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The_Game21x Blog

Annual Birthday Update - I'm 23!

It is July 6th once again and I am now 23 years old. Now, I'm starting to feel old.

Level 63 - Big Smoke

I reached this level yesterday. This is what I consider the pinnacle of GameSpot leveling because, for a while, this was the highest level anyone had ever received. I realize that there are higher levels but this level is something special in that I'll probably be stuck on this level until I'm 24. :P Gaining level points at this stage is incredibly slow (supposedly taking up to 3 days just to earn a single percent) so I'll be here for a while.

Anyway, I plan to be out doing things for much of the day today but I just wanted to pop in and post my birthday update before things got too hectic. Perhaps I'll be back later when I've thought of something with some substance to write here. :D

iOS 4 - Did Apple Test This At All?

Dead iPhone

iOS 4 and the next generation iPhone have both been released earlier this week and has captured the attention of Apple fanboys, gadget lovers and tech bloggers alike and aren't letting go. I'm not surprised. The gadget world always seems to be beside itself whenever Apple unveils and releases a shiny new gadget on the salivating public. I own a second generation iPod Touch and when Apple debuted the fourth generation of the iPhone OS, now called iOS, noting that some of the biggest features such as multitasking and the ability to set your own wallpaper (seriously?) would be exclusive to the iPhone 4 and 3GS, I was understandably peeved.

Nonetheless, when Apple released the OS earlier this week, I decided to update my iPod Touch from the jailbroken 3.1.2 OS I was currently running to iOS 4, figuring the few features I did get would be worth the loss of my jailbroken (but not pirated!) apps. Boy was I wrong.

While I enjoy the slightly smoother and prettier animations when switching between pages and in and out of apps as well as the app folders and the ability to create a playlist on the iPod itself, it doesn't amount to much when I can only use the device for a few hours between charges. That's right. iOS 4 has murdered my iPod Touch's battery life. Whereas I was able to get more than a day's worth of use out of my iPod before "upgrading" to iOS 4, I'm lucky to get more than a few hours at most with similar usage. Heck, yesterday, I played a bit of N.O.V.A.'s single player campaign on what was a nearly full (around 80% or so) battery and somewhere within 20 and 30 minutes into my play session (the game is surprisingly addictive), the standard "20% of battery remaining" notification popped up. The same thing happened the day before when I played Need for Speed: Shift in about the same amount of time. This is unacceptable.

iPhone Low Battery

I understand that gaming can take a rather heavy toll on the iPod's battery life but I've managed to play games, listen to some music and get in some web browsing over Wi-Fi for hours prior to updating without depleting my battery. I used to think that the fact that I set my email accounts up to push new emails to my device every hour was killing my battery but I since turned that feature off and my battery life is still in the crapper. So…let me get this straight. The decent battery life that I've grown to expect from my iPod Touch is now gone and I don't even have the ability to multitask to show for it? Are you freaking kidding me? Please tell me this is some kind of cruel joke. It's not enough that iPod Touch 2G and iPhone 3G owners were shafted out of some of the best features of iOS 4 (they won't even let us customize the background for crying out loud!) but we have to be treated to sluggish performance and lower battery life too? Why?

Wait. What am I saying? This is how Apple does business and I've known it for years. They introduce a new product every year with brand new features and owners of the previous generation are left out in the cold, only to look on in envy and annoyance at owners of the new product, looking at their older model in shame and wishing they'd waited just a little bit longer. I knew what I was getting into when I bought my iPod Touch, I just didn't know it would come back to bite me in the butt in a way such as this.

I already know what some of the Apple apologists are going to say in response to my complaints. "You should've waited." Well, there are two schools of thought on that matter.

1. You're right; I should've waited to see if all the bugs had been ironed out first before upgrading to iOS 4 instead of grabbing the new OS the first chance I got.

And...

2. Screw that BS. I'm not taking the blame because Apple screwed up. Apple should have run the necessary bug and stress tests beforehand to ensure that the OS was up to code on the previous platforms before releasing it. I find it hard to believe that problems as big as heavily degraded performance and exponentially shorter battery life on certain platforms are issues that wouldn't have come up in beta testing, which leads me to believe that either Apple's development team is incompetent or they just didn't care.

I tend to side with the latter argument in this case. There is no excuse for this. If I'm not going to be given access to multitasking, which would understandably tax the processor and battery a lot heavier than normal one-app-running-at-a-time usage, then my battery life shouldn't be as adversely affected by this OS upgrade as it has been. And it's not like I'm alone in my complaints either.

