Random Thoughts

I’m a Windows user. I have been for a long time. Lately, I’m a frustrated Windows user.

You see, I had to do a reload of Windows XP recently. When I did the reload, I made a slipstream disc with all the patches, etc. included so I could load it quickly and easily and not have to spend days downloading security patches and service packs. The slipstream disc included Windows XP Service Pack 2, which just seemed wise considering the security holes in earlier versions of Windows.

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There seems to be a lot of misinformation out there in regards to the high definition format war. Hopefully this will help clear up some of the misconceptions.

1. HD DVD uses more advanced codecs than Blu-Ray

FALSE: HD DVD and Blu-Ray are both capable of using the exact same video and audio codecs. Early Blu-Ray titles used MPEG2 compression rather than the more advanced MPEG4 and WMV based codecs, but all Blu-Ray players can play back the same formats as HD DVD.

2. Blu-Ray is a proprietary Sony format / HD DVD is a proprietary Toshiba format

FALSE: Both HD DVD and Blu-Ray have been developed by different consortiums.

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The Sony Corporation has a long and storied history, with the company being founded in the ashes of post-World War II Japan. They started with simple devices like rice cookers and vacuum tube checkers, but officially stepped into “high-tech” with the introduction of one of the world’s first tape recorders in 1950.

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HAL Visits my 360

May 6th, 2007

HAL 9000Since the introduction of the Xbox 360, the Internet has been awash with discussion around the failure rate of the latest Microsoft console.

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I’m platform agnostic, owning all three of the major consoles (360, PS3 and Wii), and enjoying the various benefits of each.

Unfortunately, about a month ago my 360 started acting up. It started innocuously enough, with the occasional lock up. It started getting worse, with it locking up more frequently and then sometimes freezing on startup (while displaying the boot animation), and finally ended with the dreaded “red ring of death” showing a hardware failure (three blinking red lights, with the top right quadrant not lit).

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America: Land of the Free?

April 15th, 2007

As an outsider (I’m Canadian) looking at the United States of America, I’m always a little baffled by the phrase “Land of the Free” as it relates to our neighbours to the South.

There’s no arguing that the US Bill of Rights has some of the best language around freedom in the world. The first amendment protects freedom of speech, of religion and of the press, and these are all definitely good things.

Coming from Canada, I look at the guaranteed language protecting freedoms in the US with a bit of envy, but that envy is curtailed by the reality of speech south of the 49th parallel.

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The RIAA seems obsessed with suing anyone and everyone who has ever had anything to do with downloading music from peer-to-peer services. Sometimes, they even sue people who haven’t done anything, because that’s just the way they are.
Music + Ears = Money

If the RIAA were to stop and actually look at what they’re doing, though, they’d have little choice but to come to the realization that they’re looking to the wrong side of the law when it comes to their ultimate goal; selling music.

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Over the years, the videogame industry has seen a lot of different console generations come and go, but I’d argue that none has been as interesting as what is happening now.

To preface this piece, I’d like to mention that I own all three next-generation consoles (the XBox 360, Playstation 3 and Wii), and that all three receive a fair amount of usage in my home. I also owned all three previous generation consoles (XBox, Playstation 2 and GameCube), and have a variety of other consoles around the house (NES, Super NES, Playstation, etc.).

I’ve always been an avid watcher and participant in the videogame industry. From the moment my parents first brought home an Atari 2600 console for Christmas in 1977, I was hooked.

Atari 2600 My brother and I played Combat, Asteroids and Space Invaders for hours on end on that console, with the glorious full colour graphics lighting up our imaginations.

During that generation, the Atari 2600 was the king of the hill. There was no other console on the market with the vast selection of games, and it had hit the mass market price point of $250 with prices falling from there.The Intellivision

A few years later, the Intellivision would come to market with graphics that were a little snazzier and the world’s most bizarre controller. We skipped that one, but did end up getting the Coleco ADAM computer system.

Donkey Kong The Coleco played ColecoVision games (including a fantastic port of Donkey Kong, with only three levels, sadly) as well as games which were loaded off a high speed datacassette. We enjoyed that machine easily as much as the earlier Atari 2600, and it served our needs for a few more years.

Then came the great videogame crash. The market crashed, and tons of crappy Atari and ColecoVision cartridges were available in bargain bins everywhere.

The market had crashed because the console systems of the time didn’t require a license to develop for them. Anyone could develop a game, and stick it on store shelves, and anyone did. Atari didn’t help matters with terrible first party titles like E.T., either.

It took a few years for the industry to recover from that debacle, and when it came back, it came back swinging. The new kid on the block was Nintendo, best known at the time for the arcade version of that great ColecoVision game Donkey Kong.

I was a rebel, though. I decided I didn’t want a Nintendo Entertainment System like everyoneAtari 7800 else, I wanted an Atari 7800. It had great graphics, a bizarre looking controller and it came with a near arcade perfect conversion of Pole Position. Plus, Joust on that console was second only to the arcade version.

The 7800 served me very well for several years, but I had the opportunity to play many NES games at friends’ houses, and even knew someone who owned a Sega Master System (poor bastard).

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I blog, therefore I am?

March 28th, 2007

Yes, so I’ve decided to step into 2004 and have created myself a blog. It only took until 2007 to do it.

Now, of course, I have to decide what I’m going to put here.

For now, I’ve decided to call it “Random Thoughts”, because I suspect that’s what I’ll be putting here. Having said that, I expect I’ll ramble on about things that excite me or piss me off, and maybe one day my site will be taken down by the Digg effect.

Especially since I’m using WordPress, and DIGG seems to HATE that.

I am planning on adding Google AdSense ads here. At least that way if I write something that turns out to be popular, I can get some revenue from it. Maybe one day I can retire on AdSense (cough).

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