Video of the Week: JoCo plays Still Alive

To celebrate this week’s release of Portal 2, I thought I would make this week’s video of the week a clip of Joco playing the song for an interview.  It’s an oldie, but a goodie.

 

 

 

 

Jonathan Coulton was the guy who wrote the song that plays during the end credits of Portal.  Right after the game was released, he wrote an amazing blog post about the song, including lyrics and tablatures.

God of War Collection

A little over a year ago, I was playing a game that was already six months old, which was a compilation of games that were years old.  It was the God of War: Collection on PS3.  It was the game I was playing the day my PS3 stopped working.  I never had the cash to get my PS3 fixed, and in fact I still have it laying around…  along with these games.  I recently decided I missed watching things on Blu Ray and picked up a PS3 Slim.  Having only 3 PS3 discs still in my possession, I decided to pop in God of War Collection again.

 

GodofWarCollection

 

I finally sat down and made my way through the first 2 parts of Kratos’ epic journey.  And I have to say: wow.  These games are fun.  They may be frustrating in some points, but as someone who only owned a PS1 for hacking and playing with exploits, and has never owned a PS2, I think there actually might have been a game I missed out on.

 

Being the God of War Collection they provide the buyer with a lot of bonus content on the Blu Ray movie portion of the disc – you can watch a good deal of behind the scenes materials,  During the “making of the game” interviews, they kept saying they wanted the game to be raw, visceral, and down right violent.  While you start to get the feeling of it in God of War, when you start playing God of War II, it really feels like they nailed what they were going for.  The animations are more fluid, the moves are more devastating, and everything simply feels more rewarding.

 

 

The enhanced graphics seen in the God of War Collection, I believe, were not specifically made for the game but rather they used the textures that they used in the FMV cut-scenes in the original games.  Now that they have the hardware, they just slapped that layer on every model and called it a day.  I’m sure there was more to it than that, of course…  but even though it doesn’t come across as a true high-resolution treat, the responsiveness of the game and smooth controls make chaining together a 50+ hit combo surprisingly easy.  And at one point in God of War II, yes, I even accomplished a 500+ hit combo.  Brutal isn’t even the word for it.

 

If you missed out on these titles the same way I had, there’s no better way to pick them up.  You can get both games for twenty bucks on a disc at Amazon, or i f you’re too impatient to wait, you can pay $30 for a code to download the content straight from the PlayStation Network.

 

After spending a few days a week for the last two weeks chugging my way through these campaigns, I can’t wait to get my hands on God of War III– it’s long overdue for me!

Can Wal-Mart save us from Big Oil?

Why isn’t anyone going up to bat for the little guy?  The little guy being you and I, by the way.

 

Everyone is blogging about oil prices this week, but I’m wondering why nobody is looking at it from this angle: the public needs support from larger companies.  It’s not every day when I think a big company should be helping out the general public, but this time I think I can make a case for it.

 

There’s lots of finger pointing going on and everyone is blaming one thing after another for high gas prices.  In 2008, the last time gas topped $4 a gallon in my neck of the woods, everyone said it was out of control and there was nothing they could do about it – but oil companies posted some of the largest prices of any company in the history of anything ever.  And I’m not being hyperbolic.  The latest round of rumors are that American oil production isn’t even operating at 100% right now, there isn’t a gas crisis or a gas shortage: it’s the futures market that is causing the crazy high gas prices.  I don’t care who is to blame, all I know is it hurts.

 

As gas prices approach the $4.00 per gallon mark, the economy can see (in broad terms) a slow down in sales elsewhere, like retail for instance.  We go through a national “belt tightening” every time gas prices get just a tad too high.  You can try to do things like buy gas cards, or even join Sam’s Club, where member-only gas pumps are often five to ten cents cheaper than neighboring gas stations…  but that’s not enough.

 

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image credit: m_bartosch.

I think the big chain stores, like the Wal-Marts, the Lowes, Sears, Targets – they need to band together to find something to do about gas prices.  With enough pressure from them, there must be something that the Exxons of the world can do to trim back their excessively high profit margins.  While the consumer may be feeling the pinch now, I believe this could be bad news for the economy in the long run, because I sure will be going out less, doing less, spending less.  That many for my gas tank has to come from somewhere, and I need to get to work.  What I don’t need is to travel the interstates during my time off.  Stay-cation ‘08 is coming back for 2011!

 

Although large chains like Wal-Mart and Target might be able to ride out the storm, other chains that might not have quite as much draw may want to start putting a plan together, because I can certainly get by without visiting my local local RadioShack any time in the next six months, and might have to if I can’t afford the tiny luxuries of wasting money on random cabling and electronics supplies.  They might not be giants, but they’re big enough to get the attention of the oil companies and try to figure out what can be done to keep people like me on the road, instead of in the driveway.

5 of 5 Star Pagga (Lite)

As I draw this special edition of App Wednesday to a close, I wanted to highlight a game that is growing on me more and more.  It’s a beautiful space combat simulator called Star Pagga.