Bad Apple

I don't profess to know everything about how iOS 4 works and interacts with the hardware of the iPod Touch and iPhone and I'm not going to assume that there isn't some extremely techie reason why my iPod's battery life has been so mercilessly slaughtered but quite frankly, I don't care. As far as I'm concerned, there is no reason why my battery life should be so low now when I'm doing the same things that I've been doing all along.

I am aware that this rant is going to make me sound like a crazy, anti-Apple fanboy but I really don't care. This mess with iOS 4 destroying my battery life and the fact that Apple probably isn't going to release an update to fix it has me very pissed off. Needless to say, while I was thinking of upgrading to the next iPod Touch after the inevitable refresh later this summer, I think I'll hold off now. This is a load of crap and I am not pleased with this. Not one bit.

Re-Posted From The Mind of Game

The Original PlayStation: An Audiophile's Dream

Playstation 1

Spurred by a number of articles that have been released in recent years, the audiophile community has long been divided by the original PlayStation. According to reviewers at audiophile publications and websites such as 6moons and Stereophile, the original PlayStation, model number SCPH-1001, can go toe-to-toe with the likes of the $6000 CD players that many self-proclaimed audiophiles swear by. A pretty lofty claim for a console that can be easily found online for around $30 to be sure. If you're wondering why this particular model family is praised over the others, it's because PS1s under this model number feature separate white and red RCA jacks, which audiophiles can use to output sound using their "audiophile quality" (read: expensive) cables to their expensive amps and listen to them with their expensive headphones or even more expensive speaker setups.

Color me curious

I, unfortunately, do not have a PS1 that hails from the fabled SCPH-1001 model family. Mine instead is one of the later models, specifically of the SCPH-5501 variety which apparently uses the same high-quality DAC so, theoretically, I should be able to achieve similar results from it. The only problem is that I can only use the A/V multi out port on my PS1 and the AV cables that came with it. No matter, since I don't have any of these expensive cables or tube amps to plug it into and I figure, for my purposes of merely evaluating its sound quality from the perspective of an audiophile on a budget, the AV cables, with an adapter, will do fine. Besides, I've heard some reports saying that excellent sound quality can be achieved through the multi out as well as the RCA jacks so I'm not too worried.

So, I set everything up, turned it on and inserted the first of many CDs I would be using to test this baby out and sat down with my RE0s, which are still among the most neutral sounding IEMs and thus are very well suited to this task, and gave it a listen.

Playstation 2

The sound output by the PS1 was actually quite good. Bass seems to be slightly accented but it doesn't sound bloated or flabby in any way. The low end is surprisingly well controlled and has a smooth but detailed sort of texture which comes across as decently defined and surprisingly energetic. The only aspect of the low end I think needs improvement is extension, which isn't particularly amazing.

The midrange is best described as vibrant and forward. Vocals come through loud and clear and have an "in your face" quality that might turn off some listeners but was rather pleasant sounding in my experience. Instruments are well placed throughout the stage but there is a tiny sense of muddiness throughout the range that makes things sound a bit less clear and resolved. fortunately, this muddiness is only barely detectable in most cases and doesn't detract from the sound signature too much. I was immediately surprised by the aggressiveness of the midrange but also surprised at its ability to stay in its proper place. Yes, it does come off as "shouty" and occasionally somewhat gritty or edgy but it's not too offensive or jarring. It adds a sort of vibrancy and vivacity to the otherwise smooth and relaxed sound that is really quite enjoyable.

The high end is also rather good, boasting decent refinement, extension and clarity. I did notice that treble can be a tad bright and sounds a bit recessed in comparison to the mids and bass but on the whole, it is nicely integrated into the rest of the sound signature. Highs sparkle and shine, resonating with detail and brightness without becoming strident.

Soundstaging and imaging are both great on my PS1 and even through my RE0s, which are somewhat limited in terms of soundstage width and depth, seem to have opened up considerably due to the PS1's ability to present a somewhat expansive and three dimensional soundstage. As I said before, it's also surprisingly easy to pick out where instruments are placed on the stage. The PS1 is great at portraying intimacy while still managing to preserve the expansiveness of certain recordings.

