Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Nintendo DS Lite

that is one sexy pocket-size device!

So I've decided to get the DS Lite when it comes out on June 11th. It's quite a nifty, little device, and it does have that Apple-design feel to it (iGameboy anyone?). But the main reason I've decided to finally get a DS big surprise here, the games! Despite the highly inferior technology of its graphics components (basically two N64 GPUs), it's a profit-making machine for the Big N. What's it got that the PSP doesn't have? I'll say it again...Games. There are lots of incredible games for the clamshell handheld. For the DS, I'm planning on getting New Super Mario Bros, Brain Age, and Mario Kart DS. I'll probably pick up the stylus-only controlled Zelda Phantom Hourglass when it comes out at the end of the year. In comparison,Sony's sleek, pocket-sized paperweight has a very limited amount of titles I'd be interesting in playing, let alone buying.

So when the news hit that the new Nintendo DS Lite was coming out for only $129 on June 11th, I was pretty excited. The thing is, I'm gonna be in Vegas that weekend. No problem, right. I tried pre-ordering it from EBGames. No deal. Turns out you have to actually go to the store you're going to pick it up at. I was kinda disappointed, because I know how quickly these things flew off the shelves in Japan this past March. And just when I gave into the fact that I might have to wait a couple more weeks for something that was probably already in the back of retailer storage rooms, news broke out about the "broken street date" fiasco.

The general routine when any big product is released works like this: The manufacturer (Nintendo) usually ships their product (DS Lite) to the larger retailers (Target, Wal-mart) a few weeks early. The stores are then supposed to sit on the products until the official street date, upon which time they can sell like crazy. Usually there are heavy financial penalties associated with breaking this contract and selling early. I remember when this happened to bookstores that sold advanced copies of Harry Potter. The stores actually asked the customers to return them after that (c'mon, that's pretty ridiculous!).

Well, as it turns out, today it was reported (by various ppl across the country..see frappr map) that various Target and Wal-mart stores were selling the DS Lite early (11 days early, in fact). I did my best to try and snag one up myself, but I guess the employees at the store I went to were more competent. Either that or I just wasn't as lucky as some other fortunate souls out there. If you want to know how "competent" we're talking about, here's a posted conversation someone had with a Wal-Mart worker drone:

me: Did you guys get the ds lite?
walmart: Look over there
/me looks at DSL routers perplexed
me: Not DSL products, the >NINTENDO<>
walmart: what is that?
me: Its like that thing right there *points at fat ds*, but newer... It's called a nintendo DS LITE
walmart: all DSL products are over there.
/me leaves

Well, 'nuff said. I think that answers a lot of my questions. Here's to lining up at Fry's!

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

My Own Lost Theories and General Predictions

These are some of my theories for Lost, made one day before the Season 2 Finale, for Season 3 and beyond. I just thought it would be fun to post some crazy theories now, and then take a look at how they stand up at the end of Season 3 next year (kinda like this post). Well, here goes...

Disclaimer: The ideas below were formulated with the knowledge of all the episodes up until the end of Season 2. For this reason, the following may contain spoilers...

- The sickness that Danielle speaks of is not a biological sickness in the normal sense, but rather a mental sickness. The visions that the Losties that have seen on the island (jack's Dad, Kate's horse, Hurley's friend Dave) are examples of this mental illness. However, the Others are using some method of psychic communication to influence the Losties' actions, by sending images into their minds.

- If the button is not pushed, an incredibly strong magnetic field is generated in the Station 3 bunker. This magnetic field has the power to lure airplanes, boats, or anything else in the general vicinity, into crashing onto the island. We will come to find out that Desmond did indeed forget to enter the numbers once, and that event directly coincides with Oceanic Filght 815's tragic crash.

- Walt is being trained to hone his psychic abilities. He has many abilities, including remote-viewing (can see into the future, ie: see that the hatch shouldn't be opened), he can give the Losties visions (Shannon seeing Walt in the jungle telling her to be quiet), and he also has the ability to will events to occur just by thinking about them (the bird hitting the window). For obvious reasons, the Others will never give up Walt. Therefore, either Michael must join the Others and their experiment/research group, or he will be killed off (since the Losties will never be able to trust him again).

- All the inhabitants are slowly being divided into two camps: good and evil. This war has been going on long before the Losties ever came to the island; even before Rousseau was shipwrecked. Both sides have been trying to build its sides up by using any newly stranded survivors brought to the island. Maybe both groups have their own ideas for how to best save humanity, which is why they are manipulating and testing everyone, to see where they might stand before actually explaining the situation to them. The smoke monster/security system could have been created as an automated way of weeding out certain types of people, but now no one has control over it anymore.

- The flashbacks are actually implanted memories (psychic or otherwise), created by Dharma/The Others to shape the Losties' beliefs of who they are and how they should likely act. Those survivors that break free from their mold and can get past their perceived problems are deemed too strong willed, which is why they are killed off. The "good" people are the ones that fit the Other's ideals and would eventually add something to their community. Much like the later Matrix movies, people are given a choice in the world, but they are ultimately being controlled.

Well, those are some of my big-picture theories that I've pieced together from the multitude of theories floating around out there. Not that i think they are all true and that they all work together somehow. I just wanted to create as vivid and over-the-top ideas as I could, but while still maintaining faintly plausible scenarios, based on what we have seen so far in the first two seasons (minus the Season 2 Finale).

And for a few slightly more out there theories...

- Jack's Dad, Christian Shephard, is actually alive on the island, and he is also the "Him" (ie: leader of the Others) that Henry Gale was referring to.

