When did movie tie in games get good?

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A couple of years ago, X-Men Origins: Wolverine was released. This game was the beginning of Marvel Comics’ rebirth in the video games industry. There had been some decent games (Marvel Ultimate Alliance), and there had been some crap (every other Spider-Man game in recent years, with some exceptions) before then. But when I played X-Men Origins Wolverine, I found myself replaying it over and over. The story was alright, engaging enough, but the game play mechanics and the violence levels really let everyone know the game was not your run of the mill “fun for the whole family, lets make a buck off the movie franchise” tie-in game. The game made you feel like a bad ass. The mechanics were simple, it was an old school beatem up brawler, but with long leaps, visceral thrashing, and adamantium claws. More recently, the Captain America: Super Soldier game was released. Now, I’ll admit I’m behind the times finally getting to it (several months late at this point), but I’m already hurting when I see it in bargain bins. It’s a fantastic title, with relatively good graphics, far voice acting, and (once again) EXCELLENT gameplay.

What the games lack in some triple-A game franchise appeal, they more than make up for in being down right good games. For anyone shying away from comic book or movie tie in video games, I have to say don’t stray too far away. You might want to give them another look (especially at their discounted prices). You may find something that surprises you.

Nothing exciting, but planning…

No, today I have no exciting news of any kind. These things happen. However, I am excited to start laying the plans of my E3 coverage. This year is interesting in that Sony and Microsoft have both already made plans to stream their announcements. Microsoft even says they will have a way to stream it over Xbox Live. This is very exciting, but considering I will be away from home I will look to stream through the web. Worst case scenario, I’ll be on a friend’s couch using his Xbox 360 to stream the show as it happens.

Where will you be?

WhoIsServer – domain registration info on the go!

If you’re a web-geek like me, you spend an abnormal amount of time trying to figure out who owns certain domain names, if they’re going to expire any time soon, or (only if you’re very lucky) if they’re not taken at all! I stumbled on to WhoIsServer on my Windows Phone by complete chance (I don’t even rmember what I was searching the marketplace for!) and when I did, I couldn’t believe it was free. Then I downloaded it and didn’t expect it to work (and I thought I knew why it was free)… but it functions flawlessly.

It queries a whois database (likely WhoIs.net, but I’m not positive on this) and sends back the results. Now it’s true that sometimes you get a result with a URL you have to visit (networksolutions is notorious for doing this in their public WhoIs records) but that’s not the developer’s fault. It would be nice if you could click those links when they come up and load the page in Internet Explorer. But feature requets aside, this app is a freebie, and it does exactly what I need it to do!

Would I pay for this app? I’ll be honest, probably not. But if they put ads at the bottom I certainly wouldn’t complain, it’s quite useful. I’m telling you, if you’re a geek, go download WhoIsServer from Windows Phone Marketplace, you’ll be glad you did.

Archive by date RECEIVED instead of date MODIFIED in Outlook 2007

Some people have a lot of email. A lot of email. Sometimes, to boost performance and ease the strain on your servers, it can be a good idea to archive that email. But what happens when you want to archive a batch of messages, only to find out that, supposedly, several of your messages don’t qualify as “old enough” to meet the archival requirements you’ve set up? “They should,” you think to yourself, “they’re several years old!” The problem becomes – what if you just migrated that user’s email account to a new PC, and now the modified date is more recent than the received date. A buddy of mine ran in to this recently and shared the solution with me for all of you Outlook 2007 users.

People have many stances on holding off on updates, but I’m pretty sure this one’s been around long enough to qualify for the “it oughtta be there by now” standard. But if you’re working on an old computer for someone and you haven’t been in control of the Windows Update cycles, you may want to check for KB2412171. Although it’s not expressly described in the KB article, my friend originally found some helpful details on the website MSOutlook.info and I want to give credit where credit is due. But, rather than just linking off to any other website that could disappear some day (nothing more frustrating than clicking dead links in forums) I figured I would at least link you to the KB article and help you out. The more places that share the details of the fix, the better.

This update adds the option to archive by date received, rather than simply by date modified, which (as I explained) can leave you stuck sometimes. Getting all of your Office updates – or at least downloading and installing KB2412171 for Office 2007 should fix you right up! Mail will be archived based on when it was received, and calendar appointments based on their scheduled dates – no more of this “date modified” junk!

1999 – Angry Salad – self titled


Boston boys Angry Salad had a few albums and received some national recognition. Their major label debut was also their last album together, but the self titled Angry Salad is one of my most favorite albums of all time. I, like many, was introduced to the band through The Milkshake Song, featuring the lyrics “she gave me / a milkshake and a kiss… / I don’t need / a whole lot more than this.” Angry Salad features a not-very-edgy 1990’s alternative rock kind of sound (remember bands like Tonic and The Flys?), and the album even features a cover of the famous song 99 Red Balloons.

The song was simple, sweet, and catchy. I heard it on local radio stations growing up, the band came to town (Erie, PA) a few times and I regret never making the time to see them now that I look back. But when I got a little older and found the album, I was thrilled to own it. I bought the CD on eBay when when I was older and still have it to this day. There are several more songs that will cut right to your core and it is clear that whichever band member wrote the lyrics was recalling specific moments and images from his life. The lyrics contain detailed images, and even references to those images… “in dreams I see his face / I recognize the place right next to / Dashboard Jesus” says the refrain in the song Rico.

