Monday, July 30, 2012

My Top 5 Must Have Programs

Is your PC feeling slow and sluggish? Are you suffering from regular blue screen errors? Did that porn site secretly install a back door (pun intended) to your most treasured files and folders?

Well that's too bad. I'm not here to offer anything that can fix any of that. Although, you can surely prevent those things from happening. I'm afraid I don't have a program to help you with your porn addiction though.

Expecting something dirty? Here's a picture of a duck instead.
What I can offer you though, is a list of programs and kits I've come across over the years of fucking up my computers to the point of retardation.

Note that Firefox or Chrome aren't on this list. Everyone knows to get those over Internet Explorer.

5. Ultra Defrag - Not to be confused with Ultra Defragger, which is MALWARE.

Ultra Defrag is an open-source developed de-fragmentation tool made by much smarter people than you and I. I'm willing to bet none of you have defragged your PC in a long time. Perhaps never even. I won't lie, I never did it. It always took too long and seemed to do nothing in return, except get in the way of my gaming sessions.

In case you didn't know, defragging is important. It organizes the thousands of files on your PC so the hard drive can read them faster and easier. What makes this program worth downloading over the regular Windows defrag tool? Well, the default degrag doesn't touch certain spaces and files, and that is a problem. Your hibernation files, your pagefile, boot files.... all that stuff is used frequently and never is allowed to be maintained. Ultra Defrag solves this with its boot time defrag. It loads before any processes are even loaded, and does a defrag of EVERYTHING.

And guess what? It's fucking fast. No more waiting a day and a half to defrag. A nice alternative is Defraggler if you prefer a prettier interface.

4. CCleaner - Or, I NEED SPEED NAO PL0X!!!1!!1

Everyone knows this one. It cleans up your registry and files for a small speed boost and gives you more space for all those games and gifs from /b/ and stuff like that. It also lets you select which processes and services to allow to be ran on startup. Very handy and one to keep forever.

3. Media Player Classic - Full Motion Video!

First of all, I applaud you if you got that joke. This is a replacement for Windows Media Player. WMP is slow, and when going through lots of videos, it can become seriously sluggish and even error out. All to watch videos... This is a great replacement because it supports shader filters, letting you tweak and mess with any video to get the best quality. It also supports more codecs and filetypes than WMP. Finally, it takes up less space.

2. Avast! Anti-Virus Software - Now better than AVG! (sort of)

For real. I've used AVG Free for the past 4 years, and it has always seemed to not do anything. I've always felt that it's not even there. While that is good, it's also a worry when I'm downloading lots of files and nothing is popping up to inform me of anything. AVG is also known for false positives. For an anti-virus, that doesn't sound very smart. Avast actually does stuff, but without hogging your PC like AVG. It's always being updated. I get updates for mine almost every 2 days. It has a nice sandbox mode for running suspicious programs, and easy to use interface. A plus is the silent gaming mode. However, it does provide false positives sometimes, but not as often as AVG.

1. Rogue Removal Kit - Knee-Deep In Malware

This kit is really a last resort of sorts, and also something to keep for regular maintenance. It comes with a variety of scanners and fixes when your anti-virus fails. Just read that page I linked to. In fact, bookmark it and keep it somewhere safe. It's full of other awesome tools and programs and is in a much nicer list than mine here. He doesn't have a snazzy Doom reference in his list though!

There you have it. I've always used these programs and kits, with the exception of Avast. AVG hasn't been good in a long time though. They've always saved my ass, or gave my decrepit PC a boost and longer life span. A lot of problems can be avoided with common sense though. That hot blonde with double Ds claiming to increase the size of your genitalia on your favorite porn site is a dirty liar.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Artist Showcase: Devin Townsend, Part 2

So, in the last part of this artist showcase, we began with the really early releases of varying quality, but it was in 1997 that Devin began the endless flow of amazing albums that persists to this day. It all began with...


It was after the release of Heavy As A Really Heavy Thing that Devin began getting offers to tour, which obviously required a few other people to perform in the band, because performing live as a one-man project is hard, y'know?

Take it from Varg, it's best to not even bother.

After the touring, the lineup that Devin had brought together somehow stuck, and it ended up being the permanent lineup for Strapping Young Lad. This lineup included Jed Simon returning on guitar (naturally), Byron Stroud, formerly of a little-known band named Caustic Thought, on bass duty, and Gene Hoglan, previously playing for Death and Death Angel, on drums. 

 AKA The Human Drum Machine. C'mon, try to tell me that that's all natural fat after years of playing some of the best and most technical metal drumming ever.

