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Saturday, March 30, 2013

Windows Ported to iPad? [OnLive iPad App]


Believe it or not, but the screenshot above is from my iPad Mini. 100% truth. No lie. It looks like Windows 7 though doesn't it?

As I was searching for what OSes I could port to my iPad, I stumbled upon this beauty. OnLive is the name of the app, and guess what? It's free. The catch? Allow me to explain it as thorough as I can.


Actually, after doing a little snooping around, I found that this is a Windows Server 2008 version.

So this service, OnLive, strives to give iPad users the full and rich environment of the Windows platform as much as is possible. This is all on a cloud, none of it is stored locally except pieces of the app. If you randomly disconnect, it seems that the app is able to temporarily store the files not synced to the server too so there is quite a bit of room available. Many users' biggest complaints have to be with the slow service. It is slow due to it running through a constant internet connection. Basically, the faster the connection, the better your experience. I'm using it on my home's WiFi at around 20 Mbps so imagine me running it on my cell's 3G service at 4 Mbps. It was a little slow and laggy for me on 20 but not too much that I couldn't use it.

The desktop is very much like that of your computer's user interface. Complete with right click, dragging, and even window and icon arrangements as you can see in the photos below.



Below is a screenshot of the keyboard used in the app. Note that it is different from the usual iPad keyboard in many ways. This is done mostly to help the user navigate much more easily as if they were using a computer.


So why would this sort of app be useful and who would it be useful for? The people behind this boast of the app's ability to run a full version of Microsoft Word, Excel, and Powerpoint 2010 while using the app. Since this is all strictly cloud-based, any documents that you create here will be accessible anywhere you can login to OnLive. Below are some screenshots from me actually using Microsoft Word.

As you can see, it is the same version as you'd use on your home computer. Complete with spellcheck.



There's the traditional save, don't save, cancel screen.


If you do choose to save, you are given the option where to save and what to name it.


It gets even more cool, allowing you to save it as any file type you'd like to save it as, just like you can do on a computer!


Once your document is saved, it can be found where you saved it at. I saved mine in the documents area.


I found out something else that's cool is that on a regular Windows 7 computer, you have the ability to move windows to one side and the other and make them fit perfectly to one side of the screen. This app allows you to do that too!

I've been playing around with the app a little more. I tried using Excel and it's a good experience too. I have yet to try Powerpoint but I'm sure it's legitimate just like Word and Excel are.

For more advanced Windows users, this experience isn't meant for us. There is no control panel, no command prompt...nothing like that. You've got to think that this is all on an iPad too so there's no USB support nor a My Computer page. Trying to access the C:\ drive results in an error.

What's very likely is that this is a server that gives guest permission to all users logging in. That would explain why there's no special features for us.

As you can see by the desktop, there is an Internet Explorer and it is usable and connects to the internet.


You can maximize, minimize, resize, and close all windows too.

While this is a free to download app and free to signup, there is an option to get more features at $4.99 a month. One of the boasted features is flash enabled in Internet Explorer.

This is a very cool app to have and a must have for anyone who loves to show off. With your free edition also comes 2 GB of storage. I logged out and logged back in after saving that Word document and it was still there waiting for me when I logged back on. So the cloud really does save your documents and will open them back up.

I think this app is best for the show-off, business type, and the student. I can see myself rushing to class and using this to type the finishing touches on a paper that's due. I do not think that there is any support for a printer so you will have to e-mail the paper to yourself and then print it. I can imagine this being useful for someone who's in an office with constant access to the web using this for their various projects. And I can see people like myself who love to show-off, using this to impress friends.

You can't beat the price no matter which way you look at it. I plan to keep the free version because it's fine how it is for me. But I'm sure the extra $4.99 a month is nothing for someone who would really use this.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Bioshock Infinite 360 Review - 9.75/10

You may or may not have read my other posts but in them I've said money has been tight and I can't be frivolous so I have to be real careful choosing which games to buy now. Bioshock is one of those sure hit franchises in which there has never been a bad game in my book. Needless to say, this experience only furthered my findings that there is no such thing as a bad Bioshock game.

