April 2006 Archives

Movie Madness


As of late, I've been catching up on movies that I missed. Here's a short list of the movies I've seen in the past few weeks:

    The Good

  • King Kong
    Maybe someday Peter Jackson will make short movies again, but I doubt it.
  • Reservoir Dogs
    This movie is little more than an hour and a half. Made back when Tarantino knew how to edit.
  • Almost Famous
    Great movie. Awesome performance by the cast on this movie. A niche movie about rock and roll and groupies.
  • Blackhawk Down
    I enjoyed it, although some of the elements of film are gruesome. Apparently the film was made in Morocco.
  • Vertigo
    Jimmy Stewart and Kim Novak in Alfred Hitchcock's masterpiece.
  • Hotel Rwanda
    Brutal and compelling. Don Cheadle stars as Paul Russebagina, who manages to house over a thousand refugees in Hotel Milles Collines during the Rwandan genocide. A good movie, but probably not something I could watch again.
  • The Mask of Zorro
    Anthony Hopkins and Antonio Banderas. A really fun movie, but the backstory runs way long.
    The Funny

  • Along Came Polly
    Jennifer Aniston and Ben Stiller in a toilet humor romantic comedy. Ben Stiller plays a insurance agent whose wife (Debra Messing of Will and Grace) ditches him for a scuba instructor (played by Hank Azaria) on their honeymoon.
  • The Wedding Crashers
    Vince Vaughn, Owen Wilson and Christopher Walken are great in this movie. Rachel McAdams is super cute in this movie.
  • Jackie Brown
    An adaptation of an Elmore Leonard book, it's a good caper movie with snappy dialogue that feels very Tarantino.
    The Unwatchable

  • Confessions of a Dangerous Mind
    I've decided. I don't like Charlie Kaufman scripted movies. I think it's the internal monologue of the character (who is always a loser) that just transforms a 2 hour movie into a 2 hour pity party. Because the characters are often so unlikeable, it's hard to have any sympathy for them.
  • Brother Bear

    In the making of feature of this movie, it was revealed that this film was only made because Michael Eisner, happy with the success of the Lion King, asked whether there were other animal movies on the process and green-lighted Brother Bear. The result is an all-too-generic Disney movie with singing animals.
  • League of Extraordinary Gentlemen
    This movie felt like a B-movie, despite the A-movie budget.
  • I, Robot
    Asimov is rolling in his grave over this adaptation. And of course, the evil robots have red eyes.
  • Minority Report
    The special effects are neat, the movie is based on a Phillip K. Dick story, but it could have been any generic Tom-Cruise-gets-betrayed-by-someone-and-is-on-the-run movies.
  • Bourne Supremacy
    I expected good things, having really enjoyed watching the Bourne Identity, but as far as sequels go, it wasn't anywhere as interesting as the original.
    The Sleeping Potion
  • From Hell
    Johnny Depp (Jack Sparrow), Heather Graham (Felicity Shagwell), Ian Holm(Bilbo Baggins) and Robbie Coltrane (Hagrid) in a movie adaptation of a graphic novel about Jack the Ripper. Despite the cast and the performances, this one put me to sleep rather quickly.

Pirate Baby's Cabana Street Fight 2006


Paul Robertson animated a film in the style of a old school Nintendo Gameboy Game. It's exactly the type of game I would have played when the B/W Gameboy came out, and I see this film as an homage to the old Capcom and Konami side-scrollers.
Download Pirate Baby's Cabana Street Fight 2006 [video link] by Paul Robertson

Aviator Laptop Stand


When I travel, one of the things I like to do is bring along a laptop computer. What I don't like to do is actually try and use the laptop on the plane. Since most of my flights are between San Francisco and Los Angeles, which is usually little more than an hour, by the time I pull out the laptop it's time to put it away again. But there have been flights of longer distance and longer duration that I've had to endure where it would be nice to pull out the laptop, get some writing done, and maybe watch a movie or two. Airline seats are so uncomfortable, and tray tables don't always provide the best ergonomics for computing, but Keynamics has released the Aviator Laptop Stand.
The Aviator Laptop Stand is made of three pieces of durable plastic. Two of the pieces have rubber grips attached to them to grip the table surface and the computer, while the other piece serves as a stabilizer bar to form the center of the stand. It disassembles into a flat package, making it easy to carry. It adds height and angle to make typing more comfortable.
I'll field test this on my next trip, and I expect it to do quite nicely.
Keynamics Aviator Laptop Stand
Flickr Photoset: Keynamics Aviator Laptop Stand

Why Being Original is Important


Recently, the authors of Holy Blood, Holy Grail sued DaVinci Code author Dan Brown. Dan Brown won the lawsuit because it was clear to anyone who had read the books that the two were quite different from one another. However, Kaavya Viswanathan had her books pulled from the shelves, when it was discovered that the Harvard sophomore had borrowed heavily from books by Megan McCafferty.

