayer.

2. I've more or less have gone back to PC gaming for now, much like when I was in college. With the number of console to PC ports, I'm good for a fair number of games. With Steam, Games for Windows and Impulse having regular sales? I can often get great games on the cheap. Also, there's no worries of me losing discs anymore - I can just redownload if I need.

Would things have been any different with the PS3? Honestly, I don't see why they would be. Game quality wasn't an issue for me. Graphics weren't, either. Exclusives? Not a biggie - most exclusive games don't have much appeal for me. I am equally unenthusiastic over Halo as I am Metal Gear Solid 4.

Certainly, both consoles are great, and have grown considerably since 2005 and 2006. But right now they're not doing it for me. It happens. So, for now, I've moved on. Will I come back to console gaming? I don't see why not. But right now I don't see any real reason to invest into it right now, either. I know that even the high and mighty PS3 and 360 Elite will be $99 one day, after all! Prices reward the patient ;)

Evaluating services I use: Free or Cheap?

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Email: Cheap

Yahoo has gotten another year's subscription out of me ($20 a year). I have been looking and evaluating other email services, and right now I'm going to have to say that Yahoo has a year to improve otherwise I might move. I'm quite happy with their service, don't get me wrong, but Microsoft and Google are putting up some compelling services. Microsoft in particular has been very aggressive in improving, and one of their new features (you can text yourself a disposable password for use in high-risk, shared, computing environments like net cafes and such) is a very good idea. That needs to be standard for all services, I think.

I've emailed Yahoo about some things I'd like to see come up in the next year. Here's hoping! I will note, however, that after using Yahoo's premium email for so long that I'm very used to doing email completely ad-free. Its a bit jarring to see it otherwise. I also prefer their email interface by far. That might keep me with Yahoo, even if they don't do the upgrades I'm hoping for.

Photos: Free

I've stopped using Flickr ($25 a year), and have been putting photos up on Facebook instead. While, honestly, Facebook isn't as good for that (they get scaled down, can't link, etc), the restrictions are fine considering its free and mostly for friends anyhow. My displeasure with Flickr stems from the fact I have link to my pictures instead of putting in a IMG tag - it violates the community guidelines or somesuch. For free? No problem. For pay? I would like to be able to do that! I need to email them regarding this, or maybe look into another image host. I'll pay for it if I get what I want.

Antivirus: Free

Microsoft Security Essentials is a great program and service. I can recommend it rather easily. I moved to it after using AVG for a number of years and a brief stint with the difficulty to spell (and pronounce) Kaspersky. AVG could be a big naggy, and Kaspersky would probably be better suited for a business or regular user than me.

Productivity: Free and Cheap

If you don't need Microsoft Word, Excel or Power Point, don't bother with them. For my use they're overkill. I've been using OpenOffice (and its predecessor, Star Office) since 1998, and from here on out refuse to pay for word processing or spreadsheets for my own, personal, use.

I'm finding that Google Docs is an excellent compliment to Open Office.

On my Palm Centro (dear old thing) I've got DataVis' Notes to Go application (paid). Very good for me as I can create MS Office compatible word processing and spreadsheet documents, edit them, etc. Good for when something hits me and I need to do something. When I upgrade to a new phone there's every chance I will buy the current version of Notes to Go for it.

Current projects

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Continued working on my finances

To keep myself refreshed and motivated, I downloaded all the class lessons from Dave Ramsey's class (www.daveramsey.com) onto my Zune. I was surprised to see that they had them for me to download (perk of going to the class), but was pleased. I re-listened to some of them yesterday, and will keep relistening to them periodically.

Actually going to speak about it at church today (10 minutes max). I was rather surprised when the pastor's wife asked me to (I had sent her an email about how FPU was working out for me, how I paid off my credit cards, and how much farther ahead of schedule I expected to be on getting out of debt).

Google Docs is a supremely useful tool as I can look at, examine and shuffle my budget around most anywhere I'm at. At home? Great. At work during lunch? Easy.

Considering finding a second job, even if its just 8-hours a week. No idea doing WHAT mind you. But even minimum wage ($7.25) for 8 hours a week for a year will garner me $3016 gross. After taxes? Hm... maybe $1500-2000.

Home improvement

Been decluttering like a fiend recently. Shredded several boxes of stuff that I've inexplicably held on to, thrown a bunch of stuff away, and will be getting ready to donate a bunch of stuff, too (books mostly, some clothes, etc). Been giving away games of mine to friends, and will be sending my stick off to a friend on the mainland. Wish I could find a home for my SFAE joystick (PS2 and XB compatible) - too big to ship for free, sadly. Might see if I can pass it on to Salvation Army or some place like that - some bargain hunter would score with that.

Looking at putting down laminate on the floor. I just began tearing out my old carpet (last room in the house that still had carpeting) - stuff was 30+ years old at least and I didn't realize how smelly it was until I hauled it off.

Self-Improvement

Looking at getting some new shoes, a new backpack, and hopefully will begin to regularly walk to work again Tuesdays through Fridays. That's about 3.8 miles round-trip. I need more exercise! Also, looking to having two-thirds of my meals being vegetarian (breakfast and lunch), and that's coming along (although slightly repetitive right now).

I really need to get my diet and exercise under control and improved, as they both contribute to keeping my blood sugar under control. No desire to be diabetic, thank you very much.

I've been very, "I'm not in my 20's anymore, time to start acting like I'm in my 30's" mood lately.