The Good:
The game looks fantastic. Not just by way of graphics but the use of lighting, textures, everything looks gorgeous and mouth dropping. Seeing the angelic statue for the first time feels like a dream and watching it crumble like a level later is just as powerful as the first time I saw it. Pools of water, blood and even oil look spectacular, even on my 360. I hear that the PC has even better graphics which astound me. And the game somehow just keeps that feeling of awe.
The combat is fairly good and it's nice they haven't diverted from the previous game's much. Shooting feels like shooting and using powers is always awesome. Instead of Plasmids, you have Vigors. Basically reminiscent of when street peddlers would sell cure alls back in the 18-1900's. The powers divert a bit and show a thing that isn't just the re-texture of the plasmids. You don't get your shock power until about 30 minutes into the game, depending on whether or not you choose to find everything you can in the world. They do reincorporate the 'water + electricity = more damage' element which is nice they haven't forgotten it. What's different about Vigors is that they have two different modes: a fire and a charge. A fire is just simply flicking it off for a quick attack and a charge allows you to create simple or elaborate traps with unique effects. Playing the game will showcase how useful it is at times.
While you won't find a Big Daddy, there are plenty of enemies in the game. Instead of Splicers there are regular humans in a few variants. The Patriot is a walking death machine with George Washington's face on it. The Handymen are unpredictable and surprisingly agile. Every enemy is actually fairly smart. You'll not often find a single enemy by itself unless it's one of the tougher ones and at times these three enemies can be found all in the same battle, forcing you to utilize every single weapon and Vigor at your disposal intelligently.
Another nice bonus are these bottles you can find around the world which will boost your Salt meter (magic bar if you will), Health meter and a shield which will take all the damage before breaking then recharging. Doing this allows for a unique character which can utilize different tactics while a person with a high shield and health can take the punishment, a person with a high salt meter is very versatile and can whip off Vigor powers with ease.
The main problem I saw with the game before it came out was Elizabeth, seeing it more like the game was an entire escort quest in which you'd have to constantly protect this weak person. Boy was I wrong. Shortly after I rescue her and she rescues me, the game tells me she can protect herself so there's no need to worry about her. On top of that, she can call rifts to aid you in battle whether summoning a Patriot, a turret, a few ammo/healing places or just randomly being able to throw me items both in battle and out. She would find cash for me and all I'd have to do was press a button and she threw it to me if I was in her line of sight. When my salt meter was low, she'd throw a bottle to me and I was back up to full. It's nice to see a smart NPC in a game that actually helps you rather than hinders you. Out of battle she's kind of interesting. She'll find random things to look at and sometimes comments on them. Not always did this work as I was impatient and quickly kept moving, but it's a nice turn of events. I have to say her AI is the most unique I've seen in any game. The facial expressions are also a very interesting way to show things. When Elizabeth was happy, mad or distraught she showed it. Really made me feel for the character and see she was more than a few lines of code and someone really took the time to program her like a human.
The thing this game holds over all the rest is I actually wanted to walk around and find stuff. You are always rewarded whether big or small for exploring. I also do like how the point you're supposed to go isn't in flashing lights and clearly laid out for you. But there is a feature which will quickly point you in the right direction. Too often I used this button for the sole purpose of not following it and simply look around.
The racism in this game is put down to a very realistic sense. Not to spoil anything, but there's a raffle in the town which turns out to be kind of horrible in the end which is when the game really sets off.
There's also a new mechanic which allows you to equip clothing to give yourself extra boosts. I wish I could see them cosmetically but just having them is a nice feature in and of itself.

The Bad:
The game sort of becomes very basic after a while. Though it's nice to change up the combat a little while, other than a few tiny changes with enemy tactics nothing much changes. You can't really buy new weapons from as far as I've gotten and instead of buying Vigors like Plasmids, you get them after beating a boss or just finding them in plain site, meant for you to see it immediately. This isn't bad, but it's worth mentioning if just to say it's a factor you may face.
The zip lines made me dizzy and nauseous. I know they're not called zip lines but it's pretty much a zip line. The idea of the thing isn't bad, in fact it's kind of cool. However, it messes with your depth perception if you aren't keeping it at a normal place. It's nice though as you don't have many of these sections forced upon you as well as you being able to change speeds by simply pulling on the joystick either way and being able to easily switch back and jump to and fro from the line you're on. You get an instant kill on lesser enemies if you jump on them after you're on the line and it's clearly laid out where you can jump of and on via some green pointers. Nevertheless, I feel nauseous using them, so I try to avoid them.

The Meh:
I didn't really have a problem with recurring NPC faces save the main characters and key people showing up. It's not really off putting because there's a decent variant of them while still being noticeable if you look hard enough.
I could take or leave that the new protagonist has a face and voice. Often he's saying more by being coy or cryptic which is nice. He doesn't talk too much or too little and just at the right point. Both Booker and Elizabeth sometimes ease the tension of silence that constantly falls over. As I've said, I can take it or leave it being neither mad or happy about it.
The story, while decent, is kind of predicable. Bioshock had an amazing ending and that's put the team at a crutch. Everyone knows there's going to be a twist or something jaw dropping, just not what it is. That won't really take away from the eventual reveal, but a shock scare is best used once.
There's not much horror in this game. I don't like horror games but Bioshock had the perfect amount of horror. With creepy splicers coming up from unusual and places I didn't think to see them. I was kinda hoping for more horror elements but too much would have been awful so very little was nice. The only part I was kind of scared of was when you fight in this war museum. There's some creepy posters that are racist as well and I was expecting something to jump out of them or from behind them.
Personally I find too many coincidences in this game. It's not bad, but from a stand point of seeing everything revolve around Booker, it's kind of weird. In Bioshock, you were just a faceless, nameless guy. It's not bad but again, it feels like it's leading up to something.

If you were on the fence about this game, don't be. This game is fantastic and did it's best to go back to what made the first game so awesome and cool. It's a pretty good buy and I've been getting a nice time playing it. I'm definitely not regretting buying it to say the least.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

What's the deal with: Piracy

"Piracy? Plundering on the high seas, stealing and looting? Why is a video game guy commenting on this?" is what people who live in the 1800's would (probably) say. Piracy is a big deal in the gaming community or media to give it a wider range. Basically what piracy means is that I've taken something without paying for it but it's technically not stealing because it's like software. What's software? Well software is pretty much air... kinda. Software is that game or application you installed on your computer or electronic device, it can be there one moment but is easily deleted with little trace. Hardware is the actual device you use. Think of it like a glass of water. When I put water in there, it's almost filled. When I fill it, there's no more room so I have to make more room. Pouring it out then gets rid of that, sometimes leaving behind traces for those who want to find it can look around for it with a fine toothed comb (per say).