Saturday Girl is another melancholy song which clearly deals with the pain and suffering of depression, from the point of someone who has either been hospitalized or institutionalized fighting the disease. Expecting her parents to come free her, but instead it seems they only visit on Saturdays. One verse has been so beautifully described it his played over and over in my mind for over a decade, now: “the ceiling reflects / headlights coming over the hill / she’s lying on her back / and she’s perfectly still / she knew they’d come back for her / but they fade out of sight.”

You’re not going to find this one easily, and it’s not being produced any more, so I would have to advise picking up a used copy and introducing yourself to Angry Salad.

How to tell how much power your Xbox 360 uses


Update 2: The 135 watt plug may not be the “end all” form factor. It turns out that there was yet another revision of the Xbox 360 Slim! The original, Xbox 360 S, uses the pictured 135watt power supply. I believe the newer model appears to look identical to the 135 watt, but the Xbox 360 E uses a 120 watt power supply. More information is on Xbox.com. If you cannot tell if your console needs the 135 or the 120 watt power supply, count the USB ports on your console. The S/135 console has 5 USB ports. The E/120 has only 4. Microsoft has a list of other differences between the 360 S and the 360 E.

Update: I have added a reference image for the Xbox 360 Slim’s 135 watt power connector.

As the Xbox 360 console kept getting revised, Microsoft got better at lowering the power consumption necessary to power the console. But what is the easiest way to know if you had a console that consumed less power than one of the first generation models? How do I tell how much power my Xbox 360 uses? Easy: look at the power pins. The power usage of the Xbox 360 has steadily dropped as the hardware has been revised. I found the helpful graphic above in a Microsoft support article.

I wish American news outlets advertised like this

If American news outlets advertised like this, I’d be far more interested in watching the news, rather than reading it from a hundred different sources and trying to decipher the truth. This video even makes TheGuardian seem like an actually balanced news organization. I don’t know how accurate that really is, but I have more hope for them than the biased coverages we get in the States! Still, no matter where you stand on how fairly the headlines are covered or how much you like one company or another, you have to admit when someone does something creative, and this commercial for TheGuardian is pretty impressive. Enjoy it.

Price Drop on Windows Phone 7 games

A few weeks ago, what I thought was just a short term sale turned about to be a price drop for some of the ‘greatest hit’ Xbox Live games on Windows Phone 7. You can now get Angry Birds, Max and the Magic Marker, Toy Soldier, and severl other great games at their new reduced price: 99 cents!

A not-always-easy-to-find page was put up on Xbox.com celebrating the price drop. Head in to the Windows Phone Marketplace and find yourself some deals!

When did I get this old?

Thursdays are the days you get to know me a little better – I never know what I’m going to write about… although it’s usually tech related, some times I still use this as a personal blog and reveal a little more of who I am. I write my articles on weekends and at night. If you think I’m up at 5 writing these so they’ll publish at 6 AM, you might just be off your rocker! If I’m up past midnight, then I get a bad night’s sleep, I’m cranky. I’m out of shape. I hate going out. I don’t like loud music (unless it’s my own). I’ve become my father, and I’m only 27!

My friends and I called my father Red when I grew up. The parallels between what was happening in That 70’s Show and my life weren’t just relatable moments, they were frighteningly accurate. So when we all got a little older, we called my old man Red. Which is who I feel like, already.

Surely that can’t be. I’m not married; have no kids; I don’t have a mortgage or a car payment; my only real debts are student loans; I have no family drama; no particularly scarring events from my childhood that really ruined me for life… so what’s my problem? Why am I so much more content with staying in and watching something on Netflix with my girlfriend, rather than hanging out with a group of people? Why couldn’t I care less what everybody else is in to?

Perhaps this is just a phase and I’m being a rebellious in my own way, since I wasn’t particularly rebellious as a teen. Maybe this is my rebellion. I am going against the norm by being so placid! Well, whatever it is, it needs to change. At least some of it. I’d like to get out of this funk. A night listening to an orchestra is a fine way to spend an evening, or around a fire with friends. Perhaps it’s time to get myself in to some form of better shape, too? Maybe I should take advantage of my health insurance and see a General Practitioner for the first time in several years… maybe I can involve the few loyal readers I have to somehow light a fire underneath me and start to turn things around. I’ll find a way to involve you all, yet.

Windows Mobile Marketplace Closes May 9th

It’s a bit of a sad App Wednesday for me. A few months ago I got this notification from Microsoft. A week from today, on May 9th, 2012, the Windows Mobile Marketplace for Windows Mobile 6.x devices is going away. Now keep in mind that this does NOT have anything to do with the Windows Phone Marketplace for Windows Phone 7 devices or the upcoming Windows 8 Marketplace. As an old Windows Mobile 6.1/6.5 user & Developer, it’s sad to see this day come. So get your updates now, because in 7 days, finding apps for your Windows Mobile devices is going to be just like it was in the old days! Read below to see the full press release from Microsoft. Continue reading “Windows Mobile Marketplace Closes May 9th”