With City, SYL took the industrial influence from HaaRHT and went all out with it, even going as far as to cover a Cop Shoot Cop song, while still maintaining the signature GLORIOUS EARRAPE sound that they were becoming known for. City was released on February 11th, 1997, and to this day has a reputation as one of the best industrial metal albums ever. It was SYL's most industrial release, while also being their most thrashy. It would also be arguably their most popular release, due in part to the music video produced for Detox, and many songs from it becoming concert staples. To this day, you'd be hard-pressed to find any extreme metal album rivaling the sheer chaos and extremity of City.

The beat starts here.
Never has there been a song title that so accurately reflected the listener's response.

After releasing such a magnificent slab of ear-bleeding madness, one'd probably be left wondering "Where do they go from here? How could Devin possibly top himself now?" 



This album is where the Great Divide between Strapping Young Lad fans and Devin Townsend fans began. Ocean Machine was a short-lived project, much like Punky Bruster, that made one album and promptly vanished. Fronted by Devin, as per the norm, Ocean Machine had JR Harder (from the aforementioned Punky Bruster) on bass and Marty Chapman (who seems to have dropped off the face of the music industry after this album) on drums. While nowhere near as brutal or technical as Strapping Young Lad, Devin maintained the attention to detail, utilizing the Wall of Sound technique in an entirely different manner. Some of Devin's best songwriting throughout his career can be seen on this album, with the music forming a loose concept of life, death, and someplace in between. Some songs are upbeat and almost poppy (how Life never became a #1 Single still escapes me), while others are moodier and more epic in scope (the ending trifecta of songs, but more on that in a moment). Some of the songs lead into each other, and some have intro tracks of their own to segue between the last track and the next. Near the end of the album, it hits you. The Holy Trinity of Ocean Machine: Funeral, Bastard, and The Death Of Music. Each of these three tracks is around ten minutes in length, and each flows into the next, creating a trilogy of sorts. 

Funeral starts things off in an upbeat-ish manner. While not quite as upbeat as Life, Funeral maintains the enchanting, almost dream-like quality of the album. That track alone is a musical journey, but the trilogy still has two songs to go. Next up comes Bastard, a track separated into two parts, according to the booklet. The first half revolves around a riff much darker than that of its predecessor, evoking the atmosphere of a rainy night in the city. The second half almost seems like a light at the end of a tunnel, and just when things start to really get going, it fades into The Death of Music, a 12 minute ambient opus, driven almost entirely by a basic computerized beat, various samples, and Devin's vocals. Devin's vocal performance on this track needs to be heard to be believed, showcasing all of his abilities and creating the most emotionally-resonant track on the album. Although it sounds repetitive from this description, the song is just so all-encompassing that one is drawn into its atmosphere, transferring itself to the listener by its end. 

After The Death Of Music ends, an (originally) hidden track, Things Beyond Things begins to close off the album. Things Beyond Things is a simple song, written around a basic set of chords and Devin's vocals. It's a great way to close off the experience that is Ocean Machine - Biomech, ending the album with a peaceful rumination on the events of the album, ending with the statement that "these things inside are all just things". The journey is at an end, and all is well... or is it?

Ocean Machine is one of the greatest non-70s-prog-style Prog Rock albums ever released in my humble opinion. This is just one of those albums that words don't do justice to at all, and needs to be experienced in full to realize the magnitude of it all. 

And so we cover another small, but VERY important chunk of Devin Townsend's discography. As is apparent, Devin's road to musical greatness truly kicks off at this point in his career, setting the stage for DOZENS OF ALBUMS, EACH MORE GLORIOUS THAN THE LAST AHHHHHH

Monday, July 9, 2012


So, this is a topic I've touched on before, but I figured I'd try to pull a full post out of it.

So why are we seeing people clamoring over remakes of Final Fantasy VII, Majora's Mask, and a whole slew of older games?  They want gaming to return to the 'glory days when series were good'.

The pinnacle of gaming, I guess.

What is it about these games that warrants such fanaticism?  I don't hear people clamoring for an HD re-release of Final Fantasy VI, Chrono Cross, or other highly-touted favorites?

One one hand, the games did debut during the start of the 3D gaming era, so maybe having the textures bumped up is what they want.  Final Fantasy VII was a blocky mess when it debuted, but do I personally want an HD remake?  Not really.  I think a game should get a remake only if there is going to be some fixes. The re-releases of the middle Final Fantasy's for the GBA cleaned up the script, added some content, and brought games that never really made it to the USA over.

Now, I really don't think that's the case.  I think people want a remake because they've become kinda jaded or desensitized with modern gaming.  To me, part of the blame falls on the games that people want remakes for so badly.

