Monday, December 29, 2008

Well pie hates you.

Recently a friend made mentioned idiots who scream out "I LIKE PIE" for no reason and it reminded me of how I hate idiots who scream out "I LIKE PIE" for no reason. If you ever hear anyone do that out of context (same goes for "I LIKE CAKE") then God, Jesus, Buddha, and the government, will support you if you grab that person's head, pull it down, and then shove your knee into said person's face. For maximum effect, run up out of a crowd and do it before they notice you. Then run away.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Thinking of getting a graphics tablet? You may want to not do that.

So I've had a tablet for a while (Wacom Graphire4) and recently started using it again, only to remember why I stopped using it. I know some people have no issues with these, but before you get one of your own make sure you get to spend a lot of time with someone else's. I used a friend's for a total of four minutes once and decided it was good, but somehow didn't notice how hard they are to use. I can't draw a box without it looking slanty, and your hand will hurt like fuck after 40 (± 10 seconds) of use. I don't know how other people avoid this but what I am saying is don't get one unless you are totally sure you will love it, because otherwise you will feel awful for having spent a lot of money on something that is basically unusable. I draw even worse with this than I do on paper, and my paper drawings look horrible.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Netbook.

Take that, Psion.

Merry Christmas

You see what I did there? I said it. I said the C-word. The word that no one dares to say in fear of hurting someone's feelings or being sued. I've noticed that people often resort to "Happy Holidays" or just "Merry X-mas." I think it's just the "Christ" part that bothers people. I'll tell you what, I don't practice Christianity or any of those religions that are differentish but have exactly the same beliefs, but the holiday is called "Christmas," so just call it that.
Anyway, you have a merry Christmas. If you don't celebrate Christmas, have a good whatever you do celebrate. That's about it.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Inflatable lawn decorations

Are they tacky or what? Sure, it's nice to have a giant inflatable Santa on your lawn, but in reality it's not nice and shut up. Plus they look like crap when deflated. That huge obstructive Santa goes from being huge and obstructive to a puddle of red, and I can't decide which one looks better.
Most people suck at Christmas decorations, actually. There's the tacky inflatable ones, then there's people who just pour a few boxes of stuff on their lawn and call it decorated. This looks like crap too. I'm not kidding either, once some house in my neighborhood did something that seemed a lot like that. There was crap everywhere, plastic Santas, reindeer, all sorts of stuff just all over that lawn. It looked bad.
What we're looking for is something that actually looks nice, which becomes more scarce each year. I've always loved the classic "cover everything in white lights." I don't mean it literally since some people do it literally and it looks like crap, but when you do parts of your house and yard to the point where it's like a gentle illumination, it looks pretty great. Colors are nice, if you do it right. A house down my street went with a candy cane theme and it looks really good. The yard and house has lights (in red and white, in that order) everywhere, then there are giant candy canes lining the yard with lights strung on them. It looks much better than it sounds.
I also think it looks nice when people do stuff like outline their house/yard. It's about as minimalist as Christmas decorations get, especially when you use something like a darkish blue which both looks awesome (blue is the best color) and doesn't light it up very much. It looks nice.
If I had the patience I'd love to decorate my house one year. Maybe I'll do that sometime, it'd look pretty good. But that's not what this post is about. To summarize everything, I guess what I'm saying is "if you can't decorate your yard, then don't."
Oh and I also don't like overabundance of colored lights. I just don't think it looks good, at all.

Why do they even make Alvin and the Chipmunks music?

Yeah yeah, I know they need to make it for the movie and whatnot, but no one actually wants to hear the music. Today I had the displeasure of hearing their Christmas song on the radio and it was awful. Does anyone actually want to hear this? 

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

What 12 days of Christmas?

Since when were there 12? This is news to me. Even the Jewish know there is only one day of Christmas. Was Jesus born over a period of 12 days? I guess being a virgin could have made childbirth a bit harder on Mary, but I don't know if it'd be that hard.

PS3

Wow, two video game related posts in a row? Amazing. Anyway, I learned today that Sony has stopped making PS3s with PS2 backwards-compatibility. On top of that, they have also stopped making PS3s that I will buy. Now if I ever get one, it will have to be used. That's disappointing, I probably just won't ever get one. Not that I really mind, there weren't a lot of games that I wanted in the first place. The 360 is so much better.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Wii.

Wait, have I posted about this before? Maybe. If so, I'm doing it again.
So this is kind of a random post since nothing really prompted it. But I don't like the Wii. There, I said it. I spent my childhood with Nintendo, I loved their games to death. I practically exploded in joy when we got our Gamecube, which was my first televised game system.
But now we have the Wii, which washed away Nintendo's previous charisma. They sort of still work the same, they still have a lot of exclusive first party games and they're continuing their old series and all that, but it just doesn't feel like Nintendo anymore. Maybe it's that controller. Moving away from the traditional "game controller" design may have brought in many housewives and old folks, but it's turned off most of the gamers. Motion control is fancy and it does make for some pretty interesting games, but a lot of the time the games feel shoehorned to the motion control and would be infinitely better with a regular controller. SSBB was wise to make both Gamecube controllers and the Wii Classic Controller an option, but unfortunately SSBB was just SSBM with less fun. But I digress.
I think the Wiimote would've been dandy as a secondary controller for the motion-control games only. That way, we wouldn't have all the games that could be good forcing themselves to use motion and then all the good motion-control games could really shine. Right now I am going to point out WarioWare Smooth Moves. I haven't played it a lot, but it's probably one of the best uses for motion control I've seen yet.
Now that we've covered the controller, let's look at the actual system. It doesn't feel, look, or taste like a game system. I don't know what it does look like, but not a game system. When you turn it on you get greeted with a warning message and then a menu, no fancy startup screen like we had with the Gamecube and no instant-game like with the N64. Maybe the controller not being a traditional controller also contributes to this. The packaging doesn't make it look like a game system either. Under the hood, it's underpowered, almost as if it's stuck between this gen and last gen. This definitely contributes to it not having enough good games, the developers want to put their best on the 360 and PS3 because now that the hardware allows, they really can make any game that comes to mind. 
Speaking of the games, how about them games? There just aren't enough good ones. Yes, it does have it's good games. But there's not enough. Mostly all they've done is made a new game for each famous franchise of theirs and then there's nothing else. No game companies are putting anything on it because there's nothing to put on it. So instead, all the little companies and non-game companies are throwing random crap at it. Nintendo's also made a "Wii" series, which was decent (for a pack-in game) at first but now it's just a collection of "hey look at what we can do." Wii Sports was pretty good for a pack-in, Wii Play was arguably better, then Wii Fit was just kind of "what" and Wii Music has no purpose. And how about them balance boards? Sure, it's another unique way of playing games, but I can't say I'm particularly interested.
Anyway that's all I have to say, unless I think of something and update this. Hopefully Nintendo will stop trying to be "advanced" with their next system and focus on making the best thing they can.

"Baby it's cold outside"

I don't know the name of this Christmas song, but that guy should go eat nails. He's such an attention whore, that woman is trying to sing a Christmas song and he's just there in the background pointing out obvious shit. He's not even singing, he's just going "baby it's cold outside" like she didn't already know. 

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Dear Sony, screw that.

So I hear that Sony is leaning more toward digital distribution now than hard copies. I say screw that. I don't care how reliable they make it, digital distribution sucks. Maybe they'll let you download it as many times as you need, maybe they'll let you make backups, but nothing will ever amount to going out and buying the game, or owning a hard copy of it. Digital distribution totally destroys the fun of collecting games, owning games, etc. I know it's not a big deal at the moment, but if the entire community displays disgust at it early on, we can defeat it before it's too late. Do your part, boycott this shit.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Bawls

If you haven't had it, you've lived an incomplete life. I hope you aren't on your deathbed as you read this.
It's basically the best thing ever next to Dr. Pepper. It tastes awesome (and if you say it tastes like Sprite or Ginger Ale I will stick a lawnmower down your throat) and it is very caffeinated and it's great. I've had two today, I'm pretty wired right now. Despite it's somewhat low amount of caffeine (80mg per 12oz) it gives a surprisingly big buzz. Maybe it's because the caffeine isn't extracted from anything (the flavor and the caffeine both come from the guarana berry). Point is, it will make you shit your face because it is so good. It makes every situation awesome.

If you are a Flash-based website, I hate you.

Buggy, slow, annoying, hard to navigate, those are all words that can describe flash based websites. The worst thing about them is how many computer and tech companies are doing this to their sites. Sure, it looks good, but screw looking good. When I go to a website, I want to be able to use that website. Every Flash site I've used was hard to navigate. I don't want fancy animations or anything of that sort, they suck. Plus you can't use them on cell phones.
Even when they've done it right, like worked out the bugs and made it possible to navigate, there's still some issues that can't be rid of. For example, it is a law of the internet that every Flash based site absolutely must put all descriptive text in boxes that are hardly big enough for one paragraph (or one sentence from Robinson Crusoe, by the way I hate that book). This means that you have to scroll every other sentence. And if that's not annoying enough, you can't scroll with your scroll wheel because it's in Flash. So you have to hold down the scrolly-rectangle and drag it every few seconds. Then the low frame rate makes it choppy so you will lose your place. And if there's lots of text, you'll likely scroll past where you wanted to read since more text scrolls faster. If that's not bad enough, some sites like to animate the scrolling and give it ease, so it can't be too easy to scroll to where you want to. If you're on a product page, you can forget about learning of the product.
And don't forget that if you refresh, you're thrown back to the site's homepage. When the whole site is done in Flash, all the pages are in Flash. This can be fixed by separating different pages into different flash files and putting them on their own pages, but then you have to wait for the unnecessary animation and all that crap to load. Even on a fast connection, this will take longer than a simple HTML page. 
I know that at the moment the best way to appeal to customers is to blind them with fancy animations on your site, but unfortunately it sucks. Even Apple, the company who is most known for sacrificing performance for aesthetics (although they don't do it that much these days) has a straightforward, HTML-based site. They do spruce it up with lots of Javascript and Quicktime, but that's just fine. There's also Maddox's site which contains zero Flash, Javascript that doesn't step into page aesthetics, and it works. It works great. He's even mentioned on his website how he gets more visits on his simple page than any company who spends tons of money on having a Flash site made. Maybe it's because his site is usable. He's also pointed out Google. Speaking of that, look at Google. I'm not even going to say why that supports my point.

