How an IT guy is like a Park Ranger

Sometimes my nerdy friends and I come up with funny analogies. Recently I decided that your IT person should be thought of as a park ranger. Don’t get mad at them when things aren’t going well, be glad they came around when they did! The more I laughed at the analogy, the more I started to like it. Continue reading “How an IT guy is like a Park Ranger”

Recording Lite for the iPad – get great audio on the go

I was in a pinch and needed to record some simple conversation this week. I had my iPad with me, and remembered downloading an app that I hadn’t tried before, Recording Lite. Recording directly to AAC, this app can record for hours without taking up much space at all. Thanks to the high quality microphone on the iPad, I had some crisp clear recordings, even of people across the room. Built in is the ability to upload the files to iCloud, or even swipe to the third and final screen, which loads up a small web-server app allowing you to navigate to the IP address of the iPad in a web browser, and download any recordings straight through a web browser.

There’s one more superb feature found within Recording Lite and that is the ability to convert any recording from an AAC to a WAV file. By default, audio records as a Mono track, 44.1Khz. I made a few recordings this week, on the iPad, that I wanted to convert to smaller sound-bites. I converted the AAC files to WAVs, downloaded them from the built in “HTTP” server, then opened the WAV files in Audacity on my computer. Before I knew it, I was slicing the sound files up without a hitch. I’m so thrilled with this app, I might upgrade to the pro version if I have another case where I might use it. I record audio very infrequently, but am I thankful for a full-featured app like this – the Pro version, available for $1.99, removes a banner ad, and I believe adds the feature to password protect your sound files, so people don’t just open the app and listen. Just as many times before, I can’t believe something so great is out there for free!

Why does my IT guy always tell me to reboot?

Because it works. I wish I could say that more often. But the reality is, it lets us start with a clean slate. Your computer has a lot going on, even when you are only running one or two programs. When a Windows XP computer boots up, around 100 programs and services load with it, and that is on a new PC without a lot installed on it!

Continue reading “Why does my IT guy always tell me to reboot?”

1989 – The Super Mario Brothers Super Show

Hey, Pisano’s, it’s the Super Mario Bros. Super Show!” I can’t begin to tell you the number of times I must’ve shouted those words along with Captain Lou Albano in my living room growing up. Adventures of Nintendo’s famous Mario and Luigi, in cartoon form, swept me away to the Mushroom Kingdom and I never wanted to come back. But the show made us come back to reality, by beginning and ending every episode with live action featuring actors that your parents knew, and a lot of celebrity cameos.

The Super Mario Bros. Super Show would take you through the various environments of the first two games, and featured music and sound effects from the games themselves. It was handled with the care that few other shows based on games would ever get. While others tried hard to change the lore of the games to fit television, the Super Show did its part to keep you immersed in Miyamoto’s world. I loved this show growing up, the live action segments taking place in their basement-apartment in Brooklyn New York, were some of my favorite moments in childhood history. Imagine being an 8 year old in the early 1990’s, when suddenly the wreslter Sergeant Slaughter shows up to talk to the Mario brothers. Wrestling, Video games, and even a little GI Joe, all rolled in to one mind-blowing moment.

After the first two seasons, consisting of 24 episodes each, were the episodes that stand out the mnost in my memories. When I bought many of the boxed-sets on DVD, certain dreams were dashed. Beginning with Super Mario Brothers 3, I was excited to see the new special items and power ups featured in the show, but dropping the live actors hurt the show big time. To fill the remaining time, nearly every episode had a rediculous chase scene coupled with a song that would repeat so many times I literally couldn’t even finish watching the DVDs. I can only imagine what I put my parents through. I didn’t even bother to buy the later Super Mario World episodes – although I distinctly remember watching those shows as well, introducing Yoshi and continuing the saga of the Koopa Kids.

Although it appears as though the DVDs are going to increase in rarity, the show is finally available digitally and can be streamed on Netflix and Amazon’s Instant Video. Enjoy them!

How to convert your offline Gamertag to an Xbox Live account and keep your Achievements and Gamerscore

You bought your Xbox 360, and couldn’t wait to play – now you’ve already gained some Gamerscore, but your account is an “offline account” and not an Xbox Live Account! You don’t want to sign up for a new account, because you’ll lose your Gamerscore and Achievements! Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Continue reading “How to convert your offline Gamertag to an Xbox Live account and keep your Achievements and Gamerscore”

Mortal Kombat 9 – the reboot – a look back

Last weekend, when I thought I would be catching up on my Halo Lore and playing Halo 3, I ended up playing the reboot of Mortal Kombat. Known also as “MK9” – this Mortal Kombat game retold the story of the tournament I loved to sneak off to play as a kid. Those quarters that went in to the arcade cabinet, trying to get as far as I could before my mom finished her trip around the mall. I was always more of a Street Fighter II buff, but Mortal Kombat had a draw to it that few other games did. Even the young geek in me loved the digitized actor sprites that made the characters so realistic for the time. Mortal Kombat had it all.

