Blog'n the night away...

Website Updates A-Go-Go

Sunday October 22nd 2006
Updates! Small updates to report on the site. The My Computers page is updated with my latest addtions and modifications. One, I've upgraded my display to a 22" Widescreen LCD (sweet!). Two, CodeWeavers replaced my crappy Toshiba Laptop with a shiny black MacBook. Awww yeah. Actually, the MacBook I had with me on the trip to the UK, but this is the first chance I've had to mention it.

Game DB Updates:

I am still playing loads of WoW these days. In fact my may character Splortch is up to level 52. I may just make level 60 before the expansion hits. But, I'm not getting my hopes up, nor will go out of my way to grind my way. I'll try to keep my playtime to normal limits.

Back on the new LCD monitor. Starting with World of Warcraft, I will be taking screenshots at the new preferred resolution of 1680x1050. This gets my PC gaming close to HDTV res 1080i (1920x1080). Though, I still think games look better on the PC versus the Xbox 360.

Welcome home Kirby!

Saturday October 7th 2006
Kirby!That's right!
We adopted a new member of our family today. Kirby was rescued by Homeward Bound Dog Rescue of Minnesota. We found the website while doing puppy research online. They bring the dogs to Petco stores each Saturday. This is just a great way to play with and see many different breads if you are unsure of what works for you. We had some ideas, but until you go and see the dogs you may be surprised at which ones grow on you. Kirby is a mix of Sheltie (Shetland Sheepdog) and Welsh Corgie. He is about 10 months old. Their best guess is that he was born around February. He is just a bundle of fun.

Tally Ho!

Monday September 25th 2006
'Ello We are back from our trip to jolly ol' England. Karen and I left from Minneapolis airport September 14th on Northwest Air for a 8 hour non-stop flight to London Gatwick airport. Our good friend Rob was our host for this trip. He picked us up and drove us to his home town of Reading. We stayed our week long trip with him and his Mum. I just gotta say 'Thanks' to them for being so great. We had a fantastic time. The first weekend was work related. WineConf 2006 was being held at the University of Reading. Rob was also the bloke who organized WineConf this year. Good job mate! After WineConf we took a day trip to London. We rode the train from Reading to Paddington Station. From Paddington we took the London Underground. I was particularly impressed by how extensive this subway system was. Talk about good public transportation. Something our city here needs to work on. In London we walked the Thames, rode the London Eye, and many other sites. "Look kids! Big Ben, Parliament!". 😊

A few days later we drove down from Reading to Portsmouth. This city is a port town. So if you are into boats, big and small, this is worth checking out. I'm a sucker for the salty sea air. We checked out 3 historic ships from Her Majesty's Royal Navy. The H.M.S. Warrior, and the H.M.S. Victory. Both are just beyond impressive. I just wanted to run around on the decks for hours yelling "Batten down the mizzen mast!, Hoist that Dog from the Yardarm! YAAARRR!".

Most people don't come back from the U.K. talking about the food, but I will. MMmmmmmm. Guy food. Since we spent a good chunk of time tasting quality Ales at pubs, we also partook in some great pub food. Bangers and Mash, Toad in the Hole, Sticky Toffee Pudding, and who can resist the traditional English Breakfast - Meat, meat, potatoes, meat, oh yeah, and a fried egg. Damn tasty!

I look forward to our next trip.

Summer Slump

Saturday July 1st 2006
Not much going on right now. Just the usual work, eat, sleep routine. Something I really need to break out of. Need to get out and do some travel other than our regular summer trips to the Cabin. We did take a drive down to Rochester, MN and went on a 3 hour bike ride down there. That was a good time. I needed a good bike ride since I've lapsed on my exercise a bit. I have not been out on my blades in over two weeks, bad Newman!

At CodeWeavers we recently started to get World of Warcraft running on Linux. So natually we all got accounts and started playing. This may or may not prove to be a good idea. Time will tell. In the meantime I am having a good time getting sucked back into an MMORPG. I have not played one since my days of Ultima Online back in 1998 or so. I've created two characters on the Aerie Peak server if you want to look for me. A Dwarf hunter called "Splortch" and a Dark Elf hunter called "Dracowulf". I'll try to get some screenshots up sometime.

Oh, and you haven't done so already, check out the demo for Prey. It's really f'd up in a good way. I played through the demo about 4 times already. Twice on my PC, and once on the 360. I even installed the demo in Linux using CrossOver and it worked perfectly. Though, if you get even a little bit motion sick playing FPS games this one will really churn your guts. I've never had that problem. A big thumbs up from me. Now I just need to decide if I'd rather play it on the PC or the 360. I'm leaning twords PC.

