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REVIEW - Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons

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REVIEW - Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons

Brothers_ A Tale of Two Sons - Brothers Review 1

Brothers follows the trend of games like The Last of Us and Journey, where the emphasis is not so much on the "game" but the experience, It's an amazing achievement in story telling and it's all done without any dialogue or even a single line of text. It can easily be argued whether or not this is a game per se, but one thing is for certain you don't want to miss out on this one.

Yay for option screens

The game's mechanics are extremely easy to wrap your head around, however it's in the execution that they become dynamic and essentially become the dialogue. Each character is controlled individually using the analog sticks while the left and right trigger correspond to each characters interaction with the environment. The interactive elements change depending on which brother you are controlling. For example, you reach a point in the game where something as simplistic as coming across a stray cat gives separate outcomes; the older brother causes the cat to hiss and claw, while the younger brother is the polar opposite. It's these series of events that continue to cascade into an extremely well told story that, ironically, would have been given a disservice through dialogue.

You'll be fending off a horde of hungry wolves while also trying to keep your brother close behind

Brothers gets dark and morbid as the game progresses; unapologetically so. It goes hand in hand with the game mechanics as you'll notice if you make it to the bitter end. I completed the game in one sitting of about 3-4 hours and if you give it a chance I recommend you do the same. The puzzles aren't puzzles in the usual sense, they are more an exercise in dexterity but equally as rewarding without being too punishing. Picture yourself counting backwards from 100 in your head while verbally reciting the alphabet two letters at a time; YouTube would be so proud. There are secret areas you can find by exploring the branching paths and ultimately earn some achievements; this alone is what make Brothers a game in my opinion.

The scenery and atmosphere are stunning and help set the mood; good and sad.

If you have $15 to spare pick it up on XBLA, PSN, and Steam. It's definitely worth the price of admission and will give a whole new outlook on what is possible of video game storytelling.

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Windows can eat shit......

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

and yup you guessed it, DIE!!!!! It can't even manage a simple fucking clone without causing some sort of fucking trouble. Learn from Linux and Mac OS to make back ups clean, easy and simple or eat shit you pathetic excuse for shit soup.

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Unboxing: Presonus FireStudio Mobile

My lovely lady got me the following gift for my birthday this past weekend. I need to put this shiz to good use so get your ears ready suckas, this may just bring about the return of the Ask An Enemy Podcast, creamage of pants from rocking Lipstick Device jams, or nothing. The choice is up to me and my mood. You better hope I'm pissed or you'll be listening to some Hootie style jams. Have you heard that shit disease he calls a Christmas song? It's called "Grandma got run over by a reindeer now she has no clue my real fucking name is Darius Rucker and not Hootie! It's NEVER BEEN FUCKING HOOTIE!!!" Nah, seriously it's called Shit DUZEEZ or something equivalent to that mental picture. Scheck out the gallery bro!

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VM Ware Fusion 3.0 vs Parallels 4.0 - Presentation

I thought I'd follow up on the last post with what stood out to me immediately upon starting up Fusion.  It wasn't as captivating in it's presentation as Parallels when switching up modes.  On top of that XP runs stellar on Parallels so it honestly defeats the purpose of running Windows 7 through virtualization.  Check out the vid for the deets.

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VM Ware Fusion 3.0 is Windows 7 ready, Gaming not so much

I should be a bit easier on VM Ware since the main reason games are acting up under Fusion 3.0 can be attributed to my graphics card. My MacBook Pro is running the usual Nvidia 9400M graphics chip with 256MB of ram that now comes stock on all of Apple's MacBook line. Select 15 inch MacBook Pros carry a combo of the 9400M and 9600M GT GPU with only the high end 15 inch and the 17 inch sporting a sweet 512MB of RAM. In the gaming community we call that a great way to tighten up the graphics. While in Boot Camp, games run well if not great thanks to having full access to 256MB of RAM, which I consider to be the sweet spot for video cards in terms of budget and quality, IF, the FSB is at least 1066mhz. To the layman picking up a video card and seeing 1GB of ram on the box may lead to some creamage in the pants but, learn to pay attention to the speed at which the RAM runs and the creamage will be well deserved.  400Mhz will only lead to massive choke points and a Call of Slideshow.