I'm here to remind you of your failures.

A lot of people complained about the story for Final Fantasy XIII being too cliche and the story for XII-2 for being too convoluted.  I view this shift as Square Enix just throwing up their hands and saying "What the hell do you want?"  There are only so many tropes and cliche's in gaming to be used.  So why the hell do people get pissed off when a game displays ANY themes or mechanics from older games?

Gaming is such a strange pastime.  We can see various movies with similar themes, songs that share similar content, and sports that have storylines that repeat, but as soon as a game seems too close to a predecessor, HOT DAMN THE GAME SUCKS AND IS SO UNORIGINAL.

Of course nostalgia is going to play a key role into how you view past games.  If you played Game A before playing Game B, Game A is going to look better by comparison.  Hell, it's why the Sonic vs Mario debates were so popular back in the 90s.  And this is especially true with RPGs.  You get connected to the characters over a 40+ hour experience, so that game will be ingrained into your brain.  The problem is, from where I'm sitting, is that this usually happens when the player is young, and thus, more impressionable.

My first RPG was Final Fantasy VIII, and I will admit that it holds a special place for my gaming history, but I'm not going to crown it the best Final Fantasy ever, and I don't think it's even in my top 5 RPG list.  The thing is, I didn't start playing RPGs until I was about 15, so I was mostly beyond the stage where I would be diehard. (Sonic 2 is the best Sonic game, so suck on that Sonic 3 and Sonic CD).

Chemical Plant Zone. AKA The horrifying drowning music zone.

See, I'm putting it out there that Sonic 2 is the best platforming game I can recall.  I can say that this is probably about 75% due to this being my most played childhood game, and the rest is how damn good the game played... and the soundtrack.

If people could take a step back and look at their own game views, would they view current games any differently?  Probably not, but maybe they'd be able to see where their worldviews come from.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Why I Will Never Buy Another HP Laptop Again

Hey folks. I'm back with yet another rant, so to speak. I haven't been posting a lot, due to Mother Nature being a huge bitch and frying my laptop. It's too bad though, because a goddamn lightning storm fried my hard drive and motherboard on a dark stormy night.

I hate sunny side up!
 Bad joke out of the way? Right. Anyway, if you read the title (which would be a good idea) you'll know that I had a HP. It cost me $580 at Best Buy, and was intended to be a moderate gaming machine and for me to do my college work on. Since I failed my last semester, you know which one was more important. I know that buying anything from Best Buy is stupid, because hey, you can build a PC for way less, and it will be much more efficient, but I'm young and stupid, and I just wanted to spend my graduation money from high school. I've never had a top-of-the-line PC, and this laptop was way ahead of anything I ever owned!

My first PC was a Gateway. I don't remember the model, but it was like a rectangle, almost like an Xbox 360. It had 512 MB of RAM, enough to run Diablo II back in the day, a 25 GB hard drive, and, here's the best part.... Windows Millenium Edition! Or, one of the worst OS' ever made.

The first time, and never again after.
So, as you can see, I never did much gaming on it. It ran Diablo II, and that was fine for me. Afterwards, my mom sparingly spent some cash on a Dell PC. This baby had a whopping 2 GB of RAM, a 75 GB HDD, and Windows XP! Notice how neither PC had a graphics card. That's because we were poor, and as long as Microsoft Word ran, nothing else mattered. It was fun playing Frets on Fire on lowest settings and still dealing with lag, or playing War Rock online on one map, because its the only map that wouldn't make the game slow to a crawl. Memories... bittersweet, but memories none the less.

But once I graduated high school, and got some cash, I bought an HP G36. 3GB of RAM, 350 GB HDD, Windows 7, nVidia mobile graphics, HD sound and display, 2.1 GHz AMD dual core... This was a machine. It let me play more games, sort of. I could run Half-Life 2 on modest settings! I could edit videos and photoshop tits on people's heads faster. It was amazing for me. It let me do more things I wanted to do. At least until the battery crapped out the first year I had it, and I had to keep the damn thing plugged in at all times, rendering the "mobility" that made laptops famous in the first place impossible. But that's OK. My professors were dicks and wouldn't let me use it in class anyway. Probably because I spent most of Accounting II on Facebook and playing emulators.

Debits and credits eh? I just got the Master Sword!
The truth is, that laptop did its duty, which kind of goes against the point of this rant, but I'll explain later. See, everything revolves around games. You'll get it eventually. If not, God help you... My HP lasted a solid 4 years, 3 of them spent plugged into an AC Adapter and being kept on over nights. I had one virus, due to stupid ol' me leaving my VNC server left on without a password, which resulted in a format, but it was a good machine. The drivers are easy to install, as HP has a detection software on their website, and BAM! All my drivers I need are in a neat list to download and install.