    Similarities to McCafferty's books, which include "Sloppy Firsts" and "Second Helpings," were first spotted by readers. They alerted McCafferty, who in turn notified her publisher. Crown alleges that at least 40 passages "contain identical language and/or common scene or dialogue structure."

Originality is one of those things that can make you in any industry, and plagiarism is one of those things that can definitely break you in whatever field you are in. The reason being that whatever field you are in, there are experts -- people who know the niche and who can spot the copycats. And while sometimes copycats do manage to get away for a little while (see Rob Liefeld), they are eventually discovered, and their reputation goes down the toilet after that.
It's not irrecoverable (after all, Rob Liefeld still works) but as an artist or a writer, do you really want to be known as that person that copied some other famous person's work? At the end of the day, your reputation is the thing that follows from one work to the next.

The Game Console Formerly Known as the Nintendo Revolution


It seems the Nintendo Revolution has a new name: the Nintendo Wii (pronounced 'We'. Spokesperson Perrin Kaplan told Reuters: "While the code-name Revolution expressed our direction, Wii represents the answer". I liked the name the Revolution better. Before Revolution, I believe the project was known as Dolphin. The Wii is definitely poised to be the system for everyone, and it's likely the one that I will stand behind as a gamer.

Google releases SketchUp for Free


When Google first announced the purchase of SketchUp, I didn't think they'd give away a $500 program for free. It turns out I was mistaken, because Google has just released SketchUp for Free (PC only at this time, Mac on the way), with a Pro version (for commercial use) costing $500.

What's the gas price?

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I was shocked yesterday when I pulled up to the gas pump at the gas station. $3.37 a gallon for premium unleaded. The customer before me had $70 dollars worth of regular unleaded at $3.17 a gallon.
Gasbuddy has a national map of average gasoline prices. It's interesting to note the deep red areas seem to be primarily isolated to the coasts, and the green areas are all around Montana, Utah, Idaho and Wyoming. You can zoom in and get more detail on the price of gasoline in that area.
According to the recent story on CNN drivers in Southern California are deliberately running out of gas on the freeways and waiting for rescue to arrive.

    Lujan's 20 trucks roam the busy freeways of Orange and Los Angeles counties as part of a publicly funded patrol that gives a free gallon of gas to drivers who have run out of fuel. It also offers other basic assistance to drivers whose vehicles have broken down.
    "You say to some of them 'hey, you've run out of gas' and they say 'yeah, it's too expensive.' I think the percentage is going to increase," Lujan said.
    Moshe Ben Dayan, whose TipTopTow company performs a similar service in Los Angeles' affluent west side, said some people were taking advantage of the freeway service patrol.
    "There was one guy a while back who was stopping every morning and trying to get his one free gallon," said Dayan. "I think it is going to be more drastic when the price of gas is closer to $4 a gallon."

Apple announces 17 inch MacBook Pro


Apple announced the 17 inch MacBook Pro today (which will begin shipping next week) fixes a couple of the criticisms of the 15 inch MacBook Pro by offering 3 USB 2.0 ports (instead of 2), a Firewire 800 port (along with a Firewire 400 port) and a 8X DL Superdrive (instead of just a 4X Superdrive). It has a screen res of 1680 x 1050 (same as 17-inch Powerbook), and a 120 GB hard drive. Considering that a 2.16 GHz 15-inch will cost the same as a 17-inch GHz MacBook Pro, the 17 inch MacBook Pro looks like quite the bargain for professionals. Weighing in at 6.8 pounds, (0.1 pounds lighter than the PowerBook G4 17-inch), the 17 inch also has a larger battery, providing up to 5.5 hours of battery life (as opposed to 4.5 on the 15 inch MacBook Pro).
Previously, I didn't see much value in getting the 17-inch Powerbook, which was essentially trading the weight of the larger battery for additional screen size. The additional features when compared to the 15-inch bear consideration if upgrading any options on the 15-inch MacBook Pro.

