The Animal Farm

July 31st, 2008

Good Stuff

First off all, Dragonforce has a new album coming out next month, Ultra Beatdown.  This is excites me for two reasons.
* Ultra Beatdown is an awesome name for an album.
* The last Dragonforce CD I bought entered my car CD player at one point and did not leave it until a point several (read: more than 5) months afterwords.

Wrath of the Lich King, or WotLK, is currently in closed beta.  Blizzard also removed the NDA that existed during the alpha testing of the game.  This is good because I can read all kinds of tasty tidbits on how gameplay is going to change for my hunter, Zakarus.  It is also good because it gives some idea of a release date.  Not much, but I would estimate that sometime before my next birthday I will be installing and playing the next WoW expansion.

Morgan is going to a wedding dress shopping event called “Running of the Brides” that is essentially a huge collection of wedding dresses on some kind of bizarre sale that requires women to get in line hours before opening and make signs for which dress size they are.  From what I can gather, people run around rampantly trying to grab as many dresses as they can, without looking at them, and then later see if the dresses they grabbed even fits. In the event where a dress they grabbed does not fit, they look for signs that match the size of the dress and give it to that person. I think people can die at these events.  I hope she comes out alive.

~Zach

The one they call the vision that bears the gift.

July 23rd, 2008

Bibliophilia

I have two major vices: a love of DVDs and of bulky computer books. As a result, I’ve developed a love-hate relationship with Borders and Barnes & Noble. Mostly hate.

Purchasing computer books, especially game development specific ones, at a brick and mortar store is pretty tricky. Borders is unique in that it actually has a selection of game development books, whereas Walden Books just has a sign with a middle finger drawn on it and Barnes & Noble has a small, random assortment scattered about the computer section - sometimes hidden under Web Design. So Borders wins here, hands down, and it’s always nice to have that instant gratification of purchasing something and taking it home.

The problem with these stores - both Barnes & Noble and Borders - is that they deal in wholesale theft. They basically take the value of something and add about $20 to it. Value depreciation is a foreign notion, something uttered by peasants and drunks. As an example, I just purchased Texturing and Modeling: A Procedural Approach. A quick search on Amazon revealed I could get it for $30 less. That’s just an example I pulled from tonight, it’s certainly not the craziest.

And don’t even wander into the DVD section, because you’re lighting money on fire. I’ve gotten DVD box sets for $20 that they’re still trying to market for $60. Carnivale - sweet, blessed, Carnivale - I found at Best Buy for $50 less. $50.

Of course, they’re not as bad with mainstream books and smaller stuff, but who needs that?

As much as I like the idea of buying my tech books at a store and then wandering over to buy my new favorite show, it’s not just responsible. My support for these stores is now officially over.

I’m all in.

July 20th, 2008

Things You Need to Know

So how about that Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog, ‘eh? If you haven’t seen it by now, you’re probably confined to your bed and are not long for this world, because really that’s the only way you could’ve missed it with all the attention it’s getting online. It features Neil Patrick Harris (is that how you spell his name? I was kind of winging it) and Mal from Firefly and some lady who I’ve never heard of but who will probably consume the bulk of my dreams for a week or two. It’s a Joss Whedon thing, which typically equates to pretty awesome.

I hated Guitar Hero 3, as most of you know. I won’t go into the reasons. Yes I will. It favored irritatingly difficult chord-driven songs over rocking solos, which just made it more difficult for the sake of being more difficult. It also came out very close to Rock Band, which never gave it a sporting chance. Well, Penny Arcade linked to a bunch of videos for Guitar Hero’s new music maker, and I’m fairly impressed. It’s a reason two regulars of this blog - I won’t mention their names, but they know who they are - need to man up and purchase an XBox 360. Gears 2 and Resident Evil 5 are also reasons for that, but that’s a conversation for another time.

On a side note, I saw the original Rock Band at Best Buy for $100. Not bad.

I saw the Dark Knight the other day. You might be familiar with my impressions of Batman Begins, but I’ll summarize: rubbish, absolute drivel, where the director’s notion of an action sequence involved getting the camera real close and shaking it (like a Polaroid picture). I also didn’t like the treatment of Scarecrow, who was absolutely phenomenal in the cartoon. Dark Knight is significantly better. Still a horrible treatment of Scarecrow (was that him in that first action scene?), but I can let it go since it wasn’t a focus this time. The Joker was done very, very well. The action scenes were much cleaner, though there were still a few throw-away fist fights with the aforementioned ‘action cam.’ Batman should consider a voice box instead of making his voice sound like he’s been chain smoking since he was six, but whatever. The movie did feel like it was a tad too long, but I can forgive them since it gradually gets better and better. See it. Or not. Whatever.

Have I linked to Zero Punctuation yet? You should be watching these.

The thoroughbred of sin?

July 14th, 2008

Games

Let’s talk games for a bit, because there are exciting developments:

The entire track list for Rock Band 2 has been released. Right now, I’m looking at RB2 as a glorified song pack, but I understand that there are some enticing new features too. Nothing on that list draws great excitement, really, but the presence of Duran Duran found a special place in my heart and the absence of Freezepop crushes my heart entirely.

It was announced that Resident Evil 5 would have online co-op. Forget that RE5 looks gorgeous enough to send other “next-gen” titles running with their tails between their legs. If there was ever going to be a catalyst to get Zach and Ricky to purchase a 360, that would be it.

I’m trying to care about Fallout 3 and Final Fantasy XIII, but I can’t. Though I hear FFXIII will have a simultaneous 360 launch, which effectively settled the debate over whether I should ever purchase a PS3.