But again... video games. That machine just could not cut it. Not to mention I like doing Let's Plays and playthroughs of games to put on my Youtube channel, to which that machine did poorly. Fraps or any recording software slowed it down to poop. I believe it's the hardware of the HP, and here is where my point comes in.

I now have a Toshiba Satellite. It has 4GB of RAM, Intel HD onboard graphics, 500 GB HDD, HDMI, 2.1 dual core Intel chipset, all the works. It's not much better than the HP, but GODDAMN IT COULD HAVE FOOLED ME. Maybe because it's 64 bit? I have no idea, but I'm playing games on highest settings that I personally believe shouldn't be possible. F.E.A.R on highest settings? Check. Doom 3 on highest settings? Fuck that game, but check. Capturing the screen for my LPs and playthroughs with no lag? Fucking check!!!! I honestly don't get it. I can see why there are Intel and AMD fanboys. It's basically the same specs, but it feels light years ahead of my old HP.

Pictured: My HP G36.
It's truly amazing. Remember War Rock, and how I said I could play one map? I can play them all!!!! Highest settings! I can edit videos with ease, and make larger pictures of people with tits on their heads without slowing my machine down. It has to be the Intel chipset. The HP had nVidia graphics. Shared memory, but this Intel is the same thing. So why does it perform better? That extra gig of RAM can't really make THAT much of a difference can it? I have no idea. I don't care either. I can play any game I want.

Well, maybe not ANY game...
But fuck it. I can play more games. You can't go wrong with more games! I almost feel bad for my professors when I re-register for my last semester.

If you enjoy my little rants, or want me to cover a topic, you can send me a nice email at, or leave a comment.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Game Round Up

So it's time for another 'What I've Been Playing' post.

So we're just going to dive into this.

Penny Arcade's "On A Rain Slick Precipice of Darkness 3"

This game is styled like an old fashioned 16 Bit RPG of the SNES.  If you know anything about Penny Arcade, you'll immediately recognize the humor and writing style from the comics.  A lot of Tycho's dialogue is very verbose and lengthy, whereas Gabe provides the non-sequitors and other nonsense.

Yes that enemy is called Optimus Mime, and those are Mime Pirates.  Soak it in.

The gameplay is also similar to older RPGs with a few modifications.  Every character has a 'base' class, like Brute for Gabe, and Scholar for Tycho, but as you progress, you get these things called "Class Pins", that can be equipped to a character to change how they play.  For example, comic staple "Tube Samurai" can be equipped to a party member, granting the ability to change battle stances that confer stat bonuses.  Other classes like Hobo are good for inflicting "Hoboism" (a status effect that deals damage over time) and for beating up enemies.  This allows you to make interesting hybrids of character.  You could make a tanky character that's fast and can heal themselves. 

Another change it makes to traditional RPGs is the fact that you can interrupt your opponents attacks if your timing is good.  If the enemy's portrait is between the CMD and Act portion of the top bar, the interrupt will push them back a lot further than if it is before the CMD portion.  Also, you want to finish battles FAST.  After about the 3rd turn for an enemy, they start to get stronger, by about 10% per turn.  This is especially dangerous on boss fights.  

I find the game hilarious, and the combat for it is pretty entertaining.  It's a good throwback with some modern twists on the RPG genre.  My favorite enemy description was for one of the "Hobo" enemies: "Another proud Poli-Sci major".  


Ok, so I've had this game for awhile.  My relationship with building games is kinda cyclical.  I'll be really into MineCraft/Terraria for a bit, then I won't play them for 6+ months.  I'm in the "play" portion of that cycle, and I've been playing a lot of Terraria.  I started this cycle by playing online with some friends.  Then I took that character into offline mode... and then online with other friends...

So for the uninformed, Terraria is a game that was inspired by MineCraft.  You harvest resources, you craft, and you fight.  This game focuses more on the creating and fighting though.  Weapons are varied, enemies are interesting, and there are bosses.  

Like the Eye of Cthulhu.

The formula is simple, dig, build, fight, craft, repeat, but it's an addictive cycle.  Building your house just so to  house the helpful NPCs and fight off an invasion is a fun time sink.

Also you can harvest blocks with dynamite.  

Seriously, that's all you should need to know.

Persona 3

Red Dead Redemption

My girlfriend has a write up that covers the experience pretty well.