Back to the subject at hand. Virtualization has been neck and neck between Parallels and VM Ware for features like gaming, and really that's all I care about. The only reason I use Boot Camp is to play my PC games. It's kind of a hassle to always have to jump back and forth between Windows and Mac OS. All of my productivity comes from the Mac side via my blogging apps, image editing tools and recording software, so if I read about a patch that's just been released, I have to finish what I'm doing, restart and boot into Windows, download the patch (and wait while it does), apply it and try it, then restart back into Mac OS and do the write up.  I think you see where running a virtual machine can come into play. I can stay within Mac OS while doing all of that. However, at least on my current MacBook Pro anyway, games don't run so well under VM Ware or Parallels. I've tried both and while I currently run Windows XP through Parallels for the simpler things, I decided I'd try Fusion 3.0 to test out Windows 7 and it's gaming features if only to see how much power I was able to squeeze out of it.

VM Ware touts Fusion 3.0 as the first VM software to fully take advantage of Windows 7's eye candy features like, Aero, Flip3D, and ofcourse Open GL 2.1. It really tries to sell itself to gamers by claiming to now run games at full speed. As of this writing and once again, on my MacBook Pro running 256MB of Video RAM, games don't seem to be running so hot. While Left 4 Dead was certainly playable it wasn't necessarily enjoyable. The framerate was a little choppy and I consistently had to change up my video settings in-game. It kept trying to run at 4x Anti Aliasing with a resolution of 1280x960. Native resolution is 1280x800 so go figure. In Unity, the games would always start up on the far left of the screen and glitch out every so often. In full screen I stared at this awesome screen at the most inopportune moments resulting in a complete reboot of the app. I finally got it running somewhat decently under single window mode at a resolution of 800x600. Not the best way to experience games but it worked.

All in all, Windows 7 runs great under Fusion 3.0, and through boot camp games run much better on Windows 7 than XP and the abortion that is Vista. I simply don't see a point in running Windows 7 through virtulization when XP serves it purpose in that department. Funny how even Windows 7 offers XP virtualiztion for those programs that simply wish to stick to their guns and run only on XP. Time will tell I guess. If you have a Mac with a heftier video card that packs 512MB I strongly suggest you give Fusion 3.0 a try. While CodeWeavers does an admirable job with CrossOver Games at specifically targeting gaming, it too fails in many respects, with the most obvious being the game selection. It's picky about what games it will run. While I plan on upgrading to a newer MacBook Pro, if not iMac, I can't say for certian a 17 inch MacBook Pro is in my future. If only I worked for EGM I could justify the upgrade. As of now it's a high price to pay for more "wasted" time. Fuck you responsibility.

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AT&T iPhone Tethering VS Sprint Mogul Tethering

Now that I've got tethering up and running on my iPhone I thought I'd run it through some tests and compare it to my previous interwebz connection, my HTC Mogul on Sprint's EV-DO Rev A Network.

Sprint usually excels at being the first of all the networks to really push cellular networking technology out of the gate, however competition can be a bitch and AT&T is that bitch. We all know AT&T is under a lot of pressure from it's customers for some lame ass business habits and frankly I'm quite surprised Apple has tolerated any of it. Apple's iPhone is capable of so much and AT&T seems like they'd rather hinder the device than embrace it.

[DISCLAIMER: I, in no way, recommend you put your iPhone or Mogul through the following methods to enable features AT&T has yet to acknowledge. You take full responsibility for your actions, any malfunction you may cause your device and/or any charges you incur. With that being said, many people have gotten these features to work with little to no known side effects, YET.]

Let me make this clear, I have not yet enabled MMS, as that fork in the road leads to shitloads of other headaches at the moment but if you're so inclined feel free to read this and give it a shot. As much as I fucking loathe AT&T's viewmycocksack.com method of viewing MMS messages I still prefer to wait on an official release for that one. It's coming, but not till late summer. Plus MMS will actually modify your Carrier Profile while the tethering hack is simply adding an additional network profile that can easily be deleted if you no longer need it. Here's how you do the tethering hack, it's super simple to do.

