Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Nintendo Wii

The other day I walked into my local Game Stop to trade in Gears of War for the Xbox. I know it's a highly rate game for the Xbox but I couldn't get into it. While waiting at the counter I saw the lady in front of me carrying away a Nintendo Wii. When I got to the counter I asked if they had any in stock and the sales person said they had a lot. I thought about it, really don't like to impulse buy but figured I could either keep it, or sell it for a higher price.

So a few minutes later, I'm walking out the store with a Nintendo Wii, used copy of Rainbox Six Las Vegas for the Xbox and a copy of Game Informer magazine. I am still not sure if I want to play it or keep it, but the games look really interesting. A few like Resident Evil Chronicals uses the remote to aim like a gun against zombies. While other titles make use of the remote to either control objects or interact. It's a interesting idea and would be a nice change from the typical game consoles.

Even if I really don't like it, I'm sure it will sell on eBay. :)

Gaming History

I'm not a serious gamer, I play consoles and PC gaming but mostly only the more popular games. Recently on a forum the question was brought up to your past games you played and enjoyed. So I wrote this list with the most popular games from my history. Enjoy.

I'm not a serious gamer, so it's been on and off for years.

Early arcade:
Space Invaders - I remember this game was one of my favorites because it was easy to play when I was younger.
Frogger - I liked this game alot, another easy game.
Pole Position - My first driving game that I remember.
Zaxxon - I remember this was the first "3D" style game. Just amazing.

Late arcade:
Vitual Fighter - Played this game so many times at Golf Land.
Mortal Kombat II - Played this game alot, my friend's brother was really good. First game I was seriously into.
Daytona USA - Great driving game but I found out you could drift. Was great fun to slide around the track.

Early Console:
Turbo on Coleco - Had the game with the wheel, lots of fun but I soon found out the game never ended, you just drove and drove and drove. I must have played that game for hours.
Donkey Kong on Coleco - One of my first games that drove me crazy. I just hated that you would get hit when on the final ladder to the princess.
Donkey Kong Jr. on Coleco - I really liked this version alot more, it was one of the best games on the Coleco.

8Bit consoles:
Super Mario on NES - My parents didn't buy me a NES but got to play this game at friend's houses. I was never good at the whole side scroller game and usually died fast.
Contra on NES - My cousin had this and we played it co-op with some help from a famous cheat code.

16bit consoles:
Street Fighter II on SNES - My mom bought me the SNES and SF2, played this alot and with friends. My favorite was Ryu.
Zombies ate my neighbors! on SNES - This was one of the earlier games that wasn't a side scroller. Really liked the cool weapons and graphics.
Sci-fi vector graphic game on SNES that I can't remember - Can't remember the name but it's a side scrolling game where you get ported to a new planet and have to get around traps like a "Prince of Persia" style play. Really fun and liked the puzzle aspect.
Mortal Kombat II on SNES - I loved this game and played it alot. Tried all of the combos I knew and loved the graphics.

64 bit consoles:
Super Mario 64 on Nintendo 64 - My first intro to 3D. A very fun game.
WCW/NWO Revenge on Nintendo 64 - This was one of my favorite multiplayer games ever. Spent so many hours with friends playing this. So many laughs and so many tears.
Goldeneye on Nintendo 64 - This was another great multiplayer game. I used to laugh at the idea of death match on one screen but found out how much fun it was.

Playstation 1:
Resident Evil 2 on Playstation 1 - Still by far a favorite on the RE series. Stayed up late playing this scaring myself.

Modern consoles:
Metal Gear games on Playstation 2 - Really liked these games and they still are fun to spin up even today.
Resident Evil Code Vernoica on Dreamcast - Great graphics and lots of fun. Liked it so much bought the PS2 version as well.
Tony Hawk Pro Skater series on Playstation 2 - My favorite action/arcade game. The skating is much better to emulate in a game than BMX.
SOCOM on Playstation 2 - I tried the Rainbow series on PC years ago, didn't like it but this mix of arcade/tactical worked great.

Modern Consoles:
Bioshock on Xbox 360 - I loved the story line and the details of the game. Very well done.

