Thursday, January 31, 2008

Comcast has Tons of Free Shows Online

I was just digging around and found their Fancast Beta site. You can watch just about any show currently out (at least the ones we watch), like last week's Chuck. They also have older shows like Firefly.

Check Out these Full Length Video Picks at Interviews, TV Show Episodes, Spoilers, Trailers and More!

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The Secret World MMORPG

Looks interesting. MMORPG based in a present-day world with mythological creatures.

Dark Days Are Coming! - The Secret World Forums

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Review - Lord of the Rings Online

I just realized I never posted anything about this game, so here it goes.

I bought this game for about $20 near the beginning of this month. They were running a special: $10/mo. if you pay 3 mos at a time, so I took it. I haven't used up my first 30 days yet so I can still cancel. I don't have a problem paying $10/month, but there is absolutely no reason Blizzard is charging $15/month when you can't get on during peak hours without waiting 30 minutes. Anyway...

I've tried an elf, a human and a hobbit. Playing the hobbit now. Like in WoW, the different races have different starting areas, but it's not as diverse. I heard recently that you are really paying for the WORLD of Warcraft, not just the characters, and that some people stop playing once they hit level 58 because they have seen everything by that point (I only made it to maybe 20 with my best char). Even though the areas aren't very different, this IS Tolkien's world, and all of the characters start in roughly the same area of the world.

The gameplay is extremely similar to WoW, as is expected. So why play this instead? Well, it's a world I have read about since I was 10, so it has a real impact. The game itself really does make you care more about the quests, and there are quite a few new style quests. For example, one quest had me play hide-and-seek with a few kids, another had me sneak packages from post office to post office without getting caught by 'nosy Hobbits'. There was even a chicken quest in which I was turned into a chicken and had to dig for worms while avoiding boars! Of course there are still the 'Fed Ex' and 'Get X items of Y animals', but the animals always drop the needed thing, so you don't have to kill 20 boars to get 5 boar tusks.

Best part? You start off with tons of bags, unlike WoW. You are able to explore for what seems like hours before you have to go back to town to sell. You always have to go back to town to complete the quests before you have to go back to unload all of the crap you collected.

Worst part? Crickets. As in what you hear when there's no one around. I am still in the newbie areas, but I'm shocked at the lack of people playing. Hopefully the game will survive. I suppose they could consolidate servers if they needed to, and they haven't, so maybe there are more people in the higher level areas. Hopefully people are sticking with their main characters and don't feel they have to keep making new ones. I guess I can think of it as a solo game with the ability to have more than one person in it.

Other differences: If you go through the newbie area once for a race, you can skip the newbie process for the next character of that race. You can't play as the bad guys except in special arena areas. You can't zoom the minimap in or out, so it's hard to find questgivers, especially when you are returning from a quest that asks you to bring things to a different person than the one that gave you the quest.

I have a long way to go before I get to Bree, but I did explore the Shire and made the trek to Bilbo's old house. Can't go in, of course, but it was nice being able to actually walk around the area. I'll have to visit my favorite areas from the books, including Bree & the Prancing Pony, Weathertop and Bombadil's house. The elves start out in the same area as the dwarves, so I haven't seen a real elf town yet, so that will also be nice. I'm under the impression they are still building the world, so I can't go to Mordor even if I could survive the trek. I'm sure it will be awesome to see the white tree.

Home-made Karaoke

I think I finally figured it out on my Mac. It's cumbersome, but it works very well. Setup time is about 10 minutes.

* Mac Book Pro. Gotta have a laptop to use in the living room.

* Lots of .KAR files! These are basically .MIDI files with karaoke-style words attached to them. Works like you expect: Song plays while the words show on screen, and the words to sing are highlighted at the right time.

* QuickTime. Yes, QT can play .KAR files natively. Not fancy at all but it does work.

* GarageBand. Free music editing software that comes with Macs. Add a 'real instrument' track and turn on the effects! Well, reverb and echo are easy and quick. Some of the vocal transforming effects add enough delay that you can't use them real-time. Make sure you check 'monitor'!