I have mixed feelings about id Tech 5. On the one hand, yea, Carmack’s great. On the other, all I’ve seen of this new technology is a car driving in a wasteland - over and over - and a few creatures hopping around.

Puzzle Quest sequel? Looks spellbinding! I stopped playing the first because the computer blatantly cheats and I started screaming obscenities on the Chicago L-Train, but maybe that won’t be the case here? Who knows.

Star Ocean sequel, but after the crime that was the last one, I’m much much more excited about the remakes hitting in September.

Zach, I can’t even imagine why you bought Guitar Hero DS.

July 9th, 2008

Big News

1) I am now engaged.  I wanted to call a lot of my friends, but I got engaged and then went on a vacation for the weekend.  I have been fairly busy this week and after calling and talking to many of my family members about it, I don’t really want to tell the story much :-p.  Also, I feel kind of awkward calling my friends up just to tell them I am engaged.  At any rate, to those I didn’t call, here you go.  Sorry I suck.

2) Morgan and I bought a car yesterday.  A 2007 Toyota Camry.  We love it.  We had planned on buying a new Prius but not only are they kind of pricy (24k range ), they also have a 4 to 6 month waiting list, depending on if you care about what color you want.

That is it for the big news.  I went from being poor at college to coming here and making decent bank to having to pay of a car, an engagement ring, and plan/save for a wedding.  This is what growing up feels like :).  I like it though, I’d rather have the money to afford nice things than not have the money at all.

FFTA2 still has no playtime, Guitar Hero DS also has seen no more playtime.  FFT is still taking all my time.  Brian’s last post really excites me though.

~Zach

July 9th, 2008
July 6th, 2008

North Carolina, Round 1

Some differences I’ve noticed between my current residence and my previous; maybe I’ve said these before:

(1)Sweet tea. My god. People drink it here like it’s going somewhere and they need to get their fix before all they have left is a postcard and fond memories. I’ve hopped on this bandwagon, because it’s kind of delicious.

(2)Vanity license plates. You can swing your head in 360 degrees and see at least one, even if there aren’t any cars around.

(3)Closing time. The concept of ‘24 hours’ is a foreign notion, something you read about but never really experience here. Even the Wal-Marts close, which I thought federal mandate prohibited. This, I feel, casts a shadow over the entire state.

(4)Storms. They’re devestating here. People actually drive the speed limit or under. Trees are knocked down every which way. Durham’s power was down a full day after a storm, with traffic lights being replaced with stop signs. Franklin St. was a disaster, with trees knocked down and people running in front of my car in the dead of night with no lights. And traffic lights were out without any replacement. That was fun, in a scary I’m-going-to-hit-someone-or-get-hit kind of way.

Everything’s impossible ’til it ain’t.

July 6th, 2008

Screwdriver

It’s time for something a bit different.

The week has been spent either (a)searching for furniture or (b)putting furniture together. As such, we won’t be having a discussion about anything Agile because I didn’t do any development (though this time my reason is a bit more legitimate). However, we will be having a discussion about my furniture construction.

Started with the computer desk, as that was the more immediate concern. I purchased a cheap Gemini L Computer Desk at Staples; simple, no hutches or drawers or anything of that nature. Just a flat desk and an option shelf that I haven’t put on yet. The desk made heavy use of allen bolts, which were significantly gentler than screws but still a bit of a pain. As a one man job, it was fairly straight-forward; though I could have used some help in a few spots, I never found myself calling out for an extra pair of hands.

Moved on to the computer chair - a Wal-Mart purchase from Dongguan Shindin Metal & Plastic Products. Construction was trivial, which is good since the chair is absolute rubbish. It’s a holdover until I get my old computer chair back, but it might find itself thrown out the window a couple weeks early. Tres uncomfortable.

Next we’ll talk about the futon. A two man job on a good day, but it could’ve called for an extra person. When I say a two man job, make no mistake - there were times when three to four hands were being used at once. It was also a royal pain; easily the most irritating thing to put together. The directions were unclear, a few of the steps were tricky, and I managed to wound myself near the very beginning of assembly. Never again.

The TV stand worried me; it’s a big wooden thing from Wal-Mart, heavy and sturdy. It was, however, surprisingly easy to assemble. A long job, to be sure - tons of screws and nails that sucked away time - but nothing especially hard. The use of cam locks/bolts was pleasant, as they’re so easy to use and don’t require the time investment of screws. The cabinet doors were awkward and difficult to get right, and I had to resort to a dirty hack using the wrong type of screw, but I eventually got it working. This was the first of the bunch that required nailing on a cardboard piece as the back of the furniture, which was initially hard to do as only one person, and also drained a whole lot of time.

The DVD stand was by far the easiest, which I guess is to be expected. Only a few pieces. A few screws, but not too many. Had to nail the back on, which I hate doing. The proportions of it are odd, though - it claims to be a DVD stand, and although the shelves are adjustable, you really can’t make use of all the space and I found myself leaving one shelf off because it just didn’t fit. Still, it’s managing to hold my entire movie collection (not my games).

The dressers, despite being not much bigger than the DVD stand, has been irritating. I’m not finished yet, simply because I don’t feel like putting together the drawers. It’s had a ton of screws to put in and more to go, and of course it had one of those backs you have to nail on. Ugh. Hate those things. I’ll probably finish it up tomorrow.

That’s all the stuff that I had to put together. Purchased a couch and a bed, but I won’t be getting those until Tuesday. Then there are a few other little things, like, say, blinds so that people can’t see through my windows. The place is really starting to come together.

Special thanks to Bri, who helped with the futon.

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