Playstation 3

To analogize this, the sound signature is sort of like an order of spicy buffalo wings dipped in a cool ranch sauce. The smooth, creamy texture of the ranch hits your taste buds first and paves the way for the spicy kick. This blend of calm and aggressive keeps things interesting. It's smooth enough to be relaxing when listening to slower selections and exciting enough to be engaging for faster, livelier tracks. There are flaws here and there, to be sure, but what it does right is blended together to create an amazingly good sound in terms of a price-to-performance ratio and one that is just plain good, period.

There are also a number of publicized modifications that can be performed to the 5501 console to further improve its sonic performance and just knowing that, coupled with the fact that I'll soon be upgrading the standard AV cables to cables of a much higher quality, I'm excited to see just how much more I can eke out of the PS1's hardware.

So, is the PS1 "audiophile quality" and can it compete with $6000 CD players? I honestly have no idea. I haven't heard super high end CD players the likes of which whose prices stretch into the thousands of dollars so I have no basis of comparison in that regard. What I do know is that my PS1 sounds very, very good in comparison to what I have heard. Considering the regular going rate for PS1 consoles on eBay and their extremely high availability, I think the PS1 would be a great investment for audiophiles on a budget, especially if you're looking to get into the DIY scene, which is surprisingly active for the PS1.

Playstation 4

I imagine the PS1's performance as a CD player will continue to polarize the audiophile community as it has in the years past. Regardless of whether or not the PS1 is audiophile grade, one thing is for certain; the PS1 is a very good CD player, for the price, and is one that I am very pleased with. If you're looking to buy a PS1 from eBay, make sure that the system you buy is from either the 1001 or 5501 model families because I've heard that, in subsequent hardware revisions, the high-quality AKM DAC which creates the wonderful audio experience was removed, likely to cut costs. If you're not looking to modify the PlayStation, the 1001 is likely your best bet, as it supposedly sounds a bit better than the 5501 due to its dedicated RCA jacks which offer inherent advantages when it comes to the choice of cables.

Regardless of whether or not this is an audiophile grade piece of equipment, I'm very pleased with the PS1's performance as a CD player and dedicated source. I hadn't so much as touched the thing beyond opening it up a couple of times to satisfy some latent curiosities I had seeing as my 60 GB PS3 plays PS1 games just as well as (if not better than) my PS1 so it took residence in a drawer, buried underneath a mess of Ethernet and A/V cables. Now, my PS1 is sitting out on a small table behind me, serenading me with the sweet sounds of one of my many CDs and glowing with a renewed sense of purpose. Perhaps this wasn't what the PS1 was built for but it certainly excels in its current capacity.

Tumblr Blog, I Has One

Yep. I have a Tumblr Blog now.

Does this mean I'm abandoning my The Mind of Game site? Of course not. As I explained on the Tumblr blog, it's only for sharing "goings on in my life that I don't feel are suited for my The Mind of Game site". Kind of like an expanded Twitter feed, or something along those lines.

So, that's all for now.

An Introspective Look Into Personal Philosophy Through Dreams

Summer Dreams

About a week ago, I had a very strange dream. Funny thing, I didn't so much as see a glimpse of the dream until about eight hours after I woke up but the instant I did remember it, all of the feelings I had experienced during the dream came flooding back in that second. Many of the finer details are fuzzy, as dreams typically are, but I remember the overarching concept pretty clearly. So, what was so interesting about this dream?

Well…I died.

Even so much as typing those two words is enough to cause me to feel a sudden jolt in my chest, like an electric shock went off within me and surges through my body. It's a weird feeling. What makes this weird for me is the fact that that jolt is the sort of feeling that reminds me that I'm alive, which is a weird feeling to associate with a dream about my own mortality.

Like I said before, many of the finer details, including how this all began, are lost to memory but I will do the best I can to recreate the scene. I believe I was on some sort of starship as it made its way across the galaxy (I've got to slow down on the Sins…) and I believe the ship I was on was besieged by an alien vessel.

I'm pretty sure you can see where this is going.

As far as what happened after that, I'm not so sure. I really wish I could remember what happened between the attack and the…end but I can't and I'd rather not try to push myself too hard and risk forgetting the more important details. But…there's one line I recall saying just before my death.

"Well, at least I'll be able to see if my theories about death are true."

And then, I died.

There's that feeling again.

Angel of Death

Explaining the feeling I experienced during my…death is pretty difficult. I felt as though I was forcibly and irrevocably being disconnected from my body while seeing colors swirling all around me and then…darkness.