All piracy is software, pretty much. You see, stealing means that there is less of that in an occupied space. Software isn't really all that limited. When I pay for a game online there is no limit of times to how many times I can download it (or at least should be... freaking Spore). That game, even though I bought it, does not belong to me. Sure I paid for the software but in the end, the developers are the only ones who have the right to distribute and sell it out to whomever they see fit to do so. An example is I bought two games on Xbox LIVE: Jade Empire and Stubbs the Zombie. These games both take up a decent amount of space on my limited hard drive so I deleted them to make room. I came back sometime later to find they were... gone. Just gone. I never received any refund, they were gone without an explanation and I never got my money back. This is a great reason and argument for the good in piracy. You see, no one can now do this to me. I have the game and that's it. The problem for me comes when they start distributing it, for money or otherwise. Yes I was a pirate. I know some sites to go to that are legitimate to get my fixin's of 'free' stuff. I don't do it now because I have a job and disposable income. Games are an art form as is all other media. It never belonged to anyone until it was distributed to the populace now it's the peoples. That's how I feel.

There is a lot of bad going on with piracy but the one thing I want to focus on is what is being done to combat it... nothing. You probably heard of DRM at one point or another. It's an acronym for Digital Rights Management. What it means for gaming is that horrible practices are put through that limit the player playing or having any type of fun with the game without annoyances. Remember I mentioned up above about Spore? Well if you bought a physical copy of the game, there was a little (by that I mean really long) code you had to enter to install the game. Previously this was implemented in The Sims 2, but that code was infinite or as infinite as I remember. With Spore, the code only lasts up to three times. After that, it's worthless and you have to buy a new game... seriously. This does nothing to pirates, absolutely nothing. There is something called a keygen or a key generator out there which does what it says. Noted it doesn't work all the time as I tried it to replay my Spore game but it exists. Another way they do this is with a code like the same before but this code allows you to go online and it only works once. This isn't the worst idea but it is implemented poorly again. I recently tried to play Battlefield 3 again on my Xbox. Turns out, that code is not applied to my account and I have to enter it again. I haven't played my Xbox since because I'm pissed off. And the game was the Premium edition so it cost even more to begin with. What these things do is make me angry and not want to play games anymore. I have been basically exclusively playing Steam and Swtor because that's a bunch of bs. While I get it from the stand point of making money, you're doing a piss poor job of it. Steam does this perfectly fine: I buy a game or DLC for a game and it's there and that's it. Origin does this decent as well but I have to give the props to Steam for doing it first and I haven't actually bought any DLC on Origin. For both of them, all of the games I purchased are there to download immediately whenever I have an internet connection. That's a good idea and a smart idea. While I don't know how Steam or Origin combat pirating save from the occasional "you need this code to play online" for Steam which is annoying but it's easy to find again.

I admitted I was a pirate and I'm not ashamed of it. My iPod is filled with pirated music. Why? Because I can't find the CDs anywhere but online (which I didn't have a credit card to begin with and that's risky in itself to give vital information over the internet). A while ago Lamb of God came out with a new album. I listened to a song of it and immediately loved it, went down to Best Buy to get it. Um.... where is it? It literally wasn't there. I asked and no one knew where it was. It said online it was in store so... where the hell is it? That's another good thing about pirating: availability. "But you could buy the CD on iTunes." Have you tried using iTunes? It's a chore. Or how about trying to create an account on it? By far the longest experience of my life even though it only took 20 minutes (really, not even joking). 20 minutes? My God, that's like ten short songs that just finished. The best thing to do is to streamline these experiences. Make it so it's easy to do things so I can buy them. I do not have the new Lamb of God sound track even though I want it and that sickens me because I was totally ready to buy it but it was nowhere in sight. In fact, the people who sell these products are those who make piracy a good and sane option. Why would I pay a lot of money for this thing when I can get it here for free, whenever I want it, put it wherever I want it and no one can take that away from me... except the government I suppose. Blame the people who distribute it, not the people who are willing to pay for it. Amazon is a decent site but they don't always have everything. Take a page from Valve or, hell, even Origin for that matter.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Little Update

Hey there guys! Sorry I haven't been making more relevant posts other than my opinions, like I said I'm busy with school so that completely destroys my time to play games as well as journalize(?) on them and buy them to review. As a side project, I've been working on a fan fiction novel. Yes, I am joining that band wagon, but this is something I'm kinda passionate about. It will be about The Elder Scrolls so if you're a fan, I plan to be diving into some really... really deep lore about the franchise and crafting a story around it. If you're not a fan of The Elder Scrolls then... you're not going to get much out of it or really understand it but I welcome you to read it all the same. I'm not sure if I'll put it up on the website because it might be a bit confusing/hard to read for you guys, but once it's finished or I've done enough chapters I'll let you guys know. Respond if you have any feedback, but for now I'll see you guys soon.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

My [Jailbroken] iOS Experience

Android just wasn't cutting it for me anymore. I needed a book for one of my classes and my Galaxy S III's book was just not sufficient for class. So I gave in and bought an iPad Mini. Admittedly, I'd always wanted an iPad and this was the perfect opportunity to buy one with a reasonable explanation. The one thing that made me resist buying an iPad was that it was, simply put, a bigger iPod Touch which I had already owned years ago. The other part was that I was never much into tablets regardless if it was an iPad, Android, or Windows. They looked nice and like they'd be fun, but I felt like mine would sit and collect dust after a while.

I ended up making the purchase about a month ago and immediately took it home and unwrapped it. The smooth metal finish felt so good in my hands. It was so cold and the screen was staring at me, waiting for me to just turn it on and begin playing.

As I do with most electronics, I began by checking for the latest firmware and the latest version that was compatible with a jailbreak. Fortunately for me, the newest version, 6.1.2 was hackable! I jailbroke it within minutes and unleashed its full potential.

For starters, I began by allowing iOS to have what every iOS device owner secretly wishes from their Android counterparts, a live wallpaper. Thanks to the guys at Cydia for hosting and the creators of this app, I have one.


You'll have to believe me but this is a live wallpaper. It's actually more impressive and sophisticated than that of Android's in that it responds to your finger presses. Without a finger press, the circles move slowly, when a finger press is present, the circles go every which way.

