Hesitant to get Kinect-ed…

I heard about how the “Kinect for Windows” device was better than the first Kinect that launched on Xbox. More precise, faster, etc… all of the benefits that I really expected would make their way to the Kinect sensor in a new and updated package. But they haven’t – at least, not publically. Perhaps buying one these days gets the few extra features, but I keep waiting for something more. I feel like there is something else coming, just around the corner – that “revision 2” that is better than the original. And so I wait… but am I waiting for nothing?

I would love voice and motion control on my Xbox 360. I would enjoy some of the silly motion games. I can’t wait to try the integration of certain voice and gesture commands in to certain “core” games like Halo Anniversary and Mass Effect 3. If there is no upgraded unit coming, when is the price drop going to happen? I need something to encourage me to take that last leap, and so far, my friends haven’t helped.

I took to Twitter the other day and asked if I should pick up a Kinect, but the responses were lackluster and those I got were a resounding eh, something like Kinect will be integrated in to the next Xbox, just wait for that – there aren’t enough games to make it worth your while. And that’s hard to argue with. Kinectimals was about the closest thing to ‘revolutionary’ I’ve seen out of the Kinect yet. And the version of Android and iPad looks just as fun.

I’m still torn, but I’m certain I’ll cave sooner or later – I just plan on holding out until “Black Friday.” By then we’ll know if they plan on releasing a revised version for the holiday shopping season, and if not, there’s bound to be sales!

2013 is going to be an expensive year…

original photo by: Christian Fischer

You may have heard something about this drought we’re going through? We’re getting warned that the price of corn has increased by 38% already, and though others expect it to climb, some are saying it’ll only result in a few cents more being paid at the grocery store. I couldn’t disagree more.

I’m not an economist. I’m not a farmer. But I have common sense. Corn is everywhere. It’s in breakfast cereals, sodas, fruit juices, snack foods, potato chips – and when not used as some sort of high fructose corn syrup, then it may be used as feed for chicken, pork, and other livestock. Corn is only one of the crops that’s suffering this year, you can count on many, may more vegetables suffering as “berry season” appraoches. I haven’t had a good watermelon yet, this year. Everything is about to get more expensive.

It’s going to be gradual. Infact, this is the time of year when livestock herds are going up for auction most frequently, so you might see prices drop over the next few weeks and months. But if you’re the kind of person who likes to have a Christmas ham? You’ll be paying more than last year. Go ahead and watch prices – early next year on in to next summer, I expect prices to rise. Substantially. That $2+ bottle of cola won’t just be in over-priced vending machines anymore, and everything from Dorito’s, to hamburgers, to heads of lettuce are all going to get more expensive. Pick your favorite product, watch its price over the next 12 months. Chart it in Excel, I dare you. It’s about to get pricey, and you should at least plan ahead a little right now. Prices won’t double, but when the price of every single thing you buy goes up, your wallet will take a punch. Be ready.

AppShopper finds you deals in the iTunes App Store

This week’s app of the week is an iOS treasre that has already saved me a bundle, and will hopefully help you in the long run as well!

AppShopper is a website as well as an iOS app (4.0 or later) for iPad/iPhone/iPod Touch that will help you find the right time to buy an app that you’re looking for. Got your eye on a game, but think the price is a little steep? Add it to your watch list in AppShopper and let it do the rest. You’ll receive a notification if and when the price drops.

Simple enough, right? It really is. I had no idea that some app prices fluxuate so much. And to give you an idea as to whether or not an app will go on sale (face it, some developers set it and forget it, when it comes to pricing), the AppShopper App on iTunes has a price history – you can see the dates and prices when prices of certain applications went up or down. If you think an app that you’re considering purchasing is a due for a price drop, you can hold out a while longer and be notified when the price drops – then tap the notification, follow AppShopper right in to the iTunes App Store and buy that app! It’s easy, it’s convenient, and it’s awesome.