I awoke some time later in some sort of spirit form, feeling as though time itself had stopped or that I was existing in a realm beyond time. I was still in space and fully aware of what happened to me and strangely, I was at peace with it. Space stretched out endlessly around me and I drifted, soundlessly and effortlessly through the vacuum, aware of my death and now, in this spirit form, free to explore the universe for all eternity if I wished.

I was also fully aware that I now possessed supernatural abilities, including the ability to instantly teleport to any location I wished. I felt a call from home, Earth, and transported myself there in a split second. I found myself at home, standing in my room, gazing upon it as if for the last time. Shortly after, I teleported myself to the house of my grandparents and had another fleeting look around. Afterwards, with a satisfied smirk, I departed Earth, supposedly forever, and began my exploration of space.

Universe

That was the end of the dream. What makes this dream stand out from other similar dreams I've had is the fact that I actually died in this dream. In every other similar dream, I've had mere brushes with death, including tripping and falling into the Grand Canyon, nearly being shot by a burglar, among other dreams. This is why this dream in particular has had such an impact on me.

Remember that quote earlier? Well, that serves as a foundation not only for the dream but aspects of my life as a whole. If there's anything that fascinates me, it's the subject of death. I am positively enthralled by the concept of death and what awaits us on the "other side". I suspect that many people have their own theories about death (Heaven, reincarnation, and so on) and my theories are similar.

This dream connects my fascination with death with my other fascination, a fascination with the universe and what dwells within it. I have long looked up at the stars at night, wondering if there are any star systems similar to our own, containing a planet similar to Earth and housing sentient life similar to us but, of course, entirely alien to us. Now, I don't believe in the crackpot theories that aliens are among us or have abducted and probed people but I don't believe for a second that we, on Earth, are the lone forms of sentient life to exist in the vastness of space.

Interstellar space travel similar to what has been glimpsed in sci-fi television and movies like Star Trek and Star Wars as well as games such as Mass Effect and Sins of a Solar Empire is unlikely to be achieved in my lifetime and I've made my peace with that, however, it is my wish that, in death, I shall be allowed to roam the stars, for all eternity if I wish, to discover just what lurks out there in the endless blackness of space. This dream I had was an embodiment of this desire as well as the desire to see what awaits us after we have passed on from this life and into the next.

Grand Universe

In the end, this dream is a representation of my true obsession, an obsession with the unknown. I wish to be able to venture the stars to satisfy my latent curiosity. In terms of death, no one truly knows what happens to us after we die and that represents perhaps the biggest unknown in our lives. This dream was perhaps an attempt by my subconscious to bring some meaning into the unknown. People tend to have a fear of the unknown, simply because the unknown, in and of itself, is impossible to understand. It's like being afraid of the dark. You're not actually afraid of the darkness itself, you're afraid of what could potentially be lurking in the darkness that you cannot see. Understanding the unknown leads to acceptance, which in turn dispels the fear.

This dream was a freaky but insightful look into my own philosophies toward life, death, space and the discovery of the unknown. I only wish I could remember more of the dream, or if I could force my subconscious to show me an extended cut of that dream (with full recall upon waking up, of course) to see just how deep the proverbial rabbit hole goes.

Re-Posted From The Mind of Game

Photography Blog

I recently set up an online gallery for the various photos I've taken recently. Now, I don't consider myself much of a photographer but I've been taking pictures with my little point-and-shoot camera and have been very pleased with the results as of late.

I have a few albums set up, including some pictures I took of the plant life in my backyard and a bunch of others. Check it out if you'd like. Feedback is welcomd and highly encouraged, as always.

TheGame21x's Photo Gallery

Another The Mind of Game/ Musical Musings Update

Yep, it's that time again. I've been quite busy writing content for my blogs and now I'm here to link them here so you guys can check them out.

The Mind of Game Updates

Halo: Reach Beta Impressions Part One

"The Halo: Reach beta has come and gone and now exists in the memory of hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of Halo fans worldwide. I, of course, played quite a bit of the beta and now I'm here to give you my impressions of what I experienced in my time with the game. True enough, players were granted such a small glimpse into what Halo: Reach will offer when it releases in the fall of this year but what was on display here was more than enough to get excited for. What I experienced in my short time with the beta was also more than enough for me to be able to safely say that Halo: Reach will be one of the best multiplayer games released this generation.