I had to test out the gaming potentials of this tablet too. So I went and bought the newest Modern Combat 4. You guys might remember me doing a little piece a few months ago on Modern Combat 3, which I absolutely loved for my Samsung Galaxy S III. This game has gained just as much enthusiasm from me. Here are some of the screenshots from the game.




It looks pretty impressive and plays well. My biggest beef with the game has to be with the iPad more than the game. If I had a smaller unit like an iPhone, the experience might be more enjoyable but the controls are hard to use just because of the larger screen. The game is still enjoyable, nonetheless.

When it comes to actually listening to music, I actually don't use the default app as I probably should. However, I do use it. I have uploaded 333 songs to it as I only have a 16GB model and mine doesn't have 3G/4G so I can't use the iCloud wherever I go.


Instead, I use my standard Google Music. Here's a screenshot of it below.


My disappointment with this has to do with the fact that Google has not (as far as I can tell) made an official app for iOS devices like there is for Android devices. This probably has to do with Google and Apple's ongoing war and Google not wanting to give everything to iOS devices forcing us to choose if we want to keep our Google apps and move to Android or stay with iOS and not have our favorite Google apps.

This version that I am using is played through the internet browser. Which brings me to my next point...

When it comes to browsers, I use Google Chrome. And now that I think about it, I not only use it on my iPad (there is an official Google Chrome app for iOS devices), but also my Android phone and my computer which I am typing this on right now. It works beautifully. I also have Safari installed on my computer as well as Internet Explorer and Firefox but use Chrome most of all. My phone has the stock browser and Dolphin, but I prefer Chrome. I also have Puffin installed on my iPad but I only use that for flash videos which it does play flash videos, but it's not as enjoyable of an experience for me as Chrome is.

Thanks to those guys in the jailbreak community, I was able to download a few jailbreak only apps. No thanks to Apple for making the iOS system so closed off though.


With this particular jailbreak app, Browser Changer, it allows iOS to set a different browser as its default web browser to open links rather than always using Safari. As I said, I prefer Chrome. I could choose between Safari, Chrome, Puffin, or any other available browser. I chose Chrome, of course. And it works! The screenshot above comes from iOS' Settings "app". All of those other apps beneath Facebook and above Air Display are solely ones used on jailbroken iOS devices.

I wrote a post on Hulu Plus a few days ago, and since then I have been watching Hulu videos with my iPad. I watched an episode or two of The Following on my laptop but I prefer the iPad experience most of all for some reason. Below are screenshots from the Hulu Plus app.



The picture is beautiful, big enough for me to see clearly, and the experience is grand overall. My disappoints with Hulu are explained in the other blog posts, but as for the app and how iOS handles it, it is great.

I mentioned earlier that my particular model is WiFi only with no data. What's interesting is that you'd expect it to not have GPS features. Not true at all.

Above is a picture from my iPad using NavFree, a navigation service available for Android and iOS devices. What's unique about this particular app is that you do not need data to use it while others like Google Maps require data to run properly. All that you need with this app is a GPS signal. And if you take a look in the top right hand corner, you will see that I do, in fact, have a GPS signal. And yes, it is accurate and works. I have yet to actually go to a destination using this but I have walked around the neighborhood with this and it knows where I am and can also display the correct MPH I am traveling. At least it seemed to be accurate.

When it comes to other map services, I was disappointed. Google Earth is available as is the infamous Apple Maps service but Google Maps is not available officially for iPads. Take note that I say "officially".

I'm not sure about regular iPads, but my iPad Mini is able to download apps that are made for iPads as well as iPhone apps. There is a downside and this has to do with size and pixels.



Both screenshots above are taken from the Google Maps app. This is the iPhone version as there is no official iPad app yet. So it seems like Apple implemented an iPhone emulator into the iPad Mini to use iPhone only apps. Below are screenshots showing why I think this is an emulator.



In all four of the screenshots above, you will see two pictures of smaller sizes and two of larger sizes. The smaller ones are as they would appear as if they were on an iPhone screen as they are about the same size as an iPhone 4's screen size while the larger pictures are the app zoomed in. You can clearly see the difference with ugly pixel lines. The top two pictures use the iPhone keyboard while the iPad keyboard is much different.





You can see in the above screenshots the iPad style of a keyboard.

While on the topic, I love the way this iPad feels when holding it. On pretty much every iPad, you can separate the keyboard for easier use with two hands like it was a bigger phone and is able to use your thumbs, but this iPad Mini can fit just as well for me without separating the keyboard. In fact, I prefer it not separated. But I love the feature and I know some people need to have the keys separated to type.

I've seen other keyboards on Cydia for jailbroken devices but I have yet to try any of them. I tried getting a Swype-like keyboard but it doesn't seem to work for my iPad Mini.

One of the most valuable features for advanced users has to be a file browser which I have called iFile.


It's very easy to use if you've used other file browsers for Android and can be very useful in clearing up space. It also has some features like an internal FTP server which I haven't used yet but is available for anyone who wants one.



Overall...I love the experience. In fact, I am thinking of switching from my Samsung Galaxy S III and all Android devices to using an iPhone instead. When I first got my iPad Mini, I thought it was great to have an Android device and an iOS device but now I think I really want an iPhone more. There are some things that Android has that iOS doesn't have but most of the things seem to be here via the jailbreak community.