PC gaming:
Double Dragon - This was the first game I remember on the PC. I just remember the graphics were nice but the controllers at that time were bad.
Castle Wolfenstien - Ironically I was introduced to this game in the high school computer lab. Started my habit of FPS games.
Doom/Doom II - I spent many many hours of deathmatching with friends. Also did my first co-op with another friend over modems.
Unreal Tournament - Still install this game time to time. The graphics are great and it's a fun game. Who can forget such sayings as "head shot" and "killing spree!"
Half Life - I was really draw into HL. The game just felt new and different. Even death matching felt fun with satchel packs and mines.
Quake series - Wasn't too much into Quake but I did play Quake 3 alot. Still is my standard for a quick death match which runs on older pc's.
NOX - This was my first interest in action/rpg games for the PC. I played Diablo and really preferred NOX because the game felt better.
Metal of Honor - Great game with a great death match. Loved to play the beach level and storm the bunkers.
Roller Coaster Tycoon - I was never into RTS games before this one.
Half Life 2 - I followed the release info about this game and at the time had a older laptop. By next year I spent the money for a new computer because I just wanted to play this. Just an amazing game, gravgun is one of my favorite weapons.
World of Warcraft - My first MMORPG that I really liked. The graphics were nice, game felt polished and friends played it as well.
Battlefield series - I left the twitch shooters for more tactical style games. Really love BF2 especially playing with good players over voice chat.

There's more games which I did not list but these are the ones that really stand out. I am not a big gamer and very few games I actually finish before I just get annoyed or bored of the game play. Out of the games listed here I have to say that Half Life, Metal Gear, World of Warcraft are the stand outs. I played the most on World of Warcraft but recently I'm looking towards single player RPG games.

Leaving video for photo

Recently after having my video camera for a few months I sold it on eBay. It's not that I didn't like the camera or didn't want it, but rather I was happy with video over photography. I tried out video before, years ago in college with a basic intro to video editing class. I went out and bought a decent video camera, which I still have, and tried my hand at recording.

What I found out was that video recording is very different from photography. In video the main feature is that you can record moving objects. To get moving objects you need either people or something that is moving. Now if you go out by yourself, as I liked to go out when photographing, it's hard to find something to video. I did make a few bike videos but without friends to record I ended up using the video camera to record city life, such as streets late at night. What I found is that it's not as fun as photography where you capture the moment of a scene, but you capture the entire scene. This is good and bad, but harder and more time required than photography.

I started to remember this was a reason why I never ventured on video and enjoyed photography much more.

Hoping that after Christmas I can upgrade my digital camera which is a few years old to a new model. My only complaint of my photography gear.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Updates and a few

It's been a while since updating my blog. I just update it with random information, nothing important.

Console gaming with the Xbox 360

Recently I bought a Microsoft Xbox 360 gaming console. I waited until there was some more used games and the prices came down a bit before buying one. I was not sure what to expect from the Xbox 360. Most of my gaming is done on the PC with playing mmorpg's like World of Warcraft and Guild Wars, then some first person shooters like Half Life 2. My last console that I bought was the Sony Playstation 2, and that was almost 6 years ago.

When I first received the Xbox 360 I plugged the system into my monitor and saw that the graphics were really sharp just like in the stores. I purchased a VGA adapter that hooks up to my computer monitor and looks great. First I set up Xbox Live, the gaming portal for the Xbox that allows on-line playing and access to game downloads and media. It's a pay subscription but it's not too much. The interface to use Xbox Live is really simple and easy.

From here I downloaded a few demo games, and they downloaded and installed without any problems. Impressive to actually download a demo and play it so fast, nice change from the PC. After this I stopped by the store and bought Bioshock for the Xbox 360, a game that I bought for the PC but ran very slow on my current PC hardware. It almost unplayable even at a low resolution setting.

Not sure what to expect, I started up Bioshock and was surprised. The game played just fine at 1080p or 1920x1200 without any slowdown or stuttering. All of the nice effects were there, including the very nicely done water graphics. Even the controls felt great going from the keyboard. Honestly I can say it was a nice change to play a game without having the issues of a PC where my hardware is not fast enough.

After playing Bioshock I was impressed by the Xbox 360 and the overall quality of the game. From here I played a few other games such as Halo 3 and others, they felt nice and playing in a higher resolution makes the game play more interesting.

So after playing with the Xbox 360 for a bit what do I think about it?

Honestly I think it's a different experience from the PC and not something to take over it's place. After years of having to guess if my computer could play a game, I can now have a console where I'm pretty sure any game designed for it will play good. This combined with the factor that I don't need to upgrade the hardware of the Xbox 360 is a nice plus over the PC. The Xbox Live feature is helpful, the Xbox 360 plays HD movies and you can watch trailers, download game demos, even full games from Xbox Live Arcade. This feature makes more use of the Xbox 360 and turns it into a entertainment device rather than a gaming console.

