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Malik (6/29/09)

In terms of sports, this was a good weekend for me. The Mariners won two in a row against the Dodgers...the number one team in MLB right now. It wasn't just two wins that barely was two solid victories with some skill and quality playing. It was a good enough two games to forget about the horror that was the Friday night game.

Then you have the Sounders putting up one of their greatest games ever. I mean 3-0 is a good enough result, but there was also a lot of action and control by Seattle. I know a few people who went to the game making it their first ever Sounders, or even MLS, game. I definitely think this was the game to be the right introduction to soccer on a level beyond the pee-wee level.

To round it out, the Confederations Cup final between Brazil and the US was a damned good game. I mean the US played a really good half of soccer...and that's the second half when they lost the game. The first half, when the US scored two and kept Brazil out of action was beyond good. It was beyond words...they played some of the best soccer I have ever seen. The US not only controlled the first half on their own terms...they played like they had some abilities in the force. The ball went where it was needed every time without any of the usual US sloppiness coming through. Plus, for the US to reach their first FIFA level championship game and to still be up 2-0 at the half is more than a US soccer fan could ask for. Plus, the goals Brazil made in the second half were understandable since they were just too damned good to be blocked.

At least non-technological things were awesome this weekend. On the technology front, it seemed more like the weekend was trying to end with a force to remind one to enjoy the good and not expect too much. My roommate only had to say "My 360..." for me to know that there were red rings of doom in my home. At least my 360 is still alive, but with seeing two friends get RRoD in the last month I'm afraid to turn my system on.

Then either Comcast or HBO f$#@ed up the HBO high definition channel at the perfectly bad time. Velveta, my roommate, and I all were dying to watch True Blood last night. We get about ten minutes in on the DVR recording and the digital signal gets scrambled. This was ten minutes of pure excitement and hype that fell apart into a mess of no audio and scrambled video. The SD HBO channel was working fine, but by then it was too late to just flip channels since we started to watch on the DVR about thirty minutes into the show.

At least nature and the natural world is being good good to me right now...


Malik (6/30/09)

I did finally see True Blood last night. Luckily, as with any cable show, it is repeated about a dozen times each week. However, after speaking to one of my friends who lives in a strange place in Seattle (Seattle is a Comcast town, but a few pockets have some other provider with some obscure name which cannot produce even the Comcast level of incompetence), I now know it was Comcast who f#@$ed up my first attempt to see True Blood this week. The other cable provider had no problem...just leads me back to reinforcing my hatred of Comcast and all they do (or fail to do).

So, I just want to tell Comcast thank you. It takes a company like yours to make a simple show completely unwatchable. You really are an inspiration to those who live by the "why do something right when I can half-ass it?" way of life.

Anyway, I have little else to say beyond this fact (that Comcast is only in my house because I have no other choice for cable and not because they are actually providing a quality service). I am hoping to talk a bit about any new Rock Band songs tomorrow, but that may get delayed. For once it's not because I'm's because I'm going to see the one and only Dick Dale perform tonight. With a man this influential to music and still rocking after being at it since the 1950's, I cannot turn up such an opportunity.


Malik (7/1/09)

Last night I had no time for Rock Band DLC.  Sadly, I cannot find any charts online of the Foreigner songs, so I'm in limbo as of now on what I'll buy...if anything.  The songs not from Foreigner all left me feeling a bit let down, so these will not be finding their way onto my HDD any time soon.

Speaking of plastic guitars...I'm not feeling it right now anyways.  After seeing Dick Dale perform live last night, I think a plastic guitar is the last thing I want in my free time...especially when a real guitar is so much more awesome.  I'm not turning into one of those "play a real instrument" types.  I just saw too much of how awesome the real thing can be.  I mean I am a fan of music of most types.  I have seen enough concerts for my life so far, but am always seeing more when I can.  However, something was different after last night.

While most artists tend to either be good or have a good time, which both mean a solid concert.  Dick Dale was having more fun that I've seen a performer ever have live, and he was better than any guitarist I've ever seen and probably ever will see.  If someone has spent more than fifty years with their tool, they are bound to become masters.  Well, Dick Dale owns the guitar.  I mean he is more in line to being one with his instrument than I would have thought possible.  That's not saying he is only a guitarist.  He rocked the drums, played some awesomely twisted bass (sometimes with drum sticks...still having a "WTF did I just see?" feeling from that), wailed away on the trumpet, and can sing like a master.  All this time, he's also doing stuff on the fly just because he feels like doing it.  Throw in some good comedic observations and opinions and you have one hell of a show.

So, when I say I'd rather have a real guitar in my hands right now rather than a plastic instrument, that is what I mean.  I was too inspired and blown away to want to do any imitation.  I just want to strive to be a touch better.  Hell, I want to be that good, but I'll settle for smaller steps right now.