Some users have been reporting that their visual voicemail no longer works, for the record I had no problems with mine, but the solution seems easy enough so the payoff depends on your point of view and as always, YMMV.

When you first install the tethering profile you'll notice an extra setting, Internet Tethering in your Network settings at Settings>General>Network. All you need to do is simply turn it on and your Mac will recognize it as a new network connection simply click on ok and then apply and you'll be surfing like Johnny Utah in no time. It's Apple's "It just works" slogan being put the test and...it just does. I haven't tested this on my PC, though I"m sure you'll have to go through the usual driver install rigamarole and you should be set. If for whatever reason you need to uninstall or remove the AT&T Profile later simply go to Settings>General>Profile and tap on remove and you'll be golden.

Software

While Apple's iPhone has tethering built-in in 3.0, my HTC Mogul requires the use of third-party software to use your current data plan and avoid having to pay extra for, ridiculousness. The Mogul does have tehtering built-in as well however it's finicky as all fuck and you need to pay additionally for a Phone As Modem data plan. Just for kicks the software I used was USBModem by Mobile Stream. It's $20 and they do have a fully working trial version that you can test to make sure it works on your device first. I'll stand by it as I've used it for well over a year and comes in super handy when you forget to pay your Time Warner bill really need it.

DL Speed/UL Speed

Network performance depends on many variables that affect speed so this is not scientific in anyway whatsoever but the highest speeds I've achieved so far are noted here. I took both networks to task at SpeakEasy.net and chose servers from San Fransisco and Dallas and here are the results.


HTC Mogul SAN FRANSISCO server, Sprint EV-DO Rev A


HTC Mogul DALLAS server, Sprint EV-DO Rev A

Loading videos from YouTube, GameTrailers, Game Videos, etc, there was always the need to queue them up and let them load entirely before even watching them. Streaming was not an option as the constant stop and go would get annoying quick. For occasionally updating the blog the HTC Mogul held it's own. The only time it really disappointed me was during E3. Trying to liveblog while watching the conferences was such a nightmare I had to resort to simply watching the conference and writing up some afterthoughts.

Now let's look at the speeds I get on AT&T's 3G Network. AT&T's 7.2 Mbps HSDPA Network won't start rolling out till later next year and rumor has it that AT&T will officially announce iPhone tethering then. It seems a bit pointless to me as only the 3GS has built-in support for those blazing fast speeds but a Thailandnese hooker makes more sense than AT&T at the moment.


Apple iPhone SAN FRANSISCO server, AT&T 3G Network


Apple iPhone DALLAS server, AT&T 3G Network

Upload speeds are generally always low. For example at home I can get anywhere near 16Mbps DL speed but my upload speed never passes the 1Mbps mark. Not entirely sure if that's bad as I don't really ever upload much aside from the podcast and pics for the blog.

Conclusion

It's quite obvious the speeds on AT&T's network are plenty fast, however the downside is it's not official yet. So eventhough you are paying AT&T for an "unlimited" iPhone Data plan, more than likely there is a fair use clause in there somewhere which caps it at a 5GB bandwith limit. I haven't quite reached that point yet, although on my Sprint data plan I did reach 11GB of bandwith month after month without a peep from Sprint. I'll chuck that up to my archaic Sprint Power Vision plan, which I don't think is an option any more. Visiting all the major sites I've noticed most tethering plans all start at about $30 and go up to $60, and all have a 5GB cap. Convenience wins in the end though. I'll take the risks and see what comes of my handy iPhone. The phone is still fully functional while tethered, you can still receive calls, text messages, play music etc. With the simple flick of a swtich I'm online as opposed to having to fumble through menu after menu on my Windows Mobile based HTC Mogul. Gotta hand it to Apple, they make some slick devices.