Another feature I like about the Xbox 360 is something common with consoles is the more simple playing. With the PC I felt like it was sometimes a task to get a game running, where on the console it's simply insert the game and play. Also you can connect your Xbox 360 to a Windows computer running XP or Media Center to play movies or music across your network.

Of course, there are downsides to the Xbox 360 as well.

The on-line playing is not free but is connected to Xbox Live, a paid subscription. It's not a big deal but again, with the Sony Playstation 3 using free on-line play, this is a added cost. The Xbox 360 hardware has faced many problems from the hardware failing to scratching game discs, only the three red lights, a critical failure will be covered by Microsoft for now. Microsoft will also cover the scratched discs but only their games and only change you a small amount for the replacement.

I recently bought the Halo 3 limited edition, and both of the discs were scratched. They played fine but since the replacement offer was free, sent them in just to be sure. It's not a huge problem but things like these make the overall system look bad against the Sony Playstation 3. Another important point is the factor that you are stuck on the same hardware for years and without any upgrades on the Xbox 360. This is a problem especially as the hardware nears end of life, which should be 2011 or earlier. It's something to consider with any technology item but with a gaming console, it's a big investment of games that will also be outdated.

Overall, if you want to just play games and have the simplest access, I would recommend the Xbox 360, especially if you want to game in front of a big television on the couch. If you want a more personal experience, being able to install game modifications and upgrade your hardware as needed, go with the PC.

Again, it's a personal choice, neither is better or worse, and I enjoy both playforms. Just for my self, I usually like shooters and mmorpgs on the PC, driving games and rpg's on the console.

Banksy stencil graffiti

This weekend I found a book of graffiti art by Banksy of London. His graffiti art is really more stencils than free hand painting but very interesting to view. Most of it is done using large stencils and placing them in spots to interact with the surroundings. Such as mice playing ball with a sign above stating "No ball playing". his stencils are sometimes crude but they get the message across and his style is unmistakable.

While it's hard to choose just one, this is possibly my favorite Banksy painting.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Getting better

It's been a few weeks since my accident and my arm feels much better. Two weeks ago my doctor said my collar bone is healing fine and I can stop wearing the arm sling. It was the best news I heard in a while. :) It's still sore and I can't lift anything heavy, I'll need to take it easy for a while until I'm back at 100%.

Rechargeable batteries from eBay

Recently I bought a new video camera, and since the camera only comes with one battery, I bought a second as a backup. The batteries are very expensive, $150 each for the factory version. So I checked around and found on eBay they had the generic batteries available for $25 each. Normally I'm used to buying a generic battery that is maybe 1/2 or 1/4 the price of the oem, not 6 times cheaper. Basically this deal sounded too good.

Taking a chance, I bought two batteries from a 99.8% positive seller. The batteries arrived very shortly but they had some problems. First, the batteries were shipped without any padding in a regular shipping envelope. One of the batteries was broken inside, then the other had a cracked case. Inside the cracked case battery I found a no-name battery cells and a large piece of Styrofoam.

Now I haven't opened the oem battery yet but I am pretty sure it's built a bit better on the inside than this battery. If I could find a old oem battery for sale I wouldn't mind to take it apart and find out just how much they are built differently.

World of Warcraft after 70

After a long long time of playing my character in World of Warcraft, I finally achieved the final level of 70. While I didn't race through or play from 1-70 non-stop, it was still a large task getting there. My total played time was 20 days, which equals to 480 hours, or if I played 8 hours a day, 60 days. While it sounds like a long time, this is over almost 2 years.

Once at 70, you now can work on quests but instead of items or gold and experience points, you just receive items of gold. There are also other level 70 quests to complete but I haven't finished the rest of the normal quests yet. Honestly, I'm a bit tired of this character and interested to start playing more time on a priest class, maybe even on another server.

My bike rides so nice!

I've been riding around my bicycles, a 2004 Specialized Hardrock Pro in 17". I bought this bike a few years ago to start riding again and never owned a geared bike before. After riding it around I actually spent more time on the street than the dirt. On the street the bike rides nice but with the wide tires and big knobbies, it doesn't ride very smooth.

So the past weekend my bike was riding a bit rough, I think the gears felt like they needed adjustments, I brought the bike in for a free tune up. While getting the tune up I saw some new street tires and had them install the tires as well. They cost about $35 each, but they have built in armor against thorns which I really hate. Once I got the bike back, it rode so differently from before. With the new tires I could coast and roll much easier than before. Also the tires hold about 70~80psi, so they are easier to pedal than with my low pressure knobbier tires.

