Monday, December 12, 2005

Die Tookie Die

Yep. I said it. I hope it hurts Stanley "Tookie" Williams. I also hope the absolute worst will on Jamie Foxx for defending this murderer and dreg of humanity.

At 12:01 a.m. Tuesday, Williams, 51, co-founder of the Crips and convicted quadruple murderer, is scheduled to become California's 12th inmate executed since the state reinstated capital punishment 27 years ago.

Sunday night, the state Supreme Court unanimously refused to block the execution. At the same time it ruled that a petition to reopen the defense case lacked merit.

In March 1981, a Los Angeles County jury convicted Williams in four shotgun murders: Albert Owens, 26, who was found on the floor of a 7-Eleven, and Tsai-Shai Yang, 63, her husband, Yen-I Yang, 76, and their daughter, Yee-Chen Lin, 43, who were killed during the robbery of their family-owned motel days later in 1979.

Now he dies. That is justice.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Toshiba A85-S107 Laptop Review

After my old buddy "Dexter" an aging IBM Thinkpad 600 (266Mhz, 768MB RAM, CD, Floppy) finally bit the dust... partly due to a slightly misplaced cup of tea, and partly due to age I'm sure, I had decided to go Lappy-less for a year or so. But the inner geek in me strived for a new shiny laptop to use as a second PC at home and play a game or two on the lunch break at work. I originally bought Dexter as an off-lease three-year-old used Laptop and have never bought one new mainly due to cost. But after having to upgrade the RAM, not being able to play DVD's, and having it come with a dead battery ($100+) I realized that the used laptop market wasn;t that great of a bargain all things considered.

Enter a Best Buy "Back to School" ad which showcased the Toshiba A85-S107 Intel Celeron M 1.4Ghz, 256MB RAM, 40GB HDD, and CDRW/DVD drive for $499.99 after a $300 MIR. I was ready to bite. However Best Buy soon revealed it was as close to a bait and switch tactic as legally allowable due to the fact that they had only received 8 total laptops for the entire two-week sale and were instructed to upsell as hard as possible to the next Toshiba model. This pissed me off and I gave up on owning a new lappy. Then I saw that CompUSA was offering the same deal and actually had a bunch in stock a few days later. So I bit.

I came away reasonably happy from the purchase, except for the pre-loaded garbage software that is so overbloated it is sickening and that the 32MB shared Video RAM on top of the bloat leaves a whopping 19MB RAM available for programs. This is unacceptable, WinXP and 32MB taken for VRAM no where near accounts for 256MB of RAM. Pathetic. But in a wonderful moment of revenge I found a coupon for $90 off memory and installation at Best Buy, they also happened to have 512MB Notebook RAM on sale for $59.99 (Install is $29.99)... so after a bit of arguing I walked away paying NOTHING! Heh.

The battery life is pretty dismal (1-1.5 hours) but other than that and the need to upgrade the RAM immediately it is a nice laptop. I miss my touchpoint nub, but an external usb optical mouse fills in nicely and is actually better.

Overall an 80/100.

Harry Potter - Half-Blood Prince

Amazing! That was my initial reaction and still is some 3/4 through the latest offering from J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter Series. This is no childrens book for sure, maybe for the original teens who have "grown-up" with the series, but this is one dark and mature read. What I find myself thinking through this one is if only all of the series had been written as this one, just how much better they could have been. Not to say the series has been poor, just that for an adult such as myself the syle of this book brings all the elements together quite nicely and makes for one of the most hard-to-put-down Potter books yet.

Dark, tough, gritty, and even some risque content set this one apart. I would question the intended age of the reader for this one, but highly reccomend it. This is one series I don't want to see come to an end, J.K. seems to finally be hitting her stride as a writer... it is just a shame it came so late in the series.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Buying a Game Cube

Having covered PS1 and PS2 titles for the past 8 years has kept me pretty tied to Sony except for my trusty GBA which gets use every now and then. I have come to realize I am starting to crave something new and different, and it would be nice to have a console that my girlfriend and I can play as equals (or as close as can be when she is not a hardcore gamer). I packed up about 7 of my crappier PS2 titles and decided to trade them in on a GC. $6.00 later I was the proud owner of a Black GC, can't beat that.

