Saturday, December 10, 2005

Fresh Horizons

You know, closing the Ranch and opening up this blog (and BP) has been a sort of refresher for me, and I kindof enjoy it. I'm blogging way more often than I did with the Ranch, and without the need to edit a boat load of HTML in order to get something published. Yes, there was the satisfaction of knowing that nearly every drop of code on that page was mine and mine alone, written the hard way by me. But ease takes over right now.

And since I have alot to say, and a very short time to say it, ease wins hands down.

Writing NES reviews is quick and painless, and since I have alot of carts to review, I've taken to writing them up and saving them as drafts, waiting to be posted at a future date. It makes things easier down the road, less I have to write and format in the future. At least the format process is easier this time around...

Now, if only I could convince Derreck to come up with something a little more often than he does...

NES Review: Gun.Smoke

There's a good reason why this review says NES as opposed to ROM. Earthbound Zero is more or less only available as a ROM, while all the other games I'll review are available as legal carts. Thanks to my local old-school NES buddies who've kept their systems and carts in immaculate condition, I'm able to review these classics for all 3 of you.

Gun.Smoke was one of my favorite rentals when the 8bit system was the hot box of the day. I used to know a cheat code or two that would afford me all the weapons up front, which was fun, and the turbo controler (the NES Advantage, if I remember correctly) made my standard gun more deadly than the machine gun the cheat gave me.

Sounds like it could be Houtzdale, doesn't it. Heh. That's the first thing I thought of when I looked at that screen for the first time in well over 15 years. Anywho, you're out to capture bad guys, and in Houtz... I mean Hicksville, it doesn't get any badder than this guy:

Bandit Bill. That's right. Mean looking hombre, ain't he. Well, you've got to take this bad seed down, and the local authorities will give you $10K if you succeed. All you have are your sidearms, an unlimited supply of ammo for said sidearms, and the occasional helpful townsfolk who will sell you goods, but don't expect them to jump in the line of fire so they can off stuff cheap. You'll need the cash you find along the way, that's for srue.

The streets are mean, that's for sure. Roaming banditos working for the big burrito on campus attack you from all angles in all sorts of ways. Beware death from above, as snipers have positionend themselves as well. Wandering miscreants like that dude over yonder will lob dynamite sticks (which, curiously, are blue), but you can actually pick these things up before they asplode.

With only a standard NES controler to play these games with these days, all the rabid fun was taken out of it, but at least I got to spend about 20 minutes reliving my childhood. It's a fun shooter varient with some pretty decent challange to it (unless, of course, you have a good controller).

Gun.Smoke - NES - Arcade Port/Shooter

Friday, December 09, 2005

Don't Hurt The Cheat

Found this over on Fark, and posted it to BP just a moment ago. I love Homestar Runner. It's gotta be the most creative flash comic on the web today. The characters are simply way too much fun, and the fun doesn't get any better than it does with everyone's favorite little yellow sidekick:

Yep. The Cheat. Gotta love that The Cheat.

Apparently, when he's not throwing Lightswitch Raves or starring in his own Video Game, The Cheat is moonlighting as a model for names of places. He's got a bridge, waterfall, and even a functioning tourist rail car. How pimpin' is that, right? Not bad for a The Cheat. Especially when you consider his choice of employer. But then again, having your employer's dumber yet significantly stronger older brother in your back pocket doesn't hurt things any.

Why am I getting into the intricacies of a cartoon character?

Because he's The Cheat, damnit. The Cheat is lovable, cute, mischevious, devious, talented... He could very well be the new millennium's first classic character. Apart from the ones I have listed above, let's take a look at some of The Cheat's finest moments.

New Boots - A Powered By The Cheat special, which The Cheat animated and voiced all on his own. The Cheat gets some cool boots, Strong bad brings him is favorite, and Coach Z just wants a chance to do a hip-hop dance, and has our boy animate his music video!

Cheat Commandos - Apparently, those of The Cheat's kind have a TV show and toy line. Fun with the Cheat Commandos as they battle the evil forces of the Blue Laser! Buy it! Buy! Buy! BUY! Rock Rock On!

Bottom 10 - Not really one of The Cheat's finer moments, but at the time this SBEmail came out, it was the first appearance of our beloved The Cheat in quite some time on H*R.

Do Over - This one's a bit bizzare, so I'll just let you watch it and find out for yourself. The Cheat proves just how much of a lady's The Cheat he really is, but only if you can locate the easter egg...