* XLR mic, cable, and mixer. Yes, this is overkill, but that's the only way I can get good mic sound into the computer.

* HDMI for video and SP-DIF for audio. Hook that sucker up to the big ol' TV and audio system!

* OPTIONAL: PhotoBooth. This uses the built-in camera on the computer and shows a real-time picture of what it sees. Has several effects that can be added to make it look really weird. A couple of the kids can't stay off of this program so it should be a hit for them to watch themselves sing.

That's it. Hopefully this will all work whenever we have a karaoke night at our house.

Footnote: I found lots of karaoke programs for Mac and PC, many totally free, but NOT ONE SINGLE PROGRAM let you mix your voice into the mix. Well, one of them did, but it didn't have any echo or reverb, so it sounded horrible. Home-grown is the way to go for this one. Either that or one of those mics with built-in karaoke functions and chips that can be inserted for more songs.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Floating Jellyfish Pool Lights

These look pretty neat.
Floating Jellyfish Pool Lights - Frontgate

Cat tattoo?

That's just about the goofiest tattoo I've ever seen.

Readers Show Their Tattoos - Photos - WMTW Portland

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Aspire Laptop $400

Wow! $400 with no rebates or anything! Not too shabby.

Micro Center Online - Aspire AS4315-2963

No More Heroes Reviews

Looks pretty cool, has decent reviews. I might have to sneak this one in...

No More Heroes Reviews

Movies at School

Apparently the teacher just wanted to show movies and never teach. Even rated R movies to 9th graders!

Parent Peeved Over Movies Allegedly Shown At Luther High - Oklahoma City News Story - KOCO Oklahoma City

Hubcap Creatures By Ptolemy

Expensive, but they sure look cool.

Hubcap Creatures By Ptolemy

Gov't to Pay You Back?

Make under $75K/single or $150K/couple? Got kids? You're gonna get some money.

Tentative Deal Reached on Economic Stimulus Package -

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Comcast TiVo

It's officially official: TiVo for Comcast. Will start the rollout in Boston, other markets to come. Only $3 more than the normal Comcast DVR rate.

Digital Recorders: Comcast Offers TiVo to Subscribers, by Rachel Cericola - Electronic House Product News

Buffed Leveling - Planet Elder Scrolls

I need to check this out.

Buffed Leveling - Planet Elder Scrolls

Brickshelf Gallery


Brickshelf Gallery

Mini Review - Cloverfield

Not too bad.

The best thing about this movie was the intensity of the ride. Once it got going it didn't stop until the end. I didn't really care for the main characters but it was entertaining anyway. The monster was disappointing, but really wasn't the focus of the movie and wasn't shown for more than a couple of minutes total.

Cloverfield 2008

Thursday, January 17, 2008


Why do kids do what they do? What goes through their mind when they do stupid things? It's time to grow up.

Bora Bora

I can't stop looking at pictures of this island. Camp for $25/night/tent, or $125/night/3 persons in a bungalow.

PENSION LAGOONARIUM- Bora Bora Island- Tahiti Sun Travel Network

Currency converter:

The Innernette

Hilarious! The entire 'Internet' on one CD. Yes, the 'Innernette' will protect you from e-viruses and e-worms because you aren't connected to the 'net! No phone lines!

MilkandCookies - Time and Eric: The Innernette

LaCie - LaCinema Premier

Pretty cool. Only $250 or so for 500GB of easy-to-access video from your computer to your TV.

LaCie - LaCinema Premier - USB 2.0 Multimedia Hard Disk



I've been watching more contemporary Japanese anime lately. I've become enamored with the 'Kotatsu' table--basically a coffee table with an electric heater underneath, topped by a futon (a thick blanket, not a mattress), topped again by another table top. When it's cold you plug in the heater and sit with your legs underneath while you eat. Of course, you sit on another futon or pillow, not in a chair.

