Tag Archives: Weekend

The Father’s Day Blitz

Electronic Junk

With less than a week to go until Father’s Day, the ridiculous parade of allegedly dad-focused marketing is already well upon us.  On the way to work this morning, I heard a countless number of commercials trying to convince me to buy my dad a new cell phone.  On TV, I’ve survived a constant barrage of pleas to pick up new flat-screen sets, stereo equipment, and various implementations of carpentry hardware.  Online, it’s been cameras, camcorders, USB memory sticks, hard drives, and all sorts of other computer gadgetry.

Each holiday it gets worse.

I’m not against the idea of getting someone a thoughtful gift, either.  I think that if your dad has been pining for something for a while and you’ve got the means to get it for him, then maybe you should.  But isn’t the whole idea of the holiday lost when you’re stuck in some infinite loop of trying to one-up last year’s gift with something more and more expensive and outrageous?

The idea of buying someone a cell phone as a gift is utterly absurd to me.  A cell phone is a personal thing that you should shop for yourself, since you’re the one who’s going to be using it most of the time.  Not only that, but if the gift receiver doesn’t have a cell phone already, he / she’s going to be stuck with a new monthly bill, thanks to your thoughtfulness.

The notion of gifting a new television is just as bad.  As if people need another $1,000+ added to their burgeoning credit debt.

Since when did the idea of showing your appreciation for someone include buying them a menagerie of electronic gizmos?

While retail world is busy buzzing in peoples’ ears about its newest pile of shiny garbage, I’ll be taking a quiet trip up to the country to my parents’ house.  I’ll probably end up wrestling with some technology anyway; I hear my dad’s been having some computer problems.  But I think that he’ll appreciate the help a lot more than being saddled with an unwanted new cell phone.

Unfortunately, the balance of the entire universe will be thrown off anyway – because for Mother’s Day, I only sent a card this year.  Sorry mom!

Image courtesy of Creative Recycling


Dead Space Secured

I found myself in the local Target today, perusing the games section of the electronics department.  Game releases have all but dried up over the last few months, but I always like to check in now and then, just to see if anything new came out that slipped under my radar, or to see if anything I’d been marginally interested in had been marked down.

Surprisingly enough, I found a single copy of Dead Space, which I’d wanted to try, marked down to $30 for clearance, so I decided to give it a go.  I took it up to the register, and waited a few minutes for one of the clerks to notice me standing there.

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The Weekend Rental

Late Friday afternoon my girlfriend and I found ourselves wandering around Blockbuster, suffering from that affliction everyone gets when they go into Blockbuster Video without a real idea of what they want to get – slack-eyed, drooling, wandering slowly, aimlessly, watching endless amounts of videos scroll by as you move around the perimeter of the store.

I stumbled across a whole shelf where at least a hundred copies of Love Guru were supposed to have gone.

I spotted a growing plague of Blu-Ray movies.  I’m going to stop going to Blockbuster if they ditch DVD’s in favor of that trash.

And then, just as I was nearing the end of the alphabetically arranged wall, I spotted Wall-E, and remembering I had wanted to see the movie, snatched up one of the few remaining copies.  My girlfriend couldn’t find anything herself, so we snapped out of the delirium, paid, and drove home.

We had a quick dinner, took care of the few things around the apartment, and settled in to watch the movie.

From the opening montage of a trashed earth to the film’s glorious finale, I was both moved and impressed by Pixar’s latest film.  I won’t discuss the plot in detail, since I don’t want to spoil the movie for anyone.  If you haven’t seen Wall-E yet though, go out and rent it – it’s worth the monetary, physical, and emotional cost of visiting Blockbuster (or whoever you rent movies from).

I went into Wall-E not knowing anything about the setting, the characters, or the plot.  I’d not read anything about it, save for a few minuscule complaints (and counter-complaints) about the “message” within the plot and something about the Apple noise being played in the film.  The few ads I’d seen on TV were vague.  Being a fan of Pixar films though, I was intrigued by the look of Wall-E despite having no real exposure to any media surrounding it.