What really changed my mind was last week driving and having my phone on the charger but it dropping from 70% to 66% battery percentage while it was on the charger. I was using the Google Navigation while it was on but that should never happen. That made me lose a whole lot of respect for Android devices because they are notorious for loss of battery power whereas friends with iPhones brag about their longer lasting battery and better stability even though being jailbroken. What I ultimately don't like about iPhones is that there is no insurance if lost or stolen (however there is "Find My iPhone" which can find it as long as its on as well as lock the device) and there is no external memory. For the most part, if I need more memory on my Android phone, I just buy a new card. If I want that for an iPhone, I need to buy a brand new phone.

From the standpoint of this blog, it's best to have a mixture but with Android, I have to update my device continuously because only the Nexus devices seem to get infinite updates from Google while pretty much all iOS devices get the newest updates. The accessories are always guaranteed to be compatible but with Android it's a hit and miss.

I'm not sure but I feel like I'd like to change especially after having this beautiful experience. But Apple has to remember that if there was no jailbreak, I'd be with Android all the way.

Would I recommend anyone to get an iPad Mini? Absolutely...however, only if you feel like you'd use it. I use mine constantly. Actually, last night was the first time I pulled out my laptop in over a week. I have been using my iPad most of the time for everything I need. Which is odd because the iPad is NOT a suitable replacement for a computer. It can take the place of some of the stuff your laptop does, but not everything. You will need a computer to get music from places other than iTunes or videos or properly write and do many other things like proper gaming. But the iPad is a powerful device that surprised me. I am very happy with my purchase and it has been over a month of having it.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

The Idiocy of: Always Online Games

I'd just like to say this is a long time coming. No this will not focus mainly on the blunder of SimCity but I will speak about it.

A little history about me. I was a little kid who had developed a lung condition and could not do physical labor or sports for extended periods of time. Needless to say I was an outcast at school. I found myself contemplating things more often than I should, preferring not to make friends because they would always do things I could not or be gone within a matter of months. There wasn't much to do as a kid other than play with toys and eventually that got boring as well. When I was about 2, my grandmother bought my brother a GameBoy Pocket, not knowing how old it actually was considering this was the early 90's. Nevertheless, when I grew up this thing was a treasure to me. Whether on the go or at home, the very first game I played was Mario World (which I have never beaten to this day yet I still have the system and the game in my room). I got a SNES later on in life and had it taken away by my mom later because of Super Metroid. Why tell you this? Because video games have been an integral part of my life since I was a child, even before I knew of my lung condition. Afterwards, they became an even greater part of my life because I had nothing else to do so my friends would have to play video games with me instead of physical play outside. I never really got into online gaming because it's only been apart of my life for at least a few years. Now I don't mind it though. I have a great time playing online with Crysis 3 because it's a fairly balanced game. Games like Call of Duty and Battlefield don't interest me because they are filled with people who get extremely good at the game to mess around with people like me.
I don't remember the first online experience that I had but it probably wasn't a pleasant one. I've never cared much for online gaming and choose to forego most experiences when playing a game. Here's how online gaming is done right. Ever played Dark Souls? The game is brutally difficult (which is not my thing) and has vast amounts of content ready to explore. When the online is on, you'll see little things on the ground of player's messages that they've left. Usually you'll come across that annoying "Praise the Sun" b.s., but sometimes the messages do help you. Apart from that, you can summon more powerful players into your world to help you out, though I never found out how that works. Every so often, a player may invade your world to kill you and steal your souls, which are everything in this game. Playing on the original Xbox I laugh quickly then unplug my internet connection, cutting them from my game and playing by myself once again. This is a good way to have multiplayer without multiplayer. It's always a challenge to wonder if it's best to keep yourself online to get messages that may or may not be helpful while risking the attack of a much stronger player. Note you can't pause the game at any time so everything's quick and brutal. One time I was in the depths of a cave. A note said "Phantoms cannot be killed by normal weapons". Not understanding that, I went forwards and was boned shortly after. Only one have I killed an invading player but that was by a stroke of luck and I had two other losses after that. That is online done right.
I've always said the worst part about an MMO is the other players. As you may or may not know I have been playing The Old Republic quite often. It's a fun game and after my free to play session, I decided it was worth the 15 bucks a month to subscribe. Going back to my first comment, I don't like MMO players. If you go just about anywhere on the internet, trolls abound. Whether giving you false information or just being plain disgusting and rude, I don't need to or like to play with other characters. Just today I was playing in one of the starting worlds with a completely new character. A couple of guys were trolling on the chat and I decided to play along. Their antics quickly shifted to darker, more perverse things and I did my best to ignore them. They constantly cursed and said vile things and never felt apologetic about it, even going so far as to accost other players till everyone stopped talking all together. I have the fundamental belief that all people hold both dark and light sides to them (part of the reason I like Star Wars so much). I feel the internet brings out the worst in people, finding that I rarely helping each other out, only seeking to make people feel awkward about themselves. For instance, one of my players is a second command in a newly formed guild. That is a big responsibility for me considering I have a part time job and school to deal with. I don't like commitments in games, I find them to be taxing. I get why an MMO is going to be always online. The biggest world my computer can currently play is Skyrim, which is huge. The Old Republic has about twenty different worlds, some the size of or even greater than Skyrim with the same graphical quality. Servers are needed to keep the game flowing naturally and smoothly with these massive worlds. The problem I have with that is that servers are constantly kicking me out, regardless that it says for me being a subscriber, I basically have priority over others when being in a server. This is a regular occurrence by the way which people have told me to tell the support team about. But that's bull. I pay for this game, why am I being kicked out of it constantly? The main problem I have with this game is that it is a sort of prequel to the Knights of the Old Republic games. I think I said, "This is the game I wish Knights of the Old Republic was" and I heartily mean it. It's better in just about every way and would be perfect if the servers weren't there and it was a single player. Hell, one of the servers is completely offline now and some people where even joking how the only reason they were on another server is because their server is just... gone.
Now to the nitty gritty of SimCity. I've never played it. Not a previous one or this one. The game does look nice but appearances can be deceiving. When I heard about it I thought I would buy it. Once I heard it was always online, I immediately changed my mind. Even if the servers ran perfectly day one... why always online? Even in single player? That makes no sense. I have no idea why they chose to go with this choice but hopefully they've learned their mistakes. It may not be an MMO, but it certainly does face the problems of one. In fact... a SimCity MMO sounds kind of cool. But, I would like a single player SimCity if you don't mind. It's always fun to wreck up your city and start anew or simply reload like my Skryim massacres.