During the winter I want to buy a road bike but for now, I think my converted mountain bike will be a lot of fun.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Digital video

A few years ago I took a digital video class in college. I really liked the idea of recording and editing video but ran across a few problems. First problem was a few years ago, computers didn't have the performance to edit video that easily. Well, they could if you bought a very high performance computer but for me, my gaming pc still didn't have the power to edit anything at the time. Needless to say, I lost interest in video and ventured further with photography.

Now a few years later, I brought out my video camera again for some video projects with my friend Jeremy and making a few bike videos. With the new hard ware and faster processors, editing videos is much easier than before. Now I'm interested again with video to use in addition to photography.

Writing a script

I had a few ideas for a short movie but really don't know how to put it down on paper. After a while of researching on the Internet I found a few good resources about filming and writing scripts. Not sure just how far I could take my movie idea but it's small enough where a few friends could complete it and can budget for all of the funding myself.

Good script writing info

Screenwriting FAQ from

Final Draft script software

Standards for scripts

Of course, the script writing is only the beginning. There's a movie to be made as well.


Thursday, July 05, 2007


There is a local rc flying field in my area that I used to visit years ago. I haven't been there in a long time but I was always interested in watching the helicopters fly around. Unlike a plane they move like dragonfly, up and down, every direction possible. While I wanted to fly one, they were very expensive and hard to fly without crashing.

Recently there has been a rush of flying simulators, basically they are like a flying video game but with more details. At many hobby shops they have a demo of this flying simulator running with a controller. It's a lot of fun to fly the plane without the worry of crashing. It really makes a great chance to gain skills in a virtual world.

While flying around the helicopter in the flying simulator I was interested just how different it was from flying a plane or driving a rc car. I started to check pricing for a rc helicopter but really didn't want to spend a lot of money, and didn't want something very hard to fly.

Based upon these requirement a dual rotor electronic helicopter would be the best choice. With a dual rotor, the helicopter is much easier to fly and stable, also with the small size you can fly this in doors. Hopefully with the lighter weight, it means less to break is you crash but not sure about this.

While I haven't bought one I'm considering the E-Flight Blade CX2 ready to fly kit.

Review of the E-Flight Blade CX2

BMX History

One of the most interesting BMX related web sites I've found is VintageBMX, a visual history of BMX bikes and images. It's a vast collection of BMX bikes from the begging to the present day. If you ever ridden BMX in the past, you could spend a few minutes just finding your favorite old rides.

My dream bike

Speaking of vintage BMX bikes. When I was younger I only had a handful of bikes, a Huffy "Stingray" style bike, then a hand me down Mongoose complete with Motomags, a Open Road that was surprising nice even with 4130 frame, then my last ridden bike, a S&M Challenger. While out of all of the bikes, I ridden the Open Road the most. I used to ride 30 miles a day or more, and this was on a little single speed bike.

Of course I always wanted a better bike and there was one bike that really caught my eye. It was the late 1980's Haro Master. This bike at the time was the high tech freestyle machine. Basically if you couldn't do a trick on this bike, it wasn't the bike's fault.

I really remember this exact bike in this green color because there was a guy down my street who owned one. Now this wasn't a big deal, I've ridden with people who had nice bikes before but this was different. Each time I would ride to my friends house I would pass the guy's house, with the garage open each time. And each time the Haro would be sitting there in the garage unused.

Now it's one thing if your a collector but if your young and just letting a top of the line bike sit and collect dust in your garage, it's another. Each time I rode by I kept thinking how I was riding my cheap bike so much more and how I would appreciate a nice bike like that. Also I kept wondering if the bike meant anything to the guy, if he didn't even like riding at all? Why buy something so expensive if you never actually ride it?

As time went one, I experienced this over and over, either with cars, motorcycles or anything else of high value. Some people just buy the most expensive item but really don't use it to the full value, or they just never had interest. While others make due with what they are given and use it to the full amount. It's something to consider when you think your car isn't nice enough or your house is so small. There are many others who love a car instead of walking or a place to sleep at night. Be thankful for what you have.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Haven't updated the blog in a while, I was working on my final projects for school and finally graduated. While relaxing I ended up breaking my collar bone while riding at a bmx park. Actually crashed on a small dirt jump but slammed into the next jump, causing the break.

My crash and an update

It looks painful but I was lucky and it was more of a shock than anything. The first week was tough, just sleeping was hard but now it's more annoying wearing the sling. Hopefully I get healed up quick and back to normal status.

BMX history

I've been a fan of BMX bikes for a while. They were my first bike and did lots of riding when I was younger. I stopped riding around 1996 when it was harder and harder to find places to ride. Also I didn't know anyone who rode then, just myself, everyone was doing the car thing or just not interested in bikes.