Friday, December 12, 2008

That's it, Bush. I've had enough.

http://gizmodo.com/5108642/bush-and-co-poops-on-free-national-wi+fi

I admit, I never had anything against Bush. My family generally doesn't like him, and my area doesn't generally like him,  but since I don't keep on top of politics, my opinion has always been neutral.
But with this one thing he's done, I've had enough. Hopefully Obama will feel different. Knowing what a cool guy he is, that seems likely.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Dear Metroid Prime Hunters, what the hell am I supposed to do?

For no reason I can think of, I've started playing my DS again. I decided to give Metroid a 5th chance (that's not a guess) and I am reminded of why I've given up on it so many times before. Bascially, this game leaves you in big, confusing maps without giving you any prompts on what you're supposed to do. You will spend hours checking out every orifice of every room, hallway, tunnel, etc until you find out what you're supposed to do. And still, sometimes you won't. Now I admit I have less of an attention span with video games than I used to, which is part of why I've stopped playing them. If any point in a game it takes too long to move on, I will likely give up on it for a while. That doesn't change that this game is confusing as hell. There is a "scan visor" that you can use to check out various parts of an area for possible hints on what to do, but sometimes that doesn't help and you're left totally in the dark. You don't even know if you should save when you turn it off because you can't tell if you've made any progress.
I think the absolute worst thing about this game though, is the demo. You see, I bought the first Nintendo DS very early on, so I got that free demo of the game with it. The demo was pretty great. It gave you a taste of what you were supposedly going to get in the full version. I loved (and still love) the gameplay style. The demo was really just "walk around in a smallish map and shoot things until you die." It was great fun, and I certainly wanted the game. The demo was such a tease though, when I still played my DS often I played the demo more than the full version. I know it's a little late for a review of this game if you'd even call this a review, but my blog is where I go to bitch about stuff. And bitch I shall. 

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Bratz are discontinued.

Mattel sued whoever makes Bratz because of something. I don't know the detail and don't feel like finding a link, but point is, Bratz are being discontinued. This is awesome, maybe now I can go to the mall without seeing some 8 year old's thighs.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Energy shots

They're a nice concept, but does anyone want to pay $3 for two ounces of caffeinated goodness? No. There's no magic at work here, no super expensive ingredients, they just cost ludicrous amounts of money. I'll start buying them when they're about $.50, which is how much they should cost.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

What the fuck is this shit?

Now Monster's Beats headphones have an in-ear version. I'll see if I can try a pair so I can criticize them as soon as possible.

Shopping carts. A curse, or a blessing?

So apparently people at places with shopping carts don't like it when said carts are left in the middle of the lot. And can you blame them? They roll around and damage cars and suck. And the employees have to put them back. But are they all bad?
The answer is no. Carts that are left in those long strings of dirt in the middle of lots are good, because people can park by them (or park near them) for added convenience in getting a cart. I say employees should leave these in the lot to give people this added convenience. Plus, the people just might put the carts back later. And in case they don't, then it's no harm done. So everyone wins. Just don't leave your damn carts in the middle of the lot.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

"Yous" is not a word.

Seriously, shut up New Jersey. Any pluralization of the word "you" makes you sound like you never went to school. "You" is both a singular and a plural, so "yous," "yiz," "yuz," etc. are not words. Ironically, the people who use these are the same people who will go into a fit of rage when you say anything bad about NJ. Maybe people would like NJ more if you could go there without being screamed at about your preferred sports team and have you and the rest of the fans referred to as a "yous."

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Dear webcomic artists, "20016032." is not a good file name

For those of us who save every entertaining picture we see (me), this is pretty annoying. At the moment I have 2996 comics in my comic folder. I also keep original file names so I won't save the same one more than once. However, when every comic ever has that kind of filename, it can cause problems. Even though it seems unlikely, I have had to rename comics because I had different comics with the same name. My point is, just give your comics a real file name or we are not friends. Thank you.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Apple netbook? Yes please.

So analysts are saying that Apple might make a netbook sometime next year. I am all for this. I love netbooks. It's so nice to have a fully functional computer to carry around with you everywhere. I mean I don't actually have one, but I've got my eye on that Acer Aspire One. Still, if Apple made one, that'd be incredible. Knowing me, I would buy it on a whim without thinking, assuming I had the money on release. It'd probably be about $500 knowing Apple, which is about the most I want to spend anyway. I think they could make a pretty great netbook if they decided to go into that market. I mean they went into portable media players and phones, so the next step is (or should be, rather) netbooks. I hope they release one soonish though. I know that if I get a netbook it'll be sometime next year, and it'll be after I've gotten a few other things (namely speakers). Hopefully that'll be enough time for Apple to announce a netbook, or at least enough time for some believable rumors to show up online. Analysts are like wishful thinking, they will either tell you what you want to hear or the opposite of what you want to hear. I get my hopes up when I see some spy shots, "in the wild" shots, descriptions from people who have been useful in the past (Kevin Rose, anyone?) etc. If so much as one of those should show up before I get mine, you can expect me to go into a shell of no-netbooks until there is proof of an Apple one or proof that there won't be an Apple one. If they don't make one though, there's still the Aspire One, which is a really great netbook. The screen is pretty high res and colorful, the speaker's not bad, and it comes in some pretty powerful configurations, especially for it's price and size.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

videoCWK's Top 10 Ugly Cars

Everywhere you go you will see an ugly car and think to yourself, "Who would buy that?" Well this blog post is for me to supply to you what the ugliest cars ever are. The cars you're about to read of are so horrendously ugly that no one, not even Buddha, would be able to think of a reason for someone to buy them. And now, we begin.

10. Chrysler PT Cruiser
Just look at it. It's so ugly. It's a failed attempt at a classic car. It's like they took the old Beetle and tried to make it an SUV.

9. Chrysler PT Cruiser
The grill on this one is just ridiculous. Look at how badly it contrasts with the rest of the car, which is pretty ugly anyway. So awful.

8. Chrysler PT Cruiser Convertible
And you thought the regular 'Cruiser was ugly. It's basically the same thing, but they found a way to take the upper half of the car and make it even uglier.

7. Chrysler PT Cruiser
Look at how the headlights sit below the hood like that. It's just so stupid. 

6. Chrysler PT Cruiser
The trunk on this one looks so weird, and not in a good way. 

5. Chrysler PT Cruiser
It looks like they took an ugly SUV and squeezed it until it was uglier and also smaller.

4. Chrysler PT Cruiser
Surely you've seen this one before. Unfortunately for us all, this one somehow managed to get popular. It comes in every color but will always look stupid. It even comes in gold, in case you feel that it doesn't already look awful enough.

3. Chrysler PT Cruiser
I just can't imagine driving this. I would feel so ridiculous, I'd probably have to apologize to everyone who looks at it in disgust for staining their eyes with such an abomination.

2. Chrysler PT Cruiser
I don't think I even need to describe this one. Just go find a picture of it. A picture tells a thousand words, but this picture tells a thousand screaming babies.

1. Chrysler PT Cruiser
I think this is an experiment done by Chrysler, to see how ugly a car could get and still sell healthily. Well, I hope they're happy, because it doesn't get uglier than this. This is the king, the lord of ugly cars. This is the car you find in the parking lot to park your Subaru Baja or Pontiac Aztek next to so it will look less bad. Or maybe you'll park your car that looks awesome (in comparison) next to it (such as a Honda Element) to remind the owner how stupid their car looks. Seriously, I can't possibly imagine why anyone would buy this. This is the car that rich men give their wives for Christmas when they want a divorce. 

That's my list of ugly cars. It got pretty difficult to decide between 2 and 1, but ultimately the PT Cruiser took the prize. 

Monday, November 24, 2008

Dear Microsoft Office for Mac, I hate you.

I wonder if Microsoft tested this at all before releasing it. When I left Windows for OS X I thought I was done with Microsoft's antics, but apparently it's not that easy. A while ago my dad got Microsoft Office for Mac for his Air and let me install it. So far it has been nothing but problems. Windows will occasionally decide to switch spaces without being prompted to do so, the formatting window will follow me through spaces, when I go to save a file for the first time the window it's in gets pushed to the back and I have to minimize all the others so I can get to it, and then there's just tons of random bugs. This is horrible, I don't know what Microsoft was thinking when they released this crap. I'm seriously going back to TextEdit, which is OS X's stock text editor. It's not as feature-loaded, but it's not like Notepad or anything and the best thing is, I have never had a single issue with it. It probably took 20 minutes for some Apple developer to code and I'm fairly sure it has remained untouched since the first version of OS X. Very disappointing, Microsoft.

But for the record, I wasn't expecting much anyway. Microsoft Office has never been that good for me (especially Word, as soon as you want to change fonts or add a picture, you're basically screwed). But I wasn't expecting this.

I wish I had lots of money...

...so I can get some cheap Matin Logans. Tweeter is going out of business and my dad doesn't want to get any.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Dear Blu-Ray, you are annoying.

Does anyone else hate it how it takes weeks to get from turning on your Blu-Ray player to watching the movie? Seriously, I wish it wouldn't take it's time and just get the job done like DVD used to. First it takes like 8 minutes to start up, then another 8 minutes to load the movie (12 minutes if it's the first time watching the movie on that player). Maybe I'm exaggerating, I don't know. Time slows down so much when you're trying to watch a Blu-Ray movie. It's bad enough if it's a casual movie-watching, but if you have friends over or something and you just want to get to  watching the movie, it's even worse. Maybe my dad's player is just screwed up, but my point is that this sucks. Sure, I bet there's a lot of technological flib-flab explaining why  takes this long, but no amount of excuses will make me hate the wait any less. Any amount of logical excuses about this would be like if a sweet old grandma told you a heart warming story about how 9-11 might have benefitted someone. Sure, but 9-11 was still horrible. This is basically the same thing.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Blackberry Storm, first impression