Simply put, always online games will never work. Have a faux online like Dark Souls if you must but for me I'll stick with single player experiences.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Hotmail is Getting an Update

According to a popup I received, Hotmail is to receive an update which will update the user interface as well as the URL that will determine how you log in to your e-mail client.


That was the message I received just as many others may have received something similar. However, when I clicked the link "Upgrade to Outlook" (and I clicked this on two different occasions today), I received this page.

So it looks like I'll just have to wait for Microsoft to force me into the update. One of my other accounts was updated and this is how it looks.


This is how the new Outlook looks. I blacked out pieces of my personal information and personal e-mails.

It's a big jump in change, but nothing really fancy. I really don't like other UI as the other one just looked ugly and this one reminds me of that Metro design that I absolutely hate.

Has anyone been able to update? Do you like the change, don't care, or hate it?

Downgrade iTunes?

iTunes got an upgrade a few weeks ago, and it has received quite a bit of criticism  Apple's latest update to the new version did not answer people's frustrations either.

I have been tracking where my views have been coming from and I've noticed that a lot of people would like to downgrade their iTunes to a previous version before this latest update. I know the answer to this; although, I, personally, am not going to downgrade as I have optimism and am not as bothered as others are. So here are the instructions.

First thing to do is to uninstall your current version of iTunes. If it asks you if you'd like to keep your settings and/or music, tell it that you would.
Next thing to do is to do a Google/Bing/Yahoo search. What is the version you would like to downgrade to?  Currently, the newest version is 11.+, most people seem to have liked 10.+ more which was the previous version. If you want to downgrade to a 10, search for something along the lines of this "iTunes 10 download". You will then come up with a few search results, some may be from file storage places like 4shared. Most of these website should be okay but be careful. If you get one alert from your anti-virus program, cancel and/or delete the download immediately. Some results in your search may be from forums like an Apple or iTunes dedicated forum. Some of these will have people who have the same issue as you and some may even upload their install packages for you to download and use. These are usually good and if they aren't, others in the forum will make an uproar about the file.
Once you have downloaded this install package, if on Windows, it should be a .exe package. Double click this file and begin the installation process. Once it's done, you should have iTunes X.XX.XX which is whatever version you wanted.

For pretty much any computer program, this method should work. I always tend to download and "save" install packages whereas most people simply download and run install packages. Running an install package keeps it in temporary storage and is deleted later while save allows you to save it for use whenever you feel like using it. That is the difference between "save" and "run" when downloading a program online.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

A Look at Hulu Plus...

I've had Netflix since 2010 and it's been a love-hate relationship since. I can't stand lots of the things they do, but they have just what I need at an unbeatable price.

For some time now, I've known about Hulu and have used them from time to time. Then they came around with their premium subscription being Hulu Plus. I wanted to see what it was about but was uncertain if I should try it so soon. While visiting a family member, we sat down to watch Dragon Ball Z on his Xbox 360 over Hulu Plus. I was enjoying watching the episode until it suddenly stopped and a commercial popped up. At that point, I said, "When did you switch the episode to the cable?" My cousin looked at me and said, "This is still Hulu Plus." I asked him why they had commercials and pretty soon saw a bunch more commercials appear. I asked him how much he paid and it was the standard fee that everyone else pays.

That experience made me dislike Hulu Plus from the start. I could understand having commercials over the standard web Hulu or on a cheaper subscription, but with Netflix as a competitor at the same rate, why pay the same and have commercials? Commercials have been one of the top reasons why I stopped watching network television altogether (I don't have cable and haven't since the early 2000's when my family got a free one year subscription to DirecTv and never renewed our subscription).

That was back in 2011 when I first saw Hulu Plus and it left a negative impression on me ever since. But lately, Netflix hasn't been doing its job. I love shows like Sons of Anarchy, Breaking Bad, Workaholic, and The Walking Dead yet Netflix has not updated any in over a year. Other shows and movies suddenly go missing like Toy Story 3 or all of those Starz shows often times without any warning. So I decided that I'd try looking for a better service that could meet my entertainment needs. Hulu Plus seems to be the only worthy candidate as it too provides its customers with unlimited movie and television streaming on all of my favorite devices for around the same fee. Plus, I understand that Hulu has its shows updated the day after the episode airs on television, some shows even being aired a day before it appears on television.

I decided to swallow my pride and learn to tolerate the few commercials for, what I hope, to be a better experience.

I was a bit disappointed. While I'm not paying anything yet, I was disappointed to learn that many of my shows are not available on my favorite devices except my computer. I was even more disappointed when I actually got to my computer and found out that they were lying. Sons of Anarchy, Storage Wars, and Wilfred were said to be on the computer version, but when I pulled these up, I found out that these were just small clips of episodes and not the real deal.

Seeing the same ad for God of War: Ascension really got to me after a while too. The service was already getting to me.