That's just a small sampling of the fine work of The Cheat. I urge you to explore more of Homestar Runner for more of The Cheat's exploits. Now go kill some time. With the snow on the ground today, there's no excuse for you not to.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

The Waiting Game

For well over a year now, I've been basically sitting on my ass, waiting for things to happen. And this isn't really my choice, either. It's a situation I've more or less placed myself in, and as a result, I don't have much room to maneuver. Which sucks, because I really want to just get things moving. I want to get as far away from Central PA as I can, as soon as I can. I figure, once I'm away from this place, I'll be able to breathe a little easier.

I should be getting a new hard drive sometime in the near future, which is VERY good. For too long, I've been limited to around 30 gigs of space, and most of that is earmarked. I've managed to burn some stuff onto CD for now, but I'd like to keep all my data on-drive so I can access it quickly. I'm hoping I can score bigger than 200 gig (I saw one 300 gig drive online for cheap), then I won't really have to much worry about space for quite a while.

Once it's here, the fun can begin! My current main drive will remain my main drive, but will be an all-Winblowz drive. I haven't decided if I'm gonna go with 98 still, or try to run XP. At 450mhz, things won't run very nicely under XP, I'm sure. Maybe I'll try Win2K. Who knows. Anywho, the 20 gig drive, which is used for storage at the moment, will be sectioned off into four 4.5 gig partitions, each of which will have a different flavor of Linux on it.

Mandrake will be there for sure, and I'm thinking of trying out Fedora Core as well. Debian sounds like a sound third choice, but I'm not too sure on the fourth. Maybe an on-drive install of Knoppix, maybe SuSE. Or maybe I'll totally weird out and put a completely different OS on there alltogether, like QNX or a BSD. That'd be interesting, wouldn't it?

So many options. I'd best get to downloading and burning all this crap, eh? Right...

Tuesday Night Blues

Wow. What a dull night. So dull I couldn't think of anything to blog about, so here I am, writing about how there's nothing special to do at all. I went to the Avenue for a little while, but with just Kera, Justin, Brandi and myself there, it wasn't much of a fun night at all, so they closed down early, and back I came.

My brother is at the Bryce Jordan Center, working the Dave Matthews Band show. Yay. Hippie magnet of a show that is. Bet the whole place smells like patchouli and haven't-showered-in-a-while. In all honesty, I do like one Dave Matthews song, Satelites. Nice, easy going song, and a good use of Matthews' nasaly voice.

Speaking of working shows, I'm due to return to the roadie scene this Saturday, helping Big Jim do sound for Face Down, featuring my boy Nate Socoski and John's good buddy Chris Kane. Should be a bitchin' rock and roll show given the promo pieces they have up over at the Ave. I know these guys have mad talent for sure, so I'm looking forward to not paying a cover and getting paid (not much, but something) to rock out once again.

And suddenly, I remember why I love the live music scene in the first place. When I started roadie-ing for Tom's bands back in College, I fell in love with the life. First Plan 9, then Dick Dastardly. Just going out, moving a few slides, pushing a few buttons and drinking a few beers was enough to keep me lugging drums and speaker cabinets to and from the car.

And that's how I got addicted to the stage. But we all how how that story has played out. I'm still doing small-time Karaoke contests for a little bit of cash, and just going out to keep myself practiced once or twice a week. Don't get me wrong, I love going to the Ave. or Mary's and singing, but it's not what I really want. What sucks is, I can't have what I really want right now. My situation won't allow me to make a commitment to a project.

Tempered Edge was all well and good. The tunes were worth believing in, but Bill's "originals only" attitude got us nowhere show-wise. It was hard to book a band who's Guitar Player could only make weekend shows, every once in a while at best. Mel at Pete N' Mel's liked us plenty good, but still, we never had a crowd of more than 20. Better than zero, yes, but not enough (just seven times in two years total) to make a solid commitment to.

Thank the maker for John and Sherry. Those two have been SO gracious to me, and I love them to death for it. Letting me sit on my little stool and sing some songs with them. Me and my fake superstition about Sherry's mic stand, which was in reality a joke about how short she is compared to me. Doing Hotel California that one Bike Night at the Avenue with Paul on accoustic lead. Fumbling through Stairway to Heaven. Swapping my name for that of Freddie Mercury on Crazy Little Thing Called Love. Floyd blocks.

Having fun.

That's why I'm addicted to the stage. It's not about the kudos (though they are nice), it's about having a good time.