So today I was at BJ's and got a chance to use the Blackberry Bold at the Verizon kiosk. I thought at first that the clicky screen would make it awkward to use and after a few minutes I found that assumption to be pretty much correct.
Browsing menus felt a little strange. Maybe it's because I'm used to the way it's done on other touch phones like the iPhone, but it was strange anyway. Many times I found myself clicking when I didn't want to and not clicking when I did. The keyboard is even worse though. While they have found a sensible way to give tactile feedback on a touch keyboard, it doesn't really work. The blue glow you get from touching the keys doesn't do a great job of showing you which one you're touching, and since you have to let go of the screen between every key-press (you don't really notice it on other phones, but you typically don't give any time where you don't touch the keyboard between key presses). Because of the this, you have to type pretty slow in order to hit all the keys. It also tires your thumbs out to be clicking it like that. I think it'd be much better as a slider.
However, the touch part of the screen was very sensitive. I'm fairly certain it's the same type of touch surface that is used on the iPhone, since it works no matter how lightly you touch it with your finger but it doesn't work at all when you use anything else.
I also played with the browser a little, but I couldn't really do anything with it. Yes, it loaded a website and from what I saw, was displaying it correctly. Problem is, I couldn't navigate the site at all. In an attempt to click a button, it took it's time and then zoomed in. I was a bit confused, but figured it'd be easier to click it this way. Nope, it paused and zoomed in again. This kept happening until the button filled the screen and I still couldn't click it. That was when I gave up on this phone.
I bet it would be a much nicer phone if it didn't have that click-screen. That's pretty much what ruined it. It was a good attempt, I'll give them that, but unfortunately it just failed to live up to what it should have. Now normally after using something that's this new I'll end up with an impression that's sort of like "I think I could get used to this with time." This isn't the case though. With time, I might get used to navigating it. But I don't think I could ever get used to that keyboard. Plus, even if I did get used to navigating/typing, the click would just make it slower in general to navigate or type. For comparison, I had an "I could get used to this" impression with the iPhone keyboard, phone keyboards in general, the iPod click wheel, the Blackberry Pearl keyboard, and the Wii remote. And I got used to all of those fairly quickly. I think it would be a good decision on RIM's part if they'd just drop the click and ignore the "vibrate" feedback everyone else is doing. That could make this a pretty good iPhone competitor. Or maybe they could just make it an option to have it work without the click. That'd work too. By the way, it does have an accelerometer. There aren't any fancy animations like the iPhone has, but it works without lag and gets the job done. 

Friday, November 21, 2008

Attention: Emotional women

That song you love is not about you. The artist did not have you in mind when he wrote it and probably doesn't know you anyway, and if he did he wouldn't have written a song about an emotional woman who he knew would go around being all "THIS SONG IS ABOUT ME" about it anyway, so just shut up.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Beats by Dr. Dre

You may have heard of it. It's a pair of headphones, made by Monster Cable and endorsed by some guy named Dr. Dre. They cost $350 and are basically what you'd expect them to be, that being otherwise mediocre headphones that are drowning in hype and covered in endorsements and logos. I tried these today and they really disappoint.
They are somewhat comfortable, I'll give them that. But the mids were very thin. I listened to an Earth Wind and Fire song (September, if you're curious) on the iPod Touch I used them on (this was at the Apple Store) and the vocals were very lifeless. There was a huge lack of any kind of warmth, and I just wasn't "feeling" the music.  I admit, this is the only song I tried, but if you've heard it you'll know that after hearing how it sounded on them, I didn't need to hear any other songs.
Despite that it really lacks in sound quality, the noise canceling was pretty good. The apple store was busy today and therefore, pretty noisy. Even before I put on the music, there was a pretty noticeable amount of noise reduction.
So in conclusion, don't buy these. Don't let your friends buy these. These are the first Monster product I've dealt with and even though I know of their reputation among the high end crowd, I was going to remain unbiased until I had a reason to like or dislike them. Because of these headphones, I don't think I'll be buying any Monster products in a good while. I really can't believe that they are charging $350 for these, either. Not even Bose rips their customers off that much. At least Bose makes good headphones. Aside from costing extreme amounts of money, Bose's at least have pretty good sound quality and are very comfortable (much more than the Beats). But seriously, my V-Moda Vibes ($100) sound worlds better than the Beats, and they fit in my pocket.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Whoever says iPods aren't durable is stupid

Or at least new iPods. Chances are, you know of my iPod Classic 80gb. Today while at the mall I dropped it due to trying to change songs without putting a coffee down. Now I have dropped it before, a few times on cement, but those times it was in the iPod sock. This time it was fully unsocked. Not only does it still fully work (as opposed to breaking open, freezing, exploding, liquifying, or doing anything else that an iPod-hater would tell you), but it suffered no cosmetic damage. I'm not exaggerating. When I spend a lot of money on something, I tend to be kind of crazy about keeping it working and retaining it's out-of-the-box beauty. I looked it over on all sides maybe four times and it didn't seem to have suffered any significant scratches on the back, and the whole front, screen and all, were still totally intact. Anyone who says iPods break easily is either stupid or stuck in the past (when they did break easily).
Oh and while we're on the subject, the battery is not guaranteed to die forever after a year and a half of use. My girlfriend's 4th gen, black and white iPod died recently. To my understanding, it was pretty old. The screen was more worn out than the battery. But it didn't die on account of the battery, it died due to a hard drive failure. Anyone who tells you that iPods are a ripoff because of that is pretty stupid.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Put those speakers on hold.

http://www.thinkgeek.com/geektoys/rc/a427/?cpg=81H

I am buying this. They're on sale now too if I get $25+ worth of stuff from ThinkGeek I get one for free so that way I only spend $10 to get both. The speakers will wait, this is very important.

And about not having anything to write about? That's a lie as of now.

Nothing to post about

I have not posted anything recently because there is absolutely nothing to write. It has become such a problem that I am now able to write about the problem itself, thus defeating it except I can't think of anything else to write.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

They lied!

Klipsch told me that they wouldn't have the Promedias back in stock until next year. Well they're in stock now. I think I'm going to buy them even though I already have these headphones. Since it's somewhat common knowledge that you can't play loud music on IEMs because they will kill your ears in four seconds, I don't play music loudly on them. I know that if you have good headphones you don't need to play it loud, but some songs just need to be played loud. Like Ballroom Blitz. Anyway I think I will buy these or maybe ask for them for Christmas. That's really all this post is about.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

What the fuck is this shit?

Chances are, you know of the Reese's Peanut Butter Cup. It's widely hailed as the "greatest thing ever."
However, this halloween I thought they seemed a bit smaller. But I brushed it off, maybe I'm just crazy.
But just now I opened one and it was definitely bigger than the others. So what the fuck?
I google it and yes, they are smaller. For the same price. Screw Reese's, I'm making my own peanut butter cups.

V-Moda Vibe, two weeks later

In case you didn't see the first review, here you go.

Anyway, it's been two weeks (actually two weeks and a day) since I bought them. I think the initial review was maybe four days in. If you've read it (and if you haven't, go do that now) then I'm sure you know that I didn't return them like I said I might.
Even though the fit was terrible on the first day, using them very often (I do mean VERY often, I wore them literally whenever I had the chance, even if I wasn't listening to anything, just because I liked the sound and didn't want to get rid of them) helped a lot. During the first few days I had a problem where they'd gradually slide out every few minutes, but that is no more. They feel very soft in the ears now, and stay in quite well. If you get a pair and have the problem I did, give them a week of very frequent use. You'll be glad you did.
Other than that, what else do I think of them after two weeks? Well the sound is better. As I mentioned in the first review, they drop off on the highs. After the first week though, they seem to have finished breaking in. Another review I read said that it takes them about 10 hours to break in. Maybe 10 hours for the immediate break in, but frequency tests showed significant distortion on 16000kHz after 10 hours. After a week though, the distortion was there but much less significant. I've also helped with the highs by equalizing them just a bit. Here's a screenshot of my iTunes equalizer settings for the headphones:


The slight bass boost is optional since it performs just fine there, I just wanted a little more bass. The significance here is the highs. Does that help? Yes. This gives a subtle, yet important boost in clarity and spaciousness. Even though they sound good prior to equalization, after equalization I don't think I want to hear them again without it.
Yesterday was my last day to return them and quite clearly, I didn't. I don't regret it at all, these are great headphones. I'd still recommend them, so if you're in the business for some IEMs and your price range is around $100, give these some serious consideration. 

Saturday, November 1, 2008

"Fun Size" candy. Nothing fun about it.

Where does the term "fun size" come from? I was raised knowing that more candy equals more fun. A giant huge candy bar is much more fun than a super tiny one. So where does "fun size" come from? Maybe it's supposed to make people feel less sad that they are eating a candy bar that is small enough to be eaten in one bite. "Oh jeez, this candy is really small. But hold on, it's fun size! All is well now." C'mon. Why not call it something more realistic, like "less fun size" or "just go get the big one" size.

And yes, Halloween did inspire this blog post. Call trick or treating as childish as you want to, as long as I'm young enough to get free candy for almost no reason, I'm gonna do that.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Really? People STILL think this way?

So, Proposition 8. Can you believe this? Why is it even something to debate over? This country needs to realize that their religions are wrong, and that there's nothing wrong with being gay.
Think about it, love is love. Gender doesn't have much to do with it. While marriage is based in religion, and religion is heavily biased against gay people, this isn't even religious-type marriage. It's "I die and you get the house" marriage. Plus, it makes the relationship more official. Why does it bother anyone if gay people get married?
I just find it hard to believe that in today's modern age there can still be people basing their thoughts and beliefs off religion. It made sense in the 1500s when they didn't have science and they needed to believe that all their hard work trying to survive would pay off somehow after they died. Plus it gave them something to live for. Think about it, if religion wasn't so widely believed, it would seem as likely of being true as a fairy tail. Plus, it interferes with the real world way too much. I wouldn't mind it if people left it in their churches because then it wouldn't be a problem. But no, instead people take it with them everywhere, causing tons of problems outside, in the real world. This might cause something as small as a minor conflict or argument in public. But it causes problems as big as Proposition 8 or in extreme cases, wars.
Dedicated religious people are some of the worst people out there. You'd think that someone who spent a lot of time on a religion was a friendly, good person. That isn't the case though. The dedicated-religious people can't stand people living their own lives. They won't let people live without their burden. It doesn't matter how silent you keep it, they simply aren't OK with people living peaceful lives. This brings us back to Proposition 8.
What about gay people bothers them personally? It's just so immature, I can't believe that these are grown adults doing this. Are gay people brainwashing children into believing thousand-year old fairy tails? Are they teaching people to make life hell for people who aren't gay? Do they walk around trying to turn other people gay? Maybe some do, but I haven't heard of that happening. As far as I'm concerned, people being gay or getting married to people of the same gender doesn't concern the religious at all, nor does it interfere with them or their lives. In a way, religion is just another example of how we (as a species) are not done developing. Yes, it served it's purpose thousands of years ago when people needed it to get through the day. It has no purpose anymore. When was the last time any religion did anything other than bother people? That's all it is, all religions are doing anymore is either bothering people or sitting there without doing anything.

By the way, I'm not an atheist. I do believe there is a God, or some kind of higher-being. I just can't see the world without one. However, I don't follow any religion because they all seem to be corrupt, and none of them have yet to show any signs of being true or right, I have no reason to follow any. 