Maker Faire 2006


Today kwc, horizonlines and I went to the Maker Faire on the San Mateo Fairgrounds. I was surprised at the scale of the Maker Faire -- I had expected mostly booths, set up outdoors, showing off various home electronics kits, and a couple of higher profile do-it-yourself projects. Instead, what the Maker Faire featured was all manner of size and scope of do-it-yourself projects -- from needlepoint and sewing to a functional walking robotic giraffe. In some ways it felt like a science fair run by adults -- all manner of engineers and hobbyists showing off their projects.
We started off by test driving the Xebra from Zap, a 3-wheeled, 4-door electric car. Capable of reaching up to 40 miles per hour, we drove around the track. The interior decor of the Xebra is quite plain, and some of the controls seem antique, but it's still pretty cool that it's all electric. There's no noise starting up the vehicle, and aside from some of the squeeks and rattles as the prototype moved around the test track.
My personal favorite of the things I saw at Maker Faire was an art installation called Constellation, which used an iSight camera, a computer and an LCD projector to create a silouette of the camera image and create a night filled sky with stars, which were then movable.



O-kami is a new game by Clover which uses traditional Japanese-style art prints and cel-shaded animation to create a nature adventure game.
Video: O-kami

Reusing Airplane Bits


In a architectural competition for the new Jalisco Library in Guadalajara, Mexico, NY architectural firm LOT-EK submitted a design using refurbished airplane fuselages from 737s and 727s.

    "The fuselage becomes the basic module of this building. It is insulated and furnished according to the program. The internal subdivision generated by the existing floor joists is used to respond to functional needs: the upper section is used for inhabitation while the lower one houses independent and interconnected mechanical systems: HVAC, electrical, cabling, and a conveyor belts network for the mechanical distribution of the books."

Gimme a break of that Kit Kat bar

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Of candy bars, Kit Kat is my favorite, a combination of wafer covered in a thin layer of chocolate. Kit Kat bars are so dangerous that I refuse to go down the candy/snack aisle in Costco for the fear that I will purchase one of their bulk boxes of Kit Kat (which would be devoured quite quickly).
A Kit Kat of this size would be death to me. It's a good thing that all the ingredients used in the construction of this enormously super-sized candy bar are British, else I would be tempted to try this at home. Britons have a larger variety of KitKat bars than we have in the States -- the gigantic bar pictured here is the chunky peanut butter variant of the KitKat family. I've heard that there's Dark Chocolate and Mint varieties of Kit Kat as well.
One of these days, I will try this recipe with US ingredients, and then I will explode from my gluttony. But at least I'll be happy.

Ocean's Twelve (Widescreen Edition)


Longest Commute


The longest commute I had was when I was living in San Jose and commuting to Redwood City -- 29 miles each way, for a total of 58 miles each day. That's nothing compared to Dave Givens, who spends a total of 7 hours commuting each day travelling a total of 372 miles. Dave Givens makes a 186 mile commute to Cisco.

    Givens is the "ultimate road warrior," according to Midas Inc. (NYSE:MDS) and drove home with its first-place prize in the nationwide search for "America's Longest Commute." Givens out-drove thousands of other entrants to take home $10,000 in gas money and a range of maintenance services and products.

It doesn't say what he drives, but I'm putting my money on the Prius. If he drives a Prius, that's anywhere from 6 to 8 gallons a day, or about $25 at today's current gas prices. If he drives something more conventional, it'd be almost double that cost, and you can triple or quadruple that cost by driving a SUV.
$500 a week is tough to spend on gas, but $125 is a little more doable.

Dell's New XPS Gaming Laptop


I don't like gaming on laptops. The keyboard's too small, a trackpad is nigh unusable for all but the most casual of games, the graphics and sound quality is sub par, and for the price of a gaming laptop, you could have a pretty nice configuration for your desktop and still have money leftover for your living room entertainment center for the same price. That being said, for those corporate executive types that can authorize their own purchases of equipment, Dell's new XPS M1710 Gaming Laptop is packed to the gills with an Intel Core Duo processor, NVIDIA GeForce Go 7900 GTX 256MB or 512MB graphics, up to 4GB of RAM, SerialATA hard disk and a 17-inch 1600x1200 display. Prices start at $2600, while a fully loaded M1710 with all the options will cost $3855. It looks like Dell isn't wasting anytime with their Alienware purchase.