A lot of fuss has been made about the new additions to Halo: Reach since the unveiling of the first multiplayer trailer and a lot of people have been quick to make snap judgments about it based solely on that trailer, calling Halo: Reach "Halo 3 with jetpacks". Well, let me be the first to tell you that that is not true in the slightest. This doesn't mean that Halo: Reach feels completely different from its predecessors because it doesn't, it is a Halo game through and through but the new additions make it feel fresh and alive in ways that Halo 3 wasn't."

Halo: Reach Beta Impressions Part Two

"Continuing from the first half of my Halo: Reach beta impressions, I am going to run down the various game modes that were included in the beta as well as give my thoughts on the new maps showcased in the various modes. So, without further delay, check out the rest of my Halo: Reach beta impressions."

Super Street Fighter IV Review

"I'll admit it; I'm not a huge fan of fighting games. I've never been a fan of memorizing long lists of combos and special moves for each of any one game's roster of fighters, heck I've never been a fan of memorizing the combos for just my favorite characters. Thus, I've always been what is commonly referred to as a "button masher", mashing buttons at random on my controller and hoping that whatever combination of buttons I pressed would result in something good happening on the screen. Oh, and blocking pretty much doesn't exist to me. After all, why block when you can attack? Sure, this isn't the greatest strategy in the world and skilled players can counter it without breaking a sweat but it's entertaining enough, depending on the game. Despite all of that, something about the fighting genre has always intrigued me and when Super Street Fighter IV was released, at a lower than average price to boot, I decided to give it a shot."

GameSpot Version of the Review You can check this out too and give it a thumbs up if you liked it. :wink:

Snap Judgment - Sins of a Solar Empire

"Over the previous weekend, Stardock, the developer of Sins of a Solar Empire, had a nice sale on the game through their Impulse Digital Download service, for only $3.99 plus tax. Since I passed on this back when it released back in 2008 and having more than a passing interest in the real time strategy genre, I decided to buy it. The way I figured, if I played it once and never played it again, I only wasted 4 bucks. Thankfully though, I have been enjoying my time with the game thus far."

Musical Musings Updates

Comparison and Contrast Between Zune Buds and Apple iBuds

"In today's market, earbuds are plentiful from a plethora of companies all looking to get a slice of the market all to themselves. Apple has commanded a great deal of marketshare with its iPod line of products to the point that it's hard to walk around and not see a pair of earbuds dangling from someone's ears and, more often than not, they'll be stock earbuds. After so many years of using IEMs and quality headphones, I couldn't see how people could enjoy using stock earbuds, assuming that they were nothing short of sonic garbage.

A few weeks ago, I began to think, "How do people actually enjoy these things?" I also began to wonder if they sound better than I'd previously given them credit for. Well, seeing as I had a pair of iBuds lying around that I received with my iPod Touch and never used as well as a pair of Zune stock earbuds that came packaged with my first generation 30GB Zune player that I also never used. Considering that I had never used either of these IEMs and the rivalry between Microsoft and Apple is quite heated, I decided to pit the two against each other in a comparison and contrast review. With that said, I invite you to read my thoughts on the Zune and iPod earbuds."

Pyle Wood-Bud Review

"Browsing on Amazon earlier this week, I came across the Pyle Wood-Bud in ear monitors for $5.30, marked down from $20 or so. Against my better judgment, I bought them, the grand total coming to $10.88 after the $5.58 shipping costs. You'd think I would've realized something was up when I saw the incredibly low price but also when the shipping costs totaled more than the price of the IEMs themselves but nope. I ordered them anyway. Well they arrived yesterday and after listening to them for about five minutes over two days…I want my money back."

V-Moda Vibe Retrospective

"A little over two months ago, I reviewed the V-Moda Vibe IEMs and gave them a somewhat unfavorable evaluation due to somewhat muddy, uncontrolled bass, a recessed midrange and only decently clear highs. I did mention that the Vibes benefitted from a good dedicated amp but, after using them again recently with my CMoy for an extended period of time, I don't think I gave these IEMs enough credit. When paired with my CMoy amp (no bass boost), the V-Moda Vibes really come into their own. It's such a drastic change that I'm surprised that these are the same IEMs."