I picked up an extra controller/memory card/cable extensions/game case package, Mario Party 5, Mario Sunshine, Puyo Pop Fever, and Starfox Adventures. So I spent about $80 total for the system, extras, and games.

Mario Party 5 was the first to get some action and it was a fun time, I was a bit lucky and still trounced her but it was as competitive, even, and fun a non-gamer and a hardcore gamer can have together. (A funny aside: I let her use the "Turbo" function on her controller and I still beat it by a mile when it came to button mash mini-games. Heh, years of practice pay off I guess.) We laughed, had fun, and were able to actually enjoy a game together... which never happens on the PS2. Puyo Pop is next...

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Quick Review: Batman Begins

One thumb sideways. That sums it up. After the glowing reviews, even from Batman fanboy's like Kevin Smith and talks of how "dark" it was, I was really expecting to be blown away. I'm not a summer movie-go'er but this one managed to hook me. Typical summer fare, cheesy lines, lack of depth, and flash over substance abound. Jumpy, fast filmed action sequences that obscure all of the action even manage to marr the fight scenes. Katie Holmes... ugh, acting isn't her strong suit, they could have at least had her in revealing outfits/poses to make her worth something (high-beams at the end of the movie for 2 seconds are about it). A jumpy storyline that suffers from pacing issues tops it all off. Typical summer effects and action keep it from being a total yawn-fest and are as predictable as they come but manage to be one of the only aspects that kept the thumb sideways and not totally down. Even rediculous main plot points like the microwave emitter that vaporizes all water manages to only hit main water lines but leaves the human operators (98% water) perfectly fine a few inches from it are glaring eye-rollers. Keep moving folks, nothing to see here.

Eminent Domain, We want a mall... get out!

With the recent ruling allowing the seizure of your private property for basically any reason whatsoever, it is time to start to stand up. Here is a quick article to bring you up to speed: http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/opinion/editorial/sfl-editeminent,0,3381996.story?coll=sfla-news-editorial

The saddest part are some of the hidden catches (when aren't there any?). People who are forced out of their homes for a shopping mall or condo already are losing out, but now it gets even worse. The payment for the property is not set by any market guidlines, so in certain situations the amount paid could be less than what is owed on the mortgage! It doesn't stop there though, the entire payment is then TAXED as a lump sum payment which is a very high tax percentage... so you get even less and the government pays itself! This is very sad and not what America is about in the least, however it is becoming more and more the reality every day.

I heard from a man who has his art gallery in his home in a small town here in Pennsylvania. He had spent his entire life savings to buy a beautiful large victorian home on main street and turn it into his gallery as well as his home. Since this ruling there are already plans to claim his home and surrounding businesses and homes "blighted" and have a large hotel built. This area is a fully restored victorian mainstreet, hardly blighted, and has almost no use for a hotel in the middle of it. He loses out twice in the matter, losing his home and his business in one go... their response? He can live in one of the suites in lieu of being payed, how generous.

This has to stop, and people need to stand up to this before it gets even more out of hand.

Next-Gen Consoles Not So Next-Gen

I have been commenting a lot all over the internet about the downfalls of the "next-gen" game consoles. One is the massive development costs, which will cause the Game industry to become a Movie industry clone (consolidation and buyouts until only a handful of developers exist, which is already happening en masse). The other is the long development cycles, which means less games over the life of the system. Also I have been stating a lot of developers are unhappy with the new system specs, and having done development work myself neither look very promising to me either. Well, today http://www.anandtech.com/video/showdoc.aspx?i=2461 Anandtech has posted a hard-hitting article showing the poor performance of these "uber" CPU's.