Hollywood Casting of Asian Actors for Dummies


Today parakkum posted about racial diversity in entertainment, and mentioned that I knew right off the bat who he was talking about in 16 Blocks, because there's really only two choices when casting a Chinese restauranteur in Hollywood:
Kim Chan (below), who is typically the proprietor of a hole in a wall Chinese restaurant (or in the picture's case, the owner of a futuristic flying Chinese restaurant junk)

Or James Hong (below) who is usually in a black suit typically owns a Chinese restaurant that is either being extorted for money or the one doing the extorting.
The general rule casting directors seem to follow for these two actors is if you need a friendly old Chinese restaurant owner who helps the characters, you hire Kim Chan. Nothing bad usually happens to Kim Chan's character, although it's not uncommon for him to be beaten up and left for dead. If you need an old Chinese guy to be either the victim or the villain on TV or in a movie, you hire James Hong. James usually doesn't get beaten up or killed, and quite often he's the man the heroes need to stop. Because of his stiff demeanor, he's often cast as an ambassador/diplomat, a triad boss, or a businessman (usually of ill repute). James as been in numerous televison shows as the Chinese man/grandfather/gangster boss.

Victor Wong (above) was the stereotypical eccentric old Chinese man -- he usually got to play Grandpa or "supernatural" type characters such as a fortune teller. He died in 2001, so Hollywood currently needs a new eccentric old Chinese man.
Other Asian men in Hollywood in the extended. Everyone on this list has been on film and television for over twenty years, with over half of the actors having been born in the United States. These actors, mainly Chinese and Japanese have played several different ethnicities that are not their own, including Thai, Phillipino, Tibetian, Vietnamese, Singaporean, Korean, Hawaiian, and Irish.

More Women than Men Are Gaming?


The New York Times reports that 65% of women age 25-34 play video games, while only 35% of men age 25-34 play video games. The study was released by by the Consumer Electronics Association.
They cite the difference in game types, as men more likely to be playing console games (such as Xbox 360, PS2 and Nintendo), while women are more likely playing casual games, "like Minesweeper, Solitaire or Tetris".

DC Comics Loses Copyright to Superboy


According to a recent article in Comic Book Resources, Judge Harold S.W. Lew of the Ninth Circuit District Court ruled that the heirs to the creator of Superboy (Jerry Siegel's wife and daughter) recaptured the Superboy copyright as of November 17, 2004.

    "The ruling was based upon changes made in 1976 to the Copyright Act, where the length of copyright renewal was extended from 28 years to 47 years, and allowed that any copyright transfers could be terminated so that the original copyright owner (or his/her heirs) could gain the benefit of those extra 19 years of protection (with the presumption being that it would be unfair to the original copyright owners, as any deals they made before the change were based upon the 28 year duration, not 47)."

Interestingly enough, DC Comics still owns the trademark to Superboy.

Pilot G2 Pens

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I'm a big fan of Pilot G2 Pens. They don't seem to dry out as quick as other pens, they're refillable, and they're commonly available for $4-5 for a pack of 4 or 5 or 6 (depending on what their promotion is at the time). The G2 Pilot Pens are made of plastic, retractable, and includes a nice chunky rubber grip. The G2 Pros are little more professional looking, using a slightly heavier plastic, and chromed pieces to give it more of a upscale appearance.
Mont Blanc is one of the brands of very expensive pens that you always see located behind glass cases. There's some renown in them in having some of the finest writing instruments in the world,
Now instructables has put together a tutorial on how to transform a G2 Pilot Pen into a $200 Mont Blanc Pen (they claim $200, I've seen Mont Blancs be available for less than $90) by replacing the Pilot G2 Refill with a Mont Blanc refill ($10 for a package of 2) and snipping off the end of the plastic cap.
Since G2s are pretty much all I use, I've got plenty of empty shells of pens lying around waiting to be refilled, so I gave it a try. It works. You don't even need to cut the end of the tip off if you're happy with not retracting the tip back in. This also works with other Pilot pens that can use the G2 gel ink refill cartridge -- such as the G6.