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

V-Moda Vibe headphones

So I recently decided that I am getting a Macbook. To assist in this, I decided to put my expensive speaker system "project" aside and get headphones. I don't know if I've mentioned it here before, but I'd been wanting a pair of IEMs. So I was in the Apple store (this was when I was using the Macbooks) and I figured since I was there, I'd look at headphones. A salesman helped me out, and like all Apple salesmen (or at least the ones I've dealt with), he was pretty helpful. I told him that I was interested in the in-ear ones, and he showed me the Vibes and some Sennheisers, saying he heard good things about both. I looked over both and decided I liked the Vibe pair more. The Vibes were purely in-ear while the Senns wrapped around the ear. There's nothing wrong with that, but for the sake of comfort and portability, I went with the Vibes.
And by "I went with the Vibes," I mean I went with the Vibes the next day since I hadn't brought my wallet with me that day. So I picked them up ($100) and I took them to my house. They come in an attractive box, which shows the headphones (as in the headphones that are in the box, not a picture)through some plastic on a backdrop of some fading colors with a translucent face on them. Opening the box, I found out that the plastic wasn't sitting there, it was one of those awful hard plastic packages that you need a chainsaw to open.
After some hurt fingers and a pair of scissors that were probably dulled from opening it, I had the headphones. They feel as great as they look in the packaging.
The build quality is just great, they definitely feel like something you'd drop $100 on. They come in five colors, which all look good. The TRS connectors are gold plated and the plug is made of aluminum. The splitter on the cord that splits into the actual ear pieces is made of aluminum. The ear pieces are made of aluminum. And the cord is wrapped in a durable yet flexible fabric. All the aluminum is the same color, which is whatever color you got them in. They look very good, and they're advertised as being "fashion headphones" so I suppose that kind of accounts for something.
But looks aren't everything, sound is the most important thing. The packaging and advertising would have you believe that they were "basshead" headphones. You know what I mean, those kinds of headphones that saturate the music with way too much bass. To me, the bass is very even. It seems to be contrasted very well with the rest of the sound, not having too little or too much of it. Bass is very clear and strong though. If you do like it to sound bassy though, you can equalize them. When I got them my iPod was still equalized (I've set all my sources of audio to EQ-off since these seem pretty accurate) and the bass was a little heavy as a result. It didn't lose quality though, it kept it's good-soundingness. All the vocals I've listened to on them so far (which is a lot, I've been using them a lot since I got them) sounded warm and good. I suppose the overall sound quality could be described as "warm," although not too warm.
Ghetto frequency tests (basically I played a sine wave and then listened) show me that the advertised frequency response isn't much to believe. I think it's advertised as 12hz-22kHz, but that's just flat out wrong. They don't hit 25hz. They also seem to fail on the highs (but this hasn't bothered me much, despite this they still sound very good). They don't hit 17kHz properly, and 16kHz distorts. The frequency tests weren't that elaborate, but for whatever reason these frequency dropoffs don't seem to affect the sound that much.
They also hold up well when given noisy music. If you're a Franz Ferdinand fan, you'll probably know that they tend to make loud, busy music. In my experience, a lot of speakers have trouble reproducing it without mashing the sounds together somewhat or downright distorting. These, however, handle it fine. Same goes for Smash Mouth's noisier songs. 
Now that I've covered sound quality, I'll talk about how they fit. At first, they hardly stayed in my ears at all. After hearing them though I wanted to see if I could keep them. This was with the smallest ear gel size. My ears seem to be adjusting to them though, they're fitting and staying in much better now (I got them on Saturday, at the time of this writing it's Tuesday). It seems that the white gels (you get three sizes of ear gels and you get them in black and white) are softer and more flexible, they fit to my ears better. For the record though, my mom tells me that she has small ear canals and can never use in-ear anything because all the gels are always too big. So I might just have small ear canals. My girlfriend says they fit her perfectly, so remember that what doesn't work for me might work great for you. It's just like this with IEMs. I emailed the company to suggest that they start making a smaller ear gel size for people like me and learned that they have plans to in the next few months, so that's good news. I'm still deciding whether or not to keep these (because of the fit, the sound quality is awesome and that's why I haven't returned them already). I'm giving them until the weekend, as I'm told by a friend that this just happens when you buy your first IEMs.
So in conclusion, I would highly recommend these. There's almost nothing bad about them, and for most, the good will outweigh the bad. Go buy some.

Don't worry guys, Starbucks isn't that bad.

A lot of people like to talk shit about Starbucks, but I can't seem to find out why. Yes, their coffee doesn't taste like you might like it. But that's why everyone has a preferred coffee joint. My favorite chain would have to be Gloria Jean's and my favorite nonchain is The Coffee Beanery (considering that one isn't a chain, I mean I've only seen one). They have some pretty good stuff.
Anyway, Starbucks really isn't that bad. I usually get an iced white mocha which is pretty good there. Things do get a bit expensive, but since the only one I go to is in a bookstore I frequent, it's convenient. I don't think I'd go as often without the coffee.
Probably the one thing about Starbucks that takes the biggest hit is their employees. I think we've all had a bad experience in Starbucks. I mean I haven't, but my mom has. Not all the employees deserve your wrath though, in fact the ones in this particular Starbucks that I go to are pretty great. They're friendly, they work pretty fast (my mom tells me of a Starbucks she's been to where it can take that long, not counting the time you spend in line), and they make good conversation. 
There are some things I don't like about them though. There's the prices, but there's also the smell of a Starbucks. There's no coffeelicious smell. What's up with that? Coffee smells much better than it tastes. I love the smell of coffee while I have to fill it with stuff in order to tolerate it's actual flavor (hence why I never get a plain coffee). Plus, wouldn't that prompt people to buy more of it? I just miss that good coffee smell that you would commonly expect in a coffee place. Where does the smell go, anyway? I don't imagine it's easy to deal with all that coffee and still maintain the smell of plain air.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Screw JPG and it's deteriorating image quality

When you save a JPG, it loses a little image quality. What was once a high quality JPG could turn into a blocky mess after it's been passed around a lot. This sucks for everyone, especially those of us on the receiving end of those JPGs. I say, boycott JPG. PNG is better because it doesn't suck. If you happen to see a good quality JPG of an image worth saving, save it and make a PNG copy. You'll be doing good for thousands of people. And if you happen to get that JPG off a Wiki site, be sure to replace it with the PNG version as soon as you finish converting.

Friday, October 17, 2008

So I'm using one of the new Macbooks

Yes, I'm in an Apple store at the moment, posting from one of the new Macbooks. It's very nice. The trackpad is really great. I mention that first because I'm sure at first glance, the first thing most people will think is that it'll be bad without a dedicated button. But actually, the whole thing being a button is very nice. It allows for a lot of productivity since you can click anywhere, and if you don't feel like doing that, you can click in the bottom as if it had a button there and that won't make it strange to use. I like it a lot. It's also very smooth and easy to run your finger on, so you'll probably like it. It's also really big, which is great. The button isn't too hard or too easy to click, so it won't be distracting. I also like the "gestures." It took about one second to get used to all of them and I really like it. For example, the four finger "swipes" to activate Expose is really nice. It's very functional and because of the smoothness, it's just a joy to do. There's various ways you can "secondary-click" (which is the Mac term for right click). One way is to set a region of the trackpad to be your "secondary click" area so that when you click there, you get the menu. Another way (my preferred way, which is very nice and functional) is to set it so that a two-finger tap brings up the secondary-click menu. It's pretty nice and easy to get used to, I really like it.
They include Spore Creature Creator on all the Macbooks in the store so you can test the graphics. I ran it for a few minutes and I'm very impressed. The new Macbook is great, I'm definitely going to get one.

Edit: I've found what some people might consider to be a fatal flaw. There is quite a noticeable amount of blur when things move on the screen. It's not so bad when it's slow, but if you're doing something like dragging a window quickly, it's pretty noticeable. When I dragged a window around pretty fast, icons in that window blurred a noticeable amount. This won't keep me from getting one, but it is kind of annoying.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Let's face it, if pandas looked like the youngest Jonas Brother we would've let them die years ago

For real. If they weren't walking around being all cute all the time, we would've let them die years ago. I mean, they clearly want to die. It's not easy for an entire species to stop having sex forever. If they were ugly like that Jonas brother or the Chrysler Cruiser, we would've let them go extinct as soon as they wanted to. Now we're putting them together in enclosures with perfect sex environments during mating season and letting them do whatever they want and when they still don't have sex, we sedate them and put panda cum in the lady-bear. The only thing keeping them alive is their cuteness.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

So how 'bout them Macbooks?

Anyone seen the new Macbooks? Sexy as hell. I'll get one sometime. And then life will be amazing.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Crabapples are the best kind of apple

I remember when I was little and we had a huge crabapple tree in our front yard. I asked my dad one day if they were poisonous since I didn't know what they were. He said they weren't, but just like every other person ever, he said they'd cause a stomachache (I've never had any kind of ache from eating them). I tried one and they are the fucking greatest thing ever. I don't know why people don't like them. They're like candy, but the best kind of candy. They're sour and sweet and they're awesome and they don't cause diabetes like regular candy. There is really nothing not to like. I spent the next week eating every apple on that tree and then I was sad because there were no more. Then when there were more, I was pretty damn happy. I can't wait to live in my own house so I can plant them all over my yard. Let's face it, everyone is vegan for crabapples. Some are just too afraid of what their friends and family will think to admit it.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