So recently I been riding my mountain bike and found a few friends who started a street ride. I got to ride around San Jose, like we used to do when I was younger with my friends. Nothing much but riding around and having fun. Here's a short video I made of the ride.

After this ride, we ended up going to Pleasanton BMX park for the next ride. This was a lot of fun but I did more filming than actual riding. Here's another video of Pleasanton.

RC cars

Since I need to get some rest I bought a remote control truck. It's a Team Losi LST2, a nitro gas powered truck. It's really big 1/8 scale and tough but I have some issues with the truck starting. With nitro engines it's very picky on the jetting of the gas and other issues. So after a few hours of wondering why it won't start I found out that from the factory it's set incorrectly.

Finally I got it started but now it won't hold an idle. Researching on the Internet this seems like a common problem with nitro cars and basic learning experience. Hopefully I can get the truck running this weekend.

RAD the movie

If you never seen RAD it's a classic bmx movie from the 80's. Nothing is really special about this film but it's the bmx version of Thrashin that was a film all amount skateboarding. Recently I found the full version on the Internet and it's fun to rewatch the movie.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

So close

I'm getting very close to completing my degree at school. It's only three more weeks and I'll be done. Been going for a long time, and with work it's been hard to make extra time. After this I'm not sure what I'll do next but I do want to check out a 4 year university for further education. School is not my favorite place to be but I have learned a lot over the years and it has helped me succeeded at work.

Another problem

On Saturday I took my bike out for a short ride around town. While pulling out the garage I noticed some fluid on the front brake cable, which turned out to be brake fluid. It's not a serious leak but still important to fix. So today I visited my local Honda dealer and bought two washers for a CRF450 which are the same size as my bike. Now I am going to remove all of the fluid on the front brakes again, re-bleed, and hopfully they don't leak. It's a pain since the last time it took about 1 hour to get the brakes some what solid.

This is not a major problem but it's those little annoying problems with something used. Since I mostly do homework on the weekdays I spend my weekend working on the bike, which means less ride time for me. Hoping this is the last of the problems on the bike.


Just recently I watched the PBS series Auschwitz: Inside the Nazi State from Netflix on demand. It's a very well done series on the holocaust and just how did the Nazis kill so many people. While it was difficult to watch, I did learned more and had a few of my questions answered. Before I thought that the Nazis just started the anti-semitism just during the war but it was actually years before that the hate started in Germany. The series was also amazing to hear first hand experiences from prisoners and guards at Auschwitz. One of the most shocking scenes was an interview of the guard who expressed no remorse for what he did 60 years ago.

Ride to Mt. Hamilton

This past Thursday after work I met with a few friends for a ride to Mt. Hamilton. Of all the roads I have ridden, Mt. Hamilton is my least favorite. The road to the top is filled with very tight switch backs, gravel, and blind turns. Then factor in I crashed on this road before and got run off the road by another motorcyclist going the wrong way. Basically, it's a difficult road for me. On the way up I did pretty well, I only had two mistakes. First I target fixated on the side of the road after a turn and almost rode in the dirt, lucky for me it was only a second. Then while riding up a very steep switch back turn, I lost my balance for a second and put my foot down to catch myslef. Ironically, it was almost the same method how I crashed years earlier on the same road. Once I got to the top, it was a great feeling to once again complete this road. I'll continue to ride here as it gets easier each time.

Friday, April 20, 2007

I really really dislike cold weather

Since I'm starting to ride again I am finding out just how cold it is on a bike. Driving in a nice warm car is totally different from a motorcycle. Even with a leather jacket and a rain jacket, I was still very cold from a 1 hour ride. My fingers were numb, and the wind was blasting down the jacket. It's also hard to warm up again without a heater or something on a bike. It's a pain but it's a part of riding, you're in the weather and much closer to the elements than in a car.

What I might do is find a thicker riding jacket and use a tighter sweater under the jacket. I find that it's not so much the wind but actually the wind blowing into my jacket from the jacket not fitting perfect. Hopefully if I seal all of the air leaks it won't be as cold. They sell electric heated vests but I don't think I'll need something like that for now, the weather isn't that cold and summer is coming soon.

Did I buy the wrong bike?

After riding my motorcycle around more this week I'm starting to wonder if I bought the right bike. Ever since I sold my last motorcycle I was torn between buying another full street bike and something in between like a dual sport or motard style bike. Both bike styles have pros and cons but I'm finding out that on the freeway the motard is almost slow to the point it's unsafe. Just traveling down 880 I can just barley keep up with traffic and usually ride in the slow lane my whole trip at 70mph.