Emperor Gets a New Job and Other Tales from the Darkside


Wil Wheaton isn't a WoW player


Wil Wheaton has posted an interview with the founder of Metblog: Azeroth, Sean Bonner.

    Sean: Dude, seriously, it's nuts, you should check it out.

    Wil: No way. I lost a year of my life to a MUD, and that was free and just text over telnet. I'm going to have to go to a meeting now, just because you brought it up.

The Chinese Singer

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When I was taking Chinese, my professor would say that tone-deaf people couldn't function in China because you need to to be able to reproduce relative pitch in order to speak the language. Chinese is a tonal language, so you would think that they should always have perfect pitch. However, this video of a
Chinese singer shows that being unable to carry a tune is a universal problem.

Woot-off Update: Hour 37


The woot-off which started yesterday is now at hour 37, with no end in sight. The present item up is the infamous EA Sports Hockey and Football game, which stalled the woot-off for like 5 hours last month, as 1300 units were unloaded. Today they're up again, for the low price of 99 cents.
In the description of the woot, they write:


  • Single-player only - no head-to-head play
  • Simply plug the controller right into your TV and play!
  • No game console required
  • Lightweight, compact, all-inclusive controller allows you to play video games anywhere there is a TV with ATV input jacks
  • Features 2 action-packed sports classics: Madden Football 95 and NHL Hockey 95
  • Requires 4 AA batteries (not included)
  • Please buy these, we are tired of looking at them in the warehouse

The last feature by far is the most amusing one.

Hollywood and Video Games, Part II


A few weeks ago, I blasted the games industry for trying to find a solution in Hollywood, and Hollywood trying to find solutions in games. Yesterday, I read how
Galatica writer-director Ronald D. Moore
is attempting to mimic James Cameron.
"I've thought about doing something where you start a property across mediums, with Internet participation and role-playing video games. Not every show or property will lend itself to that type of hybrid environment, but if you set it up from the get-go to design it that way, I think that's a really rich and interesting place for the business to go."
"In my next film, I can only tell you what we're planning on doing, which is simultaneously developing a major motion picture and, hopefully, a major game title that coexists in the same world that shares characters. Going into that world will actually inform those watching the film and vice versa. I don't want to say anything more than that, because I don't want to give away some of the cool stuff that we're working on."
This is not what the games industry needs, and it's not what Hollywood needs. I understand the logic of Hollywood wanting to get into games -- they think that's where the money is, and they're right to a certain extent. There is money in the games industry.
The structure of games and movies are different, much in the same way that poetry and literature are different. They may use the same tools to compose the works, but fundamentally, they are two very different beasts.
Movies are a passive experience -- everything is experienced vicariously, while video games are much more an interactive experience -- everything feeds back directly. That difference in experiences is what makes a videogame/movie hybrid hard -- you need vicariousness in the movie, and you need a world interesting enough that the player wants to be there and take part in the events that are happening within the videogame world. And of course, things begin to break down when you start to realize that not everyone is going to start watching the show or playing the game at the same time -- so the timing of the flows of information will be different, which will affect how the player perceives the game.
There's a movement for games to be the new storytelling medium. I think as a storytelling medium, it's a relatively weak one.

Aperture 1.1


Today Apple announced the release of Aperture 1.1, which is a Universal Binary. They also dropped the price of Aperture down to $299 (previously it was $499) and are offering those who bought version 1.0 of Aperture a $200 coupon.
For a photographer like me, I always thought that $499 was a large chunk of change to drop on a photo program, especially since programs like Photoshop Elements, Picasa and the free (while it's in Beta) Adobe Lightroom did many of the same functions that Aperture did. At $299, it's still a rather pricy tool, but I'll wait to see what the retail pricing of Lightroom is before I decide which photo processing program I go with.

Google is Guge in China


If you grew up speaking English, when you look at Guge, you probably think it rhymes with huge, making it sound like googe. For a Chinese speaker, "Guge" sounds approximately like goo-geh. Try saying Google without the 'L' sound, and that's kinda what it sounds like. It's not that the Chinese don't have the 'L' sound, but while 'goo-geh-le' is definitely possible, it changes Google, a 2 syllable name into a 3 syllable one in Mandarin Chinese. I'm curious to see what the Chinese characters for 'guge' are. 'gege' is 'big brother' in Chinese, so I'm sure there will be a couple of puns generated from the guge/gege similarity.