We have been sitting around our coffee table the past few meals in this fashion, eating with chopsticks to slow down the meal (school teaches kids to eat too fast).

We have central heating, which is uncommon in Japan, so we don't really need the heating element, but I'm thinking the futon on the table, topped by another tabletop, would be a nice alternative to our current way of eating.

I've read over and over that it's common for people to fall asleep under their kotatsu. Multiple kids can easily do this, but adults have a harder time because of the lowness of the heating element.


Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Review - No Country for Old Men vs. A Simple Plan

There are spoilers here. Please stop now and watch both movies first. Acutally, just watch "A Simple Plan" and don't worry about missing "No Country...".


Watched it? OK, Good. Here we go. I haven't seen "A Simple Plan" in a couple of years so make comments if I get something wrong.

ASP: Wooded back country.
NCfOM: Desert back country.

Main finder of the Money:
ASP: Poor married guy w/ no children.
NCfOM: Poor married guy w/ no children.

Money from what?
ASP: Drugs.
NCfOM: Drugs.

How they handle the money:
ASP: Sit on it for a long time until the 'heat' wears off.
NCfOM: Sit on it for a long time until the 'heat' wears off.

Is the money 'free'?
ASP: No, the owners of the money/drugs want it back, and the police are looking for it, too.
NCfOM: No, the owners of the money/drugs want it back, and the police are looking for it, too.

Do the 'good guys' get to spend the money in the end?
ASP: No. Oh, and there's a death.
NCfOM: No. Oh, and there's lots of deaths.

Collateral deaths?
ASP: No.
NCfOM: A ton of 'em.

As you can tell by my biased comparison, the movies are very similar. Same basic idea of finding drug money, keeping it for a while, then plan on spending a little at a time after the bad guys stop looking for the money.

So why do I think ASP is better? ASP spends most of the time following the main guy and his wife, his friend, and his 'special' brother, so you really start to feel for the characters. NCfOM doesn't make me care for anybody except maybe the air canister guy, and that's only out of morbid curiosity.

ASP is more of a psychological drama about how ordinary folk handle the money, along with the greed, betrayal and everything else it brings. NCfOM is a long, slow chase scene with only one exploding car.

However, the ending is what clinches it for me. NCfOM implies that all of the 'good guys' die, but it's only spelled out for one of them. Why make us WONDER if the characters died? What's the point? It's obvious they want you to leave the movie thinking they died, but there's no mental reward for thinking they survived. Usually if the movie ends ambiguously it's ripe for debate about what really happened after the movie stopped. This is not the case.

ASP gradually builds up to the finale, with a very tearful sacrifice of one of the three men, and they find out after the death that the money is marked to be instantly traceable, so anyone that spends even the first dollar will be found (not exactly sure how this would work if you buy furniture and cars with cash, no ID required, but whatever). The buildup also shows the growing tension between the husband and wife as 'do what is best' vs 'do what is best FOR US' conversations become more aggressive. Finally, you really feel for the remaining characters at the end of the movie because they have ripped their lives apart for essentially nothing--no money, death of loved ones, etc.

I just don't get why this movie is being pushed by the critics.

No Country for Old Men Sucks!

Argh! What a crappy movie. I can't think of one single thing I liked about it. Waste of $10. Why does every praise this movie so highly? 'A Simple Plan' was much better.

UPDATE: Please see the following for a more detailed explanation:
Slothful Geek: Review - No Country for Old Men vs. A Simple Plan

Monday, January 14, 2008

Vargo Chopstix

These look cool. Collapsible metal chopsticks with wood tips. Vargo Chopstix: Sports & Outdoors

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Kid's First Band Concert

YouTube won't support the entire thing in one file. Here are the two parts:

Wednesday, January 09, 2008


This little thing is awesome! Sending this post from my pearl.

Lord of the Rings Online

$10 at Amazon for the box, $10/month if you pay 3 mos. at a time, why not?

I'm on the Meneldor server, various names. E-mail me and I'll give you my current character name.