Jan 29, 2009


The DS really does make it easy for one to pick up and put down a game at their leisure, like a kind of TiVo for gamers. Aside from being portable, the system's suspend function further allows you to stop playing midway through and pickup right where you left off. None of this is new to you if you own one yourself, but it's little touches like this that keep me from putting down a game indefinitely.

One game that I've been playing in my rare moments of free time is Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow. It's an older game (released in 2005), and it doesn't deviate too far from the tried-and-true story of the series:

It's some point in history and Dracula, the Lord of Darkness, (has/is/is threatening to) plunge the world into eternal darkness yet again. Only you, as the latest in the Belmont bloodline and/or someone related to Dracula have the ability to stop him. Before you can, you have to beat the crap out of endless monsters and likely fight Death himself.

Filling in that madlib, Dawn of Sorrow sees you play as Soma Cruz, a man who is technically the latest rebirth of Dracula. Having averted his fate of becoming Dracula in a previous game, Soma's trying to live a peaceful life until some priestess decides she wants to ruin all this and revive the dark lord through Soma. Hilarity Lots of addictive 2D side-scrolling RPG-lite hack-and-slash ensues.

There are several things I think that really make this game stand out:
  • The music is catchy and adds an incredible amount of atmosphere to the gorgeous and engaging scenery.
  • Speaking of graphics, I know this game is only comprised of 2D sprites, but every last motion and interaction they have is fluid and believable. And not just of Soma, either - but the bad guys, from the lowly bats to the baddest bosses. The attention to detail here is phenomenal.
  • The Soul Dominance system is incredibly fun: You can absorb the souls of your enemies, each one of varying types and abilities. Then, you can equip 3 of them at any time to boost your character, leading to some interesting combinations of attacks you can create.
Despite living in the Playstation One era I never got to play Symphony of the Night, considered by many to be the best in the entire Castlevania series. I can't say for certain, but I have to imagine this game comes awfully close. If you have a DS and like to use it for something other than Nintendogs or Brain Age, I highly recommend this game.

I look forward to playing the other two DS Castlevania games.

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Murphy's Law, rated E for Everyone

This is by no means new, the story having been broken about a month ago, but I think it's worth sharing here.

I can never get enough of stupid people doing stupid things, particularly when it comes to technological pursuits. I'm not saying that if you don't know how to program or don't really care what the differences between Mac/Windows/Linux are that you're worthy of scorn... but there's a baseline technological knowledge you need to possess this day in age to get by.

Not sticking credit cards in your Wii to purchase games is something that, from the get go, you should just kinda know. Your Visa is not a game disc (or even CD/DVD, an easy mistake to make for the uninitiated), and that's pretty clear when you hold one in each hand. It should be obvious that trying to stick a Visa into such a disc drive isn't going to produce the desired outcome.

The memo apparently missed one woman who tried to do just that and broke her Wii. Oh yes, there are pictures.

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Jan 28, 2009

More Tay Zonday than you can handle

Poking around YouTube, as I am wont to do, I noticed that I was recommended not one, but two Tay Zonday (of "Chocolate Rain" fame) videos. Now I've never put much stock into YouTube's recommendations for me because for some reason it keeps recommending me videos that in languages I don't understand, but I decided to give these videos a whirl.

I was not disappointed.

First, Tay apparently signed a deal with Dr. Pepper to promote Cherry Chocolate Dr. Pepper. So, as is the logical conclusion, Tay creates "Cherry Chocolate Rain". He changes the lyrics to talk about some former love of his or something, but the real comedy gold here is the video itself. It's an amazingly high-production, rap-style video chock full of unintentional humor.

Second, Tay sings... well, let's just say Tay's video is conclusive proof that the internet is starting to implode. I haven't done the science to determine exactly when or how, but all signs point to its inevitability. That, or Skynet.