On a final note before I turn my amp up to 11, I just wanted to say something about the 360 RRoD.

Two of my friends have had these in the last month.  The first one belonged to a friend who had already felt the RRoD sting a couple years before.  Luckily, he got a coffin and sent his 360 off to a better place in exchange for a nice working machine.  My other friend ended up being about a month out of warranty.  Well, he is now in the one position Microsoft should not want.  He doesn't want to spend money on an overcharged repair process for a obviously inferior product (the games are fun, but the 360 is not exactly rocking the quality of construction side of things).  So, he is not in the world of being happy with just PC gaming and other non-gaming diversions.

When Microsoft wants to extend the life of the 360 longer, as they stated when they announced Natal at E3, there is a problem.  This is a system with an obvious "sell by" expiration date on it.  The RRoD is not a tricky problem to solve (typically caused by a faulty bracket connecting the heat sink to the CPU and GPU), and it keeps coming up.  It's a problem that will not end anytime soon since old systems, which are ticking time bombs, are always going to be out there.  I think it's time, if the next XBox is going to be three or more years away, for Microsoft to prove why burnt customers should remain loyal while other options remain.  Yes, you would want to keep any library of games for the 360 you have running and keeping you entertained, but you cannot always find the money to jump through this hoop when the world is in a financial crisis.  I think Microsoft would be in a good position, right now, if they did one simple change in their practices; if the 360 is meant to last until 2012 or longer (when the next Microsoft console eventually surfaces) and if we're supposed to buy, in their concept, a very expensive motion capture system, then the 360 RRoD warranty should be infinite.  Other problems, like a faulty DVD drive (I've had one of those myself) could be excused since that's typically wear and tear.  However, the RRoD, as is common knowledge, is Microsoft's own problem in faulty design.  If they want to keep customers and not watch them either jump to the PS3 or give up console gaming for the generation, they need to just take better care of admitting their own mistakes.  The increased three year warranty for RRoD situations was a good first step...but when a console is expected to last a longer than normal generation (of eight or more years), than three years is not that much.  The three years is up for many people and it will pass for all of us who currently have a 360 before the 720 (or whatever it will be called) shall arrive.

At least that's how I see it when the console is supposed to have more than three years left to it, and the problem still remains.  As a consumer, it would make me feel more secure.  As a company, it would help Microsoft to look more sympathetic, and therefore they would look like a better option to have money thrown at.



Malik (7/2/09)

My friend with the broken XBox 360 was able to sort out his problem and get his console in the repair system for free. However, the whole situation is just confusing and astounding since it involves two live people telling him he'd have to pay, one computer telling him the repair is free, and another live person saying the free repair process had already started (with the coffin in the mail) despite my friend never actually committing to the repair. In other words, I think that Microsoft customer support is about as f#@$ed as the heat sinks on the GPU and CPU.

Anyway, on to another complaint.

I watched the Sounders game last night (for the US Open Cup) against the Portland Timbers. I will not even go into some of the stupidity (like the offside call that shouldn't have been that negated a Sounders goal). I mean the game did result in a win for Seattle and Seattle started quick to shock the Timbers with a goal in the first minute of play. Then again, the Sounders are MLS, which means the budget and talent pool are definitely more in favor of the Sounders winning a match up with a team like the Timbers.

My complaints are many, however. The main one being that we watched the game on FSN-HD. The HD channel of FSN. HD. High Definition. I say this so damned much because the cameras were all standard definition. That was bad enough as it stands, but the camera crew seems to be (as my friends and I joked about during the game) using the game last night as their final for ITT. The cameras were so bad I was actually starting to feel a bit car sick watching this SD mess on a big screen. It was literally bad enough to give me a headache. How can that type of camera work pass for anything beyond a UHF (well, in the old analogue era when UHF was a different world from VHF) news report on high school sports.

Speaking of high school sports...I've seen better soccer fields at high schools around my home area. The game was played on the cheapest Field Turf available, on top of probably a concrete slab. This means that every time the ball went airborne (which is over half the game), it proceeded to bounce a few dozen times upon landing. I was like watching people play soccer on a basketball court. It also made even the best executed of plays look like something being performed by a pee-wee team.

I know that the Timbers do play in a baseball stadium, for now, but why couldn't the game have found a real stadium to be played at? Actually, the answer to that is lame. It's because there's no where else large enough in Portland and the options in Seattle are Qwest Field (the Sounders' home field...which is too large to sell out for US Open game) or dinky stadiums that would only hold about five thousand fans.

Anyway, the Sounders did advance, so I cannot bitch and moan too much. I just hope that I'll never see such shoddy camera work on such a bad field again. Luckily, the Timbers are moving up to the MLS, in theory, in just a couple of years. Once that happens, the pure rivalry and anger between the fans will flow so damned freely. It will be sweeter than the finest of beers.


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