- The Losties are really just clones in an experiment. This is would actually go hand in hand with the implanted memories theory mentioned earlier, and also explains why there are so many flashback crossovers among all the Losties (because they actually share some similar memories).

- No, they are not in purgatory. No, they are not already dead. No, the whole thing isn't playing out inside the delusional mind of a mentally retarded person in some hospital.

- No, the creators are not making it all up as they go along. =)

Friday, May 19, 2006

Fast Food Nation

The completely eye-opening, true story of the fast food industry. Looks like it's being turned into a movie drama. If you want a good non-fiction read, pick up the book by Eric Schlosser. It will help shed some light on the ugly world of the fast food industry.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Bush's Approval Rating Remains Strong on eBay

The White House reports today that President Bush continues to enjoy a 94% positve feedback rating on eBay. Something no modern U.S. President has been able to achieve in or out of office. Press Secretary Tony Snow told reporters that the President recently received an "A" rating, followed by an unprecedented eleven plus signs.

"U.S. eBay users know this is a President you can trust. Who's gonna package your goods with care. He's gonna send 'em via UPS. In a timely manner."

However, the President's critics say they are still waiting on a collection of miniature glass owls they bought in March and have not yet received.

~ taken from The Onion Radio News podcast

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

My Very Own Cryptex

I just got my free cryptex in the mail for the Da Vinci Code Quest contest. It's actually pretty cool. It's has some weight to it, and feels like some sort of metal. There are five plastic, alphabetic dials that run around the cylinder.

My roommate and I were fiddling around with it, trying out various combinations like "Vinci," when Josh began to test out the reverse ("icnvi") and suddenly it opened.

Turns out, only the last two reels had any sort of locking mechanism on them, and the combination needed was "_,_,_,I,L". (Edit: I looked inside and noticed that indeed, each of the reels had a notch cut out to represent a five letter combination. The entire code is "ORJIL".)

Inside is a tiny scroll of paper with the following inscription:

you have proven worthy of the Da Vinci Code Quest on Google, visit to see if your journey continues.

But the contest doesn't really start until May 19th (opening day for the movie), so I guess I will have to wait to begin the final round. All in all, even though the majority of the puzzles weren't exactly challenging, I think it was worth doing just to get this "Easter egg" cryptex in the mail.

* pics courtesy of my somewhat new Sony Ericsson W600i

Look how small it is! Alas.. no sign of a even smaller cryptex or gurgling glass bottle of vinegar inside. Oh well.

Update: I looked inside and noticed that indeed, each of the reels had a notch cut out to represent a five letter combination. The entire code is "ORJIL". I think it was supposed to actually read "GRAIL". Perhaps the rumors on the googlefact blog were correct in stating that it was a manufacturing error.

Show Your Work

Click the image to view..

Monday, May 15, 2006

The Da Vinci Code Quest Finalists Announced

Freakin' sweet! I'm a finalist. Though some may be contemplating how much the cryptex replica will snag on ebay, I will be saving mine. Congratulations to all the winners. And good luck on the final round.

Here's a link to the congratulatory video from Ian Mc Kellen and a special sneak peek of the making of the Da Vinci Code movie:

Friday, May 12, 2006

Why the World Needs the Big Three

In a perfect world, progress continues without the presence of competition. Innovation comes naturally. Prices remain modest and products are affordable. Old and stagnant ideas are replaced by new and exciting developments. But we do not live in a pefect world and so such struggles do not always occur so easily.

But there is still hope for the video game world. With a market that rakes in over $30 billion a year, there's plenty of the pie to go around. And with this latest E3 showing, we can clearly see the three major game companies are here to stay for at least this generation, and hopefully the next. But why do we need three different console manufactures with three partially-overlapping game libraries?

The answer is simple.

Diversity. Innovation. Competitive pricing. All these qualities come from the saturated video games market. Imagine if there was only Nintendo. Sure, there would still be plenty of innovation. But the push for next-gen graphics would take an extreme backseat. Mature content would limited, which would severely limit the overall user base and key video game demographic (males age 18-25). GTA and Metal Gear Solid would be replaced by cute and cuddly. Trust me, even the most loyal of Nintendo fanboys do get tired of the endless stream of Mario-inspired games that include his cast of merry friends and enemies.

What if Sony was actually did drive all its competitors out of the business with its all encompasing Playstation system? We would still have lots of third-party software developers, but we'd also probably have very few exciting and new game mechanics. We'd probably also have the same game hardware for several years longer. And you can expect we'd also be still waiting for an online answer to what pc gaming has had for years.

Now, take Microsoft's XBox system. Yes, it has a terrific online component in XBox Live. Yes, it definetely appeals to an older age group than Sony and Nintendo. But it also has that distinctive PC feeling to it. The original XBox was in fact, a plastic box with off-the-shelf PC components inside. It may just be too prematrue to draw conclusions from Microsoft's comparably short game console history, but XBox's software hits have for the most part been few and far between. 90% of XBox owners might have bought the fabled Halo 2, but then again, they didn't call it the Halo-Box for nothing.

All three complement each other nicely. They keep each other in check as well. Almost like some weird, capitalist "Separation of Powers". Each with their own advantages and disadvantages. Far from stagnant, the game industry is swiftly moving ahead into the HD era. It's a world of 1080p resolution, built-in wi-fi, harddrive storage, motion sensitive controllers, and of course, yearly EA game sequels.

Truely, there's something for everyone. So hold off on that mutual fund a bit longer. Let your World of Warcraft characters rest a bit. This is the year of the Big Three. So, aren't you glad you can take your pick?