    BEIJING (AFX) - Google said it has adopted the Chinese-language brand name 'GUGE' for its Chinese operations.
    At a conference in Beijing, company chief executive Eric Schmidt said the new name demonstrated Google's commitment to China.

In China, there's a movement against foreign words coming into the language. The word 'e-mail' is one of the worst offenders: properly, it should be: dyan yi feng syin, a 4 character word which is just too long, so everyone just uses the english word "e-mail".
"guge" with different tones can also mean "skeleton".



Firefox was released today, the first Universal Binary version of Firefox available for the intel Macintoshes. A rough comparison of the browsers:
Firefox: 3 threads, 31.15 MB of Real Memory, and 363.46 MB of Virtual Memory.

Safari: 6 threads, 15.5 MB of Real Memory, and 355.34 MB of Virtual Memory.

Camino: 4 threads, 21.69 MB of Real Memory 365.41 MB of Virtual Memory.

Star Wars Barset

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Years ago, I used to be quite the Star Wars fanboy. Of course, those of us who grew up as fanboys are now old enough to drive and create Star Wars themed cars, so why shouldn't Lucasfilm licensing allow a set of Star Wars themed bar utensils?
Darth Vader/corkscrew, Yoda/wine stopper, C-3PO/foil cutter, R2-D2/bottle opener.
I'm not so sure about the Yoda wine stopper though -- he didn't work too well on Luke.

Pulp Fiction


Speeding through Katamari


What do you do when you've unlocked everything you possibly can in We Love Katamari? Beat the Levels as fast as you can, of course! There are some truly amazing videos in here, such as doing the first level in 34 seconds!

Nissan GT-R announced


In the racer culture of the U.S., the Nissan Skyline GT-R has a legendary status as being a monster of a sports car that isn't available here. A Japanese Mustang. Some were imported in from Japan and through Canada, while others were shipped in from Japan under Motorex's watch in Southern California. There's probably only a few dozen Skyline GT-Rs in the United States -- a used version of this 10-15 year old car will run you over 50 grand, so they wind up in the hands of the rich car enthusiasts who are willing to go through the extra effort of this almost mystical car.
When the Infiniti G35 came to the US, it marked the first time a Skyline had been officially brought into the United States. Hopes for the GT-R version to be brought over was high amongst enthusiasts, in fact, the biggest uncertainty seemed to be over which brand the GTR would more likely to arrive under -- Nissan or Infiniti? Today that question is answered by the president of Nissan, announcing at the New York Auto Show the car as the Nissan GT-R.

APE 2006


On Sunday, I went to the Alternative Press Expo, held in the Concourse in San Francisco. APE is the independent comics convention for the Bay Area, featuring a lot of small print publishers and local comic shops, as well as the independent self-publishing artist types. I'm always inspired by the local artists, who man their booths and share their art with the world.
The Flight people were there (Kazu Kibuishi,Amy Kim Ganter Erika Moen, Michel Gagne, Chris Appelhans, Neil Babra, Clio Chiang), as were Derek Kirk Kim and Raina Telgemeier.
I attended the Flight panel, and Raina's presentation. Notes on those two sessions are in the extended. I took the notes with my Nokia 6820. My fingers have since recovered from the trauma.

Taxes in a Game Paradigm

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It occurs to me that doing taxes is a lot like playing a game. There's a lot of different types of players in the tax game -- there's those that play the game themselves (by reading the tax book and filling it out the old fashioned way), there's those that use helper programs (like TurboTax and Taxcut), and then there are those that pay others to play the game for them (by hiring an accountant or tax preparer).
A large part of the game is spent hunting down special items that will allow you to beat the game: things like W-2s and bank statements, and receipts. Sometimes purchasing special items like hybrid vehicles or alternative energy sources can give a big boost to your chances of winning.
How much you get back can be considered your score, and there's two bosses: the irs and the state tax board, and even if you manage to 'beat' them, they might come back for a rematch later in the form of an audit. That's one bonus round you don't want to enter into.
Victory against the fed, but a loss against the state. I really need a strategy guide against california.

Chuck Norris: Oblivion Style


Oblivion is the sequel to Morrowind, a computer RPG. Someone was clever enough to remix footage from the game into a Chuck Norris video.

Microsoft buys Lionhead Studios


Peter Molyneux's Lionhead Studios has been sold to Microsoft. The creators of Fable and Black and White will now focus their efforts exclusively on making games for the Xbox and Windows platforms.