Go figure, this turns into a rant about music. I'd best curb that now.

Yep, just another boring Tuesday night in lovely Houtzdale, PA. Hopefully, my scenery changes soon. I don't know how many more of these impossibly frigid winters I can take. The ball is freaking out, that's for sure...

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Poker Prophyt

Ahh, there we go. Poker Room is the first site to let me create and upload my own custom avatar, no questions asked. And so, introducing version 1.0, which will appear here on the site when I make poker posts. Version 1.5 should be up on my Poker Room Profile within the day...

5:42AM - I'm gonna try and liveblog a tournament at Poker Room now. I'm in seat 6, and my first hole cards are J3o, so I'll be folding. This should be interesting...

5:47AM - Not much to speak of card-wise, but I have noticed that the table is rather conservative. No outrageous betting (thank St. Pete), so I've been able to see a few flops here and there. I've started in decent position pre-flop a few times, but always lost it on the flop itself. Oh well. I'll catch something...

5:54AM - Still nothing new to report, other than I'm down a wee bit. No need to panic, though. Still it it. In the meantime, here's a screenshot (222K JPG) of my table. I'm in the bottom center seat. Yay.

5:58AM - Busted already. Stupid call with a straight draw on the table. Stupid, stupid Eric. And after I took 1st in the game I played prior to this. Oh well. 7th isn't 10th, that's for diggity dang sure. Oh well. At least I know I can Live Blog for 10 mintues. Heh...

Monday, December 05, 2005

ROM Review: Earthbound Zero

When I was a kid, I had an NES. Then, as I got older, my loyalty to Nintendo consoles led me to get a SuperNES. There was a game for the SNES called Earthbound, a charming, kid-friendly RPG with an engaging storyline, interesting characters and nifty options with regards to magic. But what we didn't know at the time was that Earthbound was actually a sequel to a game for the original NES which, sadly, never saw release onto the American game market.

Well, thanks to the advent of ROMs and Emulation, we can finally play this game, and even with a half decent translation!

You'll notice a few similarities to Earthbound right off the bat. You get to name your four characters, dog, and favorite food. The martial arts character from the SNES version was obviously a replacement of Teddy, a 50's looking Fonzie tough guy you meet later in the game. At this point you start to notice that a lot of the "basic" features of the SNES version are actually additions to the game. Kind of makes you appreciate the SNES version all the more.

Anyway, you're Ninten (or Stewy, as I have him named here), and you're awoken one night by troubles in your sister's room. It appears her dolly is possessed. Not cool. After whomping some demonic lamps and the eerie dolly itself, you find that you have to embark on a quest to save the world from renegade paranormal forces.

Along the way, you meet the girl (Ana, or Amanda in my screen shot), the nerdy boy (Loid, Jester in my screen shot) and the aforementioned Teddy, Who'm I called Remo in my game, but isn't in any of my screen shots. Each one is tailored to a specific kind of attack: Ninten can use ball bats and some PSI (magic) spells; Ana is a PSI wonder who has pans for secondary weapons; Loid is a technology master, specializing in guns and offensive items like bottle rockets and beam weapons; Teddy is pretty darn good with a sword, if you've got one for him. Neither Loid nor Teddy can use PSI.

As with any RPG, you get to have fun spending quality time with the monsters of EBZ, going through the rite of passage known as "leveling up." This makes the monsters easier to deal with after a while, but can be time consuming and monotonous. But hey, that's why RPGs have storylines. It's the story that really gets you hooked, and as with the SNES incarnation of Earthbound, this one has a cute an engaging story to follow along with.

If you think I'm going to hook you all up with a link to the ROM file, you can forget it. You can all find it on your own. If you do, just make sure that your title screen has that little ZERO underneath Earthbound. That way you know for sure that you have the right one. A little effort is all it takes. Just remember: You can only have a ROM for about 24 hours, then you're obligated to delete it. Not my rule, just a good general guideline.

Earthbound Zero - Unreleased in USA - RPG

Shady... Aftermath... Q-Unit?!?

When I found this on BoingBoing, I was a bit stunned. I'd heard of the mash-up scene's recent bombardment, but this took the bloody cake. 50 Cent and Queen. If ever there was a combination to the gates of Hell and Damnation, that would be it. Here's my post on Blog Prophyts...

I'm a diehard Queen fan. I love their music, and sing some of it rather often at Karaoke, as well as when I do shows with John and Sherry. It's rock and roll in its purest form, as well as going above and beyond experimentation to blend so much more into the mix. They were and are musical masters in the most revered sense.