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Ask An Enemy Podcast Episode 10 brings bad karma

So folks. Apparently talking some shit on the podcast will bring you some bad luck. After finishing up this weeks podcast, Barry got home to undoubtedly play some Call of Duty 4 only to find this waiting for him. I think leaving your console on 24/7 instead of using what most people know nowadays as a little thing called SAVED GAMES, to ofcourse come back to a game later caused this little Johnny 5. What kind of maniac, knowing the history of these machines leaves his on all day to play fucking Wolverine. Maniac Cop 2 maybe. Sorry it's 3 in the AM kids.

Good thing Microsoft's 3 year extended warranty has my boys back. I told him if he's really desperate for some COD4 action tonight he should pull off the old towel trick for the time being. Only temporary ofcourse, but it should definately tide him over till he gets to filling out the paper work and getting his "coffin" on it's way.

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Mac VS PC, My opinion so far...

This is coming from someone who has never owned a Mac before. I have always been plastered behind the screen of the many mutations Microsoft has put Windows through, including the most recent Windows 7 Beta. Although beautiful and definitely appealing to my soft spot for eye candy, Windows 7 is still Windows. That's where the problem lies. It will continue to be Windows and I cannot see myself ever going back to it. If it weren't for the lack of video game support for Mac OS, I'd probably never touch another PC in my life. Call of Duty 4 and Blizzard's brilliance in developing Diablo II for Mac keep me content for now but if Valve brought Steam to Mac consider my last statement solidified and etched on my tombstone.

Why did I switch to Mac?

The PC I had before Mac was fully spec'd out to my needs and budget. It wasn't cheap but it also wasn't going to magically teleport Howard the Duck down from Duckopolis, DC, to join in on some COD4 with me and my ladyfriend. It served it's purpose, yet not even a week in and I was already receiving the "high maintenance girlfriend attitude". Download the driver to this, Sound Card that, blah blah blah. Windows Vista plug and play my ass. After numerous crashes during recording sessions using Sonar 7 Pro, which I absolutely adore (Note to self: get in good with some rich old bitches, aka the coogs, take out insurance polices, ride 'em dry, use the dough to pay Cakewalk to develop Sonar for Mac, and I'll drop Logic in a "heaaaartbeat", DJ reference FTW.

I decided I it was time for a change. I'd always heard Macs were THE machines to go to for media intensive applications for their mean stability and ease of use.

Many will agree the barrier to entry though is the initial cost. Notice I said initial cost, not simply cost. I'll get into that in a bit, but for now simply make note of it. The cost of a new Macbook, let alone learning an entirely new operating system, was a bit daunting at first as well as almost double what I paid to piece together my previous configuration. Enter the new unibody aluminum MacBooks. Many don't understand that it's not only how much ram you have, but at what speed it runs. The same goes for your hard drive and processor and that should ultimately define what decision you make one way or the other. That's where it gets difficult to decide on what system to purchase when it comes to prepackaged PCs as opposed to non-OEM. It basically boils down to the "butterface" syndrome but for PCs.

For the sake of hopefully keeping your attention we'll avoid specifics and plainly say that the new Macbooks, couldn't have come at a better time, and met, if not exceeded, my original setup.

Now, remember I said the initial cost. Lets get into that. I've spent the last couple weeks helping friends and co-workers with setting up, maintaining, and even straight up recovering data from their current ill advised purchasing decisions. I do not mean to belittle their decisions as I'm sure they don't glue their face to their computer screens and have better things to do than figuring out what the fuck ERROR: INvalid SYNtax JESxx98US **^^%Microsoft**7773 ::GET**&^@mnn YO>>:2345 SHIT::???!!234dffff TOGETHER{{}} means and I don't blame them, it's painful, tedious, and exhaustive work. Even more so when you have to rely some poor schmuck behind the counter of a big retail store who is there simply to pay child support get the funds to party with "lil smiley y la Tear DRoP" later that night at the local watering hole leading to more child support. Don't get me wrong, I love learning from these situations and would never deny any friend a helping hand, but it's also why I hate giving advice on what to buy seeing as I always feel like I spend more time explaining the minute details that they would either never notice nor would ever care about. Most people will never see the difference between 1066 FSB as opposed to 800 and there's nothing wrong with that, I also think I just proved my point.