What little good that I did find in Hulu were such shows like The Yard, Whites, Wilfred the Australian version I'd been looking for, and lots of anime shows. But even then, shows like Whites didn't do much for me. Very dry humor and didn't seem to be going anywhere. Plus, I only saw one season and the episodes were from a long time ago. I wasn't ready to get into another show only to be disappointed that it didn't end as intended but just leaves with a cliffhanger...*ahem*...Terra Nova. Hulu Plus also has a wide selection of anime shows that I never even knew existed. The interface was nice and it was nice to see something different than my typical reddish colored experience.

But is it worth the money per month? Sure, it's only $7.99 just like Netflix which I hardly ever noticed is taken from my account...but will I even use it?

Hulu Plus has lots of old movies including classics from Charlie Chaplin, gay & lesbian movies/television, and seems to be reliable when it comes to counting on them for my anime needs. And, the commercials aren't as bad as I had envisioned. They can be tolerable, but I would prefer they weren't there in the first place. Then again, I suppose they help in keeping the costs low and allowing me to have some of the things that Netflix has failed to offer me such as up to date episodes. But is the content worth it?

Well, that depends on your personal preference. For me, I'm not sure if the few television and movies I like will be worth it. For you? Check out the listings for yourself. If Hulu's free trial is still going on, give it a shot too. Also, ask your friends and family. See if you can even check theirs out before wasting your free chance.

I have officially until Friday night to decide. Who knows? I may end up keeping it.

If you came here for a Hulu Plus vs. Netflix article, sorry I couldn't offer anything in depth. I just wanted to discuss Hulu Plus and my personal experience with it more than compare it.

PPSSPP Release for Android and More!

Every year, it seems that we get new emulators of our favorite nostalgia systems. We've had the popular SNES emulators and now we finally have one for our mobile phones from a generation ago.

Introducing the PPSSPP emulator for Android! A working PSP emulator for your mobile device! Click here for the download's page. You can search the Play Store for the emulator or you can download it from their page. In addition, there is a donation version. Like many amazing developers, not much has changed for cheapos between the donation version and the free version besides the icon being gold.

Other systems include Windows, Blackberry 10, Linux, and more! Unfortunately, it appears that noobs may have a hard time installing the emulator on many of these devices. As is the case with many emulators, expect your device to not run all games as if you actually had the actual PlayStation Portable system.

But this is great news. It won't be long before we see other emulators from this same time period arise too!

The Idiocy of: PETA

Oh hey, there. It's been a while. I've been busy with school and work but something like more shit that PETA pulls will always keep me coming back here.
Starcraft fans? Well lucky you cause you just got a new expansion pack (sorry if I'm wrong about that, I don't play Starcraft no offense) for your game called Heart of the Swarm! Oh hey, PETA! You fans of this game too? Huh, what's this?

https://i.chzbgr.com/maxW500/7132762368/h6A33E2A1/

Huh...

I'd like to reiterate what I said before: I don't play Starcraft but it's clear that the Zerg are the bad guys. Apparently they handed these out in Irvine to "make sure to hold compassion for all beings". I don't know where PETA is getting their info for games but this is the second time they've sided with the clear bad guys of a game. How bad? Well here's the info I got from Starcraft's official Wikipedia site (yes Wikipedia has some credible information).
"The zerg are a terrifying and ruthless amalgamation of biologically advanced, arthropodal aliens. Dedicated to the pursuit of genetic perfection, the zerg relentlessly hunt down and assimilate advanced species across the galaxy, incorporating useful genetic code into their own."
If that doesn't scream 'evil' it's pretty close. I'd like to thank them for not going the extra mile to make a game to only further their insanity plea. I'm pretty sure no one in PETA plays games because they seem to have no knowledge what so ever about the stuff in video games or completely misinterpret what the actual message was supposed to be. In the trailer for this, they clearly show the zerg flying into cities and destroying them. Bad guys? Come on, PETA, anyone with an internet connection could have seen this, you can be this blind and stupid. I've never played a Starcraft game in my life and I know where to find info about the game in less than a minute. Stop being involved in anything PETA. You are dumb, your views are skewed and you are a general menace to anyone with half a mind.

(picture courtesy of Memebase and info from Starcraft.wikia.com)

Sunday, March 10, 2013

[Review] SimCity 2013

Technically, SimCity 2013 is not SimCity 5 as the PC SimCity that came out after SimCity 4 was Societies; however, many of us fans try our hardest to forget such a title even exists in the franchises' history. For the sake of this, I will refer to the 2013 version as SimCity 5 throughout this post.

I woke up fairly early for a Saturday morning to hear BlackHood4 tell me the news that EA's servers for SimCity were not working the first day it came out. I assumed that this was only for those who wished to play online. Not quite.

As I went to pay for my copy of SimCity 5, I noticed that the front had wording below that said, "PERSISTENT INTERNET CONNECTION REQUIRED TO PLAY. YOU MUST BE 13+ TO PLAY." I'll admit to you guys that I'm older than 13 years old but the other part had me worried when it said that an internet connection was required to play. I turned over the box to read the System Requirements and saw only a section for "Minimum:". Most games also have a spot for "Recommended:", but not this game.

System requirements include, as written on the box:

"OS: Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7 or Windows 8 CPU: AMD Athlon 64 X2 Dual-Core 4000+ or better or Intel Core 2 Duo Processor 2.0GHz or better RAM: At least 2GB DISC DRIVE: DVD drive HARD DRIVE: Ar least 10GB of free space VIDEO: ATI Radeon HD 2400 or better*, NVIDIA 7800 or better*, Intel HD Graphics or better* BROADBAND INTERNET: Minimum 256 kbps download, 64 kbps upload. *Minimum of 256 of on-board RAM and Shader 3.0 or better support."