Yes, it's one classic internet meme merging with another classic internet meme ("classic" in internet time, it should be noted, is anything 6 months old or older). Observe:

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Jan 27, 2009

Mailing it in: Toastmasters edition part 3

Having been tied up with many things this evening, I'm going to shamelessly mail it in. One of said things was the writing of a Toastmasters speech that I'm going to deliver tomorrow. It's entitled "Weightwatchers 101", and the purpose of it is to get the audience laughing early on. I have included it after the break for your reading pleasure. Enjoy!

Fellow Toastmasters, I love food. You can probably tell by looking at me, that I've loved food for quite some time. But lately, I've noticed that my size is starting to take a toll on my body. Nothing major, but being 25 and hearing my knees click when I run long distances is something of a wake up call for me. As such, I recently joined Weightwatchers as I had heard good things about it from friends, family and co-workers. Today, I hope to tell you more about the program and give you an idea as to how it works.

What is Weightwatchers, you ask? Well, I wasn't so sure myself at first. You see, when I went to the first meeting they were talking about food and points like it was some kind of game - like Candy Land, minus all the candy.

And the people there were... interesting, to say the least. At one point during the meeting, the conversation had turned to reasons why we eat, and we were encouraged to share some of the reasons we eat. People were giving the usual reasons: hunger, celebration, boredom. But out of nowhere, a woman behind me shouts "ABANDONMENT", which had to be the funniest thing I've ever heard at a meeting. As I was stifling my laughter, which is horrible of me to say and would be the equivalent to heckling someone here at Toastmasters, all I kept thinking was "this woman's in the wrong meeting... she needs a hug, not a diet".

But despite these initial impressions, I came to understand exactly what Weightwatchers is. First off, it's not a diet... at least, not in the traditional sense. I'm not regulated to eating only rice cakes or being deathly afraid of carbs. I can eat largely what I want - at a cost. Every food has a point value, and I need to eat exactly (or a little over) certain number of points a day. Good choices, like fruit, vegetables and lean meats are worth less points (so I can eat more and feel more satisfied); poor choices like pizza, ice cream and Taco Bell are worth more points (so I can eat less).

More than anything, the strength of this program is that it enforces 2 behaviors: making conscious, mindful choices; and having the diligence to track your progress. Making conscious choices means that you understand the point value of the foods you're eating. I've looked at more nutrition facts, online and on the food packaging, than I ever have before. Did you know that a regular cheeseburger at Chili's is almost 800 calories? Or that the Aussie fries at Outback have roughly 2,900 calories and 182 grams of fat? Knowing what you eat allow you to make better choices for yourself.

But knowing is only half the battle. The other half is having the diligence to keep track of what it is you're eating. A rule of thumb on Weightwatchers is "you bite it, you write it". Tracking food throughout the day gives you a good indication of how you're doing on your choices and lets you know exactly how much more food your body needs for the day.

I can say from personal experience that Weightwatchers works. My body just feels healthier, and I've lost a good amount of weight so far in the short time that I've been there, and I expect to lose even more as I continue on with the program. In my first week on the program, I lost 7.4 pounds. Even if don't think this program is for you, I ask that you take away from this what I take away from the program: be mindful of what you eat, and be diligent about how much you eat.

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Jan 26, 2009

Fire in the hole!

Found this rummaging some old emails the other day (don't let the url fool you, it's SFW):


This is one of the most entertaining reviews of a burger joint I've ever read. Of course, you know it's going to be pretty good when the author mentions early on that you need rubber gloves to eat the burger and that it "...was not so much a meal as a physical assault." This is one man's decent into a pepper-induced madness and the aftermath that resulted - even days later.

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Jan 23, 2009

The Pen IS Mightier...

This evening I was trying to do something productive with my new Bamboo tablet. You know, to kick the tires. I decided to use this week's Cracked.com Photoshop contest to see how it impacts my ability to use Photoshop. The theme of the contest was "Everyday objects as designed by M.C. Escher".

I have to say, working with a tablet is immensely less frustrating than the mouse. Granted, I'm still a relative novice at Photoshop, but the control and flexibility of having a pen on a surface was liberating. I dare say it was fun to be able to add so many little details to an image so quickly - details that would otherwise be a chore. Touch-ups, surgical erasings of layer parts, extractions, even layer manipulation just felt natural, allowing me to accomplish in seconds what used to take minutes.