Woodees IESW101B Review

"Wood has long been used in the manufacturing of musical instruments because of its acoustic properties. One application of wood that has failed to really take off is in the world of in ear monitors. Sure, there are a few well known IEMs that have been crafted out of wood but the IEM market is thoroughly dominated by plastics and metal.

A Canadian firm by the name of iConnects is looking to change that and has developed two wooden IEMs under the name "Woodees" for the mid-fi marketplace. Both IEMs are virtually the same with their primary difference being their color scheme and a microphone for use with the iPhone and other smartphones that accept microphone input through their 3.5mm audio jack. I have the sans-microphone version on hand and I have taken my time in putting these through their paces.

So, do the wooden enclosures produce the type of rich, detailed sound that is pleasing to the ear or does everything sound like a muddy mess? Read on to find out."

Apple Dual Driver IEM Review

"Apple's stock earbuds that have been shipped with every iPod since its inception are quite possibly the most prolific and widely distributed tech accessory of all time. It's hard to go anywhere without seeing a pair of these things dangling from someone's ears. Casual listeners are bound to be satisfied by the decent performance of the earbuds but what about audiophiles? It's hard to imagine that many audiophiles would be impressed with those earbuds and, not to mention, they just aren't comfortable at all for long periods of use. So, what's an audiophile to do?

Apple's answer to this comes in the form of their revamped in-ear headphones which feature two balanced armature drivers, a dedicated woofer and tweeter, promising Hi-Fi audio quality for about $80. I was able to snag a lightly used pair for $23 on Amazon (They're the real deal too!) to give them a thorough listen. So, do Apple's IEMs (which I'll henceforth refer to as the ADDIEM) deliver audiophile grade sound on a relatively low budget? Read on to find out."

That's it for now. I'll be posting more updates as they come in.

The Mind of Game/Musical Musings Update

As you may know, I have my own websites and I've been doing a great deal of work as of late providing them with content and I just wanted to share with you all some of the articles I've published as of late.

The Losers (2010) Review

"Early yesterday, I went to see The Losers. Like Kick-Ass before it, this was based on a comic book/graphic novel and I must say that I have not read the comic so I won't be judging how good this is in comparison to its source material. With Iron Man 2 coming out at the end of the week and this being a movie I'd been interested in seeing before its release, I figured this would be a decent stopgap between now and the release of Iron Man 2, which I'm hugely excited for. Having seen the reviews for this film, which weren't exactly favorable, I went into it with lowered expectations. So, was the film a disappointment as the reviews would indicate or did I enjoy what I saw at the theatre? Read on to find out."

Kanen KM-948 Impressions

"After ordering the Kanen KM-92s with an air of skepticism about the company and being impressed with what I'd received, I wanted to try out a couple more items from their extensive earphone catalog. I eventually settled on the Kanen KM-948 earphones, another budget IEM which set me back about $5.50 with free shipping. A few weeks went by and they finally arrived on my doorstep a couple of days ago. I'd heard some good things about these IEMs and was hoping that they would live up to what I'd read."

MEElectronics M6 Review

"Before late February, I didn't know anything about MEElectronics. When I finally heard about the company and purchased my M9Ps, I realized that they were a company that I should keep my eye on. In the time since, I've had the chance to review their lower end IEM models, the SX-31 and M2s and I've been impressed by the both of them, in different ways. Now, I'm here with a review of the first generation M6 models, one of MEElectronics' higher end IEMs. These apparently share the same drivers as the M9s and M9Ps and if that's true, then I should be in for a pleasant experience. So, did the M6 IEMs live up to my expectations? Read on to find out."

Panasonic Slimz RP-HX70 Mini Review

"I found these portable headphones by chance at Target one day and saw that they were on clearance, marked down to about $15 from the MSRP of $60. Seeing the relatively high retail price, I thought these were practically a steal at one quarter of the MSRP so I promptly purchased them, thinking that I'd done pretty well for myself. After owning these for six months or so and using them on and off during that time, I've decided to review these, as there are only a few reviews out there on these portable headphones."

Impressions of the KFC Double Down

"From the moment the KFC Double Down was announced, I decried it as a monument to American gluttony and obesity. When I saw pictures of it, I couldn't believe it was real. I couldn't fathom how KFC could come up with the concept of a "sandwich" made out of two pieces of chicken instead of bread, two slices of bacon, two slices of pepper-jack cheese and some sort of special sauce, much less approving such a sandwich for release on an unsuspecting American populace.