After spending most of my time maintaining my PC, and since most think time is money, and to some it would, I hope you can see why the initial cost, at least to me, is worth every ounce of praise. Mac OSX isn't without it's quirks and headscratching "why the fuck did they do that" moments but it definately beats downloading the wrong driver for the wrong video card that leads to the broken keyboard resulting in a bloody fist nabbing the cat and, to avoid PETA hunting me down, ending up in a trip to the vet.

So what's your conclusion?

After owning, and fist pumping to the beat of a new drummer boy, for about six months, my decision to stick with Macs from this point on is as firm as Katie Holmes grip on the vibrator. Do I recommend switching to Mac? Well, to be honest, unless your daily meal ticket relies on your expertise in returning this band to it's roots, or photoshopping this to that and not simply writing up articles for El Diario, you're pretty much golden sticking to your guns, plus you'll still be helping out Lil SMiLey mooch off his friends.

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Acronis True Image 10 for free!!

hard_drive_platter_bike.jpg

Lately I've had a couple of my friends ask me if it's difficult to upgrade a hard drive on a PC, or Mac, oh wait not Mac, my friends aren't that cool, but I let them know it's not difficult at all. The only pain in the ass part about it is reinstalling you're operating system...and all the programs you've installed since you first acquired your machine. I'm the kind of guy who doesn't mind that so much as I prefer a fresh clean installation of Windows every so often as opposed to the same sluggish beast I've had to tolerate for the past couple of weeks, months even years. However I put all of my user created data onto external hard drives along with back ups of that data, so it's a bit easier for me. Alot of people I know leave all there pictures, music and documents on their main drive with no back up whatsoever. I cannot stress enough how important back ups are and most people won't learn until it happens to them. Hard drive + careless face = Sad face. Yeah it's not cool in the least unless you have the skills to use the remains for something kickass like what's pictured on the right.

Acronis is offering their data recovery slash back up software True Image for free. What this software does is allow you to make a direct copy, or image if you will, of your hard drive so that when, yes when not if, your hard drive fails you'll have an exact bootable copy of it handy. That 320GB hard won't do you any good if all the data on it is lost. With prices dropping dramatically on hard drives I find it hard to believe people can't keep back ups of their data. How would you feel if you went to the bank to take out you're $2000 savings only to have the bank say "You know we don't have any records of you having the funds, see our hard drive failed and we don't have any back ups, so sorry, oh but here's a pen".

There are plenty of free apps out there and Lifehacker has a pretty slick tutorial using DriveImage XML, which is free, but I can't see this previously $50 version of True Image being any less useful. Don't say I didn't warn you.

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Windows 7 Beta Impressions: Day 2, well 3 actually

So they say 3rd times a charm. I would have to agree. I've been putting Windows 7 through plenty these past few days and after two failed attempts, I decided to give it one more try and now I think I can say so far so good. After giving it a go from home with a stable internet connection I was up and running and ready to dive in. Regardless of what some might think, Windows 7 is not a new operating system designed from the ground up, much like Vista was. Think about it like this, do you remember Windows ME (Millenium Edition)? Yeah I didn't think so. Windows XP? Ofcourse you do. If you weren't forced into Vista with any recent PC purchase, you may be lucky enough to still be running XP and I'm sure most of you are. I also wouldn't doubt for a second that many users out there are still, to this day, using Windows ME and quite possibly even Windows 98.