Notice that it says that a "Broadband Internet" connection is required. This is a fairly new feature that EA has implemented into the game, most likely to deter piracy and typical greedy corporation trying to prevent you from sharing something that you paid for with someone that lives in your house. A constant internet connection is required to save your games onto EA's cloud service. Your game saves will not be saved onto any local storage device you have nearby. You will need an Origin account, which are free, to play this game. It can get annoying as my internet connection is very buggy today and EA is having a hard time loading SimCity for me. It appears that everyday you open Origin to play this game, you will be greeted by this tedious screen.


Once your game has finished updating, you will need to restart the game and then be able to play.

I want everyone to take note that EA seems to have taken some extra measures to ensure that the "PRTSC" button does not work when actually playing the game. I like to share screenshots with you guys and trying "PRTSC" while in the game has only captured what is going on behind the game, i.e. my computer's desktop background. Somehow they managed to trick Print Screen into thinking that the game is not being displayed.

When you finally get to play the game, you will see this screen for creating a game.


Like SimCity 4, SC5 has regions. In each region are a few spots to create your city. Some regions have only two spots for cities while some may have six. In each region, there are also circles. As far as I can tell, you cannot build cities here. I will explain these areas a little later as they are very important and can be quite useful.


In the above screenshot, you can see that the game allows you to then name your region as well as choose what sorts of ways you would like to play. As I mentioned before, the game is completely dependent on a constant online connection. As such, you have no choice but to choose whether your region is made public so that any and everyone can join your region and become a neighboring city or if you'd like a private region that only people that you choose can move in. There is also a box for "Sandbox Mode". Most gamers should be familiar with this terminology but if you aren't, it basically means to just have fun without any sort of objective. With this, you will not be allowed to gain achievements which I suppose Origin now has some sort of achievement system. I personally don't care about achievements so I run in Sandbox Mode. I also choose Private Region because I'm worried about trolls and other people who would come just to ruin my city. I'm unsure of if people can hurt your city or not but I'm not trying it out right now.


In this screen, you are able to then choose which area you want to set up your city in. Do you see the yellow and white lines across the map? The yellow lines tell you where train tracks are. This can be useful to you for providing your citizens with an alternative way to transport goods outside of the city as well as an additional way to bring in tourists to your city.

The blue squares are places that you can put your cities while the gray circles are places for drilling oil.


When you click on a blue square tile, this pops up. Each of these represents various resources a city square contains. Mostly all of the city squares have water while others vary when it comes to ore, oil, and the others. The other orbs to the left with a train track and a road indicate whether this city square is connected to the rest of the region through a train track or roads. Just about every city square that I've seen has roads while some have trains and others do not. When you are ready, you can click "Claim" to claim the land for your new city.



Here is what my city looks like from afar. I apologize for the cut off screen below. I am running SC5 in a window rather than full screen to take these screenshots and it's not fitting my screen very well.

This is how my city looks like before I begin building on it. It is quite beautiful. The graphics are a step up from Societies especially from SC4. These remind you of Sims style of graphics. However, while early reports indicated that sims will look more like how they do in the Sims series games, they are not that enhanced. They do look more realistic than they did in the previous SimCity games. I'm going to begin building my city and skip ahead to a screenshot much later in the game.


Here is a look at my almost completed city. I'm still learning how to use the game so my city is already in the red again.

Unlike the previous games, this SC utilizes real time whereas others, like SC4, used real time but differently. A second in real time was equivalent to a minute in sim time. Here, the game uses real hours. Once an hour has passed, an hour has passed. The game is currently telling me that I have just a few hours before my city goes into bankruptcy and services start closing. My citizens are angry because the taxes are too high but I had no other option.

I added a coal mine and oil refinery into the city to help generate some revenue and create jobs. Unfortunately, it looks like I created too many jobs because the residents were complaining that there were no places to shop.

Businesses will be built if you make the zones for them; however, they don't immediately begin running until they have enough residents willing to work there. It is a good idea to zone commercial zones nearby houses so that people can find work and have a place to shop.

With previous SC games, if a utility, like the power building, wasn't generating enough power. You would need to create a second power building. This game is much different. If your power building, water building, police station, fire station, or hospital isn't covering enough of your expanding city, you can expand the buildings!

For instances, my clinic was very small but I expanded the amount of ambulances and patient rooms it had to cater to more patients. My fire station and police station got upgrades with an enhanced tower coverage as well as helicopters. Police stations can have upgrades such as a detective wing and more jail cells. These will help you as you grow the city and help you cut down on crime. Fire stations can have upgrades such as a fire marshal who makes sure that buildings are safe and won't catch fire so easily. You can also add a hazmat team to your existing fire station. My solar wind panel got upgrades from traditional blades to blades that could generate more power.

Depending on your location, you may be able to get more wind power in certain areas than others. The same goes for water and other resources.

The game is lots of fun. It will definitely take some time getting used to and I'd recommend that new gamers spend at least a few hours in total on the game before deciding whether they enjoy it or not. At first, I play one and a half hours and I did not like the game. Later, I played for around four hours and began to really enjoy it.

There is a whole lot more to the game than I can describe here. If I took enough screenshots, I'd have to take one every few seconds.

So, the question remains. Is this game better than SimCity 4? Is it better than SimCity Socities? To the latter, a definite yes. In comparison to SC4? It's hard to say. This game is solid but time will tell how solid.

As we've seen with other EA titles, EA will drop server support after a few years which will make this game unplayable. Some people still play SimCity 4 even though it came out nearly ten years ago. Can this game survive ten years? Who knows? In EA's defense, they have made it so that users can use custom servers to continue playing online. They may or may not do that for this game in the future.

What do you think of the game so far?









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