Nevertheless, my better judgment took a backseat earlier today when, on my way home from cla-ss I stopped at a local KFC and ordered a Double Down. I figured this was one of those things in life that I would regret not at least trying once and even if I never ordered it again; I'd be able to say I ate one. So, when I arrived home and took my Double Down out of the paper bag, I picked up the sandwich and braced myself, practically feeling my arteries closing in my chest before I took that first bite."

So check them out and tell me what you think! :)

The iPad is the Future

iPad Header

No, I don't own an iPad and I have little to no interest in buying one either. I'm not writing this editorial to gush all over the iPad and tell you why you all need Apple's latest shiny new toy. Instead, I'm writing this instead to explain why I think the iPad and devices like it are the wave of the future.

It's inevitable. In the future, we'll all own and carry with us iPad-like devices for consuming the internet and our favorite digital media. In our always on, always connected society, we already use our cellphones, laptops, iPods and Kindles for checking the news, checking our e-mail, uploading pictures to our Facebook profiles, reading e-books, listening to music and telling the world that we've just eaten a bagel via Twitter. The iPhone and the legions of smartphones that have sprung up attempting to copy its success (like it or not, the iPhone was hugely influential on the current smartphone industry) have sought to bring all of these things together and have largely been successful at doing so.

So what's the problem? Why won't we just continue to use our smartphones to satisfy our need to be connected? Well, it's simple. Their screens are too small. Sure, an iPhone is great for listening to music and light web browsing and video watching but when it comes to tasks such as reading e-books, watching entire movies or television shows, working on documents, doing any serious web browsing and so on, smartphones fall flat because their screens are simply too small to get the job done.

The iPad doesn't have this problem. With its generous 9.7" LED display, still images, web pages, movies, television shows, e-books, applications and practically everything in between render beautifully on the iPad's screen, which is plenty large for just about any task you can think of. For consuming digital media on the go, I honestly can't think of a better mobile companion, especially when the 3G-equipped iPad comes into play.

Now I know what some of you are thinking. "That sounds like a job for a cheap netbook!" Well, I'd agree with you but they have their own set of problems. Netbooks are impractical when all you want to do is check your e-mail or do any sort of quick task such as that for two primary reasons. While netbooks are small, they are still a bit unwieldy in certain scenarios in part because of their large and fairly bulky design in comparison to the sleek and slender design of the iPad.

Another reason they are impractical is because they lack the instant on potential of devices such as the iPad. In order to do even the simplest of tasks, you have to turn on the netbook and wait for it to boot up or wake from sleep which usually takes at least a minute or two, even for the fastest of netbooks.

This brings me to another problem facing netbooks. They're incredibly slow, almost painfully so at times. As a netbook owner, I know how useful they can be but no matter what, when using one, you have to be patient. Netbooks do not have the power of full blown laptops or desktops and because of the fact that the vast majority of them run operating systems designed computers with a great deal more power than a netbook can bring to bear (especially in the case of Windows 7 Starter). In my experience, netbooks have some issues in terms of speed when trying to run applications that were designed with modern computers in mind.

Take it from a guy who owns and uses a netbook on a daily basis. They are slow. You are not going to be doing any serious video editing, high-def movie watching or any processor intensive tasks on a netbook because they're not built for that. These are built for checking e-mail or doing web surfing or light document editing at the coffee house while you enjoy your tall white chocolate latte. Personally, I use mine for taking notes (and a little web browsing, I admit it) in cla-ss and other light usage similar to what I mentioned before and for what I use it for, it's fine. To push things a bit further, my mother occasionally uses my netbook for watching TV shows on Hulu and says that it works just fine for that purpose too.

Am I saying this because I regret buying my netbook? No, because I don't. I just realize that netbooks have their purpose in the world, just like the iPad has its purpose and when it comes to experiencing digital media on the go, the iPad is more intuitive. Its interface is inherently superior for certain tasks due to its multitouch display whereas laptops and netbooks use physical keyboards and trackpads which work just fine in terms of practicality but fall short in terms of intuitiveness. With the iPad, you don't have to wait for it to boot up when you want to check your email. You don't have to wait for it to respond when you click on an icon. You don't have to figure out how it works. The iPad just…works. You pick it up and instantly know what to do with it.

At least from what I've seen and read anyway. I don't have first-hand experience with the device and I don't profess to know any more about the device than has been pointed out in any of the dozens of iPad reviews that can be found floating about the internet.