Parallels Workstation 2.1 for Mac OS X


Parallels has released a beta of their Workstation virtualization software. Unlike Boot Camp, Parallels doesn't require a restart to run Windows. It should be a good solution for those that want to run alternate OS on a Mac but don't want to leave OS X.

Band of Brothers


Apple Releases BootCamp

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Today, Apple released a free trial version of BootCamp, which will allow Windows XP to be installed on Intel based Macs. BootCamp creates all the necessary drivers for installing Windows, as well as a drive partitioning utility to reallocate drive space for a partition for Windows.
Apple makes it very clear that they do not sell or support Microsoft Windows, and that installing Windows will make you Mac "... subject to the same attacks that plague the Windows world. So be sure to keep it updated with the latest Microsoft Windows security fixes."
So now all you corporate types who want a Mac can go to your boss and justify the purchase by saying "hey, it runs Windows too" (although, for me the point in owning a Mac is never needing to boot into Windows).
BootCamp will also be a part of the next release of OS X 10.5 - Leopard, and I'm curious to see what effect this will have on Microsoft's VirtualPC for the Mac.

Level Burnout in WoW

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Every so often in WoW, I hit a plateau where I don't really feel like playing anymore. Coincidentally, I've noticed, it always happens to be at points where:

  • My quest log is full

    Having my quest log full does two things -- it reminds me that I've got quests I need to accomplish, but it also reins in my explorer tendencies to map the world, because I know that if I continue exploring, I've got to turn down quests. I've found that I enjoy playing most when I have no more than 5 or 6 quests located in a central area.
  • My inventory is full

    Nothing slows me down from leveling more than a full backpack. This isn't even like EQ where the items one carries takes up weight, but rather because I feel bad not being able to loot or destroying items in my bag for higher value drops. Destroying virtual gold makes me sad.
  • My level can be evenly divided 5.

    For some reason, these levels feel like natural stopping points. Part of this, I'm sure, is that while we were making and testing World of Warcraft, the level caps were set in 5 level increments. The level caps were 20, then 30, then 40.
  • Quests are not connected

    There's two types of quests in Everquest -- quests that are basically one-shot quests, and quests that are storyline quests. One shot quests are great for designers who just want to crank out quests -- kill X number of monsters and return to me for your reward, while storyline quests are a pain for a designer because it just involves a lot more work in the dialogue and the event scripting system. But they are definitely more fun to work through, and having that little piece of storyline there makes you feel less like you're on a level treadmill.
  • My Tradeskills have just been upgraded

    Every so often, there are points in learning tradeskills where you need to see a new trainer to receive a new limit on your skill points. When I receive a new limit, I just want to grind to the new limit.

What happens when I hit these burn out points is pretty much one of two things -- either I take a break or I suck it up and continue. Inevitably, I end up returning at some point after the break.

MacBook Pro Update: Third time's the charm


I got my MacBook Pro back Thursday night, and I've been running it pretty hard since then. I'm amazed at how quiet the MacBook Pro is, as well as how fast it is compared to my old TiBook. From the part description, it looks like they replaced the motherboard.

Apple's website has been updated to show the MacBook Pro shipping within 24 hours now instead of the 2 - 3 weeks that was being advertised last week.

World of Warcraft: Burning Crusade


Blizzard has announced the new Burning Crusade expansion set race for the Alliance, Wisps! . According to the Blizzard Website:

    The introduction of Wisps allows a new and exciting game mechanic: permanent death. The ability that destroyed Archimonde is available to all Wisps as a racial ability. This power, Detonate, destroys the Wisp in an explosion of energy, sapping the mana of all surrounding adventurers, friend and foe alike. This should provide an extremely interesting addition to the many adventures of Warcraft, particularly when pitted against other players!
    Racial Traits:

    • Detonate: Destroys the wisp, dispelling all magical buffs and draining 50 mana from each unit in an area around the wisp.
    • Gatherer: Skill to herbalism, mining, and skinning increased by 10.
    • Permanent Death
    • Treeform: Turns the wisp into a tree for 30 seconds. During this time, spirit is increased by 300. However, the wisp's chance to dodge or parry axes is reduced by 50%.

Let's not forget that today is April Fool's Day, and they did a similar joke 2 years ago for the final Horde race, as being the two headed ogre.