Now this doesn't sound too bad but considering the bike is almost at it's limit at 70mph, passing cars or just staying ahead of the slower traffic is a task. Even on my first bike, a Ninja 250 I never felt like I couldn't keep up with traffic. I was aware of this limit on these types of motorcycles but never realized just how much I ride on the freeway.

Just for fun I stopped at the local motorcycle shop after work today and just sat on a bunch of new bikes to get an idea of what would I buy if I sold this current bike. Not sure but I think I would get a super sport 600 or maybe another Ninja 250. I never had an in-line 4 motorcycle before and really interested in the high technology of the bike. At the same time, I enjoy the simple nature of the Ninja 250 and just how easy it was to ride.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Back to riding

I've been away from riding for over 2 years. Well to be more technical, I've not owned a motorcycle in over 2 years. I really never was away from riding.

When I first started riding street I rode a Ninja 250. It was so easy to ride, but after riding 6,000 miles in a few months I sold the bike and bought a SV650S (mostly based upon my friend’s recommendation). I’m not sure why but the SV650 didn’t feel as fun the 250. It was top heavy, big and didn’t have that easy to ride feeling, it was more like the bike was riding me. So after a year of riding just a few thousands miles, I sold the SV650 and didn’t buy another bike. The bike never felt fun like my 250, and after most of the friends faded from the interest of motorcycles, I followed the same path. As far as I knew I was done with riding.

While I didn’t own a motorcycle in those 2 years it was on my mind a lot. When people would ask where I took a photo, I would explain it was a seldom used road in the Woodside area I discovered on a motorcycle ride. If a motorcycle passed me on the freeway, I could tell which model it was and year. The conservation of how dangerous lane splitting was on a motorcycle I would explain a motorcyclist has more risk of getting rear ended than side swiped lane splitting. Even at a friend’s bbq I spoke with another motorcyclist and talked about some of my favorite roads near the coast.

After some time my interest in motorcycles was re-started. I began to read up on different types of motorcycles and decided to judge what would be fun to ride instead of what would be the fastest or best looking. What I wanted was something not too heavy, easy to ride and more suited for goat trails than high speed. The more research I did, the more and more I noted that a dual sport or supermotard style bike was closer to my needs. Since I had a slightly bad experience with my SV650S, I was very hesitant on buying another bike without a test ride, but didn’t know anyone who rode a supermotard bike.

While asking for comments on the DRZ, Andrew graciously allowed me to ride his DRZ supermotard to get an idea of how it felt. After a few minutes on the bike it felt so much easier to ride, just like a 250 but with big suspension. I began to look around for used DRZs and new DRZs, but the pricing was higher than expected, so I started the slow process of just saving up for a used bike. After saving for a while I saw a KTM for sale, it was the supermotard version and the price was in my range. Once I took the test ride, it felt just like Andrew’s DRZ but a bit more power. So, I took the plunge and bought the bike, once again returning to 2 wheels.

Coming back to riding feels strange, I have to re-think the roads more carefully and even what I can carry. The bike feels very easy to ride and light, like a jumbo 250 with more power and bigger tires. It’s such a difference between this bike and my previous SV in so many ways. I haven’t taken any back roads but on the streets it feels so solid and much more confidence inspiring. This bike is actually fun to ride, like my first bike, where I’m looking forward to coming home to ride it. After a few hundred miles I’ll post a ride review.

So, I’m back on 2 wheels but I really never left when I think about it, I was just looking for the right bike.


I've been playing less and less World of Warcraft, in fact I let my subscription expire this week. While I enjoy playing, my school is almost done and rather spend the time finishing homework instead of playing. After I'm done with school, which should be this next month I'll join my friends playing again.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Mortal Kombat

When I was younger I spent many hours at the arcade playing Mortal Kombat II. There was a pizza place near my home where I would play almost every day and even on the weekends. It's a fighting arcade game that was one of the first to use actual people instead of cartoons for character designs. Also it's known of the graphic Fatalities, which involve some method of killing the opponent at the end of fight.

While checking out some videos on Youtube, I found a Mortal Kombat II video of combos. I was able to complete a few combos my self but nothing like these ones.

Mortal Kombat II Combo video

Outlands and beyond

Finally made level 60 on my main World of Warcraft character this weekend. As soon as I got my new skills I ran out to the Outlands to check out the new content. So far the quests are reqarding with great items and just from a few hours of playing, replaced 4 items. The area is much different from the old areas, lots of new designs and even new mobs to fight. I'll post some pictures of the area.


