It's worth HOW MUCH?

Growing up, I was hooked on clay-mation. Even at a young age, I appreciated the hard work that went in to sculpting your sets and models, then stop-motion filming every tiny movement of your characters. It’s what made me love The Nightmare Before Christmas, and what fascinated me about the Clayfighter games. I had a Nintendo 64 from early on, but by the time ClayFighter 63 1/3rd was released, I was getting more and more into PC games. I played it once or twice, but had pretty much moved on.

More recently, I thought I would maybe give the game another shot. Add it to my collection. All of my friends thought the ClayFighter games were lame and boring when we were young. I figured I’d get the games on the cheap. So shopping around, I could get the SuperNES games (ClayFighter, ClayFighter Tournament Edition, and C2: Judgment Clay) for pretty good deals each. Even ClayFighter 63 1/3rd wasn’t too high of a price. But I always heard there was an updated release that I had never played… much like how ClayFighter later saw ClayFighter T.E. – not quite a sequel, but an “upgrade.” This so called ClayFighter 63 1/3rd “Sculptor’s Cut” should be pretty easy to track down, right?

Boy was I wrong. Prices for this rare Nintendo 64 collectible are $100 and up, just for the cartridge. Have a manual? Or a box? Some buy it now prices on eBay are listed at over $1,000.

Now, I like to think I know my rare games pretty well. The SD Gundam Dimension War game for Virtual Boy, for instance. This title fetches from $1,500 to nearly $4,000 in some cases. But this is to be expected, the Virtual Boy was a short lived console with a limited number of games, and one of the games that didn’t cross international line’s was the Gundam game from Japan, released near the end of the Virtual Boy’s release. Fine, that makes sense. But I never knew what made this specific ClayFighter release so rare.

Evidently, it turns out, that ClayFighter 63 1/3rd Sculptor’s Cut was somehow released as a Blockbuster Exclusive. I had no idea such a thing existed. It only made its way out to rental chains – one of which never existed in my home town. We only had local and regional video rentals… no nationwide company like Blockbuster ever came to my home town. So I had no idea what I was missing out on. The fact that this game was so narrowly released, and later only found into the hands of gamers when stores were going out of business, is what makes it such a hot collector’s item. Don’t doubt for a second: I want it. My addictive personality makes me want it, my love of the ClayFighter games makes me want it, my love for all things Nintendo makes me want it… but holy crap, that’s a lot of money. I won’t be getting it any time soon.

I have a couple of sealed copies of Metroid Prime Trilogy Collector’s Edition for the Wii if anybody wants to trade? I hear that’s already going for hundreds of dollars. When I heard they were going to stop making it for the Wii, I figured it would be re-released as an even bigger collector’s pack, which might include the original trilogy for play on the same disc… but no such release ever showed up. Nintendo just stopped producing the Metroid Prime Trilogy discs. So when I stumbled across the last 3 in my local target a few years ago, I snagged them up and have been holding on to them.

Sometimes you need to invest in rare collectables. Sometimes you collect for collecting’s sake. Like the $75 price tag on a boxed Super Metroid game… it’s not the most valuable or rare game, but there’s just something about having it on your shelf that’s rewarding. Or take Custer’s Revenge, an Atari 2600 game that often goes for over $100 on eBay. The game is practically unplayable and there isn’t much to it, but it’s extremely controversial and historic past make it one of the items I’m quite happy to have in my collection (boxed and sealed, no less). It’s always interesting to see the values attached to things I remember from my childhood. Something that you could buy for $50 brand new, or for $1 at a yard sale… might now be worth a small fortune. Keep your eyes peeled, a yard sale find could be a treasure chest waiting to be sold on eBay!

The cocktail party effect gets new research

I’ve always been fascinated by “the cocktail party effect.” It’s what lets you focus on what the person in front of you is saying, even when you’re in a busy room. Recent research indicates that a person with ADHD has a much harder time differentiating the speaker they want to pay attention to from the rest of the crowd. Further research in to this may help prove that these kids aren’t hyperactive, or amped up on too much sugar; they don’t need medication to slow them down, but their brains are wired wrong for selective hearing. Finding the proper treatment for that is going to do much more for kids than doping them up!

I’ve always been interested in the cocktail party effect because I remember as a little kid sitting in the back seat of my parents’ mini van while we were heading out of town. My grandparents were in the car… my dad and grandfather would talk, my mom and grandmother would talk, and I sat in the way back and played my Gameboy. But I was always fascinated that they could understand each other through all the noise. As I grew older, I realized that if you were paying attention to one person, you may not even realize the other people around you are even talking. Then I worked on another skill. Listening without watching.

