The Backorder: Final Fantasy VII

Back on WinBreak.com, I started a series of articles called The Backorder. The Backorder would feature either reviews or just a little announcement of sorts that I would be playing a game that I should’ve played long, long ago. It’s time for a new installment of the backorder.



It’s also time for a guilty admission: I never played Final Fantasy VII. It’s not that I never beat it, never finished, never loved it, never hated it… I literally never played it. I have fond memories of watching friends play through it. I watched them traverse some beautifully created hand drawn landscapes, and watched them cast spells with CGI effects that rivalled Hollywood cinema. But I never once took a controller in my hand and led Cloud and co. on their journy.

It’s true, and I’m not too ashamed to admit it. I’m not a big RPG fan. I always hated combining items, or being over-encumbered, or not knowing when to use which armor against what attack… the games had too many little details to pay attention to. I’m a gamer-jock: I just wanna go in and blow stuff up. So I never played many RPG’s, and most that I did, I never finished. But I’ve looked back at several and decided this might be the year I finish a lot of games that I started ages ago (or never started at all), particularly those in the RPG genre. I’m thinking this year will involve Final Fantasy VII, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, and Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars. But I have to start with the game that gets every person I know to say “you know what the best time of all time might’ve been?”

My quest isn’t just to play the game, it’s really an attempt to find out what made non gamers, girl gamers, boy gamers, hard-core gamers, JRPG gamers — so many different people — all say how much they love this game. I started playing it again, and I’m only 30 minutes in. I have to tell you, the graphics don’t hold up well. It’s blockier than I remember it being, I can see why people are begging for an HD Remake. But the combat is tight, the soundtrack is still incredible, and the action is still palpable. I’m looking forward to getting to know my characters and playing through the story that spawned an entirely new generation of RPG fans and really gave rise to a new era of JRPG gameplay elements. I’m hoping to see what everybody else saw. The kind of thing that makes people want to pay over $200 for the “black label” edition of the game.

If you have any particular memories you wish to share, or tips for me while I’m playing Final Fantasy VII, feel free to share them below!

My latest addiction is TWiT.tv

I wish I were on TWiT.tv. A lot. I watch it, literally daily, and it both educates and entertains me. The TWiT network started, essentially, as a dream back in the days back of TechTV. When it morphed in to G4 TV and became more about entertainment than the real tech, several members of the old guard, the first tech evangelists, the true technology journalists all banded together and began This Week in Tech, TWiT. Several years after it began, it has taken off as the premiere network for all types of technology, including broadcast radio technology, daily tech news headlines, a question and answer program called The Tech Guy, ham radio, Google Specific, Android Specific, MacBreak weekly, Windows Weekly, gaming headlines and several other daily live webcasts on live.twit.tv, which can are recorded and released as podcasts for people who can’t join live. For those who can join live, there’s also a chat room. The community is busy, and a very fun group of people.

I used to listen to several weekly podcasts… including KOXM, TalkRadar, One Of Swords, Major Nelson’s podcast, and so many more. I always thought about doing my own podcast. Just a weekly thing, talking about whatever came to mind – or whatever my blog was about at that time. I even thought it would be neat to do something like A Life Well Wasted – produced like a radio broadcast news article. But I’ve never so much as bought a microphone. I’m afraid I won’t be interesting, won’t have the time to podcast, or won’t have anybody to podcast with (one man pod casts get pretty boring). So I’ve never gone ahead and recorded anything, other then a few clips for other shows (very few of them made it to air). But a man can still dream, and while dreaming, he can be educated and engaged by something as fascinating, and hopefully long-lasting & succesful as the TWiT Network.

Scanner Radio for Android

Scanner Radio is an Android app I have been using for a while. The base model, a free app, lets you stream police and emergency responder radio feeds to your phone. There is a pro app and plugins which can enhance the experience, even going so far as to add chat. You can use a “near me” function to allow the app to use the GPS in your phone to provide you with the closest feeds relevant to your area.

I was reminded ofthe app last weekend when I was sitting at home hearing lots of sirens in my neighborhood. By the time I thought to turn on the app, there was no chatter about what was going on. But I left the app running for a few minutes and suddenly a full blown police chase had broken out in Rochester, New York! This spontaneous, random event turned my day from a groggy Saturday morning in to the edge of my seat drama! I was listening, live, as it all went down.

The police initiated a chase. The vehicle was identified as a stolen vehicle. The suspect wanted, allegedly for multiple robberies and home invasions that same morning. Once the police involved in the chase were over 80 MPH and the suspect was reportedly over 100, they called off the chase. Minutes later the car is spotted in a nearby township and the chase resumes. The suspect drives erratically, trying to escape, “westbound in an eastbound lane” and “running stoplights” are reported in. The chase is put on hold once more – when moments later another officer trying to respond to the scene sees the car. The suspect hops out of the car and takes off on foot. After a tense minute: “suspect apprehended” chatters out of the my cell phone. The good guys won! And through all of it, I was part of the adventure. A real life action sequence, that unfolded before me by happenstance, all thanks to Scanner Radio.

If you missed the link above, yes, it really happened.

Awesome Windows 7 Wallpapers and Themes Straight from Microsoft!

In my job in the help desk, I remove a lot of viruses. A lot of times these viruses come down with fancy screen savers, wall papers, and general themes designed for specific holidays or whatever the reason may be. To avoid viruses, I advise people to download their themes straight from Microsoft. Unlike the good old days where themes were complex, large, and not even that great, the new themes for Windows 7 are stunning, awesome, beautiful, amazing, cool, stellar – pick your adjective. You can see just one of the many wallpapers below, in the screenshot where I describe how to get to these themes.

Many themes, like many of the stock Windows 7 themes, include multiple wallpapers which your computer will cycle through periodically. They will automatically adjust the “Aero Glass” color scheme, and most will change the sound scheme, though most don’t include new soundscapes – they just use the ones that came with Windows 7. My favorites are fractal art, dark abstracts, and ice water. That’s right, ice water. High definition photographs of ice cubes in water. There’s a similar, more colorful theme called party ice.

To access them, go to the desktop of your own computer. Minimize everything so you just so your existing wallpaper and desktop icons. Right click off in an empty space on your desktop, then click Personalize at the very bottom of the right click context menu. From there, look for the link option that says “Get more themes online.” I have linked to it in the text, but if you ever need to find it again, that’s how easily you can get to the page.

Once you’re on that page, pick your theme, and click the download link. When prompted, just click RUN instead of Save – the theme will download and store itself on your computer automatically. You don’t have to worry about where the downloaded file went, the theme will be installed just by selecting Open! Even if you change themes later, you can always go back to the personal menu and switch between your themes!

The themes themselves traverse the entire spectrum: dark and brooding, colorful and happy, game related (Halo, Gears of War, Bullet Asylum and more games have hi-resolution wallpapers on this page), landscapes, hi-def photography, Christmas, Valentines Day, Halloween, Year of the Dragon, Rabbit, Tiger… the list goes on and on. Download these high definition themes for free, from Microsoft.