Thursday, March 01, 2007

Leveling to 60

My World of Warcraft character is at 57, well technically 57 1/4. So far it feels like the quests are easier and I'm finishing about 4~5 a night, depending upon their location. Before at 40~50, the questing felt so slow, it took me almost a week or two to level, now it's about a week or shorter. At this rate I should be level 60 by mid March. I'm much slower than other players but I like to keep the playing time down to just a few hours a week. My rule is to only play during the week nights in rested XP, once I exceed this I stop playing. This works great since I'm making double the amount of regular XP and also it limits my playing time.

Blizzard's beta The Armory

Blizzard released a beta web site called The Armory which pulls information in real time from the World of Warcraft game servers. It's not a new idea, Everquest2 and other popular MMO games have been doing this for years. Also there has been un-offical utilities to do this as well, complete with web sites showing the new game items.

My favorite part of the new web site is the character page. Many times I tried to explain my character or copied the talent page link and send this to a friend. Now I can just copy my profile character page and send the link. This shows my character's stats, skills and any other important information.

Here's my main character, Joanda which I'm playing the most. I'm at 13 days played, and compared to other people am still not as fast for leveling. Some people can get to level 60 in 8 days played following a guide but I did a lot of exploring on this character.

Clapton Stratocaster

My friend brought in his 1980's Fender Eric Clapton Stratocaster. It's very similar to my green Stratocaster but feels nicer. The strings are lower to the frets and makes it easier to press the strings down, using less force. Also his guitar from years of playing, has a very smooth neck, almost glass like. I personally liked the shape of the neck, it's a "V" style which is different from the standard "C" shape but really perfer a stain paint finish over the glossy.

The pricing of this guitar is higher than the standard American Stratocaster, I think partly due to the Clapton name but it is a nice guitar. Personally, if I had a choice I would rather have this Ash Stratocaster instead, I really like the Cherry Sunburst color with rosewood fretboard the color looks amazing in person.


Monday, February 19, 2007

Playing the bass guitar

I've been shopping around for a nice electric bass guitar for the past few months. Just searching Craigslist and visiting local music stores to get an idea of what feels nice. A month ago I found a really nice Ibanez bass at my local music shop. It was on sale and went back twice to test the bass out, just to make sure it was the one I wanted. After playing the bass more on the second trip really found it wasn’t as great as I thought. The strings buzz slightly and for the money I could find something better.

A few weeks later I was visiting another local music shop and asked the owner for any cheap basses. He showed me a few, first was a no name brand Fender P-bass copy in sunburst for $99. The bass played really nice, felt very solid and had pretty good weight to it. The only slight downside to the bass was the sharp frets on the neck, but I think a simple setup could have fixed this issue.

The second bass I played was a used Ibanez Roadstar II from 1985 and was selling for $100. It was in used condition but still felt nice and broken in. The frets were smooth and only had slight wear to the bass, also it was made in Japan, something rare these days. So instead of the new bass for $99 I choose the used bass for $100.

After taking it home I felt the strings were too soft sounding. They were flatwounds and when playing don’t have the loud sound but a more soft jazzy sound. After a new set of strings the bass sounded great. Unfortunately I only had to listen to the bass through my headphones on a guitar amp.

Last week I finally bought a real bass amp, a small 75 watt Line 6 Studio 110. It’s actually very loud and for my needs is great. Also sounds much better in the headphones than my guitar amp did.

So after getting everything I needed I started to search around for bass instructions on the web. Here’s some that I found.

Fender Players Club bass lessons (decent amount of lessons for beginners to advanced players).

Active Bass (Lots of lessons and information about playing bass).

Guitar Noise Bass for Beginners Lessons (Good basic lessons on bass).


Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Gateway 24" widescreen monitor

Recently I've been looking for a monitor with a larger desktop than my current 19" LCD monitor. When I upgraded to an LCD monitor I was used to running high resolutions, typically 1600x1200 on a 19" CRT. On my notebook I also have a slightly higher resolution at 1400x1050, which is great for a 15" screen. The problem I ran into was the standard 19" LCDs where all in a low resolution of 1280x1024. Now this size is great for general use but found in applications with many windows or menus bars, it made the desktop very cluttered.

After the prices started to come down on 19" LCDs I bought a second monitor to run with the first one on my computer. Soon I was able to run an application in full screen while keeping another screen open for web browsing or typing notes. One problem with this configuration is gaming, for some reason most games had a problem running in Windowed mode, and the ones that did run had a much larger performance hit than running on one desktop.