I KNOW WHAT I AM DOING FOR SPEAKERS

So I initially wanted the Klipsch Promedia 2.1s. But then Klipsch decided to stop selling them everywhere but their online store. I emailed them about how the Promedias had been out of stock on their website for quite some time. And I found out that they wouldn't be in stock 'till January.
There's no way in hell I'm waiting that long, so it's time to look into other systems. For a little while, I had nothing I liked more than the Promedias. Then I found the M-Audio Av 40s. They're powered monitors, used for budget home studios and whatnot. Reviews are very favorable, they should sound as good if not better than the Promedia satellites (probably better due to the MDF cabinet and 4" drivers). I'm going to order those first.
That's dandy, but they have no sub. I can't have no sub. So I've found the Polk PSW10. It's a small subwoofer, ported, with a 10" driver. For comparison, the Promedia sub was ported with a 6.5" driver. I found it via Yahoo! Answered. I asked the question and told what I wanted (at least 30hz, powered, $100 to $150) and the only answer turned up this sub. It's exactly what I need. It's $230 new, but on Amazon it's a lot less, so that's what I'm getting for a sub. I'm gonna have to connect it strangely though. The M-Audios have the amp in the left speaker. Then the right speaker connects to the left one through regular speaker wire, they both use clips for connectors. Well I'm running the left speaker into the sub's speaker-in (it uses speaker clips for input and output, which are for use with amps that don't have a dedicated sub-out) and then going from the sub's speaker-out into the right speaker. That's up until I get the preamp.
I looked on Amazon and found the Gemini PA-7000 preamp. It's $80, and it completes the setup. The setup will be somewhat complex just for a computer speaker system, but it works. It's going from the computer's 3.5mm headphone jack to the preamp's AUX input (using a converter cable for 3.5mm to RCA, which comes with the M-Audios), then one of the preamp's outputs (the preamp I'm using has two) goes to the M-Audios and the other goes to the sub. I do realize that a preamp is going to be somewhat unnecessary, but I want it for several reasons. One, using one will make the most sense for setting up that sub with these speakers. Setting it up the way I will before I get the preamp will be just a bit awkward. Two, I like the idea of having tone controls that are just that available (it has a knob for bass, midrange, and treble). Three, I like that you can plug in multiple sources. If we ever move or if I just move the setup for any reason, I can plug in various sources (like a DVD player and some game systems) and have it work like that. Without the preamp, I'd have to change the cables manually whenever I changed sources. Plus, after the addition of the preamp, I basically have a pretty nice bookshelf system at my disposal.
So in conclusion, I'd like to thank Klipsch for making it difficult to get a pair of Promedias. If they hadn't, I'd have gotten those instead. Don't get me wrong, they're a great pair of speakers and I still have nothing bad to say about them. But if they hadn't made it so hard to get a pair, I never would've had the brilliant idea of getting this setup. I'm ordering the M-Audios soon. Plus, the Promedias are still the best 2.1 system I've heard in that price range. The promedias are still $150, which isn't a lot to pay for a good computer speaker system. At the least, the system I'm getting will end up costing $330, depending on the prices I can get on the sub and preamp when I go to buy them. Good thing I'm getting it in pieces. Expect a blog post for each part as I get it and the whole shebang after I get the preamp.

Update: Looks like the preamp only outputs through TRS and XLR. This may add complication.

Double update: I remembered that the M-Audios also do TRS. All is well, but I'll need some converters to make the sub work.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Even Microsoft likes Apple

Just saying, I think it's kinda funny how parts of their new "I'm a PC" site were made on a Mac. I know it's old news, but still. Look it up on Gizmodo or some other site of that nature for details.

While we're on this subject, who remembers those Xbox 360 demos at E3 that one year running off of PowerMac G5s? I thought that was pretty interesting, especially since they were in such plain sight.

Friday, October 3, 2008

"Cyber-bullying" clogged the bull

Yeah, it's that bad. Cyber bullying is the biggest bullshit since they said smoking was good for you. I don't care if it's causing 11 year olds to kill themselves, maybe they should take a moment to realize that they are being bullied by someone they can't see or hear, who they can block at any time. Or they could get off the internet since 11 year olds don't belong here anyway.
You hear them talk about it on TV like it's the biggest problem ever, but they think about it from a very one-sided standpoint. "Oh no, these awful people on the internet made a kid sad! Clearly it is the internet's fault, let's blame people who use the internet and no one else." That is a summary of every "cyber bulling is bad :(" discussion ever.
Guess what, the world is full of awful people. There is nothing anyone can do to make them go away. The internet connects awful people together and puts them in one place, so they can feel less bad about how awful they are by being awful to everyone. When you're online, you're pretty much in the position to talk to any bad person who uses a computer. Cyber bulling is nothing like actual bullying though. Actual bullying involves a person you can see, who can actually do things that can actually bother you. Anyone who feels sad because of cyber bullying doesn't belong on the internet, because quite simply, if you go on any website where you talk to other people, it's going to happen. Period. Nothing can be done about it. I don't know what causes people to be bothered by it either. Someone bothering you through IM? Block them. Email? Block them. If you're on a message board where everyone hates you, get off it.
Parents, if your kid is online, get him or her off. Kids don't belong online, period. They bother older people with their immaturity, which tends to trigger the cyber bullying in the first place. Then the kid stays on the website for months because for some reason, he or she can't just get off and never have to deal with anyone from it again.
And a lot of the time, the kids are instigating. The door swings both ways. When kids realize that they can say anything they want online and not get a time-out, they go totally apeshit. Every other word is a poorly written swear. Let me give you an example (written myself):

Mature person: "I enjoy listening to Franz Ferdinand. Does anyone else enjoy listening to this band of which is pretty good in my opinion?"

9 year old's response: "what th shit fucking dude tey suck jonas borthes 4ever!!! u r fucking so stupid u ass shit bitch u r so stpuid go suck ur moms cockLOLOL1!"

Anyone who's been on YouTube will probably describe that as accurate. The spelling and grammar of any kid online will bother everyone else, as well as the immaturity. You can argue that cyber bullies say whatever they want in front of the screen because they can't see the person, but would any of the little kids who do this say these things out loud to someone? No. So parents, get your kids offline.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Dear Apple, no one cares about iPhoto

IPhoto is really damn annoying. When you accidentally click on it in the dock (and I keep it there because sometimes I actually use it) it decides that when you go to close it, it'll take a while to do so. Then there's that whole "add to iPhoto" shit in Safari that is right under the "save image" selection in the control-click menu. I click that so often by accident and then I can either wait for iPhoto to finish doing that despite how much I don't want it to or force-quit iPhoto and have Safari sit there and not respond for five minutes until it realizes that iPhoto is not getting the picture, in which case it gives me an error message about it. You can't turn off the "add to iPhoto" thing either. IPhoto would be great if it was out of the way and wasn't so bothersome, but I'm gonna be honest, it is terrible in that sense. And it's not even that great to use. It's not very easy to figure out, and I try to avoid using it as much as I can. There should be some way to make iPhoto have nothing to do with anything on a Mac so I can make it disappear without uninstalling it. That way it will never have to interfere with anything I ever do. You know what? Screw it, I'm taking it out of the dock.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Shit shit shit

My computer speakers died. You know the ones (actually probably not), the Logitech Z4s.

http://www.amazon.com/Logitech-Speaker-System-Subwoofer-970175-0403/dp/B000AM6QHE/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=electronics&qid=1222803290&sr=1-1

They were not super, but they got the job done. It's sort of a good thing because now I can't buy anything until I have those Klipsch Promedia 2.1s, so I can no longer procrastinate getting them. Unfortunately, that means I'm using the Harmon/Kardon Champagnes or whatever they're called. They're...decent. Each speaker has two 1" drivers so they are pretty much tweeters. So the highs are pretty nice and the definition is OK. But, vocals tend to be hardly audible among all the other sounds on them, and I can't turn them up because the resonance is terrible. Oh well, they're not unbearable, and looking on the bright side, I'll have the Klipschs soon.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Books: The Vinyl of the Future

So people are wondering if digital books and book readers (such as the Kindle) are going to kill books one day. Well, it saves trees and is more convenient, but books will never go away forever. I smell the future of the Vinyl vs. CD debate though, next it'll be Book vs. Digital Book. Digital books can be stored by the thousands in something that weighs less than five books, but real books have clearer, more defined words. 
I can imagine being an old guy right now, telling my grandkids about how when I was their age, one book could weigh four pounds. Won't that be fun

Thursday, September 25, 2008

The Chrysler Cruiser is the ugliest car ever.

Just look at it. What the hell is that supposed to be? It looks like Chrysler tried to take a VW Beetle and turn it into an SUV. It's got the ugliest design I've ever seen. Just look at that grill. It's so stupid looking. Just like the rest of the car. I have no idea why anyone would ever think about getting one of these. It's like they wanted to make a timeless car like the Mini Cooper (which is coincidentally the greatest car ever) or the Beetle and failed horribly.

By the way, dried hot sauce is awesome. It's like hot sauce candy.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The new iPod Nano, my first impression

Today I got to stop by the Apple store and use the new Nanos (also iPod Touches). I had a pretty good time. The employees were very kind as usual. As you'd expect, this post is about the new Nano. So instead of filling your face with random useless info (I walked to Cold Stone Creamery and got some ice cream and it was good), I'm gonna get right to it.
It feels VERY good in the hand. It's very light (but still not too light) and thin. The curved edges definitely help to make it feel smaller. I probably spent a total of four minutes just fondling them and getting high off the colors. Speaking of the colors, my favorites on the Nanos would be silver (the black click wheel made it look a lot less basic and a lot more hell-yes), blue, and green. The build quality was probably the best of any iPod I've used yet. To put an end to this paragraph, it looks and feels very good in the hand (the curved click wheel wasn't annoying at all, despite my expectations).
So how's the interface on that awkward long screen? Really good. The spacious menus made navigating much easier. They also smoothed over all the animations, such as that sliding animation between screens. I definitely prefer it to the interface of previous iPods.
Cover flow was very good on the new Nano. It's definitely something I would use. From anywhere under "Music" you can turn the iPod on it's side and get to it. If you do it on the Now Playing screen, there's also an animation that rotates the album art 180ยบ and shrinks it into cover flow. Then you scroll.
I like that because it's a nice way to get right from Now Playing to scrolling by album. The accelerometer is responsive and quick, so there is hardly any turn-and-wait. You do have to turn it a pretty good amount though, but that's actually a good thing because it prevents accidental-cover flow. And cover flow has really been improved over what was in the previous iPods. Album art loads much faster and there is a lot less lag. The animations are smoother and scrolling is much easier. You can also scroll by letter by scrolling very fast, which I found to be very useful. And I know it wasn't like that just from the store having a small library, because on the new Classics it is still just as laggy and slow as ever, and all the iPods in the store have the same content on them. So essentially they took something that was totally useless before and made it pretty great. Something you might not know though is that when it's rotated, the buttons on the click wheel don't rotate their functions. So Menu is on the left, fast forward is on the top, rewind is on the bottom, and play/pause is on the right. It's not nearly as awkward as you'd think, though.
By the way, the new Now Playing screen is very pretty. I like the big album art covering the top, it looks very good (though I bet it looks kinda ugly when you play songs that don't have the art) and how they fit everything else on bottom without making it look cramped. Text is small, but readable. Animations (such as when you press the center button to change functions) are smooth here as well. I also like how they worked in Genius. For those who don't know, holding down the center button while on Now Playing brings up a menu on the top where you can choose to add that song to the On-the-Go Playlist or make a Genius playlist out of it) The Nano gets an A+.