Daydreaming about getting my own place, but that'll be a bit longer term. Directly relates to my financial goals. After I'm out of debt, have 6 months of savings? I'll be starting to work towards getting a down payment on a place. Will likely go for a condo right now, simply because homes here cost so much. But, again, longer term. Don't expect to start working on that until 2012, and I want to get at least a 10%, maybe 20%, down payment. That's going to take a few years ($30-60k). But its nice to dream.

Gaming

Huh? I don't have time right now! :p

Seriously - I'm moving away from console gaming right now. Looking to sell my 360, not planning to replace it with a PS3, either. Re-subscribed to Star Trek Online for the time being. Haven't finished Prototype right now, and I told myself I'm not going to buy any more games until I finish it. Played a little Mirror's Edge and felt a bit sick later... I might have to write off the FPS format for me and gaming if its going to give me motion sickness and headaches. Which is a bit of a bummer.

Already given away all but one of my fighting games (BlazBlue, KOFXI, SFIV). The last one, VF5:Online, will be going with my HORI to a friend in Kansas. Still trying to find homes for the other games; Ridge Racer and Banjo Kazooie can go to my friend Paul (has four kids, plus has gaming at his house regularly). Not sure about the other games just yet. I just don't want them to end up at Gamestop, hence finding "homes" for them.

Whoever buys the 360 (probably $150 - a bit cheaper than Gamestop's price for a used Arcade) will get the 20g HDD plus the games I was given along with it, my VGA adapter, headset and texting keyboard. While I can really charge more, the HDD and games were given to me free by a very generous Gamespotter, the VGA adapter was sold to me at an incredible deal, and the other stuff will be no use to me anyhow.

Update: Talked to my buddy, and will give it to him. If he can get me anything, fine. If not, fine.

Thoughts on Zune ownership: 8 months in.

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I bought a 4gig Zune back in September last year (got it in October) after giving my friend my old iPod Nano (3rd generation phatty). It was $50 from Newegg, refurbished, and came with a car kit and leather case. You can read my initial impressions here.

* The Zune marketplace remains unused for me. The two reasons being it uses Microsoft Points and quite frankly I'd rather buy my music from Amazon. I prefer Zune and Amazon to iTunes since they sell MP3s, though.

* The Zune marketplace and player don't handle audiobooks well. The books they have are under "spoken word" rather than getting their own category like iTunes - annoying. Putting audiobooks onto the Zune requires a seperate application from Audible - very annoying.

* Ripping music is easy, but like virtually every other ripper I've used it does not say, "Hey! Your CD is damaged so all these tracks I ripping are going to sound like a high-volume scream." Oh well... failure of the application, and failure of me keeping my CD's in good condition.

* The FM radio works well, and is easily one of those features that I'll require from all media players going forward. My Sansa was a bit better in that you could record FM radio, and the new Nanos can do time-shifting of sorts (like a radio DVR, but only for 15-minute stints?). I'd like to see Microsoft improve this in the future, but chances are it'll only be fore Zune HD players and newer. Sadly, none of the radio stations here use the radio tags, so no finding out what stuff is (which is a bummer since I just started listening to a Hawaiian music station and they don't really say who they're playing).

* I love the squircle, and much prefer it to the iPod wheel.

All in all a very solid player.Right now I'm very curious to see what the Windows Phone 7 has to offer - its due out towards the holiday season. I find it very satisfying to see Sony and Microsoft in bed again - Sony Erricson is going to be making Windows 7 phones, which means a Sony will be making and selling a product that has Live! as a feature. Suck on reality, fanboys! The two companies work together regularly - its not as black and white, us versus them, as you think it is!

I wish I knew exactly when Microsoft started changing - there's been some sort of internal shaking of the status quo. While not perfect I'm a lot more impressed with them than I was even ten years ago. I'd like to give credit to Ray Ozzie, the new chief software architect (Bill Gate's old job), but it has to be more than that.

Used game buyers: whose customer are they?

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On another forum I frequent we were discussing (arguing) the new EA Sports policy concerning used games. During that discussion someone proposed the following:

The original buyer is the customer of the game company. If I buy a new EA, Sega, Epic, whoever-game, then I'm their customer.

The used buyer is the customer of whoever they bought the game from. If I buy a game used, then I'm Gamestop, my buddy, the pawnshop, etc.'s, customer and not the video game company's customer.

The person also pointed out that the original buyer for other used products will enjoy benefits that used buyers don't - the full warranty period, full support period, full return period, etc., and not only are they not always transferable, they never fully transfer. If I sold you a car with a warranty, you don't get the 100k mile warranty, you get what's left of it.

In short: the person who pays the company's bills gets everything. Anyone after? Maybe not so much, if anything.

It was an interesting way of looking at things that I hadn't considered.

Why is this relevant? Because one of the arguments was that used buyers are still the game company's customers, even if the company never saw a penny from them. The counter point was, no, they were the customers of whoever they bought the game used from, not the game company. As such, the onus of support and customer service should be up to the retailer (Gamestop).

Of course, you can't say that without bringing up the fact that Gamestop aggressively pushes used over new. A $60 game will often have one or two $55 used copies. If you have an Edge card, bring that down to about $50. Opened, new games cannot get refunds, only exchanges, within 30 days. Used games can get refunds if done within 7 days, exchanges up to 30 days.

Add on top of that? Games that have original buyer-only DLC like Mass Effect 2 are still being sold for only $5 less than new. If you buy ME2 used expecting to save money, keep in mind that the Cerebus Network will cost you another $15 (something that original buyers got with their purchase). Gamestop knows about this, but hasn't adjusted their pricing accordingly.

On top of that used games are Gamestop's major profit source. They'd much rather sell something used than new. Game publishers, obviously, want you to buy new because that's how they make money.

So - whose customer are you? Discuss.