Over the years the series got more and more strange, and introduced and endless stream of characters. This game brings it back to the core – but still has a few surprises. What I wasn’t expecting was the story mode, which I enjoyed without shame. It tells the a story of Raiden coaching the Earth Realm Kombatants through the tournament. Liu Kang wins the tournament, but the story is only about a third of the way finished there. Little did I realize that the story was going to be several hours worth of fights – lucky for me it was a weekend and I played it through in one sitting!

As usual, I’m several months late to the party, but I wanted to share what was a fun experience. If you skipped all of the Mortal Kombat games since maybe Mortal Kombat 4, well, then you probably didn’t miss much – I don’t feel like I did. A few references are made to other games and even the movies here and there, a nice nod to the people that have been with the series through thick and thin. Overall I’m glad I found this recently and picked it up – I found it enjoyable. If you’re an adult gamer with a tinge of nostalgia for the series you won’t be let down.

One MAJOR thing left out of MSN for Windows 8: technology news

I already had an entirely different article written, on an entirely different topic last night, but the moment I saw this I threw it all out and wrote this article for this morning. As Microsoft and NBC part ways on their several-year MSNBC joint venture, the all new “MSN for Windows 8” website has been unveiled. But it seems to be missing a key ingredient. Continue reading “One MAJOR thing left out of MSN for Windows 8: technology news”

FTP for Windows RT

Update 1: if the idea of the command prompt doesn’t appeal to you, read Clive’s comments below this post for using the Windows Explorer FTP feature, or see my new article about mFTP, a free app from the Windows 8 Store.

Some things we just take for granted. Maybe you’ve used CoffeeCup FTP, FileZilla, or CuteFTP – well whatever you’re used to, it’s not in Windows RT. You just had to get a Microsoft Surface, didn’t you? Haha, it’s okay, so did I. But, since you can’t go back to old familiar stand-by FTP clients, I asked this week what option you have when you need to upload a file to an FTP server in a pinch? Relax, Microsoft has had you covered for over a decade!

Windows RT has a command prompt. It’s true! From the Start Screen, just type three letters: cmd and a command prompt icon will appear. Click that. Look familiar? Good. Now you can type ftp exampleservername.com – and away you go! Perhaps, in yourcase, it’ll be ftp.exampleservername.com, whatever… you should know your own server. The point is, once logged in, you can upload and download files through the command line!

The two biggest things to know: first, by default you’re in ASCII mode, which is for transferring text files – to transfer a binary file, you should switch to BINARY mode. Just type the word “binary” and you’ll switch modes – then you can upload MP3s, JPGs, PNGs, EXEs, and so on. Second: if you are trying to upload or download files to the server, they are coming from and going to whatever folder you were in before you started the client. You can use the “lcd” command to change your local directory, but by default you start out in C:\Users\YOURUSERNAME\.

More commands and important sub commands are available on Microsoft.com, though a simple HELP command will present you with some helpful information.

1944 – Murder, My Sweet

The perfect introduction to the Film Noir genre. For most people my age, the entire genre is a mystery in itself – we never had films like these. When the Max Payne games made their original debut in the 2001, it was our first “Noir” experience. The stoic narration, the flashbacks, the constant “blacking out” and starting over – none of it made much sense, it was just a fun journey to play through. Then I saw Murder, My Sweet.

The movie introduces you to an array of characters, including Moose, who you immediately develop a soft spot for. But as the movie carries on, the plot starts out as a simple bit of detective work and becomes gradually more nefarious. The movie is a spin on The Maltese Falcon, which if my movie history memory serves me correctly, had been made in to about 4 different movies in the span of just one decade… but this one really nails it for me. Everything from lights and camera work, to how shadows cascade across a room – every detail was well thought out in Murder, My Sweet. There is even a scene where our protagonist, Detective Marlowe, gets drugged, and has a fever dream, filled with paranoid dellusions – much as one might remember from the Max Payne games (now re-released on mobile devices!).

Yes, it’s a 1944 black and white detective film. But I go back to this classic over and over, and enjoy the thrill ride every time.

Download to your Xbox 360, when you're not home

Sometimes you have to travel, or you’re out of town. Or, even worse, maybe you had to send your console in for repair. And some times there is a great Deal of the Week, but you won’t be home to claim it – so what do you do?

Microsoft has made the dread of missing out on a good deal a thing of the past. Just hop on to Marketplace.Xbox.com, find the item, and select “purchase.” You’ll be prompted for your Microsoft Account credentials (formerly known as your Windows Live ID), then you can simply confirm the purchase. This will add the game / demo / DLC / avatar clothing item / whatever directly to your download queue. It is already purchased, even if the deal ends in the next ten minutes – you locked in that deal price. Then, the next time you turn on your Xbox 360, it will download to your console automatically!