 

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Don’t let the screenshot fool you, that’s from a very old version of the game.  The game’s graphics keep getting better and better, and it’s a very clear throw back to games like Wing Commander.  If you know me, you know how much of a WingNut I really am.  So when I saw a game that played like Wing Commander, available on my phone?  I jumped on it.

 

Star Pagga uses accelerometer controls and the touch screen to really immerse you in your space combat environment.  And I’m sure there’s quite a storyline to unfold, but I’ve only just started in on the full version.  There is a Lite version available which includes five playable levels.The game even features a multiplayer mode!  Again – I’ve barely touched on it, I just wanted to let people know that this game was out there, and that the space combat sim genre is not dead and gone!

 

So check out Star Pagga or at least Star Pagga Lite!

 

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Meebo

If you’ve ever used Meebo.com, you have no excuse not to know what this is and should be pumped to go get it and install it on your phone.  For those who don’t know what Meebo is, it’s simple: Meebo is every instant messenger, everywhere.  You sign in to one Meebo.com account, and it can sign you in to all other messengers (AIM, Yahoo, Facebook, etc…).

 

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You don’t even need a meebo account if you don’t really want one, you can just use their interface to sign in to one program.  Meebo has a beautiful interface, and can easily help you keep things straight when you have several conversations going on at once.  If you’re an IM’er, my recommendation falls solely in the Meebo camp.

 

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Disk Usage

 

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Disk Usage is a very straight forward app.  I won’t even go in to much detail other than: it’s free, and VERY helpful.  Want to know why you have such a small amount of free space on your phone’s internal memory, or your SD Card?  This will graphically display your files and apps so that you can easily track down what the biggest files are and decide if you want to uninstall the app or just delete the files straight away.  You can zoom in by clicking in to each ‘directory’ and it will expand to show which files are taking up the space.  It’s so easy to use and so useful – you should go get it.  Now.

 

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Audiogalaxy

What is Audiogalaxy?  Brilliant, that’s what!

 

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If you remember the name from about 2001, you may be thinking of that program that was just like the original Napster, or Kazaa, or LimeWire.  But now they’ve turned over a new leaf.  Where Amazon just recently released their Cloud Player, and in the process angered a lot of record labels, Audio Galaxy is trying to tip toe around the subject of “ownership.”  Rather than hosting your files for you, the mp3s never actually leave your computer in their current form – they are streamed directly from your PC to your handset.  With Audiogalaxy installed on my Android, I can go anywhere and take well over 30,000 songs with me.  I’m absolutely in love with Audiogalaxy.

 

I don’t know what their business model will be, or how they intend to make money, but I’ll tell you what: I’m onboard so far.  I love their service, even more than Amazon’s free 5 GB of web space.  I will be a paying subscriber, just as long as their prices are competitive with Amazons (which, since they will be providing the servers and the bandwidth, but not the storage, they should be able to compete, even with Amazon).

 

Sign up on Audiogalaxy.com then install the app for your phone!

1 of 5: Google Goggles

Today is the very special App Wendesday!  I’m bringing you a new app worth checking out every few hours, a total of 5 apps today.

 

First?  You need Google Goggles.  That way you can really use those QR codes that are popping up all over the world.  You know, like this one?

 

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See?  What do you do with that!?  I’ll tell you what.  You install Google Goggles on your phone from the Android Market, and let it do the rest.  But you can do so much more with it.  Search for a company logo, search for images similar to something you’re seeing right now, or even product search.  Scan a barcode on a product box and search for it online, because we know the in store displays never have enough information.

 

Want to know more about how Google Goggles works?  Watch the video below.

 

My Printer Stopped Working, now what?

Update: If you’ve already tried everything below, see the sequel to this article!

Tales from the Help Desk?  It’s time for another Tech Tip Tuesday!

Ever hear of someone taking a few seconds to “reset the print spooler” and their computer magically started working for them?  Sometimes it really is that easy.  Resetting the print spooler takes about 10 seconds and is far more efficient than rebooting your whole computer.  So if you’re asking how do I restart the print spooler?  There are several ways.

 

If you’re familiar with the Command Prompt you can simply load one up and type in the following two commands:

net stop spooler

net start spooler

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You’re done!  Your printer should start spitting out pages again.

 

If the command prompt feels just a little overwhelming for you, don’t worry – there’s an easier point and click way to do it.  If you’re in Windows XP, click on Start then Run, type the word “Services” and press Enter or click OK.  In Windows 7, click on the start menu and “search” for the Services console.

 

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Once the Services console is loaded up, scroll through the big long list.  Don’t let the quantity scare you, you’re just looking for the Print Spooler Service.  Once you find it, RIGHT CLICK on it, then click RESTART from the right click menu.  A progress bar will pop up for a few seconds saying that it is stopping, then another will pop up saying it is starting.  And you’re done!

 

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One more method for getting to the “Services” console that works in Windows XP / Vista / 7 – Right Click on the My Computer or Computer icon, then click Manage from the right click menu.  Then, on the left side, click Services.  You can memorize this process, then no matter what computer you find yourself working on, you can most likely find the quickest way to reset the print spooler.