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Malik (1/25/10)

I am not sure if I can even remember the last time both number one seeds made the Super Bowl. It wasn't exactly a surprise that the Colts are going back to another Super Bowl, since the Jets are not exactly showing off the best of what the AFC has to offer. However, the Saints beating the Vikings never felt too assured. Both teams are powerful offenses with some solid defense. So, when Favre blew it at the end of regulation, it still didn't feel certain what was going to happen.

On the bright side, with the Pro Bowl being next weekend, instead of the weekend following the Super Bowl, I can remain in the football vibe for two more weeks. Since the regular season was so tragic for myself (and any other Seahawk fans), it's nice to have a chance to enjoy what I've been missing; a good game with no real feeling of shame attached.

I'm still trying to play through Dragon Age Origins, but things have been slow. On one hand, I still find it hard to feel motivated to play the game, even if it's quite easy to keep playing for too long once I've loaded up the program. On the other hand, I've been too damned busy.

I did get through the bulk (maybe the entirety) of the deluxe edition included DLC (Warden's Keep and The Stone Prisoner) this weekend. I must say that even though I'm not a fan of the DLC system Bioware used for DAO, these are two fun little modules to play. I mean there's great humor in The Stone Prisoner, and a few fun choices with some great battles in Warden's Keep. It's almost enough to tempt me with other DLC that Bioware may release (and the Return to Ostagar stuff...assuming it's been released and doesn't also fall into future release territory). Of course, for now I still have the bulk of the actual game to play through.


Malik (1/27/10)

After playing Dragon Age Origins for about three hours last night, I just have to say that I'm sick of it. Not the game. I'm warming up to the game, and DAO Awakening is sounding pretty cool about now. I mean I'm sick of the problem that too many PC games have had in the last decade or so; the memory leak.

Actually, this is not a PC game issue. It's a PC issue in more apps than just ones meant for entertainment. I mean if I leave Internet Explorer open on gmail for more than a few hours, I can just see my PC have some issues with the memory leak of this software/web site combination. It's also not like my PC is not running with a hefty enough supply of RAM. It's just faulty programming...and the fact that programming is becoming too complex for all the lines of code to live happily together. A simple conflict leads to a crash, which then gets fixed before release or a patch after release. However, these leaks are usually missed by the average testing phase of software development and are usually too bitchy to ever be patched. I mean the solution that exists, in most cases, is sufficient enough for a developer; just tell people to take a break and shut down the software from time to time.

When a game gets addictive, like DAO can become, then it can be a hassle for fans of said game. For example, last night I just finished an annoying boss fight. It was long, and way more drawn out than I'd prefer. So, when it was done, I exited the dungeon I was in with the goal of returning to a merchant and selling my loot before saving. That was my mistake. I exited to the map, selected an area that would be safe to journey to and the game started to load the next area. This is when the game failed, due to my memory being depleted, and I was left with fighting the same damned boss fight again after having to reboot my PC.

Anyway, it's not like this is a problem that will go away anytime soon. In fact, as programs get more advanced with each passing day, the problem just gets more prolific. The only real solution is to simply save often (rule number one of all RPGs) and restart the program from time to time knowing that failure can lead to a memory leak related crash or failure.


Malik (1/28/10)

I was, at one time, a hater of Apple. Why? Mainly because I like gaming, and once the Mac age was upon us, Apple stopped making a computer for those who wanted to play every good game to come to the PC. This changed over time, to some extent, as Apple allowed the installation of Windows in a shell style. However, it still didn't work perfectly and it still didn't justify spending more money for a, typically, weaker PC than what you could get building a PC from parts.

Some of this opinion of Apple changed with time. I got a couple of MP3 players before I picked up a first generation iPod. I had a couple of other players and ended up with the iPod because these other ones were usually crap. Either they would just break, or they would not be user friendly (needing new batteries every day instead of having a built in rechargeable battery). The iPod was awesome, beyond my 1st generation one eventually getting a HDD failure. Now I have an old iPod Video that has lasted me for the last few years. It's showing some signs of abuse, but that's to be expected when I do abuse the poor thing. Still, it works and works quite well.

My Apple opinion is good enough that I want an iPhone. I really do. Android phones fail in comparison when you see the lack of apps and the lack of internal memory to store these apps. Yes, a replaceable battery and additional storage would be nice, but the iPhone does what it needs to do. The only reason I don't have one is due to my hatred of AT&T (which, in another story, is a well founded hatred dealing with past dealings with their shitty service). If the iPhone came to T-Mobile (my cell provider, who has never done me wrong in the last 6 or so years), I'd be all over it in an instant.

I say all of this to explain where I'm at when I make an observation...yes...I'm talking about the sadly named "iPad".

As a kid, I loved Star Trek The Next Generation. One of my favorite parts of the show was the advanced technology shown ahead of its time (like how Star Trek, the original, had the precursor to the flip phone and the Nextel style walky talky). The best, in my eyes as a child, was the table touch screen computers the crew of the Enterprise would use. They were so cool. I mean with a little flat piece of technology, you could read a book, check the computer network for a file, see images and videos, play audio communication files, and do just about anything else a ST:TNG writer could think of. It was "the future". I bet they could even play games, but who'd want that when you have the holodeck?