How to fully exit and close apps in Windows 8 (VIDEO)

I’ve had lots of time to tinker with the various pre-release and preview versions of Windows 8. I find it to be quite snappy and good at managing system resources. But, I’m still concious of the fact that no operating system can do a truly unlimited amount of tasks. Microsoft (much like Google did with Android) insists that modern memory management doesn’t need to be babysat the way older operating systems did, but I’m a creature of habit! Occasionally you want to close completely out of one of the “Metro” Apps. So here is the quick and easy “how-to close an app” in Windows 8.

Let’s say I have Hydro Thunder open. If I press the Windows Key on my keyboard, it will “exit” the application – but all it really does is forces it to the background. If I re-open the app, it will resume right where I had left off, meaning that it’s constantly taking up at least some system resources. If you really want to completely exit the application, all the way out, your best option is to drag it down.

  1. Put the mouse pointer (or your finger) at the very top edge of the screen. You’ll see the mouse pointer become a “hand” rather than the normal arrow.
  2. Left click and hold, while you drag down toward the bottom of the screen.
  3. At this point, you can choose to snap-aligh it to the left or right side of the screen if you wish, or:
  4. Continue to drag off of the bottom of the screen, and release the left click.

Here is a how-to video:

2002 – Nerf Herder – American Cheese

I recently mentioned the band Nerf Herder when talking about the band’s front man Parry Gripp and how he releases a song a week then turns some of those songs in to crazy music videos. But this throw back punk rocker has had a fun-loving career lasting over a decade at this point. In the album American Cheese, the band Nerf Herder gets absolutely rediculous, it’s easy to see how this guy knows how to play to a YouTube audience and release songs directly to the internet: he’s a geek at heart. This should have been painfully obvious in that the name of the band is an overt Star Wars reference (who’s scruffy lookin’?).

No you needn’t / shed a tear / ’cause I’ve got waffles / and I’ve got beer / and I’ve got Mr. Belvedere / Welcome to my world.” References to Mr. Belvedere and Cheers pop up in the first track of the album (you know you’re a child of the 1980’s if…). Welcome to my World is the ultimate breakup song for “dudes.” Although the lyrics concede that, in his bachelor pad, it’s “non-stop no-girl action / without you” it is also a powerful mantra to staying positive and enjoying what a co-worker of mine once described as “beer in the fridge, underpants on the floor” single-living.

Other songs that draw out Parry and the rest of the band’s inner-geek include Mr. Spock, wherein the girl he is trying to impress clearly wants “something more than human / someone with blood that’s gold and green / you want someone better / than me.” Other songs deal with being the one picked last for a team, inspiring anyone out there who is willing to listen to put in the time and start their own band, and more relationship songs – all of which have absurd twists and laugh-out-loud lyrics.

Some of my favorite tracks, mostly for the rediculousness factor, are New Jersey Girl, Cashmere, and High Five Anxiety. So go on and give American Cheese a listen.

Should I upgrade to an Xbox 360 Slim?

Preorder the Limited Edition Halo 4 Bundle

People ask me all the time if they should “upgrade” to a newer Xbox. The answer is simple: if your console is working, then I say no. Sure it might be nice to have some newer features, but the Xbox 360 console is just the hardware of a platform. The platform is what delivers you the games, the movies, the music, everything you’re already enjoying. First generation Xbox 360 owners might not have an HDMI port, but if you haven’t had a Red Ring of Death and you’ve got a first gen 360 then you might just about have a collectable!

The changes made inside the Xbox 360 might have came with a few speed improvements, but the overall changes have been designed to increase stability, fix issues, and with the most modern revisions, to conserve power. But as far as your experience goes? It’s not going to change. I got sucked in to the hype after having a couple of minor disc read errors, I decided it would be a wise decision to plunk down the cash for a new slim console. Other than the occasional minor hiccup, my old console was working just fine. I still wonder why I wasted the money! People like the sleek new look of the slim console, but be honest: after the first day when you can’t take your eyes off of it, it will just be another one of those boxes under your TV that has a green light on it when you’re using it. It’s not the center piece of your living room!