The story follows Wall-E, the last surviving Waste Allocation Load Lifter Earth-Class robot as he goes about his daily routine helping to clean up a ruined Earth, his friendship with another robot with a much different directive, and their adventure as they do all sorts of roboty things to help make the world a better place to live.  One thing I found really refreshing in all of this is that the two robots communicate almost entirely with gestures, as neither has the ability to perform advanced vocals of any kind.  Through much pantomiming you learn a lot more about Wall-E, his friend, and their plight than you might have if the film had included more traditional dialog between the two bots, and this mechanic of storytelling really helps you feel the same sense of curiosity that Wall-E feels as he travels around and discovers new things.

The story is complimented by some of the best visuals I’ve seen in a Pixar movie to date, as well as a musical score that speaks to the same inquisitive nature of film’s protagonist.  I could go on and on about how much I enjoyed the visuals and host of sounds in the movie, but I’ll cut that short and simply say that I was impressed, and I really think Pixar went above and beyond with Wall-E.  This movie was fun, entertaining, and has a great message about the future, about friendship, and the rewards of teamwork, and it’s got my complete recommendation.

After finishing Wall-E, I continued my bonding experience with the couch and watched some other movie on one of the time-limited movie channels I have, and then went back to my computer to play around with Terragen 2 sky boxes.  I finally igured out why those seams were showing up on the edges.  It was a good night.

Back From Thanksgiving

I’m finally back from my Thanksgiving holiday at my parents’ house, and I can hardly believe it’s already December!  Where has this year gone?

Anyway, I had a couple of things I wanted to post today, the first being a duo of clips from The Simpsons, found earlier on Engadget (and which I assume aired last night), where Apple becomes the target of Matt Groening’s irreverent humor when the Springfield mall gets its first Mapple store.  The funniest part of the two clips is when Bart hijacks the audio system in the store and puts some (quite truthful) words into Steve Jobs’ Mobs’ mouth.  Good stuff!

Update – Well, the YouTube videos are down, but if you live in the U.S., you can watch for free on Hulu.

The next thing I wanted to post, also a video, is a new trailer released yesterday for the Black Mesa mod – a Half-Life 2 mod that is looking to recreate the original Half-Life with the Source engine, but with more content, higher resolution textures and models, and environments that take better advantage of the engine than Valve’s original port of the game.  Normally I don’t get too excited over Source engine mods, since they rarely make good on their promises, or even get finished for that matter, but the amount of polish that has gone into this trailer makes me hope otherwise for Black Mesa.  You can view the trailer below, and find out more about the mod at the official site.

I played through a huge chunk of Half-Life 2 this holiday weekend, so I guess I’m a little bit excited about Half-Life in general again.

I’m glad to see that people found my recent set of examples interesting too, and I hope to get a fixed GM6 version of the 3D Rain example up sometime tonight.  Sorry about the slow rain example, I’ll play with it and see if I can get something up that’s a little easier on the older machines soon as well!

That’s all for now – thanks for reading, and I hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving (or just a good weekend if you’re not from the U.S.)!

Update – I’ve made a new GM6 file that should run better than the previous rain example, and which should load correctly in GM6.  The area that the rain covers is a bit smaller than the original example, and the rain is a bit more sparse, but you should get the idea.

You can download the new example here (1.26 mb).

Gearing Up For BlizzCon

Soon my brother and I will be packing up and getting ready for what will hopefully be a fun two days down in Anaheim, as we attend BlizzCon 2008!

I’ve been so busy with work and other things over the last few days, I haven’t really had time to even think about it, but now that we’re a day before the event I’m getting very excited about going.  After only a short flight and a quick ride, we’ll be heading over to the Anaheim Convention Center and getting an early start on the long days Blizzard has planned.

I don’t have much more to say for now, other than I’m getting more excited as the event draws closer.  If you’re interested in seeing BlizzCon but weren’t able to get tickets, Blizzard’s apparently struck a deal with DirectTV for a live PPV broadcast, so you might be interested in that.  Either way, with upcoming games like StarCraft 2 and Diablo 3, it should be a great show, and I will be back to say more about everything when I can!