And while I'm here, I'll say a few words about the other new iPods. The Classic is pretty pointless, as I've said before. Plus, it's an insult to everyone who owns the old Classic (me). Despite the nice improvements in the iPod Nano, you don't get any interface changes (no smooth animations), cover flow is still useless (I know it doesn't have an accelerometer, but they could have smoothed the animations and given it letter-scrolling), Genius seems out of place (if you hold the button on Now-Playing you don't get a pretty menu on top, it takes you to a whole new menu where you can't see the now-playing screen where you then choose what you want to do with that song), and it has support for the remote feature on the new iPod in-ear headphones. Why's the last one bad? Those of us with the old Classic (which is essentially exactly the same) are taunted with more (for us 80gbers) space and the headphone support and the lazy addition of Genius for the same money we paid for our 80gb iPods, and those with 160gb now have a less valuable iPod because the 120 is closer to 160 for the same cash the 80 once was. That sounds stupid, but when you pay $350 for an MP3 player, you want it to retain value for a while. Plus, the 160gbers, even if they're OK with paying another $250 for the unexciting new Classic, lose 40gb of space. I think we would've been better off if the Classic was left alone and if the new headphones used an adapter or something to connect through the dock connector (that way everyone with a recent iPod could use the remote).

The touch is cool. It's not super different from the old one. The thinness is very noticeable though. It's extremely thin. The back looks neat with the curved edges. It's pretty much the same as the old one, except for the built in Nike+iPod and the speaker. Oh yeah, and the speaker hardly makes it worth getting to replace a current touch. I guess it would be convenient if you forgot your headphones and wanted to put it right in your ear, but otherwise it has little purpose.

I hate other people's parents

You know what is terrible? When you're walking somewhere in public and out of nowhere your vision is filled with the chunky lumps of some fat little kid. It follows it's parent (who is not even always fat like the kid) around, picking up bags of candy from store shelves and toys and putting them in the cart without a word from the parent. What the fuck is wrong with these people? How can they live, feeding their kids horrible food (usually from McDonald's) and watching them expand like that? The worst of the two is fat little girls though. They're always wearing Hannah Montana shirts, and those are tight. No one wants to see that much detail in a fat woman, so when it's a little girl, it's just awful. And no one wants to see Hannah Montana anything, but that's beside the point.
I don't know what drives the parents to buy these or even let their kids see anything Disney has made in recent years. But it's just disgusting. 
Then there's the slightly older ones who wear ludicrous amounts of makeup. Again, I blame the parents for letting them. If I ever have a daughter, she won't wear ludicrous amounts of makeup. She won't wear any makeup at all for a while. And she won't be fat. If I ever have kids, none of them will be fat. I'll fill their heads with disgusting facts about McDonalds at a young age to scare them off it for life.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Dear old men who do yard work, put on a fucking shirt

You're fat and hairy and old and wrinkly. No one wants to see that much of you. Not even your wife or the people driving by. At least wear a bra.

Friday, September 12, 2008

To continue the post on iTunes 8...

Genius seems to put "Never gonna give you up" in more playlists than it should. Well played, Apple.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Dear "artists" signed with Disney, fuck you.

Artists signed with Disney need to be shipped to China so they can manufacture all their merchandise and get paid almost nothing for it. Then we should forget to pick them up. Seriously, they are the most personality-free, generic "teen idols" I have ever seen. They all play boring music that supports something important (like friendship or trying to explain to be yourself) and try to convert their audiences to Christianity or something. I mean come on now. At the end of Miley Cyrus's concert at the Kids Choice Awards (I watched it only because Jack Black was hosting it) she thanked her "lord and savior, Jesus Christ." In front of a bunch of impressionable kids. Was that really necessary? They do not need religion to be yet another thing being pumped into their easily influenced minds. "Mommy, we're going to hell because we don't worship God."
Then there's the Jonas brothers and their purity rings. Do you need a ring to tell people you won't have pre-marital sex? No, you could just say it. Besides, it's only a matter of time before nudes of them show up online, probably with other people involved (or each other). It happens with all famous women. Shit, they aren't women. Well they're close enough.

iTunes 8, pretty neat.

So I have of course upgraded to iTunes 8. So far I like it. That new visualizer looks pretty good, though I'm not really feeling that new album art song scrolling thing. It's neat, but I know I'll never use it.
I like Genius though. If you don't know what it is, it makes playlists for songs out of songs that go good with that song. It's neat. It also works on the iTunes store. If you open the Genius Sidebar, it recommends songs that you might like that go with whatever song you have highlighted in the song list. You can preview and buy them right there, and so far, I like Genius. Apparently instead of working by analyzing BPM and other such things regarding the song, it works via the internet. Genius keeps a database of all the music listened to by everyone who uses it. It keeps track of songs, ratings, plays, things like that. Then it somehow turns all that data into knowledge of which songs go with which other songs. It sounds like it wouldn't work at all, but I'm liking it so far. If I have it make me a playlist for a song I like and have it do 25 songs, 20 or more of them will probably be songs I won't skip, especially if I'm in a mood for songs that go with a song. For example, right now I'm listening to a playlist made from Rose Royce's Car Wash. It has a lot of Earth Wind & Fire songs as well as various others that I will listen to. I've also wanted various iTunes store recommendations that it's given me for various songs.
It's also got that visualizer, which I'm liking. It seems to change it's patterns, colors, and other things depending on the mood of the song playing. And that works pretty well.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

videoCWK's Rules for going in public

Hey everyone, due to various idiots I have compiled a list of rules for when you go in public. If you don't follow them, you are an asshole and you should stay at your house all the time. Get one of those "at home" jobs and order everything through mail, the public doesn't want you around.

1. Turn down your fucking cell phone. No one wants to hear your ringtone that dictates your shitty music taste blaring and distorting from your cell phone. It's annoying and not everyone likes top-40 R&B/hip hop songs.

2. I don't care if you're with your friends, stop trying to look cool and shut up. This one especially applies to preps who travel in packs. You know they wouldn't do the annoying-as-fuck disruptive things they do in public if they didn't have their pack of cheering friends with them. You people are not cool, your Abercrombie clothes suck, and shut up. I'm not against having fun with friends, I do it constantly, but I don't think everyone around you needs to hear you being stupid.

3. Stop talking loud on your phone. This applies heavily to single women in their 30s, but don't think it doesn't include you. Talking loud on the phone seems to make people feel cool and important. Instead, it makes you annoying and burnable. If you're sitting a few tables away from me in a cafe and I can hear your phone conversation with your girlfriend louder than the two people studying out loud next to me (yes, that happened once), something is wrong. If you can't place yourself outside or away from everyone else to make a phone call, at least try to do it quietly. Believe me, your phone will pick your voice up just fine if you don't talk loud enough for the person on the other line to hear you from where they are.

4. This one's for men, stop fucking up the public bathrooms. I'm sure it makes you feel manly to write your name in squiggles on the wall, or piss all over the seat, or piss somewhere discreet so the bathroom smells like piss forever, but seriously, go get shot in the face with a porcupine. Please. If you've ever been in a women's bathroom due to an out of order men's room or for some other reason, you've probably noticed that theirs was much much nicer. For example, at a local golf corse, the men's room is a small shitty hot room, that smells like piss, that looks like piss, and is always dirty. The women's room (I used it once because I had to crap and the toilet in the men's room was covered in a rainbow of body fluids) looks like your grandma's house. It had drapes on the windows, real towels, it was clean, there was a carpet, the toilet was in it's own separate room from the bathroom, it even had fake flowers in a vase. This is because women have enough respect for their own gender to not fuck up the bathroom for everyone else. So, fellow men, before you continue trying to satisfy feminists (but you don't really have to try, they're always going to be finding something to bitch about), learn to respect your own gender.

5. You're in a movie theater. Get off the phone, stop texting, stop talking to the guy next to you, or just fucking die. If it's an important call, get out of the theater. They put reminders EVERYWHERE for a reason, it's because fucking assholes like you keep bothering everyone with your damn phone calls. I don't care how quiet you're trying to be, we can still hear you. And don't forget to put it on vibrate. Everyone hates your ringtone, especially during a movie. Also, discuss the movie with your friend AFTER it has ended rather than during it. 

6. The people playing DDR do not need you to bother them. Why do you need to bother the people playing DDR? Are they bothering you? No one wants you to step on arrows while they play or get on the other pad and pretend you're autistic, you aren't funny, your mom regrets having you.

7. Don't jam arcade machine coin slots with too many coins. This makes it unplayable to anyone else. Excited about the game? Good, now put them in one at a time. By stuffing the machine full of tokens, you are being an asshole to everyone. Once some idiot threw a basketball behind a basketball machine at an arcade and it happened to unplug the ITG machine I was using. So I wanted a refund. The arcade operator was happy to supply one, but it had to wait because some moron thought it would be smart to cram an extreme amount of coins into some other machine. Since he complained to the operator (all the while acting like it wasn't entirely his fault) and the operator had to check it out, it took quite a while to get my refund. I still got it though. They may have had to replace a part in the machine's coin slot because the  coins were hopelessly jammed in.

8. If you're at a coffee shop, fast food place (hopefully not McDonalds), or other place with service like either of those places, let people cut you if you don't know what you want. If I can't decide on something when I'm at a place like this, I let everyone in front of me until I know what I want. Do not stand at the front of the line and hold everyone up forever if you don't know what you want. It's rude and there's no point in doing it. Why not use the time you're gonna spend in line to find out what you want? People who wait until they're at the counter to start thinking of what they want to get are idiots.

9. Leave your kids at home. Unless you know they aren't going to scream, yell, make sound, misbehave, cry, or whine, leave them at home. No one needs to know they exist and you'd be making the world a better place to leave them at home, or better yet, not have kids at all.

10. Is your kid a bratty asshole? Don't have any more. Ever see those parents with four asshole little kids, all out of control, and the parent is having an awful time? Well, they should  stop having kids. Everyone hates them, one was already too many. Stick a lobster in your penis/vagina so we won't have to worry about it happening again.