So I switched back to one monitor and decided to wait until the 20" or 22" widescreen monitors dropped in price. In the past few months I saw the price of the of Dell 2407WFP 24" and the Gateway FPD2485W 24" monitors slowly lower to $680. Still too high but saw a web only pricing for the Gateway at a local electronics dealer and thought it was a good price. So hours later I was testing out the monitoring at home.

Just as soon as I got the monitor hooked up I installed the drivers and downloaded a few updated files for World of Warcraft. Running late for a dungeon run I didn't change the default settings on the monitor. After about 2 hours of playing, I was glad to say the monitor was actually very easy to change. I saw little if any decreased video performance jumping from the previous 1280x1024 to the higher 1920x1200. When taking a screenshot I did not a lag longer than before but after I checked the file sizes, each screen shot increased from 2.5mb to 5mb in size.

While it might not seem like a huge differnce in width from 1280 to 1920, it's an amazing amount of added view. Below is a screenshot from the dungeon, if you have played WoW before you know just how cluttered the gaming view can get, you need all of the extra desktop you can get.

One of the biggest selling points for me on this monitor is the ability to use HDTV, component, and composite inputs. Now I can remove my old tube tv and save some space as well as get a better picture. :) Tonight I'll test the monitor with my Playstation 2 using the component cables to see the quality difference on this monitor from my CRT television. I don't own any new game consoles or HD-DVD players so for now the PS2 will have to do.

Of course there are some problems with any item, this monitor not excluding. I found that while the colors were very bright and clear, there was a slight ghosting with very fast gaming movements. Only noticed this when I was actually looking for it, didn't bother me during actual gaming. Also with the overall size of the 24" monitor, the stand to hold it is larger than regular sized monitors. On my small home styled desk space is always an issue and lost some space with the larger stand but it's not a major issue.

Overall for the money, this is a nice monitor. For a multimedia system this monitor would make a nice mix with Media Center version of Windows, or any system with high resolution display. For a business solution, again this is good monitor since you can view two full pages side by side. Just personally but I perfer one larger monitor as to two smaller monitors. For the average pc gamer I think this is a good monitor but some of the faster games might not look as great. It's a trade off for the lower pricing, which I'm willing to accept.

Personal rating 4.5/5


Thursday, February 01, 2007

Grind to 60, or is it 70?

For the past year I've been on and off playing World of Warcraft, the popular MMORPG game. My main character is a undead female warlock with various lower level characters. Since starting this character last year I have taken time away from the game for school and work. Also while playing the game I like to explore the game world myself and not rely on game maps or web sites for hints.

After a few nights of wondering where that special animal or quest location is at I started to get very frustrated with this game (as you can tell I'm not good with maps). Not to mention I was moving so slowly up the levels it felt like I was taking forever.

After realizing just how slow this process is for leveling I decided to change my playing style using more help from guide books and leveling walk throughs. In the past few weeks I've been making a not so slow pace from 36 to my current level 49. I spend about 2~3 hours a few nights a week and at this pace I should be at 60 in a few weeks.

While 70 is the level cap, many friends say that at 60 you get to explore the new content which is more interesting to me than actually just getting max level. I would have really liked to see more new areas for mid level people like myself, such as a new dungeon or questing in a new land. Currently at level 49 the grind has become easier, I'm making a decent amount of gold each day but it's still hard to get to the top. Guess that's way they call it a grind. :)

Just for the people new to World of Warcraft here's some helpful web sites I've used in the past.

General Help (Information about World of Warcraft).

Questing Help (Both sites have quest information and item locations with maps for each).

Quest leveling walkthrough (If you want to level the fastest to 70).

World of Warcraft UI's (custom UI's for making the game easier such as maps, buttons).

Learning to play the bass.

I've been playing the guitar and learning basic chords, got a few down but I still need a lot of practice. Recently in the past few months I've been very interested in learning to play the bass guitar. It's hard to describe but the bass guitar is very different from the guitar in more ways that just tone or sound. The bass feels like you are playing a percussion instrument, like a drum set, where the guitar feels like you are singing or in a lead position of the music.

In the few months of playing I enjoy the guitar but it didn't feel right for some reason. Then I tried out a few bass guitars at the music shop and really liked the feeling of keeping a beat and deep low end sound. Just personally, I like drums and funk sounding beats from the late 70's like Sly and the Family Stone type stuff. It's different from a regular guitar, the strings are very thick, the bass guitar feels huge to a regular guitar and you usually play with your fingers than a pick but it's still a fun instrument to play.