Enjoy the summer, and like me, try to get out of basement a bit. Mmmmkay?.

Camping, Newman does not Camp! Does he?

Monday May 22nd 2006
I went on a weekend car camping trip with my brother in-law Eric, and his good friend Matt. We stayed at a small campsite just north of Two Harbors, MN. About an hour or so north of Duluth. The goal was to simply get away for the weekend and possibly get some good photos. It was a great time. We actualy had some good weather save for the few hours of rain on Saturday morning. MMmmmm bacon log! πŸ˜€

PC Hardware Weekend

Monday May 15th 2006
It was a PC hardware weekend. After a week of drooling over the next generation of console hardware at e3, it seems ironic that I would spend the weekend upgrading and rebuilding my older PCs.

First task: Upgrade Sonic. The website should be more responsive now. I notice the biggest speed difference on the GameDB with entries that have more the one large screenshot. Since the shots are dynaically resized that takes some CPU horsepower.

Second Task: I planned on simply upgrading the hard drive in Clank. I wanted to copy over the data on the fat32 partion of the 2.5 gig HDD over to a newer 30 gig HDD. But the bios would not see a drive bigger than 8 gig. I found what I thought was a compatible bios update. The version number matched what was imprinted on the mainboard. It did not take. In fact it ended up "bricking" the motherboard. It no longer would even boot. Doh! So since I have the leftover P3 from Sonic, I used that and re-installed Win98se from scratch on the 30 gig HDD. I copied over the save games from the old HDD. I then spent the rest of the weekend re-installing games. The upside is that Clank now runs more games than it did before. The older DOS games that freak out due to the speed of the P3 are now run on Garfield through DOSbox instead. I mainly want Clank for older Win9x era games that are 3dfx only titles and pre DirectX 8.

The reason it takes me so dang long to reinstall games is that I have to tweak and test each one after installing them. I usually will play through the first level to make sure they are running fine. It helps that I keep an archive of all the old game patches on Sonic as some are getting hard to find these days. I also keep a collection of all my old save game files. I have learned far too often when upgrading not to keep the save games.

e3 thoughts

Saturday May 13th 2006
Another e3 came and went and once again I did not get to go. Someday I will.

It is official. The name of the Revolution is the Wii. It was the highlight of this years e3 by a long shot. I think Nintendo has the right idea. The wii-mote, the revolutionary controller for the Wii, will usher in a new era of gaming. I disagree with the big N on HD graphics however. The Wii will only support a maximum of 480p. A far cry from the 1080i I can get now on the 360. At least it is widescreen. For the record, I am genuinely excited to try out the Wii (all puns aside).

Ahh the PS3. Wow, how the mighty have fallen. During last years e3 I was looking forward to the latest powerhouse from Sony. No longer. It just does not offer anything over the 360 from my point of view. The only thing it has going for it are the 1st party games from Sony and other exclusive titles you cannot get anywhere else. And the PRICE, holy schnikees Batman! $499 for the stripped down model, and $599 for the REAL model. For that price you can get both the 360 and the Wii. I think Sony for the fist time since the PS1 launch has an uphill battle. I am not rooting for them this time around. The Wii is my master now. Don't even get me started on how crappy it is of them to be half-assed and slap some motion detecting into the old PS2 gamepad to look current. That and they dropped force feedback, big mistake.

Sin Episodes: Emergence was released this week. It is available on Steam as a download only. The plan is they will release 9 chapters at each only 20 bucks. Episodic gaming, I guess we will see how this idea of game distribution turns out. I do like the idea of cheaper games. It just depends on how much game play I can get out of each episode. So far I like it.

Weight Loss, Before and After

Tuesday May 2nd 2006
Not much going on. It is so nice for spring to finally be here at least. I've been ramping back up on the diet and exercize plan. I've lost about 15 lbs in the last month or so. I finally accomplished one of my longstanding goals: to rollerblade from my house all the way around lake Calhoun and back. Following the Grand Rounds trails it took me about 3 hours to do this. 1 1/2 hour each way. Got a nice blister on my foot by the end of it, but it was well worth it. Though I didn't plan ahead and bring some water with me. I had assumed the city would have the drinking fountains on by now. Think again! So called up my good friend Jen and had her bring me a buck so I could buy a bottle of water at the park.

before after

Here is a Before/After picture of my weight loss progress. I'm not done yet. But I am pretty proud of what I have accomplished up to this point. The before was taken in 2003 during our trip to San Francisco. I weighed in at close to 290 at that point. In the after picture, I weigh in at 205. The secret: diet and exercize.