One thing I still need to get used to is the tablet pen itself. It comes with 2 buttons on the pen, right at the level where I keep my thumb. If I'm not careful, my grip (which I find changes as I write) will accidentially hit one of them and screw up what I'm doing at a given moment. This is more of a minor setback than anything, and one I'm confident I'll avoid entirely with more practice.

While this was only a dry run, I'm really happy with the tablet and expect to use it more in the future. The resultant image of this dry run:

Yo dawg, we heard you like Swiss Army Knives...

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Jan 22, 2009

The true value of (Facebook) friends

I have to give it up to Burger King - their online marketing team has really been earning it's paycheck lately.

First, BK created sizeable buzz pushing their meat-scented body spray, the spray itself merely a vehicle to further promote brand awareness. And you have to awe in the fact that on the spray's website you'll find The King himself 1) scantily clad; 2) beckoning you to lay with him fireside; and 3) not arrested for this.

Not content with this success, Burger King recently developed a Facebook app called Whopper Sacrifice. Having already run its course, the deal was simple: if you sacrifice 10 Facebook friends, you get a coupon for a free Whopper. What wasn't necessarily intended, was how BK has now actually put a price on (Facebook) friendship.

The average price of a Whopper is somewhere around $2.40. This may be a little bit off, depending on your location, but we'll use this number for simplicity's sake. This means that each Facebook friend, in nominal terms, is worth roughly 24 cents. In total, 233,906, or roughly $56,137 worth of friends were sacrificed. Some other interesting valuations:

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Jan 21, 2009

Least convincing musician EVER

Are you ready for a music video that is "very, very intense?" No? Good, because despite what the vj in the below video says, this video misses the mark. By a country mile.

I nearly lost it when I saw the guy that was signing.

You remember those Old Spice Swagger commercials, where they take celebrities like Brian Urlacher and LL Cool J and show a fictionalized version of them being really geeky as a kid? I imagine this guy is really Geddy Lee's childhood and that Geddy Lee is the real-life Benjamin Button.

10 bucks says this thing was done with Microsoft's Songsmith.

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Jan 20, 2009

I'm baaaaaack

After a long, productive hiatus, in which I have sent in a majority of my MBA applications, I finally feel like I have the time to tend to this blog again. HIGH FIVE!

DISCLAIMER: The Unwind is not responsible for broken and/or damaged monitors or screens as a result of this celebration.

Some of what I've been up to lately:
  • Finishing my MBA applications. I still have one more to go (University of Connecticut) followed by seeing what I can do about scheduling interviews and filling out the FAFSA. Not out of the woods but HOLY CRAP do I feel better not having 6 other applications over my head.

  • Weightwatchers. Yes, I joined Weightwatchers. I wanted to get serious about losing weight, so I started the program with the Girlfriend. This is our first week, and already I'm having a hard time eating all the food I'm supposed to. Not the quality of the food, mind you, the quantity of it. I'm actually eating more food now that I'm on this plan. Granted, it's somewhat healthier stuff, but I feel like something's wrong when it's 10 PM and I realize I need to eat a 4th meal to finish my daily "points" (you need to eat all of your daily points on this plan).

  • Fair Use Law podcast. I know I missed like 20 updates here on this site, but it's been fun. Episode 8 gets recorded later this week!

  • Twitter. Stupid thing has trained me to write in only 140 characters increments, but it's a lot of fun using it to communicate with friends. Also, it's a pretty handy tool to e-stalk several of my favorite web comickers, some of the cast of Heroes (GO PARKMAN!), and many other moderately-to-incredibly famous people I find interesting. If you're on, give me a follow!

  • I also purchased a Wacom Bamboo tablet after the holidays, as I have moderate aspirations to use it in some kind of fashion. Maybe I'll make a webcomic of my own, but at very least it should be helpful with photoshopping in general - I've already come to appreciate the higher level of control using a pen affords.

I can't wait to get back into the swing of things again. Stay tuned!

Click here to continue reading "I'm baaaaaack"