11. Have a damn good reason to be an ass to people who work somewhere. I don't even work in retail, I don't sell things to people, but regardless, stop being an asshole to the person at the counter/the friendly salesman who's just trying to help. They don't care if the prices are different somewhere else. They can't change them, they can't give you a special discount, and you're just being a huge asshole. If the store person is an ass to you first, then it's OK. You can have an attitude and seem annoyed because then you have a reason to. If you're pissy because that TV cost less at Wal Mart, don't take it out on the employee. They can't do anything but be annoyed because you're ignorant. Do you know how many of these people loathe you? If you don't like the prices somewhere or they don't have what you want, a simple "OK thank you, but I think I will look at some other stores. I appreciate your help." will do nicely. Do you know how many people's days you can improve by being polite? I do it whenever I can, because it's damn hard to be polite to the customers if you've been dealing with assholes all day, and one friendly person can completely turn the day around.

12. Turn down your damn car stereo (or at least close all the windows that are wide open, you asshole). Do you think the family in the car next to you wants to hear your horrible music? They don't. Playing loud music in your car is fine. People like loud music. But at least close your fucking windows. When you play loud music with the windows open, you go from being a guy enjoying some bad music to an asshole annoying everyone with his bad music.
And turn down that subwoofer. There's nothing wrong with using one, but if you drive by a bowling ally and I can hear the random BOOMs of your terrible rap music, you should be pulled over and have your sub broken over your skull. Plus, the reason the bass isn't loud enough for you in the original recording is because you have destroyed your eardrums with too much of it already. Instead of destroying what was already awful by saturating it with an absurd amount of bass, just don't do that, or better yet listen to a good band like Franz Ferdinand.

13. Stop being an idiot on the road. So many people would be happier if there weren't idiots on the road. Unfortunately, these people feel the urge to drive. You know. The people who drive behind you while you back out of a parking space (and after you look first) and then get angry when you almost dent their car. The people with the mentality of a 1st grader who always have to be in front of everyone else. The parent on a cellphone who just bought a huge SUV for itself and it's single child. People who don't know that pedestrians have the right of way. Retarded drivers should have their licenses revoked for being so stupid. 'Nuff said.

14. Stop using iPod headphones. Not only do they sound awful to the user, but they sound awful to anyone within 8 feet of the headphones. No matter how low they are, everyone can hear the music coming from them, and even if it's a good song, it's annoying.

15. Your bluetooth is for when you're driving. Not for any public place. Have you ever been at the market and all of a sudden, the guy standing next to you while you look for milk starts talking to you? There's a nine out of ten chance he is talking on his bluetooth. It's annoying when you're in public and someone starts talking on their bluetooth because first you think some random person is trying to make small talk, then you try to ignore them as their voice elevates (whether or not people notice it, when they are on bluetooths their voice gets a little louder every few seconds). Your bluetooth is there so you won't be distracted while you talk on the phone and drive. It is not there so you can make random people feel awkward.

16. This one's for the men in the audience. Don't pee next to me. Especially if it's a big bathroom where there are tons of urinal options for you. When there are a lot of them, that is a sign that you should pick the one farthest away from any other people using them. You do not get right next to someone. It's very uncomfortable. If there's only two urinals, then wait or use a stall. Something all men should do is make sure that there is always a distance of at least one urinal between himself and anyone else while using one. The only time it's acceptable to break this rule is if there are dividers between them.

17. This is also for men. Gonna use a stall? Shut the fucking door. Do you think other people like opening a stall door to see that it's already occupied? Well lock the door. There is a reason it can lock. I don't care if you just have to pee, you shut that door or eat some lead.

I went to Denny's today

It's not as bad as everyone says it is.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Dear G4, what the fuck

If you've watched G4 in the last year, you've probably noticed that it's starting to have nothing to do with video games at all. At first it was just one show (I don't even remember which), but now they're running Cops, Heroes, tons of foreign crap, and other things that have nothing to do with video games. AND, they've gotten rid of all their video game related shows. First it was Icons, which bothered me because I loved that one (I love learning video game history, and that show was the best way to do it), then they merged all the others into X Play. Not only did that ruin X Play (they hardly have time for reviews), it also made room for their tons of non-video game related shows. That also meant that other shows I didn't want to see during X Play, such as Cheat (which didn't interest me because they were either doing a game I didn't care about so it was boring or a game I did care about and I didn't want to cheat in).
They did bring back Icons for a little while, only to quickly remove it. And that's a good thing, because instead of being about video games it was instead about tons of random non-game related stuff. I don't even remember what, I watched it once for two minutes, turned off the TV, and never went back to that show. I gave it chances though, I looked in the TV guide to find out what it was, and it was never game-related.
They've still got Attack of the Show, which I think is actually not bad. I watch it from time to time. It's funny, it's sometimes about games, and I just like a show that tells you about recent technology news.
But seriously, G4 is going the way of MTV in the sense that MTV now has nothing to do with music (not like I've watched it more than once, but I only had to watch it once to find that out). I don't think "TV For Gamers" consists of one show about video games and one show about technology. Plus, Cops, Heroes, and their collection of foreign stuff doesn't have to do with them. They really don't belong.
Oh, and Code Monkeys. It's a pretty good show and is tied in with video games which is good, but I'm seeing it on less often. Maybe I never happen to notice when it's on or the people running the network just got bored of video games.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Let's sue AT&T over bad 3G coverage

So anyone heard about people suing AT&T because their iPhone 3Gs aren't getting any 3G coverage? I think it's a little crazy. I mean sure, you buy a $200/3oo phone, you're gonna want to be able to use it. But suing instead of calling customer support makes about as much sense as suing a restaurant because you ran out of ketchup rather than asking for a new bottle. It just doesn't make sense. If they want better coverage, I don't think suing is going to get it. In fact, it'll probably decrease chances. If AT&T starts giving money to everyone suing them because of the 3G coverage, then they'll have less money to use to spend on more towers. That means that more people will have to wait longer to get good 3G coverage in their areas, and that accumulated time can add up to many years when you take into account the hundreds of people who will be suffering. That's hundreds of years of peoples lives wasted not having fast cellular internet, so every time someone sues AT&T, they are also wasting human life. What is wrong with these people? I think if the hundreds of people getting less than decent reception would all just call customer support and have a tower or two put up, that'd work better than suing. In the meantime, they could connect through EDGE. If they don't like it, at least they're getting reception. Think of the starving children in Africa who can't get any GPRS reception. Ungrateful bastards. 

Monday, September 1, 2008

Things I think would make the iPod better

So I've owned an iPod (80gb Classic) for maybe six months now and it's been great. It's convenient, easy to use, and so far I haven't had any problems (other than the infamous problem with the Classics and the click wheel not being very responsive) with it. Great as it is, I think it could be a bit better.
One thing I'd really like to see would be an "Advanced" mode. The iPod as it is, is very user friendly and doesn't present any complicatedness that would cause confusion in someone illiterate. However, I would like a little of that complicatedness. Most specifically I'd like to be able to view statistics of files saved on the iPod. Things like format, bit rate, maybe where you got it from (downloaded on iTunes, from a CD, etc), resolution (in the case of videos and photos) and things of that nature.
I'd also like them to bring back fullscreen album art. Well it wasn't really full screen, but anyone who's used an iPod Video will probably know that among the various functions you can perform when you click the middle button on Now Playing, one of them simply enlarged the album art and made it mostly fit the screen. I thought that was neat, and now they've gotten rid of it.
Another improvement that could be made would be to be able to turn Repeat on or off without going into Settings. It's nice that you can toggle Shuffle from the now playing screen, but I don't know why they left Repeat out of it.
Oh, and DRM kinda sucks. It only happens on iTunes downloads of course, but it's annoying when you want to do something with your downloaded songs. However, Apple has started to do something about it, it's called "iTunes Plus." Basically an iTunes Plus song has double the bit rate of a regular song (256 instead of 128) and no DRM, so you're free to burn it, distribute it, or use it however you want. They also cost the same as a non-Plus song, so everything about it is great. The only thing is, not all their songs are iTunes Plus.
Firewire would be nice too. They slowly started taking away Firewire support a while ago (now you can't even charge with it) and I think that sucks. Firewire is fast. Even though USB has a higher mbps, it can't stay at that mbps most of the time so instead of 480mbps, USB gives you maybe 300 or 200. Firewire stays at a constant 400 (or 800) so it's nice and fast. It's no big deal if you're only syncing over an album or a song, but for big syncs like video and such, Firewire would be nice. And I'm sure that iPhone users and their 2+ hour syncs would also appreciate it.
Anyone who knows iPod history will understand this, we really need more stuff in the box. There was once a time when you got a dock, a remote (it clipped to your shirt and you could control your iPod with it), a case, their awful shitty headphones, and I think an external charger. That was what came with your iPod. And in the day of Firewire you also got both a USB and a Firewire cable. Now you get their awful shitty headphones, a dock insert for your iPod radio, and a USB cord. If the iPod wasn't such a nice player I wouldn't have gotten one for the total lack of stuff in the box.
Bring back the bigger engraved text. On the older iPods (video and before) when you got text engraved it was nice and big. On the Classic it's pretty tiny, and you still have the same size limitations as when it was bigger.
Make the click wheel more responsive. It used to be that you could touch it anywhere and you'd get a response, but on every Classic I've used it's been totally dead in the center and would randomly have other dead spots on and off. Annoying.
Fill the interface with PG-13 content so parents will stop buying them for their spoiled asshole children. I'm being serious.
Give it a radio to shut up the "it doesn't have radio" people. It's not like they'd even listen to it though, since listening to radio somewhat defeats the purpose of the iPod. Then again, those people usually have something against the iPod anyway, so they'd just find something else to not like about it. Maybe we don't need a radio after all.

Those would make the iPod better. Get crackin', Apple.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Fun at the hifi store

Edit: Just to let you know, I found out that the Klipsch speakers I used were RB-61s rather than RB-52s. I don't feel like changing everywhere I mentioned them so I'm just putting this here.