It turns out all of my thoughts were pretty much spot-on. Plus, Gamespot http://www.gamespot.com/news/2005/06/28/news_6128306.html has a great interview with a number of key developers further proving my thoughts and fears. My only hope now is for a Revolution... quite literally.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Fed Up With The Times

Today I've officially become enraged at The New York Times, the amount of damage they are causing the U.S. and its soldiers is criminal. Constant dug up (barely verified) stories of U.S. "atrocities"to further their political agenda is becoming their only "news."

Today a story about: Afghan men beaten before deaths in US custody tries to place more blame on U.S. soldiers and show the U.S. in an unfavorable light. Stories of flushed korans, and the "horrible" underwear on the head "torture" are all poor attempts to undermine the war and our country. I can't believe something cannot be done about this, free-speech or not, this is becoming out of control now. If I were in the military I would make my primary target the Times office, and feel very saddened that all of my efforts and fighting is to protect scum like the Times and allow them to keep writing things that lower my chance of survival even more in a time of war.

I will never purchase a New York Times again in my life, and would hope others do the same.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Quick Review: Tom Waits - Real Gone

Music Quick Review: Tom Waits - "Real Gone"

This is a bit of an older release now but is the latest from Tom Waits, for those who are unfortunate to not know Tom's work I am very sorry and you should check him out if you are a true music afficionado. Think Bob Dylan, raspy smoke a pack of no-filter Camels and wash it down with a fifth of whisky voice, excellent lyrics, drink yourself to death, down on your luck, old-school bluesy kick-ass tunes. His latest release "Real Gone" is a departure from the piano and guitar and moves into a world of samples, light guitar riffs, Tom's take on the beat-box, and a mechanical feel. Simply amazing groundbreaking work from a guy who never quits and never stops innovating. You'll hate it the first few listens then it will become your favorite CD.

Quick Review: Guild Wars

OK this is the first quick review, instead of the tired cliche's and long winded attempts at humor in every game review the quick review will be just that.

Guild Wars - PC

Guild Wars is probably the freshest online PC game idea in years. An online RPG that is Diablo-like minus the level grinding and no monthly fee's. The world is not totally persistant but common areas are so the bad guy you need to slay and the world is created for you and your party alone, and the parties of hundreds of others. There is excellent PvP action and the RPG storyline and PvE aspects are engaging and well executed. Levels cap at 20 so time spent is not equal to having the best character or items, skill is the name of the game. The game is great, a lack of documentation about certain aspects of items is troubling, but overall you will be very happy if Diablo or the current state of MMORPG's has you looking for a fresh face in the game.

Good:
No monthly fees
Story
Character Development
Level Caps
Variation of enemies and missions
Ease of play
Chess-like skill required
Constant updates and play fixes

Bad:
Map Travel (quick but still can be painful)
Lack of direction at times
Lack of Item/weapon/armor information
Constant updates and play fixes (nothing like wasting time on getting an item and an update makes it common)

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Handcuffed 5 Year Old Girl

I'm sure you've heard about it by now, for those who didn't: a 5 year old who was totally out of control in school was sent to the office where she proceded to rip things off the walls throw things and trying to strike the assistant principle. The mother could not be reached so the police were finally called, upon arrival they handcuffed the girl and placed her in the cruiser. This was all taped by the school.

Now there are some claiming the obligatory racial descrimitaion. Others claiming the proper action was taken, and a number of other stances. The police were in a losing situation no matter what, if they grab her and leave a bruise they get sued, if they do nothing they are scrutinized as well. All that needed was to place the girl in an unused classroom or room without items to destroy and leave her there until a parent could be reached with supervision but no contact. What were the police going to do? arrest a child?

I think there was poor judgement by the school the whole time, and also not the best response by the police, but there is no racial element in my eyes. In fact the parent should be held accountable for the damage done and suspension/removal of the child to a facility that can better handle her needs and counseling for the child and parent as there are apparent issues.

What's your take?