And I don't much care for 50 Cent. I hear it all the freakin' time, over and over. It all runs together after a little while, really.

Curious as I am, I downloaded the whole shebang and gave it a listen, cover art and all. No, I don't plan on producing CDs with these files, I just want to give it a go-round. The first track I listened to was Bohemian Wanksta. Gotta go for the uber-classic all-time most well known Queen jam and see what these goofy kids did to it. What I found was a very haunting remix indeed. I'm impressed with the whole mix. Forget the fact that 50's rapping over this beat. The beat itself is the magic here. In fact, the entire "album" is like this. This Is How We Bite The Dust is ingenious, and made me want to get up and shake what little money maker my scrawny self has.

Holy crap. I'm four tracks in and I'm already thinking twice about this idea. Kids' got skillz, no doubt about it. After plowing through each track, I find no reason why the RIAA should be tracking these sites down. If anything, these are free marketing tools in disguise. 50 Fans will discover the joys of Queen, and Queen Fans will find a reason to appreciate 50 Cent for a little while. Not a bad trade off. And who knows. They might just go out and buy some legal CDs in the process.

But no, the RIAA never thinks of logical things like that. They're too busy treating us like criminals.

Go and get this while you can. Enjoy this artform before the RIAA gets crankier still and squashes it, along with our purchasing rights.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Learning Curve

I'm starting to play with the style template here on BlogSpot. So far, it appears that I've been able to pretty much customize what I want without much hassle. Might be worth it to learn this particular practice. I've been out of the loop so long and so dependant on plain old HTML that I haven't figured out dynamic pages. Damn the dot-com bubble pop in the late 90s...

This system is pretty simple, really. The code doesn't intimidate me at all, that's for sure. The main thing I'm concerned with is the color code system. So far, I've figured out that #ccc gives me the grey that I've changed the entry titles to. Next comes deciphering the font system, how it parses different sections of the page, and how to put it all together.

And since I usually have quite a bit of time on my hands these days, it shouldn't take me too long.

My little brother has built himself qutie the DJ setup if I do say so myself. I'm totally impressed. He's in the garage running it now, I can hear (and kinda feel) the boom-tss-boom-tss of whatever it is he's playing. Thank the maker for the TV to drown it out!

The Prophycy Begins

Yay! Team blog go! *cue cute J-Pop theme song, most likely titled Boraagu Prophytu*

--Funny Fact: Hi-Hi PuffyAmiYumi just came on. Cute J-Pop theme song indeed...

Oh, and Derreck: I'm sorry I stole your colors. But I think it's OK if we share, seeing as how millions of other BlogSpot users have this choice, and I'm sure quite a few like it much. If you're that cranky, learn how to modify the css template color scheme and customize the darn thing. I will be here in the coming days...

But yes, Blog Prophyts has launched. Hopefully I can use word-of-IM (aka annoying the pi$$ out of my friends) "advertising" to get a small readership happening. I'm hoping that some of you have tagged along for the ride to this new blog. I should have it redirect, I think... But that's something for later.

Finished Fable: The Lost Chapters the other night, and even did some hard (as in physical, on paper, not difficult) math to figure out gem fencing numbers. I'll throw up a review of TLC sooner or later. I had one written for the original version, prepped for the Ranch and all, but TLC came out before I wrote it, Jester bought it, and now we've plowed through it. Changes, new tricks, glitches, and more!

I like this blog better. I don't have to do 35 minutes worth of page duplication each time I post, which leads to me posting more often as the mood strikes me. This is a good thing...

Blog Prophyts

Like I said, we're gonna give this team blog thing a try. Introducing Blog Prophyts, an attempt at teaming up with other area bloggers to try and create something usable, fun, and somewhat popular. Derreck has signed on so far, but I'm still looking for about four more people who can dedicate some time each day to scouring the net for interesting crap, then writing up a short blurb about it with a link on the blog.

If you can at all help it, having a Blogger/Blogspot account would really help ease the process of joining in along (I think, not sure how they have this set up just yet). Regular posting is, unfortunately, a pre-requisite, since hey, let's face it: We're Bloggers. A few posts a week is fine, I'm not talkint two or three a day. Hell, I was guilty of going an entire month without posting something at the Ranch just before I moved here...

So check out the new site and tell us what you think. Bookmark it and check it often, since I'll be making quite a few posts to it with interesting crap as I find it...