Unless you have the scratch to afford one of the “limited edition” consoles, like the Star Wars Xbox 360, or the upcoming Halo 4 console as pictured above, I don’t think buying a new console is worth it. Even then, it’s only “worth it” if you want the collectable factor. Once it’s safely tucked away in your entertainment center, your experience won’t change at all.

Unless you’re experiencing frequent disc errors, lock ups, a red ring of death, an E74 error, or another serious failure of your Xbox 360 console… I would suggest holding on to it until you absolutely have to upgrade. You don’t get a better picture or sound, faster downloads, or any other benefits when you upgrade to a slim console. You get more storage. Other than that, your interaction with the console will be the same as it is now – so why spend $300 or more? It’s just not worth it, if you don’t need to.

Ooo-yah, I'm excited for Ouya

Yup. I did it. I bit the bullet on Kickstarter and pre-ordered an Ouya. And I’m glad I did. If you haven’t heard of it, you will, soon. I’ll describe what I’m talking about soon, but first, just know that I’m in the company of, oh, I dunno… tens of thousands of others. Listen, I’m writing this post early, because my mind is blown – so to tell you this: this post will appear July 13th 2012 at 0600 Eastern time. I’m writing at 2000 July 11th. At the time I’m writing, the Ouya has 27,615 “backers.” 3.5+ Million dollars. When I ordered it was over $1.5 Million. Their goal was only $900,000, which they raised in about a day. I’m glad I got in when I did, because the company is still trying to figure out what they’re going to do with all of their money, and just how many Ouya units they can produce!

So, what the heck is Ouya? I didn’t even watch the whole video or read the whole description when I jumped on it. If nothing else, it’s going to have some VERY nice features, but at its core, the Ouya is a new form of gaming console. It sound like it should be quite powerful, it will run Android, so there is a good possibility you should have direct access to a lot of pre-existing apps, and, one more small thing: the games? They’ll be free. It makes no sense to me, either – it’s the kind of thing that is going to turn the industry upside down… I don’t have any more details than anyone else, right now, but it sounds like they are planning a freemium model which will lead to in-app purchases and unlockables. I’m not entirely sure how I feel about this – I certainly hope it isn’t an entire console of Zynga and Facebook games… but I noticed in the video a few key phrases, such as “free to try.” This sounds very similar to the Xbox Live or Windows Phone model, where everything is required to have a trial version, but I think that is one of the things that made the Xbox Live Arcade and Xbox Marketplace such a huge success. I know I certainly wouldn’t have purchased even half of the games I have in my Xbox Live Arcade collection were it not for the demo versions available to me.

The Kickstarter questions at the bottom of the page confirm my theory, when it states that: “For gamers, every game will be free to play: what this means is that there will at least be a free demo, or you’ll be able to play the entirety of the game for free but may have access to additional items, upgrades, or other features that come at a cost.” Which is fine by me, although I’m sure some people will pipe up down the road and wonder why games aren’t 100% free. By the time you read this, they’ll probably be sold out of all of the reasonably priced (sub $200) Kickstarter options (I got in at $99), but you can check Ouya’s Kickstarter page and see if you’re interested in the first new “gaming console” since the OnLive console appeared to polite applause a few years ago.

Will Xbox Music see more cross promotion?

With the coming rebranding of the Zune marketplace to “Xbox Music,” am inclined to wonder if this will lead to even more cross promotion on the Xbox Live Marketplace.  Microsoft has been extremely good to the members of the Zune marketplace on Xbox Live by having weekly deals and discounts highlighted on the dashboard, and featuring artists and contests that could allow you to play a game or two with celebrities.  But what more would I hope to see?  A little bit of gamer-goodies. Continue reading “Will Xbox Music see more cross promotion?”

Free IRC app for Android: AndChat

AndChat is a free IRC app for Android that works astonishingly well. You can save multiple connections to connect to different servers, save credentials to speed up the IDENTIFY process, chat logging, and it gives you a nice clean chat interface while talking with people. It even features a widescreen mode!

The free product is full featured, and there is a ~$3.25 donate version of AndChat available, or you can donate your own amount of your own at andchat.net/donate. Download AndChat Free from the Google Play Store and check it out!