The study shows that it is easier to focus on what a person is saying when you can look at them. To test this, they played a video of two people talking at the same time (a very short clip of this video can be seen on NPR’s website). The video allows you to focus on one of the two speakers, and then tell someone that person’s story. But if you try to focus on the male speaker, while listening to the female speaker, it is possible, but it’s much harder. You, essentially, must force yourself to be distracted by what someone is saying, rather than giving your undivided attention to someone who is speaking directly to you.

This is how we master the art of eavesdropping. There’s eavesdropping, and then there’s expertly hearing what is going on around you. I actually consider myself fairly well skilled in my ability to hear multiple conversations at one time. Multitasking is key, and I think researchers in the future will begin to see a pattern developing that generations who grew up with this constant need for stimulation are better at having their brains taxed with tasks like this. I was able to pick apart both conversations when I heard them together, and I do this every day in my job.

I’ve been called “Radar,” an homage to the M*A*S*H character who often knew what others would say before they said it and knew when medical choppers were incoming before anybody else. I’ve been asked if I have eyes in the back of my head, but really I just have a skill that I can’t turn off. It’s by no means flawless, but I’ve always been quite happy with this sense that I am plugged in to what’s going on around me, even as I walk through a crowded mall. Whenever new research comes out on the cocktail party effect, I love reading up on the latest things uncovered.

mFTP for Windows RT

If you prefer a GUI for your FTP clients, you can open the file explorer (the folder icon in desktop mode) and enter in the address bar. Also, a developer has released a free FTP program on the Windows 8 Store.

mFTP opens to a simple interface. You specify the server address, username, password, and port (21 is the default for most FTP servers). Once logged in you can browse through your folders. To upload a file, right click or swipe up from the bottom of the screen. Select upload, then choose your file. In the lower right, click “Open” to begin the upload.

What is Windows Blue?

I wondered when I was going to use the Windows Mobile Marketplace logo again. It seems suitable this time. Microsoft fan sites have rumors of Windows Blue flying all over the place. We don’t know much, and some of the articles I’m reading are crossing themselves trying to explain what they think it is. Here’s my take on Windows Blue.

Windows Blue is what most people would call Windows 8 Service Pack 1. But don’t think of it as a service pack. Think of it as an upgrade. Because Microsoft is most likely going to charge a modest fee (honestly? I’m hoping it’s $20. If it’s much more than that, Microsoft will probably blow their chance, have to release it for free, and refund people’s money). They’re trying to cramp Apple’s style and get in on the pricing model much like how Apple has released several releases to OSX in the form of Snow Leopard, Lion, and Mountain Lion.

If you were around for the transition to Windows XP Service Pack 2, you should understand what I mean when I say “upgrade” rather than just a service pack. Microsoft had every right to charge full price for Windows XP SP2. It replaced swaths of the operating system, it almost eliminated most Kernel differences between Home and Pro versions of Windows XP. For all intents and purposes, it was one of the largest operating system releases Microsoft never had! There were new features, additional support for new features, future-proofing the operating system in a way that hadn’t been done before. And it was all behind the scenes. Blue is supposed to really be a major step for Windows as brand.

It’s been discussed, but my theory as that Blue will unify the code bases of Windows Phone, Windows RT, and Windows 8. An app designed for one, will run on any. Blue has support for many resolutions, which is prepping it for things like a Microsoft Surface Mini. I anticipate a Surface Mini would likely run Windows RT (it would be hard to fit an x86 processor in such a small package with passive cooling – an Intel i5 would melt the plastic!), but if Blue does what we expect, it’s going to simplify the “app” Store a great deal and broaden the audience of developers in one quick move. People don’t want to develop for Windows Phone because it hasn’t seen mass adoption. But if you could develop your app and release it to every Windows Phone, Windows RT, and Windows 8 device with just a few clicks? Suddenly you have a massive audience which will grow by the day.

Rumors abound that Microsoft’s Windows team hit their first Milestone with Blue just a few weeks ago, and if it stays on schedule we’ll see an RTM in the summer, and early in the fall we should be getting access to Windows Blue. Time will tell what all that really means, but I’m pretty excited – and surprised at how little chatter there has been! I mention this to other people in the tech industry and they haven’t even heard of Blue! Open your eyes and ears, because it’ll be here before you know it! And whether it’s free or paid, I don’t care. I’ll be all over it!