So, if I recognize that tablet devices are the wave of the future and that the iPad is likely going to be the first device to push us toward such a future, then why aren't I lining up to buy one? That's simple. Price. While I'm not fond of Apple's closed software ecosystem either, the primary reason why I will not be buying an iPad is the fact that it is prohibitively expensive for me. I'm a college student and any money I get is going toward my educational pursuits and the pizza, take out and ramen noodles I need to keep me going.

As much of a gadget lover as I consider myself being, the iPad is one of those gadgets that I can live without, even if it is the new toy on the block that everyone is talking about. I'd love to have the chance to play around with one and review it to see if it's all it's cracked up to be but at this point, it's just too expensive to justify. Perhaps when the new generation comes around and Apple has dropped the price, I'll consider picking one up. For now, my netbook and laptop will serve me just fine at home and on the go. They're not the gadgets of the future, but they will suffice in the present.

The Immaturity of Online Gamers Never Ceases to Amaze Me

Online Gamers

As a gamer, I've been involved in the world of online gaming for quite some time now. In that time, I've experienced my fair share of negativity directed my way by my fellow online gamers. Now, I know all too well that the realm of online gaming (especially Xbox Live) has long been a festering cesspool of ignorance, bigotry, idiocy and cruelty but every now and then, I'll experience something personally or have something brought to my attention that really irks me. This is the latter scenario. Just take a look at the video posted below for a few minutes. That should be more than enough to make you sick to your stomach.

7 Year Old Kid Cries on Xbox Live

Apparently, a group of gamers decided to play a practical joke on a seven year old gamer during a game of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 over Xbox Live by telling him that they were going to report him for having a modded controller and "glitching the game" when apparently, he had done neither and had only said some things which riled up the gamers. The seven year old was reduced to tears at several points during the nearly ten minute long video and still, the gamers persisted with their teasing, even going as far as performing faked calls to Microsoft and allowing him to hear them as they made it sound as if they were talking with Microsoft customer service representatives and reported him for his supposed bad behavior, leading him to believe that he was going to be suspended or banned from Xbox Live.

Now I enjoy jokes as much as the next guy. I can even enjoy them when they're made at my expense, depending on the severity of the joke but no matter what, there's always a limit. At some point, even the funniest practical jokes are no longer funny. In this case, the joke was never funny to begin with; it's just wrong on every conceivable level.

I'm not sure what the kid did to deserve the kind of cruel joke that was played on him but I am sure that it was not worth it. Some people have argued that he shouldn't have been playing the game anyway since he was so young and the game in question is rated "M" (that was even included in the video description as some form of justification) but does that make this right? Was the fact that it was apparently an April Fools' Day "joke" make it better? No. A group of older people (most likely teens and young adults) ganging up on and tormenting a seven year old child with the threat of having his account suspended or banned is not my idea of funny and I honestly don't know what kind of person would enjoy such a thing.

Oh wait, yes I do. I've dealt with those kinds of people all my life. These immature people usually travel in packs and revel in the act of making someone else's life miserable in any way they can. They're called bullies. On Xbox Live (and the internet in general), these bullies, also known as internet tough guys and e-thugs, are in abundance. One problem is the lack of accountability for these people that is afforded to them by the degree of anonymity that the internet inherently provides to everyone who connects to it. The bigger problem here is that this kind of behavior is accepted. Similar to the way that no one seems to care that someone is being bullied or harassed in schools, no one cares that people are using Xbox Live or whatever online service they may choose as the conduit of their hate and taking out their frustrations on their opponents. Heck, just read through the comments on the video and you'll see that people are actually siding with the teens and cheering them on for their behavior.

This is not acceptable by any means. I know full well that it's practically impossible to hold someone accountable for their actions over the internet but even if we could, that would be curing the symptom, not the disease itself. People need to be held accountable outside of gaming as well. If this behavior is no longer tolerated offline, then it will no longer exist online I don't know what kind of justification the people in this video could possibly come up with for doing what they did but I highly doubt it would be enough to change my opinion on this. Even if the kid had called them names before, you have to remember that he's seven and probably doesn't even understand what he's saying! There is nothing that any child could say to me that would get me so riled up that I would get my buddies in on a practical joke to get back at him, whether he understood what he was saying or not. This was a truly despicable act and the people who did this should be ashamed of themselves. As far as I'm concerned, they're all a bunch of cowards.