I went to a nearby HiFi store recently. It was a great store, very helpful in my quest to get good speakers. Right now I'm really liking the Paradigm Titan Monitors (they're bookshelves). They sounded pretty good. They also pointed out to me why people are saying new Klipsch products don't stack up to the old ones. The Paradigms did cost $50 more than the Klipsch RB-52 bookshelf speakers (I decided they are good enough to wait 'till I have a job for), but there was a noticeable difference in sound that makes them worth the extra $50. While the Klipschs were also good, the problem was that in comparison to the Paradigms, vocals were less full and the sound muddled together just a bit. I was using Smash Mouth as demo material, anyone who knows them will know that their songs tend to be pretty busy, pretty often having a lot of sounds going on at once. They were more defined and separate on the Paradigms than on the Klipschs. Later on I got to use some of their floorstanders (from their Reference series, it was either the hueg RF-82s or the hueger RF-83s, not sure which, but they're pretty similar) and surprisingly enough, I still prefer the sound of those Paradigm bookshelves. Either Klipsch has gone down in quality (I can't say for sure though since I haven't heard their older stuff, but my friend's uncle seemed pretty sure that old Klipschs sound worlds better than new ones, and after hearing the new ones I wouldn't be so quick to doubt that) or Paradigm just makes a really mean pair of speakers. I'm not saying the giant Klipsch floorstanders were bad, they just weren't super good. I'm actually going to have to wonder if they were set up wrong or something or if they actually sounded like that. It sounded like either the lower mids were coming more from the tweeter than they should've, or the horn was coloring the sound in a fashion that I didn't like. Regardless of what it was, I preferred the sound of the Paradigm Titan Monitors. They also sounded better than some tiny Paradigm floorstanders that they had, though that was kind of expected since the floorstanders had smaller midrange drivers.
Leaning away from Klipsch wasn't the only thing I did there though. I also got to try the famous B&W Zeppelin. For those who aren't familiar with it, it's another one of those iPod docking speaker systems. It's probably the most praised one though. It costs (and sounds like) $500, it's one of the only speakers in the small "high-end" side of iPod speakers. Sadly I didn't get to spend more than about a minute or two with it, but it was great. It didn't sound like any iPod speaker I'd heard before, the sound is like a pretty good home stereo. Vocals were clear and full, instruments sounded real, everything was great about it. Probably the biggest problem with it is that most people who buy iPod speakers only do it for casual listening. But if I had the money I'd snatch one up right away and find a use for it, it becomes much more worth the money after you get to listen to one (as opposed to reading very favorable reviews online).
As well as that, I got a chance to speakers from B&W's 800 series (I believe the ones I used were the 802Ds, but I could be wrong). I can't say enough about them. Music has never sounded so good. He (the salesman) first put on the Smash Mouth CD I'd brought with me. It sounded awesome, I'd never heard Smash Mouth sound that good. That played for a bit, then he gave me back the CD and put on a Beatles record. These were the first speakers I'd listened to that showed a big difference between vinyl and CD. Yes, I know Smash Mouth and The Beatles are pretty different in style, but that doesn't change how good The Beatles sounded, especially through these speakers. Everything sounded very warm and real. The definition was incredible. All the instruments, the guitar, the drums, and of course the vocals, all would've made you look to see if The Beatles were in the room. I can't imagine a pair of speakers being better than those. Unfortunately they were $14000, but now I'll know what kind of speakers to look at when I'm ready to spend that much money. Here's a fun fact, the 800 series floorstanders are used for mastering.
So those were my adventures at the speaker store. Drop me a comment if you've got any comments to drop.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Dear record companies, what the fuck

Today I have chosen to complain about CDs. Awful stupid record companies who don't care about music at all are ruining music, especially CDs, for everyone. So maybe now you're thinking "Well, what's wrong with CDs?" If you are thinking that, you're pretty ignorant. You probably shop at Hollister.
Everything is wrong with CDs. This really stood out to me the other day when I bought a Smash Mouth CD at FYE the other day. It's used, cost $4, and is almost in new condition. That was when it occurred to me that $4 is how much a CD should cost. Alright, maybe a little more, but not much more than that. CDs cost way too much today. I'm seeing some go as far as $19. This would be OK if they were loaded with tracks or something, but they're not. They aren't even always new or anything special, they're just that much because they want to charge that much. In fact, the "low" $12 is still kind of expensive. While fitting a machine with the parts to make a specific CD can be somewhat costly, pressing them can't cost much. Think about it, about $30 buys you a stack of 100 rewritable CDs (sometimes it costs more, sometimes less, but it's usually around 30). That's ¢3 per disc. On bestbuy.com I found a 100 pack for $38*, which is 38 cents per disc. So it's a bit more than 3 cents per disc, but still definitely not a lot. Then I found a 50 pack of jewel CD cases for $28, which is ¢56 per case. That comes out to ¢96 for every boxed disc. Still not a dollar. And of course these blank discs and cases had extra money tacked on for the manufacturer. If I had the manufacturing costs it'd be even less. So where does all the other money come from? Well, they need to have money to run the machines that make the discs and write to them, to make the parts that go in the machines that make each disc the specific disc that it is, and they need to pay workers. So we add to the bare cost of about ¢96 per disc the cost of all that. I'm going to assume just a few dollars, lets up it to $3.96. Doesn't sound like much, but since big record companies are selling millions of CDs each day, it sorta adds up. That'll easily pay for everything involving manufacturing.
Then how about some money for the artist. One more dollar will make the artist rich as long as it's one of those awful horrible bad ones that everyone likes because they've been pressured into liking it. In fact, it'll make any moderately popular artist rich. One dollar is plenty. Then how about some money for the record company. Two dollars, since they're greedy like that and they gotta pay all their marketing people who make the world think that their most popular yet worst artist are good. That brings us to $7 after rounding up from the 96 cents. OK so I was wrong about $4 earlier, but $7 is still not a bad price. However, I do think the record company and artist could live with a little less money.
If you've ever walked into a CD store though, you know that CDs do not cost $7. They cost $7 in heaven maybe. Where's all the money going? Right to the greedy record company and artist. Even if the artist doesn't want to charge a lot, the record company does, and so they do. They're charging you as much as $19-22 (come to think of it, sometimes they do hit 22) now for a CD that costs around $4 for supplies and manufacturing. They don't know what makes it worth that much any better than you do, they just want money. If you look you can still find some CDs that are somewhat less, ones from less rich record companies who can't afford to charge as much for a few pieces of plastic, one CD, and a few pieces of paper.
Then there's special edition type things. These tend to include a second disc and maybe some more bonus material such as album art. OK, so that's ¢38 cents for the 2nd disc, a few more for the bigger case to hold both discs, and almost nothing for the extra album art. Why does it cost $28? There is no logical explanation, it costs so little extra to make one of these that they could leave the price the same as a regular album and they'd take just about no hit from it. The problem is that they are greedy bastards.
And now what's with the lower quality of CD cases? I'm not talking flimsier plastic or anything like that. The other day when I was at a CD store I was flipping through some Parliament CDs (don't criticize me for not looking for vinyl, my record player doesn't work right) and I saw something awful. It was either styrofoam or that paper material they use to make egg cartons (pretty sure it was styrofoam) as the part that holds the CD, wrapped in thin cardboard (so you could slide out the styrofoam part, shrinkwrapped. It was the most half assed, budget cutty thing I have ever seen. Seriously, what the fuck was that? Not only was it clearly just to spend less money on a better case, but it would be much easier to destroy than a plastic CD case. Think about it. It could get squished in a stack of CDs or an overstuffed CD shelf and be forever disfigured, it could bend and stay that way forever (as well as lose it's ability to hold the CD), there's just so many things that could go wrong with something like that. 
Another thing I have problems with is the way stores package the CDs. They seriously need to stop putting price tags on the actual case. Especially since they usually wrap them in plastic after that. After you peel them off you have sticker residue (or worse, the sticker falls apart and then you have some paper stuck to the case that never goes away and turns into a sticky goopymess that attracts dust and hair after a few years that still doesn't go away), or you could leave them on and have an unsightly price tag on your case. Put the fucking sticker on the plastic or price everything at a fair $6 or $7 so the cashier can always know how much something is.
I also don't like those stickers that they put along the top of the CD. They're annoying to remove since they like to shred when you peel them off, then they leave some residue that attracts hair and dust. Plus, if you've got any CDs in your collection with cases made of cardboard, this can stick to that, and if that happens long enough, it can tear the cardboard. 
Speaking of cardboard cases, it's horrible when stores put stickers on them. Cardboard cases are most often used for singles, but I have seen them for full albums (my The Day I Turned to Glass from Honeycut is made of cardboard). I don't really have anything against cardboard cases, because they pose as no problem when you take care of them right. But if you buy one with a sticker on it, it's already ruined. The sticker is going to tear it up, or you can leave it on and naturally have it look awful. This is why it's good to always buy them new online.
If vinyl were easier, I'd switch mostly over. I buy a lot of CDs that also have vinyl releases, and vinyl releases tend to sell used for around $1. Awesome. Thing is, records are easier to screw up than CDs, they require more care, they aren't as convenient, and they're much less easy to put on your iPod. I do like vinyl though, and when I have a good sound system and more money, I am going to get a nice record player and start collecting. New vinyl still costs about as much as new CDs though.
So what can you do to boycott CDs? Not much, mostly just pirate/file share. I don't do that though, for numerous reasons. In fact, I still buy CDs. This is why I don't pirate/share though:

- If it's an artist I like, I still want to support them. Unfortunately though, buying a CD (or using a service like iTunes, which is slightly better, but not by a ton) is just about the only way to do that.

- File sharing and pirating is convenient and free, except you usually get the wrong songnames/artists, so in an automatically organizing system like the iPod, you could have 20 songs from one artist and they'd all display under different artists. On the iPod, all the songs from an artist need to have the artist's name typed, capitalized, and punctuated the same way, or it displays as different artists.

- File sharing and pirating almost never gives you good sound quality, and you still don't get the 1444 kbps of a CD for listening on very high end systems (where digitally encoded music vs better digitally encoded music shows more of a difference). Some people don't mind that, I do.

- I also won't switch to buying on iTunes. I do use iTunes, and while albums costing less money (usually) are pretty tempting, if I'm going to buy an album I want a hard copy. A hard copy can be played on a separate stereo without burning, there's no DRM bothering me, and while some iTunes songs come in a pretty nice 256 kbps (that's the iTunes Plus songs), others come in a measly 128kbps. 256 is pretty nice, but iTunes will never give the 1444 kbps of a CD. I do use it if I want just one or two songs from an album though, since it saves me money and space on my CD case.

To conclude (Jeez this was long), CDs are great. Record companies are just ruining them.
Oh, and before I finish this post, why isn't SACD taking off? It's so perfect. Most SACDs can still be read on an ordinary CD player, but SACDs have better quality on an SACD player. It's the perfect successor (so fuck DVD audio) and will apparently sound better on a moderate system (I confess I still haven't used it myself). The thing is, no CD stores sell them, and they just don't advertise it at all. There's also no SACD drives for your computer (to my knowledge), so us computer listeners can't get SACD joy on our computers. So yeah, let's see more SACD.

* http://www.bestbuy.com/site/olspage.jsp?skuId=8739065&st=cd-r&type=product&id=1201913867194

** http://www.bestbuy.com/site/olspage.jsp?skuId=7950014&st=cd+case&type=product&id=1152229204211