Karen spend the last week and two weekends down in Florida helping her Great Aunt move to MN. This left me home alone to bachelor it. My luck that it pretty much rained the entire time. Gave me plenty of time to play on the Xbox 360 at any rate. I had a deal through GameSpy to get a free month of GameFly rentals so I used that to rent King Kong. Played that from beginning to end in a few days. The rest of the time I spent playing Burnout online with some pretty cool people I met online. Heya Spartan! πŸ˜‰

Wiiiiiiiiiii! Nintendo decided to name the next-get console coming this fall the Wii. Uhhh, OK. Up to this point every had been referring it by the development codename Revolution. Most of us gamers felt that was a perfectly fine name and the big N should keep it as the final. There is speculation going around the net that this is a big ruse and the real name will be released at E3. Guess we will just have to wait and see.

I am starting to think this website needs a new face. That randomized picture you see of me in the corner is about 8 years old. Not that my face has changed all that much since then. I simply am no longer a fan of this design. It was always ment to be cheesy. I think I just need a different level of cheese. We will see what the next few weeks bring me in the shape of ideas.

Catching Up

Tuesday March 28th 2006
This year is shaping up to be the year of catching up. Catching up on bills, weight loss, old movies, and games. We currently don't have plans for much travel or big additions to our home. The current plan is to Just take it easy and play catch-up on all the tasks we started already.

For example, when it comes to games, I have a bad habit of buying a game and not finishing it. Usually because something "newer and shinier" came along. I have shelves full of unbeaten games. PC games are the worst for me. I'll start a game, then because of a system crash, hardware upgrade, or whatnot I'll loose the save game. I rarely feel like starting a game over from scratch once a save game is lost.

To start a new trend, I finally took up Zelda: Wind Waker after a 3 year hiatus. I know this because the last save game on the memory card was dated 2003. Ooops! I spent the last few weekends picking up where I left off and finishing the game. Just last night while waiting for Karen to come home I beat the game. Small goal, but accomplishing any goals you set for yourself, even small ones, are good thing.

It's been slow for any new game releases that jump out at me. Something I am actually quite happy about for a change. The only game I picked up this month was for the 360: Burnout Revenge. So far I like it. It is funny how much I did look forward to HD games. Now that they are here, they feel like the way games are supposed to be. The impact has not been as dramatic as the jump from the SNES to the Nintendo 64. I don't think we will ever see a dramatic jump like that ever again. At least not until we can jack ourselves into the Matrix.

On the 360 I have been spending time making new friends via Xbox live. There is just something inherently cool about chatting with other gamers with the headset while playing online. Two weeks ago I took a sick day *ahem* and spent the day playing Burnout Revenge online. I met a varied group of gamers. Everyone from the hyper-active 13 year olds, to the 50 year old grandma gamer. It was an amazing experience and makes the world feel just the slightest bit smaller. Now, If I could just avoid the "headset hair dent". πŸ˜€

Clatto Verata Nicto.

Enter the Xbox 360

Monday January 23rd 2006
Finally got my 360. I was all set to wait it out. I was going to sit on my hands until one of the local Best Buys had it in stock. In a moment of weakness and upon sighting a good deal on eBay, I clicked the "Buy it Now" button. Granted it still cost me around 100 bucks more not including shipping.

This does bring back memories of the PS2 launch back in 2001. I ended up getting the PS2 on eBay as well. DΓ©jΓ  Vu.

My initial impressions are a solid level of jubilation and satisfaction. I cannot express how impressive it is to manipulate the wireless joystick. There has been uncountable times where I have been reaching ultimate gaming bliss and then someone (not naming names) trips over my controller wire, ending said bliss with the death of my avatar. That, thankfully, is a thing of the past. Also worth mentioning is Xbox Live. Now, that is not new, but it is certainly improved. The ability to stream in demos and trailers is a feat that I have previously enjoyed as a PC gamer, never before on a console. In a word. Nice!

I picked up two games to go with the system:

At first I will be spending more time just experimenting and checking out demos. Once the dust has settled, I'll get into the above games more thoroughly. I will say that the Xbox arcade has the possibility of sucking up some hours with its promise of retro-goodness. I checked out Geometry Wars and I can say it is a unique mish-mash of old-school with modern eye candy. In my short play time with it I've managed to pass 100,000 points. Still, no where near the best scores of 12 million that I keep hearing about.

A few complaints while I am here. White! Why in the name of Zeus does everything have to be iPod white these days. The 360 sticks out of my entertainment center like a sore thumb. At least the faceplate can be changed. I'll try to keep my eyes open for a black faceplate. My opinion will always be that tech gadgets look better in black. I just hope this thing won't turn yellowish in 10 years like my old Apple IIc has. Lastly, Microsoft please update the dashboard so I can queue downloads and possibly do other things while downloading.

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