I always thought the release was botched when the Origami came along. I mean Microsoft was not a master of making a buzz worthy novel piece of hardware appealing to the market. Plus, Microsoft wasn't sitting well in the PR department with things like Windows ME and Vista both on the minds of the average tech buyer. Add in a $1000 price tag and you just have a failure in the making. Hence, it failed.

Apple, with it's legions of fans (both logical types and those who will blindly leap to their doom if the almighty Steve Jobs commanded it) and a great PR team could make that idea work. Plus, with having an existing track record of touch screen application, it only looks better. I mean an iPad would be so awesome.

At least it would look cool before it was announced formally. That's when some weird things became apparent. I mean you have limited memory (16, 32, or 64GB is not much in a tablet when an iPhone can have 32GB in a much smaller package). That's not cool. You also have a poorly chosen OS. Who needs the iPhone OS on something big enough to have a (possibly stripped down) version of the Mac OS? Doesn't a full OS make more sense? Then you can also use digital distribution to add things like alternate web browsers (maybe one with Flash), games not found on the Apple App Store, better productivity software, and a plethora of other great programs. Also, there's no video out, which should be too hard to add, to make this thing fully functional for productivity (like hooking it to a projector to run a business presentation).

However, the main thing I just don't understand goes back to the tablets on ST:TNG; the size. Yes, a 9+ inch display is sweet. However, with such a large screen, you have one obvious (except to Apple) problem; this thing is not portable. If you want to beat out alternatives like netbooks, or even the iPhone, then it should be very portable while being more functional than an iPhone. In other words, take the best of both worlds with functionality of a netbook and portability closer to a phone. Instead, you have something too big to fit in a pocket or even a purse. It takes a small tote bag or briefcase to easily travel with, but this is just like a netbook. Plus, that netbook will offer more memory and more functionality...for a small price.

When it comes down to it, a netbook (like the Dell Inspiron line) is tiny for a PC. However, the iPad is freaking huge for an iPhone without the phone feature, or a Kindle style book reader.

The only part of my issues with the iPad that I can understand is the app store and iPhone OS idea. This allows Apple to be fed by it's customers. If you want something, then the iPad needs to get it from Apple. Apple has the control and an iPad owner will pay them for this control. From a business perspective, this is very smart.

I would love to see this idea accepted by Apple worshippers. I say this since the world, as of late, follows Apple. The iPod cracked open the MP3 player world to a larger audience. The iPhone made smart phones look good to people who didn't like the Blackberry or Palm alternatives. The iPhone helped to push touch screens in to a wider market. Apple does something and it will usually succeed...and then the world follows Apple's lead, but offers new twists. So, I want the iPad to do great so someone else can try to compete with a better idea...the idea of a touch screen tablet that has Linux or even a Windows OS, has more memory, and is actually portable enough to be something you'd feel good to bring around town with you.

In other words, I want someone to make the natural bridge between the iPhone and the netbook. So, if the iPad does well, maybe this will be the next step, and it could become reality in just a year or two...unless the follower companies instead imitate how Android followed the iPhone and make something that just doesn't do shit in comparison.

Also, I still wouldn't mind the iPhone on other cell providers. Apple, I do want to give you some money, and that's all it would take to get my money. Just put the iPhone out there in an unlocked format. Hell, T-Mobile and AT&T have fairly compatible of networks...the porting job would be a damned easy one.


Malik (1/29/10)

Another week of Rock Band DLC that is going country is upon us. I can understand Harmonix wanting to release this stuff (I can't even complain since I do enjoy Willie Nelson, despite not being a country fan), but it would be a bit cooler if they gave something else in addition for those of us who don't dig the country sound. Better yet, something else can be included to not make Harmonix look too lazy since these are NOT new songs. I mean this is all old hat if you bought the Country Track Pack disk.

Anyway, I haven't found a reason to play RB since I became full on obsessed with Dragon Age Origins. I may have started off with some unfavorable views of the game, but I am fully hooked. The only thing that can take away from my enjoyment is the occasional crash. The worst crash, of the three I've had, was the one that hit me near the end of the Redcliff battle. I'll try to avoid most of the spoilers, but I'll just say I had one foe left and no NPCs had died...and then...crash. My next time through, after a long reboot and all that fun stuff, was sloppy and hurried. So much for a perfect battle.

I will, however, take a little time to get away from DAO this weekend. Considering the NFL Pro Bowl is before the Super Bowl for the first time, I figure it might be worth checking out this year. Maybe it will be a real game and not just the equivalent of a time share presentations forced on the players who are trying to enjoy their free tropical vacation. At least that is my hope. If it doesn't pan out, then I still have DAO waiting.

My favorite part, however, of this pre-Super Bowl Pro Bowl exercise is how hollow it feels. Yes, it's the top players...if you forget about the few Pro Bowl players who will be in the Super Bowl (allowing them to skip the Pro Bowl). I mean it's only 7 starters from each team. That's not much. That's not even one half of each team. Yes, I'm being sarcastic. It's not like the Pro Bowl means anything, since it doesn't effect home field advantage (like the MLB All Star game), nor does it create an awesome international game experience (like in MLS). However, it would be nice to at least have either a purpose or less than 14 total players absent.


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