Now comes Windows 7 with so much eye candy it'll blow any previous versions of Windows out of the water, yes even Vista. Sure at first glance it looks almost identical, however this time around it manages to still function after running Aero at max settings. Aero is Microsoft's glass look they introduced with Vista. It's visually stunning and makes all the difference in the world when jumping from the GUI of Windows XP to Windows 7. The catch is you need the RAM to pull it off. Where Vista devoured and shat your memory, 7 simply feeds on it. With RAM prices dropping constantly I would strongly recommend anyone running any version of Windows to install as much RAM as possible on their system. 32-bit versions will only do 3GB max and 64-bit will do 8GB and up. The processor has nothing to do with the Aero Effect. The only thing a faster processor helps you do is process...fast. There is a 64-bit version of 7 available as well, however if you've pulled your hair out after looking for drivers or even software that took full advatange of that 64-bit bandwith then you may as well just stick with 32-bit. Unless you're tossing around a few grenades in Call of Duty 4, hell bent on getting Crysis to look photorealistic instead of playing the damn thing, or doing some pretty intensive photo or video editing, an Intel Core 2 Duo is more than enough. Windows 7 promises to fix the problems that plagued Vista in terms of 64-bit support but the proof is always in the pudding and Bill Cosby knows his shit. With the new Intel Core i7's making headway, Nvidia's new graphics chips producing all sorts of kickass. The future is looking good and so is Windows 7. You have to see the GUI in action to see what I mean so here's a quick screencast to show you what the peek feature does as all well as the shake feature.

Windows 7 automatically groups all windows of the same kind and pins them to the taskbar with only the icon for reference. The peek feature involves rolling your mouse over the icon to bring up a minimized look or peak, and as you hover over the windows of that particular task all windows behind it become panes of glass. It's quite awesome actually. Microsoft introduced some gesture based features with 7 as well, and shake is one of them. Grab a window by the title bar and shake it and all windows behind it will minimize. Do it again and they come back up. The task switcher also makes a return with alt-tab doing the basics and window-tab, with the family gathered around the PC, will surely bring about some oohs and aahs.

Now on to some serious matters. Video games. I would say recording, but I don't record music on Windows anymore. I've learned my lesson. So anyway, back to games. Vista, in a sense, was meant to bring gamers together. Marketing pitches and all, you don't have to look far to know that couldn't be any further from the truth. Games For Windows has nothing on Valve's Steam Client. As you saw in the first screenshot, my Mac, running Windows 7 through Boot Camp scored at a 4.4. I'm impressed and so should you. What does it mean? Not much really. On a scale of 1 to 5.9 though, it sounds pretty good to me. My rig sports the usual Intel Core 2 Duo, which is plenty and more than enough to run Left 4 Dead. The only issue I've come across is Mirror's Edge not playing audio during it's Esurance like cutscenes however I here that's more of an issue with Windows 7 not necessarily issue with audio drivers. Left 4 Dead ran amazingly smooth, and Fallout 3 had it's fair share of glitches though it ultimately ran fine. I'll keep goin at this beast with plenty more and I'll keep you all posted. Next up on the agenda, Orange Box.

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Windows 7 Beta, so far so not good

Last night I finally had the chance to install the Windows 7 Beta through boot camp on my MacBook (late 2008 model). It was about 1:00am when I started and about 1:30am when I finished the initial steps to get it ready for testing. I went to bed and woke up this morning eager to take it through my daily routine and came across a few issues. The first? Well, as is always the case with any Windows operating system I've ever used beta or not, was driver support. While at work I use my Sprint Mogul for internet access, which runs on Microsofts own Windows Mobile 6.1 Professional Edition. It includes driver support much like Vista does out of the box, however since it's in beta it doesn't seem to work like it should. I kept getting disconnected using internet sharing through USB every 2 to 3 minutes, which led me to boot back into Leopard, thats the Mac's OS for those of you not geeky enough to sport an Apple bumper sticker, and attempt a run through VMware's Fusion. Thats what you see in the following screen shots.

The second is with bluetooth devices. Still running through boot camp I attempted to add my Apple Mighty Mouse as a bluetooth device along with my Sprint Mogul, for an attempt at trying the Bluetooth PAN features, and ultimately came upon some more issues. I'm glad the Apple Software Update for the trackpad worked other wise right clicks would have been impossible. At the moment I'm still messing around with the beta and I'll return with some more impressions once I get my head together. Hey it's early folks and I'm on close to 4 hours of sleep.

Here are some screen shots I took while I was running Windows 7 through Fusion.

As you can see here, I got an error installing VMware Tools, sad face, however once I restarted everything seemed to work fine, semi happy face.

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